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Qatari FM-Russia “is main player on the international arena”

Russia’s role as a preeminent power broker in the Middle East is all but solidified.

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The Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani is in Moscow where he held talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the continuing crisis between Qatar and its neighbours Saudi Arabia and the UAE who have been joined by other Arab states, notably Egypt, in cutting off all ties with the small Gulf state,

The Qatari Foreign Minister who is keenly aware that Russia has normal relations with both Doha and Riyadh told RT,

“Qatar and Russia – which is the main player on the international arena – have friendly relations”.

This statement carries far larger implications than a kind diplomatic salutatory remark. The statement implies that it is not America, a long time ally of Qatar, but Russia whom the Qatari regime seeks counsel from in an attempt to mitigate the crisis which has seen Qatar effectively blockaded by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in addition to de-facto sanctions on Qatari businesses and media imposed in a rapid 24 hour period.

Donald Trump has made it clear that he has taken the Saudi side in the row, although Rex Tillerson has stressed a neutral position that has emphasised a desire to de-escalate of the conflict. To this end, reports have recently broken that Mr. Tillerson phoned Sergey Lavrov shortly after the Russian Foreign Minister concluded his meeting with his Qatari counterpart.

This is the clearest indication yet that the Trump administration is beginning to view Russia as a responsible super-power that can be consulted by the US in times of wider diplomatic and geo-political crisis. The phone call represents a  clear departure from an Obama administration that either discarded Russia or openly showed content for and distrust towards Russia.

The result of the arrogant, ideologically driven Obama years has had the effect of making Russia a much sought after international player while isolating America, in this case even from its ally Qatar.

The Qatari Foreign Minister had only positive things to say about his meeting with Lavrov.

Sergey Lavrov stated that Russia would do all that it could do to bring about a peaceful solution to the crisis. He emphasised however that much though it is important to amicably resolve the crisis, that it is imperative that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is the first body who attempt to solve the crisis. The GCC includes the rowing parties, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar as well as Kuwait and Oman who have taken something of an agnostic position yet one which seeks to help reduce tensions in the region.

Lavrov stated,

“For reasons of principle, we don’t interfere in the internal affairs of other states or in their bilateral relations with each other.

However, we cannot enjoy the situation where relations between our partners are deteriorating”.

 

 

Unlike Turkey whose President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has jumped head-long into the crisis as a kind of pro-Qatar cheerleader, Russia has been careful to maintain a neutral stance.

In this sense, Russia is the clear winner and insofar as Russia is, Moscow is helping to shield Turkey from being isolated in the event of the tide of the conflict turning against Doha.

By Russia acting as a responsible neutral power, America has in effect become geo-politically reliant on Russia as a country whose neutrality is legitimate. The US could have attained a similar position as a country with deep connections with both Saudi Arabia and Qatar. However, Donald Trump’s Tweets suggesting that Qatar is a sponsor of terrorism (which of course it is), have not exactly allowed America to consequently act as an impartial jurist in the dispute. This has left Russia as the de-facto responsible non-Arab power that is clearly capable of mediating in the crisis due to its ability to maintain normal diplomatic relations with countries who are not generally aligned with Moscow’s position in the world.

Iran’s offer to send aid to Qatar has also helped to send a clear messaged that America is slowly but surely losing its grip on her closest allies. Qatar has the biggest US military base in the Middle East, even bigger than those in Iraq and yet Iran extended an offer to a Qatari regime that has engaged in discussions with Tehran. When one thinks that the phone that the Emir of Qatar used to congratulate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on his recent victory in Iran’s democratic Presidential election was only a stone’s throw away from a base full of US forces, it puts into perspective the increasingly limited political influence the US can realistically achieve in the region.

In all of this, a knock-on effect has been America holding back its jihadist forces in southern Syria and allowing the Syrian Arab Army and its allies to advance further towards Deir ez-Zor. Reports have simultaneously surfaced of a secret deal between Russia and the US to allow Syrian forces to proceed with their war without any further attacks from the United States.

READ MORE: Russia and US in suspected deal in southern Syria

The timing of all of this is almost certainly not coincidental. Deadlock in the Gulf may have helped America to realise that the Gulfi proxies in Syria who have done America and Turkey’s heavy fighting against Syrian and allied forces, are beginning to crumble; a fortunate knock-on effect from the crisis in the Gulf.

The biggest question that remains in this is as follows: If Donald Trump has orchestrated this by design, he may be something of a genius. In allowing himself to use the power of Twitter to meddle in the Gulf, he may have set the stage for a jihadist exit from Syria all while forcing one Gulfi aggressor, in this case Qatar, to seriously reconsider its loyalties to terrorists.

By keeping Saudi Arabia busy in its own back yard, its ability to use its considerable wealth to dictate events outside of the Gulf may be constrained.

If Donald Trump has accomplished all of this by accident, he is simply the right man in the right place at the right time, even if for the wrong reasons.

Either way, Russia’s dominant role in the region has now been confirmed by a series of related events.

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Trump’s speech in Miami plays up anti-socialism, as Bolton focuses on Venezuela regime change (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 180.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss Trump’s recent speech in Miami, Florida, where the US President condemned Venezuela’s socialist government and called on military command within the Latin American country to defect over to the Juan Guaido camp.

Venezuela’a elected president Maduro dismissed Trump’s remarks as an “almost Nazi-style” speech.

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Via Washington Times

Venezuela’s embattled president, Nicolas Maduro, is rejecting President Donald Trump’s call for a new day in Venezuela and comparing the tone of the American president’s speech in Miami to that of a Nazi.

Trump said Monday that the U.S. stands behind opposition leader Juan Guaido and condemns Maduro and his government’s socialist policies. Trump pleaded with Venezuela’s military to support Guaido and warned of dire consequences for standing with Maduro.

Maduro responded to Trump in comments broadcast on state television. He accused the U.S. president of speaking in an “almost Nazi-style” and lashed out at Trump for thinking he can deliver orders to Venezuela’s military.

Maduro said, “Who is the commander of the armed forces, Donald Trump from Miami?” and added, “They think they’re the owners of the country.”

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First Venezuela, now Nicaragua? Bolton says Ortega’s days ‘numbered’ & people ‘will soon be free’

The Central American nation has been rocked by unrest since April last year, with protesters demanding the resignation of Sandinista party leader Ortega.

RT

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Via RT…


US President Donald Trump’s top foreign policy advisor John Bolton appears dead set on resuming his decades-long stand-off with Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega, hinting that Washington-backed regime change may be in the offing.

“The Ortega regime has sentenced three farm leaders to 550 years in prison for their roles in protests in 2018, where Ortega’s police forces reportedly killed 300 activists. As President Trump said Monday, Ortega’s days are numbered and the Nicaraguan people will soon be free,” the national security advisor to the US president tweeted on Wednesday.

The leaders of anti-Ortega protests were given jail terms this week, after they were implicated in the deaths of four policemen and a teacher during a shootout last July.

The Central American nation has been rocked by unrest since April last year, with protesters demanding the resignation of Sandinista party leader Ortega, who has been president since 2007, and convincingly won another five-year term in 2016.

The US has repeatedly backed the uprising against the left-wing government, and last November Bolton made a keynote speech calling for the “crumbling” of what he called the “Troika of Tyranny” – Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba – saying the states represented a “a sordid cradle of communism in the Western hemisphere.”

On Monday, Trump name-checked the same three countries, saying their “great potential” would be unlocked with the collapse of socialism. To expedite the process, Congress last year imposed financial measures that would make it difficult for the economically-stricken Nicaragua to obtain international loans, as well as slapping sanctions on top officials in Managua.

Revenge served ice-cold

Bolton’s history with Ortega goes back to the 1980s. Just as now, Ortega was the leader of Nicaragua, first as he spearheaded the revolution in 1979, and when he was elected president in 1985.

The Ronald Reagan administration spent significant financial resources backing the right-wing Contra rebels during the civil war, which lasted nearly the entire decade.

Bolton, at that time a legal specialist, held a number of senior positions in the Reagan White House, and was more than a witness to its shadowy CIA-aided schemes to bypass a Democrat-run Congress ban on helping the opposition militants.

He reportedly played a crucial part in hobbling both the scope of the Iran-Contra investigation and an inquiry into drug- and gun-running militants, who were enabled by Washington.

 

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After he returned to prominence under George W. Bush in yet another chapter of an unsinkable career, Bolton failed to dislodge Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, the Sandinistas, or Cuba’s Fidel Castro (at one point, he accused Havana of developing biological weapons, without solid evidence). But as a man who with permission from Donald Trump now seems to be steering US foreign policy on dozens of key issues, Bolton has more resources than ever before to settle his lifelong ideological grudges.

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Hungary Prime Minister Attacks Juncker and Soros in Billboard Ad

Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán attacked EC President Jean Claude Jucker and George Soros in a billboard ad.

The Duran

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Via MishTalk:


The EU has never seen anything quite like this. Orbán has a billboard campaign that claims European Commission president Juncker and and George Soros are “Endangering Hungary’s Safety”.

Opening a new front against Brussels a few months before European [parliament] elections, the poster shows the European commission president alongside the Hungarian-American philanthropist George Soros, a familiar target in Hungary.

“You have the right to know what Brussels is planning to do,” the poster says. On its official Facebook page, the Hungarian government says the poster is part of an information campaign to tell the public about Brussels’ migration plans, which it claims “fundamentally endangered Hungary’s safety”.

Although the government has previously run a “Stop Brussels” campaign, the decision to use an image of Junker is an escalation in the Orbán government’s public relations war with the EU’s most senior leaders.

It also exposes the rift in the centre-right European People’s party in the European parliament, which counts Juncker and Orbán, as members.

Orbán was re-elected for a third straight term last April, after a campaign dominated by immigration. A long-term critic of the EU, Orbán has accused NGOs and critical media of being part of a plot orchestrated by Soros to send millions of people to Hungary.

In recent weeks, Orbán has spoken of his hopes that the next European parliament will be dominated by anti-immigration parties.

Birds of a Feather Not

​Juncker once met Orbán with the jokey greeting “hello, dictator” and playfully tapped his face.

Today, Juncker responded Orban Should Leave Europe’s Centre-Right.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has said Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban’s ruling Fidesz party should leave the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) group in the European Parliament (EP).

“Against lies there’s not much you can do,” Juncker was quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency, adding that he had called for Fidesz’s expulsion from the EPP.

​”They didn’t vote for me in the European Parliament,” he said in Stuttgart, Germany, in a speech. “The far right didn’t either. I remember Ms. Le Pen, she said: ‘I’m not voting for you.’ I said: ‘I don’t want your vote.’ There are certain votes you just don’t want,” Juncker said, referring to the French far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

Eurointelligence Comments

Looking at Orbán’s previous record, and noting that one cannot of be sure, we continue doubt that Hungary’s Prime Minister has changed his European strategy and is now working to provoke the exclusion of his party from the EPP. Rather, Orbán seems to be doing one his classic hit-and-runs.

There is little doubt that the new smear campaign will make life on the campaign trail much more difficult for Manfred Weber, the CSU MEP and EPP spitzenkandidat. Juncker himself has now declared more forcefully than ever before that the EPP values are not consistent with keeping Fidesz in.

But we note that the CSU leadership in Munich has in the past consistently worked to maintain close and even warm ties with Orban.

Spitzenkandidat

US readers no doubt need an explanation of Spitzenkandidat. The following video explains.

In short, the term refers to an election process instead of an appointment process to determine the head of the European Commission.

63% of Europeans want the commission president determined by vote. Those in power still support the behind closed doors process for obvious reasons.

Orbán’s mission

Orbán’s mission is to weaken the EU from within. Italy has the same mission, for different reasons, as does President Trump.

EU Splintering

Two days ago I reported a Commerce Study Deems “European Cars a Threat to US National Security”. That’s nonsensical, of course. But Trump’s mission is easy to spot. He is doing his best to bust up the EU.

And now Trump has a lot of help on the inside: Marine Le Pen in France, Victor Orbán in Hungary, and Matteo Salvini in Italy.

I response to Trump, I noted, EU Pokes Trump Again, This Time Over Huawei’ s 5G Technology.

In the UK, Seven UK MPs Split from Labour Party Over Brexit. More MPs joined that parade today.

The splintering of the EU continues with escalating infighting at unprecedented levels.

It is illogical for the UK to want to part of this mess. Yet, the UK Remainers want to stay in.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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