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VENEZUELA: Open letter to President Nicolas Maduro

Dear Mr. President Maduro, You have the overwhelming support of the peoples of the world.

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On 25 August President Trump signed an executive order slapping Venezuela with the most sweeping economic sanctions ever. They practically paralyze Venezuela, threaten to plunge her into famine. It’s an economic coup of the worst kind. It’s outright financial warfare. For all those western nations for which such unilateral actions by the Zionist-led Washington regime has become the new normal – it is one of the highest criminal assaults a nation can impose on another nation.

To be sure, this is an act of highest treason of international law. It is a war crime, as it endangers and threatens the lives of the Venezuelan people. Furthermore, Donald Trump, has the impunity to threaten Venezuela with an overt US military invasion. ‘Overt’ – because military and secret services, i.e. CIA personnel and their proxies, trained, funded and armed, are already for years fomenting unrest and death in the streets of Caracas and elsewhere in the country.

Justifying the measures, the White House said, “[they] are carefully calibrated to deny the Maduro dictatorship a critical source of financing to maintain its illegitimate rule.” The subsequent statement by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin explains literally that these sanctions are aiming at ‘choking’ Venezuela into submission; however, that “exceptions will be made for a 30-day phase-in period and for certain transactions between the US and Venezuela, including petroleum exports and imports involving Citgo, PDVSA’s American unit, as well as financing for humanitarian efforts.”

How ‘human’ can Mr. Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs partner – still be called? How human is the entire Trump military entourage? How much humanity do such people have left? Three generals are calling the shots on Trump’s presidency. How more proof is needed for the world to see that Washington is run by the Pentagon – is a pure military-police state, with the populace stripped of 95% of their civil and human rights – by ever enhanced successive versions of the Patriot Act and related legislation? Humanity at its worst.

The venom and evil of our western society never stops to amaze me. How did we get here? The beginning may date back some 5000 years. But that’s a different story. We are living now, and have to eradicate this egocentric, blood-thirsty pathological greed society, greed economy, NOW – meaning now to spare as many lives as possible.

Trump’s stated reason for slamming Venezuela with sanctions – of course a lie, like everything coming out of Washington – is the recent popular vote for a National Constituent Assembly – ANC – Asamblea Nacional Constituyente (http://www.globalresearch.ca/venezuela-the-national-constituent-assembly-is-in-place-but-the-fight-for-sovereignty-isnt-over/5602402 ). It’s the utmost form of democracy – a National Assembly voted by the people. The opposition which vigorously boycotted the July 30, 2017 vote, are now complaining of having no seats on the ANC. Of course not. They presented no candidates.

According to both Jimmy Carter, former US President and head of the Carter Institute on monitoring international elections, as well as Noam Chomsky, MIT Professor of Linguistics and reputed scholar of geopolitics, Venezuela has the most thorough democracy in the Americas and arguably in the world. Obviously, this does not please the world’s Dictator – cum – Assassin-in-chief, the United States of America.

The largest tyrant in the world calls for atrocious ‘suffocating’ killer sanctions on a sovereign, oil- and gas rich nation in “Washington’s backyard”, under the pretext that it has gone from democracy to dictatorship which the tyranny of the north cannot tolerate, but in a gesture of generosity it grants Venezuela temporary ‘humanitarian’ relieve. What a sham!

The Trump administration, or any of his predecessors, couldn’t give a hoot about democracy and human rights in any of the countries they want to dominate. Quite to the contrary, what they want is installing chaos to be able to exploit the country’s natural resources; and that is what they consistently do. In the case of Venezuela – the world’s richest nation in hydrocarbon reserves – the objective is to retake the riches and put them back to where they were before President Chavez took over in 1998, namely under firm control of US petrol giants.

Venezuela will never tolerate this.

Curiously, it looks like Trump has been dictated to adopt a new doctrine of ‘the loots of war’. His recent declaration of increasing troops in Afghanistan – without time limit – clearly has to do with the mineral riches of that central Asian country, copper, cobalt, iron, barite, sulfur, lithium, lead, silver, zinc, niobium, and an estimated 1.4 million metric tons of rare-earth elements (REEs). The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) estimates the total resources in the Afghan grounds in excess of US$ 1 trillion. Never mind that the US has already spent between US$ 1 and 2 trillion in the 16 years of illegal war in Afghanistan, resulting in massive killings, in tens of thousands of deaths.

In the case of North Korea, it’s iron ore, the US wants, plus, of course, strategic access to China and Russia. In Syria, it’s the infamous Qatari pipeline that would allow western petro-giants shipping trillions worth of oil and gas to Europe to the detriment of Russian’s European gas contracts. Bashar al Assad has refused the pipeline ever since the CIA approached him in 2008, and so did
his father already in the early 2000s. This refusal sealed Syria’s fate. In Venezuela, the intended theft is, of course, oil and gas.

It is of little importance that Trump is contradicting himself royally. His adamant and firm pre-election promises – no longer interference in far-away countries, no longer creating ‘democracies’ US style; in the future, the US will respect other countries’ lifestyle. “We will no longer use our force in foreign lands – these days are now over”.

Wonderful. Maybe he meant it. Like perhaps he really meant making peace with Russia. This is most likely the reason why he was elected. But, would Trump be so naïve, not to know that the military industrial complex wants – no, NEEDS war? This diabolical lot wants natural resources for eternal wars.

The vast majority of people want peace not war. They want to respect Venezuela’s sovereign democracy – not interfere with it. It’s their fascist puppet leaders (sic-sic) and those who make up the Latin American regional organizations that feel obliged to submit to the demands of the naked emperor.

The extractive industry, hydrocarbons, minerals has skyrocketed exponentially since the ascent of neoliberalism in the eighties like never before in modern history. The reasons are wars and conflicts. It is estimated that today almost two thirds of the plunders of worldwide extractive industries – an unspeakable calamity to human health, local communities and the environment – goes to the international military industrial complex, with the forerunner, the US of A.

———–

The new sanctions on Venezuela have become “common staple”, for all those vassals around the western globe, who for some obscure reason – for fear or for earning kudos? – bend over backwards to lick President Trump’s boots. Donald Trump, the megalo-psychopath, is a mere caricature of the American electorate. Trump’s opinion and policies dance in the wind as only an immature master can muster. Hence, the world is kept confused and on her toes, never quite sure when another bomb shell will be dropped.

Dear Mr. Maduro, this act of war can only be committed by the United States of America, because it commands our western dollar-based totally fraudulent, privately run, debt and usury based, monetary system – for profit of the FED and Wall Street banksters. Period. The western world is still enslaved to it – though on a steadily declining scale, but still not free. The east, Russia, China and the entire Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is rapidly detaching themselves from the dollar hegemony.

Venezuela – in my humble opinion – has to do likewise, as soon as possible. There is no time to ponder: detach from the dollar, with whatever implications of asset and monetary loss this may have; and it will, but it will whether you do or whether you don’t. The rabid dog of Washington never lets loose, it bites to the end, and it will never release confiscated assets. Proof is time and again all through the world, just look at Iran.

Venezuela may want to cut her losses and starting from scratch, linking closely with the economies of Russia and China, as she is already doing – but may need to move on a more rigorous and radical basis. No more deals in dollars. Stop all dollar / bolívar manipulations from Miami. The dollar has to become a banned currency for the public in Venezuela, strictly enforced by law, only to be used by government authorities. This is still the casein in Cuba, and Cuba has survived 60 years – and counting. No euros either. The euro is in the same league with the dollar. It has been created as the foster child of the dollar – fiat currency, no backing whatsoever.

New transactions are to take place only in local currencies and / or the currencies of Russia and China – through respective Central Bank swaps – and international payment systems, outside of the privately-run FED, Wall Street, BIS (Bank for International Settlement) and SWIFT, for example through the Chinese International Payment System (CIPS). Russia is about to launch a similar scheme, detached from the western-dominated financial transaction modes, like SWIFT. Once the new Russian international transfer system is in place, together with the Chinese CIPS, the western monopoly on international payments – and sanctions – will be completely upset. International trade will be reset to function outside the dollar hegemony. Russia’s, as well as China’s economies are fully backed by gold.
——–

Under these massive and sweeping financial sanctions, imposed on Venezuela thanks to the western monetary system, Venezuela is basically barred from any international financial transactions. There is a total banking blockade directed against the Venezuelan national oil and gas company, PDVSA- Petróleos de Venezuela SA, making direct hydrocarbon transactions impossible.

It is a stranglehold on Venezuelan’s economy – a recipe for starving a country and its population into submission, weakening it to be taken over – for plundering its resources. Venezuela will NEVER allow this to happen. Citgo, PDVSA’s US subsidiary, can no longer send back dividends to Venezuela – another blow to Venezuela’s foreign exchange earnings. There is a tacit threat, Citgo’s profits in the US may be confiscated – what else than highest treason of international law is this?

Venezuela has never done any harm to another nation. To the contrary, Venezuela has stood by other countries, helping them out with low cost credits and loans, with hydrocarbon at favorable prices, when the ‘market’ was abusive with artificially driven high prices, i.e. US$ 120 / barrel and higher, with the purpose to bleed developing countries into submission. Today, crude has dropped to US$ 47 / barrel, less than half of what it was 2 years ago. The same speculators are behind this drastic drop, another willful, ill-intended manipulation. Yes, by the Saudi vassals, but even more so by Wall Street and its chief executive mobster – Goldman Sachs, to hurt especially Venezuela, Iran and Russia.

This, Mr. Maduro, is an Economic Coup. It is outright financial warfare. It is criminal, illegal and punishable according to war crimes, if there was any international court in the world not yet ‘prostituted’ by the United States and its Deep Dark Zionist handlers. Blocking bank transactions with Venezuela / debt and equity swaps with creditors / debtors is a crime. Blocking Venezuela national oil company from selling hydrocarbon abroad is a crime.

Russia’s Rosneft bought a US$ 6 billion stake in in the Venezuelan PDVSA and acquired 49.9% collateral share in its US-based CITCO. This corresponds to about a 13% of Venezuela’s total production, almost the entire contingent is resold mainly in Latin America by Russia to Venezuela’s customers, despite US ‘sanctions’.

Venezuela might want to consider negotiating concession agreements or outright sales of larger portions of PDVSA to Rosneft and other Russian and Chinese petrol giants, to be repurchased once the crisis is over. Sweden has made such arrangements, nationalizing the banking sector to overcome their banking crisis in the 1990s; an elegant alternative to bailouts. It worked. Banks were later re-privatized. Russia might sell Venezuelan petrol throughout the world, with focus on honoring contracts with Venezuelan customers. No sanctions to be expected from the White House. Who could be sanctioned if transactions took place outside of the dollar economy?

Notwithstanding Trump’s threat of a direct military intervention in Venezuela, there is also a strong possibility of a US naval blockade of Venezuela’s ports. However, today, the US is no longer the sole master of the universe. Russia and China may be invited to form a counter-blockade and even to bring troops into Venezuela.

Russia’s intervention in Syria, at the behest of President Bashar Al-Assad has worked wonders; in fact, it has liberated Syria from the siege of NATO, the US, France, UK, Germany. All criminal nations, dancing to the tune of the dying emperor. Russia’s recent air force parade over the Pacific Ocean, the Sea of Japan, the Yellow Sea and the East China Sea, with nuclear-capable Tupolev-95MS bombers in the midst of the massive and provocative US-Japan-South Korea military exercises off the coast of the Korean Peninsula, has prompted Japan and South Korea to scramble jets to escort Russia’s Tupolevs. The Russian demonstration has had an impressive impact of respect. – Why would it not be a deterrent for a US navy blockade? Or to forego Trump’s threat of direct military intervention?

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research, ICH, RT, Sputnik, PressTV, The 4th Media (China), TeleSUR, The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.

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Franz Kafka
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Franz Kafka

Good letter Peter. It is shocking that the insane threats and dictums from the Anglo-Zionist, Talmudo-Satanist rogue state do not result in howls of censure from the media and calls for lynching by We the Pimple. More and more I want to promote a new global response to the USA and its tail, Israel – Quarantine. They deserve much worse but their two ocean-sized moats preclude any possibility of just revenge by the millions they have wronged and their surviving relatives. Quarantine will bring that about by other means.

Gonzogal
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Gonzogal

comment image

christianblood
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christianblood

(…Russia’s intervention in Syria, at the behest of President Bashar
Al-Assad has worked wonders; in fact, it has liberated Syria from the
siege of NATO, the US, France, UK, Germany. All criminal nations…)

Nato and U$ organizations are Satanic criminal entities in league with the Devilish ISIS and they must defeated everywhere. Nato is Hollywoodized Evil which is corrupting the world!
They must be defeated!

Gary Wells
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Gary Wells

There were good ideas in this letter. I truly hope that Venezuela is able to maintain its independence and sovereignty. Perhaps, Venezuela could conduct a defensive military exercise and invite Russian/Chinese participation. Might seem a provocative, but any move they make except capitulation will be considered provocative. The US is one ugly beast.

Suzanne Giraud
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Suzanne Giraud

Love this recipe to bits. Thank you, Peter Koenig.

IF there were any other government heads with an ounce of self-respect and love of their country and fellowmen, they could take his same recipe for breaking free of the fiat dollar ‘hegemony’, Yes?

DarkEyes
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DarkEyes

Russian Federation with President Putin maybe?

Vera Gottlieb
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Vera Gottlieb

I wish his articles would be shorter…too long.

Great Expectations
Guest
Great Expectations

Good letter. Am I right in thinking that I couldn’t find the name Rothschild anywhere, from start to finish? Because, without it, it’s not really giving the full picture.

Until enough people in the world have heard of and know the history and motives of the Rothschild funded Anglo American empire, nothing will change.

Tommy Jensen
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Tommy Jensen

Here you have it:
comment image

Omar
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Omar

Are you guys serious? First, a delusional letter that feeds on the absurd romanticism of the “Bolivarian Revolution”…and then a bunch of people in the comment section acclaiming it. This is disgusting. There is one thing all of you have in common: NONE of you seem to be Venezuelan. How many of you have seen your friends or family browsing piles of garbage looking for food?? Do you really think that Trump and the US are the one to blame after almost 20 years of chavista regime? Really? You guys will never know the fear of being pointed with a… Read more »

Bolivar
Guest
Bolivar

Long live Chavez, Maduro, & the Bolivariana Revolution…Omar is obviously a paid troll..

Tommy Jensen
Guest
Tommy Jensen

You have a point. The socialism is not always the emotional dream written. The question is whether the conditions will be better under US overrule and as American lapdog.

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The ‘Gilets Jaunes’ Are Unstoppable: “Now, The Elites Are Afraid”

Now the elites are afraid. For the first time, there is a movement which cannot be controlled through the normal political mechanisms.

The Duran

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Authored by Christophe Guilluy via Spiked-Online.com:


The gilets jaunes (yellow vest) movement has rattled the French establishment. For several months, crowds ranging from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands have been taking to the streets every weekend across the whole of France. They have had enormous success, extracting major concessions from the government. They continue to march.

Back in 2014, geographer Christopher Guilluy’s study of la France périphérique (peripheral France) caused a media sensation. It drew attention to the economic, cultural and political exclusion of the working classes, most of whom now live outside the major cities. It highlighted the conditions that would later give rise to the yellow-vest phenomenon. Guilluy has developed on these themes in his recent books, No Society and The Twilight of the Elite: Prosperity, the Periphery and the Future of Francespiked caught up with Guilluy to get his view on the causes and consequences of the yellow-vest movement.

spiked: What exactly do you mean by ‘peripheral France’?

Christophe Guilluy: ‘Peripheral France’ is about the geographic distribution of the working classes across France. Fifteen years ago, I noticed that the majority of working-class people actually live very far away from the major globalised cities – far from Paris, Lyon and Toulouse, and also very far from London and New York.

Technically, our globalised economic model performs well. It produces a lot of wealth. But it doesn’t need the majority of the population to function. It has no real need for the manual workers, labourers and even small-business owners outside of the big cities. Paris creates enough wealth for the whole of France, and London does the same in Britain. But you cannot build a society around this. The gilets jaunes is a revolt of the working classes who live in these places.

They tend to be people in work, but who don’t earn very much, between 1000€ and 2000€ per month. Some of them are very poor if they are unemployed. Others were once middle-class. What they all have in common is that they live in areas where there is hardly any work left. They know that even if they have a job today, they could lose it tomorrow and they won’t find anything else.

spiked: What is the role of culture in the yellow-vest movement?

Guilluy: Not only does peripheral France fare badly in the modern economy, it is also culturally misunderstood by the elite. The yellow-vest movement is a truly 21st-century movement in that it is cultural as well as political. Cultural validation is extremely important in our era.

One illustration of this cultural divide is that most modern, progressive social movements and protests are quickly endorsed by celebrities, actors, the media and the intellectuals. But none of them approve of the gilets jaunes. Their emergence has caused a kind of psychological shock to the cultural establishment. It is exactly the same shock that the British elites experienced with the Brexit vote and that they are still experiencing now, three years later.

The Brexit vote had a lot to do with culture, too, I think. It was more than just the question of leaving the EU. Many voters wanted to remind the political class that they exist. That’s what French people are using the gilets jaunes for – to say we exist. We are seeing the same phenomenon in populist revolts across the world.

spiked: How have the working-classes come to be excluded?

Guilluy: All the growth and dynamism is in the major cities, but people cannot just move there. The cities are inaccessible, particularly thanks to mounting housing costs. The big cities today are like medieval citadels. It is like we are going back to the city-states of the Middle Ages. Funnily enough, Paris is going to start charging people for entry, just like the excise duties you used to have to pay to enter a town in the Middle Ages.

The cities themselves have become very unequal, too. The Parisian economy needs executives and qualified professionals. It also needs workers, predominantly immigrants, for the construction industry and catering et cetera. Business relies on this very specific demographic mix. The problem is that ‘the people’ outside of this still exist. In fact, ‘Peripheral France’ actually encompasses the majority of French people.

spiked: What role has the liberal metropolitan elite played in this?

Guilluy: We have a new bourgeoisie, but because they are very cool and progressive, it creates the impression that there is no class conflict anymore. It is really difficult to oppose the hipsters when they say they care about the poor and about minorities.

But actually, they are very much complicit in relegating the working classes to the sidelines. Not only do they benefit enormously from the globalised economy, but they have also produced a dominant cultural discourse which ostracises working-class people. Think of the ‘deplorables’ evoked by Hillary Clinton. There is a similar view of the working class in France and Britain. They are looked upon as if they are some kind of Amazonian tribe. The problem for the elites is that it is a very big tribe.

The middle-class reaction to the yellow vests has been telling. Immediately, the protesters were denounced as xenophobes, anti-Semites and homophobes. The elites present themselves as anti-fascist and anti-racist but this is merely a way of defending their class interests. It is the only argument they can muster to defend their status, but it is not working anymore.

Now the elites are afraid. For the first time, there is a movement which cannot be controlled through the normal political mechanisms. The gilets jaunes didn’t emerge from the trade unions or the political parties. It cannot be stopped. There is no ‘off’ button. Either the intelligentsia will be forced to properly acknowledge the existence of these people, or they will have to opt for a kind of soft totalitarianism.

A lot has been made of the fact that the yellow vests’ demands vary a great deal. But above all, it’s a demand for democracy. Fundamentally, they are democrats – they want to be taken seriously and they want to be integrated into the economic order.

spiked: How can we begin to address these demands?

Guilluy: First of all, the bourgeoisie needs a cultural revolution, particularly in universities and in the media. They need to stop insulting the working class, to stop thinking of all the gilets jaunes as imbeciles.

Cultural respect is fundamental: there will be no economic or political integration until there is cultural integration. Then, of course, we need to think differently about the economy. That means dispensing with neoliberal dogma. We need to think beyond Paris, London and New York.

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US Blunders Have Made Russia The Global Trade Pivot

Even if Europe is somehow taken out of the trade equation, greater synergy between the RIC (Russia, India and China) nations may be enough to pull their nations through anticipated global volatilities ahead

The Duran

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Authored by Mathew Maavak via ActivistPost.com:


The year 2019 had barely begun before news emerged that six Russian sailors were kidnapped by pirates off the coast of Benin. It was perhaps a foretaste of risks to come. As nations reel from deteriorating economic conditions, instances of piracy and other forms of supply chain disruptions are bound to increase.

According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), 107 cases of piracy were noted during the first half of 2018 vis-à-vis 87 throughout 2017.  The 2018 tally included 32 cases in Southeast Asian waters and 48 along African shores – representing 75% of the total. To put this figure into perspective, Asian behemoths India and China – despite their vast shorelines – recorded only 2 cases of piracy each during the study period. Russia had none. In terms of hostages taken, the IMB tally read 102 in H1 2018 vs 63 in H1 2017.

Piracy adds to shipping and retail costs worldwide as security, insurance and salaries are hiked to match associated risks in maritime transport. Merchant vessels will also take longer and costlier routes to avoid piracy hotspots.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report in 2016 sums up the perils ahead:

As over 90% of global trade is carried out by sea, the economic effects of maritime crime can be crippling. Maritime crime includes not only criminal activity directed at vessels or maritime structures, but also the use of the high seas to perpetrate transnational organized crimes such as smuggling of persons or illicit substances.  These forms of maritime crime can have devastating human consequences.

Indeed, cases of human trafficking, organ harvesting, and the smuggling of illicit substances and counterfeit goods are proliferating worldwide in tandem with rising systemic debt and suspect international agendas.

Australia offers a case in point. While it fantasizes over a Quad of allies in the Indo-Pacific – to “save Asians from China” – criminal elements from Hong Kong, Malaysia to squeaky-clean Singapore have been routinely trafficking drugs, tobacco and people right into Sydney harbour for years,  swelling the local organised crime economy to as much as $47.4 billion (Australian dollars presumably) between 2016 and 2017.

With criminal elements expected to thrive during a severe recession, they will likely enjoy a degree of prosecutorial shielding from state actors and local politicians. But this is not a Southeast Asian problem alone; any superpower wishing to disrupt Asia-Europe trade arteries – the main engine of global growth – will have targets of opportunity across oceans and lands.  The US-led war against Syria had not only cratered one potential trans-Eurasia energy and trade node, it served as a boon for child traffickingorgan harvesting and slavery as well. Yet, it is President Bashar al-Assad who is repeatedly labelled a “butcher” by the Anglo-American media.

Ultimately, industries in Asia and Europe will seek safer transit routes for their products. The inference here is inevitable: the greatest logistical undertaking in history – China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – will be highly dependent on Russian security umbrella, particularly in Central Asia. Russia also offers an alternative transit option via the Northern Sea Route, thereby avoiding any potential pan-Turkic ructions in Central Asia in the future.

Russo- and Sinophobia explained?

In retrospect, Washington’s reckless policies post-Sept 11 2001 seem aimed at disrupting growing synergies between Asia and Europe. This hypothesis helps explain the relentless US-led agitprops against Russia, China and Iran.

When the gilet jaunes (yellow vest) protests rocked France weeks ago, it was only a matter of time before some pundits blamed it on Russia. US President Donald J. Trump cheered on; just as “billionaire activist” George Soros celebrated the refugee invasion of Europe and the Arab Spring earlier.  If the yellow vest contagion spreads to the Western half of Europe, its economies will flounder. Cui bono? A Russia that can reap benefits from the two-way BRI or Arctic trade routes or a moribund United States that can no longer rule roost in an increasingly multipolar world?

Trump’s diplomatic downgrade of the European Union and his opposition to the Nord Stream 2gas pipeline matches this trade-disruption hypothesis, as do pressures applied on India and China to drop energy and trade ties with Iran.  Washington’s trade war with Beijing and recent charges against Huawei – arguably Asia’s most valuable company – seem to fit this grand strategy.

If China concedes to importing more US products, Europe will bear the consequences. Asians love European products ranging from German cars to Italian shoes and Europe remains the favourite vacation destination for its growing middle class. Eastern European products and institutions are also beginning to gain traction in Asia. However, these emerging economies will suffer if their leaders cave in to Washington’s bogeyman fetish.

Even if Europe is somehow taken out of the trade equation, greater synergy between the RIC (Russia, India and China) nations may be enough – at least theoretically – to pull their nations through anticipated global volatilities ahead.

In the meantime, as the US-led world crumbles, it looks like Russia is patiently biding its time to become the security guarantor and kingmaker of Asia-Europe trade.  A possible state of affairs wrought more by American inanity rather than Russian ingenuity…

Dr Mathew Maavak is a regular commentator on risk-related geostrategic issues.

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Historic Eastern Christianity: An Uncertain Future

The survival of historic Eastern Christianity, particularly in Syria, is critical for several reasons.

Strategic Culture Foundation

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Authored by Elias Samo via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


The survival of historic Eastern Christianity has never been as urgent as it is today. Christianity saw its beginning in Greater Syria which was subdivided by France and Britain after WWI into modern day Syria, Lebanon, Palestian/Israel and Jordan. The land that housed, nurtured and spread the teachings of Jesus Christ for over two millenniums, now threatens children of that faith. The survival of historic Eastern Christianity, particularly in Syria, is critical for several reasons:

  1. Greater Syria is the homeland of Jesus and Christianity. Abraham was from modern day Iraq, Moses from Egypt, and Muhammad from Mecca; Jesus was from Syria.
  1. Paul converted to Christianity and saw the light while walking through ‘The Street Called Straight’ in Damascus.
  1. Jesus’ followers were called Christians for the first time in Antioch, formerly part of Syria.
  1. One of the earliest churches, perhaps the earliest, is in Syria.

The potential demise of historic Eastern Christianity is reflected in the key question Christians ask: should we stay or emigrate? The urgent question – in the face of the ongoing regional turmoil – precipitated with the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 and escalated since the Arab uprisings in 2011. Historic Eastern Christians’ fears were further magnified when Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church and Archbishop Paul Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church, both of metropolitan Aleppo, were kidnapped on April, 22, 2013; with no traces of their whereabouts, dead or alive, since. For many years, I was deputy, friend, and advisor to the Archbishop Ibrahim, which provided me an opportunity to meet many Christians. I have, over time, noticed the change in their sentiment, with more considering emigration after the uprising and the kidnapping of the two Archbishops. Historic Eastern Christians survived the Ottoman Genocide in 1915 and thereafter; they multiplied and thrived in the Fertile Crescent despite some atrocities until the start of the misnamed “Arab Spring” in early 2011. Prior to the “Arab Spring”, historic Eastern Christians were victims of violence on several occasions. In the mid-1930s, the historic Assyrian community in Iraq suffered violent onslaughts and were driven to Syria. In the 1970s and 1980s, during the Lebanese Civil War, Christians were victims of sectarian violence. During the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, Christians were victims of widespread sectarian violence which led to mass migration. The “Arab Spring” began with great hope for the right of the people to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. However, it was swiftly hijacked by Islamists and Salafists and turned into an “Islamic Spring, an Arab Fall and a Christian Winter”; bringing along with it a new massacre of Christians. Presently, Eastern Christianity is at the mercy of clear and identifiable domestic, regional, and international, historic and contemporary conflicts in the Fertile Crescent, namely:

  1. Jihad vs. Ijtihad: A long standing conflict amongst Muslims between the sword vs. the pen.
  2. Sunni vs. Shiite: A conflict which began following the death of the Prophet Muhammad.
  3. Arabism vs. Islamism: The former has territorial limitations, the later has no territorial limitations.
  4. Syria vs. Israel: It is an essential component of the Palestinian problem, not the presumed Arab- Israeli conflict.
  5. West vs. East: A throwback to the Cold War, or its revival.
  6. Historic Persian, Ottoman and Arab Empires animosities: Each seeking regional hegemony.

One is reminded of the proverbial saying, “When the elephants fight, the grass suffers.” Certainly, Eastern Christianity is suffering and threatened with extinction.

Syria was a model of religious tolerance, common living and peaceful interaction amongst its religious, sectarian, cultural and ethnic components. Seven years of turmoil, in which various international and regional powers manipulated segments of Syrian society by supplying them with an abundance of weapons, money and sectarian ideologies, has heightened Eastern Christians’ fears. During the seven-year turmoil in Syria, the entire society has suffered; Sunnis, Shiites, Alawites, Yazidis, Kurds, Christians and others. Christians, being a weak and peaceful component of the society, have suffered immensely. Ma’aloula; a religious treasure for Christians globally, and the only city in the world where Aramaic – the language of Jesus Christ – is spoken, was attacked and besieged by ISIS. Numerous historic Churches were damaged, and many destroyed. Christians in Raqqa were forced by ISIS into one of three options: 1. Pay a penalty in pure gold – known as a ‘Jizya’ to keep their life and practice their faith – albeit in secret only; 2. Convert into Islam; or 3. Face immediate death. To top their pain, the kidnap of the two prominent Archbishops meant no Eastern Christian believer was safe.

Amidst all the doom and gloom, however, there remains hope. The survival of Christianity depends on the actions and reactions of three parties:

Eastern Christians: During the last hundred years, 1915-2015, since the Ottoman Genocide, Eastern Christians have been victims of a history of massacres, which meant that every Eastern Christian was a martyr, a potential martyr or a witness of martyrdom; if you fool me once, shame on you, if you fool me twice, shame on me. The ongoing regional turmoil has heightened their sense of insecurity. The answer to an age-old question Eastern Christians had on their mind: To flee Westwards or remain in their land, in the face of death, is increasingly becoming the former.

Eastern Muslims: There is a difference in perceptions between Eastern Christians and mainstream Muslims regarding the massacres committed against Christians. When certain violent groups or individuals kill Christians, while shouting a traditional Islamic profession: “No God but one God and Muhammad is God’s messenger”, it is reasonable for Christians to assume the killers are Muslims. However, for mainstream Muslims, the killers do not represent Islam; they are extremists, violating basic Islamic norms such as Muhammad’s sayings, “Whoever hurts a Thummy – Christian or Jew – has hurt me”, “no compulsion in religion” and other Islamic norms regarding just treatment of people of the Book; Christians and Jews. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the Muslim elites to impress upon their fellow Muslims that:

a. The three monotheistic religions believe in one God and all ‘faithfuls’ are equal in citizenship, rights and duties.

b. Christians participated in the rise of Arab Islamic civilization. They were pioneers in the modern Arab renaissance and they joined their Muslim brethren in resisting the Crusades, the Ottomans and Western colonialism.

c. Christians are natives of the land and they provide cultural, religious, educational, and economic, diversity.

d. Christians are a positive link between the Muslims and the Christian West, particularly in view of the rise of Islamophobia. Massacres of Christians and their migration provide a pretext for the further precipitation of Islamophobia.

e. Civilization is measured by the way it treats its minorities.

The Christian West: The Crusades, Western colonialism, creation and continued support of Israel, support of authoritarian Arab political systems, military interventions, regime change, and the destabilization of Arab states made Muslims view Eastern Christians ‘guilty by association’. The Christian West helped Jews come to Palestine to establish Israel. Shouldn’t the same Christian West also help Eastern Christians remain in their homeland, rather than facilitate their emigration? Western Christians, particularly Christian Zionists, believe that the existence of Israel is necessary for the return of Jesus to his homeland. However, it would be a great disappointment for Jesus to return to his homeland, Syria and not find any of his followers.

Prior to 2011, Eastern Christian religious leaders were encouraging Syrian Christians in the diaspora to return to Syria, their homeland, where life was safe and secure with great potential. Now, the same leaders are desperately trying to slow down Christian emigration. Eastern Christians’ loud cries for help to remain are blowing in the wind.

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