Seeing Benjamin Netanyahu stand up there and lie about Iran’s “nuclear weapons program” was one of the worst performances ever given. A grade school drama production could have done better. And would have been more convincing because children are better able to believe in fantasy, especially the fantasies they tell others.
Even worse, Netanyahu expects the world to believe this, all the while IDF snipers are killing kids in Gaza. Is this not surreal? Netanyahu reminds me of Colonel Kurtz from the movie Apocalypse Now. All the while going upriver, Captain Willard thinks Kurtz is on to something. But then he sees Kurtz and is astonished by the level of madness Kurtz has descended into. The world is an unwilling Willard to Netanyahu’s Kurtz.
Even that is too simple an explanation. The fact is, Netanyahu is gambling with his own country’s fate but doesn’t see it. He thinks that if he can just convince the United States to attack Iran, there will be no consequences to Israel. It is perfectly clear he is wrong. No one is going to forget that it was him who needled an unstable Trump into attacking Iran. But should Israel join a US coalition, it certainly will not escape.
Be that as it may, Netanyahu thinks the US can launch its famed Tomahawk cruise missiles at Iran and run, as it did in Syria. Not so fast! Syria air defense shot down most of the Tomahawks in the last attack on Syria, which the US government has been worked feverishly to deny. There is no solid evidence Tomahawks launched into Iran will reach their targets. Therefore, it would take aircraft to attack Iran. But the truth is, the US military has not taken on an air attack where it will face vast surface-to-air missile batteries and fighter/interceptor aircraft since the Vietnam War. Where, by the way, it lost quite a few aircraft which is how Senator John McCain was captured in his days as a navy aviator.
Let’s not forget that Russian air defense radar operating in Syria could track incoming US warplanes and pass the information on to Iran. The US could do nothing about it without provoking the Russians and possibly losing the host aircraft carriers that launched the warplanes to begin with. Of course, the United States could send out strategic bombers such as the B-1 and B-52s. But, again, the US lost B-52s to enemy fire in the Vietnam War so even that option is not without serious risk. Again, these planes are not invisible to radar. Yes, the US has stealth aircraft. But after they drop bombs, they’re no longer hidden. They might get in, but will they get out?
Netanyahu also assumes Russia will continue to sit this out. At some point, Russia and probably China are going to have had enough of the US and Israel sowing discord and conflict in a region they are hoping for closer trade relationships with. Russia and China want peace and harmony in the Middle East because that is necessary for the trade relationships they desire. The United States and Israel want discord and conflict because it keeps the region from uniting together in their own interests which do not include the United States and Israel. Of all the nations in the region, Iran holds the most promise of becoming a regional superpower that could challenge American hegemony. And that is what frightens the United States.
Netanyahu might be saying this from his own Kurtz-like personality. Or he could be saying this at the behest of US interests. Maybe it was the price for the release of the jailed spy Jonathan Pollard, who funneled US nuclear secrets to Israel for years. Either is possible. Or, perhaps, both are. The madness of Netanyahu is clear, given the actions of the Israeli military in Gaza who are certainly acting upon his orders. The world watches IDF snipers shoot children and giggle about it. The world sees this, fidgets in its chair, and does what? Worries about whether Trump paid off Stormie Daniels to keep quiet a rather distasteful peccadillo. An affair that, honestly, didn’t kill anyone so why get so focused on it?
The movie Apocalypse Now didn’t intend to portray the madness, hypocrisy, and insanity of war. But it did. It came at a time that the United States still hadn’t recovered from the way the Vietnam War tore the social fabric here. It literally ripped the scab off and forced the United States to confront what it had done. But it didn’t stay that way. Because it was only a couple years later Reagan told us, no, the Vietnam War was a “noble cause” and movies appeared to cast a heroic light on the war not a few years after that. And now even Apocalypse Now has flipped from unintended antiwar movie to being watched by pro-war people who actually think Kurtz is the hero and not a tragic character who lost the battle for his own mind and took all his followers along with him.
History is a tragedy but when it repeats itself it’s a farce. And no one knows that better than Israel and the United States who accuse every nation of having nuclear weapons programs when the only country to use them against people was the United States. And the only nation in the Middle East who has nuclear weapons is Israel. So it goes that Iraq went down and no one was really surprised when it was revealed they didn’t have a nuclear weapons program. Well, Israel knew it already before 2003. Because it was them who destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981. But no one has learned that the United States and Israeli “lies of mass destruction” programs are alive and well.
First published in our partner Mehr News Agency
Saudi Arabia steps up effort to replace UAE and Qatar as go-to regional hub
Saudi Arabia has stepped up efforts to outflank the United Arab Emirates and Qatar as the Gulf’s commercial, cultural, and/or geostrategic hub.
The kingdom has recently expanded its challenge to the smaller Gulf states by seeking to position Saudi Arabia as the region’s foremost sport destination once Qatar has had its moment in the sun with the 2022 World Cup as well as secure a stake in the management of regional ports and terminals dominated so far by the UAE and to a lesser extent Qatar.
Saudi Arabia kicked off its effort to cement its position as the region’s behemoth with an announcement in February that it would cease doing business by 2024 with international companies whose regional headquarters were not based in the kingdom.
With the UAE ranking 16 on the World Bank’s 2020 Ease of Doing Business Index as opposed to Saudi Arabia at number 62, freewheeling Dubai has long been international business’s preferred regional headquarters.
The Saudi move “clearly targets the UAE” and “challenges the status of Dubai,” said a UAE-based banker.
A latecomer to the port control game which is dominated by Dubai’s DP World that operates 82 marine and inland terminals in more than 40 countries, including Djibouti, Somaliland, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and Cyprus, the kingdom’s expansion into port and terminal management appears to be less driven by geostrategic considerations.
Instead, Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Gateway Terminal (RSGT), backed by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, said it was targeting ports that would service vital Saudi imports such as those related to food security.
PIF and China’s Cosco Shipping Ports each bought a 20 per cent stake in RSGT in January.
The Chinese investment fits into China’s larger Belt and Road-strategy that involves the acquisition regionally of stakes in ports and terminals in Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Oman, and Djibouti, where China has a military base.
RSGT Chief Executive Officer Jens Floe said the company planned to invest in at least three international ports in the next five years. He said each investment would be up to US$500 million.
“We have a focus on ports in Sudan and Egypt. They weren’t picked for that reason, but they happen to be significant countries for Saudi Arabia’s food security strategy,” Mr. Floe said.
Saudi Arabia’s increased focus on sports, including a potential bid for the hosting of the 2030 World Cup serves multiple goals: It offers Saudi youth who account for more than half of the kingdom’s population a leisure and entertainment opportunity, it boosts Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman’s burgeoning development of a leisure and entertainment industry, potentially allows Saudi Arabia to polish its image tarnished by human rights abuse, including the 2018 killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and challenges Qatar’s position as the face of Middle Eastern sports.
A recent report by Grant Liberty, a London-based human rights group that focuses on Saudi Arabia and China, estimated that the kingdom has so far invested in US$1.5 billion in the hosting of multiple sporting events, including the final matches of Italy and Spain’s top soccer leagues; Formula One; boxing, wrestling and snooker matches; and golf tournaments. Qatar is so far the Middle East’s leader in the hosting of sporting events followed by the UAE.
Grant Liberty said that further bids for sporting events worth US$800 million had failed. This did not include an unsuccessful US$600 million offer to replace Qatar’s beIN tv sports network as the Middle Eastern broadcaster of European soccer body UEFA’s Champions League.
Saudi Arabia reportedly continues to ban beIN from broadcasting in the kingdom despite the lifting in January of 3.5 year-long Saudi-UAE-led diplomatic and economic boycott of Qatar.
Prince Mohammed’s Vision 2030 plan to diversify and streamline the Saudi economy and ween it off dependency on oil exports “has set the creation of professional sports and a sports industry as one of its goals… The kingdom is proud to host and support various athletic and sporting events which not only introduce Saudis to new sports and renowned international athletes but also showcase the kingdom’s landmarks and the welcoming nature of its people to the world,” said Fahad Nazer, spokesperson for the Saudi Arabian embassy in Washington.
The increased focus on sports comes as the kingdom appears to be backing away from its intention to reduce the centrality of energy exports for its economy.
Energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Prince Mohammed’s brother, recently ridiculed an International Energy Agency (IEA) report that “there is no need for investment in new fossil fuel supply” as “the sequel of the La La Land movie.” The minister went on to ask, “Why should I take (the report) seriously?”
Putting its money where its mouth is, Saudi Arabia intends to increase its oil production capacity from 12 million to more than 13 million barrels a day on the assumption that global efforts to replace fossil fuel with cleaner energy sources will spark sharp reductions in US and Russian production.
The kingdom’s operating assumption is that demand in Asia for fossil fuels will continue to rise even if it drops in the West. Other Gulf producers, including the UAE and Qatar, are following a similar strategy.
“Saudi Arabia is no longer an oil country, it’s an energy-producing country … a very competitive energy country. We are low cost in producing oil, low cost in producing gas, and low cost in producing renewables and will definitely be the least-cost producer of hydrogen,” Prince Abdulaziz said.
He appeared to be suggesting that the kingdom’s doubling down on oil was part of strategy that aims to ensure that Saudi Arabia is a player in all conventional and non-conventional aspects of energy. By implication, Prince Abdulaziz was saying that diversification was likely to broaden the kingdom’s energy offering rather than significantly reduce its dependence on energy exports.
“Sports, entertainment, tourism and mining alongside other industries envisioned in Vision 2030 are valuable expansions of the Saudi economy that serve multiple economic and non-economic purposes,” “ said a Saudi analyst. “It’s becoming evident, however, that energy is likely to remain the real name of the game.”
Iranians Will Boycott Iran Election Farce
Iran and elections have not been two synonymous terms. A regime whose constitution is based on absolute rule of someone who is considered to be God’s representative on earth, highest religious authority, morality guide, absolute ruler, and in one word Big Brother (or Vali Faqih), would hardly qualify for a democracy or a place where free or fair elections are held. But when you are God’s rep on earth you are free to invent your own meanings for words such as democracy, elections, justice, and human rights. It comes with the title. And everyone knows the fallacy of “presidential elections” in Iran. Most of all, the Iranian public know it as they have come to call for an almost unanimous boycott of the sham elections.
The boycott movement in Iran is widespread, encompassing almost all social and political strata of Iranian society, even some factions of the regime who have now decided it is time to jump ship. Most notably, remnants of what was euphemistically called the Reformist camp in Iran, have now decided to stay away from the phony polls. Even “hardline” former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad realizes the extent of the regime’s woes and has promised that he will not be voting after being duly disqualified again from participating by supreme leader’s Guardian Council.
So after 42 years of launching a reformist-hardliner charade to play on the West’s naivety, Khamenei’s regime is now forced to present its one and true face to the world: Ebrahim Raisi, son of the Khomeinist ideology, prosecutor, interrogator, torturer, death commission judge, perpetrator of the 1988 massacre of political prisoners, chief inquisitionist, and favorite of Ali Khamenei.
What is historic and different about this presidential “election” in Iran is precisely what is not different about it. It took the world 42 years to cajole Iran’s medieval regime to step into modernity, change its behavior, embrace universal human rights and democratic governance, and treat its people and its neighbors with respect. What is shocking is that this whole process is now back at square one with Ebrahim Raisi, a proven mass murderer who boasts of his murder spree in 1988, potentially being appointed as president.
With Iran’s regime pushing the envelope in launching proxy wars on the United States in Iraq, on Saudi Arabia in Yemen, and on Israel in Gaza and Lebanon, and with a horrendous human rights record that is increasingly getting worse domestically, what is the international community, especially the West, going to do? What is Norway’s role in dealing with this crisis and simmering crises to come out of this situation?
Europe has for decades based its foreign policy on international cooperation and the peaceful settlement of disputes, and the promotion of human rights and democratic principles. The International community must take the lead in bringing Ebrahim Raisi to an international court to account for the massacre he so boastfully participated in 1988 and all his other crimes he has committed to this day.
There are many Iranian refugees who have escaped the hell that the mullahs have created in their beautiful homeland and who yearn to one day remake Iran in the image of a democratic country that honors human rights. These members of the millions-strong Iranian Diaspora overwhelmingly support the boycott of the sham election in Iran, and support ordinary Iranians who today post on social media platforms videos of the Mothers of Aban (mothers of protesters killed by regime security forces during the November 2019 uprising) saying, “Our vote is for this regime’s overthrow.” Finally, after 42 years, the forbidden word of overthrow is ubiquitous on Iranian streets with slogans adorning walls calling for a new era and the fall of this regime.
Europe should stand with the Iranian Resistance and people to call for democracy and human rights in Iran and it should lead calls for accountability for all regime leaders, including Ebrahim Raisi, and an end to a culture of impunity for Iran’s criminal rulers.
Powershift in Knesset: A Paradigm of Israel’s Political Instability
The dynamics of the Middle East are changing faster than anyone ever expected. For instance, no sage mind ever expected Iran to undergo a series of talks with the US and European nations to negotiate sanctions and curb its nuclear potential. And certainly, no political pundit could have predicted a normalization of diplomacy between Israel and a handful of Arab countries. The shocker apparently doesn’t end there. The recent shift in Israeli politics is a historic turnaround; a peculiar outcome of the 11-day clash. To probe, early June, a pack of eight opposition parties reached a coalition agreement to establish Israel’s 36th government and oust Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister. While the political impasse has partly subsided, neither the 12-year prime minister is feeble nor is the fragile opposition strong enough to uphold an equilibrium.
Mr. Netanyahu currently serves as the caretaker prime minister of Israel. While the charges of corruption inhibited his drive in the office, he was responsible to bring notable achievements for Israel in the global diplomatic missions. Mr. Netanyahu, since assuming office in 2009, has bagged several diplomatic victories; primarily in reference to the long-standing conflict with Palestine and by extension, the Arab world. He managed to persuade former US President Donald J. Trump to shift the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the contentious city of Jerusalem. Furthermore, he managed to strike off the Palestinian mission in Washington whilst gaining success in severing US from the nuclear agreement with Iran. To the right-wing political gurus, Mr. Netanyahu stood as a symbolic figure to project the aspirations of the entire rightest fraction.
However, the pegs turned when Mr. Netanyahu refused to leave the office while facing a corruption trial. What he deemed as a ‘Backdoor Coup Attempt’ was rather criticized by his own base as a ruse of denial. By denying the charges and desecrating the judges hearing his case, Mr. Netanyahu started to undercut the supremacy of law. While he still had enough support to float above water, he lost the whelming support of the rightest faction which resulted in the most unstable government and four inconclusive elections in the past two years.
While Mr. Netanyahu was given the baton earlier by President Reuven Rivlin, he failed to convince his bedfellow politicians to join the rightest agenda. Moreover, Mr. Netanyahu probably hoped to regain support by inciting a head-on collision with the Palestinians. The scheme backfired as along with the collapse of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the tremors overtook Israel’s own Arab-Jewish cities resulting in mass chaos. The burning of Mosques and local Synagogues was hardly the expectation. Thus, both the raucous sentiment pervading the streets of Israel as well as the unstable nature of the Netanyahu-government led the rightest parties to switch sides.
As Mr. Netanyahu failed to convince a coalition government, the task was handed to Mr. Yair Lapid, a centrist politician. While the ideologies conflicted in the coalition he tried to forge, his counterparts, much like him, preferred to sideline the disputes in favor of dethroning Netanyahu. Mr. Lapid joined hands with a pool of political ideologies, the odd one being the conservative Yamina party led by the veteran politician, Mr. Naftali Bennett. While Mr. Lapid has been a standard-bearer for secular Israelis, Mr. Bennett has been a stout nationalist, being the standard-bearer for the rightest strata. To add oil to the fire, the 8-party coalition also includes an Arab Islamist party, Raam. A major conflict of beliefs and motivations.
Although the coalition has agreed to focus on technocratic issues and compromise on the ideological facets, for the time being, both the rightest and the leftish parties would be under scrutiny to justify the actions of the coalition as a whole. Mr. Bennett would be enquired about his take on the annexation of occupied West Bank, an agenda vocalized by him during his alliance with Mr. Netanyahu. However, as much as he opposes the legitimacy of the Palestinian state, he would have to dim his narrative to avoid a fissure in the already fragile coalition. Similarly, while the first independent Arab group is likely to assume decision-making in the government for the first time, the mere idea of infuriating Mr. Bennett strikes off any hope of representation and voice of the Arabs in Israel.
Now Mr. Netanyahu faces a choice to defer the imminent vote of confidence in Knesset whilst actively persuading the rightest politicians to abandon the coalition camp. His drive has already picked momentum as he recently deemed the election as the ‘Biggest Fraud in the History of Israeli Politics’. Furthermore, he warned the conservatives of a forthcoming leftist regime, taking a hit on Naftali colluding with a wide array of leftist ideologies. The coalition is indeed fragile, yet survival of coalition would put an end to Netanyahu and his legacy while putting Naftali and then Lapid in the office. However, the irony of the situation is quite obvious – a move from one rightest to the other. A move from one unstable government to a lasting political instability in Israel.
Russia and Japan: Inseparable Partners
By all accounts, Japan with its strong economy and many high-quality manufactured brands is practically searching to expand into foreign...
Saudi Arabia steps up effort to replace UAE and Qatar as go-to regional hub
Saudi Arabia has stepped up efforts to outflank the United Arab Emirates and Qatar as the Gulf’s commercial, cultural, and/or...
Sedition law: Hand-maiden of the Modi’s government
Sedition laws have become a handmaid of India’s government under Narendra Modi to stifle dissent, incarcerate political opponents or persecute...
Bitcoin Legalization In El Salvador: Heading Towards A Crypto-Friendly Regime
Cryptocurrencies are surely one of the hotly debated topics across the globe. There’s always an ambiguity surrounding the usage and...
The Leaders of the Western World Meet
The annual meeting of the G7 comprising the largest western economies plus Japan is being hosted this year by the United...
You could have been black too: Describing racism in Venezuela
“Black woman! . . . if you were white and had straight hair / My mother told me in distress...
The Inevitable Geopolitical Dilemma of Climate Change
“Go and explain to developing countries why they should continue living in poverty and not be like Sweden”, “No one...
Economy3 days ago
Is Bangladesh falling into a China’s Debt-Trap Like Sri-Lanka?
Intelligence2 days ago
Uranium is being traded freely in the open market in India
New Social Compact3 days ago
Global Health Security: The need for collective action
Terrorism3 days ago
FATF: A Sword of Damocles or a tool of financial discipline?
Europe2 days ago
Greece And Yugoslavia: A Brief History Of Lasting Partitions
Africa2 days ago
Lawrence Stargomena Tax Says Goodbye, and Calls for Scaling Up Sustainable Development
Human Rights2 days ago
2021 Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy
Russia2 days ago
Putin and Biden meeting – a chance for a better world