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Port Wars: Iran’s Chabahar and Pakistan’s Gwadar port compliment one another

The highly-touted Chabahar-Gwadar rivalry has no grounds.

Syed Ali Zia Jaffery

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India launched a new conduit for trade with Afghanistan when it shipped 1.1 million tons of wheat to Afghanistan from the western seaport of Kandla via Iran’s strategic Chabahar port. The move will witness the use of the port for the first time and would likely have geopolitical ramifications as the port, given its proximity (72km) to the Gwadar port, is widely believed to be an agent for further geopolitical tiffs.

The consignment was sent off by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani through a joint video conference. In a statement in relation to the event, Ms. Swaraj called it a landmark. “The shipment of wheat is a landmark moment as it will pave the way for operationalization of the Chabahar port as an alternative, reliable and robust connectivity for Afghanistan.

Will the US oppose Chabahar out of sheer spite for Iran like it is opposing CPEC out of competition with China? The answer to this question may determine how things pan out in the near future.

It will open up new opportunities for trade and transit from and to Afghanistan and enhance trade and commerce between the three countries (India, Iran, and Afghanistan) and the wider region.”

Read more: Chabahar: A new transit route

Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to congratulate Iran and Afghanistan on what many are calling as a momentous occasion. “I congratulate Afghanistan and Iran on Indian wheat shipment being flagged off from Kandla to Afghanistan through Chabahar,” Modi added that this development opens a new chapter in cooperation and connectivity.

I congratulate Afghanistan & Iran on Indian wheat shipment being flagged off from Kandla to Afghanistan through Chabahar.

This development marks a new chapter in regional cooperation & connectivity.

The development comes on the heels of intense geopolitical strides and activities in the region: the entangled USA is up against the ever-burgeoning China. Russia is relaunching itself in the region, while India as a veritable U.S. ally is spreading its tentacles in Afghanistan, much to the chagrin of Islamabad.

According to watchers and experts, the opening of the Chabahar port is indicative of two things: a firm commitment on part of India to extend support to Afghanistan and the fact that the port will be put into greater use owing to Pakistan’s refusal to allow overland rights.

Read more: CPEC Projects are moving ahead of time, Chinese Ambassador

The US has not denounced the Chabahar port or growing Indo-Iran ties, there is a great deal of worry that the unending animosity between Iran and the US may go on to impede the smooth operation of the Chabahar port.

Writing for The Hindu, senior journalist, Suhasini Haidar said that India turned down Gen. Bajwa’s offer of talks on transit trade with Afghanistan. The 4-star general reportedly offered this to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani during his visit to Kabul earlier this month while discussing the renewal of Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) which lapsed in 2015.

“At this, the Pakistani Army Chief offered to talk about the transit trade issues with Indian officials,” said a diplomat privy to the talks, adding that General Bajwa reportedly said, “Ask the Indian side to speak to us and we will try and sort it out.” The India MEA did not see it as a real offer while saying India had little to do with it.

The reported snub shows the level of distrust between India and Pakistan. This is more noteworthy given the fact that U.S. top diplomat, Rex Tillerson also alluded at ways to lessen tensions between the two countries. Last week, Mr. Tillerson said he had told the Pakistani Prime Minister Abbasi and General Bajwa, that his trip was also to “talk about how can we lower the tensions on the border with India.” However, experts are mindful of the fact that Tillerson’s deft diplomacy, despite being much-needed will draw Delhi’s ire.

The opening of the Chabahar port is indicative of two things: a firm commitment on part of India to extend support to Afghanistan and the fact that the port will be put into greater use owing to Pakistan’s refusal to allow overland rights.

However, seemingly India has prepared to trade in spite of overland access. “The two foreign ministers welcomed the fact that this is the first shipment that would be going to Afghanistan through the Chabahar port after Trilateral Agreement on Establishment of International Transport and Transit Corridor was signed during the visit of the Prime Minister of India to Iran in May 2016,” the MEA statement said.

Read more: How is the government confusing all of us on CPEC?

Though the US has not denounced the Chabahar port or growing Indo-Iran ties, there is a great deal of worry that the unending animosity between Iran and the US may go on to impede the smooth operation of the Chabahar port.

Pakistan must not Worry

According to common perceptions, Chabahar port is deemed as a rival to the Gwadar port and hence many are of the of the opinion that Pakistan must be geared against it. However, veteran Pakistani diplomat, Shamshad Ahmad Khan disagrees with the notion. While talking to the author, Khan, bringing his knowledge of Iran into the mix, said that Pakistan must not worry about Indo-Iranian ties. “We had an understanding with Iran of not fussing about each other’s bilateral relations,” said Khan who remained Pakistan Ambassador to Tehran from 1990 to 1992.

The reported snub shows the level of distrust between India and Pakistan. This is more noteworthy given the fact that U.S. top diplomat, Rex Tillerson also alluded at ways to lessen tensions between the two countries.

The former Foreign Secretary said that Chabahar is not and cannot be a counterweight to the Gwadar port while adding that Afghanistan is the real problem with its proclivity of falling prey to other forces before realizing that Pakistan is indispensable to it. Pakistan’s tendency to look at diplomacy with a zero-sum view has compelled it to be wary of Iran. However, Khan pointed out that India can never substitute Pakistan in Iran or Afghanistan, for that matter.

While talking to the author, a prominent former Army Commander of the Indian Army said that after Pakistan’s refusal to give passage, “Indian trade with Afghanistan via Chabahar was inevitable. The former three-star general known as an erudite in military circles further added:”In my view, that is it. Iran follows an independent policy. There is no likelihood of India ever having a military presence in Afghanistan.”

Read more: Will OBOR help China to overcome its economic crisis?

There are question marks on how India will monitor the port after it will be handicapped with a geographical disadvantage. While Pakistan has given considerable control of the Gwadar port to China, Iran may not do the same. Besides, experts also warn against security hazards along the trade route.Moreover, it is poignant to mention that Iran pursues a very independent foreign policy, India does not have the ability to influence Tehran’s divergent views on the region. India, hence cannot see Sunday’s event anything more than trade at this stage. Iran’s worldview, despite being based on fear of foreign domination is not marred by zero-sum mentality, unlike India and Pakistan.

The opening of the port is a perfect example of how states can operate at multiple levels without completely embracing each other.

While CPEC is a flagship of China’s OBOR initiative, it remains to be seen whether the Chabahar port can prove to be a linchpin of robust trade in the region and beyond. How can Chabahar be a rival to Gwadar when Iran itself not only wants to strengthen ties with China but also join CPEC? It will be interesting to see as to how the operationalization of Chabahar will fester the even otherwise fluid environment in the region. Will the US oppose Chabahar out of sheer spite for Iran like it is opposing CPEC out of competition with China? The answer to this question may determine how things pan out in the near future.As of this writing, the US-Iranian tiff and Trump’s inept handling makes the future look dicey.

Originally published on Global Village Space

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Germany Wants Nuclear Bombers

Germany does not manufacture atomic weapons but has come to consider itself as a nuclear power because it has vectors to use them.

The Duran

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Via VoltaireNet.org:


Germany’s armed forces are currently studying the possibility of acquiring nuclear bombers capable of using the new American B61-12 atomic bombs.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon itself plans to deploy these new atomic bombs in the German region of Eifel, in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The German air force already has multi-tasking Tornado warplanes, which are already capable of deploying American atomic bombs. But those aircraft are going to be replaced, possibly, by European-developed Eurofighters, or by United States manufactured F/A-18 Super Hornets.

Either way, the warplane that Germany selects will have to be equipped with the AMAC (Aircraft Monitoring and Control) system, which allows the use of the new American atomic bombs and enables the regulation of the power of the explosion as well as at what height the bombs explode after they are launched.

Germany does not manufacture atomic weapons but has come to consider itself as a nuclear power because it has vectors to use them, and believes that this gives it the right to sit on the UN Security Council sharing the permanent member position occupied by France.

Both countries would thus represent the European Union, under the auspices of NATO.

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1st since Notre Dame: Yellow Vests back despite ‘unifying’ disaster & they are angry

‘Yellow Vests’ march in Paris for 23rd straight week.

RT

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By

Via RT…


Yellow Vests protests brought clashes and tear gas back to the streets of Paris, despite politicians’ calls for “unity” in the wake of the Notre Dame fire. For protesters, the response to the fire only showed more inequality.

Saturday’s protests mark the 23rd straight weekend of anti-government demonstrations, but the first since Notre Dame de Paris went up in flames on Monday. Officials were quick to criticize the protesters for returning to the streets so soon after the disaster.

“The rioters will be back tomorrow,” Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told reporters on Friday. “The rioters have visibly not been moved by what happened at Notre-Dame.”

For many of the protesters, grief over the destruction of the 800-year-old landmark has made way for anger. With smoke still rising from Notre Dame, a group of French tycoons and businessmen pledged €1 billion to the cathedral’s reconstruction, money that the Yellow Vests say could be better spent elsewhere.

“If they can give dozens of millions to rebuild Notre Dame, they should stop telling us there is no money to respond to the social emergency,” trade union leader Philippe Martinez told France 24.

Saturday’s protests saw a return to scenes familiar since the Yellow Vests first mobilized in November to protest a fuel tax hike. Demonstrators in Paris’ Bastille district set barricades on fire and smashed vehicles, and police deployed tear gas to keep the crowds at bay.

Sporadic incidents of vandalism and looting were reported across the city, and some journalists even reported rioters throwing feces at police.

60,000 police officers were deployed across the country, and in Paris, a security perimeter was set up around Notre Dame. A planned march that would have passed the site was banned by police, and elsewhere, 137 protesters had been arrested by mid afternoon, police sources told Euronews.

Beginning as a show of anger against rising fuel costs in November, the Yellow Vests movement quickly evolved into a national demonstration of rage against falling living standards, income inequality, and the perceived elitism and pro-corporation policies of President Emmanuel Macron. Over 23 weeks of unrest, Macron has made several concessions to the protesters’ demands, but has thus far been unable to quell the rising dissent.

After Notre Dame caught fire on Monday, the president postponed a television address to the nation, during which he was expected to unveil a package of tax cuts and other economic reforms, another measure to calm the popular anger in France.

Macron’s address will be held on Thursday.

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O Canada! The True North Strong and Free – Not

Maybe it’s past time for Canadians to get serious again about their independence.

Jim Jatras

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Authored by James George Jatras via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Canadian visitors to Washington sometimes wonder why their embassy stands at the foot of Capitol Hill.

The answer? To be close to where Canada’s laws are made.

A main showcase of Ottawa’s craven servility to Washington is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s complicity in the US-led regime change operation being conducted against Venezuela. Not content with ruining his own country with multiculturalism, polysexualism, and the like, Li’l Justin has acted in lockstep with Big Brother to the south inslapping sanctions on Venezuelan officials and serving as a US agent of influence, especially with other countries in the western hemisphere:

‘A Canadian Press report published at the end of January revealed that Canadian diplomats worked systematically over several months with their Latin American counterparts in Caracas to prepare the current regime-change operation, pressing [Venezuelan President Nicolás] Maduro’s right-wing opponents to set aside their differences and mount a joint challenge to the government. “The turning point,” said the Canadian Press [Global News], “came Jan. 4, when the Lima Group … rejected the legitimacy of Maduro’s May 2018 election victory and his looming January 10 inauguration, while recognizing the ‘legitimately elected’ National Assembly.” The report cited an unnamed Canadian official as saying the opposition “were really looking for international support of some kind, to be able to hold onto a reason as to why they should unite, and push somebody like Juan Guaidó.”

‘One day prior to Maduro’s inauguration, [Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia] Freeland spoke to Guaidó, the newly-elected National Assembly speaker, by telephone to urge him to challenge the elected Venezuelan president.’

But that’s not all. Canada is out front and center in the “Five Eyes” intelligence agencies’ war on China’s Huawei – with direct prompting from US legislators and intelligence.  As explained by Col. Larry Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Gen. Colin Powell, it’s not that Huawei violated any law when circumventing US sanctions but it is the US that is acting illegally by unilaterally imposing sanctions that were never agreed to internationally. But that’s OK – when it comes to Washington’s claims of jurisdiction over every human being on the planet, Justin and Chrystia are happy to oblige!

Also, let’s not forget Chrystia’s role in keeping the pot boiling in Ukraine. It would of course be cynical (and probably racist) to attribute anything relating to Ukraine to her own interesting family background …

To be fair, the lickspittle attitude of Canadian officials towards their masters south of the 49th parallel is hardly unique in the world. Also to be fair, it’s natural and would be generally beneficial for Canada to have a positive relationship with a powerful, kindred neighbor rather than a negative one. Think of Austria’s ties to Germany, or the Trans-Tasman relationship of Australia and New Zealand, or the links that still exist between Russia and Ukraine despite efforts by the west to set them against each other (as, for example, Spain and Portugal were at loggerheads for several centuries, when the latter was a loyal ally of Spain’s foe, Great Britain, to such an extent that Portugal was sometimes shown on maps and globes in the same pink as British possessions; a similar situation existed between Argentina and British ally Chile).

A close and mutually advantageous relationship is one thing, but Canada’s de facto loss of independence is another. Not only does the US control Canada’s diplomacy, military, and intelligence but also her financial system (with, among other levers, the notorious FATCA law, which places Canadian institutions under the supervision of the IRS, with Canada’s revenue service acting, care of the Canadian taxpayer, as a cat’s paw for not only the IRS but the NSA and other snooping agencies). As explained by one Canadian nationalist (yes, they do exist!), the redoubtable David Orchard, trade is also a critical issue:

‘Canada …, after almost three decades of “free trade” with the U.S., has more than $1.2 trillion in federal and provincial debt, large deficits at every level, no national child or dental care, high university tuition, miserly old age pensions, years of massive budget cuts, and giveaway prices for its exports of oil, gas, timber and minerals.

‘For 150 years, great Canadian leaders have warned that without an economic border with the United States, we would soon no longer have a political border.

‘We once owned the world’s largest farm machinery maker, Massey Harris, headquartered in Toronto; built the world’s largest and most respected marketer of wheat and barley, the Canadian Wheat Board, based in Winnipeg; created a great transcontinental railway system, beginning in Montreal, which tied our country together; and saw Vancouver’s shipyards produce the beautiful Fast Cat ferry.

‘Instead of spending hundreds of billions on foreign-made machinery, electronics, automobiles, ships, fighter jets and passenger aircraft (even payroll systems for federal employees!), we can build our own, both for the domestic and export market.

‘We once designed and built the world’s most advanced jet interceptor, the Avro Arrow, so we know it can be done. [Emphasis added] With Canada’s resources and ingenuity, it could create a prosperous, domestically controlled economy that would give Canadians multiple benefits, security and pride of ownership. All that is required is some of the will that drove our ancestors to create an alternate power in North America. As George-Étienne Cartier, the great Québécois Father of Confederation, put it, “Now everything depends on our patriotism.”’ [Note: Orchard is the author of the must-read book The Fight for Canada: Four Centuries of Resistance to American Expansionism. To begin at the beginning, in the late 1680s, as part of English-French rivalry in North America, Massachusetts Puritans sought to root out the nest of popish deviltry known as Quebec. Following their disastrous 1690 defeat, they decided to fight Satan closer to home by hanging witches. The rest, as they say, is history…]

Scratch a Canadian patriot and you’ll hear about the Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow. As a watershed moment in Canada’s downward slide into subservience, the cancellation of what by all accounts was a magnificent aircraft – and a snapshot of what Canada’s international competitiveness (including in advanced aerospace) could have looked like had it been able to develop independently – might have been the point of being sucked into the American vortex. As noted by one response to my suggestion that Ottawa’s stance on Venezuela amounted to Canada’s annexation by the US: “Canadian here…unfortunately, the above is true (not literally of course, but in practice). It goes back even before the time of Diefenbaker, who canceled our Avro Arrow program on demand from the US – thus destroying our aerospace industry and causing brain drain to the US/Europe.”

To this day, the decision of then-Prime Minister John Diefenbaker to kill the Arrow project (and “put 14,528 Avro employees, as well as nearly 15,000 other employees in the Avro supply chain of outside suppliers, out of work”) on what came to be known as “Black Friday,” February 20, 1959, remains controversial and shrouded in mystery. A mix of budgetary, political, technological, and personality factors has been cited, none of them conclusive. Pressure from the US side, including unwillingness of Washington to purchase a Canadian aircraft when the US could pressure them to buy American planes and missiles, no doubt played a key role: “Instead of the CF-105, the RCAF invested in a variety of Century Series fighters from the United States. These included the F-104 Starfighter (46 percent of which were lost in Canadian service), and (more controversial, given the cancellation of the Arrow) the CF-101 Voodoo. The Voodoo served as an interceptor, but at a level of performance generally below that expected of the Arrow.”

While we may never know reliably why Diefenbaker cancelled the Arrow or how Canada or Canadian industry might have followed a different path, there’s no question of the superior capabilities of the Arrow. As it happens, one of the few pilots who had a chance to test the Arrow in an impromptu friendly dogfight is now-retired USAF fighter pilot Col. George Jatras, later US Air Attaché in Moscow (also, this analyst’s father). As he related in 2017:

‘I’ve received a number of messages in the last couple days about this bird, including some that say it may be revived. I don’t know how The Arrow would compare to today’s aircraft, but I had a first-hand lesson on how it faired against the F-102.

‘In 1959, I was stationed at Suffolk County AFB on Long Island with the 2nd Fighter Interceptor Squadron. We had an informal exchange program with a Canadian fighter squadron stationed near Montreal. From time to time, two or four aircraft from one of the squadrons would fly to the other’s base on a weekend cross country.

‘On one such exchange, I was #3 in a four ship formation led by [former Tuskegee airmanErnie Craigwell (I don’t recall who the other pilots were). As we entered Canadian airspace, cruising at about 40,000 ft., we spotted a contrail well above our altitude (probably at 50,000ft.) and closing very fast.  As the other aircraft appeared to be passing by, we could clearly see the delta shaped wing and knew it was the Avro Arrow that the Canadian pilots had told us about. Then, instead of just passing by, he rolled in on us! Ernie called for a break and we split into elements. When we talked about the encounter afterwards we all agreed that our first thought was, “This guy is in for a surprise; he doesn’t know that he’s taking on the F-102.”  Well, we were the ones in for a surprise. Even with two elements covering each other, not one of us could get on his tail. His power and maneuverability were awesome.  After he had played with us for a few minutes, like a cat with four mice, he zoomed back up to about 50K and went on his way. What an aircraft! What a shame that it never went into production.’

What is perhaps most curious about the Arrow’s demise is that “everything was ordered brutally destroyed; plans, tools, parts, and the completed planes themselves were to be cut up, destroyed, scrapped and everything made to disappear.”  Why? Well, security of course! Don’t engage in conspiracy theories …

The Canadian national anthem finishes with a pledge: “O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.” It should be noted that understandably resentful Loyalists fleeing the US following the American Revolution were a major contribution to the growth of Canada’s English-speaking population. American troops – back when we were the plucky underdog fighting the mighty British Empire – invaded Canada in 1775 and during the War of 1812 but were defeated. Relations got testy during the American Civil War as well, and even afterwards the US was wary of a proposed united “Kingdom of Canada,” hence the choice of the name “Dominion” in 1967. If today’s Canadians think we-all down here don’t know whom they’ve mostly had in mind to “stand on guard” against all this time, they’d better think again.

Maybe it’s past time for Canadians to get serious again about their independence – eh?

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