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The Russiagate witch-hunt – the deep state’s ‘insurance policy’

The Russia investigation is a planned and premeditated effort by the establishment to overthrow a democratically elected president

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(AntiWar,com) – There was a sinister plot to meddle in the 2016 election, after all. But it was not orchestrated from the Kremlin; it was an entirely homegrown affair conducted from the inner sanctums – the White House, DOJ, the Hoover Building and Langley – of the Imperial City.

Likewise, the perpetrators didn’t speak Russian or write in the Cyrillic script. In fact, they were lifetime beltway insiders occupying the highest positions of power in the US government.

Here are the names and rank of the principal conspirators: John Brennan, CIA director; Susan Rice, National Security Advisor; Samantha Power, UN Ambassador; James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence; James Comey, FBI director; Andrew McCabe, Deputy FBI director; Sally Yates, deputy Attorney General, Bruce Ohr, associate deputy AG; Peter Strzok, deputy assistant director of FBI counterintelligence; Lisa Page, FBI lawyer; and countless other lessor and greater poobahs of Washington power, including President Obama himself.

To a person, the participants in this illicit cabal shared the core trait that made Obama such a blight on the nation’s well-being. To wit, he never held an honest job outside the halls of government in his entire adult life; and as a careerist agent of the state and practitioner of its purported goods works, he exuded a sanctimonious disdain for everyday citizens who make their living along the capitalist highways and byways of America.

The above cast of election-meddlers, of course, comes from the same mold. If Wikipedia is roughly correct, just these 10 named perpetrators have punched in about 300 years of postgraduate employment – and 260 of those years (87%) were on government payrolls or government contractor jobs.

As to whether they shared Obama’s political class arrogance, Peter Strzok left nothing to the imagination in his now celebrated texts to his gal-pal, Lisa Page:

“Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart. I could SMELL the Trump support……I LOATHE congress….And F Trump.”

You really didn’t need the ALL CAPS to get the gist.

In a word, the anti-Trump cabal is comprised of creatures of the state.

Their now obvious effort to alter the outcome of the 2016 election was nothing less than the Imperial City’s immune system attacking an alien threat, which embodied the very opposite trait: That is, the Donald had never spent one moment on the state’s payroll, had been elected to no government office and displayed a spirited contempt for the groupthink and verities of officialdom in the Imperial City.

But it is the vehemence and flagrant transparency of this conspiracy to prevent Trump’s ascension to the Oval Office that reveals the profound threat to capitalism and democracy posed by the Deep State and its prosperous elites and fellow travelers domiciled in the Imperial City.

That is to say, Donald Trump was no kind of anti-statist and only a skin-deep populist, at best. His signature anti-immigrant meme was apparently discovered by accident when in the early days of the campaign he went off on Mexican thugs, rapists and murderers – only to find that it resonated strongly among a certain element of the GOP grass roots.

But a harsh line on immigrants, refugees and Muslims would not have incited the Deep State into an attempted coup d’état; it wouldn’t have mobilized so overtly against Ted Cruz, for example, whose positions on the ballyhooed terrorist/immigrant threat were not much different.

No, what sent the Imperial City establishment into a fit of apoplexy was exactly two things that struck at the core of its raison d’ etre.

First was Trump’s stated intentions to seek rapprochement with Putin’s Russia and his sensible embrace of a noninterventionist”America First” view of Washington’s role in the world. And secondly, and even more importantly, was his very persona.

That is to say, the role of today’s president is to function as the suave, reliable maître d’ of the Imperial City and the lead spokesman for Washington’s purported good works at home and abroad. And for that role the slovenly, loud-mouthed, narcissistic, bombastic, ill-informed and crudely-mannered Donald Trump was utterly unqualified.

Stated differently, welfare statism and warfare statism is the secular religion of the Imperial City and its collaborators in the mainstream media; and the Oval Office is the bully pulpit from which its catechisms, bromides and self-justifications are propagandized to the unwashed masses – the tax-and-debt-slaves of Flyover America who bear the burden of its continuation.

Needless to say, the Never Trumpers were eminently correct in their worry that Trump would sully, degrade and weaken the Imperial Presidency. That he has done in spades with his endless tweet storms that consist mainly of petty score settling, self-justification, unseemly boasting and shrill partisanship; and on top of that you can pile his impetuous attacks on friend, foe and bystanders (e.g. NFL kneelers) alike.

Yet that is exactly what has the Deep State and its media collaborators running scared. To wit, Trump’s entire modus operandi is not about governing or a serious policy agenda – and most certainly not about Making America’s Economy Great Again. (MAEGA)

By appointing a passel of Keynesian monetary central planners to the Fed and launching an orgy of fiscal recklessness via his massive defense spending and tax-cutting initiatives, the Donald has more than sealed his own doom: There will unavoidably be a massive financial and economic crisis in the years just ahead and the rulers of the Imperial City will most certainly heap the blame upon him with malice aforethought.

In the interim, however, what the Donald is actually doing is sharply polarizing the country and using the Bully Pulpit for the very opposite function assigned to it by Washington’s permanent political class. Namely, to discredit and vilify the ruling elites of government and the media and thereby undermine the docility and acquiescence of the unwashed masses upon which the Imperial City’s rule and hideous prosperity depend.

It is no wonder, then, that the inner circle of the Obama Administration plotted an “insurance policy”. They saw it coming – that is, an offensive rogue disrupter who was soft on Russia, to boot – and out of that alarm the entire hoax of RussiaGate was born.

As is now well known from the recent dump of 375 Strzok/Gates text messages, there occurred on August 15, 2016 a meeting in the office of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe (who is still there) to kick off the RussiaGate campaign. As Strzok later wrote to Page, who was also at the meeting:

“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office – that there’s no way he gets elected – but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk……It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event that you die before you’re 40.”

They will try to spin this money quote seven-ways to Sunday, but in the context of everything else now known there is only one possible meaning: The national security and law enforcement machinery of Imperial Washington was being activated then and there in behalf of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Indeed, the trail of proof is quite clear. At the very time of this August meeting, the FBI was already being fed the initial elements of the Steele dossier, and the latter had nothing to do with any kind of national security investigation.

For crying out loud, it was plain old “oppo research” paid for by the Clinton campaign and the DNC. And the only way that it bore on Russian involvement in the US election was that virtually all of the salacious material and false narratives about Trump emissaries meeting with high level Russian officials was disinformation sourced in Moscow, and was completely untrue.

As former senior FBI official, Andrew McCarthy, neatly summarized the sequence of action recently:

The Clinton campaign generated the Steele dossier through lawyers who retained Fusion GPS. Fusion, in turn, hired Steele, a former British intelligence agent who had FBI contacts from prior collaborative investigations. The dossier was steered into the FBI’s hands as it began to be compiled in the summer of 2016. A Fusion Russia expert, Nellie Ohr, worked with Steele on Fusion’s anti-Trump research. She is the wife of Bruce Ohr, then the deputy associate attorney general – the top subordinate of Sally Yates, then Obama’s deputy attorney general (later acting AG). Ohr was a direct pipeline to Yates…..

Based on the publication this week of text messages between FBI agent Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, the FBI lawyer with whom he was having an extramarital affair, we have learned of a meeting convened in the office of FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe…… right around the time the Page FISA warrant was obtained……

Bruce Ohr met personally with Steele. And after Trump was elected, according to Fusion founder Glenn Simpson, he requested and got a meeting with Simpson to, as Simpson told the House Intelligence Committee, “discuss our findings regarding Russia and the election.”

This, of course, was the precise time Democrats began peddling the public narrative of Trump-Russia collusion. It is the time frame during which Ohr’s boss, Yates, was pushing an absurd Logan Act investigation of Trump transition official Michael Flynn (then slotted to become Trump’s national-security adviser) over Flynn’s meetings with the Russian ambassador.

Here’s the thing. There is almost nothing in the Steele dossiers which is true. At the same time, there is no real alternative evidence based on hard NSA intercepts that show Russian government agents were behind the only two acts – the leaks of the DNC emails and the Podesta emails – that were of even minimal import to the outcome of the 2016 presidential campaign.

As to the veracity of the dossier, the raving anti-Trumper and former CIA interim chief, Michael Morrell, settled the matter. If you are paying ex-FSA agents for information on the back streets of Moscow, the more you pay, the more “information” you will get:

Then I asked myself, why did these guys provide this information, what was their motivation? And I subsequently learned that he paid them. That the intermediaries paid the sources and the intermediaries got the money from Chris. And that kind of worries me a little bit because if you’re paying somebody, particularly former [Russian Federal Security Service] officers, they are going to tell you truth and innuendo and rumor, and they’re going to call you up and say, ‘Hey, let’s have another meeting, I have more information for you,’ because they want to get paid some more,’ Morrell said.

Far from being “verified,” the dossier is best described as a pack of lies, gossip, innuendo and irrelevancies. Take, for example, the claim that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen met with Russian Federation Council foreign affairs head Konstantin Kosachev in Prague during August 2016. That claim is verifiably false as proven by Cohen’s own passport.

Likewise, the dossier ‘s claim that Carter Page was offered a giant bribe by the head of Rosneft, the Russian state energy company, in return for lifting the sanctions is downright laughable. That’s because Carter Page never had any serious role in the Trump campaign and was one of hundreds of unpaid informal advisors who hung around the basket hoping for some role in a future Trump government.

Like the hapless George Papadopoulos, in fact, Page apparently never met Trump, had no foreign policy credentials and had been drafted onto the campaign’s so-called foreign policy advisory committee out of sheer desperation.

That is, because the mainstream GOP foreign policy establishment had so completely boycotted the Trump campaign, the latter was forced to fill its advisory committee essentially from the phone book; and that desperation move in March 2016, in turn, had been undertaken in order to damp-down the media uproar over the Donald’s assertion that he got his foreign policy advise from watching TV!

The truth of the matter is that Page was a former Merrill Lynch stockbrokers who had plied his trade in Russia several years earlier. He had gone to Moscow in July 2016 on his own dime and without any mandate from the Trump campaign; and his “meeting” with Rosneft actually consisted of drinks with an old buddy from his broker days who had become head of investor relations at Rosneft.

Nevertheless, it is pretty evident that the Steele dossier’s tale about Page’s alleged bribery scheme was the basis for the FISA warrant that resulted in wiretaps on Page and other officials in Trump Tower during September and October.

And that’s your insurance policy at work: The Deep State and its allies in the Obama administration were desperately looking for dirt with which to crucify the Donald, and thereby insure that the establishment’s anointed candidate would not fail at the polls.

So the question recurs as to why did the conspirators resort to the outlandish and even cartoonish disinformation contained in the Steele dossier?

The answer to that question cuts to the quick of the entire RussiaGate hoax. To wit, that’s all they had!

Notwithstanding the massive machinery and communications vacuum cleaners operated by the $75 billion US intelligence communities and its vaunted 17 agencies, there are no digital intercepts proving that Russian state operatives hacked the DNC and Podesta emails. Period.

Yet when it comes to anything that even remotely smacks of “meddling” in the US election campaign, that’s all she wrote.

There is nothing else of moment, and most especially not the alleged phishing expeditions directed at 20 or so state election boards. Most of these have been discredited, denied by local officials or were simply the work of everyday hackers looking for voter registration lists that could be sold.

The patently obvious point here is that in America there is no on-line network of voting machines on either an intrastate or interstate basis. And that fact renders the whole election machinery hacking meme null and void. Not even the treacherous Russians are stupid enough to waste their time trying to hack that which is unhackable.

In that vein, the Facebook ad buying scheme is even more ridiculous. In the context of an election campaign in which upwards of $7 billion of spending was reported by candidates and their committees to the FEC, and during which easily double that amount was spent by independent committees and issue campaigns, the notion that just $44,000 of Facebook ads made any difference to anything is not worthy of adult thought.

And, yes, out of the ballyhooed $100,000 of Facebook ads, the majority occurred after the election was over and none of them named candidates, anyway. The ads consisted of issue messages that reflected all points on the political spectrum from pro-choice to anti-gun control.

And even this so-called effort at “polarizing” the American electorate was “discovered” only after Facebook failed to find any “Russian-linked” ads during its first two searches. Instead, this complete drivel was detected only after the Senate’s modern day Joseph McCarthy, Sen. Mark Warner, who is the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a leading legislator on Internet regulation, showed up on Mark Zuckerberg’s doorstep at Facebook headquarters.

In any event, we can be sure there are no NSA intercepts proving that the Russians hacked the Dem emails for one simple reason: They would have been leaked long ago by the vast network of Imperial City operatives plotting to bring the Donald down.

Moreover, the original architect and godfather of NSA’s vast spying apparatus, William Binney, has essentially proved that the DNC emails were leaked by an insider who downloaded them on a memory stick. By conducting his own experiments, he showed that the known download speed of one batch of DNC emails could not have occurred over the Internet from a remote location in Russia or anywhere else on the planet, and actually matched what was possible only via a local USB-connected thumb drive.

So the real meaning of the Strzok/Gates text messages is straight foreword. There was a conspiracy to prevent Trump’s election, and then after the shocking results of November 8, this campaign morphed into an intensified effort to discredit the winner.

For instance, Susan Rice got Obama to lower the classification level of the information obtained from the Trump campaign intercepts and other dirt-gathering actions by the Intelligence Community (IC) – so that it could be disseminated more readily to all Washington intelligence agencies.

In short order, of course, the IC was leaking like a sieve, thereby paving the way for the post-election hysteria and the implication that any contact with a Russian – even one living in Brooklyn – must be collusion. And that included calls to the Russian ambassador by the president-elect’s own national security advisor designate.

Should there by any surprise, therefore, that it turns out the Andrew McCabe bushwhacked General Flynn on January 24 when he called to say that FBI agents were on the way to the White House for what Flynn presumed to be more security clearance work with his incipient staff.

No at all. The FBI team was there to interrogate Flynn about the transcripts of his perfectly appropriate and legal conversations with Ambassador Kislyak about two matters of state – the UN resolution on Israel and the spiteful new sanctions on certain Russian citizens that Obama announced on December 28 in a fit of pique over the Dems election loss.

And that insidious team of FBI gotcha cops was led by none other than……Peter Strzok!

But after all the recent leaks – and these text messages are just the tip of the iceberg – the die is now cast. Either the Deep State and its minions and collaborators in the media and the Republican party, too, will soon succeed in putting Mike Pence into the Oval Office, or the Imperial City is about ready to breakout in vicious partisan warfare like never before.

Either way, economic and fiscal governance is about ready to collapse entirely, making the tax bill a kind of last hurrah before they mayhem really begins.

In that context, selling the rip may become one of the most profitable speculations ever imagined.

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Wow, seems this article started out blasting the cabal against trump, but then becomes just another part of the cabal, justifying and articulating a view of Trump that is based in the bubble of a Democrats deranged mind. Anyone that was against trump in say the summer of 2016, who then researched and viewed Trumps last 30 years of interviews, on large stages like Oprah, and others, would have come to only one conclusion, Trump is a patriot and loves his country. Trump has been the only person to expose and discuss the deep deep sickness of the American institutions… Read more »

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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

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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.

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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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Constantinople: Ukrainian Church leader is now uncanonical

October 12 letter proclaims Metropolitan Onuphry as uncanonical and tries to strong-arm him into acquiescing through bribery and force.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The pressure in Ukraine kept ratcheting up over the last few days, with a big revelation today that Patriarch Bartholomew now considers Metropolitan Onuphy “uncanonical.” This news was published on 6 December by a hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (running under the Moscow Patriarchate).

This assessment marks a complete 180-degree turn by the leader of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople, and it further embitters the split that has developed to quite a major row between this church’s leadership and the Moscow Patriarchate.

OrthoChristian reported this today (we have added emphasis):

A letter of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine was published yesterday by a hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in which the Patriarch informed the Metropolitan that his title and position is, in fact, uncanonical.

This assertion represents a negation of the position held by Pat. Bartholomew himself until April of this year, when the latest stage in the Ukrainian crisis began…

The same letter was independently published by the Greek news agency Romfea today as well.

It is dated October 12, meaning it was written just one day after Constantinople made its historic decision to rehabilitate the Ukrainian schismatics and rescind the 1686 document whereby the Kiev Metropolitanate was transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church, thereby, in Constantinople’s view, taking full control of Ukraine.

In the letter, Pat. Bartholomew informs Met. Onuphry that after the council, currently scheduled for December 15, he will no longer be able to carry his current title of “Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine.”

The Patriarch immediately opens his letter with Constantinople’s newly-developed historical claim about the jurisdictional alignment of Kiev: “You know from history and from indisputable archival documents that the holy Metropolitanate of Kiev has always belonged to the jurisdiction of the Mother Church of Constantinople…”

Constantinople has done an about-face on its position regarding Ukraine in recent months, given that it had previously always recognized the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate as the sole canonical primate in Ukraine.

…The bulk of the Patriarch’s letter is a rehash of Constantinople’s historical and canonical arguments, which have already been laid out and discussed elsewhere. (See also here and here). Pat. Bartholomew also writes that Constantinople stepped into the Ukrainian ecclesiastical sphere as the Russian Church had not managed to overcome the schisms that have persisted for 30 years.

It should be noted that the schisms began and have persisted precisely as anti-Russian movements and thus the relevant groups refused to accept union with the Russian Church.

Continuing, Pat. Bartholomew informs Met. Onuphry that his position and title are uncanonical:

Addressing you as ‘Your Eminence the Metropolitan of Kiev’ as a form of economia [indulgence/condescension—OC] and mercy, we inform you that after the elections for the primate of the Ukrainian Church by a body that will consist of clergy and laity, you will not be able ecclesiologically and canonically to bear the title of Metropolitan of Kiev, which, in any case, you now bear in violation of the described conditions of the official documents of 1686.

He also entreats Met. Onuphry to “promptly and in a spirit of harmony and unity” participate, with the other hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in the founding council of the new Ukrainian church that Constantinople is planning to create, and in the election of its primate.

The Constantinople head also writes that he “allows” Met. Onuphry to be a candidate for the position of primate.

He further implores Met. Onuphry and the UOC hierarchy to communicate with Philaret Denisenko, the former Metropolitan of Kiev, and Makary Maletich, the heads of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” and the schismatic “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” respectively—both of which have been subsumed into Constantinople—but whose canonical condemnations remain in force for the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The hierarchs of the Serbian and Polish Churches have also officially rejected the rehabilitation of the Ukrainian schismatics.

Pat. Bartholomew concludes expressing his confidence that Met. Onuphry will decide to heal the schism through the creation of a new church in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church under Metropolitan Onuphry’s leadership is recognized as the sole canonical Orthodox jurisdiction in Ukraine by just about every other canonical Orthodox Jurisdiction besides Constantinople. Even NATO member Albania, whose expressed reaction was “both sides are wrong for recent actions” still does not accept the canonicity of the “restored hierarchs.”

In fact, about the only people in this dispute that seem to be in support of the “restored” hierarchs, Filaret and Makary, are President Poroshenko, Patriarch Bartholomew, Filaret and Makary… and NATO.

While this letter was released to the public eye yesterday, the nearly two months that Metropolitan Onuphry has had to comply with it have not been helped in any way by the actions of both the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Ukrainian government.

Priests of the Canonical Church in Ukraine awaiting interrogation by the State authorities

For example, in parallel reports released on December 6th, the government is reportedly accusing canonical priests in Ukraine of treason because they are carrying and distributing a brochure entitled (in English): The Ukrainian Orthodox Church: Relations with the State. The Attitude Towards the Conflict in Donbass and to the Church Schism. Questions and Answers.

In a manner that would do any American liberal proud, these priests are being accused of inciting religious hatred, though really all they are doing is offering an explanation for the situation in Ukraine as it exists.

A further piece also released yesterday notes that the Ukrainian government rehabilitated an old Soviet-style technique of performing “inspections of church artifacts” at the Pochaev Lavra. This move appears to be both intended to intimidate the monastics who are living there now, who are members of the canonical Church, as well as preparation for an expected forcible takeover by the new “united Church” that is under creation. The brotherhood characterized the inspections in this way:

The brotherhood of the Pochaev Lavra previously characterized the state’s actions as communist methods of putting pressure on the monastery and aimed at destroying monasticism.

Commenting on the situation with the Pochaev Lavra, His Eminence Archbishop Clement of Nizhyn and Prilusk, the head of the Ukrainian Church’s Information-Education Department, noted:

This is a formal raiding, because no reserve ever built the Pochaev Lavra, and no Ministry of Culture ever invested a single penny to restoring the Lavra, and the state has done nothing to preserve the Lavra in its modern form. The state destroyed the Lavra, turned it into a psychiatric hospital, a hospital for infectious diseases, and so on—the state has done nothing more. And now it just declares that it all belongs to the state. No one asked the Church, the people that built it. When did the Lavra and the land become state property? They belonged to the Church from time immemorial.

With the massive pressure both geopolitically and ecclesiastically building in Ukraine almost by the day, it is anyone’s guess what will happen next.

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