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GEOPOLITICAL BULLETIN

NOVEMBER 2016

A GRUMBLING, FUMBLING & STUMBLING BREXIT; SYRIA: HOW TO END THE CIVIL WAR; HUNGARY: A "FAUX" DEMOCRACY

 

SYRIA: HOW TO END THE CIVIL WAR

NewNations has been covering SYRIA since before the ‘Arab Spring’, also the invasion of Iraq that preceded it. Alessandro Bruno, who writes this month’s report arguing for an ‘Algerian’ solution to the ongoing misery in Syria, is a specialist in North African and Arab nations and has made several contributions for us in the past. We have long watched and waited in vain, for some inspirational and equitable diplomacy to resolve the frightful impasse, now descending into a new version of the cold war. Yet, it is soluble. The proposal we present, could lead to peace and with no losers, other than the militant, mainly non-Syrian islamist intruders. ‘The Algerian solution’ is a serious way forward and makes a great deal of sense, confirming as it does the unwisdom of ever having got involved in someone else’s war of religion. It seems clear that Obama by avoiding ‘boots on the ground’ has proceeded with reluctance, egged on undoubtedly by so called ‘friendly’ middle eastern states, as well as the western media, but opting rather to take on the Caliphate, which clearly has no rival as an effectively nihilistic force, both for Islamic nations and for those of the rest of the world.

We deplore the bias of the western media unbalanced from the beginning, against Syria’s Asad, homing in on Russia’s air attacks on Eastern Aleppo. Yet even as we publish this, reinforced and rearmed Islamist rebels, that have been hiding behind the ‘human shield’ of hapless civilians in the bombed ruins of Aleppo, have started a new offensive with artillery of their own, in an attempt to push back the Syrian government troops in the city.

As you read this, the US –led Alliance are expected to commence exactly parallel air attacks on the Iraqi city of Mosul, where, as in Aleppo, the ISIS Islamist fighters are inextricably, in air war terms, mixed in amongst the destruction of a city, with the ‘human shield’ of a million or more civilians who can’t get out, a classic and monstrous aspect of asymmetric warfare. No point in asking if the US and allies will be threatened with being taken to the International Court, for its air attacks, as has been threatened for the Shi’ite government of Asad and the Russians. There will likely be no TV cameras or journo’s inside Mosul at this stage, or pictures of terrified and injured children in the ruins, other than those distributed by ISIS. Regrets there will undoubtedly be from the Alliance spokesmen for the civilians that ‘get in the way’ of their own liberation.

In Syria at least, this filthy thing can be finished and the Algerian solution that we describe, tells how.

Go to …"The Algerian Solution to the Civil War is within Grasp. The Will to Adopt it is Not!"

*****

“A Grumbling, Fumbling and Stumbling Brexit”

Peter Crisell analyses the UK situation four months after the referendum to leave the European Union.

This topic for us, is likely to continue to dominate all others, striking as it does at the heart of the British economy and reflecting general dismay at the outcome, which contrasts with the confusion of many that voted to leave. A part of the outcome is that the hardball nationalist tabloids: the Daily Mail, the Sun and the Express are competing in nastiness, in reference to foreigners. The Daily Mail, for long a lower middleclass Tory tabloid (the 'Toffs' read "The Telegraph), which for a lifetime has relied on a generalised ‘anti-foreigner’ agenda, went so far as to accuse the (anti-Brexit) Confederation of British Industry (CBI), of ‘lying’ during the referendum campaign, which in gravity might be compared with a Pope so accusing the college of cardinals. Meanwhile from the US, the equivalent US Chamber of Commerce made an uncompromising statement (to which UK tabloids have not responded), pointing out that the Chamber represents US companies with £487bn invested in the UK. It has warned the British government that without ‘seamless free market access’ to the EU, US corporations are now likely to favour continental European destinations for hiring and investment decisions. Bloomberg, for its part, reported that $600bn of US investment is now at risk.

The Japanese are also big players in UK investment and employment. They have politely warned of damage to that half of Japanese direct European investment that flowed to the UK. It seems from a deal worked out with Nissan, that the UK government has taken note and ‘squared’ them regarding motor manufacturing exports from Sunderland to the EU, which is promising news for other exporters from the UK, who must expect ‘like deals.’ No details have yet been released about how, presumably the taxpayer, is to fund the tariff costs if the UK can no longer, as at present, access the single Market. But looming over everything is the situation of the City of London, currently the EU’s financial capital and perhaps the largest taxpayer to the UK’s government.

Peter Crisell’s ‘tour d’horizon,’ updates our Brexit piece of last month. He takes us through today’s Britain 4 months after the referendum, to monitor the ongoing, “Grumbling, Fumbling and Stumbling Brexit” process that has followed.

*****

“HUNGARY: a Faux Democracy”

 This is the report of Sara Bielecki on the central European nation. It is not a happy story, nor a pleasant government, but it is a warning about racists and street politicians such as those of UKIP in Britain, of which comparable sinister activities can be found, currently to a lesser extent than in Hungary, in most EU countries. Looking at the events that have incited this worst kind of populist government reaction that used to be called fascism, we in the UK are unable to say, as once we could have done, that “this cannot happen here”
 

Clive Lindley - Publisher/Editor



 

Syria: An Algerian Solution to the Civil War is Within Grasp. The Will to Adopt it is Not!

“So long as the Arabs fight tribe against tribe so long will they be a little people, a silly people – greedy, barbarous and cruel, as you are”, said T.E Lawrence, aka ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ in David Lean’s movie. In the scene, Lawrence was addressing a group of raucous rebels, whom he led against the Ottomans. The actual Lawrence wrote in his ‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ : “They [the Syrians] were discontented always with what government they had; such being their intellectual pride; but few of them honestly, thought out a working alternative, and fewer still agreed upon one.”

Lawrence had not fully grasped the scope of the Sykes-Picot agreement, which would split the Middle East among British and French spheres of influence. Lawrence had an idealistic vision of the Arabs organizing their own government, after defeating the Ottoman occupiers. His anger reflected his doubt that the Arabs might ever achieve the transition from tribal society to that of a modern European- style state. The actual T.E Lawrence noted the tribal and religious barriers that impeded the rise of a united and secular Arab state. Of course it was ironic that Lawrence proffered his concerns of unity, while his countrymen died in ‘the Killing Fields’ of Europe. But, he was prescient. The phenomenon, unfortunately described as ‘the Arab Spring’ was nothing other than the latest manifestation of Major T.E. Lawrence’s fears. Nevertheless, he expressed hope that if left alone, the Arabs, or the Syrians, might reach a lasting stability.

The Middle East, since independence from the Ottomans and – later – Europe, has struggled against itself. Secularists have fought Islamists, in varying degrees of intensity. Even modern Egypt, emerged first as the struggle of republicans vs. monarchists, and immediately thereafter as those advocating a secular model, similar to that which Ataturk established in Turkey and the Muslim Brotherhood. While for long years often regarded as unimportant and ignored by the media, Syria faced a lengthy struggle before stabilizing in 1970 under the Baathist regime of Bashar al-Asad’s father Hafez.

The ongoing Syrian civil conflict, which has more of the whiff of a world war, has revived the element of foreign intervention. This is what makes resolving the war so difficult. Given the diversity and obstinacy of the various factions, resolving this war seems impossible at best. The only ‘legitimate’ foreign players are the Russians, Iranians and (Lebanese) Hezbollah. They are legitimate, because they are there at the behest of the (UN recognized) Syrian government in Damascus. If the Syrian opposition truly represented the aspirations and interests of all Syrians, it would have more legitimacy. But, such is the dosage of foreign interests, that the opposition loses all legitimacy.

Left to itself, Syria might find a solution.
Indeed, it doesn’t have to look too far to find it. The solution involves a premise and a model for recovery....  [
continues...]


Britain Four Months Later: A Grumbling, Fumbling and Stumbling Brexit

Just to remind ourselves: Britain voted in a referendum on 23rd June to leave the European Union (EU). The Leave (or Brexit) vote was 51.9% and the Remain vote was 48.1%. More than 30 million voted – 71.8% of those eligible to vote, the highest turnout in a UK-wide vote since the 1992 general election. The referendum result showed a divided nation with 17,410,000 voting to leave the EU and 16,140,000 voting to remain. Although the referendum result was not legally binding on the government, David Cameron made it clear from the start that the government would treat it as such, since he was then confident that there would be a majority vote to remain in the EU. This disastrous miscalculation led to his resignation. Theresa May, a strong candidate for the party leadership, had let it be known that she was a lukewarm EU remainer, but she clearly believed that her support across the party for the leadership would be reduced if she played an active part in the remain campaign. So it proved to be. By positioning herself as a Brexit-friendly remainer she was subsequently selected by the party to replace Cameron as Prime Minister and to lead the country into the Brexit future.

Readers of the Europhobic tabloid press might be forgiven for thinking that 90% or more of the British people had voted to leave the EU. Anxious to maintain an iron grip on the Brexit agenda and to sideline those of contrary views, the tabloids and their political allies have characterised those expressing legitimate concern about Britain’s future relations with Europe and its place in the world as moaners and whingers and members of ‘the elite’ who are ‘bad losers’ unwilling to accept the democratic process. The Daily Mail and Daily Express have gone further, calling them ‘unpatriotic’ and ‘traitors’ who must be silenced...  [
continues...]


HUNGARY: A "Faux" Democracy

Since Viktor Orban came to power in 2010, the Hungarian regime has become known as one of the most right wing to be found in contemporary Europe. The Prime Minister’s frequent criticisms of liberal democracy and his ardent support for national identity have won him, regretfully, immense popular support. His party, Fidesz, the ruling party, is not the only entity proffering a kind of ultraconservatism on the country’s political landscape: extreme right wing party Jobbik managed to gain 20% of the vote in the 2014 election. Qualified by some as Neo-nazi, Jobbik’s politicians make Orban’s promise to bring an ‘illiberal democracy’ to Hungary seem almost tame in comparison. Unfortunately this promise seems to have borne fruit - although many would even contest Hungary’s democratic status as Orban uses the “will of the people” to tamper with constitutional principles. Under his rule he has ushered in changes to the judicial system, tried to block EU wide legislation assuring rights for same sex couples and uses power to pressurize the independent media. In the domestic sphere, the political opposition finds it increasingly difficult to function. On an international level, the refugee crisis has exposed what is perhaps Orban’s biggest bugbear. It has seen some of his most vicious rhetoric emerge which has recently been the subject of a hugely controversial national referendum. Hungary has repeatedly been criticized by NGOs, the media, and European institutions for its stance on the mass movement of refugees – the Prime Minister remains undeterred.

To begin with a recent event which has sent shock waves through the Western media, one of Hungary’s leading left wing newspapers Nepszabadsag (People’s Freedom) which has been publishing since 1956 (the year of the Hungarian Revolution) has closed. Described by journalist Owen Jones as a media institution equivalent to the Guardian in the UK, it was shut down at the start of October. The alleged reason was that it was making a loss. Ruling Fidesz party issued a statement saying... [
continues...]

 
 
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