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Syrian army “just 700 metres” from ISIS-held Al-Sukhnah as final battle for Deir Ezzor approaches

Syrian army on brink of capturing Al-Sukhnah, bringing closer final decisive battle with ISIS in Deir Ezzor.

Alexander Mercouris

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According to the reliable and well-informed Al-Masdar news agency, the Syrian military is now just 700 metres from the “city gates” of the key ISIS held town of Al-Sukhnah on the road from Palmyra to Deir Ezzor.

Here is Al-Masdar’s latest report

Led by the 5th Corps and 18th Tank Division, the Syrian Arab Army stormed the western outskirts of Al-Sukhnah this morning, while receiving heavy air support from their Russian allies.

According to a military source in Palmyra, the Syrian Arab Army is steadily advancing on the Islamic State stronghold, leaving only 700 meters between their front-lines and the city’s gates.

Despite the recent gains, the Syrian Army has been struggling to break the Islamic State’s main line of defense west of Al-Sukhnah, as the terrorist group uses the rough terrain to their advantage.

It is not clear exactly what “the city gates” of Al-Sukhnah means exactly.  However Al-Sukhnah is an old city with an Ottoman fort, which before the fall of the Ottoman empire used to house an Ottoman garrison.  One way of reading this Al-Masdar report is that the Syrian army has successfully stormed the the town’s western suburbs but that ISIS is holding out in this fort.

An Al-Masdar report of 24th July 2017 reported that Al-Sukhnah was just a week from being liberated by the Syrian army.  It is now clear that this will not happen as ISIS resistance has stiffened as the Syrian army advances deeper into ISIS held territory in Deir Ezzor province, and as the Syrian army – after its whirlwind advances on multiple fronts of the previous weeks – has focused on consolidating its gains by bringing up reinforcements and strengthening its supply lines.

This pattern of lighting advances followed by pauses and consolidations as enemy resistance stiffens is very typical of “blitzkrieg” war, as any student of the history of the Second World War in Europe knows.

The recent slow down in the Syrian army’s offensives into central and eastern Syria is however likely to be only temporary.

On the northern front in southern Raqqa attempts by ISIS to wrest back the initiative from the Syrian by staging ‘do-or-die’ counter-attacks have all ended in failure, with the Syrian army’s elite Tiger Forces – who are leading the Syrian army’s advance in this area – having successfully penetrated into Deir Ezzor province.

The British journalist Robert Fisk has recently toured the Syrian army’s northern front and he has provided a glowing account of its performance there for the British newspaper the Independent, which includes lengthy and highly informative passages likes this one

The highway east from Homs was expected to have been the route of the Syrian attack this month. Hence the vast earth “berms” and defensive sand walls erected by Isis along the length of the road. But for Isis, the now-infamous Syrian army tactic of assaulting its enemies from the rear and flank drove the caliphate from hundreds of square miles of land west of the Euphrates.

General Saleh, the one-legged commander of the Syrian division on the Euphrates – who has adapted this policy many times, along with his fellow officer and friend, Colonel “Tiger” Suheil – says that his forces could, if he wished, be in the centre of Raqqa within five hours “if we decided to do that”. He described how his men had first driven al-Qaeda and Isis from the Sheikh Najjar industrial city outside Aleppo back to the Assad lake, how they had protected the water supply to the city at great loss to their own forces, how they had moved east from the Koyeress airbase to capture Deir Hafer and Meskane and other towns in the Aleppo countryside – and then suddenly surged south east, south of the Euphrates towards Raqqa.

“Our forces are now seven miles from the Euphrates between Raqqa and Deir ez-Zour, 14 miles from the centre of Raqqa and 10 miles from the old Thabqa airbase,” the general almost shouted. “How many Daesh did we kill? I don’t care. I am not interested. Daesh, Nusrah, al-Qaeda, they are all terrorists. Their deaths do not matter. It’s war.”

But, I suggested to General Saleh – because I had been studying my sand-blasted maps and had listened to many a military lecture in Damascus of late – surely his next target would be not Raqqa (already partly invested by American-backed forces) but the huge surrounded Syrian garrison city of Deir ez-Zour with its thousands of trapped civilians.

“Our President has said we will recover every square inch of Syria,” the general replied, repeating the mantra of all Syrian officers of the regime. “Why do you say Deir ez-Zour?” Because, I said, that would release the 10,000 Syrian soldiers in the city to fight on the war front. There was just a hint of a grin on the officer’s face, but then it faded. In fact, I don’t think the Syrians will get involved with the American-supported force fighting for Raqqa – that, after all, was the point of the little “coordination” centre I saw in the desert – but I do believe the Syrian army are heading for Deir ez-Zour. As for the general, of course, he was saying nothing about this. Nor, obviously, did he believe in body counts.

There is, in reality, another intriguing tactic being deployed by the Syrian administration. The local Rif Raqqa governor – “rif” indicates the countryside around a city, not to be confused with the town itself – is now setting up headquarters near General Saleh’s caravan. It’s a real campaign caravan, by the way, which rocks when you step aboard, his office and bedroom combined in one small room, his black walking stick by the bed-head. The local governor, however, is scarcely a mile away, planning the restoration of water and electricity supplies, the financing of public works and relief for refugees.

When I left the area, 29 families – cartloads of children and black-shrouded women and upturned sofas – had just arrived in Rasafeh from Deir ez-Zour to seek the Raqqa governor’s assistance. Another 50 had arrived the previous day. It seemed perfectly obvious that if the Syrian army lets America’s largely Kurdish friends occupy Raqqa, it is going to help the Syrian government civilian administration take over the city by the force of bureaucracy. How would that be for a bloodless victory?

But military self-confidence is often the handmaiden of misadventure. The highway that forms the tip of the Homs-Aleppo triangle has now been extended 60 miles to Resafeh, and General Saleh makes no secret that Isis and its fellow cultists return across the desert after dark to attack his soldiers. These men – many of whom are teenagers – are billeted in tent encampments beside the road, protected by tanks and anti-aircraft guns. And their battles are constant, Isis still placing IED bombs beside the highway today. When I later travelled across the desert to Homs, I followed for some time a truck carrying a 155mm artillery piece so overused that its barrel had split apart.

Yet already, Syrian engineers are restoring electricity capacity from the desert generating stations which have only recently been hideouts for Isis leaders, a power system intimately connected to the Syrian oil fields, slowly being recovered from the Isis enemy, which remain – modest though they are in comparison with the great Gulf, Iraqi and Iranian oil resources – Syria’s “pearl in the desert”. Who controls these wealth machines – how their product will be shared now it has been freed from the Isis mafia – will determine part of Syria’s future political history.

This report provides an interesting insight into Russian and Syrian government thinking on the Kurdish question.

As Robert Fisk has seen for himself political tensions between the Kurdish leadership and the Syrian government are belied by Russian brokered cooperation between the Kurdish and Syrian militaries on the ground.

For the moment the Syrian government has decided – probably following Russian and perhaps Iranian advice – to work with the Kurds in the area rather than against them, whilst using the time provided by Kurds’ focus on fighting ISIS in Raqqa to rebuild the Syrian state’s administrative structures in the area.

The calculation appears to be that once the Kurds have finally ousted ISIS from Raqqa they will have to look to the Syrian government to provide the essential services necessary for the successful administration of  this large Arab (not Kurdish) populated area.  The Syrian government apparently hopes that this will give it decisive leverage in its future negotiations with the Kurds.

Putting aside the tangled question of the future settlement of the Kurdish question, and notwithstanding Robert Fisk’s wise words about the dangers of over-confidence, it is clear that the Syrian army now holds a decisive advantage over ISIS in this area, even if General Saleh’s boast that he could be at the centre of Raqqa in five hours if given the order should not be taken too seriously.

Despite the Syrian army’s extraordinary march across northern Syria, and its recent penetration from southern Raqqa into Deir Ezzor province – which is rapidly becoming ISIS’s last major territorial bastion in Syria – it remains likely that the main advance on Deir Ezzor will not come from the north but from the west ie. along the main road from Palmyra through Al-Sukhnan to Deir Ezzor.

Though neither the Syrians nor the Russians say it openly, the primary purpose of the Syrian army’s advance across southern Raqqa province to the Euphrates river was probably not to prepare the ground for an advance on Deir Ezzor from there but to prevent the Kurds at the US’s instigation from doing that very thing.

That presumably explains General Saleh’s refusal to be drawn by Robert Fish into talking of an advance by his troops towards Deir Ezzor.  General Saleh refused to tell Robert Fisk that he was preparing to do such a thing because that is almost certainly not the plan.

With the Syrian army having apparently now reached the Euphrates river – at least in some places – it seems that this part of the Syrian army’s mission may in large measure have been successfully accomplished.

The focus therefore is on the fighting at Al-Sukhnah.

Though it is clear that the battle for the town is fierce, once it is captured the last major urban centre between the Syrian army and Deir Ezzor will have been taken.  Though on a map the distance between Al-Sukhnah and Deir Ezzor looks greater than the distance between Al-Sukhnah and Palmyra, the road from Palmyra to Al-Sukhnah crosses rugged and easily defended country, whilst east of Al-Sukhnah the country becomes flatter and more open, and better adapted to a rapid advance by motorised troops.

That of course is why ISIS is defending its positions in Al-Sukhnah so fiercely, and why the expectations of some people in the Syrian military of a week ago that the town would be liberated quickly have not so far been fulfilled.

The latest Al-Masdar report however points to the final liberation of Al-Sukhnah being no more than days or possibly even hours away.

If so then the final climactic battle between the Syrian army and ISIS in Deir Ezzor leading to the collapse of ISIS’s Caliphate will begin.

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Damaged goods Saudi Crown Prince MbS remains political thorn in Trump’s side (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 20.

Alex Christoforou

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US President Donald Trump said his administration plans to stand by Saudi Arabia amid the Khashoggi crisis.

In a statement on Tuesday, Trump said he intends to maintain Washington’s strong ties to Saudi leaders, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), despite the “unacceptable and horrible crime” committed against Jamal Khashoggi.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at Trump’s decision to stand by the House of Saud and the Crown prince, as US lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, and mainstream media outlets, have denounced Trump’s statement.

Meanwhile a G20 summit looms in Argentina, where MbS will be in attendance sitting side-by-side with other G20 leaders.

Within the Saudi Kingdom Prince Ahmed, King Salman’s only surviving full brother, has returned to Riyadh after 2-1/2 months abroad, in what many analysts believe to be a bid by the exiled brother to wrestle away the throne from the Crown Prince.

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Read Trump’s full statement below:

America First!

The world is a very dangerous place!

The country of Iran, as an example, is responsible for a bloody proxy war against Saudi Arabia in Yemen, trying to destabilize Iraq’s fragile attempt at democracy, supporting the terror group Hezbollah in Lebanon, propping up dictator Bashar Assad in Syria (who has killed millions of his own citizens), and much more. Likewise, the Iranians have killed many Americans and other innocent people throughout the Middle East. Iran states openly, and with great force, “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!” Iran is considered “the world’s leading sponsor of terror.”

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia would gladly withdraw from Yemen if the Iranians would agree to leave. They would immediately provide desperately needed humanitarian assistance. Additionally, Saudi Arabia has agreed to spend billions of dollars in leading the fight against Radical Islamic Terrorism.

After my heavily negotiated trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Kingdom agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States. This is a record amount of money. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth for the United States. Of the $450 billion, $110 billion will be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and many other great U.S. defense contractors. If we foolishly cancel these contracts, Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries – and very happy to acquire all of this newfound business. It would be a wonderful gift to them directly from the United States!

The crime against Jamal Khashoggi was a terrible one, and one that our country does not condone. Indeed, we have taken strong action against those already known to have participated in the murder. After great independent research, we now know many details of this horrible crime. We have already sanctioned 17 Saudis known to have been involved in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi, and the disposal of his body.

Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an “enemy of the state” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that – this is an unacceptable and horrible crime. King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!

That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region. It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world!

I understand there are members of Congress who, for political or other reasons, would like to go in a different direction – and they are free to do so. I will consider whatever ideas are presented to me, but only if they are consistent with the absolute security and safety of America. After the United States, Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producing nation in the world. They have worked closely with us and have been very responsive to my requests to keeping oil prices at reasonable levels – so important for the world. As President of the United States I intend to ensure that, in a very dangerous world, America is pursuing its national interests and vigorously contesting countries that wish to do us harm. Very simply it is called America First!

Via The Middle East Eye


Washington Post publisher Fred Ryan called Trump’s comments a “betrayal” of American values, accusing the president of putting his personal relationships and “commercial interests” above US interests.

Ryan said the White House should make public any evidence it may have that would contradict an earlier CIA conclusion that bin Salman ordered the assassination of Khashoggi.

“An innocent man, brutally slain, deserves better, as does the cause of truth and justice and human rights,” Ryan said in a statement Tuesday.

He also called on the US Congress to act where Trump has apparently failed. “In this failure of leadership from President Trump, it now falls to Congress to stand up for America’s true values and lasting interests,” Ryan said.

Washington Post editor Karen Attiah, who edited Khashoggi’s columns at the newspaper, called the White House’s statement “juvenile” and “clumsy”.

She also condemned the US president for repeating a “Saudi lie” in his statement, which Trump used to convey Saudi assertions that Khashoggi was “an enemy of the state” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, claims the journalist’s family has refuted as baseless.

In a column published on Tuesday afternoon, Attiah went on to say that Trump’s handling of the crisis emboldens repression and endangers journalists around the world.

“If the administration continues down this path, it will further destroy whatever is left of America’s moral credibility on global human rights and freedom of expression,” she wrote. “It puts truth-seekers and journalists who dare challenge the Saudi regime and other intolerant governments in grave danger, no matter where they live.”

US lawmakers call for MBS to be held accountable

Several members of the US House of Representatives and the US Senate also expressed their dismay at the president’s vow to stand alongside Saudi Arabia despite Khashoggi’s killing.

Bob Corker, the retiring Republican chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, accused Trump of acting like a public relations agent for the Saudi government.

The incoming US House Intelligence Committee chairman, Adam Schiff, said Trump’s statement harms Washington’s standing in the world.

“To say ‘maybe he did and maybe he didn’t,’ or that we are incapable of finding out the truth, or that knowing the truth our silence can be bought with arms sales, undermines the Presidency, credibility of our intelligence professionals, and our role as a champion of human rights,” the congressman said on Twitter.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, said she was “shocked” by the president’s decision not to impose consequences on the Saudi crown prince, also known as MBS, for the murder.

“I plan to vote against any future arms sales and appropriation to Saudi Arabia. I also believe that the United States should consider sanctions against the crown prince and that the Saudi ambassador to the United States should not be allowed to continue in that role,” Feinstein said in a statement.

Left-wing Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders also condemned Trump’s “rambling and dishonest” statement.

Sanders dismissed the White House’s assertion that Tehran, not Riyadh, is to blame for the war in Yemen.

“Trump is clearly very afraid of the prospect of the Senate delivering a serious rebuke to his policy by voting to end U.S. support for the Yemen war. But that is exactly what we will do when we vote on SJ Res 54 next week,” Sanders wrote on Twitter.

Senior Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said although international diplomacy requires dealing with “bad actors and imperfect situations,” the US should not lose its “moral voice” at the world stage.

“While Saudi Arabia is a strategic ally, the behavior of the Crown Prince – in multiple ways – has shown disrespect for the relationship and made him, in my view, beyond toxic,” Graham wrote on Twitter.

“I firmly believe there will be strong bipartisan support for serious sanctions against Saudi Arabia, including appropriate members of the royal family, for this barbaric act which defied all civilized norms.”

Saudi officials have repeatedly denied that the crown prince had any knowledge of the plan to murder Khashoggi or cover up the crime. Still, human rights groups, journalists, UN experts and others have pointed the finger at MBS, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, saying it’s impossible the crown prince was not involved.

Former CIA chief John Brennan, meanwhile, urged the US intelligence agency to release its finding on the murder, criticising Trump’s dishonesty.

“Since Mr. Trump excels in dishonesty, it is now up to members of Congress to obtain & declassify the CIA findings on Jamal Khashoggi’s death. No one in Saudi Arabia – most especially the Crown Prince – should escape accountability for such a heinous act,” he wrote on Twitter.

Brennan has been an outspoken critic of Trump, and previously had his security clearance revoked by the White House.

Iran’s foreign minister weighs in

Trump also used his statement on Khashoggi and Saudi Arabia Tuesday to criticise the Iranian government, saying strong ties between Washington and Riyadh were necessary in “the fight against Iran”.

Shortly after the US president’s comments were made public, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Trump’s decision to bring Tehran into the crisis was “shameful”.

“Mr. Trump bizarrely devotes the FIRST paragraph of his shameful statement on Saudi atrocities to accuse IRAN of every sort of malfeasance he can think of,” Zarif wrote on Twitter.

Zarif then made a dig at Trump’s suggestion – which came over the weekend after a massive, deadly wildfire ravaged parts of California – that Finland prevents wildfires by raking leaves.

“Perhaps we’re also responsible for the California fires, because we didn’t help rake the forests – just like the Finns do?” the Iranian foreign minister asked sarcastically.

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The Geopolitical Strategy Of The US’ Global Hegemony By A Notorious Russophobe Zbigniew Brzezinski

The achievement of a New World Order after 1990 is being tested for some time in Washington.

The Duran

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Authored by Vladislav Sotirovic via Oriental Review:


If we have to use force, it is because we are America.

We are the indispensable nation.

(Madeleine K. Albright, February 1998)[1]

Madam Secretary

As a matter of very fact, regardless to the reality in global politics that the Cold War was over in 1989, Washington continued to drive toward the getting the status of a global hyperpower at any expense for the rest of the world. The Balkans undoubtedly became the first victim in Europe of the old but esthetically repacked American global imperialism. The US’ administration is a key player during the last 25 years of the Balkan crisis caused by the bloody destruction of ex-Yugoslavia[2] in which Washington played a crucial role in three particular historical cases:

  1. Only due to the US’ administration (more precisely due to the last US’ ambassador to Yugoslavia, Warren Zimmermann), a Bosnian-Herzegovinian President Alija Izetbegović (the author of the 1970 Islamic Declaration) rejected already agreed Lisbon Agreement about peaceful resolution of the Bosnian crises which was signed by the official representatives of the Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks in February 1992. Alija Izetbegović was one of those three signatories. The agreement was reached under the auspices of the European Community (the EC, later the European Union) that was represented by the British diplomat Lord Carrington and the Portuguese ambassador José Cutileiro. However, under the US’ protection, a Bosnian-Herzegovinian Bosniak-Croat Government declared independence on March 3rd, 1992 which local Serbs decisively opposed. Therefore, two warmongers, Warren Zimmermann and Alija Izetbegović pushed Bosnia-Herzegovina into the civil war which stopped only in November 21st, 1995 by signing the Dayton Accords in Ohio (Slobodan Milošević, Bill Clinton, Alija Izetbegović and Franjo Tuđman).[3]
  2. It was exactly the US’ administration which crucially blessed the ethnic cleansing of the Serbs from the Republic of Serbian Krayina committed by Croatia’s police and army forces (including and neo-Nazi Ustashi formations) on August 4−5th, 1995. For the realization of this criminal operation (under the secret code Storm/Oluja) Washington gave to Zagreb all logistic, political, diplomatic and military support. As a consequence, around 250,000 Croatia’s Serbs left their homes in two days which were quickly occupied by the Croats.[4]
  3. South Serbia’s Autonomous Province of Kosovo-Metochia was firstly occupied in June 1999 by the NATO/KFOR’ forces and later in February 2008 politically separated from its motherland when Albanian-dominated Kosovo’s Parliament proclaimed the formal independence primarily as a direct consequence of the Serbophobic policy by the US’s administration of President Bill Clinton and his warmongering hawk Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright. Today, Kosovo, except its northern part, is ethnically cleansed from the Serbs[5] and transformed into a mafia state with a silent blessing by Washington and the rest of the Western gangsters from the NATO and the EU who recognized its quasi-independence.[6]

Here is very important to stress that, basically, during the Bill Clinton’ administration, the US’ foreign policy in regard to the Balkans (ex-Yugoslavia) was primarily designed and directed by Madeleine K. Albright who became a chief US’ war criminal at the very end of the 20th century. Who was Mrs. Albright – the author of Madam Secretary: A Memoir, New York: Talk Miramax Books, 2003, 562 pages.[7] Madeleine K. Albright was born in Czechoslovakia in 1937. She was confirmed as the 64th US’ Secretary of State from 1997 to 2001. Her career in the US’ government included positions in the National Security Council and as US’ ambassador to the United Nations. The highest-ranking warmonger female hawk in the history of the US’ Government was telling an unforgetable whitewashed story of lies in her memoirs of the US’ imperialism at the turn of the 21st century. She was the first woman in the US’ history to be appointed to the post of Secretary of State (Minister of Foreign Affairs). For eight years during the first and second Bill Clinton’s terms, she succeeded drastically to ruin America’s image of a democratic and freedom fighting country mainly due to her direct and crucial involvement into the US-led NATO’s aggression on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (the FRY) in 1999 composed by Serbia and Montenegro that was the first aggression of this organization in its 50 years long history of the preparation for the invasion of Russia. The aggression lasted for 78 days from March 24th to June 10th, 1999 and was one of the most brutal and barbaric in the modern history of the world breaking all international laws, rules of war and, most important, the Charter and principles of the UNO. Madeleine K. Albright tried in her memoirs to whitewash her extremely important and even crucial participation in the post-Cold War US’ policy of imperialism but primarily her focal role in the preparation and conduction of the US/NATO’s unprecedented war on the FRY as being one of the most influential policy-makers in her adopted country. The Madam Secretary’s memoirs are firstly the story of a woman of great warmongering character with a fascinating talent to lie and whitewash the truth. Her memoirs are surely a valuable contribution to the political history of aggressive diplomacy of the project of the US’ global hegemony after the collapse of the USSR. But who was her mentor?

Former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright

If we are speaking about the US’ foreign policy, the fundamental question is what are the US policy’s interests and its implications in both the Balkans and Europe.

The US’ involvement in the Balkans and Europe

The achievement of a New World Order after 1990 is being tested for some time in Washington. We have to keep in mind that for some first 20 years after the end of the Cold War, the strongest military and economic power, the leaders of the NATO and the UNO, the initiators of the international peacekeeping missions and negotiations in the regions of „failed states“ in which they provoked the crises and wars, especially at the Balkans, the champions against the international terrorism and crime that was a reaction to their dirty foreign policy of unmasked imperialism and global hegemony, were the USA.[8] Nevertheless, the US’ interests in the Balkans cannot be understood apart from a larger picture of the American interests in Europe in general.

There are many American scientists and politicians who argued that a leadership in Europe will either be American or it will not be, since France and Germany (the axis-powers of the EU) were not too strong to take over and Germany was still in the 1990s too preoccupied with the consequences of its reunification (i.e., the absorption of the DDR). However, the recent (on November 11th, 2018) French President Emmanuel Macron’s initiative to create a joint European Army shows that probably the Europeans finally became enough matured to maintain security in their own home by themselves but not anymore under the umbrella of the US-led NATO. The question, in essence, is not if, but what kind of leadership the US has and will have in the case that the current post-Cold War’s international relations are not going to be drastically changed? In this respect, the US need to be aware that the best leadership is the one shared with other partners, in this case with the EU/NATO, more specifically France, Germany, and Britain but, of course, Russia have to be seriously taken into the consideration too. With the involvement of Russia into a common European security system on the bases of equal reciprocity, friendship and partnership, the final aim will be to obtain a common vision and an efficient coordination in conflict management, as well as in political and economic cooperation. At such a way, the cases of violent destructions and civil wars, for example on the territory of ex-Yugoslavia, will be avoided for sure.

U.S. Marines escorting Yugoslavian soldiers in Kosovo to be handed over to Yugoslavian authorities

The US’ political analysts are keen to suggest that the American presence in Europe should not be regarded as a competition, but rather as a part of the transatlantic partnership between the two continents, as well as a necessity demonstrated by the sad experience in the former Yugoslavia. According to official Washington, the NATO’s intervention in both Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1995 and Kosovo in 1999 (in both cases against the Serbs) under the US’ leadership was the only credible action along with many initiatives taken by the international community.[9] However, on the other side, military intervention is in many cases creating more political and security problems for a longer period of time. It is understandable that the US cannot assist apathetically to the collapse of countries vital to their own interest but such principle is valid to be applied for any great power too. Besides, regional instability only expands, engaging other areas and creating new confrontations. Thus, the economic support offered to some countries, and the military one offered to others shows that the US formally believe in the regional stability as an enforcer of the international stability but in reality only if such stability is put under the umbrella of Washington’s interests and benefits. The case of Kosovo is, probably, the best example of such practice: by bringing a formal stability this province of Serbia is put at the same time under the full Western (primarily American) political control and economic exploitation.[10]

In supporting the NATO’s expansion, there is a hesitation in treating all aspirant countries in a non-discriminatory fashion. And that, because interests are more important than global security, can be the reason. The advocates of the „Pax Americana’s“ view of the global security would publically say that they are not propagating the US as the savior of the world, or the world’s policeman, but they are just the most fervent supporters of the global peace and stability. However, in the practice they are working oppositely: as many as conflicts and insecurity issues in the world, there are more chances and practical opportunities for Washington to become the regional policeman and global savior of the order.[11] In their relationship with other NATO’s countries, the USA regard the process of integration in the Euro-Atlantic space (i.e., the area of the US’ control and administration) as a two-way street in which each partner needs to accomplish its tasks. An addition to those is, of course, the geostrategic position (Turkey instead of Greece, for instance, in the 1974 Cyprus crisis) and short, medium and long-term declarative promises like the economic gratification of security which can at the end to be turned to its opposite side. For instance, the US’ offering military, political and financial assistance to the countries of East-Central and South-East Europe as a mean to build up their security shield against „aggressive“ Russia can be easily transformed into their very insecurity reality coming from the US’ imperialistic policy toward Russia as there were already the cases with Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014 as the „Pax Americana’s“ approach in international relations is as its countereffect just provoking the Russian (and Chinese) counteraction in enhancing its own nuclear and other military potentials as Vladimir Putin exactly stressed during his electoral campaigns.

The US’ geopolitical strategy by Zbig

(Vietnam) war criminal Henry Kissinger (ex-US’ Secretary of State), summarized the post-Cold War’s international relations from the American geopolitical viewpoint:

„Geopolitically, America is an island off the shores of the large landmass of Eurasia, whose resources and population far exceed those of the United States. The domination by a single power of either of Eurasia’s two principal spheres – Europe or Asia – remains a good definition of strategic danger for America, Cold War or no Cold War. For such a grouping would have the capacity to outstrip America economically and, in the end, militarily“.[12]

It is not surprising that in the 1990s there were raised voices in Washington which required that the US has to find a way of dominating Eurasia at any reasonable cost. The US’ neocon warmongering hawks, like Zbigniew Brzezinski, recognized that the area of the enlarged Middle East (with the Balkans, North Africa, and Central Asia) is from the strategical viewpoint, economically, ideologically and above all geopolitically at the center of the Eurasian issue. However, the US’ neocon hawks’ much wider global geopolitical aims which were coming closer to the aim to continue domination in the Middle East were launched during the Bill Clinton’s presidency as a result of a wider shift in the American foreign policy’s profile led by Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright (“Madam Secretary”) and her extremely Russophobic mentor Zbigniew Brzezinski (known as Zbig).

Warsaw-born Zbig (1928−2017) was a focal personality in the US’ foreign policy’s elite establishment since President Jimmy Carter’s administration in which he was a National Security Advisor. During the Ronald Reagan’s administration, Zbig was the main mediator between Washington and its clients in Afghanistan – the anti-Soviet Taliban forces and Osama bin-Laden with whom Zbig has several common photos (in 1979) on which he is training Osama to operate with just donated American guns to fight the Soviets. Further, Zbig has a great influence on the first Bill Clinton’s administration and he was at the same time an early advocate of the NATO’s eastward expansion (started in 1999). It is assumed that it was exactly Zbig who was instrumental in getting the US’ President Bill Clinton to commit himself to this course of the American imperialism in 1994. Furthermore, Brzezinski’s influence on the US’ foreign policy became stronger during the second Clinton’s administration through a Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright – his former pupil at Columbia University. It is worth to note that Albright was working under his supervision in Carter’s administration. If we have to summarize Zbig’s chief imperatives of the US’ imperialistic global policy and geostrategy of the making America world’s hegemon, they are going to be as follows:

  1. To prevent collusion and maintain security among the US’ vassal states (the NATO/EU).
  2. To keep tributaries pliant and protected.
  3. To keep the barbarians (the Russians and their supporters) from coming together.
  4. To consolidate and perpetuate the prevailing geopolitical pluralism in Eurasia by manipulation in order to prevent the emergence of a hostile coalition that could finally attempt to challenge the US’ supremacy in the world.
  5. Those that must be divided and eventually ruled are Germany, Russia, Japan, Iran, and China.[13]

Former US national security advisor Zbigniew Former US national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski

The American direct and infamous participation in the destruction of ex-Yugoslavia in 1991−1995 followed by the 1998−1999 Kosovo’s War can be understood, therefore, as the steps in the realization of Zbig’s geopolitical strategy of making America global hegemon. The US-led bombing of Serbia and Montenegro from March to June 1999 (78 days) was carried out by enlarged NATO and the UNO was only called at the end to sanctify the resulting colonial policy of Washington. The aggression on Serbia and Montenegro was formally justified by a reference to the TV-show plight of Kosovo’s Albanians, developing at the same time the new doctrine of the „humanitarian imperialism“. We have to keep in mind on this place that the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s were fought in a geographical area which is the crucial courtyard of the Eurasian continent that is as such opening a direct way to the ex-Soviet republics on the shores of the Caspian and the energy sources they control.[14] Nevertheless, Kosovo’s War became for the US the genuine precursor of its later invasion of Iraq in 2003.

„Madam Secretary“ was a firm advocate of bombing Serbia and Serbs in Washington primarily due to the direct influence by notorious Russophobe Zbig who saw the Balkan Serbs as „little Russians“ and the Balkan wars of the destruction of ex-Yugoslavia as a testing ground for the US’ policy throughout the whole Caspian and Central Asian area. However, in addition, being an advocate for the US’ oil companies wishing to establish their business on the territory of ex-Soviet Union in the Caucasus and Central Asia, Zbig regarded the American political and geostrategic supremacy in this region as a crucial aim of the US’ foreign policy in the 1990s. In order to accomplish his aim, among other manipulations and instruments, Zbig championed the American support to the Islamic Pakistan, the Taliban Afghanistan (till 9/11) and the Islamic resurgence in Saudi Arabia and even Iran.[15]

Multidimensional aspect of security

It is true that globalization, stability, and security offer to the countries a greater capacity to cooperate and focus on the economic prosperity of its citizens but in practice, this particularly means much more important businesses and more money for the US’ economy and citizens. Today, security has multidimensional aspects. If during the Cold War security only had a military-political component, today it has gained a new aspect – the economic one. The non-military aspects of security comprise everything from macroeconomic stability to environmental health. The proponents of the US’ global hegemony will all the time argue that where there is a harmony (established by the US) and well-being the chances of conflicts to erupt are smaller and the gain is exclusively financial and economic (primarily for the US).

There is, of course, a combination between interest per se and their consequences. To illustrate, the case of Macedonia could be interesting. Macedonia at the first glance benefits of the US’ military presence on her territory since 1991 as it is a geostrategic spot in the Balkans of the highest importance. As a matter of fact, this military presence maintained Macedonia’s economic level at a higher standard than some of the other countries in the area up to 2001, despite the fact that was still the poorest of the former Yugoslav six republics affected by two economic embargos by Greece in 1991−1993. Macedonia was illustrated till 2001, especially by the Western media, as being a success story in conflict prevention and peace maintenance primarily due to the presence of the US/NATO’s military troops. However, in 2001 erupted inter-ethnic conflict between the Slavic Macedonians and the local Albanians (supported by the Kosovo Liberation Army) what brought the question of the US/NATO’s efficiency in the region.

The NATO’s eastward expansion is a particular story of Zbig’s geostrategic designs against his eternal enemy – Russia. It is a fact that just before the NATO’s aggression on Serbia and Montenegro in 1999, this military organization accepted as the member states three East-Central European countries: Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic (the next eastward enlargement was in 2004). Therefore, the southern flank of the NATO between Hungary and Greece became now interrupted only by the territory of ex-Yugoslavia. Subsequently, such situation gave NATO a considerable strategic interest in controlling the Balkans where the Serbs were the most numerous and geostrategically important nation. However, as a direct effect of the NATO’s eastward enlargement, the Iron Curtain was moved further to the east and closer to Russia’s borders with all spectrum of the expected and unexpected consequences of such anti-Russian Drang nach Osten. Now, the Iron Curtain, once dividing Germany, it came in 1999 to run down the eastern borders of Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary, ending on the state-borders of the ex-Yugoslav republics, now independent states. The crux of the matter is that a decade-long process of the NATO’s eastward enlargement became at the beginning of 1999 blocked in the Balkans by the Serbs – the only ex-Yugoslav nation firmly opposing a NATO’s membership. Subsequently, it was exactly Washington to assume the role of leading the NATO to the new anti-Russian front and borders. That was the crucial reason why the Serbs had to be bombed in 1999 and Kosovo occupied by the US-led NATO’s troops in the form of the UNO KFOR. What regards this issue, both Zbig and „Madam Secretary“ were clearly speaking through the mouth of the US’ President Bill Clinton: the stability (the US’ control) in the Balkans could only be established if the EU and the USA do for this region what it was done for Europe after the WWII and Central Europe after the Cold War – occupation and economic-financial exploitation within the formal framework of the NATO’s and EU’ (the USA) enlargement.

Conclusion

The brutal expansion of the NATO is very visible since 1999 and even expected if we are taking into consideration the final aims of the US’ foreign policy in Eurasia framed by a notorious foreign policy gangster – Zbigniew Brzezinski. As a consequence, the EU is going to continue to be America’s main colonial partner in the NATO’s preparations for the war of aggression against Russia and most probably at the same time China. Subsequently, there will be a need for much work and a common will to overcome violence, injustice, and suffering in order to achieve a global security without the hegemonic dominance by any great power.[16]

Endnotes:

[1] Andrew J. Bacevich, American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of U.S. Diplomacy, Cambridge, Massachusetts−London, England: Harvard University Press, 2002, the page before 1.

[2] On the Western approach about a modern Yugoslav history, see in Allcock B. John, Explaining Yugoslavia, London: Hurst & Co, 2000; David Gowland, Richard Dunphy, Charlotte Lythe, The European Mosaic: Contemporary Politics, Economics and Culture, Third Edition, Harlow, Essex, England: Pearson Education Limited, 2006, Section 5.3 Yugoslavia.

[3] About the destruction of ex-Yugoslavia and particularly on the civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, see in Jelena Guskova, Istorija jugoslovenske krize 1990−2000, Beograd: Izdavački grafički atelje “M”, 2003.

[4] Вељко Ђурић Мишина (уредник), Република Српска Крајина. Десет година послије, Београд: „Добра воља“, 2005, 48.

[5] On this issue, see more in Zoran Anđelović, Miroslav Marković (eds.), Days of Terror (In the Presence of the International Forces), Belgrade: Center for Peace and Tolerance, 2000; Dragan Kojadinović (ed.), March Pogrom in Kosovo and Metohija (March 17−19, 2004) With a Survey of Destroyed and Endangered Christian Cultural Heritage, Belgrade: Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia−Museum in Priština (displaced), 2004.

[6] Pierre Pean, Sébastien Fontenelle, Kosovo une guerre juste” pour créer un etat mafieux, Paris: Librairie Arthème Fayard, 2013.

[7] This article is a constructive-critical contribution to the new, revised and updated edition of the memoirs of the “Madam Secretary”.

[8] About the post-Cold War’s US’ foreign policy, especially through the prism of the “Bush Doctrine”, see in David P. Forsythe, Patrice C. McMahon, Andrew Wedeman (eds.), American Foreign Policy in a Globalized World, New York−London: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2006.

[9] About a typical American approach on the case of Yugoslavia’s destruction in the 1990s, see in Susan L. Woodward, Balkan Tragedy: Chaos and Dissolution after the Cold War, Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1995. However, the focal lack of such books is the fact that a crucial US/EU/NATO’ role in creating Balkan tragedy and Yugoslavia’s chaos is omitted.

[10] Hannes Hofbauer, Eksperiment Kosovo: Povratak kolonijalizma, Beograd: Albatros Plus, 2009.

[11] There are well-known words by Theodor Roosevelt uttered in December 1899: “Of course, our whole national history has been one of expansion”.

[12] John Rees, Imperialism and Resistance, New York−London: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2006, 18.

[13] Ibid., 19−20.

[14] About the issue of a strategic environment from the Adriatic to the Caspian, see in Stefano Bianchini (ed.), From the Adriatic to the Caucasus: The Dynamics of (De)Stabilization, Ravenna: Longo Editore Ravenna, 2001.

[15] Differently to all other American warmongers and imperialistic hawks, Zbig favors the alliance with the Shia Islamic Republic of Iran.

[16] On global security, see in Peter Hough, Understanding Global Security, Third edition, New York−London: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2005.

 

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Trump hands over written responses to Mueller’s Russia probe questions

The written answers submitted by Trump Tuesday have the same legal implications as an oral testimony, meaning that if the statements are proven false, he might be accused of perjury.

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A lawyer for Donald Trump has confirmed that the US President has submitted answers to the questions penned by FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team. The questions refer to the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Moscow.

“The president today answered written questions submitted by the special counsel’s office,” Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow said in a statement, as cited by AP.

The issues Trump covered in his responses are “the Russia-related topics of the inquiry,” Sekulow said. Trump’s legal team has indicated that the president would not answer any additional questions aside from potential follow-ups. Likewise, Trump is not expected to answer any questions that refer to allegations of obstruction of justice, with his lawyers insisting that the constitution protects the sitting President from answering questions on policies he conducted while in office.

Trump’s personal lawyer Rudi Giuliani said Tuesday, that “much of what has been asked raised serious constitutional issues and was beyond the scope of a legitimate inquiry,” without elaborating.

Giuliani has not ruled out that Trump might answer further questions if forwarded by Mueller, but said that it is “unlikely we will answer any more questions.”

The contents of both the answers and the questions themselves will not be made public, Sekulow said.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Trump said he prepared the answers himself, and that it did not take him “very long.”

The written answers submitted by Trump Tuesday have the same legal implications as an oral testimony, meaning that if the statements are proven false, he might be accused of perjury.

Trump’s cooperation with Mueller’s office has been seen as a compromise. The president’s attitude toward a potential face-to-face interview with the federal prosecutor has shifted over time. Back in January Trump said that he was “looking forward” to speaking under oath. He doubled down in May, saying that he “would love” to sit down for an interview with Mueller “if treated fairly.” There have been reports, however, that the president’s legal team has been staunchly opposed to a personal encounter between Trump and Mueller and eventually talked the president out of it.

The personal interview might still happen if Mueller’s office issues a subpoena for Trump to testify. However, it would first need to be signed off on by the Acting Attorney General, the probe’s well-known critic Matthew Whitaker, and even then it could be thrown out by the Supreme Court.

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