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Geopolitics

Trump And The Ayatollah

With the choice of controversial retired Gen. Michael Flynn to be White House National Security Advisor comes a new flurry of anticipation (and worry) that American foreign policy will be turned on its head with the election of Donald Trump.

Take the Iranian nuclear accord negotiated by the Obama Administration, which Trump has called "the worst deal ever" in, well, the entire history of dealmaking. Tehran is watching the coming changes in Washington, with conservative Fars news agency this week quoting past remarks by the hawkish diplomat John C. Bolton, touted as a possible Secretary of State, urging support for Iranian opponents intent on toppling the regime. The more moderate ISNA agency preferred to cite, hopefully perhaps, comments by another Trump ally, Rudolph Giuliani, saying that the nuclear deal with Iran could not be ignored completely.

The conflicting reports reflect unease in Tehran over the best- and worst-case scenarios of a Trump presidency. A commentator in the conservative daily Resalat, Hamed Hajiheidari, wrote Thursday that at least America's "mischief" would now become more evident. Democrats were always "more destructive," he argues, as they "tricked" many governments into trusting the United States as benign.

In his first comments on Trump's election, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei offered what can only be described as a yawn. He told a crowd Wednesday that "we have no judgment" on Trump's election, because "this is the same America that has brought us no good whichever party is in power" the reformist paper Shargh cited him as saying.

If Trump's foreign policy turns into nothing more and nothing less than an extension of his "Art of the Deal," we can safely say that Tehran will be like no other re-negotiation he has ever faced.


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Germany

Khodorkovsky: Don't Count On A Swift End To The War In Ukraine

The West is deceiving itself if it hopes for a quick end to the Ukraine war. Above all, it must consistently implement an energy transition — otherwise, it will remain at Putin's mercy, writes prominent Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky, in German daily Die Welt.

Image of a worker repairing a gas pipeline damaged by a Ukrainian military strike on the centre of the town of Volnovakha, Russia

January 20, 2023: A worker repairs a gas pipeline damaged by a Ukrainian military strike on the centre of the town of Volnovakha, Russia.

Valentin Sprinchak/TASS/ZUMA
Mikhail Khodorkovsky

-OpEd-

LONDON — In the spring of 2014, I went to Kyiv with a large group of Russians representing the European part of the Russian cultural and social elite to express our solidarity with the Maidan protests in Ukraine, and our disapproval of the Russian annexation of Crimea.

Many of us then flew to Kharkiv and Donetsk to meet with Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine who were concerned about what was happening.

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In Donetsk, among others, I had a conversation with the leaders of those who stormed the regional administration, including Denis Vladimirovich Pushilin, the current head of the "Donetsk People's Republic." Since then, it has been absurd for me to listen to those who still do not understand that the destabilization of eastern Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea were a "special operation" of the Kremlin from the very beginning.

It is amazing that there are still people who do not understand that Putin is not simply riding the wave of an imperial renaissance in Russia. He is consistently pushing this wave himself, helped by clever propaganda and the direct financing of imperialist-minded national patriots. At the same time, he is suppressing the voices of the sane part of society.

Putin has already used war to solve domestic problems four times (1999 in Chechnya, 2008 in Georgia, 2014 and 2022 in Ukraine) — if you don't count the war in Syria and the de facto annexation of Transnistria, a region in Moldova, which did not "catch on" with public opinion. Putin's main goal is to stay in power, although in recent years there has been a shift toward "legacy." This means a partial restoration of the empire and its influence.

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