Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia Times Online, where he wrote the column The Roving Eye from 2000 to 2014. Born in Brazil, he's been a foreign correspondent since 1985, and has lived in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Washington, Bangkok and Hong Kong. Even before 9/11 he specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central and East Asia, with an emphasis on Big Power geopolitics and energy wars. He is the author of "Globalistan" (2007), "Red Zone Blues" (2007), "Obama does Globalistan" (2009) and "Empire of Chaos" (2014), all published by Nimble Books. His latest book is "2030", also by Nimble Books, out in December 2015. He currently lives between Paris and Bangkok. The following is Mr. Escobar’s interview with the English section of Khamenei.ir.
When Palestinians defend themselves by throwing stones, they’re called terrorists, while Israel threatens Palestinians’ life on a daily basis and is considered innocent. Moreover, U.S. politicians have said many times that Israel has the right to defend itself; do you think they want to imply that the people of Palestine do not have the right to defend themselves?
The whole narrative across the West is framed by the multiple ramifications of the Israel lobby - with fuel to the fire constantly added by Zionists and American, French and British Zio-cons. They control key media outlets and always employ the same crude tactics to discredit critics; ANY criticism of Israel - which is usually directed to the framework of an apartheid state, and the state's internal and foreign policy - is blasted as "anti-Semitic". Criticism of Zionism has never had and will never have anything to do with anti-Semitism. Arguably the best deconstruction of this myth is available in the book aptly titled "Deconstructing Zionism", edited by Gianni Vattimo and Michael Marder (Bloomsbury, 2014). A subplot of the myth is the "Israel has the right to defend itself" meme - which turns reality around to justify any repressive or frankly fascist Israeli attack. On top of it, Palestinians are not considered equal citizens to Israelis (the notorious, perennial Golda Meir maxim "there are no Palestinians") and the Israeli elite overwhelmingly regards Arabs as inferior beings.
Many argue that the Zionist regime has been planted in the region to sow discord and keep regional countries busy with internal conflicts? What is your take on that? What is your understanding of the establishment of the Zionist regime?
Israel is essentially a European - and later American - aircraft carrier parked in the most sensitive area of Southwest Asia - what the West calls "the Middle East - to divide and rule Arabs, sow perpetual chaos, and expand its (never defined) borders to the benefit of a myth, the notion of Eretz Israel ("Greater Israel"). Such an entity obviously can survive only if it faces "threats" and is perpetually surrounded by "enemies" (the narrative of "tiny" and "defenseless" Israel surrounded by brutes.) "Threats" and "enemies" essentially comprise the Palestinians; previously all Arabs, and then, narrowing down to Iraq (destroyed by the US invasion/occupation) and Syria (being destroyed by a NATO/GCC alliance as we speak); and finally Iran, because of the Islamic revolution; the fact that Iran's foreign policy is independent; and that Iran is the de facto major power in the region. The fact that Israel and the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia have a shady alliance with plenty of convergence in their foreign policy is all we need to know about the Israeli power play in the region.
Who do you think benefits the most from the ongoing chaos in the region and the crimes of Daesh and al-Qaida?
The key beneficiaries so far are the US government and the state of Israel, as salafi spreading chaos is the perfect Divide and Rule tool. Zio-cons of all stripes have been very busy spreading the myth of an intra-Islam Sunni against Shi'ite war for years now. This has nothing to do with a religious war. It's about regional power. A fearful, paranoid House of Saud - allied with Israel - is terrified of the ascension, and normalization (vis a vis the West) of Iran.
Do you believe that there is a real coalition against Daesh? Is Daesh the only terrorist group? How do you assess Iran, Russia, and China’s decisions in fight against terrorism?
The real coalition against Daesh is the "4+1": Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq plus Hezbollah. Their advances on the ground, and on the record, speak for themselves. The US-led-from-behind coalition is mostly for show. Turkey and GCC members are not really interested in fighting Daesh. Their rhetoric - which has nothing to do with facts on the ground - insists that Daesh is aligned with the Assad government. Russia - followed by China - and Iran have clear motives to fight Salafi-jihadi terror derived from the Wahhabi matrix; after all, the three Eurasian powers are on Salafi-jihadi's sights, from Xinjiang to the Caucasus to southeast Iran.
The Syrian government is known for its resistance against Zionism, do you think this is the reason the Western governments want President Assad toppled?
There are myriad reasons for the demonization of the Syrian government. Opposition to Zionism is just one of them - as an enfeebled Syria fits the trademark "Divide and Rule" policies of Israel. Israel wants to take over the Golan Heights. Qatar and Turkey want to build a gas pipeline though Syria to supply Europe - in direct competition with the proposed, $10 billion, Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline. And from a Beltway point of view, a Syria ruled by pliable politicians as a client state would enfeeble Iran in the Arab world. This is all about hardcore power play at work.
It’s been several months now that the people of Yemen have been witnessing the destruction of their hospitals, houses and infrastructures thanks to the Saudi bombardments of the country; the U.S. administration, however, has either remained silent or supported the Saudis. How do you think the U.S. benefits from the war in Yemen given that the Saudi regime is bombing both Sunnis and Shias in Yemen, hence so one can argue that it’s not a sectarian but rather a political war? What is your take?
The (failed) Saudi war on Yemen is hardcore politics; the so-called great financial power of the Arab world bombing the poorest Arab nation. It's not about religion. And Blaming Iran may only fool the misinformed. The House of Saud badly fears a Yemen that does not behave as a pliable satrapy. Because of the complex - and irrational - US-Saudi pact, Washington cannot antagonize Riyadh openly, and influential Washington circles bought the Saudi myth of fighting "Iranian aggression". For most of these circles the priority is always to demonize Iran - irrespective of facts.
A while ago President Obama admitted the faults of U.S. administrations dealing with Iran over the last decades namely the 1953 coup and supporting Saddam in war against Iran. In your opinion what is the most heinous crime the U.S. has done toward Iran?
Arguably the most heinous Washington crime committed against Iran was the CIA-facilitated coup against Mossadegh which led to the installation of the Shah as the "gendarme of the Persian Gulf". Not only the CIA but the whole US national security apparatus would have loved that state of affairs to go on forever. And that explains why they never got over their defeat by the Islamic revolution.
U.S. officials say they have prevented Iran from building nuclear weapons by signing a nuclear deal with Iran. Do you think the U.S. government is honest with American people about the deal with Iran? Why do you think they do not talk about Ayatollah Khamenei’s fatwa (verdict) prohibiting nuclear weapons?
Everyone with detailed knowledge of the facts over these past two decades knows the Iran nuclear dossier was a manufactured crisis, as Gareth Porter's book amply demonstrates. The spin sold inside the US and across the West by Team Obama was that US diplomacy prevented a nuclear Iran. That's bogus. All factions in Washington never recognized the Leader's fatwa against nuclear weapons. Team Obama had to finally admit that sanctions and perennial demonization of Iran were leading nowhere - and were bad for business. For Obama in particular, the nuclear deal ended up being his sole foreign policy success. There's also the notion - an open case - that Iran might be back as a partner to stabilize the Middle East while Washington invests in its "pivot to Asia". What these calculations did not take into account was that the "normalization" of Iran will in fact drive the nation towards deeper Eurasian integration - with China and Russia especially - and more commercial deals with Europe, but not necessarily to better understanding in US-Iran relations.