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Trump couldn’t engage in detente with Russia, but America’s Middle East allies have

Russia is ‘leading from the front’ by creating partnerships with states in the Middle East, just as the US ‘lead from behind’ strategy of employing non-state proxy actors to achieve its aims, has failed.

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Over the last two months, Russia has been using increasingly direct language to state the following:

–The US spares terrorists in Syria including al-Nusrea

–The biggest attacks on Syrian and Russian troops in Deir ez-Zor come from US-proxy SDF held positions

–The US and its proxies collude on the battle field with ISIS

–ISIS moves freely around US controlled areas in Syria and attacks Syrian and Russian forces from those positions

These are incredibly serious allegations, although they are little different than what the Syrian government has been saying for many years. The allegations amount to backing up Damascus, Wikileaks and some of things said by candidate Trump, implying that the US is seriously in cahoots with ISIS, that the known US proxy SDF is a also in cahoots with ISIS and is de-facto a militant group working to undermine Syria’s security and territorial unity and that the US is not actually fighting terrorism in Syria, contrary to boasts from Washington.

In this sense, Russia has seemingly given up on trying to insensitivity the US into cooperation and is instead telling blunt truths about the negative role the US plays in Syrian conflict, truths that Russia had previously been less reticent to spell out so overtly. While Russia has more or less given up on Washington, Moscow remains highly eager to work with traditional US allies throughout the Middle East and Eurasia, many of whom are now equally eager to work with Russia and take advantages of the many benefits of good relations with the Eurasian super-power.

Israel, which is a close US ally and a country that still maintains good relations with Russia, has also weighed in on this new reality. Hardline, Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman has recently said that the US must do more in the region to counter Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and refreshed Arab powers like Syria. While Israel does not necessarily mind Russia’s military presence in the region, Tel Aviv is well aware that Russia’s geo-political strategy in the Middle East is one balance and generally, one of fairness. This contrasts with the adversarial US approach, which virtually always takes Israel’s side over that of any country having a dispute with Tel Aviv. With Russia becoming a more important player in the region and with the US slowly but surely coming to realise its own failures, Israel will have to get used to the Russian language of compromise becoming increasingly prominent. Clearly Israel would prefer US language of undying pro-Israeli rhetoric, but realities are changing and Israel knows this.

While all this is being said, America’s two most prominent state allies in the region, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, are speaking more and more like Russia. Turkey is now standing with Iran and Iraq in saying Ankara has a commitment to the territorial integrity of Syria, Iraq and the wider Arab world and just yesterday the Saudi Foreign Minister said the same, even going further stating that Riyadh supports the stability of the political institutions of Syria. When decoding the diplomatic language, Saudi is essentially saying that it has dropped its long held militant opposition to the secular government of Syrian Prettiness Bashar al-Assad. During a recent meeting of the so-called Syrian opposition in Saudi, the Saudi regime delegates more or less said the same thing.

Saudi FM offers thinly veiled criticism of US during press conference with Sergey Lavrov

Just as Russia’s new found partnership with Turkey has brought Ankara’s leadership closer to Moscow’s regional partners, namely Iran, it is now highly probable that the wide ranging meeting between Saudi and Russian leaders in Moscow, could help ease tensions in the Persian Gulf.

Earlier this year, the Qatari Foreign Minister praised Russia’s role of being a neutral power in the Saudi, Bahraini, Emirati and Egyptian row with Qatar. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia which has led the boycott of Qatar, is now also praising Russia, using incredibly warm language, especially when one considers Saudi’s recent positions in the region which ran totally contrary to that of Russia.

In this sense, if any major power is going to ease tensions between Riyadh and Doha, this will likely be Russia.

As I explained yesterday, by creating an intertwined relationship between Saudi and Russia, this is actually good for Iran, as it gives Russia the ability to use economic incentives to quietly tell Saudi to tone down its anti-Iranian rhetoric. In other words, just as Russia brought Turkey and Iran together, that same economic and geo-political influence can now help to at least ease tensions between Riyadh and Tehran. For clear ideological reasons, Tehran and Riyadh will likely never be partners, but nor do they need to live in a state of constant tension. This is now increasingly possible.

Russia and Saudi Arabia: A case of ‘PEACE FOR OIL and OIL FOR PEACE’

Russia has also exposed a great many failures in Saudi’s own 20 year + geo-strategy. For all the money that Saudi has poured into proxy militant and terrorist groups, in attempts to foment regime change, none of it has worked, particularly in Syria. Iraq’s predominately Shi’a government is stabilising and has an ally in not only non-Arab Shi’a Iran but also now in non-Arab Sunni Turkey. Saudi is increasingly having to accept this reality. In Syria, Saudi’s failure is America’s failure and while it was Turkey’s failure, Ankara has saved face by more or less switching to the winning side, before the conflict officially ends.

In respect of Libya, this was always far more of a Qatari “project regime change” than a Saudi one and Saudi’s increasingly close relations with Sisi’s Egypt which supports the secular Libyan House of Representatives, effectively makes Riyadh’s machinations in Libya redundant, as Egypt has taken the lead. Saudi can do little more than tacitly consent to Egypt’s support for Libya’s leading secular faction, led by Khalifa Haftar.

Finally, with oil prices continuing to fall and with China’s progress in renewable energy threatening to keep the oil price down for many years to come, Saudi has found that as a non-OPEC energy producer, Russia may be a more useful economic partner than the United States, not least because quietly many in the Saudi deep state are privately upset that the US deep state favours former Crown Prince Mohammad bin Nayef (MBN) over the current Crown Prince and lead Saudi policy maker, Mohammad bin Salman (MBS).

After years of close relations with the US, Saudi is now discovering what it is like when leading figures in Washington seek to control the internal political workings of one’s state, and the pro-MBS faction which apparently includes the elderly Saudi King, are not entirely happy about that. Hence. the Saudi Foreign Minister stated that both Saudi and Russia are similar in that they do not seek to interfere in the internal workings of other countries, nor impose alien political systems upon foreign states.

Forgetting the fact that in Saudi’s case, this is historically untrue, the intent of the statement is far more crucial than the context. Saudi is saying that it respects Russia’s hands off approach to the internal realities in the countries it works with, while Saudi is expressing its growing exacerbation over US aims for Saudi which some are saying may go as far as to foment a palace coup in Riyadh in favour of MBN and his supporters.

In this sense, one could say that the US observed the Qatar crisis as a test to see how united a Gulfi country’s elites would be in respect of supporting an embattled leader. In Qatar, the Emir has not fallen and this means that the US might have more difficulty than originally thought if they really seek to foment a palace coup in Saudi Arabia.

Russia is also aware that as oil prices inevitably fall in coming years and as Saudi at least attempts to diversify its economy in line with MBS’ ‘Vision 2030’ programme, Saudi may increasingly fall into Russia’s orbit in the next decade.  As an energy producer desperate for unity among non-OPEC producers such as Russia and also as a country that will rely increasingly on the expertise of countries like Russia (and its ally China) to diversify an economy that since the inception of the Saudi state, has been entirely dependant on energy exports, Riyadh may well find itself embracing the so-called ‘eastern’ model of global commerce.

Saudi Arabia may need Russia more than it needs America

Saudi’s keenness to buy Russian weapons and also to purchase a licence to manufacture Kalashnikov automatic riffles, is a further sign that Riyadh seeks military independence from the United States. Unlike the case with Turkey, where Russian weapons were a more economic option, for Saudi Arabia, money is still essentially no object. In this sense, the weapons deals made with Russia are more of a symbolic gesture than an economic one, even when one accounts for the fact that in many instances, Russian weapons are simply more durable and better crafted than more ornate US made devices.

In this sense Russia is playing the long game which necessitates an understanding of where trends in the oil market will bring Saudi (whether they like it or not) in future years, while also playing the immediate term game of ‘leading from the front’ in the Middle East.

While the US has mastered the art of ‘leading from behind’ in the Middle East, first with Sunni jihadists and now Kurdish militants in Syria and to a degree Kurdish secessionists in Iraq, Russia is leading from the position of working openly with the major state players in both the Middle East and Eurasia. This includes Russia’s traditional allies like Syria and increasingly with its old Iraqi ally,  with rejuvenated Eurasian players like Iran and Pakistan and now with traditional US allies Turkey and Saudi.

Ultimately, the Russian strategy seems to be consolidating more meaningful geo-political as well as economic gains than the US strategy. In this sense, America’s failure to respect the sovereignty of states and even the internal political workings of its own allies, has put the US in a position of having to work with proxies and militants in order to attempt and attain its aims.

Russia’s position of respecting all states, no matter how seemingly different a particular state’s geo-politics are from Russia, has paid off and ultimately, unless a proxy force is as strong as that of a state, the state will always win. Russia’s traditional thinking has once again proved to be a more timeless way of doing geo-politics than the dismemberment inducing proxy strategies of Washington. Distrust is often the first step before isolation. If these trends continue, the US may one day be as isolated from Saudi, as it seemingly already is from its once unshakeable ally Turkey.

Furthermore, this is the price the United States is paying for being unwilling and unable to engage in meaningful detente with Russia. Donald Trump’s failure to actively engage with Russia has led Russia to simply engage directly with US allies throughout the world from Turkey and Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and South Korea.

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European Court of Justice rules Britain free to revoke Brexit unilaterally

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that Britain can reverse Article 50.

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The UK is free to unilaterally revoke a notification to depart from the EU, the European Court has ruled. The judicial body said this could be done without changing the terms of London’s membership in the bloc.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) opined in a document issued on Monday that Britain can reverse Article 50, which stipulates the way a member state leaves the bloc. The potentially important ruling comes only one day before the House of Commons votes on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal with the EU.

“When a Member State has notified the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the European Union, as the UK has done, that Member State is free to revoke unilaterally that notification,” the court’s decision reads.

By doing so, the respective state “reflects a sovereign decision to retain its status as a Member State of the European Union.”

That said, this possibility remains in place “as long as a withdrawal agreement concluded between the EU and that Member State has not entered into force.” Another condition is: “If no such agreement has been concluded, for as long as the two-year period from the date of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU.”

The case was opened when a cross-party group of British politicians asked the court whether an EU member such as the UK can decide on its own to revoke the withdrawal process. It included Labour MEPs Catherine Stihler and David Martin, Scottish MPs Joanna Cherry Alyn Smith, along with Green MSPs Andy Wightman and Ross Greer.

They argued that unilateral revocation is possible and believe it could provide an opening to an alternative to Brexit, namely holding another popular vote to allow the UK to remain in the EU.

“If the UK chooses to change their minds on Brexit, then revoking Article 50 is an option and the European side should make every effort to welcome the UK back with open arms,” Smith, the SNP member, was quoted by Reuters.

However, May’s environment minister, Michael Gove, a staunch Brexit supporter, denounced the ECJ ruling, insisting the cabinet will not reverse its decision to leave. “We will leave on March 29, [2019]” he said, referring to the date set out in the UK-EU Brexit deal.

In the wake of the landmark vote on the Brexit deal, a group of senior ministers threatened to step down en masse if May does not try to negotiate a better deal in Brussels, according to the Telegraph. The ministers demanded that an alternative deal does not leave the UK trapped within the EU customs union indefinitely.

On Sunday, Will Quince resigned as parliamentary private secretary in the Ministry of Defense, saying in a Telegraph editorial that “I do not want to be explaining to my constituents why Brexit is still not over and we are still obeying EU rules in the early 2020s or beyond.”

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Seven Days of Failures for the American Empire

The American-led world system is experiencing setbacks at every turn.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


On November 25, two artillery boats of the Gyurza-M class, the Berdiansk and Nikopol, one tugboat, the Yany Kapu, as well as 24 crew members of the Ukrainian Navy, including two SBU counterintelligence officers, were detained by Russian border forces. In the incident, the Russian Federation employed Sobol-class patrol boats Izumrud and Don, as  well as two Ka-52, two Su-25 and one Su-30 aircraft.

Ukraine’s provocation follows the advice of several American think-tanks like the Atlantic Council, which have been calling for NATO involvement in the Sea of Azov for months. The area is strategically important for Moscow, which views its southern borders, above all the Sea of Azov, as a potential flash point for conflict due to the Kiev’s NATO-backed provocations.

To deter such adventurism, Moscow has deployed to the Kerch Strait and the surrounding coastal area S-400 batteries, modernized S-300s, anti-ship Bal missile systems, as well as numerous electronic-warfare systems, not to mention the Russian assets and personnel arrayed in the military districts abutting Ukraine. Such provocations, egged on by NATO and American policy makers, are meant to provide a pretext for further sanctions against Moscow and further sabotage Russia’s relations with European countries like Germany, France and Italy, as well as, quite naturally, to frustrate any personal interaction between Trump and Putin.

This last objective seems to have been achieved, with the planned meeting between Trump and Putin at the G20 in Buenos Aires being cancelled. As to the the other objectives, they seem to have failed miserably, with Berlin, Paris and Rome showing no intention of imposing additional sanctions against Russia, recognizing the Ukrainian provocation fow what it is. The intention to further isolate Moscow by the neocons, neoliberals and most of the Anglo-Saxon establishment seems to have failed, demonstrated in Buenos Aires with the meeting between the BRICS countries on the sidelines and the bilateral meetings between Putin and Merkel.

On November 30, following almost two-and-a-half months of silence, the Israeli air force bombed Syria with three waves of cruise missiles. The first and second waves were repulsed over southern Syria, and the third, composed of surface-to-surface missiles, were also downed. At the same time, a loud explosion was heard in al-Kiswah, resulting in the blackout of Israeli positions in the area.

The Israeli attack was fully repulsed, with possibly two IDF drones being downed as well. This effectiveness of Syria’s air defenses corresponds with Russia’s integration of Syria’s air defenses with its own systems, manifestly improving the Syrians’ kill ratios even without employing the new S-300 systems delivered to Damascus, let alone Russia’s own S-400s. The Pantsirs and S-200s are enough for the moment, confirming my hypothesis more than two months ago that the modernized S-300 in the hands of the Syrian army is a potentially lethal weapon even for the F-35, forbidding the Israelis from employing their F-35s.

With the failed Israeli attack testifying to effectiveness of Russian air-defense measures recently deployed to the country, even the United States is finding it difficult to operate in the country. As the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War confirms:

“Russia has finished an advanced anti-access/area denial (A2AD) network in Syria that combines its own air defense and electronic warfare systems with modernized equipment. Russia can use these capabilities to mount the long-term strategic challenge of the US and NATO in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and the Middle East, significantly widen the geographic reach of Russia’s air defense network. Russia stands to gain a long-term strategic advantage over NATO through its new capabilities in Syria. The US and NATO must now account for the risk of a dangerous escalation in the Middle East amidst any confrontation with Russia in Eastern Europe.”

The final blow in a decidedly negative week for Washington’s ambitions came in Buenos Aires during the G20, where Xi Jinping was clearly the most awaited guest, bringing in his wake investments and opportunities for cooperation and mutual benefit, as opposed to Washington’s sanctions and tariffs for its own benefit to the detriment of others. The key event of the summit was the dinner between Xi Jinping and Donald Trump that signalled Washington’s defeat in the trade war with Beijing. Donald Trump fired the first shot of the economic war, only to succumb just 12 months later with GM closing five plants and leaving 14,000 unemployed at home as Trump tweeted about his economic achievements.

Trump was forced to suspend any new tariffs for a period of ninety days, with his Chinese counterpart intent on demonstrating how an economic war between the two greatest commercial powers had always been a pointless propagandistic exercise. Trump’s backtracking highlights Washington’s vulnerability to de-dollarization, the Achilles’ heel of US hegemony.

The American-led world system is experiencing setbacks at every turn. The struggle between the Western elites seems to be reaching a boil, with Frau Merkel ever more isolated and seeing her 14-year political dominance as chancellor petering out. Macron seems to be vying for the honor of being the most unpopular French leader in history, provoking violent protests that have lasted now for weeks, involving every sector of the population. Macron will probably be able to survive this political storm, but his political future looks dire.

The neocons/neoliberals have played one of the last cards available to them using the Ukrainian provocation, with Kiev only useful as the West’s cannon fodder against Russia. In Syria, with the conflict coming to a close and Turkey only able to look on even as it maintains a strong foothold in Idlib, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States are similarly unable to affect the course of the conflict. The latest Israeli aggression proved to be a humiliation for Tel Aviv and may have signalled a clear, possibly definitive warning from Moscow, Tehran and Damascus to all the forces in the region. The message seems to be that there is no longer any possibility of changing the course of the conflict in Syria, and every provocation from here on will be decisively slapped down. Idlib is going to be liberated and America’s illegal presence in the north of Syria will have to be dealt with at the right time.

Ukraine’s provocation has only strengthened Russia’s military footprint in Crimea and reinforced Russia’s sovereign control over the region. Israel’s recent failure in Syria only highlights how the various interventions of the US, the UK, France and Turkey over the years have only obliged the imposition of an almost unparalleled A2AD space that severely limits the range of options available to Damascus’s opponents.

The G20 also served to confirm Washington’s economic diminution commensurate with its military one in the face of an encroaching multipolar environment. The constant attempts to delegitimize the Trump administration by America’s elites, also declared an enemy by the European establishment, creates a picture of confusion in the West that benefits capitals like New Delhi, Moscow, Beijing and Tehran who offer instead stability, cooperation and dialogue.

As stated in previous articles, the confusion reigning amongst the Western elites only accelerates the transition to a multipolar world, progressively eroding the military and economic power of the US.

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Is Silicon Valley Morphing Into The Morality Police?

Who gets to define what words and phrases protected under the First Amendment constitute hate — a catchall word that is often ascribed to any offensive speech someone simply doesn’t like?

The Duran

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Authored by Adrian Cohen via Creators.com:


Silicon Valley used to be technology companies. But it has become the “morality police,” controlling free speech on its platforms.

What could go wrong?

In a speech Monday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said:

“Hate tries to make its headquarters in the digital world. At Apple, we believe that technology needs to have a clear point of view on this challenge. There is no time to get tied up in knots. That’s why we only have one message for those who seek to push hate, division and violence: You have no place on our platforms.”

Here’s the goliath problem:

Who gets to define what words and phrases protected under the First Amendment constitute hate — a catchall word that is often ascribed to any offensive speech someone simply doesn’t like?

Will Christians who don’t support abortion rights or having their tax dollars go toward Planned Parenthood be considered purveyors of hate for denying women the right to choose? Will millions of Americans who support legal immigration, as opposed to illegal immigration, be labeled xenophobes or racists and be banned from the digital world?

Yes and yes. How do we know? It’s already happening, as scores of conservatives nationwide are being shadow banned and/or censored on social media, YouTube, Google and beyond.

Their crime?

Running afoul of leftist Silicon Valley executives who demand conformity of thought and simply won’t tolerate any viewpoint that strays from their rigid political orthodoxy.

For context, consider that in oppressive Islamist regimes throughout the Middle East, the “morality police” take it upon themselves to judge women’s appearance, and if a woman doesn’t conform with their mandatory and highly restrictive dress code — e.g., wearing an identity-cloaking burqa — she could be publicly shamed, arrested or even stoned in the town square.

In modern-day America, powerful technology companies are actively taking the role of the de facto morality police — not when it comes to dress but when it comes to speech — affecting millions. Yes, to date, those affected are not getting stoned, but they are being blocked in the digital town square, where billions around the globe do their business, cultivate their livelihoods, connect with others and get news.

That is a powerful cudgel to levy against individuals and groups of people. Wouldn’t you say?

Right now, unelected tech billionaires living in a bubble in Palo Alto — when they’re not flying private to cushy climate summits in Davos — are deciding who gets to enjoy the freedom of speech enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and who does not based on whether they agree with people’s political views and opinions or not.

You see how dangerous this can get — real fast — as partisan liberal elites running Twitter, Facebook, Google (including YouTube), Apple and the like are now dictating to Americans what they can and cannot say online.

In communist regimes, these types of folks are known as central planners.

The election of Donald Trump was supposed to safeguard our freedoms, especially regarding speech — a foundational pillar of a democracy. It’s disappointing that hasn’t happened, as the censorship of conservative thought online has gotten so extreme and out of control many are simply logging off for good.

A failure to address this mammoth issue could cost Trump in 2020. If his supporters are blocked online — where most voters get their news — he’ll be a one-term president.

It’s time for Congress to act before the morality police use political correctness as a Trojan horse to decide our next election.

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