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2015: A Year of INTENSE CONFLICTS – Why is it necessarily so?

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Washington has shaped 2015 to be a year of conflict. The conflict could be intense.

Washington is the cause of the conflict, which has been brewing for some time. Russia was too weak to do anything about it when the Clinton regime pushed NATO to Russia’s borders and illegally attacked Yugoslavia, breaking the country into small easily controlled pieces.
Russia was also too weak to do anything about it when the George W. Bush regime withdrew from the ABM treaty and undertook to locate anti-ballistic missile bases on Russia’s borders. Washington lied to Moscow that the purpose of the ABM bases is to protect Europe from non-existent Iranian nuclear ICBMs.
However, Moscow understood that the purpose of the ABM bases is to degrade Russia’s nuclear deterrent, thereby enhancing Washington’s ability to coerce Russia into agreements that compromise Russian sovereignty.

By summer 2008 Russian power had returned. On Washington’s orders, the US and Israeli trained and equipped Georgian army attacked the breakaway republic of South Ossetia during the early hours of August 8, killing Russian peacekeepers and civilian population.
Units of the Russian military instantly responded and within a few hours the American trained and equipped Georgian army was routed and defeated. Georgia was in Russia’s hands again, where the province had resided during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Putin should have hung Mikheil Saakashvili, the American puppet installed as president of Georgia by the Washington-instigated “Rose Revolution”, and reincorporated Georgia into the Russian Federation. Instead, in a strategic error, Russia withdrew its forces, leaving Washington’s puppet regime in place to cause future trouble for Russia.

Washington is pushing hard to incorporate Georgia into NATO, thus adding more US military bases on Russia’s border. However, at the time, Moscow thought Europe to be more independent of Washington than it is and relied on good relations with Europe to keep American bases out of Georgia.
Today the Russian government no longer has any illusion that Europe is capable of an independent foreign policy. Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated publicly that Russia has learned that diplomacy with Europe is pointless, because European politicians represent Washington’s interest, not Europe’s.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently acknowledged that Europe’s Captive Nation status has made it clear to Russia that Russian goodwill gestures are unable to produce diplomatic results.
With Moscow’s delusion shattered that diplomacy with the West can produce peaceful solutions, reality has set in, reinforced by the demonization of Vladimir Putin by Washington and its vassal states. Hillary Clinton called Putin the new Hitler.
While Washington incorporates former constituent parts of the Russian and Soviet empires into its own empire and bombs seven countries, Washington claims that Putin is militarily aggressive and intends to reconstitute the Soviet empire.
Washington arms the neo-nazi regime Obama established in Ukraine, while erroneously claiming that Putin has invaded and annexed Ukrainian provinces. All of these blatant lies are echoed repeatedly by the Western presstitutes. Not even Hitler had such a compliant media as Washington has.

Every diplomatic effort by Russia has been blocked by Washington and has come to naught. So now Russia has been forced by reality to update its military doctrine. The new doctrine approved on December 26 states that the US and NATO comprise a major military threat to the existence of Russia as a sovereign independent country.
The Russian document cites Washington’s war doctrine of pre-emptive nuclear attack, deployment of anti-ballistic missiles, buildup of NATO forces, and intent to deploy weapons in space as clear indications that Washington is preparing to attack Russia.
Washington is also conducting economic and political warfare against Russia, attempting to destabilize the economy with economic sanctions and attacks on the ruble.

The Russian document acknowledges that Russia faces Western threats of regime change achieved through “actions aimed at violent change of the Russian constitutional order, destabilization of the political and social environment, and disorganization of the functioning of governmental bodies, crucial civilian and military facilities and informational infrastructure of Russia.”
Foreign financed NGOs and foreign owned Russian media are tools in Washington’s hands for destabilizing Russia.
Washington’s reckless aggressive policy against Russia has resurrected the nuclear arms race. Russia is developing two new ICBM systems and in 2016 will deploy a weapons system designed to negate the US anti-ballistic missile system. In short, the evil warmongers that rule in Washington have set the world on the path to nuclear armageddon.

The Russian and Chinese governments both understand that their existence is threatened by Washington’s hegemonic ambitions. Larchmonter reports that in order to defeat Washington’s plans to marginalize both countries, the Russian and Chinese governments have decided to unify their economies into one and to conjoin their military commands.
Henceforth, Russia and China move together on the economic and military fronts. The unity of the Bear and the Dragon reduces the crazed neoconservatives’ dream of “an American century” to dangerous nonsense.
As Larchmonter puts it, “The US and NATO would need Michael the Archangel to defeat China-Russia, and from all signs Michael the Archangel is aligned with the Bear and its Orthodox culture. There is no weapon, no strategy, no tactic conceivable in the near future to damage either of these rising economies now that they are ‘base pairs.’”

Larchmonter sees hope in the new geopolitics created by the conjoining of Russia and China. I don’t dispute this, but if the arrogant neoconservatives realize that their hegemonic policy has created a foe over which Washington cannot prevail, they will push for a pre-emptive nuclear strike before the Russian-Chinese unified command is fully operational. To forestall a sneak attack, Russia and China should operate on full nuclear alert.
The US economy–indeed the entire Western orientated economy from Japan to Europe–is a house of cards. Since the economic downturn began seven years ago, the entirety of Western economic policy has been diverted to the support of a few over-sized banks, sovereign debt, and the US dollar. Consequently, the economies themselves and the ability of populations to cope have deteriorated.
The financial markets are based on manipulation, not on fundamentals. The manipulation is untenable. With debt exploding, negative real interest rates make no sense. With real consumer incomes, real consumer credit, and real retail sales stagnant or falling, the stock market is a bubble.

With Russia, China, and other countries moving away from the use of the dollar to settle international accounts, with Russia developing an alternative to the SWIFT financial network, the BRICS developing alternatives to the IMF and World Bank, and with other parts of the world developing their own credit card and Internet systems, the US dollar, along with the Japanese and European currencies that are being printed in order to support the dollar’s exchange value, could experience a dramatic drop in exchange value, which would make the import-dependent Western world dysfunctional.

In my opinion, it took the Russians and Chinese too long to comprehend the evil that has control in Washington. Therefore, both countries risk nuclear attack prior to the full operational capability of their conjoined defense.
As the Western economy is a house of cards, Russia and China could collapse the Western economy before the neoconservatives can drive the world to war. As Washington’s aggression against both countries is crystal clear, Russia and China have every right to the following defensive measures.
As the US and EU are conducting economic warfare against Russia, Russia could claim that by wrecking the Russian economy the West has deprived Russia of the ability to repay loans to the European banks.
If this does not bring down the thinly capitalized EU banks, Russia can announce that as NATO countries are now officially recognized by Russian war doctrine as an enemy of the Russian state, Russia can no longer support NATO’s aggression against Russia by selling natural gas to NATO members.

If the shutdown of much of European industry, rapidly rising rates of unemployment, and bank failures do not result in the dissolution of NATO and thus the end of the threat, the Chinese can act.
The Chinese hold a very large amount of dollar-denominated financial assets. Just as the Federal Reserve’s agents, the bullion banks, dump massive shorts onto the bullion futures markets during periods of little activity in order to drive down the bullion price, China can dump the equivalent in US Treasuries of years of Quantitative Easing in a few minutes.
If the Federal Reserve quickly creates dollars with which to purchase the enormous quantity of Treasuries so that the financial house of cards does not implode, the Chinese can then dump the dollars that they are paid for the bonds in the currency market.
Whereas the Federal Reserve can print dollars with which to purchase the Treasuries, the Fed cannot print foreign currencies with which to buy the dollars.

The dollar would collapse, and with it the power of the Hegemon. The war would be over without a shot or missile fired.
In my view, Russia and China owe it to the world to prevent the nuclear war intended by the neoconservatives simply by replying in kind to Washington’s economic warfare. Russia and China hold all the cards. Not Washington.
Russia and China should give no warning. They should just act. Indeed, instead of step by step, Russia and China could simultaneously use the counter-measures. With four US banks holding derivatives totaling many times world GDP, the financial explosion would be the equivalent to a nuclear one. The US and Europe would be finished, and the world would be saved.
Larchmonter possibly is correct. 2015 could be a very good year, but pre-emptive economic moves by Moscow and Beijing could be required. Putin’s current plan seems to be to turn away from the West, ignore the provocations, and mesh Russia’s strategic and economic interests with those of Asia.
This is a humane and reasonable course of action, but it leaves the West untroubled and undistracted by its economic vulnerabilities. An untroubled West remains a grave danger not only to Russia and China but also to Americans and the entire world.

 
First published by the SC Foundation under title: “The Outlook for the New Year 2015: A Year of INTENSE CONFLICT?”

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Terrorism

Despite acknowledging strict measures, Pakistan has to stay on the grey-list in FATF

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President of The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Dr. Marcus Pleyer, announced in a press conference held on 25 February 2021 after the four-day virtual plenary meeting in Paris, France, that  “Pakistan remains under increased monitoring,” adding that while Islamabad had made “significant progress,” there remained some “deficiencies” in mechanisms to plug terrorism financing.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental formal decision-making body. It was founded in 1989 during the G7 Summit in Paris to develop policies against money laundering. It is a “policy-making body “that generates the political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in money laundering. It has also started dealing with virtual currencies. The FATF Secretariat is located in Paris. It sets standards and promotes effective implementation of:-

a. Legal, regulatory, and operational measures for combating money laundering.

b. The FATF works to identify national-level vulnerabilities to protect the international financial system from misuse.

Pakistan has been on the FATF grey list since June 2018 and has been asked to implement the FATF Action Plan fully by September 2019. Pakistan has implemented almost 90% of the recommendations; only three out of 27 points are not fully implemented.

Pakistan has suffered heavy economic losses due to being put on the grey-list; according to some estimates, Pakistan has suffered US Dollars 38 billion.

The FATF president noted that Pakistan was working towards its commitment made at a high level to implement the illicit financing watchdog’s recommendations, saying “that is not the time to put a country on the blacklist.”He added that as soon as Pakistan completed the action, the watchdog “will verify the reforms’ sustainability and discuss in next plenary in June.”

However, there are no chances that Pakistan could be put on the blacklist because it has at least three members of the FATF — China, Turkey, and Malaysia — that can sustain all pressures against any downgrade.

The government of Pakistan is committed to fully implementing the action plan, and to date, the progress achieved is admired by other FATF members.

However, FATF is also being used as a political tool against other nations. By reviewing the countries on the blacklist, the new additions are  North Korea and Iran- the West’s adverse enemies. Also,the addition of   Morocco, Burkina Faso, Senegal, and the Cayman Islands, are political decisions. As a matter of fact, the Western world is using international organizations, including FATF, to coerce their political opponents. Pakistan was a close ally with the West during the cold war era, and the front line state on Afghan war and non-NATO ally in the war on terror, yet faced worst sanctions like Pressler Amendments, Kerry Loggar Bill, etc.

Pakistani journalist Adeela Khan stepped up and raised a question asking FATF president Marcus Pleyer why India is not on the grey or blacklist of FATF even after financing proxies in Afghanistan, using Afghan soil to end terrorism in Pakistan, and violating human rights in India Occupied Kashmir. There more than forty banks in India involved in money laundering. The Incident of terrorism in Sri Lanka can be traced back to India. Yet India is not on the grey list or blacklist. India has been playing an ugly role in keeping Pakistan on the grey list. Although the EU Disinfo lab has revealed that Indian state-sponsored media think tanks and professionals play a dirty role in spreading fake news and disinformation against China and Pakistan yet, the world has not realized India’s evil intentions.

A bais and discriminatory attitude may harm the FATF’s reputation ultimately.

Many neutral people ask similar questions and demand justice and a fair playground for all nations, above the political motives and discrimination. The international community may maintain the reputation of International organizations and integrity – merit-based decisions.

On the one hand, Pakistan is trying its best to implement the FATF plan fully, and on the other hand, it is demanded that a fair playground be provided to judge the case for Pakistan. It is expected that in the next plenary session to be held in June 2021, Pakistan will come out of the grey list.

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‘Disturbing spike’ in Afghan civilian casualties after peace talks began

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A family runs across a dusty street in Herat, Afghanistan. (file photo) UNAMA/Fraidoon Poya

Civilian casualties in Afghanistan witnessed a sharp rise since peace negotiations started in September last year, even though overall deaths and injuries dropped in 2020, compared to the previous year, according to a UN human rights report launched Tuesday. 

In their annual Afghanistan Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict Annual Report, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the UN Assistance Mission in the country (UNAMA) documented some 8,820 civilian casualties (3,035 deaths and 5,785 injuries) in 2020, about 15 per cent less than in 2019.  

It was also the first time the figure fell below 10,000 since 2013. 

However, the country remains amongst the “deadliest places in the world to be a civilian”, according to Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. 

“I am particularly appalled by the high numbers of human rights defenders, journalists, and media workers killed since peace negotiations began in September”, she said. 

At least 11 rights defenders, journalists and media workers lost their lives since September, resulting in many professionals exercising self-censorship in their work, quitting their jobs, and even leaving their homes and the country – in hope it will improve their safety. 

Rise in ‘targeted killings’ 

According to the report, the overall drop in civilian casualties in 2020 was due to fewer casualties from suicide attacks by anti-Government elements in populated areas, as well as drop in casualties attributed to international military forces.  

There was, however, a “worrying rise” in targeted killings by such elements – up about 45 per cent over 2019. The use of pressure-plate improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by the Taliban, air strikes by the Afghan Air Force, and ground engagements also resulted in increased casualties, the report said. 

According to the report, anti-Government elements bore responsibility for about 62 per cent civilian casualties, while pro-Government forces were responsible for about 25 per cent casualties. About 13 per cent of casualties were attributed to crossfire and other incidents. 

2020 could have been ‘a year of peace’ 

Deborah Lyons, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, called on all parties to take immediate and concrete action to protect civilians, urging them “not to squander a single day in taking the urgent steps to avoid more suffering”. 

“2020 could have been the year of peace in Afghanistan. Instead, thousands of Afghan civilians perished due to the conflict”, Ms. Lyons said

The “overriding objective” of the report is to provide the parties responsible with the facts, and recommendations, so they take immediate and concrete steps to protect civilians, she added. 

Ms. Lyons highlighted that “ultimately, the best way to protect civilians is to establish a humanitarian ceasefire” – a call consistently made by Secretary-General António Guterres and the Security Council

“Parties refusing to consider a ceasefire must recognize the devastating consequences of such a posture on the lives of Afghan civilians.” 

UNAMA-OHCHR report: Women casualties (killings and injuries) documented between 1 January 2009 and 31 December 2020

‘Shocking toll’ on women and children 

The report went on to note that the years-long conflict in Afghanistan “continues to wreak a shocking and detrimental toll” on women and children, who accounted for 43 per cent of all civilian casualties – 30 per cent children and 13 per cent women. 

“This report shows the acute, lasting needs of victims of the armed conflict and demonstrates how much remains to be done to meet those needs in a meaningful way”, High Commissioner Bachelet said. 

“The violence that has brought so much pain and suffering to the Afghan population for decades must stop and steps towards reaching a lasting peace must continue.” 

Attacking civilians ‘serious violations’ 

With the conflict continuing, parties must do more to prevent and mitigate civilian casualties, the report said, urging them to fully implement the report’s recommendations and to ensure that respect and protection of human rights is central to the ongoing peace negotiations. 

It also reminded the parties that deliberately attacking civilians or civilian objects are serious violations of international humanitarian law that may amount to war crimes. 

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Terrorism

Is Blacklisting on Cards for Pakistan?

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Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has been an integral part of the economic decision making and regulatory procedures of the country. The days of the ultimate decision are finally on cards as the Global Watchdog is expected to evaluate and review the performance and strategies of Pakistan via virtual meeting tentatively scheduled for February 22-25, 2021. This would be a much-anticipated review since a keen eye would be payed following a long hiatus to the litigations recently undertaken by the country to eliminate the risks and gaps in the financial framework which might earn Pakistan, a way out from the grey list. However, while the preceding meeting only guided more hopes for better litigation and measures to curb terror financing, brimming foreign propaganda and nefarious rulings within the country itself might hamper the way out but instead could dig the trench further towards a harrowing financial turmoil.

Pakistan was placed on the grey list back in June 2018 due to strategic deficiencies. Just before the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc in the world, Pakistan was allowed a breather of 4-months to comply with the 27-point action plan; of which Pakistan met only 14 targets while missing out on the rest of 13 targets. Moreover, Pakistan could only satisfy 10 of a total of 40 recommendations devised by the task force. These lags led to a major pitfall in the Pakistan’s Stock Market; PSX plummeting bellow 30,000 points. Furthermore, a bitter narrative started blooming regarding arch-rival India pulling all the strings to push Pakistan down further, even in the blacklist. This was largely shunned by the Indian representatives but the failure of the economic and diplomatic front of Pakistan was evident by now.

The FATF plenary was scheduled, like traditionally, in June. However, all scheduled evaluations and review procedures were deferred for 4-months in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, allowing yet another unforeseen yet thoroughly welcomed relief span to Pakistan to strive more actively to meet the requirements.

In the preceding 4 months, Pakistan acutely worked to amend the contradicting laws and policies, the parliament playing an agile role to introduce new bills relating to counter-terrorism and countering money laundering as an act to expedite compliance to the international laws and ultimately meeting up all 27 points in the action plan. Almost all the bills presented, albeit some political resistance, were eventually passed which even led to optimism in the stock market; PSX climbing back over 40,000 points after more than half a year, rallying to record high levels despite of the pandemic wreaking havoc on the investors’ mentality across the globe.

The meeting held, after a steep deferral, back in October 2020; the FATF committee observed and commended on the vigilant stance assumed by Pakistan to crawl out of the Grey list. Pakistan has since delivered on 22 out of the 27 core points of the action plan defined. However, the meetings adjourned till February, retaining Pakistan in the grey list under the tag of ‘jurisdiction under enhanced monitoring’ whilst praising the steps of counter-terrorism and anti-money laundering adopted by Islamabad.

Pakistan was warned back in February last year that if not complied by the 27-point action plan, it could be a great threat to the foreign mechanism and would be eventually moved to the monitored jurisdiction, notoriously also known as the ‘Blacklist’. Later this month, FATF would examine if Pakistan meets the 8 key categories of the action plan; remedial actions taken against money laundering, counterfeit terrorism while also reviewing the vigilance of the institutions in countering Terror Financing and actively managing risk. The committee representing Pakistan would perpetually convince the plenary that the country in-fact meets the criteria and transitioning over the next month, the fate of the tormented economy would finally prevail in light of the decision made.

However, Pakistan has been sluggish in taking action against the notorious entities linked to terrorism around the region. The meeting nears with the pinned watch of UN regarding Pakistan’s role of providing a safe haven to Lashkar-e-Taiba founder, Hafiz Saeed, or the notorious acquittal of Ahmed Omer Sheikh, the prime culprit of the Daniel Pearle Murder case of 2002. Pakistan, however, claims to have made virtue on 22 of the defined 27 points while has garnered ‘Substantial progress’ on the remaining 5 points. Thus, the optimism brews that the meeting would push the country out of the list and would open more financial avenues especially in these distressful conditions.

Although Pakistan’s Foreign Office including the Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, appears optimistic to climb out of the grey list after 3 years, the infamous decisions passed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the excessive money laundering cases surging against the ex-office holders of Pakistan and the determined efforts of India to subvert Pakistan in global politics, all thwart down that optimism bit by bit. And while some of the economic experts claim that the decision of advancing Pakistan off the Grey list would be naïve move and would arguably impact regional dynamics, the decision could fall in tandem with the preceding outcome of sustaining the grey list status or could deteriorate the level further as gauged by a political expert, opining his narrative: “The facts demand that Pakistan remain on the grey list. The FATF shouldn’t just keep Pakistan on the grey list. It should rather warn Islamabad that absent rapid and wide-ranging reform; blacklisting is coming”.

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