“USAID Develops a Bad Reputation Among Some Foreign Leaders,” read a May 7 Los Angeles Times headline, followed by the subhead:
The U.S. Agency for International Development doesn’t just offer aid to the poor, it also promotes democracy, which is seen as meddlesome or even subversive.
Fighting poverty and spreading democracy–what’s not to like?
And so, the report seems to suggest, there’s something a little off about foreign leaders, nine in recent years, who’ve expelled the agency. Why else would Bolivian President Evo Morales expel an anti-poverty group from his “impoverished” country, if he wasn’t just a little bit crazy? And Russian President Vladimir Putin can’t be playing with a full deck either; he recently expelled USAID and a bird lovers group.
Of course, these leaders and other USAID critics aren’t crazy; they argue that USAID undermines national sovereignty and democracy. The story includes charges that USAID manipulates the internal politics of host nations, but it leaves the allegations unexplored and lets supporters bat them away. In one case, reporter Paul Richter quotes an anonymous U.S. official on USAID critics:
“This is the empire striking back,” said a senior Obama administration official, who asked not to be identified because of diplomatic sensitivities. He insisted that USAID does not try to undermine governments.
Someone doesn’t have a firm grasp on the meaning the word “empire,” which applies much more accurately to U.S.’s role in these relationships. A fact that might be better understood by the reader if Richter had bothered to mention USAID’s sordid history of bolstering U.S. imperial goals.
USAID’s publicly stated goals include “furthering America’s foreign policy interests in expanding democracy and free markets.” Readers aren’t told about that, nor are they informed that in pursuing these goals the agency has frequently partnered with the CIA, as in the ’60s and ’70s when its now-closed Office of Public Safety trained foreign police in counterinsurgency techniques–including torture. Not exactly what jumps to mind when one imagines a democracy-promoting institution.
The report also fails to mention how for decades USAID has undermined popular democratic organizing in Third World countries by, among other things, creating parallel “popular” organizations, such as labor unions, in order to weaken authentic grassroots movements.
And just last month, U.S. diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks revealed that USAID and its Office of Transition Initiatives had been secretly tasked with destabilizing Venezuela’s democratically elected government. As historian and U.S. foreign policy critic William Blum points out, USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives
is one of the many euphemisms that American diplomats use with each other and the world–they say it means a transition to “democracy.” What it actually means is a transition from the target country adamantly refusing to cooperate with American imperialist grand designs to a country gladly willing (or acceding under pressure) to cooperate with American imperialist grand designs.
But mentioning any of that might make USAID critics look rational, even like defenders of democracy. Which is, of course, crazy–if your worldview requires a belief that U.S. interests are synonymous with democracy.
Seeking to expand in its export markets, Russia’s gas major Gazprom is now looking to develop terminals to process liquefied natural gas as well as distribution networks in Japan.
Japan is largely dependent on gas exports, as the country consumes above 100 billion cubic metres of gas a year while producing domestically no more than 4 billion. Since the Fukushima disaster in 2011 Japan is seeing a greater need for gas.
After the incident, “of 50 nuclear power units, only two are working – that’s a large drop in power generation, we understand that perfectly,” said Russia’s President Vladimir Putin at a press conference following talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Given Russia’s abundant hydrocarbon reserves, the country is quite “capable of providing for the growing consumption of hydrocarbons in Japan without harm to our traditional partners and without harm to our own consumers,” Putin added.
Russia supplies about 6.5 million tonnes of gas to Japan each year, which is about 8% of the total need of the Japanese.
Russia must need closer energy cooperation with Japan to back its Eastern Gas Program, which exports to Asian – Pacific countries, says Michael Korchyomkin, a director at East European Gas Analysis.
Among the joint gas projects between Russia and Japan are Vladivostok LNG and Sakhalin–2, an oil and gas joint venture between Gazprom, Shell and Japanese companies Mitsui and Mitsubishi.
Gazprom’s chances to successfully compete in regasification in Japan look slim, as currently the country processes about 250 bn of cubic metres of liquifed gas. So, new LNG terminals are unlikely to have a huge effect on the country’s economy, analysts say.
Further cooperation between Gazprom and Japan should deal mainly with the latest projects aimed at increasing Russian gas exports to Japan, says Grigory Birg, an analyst from Investcafe.
The Sakhalin – 2 project should be more attractive for the Japanese, as the prime costs there are acceptable, Korchyomkin added. The situation around the Vladivostok LNG plant, that’s due to start operations in 2018, so far looks vague. The price of gas produced there could rise too much – to as much as $700 per a thousand cubic metres, the expert concluded.
Pricing it in
At the moment the price issue remains a key one for the Japanese. “Cutting prices for the fuel bought abroad is an urgent task for our country,” said Toshimitsu Motegi, the Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry.
People in Japan pay about $550 per thousand cubic metres of gas, which compares to the average of $365 in Europe.
The Japanese have started to ask for lower prices, Valery Nesterov, an analyst at Sberbank Investment Research, told Kommersant daily. This isn’t surprising, as the number of similar requests has increased, adds Mariya Belova, a senior analyst at the energy sector at Moscow School of Management, Skolkovo. Rosneft and Novatek are among other Russian companies offering their LNG (liquefied natural gas) projects, and looking for possible delivery contracts to the country.
President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe say the countries foreign ministers are to resume speedy talks on a peace treaty that was suspended in 2003.
“The heads of the two nations have expressed their resolution to overcome the existing differences in the parties’ positions and to sign the peace treaty by finally solving the question in a mutually acceptable form,” reads a joint statement after a meeting between the two men.
The statement also describes as “not normal” the situation in which the two neighboring nations cannot sign a peace treaty 67 years after the end of the war.
However, the Russian President said in an answer to a reporter’s question that the resumption of talks did not mean that all problems will be resolved on the next day. He also added that development of economic ties would be the best support for the diplomatic dialogue.
“It was not us who created this problem. We inherited it from the past. And we sincerely want to solve it in conditions that are mutually acceptable for both sides,” Putin said.
Shinzo Abe’s visit to Russia is the first by a Japanese leader in 10 years, the same time since Russia and Japan suspended talks over the peace treaty.
Putin and Abe agreed to promote the peace treaty talks on the basis of all previously approved documents and agreements.
The Japanese PM said he invited Vladimir Putin to visit Japan in 2014 and that the Russian leader thanked him for the invitation.
Since the end of the WWII Russia and Japan have coexisted peacefully, and investment and trade between the countries is constantly developing. However, diplomatic relations are tense as Japan refuses to sign a peace treaty with Russia claiming that there is an unresolved territorial issue – the row over several small islands known as South Kuriles in Russia and as the Northern Territories in Japan.
Because of loose definitions in the international treaties signed at the end of the war ,Tokyo demands the return of the islands that were captured by Soviet troops in 1945. Russia insists the islands became a part of the USSR after the war and therefore Russian sovereignty over this territory cannot be revised.
Immediately before Shinzo Abe’s visit to Moscow the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement urging a ‘calm and respectful atmosphere’ in looking for a solution.
In recent years the island row has led to several incidents between Russia and Japan. After the most recent, the Japanese Foreign Ministry summoned the Russian Ambassador to protest Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to the Kuriles in 2012. Russia replied that Japan had no right to advise a top official on the choice of destination as he travels in his country’s own territory.
- Russia, Japan try to bridge gaps on thorny issues – Xinhua (news.xinhuanet.com)
Russia and Japan have launched a new tool for the development of mutual investments. The new Russo-Japanese investment platform involves injections starting from $1 billion and is aimed at boosting Russia’s Far East.
The agreement was reached on an official visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Moscow where he met with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. It was the first official trip by a Japanese Premier to Russia for ten years.
The two sides agreed to jointly invest in infrastructure, medicine and health, technology, “smart cities” and alternative energy sources.
Among the top priorities for regional investment program are Russia’s Far East and Eastern Siberia. Russia’s Eastern regions provide excellent conditions for creating highly profitable projects due to the resource base and transport potential, and companies that are already involved in business there will get additional efficiency with the influx of foreign investment, Kirill Dmitriev, Director General of Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said.
The new two-way platform is based on a powerful financial component. In addition to RDIF, Russia’s Vnesheconombank and Japan Bank for International Cooperation is also on board.
“The new mechanism is designed to simplify the exchange of technology and experience,” Dmitriev said. “The Japanese economy is built on advanced technology, and this is exactly what we are lacking.”
Leading Japanese corporations were invited to meet on the sidelines of the Prime Minister’s visit to Moscow. Toshiba, Mitsubishi, Kawasaki and Olympus and many have expressed interest in in investing in Russia. “Now RDIF’s goal is to turn that interest into real projects,” Dmitriev said.
Another cooperation agreement was reached between Japan’s Hokkaido Bank and the government of Russia’s Amur region.
Earlier it was reported that Russian-Japanese joint investments may increase by 10 times over the next three years. “But with such financial and technological support we have reason to think that the real figures can get higher. So far Russia’s interest in Japanese foreign investments is less than 1% (0.62% in 2012). But we already have a lot of positive examples of investment by Japanese companies in our country,” Dmitriev said.
- Abe, Putin vow to increase efforts to sign Japan-Russia peace treaty (japandailypress.com)
At a Press Conference with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Egypt´s President Mohammed Morsi stated, that Egypt was committed to finding a peaceful and legal solution to the crisis in Syria. Today, the official Egyptian State Information Service states, that Egypt has said no to a loan from the International Monetary Fond, IMF, because the IMF´s conditions were unacceptable. Earlier this year, prior to a state visit in India, Morsi pronounced that Egypt has aspirations for joining the BRICS.
Since the discontinuation of the Soviet Union, the bilateral relations between Cairo and Moscow have slowly degraded. The main talking points on the agenda at the talks between Morsi and Putin were the revival of trade, commerce and economic cooperation between the two countries as well as the instability that has swept over Northern Africa and the Middle East since 2011.
Earlier this year, prior to a planned state visit to India, Morsi stated, that Egypt has aspirations of becoming a member of the BRICS, leading to speculations, whether Egypt is planning to assume a similar role as it had during the 1950s and 1960s, where the country walked a tightrope between alignment with Moscow and Washington. As a member of the non-aligned movement, Egypt may very well try to reassert its role as a regional power broker.
A closer alignment of Egypt with Moscow would make the country less dependent on US foreign policy and could, at least to a certain degree, counter the strong influence the USA is asserting over the Arab League through Qatar.
The little Gulf Kingdom has since 2007 grown into a veritable regional political superpower, which has stood and is standing behind many of the sweeping changes which have cast northern Africa and the Middle East into turmoil since 2011. Qatar and the USA are the primary powers behind the attempted subversion of Syria.
The question one may ask is, whether Morsi´s statement, that Egypt is committed to finding a peaceful and legal solution to the crisis in Syria is indicative of a more self-confident Egypt, and an Egyptian president who is aware of the fact that an alignment with the USA and Qatar, without playing the Moscow card, makes him as easily disposable as his predecessor Hosni Mubarak.
There are also other signs which indicate that Morsi may be trying to reassert Egypt´s role as regional power and greater independence from Washington. Morsi´s ambitions to have Egypt become the “E” in something that could become the BRICS+E was one indication. Prior to his visit to India, Morsi also stated, that Egypt is planning to increase its relations with eastern and Asian countries.
Today´s rejection of the IMF´s loan, following talks with the Russian President in Sochi, are lending additional credibility to those who are arguing for an Egyptian realignment to the middle, and the recent signals from the BRICS, that it will create a BRICS development bank, are indicative that Morsi may have substance behind the possible dream of a course change.
Asked about the reasons for turning down the IMF, Mosi said, “We seek to carry out clear changes in the government´s economic program to receive the loan and we are keen on the interests of the Egyptian citizens”. On of the greatest points of critique against Morsi, other than oppression of his political opponents were, that Morsi “already sold out Egypt and its people to the IMF and World Bank, before he even was elected”. With backup from Russia and the other BRICS members however, Morsi would be less dependent on Washington´s and the IMF´s economic dictates. With the World Bank and IMF systems, as some analysts have it, close to exploding into an international scandal which could spell the beginning of the end of the Bretton Woods gentleman´s agreement, Morsi may be making a very wise decision.
Morsi showed true statesmanship when he said, that he is “seeking real investments in Egypt” and that “loans don´t solve problems and are just temporary solutions”. During his interview with Al-Jazeera Morsi also reiterated the importance of maintaining the integrity of Egyptian territory, stating, that “Egypt´s lands are not for sale and are prohibited for non-Egyptians”.
While increased Egyptian self-confidence and increased assertiveness in the Arab League as well as Egypt´s possible influence for finding a political solution to the crisis in Syria may be plausible and welcome, he may still have to tackle internal problems. Consolidating the continuity and stability of the Egyptian government in times of sudden and comprehensive unrest and change may have made sweeping power grabs a tempting solution. As a long-term strategy however, a semi-dictatorial, Muslim Brotherhood influenced Egyptian government is as counter productive to the stability of Egypt´s society and government, as loans are counterproductive as a long-term strategy for economic growth.
During an interview with Al-Jazeera, Morsi also stressed that Egypt is maintaining good relations with Iran and that Egypt´s relations with Iran are not directed against anyone. Morsi reiterated, the importance of Iran´s role with regard to finding a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Syria.
The renewed ties between Cairo and Moscow may also indicate that Russia is planning to play a more active role throughout the Middle East, and that the Russian government is planning to reassert some of the influence Moscow has lost in the region during the last years of the Soviet era and the early 1990s.
A Russian fleet, composed of the anti-submarine destroyer Admiral Panteleyev and the two logistic warships Peresvet and Novelskoy, with a total number of 712 crew have entered the Iranian Army´s first naval zone in Bandar Abbas.
The three vessel´s visit is aiming at consolidating the relations between Iran and Russia and the expansion of interactions between the two countries in the field of naval security. The three Russian warships have left their home port Vladivostok for duty in the world oceans and are visiting Bandar Abbas en route to their operational destinations. The Russian Ministry of Defense has announced, that Russia has begun forming a separate Mediterranean squadron.
The visit of Egypt´s President Morsi to Sochi and the talks with Russian President Putin, Egypt´s interest in joining the BRICS, the rejection of the IMF loan, Morsi´s commitment to finding a peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria while stressing the importance of Iran´s role as part of the solution, and Russian commitment to a stronger naval presence in the Mediterranean indicate that Egypt could be playing a key role in limiting the current US Middle East and Northern Africa Pivot. The rejection of the IMF loan and indications to more commitment to democracy could indicate, that Russian influence also has inspired the Muslim Brotherhood led government to bring its own house in order while considering to assume a greater regional role.
Recent checks in Russian NGOs are completely in line with the law and have the sole objective of informing the Russian public on these groups’ activities, according to President Vladimir Putin.
In an interview with the German broadcaster ARD, Putin said that the recently-approved law on foreign agents that caused the major NGO audit had parallels in international practice. He also noted the extremely disproportionate representation of non-governmental presence from foreign countries in Russia.
In the very beginning of the interview, the Russian President noted that it was not the objective of the NGO inspections to scare the public or the activists, adding that the mass media was performing that function.
Putin added that the real situation differed greatly from what was presented by the Western mass media. In particular, the fresh Russian law demanding that non-government organizations engaged in Russia’s internal political processes and sponsored from abroad must be registered as foreign agents was noting new. The United States has had a very similar law since 1938.
Putin noted that the US law is enforced by the Department of Justice. All groups operating in the US must regularly submit information about their activities and this information is then reviewed by the counterespionage section.
The German reporter admitted he was not aware of such practices in the United States.
Putin went on to point out that there were 654 foreign-funded groups operating in Russia, while Russia sponsored only two foreign NGOs – one in France and one in the United States.
He also disclosed that foreign diplomatic missions transferred $1 billion. Eight hundred and fifty-five million was to the accounts of Russian-based NGOs in just the four months that passed since the approval of the Foreign Agents Law.
Putin told the interviewer that in his view, Russian society had the full right to know about the extensive network of foreign-sponsored organizations operating in the country, as well as about the amount of funding these groups were getting from their foreign sponsors.
The Russian leader then again stressed that the Russian authorities did not intend to pressure or shut down any organizations.
“We only ask them to admit: ‘Yes, we are engaged in political activities, and we are funded from abroad,’” Putin said. “The public has the right to know this.”
Putin also emphasized in his interview that the Russian authorities fully supported political competition, as without it the development of the country and the people is impossible. He said that the opposition had every right to protest, but even during these protests the rally-goers must abide by the law.
“There must be order. It is a well-known rule. It is universal and applicable in any country,” he stated, noting that the recent events in North Africa were a vivid example of what might happen if this principle is neglected.
The president recalled the recent changes in the law on political parties that drastically simplified both the registration and the work of these organizations. He also spoke of as other moves to liberalize the political system, such as the return of the gubernatorial elections, saying that this was proof that he and his supporters encouraged political competition.
‘Feeling the Cyprus pinch’
When asked about the scope of Russian investment in Cyprus, Putin said it was “absurd” to view private Russian business interests operating in an EU country as having any connection with the activities of the Russian government itself.
He did, however, state that following the $13 billion bailout agreement with Cyprus, which included a one-time tax on deposits held in Cypriot banks, foreign investors feeling the pinch in the EU were more likely to “come to our financial institutions and keep their money in our banks.”
Reacting to claims that Cyprus was a safe haven for dirty money, Putin stressed that Russia neither created the offshore zone, nor had anyone provided evidence of financial misconduct on the Mediterranean island. But while no criminal wrongdoing has been proven, people who had merely deposited their money without breaking any laws now risk forfeiting 60 percent of their deposits as a result of the Cyprus bailout deal.
The Russian president continued that apart from Cyprus, other zones had been created by the European Union, and it was a red herring to place the blame for illicit activities on investors who benefited from them.
“If you consider such zones a bad thing, then close them. Why do you shift responsibility for all problems that have arisen in Cyprus to investors irrespective of their nationality (British, Russian, French or whatever else).”
When asked if he had felt snubbed by the EU when it opted not to turn to Russia for help despite the number of Russian nationals affected, Putin resolutely answered no.
“On the contrary I am even glad, to some extent, because the events have shown how risky and insecure investments in Western financial institutions can be.”
‘We trust the Euro’
Despite previous criticism of certain aspects of the European financial system, Putin stated emphatically that “we trust the euro.”
Putin was unwilling to comment in depth on the internal workings of the EU that had no direct bearing on Russia, as it would be disrespectful to EU leaders.
He did say, however, that despite several points of contention between the EU and Russia, they “are fundamentally moving in the right direction” and Russia had made the right decision in keeping such a large share of its gold and currency reserves “in the European currency.”
Reiterating Russia’s trust in the economic policy of major European countries, Putin remains confident that Europe will overcome the difficulties it is currently facing.
- Putin: Cyprus deposit cut will hurt Europe’s banks (ekathimerini.com)
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced it will close its offices in Russia.
After 20 years of working in Russia, USAID officials said they were informed by the Russian government that their services were no longer required.
According to the Foreign Ministry, USAID was attempting to manipulate the election processes in the country.
“The character of the agency’s work…did not always comply with the declared aims of cooperation in bilateral humanitarian cooperation,” the Foreign Ministry said on its website. “We are talking about issuing grants in an attempt to affect the course of the political processes in the country, including elections at different levels and institutions in civil society.”
Russian civil society has become fully mature, the Foreign Ministry said, and did not need any “external direction.” Moscow is read to work with USAID in third-party countries, it said.
In an interview with Kommersant, Dmitry Peskov, President Putin’s press-secretary, suggested that the US agency was not abiding by the rules regulating their work with NGOs.
“As all foreign agencies that provide financial support for Russian NGOs, USAID should abide by Russia’s legal regulations,” Peskov said. “As long as the Americans abide by these norms, we obviously couldn’t make a decision to terminate their activities on Russian territory.”
Moscow‘s decision to halt USAID programs comes after Putin in July signed legislation that requires nongovernmental organizations that receive funds from abroad to register as “foreign agents.”
The law requires that Russian-based NGOs provide information as to how funds received from abroad are being used in Russia.
The United States has denied that USAID programs are aimed at interfering in Russia’s domestic affairs.
US State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland announced the termination of USAID’s operations in Russia on Tuesday. The Kremlin notified US officials they have until October 1 to close the mission.
Washington began its USAID operations in Moscow following the unexpected collapse of the Soviet Union. At that time, Russia was a basket case, dependent on IMF loan transfusions just to keep its head above water. USAID spent more than $2.6 billion in Russia on various projects, like cleaning up the environment and fighting against infectious diseases.
Russia’s domestic situation began to turn around, however, when the presidency passed from Boris Yeltsin to Vladimir Putin. Today, Russia has not only returned its debts, but is now a lender of last resort for countries hammered by the 2008 financial crisis.
Although Russia’s reversal of fortunes is often explained by its vast natural resources, political will also played a significant role in the progress.
Since Russia no longer sees itself as a charity case, USAID activities were increasingly viewed as not only redundant, but even a little humiliating.
Aside from the growing irrelevance of such foreign-sponsored activities, there was the nagging suspicion inside Russia that these agencies served as fronts for purely political motives.
This year, for example, USAID was allotted $50 million to finance its Russia activities. Approximately 60 per cent of the budget was to be used for promoting democracy and human rights. This represents a dramatic increase compared with the former Bush administration.
- Russia Closes USAID Office (themoscowtimes.com)
Haven’t we had about enough of this? In the words of some TV writers, this whole Pussy Riot episode is fake, fake, fake, fake and useful idiots all over the world fall for the script. When so called ‘celebrities’ like Madonna and Paul McCartney show their support, well, you know you’ve been had.
A fairly good summary comes from someone on the girl’s facebook page:
Freedom of speech is going into a Russian Orthodox Christian Church wearing KKK masks and denouncing Putin and Christianity? Really? What if some women went into a Synagogue in this country and sang some anti-semitic epithets? You better bet your Zionist owned ass that they would be tried as terrorists and disappeared into a Luciferian dungeon for the rest of their lives. This Pussy Riot stunt and the naked Ukrainian girl that chainsawed a Cross to the ground, is just Western backed agitation and BS propaganda. I’m all for free speech and women’s rights but this ain’t it. Ever since Putin kicked out the Jewish Oligarchs from Russia, the CIA/Mossad have been backing stunts like this. Don’t believe the hype. And Kasparov’s real name is Garik Weinstein, Zionist agent. And no culture that bases itself in a cesspit of Luciferianism, Propaganda, Pedophilia, Immorality and Insanity – all designed by Zionists who enjoy dumb goyim fighting amongst each other, will ever lead to a revolution that means anything. Only thing thing Pussy Riot will be good for is the headlining act at a FEMA Camp near you.
And from a comment here:
So obvious. The endless media coverage is of course the first tip off. Russia is standing in the way of certain designated “enemies”(Syria and Iran) and Israel and the US don’t appreciate it. Pussy Riot=obvious psy op.
The heavy sentence they received is probably the Russian’s way of sending a message to the people that they are not going to tolerate them siding with the US state department in an effort to destabilize the country. This is Putin after all. He’s making a point. And it’s probably not going to the missed by the others in Russia who are trying to help neo-liberalize the country and take them back to the Yeltsin years of corruption and pillaging the nation.
What really topped it off for me was the topless chain saw wielding Ukrainian girl cutting down a cross that was a memorial for those murdered and starved by Stalin’s bolshevik killers. One doesn’t have to be traditionally religious in the least to see it for what it is…an attack on true history that some would want us to forget.
We can understand the paid provocateurs. They do it for the money and the little fame it brings them. It’s the blind followers that are worrisome.
The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.
Small groups of persons can, and do, make the rest of us think what they please about a given subject.
There are invisible rulers who control the destinies of millions. It is not generally realized to what extent the words and actions of our most influential public men are dictated by shrewd persons operating behind the scenes.
Nor, what is still more important, the extent to which our thoughts and habits are modified by authorities.
Women are just as subject to the commands of invisible government as are men.
Beirut – Two interpretations by the participants themselves, of what significant international meetings achieved, the first on 6/25/12 and the second five days later, remind us about subjectivity in the eyes of the beholders.
Post-event statements, whether following last weekend’s Geneva meeting on Syria which produced markedly different interpretations of the final communiqué language by the Russian and American Foreign Ministers, Sergei Lavrov (that Syria’s President Bashar Assad need not necessarily depart-depending on what the Syrian people decide) and Hillary Clinton, (Assad’s departure is absolutely required) may have sent French, Russian and English language interpreters looking for their thesaurus.
Similarly, vastly divergent Russian-Israeli interpretations about what was agreed to during the 24 hour “ just passing through” visit by Vladimir Putin to Palestine and the Zionist lobby’s touting of “ a new Israel-Russia bi-lateral alliance” suggests serious wishful thinking by one side according to an official at the Russian Embassy in Beirut with whom this observer discussed last week’s Putin visit.
At a joint news conference after their meeting, Mr. Netanyahu said he and Mr. Putin had agreed that the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran “presents a grave danger first of all to Israel, and to the region and the world as a whole.” Israel, Netanyahu announced on 6/25/12, to raised eyebrows from some among the 400 member visiting Russian delegation, expects the once and likely future superpower to support expanded sanctions against Tehran, demand a halt to all uranium enrichment by Iran, insist on the removal of all enriched uranium from Iran and the dismantling of an underground nuclear facility near the city of Qum.
For Putin’s part, he only proffered that he and Netanyahu had discussed Syria and the Iranian nuclear program and that the talks had been “useful”. During his short visit Putin inaugurated a memorial in Netanya for Soviet troops killed in World War II and presumably had others motives given Russia’s interest in Israel’s defense industry. In the last two years Russia has purchased 12 drones from different Israeli companies.
The newly inaugurated Russian president, who has said he regarded the breakup of the Soviet Union as a geopolitical catastrophe, defended the Iranian people’s right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes but pointed out at the same time that Iran should guarantee non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, but in any case, the problem should be solved peacefully, by way of talks.
Israel’s Prime Minister repeatedly expressed reservations about Russia’s role in the long-stagnant Israeli-Palestinian “peace process”. He complained to Putin that Russia, a member of the so-called quartet of Middle East peacemakers has consistently sided with the Palestinians during disputes. Netanyahu called on Putin to urge the Palestinians to return to negotiations but received a puzzled look from his guest as if Putin might have been wondering why Israel has not suspended illegal settlements expansion and land confiscations, as the Palestinians and the international community have demanded for over four decades. Undaunted, Netanyahu appeared not to notice Putin’s quizzical expression while insisting that he was sure that the Russian visit would improve ties in agriculture, science, technology and space, “among other fields’.
The Israeli Prime Minister’s staff explained that the Soviet Union had been hostile to Israel and now relations should improve while Defense Minister Ehud Barak said at an Independence Party meeting that “Russia is a very important world power, a country that played a very important role in Syria’s history in the past few years and that is why it will play a key role in the shaping of post-Assad Syria.” Barak also stressed Russia’s importance in “the international effort vis-à-vis Iran in terms of sanctions and diplomacy and his belief that Putin understood that in dealing with Iran, Israel faces a decision between “bombing or the bomb” and if Israel doesn’t attack, Iran will eventually obtain nuclear weapons.
Yet, according to Russian Embassy discussions in Beirut, Putin repeatedly warned Israeli officials that the very existence of Israel was at risk if it attacked Iran and that Israel should not delude itself that Russia will ever sanction an attack on Iran or that Russia will get involved with Israel’s attack in anyway. Putin emphasized that Israel should think twice before taking any action on Iran and should learn lessons from the United States’ experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Look what happened to America in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Putin said. “I told Obama also. You don’t need to jump to things too early; you don’t need to act before thinking. In Iraq there is a pro-Iranian government after everything that happened there. You need to think well before doing something you’ll be sorry about.” Putin also told Netanyahu that Russia will recognize a Palestinian state.
Several high ranking Bush administration officials, drawing salaries from US taxpayers while serving Israel, and who pushed the US to invade Afghanistan and Iraq are currently attempting the same fate for Iran. Backed by the Zionist lobby, they and the Russians are in agreement that only US incompetence gave both countries to Iran with more quite likely in the pipeline from the Persian Gulf area.
Arab and Islamophobe, Ruthie Blum, former senior editor at the Jerusalem Post, and author of “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring’, claims that President Obama and the American taxpayers have betrayed Israel.
Blum, writing in the current issue of Israel Hayom explains that “Since the minute that Barack Obama became president of the United States nearly four years ago, it was clear that the Jewish state was being tossed aside like an unappreciated, loyal, long-time wife for a far more alluring, utterly inappropriate, and dangerous lover. Indeed, Obama has not hidden the hots he has always had for the Islamic world; nor has he been the least bit discreet about his attraction to its more anti-Western elements. It is the height of tragic irony that, in the absence of its previous protection by its adulterous spouse, America, the Israeli government has nowhere to turn but to Russia.
Netanyahu’s staff, which sent her piece to US Zionist lobby outfits, reportedly sees, as their boss does, Israel’s very existence at stake, and he’s prepared for Israel to go it alone or link with Russia because he’s “unwilling to entrust the survival of the Jewish state to America.”
Meanwhile, during a talk-show when Ruthie finally gave him a chance to get a word in edgewise, Israeli journalist and TV show host, Dan Margalit, announced that: “In a time when the Arab-Left-anti-Semitic axis is doing its utmost to delegitimize and marginalize Israel, Putin’s visit has the power to counter dozens of evil-hearted artists and musicians who boycott Israel. If such visits were the norm, Israel would have laid the red carpet at Ben-Gurion International Airport and welcomed U.S. President Barack Obama by now, but he is understandably not trusted here while Romney is plus if Mitt is elected President he promised his first trip will be to Israel. Obama has never come once since he became President.”
The Obama administration, but not apparently the Congress, was taken aback and issued a statement from Ben LaBolt, an Obama campaign spokesman: “Governor Romney has said he would do the opposite of what President Obama has done in our relations with Israel. Now he must specify how — does that mean he would reverse President Obama’s policies of sending Israel the largest security assistance packages in history? Does it mean he would let Israel stand alone at the United Nations, or that he would stop funding the Iron Dome system? Does it mean he would abandon the coalition working together to confront Iran’s nuclear ambitions?”
Netanyahu advisor Benny Goldberg explained Israel’s seemingly awkward overtures to Russia as realpolitik. “Look, it’s like the coming Mitt Romney visit. We will welcome him as well as Obama if he decides to visit. After all, in the US Congress we seek support from both sides of the aisle so it’s logical that we want the same relationship with Moscow as we have with Washington.”
So much for the Obama administration’s fantasy of the US-Israel special, one of a kind devoted, legendary, eternal, rock solid, unbreakable, forever and ever iron-clad bond and indivisible alliance which gives America a reliable, democratic strategic Gemini-twins like partnership with America and her very generous, if uninformed, taxpayers.
Some cynical Congressional staffers have commented that Israel already has the US government in its back pocket and that Congress will guarantee that it remains so; therefore Israel has nothing to lose by intimating to the Russians that will discard the US at least to the extent of promoting Russian interests in the region. After all, as is well known in the White House, Israel sold to the USSR, through a third party, stolen top secret specialized code-word compartmented (TS/SCI) intelligence via Jonathan Pollard, which from his KGB tenure Putin presumably has direct knowledge of.”
Goldberg also explained recently that in the past it was only logic that dictated switching Israeli acceptance of the “keeping the Golan Heights quiet Alawi Shia regime in Syria” which at the time made sense given the concomitant danger from Sunni Islamists, including the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad. But now Israel has switched its support for a Sunni regime in Syria that it hopes will confront Iran and Hezbollah. Realpolitik also dictates that if the Sunnis fail to topple Assad Israel can live with that also because it believes that Israel’s annexation of the Golan will not be challenged with more than words.
There is little conflict between Russia’s and Israel’s interests because neither country is as powerful as it would like to be in the region. Russia has few of the options it had during the Cold War and Israel has little influence in the outcome in Syria or in Egypt.
On the other hand, Russia and Israel do have some complementary interests. One example is Azerbaijan where Russian is a major weapons provider for the regime and the Israelis are also selling it large amounts of weapons. The CIA suspects it has set up a base from which to spy on, and, according to rumors, prepare to attack Iran. Apparently Russia does not feel threatened by Israeli involvement in Azerbaijan or that both are there, and each operate in ways that would appear to be in conflict but don’t, according to Stratford’s George Freeman.
There are also some bilateral interests on an economic and a strategic level, because Russia is looking for new partners in the area.
In addition, both Russia and Israel have benefited enormously from U.S. “terrorism wars” in the Islamic world. It is not just that these wars alienate Muslims, which is beneficial to Israel, but they also help the Russians due to the debilitating human and economic cost for America.
As the US staggers, and with Russia and China practicing shrewd Middle East politics, one imagines that Israeli leaders might be recalling the days and reasons that the Zionist colonial enterprise dumped England for America following World War II.
Franklin Lamb is doing research in Beirut and is reachable c/o firstname.lastname@example.org
MOSCOW – Potential U.S.sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program will “deal a blow” to Russian-U.S. relations, a senior Russian official said Sunday, presuming a hard-line stance before the long-waited meeting of the heads of the two states.
Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov told reporters that U.S. sanctions on Iran would “run against international law and affect third countries.”
Moscow could not accept if Russian firms and banks become potential victims of such unilateral actions from the U.S., Ushakov warned.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama are to meet on the sidelines of the upcoming Group of 20 summit Monday in the Mexican city of Los Cabos.
The two leaders had agreed by phone in early May that they would meet for one and a half hours during the summit, Ushakov said, which would be the first since Putin returned to the top seat.
Putin’s absence from the Group of Eight summit last month in the United States and Obama’s no-show decision at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum meeting in Russia’s Vladivostok in September augured a possible cool-down of the already soured Russia-U.S. relations amidst Putin’s tough words concerning the U.S.-led missile defense system in Europe.
A new round of talks between Iran and the six major world powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — is due on Monday in Moscow, a month after the last round of “six plus one” talks was held in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.