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SYRIA & IRAQ: NOW WHAT ABOUT THE
KURDS?; NORTH KOREA PUSHES ITS
SCANDINAVIA LEADS THE WORLD
For the past seventeen years we have published annually (and updated)
‘World Audit,’ our Democracy league table, ranking those (now 154)
nations with populations in excess of one million, and publishing, together
with relevant details.
The information we receive from our data partners*, is based on the criteria
of Human Rights, Civil Rights, Freedom of the Press and
(absence of) Corruption, allowing us to rank the 154 nations in four
divisions in a League table format.
Few will be surprised at most of the nations in the long, long, tail at the
lower end of our democracy tables, but at the top, the extraordinary success
of four countries - with little to choose between them, have been the
same ones every year since we commenced World Audit in 2001.
There are others, fine democracies easily recognisable as such, regularly
close behind, but the Scands seem almost unassailable at the top, in what
they do so well. (indeed Iceland, excluded from these tables only because it
doesn’t have the minimum one million population, would almost certainly be
right up there with them, were they so qualified).
Sara Bielecki examines these success stories The four regular
democratic ‘models’ are the nations of Denmark, Sweden,
Norway and Finland.
Since only 30 nations in Division One and the 7 in Division Two are held
to be fully democratic, that leaves 117, an uncomfortable and considerable
majority of the 154 nations, that sadly remain undemocratic. The next
generation worldwide, has a lot to do!
(It is coincidental that Denmark at number One; and North Korea at number
One Hundred and Fifty Four, are featured in two out of the three NewNations
reports in this issue).
*World Audit data gratefully received from “Freedom House” in New York and
“Transparency International” in Berlin.
Scandinavia Leads the World
* * *
Now what about the Kurds?
With the loss of their Iraqi Capital, Mosul and with Raqqah in Syria-the
proclaimed ISIS capital, under heavy siege, it looks altogether possible
that ISIS, greatly diminished without its seized territories, will continue
to lose the military campaign, even though their survivors are likely to
revert to their former, terrorist group presence in Syria and Iraq. Also in
the indiscriminate publicity-seeking attacks by their supporters on
civilians, of the 'kafir' nations of the west.
It should also be remembered that ISIS still have a combative presence in
Afghanistan, Libya and the Sinai desert of Egypt.
How then was their imminent military defeat achieved without large western
armies being deployed? Military historians will say it was through the
conclusive use of allied airpower, added to and co-ordinated with the
successful ground offensive, waged on behalf of the allies, largely by the
Kurds, who proved to be both very brave and effective and whose presence in
both Syria and Iraq made them full-on players. With all the problems the
official Iraqi army had in contesting ISIS, the Kurds supported by Allied
airpower ‘stepped up’ at a critical time.
Alessandro Bruno, in this issue assesses how the Kurds might be recompensed
for the heavy sacrifice of their young men and their valiant women soldiers,
that has been made in the ISIS wars. He explains how it is for them with
their presence in a mountainous homeland that they have occupied for
centuries, but with no nation state of their own. Having an ethnic
population of some 35 million, mostly Sunni moslem, spread between
communities in Iran; in Turkey -with whom they are engaged in a long lasting
and bloody civil war for a version of self-rule; also in both Syria and
Iraq, where they have fought against the ISIS islamists and have an uneasy
relationship with the governments of those two war-torn nations – where they
seek a degree of independence, as is described.
Those nation’s political boundaries are how the Kurdish homeland is
currently ‘carved up,’ some boundaries longstanding, others as the outfall
of world wars and the collapse of empires.
In this issue, Alessandro Bruno speculates on what they might have been
promised for their blood sacrifice by the US and whether it will be
Now what about the Kurds?
* * *
North Korea Pushes its Luck!
Our report on the current state of play in North Korea is updated from last
June’s account, partly because of the new heightened tensions due to North
Korea’s provocative ballistic missile overflight of Japan’s northernmost
mainland island Hokkaido, on 28th August, crashing into the sea hundreds of
miles beyond Japan –the tensions now being enlarged because of who has his
‘finger on the button,’ and is now speaking for America.
International relations have seldom teetered on any plausible threat of the
use of nuclear weapons, but that is how it has been since the current
President Kim in Pyongyang has so publicly developed his nation’s potential
for a nuclear device…and then… one of such a size that it
could be carried by an ICBM…and then, to develop an ICBM with
a range that made his threats plausible - nothing secretive about it.
The US has fumed, over past years and the UN has pronounced sanctions, which
theoretically should have flattened the aspirations of this difficult
regime, as is pointed out by Aidan Foster-Carter - along with his
masterful assessment of ‘what’s up’ in Pyongyang.
North Korea, ever since its first nuclear related sanctions, following its
nuclear test in 2006 has not only survived the resulting economic pressure,
but it appears that its GDP actually grew in 2016 (by 3.9%), its best
performance for years!
The fact that President Trump is now the voice of America on this issue, has
heightened the slanging-match aspect of the situation, but everyone is now
waiting for the next move. Although setting “the seas near to Guam on fire”,
has been threatened, it really does not seem convincing, although with Kim
Jong- un, never say ’never’. Apart from any other consideration, although
the world has acknowledged that the new generation of rockets tested by N
Korea has acquired an unexpected range, there is nothing to indicate from
the available reports, as to there being any degree of accuracy in the key
matter of target selection.
The talk was originally of a throw capability of reaching Alaska which, it
seemed to be indicated from observed tests, was now feasible, but Alaska is
huge. Guam on the other hand is a very small island and the Pacific is
absolutely immense. Yet Pyongyang has shown before that it still has the
capacity to surprise.
North Korea Pushes its Luck!
Clive Lindley - Publisher/Editor