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Chances grow for final Iran nuclear deal

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The 10 most important things you need to know on Caspian Sea Region for Friday, June 19:

1Despite obstacles, chances grow for final Iran nuclear deal. “US officials, including Obama, have long said they see at best a 50-50 chance of getting a deal with Iran. That remains the official line, but diplomats close to the talks tell Reuters the chances are higher than that as foreign ministers and other negotiators head to Vienna next week for the final stage of a nearly two-year process. Driving the cautious optimism, they say, is not so much progress made in overcoming sticking points as the intense political pressure on the US and Iranian delegations to reach a deal that would end the 12-year nuclear stand-off between Iran and the West. “We can’t rule out failure, but … it seems more likely that we will get something. Not by June 30, but perhaps in the days that follow,” a senior Western official told Reuters, referring to the planned deadline for a deal” [Reuters]

2Ashgabat is hosting a two-day regional forum entitled “International cooperation in the field of migration and emergency preparedness.” The forum was organized by the government of Turkmenistan jointly with the subregional coordinating office of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for Central Asia. The representatives of international organizations, the relevant organizations of the Central Asia and Afghanistan attend the forum. “The objectives of the forum are to determine the constructive approaches in the development of international cooperation in migration policy and the support for preparedness for the disasters, to inform the Central Asian governments with the IOM framework mechanism on migration challenge management and the best international best practice and to establish a regional network of contact persons,” a statement said.

3The first European Games in Baku has caused considerable debate on Azerbaijan, said member of the French Senate Nathalie Goulet, Opinion Internationale reported. According to her, some critics claim that “democratic values” are not recognized in Azerbaijan. “Azerbaijan is a 24 year-old young country. Obviously, it is in an open war against Armenia and often suffers casualties. However, it is not spoken about. The election process has been improved. Of course, there are still problems. However, the non-constructive campaign against the country causes irritation. Well, all the European countries, including Israel, were represented in the OIC member state. Armenia also competed in the European Games due to the courageous step of the Azerbaijani government and the Armenian athletes”, Goulet mentioned.

4Unbiased Media / Biased Agendas: How to Make a Russian Demon. “Ending crises such as the one in Crimea is not only the work of governments, diplomats, and militaries. Reporters play a crucial role as well. While Western journalists as a whole tend to be a conscientious lot, simply pursuing an interesting story and often putting themselves in harm’s way in order to get it, the Cold War residue that remains between the United States and Russia has put a grimy film over more than just political actors. It often affects the way in which stories are told, the lens through which ‘impartial observers’ focus their attention” writes Dr. Matthew Crosston for the Modern Diplomacy.

5A meeting was held with Foreign Minister of the State of Qatar Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah at the foreign ministry of Turkmenistan, Turkmen Dovlet Khabarlary (TDH) state news agency reported June 18. Attiyah paid a working visit to Ashgabat. The importance of intensifying the activity of the Joint Intergovernmental Commission on Trade-Economic Cooperation was stressed during the Turkmen-Qatari foreign ministerial consultations. The views on the state and prospects of bilateral cooperation were exchanged. Touching upon the intensification of relations in the cultural-humanitarian sphere, the participants of the meeting discussed issues of organizing the mutual Days of Culture in Turkmenistan and Qatar, expanding of partnership between the two countries in the field of sport.

6Russia, Pakistan, North Korea: Nuclear Powers at Play. “If the US and NATO are clever enough to find a way to stop Russian conventional forces, Russia has few military options other than nuclear escalation, tactical or strategic. That makes Russia’s strategic position much like that of Pakistan” writes Elena M. for the Modern Diplomacy.

7State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (Socar) has started production at the gas condensate well located in the Bulla Deniz field located offshore Azerbaijan. Azernews reported that the drilling of new high-output gas condensate well platform No 124 was carried out from No 122 in the offshore filed. Socar was quoted by the news agency as saying: “The well’s daily debit is 1.25 million cubic meters of gas and 250 tons of condensate.” Estimated to hold 17 billion cubic meters of natural gas, the Bulla Deniz field is located in water depths of about 26m in the open sea at a distance of 80km from Baku.

8Guarding against Putin’s long reach. “Vladimir Putin recently told an Italian newspaper that “only an insane person and only in a dream can imagine that Russia would suddenly attack NATO.” So what is a sane person to make of the vastly expanded military exercises, patrols and incursions ordered by Mr. Putin along NATO’s borders since his invasion of Ukraine last year? According to NATO’s figures, Russian air activity near NATO territory increased by 50 percent from 2013 to last year; on the ground, there have been multiple last-minute military exercises, kept secret from the West or announced belatedly” Editorial from the Washington Post

9Sanctions have taught Iran a stark lesson: It’s time to own and manage development work in the country’s massive energy sector without reliance on foreigners. The history of Iran’s oil industry has a number of thought-provoking chapters, including the country’s business with oil and gas supermajor BP. [PressTv]

10Kazakhtelecom records 1.1 mln fixed base in Northern regions. Kazakhstan national operator Kazakhtelecom said its fixed services subscriber base currently totals 1.1 million in Northern Kazakhstan, namely, in the Akmola, Northern Kazakhstan, Kostanay and Pavlodar regions, as well as in the city of Astana. The number of broadband subscribers totals over 456,000 there, the number of iDNet services 138,000, and the number of IPTV subscribers 96,000.

Journalist, specialized in Middle East, Russia & FSU, Terrorism and Security issues. Founder and Editor-in-chief of the Modern Diplomacy magazine.

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India rejected the collective West’s destructive attempts to polarise the world order

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Indian external affairs Minister S. Jaishankar. Photo credit PTI

Taken together, the speeches made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar at the Voice of Global South Summit in New Delhi herald a new thinking in foreign policy. India is deftly adjusting itself to the decline of the West and greeting the emerging multipolarity and multilateralism. In the historic transition underway in the world order, India views the Global South as its ‘natural constituency,’ stresses Indian Ambassador and prominent international observer M.K. Bhadrakumar in his new article “Hopes for a New World Order”.

The thought processes reflected in the speeches by Modi and Jaishankar are bold and progressive, the speeches by the PM and the EAM have signalled that India intends to push back western attempts to hijack the G20 summit scheduled to take place in Delhi in September.

The main themes can be summarised as follows:

– India’s disquiet over the increasing geopolitical fragmentation of the international landscape and the iniquities of the UN system where ‘some powers have been singularly focused on their own advantage’;

– the urgent need for fundamental reform of major international organisations, especially the Bretton Woods institutions, with focus on giving voice to the concerns of the developing world and ‘reflecting the realities of the 21st century’;

– ‘the burdens of a colonial past, even as we face the inequities of the current world order’;

– ‘more multipolarity and reformed multilateralism’;

– ‘greater diversification and localisation of capabilities’;

– and, the lop-sided composition of the G20 that is weighed against the Global South.

Jaishankar rejected the collective West’s destructive attempts to polarise the world order — ‘us vs them mindset’ — and asserted: “From decolonisation movements to resisting alignment in the face of a deeply polarised world, the Global South has always shown the middle path. The path where diplomacy, dialogue and cooperation take primacy over competition, conflict, and divisions.”

Such a vision is being expounded from New Delhi after a long time. Since the early 1990s, when Indian diplomacy incrementally began turning its back on the Global South, it preferred to work with the western agenda to reset the norms of global governance.

Essentially, the so-called ‘Washington consensus’ aimed at preserving the domination of the rich western bloc through an ingenious way of coalition-building with a clutch of developing countries that played a subaltern role. The G20 epitomises the paradigm under the rubric of the ‘rules-based order.’

Our elites were led to believe that India’s interests are best served by acting as a ‘bridge.’ But it has become crystal clear from Washington’s confrontation with Russia (and China) that there is no willingness for a broad-based equitable world order.

G7 is once again imposing its diktat — even on the global oil market. Meanwhile, the epochal confrontation in Ukraine exposed that the ‘rules-based order’ in reality translates as the West’s hegemonic position in the world.

Brazil’s newly elected socialist president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has said his foreign policy priorities include plans to rekindle integration processes in Latin America and highlight the role of BRICS and the G20. The bottom line is that most of the ideas that found expression at the Voice of Global South Summit are rooted in the BRICS deliberations.

India is circling the wagons to avoid a repetition of the G20 summit at Bali where the western countries acrimoniously demanded that the ‘rules-based order’ be front-loaded thematically in the deliberations. Surely, the Modi government is going to annoy the ‘collective West.’

Be prepared for shenanigans from the West’s toolbox to superimpose a different backdrop for the September event, writes M.K. Bhadrakumar.

International Affairs

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February 19: An anti-interventionist coalition to March to White House from Lincoln Memorial

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On February 19, Washington, DC, will witness a protest against the war in Ukraine that marks a sharp departure from past demonstrations. The lead demand is simple and direct, “Not One More Penny for war in Ukraine.”

It is a demand that emphasizes what we in the US can do to end the war, not what others can do. After all, the only government we have the power to influence is our own.

The potential power of this unique and promising movement arises from the nature of the sponsoring organizations – The Peoples Party, a progressive new Party, and the Libertarian Party. It is in fact what much of the press would term a “Right-Left Coalition”, spanning a spectrum broad enough to actually bring the proxy war in Ukraine to an end.

Fittingly, the organizers are calling the protest “Rage Against the War Machine.” With the war in Ukraine putting us the precipice of nuclear Armageddon, “rage” might be considered a mild reaction.

A New Right-Left Coalition to Oppose the War. The Peoples Party is probably the lesser known of the two sponsoring organizations, because it’s newer. Its founder and National Chair is Nick Brana, a lead organizer of the protest. Brana was National Coordinator of the Bernie Sanders 2016 campaign, but has turned his back on the Democrats in disgust over the failure progressive Democratic pols to fight for the promises they made.

The Libertarian Party is better known. It has been around longer and, though small, is the third largest political party in the US by voter registration. The present National Chair, Angela McCardle, is the other lead organizer of the DC protest. In American political life, probably, the best known representative of libertarian values, most notably a principled anti-interventionist stance in foreign policy, is Ron Paul.

A call for ending US support for the proxy war in Ukraine is realistic; a substantial and growing segment of the American people support this demand.

The lead demand “Not one more penny for war in Ukraine” is finding ever more support among Americans. A survey in November by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs showed that 35% of Americans oppose sending more arms to Ukraine and 34% oppose sending more economic aid. When it comes to sending US troops, 68% are opposed!

These numbers in grew from the previous survey in July 2022, revealing a growing anti-interventionist sentiment. While this is not a majority, over one third of the populace is a base substantial enough to build an antiwar majority. Only 16% more needs to be won over to reach a majority. The number one demand of the February demonstration is not utopian – it is realistic!

The Demands of the Demonstration:

– Not one more penny for war in Ukraine.

The Democrats and Republicans have armed Ukraine with tens of billions of dollars in weapons and military aid. The war has killed tens of thousands, displaced millions, and is pushing us toward a nuclear WW3. Stop funding the war.

– Negotiate Peace.

The US government instigated the war in Ukraine with a coup of its democratically elected government in 2014, and then sabotaged a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine in March. Pursue an immediate ceasefire and diplomacy to end the war.

– Stop the war inflation.

The war is accelerating inflation and increasing food, gas and energy prices. The US blew up Russian gas pipelines to Europe, starving them of energy and deindustrializing their countries. End the war and stop increasing prices.

– Disband NATO.

NATO expansion to Russia’s border provoked the war in Ukraine. NATO is a warmongering relic of the Cold War. Disband it like the Warsaw Pact.

The demonstration will gather at Washington DC on February 19at the Lincoln Memorial and then march to the White House.

Time is running out as the threat of nuclear war grows with each day and each new escalation in Ukraine. A broad coalition can end it.

ENOUGH OF THE FOREVER WARS!

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Sergey Lavrov: ‘If you want peace, always be ready to defend yourself’

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov gave an exclusive interview to Sputnik on Thursday, February 2. The conversation took place at a time of heightened international tensions over the conflict in Ukraine.

Mr. Lavrov has answered questions posed by the General Director of Rossiya Segodnya International News Agency, Dmitry Kiselev (photo), on the most pressing issues regarding Russian foreign policy and the international agenda.

Key statements made by Russia’s FM Sergei Lavrov in his interview to Sputnik:

Moscow did not turn to Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) partners with a request for assistance in connection with the special operation in Ukraine. “We have not made such a request to anyone. We proceed from the fact that we have everything necessary to solve the tasks of the special military operation, to end the war that the West started through the Ukrainian regime even after the coup d’etat.”

It seems that the West will supply Kiev with modern military equipment together with foreign combat crews. “All types of weapons that have already been partially transferred, and especially those that have been announced, according to experts, it is impossible for Ukrainians to work on these systems, trained or having passed some two-month or even three-month courses. There are systems, according to specialists, that cannot be trained for in the foreseeable future, and if they are supplied, then most likely it will be done together with combat crews.”

The more long-range weapons are supplied to the Kiev regime by the West, the further they need to be moved away from Russian territory.

Russia wants the conflict with Ukraine to end, but the time factor is not the main issue.

The United States deprives nations of the right to remember their own history; their task is to melt everyone into “Americans”.

The US conviction of its own superiority and infallibility is the main reason for Russia’s current confrontation with the West.

The West is hoping for a strategic defeat for Russia so that it cannot recover for decades.

Nobody is trying to convince Kiev to return to negotiations with Moscow; Zelensky himself does not feel like an independent figure, he is being manipulated.

The presumption that Russia refuses to negotiate on Ukraine is a lie.

The West is now “eyeing” Moldova for the role of “next Ukraine”; its president is ready for almost anything.

The West, on an almost “daily” basis, forces developing countries, including those in Africa, to implement sanctions against Russia;

The ideas of different countries increasing trade in national currencies are emerging because of US actions, which violate all the boundaries of decency with the US dollar.

Relations between Russia and China are superior in quality to a military alliance; they have no restrictions, limits or taboo topics; China already began to reduce dependence on Western financial mechanisms.

Nuland made a confession, rejoicing at the explosions on the Nord Stream pipelines; her words reflect the direct participation of the United States in the terrorist attack.

The United States “crushed” the European Union under itself, depriving it of the last signs of independence.

Lavrov says he is for peace, follows philosophy ‘if you want peace, always be ready to defend yourself.’

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