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The global Trumpquakes that are shaking the world

The arrival of a new US President intent on overturning the established world order has triggered a succession of crisis, some engineered by him, some engineered by his opponents within the US ‘Deep State’ as they seek to disrupt his initiative for a new detente with Russia.

Andrew Korybko

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Donald Trump’s first two weeks in office as President of the United States have been characterized by diplomatic and geopolitical confusion as the “new boss” sets forth to completely upend the global order.

Most foreign leaders don’t understand Trump, nor the New Populism (American variant) that he represents, and they seem to have totally underestimated his capabilities and those of his staff.

Many foreign dignitaries and conventional analysts presumed that he’d be like “any other American politician” – lots of talk and no action – but those who understand what Trump and his team are really about knew better than to fall for such pre-inaugural fantasies.

The reality, as the world has evidently realized by now, is that the impact of President Trump on the global system has been akin to an earthquake – or Trumpquake, as some are calling it – and this has played out across both the diplomatic and geopolitical spheres, albeit for different reasons and to different ends.

Diplomatic Trumpquakes

To talk about the first one, it’s already been highly publicized how Trump withdrew from the TPP, has promised to renegotiate NAFTA, and wants to reorganize NATO – all three of which have drawn massive criticism from the ruling Western elite whom “Trump’s Lenin” – Stephen Bannon – wants to essentially overthrow anyhow.

Trump hasn’t hidden his disdain of the EU and German Chancellor Merkel either, and he has even appointed an anti-EU individual – Ted Malloch – as his country’s representative to the bloc.

Moreover, his latest phone calls with the leaders of Mexico and Australia were fraught with controversy. Trump threatened a limited military incursion against America’s southern neighbor – in what his administration insists was a “lighthearted” remark – if it doesn’t crack down on “bad hombres” (drug dealers and the like) and even allegedly hung up on the Prime Minister “Down Under” because he kept insisting that the US honor a “refugee”/illegal immigrant deal that Obama agreed to last year.

Geopolitical Trumpquakes

Self-Inflicted:

On the geopolitical front, Trump’s already ruffled quite a few feathers with Iran and China, though this was entirely predictable and was earlier forecast in an immediate post-election article I wrote entitled “Here’s What Trump’s Foreign Policy Will Look Like”.

It was also built upon in a subsequent radio analysis for Context Countdown focusing on the three most important themes which will come to define 2017.

These are the intended geopolitical disruptions which Trump and his team have already started to carry out, but the other part of the Geopolitical Trumpquakes are those disturbances which aren’t necessarily the result of the new President’s policies, but are time bombs ‘gifted’ to him by his predecessor’s “deep state” (permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies) and tasked with possibly going off in order to offset the President’s hinted-at plans for a New Détente with Russia in the New Cold War.

To explain, the identity-diverse swath of Europe between the Baltic and Black Seas which Polish imperialist leader Jozef Pilsudski referred to as the “Intermarium” is on the verge of exploding into a series of semi-connected conflicts which could sabotage the Russian-American rapprochement.

Sabotage:

I have written extensively about the various Hybrid War scenarios which could break out in the Balkans in a related series for Oriental Review, and regretfully, many of them seem to be presently unfolding in the region.

Albanians in the NATO-occupied Serbian Province of Kosovo have brought the region to the brink of a continuation conflict, and the unresolved political crisis in the Republic of Macedonia is giving space for yet another attempt at overthrowing the government, be it through a Color Revolution, parliamentary maneuvering, and/or an Albanian terrorist insurgency.

Elsewhere in the Balkans, Bosnia remains continuously only edge as Sarajevo works with its Western patrons to infringe on Republika Srpska’s constitutional sovereignty and trigger its own type of continuation war, perhaps together with Croatia and NATO.

These three interlinked conflict scenarios are dangerously veering towards the realm of imminent possibility, and they’re all conditioned on stopping Russia’s and China’s planned Balkan megaprojects through the region, which are the Balkan Stream gas pipeline and the Balkan Silk Road high-speed railway, respectively.

The end game in this region appears to be the “Balkanization” of the Balkans and its division into a collection of ethno-centric states along the lines of the proposal most recently lobbied for by former British diplomat Timothy Less, which basically formalizes “Greater Albania” at Serbia, Macedonia, and Montenegro’s expense, and dissolves the frail federation of Bosnia along the lines of its three constitutional constituents.  Suffice to say, it’s unlikely that this would ever happen without a major war.

Looking past the former Yugoslavia, neighboring Romania is in the throes what is undoubtedly a Color Revolution, albeit one which has been unleashed for as-yet uncertain geopolitical motivations.

One of the possibilities could be to trigger a chain reaction of destabilization that would travel northwards to Moldova and contribute to the rekindling of the Transnistria conflict, which could very easily lead to the involvement of the Russian troops stationed there and instantly prompt fears of a larger war.

Beyond the Balkans, Kiev has restarted its aggression against Donbass in order to both distract Russia from its diplomatic initiatives in the Mideast and also to provoke it to conventionally intervene and thus undermine the prospects that the US will reach a new form of détente with it in the near future.

As all of this is happening, Belarus appears to have moved to the brink of ‘defecting’ from Russia and pivoting towards the West, which would truly represent a decisive military-strategic setback for Moscow if it fully materializes.

Towards A Literally “New” World Order

The Diplomatic and Geopolitical Trumpquakes – both those that are self-inflicted by Trump and the ones which are time bombs set by Obama-Clinton’s “deep state” – are having the cumulative effect of totally disrupting the two competing world orders and leading to unprecedented volatility in global affairs.

Obama and his post-Cold War forerunners’ intentions were always to secure the US’ unipolar hegemony across the world, while the mid-2000s saw the rise of the Russian-Chinese Strategic Partnership and their joint efforts to construct a Multipolar World Order to oppose the New World Order of unipolarity first unveiled by Bush Sr..

Trump is also enthralled with unipolarity and American Exceptionalism, except his campaign remarks indicated that he recognized the limits of the US’ conventional force projection capabilities and hinted that he would help America adapt to the changing international global conditions of multipolarity through a forthcoming New Détente with Russia which could thus facilitate more concrete “containment” measures against Iran and China.

Trump’s “Third Way” – promoting unipolar goals within an increasingly multipolar world – is at odds with the ‘legacy’ ideology of the US’ “deep state”, which sees any sort of pragmatism with Russia, no matter what its ultimate grand strategic ends may be, as absolutely anathema and something which must be stopped at all costs.

Trump and his team are of course working around the clock and behind the scenes to either co-opt, professionally neutralize, or replace hostile “deep state” elements, though this is a far-reaching and ambitious task which will take years to fully accomplish. Having said that, some of the antagonistic forces which Trump now presides over are intent on sabotaging any realistic prospect that he could ever reach a New Détente with President Putin, which explains the “sudden” and near-synchronous outbreak of so many preplanned and predictable crises.

Under the “expected” geopolitical conditions of what they presumed would be a Clinton Presidency by this point, these geopolitical time bombs may not have been activated all at once and could have been strategically unleashed on a case-by-case need depending on the specific circumstances.

In the state of panic which the hostile elements of the “deep state” presently find themselves, however, they’ve felt compelled to activate all of these crises-on-demand throughout the “Intermarium” in order to sabotage the New Détente.

They may not go as far as throwing all of their weight behind the eruption of several full-fledged simultaneous wars, but the strategy of tension which they’ve masterfully deployed might be enough to sharply revive the fading distrust between both sides and preclude any possibility of their hoped-for rapprochement, especially if armed hostilities commence in the Balkans and Russia and the US predictably find themselves backing opposite sides.

The two Great Powers might even have a rapid falling out simply through the natural disagreements that they’ll have with one another in diplomatically resolving these crises the longer that they play out, unless, of course, my previously elaborated “worst-case scenario” enters into force whereby Moscow is engages in a series of concessions out of desperation to clinch a New Détente.

Concluding Thoughts

There’s no escaping the fact that a series of Global Trumpquakes have rocked the globe and are threatening to completely upend both the preexisting (unipolar) and planned (multipolar) world orders through the emergence of Trump-Bannon’s “Third Way”.

The American President has proudly initiated a spree of Diplomatic Trumpquakes in seeking to shake up the order of business within the US’ sphere of influence with the hope of making it much more efficient and in line with his “America First” ideology.

This is admittedly fraught with a bunch of risk, but the US’ chief decision maker and his closest advisors seem to have calculated that it’s better to proactively seize the moment in radically reforming the system than to have its broken leadership structure eventually cave in underneath them just like the Soviets’ did at the end of the Old Cold War (and likely brought about by similar forthcoming foreign pressures).

On the other hand, the Geopolitical Trumpquakes fall into two categories – those which are self-inflicted by Trump himself and the ones which are “deep state” sabotage.

The first relate exclusively to Asia and are aimed at pushing back against the all-around multipolar progress of China and Iran, striving to take advantage of Trump’s envisioned New Détente with Russia in Europe (ergo why there’s no self-inflicted Trumpquake in this part of Eurasia) in order to split the Resistance Bloc along the lines of how Nixon’s “Opening To China” in the 1970s divided the communist one.

As for the second category of Geopolitical Trumpquakes, these are caused by adversarial elements within the American “deep state” in order to sabotage their President’s outreaches to Russia by sparking a slew of simultaneous crises in order to keep them apart.

What all of these Trumpquakes have in common, however, is that they’re major shocks to both the existing and evolving world orders, and collectively represent the manifestation of global chaos.

It was inevitable that far-reaching instability would come to define the transition from unipolarity to multipolarity, and such a trend was obviously visible long before Donald Trump ever stepped onto the American political scene, but few could have predicted that it would be exacerbated by the US dramatically “reforming” its Western sphere of influence and simultaneously being undermined abroad by its own “deep state” elements because of this.

DISCLAIMER: All personal views are my own and do not necessarily coincide with the positions of my employer (Sputnik News) or partners unless explicitly and unambiguously stated otherwise by them. I write in a private capacity unrepresentative of anything and anyone except for my own personal views. Nothing written by me should ever be conflated with Sputnik or the Russian government’s official position on any issue.

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Russia calls on US to put a leash on Petro Poroshenko

The West’s pass for Mr. Poroshenko may blow up in NATO’s and the US’s face if the Ukrainian President tries to start a war with Russia.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Russia called on Washington not to ignore the Poroshenko directives creating an active military buildup along the Ukrainian-Donbass frontier, this buildup consisting of Ukrainian forces and right-wing ultranationalists, lest it “trigger the implementation of a bloody scenario”, according to a Dec 11 report from TASS.

The [Russian] Embassy [to the US] urges the US State Department to recognize the presence of US instructors in the zone of combat actions, who are involved in a command and staff and field training of Ukraine’s assault airborne brigades. “We expect that the US will bring to reason its proteges. Their aggressive plans are not only doomed to failure but also run counter to the statements of the administration on its commitment to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine by political and diplomatic means,” the statement said.

This warning came after Eduard Basurin, the deputy defense minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic noted that the Ukrainian army was massing troops and materiel for a possible large-scale offensive at the Mariupol section of the contact line in Donbass. According to Basurin, this action is expected to take place on 14 December. TASS offered more details:

According to the DPR’s reconnaissance data, Ukrainian troops plan to seize the DPR’s Novoazovsky and Temanovsky districts and take control over the border section with Russia. The main attack force of over 12,000 servicemen has been deployed along the contact line near the settlements of Novotroitskoye, Shirokino, and Rovnopol. Moreover, more than 50 tanks, 40 multiple missile launcher systems, 180 artillery systems and mortars have been reportedly pulled to the area, Basurin added. Besides, 12 BM-30 Smerch heavy multiple rocket launchers have been sent near Volodarsky.

The DPR has warned about possible provocations plotted by Ukrainian troops several times. Thus, in early December, the DPR’s defense ministry cited reconnaissance data indicating that the Ukrainian military was planning to stage an offensive and deliver an airstrike. At a Contact Group meeting on December 5, DPR’s Foreign Minister Natalia Nikonorova raised the issue of Kiev’s possible use of chemical weapons in the conflict area.

This is a continuation of the reported buildup The Duran reported in this article linked here, and it is a continuation of the full-scale drama that started with the Kerch Strait incident, which itself appears to have been staged by Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko. Following that incident, the president was able to get about half of Ukraine placed under a 30-day period of martial law, citing “imminent Russian aggression.”

President Poroshenko is arguably a dangerous man. He appears to be desperate to maintain a hold on power, though his approval numbers and support is abysmally low in Ukraine. While he presents himself as a hero, agitating for armed conflict with Russia and simultaneously interfering in the affairs of the Holy Eastern Orthodox Church, he is actually one of the most dangerous leaders the world has to contend with, precisely because he is unfit to lead.

Such men and women are dangerous because their desperation makes them short-sighted, only concerned about their power and standing.

An irony about this matter is that President Poroshenko appears to be exactly what the EuroMaidan was “supposed” to free Ukraine of; that is, a stooge puppet leader that marches to orders from a foreign power and does nothing for the improvement of the nation and its citizens.

The ouster of Viktor Yanukovich was seen as the sure ticket to “freedom from Russia” for Ukraine, and it may well have been that Mr. Yanukovich was an incompetent leader. However, his removal resulted in a tryannical regíme coming into power, that resulting in the secession of two Ukrainian regions into independent republics and a third secession of strategically super-important Crimea, who voted in a referendum to rejoin Russia.

While this activity was used by the West to try to bolster its own narrative that Russia remains the evil henchman in Europe, the reality of life in Ukraine doesn’t match this allegation at all. A nation that demonstrates such behavior shows that there are many problems, and the nature of these secessions points at a great deal of fear from Russian-speaking Ukrainian people about the government that is supposed to be their own.

President Poroshenko presents a face to the world that the West is apparently willing to support, but the in-country approval of this man as leader speaks volumes. The West’s blind support of him “against Russia” may be one of the most tragic errors yet in Western foreign policy.

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Second Canadian Citizen Disappears In China

According to the he Globe and Mail, the man was identified as Michael Spavor, a Canadian whose company Peaktu Cultural Exchange brings tourists and hockey players into North Korea.

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Via Zerohedge…


For a trade war that was supposed to be between the US and China, Canada has found itself increasingly in the middle of the crossfire. And so after the arrest of a former Canadian diplomat in Beijing in retaliation for the detention of the Huawei CFO in Vancouver, Canada said a second person has been questioned by Chinese authorities, further heightening tensions between the two countries.

The second person reached out to the Canadian government after being questioned by Chinese officials, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said, at which point Canada lost contact with him. His whereabouts are currently unknown and Global Affairs Canada said they are in contact with his family.

“We haven’t been able to make contact with him since he let us know about this,” Freeland told reporters Wednesday in Ottawa. “We are working very hard to ascertain his whereabouts and we have also raised this case with Chinese authorities.”

According to the he Globe and Mail, the man was identified as Michael Spavor, a Canadian whose company Peaktu Cultural Exchange brings tourists and hockey players into North Korea. He gained fame for helping arrange a visit to Pyongyang by former NBA player Dennis Rodman, and he met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on that trip, the newspaper reported. Attempts to reach Spavor on his contact number either in China, or North Korean went straight to voicemail.

Spavor’s personal Facebook page contains several images of him with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un including one of him with both Jong-un and former Dennis Rodman at an undisclosed location.

Michael P. Spavor, right, pictured here with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, second from right, and Dennis Rodman.

Another image shows the two sharing a drink on a boat.

The unexplained disappearance takes place after China’s spy agency detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig in Beijing on Monday, who was on leave from the foreign service. The arrest came nine days after Canada arrested Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou at the request of U.S. DOJ. While Canada has asked to see the former envoy after it was informed by fax of his arrest, Canada is unaware of Kovrig current whereabouts or the charges he faces.

“Michael did not engage in illegal activities nor did he do anything that endangered Chinese national security,” Rob Malley, chief executive officer of the ICG, said in a written statement. “He was doing what all Crisis Group analysts do: undertaking objective and impartial research.”

One possibility is that Kovrig may have been caught up in recent rule changes in China that affect non-governmental organizations, according to Bloomberg. The ICG wasn’t authorized to do work in China, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang said during a regular press briefing in Beijing Wednesday.

“We welcome foreign travelers. But if they engage in activities that clearly violate Chinese laws and regulations, then it is totally another story,” he said, adding he had no information on Kovrig specifically.

As Bloomberg further notes, foreign non-governmental organizations are now required to register with the Chinese authorities under a 2017 law that subjects them to stringent reporting requirements. Under the law, organizations without a representative office in China must have a government sponsor and a local cooperative partner before conducting activities. ICG said this is the first time they’ve heard such an accusation from the Chinese authorities in a decade of working with the country. The company closed its Beijing operations in December 2016 because of the new Chinese law, according to a statement. Kovrig was working out of the Hong Kong office.

Meanwhile, realizing that it is increasingly bearing the brunt of China’s retaliatory anger, Trudeau’s government distanced itself from Meng’s case, saying it can’t interfere with the courts, but is closely involved in advocating on Kovrig’s behalf.

So far Canada has declined to speculate on whether there was a connection between the Kovrig and Meng cases, with neither Freeland nor Canadian Trade Minister Jim Carr saying Wednesday that there is any indication the cases are related. Then again, it is rather obvious they are. Indeed, Guy Saint-Jacques, who served as ambassador to China from 2012 to 2016 and worked with Kovrig, says the link is clear. “There’s no coincidence with China.”

“In this case, they couldn’t grab a Canadian diplomat because this would have created a major diplomatic incident,” he said. “Going after him I think was their way to send a message to the Canadian government and to put pressure.”

Even though Meng was granted bail late Tuesday, that did not placate China, whose foreign ministry spokesman said that “The Canadian side should correct its mistakes and release Ms. Meng Wanzhou immediately.”

The tension, according to Bloomberg,  may force Canadian companies to reconsider travel to China, and executives traveling to the Asian country will need to exercise extra caution, said Andy Chan, managing partner at Miller Thomson LLP in Vaughan, Ontario.

“Canadian business needs to look at and balance the reasons for the travel’’ between the business case and the “current political environment,’’ Chan said by email. Chinese officials subject business travelers to extra screening and in some case reject them from entering, he said.

Earlier in the day, SCMP reported that Chinese high-tech researchers were told “not to travel to the US unless it’s essential.”

And so, with Meng unlikely to be released from Canada any time soon, expect even more “Chinese (non) coincidences”, until eventually China does detain someone that the US does care about.

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Multipolar World Order in the Making: Qatar Dumps OPEC

Russia and Qatar’s global strategy also brings together and includes partners like Turkey.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


The decision by Qatar to abandon OPEC threatens to redefine the global energy market, especially in light of Saudi Arabia’s growing difficulties and the growing influence of the Russian Federation in the OPEC+ mechanism.

In a surprising statement, Qatari energy minister Saad al-Kaabi warned OPEC on Monday December 3 that his country had sent all the necessary documentation to start the country’s withdrawal from the oil organization in January 2019. Al-Kaabi stressed that the decision had nothing to do with recent conflicts with Riyadh but was rather a strategic choice by Doha to focus on the production of LNG, which Qatar, together with the Russian Federation, is one of the largest global exporters of. Despite an annual oil extraction rate of only 1.8% of the total of OPEC countries (about 600,000 barrels a day), Qatar is one of the founding members of the organization and has always had a strong political influence on the governance of the organization. In a global context where international relations are entering a multipolar phase, things like cooperation and development become fundamental; so it should not surprise that Doha has decide to abandon OPEC. OPEC is one of the few unipolar organizations that no longer has a meaningful purpose in 2018, given the new realities governing international relations and the importance of the Russian Federation in the oil market.

Besides that, Saudi Arabia requires the organization to maintain a high level of oil production due to pressure coming from Washington to achieve a very low cost per barrel of oil. The US energy strategy targets Iranian and Russian revenue from oil exports, but it also aims to give the US a speedy economic boost. Trump often talks about the price of oil falling as his personal victory. The US imports about 10 million barrels of oil a day, which is why Trump wrongly believes that a decrease in the cost per barrel could favor a boost to the US economy. The economic reality shows a strong correlation between the price of oil and the financial growth of a country, with low prices of crude oil often synonymous of a slowing down in the economy.

It must be remembered that to keep oil prices low, OPEC countries are required to maintain a high rate of production, doubling the damage to themselves. Firstly, they take less income than expected and, secondly, they deplete their oil reserves to favor the strategy imposed by Saudi Arabia on OPEC to please the White House. It is clearly a strategy that for a country like Qatar (and perhaps Venezuela and Iran in the near future) makes little sense, given the diplomatic and commercial rupture with Riyadh stemming from tensions between the Gulf countries.

In contrast, the OPEC+ organization, which also includes other countries like the Russian Federation, Mexico and Kazakhstan, seems to now to determine oil and its cost per barrel. At the moment, OPEC and Russia have agreed to cut production by 1.2 million barrels per day, contradicting Trump’s desire for high oil output.

With this last choice Qatar sends a clear signal to the region and to traditional allies, moving to the side of OPEC+ and bringing its interests closer in line with those of the Russian Federation and its all-encompassing oil and gas strategy, two sectors in which Qatar and Russia dominate market share.

In addition, Russia and Qatar’s global strategy also brings together and includes partners like Turkey (a future energy hub connecting east and west as well as north and south) and Venezuela. In this sense, the meeting between Maduro and Erdogan seems to be a prelude to further reorganization of OPEC and its members.

The declining leadership role of Saudi Arabia in the oil and financial market goes hand in hand with the increase of power that countries like Qatar and Russia in the energy sectors are enjoying. The realignment of energy and finance signals the evident decline of the Israel-US-Saudi Arabia partnership. Not a day goes by without corruption scandals in Israel, accusations against the Saudis over Khashoggi or Yemen, and Trump’s unsuccessful strategies in the commercial, financial or energy arenas. The path this doomed

trio is taking will only procure less influence and power, isolating them more and more from their opponents and even historical allies.

Moscow, Beijing and New Delhi, the Eurasian powerhouses, seem to have every intention, as seen at the trilateral summit in Buenos Aires, of developing the ideal multipolar frameworks to avoid continued US dominance of the oil market through shale revenues or submissive allies as Saudi Arabia, even though the latest spike in production is a clear signal from Riyadh to the USA. In this sense, Qatar’s decision to abandon OPEC and start a complex and historical discussion with Moscow on LNG in the format of an enlarged OPEC marks the definitive decline of Saudi Arabia as a global energy power, to be replaced by Moscow and Doha as the main players in the energy market.

Qatar’s decision is, officially speaking, unconnected to the feud triggered by Saudi Arabia against the small emirate. However, it is evident that a host of factors has led to this historic decision. The unsuccessful military campaign in Yemen has weakened Saudi Arabia on all fronts, especially militarily and economically. The self-inflicted fall in the price of oil is rapidly consuming Saudi currency reserves, now at a new low of less than 500 billion dollars. Events related to Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) have de-legitimized the role of Riyadh in the world as a reliable diplomatic interlocutor. The internal and external repression by the Kingdom has provoked NGOs and governments like Canada’s to issue public rebukes that have done little to help MBS’s precarious position.

In Syria, the victory of Damascus and her allies has consolidated the role of Moscow in the region, increased Iranian influence, and brought Turkey and Qatar to the multipolar side, with Tehran and Moscow now the main players in the Middle East. In terms of military dominance, there has been a clear regional shift from Washington to Moscow; and from an energy perspective, Doha and Moscow are turning out to be the winners, with Riyadh once again on the losing side.

As long as the Saudi royal family continues to please Donald Trump, who is prone to catering to Israeli interests in the region, the situation of the Kingdom will only get worse. The latest agreement on oil production between Moscow and Riyad signals that someone in the Saudi royal family has probably figured this out.

Countries like Turkey, India, China, Russia and Iran understand the advantages of belonging to a multipolar world, thereby providing a collective geopolitical ballast that is mutually beneficial. The energy alignment between Qatar and the Russian Federation seems to support this general direction, a sort of G2 of LNG gas that will only strengthen the position of Moscow on the global chessboard, while guaranteeing a formidable military umbrella for Doha in case of a further worsening of relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

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