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Following Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel, Iran has no option but to look to China and Russia

The extraordinary hostility towards Iran from the US and Saudi Arabia, creating the possibility of an attack on Iran and ending all question of the imminent lifting of sanctions, shows that Iran has no alternative other than to forge close links with China and Russia and the Eurasian institutions if its to ensure its security and its economic future.

Alexander Mercouris

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US President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, his agreement to supply Saudi Arabia with $300 billion worth of US arms, his implacably hostile rhetoric towards Iran, and the openly expressed intentions of Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to launch a pre-emptive war against Iran, clarify policy options for Iran’s leadership and people.

It is now clear that the option of a rapprochement between Iran and the West does not exist whilst Iran remains an Islamic Republic.

Instead the US sees or pretends to see an existential threat from Iran towards Israel and – bizarrely – towards itself, and has sided decisively against Iran with Iran’s enemies, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman has moreover said that there is nothing the Iranians can ever say or do which will make him change his attitude of implacable hostility towards them.

This means that the only realistic option for Iran’s leaders – both the so-called reformists like Rouhani, and the conservatives – is to commit wholeheartedly to the strategic partnership Russia has offered them, and to integrate Iran fully into the Eurasian institutions which Russia and China are busy creating.

There are four of these Eurasian institutions that matter, though there are others – such as the ephemeral “Commonwealth of Independent States” set up by Boris Yeltsin in 1991 as a purported alternative to the USSR – which retain a sometimes shadowy existence.

The four Eurasian institutions which really matter are:

(1) The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, a security grouping led by China of which Russia is a key member;

(2) The One Belt, One Road project, a Chinese project replacing the previous Silk Road project, whose aim is to integrate the whole of Eurasia economically by creating a massive infrastructure web;

(3) the Eurasian Economic Union, a Russian project to reintegrate certain of the economies of the former USSR, which was originally built around Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, but which is now expanding to include other former Soviet states as well; and

(4) The Collective Security Treaty Organisation (“CSTO”), a Russian led military alliance bringing together essentially the same states that make up the Eurasian Economic Union, but of which Serbia and Afghanistan are observers.

Since Iran is a non-aligned state it cannot realistically join the Eurasian Economic Union or the CSTO without compromising this status, and the Russians would anyway be reluctant to have it do so since that would extend these two institutions beyond the territory of the former USSR, which these institutions are intended to reintegrate.

However there is no reason why Iran cannot develop close bilateral relations with China and Russia and with the Russian led Eurasian Economic Union and the CSTO, and no reason at all why Iran cannot participate to the fullest degree in the two Chinese led institutions, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the One Belt, One Road project.

Moreover since it is clear that the Chinese and the Russians are working towards fusing the Eurasian institutions each of them has created – the Chinese led Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and One Belt, One Road project, and the Russian led Eurasian Economic Union and CSTO – as part of their joint ‘Greater Eurasia Project‘ (that ultimately was what the One Belt, One Road conference in Beijing earlier this month was all about), Iran loses nothing and compromises nothing by integrating itself fully in the two Chinese led institutions whilst forging ever closer links to Russia and to the two Eurasian institutions led by Russia.

Iran has observer status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, and formally applied to join in 2008.  It could not do so then because it was under UN sanctions.  These have now been formally lifted following the 2015 nuclear agreement.

During his visit to Iran in January 2016 Chinese President Xi Jinping said that China supported Iran’s accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation as a full member, and Russian President Putin told Iranian President Rouhani during their recent summit in Moscow that Russia now does so also.

In the light of the threats coming from Saudi Arabia, the US and Israel, Iran should make joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation as a full member its foreign policy priority, and it should lobby hard in Beijing and Moscow for it to be allowed to do so without delay.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is not a fully fledged military alliance in the way that NATO and the CSTO are.  However it is a security grouping which bring together two Great Powers – China and Russia – and a potential third Great Power – India, and of which four nuclear powers – China, Russia, India and Pakistan – are members.

Whilst membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation would not cause these powers to defend Iran in the event it came under attack, they would be bound to respond angrily if a fellow member state like Iran came under attack.  Since Iran’s key regional enemies – Saudi Arabia and Israel – have close relations with some of these powers (China especially) that would in itself be a powerful deterrent against such an attack.

In addition Iran joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation would bury talk – heard often during Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia – that Iran is internationally isolated.  It would show that on the contrary Iran is a member of a security grouping which brings together some of the world’s greatest powers.

Iran should not however merely seek membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.  Though the UN sanctions have been lifted, the US is continuing to enforce unilateral sanctions against Iran, and the European Union is unwilling to resume full trading relations with Iran because of them.

Donald Trump’s hostility to Iran, and his alignment of the US with Iran’s implacable enemies, Saudi Arabia and Israel, means that there is no prospect of these unilateral US sanctions being lifted any time soon.

Moreover since the unilateral sanctions were not lifted during the time of the Obama administration – which was significantly less hostile to Iran than the Trump administration, and which agreed the nuclear agreement with Iran – there is no realistic possibility that any other US administration which succeeds or replaces the Trump administration will lift the sanctions any time soon.

What this means is that Iran must plan its economic future on the basis that for the time being at least the sanctions are going to remain in place.

Giant and sophisticated economies like China’s and Russia’s can shrug off Western sanctions, as China did after 1989 and as Russia is doing now.  Iran’s much smaller and less sophisticated economy will struggle to do so.

The result is that though Iran has avoided economic collapse despite the sanctions, over the last decade real income growth has stopped or even reversed, and inflation and unemployment – especially youth unemployment – have been continuously high.  In the meantime Iran’s infrastructure has been starved of investment.

Until roughly a decade ago a country whose economy found itself in this situation had no realistic option if it was to develop but to try to mend fences with the West, which at that time had an effective monopoly on capital, technology and trade.

The economic rise of Russia and China – especially of China – means this is no longer the case.

Though many Iranian businesspeople continue to hanker after a revival of Iran’s traditional trade links with the West, they now have a realistic and attractive alternative being offered to them, and they should embrace it.

Reports suggest that a major factor holding Iran back from full integration with the Eurasian institutions is Iran’s traditional suspicion of Russia, which together with cultural differences is standing in the way of the proposed joint economic projects which Russia has been proposing.

This suspicion has a historical basis.

Since the seventeenth century Russia and Iran have fought six wars, the most recent of which happened as recently as 1941 during the Second World War.  Every one of these wars save the first ended with Iran’s defeat.  The fourth and fifth wars resulted in the collapse of Iran’s position in the Caucasus and the loss of vast territories including Armenia, Georgia and what is now Azerbaijan.  The sixth war resulted in the Soviet occupation of northern Iran including Tehran.

Over and above these defeats, the tsarist government in the decade before the First World War sought to carve out with British agreement a Russian sphere of influence in northern Iran, which would have included the capital Tehran, whilst following the end of the Second World War the USSR attempted to do the same in the Iranian controlled part of Azerbaijan.

During the Cold War Iran whilst still under the rule of the Shah was strongly allied against the USSR with the US, and many Iranians continue to resent the fact that the USSR supplied arms to Iraq during the later stages of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.

Beyond this there is the fact that post-Soviet Russia supported UN sanctions against Iran, whilst former Russian President Medvedev did lasting damage to Russia’s relations with Iran by blocking the supply in 2010 of S-300 missiles to Iran, as previously agreed by Russia and Iran in 2007.

This history explains why there is considerable suspicion and hostility towards Russia in Iran.

This has sometimes taken self-destructive forms.  For example it seems that following the US cruise missile attack on Syria’s Al-Shayrat air base Iranian social media filled with comments mocking Russia’s alleged inability to shoot down the missiles.

Russia for its part has not always treated Iran with the sensitivity that is required.  As a Great Power which conducts its foreign policy on a global scale, Russia inevitably sees its past dealings with Iran as a minor detail of its history, and has not always shown proper awareness of the fact that Iranians see this history very differently.

The time has however now come for Iran to put all this to one side.  Its only realistic alternative is to do what the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel want it to do, which is change its system of government, jettison its Islamic constitution, revert to being the loyal subordinate to Western policy which it was during the time of the Shah, and ‘open up’ its economy to Western influence, with all the neoliberal ‘shock therapies’ that will come with that.

There are certainly people in Iran who would embrace that option, but everything that is known about the country suggests they are a small – if noisy – minority.

Besides with the rise of Eurasia and of China and Russia that sort of policy risks putting Iran on the wrong side of history.

Iran’s interests clearly point to its need to put aside whatever residual doubts it still has, and commit itself wholeheartedly to strong relations with Russia and China and the highest level of integration possible with the Eurasian institutions.  That way lies security, independence and prosperity.

The alternatives – subordination to the West or stagnation under the permanent threat of attack – hardly look inviting, and no one who sincerely cares for Iran would propose them.

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US Blunders Have Made Russia The Global Trade Pivot

Even if Europe is somehow taken out of the trade equation, greater synergy between the RIC (Russia, India and China) nations may be enough to pull their nations through anticipated global volatilities ahead

The Duran

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Authored by Mathew Maavak via ActivistPost.com:


The year 2019 had barely begun before news emerged that six Russian sailors were kidnapped by pirates off the coast of Benin. It was perhaps a foretaste of risks to come. As nations reel from deteriorating economic conditions, instances of piracy and other forms of supply chain disruptions are bound to increase.

According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), 107 cases of piracy were noted during the first half of 2018 vis-à-vis 87 throughout 2017.  The 2018 tally included 32 cases in Southeast Asian waters and 48 along African shores – representing 75% of the total. To put this figure into perspective, Asian behemoths India and China – despite their vast shorelines – recorded only 2 cases of piracy each during the study period. Russia had none. In terms of hostages taken, the IMB tally read 102 in H1 2018 vs 63 in H1 2017.

Piracy adds to shipping and retail costs worldwide as security, insurance and salaries are hiked to match associated risks in maritime transport. Merchant vessels will also take longer and costlier routes to avoid piracy hotspots.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report in 2016 sums up the perils ahead:

As over 90% of global trade is carried out by sea, the economic effects of maritime crime can be crippling. Maritime crime includes not only criminal activity directed at vessels or maritime structures, but also the use of the high seas to perpetrate transnational organized crimes such as smuggling of persons or illicit substances.  These forms of maritime crime can have devastating human consequences.

Indeed, cases of human trafficking, organ harvesting, and the smuggling of illicit substances and counterfeit goods are proliferating worldwide in tandem with rising systemic debt and suspect international agendas.

Australia offers a case in point. While it fantasizes over a Quad of allies in the Indo-Pacific – to “save Asians from China” – criminal elements from Hong Kong, Malaysia to squeaky-clean Singapore have been routinely trafficking drugs, tobacco and people right into Sydney harbour for years,  swelling the local organised crime economy to as much as $47.4 billion (Australian dollars presumably) between 2016 and 2017.

With criminal elements expected to thrive during a severe recession, they will likely enjoy a degree of prosecutorial shielding from state actors and local politicians. But this is not a Southeast Asian problem alone; any superpower wishing to disrupt Asia-Europe trade arteries – the main engine of global growth – will have targets of opportunity across oceans and lands.  The US-led war against Syria had not only cratered one potential trans-Eurasia energy and trade node, it served as a boon for child traffickingorgan harvesting and slavery as well. Yet, it is President Bashar al-Assad who is repeatedly labelled a “butcher” by the Anglo-American media.

Ultimately, industries in Asia and Europe will seek safer transit routes for their products. The inference here is inevitable: the greatest logistical undertaking in history – China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – will be highly dependent on Russian security umbrella, particularly in Central Asia. Russia also offers an alternative transit option via the Northern Sea Route, thereby avoiding any potential pan-Turkic ructions in Central Asia in the future.

Russo- and Sinophobia explained?

In retrospect, Washington’s reckless policies post-Sept 11 2001 seem aimed at disrupting growing synergies between Asia and Europe. This hypothesis helps explain the relentless US-led agitprops against Russia, China and Iran.

When the gilet jaunes (yellow vest) protests rocked France weeks ago, it was only a matter of time before some pundits blamed it on Russia. US President Donald J. Trump cheered on; just as “billionaire activist” George Soros celebrated the refugee invasion of Europe and the Arab Spring earlier.  If the yellow vest contagion spreads to the Western half of Europe, its economies will flounder. Cui bono? A Russia that can reap benefits from the two-way BRI or Arctic trade routes or a moribund United States that can no longer rule roost in an increasingly multipolar world?

Trump’s diplomatic downgrade of the European Union and his opposition to the Nord Stream 2gas pipeline matches this trade-disruption hypothesis, as do pressures applied on India and China to drop energy and trade ties with Iran.  Washington’s trade war with Beijing and recent charges against Huawei – arguably Asia’s most valuable company – seem to fit this grand strategy.

If China concedes to importing more US products, Europe will bear the consequences. Asians love European products ranging from German cars to Italian shoes and Europe remains the favourite vacation destination for its growing middle class. Eastern European products and institutions are also beginning to gain traction in Asia. However, these emerging economies will suffer if their leaders cave in to Washington’s bogeyman fetish.

Even if Europe is somehow taken out of the trade equation, greater synergy between the RIC (Russia, India and China) nations may be enough – at least theoretically – to pull their nations through anticipated global volatilities ahead.

In the meantime, as the US-led world crumbles, it looks like Russia is patiently biding its time to become the security guarantor and kingmaker of Asia-Europe trade.  A possible state of affairs wrought more by American inanity rather than Russian ingenuity…

Dr Mathew Maavak is a regular commentator on risk-related geostrategic issues.

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Historic Eastern Christianity: An Uncertain Future

The survival of historic Eastern Christianity, particularly in Syria, is critical for several reasons.

Strategic Culture Foundation

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Authored by Elias Samo via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


The survival of historic Eastern Christianity has never been as urgent as it is today. Christianity saw its beginning in Greater Syria which was subdivided by France and Britain after WWI into modern day Syria, Lebanon, Palestian/Israel and Jordan. The land that housed, nurtured and spread the teachings of Jesus Christ for over two millenniums, now threatens children of that faith. The survival of historic Eastern Christianity, particularly in Syria, is critical for several reasons:

  1. Greater Syria is the homeland of Jesus and Christianity. Abraham was from modern day Iraq, Moses from Egypt, and Muhammad from Mecca; Jesus was from Syria.
  1. Paul converted to Christianity and saw the light while walking through ‘The Street Called Straight’ in Damascus.
  1. Jesus’ followers were called Christians for the first time in Antioch, formerly part of Syria.
  1. One of the earliest churches, perhaps the earliest, is in Syria.

The potential demise of historic Eastern Christianity is reflected in the key question Christians ask: should we stay or emigrate? The urgent question – in the face of the ongoing regional turmoil – precipitated with the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 and escalated since the Arab uprisings in 2011. Historic Eastern Christians’ fears were further magnified when Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church and Archbishop Paul Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church, both of metropolitan Aleppo, were kidnapped on April, 22, 2013; with no traces of their whereabouts, dead or alive, since. For many years, I was deputy, friend, and advisor to the Archbishop Ibrahim, which provided me an opportunity to meet many Christians. I have, over time, noticed the change in their sentiment, with more considering emigration after the uprising and the kidnapping of the two Archbishops. Historic Eastern Christians survived the Ottoman Genocide in 1915 and thereafter; they multiplied and thrived in the Fertile Crescent despite some atrocities until the start of the misnamed “Arab Spring” in early 2011. Prior to the “Arab Spring”, historic Eastern Christians were victims of violence on several occasions. In the mid-1930s, the historic Assyrian community in Iraq suffered violent onslaughts and were driven to Syria. In the 1970s and 1980s, during the Lebanese Civil War, Christians were victims of sectarian violence. During the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, Christians were victims of widespread sectarian violence which led to mass migration. The “Arab Spring” began with great hope for the right of the people to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. However, it was swiftly hijacked by Islamists and Salafists and turned into an “Islamic Spring, an Arab Fall and a Christian Winter”; bringing along with it a new massacre of Christians. Presently, Eastern Christianity is at the mercy of clear and identifiable domestic, regional, and international, historic and contemporary conflicts in the Fertile Crescent, namely:

  1. Jihad vs. Ijtihad: A long standing conflict amongst Muslims between the sword vs. the pen.
  2. Sunni vs. Shiite: A conflict which began following the death of the Prophet Muhammad.
  3. Arabism vs. Islamism: The former has territorial limitations, the later has no territorial limitations.
  4. Syria vs. Israel: It is an essential component of the Palestinian problem, not the presumed Arab- Israeli conflict.
  5. West vs. East: A throwback to the Cold War, or its revival.
  6. Historic Persian, Ottoman and Arab Empires animosities: Each seeking regional hegemony.

One is reminded of the proverbial saying, “When the elephants fight, the grass suffers.” Certainly, Eastern Christianity is suffering and threatened with extinction.

Syria was a model of religious tolerance, common living and peaceful interaction amongst its religious, sectarian, cultural and ethnic components. Seven years of turmoil, in which various international and regional powers manipulated segments of Syrian society by supplying them with an abundance of weapons, money and sectarian ideologies, has heightened Eastern Christians’ fears. During the seven-year turmoil in Syria, the entire society has suffered; Sunnis, Shiites, Alawites, Yazidis, Kurds, Christians and others. Christians, being a weak and peaceful component of the society, have suffered immensely. Ma’aloula; a religious treasure for Christians globally, and the only city in the world where Aramaic – the language of Jesus Christ – is spoken, was attacked and besieged by ISIS. Numerous historic Churches were damaged, and many destroyed. Christians in Raqqa were forced by ISIS into one of three options: 1. Pay a penalty in pure gold – known as a ‘Jizya’ to keep their life and practice their faith – albeit in secret only; 2. Convert into Islam; or 3. Face immediate death. To top their pain, the kidnap of the two prominent Archbishops meant no Eastern Christian believer was safe.

Amidst all the doom and gloom, however, there remains hope. The survival of Christianity depends on the actions and reactions of three parties:

Eastern Christians: During the last hundred years, 1915-2015, since the Ottoman Genocide, Eastern Christians have been victims of a history of massacres, which meant that every Eastern Christian was a martyr, a potential martyr or a witness of martyrdom; if you fool me once, shame on you, if you fool me twice, shame on me. The ongoing regional turmoil has heightened their sense of insecurity. The answer to an age-old question Eastern Christians had on their mind: To flee Westwards or remain in their land, in the face of death, is increasingly becoming the former.

Eastern Muslims: There is a difference in perceptions between Eastern Christians and mainstream Muslims regarding the massacres committed against Christians. When certain violent groups or individuals kill Christians, while shouting a traditional Islamic profession: “No God but one God and Muhammad is God’s messenger”, it is reasonable for Christians to assume the killers are Muslims. However, for mainstream Muslims, the killers do not represent Islam; they are extremists, violating basic Islamic norms such as Muhammad’s sayings, “Whoever hurts a Thummy – Christian or Jew – has hurt me”, “no compulsion in religion” and other Islamic norms regarding just treatment of people of the Book; Christians and Jews. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the Muslim elites to impress upon their fellow Muslims that:

a. The three monotheistic religions believe in one God and all ‘faithfuls’ are equal in citizenship, rights and duties.

b. Christians participated in the rise of Arab Islamic civilization. They were pioneers in the modern Arab renaissance and they joined their Muslim brethren in resisting the Crusades, the Ottomans and Western colonialism.

c. Christians are natives of the land and they provide cultural, religious, educational, and economic, diversity.

d. Christians are a positive link between the Muslims and the Christian West, particularly in view of the rise of Islamophobia. Massacres of Christians and their migration provide a pretext for the further precipitation of Islamophobia.

e. Civilization is measured by the way it treats its minorities.

The Christian West: The Crusades, Western colonialism, creation and continued support of Israel, support of authoritarian Arab political systems, military interventions, regime change, and the destabilization of Arab states made Muslims view Eastern Christians ‘guilty by association’. The Christian West helped Jews come to Palestine to establish Israel. Shouldn’t the same Christian West also help Eastern Christians remain in their homeland, rather than facilitate their emigration? Western Christians, particularly Christian Zionists, believe that the existence of Israel is necessary for the return of Jesus to his homeland. However, it would be a great disappointment for Jesus to return to his homeland, Syria and not find any of his followers.

Prior to 2011, Eastern Christian religious leaders were encouraging Syrian Christians in the diaspora to return to Syria, their homeland, where life was safe and secure with great potential. Now, the same leaders are desperately trying to slow down Christian emigration. Eastern Christians’ loud cries for help to remain are blowing in the wind.

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Protests erupt in Athens, as ‘North Macedonia’ vote fast approaches (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 62.

Alex Christoforou

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NATO and the EU are full of joy with the Prespes agreement, which is sure to pass the Greek Parliament and fast rack the newly minted Republic of North Macedonia into NATO and the EU.

Meanwhile in Athens and Skopje, anger is reaching dangerous levels, as each side debates the pros and cons of the deal inked by Tsipras and Zaev.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at yesterday’s protests in Athens, Greece, where things got very ugly as radical left Prime Minster Alexis Tsipras used tear gas and a heavy police hand to put down protests, that reached upwards of 60,000 people in the Syntagma downtown square.

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Via Ekathimerini

As Greece gets ready for a political showdown this week over the Prespes agreement, we are witnessing a relentless, often cynical, maneuvering between parties, their leaders and even individual deputies.

What is at stake is not only the ratification of the deal between Athens and Skopje, but also the potential redrawing of the domestic political map.

Greek society and the country’s political world are deeply divided. The public is clearly against the deal, with up to 70% opposed to it.

The tens of thousands that demonstrated in Sunday’s rally in Athens, showed once more that sentiments run high.

The violence, which the Prime Minister blamed on extremists, while the opposition leader criticized the extended use of tear gas and called for an investigation to find out who was responsible, is indicative of the slippery slope the country is facing in the months leading to the national elections.

Despite the voices of reason calling for a minimum of cooperation and looking for common ground, Alexis Tsipras and Kyriakos Mitsotakis are in an all out war.

The leftist Prime Minister is attempting to use the Prespes agreement to create a broad “progressive” coalition that extends well beyond SYRIZA, while the conservative opposition leader, who is leading in the polls, is trying to keep his party united (on the name issue there are differing approaches) and win the next elections with an absolute majority.

With respect to the Prespes deal itself, the rare confluence of shrewd political considerations with deeply held feelings about one’s history, makes for an explosive mix and ensures a heated debate in parliament.

As for the raw numbers, despite the public opposition, the passage of the Prespes agreement in the 300 member Greek Parliament should be considered a done deal. In the most plausible senario 153 deputies will support the deal in the vote expected later in the week.

The governing SYRIZA has 145 deputies, and one should add to those the positive votes of Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura, centrist To Potami deputies Stavros Theodorakis, Spyros Lykoudis and Giorgos Mavrotas, former To Potami MP Spiros Danellis, and ANEL MP Thanasis Papachristopoulos.

This leads to a majority of 151. Last night one more positive vote was announced, that of Thanasis Theocharopoulos, leader of Democratic Left which untill now was part of the Movement for Change coalition, from which he was ejected as a result of his decision to support the deal.

Finally, Citizens Security Deputy Minister Katerina Papacosta, a former member of New Democracy, is expected to also vote for the agreement, but has not officially said so. Thus, for all practical purposes, the Prespes agreement is expected to pass, with 152 or 153 votes.

Former Prime Minister George Papandreou, who is not a member of parliament and who has worked tiressly on the issue, both as foreign minister and PM, has gone public in support of the deal.

Despite the discomfort this move created in the leadership of the Movement for Change, doing otherwise would have made him look inconsistent. As he is not voting, the damage is seen as limited, although the symbolism does not help the Movement for Change approach.

To the extent that Greece’s transatlantic partners and allies want to see the agreement implemented, they should feel relief. Of course, nothing is done until the “fat lady sings”, but one can clearly hear her whispering the notes in the corridors of the Greek Parliament.

Still, for the astute observer of Greek politics and the foreign officials and analysts who value the crucial role of Greece as an anchor of stability in the Balkans – being by far the strongest country in this region, both militarily and economically, despite the crisis of the last eight years – the deep divisions the issue has created in the society and the political world, are a cause for concern and could spell trouble in the future.

Dealing with such a volatile landscape calls for delicate moves by all.

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