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Et Tu, Mullah?

Did Iran Just Knife Putin in the Back?

by MIKE WHITNEY

On Thursday, Ukraine’s parliament passed a law that will allow foreign investors to lease up to 49 percent of Ukraine’s transit pipelines and underground gas storage facilities. The bill, which had failed to pass just weeks earlier, was approved by the slimmest of margins, 2 votes, suggesting that there might have been some arm twisting or bribery behind the scenes. The new law is a victory for the Obama administration and western elites who want to control the flow of gas from Russia to the EU, set prices, and make sure that transactions continue to be denominated in dollars. Here’s a little more background from an article in Reuters:

“Ukraine’s parliament approved a law on Thursday to allow gas transit facilities to be leased on a joint venture basis with participation from firms in the European Union or United States….The government has said the joint venture will bring in investment and remove the need for the South Stream pipeline, which Russia’s Gazprom is building to take gas to southeastern Europe across the Black Sea, avoiding Ukraine.

If South Stream is built, it threatens to deprive Ukraine’s badly strained budget of the transit fees that it currently receives from Russia for gas heading towards Europe.

The EU imports 30 percent of its natural gas needs from Russia, and about half of that comes via Ukraine, with some already having been diverted through the Nord Stream pipeline under the Baltic Sea.” (“Ukrainian parliament backs bill to open gas pipelines to EU, U.S. firms”, The Star)

You can see that the bloody, fratricidal conflict in Ukraine has nothing to do with democracy, sovereignty or even “evil” Putin. It’s all about gas and pipelines. It’s all part of Washington’s grand plan to put a wedge between Russia and the EU, control the flow of vital resources, and establish NATO bases on Russia’s western flank. The fact that the article mentions South Stream is particularly revealing.  The Obama administration is doing everything in its power to sabotage South Stream so that Russia will be unable to bypass troublemaking Ukraine and sell its gas directly to countries across Europe. (Here’s a map of South Stream.)

Washington doesn’t want free trade between neighbors.  Washington wants every drop of Russian gas to pass through its tollbooth so it can maintain a stranglehold on Europe’s economy and on Moscow’s revenues. Here’s more on South Stream from Bloomberg:

“The $46 billion South Stream project, spearheaded by OAO Gazprom, is on hold and will probably remain in limbo for years as Russia continues to foment armed conflict in eastern Ukraine and the EU retaliates with bans, Eurasia Group said.

That means the war-torn country will remain a key transit point for about half of Gazprom’s shipments to Europe, according to the New York-based risk research group. The EU previously had mixed positions on South Stream. With Russian troops massing near the Ukraine border, the bloc now has little choice but to stand united in opposition.

“There’s no way Europe is going to put South Stream negotiations back on the table now, given the larger geopolitical context of the Ukraine crisis,” Emily Stromquist, a Eurasia analyst in London, said in an interview.

The proposed 2,446-kilometer (1,520-mile) pipeline would run under the Black Sea and enter the EU in Bulgaria. That would end Gazprom’s dependence on the Ukrainian gas-transit system.” (“Putin’s Pipeline Bypassing Ukraine Is at Risk Amid Conflict”, Bloomberg)

So, you see, the US is using every trick in the book to prevent Russia from selling its gas to the EU.

But, why?

Because the US is left out, that’s why. Washington doesn’t want what’s best for the EU or Russia. Washington want what’s best for Washington. What they want is to pivot to Asia by pitting Moscow against Brussels, thus, creating the pretext for deploying cat’s-paw NATO to Ukraine so they can point their missiles at the Russian capital and bully everyone in the region. That’s the plan.

By the way, the claim that “Russia is massing troops by the Ukrainian border” is nonsense.  An International team of inspectors was sent to Russia to check things out and here’s what the found:

“No instances of violations by Russia along the Ukrainian border had been registered by the inspectors,” the ministry said. “The last four months have witnessed 18 separate inspections along the Ukrainian border with the Russian Federation, all in line with the Vienna Open Skies Treaty and the Vienna agreement of 2011.” (RT)

See? It’s all baloney, just like most of what you read in the western media about Ukraine is baloney. In fact, there have been a number of excellent articles written on the topic just recently, notably articles by Ron Unz and Karel Van Woldferen. Having done considerable research on the topic, businessman and political activist, Unz is amazed at, what he calls “the utter corruption and unreliability of the mainstream American media”, adding that  “the events of the last dozen years should have bankrupted any faith we have in our government or media.” (“American Pravda: Who Shot Down Flight MH17 in Ukraine?“, The Unz Review)

In a similar vein, Dutch journalist and retired professor at the University of Amsterdam, Karel Van Wolferen, takes aim at both the media and the state, but saves his most devastating salvo for Washington:

“America’s history,” he says, “since the demise of the Soviet Union, of truly breathtaking lies: on Panama, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Venezuela, Libya and North Korea; its record of overthrown governments; its black-op and false flag operations; and its stealthily garrisoning of the planet with some thousand military bases, is conveniently left out of consideration. ….Decent Europeans cannot bring themselves to believe in the dysfunction and utter irresponsibility of the American state.” (“The Ukraine, Corrupted Journalism, and the Atlanticist Faith“, Karel Van Wolferen, The Unz Review

Both articles are worth reading in full.

In any event, readers would be well advised not to trust anything they read in the media about Ukraine. It’s all bunkum. Just like the ridiculous article, that popped up in the Guardian last week (that was intended to start World War 3) is bunkum. Here’s the scoop: Last Thursday, journalists from the Guardian and the Telegraph reported that a convoy of Russian military trucks and armored vehicles crossed the border into Ukraine. Here’s a clip from the article in the Guardian:

“The Guardian saw a column of 23 armoured personnel carriers, supported by fuel trucks and other logistics vehicles with official Russian military plates, travelling towards the border near the Russian town of Donetsk – about 200km away from Donetsk, Ukraine.

After pausing by the side of the road until nightfall, the convoy crossed into Ukrainian territory, using a rough dirt track and clearly crossing through a gap in a barbed wire fence that demarcates the border. Armed men were visible in the gloom by the border fence as the column moved into Ukraine. Kiev has lost control of its side of the border in this area.

The trucks are unlikely to represent a full-scale official Russian invasion, and it was unclear how far they planned to travel inside Ukrainian territory and how long they would stay. But it was incontrovertible evidence of what Ukraine has long claimed – that Russian troops are active inside its borders.”  (“Aid convoy stops short of border as Russian military vehicles enter Ukraine”, Guardian)

“Incontrovertible evidence”, you say? No photos, no satellite imagery, no nothing. We are asked to believe that two professional journalists didn’t even have a workable cell phone with which they could take a picture. That’s Incontrovertible evidence?

Shortly after the alleged incident, Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko issued a statement saying “that his country’s armed forces had destroyed part of an armed convoy that the Guardian saw moving through a gap in a border fence on Thursday night.”

Got that? So, now they not only SAW the phantom convoy they also blew it up. Not bad for a day’s work.

Okay, so where are the prisoners? Where are the blown up hulks of the armored vehicles? Where are the casualties? Where’s eyewitness testimony of the people who first appeared on the scene? Where’s the photographic proof from US satellites that were combing the area at the time? There’s has to be something to substantiate a claim as serious as this; a claim that could lead to a declaration of war on Russia.

Nothing. They have nothing; not a shred of hard evidence. It’s all just fluff.

This is sadly reminiscent of the bogus claims of “mobile weapons labs” and “aluminum tubes” that were used launch the war on Iraq. Similarly, all the media fell in line, reiterating the same basic narrative with zero evidence. Here’s a blurb form the New York Times:

“The government of Ukraine, pushing to oust pro-Russian rebels from their last enclaves in the east while nervously eyeing a stalled Russian aid convoy, said on Friday that its force had destroyed a number of Russian military vehicles that it said crossed into Ukraine late Thursday through a border area controlled by the separatists.” (NYT)

And the Telegraph:

“There was growing concern over the Ukraine crisis on Friday night after Kiev claimed to have destroyed parts of a column of Russian military vehicles, with Nato accusing Moscow of launching an “incursion”. Petro Poroshenko, the Ukrainian president, told David Cameron, the Prime Minister, that government artillery had destroyed a “considerable part” of a small military convoy that entered the country.” (Telegraph)

And the Kyiv Post:

“Ukraine claims it has destroyed Russian military vehicles in the country’s east, a day after a column was spotted moving across the border. Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, told David Cameron by phone that his country’s armed forces had destroyed part of an armed convoy that the Guardian saw moving through a gap in a border fence on Thursday night.” (Kyiv Post)

Propagandize. Wash. Repeat.

Russia’s Defense Ministry basically laughed off the allegations as politically motivated lies saying:

“No Russian military column that allegedly crossed the Russian-Ukrainian border at night or during the day ever existed….Such statements – based on fantasies, or journalists’ assumptions, to be precise – should not be subject for a serious discussion by top officials of any country,” said Major General Igor Konashenkov. (RT) 

Ask yourself this, dear reader, if Russia had sent armored personnel carriers across the border into Ukraine, do you really think they’d do it on the same freaking day they were trying to get a green light for their humanitarian convoy? And if they did; do you really think that that Poroshenko would give the humanitarian convoy the go-ahead?

Of course, he wouldn’t. He’d be too busy declaring war on Russia. But he’s not declaring war on Russia nor has he stopped the humanitarian convoy.

Why? Because he knows that the whole story is bullshit, that’s why. His behavior proves its a lie.

PIPELINE POLITICS

If you follow pipeline politics, there was a development last week that will blow your socks off. In a nutshell: Iran sold out and switched over to the dark side. Don’t believe me? Take a look at this from World Bulletin:

 “As the Ukraine crisis puts Russia and Europe at odds, leaving Europe with no choice but to search for alternative natural gas resources, Iran looks likely to fulfill Europe’s demand. Iran’s deputy oil minister Ali Mejidi has indicated that the Nabucco Project, which was presented as an alternative to Russian gas with the potential of fulfilling a large proportion of Europe’s need before being put on hold last year, is now back on track.

Speaking to Russian press, Mejidi confirmed that two separate delegations were sent to Europe. “With Nabucco, Iran can provide Europe with gas. We are the best alternative to Russia,” he said.  Mejidi also said that though a number of routes to deliver the gas to Europe were being considered, Turkey was the “right address.”

The Nabucco project, which was first presented in 2002, plans to pump gas to Europe via Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria. The project will also pump 31 billion cubic meters of Azerbaijani and Iraqi natural gas to Europe.”  (“Iran to provide Europe with alternative to Russian gas”, World Bulletin)

Wow.  What a kick in the teeth that is. This is a huge blow not just to Putin, but to everyone who seeks a multi-polar world run by sovereign nations who believe in the rule of law.

How did this happen? And why is Iran climbing into bed with the Great Satan instead of pushing for their original plan which was to build a pipeline from Iran-Iraq-Syria? Could it be that Uncle Sam is going to make sure that that pipeline never gets built? Is that why Washington is letting a couple thousand homicidal maniacs (ISIS) run around Syria and Iraq lopping off heads and wreaking havoc; so it will be impossible to lay pipe or transit gas?

It sure looks that way, but there’s more too. Check out this blurb from an article by William Engdahl:

“In 2009, the Emir of Qatar went to Damascus to negotiate an agreement with President Bashar Assad for a Qatari gas pipeline from their huge offshore gas field, North Dome, which is contiguous with the Iranian South Pars field in the waters of the Persian Gulf dividing the two countries. The South Pars/North Dome field is the world’s largest gas field, shared between Iran and Qatar….. Qatar’s proposition to Assad was to build a gas pipeline that would bring Qatari gas through Syria and into Turkey, a close Qatari ally. Assad refused,  citing Syria’s strong energy relations with Russia.

In March 2011, Assad signed another gas pipeline deal: this time with arch-Qatar enemy, Iran. Qatar is fundamentalist Sunni and home to the radical Muslim Brotherhood. Iran is fundamentalist Shiite Muslim and Iraq is ruled by a Shiite Prime Minister. Both Iran and Iraq back Assad in the current war for control of Syria. The Iranian gas pipeline would extend from its Persian Gulf field through Iraq and through Syria. No sooner was the ink dry on the Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline when a full-scale terror war, financed by Qatar to the tune of billions of dollars,  exploded across Syria.

Now Russia has stepped in, after the failure of Qatar, the Saudis and Turkey to topple the Assad regime and replace it, either with a fundamentalist Wahabite Saudi regime or a fundamentalist Salafist Muslim Brotherhood, one that would do business with them and not with Russia.” (“Syria attraction: Russia moving into Eastern Mediterranean oil bonanza”, William Engdahl, RT)

In other words, if you don’t do what your told to do, and sign on the bottom line; then we’ll start a terrorist war in your backyard and you’ll get nothing. Isn’t that what’s happening to Syria?

You bet, it is. Still, that doesn’t explain why Iran sold its former friends down the river. For clues to that, we need to look back to before Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was elected and the western media was all atwitter about what a “moderate” he was. (Moderate is a euphemism that is usually applied to US puppets.) It all started back in September, 2013, when Rouhani opened up a channel for talking with Obama. It was obvious from the get-go that the White House figured they had a guy in Tehran, they “could work with”. Here’s a little background for the incident the pundits called “the phone call”:

“President Barack Obama and new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke by telephone on Friday, the highest-level contact between the two countries in three decades and a sign that they are serious about reaching a pact on Tehran’s nuclear program….

As president, Rouhani is the head of the government but has limited powers. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is the ultimate authority in Iran with final say on domestic and foreign policy, though Rouhani says he has been given full authority to negotiate on the nuclear issue….

In his speech to the 193-nation U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, Obama cautiously embraced Rouhani’s gestures as the basis for a possible nuclear deal and challenged him to demonstrate his sincerity. However, the failure to orchestrate a handshake between the two leaders that day, apparently because of Rouhani’s concerns about a backlash from hardliners at home, seemed to underscore how hard it may be to make diplomatic progress.” (“Obama, Iran’s Rouhani hold historic phone call”, Reuters)

Of course, they couldn’t shake hands, because they are supposed to be mortal enemies. But, clearly, Rouhani has been busy behind the scenes cozying up to Obama. And it’s paid off too. Check this out from UPI:

“Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addressed delegates gathered for an economic forum in the Iranian capital. He said sanctions pressure has eased in coordination with multilateral negotiations over Iran’s controversial nuclear program.

Iran under the terms of a multilateral agreement reached in November can export around 1 million barrels of oil in exchange for curbing nuclear research activity. Rouhani said moving forward with nuclear talks with the United States, China, Russia, Britain and France, plus Germany, should bring benefits to the international community.

“Western and eastern countries are telling us the sanctions have harmed them and their removal will benefit all,” he said.

The Iranian Oil Ministry said Tuesday its oil sales for the first four months of the year were up 5 percent when compared with last year.”  (“Iran: Easing sanctions brings global relief”, UPI)

Iran’s fictional “nuclear program” had nothing to do easing sanctions. The whole thing is a red herring. The nuclear program is just a stick the US uses to beat up Tehran whenever they get the urge.    Here’s what’s really happened:   Washington agreed to ease up on the sanctions if Iran caved in on the gas deal, which it did. Now the US-backed Nabucco pipeline is back in business, while Russia’s South Stream is on the rocks.

You got to admit:  US really knows how to play smash-mouth politics when it has to.

One last thought: The only way Washington would do a deal with arch-enemy Iran, is if there was some other country they hated even more.

That would be Russia.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.