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Vladimir Putin warns Netanyahu over Syria

Russian President warns Israeli leader against ‘steps that could lead to a new round of confrontation’

Alexander Mercouris

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In the aftermath of the shooting down by Syria of an Israeli F-16 fighter bomber, President Putin of Russia and Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel had a telephone conversation with each other.

The Kremlin’s summary of the conversation is even by its standards extremely short.

The discussion focused on the actions of the Israeli Air Force, which has carried out missile strikes in Syria.

The President of Russia spoke out in favour of avoiding any steps that could lead to a new round of confrontation, which would be dangerous for everyone in the region.

This pithy report of the conversation between the Russian and Israeli leaders matches the scant information the Russians have provided of the talks between Putin and Netanyahu in January.

However it it is not difficult to understand current Russian policy with respect to the conflict between Syria and Israel, and it puzzles me that there is so much confusion about it.

The first point to make is that Russia has now become the guarantor of the survival of President Assad and of his government.

Constant speculation that the Russians might be prepared to abandon President Assad in order to achieve peace in Syria, or might be prepared to force a loose decentralised structure upon Syria which the Syrian government does not want, is misplaced.

Prior to Russia’s intervention in the Syrian conflict in September 2015 the Russians had consistently resisted pressure from the US and its allies to agree to the ousting of President Assad.

Russia repeatedly vetoed Resolutions presented to the UN Security Council by the Western Powers which were intended to achieve the aim of ousting President Assad.

After Russia intervened in the Syrian conflict in 2015, the Russians resisted further pressure from the US to agree to President Assad’s ouster, whether in return for a junior place in the US’s anti-ISIS coalition, or in return for the promise of joint military operations between Russia and the US against Al-Qaeda.

I discussed the failure of former US Secretary of State John Kerry’s attempt in Moscow in July 2016 to get the Russians to agree to the ouster of President Assad here.  In a follow up article I said this

……the story of the diplomacy of the Syrian conflict has been a continuous repetition of the same happening:  the US pushes the Russians to agree to have President Assad removed.  The US make various offers or threats to the Russians to buy or force their agreement.  The Russians respond that President Assad’s future is a strictly Syrian internal matter, which they will not involve themselves in.  The US walks away, baffled and angry…..

In truth the inability of the US and its Western and Arab allies to accept that Russian opposition to their regime policy in Syria and elsewhere is for real, and that the Russians cannot be bullied or bribed to change it, is one of the oddest things about the whole Syrian conflict.  Despite the fact the Russians have gone repeatedly out of their way to explain their policy, the US and its allies seem incapable of believing that the Russians are really serious about it.  They always seem to think that the Russians are really just playing some cynical game, and that if they are made the right sort of offer, or put under the right sort of pressure, they can be brought round and made to agree to let Assad go.

If the Russians were not prepared to agree to force President Assad’s ouster when the territory controlled by his government had been reduced to a small strip of territory along Syria’s coast, and when Aleppo – Syria’s biggest city – seemed to be about to slip out of President Assad’s control, then they are not going to agree to force President Assad’s ouster now, when they have helped him secure control of all of Syria’s main cities – including Damascus and Aleppo – and when his armies have reached the Iraqi border in Syria’s farthest east.

After having invested so much in President Assad’s survival and in the survival of his government, it is inconceivable that the Russians would abandon him now, and I am sure that no one in any position of authority in Moscow is considering it.

At the same time no one in Moscow wants to see Russia become embroiled in the Syrian-Israeli conflict, which far predates Russia’s intervention in Syria, and which goes back all the way to the foundation of the State of Israel in 1948.

When following the 1967 Six Days War the Russians did commit themselves wholeheartedly to one side in the Arab-Israeli conflict – backing the Arabs diplomatically, arming the Arabs intensively, sending a strong military force to defend Egypt in 1970 from Israeli air attacks, and breaking off diplomatic relations with Israel – the result for Moscow was a catastrophe.

The USSR’s large Jewish community became alienated, the USSR found that by making an enemy of Israel it had further poisoned its relations with the Western powers at precisely the time when it was seeking detente with them, and the USSR quickly discovered that its Arab ‘allies’ in whom it had invested so much were both ungrateful and treacherous, so that by 1980 the USSR’s entire position in the Middle East had completely collapsed.

The final straw came after the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in 1979, when volunteers from across the Arab world rushed to fight the Russians in Afghanistan, in a way that they had never shown the slightest indication of wanting to do against Israel on behalf of the Palestinians.

Not surprisingly, the Russians have therefore since the mid-1980s been determined never to become directly involved in any part of the Arab-Israel conflict again.

Thus whilst Russia maintains good relations with the Arab states, and whilst Russia continues to voice support for the Palestinians, Russia has always striven to maintain good relations with Israel as well, and has forged significant economic links with Israel.

Beyond this, given that Russia already has its hands full in Syria, fighting all sorts of Jihadi and proxy forces there on behalf of President Assad and his government, it has no wish or need to complicate this already hugely complicated task further by taking on Israel – the Middle East’s military giant, with nuclear weapons and the Middle East’s strongest air force – on behalf of Syria as well.

Provided therefore Israeli attacks on Syria do not go beyond the routine attacks which the Israelis have been undertaking against Syria for decades, and which long predate Russia’s intervention in Syria, and provided the Israelis take no step which threatens the existence of the Syrian government or interferes in Syrian military operations against the Jihadi groups the Russians are fighting, the Russians will do nothing about them.

However conversely, if Israeli attacks on Syria threaten either the Syrian government or interfere in Syrian military operations against the Jihadi groups the Russians are fighting, then the Russians will respond sharply, as they did in March last year when they summoned the Israeli ambassador for a dressing down at the Foreign Ministry after an Israeli air strike against Syria’s Tiyas air base, which appeared to be intended to interfere in the Syrian army offensive against ISIS.

Right at the start of the Russian intervention in Syria, on 21st September 2015, Russian President Putin had a series of meetings and conversations with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu over the course of which Russian policy would have been carefully explained to the Israeli leader, and the ground rules would have been set out.

That the Russians made clear over the course of that meeting that they were not interested in and would not interfere in ‘routine’ Israeli air strikes against Syria is confirmed by the agreement for a ‘deconfliction’ mechanism that the Russian and Israeli leaders agreed during that summit.

Here is how Reuters reported it

Israel and Russia agreed on Monday to coordinate military actions over Syria in order to avoid accidentally trading fire, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a visit to Moscow.  Recent Russian reinforcements for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which regional sources say include warplanes and anti-aircraft systems, worry Israel, whose jets have on occasion bombed the neighboring Arab country to foil suspected handovers of advanced arms to Assad’s Lebanese guerrilla ally Hezbollah.

Briefing Israeli reporters after he met Russian President Vladimir Putin, Netanyahu said he had come with the goal of “prevent(ing) misunderstandings between IDF (Israel Defense Force) units and Russian forces” in Syria, where Assad is fighting Islamist-dominated insurgents in a civil war.

Netanyahu added that he and Putin “agreed on a mechanism to prevent such misunderstandings”. He did not elaborate. There was no immediate comment from the Kremlin.

In earlier remarks as he welcomed Netanyahu to the presidential residence of Novo-Ogaryovo, outside Moscow, Putin said Russian actions in the Middle East would always be “responsible”.

Underlining the importance of Netanyahu’s one-day visit to Moscow, Israel’s premier took along the chief of its armed forces and the general in charge of Israeli military intelligence.

Putin, who shares Western concern about the spread of Islamic State influence, has pledged to continue military support for Assad, assistance that Russia says is in line with international law. Russia has been focusing forces on Syria’s coast, where Moscow keeps a big Mediterranean naval base.

The United States, which along with its allies has been flying missions against Islamic State insurgents in Syria, has also been holding so-called “deconfliction” talks with Russia.

(bold italics added)

This report of the agreement Putin and Netanyahu reached on 21st September 2015 confirms that the Russians made clear to the Israelis that they had no interest in preventing ‘routine’ Israeli strikes against Syria, and that their intervention in Syria was not intended to prevent such strikes.  Note specifically the words I have highlighted in the Reuters report, which confirm this and which show the nature of the agreement the Russians and the Israelis agreed with each other.

The Russians at the time would also have said the same thing to President Assad and to the Iranian government: Russia was intervening in Syria to save the Syrian government which was being attacked by Jihadi terrorists and which was being threatened with regime change by the US; not to help Syria prosecute its longstanding conflict with Israel.

However the other side of the coin is that just as the Russians will not act to stop ‘routine’ Israeli air strikes against Syria, so they will not act to stop whatever actions the Syrians take to defend themselves from such strikes.

Both ‘routine’ Israeli actions, and Syrian counter-actions, are part of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Israel-Syria conflict, in which Russia is not involved.

Certainly the Russians were not involved in the recent Syrian shooting down of the Israeli F-16 and no one concerned – not the Syrians and not the Israelis – is saying that they were.

At the same time, and consistent with their policy, whilst the Russians will not act to stop the Israelis carrying out ‘routine’ air strikes against Syria or the Syrians shooting down Israeli aircraft which take part in such strikes, the Russians will react sharply to any Israeli action that threatens the existence of the Syrian government or which interferes in Syrian military operations against the Jihadis the Russians are fighting, just as they did last March.

That Putin reminded Netanyahu of this over the course of their recent call is confirmed by the following words in the Kremlin summary

The President of Russia spoke out in favour of avoiding any steps that could lead to a new round of confrontation, which would be dangerous for everyone in the region.

In other words Putin told Netanyahu to moderate his reaction to the shooting down of the F-16, and Israel’s relatively mild reaction to the shooting down of the F-16 – the retaliatory air strikes Israel launched after the shoot-down did not go beyond the level of ‘routine’ strikes, and did not threaten Syrian military operations against the Jihadis (which continue unabated) or the existence of the Syrian government – shows that despite his public bluster Netanyahu heeded Putin’s call.

The Russians have almost certainly balanced this warning to Netanyahu with equivalent warnings to Damascus and Tehran, warning them that further escalation should be avoided.

Since it is not in Syria’s or Iran’s interests that Syria – which is still in a state of internal war, with large areas of the country still controlled by the Kurds and by the Syrian government’s Jihadi enemies, and which is currently threatened by the presence of US and Turkish troops on its territory – should find itself in an all-out conflict with Israel, it is a certainty that these Russian warnings are being heeded.

If Russia is loathe to take sides in the Arab-Israeli conflict or in the conflict between Israel and Syria, the events of the last few days shows how the mere fact of its presence in Syria is nonetheless changing the dynamics of the conflict.

As I have recently written, Syria’s success in shooting down an Israeli F-16 provides confirmation that the military balance in the Middle East is shifting.

Something that was beyond Syria’s capabilities until very recently – the shooting down of an Israeli fighter jet in Israeli controlled air space – has now happened.

It is Russia’s intervention in the Syrian conflict which has brought this about.

Without Russia’s intervention there would be no Syrian military to shoot down Israeli aircraft, and it is Russian training, advice and technical support which has given the Syrian military the ability to shoot down Israeli aircraft.

Shifting the balance of military power in the Middle East was not the intention behind Russia’s intervention in Syria; however it is the product of it.

Similarly, Russia’s warning Israel against taking action in response to the shooting down of the F-16 which might escalate the situation is not a case of Russia taking sides in the longstanding conflict between Israel and Syria; however its effect is to protect Syria from Israeli actions which might have happened in response to the shooting down of the F-16 as part of that conflict, if Russia had not been present in Syria and had not given Israel its warning.

The result is that Syria has successfully shot down an Israeli F-16 and has suffered no significant consequences from it.

Though the Arab-Israeli conflict continues, and though Israel and Syria will continue to take actions against each other, the dynamic of the conflict has changed.

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Russian Il-20 downed by Syrian missile. Russia blames Israel. Israel blames Syria (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 110.

Alex Christoforou

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The unthinkable has happened in Syria.

The world now teeters on the brink of all out war in Syria as a Russian Il-20 was downed by Syrian missile after Israeli F-16s used it as cover during attack, according to statements made by the Russian Ministry of Defense.

President Vladimir Putin, answering a reporter’s question during a press conference with Hungarian PM Viktor Orban, said the downing of the Russian Il-20 plane looks like “a chain of tragic circumstances.” 

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the tripwire triggered that has the potential to tip the fragile balance in Syria towards conflict between Russia, Iran and Israel.

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The Russian military says an Israeli raid on Syria triggered a chain of events that led to its Il-20 plane being shot down by a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile. Moscow reserves the right to respond accordingly.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said…

“Israel did not warn the command of the Russian troops in Syria about the planned operation. We received a notification via a hotline less than a minute before the strike, which did not allow the Russian aircraft to be directed to a safe zone.”

The statement by the Russian Defense Ministry said that four Israeli F-16 fighter jets attacked targets in Syria’s Latakia after approaching from the Mediterranean.

The Israeli warplanes approached at a low altitude and “created a dangerous situation for other aircraft and vessels in the region.”

The statement further said that 15 Russian military service members have died as a result…

“The Israeli pilots used the Russian plane as cover and set it up to be targeted by the Syrian air defense forces. As a consequence, the Il-20, which has radar cross-section much larger than the F-16, was shot down by an S-200 system missile.”

According to reports from RT, the Russian military said that the French Navy’s frigate ‘Auvergne,’ as well as a Russian Il-20 plane were in the area during the Israeli operation.

Map of the incident on September 17 in Syria provided by the Russian defense ministry.

The Russian ministry said the Israelis must have known that the Russian plane was present in the area, but this did not stop them from executing “the provocation.” Israel also failed to warn Russia about the planned operation in advance. The warning came just a minute before the attack started, which “did not leave time to move the Russian plane to a safe area,”the statement said.

The statement gives a larger death toll than earlier reports by the Russian military, which said there were 14 crew members on board the missing Il-20. It said a search and rescue operation for the shot-down plane is underway.

A later update said debris from the downed plane was found some 27km off the Latakia coast. The search party collected some body parts, personal possessions of the crew, and fragments of the plane.

Meanwhile Israel has come out to blame the Syrian government for the downing of the military plane, according to an IDF statement.

Israel said that it “expresses sorrow for the death of the aircrew members” of the Russian plane. However, it stated that the government of Bashar Assad “whose military shot down the Russian plane,” is “fully responsible” for the incident.

Israel further blamed Iran and Hezbollah for the incident.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) explained that its jets were targeting a Syrian facility “from which systems to manufacture accurate and lethal weapons were about to be transferred on behalf of Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

Israel claimed that the weapons were “meant to attack Israel.”

Via RT

The IDF assumed that the Syrian anti-air batteries “fired indiscriminately” and didn’t “bother to ensure that no Russian planes were in the air.” The Israelis said that when the Syrian military launched the missiles which hit the Russian plane, its own jets were already within Israeli airspace. “During the strike against the target in Latakia, the Russian plane that was then hit was not within the area of the operation.”

According to the Israeli military, both IDF and Russia have “a deconfliction system,” which was agreed upon by the leadership of both states, and “has proven itself many times over recent years.” The system was in use when the incident happened, the IDF stated. The IDF promised to share “all the relevant information” with Russia “to review the incident and to confirm the facts in this inquiry.”

The military presented a four-point initial inquiry into events in Latakia. It insisted that “extensive and inaccurate” Syrian anti-aircraft fire caused the Russian jet “to be hit and downed.”

The Russian Il-20 aircraft, with 15 crew on board, went off radar during an attack by four Israeli jets on Syria’s Latakia province late Monday. Later on Tuesday the Russian Defense Ministry said that an Israeli raid on Syria triggered a chain of events that led to its plane being shot down by a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile.

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Trump Orders Immediate Release Of All Text Messages, Carter Page FISA Application From Russia Investigation

Trump has ordered the DOJ to release all text messages related to the Russia investigation with no redactions.

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Via Zerohedge

President Trump has ordered the Department of Justice to release all text messages related to the Russia investigation with no redactions, of former FBI Director James Comey, his deputy Andrew McCabe, now-fired special agent Peter Strzok, former FBI attorney Lisa Page and twice-demoted DOJ official Bruce Ohr.

Also released will be specific pages from the FBI’s FISA surveillance warrant application on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, as well as interviews with Ohr.

The statement reads in full:

“At the request of a number of committees of Congress, and for reasons of transparency, the President has directed the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to provide for the immediate declassification of the following materials: (1) pages 10-12 and 17-34 of the June 2017 application to the FISA court in the matter of Carter W. Page; (2) all FBI reports of interviews with Bruce G. Ohr prepared in connection with the Russia investigation; and (3) all FBI reports of interviews prepared in connection with all Carter Page FISA applications.

In addition, President Donald J. Trump has directed the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to publicly release all text messages relating to the Russia investigation, without redaction, of James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr

***

As we reported last Monday, Trump had been expected to release the documents any time – with specific attention to the Page documents and the “investigative activities of Justice Department lawyer Bruce Ohr” – who was demoted twice for lying about his extensive relationship  with Christopher Steele – the former MI6 spy who assembled the sham “Steele Dossier” used by the FBI in a FISA surveillance application to spy on Page.

Republicans on the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees believe the declassification will permanently taint the Trump-Russia investigation by showing the investigation was illegitimate to begin with. Trump has been hammering the same theme for months.

  • They allege that Bruce Ohr played an improper intermediary role between the Justice Department, British spy Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS — the opposition research firm that produced the Trump-Russia dossier, funded by Democrats. (Ohr’s wife, Nellie, worked for Fusion GPS on Russia-related matters during the presidential election — a fact that Ohr did not disclose on federal forms.)
  • And they further allege that the Obama administration improperly spied on Carter Page — all to take down Trump. –Axios

Ohr, meanwhile, met with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska in 2015 to discuss helping the FBI with organized crime investigations, according to The Hill‘s John Solomon. The meeting with the Putin ally was facilitated by Steele.

Last month Trump called Ohr a disgrace, while also tweeting: “Will Bruce Ohr, whose family received big money for helping to create the phony, dirty and discredited Dossier, ever be fired from the Jeff Sessions  “Justice” Department? A total joke!”

Trump’s threat came one day after two tweets about Ohr, noting a connection to former FBI agent Peter Strzok, as well as a text sent by Ohr after former FBI Director James Comey was fired in which Ohr says “afraid they will be exposed.”

According to emails turned over to Congressional investigators in August, Christopher Steele was much closer to Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie than previously disclosed.

Steele and the Ohrs would have breakfast together on July 30, 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington D.C., days after Steele turned in installments of his infamous “dossier” on July 19 and 26. The breakfast also occurred one day before the FBI formally launched operation “Crossfire Hurricane,” the agency’s counterintelligence operation into the Trump campaign.

“Great to see you and Nellie this morning Bruce,” Steele wrote shortly following their breakfast meeting. “Let’s keep in touch on the substantive issues/s (sic). Glenn is happy to speak to you on this if it would help.”

“After two years of investigations and accusations from both sides of the aisle about what documents indicate, it is past time for documents to be declassified and let the American people decide for themselves if DoJ and FBI acted properly,” Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows told Axios earlier Sunday.

In early August, journalist Paul Sperry tweeted that Trump may use his presidential authority to declassify “20 redacted pages of a June, 2017 FISA renewal, “and possibly” 63 pages of emails and notes between “Ohr & Steele,” and FD-302 summaries of 12 interviews.”

President Trump threatened to declassify documents two weeks ago – one day after the New York Times allegedly published an anonymous Op-Ed claiming to be from a White House official claiming to be part of an unelected “resistance” cabal within the Trump administration.

“The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy – & they don’t know what to do,” Trump tweeted earlier this month, adding: “The Economy is booming like never before, Jobs are at Historic Highs, soon TWO Supreme Court Justices & maybe Declassification to find Additional Corruption. Wow!”

Trump’s threat comes as calls by frustrated GOP legislators to release the documents have hit a fevered pitch. Spearheading the effort are Republican Reps. Meadows, Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz and Lee Zeldin – who have repeatedly asked Trump to declassify more of the heavily redacted FISA surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page in late 2016.

In June, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee asked President Trump to declassify key sections of Carter Page’s FISA warrant application, according to a letter obtained by Fox News.

Carter Page, the DOJ/FBI’s person of interest, weighed in on the matter in late August, tweeting: “The Corrupt DOJ, co-conspirators in the DNC and their high-priced consultants correctly believed they had American democracy and the FISA Court over a barrel in 2016.”

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De-Dollarization Tops Agenda at Russia’s Eastern Economic Forum

The Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) was held in Vladivostok on Sept.11-13. Founded in 2015, the event has become a platform for planning and launching projects to strengthen business ties in the Asia-Pacific region.

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Via Strategic Culture

This year, the EEF brought together delegations from over 60 countries to discuss the topic “The Far East: Expanding the Range of Possibilities”. A total of 100 business events involving over 6,000 participants were held during the three days.

1,357 media personnel worked to cover the forum. Last year, the number of participants was 5,000 with 1,000 media persons involved in reporting and broadcasting. The EEF-18 gathered 340 foreign and 383 Russian CEOs. Nearly 80 start-ups from across South-East Asia joined the meeting.

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This year, a total of 175 agreements worth of 2.9 trillion rubles (some $4.3 billion) were signed. For comparison, the sum was 2.5 trillion rubles (roughly $3.7 billion) in 2017.

They included the development of the Baimsky ore deposits in Chukotka, the construction of a terminal for Novatek LNG at Bechevinskaya Bay in Kamchatka and the investment of Asian countries in Russia’s agricultural projects in the Far East.

Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Mail.Ru Group, Megafon and Chinese Alibaba inked an agreement on establishing AliExpress trade joint venture. Rosneft and Chinese CNPC signed an oil exploration agreement.

The Chinese delegation was the largest (1,096 people), followed by the Japanese (570 members). The list of guests included the president of Mongolia and prime ministers of Japan and South Korea.

It was also the first time Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the event to meet his Russian counterpart. The issue of de-dollarization topped the agenda. Russia and China reaffirmed their interest in expanding the use of national currencies in bilateral deals.

During the forum, Kirill Dmitriev, the head of RDIF, said the fund intends to use only national currencies in its transactions with China starting from 2019. It will cooperate with the China Development Bank.

This “yuanification” is making visible progress with Shanghai crude futures increasing their share of oil markets up to 14 percent or even more. China has signed agreements with Canada and Qatar on national currencies exchange.

READ MORE: Eastern Economic Forum opens new chapter in US-Russia dialogue

De-dollarization is a trend that is picking up momentum across the world. A growing number of countries are interested in replacing the dollar. Russia is leading the race to protect itself from fluctuations, storms and US-waged trade wars and sanctions.

Moscow backs non-dollar trade with Ankara amid the ongoing lira crisis. Turkey is switching from the dollar to settlements in national currencies, including its trade with China and other countries. Ditching the US dollar is the issue topping the BRICS agenda. In April, Iran transferred all international payments to the euro.

The voices calling for de-dollarization are getting louder among America’s closest European allies. In August, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called for the creation of a new payments system independent of the US.

According to him, Europe should not allow the United States to act “over our heads and at our expense.” The official wants to strengthen European autonomy by establishing independent payment channels, creating a European Monetary Fund and building up an independent SWIFT system.

Presenting his annual program, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called on Sept. 12 for the European Union to promote the euro as a global currency to challenge the dollar.

According to him, “We must do more to allow our single currency to play its full role on the international scene.” Mr. Juncker believes “it is absurd that Europe pays for 80 percent of its energy import bill – worth 300 billion euros a year – in US dollars when only roughly 2 percent of our energy imports come from the United States.” He wants the raft of proposals made in his state of the union address to start being implemented before the European Parliament elections in May.

70% of all world trade transactions account for the dollar, while 20% are  settled in the euro, and the rest falls on the yuan and other Asian currencies. The dollar value is high to make the prices of consumer goods in the US artificially low. The demand for dollars allows refinancing the huge debt at low interest rates. The US policy of trade wars and sanctions has triggered the global process of de-dollarization.

Using punitive measures as a foreign policy tool is like shooting oneself in the foot. It prompts a backlash to undermine the dollar’s status as the world reserve currency – the basis of the US economic might. The aggressive policy undermines the US world standing to make it weaker, not stronger.

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