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GEOPOLITICAL BULLETIN

JULY 2017

BREXIT;   RUSSIA;   IRAN

 

BREXIT MEANS.... CONFUSION

Our July reports cover three highly sensitive topics. 

Britain’s putative ‘Brexit’ from the European Union is brought right up to date alongside a description of the parlous state of the UK government, following the surprise election and the demolition of its former parliamentary majority. It has now concluded a deal with a minor (Northern Ireland) party that has milked this opportunity for all that its worth, to enable the Conservatives and Mrs May to remain somewhat tentatively, in office. The Democratic Unionist Party will bring its ten votes to support Mrs May through specified bills starting with the Queens Speech (the government’s programme for the next two years, if the deal lasts) and certain financial and other bills. 

In return, the Government will spend an additional one billion taxpayer’s pounds on the devolved Ulster province over two years, making a tidy £100 million for each DUP MP newly deployed in the Conservative cause. Such intra-party arrangements, even in the mother of parliaments, were once known as bribes and the leaders in devolved Scotland and Wales, are saying just that. After all, the beneficiaries of the deal are not the State, but the Conservative party in government and the DUP, who will take political credit for their Province's acquisition of new funds. 

The agreed timetable for formal UK/EU negotiations had meanwhile forced their commencement, with the UK side rather lacking conviction, now that it’s previous reckless, ‘hard-line’ approach will no longer serve. The tide appears to be turning, even within the governing party’s ranks, given the new voting tally in the nation’s parliament, the post-election mood in the country and the reduction in Mrs May’s personal prestige. Peter Crisell has produced here another quite enthralling episode in this tale of disruption to both the European Union, but even more so, to the UK. 

Go to: Brexit Britain in Disarray – ‘still fumbling and stumbling out of Europe - only more so’

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RUSSIA REDUX; Sara Bielecki revisits RUSSIA, V.Putin’s unchallenged domain. Indeed we see how firmly it remains unchallenged, as the clock ticks towards next year’s presidential elections there. This report takes in the new ‘frozen conflict’ status that Russia seems to have chosen for the two rebel provinces of Ukraine, the self-proclaimed ’independent’ republics of Luhansk and Donbass. After all, that has worked well since 1992 in Transnistria, that sliver of Moldova’s land ‘protected’ by Russia, which Bielecki describes, “as a sort of throwback to all things soviet”.

It seems that Putin’s unquestioned popularity in Russia, has much to do with his muscular foreign policy and his restoration of national pride. Certainly, communism is there no more, either in economics or in aspirations of world domination, such fancies matched now by a laudable determination not to be dominated by anyone else. But Russia’s version of ‘democracy’ lacks substance. It is no more than semantic and likely to remain so. This remains essentially an authoritarian nation and government. It continually eyes up it’s ‘near abroad’ ie the former Soviet empire, for more influence, but does not appear to seek international conflict. 

Go to: ‘Russia Redux’

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IRAN is re-entering the global frame of ‘media-worthiness’ in terms of Trump’s hostility and preference for the Saudis, after some measure of redemption recently in Obama’s time.  It seems not to matter to this US president that the Shi’ite and Sunni branches of Islam, each representing hundreds of millions of human beings worldwide, have been at doctrinal loggerheads for some 1400 years. He seemingly reduces this to being ‘fixable’ disputes at nation state level, influenced by the fact that Iran is deeply unpopular with Israel and hated by Saudi Arabia, whose virtues were enhanced for him by their well-timed, enormous arms purchase from the USA.

Our correspondent looks with a balanced perspective at the growing tensions between these Sunni and Shi’ite champions, with growing concern at what might be described as US meddling, which so easily with the White House ‘shooting from the hip’, could lead to disastrous results. After the US’ bruising experience of Islam’s religious factions in post-war Iraq and before that, witnessing the ten years of horror in the Iraq-Iran war (where the now standard ‘suicide bomber’ first emerged as a weapon of war), it still seems like a very bad idea to take sides in other people’s wars of religion. 

Go to: 'Iran's Proxy War with Saudi Arabia Intensifies'


 
Clive Lindley - Publisher/Editor
 
 
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