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MAY 2015 REPORTS
THE UK GENERAL ELECTION 2015;
UKRAINE, PUTIN AND THE NEOCONS;
SAUDI ARABIA: A NEW KING WITH WHAT PROSPECTS?
The UK General
The United Kingdom is about to elect a new government for a
five year fixed term in a new situation, imposed by the fact that the old
‘two-party system’ has had to give way, since neither of the two large
‘traditional’ parties can any longer win an overall majority. Following the
2010-2015 coalition government, the first in the 70 years since WWII, it seems
that this was no aberration since no single party can any longer win outright.
This is by no means unusual in neighbouring Europe but the UK –particularly its
insular Press, prefers to ignore any form of perhaps unfavourable, continental
comparisons. Now there is a reasonable expectation that Coalition government has
become the new norm and that has given a boost of interest in the smaller
parties pressing to become potential coalition partners.
The fact is that insufficient members of the electorate can be rallied any more
to vote for either the Conservative Party or the Labour Party, the two
traditional parties of power, yet due to their shortcomings it could be argued,
there has developed a considerable enthusiasm for minority parties. Back in
2010, the outcome of the last UK Election, was a Conservative coalition with the
Liberal Democrat Party, which has now ‘gone the 5 year distance’ on an agreed
policy platform and the appointment of a number of ministers from the junior
It could be said, in terms of governance, to have worked better than expected.
Now, five years later, further upheavals relating to Scotland and the UK’s
membership of the EU have further distorted the old familiar ways, resulting in
a noisy anti-EU nationalist party and a vigorous Scottish Nationalist party
becoming significant in the UK, at least during the election period. That bubble
could burst –or not, when the votes are counted and the 650 constituency seats
are won and lost.
The issues are predominantly domestic: the austerity-ridden economy and the
underfunded, massively popular, National Health Service; now are joined by
disputed UK membership of the EU; a widely negative approach to immigration; the
underfunding of national Defence, the fate of the UK’s nuclear weaponry and
inadvertently by the election itself, ‘the State of the Union’. Very little is
said about the future of the UK in the wider world.
Peter Crisell explains below the realities of present day electoral politics in
a nation that claims to have long been the cradle of world democracy, and to be
governed through the ‘mother of all parliaments.’ [...]
Ukraine, Putin and
During their 24 years of
post-soviet rule, government in Ukraine has been like ‘the rope’ in a
tug-of-war. The nation is in-play as a major pawn between US and Russia, given
Putin’s objective of re-creating a non-communist, predominantly Slav “imperial”
Russia, which cannot conceivably co-exist with the US’s ‘New American Century’
imperialism of the State Department’s neocons. This was exemplified in the
recent US managed coup removing the pro-Moscow Viktor Yanukovych from the
presidency and the short and ugly war that inevitably followed.
Hitherto a key factor in outcomes has been the corruption within the Ukrainian
body politic, that has steadily increased since the collapse of the USSR. What
chances that the appalling recent violence, may conceivably be replaced in
future by the advent of a genuinely selfless body of politicians? Indeed what
Ukraine needs is a truly democratic, truly moral leadership, that puts country
first, but on past form – don’t hold your breath. We have yet to see and welcome
this kind of heroic change – and it’s too soon to form judgements about the
The Russian interest was obvious and quite transparent. Since Ukraine had been
the second largest mainly slav SSR in the Former Soviet Union, it had a key role
fashioned for it by Moscow in their Eurasian Economic Union, which has now got
off to a dismal start. That story continues. But the phoenix-like rise of the US
neocons, undeterred by their total screw-up in Iraq and with both Houses of the
Congress now in Republican hands, has put them once again centre stage in
geopolitics. The neocon phenomenon has not been well known on the European side
of the pond since the Iraq war, so we are particularly pleased to publish this
"Vladimir Putin and the neoconservatives" by WILLIAM PFAFF
PARIS -- Russia and the United States are engaged in a profound ideological
confrontation -- one that isn't widely understood in Western Europe or even at
the White House. [...]
Saudi Arabia: A new
king - with what prospects?
Following the enthronement of
King Salman, Saudi Arabia once more finds itself in a pivotal situation as an
outbreak of rebellion takes place in neighbouring Yemen. It seems appropriate to
review the Saudi world and its obvious effects on ambitions, policies and the
wider framework of the region as a whole, the complexities of which are
‘Saudi Arabia’ suggests the idea of stability in a region that has had little of
it over the past several years, allowing it to enjoy a privileged diplomatic
status with western powers, despite its archaic social practices. In reality,
the Kingdom has fractures and inequalities, which are tribal, sectarian and
class in nature and far deeper than the threat posed by the so-called "Shia
crescent". The conflict in Yemen, which has produced a disturbing increase in
victims in a very short period, has attracted global attention, largely because
of the prominent role played by Saudi Arabia unusually engaged (from the air) in
the actual fighting.
The new Saudi king, has assembled a coalition of (Sunni) regional states to
support his campaign, which the propaganda considers to be as another proxy for
a conflict with Iran. However, for the Houthi tribe to be rebelling in Yemen is far from
new and since Riyadh wants to maintain a dominant sphere of influence in the
region, it also uses the conflict in Yemen for internal political purposes.
King Salman, who succeeded King Abdullah in January, appears to have ignored the
real and many internal challenges facing the Kingdom by adopting an aggressive
foreign policy. [...]