United World International has organized a webinar titled “The Grain War: Sanctions, Hunger and the Quest for a Multipolar World” on October 24.
The webinar hosted 3 speakers: Vyacheslav Matuzov, former Soviet and Russian diplomat, Halil Özsaraç, retired Turkish Navy Staff Captain and Dr. Sherif Fayyad, PhD in agricultural economics, member of the Political Bureau of the Progressive Party, Egypt.
Several international journalists attended the webinar. Besides, it was aired on YouTube live. In the coming days, UWI will present the complete presentation of each speaker.
The cause of hunger and poverty: Big Western companies, sanctions against Russia and West’s banking system
Vyacheslav Matuzov held the first presentation in the webinar. Matuzov emphasized three points about grain issue:
* It is not Russia that causes hunger and poverty, but the sanctions against Russia and the big Western companies that dominate the grain trade.
* The grain shipped from Ukraine is not under the command of Ukraine, but under that of European companies. These companies transport grain to Europe to feed animals in Europe, but not to people in Asia and Africa.
* The Western banking system is a barrier to trade, including in grain. Shipping and insurance companies put pressure on other countries on grain trade.
The need for Türkiye-Russia-Egypt cooperation: Not for hegemony, but for mutual respect and independence
Stressing the need for Egyptian-Turkish-Russian cooperation for stability in the region, Matuzov said: “This cooperation can contribute to stability and peace not only in the grain trade, but also in Syria and Libya, and even in the Sahel countries like Ethiopia and Sudan.”
Matuzov pointed out that such cooperation, unlike what the US is attempting to do, would not be “for hegemony and exploitation over other countries” but for “strengthening together on the basis of respect for mutual independence”.
In this context, on Russia’s relations with Arab and Islamic countries, Matuzov noted: “Russia has a large Muslim population. Russia has always been and will always be a friend of Arabs and to the Islamic countries.”
“Türkiye is like our home in the summers”
Matuzov also focused on Türkiye-Russia relations: “The two countries had many wars in the past, but now they have reached the ground for cooperation. A mutual understanding has been reached for cooperation on a friendly and economic basis.”
Referring to the visits of Russians to Türkiye for tourism during the summer holidays, Matuzov said, “Türkiye is like our home in summer.” He continued describing the role of nuclear energy in future energy production and highlighted the importance of the Akkuyu Nuclear Plant, which is currently constructed in the southern Türkiye in a Turkish-Russian cooperation.
“Russia is not hostile to Europe”
On the impact of the sanctions against Russia on Europe and Germany in particular, Matuzov stated:
“When people talk about sanctions on Russian gas, they usually discuss the difficulties in the winter months for Europe. But Europe’s loss is not limited to the winter months, sanctions against Russia mean the destruction of industries such as German industry. Germany has no alternative to Russian gas.”
“Some people claim that Russia wants to weaken Europe and the European Union. Why would Russia want such a thing? There are strong trade relations between Russia and Europe. Also European technology is important for Russia. Russia does not want to weaken Europe, but to work together in mutual understanding.”
“A new world system is being established”
Matuzov noted that the US-centered unipolar world is collapsing: “A new world system is being established. The US has become unable to dominate the old world order even in the United Nations. Organizations such as SCO and BRICS are now very important and effective throughout the world.”
The second speaker of the webinar was Halil Özsaraç, retired Turkish Navy Staff Captain.
Özsaraç made a presentation mainly focused on the historical cases about food and grain trade in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.
Özsaraç: 4 different historical cases on the relation between sea power and food security and scarcity
“In the history of humanity, food has always been abundant in some geographies, scarce in others, and is on a journey from food abundance to food scarcity. And the most critical path of this journey is on the seas” said he, and presented 4 different cases from the history.
“The Delian League, founded in 477 BC, was established to ensure the maritime trade security of Greece, which consisted of 179 small city-states. Since food was mostly traded by sea at that time, the Greek city-states had to become sailors and combine their military capabilities at sea to ensure their food security. The Attica-Delos Naval Union fought the Persians so that the wheat coming south from the Black Sea could come to their lands. This narrow waterway for which they fought for sovereignty was the Istanbul and Çanakkale Straits, known today as the Turkish Straits, and the Sea of Marmara. the Attica-Delos Naval Union, today’s NATO-like defense alliance. As soon as they drove the Persians away from the Sea of Islands, they had difficulty in sharing his rich food trade among themselves.”
“When the Peloponnesian League, led by the Spartans, won the battle for food routes between 431 BC and 404 BC about for 27 years, the Athenian Union, which was trying to become an empire, was dissolved. As you can see, in the ancient periods of history, when food turned into a commodity sold to distant geographies, it began to be transported from the seas and was the subject of long wars. Food that continues to be transported from the seas will continue to be the subject of wars in the future.”
The other example was the wars between the State of Ben-i Ahmer, the last Muslim state in Andalusia, the Kingdoms of Castile and Aragon in Granada, the Ottomans and the Mamluk State:
“This is an example of how the lack of food that emerged in a war between two Muslim states in the Eastern Mediterranean led to the collapse of another Muslim state in the Western Mediterranean. Food problems in other geographies are critical for everyone, as they have the potential to indirect and destructive power.”
Giving another two historical cases on the Ottoman’s activity on the Mediterranean as well as the distant seas Özsaraç concluded:
“The Ottoman State, which captured the Spice Road after the Silk Road, maintained its power as long as it was able to maintain its ability to protect food traffic from distant seas, and as it lost this ability, it weakened and collapsed.”
As a result of the historical cases, Özsaraç draw the audience’s attention to the relation between “being strong in the seas” and the “food security”:
“Along with the vitality of food, the vitality of the seas in which food moves; I touched on the vitality of being strong in the seas far away from our own in terms of preserving our food.”
After the historical cases, Özsaraç spoke about the current grain crisis:
“Ukrainian grain has never been transported to the starving geographies”
“The food crisis scenarios that terrify the West are actually Africa’s chronic problem. On the other hand, Ukrainian grain has never been a food that can go to chronically starving geographies. Ukrainian food feeds mainly the Mediterranean Basin.”
“It is unrealistic to portray Russia as the scapegoat for world famines”
“In addition, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has announced that the number of people facing chronic hunger will increase from 811 million in 2020 to 824,1 million in 2022 and 2023. In other words, the Ukraine Crisis has the potential to increase the catastrophe of hunger by as much as 1%. In this case, it would be unrealistic to portray Russia as the scapegoat for world famines.”
NATO’s love of SAHEL
Özsaraç highlighted NATO’s growing interest in the Sahel region, claiming that colonialism and imperialism lie at the root of problems such as hunger and poverty:
Nowadays, NATO’s love of SAHEL draws attention. The 11th article of the NATO Strategic Concept, which was approved at the last summit in Madrid, interestingly emphasizes the conflict, fragility and instability of the Sahel region in Africa, and mentions that the region offers a suitable environment for terrorist organizations and that people will be forced to migrate. As you can see, the expulsion of France from the starving Sahel required the US to intervene in the region through NATO. It is not Russia’s operation in Ukraine that is starving Africa, but imperialism itself.
Imperialism and maritime power
Özsaraç emphasized the role of being a maritime power in the worldwide domination of imperialism:
“Imperialism is born with the sea, develops, grows and disappears as it is removed from the sea. Asia and Africa should maritime and cooperate in maritimization. For this, it is necessary to act with a vision based on the ownership of all trade routes around Asia and Africa by Asians and Africans, and the development and unification of defense opportunities from the sea.”
What “Asian Block” should do to prevent the III. World War
Özsaraç also talked about the possibility of World War III. He promoted the naval power that Asia and Africa would build together to prevent the war:
“The III. World War may bring deaths of billions by way of starvation, instead of nuclear weapons. If there is still time, Continental Asia should try to be strong at sea and protect the maritime trade routes together and prevent this war with the integrated deterrence of “Asia”. If being in a military block is delayed after the World War III, the surviving states of “Asia” should try a military block again. If Asian military block could be founded, it should be tried to be expanded to Africa, of course to Sahel from Red Sea to Atlantic.”
A sea power from the Black Sea to the Barents Sea
Özsaraç also made concrete suggestions on the areas that such a sea power should cover:
“So an Asian block should form on the maritime trade routes and encircle Asia from the Black Sea to the Barents Sea. That is;
- Russia with the Arctic and Black Sea;
- Türkiye with the Black Sea, the Turkish Straits and the Eastern Mediterranean;
- Egypt with the Eastern Mediterranean, Suez and the Red Sea;
- At least one of Yemen, Somalia, Djibouti or Eritrea with Bab-el Mandep Strait;
- At least one of the United Arab Emirates or Oman as well as Iran with the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz;
- At least one of Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia with Strait of Malacca;
- And China with West Pacific”.
All these countries should embrace all of Asia, securing the maritime trade routes around Asia. If this block stands firm in the sea, it will become stronger. It will also be a center of attraction for Asian states such as India and Pakistan, which have coasts to the sea, and the Turkish States and Afghanistan, which are Asian states that cannot reach the sea, and of course all African states.”
Building an “Asian Sea Empire”: For the first time in history
“The name of this dream is the “Asian Sea Empire”, which was never established in history. Only an Asian naval empire can cope with the huge naval empire of NATO, QUAD and AUKUS chain blocks that the predatory US has established in the West. Under the leadership of Türkiye, Egypt, İran, China and Russia, this dream should cease to be a dream. It should come to reality. We must seek ways to persuade the states controlling the sea lanes surrounding Asia to cooperate and join forces to fight imperialism, and of course to fight imperialism sourced starvation together.
“Türkiye should leave NATO”
Özsaraç concluded: “The main obstance against the establishment of such a maritime empire is Türkiye’s NATO membership. Thus, Türkiye should leave NATO in order to contribute to this great endeavour.”
The last speaker in the webinar was Sherif Fayyad. Fayyad mostly focused on the economical aspect of the topic in his presentation.
Fayyad stated that “since the collapse of the USSR especially the third world countries started to suffer more from the western political and economic policies”, and illustrated with figures that today’s world-wide increasing inflation, contrary to the US and Western countries’ claims, is not stemming from the war in Ukraine:
Dr. Fayyad: food and fuel prices increases not due to Russia’s special military operation
“Western countries and the US claim that because of the Russian-Ukrainian war the prices of food and fuel increase. But if we look to the international prices for the main food groups like wheat we can find the international wheat price retched 415 $/ton from April to June 2022 and it decrease to reach 316.7$/ton from July till September 2022. For international maize price it retched 342.9 $/ton from April to June 2022 and it decrease to reach 308.4 $/ton from July till September 2022. And for the agricultural inputs especially chemical fertilizes, international Urea price retched 774.2 $/ton from April to June 2022 and it decrease to reach 623.4 $/ton from July till September 2022. For international TSP price retched 810 $/ton from April to June 2022 and it decrease to reach 715.9 $/ton from July till September 2022. For the index number for international food prices retched about 156.55 from April to June 2022 and it decrease to reach 137.2% from July till September 2022 comparing to the base year 2010.
For the international oil prices retched 108.9 $/bbl from April to June 2022 and it decrease to reach 98.3 $/bbl from July till September 2022 (Dubai crude oil).
The impact of developed countries’ governmental expenditure on health sector
All this can show that internal food and oil prices decreased and the war still running, which means that the war is not the main reasons for the increasing in the international food and oil prices in the beginning of this year, but this is due to the inflation that happened in the developed countries that happened due the governmental expenditure on health sector since most of the EU countries discovered how weak there health sector system was during the COVID pandect. And due to their monetary and physical policy that they apply to increase investments to solve the negative growth rates that happen during 2019/2021.
“Western countries want to put the responsibility on the Russian side”
“So they want to put the responsibility on the Russian side while they are the main source of this economic crisis that happen and all the world are suffering from. In addition there are nothing called free market since the capitalist system play with the supply and demand to put the price of any commodity according to their needs and there benefits.”
“Ukrainian government only cares about joining NATO, not hunger”
Stating that despite grain agreement in Istanbul “only 4.5% of the grain it goes to the poorest countries” he concluded. “This illustrate to us that the main aim reason for the Ukrainian side (that is supported form the capitalist countries), that the Ukrainian authority do not care about the poverty and hunger in the world, but care to join the NATO.”
Sherif Fayyad mentioned that today’s capitalism cause extreme poverty in the third world countries and in Asia. Fayyad, pointing out that current international order is attempting to suppress its opponents by war (Palestinian and Iraq case) or economic means (Russians and China case), draw attention to the need of south-south cooperation:
“So the unity of the southern countries and learning and studding the international experiences that have a real and successful experience in intendancy like China, Russian and Brazil (during Lola de Salvia period) we have to understand it and support it to create world with no exploitation and classes, saving the natural resources from demolish so as to be save it to the coming generations in a nice form, through using this natural resources in an efficient and sufficient way by the people and to the people.”
Fayyad also emphasized thre importance of Russian nuclear technology and knowledge in current Egyptian construction of energy plants.
Consensus among the speakers: The vast potential for cooperation
After the presentations, journalists asked questions to the speakers.
In this section, where the speakers also contributed to one another, what emerged as the most prominent and unanimous idea was that Egypt, Russia and Türkiye have a vast potential to cooperate economically, militarily and politically against US imperialism.
The speakers suggested that such cooperation could achieve concrete goals such as the acquisition of military bases reciprocally, the transfer of technology and the implementation of a system different from the US-dominated money transfer system international level.