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Thursday, February 20, 2020

Interstate competition swallows Bolsonaro´s Government

February 18, 2020

Fabio Reis Vianna for The Saker Blog
When U.S. President Donald Trump announced on December 2 the taxation of Brazilian and Argentine steel, restoring the immediate effect of the “tariffs on all steel and aluminum sent to the United States by these countries,” the amateur members of Bolsonaro´s government were unable to hide their disbelief in their faces of disappointment.
Even with reality falling on their heads, the blindness of the upper echelons of the government regarding the current geopolitical moment is so great that the only character who has perhaps given any hint of understanding was Vice President General Hamilton Mourão, by drawing a parallel between what happened and what, according to his words, he would say about a “characteristic of this geopolitical tension that we are experiencing, which generates protectionism (and) is an anti-cyclical movement in relation to globalization.
Even if his words make sense, what seems to escape the understanding of the vice-president of the Republic and the members of the current government as a whole is the deepest reality of the multipolar world that has been gradually unveiling itself since the beginning of the new century and that, according to the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro(UFRJ) professor José Luís Fiori, intensified between the years 2012 and 2013 with the election of Vladimir Putin and the arrival to power of Xi Jinping.
It should be noted, however, that this multipolar world misunderstood by the strategists of the current Brazilian government (if they exist…), is in no way accepted by the current hegemonic power.
The comfortable hegemony in a unipolar world, conquered by the United States since the collapse of the Soviet Union, is now challenged by new actors that, as a consequence, tension and intensify interstate competition.
Demonstrating the total mismatch of the current Brazilian government with the reality of the international system at the beginning of the 21st century, the reaction of members of the team of the Minister of Economy, Paulo Guedes, to Trump’s words is symptomatic.
In the words of one of Guedes’ assistants, “Trump has always been clear in saying that Brazil is very closed. You need something like: ‘Brazil has come up with a better plan for American companies, so I’m going to go back on the decision to raise the rates’”.
In the logic, at the very least, naive of Mr. Guedes’ team, it would therefore suffice to present the US authorities with a well-developed plan for trade opening, and then Trump would retreat.
The concrete fact is that the Brazilian government seems lost and without understanding the new configuration of the multipolar world order, not being aware of the depth of the fierce interstate competition between what, in the words of Professor Fiori, would be “the three great powers fighting for global power at the beginning of the 21st century.
The last meeting of Brics, held in Brasilia in November, was symptomatic of the unpreparedness of the Brazilian authorities in dealing with the current scenario of global dispute.
Symptomatic and worrying, because the events that permeated that summit and the reaction (or non-reaction) of guest presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin to those events demonstrated the subtlety and care with which Russia and China sought to place themselves in this “minefield” that is South America today. A territory so complex and essential to their expansionist interests.
Just three days before the Brics meeting began on Nov. 10, a coup d’état took place in Bolivia, one of the few countries in the region that still had a strategic relationship with the Eurasian axis, and especially Russia, which had planned with former ousted president Evo Morales the construction of a sophisticated nuclear plant in the Bolivian altiplano, as well as plans for lithium exploration and the development of local agriculture. The documents relating to the ambitious projects had been signed in July when Morales made a diplomatic visit to Moscow.
This could be mere coincidence, if the release of former President Lula had not occurred just two days earlier, on November 8.
In addition to being the biggest opponent of Jair Bolsonaro’s far-right government, Lula is directly responsible for the creation and success of Brics and the strengthening of relations among South American nations.
In short, former President Lula, besides remaining very popular among the less favored classes in Brazil, which automatically turns him into a threat, was directly responsible for raising the country to the status of a global player beyond its region and at the same time for articulating, from Brics, a more consistent entry of the Eurasian powers in the South American scenario.
On 13 November, the official opening of the Brics summit took place in the presence of Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Narendra Modi and Cyril Ramaphosa, who were received at the Itamaraty Palace by President Bolsonaro.
On the morning of that same day, November 13, the Venezuelan embassy in Brasilia would be invaded by a group linked to self-proclaimed President Juan Guaidó. This would somehow overshadow the beginning of the Brics summit.
In Brazil, some more hasty analysts even suggested that that invasion would have the tentacles of fundamentalist sectors of Bolsonaro´s government installed in the Brazilian chancellery, headed by the unbelievable Minister Ernesto Araújo.
However, when connecting the dots, we could suppose that there would be some connection between the events that occurred during that hectic month of November, even if this connection does not necessarily follow a linear logic or if the absence of one of the events annulled the occurrence of another.
From the perspective of the dispute for global power between competing states – which often takes off from economic logic itself – the events of November would make sense if looked at in a systemic way.
The new national security strategy of the United States – announced on December 18, 2017 – would make official what had been happening in practice since the emerging Russia, China, India and even Lula’s Brazil began the expansionist onslaughts in Africa and Latin America, and intensified when Russia, in an unprecedented show of force, decided in 2015 to intervene in Syria, defining the course of the war. For the United States it was necessary to put a brake on that. Whatever the cost.
Therefore, both the “classic” and undisguised military coup in Bolivia, the invasion of the Venezuelan embassy and even Trump’s announcement of steel taxation would be a message and would have the same subliminal message: either you move away from our opponents and align yourselves with our strategy or you will suffer the consequences.
Brazil is now at a serious historical crossroads. One of the most delicate issues in the current scenario is the technological warfare (disguised as a trade war) involving the Chinese giant Huawei.
The most visible representation of the advancement of competition in what could be called the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the dispute over 5G technology has become one of the spearheads of the expansive forces that clash as power and influence disputes in the world system intensify.
After having already missed the opportunity to participate in important markets such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Taiwan, which closed their doors due to restrictions imposed by the Americans, the auction for the introduction of 5G technology in Brazil, originally scheduled for the year 2020, would be a golden opportunity for the Chinese to put into practice, and in a large and important market, all their know-how for the construction of a vast network of fifth generation mobile Internet.
As the Chinese Ambassador to Brazil, Yang Wanming, rightly said last November: “I am confident in the sense of cooperation between China and Brazil in 5G technology. Brazil will take into account the interest in the country’s development”.
The Chinese rationality expressed in Ambassador Wanming’s words would fit perfectly if we were living in a period of normality in international relations; but we are not, and the technological war that has the 5G prominence race as its backdrop hides the challenging moment of transition between long cycles of international politics. This is a moment in which the world power, no longer fully capable of exercising leadership in the world political system, finds itself challenged by one or more emerging powers.
This has been the case since when, around 1560, the hegemonic power of the time, Portugal, was challenged by Spain, who then took the lead in the newborn world system, to be challenged by the Netherlands and so on until the present day.
In the midst of the tug-of-war between the Chinese and Americans, Brazil will have no choice but to invent a good technical excuse and postpone the 5G auction until, probably, 2021. The National Agency of Telecommunications (Anatel) has already been rehearsing the postponement by claiming that the 5G network would interfere with the signal of open TV in rural areas, because the transmission is made by satellite dish.
In the end, the pressure that the brazilian government is probably suffering behind the scenes from the Trump administration makes us feel that the announcement of the taxing of brazilian steel via Twitter would have a retaliatory bias with regard specifically to the 5G issue. This possibility is even admitted by the unsuspected brazilian economist linked to the financial market André Perfeito.
The fact is that the Brics meeting revealed a much more docile and receptive Bolsonaro to the presence of Eurasian powers than one could have imagined. Facing a serious recession, the brazilian government had no choice but to take advantage of that moment to seek investments from Brics’ partners.
As old and experienced players on the global board, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping were able to position their pawns strategically from their arrival in Brasilia until the last minute on Brazilian soil.
Even with the not friendly invasion of the Venezuelan embassy (a strategic ally of Russia and China) on the day they would be received by Bolsonaro at the Itamaraty Palace, the not at all naive Eurasian heads of state skillfully did not comment on what had happened and tried to reconcile, throughout the summit, the convergent positions among all the partners.
The clear attempt to sabotage the meeting, in the end, only served to highlight the extreme care with which Xi and Putin sewed the treaties, trying to avoid displeasing Bolsonaro on delicate issues such as the Venezuelan issue – which he did until they accepted that the traditional parallel meeting with countries in the region would not occur.
This posture is in line with what Professor Alexander Zhebit of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) said about a fundamental characteristic of Brics since its creation. According to Zhebit, the elements of agreement would be essential for the maintenance of the internal harmony of the group. In this way, the differences would be smoothed out by the constant negotiation of common points.
Not by chance, in the final declaration of the meeting, besides the fact that the Venezuelan question was not touched, any mention of support for Iran (also a strategic Sino-Russian ally in the Eurasian context) was even avoided.
China and Russia are fully aware of the role of subservience to the United States that the Bolsonaro´s Government plays and, as good old players, have the wisdom to understand the relationship with Brazil as a long-term one.
Old countries know that diplomacy and patience live together, and in a way – as researcher Oliver Stuenkel rightly said – Xi and Putin, strategically, know that the more isolated Brazil is on the international scene, the more important they will be.
Fabio Reis Vianna, lives in Rio de Janeiro, is a bachelor of laws ( LL.B), writer and geopolitical analyst. He is currently a columnist in international politics for the printed version of the centennial brazilian newspaper Monitor Mercantil

Sitrep – Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua

February 19, 2020

Chris Faure for The Saker Blog
While the Mena is exploding in tensions, the Empire is hungry and is not leaving these countries in Latin America any breathing room. Although it can be argued that the circumstances are different in each, there are certain commonalities that can be pointed out.
The Trump administration warned early in February of “impactful” measures on the government of Venezuela
First was a blanket set of sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned airline CONVIASA. Why, you may ask? Well according to the administration, this airline is used to “shuttle corrupt officials.” We see the ‘rules based international order’ at work, as there is no evidence of corruption, but these days it seems as if one fights US sanctions, you must be corrupt. The rule of evidence for corruption now is resisting imperial sanctions. CONVIASA operates flight services to domestic destinations and throughout South America and the Caribbean.
The other notable event was that Guiadó went home to Venezuela on TAP, a Portugese airline, only to be ‘warmly welcomed’ by screaming Venezuelans beating him up. The Venezuelan Government suspended for 90 days the Portuguese airline, over what is formally declared as “some irregularities detected in Juan Guaido´s returning flight. The self-proclaimed ‘president’ returned to Venezuela after a tour of Europe and the United States on a TAP flight under a different identification, as Antonio Márquez, and his uncle was on the same flight, smuggling explosives.  Name change or no name change, he was still beaten up by Venezuelans.
Some good news is that the US Government’s case against the Venezuelan embassy protectors ended up in a hung jury, and the four protectors were not jailed. This was another failure in the open coup attempt on Venezuela.
The latest is that the US is placing more sanctions on Russia’s Rosneft Trading in relation to their quest for what they call “the opportunity for a transition of power” which the rest of us understand as color revolution and extraction of assets from a country working hard at their own sovereignty.
“Russia categorically repudiates unilateral restrictions, through which the US, which seeks global hegemony, is trying to make the whole world bend to its will. This has never influenced and will not influence Russia’s international policy, including its cooperation with the legitimate authorities of Venezuela, Syria, Iran and any other country,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
In Nica, as the locals call it, the startup to regime change has commenced. The Grayzone reports that the US embassy and European Union are meeting with right-wing Nicaraguan opposition leaders and pressuring them to unite against elected leftist President Daniel Ortega in the lead-up to the 2021 election.
Sanctions are rolling in and this one is similar to what we saw in Brazil, and now in Bolivia, where the rightist evangelicals (usually Christian Zionist) are being used as the pressure point aiming to unseat the Sandinistas.
Nicaragua, according to the Empire under the guise of the Donald Trump administration has declared the small nation of Nicaragua to be a supposed “national security threat,” and has imposed several rounds of aggressive sanctions on the country, with the aim of destabilizing its economy.
After the contested election and a coup d’état that saw Evo Morales being expelled as President as well as having to flee from his beloved country, snap general elections will be held in Bolivia on May 3rd, 2020.
The situation on the ground is still that of a coup d’état. The indigenous Bolivian population which Evo Morales brought into the light and gave opportunity to flourish economically, is under stress, pressure and still being murdered as we speak.
Few people know that as in Venezuela, we are dealing with another Western backed self-elected interim president in Bolivia – Jeanine Añez. On declaring herself interim president, she also undertook not to run for the position in forthcoming elections. That undertaking did not last long though and she is a candidate now.
As in Nicaragua, we are also dealing with rightist evangelicals being used for political power. “Evangelical preacher Chi Hyun Chung exposed this corruption after he placed third in the last election but didn’t make it onto the ballot. Chung reported that these groups were asking for payments of between one million and 1.5 million U.S. Dollars for the right to use their names. He called on electoral authorities to intervene to end the practice.”
But was this a Western backed coup and how do we know that it was? The easiest to see, is who the golpistas immediately made friends with.
Ollie Vargas states : “The Anez administration’s ties to the U.S. are openly admitted. Evident in the dramatic speed with which Morales’ progressive foreign policy was torn up. Full relations were re-established with the U.S. and Israel and USAID was brought in to ‘cooperate’ in the elections and other government functions. However, less known are Anez’s hiring choices. One of the first advisors to be brought in to her inner circle was Erick Foronda, who was chief advisor to the U.S. embassy in Bolivia for 25 years prior to taking on the role with Añez.
The cooperation continues as the electoral campaign gets underway. Following the footsteps of many Bolivian rightists, Añez is now contracting the services of CLS Strategies, a U.S. political consulting firm, to provide “strategic communications counsel” during the coming elections. CLS Strategies is the same firm used by the government in Honduras after that country’s coup against Manuel Zelaya.”

The golpistas are doing their best to ban any candidate from MAS. The MAS radio channels are being banned and the people are being scattered violently wherever they gather. Evo Morales is still a candidate and has declared his candidacy from Argentina, where he has safe harbor. But he is not running for President. The presidential front runner for MAS (Evo’s party, the biggest voting block in Bolivia and generally known as The Movement toward Socialism) is Luis Arce. He has just had a conference with Evo Morales in Argentina, to plan the election. It is generally accepted that even since Morales left, MAS still has the majority and will win a fair election. This is clearly not the era of fair elections and the lastest news in, is that MAS is declaring an emergency as both Evo Morales as well as Luis Arce will be banned from running, under some invented pretext by the electoral commission.  The real issue is, despite the coup or golpe in Bolivia, despite the exit of Evo Morales, MAS is still winning.
The golpistas have serious western support, and MAS is not standing down from their Movement toward Socialism. The police forces are brutal toward the indigenous, one has no idea what the defense forces are really doing and the expectation is that we will have another coup type event arise as tempers are hot.
In the cities, it feels as if the right is winning, yet in the indigenous rural areas, MAS has a clear lead. This is where it stands now and one has to keep in mind that the rural areas are not being polled thoroughly.  The rural areas are all MAS supporters as it is these people that received an economic opportunity under Evo Morales:


Summary : Now that we have seen the similarities between a coup starting in Nicaragua, the longer lasting meddling in Venezuela, and the similarities in the playbook for Bolivia, we can only go back to Harold Pinter’s Nobel Acceptance Speech for Literature, 2005.
“It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.
I put to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show on the road. Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be but it is also very clever. As a salesman it is out on its own and its most saleable commodity is self love. It’s a winner. Listen to all American presidents on television say the words, ‘the American people’, as in the sentence, ‘I say to the American people it is time to pray and to defend the rights of the American people and I ask the American people to trust their president in the action he is about to take on behalf of the American people.’ It’s a scintillating stratagem.”
“Language is actually employed to keep thought at bay. “

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عميلٌ يهدّد وطناً

منذ أن تمّ توقيف العميل عامر فاخوري (جزار الخيام) في أيلول من العام الماضي وواشنطن لم تنكفئ عن ممارسة ضغوطها لإطلاق سراحه وهو المتهم بالتعامل مع العدو «الإسرائيلي» والمتورّط في اعتقال وتعذيب المئات من المعتقلين في سجن الخيام وقتل وإخفاء العديد من الأسرى الذين ما زال مصيرهم مجهولاً حتى اليوم. سيناريو التدخل الأميركي السافر في قضية جزار الخيام بدأ من اليوم الأول لتوقيفه. ففي التاسع عشر من أيلول من العام الماضي وعلى مرأى من الأسرى وجميع من كانوا أمام المحكمة العسكرية حضرت ثلاث سيارات تحمل أرقام السفارة الأميركية إلى المحكمة العسكرية إضافة إلى حضور محام أميركي يتولى الدفاع عنه. لتتصاعد الضغوطات الأميركية بعدها من خلال إرسال المزيد من الموفدين للمطالبة بالإفراج عن العميل الفاخوري. ولم تكتف واشطن بذلك بل أوفدت ديبلوماسياً أميركياً يحمل الجنسية (الإسرائيلية) إلى سفارتها في بيروت ليشكل غرفة عمليات لمتابعة قضية جزار الخيام. أمر استدعى قطع الشكّ باليقين حول أهمية هذا العميل ومدى خطورته مما يجعلنا نتساءل لماذا كلّ هذا الاهتمام والمطالبة الأميركية على أعلى المستويات بهذا العميل؟
ولماذا كلّ هذا التخوّف الأميركي من سوقه إلى التحقيق وتقديمه للمحاكمة بتهمة التعامل مع الكيان الصهيوني؟ ولماذا ولماذا…؟ أسئلة نستنتج منها أنّ التهمة الموجهة للعميل الفاخوري بالتعامل مع العدو واعتقال مواطنين لبنانيين وتعذيبهم هي قضية لم تقلق الأميركيين، إنما ما يقلقهم هو انزلاق العميل الفاخوري في التحقيق بالاعتراف عن المهمات الجديدة التي أوكلت إليه بعد عودته إلى لبنان واستقباله استقبال (الأبطال) ولقائه ببعض المسؤولين الذين أنكروا معرفتهم به.
إذن هناك جريمة أكبر وأخطر يخفيها طفل واشنطن المدلّل وهي جريمة ربما تكون أكبر من قضية العمالة واعتقال أسرى وتعذيبهم، وما يؤكد ذلك تصعيد وتيرة التهديدات الأميركية للبنان فمنذ توقيف العميل الأغلى ثمناً عند ترامب نشطت الاتصالات الأميركية مع لبنان والتي تولاها وزير الخارجية الأميركي مايك بومبيو شخصياً حيث أجرى اتصالاته بعدد كبير من المسؤولين اللبنانيين بهدف الإفراج عن الفاخوري بأية وسيلة وإلا فإنّ عملية توقيفه ستؤدّي إلى مشكلة كبيرة بين الإدارة الأميركية ولبنان، ليعيد الكرة بعده وكيل وزارة الخارجية ديفيد هيل خلال زيارته للبنان العام الماضي مطالباً بالعفو عن العميل فاخوري وإطلاق سراحه. تهديدات ديبلوماسية لن يكون آخرها تهديد السيناتور عن الحزب الديمقراطي جين شاهين التي هدّدت لبنان بعقوبات قريبة في حال لم يتمّ الإفراج عن العميل الفاخوري، إضافة إلى تهديدها للحكومة اللبنانية مع وعيدها بمعاقبة من تسبّب بتوقيفه، تهديدات وضغوطات أميركية جوبهت برفض لبناني للانصياع للبيت الأبيض الذي لم ييأس من محاولاته بل حوّل قضية العميل الفاخوري إلى معركة يريد ترامب استغلالها انتخابياً لا سيما أنّ العميل الفاخوري يحمل الجنسية (الإسرائيلية) لذا فإنّ اهتمام ترامب شخصياً بالإفراج عن جزار الخيام وعدم السماح باستمرار توقيفه في لبنان بأيّ ثمن أمر يحمل بعدين… الأول انتخابي والبعد الثاني فهو أمني وهنا تكمن خطورة العميل عامر الفاخوري وما يخبّئ من معلومات ومهمات غير تلك الجرائم الموصوفة والتي تمّ توقيفه بسببها والتي لم يكشف عنها بسبب عدم التوسّع بالتحقيق معه بحجة (مرضه).
ومع استمرار الضغوط والتهديدات بقي الموقف اللبناني ثابتاً وصامداً بانتظار ما سيصدر عن القضاء في الأيام المقبلة، أما الموقف الأميركي فسيتصاعد اتجاه لبنان سواء تمّ الإفراج عن هذا العميل أو تمّت محاكمته ستستمرّ إدارة ترامب بحصارها للبنان وستزيد واشنطن عدد الأسماء على لائحتها السوداء ليس حباً بفاخوري بالرغم من خطورته وإخلاصه لأسياده بل لأنّ أميركا خرجت بنفسها لتقود المعركة ضدّ المقاومة في لبنان بعدما عجز الجميع عن النيل منها أو القضاء عليها، وما كلام السفيرة الأميركية خلال زيارة رئيس مجلس الشورى الإيراني علي لاريجاني للبنان وتحذيرها من قبول لبنان أية مساعدات إيرانية إضافة إلى إعادة تأكيدها على الإفراج عن العميل الفاخوري سوى تأكيد على الإصرار باستهداف لبنان بسيادته ومقاومته. إذن هي معركة كرامة ووجود للبنان وليس المقاومة فحسب، فكما خضنا معركة الكرامة وتحرير الأسير الشهيد سمير القنطار ورفاقه وانتصرنا سنواجه اليوم الشيطان الذي يريد أن يمسّ سيادتنا ومقاومتنا، وعلى قدر ما نكون ثابتين وصامدين سنخرج منتصرين.
*كاتب وإعلامي
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إلى حكومات العراق وسورية ولبنان

خلال أيام ستكون في العراق حكومة جديدة، ولدت تحت ظلال قرار برلماني بإنهاء الوجود الأميركي العسكري في العراق، وفي سورية حكومة تقع تحت عقوبات أميركية وأوروبية وحصار غربي شديد القسوة، وفي لبنان حكومة جديدة ولدت بمقاطعة من القوى الحليفة لحكومات الغرب والخليج، وتصلها كل يوم رسائل عنوانها عدم الاستعداد لإمدادها بالمال الذي تحتاجه لمواجهة خطر الانهيار المالي. والوضع الاقتصادي في كل من هذه الدول يعيش أسوأ أيامه، فهل فكرت الحكومات المعنية أو ستفكر في جذر الاختناق وعلاقته بتكريس واقع الفصل التعسفي بين جغرافياتها، لاعتبارات سياسية غير سيادية؟
ربما تكون الحكومة السورية الأشد استقلالاً، والأعلى إيماناً فكرياً وثقافياً بالتكامل بين الدول التي شكلت تاريخياً متحداً اقتصادياً واجتماعياً طبيعياً، لكنها ليست الأكثر مبادرة، وإن كان للانشغال بالعمل العسكري والأمني، أو لتقدير الحسابات الرماديّة للحكومات المتعاقبة على العراق ولبنان وتوقع عدم استعدادها لتلبية الدعوة لبحث المشتركات الاقتصادية، تفادياً لإغضاب بعض العرب والغرب، دورٌ في تفسير عدم المبادرة، فإن هذين العاملين إلى زوال، والأمر يحتاج إلى مبادرة، من سورية أو لبنان أو العراق، لكن النظرة لما يمكن تحقيقه بالعودة لحياة خلقها الله وكرّستها الطبيعة بين هذه الدول يشكل جواباً على أسئلة يبحث عنها المعنيون في غير مكان.
إذا بدأنا بحال العراق فسنكتشف ببساطة أن العراق يحتاج إلى أمرين عاجلين لا يحتملان التأجيل، يرتكزان على الحاجة لمنافذ بحرية على البحر المتوسط، حيث أغلب مبيعات النفط العراقي أي أغلب الصادرات العراقية، وحيث مصدر أغلب المستوردات العراقية، وحيث الدورة التجارية تمرّ من البصرة نحو مضيق هرمز وباب المندب وقناة السويس لتصل إلى المتوسط، فتستهلك وقتاً ومالاً يؤثران سلباً على الوضع الاقتصادي العراقي، بينما تستطيع موانئ بانياس وطرطوس وطرابلس وبيروت، إذا ربطت بخطوط سكك حديدية حديثة مع بغداد، وفعلت وطوّرت أنابيب النفط التي تربطها بمنابع النفط العراقية، أن تحقق للعراق وفراً مالياً يقدره الخبراء بخمسة مليارات دولار سنوياً، وعائدات إضافية، وتحسيناً لقطاعات الخدمات، وتوفيراً لسلع أرخص في الأسواق، إذا أضفنا ما سينتج على جانب هذه الدورة من إنتاج لمشتقات نفطية يستوردها العراق، ومن ربط حاجات العراقيين بخدمات مصرفية وصحية وتعليمية وسياحية ومنتجات صناعية وزراعية متاحة بدرجة عالية من الجودة بين دمشق وبيروت، ويعيق الإفادة منها غياب طرق النقل السريعة والآمنة والميسّرة.
إذا انتقلنا إلى سورية فسنجد حاجاتها للمشتقات النفطية مصدراً رئيسياً لأزمتها الاقتصادية وهي متاحة بإمداد مصافيها وتطويرها بالنفط العراقي الخام، لتأمين حاجات أسواقها، وحاجتها لإنتاج الكهرباء، وستعيد للعراق حاجته من المشتقات، ومالاً ناتجاً عن بيع نفطه الخام والمشتقات الفائضة من المصافي، وسنجد أن الساحل السوري سينتعش بفضل خط الترانزيت لحساب السوق العراقية بتشغيل وتفعيل مرفأي بانياس وطرطوس، وأن قطاعات الزراعة والصناعة من حلب إلى درعا والساحل والوسط ستجد ضالتها في السوق العراقية الضخمة، وأن المناطق السياحية في سورية ومدنها ومزاراتها الدينية وجامعاتها ومستشفياتها ستغصّ بالعراقيين؛ والمطلوب تفعيل شبكات نقل متعددة وميسّرة للركاب والبضائع والنفط والمشتقات، بما يشبه ما يفعله الصينيون في مشروع الحزام والطريق، الذي يشمل بلدان المتوسط، العراق وسورية ولبنان، والصين مهتمة بسورية وتربطها بها علاقة مميّزة، والصين وقعت مع العراق اتفاقيات بمئات مليارات الدولارات لمشاريع عملاقة يجب أن تتصدّرها مشاريع التشبيك العراقية مع سورية ولبنان، ومن بينها شبكات الربط الكهربائي أيضاً، خصوصاً أن إيران المتصلة عبر العراق بجغرافيا هذه الدول المتوسطية جزء من المشروع الصيني العملاق وعلاقاتها بالصين أكثر من مميّزة، ولديها فوائض في المشتقات النفطية، وفي إنتاج الكهرباء.
نصل إلى لبنان الواقف على رصيف الانتظار والتسوّل، بانتظار أن يرأف بحاله الغرب وبعض العرب، وهو كالبيد في الصحراء يقتلها الظمأ والماء فوق ظهرها محمولُ، فهل يدرك المعنيون في لبنان حجم التحوّل التاريخي الذي يترتب على هذا التشبيك الاقتصادي، ليس بتوفير العملات الصعبة التي تستنزف نصف موارد لبنان لتأمين المشتقات النفطية والكهرباء، فقط، بل بالحركة التي سيجلبها التشبيك بوسائل نقل سريعة لقطاع المصارف لحساب العراق، وللصناعة والاستشفاء والتعليم، والاستهلاك، والطبقة الوسطى وما دونها في العراق ستجعل من سورية وجهتها، والطبقة الوسطى وما فوق ستجعل من لبنان وجهة لها، هذا من دون أن نتحدث عن المنتوجات الزراعية. وقد قال لي صديق عراقي أن قطارا يربط بغداد ببيروت بثلاث ساعات، سيعني أن رجل الأعمال العراقي ينطلق في السابعة صباحاً من بغداد ليصل إلى مصرفه في بيروت في العاشرة ويعود في الرابعة من بيروت ليصل بغداد السابعة مساءً، وقد تناول الغداء الذي يحبّ في مطاعم بيروت، أو أمضى ليلته في فنادفها وقرّر التسوق والعودة في اليوم التالي، وختم الصديق ضاحكاً بالقول لا تنسوا إرسال خبزكم في القطارات يومها، لأنه مهما أرسلتم من كميات ستنفد عند محطة القطار، ليقول افتحوا أفراناً وسيتكفّل العراقيون باستهلاك الخبز.
لا جواب منطقي يقول إن هذه المعطيات غير واقعية، فقط الكلام في السياسة عن الانتظار، وانتظار ماذا لا نعلم، خصوصاً أنه المعيب أن نسمع بأن دورة الأوكسجين الذي ينتشلنا من الاختناق المحتم، لأننا ارتضينا أن نعيش في علب مغلقة ننتظر للخروج منها إذناً خارجياً، فهل تنتظر الاطمئنان بأن الغرب وبعض العرب لن يغضبوا، فلنتعظ مما فعله الفرنسيون يوم كانوا يحكموننا في لبنان وسورية، وقد قسمونا وأقاموا لنا جيشين ومجلسي نواب وحكومتين ورئيسين وأعدّوا لنا دستورين، لكنهم حافظوا لنا على مصرف مركزي واحد وليرة واحدة، وسواها من المصالح المشتركة التي أنشأوا لها مجلساً يحمل هذا الاسم “مجلس المصالح المشتركة”. تخيّلوا مثلا أن يتفق حكام المصارف المركزية في دولنا على تسعير أسبوعي للعملات الوطنية فيما بينها يتبعه قرار حكومي باعتماد هذه العملات في التداول بين أسواقنا وناسنا وبضائعنا وخدماتنا، ولنشكّل مجلساً للمصالح المشتركة بين لبنان وسورية والعراق يترأسه رؤساء الحكومات ويضمّ وزراء الطاقة والاقتصاد والمال وحكام المصارف المركزية ومعهم رؤساء غرف التجارة والصناعة والزراعة.
لمَ لا إذا كانت لنا إرادة وعندنا رؤية، ولم نتحدّث بعد عن عملية الإعمار في سورية ولا في العراق؟

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Wednesday, February 19, 2020


Syrians are in a desperate race to outrun the offensive of the brutal Assad regime. The ruthless government forces are aggressively destroying helpless mines and car bombs, treacherously restoring roads, schools and residential houses, cruelly launching road patrols, and (oh, the horror!) oppressing moderate oppositionists from al-Qaeda.
On February 18, the brutality of the regime reached a new peak with the reopening of Aleppo International Airport after the nine years of closure. According to reports, upcoming destinations for Aleppo will include Beirut, Dubai, Cairo, Moscow, and Erevan. The airlines that will be doing business with Aleppo Airport will be Syrian Arab Airways, Cham Wings, Iran Air, and the Russian national carrier, Aeroflot. Syria blatantly violated all fair-trade acts by excluding Turkish airlines from the project. In contrast to Aleppo operators, the Turkish companies had already proven themselves as safe and comfortable carriers of Idlib rebels that move to make money in Libya by fighting on behalf of Turkish-backed factions.
In northeastern Syria, regime forces once again blocked a US military patrol forcing it to turn back and thus undermining Mr. Trump’s democratic efforts to ‘secure’ Syrian oil for US companies and military contractors.
However, the wildest crimes are taken place in Greater Idlib, where the Syrians reject Turkish demands to withdraw from areas cowardly captured from al-Qaeda groups. The second round of the Turkish-Russian talks on the situation in Idlib ended on February 18 without any final statement. On the same day, the Syrian Air Force continued striking positions of Turkish protegees. Fortunately, a spokesman for the Turkish ruling party declared that Ankara had informed Moscow that it would attack Assad forces if it does not leave in peace al-Qaeda and withdraw from the captured areas. During the past weeks, Turkey concentrated thousands of troops and military equipment pieces in the area. So, there is at least one strong pillar of democracy in the Idlib question.
The US President already announced that he and Mr. Erdogan were “working together” on the Idlib plan to prevent a tragedy. “He doesn’t want people to be killed by the thousands, and hundreds of thousands,” Mr. Trump told media. Earlier, Mark Lowcock, the UN’s humanitarian affairs chief, said on Monday that “indiscriminate” violence in the region reached “a horrifying new level”. Idlib rebels can feel secure about the interests of their foreign backers. They are planning to sell Idlib groups at some useful price.

The Transnational Hezbollah Commander: Sayyed Abbas Mousawi

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“This resistance is our source of pride. It taught us everything. The resistance taught us that we can make strength out of our weakness,” said Sayyed Abbas Al-Mousawi, former Hezbollah Secretary General who was assassinated by Israeli occupation on February 16, 1992.
Sayyed Abbas was known for his resistance movement that knew no boundaries. Starting by Lebanon and Palestine, and not ending by Syria, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Sayyed Abbas considered Palestine as the primary cause of the Muslim nation. He saw the resistance as a transnational movement that can’t only operate in one battlefield.
Palestine Was the Spark
Sayyed Abbas AlMousawi
Inspired by a youth who was the first Lebanese to be martyred in a battle with Israeli occupation in 1968 in Jordan, Sayyed Abbas, who was 15 years old back then, went to Syria’s Zabadani to take part in a training camp established by Fatah Palestinian resistance movement.
The senior commander then decided to apply himself to Hawza studies. He affiliated with leading Lebanese Shia cleric Imam Sayyed Mousa Al-Sadr in the southern town of Tyre. After that, he joined Hawza of Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammad Baqer Al-Sadr in the holy city of Najaf. Sayyed Mohammad Baqer Al-Sadr was an influential Shia cleric, philosopher, political leader, and founder of the Daawa Party of Iraq.
Upon his arrival to Lebanon in 1978, when the Baathist regime expelled all non Iraqi clerics, Sayyed Abbas founded Al-Muntathar Hawza in Baalbeck. He believed that the role of this Hawza was not limited to the Shiite arena in Lebanon. In March 1978, the Israeli enemy launched an aggression on Lebanon in which it managed to occupy areas located to the south of Litani River. At time, Sayyed Abbas played pivotal role in mobilizing the Lebanese people for resistance.
Sayyed Abbas was highly inspired by the victory of the Islamic Revolution led by Imam Sayyed Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979. The revolution in Iran represented for the former Hezbollah S.G. a glimpse of hope in face of the US hegemony and Israeli oppression.
Establishing Hezbollah
Following the Israeli occupation of south Lebanon in June 1982, Sayyed Abbas returned to Lebanon from Tehran along with Sheikh Ragheb Harb, Lebanese cleric who was well-known for his anti-Israel stances and then was a senior Hezbollah commander. The two men worked at the end of that year on establishing the resistance movement, Hezbollah.
“The Islamic Resistance in south Lebanon. We called it Islamic because its ideology ad spirit is Islam. However, it is for all the oppressed people across the world,” Sayyed Abbas said about Hezbollah, the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon.
In that year (1982), Sayyed Abbas headed a delegation representing Hezbollah to Iran, where they met Imam Khomeini who blessed their efforts, telling them that “he sees victory on their foreheads,” according to “Jihad and Martyrdom Leader” documentary which explores the life of Sayyed Abbas.
Sacred Defense in Ahvaz
Later in 1983, Sayyed Abbad headed for Iran’s Ahvaz to take part in the sacred defense during the war launched by the Baathist regime in Iraq.  Imam Khomeini dispatched his personal delegate Sheikh Abbas Al-Kaabi who urged Sayyed Abbas to go back to Lebanon, stressing that the Lebanese battlefield needed him more.
When he returned to Lebanon, Sayyed Abbas tried to strengthen ties with other Muslim clerics from outside the Shiite arena in a bid to boost Islamic unity and unify resistance movements allover Lebanon.
He coordinated resistance efforts with both Sheikh Said Shaaban in the northern city of Tripoli and Sheikh Maher Hammoud in the southern city of Sidon.
Resistance Path of Victory
ormer Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Abbas Al-Mousawi with resistance fighters (photo from archive)
“Sayyed Abbas presented the resistance as a path of victory not only as a path of martyrdom,” Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah described his predecessor in the documentary which was aired on Al-Manar TV.
Sayyed Abbas was the military commander of the Islamic Resistance in south Lebanon. He personally oversaw resistance operations which forced the Israeli enemy to withdraw from Beirut and then from Sidon to the southern villages and towns.
Visits to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kashmir
In March 1990, Sayyed Abbas went to Pakistan, to take part in a pro-Palestine conference. In that visit he toured 17 Pakistani villages, where he tackled Israeli oppression, importance of resistance and US schemes in the region. After that, Sayyed Abbas visited Afghanistan, where he met with fighters against Soviet troops, and then he went to Kashmir.
Hezbollah S.G.
In April 1991, and following years of hard work in ranks of the Islamic Resistance, Sayyed Abbas was elected to be Hezbollah Secretary General. Sayyed Nasrallah narrates in the “Jihad and Martyrdom” documentary how long it took to convince Sayyed Abbas that he has to accept this post.
“After ten days of attempts to convince him, Sayyed Abbas accepted to assume his duties as the Secretary General of Hezbollah,” according to Sayyed Nasrallah.
Upon his election, Sayyed Abbas was maintained strong relation with resistance fighters as well as with Lebanese people whom was keen to serve them. He raised the slogan of “We Are All at Your Service,” referring to securing basic needs of the people in light of the state’s absence in several areas especially in south, Bekaa and Beirut southern suburb.
Martyrdom and Will
Sayyed Abbas was assassinated in February 16 1992, when he was returning from south Lebanon where there was a ceremony marking the martyrdom anniversary of Sheikh Ragheb Harb. Israeli Apache helicopters fired missiles at his motorcade, killing him, his wife, his five-year-old son, and four others.
Following his martyrdom, Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah succeeded Sayyed Abbas, whose primary will was to “preserve the Islamic Resistance.”