In the following is our translation of an article from RIA Novosti with notes [in brackets] by Vince Dhimos (notations in parentheses are the author’s).
Donald Trump is not doing well in handling the US part of the pandemic, but after all, he's never done this before. But the good news is that it's all China's fault.
Feel safer now?
US President names the culprits of the epidemic
March 18, 2020
In an ideal world, periods of global epidemics and natural cataclysms of a planetary scale should lead to the unification of mankind to combat a common threat.
Moreover, in the case of coronavirus, the disease does not check the passport, nationality and registration before infecting a particular person. Thus, this is exactly the very kind of danger that directly relates to all representatives of our biological species.
The reality turned out to be rather disappointing, because the search for ways to combat the disease is accompanied by disputes about the "nationality of the virus," and this is occurring not only, and not so much, among the idle inhabitants of different countries in quarantine, but at the highest international level.
The stakes in these disputes, unfortunately, are much higher than might appear at first glance: a country that cunning sponsors of information warfare manage to label as coronavirus "initiators" may well be forced to "pay and repent" in the truest sense of the word.
In Berlin, Washington was severely criticized for trying to lure with big bucks the German firm CureVac, which is developing a vaccine against coronavirus.
Donald Trump can safely be considered the main beneficiary in the search for the "ethnicity" of the virus, and for several reasons. First of all, the epidemic simply fits perfectly with the main political narrative of the Trump administration, which boils down to the formula: "China is to blame for everything, China must be punished, and only then will we make America great again."
It is impossible not to notice that while other countries did not tightly close the borders or failed to close them at all, they prepared tests for coronavirus and generally prepared for the risk that an epidemic would come to them (which, in fact, happened), senior representatives of the White House were promoting the idea of exporting American factories from China, because, due to the quarantine (which was then perceived by the Americans as a "totalitarian measure"), American consumers risked "not getting Chinese goods."
In part, this was justified – due to the shutdown of Chinese production, the United States risked being left without medicines, medical masks and medical equipment (which they had forgotten how to produce on their own), but still the situation in which the administration is concerned about the "Chinese question" rather than steps for protecting Americans from an epidemic, it didn’t look very savoury. "In an interview with Fox News and the Fox Business Channel, [Peter] Navarro (Trump's adviser. - Ed.) Stated that the presidential administration is focused on moving production chains to the United States from China, India and Europe in the context of a coronavirus outbreak," wrote American news portal Breitbart on February 26.
It is easy to guess that "moving production chains" is a matter of several years, but they were talking about for days. The New York Times aptly noted after the outbreak in the USA that "China gave the West time to prepare. The West was ineptly wasting it."
The American solution was easily found (and this time “Russian intervention” could not be blamed), and they are now absolutely consciously and absolutely consistently “politically branding” the epidemic as having been caused by the “Chinese virus.” Donald Trump systematically calls it that on his personal twitter, and his supporters do likewise. [China thinks the US may be behind the pandemic, and an increasing number of Westerners and Russians agree: http://www.newsilkstrategies.com/news--analysis/march-17th-2020]
For example, in his message of support for US airlines, Trump wrote: “The United States will provide strong support to industries such as airlines and others that are particularly vulnerable to the Chinese virus. We will be stronger than ever before!” Despite all the protests of Chinese diplomats that were transferred to the US State Department and voiced through the official Chinese media, Trump continues to speak in the same vein. The calculation is clear: if China is to blame for everything, then it would be impossible to make official Washington claims for poor quality work to prevent the epidemic, and this will not work if all public anger is directed towards Beijing. This strategy already has consequences that would be funny if they happened in less sad circumstances. Americans are now lining up long lines in supermarkets, trying (sometimes with physical violence against other customers) to acquire supplies of toilet paper, products and weapons, and information about this is all over American social networks and the media. At the same time, numerous stores located in Chinatowns (and other "Asian" areas) are empty of customers, despite the fact that their shelves are bursting with "scarce items" (that is, the same toilet paper and canned goods that the Americans crave). The phenomenon has even attracted the attention of regional media that publish life hacks that the way to find a "scarce item" is precisely to go for a purchase in Chinatown.
When the foundation of Chinese billionaire Jack Ma published information that he would make 500 thousand tests for coronavirus and medical masks available for free in the USA, the reaction of American social network users in places was extremely negative: Mr. Ma was criticized because “China was to blame,” and some commentators insisted that tests and masks should be discarded precisely because of their Chinese origin.
It is worth noting that refusing the help of a Hong Kong philanthropist (who also sent aid to Italy and African countries) would not be the most rational step, because in America there are indeed problems with tests for coronavirus. The Atlantic magazine reported on March 13 its investigation, showing that "it can only be confirmed that 13,953 tests (for coronavirus. - Ed.) Were conducted at the national level." For comparison, according to a TASS report dated March 15, "in the laboratories of Rospotrebnadzor [Federal Service for the Oversight of Consumer Protection and Welfare], more than 104 thousand studies have been performed on coronavirus. <...> The department pointed out that all the subjects of Russia are provided with sufficient quantities of test systems."
It is significant that the US State Department in the person of Mike Pompeo is very offended when Chinese diplomats begin to publicly ask uncomfortable questions about the source of the virus, hinting at the possibility of its American beginning. [Here is our story on that: http://www.newsilkstrategies.com/news--analysis/march-17th-2020]
One can already say that the diplomatic and informational struggle for the right to blame someone else for all the problems associated with the epidemic will continue for many months – or even years – after the epidemic itself ends. But it is unlikely that the efforts spent on this will bring even a little comfort and help to those who have suffered or will suffer from the virus.
Today’s news on the Middle East war, from Southfront:
U.S. FORCES WITHDRAW FROM KEY BASE NEAR SYRIAN BORDER. MORE ROCKET ATTACKS ON US TARGETS IN IRAQ
March 18, 2020
Late on March 17, at least three rockets struck the area near the US embassy in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone. This was the fourth such attack in the span of a week. A day earlier, a pair of rockets struck the Besmaya base south of Baghdad. This military facility is the second largest military base operated by the US-led coalition in Iraq after Camp Taji.
The threat of rocket attacks already forced the US military to announce that it is evacuating some of its bases in the country. The al-Qaim base, near the Syrian-Iraqi border, is among them. The al-Qaim facility has been an important logistical and operational hub employed by US forces for operations in western Iraq and eastern Syria. Its presence there, as well as in Syria’s al-Tanf, has allowed the US to project its power along the Syrian-Iraqi border more effectively and to support Israeli military actions against Iranian-backed forces in the area.
Al-Qaim is located on the highway between the Iraqi capital of Baghdad and the Syrian city of Deir Ezzor. The town of al-Bukamal, which Israeli and US media often label as a stronghold of Iranian-backed forces, is located on the Syrian side of the border.
The withdrawal from al-Qaim is a signal that the US has been forced to admit that its attempts to cut off the land link between Syria, Iraq and Iran have failed. Washington was seeking to prevent a free movement of troops, weapons and other supplies from one country to another.
Meanwhile in Syria, the Idlib zone remains the main focus of tensions. Idlib armed groups and their supporters continue blocking efforts to create a security zone along the M4 highway in southern Idlib, as had been agreed by Turkey and Russia. These actions are accompanied by a fierce war propaganda campaign against the Damascus government, Iran and Russia. If the situation develops in this direction and further, the only remaining option to implement the new de-escalation deal and neutralize the terrorist threat will be a new military operation.
This just in from Al Masdar
Ansarallah forces bomb several Saudi oil facilities
BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:10 P.M.) – The Ansarallah forces announced on Wednesday that their air force heavily targeted several Saudi economic facilities, including oil and gas fields.
The spokesman for the Ansarallah-aligned Yemeni Armed Forces, Brigadier Yahya Sare’a, stated at a press conference broadcast: “The Saudi enemy received painful strikes in response to its escalation on the ground and air in the battle to liberate Al-Jawf.”
“The Air Force conducted 54 operations, including 33 operations targeting several Saudi military and economic sites,” he continued.
“The operations of the air force managed to inflict heavy losses on the enemy in terms of equipment and lives in addition to economic losses as a result of targeting vital installations related to the oil and gas industry,” he would add.
His statement comes at the same time that the Ansarallah forces announced that their troops had reached the gates of Marib city in northern Yemen.