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March 2007 Country Archive


Never in the history of mankind has any single nation managed to dominate every other - indeed the very attempt to do so regionally and then globally has throughout history been the cause of numerous wars - including WW's I and II. For centuries, the chancelleries of other nations have regarded this, the dominance of a single power, as the greatest peril possible - to be stopped at all costs. In the 20th C for the first time it was on a global scale, first the rise of the fascists in the 1920's and 30's - most dangerously through the Nazis in Europe. Their aggression had needed to be contained and defeated by an alliance, which came to be dominated by the late-joining USA. No sooner had this been done and victory achieved, than it was apparent that one of the erstwhile allies, a triumphant Soviet Union represented at least an equivalent danger, but on an even larger canvas. This time the world's nations lined up on a roughly east-west divide. From the outset, the USA led an alliance which kept the communists in check and in balance, until eventually their cause collapsed, due to what in their own Marxist jargon could fairly be described as the weight of its internal contradictions.

The USA, twice the hero, even saviour in the last half of the previous century, and widely trusted as a consequence, could be characterised in the final analysis, as being motivated by doing what was right. In simplistic terms, expending blood and treasure because evil needed to be defeated. The world's gratitude and trust was not, at that time, misplaced. 

The sheer momentum of championing the cause of freedom, combined with an amazing economic leap forward and a series of technological breakthroughs, had caused the US to grow its defence industries exponentially. The process never stopped, although now no serious competitor remains. It has now risen so far above the rest of the world in military terms, that with the opportunities given by the incoming Bush government in 2000, an influential group of political theorists inspired by an ideology - Project For The New American Century - had brazenly thought to use this immense power to dominate all other states. No longer, it should be noted, in the interests of world freedom, or anything other than those, as they perceived them, of the USA. This was all about hegemony. Their traditional allies, if not always at government level, then certainly with a majority of their populations, have in the last few years become disillusioned, even afraid of the American bull-in-a- china shop approach. This became commonplace after their blinkered unilateral decision to ignore the UN, and go to an unjust war in 2003. 

This new quasi-imperialist ideology it must be remembered, long predates the catastrophic events of 9/11. That was fortuitous for the neo-cons as it gave them an opportunity to follow on from the fully justified pursuit of al Qaeda in Afghanistan. This was the opening to start their long planned adventure with the invasion of IRAQ that had all the components that they would have had to design or arrange, had they not already been present. 

IRAQ was perfect to kick off the way things were going to be in the 21st century. This oil-rich dictatorship had already caused great offence to the world. Even after Gulf War I - the US and the UK for a decade had never ceased aerial hostilities, purportedly to safeguard the Kurds, but primarily to exert power leverage over the defeated invaders of Kuwait. IRAQ was not to be forgiven for seeking to control middle-east oil. Again, their leader was a terrible man with numerous crimes against humanity on his tab. Additionally he had no allies, having alienated all of his neighbours. Moreover, since this was an Arab state, the notoriously ill-informed US public opinion could be bounced, as they were with help from the right- wing media, into regarding IRAQ as 'the nation behind' what was actually a stateless group of religious fanatics responsible for 9/11 - (logically by such a blunt instrument of a process, it should have been Saudi Arabia, whose citizens supplied 15 out of the 19 terrorists on that evil day). 

But IRAQ was to have been only the beginning. The very fact of crushing this third world nation would also have demonstrated humiliation for sentient nations, as we reported in our previous BULLETIN. We quoted there what Kissinger described as the need to humiliate those radical Islamicists who sought to humiliate the US - "that Afghanistan was not enough". Not measure for measure, but literally 'overkill'. 

Except it all went horribly wrong, as this month's (our forty fifth) monthly report on IRAQ makes clear, as have all its archived predecessors. Because - bottom line- a navy of thirteen Battle Fleets centred on aircraft carriers; the most formidable technologically advanced fighter planes; the sheer array of sophisticated weapons and powerful munitions designed to pulverise any militarily conventional enemy, are however not able to be deployed against street fighters and suicide bombers. As has similarly happened in the military history of all nations, the incredible expenditure which had brought the US into the position of out- matching the military of the next twenty nations combined, was based on a series of scenarios derived from the experience of all previous wars, amplified in this case by the immensely powerful Defence Industry lobby. There are now hundreds of billions of dollars worth of undeployable - thus unusable hardware [see Kicking Martian Butt] leaving in chaos the whole edifice of current military doctrine to confront the likeliest perceived threats for the future. 

Perhaps it is this absurdity that is thus far restraining the US from attacking IRAN. As we report in this issue, the plans to do so obviously have long existed. The military part, excluding any boots on the ground, would be a walkover, but it is beginning to be understood, we devoutly hope, that this would only be another phyrric victory and the price would be exacted in an endless response by an upscaled middle- east (and beyond) campaign of suicide-terror, in which the Iranians excel and invented as a weapon of war when they fought IRAQ. Victory and defeat will no longer be measured by anything so obliging as an enemy putting an entrenched force of conscripts conveniently in the field to be smashed, as Saddam did so disastrously in Gulf War One. This was a lesson learned by all Third World states. Indeed it has altered every conceivable theory of global warfare, which has slid downscale from combined air, sea, and land arms, to low-intensity groundforce operations of a highly personalised kind. The joker in the Iranian pack however, is Israel, who even at the cost of angering the US would still, if they felt the threat to them had reached a critical point, seek to forcibly pre-empt an IRANIAN nuclear weapon. 

It has long been US military doctrine to achieve maximum global reach. The ups and downs of their central Asian bases have faithfully been reported here. Now see this month's reports on POLAND and the CZECH republic. IRAQ was also intended to demonstrate another neo-con doctrine. Let any enemies beware, the rubric goes, we militarily, have the biggest, the best, the most lethal weapons - and you had better do as we tell you. It was the very opposite approach to that wiser earlier president who advised, "speak softly but carry a big stick". RUSSIA in this issue, reports Putin's frank appraisal in some detail and what appear to be his justified comments on what he characterises as a putative re-run of the Cold War. He pointed out during a televised three hour tour d'horizon of a press conference, cross-questioned by Russia's and the world's press - which we comprehensively report, that the US is fuelling a new arms race, with an armaments budget twenty three times that of RUSSIA, and five times that of China

Other powerful nations have taken counsel with each other as to how they can discourage, without overt hostility, this unilateral threat to world peace. INDIA, RUSSIA, and China's Foreign ministers met on February 14th in New Delhi, to make the point that if there is to be a world policeman then it should be the United Nations, not the United States. This was not in the form of confrontation which none of these three giants seek, but nevertheless to make the necessary point. Although wrapped up diplomatically: "the future lies in co-operation not confrontation, " the talk essentially was all of multilateralism not unilateralism. Of course, with the combination of a fair slice of paranoia, plus the bidding-up of the ever opportunistic, multi-billion dollar arms lobby, this US administration are quite likely to react to this kind of soft challenge by upping the armaments budget. It is notable however, that there is talk in the Indian Press of INDIA being invited to become a member of the RUSSIA-China dominated Shanghai Security Organisation, in which it currently holds observer status. If they were to join the SCO it would be as a counterweight to the sheer global bulk of the USA, and for most reasonable people mean that the SCO would thereafter never go down the road of a military alliance. INDIA certainly in such circumstances just would not go there. It is quite likely in our judgement that INDIA will not change its SCO observer status, in return for US support for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. 

With almost two years of Bush / Cheney still to go, in the field of US military adventurism - what happens now? George W. would obviously like some loose-ends tidied away for the history books. Look at NORTH KOREA. It seems that the one-on-one Berlin negotiations we reported in the last issue did enable the full negotiations to succeed - surely making bi-lateral negotiation the clear way forward in the middle-east confrontations with SYRIA, which is ready, willing and able to respond. IRAN also, who cannot feel at all comfortable in the more focused spotlight, since much of the heat is now off NORTH KOREA. After all what originally was a three-strong Axis of Evil, minus IRAQ and NORTH KOREA, leaves just a lonely single hate figure! Our IRAN report reflects these matters and updates the state of play within that nation.

But it becomes clear that Washington is divided, with the Cheney rump and the die-hard neo-cons opposed to the NORTH KOREA settlement, which after all is just about what Bill Clinton had agreed when leaving office, but significantly, at a time before the newest nuclear state had become that. Judging by the Vice-president's statements in Japan and those of his henchman John Bolton, the recently stood-down ambassador to the UN, they are openly critical of the President's, thus Condaleezza Rice's achievement. In this issue, our analysis of the present agreement -entitled: "Will the deal hold," makes all of their points - and more. The good news from NORTH KOREA is extensively analysed in this issue and whilst complicated and fragile, we argue that as a platform for progress which this is, any agreement is better than none when a nuclear armed protagonist, particularly one as spiky as the Dear Leader, is involved. 

As we forecast, despite the six 'candidates' for the vacant Presidency of TURKMENISTAN, the man with the longest name 'walked it' with 89.2% of the vote despite that only a few weeks ago, his main claim to fame was that he had been the Turkmenbashi's dentist, also minister of education - and subsequently rumoured to be his natural son. The OSCE who normally monitor such elections decided to sit this one out, perhaps because his predecessor, the Turkmenbashi, declaring himself the winner in his time, said that he had scored 99.8 % in his election. As Stalin is credited with saying, "It doesn't matter who votes - what matters is who counts them."

Because TURKMENISTAN is important in a world dominated by energy concerns, we recommend this month's report, which clearly presents the state-of-play. Of course we cannot know whether the Turkmenbashi's death was natural or 'assisted'.
One thing which is quite clear, is that his successor could not have achieved office without the active involvement of Akmurad Redzhepov, leader of the Praetorian guard of the previous president. What is not yet obvious is which of them will actually exercise power, or alternatively what reward will fall due? 

As our reports on both UZBEKISTAN and KAZAKSTAN tell the story, there are repercussions in neighbouring FSU states to the unexpected change at the top in TURKMENISTAN, resulting from the sudden death of the Turkmenbashi. In both states the former Soviet regional bosses like Niyazov, found themselves translated overnight to becoming unchallengeable presidents, (read tyrants), of brand new republics. That was sixteen years ago and neither of these powerful men any longer have youth or good health on their side. In both cases these former communists incline to a monarchic succession, of the nearest and dearest of their offspring. But it is proving not quite as easy as that, as both reports make clear. 

We report potentially excellent news from BANGLADESH, a large but hideously mismanaged nation. It has never approached achieving its potential, primarily due to the low quality and corruption of both government and opposition parties alike (they are interchangeable between power and opposition). A newcomer, a national hero no less, has declared a new party: Nagarik Shakti (Peoples Power), to fight the forthcoming elections and this is the current Nobel Peace prizewinner, Professor Muhammed Yunis Khan. 

Unlike politicians far and wide, this man for his part has actually given deeds not words, in that for twenty years he has uplifted the conditions of millions of the poor with his micro-banking operations, on which we have reported (with some enthusiasm) previously. 
But BANGLADESH is deeply corrupt and political power extends into every part of public life. From ward-heelers and party locals, up to Tammany-type party organisations, there is a lot of vested interest in maintaining the status quo. 
We believe that if anyone could break the unholy alliance to keep him out of power, Yunis Khan could make it, even if not in a single election. He is after all an important international economist, and cannot be rubbished as an amateur. But primarily, because he has his support base in the very numerous peasantry who have benefited from his Grameen Bank's operations over two decades. In turn, over the years he has attracted support from many of the best of the nation's middleclass non-political silent majority, with not a lot else to be proud of. In hoping that BANGLADESH will take this one opportunity to earn that international respect which it does not currently enjoy or deserve, we wish him well! 

This was of course the horrifying train bombing on the border of INDIA and PAKISTAN to the Samajhauta Express (means "friendship"). reported in our INDIA Update. There looks to be a possibility that the police might this time actually have good evidence as to who the terrorists were. Suspicion has fallen on a small terror group, primarily of Indian Moslems in Uttar Pradesh, called Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
Partly for this reason, it has not been possible for the one-time knee-jerk reaction that could on past form have been expected from the Indian media, to blame Pakistan. Their president, Parvez Musharraf was quick to denounce the terrorists and point out not for the first time, that his country was also a victim of terrorism - that it was indiscriminate. The most powerful evidence of this perhaps was the simple fact that the many dead and the injured included both Pakistanis and Indians. As a result there has been widespread public revulsion in both countries and perspectives may have altered. The outcome least expected by the terrorists might even be to strengthen the 'Samajhauta'.

PAKISTAN'S report this month chronicles the latest in their vexed relations with their northern neighbour AFGHANISTAN, whose own report tells it from that perspective. 
There is a gulf widening between both nations as to the Taleban. They never were the same thing as the mainly Arabic Al Qaeda, who certainly were allowed bases there prior to 9/11. Unlike these international terrorists, the mainly Pakistani and Afghan nationals of the Taleban, restricted themselves to fighting their political opponents within Afghanistan, moslems like themselves, if less rigorously so. The clear distinctions were papered-over during the aftermath of the invasion of Afghanistan when the US and allies threw their decisive weight behind the Afghan Northern Alliance, that went on to win. Numerous Taleban prisoners were locked up in Guantanamo Bay alongside the appropriately confined Al Qaeda prisoners, on the dubious legal grounds of belonging to the Taleban, the losing side in the Afghan civil war. Now, like the spurious WMD story in IRAQ, it is time for a more sophisticated reappraisal, because the Taleban are a fact of life in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. 

Obviously the political situation in SERBIA is fraught, following the recommendations of the UN interlocutor about the future of Kosovo. We describe the situation in SERBIA and Kosovo. But we also strongly recommend this month's important BOSNIA report, which based upon its own experience, takes a sweeping overview of the predicament applicable to both countries - and to others.

These two Caucasian states - "the terrible twins of the Caucasus"- in fact, have been in a state of war since even before the break-up of the Soviet Union of which both were minor provincial entities. Their unforeseen freedom after the break up of the USSR turned them into minor statelets. ARMENIA still is that and is almost totally dependent upon and under the sway of Moscow. AZERBAIJAN meanwhile has become a significant player in the strategic world of energy supply, whose backers include TURKEY and the USA. The original cause of the war between them is still unresolved, which is the status of the Armenian enclave Nagorno Karabakh, within the territory of neighbouring AZERBAIJAN. The latter have been seeking settlement for a long time whilst ARMENIA, whose president is the former warlord of that enclave could not be brought to the table. The 'honest brokers' of the OSCE Minsk group charged with solving the problems have let it be known, as both our ARMENIA and AZERBAIJAN reports tell, that a deal is certainly now within the grasp of the players. With presidential elections in both countries due next year, can this be brought to a successful conclusion during 2007? 

Its geostrategic positioning, its Turkic ethnicity, its stability and gradually emerging democracy, (in terms of campaigners pressuring state institutions to get there, even if slowly), ensure that this large nation with one foot in Eastern Europe - Istanbul is a European city - and the other in Western Asia, cannot be overlooked. It has a critical role in oil and gas supply through to the west, although has virtually none of its own

This month's report is no different in that it is always necessary to know what is going on in TURKEY, to get the full picture, and thus the implications regarding Caspian oil and gas; its neighbours IRAQ and IRAN, its client AZERBAIJAN and its stance towards neighbouring ARMENIA. All of this, let alone its other neighbour RUSSIA, with whom it has an important energy partnership in the "Blue Water" sub-sea pipeline under the Black Sea. Now there is a great deal of introspection as their own presidential elections start to take shape, which we review.

Poor Lebanon, a small country with so much promise, being virtually destroyed by its neighbours, as though its own violent factions needed any stimulus. Historically this little country has always been multi-ethnic and multi-religious and before the issue of Israel came to dominate the middle-east, the Lebanese themselves had developed a modus operandi, governed by a carefully balanced constitution. It all started to go seriously wrong when they found themselves, like Jordan, sheltering Arabs evicted from Israel in the process of the founding of that state. It took a serious downturn when Jordan then expelled its Palestinian refugees after "Black September," a short sharp military intervention by Jordanian troops to prevent the Palestinian leader's attempt to take over the host state. Lebanon suddenly found its refugee population swollen by a well-armed, organised and funded influx of stateless fighters and their dependents, whose presence completely unbalanced the previously finely tuned relationships. It also brought about an invasion and occupation by the forces of Israel. 
From thereon it has been progressively downhill. Its other large neighbour SYRIA whose report this month describes the most recent horrific events, has also comprehensively interfered with the Lebanon's independence. It is not yet determined who is behind the most recent murderous explosion. Partisans always blame their normal hate figures, but evidence is seldom to be discovered. So much is this the case that we question "who" can be sending "what message" when nobody is certain who the culprit is? Unless it is that they seek to just add to the general chaos. 

The squalid affair of requiring blood money from innocent foreign contract workers, to allow their release after many years of imprisonment, grinds on. We shall continue to report this aspect of LIBYA until it is satisfactorily resolved, because amongst other enormities, they seek western investment to update their oil and gas handling facilities. Shareholders of those potential investing companies should be aware of what kind of country this is, that their managements may seek to invest in. A country that after an AIDS outbreak in a substandard Libyan hospital, arrested a Palestinian doctor and six Bulgarian nurses on the incredible charge that they had deliberately infected the children in their care. They then tortured these women to extract confessions. Following which they were tried in a kangaroo court, not allowed to produce international expert medical witnesses to demonstrate their innocence and sentenced to death. In the international uproar that followed, some of the policemen the nurses accused of this torture, were tried and swiftly acquitted on the specious grounds that they couldn't have done it, because the use of torture is against Libyan law! 
This issue updates these events, which home in on a required blood money payment of $10 million for each child - an identical figure to the compensation that Libya had to pay to the relatives of the Lockerbie plane bombing organised by Libyan secret policemen. 


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