Since the collapse of the USSR, and the inception of the unipolar world order with the United States at its center, the term ‘benevolent hegemony’ has entered the lexicon of international relations and geopolitics. The full fleshing out of this idea was revealed in the 1996 essay by American neoconservatives Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan, ‘Toward a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy’. Its essence is an excuse for the United States to pursue whichever diplomatic and military means are believed to forward the goals of an American Empire, on the basis that unlike past empires, this one is not based on the prestige of the American people, or indeed any given leader, but instead on a set of ‘universal values and principles’ which are supposedly positive for all who live under them. One need only look at the neoconservatives themselves and come to the conclusion that they certainly do not represent the interests of the American people, as their international operations rarely have any positive impact for working men and women, and in fact very often engender negative consequences for them. Nor could it be said that neoconservatives aid the prestige of a given leader, as their legacy of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan destroyed the presidential legacy of George W. Bush, and notably his British ally Tony Blair.
This is excusable of course, because it has never been claimed by the neoconservative establishment that their policies are crafted with these people in mind. They are in aid of an ideology, and because most Westerners suffer under the delusion that this ideology is itself benevolent, then the means that America uses to propagate and expand its influence must also be benevolent. Slowly however, this facade is beginning to peel away.
Tom Rogan, a foreign policy analyst for the neoconservative publication National Review recently penned an article describing ‘Three Ways the US Can Save Syria‘. Obviously this is in response to the fact that America is being defeated in the country, the Syrian Army’s gradual recapture of Aleppo being just the latest blow to the terrorist rebel groups agitating against the legitimate government. If President Assad ends the insurgency of terrorists, then the American Empire loses not only in terms of its original geopolitical goals which spurred its meddling, but in terms of international prestige, especially among the nations of the Middle East. In light of this, Rogan’s urgent recommendations make sense, but in his zeal he gives the world a very clear picture of what ‘benevolent hegemony’ looks like.
The first recommendation concerns the oil market. Russia, the key counter-force to the United States in Syria, has been economically harmed by a dramatic dip in global oil prices, Russia is presently in talks with OPEC members about capping oil production, which would raise the price back up to reasonable levels. Rogan proposes diplomatic interference with this effort (mainly involving Saudi Arabia) in order to do as much economic damage to Russia as possible. The carrot he wishes to lead the Saudis with is the proposal for surface-to-air missiles given to allied rebel groups in Syria, but could just as easily be more rockets for Saudi aircraft to target funerals in Yemen.
Consider how benevolent this is; the stated aim being to wound a sovereign nation’s economy and by extension its people, the means being to arm dangerous groups within a sovereign nation in order that they can kill more civilian and government targets.
The second recommendation is perhaps the most alarming, as it can be perceived to be a direct terror threat against the nation of Turkey and its president, Tayyip Erdogan. Rogan acknowledges that after the failed July coup orchestrated against America’s own supposed NATO ally, the country does not trust the US, and is seeking to mend relations with Russia. For a long time, the relationship between Syria and Turkey was decidedly negative, but as the war has dragged on and millions of the displaced have flooded across borders with no checks on their movement, Ankara knows that stability in Syria is in fact vital to its own national security interests, and has thus moved away from its previous position on the conflict. In response to this setback, Rogan has the following proposition:
“Here America’s golden ticket is the Kurds — specifically, U.S. armament support to Kurdish militias such as the Syrian-based YPG. At present, the U.S. carefully qualifies its support to the YPG to mollify the Turks. Erdogan fears U.S. support will enable the YPG and other Kurdish forces to destabilize Turkey’s southern frontier. And to some degree he is right. But if Erdogan wants to play us, we should play him.”
In case the severity of this is not clear, the insinuation is that if Turkey does not end rapprochement with Russia and pursue an aggressively anti-Assad agenda, the American military should arm groups it knows may conduct violent attacks against the Turkish state. Is there any way this cannot be taken as blackmail via terror, and if so how benevolent is such a proposal?
The third recommendation is to supply “humanitarian airlifts” to rebel-held areas of Syria. Rogan recollects the Bush-era airlifts to Georgia during the 2008 crisis, but there is a key difference between the two scenarios. In 2008, Georgia was a sovereign nation undergoing an incredibly complex regional dispute with breakaway provinces, but nevertheless the government there invited American assistance. This is not the case in Syria, where the government has expressed no permission for America to even enter its airspace, an international norm which the American Air Force has been violating for over a year now. In fact, in the wake of the brutal air assault on Deir el-Zour which killed 62 Syrian soldiers, President Assad has been even more strident in making its long-held case that Western powers are working hand-in-glove with ISIS. This proposal more than the other two brings the world dangerously close to a conflict that nobody wants to even entertain, as Rogan recommends escorting these “humanitarian airlifts” with “fighter patrols” who would challenge Russian air superiority. Is laying the groundwork for WWIII benevolent?
Rogan finishes his essay by explaining that the goal of these dangerous pieces of foreign policy advice is to express “that America is unwilling to cede Syria to Russia”, apparently indulging in a fantasy that America ever possessed Syria, and indeed with a staggering sense of authority that the entire nation of Syria is something which can and should be possessed by America.
This is the not the first example of this kind of rhetoric coming from mainstream Western think-tanks and foreign policy journals which are intricately tied into the workings of the US State Department, however it is one of the less varnished ones. There is not even the mask of benevolence present in these proposals; they are dangerous, lawless, and cynical. If Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, she has made clear that this is the course she will take.
In a secret speech to Goldman Sachs which was revealed by Wikileaks, Clinton admitted the following regarding a no-fly zone in Syria:
“They’re getting more sophisticated thanks to Russian imports. To have a no-fly zone you have to take out all of the air defense, many of which are located in populated areas. So our missiles, even if they are standoff missiles so we’re not putting our pilots at risk—you’re going to kill a lot of Syrians”
And yet, even with this understanding, Hillary Clinton maintains support for the institution of a no-fly zone. Donald Trump of course represents the antithesis of such a hazardous foreign policy, abandoning the commitments of neoconservatives and their ideology, in order to focus on the various internal problems that his country faces. Even so we cannot rely on a Trump victory, for by now we are all aware of the Clinton campaign’s ability to martial all of her friends and colleagues in the Orwellian media, as well as stoop to even more subversive means to steal an election result. We must assume the worst, and thus we must assume and anticipate President Clinton and her craven approach to geopolitics. De-constructing the myth of ‘benevolent hegemony’ is an important part of this anticipation, and writers like Rogan help with this effort in their bungling inability to bejewel the ugly reality of the Atlanticist designs upon the Middle East and indeed the wider world.
Dropping the pretense of benevolence, this is just hegemony, and when we look at its consequences not just for the suffering people of Syria, but also Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, etc. then perhaps these outlets ought to be more accurate and deem such projects ‘malevolent hegemony’ instead.
The United States has called for trying Russia for committing war crimes in Syria. Secretary of state John Kerry said in Washington on Friday, “Russia and the (Syrian) regime owe the world more than an explanation… These are acts that beg for an appropriate investigation of war crimes. And those who commit these would and should be held accountable… We also need to keep the pressure up on Russia with respect to the implementation of the Minsk agreement (on Ukraine). And we… make it clear publicly that if we cannot implement Minsk in the next months or arrive at a clear plan as to exactly how it is going to be implemented… then it will be absolutely necessary to roll over the sanctions (against Russia).”
To be sure, the sub-zero temperature in US-Russia relations has dipped by another ten degrees centigrade. Even in the height of Cold War, when the former Soviet Union used to be an ‘evil empire’, Washington had never sought that the Kremlin officials should be tried for war crimes. Nor had the Soviet Union.
Even after killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqi, Libyan and Afghan civilians and the wanton destruction of those countries in the past decade or so, and even though the US is actively taking part in the war in Yemen, Moscow never demanded that George W. Bush or Barack Obama – or even Hillary Clinton – should be tried as war criminals.
What has come over Kerry? He sounds a frustrated man who’s lost his cool. He realizes that his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov outwitted him, whereas he’d thought he’s clever by half.
The US hoped to somehow preserve the al-Qaeda affiliate Nusra in order to spearhead one more final push for ‘regime change’ in Syria – if not under the Obama presidency, at least under the next president. Indeed, Lavrov saw through Kerry’s ploy – ultimately, Kerry, a clever politician with some experience in diplomacy, couldn’t be a match for the immensely experienced career diplomat and intellectual in Lavrov. So, Lavrov played along with a poker face and entrapped ‘John’ in a peace agreement that Pentagon would never approve, which actually aimed at making mincemeat out of Nusra.
On the other hand, Kerry feels frustrated that President Barack Obama was not willing to open a parallel track of military intervention in Syria, which, he thought, would have given a much-needed swagger to his diplomatic track. Kerry belongs to the old school of power brokers in Washington, who subscribe to the notion that the Marines lead the way for diplomats. (He was a Marine himself once.)
But Kerry did not realise that the ground beneath the American feet had shifted in the Middle East. The US’ relations with Turkey as well as Saudi Arabia, the two key regional powers who fuelled Syrian conflict, are today embittered to the point that Washington is playing solo in the amphitheatre although the orchestra has walked out on the conductor. (Sabah )
What intrigues me is why Kerry wants only the Russian and Syrian leaders to be tried for war crimes. Why not Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei as well, who commands the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps? But then, Kerry cannot utter that four-letter word – Iran – because the engagement with that country is supposed to be the finest legacy of Obama presidency. Yet, had it not been for the IRGC, which sacrificed so heavily in blood and treasure, the Syrian government could never have gained the upper hand in the fighting. (Times of Israel )
The third fascinating aspect of Kerry’s apocalyptic remark is that he seems to suggest that the US still intends to win the war in Syria. After all, it is a consistent trait of history that the winner dispatches the defeated to the war crimes tribunal – be it Slobodan Milosevic or Saddam Hussein.
Put differently, does Kerry mean that the US intends to defeat Russia in a war? Is it his prognosis that World War III is round the corner? Doesn’t he comprehend that the total annihilation of his own country in a nuclear showdown with Russia would make all this talk about war crimes irrelevant?
Kerry must be feeling frustrated that the Nobel went to the Columbian president! What a way to end a distinguished career in politics and diplomacy when there is no grand recognition for the good work done! Kerry leaves the stage of international diplomacy an embittered man.
Lavrov is unlikely to respond. What can he say, after all? Kerry overreached to reverse the tide of history and the result was fairly predictable. No matter his valiant attempts, he couldn’t erase the geopolitical reality that the US is a power in retreat. Not only in the Middle East, but also in Asia-Pacific.
The sight of a superpower walking into the sunset is never a pleasant sight. It was the case with Rome, Byzantines, Spain, Portugal, France, Britain. Look at the latest tiding from the South China Sea. (Wall Street Journal )
It is hard to imagine a more resilient, more heroic nation than Syria!
With only 17 million inhabitants (according to the 2014 estimate), Syria is now facing the mightiest coalition on Earth – a coalition that consists of virtually all traditional Western colonialist and neo-colonialist nations.
It is also facing some of the cruelest and deadliest inventions of the West – the extremist and murderous post- and pseudo-Islamic groupings, similar to those that were already unleashed against the Soviet Union during the war in Afghanistan.
Because of the tremendous determination of its people, Syria is still standing! But it is standing against all odds. Its Golan Heights are illegally occupied by Israel, its borders constantly violated by the Turkish military, and by the West’s ‘special forces’ and air force.
Syria’s “political opposition” was created, then groomed and financed by the United States and Europe, in the style of “Color Revolutions”, as has happened in all other socialist countries that the West has been trying to destabilize and return under its deadly rule. Millions of Syrian people have been, during the last six deadly years, terrorized, slaughtered and intimidated by jihadi cadres, implanted by the West and its regional allies: Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Israel and others.
It is a terrible and uneven fight! Some of the greatest historical cities on Earth, like Aleppo and Palmira, now lie in ruins and ashes. What the European Christian crusaders failed to fully destroy, is now collapsing under the imperialist onslaught. Like everywhere else on Earth, everything that dares to struggle against Western colonialism is being consistently devastated and burned. Almost everyone who resists is mercilessly slaughtered. Hundreds of thousands of Syrian people have already lost their lives. And with each new day, the awful count is rising.
But Syria is standing!
5 million Syrian people have already been forced to leave their country. Now they are being scattered all over the Middle East: throughout Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, and Turkey. Some have even gone as far as Europe, Canada and Chile.
How much more can one country endure?
And how can the rest of the world just stand by and watch as it is put through hell?
The answer is obvious: the rest of the world does not know; it does not understand! The propaganda coming out of the Western mass media outlets and indoctrination-spreading institutions is so thorough, so professional, that to most people all over the world everything related to Syria appears to be blurry, murky, and incredibly complex. President al-Assad is demonized on a daily basis. Heroic resistance is called the “regime’s brutal actions”, pro-western terror groups are described as “moderate opposition.”
In reality, Syria is suffering because it is refusing to kneel; because it is unwilling to prostitute itself; because it will never beg its torturers to stop, allowing them to grab everything above and under the surface.
The Empire never forgives disobedience. Its fundamentalist terror methods are the most brutal ever invented and implemented on Earth.
All around Syria, countries already lie in ashes. The Middle East hardly exists, anymore. And most of the Syrian people understand: it is perhaps better to die standing, than to live in shackles, on one’s knees, controlled by the kleptomaniacal Western colonialist states!
The more terrible the terror that the West is spreading worldwide in general and in this part of the world in particular, the more vicious its vitriolic propaganda is, the brainwashing indoctrination that flows incessantly from London, New York and Paris.
If one watches the BBC, there is no hint of objectivity left, anymore. The ranks are closed and the West is united in its final drive to discredit absolutely everything that is still fighting for survival, against its global terrorist exploits.
President al-Assad of Syria, the heroic Syrian army and the closest Syria’s allies – Russia and Iran – are being relentlessly demonized, as if it were them who began that monstrous war! And Hezbollah, which is fighting countless epic battles against the ISIS, sits firmly on the West’s terrorist list.
Everything seems to be twisted and perverted, upside down.
But what really should one expect from the expansionist hordes, from the bastions of imperialism? Or has the British (or French) propaganda been any different, when their colonialist countries have for centuries been grabbing and devastating countless foreign states and territories, slaughtering hundreds of millions of innocent people? Wasn’t anyone who resisted Western conquest always thoroughly ridiculed and demonized?
Countries like UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Spain, Portugal and others, have centuries of experience in how to humiliate victims, how to justify their own heinous acts, how to brainwash their own populations and even some of their victims! And the United States, the direct product of Europe, its muscular offspring, is just using the same, only a bit more vulgar, propaganda tactics.
Nothing rational and objective can be expected from the people of Europe or North America, anymore. Except for a few of those insignificant protests and rebellious acts, the Western population is in a total slumber, indifferent towards the horrors that are being administered by its regime all over the globe. There is hardly any pressure to stop acts of terror against Syria. The only thing that seems to matter to Europeans is how to stop the flow of refugees from the devastated countries.
What a shame! What a thorough shame, people of Europe and North America! Your regime is murdering millions, in one country after another, and you are not even capable of recognizing what goes on… instead you are blaming the victims and those rushing to their rescue!
Now your biggest enemy is Russia. Because Russia (same as China) is clearly unwilling to dance to your fatal tune! Because Russia, for many decades, stood by almost all oppressed countries, and supported the de-colonization of the world, in all of its corners. Like China, Cuba and North Korea have always done.
Russia is now defending Syria. Not because it needs natural resources, not because it wants to plunder. It is doing so simply because it is right thing to do. It does it because if the world is abandoned fully to Western imperialism, there will actually soon be no world at all, or at least there will be no world worth inhabiting!
“Our country is a socialist country. For us it’s more important to consider the benefits to the entire nation than to particular individuals. I have spent more than 50 years dedicating my life to education, which is the backbone of our country, especially now… Sometimes I feel like quitting my job and returning to teaching at Damascus University, but I know that I am still needed where I am now,” I was told by Dr. Farah Motlak, Deputy Minister of Education of the Syrian Arab Republic.
We met in Cairo, Egypt, at a regional conference. I asked him about the Western propaganda against his country. He replied, shaking his head:
“I am not even angry… I am just endlessly sad. The media attacks; the propaganda that is pouring from the West is clearly designed to destroy our country. But we have hope, and we will continue our struggle.”
The international meetings and conferences clearly show how divided even the Arab world is itself. Syria is a symbol. To some, it is a symbol of resilience, of heroism. To others, mainly to those who are funded and consequently conditioned by the West, it represents everything that is evil.
But Egypt itself (where I’m writing this essay), just three years after the pro-Western military coup, is in ruins. Economically it has become a basket case. It is completely devastated, socially.
Of course its destruction is on a “lighter scale”, compared to Iraq, Libya or Yemen. But it is still bad enough: during the coup in 2013, at least 1,000 but most likely 2,000 people were murdered by the junta, while tens of thousands were injured. An estimated 10,000 people are now in prisons all over the country; most of them in terrible conditions; many are being tortured, women prisoners are habitually raped.
“The counter revolution has triumphed,” explained Dr. Mohammed Shafik, a member of the Revolutionary Socialist Movement. “All opposition parties and organizations have been squashed. Thousands of revolutionaries have been imprisoned; hundreds executed by court orders or liquidated by the police… Neoliberalism is taking hold… people are suffering.”
But Western propaganda shows no appetite for criticizing the Egyptian military junta. It is, after all, essentially pro-Western; it is capitalist and to a great extent it is submissive to the Empire and to its allies, including Israel and Saudi Arabia.
As with almost all ‘client’ states of the West, Egypt will never be able to truly improve the lives of the majority of its citizens. The country is already stuck deeply and has been, for decades, in a perpetual social slumber. Those benefiting from the situation are the Western powers and their regional allies, as well as the servile Egyptian elites and the grotesquely colossal, omnipotent military.
If Syria were to surrender, the Egyptian scenario would be ‘the best’ it could hope for. But most likely, it would meet the terrible fate of Iraq or Libya.
62 Syrian soldiers were reported killed in a U.S.-led coalition airstrike on the Syrian military base Deir el-Zour, on September 17, in Eastern Syria.
The planes destroyed the base housing soldiers that were involved in a battle with ISIS. Almost immediately, the ISIS took over the hill and the area, in what appeared to be a clearly coordinated operation between the West and the “Islamic State”, against the Syrian government forces.
A few days later, a humanitarian convoy was hit near the city of Aleppo. Without presenting any evidence, the West immediately pointed a finger at the Syrian government and Russia. But the Russian Ministry of Defense released images of a US predator drone operating in the area during the attack, and called for a thorough investigation.
The war goes on. The suffering of Syrian people continues.
There is one simple point that is being constantly overlooked by the West:
The legitimate government of Syria invited Russia, its close ally. It asked Moscow for help, to fight ISIS and other terrorist groups implanted by the West and its allies.
Nobody invited the West!
Or perhaps those groups that the West itself created and supported inside Syria invited it?
Both Syrian government forces and Russia are fighting brutal foreign invaders who are attempting to destroy one of the oldest nations on Earth and take control over the entire Middle East.
Syria is at the frontline of the battle against Western imperialism. And so is Russia. And also Iran, while China is joining!
The sacrifice made by the Syrian people is tremendous. But against all odds, the deadly advance of the imperialists may be stopped here, after all.
As I wrote earlier, the price may be terrible. Aleppo is turning into the Middle-Eastern Stalingrad. But the heroic Syrian nation has made its choice: it will fight brutal and barbaric invaders, as it fought the crusaders under the leadership of great Sultan Saladin.
The alternative would be slavery, something unacceptable for the Syrian people!
A senior Turkish official says Ankara’s military incursion into Syria could last for years if necessary.
Turkish troops entered the Syrian territory in a sudden incursion which resulted in the occupation of Jarablus after Daesh left the city without resistance earlier this month.
Turkey has indicated that its eyes were now set on the Syrian city of Raqqah which is controlled by Daesh.
The senior Turkish official said on Friday a planned US offensive to retake Raqqah using Kurdish militia fighters would trigger an ethnic conflict there.
He said driving out Daesh from the Syrian city of al-Bab is also among the targets of Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria.
On Sunday, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey was planning to send troops deeper into Syrian territory to establish what it calls a safe zone.
Damascus has condemned the incursion, denouncing it as a “flagrant breach” of its sovereignty.
Syria’s envoy to the UN Bashar Ja’afari said last week Turkey, along with the US and Israel, have moved from a proxy war to a “personal” one on the Arab state.
Turkey and Israel will mutually name ambassadors within 10 days as part of the normalization of ties, the Turkish official said.
Turkey says it is “more than ready” to work with Russia and Iran on a Syrian ceasefire and the delivery of humanitarian aid to the war-torn country.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday he discussed the issues of ceasefire and humanitarian aid with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.
“We are discussing the same issues with our ally Russia,” he said.
“We have to try harder for a ceasefire and political resolution. If Russia is prepared to cooperate with us on the ceasefire and humanitarian aid, we are more than ready,” he said.
Zarif had stopped in Ankara on Wednesday on his way back to Tehran from New York, where he attended the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
He held closed-door talks with Cavusoglu and Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim during the visit.
An unnamed Turkish diplomatic source said the conflict in Syria was among topics on the agenda of Zarif’s discussions.
This is the third round of talks between the Iranian and Turkish foreign ministers over the past two months.
Iran and Turkey differ over the crisis in Syria. Turkey supports militants, while Iran and Russia assist the Syrian government in its fight against foreign-backed terrorist groups, including Daesh.
Russia has been conducting airstrikes against Daesh and other terrorist groups in Syria at the Syrian government’s request since September 2015. Iran has also been providing advisory assistance to the Syrian government.
On Thursday, Russia said there is a trend for cooperation with Turkey on Syria to be “constructive” now that Moscow and Ankara are mending their ties.
“If need be, joint actions are possible,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, without elaborating.
Earlier this month, Turkish troops entered the Syrian territory in a sudden incursion which resulted in the occupation of Jarablus after Daesh left the city without resistance.
On Sunday, Cavusoglu said Turkey was planning to send troops deeper into Syrian territory to establish what it calls a safe zone.
Kurdish witnesses said on Wednesday Turkey had killed six children and three women in an airstrike in the Syrian border town of Kahila.
Russia has denounced US projection of possible attacks on Russian cities by terrorists fighting in Syria, saying the statement amounts to an invitation to terrorism.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was outraged on Thursday after US State Department spokesman John Kirby said terrorists in Syria could launch attacks “against Russian interests, perhaps even Russian cities.”
“We cannot interpret this as anything else apart from the current US administration’s de facto support for terrorism,” Ryabkov was quoted as saying.
“These thinly disguised invitations to use terrorism as a weapon against Russia show the political depths the current US administration has stooped to in its approach to the Middle East and specifically to Syria.”
Russia has been supporting the Syrian government in its push to take back Aleppo from Takfiri terrorists. The US also carries out airstrikes as well as operations on the ground through its special forces against what it calls Daesh targets.
However, with Syrian advances on Aleppo gaining momentum, US officials said on Wednesday that Washington had begun considering tougher responses to the assault on Aleppo, including military options.
Syrian army advances were interrupted first when the US brokered a ceasefire agreement with the Russians. The truce collapsed after US aircraft bombed Syrian army positions in Dayr al-Zawr, killing 82 soldiers.
The airstrike, which helped Daesh briefly overrun government positions in the area, was characterized by Washington as unintentional but Syria rejected the allegation.
“How could they (Daesh) know that the Americans are going to attack that position in order to gather their militants to attack right away and to capture it one hour after the strike?” Assad asked during an interview with the Associated Press last week.
Supply of new weapons
On Wednesday, a militant commander said foreign states have given extremists surface-to-surface Grad rockets of a type not previously supplied to them in response to the Aleppo offensive.
The Grad rockets with a range of 22 km and 40 km have been supplied in “excellent quantities” and will be used on battlefronts in Aleppo, Hama and the coastal region, militant commander Colonel Fares al-Bayoush told Reuters.
While Grad missiles have previously been supplied to militants, Bayoush said it was the first time this particular type had been delivered. Militants had previous stocks of the rocket captured from army stores, he added.
The Reuters news agency this week reported anonymous US officials as saying that the Obama administration was considering allowing Qatar and Saudi Arabia to arm militants with man-portable missiles.
The Middle East Eye news portal cited a source close to militants as saying that the US was resolved to prevent the fall of Aleppo and was preparing to allow its Persian Gulf allies to flood the city with shoulder-fired, anti-aircraft missiles.
“The US confirmed the green light to begin sending them to rebels through supply routes still open through Jordan and Turkey,” the source said.
“The US won’t let Aleppo fall. We can expect to see Syrian helicopters falling from the sky within weeks.”
On Wednesday, the US State Department warned it was considering the suspension of “bilateral engagement” in Syria “unless Russia takes immediate steps to end the assault on Aleppo and restore the cessation of hostilities.”
Ryabkov said Moscow saw no alternative to the original US-Russia plan to try to get a ceasefire in Syria and that Washington should focus on implementing it.
He said a seven-day ceasefire plan proposed by the United States was unacceptable however and that Moscow was proposing a 48-hour “humanitarian pause” in Aleppo instead.
Support for Fateh al-Sham Front
Meanwhile, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday US failure to separate “moderate” militants from terrorists is blocking the entire package of agreements.
Under the agreement, the US had undertaken to segregate the militants under its support from Takfiri groups such as the al-Qaeda-linked Fatah al-Sham Front but it has dragged its foot on the plan.
On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told US Secretary of State John Kerry during a phone conversation that Fateh al-Sham Front had been receiving foreign support and American weapons.
In an earlier interview with German-language daily Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, a Fateh al-Sham commander identified only as Abu al-Ezz confirmed that the US is supporting the terror group, saying, “The Americans are on our side.”
In his conversation with Kerry, “Lavrov drew attention to the fact that a number of anti-government units which Washington calls moderate… were instead merging with Jabhat Fateh al-Sham,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
Earlier this year, the US blocked a Russian move in the United Nations to blacklist Ahrar al-Sham militants as a terrorist group.
One explanation why U.S. policies serve no national interests
On September 9th the Washington Post featured a front page article describing how the Defense Department had used warplanes to attack targets and kill suspected militants in six countries over the Labor Day weekend. The article was celebratory, citing Pentagon officials who boasted of the ability to engage “multiple targets” anywhere in the world in what has become a “permanent war.” The article did not mention that the United States is not currently at war with any of the six target countries and made no attempt to make a case that the men and women who were killed actually threatened the U.S. or American citizens.
Actual American interests in fighting a war without limits and without an end were not described. They never are. Indeed, in the U.S. and elsewhere many citizens often wonder how certain government policies like Washington’s war on terror can persist in spite of widespread popular opposition or clear perceptions that they are either ineffective or even harmful. This persistence of policies regarding which there is no debate is sometimes attributed to a “deep state.”
The phrase “deep state” originated in and was often applied to Turkey, in Turkish “Derin Devlet,” where the nation’s security services and governing elite traditionally pursued the same chauvinistic and inward-looking agenda both domestically and in foreign affairs no matter who was prime minister.
In countries where a deep state dominates, real democracy and rule of law are inevitably the first victims. A deep state like Turkey’s is traditionally organized around a center of official and publicly accepted power, which means it often includes senior government officials, the police and intelligence services as well as the military. For the police and intelligence agencies the propensity to operate in secret is a sine qua non for the deep state as it provides cover for the maintenance of relationships that under other circumstances would be considered suspect or even illegal.
It has been claimed that deep state activities in Turkey are frequently conducted through connivance with politicians who are able to provide cover for the activity, with corporate interests and sometimes even with criminal groups, which can operate across borders and help in the mundane tasks of political corruption to include money laundering. This connection of political power with the ability to operate under the radar and generate considerable cash flows are characteristic of deep state.
As all governments for sometimes good reasons engage in concealment of their more questionable activities or even resort to out and out deception, one must ask how the deep state differs. While an elected government might sometimes engage in activity that is legally or morally questionable there are normally some checks and balances in place to limit resort to such activity as well as periodic elections to repudiate what is done. For players in the deep state, there are no accountability and no legal limits and everything is based on self-interest justified through assertion of patriotism and the national interest if they are ever challenged.
Every country has a deep state of some kind even if it goes by another name. “The Establishment” or “old boys’ network” was widely recognized in twentieth century Britain. “Establishment” has often also been used in the United States, describing a community of shared values and interests that has evolved post-Second World War from the Washington-New York axis of senior government officials and financial services executives. They together constitute a group that claims to know what is “best” for the country and act accordingly, no matter who sits in the White House. They generally operate in the shadows but occasionally surface and become public, as when 50 foreign so-called policy experts or former senior officials write letters staking out political positions, as has been occurring recently. The “experts” are currently weighing in to both support and fund the campaign of Hillary Clinton, who, they believe, shares their views and priorities.
The deep state principle should sound familiar to Americans who have been following political developments over the past twenty years. For the deep state to be effective it must be intimately associated with the development or pre-existence of a national security state. There must also be a perception that the nation is in peril, justifying extraordinary measures undertaken by self-described patriots to preserve life and property of the citizenry. Those measures are generically conservative in nature, intended to protect the status quo with the implication that change is dangerous.
Those requirements certainly prevail in post 9/11 America and also feed the other essential component of the deep state, that the control should work secretly or at least under the radar. Consider for a moment how Washington operates. There is gridlock in Congress and the legislature opposes nearly everything that the White House supports. Nevertheless, certain things happen seemingly without any discussion, including the bipartisan, unconstitutional and extremely dangerous assumption of increased executive authority by the White House.
As the Post article demonstrates, there is also widespread acceptance by our country’s elites of the fiction that America is threatened and that Washington has a right to intervene preemptively anywhere in the world at any time. Unpopular and unconstitutional wars continue in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq while the American president routinely claims the meaningless title “leader of the free world” even as he threatens countries that do not adhere to norms dictated by Washington. In the case of Russia, some American leaders actually believe a potentially nuclear war can be won and should be considered while at least one general has taken steps to bring about such a conflict.
Meanwhile both targeted citizens and often innocent foreigners who fit profiles are assassinated by drones without any legal process or framework. Lying to start a war as well as the war crimes committed by U.S. troops and contractors on far flung battlefields including torture and rendition are rarely investigated and punishment of any kind is so rare as to be remarkable when it does occur.
Here at home banks are bailed out and corporate interests are protected by law. Huge multi-year defense contracts are approved for ships and planes that are both vulnerable and money pits. The public is routinely surveilled, citizens are imprisoned without being charged or are tried by military tribunals, the government increasingly cites state secrets privilege to conceal its actions and whistleblowers are punished with prison. America the warlike predatory capitalist operating with little interference or input from the citizenry might be considered a virtual definition of deep state.
Some observers believe that the deep state is driven by the “Washington Consensus,” a subset of the “American exceptionalism” meme. It is plausible to consider it a 1950s creation, the end product of the “military industrial complex” that Dwight Eisenhower warned about, but some believe its infrastructure was actually put in place through the passage of the Federal Reserve Act prior to the First World War. Several years after signing the bill, Woodrow Wilson reportedly lamented “We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated governments in the civilized world, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men.”
As I have noted, America’s deep state is something of a hybrid creature that operates along a New York to Washington axis. Where the Turks sometimes engage in unambiguous criminal activity like drug trafficking to fund themselves the Washington elite instead turns to the banksters, lobbyists and defense contractors, operating much more in the open and, ostensibly, legally. U.S. style deep state includes all the obvious parties, both public and private, who benefit from the status quo to include key players in the police and intelligence agencies, the military, the treasury and justice departments and in the judiciary. It is structured to materially reward those who play along with the charade and the glue to accomplish that comes ultimately from Wall Street. “Financial services” might well be considered the epicenter of the entire process. Even though government is needed to implement desired policies, the banksters comprise the truly essential element, capable of providing genuine rewards for compliance. As corporate interests increasingly own the media, little dissent comes from the Fourth Estate as the process plays out while many of the proliferating Washington think tanks that provide deep state “intellectual” credibility are similarly funded by defense contractors.
The cross fertilization that is essential to make the system work takes place through the famous revolving door whereby senior government officials enter the private sector at a high level. In some cases the door revolves a number of times, with officials leaving government before returning in an even more elevated position. This has been characteristic of the rise of the so-called neoconservatives. Along the way, those select individuals are protected, promoted and groomed for bigger things. The senior government officials, ex-generals, and high level intelligence operatives who participate find themselves with multi-million dollar homes for their retirement years, cushioned by a tidy pile of investments.
The deep state in American is completely corrupt because it exists to sell out the public interest and it includes both major political parties as well as government officials. Politicians like the Clintons who leave the White House “broke” and accumulate more than $100 million in a few years exemplify how it rewards its friends while a bloated Pentagon churns out hundreds of unneeded flag officers who receive munificent pensions and benefits for the rest of their lives. And no one is punished, ever. Disgraced former general and CIA Director David Petraeus is now a partner at the KKR private equity firm even though he knows nothing about financial services. More recently, former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell, who supports Hillary and is publicly advocating assassinating Russians and Iranians, has become a Senior Counselor at Clinton-linked Beacon Global Strategies. Both Petraeus and Morell are being rewarded for their loyalty to the system.
What makes the deep state so successful? It wins no matter who is in power by creating bipartisan supported money pits within the system. Unending wars and simmering though hard to define threats together invite more spending on national security and make for good business. Monetizing the completely unnecessary and hideously expensive global war on terror benefits the senior government officials, beltway industries and financial services that feed off it. Because it is essential to keep the money flowing, the deep state persists in promoting policies that otherwise make no sense, to include the unwinnable wars currently enjoying marquee status in Iraq/Syria and Afghanistan. The deep state knows that a fearmongered public will buy its product and does not even have to make much of an effort to sell it.
The United States of America is not exactly deep state Turkey but to be sure any democracy can be subverted by particular interests hiding behind the mask of patriotism buttressed by phony international threats. Ordinary Americans frequently ask why politicians and government officials appear to be so obtuse, rarely recognizing what is actually occurring in the country. That is partly due to the fact that the political class lives in a bubble of its own creation but it might also be because many of America’s leaders actually accept and benefit from the fact that there is an unelected, un-appointed and unaccountable presence within the system that actually manages what is taking place from behind the scenes. That would be the American deep state.
[This article is a lightly edited version of a paper presented at the Ron Paul Institute’s conference on peace and prosperity held on September 10, 2016 in Dulles, Virginia]
Czech Ambassador in Syria: What happened in Syria over the past five years has nothing to do with revolution
The Czech Ambassador in Damascus Eva Filipi has stressed that what happened in Syria over the past five years was not a “revolution”, rather, it was an attempt by some countries to implement their agendas which proved to be unachievable in Syria.
In her presentation during a debate on the current developments in the Middle East organized by the Czech Institute 2080, Filipi said “what is going on in Syria is a proxy regional and international war”. She added that “though many strategic experts in the West had realized what kind of situation will be created in Syria, western countries insisted to press ahead with their schemes to impose the changes they want.”
She went on to say that the Turkish and Qatari regimes wanted from the very beginning to coercively impose the “Muslim Brotherhood” as a major political player and partner in Syria, which is an issue that has been strongly rejected by Syria, therefore these two regimes stood against the Syrian government.”
She pointed out that the so-called Syrian “opposition” is still divided and it hasn’t been able to come to an agreement for more than five years, so there is no hope to reach a compromise with such an opposition. Besides, the opposition abroad is backed by some countries and it is used to defend the interests of these countries.
Filipi warned that Qatar and Saudi Arabia are using money to influence Western countries and lead them to adopt stances that support the Qatari and Saudi policies.
She wondered how western countries can make alliance with such a radical regime like Saudi Arabia.
Lebanese daily Assafir has recently published an article by journalist Mohammad Ballout. The article states that preparations and arrangements for an Assad-Erdogan meeting had begun since Erdogan’s visit to St. Petersburg on August 9th.
Interestingly, Erdogan’s visit also coincided with the visit of a senior Syrian delegation that included important security officials, including the head of the Syrian National Bureau General Ali Mamlouk, one of Assad’s most trusted advisors.
The article also states that the delegation’s visit taking place during Erdogan’s was no mere coincidence, and points to a very sharp turn that is about to take place in the Syrian War, in what is now its 5-year run.
The date of the final meeting between the two will apparently be set by General Mamlouk in his upcoming visit to Russia this Tuesday, whereat he is expected to meet with Russian and Turkish officials, whereas the actual agenda of the meet is to be finalized by Hakan Fidan, head of Turkish Intelligence.
The settlement proposed by Russia would include a tripartite national unity government that would include loyalists, independents, and representatives from the moderate Syrian opposition. They also offered the Saudis with an acceptable “out” by ruling out any major role to be played by Iran in the process.
The article also states that the Syrian delegation refused Turkey’s proposition of a sectarian division of government (akin to Lebanon), and instead proposed that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would still preside over the most important ministries: Interior, Justice, Finance, Foreign Affairs, and Defense, whereas executive ministries would be shared with the opposition and the independents. Three vice presidents will also be selected from the three factions.
It has so also been agreed that after an 18-month period, some key constitutional amendments must take place (provided they do not alter any presidential powers), to be later followed by legislative and presidential elections.
Finally, The Syrian delegation has also made commitments to issue a general amnesty for all military defectors, provided they do not partake in any activities against the Syrian army.
Second Turkish intervention into Syria; ISIS hands border town of Al-Rai over to Turkish army and affiliated groups
Part two of the theater play that began with the Turkish military’s occupation of Jarablus ten days ago continued today in the small border town of Al-Rai to the west.
Twelve Turkish tanks and a number of armored vehicles led a staged military offensive that began at around 13:30 local time on the afternoon of Saturday, September 3. Ground forces of the Turkish army crossed the border into Syria from Salahan village in Elbeyli district of Kilis province.
Local sources report that there has been no fighting in the town since the beginning of the military operation and that militants of Al-Qaeda affiliated groups also entered the town.
As the Turkish army pretends to be engaged in clashes with ISIS, rockets were earlier fired from the Al-Rai area into the Turkish city of Kilis, located northwest of Al-Rai five km from the Syrian border. Some reports say the rocket attack wounded some civilians [Anadolu Agency’s report on the rockets is here].
A larger target of the Turkish operation is the small city of Al-Bab, to the south of al-Rai. This is part of Turkey’s aim of separating the Kurdish-populated and controlled cantons east of the Euphrates River from the Afrin region in the west.
In mid-August, the Syrian Democratic Forces announced the formation of a military council of Al-Bab in anticipation of a drive to liberate the city from ISIS control. This was to follow the success of the hard battle in July and early August to liberate Manbij from ISIS. Manbij lies halfway between Jarablus and Al-Bab.
The recent Turkish coup attempt marks a turning point in NATO’s war on Syria. An emerging empire and portal to the orient, Turkey has always played a key role in NATO’s ‘Drang Nach Osten’- the drive to encircle Russia, destroy its client-states Syria and Ukraine and serve as a bulwark against other emerging powers such as Iran. But now it seems Turkey may no longer be carrying out its designated role.
Stratfor director George Friedman claims Turkey is now a world power, whose military is more powerful than the French or British. The US strategy for Europe was to force Turkish entry into the EU – most recently through weapons of mass migration. The policy worked in Turkey’s favour. But the British decision to exit the European Union changed the balance of power. Moscow took the opportunity to extend the hand of friendship once more to Ankara. Just before last week’s coup attempt, there were reports of a possible detente between Turkey and Syria.
US/Turkish relations have soured considerably since 2013 when U.S-based billionaire Fetullah Gulen fomented the Gesi Park protest movement against the Erdoğan regime. Though there was certainly popular discontent in the country with Erdoğan’s Islamisation policies and his support for terrorism in Syria, the Gesi Park protests were really about pushing Gulen’s attempt to destabilise the regime and take over. Fethullah Gulen is the founder of a vast empire of private prep schools throughout the world. He promotes an extremist form of Islam.
Though originally close to Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party, Gulen’s movement Hizmat (service) is less nationalist and therefore more amenable to US/Zionist interests. The Gulenist network operates as a fifth column in Turkey, a para-state operating at the highest levels of the military, intelligence and judicial apparatuses. I was asked by Russian state media RT to comment on the Turkish shooting down of a Russian jet in November 2015. I said then that the Turkish government was acting against the national interest. It has since transpired that the attack was carried out by Gulenist military personnel, who have been prosecuted for the crime. President Erdoğan recently apologised to Russian President Vladimir Putin for the attack. In fact, Turkey had indicated on July 13th that it intended to normalise relations with Syria, thus ending the war against Assad. Contacts between Ankara and Damascus have been growing in recent months and it now looks like Russia and Turkey may have mended relations. Southstream, Russia’s plan to pipe oil to Europe through Turkey, had to be abandoned last year due to US pressure on Ankara. There is now a possibility of renegotiation recommencing between Moscow and Ankara. Recent Turkish/Iranian contacts also indicate that the Kurdish question is forcing Ankara to recalibrate its foreign policy.
The geopolitical theories of Greek Turkologist Dmitiry Kitsikis have had a major influence on Turkish foreign policy. Kitsikis is famous for promoting the notion of Turkey as a civilisation-state which naturally encompasses the region stretching from North Africa, through the Balkans and Eastern Europe; Kitsikis refers to this as the intermediate region. Turkey’s previous ‘good neighbourly’ policy seemed to be in accordance with Kitsikian geopolitics but was sabotaged by Ankara’s collaboration with U.S. chaos strategy in the Middle East.
U.S. policy towards Turkey has been to support the regime as a strong regional power to wield against Russia while at the same time supporting the Kurdish YPG (people’s defence units) in Syria. US support for the Kurds is part of the long-term geopolitical remodelling of the region – the creation of what former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice at the start of the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings in 2011 referred to as the “New Middle East”. The U.S and Israel want to carve out a Kurdistan in the region, which would become a client-state of Israel; thus providing the Zionist regime with an effective proxy army against its Arab enemies, once the Zionist Da’esh-fomented genocide has created the Lebensraum.
Erdoğan’s ambitions of reviving the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East threatens U.S. hegemony. The United States Navy rules the waves. The U.S will not allow another major maritime power to threaten its global control. Rapid economic growth and the paying off of its IMF debt in 2013 have seen Turkey emerge more and more as a strategic regional power with increasing independence and political assertiveness. Turkish investment in Africa has increased more than ten-fold since 2000. The Turks have been investing heavily in Somalia and have opened embassies all over Africa. Turkey is selling the notion of ‘virtuous power’ in Africa with infrastructural development projects and investments designed to compete with China and the United States. Turkish involvement in Somalia has turned the East African nation into a veritable client-state of the emerging Turkish Empire. In 2015, Turkey opened a military base in Somalia. Turkey will henceforth have a strategic reach in the Gulf of Aden, one of the most important oil choke-points in the world. Turkey also has plans to establish military bases in Azerbaijan, Qatar and Georgia.
Turkey also has a strategic relationship with Ethiopia where Chinese imperialism is currently outsourcing much of its industry. The result has been the U.S-backed ‘Oromo protest’ movement. The Turkish regime has been attempting to oust the presence of the Gulenist movement in many African countries by offering to supply Turkish state funds for education. A recent statement by a Turkish government spokesman alluded to Ankara’s desire to counter Western ‘neo-colonial’ interests in Africa. The statement clearly shows that Turkey intends to join the new ‘scramble for Africa’ as part of neo-ottoman imperialism.
Turkey’s drive for world power status, together with the decline of Europe as a political entity, means that Ankara will continue to flex its muscles in the international arena. The French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has said that Turkey is no longer a reliable partner in NATO’s fight against the Islamic State. Of course, Turkey was never a partner in the war against the Islamic State as the Turkish regime has been arming and training the Islamic State terrorists along with its NATO partners and has been caught in flagrante delicto on several occasions. But what the French Foreign Minister’s remarks mean is that Turkey may no longer be as sanguine in its support for terrorism in Syria, due to the West’s support for the Kurds, rapprochement with Moscow and Damascus, and now more than ever after the failed U.S.-backed coup attempt.
That the United States was behind the coup attempt there is little doubt, though some prominent analysts such as Thierry Meyssan disagree that the coup was orchestrated by Gulenists. Fetullah Gulen is known to be close to the CIA and the U.S. obmutescence during the coup was typical of standard procedure during U.S. covert regime change operations. While Erdoğan is unquestionably a war criminal, who is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents in Syria and Libya, nonetheless, as in the case of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, the Turkish leader seems to have fallen out of favour in the West. The media have already begun the demonisation process, showing pictures of his opulent palaces etc.
Turkey will pay dearly for the folly of abandoning it’s ‘good neighbourly’ regional policy, which showed some promise until 2011. It had a glorious opportunity then to exercise ‘virtuous power’. Now, the country could be facing civil war. The purge of Gulenists in the Turkish regime has already led to hundreds of arrests of top military and government personnel. If Turkey is to emerge as a regional empire, it will have to leave the Zionist axis and find a solution to the Kurdish question in conjunction with Syria and Russia. It now looks like previous plans agreed upon by Ankara and Paris to carve out a Kurdish state in Northern Syria may be abandoned. As the French escalate bombing of Raqqa in Syria in the wake of the Nice terrorist psyops, Turkey is facing a real state of emergency.
The situation is further complicated by Israel’s stance towards the Turkish coup attempt and its aftermath. The Turkish regime thanked Israel for its help quashing the coup. Furthermore, relations between Tel Aviv and Ankara have improved, in spite of the current dispute with Washington. One should not overlook the fact that, although the Israeli Lobby exerts considerable control over U.S. foreign policy, Israel often adopts a friendlier attitude to many of America’s so-called enemies. Israel’s relationship with Belarus has been generally good, in spite of repeated U.S. aggression. Israel’s relationship with Azerbaijan for has been good, in spite of major diplomatic rows with the U.S, Israeli/Russian relations are far better than Moscow’s relationship with Washington. Israel has always had a more nuanced oriental policy than the U.S. The Israelis are masters at playing both sides off each other in conflicts. During the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s, the U.S. supported Saddam Hussein’s regime while Israel covertly supplied Iran with weapons on U.S. approval. The aforementioned Stratfor director George Friedman has said that the Iran/Iraq war would be a model for dealing with the rise of Turkey as a world power.
The United States cannot tolerate the emergence of a major maritime power like Turkey which, since the Cold War, has been used as a tool against Russia. Turkey’s Incirlik Airbase holds up to 80 percent of Washington’s nuclear arsenal in Europe. Ankara’s shift in foreign policy would signal the end of America’s drive for ‘full spectrum dominance, creating the conditions for a new imperial configuration- a geopolitical reconfiguration one could imagine as falling in with conjectures of a Moscow/Constantinople axis or ‘Third Rome’.
It is possible that the U.S. already sees that a reconfiguration of imperialist alliances is necessary with the influential former U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Bzrezinski advocating a detente in U.S. relations with Russia and China. What is clear is that the world imperialist system is going through seismic changes. What prospects these changes have for working-class liberation remain to be seen.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is to hold a series of high-profile meetings with Turkish, British and Saudi leaders, among others, as part of his schedule for attending a summit in China in early September.
Yury Ushakov, a Kremlin aide, told reporters on Tuesday that Putin will hold talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on September 3, when he is in Hangzhou, China, for the summit of the group of 20 world major economies, known as G20.
Ushakov said Putin’s meeting with Erdogan will take place as the “process of normalization of relations between the two countries is under way.”
Russia downgraded ties with Turkey last November, when Ankara shot down a Russian jet near the Syrian border. Relations began to improve in July after Ankara offered an apology as demanded by Putin. The two met this month in Russia, with reports suggesting they narrowed gaps on the conflict in Syria.
Ushakov said Putin will also hold a meeting with Saudi Arabia’s powerful deputy crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, to discuss the crisis in Syria. He would not elaborate but said the meeting will come on September 4, the day when the Russian president will also hold an important meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May to discuss a need for “a new impetus in bilateral relations.”
The official said a trilateral meeting of leaders from Russia, Germany and France, which had previously been agreed to discuss the conflict in Ukraine, was called off and instead Putin would meet separately with French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on September 4 and 5, respectively. He noted that the sensitive meeting on Ukraine was cancelled because of new tensions that have emerged over Crimea, a former Ukrainian territory which rejoined Russia following a referendum in 2015.
Putin will also hold a much-anticipated meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who will be in China as a guest to G20, Ushakov said.