Who profits from Qatari-Western “Export of Revolutions”?

Who profits from Qatari-Western “Export of Revolutions”?

By Babich Dmitry

February 28, 2012VOR  The recent announcement by the Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani about Qatar’s readiness to arm the Syrian opposition puts the situation in the region in an entirely new context.  Obviously, the Rubicon has been crossed and the monarchies of the Persian Gulf have opted for “no limits” strategy in their drive to oust the remaining secular Arab regimes in the Middle East.

So, the Gulf monarchies have made their choice. The European Union does not lag too far behind – its foreign ministers at a meeting in Brussels declared the anti-government Syrian National Council a legitimate representative of the Syrian people. So, the European “democrats” are just one step behind the absolute monarchs of the Gulf– if only one side in the Syrian conflict is “legitimate,” why not send arms to this side?

This new situation raises new questions about the West’s role in this huge rearrangement of the Middle Eastern politics. How long will the West (i.e. the EU and the USA) follow the monarchies in their risky undertakings? And do the interests of the Sunni insurgents, supported by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, indeed coincide with the West’s interests?

Yevgeny Primakov, Russia’s former foreign minister in 1996-1998 and later prime minister under Boris Yeltsin in the late 1990s, is puzzled by the West’s desire to satisfy every wish of the radical Sunni opposition movements.

“Doesn’t the example of Egypt teach the United States a lesson or two? There was an Arab Spring in Egypt, but finally the Islamists ended up on the top of that wave. Can anyone think seriously that Assad’s ouster will be followed by an establishment of some kind of a democratic regime? This is just laughable,” Primakov, an Arabist by education and his background, told Rossiya channel of Russian television on Sunday.

Nikolay Surkov, a specialist on the Middle East, writing for Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily, thinks that the Western countries decided to “saddle” the wave of the seemingly endless successes of the protest movements in the Arab countries – simply because it was the strongest trend.

“Initially, France, for example, had no intention of inspiring protests in its former protectorates, such as Tunisia, let alone Syria,” Surkov said. “In the initial stages of the protests against the Tunisian president Ben Ali the French even pondered helping him with tear gas and other anti-riot equipment. But when the secular regimes began to be one by one swept away by the protests, the French, Britons and Americans decided to go with the flow, sometimes even supporting more moderate Islamist forces against more violent Salafi Islamists,” Surkov explains.

Another Arab country, Yemen, where the new president was recently elected by more than 99 percent of the eligible voters, offers a good example of the expenses that might follow if the monarchs’ and the West’s immediate aims are achieved.  The election of the former vice-president, Abed Rabu Mansour Hadi, which followed  more than a year of violent clashes, can hardly be called an exercise in democracy or a security achievement.

On the contrary, experts agree that during the “revolution,” when Yemeni troops had to be pulled back to the capital to fight the violent uprisings, Al-Qaeda strengthened its presence in the country and became a real threat both to the people of Yemen and to Western interests there. Now, the United States has to spend additional amounts of money on fighting Al-Qaeda in Yemen. The New York Times, citing the State Department figures, recently reported that the United States had allocated $53.8 million in security assistance for Yemen this year, up from $30.1 million last year. In fact, Al-Qaeda operatives welcomed the departure of the former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, whom they viewed as their enemy, not as an “impediment to democracy.” The same seems to be true about Al-Qaeda’s operatives in Syria.

“It is interesting to note that the new Al-Qaeda chief, who became a replacement for Bin Laden, said his organization supported the opposition in Syria. So, Al-Qaeda is against Assad,” former prime minister Primakov said in his interview to Russian television.

So, who is profiting from the “revolutionary spirit” that suddenly engulfed both the oil monarchies of the Persian Gulf and Western capitals? Al Qaeda seems to be at least one such force – and not the smallest one.



The Middle East Agenda: Oil, Dollar Hegemony & Islam

The Middle East Agenda: Oil, Dollar Hegemony & Islam

Transcript – Public Lecture – Perdana Global Peace Forum 2006

By Prof. Francis A Boyle

22/06/06 “ICH” — — Kuala Lumpur – Little has changed in the imperialist tendencies of American foreign policy since the founding of the United States of America in seventeen eighty-nine. The fledgling United States opened the nineteenth century by stealing the continent of North America from the Indians, while in the process ethnically cleansing them and then finally deporting the pitiful few survivors by means of death marches (a la Bataan) to Bantustans, which in America we call reservations, as in instance of America’s manifest destiny to rule the world. 

Then, the imperial government of the United States opened the twentieth century by stealing a colonial empire from Spain – in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines, then inflicting a near-genocidal war against the Filipino people. While at the same time, purporting to annex, the kingdom of Hawaii and subjecting the native Hawaiian people to near-genocidal conditions from which they still suffer today– all in the name of securing America’s so-called place in the sun. 

And today at the dawn of the twenty first century, the world witnesses the effort by the imperial government of the United States of America to steal a hydrocarbon empire from the Moslem states and peoples, surrounding central Asia and the Persian Gulf under the pretext of fighting a war against international terrorism or eliminating weapons of mass destruction or promoting democracy which is total nonsense. 

For the past two hundred and sixteen years, the imperialist foreign policy of the United States of America since its foundation, has been predicated upon racism, aggression, genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity, war crimes and outright genocide. At the dawn of the third millennium of humankind’s parlous existence, nothing has changed about the operational dynamics of American imperial policy. And we see this today in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and what appears to be an illegal attack upon Iran. 

Now the topic today is the Middle East Agenda : Oil, Dollar Hegemony and Islam. So, I’m only going to limit my comments to that subject. We have to begin the story with the Arab oil embargo in nineteen seventy-three. As you know in nineteen sixty-seven, Israel launched an illegal and preventive war against the surrounding Arab states, stole the land and ethnically cleansed the people. But eventually Egypt offered a Peace Treaty to Israel which Israel rejected and the Egyptians and the Arab states decided then to use force to recover their lands. 

Israel almost collapsed, the United States and Europe came to their support by providing weapons and in reaction the Arab states imposed an oil embargo on the United States and Europe, and brought their economies to their knees. Whereupon, the then U.S Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger threatened them and said, this will never happen again, and if you do, we will prevent it. And it was not just a threat. The United States government then at that time, planned, prepared and conspired, to steal the oil of the Persian Gulf. They did not have the military capability to do this at that time, to carry out the Kissinger threat, which was also then repeated by the Ford administration, and the Carter administration under Harold Brown and Brzezinski. 

So they put into planning an interventionary force, designed expressly for the purpose of stealing Arab oil fields, and that was called the rapid deployment force. And it took ten years of training, planning, positioning, and supply to build that interventionary force of that capability and eventually it was called the U.S. Central Command. The purpose of the U.S. Central Command is to steal and control and dominate the oil and gas resources of the Persian Gulf and Central Asia. And that’s exactly what the U.S. Central Command proceeded to do in the Bush Sr. war against Iraq, their first military expedition. 

And as we know, that war exterminated probably two hundred thousand Iraqis. Half of them innocent civilians. Simply wiped out in a bombing campaign and a military expedition of unprecedented dimensions. But remember, it took fifteen years for the Pentagon and three different administrations both Republicans and Democrats to get the capability to do this. And then, when that genocide or conflict was over, what happened? The United States carved Iraq up into three pieces with their air force, the so-called no-fly zones, a zone for the Kurds in the North, a zone for the Shi’ah in the South, and the Sunni in the middle. Why? To destroy Iraq as an effectively viable state. 

In his book, Clash of Civilizations, Huntington from Harvard who advised the Pentagon and advised the state department pointed out that the only Arab state with the capability to lead the Arab world and challenge the United States and Israel was Iraq. And so Iraq had to be destroyed, to maintain the domination of the United States and its proxy, Israel. And remember after nineteen seventy-three, whatever it was before then, Israel is nothing more than a catspaw of the United States. They do what America tells them to do. Otherwise Israel is nothing more than a failed state. 

In addition then, to destroying Iraq as a state, carving it up into three pieces, was the decision to debilitate and destroy the Iraqi people. And so they continued the genocidal economic sanctions on the people of Iraq, that my colleagues, Denis Halliday, Hans Von Sponeck, so courageously resisted and finally resigned as a matter of principle, calling them by what they really were, genocide. The United States and Britain maliciously and criminally imposed genocidal sanctions on the people of Iraq, that killed approximately 1.5 million Iraqis, all of whom were innocent civilians

And when U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was asked about the five hundred thousand dead children, she said that she thought the price was worth it. Now, I could have taken that statement to the International Court of Justice, and filed it against the United States as evidence of genocidal intent against the people of Iraq in violation of the 1948 Genocide Convention. And indeed I offered to do so to the then President of Iraq, but for whatever reasons he decided not to take these claims to the International Court of Justice. 

And now, as you see, he is on trial in a total kangaroo court proceeding in Baghdad that is completely controlled and dominated by the United States government. So, 1.5 million Iraqis died as the result of these genocidal sanctions. And then came September 11. And we know for a fact that the Bush Jr. administration knew that a major terrorist attack was going to be launched on the United States. And they let it happen anyway deliberately and on purpose. Why? They wanted a pretext for war. And not just one war but for a long war which they are talking about today. 

Indeed, from my research the war plans drawn up by the Pentagon for the war against Afghanistan were formulated as early as 1997. Enormous military forces fielded by that same U.S. Central Command, were already in and around and surrounding the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean before September 11. This war had been planned against Afghanistan. And armed, equipped, supplied, trained and war-gamed and ready to go. They just needed the pretext and that was September 11. Why? The United States wanted access to the oil and natural gas of Central Asia. 

That had been a Pentagon objective since at least before the collapse of the Soviet Union in nineteen ninety-one. And the Nine Eleven attack gave them the pretext to make this major grab for the oil and gas of Central Asia. And they are there today with their bases, with their troops, in the surrounding countries in Central Asia. And of course in the process, obliterated, we don ‘t even have an estimate of the Muslims in Afghanistan who were killed in the air bombardment, twenty, twenty five thousand, maybe more, and tens of thousands of others starved to death and still suffering today. 

But that, as we know from all the records was only the first step in the process. They wanted to finish the job in Iraq. And so immediately after September 11, Bush ordered Rumsfeld to update and operationalize the plans for attacking and invading Iraq. It had nothing at all to do with weapons of mass destruction. We in the peace movement in America had been saying that all along. The United Nations had determined there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. These were lies designed to scaremonger the American people and Congress into supporting an illegal war of aggression, a Nuremberg crime against peace, against Iraq. And they told whatever lies and broke what international laws they had to break in order to attack Iraq. 

And today the estimate, again we don’t know. Perhaps two hundred thousand people in Iraq had been killed outright by the United States, Britain, its allies, Australia in Iraq. And again, most of them civilians. Clearly if you add up what United States government has done to Iraq from August of 1990, when it imposed the genocidal economic embargo until today. The United States and Britain have inflicted outright genocide on the Muslim and Christian people of Iraq and they are predominately Muslim as we know. 

Now comes the third step in the Pentagon’s pre-existing plan, to control and dominate the oil and gas resources of the Persian Gulf and Central Asia. It’ s sounds a bit like the plan that Hitler and the Nazis had in the 1930″s. Does it not? First go into Austria, then go into Czechoslovakia, then go into Poland. So first Afghanistan, then Iraq, and now Iran. And so now Iran is going to be the next victim of these outright criminals unless you and I can stop them. 

Right now there are three aircraft carrier task forces in the Persian Gulf. And whenever they had put three aircraft carrier task forces over there, it’ s always to prepare for an attack. And according to Seymour Hersch, the award winning journalist, it will probably be an aerial bombardment, along the lines of what they did to Yugoslavia in 1999. As you remember there, seventy eight days of aerial bombardment by the United States and NATO with no authorization from the Security Council.

Clearly illegal.

Killing again, we don’t know the exact number outright, four to five thousand innocent civilians. And targeting civilian infrastructure, all up and down, from which the people still suffer today. The use of depleted uranium ammunitions, outbreaks of cancer are documented today. 

So this is what, is being planned right now as we speak; an attack upon Iran. Using jet fighter aircraft, fighter bombers, on these three aircraft carrier task forces, using cruise missiles on submarines and of course Israel will be involved and have a role to play, doing exactly what the Americans tell them to do. In addition, it appears that if they attack Iran, they will also attack Syria. Yesterday, if you heard President Bush’s press conference in Vienna, he threatened Syria, right? There’s no other word for it. He threatened Syria. 

These Neo-Conservatives want to take out Syria as a favour to Israel. Remember, many of these Neo-Conservatives are affiliated personally and professionally with the Likhud Party in Israel and Ariel Sharon, the butcher of Beirut, the man who exterminated twenty thousand Arabs in Lebanon, most of them, not all of them were Muslims. And in addition, slaughtered two thousand completely innocent Palestinian women, children and old men at Sabra and Shatila. Ariel Sharon, the man who went to Haram Al-Sharif, the third holiest site in Islam, where Muhammad, (Peace Be Upon Him) ascended into heaven, and desecrated the Haram on September 28th, 2000, and deliberately provoked the start of the Al-Aqsa Intifada and has inflicted death and destruction on the Palestinian people since then. Close to thirty seven hundred Palestinians since then alone have been killed..most of them shot down like dogs in the street, and what has the Muslim world done about this? 

My Palestinian friends tell me that they are worried that the government of Malaysia might recognize Israel and establish diplomatic relations with Israel. I certainly hope this is not true. We must treat the criminal apartheid regime in Israel, the same way the world treated the criminal apartheid regime in South Africa. If the United States attacks Iran, they will probably attack Syria with the Israeli air force and they will attack Lebanon to take out the Islamic resistance movement in southern Lebanon – Hezbollah that defended the legitimate rights of Lebanon and the Lebanese people and expelled the invading longstanding occupying Israeli army that had the full support of the United States government for over twenty years. 

So they could attack Iran, Syria, Southern Lebanon and inflict yet another round of ethnic cleansing on the suffering Palestinian people. Remember Sharon and Likhud believe that Jordan is Palestine. And they want to drive as many Palestinians as possible out of their homes and into Jordan. 

So if the United States as reported by Hersh and other reliable sources, goes ahead and attacks Iran, we could see warfare erupt all the way from Egypt to the border with India. This whole area convulsed in warfare. And who will be the primary victims of this war? Muslims. The United States could not care less about Muslim life. Look at the demonisation and victimisation of Muslims that we have seen inflicted by the United States and its surrogate, Israel. Look at Guantanamo, where six hundred Muslim men have been treated like dogs in a kennel. Pretty much the way the Nazis treated the Jews. Look at Abu Ghraib and the sadism and sexual exploitation and perversion of Muslims by their American captors. And the same thing has been done in Baghram in Afghanistan. And when Professor Sharif Bassiouni, the UN special rapporteur filed the report with the Security Council against US practices in Afghanistan, the Americans had Kofi Annan fire him. Just as they had Kofi Annan fire Mary Robinson, the UN high commissioner for human rights, when she protested what was going on down in Guantanamo. 

The United States could not care less about Muslim life. And the same is true for the genocidal apartheid regime in Israel. They would be happy to use nuclear weapons against Iran. They would be happy to break the taboo of Hiroshima and Nagasaki against Muslims in Iran. It would create no problem at all for them. Indeed, I went to school with these Neo-Conservatives at the University of Chicago. Wolfowitz was there, Chalabi, Khalilzad, Shulsky, all the rest of them. I went through the exact same programme. Their mentor, Professor Leo Strauss. And who was his teacher in Germany and his sponsor? Professor Carl Schmitt who went on to become the most notorious Nazi law Professor of his day, justifying every atrocity that the Nazis inflicted on everyone. We must understand that these Neo-Conservatives are in fact Neo-Nazis. They have espoused the Nazi doctrine of Schmitt and Strauss and Machiavelli and Nietzsche, the ‘superman’. They are the supermen, and the Muslims are the scum of the earth. 

Now, I do not believe the United States will initially start bombing Iran with nuclear weapons. But if things get out of control they are fully prepared to use tactical nuclear weapons. And here in our materials, you have the Pentagon’s Joint Publication 3-12, which you can get on the internet.. just do a Google search and read it. And you will see there dated fifteenth March 2005; nuclear, tactical nuclear weapons have been fully integrated into United States conventional forces. 

So if Iran were to defend itself, human wave attacks, whatever, they will be happy to use nuclear weapons, tactical nuclear weapons against Iran. Remember, these Neo-Nazis, Neo-Cons want to break the taboo of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They want to use tactical nuclear weapons, to be able to say to the rest of the world, you do what we tell you to do or else look what we did to the Iranians. 

It’s a very serious situation. And this could even get further out of control. Remember that before Bush invaded Iraq, President Putin of Russia said that if he invades Iraq he could set off World War Three. Well, I interpreted that as an implicit threat. Even the famous American news broadcaster Walter Cronkite said that if Bush invaded Iraq he could set off World War Three. Two weeks ago we had the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization; China, Russia and Iran. So again, if Bush were to attack Iran, he very well could set off a Third World War, a nuclear war. And that is where you come in. 

Dr. Mahathir has had the vision to call for this conference to alert the entire world to the existential dangers presented by a US attack on Iran that could readily become nuclear, regional and global. And I am calling upon you to do whatever you can in cooperation with Dr. Mahathir and the Perdana Global Peace Foundation to head this off. Allah has given each and everyone of you skills that can be used in this endeavour. I can’t tell you what they are, but you yourself know what they are. And you must go to Dr. Mahathir. You must go to the Perdana Peace Foundation and say, “This is what I can do. These are my talents. These are my professional qualifications. These are my skills. This is my cheque book. Let me help. Let me prevent, let me help prevent a nuclear war, a possible final, cataclysmic Third World War.”

New comment section added January 15, 2012


Iran prepares bill to bar foreign warships from Persian Gulf

Iran prepares bill to bar foreign warships from Persian Gulf

MC3 Kenneth Abbate/AP – In this Nov. 12, 2011photo provided by the U.S. Navy, the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis transits the Straits of Hormuz. The Pentagon on Tuesday answered an Iranian warning to keep U.S. aircraft carriers

By , Published: January 4

TEHRAN — Iran’s parliament said Wednesday that it was preparing a bill that would prohibit all foreign warships from entering the Persian Gulf unless they received permission from the Iranian navy.

The bill, disclosed by the semiofficial Fars News Agency, surfaced a day after Iran’s armed forces commander warned a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier not to return to the gulf, remarks that rattled commodities markets and helped drive up oil prices.

The proposed legislation suggested that at least some Iranian officials are serious about trying to stop the U.S. Navy from entering the oil-rich gulf waters. Iranian analysts said that the bill probably would not have been introduced if it were not supported by higher authorities.

“If the military vessels and warships of any country want to pass via the Strait of Hormuz without coordination and permission of Iran’s navy forces, they should be stopped by the Iranian armed forces,” Fars quoted lawmaker Nader Qazipour as saying in explaining the bill. He noted that Iran regards the strait as part of its territorial waters and said the bill would be presented to leaders in parliament next week.

Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi restated Iran’s position that “transnational forces” have no place in the region. Vahidi also said that Iran is willing to organize joint military drills with neighboring countries, Fars reported Wednesday.

The news agency, which has ties to Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps, asserted that the carrier USS John C. Stennis, which steamed out of the Persian Gulf last week, had escaped while being “chased by Iranian warships.”

The United States has dismissed as overblown rhetoric Iran’s threats to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the narrow entrance to the Persian Gulf, in retaliation for Western sanctions over the country’s uranium-enrichment program.

Iran’s increasingly bellicose tone has coincided with a currency crisis that has forced the government to intervene to prop up the ailing rial. Helping to drive the rial to record lows was U.S. legislation signed Saturday by President Obama that includes a provision for unilateral sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran.

Iran responded by injecting an additional $200 million into the country’s currency markets Wednesday, Fars reported. Although the rial’s rate appeared to stabilize, people involved in trading dollars said they were hanging on to their foreign currency for now.

Many Iranians were trying to buy dollars anyway, but sellers were hard to find.

“Nobody is selling their dollars,” said one exchange office representative who did not want to be identified. “The current rate is artificial.”

The crisis spurred rumors that the job of the governor of the Central Bank of Iran, Mahmoud Bahmani, was in jeopardy. According to Fars, he has asked for more authority to clamp down on “speculation” against the rial.



Hidden Agenda Behind “War on Terror”: The Conquest of Oil, Gas, Water and Vital Resources

Hidden Agenda Behind War on Terror: The Conquest of Oil, Gas, Water and Vital Resources

by Pepe Escobar and Lars Schall

As competition for oil, water and other resources intensify, global power relationships are shifting, providing backdrops for a string of conflicts from Iraq to Libya. Brazilian-born journalist Pepe Escobar, one of the most perceptive analysts of these trends, was interviewed by German Lars Schall.

 Mr. Escobar, given your experience in that field, what would you highlight as the most crucial misunderstanding held by the general public related to the so called “War on Terror”?

Pepe Escobar: This is the cover story for a Clash of Civilizations and an undercover cold war that maybe becomes a hot war between the U.S. and the two strategic competitors, China and Russia. They couldn’t go directly against any of these two BRICS members. [BRICS is an organization of emerging economies consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa].

Remember that before the “War on Terror“ and after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Americans were trying to find out who was going to be our next enemy? So you needed a pre-fabricated external enemy – before that there was the Soviet Union, the Iron Curtain and the evil of communism. After the evil was defeated by realpolitik – okay, who’s next?

First they thought about China, but they said, no, we can’t take China, it’s a big power, it’s nuclear armed. The same thing with Russia – and they were doing nice, they had a puppet in the Kremlin, Boris Yeltsin, who was privatizing everything like crazy and was plundering Russia’s resources to the benefit, hypothetically, of Western corporations. Then Putin took the whole thing upside-down.

So the “War on Terror“ was perfect because Islam was branded as the enemy, and 9/11, it couldn’t have been more convenient because then, what was conceptionalized before, you had the Pearl Harbor element – you could sell it not only to the American public but to world public opinion. But undercover the real agenda of the global “War on Terror,“ which the Pentagon calls “The Long War“ – meaning infinite war – is in fact that there are two emerging powers that pose a real serious threat to the United States.

Russia basically because it is nuclear armed. At that time they were not thinking about Russia as a major oil and gas exporter – this was before [Vladimir] Putin re-organized Gazprom, so that Gazprom would become the top international major in oil and gas. And China, which at that time, ten years ago, the Americans were looking at it as still struggling, maybe there would be a peasant revolt, whatever, they didn’t think that China was the big competitor. And now, of course, they have 3.2 trillion U.S. dollars in foreign reserves and U.S. treasury bonds etc. (laughs.)

The perfect pretext was 9/11, but undercover the war for energy resources in the Persian Gulf and Central Asia intensified, and they had the neo-con masterplan, which incredibly is being implemented now, which is to destabilize this “Arc of Instability,“ this is Pentagon-coined, of course, from the Maghreb through Northern Africa across the Middle East and all the way to Central Asia via Afghanistan/Pakistan – which is the intersection between Central Asia and South Asia – up to the Chinese border in Xinjiang.

So they needed to implement their strategy, which was conceptionalized finally after 9/11 – this is the Pentagon’s “Full Spectrum Dominance“ doctrine, which is something you will never ever read about in the U.S. mainstream press or in the European mainstream press for that matter. Since 2002 the “Full Spectrum Dominance“ doctrine is the official Pentagon doctrine. It is intrinsically linked to America’s National Security – we have to be the predominant power not only on land, on sea and in the air but also in cyberspace and outerspace. That is the essence of the “Full Spectrum Dominance“ doctrine.

[Compare for example Jim Garamone (American Forces Press Service): “Joint Vision 2020 Emphazises Full Spectrum Dominance“, published June 2, 2000 at the website of the U.S. Department of Defense underhttp://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=45289 ] 

This is being applied now after the “Arab Spring,“ and that’s incredible because nobody is talking about it also. Everybody was saying at the beginning: Wow, finally the Arabs are “awakening,“ but that is too hard a  term, as it means that the Arabs were sleeping for the past 100 years – that is not true.

“Spring“ is also not really the right word, I would say that it is a process of enhanced consciousness of the working classes and the middle classes in Tunisia, in Egypt, in Bahrain and other parts of the Middle East as well. And then came the counter-revolution, and this process of counter-revolution is leading directly to the implementation of further steps of the “Full Spectrum Dominance“ doctrine.

We can go back to this later on, but basically what I’m trying to say is that the counter-revolution, orchestrated by the U.S. and especially by the House of Saud, re-instrumentalized what has happened in Tunisia and Egypt, they unleashed the counter-revolution in the Persian Gulf, they try to bribe the military dictatorship in Egypt to keep it that way as a military dictatorship (they gave already 4 billion U.S. dollars to the Tantawi junta, and more is coming from Saudi Arabia), and meanwhile in Central Asia the United States is trying to re-organize itself because suddenly they have noticed that they are losing terrain to who else? China and Russia.

This in terms of oil and gas deals between China and Russia themselves, between Turkmenistan and China, between all these players and Iran as well – Russia and China have very close cooperation with Iran in their oil and gas fields.

So the Americans are saying: Okay, how do we re-organize the whole thing? The “War on Terror“ for all practical purposes is more or less over in the Pentagon way of seeing the world. Now it’s back to “Full Spectrum Dominance“ – we have to control the whole thing. So this means control of the Mediterranean Sea as a NATO lake, which was what they have implementated in Libya and now will try to implement in Syria; control the rest of Africa, sending troops to Uganda like Obama did a few weeks ago, which is not only Uganda but the heart of Central Africa, it’s Uganda, South Sudan, Central African Republic and Congo – lots of oil, lots of minerals, lots of rare earths as well, all extremely precious.

So the West has to be there and the U.S. has to be in control, forget about China. This means raving up AFRICOM, the African Command sitting in Stuttgart, Germany, and soon probably sitting in Benghazi, Libya.

I was talking to people from the European Union in Brussels a few days ago, some smart dissidents who don’t agree with what they are doing, and they told me off the record: Look, there is going to be a military base in Libya, this was the project right from the beginning.

There will not be a lot of European boots on the ground, it’s going to be Turkish, Qatari, UAE, those mercenaries that get trained by Blackwater – now Xe – in the United Arab Emirates, these people will be part of this base and it’s going to be the base that NATO and AFRICOM wanted in North African territory.

For me the number one answer to your question is this: the “War on Terror“ was a diversion that lasted more or less ten years. Now even the Pentagon, the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency, the Obama administration, everybody is saying out loud: “al-Qaeda is operationally ineffective” – these are their own words.

Virtually everybody is dead, apart from al-Zawahiri and the new guy that they have named to be their military commander, but I can’t even remember his name, they have a new one every week or so. Everybody is dead, they are not in Afghanistan anymore, they have a few trainers in the tribal areas in the Waziristans, they are ineffective in the rest of the world, though, of course, they are in power now in Tripoli because the West has used them. Those guys were trained in a military camp north of Kabul.

I was there in this place in early 2001, and I was told that they had a lot of Libyans there. And yes, these Libyans were the guys from the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, LIFG, and they were trained in this camp north of Kabul, it was very easy to go there. So now they are in Libya, the military commander of Tripoli, Abdelhakim Belhadj, with his cohorts, they are very well armed, very well trained, they will not go away, and these al-Qaeda-linked jihadis were used by the West with no second thoughts.

 Would you say that al-Qaeda, now as a phantom and in the “good old days“ as a real force, was an useful tool for the foreign policy of the U.S.A.?

Pepe Escobar: Yes, of course it was! It was the perfect excuse because they kept them to try to implement “Full Spectrum Dominance“ anywhere that they could. In Central Asia they were very active – until maybe two years ago – during the Bush administration.

Remember that Cheney used to go to Central Asia every two or three months at that time. The U.S. tried to strike deals directly with the Kazakhs, with the Turkmen, and especially with the Azerbaijanis – the Azerbaijani elite is very close with the Republicans in the U.S. So Dick Cheney was there all the time.

And their special ambassador, who is still working for the Obama administration, Richard Morningstar, is the oil envoy of Washington to Central Asia, he knows the area well, he knows all the players. The Americans tried to pressure them: don’t do deals with Russia, don’t do deals with China, bypass Iran and do deals with us. What is happening now? They did deals with Russia, they did deals with China, they did not bypass Iran and they didn’t do any deals with the Americans. (laughs.)

Usually, people expect when you do a war that you want to win it. But isn’t it the case in Central Asia that a perpetual war theater has some advantages for the “military petroleum complex” (as economist James K. Galbraith called it) vis-à-vis China and Russia? [For the term “military-petroleum complex” compare James K. Galbraith: “Unbearable Costs of Empire”, originally published by The American Prospect magazine, November 2002, republished at Third World Travelor.]

Pepe Escobar: Yes, but the problem is that they don’t know who they are dealing with. They forget cultural factors, they forget that Turkmen, for instance, are very independent and prefer to do deals with people who speak the same language, which is Russian. If the middleman Medvedev goes to Ashgabat to talk to President Berdimuhamedov in Russian it is much easier to clinch a deal.

Or if the Chinese go to Ashgabat, they say: Look, we build anything you want and we even build a pipeline ourselves. So give us a good rate for your gas and we build this pipeline tomorrow from eastern Turkmenistan to western China. This is exactly what they did, two years ago the pipeline was inaugurated. And this applies to the Africans as well: there are no conditionalities, there is no interference in internal politics.

The Americans tried this for a while, like with Uzbekistan and this guy who boils his own people, Islam Karimov. They had a very close understanding with the Bush administration, and the U.S. had a military base in Karimabad near the Afghan border during the Bush years, which was very helpful to the Americans, but afterwards they started to criticize human rights in Uzbekistan – so what did the Uzbeks say? No more base, bye bye! And they are part of this pipeline that goes from Turkmenistan to China via Uzbekistan. They changed tactics a bit, but at the end the Americans lost the plot.

Now the Americans are realizing that they were losing terrain to both Russia and China in Central Asia, so they redeployed in the Persian Gulf, in northern Africa and inside Africa as well. Libya will be very helpful for new oil and gas explorations. The Libyans say that they will keep the contracts that they have with the Italians – there is this gas pipeline from northern Libya to Sicily and the shipments to Italy. But the new contracts will go to Total, BP and the Americans, not to the Russians and the Chinese.

Libya was, is and will be profitable for Western energy majors. In Central Asia their only hope is Azerbaijan, because they more or less control the energy business in Azerbaijan, and like I have said, the elites work as a satrapy of Washington, basically. But the problem is that they cannot control Turkmenistan. They’ve been pressuring Turkmenistan to build Nabucco, the pipeline. Nabucco will cost a fortune, it will cost around 20 billion euros, nobody knows where this money is coming from, especially in a European crisis.

The Turkmen say that they can provide enough gas, but nobody knows if they actually have that kind of gas, because they are swapping gas with Iran, they are selling a lot of gas to China, and they are still selling gas via the old Soviet pipeline. Nabucco is going to need a lot of gas and nobody knows if Turkmenistan has it. And the Turkmen still say: you need to prove us that you have the investment for the pipeline, which can be built within the next three to four years, so that we can commit our gas reserves to this pipeline.

But this means, if Turkmenistan does not have enough gas, the Europeans have to find it somewhere else, and it shouldn’t be in Azerbaijan, unless they spend over 22 billion U.S. dollars in new investment.

So while everybody is stuck, the Russians built two pipelines: North Stream and South Stream. Putin is winning the war against Nabucco because he started first and he made deals with governments, with Gerhard Schröder of Germany for North Stream and with Silvio Berlsconi of Italy for South Stream. So North and South Stream is winning against Nabucco, because they still don’t know where the money is coming from, they don’t know if they will have enough gas, and they don’t know where they are finding the gas if it is not in Turkmenistan or in Azerbaijan.

Turkey wants to have a lot of the gas for itself as well, plus the transit fees, it is an absolute mess. I keep reading these official pronouncements from Nabucco, which is based in Vienna, and every month or so there is an official communication: it is going to work, we have the 20 billion euros, it will be ready in 2017, we will start next year – but we are hearing this for the past five years, if I’m not mistaken.

Another central problem is the opium / heroin trade in Afghanistan. What are your observation with regards to this problem? Who are the major players in that business? And would you say that this whole affair is a shame for the West?

Pepe Escobar: Oh, yes. One of the major players has always been Ahmed Ali Karzai, Hamid Karzai’s brother. I met him after 9/11 in Quetta, he was always living in Quetta because this was his perfect base. Quetta is a fascinating place. I would say it is the smuggling capital of the East – and that’s no mean feat because you are competing with Hong Kong, you are competing actually with everybody, with the Russians, with the Ukrainian mafia.

In Quetta you have a transportation mafia, you have a heroin mafia, and from Quetta all these networks start to diversify. There is one network that goes through northern Pakistan and goes to Tajikistan, they is another one that bifurcates in Tajikistan and goes towards Central Asia and from Central Asia to Turkey.

So there are these Pakistani/Afghan opium networks, there is another Tajik network which is basically refining. Everybody knows there is a CIA network, what we don’t know is exactly what trajectory they follow. Probably it’s a trajectory from Afghanistan via Uzbekistan to get to Turkey, probably flying from Uzbekistan. Everybody has a network.

As far as I know the Chinese mafias don’t have a network in Afghanistan, but maybe soon they will. And this is the major problem for Russia. Whenever you talk to Russian officials about what is the big deal in Afghanistan, they immediately say: There is a drug war against us, and the source is Afghan opium.

They have now more victims related to heroin than they had during the 1980′s with the war in Afghanistan.

Pepe Escobar: You are absolutely right, exactly. This is one of the key focusses for the Russians within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. It’s not only to keep American bases outside of the region, just like the Chinese want as well. It’s to try to find a way to fight these drug, opium mafias. It’s a big problem for Russia, and it’s also a big problem for Iran as well.

For Iran because of the Afghan refugees. The Afghan refugees basically moved to eastern Iran, so if you go to Mashhad in eastern Iran, if you go to the suburbs of Mashhad that’s the opium center, that’s the smuggling center. They cross Afghanistan, they cross via Herat, from Herat to Mashhad with very good roads now it’s like seven hours maximum, and from Mashhad they distribute this opium all across Iran, there is a huge drug problem for Iran as well, and Iran is an observer member of Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and one of the main reasons for them to join the SCO is to try to organize a regional mechanism to fight a real drug war, because these countries are badly suffering from it.

If true, then they are processing heroin in Afghanistan, they are not only growing the opium. And one question that I always ask myself is, who provides the chemicals involved in the manufacturing process? I guess the Afghans don’t have factories to produce acetic acid chloride, do they?

Pepe Escobar: Honestly, I cannot answer this question, but I would say there is outside help involved, it’s true. In Afghanistan they simply cannot process. In fact, the refineries used to be in Tajikistan or in Pakistan, in Quetta, for instance, or in Dushanbe in Tajikistan. The people from the Panjshir valley who deal with the trafficking, everything is concentrated in Dushanbe, 40 minutes to northern Afghanistan by helicopter – and they have their own private helicopters. So I would say yes, there is outside help, and then, of course, it’s specualtion: is it Western outside help? (laughs.)

Is it just by chance that one can have the impression: where energy resources and / or illicit drugs are placed (for example South America, Central Asia, South East Asia), the U.S. military and intelligence is never really far away?

Pepe Escobar: They are, they are everywhere. Though they can’t be in South America at the moment because of what is going on in South America since, I would say, 2002. It’s a geopolitical earthquake, in fact, because the South Americans for the first time in their history with the elections of first Chavez, and then Lula in Brazil in 2002, and then in Ecuador, even in Uruguay, even when Kirschner won in Argentina – they decided: Okay, let’s get our act together now that most of our governments are center-left or at least nominally progressive.

Let’s get our backyard in order, organize ourselves via the Unasur, for instance, the Union of South American countries, and also the Mercosur, which is a commercial/trade union. And let’s try to fight American interference directly. And this is what’s been happening. Remember the failed coup against Chavez in 2002, which was directly organized by Washington, there is extensive proof, you can find it on the net, Eva Golinger, a Venezuelan-American lawyer, she wrote excellent books about it. Okay, and they tried in 2007 to destabilize Bolivia as well, the failed coup in Ecuador over a year ago. So why is it not happening anymore in South America? Because of political, economic and geopolitical unity.

But don’t doubt it, if the Pentagon found an opening to interfere directly in Venezuela again, they will do it. The problem is, now there are Russian advisors over there, there are Chinese traders in Venezuela, Iranian commercial interests as well. Venezuela is not only trading with South America and they are now a member of Mercosur as well, so they are trading a lot with Brazil and Argentina etc., but they are trading with the other side of the world as well – and with two of America’s strategic competitors, plus their nemesis, Iran. So that explains a lot.

Since 2002, South America for the Pentagon is a big, big problem, and no wonder these Republican whacko candidates in their last foreign policy debate, they were saying that Hamas and Hezbollah are all over South America, that they have to pay attention to Latin America because we forget that there are a lot of communists and terrorists over there. It’s no wonder.

But would you say it’s a coincidence, this historical connection between energy resources and illicit drugs? For example, in the Vietnam war.

Pepe Escobar: True, with Air America. Remember, Air America was not only defending civilians in Laos and Vietnam, basically this was a CIA heroin smuggling operation, of course. But the thing is, it’s not necessarily so. I would mention Colombia. Colombia was a completely different case, Colombia was a case of indigenous cartels, they were fighting among themselves to see who would have the monopoly of exporting cocaine to the U.S., I would say there were few American interests here – selling equipment and weapons, yes, but the Americans were not at the forefront of the battle against the cartels.

So when they fragmented, the cartels went all over the place. So now for the past three or four years, it’s the Peruvians who control the distribution of cocaine in South America, it’s not the Colombians anymore.

They delocalized, for instance, to Brazil as a refinery center and an export center as well. I would say every week there’s a major apprehension of coke at Sao Paulo’s International Airport, for instance. So if you multiply this by what really goes through, it’s amazing. Now the airport in Sao Paulo is one of the major shipping routes of cocaine to North America, or to Europe as well. Once there used to be heroin coming from Central Asia via Europe that was landing in Brazil as well. It was funny, there was a time during the 80s, I remember, there was an Italian connection: people would bring heroin from Milan to Sao Paulo, and would take cocaine from Sao Paulo to Milan. (laughs.) That was almost thirty years ago.

In the Colombian case it’s very different. There is not a direct relation between drugs and energy. In Venezuela as well: the only game in town over there is energy, it’s a battle for energy. Hugo Chavez, whatever you think about him, was very clever, because: Okay, my way out is to do deals with other players. So they made a gigantic deal with China, and now they are one of the top suppliers of oil to China.

Soon they will be selling China one million barrels of oil per day, and they could expand to two million easily, if the Chinese invest in the Orinoco region, exploiting the new fields, which they will do, it’s not a priority at the moment, because for the moment the Chinese are concentrated in Siberia, Central Asia, and Africa, But they still have this Plan C or Plan D for them, which is Venezuela.

 Do they also count on Brazil as an oil exporter?

Pepe Escobar: Definitely, because of the pre-salt deposits in Brazil, which is a kind of mixed blessing, in fact. Petrobras is regarded all over the world as one of the most competent national oil companies. The problem is they have to develop this specific technology to perforate this salt layer to extract the oil. It’s an extremely complex and extremely expensive operation. They say they will start in 2017, I doubt it.

The last figure that I saw in terms of investment that they needed, this was a few months ago, they were talking about 220 to 240 billion U.S. dollars of investment over the next few years to start extracting oil from the pre-salt layer. Everybody wants to be part of it. Chevron is already here, Exxon Mobil, Gazprom wants to be here, and of course the Chinese. And I’m sure when the Brazilians start issuing tenders, the Chinese are going to be at the forefront, all of their companies, CNPC, CNOOC, all of them.

But this is a long term project for the Chinese, of course, because in a realistic assessment there’s not going to be oil from the pre-salt layer before 2019/2020, so the Chinese are thinking ahead.

We hear quite a lot about the BRICS. Would you say this is just a nice name once given by Goldman Sachs or is there more behind it, a comprehensive strategy, something like this?

Pepe Escobar: They still don’t have a comprehensive strategy. It used to be a nice name in 2001/2002; not anymore, because now they are meeting regularly, not only an official annual meeting, but their foreign ministers are meeting, their deputy foreign ministers are meeting just like they did in St. Petersburg recently for that matter. Their interests are more or less the same in terms of: for Russia and China to keep the U.S. out of their backyard, which is basically Central Asia and the former Soviet Republics.

For Brazil it’s to keep the Americans out of South America as much as humanly possible, considering that the relations between Brazil and the U.S. are very, very close, and the United States still regards Brazil as a key ally in Latin America. It’s a very complicated foreign policy game between Brazil and the U.S.

For India, they want to be in the same group of all emerging countries as well, but without antagonizing the U.S. too much, so they have a difficult game to play as well. South Africa was included basically so that they would have a continental span, so that three continents were represented.

I would say from the point of view of the BRICS, and in fact they discussed this in Brasilia over a year ago – the fifth BRIC would be Turkey, it would be BRICT actually, but at the last minute they decided to include South Africa, because they said: we need the largest economy from Africa as well, and because Brazil and South Africa and India started to trade among themselves much more over the past 4 years than over the past 400. Brazil and South Africa are integrating very closely, and South Africa is the bridge between Brazil and India.

So it would suit all of these three players. But soon the BRICS might include – I say “might“ because they started discussing but still don’t know how to do it as a formal mechanism: Turkey, Indonesia and South Korea, which are natural candidates, there is no question about it. Two in Asia and one in the Middle East, the intersection between Europe and Asia.

So they started to talk about more integration in terms of our economies, cultural exchanges, all those bla-bla-bla’s…now they are thinking: Okay, we need geopolitically to pound our fist on the table, even if very softly in the beginning. So it started in Libya, they abstained from voting UN 1973, which was already a big step. They were mildly condemned by the Europeans and the Americans for that. But they said, this is still not a red line, this is a very, very yellow line, we cannot afford to antagonize the Americans at this point.

And then came the latest proposal for a UN Security Council vote on Syria, and the BRICS immediately said: No way, this is the red line. For many reasons, because Russia and China have very good deals with Syria. Brazil and Syria are very close. There are millions of Syrians living in Brazil and Syrian-Libanese living in Brazil, so in Brazil people call them Syrian-Libanese, it’s indinstinctive for most people here because they started coming in the 1920′s, 1930′s, and after the Second World War as well, they are very well integrated in Brazilian society, and there is lots of commercial deals between Brazil and Syria. These are some of the reasons why they have a common position for this as well.

As for South Africa, it is evident. The first time they voted for the UN resolution, they were pressured by Obama, Obama called president Zuma, they were on the phone for two hours or so, and Obama said: Look, you got to vote for us, otherwise you are going to be in trouble. So Zuma voted against his will. And later he was part of the African Union delegation to organize a peace deal between the rebels and Gaddafi. And the Gaddafi regime said yes, the rebels said no. Why? Because NATO told them to say no.

So South Africa had their reasons, too. Syria is the red line. So now they are starting to organize their geopolitical approach vis-à-vis the Atlanticist West in a much more coordinated way. And in terms of economics, they are putting pressure on the IMF to give more voting power rights to Brazil and China.

There are three guys as regional chair directors at the IMF, and the Chinese and the Brazilians are saying for years: we need more directors and we need more voting rights. That was part of the discussion, remember when the Brazilian minister of finance said: Look, maybe we can devise a mechanism to help the struggling European economies. That was their message to say: The thing goes to the IMF, and we want to be there, we want more voting rights, and then we decide if we can help or not, but this has to be within the IMF mechanism.

Yes, they are definitely coordinating much more than they were, I would say, two years ago. Soon BRICS is going to be BRICTS, BRICTIISS, an expanded BRIC. But now it is configured as a counterpower in geopolitical terms, in terms of appeal to the developing world, because the appeal by the BRICS to the  Non-Aligned Movement, NAM, for instance, to other countries in South America, to a lot of countries in the Middle East, to many countries in South-East Asia is huge against what is an Atlanticist U.S.-NATO, which is basically the same thing because the U.S. controls NATO.

NATO aligned with the most ultra-reactionary and repressive Persian Gulf monarchies. The realignment of the chessboard is something very tricky now because now these countries, especially Qatar and the Emirates, they are sub-sects of NATO. In one of my pieces recently I was venturing the possibility of soon talking about a NATOGCC, or GCCNATO, Gulf Cooperation Council – I usually call them Gulf Counterrevolutionary Club, because this is what they are.

So the merging between NATO and the GCC now is total. And if we include the merger between the Western military-industrial complex in the U.S. and the Saudi defense system which is total as well, we can say that Pentagon and the GCC is all the same thing.

And the BRICS look at this and for some of them this is extremely complicated, for China, for instance, because still their number one oil supplier is Saudi Arabia. For the moment Saudi Arabia is outrunning Angola. Venezuela is already among the top five. Libya was not among the top five, that’s why they said: Okay, not now, maybe later. But how do they organize the relationship between Beijing and Riyadh, because they see that Riyadh is totally aligned with the Pentagon agenda, and at the same time they depend on their oil, and this explains among other things why the Chinese are so eager to be less and less dependent on Middle Eastern oil.

So this means more deals with Iran. My guess, my more or less informed guess is soon the Chinese will go to Iran and say: How much money do you need to totally upgrade your oil and gas installations? Here it is, but deal with us.

This explains the pipeline from Turkmenistan to China, this explains the two pipelines from Siberia to China, and this explain China in Angola and in Central Africa as well, and this will explain China coming to Brazil as soon as possible, saying: How much money do you want? The Saudi-China relation for Beijing is very complicated, and that means, for now, they they cannot antogonize Saudi Arabia on anything.

Related to the BRICS, do you pay attention to the fact that the central banks of Russia, China and India and also South American central banks are buying gold big time?

Pepe Escobar: Oh, yes! In the moment they are buying gold, and they still have in the backburner the Plan B, which is a basket of currencies in terms of an international currency system. The Russians and the Chinese want it, the Brazilians also want it, it would include probably the U.S. dollar, the euro, yuan, maybe ruble, maybe real as well, maybe yen, but the Japanese are not part of this conversation, and for the moment, of course, it’s to buy gold, including those who are not in this loop but are connected to the loop, Venezuela. Remember Venezuela was repatriating all their gold that they had in European banks, the first shipment already arrived in Caracas.

Do you think there could be some sort a connection in the pricing of oil with gold in the future going ahead?

Pepe Escobar: I don’t know, Lars, honest answer. I don’t know. You know why? I would say it depends on a move connected to bypassing the petrodollar. And this move already started a few years ago. Iran wants to do it badly like yesterday. Russia already said: Yes, we want it. Venezuela already said in South America: Yes, we want it as well. But I think this is the nuclear option. Can you imagine the day when you have major oil producers inside OPEC saying: It’s not going to be the petrodollar anymore, it’s going to be our own currencies or it’s going to be a basket of currencies. That’s basically the end of the American hegemony for good.

The whole country will burn, basically.

Pepe Escobar: Exactly. The whole globe will burn. I see this as the nuclear option. A few years ago when Iran was establishing an energy bourse, in fact, they did, it’s already there.

Since 2008. [Oil Bourse Opens in Kish, published at Fars News Agency on Feb. 18, 2008]

Pepe Escobar: I remember in 2005, I interviewed the guy in charge of establishing this bourse in Tehran. We had a fantastic conversation, and then I got into a big fight with the editor at that time of Asia Times, because he said: If we publish this, the Americans will bomb our site tomorrow.

The Iranians said: This is our first step to entice people to start buying oil contracts with us at our bourse and not in New York or in London. And then I told this guy: You know what you’re doing when this thing goes ahead. You are going to be bombed by the U.S. tomorrow. They said: Yes, we know the risks. But the guy who was implementing this mechanism for us was a former trader in London actually. It was a very complicated messy affair.

After my interview, it took them three years, as you have said, they only established it in 2008. It’s a very small bourse, but as far as the Iranians see it, it’s just the beginning. They like this bourse. They started with petrochemicals first. They start to deal with petrochemicals, oil and gas for the future and they were especially interested in attracting buyers from the developing world plus Russia and China, so that they could buy Iranian energy products in Iran directly. I’m sure, Russia and China loved the idea as well, but for the moment it’s an embryo of something much bigger coming later.

You call the “Great Game 2.0″ in Central Asia / the Greater Middle East “Pipelineistan.” Is it of advantage to be familiar with good ol’ Halford Mackinder (a British geographer credited with being the father of geopolitics) in “Pipelineistan”?

Pepe Escobar: No, the thing is, the people who are familiar with Mackinder are the Brzeziński crowd and people at national security agencies in Washington. They think they can apply Mackinder and win. (laughs.) The Russians and the Chinese would say: Not in our region, guys, here is different. We have the resources. Russia is a continental power. China, it’s a kingdom and a civilization in itself, we don’t admit foreign interference, you are never going to control our part of Eurasia, you can control the euro part of Eurasia, but that stops at the Bosphorus.

To the right of the Bosphorus, Turkey has regional ambitions, Iran has regional ambitions, we have our former Soviet Republics, which we still see as our satellites, South East Asia now is linked to China in terms of trade, commerce, and I would say parts of South East Asia are becoming a sub-sect of China, in fact.

Remember, during the Asian Miracle, when the World Bank launched that famous book in 1993, “The Asian Miracle,“ it was Japan as the lead goose, then the other four tigers right behind it, then the mini-tigers, and China was way behind, and now in 2011 the whole thing is upside down, because it’s China as the larger-than-life goose, and then we have all these mini-gooses behind China trying to keep up and clinch deals as well, because the Chinese diaspora in all these countries is essential.

They control most of the economy in Indonesia, they control most of the economy in Thailand, mixed marriages Thai-Chinese, they control most of the economy in the Philippines, they control a lot of the economy in Malaysia, they control the whole economy in Singapore. Tigers? Not really. Mini-gooses. The whole thing is upside down.

So I don’t see Mackinder being applied. They thought during the Bush administration because of hubris, and because they said, remember, they were saying it on a daily basis practically: We create our own reality, and then you people in the rest of the world have to keep up. They thought that they could implement their new great game strategy in Central Asia by building this pipeline in Afghanistan, finally, the TAPI – Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, bypassing Iran and bypassing Russia and China.

They thought that they could force the Turkmen to sell gas to Western companies and not to China or to be linked to the Russian pipeline network. They were still drunk with their success of the BTC, the Baku- Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, saying this was the beginning of many other pipelines bypassing Iran.

But that was in the beginning of the Bush administration until 2003/2004 after the “success“ of the Iraq war. Now, only a few years later, as we were talking before, they didn’t win anything. In fact, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization which is a mechanism that is counter this proliferation of American initiatives in Central Asia is getting stronger and stronger.

In terms of energy deals, Russia, Iran, China, Turkmenistan, they all are dealing among themselves. Obviously there is space with Europe, but they cannot deal with Europe in the case of Iran because of the sanctions, and in the case of Turkmenistan because to build a pipeline like Nabucco, over 20 billion euros, it’s unfeasible. To give you an idea: BTC cost 4.5 billion U.S. dollars at that time, and at that time everybody was saying: it’s ridiculous to build a pipeline like this when we could have had a shorter route from Iran that probably costs ten times less than this pipeline. They built it anyway. So now it’s 500 percent more than BTC was.

So the Americans are not winning anything, in fact, in Afghanistan they are shooting themselves in the foot, because now they antagonized not only Pakistan, which they did when they began to bomb the country over the last few years with the drone war, they antagonized the Afghans themselves, which were really willing to cut a deal with the Americans. The tribal leaders were even saying let’s talk to the Americans what kind of a base complex they want after they retire in 2014. They were willing to discuss it.

Nowadays, forget it, because Pakistan don’t want to discuss this anymore, they are fed up, and Pakistan and China are getting closer and closer, the Chinese are going to exploit this rift between Washington and Islamabad. In Afghanistan, there will be a total mess, they don’t want American bases, I’m sure, after 2014, so the Pentagon has to force these bases over to Afghan controls, we still don’t know the road map for this as well. So if you analyze in terms of successes of the new great game American-style in Eurasia over the past four or five years, there is not much to show. (laughs.)

If one would address the question: “Why do wars happen at all?”, would you say that the fact that bankers are at the top of the list of beneficiaries of wars is an important part of the answer, insofar for example:

[Editor: For background, see J.S. Kim: “Inside The Illusory Empire Of The Banking Commodity Con Game“, published at The Underground Investor on Oct. 19, 2010: “The U.S. Federal Reserve creates money to fund the war and lends it to the American government. The American government in turn must pay interest on the money they borrow from the Central Bank to fund the war. The greater the war appropriations, the greater the profits are for bankers.”]

Pepe Escobar: I agree if there were a lot of war appropriations, if the looting is conducive. In Iraq it didn’t happen. The looting in Iraq would supposedly be the oil that would not only pay for the war, but for America’s supply of oil for the next 1,000 years or so, the new American Reich based on Iraqi oil. Didn’t work.

We had a fascinating historical lesson of what happened in Iraq. The neocons thought in the beginning, obviously, because they knew absolutely [nothing] about the Middle East, they don’t even travel, they don’t even go there, they thought: Okay, this will cost us virtually nothing, we will make the Iraqis pay for the whole thing later on, and then when the oil comes, that’s it. Remember what they used to say: We’re the new OPEC, this was in late 2002/03.

Didn’t work. And now we have a different, let’s say, variant of the model, that you’ve just explained: wars paid by foreign powers. China is financing the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, part of the war in Libya, it didn’t cost much, but anyway, still the war in Libya, the war in Somalia, the war in Yemen, the next war in Uganda or Sudan that the U.S. decides to start. This is being financed basically by Chinese buying U.S. treasury bonds. It’s a variant of the model.

In an article for al-Jazeera you’ve once quoted a study related to the cost of the War on Terror, published by the Eisenhower project at Brown University. [Pepe Escobar: “Why the US won’t leave Afghanistan“, published at Al Jazeera on July 12, 2011] Do you remember? 

Pepe Escobar: Yes, I do.

And the costs were four billion?

Pepe Escobar: Yes, depending on the variables, depending on the medical costs for the injured veterans in the U.S., which escalate and go on forever, because they still have to pay pensions for these people, it could be between four and six trillion U.S. dollars. So what did the U.S. get for these four to six trillion dollars so far? We can say, so far they only got Libya, which is not exactly a priority for them.

It was part of the original neocon plan – it starts with Iraq, then Lebanon, Syria, especially Iran. For the moment the only thing they get is Libya. That’s why Syria is so important because Syria is the way to Iran, and it is still the same what the neocons said in 2002, and it is still part of the Full Spectrum Dominance doctrine. We always come back to the same themes, because these themes are the basis of what we are watching nowadays.

Do you think that the war in Libya qualifies as a Resource War, not only related to oil and maybe the gold currency that Gaddafi wanted to issue, but also related to the Great Man Made River project?

Pepe Escobar: Yes, I was going to say that, Lars, absolutely, it’s a water war already. I was writing a few months ago a long story about coming water wars – no, it’s not coming, they are already here. This was the first big water war, if you think about it. There is going to be a lot of water wars in the Middle East, Southern Turkey, Israel-Palestine, but this one is big because of the Great Man Made River project – over 20 billion U.S. dollars financed by the Libyan government, by Gaddafi, with a lot of Canadian expertise involved.

And no money from the International Monetary Fund.

Pepe Escobar: Especially that! No money from the IMF and from those schemes at the World Bank when you have to keep paying interest until you die three times over. They built this by themselves and they imported the technology that they needed, and they built an indigenous pipeline system undercover in the southern desert to bring water to the coast line in Libya. It’s absolutely fantastic because they have a reservoir of fresh water in the southern desert that lasts according to the best estimates for a thousand years. A thousand years of fresh water.

Can you imagine, the project isn’t even totally completed, I think 80 percent are completed. Obviously, the three major water companies in the world are French, and in my opinion this explains 99 percent of the French rationale for the war. They want to privatize these one thousand years of fresh water and sell it to the whole planet. And then we have Sarkozy and the interests of the industrial-military complex in France, we need more gas and oil for Total, which they were always complaining that they always wanted the lion’s share of Libya’s energy exports.

There is an alliance of the Qataris, the industrial-military complex in France and Sarkozy, who is basically a lackey of these people, and the Qataris wanted to be involved in trade and commerce in Northern Africa. NATO and AFRICOM interests in establishing a beach head. There were so many interests. Gaddafi couldn’t win from the beginning because all these interests in the axis Pentagon, NATO, key European countries like France and England, and the monarchies of Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and House of Saud as well, because they wanted to bring Gaddafi down because there was a bad beef between King Abdullah and Gaddafi since 2002, before the invasion of Iraq.

Gaddafi couldn’t possibly face this, too many powerful interests were behind it, they wanted to renegotiate the contracts, they wanted the new oil and gas contracts to go only to European and American companies, maybe Turkish companies, but not to BRICS countries, and Gaddafi, he was interviewed by German journalists two or three days before the resolution was passed, and he said explicitly: If you attack us, the next contracts are going to BRIC countries – so he was attacked three days later. (laughs.) Absolutely obvious.

And what you’ve mentioned, very importent as well: the gold dinar, because the gold dinar could have been an African currency, he could have financed development projects in Sub-Saharan Africa, he was already doing this, financing a lot of projects in Sub-Saharan African countries, and he was bypassing completely the Bretton Woods system and this from the point of view of Washington, the Bank of International Settlements, all this gangit’s a no-no, it’s an absolute no-no. And remember, when Saddam started selling oil in euro in Iraq in late 2002. Major reason for the invasion as well.

Do you think it was good for the Benghazi “rebels“ to establish a central bank that is in bed with Western central banks?

Pepe Escobar: This is what they wanted. In fact, these people of the Transition National Council, which is bag of dodgy cats – opportunists, former Gaddafi officials, Islamists linked to al-Qaeda from Cyrenaica, exiles living in Virginia, come on! This is a bloody tragic joke, in fact. And of course, from the beginning, they had a Qatari connection: one of the advisors of Sheika Moza, the wife of the Emir of Qatar, was the link between Qatar and the Transition National Council.

So why Qatar got this independent central bank based in Benghazi, obviously, Qatari influence, because they wanted to get into the financial and the trade system in Northern Africa, they are expanding. Qatar is a fast-expanding mini empire. It’s very, very impressive. I remember Doha ten years ago, it was a backwater. I remember very well. I used to go Iraq via Qatar. I saw it growing year by year, and nowadays when you arrive in Doha, you think you are in a mini-Hong Kong already.

And their tentacles are everywhere: in Europe, in the U.S., in the Middle East, of course, and northern Africa as well, they trade heavily with Asia, they are setting their sights in Brazil nowadays. So it’s very impressive. And their move in Northern Africa was very clever, because they are now localized in Northern Africa, and, as they hope, the rest of Africa: We want to trade with everybody, we have a very good banking system, we sell gas to anyone who wants to buy. Mini-empire in the make.

What do we have to expect in the next year related to Syria and Iran. These are allies, right?

Pepe Escobar: Yes. Well, this is the multi-trillion-dollar question. I would go to Iran as soon as I can, the problem for us to get a press visa to Iran, after the Green Movement in 2009, it’s very difficult. You need a press visa to go to Iran, because if you want to talk to the IRGC, for instance, officials, people from the govenment, you need that kind of visa. I am going to try again, exactly to get from those people their point of view, and I am talking especially about the IRGC commanders, the people in the oil industry, and of course, in order to talk to average Tehranians, which is something that I have always enjoyed doing.

In the North of Tehran, you think you are in California. In South Tehran, you know you are in the hardcore heart of the Middle East. There are two universes in one city, and the spectrum of opinions that you get just by a fourty minute taxi ride, is absolutely outstanding. You see people who want to kill Rafsanjani the day they’d meet him, you see people defending the ayatollahs strictly, you see people saying, without the Green Movement we’re lost. It’ a universe in itself.

And the echoes that I get from my friends who live there or from Iranians who send me a lot of stuff is: people are consuming, they are living their lives, there is lots of inflation, prices have been rising substantially, but they want to go out, try to buy an iPad that was smuggled from China, they want to have a new European car that they can afford, they want to keep eating meat, which is very funny, because the Brazilian meat that they import is cheaper than the Iranian-produced meat. Go figure! You have that kind of stuff.

And at the same time, they know that something is brewing. It could be an Israeli strike, it could be a U.S.-Israeli strike, it could be a strike only on the nuclear facilities, but a lot of people fear a strike on the civilian infrastructure. They always say: Look, what happened to Iraq. They attacked civilian buildings – yes, it’s true, I saw it for myself.

People are expecting the worst. They are trying to keep a brave face, but they immediately recognize there is a power struggle inside the regime between the Ahmadinejad faction and the revolutionary guards ultra-hardline faction, which is against Ahmadinejad because he wants some sort of a compromise with the West. These IRGC guys, they want confrontation.

This is very dangerous. Why? Because the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khameinei, is supporting this faction against Ahmadinejad. He wants Iran to be respected for what it is, and we can assume that he is welcoming this confrontation. This is extremely dangerous, because we could have an incident that would be the casus belli for an attack, an Israeli-Anglo-American attack, let’s put it this way.

People are very much aware of this, and they are very much afraid of this power struggle at the top of the regime. At the same time, next year they will have parliamentary elections, and they are going to have Presidential elections in 2013, where the favorite, at least for the moment, is Larijani, he is a former nuclear negotiator and a close friend and protege of Khamenei’s. This means the hardliners are very much in power and control, and incredibly as it might seem, Ahmadinejad at the moment he is more or less sidelined, and he is considered by these hardliners as an appeaser vis-à-vis the West.

So the internal situation inside Iran is extremely worrying. And they know what might happen in Syria, and they know that Syria is the short cut to get to them. But at the same time the hardliners they are not only expecting an attack on Syria, in fact, they say: maybe they won’t even use the short cut, maybe they will attack us directly. So they are preparing for this as well. Everything very worrying.

Do you perceive a similar mood in Israel?

Pepe Escobar: I don’t know. I have a lot of Jewish friends in South America, in the U.S. and in Europe, they come and go to Israel, and when they come back, they say: Look, people are lost in Israel, they don’t know how to deal with the Arab Spring, the regime doesn’t know how to deal with the Arab Spring, they don’t even know how to deal with the the non-Spring in Syria, because they expect what might come next as even worst, like a Muslim Brotherhood antagonistic government in Damascus. Which is a no-no for Israel.

They prefer to deal with the devil they know, which is an ineffectual devil, the Assad regime. There is a civil society movement, very strong in Israel, against corruption, inflation and rising costs of living, they are anti-war and anti-government as well.

And then we have a government that is a hostage of this absolutely disgusting settler lobby. Extreme right-wing, Lieberman-Ukrainian immigrants, it’s horrible, because the progressive left in Israel, you read them in the Israeli press once in a while, but they have been marginalized. Even inside the U.S.: the progressive Jews in the U.S., they are more or less marginalized, because AIPAC is controlling the discourse.

If you listen to radio, read the mainstream press, watch the networks, it’s like an AIPAC press release after another. You don’t see Jewish progressives saying: It’s crazy, what we are doing, we have to sit down and talk about Palestine, sit down and talk about the Golan Heights, about Iran. This is a minority position.

Whereas the majority is supported by the Evangelics and new-born Christians in the U.S., who believe in Armaggedon.

Pepe Escobar. Exactly. You have the majority of the establishment who wants to have an Eretz Israel, a greater Israel, and the religious nuts, who say: Okay, the best way to (expedite) Armaggedon is a war against our neighbours.

The maniacs are running the asylum.

Pepe Escobar: Yes, it’s crazy. I would say, since the beginning of the Arab Spring, 2011 was the year that the maniacs took over the asylum completely. And that’s why 2012 could be such a really terrible year, I think, for all this arc: Northern Africa, Middle East and Central Asia. In Central Asia basically Af/Pak, because the situation in Af/Pak tends to be going down the drain very fast.

What’s your take of the recent assault by NATO troops on Pakistan? [See “’Mistakes made’: Pentagon ‘regrets’ slaughter of 24 Pakistani troops“, published at Russia Today on Dec. 22, 2011]

Pepe Escobar: This is a very complex thing, because maybe there’s a hidden motive behind it, and we still don’t know what it could be. Could be that some Pakistani provoked it, could be that NATO itself provoked it to have a better excuse to ramp up the demonization of Pakistan campaign, try to provoke a military coup, so that the factions within the Pakistani military who are more pro-American are running the show. It’s still very murky.

But there is something behind this attack that makes no sense: NATO knows where all the Pakistani checkpoints are in the tribal areas, they have the maps and the coordinates, they simply cannot bomb a Pakistani military checkpoint, because they know that it is a friendly place, it’s not that they were bombing a Pashtun wedding in Waziristan in a mud house, where the satellite said: This house is full of al-Qaeda, bomb them – boom! It’s different. Our writers in India and Pakistan are not convinced by the official story. Short of calling it a lie, it’s still a story to tell.

But it is a problem, because Pakistan and China have the closest relations to each other possible.

Pepe Escobar: Yes, and anything that happens in Pakistan from now on, drives Islamabad closer and closer to Bejing, it’s absolutely inevitable. Pakistani public opinion is fed up with American interference, with the relentless drone war and the loss of their sovereignty if they had ever had any, by the way.

And of course, the Chinese are reacting typically, they are very quiet, they are not making any move, they are just waiting for the leadership in Islamabad to come running to Bejing and say: Take care of us, please. And it is not very hard with the way the Americans are acting. The only two things that matters to Washington; they don’t give a flying fuck – excuse me for the expression – about the Pakistani people. What they cared about was the “War on Terror“ to exterminate al-Qaeda.

So now they are saying openly and on the record, that al-Qaeda is ineffective, since the death of bin Laden – was it bin Laden or not is still open for speculation, but they killed al-Qaeda. So what are they doing in Af/Pak? Oh, now we have a problem, because Pakistan is a very unstable country, they are now the heartbeat of the terrorist movement in the world, it’s not Aghanistan anymore, and can you imagine if these nuclear weapons fall into the hand of the terrorists.

This is the only thing that matters. They want to find a pretext to interfere in Pakistan to get a hold of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. It’s an extremely long shot, of course, but this is what the Pentagon would like to do. This is their agenda.

The political elite in Pakistan apart from Imran Khan, I would say, is corrupt. Imran Khan by himself is not a corrupt man, he is getting a hundred thousand people everytime he speaks in public in Pakistan, because they start to see him as an alternative. He says: Let’s get rid of the Americans, let’s get rid of the corrupt political elite, let’s get the military to stay in their barracks, let’s have a true civilian government, let’s try to develop the country and try to bridge the inequality gap. That’s why he is so popular now, he could win the next elections.

But basically, Pakistani civil society is fed up with the state of things. And for the Americans this is really bad news, because they want since Zia to have the military in control basically, doing what the Pentagon tells them to do, and for the past few years conduct their “War on Terror“ the way they want it from their bases inside Pakistan, like this one in Balochistan,

Samsi, and the drone war in the Waziristans, but this is not going to happen anymore, I don’t see it happening. The Chinese are just waiting. I think they will admit Pakistan to the SCO, this is something that could happen next year, so Pakistan would be inside a meachanism that implies military cooperation with the Chinese.

The problem is that the Pakistani military is not a monolithic organization, there are layers, there are people who were appointed by Musharraf, there are people, like some Pashtun middle-ranking officers, who are sympathetic to the Taliban in Pakistan or even al-Qaeda, and there are cracks inside this arrangement. And I am sure the army leaders, their relationship with the Pentagon is more than difficult at the moment, especially after the last raid, which was an attack against their own, this was an attack against an army post. This is for them a bit too much.

Anti-Americanism is on the raise everywhere in the world.

Pepe Escobar: Except in the Persian Gulf. (laughs.)

Would you say it’s a bit tragic given the friendliness of the ordinary American people?

Pepe Escobar: It’s true. I have been going to the U.S. since I was a kid, I traveled to at least 40 states, I lived there on both coasts, I have friends in the U.S., a lot of people who read my stuff know where I am coming from, but I also have a lot of readers who are saying: you are a Taliban-Communist-Apocalyptic-Anti-American bla-bla-bla – the whole thing. They still don’t get it.

One thing is to be very fond of the country and American pop culture, American entertainment, American icons in music, in literature, in cinema, in architecture, in art etc., and another thing is to criticize their foreign policy. If you grew up like myself, I grew up in Brazil and Europe during the 1960/70′s – the military dictatorship installed in Brazil in 1964, when I was ten years old, was an American coup.


Pepe Escobar: We learned here in South America by ourselves what it means to live under a military dictatorship sponsored by the U.S. So we know what we are talking about. Obviously, the people in the Middle East also know what they are talking about. Some people in Asia also know what they are talking about, like the South Koreans, for instance, they lived under a military regime sanctioned by the U.S. before they became a democracy.

So it’s very tragic that after the beginning of the Arab Spring, a lot of people in the Persian Gulf haven’t seen already that they live in extremely autocratic regimes, they are vassals and satrapies of the U.S. empire, and they simply cannot count on their own governments to get the minimum of sovereignty.

So when you see indigenous pro-democracy movements in Bahrain or in Eastern Saudi Arabia, you see how the response is. Even in Egypt, where they said: Let’s get finally rid of the system once and for all – they didn’t get rid of the system, the snake is still there, and the snake is being financed by Saudi Arabia.

There was no revolution in Egypt, the revolution maybe will start if they get rid of the Tantawi junta, which is what the masses in Tahrir Square, the Google generation and the working class in Egypt want. But the problem is the army in Egypt controls – there are different estimates about it – from 25 to 40 percent of the Egyptian economy, they are not going to give that up. It’s got to be a real bloody revolution for these people to go, and obviously the U.S. don’t want this.

As a geopolitical analyst would you say that the future of Germany is much more in the East of Eurasia (Russia, China) than in New York and London?

Pepe Escobar: I would love to pose this question to you. My maybe wild guess is that Germany wants to integrate more with Russia.

Yes. Well, the economic and political elites here in this country [Germany] are still aligned to the U.S.

 Pepe Escobar: Exactly.

As you could see when Angela Merkel as the chancellor of Germany received the highest civilian medal this year in Washington DC, the “Medal of Freedom.“ She has now something in common with Duke Ellington, because he received it once, too (in 1969). But the thing is that I think this is telling.

Pepe Escobar: It is. That’s the problem with Germany, because it’s an Atlanticist thing, but they know that their future in terms of all the raw materials and the commodities that they need they can have from Russia. They can have the rest of the world as their market, which they already have. It’s a fabulous exporting power. They don’t have to be subjugated to this Atlanticist link, definitely not. But as you have said correctly: the elites in Berlin and Frankfurt are still very Americanized.

For me both as a journalist and from my perspective as a German, it is interesting that you are familiar with my favorite German of all-time, Heinrich Heine…

Pepe Escobar: Heine!

…who was also a journalist.

Pepe Escobar: Unfortunately, I only read him in translation. Wonderful translations in English and in Spanish. I never read him in German, but German friends tell me that his German is absolutely outstanding.

Yes, together with people like Nietzsche, Schopenhauer and Goethe he is at the very top.

Pepe Escobar: I was a major Nietzsche fan for some years. One of my best philosophy professors, he was a Nietzsche specialist, a French guy, Gerard Lebrun, he was one of the best Nietzsche scholars in France. I learned a lot from him. And Nietzsche is still one of my go-to guys.

And he was a fan of Heine’s poetry, too.

Pepe Escobar: Yes, he was a fan of Heine’s poetry, exactly.

From a journalistic point of view, do you think that journalism in the West is in a profound crisis?

Pepe Escobar: Oh yes. I give you two personal examples. One of the reasons why I wanted to become a journalist was Watergate. I was in college at that time, I was 19, and I hadn’t decided at that time what to do, I thought maybe visual arts, and I was always a big fan of literature, but I thought with literature I cannot made a living.

Then I wanted to become a journalist, and that, Watergate, was my role model in the profession. Later on, before digital journalism, I worked for big national papers, I got the insight of how the industry works. A big national paper is basically a corporate institution, they operate more or less the same all over the world.

Then I became seriously disenchanted about it, I wouldn’t say disgusted, not yet. I became disgusted, finally, with mainstream media after the beginning of the “War on Terror“ and before the war in Iraq, because then most of the credibility of the mainstream press in the world disappeared.

When you see the New York Times printing lies in their front page everyday for months, that was for me the end of respectable mainstream journalism. And papers like Le Monde, that I used to read since I was in high-school for that matter, they became an Americanized rag like a bad copy of the New York Times, and sometimes even more reactionary. It’s a bit sad that I don’t read German papers, because at least their cultural sections are still the best in the world.

And the modern German “Feuilleton“ is more or less an invention by Heinrich Heine…

Pepe Escobar: I used to read a lot of the English papers, but you can’t sometimes even trust the gold standard of English media, like the Guardian or the Independent, who were historically very strong center, left, progressive papers. So this disenchantment became total this past decade, I may say. You have to go to the net, if you want to find information that connects the dots, it’s in the net, it’s not in mainstream media anymore. And my friends who still work at big papers, they tell me: Look, it’s impossible to discuss with our editors what should and what should not be printed. It’s over.

Would you say that the whole handling of affairs related to 9/11 was a big push for alternative media?

Pepe Escobar: It was, because if you wanted to know after 9/11 what was really going on – forget about mainstream media anywhere in the world. The only place where you could find it was in the net – independent observers and analysts, who took the trouble of going through documents, in mainstream media it was impossible.

Nowadays, sometimes they filter these guys, you see them once in a while, but these are just glimpses. The mainstream discourse itself is monolithic. There is no alternative. And there is really no alternative, because you only listen to these guys all saying the same thing for decades.

Yes, and most of those experts and big news media outlets are linked to the Round Tables like the Royal Institute of International Affaires, Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, Bilderberg Club

Pepe Escobar: Exactly, they all work for the same think tanks. And other media outlets have credibility problems as well. The international Chinese tv-channel in English, CCTV9, because you would need at least a minimum of debates, but there are no debates going on. I like what RT, Russia Today, is doing, I am a contributor, but they don’t criticize Russia. Big problem.

I also work for Al-Jazeera, which is great, because I can reach people and get responses that I otherwise would not have, for example from people in Africa. But they have an enormous problem of credibility, because of their coverage of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya compared to their coverage of what happens in the Persian Gulf, they simply cannot criticize themselves and they cannot criticize – forget about it – the House of Saud, because of the close relations between the House of Saud and the Emir of Qatar. It’s very complicated when you are navigating this universe.

We are very happy, all of us, who work and write for Asia Times because it is truly independent and we are respected for that. We have Zionists’ opinions in it, we have extreme-right opinions, extreme-left opinions, we have the middle, we have the Iranians, the Pakistanis, the Russians, the Chinese, we even have a North Korean writing for us, so it’s all there.

We don’t have any specific editorial line, no, it’s open for everybody. That is what people respect us for. But that’s something hard to find. We have for example tremendous problems with financing. I have been involved with this for the past few months, and it’s a headache: we want to expand, but we don’t want to lose our editorial control. Very tricky equation.

I wish you many success with that!

Pepe Escobar: Thank you!

Pepe Escobar was born in 1954 in Brazil and has been a foreign correspondent since 1985, based in London, Milan, Los Angeles, Paris, Singapore, and Bangkok. Since the late 1990s, he has specialized in covering geopolitical stories from the Middle East to Central Asia and has reported during this decade from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, the Central Asian Republics, U.S.A. and China. He now works for Hong Kong/Thailand-based Asia Times as “The Roving Eye“ and is an analyst for The Real News in Washington DC, as well as a contributor to Russia Today and Al Jazeera. He is author of three books:Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid WarRed Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge, and Obama does Globalistan.


SYRIA: The Orwellian “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) used to Justify “Regime Change” and All Out War

SYRIA: The Orwellian “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) used to Justify “Regime Change” and All Out War

by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

The Arab League coupled with a proxy group called the Syrian National Council (SNC) that is the creation of a tactical alliance between the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, Washington, NATO, Israel, and the Persian Gulf’s petro-monarchs is being used within the framework of false pretences of humanitarianism for a plan to oust President Bashar Al-Assad from power and install a new client government in Damascus.

The Arab League: A Chamber of Treachery and Cowardice

The Arab League is a dysfunctional and largely ceremonial body of hyperbole that has been utterly stripped of any value it once had when it was originally founded in 1945. It has been hijacked and serves Washington and its NATO allies instead of any genuinely Arab interests. The League’s ultimatums against Syria are fully in tune with the regime change plans against Damascus.

Libya was suspended from the Arab League before NATO started its war. The League was used to give cover to the Pentagon and NATO for their war and regime change agenda against Qaddafi. It is Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that have helped hijack the League. The GCC is comprised of the Persian Gulf petro-sheikhdoms of the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and Saudi Arabia. None of these countries are model states, let alone democracies. Their foreign-installed leaders have betrayed the Palestinians, helped attack Iraq, support Israel against Lebanon, demolished Libya, and now they conspire against Syria and its regional allies.

In a blatant act of hypocrisy, the unelected despots of these petro-sheikhdoms have announced that Qaddafi’s regime was “illegitimate” and now are making similar statements about Syria. This is while the Saudi and Bahraini regimes themselves kill and terrorize their own unarmed citizens who are protesting in the streets of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain for fair treatment, basic rights, equality, and freedom.

The GCC has forced the Arab League to support the de-legitimization of the Libyan government and the war against Libya in the form of sanctions and no-fly zones. Now it wants to impose political and economic sanctions on Syria and to cause the country to internally implode, while it tries to fashion an Arab League mandated no-fly zone as a counter-movie to the Chinese and Russian vetoes at the U.N. Security Council. The U.S., Britain, France, and Turkey are also preparing to help it in this regard.

The Syrian National Coordination Committee versus the Syrian National Council

The mainstream media, such as the BBC and Al Jazeera, in the NATO countries and Arab monarchies are willing to print, publish, or broadcast anything that will degrade Syria and support regime change through sectarian, unprofessional, false, and inflammatory reporting. They are not to be trusted in regards to the facts on the ground in Syria. The mainstream media in the NATO countries and the GCC continuously play with words, provide no verified reports, and cite recently created foreign-based groups as their sources. Amongst these group is the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which ironically endorses Saudi rulers while it claims to espouse democratic ideals.

Protests demanding reforms and democratization have taken place in Syria. Other protests against corruption and linked subsidy price changes also have taken place, but not on the scale and magnitude that NATO and the GCC portray. Initially there was a forceful crackdown that coincided with attacks by armed groups that had taken advantage of the protests. The problem was compounded by unidentified attackers who attacked both Syrian civilians and Syrian security forces that ignited instability. As tensions built, this all became further complicated by internal fighting amongst the elite families that form the oligarchies in Damascus. The Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood has also tried to capitalize and armed wings of it, with help from foreigners, have tried to stroke the flames of violence to topple Bashar Al-Assad.

The situation in Syria is complicated, because there are several competing trends of opposition. This includes the opposition forces in Syria, which range from government lackeys to individuals that genuinely want reform. Aside from the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, what most of the internal opposition has in common is that they are against violence, any form of foreign intervention, and want reform instead of regime change. It is this opposition that forms the Syrian National Coordination Committee (SNCC), which critics calls a regime appendage.

Members of this domestic opposition have been beaten and killed in Syria. This includes Mashaal Tammo, a Syrian Kurd opposition figure. Although there are over a dozen unrecognized Kurdish political parties in Syria, his murder according to Kurdish leaders was an act aimed at fomenting violence in the Kurdish areas of Syria. Several Kurdish leaders immediately denounced the murder as the work of those who want to frame the Syrian government and unleash chaos in Syria between Kurds and Arabs. Other internal victims include the cartoonist Ali Farzat who was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen and brutally beaten in late-August 2011. There is a chance that undisciplined members of the Syrian internal forces could have been behind the attack, but the attacks could have been designed to frame Damascus.

Outside of Syria, Washington and its allies have done everything to co-opt the SNCC or silence the voices of the SNCC and other internal opposition forces that are against foreign intervention and the use of violence. When a delegation of the SNCC arrived in Cairo to hold talks with the Arab League, it was immediately attacked and beaten by a mixed crowd of SNC supporters that were waiting for them. The Arab League too has opted to recognize the SNC, which is not popular internally in Syria.

In reality, the SNC is controlled by the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and several Salafist groups. Some of the people listed as SNC members were also not consulted before they were added and play no real role in the organization. In this regard, the Muslim Brotherhood is being promoted as the alternative to Bashar Al-Assad by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the GCC.

The SNC, which was formed in Istanbul a month after another Syrian transitional council was formed in Ankara, cannot be trusted. They have blatantly lied countless times about their internal support and events in Syria. Nor do they provide any form of a viable alternative to the Syrian regime. Their roster is filled with shady individuals with close ties to foreign governments and organizations that serve the interests of the United States and the European Union. According to Ayoob Kara, a Likud parliamentarian from the Israeli Knesset, the Syrian opposition was in contact with Tel Aviv to help oust the Syrian regime. Kara also made it clear in a speech to the Knesset that Israel must intervene in Syria as a means of fighting Iran and its allies.

Begging for Intervention: Parallels between the Transitional Councils in Libya and Syria

In Libya the Transitional Council was used to supplant the Jamahiriya in Tripoli. Now the SNC is being used is illicitly try to takeover Syria. The SNC will transform Syria into a docile client state divided and managed by Turkey, Israel, Jordan, and the Saudi-led GCC states on behalf of Washington. The recognition of the SNC by the Arab League and Turkey is part of this objective.

Before NATO’s war in North Africa, the Transitional Council in Libya was begging for military intervention by the U.S., Britain, France, and NATO. Likewise, the SNC and the individuals who form it have been begging for NATO military intervention against Syria. The SNC has even posted the coordinates of defensive infrastructure in Syria that they want bombed by the Pentagon and NATO. Members of this opposition have also posted maps of Syrian Air Force bases and Russian naval infrastructure to help NATO identify military targets. What is very telling about the orientation of the SNC is that these facilities have very little to do with internal politics or crowd control and a lot to do with Syrian national defense.

It is in this context that a failed attack by the so-called “Free Syrian Army” was launched on the intelligence wing of the Syrian Air Force in Damascus. This was not an act of protest, but a badly organized act of war that was intended to weaken Syria’s defensive aerial capabilities in case it was attacked. The Free Syrian Army in reality is a front organization that is controlled and manned by the GCC, Turkey, Jordan, and NATO with mercenaries and groups that can loosely be called “Al-Qaeda.” This should come as no surprise in an era when the U.S. Congressional Armed Services Committee has been told by Admiral McRaven that covert operations with U.S. Special Forces involvement are vital to the Pentagon’s modern wars.

The Orwellian Responsibility to Protect (R2P): A Tool of Trans-Atlantic Wars

The Syrian Arab Republic now faces the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) as a threat. R2P was not used in Libya, but it was mentioned a lot. The frequent mentioning of the R2P was brinkmanship for future wars.

R2P is being prepped to be wielded as a weapon by Washington and NATO. It is a neo-imperialist device under the cover of sheep’s skin that appropriates the language of humanitarianism. Where is R2P against Israel in Palestine or when it attacked Lebanon in 2006? Where is R2P against the foreign-imposed dictators of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia? Where is R2P when it comes to the brutal Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara? Where is R2P in the Democratic Republic of Congo? These are all places where R2P will never even come to be mentioned, because it is against the interests of Washington and its allies.

It is a diplomatic concept constructed in Canada by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) through the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) in 2000. The concept essentially posits that a country’s independence is not a right and can be taken away by the international community when the need arises. The international community under the R2P paradigm has the responsibility to intervene in any independent country in order to protect that country’s citizens.

Who can decide when to use R2P? Also, what is this “international community” that gives it legitimacy and what countries form it? How and who defines the international community? The international community is much more than the NATO countries. Clearly, most the world was against the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in 2003, but Washington and Britain claimed that the “international community” was with them. The term “international community” is actually a widely misrepresented concept and term. Washington continuously gets a series of small states that are virtual dependencies, satellites, and unrepresentative governments to add their names to all the lists it constantly produces for its military coalitions and initiatives and calls this the “international community.” These lists on the surface can sound impressive, but in reality they are hallow mirages meant to produce a deceiving appearance of international support and consensus. For example, Washington’s “Coalition of the Willing,” which was forged to invade Iraq in 2003, included Columbia, NATO-occupied Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai, Georgia, El Salvador, and Iceland. If not U.S. satellites, the governments of these countries were either bribed or coerced into joining against the wishes of their populations.

Now, both the universities and civil society in the form of NGOs inside NATO countries have a big role to play in the dissemination of the R2P paradigm. They are pushing for its normalization in international relations and its use in Syria. Together with the recognition of the unrepresentative SNC and the mirage of Arab legitimacy provided by the undemocratic collection of GCC despots that have hijacked the Arab League, R2P will be utilized to create an international legal regime that will work to isolate, cripple, and subjugate Damascus.


**** The following Video was just sent to me by another activist to add to this article please watch it!

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