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Saudi’s burgeoning relations with Israel could kill the two state solution in more ways than one

Saudi’s future is now tied in with that of Israel. This presents both new challenges, but also new opportunities for Palestine and its struggle against oppression.

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The so-called “two state solution” for the ongoing crisis in the Levant has been nearly unanimously adopted by countries around the world, as well as the United Nations. In spite of this, much opposition continues to be roused by opposition parties, activists, academics and religious figures on all sides of the Israel-Palestine debate.

Among those rejecting the two state solution are those who state that the theft of any Palestinian land is as grave an injustice as the theft of all. Others look logistically at how a map of a bifurcated Palestine would realistically survive, being broken up geographically by a would-be hostile Israeli state. Likewise, many Israelis see the prospect of any Palestinian state as dangerous while many Palestinians see the idea of dividing a small historically unified area as an insult to the multi-ethnic and multi-religious harmony which existed in Palestine prior to 1948.

As with most things to do with geo-politics, pragmatical realities, however unjust, tend to be the guiding force which shapes events, more than any ethical considerations.

This is where Saudi steps in. Saudi Arabia as a geo-political entity, has been uniformly destructive for the Middle East. Riyadh’s violent exporting of Wahhabism through handsomely paid proxy militants, political agitators and “religious” proselytisers has sowed discord throughout the world from Iraq to the Maghreb and Balkans. In many ways, Saudi’s negative influence has extended even beyond this.

But while the reach of Saudi’s negative influence has been well documented, the titanic geo-politcal failures of Saudi’s region spanning ‘project Wahhabisation’ have been less documented, even though the sting of these failure is being felt by many in Saudi itself, including and most importantly, by Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS).

Consider the following list of failures of Saudi’s traditional foreign policy over the last few decades:

1. Aim: Destroy Syria’s secular government and pave the wave for a friendly Takfiri state

Result: FAIL

2. Aim: Dethrone Saddam Hussein and establish long-term Saudi influence in historic Mesopotamia

Result: FAIL–Iraq’s majority Shi’a population is allied with Iran and will be for the foreseeable future. 

3. Aim: Prevent a new alliance forming between Iran, Iraq, Syria and Hezbollah 

Result: MASSIVE FAIL–Saudi’s aggressive policies towards Iran, Iraq, Syria and Hezbollah only helped to draw the aforementioned states and Lebanese party together. 

4. Aim: Use the combination of economic and geo-political influence to artificially inflate the cost of oil for decades to come: 

Result: FAIL–Saudi is now largely dependant on non-OPEC Russia to prevent oil prices from dropping into the basement. In the 1970s, Saudi helped sink western economies with increased oil prices. Now it is Russia that could sink Saudi. 

5. Aim: Prevent non-Arab influence in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf

Result: FAIL–the Qatar crisis has only enhanced the prestige of Iran and Turkey in the region while economic realities have enhanced the position of both China and Russia. 

6. Aim: Quickly and decisively win the conflict in Yemen and in so doing, bring Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power in Sana’a. 

Result: Embarrassing and prolonged fail against poorly armed Houthi fighters 

When all of this is examined in its aggregate effect, it is not difficult to see why  Mohammad bin Salman seeks to implement drastic changes to Saudi on the eve of his assumption of the throne. MBS is not motivated by ideology, let alone compassion, but he realises that if the status quo is broken, something needs to change.

As I previously stated,

“While MBS has often been thought of as a hardliner because of his hand in the dispute with Qatar and the horrific war on Yemen, in reality, MBS is something of Saudi’s rebel prince without a cause. The fact that his Qatar and Yemen policies have been disastrous is a symptom not of his intractability but more poignantly, of his lack of originality.

Now though, in the potential to diversify Saudi’s geo-political and geo-economic portfolio through new Eurasian and East Asian partnerships (Russia and China, in particular), MBS seems to have found his cause. As the leader of the “Vision 2030” plan which seeks to create a modern Saudi economy that is less than totally dependant on energy exports, MBS has struggled to find a place for Saudi in world that doesn’t begin at the oil pump and end in a car’s fuel tank. However, with increasingly few options from Saudis’ traditional western partners in respect of economic diversification, MBS is turning east.

Indeed, many have said openly, that the US would like to see, or might even try and foment a palace coup in Saudi, where the young and seemingly pugnacious MBS would be replaced by his former predecessor as Crown Prince, the currently house-arrested Muhammad bin Nayef (MBN).

Unlike MBS, MBN has little ambition to do anything other than continue the status quo of being dependant on energy based financial transactions with the US and European countries. MBS however, is clearly considering a future for Saudi where Russia and China will have a large role as economic partners.

Perhaps because of his youth, MBS has been able to see (or his advisers have been able to see) that as China asserts itself as the world’s most powerful and dynamic economy, the petro-trade will likely shift from one based on the petrodollar to the petroyuan.

While China, like Russia, does not particularly care about Saudi’s internal affairs, the message from Saudi is clear: a change is in the air and this will be most immediately felt in a foreign policy that is more pragmatic, less ambitions and consequently less “extreme”.

While the US does not care about Saudi’s internal socio-political situation any more than China and Russia, the US generally fears change in Riyadh, especially if this changes makes Saudi less inter-dependant on the US financial system. In this respect, Saudi’s sociological insularity has gone hand in hand with a predictable, however radical foreign policy.

The Saudi Monarch’s meeting with Vladimir Putin was very much casually related to the statement made by MBS, however, it has nothing to do with making Saudi into a Ba’athist or Nasserist style state on the model of traditional Russian and Soviet allies. On the contrary, Saudi is still a Wahhabi state and always will be, even if some of the more hard-line pronunciations from Wahhabi clerics are moderated by a slightly less insular political outlook.  The shift instead, has everything to do with keeping ideology local, but economic opportunities diverse and global”.

Saudi Crown Price Mohammad bin Salman calls for “moderate Islam” in the Wahhabi Kingdom

Part of MBS’ plan for a ‘revived’ Saudi state is his “Vision 2030” programme, a broad if not vague set of plans which aims to make Saudi less dependant on the energy market as the basis of the country’s economy by 2030. Clearly, he will need help to accomplish this and he seems all too aware that such help will not come from the US which has vested interests in the status quo. Instead, such investment will come from China and Russia, who are already quietly preparing to ween the Wahhabi kingdom off the Petrodollar and toilet train it on the Petroyuan.

Into this fray, shortly after announcing a “return” to moderate Islam away from the most radical elements of Wahhabism, MBS announced plans to create a super-city under the project name NEOM, to be located on the Gulf of Aqaba near the Jordanian border.

I personally have my doubts as to the practicability of such a city which is supposed to be 30 times the size of New York. However, if the project was downsized, I cannot see why it would not accomplish at least some of the stated goals.

In order to more easily accomplish the realisation of NEOM, geo-political expert Andrew Korybko states that Saudi will only hasten its all but inevitable drive towards recognising the Israeli regime as a state.

He writes,

“The Gulf of Aqaba was chosen not just because it would allow NEOM to spread into Egypt and Jordan, but also because of its proximity to Israel, which is promoting its “Red-Med” railway proposal as the perfect Mideast complementary component of the New Silk Road. Tel Aviv keenly knows that the Chinese are always looking for backup plans and transport route diversification in order to not be too dependent on any single connectivity corridor, and in this case, overland rail transit from the Gulf of Aqaba to the Eastern Mediterranean via Israel comes off as exceedingly attractive to Beijing’s strategists. Furthermore, China has fantastic relations with both Saudi Arabia and Israel, so from Beijing’s perspective, this is the perfect Mideast “win-win”, especially if the People’s Republic can find a way to insinuate that its possible financing of both the NEOM and “Red-Med” projects contributed to bringing peace to the Mideast.

In addition, there’s also the Russian factor to take into consideration, and it’s objectively known – though commonly denied in the Alt-Media Community – that Moscow and Tel Aviv are on excellent terms with one another and basically cooperate as allies in Syria. When accounting for the fast-moving Russian-Saudi rapprochement and Moscow’s envisioned 21st-century grand strategic role in becoming the supreme balancing force in Eurasia, it’s likely that Russia would be in favor of any Saudi recognition of Israel and Tel Aviv’s integration into the NEOM project because it would then allow the Russian business elite both in the Russian Federation and Israel to invest in this exciting city-state and the complementary “Red-Med” Silk Road corridor.

Seeing as how Mohammed Bin Salman is trying to purge the clerics’ political influence from the Kingdom, it’s very possible that Saudi Arabia will end up recognizing Israel in the near future and blaming its decades-long delay in doing so on the Wahhabis. The grand intent behind this isn’t just to formalize the Saudi-Israeli anti-Iranian partnership or to show the world just how serious the Crown Prince is in changing the course of his country, but to please Riyadh’s newfound Multipolar Great Power partners in Moscow and Beijing, both of which enjoy exceptional relations with Tel Aviv but would probably be reluctant to invest in the Kingdom’s NEOM city-state project so long as its connectivity access remained dependent on the Suez Canal chokepoint”.

The necessary regional integration surrounding NEOM that Korybko refers to, sounds a lot like the kind of free trade/freedom of movement zones which tend to grow out either from areas surrounding free cities/free ports or more elaborate trading unions such as the Eurasian Economic Union or European Union.

All of the sudden, the conventional wisdom of airtight borders surrounding the states of the Red Sea/East Med region is thrown into question. Such a loosening of borders and enhanced cooperation between incredibly different regimes, could not only go a ways towards de-escalating conflicts, but interestingly, could divided the conflicts of the Arab world in half, thus isolating the two zones, including the conflicts therein, from one another. The region where Saudi meets the Levant is surprisingly cut off from the so-called Shi’a crescent of Iran, Iraq, Syria and southern Lebanon. In this sense, one sees a middle east that is divided between both north and south with Russia and China acting as powers who uniquely share interests and good relations on all sides. In terms of the US, most of its allies fall in the southern zone, although these countries are all slowly but surely pivoting towards a far more Russia/China friendly geo-strategic stance.

In this sense, one sees a north Arab region into which one can include non-Arab Iran and also possibly Turkey which is offset by an Arab south region which includes Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Palestine and non-Arab inhabitants of Israel.

Palestine’s friends are clearly all in the northern segment of this ‘new Middle East’ but Palestine’s occupier only has the prospect of practical friendship in the southern segment. In the case of Jordan and Egypt, Tel Aviv has already achieved this.

This poses both a danger and an opportunity for Palestine. On the one hand, if Tel Aviv concentrates on both co-opting and being co-opted by states like Saudi, Egypt and Jordan who in recent decades have shown little enthusiasm for the Palestinian cause, there is a danger that Palestinian land could become a tragic ghetto of isolation in an otherwise booming region. However, on the other hand, the idea of prosperity trickling horizontally across a newly booming economic region could actually take the wind out of the sails of the Israel-Palestine conflict, something which in the long term bodes well for Palestine reclaiming its full statehood. This is the case because if the Tel Aviv regime becomes fully immersed in a mostly Arab led regional prosperity initiative, having to contend with rightfully angry Palestinians could only exorcise all parties. Furthermore, Palestinian grievances in a would-be south-Arab ghetto could further incur the wrath of Palestine’s meaningful allies including Lebanon (aka Hezbollah), Syria, non-Arab Iran and in the future, quote possibly a revitalised and almost certainly pro-Palestine Iraq. Wanting to keep such countries away from Saudi’s ‘south Arab’ project would be in the interests (however selfish) of Saudi, Jordan, Egypt and the regime in Tel Aviv.

And here is where a peaceful one-state solution could come into play. Rather than divide a portion of an increasingly inter-dependent south-Arab region (aka the two-state solution), leaving open the possibility of Syria, Hezbollah, Iraq and non-Arab Iran playing a part in this new region via the Palestinian back door, it might instead be easier to create a single state along the pre-1947 Palestinian borders that could be described as Palestine with cosmopolitan characterises or perhaps Israel with Arab characteristics, depending on the demographics and political will of various countries in ten years or more from today.

Just as Lebanon is a cosmopolitan country that is increasingly tied in with the north-Arab region, so too could this new Palestine be a kind of cosmopolitan bridge to the south, a place which like Lebanon has a shared history that at times has been peaceful and at others has been horrific. Tragically, Israeli meddling is by far the greatest author of mystery in both Palestine and Lebanon.

Ultimately, unless something radically changes in Egypt, Jordan or Saudi, the kind of good will that countries like Syria has for Palestine will never be present in the new ‘south Arab’ bloc. However, pragmatism which would come about in the ‘new Arab south’ to spite countries like Syria and groups like Hezbollah, could indeed force a pragmatic one-state solution based on the peace that is implicit in the need to pacific a region in order to make it ‘prosperity friendly’. In this sense, Palestine could breath a much needed breath after decades of asphyxiation, while Palestine friends in the ‘new Arab north’ would have something of a last laugh as they have got a decades long running start in developing key relations with China and Russia.

This situation is both far from assured and also far from ideal in many ways. It is however, a possible solution which still represents some improvement on the hopeless status quo.

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Understanding the Holodomor and why Russia says nothing

A descendant of Holodomor victims takes the rest of us to school as to whether or not Russia needs to shoulder the blame.

Seraphim Hanisch

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One of the charges that nationalist Ukrainians often lodge against their Russian neighbors is that the Russian government has never acknowledged or formally apologized to Ukraine for the “Holodomor” that took place in Ukraine in 1932-1933. This was a man-made famine that killed an estimated seven to 10 million Ukrainians , though higher estimates claim 12.5 million and lower ones now claim 3.3 million.

No matter what the total was, it amounts to a lot of people that starved to death. The charge that modern-day Russia ought to apologize for this event is usually met with silence, which further enrages those Ukrainians that believe that this issue must be resolved by the Russian acknowledgement of responsibility for it. Indeed, the prime charge of these Ukrainians is that the Russians committed a genocide against the Ukrainian people. This is a claim Russia denies.

To the outside observer who does not know this history of Russia and Ukraine’s relationship, and who does not know or understand the characteristics of the Soviet Union, this charge seems as simple and laid out as that of the Native Americans or the blacks demanding some sort of recompense or restitution for the damages inflicted on these societies through conquest and / or slavery. But we discovered someone who had family connections involved in the Holodomor, and who offers her own perspective, which is instructive in why perhaps the Russian Federation does not say anything about this situation.

Scene in Kharkiv with dead from the famine 1932-33 lying along the street.

The speaker is Anna Vinogradova, a Russian Israeli-American, who answered the question through Quora of “Why doesn’t Russia recognize the Holodomor as a genocide?” She openly admits that she speaks only for herself, but her answer is still instructive. We offer it here, with some corrections for the sake of smooth and understandable English:

I can’t speak for Russia and what it does and doesn’t recognize. I can speak for myself.

I am a great-granddaughter of a “Kulak” (кулак), or well-to-do peasant, who lived close to the Russia/Ukraine border.

The word “кулак” means “fist” in Russian, and it wasn’t a good thing for a person to be called by this label. A кулак was an exploiter of peasants and a class enemy of the new state of workers and poor peasants. In other words, while under Communism, to be called a кулак was to bring a death sentence upon yourself.

At some point, every rural class enemy, every peasant who wasn’t a member of a collective farm was eliminated one way or another.

Because Ukraine has very fertile land and the Ukrainian style of agriculture often favors individual farms as opposed to villages, there is no question that many, many Ukrainian peasants were considered class enemies like my great grandfather, and eliminated in class warfare.

I have no doubt that class warfare included starvation, among other things.

The catch? My great grandfather was an ethnic Russian living in Russia. What nationality were the communists who persecuted and eventually shot him? They were of every nationality there was (in the Soviet Union), and they were led by a Ukrainian, who was taking orders from a Georgian.

Now, tell me, why I, a descendant of an unjustly killed Russian peasant, need to apologize to the descendants of the Ukrainians who killed him on the orders of a Georgian?

What about the Russian, Kazakh golodomor (Russian rendering of the same famine)? What about the butchers, who came from all ethnicities? Can someone explain why it’s only okay to talk about Ukrainian victims and Russian persecutors? Why do we need to rewrite history decades later to convert that brutal class war into an ethnic war that it wasn’t?

Ethnic warfare did not start in Russia until after WWII, when some ethnicities were accused of collaboration with the Nazis and brutal group punishments were implemented. It was all based on class up to that time.

The communists of those years were fanatically internationalist. “Working people of all countries, unite!” was their slogan and they were fanatical about it.

As for the crimes of Communism, Russia has been healing this wound for decades, and Russia’s government has made its anticommunist position very clear.

This testimony is most instructive. First, it points out information that the charge of the Holodomor as “genocide!” neatly leaves out. In identifying the internationalist aspects of the Soviet Union, Ukraine further was not a country identified as somehow worthy of genocidal actions. Such a thought makes no sense, especially given the great importance of Ukraine as the “breadbasket” of the Soviet Union, which it was.

Secondly, it shows a very western-style of “divide to conquer” with a conveniently incendiary single-word propaganda tool that is no doubt able to excite any Ukrainian who may be neutral to slightly disaffected about Russia, and then after that, all Ukrainians are now victims of the mighty evil overlords in Moscow.

How convenient is this when the evil overlords in Kyiv don’t want their citizens to know what they are doing?

We saw this on Saturday – taken to a very high peak when President Petro Poroshenko announced the new leading “Hierarch” of the “Ukrainian National Church” and said not one single word about Christ, but only:

“This day will go down in history as the day of the creation of an autocephalous Orthodox church in Ukraine… This is the day of the creation of the church as an independent structure… What is this church? It is a church without Putin. It is a church without Kirill, without prayer for the Russian authorities and the Russian army.”

But as long as Russia is made the “problem”, millions of scandalized Ukrainians will not care what this new Church actually does or teaches, which means it is likely to teach just about anything.

Russia had its own Holodomor. The history of the event shows that this was a result of several factors – imposed socialist economics on a deeply individualized form of agrarian capitalism (bad for morale and worse for food production), really inane centralized planning of cropland use, and a governmental structure that really did not exist to serve the governed, but to impose an ideology on people who really were not all that interested in it.

Personal blame might well lay with Stalin, a Georgian, but the biggest source of the famine lay in the structures imposed under communism as a way of economic strategy. This is not Russia’s fault. It is the economic model that failed.

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Mueller Finally Releases Heavily Redacted Key Flynn Memo On Eve Of Sentencing

Alex Christoforou

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Via Zerohedge


Having initially snubbed Judge Emmet Sullivan’s order to release the original 302 report from the Michael Flynn interrogation in January 2017, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finally produced the heavily redacted document, just hours before sentencing is due to be handed down.

The memo  – in full below – details then-national security adviser Michael Flynn’s interview with FBI agents Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka, and shows Flynn was repeatedly asked about his contacts with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and in each instance, Flynn denied (or did not recall) any such conversations.

The agents had transcripts of Flynn’s phone calls to Russian Ambassador Kislyak, thus showing Flynn to be lying.

Flynn pleaded guilty guilty last December to lying to the FBI agents about those conversations with Kislyak.

The redactions in the document seem oddly placed but otherwise, there is nothing remarkable about the content…

Aside from perhaps Flynn’s incredulity at the media attention…

Flynn is set to be sentenced in that federal court on Tuesday.

Of course, as Christina Laila notes, the real crime is that Flynn was unmasked during his phone calls to Kislyak and his calls were illegally leaked by a senior Obama official to the Washington Post.

*  *  *

Full document below…

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Don’t Laugh : It’s Giving Putin What He Wants

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself.

Caitlin Johnstone

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Authored by Caitlin Johnstone:


The BBC has published an article titled “How Putin’s Russia turned humour into a weapon” about the Kremlin’s latest addition to its horrifying deadly hybrid warfare arsenal: comedy.

The article is authored by Olga Robinson, whom the BBC, unhindered by any trace of self-awareness, has titled “Senior Journalist (Disinformation)”. Robinson demonstrates the qualifications and acumen which earned her that title by warning the BBC’s audience that the Kremlin has been using humor to dismiss and ridicule accusations that have been leveled against it by western governments, a “form of trolling” that she reports is designed to “deliberately lower the level of discussion”.

“Russia’s move towards using humour to influence its campaigns is a relatively recent phenomenon,” Robinson explains, without speculating as to why Russians might have suddenly begun laughing at their western accusers. She gives no consideration to the possibility that the tightly knit alliance of western nations who suddenly began hysterically shrieking about Russia two years ago have simply gotten much more ridiculous and easier to make fun of during that time.

Couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the emergence of a demented media environment wherein everything around the world from French protests to American culture wars to British discontent with the European Union gets blamed on Russia without any facts or evidence. Wherein BBC reporters now correct guests and caution them against voicing skepticism of anti-Russia narratives because the UK is in “an information war” with that nation. Wherein the same cable news Russiagate pundit can claim that both Rex Tillerson’s hiring and his later firing were the result of a Russian conspiracy to benefit the Kremlin. Wherein mainstream outlets can circulate blatantly false information about Julian Assange and unnamed “Russians” and then blame the falseness of that reporting on Russian disinformation. Wherein Pokemon Go, cutesy Facebook memes and $4,700 in Google ads are sincerely cited as methods by which Hillary Clinton’s $1.2 billion presidential campaign was outdone. Wherein conspiracy theories that Putin has infiltrated the highest levels of the US government have been blaring on mainstream headline news for two years with absolutely nothing to show for it to this day.

Nope, the only possibility is that the Kremlin suddenly figured out that humor is a thing.

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself. The hypocrisy is so cartoonish, the emotions are so breathlessly over-the-top, the stories so riddled with plot holes and the agendas underlying them so glaringly obvious that they translate very easily into laughs. I myself recently authored a satire piece that a lot of people loved and which got picked up by numerous alternative media outlets, and all I did was write down all the various escalations this administration has made against Russia as though they were commands being given to Trump by Putin. It was extremely easy to write, and it was pretty damn funny if I do say so myself. And it didn’t take any Kremlin rubles or dezinformatsiya from St Petersburg to figure out how to write it.

“Ben Nimmo, an Atlantic Council researcher on Russian disinformation, told the BBC that attempts to create funny memes were part of the strategy as ‘disinformation for the information age’,” the article warns. Nimmo, ironically, is himself intimately involved with the British domestic disinformation firm Integrity Initiative, whose shady government-sponsored psyops against the Labour Party have sparked a national scandal that is likely far from reaching peak intensity.

“Most comedy programmes on Russian state television these days are anodyne affairs which either do not touch on political topics, or direct humour at the Kremlin’s perceived enemies abroad,” Robinson writes, which I found funny since I’d just recently read an excellent essay by Michael Tracey titled “Why has late night swapped laughs for lusting after Mueller?”

“If the late night ‘comedy’ of the Trump era has something resembling a ‘message,’ it’s that large segments of the nation’s liberal TV viewership are nervously tracking every Russia development with a passion that cannot be conducive to mental health – or for that matter, political efficacy,” Tracey writes, documenting numerous examples of the ways late night comedy now has audiences cheering for a US intelligence insider and Bush appointee instead of challenging power-serving media orthodoxies as programs like The Daily Show once did.

If you wanted the opposite of “anodyne affairs”, it would be comedians ridiculing the way all the establishment talking heads are manipulating their audiences into supporting the US intelligence community and FBI insiders. It would be excoriating the media environment in which unfathomably powerful world-dominating government agencies are subject to less scrutiny and criticism than a man trapped in an embassy who published inconvenient facts about those agencies. It certainly wouldn’t be the cast of Saturday Night Live singing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” to a framed portrait if Robert Mueller wearing a Santa hat. It doesn’t get much more anodyne than that.

Russia makes fun of western establishment narratives about it because those narratives are so incredibly easy to make fun of that they are essentially asking for it, and the nerdy way empire loyalists are suddenly crying victim about it is itself more comedy. When Guardian writer Carole Cadwalladr began insinuating that RT covering standard newsworthy people like Julian Assange and Nigel Farage was a conspiracy to “boost” those people for the advancement of Russian agendas instead of a news outlet doing the thing that news reporting is, RT rightly made fun of her for it. Cadwalladr reacted to RT’s mockery with a claim that she was a victim of “attacks”, instead of the recipient of perfectly justified ridicule for circulating an intensely moronic conspiracy theory.

Ah well. People are nuts and we’re hurtling toward a direct confrontation with a nuclear superpower. Sometimes there’s nothing else to do but laugh. As Wavy Gravy said, “Keep your sense of humor, my friend; if you don’t have a sense of humor it just isn’t funny anymore.”

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