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It is to Iran’s benefit to support Arabism in the Syrian Arab Republic

If Iran makes a public commitment to supporting the status-quo of Arabism in a post-conflict Syria, Iran and the Arab world will benefit from a “win-win” situation.

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As Russia, Iran and Turkey prepare to guide Syria towards a political settlement, much has been discussed regarding Russia coming to accept and embrace the fact that Damascus has chosen Arabism rather than federalism or accompanying sectarianism, as a fundamental guide for a future peace settlement. The Turkish position which has become one of gradual pragmatism based  on concessions to the realities on the ground in return for continued healthy and growing relations with Iran and Russia, has also been widely discussed.

However, Iran’s position in terms of a constitutional settlement has been largely ignored by media outlets outside of Iran. Iran is of course a steadfast ally of Damascus and Iranian military advisers were aiding Syria in her war against Takfiri terrorism, even before Russia got directly involved and long before Turkey’s schism with her former western partners.

It is one of the ironies of life that while war helpes to unite allies, the subsequent peace process can often expose disagreements. However, I personally remain confident that Syria, Iran and Russia have the ability to come together for the sake of peace without allowing disagreements over the nature of that peace to become problematic.

While for Russia, the choice is between favouring a revitalised Syrian Arab Republic versus an increasingly discredited federal model, for Iran, the choice is putting its weight behind the historic Arabism of Syria or attempting to provide an alternative model.

Some Iranian scholars have proposed a model for Syria that is something of a hybrid between the existing Arab nationalist status quo and the Islamic democracy model pioneered in Revolutionary Iran.

In reality, a country like Syria must retain the status quo of Arabism as defined by the Arab Socialist Ba’ath party for the following reasons.

1. The best way to fight sectarianism in a country like Syria is through Arabism 

In a recent speech which I believe to be the most important of his career, President Bashar al-Assad spoke of the need to revitalise Arabism for the 21st century. His major points included restating that modern Arabism is not ethno-nationalism, but instead is a unifying principle based on a shared language, shared geographical space and shared history. In a country whose primary enemies have been those fighting with the wretched armaments of sectarianism, Arabist unity is, as the Syrian President said, the key for Syria’s survival.

Arabism for the 21st century: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s most important speech

2. Syria is not ready for, nor does it want Iranian style democracy 

Contrary to western and Zionist propaganda, Iran is not only a democracy, but a thriving one. Iran is home to the kind of robust debates and multi-party/diverse candidate democracy that Syria simply cannot afford to experiment with at this time.

With Israel continuing to occupy the Golan Heights, terrorist sleeper cells fomenting in the aftermath of the defeat of militarised Takfiri terrorist groups and the looming threat of a Kurdish insurgency, Syria, even after a peace settlement is established, will continue to be in a state of war, even if it is largely a cold war.

Until terrorism is totally eradicated, even at the level of sleeper cells and more importantly, until the Zionist entity withdraws from the occupied Golan Heights in full, Syria’s future depends on stability and unity far more than on the kind of democracy which flourishes under far more stable circumstances in Iran.

Furthermore, with Syria and Iran facing so many of the same enemies, now is not the time to waste energy on internal debates between partners, that are unnecessary in the first-place.

3. Arabism has not failed in Syria–it has saved Syria 

The old adage “if it isn’t broken don’t fix it”, can readily be applied to Syria. The reason Syria was able to survive politically and not just militarily is because the majority of Syrians thought of themselves as Syrians first and other considerations (confession, ethnicity, regional affiliation) second, if at all. No country’s government could have survived such a devastating war if it did not have popular support. If anything, the conflict has only increased popular support for the Ba’athist government.

If the Syrian government and Arab Socialist Ba’ath party could survive such a devastating war, surely it can survive the forthcoming peace. To deny this would be to acknowledge the blatantly false Saudi/Zionist/western narrative that the conflict in Syria was a civil war rather than a foreign authored, funded and armed proxy conflict.

How does Arabism in Syria benefit Iran?

Iran’s support for the governments in both Baghdad and Damascus have strengthened Iranian prestige in much of the Arab world, to levels not seen in the late-modern period. As the Middle East is now divided between a northern and southern bloc with the north being comprised of Iran, Turkey, Iraq, much of Lebanon and Syria (an ally to all in the bloc except Turkey and certain factions in Lebanon), it has become clear that such a development would be impossible if not for good will towards Iran among large Arab populations.

At the same time, a Saudi led southern bloc of the Middle East which includes most of the Gulf Cooperation Council (apart from Qatar), Egypt, Jordan to some degree and Israel to a large degree, is dead-set on proffering a dangerous anti-Iranian agenda.

The new Middle East: A North/South divide where Israel is losing its narrative and its old game plan

The southern bloc seeks to exploit sectarianism in the northern bloc in order to weaken Iran’s influence and crown Saudi Arabia as the leading state of all Arab countries, something which Syrians, Iraqis and most Lebanese find totally unacceptable. Incidentally, the fact that many Egyptians feel that they are still the de-facto leaders of the southern bloc may ultimately cause friction between a beleaguered Cairo and a surging though manic Riyadh.

That being said, even excluding the anti-Iranian fanatics in Saudi Arabia, latent scepticism about Iran does linger in Arab circles, even in the generally pro-Iranian northern bloc of Middle Eastern states. The best way to combat the lingering residue of thought which sees Iranians as exploiters rather than partners of the Arabs, would be for the Islamic Republic of Iran to fully embrace a post-conflict Syria that not only retains but redoubles its Arab characteristics. In many ways, the value of Arabism in Iraq has been realised in the form of a pan-Iraqi move to quash Kurdish ethno-nationalism. Far more than in the fight against Takfiri terrorism, the short but successful fight against Kurdish ethno-nationalism in Iraq has helped to unite many Arabs, including Sunnis behind the largely Shi’a government in Baghdad.

In supporting the continuation of a Syrian Arab Republic,  Iran would send a message to the entire Arab world that progressive Arabism can and should co-exist with an Iranian alliance. Just as President Assad eloquently explained how Arabism strengthens the indigenous Islam and Christianity of the region, so too does Arabism  strengthen Iran’s position in Arab lands and likewise, Iran’s friendship to Arab countries will help progressive Arabs to fight the extremist, sectarianism form of distorted Islam which Saudi Arabia and her allies attempt to export through the force of terrorism and bribery.

Conclusion:

The concept of Arabism living in a harmonious partnership with the Islamic Republic of Iran represents a clear “win-win” model for the northern bloc of the Middle East. Turkey and Iran, in spite of historical differences and completely different ideological models (both in respect of Kemalism and Erdoganism), have become ever closer without sacrificing their unique characteristics. Likewise, Arabist states like Syria can continue to be closely partnered with Iran in a spirit of respect and friendship. This model helped Syria survive the war and Iran increase her regional prestige. If applied in peacetime, it can only be more successful for all parties involved.

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Macron pisses off Merkel as he tries to sabotage Nord Stream 2 pipeline (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 177.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss an EU compromise for Nord Stream 2 where EU member states, the EU Parliament, and its Commission will give the bloc more oversight on gas pipelines, with one caveat…the Nord Stream 2 project with Russia will not be threatened by the new regulations in the agreement.

Macron pushed hard to have the new regulations include (and derail) Nord Stream 2, an action which annoyed Angela Merkel, who eventually got her way and delivered another blow to Macron’s failing French presidency.

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Via The Express UK

Angela Merkel hit back at Emmanuel Macron over Russia and Germany’s pipeline project, declaring it would “not be a one-sided dependency”. The German Chancellor explained that Germany will expand its gas terminals with “liquified gas”. Speaking at a press conference, Ms Merkel declared: “Do we become dependent on Russia because of this second gas pipeline? I say no, if we diversify. Germany will expand its gas terminals with liquefied gas.

“This means that we do not want to depend only on Russia, but Russia was a source of gas in the Cold War and will remain one.

“But it would not be one-sided dependency.”

Via DW

The EU parliament and its Council are set to adopt new regulations on gas pipelines connecting the bloc members with non-EU countries, the EU Commission announced early on Wednesday.

The upcoming directive is based on a compromise between EU member states and EU officials in Brussels. The bloc leaders agreed to tighten Brussels’ oversight of gas delivery and expand its rules to all pipelines plugging into the EU’s gas distribution network.

“The new rules ensure that… everyone interested in selling gas to Europe must respect European energy law,” EU Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said in a statement.

For example, owners of pipelines linking EU and non-EU countries would also be required to allow access for their competitors. Brussels would also have more power regarding transparency and tariff regulations.

Russian ambassador slams US

Brussels has repeatedly expressed concern over the controversial Nord Stream 2 project which would deliver Russian gas directly to Germany through a pipeline under the Baltic Sea. Many EU states oppose the mammoth project, and the US claims it would allow Moscow to tighten its grip on the EU’s energy policy.

Berlin has insisted that the pipeline is a “purely economic” issue.

Speaking to Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung daily, Russian ambassador to Berlin, Sergey Nechayev, slammed the US’ opposition as an attempt to “push its competition aside” and clear the way for American suppliers of liquefied gas.

“It’s hard to believe that a country that is destroying the rules of free and fair trade, that is imposing import tariffs on its competition, that is flying slogans like ‘America First’ on its flags and often threatens biggest European concerns with illegal sanctions, is now really concerned about European interests,” the Russian envoy said in remarks published in German on Wednesday.

Last week, France unexpectedly rebelled against the project, but Berlin and Paris soon reached a compromise. Thanks to their agreement, the latest deal is not expected to impede the ongoing construction of Nord Stream 2.

Citing sources from negotiators’ circles, German public broadcaster ARD reported that the deal left room for Germany to approve exceptions from the EU-wide rules.

According to the EU Commission, however, exceptions are “only possible under strict procedures in which the Commission plays a decisive role.”

The Gazprom-backed pipeline is set to be completed by the end of the year.

 

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UK Defence Secretary looking for a fight with both China and Russia (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 87.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson’s idea to deploy hard power against China and Russia, starting with plans to send Britain’s new aircraft carrier to the tense sea routes in the South China Sea.

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“Britain’s Gavin Williamson places Russia & China on notice, I’m not joking,” authored by John Wight, via RT

UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson is itching for conflict with Russia and China. He’s not mad. Not even slightly. But he is stupid. Very.

Unlike former fireplace salesman Gavin Williamson, I am no military expert. But then you do not need to be one to understand that while Britain going to war with Russia and China might work as a video game, the real thing would be an exceedingly bad idea.

So why then in a speech delivered to the Royal United Services Institute in London, did Mr Williamson’s argument on the feasibility of the real thing elicit applause rather than the shrieks of horror and demands he be sacked forthwith it should have? This is a serious question, by the way. It is one that cuts through British establishment verbiage to reveal a country ruled not by the sober and doughty political heavyweights of years gone by, but by foaming fanatics in expensive suits

Placing to one side for a moment the insanity of the very concept of Britain deploying hard power against Russia and/or China, the prospect of fighting a war against two designated enemies at the same time is a recipe for disaster. Not satisfied with that, though, Mr Williamson is actually contemplating a conflict with three different enemies at the same time – i.e. against Russia, China, and the millions of people in Britain his government is currently waging war against under the rubric of austerity.

“Today, Russia is resurgent,” Mr Williamson said, “rebuilding its military arsenal and seeking to bring the independent countries of the former Soviet Union, like Georgia and Ukraine, back into its orbit.”

For Mr Williamson and his ilk a resurgent Russia is a bad thing. Much better in their eyes if Russia, after the Soviet era in the 1990s, had remained on its knees as a free market desert; its state institutions in a state of near collapse and tens of millions of its citizens in the grip of immiseration. Yes, because in that scenario Western ideologues like him would have had free rein to rampage around the world as they saw fit, setting fire to country after country on the perverse grounds of ‘saving them’ for democracy.

As it is, he and his still managed to squeeze in a considerable amount of carnage and chaos in the years it did take Russia to recover. The indictment reads as follows: Yugoslavia destroyed; Afghanistan turned upside down; Iraq pushed into the abyss; Libya sent to hell.

By the time they turned their attention to Syria, intent on exploiting an Arab Spring that NATO in Libya transformed into an Arab Winter, Russia had recovered and was able to intervene. It did so in concert with the Syrian Arab Army, Iran and Hezbollah to save the day – much to the evident chagrin of those who, like Gavin Williamson, prefer to see countries in ashes rather than independent of Western hegemony.

As to the facile nonsense about Russia trying to bring Georgia and Ukraine back into its orbit, both countries happen to share a border with Russia and both countries, in recent years, have been used by the UK and its allies as cat’s paws with the eastward expansion of NATO in mind.

It gets worse though: “The Alliance must develop its ability to handle the kind of provocations that Russia is throwing at us. Such action from Russia must come at a cost.”

“Provocations,” the man said. Since British troops have been taking part in exercises on Russia’s doorstep, not the other way round, one wonders if Gavin Williamson wrote this speech while inebriated.

It is Russia that has been on the receiving end of repeated provocations from NATO member states such as the UK in recent times, and it is Russia that has been forced to respond to protect its own security and that of its people where necessary. Furthermore, not only in Russia but everywhere, including the UK, people understand that when you have political leaders intoxicated by their own national myths and propaganda to such an extent as Britain’s Defence Secretary, danger ensues.

The most enduring of those national myths where London is concerned is that the British Empire was a force for good rather than a vast criminal enterprise, that Britain and America won the Second World War together alone, that Iraq had WMDs, and that international law and international brigandage really are one and the same thing.

Perhaps the most preposterous section of the speech came when Mr Williamson tried to fashion a connection between Brexit and Britain’s military strength: “Brexit has brought us to a moment. A great moment in our history. A moment when we must strengthen our global presence, enhance our lethality, and increase our mass.”

Reading this, you can almost hear Churchill turning in his grave. Britain’s wartime prime minister had such as Gavin Williamson in mind when he famously said, “He has all the virtues I dislike, and none of the vices I admire.”

Mr Williamson obviously misread the memo talking up not the opportunity for increased conflict with China after Brexit but trade.

This was not a speech it was a linguistic car crash, one that will forever command an honoured place in compendiums of the worst political speeches ever made. As for Gavin Williamson, just as no responsible parent would ever dream of putting an 10-year old behind the wheel of car to drive unsupervised, no responsible British government would ever appoint a man like him as its Defence Secretary.

In years past, he would have struggled to find employment polishing the brass plate outside the building.

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The Birth Of A Monster

The banking establishment welcomed the Fed with open arms. What gives?

The Duran

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Authored by David Howden via The Mises Institute:


The Federal Reserve’s doors have been open for “business” for one hundred years. In explaining the creation of this money-making machine (pun intended – the Fed remits nearly $100 bn. in profits each year to Congress) most people fall into one of two camps.

Those inclined to view the Fed as a helpful institution, fostering financial stability in a world of error-prone capitalists, explain the creation of the Fed as a natural and healthy outgrowth of the troubled National Banking System. How helpful the Fed has been is questionable at best, and in a recent book edited by Joe Salerno and me — The Fed at One Hundred — various contributors outline many (though by no means all) of the Fed’s shortcomings over the past century.

Others, mostly those with a skeptical view of the Fed, treat its creation as an exercise in secretive government meddling (as in G. Edward Griffin’s The Creature from Jekyll Island) or crony capitalism run amok (as in Murray Rothbard’s The Case Against the Fed).

In my own chapter in The Fed at One Hundred I find sympathies with both groups (you can download the chapter pdf here). The actual creation of the Fed is a tragically beautiful case study in closed-door Congressional deals and big banking’s ultimate victory over the American public. Neither of these facts emerged from nowhere, however. The fateful events that transpired in 1910 on Jekyll Island were the evolutionary outcome of over fifty years of government meddling in money. As such, the Fed is a natural (though terribly unfortunate) outgrowth of an ever more flawed and repressive monetary system.

Before the Fed

Allow me to give a brief reverse biographical sketch of the events leading up to the creation of a monster in 1914.

Unlike many controversial laws and policies of the American government — such as the Affordable Care Act, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or the War on Terror — the Federal Reserve Act passed with very little public outcry. Also strange for an industry effectively cartelized, the banking establishment welcomed the Fed with open arms. What gives?

By the early twentieth century, America’s banking system was in a shambles. Fractional-reserve banks faced with “runs” (which didn’t have to be runs with the pandemonium that usually accompanies them, but rather just banks having insufficient cash to meet daily withdrawal requests) frequently suspended cash redemptions or issued claims to “clearinghouse certificates.” These certificates were a money substitute making use of the whole banking system’s reserves held by large clearinghouses.

Both of these “solutions” to the common bank run were illegal as they allowed a bank to redefine the terms of the original deposit contract. This fact notwithstanding, the US government turned a blind eye as the alternative (widespread bank failures) was perceived to be far worse.

The creation of the Fed, the ensuing centralization of reserves, and the creation of a more elastic money supply was welcomed by the government as a way to eliminate those pesky and illegal (yet permitted) banking activities of redemption suspensions and the issuance of clearinghouse certificates. The Fed returned legitimacy to the laws of the land. That is, it addressed the government’s fear that non-enforcement of a law would raise broader questions about the general rule of law.

The Fed provided a quick fix to depositors by reducing cases of suspensions of their accounts. And the banking industry saw the Fed as a way to serve clients better without incurring a cost (fewer bank runs) and at the same time coordinate their activities to expand credit in unison and maximize their own profits.

In short, the Federal Reserve Act had a solution for everyone.

Taking a central role in this story are the private clearinghouses which provided for many of the Fed’s roles before 1914. Indeed, America’s private clearinghouses were viewed as having as many powers as European central banks of the day, and the creation of the Fed was really just an effort to make the illegal practices of the clearinghouses legal by government institutionalization.

Why Did Clearinghouses Have So Much Power?

Throughout the late nineteenth century, clearinghouses used each new banking crisis to introduce a new type of policy, bringing them ever closer in appearance to a central bank. I wouldn’t go so far as to say these are examples of power grabs by the clearinghouses, but rather rational responses to fundamental problems in a troubled American banking system.

When bank runs occurred, the clearinghouse certificate came into use, first in 1857, but confined to the interbank market to economize on reserves. Transactions could be cleared in specie, but lacking sufficient reserves, a troubled bank could make use of the certificates. These certificates were jointly guaranteed by all banks in the clearinghouse system through their pooled reserves. This joint guarantee was welcomed by unstable banks with poor reserve positions, and imposed a cost on more prudently managed banks (as is the case today with deposit insurance). A prudent bank could complain, but if it wanted to use a clearinghouse’s services and reap the cost advantages it had to comply with the reserve-pooling policy.

As the magnitude of the banking crisis intensified, clearinghouses started permitting banks to issue the certificates directly to the public (starting with the Panic of 1873) to further stymie reserve drains. (These issues to the general public amounted to illegal money substitutes, though they were tolerated, as noted above.)

Fractional-Reserve Free Banking and Bust

The year 1857 is a somewhat strange one for these clearinghouse certificates to make their first appearance. It was, after all, a full twenty years into America’s experiment with fractional-reserve free banking. This banking system was able to function stably, especially compared to more regulated periods or central banking regimes. However, the dislocation between deposit and lending activities set in motion a credit-fueled boom that culminated in the Panic of 1857.

This boom and panic has all the makings of an Austrian business cycle. Banks overextended themselves to finance the booming industries during America’s westward advance, primarily the railways. Land speculation was rampant. As realized profits came in under expectations, investors got skittish and withdrew money from banks. Troubled banks turned to the recently established New York Clearing House to promote stability. Certain rights were voluntarily abrogated in return for a guarantee on their solvency.

The original sin of the free-banking period was its fractional-reserve foundation. Without the ability to fund lending activity with their deposit base, banks never would have financed the boom to the extent that it became a destabilizing factor. Westward expansion and investment would still have occurred, though it would have occurred in a sustainable way funded through equity investments and loans. (These types of financing were used, though as is the case today, this occurred less than would be the case given the fractional-reserve banking system’s essentially cost-free funding source: the deposit base.)

In conclusion, the Fed was not birthed from nothing in 1913. The monster was the natural outgrowth of an increasingly troubled banking system. In searching for the original problem that set in motion the events culminating in the creation of the Fed, one must draw attention to the Panic of 1857 as the spark that set in motion ever more destabilizing policies. The Panic itself is a textbook example of an Austrian business cycle, caused by the lending activities of fractional-reserve banks. This original sin of the banking system concluded with the birth of a monster in 1914: The Federal Reserve.

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