Monthly political analysis on nations in
economic or political transition

JULY 2015


The Hegemony Games

Hegemony: He-gem-o-ny: Roget’s Thesaurus offers: -

superiority, preeminence, primacy, paramountcy, dominion, mastery, control, jurisdiction, dominance, dominion, superiority, overlordship ...and much more!

This word, ‘hegemony’ is the new way of describing overarching authority, as in the US government’s reading of their supposed relationship with the world. Recently a US government spokesman complained about China’s “failure to acknowledge US hegemony in respect of the Pacific Ocean”. This concept of entitlement, we believe, lies at the very root of the continuing unsatisfactory relationship between Russia with the US and the western world.

It certainly imperils the US’s future relationship with China.

It is a supremely dangerous, ill-considered doctrine! [

Has Democracy 'clipped Erdogan's wings'?

The long rule of Erdogan in Turkey as AKP prime minister, and latterly as President of the nation, has seen much progress, marred in recent years, by his rather unseemly self-promotion and reluctance to share real power. We earlier admired him as the elected political ruler of the middle-east’s sole democracy (excepting the much smaller Israel). But over these years, that very democracy has looked to be in peril by his actions appearing to be much less democratic than his words, and by apparently gathering ever more power unto himself. Indeed with this election, Turkish democracy seems to have ‘come good’ and the Turkish electorate themselves have done what was necessary.

With his clamping down, as Prime Minister over and again, on free speech in the media, punishing critics with prison terms and generally his use of the courtroom to deal with his perceived opponents, his reluctance to oppose ISIS; his rather savage obliteration of the military high command, who after all were charged with safeguarding the constitution by Kemal Attaturk himself, who undeniably created modern Turkey. All of this, plus his ‘Putin-like’ attempt to include key prime-ministerial powers in his baggage, when he moved up to the magnificent new presidential palace, certainly caused concern about the future of democracy in Turkey.

His clear hatred and provocation of the Alawite government in neighbouring Syria, and of its President Asad and colleagues, principally Shi’ites, but also Sunni, Christians, Druses, Ismailis, demonstrated how he worked alongside the anything-but-moderate salafist regimes of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and some of the Gulf States. He was billed and generally considered abroad to be a 'moderate Sunni Moslem Democrat', a political status rather like – the comparisons were made - Christian Democrats in Europe. Yet it appeared that the Shia-Sunni confrontation with its ‘shadow’ Iranian –Saudi patronage of these different Moslem sects, became paramount in his approach to his neighbours in Syria. Many will remember his comprehensive lack of enthusiasm, for co-operating in any way to shut down the new ISIS menace, which convinced some that he was perhaps a secret patron of this ultra-extreme Salafist grouping.

In short, we feared for democracy itself. What happens now we consider below but hope that the Turkish Constitution, which has perhaps ’saved the day’ can continue to reinforce this important nation’s Democracy, as Erdogan certainly will not willingly relinquish power. After all, he remains the country’s president. [

North Korea: Does anyone have a game plan?

When NewNations last focused on North Korea in October 2014, our headline asked: “Does Kim Jong-un have a game plan?” That question remains pertinent in mid-2015, but it should be widened. With the Young Marshal now in his fourth year of power in Pyongyang, his goals (survival apart) remain opaque. But equally, many of North Korea’s key interlocutors appear no longer to have any clear strategy for dealing with this endlessly defiant and oddly resilient rogue state. This article will try to summarise the current state of play and future prospects. [continues...]



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