Archive | October 13th, 2017

Dollar Blow: China Launches New ‘Yuan-Ruble’ Payment Mechanism

NOVANEWS

The US received a major blow to its global hegemony, and one which is sure to trigger more fighting talk from hawks in Washington.

This week it was announced that China has established a ‘payment versus payment‘ (PVP) system to clear Chinese yuan and Russian ruble transactions. The aim, we’re told, is to to “reduce risks and improve the efficiency” of its foreign exchange system.

The new mechanism, which could rival the long-held monopoly of the US SWIFT inter-bank payment system (allowing for simultaneous settlement of transactions in two different currencies) was launched on Monday after receiving approval from China’s central bank, according to a statement by the country’s foreign exchange trading system.

However, financial oligarchs in Wall Street will view this move as an act of aggression in challenging the preeminence of the US dollar as the planet’s global reserve currency – which is inextricably tied and nearly completely dependent on the US ‘Petrodollar’ to prop-up the value of the US fiat currency. Georgetown University scholars note here:

Since petrodollars and petrodollar surpluses are by definition denominated in U.S. dollars, then purchasing power is dependent on the U.S. rate of inflation and the rate at which the U.S. dollar is exchanged (whenever there is need for convertibility) by other currencies in international money markets. It follows that whenever economic or other factors affect the U.S. dollar, petrodollars will be affected to the same magnitude. The link, therefore, between the U.S. dollar and petrodollar surpluses, in particular, has significant economic, political, and other implications.

First, the placement of petrodollar surpluses of the Arab oil exporting nations in the United States may be regarded politically as hostage capital. In the event of a major political conflict between the United States and an Arab oil-exporting nation, the former with all its military power can confiscate or freeze these assets or otherwise limit their use.

China to Buy Saudi Oil in Yuan

This breaking development coincides with other recent moves, including news that China will “compel” Saudi Arabia to trade oil in yuan. If this happens, the rest of the global oil market could follow suit, which would spell catastrophe for the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

Yuan pricing of oil is coming, economist says from CNBC.

These two stories are absolutely linked. This is full-frontal challenge to the Anglo-American World Order.

Russia and China are also working behind the scenes to shore-up their precious metal/gold trading standards, possibly in preparation of a new ‘gold-backed’ currency valuation initiative.

Zero Hedge adds:

CFETS said it plans to introduce PVP systems for yuan transactions with other currencies based on China’s Belt and Road initiative, and complying with the process of renminbi [Yuan] internationalization. Russia, however, is a top priority: the world’s biggest oil producer recently became the largest source of oil for China, the world’s top energy consumer.

To be sure, the monetary convergence between Beijing and Moscow is hardly new. The most notable recent development took place in April, when the Russian central bank opened its first overseas office in Beijing on March 14, marking a step forward in forging a Beijing-Moscow alliance to bypass the US dollar in the global monetary system, and to phase-in a gold-backed standard of trade. As the South China Morning Post reported at the time, the new office was part of agreements made between the two neighbours “to seek stronger economic ties” since the West brought in sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis and the oil-price slump hit the Russian economy.

At the time, Vladimir Shapovalov, a senior official at the Russian central bank, said the two central banks were drafting a memorandum of understanding to solve technical issues around China’s gold imports from Russia, and that details would be released soon, to which we said that If Russia – the world’s fourth largest gold producer after China, Japan and the US – is indeed set to become a major supplier of gold to China, the probability of a scenario hinted by many over the years, namely that Beijing is preparing to eventually unroll a gold-backed currency, increases by orders of magnitude.

***

Expect that the West not to take this major financial challenge by China and Russia lying down. Washington may use its North Korea, Myanmar or Philippines cards – as a means to increase its leverage in Asia, in an effort to extract Chinese concessions, and head-off China’s new financial ascendancy.

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US Military Presence in Niger. Did Trump Just Have His Benghazi without the Mainstream Media Even Noticing?

NOVANEWS

Four U.S. soldiers are ambushed in Niger, and the political press shrugs.

 

Four dead Americans.

It’s been five years since terrorists attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, leaving four Americans dead. Last week, as CIA officers disguised in wigs and mustaches testified in court about the predawn ambush on the diplomatic compound, four other American soldiers were killed in neighboring Niger.

Most Americans may not even be aware that approximately 800 U.S. troops are stationed in Niger, a West African nation where jihadist groups have taken root. As part of the never-ending war on terror, the United States has also set up a drone base in Niger’s capital city of Niamey. Contrary to his focused commitment to reverse every policy put in place by his predecessor, President Donald Trumphas decided to carry on with the construction of a second drone base in Niger commissioned by Barack Obama.

American forces have never been sanctioned to an official combat mission in Niger, a landlocked West African nation about twice the size of Texas with a population of just over 20 million people. But they have long been fighting against Islamic extremists in the country and surrounding region. On Oct. 4, four Green Berets were killed and two more injured after their group of a dozen U.S. soldiers were ambushed while conducting a joint patrol with about 40 Nigerien soldiers.

The New York Times reported that when the soldiers were ambushed, no American helicopters came to their rescue. Although Congress has never authorized the mission in Niger — as is required by the Constitution — the military’s Africa Command asked lawmakers for more help months before the attack, the Times also reported.

It remains unclear which terror group carried out the ambush, but there are reports that a new wing of the Islamic State that calls itself the Islamic State in Greater Sahara (ISIS-GS) had a hand in the deaths of the Special Forces troops — the first U.S. casualties in Niger.

Identified as Staff Sgt. Bryan Black of Washington state, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson of Ohio, Sgt. La David Johnson of Florida and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright of Georgia, the four dead Americans, part of the Third Special Forces Group based at North Carolina’s Fort Bragg, haven’t received much attention. The White House said Trump was notified about the attack in Niger shortly after it happened last Wednesday night. A week later, he still hasn’t sent one tweet or released any official statement about the death of four Americans. He has written more than 60 tweets about Benghazi, another terror attack in the same region of Africa that resulted in four dead Americans.

Benghazi is bigger than Watergate. Don’t let Obama get away with allowing Americans to die. Kick him out of office tomorrow.

The White House has remained curiously mum about this terror attack, exactly the sort of event it would normally use to score political points. Even though he sent Vice President Mike Pence to Indiana — at great taxpayer expense — to showboat over the flag at an NFL game on Sunday, Trump couldn’t be bothered to head to Dover Air Force Base to greet the flag-draped coffin of one of the soldiers he claims to honor on Monday. Instead, the president was busy playing golf with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Recall how much was made of President Obama’s round of golf after stopping to address the beheading of American James Foley by ISIS? Or the hours of cable news coverage devoted to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s supposedly disingenuous statement to the grieving families three days after the Benghazi attack?

Republicans were quick to accuse the Obama administration of crafting a faulty political narrative in the aftermath of Benghazi. Fox News told its viewers for years that Obama may have “sacrificed Americans” as part of a “political calculation” to win re-election.

Now that such an attack has happened on Trump’s watch, where are the specious accusations of a stand-down order?

Kris “Tanto” Paronto, one of the surviving U.S. security contractors who were on the ground in Benghazi during the terrorist attack, slammed Clinton for lacking a “sense of urgency.” Just one week before the Niger ambush, Paronto suggested in a tweet that Clinton failed to stop the attack because she didn’t consider the consulate staff American:

Wish u had that sense of urgency while u were watching the ISR feed during our 5th firefight in B-ghazi 😑or did u not consider us Americans? https://twitter.com/hillaryclinton/status/911984783194050560 

Donald Trump used a similar talking point frequently on the campaign trail.

Noting that U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens, a personal friend of Clinton’s, was among the victims, Trump said in a June 2016 speech:

“What she did with him was absolutely horrible. He was left helpless to die as Hillary Clinton soundly slept in her bed.”

Trump has remained so silent on Niger that Breitbart News was successfully duped over the weekend by a parody account that tweeted presidential condolences. The sadly remarkable truth that the Trump-loving conservative media is burying is that these soldiers’ commanding officers have made statements — but their commander-in-chief has not.

While it was immediately apparent that conservative outrage over the  Benghazi attack was rooted in politics, we now know that much of its reaction was also a projection of what they would have done in power. The response to the ambush in Niger makes clear that Benghazi was never about embassy security, just as the revelation that both Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have used personal emails while in the White House showed that conservative outrage over Hillary Clinton’s emails was never about secure government communications.

Not one prominent figure in the Republican Party would dare suggest that Trump’s neglect of the ambush serves to further a political narrative — one that claims one ISIS’ reign of terror is in decline on his watch.

Following the ambush in Niger, Fox News has failed to mention the infamous terror group in its few on-air reports of the four dead Americans. Instead, the conservative cable news network reported on Monday that U.S. troops were on the verge of successfully running ISIS out of Iraq. On Tuesday, Fox News host Greg Gutfeld delivered a monologue demanding that Trump be given the credit.

Bombing the crap out of them, killing everyone they know — it seems to work. Who would have thought? Oh, yeah, President Trump. It’s something for which he gets no credit. He’s literally ending ISIS … So laugh all you want about the tired phrase, “There’s a new sheriff in town.” I think ISIS got that message. And while we have to careful of the “mission accomplished” syndrome, what is undeniable is that ISIS is off the front pages and on their last legs.

Behold the mythmaking in action

Fox News producers no doubt know that Niger could be Trump’s Benghazi because they created the media and political spectacle of Benghazi out of nearly nothing. While the president has kept his detractors distracted with petty drama, Fox is helping him sweep a real scandal under the rug.

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The US on the Brink of War with North Korea

Amid accelerating US preparations for conflict with North Korea, yesterday’s night-time flight by two B-1B bombers over the Korean Peninsula was designed to provoke a North Korean response that could be used as the casus belli for all-out war.

The supersonic bombers were joined by Japanese and South Korean fighter jets for the first joint night-time training exercise that involved practicing air-to-ground missile drills in waters off the east coast of South Korea, then off the west coast. This rehearsal for war with North Korea followed another first when two B-1B bombers late last month flew the furthest north along the North Korean coast since the start of this century.

At the same time, the Pentagon is assembling a naval armada off the Korean Peninsula. The nuclear attack submarine USS Tucson arrived off South Korea on Saturday. The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and its strike group of cruisers and destroyers is due to arrive later this month for joint exercises with the South Korean navy. Two Australian frigates are also en route to Korean waters.

The Trump administration’s relentless campaign of bellicose threats and military provocations makes clear that the danger of a catastrophic war, which could drag in major powers such as China and Russia and escalate into a nuclear exchange, is real and imminent. As he faces a mounting political crisis at home, the US president may see a war with North Korea as a means of shoring up his administration and crushing domestic political opposition.

From the standpoint of military logic, the US has deliberately placed the Pyongyang regime in an impossible situation. In his fascistic rant at the UN last month, Trump declared that North Korea confronted “total destruction” unless it capitulated completely to US demands. He flatly ruled out any negotiations with Pyongyang when he rebuked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for “wasting his time” in sending out diplomatic feelers.

North Korea’s foreign minister responded to Trump’s UN speech by declaring that it amounted to a declaration of war and warned that his country had the right to take countermeasures, including the shooting down of US strategic bombers in international airspace. Yet the Pentagon has continued to send B-1Bs to conduct war games in close proximity to North Korea.

Confronted with the most powerful military on the planet armed to the teeth with thousands of nuclear weapons, the Pyongyang regime could conclude that it has to attack first, including with its limited nuclear arsenal, before its military is totally destroyed. Each B-1B flight poses the immediate question to the generals in Pyongyang: is this another drill, or the start of an all-out attack?

In Washington, the military is being prepared and primed for war against North Korea. In a keynote speech to top army officers on Monday, Defence Secretary James Mattis insisted that the military had to be “ready to ensure we have military options that our president can employ if needed.”

The Army Association paraphrased General Robert Abrams, commander of US Army Forces Command, who spoke at the same event as saying,

“Sending American forces to fight a World War II-style all-out war would mean facing a harsh reality: Troops will die, and in large numbers. “

Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Joseph Dunford met with Trump on Tuesday to review military options, including “to prevent North Korea from threatening the United States and its allies with nuclear weapons.” In other words, the Trump administration is on the brink of an illegal war of aggression on the pretext that North Korea’s small nuclear arsenal poses a threat to the US.

A US attack on North Korea would inevitably lead to a confrontation with China and Russia, which have repeatedly called for an easing of tensions and a return to negotiations. A war on their borders and the installation of a US puppet regime in Pyongyang cuts directly across their strategic interests in Asia. Moreover, the subjugation of North Korea is part of Washington’s far broader ambition to undermine, encircle and, if necessary, go to war with China to ensure American hegemony in Asia and the world.

Trump has accelerated the Obama administration’s so-called “pivot to Asia” against Beijing on every front—diplomatically, economically and militarily. He has strengthened US ties throughout the region, threatened China with trade war and confronted Beijing militarily, not only on the Korean Peninsula but also in the South China Sea. On Tuesday, a US navy destroyer carried out another provocative intrusion near China’s Paracel Islands to challenge Beijing’s “excessive maritime claims.”

The US drive to war is not simply the product of the fascistic President Trump. Rather, he is the expression of the deepening political, social and economic crisis of American imperialism, which has sought to arrest its historic decline through its aggressive use of military might. Having created one disaster after another in the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa, Washington is upping the ante and preparing for a direct conflict with its major rivals, China and Russia in the first instance.

The danger of war is further heightened by the immense turmoil and conflicts within the American political establishment, including in the White House, and more broadly, popular opposition to war and austerity. Trump is publicly at odds with both Tillerson and Mattis, who have suggested that diplomatic efforts need to be exhausted before any attack on North Korea—not because they are opposed to war, but because they fear the immediate eruption of a mass anti-war movement in the event of undisguised US aggression.

The bitterness of the infighting was underscored when a well-sourced NBC article last week revealed that Tillerson had threatened to resign and called Trump “a moron” following a top-level Pentagon meeting.

On Wednesday, NBC reported that what prompted Tillerson to make that remark was a proposal by Trump to increase the number of US nuclear weapons ten-fold, which would put the US in violation of all existing nuclear treaties and effectively render it a pariah state.

In a chilling expression of the type of crackdown that could be imposed in the context of a further escalation against North Korea, Trump threatened in a tweet to suspend NBC’s broadcasting license over the story.

The deep divisions in American ruling circles that are fuelling speculation about Trump’s impeachment were summed up in a Washington Post editorial on Tuesday headlined “What to do with an unfit president.”

Far from halting the drive to war, the political crisis only adds to the danger. Beset with conflict at home, Trump is being propelled to extricate himself by seeking to project political and social tensions outwards against a foreign foe. His critics and opponents are not opposed to war—many are criminally culpable for the US acts of aggression over the past 25 years. The differences are purely tactical—how to attack and who to attack first.

Without the development of a mass anti-war movement of the working class in the United States and internationally, war is not only possible but inevitable. Such a movement cannot be based on appeals to the powers-that-be, but rather on a revolutionary socialist perspective to abolish the diseased capitalist order that threatens to drag humanity into the abyss.

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Uzbekistan’s New President Mirziyoyev Is Undoing Karimov’s Legacy

NOVANEWS

Uzbekistan’s New President Mirziyoyev Is Undoing Karimov’s Legacy. Towards a Rapprochement with Moscow and Beijing?

 

Featured image: Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Vladimir Putin at the funerals of late Uzbekistan president Islam Karimov, December 2016

Uzbekistan’s new leader has spent his first year in office undoing his predecessor’s legacy, implementing an Erdogan-like “Zero Problems With Neighbors” approach mixed with a Deng Xiaoping-inspired “economic opening” in order to turn his geostrategically positioned Central Asian state into a New Silk Road powerhouse.

Shavkat Mirziyoyev was chosen by the Uzbekistani elite to replace long-running but suddenly deceased President Islam Karimov in early September 2016, with his appointment being legitimized by the people in a nationwide election that December. Contrary to what could have been expected given the country’s severe vulnerability to Hybrid War, the political transition in this “national democracy”went off without a hitch, which demonstrates that the Uzbekistani powerbrokers in the economic, clan-based, and security spheres were able to come to a pragmatic agreement in the interest of national stability. Bearing in mind the political-economic reforms that Mirziyoyev has initiated since entering into office, it can be reasonably presumed that they selected him because they saw an historic opportunity to modernize a rigid system in order to flexibly adapt their country to the New Silk Road reality of 21st-century multipolar geopolitics.

It’s with this in mind that Forbes writer Kenneth Rapoze published his well-researched September 2017 piece titled “Eurasia’s Latest Economic Reboot Can Be Found In Uzbekistan”, which does a surprisingly good job documenting the changes that the Central Asian state has undergone since the passing of Karimov. Many of these have gone unnoticed to all but the most astute observers because of the landlocked state’s traditional opacity and the lack of interest that its more mundane developments have generated from most Mainstream Media outlets, but the political-economic reforms taking place in Uzbekistan right now are nevertheless very important in the general scheme of things because they’re positioning the country to become a powerhouse along the New Silk Road. To that effect, Rapoze spoke about two main trends that are guiding the state’s policy in this regard, and the present analysis will briefly highlight the key points that he brought up, add some additional insight to them, and then conclude with an assessment of the Hybrid War risks that could offset the country’s geostrategic destiny.

“Zero Problems With Neighbors”

The Forbes writer correctly notes that Mirziyoyev has sought to repair the damaged regional relations that he inherited from his predecessor by visiting three of the four former Soviet Republics surrounding his country and symbolically allowing direct flights to the capital of neighboring rival Tajikistan. What the writer didn’t include in his analysis is that President Putin travelled to Uzbekistan for Karimov’s funeral, and that Mirziyoyev then returned the heartfelt gesture by visiting Moscow earlier this spring. The rapprochement between the two wayward partners continued apace and recently saw them commence their first bilateral military exercises in 12 years. Syncretizing all of these positive moves into a single policy, it appears as though Mirziyoyev is applying Erdogan’s former approach of “Zero Problems With Neighbors”, albeit in a more sincere manner than the Turkish leader did prior to 2011 and without the threat of a “deep state” (in Turkey’s case, Gulenist) conspiracy to offset it.

Uzbekistan’s new Turkish-modelled policy is designed to boost its regional standing and solidify its status as a crucial New Silk Road transit state, taking advantage of the fact that the country has Central Asia’s largest population (and therefore market potential) and strongest military. It already provides secure transit for several Chinese-Turkmen pipelines, and could in the future become the central node along a Central Asian high-speed railway connecting the People’s Republic of China with the Islamic Republic of Iran. In terms of north-south connectivity, it could also function as Russia’s gateway to Afghanistan, just as it did during the Soviet era, and should the Central-South Asian state eventually stabilize in the future, then Uzbekistan could become the middleman in facilitating Russian-Pakistani overland trade. Therefore, this strategically positioned country is poised to play an irreplaceable role in competitive connectivity projects, though in order to do that, it needs to reform its monetary system first.

New Silk Road map

“Opening Up”

Rapoze’s article interestingly compares Mirziyoyev to China’s famous economic reformer Deng Xiaoping in highlighting just how transformational his fledgling presidency is already shaping out to be. The writer notes how the most important domestic structural change that’s taken place thus far in Uzbekistan is Tashkent’s implementation of a currency convertibility system to be fully in place by 2019. This, he remarks, will facilitate foreign direct investment and transition of the “informal economy” into the formal sphere. This move shouldn’t be underestimated by any observers because it lays at the basis of Uzbekistan’s economic renaissance and has the potential to transition from being an agricultural-exporting economy to a more diversified one in providing manufacturing, logistical, energy, mineral (including uranium), service sector, and other capacities to Eurasian clients all along the New Silk Road, be it across the east-west horizontal or the north-south vertical.

To explain, the inclusion of previously “black market” activities into the formal economy could instantly improve Uzbekistan’s macroeconomic indicators, which in turn could attract more foreign direct investment that would in and of itself be facilitated by the country’s long-overdue currency convertibility system.  Taking into consideration Uzbekistan’s prime geostrategic location and impressive labor-market potential (as derived from its large population), the cumulative effect of all of these reforms would be to position the state into becoming the all-around regional leader, which was Karimov’s vision all along despite the shortcomings in his policy applications. Tashkent’s emulation of Beijing’s late-1970s “opening up” policy pioneered by Deng Xiaoping provides the much-needed stimulus in systematically stabilizing Central Asia by removing the socio-economic risks which had previously made Uzbekistan susceptible to poverty-exploited Color Revolutions and jihadist recruitment. That said, there are also certain Hybrid War vulnerabilities that can’t be ignored.

Can “Oʻzbekiston” Be Offset?

“Oʻzbekiston”, as it’s referred to in the Turkic-related Uzbek language, faces the risk of having its exciting Silk Road future offset by Hybrid Wars and an Afghan conflict overspill. There’s always the lingering and latent risk that an unexpected Color Revolution (potentially “crypto”-Tajik-linked) could develop and transition into a Hybrid War, one that could be exacerbated by a sudden bout of elite infighting/rivalry (possibly between the security services) and which might seek to exploit the country’s clan-based society. This could happen independently or concurrent with an overspill of the Afghan conflict into Uzbekistan’s southern Surxondaryo Region, whether in “hard” terms such as through armed fighters or through “soft” ones such as the dissemination of radical ideologies. Along the lines of the Afghan tangent, Tashkent is thought to have close ties to Afghan Vice President Abdul Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek, who’s an extremely polarizing figure in Afghanistan because of his heavy-handed military methods, and it can’t be discounted that simmering discontent against this de-facto exiled politician might eventually manifest itself in ethnic violence against his compatriots in sparking an Uzbek-Afghan crisis that might tempt Tashkent into a “humanitarian intervention”.

The above scenarios are of course speculative but based on reasonable risks and previous political patterns elsewhere, though upon seriously considering them, it seems like the chances of them happening anytime soon are minimal, barring of course some unforeseen events. Accepting that Uzbekistan appears to be stable, albeit still Hybrid War-susceptible, state, there are legitimate grounds for optimism about its future, though provided that it continues along its present trajectory and forthcoming (possibly even political-electoral) reforms are carried out properly. Tashkent needs to ensure that the socio-economic disparity between its majority-impoverished populace and comparatively wealthier elite doesn’t continue to widen to the point where it foments more anti-government sentiment and is subsequently exploited by foreign forces. In the same vein, attention should be paid to the revised power relations between clans and the emergence of new political-economic(-ethnic?) elite following the country’s “opening up” and the rapid changes that this is expected to entail, as an unintended consequence could be that it shakes up the existing power structure in the country and inadvertently destabilizes it. To preempt this, the Uzbekistani security services might follow their Myanmarese counterparts in attempting to regulate this process.

Concluding Thoughts

Uzbekistan is on the cusp of fast-moving, but not necessarily uncontrollable, change because of the ambitious political-economic reforms undertaken during newly inaugurated President Mirziyoyev’s first year in office. By following in Turkish President Erdogan’s footsteps with his “Zero Problems With Neighbors” foreign policy and learning from former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping’s economic policy of “opening up”, Mirziyoyev is proving that he and the (largely unseen) powerbrokers behind him acutely understand the need for fundamentally redirecting the course that previous President Karimov had put Uzbekistan on, and this determination couldn’t have come at a better geostrategic time. Karimov was actually very good for Uzbekistan in the overall sense considering the difficult domestic, regional, and global circumstances in which he had to rule, and when remembering the threat that the Islamist-fueled Tajik Civil War and “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan” terrorist group posed to his country’s existence at the time, it can be said that he tried (key word) to choose the most pragmatic (albeit admittedly very controversial) path possible in all ways, though this naturally had its multidimensional shortcomings and had to eventually change sooner than later.

Karimov behaved as a strict steward during the post-Cold War era of unpredictable unipolarity and the early-2000s incipient emergence of multipolarity, which made him a masterful player in the “Balance of Power” rearrangements that were taking place during that time. The late Uzbekistani President, however, was ill-equipped for adapting to the Silk Road Century that China is pioneering through its One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and his country would have been unable to properly manage its domestic and regional affairs under these game-changing conditions because of the near-impossibility that he would have had the personal humbleness to essentially admit that his former policies were insufficient for dealing with this new paradigm. Therefore, his passing couldn’t have happened at a more “opportune” time because it opened the door for the country’s elite to finally enact the necessary changes for integrating Uzbekistan into the Silk Road Century as one of its most indispensable states, starting off with a “clean slate” unencumbered by the “heavy (political) baggage” of the Karimov era. Although somewhat belated, these reforms are more timely than ever and being initiated under the “proper” circumstances.

So long as Mirziyoyev continues channeling Erdogan in the foreign policy manner through his “Zero Problems With Neighbors” approach and Deng Xiaoping via the late Chinese leader’s economic one of “opening up”, then Uzbekistan has a very positive future ahead of it in the emerging Multipolar World Order, but its security services will need to keep an eye on the country’s Hybrid War vulnerabilities and take a proactive stance in preempting any forthcoming conflicts if Uzbekistan is to retain its Karimov-era stability amidst the exciting and fast-moving changes of the Mirziyoyev period.

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Che Guevara– Viva! Hasta la Victoria Siempre! “Che! – Among the Greatest Revolutionaries of the 20th Century”

NOVANEWS

Che! – You are one of the greatest revolutionaries of the 20th Century. You inspired tens of millions of people throughout the world to fight for justice, for their freedom and civil rights. You have left a vision of hope, of never giving up – a legacy of solidarity and of Venceremos! – we shall overcome. You have been murdered by the most criminal organization of the most evil empire, the CIA of the United States of America – but your spirit lives on in Latin America, Africa, Asia and even in vassal Europe, inspiring generation after generation for class struggle, that there is universal justice that must be fought for and will be won. Che – you are a true Hero – an icon for the poor and powerless!

Ernesto “Che” Guevara was born in Rosario, Argentina, on 14 June 1928 and was assassinated in Higuera, Bolivia, by CIA-led Bolivian forces on 9 October 1967. It was a summary execution – no trial, no questions asked – 50 years ago. What has changed in 5 decades? – At the surface, one might say – not much. The world is still divided between the capitalist, neocolonialist west and the much more visionary and peaceful east.

However, moral consciousness is rising everywhere. There is slow progression; the vessel is slowly veering towards a more peaceful multi-polar world. Not just the ascent of Russia and China are bringing a new wind of consciousness to millions of people, but the sensation of change is noticeable everywhere – from South to North and from East to West. It is still brittle and weak – but it is growing and gaining strength. And Che – his unquestioned determination to fight for a better world – was instrumental in this awakening.

Che left Argentina in the early 1950s as a medical student, accompanied by his pal, Alberto Granado, a young doctor, on a single-cylinder sputtering 1939 Norton motor cycle – they called it “La Poderosa” (“the Mighty”), exploring the Latin American Subcontinent which they knew only from books. Granado was probably the first one to give Ernesto the famous nickname “Che” – an Argentinian equivalent to ‘buddy’ or ‘pal’. They travelled through South America and discovered misery, poverty and disease. Combining Che’s “The Motor Cycle Diaries” and Granado’s “With Che Through Latin America”, Robert Redford turned the diaries in 2004 into an epic movie that has since become as symbolic for young revolutionary rebellion as has Alberto Korda’s famous photography of Che’s.

The film portrays the two friends exposed to utmost destitution throughout South America, turning Che gradually into the revolutionary, who eventually was instrumental in freeing Cuba, at the side of Fidel and Raul Castro, from the deadly oppression of US-supported dictator, Fulgencio Batista.

During their trip, the two friends served as doctors in San Pablo, an isolated leprosy colony near Iquitos, in Peru’s Amazon region. They went their separate ways at the end of their trip in 1953 in Venezuela. Granado stayed on in Venezuela, where he felt his raison d’être was to be a medical doctor, working as a leprosy specialist in a Venezuelan hospital. It took 8 years until they met again in Havana, when Che, who by then was second-in-command to Fidel, invited Alberto Granado to Cuba, where he was to teach biology at Havana University and in 1962 created the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Santiago in Cuba.

As a medical doctor, Che saw often hopelessness and misery. When he treated once a woman dying from tuberculosis, he was horrified by the public health system: 

“How long this present order, based on the absurd idea of caste, will last is not within my means to answer, but it’s time that those who govern spent less time publicizing their own virtues and more money, much more money, funding socially useful works.”

And he continued,

“It is at times like this, when a doctor is conscious of his complete powerlessness, that he longs for change: a change to prevent the injustice of a system in which only a month ago this poor woman was still earning her living as a waitress, wheezing and panting but facing life with dignity. In circumstances like this, individuals in poor families who can’t pay their way become surrounded by an atmosphere of barely disguised acrimony; they stop being father, mother, sister or brother and become a purely negative factor in the struggle for life and, consequently, a source of bitterness for the healthy members of the community who resent their illness as if it were a personal insult to those who have to support them.”

Ernesto Che Guevara moved on from Venezuela on a cargo boat to Miami and from there through Central America to Mexico. He later learned about Guatemala’s President Arbenz’s assassination by a CIA-led coup d’état in 1954 on behalf of United Fruit – which Arbenz wanted to nationalize. Che became increasingly a revolutionary, whose goal it was to fight for justice and equality, for a better world and to free oppressed people throughout the globe from nefarious capitalism – starting with Latin America.

In Mexico, Che met with Fidel and Raul Castro. Together with a small revolutionary armada, they sailed on the now famed yacht Granma, participating in the historic 26th of July 1953 Movement (M-26-7) against the Moncada army Barracks in Santiago de Cuba. The assault failed. Che was injured, Castro was captured and sentenced to 15 years in prison but freed after two years in an armistice. They then returned to Mexico, where they organized and planned another, better prepared attack on the Batista regime.

In 1955, together with others by now renowned Cuban revolutionaries, like Camilo Cienfuegos and Juan Almeida Bosque, Fidel, Raul and Che formed a disciplined 82 men-strong guerilla force, aiming at overthrowing Batista. They left Veracruz, Mexico in late November 1956 and targeted the small town of Niquero, Oriente Province of Cuba. However, they were discovered by Cuban air force helicopters and had to land on 2 December 1956 on a beach called Los Colorados, about 25 km south of the designated spot where Celia Sánchez, a comrade revolutionary in Cuba, waited for them with jeeps, petrol, weapons and food. Due to the emergency landing, they could not benefit from this essential guerilla war materiel.

They fought hard against Batista’s troops and lost 70 of the 82 men that sailed aboard Granma. But they did not give up. They regrouped in the Sierra Maestra mountains, where they attracted hundreds of young Cuban volunteers. They won many battles against Batista’s army. These battles became the Cuban Revolution and eventually ended on New Year’s Eve of 1958, when they marched victoriously into Havana. In January 1959 Batista fled to the Dominican Republic.

Following the triumphant Cuban Revolution, Che Guevara gained prominence and was soon promoted to second-in-charge to Fidel. He occupied several key roles in the new government, like instituting the agrarian land reform, leading a successful countrywide literacy campaign; he was Minister of Industry, Director of Cuba’s Central Bank, instructed Cuba’s armed forces. As such, he also trained the militia forces who repelled the Bay of Pigs Invasion and was instrumental in bringing the Soviet nuclear missiles to Cuba which prompted the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Che also toured the world as Cuba’s chief diplomat, representing Cuba’s socialism at the United Nations in both New York and Geneva, as well as everywhere he traveled.

In 1965, Che decided to leave Cuba. His major contribution to the Cuban Revolution, though ongoing to this day – was done. He was heavily influenced by Marxism-Leninism and saw the so-called Third World’s underdevelopment – poverty, destitution, disease – as a dependence on the abusive exploitation by the west – that which, in turn, is the inherent result of imperialism and monopoly capitalism. The only remedy to fight it was socialist internationalism, a world revolution.

Che left Cuba for Congo-Kinshasa, now Zaïre, where he was unsuccessful in fomenting a revolution against Joseph Mobutu, one of the most corrupt and murderous dictators Africa has known until this day. Che Guevara was particularly inspired to help the people of then Congo (a former Belgian colony, today neocolony), because his comrade Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically elected President of the Congo in 1960, was overturned in a coup d’état by Colonel Mobutu, helped by Belgian forces. Mobutu ordered Lumumba’s murder by firing squad in January 1961.

After a second coup, the brutal authoritarian Mobutu assumed power in 1965. With the help of the neocolonial US and the UK, he stayed in power more than three decades, until 1997, putting the extraordinary riches of minerals and petrol basically at western disposal (against a hefty fee, of course, for his own (Swiss) bank accounts, not for his country), to the detriment of the Congolese people. Che Guevara was powerless against these boundless and ruthless military forces – forces that continue to protect also the Kabila dynasty that followed Mobutu in 1997, first by Laurent Kabila, and after his assassination in 2001, by his son Joseph – who to this day is ruling mineral-rich Zaïre, while sustaining bloody civil war-like conditions that has killed millions of people, including women and children, all for the benefit of western – mostly US – mineral giants feeding mainly the US military industrial complex.

Back to Che. After his unfortunate experience at revolution in Africa, he went back to his roots – Latin America, a culture which he was familiar with and where he believed a true and lasting revolution was possible – to bring dignity and sovereignty back to the peoples who were miserably oppressed by Washington backed military regimes for decades. On November 4, 1966, Che crossed the border into Bolivia under false identity. He thought Bolivia, the center of South America, was ideal to start and spread a revolution throughout Latin America.

Che formed a small army of 47 fighters from Bolivia, Cuba, Peru and Argentina, the ‘Ejército de Liberación Nacional de Bolivia’ – ELN (The Bolivian National Liberation Army). Che and his people fought on several occasions the army of the cruel military dictator, René Barrientos, (1964-1969), who came to power in 1964 by a coup helped – by whom else – Washington. Che and his troops had also a non-fighting network that kept them informed and supplied them with food and water as their hardship and information inaccessibility made them vulnerable in the jungle of Bolivia.

Two members of Che’s support team, Regis Debray (French) and Ciro Bustos (Argentinian), were captured and tortured. It is said, but has been often contested, that they revealed Che’s whereabouts, which allowed Barrientos’ army to intensify its battle and eventually by the end of September 1967 have a clear advantage over Che’s guerilla army. Che and his men fought their last battle on 8 October in the Churro gorge, when they were captured and taken to an area called La Higuera, in the Department of Santa Cruz in Bolivia. Che was executed on 9 October and his body hidden by the military, though his diary made the way into Fidel’s hands. Fidel eventually published it.

In 1995, Fidel Castro initiated with the President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozado, also called Goni the “Gringo”, a search for Che’s remains. They were found in Vallegrande near La Higuera and sent to Cuba, where they were laid to rest in Santa Clara in a Mausoleum especially built for Che.

On 17 October 1997 CNN reports “Cuba paid tribute to revolutionary hero Ernest “Che” Guevara … with a pomp-filled state burial and a ringing tribute from Fidel Castro, the man he helped propel to power nearly four decades ago. He said:

 “His inerasable mark is now in history, and his luminous gaze of a prophet has become a symbol for all the poor of this world.””

Fidel’s words still keep ringing through the ether of the universe. Undoubtedly, Che, Fidel and Hugo Chavez were among the most influential revolutionaries of the Western Hemisphere in the 20th Century. Their legacy keeps emitting signals of peace and justice throughout the world.

Posted in CUBAComments Off on Che Guevara– Viva! Hasta la Victoria Siempre! “Che! – Among the Greatest Revolutionaries of the 20th Century”

How to Wipe Out Puerto Rico’s Debt without Hurting Bondholders

NOVANEWS

During his visit to hurricane-stricken Puerto Rico, President Donald Trump shocked the bond market when he told Geraldo Rivera of Fox News that he was going to wipe out the island’s bond debt. He said on October 3rd:

You know they owe a lot of money to your friends on Wall Street. We’re gonna have to wipe that out. That’s gonna have to be — you know, you can say goodbye to that. I don’t know if it’s Goldman Sachs but whoever it is, you can wave good-bye to that.

How did the president plan to pull this off? Pam Martens and Russ Martenswriting in Wall Street on Parade, note that the U.S. municipal bond market holds $3.8 trillion in debt, and it is not just owned by Wall Street banks. Mom and pop retail investors are exposed to billions of dollars of potential losses through their holdings of Puerto Rican municipal bonds, either directly or in mutual funds. Wiping out Puerto Rico’s debt, they warned, could undermine confidence in the municipal bond market, causing bond interest rates to rise, imposing an additional burden on already-struggling states and municipalities across the country.

True, but the president was just pointing out the obvious. As economist Michael Hudsonsays, “Debts that can’t be paid won’t be paid.”

Puerto Rico is bankrupt, its economy destroyed. In fact it is currently in bankruptcy proceedings with its creditors. Which suggests its time for some more out-of-the-box thinking . . . .

Turning Disaster into a Win-Win

In July 2016, a solution to this conundrum was suggested by the notorious Goldman Sachs itself, when mom and pop investors holding the bonds of bankrupt Italian banks were in jeopardy. Imposing losses on retail bondholders had proven to be politically toxic, after one man committed suicide. Some other solution had to be found.

Italy’s non-performing loans (NPLs) then stood at €210bn, at a time when the ECB was buying €120bn per year of outstanding Italian government bonds as part of its QE program. The July 2016 Financial Times quoted Goldman’s Francesco Garzarelli, who said,

“by the time QE is over – not sooner than end 2017, on our baseline scenario – around a fifth of Italy’s public debt will be sitting on the Bank of Italy’s balance sheet.”

His solution: rather than buying Italian government bonds in its quantitative easing program, the European Central Bank could simply buy the insolvent banks’ NPLs. Bringing the entire net stock of bad loans onto the government’s balance sheet, he said, would be equivalent to just nine months’ worth of Italian government bond purchases by the ECB.

Puerto Rico’s debt is only $73 billion, one third the Italian debt. The Fed has stopped its quantitative easing program, but in its last round (called “QE3”), it was buying $85 billion per month in securities. At that rate, it would have to fire up the digital printing presses for only one additional month to rescue the suffering Puerto Ricans without hurting bondholders at all. It could then just leave the bonds on its books, declaring a moratorium at least until Puerto Rico got back on its feet, and better yet, indefinitely.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs data, 33,000 US jobs were lost in September, the first time the country has had a negative figure since 2010. It could be time for a bit more economic stimulus from the Fed.

Successful Precedent

Shifting the debt burden of bankrupt institutions onto the books of the central bank is not a new or radical idea. UK Prof. Richard Werner, who invented the term “quantitative easing” when he was advising the Japanese in the 1990s, says there is ample precedent for it. In 2012, he proposed a similar solution to the European banking crisis, citing three successful historical examples.

One was in Britain in 1914, when the British banking sector collapsed after the government declared war on Germany. This was not a good time for a banking crisis, so the Bank of England simply bought the banks’ NPLs.

“There was no credit crunch,” wrote Werner, “and no recession. The problem was solved at zero cost to the tax payer.”

For a second example, he cited the Japanese banking crisis of 1945. The banks had totally collapsed, with NPLs that amounted to virtually 100 percent of their assets:

But in 1945 the Bank of Japan had no interest in creating a banking crisis and a credit crunch recession. Instead it wanted to ensure that bank credit would flow again, delivering economic growth. So the Bank of Japan bought the non-performing assets from the banks – not at market value (close to zero), but significantly above market value.

Werner’s third example was the US Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing program, in which it bought $1.7 trillion in mortgage-backed securities from the banks. These securities were widely understood to be “toxic” – Wall Street’s own burden of NPLs. Again the move worked: the banks did not collapse, the economy got back on its feet, and the much-feared inflation did not result.

In each of these cases, he wrote:

The operations were a complete success. No inflation resulted. The currency did not weaken. Despite massive non-performing assets wiping out the solvency and equity of the banking sector, the banks’ health was quickly restored. In the UK and Japanese case, bank credit started to recover quickly, so that there was virtually no recession at all as a result.

The Moral Hazard Question

One objection to this approach is the risk of “moral hazard”: lenders who know they will be rescued from their bad loans will recklessly make even more. That is the argument, but an analysis of data in China, where NPLs are now a significant problem, has relieved those concerns. China’s NPLs are largely being left on the banks’ books without writing them down. The concern is that shrinking the banks’ balance sheets in an economy that is already slowing will reduce their ability to create credit, further slowing growth and triggering a downward economic spiral. As for the moral hazard problem, when researchers analyzed the data, they found that the level of Chinese NPLs did not affect loan creation, in small or large banks.

But if Puerto Rico got relief from the Fed, wouldn’t cities and states struggling with their own debt burdens want it too? Perhaps, but that bar could be set in bankruptcy court. Few cities or states can match the devastation of Puerto Rico, which was already in bankruptcy court when struck by hurricanes that left virtually no tree unscathed and literally flattened the territory.

Arguably, the Fed should be making nearly-interest-free loans to cities and states, allowing them to rebuild their crumbling infrastructure at reasonable cost. That argument was made in an October 2012 editorial in The New York Times titled “Getting More Bang for the Fed’s Buck”. It was also suggested byMartin Hutchinson in Reuters in October 2010:

An alternative mechanism could be an extension of the Fed’s [QE] asset purchases to include state and municipal bonds. Currently the central bank does not have the power to do this for maturities of more than six months. But an approving Congress could remove that hurdle at a stroke . . . .

The Fed lent $29 trillion to Wall Street banks virtually interest-free. It could do the same for local governments.

Where There’s a Will

When central banks want to save bankrupt institutions without cost to the government or the people, they obviously know how to do it. It is a matter of boldness and political will, something that may be lacking in our central bankers but has been amply demonstrated in our president.

If the Fed resists the QE alternative, here is another possibility: Congress can audit the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Defense, and retrieve some of the $21 trillion gone missing from their accountings. This massive black money hole, tracked by Dr. Mark Skidmoreand Catherine Austin Fitts, former assistant secretary of HUD, is buried on the agencies’ books as “undocumented adjustments” – entries inserted without receipts or other documentary support just to balance the books. It represents money that rightfully belongs to the American people.

If our legislators and central bankers can find trillions of dollars to bail out Wall Street banks, while overlooking trillions more lost to the DoD and HUD in “undocumented adjustments,” they can find the money to help an American territory suffering the worst humanitarian crisis in its history.

Posted in USA, Puerto RicoComments Off on How to Wipe Out Puerto Rico’s Debt without Hurting Bondholders

Beyond Las Vegas and Why Che Guevara Matters, 50 Years After His Death

NOVANEWS

I listened with interest to CBC call-in shows about the mass killing in Las Vegas. Caller after caller, some who’d been there months before, or never, described confusion, guilt about surviving, helplessness. A commentator spoke of one person shielding another with his body: “Therein lies the hope for our species”, she said. One person sacrificing for another.

The radio commentator said people come together under existential threat. Maybe. But the threat is exceptional, or so we should believe. That’s why it was the call-in topic on two successive days.

Cuban independence leader and philosopher, José Martí, distinguished north and south Americas by the fact that the US was born behind a plough and the south was born out of panic and trauma. It was born out of terror. He said that for this reason there are two, and only two, Americas. [i]

He drew heavily upon Nátuatl imagery, inspired by his time in Guatemala. [ii] Martí’s poetry is replete with images of volcanic eruptions, lava and swords. The eruptions symbolize “la energía original” or humanness. Lava is disruptive. It seems to come from nowhere.

It burns. Náhuatl culture, dominated by the myth of Quetzalcátl, relies on images of fire and sun to portray freedom. Martí’s image of the “warrior whose path leads to the heavens” is nonetheless still “fiery and devastating”. In the Náhuatl dialectic of lava, fire and glittering swords lies, Cuban philosopher Cintio Vitier argues, the “key” to Martí’s poetry: its americanness.

The other America.  When we hear about solidarity after disasters like Las Vegas, we are supposed to be comforted. Hope for the species.  In Martí’s poetry, the “lengua de lava” does not get a chance to cool. It emerges into human consciousness as a sword that becomes sheathed in the sun. Nature’s chaos is real, and acts upon us according to the laws of nature. But we can respond with sacrifice.

The sacrifice noted on CBC is what Martí, following the Náhuatl, calls “love”. It is how to escape what Marx called “alienation”: separation from humanness.[iii] Martí’s americanness is realistic. “Hope” for humanity is not something soft and fuzzy for extraordinary moments of trouble. Humanness must be discovered. It takes work, and can be as disruptive as nature’s unpredictable and devastating events.

Che Guevara also referred to love as sacrifice. He was murdered 50 years ago this week by US agents. Che Guevara is criticized for what he said about sacrifice, just as he is criticized for much else. His vision is little understood. It is deeply philosophical. It matters today.

Che wrote that solidarity “has something of the bitter irony of the plebeians cheering on the gladiators in the Roman circus”. It is not enough “to wish the victim success”, he wrote. Instead, “one must share his or her fate…. in victory or death”.[iv]

We don’t like reference to death. We prefer “pathological upbeatness”,[v] believing in (our own) survival no matter what. Antonio Gramsci called such an attitude lazy.

It’s easy. It means we don’t have to think about solidarity as we might when survival is threatened.

It always is. The truth is that we are all in the path of an oncoming train, just as in Alex Colville’s famous painting. Che Guevara said, “at the risk of seeming ridiculous” that revolutionaries have to be guided by “great feelings of love”.  He meant the sacrifice sort.

But he wasn’t referring to dramatic events.

Speaking to medical workers in 1960, Che told them:

“If we all use the new weapon of solidarity … then the only thing left for us is to know the daily stretch of the road and to take it. Nobody can point out that stretch … in the personal road of each individual; it is what he will do every day, what he will gain from his individual experience”.

“What he will do every day”. The sacrifice part of Guevara’s message about solidarity, about love, is a day by day affair. This is what you find in the Nátuatl cosmology. Images of fire and volcanoes are coupled with images of liberation. It is realistic, like Martí’s poetry, like Che’s “new person”. It must be.

Che compared the “self-made man” to an invisible cage: we are enslaved by socially produced beliefs and values and we call that “freedom”. Like Martí, he took the question of freedom to be about how to get out of the cage without creating another one. Put differently, how do you respond to slavery without reasons and acts drawn from the same enslavement?

Critics say Che Guevara is naïve, expecting a new type of beingInstead, he is practical, as the other America has always had to be. He knows an ancient dialectic, in which we have to lose – or sacrifice – in order to gain – truth.  The “new person” recognizes the dialectic of sacrifice, called “love”. Such practical (not moral) insight is lost in the only “America” most now recognize.

Drawing upon his America, Martí wrote: “Despídete de ti mismo, y vivirás”.[vi] It needn’t be so remarkable an inclination that only a horror like that of Las Vegas brings it to attention.

Ana Belén Montes is an example, urgently relevant.[vii] She’s in jail in the US. Please sign petition here.

Susan Babbitt is author of Humanism and Embodiment (Bloomsbury 2014).

Notes

[i] Cited in Juan Marinello, “Discurso en la clausura del 11 semanario juvenile nacional de estudios martianos” ACEM 1974

[ii] Cintio Vitier, “Lava, espada, alas (en torno a los versos libres)” in José Martí: Edición al cuidado de Ana Cairo Ballestar (Havana: Casa de las Américas, 2007) 211-225

[iii] Vitier, op. cit. 216

[iv] Che Guevara, “Create two, three, many Vietnams”, The Che Guevara Reader (Ocean Press, 1997) 316

[v] Terry Eagleton, Reason, faith and revolution (Yale University Press, 2009) 138

[vi] ‘Say good-bye to yourself, and you will live”

[vii] http://www.prolibertad.org/ana-belen-montes. For more information, write to the cnc@canadiannetworkoncuba.ca or cincoheroes@listas.cujae.edu.cu

Posted in USAComments Off on Beyond Las Vegas and Why Che Guevara Matters, 50 Years After His Death

Washington Pretends to be Combating ISIS in Syria

NOVANEWS
Abandoned buildings used by ISIS militants in northern Syria. / RT

 

Syria’s Foreign Ministry released video and other evidence, showing US and Israeli arms and munitions ending up in the hands of ISIS, al-Nusra and other terrorists.

It’s well known this has been going on throughout years of conflict, Washington wants it continued endlessly, not resolved.

According to Arabic-language Al-Manar news, ISIS and terrorists comprising the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) agreed to hand over the city to the SDF, no clashes occurring between their fighters.

The US-led battle for Raqqa was all about raping and destroying the city, not liberating it, most ISIS fighters redeployed to Deir Ezzor, Hama and Homs.

The battle dragged on for months to give Pentagon warplanes enough time to turn the city to rubble, massacring thousands of civilians, helping, not combating, ISIS.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman General Igor Konashenkov blasted US regional forces in southern Syria for letting ISIS and other terrorists use its illegally established al-Tanf base as a platform for launching attacks on Syrian troops.

He asked “the American side to clarify another instance of turning a blind eye to the activities of militants operating under their very noses.”

“It is purely for military ethics reasons that we do not publish the latest photos of the US base in al-Tanf with an abundance of pick-up trucks with heavy machine guns and recoilless guns” used by ISIS and other terrorist groups.

“Considering such serious manpower reinforcements with US benevolence and the creation of the stock of medicines with food supplies, one should not be an expert to forecast an attempt to disrupt the peace agreement now in the southern de-escalation zone as well. We are warning that all the responsibility for the peace process sabotage will be borne by the US side.”

On Wednesday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem met with Sergey Lavrov in Sochi, discussing coordination of political, economic and military issues, along with the Astana peace process.

“We still and will always consider the Turkish presence in Syria as illegal,” he stressed. “The Turks say their presence is taking place under the Astana umbrella, but I realized today that Astana has nothing to do with this Turkish act.”

“Therefore, any measure that is not coordinated with the Syrian government is an act of aggression, and we don’t recognize its legitimacy.”

“Turkey trains terrorists, arms them and facilitates their infiltration into the territory of Syria. This is why I can state that Turkey’s presence in Syria is illegal.”

Separately, Moallem blasted the so-called coalition led by Washington, saying it’s not combating ISIS as claimed. It’s supporting the terrorist group.

It’s “annihilating the Syrian people,” massacring “thousands…(W)omen and children mainly have become the victims of these crimes.”

Moallem told Lavrov Washington uses the so-called anti-terrorist coalition to support this scourge and “destroy Syria,” mainly its vital infrastructure, wanting war continuing “as long as possible.”

“(T)he US-led coalition…is systematically destroying anything but ISIL,” he stressed. “The American coalition is systematically destroying the economic infrastructure, so we…strongly demand that it (be) disbanded.”

Moallem earlier raised the issue of granting Kurds local autonomy in northern Syria, not permitting a separate Kurdish state.

“Today, the Kurds are actually competing with the Syrian army for control over the oil-bearing areas,” he explained. “They are well aware of the fact that Syria will not let anyone violate its state sovereignty under any circumstances.”

“At the moment, they are apparently intoxicated with US aid and support. However, it is must be understood that this aid will not last forever.”

Throughout its history, they were never supported by a reliable major power, Moallem added. Washington, of course, uses them to serve its interests.

Its goal is regime change or destroying Syrian sovereignty by partitioning the country. Russia’s goal is defeating US-supported terrorism, along with preserving Syrian sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Posted in USA, SyriaComments Off on Washington Pretends to be Combating ISIS in Syria

“Calm Before the Storm”? Trump Sends Second Aircraft Carrier to Korean Peninsula with 7,500 Marines Aboard

NOVANEWS
 

Just one week after uttering his now-infamous “this is the calm before the storm” statement to the press ahead of a dinner with military leaders, we now learn that President Trump has dispatched a second nuclear aircraft carrier, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, filled with 7,500 marines, to the Korean Peninsula. Of course, this comes after rumors swirled earlier this week that North Korea is preparing to fire multiple short-range rockets around the opening of the Chinese Communist Party’s twice-a-decade congress on Oct. 18th.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, is en route to the western Pacific after leaving San Diego port last week.

The Roosevelt will focus on maritime security operations in the Pacific and Middle East, the US military announced.

But the £3.4billion ($4.5billion) warship, known as “the Big Stick”, has been sent to boost US defence on the Korean peninsula, according to South Korean media.

It is expected to arrive in region in the coming weeks amid fears North Korea is about to test another missile or nuclear weapon.

Per the following map from Stratfor, the USS Theodore Roosevelt will join the USS Ronald Reagan which is already operating in the region.

Ship Positions

According to a statement from Admiral Steve Koehler, a strike group commander on the ship, the Roosevelt is carrying some 7,500 sailors and marines that are “ready as a war fighting force”.

“The US Navy carrier strike group is the most versatile, capable force at sea,” he said in a statement before the ship’s launch.

“After nearly a year of training and integration exercises, the entire team is ready as a warfighting force and ready to carry out the nation’s tasking.”

Of course, as we noted above, this buildup of naval forces in the Pacific follows an ominous warning from the President last week that preceded a dinner with military leaders: “You guys know what this represents? Maybe it’s the calm before the storm,” he said: “It could be the calm… before… the storm.”

A reporter quickly asked what the storm might be –“Is it Iran, ISIS, what’s the storm?”  to which he replied… “…you’ll find out.”

TRUMP: “Maybe it’s the calm before the storm.”

REPORTER: “What storm Mr. President?”
TRUMP: “You’ll find out.” (via Satellite News)

So what say you? Just more bluster from a headline seeking President and normal-ish naval patrols in the Pacific or have we reached a point of no return in an escalating conflict with a rogue North Korean leader that could turn violent at any moment?

Posted in USA, North Korea, South KoreaComments Off on “Calm Before the Storm”? Trump Sends Second Aircraft Carrier to Korean Peninsula with 7,500 Marines Aboard

More than 1,000 Foreign ISIS Terrorists Enter Syria via Iraq

More than 1,000 foreign Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists have entered Syria via Iraq, the pro-opposition Syrian Opposition for Human Rights claimed on Thursday.

According to the report released by the pro-opposition group, the 1,000+ ISIS terrorists came from several countries in central Asia, including Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan.

The terrorists entered the Deir Ezzor Governorate via Albukamal, which is the last crossing for the terrorist group between Iraq and Syria.

The SOHR report also claimed that more than 500 Islamic State terrorists had been killed in Syria over the past two weeks – this cannot be confirmed by Al-Masdar.

Posted in Iraq, SyriaComments Off on More than 1,000 Foreign ISIS Terrorists Enter Syria via Iraq

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