Monday, August 29, 2016

Moskau reagiert auf Steinmeiers Aufruf zur Rüstungskontrolle

 29.08.2016(aktualisiert 12:37 29.08.2016 Russland bereitet Gegenvorschläge auf die jüngste Initiative des deutschen Außenministers Frank-Walter Steinmeier zu einem neuen Abkommen über die Rüstungskontrolle vor, schreibt die Zeitung „Iswestija“ am Montag. „Wenn einer der führenden europäischen Politiker für Vorsicht plädiert, sollten wir meines Erachtens genauso konkret darauf reagieren“, sagte der Vorsitzende des Auswärtigen Ausschusses im Föderationsrat (Parlamentsoberhaus), Konstantin Kossatschow. „Wir sollten einen Komplex von Initiativen erwägen, die die Basis für grundsätzliche Vereinbarungen im Bereich der Sicherheit und Rüstungskontrolle bilden könnten.“ Steinmeiers Motiv sei dem Senator klar: Die Gefahren für Europa seien heutzutage wirklich groß und realistisch. „Vertrauensmaßnahmen sind nicht nur nötig – für sie gibt es einfach keine Alternativen“, betonte Kossatschow. © REUTERS/ FABRIZIO BENSCH Gegen neuen Wettlauf: Steinmeier für Neustart in Rüstungskontrolle Steinmeier hatte in seinem jüngsten Beitrag für die „Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung“ zum Abschluss eines neuen Vertrages mit Russland über die Rüstungskontrolle aufgerufen, um eine Eskalation der Lage in Europa zu verhindern. Das wäre ihm zufolge „ein bewährtes Mittel für Transparenz, Risikovermeidung und Vertrauensbildung“. Der Vorsitzende des Verteidigungsausschusses in der Staatsduma (Russlands Parlamentsunterhaus), Wladimir Komojedow, zeigte sich seinerseits überzeugt, dass Moskau seine Streitkräfte in Übereinstimmung mit seinen nationalen Interessen entwickeln sollte. „Das Wort ‚Kontrolle‘ hat hier eine Schlüsselbedeutung. Ich habe nichts dagegen, dass die Seiten am Verhandlungstisch zusammenkommen, aber das Wort ‚Kontrolle‘ (über Rüstungen) gefällt mir gar nicht. Mit wem sollten wir über die Parität geschweige denn Kontrolle verhandeln? Mit der deutschen Bundeswehr, die in jeder Hinsicht schwächer als die russische Armee ist? Es gibt viel zu viele verantwortungslose Kontrollgremien. Alle wollen Russland kontrollieren, aber unsere Partner wollen nicht zu ihren Worten stehen: Sie schließen Verträge ab, die sie dann nicht erfüllen oder willkürlich novellieren“, so der Abgeordnete. © SPUTNIK/ MAXIM BLINOV Moskau zu Rüstungskontrolle-Vorwürfen: USA sollen sich um eigene Mängel kümmern „Denken Sie nur: Wir hatten alle unseren Verpflichtungen erfüllt, darunter alle sowjetischen Truppen aus Europa abgezogen, wobei man uns versprach, es würde keine Nato-Osterweiterung geben. Wurde dieses Versprechen aber gehalten? Die Amerikaner hatten 1972 mit uns den ABM-Vertrag abgeschlossen, traten aber später daraus einseitig aus. (…) Jetzt erzählt man uns wieder verschiedene Märchen, um uns auf die Knie zu zwingen und zu kontrollieren. Wir werden unsere Streitkräfte so entwickeln, wie es für den Schutz unserer Interessen bzw. der Interessen unserer Verbündeten und Partner in jeder Region der Welt nötig ist.“ Im Juni hatte Steinmeier die Nato-Manöver in Osteuropa bzw. im Ostseeraum kritisiert. Die Allianz sollte nach seiner Auffassung auf Säbelrasseln verzichten. © FLICKR/ DEFENCE IMAGES Deutscher Diplomat warnt vor Nato-Einsatz: „Der Welt droht schwere Fehlentwicklung“ Der Direktor des russischen Zentrums für Waffenhandelsanalysen und Mitglied des Gesellschaftsrates beim Verteidigungsministerium, Igor Korotschenko, ist der Meinung, dass Moskau die Initiativen des deutschen Chefdiplomaten gründlich prüfen und sich vergewissern sollte, dass dieses Dokument die Sicherheit und das Kräftegleichgewicht garantieren würde: „Russland wäre zu einem solchen Abkommen bereit, allerdings unter der Bedingung, dass es Gleichberechtigung vorsieht: dass die Sicherheit für alle gleich ist und dass die Nato-Truppen reduziert werden, die derzeit vier Mal so groß wie die russischen Streitkräfte sind.“

Mehr: http://de.sputniknews.com/zeitungen/20160829/312321481/warnstufe-orange-steinmeier.html

Sunday, August 28, 2016

West remembers 1991 Soviet coup anniversary for all the wrong reasons

Dmitry Babich
Dmitry Babich was born in Moscow, in 1970. He has worked for various media outlets for 25 years, including The Moscow News and RIA Novosti news agency. He is currently working as a political analyst at Sputnik International, and is a frequent guest on BBC, Al Jazeera, CNN commenting on international affairs and history.
Russia's President Boris Yeltsin, 2nd left, addresses the public in front of the Russian Council of Minister premises during the August 1991 coup © RIA Novosti
Once a year the Western media covers Russia with at least a semblance of respect and sympathy – that is August 19, the anniversary of the 1991 coup - but their reasoning for doing so is severely flawed. 
August 19, 1991 marks the day when the rule of an eight-member State Emergency Committee (GKChP) went into effect for less than three days, collapsing on August 21 after a confrontation with a crowd of protesters in central Moscow.
In the last two years, a consensus has established itself among both the Russian pro-Western “liberals” and the Western “pro-liberal” writers on Russia that this event in 1991 was the Russian variant of the “revolution of dignity.” That name had been originally coined for the bloody Maidan coup in Ukraine [The Ukrainian so-called “revolution of dignity” was a three-month long street fight in 2013-2014 that led to the ouster of the legally elected president Viktor Yanukovich; 13 policemen plus dozens of violent protesters were killed and Ukraine plunged into a civil war].
The US and European mainstream media (MSM) could not find a better way for exposing its lies and double standards. NYT’s writer Masha Gessen, for example, who had no experience of living in Russia before 1991, fails to understand the trap she gets herself into when she compares the Russian events of 1991 to the “velvet revolutions” in Eastern Europe, and when she argues that life in Russia now is similar to the life in the former Soviet Union.

Revered in the West, bemoaned in Russia

The problem is that both of these MSM-glorified “revolutions of dignity” are revered in the West, but they are deeply unpopular inside the former Soviet Union itself, especially in Russia. Why? Because both of these events led to the two greatest misfortunes in the life of the USSR’s Slavic heartland since the end of the World War II in 1945: the division of families and the crumbling of production as a result of the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, as well as the first major fallout between Eastern Slavic nations as a result of the violent “regime change” in Kiev in 2014.
Apolitical people in Russia and Ukraine may not remember the exact sequence of events during the coups in 1991 and 2014, but it would be nearly impossible to find a single Russian family that does not have bitter memories of the collapse of the USSR in 1991 and, likewise, would not be terrified by the war in Ukraine, which the violently installed anti-Russian regime in Kiev blames on “Russian aggression.”
A recent opinion poll, conducted in the framework of the project Sputnik-Opinion, revealed that 64 percent of Russians believed that life in the Soviet Union was better than the life they had after its collapse. The majority of the polled in 9 out of 11 former Soviet republics had the same opinion.
This reported attitude of the Russian people is no “aberration of memory.” In the vast majority of families, the collapse of the historic unified state on the territory of the former Russian empire and the Russo-Ukrainian conflict are seen as senseless tragedies. These tragedies have nothing in common with “dignity”“democracy”“fight against totalitarianism”and other such lofty words that writers like Masha Gessen like to employ.
“There is nothing dignified about the death of thousands of people and the impoverishment of millions,” says Boris Mezhuyev, a former deputy editor-in-chief of Izvestia daily, who in the 1990s covered the aftermath of the August 1991 coup and the subsequent collapse of the USSR. “One of the main lies of the Western press was to call the dissolution of the Soviet Union a bloodless process. The conflicts between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Georgia and Ossetia, Moldova and Transdniester, which started in 1987-1991, only escalated after the USSR fell apart. And in the Russo-Ukrainian relations the wound of Ukraine’s “amputation” was simply frozen between 1991 and 2014, with blood gushing profusely as soon as the anesthetizing ice started to melt in 2014.”
Well, talk of “dignity” mixed with “bloodless” velvet is not the only clichéd lie which the Western media has been attaching to the events of August 1991 for decades. As a person who witnessed firsthand the events of August 1991 in my capacity as a reporter for Komsomolskaya Pravda daily, I have an impression of being present at a festival of lies every year when I read Western articles devoted to the “anti-Gorbachev coup.”

The pattern of lies

The lies consist not so much in the details, as in the general pattern in which the events of those days are described. Andreas Ruesch in his article“The Stolen Victory” published in the influential Swiss daily Neue Zuricher Zeitung (NZZ) offers this “classical” pattern. Here it is in a nutshell: In August 1991, a group of evil old communists decided “to turn back the wheel of history”; they failed, because Gorbachev refused to agree to their demands on the eve of the “coup” on August 18, 1991; now, 25 years later, the same evil Chekists (members of the Soviet security services) are back in power, because “democracy never took a firm root” under Yeltsin.
Not only was I present at the scene of the events in August 1991, I interviewed several GKChP members, as well as Gorbachev himself, and I can say that every link in the NZZ-offered chain of events is a simplified version of reality, to say the least.
First, even Andreas Ruesch agrees that Gorbachev’s economic reforms (or, rather, the absence of them) “made him lose any kind of authority in the eyes of the public” before August 1991. One could also add that the unified state that had existed on the territory of the former Russian Empire for 300 years was collapsing.
In the Union Treaty, due to be signed on August 20 1991, Gorbachev managed to get signatories from only eight out of the Soviet Union’s 15 constituent republics. Ukraine, the biggest Soviet republic after Russia with a population of 50 million, promised to “review” the possibility of signing the treaty not earlier than in mid-September. Yet timing was crucial because the problem of transferring taxes from the newly “sovereign” republics to the Soviet Union’s budget in Moscow had not been resolved. Without taxes, the federal Soviet state would die (as it did a few months later, even before the official death of the USSR in December 1991). So, the action of the GKChP’s members on August 19 of 1991 was not an illegal seizure of power by a part of the Soviet leadership, but rather an attempt by a group of the most active Kremlin officials to retrieve the power the Kremlin had already lost between 1989 and 1991.
Second, the relationship between Gorbachev and the “putschists” was far more complicated than a confrontation between a reformist nicknamed Gorby (who still celebrates his birthdays in London) and a bunch of old reactionaries.

Gorbachev’s dubious role

“Gorbachev himself realized that the country was collapsing. That is the reason he himself pondered the introduction of the state of emergency in the Soviet Union. But he did not want to take the responsibility for this move personally, since it could spoil his credentials in the West,” the late Valery Boldin, the former head of Gorbachev’s Secretariat in 1991 and one of the key figures of the coup, told me in an interview in 2001, five years before his death in 2006. “That is why several GKChP members and me, we all came to see him on August 18, on the eve of the announcement of the state of emergency. Having listened to our arguments, Gorbachev said ‘To hell with you, go ahead.’ His later claims that he had no access to phone lines and that he was resisting the actions of GKChP – these claims do not hold any water.”
Boldin may not be believed 100 percent, since during the interview he had a vested interest in justifying his actions, which he had already suffered for (in 1991 he was charged with high treason and spent several months in a Moscow jail). But Gorbachev’s phrase ‘To hell with you, go ahead’ was mentioned in the memoirs of several GKChP members and is not disputed by Gorbachev himself. So, here is my question to Andreas Ruesch and his article: 'Can the August “coup” be called anti-Gorbachev, if the plotters claim to have acted on Gorbachev’s orders, corroborating their stories with documents and matching eyewitness accounts?'
There are many other truths which do not match the Western media’s “good reformers vs. evil communists” model. “We also wanted to conduct privatization and we realized the need to switch to the market mechanisms in the formation of prices,” the former Soviet prime minister Valentin Pavlov (also a GKChP member) told me in an interview in 2001. “We just did not want to do it in the way Yeltsin did in the 1990s.”
Privatization of state assets unjustly conducted under Yeltsin in the 1990s led to the formation of the powerful oligarch class, which introduced and crushed a huge chunk of Russia’s free media and whose attempts to return to power are still hurting Russia (one could cite the lawsuit for $50 billion from Russia in compensations, filed by the former oligarchic owners of the YUKOS oil major and temporarily given a green light by an arbitration court in the Hague).

The dismal performance of ‘reformers’

The truth is that Gorbachev was no Salvador Allende and Yeltsin was not that 'Russian hero speaking from a tank' – referring to the familiar image described as his high moment in the Western press. Instead, they were two leaders who both failed their country and their people. They failed to fulfill the mandate of the people, given to them at a referendum of March 17, 1991, when more than 70 percent of the Soviet Union’s citizens voted for the preservation of a unified state. Both Gorbachev and Yeltsin made concessions to the West in a vain hope of making it Russia’s ally and supporter. History has shown that both men were at best naïve by attempting to pursue such a goal.

Role of the West

Jack Matlock, who was the US ambassador to the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, the truly “velvet” years for US-Soviet relations, wrote several books and articles in an effort to prove that the United States did not try to expedite the disintegration of the Soviet Union, which went apace in 1989-1991. This may be true at least as far as the former president George Herbert Walker Bush is concerned. In July 1991, right before the Moscow coup, Bush made a conciliatory speechto the Ukrainian nationalists in Kiev, urging them to have patience in their drive for Ukrainian independence and not resort to violence. Bush proved to be right in his advice (Ukraine was given self-rule under Gorbachev, and complete independence came just a few weeks later), but the media warmongers from The Washington Post and the New York Times still cannot forgive Bush the senior for his actions.
Indeed, William Safire slammed it as the “Chicken Kiev Speech.”Obviously, President Barack Obama and Victoria Nuland, who did not ‘chicken out’ of support for the “peaceful protesters” in Kiev (that happened to kill 13 policemen with 'peaceful' Molotov cocktails), were treated by the mainstream press much more kindly than George Herbert Walker Bush and his recommended “pacifism” in 1991.
“There is no doubt that the West did not expect such a speedy disintegration of the Soviet Union and for the time being there was a pause in the Western military pressure, which Moscow had to put up with for decades under the USSR,” said Yevgeny Saburov, the minister of economy in the short-lived post-coup government of Russian Federation in 1991. There were sceptics: Bush and Clinton’s intelligence chief Robert Gates continued to think deep into 1992 that the whole democratization business in Russia was just a ploy to keep the West off guard on Moscow’s evil plans. There were also liars: Bill Clinton said in an interview in 1992 that the US would not object if the republics of the former Soviet Union decided to live together again.
When the West realized that the Soviet Union was gone for good, the pressure gradually resumed. Already in 1993, NATO took the decision to expand to Poland and several other East European states, burying Gorbachev’s illusions about “Europe without the dividing lines.” The bombing of Yugoslavia followed in 1999, George W. Bush’s Iraqi adventure started in 2003. The Ukrainian tragedy was not long in the waiting neither, degenerating into war in 2014.
“Did the United States rightly handle all the opportunities which the collapse of the communist system in Russia had to offer?” Serge Schmemann, the editor of International Herald Tribune, asked during a talk at a reception in the US embassy in Moscow. “I am not sure we used these opportunities. Our main failure was that we could not IMAGINE a different Russia. Not an enemy, not a failed state, not a danger.”
One could not put it better. The majority of politicians in the US still cannot imagine a different Russia. Instead, they wax nostalgic about the illusory events of 1991.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Friday, August 26, 2016

An Earthquake Has Happened In International Relations.


Turkey’s New Relationship with Russia – and Assad
ERIC ZUESSE | 26.08.2016 | WORLD

Turkey’s New Relationship with Russia – and Assad


Until the July 15th US-backed (or so the Turkish government alleges) coup-attempt to overthrow Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan, Erdogan was trying to overthrow Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, whom the US regime likewise wants to overthrow.
However, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin saved Erdogan’s Presidency, and probably Erdogan’s life, by contacting him hours prior to the pending coup and thus enabled him to plan and prepare so as to overcome the attempt, and crush the operation.
Putin wouldn’t have known ahead-of-time about the coup-plan unless Russian intelligence had provided to him intelligence that it was coming. This intelligence might have included information about whom the source of it was. If Putin had intelligence regarding that matter, then he presumably shared it with Erdogan at that time – prior to the coup.
Promptly on July 16th, Erdogan announced that the source of the coup was his long-time foe (but former political supporter) Fethullah Gulen, who in 1999 had relocated himself and the headquarters of his multibillion-dollar Islamic organization to Pennsylvania in the United States. Erdogan said that he would demand Gulen’s extradition to stand trial in Turkey. However, the US State Department said it had not yet received a «formal extradition request».
On August 4th, «Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said Ankara had submitted a second extradition request», but the US ‘Justice’ Department was «still trying to evaluate if the documents can be considered a formal extradition request».
The ‘Justice’ Department is still trying, 16 days later, as of the present writing.
Meanwhile, on August 9th, Erdogan flew to Moscow to meet privately with Putin – the man who had saved his Presidency if not his life. Presumably, Erdogan wanted to see all of Russia’s intelligence on the matter. After that meeting, he may be presumed to have seen all of the intelligence on it, both from Turkish and from Russian intelligence agencies.
Erdogan continued his demand that the US extradite Gulen. Evidently, after his having seen all of the intelligence from both Turkey and Russia, he remained convinced that Gulen was behind it.
Putin is determined to prevent what the American-Saudi-Qatari-Turkish alliance have been demanding on Syria: the ouster of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad prior to any election being held in Syria. The repeated demand by Putin has instead been that only the Syrian people themselves, in a free and fair internationally monitored election, can decide whether or when to terminate Assad’s present term of office, and that Russia will accept whatever the voters of Syria decide as to the identity of Syria’s President going forward.
The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, has, on at least two occasions, publicly stated that he supports Putin’s position on this, and that there would be no legitimacy for a forced ouster of the current Syrian President.
On Saturday August 20th, the AP bannered «Turkey: Assad can be part of transition in Syria», and reported that «Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Saturday his country is willing to accept a role for Syrian President Bashar Assad during a transitional period but insisted he has no place in Syria's future… ‘Could Syria carry Assad in the long-term? Certainly not… The United States knows and Russia knows that Assad does not appear to be someone who can bring (the people) together’».
Of course, Russia does not «know» that (and, in fact, more than 50 % of Syrians even when polled by western firms, want Assad to continue being President of Syria, and more than 80 % blame the US for backing the jihadists), but Turkey’s statement that Russia does «know» it, will help the Turkish public (whom the Erdogan regime has indoctrinated to consider Assad evil) acclimate to thinking of Assad’s ally Russia as being actually a friend, no foe, of Turkey; and this will, in turn, assist Erdogan going forward, especially if he’s aiming to, for example, remove Turkey from the NATO alliance and align with Russian foreign policy.
What’s happening here is the setting of the terms for the next Presidential election in Syria. Washington and its allies (which used to include its fellow-NATO-member Turkey) demand that the Syrian ‘democratic revolution’ (or foreign invasion by fundamentalist-Sunni jihadists hired and armed by the US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and UAE) succeed and establish a fundamentalist-Sunni leader for Syria, who will then, perhaps, hold elections, which, perhaps, will be ‘democratic’ instead of imposing Sunni Islamic law. But Assad, and Russia, demand that there be no such overthrow prior to the election; and, now, Turkey has stated that this would be acceptable to them. That’s a big change in Turkey’s international relations.
How seriously should one take Turkey’s continuing demand that «Certainly not» could the Syrian people re-elect Assad to be their President? One should take it with a grain of salt that would easily be washed away if Assad does win that election.
In other words: Turkey has announced, on August 20th, that, at least on the Syrian issue, it’s no longer an ally of the US
An earthquake has thus happened in international relations.



Turkey Enters Syria: Operation «Euphrates Shield»

  • It’s important to note that Turkey has notified Russia about its operation.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to visit Turkey on August 31. The visit takes place against the background of Turkey taking steps to normalize the relations with the Syrian government.
  • the Turkish President is reportedly planning to visit Tehran to talk up the prospect of an Iranian-Russian-Turkish realignment.  
  • A Russia-Turkey-Iran coalition is emerging. It would be logical to surmise that the parties will be united by the common goal of preserving Syria’s territorial integrity. 
  • China, Russia’s strategic partner, is another important actor which has recently decided to take an active part in the efforts to settle the Syrian crisis. 
ALEX GORKA | 27.08.2016 | WORLD


On August 24, Turkish ground forces supported by tanks and warplanes forces crossed the Syrian border in a large scale effort to seize the city of Jarabulus from Islamic State (IS).
Jarabulus is a vital supply line for IS and one of its last remaining strongholds on the border.
Turkey is also concerned over the growing influence of US-backed Syrian Kurds across the Syrian frontier, where they have captured large swathes of territory since the start of the Syrian war in 2011. A US-backed alliance between the Kurdish YPG (the Popular Protection Units) and some Syrian Arabs called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has been advancing and taking over strategic areas from various armed Islamist groups. It scored a success by driving Islamic State (IS) militants out of the town of Manbij this month. The jihadist forces had to retreat to the town of Jarablus on the Turkish border. Turkey is also wary of the Kurds trying to take control of another border town to the west, Azaz, which it sees as part of a planned «buffer zone» in northern Syria.
Turkey sees the US-supported YPG as tied to the PKK (the Kurdistan Workers’ Party), which has been waging an armed campaign mainly in the country’s southeast. The PKK is officially considered a terrorist organization by the EU and the US but Turkey has failed to convince its Western allies to regard YPG operating in the north of Syria, likewise.
US Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Turkey hours after operations began on a pre-planned trip, the most senior US official to visit since a failed July 15 coup shook confidence in Turkey’s ability to step up the fight against Islamic State. Operation «Euphrates Shield», named after the river running nearby, was Turkey’s first major military operation since then. Mr Biden addressed the concerns at a news conference after his meeting with Mr Erdogan, saying the Syrian Kurds, an American ally in the fight against the Islamic State militants, would have to withdraw to the eastern side of the Euphrates River. The visit took place at the time the US-Turkey relationship is going through hard times as Ankara accused the US of being involved in the failed coup attempt.
It strikes an eye that Turkey launched its offensive right after the SDF announced its intention to seize Jarablus.
The SDF already controls the eastern bank of the Euphrates opposite the town. Kurdish leaders view Turkey’s operation as a hostile attack to be rebuffed.
Kurdish media reported heavy artillery shelling in the Manbij area, which was seized by the SDF from IS group control earlier this month.
There is a risk that a Kurdish advance toward Jarabulus could lead to a confrontation with Turkey.
Meanwhile, Kurdish militias and Syrian government forces are fighting for control of the northeastern city of Hasakah. The two sides once worked together to combat IS, but now the Syrian government is accusing the Kurdish militias of seeking to divide the country. The Kurds, on the other hand, accuse the government of having a secret understanding with Turkey against them.
The recent events change the whole landscape with US-backed Kurds opposing the Syrian government troops in Hasakah and Turkish military ‘freeing’ Jarablus. With all fighting each other, further escalation will add fuel to the flames and greatly complicate the situation to benefit Islamic State.
It’s important to note that Turkey has notified Russia about its operation.
Russia has expressed deep concern over Turkey’s ground incursion into Syria, saying it raises the risk of civilian casualties and the worsening of ethnic tensions between Kurds and Arabs.
Moscow believes the Syrian crisis can be resolved only on the basis of international law through dialogue involving all ethnic groups, including the Kurds.
Urgent steps are required to coordinate the efforts of the major actors involved in the conflict. Some things offer hope. On August 24 – the day the Turkish forces launched the operation – Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke by telephone with US Secretary of State John Kerry. With so many things unsolved and still undecided in Russia-US relationship and the situation in Syria, the two foreign chiefs left other things aside to tackle the burning issue. US and Russian officials, whose countries back opposite sides in the five-year Syrian war, have been meeting to agree on military cooperation in the fight against their common enemy there, the Islamic State militant group. Kerry said earlier this week the talks were nearing an end, with technical teams still meeting to discuss details.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to visit Turkey on August 31. The visit takes place against the background of Turkey taking steps to normalize the relations with the Syrian government.
As Turkish leader has put it«Without Russia’s participation it’s impossible to find a solution to the Syrian problem. Only in partnership with Russia will we be able to settle the crisis in Syria».
Hot on the heels of his visit to Russia, the Turkish President is reportedly planning to visit Tehran to talk up the prospect of an Iranian-Russian-Turkish realignment. The visit is also expected to normalize ties between Turkey and Iran, two major actors in the region.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s surprise August 12 visit to Turkey opened a new chapter in regional cooperation between the two neighbors.
The visit was part of Tehran’s show of solidarity that began during the coup attempt with high standing Iranian officials making phone calls to express support.
All in all, these developments indicate that Russia, Iran and Turkey are engaged in intensive efforts to work out a common position on the Syrian crisis and the ways to settle it. A Russia-Turkey-Iran coalition is emerging. It would be logical to surmise that the parties will be united by the common goal of preserving Syria’s territorial integrity.
Actually, this is the time of changes. With IS and other extremist groups defeated, the problem of Syrian Kurds will inevitably come to the fore. Neither the Syrian government, nor other actors like Turkey, nor the so-called «moderate» Syrian opposition are ready to accept the idea of «federalization» with Syrian Kurdistan enjoying a special status. But using force against Kurds will have grave implications and weaken the anti-IS alliance. The Kurdish armed formations (Peshmerga) are the main force on the ground to strike IS, this is an irrefutable fact to make them an ally of anyone whose goal is to do away with the IS threat.
Russia is in the position to tackle the problem using diplomatic means. It has significant advantages as an impartial mediator. This February Syrian Kurds opened a representative office in Moscow. «This is a historic moment for the Kurdish people politically and diplomatically», said Sinam Mohamad, the European Representative of the Rojava Self-Ruled Democratic Administration, the de-facto government running Kurdish-held northern Syria. «For too long we have been unable to represent our interests on the world stage. This will allow us to have a voice abroad».
China, Russia’s strategic partner, is another important actor which has recently decided to take an active part in the efforts to settle the Syrian crisis.
Russia and China have a long history of coordinating their diplomatic efforts on Syria. Moscow is also a good friend of Iran. Russia and Turkey have normalized the relations recently. Actually, Russia is the only country that enjoys good working relations with all major actors involved in the Syrian conflict to make it perfectly suited for the role of the mediator. Its position is unique. Hardly anyone else can prevent the worst under the circumstances.


Turkey Crosses into Syria: Unipolar Conspiracy or Multipolar Coordination?EDITOR'S CHOICE | 26.08.2016

Andrew Korybko 
It’s very fashionable nowadays for people to criticize the Kremlin for incompetency, and its recent history of controversial decisions coupled with the suspected liberal fifth-and-six-column infiltration of key national institutions gives plenty of ground for this, but sometimes people jump the gun, such as when accusing Russia of being ‘duped’ by Turkey. It’s interesting that no such criticisms are publicly leveled against Iran despite Tehran bending over backwards to Ankara during and after the failed pro-US coup attempt against Erdogan, but double standards are the norm when people engage in diatribes, and it’s always been the case that Russia has caught much more flak than anyone else whenever multipolar commentators critique their own camp. 
This is the precisely the case with the news that Turkish forces have crossed into Syria, with the most common knee-jerk reaction being that President Putin was manipulated by Erdogan as part of some large-scale Machiavellian plot, though of course, without making any mention that this charge could more rightly be directed against the Ayatollah. Anyhow, the prevailing narrative among multipolar supporters appears to be one of grief and despair, with Facebookers pulling their hair out over how stupid Russia apparently was to trust Turkey and work on helping it pivot towards Eurasia. As popular and trendy as it may be for people to jump on the bandwagon and start railing against Russia, and for as ‘healthy’ as it is for people to let off some steam and vocally vent their frustrations every once in a while, there’s actually countervailing evidence that Turkey’s operation isn’t a unipolar conspiracy but evidence of high-level multipolar coordination. 
To explain, as of the moment of writing (11.30am MSK), neither Moscow, Tehran, nor even Damascus has issued any statement condemning Turkey’s military intervention, and the website of the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) is noticeably silent about this development. All of this is very strange if one accepts the assumption that Turkey’s moves constitute an ‘invasion’ of Syria, since while the Kremlin critics might invent all sorts of explanations for why Moscow isn’t saying anything, less people can attribute a semi-plausible reason to why Tehran and Damascus aren’t publicly rabid with fury right now. Though it’s true that Turkey is even coordinating part of its operation with the assistance of US air support, there’s actually a novel, contextual touch to that which needs to be further elaborated on. 
The recent clashes between the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the Kurdish YPG militia in Hasakah have been halted for the time being as a result of Russian mediation, but even when they were ongoing, many observers agreed that it’s not to anyone’s interests besides the US’ to see the SAA begin a full-on law and order operation against the Kurds, as this would dramatically impede post-conflict resolution efforts in retaining the Syrian Arab Republic’s territorial sovereignty and unitary nature. However, no such diplomatic sensitivities are present when it comes to Turkey’s capability to do this, since it’s globally known just how ferociously opposed Ankara is to the creation of a Kurdish “federalized” (internally partitioned) statelet all along its southern frontier. Hand in hand with this, most people are aware that the US is desperately trying to curry favor with Turkey and prevent its withdrawal from the unipolar fold, ergo American eagerness to publicly assist its Mideast partner in its latest operation. 
To put it more simply, Russia and the SAA – for reasons of political sensitivity and long-term strategy – do not want to attack the YPG and proactively stop it from occupying all of northern Syria, whereas Turkey has no such reservations in doing this and is more than eager to do the ‘heavy lifting’, especially if it could con the US Air Force into helping it target actual terrorists on the ground during this time. The American intent in all of this is to prove that it’s a ‘loyal ally’ of Turkey and to contribute to the attempted reconciliation that Washington is trying to carry out with Ankara, though in this case, it’s being exploited as the ultimate ‘useful idiot’ in helping the Multipolar Community in its quest to destroy the second ‘geopolitical Israel’ of “Kurdistan”. Having said all of this, naysayers will still point to the fact that Turkey is not to be trusted and that the presence of any foreign troops or the ordering of any military attacks on Syrian soil without Damascus’ permission is a violation of its sovereignty and a breach of international law, which is certainly true in this case if President Assad didn’t coordinate any of this with his Turkish counterpart. 
However ‘inconvenient’ it may be for the most gung-ho (usually foreign-based) supporters of Syria to admit, Damascus and Ankara have been engaged in secret talks for months now in the Algerian capital of Algiers, as has been repeatedly confirmed by many multiple media sources ever since this spring. Moreover, Turkey just dispatched one of its deputy intelligence chiefs to Damascus a few days ago to meet with his high-level Syrian counterparts, so this might explain the reason why Russia and Iran aren’t condemning Turkey’s incursion into Syria, nor why the Syrian officials aren’t loudly protesting against it either. More and more, the evidence is pointing to Turkey’s operation being part of a larger move that was coordinated in advance with Syria, Russia, and Iran. Nevertheless, for domestic political reasons within both Syria and Turkey, neither side is expected to admit to having coordinated any of this, and it’s likely that bellicose rhetoric might be belched from Ankara just as much as it’s predictable that Damascus will rightfully speak about the protection of its sovereignty. 
What’s most important, though, isn’t to listen so much to Turkey and Syria, but to watch and observe what Russia and Iran say and do, since these are the two countries most capable of defending Syria from any legitimate aggression against its territory and which have been firmly standing behind it for years now, albeit to differing qualitative extents though with complementary synergy (i.e. Russia’s anti-terrorist air operation and Iran’s special forces ground one).  This isn’t in any way to ‘excuse’, ‘apologize for’, or ‘explain away’ the US’ opportunistic and illegal inadvertent contribution to this coordinated multipolar campaign, but to accurately document how and why it decided to involve itself in this superficially Turkish-led venture, namely because it was cleverly misled by Erdogan into thinking that this is a precondition for the normalization of relations between both sides. 
Russia lacks the political will to cleanse the Wahhabi terrorists and Kurdish separatists from northern Syrian itself, and for as much as one may support or condemn this, it’s a statement of fact that must be taken into account when analyzing and forecasting events. With this obvious constraint being a major factor influencing the state of affairs in Syria, it’s reasonable then that Syria, Russia, and Iran wouldn’t vocally object too much to Turkey tricking the US into doing this instead out of the pursuit of its own self-interests vis-à-vis the attempted normalization with Ankara. The major qualifying variable that must be mentioned at this point is that serious Russian and Iranian condemnation of Turkey’s ongoing operation would signal that something either went wrong with their multilaterally coordinated plan, or that Turkey was just a backstabbing pro-American Trojan Horse this entire time and the skepticism surrounding Moscow and Tehran’s dedicated efforts to coax Ankara into a multipolar pivot was fully vindicated as the correct analysis all along.  
In closing, the author would like to refer the reader to his article from over a month ago about how “Regional War Looms As “Kurdistan” Crosses The Euphrates”, in which it was forecast that Russia would assemble a multipolar “Lead From Behind” coalition in pushing back against the US’ attempts to carve the second ‘geopolitical Israel’ of “Kurdistan” out of northern Syria, with it specifically being written that “it can be reasonably assumed that there’s an invisible Russian hand gently coordinating their broad regional activities” in stopping this. With Turkey crossing into Syria to preempt the YPG from unifying all of its occupied territory in northern Syria and breathing sustainable geopolitical life into the US’ latest divide-and-rule project in the Mideast, and keeping in mind the fast-paced diplomacy between Russia, Iran, and Turkey and the months-long ongoing secret negotiations between Ankara and Damascus, all empirical evidence suggests that this latest development in the War on Syria is less a unipolar conspiracy and more a multipolar coordinated plan to bring an end to this conflict and preempt the internal partitioning of Syria. 

The Broken Chessboard: Brzezinski Gives Up on Empire

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The main architect of Washington’s plan to rule the world has abandoned the scheme and called for the forging of ties with Russia and China. While Zbigniew Brzezinski’s article in The American Interest titled “Towards a Global Realignment” has largely been ignored by the media, it shows that powerful members of the policymaking establishment no longer believe that Washington will prevail in its quest to extent US hegemony across the Middle East and Asia. 
Brzezinski, who was the main proponent of this idea and who drew up the blueprint for imperial expansion in his 1997 book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, has done an about-face and called for a dramatic revising of the strategy. Here’s an excerpt from the article in the AI:
“As its era of global dominance ends, the United States needs to take the lead in realigning the global power architecture.
Five basic verities regarding the emerging redistribution of global political power and the violent political awakening in the Middle East are signaling the coming of a new global realignment.
The first of these verities is that the United States is still the world’s politically, economically, and militarily most powerful entity but, given complex geopolitical shifts in regional balances, it is no longer the globally imperial power.” (Toward a Global Realignment, Zbigniew Brzezinski, The American Interest)
Repeat: The US is “no longer the globally imperial power.” Compare this assessment to a statement Brzezinski made years earlier in Chessboard when he claimed the US was ” the world’s paramount power.”
“…The last decade of the twentieth century has witnessed a tectonic shift in world affairs. For the first time ever, a non-Eurasian power has emerged not only as a key arbiter of Eurasian power relations but also as the world’s paramount power. The defeat and collapse of the Soviet Union was the final step in the rapid ascendance of a Western Hemisphere power, the United States, as the sole and, indeed, the first truly global power.” (“The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives,” Zbigniew Brzezinski, Basic Books, 1997, p. xiii)
Here’s more from the article in the AI:
“The fact is that there has never been a truly “dominant” global power until the emergence of America on the world scene….. The decisive new global reality was the appearance on the world scene of America as simultaneously the richest and militarily the most powerful player. During the latter part of the 20th century no other power even came close. That era is now ending.” (AI)
But why is “that era is now ending”? What’s changed since 1997 when Brzezinski referred to the US as the “world’s paramount power”?
Brzezinski points to the rise of Russia and China, the weakness of Europe and the “violent political awakening among post-colonial Muslims” as the proximate causes of this sudden reversal. His comments on Islam are particularly instructive in that he provides a rational explanation for terrorism rather than the typical government boilerplate about “hating our freedoms.” To his credit, Brzezinski sees the outbreak of terror as the “welling up of historical grievances” (from “deeply felt sense of injustice”) not as the mindless violence of fanatical psychopaths.
Naturally, in a short 1,500-word article, Brzezniski can’t cover all the challenges (or threats) the US might face in the future. But it’s clear that what he’s most worried about is the strengthening of economic, political and military ties between Russia, China, Iran, Turkey and the other Central Asian states. This is his main area of concern, in fact, he even anticipated this problem in 1997 when he wrote Chessboard. Here’s what he said:
“Henceforth, the United States may have to determine how to cope with regional coalitions that seek to push America out of Eurasia, thereby threatening America’s status as a global power.” (p.55)
“…To put it in a terminology that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.” (p.40)
“…prevent collusion…among the vassals.” That says it all, doesn’t it?
The Obama administration’s reckless foreign policy, particularly the toppling of governments in Libya and Ukraine, has greatly accelerated the rate at which these anti-American coalitions have formed. In other words, Washington’s enemies have emerged in response to Washington’s behavior. Obama can only blame himself.
Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin has responded to the growing threat of regional instability and the placing of NATO forces on Russia’s borders by strengthening alliances with countries on Russia’s perimeter and across the Middle East. At the same time, Putin and his colleagues in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries have established an alternate banking system (BRICS Bank and AIIB) that will eventually challenge the dollar-dominated system that is the source of US global power. This is why Brzezinski has done a quick 180 and abandoned the plan for US hegemony; it is because he is concerned about the dangers of a non-dollar-based system arising among the developing and unaligned countries that would replace the western Central Bank oligopoly. If that happens, then the US will lose its stranglehold on the global economy and the extortionist system whereby fishwrap greenbacks are exchanged for valuable goods and services will come to an end.
Unfortunately, Brzezinski’s more cautious approach is not likely to be followed by presidential-favorite Hillary Clinton who is a firm believer in imperial expansion through force of arms. It was Clinton who first introduced “pivot” to the strategic lexicon in a speech she gave in 2010 titled “America’s Pacific Century”. Here’s an excerpt from the speech that appeared in Foreign Policy magazine:
“As the war in Iraq winds down and America begins to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, the United States stands at a pivot point. Over the last 10 years, we have allocated immense resources to those two theaters. In the next 10 years, we need to be smart and systematic about where we invest time and energy, so that we put ourselves in the best position to sustain our leadership, secure our interests, and advance our values. One of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decade will therefore be to lock in a substantially increased investment — diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise — in the Asia-Pacific region…
Harnessing Asia’s growth and dynamism is central to American economic and strategic interests and a key priority for President Obama. Open markets in Asia provide the United States with unprecedented opportunities for investment, trade, and access to cutting-edge technology…..American firms (need) to tap into the vast and growing consumer base of Asia…
The region already generates more than half of global output and nearly half of global trade. As we strive to meet President Obama’s goal of doubling exports by 2015, we are looking for opportunities to do even more business in Asia…and our investment opportunities in Asia’s dynamic markets.”
(“America’s Pacific Century”, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton”, Foreign Policy Magazine, 2011)
Compare Clinton’s speech to comments Brzezinski made in Chessboard 14 years earlier:
“For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia… (p.30)….. Eurasia is the globe’s largest continent and is geopolitically axial. A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world’s three most advanced and economically productive regions. ….About 75 per cent of the world’s people live in Eurasia, and most of the world’s physical wealth is there as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. Eurasia accounts for 60 per cent of the world’s GNP and about three-fourths of the world’s known energy resources.” (p.31)
The strategic objectives are identical, the only difference is that Brzezinski has made a course correction based on changing circumstances and the growing resistance to US bullying, domination and sanctions. We have not yet reached the tipping point for US primacy, but that day is fast approaching and Brzezinski knows it.
In contrast, Clinton is still fully-committed to expanding US hegemony across Asia. She doesn’t understand the risks this poses for the country or the world. She’s going to persist with the interventions until the US war-making juggernaut is stopped dead-in-its-tracks which, judging by her hyperbolic rhetoric, will probably happen some time in her first term.
Brzezinski presents a rational but self-serving plan to climb-down, minimize future conflicts, avoid a nuclear conflagration and preserve the global order. (aka–The “dollar system”) But will bloodthirsty Hillary follow his advice?
Not a chance.
Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.