US-Russia Economic War Heats Up

July 3, 2015 at 9:33 AM

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As the US and Europe push forward with continued sanctions against Russia, an intriguing economic battle is taking shape, one which will have significant repercussions for years to come. While Washington and Brussels seek to divide Russia from Europe in order to maintain Western hegemony – blocking Eurasian integration by definition – Moscow is counteracting this strategy by leveraging its economic power in the form of energy exports and cooperation.

Although most of the economic machinations have flown under the radar, being less headline-grabbing than the conflict over Ukraine, extended sanctions, or the NATO military buildup, in reality they are equally important. Russia’s energy giant Gazprom has entered into economically and strategically critical deals with key western companies at precisely the same moment that the West seeks to isolate Russia economically. Simultaneously, Russian-sponsored gas pipelines in the North and South of Europe (as well as in Central and East Asia) complicate matters for those who would seek to alienate Russia from the European market and the potential political and economic power that access to that market brings.

From a geopolitical and strategic perspective, Russia’s ongoing conflict with the US and its European subordinates is being manifested as much in the boardrooms as in the halls of parliaments; as much under the Baltic and Black Seas, as in the war rooms of the Pentagon and Kremlin.

It’s the Economics, Stupid

Amid the panels and discussions about the development of BRICS, Eurasian integration, and New Silk Roads at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, a massive energy cooperation deal was signed, one that should be seen as a major coup for Moscow. An agreement between the world’s top gas producer, Russia’s Gazprom, and Royal Dutch Shell, to build two new Nord Stream gas pipelines to Germany will have major implications for the future of economic cooperation between Russia and European energy firms. Moreover, it will further cement Russia as an integral partner for German industry, the heart of Germany’s economy.

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Counterpunch Radio – Ep. 9 (Sharmine Narwani & Reme Sakr)

July 3, 2015 at 9:08 AM

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Click here to listen to Counterpunch Radio – Ep. 9 with Sharmine Narwani and Reme Sakr

This week, CounterPunch Radio host Eric Draitser sits down with two important guests to discuss all things Syria. The first part of the show is an in depth discussion with Beirut-based political analyst and commentator Sharmine Narwani. Eric and Sharmine examine the latest developments in the war in Syria with particular attention to the battles along the Syria-Lebanon border, as well as the role of Turkey and other regional players. They also touch on the ongoing conflict in Iraq and the way in which the US continues to play a double-game when it comes to Baghdad and the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS).

The second part of the show features an oddly congested Eric Draitser in conversation with Syrian-Australian political activist Reme Sakr speaking from Syria. Sakr provides her insight into the collective psyche and daily life of ordinary Syrians after more than four years of war. She explains some of the hardships they face, as well as the nuances of how Syrians actually view this conflict, their country, and its institutions. Don’t miss this important episode, which also include intro and outtro music provided by the Dr. of the Blues, the man with a PhD in Boogie Woogie, David Vest, and interlude by The Mekons.

Honduras Bleeding: The Coup and Its Aftermath

June 29, 2015 at 11:26 AM

 

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June 28 marked the six year anniversary of the military coup in Honduras – the day that a democratically elected left wing government was ousted by a US-backed, US-trained cabal of generals and right wing politicians and landowners. It could correctly be called a “Quiet Coup” primarily because it took place with very little fanfare from the corporate media which, to the extent that it covered it at all, did so mostly from a distorted perspective which spread more misinformation than truth. Today, six years (and many innocent lives, and billions of dollars) later, this shameful moment in recent history still remains largely forgotten.

Perhaps it was the lingering euphoria felt by liberals and so-called progressives in the months after Obama’s election and inauguration. Perhaps it was the still new economic crisis and subsequent bailout and financial turmoil. Perhaps it was plain old imperialistic, neocolonial disregard for Latin America and the rights of the people unfortunate enough to be living in “America’s backyard.” Whatever the reason, the fact remains that the Obama administration and those who supported it, then and now, are complicit in an ongoing political, economic, and social tragedy in Honduras.

But why bring it up now, other than to mark the anniversary of the coup? For starters, because one of the primary participants and benefactors happens to be the likely Democratic Party presidential candidate: Hillary Clinton. Also, far from being a discrete episode of US imperialism’s sordid past, the coup and its legacy remain a driving force in Honduran politics and society today. The beneficiaries and participants are all still either in government or have shifted to the private sector, and continue to enrich themselves at the cost of the poor and working people of the country. The coup government of Honduras continues to wage a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing against minority communities to benefit itself and its patrons from the US and elsewhere.

Perhaps most importantly, the coup of 2009 reveals the extent to which the United States remains a neocolonial, imperial power in Latin America, and reminds us of just what countries like Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador have been struggling against. It illustrates in the starkest terms the human cost of Washington’s policies, not in books about a historical period, but in images and videos of a country under its thumb today. It reminds us just how real the struggle still is.

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Saudi Arabia’s War on Yemen Comes Home

June 24, 2015 at 3:45 PM

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When Saudi Arabia launched its war against Yemen in March 2015, it presumed that a short, quick, and clean air war would be enough to degrade the alliance of Houthi forces and those loyal to former President Saleh, thereby giving the Saudi-backed government of former President Hadi the necessary space to regain control of the country. However, that simply has not been the case. In fact, not only has the Saudi campaign not achieved these objectives, it has instead precipitated a much more dangerous war which has now spread to Saudi Arabia itself.

Reports from Yemeni sources have confirmed that the Houthis and their allies have launched a number of rockets into Saudi Arabia’s Jizan province while also launching an assault on three military bases in various parts of the country. Of course, the attacks have sent an unmistakable message to Riyadh that there will be a price to pay for the continued bombardment of Yemen; that the Saudis cannot simply act with impunity.

War Spreads Beyond Yemen’s Borders

The fact that Houthi and Saleh forces are able to successfully attack key Saudi military installations has undoubtedly rattled a few nerves in Riyadh. While the recent assaults have not been the first, they have been perhaps the most open demonstration of the military capacity of the Yemeni forces to strike at Saudi assets.

It has been reported that the Houthi-Saleh combined forces have attacked and possibly taken control of a military base in the Southwestern province of Jizan, strategically located on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast. While of course embarrassing for the Saudi government, this development is far more than simply a public relations nightmare; it is a strategic disaster. While Yemeni forces have pounded the base in Jizan, there have been scattered reports of Yemeni attacks against other Saudi military installations, including in the East of the country, as well as in the Northwest. If these reports are to be believed, then nearly the entirety of Saudi Arabian territory is within the range and capability of Yemeni rockets.

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Counterpunch Radio – Ep. 8 (Glen Ford)

June 24, 2015 at 3:39 PM

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Click here to listen to Counterpunch Radio – Ep. 8 (Glen Ford)

This week, CounterPunch Radio host Eric Draitser speaks with Glen Ford, Executive Editor of Black Agenda Report about everything from the #BlackLivesMatter Movement to the importance of revolutionary consciousness and organizing. Eric and Glen discuss the meaning of the slogan “No Justice, No Peace” and the implications of such a statement in terms of political action. They dissect some of the burning questions that the movement must answer, and draw on historical context in order to frame their analysis. The conversation also touches on the pernicious role of what Black Agenda Report has termed “The Black Mis-Leadership Class,” and the Democratic Party as a whole, in diverting black politics into the political establishment, thereby preventing any structural or substantive change. All this and more on Episode 8 of CounterPunch Radio.