EU, Iran defying the Trump administration

In case you missed it . . .

EU, Iran set financial ‘vehicle’ to ease trade between them

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A new alliance? Maybe they’ll get invited to join the club. There are a few other anomalies if you look closely at the green.

Five world powers and Iran agreed late on Sept. 24 to establish a financial facility in the European Union to facilitate payments for Iranian imports and exports including oil, a key move sought by Tehran following the U.S. pullout from the 2015 nuclear deal and its re-imposition of sanctions.

Foreign ministers from Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and Iran said in a joint statement that the so-called “Special Purpose Vehicle” will “assist and reassure economic operators pursuing legitimate business with Iran.”

The nuclear agreement is meant to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons, but U.S. President Donald Trump announced in May he was unilaterally pulling out because he felt it wasn’t strong enough and didn’t cover other issues of concern to the U.S. and its allies, such as Iran’s military influence in the Middle East and ballistic missile program. The U.S. has also accused Iran of promoting international terrorism, which Tehran vehemently denies.

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European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini with Iran’s President Rouhani. Me ‘n’ you, gal – Let’s do it!

Iran’s economy is already suffering from the sanctions that Washington re-imposed after walking away from the nuclear agreement, and the U.S. has threatened to punish companies from other nations that continue doing business with Iran.

In sharp contrast, the five other world powers who signed the nuclear deal remain strongly committed to it, and the new financial facility is almost certain to anger the Trump administration.

New York Times

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Giuliani: U.S. ‘Sympathizes’ With Attempt to Overthrow Iran’s Government

Well, they’ve done it before, in Iran and pretty much everywhere else in the world! The United States and their allies invaded Russia back in 1918, trying to overturn Russia’s revolution. They supported the exiled/defeated Chinese Kuomintang party after they fled to Taiwan in 1949. 70 years later, maybe the US is still hoping those guys will make a comeback! They organized a coup to get rid of Iran’s democratically elected government in 1952, and supported the puppet Shah for 27 years until Iranians threw him out.

Now, it seems Uncle Sam wants to bring that puppet government back – and they talk about democracy!!

Time report(NEW YORK) — Donald Trump’s attorney, Rudolph Giuliani, told members of Iran’s self-declared government in exile on Saturday that the U.S. sympathizes with their efforts to overthrow that country’s official government.

Funeral of John McCain, Washington DC, USA - 01 Sep 2018

Bringing democracy to the world – at gunpoint if necessary

The former New York mayor spoke to members and supporters of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the biggest opposition group to Iran’s Islamic regime. Two U.S.-based members who joined the gathering have been targeted for assassination by alleged Iranian agents named last month in criminal complaints issued by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

“So I say to the Iranian government, you must truly be afraid of being overthrown,” Giuliani said. “We will not forget that you wanted to commit murder on our soil.”*

After Saturday’s attack on a military parade in Iran that killed more than 20 people, security was tight surrounding more than 1,500 people who came to a midtown Manhattan hotel for the meeting.

Giuliani said the Paris-based opposition organization is the democratic answer* to an Iranian regime he called “a group of outlaws and murderers and people who pretend to be religious people and then have so much blood on their hands it’s almost unthinkable.”

Instead, Giuliani said, “Iran is entitled to freedom and democracy.”

Several months ago, Trump withdrew from a nuclear deal with Iran put in place by President Barack Obama and sanctions were reinstated.

The National Council comes to New York annually during the United Nations General Assembly, staging protests outside the world body against Iran’s leaders who are in town.

The U.S. government considered the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, linked politically to the council, to be a terrorist group the U.S. State Department removed from its list of such organizations in 2012.

Since the beginning of the year, Iranians have kept protesting and marching against the clerical regime, and the national currency has lost about two-thirds of its value, said Maryam Rajavi, leader of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, or MEK, and the declared president-elect in exile of the National Council of Resistance of Iran.

Speaking via video, she said: “The regime is surrounded, politically and internationally, and in economic terms it is on the brink of collapse.”*

The new Iran, she said, would be based on free elections resulting in the separation of religion and state, human rights including equal participation of women in politics and the abolition of the death penalty.*

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*“We will not forget that you wanted to commit murder on our soil.” – Which, of course, the United States would NEVER do!

*Overthrowing Iran’s “official government” with a “Paris-based organization is the democratic answer”! Democracy, American style!

*“a group of outlaws and murderers and people who pretend to be religious people and then have so much blood on their hands it’s almost unthinkable.” Seems to me that could perhaps better apply to the US government and its backers.

*“The regime is surrounded, politically and internationally, and in economic terms it is on the brink of collapse.” Certainly that’s what US leaders have been trying to do for 40 years. Interestingly, Iran seems to be winning support from some important members of the international community.

*”abolition of the death penalty” – Which, of course, they don’t have in civilized countries like the United States, oh no!

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Meanwhile, what does the Iranian government have to say for itself? And who would you choose to believe?

Report in Turkey’s Hürriyet Daily News:

Rouhani says Iran ready to confront US after military parade attack

President Hassan Rouhani said on Sept. 23 Iran was ready to confront the United States and its Gulf Arab allies, a day after an attack on an Iranian military parade killed 25 people, including 12 members of the elite Revolutionary Guards.

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More and more countries seem prepared to stand up against US bullying tactics

Speaking before leaving Tehran to attend the annual U.N. General Assembly in New York, Rouhani accused U.S.-backed Gulf Arab states of providing financial and military support for anti-government ethnic Arab groups in Iran.

“America is acting like a bully towards the rest of the world…and thinks it can act based on brute force,” said Rouhani, who engineered Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal that ushered in a cautious detente with Washington before tensions flared anew with President Donald Trump’s decision to quit the accord.

“But our people will resist and the government is ready to confront America. We will overcome this situation [sanctions] and America will regret choosing the wrong path.”

Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Sept. 23 summoned the United Arab Emirates’ charge d’affaires over comments made about the bloodshed in the southwestern city of Ahvaz.

State-run PressTV said the action was taken over comments by an unnamed UAE official, without giving details.

The Gulf Arab state of Qatar, which is at odds with U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and the UAE, condemned the assault on the military parade, which wounded at least 70 people.

Gunmen fired on a viewing stand where Iranian officials had gathered to watch an annual event marking the start of the Islamic Republic’s 1980-88 war with Iraq. Soldiers crawled as gunfire crackled. Women and children fled for their lives.

It was one of the worst ever attacks against the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp, the sword and shield of Shi’ite clerical rule in Iran since its 1979 Islamic Revolution.

It answers to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and runs its own business empire in Iran, a major oil producer which has been relatively stable compared with Arab states that have grappled with unrest since uprisings in 2011.

Since pulling out of the big powers’ nuclear pact with Iran in May, Trump has reimposed U.S. sanctions meant to isolate Tehran and force it to negotiate tougher curbs on its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Iran has ruled this out.

“America wants to cause chaos and unrest in our country so that it can return to this country, but these are unreal fantasies and they will never achieve their goals,” said Rouhani.

Shiite Iran is at odds with Western-allied Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia for predominance in the Middle East.

The regional powers back opposing sides in the conflicts in Yemen and Syria as well as rival political groups in Iraq and Lebanon, with the Guards defending Iranian interests.

“The small puppet countries in the region are backed by America, and the United States is provoking them and giving them the necessary capabilities,” said Rouhani.

An Iranian ethnic Arab opposition movement called the Ahvaz National Resistance, which seeks a separate state in oil-rich Khuzestan province, claimed responsibility for the attack.

“The Persian Gulf states are providing monetary, military and political support for these groups,” said Rouhani.

ISIL militants also claimed responsibility. Neither claim provided evidence. All four attackers were killed.

“Hopefully we will overcome these sanctions with the least possible costs and make America regret its aggressiveness towards other countries, and particularly Iran,” said Rouhani.

Thanks to Trump, Turkey is not alone

Extracts from an opinion piece by Murat Yetkin

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Turkish guy facing down a tank at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport – July 16, 2016

Does the U.S. president really, sincerely think the actions and sanctions against Turkey will work? They did not work against Iraq in the 1990s. Iraq could be put down through military action. They did not work in the 2000s against Russia, who even grew strong enough to influence the U.S. elections.

It is something favorable if Turkey and the U.S. are on good terms, with better cooperation and mutual respect, but . . . Turkey does not owe its existence to the U.S. and will not cease to exist without it.

Trump’s actions and sanctions on the Turkish economy . . . not only have had a rally-around-the-flag effect (as anyone who has read a bit of political history would guess) but have also told the Turkish people they have friends around the world who care for them.

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CNN news coverage on the night of the attempted coup. So was it staged? Who were the US supporting?

Be it in their own interest or by seizing an opportunity to say something against Trump’s policies, which bother many economies from China to the European Union, voices have been raised by those who have taken a stand with Turkey. Before this currency crisis, there were only a few of them; Azerbaijan and Qatar . . . the most loyal of them.

However, right after Trump started to use American economic power as a political tool against Turkey, not only Russia, Iran and China have chosen to speak out against the U.S., but European NATO allies like Germany and Italy have also started to lobby for Turkey.

Qatar pledges $15 billion investment

Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani paid a snap visit to the Turkish capital on Aug. 15 for talks with Erdoğan after a phone exchange the two men held late Aug. 13. Bilateral relations and regional developments were discussed in the working lunch that took more than three hours. The Emir pledged a direct investment worth $15 billion to Turkey, a presidential source said.

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Qatar’s and Turkey’s leaders meeting over lunch

“We attach importance to his visit. This visit, at the same time, is an indicator that Qatar stands with Turkey,” Presidential Spokesman İbrahim Kalın told reporters at a press conference on Aug. 15.

In a written statement, on the day Emir al-Thani paid a visit to Ankara, Qatar’s Ambassador to Turkey Saleem Mubarak al-Shafi reiterated his country’s support to the Turkish government.

“Just like during the defeated coup attempt in 2016, Qatar is the first country rushing to help its Turkish brothers and we will continue to stand with them,” the ambassador said. Underlining that his country has already expressed that it was ready to assist Turkey in this period, al-Shafi informed that the Qatari people have bought liras worth millions of dollars in direct support to the Turkish economy.

Turkey and Qatar enjoy a unique relationship in the region. Turkey, which has a military base in Qatar, rushed supplies to the Gulf state after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a boycott in 2017.

Erdoğan spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the late afternoon on Aug. 15, after the latter has openly backed Turkey in its row with the U.S. that brought about political and economic sanctions. He will talk to French President Emmanuel Macron on Aug. 16, another European heavyweight.

“All these indicate there is a growing reaction in Europe against Trump administration’s restrictive and punitive economic policies. We are of the opinion that this marks an important point,” Kalın said.

European countries have expressed concerns and reactions over Trump’s harsh measures on Turkey on the grounds that it could also hit the global economic structure, particularly Europe, which has extensive economic cooperation with Turkey.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said, “In fact, all these incidents have opened the world’s eyes. They have seen once again how the current American administration can disrespectfully use its economic power against countries,” Çavuşoğlu said.

Turkey’s frustration is bigger than US’s

Turkey’s disappointment regarding the Trump administration’s stance is much deeper because it has not taken into account its ally’s national security concerns, the Turkish government has said in response to a statement from a White House official that United States President Donald Trump is frustrated Turkey has not released pastor Andrew Brunson. 

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Turkey’s  Minister of Foreign Affairs responding to President Trump’s “frustration

“The president has a great deal of frustration on the fact that pastor Brunson has not been released as well as the fact that other U.S. citizens and employees of diplomatic facilities have not been released,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders in a statement on Aug. 14.

“The U.S. or any other country should not just focus on their own frustrations. They should also take into account our frustrations [with regard to their policies]. We also have frustrations,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told reporters on Aug. 15 in response to a question on Sanders’ statement.

For Çavuşoğlu, the U.S. decision to ally with the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria, a group Ankara considers as terrorist, and to arm them, is a bigger source of disappointment for Turkey.

The U.S. inaction on Turkey’s extradition request for Fethullah Gülen, the leader of the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ), who Ankara blames for the coup attempt in July 2016, is another source of frustration for Turkey, he said.

“Now, they are even trying to protect FETÖ members in third countries. Why do they support them? Because they love traitors or because they love Turks, Muslims? We only tell the truth and say what we see. You should not just see it from your perspective,” Çavuşoğlu said.

The minister called on the U.S. to respect the judicial processes and to put an end to the idea that their objectives could be achieved by pressure or punitive actions.

In the meantime, both Çavuşoğlu and Kalın explained the signing of the Pentagon bill delaying the transfer of F-35 aircraft to Turkey for 90 days should not be considered as a sanction.

“Turkey is not just purchasing F-35s but a part of this project. It made its payments for the project. Turkey will have to resort to legal action if these aircraft are not delivered. We hope this will not happen,” Kalın said.

“Our advice to the U.S. is not to use these as a tool. This seriously tarnishes U.S. credibility. No country in the world is without alternatives and helpless. Every nation is honorable and needs to be respected,” he said.

Don’t force Turkey to look for other friends, Erdoğan addresses US in NYT article

Erdogan-has-hit-out-against-Trump-1002153Failure to reverse the “trend of unilateralism and disrespect” will force Turkey to look for new friends and allies, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has warned the United States administration in an opinion piece for the New York Times, referring to the ongoing diplomatic crisis between two countries over the arrest of Pastor Andrew Brunson.

After reminding the long history of friendly bilateral relations, Erdoğan said in the Aug. 10 article: “Unless the United States starts respecting Turkey’s sovereignty and proves that it understands the dangers that our nation faces, our partnership could be in jeopardy.”

turkey-lira-crisis-Erdogan-vladimir-putin-donald-trump-1455691Turkish President likened the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey to Pearl Harbor attack, noting that the U.S. failed to “unequivocally condemn the attack and express solidarity with Turkey’s elected leadership” following the defeated putsch, while the leader of the coup plotters, Fethullah Gülen, still lives in Pennsylvania.

As another source of strained ties, Erdoğan also cited the U.S. support for the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which is considered by Ankara as the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a terrorist organization according to both countries.

gorusme-MHmR_coverThe Brunson issue was the last straw, according to Erdoğan. “Instead of respecting the judicial process, as I urged President Trump to do in our many meetings and conversations, the United States issued blatant threats against a friendly nation and proceeded to impose sanctions on several members of my cabinet. This decision was unacceptable, irrational and ultimately detrimental to our longstanding friendship,” he said.

Repeating that Turkey would not respond to threats and will take necessary steps to protect its national interests, Erdoğan warned that Ankara “will take care of its own business if the United States refuses to listen,” like it did in the 1970s when the Turkish government stepped in to prevent massacres of ethnic Turks by the Greek Cypriots despite Washington’s objections.

5b0513205d1c2e1c0c454ff2“At a time when evil continues to lurk around the world, unilateral actions against Turkey by the United States, our ally of decades, will only serve to undermine American interests and security. Before it is too late, Washington must give up the misguided notion that our relationship can be asymmetrical and come to terms with the fact that Turkey has alternatives,” Erdoğan concluded. “Failure to reverse this trend of unilateralism and disrespect will require us to start looking for new friends and allies.”

Turkish officials held meetings on Aug. 8 with the State Department’s No. 2 official, John Sullivan, following a move by the U.S. to hit two senior Turkish government ministers with sanctions over the detention of Brunson.

While the two sides stated that the talks will continue, U.S. President Donald Trump announced higher tariffs on imports from Turkey as the Turkish Lira continued to tumble on Aug. 10.

Source

I’m cheering for Vlad the De-railer!

Who do those Americans think they are?

Russia Secretly Helped Venezuela Launch a Cryptocurrency to Evade U.S. Sanctions

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Everyone needs a big friend when the bullies are out to get you!

President Donald Trump may not have realized on Monday that his executive order would step on Russia’s toes. Its official target was Venezuela, specifically the country’s plan to create the world’s first state-backed cryptocurrency, the petro, which went on sale Tuesday.

But behind the scenes, the petro was in fact a collaboration—a half-hidden joint venture between Venezuelan and Russian officials and businessmen, whose aim was to erode the power of U.S. sanctions, sources familiar with the effort told TIME.

Trump’s executive order did not mention the petro’s Russian backers, whose role has not previously been reported. Citing economic sanctions that the U.S. imposed against Venezuela in August, the order simply made clear that anyone who buys or uses the new cryptocurrency would be in breach of those sanctions, as would anyone under U.S. jurisdiction who helps Venezuela develop the petro. “Any conspiracy formed to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited,” the document states.

Source: Time Magazine