Connect with us

Latest

Analysis

News

Summing up the Trump-Putin meeting: good bonding; limited progress on Syria, Ukraine and cyber security

Effective Russian diplomacy meant that the first Trump-Putin summit though leading to no breakthroughs made important if limited progress on a number of topics whilst establishing a genuine connection between the two Presidents.

Alexander Mercouris

Published

on

3,245 Views

The single most important fact about the Trump-Putin meeting is that it went on for 2 hours, four times longer than planned.  What was supposed to be a brief encounter on the sidelines of the G20 summit became a deep and animated conversation the two men didn’t want to end.

This is not wholly unexpected.  The Russians before the meeting had signalled that the meeting would cover the full range of US-Russians relation.  Since it is hardly possible that could be done in a meeting lasting no more than half an hour – especially one conducted through interpreters – they must have anticipated that it would go on for longer.

In addition Putin came to the meeting clearly looking for progress on three specific points, which I suspect the Russians communicated to the US through Secretary of State Tillerson some time before.  These were (1) for a ceasefire in southern Syria; (2) for US involvement in the diplomacy Ukrainian conflict; and (3) for the establishment of a joint cyber security working group.

I do not know for a fact that it was the Russians who instigated the discussion of these three issues, though Tillerson has confirmed that it was they who proposed US involvement in the diplomacy to end the Ukrainian conflict.  It is likely however that they were.  To see why it is necessary to discuss these three issues in detail:

(1) southern Syria ceasefire

The conditions for a ceasefire in southern Syria are now favourable at least in theory, with ISIS driven out of most of southern Syria, and the US base at Al-Tanf effectively cut off by the Syrian army from fighting ISIS and left with nothing therefore to do.

Behind the ceasefire proposal must however be Russian concern about the effect of the recent US ‘warning’ of US action against Syria in the event of a further chemical attack.

No such chemical attack has happened, undoubtedly because the Syrian military never planned one.  However, as many people have been pointing out – including myself, but most especially Russia’s redoubtable foreign ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova – the US ‘warning’ is all but a green light to Al-Qaeda in Syria to stage a ‘false flag’ chemical attack in order to get the US to attack Syria for them.

That is a risk the Russians will be anxious to reduce or head off so far as possible.  Moreover the US military – which as has become clear has no wish to be dragged into a possible shooting war with the Russians in Syria – will share this concern.

The proposed ceasefire in southern Syria appears to be at least in part intended to address this problem.

The most dangerous area of potential conflict between the Syrian army and the US’s Syrian ‘Free Syrian Army’ proxies, and therefore by definition the most likely flashpoint in any future conflict between the US and the Russian military, is southern Syria.  The dangers from a ‘false flag’ chemical attack in this area is therefore especially high.

Though a ‘false flag’ chemical attack in this area can never be ruled out, all the more so as ceasefires in Syria are never fully honoured, some degree of ‘deconfliction’ in this area might reduce this possibility.

Nothing anyway is lost by trying, and from a Russian point of view a ceasefire in this area is desirable anyway, if only because it reduces the danger of the US interfering in the Syrian military’s advance on Deir Ezzor, and allows the Syrian military to concentrate more of its troops on fighting ISIS there.

As for the US, not only is the US military probably as anxious to reduce the risk of a ‘false flag’ attack in this area as the Russians are, but the Syrian advance to the Iraqi border has effectively ended the rationale for the US military being there anyway.

So far as one can tell the US deployment to Al-Tanf was intended to provide a base for an advance by the US’s ‘Free Syrian Army’ proxies from this area into central and eastern Syria, obviously to defeat ISIS there but also to deny this large territory to the Syrian military.  With the US’s Al-Tanf base and the large Jihadi enclave around it now however surrounded by the Syrian army, the US’s ‘Free Syrian Army’ proxies cannot advance north into central and eastern Syria unless the US military is prepared to attack the Syrian military on their behalf.  Since that would certainly lead to a clash with the Russians – something the US military is anxious at all costs to avoid – this plan is no longer workable.

It therefore makes sense for the US to withdraw from this area, using a ceasefire as cover.

To be clear, that does not mean the US is quitting Syria.  It means that the US is giving up on its southern front so that it can better focus on its northern front, where the strong support the US has from its Kurdish allies means that its presence is already much greater.

Both the US and Russia therefore had good reasons to agree to a ceasefire in southern Syria.  It is likely the Russians proposed it – as they have proposed most of the ceasefires in Syria – but the US would had good reasons to agree.

The result is the agreement for a ceasefire in southern Syria that came out of the Trump-Putin meeting.  Since it frees more Syrian troops to fight ISIS and reduces the danger of a clash between the US and Russian militaries in Syria, it is an unequivocally good thing.

(2) US involvement in the Ukrainian conflict

The Russians consider the US largely responsible for the Ukrainian conflict, which they see as caused by a US strategy to separate Ukraine from Russia so as to draw it into NATO.

However from a Russian point of view it now makes sense to involve the US – or perhaps more accurately the Trump administration – in the negotiations to settle the Ukrainian conflict.

Those negotiations are supposed to be based on the Minsk Agreement of February 2015.  The negotiations have however being going nowhere because the Maidan regime in Ukraine is adamantly opposed to implementation of the terms of the Minsk Agreement, which would permanently end its attempt to create a monocultural ethnicist Ukraine distanced as far as possible from Russia and anchored in NATO and Europe.

In his comments about Ukraine made during his press conference at the end of the G20 summit Putin set it all out

The interests of Russia and Ukraine, the interests of the Russian and Ukraine people – and I am fully and profoundly confident of this – coincide. Our interests fully coincide. The only thing that does not coincide is the interests of the current Ukrainian authorities and some of Ukraine’s political circles. If we are to be objective, of course, both Ukraine and Russia are interested in cooperating with each other, joining their competitive advantages and developing their economies just because we have inherited much from the Soviet era – I am speaking about cooperation, the unified infrastructure and the energy industry, transport, and so on.

But regrettably, today our Ukrainian colleagues believe this can be neglected. They have only one ”product“ left – Russophobia, and they are selling it successfully. Another thing they are selling is the policy of dividing Russia and Ukraine and pulling the two peoples and two nations apart. Some in the West like this; they believe that Russia and Ukraine must not be allowed to get closer in any areas. That is why the current Ukrainian authorities are making active and successful efforts to sell this ”product.“

These facts are also well known by all the other parties to the Ukrainian conflict.  The difficulty is that the person who has assumed largely by default the biggest role in the West’s diplomacy to end the conflict – Chancellor Merkel of Germany – is far too publicly committed to supporting the Maidan regime to do anything about it.

The result is that the negotiations are stuck and are going nowhere.

The Obama administration, which was the US administration during whose time the Maidan coup in Ukraine took place, was also publicly committed to supporting the Maidan regime.  Since it was the Obama administration’s top officials – Biden, Nuland and Pyatt – who were responsible for the Maidan coup happening in the first place it could hardly be otherwise.

There was therefore little realistic possibility of the Obama administration ever applying sufficient pressure either on the Maidan regime or on Angela Merkel to have the Minsk Agreement implemented, even though there are some indications that some Obama administration officials lobbied for it.

The Trump administration by contrast comes to the Ukrainian conflict with an essentially clean slate.  Secretary of State Tillerson has openly expressed his skepticism about the value of committing US tax dollars to supporting the Maidan regime in Ukraine, and Donald Trump himself has shown little interest in the issue.  That at least in theory ought to make it easier for the Trump administration to change course.

From the Russian point of view it anyway always makes better sense to talk directly to the organ grinder rather than his monkey, so opening a direct channel to Washington to talk about Ukraine – sidelining Angela Merkel – makes complete sense.

Trump and Tillerson were receptive to the Russian idea, and a US special envoy – Kurt Volker, a US career diplomat brought out of retirement – has been appointed to fulfil this role.  In announcing the appointment Tillerson confirmed that the initiative for it came from the Russians

At the request of President (Vladimir) Putin, the United States has appointed … a special representative for Ukraine, Ambassador Kurt Volker

Though Ukrainian President Poroshenko has welcomed the move (what else can he do?) some ex-Obama officials have already reacted sourly to Tillerson’s admission that the US’s decision to appoint a special envoy for Ukraine was made at Putin’s suggestion

Julie Smith, a former Pentagon official who worked on European and NATO policy during the Obama administration, praised the choice of Volker as Ukraine envoy, but said she was puzzled at Tillerson’s statement that he filled the position at Putin’s request.

“So Ukraine didn’t matter enough to this administration to have them appoint a special envoy in the first place?” said Smith, now a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. “It was a bizarre word choice.”

Whether the appointment of a US special envoy for Ukraine really will change anything, and whether it will cause Merkel to be sidelined, remains to be seen.  However it is the first instance I know of when the US has agreed to do something  in relation to the Ukrainian conflict after Russia proposed it.

(3) cybersecurity working group

The Western media has made huge play about the fact that Donald Trump ‘challenged’ Putin over the claims that Russia hacked the DNC’s and John Podesta’s computers during the US election campaign.

Given the pressure Trump is under he had no choice, a fact known to Putin, who would have taken the ‘challenge’ philosophically.

Putin and the Russians have however -and with some skill – sought to move beyond this issue and to turn it as far as they can to their advantage by getting the US to agree to the setting up of a joint working party on cybersecurity.

In his press conference at the end of the G20 summit Putin explained it this way

But what is important is that we have agreed that there should not be any uncertainty in this sphere, especially in the future. By the way, I mentioned at the latest summit session that this directly concerns cyberspace, web resources and so on.

The US President and I have agreed to establish a working group and make joint efforts to monitor security in the cyberspace, ensure full compliance with international laws in this area, and to prevent interference in countries’ internal affairs. Primarily this concerns Russia and the United States. We believe that if we succeed in organising this work – and I have no doubt that we will – there will be no more speculation over this matter.

The background to this is that at as Putin disclosed to Oliver Stone during the Putin Interviews the US has previously refused to discuss cybersecurity with the Russians.

Obviously this was because of US confidence of US superiority in this area.

What Putin and the Russians have done is used the Russiagate allegations – which they deny – to get the US to accept that this is an issue the US also needs to talk about.  As a result the Russians have persuaded the US to agree to something they had previously refused to do: talk about cybersecurity through the setting up of a joint working group to discuss the issue.

This is not the start of a negotiation on a future international cybersecurity treaty governing the use of cyber weapons, something Putin told Oliver Stone the Russians had previously proposed to the US but which the US refused to consider.  However Putin’s words show that the Russians hope it might eventually evolve into something like that.  The point is that from the Russian point of view it is real if only limited progress to have got the US at last talking about this issue.

One particular point that the Russians will undoubtedly have had in mind when they proposed the setting up of this joint working party is the recent confirmation that the Obama administration in the last weeks of its existence ordered the NSA to plant ‘cyber bombs’ in Russia’s infrastructure.

Apparently work on planting these ‘cyber bombs’ is still going on.

The Russians are certain to bring up the question of these ‘cyber bombs’ in the discussions of the joint working party.  It will be interesting to see what the reaction of the US will be.

Summary

The first Trump-Putin summit, with Trump both inexperienced and under severe pressure at home, was never going to be an easy summit.  However it is striking that Russian diplomacy still managed to use this unpromising summit to make progress – however tentative and limited – on three important issues in a way that works towards achieving Russia’s objectives.

The agreements made, though very limited in scope, are still from the Russian point of view useful, whilst the Russians seem to have taken care to pitch their proposals to be within the range of what President Trump could agree to.

As for President Trump, he is to be commended for having accepted these proposals so quickly and so readily.  Doing so was as much in the US’s interests as in Russia’s interests.

This is how diplomacy is done.  Putin and the Russians in Hamburg gave Trump a class in how to do it, and he came out well, far better in my opinion than Barack Obama ever did.  That holds promise for the future.

In all respects this was a far better summit than the US-Chinese summit at Mar-a-Lago, which the Chinese sought too early, and which the inexperienced Trump was unsure how to host.

For the rest, it seems that Trump and Putin genuinely got on with each other.

The most important fact about the summit as I said previously was that it went on for so long.  Usually when a meeting goes over time in this way it is either because there is a row or because those involved discover that they have a lot to talk about and are able to say it to each other.

This summit was clearly of the second sort.  It seems that Melania tried at one point to hurry the two men along, but they preferred to go on talking to each other even if that meant delaying later meetings.

Not surprisingly Trump has referred to the meeting as “tremendous“.  Putin as is his way was more analytical and more detailed

As regards personal relations, I believe that they have been established. This is how I see it: Mr Trump’s television image is very different from the real person; he is a very down to earth and direct person, and he has an absolutely adequate attitude towards the person he is talking with; he analyses things pretty fast and answers the questions he is asked or new ones that arise in the course of the discussion. So I think that if we build our relations in the vein of our yesterday’s meeting, there are good reasons to believe that we will be able to revive, at least partially, the level of interaction that we need.

(bold italics added)

Coming from Putin – the most experienced leader in the world today and an acknowledged master of diplomacy who is known for saying it as it is – the highlighted words are high praise.

In summary this was a genuinely successful summit, producing more of substance than most people expected, and promising well for the future.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of

Latest

Canada to Pay Heavy Price for Trudeau’s Groupie Role in US Banditry Against China

Trudeau would had to have known about the impending plot to snatch Huawei CFO Wanzhou and moreover that he personally signed off on it.

Published

on

Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


You do have to wonder about the political savvy of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government. The furious fallout from China over the arrest of a senior telecoms executive is going to do severe damage to Canadian national interests.

Trudeau’s fawning over American demands is already rebounding very badly for Canada’s economy and its international image.

The Canadian arrest – on behalf of Washington – of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, seems a blatant case of the Americans acting politically and vindictively. If the Americans are seen to be acting like bandits, then the Canadians are their flunkies.

Wanzhou was detained on December 1 by Canadian federal police as she was boarding a commercial airliner in Vancouver. She was reportedly handcuffed and led away in a humiliating manner which has shocked the Chinese government, media and public.

The business executive has since been released on a $7.4 million bail bond, pending further legal proceedings. She is effectively being kept under house arrest in Canada with electronic ankle tagging.

To add insult to injury, it is not even clear what Wanzhou is being prosecuted for. The US authorities have claimed that she is guilty of breaching American sanctions against Iran by conducting telecoms business with Tehran. It is presumed that the Canadians arrested Wanzhou at the request of the Americans. But so far a US extradition warrant has not been filed. That could take months. In the meantime, the Chinese businesswoman will be living under curfew, her freedom denied.

Canadian legal expert Christopher Black says there is no juridical case for Wanzhou’s detention. The issue of US sanctions on Iran is irrelevant and has no grounds in international law. It is simply the Americans applying their questionable national laws on a third party. Black contends that Canada has therefore no obligation whatsoever to impose those US laws regarding Iran in its territory, especially given that Ottawa and Beijing have their own separate bilateral diplomatic relations.

In any case, what the real issue is about is the Americans using legal mechanisms to intimidate and beat up commercial rivals. For months now, Washington has made it clear that it is targeting Chinese telecoms rivals as commercial competitors in a strategic sector. US claims about China using telecoms for “spying” and “infiltrating” American national security are bogus propaganda ruses to undermine these commercial rivals through foul means.

It also seems clear from US President Donald Trump’s unsubtle comments this week to Reuters, saying he would “personally intervene” in the Meng case “if it helped trade talks with China”, that the Huawei executive is being dangled like a bargaining chip. It was a tacit admission by Trump that the Americans really don’t have a legal case against her.

Canada’s foreign minister Chrystia Freeland bounced into damage limitation mode following Trump’s thuggish comments. She said that the case should not be “politicized” and that the legal proceedings should not be tampered with. How ironic is that?

The whole affair has been politicized from the very beginning. Meng’s arrest, or as Christopher Black calls it “hostage-taking”, is driven by Washington’s agenda of harassment against China for commercial reasons, under a legal pretext purportedly about Iranian sanctions.

When Trump revealed the cynical expediency of him “helping to free Wanzhou”, then the Canadians realized they were also being exposed for the flunkies that they are for American banditry. That’s why Freeland was obliged to quickly adopt the fastidious pretense of legal probity.

Canadian premier Justin Trudeau has claimed that he wasn’t aware of the American request for Wanzhou’s detention. Trudeau is being pseudo. For such a high-profile infringement against a senior Chinese business leader, Ottawa must have been fully briefed by the Americans. Christopher Black, the legal expert, believes that Trudeau would had to have known about the impending plot to snatch Wanzhou and moreover that he personally signed off on it.

What Trudeau and his government intended to get out of performing this sordid role for American thuggery is far from clear. Maybe after being verbally mauled by Trump as “weak and dishonest” at the G7 summit earlier this year, in June, Trudeau decided it was best to roll over and be a good little puppy for the Americans in their dirty deed against China.

But already it has since emerged that Canada is going to pay a very heavy price indeed for such dubious service to Washington. Beijing has warned that it will take retaliation against both Washington and Ottawa. And it is Ottawa that is more vulnerable to severe repercussions.

This week saw two Canadian citizens, one a former diplomat, detained in China on spying charges.

Canadian business analysts are also warning that Beijing can inflict harsh economic penalties on Ottawa. An incensed Chinese public have begun boycotting Canadian exports and sensitive Canadian investments in China are now at risk from being blocked by Beijing. A proposed free trade deal that was being negotiated between Ottawa and Beijing now looks dead in the water.

And if Trudeau’s government caves in to the excruciating economic pressure brought to bear by Beijing and then abides by China’s demand to immediately release Meng Wanzhou, Ottawa will look like a pathetic, gutless lackey to Washington. Canada’s reputation of being a liberal, independent state will be shredded. Even then the Chinese are unlikely to forget Trudeau’s treachery.

With comic irony, there’s a cringemaking personal dimension to this unseemly saga.

During the 197os when Trudeau’s mother Margaret was a thirty-something socialite heading for divorce from his father, then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, she was often in the gossip media for indiscretions at nightclubs. Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards claims in his autobiography that Margaret Trudeau was a groupie for the band, having flings with Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood. Her racy escapades and louche lifestyle brought shame to many Canadians.

Poor Margaret Trudeau later wound up divorced, disgraced, financially broke and scraping a living from scribbling tell-all books.

Justin, her eldest son, is finding out that being a groupie for Washington’s banditry is also bringing disrepute for him and his country.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

US Commits To “Indefinite” Occupation Of Syria; Controls Region The Size Of Croatia

Raqqa is beginning to look more and more like Baghdad circa 2005.

Published

on

Via Zerohedge


“We don’t want the Americans. It’s occupation” — a Syrian resident in US-controlled Raqqa told Stars and Stripes military newspaper. This as the Washington Post noted this week that “U.S. troops will now stay in Syria indefinitely, controlling a third of the country and facing peril on many fronts.”

Like the “forever war” in Afghanistan, will we be having the same discussion over the indefinite occupation of Syria stretching two decades from now? A new unusually frank assessment in Stars and Stripes bluntly lays out the basic facts concerning the White House decision to “stay the course” until the war’s close:

That decision puts U.S. troops in overall control, perhaps indefinitely, of an area comprising nearly a third of Syria, a vast expanse of mostly desert terrain roughly the size of Louisiana.

The Pentagon does not say how many troops are there. Officially, they number 503, but earlier this year an official let slip that the true number may be closer to 4,000

A prior New Yorker piece described the US-occupied area east of the Euphrates as “an area about the size of Croatia.” With no Congressional vote, no public debate, and not even so much as an official presidential address to the nation, the United States is settling in for another endless occupation of sovereign foreign soil while relying on the now very familiar post-911 AUMF fig leaf of “legality”.

Like the American public and even some Pentagon officials of late have been pointing out for years regarding Afghanistan, do US forces on the ground even know what the mission is? The mission may be undefined and remain ambiguously to “counter Iran”, yet the dangers and potential for major loss in blood and treasure loom larger than ever.

According to Stars and Stripes the dangerous cross-section of powder keg conflicts and geopolitical players means “a new war” is on the horizon:

The new mission raises new questions, about the role they will play and whether their presence will risk becoming a magnet for regional conflict and insurgency.

The area is surrounded by powers hostile both to the U.S. presence and the aspirations of the Kurds, who are governing the majority-Arab area in pursuit of a leftist ideology formulated by an imprisoned Turkish Kurdish leader. Signs that the Islamic State is starting to regroup and rumblings of discontent within the Arab community point to the threat of an insurgency.

Without the presence of U.S. troops, these dangers would almost certainly ignite a new war right away, said Ilham Ahmed, a senior official with the Self-Administration of North and East Syria, as the self-styled government of the area is called.

“They have to stay. If they leave and there isn’t a solution for Syria, it will be catastrophic,” she said.

But staying also heralds risk, and already the challenges are starting to mount.
So a US-backed local politician says the US can’t leave or there will be war, while American defense officials simultaneously recognize they are occupying the very center of an impending insurgency from hell — all of which fits the textbook definition of quagmire perfectly.

The New Yorker: “The United States has built a dozen or more bases from Manbij to Al-Hasakah, including four airfields, and American-backed forces now control all of Syria east of the Euphrates, an area about the size of Croatia.”

But in September the White House announced a realignment of its official priorities in Syria, namely to act “as a bulwark against Iran’s expanding influence.” This means the continued potential and likelihood of war with Syria, Iran, and Russia in the region is ever present, per Stripes:

Syrian government troops and Iranian proxy fighters are to the south and west. They have threatened to take the area back by force, in pursuit of President Bashar Assad’s pledge to bring all of Syria under government control.

Already signs of an Iraq-style insurgency targeting US forces in eastern Syria are beginning to emerge.

In Raqqa, the largest Syrian city at the heart of US occupation and reconstruction efforts, the Stripes report finds the following:

The anger on the streets is palpable. Some residents are openly hostile to foreign visitors, which is rare in other towns and cities freed from Islamic State control in Syria and Iraq. Even those who support the presence of the U.S. military and the SDF say they are resentful that the United States and its partners in the anti-ISIS coalition that bombed the city aren’t helping to rebuild.

And many appear not to support their new rulers.

We don’t want the Americans. It’s occupation,” said one man, a tailor, who didn’t want to give his name because he feared the consequences of speaking his mind. “I don’t know why they had to use such a huge number of weapons and destroy the city. Yes, ISIS was here, but we paid the price. They have a responsibility.”

Recent reports out of the Pentagon suggests defense officials simply want to throw more money into US efforts in Syria, which are further focused on training and supplying the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (or Kurdish/YPG-dominated SDF), which threatens confrontation with Turkey as its forces continue making preparations for a planned attack on Kurdish enclaves in Syria this week.

Meanwhile, Raqqa is beginning to look more and more like Baghdad circa 2005:

Everyone says the streets are not safe now. Recent months have seen an uptick in assassinations and kidnappings, mostly targeting members of the security forces or people who work with the local council. But some critics of the authorities have been gunned down, too, and at night there are abductions and robberies.

As America settles in for yet another endless and “indefinite” occupation of a Middle East country, perhaps all that remains is for the president to land on an aircraft carrier with “Mission Accomplished” banners flying overhead?

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

The real reason Western media & CIA turned against Saudi MBS

The problem with MBS isn’t that he is a mass murdering war criminal, it is that he is too “independent” for the United States’ liking.

RT

Published

on

By

Via RT…


Forces are aligning against Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, lead by elements within the CIA and strong players in the mainstream media. But what is really behind this deterioration in relationship, and what are its implications?

Following the brutal murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, western media and various entities, including the CIA, appear to have turned their back on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS). In response to the scandal, the Guardian released a video which its celebutante, Owen Jones, captioned“Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest threats on Earth. Time to stop propping up its repulsive regime.”

The Guardian was not alone in its condemnation. “It’s high time to end Saudi impunity,” wrote Hana Al-Khamri in Al-Jazeera. “It’s time for Saudi Arabia to tell the truth on Jamal Khashoggi,” the Washington Post’s Editorial Board argued. Politico called it “the tragedy of Jamal Khashoggi.”

Even shadowy think-tanks like the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the Atlantic Council released articles criticising Saudi Arabia in the wake of Khashoggi’s death.

A number of companies began backing away from Saudi money after the journalist’s death, including the world’s largest media companies such as the New York Times, the Economist’s editor-in-chief Zanny Minton Beddoes, Arianna Huffington, CNN, CNBC, the Financial Times, Bloomberg, Google Cloud CEO, just to name a few.

The CIA concluded that MBS personally ordered Khashoggi’s death, and was reportedly quite open in its provision of this assessment. Antonio Guterres, secretary-general of the UN, also took time out of his schedule to express concern over Saudi Arabia’s confirmation of the killing.

At the time of the scandal, former CIA director John Brennan went on MSNBC to state that the Khashoggi’s death would be the downfall of MBS. Furthermore, the US Senate just voted in favour of ending American involvement in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen (a somewhat symbolic victory, though this is a topic for another article), but nonetheless was a clear stab at MBS personally.

The only person who appeared to continue to uphold America’s unfaltering support for MBS, even after all the publicly made evidence against MBS, was the US president himself. So after years of bombarding Yemen, sponsoring terror groups across the Middle East, Asia, the Pacific and beyond, why is it only now that there has been mounting opposition to Saudi Arabia’s leadership? Let’s just bear in mind that western media had spent years investing in a heavy PR campaign to paint MBS as a “reformer.”

Former national security adviser under Barack Obama’s second term, Susan Rice, wrote an article in the New York Times, in which she called MBS a “partner we can’t depend on.” Rice concludes that MBS is “not and can no longer be viewed as a reliable partner of the United States and our allies.” But why is this? Is it because MBS is responsible for some of the most egregious human rights abuses inside his own kingdom as well as in Yemen? Is it because of MBS’ support for groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda? No, according to Rice, we “should not rupture our important relationship with the kingdom, but we must make it clear it cannot be business as usual so long as Prince Mohammad continues to wield unlimited power.”

One will observe that the latter segment of Rice’s article almost mirrors former CIA director Brennan’s word on MSNBC word for word who stated that:

“I think ultimately this is going to come out. And it’s very important for us to maintain the relations with Saudi Arabia. And if it’s Mohammed bin Salman who’s the cancer here, well, we need to be able to find ways to eliminate the cancer and to move forward with this relationship that is critical to regional stability and our national interests.”

In reality, this is probably the issue that western media and government advisors have taken up with MBS. Aside from the fact he allegedly held a huge hand in the brutal murder of one of their own establishment journalists (Saudi Arabia reportedly tortured and killed another journalist not long after Khashoggi, but western media was eerily silent on this incident) MBS is not opposed for his reckless disregard for human rights. With insight into Rice’s mindset, we actually learn that if the US were to punish MBS, he would be likely to “behave more irresponsibly to demonstrate his independence and exact retribution against his erstwhile Western partners.”

You see, the problem with MBS isn’t that he is a mass murdering war criminal, it is that he is too “independent” for the United States’ liking.

Last week, Saudi Arabia and the other major oil producers met in Vienna at the year’s final big OPEC meeting of the year. As Foreign Policy notes, Saudi Arabia remains the largest oil producer inside OPEC but has to contend with the US and Russia who are “pumping oil at record levels.” Together, the three countries are the world’s biggest oil producers, meaning any coordinated decision made between these three nations can be somewhat monumental.

However, it appears that one of these three nations will end up drawing the short end of the stick as the other two begin forming a closer alliance. As Foreign Policy explains:

“But Saudi Arabia has bigger game in mind at Vienna than just stabilizing oil prices. Recognizing that it can’t shape the global oil market by itself anymore but rather needs the cooperation of Russia, Saudi Arabia is hoping to formalize an ad hoc agreement between OPEC and Moscow that began in 2016, a time when dirt-cheap oil also posed a threat to oil-dependent regimes. That informal agreement expires at the end of the year, but the Saudis would like to make Russia’s participation with the cartel more permanent.”

Russian officials have been signalling their intention to formalise this agreement for quite some time now. Given the hysteria in western media about any and all things Russian, it is not too much of a stretch to suggest that this is the kind of news that is not sitting too well with the powers-that-be.

Earlier this year, Russia and Saudi Arabia announced that it would “institutionalize” the two-year-old bilateral agreement to coordinate oil production targets in order to maintain an edge on the global market.

While US president Trump has been supportive and incredibly defensive of MBS during this “crisis”, the truth is that the US only has itself to blame. It was not all too long ago that Trump announced that he had told Saudi King Salman that his kingdom would not last two weeks without US support.

Saudi Arabia is learning for themselves quite quickly that, ultimately, it may pay not to have all its eggs in one geopolitical superpower basket.

Saudi Arabia has been increasingly interested in Moscow since King Salman made a historic visit to Moscow in October 2017. While Trump has openly bragged about his record-breaking arms deals with the Saudis, the blunt truth is that the $110 billion arms agreements were reportedly only ever letters of interest or intent, but not actual contracts. As such, the US-Saudi arms deal is still yet to be locked in, all the while Saudi Arabia is negotiating with Russia for its S-400 air defence system. This is, as the Washington Post notes, despite repeated US requests to Saudi Arabia for it disavow its interest in Russia’s arms.

The economic threat that an “independent” Saudi Arabia under MBS’ leadership poses to Washington runs deeper than meets the eye and may indeed have a domino effect. According to CNN, Russia and Saudi Arabia “are engaged in an intense battle over who will be the top supplier to China, a major energy importer with an insatiable appetite for crude.”

The unveiling of China’s petro-yuan poses a major headache for Washington and its control over Saudi Arabia as well.According to Carl Weinberg, chief economist and managing director at High-Frequency Economics, China will “compel”Saudi Arabia to trade oil in Chinese yuan instead of US dollars. One must bear in mind that China has now surpassed the US as the “biggest oil importer on the planet,” these direct attacks on the US dollar will have huge implications for its current world reserve status.

If Saudi Arabia jumps on board China’s petro-yuan, the rest of OPEC will eventually follow, and the US might be left with no choice but to declare all of these countries in need of some vital freedom and democracy.

Therefore, ousting MBS and replacing him with a Crown Prince who doesn’t stray too far from the tree that is US imperialism may put a dent in pending relationships with Saudi Arabia and Washington’s adversaries, Russia and China.

Once we get over the certainty that the US media and the CIA are not against MBS for his long-list of human rights abuses, the question then becomes: why – why now, and in this manner, have they decided to put the spotlight on MBS and expose him exactly for what he is.

Clearly, the driving force behind this media outrage is a bit more complex than first meets the eye.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

JOIN OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Your donations make all the difference. Together we can expose fake news lies and deliver truth.

Amount to donate in USD$:

5 100

Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Advertisement

Advertisement

Quick Donate

The Duran
EURO
DONATE
Donate a quick 10 spot!
Advertisement
Advertisement

Advertisement

The Duran Newsletter

Trending