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Russia’s food shipments to Qatar are a soft power masterstroke

Russia is brilliantly branding itself as a Muslim-friendly country by sending food relief to Qatar during Ramadan, and it’s also setting the stage for Al Jazeera to become more neutral in its coverage of Moscow’s Mideast policies too.

Andrew Korybko

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The Qatari-Saudi Cold War is a geopolitical scheme cooked up by the US and the UAE, as I explained in my 21st Century Wire article about “The Machiavellian Plot to Provoke Saudi Arabia and Qatar into a “Blood Border” War”, but it’s not exactly a surprise that it happened. My September 2016 forward-looking analysis about “The GCC: The Tripartite’s Big Barter In The ‘Eurasian Balkans’” presciently forecast that a second round of Gulf tensions was bound to occur, and that the Great Power Tripartite of Russia, Iran, and Turkey could cooperate with Qatar in helping to break Riyadh’s stranglehold on the GCC. Moreover, my Geopolitica.Ru analysis from earlier this week about “Russia’s Energy Diplomacy In The Mideast: Boom Or Bust?” accurately predicted that Russia will play a role in mediating tensions between the two feuding GCC countries, which has now officially come to pass with the Qatari Foreign Minister’s visit to Moscow this weekend.

There are concrete geostrategic reasons why Russia is making itself available to Qatar as a mediator, and these mostly have to do with positioning Moscow as the supreme balancing force all across the Eurasian supercontinent and probing the potential for a “gas OPEC” between the two and Iran. Apart from the tangible dividends, however, there stand to be more immediate soft power results from Russia’s outreach to Qatar. Moscow took the wise move to announce that it’s ready to increase food shipments to Doha, which is hugely symbolic considering that Muslims all across the world are fasting to commemorate the Holy Month of Ramadan. For readers who aren’t aware of what this entails, Muslims fast all throughout the day and then eat a large multi-dish meal after sunset during iftar. Ramadan is supposed to be a month of Islamic solidarity and celebration, but regrettably, Saudi Arabia decided to launch its asymmetrical aggression against Qatar at this time, and the self-inflicted reputational consequences have already been severe.

Many Muslims from all across the world have voiced their disgust on social media, unable to believe that the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques would dare cut off food shipments to a fellow member of the ummah (international Muslim community) during this Holy Month. Some have even (rightly) accused Saudi Arabia of acting on orders from “Israel” because Tel Aviv has publicly backed Riyadh’s every move. Saudi Arabia’s backstabbing of former ally Qatar looks even more treacherous when contrasted with Iran’s offer to provide food to the de-facto embargoed country and even allow it to use the Islamic Republic’s ports for commerce. This isn’t supposed to happen, at least according to the radical sectarian narrative promoted by Saudi Arabia, but the very fact that Shiite Iran is extending humanitarian assistance to Sunni Qatar debunks the manufactured Sunni-Shiite geopolitical split that Riyadh has been heavily promoting for decades. What’s more, Russia’s food shipments to Qatar therefore take on an even more heightened symbolic meaning in this context.

Russia’s grand strategy is to become the Eurasian Balancer, and it can only do this by peacefully managing intra-Islamic relations between the Sunni and Shiite communities. Moscow’s policies aren’t sectarian by any measure, though they’ve unfortunately been branded as such by some Muslims and especially Qatar’s ummah-wide Al Jazeera media outlet due to the misleading perception that they supposedly only benefit Shiites (Alawite President Assad and Iran). This is the wrong way to interpret Russia’s anti-terrorist intervention in Syria, but it’s unfortunately convenient for agenda-driven actors to frame the game-changing events over the past couple of years along these lines. One of those self-interested forces which actively promoted this idea and deliberately fanned the flames of sectarian violence is Qatar through its publicly financed Al Jazeera platform, though interestingly, Doha is now in a position of semi-strategic dependency on Moscow which could potentially lead to a more neutral shift in the station’s coverage of Russia’s Mideast policies.

Altogether, Russia’s proposal to ship food to Qatar in helping the peninsular country break through the Saudi-led embargo has served two strategic soft power objectives. The first is that Moscow is no longer perceived as the “pro-Shiite” actor that some of the region’s citizenry were wrongly brainwashed into thinking that it was, and secondly, Russia’s reputation will likely improve as a result of Al Jazeera’s expectedly more neutral coverage of its Mideast policy. Considering that Al Jazeera is largely responsible for this false sectarian narrative anyhow, Russia’s humanitarian courtship of Qatar during Ramadan could go a long way in sustainably reversing this if Doha directs the station to more neutrally cover Moscow’s Mideast moves as a sign of gratitude for its support. The soft power surge that this would give to Russia’s regional policy is immeasurable, and it would advance Moscow’s grand strategic goal of becoming the premier balancing force in Eurasia, especially as it relates to easing tensions surrounding the US’ recent aggravation of the Sunni-Shiite split.

DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.

 

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EU leaders dictate Brexit terms to Theresa May (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 115.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss how EU leaders have agreed on a plan to delay the the Article 50 process which effectively postpones Brexit beyond the 29 March deadline.

The UK will now be offered a delay until the 22nd of May, only if MPs approve Theresa May’s withdrawal deal next week. If MPs do not approve May’s negotiated deal, then the EU will support a short delay until the 12th of April, allowing the UK extra time to get the deal passed or to “indicate a way forward”.

UK PM Theresa May said there was now a “clear choice” facing MPs, who could vote for a third time on her deal next week.

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Theresa May outlines four Brexit options, via Politico

In a letter to MPs, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May set out the four options she believes the country has in light of Thursday’s decision by EU leaders to extend the Brexit deadline beyond next Friday.

The U.K. is faced with a four-way choice, May wrote late Friday.

The government could revoke Article 50 — which May called a betrayal of the Brexit vote; leave without a deal on April 12; pass her deal in a vote next week; or, “if it appears that there is not sufficient support” for a vote on her deal in parliament next week or if it is rejected for a third time, she could ask for an extension beyond April 12.

But this would require for the U.K. taking part in European elections in May, which the prime minister said “would be wrong.”

May wrote that she’s hoping for the deal to pass, allowing the U.K. to leave the EU “in an orderly way,” adding “I still believe there is a majority in the House for that course of action.”

“I hope we can all agree that we are now at the moment of decision,” she wrote.

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US media suffers panic attack after Mueller fails to deliver on much-anticipated Trump indictment

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

RT

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Via RT


Important pundits and news networks have served up an impressive display of denials, evasions and on-air strokes after learning that Robert Mueller has ended his probe without issuing a single collusion-related indictment.

The Special Counsel delivered his final report to Attorney General William Barr for review on Friday, with the Justice Department confirming that there will be no further indictments related to the probe. The news dealt a devastating blow to the sensational prophesies of journalists, analysts and entire news networks, who for nearly two years reported ad nauseam that President Donald Trump and his inner circle were just days away from being carted off to prison for conspiring with the Kremlin to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Showing true integrity, journalists and television anchors took to Twitter and the airwaves on Friday night to acknowledge that the media severely misreported Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, as well as what Mueller’s probe was likely to find. They are, after all, true professionals.

“How could they let Trump off the hook?” an inconsolable Chris Matthews asked NBC reporter Ken Dilanian during a segment on CNN’s ‘Hardball’.

Dilanian tried to comfort the CNN host with some of his signature NBC punditry.

“My only conclusion is that the president transmitted to Mueller that he would take the Fifth. He would never talk to him and therefore, Mueller decided it wasn’t worth the subpoena fight,” he expertly mused.

Actually, there were several Serious Journalists who used their unsurpassed analytical abilities to conjure up a reason why Mueller didn’t throw the book at Trump, even though the president is clearly a Putin puppet.

“It’s certainly possible that Trump may emerge from this better than many anticipated. However! Consensus has been that Mueller would follow DOJ rules and not indict a sitting president. I.e. it’s also possible his report could be very bad for Trump, despite ‘no more indictments,'” concluded Mark Follman, national affairs editor at Mother Jones, who presumably, and very sadly, was not being facetious.

Revered news organs were quick to artfully modify their expectations regarding Mueller’s findings.

“What is collusion and why is Robert Mueller unlikely to mention it in his report on Trump and Russia?” a Newsweek headline asked following Friday’s tragic announcement.

Three months earlier, Newsweek had meticulously documented all the terrible “collusion” committed by Donald Trump and his inner circle.

But perhaps the most sobering reactions to the no-indictment news came from those who seemed completely unfazed by the fact that Mueller’s investigation, aimed at uncovering a criminal conspiracy between Trump and the Kremlin, ended without digging up a single case of “collusion.”

The denials, evasions and bizarre hot takes are made even more poignant by the fact that just days ago, there was still serious talk about Trump’s entire family being hauled off to prison.

“You can’t blame MSNBC viewers for being confused. They largely kept dissenters from their Trump/Russia spy tale off the air for 2 years. As recently as 2 weeks ago, they had @JohnBrennan strongly suggesting Mueller would indict Trump family members on collusion as his last act,” journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted.

While the Mueller report has yet to be released to the public, the lack of indictments makes it clear that whatever was found, nothing came close to the vast criminal conspiracy alleged by virtually the entire American media establishment.

“You have been lied to for 2 years by the MSM. No Russian collusion by Trump or anyone else. Who lied? Head of the CIA, NSA,FBI,DOJ, every pundit every anchor. All lies,” wrote conservative activist Chuck Woolery.

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom was more blunt, but said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

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Canadian Lawmaker Accuses Trudeau Of Being A “Fake Feminist” (Video)

Rempel segued to Trudeau’s push to quash an investigation into allegations that he once groped a young journalist early in his political career

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Via Zerohedge

Canada’s feminist-in-chief Justin Trudeau wants to support and empower women…but his support stops at the point where said women start creating problems for his political agenda.

That was the criticism levied against the prime minister on Friday by a conservative lawmaker, who took the PM to task for “muzzling strong, principled women” during a debate in the House of Commons.

“He asked for strong women, and this is what they look like!” said conservative MP Michelle Rempel, referring to the former justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, who has accused Trudeau and his cronies of pushing her out of the cabinet after she refused to grant a deferred prosecution agreement to a Quebec-based engineering firm.

She then accused Trudeau of being a “fake feminist”.

“That’s not what a feminist looks like…Every day that he refuses to allow the attorney general to testify and tell her story is another day he’s a fake feminist!”

Trudeau was so taken aback by Rempel’s tirade, that he apparently forgot which language he should respond in.

But Rempel wasn’t finished. She then segued to Trudeau’s push to quash an investigation into allegations that he once groped a young journalist early in his political career. This from a man who once objected to the continued use of the word “mankind” (suggesting we use “peoplekind” instead).

The conservative opposition then tried to summon Wilson-Raybould to appear before the Commons for another hearing (during her last appearance, she shared her account of how the PM and employees in the PM’s office and privy council barraged her with demands that she quash the government’s pursuit of SNC-Lavalin over charges that the firm bribed Libyan government officials). Wilson-Raybould left the Trudeau cabinet after she was abruptly moved to a different ministerial post – a move that was widely seen as a demotion.

Trudeau has acknowledged that he put in a good word on the firm’s behalf with Wilson-Raybould, but insists that he always maintained the final decision on the case was hers and hers alone.

Fortunately for Canadians who agree with Rempel, it’s very possible that Trudeau – who has so far resisted calls to resign – won’t be in power much longer, as the scandal has cost Trudeau’s liberals the lead in the polls for the October election.

 

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