by Stephen Lendman
Davos, Switzerland hosts the annual World Economic Forum (WEF). It's a money power celebration. It's a billionaire's ball. It's a convocation of rich, powerful, privileged elites.
They're "committed to improving the state of the world" for greater personal power and enrichment.
Numerous heads of state show up. Central bankers and other policymakers join them. So do hundreds of corporate bosses, investors and economists.
IMF head Christine Lagarde arrived. US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew is participating. So is World Bank boss Jim Yong Kim. John Kerry came.
Privileged journalists and celebrities are invited. Matt Damon, Bono and Margaret Atwood are there. So is Al Gore. About 2,500 participants arrived. They're from nearly 100 countries.
Monied interests run things. They take victory laps. They do it annually.
Sessions this year run from January 22 - 25. "The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business" is this year's theme.
Davos is an exercise in self-congratulatory excess. It's an embarrassment of riches and power. It reflects hubris writ large. It's ongoing at a time of epic inequality and human misery.
Monied interests never had it so good. Poverty and unemployment in much of the world are worse than ever.
Predatory capitalism works this way. It benefits the few. It harms the great majority. A new Oxfam report said the richest 85 elites have more wealth than half the world's population.
Imagine: Their total net worth exceeds what 3.5 billion people combined have. With a modest annual rate of return, they could spend millions of dollars daily and never dent their principal.
A new Gilded Age reflects unprecedented wealth/poverty extremes in much of the developed world.
Davos hills are alive with the sound of wealth, power and privilege. Power brokers strut their stuff. Ordinary folks aren't welcome.
Annual World Economic Forum (WEF) gatherings began in 1971. This year marks the 44th time.
WEF calls itself "an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging leaders in partnerships to shape global, regional and industry agendas."
It aims for greater wealth and power. It wants unchallenged global dominance. It wants powerful movers and shakers alone benefitting. It claims otherwise.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended this year. So did Iranian President Hassan Rohani. Their worldviews are polar opposite and then some. Both leaders spoke.
Ahead of his address, Rohani said he prioritizes "constructive engagement with the world." He wants normalized relations with all countries.
He called sanctions imposed illegal. He knows AIPAC wants stiffer ones. "We are not afraid of threats, and the language of threats is ineffective when it comes to Iran," he said.
Treating Iran respectfully benefits the region and other countries, he added.
He believes rapprochement with Washington is possible. It requires both sides making a sincere effort, he stressed.
"No animosity lasts eternally. No friendship either lasts eternally. So we have to transform animosities into friendship."
"This effort is necessary to create confidence on both sides. Iran is in fact stretching out its hand in peace and friendship to all countries of the world and wants friendly, good relations with all countries" in return.
On Thursday, Rohani addressed the World Economic Forum. He said resolving Syria's conflict requires combatting terrorism.
"There is no military solution to the crisis in Syria and the spreading of terrorism doesn't deserve the interest of any country."
He urged all parties to work for peace and stability. At the same time, he doubts Geneva II talks will resolve things.
He sees little chance for success because most participants "are behind (Syrian conflict and) instability."
They "support terrorism. They are responsible for the instability in the region."
Iran seeks regional peace and security. It wants it restored. Geneva II could work if participating countries pursued the same goals, he said.
Their agenda is polar opposite. Peace remains a distant hope.
Rohani said he came to Davos to convey Iran's message of friendship, interaction and peace to WEF participants.
No country can solve its problems on its own, he stressed. None can do it while ignoring others.
"We are all on board one boat," he said. "If we do not choose a wise captain, storm will hit us."
Iran wants constructive engagement with other countries on environmental issues, nuclear safety, joint economic initiatives, expanding trade, Palestinian rights, resolving Syria's conflict, regional security, and combatting extremism and terrorism.
"I believe that expansion of economic, social, cultural and tourism cooperation plays a pivotal role in establishing peace and security in the region," Rohani said.
Iran won't sacrifice its legitimate nuclear rights, he stressed. He'll do all he can to reach a comprehensive final agreement later this year.
Tehran will observe all international regulations. Legitimate nuclear rights won't be sacrificed. Iran's program has no military component.
It seeks none, Rohani stressed. He took issue with Western and Israeli accusations otherwise. He hopes "constructive engagement" will resolve things equitably.
He wants Iran's economy to be one of the world's top 10 in 30 years. He sees it "as the most congruent, capable and closest to that of successful emerging" countries.
He called Davos a good opportunity to exchange views on vital world issues. He wants Iran to engage more countries in trade.
On January 23, the Financial Times headlined "Iran courts western oil majors at Davos," saying:
Rohani "asked a group of western oil majors to detail the conditions under which they would return to his country, as Tehran continues its drive to win back international business amid a thaw in sanctions."
He held meetings with BP, Eni, Royal Dutch Shell and Total. His oil minister, Bijan Namdar Zangeneh joined him.
The asked oil officials to submit contracts they'd like Iran to adopt. Follow-up meetings are planned.
They'll take place in London this summer. Contracts will be prepared in September.
According to Eni CEO Paolo Scaroni:
"The very fact that the president of Iran chose to spend an hour with us shows how interested he is in attracting international oil companies into the country."
The FT said he wants international companies for new projects. They include developing "the giant South Pars gasfield."
Rohani wants more oil production from existing sites and new ones. Iran ranks fourth in proved reserves after Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Canada.
Scaroni said contractual terms are as important as sanctions. "If we don't have a good contract, we won't go into Iran even if sanctions are lifted."
China is Iran's major foreign oil producer. Other countries are interested. According to he FT:
"Executives from state oil companies, including Pemex of Mexico, Lukoil and Gazprom Neft of Russia and Petrobras of Brazil" met with Rohani.
Netanyahu's WEF address didn't surprise. "Israel is not what's wrong in the Middle East," he said. It's "what right."
"I am ready for peace. I'm ready for a real secure genuine peace..."
His notion of peace is unconditional Palestinian surrender. It's continued occupation harshness.
It's more land theft and ethnic cleansing. It's stealing Palestinian resources. It's exploiting its people.
It's confining them to isolated bantustans. It's wanting all valued Judea and Samaria areas Judaized.
It's wanting Jerusalem as Israel's exclusive capital. It's denying diaspora Palestinians their legal right of return. It's what no responsible Palestinian leader would accept.
Netanyahu is a world class thug. Why Israelis put up with him, they'll have to explain.
He lied saying Arab countries "understand that Iran remains aggressive, supports terror, that it participates in the slaughter in Syria, (and) that is pursuing the development of ballistic missile and plutonium for nuclear weapons."
He said Rohani's address had "no connection to what's going on on the ground. (He) continues Iran's deception show."
"The goal of the Iranian ayatollahs' regime, that hides behind Rohani's smile, is to ease sanctions without giving up their program to produce nuclear weapons."
He urged the international community "not to be duped."
No evidence whatever suggests an Iranian nuclear weapons program. Israel is the region's only atomic power. It's unacknowledged, undiscussed and well known.
World leaders know Iran's program is entirely peaceful. Western ones duplicitously suggest otherwise.
Rohani is clear and unequivocal. In Davos, he repeated what he said earlier:
"We never sought and will never seek nuclear weapons. I declare that a nuclear weapon has no place in our security strategy."
Iran seeks a denuclearized region. Israel is a major threat. It's a warrior nation.
It's nuclear armed and dangerous. It maintains chemical and biological weapons. It uses them against adversaries. It uses radiological ones.
Regional peace and stability depend on defeating its agenda. It's about halting Washington's imperial ambitions.
It's about achieving what never before was attainable. It remains a distant hope. It's unlikely any time soon.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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