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Russia and Iran Edge Closer

The opening of a $5 billion credit line provided by Russia to Iran signals rapidly strengthening ties.

Alexander Mercouris

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Though it has received minimal world attention, there is now confirmation that Russia has granted Iran a $5 billion credit line.

This is a credit line rather than a loan (earlier media reports referred to it as a loan). 

That Russia was willing to lend $5 billion to Iran was confirmed during President Putin’s visit to Iran last November.  Completion of the loan was however then delayed due to unspecified legal reasons.  However in April it was confirmed that the legal problems – whatever they were – had been resolved and that Russia was pressing ahead with the loan.

The fact that the loan takes the form of a credit line rather than cash may be the clue to the delay. Though part of Iran’s nuclear deal was the lifting of sanctions on Iran, the US is dragging its heels in doing that so that the bulk of the estimated $30 billion of Iranian funds frozen in Iranian  accounts in Western banks have still not been released to Iran.

Possibly Russian banks involved in the loan were worried they might be targeted by the US with further sanctions if they became involved.  By substituting for the loan a credit line – presumably guaranteed by the Russian state – such concerns would have been allayed.

A credit line also tends to allow the borrower more flexibility in how the funds are used.  Iran might therefore have preferred a credit line to an outright loan, which would have come with more stringent conditions.

At least half the $5 billion will be used to upgrade Iran’s infrastructure, which has suffered badly from neglect because of the sanctions.  Modernising and electrifying the Iranian railway system will be the major priority.  Money will however be also used to upgrade Iran’s ports and oil industry.

By today’s standards the amount involved is relatively small.  However it should be seen as a first step in an evolving relationship. 

A common condition for such lending is that the borrower imports any necessary technology or equipment from the lender.  It is a virtual certainty that this is so in this case.  The credit line will therefore give Russia a stake in the Iranian railway and oil industries and in other parts of Iran’s infrastructure.

Historically Iran and Russia have not been close friends.  During the Cold War the Shah of Iran aligned Iran closely with the West.  Following the Shah’s overthrow Iran also kept a certain distance from Russia.  Russia – or more properly the USSR – for its part during the Iran Iraq war of the 1980s sought to maintain a certain balance between Iran and Iraq, increasing supplies of arms to whichever side appeared to be losing as it sought to force the two sides to compromise.

Going back before the Cold War, there is a long history of conflict between Iran and Russia, with the two countries often in conflict with each other in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and with the Russians seeking to establish zones of influence in northern Iran prior to the First World War and during and immediately after the Second World War.

Iran and the USSR even fought each other briefly in a short and bloody though now largely forgotten war in the summer of 1941.  This war, which was fought following the German attack on the USSR and which should be treated as a part of the Second World War, resulted in Iran’s decisive defeat by the USSR and the Soviet occupation of northern Iran.

Over the last decade Russia and Iran have however grown significantly closer, though not without serious setbacks along the way.  The Iranians were for example incensed by the Russian decision to cancel delivery of S300 surface to air missiles previously bought by Iran from Russia.  This happened following the imposition of UN sanctions on Iran for which Russia had actually voted.  What infuriated the Iranians especially is that these sanctions did not in fact prevent Russia from supplying the S300 missiles to Iran since they were not covered by the sanctions.  The Russians actually cancelled delivery of the S300 missiles following intense US and Israeli lobbying, using the sanctions as a cover.

Some Iranians are also known to feel that Russia unduly and deliberately protracted work in completing the nuclear reactor at Bushehr, though the sheer complexity of that project – which involved grafting Russian technology onto a reactor originally designed and partly built with German help during the rule of the Shah – actually makes that unlikely.

Russia and Iran have however more recently found themselves in close agreement on the Syrian conflict with both countries providing strong support to the embattled government of President Bashar Al-Assad.  Their two militaries have been cooperating closely with each other in Syria – with the Russians providing air cover and the Iranians ground troops – in a way that can only increase the level of contacts between them.

Russia also played a key role in brokering the nuclear deal, which led to at least some of the sanctions on Iran – and crucially those sanctions which limited development of the Iranian oil industry – being lifted. 

A key event in the lead up to the nuclear deal was a provisional “oil-for-goods” agreement between Russia and Iran – a barter deal whereby Russia agreed to supply goods to Iran in return for Iranian oil.  That agreement threatened the sanctions regime the UN had imposed on Iran to such a degree as to threaten to make it unviable, and was a major factor in forcing the US to agree to the nuclear deal.

Since the nuclear deal Russia has reversed its decision to cancel sale of the S300 missiles to Iran and it seems these missiles have now been delivered.  There is also talk of further arms sales by Russia to Iran, including of T90 tanks and of SU27 fighters, though such talk regularly elicits denials from both sides.  The sensitivity of further arms sales may however explain the denials, and they should not be taken as conclusive.

The latest credit line agreement now seals what is likely to be a burgeoning economic and trade relationship underpinning the still sometimes prickly but nonetheless growing political and military relationship that is evolving between the two countries.

For the future some Iranian and Russian officials – including especially former Iranian President Ahmadinejad – have spoken of forging even closer relations, with talk of Iran even joining such Russian-led institutions as the Eurasian Union and the CSTO. 

Whether relations ever develop to that point remains to be seen.  In the meantime Russia and Iran, whilst not exactly allies or even partners, are moving closer together.  Perhaps one day they may become partners or even allies.

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EU leaders dictate Brexit terms to Theresa May (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 115.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss how EU leaders have agreed on a plan to delay the the Article 50 process which effectively postpones Brexit beyond the 29 March deadline.

The UK will now be offered a delay until the 22nd of May, only if MPs approve Theresa May’s withdrawal deal next week. If MPs do not approve May’s negotiated deal, then the EU will support a short delay until the 12th of April, allowing the UK extra time to get the deal passed or to “indicate a way forward”.

UK PM Theresa May said there was now a “clear choice” facing MPs, who could vote for a third time on her deal next week.

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Theresa May outlines four Brexit options, via Politico

In a letter to MPs, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May set out the four options she believes the country has in light of Thursday’s decision by EU leaders to extend the Brexit deadline beyond next Friday.

The U.K. is faced with a four-way choice, May wrote late Friday.

The government could revoke Article 50 — which May called a betrayal of the Brexit vote; leave without a deal on April 12; pass her deal in a vote next week; or, “if it appears that there is not sufficient support” for a vote on her deal in parliament next week or if it is rejected for a third time, she could ask for an extension beyond April 12.

But this would require for the U.K. taking part in European elections in May, which the prime minister said “would be wrong.”

May wrote that she’s hoping for the deal to pass, allowing the U.K. to leave the EU “in an orderly way,” adding “I still believe there is a majority in the House for that course of action.”

“I hope we can all agree that we are now at the moment of decision,” she wrote.

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US media suffers panic attack after Mueller fails to deliver on much-anticipated Trump indictment

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

RT

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Via RT


Important pundits and news networks have served up an impressive display of denials, evasions and on-air strokes after learning that Robert Mueller has ended his probe without issuing a single collusion-related indictment.

The Special Counsel delivered his final report to Attorney General William Barr for review on Friday, with the Justice Department confirming that there will be no further indictments related to the probe. The news dealt a devastating blow to the sensational prophesies of journalists, analysts and entire news networks, who for nearly two years reported ad nauseam that President Donald Trump and his inner circle were just days away from being carted off to prison for conspiring with the Kremlin to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Showing true integrity, journalists and television anchors took to Twitter and the airwaves on Friday night to acknowledge that the media severely misreported Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, as well as what Mueller’s probe was likely to find. They are, after all, true professionals.

“How could they let Trump off the hook?” an inconsolable Chris Matthews asked NBC reporter Ken Dilanian during a segment on CNN’s ‘Hardball’.

Dilanian tried to comfort the CNN host with some of his signature NBC punditry.

“My only conclusion is that the president transmitted to Mueller that he would take the Fifth. He would never talk to him and therefore, Mueller decided it wasn’t worth the subpoena fight,” he expertly mused.

Actually, there were several Serious Journalists who used their unsurpassed analytical abilities to conjure up a reason why Mueller didn’t throw the book at Trump, even though the president is clearly a Putin puppet.

“It’s certainly possible that Trump may emerge from this better than many anticipated. However! Consensus has been that Mueller would follow DOJ rules and not indict a sitting president. I.e. it’s also possible his report could be very bad for Trump, despite ‘no more indictments,'” concluded Mark Follman, national affairs editor at Mother Jones, who presumably, and very sadly, was not being facetious.

Revered news organs were quick to artfully modify their expectations regarding Mueller’s findings.

“What is collusion and why is Robert Mueller unlikely to mention it in his report on Trump and Russia?” a Newsweek headline asked following Friday’s tragic announcement.

Three months earlier, Newsweek had meticulously documented all the terrible “collusion” committed by Donald Trump and his inner circle.

But perhaps the most sobering reactions to the no-indictment news came from those who seemed completely unfazed by the fact that Mueller’s investigation, aimed at uncovering a criminal conspiracy between Trump and the Kremlin, ended without digging up a single case of “collusion.”

The denials, evasions and bizarre hot takes are made even more poignant by the fact that just days ago, there was still serious talk about Trump’s entire family being hauled off to prison.

“You can’t blame MSNBC viewers for being confused. They largely kept dissenters from their Trump/Russia spy tale off the air for 2 years. As recently as 2 weeks ago, they had @JohnBrennan strongly suggesting Mueller would indict Trump family members on collusion as his last act,” journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted.

While the Mueller report has yet to be released to the public, the lack of indictments makes it clear that whatever was found, nothing came close to the vast criminal conspiracy alleged by virtually the entire American media establishment.

“You have been lied to for 2 years by the MSM. No Russian collusion by Trump or anyone else. Who lied? Head of the CIA, NSA,FBI,DOJ, every pundit every anchor. All lies,” wrote conservative activist Chuck Woolery.

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom was more blunt, but said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

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Canadian Lawmaker Accuses Trudeau Of Being A “Fake Feminist” (Video)

Rempel segued to Trudeau’s push to quash an investigation into allegations that he once groped a young journalist early in his political career

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Via Zerohedge

Canada’s feminist-in-chief Justin Trudeau wants to support and empower women…but his support stops at the point where said women start creating problems for his political agenda.

That was the criticism levied against the prime minister on Friday by a conservative lawmaker, who took the PM to task for “muzzling strong, principled women” during a debate in the House of Commons.

“He asked for strong women, and this is what they look like!” said conservative MP Michelle Rempel, referring to the former justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, who has accused Trudeau and his cronies of pushing her out of the cabinet after she refused to grant a deferred prosecution agreement to a Quebec-based engineering firm.

She then accused Trudeau of being a “fake feminist”.

“That’s not what a feminist looks like…Every day that he refuses to allow the attorney general to testify and tell her story is another day he’s a fake feminist!”

Trudeau was so taken aback by Rempel’s tirade, that he apparently forgot which language he should respond in.

But Rempel wasn’t finished. She then segued to Trudeau’s push to quash an investigation into allegations that he once groped a young journalist early in his political career. This from a man who once objected to the continued use of the word “mankind” (suggesting we use “peoplekind” instead).

The conservative opposition then tried to summon Wilson-Raybould to appear before the Commons for another hearing (during her last appearance, she shared her account of how the PM and employees in the PM’s office and privy council barraged her with demands that she quash the government’s pursuit of SNC-Lavalin over charges that the firm bribed Libyan government officials). Wilson-Raybould left the Trudeau cabinet after she was abruptly moved to a different ministerial post – a move that was widely seen as a demotion.

Trudeau has acknowledged that he put in a good word on the firm’s behalf with Wilson-Raybould, but insists that he always maintained the final decision on the case was hers and hers alone.

Fortunately for Canadians who agree with Rempel, it’s very possible that Trudeau – who has so far resisted calls to resign – won’t be in power much longer, as the scandal has cost Trudeau’s liberals the lead in the polls for the October election.

 

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