UKRAINE, IRAN & SYRIA
In this May issue we update our observations on Ukraine, revealing something of the unknowable limits of the endemic corruption that has been on open display since 1991, when the Soviet Union imploded. Of course, in Soviet times the puppet Kiev parliament was just a branch office for the ministries in Moscow, but nearly all the illicit monies that came through Ukraine, on independence, then stopped automatically flowing to the Soviet capital. It was a great day for Ukrainian politicians, great and small and 25 years later, nothing of any substance has changed. Meanwhile some US and western apologists have tried to paint a more favourable picture of this former Soviet state that borders Europe, none more so than the heavily neocon - influenced sector of the US State Department, ‘responsible’ for that nation.
Farce it might be, but it is even more of a tragedy, when after a quarter of a century, Ukrainians find what enjoying ’democracy’ and being ‘in the free world,’ has brought them. The US could bring this cosy corruption to an end, but their even greater fear is that Moscow would then reassume control in every way that mattered. Also it is a basic tenet of Foggy Bottom that the Moscow-inspired ‘Eurasian Economic Union’ should not succeed – they had already frustrated Moscow’s rather ineffectual launch of this economic alliance. The collapse of Kiev’s control in eastern Ukraine was the result. Against this background, Ukraine is further than ever from EU membership, and unless the NATO allies have lost their marbles, there can be no question of Ukraine becoming a part of NATO.
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We publish a report on a new-looking Iran, as it addresses its competition for regional supremacy with a Saudi Arabia, determined to give no ground, both seeking to spread their influence in neighbouring nations, including Afghanistan and Yemen.
These champions respectively of the Shia and Sunni branches of Islam, are now on something of a more equal footing, since Iran agreed to the US’s conditions on nuclear development, casting off the pariah status it acquired over past years, This coincides with the US being less inclined to be ‘leaned on’ in the region by Saudi, partly due to the US’s greatly celebrated new found ‘energy-independence’, via the oilfield exploitation technique of fracking. Also because of lingering suspicions of Saudi’s role, as a state or through leading citizens, in the advent of Islamic State.
Of course this great Islamic rivalry is equally relevant on the Syrian and Iraqi battlefields, which is our third report for this issue. The big change in war-torn Syria is the undoubted influence that the actions of President Putin have brought about in Russia’s short but action-packed intervention. Suddenly an end might be in sight in the Syrian Civil war, with the world eager then to have the undivided attention of all associated militaries, in addressing the most formidable incomer, even outranking al Qaeda as an enemy, ‘the Caliphate of the Islamic State’. Meanwhile, the Syrian people continue to suffer.
Clive Lindley - Publisher/Editor
UKRAINE - 'YATS' THEN, WAS NOT 'THE MAN'
In 2014, the hopes of thousands
of Ukrainians hungry for change were embodied in the euro- Maidan movement,
which saw the Kremlin-friendly Yanukovych regime ousted, amid a swell of popular
opposition to the stagnant, oligarchical regime he represented. Petro
Poroschenko became the country's fifth President. Known as the 'chocolate king'
for amassing considerable wealth in the lucrative cocoa industry, along with
holding major media interests, he promised to lead Ukraine towards European
integration. The position of Prime Minister was taken by Arseniy Yatsenyuk. The
period since has been, in the eyes of most, a succession of disappointments
except those who from long experience with Ukraine, expected nothing better from
Kiev. The resignation of Yatsenyuk on April 10 of this year is perhaps the
clearest symbol of the ruling elite's failure to push Ukraine forward.
Yatsenyuk became famous less for being the figurehead of an emboldened new West-leaning movement, but for being Washington DC's preferred candidate for the position, thanks to an infamously leaked phone call in 2014 between U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, and U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, in which she talked candidly about the level of Washington's involvement in Ukraine's internal affairs and stated ‘Yats is the man’. Ukraine, it would seem, is in the unfortunate position of being a battleground between U.S. and Russian dominance in Europe. [continues...]
PUTIN'S GRANDMASTER GAME IN SYRIA
The Baath Party and President Bashar al-Asad, won the Syrian elections held in surreal conditions on April 13. Thus the Baath party and its allies continue to have power in Damascus after 50 years. Nobody could have predicted or expected a different outcome. Despite the hundreds of militias, claiming to be liberating Syria, none offers a realistic or viable alternative to the Baath Party. Voter participation was not much different than in the United States, or in some European referenda at 57.56%. Still it is remarkable, considering that many could not physically go to the polls for obvious reasons in a country where there were 23 million people in 2011, over half of whom have left Syrian territory. Meanwhile, Asad, Putin and their Shiite forces are now expected to launch a major offensive against al-Nusra, Islamic State and other ‘rebels’ in Aleppo. Capturing Aleppo, will leave the Asad loyalist forces and backers ready to challenge IS in Raqqa, and if they can beat it, so become the heroes in the fight against terrorism. [continues...]
IRAN UPDATE MAY 2016
Mission not accomplished yet
With agreement on the nuclear deal being now implemented, the worst seems to be over for Iran. There are still fears in Teheran that the Americans will not fully implement the deal anyway, with one excuse or another. The recent diatribe about the Iranian missile programme is considered, for example, an American plot to maintain some of the sanctions. The Americans are also insisting that the arms embargo on Iran is still in force and all contracts have to be cleared through the Security Council, where a US veto is of course waiting for them. The Iranians want to order 30 modern Su-30 fighters in Russia, to replace some of their decrepit aircraft, but the Americans want to stop them. Then in a few months’ time a new president will take over in the US, and neither of the likely winners in November is very appealing to Teheran. So Teheran does not expect a long-term thaw in Iran-US relations.
From nuclear diplomacy to economic diplomacy
Still the Iranians note with pleasure that on several points the US have adopted what Teheran considers a reasonable stand. The Americans are seen in Teheran as lobbying in favour of Mohammad bin Nayef succeeding King Salman of Saudi Arabia, restoring a more moderate foreign policy approach. They are also seen as having taken a critical approach towards King Hamad of Bahrein, who is one of Teheran’s bête noirs. The Americans are also seen an intent on reducing their presence and commitment to the Middle East, which can only please the Iranians. [continues...]