Tag Archives: Iran

Conversation: ‘China V-Day parade sending multiple messages to Asia and West’ – Pepe Escobar

Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times, an analyst for RT and Sputnik, and a Sputnik regular. His latest book is Empire of Chaos. Follow him on Facebook by clicking here.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.

 

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Lebanon – What if it Fell?, by Andre Vltchek

Source: Counterpunch

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Beirut is burning; it is hurt, angry and uncertain about its own future.

Ambulances are howling. Hundreds are injured. Rubber bullets are flying and so is live ammunition.

A Revolution? A rebellion?

Who are those men, stripped from their waist up, muscular, throwing stones at the security forces in the center of Beirut? Are they genuine revolutionaries? Are they there in order to reclaim so badly discredited “Arab Spring”?

Or did they come here in a show of force, because the West is paying them? If the Lebanese state collapses, ISIL could move in, and occupy at least a substantial part of Lebanon. That would suit the West’s interests, and those of Turkey, as well as the Gulf States.

Or Israel could take advantage of the vacuum, and invade Lebanon, once again. Or both ISIL and Israel.

[Please click below to continue reading] Continue reading Lebanon – What if it Fell?, by Andre Vltchek

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The world after the Washington/Teheran agreement, by Theirry Meyssan

Source: Voltaire Network

The cease-fire decreed between the United States and Iran redefines the conflicts in the Near East and moves the war towards the Black Sea. Even though it is yet too soon to predict the way in which the rivalry between Riyadh and Teheran will evolve, and also what will become of Turkey, it is already clear that we are moving towards peace in Yemen and Syria.

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The opposition between the United States and Iran, which had dominated Near-Eastern politics since the speech given by Imam Rouhollah Khomeiny at Teheran cemetery on the 1st February 1979, to the signature of the bilateral agreement with the government of Cheikh Hassan Rohani on the 14th July 2015, no longer exists. As from now, Washington and Teheran are both pusuing the interests of the same global ruling class.

At the time, President Jimmy Carter and his National Security Council advisor Zbigniew Brzeziński had to deal with the desertion of Iran, which, until then, had been Washington’s «local police force ». They reacted first by soliciting the Saudis for help in countering the Imam’s revolutionary, anti-imperialist message – this signalled the beginning of the Wahhabisation of world Islam – then by deciding to control the Near Eastern reserve of hydrocarbons.

During his « State of the Union » speech of the 23rd January 1980, Jimmy Carter declared – « Let our position be absolutely clear – any attempt by a foreign power to take control of the Persian Gulf region will be considered as an attack on the vital interests of the United States of America, and any such attack will be resisted by all necessary means, including military force. »

With this objective, the Pentagon organised a regional command for its army, the Central Command (CentCom), whose zone of competence included all the states in the region with the exception of Israel and Turkey.

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Continue reading The world after the Washington/Teheran agreement, by Theirry Meyssan

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ISIS in Afghanistan: Proxy War against Iran and China, by Eric Draitser

Source: New Eastern Outlook

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The nature of the war in Afghanistan has shifted dramatically in recent months. While the US and NATO continue to be actively involved in the country – their strategic objectives having changed very little since the Bush administration launched the war nearly a decade and a half ago – the complexion of the battlefield, and the parties actively engaged in the war, has changed significantly.

The emergence of ISIS in Afghanistan, along with the impending withdrawal of US-NATO troops from the country, has driven the Taliban into a marriage of convenience, if not an outright alliance, with Iran. What seemed like an unfathomable scenario just a few years ago, Shia Iran’s support for the hardline Sunni Taliban has become a reality due to the changing circumstances of the war. Though it may be hard to believe, such an alliance is now a critical element of the situation on the ground in Afghanistan. But its significance is far larger than just shifting the balance of power within the country.

Instead, Afghanistan is now in many ways a proxy conflict between the US and its western and Gulf allies on the one hand, and Iran and certain non-western countries, most notably China, on the other. If the contours of the conflict might not be immediately apparent, that is only because the western media, and all the alleged brainiacs of the corporate think tanks, have failed to present the conflict in its true context. The narrative of Afghanistan, to the extent that it’s discussed at all, continues to be about terrorism and stability, nation-building and “support.” But this is a fundamental misunderstanding and mischaracterization of the current war, and the agenda driving it.

[Please click below to continue reading] Continue reading ISIS in Afghanistan: Proxy War against Iran and China, by Eric Draitser

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UNTOLD SUFFERING IN FOUA AND KAFARYA: TWO NORTHWESTERN SYRIAN VILLAGES UNDER SIEGE AND ASSAULT BY NATO’S TERRORISTS

-by Eva Bartlett

Source: In Gaza

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Rimas Al-Nayef, killed by terrorist shelling of Foua village on August 10, 2015

Part One of Two

Infant Rimas Al-Nayef was one of at least 5 children killed by NATO-backed terrorists’ shelling on August 10, 2015 in the northwestern Syrian village of Foua. Another 25 residents were killed by the up to 1,500 rockets and mortars which Jebhat al-Nusra (al-Qaeda in Syria) and other terrorist factions rained down on Foua and neighbouring Kafarya village, just north of Idlib. Scores more were injured on that day alone. Yet, scarcely a peep in the corporate media, as massacres committed by western-backed “moderates” do not merit media coverage, do not suit the war agenda.

The attack was waged by a number of different factions, primarily al-Nusra, Jaysh al-Fattah (the so-called “Army of Conquest”), and Ahrar al-Sham (Liberation of the Levant Movement) along with other “moderates” of the umbrella organization Jabhat al-Islamiyah (the Islamic Front).

Crescent International reported: “The barrage of rockets has intensified; Western, Saudi and Turkish-supplied 500 kg rockets are fired at the villages accompanied by incursions with the clear aim to capture them.”

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The villages, less than 10 km northeast of Idlib, had already been suffering an over 4 year long siege by al-Nusra and affiliates.

Until late March, residents—although surrounded by militant factions—still had an access road, thus supplies for their survival. With the militants’ occupation of Idlib at the end of March, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) had to withdraw forces from bases in the province. Foua and Kafarya became utterly isolated.

[Please click below to continue reading] Continue reading UNTOLD SUFFERING IN FOUA AND KAFARYA: TWO NORTHWESTERN SYRIAN VILLAGES UNDER SIEGE AND ASSAULT BY NATO’S TERRORISTS

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Clinton, Juppé, Erdoğan, Daesh and the PKK, by Thierry Meyssan

Source: Voltaire Network

The resumption of the repression of Kurds in Turkey is nothing more than a consequence of the impossible task of implementing the Juppé-Wright plan of 2011. While it was easy to deploy Daesh in the Syrian desert and the provinces of Niniveh and d’al-Anbar (Iraq), which are mostly Sunnite, it proved to be impossible to take control of the Kurdish populations of Syria. In order to realise his dream of a Kurdistan outside of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has no other choice but civil war.

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Published in 2013, the Wright plan is based on the Juppé plan for Libya, Syria and Iraq. However, Robin Wright goes further by including projects for Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
Published in 2013, the Wright plan is based on the Juppé plan for Libya, Syria and Iraq. However, Robin Wright goes further by including projects for Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

When they took power in Ankara in 2003, the Islamist party AKP modified Turkey’s strategic priorities. Rather than using reports on the post-« Desert Storm » balance of power, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan harboured the ambition of freeing his country from the isolation it has known since the end of the Ottoman Empire. Based on analyses provided by his advisor, Professor Ahmet Davutoğlu, he advocated solving century-old problems with Turkey’s neighbours, and becoming progressively the inevitable regional mediator. In order to do so, Turkey had to become a political model and build relations with his Arab partners, without losing its alliance with Israël.

This policy, known as « zero problem », began sucessfully at first.Ankara no longer feared Damascus and its support for the PKK, and also asked Syria for help in negotiating an exit. In October 2006, the Kurdish party declared a unilateral truce and began negotiations with the Erdoğan government. In May 2008, Ankara organised indirect negotiations between Damascus and Tel-Aviv, the first talks since Ehud Barack’s rejection of the Bill Clinton / Hafez el-Assad plan. But President Bachar el-Assad withdrew from the discussions after Israël attacked Gaza in December 2009.

Realising that because of the Palestinian conflict, it was impossible to maintain good relations with all the states in the region, Ankara chose to support the Palestinians against Israël. This was the period of the Davos and Freedom Flotilla episodes. Backed by vast popular support in the Muslim world, Ankara approached Teheran and accepted, in November 2010, to participate in a Turkey-Iran-Iraq-Syria common market. Visas were repealed ; the rights of the Customs were considerably reduced ; a consortium was created to manage the oil and gas pipe-lines ; an authority was created to enable the management of water ressources. The overall structure looked so inviting that Lebanon and Jordan presented their candidacy. Sustainable peace seemed possible for the Levant.

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Continue reading Clinton, Juppé, Erdoğan, Daesh and the PKK, by Thierry Meyssan

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Reshuffling Eurasia’s energy deck — Iran, China and Pipelineistan, by Pepe Escobar

Source: Asia Times

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Workers in Kazakhstan complete a section of a pan-Central Asian gas pipeline

Pipelineistan – the prime Eurasian energy chessboard — never sleeps. Recently, it’s Russia that has scored big on all fronts; two monster gas deals sealed with China last year; the launch of Turk Stream replacing South Stream; and the doubling of Nord Stream to Germany.

Now, with the possibility of sanctions on Iran finally vanishing by late 2015/early 2016, all elements will be in place for the revival of one of Pipelineistan’s most spectacular soap operas, which I have beenfollowing for years; the competition between the IP (Iran-Pakistan) and TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) gas pipelines.

The $7.5-billion IP had hit a wall for years now – a casualty of hardcore geopolitical power play. IP was initially IPI – connected to India; both India and Pakistan badly need Iranian energy. And yet relentless pressure from successive Bush and Obama administrations scared India out of the project. And then sanctions stalled it for good.

Now, Pakistan’s Minister of Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi swears IP is a go. The Iranian stretch of the 1,800-kilometer pipeline has already been built. IP originates in the massive South Pars gas fields – the largest in the world – and ends in the Pakistani city of Nawabshah, close to Karachi. The geopolitical significance of this steel umbilical cord linking Iran and Pakistan couldn’t be more graphic.

[Please click below to continue reading] Continue reading Reshuffling Eurasia’s energy deck — Iran, China and Pipelineistan, by Pepe Escobar

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The Seeds of Eurasia; A vision manifests, by Pepe Escobar

Source: TomDispatch

This is by far one of the most significant deals of our fledgling century, a world of possibilities lies ahead. The importance of what Pepe Escobar is covering here is eloquently put into frame by Tom’s excellent introduction to Pepe’s piece.

Pepe’s “Eurasian Big Bang” has all the potential to set things in motion that the very Masters of the Universe may not be able to stop. And that is what makes this the seed of actions to come for the next generations.

What Pepe is really telling us is that the vision China is showing the world is not only unparalleled (How can casino capitalism compete with vision?!) but so mesmerizing that all the beltway can do now is huff and puff as the caravan passes by.

“The purpose of meditation is to look at something deeply and see its roots”, (Thich Nhat Hanh)

Pepe does just that, sit back, make a cup of tea and enjoy this one.

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The Eurasian Big Bang 
How China and Russia Are Running Rings Around Washington
By Pepe Escobar

Let’s start with the geopolitical Big Bang you know nothing about, the one that occurred just two weeks ago. Here are its results: from now on, any possible future attack on Iran threatened by the Pentagon (in conjunction with NATO) would essentially be an assault on the planning of an interlocking set of organizations — the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization), the EEU (Eurasian Economic Union), the AIIB (the new Chinese-founded Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank), and the NDB (the BRICS’ New Development Bank) — whose acronyms you’re unlikely to recognize either.  Still, they represent an emerging new order in Eurasia.

Tehran, Beijing, Moscow, Islamabad, and New Delhi have been actively establishing interlocking security guarantees. They have been simultaneously calling the Atlanticist bluff when it comes to the endless drumbeat of attention given to the flimsy meme of Iran’s “nuclear weapons program.”  And a few days before the Vienna nuclear negotiations finally culminated in an agreement, all of this came together at a twin BRICS/SCO summit in Ufa, Russia — a place you’ve undoubtedly never heard of and a meeting that got next to no attention in the U.S.  And yet sooner or later, these developments will ensure that the War Party in Washington and assorted neocons (as well as neoliberalcons) already breathing hard over the Iran deal will sweat bullets as their narratives about how the world works crumble.[Please click below to continue reading]

Continue reading The Seeds of Eurasia; A vision manifests, by Pepe Escobar

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The Geopolitics & Economics of the Iran Nuclear Deal, by Eric Draitser

Source: New Eastern Outlook

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The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreed to in Vienna by the P5+1 countries and Iran is clearly a landmark agreement, one which will significantly alter the political and economic balance of power in the Middle East, as well as the global strategic picture. However, amidst the chorus of celebration from many capitals around the world, and condemnations from Israel, some of the Gulf states, and certain segments in Iran, much of the geopolitical significance of the agreement has been overlooked.

From this perspective, the deal is more than simply a new chapter in Iran’s relations with the West and the world at large; it is the agreement by which Iran will transform itself from a potentially powerful, though politically and economically isolated country, to an emerging regional power that will become a linchpin of the strategies of both the western and non-western worlds. Of course, this potential benefit came at the cost of major concessions from Tehran, concessions which are in many ways difficult to justify, especially within the context of Iranian domestic politics where issues of national pride have a very real political currency and cannot necessarily be measured in rials, euros, and dollars.

However, an analysis of the impact of the deal cannot simply be relegated to what is in Iran’s immediate interests, nor those of the P5+1 countries, but rather must take into account the long-term strategic imperatives of each. Moreover, the emerging non-western alliance of BRICS, Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), New Silk Road, and Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) broadly speaking, factor significantly into this deal. So too does Turkey, both an important trading partner for Iran, but also a political adversary.

Seen in this way, the agreement reached in Vienna is a watershed in early 21st Century geopolitics and economic development, one which will have vast implications for years, and perhaps decades, to come.

[Please click below to continue reading] Continue reading The Geopolitics & Economics of the Iran Nuclear Deal, by Eric Draitser

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Historic Iran nuke deal resets Eurasia’s ‘Great Game’, by Pepe Escobar

Source: Asia Times

This is it. It is indeed historic. And diplomacy eventually wins. In terms of the New Great Game in Eurasia, and the ongoing tectonic shifts reorganizing Eurasia, this is huge: Iran — supported by Russia and China — has finally, successfully, called the long, winding 12-year-long Atlanticist bluff on its “nuclear weapons.”

And this only happened because the Obama administration needed 1) a lone foreign policy success, and 2) a go at trying to influence at least laterally the onset of the new Eurasia-centered geopolitical order.

So here it is – the 159-page, as detailed as possible, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA); the actual P5+1/Iran nuclear deal. As Iranian diplomats have stressed, the JCPOA will be presented to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), which will then adopt a resolution within 7 to 10 days making it an official international document.

Foreign ministers pose for a group picture at UN building in Vienna
Foreign ministers pose for a group picture at UN building in Vienna

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has described the deal — significantly — as a very Chinese “win-win” solution. But not perfect; “I believe this is a historic moment. We are reaching an agreement that is not perfect for anybody but is what we could accomplish. Today could have been the end of hope, but now we are starting a new chapter of hope.”

Zarif also had to stress — correctly — this was a long-sought solution for an “unnecessary crisis”; the politicization — essentially by the US — of a scientific, technical dossier.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Steinmeier, for his part, was euphoric; “A historic day! We leave 35 years of speechlessness + more than 12 years of a dangerous conflict behind us.”

Looking ahead, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tweeted now there can be “a focus on shared challenges” – referring to the real fight that NATO, and Iran, should pursue together; against the fake Caliphate of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, whose ideological matrix is intolerant Wahhabism and whose attacks are directed against both Shi’ites and westerners.

Right on cue, Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed the deal will contribute to fighting terrorism in the Middle East, not to mention “assisting in strengthening global and regional security, global nuclear non-proliferation” and — perhaps wishful thinking? — “the creation in the Middle East of a zone free from weapons of mass destruction.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed the deal “fully corresponds” with Russia’s negotiating points. The fact is no deal would have been possible without extensive Russian involvement — and the Obama administration knows it (but cannot admit it publicly).

The real problem started when Lavrov added that Moscow expects the cancellation of Washington’s missile defense plans, after the Iran deal proves that Tehran is not, and won’t be, a nuclear “threat.”

There’s the rub. The Pentagon simply won’t cancel an essential part of its Full Spectrum Dominance military doctrine simply because of mere “diplomacy.” Every security analyst not blinded by ideology knows that missile defense was never about Iran, but about Russia. The Pentagon’s new military review still states — not by accident — major Eurasian players Iran, China and Russia as “threats” to U.S. national security.

Now from the brighter side on Iran-Russia relations. Trade is bound to increase, especially in nanotechnology, machinery parts and agriculture. And on the all-pervasive energy front, Iran will indeed compete with Russia in major markets such as Turkey and soon Western Europe, but there’s plenty of leeway for Gazprom and the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) to coordinate their market share. NIOC executive Mohsen Qamsari advances that Iran will prioritize exporting to Asia, and will try to regain the at least 42% of the European market share that it had before sanctions.

Compared to so many uplifting perspectives, Washington’s reaction was quite pedestrian. US President Barack Obama preferred to stress — correctly — that every pathway to an Iranian nuclear weapon has been cut off. And he vowed to veto any legislation in the US Congress that blocks the deal. When I was in Vienna last week I had surefire confirmation — from a European source — that the Obama administration feels confident it has the votes it needs in Capitol Hill.

And what about all that oil?

Tariq Rauf, former Head of Verification and Security Policy at the IAEA and currently Director of the Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Program at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), hailed the deal as “the most significant multilateral nuclear agreement in two decades – the last such agreement was the 1996 nuclear test ban treaty.” Rauf even advanced that the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize should go to US Secretary of State Jon Kerry and Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif.

Rebuilding trust between the US and Iran, though, will be a long and winding road.

Tehran agreed to a 15-year moratorium on enriching uranium beyond 3.67 percent; this means it has agreed to reduce its enrichment capacity by two-thirds. Only Natanz will conduct enrichment; and Fordo, additionally, won’t store fissile material.

Iran agreed to store no more than 300 kg of low-enriched uranium — a 96% reduction compared to current levels. The Arak reactor will be reconfigured, and won’t be used to produce plutonium. The spent fuel will be handled by an international team.

The IAEA and Iran signed a roadmap in Tehran also this Tuesday; that was already decided last week in Vienna. By December 15, all past and present outstanding issues — that amount to 12 items — should be clarified, and the IAEA will deliver a final assessment. IAEA access to the Parchin military site — always a very contentious issue — is part of a separate arrangement.

One of the major sticking points these last few days in Vienna was solved — with Tehran allowing UN inspectors to visit virtually any site. But it may object to a particular visit. A Joint Commission — the P5+1 + Iran — will be able to override any objections with a simple majority vote. After that Iran has three days to comply — in case it loses the vote. There won’t be American inspectors — shades of the run-up towards the war on Iraq; only from countries with diplomatic relations with Iran.

So implementation of the deal will take at least the next five months. Sanctions will be lifted only by early 2016.

What’s certain is that Iran will become a magnet for foreign investment. Major western and Asian multinationals are already positioned to start cracking this practically virgin market with over 70 million people, including a very well educated middle class. There will be a boom in sectors such as consumer electronics, the auto industry and hospitality and leisure.

And then there’s, once again, oil. Iran has as much as a whopping 50 million barrels of oil stored at sea — and that’s about ready to hit the global market. The purchaser of choice will be, inevitably, China — as the West remains mired in recession. Iran’s first order of work is to regain lost market share to Persian Gulf producers. Yet the trend is for oil prices to go down – so Iran cannot count on much profit in the short to medium term.

Now for a real war on terror?

The conventional arms embargo on Iran essentially stays, for five years. That’s absurd, compared to Israel and the House of Saud arming themselves to their teeth.

Last May the US Congress approved a $1.9 billion arms sale to Israel. That includes 50 BLU-113 bunker-buster bombs — to do what? Bomb Natanz? — and 3,000 Hellfire missiles. As for Saudi Arabia, according to SIPRI, the House of Saud spent a whopping $80 billion on weapons last year; more than nuclear powers France or Britain. The House of Saud is waging an — illegal — war on Yemen.

Qatar is not far behind. It clinched an $11 billion deal to buy Apache helicopters and Javelin and Patriot air defense systems, and is bound to buy loads of F-15 fighters.

Trita Parsi, president of the National American-Iranian Council, went straight to the point; “Saudi Arabia spends 13 times more money on its defense than Iran does. But somehow Iran, and not Saudi Arabia, is seen by the US as the potential aggressor.”

So, whatever happens, expect tough days ahead. Two weeks ago, Foreign Minister Zarif told a small group of independent journalists in Vienna, including this correspondent, that the negotiations would be a success because the US and Iran had agreed on “no humiliation of one another.” He stressed he paid “a high domestic price for not blaming the Americans,” and he praised Kerry as “a reasonable man.” But he was wary of the US establishment, which to a great extent, according to his best information, was dead set against the lifting of sanctions.

Zarif also praised the Russian idea that after a deal, it will be time to form a real counter-terrorism coalition, featuring Americans, Iranians, Russians, Chinese and Europeans — even as Putin and Obama had agreed to work together on “regional issues.” And Iranian diplomacy was giving signs that the Obama administration had finally understood that the alternative to Assad in Syria was ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, not the “Free” Syrian Army.

That degree of collaboration, post-Wall of Mistrust, remains to be seen. Then it will be possible to clearly evaluate whether the Obama administration has made a major strategic decision, and whether “normalizing” its relation with Iran involves much more than meets the eye.

(Copyright 2015 Asia Times Holdings Limited, a duly registered Hong Kong company. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times, an analyst for RT and Sputnik, and a Sputnik regular. His latest book is Empire of Chaos. Follow him on Facebook by clicking here.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.

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