Eric Draitser of StopImperialism.org is featured in a short segment on the collaboration between US intelligence and anti-Iranian terror groups such as Jundallah. Draitser explains that there is a long and shadowy history of the CIA and other Western intelligence agencies using terror groups as assets in furthering their geopolitical agenda.
Part 1 of this article examined the nature of Azerbaijan’s political and economic development since the end of the Soviet Union nearly twenty five years ago, with specific attention paid to the country’s relations with the West.
There is a perception among political observers who monitor the Caspian region that Azerbaijan is a staunch ally of the West, that its military and intelligence cooperation with the West, coupled with its reliance on Western oil investment for the continued exploitation of its Caspian reserves, has transformed Azerbaijan into an unshakeable ally of Washington and Brussels. In some ways, this has certainly been true in recent years. The deals with European and American energy corporations have infused the Baku-Washington relationship with billions of dollars in investment. The military and intelligence cooperation with Israel has certainly fostered the perception that Azerbaijan is closer to Israel and the West than to Russia, Iran, or any of its regional neighbors. And yet, from the perspective of the West, there is undoubtedly something rotten in Baku.
The once rock-solid alliance has become far more unstable in recent years as Azerbaijan’s importance and image in the eyes of the West has, in many ways, declined. While western leaders have been quick to point to Baku’s crackdown on western-sponsored NGOs and so called “democracy activists,” the reality is that material concerns dominate the changing nature of the relationship. Where once the West, in particular the United States, saw in Azerbaijan and the Caspian region a potential bonanza for energy revenue and decreasing Europe’s reliance on Russian gas, today serious doubts exist about the sustainability, let alone total capacity, of the Azerbaijani reserves. While it was quite fashionable to see Baku as a staunch ally against Moscow, today doubts about this too have emerged as Russia looks to promote cooperation and business relations with the country as a counterweight to US machinations in the region.
In order to fully appreciate the changing nature of Azerbaijan’s geopolitical and strategic alignment, one must first examine how and why Azerbaijan has begun to move out of the West’s orbit. In so doing, the aggressive attitude and seemingly belligerent approach from western leaders toward Azerbaijan begins to become clearer. In particular, the levers of power that the West is using against Azerbaijan are well known both in Baku, and in Moscow. This is critical because, as was the case during the Soviet era, Russia is in many ways still an alternative to US domination. And so, the question becomes: Is Azerbaijan charting a truly new, independent path for itself? Or, is the country merely continuing its multi-vector strategy of playing Russia and the West off each other?
Eric Draitser of StopImperialism.org appears on Press TV to provide his perspective during the midterm elections in the US. Draitser explains that there is no democracy in the US as both major parties collude in order to enrich the ruling class at the expense of everyone else. He explains that the two parties are really two wings of the same party, and that the elections are just an affirmation of the continued hegemony of Wall St. and the military-industrial complex.
With the final votes being counted in Ukraine’s parliamentary elections, early results show an unsurprisingly strong showing for the country’s oligarchs, while neo-Nazi candidates score significant victories of their own.
Though the democratic character of the elections is certainly in doubt, the inescapable reality is that the new government in Kiev is going to be even more aggressive, even more radical, and even more dangerous, as the political character of the Verkohvna Rada (Ukraine’s parliament) becomes ever more reactionary. Not only will this development have negative repercussions for the people of Donetsk and Lugansk, as they likely will now be facing a renewed assault from a belligerent government looking to assert itself before the eyes of the Ukrainian electorate, it will also further entrench the anti-Russian posture of Kiev, which will now have to contend with even more right wing pressure to eschew negotiations and pragmatism with Russia, in favor of a destructive and unwinnable strategy of continued antagonism and provocation.
In examining closely some of the election’s higher profile winners, one sees a disconcerting trend that goes far beyond simply neo-Nazi ideology; this election has legitimized the rule of criminal oligarchs and the factions and private armies they control, while also entrenching violent, and quite often criminal, individuals and tendencies within the newly constituted government. In effect, the fascist fanatics of Maidan now have a new home in the Rada.
The suspicious death of US-born journalist Serena Shim, and the deafening silence on the story in the US, is merely the latest example of the blatant double standard employed by the Western media.
Shim, a 29 year old American journalist of Lebanese descent, had been covering the ongoing war in Syria, specifically the current battle between ISIS militants and Kurdish forces near the Syrian town of Kobani, from the Turkish-Syrian border. Shim was traveling in a rental car back to her hotel after reporting from the Turkish town of Suruc near the Syrian border, when the car was allegedly struck by a heavy vehicle, killing Shim.
While Turkish authorities quickly contended that her death was an accident, many around the world, including executives and senior staff members of Press TV – the Iranian news agency for which Shim was working – have expressed doubts about the circumstances of her death, describing it as“suspicious.” Such suspicions are clearly warranted as the alleged accident came just one day after Shim expressed fears for her own safety after receiving death threats from Turkish intelligence (MIT). In an interview with Press TV just after being accused of being a spy and receiving the threats, Shim stated:
“I’m very surprised at this accusation – I even thought of approaching Turkish intelligence because I have nothing to hide… I am a bit worried, because…Turkey has been labeled by Reporters Without Borders as the largest prison for journalists…so I am frightened about what they might use against me… We were some of the first people on the ground –if not the first people – to get that story of…militants going in through the Turkish border…I’ve got images of them in World Food Organization trucks. It was very apparent that they were militants by their beards, by the clothes they wore, and they were going in there with NGO trucks.”
This revealing interview highlights the fact that Shim, unlike many Western journalists reporting on the Syrian conflict, was actually involved in a serious investigation, including documenting the collusion between Turkish intelligence and militant extremists to smuggle fighters and weapons into Syria. While this aspect of the Syrian conflict has been documented by Reuters, the New York Times, and others, Shim was on the ground covering the story, getting documentary evidence including photos and video of the militants in NGO trucks, a blatant violation of international law. It is precisely this damning evidence of Turkey’s involvement in the Syrian war that likely sparked the death threats against her and, quite likely, led to her possible assassination.