Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad S-300s?

April 17, 2015 at 10:04 AM

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The executive order issued by Russian President Vladimir Putin, which lifts the ban on the export of weapons systems to Iran, has been met with sharp condemnation by Israel, and admonishment from the United States. While Moscow has yet to make a final decision on if/when it will begin supplying the S-300 air defense missiles to Iran – Tehran purchased the system under a 2007 contract left unfulfilled by Russia as a result of the UN-imposed arms embargo – it is clear that the possibility alone signals a significant shift in the geopolitics of the region.

On the one hand, Iranian air defenses would be significantly upgraded with an advanced weapons system such as S-300 which, though not exactly new, is still very much capable of defending the country’s airspace from any potential attack, be it Israeli or US. On the other hand, the possible delivery of the S-300s is a symbolic step towards integrating Iran into a broader non-NATO security architecture taking shape under the leadership of Russia and China.

While BRICS has come to be the watchword of multi-polarity, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has emerged as a military-security-intelligence alliance, on top of being an economic and political forum for Sino-Russian relations. The possibility of Iran joining this alliance both through participation in SCO summits, and in practice through military and non-military contracts as well as other forms of cooperation, signals a watershed both for Iran, and the non-western world. Where, just a few years ago, the US and its allies could dictate the terms of relations between Iran and other states, today it simply cannot, nuclear deal or no nuclear deal. The S-300s are only the tip of the iceberg.

What This Means for Iran and the Region

First and foremost, Iran is going to have the opportunity to exist, at least to some extent, on an equal footing on the international stage. Though it is still unclear the specifics of the finalized agreement, including the odious sanctions regime and the extent to which it will actually be lifted, what is certain is that Iran will have much more leeway to pursue economic cooperation with potential partners internationally.

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Debating Saudi Arabia’s War on Yemen

April 14, 2015 at 3:03 PM

Eric Draitser of StopImperialism.org appears on The Debate to provide his perspective and analysis of Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen. He examines some of the Saudi regime’s motivations and goals, as well as the political situation on the ground. Draitser also gives his analysis of the US and CIA role, the geopolitics of the conflict, and much more.

Saudi Arabia’s Other War

April 13, 2015 at 10:23 AM

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The Saudi war on Yemen has understandably come to dominate the headlines since it began in late March 2015. The international scope of the conflict – nominally including the participation of nearly a dozen Gulf countries – coupled with the obvious political and geopolitical implications, all but assured that nearly all mention of Saudi Arabia in the news would be in the context of this war. However, there is another war being waged by Saudi Arabia, this one entirely within its own borders.

While Riyadh viciously, and illegally, bombs the people of Yemen, it also continues to wage a brutal war of repression against its own Shia population. A significant minority inside Saudi Arabia, the Shia community has been repeatedly victimized by the heavy-handed, often murderous, tactics of Saudi security forces in a desperate attempt by the House of Saud to maintain its iron grip on power. Rather than being challenged to democratize and respect the rights of a minority, the Saudi government has chosen violence, intimidation, and imprisonment to silence the growing chorus of opposition.

Were it only the Shia minority being targeted however, this overt repression might be crudely caricatured as sectarian conflict within the context of “Iranian influence” on Saudi domestic politics; Iran being the bogeyman trotted out by Riyadh to justify nearly all of its criminal and immoral actions, from financing terror groups waging war on Syria to the bombardment of the people of Yemen. However, the Saudi government is also targeting bloggers, journalists, and activists who, despite their small numbers in the oppressive kingdom, have become prominent defenders of human rights, symbolizing an attempt, fruitless though it may be, to democratize and bring some semblance of social justice to the entirely undemocratic monarchy.

At War Against Its Own People

It is a well understood fact, almost universally recognized, that Saudi Arabia is one of the principal instigators of sectarianism throughout the Muslim world. Using a “divide and conquer” strategy that has worked with insidious perfection in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere, Saudi Arabia has managed to flex its geopolitical muscles and project its power without much threat to its own internal stability. However, there is increasingly a Shia movement within Saudi Arabia – we should not call it “sectarian” as it is about equality under the law – demanding its rights and legal protections that are undeniably incompatible with the absolutist, monarchical system that Saudi Arabia has erected.

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Political Repression and Resistance in ‘Democratic Europe’

April 9, 2015 at 10:30 AM

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For all its rhetoric about “liberal democracy” and “freedom,” Europe has quietly become a hotbed of political repression. While some groups are allowed to express themselves openly – from fascists that praise Nazi collaborators of the World War II period, to feminist and gay rights groups – there is one particular brand of free speech that is simply not allowed: anti-war protest.

Masking the repression of anti-war, anti-NATO, and anti-imperialist groups behind defamatory rhetoric and demonization, the mass media in Europe attempts to portray such activists as little more than “pro-Kremlin” puppets whose strings are secretly being pulled by the wicked villains of Moscow. Rather than engaging with the critical issues raised by such groups, the political and media establishment instead targets them for repression.

Police and state repression, often of a violent nature, has been carried out under the auspices of “fighting terrorists” in Ukraine all throughout the conflict that erupted in early 2014. So too has such repression reared its ugly head in Lithuania in recent months, as anti-imperialist leftist organizers have been singled out for political persecution by the vehemently Russophobic, Euro-sycophant government. Additionally, Estonia has continued its systematic oppression of its Russian-speaking population which has been forced to exist as second class citizens, with dubious legal protections to say the least.

But these forces of repression have been unable to stem the growing tide of anti-war, anti-NATO sentiment throughout Eastern Europe, as protests against the US-NATO agenda in Ukraine and beyond gather steam. From moderate Czech Republic to belligerent Poland, countless citizens are beginning to organize themselves into true anti-imperialist movements demanding peace in Europe, and rejecting the insanity of aggression directed at Russia.

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On the Geopolitics of the Saudi War on Yemen

April 6, 2015 at 1:00 PM

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Eric Draitser of StopImperialism.org provides his comments on Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen. He explains the political and geopolitical motivations for the Saudi offensive.