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MANIFEST DESTINY & 'AMERICA
IRAN IS NOT A "PUSHOVER"
BREXIT BRITAIN BLUNDERS OUT OF THE EU
Almost a year has passed since the UK government in March 2017 triggered
its intended withdrawal from the EU by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon
Treaty. This gave the UK two years to negotiate a deal on its future
relationship with the EU. The conflicting signals emanating from
government on Brexit highlight its weakness, disunity and incoherence.
They give no confidence that the government can negotiate effectively with
the EU. The Brexiteers in the Conservative parliamentary party are in a
minority but, emboldened by the referendum result, their support and
acquiescence are needed for Theresa May’s survival as leader. Inconsistent
and self-contradictory policy pronouncements have exacerbated the
uncertainty and anxiety felt in Britain and across Europe.
Since the article was written, Theresa May admitted in a speech on 2nd
March that the government’s decision to leave the EU single market and
customs union will mean less good access to Britain’s largest export
market than it currently enjoys. On the same day, Donald Trump dashed any
hopes that a free trade agreement with the US would compensate for that
loss. The president announced his intention to impose swingeing import
duties on steel and aluminium, including on imports from the US’s partners
in free trade areas such as Canada. Peter Crisell writes an update
on recent events in the sorry Brexit saga.
* * *
China’s Belt Road Initiative: What is it and Who Wants it?
China’s Belt Road Initiative (BRI) is a project of monumental scale and
significance. It involves 65 nations, more than half the population of the
planet, almost 40% of global GDP, and it costs an estimated $1 trillion.
It is the single largest infrastructure development since the Marshall
plan of 1948. As Trump pulled out of the Trans Pacific Partnership and
turns his back on Asia, the BRI assumes even greater significance. The
‘belt’ is the ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’, a series of overland corridors
connecting China with Europe and passing through Central Asia and the
Middle East. The ‘road’ is a sea route, connecting the southern coasts of
China with East Africa and the Mediterranean. The initiative involves
immense infrastructure construction: power plants, wind farms, factories,
railways, pipelines, industrial parks.
In this issue, Sara Bielecki discusses the various reactions of the
countries affected from the wary interest of Russia to the indifferent but
slightly hostile response of the US and Europe, and from the enthusiasm of
Pakistan to the deep suspicion of India. Whatever, the attitudes to the
BRI may be, it marks a profound shift in global politics.
CHINA'S STUNNING BRI INITIATIVE
* * *
The Syrian Civil War: No End in Sight
Seven years into the Syrian civil war, the Bashar al-Asad regime is still
in power, a situation few would have dared to predict. He has survived
ISIS, al-Qaida, the Turks, the Americans, Saudis and Qataris, thanks to
his allies, the Russians, Iranians and Hezbollah. It has been a
humiliating defeat for the uncertain and dithering West which has always
wanted Bashar al-Asad to be defeated. It has also increased Israel’s
feeling of insecurity. Paradoxically this has led it to form alliances
with some jihadi groups.
In this issue, Alessandro Bruno unravels the complex game of power
politics which the Syrian war has produced, a war that is played out with
little regard to the appalling human suffering endured by citizens trapped
within its confines.
Clive Lindley - Publisher/Editor