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ROUHANI: Iran will support ‘brotherly’ Qatar

A phone call between Iran’s President and Qatar’s Emir is Tehran’s strongest public showing of support for Doha since the Saudi led boycott of Qatar started.

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Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has had a phone conversation with Qatari leader Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, during which the Iranian President expressed his support for Qatar against the Saudi led boycott of the small but wealthy Gulf state.

This is the most prominent Iranian demonstration of support of Qatar that has been made public since Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt spearheaded a total diplomatic and economic cutting off of Qatar.

The call came at a symbolic period as Muslims of all sects celebrated Eid, the fest at the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

According to Mehr,Rouhani said that his country is committed to pursuing “a common goal for both sides can be to help Qatar’s economy and expand special relations between private sectors of the two countries”.

Notice that Rouhani talked about a special relation not between the governments in Tehran and Doha but rather between private companies in each country. This makes it clear that Iran while sympathetic to Qatar’s plight at the hands of a common antagonist in Riyadh, the bilateral relationship between Iran and Qatar does not yet rise to a fully fraternal relationship between two countries, but rather one motivated by the fact that both Iran and Qatar sit atop the same natural gas field and furthermore by the fact that both countries now have a common geo-political foe.

It is indeed the possibility of cooperation in energy cultivation between Iran and Qatar that has recession stricken Saudi Arabia fearful. The ideological ‘betrayal’ of a Salafist Sunni monarchy in the Gulf developing closer ties to Iran is merely what Saudi sees as an ‘insult to economic injury’ so to speak.

Rouhani then referenced the objectively ridiculous Saudi drafted ultimatum sent to Qatar saying,

“Pressure, intimidation and sanction cannot be suitable solutions to possible disagreements among regional countries”.

While these remarks are not worded as strongly as those of Turkey President Erdogan who called the ultimatum an attack on Qatari sovereignty, the conclusion drawn by Rouhani is not entirely different than that of Erdogan.

Rouhani continued,

“The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to cooperate and take any necessary measures for peace settling in the region.

…Iran’s air, ground and sea will be always open to the brother and neighbour country of Qatar.

…Tehran and Doha have always enjoyed strong and developing relations.

We are fully ready to strengthen bilateral ties as well as to join hands for resolving complicated issues faced by the Islamic world”.

The Iranian President also affirmed that Iran’s sea and land will always be open to Qatar which Rouhani called a brotherly nation.

The conversation between President Rouhani and Qatar’s Emir demonstrates another own goal from the Saudi perspective. In trying to bully Qatar into becoming something of a puppet state vis-a-vis Saudi, Riyadh has actually pushed Qatar far closer into the embrace of Iran than it ever was or possibly could have been, prior to the Saudi led boycott.

Far from capitulating to ridiculous Saudi demands which are more reminiscent of the kind of threats against small entities which occurred during the Peloponnesian War than anything worthy of the 21st century, Qatar shall pursue its sovereign rights as a nation to develop bilateral relations with countries which haven’t decided to isolate Qatar. Qatar’s renewed relationship with Sunni Turkey and its expanding political and economic relations with Shi’a Iran mean that Qatar now has a more diverse portfolio of large regional non-Arab allies than Saudi does. While Turkey is not anti-Saudi, Turkey’s rebukes of Saudi in recent days and weeks demonstrate Ankara’s clear revulsion at the Saudi attitude to a neighbouring state.

All of this being said, Iran must be careful to remember that in until recently Qatar was fighting pro-Iranian Houthis in Yemen and has been instrumental in funding Salafist terrorist groups in Syria which opposed the Damascus led anti-terrorist coalition of which Iran is a member along with Russia and Hezbollah.

Rouhani’s remarks indicate that Iran is still publicly aware of this and privately Iran is almost certainly considering future prospects with Qatar far more cautiously than public statements would imply.

That being said, the idea that the Russian-Iranian-Turkish Astana Group for Syrian peace is little more than an element of a pro-Shi’a alliance with Turkey fuming from the sidelines, is looking increasingly like a simplistic analysis.

Turkey has distanced itself from US policy in Syria over America’s strong backing of Kurds and likewise Turkey has openly rejected the Greater Albania project which is strongly favoured by Washington and London. At the same time, Erdogan is increasingly moving closer to Iran and in a broader sense Russia on several key issues. Saudi has managed not only to bring Qatar closer to Iran but oddly has created the knock on effect of giving Turkey one more reason to distrust Washington.

The fact that Russia remains neutral over the Qatar crisis but has done so without shooting its own foot as America did after Donald Trump Tweeted that Qatar is guilty of sponsoring terrorism as Saudi accused it of being, all means that Russia’s level of respect in Doha has gone up while its position in Riyadh has still not necessarily gone down in any way.

In this sense, it is not Russia and Iran that are forming a Shi’a crescent but it is Saudi that is attempting to form a Sunni crescent leading from the Gulf across the Red Sea to Egypt with only besieged civil war torn Yemen in the way.

But Qatar’s relationship with Iran has shown a fatal flaw in the Shi’a versus Sunni propaganda that has come out of Saudi for years. The reality is that economics and issues of security will generally trump ideological concerns, especially in an era of falling energy prices.

At the end of the day, with the exception of an increasingly close relationship with Egypt, albeit one that won’t fundamentally change Egypt’s character as a secular multi-faith state, it is Saudi which may become increasingly isolated. While America and Israel doubtlessly lean closer to Saudi, America will always tend to maintain public neutrality and Israel at the end of the day is a disloyal ally to all but itself as President Nixon and Obama’s difficult relationships with Israel leaders attests to.

Saudi’s impetuous style of ‘diplomacy’ in what can be called the era of Mohamamd bin Salman is already starting to backfire substantially and this is merely the beginning.

 

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Trump Has Gifted “No More Wars” Policy Position To Bernie Sanders (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 148.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss how US President Donald Tump appears to have ceded his popular 2016 ‘no more wars’ campaign message and policy position to Bernie Sanders and any other US 2020 candidate willing to grad onto a non-interventionist approach to the upcoming Democrat primaries.

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“Is Bernie Stealing Trump’s ‘No More Wars’ Issue?” by Patrick J. Buchanan…


The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016.

“The president has said that he does not want to see this country involved in endless wars… I agree with that,” Bernie Sanders told the Fox News audience at Monday’s town hall meeting in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Then turning and staring straight into the camera, Bernie added:

“Mr. President, tonight you have the opportunity to do something extraordinary: Sign that resolution. Saudi Arabia should not be determining the military or foreign policy of this country.”

Sanders was talking about a War Powers Act resolution that would have ended U.S. involvement in the five-year civil war in Yemen that has created one of the great humanitarian crises of our time, with thousands of dead children amidst an epidemic of cholera and a famine.

Supported by a united Democratic Party on the Hill, and an anti-interventionist faction of the GOP led by Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee of Utah, the War Powers resolution had passed both houses of Congress.

But 24 hours after Sanders urged him to sign it, Trump, heeding the hawks in his Cabinet and National Security Council, vetoed S.J.Res.7, calling it a “dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities.”

With sufficient Republican votes in both houses to sustain Trump’s veto, that should be the end of the matter.

It is not: Trump may have just ceded the peace issue in 2020 to the Democrats. If Sanders emerges as the nominee, we will have an election with a Democrat running on the “no-more-wars” theme Trump touted in 2016. And Trump will be left defending the bombing of Yemeni rebels and civilians by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

Does Trump really want to go into 2020 as a war party president?

Does he want to go into 2020 with Democrats denouncing “Trump’s endless wars” in the Middle East? Because that is where he is headed.

In 2008, John McCain, leading hawk in the Senate, was routed by a left-wing first-term senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, who had won his nomination by defeating the more hawkish Hillary Clinton, who had voted to authorize the war in Iraq.

In 2012, the Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who was far more hawkish than Obama on Russia, lost.

Yet, in 2016, Trump ran as a different kind of Republican, an opponent of the Iraq War and an anti-interventionist who wanted to get along with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and get out of these Middle East wars.

Looking closely at the front-running candidates for the Democratic nomination of 2020 — Joe Biden, Sanders, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker — not one appears to be as hawkish as Trump has become.

Trump pulled us out of the nuclear deal with Iran negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry and reimposed severe sanctions.

He declared Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, to which Iran has responded by declaring U.S. Central Command a terrorist organization. Ominously, the IRGC and its trained Shiite militias in Iraq are in close proximity to U.S. troops.

Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moved the U.S. Embassy there, closed the consulate that dealt with Palestinian affairs, cut off aid to the Palestinians, recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights seized from Syria in 1967, and gone silent on Bibi Netanyahu’s threat to annex Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

Sanders, however, though he stands by Israel, is supporting a two-state solution and castigating the “right-wing” Netanyahu regime.

Trump has talked of pulling all U.S. troops out of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the troops are still there.

Though Trump came into office promising to get along with the Russians, he sent Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine and announced a pullout from Ronald Reagan’s 1987 INF treaty that outlawed all land-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

When Putin provocatively sent 100 Russian troops to Caracas — ostensibly to repair the S-400 anti-aircraft and anti-missile system that was damaged in recent blackouts — Trump, drawing a red line, ordered the Russians to “get out.”

Biden is expected to announce next week. If the stands he takes on Russia, China, Israel and the Middle East are more hawkish than the rest of the field, he will be challenged by the left wing of his party, and by Sanders, who voted “no” on the Iraq War that Biden supported.

The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016. And the anti-interventionist wing of the GOP is growing.

And when added to the anti-interventionist and anti-war wing of the Democratic Party on the Hill, together, they are able, as on the Yemen War Powers resolution, to produce a new bipartisan majority.

Prediction: By the primaries of 2020, foreign policy will be front and center, and the Democratic Party will have captured the “no-more-wars” political high ground that Candidate Donald Trump occupied in 2016.

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Over 200 killed, hundreds injured in series of blasts at Sri Lankan hotels & churches

A series of bombings hit churches and hotels across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing more than 200 people.

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Via RT…


A series of eight explosions rocked Catholic churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka as Christians began Easter Sunday celebrations, with over 200 killed and hundreds injured, media reported, citing police.

The blasts started at around 8:45am local time at St. Anthony’s Church in Colombo and St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, a Catholic-majority town outside of the capital. The Zion Church in Batticaloa on the eastern coast was also targeted. At around the same time, the Shangri-La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury five-star hotels were also hit, police confirmed.

Two more explosions happened later in the day, targeting two more locations in Colombo. All attacks appear to have been coordinated.

At least 207 people were killed, Reuters reported, citing police. More than 450 were injured in the attacks.

Alleged footage of the aftermath, shared on social media, showed chaos and large-scale destruction inside at least one of the churches.

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Mike Pompeo reveals true motto of CIA: ‘We lied, we cheated, we stole’ (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 147.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at a Texas A&M University speech, and subsequent interview, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The former CIA Director admitted, ‘as an aside’ to the question asked, that the Intelligence agency he headed up before being appointed as the top US Diplomat had a motto “we lied, we cheated, we stole”…which, according to Pompeo, contained entire CIA training courses based on ‘lying, cheating and stealing.’

Pompeo finally speaks some truth.

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