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Maidan 2.0: The slow moving and more authentic Ukrainian uprising

Kiev’s Maidan is once again filled with camping protesters, but this time the west looks the other way.

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In 2014 when an odd coalition of neo-Nazis, ideologically vague members of the Ukrainian far-right, liberal extremists and random discontented Europeanists took to the streets of Kiev to overthrow the legitimate Ukrainian President and government, the writing was on the wall that such a coup would eventually come to eat the monster it made.

While the western backers of the coup were successful in otherthrowing the government, they were less successful in terms of being prepared to competently govern.

The result is that just as in December of 2013, the tents, protesters and marchers are back on Kiev’s Maidan (central square) only this time, the western mainstream media cameras are noticeably absent.

The reasons for this are clear enough. The western powers never intended to build Ukraine back up after breaking it down. Tt was enough to dislodge a geo-politically neutral and personally weak President in the form of Viktor Yanukovych and replace him with a disparate group of pro-western figures who included neo-Nazis, Russophobes, racists, mafiosos and thugs turned self-styled political reactionaries.

The fact that such people cannot run a country that even under moderates was dysfunctional due to having no historical basis, should not come as a surprise to anyone. Furthermore anyone in the west with even a rudimentary knowledge of history would have known this prior to 2014. Like George W. Bush in Iraq, “mission accomplished”, for Yanukovych’s  western opponents did not mean creating a new country–it simply meant destroying the old one.

Today however, there is broad discontent within all levels of society. Among the neo-Nazis, there is dissatisfaction that Kiev’s western backed war of aggression against Donbass has failed to destroy the Donestk and Lugansk People’s Republics. Among most other Ukrainians of all political bends and none, there is a palpable dissatisfaction with the fact that the economy is in ruins, public services are in a shambolic state, the reality that new incompetent oligarchs have replaced old semi-competent oligarchs and the fact that corruption is at levels that is frankly, obscene.

For months, the crowds on Maidan have continued to swell and recently, they have been led and encouraged by the ultra-pro western, former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.

On the face of it, Mikheil Saakashvili is an unlikely leader a Maidan 2.0, but given the absurdity of the political realities in Kiev, in many ways, it makes too much sense.

As I previously wrote,

“If the Ukrainian regime was not engaged in a war of aggression that has included the use of chemical weapons against civilians , there would in fact be much to laugh at in respect of the situation in the country. Instead, the regime is a human tragedy but one that is solidly built atop a shaky farce. One of the more farsical elements of the Ukrainian regime has been the fact that its leader Petro Poroshenko recently stripped former Georgian President turned former Odessa Governor of his recently acquired Ukrainian citizenship.

In may of 2015, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko appointed disgraced former Georgia President Mikheil Saakashvili Governor of Odessa Obslat. The appointment was immediately viewed as an insult to the people of the multi-cultural though overall historically and spiritually Russian city and region of Odessa, not least because this was the place where on 2 May 2014, young people were massacred by an armed mod while peacefully demonstrating against fascism.

READ MORE: Remembering The Odessa Massacre: 2 May 2014

It was doubly an insult because Saakashvili was a foreigner with no connection to the region. Finally, the fact that Saakashvili is wanted in Georgia on  charges of high corruption including embezzlement, actions he was alleged to have committed after he started a war of aggression against the people of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, ought to make Saakashvili disqualified for any political position, anywhere.

When it comes to war criminality and domestic corruption, Poroshenko and Saakashvilli would both be competing for the gold if such things were Olympic events. That hasn’t stopped both men from accusing one another of being corrupt, a rare instance of both being correct, albeit it for the wrong reasons.

But one should not rely on habitual liars like  Saakashvili and Poroshenko as reliable sources for the true nature of events. For this one is best understood by the fact that Poroshenko recently visited Georgia while Saakashvili would likely be arrested the minute he set foot in Georgia again.

On the 17th of July Poroshenko visited Georgia for talks with the country’s current political leaders. Georgia is currently governed by the Georgian Dream party, a kind of catch-all political movement that has somewhat toned down the Russophobic fanaticism of the Saakashvilli years while still marching the country in a direction that sees it striving to join both NATO and the EU, in spite of being located closer to Iran than to the EU.

Poroshanko was clearly looking for an ally in Tbilisi, but as Georgia under its current leadership can barely save itself, he largely came back with nothing tangible. That being said, as Saakashvilli already resigned from his position in Odessa in November of 2016, stripping a wanted man in Georgia of Ukrainian citizenship, thus technically leaving him stateless, can be seen as a concession to the current Georgian authorities. Prior to this Georgia viewed Poroshenko as the Ecuador to the would-be Assange that was Saakashvilli, only whereas Assange filled the world with much needed truth,  Saakashvilli filled his pockets with much sought after state cash.

Furthermore, shortly after leaving his post in Odessa, Saakashvilli registered a new party in Ukraine. While it is difficult to see how such a party could be a real political threat to Poroshenko’s power base which is already under threat from Ukrainian parties with an even more far-right ideology than Poroshenko’s, it seemed that Poroshenko did not want to take any chances. Thus, Poroshenko stripped Saakashvilli of his Ukrainian citizenship shortly after returning from Saakashvilli’s native country.

In short, Saakashvilli is a corrupt opportunist who ran to the power base of a second corrupt opportunist, Poroshenko. Then that second corrupt opportunist fired and deprived citizenship of the first corrupt opportunist under the guise that the first corrupt opportunist was a corrupt opportunist, who then took to calling the second corrupt opportunist a corrupt opportunist.

This literally is the farce that is post-coup Ukrainian politics”.

Here’s the real reason Poroshenko stripped Saakashvili of Ukrainian citizenship

I further stated,

“Saakashvili is keen to paint himself as a heroic freedom fighter, perhaps even a ‘democracy activist’ who has been on the receiving end of an unjust and possibly illegal deal by a corrupt regime (that part is objectively true) which has made an individual stateless through a wanton action (something which many experts claim is illegal).

Beyond this, the arch-opportunist and former Kiev Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has endeared herself to Saakashvili’s cause. Tymoshenko is widely perceived, even among her comrades on the extreme-right, as someone who will say and do anything to get closer to power. The fact that she has thus far played no role in the Poroshenko regime, has made her feel shafted and she’s now betting on Saakashvili helping to whisk her back to the limelight which she so clearly craves.

With police in western Ukraine now claiming that they have opened criminal proceedings against Saakashvili for his border stunt, it is becoming ever more likely that a man who was largely forgotten and ignored, might be an unlikely candidate to shed light on the corrupt and habitually duplicitous nature of the Kiev regime, even though Saakashvili’s differences with Kiev are largely cosmetic and personal. In terms of policy, both Poroshenko and Saakashvili have a history of committing war-crimes, destroying economic relations with Russia, overseeing largely ineffective regimes whose popularity wanes rapidly and stealing state-treasure for personal gain. That being said, if one was forced to choose, it must be said that between Poroshenko and Saakashvili, the latter is more of a smooth political operator than the former. That being said, the bar has been set incredibly low.

In this sense, Poroshenko in depriving Saakashvili of citizenship, has created a headache for himself.

In a just world, those opposed to war, racism, political censorship, economic collapse, corruption and state depravity would be the ones to bring down the Poroshenko regime. But in the real world, as Ataturk once said, “They go as they come”.

There would be no more fitting end to the Poroshenko regime than for Saakashvili to rally support against it. Meet the new boos, same as the old boss–in more ways than one”.

The inept Kiev regime turns shamed Saakashvili into self-made political martyr

Because the Maidan 2.0 is a battle between various pro-NATO stooges, all with dubious track records, the west can sit back and relax, happy in the fact that Kiev will remain a headache for Moscow and an aggressor towards Donbass, while remaining totally complacent in the fact that such a regime will likely be just as much of a letdown for the innocent civilians of Kiev controlled regions, as was the original post-Maidan regime.

In spite of this, there is a genuine nature to Maidan 2.0 that was missing from its recent ancestor. Today, the Maidanists are largely operating of their own accord and this time, they have very real worries that in spite of promises from the west of a ‘better future’, the economic statistics dictate that today’s Ukraine is far worse than that of 2013 and early 2014. The fact that this Maidan has moved at a more gradual pace is proof positive that the movement does not have the international backing and exuberant western mainstream media cheerleaders that the initial blitzkrieg coup had.

People in Ukraine are “mad as hell” and they’re “not going to take it anymore”. The problem is that while this time, the anger is that much more authentic, slow burning and legitimate–the solutions are as unrealistic as they were in 2014 and if anything, the leading figures of the “movement” are even more incompetent.

Since 2014, Ukraine has gone from a farcical tragedy, to a tragic farce.

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Major Syrian Army Assault On Southeast Idlib As Sochi Deal Unravels

Though the Syrian war has grown cold in terms of international spotlight and media interest since September, it is likely again going to ramp up dramatically over the next few months. 

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Via Zerohedge


The Syrian Army unleashed a major assault across the southeastern part of Idlib province on Saturday, a military source told Middle East news site Al-Masdar in a breaking report. According to the source, government forces pounded jihadist defenses across the southeast Idlib axis with a plethora of artillery shells and surface-to-surface missiles.

This latest exchange between the Syrian military and jihadist rebels comes as the Sochi Agreement falls apart in northwestern Syria, and in response to a Friday attack by jihadists which killed 22 Syrian soldiers near a planned buffer zone around the country’s last major anti-Assad and al-Qaeda held region. The jihadist strikes resulted in the highest number of casualties for the army since the Sochi Agreement was established on September 17th.

Though the Syrian war has grown cold in terms of international spotlight and media interest since September, it is likely again going to ramp up dramatically over the next few months.

The Al-Masdar source said the primary targets for the Syrian Army were the trenches and military posts for Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham in the towns of Al-Taman’ah, Khuwayn, Babulin, Haish, Jarjanaz, Um Jalal, and Mashirfah Shmaliyah. In retaliation for the Syrian Army assault, the jihadist rebels began shelling the government towns of Ma’an, Um Hariteen, and ‘Atshan.

Damascus has been critical of the Sochi deal from the start as it’s criticized Turkey’s role in the Russian-brokered ceasefire plan, especially as a proposed ‘de-militarized’ zone has failed due to jihadist insurgents still holding around 70% of the planned buffer area which they were supposed to withdraw from by mid-October. Sporadic clashes have rocked the “buffer zone” since.

Russia itself recently acknowledged the on the ground failure of the Sochi agreement even as parties officially cling to it. During a Thursday press briefing by Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova admitted the following:

We have to state that the real disengagement in Idlib has not been achieved despite Turkey’s continuing efforts to live up to its commitments under the Russian-Turkish Memorandum of September 17.

This followed Russia also recently condemning  “sporadic clashes” and “provocations” by the jihadist group HTS (the main al-Qaeda presence) in Idlib.

Likely due to Moscow seeing the writing on the wall that all-out fighting and a full assault by government forces on Idlib will soon resume, Russian naval forces continued a show of force in the Mediterranean this week.

Russian military and naval officials announced Friday that its warships held extensive anti-submarine warfare drills in the Mediterranean. Specifically the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s frigates Admiral Makarov and Admiral Essen conducted the exercise in tandem with deck-based helicopters near Syrian coastal waters.

Notably, according to TASS, the warships central to the drill are “armed with eight launchers of Kalibr-NK cruise missiles that are capable of striking surface, coastal and underwater targets at a distance of up to 2,600 km.”

Since September when what was gearing up to be a major Syrian-Russian assault on Idlib was called off through the Russian-Turkish ceasefire agreement, possibly in avoidance of the stated threat that American forces would intervene in defense of the al-Qaeda insurgent held province (also claiming to have intelligence of an impending government “chemical attack”), the war has largely taken a back-burner in the media and public consciousness.

But as sporadic fighting between jihadists and Syrian government forces is reignited and fast turning into major offensive operations by government forces, the war could once again be thrust back into the media spotlight as ground zero for a great power confrontation between Moscow and Washington.

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Trump Quietly Orders Elimination of Assange

The destruction of Assange has clearly been arranged for, at the highest levels of the U.S. Government, just as the destruction of Jamal Khashoggi was by Saudi Arabia’s Government.

Eric Zuesse

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On June 28th, the Washington Examiner headlined “Pence pressed Ecuadorian president on country’s protection of Julian Assange” and reported that “Vice President Mike Pence discussed the asylum status of Julian Assange during a meeting with Ecuador’s leader on Thursday, following pressure from Senate Democrats who have voiced concerns over the country’s protection of the WikiLeaks founder.” Pence had been given this assignment by U.S. President Donald Trump. The following day, the Examiner bannered “Mike Pence raises Julian Assange case with Ecuadorean president, White House confirms” and reported that the White House had told the newspaper, “They agreed to remain in close coordination on potential next steps going forward.”

On August 24th, a court-filing by Kellen S. Dwyer, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Alexandria Division of the Eastern District of Virginia, stated: “Due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure [than sealing the case, hiding it from the public] is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged. … This motion and the proposed order would need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested in connection with the charges in the criminal complaint and can therefore no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition in this matter.” That filing was discovered by Seamus Hughes, a terrorism expert at the Program on Extremism at George Washington University. On November 15th, he posted an excerpt of it on Twitter, just hours after the Wall Street Journal had reported on the same day that the Justice Department was preparing to prosecute Assange. However, now that we know “the fact that Assange has been charged” and that the U.S. Government is simply waiting “until Assange is arrested in connection with the charges in the criminal complaint and can therefore no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition in this matter,” it is clear and public that the arrangements which were secretly made between Trump’s agent Pence and the current President of Ecuador are expected to deliver Assange into U.S. custody for criminal prosecution, if Assange doesn’t die at the Ecuadorean Embassy first.

On November 3rd (which, of course, preceded the disclosures on November 15th), Julian Assange’s mother, Christine Ann Hawkins, described in detail what has happened to her son since the time of Pence’s meeting with Ecuador’s President. She said:

He is, right now, alone, sick, in pain, silenced in solitary confinement, cut off from all contact, and being tortured in the heart of London. … He has been detained nearly eight years, without trial, without charge. For the past six years, the UK Government has refused his requests to exit for basic health needs, … [even for] vitamin D. … As a result, his health has seriously deteriorated. … A slow and cruel assassination is taking place before our very eyes. … They will stop at nothing. … When U.S. Vice President Mike Pence recently visited Ecuador, a deal was done to hand Julian over to the U.S. He said that because the political cost of expelling Julian from the Embassy was too high, the plan was to break him down mentally…   to such a point that he will break and be forced to leave. … The extradition warrant is held in secret, four prosecutors but no defense, and no judge, … without a prima-facie case. [Under the U.S. system, the result nonetheless can be] indefinite detention without trial. Julian could be held in Guantanamo Bay and tortured, sentenced to 45 years in a maximum security prison, or face the death penalty,” for “espionage,” in such secret proceedings.

Her phrase, “because the political cost of expelling Julian from the Embassy was too high” refers to the worry that this new President of Ecuador has, of his cooperating with the U.S. regime’s demands and thereby basically ceding sovereignty to those foreigners (the rulers of the U.S.), regarding the Ecuadorian citizen, Assange.

This conservative new President of Ecuador, who has replaced the progressive President who had granted Assange protection, is obviously doing all that he can to comply with U.S. President Trump and the U.S. Congress’s demand for Assange either to die soon inside the Embassy or else be transferred to the U.S. and basically just disappear, at Guantanamo or elsewhere. Ecuador’s President wants to do this in such a way that Ecuador’s voters won’t blame him for it, and that he’ll thus be able to be re-elected. This is the type of deal he apparently has reached with Trump’s agent, Pence. It’s all secret, but the evidence on this much of what was secretly agreed-to seems clear. There are likely other details of the agreement that cannot, as yet, be conclusively inferred from the subsequent events, but this much can.

Basically, Trump has arranged for Assange to be eliminated either by illness that’s imposed by his Ecuadorean agent, or else by Assange’s own suicide resulting from that “torture,” or else by America’s own criminal-justice system. If this elimination happens inside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, then that would be optimal for America’s President and Congress; but, if it instead happens on U.S. soil, then that would be optimal for Ecuador’s President. Apparently, America’s President thinks that his subjects, the American people, will become sufficiently hostile toward Assange so that even if Assange disappears or is executed inside the United States, this President will be able to retain his supporters. Trump, of course, needs his supporters, but this is a gamble that he has now clearly taken. This much is clear, even though the rest of the secret agreement that was reached between Pence and Ecuador’s President is not.

Scooter Libby, who had arranged for the smearing of Valerie Plame who had tried to prevent the illegal and deceit-based 2003 invasion of Iraq, was sentenced to 30 months but never spent even a day in prison, and U.S. President Trump finally went so far as to grant him a complete pardon, on 13 April 2018. (The carefully researched docudrama “Fair Game” covered well the Plame-incident.) Libby had overseen the career-destruction of a courageous CIA agent, Plame, who had done the right thing and gotten fired for it; and Trump pardoned Libby, thus retroactively endorsing the lie-based invasion of Iraq in 2003. By contrast, Trump is determined to get Julian Assange killed or otherwise eliminated, and even Democrats in Congress are pushing for him to get that done. The new President of Ecuador is doing their bidding. Without pressure from the U.S. Government, Assange would already be a free man. Thus, either Assange will die (be murdered) soon inside the Embassy, or else he will disappear and be smeared in the press under U.S. control. And, of course, this is being done in such a way that no one will be prosecuted for the murder or false-imprisonment. Trump had promised to “clean the swamp,” but as soon as he was elected, he abandoned that pretense; and, as President, he has been bipartisan on that matter, to hide the crimes of the bipartisan U.S. Government, and he is remarkably similar in policy to his immediate predecessors, whom he had severely criticized while he was running for the Presidency.

In any event, the destruction of Assange has clearly been arranged for, at the highest levels of the U.S. Government, just as the destruction of Jamal Khashoggi was by Saudi Arabia’s Government; and, just like in Khashoggi’s case, the nation’s ruler controls the prosecutors and can therefore do whatever he chooses to do that the rest of the nation’s aristocracy consider to be acceptable.

The assault against truth isn’t only against Assange, but it is instead also closing down many of the best, most courageous, independent news sites, such as washingtonsblog. However, in Assange’s case, the penalty for having a firm commitment to truth has been especially excruciating and will almost certainly end in his premature death. This is simply the reality. Because of the system under which we live, a 100% commitment to truth is now a clear pathway to oblivion. Assange is experiencing this reality to the fullest. That’s what’s happening here.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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Libya’s Peace Process Dies in Palermo

The best the Palermo negotiators could come up with at the end was a bland statement declaring their hope that sometime in the future all the Libyan forces will meet to sort out their differences.

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Authored by Richard Galustian for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity:


“Resounding flop” was the verdict of Italy’s former prime minister Matteo Renzi on this week’s Libya peace conference held in Palermo. He’s not wrong. The conference hosted by Italy’s new government achieved the remarkable feat of making Libya’s tensions worse, not better. Acrimony broke out between the parties, and Turkey’s delegation walked out, its vice president Fuat Oktay accusing unnamed States of trying to “hijack the process.”

Some sources in Palermo suggested, yet to be verified, that the US thought the Conference was not too bad: a joke if true.

Moreover the mystery we might ask is what “process” is there to hijack? Because the truth is, the peace plan the conference was supporting is already dead.

That plan was the brainchild of the United Nations, launched more than a year ago with the aim of ending Libya’s split between warring Eastern and Western governments with elections in December.

Even before the first delegates set foot in the pleasant Sicilian city of Palermo this week, the UN admitted the election date of December 10 they had decided to scrap.

The eastern government, led by the parliament in Tobruk, had made moves in the summer to organize a referendum on a new constitution which would govern the elections. But no referendum was held, and most Libyans agree it would be pointless because Tripoli, home to a third of the country’s population, is under the iron grip of multiple warring militias who have the firepower to defy any new elected government. Hours after the delegates left Palermo, those militias began a new bout of fighting in the Tripoli suburbs.

The best the Palermo negotiators could come up with at the end of the talks was a bland statement declaring their hope that sometime in the future all the Libyan forces will meet in a grand conference to sort out their differences – and this after four years of civil war. To say that chances of this are slim is an understatement.

Dominating the Palermo talks, and indeed Libya’s political landscape, was and is Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the Libyan National Army, the country’s most powerful formation. In four years, the LNA has secured Libya’s key oil fields and Benghazi, its second city, ridding most of the east Libya of Islamist militias.

Haftar met reluctantly negotiators in Palermo, but insisted he was not part of the talks process. The Italian government press office said Haftar was not having dinner with the other participants nor joining them for talks. Haftar specifically opposed the presence of the Muslim Brotherhood champion, Qatar, at the event along with Turkey.

Haftar clearly only attended because he had a few days before visiting Moscow – which sent to Sicily Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev – and because also of Egyptian President Sisi’s presence along with his allies.

Possibly Haftar was simply fed up. Twice in the past two years he has attended previous peace talks, hosted each time in Paris, giving the nod to declarations that Libya’s militias would dissolve. Yet the militias remain as strong as ever in Tripoli.

Haftar is detested by the militias and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) but supported by a large segment of the population – 68 percent, according to an opinion poll by America’s USAID. His popularity is based on a single policy – his demand that security be in the hands of regular police and military, not the militias.

Not everyone is happy, certainly not Turkey, which is backing Islamist, MB and Misratan forces in western Libya who detest Haftar. Yet Turkey’s greatest statesman, the great Kamal Ataturk, was a champion of secularism: After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire following World War One Turkey faced the prospect of utter disintegration, and it was Attaturk who rose to the challenge, defending the country’s borders, while ordering that the mullahs, while responsible for spiritual welfare, have no political power.

Political Islam is not popular in Libya either. Libya is a Muslim country, its people know their faith, and most want government to be decided through the ballot box.

The problem for Libya is what happens next with the peace process broken. Haftar has in the past threatened to move on Tripoli and rid the militias by force if they refuse to dissolve, and it may come to that – a fierce escalation of the civil war.

The second possibility is that Libya will split. The east is, thanks to the LNA, militarily secure. It also controls two thirds of the country’s oil and operates as a separate entity, down to it banknotes, which are printed in Russia while the Tripoli government’s are printed in Britain. A formal split would be an economic boon for the lightly populated east, but a disaster for Tripolitania, its population losing most of the oil, its only source of export income.

Yet with the failure of peace talks, and no sign of Tripoli militias dissolving, military escalation or breakup seem more likely than ever.

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