APRIL 2017



In March the European Union celebrated the 60th anniversary of its foundation, the Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community - leading on to the European Union. For 44 of those years the UK has been in full membership. After centuries of war, upheaval, and mass killings, Europe is peaceful and democratic. It is also prosperous, offering a market of 500 million citizens for its member states and overseas traders.

“The EU has brought 11 former Soviet-bloc countries into its fold, successfully guiding their post-communist transitions. And, in an age of inequality, EU member countries exhibit the lowest income gaps anywhere in the world”. ‘Social Europe,’ that we are quoting here, goes on to observe: “Today, the Union is mired in a deep existential crisis...the symptoms include… ‘Brexit,’ the rise of populist movements, and a backlash against immigrants and the euro…..”

NewNations, published from the UK will continue, as in this issue, to address Brexit and also aims to cover the perceived rise of populist nationalist movements in Europe.

In our last (March ‘17) issue’s ‘Analysis of the Brexit Vote,’ we were able to demonstrate that the anti-immigrant factor was heavily weighted by the unrelenting ‘fear factor’ propaganda of the populist press, routinely repeated by the broadcast media, registering particularly amongst older voters. The ‘fear of foreigners,’ rather than the personal experience of the 17 million that voted Leave, was the most significant negative factor. A conclusion supported by the fact that, excepting Birmingham - and that a close-run event, every big city throughout the UK- where after all, most immigrants are situated - voted strongly to remain. Yet many areas with virtually no immigrants at all, turned in the largest proportion of votes to leave (such as Ebbw Vale in Wales & Sunderland in NE England).

In this our April issue, Peter Crisell explains in: “Britain Quits the EU,” how the United Kingdom is suffering no less than the EU from an existential crisis, with the nation more deeply divided than at any time in living memory. The first shock was an easy, general and wrong assumption by the cognoscenti, that the referendum of June 23d, 2016 would be bound to confirm the UK’s remaining in the EU. Only now with ‘Article 50’ invoked in March, in large measure a big chunk of ‘the establishment’: a part, not all of the cross-party political opposition in Parliament, members of the Confederation of British Industry, much of the serious media, large numbers of intellectuals, lawyers, academics, teachers and journalists are ‘getting their acts together’ for a massive struggle, as the way ahead becomes more clear (two years negotiations and then brutally ‘out’ - deal or no deal).

We can confidently predict that the nation will likely continue to see bitter divisions over these next two years, rather than the ‘coming together in unity’, the prime minister so much desires. The reality being that about half the population, remain unpersuaded of any need to leave the EU and are not convinced to join a ‘lemming-like leap over a sheer cliff’, in pursuit of an apparently false prospectus which realistically, threatens the break-up of the United Kingdom itself. The political objective now of the Remain bloc of supporters, is to demand the decisive vote to be that of Parliament not the Cabinet; alternatively a second referendum after the negotiated terms of quitting are known - probably in 18months to two years time. The point of the struggle continuing being that the UK government decided, on the grounds of one interpretation of democracy, to accept the narrow result of a binary referendum, rather than test it, or treat it as they could legally have done, as ‘advisory.’ Thus they ducked the storm from the government party’s minority of hardened English nationalist MP’s, it’s noisy tabloid supporters and the populist, but non-parliamentary UKIP.

The Remainers have had to chew on that, but insist that democracy did not stop on June 23rd 2016 - that the British, once the terms of withdrawal are known, should have the right to decide if they would be better off to remain, or to leave - and perhaps save the integrity of the four home nations United Kingdom, as well. The formal notice to quit under ‘Article Fifty’ is now delivered, allowing for two years negotiations, as from March 29th this year. That is where it stands at present. Peter Crisell explains much more, including the dissenting tremors currently shaking the very foundations of the three centuries-old United Kingdom itself.

Sara Bielecki opening her series on the ‘Rise of Populism’ in our February issue, took an overview of EU nations generally in this context, but did not omit the relevance of the Trump presidency in the US. In this issue: “Sanity Prevails in the Netherlands,” she examines the better news following the results there. The unique Dutch political system (and real-time events), denied the flow of early opinion polls and managed to unhorse the prospect of power for the flamboyant, yet sinister Geert Wilders, one of Europe’s best known populists. In our next (May) issue, Sara will similarly report on the 1st round of the French Presidential elections, shortly before the second round during that month, electing the new President from the final two contenders

After several years of regularly covering developments in the Mid-East, in this issue we offer Alessandro Bruno’s: “Saudi Arabia Seeks A Re-Set” which, its proxies having lost the war in Syria, describes the Kingdom’s efforts in a fast-changing world to re-invent its economy and re-establish its authority, in the region and in the Sunni world. One of the compelling lessons in this situation of Sunni regional leadership, appears to be the serious rivalry of moderate Sunni Turkey, still a democracy and NATO member, poised somewhere between a religious revival and its secular constitution. In Turkey, ancient Islam tolerantly co-exists within a modern socially progressive state. Undoubtedly, its success to date has been largely determined by its powerful authoritarian President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who also has long worked on his personal agenda.

Saudi Arabia has no one like that, but does have a seriously numerous ruling family, which results in both strengths and weaknesses. Saudi follows a Wahhabi 18th C version of Islam which is unaccepting of any modification. Wahabbi-ism is the intolerant religious spine of Saudi /Gulf backed rebel groups in Syria. It is also dead set in its mutually observed antagonism towards Iran, champion of the Shiite branch of Islam, which regionally includes the governments of Iraq and Syria. But heavyweight Turkey has no particular animus against next-door heavyweight Iran, champion of the Shi’ites, nor by extension the numerous minor Moslem creeds seen to good effect in Asad’s pre-war Syria but never in Saudi Arabia, plus other tolerated faiths such as Christianity, sometimes even Judaism.

In a modern world, Erdogan’s apparent mission seems to be to reclaim at least the political and religious prestige of the mighty Ottoman Turkish state, whose Sultan’s titles before post-WWI defeat and secularisation (now somewhat in reverse), included that of being the last Caliph to be generally acknowledged in Islam. Saudi Arabia will not be comfortable with even the shadow of that sort of competition.

Clive Lindley - Publisher/Editor

Britain Quits the EU

Divided We Rule: The People Have Spoken - or Have They?

On 23rd June last year Britain voted by a simple majority of 52% to 48% to leave the EU. The method of departure and the terms were left open and unresolved. Perhaps the most important foreign policy decision since 1945, the consequences are huge and complex. Following the swift resignation of Prime Minister Cameron after the result, his successor, the British government and its supporters in the media have repeatedly claimed that “the people have spoken” and that Britain should head straight for the exit without parliamentary or judicial delay or obstruction. 

The government under Theresa May’s premiership, has taken this ‘authoritarian populist’ road, showing no inclination to heal national divisions caused by the referendum. Thanks to the multifarious grievances that led to the ‘no’ vote, it has treated the referendum result as a mandate to do what it likes – to go for a ‘hard’ Brexit - with as little accountability that it can get away with. Those who expressed the view that leaving the EU would be calamitous for Britain or who were concerned about the constitutional process for leaving, have been pilloried as traitors disrespecting the will of the people by the government’s militant wing, the tabloid press. The judges who ruled that Parliament should be involved in the Brexit process were described as “enemies of the people” and as “the judges versus the people”.....[

Sanity Prevails in the Netherlands - Election 2017

"A quarter-final against populism' ahead of the French and German polls"

Since the start of the year, European eyes have been focused on those upcoming elections in Europe, which pit outlandish right wing extremists against centrist, establishment political organizations. The first of these to take place - the elections in the Netherlands - occurred on March 15th . Holland’s most alarming candidate, Geert Wilders, has been at the helm of the nativist, Islamaphobic Freedom party since its inception in 2006. His pledges to “de-islamicise” the Netherlands, to haul it out of the EU, to ban the Koran, and close all mosques, have gained worrying amounts of momentum and recent polls, prior to the election, showed him in the lead. The results, however, emphatically did not give him the victory he had hoped for. Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s party, the centrist-right VVD, held onto its majority, and with an 82% turnout, which was said to be the highest in decades, many took it, as the Prime Minister himself did, to be “an evening when... the Netherlands said, ‘Stop’, to the wrong sort of populism.” 

To what extent, however, the establishment was forced to accept the ‘right’ sort of populism, if such a thing can exist, is the controversial question that remains. Alongside this - how did a man with such pernicious views manage to gain traction in a nation famously known for its liberal values? Will his kind of populism really go away?.
... [continues...]

Saudi Arabia Seeks a Re-Set

A New International Role needed after the ISIS fallout in the Middle East

Saudi Arabia’s prestige and leadership stems from its overwhelming presence within OPEC. But, because of the lower oil price and the increased number of traditional and shale oil resources around the world, the Saudi monarchy has necessarily sought other founts of influence and legitimacy. No longer are the senior Saudi princes simply symbols of the Arabs who sell oil and invest in marbled real estate and western financial markets. They have to an extent been abandoning the ‘West’ and focusing on upholding Saudi dominance in the Middle East itself, partly to ensure that their ‘hard’ (Wahhabi) version of Sunni Islam in its most conservative interpretation, thrives.

Meanwhile, the Saudis continue to pursue new spheres of influence. East Asia has become an important diplomatic target. The Saudi royals have undertaken a month-long tour, going from Indonesia to China, via Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. With a retinue of 900 people, several limousines, 450 tons of luggage and large amount of Halal meat (slaughtered according to Islamic rites), 81-year old King Salman bin Abdul Aziz has spent March touring Asian countries in an effort aimed at diversifying his kingdom’s economy. But the choice of destinations carry political weight as well..... [

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