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Can IMCTC Become the “Islamic NATO”?

What are the realistic prospects for the success of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition?




Alliance is an active agent in the realm of International Relations and perhaps forms the core of the field in its practical manifestation. Mainly created to cater the mutual needs of many countries, the world has witnessed unions of even the most unlikely states. Military alliance however, is a composed term and the aim reflects the term itself – national security of oneself (and other included partners) through mutual intelligence sharing and armed training or operations.

Different situations though out history have resulted in numerous alliances but the most recent shift in shaping a new worldly alliance has been in the Middle East driven by the oil -rich Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Taking the leader’s role in the Middle East and the much larger Islamic world in particular, the state’s then young Defense minister and now Crown Prince Salman Al Saud announced the formation a thirty four state Islamic Military Alliance. The Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition(IMCTC) is set to be launched on Sunday.

Amid the simmering Saudi-Iran rivalry, the coalition has gained much-needed attention but before delving into that, let’s shed light on the happenings in the past.

Apart from the inter-regional clashes like the Gulf War back in the decades, the Middle Eastern countries stayed rather calm and worked on maintaining their ties until their involvement in proxy wars and funding of rebel and extremists Sunni groups started to cause some internal infections.

Major chunk of funding to the Islamic State was made by the Saudis and company while Qatar supported Muslim Brotherhood in the region. The unnoticed internal swellings within the Arab world first showed in Tunisia from where the “Arab Spring” started to unfold in later part of 2010 and start of 2011 due to which countries like Syria and Libya have been turned into ruins.

To maintain the order within the Gulf states and to surf the tidal wave of Arab Spring , the  already existing solely GCC oriented “Peninsula Shield Force” was called in by Bahrain to assist in maintaining its security , this was the force’s latest  deployment since the year 2003 in Kuwait .

Existence of this force indigenous to the Gulf States now seems inadequate to deal the threat present at large. These   foreign  funded elements fueled sectarian divide within other countries including Pakistan in pervious, during the Arab Spring to escalate the government and civilian clashes and  now are active on multiple fronts including those in Yemen, Iraq, Iran and against Assad in Syria. Former   intelligence chief Prince Bandar played risky cards in support of Nusra Front in Syria then still growing Islamic State of Iraq with intentions to promote Sunni version of Islam and to form favored governmental blocks only to later realize the extent of the extremist mindset and vision to revive Caliphate across the Muslim world and their aversion of the West. After Yemen intervention and Saudi’s vow to topple Assad, bordering Saudi cities were targeted by ISIS to which the response was a massive counterterrorism force.

With reverses and setbacks for Riyadh and its allies in Syria and Iraq, the alliance will have its work cut out, especially given the very many challenges that the alliance faces even before its formal launch.

By forming such an alliance Saudi’s prime objective to expand and maintain its dominance in the region can be entertained along with the export of its Sunni version of Islam, and to deal with terrorism within the country and the Islamic world at large since now the Kingdom seems to understand the scale of the threat.

The stance itself speaks of sudden awaking by the Arab States after the spill of their  proxy games have turned the tables .To prepare their forces for extreme action Saudi Arabia hosted a 20 nation military drill in King Khalid Military city joined in by Arab and other Muslim countries including Pakistan. Dubbed as “North Thunder” it is term as the largest military exercise to have ever taken place in the region and Saudis later called for making a force similar to NATO. The military spending by the Arab states might be for the greater good but the economies of the oil rich states are already feeling the heat.

Practically the concept of forming a force like NATO should serve the intentions of Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries but the viability in foreseeable future seem to be dim. The provided list of counties included in the military alliance- one exclude any majority Shia state , second- not all agree  on the extent of military interventions under any  circumstances ,thirdly- some of the included African states are not majority  Muslim states but most importantly is the vague definition and acts considered as terrorism. The jurisdiction of this force is another serious question that needs working so by now the” whom”, “when” and the “how” have not been seriously addressed which leaves question marks on the idea itself.

IMCTC is being led by Pakistan’s decorated former Army Chief, General Raheel Sharif. The four-infantry general, cognizant of his country’s delicate balancing act has made it clear that he won’t be part of a force targeting one country.

Pakistan’s position among the alliance itself is outstanding as the country has dealt with interstate terrorism on a massive scale and owns unmatched nuclear assets and is on the verge of untangling the sectarian clashes, so experience here is a bonus point for Pakistan, giving it an important edge in the 41-member alliance.

Unlike NATO countries which practice “separation of the church and state” rule in their military workings, the Islamic military coalition cannot overcome the religious element which still resides even in the O.I.C.

Here comes the very basic feature of a state functioning – its foreign policy. Case in point can be Pakistan’s refusal to become a member of the Saudi led coalition force and its military intervention in Yemen. Pakistan and few other states maintained their distance and called for peaceful dialogs as for most the Yemen’s situation was an internal matter, also Yemen itself can be studied as a case in point of full scale military intervention in any other state. Given the possible chance that sound guidelines and clauses are set out in order to avoid any unnecessary military involvement, any state still can object to the matter and chose to withdraw owing to its policies. Pakistan’s decision against military intervention in any state is a safe stance but not the same can be said for the other members. Formation of such an alliance would also mean an end to proxy wars against other member states. However, this feature is at odds with the states’ grandiose designs in the region.

NATO over the years has evolved into a mature organization but the formation of Islamic NATO will require clean chits by every member state along with vow of full cooperation including efforts of narrowing down the religious divide. But the behavior by GCC members with Iran and its exclusion from the coalition casts dark shadow on the very intention of the force itself.  Most members in coalition’s list have internal troubles, be it Turkey against PKK, the intra-GCC tiff; rest of the members against the almost-finished ISIS  or even Boko Haram. Moreover, each member also supports rebel elements for personal advantage , hence with this dreadful situation on ground,  working of an Islamic force will hardly be effective in the near future. Also, Pakistan has categorically denounced taking sides in the rivalry and is even bolstering ties with Iran. It deprives the alliance of the services of the best fighting force from within the coalition

By the look of things, Iran appears to be the prime target of the alliance, especially given that the ISIS has been virtually defeated. Also, the unqualified support given by President Trump earlier this year during the Riyadh Summit and the desire on part of Saudi Arabia to bleed Iran and its proxies has meant that the IMCTC will most likely be used to take the Saudi-Iranian to another level.

However, the composition, the military strength, the infighting and also a stronger enemy will most likely preclude its success.

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Media meltdown hits stupid levels as Trump and Putin hold first summit (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 58.

Alex Christoforou



It was, and still remains a media meltdown of epic proportions as that dastardly ‘traitor’ US President Donald Trump decided to meet with that ‘thug’ Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Of course these are the simplistic and moronic epitaphs that are now universally being thrown around on everything from Morning Joe to Fox and Friends.

Mainstream media shills, and even intelligent alternative news political commentators, are all towing the same line, “thug” and “traitor”, while no one has given much thought to the policy and geo-political realities that have brought these two leaders together in Helsinki.

RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou provide some real news analysis of the historic Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki, without the stupid ‘thug’ and ‘traitor’ monikers carelessly being thrown around by the tools that occupy much of the mainstream media. Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

And if you though that one summit between Putin and Trump was more than enough to send the media into code level red meltdown, POTUS Trump is now hinting (maybe trolling) at a second Putin summit.

Via Zerohedge

And cue another ‘meltdown’ in 3…2…1…

While arguments continue over whether the Helsinki Summit was a success (end of Cold War 2.0) or not (most treasonous president ever), President Trump is convinced “The Summit was a great success,” and hints that there will be a second summit soon, where they will address: “stopping terrorism, security for Israel, nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks, trade, Ukraine, Middle East peace, North Korea and more.”

However, we suspect what will ‘trigger’ the liberal media to melt down is his use of the Stalin-esque term “enemy of the people” to describe the Fake News Media once again…


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While US seeks to up the ante on pressure on the DPRK, Russia proposes easing sanctions

These proposals show the dichotomy between the philosophy of US and Russian foreign policy



The United States last week accused the DPRK of violating refined petroleum caps imposed as a part of UN nuclear sanctions dating back to 2006, and is therefore submitting a proposal to cut all petroleum product sales to North Korea.

The Trump administration is keen on not only preserving pressure on North Korea over its nuclear arms development, but in increasing that pressure even as DPRK Chairman, Kim Jong-Un, is serially meeting with world leaders in a bid to secure North Korea’s security and potential nuclear disarmament, a major move that could deescalate tensions in the region, end the war with the South, and ease global apprehensions about the North’s nuclear arsenal.

Meanwhile, Russia is proposing to the UNSC sanctions relief in some form due to the North’s expressed commitment to nuclear disarmament in the light of recent developments.

Reuters reports:

MOSCOW/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Russia’s envoy to North Korea said on Wednesday it would be logical to raise the question of easing sanctions on North Korea with the United Nations Security Council, as the United States pushes for a halt to refined petroleum exports to Pyongyang.

“The positive change on the Korean peninsula is now obvious,” said the ambassador, Alexander Matsegora, according to the RIA news agency, adding that Russia was ready to help modernize North Korea’s energy system if sanctions were lifted and if Pyongyang can find funding for the modernization.

The U.N. Security Council has unanimously boosted sanctions on North Korea since 2006 in a bid to choke off funding for Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, banning exports including coal, iron, lead, textiles and seafood, and capping imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products.

China tried late last month to get the Security Council to issue a statement praising the June 12 Singapore meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and expressing its “willingness to adjust the measures on the DPRK in light of the DPRK’s compliance with the resolutions.”

North Korea’s official name is Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

But the United States blocked the statement on June 28 given “ongoing and very sensitive talks between the United States and the DPRK at this time,” diplomats said. The same day, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi about the importance of sanctions enforcement.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due to informally brief U.N. Security Council envoys along with South Korea and Japan on Friday.

Diplomats say they expect Pompeo to stress the need to maintain pressure on North Korea during his briefing on Friday.

In a tweet on Wednesday Trump said he elicited a promise from Russian President Vladimir Putin to help negotiate with North Korea but did not say how. He also said: “There is no rush, the sanctions remain!”

The United States accused North Korea last week of breaching a U.N. sanctions cap on refined petroleum by making illicit transfers between ships at sea and demanded an immediate end to all sales of the fuel.

The United States submitted the complaint to the U.N. Security Council North Korea sanctions committee, which is due to decide by Thursday whether it will tell all U.N. member states to halt all transfers of refined petroleum to Pyongyang.

Such decisions are made by consensus and some diplomats said they expected China or Russia to delay or block the move.

When asked on June 13 about whether sanctions should be loosened, Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said: “We should be thinking about steps in that direction because inevitably there is progress on the track that should be reciprocal, that should be a two-way street. The other side should see encouragement to go forward.”

The proposals of both the United States and Russia are likely to be vetoed by each other, resulting no real changes, but what it displays is the foreign policy positions of both nuclear powers towards the relative position of the DPRK and its rhetorical move towards denuclearization. The US demonstrates that its campaign of increased pressure on the North is necessary to accomplishing the goal of a denuclearized Korean peninsula, while Russia’s philosophy on the matter is to show a mutual willingness to follow through on verbal commitment with a real show of action towards an improved relationship, mirroring on the ground what is happening in politics.

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Europe divided over possible trade compromise with Trump

Even if a European proposal could score a trade cease fire, the war isn’t over



US President Donald Trump has just lectured NATO on it member’s commitment performance and held a controversial meeting with the Russian President Vladimir Putin and is next week to receive EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, with trade matters being high up on the agenda.

Juncker is expected to present Trump with a package of proposals to help smooth relations and potentially heal areas of division, particularly those surrounding Europe’s trade relationship with America. Those proposals are precisely what is cropping up as another area of divergence between some members of the EU, specifically France and Germany, just after a major contention on migration has been driving discord within the Union.

This gets down to whether Europe should offer concessions to Trump on trade while Trump is admittedly describing the Union as a ‘foe’ and has initiated a trade spat with the Union by assessing trade tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Europe, spurring retaliatory tariff measures from the EU Commission.

France, specifically, is opposed to any sort of compromise with Trump on the matter, where Trump is perceived as an opponent to the Union and its unity, whereas Germany is economically motivated to seek an end to the trade dispute under the threat of a new round of tariffs emanating from the Trump administration, and is therefore seeking to find some sort of proposal that Trump will accept and therefore back down on his protectionism against the EU, and Germany in particular.

Politico reports:

Only a week before European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker flies to Washington, France and Germany are divided over how much he should offer to U.S. President Donald Trump to end a deepening trade war, say European diplomats and officials.

But, they add, Germany has the upper hand. Berlin is shaping Juncker’s agenda, suggesting three offers that he could take to Trump on July 25 to resolve the dispute, according to people familiar with the plans.

The French are uneasy about the wisdom of such a conciliatory approach, however, and publicly accuse Trump of seeking to splinter and weaken the 28-member bloc, which he has called his “foe.”

Despite Paris’ reservations about giving away too much to the increasingly hostile U.S. president, the diplomats say that the European Commission’s powerful Secretary-General Martin Selmayr supports the German attempt at rapprochement, which makes it more likely that Juncker will offer some kind of trade fix next week.

“It’s clear that Juncker can’t go to Washington empty-handed,” one diplomat said. He stressed that Juncker’s proposals would be a political signal to Washington and would not be the formal beginning of negotiations, which would have to be approved by EU countries.

European ambassadors will meet on Wednesday to discuss the scope of Juncker’s offer — and indeed whether any offers should be made at all. France’s official position is that Europe must not strike any deal with a gun to its head, or with any country that has opted out of the Paris climate accord, as Trump’s America has done.

While Berlin is terrified by the prospect of 20 percent tariffs on cars and is desperate for a ceasefire deal, France has more fundamental suspicions that the time for compromise is over and that Trump simply wants to destroy EU unity. Paris is concerned that Trump’s next target is its sacred farm sector and is putting more emphasis on the importance of preserving a united political front against Washington.

Two diplomats said Berlin has a broad menu of offers that should be made to Trump: a bilateral deal to cut industrial tariffs, a plurilateral agreement to eliminate car duties worldwide, and a bigger transatlantic trade agreement including regulatory cooperation that potentially also comes with talks on increasing U.S. beef exports into Europe.

Making such generous offers is contentious when Trump crystallized his trade position toward Brussels on CBS news on Sunday: “I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade. Now, you wouldn’t think of the European Union, but they’re a foe.”

This undiplomatic bombshell came not long after he reportedly advised French President Emmanuel Macron to quit the EU to get a better trade deal than he was willing to offer the EU28.

In announcing Juncker’s visit on Tuesday, the White House said that he and Trump “will focus on improving transatlantic trade and forging a stronger economic partnership.”

Talking to the enemy

Diplomats note that a French-led camp in Brussels reckons Trump’s goals are strategic, and that he’s not after the sort of deal Germany is offering.

A French government official said that Washington quite simply wants to shift the EU off the stage: “Trump’s objective is that there are two big blocs: The United States and China. A multipower world with Europe as a strong player does not fit in.”

France’s Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire this month also issued a stark warning that Trump is seeking to drive a wedge between France and Germany — courting Paris, while simultaneously attacking Berlin’s trade surplus with the U.S. “In this globalized world, European countries must form a bloc, because what our partners or adversaries want is to divide us,” Le Maire said at an economic conference in Aix-en-Provence. “What the United States want, that’s to divide France and Germany.”

Despite these remarks from Le Maire, Anthony Gardner, former ambassador to the EU under the Barack Obama administration, said that he suspects the full magnitude of the threat has not sunk in. “Europe wake up; the U.S. wants to break up the EU,” he tweeted on Sunday. “Remember Belgium’s motto: L’union fait la force. [Unity creates strength]. Especially on trade. No side deals.”

One EU diplomat insisted that Brussels is not blind to these dangers in the run-up to Juncker’s visit.

Trump thinks that Europe is “too big to be controllable by DC, so it’s bad for America. Simple logic. And therefore the only deal that will bring the president to stop the trade war is the deal that breaks up the European market. I don’t quite think that’s the legacy Juncker is aiming for,” the diplomat said.

Europe is source of a deep frustration for Trump, as it runs a massive goods surplus with the U.S., at $147 billion in 2016. In particular, the U.S. president blames Germany’s mighty car exporters for this imbalance.

Leveling the field is not easy, however. With its market of 510 million consumers, Europe not only has the clout to stand up to the United States, but is increasingly setting global standards — particularly on food. This not only limits U.S. exports in Europe but also means that the European model is used in a broader trading ecosystem that includes Canada, Mexico and Japan.

New world order

Marietje Schaake, a liberal Dutch member of the European Parliament, observed that the U.S. trade strategy meshed with Trump’s political agenda.

“You could say there’s a new transatlantic relation emerging, of nationalists, populists and protectionists,” she said, pointing out that Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin has cast doubt on America’s commitment to supporting European security.

Trump’s opposition to the EU partly builds on an long-standing American discomfort about the EU’s economic policies.

“We already saw problems during the negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, where the U.S. didn’t like EU demands such as on geographical indications [food name protections], and certainly didn’t like that we had ambitious requests in areas like public procurement,” said Pascal Kerneis, managing director of the European Services Forum and a member of the now defunct TTIP advisory group.

Kerneis said that Trump’s trade attacks are shifting the tensions to a completely new level: “He’s attacking on all fronts, hoping to break our unity, particularly between Germany and France.”

France particularly fears that Trump’s duties on Spanish olives could only be the first salvo on Europe’s whole system of farm subsidies.

EU lawmaker Schaake said that France is right to worry about a conflagration. “Once we give in in one area, he will attack at the next one,” she said. “If we allow Trump to play Europeans against each other, sector by sector, it will be a losing game.”

Even if Europe goes about capitulating to Trump’s gripes about the Union, whether it gets back to NATO defense spending or the trade deficit, the question remains whether this will satiate Trump’s political appetite and result in an improved trade perspective and politically acceptable position with Washington, and France’s concern that the matter runs deeper and has a foreign policy agenda behind it, and that caving to Trump’s pressure will only end in defeat for the EU would therefore appear reasonable.

But Germany is staring down the barrel of a possible new round of tariffs that would hurt some of their largest industries and is therefore under a lot of pressure to find a solution, or at least some sort of agreement that could deescalate the situation.

However, Germany’s recent record of resolving international issues is such that Germany is really only scoring cease fire agreements, rather than ending the real political conflicts, referring mainly to the immigration issue which recently resulted only in diffusing some inter Union tensions, but without resolving the problem itself.

In this context, Germany could promise the moon and stars to Trump, possibly avert further trade tensions, but yet fail to address the core political and trade conflicts that have already broken out. Essentially, then, such a compromise would only serve to function as damage control, while leaving Germany and the Union at a further disadvantaged political position relative to the States at the political table.

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