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NEWNATIONS BULLETIN 2ND JULY 2012

 

NO SUMMER BREAK FOR GEOPOLITICIANS
 
Things are looking bad all over! As the northern hemisphere populations prepare for summer holidays, it is surprising how elsewhere many 'kettles are coming to the boil.'

MIDDLE EAST & NORTH AFRICA
Iran may be the worst news, but there are other candidates. Now it can be seen, with Ahmadinejad’s star in descent, that it is the Ayatollah making the big decisions. He appears to have shut the door on probably the last opportunity of de-escalating the crisis which the Moscow meeting offered him, without his nation losing face. Or, in the alternative provoking a nasty, and not so little a war if diplomacy seizes up, with world-wide ramifications.

‘It is said’ that Netanyahu has given an undertaking to the White House that the IAF will not attack Iran’s “nuclear” installations, before the US presidential election. But he is by no means a decent man and faced with the temporary leverage of forcing Obama’s hand to support such an action, it would be a foolish bet to just assume he would not ‘go for it,’ given the circumstances.

There are other reasons right now for Israel to further consolidate with the US. The authoritative NYT in its overseas edition of June 23/24 carried an equally authoritative article, saying that a third ‘intifada’ in Palestine is now inevitable! That the Palestinian Authority by working so hard to restrain violence from their people, at the continuing settlement building taking over the land of Palestine piecemeal, and the lack of progress over many dreary years, getting no closer to the two state solution that they were promised (when the UN created the State of Israel); that all of this has convinced Israeli citizens that they really don’t need to do anything; that the Palestinians have been tamed, that things can just carry on as they are, the IDF will protect them – and hey, everything will be alright. (But the International Crisis Group doesn’t think so!)

Meanwhile, barely over their horizon in Egypt, Israelis can see the first real step towards the crucial Al Qaeda project – the dream of Osama bin Laden - that the Arab states should rise up against their corrupt western-facing rulers, and replace them with Koran-packing Sunni (of course) heroes of the long struggle, exemplified by the events in Egypt. It is also what will happen in Syria if Mrs Clinton and Mr Hague get their way, in throwing out this ruling family and their non-Sunni government and army, in favour of Sunni ruling families, as in Saudi and most of the Gulf States. Syria has a constitution guaranteeing freedom of worship. That will not survive the Saudi/Qatari insurgency backers, intent on Syria becoming an Sunni Islamic nation, which obviously would no longer be allied to Shi’ite Iran (hence the Clinton-Hague duet over this nation).

It is telling that Al Qaeda fighters are now in Syria on the same side, sharing the objectives of the other Sunni rebels, seeking the overthrow of this, to them a heretical sect of Islam. With four distinct leaderships, the rebels are obviously factionalised with different objectives, all of which depend on the downfall of the present government. Syria has for millennia been one of the cross-roads of the world, its population is much more heterogeneous and complex than Libya, or most other Arab states. There are several species of Christian for a start, including some ancient versions hardly known of in the west. The Alawites in Syria, the nation’s largest single minority have shared power and senior positions with other minorities, so for the revolution to succeed it is necessary to have Syria conform to the Sunni branch of Islam. Forget about democracy. It’s not something that they do in Qatar or Saudi Arabia, or in the Arab League, or GCC, at all.

Henry Kissinger, in an article enquiring why the USA State Dept. was involved in this mess, pointed out that: “this struggle reflects, in large part, the millennium old conflict between Shia and Sunni and is an attempt to reclaim Sunni dominance from a Shi’ite minority.” That has been our understanding from the beginning, it has never been a crusade for democracy!

If it were to become the turn of the substantial Christian minorities to be hounded and massacred by Moslem purists cleansing away the unbelievers, let alone the three million Alawites, the schismatic Druses, the Kurds and several other religious and ethnic minorities. each of whom could expect to be lethally persecuted, as the result of events precipitated now by the US and UK chancelleries, (a 21st C re-run of the 19th and 20thC Turkish massacres of Bulgarians, Armenians, et al). See then how western public opinion will be outraged at the folly of their own government’s present policies. Now the powerful western nations are playing a role in unleashing this mindless destructive religious energy, all a part of their geopolitical strategy of (slightly) weakening Syria’s powerful friend, Iran. Extraordinary, but we have to acknowledge that Russia is reading it right and that the west has still not learned from Iraq and Afghanistan, not to try to interfere, and to keep well out of these religious wars.

Even before Syria, which may yet not fall to its righteous besiegers, we are likely to see perhaps Tunisia and almost certainly Libya, move irrevocably towards some form of Islamic government. Short of the military strongman, whom they are replacing, just as in Egypt when the people gain the vote, then every indication is that an Islamic government will come to power. That is the result of implementing only that fraction of ‘democracy’ that requires equal votes for all, which has outrun its essential democratic companions of free speech, an independent media, honest police; justice in the courts. These voters have never had the benefit of a liberal education, as opposed to study of the Koran, in a society where corruption is and probably has always been widespread and unpunished. Islamic government as can readily be seen, is not about such banal western fripperies.

TURKEY is understandably upset at having a fighter aircraft shot down over the sea by its Syrian neighbours, seemingly losing the aircrew to the sea. Turkey invoked an article of the NATO treaty really to gauge how far they can take this issue, but probably to mollify its domestic audience. Apparently no NATO ambassador pressed them hard on why was a reconnaissance aircraft flying a training mission testing new radar equipment over a warzone and a very sensitive frontier?

The same day came the news, that a flight of Turkish military aircraft breached the Iraqi border to bomb Kurdish rebel (against Turkey that is) installations within the Iraqi province of Kurdistan.

Reports on Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Turkey, Libya, Saudi Arabia.

RUSSIA & THE FSU
RUSSIA is clearly set upon consolidating the former soviet vassal states of its near abroad. BELARUS because of its dictator, doesn’t fit either the Russia Federation, nor the western community of nations. UKRAINE really has nowhere else to turn but to Moscow following the failure of the ‘Orange Revolution’ and the effective repudiation of such rule-of-law advances that had been made, under their struggling westwards-looking predecessors.
The elephant in the Russian room is a resurgent Islam which is energised, not solely because of religious compulsions, but rather as a banner under which anti-soviet type control instincts, can be released.

Central Asia is divided between Russia and China geographically, and in terms of political influence. The Afghan war now winding down has energised a substantial body of Islamic fighters who have much in common with the sovietised non-slav citizens of Southern Russia and the Caucasus, from whom have sprung an indigenous semi-permanent rebellion against the rule of Moscow. Putin’s - and perhaps it should also be the wider world’s nightmare - is that after Afghanistan is no longer in a civil war, stateless Al Qaeda-type fighters will link up with the rebellious citizens of Federated Russia in their permanent conflict. Much as Putin has mourned the break-up of the Soviet Union, he must wish that having done it, they might at the same have time moved out of Ingushetia, Dagestan, Chechnya and other Moslem elements of the Russian Federation. And not having ‘given away’ to independence, non-moslem Ukraine, Belarus, and the albeit soft-moslem, great petro-states of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, who fortunes we regularly follow.

This spread of anarchic Islamic fighters in their neighbourhood, more than any fear of a future incursion by the western powers, can be seen to be the cement that binds Russia to China in the Shanghai Cooperation Council.

Reports: Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Georgia

EAST AND SOUTH EAST ASIA
North Korea looks at the imperial dynasty of this particular Kim family (there are great quantities of Kims in the Koreas), and how readily the system accepts the latest heir to power.

China is accused in our reports on Philippines, and Vietnam, of bullying in the South China Sea, equally validly called the West Philippines Sea. China - or its navy has a whole new way of defining international waters. None of it is anything to do with that boring old UN International Law of the Sea Convention, to which they are signatories. In their de facto definition only sea within the territorial limits of each nation, ie twelve miles offshore, is national, excepting all the rest, which is Chinese, ignoring the EEZ as we show. They have old maps they say that prove it, but of course so do Vietnam and Philippines. The US Navy has been expecting this ever since China built itself a bluewater navy and inevitably there are going to be incidents. (The Philippines report includes a map of the sea area).

Taiwan is also apprehensive of China as the leadership changes in Beijing become imminent. The fawning Ma government of Taiwan has no idea of what the incoming leadership have in mind in for what Beijing regards as a lost province.

Myanmar is reaping the harvest of international ‘goodies’ to reward them for letting that nice woman Aung San Sui Kyi out into the world, as well as into their parliament. Now they are attracting substantial grants rewarding them for choosing (a limited) democracy and several new trade partners after their raw materials, at which of course China has already taken the first bite.

Reports: North Korea, Vietnam, Philippines, Taiwan, Myanmar

SOUTH ASIA
Pakistan and Afghanistan can seldom be comprehensively read without reference to each other – and this issue is little different.

Pakistan lost its able prime-minister Gilani, removed from power by the courts who have become serious players in national politics. This was a case of showing ‘who is boss’ as Gilani had failed to deliver his chief the president to the courts, for which he ‘took the rap’. India is rightly concerned as relationships with Pakistan under the very competent Gilani, had greatly improved, from their dreadful low following the Mumbai massacres. Now India wants to see if his successor is of the same calibre and will there be progress. India’s internal politics again are covered in this issue.

Afghanistan is moving into a new phase of preparing for life without America doing their fighting for them. Who the players will be in ruling the future Afghanistan, is still highly speculative, starting with Karzai who is constitutionally required to retire by 2014, and might even do so. This barren countryside seems to have a wealth of desirable minerals and raw materials, which if they can be exploited point to a new source of wealth. But of course Afghan society is top down and wherever minerals are found in commercial quantities there will also be local chieftains extorting partnerships for themselves and their extended families, quite apart from corrupt administrators back in Kabul.

Reports: India, Pakistan, Afghanistan

EUROPE
The Euro: The financial crisis continues to dominate European politics and more, as the world’s daily media make clear. In mid-June Newnations published an analysis and proposals [THE EURO] which were the work of Bryan Gould, now an international commentator. At the time of the Euro’s formation he was a financial minister in the UK Labour Party’s shadow cabinet, well known for his opposition to the Euro, based upon the way it was constructed. His analysis and hard hitting proposals to treat the causes of the affliction - rather than the symptoms, may indeed be what will finally have to take place.

We report on three transitional states in Europe: HUNGARY, ROMANIA and BULGARIA, where rightist ultra-nationalism - fascism if you will, is on the rise again, as are cynicism and apathy. Many would agree with us that it was a crazy idea to allow Romania and Bulgaria into the EU when their systems were totally corrupt, as they had always been. In Bulgaria indeed when communism went out of one door the former Bulgarian KGB operatives became instant capitalists using the methods of the secret police, seizing the heights of the new system, just as happened in Russia. Hungary, also a former Soviet satellite, at least had a long European tradition as a European business and finance centre –they were the ‘New York’ to Vienna’s ‘Washington DC’ in the long years of the Austrian empire. They have not been able to recover that kind of importance in the 21st century.

Reports: Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria.
 
Clive Lindley
Publisher

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