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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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Beijing Threatens “Severe” Retaliation Against Canada If Huawei CFO Is Not Released

China’s warning marks an escalation in Beijing’s rhetoric as investors worry that the arrest could cause the shaky trade detente between the US and China to devolve into acrimony.

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Via Zerohedge


Canada’s extraordinary arrest one week ago of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei founder and billionaire executive Ren Zhengfei, and its decision to charge her with “multiple” counts of fraud – a preamble to her likely extradition to the US to face charges of knowingly violating US and EU sanctions on Iran – has elicited widespread anger in Beijing, which declared Meng’s detention a “violation of human rights” during a bail hearing for the jailed executive on Friday.

That anger has apparently only intensified after the hearing adjourned without a decision (it will resume on Monday, allowing Meng’s defense team to argue for why she should be released on bail, contrary to the wishes of government attorneys who are prosecuting the case).

And with Canada insisting that it will prosecute Meng to the full extent of the law over allegations that she mislead banks about the true relationship of a Huawei subsidiary called Skycom, angry Chinese officials have decided to issue an ultimatum directly to the Canadian ambassador, who was summoned to a meeting in Beijing on Saturday and told in no uncertain terms that Canada will face “severe consequences” if Meng isn’t released, according to the Wall Street Journal.

China’s foreign ministry publicized the warning in a statement (though Canadian officials have yet to comment):

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng summoned Canada’s ambassador to Beijing, John McCallum, on Saturday to deliver the warning, according to a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

The statement doesn’t mention the name of Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, though it refers to a Huawei “principal” taken into custody at U.S. request while changing planes in Vancouver, as was Ms. Meng. The statement accuses Canada of “severely violating the legal, legitimate rights of a Chinese citizen” and demands the person’s release.

“Otherwise there will be severe consequences, and Canada must bear the full responsibility,” said the statement, which was posted online late Saturday.

Phone calls to the Canadian Embassy rang unanswered while the Canadian government’s global affairs media office didn’t immediately respond to an email request for comment.

The warning marks an escalation in Beijing’s rhetoric as investors worry that the arrest could cause the shaky trade detente between the US and China to devolve into acrimony. A federal judge issued a warrant for Meng’s arrest back in August. Though after she was made aware of the warrant, Meng avoided travel to the US. She was arrested in Vancouver last Saturday while traveling to Mexico.

Aside from breaking off trade talks, some are worried that Beijing could seek to retaliate in kind by arresting a notable US executive. While the threats of Chinese bureaucrats might not amount to much in the eyes of US prosecutors, threatening a US executive with long-term detention in a Chinese “reeducation camp” just might.

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The trials of Julian Assange

Eresh Omar Jamal interviews Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi in relation to the situation of Julian Assange.

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Authored by Eresh Omar Jamal for The Daily Star (Bangladesh):


Stefania Maurizi is an investigative journalist working for the Italian daily La Repubblica. She has worked on all WikiLeaks releases of secret documents and partnered with Glenn Greenwald to reveal the Snowden Files about Italy. She has authored two books—Dossier WikiLeaks: Segreti Italiani and Una Bomba, Dieci Storie. In an exclusive interview with Eresh Omar Jamal of The Daily Star, Maurizi talks about the continued arbitrary detention of Julian Assange, why powerful governments see WikiLeaks as an existential threat, and the implications for global press freedom if Assange is prosecuted for publishing secret government documents.

You recently had the chance to visit Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. When was this and can you describe the state he is in?

I was able to visit him on November 19, after 8 months of failed attempts, because last March the Ecuadorian authorities cut off all his social and professional contacts, with the exception of his lawyers, and in the preceding 8 months, I had asked for permission to visit him nine times without success—the Ecuadorian authorities didn’t reply at all to my requests.

When I was finally granted permission to visit the WikiLeaks founder at the Ecuadorian embassy in London last November, I was literally shocked to see the huge impact his isolation has had on his health. Because I have worked as a media partner with him and his organisation, WikiLeaks, for the last nine years, I have met him many times and can tell when there are any changes in his body and mind. I wondered how his mind could keep working; but after talking to him in the embassy for two hours, I have no doubt that his mind is working fine. I still wonder how that’s possible after six and a half years of detention without even one hour of being outdoors. I would have had a physical and mental breakdown after just 6 months, not after 6 years.

Detention and isolation are killing him slowly, and no one is doing anything to stop it. The media reports, the commentators comment, but at the end of the day, he is still there; having spent the last six and a half years confined to a tiny building with no access to sunlight or to proper medical treatment. And this is happening in London, in the heart of Europe. He is not sitting in an embassy in Pyongyang. It is truly tragic and completely unacceptable. And I’m simply appalled at the way the UK authorities have contributed to his arbitrary detention, and have opposed any solution to this intractable legal and diplomatic quagmire.

Having bravely defended Assange for years, the Ecuadorian government in late March cut off almost all his communications with the outside world. What prompted this turnabout and what is its purpose?

Politics has completely changed in Ecuador, and more in general, in Latin America, since 2012, when Ecuador granted Julian Assange asylum. I have never had any interviews with the current Ecuadorian President, Mr Lenin Moreno, but based on his public declarations, it’s rather obvious to me that he does not approve of what Julian Assange and WikiLeaks do.

With all his problems, Rafael Correa (former president of Ecuador) protected Assange from the very beginning, whereas Lenin Moreno considers him a liability. Moreno is under pressure from the right-wing politicians in Ecuador, and also from very powerful governments, like the US and UK governments, who will leave no stones unturned to jail Assange and destroy WikiLeaks. I am not sure how long Lenin Moreno will hold out against this immense pressure, provided that he wants to hold out at all.

Assange was vindicated not so long ago as to why he cannot leave the embassy when the US Department of Justice “accidentally” revealed in November that the founder of WikiLeaks had been secretly charged in the US. What do you think those charges are for?

It’s hard to say unless the charges get declassified and I really appreciate how the US organisation, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, is fighting before the court in the Eastern District of Virginia, US, to have the charges declassified.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the US authorities have always wanted to charge him for WikiLeaks’ publications. They have wanted to do so from the very beginning, since 2010, when WikiLeaks released its bombshell publications like the US diplomatic cables.

But the US authorities have been unable to do so due to the fact that WikiLeaks’ publication activities enjoy constitutional protection thanks to the First Amendment. So it will be very interesting to see how they will get around this constitutional protection in order to be able to charge him and other WikiLeaks journalists and put them all in jail.

Why have some of the most powerful governments and intelligence agencies invested so much resources to attack Assange and WikiLeaks?

You have to realise what it meant for the US national security complex to witness the publication of 76,000 secret documents about the war in Afghanistan, and then another 390,000 secret reports about the war in Iraq; followed by 251,287 US diplomatic cables and 779 secret files on the Guantanamo detainees; and to watch WikiLeaks save Edward Snowden, while the US was trying everything it could do, to show the world that there is no way of exposing the NSA’s secrets and keep your head attached to your neck having done so.

You have to realise what this means in an environment like that of the US, where even the most brilliant national security reporters didn’t dare to publish the name of the head of the CIA Counterterrorism Center, Michael D’Andrea, even though his name and the abuses committed by his centre were open secrets within their inner circles. Although the New York Times finally did, later on. But this was and still is the reality in the US, and even though it may not be as bad in the UK, it’s still quite bad. Look at what happened with the arrest of Glenn Greenwald’s husband, David Miranda, at the Heathrow Airport during the publication of the Snowden Files. Look at what happened with The Guardian being forced to destroy its hard drives during the publication of those files.

There are different levels of power in our societies and generally in our western democracies, criticism against the low, medium and high levels of power via journalistic activities is tolerated. Journalists may get hit with libel cases, have troubles with their careers; however, exposing those levels is permitted. The problem is when journalists and media organisations touch the highest levels, the levels where states and intelligence agencies operate.

WikiLeaks is a media organisation that has published secret documents about these entities for years, and Julian Assange and his staff have done this consistently, not occasionally like all the other media organisations do. You can imagine the anger these powerful entities have towards WikiLeaks—they perceive WikiLeaks as an existential threat and they want to set an example that says, “Don’t you dare expose our secrets and crimes, because if you do, we will smash you.”

If Assange is prosecuted, what impact might it have on other publishers and journalists and on press freedom globally?

It will have a huge impact and that is why organisations like the American Civil Liberties Union are speaking out. Never before in the US has an editor and media organisation ended up in jail for publishing information in the public interest. If Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks’ staff end up in jail, it will be the first time in US history and will set a devastating precedent for attack on press freedom in the US, but actually, not only in the US. Because if a country like the US, in which the activities of the press enjoy constitutional protection, treats journalists this way, you can imagine how other countries where the press doesn’t enjoy such strong protection will react. It will send a clear message to them: “Your hands are free.”

At the end of the day, I think there are two sides to this Assange and WikiLeaks saga: the US-UK national security complex, but more in general, I would say, the people within the national security complex, who want to destroy Julian Assange and WikiLeaks to send a clear message to journalists: “Don’t mess with us if you don’t want your lives to be destroyed.” While on the other side, there are the freedom of the press guys, meaning journalists like me, who want to demonstrate the exact opposite: that we can expose power at the highest levels, we can expose the darkest corners of governments and come out alive and well. And actually, we must do this, because real power is invisible and hides in the darkest corners.

Eresh Omar Jamal is a journalist for The Daily Star (Bangladesh). You can find him on Twitter: @EreshOmarJamal and Stefania Maurizi: @SMaurizi

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Diplomacy a Waste of Time with Washington

Trump’s JCPOA pullout and threatened INF Treaty withdrawal show Washington can never be trusted.

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Authored by Stephen Lendman:


The US is a serial lawbreaker, operating by its own rules, no others.

Time and again, it flagrantly breaches international treaties, Security Council resolutions, and other rule of law principles, including its own Constitution.

Diplomacy with Republicans and undemocratic Dems is an exercise in futility.

Trump’s JCPOA pullout and threatened INF Treaty withdrawal show Washington can never be trusted.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova’s proposed US outreach to discuss INF Treaty bilateral differences is well intended – despite knowing nothing is accomplished when talks with Washington are held, so why bother.

It’s just a matter of time before the US breaches another promise. They’re hollow when made. Kremlin good intentions aren’t enough to overcome US duplicity and implacable hostility toward Russia.

“We are ready to continue the dialogue in appropriate formats on the entire range of problems related to this document on the basis of professionalism and mutual respect, without putting forward unsubstantiated accusations and ultimatums. Our proposals are well known and remain on the negotiating table,” said Zakharova, adding:

“We have admitted (US) documents for further consideration. This text again includes accusations in the form of unfounded and unsubstantiated information about Russia’s alleged violations of this deal.

Comments to Washington like the above and similar remarks are like talking to a wall. The US demands all countries bend to its will, offering nothing in return but betrayal – especially in dealings with Russia, China, Iran, and other sovereign independent governments it seeks to replace with pro-Western puppet ones.

Not a shred of evidence suggests Russia violated its INF Treaty obligations. The accusation is baseless like all others against the Kremlin.

“No one has officially or by any other means handed over to Russia any files or facts, confirming that Russia breaches or does not comply with this deal,” Zakharova stressed, adding:

“We again confirm our consistent position that the INF Treaty is one of the key pillars of strategic stability and international security.”

It’s why the Trump regime intends abolishing it by pulling out. Strategic stability and international security defeat its agenda. Endless wars and chaos serve it.

The US, UK, France, Israel, and their imperial partners get away with repeated international law breaches because the EU, UN, and rest of the world community lack backbone enough to challenge them.

It’s how it is no matter how egregious their actions, notably their endless wars of aggression, supporting the world’s worst tinpot pot despots, and failing to back the rights of persecuted Palestinians and other long-suffering people.

The only language Republicans and Dems understand is toughness. Putin pretends a Russian/US partnership exists to his discredit – a show of weakness, not strength and responsible leadership.

In response to the Trump regime’s intention to withdraw from the INF Treaty, he said Russia will “react accordingly” – precisely what, he didn’t say.

A few suggestions, Mr. President.

  • Recall your ambassador to Washington. Expel the Trump regime’s envoy from Moscow and other key embassy personnel.
  • Arrest US spies in Russia you long ago identified. Imprison them until the US releases all Russian political prisoners. Agree to swap US detainees for all of them, no exceptions.
  • Install enough S-400 air defense systems to cover all Syrian airspace. Warn Washington, Britain, France and Israel that their aircraft, missiles and other aerial activities in its airspace will be destroyed in flight unless permission from Damascus is gotten – clearly not forthcoming.
  • Publicly and repeatedly accuse the above countries of supporting the scourge of ISIS and likeminded terrorists they pretend to oppose.
  • Warn them in no uncertain terms that their aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic no longer will be tolerated. Tell them the same goes if they dare attack Iran.
  • Stop pretending Mohammad bin Salman didn’t order Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, along with ignoring the kingdom’s horrendous human rights abuses domestically and abroad – including support for ISIS and other terrorists.
  • Put observance of rule of law principles and honor above dirty business as usual with the kingdom and other despotic regimes for profits.
  • Do the right things at all times and damn the short-term consequences – including toughness on Washington, the UK, Israel, and their imperial partners in high crimes of war and against humanity.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: stephenlendman.org (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at [email protected].

My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

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