I am a great fan of Kiev, an affable city of pleasing bourgeois character, with its plentiful small restaurants, clean tree-lined streets, and bonhomie of its beer gardens. A hundred years ago Kiev was predominantly a Russian resort, and some central areas have retained this flavour. Now Kiev is patrolled by armed thugs from the Western Ukraine, by fighters from the neo-Nazi -Right Sector, descendants of Stepan Bandera, the Ukrainian Quisling’s troopers, and by their local comrades-in-arms of nationalist persuasion.
After a month of confrontation, President Viktor Yanukovych gave in, signed the EC-prepared surrender and escaped their rough revolutionary justice by the skin of his teeth. The ruling party MPs were beaten and dispersed, the communists almost lynched, the opposition have the parliament all to themselves, and they’ve appointed new ministers and taken over the Ukraine. The Brown Revolution has won in the Ukraine. This big East European country of fifty million inhabitants has gone the way of Libya. The US and the EU won this round, and pushed Russia back eastwards, just as they intended.
It remains to be seen whether the neo-Nazi thugs who won the battle will agree to surrender the sweet fruits of victory to politicians, who are, God knows, nasty enough. And more importantly, it remains to be seen whether the Russian-speaking East and South East of the country will accept the Brown rule of Kiev, or split off and go their own way, as the people of Israel (so relates the Bible) after King Solomon’s death rebelled against his heir saying “To your tents, o Israel!” and proclaimed independence of their fief (I Kings 12:16). Meanwhile it seems that the Easterners’ desire to preserve Ukrainian state integrity is stronger than their dislike for the victorious Browns. Though they assembled their representatives for what could be a declaration of independence, they did not dare to claim power. These peaceful people have little stamina for strife.
Their great neighbour, Russia, does not appear overtly concerned with this ominous development. Both Russian news agencies, TASS and RIA, didn’t even place the dire Ukrainian news at the top, as Reuters and BBC did: for them, the Olympics and the biathlon were of greater importance.
This “ostrich” attitude is quite typical of the Russian media: whenever they find themselves in an embarrassing position, they escape into showing the Swan Lake ballet on TV. That’s what they did when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. This time it was the Olympics instead of the ballet.
Anti-Putin opposition in Russia heartily approved of the Ukrainian coup.Yesterday Kiev, tomorrow Moscow, they chanted. Maidan (the main square of Kiev, the site of anti-government demos) equals Bolotnaya (a square in Moscow, the site of anti-government protests in December 2012) is another popular slogan.
The majority of Russians were upset but not surprised. Russia decided to minimise its involvement in the Ukraine some weeks ago as if they wished to demonstrate to the world their non-interference. Their behaviour bordered on recklessness. While foreign ministers of EC countries and their allies crowded Kiev, Putin sent Vladimir Lukin, a human rights emissary, an elder low-level politician of very little clout, to deal with the Ukrainian crisis. The Russian Ambassador Mr Zurabov, another non-entity, completely disappeared from public view. (Now he was recalled to Moscow). Putin made not a single public statement on the Ukraine, treating it as though it were Libya or Mali, not a neighbouring country quite close to the Russian hinterland.
This hands-off approach could have been expected: Russia did not interfere in the disastrous Ukrainian elections 2004, or in the Georgian elections that produced extremely anti-Russian governments. Russia gets involved only if there is a real battle on the ground, and a legitimate government asks for help, as in Ossetia in 2008 or in Syria in 2011. Russia supports those who fight for their cause, otherwise Russia, somewhat disappointingly, stands aside.
The West has no such inhibitions and its representatives were extremely active: the US State Department representative Victoria “Fuck EC’’ Nuland had spent days and weeks in Kiev, feeding the insurgents with cookies, delivering millions of smuggled greenbacks to them, meeting with their leaders, planning and plotting the coup. Kiev is awash with the newest US dollars fresh from its mint (of a kind yet unseen in Moscow, I’ve been told by Russian friends). The US embassy spread money around like a tipsy Texan in a night club. Every able-bodied young man willing to fight received five hundred dollar a week, a qualified fighter – up to a thousand, a platoon commander had two thousand dollars – good money by Ukrainian standards.
Money is not all. People are also needed for a successful coup. There was an opposition to Yanukovych who won democratic elections, and accordingly, three parties lost elections. Supporters of the three parties could field a lot of people for a peaceful demonstration, or for a sit-in. But would they fight when push comes to shove? Probably not. Ditto the recipients of generous US and EC grants (Nuland estimated the total sum of American investment in “democracy building” at five billion dollars). They could be called to come to the main square for a demo. However, the NGO beneficiaries are timid folk, not likely to risk their well-being. And the US needed a better fighting stock to remove the democratically elected president from power.
In the Western Ukraine, the serpent eggs hatched: children of Nazi collaborators who had imbibed hatred towards the Russians with their mothers’ milk. Their fathers had formed a network under Reinhard Gehlen, the German spymaster. In 1945, as Germany was defeated, Gehlen swore allegiance to the US and delivered his networks to the CIA. They continued their guerrilla war against the Soviets until 1956. Their cruelty was legendary, for they aimed to terrify the population into full compliance to their command. Notoriously, they strangulated the Ukrainians suspected of being friendly to Russians with their bare hands.
A horrifying confession of a participant tells of their activities in Volyn: “One night, we strangulated 84 men. We strangulated adults, as for little kids, we held their legs, swung and broke their heads at a doorpost. …Two nice kids, Stepa and Olya, 12 and 14 years old… we tore the younger one into two parts, and there was no need to strangulate her mother Julia, she died of a heart attack” and so on and so on. They slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Poles and Jews; even the dreadful Baby Yar massacre was done by them, with German connivance, somewhat similar to Israeli connivance in the Sabra and Chatila massacres of Palestinians by the Lebanese fascists of the Phalange.
The children of these Bandera murderers were brought up to hate Communism, Soviets and Russians, and in adoration of their fathers’ deeds. They formed the spearhead of the pro-US anti-government rebels in the Ukraine, the Right Sector led by out-and-out fascist Dmytro Yarosh. They were ready to fight, to die and kill. Such units attract potential rebels of differing backgrounds: their spokesman is young Russian -turned -Ukrainian -nationalist Artem Skoropadsky, a journalist with the mainstream oligarch-owned Kommersant-UA daily. There are similar young Russians who join Salafi networks and become suicide-bombers in the Caucasus mountains – young people whose desire for action and sacrifice could not be satisfied in the consumer society. This is a Slav al-Qaeda — real neo-Nazi storm troopers, a natural ally of the US.
And they did not fight only for association with EC and against joining a Russia-led TC. Their enemies were also the Russians in the Ukraine, and Russian-speaking ethnic Ukrainians. The difference between the twain is moot. Before independence in 1991, some three quarters of the population preferred to speak Russian. Since then, successive governments have tried to force people to use Ukrainian. For the Ukrainian neo-Nazis, anyone who speaks Russian is an enemy. You can compare this with Scotland, where people speak English, and nationalists would like to force them to speak the language of Burns.
Behind the spearhead of the Right Sector, with its fervent anti-communist and anti-Russian fighters, a larger organisation could be counted on: the neo-Nazi Freedom (Svoboda), of Tyagnibok. Some years ago Tyagnibokcalled for a fight against Russians and Jews, now he has become more cautious regarding the Jews. He is still as anti-Russian as John Foster Dulles. Tyagnibok was tolerated or even encouraged by Yanukovych, who wanted to take a leaf from the French president Jacques Chirac’s book. Chirac won the second round of elections against nationalist Le Pen, while probably he would have lost against any other opponent. In the same wise, Yanukovych wished Tyagnibok to become his defeatable opponent at the second round of presidential elections.
The parliamentary parties (the biggest one is the party of Julia Timoshenko with 25% of seats, the smaller one was the party of Klitschko the boxer with 15%) would support the turmoil as a way to gain power they lost at the elections.
Union of nationalists and liberals
Thus, a union of nationalists and liberals was formed. This union is the trademark of a new US policy in the Eastern Europe. It was tried in Russia two years ago, where enemies of Putin comprise of these two forces, of pro-Western liberals and of their new allies, Russian ethnic nationalists, soft and hard neo-Nazis. The liberals won’t fight, they are unpopular with the masses; they include an above-average percentage of Jews, gays, millionaires and liberal columnists; the nationalists can incite the great unwashed masses almost as well as the Bolsheviks, and will fight. This is the anti-Putin cocktail preferred by the US. This alliance actually took over 20% of vote in Moscow city elections, after their attempt to seize power by coup was beaten off by Putin. The Ukraine is their second, successful joint action.
Bear in mind: liberals do not have to support democracy. They do so only if they are certain democracy will deliver what they want. Otherwise, they can join forces with al Qaeda as now in Syria, with Islamic extremists as in Libya, with the Army as in Egypt, or with neo-Nazis, as now in Russia and the Ukraine. Historically, the liberal–Nazi alliance did not work because the old Nazis were enemies of bankers and financial capital, and therefore anti-Jewish. This hitch could be avoided: Mussolini was friendly to Jews and had a few Jewish ministers in his government; he objected to Hitler’s anti-Jewish attitude saying that “Jews are useful and friendly”. Hitler replied that if he were to allow that, thousands of Jews would join his party. Nowadays, this problem has vanished: modern neo-Nazis are friendly towards Jews, bankers and gays. The Norwegian killer Breivik is an exemplary sample of a Jew-friendly neo-Nazi. So are the Ukrainian and Russian neo-Nazis.
While the original Bandera thugs killed every Jew (and Pole) that came their way, their modern heirs receive some valuable Jewish support. The oligarchs of Jewish origin (Kolomoysky, Pinchuk and Poroshenko) financed them, while a prominent Jewish leader, Chairman of the Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of the Ukraine, Josef Zissels, supported them and justified them. There are many supporters of Bandera in Israel; they usually claim that Bandera was not an anti-Semite, as he had a Jewish doctor. (So did Hitler.) Jews do not mind Nazis who do not target them. The Russian neo-Nazis target Tajik gastarbeiters, and the Ukrainian neo-Nazis target Russian-speakers.
Revolution: the Outline
The revolution deserves to be described in a few lines: Yanukovych was not too bad a president, prudent though weak. Still the Ukraine came to the edge of financial abyss. (You can read more about it in my previous piece) He tried to save the situation by allying with the EC, but the EC had no money to spare. Then he tried to make a deal with Russia, and Putin offered him a way out, without even demanding from him that the Ukraine join the Russian-led TC. This triggered the violent response of the EC and the US, as they were worried it would strengthen Russia.
Yanuk, as people call him for short, had few friends. Powerful Ukrainian oligarchs weren’t enamoured with him. Besides the usual reasons, they did not like the raider habits of Yanuk’s son, who would steal other men’s businesses. Here they may have had a point, for the leader of Belarus, the doughty Lukashenko, said that Yanuk’s son’s unorthodox ways of acquiring businesses brought disaster.
Yanuk’s electorate, the Russian-speaking people of the Ukraine (and they are a majority in the land, like English-speaking Scots are majority in Scotland) were disappointed with him because he did not give them the right to speak Russian and teach their children in Russian. The followers of Julia Timoshenko disliked him for jailing their leader. (She richly deserved it: she hired assassins, stole billions of Ukrainian state money in cahoots with a former prime minister, made a crooked deal with Gazprom at the expense of Ukrainian consumers, and what not.) Extreme nationalists hated him for not eradicating the Russian language.
The US-orchestrated attack on the elected President followed Gene Sharp’s instructions to a tee, namely: (1) seize a central square and organise a mass peaceful sit-in, (2) speak endlessly of danger of violent dispersal, (3) if the authorities do nothing, provoke bloodshed, (4) yell bloody murder, (5) the authority is horrified and stupefied and (6) removed and (7) new powers take over.
The most important element of the scheme has never been voiced by the cunning Sharp, and that is why the Occupy Wall Street movement (who thumbed through the book) failed to achieve the desired result. You have to have the Masters of Discourse™ i.e., Western mainstream media, on your side. Otherwise, the government will squash you as they did with the Occupy and many other similar movements. But here, the Western media was fully on the rebels’ side, for the events were organised by the US embassy.
At first, they gathered for a sit-in on the Independence Square (aka “Maidan Square”) some people they knew: recipients of USAID grants via the NGO network, wrote a Ukrainian expert Andrey Vajra, networks of fugitive oligarch Khoroshkovski, neo-Nazis of the Right Sector and radicals of the Common Cause. The peaceful assembly was lavishly entertained by artists; food and drink were served for free, free sex was encouraged – it was a carnival in the centre of the capital, and it began to attract the masses, as would happen in every city in the known universe. This carnival was paid for by the oligarchs and by the US embassy.
But the carnival could not last forever. As per (2), rumours of violent dispersal were spread. People became scared and drifted away. Only a small crowd of activists remained on the square. Provocation as per (3) was supplied by a Western agent within the administration, Mr Sergey Levochkin. He wrote his resignation letter, posted it and ordered police to violently disperse the sit-in. Police moved in and dispersed the activists. Nobody was killed, nobody was seriously wounded, – today, after a hundredfold dead, it is ridiculous even to mention this thrashing, – but the opposition yelled bloody murder at the time. The world media, this powerful tool in the hands of Masters of Discourse, decried “Yanukovych massacred children”. The EC and the US slapped on sanctions, foreign diplomats moved in, all claiming they want to protect peaceful demonstrators, while at the same time beefing up the Maidan crowd with armed gunmen and Right Sector fighters.
We referred to Gene Sharp, but the Maidan had an additional influence, that of Guy Debord and his concept of Society of Spectacle. It was not a real thing, but a well-done make-believe, as was its predecessor, the August 1991 Moscow “coup”. Yanukovych did everything to build up the Maidan resistance: he would send his riot police to disperse the crowd, and after they did only half of the job, he would call them back, and he did this every day. After such treatment, even a very placid dog would bite.
The Spectacle-like unreal quality of Kiev events was emphasized by arrival of the imperial warmonger, the neocon philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy. He came to Maidan like he came to Libya and Bosnia, claiming human rights and threatening sanctions and bombing. Whenever he comes, war is following. I hope I shall be away from every country he plans to visit.
First victims of the Brown Revolution were the monuments – those of Lenin, for they do hate communism in every form, and those of the world war, because the revolutionaries solidarise with the lost side, with the German Nazis.
History will tell us to what extent Yanuk and his advisors understood what they were doing. Anyway, he encouraged the fire of Maidan by his inefficient raids by a weaponless police force. The neo-Nazis of Maidan used snipers against the police force, dozens of people were killed, but President Obama called upon Yanuk to desist, and he desisted. After renewed shooting, he would send the police in again. An EC diplomat would threaten him with the Hague tribunal dock, and he would call his police back. No government could function in such circumstances.
Eventually he collapsed, signed on the dotted line and departed for unknown destination. The rebels seized power, forbade the Russian language and began sacking Kiev and Lvov. Now the life of the placid people of Kiev has been turned into a living hell: daily robberies, beating, murder abound. The victors are preparing a military operation against the Russian-speaking areas in the South East of Ukraine. The spectacle of the revolution can yet turn really bloody.
Some Ukrainians hope that Julia Timoshenko, freshly released from jail, will be able to rein the rebels in. Others hope that President Putin will pay heed to the Ukrainian events, now that his Olympic games are, mercifully, finished. The spectacle is not over until the fat lady sings, but sing she will – her song still remains to be seen and heard.
English language editing by Ken Freeland.
Unless you’ve been in an underground bunker for the last month, you’d have heard that the Ukraine has gone topsy-turvy lately.
They seem to have escaped one old Soviet Union, only be reeled in by a new Soviet in the EU. There is also the problem of organized crime syndicates who have overrun the country.
Understanding the country’s recent history and following the money is important if you want to see which way the wind is blowing in Kiev…
Stalin and Krushchev Wanted Ukraine
For most Europeans, Ukraine is a gas transport corridor for bringing expensive Russian gas to Europe and Ukraine either overcharges Gazprom for gas transit fees, or does not pay Gazprom for the gas it takes for national consumption.
This Russian-Ukrainian gas game occasionally tips into gas embargoes – hitting consumers further down the line. As a geopolitical bargaining chip, conversely, Ukraine had considerable import - and weight – during the Cold War period which tapered off in 1989-91. Relatively quickly, Russia withdrew “nearly all” of its nuclear-tipped missiles, atomic warheads and nuclear military equipment and component inventories from Ukraine, in the 1990s.
That said, Ukraine is listed by human rights and corruption watchdog NGOs as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, tied with Bangladesh, Cameroon, the Central African Republic and Syria. Its postwar history following the defeat of Nazi Germany is a tragic story of Soviet megalomania, paranoia and oppression. The Nazi Germans probably killed about 15% of the total population, but about another 600,000 Western Ukrainians were arrested between 1944 and 1952, one-third executed and the remainder imprisoned in Soviet gulags or exiled to the eastern Soviet empire. Among their crimes was “non-performance” in agricultural output.
Administered by the rising political star and soon-to-be rival of Joseph Stalin, Nikita Khruschev, firstly in eastern Russian-speaking Ukraine, the kolkhoz collective-farm system was operated by chiefs selected by Khruschev. He empowered them to expel residents who “under-performed”. The kolkhoz chiefs quickly turned this into a racket protection and vendetta system for expelling their personal enemies, and the weak, the old and other “misfits”. Well over 10,000 were exiled to the eastern parts of the Soviet Union. For Khruschev, this was a highly effective policy which he recommended it for adoption across the USSR to Stalin, despite it periodically resulting in wide-area famines.
Similar to the “agro-towns” attempted by Ceaucescu of Romania, Khrushchev further destabilized Ukraine’s slowly recovering agricultural output with his scheme for population regrouping, which he later applied in Russia when he became Praesidium chief on the death of Stalin, following a classic Mafia-style power struggle with NKVD chief Beria. Beria was shot and killed with five of his associates by order of Khrushchev in Dec 1953. One of Beria’s proposed post-Stalin reform ideas was to liberate either or both East Germany and Ukraine, in exchange for cash payment by the West
Crime Syndicates want Ukraine
On the surface, mainstream media tells us today’s conflict in the Ukraine pitches the Russian-speaking half of the country in the east (where ailing president Yanukovich’s main support base is) against the more pro-Western, and alleged pro-EU, Ukrainian-speaking half in the west (where imprisoned Yulia Tymoshenko’s main support base is). More precisely, the Ukraine’s rapidly-deteriorating economic situation reflected by rapidly-rising interest rates on its sovereign debt bonds and Fitch’s recent downgrade, and its near-civil war street rebellion have reinforced its organized crime syndicates. Its organized criminals, and their enemies-and-allies in Russian, Bulgarian, Romanian and other east European organized crime syndicates, are vying for control of the State itself, to widen and deepen their lucrative activity.
The past week has seen President Yanukovych accept the resignation of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his cabinet, repeal anti-protest laws, provide an amnesty to detained protesters, and offer senior government jobs to the opposition – offers that were rejected. Moscow for its part has threatened it may hold back some or all of a promised Ukrainian bond-bailout package and a promised cut in gas prices for Ukraine until a new government is formed. The gas price cut and the loans, totalling $15bn (11 bn euros) were agreed in December, and widely seen as rewarding Yanukovich for Kiev’s rejection of an EU associate country deal for Ukraine.
Ukraine is one of six post-Soviet nations – along with Belarus, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia – to be invited to cooperate with the EU within a new ‘multilateral’ framework that is high on promises but slim on content. The framework seeks visa-free travel, better human rights, more democracy, and respect for the principles of the market economy and sustainable development – so say the EU websites, but the single most important economic content is a trade pact aimed at cutting tariffs and taxes, which are in any case decreasing on the Ukrainian side due to its membership of the WTO since 2009. Main EU exports to Ukraine include medicine, motor vehicles, mobile phones and other manufactured goods, while main EU imports were of low to mid-value: iron and steel products, vegetable oils, ferro-nickel ores, iron ores and crude oil.
Acting long before the Ukraine’s membership of the WTO, or the 2008 financial crisis – both of which spurred and favoured crime syndicate integration in east Europe, Russia and the EU – the present number of organized crime groups operating in eastern Europe is estimated at about 3,600 with each profiting from such prosaic products as household detergents, to fake medecines, human trafficking, prostiution and the Ukrainian favorites of hard drugs and firearms.Rob Wainwright, director of the EU’s crime-fighting agency, told the Financial Times in June 2013 that only concerning Europe’s black market in counterfeit foodstuffs, fake pharmaceuticals and substandard machine parts, this doubled in value to about €2bn since 2008.
Arms for Drugs and Arms for Cash
From, at latest 2002, US drug enforcement and security agencies warned the Bush administration of the Kiev-Tel Aviv-New York “Axis” of organized crime operating drugs-for-arms trades worldwide. This syndicate particularly focuses South American-source cocaine supplied by Colombia’s FARC and other Andean country crime entities, and Ukraine-source weapons and military equipment. Ukraine’s geographic role and location as a “window to the southern states” of the ex-USSR, makes it highly favoured for operating drugs-for-arms trades, today. Land-route heroin from Afghanistan, South American cocaine and Russian AK47s are the hard currencies featured by this trade.
Godfather of the AK47: Ukrainian Mikhail Kalashnikov.
Ukraine’s front-line status in the Cold War and its own arms-making industries made the country a major source for Russian licit and illicit arms exports, and Soviet-era materiel is still widely available. This ranges from the “iconic” AK47 rifle through to mines, grenades and military explosive-pyrotechnic devices, to night-sighting and communications equipment, and artillery pieces through the low-end range of 35mm-105mm, to also-iconic Soviet 72-ton T72 tanks, a highly depressed market where prices can be as low as scrap value only – about $3.50 per kilogram of weight.
Western security analysts, preferring not to have their names published, also point out that Ukraine is a “wonderland” of nuclear civil-military crossover materials and ordnance. Following the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown, then the collapse and break up of the USSR in 1989-91, they say that large amounts of unaccounted-for nuclear fuel rods, wastes and nuclear military components exist in the country. They also underline the increased technological sophistication of ex-Soviet national mafias and their Middle Eastern opposite numbers, able to produce “binary nuclear” weapons, from nuclear and non-nuclear components, transported separately to reduce detection for final re-assembly when required.
Ukraine’s now accelerating political destabilization creates a classic poker-game challenge for Vladimir Putin at this time. He can act to prevent the country “seceding to the West’, or being partitioned into its western and eastern parts.
Whether Putin clamps down or lets the country fall apart, or the domestic power struggle inside Ukraine continues with no clear winner, the transition interval will certainly feature action by organized crime to further and deepen its already-strong foothold.
What really happened in the Ukrainian crisis?
It is freezing cold in Kiev, legendary city of golden domes on the banks of Dnieper River – cradle of ancient Russian civilisation and the most charming of East European capitals. It is a comfortable and rather prosperous place, with hundreds of small and cosy restaurants, neat streets, sundry parks and that magnificent river. The girls are pretty and the men are sturdy. Kiev is more relaxed than Moscow, and easier on the wallet. Though statistics say the Ukraine is broke and its people should be as poor as Africans, in reality they aren’t doing too badly, thanks to their fiscal imprudence. The government borrowed and spent freely, heavily subsidised housing and heating, and they brazenly avoided devaluation of the national currency and the austerity program prescribed by the IMF. This living on credit can go only so far: the Ukraine was doomed to default on its debts next month or sooner, and this is one of the reasons for the present commotion.
A tug-of-war between the East and the West for the future of Ukraine lasted over a month, and has ended for all practical purposes in a resounding victory for Vladimir Putin, adding to his previous successes in Syria and Iran. The trouble began when the administration of President Yanukovich went looking for credits to reschedule its loans and avoid default. There were no offers. They turned to the EC for help; the EC, chiefly Poland and Germany, seeing that the Ukrainian administration was desperate, prepared an association agreement of unusual severity.
The EC is quite hard on its new East European members, Latvia, Romania, Bulgaria et al.: these countries had their industry and agriculture decimated, their young people working menial jobs in Western Europe, their population drop exceeded that of the WWII.
But the association agreement offered to the Ukraine was even worse. It would turn the Ukraine into an impoverished colony of the EC without giving it even the dubious advantages of membership (such as freedom of work and travel in the EC). In desperation, Yanukovich agreed to sign on the dotted line, in vain hopes of getting a large enough loan to avoid collapse. But the EC has no money to spare – it has to provide for Greece, Italy, Spain. Now Russia entered the picture. At the time, relations of the Ukraine and Russia were far from good. Russians had become snotty with their oil money, the Ukrainians blamed their troubles on Russians, but Russia was still the biggest market for Ukrainian products.
For Russia, the EC agreement meant trouble: currently the Ukraine sells its output in Russia with very little customs protection; the borders are porous; people move freely across the border, without even a passport. If the EC association agreement were signed, the EC products would flood Russia through the Ukrainian window of opportunity. So Putin spelled out the rules to Yanukovich: if you sign with the EC, Russian tariffs will rise. This would put some 400,000 Ukrainians out of work right away. Yanukovich balked and refused to sign the EC agreement at the last minute. (I predicted this in my report from Kiev full three weeks before it happened, when nobody believed it – a source of pride).
The EC, and the US standing behind it, were quite upset. Besides the loss of potential economic profit, they had another important reason: they wanted to keep Russia farther away from Europe, and they wanted to keep Russia weak. Russia is not the Soviet Union, but some of the Soviet disobedience to Western imperial designs still lingers in Moscow: be it in Syria, Egypt, Vietnam, Cuba, Angola, Venezuela or Zimbabwe, the Empire can’t have its way while the Russian bear is relatively strong. Russia without the Ukraine can’t be really powerful: it would be like the US with its Mid-western and Pacific states chopped away. The West does not want the Ukraine to prosper, or to become a stable and strong state either, so it cannot join Russia and make it stronger. A weak, poor and destabilised Ukraine in semi-colonial dependence to the West with some NATO bases is the best future for the country, as perceived by Washington or Brussels.
Angered by this last-moment-escape of Yanukovich, the West activated its supporters. For over a month, Kiev has been besieged by huge crowds bussed from all over the Ukraine, bearing a local strain of the Arab Spring in the far north. Less violent than Tahrir, their Maidan Square became a symbol of struggle for the European strategic future of the country. The Ukraine was turned into the latest battle ground between the US-led alliance and a rising Russia. Would it be a revanche for Obama’s Syria debacle, or another heavy strike at fading American hegemony?
The simple division into “pro-East” and “pro-West” has been complicated by the heterogeneity of the Ukraine. The loosely knit country of differing regions is quite similar in its makeup to the Yugoslavia of old. It is another post-Versailles hotchpotch of a country made up after the First World War of bits and pieces, and made independent after the Soviet collapse in 1991. Some parts of this “Ukraine” were incorporated by Russia 500 years ago, the Ukraine proper (a much smaller parcel of land, bearing this name) joined Russia 350 years ago, whilst the Western Ukraine (called the “Eastern Regions”) was acquired by Stalin in 1939, and the Crimea was incorporated in the Ukrainian Soviet Republic by Khrushchev in 1954.
The Ukraine is as Russian as the South-of-France is French and as Texas and California are American. Yes, some hundreds years ago, Provence was independent from Paris, – it had its own language and art; while Nice and Savoy became French rather recently. Yes, California and Texas joined the Union rather late too. Still, we understand that they are – by now – parts of those larger countries, ifs and buts notwithstanding. But if they were forced to secede, they would probably evolve a new historic narrative stressing the French ill treatment of the South in the Cathar Crusade, or dispossession of Spanish and Russian residents of California.
Accordingly, since the Ukraine’s independence, the authorities have been busy nation-building, enforcing a single official language and creating a new national myth for its 45 million inhabitants. The crowds milling about the Maidan were predominantly (though not exclusively) arrivals from Galicia, a mountainous county bordering with Poland and Hungary, 500 km (300 miles) away from Kiev, and natives of the capital refer to the Maidan gathering as a “Galician occupation”.
Like the fiery Bretons, the Galicians are fierce nationalists, bearers of a true Ukrainian spirit (whatever that means). Under Polish and Austrian rule for centuries, whilst the Jews were economically powerful, they are a strongly anti-Jewish and anti-Polish lot, and their modern identity centred around their support for Hitler during the WWII, accompanied by the ethnic cleansing of their Polish and Jewish neighbours. After the WWII, the remainder of pro-Hitler Galician SS fighters were adopted by US Intelligence, re-armed and turned into a guerrilla force against the Soviets. They added an anti-Russian line to their two ancient hatreds and kept fighting the “forest war” until 1956, and these ties between the Cold Warriors have survived the thaw.
After 1991, when the independent Ukraine was created, in the void of state-building traditions, the Galicians were lauded as ‘true Ukrainians’, as they were the only Ukrainians who ever wanted independence. Their language was used as the basis of a new national state language, their traditions became enshrined on the state level. Memorials of Galician Nazi collaborators and mass murderers Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych peppered the land, often provoking the indignation of other Ukrainians. The Galicians played an important part in the 2004 Orange Revolution as well, when the results of presidential elections were declared void and the pro-Western candidate Mr Yuschenko got the upper hand in the re-run.
However, in 2004, many Kievans also supported Yuschenko, hoping for the Western alliance and a bright new future. Now, in 2013, the city’s support for the Maidan was quite low, and the people of Kiev complained loudly about the mess created by the invading throngs: felled trees, burned benches, despoiled buildings and a lot of biological waste. Still, Kiev is home to many NGOs; city intellectuals receive generous help from the US and EC. The old comprador spirit is always strongest in the capitals.
For the East and Southeast of the Ukraine, the populous and heavily industrialised regions, the proposal of association with the EC is a no-go, with no ifs, ands or buts. They produce coal, steel, machinery, cars, missiles, tanks and aircraft. Western imports would erase Ukrainian industry right off the map, as the EC officials freely admit. Even the Poles, hardly a paragon of industrial development, had the audacity to say to the Ukraine: we’ll do the technical stuff, you’d better invest in agriculture. This is easier to say than to do: the EC has a lot of regulations that make Ukrainian products unfit for sale and consumption in Europe. Ukrainian experts estimated their expected losses for entering into association with the EC at anything from 20 to 150 billion euros.
For Galicians, the association would work fine. Their speaker at the Maidan called on the youth to ‘go where you can get money’ and do not give a damn for industry. They make their income in two ways: providing bed-and breakfast rooms for Western tourists and working in Poland and Germany as maids and menials. They hoped they would get visa-free access to Europe and make a decent income for themselves. Meanwhile, nobody offered them a visa-waiver arrangement. The Brits mull over leaving the EC, because of the Poles who flooded their country; the Ukrainians would be too much for London. Only the Americans, always generous at somebody’s else expense, demanded the EC drop its visa requirement for them.
While the Maidan was boiling, the West sent its emissaries, ministers and members of parliament to cheer the Maidan crowd, to call for President Yanukovich to resign and for a revolution to install pro-Western rule. Senator McCain went there and made a few firebrand speeches. The EC declared Yanukovich “illegitimate” because so many of his citizens demonstrated against him. But when millions of French citizens demonstrated against their president, when Occupy Wall Street was violently dispersed, nobody thought the government of France or the US president had lost legitimacy…
Victoria Nuland, the Assistant Secretary of State, shared her biscuits with the demonstrators, and demanded from the oligarchs support for the “European cause” or their businesses would suffer. The Ukrainian oligarchs are very wealthy, and they prefer the Ukraine as it is, sitting on the fence between the East and the West. They are afraid that the Russian companies will strip their assets should the Ukraine join the Customs Union, and they know that they are not competitive enough to compete with the EC. Pushed now by Nuland, they were close to falling on the EC side.
Yanukovich was in big trouble. The default was rapidly approaching. He annoyed the pro-Western populace, and he irritated his own supporters, the people of the East and Southeast. The Ukraine had a real chance of collapsing into anarchy. A far-right nationalist party, Svoboda (Liberty), probably the nearest thing to the Nazi party to arise in Europe since 1945, made a bid for power. The EC politicians accused Russia of pressurising the Ukraine; Russian missiles suddenly emerged in the western-most tip of Russia, a few minutes flight from Berlin. The Russian armed forces discussed the US strategy of a “disarming first strike”. The tension was very high.
Edward Lucas, the Economist’s international editor and author of The New Cold War, is a hawk of the Churchill and Reagan variety. For him, Russia is an enemy, whether ruled by Tsar, by Stalin or by Putin. He wrote: “It is no exaggeration to say that the [Ukraine] determines the long-term future of the entire former Soviet Union. If Ukraine adopts a Euro-Atlantic orientation, then the Putin regime and its satrapies are finished… But if Ukraine falls into Russia’s grip, then the outlook is bleak and dangerous… Europe’s own security will also be endangered. NATO is already struggling to protect the Baltic states and Poland from the integrated and increasingly impressive military forces of Russia and Belarus. Add Ukraine to that alliance, and a headache turns into a nightmare.”
In this cliff-hanging situation, Putin made his pre-emptive strike. At a meeting in the Kremlin, he agreed to buy fifteen billion euros worth of Ukrainian Eurobonds and cut the natural gas price by a third. This meant there would be no default; no massive unemployment; no happy hunting ground for the neo-Nazi thugs of Svoboda; no cheap and plentiful Ukrainian prostitutes and menials for the Germans and Poles; and Ukrainian homes will be warm this Christmas. Better yet, the presidents agreed to reforge their industrial cooperation. When Russia and Ukraine formed a single country, they built spaceships; apart, they can hardly launch a naval ship. Though unification isn’t on the map yet, it would make sense for both partners. This artificially divided country can be united, and it would do a lot of good for both of their populaces, and for all people seeking freedom from US hegemony.
There are a lot of difficulties ahead: Putin and Yanukovich are not friends, Ukrainian leaders are prone to renege, the US and the EC have a lot of resources. But meanwhile, it is a victory to celebrate this Christmas tide. Such victories keep Iran safe from US bombardment, inspire the Japanese to demand removal of Okinawa base, encourage those seeking closure of Guantanamo jail, cheer up Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, frighten the NSA and CIA and allow French Catholics to march against Hollande’s child-trade laws.
What is the secret of Putin’s success? Edward Lucas said, in an interview to the pro-Western Ekho Moskvy radio: “Putin had a great year – Snowden, Syria, Ukraine. He checkmated Europe. He is a great player: he notices our weaknesses and turns them into his victories. He is good in diplomatic bluff, and in the game of Divide and Rule. He makes the Europeans think that the US is weak, and he convinced the US that Europeans are useless”.
I would offer an alternative explanation. The winds and hidden currents of history respond to those who feel their way. Putin is no less likely a roguish leader of global resistance than Princess Leia or Captain Solo were in Star Wars. Just the time for such a man is ripe.
Unlike Solo, he is not an adventurer. He is a prudent man. He does not try his luck, he waits, even procrastinates. He did not try to change regime in Tbilisi in 2008, when his troops were already on the outskirts of the city. He did not try his luck in Kiev, either. He has spent many hours in many meetings with Yanukovich whom he supposedly personally dislikes.
Like Captain Solo, Putin is a man who is ready to pay his way, full price, and such politicians are rare. “Do you know what is the proudest word you will ever hear from an Englishman’s mouth?”, asked a James Joyce character, and answered: “His proudest boast is I paid my way.” Those were Englishmen of another era, long before the likes of Blair, et al.
While McCain and Nuland, Merkel and Bildt speak of the European choice for the Ukraine, none of them is ready to pay for it. Only Russia is ready to pay her way, in the Joycean sense, whether in cash, as now, or in blood, as in WWII.
Putin is also a magnanimous man. He celebrated his Ukrainian victory and forthcoming Christmas by forgiving his personal and political enemies and setting them free: the Pussy Riot punks, Khodorkovsky the murderous oligarch, rioters… And his last press conference he carried out in Captain Solo self-deprecating mode, and this, for a man in his position, is a very good sign.
“When also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers; and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which He had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. They forsook the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They aroused the Lord’s anger…they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths.” Judges 2:10-13
In his book “New Evangelicalism: the New World Order,” Paul Smith, the younger brother of Pastor Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel, reports that the second generation sons of faithful evangelicals and evangelical pastors are going astray. Among those who have already done so are Daniel Fuller, Frank Schaeffer, Rick Warren, and Chuck Smith Jr. (p. 177)
“New” evangelicals are traveling the broad smooth road to compromise, syncretism, universalism and evolutionary pantheism taken years ago by mainline Protestantism. Already some apostate evangelicals have embraced and are teaching pantheist conceptions of Jesus Christ.
In the “The Christ of the New Age Movement,” Ron Rhodes notes that apostate evangelical, now New Age theologian David Spangler defines Christ as a cosmic principle:
“Any old Christ will not do, not if we need to show that we have something better than the mainstream Christian traditions. It must be a cosmic Christ, a universal Christ, a New Age Christ.” The Christ is not so much a religious figure, “but rather a cosmic principle, a spiritual presence whose quality infuses and appears in various ways in all the religions and philosophies that uplift humanity and seek unity with spirit.” (“The Christ of the New Age Movement: Part One in a Two-Part Series on New Age Christology,” cited in “A Quantum Cosmic Christ,” Herescope BlogSpot, June 2012)
The cosmic Christ is the Omega refashioned. The Omega is the Hermetic Hindu-pantheist divine One Substance featured by apostate Catholic theologian Teilhard de Chardin in his New Religion and now by Leonard Sweet in his Quantum Spirituality.
Leonard Sweet, preacher, scholar, and ordained United Methodist clergyman teaches a version of de Chardin’s New Religion that he calls Quantum Spirituality. Sweet has remolded Omega as an embodiment of God in process of evolving within the substance of creation:
“Quantum spirituality bonds us to all creation as well as to other members of the human family…. This entails a radical doctrine of embodiment of God in the very substance of creation…. But a spirituality that is not in some way entheistic (whether pan- or trans-), that does not extend to the spirit-matter of the cosmos, is not Christian.” (ibid, Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality: A Postmodern Apologetic “)
The fall of the Christian Church is not limited to the Evangelical Church but rather the disaster is manifest over the entire denominational spectrum from the Presbyterian Church USA, which has lost hundreds of churches in the last few years, to the Episcopal and Catholic denominations.
In “Tidings of Discomfort and Joy,” Jamie Dean describes a scorched earth policy being conducted by the apostate Episcopal Church against faithful Anglicans leaving the TEC:
“TEC leaders have fought dozens of court battles to force congregations leaving the denomination to forfeit the buildings they, their parents, and their grandparents paid for.” (Jamie Dean, World Magazine, Dec. 28, 2013)
Phil Ashey of the American Anglican Council, an advocacy group for parishes and dioceses leaving the TEC, says these conflicts are a kind of “first fruits” of what faithful Christians outside TEC could face in coming years.
Since the TEC consecrated openly homosexual Gene Robinson as its first ’gay’ bishop a decade ago, hundreds of churches have fled the denomination. Departing churches emphasize TEC’s approval of open homosexuality as an outgrowth of deeper doctrinal problems: TEC leadership has questioned the authority of Scripture for decades.
Under Katherine Jefferts Schori, the first female presiding bishop, the scorched earth policy has reached new heights. The apostate Schori said this is because,
“Bad behavior must be confronted.” (ibid)
Schori preaches a brand of evolutionary pantheism while masquerading as a Christian bishop. As she mocks the crucial doctrines of the Christian faith, including the God of creation, the Incarnation, and the Trinity, she calls on Christians to boldly cross the frontier to become God while she taunts the Lord by use of the name Big Man,
“… and then points her finger at everyone listening and tells them that they have “missed the boat.” Jefferts Schori then proclaims that she has the answer for this. We all need the “act of crossing boundaries” to become God after which our hands become a “sacrament of mission.” In this way Schori continues “her mission of destroying the Christian faith through her rhetorical device of dismissive ridicule. (The False Theology of Episcopalian Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori,” Sarah Frances Ives, PhD, VirtueOnline, Wednesday, July 11, 2012)
Within the Catholic Church losses have also been devastating, said Patrick Buchanan:
“…Catholic losses have been staggering (and) Catholics who remain in the Church are not nearly as firm in the faith or devout as their parents were. The institutional shrinkage mirrors a spreading disbelief in doctrines that define the faith. Millions of Catholic children are being taught their faith by heretics.” (Suicide of a Super Power: Will America Survive to 2025? pp. 91-93)
Evolutionary pantheism quietly infiltrated the Catholic Church years ago. Bishop Fulton J. Sheen identifies the infamous heretic Teilhard de Chardin as the main villain:
“As one looks at the various trends in our day, one sees that Teilhard’s conception of spirituality is in the forefront. He knew that he had to pass through many hazards, but he was directed principally to the cosmic world…..His fundamental orientation was “to attain heaven through the fulfillment of earth. Christify matter.” (Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, Footprints In A Darkened Forest, p. 73)
By any name, Quantum Spirituality, Evolutionary Christianity, Schori’s brand of evolutionary pantheism or Teilhard’s New Religion, all are a synthesis of heresies whose primary doctrine is evolution.
Dr. R. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, describes our age as marked by so much spiritual and theological confusion that the God of the Bible has largely disappeared from view and been replaced by,
“…less imposing deities that are more amenable to the modern mind.” (The Disappearance of God, Mohler, p. xiii)
We are witnessing the secularization, paganization and evaporation of orthodox Biblical theism to which must be added rebellion against every vestige of authority, an inversion of history caused by evolutionary thinking, the privatization of truth and,
“…..the fact that millions of Americans claim a divine right to their own spiritual cocoon and belief system.” Americans, “now lay claim to their ‘own personal Jesus.’ This personal vision of Jesus Christ may well bear little or no resemblance to Jesus as He is revealed in the Bible.” (xiii)
We are on the very brink of an anti-orthodox Christian mentality empowered and promoted by America’s apostate paganized ‘church.’ This development is approved and applauded by America’s cultural elites. For a long time our ‘highly evolved’ cultural elites–political, legal, judicial, academic, scientific, entertainment, education—have been not only been largely post-Christian in their mentality but openly hostile:
“NBC’s sitcom “The New Normal” isn’t just trying to remake society for the Gay Left. It’s trying to remake Christianity, which is to say, destroy it.” (Brent Bozell, “The New Normal Christianity?” Townhall.com, Oct 26, 2012)
Paganized, post-Christian, sexually emancipated America is in a very advanced state of moral decay. Years ago when its’ decay was not as advanced, Pitirim Sorokin even then compared it with the morally depraved, sexually decadent social conditions in the Old Kingdom of Egypt 4,500 years ago just prior to its collapse. In his book, “The American Sex Revolution,” Sorokin reported that in the Old Kingdom:
“Sexual anarchy assumed extreme forms and spread through a large part of the population. Side by side with an increase of sexual perversions, a shameless sexual promiscuity also greatly increased. They seduced members of the same family. Relations between father and daughter…..son and mother…….Adultery, rape……prostitution greatly increased………homosexual love entered the mores of the population……all the aberrations of morbid eroticism……..unnatural relations, flagellations, and sodomy.” (p. 93)
When sodomy becomes not just socially acceptable to a people but is rather a cause for celebration then collapse cannot be far behind:
“The Southern Decadence Festival is one of our nation’s most notorious celebrations of sodomy, public sex acts, prostitution, drunkenness, and worse, but is by no means the only such festival. According to this year’s Autumn Gay Pride Calendar, decadence festivals are held over and across post-Christian America and Western Europe as well as in Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, Thailand, Brazil, Belarus, Ireland, Japan, Scotland, China, S. Africa, India and Taipei. (“Sex slaves, sexual anarchy and decadence festivals: ominous signs of something really rotten,” L. Kimball, Renew America, Oct. 25, 2012)
One of the central realities of America’s moral decay was the dawning of a post-Christian culture now rapidly transitioning into an anti-orthodox Christian society.
The anti-orthodox Christian consciousness is now well developed. Tolerance is perverted into a radical secularism that is wholly open to ‘gay’ marriage and sodomy, abortion as legalized ‘choice,’ perverse sex education for children, occult practices, Satanism, sorcery, Wicca, magic, nudity, pornography and Decadence Festivals but intolerant of God’s Authority, Moral Law and sexual ethics. The post-Christian mind is closed to the eternally unchanging higher truths of God but completely open to the idea that truth has no objective or absolute basis whatsoever. Indeed, the postmodern mind has a fanatical dedication to moral relativism, love of self, pleasure, and its own personal Jesus idols and gods, be they evolution-gods, science-gods, mystical passion-gods, Omegas, gods-of-reason or something else.
We are living in an age of deep and undeniable breakdown, an age of darkness and spreading evil where moral constraints and restraints have been thrown off in the name of a liberation that does not emancipate but enslave. Our increasingly bizarre age is marked by a fundamental failure of conviction in unison with deepening corruption and lawlessness characterized by pathological lying, hard-edged egotism and warped, distorted personalities; but then Scripture has told us that sinners love darkness rather than the light.
Something is happening to the consciousness of this age. A counter-conversion of consciousness is closing the soul to Jesus Christ while opening it to powers of darkness. If we listen closely said Albert Mohler, we can hear something,
“….like the closing of a steel door—a solemn, cataclysmic slamming of a door.” (p. 166)
No matter how much discomfort and suffering it causes us we nevertheless need to “wake up” and “see” and “comprehend” these developments in order to understand the challenges we are already facing and the those yet to come. We are in a time of shaking, and there is far worse to come. We are about to see what remains and what falls. There is a sense, said Dr. Mohler, that we are waiting for a signal for something to tell us which way we are going to go,
“Something is happening and about to happen. The landscape is changing, the skies are darkening—and this is something we know with a spiritual perception, a spiritual sense, a spiritual urgency. Something is happening that we as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ should see and understand. For we cannot say that we were not warned.” (pp. 158, 164, 166)
The events in Volgograd are part of a much larger body of events and a multi-faceted struggle that has been going on for decades as part of a cold war after the Cold War—the post-Cold War cold war, if you please—that was a result of two predominately Eurocentric world wars. When George Orwell wrote his book 1984 and talked about a perpetual war between the fictional entities of Oceania and Eurasia, he may have had a general idea about the current events that are going on in mind or he may have just been thinking of the struggle between the Soviet Union and, surrounded by two great oceans, the United States of America.
So what does Volgograd have to do with the dizzying notion presented? Firstly, it is not schizophrenic to tie the events in Volgograd to either the conflict in the North Caucasus and to the fighting in Syria or to tie Syria to the decades of fighting in the post-Soviet North Caucasus. The fighting in Syria and the North Caucuses are part of a broader struggle for the mastery over Eurasia. The conflicts in the Middle East are part of this very grand narrative, which to many seems to be so far from the reality of day to day life.
“Bandar Bush” goes to Mother Russia
For the purposes of supporting such an assertion we will have to start with the not-so-secret visit of a shadowy Saudi regime official to Moscow. Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, the infamous Saudi terrorist kingpin and former House of Saud envoy to Washington turned intelligence guru, last visited the Russian Federation in early-December 2013. Bandar bin Sultan was sent by King Abdullah to solicit the Russian government into abandoning the Syrians. The goal of Prince Bandar was to make a deal with the Kremlin to let Damascus be overtaken by the Saudi-supported brigades that were besieging the Syrian government forces from Syria’s countryside and border regions since 2011. Bandar met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the two held closed-door discussions about both Syria and Iran at Putin’s official residence in Novo-Ogaryovo.
The last meeting that Bandar had with Putin was a few months earlier in July 2013. That meeting was also held in Russia. The July talks between Prince Bandar and President Putin also included Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, the head of the Security Council of the Russian Federation. One would also imagine that discussion about the Iranians increased with each visit too, as Bandar certainly tried to get the Russians on bad terms with their Iranian allies.
After Bandar’s first meeting with President Putin, it was widely reported that the House of Saud wanted to buy Russia off. Agence France-Presse and Reuters both cited the unnamed diplomats of the Arab petro-monarchies, their March 14 lackeys in Lebanon, and their Syrian opposition puppets as saying that Saudi Arabia offered to sign a lucrative arms contract with Moscow and give the Kremlin a guarantee that the Arab petro-sheikdoms would not threaten the Russian gas market in Europe or use Syria for a gas pipeline to Europe.
Russia knew better than to do business with the House of Saud. It had been offered a lucrative arms deal by the Saudi regime much earlier, in 2008, to make some backdoor compromises at the expense of Iran. After the compromises were made by Moscow the House of Saud put the deal on ice. If the media leaks in AFP and Reuters were not tactics or lies in the first place aimed at creating tensions between the Syrian and Russian governments, the purportedly extravagant bribes to betray Syria were wasted on the ears of Russian officials.
The House of Saud and the undemocratic club of Arab petro-monarchies that form the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have always talked large about money. The actions of these self portrayed lords of the Arabia Peninsula have almost never matched their words and promises. To anyone who deals with them, the House of Saud and company are known for habitually making grand promises that they will never keep, especially when it comes to money. Even when money is delivered, the full amount committed is never given and much of it is stolen by their corrupt partners and cronies. Whether it is the unfulfilled 2008 arms contract with Russia that was facilitated with the involvement of Iraqi former CIA asset Iyad Allawi or the overabundant commitments of financial and logistical aid to the Lebanese and Palestinian peoples that never materialized, the Arab petro-sheikhdoms have never done more than talk grandly and then get their propagandist to write articles about their generosity and splendor. Underneath all the grandeur and sparkles there has always been bankruptcy, insecurity, and emptiness.
A week after the first meeting with Bandar, the Kremlin responded to the media buzz about the attempted bribe by Saudi Arabia. Yury Ushakov, one of Putin’s top aides and the former Russian ambassador to the US, categorically rejected the notion that any deal was accepted or even entertained by the Kremlin. Ushakov avowed that not even bilateral cooperation was discussed between the Saudis and Russia. According to the Kremlin official, the talks between Bandar and Putin were simply about the policies of Moscow and Riyadh on Syria and the second international peace conference being planned about Syria in Geneva, Switzerland.
More Leaks: Fighting Fire with Fire?
If his objective was to get the Russians to abandon Syria, Prince Bandar left both meetings in Russia empty-handed. Nevertheless, his visit left a trail of unverifiable reports and speculation. Discretion is always needed when analyzing these accounts which are part of the information war about Syria being waged on all sides by the media. The planted story from the Saudi side about trying to buy the Russians was not the only account of what took place in the Russian-Saudi talks. There was also a purported diplomatic leak which most likely surfaced as a counter-move to the planted story about Bandar’s proposal. This leak elaborated even further on the meeting between Bandar and Putin. Threats were made according to the second leak that was published in Arabic by the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir on August 21, 2013.
According to the Lebanese newspaper, not only did Prince Bandar tell the Russians during their first July meeting that the regimes of the GCC would not threaten the Russian gas monopoly in Europe, but he made promises to the Russians that they could keep their naval facility on the Mediterranean coast of Syria and that he would give the House of Saud’s guarantee to protect the 2014 Winter Olympics being held in the North Caucasian resort city of Sochi, on the eastern coast of the Black Sea, from the Chechen separatist militias under Saudi control. If Moscow cooperated with Riyadh and Washington against Damascus, the leak discloses that Bandar also stated that the same Chechen militants fighting inside Syria to topple the Syrian government would not be given a role in Syria’s political future.
When the Russians refused to betray their Syrian allies, Prince Bandar then threatened Russia with the cancellation of the second planned peace conference in Geneva and with the unleashing of the military option against the Syrians the leak imparts.
This leak, which presents a veiled Saudi threat about the intended attacks on the Winter Olympics in Sochi, led to a frenzy of speculations internationally until the end of August 2013, amid the high tensions arising from the US threats to attack Syria and the threats coming from Iran to intervene on the side of their Syrians allies against the United States. Originating from the same politically affiliated media circle in Lebanon, reports about Russian military preparations to attack Saudi Arabia in response to a war against Syria began to circulate from the newspaper Al-Ahed also, further fueling the chain of speculations.
A House of Saud Spin on the Neo-Con “Redirection”
Seymour Hersh wrote in 2007 that after the 2006 defeat of Israel in Lebanon that the US government had a new strategy called the “redirection.” According to Hersh, the “redirection” had “brought the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.” With the cooperation of Saudi Arabia and all the same players that helped launch Osama bin Ladin’s career in Afghanistan, the US government took “part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria.” The most important thing to note is what Hersh says next: “A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”
A new House of Saud spin on the “redirection” has begun. If there is anything the House of Saud knows well, it is rounding up fanatics as tools at the service of Saudi Arabia’s patrons in Washington. They did it in Afghanistan, they did it Bosnia, they have done it in Russia’s North Caucasus, they did it in Libya, and they are doing it in both Lebanon and Syria. It does not take the British newspaperThe Independent to publish an article titled “Mass murder in the Middle East is funded by our friends the Saudis” for the well-informed to realize this.
The terrorist bombings in Lebanon mark a new phase of the conflict in Syria, which is aimed at forcing Hezbollah to retreat from Syria by fighting in a civil war on its home turf. The attacks are part of the “redirection.” The House of Saud has accented this new phase through its ties to the terrorist attacks on the Iranian Embassy in Beirut on November 19, 2013. The attacks were carried out by individuals linked to the notorious Ahmed Al-Assir who waged a reckless battle against the Lebanese military from the Lebanese city of Sidon as part of an effort to ignite a sectarian civil war in Lebanon.
Al-Assir’s rise, however, was politically and logistically aided by the House of Saud and its shameless Hariri clients in Lebanon. He is also part of the same “redirection” policy and current that brought Fatah Al-Islam to Lebanon. This is why it is no surprise to see Hariri’s Future Party flag flying alongside Al-Qaeda flags in Lebanon. After Al-Assir’s failed attempt to start a sectarian Lebanese civil war, he went into hiding and it was even alleged that he was taken in by one of the GCC embassies.
In regard to the House of Saud’s roles in the bombings in Lebanon, Hezbollah would confirm that the attack on the Iranian Embassy in Beirut was linked to the House of Saud. Hezbollah’s leadership would report that the Abdullah Izzam Brigade, which is affiliated to Al-Qaeda and tied to the bombings, is directly linked to the intelligence services of Saudi Arabia.
Moreover, the Saudi agent, Majed Al-Majed, responsible for the attack would be apprehended by Lebanese security forces in late-December 2013. He had entered Lebanon after working with Al-Nusra in Syria. Fars News Agency, an Iranian media outlet, would report on January 2, 2014 that unnamed Lebanese sources had also confirmed that they had discovered that the attack was linked to Prince Bandar.
Wrath of the House of Saud Unleashed?
A lot changed between the first and second meetings that Prince Bandar and Vladimir Putin had, respectively in July 2013 and December 2013. The House of Saud expected its US patron to get the Pentagon involved in a conventional bombing campaign against Syria in the month of September. It is more than likely that Riyadh was in the dark about the nature of secret negotiations that the US and Iran were holding through the backchannel of Oman in the backdrop of what appeared to be an escalation towards open war.
Bandar’s threat to reassess the House of Saud’s ties with Washington is probably a direct result of the US government keeping the House of Saud in the dark about using Syria as a means of negotiating with the Iranian government. US officials may have instigated the House of Saud to intensify its offensive against Syria to catalyze the Iranians into making a deal to avoid an attack on Syria and a regional war. Moreover, not only did the situation between the US and Iran change, Russia would eventually sign an important energy contract for Syrian natural gas in the Mediterranean Sea. The House of Saud has been undermined heavily in multiple ways and it is beginning to assess its own expendability.
If one scratches deep enough, they will find that the same ilk that attacked the Iranian Embassy in Beirut also attacked the Russian Embassy in Damascus. Both terrorist attacks were gifts to Iran and Russia, which served as reprisals for the Iranian and Russian roles in protecting Syria from regime change and a destructive war. It should, however, be discerned if the House of Saud is genuinely lashing out at Iran and Russia or if it being manipulated to further the goals of Washington in the US negotiations with Tehran, Moscow, and Damascus.
In the same manner, the House of Saud wants to generously reward Hezbollah too for its role in protecting Syria by crippling Hezbollah domestically in Lebanon. Riyadh may possibly not want a full scale war in Lebanon like the Israelis do, but it does want to neutralize and eliminate Hezbollah from the Lebanese landscape. In this regard, Saudi Arabia has earnestly been scheming to recruit Lebanon’s President Michel Suleiman and the Lebanese military against Hezbollah and its supporters.
The Saud grant of three billion dollars to the Lebanese Armed Forces is not only blood money being given to Lebanon as a means of exonerating Saudi Arabia for its role in the terrorist bombings that have gripped the Lebanese Republic since 2013, the Saudi money is also aimed at wishfully restructuring the Lebanese military as a means of using it to neutralize Hezbollah. In line with the House of Saud’s efforts, pledges from the United Arab Emirates and reports that NATO countries are also planning on donating money and arms to the Lebanese military started.
In addition to the terrorists bombings in Lebanon and the attack on the Russian Embassy in Damascus, Russia has also been attacked. Since the Syrian conflict intensified there has been a flaring of tensions in Russia’s North Caucasus and a breakout of terrorist attacks. Russian Muslim clerics, known for their views on co-existence between Russia’s Christian and Muslim communities and anti-separatist views, have been murdered. The bombings in Volgograd are just the most recent cases and an expansion into the Volga of what is happening in the North Caucasus, but they come disturbingly close to the start of the Winter Olympics that Prince Bandar was saying would be “protected” if Moscow betrayed Syria.
Can the House of Saud Stand on its Own Feet?
It is a widely believed that you will find the US and Israelis pulling a lot of the strings if you look behind the dealings of the House of Saud. That view is being somewhat challenged now. Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the UK, threatened that Saudi Arabia will go it alone against Syria and Iran in a December 2013 article. The letter, like the Saudi rejection of their UN Security Council seat, was airing the House of Saud’s rage against the realists running US foreign policy.
In this same context, it should also be noted for those that think that Saudi Arabia has zero freedom of action that Israeli leaders have stressed for many years that Tel Aviv needs to cooperate secretly with Saudi Arabia to manipulate the US against Iran. This is epitomized by the words of Israeli Brigadier-General Oded Tira: “We must clandestinely cooperate with Saudi Arabia so that it also persuades the US to strike Iran.”
Along similar lines, some may point out that together the House of Saud and Israel got France to delay an interim nuclear agreement between the Iranians and the P5+1 in Geneva. The House of Saud rewarded Paris through lucrative deals, which includes making sure that the grant it gives to the Lebanese military is spent on French military hardware. Saad Hariri, the main Saudi client in Lebanon, even met Francois Hollande and French officials in Saudi Arabia in context of the deal. Appeasing the House of Saud and Israel, French President Hollande has replicated France’s stonewalling of the P5+1 interim nuclear deal with Iran by trying to spoil the second Syria peace conference in Geneva by saying that there can be no political solution inside Syria if President Bashar Al-Assad stays in power.
Again, however, it has to be asked, is enraging Saudi Arabia part of a US strategy to make the Saudis exert maximum pressure on Tehran, Moscow, and Damascus so that the United States can optimize its gains in negotiations? After all, it did turn out that the US was in league with France in Geneva and that the US used the French stonewalling of an agreement with Iran to make additional demands from the Iranians during the negotiations. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov revealed that the US negotiation team had actually circulated a draft agreement that had been amended in response to France’s demands before Iran and the other world powers even had a chance to study them. The draft by the US team was passed around, in Foreign Minister Lavrov’s own words, “literally at the last moment, when we were about to leave Geneva.”
Instead of debating on the level of independence that the House of Saud possesses, it is important to ask if Saudi Arabia can act on its own and to what degree can the House of Saud act as an independent actor. This looks like a far easier question to answer. It is highly unlikely that Saudi Arabia can act on its own in most instances or even remain an intact state. This is why Israeli strategists very clearly state that Saudi Arabia is destined to fall apart. “The entire Arabian Peninsula is a natural candidate for dissolution due to internal and external pressures, and the matter is inevitable especially in Saudi Arabia,” the Israeli Yinon Plan deems. Strategists in Washington are also aware of this and this is also why they have replicated models of a fragmented Saudi Arabia. This gives rise to another important question: if they US assess that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is not a sustainable entity, will it use it until the burns out like a flame? Is this what is happening and is Saudi Arabia being sacrificed or setup to take the blame as the “fall guy” by the United States?
Who is Hiding Behind the House of Saud?
Looking back at Lebanon, the messages from international media outlets via their headlines is that the bombings in Lebanon highlight or reflect a power struggle between the House of Saud and Tehran in Lebanon and the rest of the region. Saying nothing about the major roles of the US, Israel, and their European allies, these misleading reports by the likes of journalists like Anne Barnard casually blame everything in Syria and Lebanon on a rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, erasing the entire history behind what has happened and casually sweeping all the interests behind the conflict(s) under the rug. This is dishonest and painting a twisted Orientalist narrative.
The outlets trying to make it sound like all the Middle East’s problems are gravitating around some sort of Iranian and Saudi rivalry might as well write that “the Saudis and Iranians are the sources behind the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the sources behind the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq that crippled the most advanced Arab country, the ones that are blockading medication from reaching Gaza due to their rivalry, the ones who enforced a no-fly zone over Libya, the ones that are launching killer drone attacks on Yemen, and the ones that are responsible for the billions of dollars that disappeared from the Iraqi Treasury in 2003 after Washington and London invaded that country and controlled its finances.” These outlets and reports are tacitly washing the hands of actors like Washington, Tel Aviv, Paris, and London clean of blood by trying to construct a series of false narratives that either blame everything on a regional rivalry between Tehran and Riyadh or the premise that the Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims are fighting an eternal war that they are biologically programmed to wage against one another.
Arabs and Iranians and Shias and Sunnis are tacitly painted as un-human creatures that cannot be understood and savages to audiences. The New York Times even dishonestly implies that the Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims in Lebanon are killing one another in tit-for-tat attacks. It sneakily implies that Hezbollah and its Lebanese rivals are assassinating one another. Bernard, its reporter in Lebanon who was mentioned earlier, along with another colleague write:
In what have been seen as tit-for-tat attacks, car bombs have targeted Hezbollah-dominated neighborhoods in the southern suburbs of Beirut and Sunni mosques in the northern city of Tripoli.
On Friday, a powerful car bomb killed Mohamad B. Chatah, a former Lebanese finance minister who was a major figure in the Future bloc, a political group that is Hezbollah’s main Sunni rival.
The New York Times is cunningly trying to make its readers think that Hezbollah was responsible for the bombing as part of a Shiite-Sunni sectarian conflict by concluding with an explanation that the slain former Lebanese finance minister belonged to “Hezbollah’s main Sunni rival” after saying that the bombings in Lebanon “have been seen as tit-for-tat attacks” between the areas that support Hezbollah and “Sunni mosques” in Tripoli
The US and Israel wish that a Shiite-Sunni sectarian conflict was occurring in Lebanon and the rest of the Middle East. They have been working for this. It has been them that have been manipulating Saudi Arabia to instigate sectarianism. The US and Israel have been prodding the House of Saud—which does not represent the Sunni Muslims, let alone the people of Saudi Arabia which are under its occupation—against Iran, all the while trying to conceal and justify the conflict being instigated as some sort of “natural” rivalry between Shiites and Sunnis that is being played out across the Middle East.
It has been assessed with high confidence by outsiders concerned by the House of Saud’s inner dealings that Prince Bandar is one of the three Al-Saud princes managing Saudi Arabia’s security and foreign policy; the other two being Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, the Saudi deputy foreign minister and one of King Abdullah’s point men on Syria due to his ties to Syria from his maternal side, and Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, the interior minister. All three of them are tied to the United States more than any of their predecessors. Prince Bandar himself has a long history of working closely with the United States, which explains the endearing moniker of “Bandar Bush” that he is widely called by. “Chemical Bandar” can be added to the list too, because of the reports about his ties to the Syrian chemical weapon attacks in Ghouta.
As a US client, Saudi Arabia is a source of instability because it has been conditioned hence by Washington. Fighting the terrorist and extremist threat is now being used by the US as a point of convergence with Iran, which coincidently has authored the World Against Violence and Extremism (WAVE) motion at the United Nations. In reality, the author of the regional problems and instability has been Washington itself. In a masterstroke, the realists now at the helm of foreign policy are pushing American-Iranian rapprochement on the basis of what Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former national security advisor of the US, said would be based on Tehran and Washington working together to secure Iran’s “volatile regional environment.” “Any eventual reconciliation [between the US and Iranian governments] should be based on the recognition of a mutual strategic interest in stabilizing what currently is a very volatile regional environment for Iran,” he explains. The point should not be lost either that Brzezinski is the man who worked with the Saudis to arm the Afghan Mujahedeen against the Soviets after he organized an intelligence operation to fool the Soviets into militarily entering Afghanistan in the first place.
The House of Saud did not work alone in Afghanistan during the Cold War either. It was rigorously backed by Washington. The United States was even more involved in the fighting. It is the same in Syria. If the diplomatic leak is to be believed about the meeting between Bandar and Putin, it is of merit to note that “Bandar Bush” told Putin that any “Saudi-Russian understanding” would also be part of an “American-Russian understanding.”
Has the “Redirection” Seen its Stalingrad?
Volgograd was called Stalingrad for a part of Soviet history, in honour of the Republic of Georgia’s most famous son and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. It was Volgograd, back then called Stalingrad, where the Germans were stopped and the tide of war in Europe was turned against Hitler and his Axis allies in Europe. The Battle of Stalingrad was where the Nazis were defeated and it was in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe where the bulk of the fighting against the Germans was conducted. Nor is it any exaggeration to credit the Soviets—Russian, Kazakh, Uzbek, Tajik, Tartar, Georgian, Armenian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Chechen, and all—for doing most of the fighting to defeat the Germans in the Second World War.
Judging by the bellicose 2013 New Years Eve speech of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the terrorist attacks in Volgograd will be the start of another Battle of Stalingrad of some sorts and the launch of another Russian “war on terror.” Many of the terrorists that Russia will go after are in Syria and supported by the House of Saud.
The opponents of the Resistance Bloc that Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and the Palestinian resistance groups form have called the battlefields in Syria the Stalingrad of Iran and its regional allies. Syria has been a Stalingrad of some sorts too, but not for the Resistance Bloc. The alliance formed by the US, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and Israel has begun to unravel in its efforts to enforce regime change in Syria. The last few years have marked the beginning of a humiliating defeat for those funding extremism, separatism, and terrorism against countries like Russia, China, Iran, and Syria as a means of preventing Eurasian cohesion. Another front of this same battle is being politically waged by the US and the EU in the Ukraine in a move to prevent the Ukrainians from integrating with Belarus, Russia, and Kazakhstan.
Volgograd and the Conquest of Eurasia
While speculation has been entertained with warning in this text, most of what has been explained has not been speculative. The House of Saud has had a role in destabilizing the Russian Federation and organizing terrorist attacks inside Russia. Support or oppose the separatist movements in the North Caucasus, the point is that they have been opportunistically aided and used by the House of Saud and Washington. Despite the authenticity of the narrative about Bandar’s threats against Russia, Volgograd is about Syria and Syria is about Volgograd. Both are events taking place as part of the same struggle. The US has been trying to encroach into Syria as a means of targeting Russia and encroaching deeper in the heart of Eurasia.
When George Orwell wrote 1984 he saw the world divided into several entities at constant or “eternal” war with one another. His fictitious superstates police language, use total surveillance, and utterly manipulate mass communication to indoctrinate and deceive their peoples. Roughly speaking, Orwell’s Oceania is formed by the US and its formal and informal territories in the Western Hemisphere, which the Monroe Doctrine has essentially declared are US colonies, confederated with Britain and the settler colonies-cum-dominions of the former British Empire (Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and South Africa). The Orwellian concept of Eurasia is an amalgamation of the Soviet Union with continental Europe. The entity of Eastasia on the other hand is formed around China. Southeast Asia, India, and the parts of Africa that do not fall under the influence of Oceanic South Africa are disputed territory that is constantly fought for. Although not specifically mentioned, it can be extrapolated that Southwest Asia, where Syria is located, or parts of it are probably part of this fictional disputed territory, which includes North Africa.
If we try to fit Orwellian terms onto the present set of global relations, we can say that Oceania has made its moves against Eurasia/Eastasia for control of disputed territory (in the Middle East and North Africa).
1984 is not just a novel, it is a warning from the farseeing Orwell. Nonetheless, never did he imagine that his Eurasia would make cause with or include Eastasia through a core triple alliance and coalition comprised of Russia, China, and Iran. Eurasia will finish, in one way or another, whatOceania has started. All the while, as the House of Saud and the other rulers of the Arab petro-sheikhdoms continue to compete with one another in building fancy towers, the Sword of Damocles is getting heavier over their heads.
Source: Global Research
Turkey is a secular state. So claim its government and nearly all mainstream Western media. They are mistaken.
In civilized, democratic countries, secularism means not only a respectful separation between church and state but also freedom of religion. As we shall demonstrate, Turkish policies have long been the antithesis of secularism.
The Turkish government massively supports and funds Islam – specifically Sunni Islam – inside the country. Turkey simultaneously represses religions such as Alevism, and bullies and persecutes indigenous Christians, most of whom it liquidated in 20th century genocides. Moreover, it uses Islam to project Turkish political power into Europe, Asia, and elsewhere. Turkey’s system is more properly termed State Islam.
This article is not a criticism of Islam or its faithful. We respect both. Turkey’s secularism myth, nevertheless, cries out to be laid bare.
The Directorate of Religious Affairs – known as the Diyanet – is the government body that represents and directs all of Sunni Islam in Turkey. Created in 1924, a year after the Republic of Turkey was formed, the Diyanet is enshrined in Article 136 of the Turkish Constitution. The Diyanet is huge and powerful. Operating under the Prime Minister, it employs about 100,000. All Sunni clergy are salaried civil servants of the Diyanet.
The Diyanet’s $2 billion annual outlay exceeds the combined budgets of Turkey’s Foreign, Energy, and Environmental Ministries. By law a political party can be dissolved if it dares to advocate the Diyanet’s abolition.
Until recently, the Diyanet wrote all the sermons for its clergy, but reportedly now sometimes allows them to write their own, though their contents are controlled.
Would the U.S. – or any democratic Western country – be termed “secular” if it funded a huge Christian government agency that employed all Christian clergy and controlled their sermons? Obviously not.
Who ownsTurkey’s 80,000 mosques? It’s not always clear. Even many Turks wonder. For sure, however, the Diyanet controls all mosques. (Shiite Muslims represent only about 3% of Turkey’s 80 million people and are largely independent of the Diyanet.)
Two large mosques to be built on Istanbul’s Camlica Hill and Taksim Square are personal projects of Prime Minister Erdogan. The government is apparently paying most of the costs, not something a secular state would do.
The Diyanet operates not only in Turkey but worldwide. Turkish foreign policy and the Diyanet are intertwined. The latter promotes the country’s political influence abroad.
The Diyanet has a Foreign Affairs department that sends religious consultants not only into Muslim countries, such as those in Central Asia and Africa, but also into the United States, France, Germany, Great Britain, Sweden, and other European countries.
Indeed, some Turkish embassies and consulates have a religious affairs department and attachés that work with local Diyanet representatives. Turkey is very active, for instance, in the Netherlands where it reportedly pays the salaries of the Diyanet-affiliated Dutch Islamic Foundation’s staff.
In partnership with Turkey’s Religious Foundation, the Diyanet has in the last two decades constructed or renovated mosques in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia, northern Cyprus, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and elsewhere.
A $100 million, 15-acre Turkish American Culture and Civilization Center (TACCC), which includes a large mosque, is being built in Lanham, Maryland, 14 miles from Washington, D.C. It is “a project of the government of Turkey” and the Turkish American Community Center. The latter’s older mosque is “related to the Republic of Turkey and the Department of Religious Affairs [Diyanet].” Several months ago, PM Erdogan placed a ceremonial stone at the TACCC construction site.
No truly secular state would do these things. Nor would it persecute persons of other religions.
Last year the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), established by Congress, placed Turkey in its worst category, a “Country of Particular Concern,” alongside Burma, China, Pakistan, and a dozen others.
Turkey, noted the USCIRF, “significantly restricts religious freedom, especially for non-Muslim religious minority communities – including the Greek, Armenian, and SyriacOrthodoxChurches, the Roman Catholic and ProtestantChurches, and the Jewish community.”
Restrictions that “deny non-Muslim communities the rights to train clergy, offer religious education, and own and maintain places of worship, have led to their decline, and in some cases their virtual disappearance.”
Such mistreatment of Christians, numbering only about 100,000, is particularly reprehensible given that Turkey carried out genocide from 1915 to 1923 against millions of indigenous Christian Armenians, Greeks, and Syriacs, including many Catholics and Protestants.
The persecution of non-Muslims continued even after the Turkish Republic came about in 1923. The infamous Capital Tax (Varlik Vergisi) program during World War II, as but one example, deliberately taxed Christians and Jews at extortionate rates that often exceeded their income. Men were sent to labor camps in the interior when unable to pay. Families were bankrupted. Only an international outcry stopped the program.
Thousands of Christian churches, schools, hospitals, orphanages, cemeteries, and other community properties have been continually seized by Turkey in the past several decades.
Though Turkey has recently returned some of these properties under international pressure, the vast majority has not been, and probably will not be, returned.
Countless ancient Armenian churches and monasteries, such as Saint Mark’s (Nshan) in Sivas, have been deliberately destroyed, sometimes with explosives. Others serve as stables. Earlier this year in the cities of Iznik and Trabzon, old Greek churches were converted to mosques.
Alevism is a religion that has some 10 to 20 million adherents in Turkey. Complex and somewhat mysterious, it contains elements of Shia Islam, Sufism, paganism, and other spiritual and religious traditions. Alevis worship in houses called cemevis, not mosques. Alevis and cemevis are not recognized by the Turkish government. Alevis complain bitterly, to little avail.
Alevis have long been the victims of discrimination and even violent attacks, such as in Sivas in 1993 when 35 leading Alevis were murdered by mobs, and most recently this year in Ankara, when police fired tear-gas at protesting Alevis.
“Turkey may look like a secular state on paper,” says Izzettin Dogan, a leading Alevi, “but in terms of international law it is actually a Sunni Islamic state.” He is correct, but most of the outside world is oblivious to voices such as his.
Some Turks feel that their country is secular because the Diyanet’s hegemony moderates Islam against extremist tendencies. There may be some truth to that.
But as secularism must include a respectful distance between religion and state, Turkey would still not qualify. Along with Turkey’s domestic religious repression, and employing the Diyanet in foreign policy, the claim of secularism is simply fallacious.
The Turkish government is in full-blown denial about secularism and religious freedom, as evidenced by PM Erdogan’s preposterous claim two years ago that “Turkey is a secular state where all religions are equal.”
If Turkey is ever to be secular, it must allow the free exercise of all religions – including Islam – and guarantee the rights of the faithful to be free from harassment and compulsion. The Turkish government’s acknowledgement of its past and present wrongs, especially to the non-Turkish and non-Muslim communities, and making genuine amends, must be part of this process.
Until then – particularly in the West – mainstream media, governments, religious leaders, academicians, and political analysts should cease swallowing Turkey’s fraudulent claim of secularism.
In March of 1836, a young man of twenty-three years of age took his sword out of its scabbard and drew a line in the sand in front of an old mission outside of San Antonio, Texas, and called on the men defending that mission who were willing to stay on the ramparts and face an opposing army more than ten times their number to signify their commitment by stepping across the line. Of course, the young man was William Barrett Travis and the old mission was the Alamo. He could not have known it then, but Travis’ line in the sand would forever become the benchmark by which all future acts of commitment would be measured. In a mystical way, but, then again, in very real way, Travis’ line in the sand is being drawn again. Oh, it may not be a line in dirt drawn by the point of a sword; it is a line in the hearts of men being drawn by the Spirit of God.
My last three columns (not including the column promoting THE FREEDOM DOCUMENTS) generated more responses than any three columns I have ever written, and I have been writing this column for some fifteen years. At first, the responses were mostly negative and often vitriolic. But this past week, responses have been over 90% positive and very enthusiastic. I am confident that the manner in which these columns have brought out intense emotion and determination on both sides is a microcosm of what is happening nationally. A line in the sand for freedom is being drawn once again.
This line in the sand for freedom is separating people in a major way. And this is not necessarily a bad thing. In the same way that God commanded Abram to separate from his home and kin, so, too, the Spirit of God is separating people many times from their friends, their neighbors, their kinfolk, and, yes, their church families. I seem to recall that during the period of the early church, the conflict of principle forever separated the apostles Paul and Silas. And during America’s War for Independence, the conflict of principle separated Benjamin Franklin and his son William–as it did tens of thousands of others.
Perhaps not since the days of Patrick Henry, Sam Adams, et al., have Americans been forced to deal–intellectually, reasonably, emotionally, volitionally, and spiritually–with the fundamental issues of liberty as we are being forced to do today. For way too long, Americans have taken freedom for granted. For way too long, our educational and religious institutions (not to mention our homes) have not taught the fundamental principles of liberty. This negligence has brought our country to the brink of oppression and despotism. And, just as was the case in Colonial America, a line in the sand for freedom is being drawn in the hearts of men.
This internal line in the sand is being drawn irrespective of a person’s education, temperament, upbringing, intelligence, or faith. While some men seem to be content to live under the heel of governmental oppression, many others have an innate thirst for freedom that all of the armies in the world cannot quench.
In truth, the thirst for freedom is part of Natural Law. A horse is not broken without a fight; a tiger or lion will pace its cage as long as it can walk looking for an avenue of escape; a bird will fly around its cage ten thousand times looking for an opening to return to the sky. Yes, animals can be broken–and so can be some men, unfortunately. But the innate desire for freedom is born in the soul of every man.
However, the desire for comfort, ease, and material pleasure is a handsome tempter that many people find more attractive than the harsh and weather-torn face of liberty. Plus, the further liberty slips out of view, the more vague the memory of it becomes. And before we realize it, the face of liberty is only seen in the irrelevant relics of the songs and statues of history. But it is exactly at this point that the Spirit of God begins to renew in the hearts of men the Natural thirst for liberty. And that is precisely what is happening now.
All over America, and, yes, all over the world, people’s hearts are beating fast for freedom. I am receiving thousands of letters and emails from people all over the globe. Unfortunately for many of these people, they do not live in a country in which the governmental and political foundation and structure is conducive to the reclamation of liberty. But in the United States, it is not a matter of government; it is a matter of will. Do the American people yet have the will to reclaim liberty?
While it would appear that the majority of today’s Americans have allowed ignorance, materialism, and false Bible teaching regarding the principles of liberty to suppress their love of liberty, I am absolutely convinced that the spirit of liberty is swelling in the hearts of teeming millions of people. Highly educated and high school dropouts, affluent and average, Christians and unchurched, men and women, young and old: their hearts are ablaze with the love of liberty. And they are no longer content to surround themselves with those who would allow the chains of servitude to be clamped around their necks.
Are we patriots or loyalists? That question had to be answered by every man and woman in Colonial America. The same question must be answered by every American today. Are we going to bravely fight for the principles of liberty as did our patriot forebears, or are we going to be loyal to a corrupt and tyrannical system that is literally choking the life out of our freedoms? And how each of us answers that question will determine the direction and destination of our lives and futures.
The freedom to separate is a Natural right. Forced union is not a union at all; it is enslavement. The current world and U.S. maps are testimonies to the right of Natural separation. Pat Buchanan recently wrote:
“In the last decade of the 20th century, as the Soviet Empire disintegrated, so, too, did that prison house of nations, the USSR.
“Out of the decomposing carcass came Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Moldova, all in Europe; Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Caucasus; and Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan in Central Asia.
“Transnistria then broke free of Moldova, and Abkhazia and South Ossetia fought free of Georgia.
“Yugoslavia dissolved far more violently into the nations of Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Kosovo.
“The Slovaks seceded from Czechoslovakia.”
Buchanan also notes that in the U.S., “Four of our 50 states–Maine, Vermont, Kentucky, West Virginia–were born out of other states.”
See Pat’s column at:
Think of this, too: the most fundamental and sacred union of all is the union of a man and woman in marriage. Had Adam and Eve not fallen into sin, there would, no doubt, be no right or reason for separation. (Matthew 19:8) But with the fall of man into sin came all kinds of abuse. As a result, the Scriptures grant divorce (separation) on the grounds of both adultery (Matthew 19) and abandonment (I Corinthians 7). While never preferred, few among us would deny the right of a husband or wife to separate under certain circumstances. Because not every man is willing to be governed by the Natural and revealed laws of God, men are granted the right to separate themselves from those who would violate the fundamental principles upon which the union is based. This is true maritally, ecclesiastically, spiritually, socially, and politically.
In 1836, Will Travis drew a line in the sand to separate those who were willing to defend the liberty of Texas on the ramparts of the Alamo from those who were not. And I am convinced that God is drawing a line in the hearts of men today for the same reason: to separate those who are willing to give their lives in the defense of liberty from those who are not. And, ironically, the freedom of everyone–including the ones who are not willing to defend it–depends on the willingness of the ones who are. I guess it’s always been that way.
I know which side of the line I am on; and after the deluge of correspondence I have received over the past couple of weeks, I know I am not alone.
The scenes in Kiev over the past few days have been reminiscent of the “Orange Revolution” in the fall of 2004, which paved the way for Viktor Yushchenko’s eventual victory in the disputed presidential election. There are several significant differences, however, which make a similar outcome unlikely.
The first is that the trigger for the street protests in 2004 was the well-founded suspicion of electoral fraud. Now it is President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision not to sign an association agreement with the European Union, and to seek closer ties to the Russian-sponsored customs union which also includes Kazakhstan and Belarus (with Armenia slated to join the bloc next year). The accusation of fraud was credible enough nine years ago to paralyze the administration of former President Leonid Kuchma, already discredited by years of corruption and scandals. The current government, by contrast, is displaying an unexpectedly high degree of self-confidence, apparently convinced that in extremis it can count on the support of the plurality of Ukrainians who feel uneasy about the proposed EU agreement. The government’s ability to retain control was bolstered on December 3, when it comfortably survived a parliamentary vote of no confidence tabled by opposition deputies: there have been no desertions from government ranks, as expected by the opposition. Yanukovych’s departure for China on previously agreed schedule is counter-indicative of a beleaguered leader running out of options.
The demonstrators “won’t go back to their homes until they accomplish what they came here for,” an unidentified protestor told the CNN Tuesday, but the goalpost has shifted. They initially came to protest the non-signing of the EU deal, but by the weekend they started demanding a street-forced regime change. The shift was not spontaneous. It was agreed upon and launched on Sunday by various Western-financed “civic” groups, with the intention of repeating the scenario initially tested by “Otpor” in Belgrade in October 2000, and repeated in Tbilisi in the fall of 2003 and in Kiev a year later. (“The Democracy Small Grants Program enables the Embassy community in Kyiv to support unique and sustainable pilot projects fostering democratic reforms in a given field or geographic region,” the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine website announces. “Over 200 projects from Ukrainian NGOs have received funding…” The big grants remain undisclosed, but they are reliably estimated to go into tens of millions.)
The Western media narrative has been customarily one-dimensional: Ukrainians are protesting because they want to break free from the grip of “Putin’s Russia” and put their country firmly on the “European path.” The reality is more complex, as usual. Judging by the latest opinion poll, conducted by the politically neutral Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) in mid-November, 40.8 per cent of respondents said they would vote in favor of joining the Customs Union in a referendum, with 33.1 per cent opposed. Support for joining the customs union was very high in the east of the country (64.5 per cent) and in the south (54 per cent), dropping to 16.4 percent in the west. Asked if they would vote in favor of Ukraine joining the European Union, 39.7 per cent were in favor and 35.1 per cent opposed, with regional balances neatly reversed. This reflects the traditional divide of Ukraine into the pro-Russian east and pro-EU west, but this time cultural preferences are mixed with economic issues.
The Western media coverage tends to ignore economic considerations behind Yanukovych’s decision not to sign the EU agreement. In addition to the high cost of systemic adjustment to EU standards, Ukraine would have opened its market to European goods with which its own industrial products would have been hardly able to compete at home, let alone abroad. As Le Monde Diplomatique commented on December 3, the EU demanded “sacrifices from the Ukrainians without providing their country with any significant financial compensation.” Yanukovych called an earlier EU offer of 600 million euros ($800 million) in aid “humiliating,” as indeed it was, considering that Ukraine’s estimated cost of upgrading to EU standards alone would amount to $19 billion (€14.7bn) a year. Ukraine is on the verge of insolvency, and the likely cost of signing the EU deal would have been a mind-boggling $200bn over the next decade – which is more than the country’s current annual GDP.
The EU wanted to woo Ukraine on the cheap, and failed. Had Yanukovych received an adequate financial incentive—matching the offers of cheaper gas, trade incentives and cheap credit from Moscow—he probably would have signed. He is not a dyed-in-the-wool Russophile, as the checkered history of his relations with the Kremlin over the past three years indicates. Brussels has made an offer he had to refuse, however, regardless of his ideological preferences. Heavy-handed Western insistence on the immediate release of Yulia Tymoshenko only added to his resolve. Weathering the ensuing unsurprising storm in Kiev’s streets entailed, in his estimation, fewer risks than risking bankruptcy and alienating his political base in the industrial heartland. He is a politician, after all, and his calculus in any key decision is therefore based on whether it will improve his odds of holding on to power.
“We’re extremely disappointed that the Russian government would take this step despite our very clear and lawful requests in public and in private to have Mr. Snowden expelled to the United States to face the charges against him,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said. He added that Barack Obama might now boycott a bilateral meeting with Putin in September, due to be held when the President travels to St. Petersburg for a G20 summit on September 5-6.
“Russia has stabbed us in the back, and each day that Mr. Snowden is allowed to roam free is another twist of the knife,” says Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). He urged Obama to insist on moving out of Russia the G20 summit.
Russia’s action is a “disgrace and a deliberate effort to embarrass the United States… a slap in the face of all Americans,” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said. “Now is the time to fundamentally rethink our relationship with Putin’s Russia, he added. Mc Cain and his GOP colleague Lindsey Graham suggested the United States should retaliate by completing all missile-defense programs in Europe and proceeding with further expansion of NATO to include Russia’s neighbor Georgia.
Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) predicted that Snowden is “going to want to get back to the United States in any way possible after he realizes what it’s like to live in a totalitarian state.”
We are not going to discuss now which is more “totalitarian,” Putin’s Russia or Obama’s America; my views on the kind of society we live in are presented here. We are also not going to join the “Traitor or Hero” debate on Snowden. Two technical points need to be made in the context of the White House and Congressional reactions to Snowden’s Russian asylum: (1) America has granted asylum to the Chechen “foreign minister,” the spokesman for one of the most barbarian regimes in recent history, who is wanted in Russia for terrorism; and (2) America “renditions” Russian citizens from third countries to have them tried for crimes allegedly committed in Russia without informing the Russian authorities.
Imagine the No. 3 leader of a terrorist separatist movement in southern Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, a group guilty of murdering thousands of unarmed Anglos—airline passengers, theatergoers, women, hospital patients, and schoolchildren—being granted political asylum in Russia and living openly for over a decade in a posh part of Moscow, courtesy of Russia’s taxpayers. One can only imagine the paroxysm of rage in the White House and on the Hill. Diplomatic relations would be severed. McCain-Graham would urge nuking Russia.
No needs to imagine much, just reverse the roles. Ilyas Akhmadov, foreign minister and chief global media advocate of the short-lived “Chechen Republic,” until 2000 was the third highest-ranking leader of that blood-soaked monstrosity, after Aslan Maskhadov and Shamil Basayev. To take but one exampke, he was directly responsible for the atrocities of the Chechen terrorist regime, including the invasion of the Russian Republic of Dagestan in the summer of 1999 when hundreds of unarmed men, women, and children were murdered. According to the UNHCR, 32,000 people were driven from their homes. And yet Akhmadov was granted political asylum in the United States in 2003, in spite of Russia’s repeated and amply documented demands for his extradition for a variety of terrorist offenses. As Professor Robert Bruce Ware asked eight years ago (“Response to Brzezinski,” Johnson’s Russia List, March 20, 2005), if the U.S. was right to declare the entire Taliban government a terrorist organization, why is Russia not right to declare the self-designed Chechen government—Akhmadov included—a terrorist organization?
If we would think it wrong of Russia to grant political asylum to Mullah Omar, then why do we not think that it is wrong for the United States to grant political asylum to Illyas Akhmadov? Why didn’t Illyas Akhmadov resign from the Chechen government when Dagestan was invaded? … Exactly what record is there that Illyas Akhmadov ever issued a public statement repudiating the invasions of Dagestan while those invasions were in progress, or supporting the extradition of the invasions’ leaders? If the 9/11 [attacks] made Bin Laden a terrorist, and if the Oklahoma City blast made McVeigh a terrorist, then why didn’t his public acceptance of responsibility for the Ingushetia raids make Aslan Maskhadov a terrorist? And if his public acceptance of responsibility for those raids made Maskhadov a terrorist, then why doesn’t it implicate those who represented him, such as Illyas Akhmadov, in charges of terrorism? And if it does make Illyas Akhmadov a terrorist then why is he enjoying political asylum and a prestigious professional position at the expense of the American taxpayer?
“Harboring terrorists, their henchmen and sponsors undermines the unity and mutual trust of parties to the antiterrorist front,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at the U.N. General Assembly in 2004. “We cannot have double standards while fighting terrorism and it cannot be used as a geopolitical game,” President Vladimir Putin declared in December of that year. But Maskhadov remains in his Wodley Park mansion in Washington D.C. to this day, courtesy of your tax dollars. Back in 2004e was also given a generous State Department grant that enabled him to maintain an office with a secretary at the National Endowment for Democracy, to keep a busy travel schedule,e and to retain the services of a PR agency.
Akhmadov is an utterly nasty piece of work, so much so that in 2004 then-House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), and the Immigration and Border Security subcommittee chairman John Hostettler (R-IN) jointly demanded that Attorney General John Ashcroft review the ruling that granted Akhmadov political asylum. “If the United States had evidence that Mr. Akhmadov was involved in terrorist activities, it is unclear why he was not barred from asylum as a terrorist and as a danger to the security of our nation,” they wrote to Ashcroft in September of that year—but to no avail. “I’m not exaggerating when I say that one of the happiest days of my life was when I called Ilyas to tell him that he would be able to stay in America,” averred America’s über-Russophobe Zbigniew Brzezinski, as quoted by Akhmadov’s publicist and Zbig’s nephew Matthew in the Washington Post (March 20, 2005).
It would be equally interesting to imagine the reaction of McCain et al. if Russia routinely resorted to the arrest of American citizens in third countries—Belarus or Kazakhstan, say—and their extradition to Moscow for trial on various charges. That is exactly what the U.S. is doing to Russians. The most recent case concerns Aleksander Panin, a 24-year-old Russian computer programmer from Tver. Panin was arrested at the airport after visiting the Dominican Republic in May, swiftly transferred to a Federal prison in Georgia, and charged with a variety of cyber crimes committed in Russia—and all that without Moscow’s consent or knowledge. The case only became known a month later. “Of course, we are seriously concerned with yet another arrest of a Russian citizen with a U.S. warrant in a third country… The fact that such practices are becoming a vicious tendency is absolutely unacceptable and inadmissible,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said. “We have repeatedly told the US that if there are demands for our citizens, it is necessary to send relevant requests to the Russian law enforcement authorities on the basis of the 1999-bilateral agreement on mutual legal assistance in criminal cases. However, this is still not being done.”
There are several cases similar to Panin’s. On July 22 Dmitry Ustinov, a Russian citizen, was extradited to the U.S. from Lithuania and accused of smuggling night-vision goggles. In November 2010, Russian citizen Viktor Bout was extradited from Bangkok to the United States, where he was convicted of involvement in the illegal arms trade. In May 2010 a Russian pilot, Konstantin Yaroshenko, was arrested in Liberia and taken to the U.S. on charges of drug trafficking. In 2011 was sentenced to 20 years in prison for allegedly conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the United States.
The practice of having Russian citizens arrested in some pliant third country and delivered to the U.S. to be tried for alleged crimes committed outside America is a legal novelty which has the potential to create a great deal of trouble for U.S. citizens, too, and especially for American businessmen working in the former Soviet Central Asia. But as the cases of Snowden and Akhmadov indicate, all too many people in Washington still act in accordance with Madeleine Albright’s psychotic doctrine of imperial exceptionalism—“we are America, we are the indispensable nation”—which is as profoundly un-American as it is irritating to the rest of the world. (Another gem of hers is “I’ve never seen America as an imperialist or colonialist or meddling country.”)
The delusions of late-imperial grandeur die hard, but in the fullness of time they will die nevertheless; the sooner, the better.
Speaking at the end of the meeting of the EU-Ukraine Cooperation Council in Luxembourg on June 24, European Enlargement Commissioner Štefan Füle warned Ukraine that “time is running preciously short” for the government in Kiev to meet all European Union conditions in time to sign a free trade and association agreement in November. “Ukraine has made good progress in some areas,” Füle said, but added that “more needs to be done for Ukraine to achieve tangible progress on all the benchmarks,” including “increased determination and reinforced action”—an obvious reference to the case of Yulia Tymoshenko.
While stressing that closer links with the EU remain its priority, in recent weeks the Ukrainian government has also probed the possibilities of strengthening its ties with the Customs Union formed in 2010 by Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Moscow would like to see Ukraine in the “Common Economic Space,” but it is reluctant to grant it a half-way status that would fall short of full membership. Kiev would prefer that option in order not to sever its EU connection.
The dilemma has received scant attention in the Western media. Considering its size and strategic importance, it is curious how underreported Ukraine remains 22 years after independence. The second largest country in Europe—the true link (and a key energy corridor) between Russia and the Old Continent’s heartland west of the Carpathian Mountains—has just under fifty million people, a rich agricultural base, and a long Black Sea shoreline which includes the all-important naval bases in the Crimea. Its geopolitical significance cannot be overstated.
Kiev’s current quandary is real, but it should not overshadow Ukraine’s promise as a pivotal player in the development of regional cooperation with its EU neighbors to the West, former CIS countries to the north and east, and emerging regional powers further afield. On my recent visits to Ukraine—most recently as an election observer last October – I was struck by the tendency of some local analysts to focus on the role of their country as an object of geopolitical rivalry of others, and to neglect its potential as a significant actor in its own right.
That potential is real. The importance of food as a key strategic commodity will continue to grow in the decades ahead, and Ukraine has an enormous, still untapped capability to become a global-scale producer. In 2012 Ukrainian agricultural sector raised $2bn in capital investments, which is 11 percent higher than in 2011 but still short of what is needed to unleash its potential. If and when Ukraine’s farmers gain reliable and affordable access to finance, they will be able to compete with, and perhaps out-produce, their peers in the American Midwest or Canada. Cooperation with key EU agricultural producers, such as France, is proceeding apace and should continue regardless of what happens in Vilnius next November. The same applies to Kiev’s cooperation with the EU in the energy sector in 2013—an important step in making Ukraine’s role as a key energy conduit more stable, predictable and transparent.
Bilateral cooperation can flourish even in the absence of speedy integrations, as recent experience suggests. Ukraine’s merchandise trade deficit narrowed to $608.5 million in April, which is markedly less than a year ago. Exports increased 4.7% year-on-year, while imports declined 8.1%. Most of its minerals, steel, coal, petroleum products and grains go to other former Soviet republics, but Germany and Poland have been gaining importance in recent years. Trade with Hungary, Sweden, and other smaller EU members has also recorded significant increases. Outside the EU and the former Soviet Union, Ukraine’s key partners are Turkey (second-largest overall, after Russia) and China. Ukraine will sign an agreement on a free tradearea (FTA) with Turkey in October, and its trade with China is expected to double to $20bn in the next few years.
Regardless of its hoped-for integrations, Ukraine can and should project more resolutely its “soft power” in the region. Its rich cultural heritage and still underdeveloped tourist industry are by no means the only assets. The 2012 UEFA European Football Championship, commonly referred to as Euro 2012—jointly hosted by Poland and Ukraine—was an expensive but useful step in the right direction. There are still too few foreign students, researchers and guest-lecturers in Kiev, Kharkov, Lvov or Odessa, considering the quality of their institutions of higher learning.
The perennial issue of Ukraine’s geopolitical strategy—should it lean to the East or to the West—is on the whole somewhat artificial. Experts note that recent trends in the country’s foreign trade have created preconditions for growth even if it joins neither the European Union nor the Moscow-led customs union. It is noteworthy that even some EU leaders take the view that Ukraine should follow a two-track approach.
Stability in Europe and the continent’s long-term integration devoid of the Cold War, zero-sum-game mentality, requires a new paradigm in Kiev. It should be based on further diversification of political and economic options, which is not incompatible with Ukraine’s quest for optimal forms of association with its eastern and western neighbors.
One variant of a well-known law of bureaucracy says that the amount of time spent discussing a budgetary decision is inversely proportional to the magnitude of the budget in question. Judging by what I witnessed on March 20 at the European Parliament—at the Committee on Budgets’ hearing on the “Financing of the Eastern Partnership”—the Brussels machine functions entirely in accordance with this adage.
The money involved is substantial: 2.8 billion euros ($3.6 billion) over 5 years. The project’s stated purpose is to promote “shared values”—democracy, human rights and the rule of law—in six former Soviet states deemed to be of “strategic importance” to the European Union: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, andUkraine. Promoting the principles of market economy, sustainable development, civic society and “good governance” is also among the objectives.
In their opening remarks, the officials involved in running the Eastern Partnership Program were self-congratulatory about its alleged achievements. That much was to be expected: lots of sinecures, cushy jobs and expense-padded missions can be extracted from a few billion. Nevertheless, the entire construct’s numerous problems and shortcomings could not be concealed:
- Conceptually, there is no clear consensus within the EU on what exactly it is trying to promote in its eastern neighborhood under the bombastic slogans of “shared values, collective norms and joint ownership.” What does it all mean, if anything, in the real world?
- Empirically, the program has followed, and still follows, a “top-down” approach of deciding in Brussels what are the goals, then telling the eastern “partners” what they need to do, and finally rewarding them accordingly—rather than developing genuine partnerships based on those countries’ real needs and attainable objectives.
- Managerially, in order for the funds allocated to the “Partnership” to be optimally utilized, they would require elaborate apparatuses of deployment, supervision and evaluation. On the basis of the presentations last Wednesday, it is clear that the EU has neither the institutional mechanisms nor the supervisory bodies capable of insuring that this is the case.
- Substantially, the elephant in the room was the issue of EU enlargement—or, rather, the extreme unlikelihood of further enlargement after Croatia’s accession next July. Without the realistic prospect of an eventual path to full membership, the EU lacks meaningful leverage over the political elites in the six eastern countries to make them change their ways.
Far from being addressed, these problems are bypassed by the tendency of the EU bureaucracy to close its eyes to the reality on the ground in the countries concerned—or, worse, still, to misrepresent that reality for reasons of institutional self-preservations. The result, to put it succinctly, is that billions of European taxpayers’ cash are poured into a bottomless pit of post-Soviet corruption, graft, and pork-barrel politics. “We pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us,” went the old Soviet joke. Its modern-day “Eastern” equivalent should be “We pretend to reform, and they pretend that we are doing a good job.” Instead of being properly perceived as part of the problem, terminally corrupt political “elites” are treated as partners in finding solutions.
Moldova is the prime example. On per-capita basis, this backwater squeezed between Romania and Ukraine—the poorest country in Europe—has received far more money than the other five “partners,” and the EU pretends that its objectives are being met. While I was at the European Parliament, the European Commission presented its own regional report on the implementation of the Eastern Partnership. It asserted that “significant progress was made in the implementation of the Eastern Partnership” and singled out Moldova for “showing significant progress,” “stepping up efforts to implement judicial and law enforcement reform,” and “continuing to implement reforms in the areas of social assistance, health and education, energy, competition, state aid and regulatory approximation to the EU acquis.” Moldova’s government was asked to “continue to vigorously advance reforms in the justice and law enforcement systems” as well as intensify the fight against corruption.
This is surreal, on par with the Soviet Communist Party congresses exalting the great and glorious achievements of socialism in the years of terminal decline under Brezhnev. In reality, Moldova is one of the most corrupt countries in Europe, according to independent analysts, who also claim that the majority of EU assistance is being misused by local officials. The Warsaw-based EaP Institute warns that the EU is devoting considerable sums to Moldova for very little return in terms of progress in the country’s reform process: “It begs the question: Why is the EU throwing money like this at a black hole of corruption, when there is so much to do in the EU’s own member states?”
It does, indeed. Moldova has already received some €482m from the EU Eastern Partnership, which is about 110 euros ($145) for every man, woman and child in the dirt-poor country—the equivalent of an average two-weekly wage. Nobody knows for certain where it went, but we have a fair idea. Recent opinion polls say that the majority of citizens of Moldova consider their current coalition government as “totally corrupt.” According to the Transparency International 2012 report, Moldova is among the most corrupt places in Europe, with Kosovo, Albania and Bosnia topping the list. But the EU says it is doing well, because an unhealthy symbiotic relationship has been developed between the unelected and mostly unaccountable bureaucrats managing enormous funds earmarked for nebulous purposes and their foreign “clients” who gloat at the mouth-watering prospect of placing a major portion of those funds into their own pockets.
After last Wednesday’s introductory presentations, several experts and members of European Parliament (MEPs) expressed misgivings about the Eastern Partnership policy. Olaf Osica, director of the centre for eastern studies in Warsaw, declared that “in four years the policy had failed to produce any tangible political or social results.” A prominent Polish MEP and former senior government minister, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, said the entire edifice should be “completely revised”:
There are a whole multitude of projects which, as we have heard at the hearing, no one seems able to follow or understand… What we are doing is creating the illusion that the EU is helping to transform these eastern European countries when, in fact, the naked truth is that the EU is losing its eastern neighbors. What is actually needed is for the EU—and that means both the Commission and Parliament—to totally revise and revisit its Eastern Partnership policy.
All this was in stark contrast to the earlier assurances by senior officials that the current picture was “confused,” but the EU was nevertheless “doing quite well” in addressing concerns about the transparency and accountability of its funding for the six countries (Marcus Cornaro); or that the EU was determined to push ahead with closer cooperation with those countries that have “demonstrated a commitment to the reform process” (Richard Tibbels).
The lenient attitude of EU officials regarding the patchy record of their “Eastern partners” on corruption, democratisation, and the rule of law is in stark contrast with the ever-moving goal posts for a half-dozen aspiring EU members in the Western Balkans. None of them will join the EU for a decade at least, of course, and a realistic reassessment of their political and economic policies is long overdue. The EU is in a state of chronic institutional and financial crisis, and trying to get on board at this point is equal to betting on Romney last November 5. Alternatives do exist, but they call for the cold-blooded diversification of long-term strategies. Belgrade and Kiev in particular should take note.
Speaking in Dublin last Thursday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that a new effort was under way by “oppressive governments” to “re-Sovietize” Eastern Europe and Central Asia. She took a stab at Russia and her regional allies for their alleged crackdown on democracy and human rights, only hours ahead of meeting Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov to discuss Syria and other issues of mutual concern.
Addressing a group of “civil society advocates” on the sidelines of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) foreign ministers’ meeting, Clinton decried a wave of repressive tactics and laws aimed at curtailing U.S. “outreach efforts” in Russia, Belarus, Turkmenistan, and other Soviet successor states. “There is a move to re-Sovietize the region,” Clinton declared. “It’s not going to be called that. It’s going to be called customs union, it will be called Eurasian Union and all of that,” she said, alluding to Moscow’s initiatives for greater regional integration. “But let’s make no mistake about it. We know what the goal is and we are trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it.”
To support her claims Clinton presented one Igor Kochetkov, an activist with the “Russian LGBT Network”—a homosexual advocacy group financed by U.S. taxpayer money—who declared that Russian authorities were stifling the discussion of discrimination based on sexual orientation. She also produced one Olga Zakharova, supposedly a journalist, who said that the use of social media was being restricted by the Russian authorities. Clinton warned that there is a concerted effort under way to eliminate American and international assistance to such human rights advocates.
It is noteworthy that the “Eurasian Union and all of that” is, in Clinton’s view, a neo-Soviet project primarily designed to violate human rights as she defines them. In fact the Eurasian Union (EAU) is a project of regional political and economic integration openly modeled on the European Union. It was first suggested by the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev in 1994, and the idea was revived by Russia’s then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in October 2011. The following month the presidents of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia signed an agreement to establish the EAU by 2015. The agreement included the blueprint for the future integration and established the Eurasian Commission—clearly emulating the European Commission in Brussels—which started work on the first day of this year.
Clinton’s pledge to throw a spanner into this project—“we are trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it,” as she put it—reflects her dangerous arrogance. Her ability to do anything of the kind is limited, however, and if she believes otherwise she is deluded. More seriously, there is no rational reason for the United States to oppose regional integration of post-Soviet countries. The EAU is not a threat to American interests—unless those interests are defined as open-ended, full-spectrum dominance over the planet. She is unnecessarily throwing down the gauntlet and thus undermining a cooperative relationship with Russia, which in view of America’s many challenges in the greater Middle East and in the Pacific region—not to mention the disengagement from Afghanistan—should be among our top foreign policy priorities.
Secretary of State’s complaint about Russia’s “repressive tactics” aimed at curtailing U.S. “outreach efforts” is hypocritical in the extreme. She was alluding to a recently enacted law regulating the work of Russian regime-change focused “NGOs” funded by the U.S. taxpayer money, and funneled through organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House, and the National Democratic Institute. In fact the Russian law regulating such activities was patterned directly on the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which regulates activities of foreign governments in the United States. FARA would require full public disclosure of those same activities that the U.S. Department of State has been lavishly funding in Russia during Clinton’s tenure. She is forgetting that the Federal Election Campaign Act flatly prohibits foreign involvement in American political process that she regards as legitimate and desirable when conducted in Russia by Washington’s protégés under the guise of promoting democracy.
As for the restrictions on social media, Russia blacklists websites devoted to drug use, suicide promotion and paedophilia. The government was accused of using the law as a tool for censorship after two—two—popular sites were banned. We may take Clinton’s criticism seriously when she expresses similar concern over Internet censorship by our NATO ally Turkey—which bans access to thousands of sites—or by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which block access to all sites which engage in the criticism of those countries’ governments, not to mention those “deemed offensive to Islam.”
Hillary Clinton’s performance in Dublin reinforces my view (see the September 2012 issue of Chronicles) that she is the worst secretary of state in U.S. history. The substance and style of her foreign policymaking have undermined the national security of the United States. Her standing abroad is abysmal. It ranges from raw hate in the Muslim world—Egyptian protesters threw tomatoes and shoes at her motorcade last July—to contempt (Jerusalem), eye-rolling irritation (Moscow, Beijing, most of Latin America), or grudging endurance (Europe).
Clinton has abused her position in pursuit of a radical ideological outlook formed in the late 1960’s. Her disregard for long-established international norms and mechanisms is as revolutionary on the global scene as Obama’s presidency is domestically. She has undermined this country’s national security in various ways—her support for the misnamed Arab Spring, her Syrian policy, her Russian policy, her Balkan policy, her obsessive advocacy of “gay rights” in traditionally Christian countries—but the roots of those decisions are in her view of the United States as an ideological proposition. She does not see America as a real country populated by real people, whose security interests are rationally quantifiable on the basis of tangible costs and benefits. “When I ask people, ‘What do you think the goals of America are today?’ people don’t have any idea,” she told MSNBC in 2007. “We don’t know what we’re trying to achieve. And I think that in a life or in a country you’ve got to have some goals.”
The notion of a country having “goals” is the product of an un-American, corporatist, liberal-fascist paradigm that demands permanent cultural revolution at home and permanent “engagement” abroad. The result is a foreign policy that is part-Ribbentrop, part-New Age. Any outcome desired by Hillary Clinton becomes nonnegotiable; any opposition to it is more than a personal affront; it is an insult to “history.” To lie for the higher truth is a virtue, and to enforce the lie is a test of will.
Subterfuge came first. Mrs. Clinton has reduced the ability of American diplomats to function effectively by signing orders early in her tenure—revealed by Wikileaks—instructing Foreign Service officers to spy on the diplomats of other nations. She also told State Department officials overseas to collect the fingerprints, facial images, DNA, and iris scans of foreign leaders, and to obtain passwords and credit-card numbers used by foreign officials. Some spies have always masqueraded as diplomats, but under Clinton all American diplomats are rightly assumed to be at least part-time spooks. Remarkably, she has succeeded in evading scrutiny by congressional oversight committees. Three or four decades ago, such revelations would have resulted in the offending secretary of state’s resignation, but the legacy of her husband and his successor have altered the moral climate, making Mrs. Clinton safe from sanction.
More serious in their impact on America’s national security are Hillary Clinton’s strategic blunders. There is no rational explanation for her support for the forces of jihad in North Africa, the “Arab Spring” that is predictably reshaping the region (and particularly Egypt, the key player in that region) into a foreign policy realist’s nightmare. Clinton turned the Egyptian “revolution” into her own pet project because of her ideological makeup: a seemingly popular mass movement was ipso facto historically preordained, and therefore worthy of support. Her relentless pressure on Egyptian generals to surrender to the Muslim Brotherhood’s takeover of the country was patently not in the American interest. The process now continues in Syria, where a false-flag chemical weapons atrocity is a distinct possibility.
Clinton and her team treat meddling and intervention as a moral imperative and a test of American leadership. The doubters are maligned in terms unprecedented in diplomatic discourse. That Russia and China vetoed her U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing war against Syria was, according to her U.N. Ambassador and possible successor Susan Rice, “disgusting and shameful.” Such “diplomacy” is indicative of neurosis, not statesmanship. It merely hastens the decline of American power and influence around the world, the long-term process enhanced during Hillary Clinton’s tenure at Foggy Bottom.
The heavy loaded cargo boats, passenger liners, cruise ships and plentiful ferries packed with tourists steam by the Maiden Tower rising from the black rock amid lucid waters; they gingerly make their way past the mountain-like mosques on the mainland into the Bosporus, this huge God-made river running between the Med and the Black Sea. The City, one of the greatest Capitals of Man of all time, has straddled Europe and Asia since the days of the Roman Emperor Constantine, who established this New Rome. It was the biggest city on earth a millennium ago, and it is still vast. Fifteen million people live in the City, twenty million visit it annually. Its greatness explains a strange vision of the heretic Russian historian Anatol Fomenko who claimed that Jerusalem, Rome, Babylon, Moscow and London are but misplaced images of this city, the original Empire.
Despite its size and history, the city is alert and vibrant in a peaceful, even demure way. It does not feel crowded – apart from the hotspots. The streets are clean, the greenery is neatly trimmed, the ugly street flea markets of recent years are gone; old buildings have been given a facelift, crumbling palaces have been repaired at no cost spared. The Bosporus has been cleaned up too, and sewage no longer flows into it – for the first time ever. Modern freeways encircle and cross its suburbs but do not intrude into the historical precincts.
The former seat of the Caliphate and home to an Islamist government, the City found a good balance between faith and modernity. Sufi schools are plentiful and learned men discuss theology, comparing Aquinas and Palamas with Ibn Arabi and Ibn Tufail. Muezzins’ harmonious calls to prayer do not disturb café customers sipping their drinks. Girls are free to wear headscarves or miniskirts and they do exercise both options.
More importantly, the government does not subscribe to unrestricted market economics and has thereby avoided the neoliberal excesses of its neighbours. There are many municipally-owned cafés, especially in the parks, where prices are quite affordable, even in the luxurious old imperial palaces, where no entrance fees are charged. They do not serve alcohol, and attract families with children. Downtown, the rents are kept low to allow bookshops to survive and flourish. The global squeeze is as apparent in Turkey as everywhere else, but here poor people receive tangible subsidies in kind, while the salaried classes are given generous loans to tide them over. Prices are kept under control, avoiding rapid increases; conspicuous consumption is discouraged. The rich are rich, and the poor are poor, but rich are not ostentatious and the poor are not desperate.
People are modest, helpful and inoffensive;- a far cry from the Turkey of theMidnight Express. They are rather honest and straightforward, and do not make a show of themselves. They are not very artistic, and their cuisine is comparable to the British one. If it is not a great compliment, it was not meant to be: they were Empire builders, and such nations usually are no great gourmands. The French ate too well, and their women were too appealing for their empire to last.
Istanbul is not the only oasis of prosperity in the country, as is often the case with capital cities outside of Europe. Now I have travelled the breadth of Turkey and all over I’ve witnessed the modernisation of the last ten years. Roads are smooth, houses are in good repair, markets are full, people are well-dressed, the cities are neither drab nor garish but quite up-to-date. This is a great achievement of the moderate Islamist government led by Prime Minister Erdogan.
Turkey is no longer the basket case it was in 1960s and 1970s. I’ve met a few Turkish immigrants in Germany, who said that their fathers made a hasty decision when they left home for Europe forty years ago. They would like to go back to Turkey, though it would not be easy to find work and to reconnect to a new environment, for they were reared in Western Europe. Anyway, there is no mass emigration out of Turkey; the nightmare of millions of Turks moving to Europe has dissipated. They would rather stay at home, for the Turks are very proud of their own country.
Erdogan is popular with the people. He is a real charismatic, people tell me. He defeated his adversaries, and his position at the helm is undisputed. And for good reasons: Turkey is doing nicely, thank you. The country prospers, incomes have doubled, and the GNP tripled (a very remarkable one trillion euro GNP is within reach). The Erdogan government can really congratulate itself on the fine job they’ve done in Turkey.
The Turks have overcome the huge trauma of the Transfer, as the mass deportations and expulsions of 1920s are called. Though the Greeks of the City weren’t expelled, almost all other Christian communities of Turkey were sent to Greece, while the Muslims of Greece were deported to Turkey: a violent and painful divorce of two closely knit communities. As in many a divorce, the separated partners – the clever wife and the strong husband – spent years adjusting to their new position.
The Greeks suffered the most. They were spread all over the Empire and occupied central positions. Some Turkish historians prefer to call the Ottoman rule “The Turko-Greek Empire”. The Greeks were Great Viziers of the Empire; they ruled and managed the Med from Alexandria to Damascus to Istanbul; they traded and wrote poems in the days of the Second Rome just as they did under the sceptre of First Rome. Suddenly, they were corralled into a small and parochial Greece where they hardly could find their place. The Alexandrian poet Kavafy strongly felt that little Athens could never substitute for the loss of the great seaboard cities. Today’s Greek crisis can’t be understood without this bit of history.
The Turks suffered as well. Traditionally, they had served in the military and worked the soil; without the Greeks, trades and crafts declined, militarisation went unchecked, food shortages were common, life was drab and brutish, as if their culture had sailed overseas with the Greeks. Only now, many years later, the Turks have managed to recover, and recover they did.
Erdogan’s government is good to the Christian communities. The previous Kemalist governments of the Turkish Republic were viciously anti-Christian, even more than they were nationalistic and anti-Islamic. They deported even Caramanli Turks, for they were Christians. They forbade the remaining churches to be repaired; the priests could not be brought from abroad. Now, church properties are being restored, funds returned, priests are allowed to come, stay and acquire Turkish citizenship.
The Islamist government allowed the Greeks and Armenians who had left the country after the riots and pogroms of 1950s to come back, reclaim their property and settle again in Turkey. Previously unimaginable, an idea of a union with Greece began to be pondered again.
The Turks are not the only suitors of the beautiful Hellas: the Russians also would like to take her, their sister-in-Christ, ditched by the West, into the embrace of their Eurasian Union. So declared Sergey Glaziev, the coordinator of the union (including now Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan) at the recent Rhodes Forum, a top-crème gathering of Russians, Asians and dissident Westerners. The offers are not mutually exclusive: one can imagine their ménage-a-trois, a new Byzantine Empire Resurrected. The moderately Muslim and Turkic Kazakhstan is an old friend to Turkey, so such an alliance is plausible. Another turn of the screw by Frau Merkel, and it is may happen.
In Greece, re-evaluation of the Empire is also going on. There are voices calling for the reassessment of the past, for recognition of the advantages to both sides, and for proceeding cautiously. Dimitri Kitsikis is one such voice, and I’ve heard more of them while visiting Athens. The interaction is not limited to practicalities, either. Last Sunday, I went to a modest Greek Church in a suburb of Istanbul, and there I met a young Greek priest, a recent arrival from Greece who had already mastered Turkish, and even more surprisingly, I met a few ethnic Turks who had embraced Orthodox Christianity and were attending the service. The participants benevolently and indulgently smiled while they recited the Lord’s Prayer in Turkish.
And all these wonderful achievements they intend to destroy, squander and let go down the drain. I refer to the Turkish government’s plotting against Syria. It would be bad enough if they were to send their legions to Damascus. It would be wrong but comprehensible, for Damascus and Aleppo are as much parts of their past for Turks, as Kiev and Riga are for Russians, or Vienna and Tirol are for Germans. But what they are doing instead is much worse.
The Turks are about to replay the Afghan scenario as it was played by Pakistan: they bring together from all over the Muslim world the most fanatical militants, supply them with arms, and infiltrate them over the Syrian border under their artillery cover.
There are reports that the jihadists of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban were flownfrom North Waziristan in Pakistan to the Turkish border with Syria, for instance on a Turkish Air Airbus flight No. 709 on September 10, under auspices of the Turkish intelligence agency, via the Karachi-Istanbul flight route. The
93 militants were originally from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and included a group of Arabs residing in Waziristan. This report could not be independently checked, but there are many reports of foreign jihadists who made their way to Syria via Turkey.
This is exactly what Pakistan did under the US guidance in 1980s. Then, Afghanistan had a secular government, women worked as teachers, universities were full, factories were being built, and opium was unheard of; Pakistan was in a good shape, too. A few years later, Afghanistan imploded in civil war (under the guise of “fighting the godless communists”), and Pakistan followed it to perdition. After undoing Afghanistan, the warriors began to terrorise their Pakistani host. Now Pakistan is one of the most miserable countries in the world. It was eaten up by the disease they nourished and exported, by mindless jihadism.
This ideological disease is akin to biological warfare. You may hope your neighbours will be infected with the pest you have delivered, but you may be sure your population will eventually get it, too. For this reason nobody has tried biological warfare on a large scale. It is suicidal. And that is the equivalent of what the Turkish government is doing now. They bring jihadists to Syria, but it is only a question of time when the jihadists will turn on Turkey.
I respect the Islamic feelings of the Turks. I see them in the mosques; I know their Sufi orders and their mass appeal. So many Turks gather in Konya, where they venerate the memory of the great Sufi poet Rumi, who is loved from California to Teheran. The Islamic government was a real success in Turkey. So why do they now want to follow Pakistan’s way to perdition?
An essay written by Ahmet Davutoglu, Foreign Minister and chief promoter of Turkish intervention in Syria, answers this question. He wrote it as a university student, over 20 years ago, and an acquaintance who studied with him, remembers it well. We can and we should make a deal with Satan if necessary, the young Davutoglu had written.
In his view, Sunni Islam of the type practiced in the Empire under Sultan Selim the Grim and his successors (that postulates an unbridgeable schism between the Creator and Creation) is not just the only true faith; it is an iron-clad guarantee of good results. A state guided by it can’t do wrong. Even evil deeds by such a state will be turned by the Almighty into good results. For this reason, he wrote, the Empire managed to survive and rule for 600 years.
That’s why, wrote the young Davutoglu, Islamist Turkey may build alliances with powerful partners, and it is irrelevant whether these powers are bad or good. This means, that we may even make a Faustian pact with the devil himself, for we shall triumph by our beliefs and with the Almighty’s help. America is a Satan for Davutoglu, as it is for many Muslims, but armed with his dubious philosophy, he is prepared to join with Satan for the further glory of Turkey.
Could this very unorthodox reading of Islam be influenced by his contacts with Yezidis, whose attitude to Devil is at best ambiguous, or, more probably, with the Dönmeh, followers of Sabbatai Zevi who believed that everything is permitted, and a sin is the best way to salvation? People of more orthodox beliefs know that whoever deals with Satan will eventually come to grief, for no spoon is long enough to sup with him.
Then came the moment when his dubious theology was transformed into dubious policy. The US asked him to bring militants to Syria, and so he did.
My Turkish friends stressed that Erdogan personally does not subscribe to these theological beliefs, but is guided by practical considerations. The question of an alliance with the US and NATO caused a rift between Erdogan and his erstwhile teacher Necmettin Erbakan. Erbakan was against it; Erdogan considered it as a given. Erdogan carried a day; a majority of Erbakan’s followers went with Erdogan, formed the reformist AK Party, came to power ten years ago and have been generally successful. The minority formed the hardline (or even ‘revolutionary Islamist’) Saadet Party, which was not successful at the polls, though it retains a certain influence.
Unexpectedly for an outsider, it is the hardline Saadet Party that strongly objects to the Syrian adventure of Erdogan and Davutoglu. Though the intervention in Syria is often described as “Islamic help to slaughtered Muslims”, the Saadet leaders perceive it as an American plot against Syria and Turkey. The Saadet led strong demonstrations against the intervention.
Perhaps this is the right time for Prime Minister Erdogan to listen to his old comrades, disavow the devil-supping policy regarding Syria, and to stop the war machine before it destroys all of the achievements he can so rightly be proud of. The dream of bringing Syria into a closer union with Turkey still can be realised, but not through unleashing the dogs of war.
A coward dies many deaths; a brave man dies but once.
The once proud British government, now reduced to Washington’s servile whore, put on its Gestapo Jackboots and declared that if the Ecuadorean Embassy in London did not hand over WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange, British storm troopers would invade the embassy with military force and drag Assange out. Ecuador stood its ground. “We want to be very clear, we are not a British colony,” declared Ecuador’s Foreign Minister. Far from being intimidated the President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, replied to the threat by granting Assange political asylum.http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/17/world/americas/ecuador-to-let-assange-stay-in-its-embassy.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&emc=na
The once law-abiding British government had no shame in announcing that it would violate the Vienna Convention and assault the Ecuadorean Embassy, just as the Islamic students in the 1979 Khomeini Revolution in Iran took over the US Embassy and held the diplomatic staff captive. Pushed by their Washington overlords, the Brits have resorted to the tactics of a pariah state. Maybe we should be worried about British nuclear weapons.
Let’s be clear, Assange is not a fugitive from justice. He has not been charged with any crime in any country. He has not raped any women. There are no indictments pending in any court, and as no charges have been brought against him, there is no validity to the Swedish extradition request. It is not normal for people to be extradited for questioning, especially when, as in Assange’s case, he expressed his complete cooperation with being questioned a second time by Swedish officials in London.
What is this all about? First, according to news reports, Assange was picked up by two celebrity-hunting Swedish women who took him home to their beds. Later for reasons unknown, one complained that he had not used a condom, and the other complained that she had offered one helping, but he had taken two. A Swedish prosecutor looked into the case, found that there was nothing to it, and dismissed the case.
Assange left for England. Then another Swedish prosecutor, a woman, claiming what authority I do not know, reopened the case and issued an extradition order for Assange. This is such an unusual procedure that it worked its way through the entire British court system to the Supreme Court and then back to the Supreme Court on appeal. In the end British “justice” did what the Washington overlord ordered and came down on the side of the strange extradition request.
Assange, realizing that the Swedish government was going to turn him over to Washington to be held in indefinite detention, tortured, and framed as a spy, sought protection from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. As corrupt as the British are, the UK government was unwilling to release Assange directly to Washington. By turning him over to Sweden, the British could feel that their hands were clean.
Sweden, formerly an honorable country like Canada once was where American war resisters could seek asylum, has been suborned and brought under Washington’s thumb. Recently, Swedish diplomats were expelled from Belarus where they seem to have been involved in helping Washington orchestrate a “color revolution” as Washington keeps attempting to extend its bases and puppet states deeper into traditional Russia.
The entire world, including Washington’s servile puppet states, understands that once Assange is in Swedish hands, Washington will deliver an extradition order, with which Sweden, unlike the British, would comply. Regardless, Ecuador understands this. The Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino announced that Ecuador granted Assange asylum because “there are indications to presume that there could be political persecution.” In the US, Patino acknowledged, Assange would not get a fair trial and could face the death penalty in a trumped up case.
The US Puppet State of Great (sic) Britain announced that Assange would not be permitted to leave Britain. So much for the British government’s defense of law and human rights. If the British do not invade the Ecuadorean Embassy and drag Assange out dead or in chains, the British position is that Assange will live out his life inside the London Embassy of Ecuador. According to the New York Times, Assange’s asylum leaves him “with protection from arrest only on Ecuadorean territory (which includes the embassy). To leave the embassy for Ecuador, he would need cooperation that Britain has said it will not offer.” When it comes to Washington’s money or behaving honorably in accordance with international law, the British government comes down on the side of money.
The Anglo-American world, which pretends to be the moral face of humanity has now revealed for all to see that under the mask is the face of the Gestapo.
Source: Paul Craig Roberts
The State Department has an office that hunts German war criminals. Bureaucracies being what they are, the office will exist into next century when any surviving German prison guards will be 200 years old. From time to time the State Department claims to have found a lowly German soldier who was assigned as a prison camp guard. The ancient personage, who had lived in the US for the past 50 or 60 years without doing harm to anyone, is then merciless persecuted, usually on the basis of hearsay. I have never understood what the State Department thinks the alleged prison guard was supposed to have done–freed the prisoners, resign his position?–when Prussian aristocrats, high-ranking German Army generals and Field Marshall and national hero Erwin Rommel were murdered for trying to overthrow Hitler.
What the State Department needs is an office that rounds up American war criminals.
They are in abundance and not hard to find. Indeed, recently 56 of them made themselves public by signing a letter to President Obama demanding that he send in the US Army to complete the destruction of Syria and its people that Washington has begun.
At the Nuremberg Trials of the defeated Germans after World War II, the US government established the principle that naked aggression–the American way in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, and Yemen–is a war crime. Therefore, there is a very strong precedent for the State Department to round up those neoconservatives who are fomenting more war crimes.
But don’t expect it to happen. Today, war criminals run the State Department and the entire US Government. They are elected to the presidency, the House, and the Senate, and appointed to the federal courts as judges. American soldiers, such as Bradley Manning, who behave as the State Department expects German soldiers to have behaved, are not honored, but are thrown into dungeons and tortured while a court marshall case is concocted against them.
Hypocrisy is Washington’s hallmark, and all but the most delusional are now accustomed to their rulers speaking one way and behaving in the opposite. It is now part of the American character to regard ourselves as members of the “virtuous nation,” “the indispensable people,” while our rulers commit war crimes around the globe.
Whereas we have all been made complicit in war crimes by “our” government, it still behooves us to know who are the active war criminals in our midst who have burdened us with our war criminal reputation.
You can learn the identity of many of those who are driving the world into World War Three, while their policies result in the murder of large numbers of Arabs and Muslims in Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq, and Lebanon, by perusing the signatures to the contrived letter to Obama from the neoconsevatives calling on Obama to invade Syria in order to “rescue” the Syrian people from their government.
According the the letter signed by 56 neoconservatives, only the Syrian government is responsible for deaths in Syria. The Washington sponsored and armed “rebels” are merely protecting the Syrian people from the Assad government. According to the letter signers, the only way the Syrian people can be saved is if Washington overthrows the Syrian government and installs a puppet state attentive to the needs of Israel and Washington.
Among the 56 signatures are a few names from the Syrian National Congress, believed to be a CIA front, and a few names from dupes among the goyim. The rest of the signatures are those of Jewish neoconservatives tightly allied with Israel, some of whom are apparently dual-Israeli citizens who participate in the formation of US foreign policy. The names on this list comprise a concentration of evil, the goal of which is not only to bring armageddon to the Syrian people but also to the world.
The letter to Obama is part of the propaganda operation to demonize the Syrian government with lies in order to get rid of a government that supports Hizbollah, the Muslims in southern Lebanon who have twice driven the vaunted, but cowardly, Israeli army out of Lebanon, thus preventing the Israeli government from achieving its aim of stealing the water resources of southern Lebanon.
Not a single sentence in the letter is correct. Listen to this one for example: “The Assad regime poses a grave threat to national security interests of the United States.” What utter total absurdity, and the morons who signed the letter pretend to be “security experts.”
How do we evaluate the fact that 56 people have no shame whatsoever and will lie to the President of the United States, telling him to his face the most absurd and obvious false things in order to advance their personal agenda at the expense of not merely the lives of Syrians but, by leading to wider war, of life on earth?
This same neocon architects of armageddon are also working against Iran, Russia, the former Soviet central Asian countries, Ukraine, Belarus, and China. It seems that they can’t wait to start a nuclear war.
You can find the names of some of humanity’s worst enemies here.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. http://www.paulcraigroberts.org
Given the worsening crisis in Syria, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper reported that the Russian army is apparently being prepared for a mission in Syria. Citing anonymous sources in the military leadership, the newspaper said that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the general staff to work out a plan for military operations outside Russia, including in Syria.
The units being prepared for an intervention are the 76th Division of airborne forces (an especially experienced unit of the Russian army), the 15th Army Division, as well as special forces from a brigade of the Black Sea fleet, which has a base in the Syrian port of Tartus.
The details of the operational plan are being prepared by the working parties of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, to which most of the post-Soviet states belong, as well as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, to which China and Russia belong.
According to the newspaper report, deployment depends on the decision of the Russian government and the UN. However, the plans also foresee that the troops might intervene without UN approval. The Russian government has so far not confirmed the report.
On Monday last week, three Russian warships were sighted off the Syrian coast. An anonymous source from the Russian government told the Iranian newspaper Tehran Times that Moscow wants to show NATO that it will not allow any military operation against Damascus under the guise of a humanitarian mission.
Earlier, the secretary-general of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, Nikolai Bordjusha, had held out the possibility of using “peacekeepers” in Syria. “The task in Syria is likely to be to impose peace—primarily against the insurgents, who use weapons to solve political problems.”
Russia and China strongly oppose a military intervention by NATO in Syria, and have already blocked two UN resolutions on the issue. The US and its allies, especially Turkey, Saudi Arabia and France, have stoked up a civil war in Syria and are systematically arming the so-called rebels, who consist mainly of Islamists, ex-members of the government, or Al Qaeda terrorists. Turkey is increasingly in the leadership of the US proxy war in Syria.
In recent weeks calls for a military intervention in Syria have increased. After the massacre in Houla, French President Francois Hollande spoke out in favour of military intervention. The West blamed the government of Bashar al-Assad for this massacre without any clear evidence. The German elite is also openly discussing a possible military intervention; Berlin has tried unsuccessfully to push Russia to make concessions on the issue.
Russia has not excluded a “political solution”, i.e., the slow transition from the Assad regime to another government. At all costs, however, the Kremlin wants to avoid the violent overthrow of Assad by the West for several reasons, whether it is through direct military intervention by NATO or is brought about by the rebels armed by the West. Two weeks ago, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warned that a military intervention in Syria could quickly escalate and lead to the use of nuclear weapons.
Since Soviet times, Moscow and Syria have maintained close ties, especially in military and economic matters. More importantly, however, a war against Syria means a ramping up of US aggression in the Middle East. The US has already significantly extended its influence in the region through the wars against Afghanistan and Iraq. They also have military bases in almost every country in the area: Pakistan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Turkmenistan, as well as some in other smaller states. Meanwhile, Syria and Iran, which are virtually surrounded by US military bases, have become the last bastions of Russia and China in the Middle East against the encroachment of the United States.
A regime change in Damascus would probably bring a Sunni government to power, which would work closely with Saudi Arabia and the United States against Russia and China. Moreover, an escalation of the civil war in Syria—which is already well underway—and a military intervention would set the entire Middle East ablaze. A NATO-led war against Syria would be an immediate prelude to a war against Iran. An attack on Iran would mean another step toward a military escalation of tensions between Washington and Beijing.
While China obtains a significant portion of its raw material imports from Iran, Tehran is Russia’s most important ally in the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea to counter the influence of the US and Israel. Both Moscow and Tehran oppose the construction of a trans-Caspian pipeline by the West. They also reject the massive military rearmament of Azerbaijan, which is promoted by the United States, Israel and Turkey. The Caspian region is of key geopolitical importance because it links resource-rich Central Asia with Europe, and because it also has extensive oil and gas reserves.
The growing threat of war in the Middle East—and the fact that the European countries, including Germany and France, are siding with the United States—is increasingly driving Russia into a military alliance with China.
It is significant that Vladimir Putin’s first foreign visit since taking office was to Belarus, and that he then only spent a few hours in Berlin and Paris before going on to Central Asia. The highlight of his visit abroad was in China, where he met with the Chinese president, and then took part at the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on June 6 and 7. In addition to Russia and China, the Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan also belong to this organization; Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India have “observer” status.
As was the case at the previous meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, discussion at the SCO summit centred on military and economic cooperation. The summit adopted a declaration on the “establishment of a region of lasting peace and common prosperity”. Military intervention against Syria or Iran was explicitly rejected.
The declaration also condemns the establishment of the NATO missile defence system in Europe, which is directed primarily against Russia and has led to severe tensions between Washington and both Europe and Moscow. In future, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is planning to cooperate militarily more closely on issues of “regional security”.
During his two-day visit to Beijing, Putin had previously agreed with Chinese President Hu Jintao to jointly strengthen “security in the Asia-Pacific region”. Both countries intend to hold frequent joint military exercises in the Pacific, after holding joint naval exercises in the Yellow Sea in the spring. The United States is increasingly focussing its military build-up in the Asian Pacific region in preparation for a military confrontation with China.