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Web Log - "Watching the pot come to a boil"

21-Jul-18 World View -- The Trump-Putin private meeting was almost certainly about China

Donald Trump threatens to impose tariffs on everything imported from China

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Donald Trump threatens to impose tariffs on everything imported from China


Donald Trump
Donald Trump

In an interview broadcast on Friday, president Donald Trump sharply escalated the rhetoric in the trade war with China, and threatened to impose tariffs on everything imported from China. China responded to the threat with a vitriolic statement calling Trump a "wrecking ball." As I wrote a couple of days ago, the trade war with China will escalate. ( "19-Jul-18 World View -- Trump administration signals that trade war with China will escalate sharply")

On Friday, Trump said that in order to match some of the tariffs that China imposes on US products, he's already announced tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese products. He said in the interview (my transcription):

"I raised 50, and they matched us. I said, you don't match us, you can't match us, because otherwise we're always going to be behind the eight ball....

I'm ready to go to 500."

Tariffs on $500 billion would include all products imported from China.

Trump described how this situation began in the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations:

"Look I'm not doing this for politics. I'm doing this to do the right thing for our country. We've been ripped off by China for a long time. And I told that to president Xi. I said how did this ever happen?

And you know what happened? And you know what their answer is? because I deal with the highest echelons of china. One of the great people of China said, "There was never anybody that talked to us in the United States. We would put on a trade barrier, where you couldn't sell cars, or you couldn't sell beef, or you couldn't sell your farm products, nobody would talk to us in the United States.

"So we said that's great. Then we put on another one. We'd put on a tariff on cars, 25%, and you charge us virtually nothing 2 1/2 per cent, but they don't pay it. So we would do this, and nobody would talk. We'd start off at a lower number, we'd raise it, we'd raise it, nobody would every complain, until you came along." Me. And they said, "Now you're doing more than complaining, we don't like what you're doing." They think maybe we're doing too much."

It's widely believed that we're on the verge of a full-blown trade war with China, which was already clear from my article two days ago. CNBC and New York Magazine and Guardian (London)

China's Foreign Ministry gives a vitriolic response to Trump

China's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hua Chunying gave her regular press conference on Friday, and said the following in response to a question about trade:

"Third, everyone is watching when the US side behaves like this in international relations, and everyone is hearing and seeing what the US officials are saying and doing. So, we all know what the whole world thinks of the US. It is quite obvious that some people in the US are so obsessed with their conjured-up reality that they simply cannot be waken up. However, by brandishing its wanton and striking indiscriminately while depriving others' right to self-defense, by blocking its own door while demanding others to unconditionally open theirs wider, by overriding others' interests and the international rules to serve its own political needs and selfish interests, the US has really taught us something in a piercing and profound way. I have noted that many US citizens and its allies have spoken out unreservedly. The US is now the biggest wrecking ball to world stability and certainty. Its unilateralism and protectionism pose the greatest threat to the international rules and the world economic order.

I said the other day that knowing someone is intelligence but knowing oneself is real wisdom. Today I want to add that nothing could be more disastrous than chaos. As the No.1 power in today's world, the US should at least think about its responsibility before making relevant policies or saying or doing anything, because it is the "order" of the world that they are expected to promote, not "chaos"."

Hua's most significant statement was: "However, by brandishing its wanton and striking indiscriminately while depriving others' right to self-defense, by blocking its own door while demanding others to unconditionally open theirs wider, by overriding others' interests and the international rules to serve its own political needs and selfish interests, the US has really taught us something in a piercing and profound way."

I believe that the reference to "depriving others' right to self-defense" refers to America's freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea, where China's activities were declared illegal in 2016 by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, which ruled that all of China's activities in the South China Sea are illegal and in violation of international law. With regard to promoting "chaos," the Chinese must be aware that they've infuriated all their neighbors by their illegal activities.

China's appeal to "international law" is laughable, because China only cares about international law when it favors them. When it doesn't favor them, as in the case of the South China Sea, they claim that they're superior to everyone else, and their law supersedes international law. The same is true in trade. China has repeatedly violated and ignored World Trade Organization rules, but they complain about international law to gain an advantage.

In an interview Friday, Trump's chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow suggested that China will retaliate against individual American companies doing business in China:

"My guess is that if the plot thickens with no progress, they will start going after American companies [operating] in China....

The problem here is Xi. He doesn’t want to move, and they’ve offered the U.S. absolutely ... no options regarding the issue of [intellectual property] theft and forced technology transfer."

China could target individual American companies through new regulations.

Trump is not going to back down. And, based on the vitriolic intensity of Hua Chunying's statement, China is not going to back down either.

As I wrote in my recent article, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the US and China are in a generational Crisis era, in a tit for tat escalation sequence that leads to a full-blown generational crisis war. It's clear from remarks by Trump, Hua and Kudlow that that's exactly where we're headed. Foreign Ministry of China and Axios

The Trump-Putin private meeting was almost certainly about China

Donald Trump and Russia's president Vladimir Putin had a private one on one meeting during their July 16 summit meeting in Helsinki. As usual, the mainstream media, who have absolutely no clue what's going on in the world, have been screaming hysterically, some suggesting that Trump should be tried and convicted of treason, and then executed. Others demanded that the American interpreter who sat in on the meeting should be subpoenaed and forced to testify, something that would trigger enormous international diplomatic issues.

Trump tweeted on Thursday that he would like to schedule a second meeting with Putin in the fall, this time in Washington. This drew further hysterical screaming, along with demands that no such meeting be permitted unless Trump fully describes what happened in the first meeting.

In his CNBC interview on Friday, Trump gave a brief description of his summit meeting with Putin:

"We had a tremendous discussion on many things -- terrorism, Syria, the Middle East overall, Iran, we talked about as an example nuclear proliferation -- to me there's nothing more important than that.

We had a tremendous meeting. I think it was a very good press conference, except for the fake news I think I did very well at the press conference."

As I wrote in my previous article, Trump is very well aware that we're headed for a world war against China. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this war cannot be prevented. Trump is taking whatever steps he can to prevent this war, and I'm not going to criticize Trump for taking steps to prevent a world war, even if the war cannot be prevented.

Vladimir Putin is also well aware that Russia is headed for a war with China. The Russian and Chinese people have hated each other for centuries, especially since Russia, after conquest by Genghis Khan, became a vassal state of the China and the Mongol Empire for centuries. ( "31-Mar-18 World View -- Russia's Far East, Siberia and Vladivostok under threat from China")

So today, both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are aware that their countries are going to be allies in world war launched by China.

When they had their private summit meeting on July 16, it's inconceivable that they didn't discuss this oncoming war, and how they would defend themselves and help defend each other.

That also explains why there's so much secrecy about the meeting. Any mention that Trump and Putin discussed plans for a world war launched by China would cause a massive international uproar. So the subject of the private meeting must be kept secret. But with so much at stake for the United States, Russia, and the rest of the world, it's inconceivable that they didn't discuss this subject when they had the chance. And it will be all to the good for them to have another meeting in the fall, for further discussions on this subject. The Hill

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North Korea denuclearization talks appear to be falling apart

As I've been writing for many months, there is absolutely no possibility whatsoever that North Korea is going to denuclearize, either now or in the future.

On Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley criticized both China and Russia for helping North Korea violate United Nations sanctions as the regime smuggles in more oil than is allowed.

According to Pompeo, "When sanctions are not enforced, the prospects for the successful denuclearization of North Korea are diminished."

It's been nearly six weeks after President Trump's summit with Kim Jong-un, and there are no signs whatsoever, that the North Koreans have any intention of denuclearizing. ABC News

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Jul-18 World View -- The Trump-Putin private meeting was almost certainly about China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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20-Jul-18 World View -- Ireland hiring 1,000 new customs and veterinary inspectors for hard Brexit

Britain's government in chaos as no-deal 'hard Brexit' looms

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Britain's government in chaos as no-deal 'hard Brexit' looms


Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in House of Commons says that 'the government has sunk in a mire of chaos and division'
Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in House of Commons says that 'the government has sunk in a mire of chaos and division'

Ireland's Taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar says that Ireland will have to hire about 1,000 new customs and veterinary inspectors by 2021 in the case of a "hard Brexit," which is appearing to be more and more likely every day.

As the UK continues to move toward the Brexit cliff-edge on March 29, 2019, it's not possible to discern the current status of the UK-EU negotiations on the subject, because it's in total chaos, and even if you did figure it out, then you'd have to figure it out again a minute later.

Two weeks ago, UK prime minister Theresa May appeared to have achieved stability with something that's now called "the Chequers plan," because she was able to get it approved by her Tory cabinet at a meeting at Chequers, the prime minister's country residence. The proposal specified that a "common rule book" between the EU and the UK would be created. This was to be enough to satisfy the "Remainer" faction of her party, those in the party who never wanted Brexit in the first place but who could live with a set of rules that would make it seem that the UK had never left the EU.

However, it ended up angering the "Leave" or "Brexiteer" faction, who did want the UK to leave the EU, because the common rule book would force the UK would to follow all the same standards and regulations as it had never left the EU. So, even though May's cabinet voted for the Chequers plan, four days later David Davis, the Brexit secretary resigned. That resignation was followed by a second one, by international superstar Boris Johnson.

Then late last week, May was forced to accept four amendments to the Chequers plan, demanded by the Leave faction of the Tories. With so many flip-flops, it looked like the plan was dead. But on Thursday, Theresa May denied claims the trade proposals were "dead in the water" after accepting the four amendments.

So, as of today, it's not clear whether May could get agreement within her own Tory party. If she succeeds, she's have to get agreement of the House of Commons. If she succeeds, she'd have to get agreement from the other 27 nations of the European Union. (An additional issue is that Labor party leader Jeremy Corbyn is being seriously accused of anti-Semitism. This is apparently a big story, and it's causing chaos in the Labor party that may spill over into the chaos of the Brexit negotiations.)

There are still other proposals floating around, but the important point is that there is no proposal, including the Chequers proposal, that is likely to get a majority vote. If no proposal can get a majority vote, then when the UK "crashes out of" the EU on March 29, it will be a "no-deal Brexit," otherwise known as a "hard Brexit." Nobody (or almost nobody) wants a hard Brexit, but many analysts now consider that to be the most likely outcome. BBC and Irish Times and BBC (9-Jul)

Ireland border problem continues to be insurmountable

After 16 months of debate since the Brexit referendum passed, there is one particular problem has proven to be unsolvable: The status of the border between Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK and the Republic of (Southern) Ireland, which is part of the EU.

Everyone wants a "soft border" between the two regions, but if the UK is no longer in the EU, then any people and goods passing over the border would have to go through customs, have the passports and visas checked, and possibly pay customs duties and fees. No one wants this, but there is no solution to this problem. Solutions that have been proposed include:

None of these has a high probability of succeeding. So that's why Ireland's Taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar is making plans to hire about 1,000 new customs and veterinary inspectors, to prepare Irish seaports and airports for the change of rules in case of a hard Brexit:

"That involves preparing for and hiring veterinary inspectors to carry out sanitary checks on agricultural products and plant-based products coming in from Britain and also customs inspectors.

We estimate we will have to hire about 1,000 customs and veterinary inspectors to prepare our ports and airports for Brexit.

In the unlikely event of a no-deal Brexit next March, of course it will not be possible to have 1,000 people in place for then but we will make contingency arrangements in the event that might arise."

Varadkar also warned that UK planes could be restricted from flying in EU airspace in the event of a no deal Brexit. He said UK could not take back its waters and expect to use EU skies. "You can't have your cake and eat it," he said. RTE (Ireland) and Irish Times and Business Insider (3-Jun)

IMF warns of harsh economic effects of no-deal Brexit

And International Monetary Fund (IMF) analysis of Brexit finds that that EU countries would lose 1.5% of their GDP and more than a million jobs, in the case of a no-deal Brexit. Ireland would be worst hit, losing 4% of its economy, due to its close trade ties with Britain The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg would also be hit hard, with . Germany would also suffering due to industrial supply chains.

The IMF did not estimate the costs to Britain, but an earlier Bank of England analysis put the cost at 1.5-2.0% of the economy, while other estimates put the figure at 4%. Reuters and International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Guardian (London)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Jul-18 World View -- Ireland hiring 1,000 new customs and veterinary inspectors for hard Brexit thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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19-Jul-18 World View -- Trump administration signals that trade war with China will escalate sharply

The growing conflict with China

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Trump administration signals that trade war with China will escalate sharply


Larry Kudlow, during Wednesday morning interview (CNBC)
Larry Kudlow, during Wednesday morning interview (CNBC)

Many people see the imposition of tariffs as temporary, and likely to end before any serious problems arise. However, Larry Kudlow, Trump's chief economic adviser, was interviewed on CNBC for half an hour on Wednesday morning, and made it clear that the trade war with China is likely to become a lot more serious.

Kudlow said that deals with Germany and Mexico are coming. He said that "I can report without specifics that we're making good progress [with trade negotiations] in Mexico." However, negotiations with China are not progressing at all.

Kudlow listed the problems in trade with China (my transcription):

"A. The world trading system is broken. The World Trade Organization [WTO] is broken. We just had this discussion at the G7.

B. The biggest culprit is China. And particularly since it entered the WTO, which was about the year 2000 as I recall. China has - they're still labeled an undeveloped third world country - but at WTO that's nonsense. Therefore they're trying to use Most Favored Nation status to have high tariffs, high non-tariff barriers. ...

They do in fact steal our intellectual property left and right. They do in fact have a forced transfer of technology, from the American companies that operate there. It comes from the joint ventures. They do not allow full American ownership.

You open a company on a joint venture basis, in a Chinese province. And because you only own 49%, they own 51% or more, the local party leaders, these are like Mafioso Dons, I'm told -- you have to lay your entire blueprint on the table, including the technology, and they will have their experts take it over. That's wrong."

In the past few weeks, I've seen several businessmen interviewed about opening up a business office in China, being forced to give copies of all their software and intellectual property to the Chinese government, and then having to go out of business because a Chinese business opened up right an office right across the street using the same intellectual property. The American company was simply swindled. And this happens all the time to American countries, as well as European and Canadian countries.

Kudlow said that the situation with China is so bad that he's been forced to change his own position on trade. He was in government as far back as the Reagan administration, and he's always been on record as opposing tariffs, but "I've come to this position, because the problem [with China] is getting worse."

The shocking part of the interview is the description of how intransient the Chinese are during the negotiations that have been going on for months. The interviewer (Jim Kramer) said that he had been assuming all along that there had been progress in the negotiations with China, with give and take on both sides, but Kudlow referred to the "so-called talks" as if they had been nothing more than a charade to the Chinese:

"I went to Beijing with our team, and then when China came to the US, I was involved in those discussions and a dinner, I sat next to Liu He [Xi Jinping's top economic adviser], and his young assistants, And I think they're sincere, so there's hope.

On the other hand, I do not think president Xi [Jinping] at the moment has any intention of following through on the discussions we've made, and I think the president [Trump] is so dissatisfied with China on these so-called talks, that he is keeping the pressure on, and I support that. ...

That stuff has to be fixed. We can't let China steal our technology. Those are our family jewels. What is it that makes America the greatest economy in the world? It is our innovative and inventive use of technology advances. This is Schumpeter's idea of creative destruction writ large. We can't let them do that.

They haven't responded at all. Not one basis point to our request to do something about the theft of intellectual property, and the forced divestiture of our intellectual property."

Kudlow said, "By the way, the whole world agrees with us. I mean Europe agrees with us, Canada, everyone knows this is true." He added that he has many sources in China, and even they agree.

Kudlow concluded by saying that Trump will not back down on this issue:

"Now, for POTUS -- I'm going to defend him here, lock, stock and barrel. We've had Republican and Democratic presidents in the past, make these complaints to China, even take these complaints to the World Trade Organization. But they never follow through. They say it, nothing happens, life goes on, the situation gets worse. This guy, President Trump, has the biggest backbone -- and this something I've admired for him in other places -- he will not let go of this point. Nor, should he, in my opinion."

After the interview, the interviewer Jim Kramer said that he found the interview shocking, because the Chinese are refusing to make any compromises at all. He pointed to the recent case of the Chinese company ZTE where President Trump had gone to a great deal of trouble to keep the company from going bankrupt, based on a personal request by President Xi. Kramer said that Trump must be really furious to have gone to great lengths to do that, and got nothing in return from Xi. CNBC and Reuters

The growing conflict with China

Larry Kudlow's interview on Wednesday was well-planned and well thought out, and laid out major policy objectives of the Trump administration. During the interview, there were often long pauses between sentences as he chose his words carefully. Kudlow could have simply made a general statement that the negotiations with China were on track and "we hope something will come out of them soon."

Instead, in coordination with the White House, he made a careful condemnation of China's trade practices and negotiating attitudes. This was done on purpose, and it's a shot across the bow by the Trump administration at President Xi and the Chinese Communist Party.

We live at a time in history where there's never been more hysterical nonsense in the media, and there's never been more total, abject ignorance about what's going on in the world.

One comment I've heard probably hundreds of times is: "How could Trump give Kim Jong-un prestige by meeting with him in Singapore, without getting a firm commitment in advance to denuclearize?" The question doesn't even make sense. Demanding denuclearization in advance would have been refused. Trump is a master negotiator and deal-maker, and his assessment was that the only way to convince Kim to denuclearize in the future is to build up his prestige in the present, and convince him that the US is not an enemy.

It's worth noting here that, as I've been saying for many, many months, there is no possibility whatsoever that North Korea will denuclearize, now or in the future. But I'm not going to criticize Trump for taking steps to try to prevent World War III, even if preventing World War III is impossible.

A web site reader recently asked me:

"I have to wonder whether you're serious or just pulling my leg. What possible benefit is the ad hoc Trumpist foreign policy to the US or the world at large? We need leverage with the DPRK [North Korea], and the only leverage available is China. Trump's solution: start at a trade war with them, and make it bitter."

Once again, this question makes no sense. The leverage we have against North Korea is the very harsh sanctions that Trump imposed on North Korea, with China's cooperation. China's cooperation was a huge foreign policy decision by China, requiring buy-in from many agencies in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), based on deeply entrenched objectives that won't change because of this trade dispute. In addition, master negotiator Trump gained leverage over Xi by agreeing to his request to save ZTE.

What I've seen repeatedly since Trump has been in office is that his foreign policy is completely consistent with the Generational Dynamics analyses that I've been posting for years -- that we're headed for a world war with China, and Russia will be our ally and China's enemy. Trump understands these analyses through Steve Bannon, who is an expert on both military history and Generational Dynamics. People who become hysterical because of a tweet or a press conference really have no clue what's going on in the world, but what I've seen is that Trump does -- based on actions, not words.

As I said above, Trump is well aware that we're headed for a world war with China, and he's trying to prevent him. Preventing it is impossible, but I'm not going to criticize Trump for trying.

In writing this article, I've described many bottom lines and many red lines. North Korea will not denuclearize. China will not back down from stealing America's intellectual property. And Trump will not back down from the trade dispute. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, we're a typical tit for tat escalation sequence that leads to a generational crisis war. The only other choice is appeasement, and that will lead to war as well, possibly even more quickly. Trump is aware of all this, and he's trying to prevent it, but it's the world that's upside down and out of control. Bloomberg

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Jul-18 World View -- Trump administration signals that trade war with China will escalate sharply thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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18-Jul-18 World View -- Fighting between Taliban and ISIS-K escalates in Afghanistan

ISIS-K claims credit for killing 15 Taliban, including commander

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

ISIS-K claims credit for killing 15 Taliban, including commander


Afghan Taliban militants (AFP)
Afghan Taliban militants (AFP)

"ISIS Khorasan" (ISIS-K, "Wilayah Khorasan"), the Afghanistan branch of ISIS, is claiming credit for attacking the house of a Taliban commander in the eastern province of Nangarhar of Afghanistan, killing 15 Taliban militants, including the commander, known as Saba Gul or Mohammad Khorasani.

Fighting between the Taliban and ISIS-K has significantly escalated in recent weeks, as the vie for control of the country's east, along the border with Pakistan. In June, ISIS-K claimed the killing of 25 people with a suicide bombing at a gathering of Taliban members and local people in Nangarhar province during the three-day Eid ceasefire.

The Taliban launched offensives in the region late in June, claiming that they had cleared out bases of ISIS-K fighters in nearby villages. Dozens of fighters on both sides were killed, as hundreds of civilians were forced to flee the fighting between the two groups, as the clashes carried on for several days.

One unnamed ISIS fighter was quoted as saying:

"Yes the war between the Afghan Taliban and Islamic State branch in Khorasan has escalated. More attacks and more casualties, but in war there are casualties. [The Taliban] are not able to get firm control over [the areas they recapture] because soon they will be repelled back by the fighters of Islamic State."

The Taliban in the past have been reluctant to publicize their clashes with ISIS, believing it risks exaggerating the power of the group. But that's changing now, as ISIS-K becomes more prominent. An unnamed Taliban source says:

"The Taliban hit ISIS fighters hard and finished their presence in Laghman, while ISIS fighters were also killed in Kunar and Nangarhar. The Taliban will deal with them with an iron hand in future because they are exceeding their activities in the region. ...

ISIS has presented a negative image of Islam and created an environment of fear among the Muslims.

[ISIS attacked the Taliban] under the pretext of Islamic Shariah law and calling Taliban apostates thus creating confusion among the locals and other supporters of Afghan Taliban. In this way they are paving the way for the US and allied forces to create cracks in the unity of the Afghan Taliban, but so far they failed."

The Taliban claim that ISIS fighters are distracting the Taliban from completing their mission -- to defeat the US-led coalition. Reuters and The National (UAE)

Fighting between Taliban and ISIS-K escalates in Afghanistan

The Afghan government estimates that there are as many as 3,000 foreign fighters in ISIS-K in Afghanistan, many of them coming from Pakistan and Uzbekistan. However, accurate estimates are difficult because the Taliban and other militant groups are fluid, and members often move from one group to another.

ISIS-K fighters began appearing in Afghanistan in 2015, when ISIS in Syria and Iraq was considered highly stylish and fashionable among the atrocity-committing set. Many Taliban militants switched allegiance to ISIS because it was a better brand name, newer and more exciting. They were joined by foreign fighters from Uzbekistan and other countries. Starting in 2016, especially as ISIS came under attack in Iraq and Syria, foreign fighters who had gone to Syria to fight against Bashar al-Assad began to return to other countries, including Afghanistan, to continue the fight.

It's not believed that there was ever much communication between ISIS-K and ISIS leaders in Iraq and Syria, as the relationship is more like a shared brand name. To some extent, there is a parallel between Syria and Afghanistan, as local militants in the two countries join al-Qaeda and the Taliban, respectively, while foreign fighters join ISIS.

In both cases, the local and ISIS militants have conflicting objectives. Generally speaking, the local militants have purely local nationalist objectives, while the ISIS militants have the objective of establishing a multinational caliphate.

In Syria, the local militant group is Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), and they spent years fighting alongside moderate rebels to defeat Bashar al-Assad. ISIS, on the other hand, established a caliphate in Raqqa and took control of as much territory as possible, in Syria and Iraq. Bashar al-Assad and its principal backers in Russia and Iran indirectly supported ISIS by not targeting them, because ISIS was fighting the moderate rebels who were also al-Assad's enemies. It was left to the American forces, backing the Kurds and Iraqis, to finally expel ISIS from Raqqa and Mosul, and that fight is still going on.

In Afghanistan, the situation is similar. The Taliban are radicalized ethnic Pashtuns, fighting against their old enemies from the 1990s civil war, the Northern Alliance of Uzbeks, Tajiks and Hazaras. ISIS-K are foreign fighters and disaffected Taliban fighters who have pledged allegiance to ISIS in the name of the great multinational caliphate fantasy. The Taliban, on the other hand, have set as their primary objective forcing the US-led coalition to withdraw.

In terms of theology, ISIS considers the local nationalists to be apostates, mainly because they make alliances with other ISIS enemies, such as Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. However, ISIS saves its strongest vitriol for the Shia Muslims, as in this statement from January 2016:

"Initiated by a sly Jew, [the Shia] are an apostate sect drowning in worship of the dead, cursing the best companions and wives of the Prophet, spreading doubt on the very basis of the religion (the Koran and the Sunnah), defaming the very honor of the Prophet , and preferring their “twelve” imams to the prophets and even to Allah! ... Thus, the Rafidah [another word for Shias] are mushrik [polytheist] apostates who must be killed wherever they are to be found, until no Rafidi walks on the face of earth, even if the jihad claimants despise such."

In Afghanistan, many analysts believe that ISIS poses a greater threat today than the Taliban. There have been big spikes in terrorist violence in the last few months, and this is attributed to a competition between the two groups.

The strongest fighting force within the Taliban is the Haqqani network, which has been blamed for the most audacious attacks in Kabul. The Haqqani network has historical ties to Pakistan’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency. VOA (18-Nov-2017) and Washington Post (21-Mar-2018) and The Diplomat (29-Jan-2016) and Military Times

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Jul-18 World View -- Fighting between Taliban and ISIS-K escalates in Afghanistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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17-Jul-18 World View -- Pakistan terrorism grows as July 25 election approaches

'Ghazi Force' takes credit for attack on 11th anniversary of Red Mosque siege

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Second largest terror attack in Pakistan's history occurs at election rally


Facebook picture of Siraj Raisani, Baloch leader who was killed in terrorist attack on Friday
Facebook picture of Siraj Raisani, Baloch leader who was killed in terrorist attack on Friday

About 149 people were killed, including nine children, and hundreds injured at a terror attack on Friday in Mastung, near Quetta, the capital of the Balochistan province in southwest Pakistan. This was the second worst terror attack in Pakistan's history, and it occurs as a nationwide general election approaches on July 25.

The attack targeted an election rally for the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP). Among the 149 killed were the BAP candidate and Baloch leader Siraj Raisani.

The worst occurred in 2014, when Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP, Pakistan Taliban) attacked an army school in Peshawar in northwest Pakistan on Tuesday, killing 141 people, 132 of them schoolchildren, most of them children of soldiers. ( "17-Dec-14 World View -- Pakistan Taliban crosses a red line with mass slaughter of army children") The 2014 attack was such a shock to Pakistan, especially to the army, that the army immediately began a long-term counter-terrorism operation directed at TTP.

The new attack may not have the same effect of shock as the 2014 attack, because of a confluence of events. In the hours after the suicide attack occurred on Friday, the country was riveted by a scene going on at the other end of the country -- the return of the charismatic former prime minister Nawaz Sharif from self-imposed exile in London. Beginning in 1990, Sharif has been prime minister of Pakistan for three non-consecutive terms. But Sharif was charged with corruption early in 2017 because of revelations in the leaked Panama Papers, and he left the country after being forced to step down by the Pakistani Supreme Court. Sharif had been promising to return to Pakistan to defend himself against the charges, and on Friday his plane landed and, in the midst of crowds of thousands of supporters, he was arrested and taken off to jail.

So with all that going on, the terror attack in Balochistan didn't get much media coverage, and so there wasn't the level of public outrage and shock that had followed the 2014 terror attack. This is all the more surprising because there were two more terror attacks last week. On Tuesday, a suicide bombing in Peshawar at a rally for the Awami National Party (ANP) killed 21, including candidate Haroon Bilour. On Friday, a bomb roadside bomb killed four people in the northern town of Bannu.

Terrorist violence in Pakistan has ebbed since the military began counter-terrorism operations against the TTP after the 2014 attack. However, with three attacks in the last week alone, and with the election less than two weeks again, Pakistanis are concerned about a new surge in violence. Dawn (Pakistan) and South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP - India) and Express Tribune (Pakistan) and BBC and Indian Express

'Ghazi Force' takes credit for attack on 11th anniversary of Red Mosque siege

The terror group "Ghazi Force Lal Masjid," linked to Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP, Pakistan Taliban) claimed credit for the attack. This represents a resurgence of a group linked to a major event that occurred almost exactly eleven years ago.

On July 11, 2007, a spectacular 8-day siege ended after 36 hours in a mosque complex in Islamabad known as the "Red Mosque" or "Lal Masjid." It had all begun the previous January, when dozens of female seminary students studying and living at the madrassas within the mosque complex demanded that the government impose Taliban-style sharia law and arrest the prostitutes in downtown Islamabad. After a while, the female students would come out in black burqas with long bamboo sticks and threaten the prostitutes.

The last straw came when dozens of students kidnapped nine people, including six Chinese women and a Chinese man, leading to protests from China. The result was the siege and bloodbath that ended on July 11. It turned out that the Red Mosque had a huge cache of weapons that apparently had been brought there is the last few months.

The leading cleric for the Red Mosque was Imam Abdul Rashid Ghazi who called for his own death to spark an Islamic revolution. He said that he would rather be martyred than give in to the government, and he was killed during the siege. Ghazi said that he had declared war against Pakistan's government for entering into an alliance with the United States following the 9/11 attacks. The standoff left more than 100 militants dead, along with 11 armed forces personnel. It was a significant turning point in terrorism in Pakistan.

Al-Qaeda leaders quickly demanded revenge, and Ghazi's death has become a global inspiration to other jihadist movements. Six months later, on December 14, 2007, some 40 militant leaders, commanding 40,000 militant fighters, gathered in South Waziristan to form a united front under the banner of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Now, on the tenth anniversary of the Red Mosque siege, the Ghazi Force Lal Masjid has struck again. Dawn (9-July-2017) and Khaama News (Afghanistan)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Jul-18 World View -- Pakistan terrorism grows as July 25 election approaches thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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16-Jul-18 World View -- Socialist Cuba moves to Capitalism, while Socialist Venezuela moves to self-destruction

Private property ownership allowed under Cuba's new constitution

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Cuba's new constitution builds on ending of socialism in 2011


Homes and cars in Cuba are stuck in the 1950s, thanks to Socialism (Getty)
Homes and cars in Cuba are stuck in the 1950s, thanks to Socialism (Getty)

Cuba's new constitution will recognize private property for the first time since the fanatical Fidel Castro abolished private property after the Cuban Communist Revolution of 1959. Cuba's current constitution, adopted in 1976, recognizes four forms of property: state, cooperative, farmer, personal and joint-venture property. The new category of private property will permit Cubans to own business-related property.

Despite the insistence that Cuba is still a full-fledged, glorious Socialist state, ever since Fidel Castro stepped down in 2008, the two new leaders that replaced him have been moving Cuba in the direction of capitalism. This is in contrast to Venezuela and North Korea, whose Socialist leaders continue to move their countries toward self-destruction.

In 2010, when Cuba's economy was in shambles, and president Raúl Castro announced the end of the Socialist economy. The government would lay off 500,000 government workers (Socialist bureaucrats) and privatize many businesses.

In particular, Marx's Socialist Principle Of Distribution ("From each according to abilities, to each according to needs") was abandoned at the time, with the announcement: We must reinvigorate the socialist principle of distribution, to pay to each according to the quantity and quality of work provided."

Within two years of the 2010 announcement, the size of the state payroll had been reduced by 20%, and more than 200,000 people had moved into private enterprise. For the first time, Havana was population with street stalls selling everything from pirate DVDs to kitchen implements. The problem, however, was these self-employed small business owners were not permitted to own the street stalls that they had set up. The same was true of other entrepreneurs as well. Guardian (London, 6-Nov-2011) and Granma (Cuba, 20-Apr)

Private property ownership allowed under Cuba's new constitution

Since 2010, the number of self-employed people in areas like tourism and transport has nearly quadrupled to more than 591,000, around 13% of Cuba’s overall workforce.

In April of this year, Raúl Castro stepped down, and Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez became president. In a speech in April, Castro previewed the changes that Díaz-Canel was about to implement:

"We will continue to expand self-employed work – as I have mentioned in different speeches before this parliament – which represents an alternative source of employment within the framework of current law, and far from signifying a process of neoliberal privatization of social property, will allow the state to free itself of managing activities of a non-strategic nature to the country’s development. The experiment with non-agricultural cooperatives will also continue.

Significant results have been achieved in both areas, but also revealed are mistakes in management, control and monitoring, which have led to the emergence of various forms of indiscipline such as tax evasion, in a country where, before these measures were applied, hardly anyone paid taxes; criminal acts and regulatory violations, with the aim of getting rich quick, a problem which was not addressed in a timely manner and resulted in the need to modify various regulations linked to this sector."

This was a preview of the new constitution that was announced by president Mario Díaz-Canel on Saturday. Here is part of the announcement:

"The economic system that it reflects maintains as essential principles the socialist property of all the people on the fundamental means of production and planning as the main component of management, to which is added the recognition of the role of the market and of new forms of ownership, between they are private, in correspondence with the Conceptualization of the Cuban Economic and Social Socialist Development Model and the Guidelines of the Economic and Social Policy of the Party and the Revolution, as a result of the consultation with broad sectors of society. ...

Regarding private property on the land, a special regime is maintained, with limitations on its transmission and the preferential right of the State to its acquisition through its fair price."

So the new constitution allows entrepreneurs to keep their commercial property, but the last clause means that the dictators in the government can still confiscate property at any time. The Conversation (18-Apr) and Granma (Cuba) (Trans) and TelesurTV

Mario Díaz-Canel imposes harsh regulations on the private sector

Castro's speech in April referred to "mistakes in management, control and monitoring." The fear of a quickly growing private marketplace that might threaten the power of the dictatorship has motivated harsh restrictions and regulations. The government froze issuing licenses for some popular business categories last year, and new regulations forbid a single person from holding more than one business license. This has already discouraged badly needed investment in businesses, and has even forced some business owners to close businesses because business licenses had to be returned.

Investment is the reason why the economic changes are being made in the first place. Cuba has decaying road infrastructure, a national housing deficit, food shortages, and public transport problems.

Under the fanatical Fidel Castro, Cuba's economy was a continuing disaster, first propped up by the Soviet Union, and later by Venezuela. Now that Venezuela is an economic disaster, the payments are getting smaller, and Cuba needs money.

Cuban officials want international investors, but no one is willing to invest money in Cuba unless they believe that they can make a profit and take the money out. So really, Cuba's new regulations restricting business may may actually cancel out the advantages of owning private property.

It's also good to remember that returning Cuba to capitalism does not make it a democracy. I've written about many countries that illustrate this. Nazi Germany was a capitalist dictatorship. China today resembles a capitalist dictatorship. For example, Cameroon has a capitalist economy, but the Francophone government still commits daily atrocities on the Anglophone community, including extrajudicial jailings, mass slaughter, rape, torture, and burning down entire villages. Syria has a capitalist economy, but the government of Shia/Alawite president Bashar al-Assad continues full-scale genocide and ethnic cleaning of hated Sunni populations.

Still, Cuba and Venezuela are a study in contrasts. Venezuela is pushing forward with full-scale Socialism, destroying the country, turning it into a military fascist state, starving the population, and driving millions of families into neighboring countries as refugees. Venezuela has become a worldwide poster child for what a disaster Socialism always is, 100% of the time.

Perhaps because Venezuela is such a disaster, Cuba is taking a different path, looking for a way to maintain the dictatorship, but at the same time opening up the economy by abandoning Socialism in order to encourage foreign investments. A dictatorship without Socialism, as in the case of Cuba, isn't as disastrous as a dictatorship with Socialism, as in the case of Venezuela, so at least Cuba is choosing the lesser of two evils. Reuters and Havana Times and AFP

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Jul-18 World View -- Socialist Cuba moves to Capitalism, while Socialist Venezuela moves to self-destruction thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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15-Jul-18 World View -- Israel prepares for war on two fronts, Gaza and Syria

Egypt mediates Israel-Gaza ceasefire in biggest escalation since 2014 war

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Egypt mediates Israel-Gaza ceasefire in biggest escalation since 2014 war


A Patriot Missile launched in southern Israel on Friday afternoon hit an incoming Syrian drone as it crossed the border into Israel (Reuters)
A Patriot Missile launched in southern Israel on Friday afternoon hit an incoming Syrian drone as it crossed the border into Israel (Reuters)

Israel and Gaza appear close to full-scale war today for the first time since 2014, despite the announcement that both Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza had agreed to a ceasefire mediated by Egypt. However, it's unclear whether the ceasefire is holding.

According to Israel's military (IDF), since Friday afternoon Hamas has launched 200 rockets and mortar shells across the border into Israel, causing property damage and three injuries.

As a precaution, the IDF instructed Israelis living near the Gaza border to remain within a 15-second radius from bomb shelters or safe rooms.

In retaliation, Israeli aircraft on Saturday attacked more than 40 targets in Gaza in the most extensive daytime assault since the 67 day war with Gaza in 2014. The IDF says that targets included urban warfare training facilities, weapon storage warehouse, training compounds, command centers, and offices in Hamas's Battalion headquarters. This was the first time recently that Israel struck targets in the heart of Gaza city. Palestinians said two teens were killed and 14 injured in the Israeli strikes.

Every Friday after midday prayers for several months, Gaza has been holding demonstrations along the border fence with Israel, with the stated objective for Palestinians to exercise their "Right of Return," to regain the lands where their ancestors had lived, prior to the 1947 war between Arabs and Jews that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. The demonstrations have been mostly peaceful, but activists have also tried to break through the fence, with the intent of attacking Israelis in their homes.

In recent weeks, the protests have been supplemented by incendiary kites and balloons, which float over the border fence and land in forests and farmland, causing massive fires. Israel's army has been baffled by these devices, and has been responding by striking Hamas targets in Gaza. Saturday's attack was the biggest attack since the 2014 full-scale war.

According to an IDF spokesman, the aims of Saturday's operation were to end the large-scale border protests, end the incendiary kites and balloons, and end the rocket and mortar fire. That appears to be a great deal to hope for. Jerusalem Post and Times of Israel and BBC and Reuters

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Israel also prepares for war on Syria border with Iran and Hezbollah

Late on Saturday evening, Israel's army announced that military exercises will be taking place across the country for the next week, starting immediately on Sunday morning. The announcement said that the exercises were "planned in advance," but the abrupt nature of the announcement indicates that imminent concerns.

It's believed that the it may be in response to the following announcement that appeared in the Syrian governments al-Masdar news on Thursday:

"The Syrian Arab Army’s shock troops have moved from the Daraa Governorate to the Al-Quneitra front, following the military’s recent achievements in southwest Syria.

According to the official Facebook of Colonel Nizar Qindi, his elite shock troops from the 9th Division have moved to the Al-Quneitra Governorate, today, after a short deployment in the Daraa Governorate. ...

The 9th Division has operated in the Al-Quneitra Governorate before, but they were later redeployed to the Damascus and Daraa fronts to aid in those offensives.

Also redeploying alongside the 9th Division was the National Defense Forces (NDF) of Al-Sweida, Damascus, and Izraa.

These reinforcements should give the Syrian Arab Army and their allies a major military boost in the Al-Quneitra Governorate, as they make their final preparations for this operation.

In the coming days, the Syrian Army is expected to kickoff their long-awaited Al-Quneitra offensive, as they look to conclude their southwest Syria operations before month’s end."

The National Defense Forces (NDF) referred to in the statement are a collection of militias that the Syrian regime set up in 2012, organized by Iran and Hezbollah.

While Israel's army is struggling to deal with the increasing tensions on the Gaza border, the army is also facing the possibility of a northern war with Iran and Hezbollah along the border with Syria.

It's quite possible that Israel's army is not prepared for a two-front war. This could explain Saturday evening's abrupt announcement of military exercises in cities across Israel.

Syria's Quneitra offensive is expected to begin within the next two days, before or during the summit between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. Al-Masdar News (Damascus) and Debka (Israel) and YNet (Israel) and Debka

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Jul-18 World View -- Israel prepares for war on two fronts, Gaza and Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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14-Jul-18 World View -- China's railway contractor in Kenya accused of 'neo-colonialism, racism and blatant discrimination'

Kenya may lose its Mombasa seaport to China because of 'Debt Book Diplomacy'

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China's railway contractor in Kenya accused of 'neo-colonialism, racism and blatant discrimination'

Kenyan workers on Kenya railway line begin abused by Chinese masters


Chinese railway contractor punishes workers for refusing to do menial jobs that they were not hired to do (Standard Media, Kenya)
Chinese railway contractor punishes workers for refusing to do menial jobs that they were not hired to do (Standard Media, Kenya)

A series of reports in Kenyan newspapers being described as "explosive" accuse the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), which is responsible for developing and operating Kenya's Special Gauge Railway (SGR), of "neo-colonialism, racism and blatant discrimination" towards Kenya workers. The SGR train is the Madaraka Express, which operates between Kenya's Port of Mombasa and the capital city Nairobi.

Racism is rampant, to the point where the Chinese have apparently set up an apartheid system. At the staff canteen, Kenyans may not sit at the same tables as Chinese. Kenyans may not share the company's staff vans used by the Chinese. All the signs are written in Chinese, apparently with no translations available, to prevent the Kenyans from doing many of the jobs.

Although Kenyan workers have at least civil engineering degrees, the Chinese masters order them to perform only menial tasks, well below their skill levels. If a Kenyan refuses to perform menial work as ordered, he can be physically punished. Furthermore, when a Kenyan and a Chinese employee perform the same job, the Chinese employee's salary is four times as high.

There are 40 Kenyan locomotive drivers employed by the company, but the Chinese do not actually let them drive the train. The Chinese are supposed to be training Kenyans to do the technical jobs, but according to one Kenyan driver who has been working at the company for over a year, "We just sit at the back and watch. There is no actual transfer of skills that is happening here."

Chinese workers blatantly violate the rules -- smoking inside the trains, urinating on the tracks, and other violations that are ignored for the Chinese workers but would immediately get a Kenyan worker fired.

The Chinese contractor CRBC is apparently also guilty of corruption and financial fraud. Some employees have also discovered that the Chinese contractor has been reporting different figures to the Kenya Revenue Authority for tax purposes.

Kenya's government have apparently sided with the Chinese contractor, against the Kenyan workers, blaming the Kenyan workers for having a poor work ethic. According to government spokesman Eric Kiraithe;

"I am not saying any worker should be discriminated and humiliated in the workplace but we must all appreciate that the operation of a modern train is a profession that calls for military standard discipline.

Inward-looking, haki yetu ["our rights" in Swahili] centered personalities have no place in this kind of profession, not now or in the future. They are the first crop of Kenyans employed on this project and the culture they entrench will determine whether in less than 10 years we shall depend on them."

The news reports have caused a major scandal in Kenya. Kenya Railways, the agency mandated to supervise the Chinese operator of the railway project said it was launching an investigation into the claims, giving CRBC 72 hours to submit a report. Kenyans News and Shanghaiist and Standard Media (Kenya) and Nairobi Wire and Standard Media (Kenya)

Kenya may lose its Mombasa seaport to China because of 'Debt Book Diplomacy'

China is building infrastructure projects in many countries as part of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). China does not build a project in a country for free. It loans the money at harsh terms with high interest rates. Furthermore, it demands that almost all of the work be done by Chinese workers, who get paid out of the money that has been loaned, so most of the money that China loans to the country is returned to China in the form of remittances and payments for services, but the country still has that debt, and has to repay the same money to China again, with interest.

Theoretically, the Chinese workers are supposed to train the local workers, and responsibility for the project is supposed to be turned over to the country within a few years. But as we're seeing in the case of Kenya's SGR, the Chinese masters are forcing the Kenyans into menial jobs, are segregating themselves from the Kenyans, are maintaining all signs in Chinese so that the Kenyans are not being trained.

This is being called "Debt Book Diplomacy" (as opposed to "checkbook diplomacy," which the US used to be accused of). The poster child for how it works is the Port of Hambantota, a Chinese infrastructure project in Sri Lanka, funded with a loan from China, with almost all the labor performed by Chinese workers. Sri Lanka was unable to repay the loan, and the government was forced to give the Port to China. So now Sri Lanka has a large seaport owned by China, and a large Chinese enclave with hundreds of Chinese families, with no benefit to itself and to its own people.

Kenya has been going on a public borrowing binge. Kenya's public debt is over $50 billion, including $4 billion in loans from China for the SGR.

Theoretically, the Madaraka Express, the SGR train that operates between the Port of Mombasa and the capital city Nairobi, is supposed to pay for itself, just like Sri Lanka's Hambantota seaport. The World Bank in 2013 warned Kenya that the railway project was a bad deal, but Kenya went ahead with it anyway.

However, it now emerges that in the first year of operation, the only managed to bring in $10 million in revenues, far short of the fantasy amounts that were originally promised. Furthermore, even that amount is dependent on the government forcing businesses to use the railway, even when it's not the best choice.

According to David Shinn, a former diplomat and a professor of international affairs at George Washington University:

"Keep in mind that this is a loan from a Chinese bank. A Chinese company by contract is required to build the projects on an enormous amount of that loan money that’s going to go straight into the pocket of a Chinese state-owned company. It’s going to have a percentage of Chinese labor.

And most of the material that goes into the project will be manufactured in China. So, Chinese companies are making a profit on that. There are two or three wins for China, you know, [and] one win for Kenya and Ethiopia, being that they get a railway built that no other country is offering to build for them."

Kenya is not able to make its debt payments in these circumstances. Rumors are beginning to spread that Kenya will be forced to give up the Mombasa seaport to the Chinese, just as Sri Lanka was forced to give up the Hambantota seaport. The government is denying these rumors, but has not explained how the debt will be paid. Soko Directory (Kenya) and Standard Media (Kenya) and VOA and Center for Global Development (4-Mar-2018)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Jul-18 World View -- China's railway contractor in Kenya accused of 'neo-colonialism, racism and blatant discrimination' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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13-Jul-18 World View -- Viral video shows Francophone Cameroon soldiers killing women and children

Cameroon continues on path to full-scale civil war

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Viral video shows Francophone Cameroon soldiers killing women and children


Screen shot from video shows soldier pushing blindfolded woman with baby to the ground, just before he shoots both of them dead.
Screen shot from video shows soldier pushing blindfolded woman with baby to the ground, just before he shoots both of them dead.

A horrendously graphic video that has gone viral on social media depicts Cameroon Francophone (French-speaking) government soldiers in uniform blindfolding, shooting and killing two women, as well as the two babies that they're carrying. One of the uniformed men says in French that it is a heavy burden executing people but they don't have another option.

According to Amnesty International:

"The Cameroonian authorities’ initial claim that this shocking video is fake simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. We can provide credible evidence to the contrary. Given the gravity of these horrific acts – the cold blooded and calculated slaughter of women and young children – these hasty and dismissive denials cast serious doubt over whether any investigation will be genuine. It is imperative that a proper, impartial investigation is undertaken and those responsible for these abhorrent acts are brought to justice."

The claim by Cameroon's government that a "proper, impartial investigation" will be conducted is not credible, in light of repeated atrocities by the Francophone government over the last two years.

These government atrocities began in November 2016, when the Francophone (French-speaking) Cameroon government security forces began beating and killing peaceful anti-government demonstrators in the South Cameroons, the Anglophone (English-speaking) regions of Cameroon. The demonstrators were protesting systematic bias, discrimination and marginalization towards Anglophones by the Francophone government. For example, schoolteachers in the Anglophone regions were forbidden from teaching any courses in English.

The Cameroon government, led by the 85 year old president Paul Biya, has stepped up the torture, slaughter and other atrocities continually since then, with numerous videos and reports on social media documenting the atrocities. The level of atrocities ticked up considerably in October, when the Anglophone separatists demanded independence for the Southern Cameroons, calling it Ambazonia.

There have been numerous videos posted on social media showing atrocities committed since then. Another video, posted by the BBC, is a compilation of verified videos from social media accounts showing everything from torture to entire villages being burned down. Africa News and Amnesty International and YouTube - Extrajudicial execution of women and children and YouTube - BBC - Cameroon military atrocities, village burnings

Cameroon continues on path to full-scale crisis civil war

It's increasingly clear that the Francophone government in Cameroon is conducting genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Anglophone people in the Southern Cameroons. Hundreds of thousands of people have had to flee their homes, and tens of thousands have fled across the border into Nigeria. Nigerians who used to conduct business in Southern Cameroons are now abandoning their businesses and returning home in droves.

Cameroon's last generational crisis war was the "UPC Revolt," 1956-1960, which was a bloody civil war by communists attacking the French government in the Cameroun colony. It has now been exactly 58 years since the ending climax of the UPC Revolt. Generational Dynamics research has found that 58 years is the minimum and most common time period from the end of one crisis war till the beginning of the next, since 58 years is exactly the point where the survivors who were traumatized by the war almost all disappear (retire or die), all at once, and are replaced in positions of power by younger generations of people with no personal memory of the atrocities of the previous crisis war, and therefore have no fear of starting a new one.

Because of the flood of Anglophones from Cameroon entering Nigeria, some Nigerian activists are urging Nigeria's government to try to mediate in Cameroon, even though Nigeria has to deal with Boko Haram and bloody fights between farmers and herders that have been widely reported in the news. Abdul Oroh, a lawyer and civil rights activist from Nigeria, summarizes the situation:

"Specifically, the Francophone Cameroon is trying to dominate and super-impose itself on the Anglophone Cameroon. They had two legal systems but there is a policy of assimilation which is threatening to obliterate the Anglophone culture and legal system. One of the lawyers told me that as a lawyer, if you file a case at the Ministry of Justice in Cameroon, unless it us written in French, they won’t treat the case. What you now do is to go and look for somebody who can translate it into French. There is so much anger and bitterness in that country. ...

We were under military rule when we intervened in apartheid South Africa. We were under military rule when we stepped out to restore democracy in Sierra Leone and Liberia. We have been carrying out peace-keeping operations, not just within but even outside Africa. We are talking about our immediate neighbors whose citizens are pouring into our country as refugees on daily basis. These refugees are putting pressures on our lean resources. If we don’t help them to solve that problem, it will continue and could get to a stage when it could even become a threat to our own security too. So, it is not a question of moral right because human lives are involved in this conflict. It is true that we have our own challenges but I am not saying we should deploy our troops there to help one side to defeat the other side. I am saying we should help them to get to talk, negotiate peace and resolve their differences amicably."

Unfortunately, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, attempts to mediate and negotiate will not work. What is happening in Cameroon is the beginnings of a generational crisis civil war. A crisis war is a force of nature that cannot be stopped until it burns itself out, typically after around five years, with an explosive genocidal climax of some kind that horrifies everyone so much that it brings the war to an end. Cameroon is nowhere near that explosive climax at this time. New Telegraph (Nigeria) and AFP and Deutsche Welle and Task and Purpose

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Jul-18 World View -- Viral video shows Francophone Cameroon soldiers killing women and children thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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12-Jul-18 World View -- Haiti blames IMF for fuel price increases triggering riots

Haiti people riot after announcement of fuel price rises during World Cup match

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Haiti people riot after announcement of fuel price rises during World Cup match


People dump trash and raw sewage into canals that run through Port-au-Prince, Haiti. When it rains, the canals overflow and flood poor neighborhoods. (NPR)
People dump trash and raw sewage into canals that run through Port-au-Prince, Haiti. When it rains, the canals overflow and flood poor neighborhoods. (NPR)

On Friday, as Haitians were watching the World Cup game between Brazil and Belgium, Haiti's government announced the end of large subsidies on fuel prices, resulting in dramatic price increases -- 38% for gasoline, 47% for diesel fuel, and 51% for kerosene. The increases were blamed on the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The price increases for fuel appeared to affect everyone. The gasoline prices affected those in the middle or upper classes who own automobiles, the diesel prices affected businesspeople who use diesel fuel for trucks and heavy equipment, and the kerosene price increases hit poor people especially hard, as they burn kerosene to light up their homes, lacking electricity.

Haiti was the poorest country in the world, even before the major earthquake the country suffered in 2010. There was a huge outpouring of international aid after the earthquake, including a large fund organized by former president Bill Clinton, but none of the people seem to have benefited, and almost all the money was apparently lost in corruption.

The government had apparently hoped that by announcing the price increases during Friday's World Cup game, nobody would notice. That turned out to be a major miscalculation. Most Haitians fervently supported Brazil over Belgium in Friday's World Cup game, and were shocked when the game ended in a loss for Brazil. The rioting began five minutes after the game ended. Burning tires blocked major routes in Haiti's capital city Port-au-Prince, and sporadic gunfire could be heard around the city. Store and car windows in the affluent sections of Port-au-Prince were reportedly smashed. Affluent hotels were also targeted. Three people were killed on Friday.

As the rioting became increasingly violent, Haiti's president Jovenel Moïse, accompanied by his wife Martine, appeared in a televised address to the nation on Saturday evening:

"You sent me the message and I got it. I corrected what needed to be corrected.... I asked the Government to reconsider the decision to withdraw subsidies on the prices of petroleum products. The Prime Minister did it. The price of fuel remains what it was before, throughout the national territory. There is no longer an increase in gas prices. ... Now I ask you to stay calm and go home. ... I know that it is to me that you gave the power, but I cannot run alone. I have to have a lot of people around me before making a decision."

The protests didn't end. On Monday, workers went on strike and shut the capital down. Many analysts have stated that the continuing riots are being caused by massive government corruption. According to one NGO analyst:

"Having had over ten deployments to Haiti following the earthquake in 2010, including during their elections, I do not think that the increase in fuel prices is the root cause of this crisis.

They know that sacrifices have to be made to improve their economy, and they have made them in the past. However, after suffering for so long, the Haitian people hate being tricked

Their political candidates promised to address mismanagement and corruption if they were elected. The people expected improvements in government efficiency, and arrests of those accused of corruption, before being targeted for austerity.

However, to have austerity forced on them, without the promised efficiency and arrests, appeared to be too much for the people to bear from a government that promised to be different."

The United States has warned Americans living in Haiti to shelter in place in their homes, to avoid the violence. A marine security detachment of 13 marines has arrived in Haiti to provide security at the US embassy there.

Both the United States and Canada have policies to deport Haitians who fled from the violence following the 2010 earthquake. Activists in Canada is demanding that because of the current violence, deportations back to Haiti should immediately end, and Haiti should be put back on the government list of countries to which migrants may not be returned. AFP (7-July) and Barbados Today and Military.com and Canadian Broadcasting

International Monetary Fund blamed for austerity triggering riots

The fuel price increases announced on Friday were caused by a termination of subsidies as demanded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in return for $96 million in loans and grants from the IMF and the World Bank.

When the price increases were announced, Prime Minister Guy Lafontant said, “I ask for your patience because our administration has a vision, a clear program." He defended the price increases because the subsidies make Haiti's fuel prices the lowest in Latin America among the non-petroleum producing nations. Furthermore he claimed that many people regularly crossed the border from neighboring Dominican Republic, where oil prices are 43% higher, to take advantage of the subsidized prices in Haiti, which meant that the subsidies were supporting both Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

The austerity demands were in an agreement that Haiti signed with the IMF in February. The agreement defines a "Staff-Monitored Program" (SMP), where IMF closely monitors government activities in Haiti in return from the loans and grants. The agreement requires that it is necessary "to eliminate excessive subsidies, including on retail fuel." According to the agreement:

"“Under the SMP, fiscal policy will focus on mobilizing revenues and rationalizing current expenditure, to make room for critical public investment in infrastructure, health, education and social services. This will include measures to improve tax collection and efficiency, and to eliminate excessive subsidies, including on retail fuel. Other reforms will focus on stemming the losses of the public electricity company (EDH), which in recent years have amounted to a sizeable portion of the public deficit, by improving the efficiency of billing, and by reforming contracting practices. Fiscal reforms also aim to increase the transparency of public accounts. These reforms are to be accompanied by a substantial package of mitigating measures to protect the most vulnerable members of society. ...

IMF staff will work closely with the authorities to monitor progress in the implementation of their economic program.."

By Wednesday, relative calm had been restored in Haiti. The president and prime minister are under pressure to resign, and it's not known how the IMF will react, now that the subsidies have been restored. Atlanta Black Star and IMF (27-Feb-2018) and Miami Herald

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11-Jul-18 World View -- Concerns grow that Azerbaijan plans Armenia invasion from Nakhchivan enclave

Tensions grow between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Nakhchivan enclave

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Tensions grow between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Nakhchivan enclave


Azerbaijan.  The disputed enclaves are Nagorno-Karabakh in mid-Azerbaijan, and Nakhchivan (Naxçivan), in the southwest corner of the map, separated from the rest of Azerbaijan by Armenian territory.  Not shown on the map, Turkey has a 10 km border with Nakhchivan. (CIA World Factbook)
Azerbaijan. The disputed enclaves are Nagorno-Karabakh in mid-Azerbaijan, and Nakhchivan (Naxçivan), in the southwest corner of the map, separated from the rest of Azerbaijan by Armenian territory. Not shown on the map, Turkey has a 10 km border with Nakhchivan. (CIA World Factbook)

Tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan have been rising quickly in the last month, as the result of the movement of Azerbaijan military forces in the enclave of Nakhchivan closer to the border with Armenia.

In recent years, most of the military tension between the two countries has been related to Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave of Armenian citizens in the midst of Azerbaijan. Armenia and Azerbaijan were both part of the Soviet Union empire, but the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, led to a bloody war between the two countries. The war ended in a cease-fire, with the Armenians in control of several Azerbaijani regions, including Nagorno-Karabakh.

In April 2016, the continuing low-level conflict between the two countries spiraled into a major clash, the worst since 1994, with tanks, heavy artillery and helicopters. ( "3-Apr-16 World View -- Armenia-Azerbaijan escalating conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh threatens the entire region") Although that clash ended once again in a cease-fire, low-level violence has been almost continuous since then, with each side typically accusing the other of hundreds of cease-fire violations every week.

The new increase in tensions is not in Nagorno-Karabakh, but in Nakhchivan (Naxçivan), an enclave shown in the southwest corner of the above map. Nakhchivan is recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but it's separated from the rest of Azerbaijan by part of Armenia.

Both of the enclaves Nagorno-Karabakh and Nakhchivan were created by Soviet leader Josef Stalin, but supposedly for similar reasons -- to maintain tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia so that Russia could use its time-tested approach of divide and rule. More important, Stalin wanted to deprive Turkey of a direct land bridge to Azerbaijan and Turkic Central Asia while giving Armenia an external Soviet border to Iran.

Starting in 1993, after Turkey and Azerbaijan closed their borders with Armenia, a railway connecting Kars, in far eastern Turkey, to Central Asia to the Caucasus was proposed. Since October 2017, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) Railway has been transporting goods between Kazakhstan and central Europe, with plans to increase its capacity. Jamestown (12-June) and Vice (8-May-2013) and EurasiaNet (29-June)

Concerns grow that Azerbaijan plans Armenia invasion from Nakhchivan enclave

Some Russian analysts are raising concerns that Azerbaijan is about to invade Armenia from Nakhchivan, based on movements by Azeri troops. If that happens, it would not be long before other countries in the region would begin choosing sides.

During the 1800s, Azerbaijan was a province of Iran, and there's a large Persian population in Azerbaijan, which is particularly heavy in Nakhchivan.

Iran would be able to exert a great deal of control over Nakhchivan if the invasion takes place. Iran controls the only land bridge between Nakhchivan and the rest of Azerbaijan, and so limit the supplies being sent to Nakhchivan. Furthermore, Iran supplies much of the water and electricity to Nakhchivan, and could shut them off if desired. However, Iran might support the invasion in return for concessions from Azerbaijan, particularly ending support for the separatist ethnic Azerbaijanis in northern Iran.

Turkey has close relations with Azerbaijan, because of the latter's large Turkic population. Turkey also has a long, bitter history with Armenia, especially after the slaughter and displacement of millions of Armenians in Turkey during World War I. So Turkey might support an Azeri invasion of Armenia.

However, despite the love-fest between Turkey and Russia in Syria in recent years, Turkey and Russia are bitter historic enemies, with centuries of crisis wars in the southern Caucasus, and that enmity would quickly be revived in the case of a new Caucasus war between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

On the other hand, Orthodox (Armenian Apostolic) Christians in Armenia are culturally linked to Russian Orthodox Christians, and so Russia would choose the side of Armenia against Azerbaijan.

In the case of an Azerbaijan attack on Armenia, Armenia could invoke a 1997 mutual defense treaty with Russia, and as a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Russia's version of Nato for the former members of the Soviet Union, Armenia has the right to request assistance of any kind, including direct military, from the entire bloc or from its individual member countries. Russia has also promised to provide Armenia with air-defense radars and missiles.

Furthermore, the "Armenian-Russian United Group of Forces," formed after April 2016 clash, could enter the war. A Russian analysis provides a vitriolic response to complaints from Turkey and Azerbaijan when this force grouping was formed in 2016:

"For example, it is widely known that the creation of the Armenian-Russian grouping of troops from the very first days was sharply criticized by Turkey and Azerbaijan, whose policies agitated Moscow to abandon this idea and see exclusively "devoted allies" in Ankara and Baku. It seems that considering all the "knives in the back" that the Turks of Russia have stumbled upon (from the shot down planes in Syria, the murders of pilots to the brazen act of terrorism against the Russian ambassador to Karlov in Ankara) from 2015-16, the hypocrisy of the opponents of creating and operating the Armenian- Russian groupings of troops are more than noticeable. As well as the fact that Moscow was not and does not intend to listen to the pharisaic calls of Ankara and Baku."

The statement alludes to Turkey's shooting down of a Russian warplane in Syria in November 2015, and the assassination of a Russian diplomat in Ankara in December 2016. Jamestown and Regnum (Russia, 28-June) (Trans) and EurasiaNet (3-July) and Azerbaijan Ministry of Defense

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Jul-18 World View -- Concerns grow that Azerbaijan plans Armenia invasion from Nakhchivan enclave thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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10-Jul-18 World View -- Israel will close crossing point to Gaza in retaliation for incendiary kites

The incendiary kite attacks began with 'The Great March for Return'

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel will close crossing point to Gaza in retaliation for incendiary kites


Gate of Kerem Shalom crossing, the main passage point for goods entering Gaza, whose closure was announced on Monday. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Gate of Kerem Shalom crossing, the main passage point for goods entering Gaza, whose closure was announced on Monday. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Monday the close of the Kerem Shalom crossing point between Israel and Gaza. The crossing is located near the Egyptian border and serves as the main entry point for commercial goods and humanitarian aid. The closing will lead to sharp cuts in the flow of commercial goods into Gaza, although humanitarian aid, food and medicine will still be allowed through, approved on an individual basis.

The move is retaliation for a wave of incendiary kites and balloons with firebombs attached that have been launched in recent weeks from Gaza into Israel. Israeli authorities say that the firebombs have set fire to 7,000 acres of forest and farmland in southern Israel.

Netanyahu said that additional steps will be taken to try to stop the kites and balloons:

"About Gaza, I have been telling you for some time that I do not intend to publicize in advance all the steps that we are taking or planning. But the Defense Minister and I agree that we will be heavy-handed with the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip – immediately. In a significant step, today we are closing the Kerem Shalom crossing. There will be additional steps; I will not go into details."

An Israeli army statement announced an additional member to be taken immediately. Gaza’s designated fishing zone will be reduced from nine to six nautical miles off the coast throughout the duration of the season. This is a reversal of a decision to expand the fishing zone. The fishing zone is usually six naval miles wide but was temporarily expanded to nine miles three months ago.

The statement added the following:

"If Hamas continues in this direction, these decisions will continue and will intensify. The Hamas terrorist organization is responsible for what is happening inside the Gaza Strip and coming out of it. Hamas is dragging the population of Gaza into the abyss, and the Israeli Defense Forces will continue to work to preserve Israel's security interests."

A Hamas spokesman said that closing the crossing point was "a new crime against humanity added to the black record of the Israeli occupation against our Palestinian people and our people in the Gaza Strip." He added:

"International and regional silence for the crime of the suffocating siege imposed on the Gaza Strip for (nearly) 12 years has encouraged the Israeli enemy to carry on with its criminal measures that violate human rights and international laws. Therefore, Hamas calls on the international community to act immediately and prevent this crime and its dangerous consequences."

However, Israel's Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that the incendiary kites and balloons deserve even harsher punishment that Israel inflicted on Gaza in Operation Protective Edge, the 2014 war in Gaza which killed 74 Israeli soldiers and thousands of Gaza civilians: "The way Hamas is conducting itself, it could pay a heavier price than it did in Protective Edge. This situation, in which every day our woodlands are being burned every day cannot continue,"

Liberman on Monday also announced that he was designing the Lebanon-based al-Quds television network as a terrorist organization, accusing it of being an arm of Hamas. This will permit Israel to impose economic sanctions on the network. However, a spokesman for the network said, "The decision on the al-Quds channel is another step of terror that joins the other violent decisions Israel has taken against the Palestinian people." World Israel News and Middle East Eye and YNet News (Israel) and Times of Israel

The incendiary kite attacks began with 'The Great March for Return'

The "Great March for Return" began on March 30 of this year, when thousands of Gazans demonstrated near the border fence separating Gaza from Israel and sometimes attempting to break through the fence. The objective was for Palestinians to exercise their "Right of Return," to regain the lands where their ancestors had lived, prior to the 1947 war between Arabs and Jews that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel.

When the Great March for Return began, Israeli authorities were concerned that if a group of Gaza activists broke through the fence, they would attack Israeli homes. Israel's army retaliated first with tear gas and then with live gunfire. During the first march, 16 Palestinians were killed, and hundreds were wounded.

The demonstrations peaked on May 14, which the Palestinians commemorate as "Naqba Day" or "Catastrophe Day," commemorating the founding, in 1948, of the state of Israel. In addition, May 14 is the day announced by the Trump administration when the official US embassy to Israel will move to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

After that, the demonstrations on the Gaza border began to diminish, but there were replaced by a new tactic, the incendiary kites and balloons, which have been in use to this day.

The incendiary kites and balloons appear to have baffled the Israeli military, which has not found a way to deal with them, putting the Netanyahu government under pressure to solve the problem. The announcements on Monday, including closing the Kerem Shalom crossing point between Israel and Gaza, is retaliation for the kites and balloons, but it remains to be seen whether the retaliatory acts will prevent them. Reuters and Israel National News

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9-Jul-18 World View -- India's Kashmir locked down after 3 civilians killed by police

Violence sparked by death of Burhan Wani continues to grow

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

India's Kashmir locked down after 3 civilians killed by police


Villagers in Kashmir carry the body of a youth, Faizan Ahmed, 15, during a funeral on June 30, 2018. (AFP)
Villagers in Kashmir carry the body of a youth, Faizan Ahmed, 15, during a funeral on June 30, 2018. (AFP)

A 16-year-old girl was among three people who died in Kashmir on Friday, after security forces opened fire at stone-throwing protesters. India's army says that it's "investigating" the deaths of the three civilians, but says that they had to resort to controlled firing after a patrol unit was attacked by a crowd of nearly 500 people. In a statement, the army that soldiers were injured from terrorist gunfire.

Mobile internet services have been suspended in the entire Kashmir Valley, over fears that of widespread unrest, particularly as July 8 is the two-year anniversary of the death of Burhan Wani, the commander of the Kashmir separatist group Hizbul Mujahideen.

Hizbul Mujahideen is a separatist terror group of Muslims demanding independence for India-governed Kashmir, and that it be permitted to merge with Pakistan-governed Kashmir, so that all of Kashmir is under Pakistan control. Hizbul Mujahideen was formed in 1989, funded by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. It's been very popular in Kashmir, with thousands of anti-India protesters as members, and is demanding that Kashmir be separated from India and made part of Pakistan. New Delhi TV and India Times and The Independent (Bangladesh) and Hindustan Times

Violence sparked by death of Burhan Wani continues to grow

The death of Burhan Wani on July 8, 2016, triggered a major surge in violence that lasted throughout the summer and then into the fall, resulting in the deaths of 80 people. The violence ebbed only when the cold of winter set in. Then the violence began again in summer 2017, continuing into the winter.

The violence has been greater so far this year. Since January this year, 210 people including 58 civilians, over 104 militants, and 48 security forces personnel have been killed in the Valley in different incidents of violence.

There's also been a change in the membership of the separatist groups in the last two years. In the past, the members of the separatist groups had infiltrated from the Pakistan-governed side of Kashmir, but recently young people from India-government Kashmir have been announcing their joining the militants on social media, with pictures of themselves holding guns.

On May 25 of this year, Shamsul Haq Mengnoo, 25, the younger brother of a police officer, announced on social media that he had joined Hizbul Mujahideen. Shamsul is the fourth highly-educated youth to join militant ranks this year, and the 50th youth to join altogether. On Sunday alone, the anniversary of Wani Burhan's death, over a dozen newly recruited militants posted pictures on social media.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Kashmir is replaying previous generations of violence according to a fairly standard template. India's previous two generational crisis wars were India's 1857 Rebellion, which pitted Hindu nationalists against British colonists, and the 1947 Partition War, one of the bloodiest wars of the 20th century, pitting Hindus versus Muslims, following the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan.

Now, as the survivors of the 1947 Partition War have almost all died off, leaving behind younger generations with no fear of repeating past disasters, Kashmir is repeating the violence of 1857 and 1947.

As the weather has warmed in the last few weeks, the violence has been increasing. Generational Dynamics predicts that Kashmir is returning to full-scale war, re-fighting the extremely bloody partition war of 1947. Tribune India and First Post (India) and CNBC (5-July)

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8-Jul-18 World View -- North Korea issues vitriolic anti-US rant, collapsing denuclearization talks

The North Korean demands: total American withdrawal from South Korea

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

North Korea issues vitriolic anti-US rant, collapsing denuclearization talks


Mike Pompeo in Pyongyang after his meetings on Saturday (AFP)
Mike Pompeo in Pyongyang after his meetings on Saturday (AFP)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited North Korean on Friday and Saturday, where he was snubbed by not having a meeting with the child dictator Kim Jong-un.

Pompeo characterized the meeting as "successful," but the North Korean news agency KCNA issued a 1,300 word vitriolic anti-US rant, criticizing the "gangster-like demand for denuclearization," and then contradicting itself by threatening to end its alleged "unshakable will for denuclearization." Here are some excerpts:

"It was, however, so regretful to mention what the U.S. side had shown in its attitude and stand at the first DPRK-U.S. high-level talks held on 6 and 7 July.

The DPRK [North Korea] side, during the talks, put forward the constructive proposals to seek a balanced implementation of all the provisions of the Joint Statement out of its firm willingness to remain faithful to the implementation of the spirit and agreed points of the DPRK-U.S. summit meeting and talks. ...

But, the U.S. side came up only with its unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization just calling for CVID, declaration and verification, all of which run counter to the spirit of the Singapore summit meeting and talks. ...

The issues the U.S. side insisted on at the talks are all roots of troubles, which the previous administrations also had insisted on to disrupt the dialogue processes, stoke the distrust and increase the danger of war. ...

The first DPRK-U.S. high-level talks this time brought us in a dangerous situation where we may be shaken in our unshakable will for denuclearization, rather than consolidating trust between the DPRK and the U.S.

In the last few months, we displayed maximum patience and watched the U.S. while initiating good-will steps as many as we can.

But, it seems that the U.S. misunderstood our goodwill and patience.

The U.S. is fatally mistaken if it went to the extent of regarding that the DPRK would be compelled to accept, out of its patience, the demands reflecting its gangster-like mindset. ...

But, if the U.S., being captivated in a fidget, tries to force upon us the old ways claimed by the previous administrations, this will get us nowhere. ...

We still cherish our good faith in President Trump.

The acronym CVID refers to "complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization," which has been the stated objective of the Trump administration from the beginning. KCNA (North Korea) and AP

The North Korean demands: total American withdrawal from South Korea

As I wrote two days ago ( "6-Jul-18 World View -- Sec of State Pompeo visits North Korea amid reports that sanctions will be softened"), the objective of Pompeo's trip was to press Kim to provide a complete list of all nuclear and ballistic missile production sites, and a timetable for shutting them down. Obviously the North Koreans balked at that request.

As I've said in the past, in my opinion the North Koreans have had one and only one objective for these meetings: Use diplomacy to force the Trump administration to lift the sanctions, while continuing nuclear weapons and missile development.

Saturday's KCNA statement is exactly in line with that objective. The North Koreans made the "reasonable" demand that the Korea war be officially ended (as opposed to the current status, officially still at war after an armistice was signed in 1953):

"The U.S. side never mentioned the issue of establishing a peace regime on the Korean peninsula which is essential for defusing tension and preventing a war. It took the position that it would even backtrack on the issue it had agreed on to end the status of war under certain conditions and excuses.

As for the issue of announcing the declaration of the end of war at an early date, it is the first process of defusing tension and establishing a lasting peace regime on the Korean peninsula, and at the same time, it constitutes a first factor in creating trust between the DPRK and the U.S. This issue was also stipulated in Panmunjom Declaration as a historical task to terminate the war status on the Korean peninsula which continues for nearly 70 years. President Trump, too, was more enthusiastic about this issue at the DPRK-U.S. summit talks. ...

The U.S. side, during the talks, made a great publicity about suspension of one or two joint military exercises. But suspension of one action called exercises is a highly reversible step which can be resumed anytime at any moment as all of its military force remains intact in its previously-held positions without scraping even a rifle. This is incomparable with the irreversible step taken by the DPRK to explode and dismantle the nuclear test ground."

This is all a demand that the US withdraw all its forces from South Korea before any denuclearization can take place. Related to this are other demands, including removal of the THAAD defensive anti-missile system from South Korea, and removal of American forces from Okinawa. At one time in the past, a North Korean official was quoted as saying that North Korea will give up its nuclear weapons after the US gives up its nuclear weapons.

It's true, as the North Koreans claim, that the suspension of the joint military exercises is reversible, but the claim about the exploding and dismantling the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in Mount Mantap is also reversible, and may be completely fraudulent. The North Koreans did not permit nuclear experts to witness the explosions, and so the explosions may only have been a big show to gain negotiating leverage. Furthermore, as we discussed at the time, other parts of Mount Mantap can be used as nuclear test sites, and there may be dozens of other locations in North Korea. This is probably one of the reasons why Pompeo's request for a list of test sites was denied on Saturday.

The purpose of the KCNA statement was to make a "reasonable" request, in order to get the Trump administration to lift the sanctions, with no significant concessions by the North. At the end of the day on Saturday, the sanctions were still in full force.

The future of the denuclearization negotiations

There's no doubt that the denuclearization "negotiations" have now taken a sharp turn.

Recall that Trump canceled the summit negotiations six weeks ago. ( "25-May-18 World View -- North Korea suffers diplomatic defeat as Trump cancels summit")

One of the things that triggered Trump's cancelation was continued criticism of and contempt for Trump in the North Korean media. Since the cancelation, the NK media have been consistently "nice" to Trump and the US.

So Saturday's criticism is extremely significant because it's the first hostile comment in the NK media since the cancellation. In a sense it represents NK's first real counter-response to Trump's cancellation.

One thing that's notable about the KCNA statement on Saturday is that it came a few hours after Pompeo had said the meetings had gone well, so there was no need to make this statement right away. I've said in the past that if Kim tried to really denuclearize, then he'd be shot and killed by his own generals. The denuclearization negotiations must have, at the very least, caused bitter disagreements in NK's leadership, much like what's happening in London with Brexit or in Berlin over the migration issue.

So the statement, when it wasn't even necessary, is a sign that the faction opposing the negotiations has just gained the upper hand. This is probably the real significance of the statement, and it means an end to current track of negotiations.

The South Korean's must have seen this coming, because they've been urging the US to soften its demands on NK. Going along with the South Koreans would have meant making concessions without any denuclearization steps by NK, so it had to be rejected, but now we're facing the inevitable outcome.

There's one more thing that has to be remembered: From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is a generational Crisis era, where nationalism and xenophobia are at historical high points. So it wouldn't take much to reach a tipping point for the North Koreans to abandon the negotiations.

(People always point to the East-West Germany reunification talks in 1991 as examples that could be followed for Korean reunification. But that example is completely irrelevant, since those talks occurred during a generational Unraveling era, where nationalism and xenophobia are at historical lowest points.)

The other thing that's going on, as I pointed out in my article two days ago is that the Chinese are furious about the tariffs that president Trump has been imposing. The Chinese are liars and cheaters and criminals, but like the Nazis, they consider themselves to be the Master Race who have the right to lie and cheat and extort to get whatever they want, because they have such total contempt for the West. The statement that NK issued Saturday may have been encouraged by the Chinese, because of their fury over the tariffs.

I also pointed out that there's an analogy with the sanctions imposed on Japan on July 24, 1941, which infuriated the Japanese and motivated the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7. I can't prove this, of course, but with nationalism and xenophobia at their historic peaks, I have the feeling that a similar dynamic is going on with China and North Korea towards America and the West.

What choices are now available to the Trump administration? Here are some possibilities:

Any of these choices have unpredictable results, because the North Koreans have absolutely no intention of agreeing to denuclearization, and that will have to become clear at some point. Furthermore, with xenophobia and nationalism at historic highs in both China and North Korea, any action might produce a hostile reaction.

It's well to remember that we've only had these negotiations because of a remarkable coincidence: Just as things were heating up to a boil in January, it was time for, of all things, the Olympics games in Seoul. This permitted the North to continue nuclear and ballistic missile development, while putting on a charm offensive that lasted several months. The charm offensive is now completely derailed.

For those who would like a thin reed of hope to grasp onto, let me offer one. In my article "12-Feb-18 World View -- What was Kim Yo-jong thinking as she returned to North Korea from the Olympics?", I speculated that Kim Jong-un's sister, Kim Yo-jong, might have been so overtaken with the vibrancy and high standard of living of South Korean society, compared to the deadliness and near starvation as a constant in the North, she might have taken it upon herself to convince her brother to give up his nuclear program, for the good of the North Korean people. In that article, I described how Soviet leader Boris Yeltsin had decided to give up Communism after visiting the United States in September, 1989.

I wrote that article in February, and since that time dozens of top North Korean leaders have visited the South, and have seen for themselves how the NK people have suffered enormously under Communism. Trump himself has frequently pointed out to the North Koreans that they could have a great future if they give up their nuclear program.

So the thin reed of hope that I'm offering is that Kim Jong-un and his generals take the same lesson that Yeltsin took, and decide that, for the good of the North Korean people, it would be best to give up not only the nuclear program, but Communism. Something like that would be truly historic, but don't hold your breath waiting for it. Reuters and The Hill and Fox News

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Jul-18 World View -- North Korea issues vitriolic anti-US rant, collapsing denuclearization talks thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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7-Jul-18 World View -- Russia's actions in Sea of Azov raise fears of another invasion of Ukraine

Ukraine's Donbas war continues, as US supplies Javelin anti-tank missiles

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia's actions in Sea of Azov raise fears of another invasion of Ukraine


Ukraine.  In 2014, Russia invaded and occupied Donbas, and invaded and annexed Crimea.  In 2018, Russia completed a bridge over the Kerch Strait, controlling access to the Sea of Azov.
Ukraine. In 2014, Russia invaded and occupied Donbas, and invaded and annexed Crimea. In 2018, Russia completed a bridge over the Kerch Strait, controlling access to the Sea of Azov.

The Russian navy in recent weeks has boosted its presence in the Sea of Azov to approximately 40 ships, giving it the ability to control that body of water and to strike virtually at will along Ukraine's coastline there. This is the latest in a series of Russian threats and acts of harassment direct at crippling Ukraine's economy, and possibly preparing for new military actions.

Ever since 2014, when Russia invaded and occupied eastern Ukraine (Donbas), and then invaded and annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula, there have been continuing fears that Russia would launch a new invasion and annex another portion of Ukraine.

It's been thought that the most likely target of a new Russian invasion would be the port cities of Mariupol, Berdyansk, and the entire strip of land along the Sea of Azov connecting Russia to Crimea, creating a land bridge from Russia to Crimea, and taking total control of the Sea of Azov.

No such invasion has occurred, but starting in May 2015, Russia began constructing an 11.8 mile bridge across the Kerch Strait, from Russia to Crimea, to allow transport of goods and people between Russia and Crimea, and also to control access to the Sea of Azov. The construction of the bridge immediately had a severe effect on Ukraine's economy. Russia several times closed the Kerch Strait to maritime traffic, trapping commercial vessels docked in Mariupol and Berdyansk seaports. During 2017, freight traffic was reduced 43% and transshipments shrank by 30%, totally $54 million in 2017.

The Kerch Strait bridge officially opened on May 16, a year earlier than initially announced. Many vessels that used to deliver goods to Azov seaports can no longer do so at all because the Russians have deliberately made the passageways under the bridge too small for many vessels. The Russians have all but blocked the Ukrainian seaports on the Sea of Azov, stopping international vessels from shipping goods to and from Ukrainian cities. Russia's security forces stop and search dozens of vessels, and delay them for days. In the four days last week from July 2-5, Russia's security forces detained seven cases. Jamestown and Hromadske (Ukraine) and Eurasia Review and Maritime Bulletin and Jamestown

Ukraine's Donbas war continues, as US supplies Javelin anti-tank missiles


In Kiev, a metal silhouette of a girl with a balloon, dotted with bullet holes, a reminder of the war in Donbas. (Getty)
In Kiev, a metal silhouette of a girl with a balloon, dotted with bullet holes, a reminder of the war in Donbas. (Getty)

The war in Ukraine began in 2014 when Russian troops invaded eastern Ukraine, a region known as the Donbas. The war is entering its fifth year, and with no end in sight. More than 10,000 people have been killed, including 2,800 civilians. Nearly two million people have been internally displaced or put at risk if they remain in their homes.

Because of a fear of a further major Russian military invasion, the Donald Trump administration last year approved the sale of Javelin anti-tank missile systems. A $47 million U.S. military-aid package approved last year specified 210 Javelin antitank missiles and 37 Javelin launchers, two of them spares. Ukraine announced on April 30 that they had been delivered.

The missiles are to be used only for defensive purposes. According to a US statement at the time of the sale last year:

"This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of Ukraine.

The Javelin system will help Ukraine build its long-term defense capacity to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity in order to meet its national defense requirements. Ukraine will have no difficulty absorbing this system into its armed forces.

The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region."

The U.S.-made FGM-148 Javelin is a fire-and-forget anti-tank missile that uses infrared guidance to hit armored targets. The guidance system is contrasted to wire-guided anti-tank missiles, which require a shooter to actively guide the weapon until it hits its target. A Javelin shooter can immediately seek cover after firing its shot.

Russia's foreign ministry reacted to the sale by accusing the United States with "fomenting a war." Such statements from Russia are always laughable, since Russia has absolutely no credibility. Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea, lying about it every step of the way, and continually supplied weapons to the forces in the Donbas. In particular, it was a Russian-made Buk missile that shot down the Malaysian Airlines passenger plane in July 2014, killing hundreds of passengers. Washington Post and RFE/RL and Newsweek and Defense News

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Jul-18 World View -- Russia's actions in Sea of Azov raise fears of another invasion of Ukraine thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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6-Jul-18 World View -- Sec of State Pompeo visits North Korea amid reports that sanctions will be softened

Commentary: The US imposes tariffs on Chinese imports

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Sec of State Pompeo visits North Korea amid reports that sanctions will be softened


Kim Jong-un makes a big show of taking notes at a factory in this North Korean media photo
Kim Jong-un makes a big show of taking notes at a factory in this North Korean media photo

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo headed to North Korea for another meeting with Kim Jong-un on Thursday, amid reports that sanctions will be softened, either by the US or by China.

According to a Japanese report on a meeting last week in Beijing between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and China's president Xi Jinping, Kim asked Xi to help end sanctions targeting North Korea. The report quotes Kim as telling Xi:

"We are feeling great pain due to economic sanctions. Now that we have concluded the US-North Korea summit in success, I want (China) to work toward early lifting of the sanctions."

According to the report, Xi said that he would do his "utmost" to satisfy the request.

However, since the June 12 summit meeting between Kim and president Donald Trump, there has been no evidence that North Korea intends to keep its promise to denuclearize.

At the same time, there were reports last week, based on satellite imagery, that North Korea has been rapidly building new infrastructure at its Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center, where plutonium for nuclear weapons is produced.

Since China has always been North Korea's main trading partner, China has had to take responsibility for implementing many of the sanctions. However, there have been reports in recent weeks that China has already partially weakened its own enforcement of the sanctions.

Some analysts are claiming that Trump has already given up a lot by agreeing to cancel the joint military drills with South Korea, without getting anything in the return from the North.

The State Dept. on Thursday denied that it has softened its approach to North Korea denuclearization. According to State Department spokesman Heather Nauert:

Nothing could be further from the truth. Our policy toward North Korea has not changed.

We are committed to a denuclearized North Korea and Secretary Pompeo looks forward to continuing his consultations with North Korean leaders to follow up on the commitments made at the Singapore summit."

Many people, including myself, are skeptical that Kim Jong-un has any intention at all of denuclearizing. The purpose of Pompeo's current trip is to get some specific commitments. According to Pompeo, "On this trip I’m seeking to fill in some details on those commitments and continue the momentum toward implementation of what the two leaders promised each other and the world." AFP (1-July) and Reuters and 38 North (26-June) and Joongang Daily (Seoul)

Pompeo's visit will test Trump's negotiating strategy

The reality of the situation is that the negotiations could break down very quickly, and we could very quickly be as close to war as we were in January, before Kim Jong-un's charm offensive at the Seoul Olympics.

As I've said in the past, in my opinion the North Koreans have had one and only one objective: Use diplomacy to force the Trump administration to lift the sanctions, while continuing nuclear weapons and missile development.

North Korea is said to be asking for "staged denuclearization." This means that North Korea and the US alternate in making concessions on a step by step basis, with the US removing each sanction in return for North Korea taking a denuclearization step.

If this is Kim's strategy, it doesn't seem that he's following it. The satellite imagery that shows infrastructure development at the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Facility cannot be a surprise to Kim. The North would have been aware that the infrastructure changes would be detected by satellite imagery, and it's therefore reasonably to conclude that Kim wanted this development to be made public, perhaps as a warning to the US that unless concessions are made rapidly, the North will continue developing nuclear weapons.

According to reports, Pompeo is going to press Kim to provide a complete list of all nuclear and ballistic missile production sites, and a timetable for shutting them down. If, as expected, Kim refuses to produce such a list, then there might be a major confrontation, or they may kick the can down the road to a later meeting.

Trump said on Thursday,

"I really believe that he sees a different future for North Korea. I hope that’s true. If that’s not true, we’ll go back to the other way."

In other words, the North Korean situation could blow up into a full "crisis" again for the first time in months. The real disaster would be if Trump gives in and reduces sanctions, getting nothing in return. Korea Times and Channel News Asia

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Commentary: The US imposes tariffs on Chinese imports

The US has gone ahead with tariffs on Chinese imports, as of 12:01 am on Friday.

China's statements in response to these tariffs have been getting increasingly angry in tone. The Chinese appear to be infuriated and humiliated by the tariffs, much more strongly that Europe, Canada or Mexico.

If you're looking for a historical analogy, one place where you might start is the sanctions that the US imposed on Japan on July 24, 1941. The sanctions were in retaliation for Japanese occupation of French Indo-China (Vietnam). Four and one-half months later, on December 7, 1941, Japan's bombers attacked Pearl Harbor. History.com

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Jul-18 World View -- Sec of State Pompeo visits North Korea amid reports that sanctions will be softened thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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5-Jul-18 World View -- Al-Assad's attacks on Daraa threaten clashes with Israel and Jordan on Syria's border

Jordan and Israel concerned about infiltration from Iran and Hezbollah

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Syria and Russia resume full-scale assault on Daraa


Displaced Syrians camp near border with Israel-controlled  Golan Heights (AFP)
Displaced Syrians camp near border with Israel-controlled Golan Heights (AFP)

After a brief lull in the attacks to provide an opening for negotiations, Syria and Russia have resume full-scale attacks on rebel-held areas in Daraa province. As in the attacks on Aleppo and Ghouta, women and children are particularly targeted. Syria's president Bashar al-Assad uses the technique of attacking peaceful protesters and then, when there's some sort of violent revenge attack, uses that as an excuse to call the entire population "terrorists," and then perform genocide and ethnic cleansing.

Daraa has played a special part in Syria's war, and is considered the place where it started. In spring of 2011, two 15-year-old boys posted graffiti in Daraa saying, "Freedom. Down with the regime. Your turn, Doctor," suggesting that al-Assad would suffer the same fate as as leaders in Egypt and Tunisia during the "Arab spring." The word "Doctor" refers to the fact that al-Assad, had been a ophthalmology student when he attended college in London, at a time when his father Hafez al-Assad had been conducting genocide in Syria. This graffiti infuriated al-Assad, who is a psychopathic killer. He ordered the two boys to be tortured and imprisoned, and he launched a furious attack on the people of Daraa. Now he wants to finish up the genocide and ethnic cleansing of Daraa. There's no hope of a negotiated peace in Daraa because al-Assad has every intention of completing the genocide and ethnic cleansing.

That's presumably the reason that al-Assad and the Russians aren't giving the people of Daraa the same choices they gave to the people of Aleppo and Ghouta. In the latter two cases, the rebels were allowed to leave with their weapons and their families and travel to Idlib province. But in the case of Daraa, al-Assad and Russia are demanding that the rebels immediately give up their weapons, and are prohibiting the families from going anywhere. We can expect to see a bloody genocidal attack of monumental proportions.

EU foreign affairs spokesman Maja Kocijancic said on Saturday that the attacks by al-Assad and the Russias are violation of international law:

"Such attacks are clear violations of international law and international humanitarian law that also put at risk any progress in Geneva for the resumption of the political talks under UN mediation."

I assume that Kocijancic must be a comedian in her spare time, because this statement will only bring laughter from al-Assad and the Russians. Over the years, I've documented several attempts at peace talks, and each time, al-Assad has made complete fools of the peace mediators, by making promises and then immediately ignoring them. Al-Assad uses peace talks as a cover for further genocide and ethnic cleansing. Al-Assad is the worst genocidal monster and war criminal so far this century. (I always receive comments from people who say that al-Assad is a nice guy because he supposedly protects Christians. That's like saying Hitler was a nice guy because he protected Christians -- except that he didn't. Al-Assad may protect Christians now because he considers them to be useful idiots, but he wouldn't hesitate to kill all of them if he had no further use for them.)

About 300,000 people in Daraa and in the adjacent Quneitra province have been fleeing their homes and heading to the borders with Jordan and Israel. Both Jordan and Israel have closed their borders to the refugees, but are providing humanitarian aid. More people are moving to the Israeli border because they believe that al-Assad and Russians will not risk a war with Israel by attacking them there. AFP and Arab News and Middle East Online and World Bulletin (Turkey)

Jordan fears repercussions from Syria's military offensive in Daraa

There's a great deal of international pressure on Jordan to allow the Syrian refugees fleeing the violence in Daraa to cross the border into Syria. A spokesman for Human Rights Watch said:

"The abject refusal by Jordanian authorities to allow asylum seekers to seek protection not only goes against their international legal obligations, but against basic human decency. Jordanians themselves are appealing to their government’s basic decency and calling for those in need to be let in."

The European Union is making a similar plea.

However, Jordan estimates that it is already hosting some 1.3 million refugees, and earlier this week said that it is unable to host a new wave of refugees, and so the border will remain closed, although Jordan is providing humanitarian aid.

However, Jordan has several major concerns about the military action in Daraa.

First, closing its border to refugees fleeing violence is a great embarrassment for Jordan, which maintains good relations with all Western powers and human rights organizations.

However, Jordan believes that the world has given up on refugees, and are no longer willing to provide funding for the support of refugees in refugee camps. There is particular concern that earlier this year the Trump administration cut funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, but there are 193 countries in the United Nations, and those other countries aren't stepping up to fund Palestinian refugees either. The cut in funding is particular hard on Jordan, which hosts more than two million Palestinian refugees, and Jordan's economy is already in serious trouble.

Another concern for Jordan is the lack of security along the border. Jordan has suffered previous terrorist attacks in 2005 and 2016 when jihadists entered Jordan along with waves of refugees.

Jordan is also concerned about a demographic change in Daraa. In particular, Jordan is concerned that al-Assad's ethnic cleansing and genocide will empty the region of its Sunni population, to be replaced by people from Iran and Hezbollah. Jordan Times and Human Rights Watch and Middle East Eye and Jordan Times

Israel concerned about infiltration from Iran and Hezbollah

Like Jordan, Israel is keeping its border closed to the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing violence from al-Assad and Russia. Syrians are coming to the area because they hope e that the proximity to Israel will protect them and that al-Assad's troops and warplanes will not bomb them there.

Israel has technically been at war with Syria since 1948, and there is a UN peacekeeping force on the border between Syria and Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. Israel has been working with the peacekeeping force to set up "safe zones" within Syria that will be safe from al-Assad's ground forces and Syria's and Russia's warplanes.

On Friday, the Israeli army announced that it had taken 300 tents and several tons of food, medicine and clothing to the other side overnight, as humanitarian aid for the Syrian refugees. However, Israel will not allow Syrian refugees to cross the border because of the fear that Iranians and Hezbollah will infiltrate.

Debka, an analyst service based on Israeli military and intelligence sources, but which sometimes gets things wrong, is reporting that the US and Israel have begun launching military actions along the border, to counter infiltration by Iran and Hezbollah.

It had been hoped that Iran and Hezbollah would not take part in the Daraa and Quneitra attacks, but Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday, "Iran is one of the key powers in the region and it would be absolutely unrealistic to expect it to abandon its interests." Times of Israel and Deutsche Welle and Debka

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Jul-18 World View -- Al-Assad's attacks on Daraa threaten clashes with Israel and Jordan on Syria's border thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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4-Jul-18 World View -- German leaders agree to migrant refugee camps on border with Austria

Egypt refuses to build refugee camps for migrants deported from Europe

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

German leaders agree to migrant refugee camps on border with Austria


 A migrant holds a sarcastic protest sign after failing to enter the EU (Reuters)
A migrant holds a sarcastic protest sign after failing to enter the EU (Reuters)

The government of Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared to be near collapse on Monday, because of a challenge by the leader of another party in her governing coalition. Horst Seehofer, leader of the Bavarian CSU party, was demanding that Merkel agree to tough new rules regarding migrants -- that migrants crossing the border from Austria into Germany who are registered in another EU country will automatically be rejected and sent back.

Since Seehofer is also Minister of the Interior, he has the power to enforce that rule by himself, without Merkel's permission. But if he had done so, then Merkel would have been forced to fire him, resulting in the withdrawal of the CSU from the governing coalition, and the collapse of Merkel's government.

This situation has resulted in a great deal of anger and shouting in Berlin, according to reports. At one point Seehofer threatened to resign, saying angrily, "I won’t let myself be sacked by a chancellor whom I made chancellor in the first place," referring to the fact that the CSU joined Merkel's governing coalition last year.

However, let's face it, Merkel and Seehofer are both politicians who crave power, and the collapse of Merkel's government would put both of them out of power. So a way had to be found that would save face for both of them, and allow them both to remain in power.

The solution was a fudge, kicking the can down the road in a remarkable manner: Germany will set up migrant refugee camps on the border, and border controls will be set up to stop registered asylum seekers at the border. If there's a bilateral deal with the country of registration, the refugees will be sent back.

But here's the really amazing part: The refugee camps will be deemed to be part of the border and not part of either country, which means that the refugees will not be legally deemed to have crossed the border into Germany. Germany would be allowed to expel them from Germany because they never legally were in Germany.

This deal doesn't solve anything, but supposedly it kicks the can down the road to the Bavarian elections in October, at which time the government may collapse anyway. The deal may not even be legal -- officials in the European Commission have said that they'll be reviewing it.

But we've had so many proposals for refugee camps for migrants in the last few months, and I don't believe any of them have succeeded, so there's no reason to believe that refugee camps on the border between Germany and Austria will succeed either. Austria has already said that it will refuse to take back refugees under any circumstances, and so these new border refugee camps will presumably just become flooded with refugees, until the government is forced to let them all go. Whether Merkel and Seehofer have a solution to that problem remains to be seen.

This proposal could make things worse for the entire European Union in that it may cause a chain reaction of border closings by different countries, essentially bringing the Schengen Zone agreement to an end. Austria, Italy and the Czech Republic have already threatened to introduce controls on their borders in response to the new German plan. Handelsblatt (Germany) and Reuters and Irish Times and Sky News

Egypt refuses to build refugee camps for migrants deported from Europe

It was just a few days ago that a summit of EU leaders came up with a plan for "Regional Disembarkation Platforms." These would be, once again, migrant refugee camps. But this time, they would be located in countries in northern Africa, away from the EU. ( "30-Jun-18 World View -- EU leaders agree on fantasy migration plan after all-night meeting")

The idea is that migrants would be rescued from drowning in the Mediterranean Sea, but instead of being taken to Italy or another EU country, they would be taken to a Disembarkation Platforms in northern Africa. Their asylum requests would be processed, and if rejected they would be sent back to the countries of origin.

Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia immediately announced that they would not permit Disembarkation Platforms to be hosted on their soil, and on Tuesday, Egypt announced that it would not permit them in Egypt. Egyptian Parliament Speaker Ali Abdul Aal said:

"EU reception facilities for migrants in Egypt would violate the laws and constitutions of our country. Our capacities are already utilized today; therefore, it is important that Egypt receives support from Germany and the EU."

The same EU Summit meeting also agreed to set up "Controlled Centers" in EU countries, "on a voluntary basis." Once again, this would just be another name for a migrant refugee camps. France and Austria immediately announced that they would not be willing to host Controlled Centers on their soil.

There have been many proposals in recent weeks, in Europe and the United States, and these proposals all have some kind of refugee camp or refugee prison or refugee detention center as a core proposal. These proposals always result in enormous national and international outrage, as well as political chaos. It remains to be seen if any of them will work. Middle East Monitor and Reuters

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Jul-18 World View -- German leaders agree to migrant refugee camps on border with Austria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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3-Jul-18 World View -- Mexico elects far left president amid skyrocketing murders, crime and corruption

Generational explanation for the violence in Mexico

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Mexico elects far left president amid skyrocketing murders, crime and corruption


Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) In Mexico City on Sunday night (AFP)
Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) In Mexico City on Sunday night (AFP)

Far left politician Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), 64 years old, won a landslide victory in Mexico's presidential election on Sunday, with about 53% of the vote -- more than double the total of his nearest rival.

AMLO's victory is being seen as the latest of large populist victories, comparable to the Brexit referendum, Donald Trump's victory, and the right-wing victory in Italy. As the world goes deeper into a generational Crisis era, and the survivors of World War II continue to disappear, the old orders and institutions are disappearing with them, and younger generations are creating a new world order that ignores the lessons of World War II.

AMLO told his supporters:

"I'm very aware of my historical responsibility. I don't want to go into history as a bad president. Now we are going to transform Mexico."

Well that claim would have to be placed in the category of "major fantasy." Mexico is infested with murders, crime and corruption, and no transformation is possible in the near future.

More than 110 politicians have been murdered since September. Last year, a record 25,000 people were murdered, and 13,000 have been killed so far this year. The 112th political candidate to be killed was Fernando Puron, a congressional candidate in the border city of Piedras Negras, who was taking a selfie with a supporter when a gunman shot him in the head from behind.

Corruption is endemic. Outgoing President Enrique Peña Nieto’s government and party were mired in a seemingly bottomless series of scandals. AMLO promises to end corruption quickly.

The wave of murders, kidnappings and gang-related violence began during the administration of former president Felipe Calderón (2006-2012), who launched the government’s war against drug cartels in 2006. Instead of defeating the drug cartels, however, organized crime, predominantly drug trafficking, exploded into broader criminal activities including theft, extortion, murder and state-level corruption. Despite billions spent and massive cash injections from the U.S., Mexico has become only more dangerous.

AMLO wants massive spending on multi-billion dollar national infrastructure projects, but has not specified where the money will come from in Mexico's already weak economy. When asked he says that he can pay simply by reducing corruption and waste. That's what every politician says, but there's no chance that he will succeed.

Questions are being asked about how well AMLO and Donald Trump will get along, but they spoke on the phone on Monday, and both say they're in agreement on many things. AMLO had campaigned on Mexico leaving NAFTA, but Mexico really needs NAFTA, and so that campaign promise will be renegotiated with Trump. NBC News and AFP and Washington Examiner

Generational explanation for the violence in Mexico

Mexico's last generational crisis war was the Mexican Revolution of 1910-21. Mexico and Turkey are the only two major countries that have gone more than 90 years without a generational crisis war.

The time since the last generational crisis war has a profound effect on the society of a country. After the London subway bombings of 2005, we were able to show from published data that most Mideast suicide bombers overwhelming came from Morocco and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia's last crisis war was the Ibn Saud conquest, ending in 1925, and Morocco's was the Rif War, ending in 1927. There appears to be a correlation between the time since the last crisis war and likelihood of suicide bombings and other suicide terrorist acts.

This phenomenon is explained theoretically in yesterday's article "2-Jul-18 World View -- Generational explanation of today's vitriolic divisiveness in America".

As described in the article, a generational crisis war, whether it's World War II or the Mexican Revolution or other, causes a core body of "lessons learned," a set of beliefs that are deeply held by all the survivors of the war. After the war, survivors in different political parties may differ on many policies, but there are deeply held core beliefs that allow them to cooperate on major policies. For example, in America in the 1980s, the Republicans and the Democrats cooperated with each other to change the Social Security system to make it a sounder system. After that, they cooperated again to specify new rules to control the budget deficit. That kind of cooperation became impossible in the 2000s.

Once the survivors of the crisis war die off, then the younger generations take power, but have no common deeply held core beliefs. Previously held core beliefs shatter into fragments. Each group in the population selects from those fragments, and uses them to develop its own set of core beliefs, and makes commitments to those beliefs. When those core beliefs conflict with reality and cause cognitive dissonance -- with a disconfirmation event as described yesterday in Festinger's theory -- each group doubles down on its unrealistic beliefs, and in many cases this means becoming violent.

This theory is still under development, but it does provide a solid theoretical explanation of the increasing violence in Mexico, and why it will continue to grow until the next crisis war, probably a re-fighting of the Mexican Revolution. A generational crisis war unifies a country into a common set of core beliefs. As the decades pass after the crisis war, this body of core beliefs shatters into fragments adopted by different groups, resulting in conflicts that can include violence. The next crisis war unifies the country again.

More on the generational explanation of vitriolic divisiveness in America

In yesterday's article, I described a "regeneracy event" as one that regenerates civic unity in the population for the first time since the end of the previous crisis war. In the American Civil War, it was the Battle of Bull Run. In World War II, it was Pearl Harbor and then the Bataan Death March. When these events occur, people with different political beliefs unite behind the leader to fight to preserve the country and its way of life.

During the days of the Barack Obama administration, I would write that if a regeneracy event occurred, then all the people would drop their political leanings, and become united behind Obama. This was greeted with horror by some commenters, where some people said that he and his friends would never unite behind Obama.

Now the shoe is on the other foot, and I'm hearing from commenters who say that they would never become united behind Trump.

Neither of these claims is realistic. If a nuclear missile landed on California, anyone who refused to defend the country would be branded as a traitor, and would be treated as such.

A regeneracy event is a disconfirmation event in the sense of Leon Festinger's theory of cognitive dissonance, as described yesterday. It forces everyone to reevaluate all their deeply held beliefs, and either reject them or double down on them. A few people will double down and become perceived as traitors, but even they will be convinced as the weeks pass. In time, almost everyone will support the president, whether it's Obama or Trump.

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Jul-18 World View -- Mexico elects far left president amid skyrocketing murders, crime and corruption thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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2-Jul-18 World View -- Generational explanation of today's vitriolic divisiveness in America

Leon Festinger and Cognitive Dissonance

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Generational explanation of today's vitriolic divisiveness in America


Celebrity Kathy Griffin and her bloody Donald Trump head
Celebrity Kathy Griffin and her bloody Donald Trump head

My father was a Greek immigrant who was a fairly objective observer of American society. When I was a kid, he once told me that in the 1930s there had been so much violence by Communists and the left that he hadn't thought that America would survive. Unfortunately, I didn't ask him what he meant by that, although the comment obviously made an impression on me since I remember it to this day.

The 1930s was America's last generational Crisis era, previous to the current one. In the one before that, the 1860s, America was "engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure."

So today's vitriolic divisiveness is not unique to today, nor is it unique to America. We're seeing it today in Europe, where the European Union is being torn apart by issues such as Brexit and immigration. It's fairly common in any country during a generational Crisis era.

This week's mass shooting by Jarrod W. Ramos at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, has focused the public on the vitriolic divisiveness. Ramos's motive apparently has nothing to do with politics, although some in the mainstream media are blaming it on various comments by president Donald Trump that could have incited violence, especially his tweets about fake news, or his "punch him in the face" remark during the 2016 campaign.

However, if Ramos was motivated by political incitement at all, it's much more likely to have been the much more recent incitement by Maxine Waters, specifically inciting her supporters to target Trump officials and physically "push back on them!"

There's a "dog whistle" aspect to incitements to violence. If, like Trump or Waters, you say something to incite violence by supporters against opponents, then most people would consider your statement to be a meaningless rant. But just as a dog whistle can only be heard by a dog, your statement could serve as a "dog whistle" that would only be heard by people who are moved to commit actual violence. And the problem with inciting violence is that you can't control the result, since you don't know how many dogs on either side are going to hear that dog whistle and act on it with actual violence. In other words, if Ramos was moved to act by political incitement, it might have been the incitement by Trump during the campaign, or by Maxine Waters during the last few days, or by numerous other people on the left who are calling for various forms of confrontations and violence against Trump supporters.

The mainstream media are pointing to various statements by Trump that could have incited violence in the sense of a "dog whistle":

On the other hand, I've seen far more serious incitements to violence from the left, and I've written about them many times in the last ten years, including the following:

I've been following this trend line since the George Bush administration, and there has been a steady increase in left-wing violence and incitement to violence for about 15 years, during the Bush and Obama administrations, and long before Trump ran for president.

The vitriolic divisiveness occurs on both the left and the right. But violence and incitement to violence are almost entirely on the left-wing side. USA Today and Washington Post and Hollywood Reporter (30-May-2017)

Leon Festinger and Cognitive Dissonance

I've been searching for years for an explanation for the growing vitriolic divisiveness in America today, as well as in other countries, and it suddenly occurred to me that the key to understanding it is a book that I read decades ago.

The 1956 book When Prophecy Fails by Leon Festinger can be purchased from online booksellers, or is available from https://archive.org/details/pdfy-eDNpDzTy_dR1b0iB as a free PDF. I read this book decades ago, and it made an enormous impression on me. I strongly urge everyone to read it.

First I'll describe the book's methodology and conclusions, and then I'll explain how it applies to America today.

Festinger was interested in religious cults that predict the end of the world on an explicit date, commit themselves fully to it by giving up their families and belongings, and then have to face the world again when the world doesn't end.

This is called "cognitive dissonance," when deeply held beliefs are contradicted by incontrovertible facts.

Festinger found that people in such a situation do not simply give up their beliefs because their beliefs were proved wrong. Instead, they double down on the beliefs, and look for any way to justify them. In the case of end world predictions, the most likely way is to believe that God provided the world with a reprieve provided that the chosen people begin to proselytize the new belief system. From this brief description, you can get an idea of how this applies to the vitriolic divisiveness in America today.

Festinger was aware of a religious sect that was predicting the end of the world on a specific date. Two members of Festinger's team infiltrated the religious sect. The predictions were based on messages from extraterrestrials known as the "Guardians" that one cult member, Mrs. Marian Keech, started receiving. The members of the sect would be rescued by flying saucers and then, four days later, there would be a huge flood drowning everyone left behind. The members of the sect were highly committed to this belief: Many had given up their families and all worldly belongings to join the other sect members in a vigil in a member's home, waiting for the end.

The first disconfirmation came when the flying saucers didn't show up at the predicted time. There were four wrenching days of waiting, as the saucers failed to come at each newly predicted hour, as specified by Mrs. Keech as she continued to receive "messages." The final and biggest disconfirmation came after the four days were up, and the world did not end.

Although the group were a private sect, what they were doing had become known, and they received ridicule through the newspapers, and they received visits by people who believed them and people who ridiculed them. During the four-day wait, a couple of people, the people who had joined most recently, left the group, but everyone else stayed. Here's what happened:

Chaotic though they may seem, the days immediately preceding December 21 [the day that the floods were supposed to appear] were at least loosely organized around a dominant theme -- cataclysm and salvation. By dawn on the 21st, however, this semblance of organization had vanished as the members of the group sought frantically to convince the world of their beliefs. In succeeding days, they also made a series of desperate attempts to erase their rankling dissonance by making prediction after prediction in the hope that one would come true, and they conducted a vain search for guidance from the Guardians."

Another change of behavior was equally familiar in today's politically divided world: Led by Mrs. Keech, the cult members began actively proselytizing. They had previously kept information about the cataclysm secret, "in order to prevent panic." But now they sought out even the most skeptical nonbelievers, in order to convert them. For example, one sarcastic commentator whom Mrs. Keech had repeatedly refused to speak with suddenly was welcomed with open arms. In fact, Mrs. Keech couldn't stop talking, as he recorded the interview, and she answered all his questions in detail.

Another reporter who hosted a program on women's issues asked her to comment, and she spoke at length on what's wrong with education, and how the messages from the Guardians explained how to straighten it out.

Hordes of reporters and visitors came to the house, resulting in an "amiable, manic uproar."

One further trend was noticeable on December 21. As the day wore on, Mrs. Keech began to make more and more of the importance of some recent news items. The morning newspapers contained an article about an earthquake in Nevada that had occurred about five days earlier, pointing out that if the quake had happened in a populated area, the destruction would have been enormous. Mrs. Keech showed the story excitedly to the members of the group, emphasizing the fact that, indeed, cataclysms were happening.... Here, she declared, was evidence for the validity of the prediction. This theme ... grew in importance in response to further disaster news."

The next day, the group put out a press release saying that the Guardians had postponed the cataclysm, "Due to the confusion which has arisen from the prophecy we have decided to unite forces to complete the prophecy." In other words, they were proselytizing in a press release.

Festinger found that when deeply held beliefs are contradicted by incontrovertible facts, the result is not to abandon the beliefs, but to double down on them, with any possible explanation, even bizarre fantastical explanations. This is the result of cognitive dissonance.

Festinger's book lists five conditions that lead to this "cognitive dissonance" response to disconfirmation:

"1. A belief must be held with deep conviction and it must have some relevance to action, that is, to what the believer does or how he behaves.

2. The person holding the belief must have committed himself to it; that is, for the sake of his belief, he must have taken some important action that is difficult to undo. In general, the more important such actions are, and the more difficult they are to undo, the greater is the individual's commitment to the belief.

3. The belief must be sufficiently specific and sufficiently concerned with the real world so that events may unequivocally refute the belief.

4. Such undeniable disconfirmatory evidence must occur and must be recognized by the individual holding the belief. ...

5. The individual believer must have social support. It is unlikely that one isolated believer could withstand the kind of dis-confirming evidence we have specified. If, however, the believer is a member of a group of convinced persons who can support one another, we would expect the belief to be maintained and the believers to attempt to proselyte or to persuade nonmembers that the belief is correct."

These are Festinger's five conditions for the disconfirmation of a belief in the end of the world by a religious cult. What has occurred to me is that we can make slight adjustments to these conditions so that they apply to political parties, and explain the divisiveness and left-wing violence in America today. Leon Festinger, When Prophecy Fails and Psychology Today (22-May-2011) and IMDB

The explanation: Commitment, disconfirmation and Cognitive Dissonance

As I've said in the past, the survivors of World War II, the GI Generation and the Silent Generation, did great things -- they created the United Nations, World Bank, Green Revolution, World Health Organization, International Monetary Fund, and so forth. They created these organizations and managed them for decades with one purpose in mind: That their children and grandchildren would never have to go through anything so horrible as the Great Depression or World War II.

Throughout their lives, they worked together, even when they were on opposite political sides, to protect America and the world from the excesses that led to the Great Depression and World War II.

In the 1980s, the Republicans and the Democrats cooperated with each other to change the Social Security system to make it a sounder system. After that, they cooperated again to specify new rules to control the budget deficit. And in 1996, Democratic President Bill Clinton, saying that "the era of big government is over," cooperated with the Republican congress to eliminate the welfare entitlement.

These politicians had deeply held beliefs that policies must apply the lessons learned from the Great Depression and World War II. Democrats and Republicans differed in some policies, but these differences were minor compared to the shared beliefs of the WW II survivors.

These deeply held beliefs meet Festinger's five conditions, prior to the point where the disconfirmation occurs.

As the generational Crisis era began in 2003, these WW II survivors were rapidly disappearing, replaced by younger generations of people with no shared deeply held beliefs. What deeply held beliefs did they have? This requires more study, but young people do seem to have rearranged themselves into groups, with each group having some deeply held belief. Each of these groups meets Festinger's condition, except for disconfirmation.

There is one major example of disconfirmation of a deeply held belief that we've seen in modern times. Prior to November 8, 2016, almost everyone in the country, Republican or Democrat, believed that Hillary Clinton would win the presidential election.

Democrats were particularly deeply committed to this belief, and supportive of one another in that belief. Many made financial commitments, personal commitments, commitments to live in Washington, and so forth.

The unexpected Trump victory caused a psychological crisis among a minority of Democrats that looked very similar to the crisis that Mrs. Keech and her cult suffered when the world didn't end. There was a doubling down on beliefs and widespread proselytizing in some of the most fantastical claims -- just as fantastical as claims that flying saucers would be coming to save the earth. This explains the demands for impeachment, the demands for a special prosecutor, the calls for violence against Trump and his supporters, and so forth.

What I'm saying is that the concepts and principles that Leon Festinger applied to small religious cults could also be applied to larger political groups and political parties during a generational Crisis era, when there's no unifying experience (like WW II). This is a rich area for research, with results that could explain a great deal that would help America's democracy at times like this. I've only scratched the surface.

Finally, let me remind readers of the "Regeneracy" concept from generational theory. A regeneracy event is one that creates civic unity for the first time since the end of the preceding crisis war. In 1861, the regeneracy event was the Battle of Bull Run. In 1941, it was Pearl Harbor and then the Bataan Death March. It's impossible to predict what the regeneracy event(s) will be this time -- perhaps a major military defeat overseas, or perhaps a North Korean nuclear missile landing in California. But whatever it is, it will unite people in all political parties behind the president, as they fight to preserve the country and its way of life.

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Jul-18 World View -- Generational explanation of today's vitriolic divisiveness in America thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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1-Jul-18 World View -- Syria and Russia create humanitarian catastrophe in Daraa

Number displaced by Syrian and Russian bombing in Daara triples to 160,000

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Syria and Russia create humanitarian catastrophe in Daraa


Displaced Syrians camp near Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Saturday (AFP)
Displaced Syrians camp near Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Saturday (AFP)

The assault that began on June 19 of the combination of the army of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad and bombs from Russian warplanes is threatening a massive humanitarian disaster greater than the combined sizes of the the humanitarian disasters at Aleppo and Ghouta.

Daraa is supposed to be part of a "de-escalation zone," based on peace talks last year in Astana, Kazakhstan, between Russia, Iran and Turkey. An outcome was that Russia and the US agreed that the US would oversee the ceasefire in Daraa.

Promises and agreements mean nothing to Russia and Syria, and they never intended to honor the ceasefire. The US does usually honor its promises, but in this case has chosen not to intervene, rather than get pulled into yet another war, this time a full-scale war with Syria and Russia.

Bashar al-Assad has already begun the process that he's used in the past in Aleppo and Ghouta. He begins by bombing peaceful protesters, particularly women and children. As soon as someone become violent in revenge, he declares the whole community or ethnic group to be "terrorists," and uses that as an excuse for full-scale genocide and ethnic cleansing. The genocide is performed with missiles, barrel bombs, chlorine gas and Sarin gas, all particularly targeting women and children, as well as schools, markets, and hospitals.

The ethnic cleansing is accomplished by making it impossible for refugees to return to their homes. Last month, Syria's government passed 'Law #10', which makes it almost impossible for refugees to return to their former homes. There are millions of Syrian refugees who have fled to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Europe and other countries who will not be able to return home, and are effectively stranded in the country they fled to.

The situation in southwestern Syria is perfect for al-Assad. By the time it's over, millions of people will flee their homes, but they'll have nowhere to go, as they'll be blocked by Jordanian and Israeli authorities from going south. The refugees will be amassed on the borders, where al-Assad can kill them like fish in a barrel.

Refugees from Aleppo and Ghouta were able to flee to Idlib province in northwestern Syria. Idlib is in another de-escalation zone, with Turkey having the responsibility to oversee the ceasefire.

Turkey is currently worried that it is facing the worst possible scenario in Idlib. There are currently 2.5 million people living in Idlib, and 1.2 million people from this figure were displaced and took refuge in Idlib. As one analyst put it, "Idlib has no Idlib," which means that when Bashar al-Assad begins genocide and ethnic cleansing in Idlib, then people who try to flee will have no place to go, except possibly north through the border into Turkey. Turkey already hosts millions of Syrian refugees, and is very concerned that it might be forced to open its borders again to millions more. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Guardian (London) and Hurriyet (Ankara)

Number displaced by Syrian and Russian bombing in Daara triples to 160,000

According to UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, the number of people displaced by Syria's army and Russia's warplanes in southern Syria is now at 160,000 -- more than triple what it was on Monday, when the figure was 45,000.

Most are headed south to Jordan, but are trapped at the border, since Jordan has closed the border. A smaller number have gone west and are on the border with Israel-controlled Golan Heights. That border has also been closed by Israel.

Jordan estimates that it is already hosting some 1.3 million refugees, and earlier this week said that it is unable to host a new wave of refugees, and so the border will remain closed. Several thousand Syrians gathered near sealed crossing on Saturday, pleading to no avail to enter Jordan.

However, Jordan's army began delivering humanitarian aid to thousands of displaced Syrians along the border. According to government spokesman Jumana Ghunaimat, "This is in line with Jordan's stance to help our Syrian brothers. These include essential foodstuffs and drinking water."

Israel has transferred several dozen tons of humanitarian aid to refugee encampments in southwestern Syria. According to Israel's army, the humanitarian aid contained some 300 tents, 13 tons of food, 15 tons of baby food, three pallets of medical supplies and 30 tons of clothes and shoes. Israel's defense minister Avigdor Liberman said that Israel was prepared to provide humanitarian assistance, but that “we will not accept any Syrian refugees into our territory.” Times of Israel and Middle East Eye and Anadolu

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Jul-18 World View -- Syria and Russia create humanitarian catastrophe in Daraa thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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30-Jun-18 World View -- EU leaders agree on fantasy migration plan after all-night meeting

Italy backs down from threat to veto the agreement over Dublin regulation

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

EU leaders agree on fantasy migration plan after all-night meeting


Angela Merkel speaks with other country leaders at EU Summit on Thursday and Friday (Getty)
Angela Merkel speaks with other country leaders at EU Summit on Thursday and Friday (Getty)

As we reported a week ago, the Europeans were desperately searching for a solution to the migration problem, and they were considering a form of detention center called "Disembarkation Platforms," to be located in northern Africa, where newly arrived migrants could be taken initially for processing of asylum requests.

The promise was that a detailed plan would be worked out during the the major EU Summit meeting held in Brussels the last two days. The leaders met all day Thursday and then long into the night, finally announcing an agreement at 4:30 am. However, the agreement had no more details than the original proposal, and appears to be a fudge.

(Note to lexicographers: I've been seeing the word "fudge" a lot more lately. Besides a chocolate goodie, a fudge is something that's ambiguous, deceitful or a compromise. It seems to have replaced the phrase that was commonly used during Greece's financial crisis: "kicking the can down the road." In either case, they refer to a non-agreement that let's everyone congratulate one another on having reached a deal, and then go home and get some sleep, while postponing the search for a real solution to a later date.)

The new agreement tells almost nothing about how the Disembarkation Platforms would work:

"5. In order to definitively break the business model of the smugglers, thus preventing tragic loss of life, it is necessary to eliminate the incentive to embark on perilous journeys. This requires a new approach based on shared or complementary actions among the Member States to the disembarkation of those who are saved in Search And Rescue operations. In that context, the European Council calls on the Council and the Commission to swiftly explore the concept of regional disembarkation platforms, in close cooperation with relevant third countries as well as UNHCR and IOM. Such platforms should operate distinguishing individual situations, in full respect of international law and without creating a pull factor."

That paragraph contains just over 100 words, and it manages to do so while saying absolutely nothing.

No country has volunteered to host a Disembarkation Platform. Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia have explicitly refused, and a spokesman for one of the three governments in Libya also refused, and said that he thought the other two governments would refuse as well. One concern that all of these countries have is that a Disembarkation Platform would encourage jihadist attacks.

Even if an African country considered hosting one of these Disembarkation Platforms, there would be international outrage from human rights activists.

The next paragraph of the agreement extends the detention center concept to "Controlled Centers" within the EU itself:

"6. On EU territory, those who are saved, according to international law, should be taken charge of, on the basis of a shared effort, through the transfer in controlled centers set up in Member States, only on a voluntary basis, where rapid and secure processing would allow, with full EU support, to distinguish between irregular migrants, who will be returned, and those in need of international protection, for whom the principle of solidarity would apply. All the measures in the context of these controlled centres, including relocation and resettlement, will be on a voluntary basis, without prejudice to the Dublin reform."

This paragraph says almost nothing. The one thing that it does say -- twice -- is "on a voluntary basis," which means that no country would have to allow a "Controlled Center" on its soil.

France and Austria, two countries that border Italy, immediately said that they would not be willing to host Controlled Centers on their soil.

France's president Emmanuel Macron said that his reading of the agreement indicated that Controlled Centers would only be set up in "frontline states," which means Italy and Greece, but certainly not France. Italy's prime minister Giuseppe Conte issued a rebuke, saying that "Macron was tired," and did not understand the agreement, since it said that all EU states could set up the centers, "including France."

One analyst I heard, who obviously liked this deal, painted a picture of dozens of these little Controlled Centers located all across the EU. These people are truly living in Fantasyland. European Council - agreement and Vice News and European Council - Disembarkation Centers

Italy backs down from threat to veto the agreement over Dublin regulation

Italy had threatened to veto the entire agreement unless the "Dublin regulation" was modified. This regulation specifies that the EU country that a migrant enters first is the country that must house the migrant and process his asylum application.

This regulation obviously places almost the entire burden of housing and processing migrants on Italy and Greece. Italy had demanded that the regulation be changed so that other countries would have to take a portion of the migrants entering Italy, but obviously no one wants to agree to that, and in fact, Hungary, Poland and Austria are opposed to any change at all to this regulation. So the agreement is silent on the Dublin regulation.

The rules of the European Council specify that no agreement can be issued unless it's unanimously agreed. Italy had threatened to veto any agreement that didn't modify the Dublin regulation. All Italy got was some vague wording that migration is a European problem, not just an Italian problem. But the agreement was not vetoed, so apparently Italy backed down from its threat. Italy's prime minister Giuseppe Conte may be rebuked by other Italian leaders for this.

The agreement was also silent on "secondary migration," whereby many migrants that entered Italy went on to settle in Germany. Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing a challenge from Horst Seehofer, the leader of another member of her governing coalition. Seehofer wanted the agreement to specify that migrants in Germany who entered the EU in Italy should now be sent back to Italy. This would require a bilateral agreement between Germany and Italy, and obviously Italy will not agree to such a deal. Seehofer has threatened to bring down Merkel's government if he doesn't get his way, and he may do so early next week. However, there have been some reports that Seehofer is softening his position, so he may back down also.

At any rate, the only thing that's certain is that even though all the EU leaders were congratulating themselves and each other for reaching such a fine agreement, nonetheless that agreement is a fantasy. The EU is no closer to solving the migration problem than it was a week ago. AFP and Reuters and Al-Jazeera

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Jun-18 World View -- EU leaders agree on fantasy migration plan after all-night meeting thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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29-Jun-18 World View -- Australia passes foreign influence laws, targeting China

China activists accuse Australia of anti-China racism

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Australia passes foreign influence laws, targeting China


Chinese students in Sydney Australia
Chinese students in Sydney Australia

Australia's parliament on Thursday passed sweeping new foreign influence laws targeting secret attempts by foreign spies to influence Australia's politicians, media, ethnic groups and civil society organizations. Espionage, treason and treachery offences will be expanded, with harsh criminal penalties. The bills also set up a register of foreign lobbyists, forcing anyone working in Australia “on behalf” of a foreign government to publicly reveal themselves.

The laws respond to allegations that foreign countries are trying access classified information about Australia's global alliances and military, as well as economic and energy systems.

Australia's Attorney-General Christian Porter said:

"This sends a strong message to those who would seek to undermine our way of life that Australia is acutely aware of activities against our national security and will continue to take the steps necessary to thwart their activities."

The laws do not mention China, but it's clear that China and Chinese agents are the targets of the laws.

Lawmakers who opposed the laws said that they would criminalize free speech and non-violent protest, and would allow prosecution of journalists for simply possessing classified information, though some amendments were added to the original bill to answer these concerns.

Relations between Australia and China have been in crisis for over a month, after an Australian MP, Andrew Hastie, delivered a speech to parliament accusing a prominent wealthy Australian politician, Dr. Chau Chak-wing, of being linked to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and of bribing a United Nations official to obtain UN backing for a number of multi-billion dollar Chinese infrastructure projects. According to Hastie, Chau Chak-wing was a prominent member of Beijing's "United Front Work Department" (UFWD), which is an international Chinese coercive propaganda organization described by Chinese leaders as "Magic Weapons." Sydney Morning Herald and Special Broadcasting Service (Australia) and BBC

China's tech giant Huawei considered a threat to Australia's security

Huawei is the world’s third-largest smartphone maker, behind only Apple and Samsung. It is also the world's largest supplier of wireless and telecommunications networking equipment. It was founded in 1987 by Ren Zhengfei, a former People’s Liberation Army (PLA) engineer, and is suspected of developing projects that the PLA could use for identity theft worldwide, and take control of wireless networks worldwide from China.

As I've described previously, in the past I spent several years developing embedded software in C for microprocessors, and so I know personally that the capabilities described above can be implemented and, in fact, can be implemented easily. Furthermore, if the code is written so that the secret functions are only invoked when the device receives a secret 1024-bit code, then it's impossible to detect the functions through testing. And in view of China's illegal actions in the South China Sea and elsewhere, we have to assume that if it can be done easily, then it will have been done.

Australian security agencies are saying that Huawei products are a threat to Australian security. Huawei has been bidding to take a role in as Australia's high-speed internet provider, but has been facing distrust from Australian politicians and security agencies.

At the same time, a new report finds that Huawei is the biggest corporate sponsor of overseas travel for Australian politicians.

Huawei paid for 12 trips by Australian federal politicians to the company’s headquarters in Shenzhen, including business class flights, local travel, accommodation and meals since 2010. Politicians who took those trips include Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Trade Minister Steve Ciobo and former Trade Minister Andrew Robb.

Solomon Islands dropped plans for a billion-dollar internet cable connecting Australia with the Solomon Islands after Australia this month promised hundreds of millions of dollars to ensure Huawei did not build the cable, because of security risks. News.com (Australia) and Reuters

China activists accuse Australia of anti-China racism

Australia has a long history of antipathy towards Chinese in Australia since European settlement, starting with race riots amid the gold rush of the 1850s and '60s. With hundreds of Chinese prospectors injured and evicted from mining sites, the unrest prompted immigration rules that led to the infamous "White Australia" policy, which existed in various forms from 1901 until 1973.

Chinese activists have increasingly been saying that anti-Chinese racism is rising again, and that it's the cause of anxiety about Chinese influence in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, Europe, and other countries.

However, there are plenty of reasons for anxiety about China's intention that have absolutely nothing to do with racism. China is conducting well-publicized illegal activities in the South China Sea, building a massive military force with the intention of taking control of the whole region. China is also making military threats against India, Japan and other countries where the government wish to confiscate a portion of the regions they govern.

Equally troubling is China's "United Front Work Department" (UFWD), which is an international Chinese coercive propaganda organization described by Chinese leaders as "Magic Weapons." The UFWD is in contact with over a million Chinese expats in countries around the world, and uses a variety of techniques to coerce them to influence local politicians and media to support China's policies in a variety of areas, including Taiwan policy, criminality in the South China Sea, One Belt One Road, the Dalai Lama, and so forth.

There are 150,000 Chinese students in Australia, and there have been numerous incidents where Chinese students complained to school officials that lectures or course materials made them "feel uncomfortable" because they didn't "show respect" for China. They've complained about materials that describe Taiwan as a country, about a map that shows Indian territory claimed by China as Indian territory. These complaints were accompanied by demands that the materials be changed.

Now imagine any Western country trying the same thing. Imagine an agency in the Trump administration telling American students in universities overseas to complain when the university lectures and course materials contradict American policy as defined by the Trump administration. The international outrage would be enormous, and none of the American student expats would do as they has they had been told anyway.

By Western standards, what China is doing appears to be almost like mind control. It's amazing that an agency like the UFWD exists, and it's amazing that Chinese students around the world do as they're told -- although the latter could be explained by the fact that China can threaten punishment for any student that disobeys orders.

America does have an agency that sends people to countries around the world -- the Peace Corps. "The Peace Corps is a service opportunity for motivated changemakers to immerse themselves in a community abroad, working side by side with local leaders to tackle the most pressing challenges of our generation."

I've never heard anyone describe the Peace Corps as a "Magic Weapon" or as any kind of weapon. America has the Peace Corps, to help bring peace, and China has the "Magic Weapon Corps" to coercively spread Chinese propaganda.

So if people in Australia, Canada, the US or any other country are anxious about the Chinese, the Chinese have only themselves to blame, and it has nothing to do with racism.

China's policies could have serious consequences for Chinese expats. In World War II, the American government interred Japanese-American citizens but not German-American citizens. There are probably a lot of reasons for that, not the least of which is that there were too many German-Americans to even think about interring. But the main thing is that there was a great deal of mutual American-Japanese xenophobia prior to the war, and that turned into internment during the war. China's coercive propaganda policies applied to Chinese expats to the point of apparent mind control could, in some future circumstances, lead to the internment of Chinese expats in Australia, Canada or the United States. So the Chinese policies may be "Magic Weapons," but they could have severe consequences for the Chinese themselves. BBC and The Diplomat and Australian Broadcasting and Peace Corps and Australia-China Student Association

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Jun-18 World View -- Australia passes foreign influence laws, targeting China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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28-Jun-18 World View -- Zimbabwe president Mnangagwa blames Grace Mugabe for bomb blast at rally

Zimbabwe elections overshadowed by the country's dark past

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Zimbabwe president Mnangagwa blames Grace Mugabe for bomb blast at rally


Three presidential candidates (L to R): Emmerson Mnangagwa, Joice Mujuru, Nelson Chamisa (Independent-zw)
Three presidential candidates (L to R): Emmerson Mnangagwa, Joice Mujuru, Nelson Chamisa (Independent-zw)

Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa is blaming a political group linked to Grace Mugabe, the wife of former president Robert Mugabe, for a bomb explosion that occurred last Saturday (June 23) during a Mnangagwa rally, killing two and injuring dozens. The obvious target was Mnangagwa, but he escaped unharmed.

Fearing a new terror attack on Wednesday, Mnangagwa canceled a rally scheduled for Wednesday, his first campaign rally since the attack on Saturday.

Wednesday's rally took place without him. It was in the city of Hwange, which is an opposition stronghold, like Bulawayo, which is where Saturday's attack occurred.

Although Mnangagwa did not directly accuse Grace Mugabe of being in involved in Saturday's bombing, he accused the Generation 40 (G40) group of Grace Mugabe supporters of being behind the bombing. The G40 group is a group of younger members of Mnangagwa's and Mugabe's Zanu-pf political party. Grace Mugabe is 52 years old, while her husband Robert Mugabe is 94.

A former member of the G40 group, former government minister Jonathan Moyo, said that the explosion "smacks of an inside job."

The implication is that the Mnangagwa election team staged the explosion in order to justify a crackdown on the opposition prior to next month's general elections, scheduled for July 30. It seems unlikely that the bombing was an inside job, however, because of the large number of casualties.

Even so, there's a widespread suspicion that Mnangagwa will use the explosion as an excuse for security crackdowns that will guarantee the election of him and his Zanu-pf party. Under Robert Mugabe, extreme violence was used for decades to keep Zanu-pf in power.

Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, head of the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has directly suffered election related violence under the Mugabe regime. He said on Wednesday:

"It shows you that things can turn ugly, it has been ugly in the past and over the past 38 years we have had disputed elections, violent elections, state-sponsored violence and we are likely to see that ugly feature rearing its head once more.

Zimbabweans are vulnerable ... the electorate is vulnerable, political players like myself are vulnerable. I have scars on account of political violence in the past, so it's something we have budgeted for."

However, Mnangagwa is trying to reassure the international community that Zimbabwe has changed, and that it's once again a good idea for foreign investors to invest in Zimbabwe. In particular, he's promised that the election will be free and fair, and open to international observers. He has invited election observers from the United States, the European Union and elsewhere for the first time in 16 years. Mugabe rejected Western observers, accusing them of bias.

In order to reassure both voters and foreign investors, all 23 president candidates running in the July 30 elections signed a "peace pledge" on Wednesday committing themselves and their political parties to a peaceful campaign ahead of the elections. BBC and Herald (Zimbabwe) and Reuters and Guardian (London) and AP

Zimbabwe elections overshadowed by the country's dark past

During last year's chaos in Zimbabwe's capital city Harare, president Robert Mugabe fired his vice-president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, so that Grace Mugabe could succeed him. This triggered a series of events that led to the forced resignation of Mugabe, and his replacement with Mnangagwa as the new president.

There was a great deal of vitriolic hostility between the two men last year, and it was joined by Mugabe's wife Grace Mugabe, who blamed Mnangagwa for her husband's downfall.

However, the vitriol was only recent, since the two men worked closely together since independence in 1981.

They're both in the Shona tribe, and they both are responsible for Operation Gukurahundi, the genocidal war crime that brought in North Korean soldiers to help exterminate tens of thousands of civilians in the hated Ndebele tribe in the early 1980s.

They've both cooperated in turning Zimbabwe into a police state, where anyone who speaks against the government was likely to be arrested, tortured and killed. This is particularly true of the members of the Ndebele tribe that managed to survive Operation Gukurahundi.

They both worked together on Mugabe's "indigenization" program, which threw out farm and business owners who knew how to run a farm or a business, and replaced them with thugs and cronies from Mugabe's and Mnangagwa's Shona tribe who didn't know how to run a farm or business. Over three decades, Mugabe and Mnangagwa turned Rhodesia, which was a wealthy country and the breadbasket of southern Africa, into today's Zimbabwe, which is an economic basket case.

Mnangagwa is now trying to convince foreigners to invest in Zimbabwe again. In order to do that he's going to have convince investors that Operation Gukurahundi and indigenization are in the past, and won't be repeated in the future, so that investors' money will be safe. This is going to be a tough sell for Mnangagwa, since there are still a lot of people in Zimbabwe, especially people in the Nbdele tribe, that believe that there is continuing violent discrimination against people in the Nbdele tribe, and that Mnangagwa will not hesitate to use "indigenization" to confiscate a farm or a business to aware to one of his Shona cronies in return for political favor. The Zimbabawean and Al Jazeera and Independent (Zimbabwe)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Jun-18 World View -- Zimbabwe president Mnangagwa blames Grace Mugabe for bomb blast at rally thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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27-Jun-18 World View -- Tens of thousands fleeing Syrian bombs trapped at closed Jordan border

Israeli missiles strike Iranian cargo plane near Damascus

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Tens of thousands fleeing Syrian bombs trapped at closed Jordan border


Area of Daraa after Syrian bombing (Sky News)
Area of Daraa after Syrian bombing (Sky News)

Daraa province in southwestern Syria is facing a new humanitarian crisis as the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad steps up ground attacks, backed up by airstrikes from Russian warplanes.

Following the usual pattern, al-Assad treats all the people in the region, including ordinary civilians, women and children, as "terrorists," and uses that as a justification for genocide and ethnic cleansing. The attack on Daraa has just begun in the last week, and is targeting 750,000 people in Daraa.

Already, 45,000 people had been forced to leave their homes and flee. Last week, it was reported that tens of thousands fled into Jordan to escape the violence. However, reports in the last few days indicate that Jordan has closed its border, and the Daraa residents are trapped inside Syria as regime forces and Russian warplanes close in.

When Jordan closed the border in 2014, it led to a humanitarian crisis as some 60,000 people were forced into a lawless ad-hoc camp, inaccessible to any medical or humanitarian aid and controlled by exploitative criminal gangs.

Amnesty International has warned Jordan of the "dire consequences" that resulted from the previous closure of the border and said tens of thousands were still stranded in "deplorable" conditions. A spokesman said that Jordan has a duty to open the border:

"Jordan has a duty to protect refugees from Syria fleeing conflict and persecution, and to allow them to enter the country. Closing the border to people in need of protection violates Jordan's international obligations."

Syrian forces are remaining in Daraa province so far, and have not gone farther west into neighboring Quneitra province, which is on the border with Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. Israel is watching these movements very closely, because the Syrian army could attack targets in Israel from Quneitra, resulting in a larger war. Israel has already made it clear that it will not tolerate Iranian or Hezbollah forces near the Golan border, and has previously targeted Iranian weapons systems and other Iranian targets approaching the border.

The US is receiving some criticism for having apparently set a red line last week, when the US State Dept. announced that if Syria and Russia broke the ceasefire in Daraa, there would be "firm and appropriate measures," and is now backing down by notifying the Free Syrian Army (FSA) that they should not expect any support from the US military. Sky News and Reuters and Washington Post and Independent (London)

Israeli missiles strike Iranian cargo plane near Damascus

Syrian state media says that two Israeli missiles struck targets near Damascus airport early on Tuesday morning. Other sources claime that the missiles an Iranian cargo plane, which was landing at Damascus International Airport.

It's not clear whether they were ground to ground missiles or launched from a warplane. Israel has followed its usual policy of not commenting on foreign news reports.

Debka is reporting that the missiles hit an Iranian air force Ilyushin Il-76 cargo plane unloading munitions at Damascus military airport early Tuesday. The explosions caused the plane to burst into flame with a number of unidentified casualties. Debka's reports are written from Israel's point of view, based on military and intelligence sources that provide valuable insights. However, as usual, I have to warn readers that they definitely do get some things wrong. Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA, Damascus) and Al-Jazeera and Debka

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Jun-18 World View -- Tens of thousands fleeing Syrian bombs trapped at closed Jordan border thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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26-Jun-18 World View -- Massive Tehran riots strike deep into Iran government's legitimacy

Brief generational history of Iran's protests

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Massive Tehran riots strike deep into Iran government's legitimacy


Protester in Tehran, Iran, on Monday with banner, 'We Want Democracy!' (Getty)
Protester in Tehran, Iran, on Monday with banner, 'We Want Democracy!' (Getty)

Thousands of Iranians on Monday took to the streets of Tehran, Iran's capital city, to protest rising prices and a sinking economy, with unemployment rates above 24%. Traders at Tehran's Grand Bazaar closed their shops and joined the demonstrators, protesting the sharp fall in Iran's rial currency versus the US dollar.

The prices of imported goods have skyrocketed because of the loss in value of the rial. The official exchange rate is 42,000 rials per US dollar. But in April, the black market exchange rate was 60,000. Just one week ago, the exchange rate was 80,000. On Sunday, it shot up by another 10,000 rials, to an exchange rate of 90,000 rials per US dollar. This kind of increase means that the cost of an imported item has now more than doubled in price, in just a few weeks.

It's apparently Sunday's apparent collapse in the value of the rial that triggered the mass protests on Monday. Shopkeepers joined the protesters chanting "Strike!" and "We don't want the dollar at 100,000 rials!"

In desperation, Iran's central bank plans to set up a "secondary currency market" by next week. The details have yet to be released, but the idea seems to be that new regulations would prevent merchants from raising prices when the value of the rial fall.

Needless to say this is infuriating to merchants and shopkeepers who can see that they're going to be required to pay more for imported goods, but that there will be new regulations forbidding them from charging higher prices for the same items. This is the same kind of thing that has been tried in Venezuela and Zimbabwe with disastrous results.

In late December of last year, there were similar economic protests that spread to some 75 cities and towns, resulting in 25 people killed and nearly 5,000 arrested. NBC News and BBC and Tehran Times and Radio Farda

Tehran demonstrators attack Iran's foreign policy

As happened in December's massive demonstrations, the protests quickly spread from economics to foreign policy and to questioning the competence of the entire government.

In my article on the December protests, I listed about 20 of the protests that were being chanted, many of them quite vicious. One chant that was prominent on Monday that didn't appear in my previous list is "Death to Palestine!"

This is a particularly ironic chant because it cuts into the entire ethos of the Islamic government. The two supreme leaders, Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini and Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, used a variety of artifices to justify their mass slaughter, torture, rape, and extrajudicial arrests of innocent peaceful protesters, but the main ones have always been to blame Iran's problems on the Big Satan (the United States) and the Little Satan (Israel). As I've been reporting for years, the young generations of Iran are generally pro-Western and pro-American, and this chant makes it clear that they're pro-Israel -- or at least not anti-Israel.

The protesters' objections to Iran's foreign policy ties back again to the economy. Iran is spending enormous amounts of money supporting Bashar al-Assad in Syria, supporting the Houthis in Yemen, supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon, and supporting Hamas in Gaza. After the nuclear deal was signed in 2015, and Iran received a billions of dollars in released funds, instead of spending the money on the economy, the perception among Iranians is that they wasted the money on Syria, Yemen, Hezbollah, and Hamas.

I particularly have to shake my head at Iran's support for Hamas, using Iranian-supplied weapons to attack Israel. Hamas is a Sunni terrorist group, and they will never accept hegemony from Shia Iran. They're happy to take any free money and weapons supplied by Iran, of course, but it shows the depth the delusions suffered by 78-year-old Khamenei that he thinks he can govern the Sunni Palestinians -- or even more delusional, if he believes that al-Mahdi, the hidden Imam from Shia theology, is about to return and convert the world to Islam, rewarding him for supplying arms to Hamas.

With the Trump administrations imposing new sanctions, the huge stream of money that Iran started receiving in 2015 is now going to be sharply reduced. This is providing the government with the opportunity to blame Iran's economic troubles on the US, when in fact the economy would be in much better shape if the stream of money hadn't been wasted on foreign wars. Jerusalem Post and Times of Israel and Asharq Al-Awsat (Saudi Arabia)

Brief generational history of Iran's protests

One of the many ironies of Monday's protests is that they were led by merchants and shopkeepers in Tehran's Grand Bazaar. Merchants and shopkeepers were strong supporters of Khomeini at the start of the Great Islamic Revolution in 1979, because they were highly critical of the economic policies of the secular but autocratic government of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. Not surprisingly, after 40 years of the hardline extremist Sharia law imposed by Khomeini and Khamenei and the resulting economic disaster, two of the chants that could be heard on Monday were "Death to the dictator!" and "Reza Shah, Bless Your Soul!"

But the significance of Monday's protests goes back much farther than that.

During the 1800s, Iran (Persia) was repeatedly humiliated in border clashes with Britain and Russia. So the public had had enough when Iran's government granted a tobacco concession to Britain in 1890. This concession gave granted a monopoly on both the purchase and sale of tobacco within Persia to an English company for a period of fifty years. The tobacco concession struck at the heart of Iran's culture. At this time, nearly everyone in Iran, both men and women, used tobacco products, as they gathered to smoke and drink coffee. The tobacco merchants felt their livelihood threatened, and enlisted the help of other bazaar merchants to organize anti-government protests. In the northern regions of Iran under Russian influence, including today's Azerbaijan, support for the protests was strong because the monopoly had been granted to the British, locking out the Russians.

The result was the Tobacco Revolt (1890-92). The Shah was forced to rescind the tobacco concession, but the protests continued, and dozens of protesters were killed before the protests fizzled. The Tobacco Revolt was a major event in Iranian history, with implications far beyond the income of tobacco merchants.

In the end, the issues raised by the Tobacco Revolt were not about tobacco production, but about the right of the Shah to have the power to grant concessions to other nations without the approval of the people. Muslim countries had had Sharia law for centuries, based on Roman law but merged with the core concepts of Islam. But Sharia law had to do with rules for ordinary people, and placed no restrictions at all on the what the Shah could do.

That's when the people of Iran looked across the Atlantic and saw what America had done in 1789, ratifying the Constitution of the United States, and the related document, the Bill of Rights. Becoming aware of the US Constitution, and of the French Revolution, the people of Iran began to demand their own constitution.

Iran had two generational crisis civil wars during the 1900s, the second one being the Islamic revolution in 1979. But the first one was the Constitutional Revolution of 1905-09.

The Tobacco Revolt provided a template to the public in 1905, when there were protests over an increase in the price of sugar. The government blamed the sugar merchants, and several sugar merchants were beaten and tortured. A leading preacher and radical constitutionalist, Seyyed Jamal al-Din Isfahani attacked the government from the pulpit, leading to public protests, especially from students, merchants and shopkeepers.

By January 1906, the Shah agreed to the public demands, including formation of a house of justice, or consultative assembly. The Shah did not follow up on his promises, leading to a confrontation involving a group of clerics and their students in which a student was killed. This triggered wider protests, with over 12,000 protesters demanding the formation of a majlis, or parliament. The first majlis convened in October 1906 and set about the task of writing a constitution. An ailing Shah decreed the document they produced into law in December 1906, a few days before his death.

The Shah's son became the new Shah in January 1907. He was against the constitution of 1906 ratified during regime of his father. Iran was still under occupation of Russian forces in the north and British forces in the south, and both the Russian and British forces supported the Shah in opposing the constitution and the Majlis. On June 23, 1908, Russia's Cossack Brigade shelled and plundered the parliament building, executing several constitutionalist leaders. The Shah and the Cossack Brigade ruled until July 1909, when pro-Constitution forces marched from Iran's province of Azerbaijan to Tehran, defeating the Cossacks, deposing the Shah, and re-establishing the constitution.

That was the climax of Iran's Constitutional Revolution. So finally, over a century after America's written constitution and the French Revolution and its imposition of law, Iran had officially become a country ruled by law, not by leaders who are above the law.

They say that history doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes. Just as the Tobacco Revolt was a precursor to the Constitutional Revolution, the protests arising from the White Revolution of 1963 were the precursor to the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

The White Revolution was actually a government program instituted by the Shah. It included land reform, the nationalization of forests, the sale of state-owned enterprises to the private sector, a profit-sharing plan for industrial workers, and the formation of a Literacy Corps to eradicate illiteracy in rural areas. The White Revolution also granted Iranian women the right to vote, increased women’s minimum legal marriage age to 18, and improved women’s legal rights in divorce and child custody matters.

These reforms were opposed Iran’s clergy, in particular Ayatollah Khomeini. Khomeini led the June 5, 1963 uprising, opposing the Shah and the White Revolution. In the course of this uprising, the authorities quelled resistance among the religious students in a seminary in the city of Qum, and a number of students lost their lives. Khomeini’s activities eventually led to his exile to Iraq in 1964.

The protests of both the Tobacco Revolt and the White Revolution were led by élites. In 1890, the élites were the tobacco merchants. In 1962, it was religious leaders who feared that they would lose their influence and control over sectors of society where they were preeminent. Things like land reform, improving literacy through better education, and granting women additional rights could all be viewed as threatening to the clerics and imams and their areas of traditional authority.

The leader of the insurgents in Iran's 1979 civil war was Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who had led the anti-government protests in the 1963 White Revolution, and ended up seeing hundreds of his followers killed, after which he was sent into exile by Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. When Khomeini made his triumphant return from 16 years of exile to Tehran on February 1, 1979, he was ready for revenge.

Khomeini had already gotten his revenge on the Shah. Although he had been in exile, he was able in 1978-79 to incite widespread anti-Shah uprisings based on discontent with a populist ideology tied to Islamic principles and calls for the overthrow of the Shah. The uprisings forced the Shah's government to collapse and, suffering from cancer, the Shah went into exile and left Iran on January 16, 1979. He lived in Egypt, Morocco, the Bahamas, and Mexico before going to the United States for treatment of lymphatic cancer, where he died.

Thousands of people were killed in Iran's civil war, including thousands who were jailed or executed by Khomeini. Khomeini claims that 60,000 people were killed. Here's a paragraph from the preamble to Khomeini's 1979 constitution:

"After slightly more than a year of continuous and unrelenting struggle, the sapling of the Revolution, watered by the blood of more than 60,000 martyrs and 100,000 wounded and disabled, not to mention billions of tumans' worth of property damage, came to bear fruit amidst the cries of "Independence! Freedom! Islamic government!" This great movement, which attained victory through reliance upon faith, unity, and the decisiveness of its leadership at every critical and sensitive juncture, as well as the self-sacrificing spirit of the people, succeeded in upsetting all the calculations of imperialism and destroying all its connections and institutions, thereby opening a new chapter in the history of all embracing popular revolutions of the world."

However, analysts outside of Iran question the 60,000 figure, and give much lower estimates of 3,000-4,000.

But that wasn't the end of it. Ayatollah Khomeini's bloodthirsty lusts reached a kind of peak in 1988 when he ordered the massacre of tens of thousands of political prisoners and political enemies, especially those in the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK). He issued this decree in July 1988:

"Whoever at any stage continues to belong to the PMOI must be executed. Annihilate the enemies of Islam immediately! ...Those who are in prisons throughout the country and remain steadfast in their support for PMOI are waging war on God and are condemned to execution…It is naive to show mercy to those who wage war on God."

That wasn't the end of it either. When students protested in 1999, Ayatollah Khamenei ordered huge, bloody massacres, rapes, torture, and other atrocities. The same happened in 2009, to students protesting the election.

The 1999 protests marked a major turning point in Iran's government, because it was the first time that it was clear that younger generations would not accept the extremist rule of Khamenei, and that the Great Islamic Revolution was a complete failure as an Islamic ideal, and instead was just another cheap, vicious dictatorship, led by an old geezer who has abandoned righteous Shia theology for bloody oppression.

Ever since the Constitutional Revolution, the people of Iran have demanded that their leaders follow the law, as defined in the constitution. Here's one more excerpt from Khomeini's 1979 constitution:

"Islamic Government is designed on a basis of "religious guardianship" as put forward by Imam Khomeini at the height of the intense emotion and strangulation (felt) under the despotic regime. This created a specific motivation and new field of advance for the Muslim people; and opened up the true path for the religious fight of Islam, pressing forward the struggle of the committed Muslim combatants, inside and outside the country. ...

The publication by the [Reza Shah] regime on [January 7, 1978] of the letter which insulted the sacred order of the clergy, and in particular the Imam Khomeini, hastened this movement. It caused the people's anger to explode all over the country. In an effort to control this volcano of popular anger, the regime tried to suppress the protest uprising by bloodshed. This very fact set more blood pulsing through the veins of the Revolution. Continuing revolutionary passion at the time of the seven-day and forty-day commemoration of the martyrs of the Revolution, added on an ever-increasing scale to the vitality and ardor and fervent unity of the movement throughout the country. It continued and extended the people's upheaval in all the country's organizations by a general strike and joining in street demonstrations while actively seeking the downfall of the despotic regime. Widespread co-operation of men and women of all classes, and of religious and political groups, in this struggle, took place in decisive and dramatic fashion In particular women joined openly on all the scenes of this great Holy War, ever more actively and extensively. Such a scene would be a mother with a child in her bosom hastening to the battlefield and facing machine gun fire This large section of society took a main and decisive part in the struggle."

Reading this excerpt from Khomeini's own 1979 constitution makes it clear that he has a great deal to fear. Iran is coming full circle. The students and merchants of today have read the constitution, and are following its prescriptions -- popular anger, uprisings, strikes, street demonstrations, even facing gun fire -- while actively seeking the downfall of this new despotic regime. It's something that Khomeini himself should have predicted. Homa Katouzian and Iran's Constitution

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25-Jun-18 World View -- Concerns grow in Israel over Syrian and Russian assaults on Daraa and Quneitra provinces

Jordan says it can't host a new wave of refugees from Syria

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russian bombers join Syrian military assaulting Daraa province


U.N. peacekeepers patrol Mount Bental, an observation post in the Golan Heights near the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria, October 23, 2017.  (Reuters)
U.N. peacekeepers patrol Mount Bental, an observation post in the Golan Heights near the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria, October 23, 2017. (Reuters)

As we reported three days ago, the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad has begun an assault on the southwestern province Daraa, which is on the border with Jordan.

There's also an expectation that it will soon be followed by another assault, this time on the southwestern province Quneitra, which is on the border with Israel-controlled Golan Heights.

On Saturday overnight, Russian warplanes joined the effort, and began bombing towns in Daraa with dozens of airstrikes. The warplanes had apparently come from the Russian-operated Hmeimim airbase in coastal Syria.

The attacks on Daraa are violations of the "de-escalation zones" agreement, based on last year's peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan. The peace talks were between Russia, Iran and Turkey, but they always were a big joke, to be used as a cover for Shia/Alawite al-Assad to continue his genocide and ethnic cleansing of Sunni civilians in Syria. The agreement named four de-escalation zones where there were supposed to be ceasefires, but Syria and Russia never had any intention of honoring the ceasefire, and would resume ethnic cleansing as soon as it was convenient to do so.

The ceasefire in each zone would be overseen by one nation, and apparently the US became the overseer for the southwestern zone, because nobody wanted to trust any Syrian, Iranian or Russian forces near the border with Israel.

So now that Syria and Russia have thoroughly violated the other de-escalation zones, it's the turn of the southwestern de-escalation zone. The US State Dept. last week threatened "serious repercussions" for violation of the de-escalation zone, without specifying what those repercussions might be. However, on Sunday, the US sent a message to Syrian rebel factions that they should not expect US military support, and "you should not base your decisions on the assumption or expectation of a military intervention by us." Whether that represents a brand new example of the US setting a red line and then refusing to enforce it is up to the perception of the observer. Times of Israel and Al-Arabiya (Riyadh) and Middle East Eye

Jordan says it can't host a new wave of refugees from Syria

Daraa province lies along the border with Jordan and there have already been reports last week that tens of thousands of people are fleeing the violence, running south into Jordan to escape the bombing.

However, Jordan on Sunday said that is unable to host a new wave of Syrian refugees. According to the United Nations, some 650,000 Syrian refugees have registered with them in Jordan since the Syrian war began seven years ago. Jordan itself estimates the actual number is closer to 1.3 million people and says it has spent more than $10 billion hosting them.

Jordan's government spokesman Jumana Ghanimat said on Sunday:

"The large number of Syrians we’re hosting in terms of financial resources and infrastructure does not allow for the reception of a new wave of asylum seekers

Jordan has not and will not abandon its humanitarian role and its commitment to international charters, but it has exceeded its ability to absorb (more refugees). Everyone should cooperate to deal with any new wave of displacement within Syria’s borders."

She added that Jordan would work with “concerned organisations” to find an arrangement for the displaced inside Syria. Middle East Eye and Al-Arabiya (Riyadh)

Concerns grow in Israel over Syrian and Russian assaults on Daraa and Quneitra provinces

Although the full-scale assaults by Syrian and Russian forces on Daraa province have not yet reached Quneitra province, which is on the border with Israel-controlled Golan Heights, it's expected that they will do so soon.

In anticipation of artillery and airstrikes in Quneitra, thousands of Syrians have fled villages to makeshift camps near the border with Israel. It's believed that Syrian artillery will avoid shelling near the border, to avoid provoking a military response by Israel.

There are supposed to be peacekeeping forces inside Syria along the border with Israel. This was set up in 1974 following the 1973 Yom Kippur war. The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) would have 1,250 peacekeepers.

Following the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, and after a contingent of 22 peacekeepers from the Philippines were kidnapped and held for three days by a group affiliated with Islamic State in 2013, much of the UNDOF contingent moved to the Israeli side of the border, where they've been less effective. With tensions growing on the Syrian side of the border, Israel has requested that they move back to that side, but they are reluctant to do so.

During the last few days, Syrian forces have taken control of an abandoned United Nations peacekeeping post in the no-man’s land between the Israeli and Syrian areas of the Golan Heights. The post, abandoned by UNDOF troops on the Golan, is meant to be free of both Israeli and Syrian troops, according to the cessation of hostilities agreement between the two countries that followed the 1973 Yom Kippur War. UNDOF has identified ongoing infrastructure work at the site.

In addition to a renewed military threat from Syrian forces, and possible Iranian or Hezbollah forces embedded within them, there's also the possibility of thousands of Syrian refugees crossing the border into Israel, just as is happening along the border with Jordan. Reuters and Jerusalem Post and Times of Israel and United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Jun-18 World View -- Concerns grow in Israel over Syrian and Russian assaults on Daraa and Quneitra provinces thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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24-Jun-18 World View -- Ethiopia's prime minister Abiy Ahmediat escapes grenade attack at massive rally

New Ethiopia reforms face opposition by hardliners

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Ethiopia's prime minister Abiy Ahmediat escapes grenade attack at massive rally


Abiy Ahmediat (L) was just finishing speaking to a massive audience (R) when the grenade explosion occurred (Guardian)
Abiy Ahmediat (L) was just finishing speaking to a massive audience (R) when the grenade explosion occurred (Guardian)

Ethiopia's prime minister Abiy Ahmediat barely escaped a grenade attack, just after finishing a speech deliver to tens of thousands of supporters in the capital city Addis Ababa. One of the people at the rally threw the grenade at Abiy, but missed the target.

According to one report, Abiy was saved because another participant in the audience touched the hand of the person throwing the grenade, causing it to fall without reaching the stage.

At least one person died from the explosion, and 155 people were injured, including nine in critical condition.

Abiy was selected to take office in April in order to end growing massive street protests by the Oromo tribe, protesting marginalization inflicted by the governing Tigrays. The Tigrays have been in power for 27 years, but comprise only 6% of the population. The Oromos, who comprise 34% of the population, have suffered discrimination and marginalization.

Mass anti-government protests began in Ethiopia in 2015, beginning in the Oromia region, and then spread to other parts of Ethiopia, especially the Amhara region. The Amharas comprise another 27% of the population, and they joined the protests demanding an end to human rights abuses as well political reforms and greater freedoms. In the government crackdown, hundreds of people were killed, and more than 20,000 others were arrested.

By February of this year, the growing protests seemed to be overwhelming, and prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn abruptly resigned, citing ongoing "unrest and a political crisis." The dominant Tigrays took the desperate step of replacing Hailemariam with the Oromo leader Abiy Ahmediat, 42, in the hope of ending the chaos and bloodshed. BBC and Reuters and AP

New Ethiopia reforms face opposition by hardliners

Since being inaugurated, Abiy has been extremely aggressive in implementing a number of reforms, including the following:

Six people have been arrested following Saturday's grenade attack, but no motive has been identified.

According to Ryan Cummings, a South Africa based security analyst:

"The grenade attack in Addis may be well linked to hardliners who do not want to see dialogue and conciliation with Eritrea. However, it may also be in response to perceived Tigrayan marginalization and/or dissent within the military. Either way, it shows that the reforms are not window dressing."

Any of the reforms listed above might have infuriated some people, especially ethnic Tigrays, who have been in power for 27 years, but are only 6% of the population. For example, replacing key generals would have struck at the heart of the army's control of the population. The economic liberalization, including selling off state-owned assets, could have cost Tigray executives a great deal of money, and led to violent retaliation.

The deal with Eritrea could be particularly troubling, since it calls for an exchange of regions of land. These regions are small compared to the sizes of the two countries, but they're densely populated. This means that many people living in Eritrea will suddenly be living in Ethiopia, and vice-versa. This has many implications -- changing tax collections and administrative rules, and splitting families and neighbors, for example.

As I described in my 2016 Generational history of Ethiopia and Eritrea, Ethiopia is a Christian country, and Eritrea is a Muslim countries. Eritrea was an Italian colony in the 1800s, and both were in the late 1930s as "Italian East Africa." Eritrea declared independence from Ethiopia in 1993, leading to the 1998-2000 border war, which led to the peace agreement that is now being considered for implementation. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Ethiopia is in a generational Awakening era, like America and Europe in the 1960s, or like Iran today, when mass protests are a frequent feature. Mass protests can end temporarily, or cab be suppressed by violence from the security forces, but they return.

The appointment of Oromo leader Abiy Ahmediat has put an end to the massive protests by Oromos, but even with an Oromo leader, protests by Oromos will return.

Abiy vows that the reforms will continue, despite Saturday's explosion. Guardian (London) and Al-Jazeera and Addis (Ababa) Standard and Committee to Protect Journalists

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23-Jun-18 World View -- Desperate European Union considers 'Disembarkation Platforms' for migrants

European Union very badly split on migration as Sunday's summit approaches

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Desperate European Union considers 'Disembarkation Platforms' for migrants


Migrants in the Mediterranean on Thursday (dpa)
Migrants in the Mediterranean on Thursday (dpa)

Both the United States and the European Union are in the midst of total political chaos over the issue of migration, and are desperately looking for ways to slow the potentially massive flood of migrants from Central America and Africa, as we described a couple of days ago.

In America, the administration has been experimenting with abandoning its "catch and release" program and keeping illegal immigrants in detention centers. This continues to be a massively divisive issue, especially related to the question of separating children from their parents. But there has been no clear statement that this will work, especially as courts and detention centers become flooded and overcrowded.

The Council of the European Union is considering a similar idea, though implemented differently. Migrants would be kept in detention centers, but the centers would not be on European Union soil. Instead, they would be in so-called "Disembarkation Platforms" that would be located in non-EU countries.

According to the EU draft document

"1. The European Council reconfirms that a precondition for a functioning EU policy on migration is effective control of the external borders. Since 2015 a number of measures have been put in place to achieve that objective. As a result, the number of detected illegal border crossings into the EU has been brought down by 95% from its peak in October 2015.

2. The European Council is determined to continue and reinforce this policy to prevent a return to the uncontrolled flows of 2015 and to further reduce illegal immigration on all routes. Specifically as regards the Central Mediterranean route, efforts to stop smugglers operating out of Libya should be further intensified. The EU will continue to stand by Italy in this respect, and will step up its support for the Libyan Coastguard, coastal and Southern communities, humane reception conditions, and voluntary humanitarian returns. ...

4. In order to establish a more predictable framework for dealing with those who nevertheless set out to sea and are rescued in Search And Rescue Operations, the European Council supports the development of the concept of regional disembarkation platforms in close cooperation with UNHCR and IOM. Such platforms should provide for rapid processing to distinguish between economic migrants and those in need of international protection, and reduce the incentive to embark on perilous journeys."

Since there is no firm proposal, but only a draft document, possible hosting countries for these disembarkation platforms have not been officially named. However, unnamed EU officials have said that Albania (which is a European country but not a European Union count) and Tunisia have been suggested.

However, in response to a query about whether Albania would be a host, the European Council responded, "No. The regions are not yet identified as we are only talking about possibly exploring this concept."

Tunisia has already rejected a similar proposal when it was made a few months ago. Tunisia's ambassador said:

"The proposal was put to the head of our government a few months ago during a visit to Germany, it was also asked by Italy, and the answer is clear: no!

We have neither the capacity nor the means to organize these detention centers. We are already suffering a lot from what is happening in Libya, which has been the effect of European action."

African countries that might serve as hosts include Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Niger and Morocco. However, Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European commissioner for migration, said that no African country has yet agreed to host migration center. Politico (EU) and European Council Draft Proposal (PDF) and Balkan Insight and Guardian (London)

UPDATE: A leaked plan by the US Navy reveals plans to construct sprawling detention centers for tens of thousands of immigrants on military bases in California, Alabama and Arizona. Time

European Union very badly split on migration as Sunday's summit approaches

Italy and Malta are refusing to take in 226 migrants on the Mediterranean rescue ship Lifeline, thus precipitating the in a continuing series of crises in Europe on migration. As of Friday evening, the Lifeline is stranded in the middle of the Mediterranean with no place to go.

Italy asked Malta to take in the Lifeline migrants. Malta refused, saying that it was too small a country to handle a large number of migrants. Italy said that Malta's response was "inhumane."

The EU has called for an emergency mini-summit meeting to be held in Brussels tomorrow (Sunday, June 24) to find a way to handle the migration issue, in advance of a major EU summit to be held on June 28-29.

However, Sunday's mini-summit became controversial almost as soon as it was announced. Italy's prime minister Giuseppe Conte had indicated that he wouldn't be attending, but he agreed to attend after Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke to him and apparently begged him to attend.

However, other anti-immigrant states including the Visegrad Group (Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic) are staying away from Sunday's meeting.

At a Visegrad meeting in Budapest on Thursday Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki stated that "we don't belong to this migrant-loving group of friends." That's an interesting statement, since it sounds like he's saying, "We don't belong to the European Union."

Even if Italy is represented at the meeting, the country's new far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini has said that Italy will not be pushed around anymore.

Angela Markel is facing the collapse of her governing coalition, and with it her entire government, unless she can come up with an EU agreement within seven days -- and in particular, an agreement with Italy.

The crucial issue is that Merkel's political opponent, Horst Seehofer, is demanding that Germany not take in any more migrants, or, if a new migrant arrives, he be sent back to the first EU country he entered. This is completely unacceptable to Italy, since that the migrants that come from Africa would almost always be sent back to Italy.

Horst Seehofer is not only the leader of the other party in Merkel's governing coalition, he's also Germany's Interior Minister. Seehofer has to power to issue an executive order that rejects refugees at the Germany border, and he's making preparations to issue that order, which is opposed by Merkel.

If Merkel fails to reach an agreement at next week's EU summit, then Seehofer will issue the executive order. That will be in direct conflict with Merkel's policy, so Merkel will have to fire Seehofer as Interior Minister. That will cause the governing coalition to collapse.

Whether or not Merkel's government collapses, the EU will face an existential crisis this summer if, as expected, hundreds of thousands of migrants cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe. Italy will not permit rescue ships to disembark, meaning that these ships will then head for France, Spain and Holland. In addition, Italy's new government wants to deport half a million undocumented migrants, many of whom are housed in squalid reception centers. More than 600,000 have reached Italy from Libya in the past four years. Euro News and BBC and AFP and Euro Intelligence

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Jun-18 World View -- Desperate European Union considers 'Disembarkation Platforms' for migrants thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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22-Jun-18 World View -- Thousands of Syrians flee into Jordan to escape bombing in Daraa

Fears grow of Syrian army advance into Quneitra province

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Thousands of Syrians flee into Jordan to escape bombing in Daraa


March 2017: Syrian troops advancing overnight in Hama (Al-Masdar)
March 2017: Syrian troops advancing overnight in Hama (Al-Masdar)

The long-awaited assault by the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad on the southwestern province of Daraa appears to have begun on Thursday. According to Syrian state media, the Syrian army "carried out concentrated bombardments on dens and fortified positions of Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organization and the affiliated groups in the northern and northeastern countryside of Daraa."

Al-Assad considers all the people living in Daraa to be "terrorists," even the women and children. Al-Assad has used an increasingly common way of committing ethnic cleansing and genocide. After brutal attacks on peaceful Sunni protesters in 2011, as soon as even one Sunni activist uses violence to get revenge, al-Assad has declared that millions of Sunnis are all "terrorists," and he uses that as an excuse to conduct ethnic cleansing and genocide. In the past, al-Assad attacked even women and children in Aleppo, Homs and Ghouta with barrel bombs, chlorine and Sarin gas, and now he's turning his attention to Daraa. According to reports, the Syrian army has assembled a large force, including tens of thousands of soldiers and more than 100 tanks.

Daraa province lies along the border with Jordan. Tens of thousands of people are fleeing the area, running south into Jordan to escape the bombing. Jordan is already hosting 650,000 refugees from the Syrian war, and is already in economic distress.

So far, the Syrian army has not started a ground offensive, but that could change at any time.

The US State Department quickly denounced the Syrian action, accusing them of violating a previous agreement that Daraa province part of a "de-escalation zone" which is supposed to recognize a ceasefire:

"The United States remains deeply troubled by reports of increasing Syrian regime operations in southwest Syria within the boundaries of the de-escalation zone negotiated between the United States, Jordan, and the Russian Federation last year and reaffirmed between Presidents Trump and Putin in Da Nang, Vietnam in November. Syrian regime military and militia units, according to our reports, have violated the southwest de-escalation zone and initiated airstrikes, artillery, and rocket attacks.

The United States continues to warn both the Russian government and the Assad regime of the serious repercussions of these violations and demands that Russia restrain pro-regime forces from further actions within the southwest de-escalation zone. During their call this weekend, Secretary Pompeo stressed to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov the critical nature of mutual adherence to this arrangement and the unacceptable nature of any unilateral activity by the Assad regime or Russia. The United States expects all parties to respect the ceasefire, protect civilian populations, and avoid broadening of the conflict. We remain committed to maintaining the stability of the southwest de-escalation zone and to the ceasefire underpinning it."

The US has threatened "serious repercussions" for violation of the de-escalation zone, without specifying what those repercussions might be. Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA, Damascus) and Arab News and US State Dept. and The National (UAE)

Fears grow of Syrian army advance into Quneitra province

Al-Assad has vowed to recapture all of southwest Syria from the "terrorists," even though it's in a de-escalation zone. The actions taken so far in Daraa province, near the border with Jordan, have not evoked a strong response.

There is a great deal of concern, however, that the Syrian army will advance farther west from Daraa province in Quneitra province. Quneitra province borders the Israel-controlled Golan Heights, which is of much greater concern. From there, the Syrian army could attack targets in Israel, resulting in a larger war.

Israel has already made it clear that it will not tolerate Iranian or Hezbollah forces near the Golan border, and has previously targeted Iranian weapons systems and other Iranian targets approaching the border. Israel's willingness to tolerate Syrian forces near the border is ambiguous.

The pressure on Israel to respond is further complicated by the fact that the situation along the border with Gaza appears to be deteriorating rapidly, with Hamas and Islamic Jihad sending dozens of rockets and burning kites across the border into Israel.

There are also suggestions in Israeli media that soldiers in Syria's army are actually Hezbollah terrorists wearing Syrian uniforms. Whether this is paranoia or actually happening, there is clearly a perception that it's happening, and that's putting pressure on Israel to take military action in Daraa, Gaza or both. Al Masdar News (Damascus) and Israel National News and Debka (Israel)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Jun-18 World View -- Thousands of Syrians flee into Jordan to escape bombing in Daraa thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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21-Jun-18 World View -- Europe and North America overwhelmed by growing migration crisis

The increasing threat of 'unspeakable' violence from MS-13

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Europe and North America overwhelmed by growing migration crisis


From June 2017: Migrants from Africa arrive in Italy on a rescue ship
From June 2017: Migrants from Africa arrive in Italy on a rescue ship

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that nearly 69 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced from their home in 2017. The number of displaced people has set a new world record each year for the last five years.

Of the 69 million total, 16.2 million were newly displaced in 2017, or more than 44,000 people per day. The High Commissioner, Filippo Grandi, said:

"The global figure has gone up again by a couple of million. This is because of protracted conflicts and lack of solutions for those conflicts that continue, continuous pressure on civilians in countries of conflict that pushed them to leave their homes and new or aggravating crises, like the Rohingya crisis."

The Rohingya crisis refers to the genocide and ethnic cleansing occurring in Burma (Myanmar), which has driven 905,000 ethnic Rohingyas from their homes in Rakhine State into refugee camps in Bangladesh. That's the fifth worst refugee crisis in the world today.

In fourth place is Venezuela, with 1.5 million refugees. The Socialist government has almost completely destroyed Venezuela's economy, forcing 1.5 million people from their homes into neighboring countries. More than 600,000 people are newly displaced in neighboring Colombia, with an estimated 3,000 people crossing the border each day in search of basic essentials and new opportunity.

In third place is South Sudan, with 2.1 million refugees, which is the largest refugee crisis in Africa. More than 4 million people have been uprooted from their homes since the start of a brutal civil war in 2013, including 2.1 million people who have been forced to cross into neighboring countries, the majority of them women and children.

In second place is Afghanistan, with 2.5 million refugees, who have been forced to leave the country for Iran, Pakistan or Europe.

In first place, the biggest refugee crisis in the world, is Syria, with 5.6 million refugees, where president Bashar al-Assad uses barrel bombs laced with chlorine gas specifically targeting women and children, and also used Sarin gas to kill large numbers of civilians.

The number of displaced persons has been a record every year for the last five years, and this increasing trend line is expected to continue. CBS News and U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Mercy Corps and Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (2004)

New techniques for ethnic cleansing and genocide

A new technique for committing ethnic cleansing and genocide is becoming increasingly common. The government violently attacks members of an ethnic or religious group, such as when they're peacefully protesting. Then when any members of the ethnic group react with violence to get revenge, then the government starts referring to millions of people in the ethnic group, including women and children, as "terrorists," and starts performing ethnic cleansing, forcing millions of people into neighboring countries. This is currently happening in Syria and Burma (Myanmar), and in Cameroon to a lesser extent.

The growing use of new techniques for committing ethnic cleansing and genocide is part of a global increase in violent wars. In 2004, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reported that the number of wars in the world was decreasing, and that 2003 had seen the fewest number of armed conflicts in 14 years, except for 1997. But since 2003, we've seen the number of armed conflicts increase, creating record numbers of displaced persons and refugees, overwhelming resources in many countries.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is what happens during a generational Crisis era, which began in 2003. A country enters a generational Crisis era when the survivors of the previous generational crisis war, in this case World War II, all disappear (retire or die). Examination of hundreds of examples throughout history shows that this happens 58 years after the end of the previous crisis war, and 2003 is 58 years after 1945, the end of World War II.

For years I've been writing how nationalism and xenophobia have been growing in Europe, America, and in countries around the world in a generational Crisis era. A related phenomenon is the overwhelming increase in migrants and refugees, which further stokes nationalism and xenophobia.

The same thing happened in the last generational Crisis era, in the 1930s. In July 1938, 32 nations met for a conference to address the problem of hundreds of thousands of German and Austria Jews who were fleeing Naziism, or whom Hitler was expelling. Hitler actually mocked the conference participants in a speech when he said, "I can only hope and expect that the other world which has felt such deep sympathy for these criminals will be generous enough to transform this pity into practical aid. As far as I am concerned we are ready to place our luxury ships at the disposal of these countries for the transportation of these criminals." In the end, Europe, North America and Australia refused to take on refugees, saying that their population "density" had reached a point of "saturation."

After the war, the Europeans signed the 1957 Treaty of Rome where, having suffered the devastation of two world wars and fearing a third, the European survivors saw as a major cause of those world wars the same nationalism and xenophobia that's increasingly prevalent today.

There are some countries today that are successfully hosting large numbers of refugees, according to UNHCR. For the fourth consecutive year in 2017, Turkey hosted the largest number of refugees worldwide, with 3.5 million people. It was followed by Pakistan (1.4 million), Uganda (1.4 million), Lebanon (998,900), Iran (979,400), Germany (970,400), Bangladesh (932,200) and Sudan (906,600).

However, many other countries become overwhelmed by the large number of refugees, and are taking political action to block the arrival of refugees and migrants. This has been true in the United States for years, and it's becoming the policies of an increasing number of "populist" elections in Europe, in countries such as Italy and Hungary.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, these political attempts are futile. Even if some temporary solution could be found, the trend line of increasing migration is going to increase in this generational Crisis era, and any political solution that "solves" the problem this year will be overcome by more wars and new waves of migrants and refugees.

The increasing threat of 'unspeakable' violence from MS-13

Although forced displacement is a global problem, UNHCR is expressing special alarm at the sharp rise in forced displacement in Central America.

More than 294,000 asylum seekers and refugees from the North of Central America were registered globally as of the end of 2017, an increase of 58 per cent from a year earlier. This is sixteen times more people than at the end of 2011.

The vast majority of those fleeing El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, are seeking refugee protection either to the north in Belize, Mexico and the United States, or (and increasingly) to the south in Costa Rica and Panama. Many are vulnerable women, or children either unaccompanied by or who have become separated from their families.

Of particular concern are MS-13 gangs in Central America traveling to the United States. A federal task force in Boston announced in January 2016 the dismantling of several local branches of the MS-13 street gang, including 56 gang members, a third of MS-13's Massachusetts membership.

Described by federal officials as being guilty of unspeakable violence and enormous cruelty, the gang targets middle and high schoolers for initiation, officials said, especially Chelsea, East Boston and Everett high schools. The initiation requires the student to commit crimes, and to become a full-fledged member requires the commission of a significant crime, usually the murder of a rival gang member.

According to a Francesca Fontanini, a Mexico-based UNHCR spokesman, refugees from Central America come to escape violence:

"The people who are coming are saying that the level of violence is brutal – they are basically confined to their own houses because there is a lack of freedom. It is very dangerous to go to school, to go to church, to move around. They are living in very traumatized and violent circumstances."

Unfortunately, if they become refugees in the United States, they're targeted by the same MS-13 gangs and the same brutal violence that they had hoped to escape from. UNHCR and Boston Globe (29-Jan-2016) and Boston Globe (29-Jan-2016) and Guardian (London, 22-May) and Institute for Research on Public Policy Policy (Canada)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Jun-18 World View -- Europe and North America overwhelmed by growing migration crisis thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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20-Jun-18 World View -- Saudi coalition claims to have captured airport in Yemen's Hodeidah

United Nations renews its peace plan proposal

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Saudi coalition claims to have captured airport in Yemen's Hodeidah


Tribal Yemeni fighter in town of al-Bayda on May 9 (The National)
Tribal Yemeni fighter in town of al-Bayda on May 9 (The National)

The news agencies of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are reporting that troops from the Saudi-led military coalition have taken control of a large part of the airport in Yemen's port city of Hodeidah on Tuesday, recapturing it from Iran-backed Houthi rebels that have controlled the port since 2015.

This comes a week after the coalition began large-scale ground operations against the port city, supported by air and naval forces, as we described in "15-Jun-18 World View -- Saudi Arabia and UAE launch a 'catastrophic' assault on Port Hodeidah in Yemen."

However, the road that leads from the airport to Hodeidah's city center is heavily populated, and there is still heavy ground fighting going on with the Houthis, with the coalition fighters supported by close air support from Apache helicopter gunships.

Capturing the airport is an important first step for the coalition in recapturing the port city, but a lot more is necessary. Hodeidah is densely population with around 600,000 people, and the Houthis are well entrenched within the population. It's feared that the urban house-to-house fighting will go on for months, just as we've already seen in the fights by Iraqi forces against ISIS in Mosul or the Kurdish YPG forces against ISIS in Raqqa in Syria. Similar urban fighting in Hodeidah could cost the lives of as many as 250,000 people, according to UN estimates.

It's not expected that the Saudi coalition will use the same tactics that Bashar al-Assad used in ejecting opposition rebels from Aleppo and Ghouta in Syria. Al-Assad used barrel bombs laced with chlorine gas specifically targeting women and children, and also used Sarin gas to kill large numbers of civilians. Even with the use of chemical weapons, those battles took several months. The National (UAE) and Reuters

United Nations renews its peace plan proposal

The fear of casualties resulting from the Saudi coalition assault on Hodeidah goes far beyond the possible casualties in the port city itself. NGOs use the port to import badly need humanitarian aid, including food, water and medicines, for 8 million Yeminis, out of a total population of 22 million. Many Yemenis are already on the verge of starvation, and the closure of the port for even a few days could be disastrous.

Somewhat miraculously, the port remained open on Tuesday, and the UN World Food Program was able to unload three ships containing enough food for six million people for one month.

Under Houthi control, NGOs had been able to bring humanitarian supplies through Hodeidah port. However, the Houthis charged NGOs steep license fees to dock their ships, so the port has been a major source of income for the Houthis. Furthermore, the port has been a lifeline for the Houthis war supplies including, allegedly, weapons systems provided by Iran.

For those reasons, losing control of the port would be a major setback for the Houthis, and have a significant negative impact on their war effort.

In the last few weeks, the United Nations had proposed a peace plan where UN peacekeeping forces would take control of the port, so that the fighting between the Saudi coalition and the Houthis could stop. However, the Houthis rejected that peace proposal, since control of the port is essential to their war effort.

The Saudi coalition are now demanding that the Houthis must withdraw completely from Hodeidah and hand over control to the UN.

UN special envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths, who has been in Yemen's capital city Sanaa negotiating with the Houthis, hopes to restart talks on a peace plan next month. Assuming that the Saudi coalition have control of the vital parts of Hodeidah, the hope is that the Houthis will yield control of the urban areas, rather than remain entrenched with a resulting bloodbath in urban fighting. Al-Jazeera and The National (UAE) and AFP

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Jun-18 World View -- Saudi coalition claims to have captured airport in Yemen's Hodeidah thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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19-Jun-18 World View -- Russia-Israel alliance grows, while Russia-Iran alliance frays in Syria

Israeli airstrike on Syria-Iraq border kills dozens of Shia militia fighters

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israeli airstrike on Syria-Iraq border kills dozens of Shia militia fighters


Benjamin Netanyahu and Vladimir Putin at a joint press conference in Sochi (AFP)
Benjamin Netanyahu and Vladimir Putin at a joint press conference in Sochi (AFP)

An airstrike on Iraqi Shia militias on Sunday evening killed dozens of fighters supporting the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. The airstrike targeted a position in Syria's Deir az-Zour province, near the border with Iraq.

Syrian media blamed the US-led coalition for the airstrike. According to the report from Syrian media SANA, the fighters were from the regime army, and they were fighting ISIS:

"A military source said in a statement to SANA that the US-led coalition on Sunday targeted one of our military positions in the town of Al-Hiri, southeast of al-Boukamal city, leaving a number of martyrs and wounding other people. ...

The coalition has been targeting the military positions in a desperate attempt to raise the collapsed morale of the terrorist organizations due to the achievements of the Syrian army.

The field reports confirm that Washington provides Daesh [ISIS] organization with various kinds of support to prevent its collapse and invest it to keep its forces illegally in the Syrian territory and steal the economic resources in the eastern region through its mercenaries of terrorist groups."

By Monday evening, numerous reports have come up describing errors in the SANA report, essentially making it "fake news."

Most important, the US-led coalition had conducted no airstrikes in the region on Sunday evening, and the US military repeatedly denied that the US coalition had anything to do with the airstrike.

Second, there have been reports that the most likely force behind the airstrikes was the Israeli military. Israel is refusing comment, but unnamed Israeli military sources are confirming this off the record.

Israel rarely comments on its airstrikes in Syria, but prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Sunday that Israel is "already taking action" against Iran in Syria:

"Over the weekend I spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin and with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. We discussed regional issues and focused -- of course -- on Syria.

I reiterated our guiding principles regarding Syria. First of all, Iran needs to withdraw from all of Syria. Second, we will take action -- and are already taking action -- against efforts to establish a military presence by Iran and its proxies in Syria both close to the border and deep inside Syria. We will act against these efforts anywhere in Syria."

This statement by Netanyahu actually represents a bit of an expansion of previously announced policy. Previous policy indicated that Israeli airstrikes would be focused on southern Syria, along the border with the Israeli-governed Golan Heights. In Sunday's statement, Netanyahu made it clear that Israel will strike pro-Iranian targets anywhere in Syria. That statement clears up some confusion about whether Israel could have been responsible for the Sunday evening airstrike, whose target had been much deeper into Syria than previous Israeli airstrikes.

A final problem with the Sana story is that it wasn't clear about what forces the Israeli airstrikes were targeting. It has emerged that 40-50 militia fighters were killed, a combination of Syrian army forces, Iraqi Hezbollah forces, and Iran-backed members of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMU) umbrella organization, which takes its orders from Iran’s Al Qods chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani. SANA (Damascus) and CNN and Debka (Israel) and Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Russia-Israel alliance grows, while Russia-Iran alliance frays in Syria

Netanyahu's statement, quoted above, confirms something that's been increasingly clear for at least two years -- that Israel's alliance with Russia is growing, and that Russia is doing nothing to stop Israeli airstrikes on Iranian targets in Syria.

That Russia's relationship with Israel is getting closer couldn't have been demonstrated more clearly than when Russia openly accepted Jerusalem as Israeli's capital and on June 14 attended a celebration of Russia's Independence Day at a reception being held in Jerusalem.

Russia, Iran and Turkey formed an alliance in 2015 to support al-Assad in Syria's civil war, with each one taking on a different "assignment." But it's always been fairly certain that once these "assignments" were completed, then there would be no one left for them to fight except each other, since they all had different objectives.

Russia's objective was to establish Russian military bases in Syria, and it has accomplished that with naval and air bases. Iran's objective was to establish its own bases in Syria, where they could be used to launch attacks on Israel. Russia does not want Iran to have bases in Syria, and more important, Russia does not want a full-scale war between Iran and Israel.

Iran does have thousands of trainers, advisors, technicians and other support specialists to make the Syrian Army and their Iranian allies. According to one estimate, Iran supervises over 50,000 mercenary forces in Syria, mainly Shias from Afghanistan and Lebanon. As we reported in 2015, al-Assad's army was near collapse, and was saved only through the intervention of Russian bombers and Iranian mercenaries.

As the role of the Iranian mercenaries winds down, Russia is demanding that "all foreign troops" (except themselves) leave Syria. Of course this is nominally directed at the Americans and Turks, but it's also directed at the Iranians. One thing most everyone can agree on, including most European and Middle Eastern nations, is that Iran should get out of Syria. Until that happens, the chances of a war between Israel and Iran in Syria will continue to grow. Al-Monitor and Strategy Page (12-June) and Spectator (UK) and Media Line

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Jun-18 World View -- Russia-Israel alliance grows, while Russia-Iran alliance frays in Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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18-Jun-18 World View -- India cancels ceasefire in Kashmir after one month

Controversial one-sided UN report on Kashmir condemns India



by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

India cancels ceasefire in Kashmir after one month


Indian army in Kashmir (PTI)
Indian army in Kashmir (PTI)

India announced on Sunday that it would not renew a month-old unilateral ceasefire in the Indian-controlled portions of Jammu and Kashmir. Instead, it will resume military operations against rebels whom it considers to be terrorists or suspected terrorists.

India had halted military operations on May 16, which was the start of the Ramadan, the annual Muslim fasting month. Jammu and Kashmir are Muslim-majority regions, and it was hoped that the ceasefire gesture would bring an end to the violence between Hindus and Muslims in Kashmir. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, such an outcome was 100% impossible.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh said:

"While the security forces have displayed exemplary restraint during this period, the terrorists have continued with their attacks, on civilians and SFs (security forces), resulting in deaths and injuries.

The security forces are being directed to take all necessary actions as earlier to prevent terrorists from launching attacks and indulging in violence."

The decision not to extend the ceasefire was made on Friday, during a high-level government meeting in New Delhi. The debate was won by the side opposing an extension because anti-government violence continued as usual during the month-long ceasefire, especially the assassination of veteran journalist Shujaat Bukhari and his two security guards on June 14. Bukhari was well-known as editor of the newspaper Rising Kashmir. The Hindu and AFP and Deccan Herald (India) and BBC

Controversial one-sided UN report on Kashmir condemns India

A report by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (ONCHR) condemns India's actions in Jammu and Kashmir as human rights violations.

The UN report describes the same sequence of events that I've been reporting on for two years. On July 8 2016, Burhan Wani, 22, the leader of anti-Indian separatist organization Hizbul Mujahideen, was killed in a gunfight with the Indian Army. This triggered massive anti-Indian protests and clashes with Indian police that killed 36 and left thousands injured.

These clashes continued into the fall, and then resumed again in the Spring of 2017. In all the clashes, Indian police responded with rubber bullets, leaving thousands of protesters wounded or killed or blinded by pellets.

The UN report described these incidents, but is rejected by India amid claims that the report is one-sided, and does not document the activities of Pakistan-supported terrorist groups in Kashmir.

However, the report is not completely silent on these terrorist groups. According to the UN report:

Since the late 1980s, a variety of armed groups has been actively operating in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, and there has been documented evidence of these groups committing a wide range of human rights abuses, including kidnappings, killings of civilians and sexual violence. The landscape of armed intervention by groups operating in Indian-Administered Kashmir has shifted over the years. In the 1990s, around a dozen significant armed groups were operating in the region; currently, less than half that number remain active. The main groups today include Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Hizbul Mujahideen and Harakat Ul-Mujahidin; they are believed to be based in Pakistan-Administered Kashmir. Hizbul Mujahideen is also part of the United Jihad Council, which began as a coalition of 14 armed groups in 1994, claiming to be fighting Indian rule in Kashmir, that was allegedly formed by Pakistan’s defence establishment. Despite the Government of Pakistan’s assertions of denial of any support to these groups, experts believe that Pakistan’s military continues to support their operations across the Line of Control in Indian-Administered Kashmir. Three of these armed groups (Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Harakat Ul-Mujahidin) are listed on the Security Council “ISIL (Da’esh) & Al-Qaida Sanctions List” for their activities in Indian-Administered Kashmir among other places."

It's true that the accusations of Pakistan-supported terrorism in Kashmir are far more tentative than the accusations of human rights violations by Indian security forces. But nobody escapes condemnation in this report.

As I described in the past, India's last two generational crisis wars were India's 1857 Rebellion, and the 1947 Partition war that followed the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, India, Pakistan and Kashmir are now in a new generational Crisis era, and headed for another war, re-fighting the 1947 Partition war. No Ramadan ceasefire has any chance of preventing this. UN OHCHR - Kashmir report and New Indian Express and Dawn (Pakistan) and Human Rights Watch

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Jun-18 World View -- India cancels ceasefire in Kashmir after one month thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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17-Jun-18 World View -- Italy's migration policy opens up battle lines within the EU

As Aquarius migrants head for Spain, Spain rescues 900 more migrants from Mediterranean

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

As Aquarius migrants head for Spain, Spain rescues 900 more migrants from Mediterranean


Migrants on the Aquarius (AP)
Migrants on the Aquarius (AP)

Spain's new prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, offered to take in 629 migrants who are on board the rescue ship Aquarius, as we described early last week, after both Italy and Malta refused to allow the vessel to dock in their ports.

That was after Italy's new interior minister, Matteo Salvini, had refused to allow the Aquarius to dock at an Italian port to allow the migrants to disembark, which had been the practice for several years.

The NGOs SOS Méditerranée and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) were concerned that if the Aquarius had to stay at sea for three or four more days to travel an additional 1,300 km to reach Spain, then the delay would be dangerous to the migrants, many of whom were ill and had come close to drowning when their rubber dinghies sank before the migrants were rescued by the Aquarius.

Nonetheless, the Aquarius began its journey to Valencia, Spain. In order to relieve the suffering on the Aquarius, Maltese and Italian navy ships resupplied the Aquarius with bottles of water, food packages and clothing for the 1,300km voyage. Furthermore, in an ironic twist, two Italian naval and coastguard vessels took on board 400 of the 629 migrants to relieve overcrowding, and now all three boats are expected to arrive in Valencia on Sunday.

Pope Francis had condemned Italy's decision to block the ship from port, denouncing acts that make the Mediterranean into "an anonymous grave." According to the Pope:

"The Aquarius, has been like a slap that has shaken our consciences and has put us on our feet to attend to those who knock at the door of the heart and the collective conscience of peoples and nations. And they call upon people of good will, and above all they call upon the humanitarian and Christian conscience."

The people of Valencia, Spain, are reportedly ready to welcome the migrants with food and shelter. Cardinal Antonio Cañizares of Valencia, after meeting with the pope, sent a message to the entire archdiocese of Valencia, said that the pope has thanked the diocese of Valencia for its generation. Cañizares quoted the pope as telling him:

"This is the path, don’t ever abandon it: that of charity; remain steady in charity, in the good example, in the light and the good taste of charity and works of charity. The pope is with you, with the diocese of Valencia."

After the migrants dock in Valencia, they will receive assistance and, eventually, be distributed across Spain.

In addition to the Aquarius, Spain's own vessels are rescuing hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean. Spain’s coast guard rescued 933 migrants and found four dead bodies in the Mediterranean Friday and Saturday. The rescues were from dozens of small dinghies in the Gibraltar strait, and in the Alboran Sea, between northeastern Morocco and southeastern Spain.

Spain's new Socialist government, led by prime minister Pedro Sánchez, has taken up the cause of the migrants' plight to demonstrate its commitment to protecting human rights and respecting international law. He can take that position when only a few hundred migrants are involved, but he may have to change his mind if there are tens or hundreds of thousands. Reuters and Crux Now and AP and Reuters

Italy's migration policy opens up battle lines within the EU

Italy’s new interior minister Matteo Salvini, who leads the far-right anti-immigrant party La Lega, doubled down on Saturday on his policy:

"Italy no longer wants to be an accomplice of human traffickers and contribute to the business of illegal immigration."

He said that in the course of blocking two additional NGO-operated ships flying Dutch flags, the Lifeline and Seefuchs. An NGO worker on one of the vessels posted a tweet referring to Salvini as a "fascist," though the tweet was taken down soon after. Salvini responded, "As a father and as a minister, they can attack and threaten me all they want, but I won’t give up and I’m doing it for everybody’s sake."

In fact, a recent poll shows that Salvini's anti-immigration policy is extremely popular, with 59% of Italians favoring it.

Furthermore, Italy's policies are achieving their goals, in that the number of people leaving Libya for Italy, 22,000 so far this year, is down an enormous 70% from the same period last year. The number that actually reach Italy is down even further, because Libya's coast guard is also performing rescue missions, and returning the migrants they rescue to Libyan soil, where they're put into brutal detention centers.

This is the result of an EU policy adopted last year, led by Italy's government, to revive Libya's coast guard. The Libyan coast guard had fallen into disrepair after the death in 2011 of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. But Italy has worked with officials in Libya to allow the Libyan coast guard to perform a large portion of the sea rescues.

This has created a competition between the NGOs and the Libyan coast guard, when they both arrived at the same scene with migrants in rubber dinghies facing drowning. In one instance, 20 migrants drowned in competition between an NGO and the Libya coast guard, competing to save dozens of migrants.

The result is that among the nine most prominent NGO rescue organizations, three have stopped or suspended their operations over the past year. A spokesman for the Aquarius says, "We will not enter into a battle with the Libyan coast guard, where people are armed." Instead, the Aquarius will stay on the horizon, watching from several miles away. "We had this situation several times, where we had to look completely helpless."

There are basic Generational Dynamics principles at work here. As I've written many times, it's a core principle of Generational Dynamics that, even in a dictatorship, major decisions are made by masses of people, by generations of people. The attitudes of politicians are irrelevant, except insofar as they represent the attitudes of the people.

So in the current situation, it's not Matteo Salvini who is making the decisions to adopt anti-immigrant policies. Salvini's policies have a 59% approval rating, and it's doubtful that he could implement any of them if their approval rating were only 30%. It's the people of Italy who are deciding these policies, first by electing MPs from Salvini's party, and then by approving of his policies.

Most people, even the most hard-hearted Scrooges, would say that they would like to see migrants, especially women and children, sheltered and fed, provided that it didn't cost anything. But the irony is that the humanitarian system that protects migrants, and feeds and shelters them, can get overwhelmed, and the costs become overwhelming as well, and that's the reason why voters turn against that humanitarian system. As Karl Marx might say, the humanitarian system contains the seeds of its own destruction.

The issue of migration is dealing one blow after another to the unity of the European Union. A lot of the motivation for Britain's affirmative vote on the Brexit referendum was to keep migrants out -- although I always like to point out many of the migrants that the British wish to keep out are not Muslims but are Christians from Eastern Europe, just as many Americans wish to keep out Christians from Latin America. Migration is far from being just a religious issue.

Germany's Angela Merkel has been widely condemned for her decision, in 2015, to encourage Syrian refugees to come to Germany. Her decision was based on the founding principles of the European Union and the 1957 Treaty of Rome where, having suffered the devastation of two world wars and fearing a third, the European survivors saw as a major cause of those world wars the same nationalism and xenophobia that's increasingly prevalent today.

Merkel's government may not survive the next two weeks. Merkel is now facing an open revolt from her own interior minister, Horst Seehofer. Seehofer wants Germany to adopt a policy to unilaterally to send back migrants who have registered in other European Union countries, which would amount to a rejection of all migrants into Germany. However, Merkel is standing her ground, saying, "This is a European challenge that also needs a European solution. And I view this issue as decisive for keeping Europe together." The MPs may not agree. Politico (EU) and Guardian (London) and Washington Post and Reuters

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Jun-18 World View -- Italy's migration policy opens up battle lines within the EU thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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16-Jun-18 World View -- Cameroon condemns scathing Amnesty report on government atrocities

Amnesty report documents increasing violence on both sides

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Cameroon condemns scathing Amnesty report on government atrocities


Cameroon Anglophone separatist
Cameroon Anglophone separatist

Cameroon's public relations (communications) minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary is condemning as "crude lies" an Amnesty International report accusing government security forces of summary killings, arrests and property destruction that amounts to ethnic cleansing.

As I've reported many times, the atrocities described in the report began in November 2016, when the Francophone (French-speaking) Cameroon government security forces began beating and killing peaceful anti-government demonstrators in the South Cameroons, the Anglophone (English-speaking) regions of Cameroon. The demonstrators were protesting systematic bias, discrimination and marginalization towards Anglophones by the Francophone government. For example, schoolteachers in the Anglophone regions were forbidden from teaching any courses in English.

The Cameroon government, led by the 85 year old president Paul Biya, has stepped up the torture, slaughter and other atrocities continually since then, with numerous videos and reports on social media documenting the atrocities. The level of atrocities ticked up considerably in October, when the Anglophone separatists demanded independence for the Southern Cameroons, calling it Ambazonia. This week, there has emerged a new video purporting to show Francophone soldiers forcing Anglophone teenage girls to crawl through mud in front of the Cameroon Protestant College, as the men jeer at the girls and refer to them as Ambazonians.

Last month when Peter Henry Barlerin, the US ambassador to Cameroon, said that "there have been targeted killings, detentions without access to legal support, family, or the Red Cross, and burning and looting of villages," Biya's spokesman Issa Tchiroma Bakary, said, "We do not accept the infantilization of the Cameroonian nation."

So after this week's Amnesty International report, this same spokesman Bakary said:

"[The report] is stuffed with crude lies, hasty deductions (and) slanderous, unacceptable maneuvering, which are part of a strategy of harassment and destabilization of our country in its fight against the terrorist threat."

That's how things are done these days. A country leader starts by massacring, raping, arresting, torturing, and slaughtering peaceful protesters of a particular class or ethnic group, and then when any one of them strikes back, then call them "terrorists" and perform genocide and ethnic cleansing on the whole groups. That's what Bashar al-Assad has been doing in Syria, and that's what Burma's leaders have been doing to the Rohingyas in Burma. If somebody complains, then the leader's trolls say that "no evidence exists" of atrocities. AFP and Bareta News (includes video) and SCBC TV (Ambazonia)

Amnesty report documents increasing violence on both sides

There are increasing reports that the Anglophones are forming their own army called the Ambazonia Defense Forces, with about 1,500 people spread around 20 camps in the Anglophone regions. In most cases, the people are farmers who had been forced to leave their villages, armed with hunting rifles that are made in Nigeria.

The Amnesty report that the government calls "crude lies" is based on interviews with over 150 victims and eye-witnesses. The burning of villages and other ethnic cleansing can be seen in satellite images.

The report documents how Cameroon's Francophone military responded responded to the Anglophone demonstrations:

"Cameroon’s military has responded to these protests with arbitrary arrests, torture, unlawful killings and destruction of property. In one striking incident, satellite images and other photographic evidence obtained by Amnesty International show the complete destruction of the village of Kwakwa, which was burned to the ground by Cameroonian security forces following an operation conducted in December 2017 in connection with the killing of two gendarmes by suspected armed separatists.

In some cases, following these security operations, people were arbitrarily arrested and tortured while detained in illegal detention facilities and in secret. For instance, at least 23 people, including minors, were arrested by the security forces in the village of Dadi on 13 December 2017 and spent three days in incommunicado detention. They told Amnesty International that during this time security forces tortured them to extract “confessions”, to force them to admit having supported the separatists.

Victims described being blindfolded and severely beaten with various objects including sticks, ropes, wires and guns, as well as being electrocuted and burnt with hot water. Some were beaten until they lost consciousness, and Amnesty International documented that at least one person has died in custody."

Ambazonian separatists have been increasingly attacking Cameroon security personally. Between September 2017 and May 2018, at least 44 members of the security forces were killed in attacks at checkpoints, in the streets, or on their duty stations in the Anglophone region.

"Towards the end of 2017, the situation quickly deteriorated. In October, demonstrations organized across the Anglophone regions to celebrate the symbolic independence from the country's French-speaking areas were met with unlawful and excessive and deadly force. Cameroonian security forces shot dead 20 peaceful protesters, by firing indiscriminately on crowds, including from helicopters. Dozens of wounded protesters ran away from hospitals in mid-treatment out of fear of being arrested. Hundreds were arrested, and thousands fled their homes, becoming internally displaced or refugees in Nigeria. ...

Armed separatists have attacked security forces, especially gendarmes and police, killing at least 44 of them between September 2017 and May 2018, in both the North West and South West regions. In one of the most recent attacks, on 1 February 2018, in the locality of Mbingo, in the North West region, two gendarmes manning a checkpoint were stabbed to death by a group of young armed separatists.

Ordinary people have been targeted too. Teachers and students accused of not participating in the boycott have been physically assaulted, and at least 42 schools have been attacked by armed separatists from February 2017 to May 2018 in both the North West and South West regions. ...

In addition, armed separatists have attacked ordinary people – including traditional chiefs - perceived as being informants of the Cameroonian security forces."

Cameroon's last generational crisis war was the "UPC Revolt," 1956-1960, which was a bloody civil war by communists attacking the French government in the Cameroun colony. The outcome was independence in 1961, when the British Cameroons colony and the French Cameroun colony were merged into a single country, and the Anglophones became a disadvantaged and marginalized minority. Today, the Anglophone regions are known as the "Southern Cameroons."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, examination of hundreds of examples throughout history shows that 58 years after the end of a previous generational crisis war, the society or nation enters a generational Crisis era, and a new crisis war can begin, and becomes increasingly likely in each year after that. 58 years is the length of time before the generations that survived the previous crisis war and have personal memories of its atrocities disappear, either retiring or dying. After that, the younger generations are completely in control, and have no fear of another war.

The year 2018 is exactly 58 years after the end of the "UPC Revolt" civil war. That doesn't mean that a new civil war will begin this year, but it does mean that the probability of a new civil war is significantly higher than it was last year. The events in Cameroon in the last nine months show that Cameroon is certainly headed in that direction. Amnesty International and Radio France International

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Jun-18 World View -- Cameroon condemns scathing Amnesty report on government atrocities thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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15-Jun-18 World View -- Saudi Arabia and UAE launch a 'catastrophic' assault on Port Hodeidah in Yemen

Houthis increase missile attacks on Saudi cities

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Saudi Arabia and UAE launch a 'catastrophic' assault on Port Hodeidah in Yemen


Fighters in Saudi-led coalition (Reuters)
Fighters in Saudi-led coalition (Reuters)

Large-scale ground operations, supported by the air and naval forces of the Saudi-led coalition, began to move in on Yemen's port city of Hodeidah on Tuesday, with the objective of regaining control of the city from the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who captured it in 2015. The war in Yemen has been largely a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) versus Iran since it began in 2015.

The Hodeidah deep sea port on the Red Sea has become a crucial asset to the Houthi's war effort. NGOs use the port to import badly need humanitarian aid, including food, water and medicines, for 8 million Yeminis. The Houthis control these imports, and charge duties that fund their war efforts. Furthermore, the Houthis use the port to import Iranian weapons for the war effort.

The internationally recognized government of Yemen is led by President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, who has been hiding out in Saudi Arabia because of the war with the Houthis. While the Houthis are backed by Iran, Hadi's government is backed by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE).

According to a statement issued by Hadi earlier this week:

"The liberation of Hodeidah port is a turning point in our struggle to recapture Yemen from the militias that hijacked it to serve foreign agendas.

The liberation of the port is the start of the fall of the Houthi militia and will secure marine shipping in Bab al-Mandab strait and cut off the hands of Iran, which has long drowned Yemen in weapons that shed precious Yemeni blood."

The Saudis are hoping that the recapture of Hodeidah will force the Houthis to sue for peace in the proxy war. However, many others aren't so sure, as numerous previous Saudi predictions of an end to the war have turned out to be false.

The great fear is that the urban fighting in Hodeidah will be a new catastrophe, in a repeat of the kinds of assaults that Bashar al-Assad conducted in Syria's cities of Aleppo and Ghouta. In fact, the assault on Hodeidah may have to go on for weeks or months, just like the assaults on Aleppo and Ghouta. According to Lise Grande, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen:

"A military attack or siege on Hodeidah will impact hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. In a prolonged worst case, we fear that as many as 250,000 people may lose everything - even their lives."

In fact, the ground forces being used by the Saudis have little experience in urban fighting. They consist of Emirati and Sudanese forces, as well as a combination of Yemeni groups -- some loyal to President Abdo Mansour al Hadi, others loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and some advocates of Southern Yemen secession.

The fact that they include militias loyal to Ali Abdullah Saleh has some significance. Saleh used to be fighting on the side of the Houthis, and tribes loyal to Saleh were supporting the Houthis. However, the Houthis ambushed and killed Saleh in December of last year, after Saleh, sickened by the massive war deaths, called on both the Houthis and Saudis to end the war, an act that the Houthis called betrayal. So now the tribes formerly supporting Saleh have switched sides from the Houthis to the Saudis, and this may be one of the reasons that the Saudis are hopeful that Hodeidah can be captured quickly.

Since the beginning of the war, the American and British governments have providing weapons and logistics support to the Saudis, and they continue to do so. However, both governments are pressuring the Saudis to reduce civilian casualties, and are warning the Saudis of the consequences of a potential humanitarian disaster. Middle East Eye and Australian Broadcasting and Brookings and Middle East Eye (12-Jun)

Houthis increase missile attacks on Saudi cities

The war in Yemen sharply escalated three months ago, when the Houthis began attacking Saudi cities with missiles. The missiles have no guidance systems, and the Saudis were able to destroy many of the incoming missiles using defensive American-supplied Patriot missiles, but not all, as there have been some Saudi civilian casualties.

On Saturday, the Houthis fired a "projectile" into Saudi Arabia, killing three civilians. According to a Saudi military spokesman:

"The terrorist Iranian-Houthi militia has targeted civilians with a projectile. ...

The Joint Forces Command of the coalition will strike with an iron fist all those who threaten the safety and security of Saudi nationals, residents and critical capabilities."

The Saudis fear that the Houthis will obtain sophisticated missiles with guidance systems from Iran. This is one of the reasons why they wish to take control of the Hodeidah port.

A Houthi statement warned commercial ships in the Red Sea, one of the world’s most important trade routes, to stay 20 miles from coalition warships or potentially face attack. Reuters and Middle East Eye (9-Jun)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Jun-18 World View -- Saudi Arabia and UAE launch a 'catastrophic' assault on Port Hodeidah in Yemen thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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14-Jun-18 World View -- After the Kim-Trump summit, US and N. Korea plan denuclearization details

After the summit, North Korea must make the next move

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Media coverage of Kim-Trump summit is bizarre to the point of lunacy


Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump shake hands in Singapore on Tuesday (AP)
Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump shake hands in Singapore on Tuesday (AP)

The vitriolic hatred between the left and the right began in the George W Bush administration and has been growing steadily since then in a worsening trend that shows no sign of leveling off. In the media, it's been clear for years that journalists in general have no idea what's going on in the world, and particularly have no idea what President Donald Trump is doing. For example, one Business Insider news story, apparently written by someone on Mars, says that the summit means that henceforth the world will be ruled by Beijing, not by Washington.

For some reason, everything that Trump says and does makes sense to me. That doesn't mean he doesn't make mistakes, but it still makes sense. And that certainly wasn't true of Obama, who never made any sense to me at all, and the results speak for themselves. I believe that the reason that everything that Trump does makes sense to me is because of Steve Bannon, who is an expert on Generational Dynamics, and who used to be Trump's principal advisor, and is now, according to some reports, an informal advisor.

Very little of the media coverage of the summit makes any sense since everyone seems to be completely baffled by Trump, which is why I make a point of saying that what Trump does makes sense to me. The pundits on the left make bizarre claims that Kim is making a fool of Trump. I remember particularly when Trump canceled the summit a couple of weeks ago, Nancy Pelosi said that Kim was having a "giggle fit" over Trump's naïveté. This woman is so incredibly stupid, she should be locked up in order to protect her from herself. But pundits on the right aren't too much better, since they're equally baffled by Trump, and seem reduced to expressing hope that everything all works out.

So let's take a look at some of the media coverage of the summit, and see if we can figure out what's really going on:

Recall that I've said in the past that the North Koreans have had one and only one objective: Use diplomacy to force the Trump administration to lift the sanctions, while continuing nuclear weapons and missile development.

Kim has completely failed in this objective. They had wanted, at this point, for Trump to be on the defensive, and force him to make a concession, specifically to reduce the sanctions. Trump has defeated that objective in advance by canceling the war games.

The only way that Trump could "lose" this summit, is if he suddenly agreed to remove sanctions. That would be a diplomatic disaster. Washington Post and Business Insider

After the summit, North Korea must make the next move

Remarkably, the ball is now in North Korea's court to make a concession -- to provide the details for how they will denuclearize according to the CVID template -- complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization. If Kim can't come through, then the war games will be back on, and the situation will return to square one. Also, Kim would receive extreme paternal disapproval from Trump.

When Trump canceled the summit three weeks ago, the mainstream media were completely baffled, and the left referred to Trump as a senile, inexperienced idiot. I wrote that canceling the summit was a major diplomatic victory for Trump. ( "25-May-18 World View -- North Korea suffers diplomatic defeat as Trump cancels summit")

That turned out to be exactly right, as the North Koreans immediately started suing to get the summit back on track.

Trump's objective is to get the North to denuclearize. As I said, everything Trump does makes sense to me, and everything that Trump has done with respect to this negotiation has been exactly right. If it's possible to get the North to denuclearize, then Trump has done what needs to be done to accomplish that goal.

But the bottom line is that I believe that it's not possible to get North Korea to denuclearize, for reasons I've given repeatedly in the past. Here's a summary:

There are basic Generational Dynamics principles at work here.

First, it's a core principle of Generational Dynamics that, even in a dictatorship, major decisions are made by masses of people, by generations of people. The attitudes of politicians are irrelevant, except insofar as they represent the attitudes of the people. The reason that generational theory works is that population generations are almost completely predictable, irrespective of what politicians want. In this case, it means that decision to denuclearize will be made by the people, not by Kim.

Second, Generational Dynamics tells us that there are many problems that have no solution. By that I do not mean that no politician has yet been clever enough to solve the problem. What I mean is that no solution exists.

The denuclearization of North Korea is such a problem. If there were a solution to this problem, then what Trump is doing would be a solution, but it's not, since no solution exists. The Hankyoreh (Seoul) and Channel News Asia

President Trump says 'Sleep well tonight!'

On Wednesday morning, President Trump tweeted the following:

"Before taking office people were assuming that we were going to War with North Korea. President Obama said that North Korea was our biggest and most dangerous problem. No longer - sleep well tonight!"

In 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returned from a meeting with Hitler and made his famous declaration that has echoed through time:

"My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour.

I believe it is peace for our time.

Go home and get a nice quiet sleep."

It later turned out that Hitler was planning war with Britain on the same day that he met with Chamberlain.

To say that President Trump's tweet is eerie would not be an overstatement. I wonder if Trump is unaware of the connection, or if he is aware but wanted to try a little dark humor. Washington Times

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Jun-18 World View -- After the Kim-Trump summit, US and N. Korea plan denuclearization details thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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13-Jun-18 World View -- Vietnam government surprised by widespread anti-China and anti-government protests

Anti-government protests grow in Vietnam along with anti-China protests

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Vietnam government surprised by widespread anti-China and anti-government protests


Anti-China protests in Vietnam.  'Haiyang 981' is the name of the Chinese oil rig in Vietnam's territorial waters (AP)
Anti-China protests in Vietnam. 'Haiyang 981' is the name of the Chinese oil rig in Vietnam's territorial waters (AP)

Protests erupted in cities across Vietnam on Sunday, triggered by a government proposed bill to implement new special economic zones (SEZs) that would allow land to be leased to foreign investors for a 99-year periods. Although the bill did not mention China, the protesters claimed that the bill would allow Chinese enclaves within Vietnam.

Tens of thousands of protesters had occupied buildings in Hanoi, the capital city, and in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh city), with large rallies in other cities, including solidarity protests held abroad in Paris and Tokyo.

There's a growing animosity towards China in Vietnam because of China's belligerent actions in the South China Sea. These actions include China's deployment of an oil rig in Vietnam's own territorial waters, in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and then China's use of its vast military power to block Vietnam from exploring for oil in its own territorial waters.

China's actions were declared illegal in 2016 by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, which ruled that all of China's activities in the South China Sea are illegal and in violation of international law. But China has ignored international law, and has been doing what the Nazis did -- using military force to annex regions belonging to other countries.

China deployed its oil rig in Vietnamese waters in 2014, and beginning May 11 of that year, Vietnam erupted in anti-China protests, resulting in Chinese businesses and factories being attacked and damaged. The protests were fed by video in the Vietnamese media showing Chinese coast guard ships and Naval vessels attacking Vietnamese fishing vessels in Vietnam's own territorial waters.

With China seizing Vietnamese areas in the South China Sea, the idea that China would have control of Vietnamese land as well has struck a nerve in many Vietnamese people, triggering the protests on Sunday.

The dictatorial Communist government of Vietnam is not normally responsive to public opinion, but in this case were caught by surprise by how widespread the protests on Sunday were. If they had occurred only in Hanoi, the government would have controlled them, but the government was unprepared to try to control protests across the country.

The Communist government is reacting by demanding the social networking systems like Facebook, Twitter and Google provide user identification to the government when demanded. This has provoked additional protests.

China's government is warning Chinese citizens in Vietnam to take safety precautions. Vietnam Express and South China Morning Post (7-Jun) and Diplomat (12-May-2015) and Australian Broadcasting

Anti-government protests grow in Vietnam along with anti-China protests

As I described in 2014 in my Generational History of Vietnam, Vietnam has historically fought many wars against the Chinese. The most important was the Tay-Son rebellion, 1771-1790, the most celebrated military event in Vietnamese history. In its explosive climax in 1789, the Vietnamese troops repelled a much larger Chinese army in a brilliant battle that united the country for the first time.

Although the Tay-Son rebellion united the country at the time, Vietnam is basically two different countries, with two different ethnic origins, where North Vietnam (Vietnamese Kingdom) was originally populated by ethnic Chinese, while South Vietnam (Champa Kingdom) was populated by Polynesian settlers from Indonesia and Malaysia. These ethnic differences resulted in one ethnic crisis civil war after another, the most recent one being America's "Vietnam War" that ended in 1974. From the point of view of Vietnam's history, America was almost completely irrelevant in that war, as it was really a civil war between two different ethnic cultures.

Although Vietnam's civil war ended in 1975, the enmity between the North and South Vietnamese has not disappeared. This was particularly apparent in 2006, when President George Bush visited Vietnam. As his limousine traveled through the streets of Saigon, the capital city of South Vietnam, young people lined the streets cheering wildly. Although the Communist government has renamed the city Ho Chi Minh city, many of the residents refuse to use that name and call it by its historic name, Saigon.

Sunday's protests were not just anti-China; they were also anti-government protests demanding greater democracy. Some protestors carried banners reading “Returning Autonomy For [the] People.” Another placard stated the protest was against the National Assembly’s violation of the Constitution. The weekend protests may raise more awareness about land rights issues, especially the confiscation of land by the government. There's also a general suspicion that the Communist government in Hanoi is making deals with China's government in Beijing for its own benefit. Asia Times and Radio Free Asia and BBC (2-Jun)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Jun-18 World View -- Vietnam government surprised by widespread anti-China and anti-government protests thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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12-Jun-18 World View -- Spain's offer to take in Aquarius migrants is rejected as dangerous to migrants

Italy cries victory, portending a growing EU migrant crisis this summer

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Spain's offer to take in Aquarius migrants is rejected as dangerous to migrants


 Italy's new interior minister Matteo Salvini (center) savors his victory
Italy's new interior minister Matteo Salvini (center) savors his victory

On Monday, Spain's new prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, offered to take in the 629 migrants on board the rescue vessel Aquarius, after both Italy and Malta refused to allow the vessel to dock in their ports.

The Aquarius, which is owned by the NGO SOS Méditerranée, operating under the direction of the Italian Coast Guard, picked up up the 629 migrants in six different rescue operations off Libya's coast on Sunday. The migrants include 123 children and seven pregnant women.

After rescuing the 629 migrants, the Aquarius expected to dock, as usual, at a port on the Italian island of Sicily, where they could make asylum requests. Instead, Matteo Salvini, interior minister in Italy's new anti-immigrant coalition government, ordered that the Aquarius be refused permission to dock at an Italian port, and demanded that the ship dock at Malta, saying "The Good Lord put Malta closer to African shores than Sicily."

However, Malta refused to allow the Aquarius to dock, saying that the migrants were from Libya, and therefore Italy's responsibility.

With the Aquarius running out of food and water, and with a number of migrants requiring medical attention, the ship was stranded in the Mediterranean Sea, about halfway between the islands of Malta and Sicily.

On Monday afternoon, the office of Spain's prime minister Pedro Sánchez issued this statement:

"The Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, has given instructions for Spain to comply with its international commitments in matters of humanitarian crises, and has announced that a Spanish port will welcome the Aquarius, in which 600 people have been abandoned to their fate in the Mediterranean. ... It is our duty to help avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and offer a safe port to these people, to comply with our human rights obligations."

The offer was extended to dock in either Valencia or Barcelona. Valencia is about 1,300 km from the Aquarius's current location, and so would require two or three days to reach that destination.

However, organizers of the rescue mission, including NGOs SOS Méditerranée and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) are insisting that the Aquarius be permitted to dock in Italy immediately, for two reasons.

First, the conditions on the ship are becoming increasingly desperate, as it's overcrowded and there's a short of blankets, clean clothes, food, and water. A 2-3 day trip in potentially stormy weather would be dangerous to the migrants.

Second, the NGOs would like the ship to dock immediately, so that the ship can continue to pick up the "migrants and refugees that leave Libya in boats every day."

However, as of Monday evening, the Aquarius has received no further instructions, and is still stranded in the same place as on Sunday evening. The Spain Report and Euro News and BBC

Italy cries victory, portending a growing EU migrant crisis this summer

The peak summer migrant season is beginning, which is a huge business where a lot of people are making a lot of money. Human traffickers charge migrants in Libya thousands of dollars each to make the trip to Europe. The fill each rubber dinghy with migrants to overcapacity, and send it out into the Mediterranean Sea. There is no intention that the rubber dinghy reach Europe directly. The dinghy will run out of gas just a few miles out, and then a rescue boat like the Aquarius is expected to rescue the migrants. Sometimes they're rescued, and sometimes they drown. In some cases, it's believed that the human traffickers notify an NGO that a dinghy is coming, and then the NGO gets a kickback for rescuing the migrants.

In past years, Italy has begged the EU for help, as thousands of migrants pour into the country each day. There was supposed to be a plan to distribute migrants to all 28 EU member countries, but many countries refused to accept any migrants at all. In past years, Italy's previous government had threatened to close all its ports to the migrant rescue ships, but they never did it.

So now Italy's interior minister Matteo Salvini is taking a hardline stance, saying that he would not allow Italy to become "Europe’s refugee camp." He is threatening to go through with the threat to close all its ports to migrant rescue ships. This risks precipitating a full-blown crisis with the EU.

The EU is still holding meeting on distributing migrants to other countries, but getting nowhere. Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel said,

"If we are unable to come up with a common response to the migration challenges, the very foundations of the EU will be at stake. Action is really needed."

However, there seems little likelihood that anything can be accomplished. The migration problem has been the main issue that has resulted in the election of new "populist" candidates in Italy and elsewhere. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the increased xenophobia and nationalism resulting from the migration issue is extremely dangerous and destabilizing for the entire European Union. Reuters and Politico (EU) and Guardian (London) and Daily Express (London)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Jun-18 World View -- Spain's offer to take in Aquarius migrants is rejected as dangerous to migrants thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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11-Jun-18 World View -- EU faces new crisis as Italy demands that Malta accept African migrants

Malta refuses to accept migrants, says it 'adheres to all obligations'

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

EU faces new crisis as Italy demands that Malta accept African migrants


Rescue vessel carrying migrants (SOS Méditerranée)
Rescue vessel carrying migrants (SOS Méditerranée)

Italy is closing its ports to a migrant rescue ship with 629 migrants, including 123 children and seven pregnant women, and is demanding that the migrants disembark at a port in Malta.

SOS Méditerranée, which runs the Aquarius, picked up the 629 migrants in six different rescue operations off Libya's coast on Sunday. Standard practice in the past has been to dock at a port in Italy, and allow the migrants to be taken in by Italy.

Italy's new policy comes about following the formation of a "populist" government coalition between two parties, the left-wing Five Star Movement (M5S), and the right-wing La Lega (The (Northern) League). The two parties different on many issues, but they formed a coalition based on their shared anti-euro, anti-EU and anti-immigrant policies, as well as lacking any fiscal discipline. Matteo Salvini, the leader of La Lega and now interior minister in Italy's new coalition government, has promised that Italy will deport half a million illegal immigrants living in Italy.

Salvini has said that migrant rescue organizations act like "water taxis," and he has previously accused migrant rescue organizations like SOS Méditerranée of begin in cahoots with human traffickers. According to accusations that have been aired by some officials in the past, rescue organizations coordinate with human traffickers and then take a share of the profits. These accusations have been denied.

On Sunday, Salvini said the following:

"[Italy is saying] no to human trafficking, no to the business of illegal immigration.

Malta takes in nobody. France pushes people back at the border, Spain defends its frontier with weapons.

It is not possible for Malta to say 'no' to every request for help. The Good Lord put Malta closer than Sicily to Africa."

Salvini also says that he is considering legal action against organizations rescuing migrants at sea.

On Saturday, 400 other rescued migrants were disembarked in the Italian ports of Reggio Calabria and Pozzallo, after Malta refused to let them disembark there.

Referring to the authorities in Malta, Salvini said, "God placed Malta closer to Africa than Sicily and it cannot continue saying no to rescue requests. ... If anyone thinks I’ll allow another summer of (migrant) landings, without lifting a finger – that is not what I will be doing as minister of the interior."

However, Leoluca Orlando, the mayor of Palmero, which is the capital city of the Italian island of Sicily, has announced that he will defy the orders coming from Salvini, and will allow the rescue boat to dock at the port of Palmero. BBC and Malta Today and Telegraph (London) and Guardian (London)

Malta refuses to accept migrants, says it 'adheres to all obligations'

On Friday, the government of Malta after Malta reportedly refused a request from the Italian coast guard to assist with some 180 migrants in its capacity as the nearest safe port of call to the boat in distress.

Salvini said:

"The Good Lord put Malta closer to African shores than Sicily, Malta cannot always say ‘no’ to any request to intervene,”

[The vessel] waves as it sails past Malta and then lands in Italy. This is a mockery."

The government of Malta is deflecting any questions about whether it has ever accepted any migrants. In an interview on the BBC World Service, a government official refused to deny that the number of migrants it has taken in is "zero."

Malta's Home Affairs Minister Michael Farrugia said the following:

"Malta adheres to all its obligations at all times. With regards to Search and Rescue, Malta acts in accordance to the international conventions that apply. Malta will continue to respect these conventions with respect to the Safety of Life at Sea, as happened in this latest case and indeed in each case."

Malta said the rescue operations took place in international waters off Libya and were coordinated by Italy, and therefore, "Malta is neither the competent nor the coordinating authority in this case. Malta will observe prevailing laws."

As of Sunday evening, the rescue vessel Aquarius, with 639 rescued migrants on board, was 27 miles northeast of Malta, in international waters "awaiting orders." Independent (Malta) and Malta Today

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10-Jun-18 World View -- Afghan Taliban launches multiple terror attacks, then declares farcical ceasefire

Special Inspector General issues scathing report on US military in Afghanistan

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Taliban launches multiple terror attacks on Afghan security forces


American soldiers in Camp Bost in Helmand Province, Afghanistan (Getty)
American soldiers in Camp Bost in Helmand Province, Afghanistan (Getty)

Afghan terrorists launched multiple coordinated attacks on Afghan security forces on Friday and Saturday. Almost 50 security force members were killed in Kunduz, Herat and Sar-e-Pul provinces.

According to officials, the Afghan National Army launched operations in eight other provinces against insurgents, killing over 80 Taliban and ISIS militants on Friday and Saturday.

The Taliban announced the beginning of its Spring Fighting Season in mid-May, and clashes and attacks have increased noticeably across the country, resulting in a rise in casualties among security and defense force members. Tolo News (Afghanistan) and Express Tribune (Pakistan) and Khaama (Afghanistan)

The Taliban issues a farcical 3-day ceasefire statement

On Saturday, the Taliban issued a farcical statement declaring a 3-day ceasefire. As usual, Afghan and American political and military officials are leaping to the bait, hoping that this is a sign that the Taliban are ready for a "negotiated settlement." Here are some excerpts:

"Directives of the Leader for the Mujahideen during Eid days

In the name of Allah, most Compassionate, most Merciful

In order that our countrymen participate in Eid prayers and other festivities with complete confidence during the joyous days of Eid, the Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate must strictly comply with the following directives:

1 – All Mujahideen are directed to cease all offensive operations against the domestic opposition forces during the first, second and third day of Eid however if Mujahideen are attacked, they must defend with their utmost capability.

2 – Foreign occupiers are excluded from the above order. Continue your operations against them and target them wherever and whenever you find an opportunity. ...

5 – The Mujahideen should not participate in civilian congregations where there could be a danger of airstrikes so that our inhumane enemy will not be able to use it as an excuse for their blind bombardments and civilian tragedies."

The phrase "the domestic opposition forces" refers to the Afghan security forces.

So, the Taliban issues this statement declaring a 3-day ceasefire against "the domestic opposition forces" at the same time that it's conducting massive coordinated terror attacks against those same forces.

Furthermore, the "foreign occupiers," referring to the US-led coalition forces, are not included in the ceasefire.

The Taliban have repeatedly said that their objective is to force the US-led coalition forces to leave, after which they would easily defeat "the domestic opposition forces" in many parts of the country. Tolo News (Afghanistan) and Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and Long War Journal

Special Inspector General issues scathing report on US military in Afghanistan

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has issued a "lessons learned" report for 2018 on the US experience in trying to implement a stabilization strategy in Afghanistan. The report says that pretty much everything the US forces did in Afghanistan was a failure, and that's a conclusion I agree with.

Before providing excerpts, let me remind long-time readers that I've been writing for almost ten years that a simple Generational Dynamics analysis shows that any sort of victory or stabilization against the Taliban is literally impossible.

As I've explained many times, Afghanistan's last generational crisis war was the extremely bloody Afghan crisis civil war, 1991-96, which mostly pitted the ethnic Pashtuns, who are Sunni Muslims and later formed the Taliban, versus the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan. Now, twenty years later, Afghanistan is in a generational Awakening era, and a new young generation of Pashtuns is coming of age, raised on stories their parents told them about the atrocities committed by the Northern Alliance, and they're looking for revenge.

But you don't have to know anything about generational history to understand what's going on. You just have to understand that there was an extremely bloody, violent civil war in 1991-96, pitting the Pashtuns versus the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan. And you have to know that the Taliban are Pashtuns, and that young Pashtuns are looking for revenge for atrocities committed in the 1990s, and that Nato troops are completely irrelevant.

So even if the Taliban leaders agreed to some settlement, it would not satisfy their sons and daughters, who are not going to be deterred in their search for revenge. That's the way the world works.

The SIGAR report says, in many many words, that the Afghan stabilization operation has been a disaster. Here's a summary of the report's conclusions:

"Between 2001 and 2017, U.S. government efforts to stabilize insecure and contested areas in Afghanistan mostly failed.

The U.S. government overestimated its ability to build and reform government institutions in Afghanistan as part of the stabilization strategy. During the 2009 Afghanistan strategy reviews, President Obama and his civilian and military advisors set in motion a series of events that fostered unrealistic expectations of what could be achieved. They also ensured the U.S. government’s stabilization strategy would not succeed, first with the rapid surge and then the rapid transition. Under immense pressure to quickly stabilize insecure districts, U.S. government agencies spent far too much money, far too quickly, in a country woefully unprepared to absorb it. Money spent was often the metric of success. As a result, programming sometimes exacerbated conflicts, enabled corruption, and bolstered support for insurgents.

Every organization and agency that worked on stabilization in Afghanistan suffered from personnel and programming deficits borne from rapid scaling, short tours, and the pressure to make quick progress. Even harder than finding available civilians and soldiers was finding qualified and experienced candidates who were trained and equipped to understand and navigate local political economies.

Stabilization is inherently political, but given DOD’s size and resources the military consistently determined priorities and chose to focus on the most insecure districts first. These areas were often perpetually insecure and had to be cleared of insurgents again and again. Civilian agencies, particularly USAID, were compelled to establish stabilization programs in fiercely contested areas that were not ready for them.

Because the coalition focused on the most insecure areas and rarely provided an enduring sense of security after clearing them, Afghans had little faith their districts would remain in government hands when the coalition eventually withdrew and were often too afraid to serve in local government. Implementing partners struggled to execute projects amid the violence, the coalition had very limited access to and understanding of prioritized communities, and U.S. government agencies were unable to adequately monitor and evaluate the projects that were implemented.

As a result, powerbrokers and predatory government officials with access to coalition projects became kings with patronage to sell, fueling conflicts between and among communities. In turn, Afghans who were marginalized in this competition for access and resources found natural allies in the Taliban, who used that support to divide and conquer communities the coalition was keen to win over."

To anyone who understands the generational analyses of Afghanistan that I've been writing for ten years, none of the SIGAR conclusions are a surprise at all. Stabilization didn't work because stabilization is impossible in Afghanistan for the generational reasons given, and that will continue into the future.

Nonetheless, US military forces said on Friday that the US military fight in Afghanistan will be intensified.

As I've written in the past, there may be a dynamic going on, where the American military makes statements that the public wants to hear, even though they don't contain a word of truth. Donald Trump and the military understand that this war cannot be won, but there's a larger purpose. As war with China and Pakistan approaches, president Trump wants to keep American troops active in Afghanistan, and to continue to maintain several American military bases in Afghanistan, including two air bases in Bagram and Kandahar International Airport. These bases will be valuable in any future war with China. Under these circumstances, having troops in Afghanistan is what matters, whether the Taliban are defeated or not. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) and AP

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I love this picture -- from Saturday's G-7 meeting


Picture from Saturday's G-7 meeting in Canada
Picture from Saturday's G-7 meeting in Canada

BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Jun-18 World View -- Afghan Taliban launches multiple terror attacks, then declares farcical ceasefire thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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9-Jun-18 World View -- Argentina faces major financial crisis as IMF loans it $50 billion

Protests grow against new IMF deal in Argentina

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Argentina faces major financial crisis as IMF loans it $50 billion


Protester holds up sign saying '[President] Macri + IMF = Poverty' (AFP)
Protester holds up sign saying '[President] Macri + IMF = Poverty' (AFP)

International Monetary Fund (IMF) has agreed to lend Argentina's government up to $50 billion over a three year period to help the country stanch a monetary crisis that could end in default. President Mauricio Macri felt he was forced to get help from the IMF, even though most Argentinian people are bitterly angry at the IMF for pulling the plug on a previous bailout. Anti-IMF protests have already begun, demanding that Macri back out of the agreement.

The current crisis was triggered earlier this year, when an interest rate increase by the American Federal Reserve caused the yield (interest rate) on American 10-year Treasury bonds to rise to 3% for the first time since January 2014. This action by the American central bank had a domino effect on the currencies of other countries. Investors that had purchased bonds issued by other countries suddenly had the choice of purchasing American 10-year bonds, normally considered one of the least risky investments in the world, at a higher interest rate than before.

The currencies of so-called "emerging market" countries were the hardest hit, including Turkey, Russia, Brazil and Mexico. But Argentina, with an inflation rate of 21% and a rapidly growing pile of foreign-currency debt, was hit especially hard, with the result that the peso lost 20% of its value against the dollar.

Argentina's economy had been improving since president Mauricio Macri took office in 2015. But in retrospect, Macri made some serious error by going too deeply into debt denominated in dollars. When the Fed raised its interest rates to 3%, it raised the interest due on the money that Argentina had borrowed, and now the country far into debt that it cannot repay, and facing the possible disaster of a default. BBC and International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Bloomberg and Guardian (London)

Protests grow against new IMF deal in Argentina

The people of Argentina do not loath the IMF because the IMF is lending them $50 billion. The people of Argentina loath the IMF because the IMF imposes austerity commitment whenever it loans money, and the mention of austerity brings back bitter memories.

In the 1990s, Argentina's peso was pegged to the dollar. In 1998, the country faced a financial crisis, but was unable to devalue the currency without abandoning its peg to the dollar. In 2000, the IMF loaned Argentina billions of dollars, and imposed austerity requirements. When Argentina failed to meet its commitment, the IMF pulled the plug, sending Argentina into a $100 billion default.

The default was a major crisis for Argentina, which most people there blame on the IMF. However, the economy began to stabilize president Néstor Kirchner, who governed from 2003 to 2007. When Kirchner declined to run for another term, his wife Cristina Fernández de Kirchner ran for president and won. The radical far left Cristina was president from 2007-2015, and undid all the good that her husband had accomplished, by raising public spending, nationalizing companies, and heavily subsidizing everything from utilities to football transmissions on television. (Cristina, by the way, in December 2017 was arrested for allegedly covering up Iranian involvement in a 1994 bombing that killed 85 people at a Jewish community center, in order to get favorable terms on Iranian oil.)

President Mauricio Macri is considered to have been fiscally responsible since taking office in 2015, especially after years of unbridled spending. However, he had no choice but to go to the IMF for help, which many Argentinians consider to be loathsome, and that may doom him in next year's elections. Buenos Aires Times and Economist and al-Jazeera (7-Dec-2017) and BBC (15-May)

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8-Jun-18 World View -- Macedonia name issue triggers more huge protests in northern Greece

Protesters in Greece demand that Macedonia's new name be 'erga omnes'

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Macedonia name issue triggers more huge protests in northern Greece


Anti-Macedonia rally in northern Greece (Kathimerini)
Anti-Macedonia rally in northern Greece (Kathimerini)

Widespread opposition continues in Greece to agree to change the name of the "Republic of Macedonia" to another name that includes the word "Macedonia." Greeks refer to their northern neighbor as the "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" (FYROM), although most of the rest of the world just calls it "Macedonia."

Greece has vetoed attempts by Macedonia to join either Nato or the EU because many Greeks consider "Macedonia" to be pure Greek name, as well as the name of their own province of Macedonia, and they oppose another other country using it as part of their own name. They are especially infuriated by Macedonia's claims that Alexander the Great was Macedonian. They claim that he was Greek because at that time the Kingdom of Macedon was part of Greece.

But now it appears that the governments of the two countries are close to agreeing to a new name. The solutions being discussed are adding a modifier to "Macedonia," to get "New Macedonia" (as in New Zealand) or "Northern Macedonia" (similar to North Korea) or "Upper Macedonia." They're under pressure to reach an agreement in time for an EU summit in late June and a Nato summit in mid-July. Once a name is agreed, the former Yugoslav republic can move forward with plans to join both the EU and Nato.

Tens of thousands of protesters in 23 northern Greek cities held rallies on Wednesday, with slogans such as "Macedonia is Greek," "Respect our history" and "There is only one Macedonia and it is in Greece, where King Phillip and Alexander the Great were born."

However, many politicians in Greece's New Democracy party are opposed to any name change that includes the world "Macedonia," while many politicians in Macedonia's VMRO-EPMNE party are opposed to changing the name of the "Republic of Macedonia" to anything else.

Even assuming that agreement can be reached on a name with "Macedonia" and a modifier, there are disagreements over portions of Macedonia's constitution, and whether allowing Macedonia into the EU would be a tacit agreement by Greece that people living in Greece's province of Macedonia could be under the jurisdiction of the country.

Article 49 of Macedonia's current constitution says the following:

"The republic is interested in the regime and the rights of all persons belonging to the Macedonian people in neighboring countries, as well as Macedonian expats, by assisting in their cultural development and promoting bonds between them."

Macedonia has been asked, as part of any agreement on a new name, to remove this article from the constitution, but so far Macedonia has refused. Reuters and Kathimerini and al-Jazeera and Irish Times and Deutsche Welle

Protesters in Greece demand that Macedonia's new name be 'erga omnes'

The phrase "erga omnes" is a Latin term meaning "in relation to everyone." It has a technical meaning in international law referring to acts that are illegal for any nation, such as genocide, slavery, acts of aggression, and racial discrimination.

This high-powered legal term, erga omnes, is now being referenced to discuss the much more prosaic problem of how to rename "The Republic of Macedonia" in such a way that everyone in the world will be using the same name.

According to some reports, the name most likely to be chosen is Republic of Northern Macedonia (Severna Makedonija), where Severna Makedonija is the Slavic version of the name Northern Macedonia.

The "erga omnes" question is whether the new name will be used by everyone in the world, or whether the new name will be used only by the European Union, Nato and the United Nations, with the rest of the world continuing to use "Republic of Macedonia."

That situation already exists with the country's current name. It's "Republic of Macedonia" to most of the world, but the official name within the United Nations, the EU and Nato is "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" (FYROM).

So those in Greece who are opposing a settlement on the name are saying that unless an "erga omnes" policy is adopted, then nothing will change, except to replace one unused name (FYROM) with another (such as Severna Makedonija), but everyone will still just call it "Republic of Macedonia."

For these people, if there's any acceptable solution at all, then it has to be an "erga omnes" solution, where the country officially agrees to change its name to "Republic of Northern Macedonia," for the entire world. Kathimerini and Kathimerini and Kathimerini

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7-Jun-18 World View -- Turkey and Greece tensions rise with warplane dogfights over Aegean Sea

Deep millennia-old issues separate Turkey and Greece

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey and Greece tensions rise with warplane dogfights over Aegean Sea


Alexis Tsipris and Recep Tayyip Erdogan meeting in Athens last December (AFP)
Alexis Tsipris and Recep Tayyip Erdogan meeting in Athens last December (AFP)

On Tuesday, Turkish warplanes held a barrage of flyovers over the Aegean Sea, in some cases flying over Greece's airspace. The flyovers are in revenge for the release of the last four of eight military servicemen into protective custody.

Since the aborted coup attempt on Turkey on July 16, 2016, Turkey has been demanding the extradition of eight Turkish soldiers who fled to northern Greece after the coup. The eight soldiers, including two commanders, four captains and two sergeants, had escaped to Greece on a Sikorsky helicopter and landed in Alexandroupolis. The soldiers denied involvement in the coup, but said that they would not receive a fair trial in Turkey.

Greece refused to extradite them without an appropriate court hearing, and an extradition trial in Greece requested by Turkey. The detention period expired after 18 months, without Turkey having requested a trial in Greece. In March, the Council of State -- Greece’s highest administrative court -- ruled that the first of the eight men should be freed from detention, although he's barred from leaving Greece, and stays at a secret location with tight security, as his asylum application is ongoing. These rulings have continued, and on Tuesday the last four of the eight military servicemen were similarly freed.

According to a Greek analyst:

"The dilemma for the Greek authorities was that if these people were sent back to Turkey ... a fair trial is not guaranteed. And that was at a time [July, 2016] when the re-instatement of the death penalty was frequently discussed at many levels including [that of] President Erdogan.

So it was impossible for the Greek justice system to send them back. It has nothing to do with their actual guilt or innocence, it was about the right to a fair trial [if] they were sent back to Turkey."

Turkey refers to the eight soldiers as "putschists," and blamed Greece for harboring traitors:

"The release of all the fugitive putschists cannot be explained as a routine administrative decision pertaining to their detention period.

The release of the traitors who plotted a coup in order to overthrow democracy in a neighboring country by a country, which claims to be the cradle of the democracy conforms neither to international law, nor to good neighborly relations."

Turkey retaliated in March by seizing two Greek soldiers, who had crossed the border from Greece into Turkey. The soldiers say they inadvertently strayed across the frontier in bad weather.

In April, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan linked Turkey's seizure of the two Greek soldiers to the fate of the eight Turkish soldiers who had fled after the aborted coup: "It is not fair to be concerned only by the Greek soldiers and not be concerned about the Turkish soldiers." Greek Reporter and Radio France International and Hurriyet (Turkey) and Guardian (London, 12-March)

Deep millennia-old issues separate Turkey and Greece

On December 7-8, 2017, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan paid a state visit to Greece's president Alexis Tsipras in Athens, the first official visit between heads of state since 1952. It appears that no issues were resolved at that meeting, least of all the fate of the Turkish soldiers being held in Greece.

Wars between Greece and Turkey go back millennia, even celebrated in Greek mythology in the story of the Trojan Horse and the fall of Troy. In 1974, the countries fought a war over the island of Cyprus, with the result that the small island is split between a Greek portion and a Turkish portion. Cyprus unification talks are frequently scheduled, but with tensions growing between Greece and Turkey, they are unlikely to succeed.

Besides the issues of Cyprus and the soldiers being held by each side, there has been a growing disagreement over the sovereignty of hundreds of islands in the Aegean Sea. The boundaries between Turkey and Greece, and the disposition of the islets in the Aegean Sea, were settled by the Treaty of Lausanne, signed by both countries on July 24, 1923.

According to Erdogan, Turkey was deceived and cheated when it signed the Treaty of Lausanne, and he would like to renegotiate the treaty. Turkey has expressed the desire to renegotiate the treaty with a series of very belligerent military moves.

In February a Turkish vessel rammed a Greek coastguard ship as both patrolled the waters off the Greek isle of Imia, causing extensive damage. Imia is one of the islands that Erdogan is disputing, claiming that it should have Turkish sovereignty.

Tuesday's flyovers by Turkish warplanes over the Aegean Sea are just the most recent of what are being characterized as "dogfights," where almost on a daily basis Turkish warplanes violate Greek airspace, and the Turkish warplanes are intercepted by Greek warplanes on policing missions. Although deaths are uncommon, a Greek fighter jet crashed in April, killing the pilot.

It's hoped that Turkey-Greece tensions will reduce after Turkey's national elections on June 24. Kathimerini (Athens) and Business Insider and London School of Economics and Anadolu

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6-Jun-18 World View -- In a surprise, Ethiopia accepts peace deal with Eritrea

Ethiopia's new PM lifts state of emergency two months early

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Ethiopia's new PM lifts state of emergency two months early


Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmedat (Getty)
Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmedat (Getty)

Ethiopia on Tuesday lifted a state of emergency two months early. The state of emergency had been imposed in February, in response to riots and demonstrations by millions of people, mostly in Ethiopia's Oromia region. The state of emergency forbids unauthorized demonstrations or the distribution of politically sensitive material, and permits politically motivated arrests without charge.

The government is largely controlled by the ethnic Tigrays, who are a market and government dominant minority, comprising only 6% of the population. They are extremely authoritarian and have succeeded in marginalizing the other ethnic groups, and are said to have informants in villages throughout the country. They have succeeded in marginalizing the Oromo ethnic group, which comprises 34% of Ethiopia's population, and the Amhara ethnic group, which comprises another 27%. Since late 2015, massive anti-government protests in Ethiopia's Oromia region, later spreading to the neighboring Amhara region, left hundreds dead and resulted in tens of thousands of arrests.

In a major break with tradition, the Tigrays in April of this year permitted the selection of Abiy Ahmedat, 42, an Oromo leader, to be prime minister and leader of the governing coalition, in the hope of ending the chaos and bloodshed.

The early termination of the state of emergency is thought to be a positive sign that the situation is stabilizing, and that the reforms being implemented by Abiy are working. It's also being touted as an opportunity for investors to begin once again exploring investment opportunities in Ethiopia.

Since taking office, Abiy has visited major cities across Ethiopia, and appealed to anti-government protesters to give his administration time to work. He has also continued a campaign of releasing jailed dissidents. Officials hope that his reform policies will end the protests permanently.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, it's almost impossible that the mass protests will be permanently ended. Ethiopia is in a generational Awakening era, like America and Europe in the 1960s, or like Iran today, when mass protests are a frequent feature. Mass protests can end temporarily, or be suppressed by violence from the security forces, but they return.

Furthermore, whether protests by the Oromos may have temporarily ended, there are reports that violent attacks are still continuing against the ethnic Ahmaras. The Nation (Kenya) and CNBC and Addis (Ababa) Standard and TRT World (Turkey)

In a surprise, Ethiopia accepts peace deal with Eritrea

Just hours after Ethiopia lifted the state of emergency on Tuesday, the government took a major surprise step by announcing that it would fully accept the terms of a peace agreement with Eritrea.

In 1998, a border war broke out between Eritrea and Ethiopia. This was a non-crisis war, with a quality very similar to World War I, where trenches were dug, mines were laid, and bodies of dead soldiers were strewn about. Of the 400,000 men who fought on both sides, 50,000 soldiers died.

A peace deal in 2000 ended the two-year border war, but it was not fully implemented. Tuesday's announcement says that Ethiopia, for the first time, accepts the terms of the 2002 border commission report. The report awarded disputed territories, including the town of Badme, to Eritrea.

The border war had begun in the May 6, 1998, in a battle for control of the border town of Badme. This town is described as nothing but a "humble, dusty market town," with no oil, no diamonds, and no apparent value, exception emotional. Both Eritrea and Ethiopia wanted the town, and at the time the resulting war was described as "two bald men fighting over a comb."

By accepting the agreement, Ethiopia will have to withdraw its occupying forces from all territories awarded to Eritrea, including the flashpoint town, Badme. Ethiopia also called on Eritrea to reciprocate the decision and work toward bringing a lasting peace between the people of the two countries.

As I described in my 2016 Generational history of Ethiopia and Eritrea, Ethiopia is a Christian country, and Eritrea is a Muslim countries. Eritrea was an Italian colony in the 1800s, and both were in the late 1930s as "Italian East Africa." Eritrea declared independence from Ethiopia in 1993, leading to the 1998-2000 border war. It's very unlikely that there will be lasting peace. Addis (Ababa) Standard and BBC and Al-Jazeera and BBC

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Jun-18 World View -- In a surprise, Ethiopia accepts peace deal with Eritrea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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5-Jun-18 World View -- Jordan's government in chaos as PM resigns in face of anti-government protests

Fears grow that Jordan will be the next victim of the 'Arab Spring'

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Jordan's government in chaos as PM resigns in face of anti-government protests


Protests in Amman, Jordan, on Sunday (Sky News)
Protests in Amman, Jordan, on Sunday (Sky News)

Anger over a proposed tax law has triggered five days of mass protests in the streets of Amman, the capital city of Jordan, by thousands of protesters, forcing Jordan's prime minister Hani Mulki to hand in his resignation.

The protests were non-violent, but they are exceptional because any protests at all have been rare in Jordan for decades. Nonetheless, 60 people were arrested for breaking the law, and 42 security force members were injured.

Jordan's battered economy comes from an unemployment rate of 18.4%, with a burgeoning population in one of the arid countries in the world.

The wars in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Sudan that began with the "Arab Spring" in 2011 have been particularly harsh Jordan's economy. According to the United Nations human rights agency (UNHCR), Jordan is hosting 750,000 refugees from these wars. There are 650,000 Syrians, and the others are from Yemen, Iraq and Sudan.

The proposed law would raise taxes on ordinary people by at least 5%, and on businesses by 20-40%. The tax increases are part of an austerity program required by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in return for an IMF loan of $723 million to Jordan in 2016. The tax increases come after five successive fuel price rises, electricity hikes, and the scrapping of bread subsidies.

Jordan’s King Abdullah replaced the departing prime minister Hani Mulki with Omar al-Razzaz, a former World Bank economist, in the hope that al-Razzaz can form a government that will be able to find a magical way to solve all the economics. Petra (Jordan) and Reuters and Al-Jazeera

Fears grow that Jordan will be the next victim of the 'Arab Spring'


Jordan's King Abdullah shakes hands with Iran's president Hassan Rouhani at last month's OIC meeting in Istanbul (hala.jo)
Jordan's King Abdullah shakes hands with Iran's president Hassan Rouhani at last month's OIC meeting in Istanbul (hala.jo)

The current protests were triggered by the proposed tax law that will substantially raise taxes on an already impoverished public.

But a scathing editorial in the Jordan Times describes how the situation in Jordan is far worse than simply the fact that people are extremely poor:

"From the view of the people taking part in the protests: government officials keep get high salaries regardless of the duration of their services, ministers get salaries for life even if they serve for one day, officials get luxury cars with drivers from taxpayers’ money, they do not pay for gasoline and thus are unaware of the burdens people are shouldering, they get to travel a lot to unneeded conferences and they get per diems for doing so, they send their children to expensive private schools, rather than poorly equipped government schools, they receive treatment at private hospitals or abroad as public hospitals are left for the needy, etc. People also complain that the government is not serious in tackling corruption, big and small, and is not doing much to improve basic services and cutting expenses and little is being done to ensure that services are being offered to citizens in a fair manner."

From time immemorial, this kind of situation where peasants and workers need protection from excesses of their élite leaders has led to popular protests, some more serious than others, some leading coups and revolutions.

The "Arab Spring" of 2011, which was triggered by the death of a Tunisian food vendor, resulted in violent protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Syria and other Arab countries. So far, Jordan has been relatively immune, but there are concerns that it's about to be Jordan's turn. The current crisis could spin out of control and play into the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood or the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

Jordan's crisis goes beyond its borders, especially since Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, and United Arab Emirates (UAE) began their blockade of Qatar in 2016. This sharp split among the Arab nations has had the effect of relegating Jordan to secondary status in the region. Saudi Arabia has stopped providing financial aid to Jordan, and refused to extend a five-year aid package worth $3.6 billion at the beginning of 2017.

The United States also provides $1.3 billion financial aid to Jordan each year, but the Trump administration may halt or reduce that amount as a result of a general review of foreign aid. The review comes atop of a sharp cut in US aid to UNRWA, the UN agency which is exclusively providing services to the roughly 2 million Palestinian Arab refugees and their descendants in the Hashemite kingdom, and which has increased the burden on the already very weak Jordanian economy.

Jordan's King Abdullah used to consider Iran to be the mortal foe of the Arab world, so the Arab world was shocked recently when King Abdullah had a very friendly handshake with Iran's president Hassan Rouhani during the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit in Istanbul.

Following last year's Saudi blockade of Qatar, there was a realignment of Mideast countries, with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Israel on one side, and Qatar, Iran and Turkey on the other side. Abdullah's handshake with Rouhani suggests that Jordan is switching sides to the second alignment, as Abdullah desperately looks for financial aid. Jordan Times and Middle East Eye and Israel National News and Middle East Eye

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Jun-18 World View -- Jordan's government in chaos as PM resigns in face of anti-government protests thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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4-Jun-18 World View -- Violence between herders and farmers surges in Nigeria

Nigeria's amnesty program in Niger Delta under fire

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Violence between herders and farmers surges in Nigeria


Boy guarding herd of cattle in Nigeria
Boy guarding herd of cattle in Nigeria

I've written frequently about ethnic violence between farmers and herders in many countries -- Central African Republic, Nigeria, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, and even America in the 1800s. The farmers accuse the herders of letting the cattle eat their crops, while the herders accuse the farmers of planting on land that's meant for grazing. If the farmers put up fences, then the herders knock them down.

In Nigeria, the problem has become so serious that it appears that more people have been killed in conflicts between farmers and herders than in the conflict with Boko Haram -- or by the militancy in the Niger Delta in the south of Nigeria.

In the latest incident, in Nigeria's norther state of Zamfara, cattle thieves killed more than 20 people, and burned down their entire village.

The incident was described on the BBC by Mary Harper, the Africa editor (my transcription):

"In Zamfara state, which is in the far north of Nigeria, cattle thieves came on motorbikes into a village. Initially some vigilantes who had been set up by the local community tried to deal with these thieves who come regularly to try to steal their cattle. They managed to chase the cattle thieves away, but then the thieves came back again, and killed lots of the vigilantes, and other villagers, burned their houses down, and made off with many, many heads of cattle."

Several weeks ago, we reported on the killing of two priests because of farmer-herder conflicts in Benue State, in central Nigeria. Harper says that the motives for the violence in northern versus central Nigeria are the same, but it's perceived differently by the public because the farmers in central Nigeria are usually Christian:

"In northern Nigeria, it's a more a conflict between settled farmers and herding communities, or it's a criminals who basically just go into villages and attack nomads, and take their cattle. Cattle are worth a huge amount of money. There's about 80 million heads of cattle in Nigeria -- they're a precious resource.

So in the north, because most people are Muslim, it's more a matter of criminality. But in other parts of Nigeria, especially in the middle region, many of the farmers are Christian, and many of the herders are Muslim, so it's being portrayed by some people as a religious conflict, even though it's actually far more complicated than that."

The violence between farmers and herders in Nigeria appears to getting more and more serious, and with the huge amount of money involved, the government seems helpless to do anything about it. According to Harper:

"The government faces a huge challenge. It faces a big insurgency in the northeast with Islamists, militants, Boko Haram. And then in the south [in the Niger Delta], it has oil-related violence. So security forces are already very badly stretched, but at the more people are being killed in this violence related to cattle and farms, than in either the north with the Islamist insurgency, or the south. And even though they've deployed the military to that region, they seem unable to control it.

And often people say that the people in the government and the army are actually complicit in the problem, they're corrupt, they've become part of the problem, rather than trying to solve it."

The last remark about the complicity of government being part of the problem has been a theme in several of the reports I've written about farmer versus herder violence. In particular, it's been suggested that Nigeria's president, Muhammadu Buhari, who is a Fulani and owns large herds of cattle, has been complicit in some of the herder attacks on farmers. BBC and BBC

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Nigeria's amnesty program in Niger Delta under fire

Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta has the capacity to produce over two million barrels of oil per day, but for years militants have attacked national pipeline installations, causing national production to fall.

The militants use a practice known as "oil bunkering." Thieves cut into the pipes, attach spigots, and divert some of the oil for their own uses. The Niger Delta is dotted with illegal refineries that produce crude gasoline, kerosene and diesel fuel. Much of the diverted oil spills onto the ground, creating an environmental nightmare, and the reset is used or sold by the militants.

In 2009, Nigeria implemented an unconditional amnesty for militants, known as the Presidential Amnesty Program (PAP) or the Niger Delta Amnesty Program (NDAP). The program provided the militants with an income of about $180 per month, much more than the average worker in Nigeria. Approximately 30,000 people in the Niger Delta signed up for the free monthly income, although only 2,700 weapons were surrendered.

However, the free income program did appear to be cost effective. Before the amnesty, the militants reduced Nigeria's production capacity by 900,000 barrels per day. After the amnesty, the loss was reduced to 200,000 barrels per day.

The amnesty program was supposed to last only five years, but when it was discontinued in 2015, oil bunkering surged again. It was estimated that from January to October 2016, the government lost about $5.8 million in revenue because of the bunkering. So the amnesty program, and the free monthly payments, have been restored. Today, Nigeria's crude oil output is about 2.2 million barrels per day.

The amnesty program is seen by many as a waste of government money, since it gives free money to criminals.

However, Prof. Charles Dokubo, special advisor to president Buhari, insists that the amnesty program must continue:

"The alternative will be too ghastly to contemplate. ...

The fact is that to maintain the existing peace in the region is quite important for our function. If there’s a crisis in the region, then, basically all we are putting in place will not work.

You have oil revenue increasing and the Federal Government has some more money to pay into the amnesty program to also empower our people by training them and giving them the requisite skills to perform well in an economy that is open.

If that is done, for me, I would have achieved all that I want in the program."

However, violence has once again been increasing in the Niger Delta, so some further measures will be required. There's already a heavy Nigerian army presence in the Niger Delta, but the fact that they've been relatively ineffective leads many to believed that they're sharing in the actions of the militants. Vanguard (Nigeria) and Punch (Nigeria) and Forbes and AP (20-Jul-2013)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Jun-18 World View -- Violence between herders and farmers surges in Nigeria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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3-Jun-18 World View -- Europe faces challenges with new governments in Italy, Spain and Catalonia

Italy's markets stabilize as new 'populist' government takes office

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Spain's new government faces an immediate Catalonia problem


Catalonia's new government after swearing-in ceremony in Barcelona. (AP)
Catalonia's new government after swearing-in ceremony in Barcelona. (AP)

There were actually two new Spanish governments sworn in this weekend.

One was Spain's national government in Madrid, where the new Socialist prime minister Pedro Sánchez was sworn in, after a vote of confidence defeated the conservative government led by Mariano Rajoy.

The other was the Catalonia government in Barcelona. Madrid imposed direct rule on Catalonia after declaring illegal a referendum on Catalan independence on October 1. Direct rule ended and Catalonia's new government was also sworn in on Saturday.

Catalonia's new president Quim Torra called for talks with Sánchez, to resolve the question of independence for Catalonia. Just minutes after Sánchez was sworn in, Torra said:

"Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, let's talk, let's address this issue, let's take risks, you and us.

"We need to sit down at the same table and negotiate, government to government. This situation we're going through cannot go on for even one more day."

I'm pretty sure this "government to government" stuff will not go over well in Madrid. If such a meeting occurs then it may not go well, since Torra wants Catalonia to be independent, while Sánchez opposes Catalan independence.

Rajoy lost the no-confidence vote that cost him his job because of recent court judgments that revealed a vast kickback scheme with Rajoy's Popular Party. Rajoy tried to skate by and insist that he wasn't involved, but the level of corruption was so great that former Rajoy supporters in the parliament switched sides and supported the no-confidence vote. AP and BBC and AFP and Bloomberg

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Italy's markets stabilize as new 'populist' government takes office

Spain's government crisis is largely internal, and is unlikely to become a crisis in Brussels. That's not true of Italy's governmental crisis, which promises to spread, and cause wider crises.

Italy's plummeting financial markets have mostly recovered and appear to be stabilized as the "populist" government that had appeared to collapse early in the week came to power, though with a different cabinet of ministers.

The "populist" coalition is between the left-wing Five Star Movement (M5S), led by Luigi Di Maio, and the right-wing La Lega (The (Northern) League), led by Matteo Salvini. Although the two parties differ on many issues, and distrust each other greatly, they decided to form a coalition based on their shared anti-euro, anti-EU and anti-immigrant policies, and particularly on the fact that they have no fiscal discipline whatsoever.

Di Maio and Salvini had chosen as finance minister Paolo Savona, who in the past had raised objections to Italy being in the eurozone and euro currency. Fearing a financial disaster, Italy's president, Sergio Mattarella, vetoed the selection of Savona, and the proposed government collapsed. Di Maio and Salvini, claimed that Mattarella was catering to the demands of Brussels and Berlin, rather than to the will of the people of Italy.

For a couple of days, Italy's government was in total chaos, and it looked like Mattarella had made a major political blunder. Despite the vitriolic political atmosphere in Rome, the chaos caused heads to cool, and Di Maio, Salvini and Mattarella reached a compromise, where Savona would be given a different job.

So now the European Union and the European Central Bank have to face the reality of dealing with Italy's new government. On the immigrant issue, Salvini wants to deport half a million illegal immigrants living in Italy, and he's being criticized as xenophobic, as are far-right parties in other countries, such as Germany's AfD and the National Front in France.

Economically, Italy is already a disaster, with public debt standing at €2.17 trillion, or 133% of gross domestic product (GDP). This also could cause a major eurozone financial crisis, significantly worse than the one caused by Greece's public debt.

But instead of looking for ways to reduce that debt, Di Maio and Salvini want to increase it by another €125 billion. Right-wing Salvini wants to cut taxes. Left-wing Di Maio wants to substantially increase public spending, including providing a guaranteed minimum income of €780 per month to each person.

So Italy's government has stabilized for now, but few people expect that stability to last long. Bloomberg and Euro News and CNBC and CNN

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Jun-18 World View -- Europe faces challenges with new governments in Italy, Spain and Catalonia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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2-Jun-18 World View -- Israel makes deal with Russia as Syria's al-Assad makes anti-US rant

Israel and Russia reach agreement to keep Iran out of Syria's south

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Syria's al-Assad makes delusional threats to US military


 Israeli Merkava Mark IV tanks take positions near the Syrian border in the Golan Heights on May 10, 2018. (AFP)
Israeli Merkava Mark IV tanks take positions near the Syrian border in the Golan Heights on May 10, 2018. (AFP)

Syria's president Bashar al-Assad on Thursday threatened to expel American forces from Syria:

"This is the first option. If not, we're going to resort to liberating those areas by force. We don't have any other options, with the Americans or without the Americans.

This is our land, it's our right, and it's our duty to liberate it. The Americans should leave, somehow they're going to leave. They came to Iraq with no legal basis, and look what happened to them. They have to learn the lesson. Iraq is no exception, and Syria is no exception. People will not accept foreigners in this region anymore."

American forces in Syria are supporting the mostly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighting in Syria's eastern province Deir az-Zour against the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

There are actually several reasons why American forces have a legal basis to be in Syria.

First, the US has the right to fight ISIS, which is a terrorist army within Syria's borders. ISIS has been using Syria as a launching pad for terrorist acts against targets in Europe, America, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, among others. ISIS has to be controlled, and al-Assad has an obligation to control it, but has been unwilling or unable to do so.

US-backed SDF forces have already defeated ISIS in their stronghold Raqqa, but ISIS is still a formidable fighting force in Deir az-Zour. Even today, many people believe that ISIS would have a resurgence in Syria if American forces simply withdrew, and al-Assad wants.

A second major reason that justified American and other foreign forces in Syria is that al-Assad has driven millions of refugees into neighboring countries, destabilizing the entire region. Because of al-Assad's genocidal attacks on innocent civilians, there five million that have fled to other countries, with 3.5 million in Turkey, almost one million in Lebanon, another million in Iraq and Jordan, and over a million in Europe.

Syria has an obligation to control its own population and, when it can't, affected nations have a right to respond.

A third reason, related to the last one, as we reported a few days ago, is that Syria has now enacted "Decree #10" which makes it impossible for refugees to return to their homes, even after the war ends, thus making their expulsion from Syria permanent.

This is the same kind of genocide and ethnic cleansing that's being performed by the government of Burma (Myanmar) against the Rohingya Muslims. Starting in 2013, Burma's Buddhist army has conducted genocide and ethnic cleansing, massacring, torturing, raping and mutilating thousands of Rohingyas. Burma's army have driven over 600,000 Rohingyas into neighboring Bangladesh, not only killing, raping and mutilating them, burning down their homes and villages. Furthermore, Burma is continuing the slaughter in order to prevent the community of Rohingyas from returning to their homes in Burma, thus completing the ethnic cleansing.

Al-Assad is doing exactly the same thing with "Decree #10," making it impossible for most Sunni Muslims to return to their homes. This means that the refugees will not be permitted to return home from Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Turkey, Greece and other European countries. Al-Assad has an obligation to provide homes for his own people, and there's no reason why all these other countries should be forced to tolerate his ethnic cleansing.

There's a fourth reason why US forces are justified in Syria: They've been invited into Syria after all. Under the ceasefire "Astana agreement" worked out last year by Turkey, Iran and Russia, and approved by Syria, the US is responsible for maintaining the ceasefire in some of the de-confliction zones defined by the Astana agreement. So the US military has, in fact, been invited into Syria, albeit for a limited reason.

In addition to being the worst genocidal monster so far this century, al-Assad has been repeatedly delusional about the war in Syria that he created. Possibly the most spectacular example occurred in 2016, when al-Assad was using missiles, barrel bombs, chlorine gas, and other weapons on innocent women and children in markets, schools and hospitals, he bragged that the 'liberation' of Aleppo would be a 'historic event' that will end the war in Syria and be remembered long into the future.

Al-Assad has promised to regain control of all of Syria, but after the "easy" battles in Aleppo and Ghouta, his final victory is nowhere in sight, and he may not even succeed in the battles of Daraa in the south and Idlib in the north. The Hill and Washington Times and Russia Today and Independent (London)

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Israel and Russia reach agreement to keep Iran out of Syria's south

According to reports from Saudi and Israeli media, Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu met in Moscow with his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman, while President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed Syria on the phone.

The reports indicate that they reached agreement that Russia would prevent Iranian and Hezbollah forces from occupying a 40 km buffer zone in southern Syria along Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.

Furthermore, Russia gave Israel the "green light" to launch military operations against any threatening target, except positions of the forces of the Syrian regime itself.

Israel has been concerned that Iran and Hezbollah could build up troops and weapons in Syria along the border with the Golan Heights, and launch attacks on Israel from there. Israeli officials have repeatedly expressed concern to the Russians that an Iranian buildup on the border could lead to a war between Israel and Iran, something that Russia does not want. This security issue is apparently the main argument that Israel used to convince Russia to keep the Iranians out of the buffer zone.

However, the agreement is far less than Israel actually wants, which is the forced withdrawal of all Iranian troops and weapons from Syria. In the last few years, Israel has conducted repeated airstrikes on Iranian targets, apparently with the blessing of the Russians, who control the airspace over Syria.

However, a report from Debka, says that there is no agreement between Russia and Israel at all. Debka's reports are written from Israel's point of view, based on military and intelligence sources that provide valuable insights. However, as usual, I have to warn readers that they definitely do get some things wrong.

According to the latest Debka report:

"Contrary to widespread reports, Syrian, Iranian and Hizballah forces were moving into southern Syria on Friday, June 1 opposite the Jordanian and Israeli (Golan) borders. ...

DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources stress once against that no agreement exists between Russia and Israel, or Russia and Iran and Syria for Iranian and Hizballah forces to exit southern Syria. It stands to reason that Tehran will never accept a deal to remove its military personnel from the south while Israel is left free to carry on striking Iranian military targets in other parts of Syria. Reports of deals are being pumped out from Russian sources alone."

Prior to the announcement of the Israeli-Russian agreement, Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov called on all non-Syrian forces to withdraw from Syria's southern border, as soon as possible. This would include Iranian and Hezbollah forces. Asharq Al-Awsat (Saudi Arabia) and Jerusalem Post and Bloomberg and Debka (Israel) and Jerusalem Post

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Jun-18 World View -- Israel makes deal with Russia as Syria's al-Assad makes anti-US rant thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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1-Jun-18 World View -- Israel hopeful that Egypt's mediation has ended Gaza violence - for now

Egypt mediates a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel hopeful that Egypt's mediation has ended Gaza violence - for now


Hamas rally in Gaza
Hamas rally in Gaza

As another round of Gaza border violence after Friday prayers is possible again today, Israeli officials are hoping that a ceasefire mediated by Egypt will hold.

For weeks, starting on March 30, there would be clash between Palestinian protesters and the Israeli army on the border between Gaza and Israel. The clashes peaked on May 14, when 62 Gazans were killed, and hundreds of injured. According to Hamas, 50 of the 62 killed were members of Hamas, while the other 12 were civilians.

The latest burst of violence began on Tuesday evening of this week when, according to Israel's military, 180 Iranian-made rockets and mortar shells were fired from Gaza into Israel, reaching over six miles into Israeli territory. The rocket attack continued through Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning. Seven Israelis were reported wounded by shrapnel in the rocket and mortar attack.

Hamas is the governing authority in Gaza, but it's believed that the rockets and mortars were launched not by Hamas but by another Gaza terror group, Islamic Jihad. It's not clear whether Hamas knew about the attacks in advance.

Israeli warplanes retaliated for the attacks by striking by striking 65 Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets throughout Gaza, according to the Israeli military. These targets included a tunnel that traversed Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and penetrated half a mile into Israel. No casualties were reported in Gaza. Israeli forces targeted encampments that appeared to have been vacated in anticipation of attack. AFP and Israel National News (16-May) and Haaretz

Egypt mediates a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas

The events on Tuesday and Wednesday were a major escalation of violence, the worst since the 67-day summer war between Israel and Gaza in 2014. United Nations officials expressed concern that the Gaza war would be restarted in full force.

The fighting stopped on both sides on Wednesday morning, thanks to a ceasefire agreement mediated by Egypt. The ceasefire agreement also included a new attempt to reconcile the differences between the two political factions, Hamas in Gaza, and the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank, led by Mahmoud Abbas. Israeli officials are hoping that the ceasefire will hold, but new demonstrations are planned for next week on Tuesday, June 5.

After the 2014 Gaza War, Egypt brokered a reconciliation agreement between Hamas and the PA, to form a "unity government". The new government would contain ministers and MPs from both Hamas and Fatah, and would govern both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

The concept of a Palestinian unity government has never been more than a delusional fantasy. After several decades of living separately in the Gaza and the West Bank, they are no longer a single Palestinian people. The two groups are as different as the French and the English.

Hamas has repeatedly refused to relinquish any of its control of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority. Mahmoud Abbas has tried squeezing Hamas economically in several ways, such as by cutting payments to Israel for the electricity that Israel supplies to Gaza. This led to sharp reductions in power in Gaza, less than four hours on many days.

Hamas is facing its worst crisis in years, with a severe cash shortage, living conditions being compared to an "open air prison," and unemployment rate of 40%. Hamas has lost several former allies -- the Muslim Brotherhood, Syria and Iran -- because of the coup in Egypt, and because Mideast wars in Syria and Yemen have dried up resources by former donors.

Hamas became so desperate that last year it agreed to some of the terms of the proposed unity government, including giving the PA some governing authority in Gaza. However, these attempts at reconciliation fizzled as quickly as they started.

However, the core differences are insurmountable without war. Hamas and PA will never reconcile, just as Hamas and Israel will never reconcile. The two-state solution is a fantasy.

As regular readers know, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Jews and the Arabs will have a major new war, re-fighting the bloody the war of 1948-49 that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. The war between Jews and Arabs will be part of a major regional war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, Jews versus Arabs, and various ethnic groups against each other. Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, the "axis" of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the "allies," the US, India, Russia and Iran. Egypt Today and RTE (Ireland) and Washington Post

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Jun-18 World View -- Israel hopeful that Egypt's mediation has ended Gaza violence - for now thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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31-May-18 World View -- Malaysia shocked when 92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad becomes prime minister

Mahathir promises to reduce Malaysia's debt and China's influence

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Malaysia shocked when 92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad becomes prime minister


92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad wins election to become prime minister (EPA)
92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad wins election to become prime minister (EPA)

Malaysia and the world were shocked on May 8 when the party 92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad won 113 out of a total of 222 seats in the parliament, making Mahathir the new prime minister.

Mahathir defeated the incumbent prime minister Najib Razak, and it's believed that his surprising victory had to do with money. Voters were sickened by a scandal having to do with the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), where the government cannot account for how billions of dollars were spent, though Najib denies any wrongdoing. However, six countries, including the United States, are investigating transactions related to the project.

Voters were also increasingly anxious about the country's increasing indebtedness, especially to China. Malaysia's relationship with China dominated the election campaign, as it has in many election campaigns in the past. Malaysians like the money that China invests in infrastructure projects, but are anxious about indebtedness to China and to the growing communities of Chinese workers.

Mahathir was previously prime minister from 1981 to 2003. He was a typical authoritarian leader, jailing and torturing the opposition, shutting down anti-government media, scorning human rights, and sometimes languishing in open anti-Semitism.

According to one story, he was accused of being "an angry man and will burn the whole country with his anger," and he responded:

"Yes, I am a very angry man, you can see how angry I am. I will burn you, I am always burning things."

As we've seen in many other countries, being a bloody, brutal leader doesn't harm his popularity, and may improve it. South China Morning Post (10-May) and Reuters (27-April) and Bloomberg (7-May) and Reuters (23-May)

Mahathir promises to reduce Malaysia's debt and China's influence


Chinese investment projects in Malaysia (SCMP)
Chinese investment projects in Malaysia (SCMP)

In the past few years, Prime Minister Najib Razak vastly expanded the extent of Malaysia's economic engagement with China, particular as a result of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). However, the country is now $251 billion in debt, and the new prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, has committed to reducing the debt.

Mahathir is planning harsh cutbacks. At a press briefing just after he was elected, he announced that 17,000 contractual employees would be dismissed, and ministers' salaries would be reduced by 10%.

A particularly sensitive cutback will be to the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which disappeared on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board, in one of the world’s biggest aviation mysteries. Houston-based Ocean Infinity has been hired to search for the plane in the Indian Ocean, under the condition that they will be paid $70 million, but only if they succeed. Mahathir is reviewing that contract, along with many others, for possible cancellation.

Mahathir's first major canceled infrastructure project wasn't a Chinese investment at all. It's a planned high-speed rail link connecting Malaysia's capital city, Kuala Lumpur, with Singapore. The price tag is $17 billion. Mahathir told reporters that "It's not beneficial," but in Singapore there are concerns that the hostile relationship between Malaysia and Singapore in the previous Mahathir administration is now returning.

The biggest Chinese infrastructure project under scrutiny is the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL). This is an important part of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The rail link will connect several eastern Malaysian ports on the South China Sea to Kuala Lumpur, and then to the Strait of Malacca on the west coast.

Objections to previous Chinese infrastructure investments in Malaysia have focused on the presence of thousands of Chinese workers, heavy dependence on Chinese materials, and limited opportunities for local companies. In order to respond to those objections, and to avoid a repeat of past problems, former prime minister Najib said the link would create 80,000 jobs and the Chinese project operator would be obliged to give at least 70 percent of these to local workers.

The Chinese construction firm is offering to provide a loan of 85% of the $14 billion project value, with a grace period of seven years. However, many Malaysians are familiar with the "debt trap" disaster that occurred in Sri Lanka, and many are calling the ECRL project "the next Sri Lanka." The reference is to the Port of Hambantota, a Chinese infrastructure project in Sri Lanka, funded with a loan from China, with almost all the labor performed by Chinese workers. Sri Lanka was unable to repay the loan, and the government was forced to give the Port to China. So now Sri Lanka has a port owned by China, and a large Chinese enclave, with no benefit to itself and to its own people.

Mahathir would like to cancel the ECRL contract, but is discovering that it's not possible. According to the contract signed with China by the Najib government, Malaysia will have to pay billions of dollars of the loan plus interest, within three months of default. Mahathir hopes at least that costs can be reduced by eliminating some parts of the ECRL infrastructure. Malaysia Insight and CNN and CNBC and Reuters and Bloomberg and The Diplomat

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-May-18 World View -- Malaysia shocked when 92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad becomes prime minister thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-May-2018) Permanent Link
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30-May-18 World View -- Philippine President Duterte reverses position, says he would go to war with China over South China Sea

China raises 'combat readiness' as US-China relations become increasingly hostile

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Philippine President Duterte reverses position, says he would go to war with China over South China Sea


 Philippine President Duterte warns China over South China Sea development (AP)
Philippine President Duterte warns China over South China Sea development (AP)

Ever since taking office, Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte has sided with China, refusing to take a position opposing China's illegal activities in the South China Sea. This is particularly ironic for the president of the Philippines, since it was the Philippines that brought the lawsuit in the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, which ruled that all of China's activities in the South China Sea are illegal and in violation of international law.

As recently as two weeks ago, Duterte was defending his refusal to challenge China's activities in the South China Sea. Duterte said that the court ruling came before he took office, but he had no choice but to support China anyway:

"It did not come during my term. But then again, if I were the President at that time, what could I have done? I can send my Marines there. I can send every policeman there. But what will happen? They will all be massacred."

Duterte's decision was never particularly popular with the Philippines people. Polls show that China's favorable rating is around 54%, while America's approval rating is around 92%. Basically, the people of China and the people of the Philippines hate each other for historical reasons.

But now apparently Duterte has been stung by recent reports that China is basing bombers and cruise missiles on the illegal artificial islands. Furthermore, the Philippines is within range of these bombers and missiles. This has apparently infuriated a lot of people in the Philippines.

So Duterte's Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday announced that Duterte is setting some "red lines" which, if crossed by China, would lead to war:

"What is our red line? Our red line is that they cannot build on Scarborough [Shoal].

Another red line is: Nobody can get natural resources there on their own.

That's what the president said. If anyone gets the natural resources in the West Philippine Sea-South China Sea, he will go to war. He said: 'Bahala na.' He will go to war. So those were our red lines."

According to the internet, "Bahala Na!" is a Tagalog expression that perfectly encapsulates the typical Filipino attitude towards life. The oft-used phrase Bahala Na can be translated into English as: Come what may. What happens will happen. Scholars tend to label it as a form of fatalism. Inquirer (Philippines, 21-May) and Philippines Star and Tagalog Language

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China raises 'combat readiness' as US-China relations become increasingly hostile

Two U.S. Navy warships conducted a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) on Sunday in the South China Sea, near islands occupied by China in the Paracel Islands. This is the location where, as we reported several days ago, China is building barracks capable of housing thousands of soldiers.

According to China's foreign ministry:

"The US Warships' unauthorized entry into China's territorial waters off the [Paracel] Islands again has violated the Chinese law and relevant international law, severely undermined China's sovereignty and put in jeopardy the peace, security and sound order in relevant waters. China expresses strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to the relevant act of the US, and strongly urges it to immediately stop such provocation that infringes upon China's sovereignty and threatens China's security. China will continue to take every necessary measure to safeguard its sovereignty and security."

It's laughable for China to reference "international law," when China itself does not recognize international law. As for Chinese law, who care? If China won't recognize international law, then why should we recognize Chinese law?

The "relevant international law" is the Tribunal ruling that all of China's activities in the South China Sea are illegal, which means that Chinese officials are international criminals.

Relations between the US and China in the South China Sea are becoming increasingly hostile. China is building hundreds of buildings on its illegal islands, as we recently reported, allowing thousands of troops to be stationed there.

Shortly before that, China announced that it has begun landing bombers on the artificial islands it created in the South China sea, in preparation for the Battle of the South China Sea. And that announcement came just two weeks after China deployed offensive cruise and surface-to-air missiles in South China Sea.

The US responded by withdrawing an invitation for China to take part in the 2018 Rim of the Pacific Drill, because China's activities in the South China Sea "raise tensions and destabilize the region." This was followed by Sunday's FONOP, which was different from previous FONOPs because it used two warships instead of just one.

China's foreign ministry threat, was followed by reports that the U.S. Navy considers that the actions of Chinese warships on Sunday was "safe but unprofessional," because the Chinese ships maneuvered erratically.

In the last two days, there have been additional reports about China's militarization of its illegal islands.

China announced that it has set up an "intelligent microgrid" that will supply electricity to weapons systems on all of China's artificial islands. According to Chinese media:

"The microgrid also aids military personnel and weaponry, analysts said.

Stable electricity underwrites military stations and daily military operations in the South China Sea. Surface-to-air and anti-ship missiles, for example, need not depend solely on electric vehicles, said Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator.

The service life of weaponry can be extended by reducing their reliance on self-contained chargers, Song told the Global Times on Monday.

Stable electricity was also critical at armories and arms depots for handling the high temperatures, humidity and salinity of the islands, Song noted."

According another report in Chinese media, China is aggressively developing its next generation of nuclear weapons:

"China is aggressively developing its next generation of nuclear weapons, conducting an average of five tests a month to simulate nuclear blasts, according to a major Chinese weapons research institute.

Its number of simulated tests has in recent years outpaced that of the United States, which conducts them less than once a month on average. ...

Over the past three years, Chinese nuclear scientists have performed more such tests than their American counterparts have in 15 years.

In tunnels deep under mountains in Mianyang, southwestern Sichuan province, where China’s main nuclear design facilities are based, loud blasts from these experiments can be heard more than once a week.

In comparison, between 2003 and 2017, the US fired a total of 150 simulated shots at its Joint Actinide Shock Physics Experimental Research (Jasper) facility at the Nevada National Security Site."

These new military developments seem to be coming more and more quickly, as if China is rushing to meet a target date to launch a war. I've seen one estimate that the target date is 2020, but it could just as easily be 2019 or 2021. Foreign Ministry of China and AP and Global Times (Beijing) and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and Sputnik News (Moscow)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-May-18 World View -- Philippine President Duterte reverses position, says he would go to war with China over South China Sea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-May-2018) Permanent Link
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29-May-18 World View -- Italy's 'populist' government collapses, threatening eurozone exit

Italy's president Mattarella selects a 'technocrat' as prime minister

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Italy's 'populist' government collapses, threatening eurozone exit


Italy's parliament building
Italy's parliament building

Last week, we reported on the formation of a 'populist' coalition between the left-wing Five Star Movement (M5S), led by Luigi Di Maio, and the right-wing La Lega (The (Northern) League), led by Matteo Salvini.

Although the two parties differ on many issues, and distrust each other greatly, they decided to form a coalition based on their shared anti-euro, anti-EU and anti-immigrant policies, and particularly on the fact that they have no fiscal discipline whatsoever.

Di Maio and Salvini chose Giuseppe Conte, an obscure law professor with no political experience, to serve as prime minister, to be confirmed by the parliament.

But they also chose Paolo Savona to be finance minister, someone who at one time in the past raised objections to Italy joining the eurozone. Following constitutional procedure, Conte submitted Savona's name to Italy's president, Sergio Mattarella. Mattarella, who is staunchly pro-Europe, vetoed the choice of Savona, based on his previous statements about the eurozone, even though he says that he no longer believes them. Conte resigned, and the entire proposed government collapsed.

This infuriated Di Maio and Salvini, who claimed that Mattarella was catering to the demands of Brussels and Berlin, rather than to the will of the people of Italy. Di Maio called for the impeachment of Mattarella, something unlikely to be successful under Italy's constitutional system.

Salvini demanded new elections, believing that his Northern League would gain addition seats in parliament. "In a democracy, if we are still in democracy, there's only one thing to do, let the Italians have their say," he said. Deutsche Welle and CNBC and Handelsblatt (Berlin)

Italy's president Mattarella selects a 'technocrat' as prime minister

President Mattarella said he vetoed Savona's appointment as that would have "alarmed markets and investors, Italians and foreigners." He pointed out that the threat of leaving the eurozone was causing investors to increase the bond spread. (This means that investors are losing faith in Italy's ability to repay its debt, and so investors are forcing Italy to pay higher interest rates when it borrows money.)

Indeed, Italy's economy is at crisis levels. Today, Italian debt stands at around €2.17 trillion, or 133% of gross domestic product (GDP). That's worse than Greece's situation when it was being bailed out in 2010. At that time, Greece's debt as "only" 127% of GDP.

The Di Maio-Salvini plan was to simply ignore Italy's crushing debt, and spend a lot more money, give away a lot of free stuff such as a guaranteed income, and reduce taxes.

Even more ominous was a hare-brained plan to issue a new kind of government bond, called a mini-Bot. (Bots are Buoni Ordinari del Tesoro, a common Italian Treasury bill or short-term credit note.) The mini-Bots would be backed by expected tax receipts in the future, meaning that the government would be spending future income before they even had it. Furthermore, the mini-Bots could be used to pay for taxes or other payments to the government, giving the feeling that mini-Bots were a new Italian currency. There would be nothing to prevent stores from accepting mini-Bots as payment, or to prevent brokers from establishing a black market exchange rate between the mini-Bot and the euro.

The mini-Bot proposal means that the Di Maio-Salvini government could, at some time in the future, repudiate its euro-based debt, leave the eurozone, and use the mini-Bots as currency.

This was all apparently too much for president Mattarella, and he vetoed the selection of Paolo Savona as finance minister, causing the entire government to collapse.

In order to stabilize the markets, Mattarella decided to make Carlo Cottarelli the new prime minister. Cottarelli will be a "technocrat," meaning that he won't be implementing any political policies, but will only do the bare minimum to keep the government running, until there can be new elections at the beginning of next year.

Carlo Cottarelli is a former official from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and he is known as "Mr. Scissors" because of his cost-cutting policies. So investors' concerns should be soothed, provided Cottarelli is able to govern. But it's not clear that he can govern. He will receive no support from Di Maio or Salvini, and little or no support in parliament from MPs for the Five-Star Movement or The League. That means that Cottarelli will be unable to get the parliament to pass his proposed budget, and that will cause Cottarelli's government to collapse just as quickly as Conte's government collapsed.

In that case, there will be an emergency election in August or September. If Matteo Salvini is right, then the furious voters will elect even more MPs from the two populist parties, to get revenge for what they see as foreign interference from Brussels or Berlin. The next election will be seen as a referendum on whether Italy should stay in the eurozone, so president Mattarella's move to force the Di Maio-Salvini government to collapse may be what causes Italy to leave the eurozone after all. Sputnik News and Guardian (London) and The Street

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-May-18 World View -- Italy's 'populist' government collapses, threatening eurozone exit thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-May-2018) Permanent Link
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28-May-18 World View -- Dozens killed in English-speaking Cameroon region by French-speaking government police

US Ambassador Peter Barlerin accuses Cameroon government of 'targeted killings'

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Dozens killed in English-speaking Cameroon region by French-speaking government police


Youth wearing a T-shirt protesting the 'Francophonization' of Anglophones (Deutsche Welle)
Youth wearing a T-shirt protesting the 'Francophonization' of Anglophones (Deutsche Welle)

Twenty-two people were killed on Friday in the Anglophone (English-speaking) region of Cameroon by army and security forces from the Francophone (French-speaking) government of 85-year-old president Paul Biya, who has been in power for more than 35 years.

This is the latest violence in a growing civil war in the Southern Cameroons, the Anglophone region of Cameroon.

The violence started in November 2016, when peaceful protests began with claims by Anglophone lawyers that the legal and court systems are biased toward Francophones, with many laws passed without even being translated into English. Anglophone teachers joined in, protesting that all courses in the schools had to be taught in French, and that any use of English was forbidden. The Francophone police responded by committing atrocities.

The atrocities by Francophone security forces grew during 2017, and took a particularly dangerous turn on September 22. What always happens in these situations, as I've described in Syria, Cambodia, Burundi, and a number of other countries, is that government officials feel threated by peaceful protests by the opposition, and respond to the peaceful protests with violence and atrocities. This kind of extreme overreaction leaves everyone stunned and shocked at first, but it doesn't have the intended effect of ending the peaceful protests. Instead, more people from the opposition join the peaceful protests, and this leads to more violence and atrocities by the government. Finally, the activists within the peaceful protesters begin to commit their own acts of violence. Once that happens, the government is free to call all the peaceful protesters "terrorists," and then they can use unbridled violence against all of them, including rape, jailings, and torture.

In Cameroon, the violence and atrocities by Biya's government continued throughout 2017, in various forms. Finally, activists formed a secessionist group called the Liberation Movement of Southern Cameroons. On October 1 of last year, and declared independence for the Southern Cameroons, calling it Ambazonia.

The name Ambazonia comes from the Ambas Bay. The bay which is located in southwestern Cameroon is considered as the boundary between Southern Cameroons and the Republic of Cameroon. In 1858, British missionary Alfred Saker founded a settlement for freed slaves at the bay which was later renamed Victoria. Britain established the Ambas Bay Protectorate in 1884 with Victoria as its capital.

Biya's Francophone government responded with massive violence, arresting hundreds of people, and using helicopter gunships to fire on innocent civilians and kill them. Hundreds of people have been killed, and hundreds more are missing. This triggered a mass flight of refugees across the border into neighboring Nigeria.

In an apparent attempt at ethnic cleansing, the Francophone army has burned down dozens of Anglophone villages, and burned down houses with people inside. In response, the separatists have been burning down state buildings and institutions, including schools.

So now there's violence on both sides. The atrocities and violence by the Francophone government targeting the peaceful Anglophone protesters radicalized some Anglophone activists into violence and declaring an independent state of Ambazonia. Now the Anglophone government can claim that tens of thousands of "terrorists" have been killed, jailed, tortured, disappeared, or forced to flee into Nigeria. VOA (27-May) and The Citizen (Tanzania) and VOA (23-May)

US Ambassador Peter Barlerin accuses Cameroon government of 'targeted killings'

Peter Henry Barlerin, the US ambassador to Cameroon, said last week:

"April has proven the bloodiest so things are not getting better.

On the side of the government, there have been targeted killings, detentions without access to legal support, family, or the Red Cross, and burning and looting of villages. On the side of the separatists, there have been murders of gendarmes, kidnapping of government officials, and burning of schools. People on both sides of the conflict have engaged in speech that dehumanizes the opposite side."

Barlerin also "suggested to President Biya that he should reflect on his legacy and how he wants to be remembered in the history books."

However Issa Tchiroma Bakary, spokesman for Cameroon's Francophone government, said:

"We do not accept the infantilization of the Cameroonian nation. It is with full knowledge of the facts that they (Cameroonians) put their ballot in the ballot box.

[The Cameroonian people] are sovereign, and not likely to accept any diktat from whatever power."

The minister described Biya as "a man of honor."

There have been some reports that ambassador Barlerin has returned to Washington, but those reports are unconfirmed. Deutsche Welle (18-May) and Journal du Cameroun and Africa News (20-May) and Journal du Cameroun (24-May)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-May-18 World View -- Dozens killed in English-speaking Cameroon region by French-speaking government police thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-May-2018) Permanent Link
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27-May-18 World View -- U.S. threatens 'firm measures' against al-Assad's military action in Deraa, Syria

Syria passes new 'Law #10' to block refugees from returning home after the war

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

U.S. threatens 'firm measures' against al-Assad's military action in Deraa, Syria


A bulldozer clears debris from the streets in Deraa, Syria July 25, 2017 (Reuters)
A bulldozer clears debris from the streets in Deraa, Syria July 25, 2017 (Reuters)

The U.S. State Department is warning the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad that the U.S. will take "firm and appropriate measures," if al-Assad violates a ceasefire deal in the southern province of Deraa.

The U.S. warning was triggered when Syrian aircraft dropped leaflets on Deraa, threatening a military offensive. One of the leaflets includes a picture showing lined up bodies, saying, "This is the inevitable fate of anyone who insists on carrying arms."

By means of massive bombing campaigns by Syrian and Russian warplanes, especially targeting women and children in hospitals, schools and markets, including the use of barrel bombs containing chlorine and sometimes Sarin gas, the al-Assad regime has almost completed taking control of the Eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus. The dropping of leaflets indicates that al-Assad plans next to turn his attention to Deraa.

Deraa is a critical region because it's on the border with Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, so action by Syria and its allies Iran and Hezbollah could spiral into a escalating military clash with Israel. Deraa is a mostly Sunni Arab province under the control of almost a dozen anti-Assad rebel groups, varying in ideology from moderate to jihadist. Some reports indicate that Israel has provided support for rebels and civilians in Deraa, treating them in their hospitals and providing weapons and other aid. The National (Abu Dhabi) and Sputnik (Moscow) and Al Jazeera (Doha)

US State Department warns the Syrian regime of 'firm and appropriate measures'

On Friday evening, State Department spokesman Heather Nauert issued a statement warning of "firm and appropriate measures in response to Assad regime violations" in Deraa:

"The United States is concerned by reports of an impending Assad regime operation in southwest Syria within the boundaries of the de-escalation zone negotiated between the United States, Jordan, and the Russian Federation last year and reaffirmed between Presidents Trump and Putin in Da Nang, Vietnam in November. The United States remains committed to maintaining the stability of the southwest de-escalation zone and to the ceasefire underpinning it. We also caution the Syrian regime against any actions that risk broadening the conflict or jeopardize the ceasefire. As a guarantor of this de-escalation area with Russia and Jordan, the United States will take firm and appropriate measures in response to Assad regime violations.

The Presidents of the United States and Russia agreed in Da Nang to de-escalate the conflict. This agreement must be enforced and respected. Russia has declared to the world and to the UNSC that it will “guarantee” ceasefires in its self-declared de-escalation zones. Unfortunately, the Assad regime, with the support of Russia and Iran, has repeatedly violated these de-escalation zones, most recently in its brutal assault on East Ghouta. The Assad regime and its allies continue to prolong the conflict by ignoring their own de-escalation agreements and stonewalling the Geneva process.

Russia is duly responsible as a permanent member of the UN Security Council to use its diplomatic and military advantage over the Assad regime to stop attacks and compel the Assad regime to cease further military offensives. Russia has blocked UN Security Council actions that would have held Assad accountable for the use of chemical weapons and possibly saved innocent lives in Syria 11 times so far in this conflict. Six of those vetoes related to the use of chemical weapons, and others were providing humanitarian access and aid, and ceasing attacks against civilians. Russia should live up to its self-professed commitments in accordance with UNSCR 2254 and the southwest ceasefire, embodied in the Da Nang Statement issued by Presidents Trump and Putin."

This would not be the first time that Syrian-backed attacks on a "US-enforced de-escalation zone" in Syria. On February 7, Syrian-backed forces tried to cross the Euphrates River to attack US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Deir az-Zour in eastern Syria. The result was a disaster for the Syrian forces, as several hundred were killed, and the rest were forced to flee in retreat.

I referred to this incident in yesterday's World View article, since it's emerged that the Syrian-backed forces were actually mercenaries working for the Russian military contractor Wagner Private Military Company (Wagner PMC). Wagner is sometimes called "Vladimir Putin's personal army," referring to the president of Russia, and is often asked to perform Putin's "dirty work," allowing him deniability.

Bashar al-Assad has stated that his objective is to regain control of all of Syria. But anti-Assad rebels still control large contiguous areas of territory in the northwest and southwest. Kurdish and allied Arab militia in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), back by the US hold the quarter of Syria east of the Euphrates. RTE (Dublin) and US State Dept. and Debka (Israel) and The National (Abu Dhabi)

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Syria passes new 'Law #10' to block refugees from returning home after the war

On April 2, the Syrian government of the Bashar al-Assad regime passed "Law #10," a complex new property law that requires property holders in Syria to produce documentation to formally prove ownership of their private property within a period of 30 days, or face confiscation.

There are six million internally displaced refugees in Syria, and five million that have fled to other countries, with 3.5 million in Turkey, almost one million in Lebanon, another million in Iraq and Jordan, and over a million in Europe.

The intention has always been that these refugees would return home when the war ended, al-Assad's clear intention is to make that impossible, since their homes will be confiscated unless they can return quickly with the proper documentation, which is obviously impossible for the vast majority.

Even worse, any property owner wishing to register his lands must first obtain approval from state security officials, which means that anyone identified as having had anti-Assad sympathies can be arrested.

Every time I think that this psychopathic monster Bashar al-Assad can't get any worse, he fools me by coming up with something new and horrific beyond belief. Al-Assad has been conducting genocide and ethnic cleansing against Arab Sunnis in Syria, and now he's taking steps to make sure that anyone who fled his violence can't even return home. Al-Assad is the worst genocidal monster and war criminal so far this century, comparable to Stalin, Hitler, Mao and Pol Pot in the last century.

Lebanon is a country of four million people, and has had its resources enormously strained by a million refugees that officials had hoped would one day go home. Lebanon's prime minister Saad Hariri lambasted the legislation, saying, "This total invention of Decree 10 has no purpose but to prevent these displaced from going back to their country." Daily Star (Lebanon) and AFP and Syria Direct (17-Apr) and Needa (Syria, 5-Apr) and SANA (Damascus, 2-Apr) (Trans)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-May-18 World View -- U.S. threatens 'firm measures' against al-Assad's military action in Deraa, Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-May-2018) Permanent Link
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26-May-18 World View -- Russia gains foothold in Central African Republic, displacing France

The rise of Russia's military contractor Wagner Private Military Company (Wagner PMC)

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia gains foothold in Central African Republic, displacing France


Map of Central African Republic, showing zones of influence of armed groups (Conflict Intelligence Team)
Map of Central African Republic, showing zones of influence of armed groups (Conflict Intelligence Team)

On October 9, 2017, president Faustin-Archange Touadera of the Central African Republic (CAR) flew to Sochi, Russia, and met privately with Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. The readout from the meeting said:

"The officials reaffirmed their countries’ resolve to build up practical cooperation in the political, trade, economic and cultural areas and pointed to the considerable potential for partnership in mineral resources exploration, in the energy area, as well as in the delivery of Russian industrial equipment and farming machinery to the Central African Republic."

Although the exact text of the agreement has remained secret, it has unfolded over time to mean that Russian mercenaries and military advisers have been protecting Touadera and his regime in Bangui, the capital city of CAR, taking over a portion of the responsibilities formerly assumed by French troops, and by MINUSCA, the UN peacekeeping mission (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic).

In addition, Russia has been supplying masses of weapons to Touadera's army. Normally, CAR is under a UN arms embargo, and it's illegal for any UN member to send any weapons into CAR, but Russia was able to obtain a waiver from the UN Security Council to do so.

Among the weapons delivered this year are 900 Makarov pistols, 5,200 Kalashnikov assault rifles, 140 sniper rifles, 840 Kalashnikov PK 7.62-millimeter machine guns, 270 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, 20 man-portable anti-air defense systems, hand grenades, mortars and millions of rounds of ammunition. Russian weaponry and parts are compatible with what Soviet-era arms remain in the CAR armories.

One estimate suggests there are now 1,400 armed Russians in the CAR, most of them employees of private military contractor Wagner PMC, operating under the name Sewa Security Services.

In return, Russia is being granted access to exploit CAR's oil, precious ores, and rare earth minerals. Russia will develop infrastructure for strategic military bases, and commercial relations with telecoms and other industries. Jamestown and AFP and Turkey Telegraph (24-Apr) and Monde Afrique (9-May) (Trans)

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The rise of Russia's military contractor Wagner Private Military Company (Wagner PMC)


Sergei Borisovich Kim, Chief of Operations in Wagner Private Military Company (Inform Napalm)
Sergei Borisovich Kim, Chief of Operations in Wagner Private Military Company (Inform Napalm)

In February, I wrote "9-Feb-18 World View -- US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) clash with Syrian regime forces" in Deir az-Zour in eastern Syria. In that article, I wrote:

"The war in Syria may have gotten even more chaotic on Thursday when US-backed Syrian Defense Forces (SDF), backed by US warplanes, clashed with pro-regime Syrian army forces and allies. The pro-regime forces launched a massive, coordinated attack on the SDF, and were driven back with the aid of US warplanes.

The US had been observing the buildup of the pro-regime forces for several days, as they prepared for this assault on the SDF. During that period, the US forces contacted the Russians over an established "de-confliction" hotline that was set up to prevent such clashes. However, the pro-regime forces attacked anyway, and the SDF forces counter-attacked in self-defense."

As I described at the time, the Pentagon estimated that 100 regime fighters were killed. The Syrian regime said that the US-backed forces had committed a "barbaric aggression" representing a "war crime."

Since then, it's come out that the "pro-regime Syrian army forces and allies" were actually a Russian military contractor Wagner Private Military Company (Wagner PMC). The clash with the American backed SDF forces was a complete disaster for Wagner, as hundreds of Wagner mercenaries were unable to return to their families in Russia.

However, this debacle was not the end of the contracting firm. This is the same Wagner PMC that we described above as operating today in Central African Republic under the name Sewa Security Services.

Wagner PMC is a private military company, but is sometimes called "Vladimir Putin's personal army." It's thought to be closely connected to Russian military and intelligence organizations, and it performs "dirty work" about which Putin wished to maintain deniability.

Wagner has a core of over 4,800 well-trained, well-paid combat troops. In additional to military operations in Ukraine, Syria, Sudan, Central African Republic and other countries, it has "business-related" activities, such as protecting oil and gas fields in Syria and Iraqi Kurdistan.

According to reports, Wagner PMC has risen to prominence because of financial support from Russian billionaire Yevgeny Prigozhin. Prigozhin has also been identified as the head of Russia's "fake news" empire, including the famous St. Petersburg troll factory that turns out hundreds of Russian trolls who constantly attack people like me when we write about Russia. According to some reports, at the zenith of the U.S. election campaign, the troll factory’s accounts across different social media platforms would churn out as many as 50 million posts a month. Inform Napalm (20-Feb) and Jamestown (18-Apr) and Moscow Times (24-Mar-2017) and Conflict Intelligence Team (Moscow)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-May-18 World View -- Russia gains foothold in Central African Republic, displacing France thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-May-2018) Permanent Link
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25-May-18 World View -- North Korea suffers diplomatic defeat as Trump cancels summit

China prepares to station thousands of troops in South China Sea

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

North Korea suffers diplomatic defeat as Trump cancels summit


Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump
Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump

In my opinion, Thursday's cancellation of the planned June 12 summit meeting between president Donald Trump and North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un is a major diplomatic disaster for Kim.

Two weeks ago, when talk of the summit meeting was still in the Pollyannaish honeymoon stages, I wrote "13-May-18 World View -- Likely outcome of Trump-Kim North Korea summit: Mutual recriminations and accusations." I gave a list of reasons, but the main reason were that the core objectives of the US and North Korea were in conflict and couldn't be reconciled or compromised. These conflicting objectives are:

These are incompatible core objectives that cannot be resolved except by military action. The Trump administration has made numerous promises in the hope of getting North Korea to denuclearize -- promises that Kim Jong-un would be safe and remain in power, promises that sanctions would be lifted, promises that enormous aid would pour into North Korea, making the country economically equivalent to South Korea. Kim would get all that, simply be denuclearizing which, in my opinion, will never happen except with military action.

So given those realities, what have the North Koreans been up to these last few weeks? In my opinion, they have had one and only one objective: Use diplomacy to force the Trump administration to lift the sanctions, while continuing nuclear weapons and missile development.

They've succeeded in this objective several times in the last three decades, most recently in 2008. They committed to ending nuclear weapons development and even blew up a nuclear cooling tower to prove it. The Bush administration accepted their promises and agreed that all sanctions should be lifted. The sanctions were lifted, and North Korea immediately resumed nuclear weapons development. They completely humiliated and diplomatically defeated the United States and the Western world. It was a total North Korea diplomatic victory of enormous proportions.

So every step that North Korea has taken in this year has been with only one objective: To repeat the diplomatic victory of 2008, to get the sanctions lifted, while continuing nuclear weapons and missile development.

The Trump administration has outplayed North Korea at every stage:

The letter that Donald Trump sent to Kim Jong-un on Thursday was, in my opinion, a negotiating masterpiece:

"Dear Mr. Chairman:

We greatly appreciate your time, patience, and effort with respect to our recent negotiations and discussions relative to a summit long sought by both parties, which was scheduled to take place on June 12 in Singapore. We were informed that the meeting was requested by North Korea, but that to us is totally irrelevant. I was very much looking forward to being there with you. Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting. Therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place. You talk about nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.

I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me, and ultimately, it is only that dialogue that matters. Some day, I look very much forward to meeting you. In the meantime, I want to thank you for the release of the hostages who are now home with their families. That was a beautiful gesture and was very much appreciated. If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write. The world, and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth. This missed opportunity is a truly sad moment in history."

This letter has left North Korea in a desperate diplomatic position. They had hoped to use diplomacy to force Trump to agree to lift the sanctions. They proposed a summit meeting that they didn't want, but it was accepted anyway. They tried to sabotage the summit meeting, but that backfired and they're receiving the blame for the canceled summit meeting. Now they have to try something else.

Trump's cancellation of the summit meeting was another negotiating ploy, with the purpose of gaining a negotiating advantage. It is not the end of the story. The North Koreans are already issuing conciliatory statements, looking to gain the moral high ground after Trump's cancellation. It's still possible that the summit meeting will be held. But the two core irreconcilable objectives that I listed at the beginning of this article are still in place. CNN and White House and KCNA

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China prepares to station thousands of troops in South China Sea

Satellite imagery has revealed that China has built hundreds of buildings on the artificial island that China has created illegally on Subi Reef in the South China Sea. This is on top of existing military infrastructure that includes emplacements for missiles, runways, extensive storage facilities and a range of installations that can track satellites, foreign military activity and communications. Analysts say that the buildings could house 1500-2400 troops.

This revelation occurs just a few days after China announced that it has begun landing bombers on the artificial islands it created in the South China sea, in preparation for the Battle of the South China Sea.

And that announcement came just two weeks after China deployed offensive cruise and surface-to-air missiles in South China Sea.

The Pentagon on Thursday withdrew an invitation for China to take part in the 2018 Rim of the Pacific Drill, the world's biggest multinational naval drill, scheduled for this summer. The purpose of the drill is to help build cooperation among nations, and China was invited to take part in the last two drills, in 2014 and 2016.

The Pentagon withdrew China's invitation this time because China's activities in the South China Sea "raise tensions and destabilize the region." Sputnik and Business Insider and South China Morning Post

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-May-18 World View -- North Korea suffers diplomatic defeat as Trump cancels summit thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-May-2018) Permanent Link
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24-May-18 World View -- Australia-China relations in crisis after revelation of Chinese bribery scandal

China blames Australia and threatens retaliation

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Australia-China relations in crisis after revelation of Chinese bribery scandal


China's foreign minister Wang Yi and Australia's foreign minister Julie Bishop, on 7-Feb-2017
China's foreign minister Wang Yi and Australia's foreign minister Julie Bishop, on 7-Feb-2017

China is expressing renewed fury at Australian politicians after an explosive speech delivered to Parliament on Tuesday evening accused a prominent wealthy Australian politician of Chinese descent of an explosive bribery participant.

The politician, Dr. Chau Chak-wing, is accused of being linked to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and of being a previously unnamed co-conspirator in a 2013 case where United Nations General Assembly president John Ashe was bribed with $200,000, along with tens of thousands of dollars in custom suits and clothes, to obtain UN backing for a number of multi-billion dollar Chinese infrastructure projects in including Antigua and Barbuda, and other countries. Before becoming president of the General Assembly, Ashe was the ambassador to the UN for Antigua and Barbuda.

Ashe died before he could be convicted, but two co-conspirators were convicted by the US Dept. of Justice in New York in 2016:

"Shiwei Yan, a/k/a “Sheri Yan,” the co-founder and former chief executive officer of the Global Sustainability Foundation, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court today to 20 months in prison for paying more than $800,000 in bribes to John W. Ashe (“Ashe”), the late former Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda (“Antigua”) to the United Nations (“UN”) and 68th President of the UN General Assembly. Yan pled guilty in January 2016, and was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Vernon S. Broderick.

U.S. Attorney Bharara stated: “As she admitted in court at her guilty plea, Shiwei Yan bribed the President of the UN General Assembly with hundreds of thousands of dollars to further private business interests. For her role in corrupting the United Nations, Yan will serve time in a federal prison.”"

Another co-conspirator, Heidi Hong Piao, a/k/a “Heidi Park”, was convicted at the same time. The complaint also named a third co-conspirator, a "Chinese real estate developer" only identified as "CC-3":

"YAN and Piao also arranged for ASHE to be paid $200,000 in exchange for attending a private conference in China in Ashe’s official capacity, hosted by a Chinese real estate developer identified as “CC-3” in the Complaint.

During the scheme, YAN and Piao also arranged for Ashe to receive tens of thousands of dollars in custom suits and clothes.

In imposing sentence, Judge Broderick said, “To those bent on perverting decision-making” through bribery, “this simply will not be tolerated ... there are consequences to these actions.”"

The mysterious CC-3 was not identified by name, but was known to the FBI. Recently, politicians in Australia's government attended a confidential briefing by the FBI, and during the course of that briefing, CC-3 was identified as wealthy Australian politician Dr. Chau Chak-wing. South China Morning Post and Sydney Morning Herald (7-Oct-2015) and US Dept. of Justice (29-Jul-2016) and Business Insider

Andrew Hastie's explosive speech identifying Chau Chak-wing

On Tuesday evening, a Liberal backbencher Andrew Hastie gave a speech identifying Chau, thus breaking the confidential agreement, taking advantage of Australia's Constitution that allows a parliamentarian to say anything in parliament and not be prosecuted.

"Today I raise a matter before the House that is of great importance to the Australian people. It is a matter that poses a threat to our democratic tradition, particularly the freedom of the press, and our national sovereignty. I refer to the threat of foreign interference in our political institutions. ...

We live in a rapidly changing world. We are watching the rise of authoritarian states. Those states are conducting foreign interference operations across Western democracies. In Australia it is clear that the Chinese Communist Party is working to covertly interfere with our media and universities and also to influence our political processes and public debates. ...

The central pillar of the government's counter foreign interference strategy is sunlight. That's why we're seeking to introduce a new Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme. The principle is simple. If a person or entity engages with the Australian political landscape on behalf of a foreign state or principal, they must register accordingly. This will give the Australian public and decision-makers proper visibility when foreign states or individuals may be seeking to influence Australian's political processes and public debates. ...

For reasons that are best undisclosed, the United States government did not seek to charge CC-3 for his involvement in the bribery of John Ashe. The bribery does, however, raise the question: what were the objectives of CC-3 in securing Ashe's attendance at the conference?"

Hastie explained that CC-3 had a leadership role in China's United Front. In previous articles, I've described China's "United Front Work Department" something that China's president Xi Jingping has said was China's "Magic Weapon."

Officially, the United Front focuses on building support for the Communist Party in China, but it's become a coercive propaganda tool targeting Chinese globally, especially in Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., and Canada, but in other countries as well. The agency particularly surveils and targets Chinese students and Chinese students abroad and in foreign universities to adopt language that favors pro-Beijing policies, such as delegitimizing Taiwan, and Western ideals and values, such as liberal democracy, Christianity, or Falun Gong.

Andrew Hastie described CC-3's involvement in the United Front in Tuesday evening's speech, using CC-3's Mandarin name Zhou Zerong:

"The United Front is a platform of the Chinese Communist Party that is tasked with influence operations for the People's Republic of China. It aims to influence the choices, direction and loyalties of its targets, with a particular focus overseas on foreign political and business elites. The primary objective of the United Front is to shape thinking and attitudes in a way that is favorable to China. Mao Zedong, for good reasons, described the United Front as one of the three magic weapons of the Chinese Communist Party. Zhou, or CC-3, was no stranger to the United Front. He had assumed leadership of an organization intimately involved with it. In the final paragraph of the cable, Goldberg wrote that the Guangdong Overseas Chinese Businessmen's Association was essentially a creature of the Chinese Communist Party's United Front program."

Hastie concluded his speech by naming Chau specifically:

"As chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security I led a delegation to the United States last month to discuss our espionage and foreign interference legislation with US counterparts. During discussions with United States authorities I confirmed the long-suspected identity of CC-3. It is now my duty to inform the House and the Australian people that CC-3 is Dr Chau Chak Wing, the same man who co-conspired to bribe the president of the United Nations General Assembly, John Ashe, the same man with extensive contacts in the Chinese Communist Party, including the United Front. I share it with the House because I believe it to be in the national interest. My duty first and foremost is to the Australian people and to the preservation of the ideals and democratic traditions of our Commonwealth. That tradition includes a free press. I thank the House."

Australian Broadcasting and Australian Parliament and Daily Mail (London)

China blames Australia and threatens retaliation

Andrew Hastie's explosive revelations were not previously revealed to prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, who has recently been on a charm offensive to improve relations with China.

Relations between China and Australia have been increasingly tense for a number of reasons. One is that China's illegal militarization of the South China Sea is seen as a military and commercial threat to Australia. Furthermore, as we reported in February, a new book extensively documents China's infiltration into Australia's organizations. The new charges that prominent Australian politician Chau Chak-wing participated in a Chinese Communist Party bribery operation, and had a leadership position in the powerful United Front espionage organization only add to the concerns that many Australians have about the infiltration of China into Australia.

The increasing hostility of Australian politicians to China has brought some sharp responses from China itself. In Wednesday's press conference by China's foreign ministry, the spokesman said:

"The China-Australia relations have recently encountered difficulties, which leads to problems in our cooperation in some areas, and that is something China does not wish to see. ... [The] Australian side must first of all address its problem of perception, put China's development in a positive perspective and truly take China's development as a positive factor, instead of looking China through tinted glasses. Once the problem of perception addressed, the necessary conditions for the true improvement and sound and steady development of China-Australia relations will be created."

China's state media is taking the editorial position that Australia should be punished for its "arrogant" attitude:

"Sino-Australia relations have remained on a steady downward slope since last year due to distorted reporting on behalf of Australian media and remarks made by Australian politicians on China’s alleged interference and infiltration in Australian internal affairs.

Such remarks have not only created obstacles in the development of bilateral relations between the two countries, but also have had a negative impact on Chinese living in Australia. Australian officials recently made unfriendly remarks toward China, actively hurling accusations. ...

It is high time China demonstrated how it sticks to its principles in regard to its relations with Australia, so as to make Australia pay for its arrogant attitude toward China over the past two years. ...

China has been very friendly toward Australia, but their arrogant attitudes in return over the past two years have become a virtual example of what it means to "bite the hand that feeds."

Australia's image among Chinese people has grown increasingly negative due to its warped accusations hurled at China. China does not need to spend time and effort seeking out revenge against Australia.

The cooling of bilateral relations between the two may last for a while, perhaps a few years or even longer. That would be a good lesson for Australia to learn, while also setting a precedent for other nations to follow in that there are no benefits for any country that chooses to take provocative measures against China."

It seems that relations between Australia and China will not improve much in the months to come, and in fact will probably deteriorate further. Business Insider and China Foreign Ministry and Global Times (China) and New Daily (Australia)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-May-18 World View -- Australia-China relations in crisis after revelation of Chinese bribery scandal thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-May-2018) Permanent Link
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23-May-18 World View -- European markets in turmoil over Italy's unbridled spending proposals

Key proposals from Italy's M5S-League coalition

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

European markets in turmoil over Italy's unbridled spending proposals


Five-Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio, left, and La Lega leader Matteo Salvini (AFP)
Five-Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio, left, and La Lega leader Matteo Salvini (AFP)

Italy's Banco Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), founded in 1472, is the world's oldest operating bank. It may also be the world's worst managed bank, since by 2016 it had $55.2 billion in bad loans on its books. Even worse, salesmen working for the bank sold people high-risk high-yield bonds in place of ordinary savings accounts, so a collapse of the bank would mean hundreds of thousands of people, including many pensioners, would have their life savings wiped out.

In fact, Italy's entire banking system was close to collapse. There were €350 billion in bad loans on the books of Italy's banks, a third of the eurozone's total bad debt.

It's a violation of European Central Bank (ECB) rules for a member country to bail out its own banks, since that forces the taxpayers to pay for the mistakes of the bank managers, who should be held to account for their mistakes. Nonetheless, an MBS collapse would have been so disastrous for Italy's economy, that the EU was forced to agree to allow a bailout in July of last year, adding to Italy's already huge debt.

Today, Italian debt stands at around €2.17 trillion, or 133% of gross domestic product (GDP). That's worse than Greece's situation when it was being bailed out in 2010. At that time, Greece's debt as "only" 127% of GDP.

Furthermore, Italy has been struggling with years of crisis. The youth unemployment rate has remained stubbornly well above 30%, and Italy has felt abandoned by the EU as it had to deal with hundreds of thousands of migrants arriving on it shores across the Mediterranean Sea from Libya.

As I've been writing for years, most nations of the world have entered a generational Crisis era, and in a generational Crisis era, nationalistic and xenophobic behaviors of the population increase. This is happening in countries around the world. You can argue whether this is good or bad, but it's like arguing whether a cyclone is good or bad. It doesn't matter whether you think it's good or bad, since it's going to happen anyway.

In Italy, these nationalistic and xenophobic behaviors are converging into a potential major crisis, as it now appears that Italy is about to form a government which is anti-euro, anti-EU, anti-immigrant, and with no fiscal discipline whatsoever.

Italy's March elections failed to produce a governing coalition, and so Italy hasn't had a government since then. The political fighting has been raucous and bitter, and two parties that were particularly bitter rivals were the left-wing Five Star Movement (M5S) that got 32% of the vote, and the right-wing La Lega (The League) that got 17% of the vote.

These two parties are far apart on many issues, but they do share a nationalistic anti-euro attitude, a xenophobic anti-immigrant attitude, and a complete lack of fiscal discipline, and so much to the shock and surprise of many EU politicians, they are forming a governing coalition, based on those principles.

Luigi Di Maio is the leader of M5S, and Matteo Salvini is the leader of The League. However, neither of them will be prime minister.

Reports indicate that they have jointly agreed that Giuseppe Conte, an obscure law professor, should be chosen as prime minister. Conte is a professor of public administration law at the University of Florence and is a political novice, so the obvious intent is that he would be a figurehead and Di Maio and Salvini would control him. BBC (25-June-2017) and Deutsche Welle and International Banker(6-Oct-2017)

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Key proposals from Italy's M5S-League coalition

Matteo Salvini is a 45 year old member of Generation-X, a generation known for its destructiveness and self-destructiveness. Luigi Di Maio is a 31 year old member of the Millennial generation, a generation known for its lack of knowledge about almost anything, and a belief that everything should be free.

Those generational descriptions are, of course, stereotypes, and apply only to a minority of each generation. However, the policies proposed by Salvini and Di Maio suggest that the stereotypes apply fully to them.

Here are some of the proposals in their policy document:

The nightmare scenario is an Italy fiscal crisis similar to the Greece fiscal crisis. Italy's economy is ten times as big as Greece's, so an Italy fiscal crisis would be a catastrophe. AFP and Pound Sterling Live and Bloomberg and AFP

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-May-18 World View -- European markets in turmoil over Italy's unbridled spending proposals thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-May-2018) Permanent Link
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22-May-18 World View -- China will end 'one-child policy' and all limits on births

China's gender imbalance caused by one-child policy has been disastrous

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China will end 'one-child policy' and all limits on births


From 2007: Boys! Boys! Boys! Chinese maternity ward: Five boys (white) and three girls (pink) (CNN)
From 2007: Boys! Boys! Boys! Chinese maternity ward: Five boys (white) and three girls (pink) (CNN)

Since the 1979, China has attempted to control the size of its population by adopting a "one-child policy" which limited the number of children that a couple could have to just one.

Now the government in Beijing is realizing that this is a demographic disaster in two ways. First, China's population is aging rapidly, and pension payments are not keeping up. Second, since parents wanted to have a son more than a daughter, there's a huge gender imbalance. Out of China’s population of 1.4 billion, there are nearly 34 million more males than females

Now China is considering removing all limits to birth. The new rules will take effect at the end of this year or in 2019. This announcement has the feeling of a move of desperation. The one-child policy was reformed in 2013, when China announced that couples where one parent is an only child would be allowed to have a second child. When that policy failed miserably, China announced in October 2015 that all couples would be permitted to have two children.

Even that change had almost no effect at all. In Beijing, for example, just 6.7% of those eligible applied to have a second child. Couples are complaining that they can barely afford the costs of raising one child, so they don't want to risk the financial burden of a second child.

To alleviate the financial burdens, China's State Council proposed measures ranging from taxation incentives to introducing paternity leave to boost birth rate, but demographic experts said the cost would be huge.

China's birth rate has been dipping below the "replacement level," necessary to keep the population growing. As things stand, China's population will peak at about 1.45 billion in 2030. Furthermore, it's workforce will age to the point where those 45-69 will account for over 1/3 of the population.

China's president Xi Jinping has promised to build a world-class military force. His plans face many serious problems, and one of the most serious is that China's youth in the 2020s will be too busy producing food and medicines for any aging population. Bloomberg and South China Morning Post (26-Jan-2018) and Bloomberg (26-Jun-2017)

China's gender imbalance caused by one-child policy has been disastrous

There are 114 boys born for every 100 girls in China. In rural China, the figure is even greater, with 130 boys for every 100 girls. Out of China’s population of 1.4 billion, there are nearly 34 million more males than females.

On average in the world, humans give birth to 103 boys for every 100 girls. The number of boys is greater since men are more likely than women to be killed in war. But 114 to 100 is not expected.

Theoretically, the one-child policy should not affect the gender ratio at all. If you're going to restrict the number of births, then theoretically you would restrict the births of boys and girls equally. But that's not what happened in China. If a woman was to be restricted to having just one child, then she and her husband often wanted that child to be a boy, rather than a girl, since a boy would be able to support his parents as they grew older.

Female infanticide increased when the one-child policy came into effect, taking advantage of a loophole that if your one child died, then you were allowed to have another child. Ultrasound tests became generally available in the 1980s, and although they were banned in 1994, women still were able to find them, and abort a baby if it was a girl. This created the gender imbalance.

The disastrous consequences of the one-child policy are now being felt today, as the children who were born in the 1980s-90s are coming of age. Millions of men are unable to find girlfriends and wives, which creates not only a loneliness problem, but also a risk to the stability of society. If there are too few girls, then they're likely to be tempted into prostitution, or to be abducted and sold for human trafficking.

China is not alone in this situation. Birth rates have been falling in countries around the world. In the United States, the fertility rate has fallen to a historic low. The trend is being driven by a decline in birthrates for teens and 20-somethings. The birthrate for women in their 30s and 40s increased — but not enough to make up for the lower numbers in their younger peers.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, what we're seeing is the reflection of the baby boom that occurred at the end of World War II. Women were reluctant to have children during the Great Depression and WW II, but when the war ended, there was an explosion of births, giving rise to what demographers call the Baby Boom generation.

Today we're seeing a situation where there's a lot of anxiety about the future. There's been a financial crisis, there are multiple wars in progress in the Mideast, and war with North Korea and China is on the horizon. Many women do not wish to have a baby under these circumstances, so we're seeing a drop in fertility rate. But after the next world war ends, then we'll see a new baby boom. Washington Post and Reuters and Time (27-July-2009) and National Geographic (13-Nov-2015) and Washington Post (30-June-2017)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-May-18 World View -- China will end 'one-child policy' and all limits on births thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-May-2018) Permanent Link
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21-May-18 World View -- Stage is set for a new humanitarian catastrophe in Syria's Idlib province

Turkey warns Syria's Bashar al-Assad not to attack Idlib province

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Stage is set for a new humanitarian catastrophe in Syria's Idlib province


Two women bid farewell to their deceased families on March 24, before fleeing Ghouta for Idlib province (Syria Deeply)
Two women bid farewell to their deceased families on March 24, before fleeing Ghouta for Idlib province (Syria Deeply)

The army of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad is in the final weeks of regaining control of areas around Damascus that it lost to opposition forces, mainly in the 2013-14 time frame to the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). ISIS was composed mainly of foreign fighters that had come from over 80 to fight Bashar al-Assad, and they were opposed not only by the al-Assad regime but also by local Syrian anti-Assad militias. Among these Syrian anti-Assad militias are the al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). They also include "Jaysh al-Islam" or "Army of Islam."

Al-Assad has used the same methods to take control of Eastern Aleppo a year ago, and Eastern Ghouta and Douma in the last few months. There's massive bombing by Syrian and Russian warplanes of homes, hospitals, schools and markets, particularly targeting women and children. Because many people, especially women and children, hide out in basements from the bombs, al-Assad drops barrel bombs containing chlorine. Since chlorine is heavier than air, it drifts down into the basements and forces the women and children into the streets, where al-Assad's bombs can kill many of them all at once. In addition, al-Assad has used Sarin gas for mass slaughter on occasions.

After several months of this bombardment, international pressure has caused al-Assad to agree to allow the anti-Assad militias to give up their weapons, and flee the violence along with their families by traveling to Idlib province in northwestern Syria along the border with Turkey.

Tens of thousands of refugees from Aleppo and Ghouta have traveled to Idlib province, and Idlib province is now a smoking cauldron. There are multiple competing militias all across the province, some of them moderate, and some al-Qaeda linked. New militias are being formed all the time, as tensions increase because of overcrowding. Some of the militias get along with each other, and in other cases they fight and kill each other.

Now that al-Assad is finishing up in Ghouta, he's beginning to turn his attention to Idlib province, where he plans to take control in the same way. But while Aleppo and Ghouta each started with about 300,000-400,000 people, Idlib has 2.5 million people. Furthermore, while Idlib was the location to which families fled from violence, there's no place else to go to escape Idlib.

If, as seems likely, al-Assad begins to use missiles, barrel bombs, chlorine and Sarin gas on women and children in Idlib, there will humanitarian catastrophe several times worse than we've seen in Ghouta or Aleppo. Syria Deeply (29-Mar) and Enab Baladi (10-May) and United Nations and TRT World (Turkey)

Turkey warns Syria's Bashar al-Assad not to attack Idlib province

Turkey is responsible for enforcing a ceasefire in Idlib province, under the terms of agreements from the "Astana peace process," a series of meetings that took place in Astana Kazakhstan between Turkey, Russia and Iran. Those meetings defined four "de-escalation zones," and the participants are responsible for enforcing a ceasefire in them.

The whole Astana agreement about de-escalation zones has turned out to be a big joke. Not only did Russia and Iran not make any attempt to enforce a ceasefire in the de-escalation zones they were responsible for, they actually did the opposite. Russia, in particular, was particularly bloody in its warplane attacks on civilians in de-escalation zones. Bashar al-Assad has already begun bombing in the Idlib de-escalation zone. The whole de-escalation zone plan has proven to be a farce and a lie.

However, Turkey claims it will enforce a ceasefire in Idlib province, which is the de-escalation zone that it is responsible for. Turkey has been setting up observation posts within Idlib province, from which the ceasefire can be monitored. Turkey set up its 12th and final observation posts on Wednesday of last week.

Turkey's foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu last week warned the Syrian government not to attack Idlib province, since any such attack will lead to a "catastrophe":

"Currently the most important issue is for the ceasefire not be violated in Syria. If this is achieved, political settlement will become closer. There are many fragmented terror groups. Our intelligence service and the General Staff are dealing with the matter. We have achieved certain results. If the Syrian regime launches an attack tomorrow under the pretext of fighting against terrorists, it will be a catastrophe. This is why we are monitoring the situation and have established our observation posts."

So, Cavusoglu is saying that a Syrian attack will be a "catastrophe," but he doesn't say that anything will be done in response to such an attack.

In fact, each of these 12 observation posts consists of a few tanks and a few Turkish soldiers. The sites are typically on the top of a hill, so that as much countryside as possible can be observed, but it's clear that Turkish forces can do nothing to stop fighting among the local militias, or to prevent Syrian or Russian bombing with Idlib. All they can do is "observe." Anadolu and Middle East Eye and Sputnik (Moscow)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-May-18 World View -- Stage is set for a new humanitarian catastrophe in Syria's Idlib province thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-May-2018) Permanent Link
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20-May-18 World View -- China escalates militarization of South China Sea, preparing for war

China prepares for war on multiple fronts

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China escalates militarization of South China Sea, preparing for war


China's H-6K-a bomber is a modernized version of a 60-year-old Soviet design -- is the only mass-produced bomber in the world today (Xinhua)
China's H-6K-a bomber is a modernized version of a 60-year-old Soviet design -- is the only mass-produced bomber in the world today (Xinhua)

While 99% of the world was hypnotized by Markle Sparkle, China made a major escalation in its illegal militarization of the South China Sea, and said it was preparing for war.

China announced on Friday that it has begun landing bombers on the artificial islands it created in the South China sea, in preparation for the Battle of the South China Sea. The announcement appeared on China's Ministry of Defense web site:

"A division of the Air Force’s aviation division has recently organized multi-model multi-bombers such as the -6K to carry out training on islands and reefs to take off and land in the southern seas, tempering the ability to “reach all regions, conduct full-time air strikes, and strike in all directions." ...

The aviation division equipped with the H-6K and other multi-type bombers, keeping in mind the strategic requirements of “ideological and political should be strong, have good skills to fight and must be strong in fighting style”, are fully committed to advancing training in the new era and are preparing for the West Pacific and the Battle of the South China Sea."

This is another major escalation in China's preparation for war. The bombers are landing on the artificial islands that China constructed in violation of international law, as the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague ruled that all of China's activities in the South China Sea are illegal.

China has repeatedly lied and hid its true intentions. Originally, the artificial islands were going to be for tourists and scientists, which was a lie. Then the military installations would be purely defensive, which was another lie. And now they're part of a massive militarization in anticipation, when preparation has been completed, to launch a full-scale war on America and its allies. Chinese military facilities in the South China Sea include air bases, radar and communications systems, naval facilities and defensive weaponry including landing strips able to accommodate military planes.

This announcement comes just two weeks after China deployed offensive cruise and surface-to-air missiles in South China Sea.

Friday's announcement referred to the artificial island off Woody Island, in the Paracel Islands. It's believed that this island is a blueprint for deployments to the Spratly Islands farther south, at its outposts at Subi, Mischief and Fiery Cross Reefs. In all cases, these reefs can accommodate bombers, as well as large transport, patrol, and refueling aircraft. China Daily and China Ministry of Defense (Trans) and Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (CSIS/AMTI) and Popular Science

China prepares for war on multiple fronts

On June 16 of last year, China sent troops and construction workers to begin road construction in Bhutan's Doklam Plateau, with the apparent intention of annexing the region. At Bhutan's request, India sent in troops to prevent the annexation. Tensions escalated for weeks, and then suddenly and unexpectedly on August 28 the crisis ended when China backed off.

No one seriously believed that China backed off because they had lost interest. The most likely conclusion was that China was not ready for a full-scale war with India, and wanted to wait until it WAS ready for a full-scale war.

In the meantime, satellite images show that China has military buildup in Bhutan's Doklam Plateau. China has positioned thousands of troops, and built two helicopter platforms, and dozens of houses and stores.

Recently, China's Foreign Ministry reaffirmed its claim that Doklam belongs to China:

"Donglong (Doklam) belongs to China because we have historical conventions. China's activities there (Doklam) are within our sovereign rights. There is no such thing as changing status quo."

Furthermore, it emerged that Chinese troops have made new roads and other construction to gain access to another region of Bhutan. So few people doubt that China has not given up, but is moving forward with a large military buildup to use for an invasion at a time of its choosing.

As we reported last week, China says that the reason that it's performing aggressive military exercises around Taiwan is with the intention of threatening Taiwan. Once again, China is preparing for an invasion of Taiwan at a time of its choosing. Similar aggressive moves are occurring around Japan's Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

Writing these articles makes it starkly clear how much utter craziness there is in the world. Would America be better off if it invaded and annexed Cuba? Would Britain be better off if it invaded and annexed Ireland? No one would even consider such insane moves. So then why on earth does China think it will be better off by invading and annexing Doklam Plateau? One doesn't have to be a full-fledged pacifist to see how insane this is, but that's what the Chinese are doing.

China has repeatedly hidden its intentions, and will continue to do so until it's prepared to launch its attack. China is following exactly the same path that the Nazis followed. Xi Jinping's "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics" is the same as Hitler's National Socialism. Like the Nazis, the Chinese believe that they're a Master Race that will conquer the world. They'd have to be crazy to believe that they could succeed at that, but the Chinese are crazy. And they'll do exactly what the Nazis did -- bring destruction and catastrophe to themselves and the entire world. New Delhi TV and The Print (India) and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and The Diplomat

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-May-18 World View -- China escalates militarization of South China Sea, preparing for war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-May-2018) Permanent Link
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19-May-18 World View -- Two protesters killed in southern Iran in latest violent clashes with police

Iranian police clash with marginalized Qashqai tribe in southern Iran

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iranian police clash with marginalized Qashqai tribe in southern Iran


A picture of Kazerun on Friday shared on social media shows upturned and burnt out cars and wounded activists following violent scenes (NCRI)
A picture of Kazerun on Friday shared on social media shows upturned and burnt out cars and wounded activists following violent scenes (NCRI)

The latest in a series of anti-government protests in cities across Iran resulted in up to six protesters killed, and dozens more injured or arrested, by Iranian regime security forces in the last two days in the city of Kazerun (Kazeroon, Kazeroun) in southern Iran.

The population of Kazerun is about 150,000. The people are from the Qashqai tribe, a minority group of about a million people in Iran that the government has failed to fully integrate into the mainstream of Iranian society. Although they are Shia Muslims, they have little use for organized religion and are not devout followers.

They're a nomadic tribe, traditionally practicing pastoralism with sheep and goats, using camels as transports. They endure long seasonal migrations of hundreds of miles between lowland winter and highland summer pastures.

This lifestyle is relative unique for Iran, and explains why they're not integrated into mainstream society. Since the 1800s, their fortunes have gone up and down depending on who was in power in Iran. During the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution civil war, they fought in support of the Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini and the revolutionary side to oust the Shah of Iran.

After the revolution, Khomeini and the ruling regime looked upon the Qashqai with favor. But because the Qashqai were so different from the other Persian people, they quickly clashed with the new regime, which was following a pathologically harsh version of Sharia law and imposing it on the entire country. The good feelings ended pretty quickly in 1980, when Qashqai leaders were arrested, but then escaped from prison and formed an anti-government insurgency. The regime captured the escaped Qashqai leaders and executed them.

Nonetheless, the Qashqai had been harshly suppressed under the Shah, and benefitted greatly from the Khomeini regime in the 1980s. In particular, the government did not interfere with their pastoral activities nor their migration routes by which they traveled with their sheep and goats.

The Qashqai have been increasingly marginalized since the 1980s, and they now harbor a great deal of anti-government sentiment. That sentiment spilled out onto the streets in the last few months.

Last year, a government official proposed a plan to split the county of Kazerun into two, and make other administrative changes. Although some Qashqai supported the plan, most bitterly opposed it, particularly the undeveloped and poor districts which viewed the plan as further discrimination. Radio Farda and JCPA and Cultural Survival and Against The Compass

Iranian police kill two as new protests erupt in Iran


An Iranian Qashqai nomad carries a live goat from his herd
An Iranian Qashqai nomad carries a live goat from his herd

The people of Kazerun have been peacefully protesting for weeks against the administrative plan to split the county. The government made some concessions, but apparently their sincerity was in doubt.

On April 20, the protesters occupied the site for the city's Friday prayers. There were a number of extremely angry chants, including “Our enemy is right here; liars say it is America,” but there were other, more shocking slogans too, including “Be afraid when we get guns” and “We will kill the traitors.”

These chants revived memories of massive protests in cities across the country starting in late December of last year. At that time, there were chants like, "Seyed Ali [Khamenei] shame on you let go of our country," "Death to the Dictator," "Death to Rouhani," "Leave Syria, think about us," and "Forget about Gaza and Lebanon; I’ll sacrifice my life for Iran."

Iran is in a generational Awakening era, following the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution civil war. The psychopathic hardliners view any sort of peaceful protest as a revival of the civil war, and so even peaceful protests have to be crushed brutally. So the Iranian regime brutally crushed the protests in January, killing some protesters and arresting several thousand.

The peaceful Kazerun protests of the last few weeks are being interpreted the same way, as an existential threat to the Khamenei regime, and so they have to be crushed brutally as well.

On Thursday, the protesters gathered in the city's main square. Iranian security forces fired teargas at the protesters, who set the police station on fire. The security forces responded with live gunfire, killing as many as five protesters, while dozens more were injured and arrested.

There's an irony about this situation in that it's occurring at the same time as Iran's government is criticizing the Israelis for the deaths of people from Hamas trying to break through the border fence from Gaza into Israel. Iran's government is criticizing the Israelis, but ignoring their own actions in Kazerun. The protesters themselves have noticed this hypocrisy in some of their chants: “The Government Supports Gazans, But Betrays Kazerun," and “Our Enemy is Here, not in the US." Iran Wire and Deutsche Welle and CNN (14-Jan-2018) and JCPA

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-May-18 World View -- Two protesters killed in southern Iran in latest violent clashes with police thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-May-2018) Permanent Link
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18-May-18 World View -- New Ebola outbreak in major DR Congo city is called potentially 'explosive'

Applying lessons learned, WHO and MSF move quickly to contain Ebola outbreak

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

New Ebola outbreak in major DR Congo city is called potentially 'explosive'


Hospital in Mbandaka, DRC, where Ebola patients will be treated (WHO)
Hospital in Mbandaka, DRC, where Ebola patients will be treated (WHO)

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was only marginally affected by the massive Ebola epidemic that struck western Africa (Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea) in 2014-2016. DRC itself has had its own Ebola outbreaks 9 times since 1976, but all of them have occurred in rural villages, where they were easily contained.

What's different now is that a new Ebola outbreak has spread to a large, densely packed port city, with the possibility of rapid transmission within the city, as well as transmission along the Congo River to other countries.

As far as is currently known, the latest outbreak began in a small inland village called Ikoko Impenge, accessible only by motorbike. However, the outbreak only became known on May 8, when the DRC notified the World Health Organization (WHO) that there were two confirmed cases identified in another inland village, Bikoro. By Thursday, 23 deaths had occurred from Ebola cases in isolated rural villages, giving authorities a better chance of ring-fencing the outbreak before it could spread.

On Thursday, the World Health Organization announced that the Ebola outbreak had reached a "new phase," as new Ebola cases were identified in Mbandaka, a large heavily populated urban city of about 1.2 million people. It's believed that the disease was brought to Mbandaka by two or three people who had attended the funeral of an Ebola victim in Bikoro.

The spread of the outbreak to Mbandaka is "explosive," according to senior WHO official Peter Salama:

"This is a major development in the outbreak. We have urban Ebola, which is a very different animal from rural Ebola. The potential for an explosive increase in cases is now there.

This puts a whole different lens on this outbreak and gives us increased urgency to move very quickly into Mbandaka to stop this new first sign of transmission."

There are two reasons why the outbreak in Mbandaka could be explosive:

The World Health Organization on Friday is convening an emergency meeting to “consider the international risks” of the Ebola outbreak, and to decide whether to officially declare an international emergency. STAT News and BBC and Al Jazeera and World Health Organization and United Nations

Applying lessons learned, WHO and MSF move quickly to contain Ebola outbreak

The World Health Organization (WHO) was heavily criticized for moving too slowly to contain the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia from 2014 to 2016, and so is now moving quickly to try to contain the new outbreak in DRC.

The Emergency Committee meeting that WHO is convening on Friday will decide whether to declare a "public health emergency of international concern," which would mean getting access to more resources. So this step may be taken even though the outbreak is still confined to DRC.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) has sent multiple teams to hospitals in Mbandaka and Bikoro. MSF is sending tons of supplies to Mbandaka, including medical kits; protection and disinfection kits containing isolation items such as protective clothing, gloves, and boots; logistical and hygiene kits containing items such as plastic sheets, chlorine spray kits, and water treatment kits; and palliative drugs to treat Ebola symptoms, such as strong painkillers, anti-anxiety drugs, and antibiotics.

A new experimental Ebola vaccine has been developed since the 2014-2016 outbreak, and MSF has 4,000 doses available to use to control the outbreak in Mbandaka. A vaccine cannot help someone who is already sick, but it will be used in conjunction with the methodology of "contact tracing." Once a potential victim is identified, then contact tracing means that potential contacts ae located, and their contacts are located, and so forth, and all of those people could be given the new vaccine.

However, it's not clear that any of these methods will prevent an explosive spread of Ebola. In 2014, Ebola spread rapidly in Liberia's capital city Monrovia, particularly in the West Point slum area, with more than 70,000 people crowded together on a peninsula, with no running water, sanitation or garbage collection. If there is a similar slum area in Mbandaka, Kinshasa, or Brazzaville, then the spread could be equally massive. TRT World and Doctors Without Borders and AP and World Health Organization

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-May-18 World View -- New Ebola outbreak in major DR Congo city is called potentially 'explosive' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-May-2018) Permanent Link
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17-May-18 World View -- China says that its military exercises are intended to threaten Taiwan

Taiwan, in cooperation with the U.S., strengthens defenses against China

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China says that its military exercises are intended to threaten Taiwan


Taiwan's frogmen Marines perform close combat drills just a few kilometers from mainland China on the outlying island of Kinmen, Taiwan (AP)
Taiwan's frogmen Marines perform close combat drills just a few kilometers from mainland China on the outlying island of Kinmen, Taiwan (AP)

Last week, China conducted an "innovative joint operation" where Chinese warplanes flew in opposite directions around Taiwan. New Su-35 fighter jets flew with H-6K strategic bombers south of Taiwan, and J-11 fights flew with KJ-200 early warning aircraft north of Taiwan. These operations involved two theatre commands for exercises that involved early warning systems, detection and assaults.

China's government said Wednesday that the country’s military exercises around Taiwan are intended as a direct threat to Taiwan, following any moves toward independence. According to the Chinese government spokesman:

"It is a strong warning to Taiwan independence separatist forces and their activities. It demonstrates our determination and capabilities to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

[China has the] firm will, full confidence and sufficient capabilities to block moves toward Taiwan’s formal independence."

China has conducted frequent missions by air force fighters, bombers and surveillance planes to circle Taiwan. Also, China has repeated sailed its sole operating aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait.

China is using a "carrot and stick" to deal with Taiwan. The "carrot" is that China is introducing 31 "preferential policies" for Taiwan, in the fields of legal rights, education, culture and tourism, with the objective of charming the Taiwanese people by improving their lives. China is making it easy for Taiwanese businesses to borrow money and invest in high-tech enterprises on the mainland. China has provided internships and jobs for nearly 9,000 Taiwanese youth as of the end of 2017.

Perhaps most important, Taiwanese entrepreneurs and businessmen who are complaining about low pay and Taiwan are being offered higher wages and bigger markets on mainland China, resulting in a "brain drain" in Taiwan.

The "stick" is a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. Military experts say the balance of power between Taiwan and mainland China has now shifted decisively in the mainland's favor, and they would overwhelm Taiwan unless US forces quickly came to Taiwan's rescue. The United States is bound by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, but it is unclear whether the US would take military action to defend Taiwan, and have an all-out war with China. South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and AP and South China Morning Post and Xinhua and Reuters (21-Apr) and Reuters (24-Apr)

Taiwan, in cooperation with the U.S., strengthens defenses against China

Last week for the first time, the annual Taiwan-U.S. Defense Business Forum was hosted in Taiwan, in order to "bring together US and Taiwan companies to discuss granular challenges of bilateral cooperation in the defense industry supply chain." The objective is to allow business executives and government officials from both countries to discuss defense cooperation in the shipbuilding, cybersecurity, and aerospace industries.

China, as usual, reacted with fury. Zhu Songling, a professor at the institute of Taiwan studies in Beijing Union University, that the event was dangerous, and could lead to war:

"The deepening US defense cooperation with Taiwan is an act of gross interference in China's domestic affairs. It's a very serious matter for the Chinese mainland. Further moves that promote concrete military exchanges will invoke a strong response from the mainland, even prompt the Chinese mainland to use non-peaceful means to resolve the Taiwan question."

A particular worry for the Taiwanese are China's J-20 stealth fighter jets. These are not detectable using ordinary radar, and if J-20s were among the warplanes circling Taiwan last week, Taiwan's military was not aware of it.

Taiwan is developing, for operational testing this year, and with mass production and deployment expected by 2020, the P01-180514-pic1BA mobile passive radar system developed by the island’s Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology. This system would be able to detect, track and lock on to targets at long range.

Finally, Taiwan scheduled its own military drills late in April. These drills simulate repelling an invading force, emergency repairs of a major airbase and using civilian-operated drones as part of military exercises. The descriptions of these drills do not mention China, but instead refer to "offensive forces invading Taiwan." The Diplomat and Global Times (Beijing, 8-May) and Asia Times

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-May-18 World View -- China says that its military exercises are intended to threaten Taiwan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-May-2018) Permanent Link
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16-May-18 World View -- Taliban launches major military operation in Farah province in Afghanistan

Afghan government continues to lose control to the Taliban

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Taliban launches major military operation in Farah province in Afghanistan


 Afghan security forces respond to the Taliban attacks on Tuesday (Reuters)
Afghan security forces respond to the Taliban attacks on Tuesday (Reuters)

It's just the beginning of the Taliban's Spring Fighting Season, and Afghanistan government forces have apparently been caught completely by surprise by an overwhelming Taliban attack on Farah City, the provincial capital of Farah province. Farah province is in western Afghanistan, on the border with Iran.

Hundreds of Taliban attackers overran several security checkpoints in coordinated attacks starting at 2 am on Tuesday. Heavily armed Taliban fighters, using captured Afghan military HUMVEEs and police pickup trucks, launched the coordinated assault on Farah City overnight from multiple directions. Afghan security forces have responded, but had to be backed up by American and Nato warplanes, including A-10 Warthogs.

A government official claimed that no government building or organization had fallen to the Taliban, but residents are claiming that the city is close to total collapse, and government officials have a history of reporting fake news in these situations. Videos released on social media show that a number of security forces vehicles have been torched, and that the Taliban have entered a building used by the security forces. The clashes are ongoing. Tolo News (Afghanistan) and Long War Journal and Business Insider

Afghan officials blame Iran and Pakistan

Afghan officials have long complained that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), aid the Taliban insurgents in western Afghanistan in an effort to torpedo construction projects and undermine stabilization efforts by the US-led coalition in the region. Unlike in the past, IRGC-affiliated media outlets now openly express support for the Taliban’s latest territorial gains in western Afghanistan. Commentary in the IRGC outlets also indicate that Iran’s support to the Taliban is aimed at expelling U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan, particularly from western Afghan provinces.

Farah is the fourth largest province in Afghanistan, with a population of 925,000 in 11 districts. According to the US Naval University in 2009, 50 percent of the Farah population is composed of Pashtun tribes, 45 percent of Tajik and the rest of the population, including the Diaspora, Hazaras and Baluchs. Middle East Institute and Tasnim News (Iran) (Translation)

Afghan government continues to lose control to the Taliban

Taliban began its Spring Fighting Season in late April, and according to Afghan officials, the Taliban have carried out over 2,700 attacks across the country in the first 19 days of the Spring Fighting Season. In the last week Afghan security forces suffered heavy losses in clashes against insurgents across the country, so on Sunday the Afghan interior ministry said that security forces have retreated from some areas that have high threat levels so as to avoid additional fatalities.

On the other hand, General Joseph Votel, the commander of U.S. Central Command, said a few days ago:

"The message I would send to the Taliban is that they cannot win militarily. The international coalition, led by the United States, is focused on providing the military pressure, in conjunction with social pressure and diplomatic pressure that will force them to come to the table."

This is the latest delusional statement from the US military. It's certainly true that as an anti-government insurgency they cannot win militarily, but it's equally true that there is no chance whatsoever to "force them to come to the table."

I've been saying this repeatedly for many years, and the reasons are just as true today as ever.

As I've explained many times, Afghanistan's last generational crisis war was the extremely bloody Afghan crisis civil war, 1991-96, which mostly pitted the ethnic Pashtuns, who are Sunni Muslims and later formed the Taliban, versus the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan. Now, twenty years later, Afghanistan is in a generational Awakening era, and a new young generation of Pashtuns is coming of age, raised on stories their parents told them about the atrocities committed by the Northern Alliance, and they're looking for revenge.

But you don't have to know anything about generational history to understand what's going on. You just have to understand that there was an extremely bloody, violent civil war in 1991-96, pitting the Pashtuns versus the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan. And you have to know that the Taliban are Pashtuns, and that young Pashtuns are looking for revenge for atrocities committed in the 1990s, and that Nato troops are completely irrelevant.

So the funny thing is that even if Votel's claim that military force targeting a group of Taliban leaders could "force them to come to the table," the children of those Taliban leaders will have none of it. It's possible that most of the Taliban fighting in Farah province today were just children in school just a few years ago.

However, as I've written in the past, there's a dynamic going on, where Votel and the American military makes statements that the public wants to hear, even though they don't contain a word of truth. Votel understands that this war cannot be won, but there's a larger purpose. As war with China and Pakistan approaches, president Trump wants to keep American troops active in Afghanistan, and to continue to maintain several American military bases in Afghanistan, including two air bases in Bagram and Kandahar International Airport. These bases will be valuable in any future war with China. Under these circumstances, having troops in Afghanistan is what matters, whether the Taliban are defeated or not. RFE/RL and Tolo News (Afghanistan) and RFE/RL

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-May-18 World View -- Taliban launches major military operation in Farah province in Afghanistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-May-2018) Permanent Link
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15-May-18 World View -- Gaza violence surges in Palestinian 'Great March for Return' into Israel

Opening of US embassy in Jerusalem stirs strong reactions

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Gaza violence surges in Palestinian 'Great March for Return' into Israel


A child is carried by Palestinians away from the front lines after he was shot.  The smoke is created by burning tires that the Palestinians use to hide from the Israel troops (Ma'an News)
A child is carried by Palestinians away from the front lines after he was shot. The smoke is created by burning tires that the Palestinians use to hide from the Israel troops (Ma'an News)

Dozens of residents of Gaza were killed, and over 2000 injured, in a clash with Israeli troops in what Palestinians are calling "The Great March for Return," resulting in the greatest surge of violence in Gaza since the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas.

Israel said some 40,000 Palestinians had taken part in "violent riots" at 13 locations along the Gaza Strip security fence. Monday's march is the culmination of six weeks of similar marches that began late in March. The pattern is always the same. Thousands of Gazans march to the border with Israel, threatening to break through the fence into Israel. Israel's army tries to stop them, first using tear gas, then rubber bullets, and eventually using live fire, resulting in casualties.

Hamas, the government authority of Gaza, has been calling these demonstrations the "Great March for Return," meaning that it's accompanied by demands for "Right of Return," the demand that Palestinians be permitted to return to the land that they lost in the Arab-Jewish war in 1948. For that reason, the attempt by thousands of Gazans to breach the fence and cross over into Israel is considered an existential threat to Israel by the Israelis.

According to reports by both media and Israeli officials, Hamas directed women and children to sit near the border fence, and then the men used the women and children as shields while throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails over the fence at soldiers. I cannot think of any explanation for this except Palestinian politics -- to incite as many killings of women and children as possible, in order to international condemnation of Israel. Times of Israel and Ma'an News (Palestine) and BBC

Opening of US embassy in Jerusalem stirs strong reactions

On Monday, the US embassy in Israel officially moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. US Ambassador David Friedman and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin unveiled a plaque officially denoting the building as the US embassy. The building is already in use as an American visa-and-passport facility, and the new embassy will occupy a portion of the building with a small staff. David Friedman will be traveling back and forth between the new Jerusalem embassy, and his main offices in Tel Aviv.

So very little of substance occurred on Monday with the move of the US embassy in Jerusalem. But the reactions to the move indicate that it has a very high symbolic significance. It was the occasion of gleeful, euphoric bragging by Israeli officials at the dedication ceremony, as contrasted to angry, somber, furious expressions by Palestinian leaders.

While most international comments were restrained, some strongly condemned Israel for either the embassy move or the Gaza violence or both.

Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, condemned the "shocking killing of dozens, injury of hundreds by Israeli live fire."

Turkey called the Gaza violence a "vile massacre," and recalled its ambassadors from both US and Israel. South Africa also recalled its ambassador to Israel, condemning "the indiscriminate and grave manner of the latest Israeli attack."

Numerous countries, including France, Germany and Saudi Arabia, referred to the embassy move to Jerusalem as "dangerous,", "catastrophic," "irresponsible," and "against international law."

I hear journalists, politicians and analysts say all the time that "Nobody wants a war." That isn't true. Lots of people want wars. As I described in an article last year, the public becomes heavily invested in starting a war, and extremely euphoric when the war actually begins, as most of the public are under the delusion that they'll win quickly.

That euphoria lasts until there's a major setback. According to General Carl von Clausewitz, the effects on the people and the government "is a sudden collapse of the wildest expectations, and total destruction of self-confidence. The destruction of these feelings creates a vacuum, and that vacuum gets filled by a fear that grows corrosively, leading to total paralysis."

Gaza's population clearly has an overwhelming desire for another war with Israel. They presumably have been told by Hamas leaders that this time Hamas will win. I have heard Marwan Bishara, the lead analyst on al-Jazeera, imply that Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority are traitors to Palestinians because they sought peace rather than war with Israel.

The dreams of an easy victory over Israel are completely delusional. In a generational Crisis era, Israel will never surrender or compromise. If the war starts going badly for Israel, nuclear weapons will be used.

As I've written many times, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war refighting the 1948 war between Jews and Arabs that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. The war will also pit Sunnis versus Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other. Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, the "axis" of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the "allies," the US, India, Russia and Iran.

Monday was supposed to be the culmination of the "Great March for Return" marches. In view of all the violence, it's possible that the marches will now fizzle out for a while, or it's possible that they'll escalate into a regional conflict. Times of Israel and Al Jazeera and BBC and Washington Post

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-May-18 World View -- Gaza violence surges in Palestinian 'Great March for Return' into Israel thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-May-2018) Permanent Link
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14-May-18 World View -- ISIS linked family of six bombs three churches in Indonesia

Growth of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) in Indonesia

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

ISIS linked family of six bombs three churches in Indonesia


Firefighters try to extinguish a blaze following a blast at the Pentecost Church Central Surabaya in Indonesia on Sunday (Reuters)
Firefighters try to extinguish a blaze following a blast at the Pentecost Church Central Surabaya in Indonesia on Sunday (Reuters)

Terrorist atrocities took a new turn on Sunday when a family of six, including a mother, a father, two daughters and two sons, all performed coordinated simultaneous terror attacks on three churches in Surabaya, the second-largest city in Indonesia. At least 13 people were killed, and 40 injured.

The two sons, aged 16 and 18, rode motorcycles into Santa Maria Catholic Church and detonated the bombs they were carrying.

Five minutes later, the father drove a car containing explosives and rammed it into the gate and onto the grounds of the Surabaya Centre Pentecostal Church.

Five minutes after that, the mother and her two daughters, aged 9 and 12, all strapped explosives to their bodies and blew themselves up at Diponegoro Indonesian Christian Church.

ISIS (Islamic State in Syria) took credit for Sunday's attack. However, their press releases made no mention that the attackers were all from the same family, indicating that, as usual, ISIS is taking credit for a terror attack that it knows nothing about, except that it was conducted in the ISIS name.

Authorities are certain that the attackers were part of the Indonesian-based Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) militant group. JAD pledged allegiance to ISIS in 2015, and then conducted a series of explosions and shootings in Indonesia's capital city Jakarta, killing four civilians. It was the first attack in the country to be linked to ISIS.

The family of six that perpetrated Sunday's attacks had recently returned from a family trip to Syria. Like hundreds of other Indonesians, and like tens of thousands of people from over 80 countries around the world, they had gone to Syria to fight the Shia/Alawite president Bashar al-Assad, who was attacking peaceful Sunni anti-government protesters by sending missiles into school dormitories to kill children, or dropping barrel bombs laden with metal, chlorine, ammonia, phosphorous and chemical weapons on civilian neighborhoods, or using Sarin gas to kill large groups of people.

Sunday's attack is believed to be one that is part of a growing nightmare scenario, where the tens of thousands of young jihadis who had gone to Syria to fight al-Assad are now returning home, after ISIS lost almost all of the territory it formerly controlled in Syria and Iraq. As thousands of ISIS fighters return to their home countries, they will conduct terror attacks there in the name of ISIS. Reuters and Long War Journal and Daily Mail (London)

Saturday's Paris knife attacker had links to jihadists in Syria

A variation of the nightmare scenario described above was followed by Khamzat Azimov, 20. On Saturday evening, Azimov traveled to one of the most popular areas of Paris, near the celebrated opera house and theatres, and started attacking passersby with a knife. He shouted "Allahu Akbar," and killed on passerby and injured four others before being tasered and then shot dead by police.

Azimov was born in Chechnya, and obtained French nationality in 2010 when his mother was naturalized. Azimov had previously been flagged as a possible security risk, and had been interviewed by counter-terrorism police -- not because of his behavior, but because of his contacts. He was known to have links to young French people who had traveled to Syria to join ISIS.

So Azimov himself didn't go to Syria and return, as was the case with the Indonesian family. Instead, he allowed himself to be radicalized by people who had gone to Syria. Guardian (London)

Growth of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) in Indonesia

Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population, about 227 million Muslims out of a total population of 261 million people. About 10% of the population are Christian.

Sunday's attack was the worst terror attack since 2002, when al-Qaeda linked Jemaah Islamiyah killed more than 200 people, mostly tourists, through a string of bombings at popular nightclubs and hotels on Indonesia's island of Bali. Since then, Indonesian police have arrested or killed hundreds of people with links to Jemaah Islamiyah,

By 2014, a new generation of jihadists was coming of age in Indonesia, but were impatient with the older generation that had perpetrated the Bali bombing in 2002. When Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, declared his caliphate in 2014, many Indonesian jihadists immediately pledged allegiance to ISIS. There were some two dozen extremist groups competing to lead the ISIS cause in Indonesia.

Under the leadership of a radical cleric named Oman Rochman, also known as Aman Abdurrahman, Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) was formed as an umbrella organization for all these extremist groups.

Aman Abdurrahman, the leader of JAD, has been in jail for the last 12 years, and is currently on trial for inciting followers to commit acts of terrorism while behind bars at a detention center which has been described by analysts as a breeding ground for pro-ISIS militants. BBC and Al Jazeera and Long War Journal (18-Apr-2017)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-May-18 World View -- ISIS linked family of six bombs three churches in Indonesia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-May-2018) Permanent Link
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13-May-18 World View -- Likely outcome of Trump-Kim North Korea summit: Mutual recriminations and accusations

North Korea schedules dismantling of nuclear test site as TV ceremony

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

North Korea schedules dismantling of nuclear test site as TV ceremony


Ronald Reagan (L) and Mikhail Gorbachev (R) leave 1986 summit meeting after it collapses in mutual recriminations and accusations of bad faith and lying (ADST)
Ronald Reagan (L) and Mikhail Gorbachev (R) leave 1986 summit meeting after it collapses in mutual recriminations and accusations of bad faith and lying (ADST)

North Korea has announced that its Punggye-ri nuclear test site, located in Mount Mantap, will be dismantled during the period May 23-25, and that international journalists will be able to cover the dismantling "on the spot," and transmit their reports from a press center at the site.

This announcement comes just two days after scientists reported that an examination of satellite images shows that Mount Mantap itself has collapsed considerably more than has previously been estimated. Using these images, scientists found that Mount Mantap moved by around 11.5 feet (3.5 meters) and shrank by 1.6 feet (0.5 m). It can't be determined from the satellite images whether some tunnels have collapsed, or whether the entire mountain has collapsed.

Nonetheless, what is apparent from numerous reports starting with North Korea's last nuclear test, on September 3 of last year, is that Chinese scientists and geologists are telling North Korea not to use that test site again, because another test could risk a huge nuclear disaster that would release huge amounts of radiation and nuclear debris that would spread over large parts of northeastern China, as well as North Korea.

When North Korea made the initial dismantling announcement, they said that international journalists and nuclear experts would be permitted to watch the dismantling. The latest announcement omits mention of nuclear experts, and says that even the number of journalists will be limited, suggesting that there's another layer of North Korean subterfuge in process.

The bottom line is that the dismantling of the test site on May 23-25 is a completely empty gesture, since the site cannot be used again anyway. KCNA Watch and BBC and Live Science and Washington Post

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North Korea offers series of theatrical noncommittal gestures

Chinese media have been talking about a "dual track" process to achieve denuclearization. This means that the North Koreans make a concession and the US makes a concession, and so forth.

China and North Korea are already pressuring the US to ease the strict sanctions that have been imposed on North Korea, based on the supposed concessions already made. They are aware that once the sanctions have been lifted, it will be almost impossible to get international agreement to re-impose them, even if North Korea reverses any concessions that it's made. The near impossibility of re-imposing sanctions has been illustrated in the last week by the international criticism of the Trump administrations announced re-imposition of sanctions on Iran.

So the following points are worth noting with regard to the steps that have already been taken in this "dual track" process to achieve denuclearization:

Many of these things are being described by the mainstream media as concessions by the North Koreans, sometimes with the implication that Donald Trump should make some concessions in return at the meeting with Kim. However, Kim and the North Koreans have displayed a great deal of theatric showmanship, but have not made a single actual concession. Panmunjom Declaration and Japan Forward

The most likely Kim-Trump meeting outcome: Mutual accusations and recriminations

On October 11, 1986, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev held a summit meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland. The agenda was mutual reductions in missile arsenals, and expectations were very high. But then Gorbachev demanded limitations on Reagan's pet project, the mythical Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), which supposedly would use space technology to provide a "shield" from nuclear attacks. Reagan refused, and the meeting ended in mutual accusations and recriminations, each accusing the other of lying and bad faith. Talks did not resume again for more than a year.

It has been announced that Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un will have a summit meeting on June 12 in Singapore. Expectations for this meeting are enormously high. The people of South Korea, particularly, are praying that this will be end of their long 70-year nightmare that began with the Korean War, and that they'll be reunited with the families again.

However, Kim is going to demand that some sanctions be lifted immediately, and Trump is going to demand substantial, verifiable steps to dismantle North Korea's nuclear program. And while the main agenda item is "denuclearization," the two sides have completely different meanings for that term.

In my opinion, the most likely outcome of the June 12 meeting is a repeat of the outcome of the Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, in that the meeting will end (or not be held) amidst a flurry of mutual accusations and recriminations.

After that, there are many possible scenarios. It's possible that North Korea will continue nuclear weapons development, with or without testing, and it's possible that the Trump administration will go back to continuing military options.

As I've been writing for many months now, there's are hard bottom line positions on both sides, and they haven't changed. Kim is committed to producing an arsenal of nuclear tipped ballistic missiles aimed at the United States, and selling that technology to Iran and other rogue nations. Trump is committed to preventing that from happening. History.com and Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training and 38 North

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-May-18 World View -- Likely outcome of Trump-Kim North Korea summit: Mutual recriminations and accusations thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-May-2018) Permanent Link
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12-May-18 World View -- Climate change conference collapses as China backs down from emission commitments

Climate change activists struggle to replace US climate change money

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Climate change activists struggle to replace US climate change money


Brown coal open-pit mining Garzweiler in front of a power plant near the city of Grevenbroich in western Germany, on 3-Apr-2014. (AP)
Brown coal open-pit mining Garzweiler in front of a power plant near the city of Grevenbroich in western Germany, on 3-Apr-2014. (AP)

After two weeks, an international climate change conference in Bonn Germany, attended by delegates of over 200 countries, has ended in failure, without agreeing on the major issues of finance and transparency.

Climate change finance has been in trouble from the beginning. The 2015 climate change conference that produced the famous "Paris Climate Change Accord" dictated that the "rich countries" of the world would provide $100 billion per year to the "developing countries," starting in 2020. Even before the election of Donald Trump, it was highly unlikely that that requirement would be met.

However, since Trump has pulled the US out of the Paris agreement, other "rich countries" now have to find a way to fill the gap that was created.

As I've described many times in the past, the climate change has never actually accomplished anything -- that is, you have leaders of one country after another taking a holier-than-thou attitude toward the United States about the Paris accord, but their carbon emissions go down little if at all. In the case of Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel has had the most holier-than-thou attitude of all, carbon emissions haven't declined for nearly a decade, and have been increasing for the last three years.

I first wrote about this subject in 2007 in "UN Climate Change conference appears to be ending in farce". That conference was held at a Bali Beach Resort where 159 countries sent delegates to sip mai tais on the beach and attend an occasional meeting. The rich countries would have to contribute $100 billion to a fund for developing countries. The United Nations would control this money and administer the fund.

At that time, digging a little deeper, it turned out that Louis Redshaw, Head of Environment Markets, Barclays Capital, was leading an effort to issue synthetic securities to trade in carbon credits. It was predicted that the carbon-trading market would top $1 trillion within a decade. Readers might recall that 2007 was the year that the subprime mortgage financial crisis was starting.

In the last 11 years since that conference, nothing has changed. Climate change has accomplished nothing except as a financial scam. Climate Change News and Reuters and Washington Post and Heritage

China backs out of its climate change commitments with 'bifurcation'

The climate change conference in Bonn that ended on Thursday was supposed to resolve many issues, including two major ones: finance and transparence.

When Trump pulled the US out of the Paris climate accord, there were international cries that without the leadership of the United States, other countries must assume leadership. The European Union took on the role of becoming the leader of the "rich" or developed countries, while China would be the leader of the developing countries.

China has the 2nd largest economy in the world, and Chinese people brag that centrally-planned economy is stronger than any other economy in the world. China is implementing its "Belt and Road Initiative" in countries throughout Asia by lending them money to build infrastructure and sending Chinese workers to provide the labor. China is spending its enormous wealth by setting debt traps in all these countries with huge debts that they won't be able to repay.

China is also growing into the worst climate change violator in the world, building a new coal plant every week.

And yet, when it comes to climate change, they climb into their pathetic loser shells and claim to be a "developing country," so they won't have to provide funding under the Paris accord.

So China is failing in climate change finance. What we're seeing at the climate change conference in Bonn this last week is that they're also failing in climate change transparency.

China is demanding that it not be held to any climate change standards whatsoever. In return for all the money they're getting from the rich countries starting in 2020, the developing countries are supposed to start reducing emissions in 2020.

The issues are transparency and bookkeeping. Each country is required to open its accounting books to prove that it's meeting its emission reduction commitments.

But China is now demanding "bifurcation." This is a technical term meaning that the transparency and bookkeeping rules apply only to the rich countries, not to the developing countries.

This means that the "rich" developed countries have to pay all the money and also meet the transparency and bookkeeping rules to prove that they meeting their emission commitments.

But the developing countries just have to sit back and collect money, and claim that they're reducing emissions without having to provide any evidence.

China can go on building a new coal power plant every week, and just claim that it's magic coal that reduces emissions rather than increasing them.

You know, Dear Reader, this is so completely f--ked up that it's almost unbelievable. But that's the way the world is today. With idiots like these running the world, it's no wonder we're headed for a new World War. BBC and Climate Change News and Bloomberg and Climate Change News

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-May-18 World View -- Climate change conference collapses as China backs down from emission commitments thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-May-2018) Permanent Link
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11-May-18 World View -- Israel-Iran attacks in Syria take a pause, as Turkey tightens control over Afrin

Turkey tightens grip on Syria's Afrin, and continues to threaten Manbij

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey tightens grip on Syria's Afrin, and continues to threaten Manbij


Syrian police trainees in Turkey (Anadolu)
Syrian police trainees in Turkey (Anadolu)

Turkey is continuing to tighten its grip on the northern Syria city Afrin, on Turkey's border, following the successful completion of Operation Olive Branch.

Turkey's military Operation Olive Branch began on January 20 and took place over several months, with the objective of regaining control of Syria's border city of Afrin from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG). The YPG is linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is considered by the US and Europe as a terrorist organization, and has conducted numerous terrorist attacks within Turkey over a thirty year period.

The operation was executed by Arab militias in the Free Syrian Army (FSA), backed by Turkish armed forces. Turkey declared the operation successfully completed on March 18.

Since then, Turkey has been tightening its control on Afrin. On April 10, Turkey announced plans to open a new border crossing from Turkey to the Syrian city of Afrin with the objective of speeding up delivery of humanitarian aid to the city. However, at the same time, the new border crossing gives Turkey complete control over Afrin.

Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russia and Iran, is demanding that Turkey return control of Afrin back to the Syrian regime. However, Turkey is showing no signs of being willing to do so.

On Wednesday, Turkey announced that 600 Syrian police, aged 18 to 45, have received a month's training in Turkey, and are now trained and ready to be deployed back to Afrin to provide security as local police officers, "in an effort to return daily life to normal in the recently liberated city." They received training in intervention in social incidents, police regulations, general discipline, residential district, operation education, destroying improvised explosives and crime scene investigation.

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly promised on numerous occasions that once the operation in Afrin had been completed, the FSA forces would move east to perform a similar operation in the city of Manbij, and continue from there to the Euphrates River and beyond to Iraq.

That was always going to pose big problems, since the YPG in Manbij and further east were US allies that were the principal fighters that ejected the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) from Raqqa and other regions in eastern Syria. Thus, an FSA assault on the YPG in Manbij risked a military clash with US forces.

U.S. protection of the YPG in Manbij has now been formalized. On Wednesday, it emerged that U.S. forces had set up a new base in Manbij three months ago, shortly after Turkey launched its assault on Afrin. The new base will house both US and French troops, who will have the responsibility of patrolling the border to prevent clashes between the Turkish-backed forces and the YPG in Manbij. Daily Sabah (Ankara) and Reuters and Yeni Safak (Ankara) and Daily Express (London)

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Israel-Iran missile barrages in Syria take a pause on Thursday


Syrian anti-aircraft missiles in the sky over Damascus on Thursday morning in response to Israeli missile attacks (AP)
Syrian anti-aircraft missiles in the sky over Damascus on Thursday morning in response to Israeli missile attacks (AP)

The military battle between Iran and Israel that began on Wednesday evening and continued through the night has taken a pause, with many signs that the pause will be only temporary.

According to Israel's military, the battle was triggered when Iran's Quds Force, in Syria near the border with Israel, fired 20 missiles at Israeli military positions in the Golan Heights border area separating western Syria from northern Israel.

According to Israel, this was the first ever direct Iranian rocket attack on its troops.

This triggered the most intensive attack ever on Iranian positions and assets in Syria. Israel retaliated with what appeared to be surface-to-surface missiles, and multiple Syrian anti-aircraft batteries were launched to try to intercept them. Officials said that the response targeted almost all of Iran's military infrastructure inside Syria, including dozens of weapons storage sites and intelligence centers used by elite Iranian forces, as well as Syrian air defense systems. Israel struck more than 50 Iranian targets, in its most extensive operation in Syria since 1974.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said, "They need to remember the saying that if it rains on us, it'll storm on them. I hope we finished this chapter and everyone got the message."

Iran said that it had no desire to escalate the military conflict. Iran's president Hassan Rouhani said, "Iran has always sought to reduce tensions in the region, trying to strengthen security and stability."

Israel informed both Russia and the US of its plans ahead of the retaliatory strikes. Israeli officials say that Iran still has long-range capabilities in Syria with which to strike Israel, suggesting that the battle has not ended. Jerusalem Post and Independent (London) and CNN and Debka (Israel)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-May-18 World View -- Israel-Iran attacks in Syria take a pause, as Turkey tightens control over Afrin thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-May-2018) Permanent Link
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10-May-18 World View -- Killing of two priests escalates farmer-herder conflict in Benue State, Nigeria

Israel, Iran and Syria exchange fire in first direct military confrontation

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Killing of two priests escalates farmer-herder conflict in Benue State, Nigeria


Nigerian Police
Nigerian Police

A prototypical conflict between herders and farmers in central Nigeria has suddenly escalated in a sectarian manner with the killing of two Catholic priests, Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolaha, and other worshippers on April 24. The attack occurred in the town of Mbalom, just south of Makurdi, which is the capital city of Benue State in Nigeria.

I've written many times that many ethnic wars are based on fundamental clashes between farmer tribes and herder tribes. In country after country, there a classic and recurring battle between herders and farmers, I've described in Central African Republic, Nigeria, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, and even America in the 1800s. The farmers accuse the herders of letting the cattle eat their crops, while the herders accuse the farmers of planting on land that's meant for grazing. If the farmers put up fences, then the herders knock them down.

In Nigeria's Benue State, the herders are mostly Muslims from the Fulani tribe. Farmers are mostly Christians from a number of tribes, including the Tiv, Mambila and Bachama tribes. The continuing tit-for-tat violence between herders and farmers in Benue State has already killed thousands of people and left tens of thousands homeless,

So the April 24 murder of the priests and worshippers was immediately blamed by the public and the media on Muslim Fulani herders, but to this day there is no solid evidence that the gunmen were Fulanis. In fact, the assailants took money, valuables and communion wine, suggesting that the motive was robbery rather than gaining farmland. Vanguard (Nigeria, 24-Apr) and Anglican News

News of revenge attacks by farmers criticized as fake news

Three days later, a Nigeria newspaper the Daily Trust reported on revenge attacks by Christian farmers from the Tiv tribe on ethnic Hausas in the Benue State capital city Makurdi.

A Hausa community leader was quoted as wondering why Tiv farmers would target Hausa people, since they were not the herders who allegedly attacked the priests:

"Last Tuesday, we saw our people running helter-skelter in the city that they brought the corpses of Church priests that were killed at Dukwayango village and then suddenly Tiv youth started attacking our people. As I am talking to you they have killed over eight people, over 20 sustained injuries and several shops were razed while over eleven people were missing.

We are not farmers, we don’t rear animals. We are just traders. These things happened in villages and in the bushes. Why are Tiv youth killing our people?"

The chief Imam of a mosque in Makurdi told the BBC Hausa service that he personally saw the corpses of 27 victims at the teaching hospital in Makurdi. He said while many were injured, some were burnt.

However, some community groups are condemning as lies the claims that Tiv farmers attacked Hausa people in Benue, and say that the purpose of the lies is to promote sectarian violence:

"It is a tissue of lies and falsehood concocted to profile the Tiv youth in bad light.

We consider the said story as part of the well planned agenda by our traducers to change the narrative in the state. ... The same report went on to claim that more than 10 Muslims were killed and 11 others missing in the state as from the reprisals following the attack on St. Ignatius Quasi Parish in Mbalom. ...

It is completely fake news. The statement by the Police further said such was nothing but falsehood, believably meant to cause break down of law and order in the State."

All that's really certain is that ethnic violence in central Nigeria, which has been growing for several years, continues to grow. Daily Trust (Nigeria, 27-Apr) and Independent (Nigeria) and Guardian (Nigeria)

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Israel, Iran and Syria exchange fire in first direct military confrontation

As this is being written on Wednesday evening ET, there is news of missile and artillery exchanges in Syria and in and around the Golan Heights, as well as airstrikes by Israel's air force.

Israel has struck Iranian missile depots and other Iranian military targets in Syria several times in the last few weeks, promising to prevent Iran and Hezbollah from building up a force capable of attacking Syria.

For several weeks, Israel has been stepping up its military forces on the border with Lebanon, in anticipation of a retaliatory strike on Israel by Iran. That Iranian attack has apparently happened, and there have been several hours of artillery exchanges over the Golan Heights that are continuing at this writing.

The Israeli attacks on Syria have been more intense than they were in the past. There are reports that the city of Damascus is without power. At least 20 heavy rockets have been fired from Syria at Israeli forces, but there are no reports yet of Israeli damage or casualties. Reuters and Washington Post and AFP and BBC

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-May-18 World View -- Killing of two priests escalates farmer-herder conflict in Benue State, Nigeria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-May-2018) Permanent Link
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9-May-18 News -- European politicians have a lot to learn from North and South Korean leaders, by Loretta Napoleoni

Brexit and other European fiascos in diplomacy

by Loretta Napoleoni

European politicians have a lot to learn from North and South Korean leaders, by Loretta Napoleoni


South Koreans watching tv admire Kim Jong-un's highly fashionable haircut
South Koreans watching tv admire Kim Jong-un's highly fashionable haircut

It is true that the barycenter of the world is moving to the east, not only economically but above all politically. Our politicians would do well to pay attention to how high-level politics is done in the east, since they would learn something. The most recent masterful lesson of international diplomacy comes from the sadly famous demilitarized zone (DMZ), the scar of the cold war that runs along the 38th parallel and which divides the Korean peninsula in two.

The dictator Kim Jong-un, considered crazy and bloody until four months ago, took part in a historic summit in South Korea, still 'enemy' territory, and where neither his father nor his grandfather ever set foot. He did it with all the honors reserved for a great head of state. The South Korean president Moon Jae-in, who has spent the last twenty years to get this meeting, is the country's spokesman. Meanwhile, Kim has used every political strategy, including the diplomacy of the Olympics, to get closer to the common goal: the peace agreement between the two nations.

The peace between these two countries -- which for three thousand years have been a unique geographical and linguistic expression, a single culture, a sovereign nation with the same people -- will open the doors to economic and commercial cooperation. The model will be that of the old European Common Market: exploiting the economic interdependencies and the resources of both to modernize the North and produce well-being throughout the peninsula. The union has the potential to give life to an economy much stronger than Japan's.

North and South, therefore, have common interests that they can pursue jointly. The obstacles are many. First of all, even if both have signed a peace armistice, the two countries are still at war. The People's Republic of North Korea is a buffer state for China, while South Korea is a very important US military base in the Pacific. In short, to get to shake hands on the 38th parallel and plant the tree of peace the two Korean leaders have had to convince Washington and Beijing to let them do it.

Brexit and other European fiascos in diplomacy

If we compare this lesson of international diplomacy with European post-electoral fiascos -- the last nation to prove incapable of forming a government on the basis of electoral results is Italy -- and animosities within the European Union, for example, Brexit, we realize why the axis of the world is moving to the east. To complete the sad picture of the decadence of politics in Europe, there are relations of subjugation with Washington. What about Macron crossing the ocean to present to Trump the European iron will to go ahead with the agreement with Iran and then change his mind twenty four hours after landing? Remarkable is the difference with President Moon (whose wife does not dress Chanel like the first French and American ladies), Moon is a politician of substance, who has clear ideas about the future of his nation, is not a populist.

Of course there is always Angela Merkel who clearly told Trump -- who continued to bomb the world with twitter triumphalists on the Korean summit presented as a creation -- not to trust Kim Jong-un. Yes, Merkel is a clever politician, but she has to play in a team of wives and has no interlocutor to work with seriously.

Here are some forecasts: Trump and Kim will meet, possibly in June. The peace agreement between the two leaders will be endorsed by the White House, at which point they will begin to work at the ceremony for the signing of the treaty, which will take place before November 2018, namely the mid-term US elections.

Trump will be credited with all the glory but will Kim and Moon let him do that? The North Korean dictator seems less inclined than the South Korean president to stroke Trump's ego. But he should be very careful, as the US president may walk away from the summit and Kim and Moon would end up with no deal. But if things go according to plans, Kim will reiterate the commitment to freeze nuclear warheads and details of denuclearization will be postponed to another summit, which will take place in 2019. Meanwhile, North and South Korea will quietly start to cooperate economically, despite international sanctions. Southern investors will therefore have priority access to the process of modernizing the north.

In Europe the bickering on Brexit will not disappear. The tensions between the right-wing populism of Eastern Europe and Brussels will increase, risking the implosion of the whole structure. Italy will most likely revive, but the results will not be better. In short, the scenarios are not at all positive. The last detail: Kim's haircut will continue to be more and more fashionable, while Merkel's will be considered passé.

Loretta Napoleoni is an Italian economist and analyst, and author of the 2018 book, North Korea: The Country We Love To Hate

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-May-18 News -- European politicians have a lot to learn from North and South Korean leaders, by Loretta Napoleoni thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-May-2018) Permanent Link
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9-May-18 World View -- Brexit negotiations in crisis as deadlines approach with no agreements

Theresa May's two delusional proposals - Customs Partnership and Maximum Facilitation

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Brexit negotiations in crisis as deadlines approach with no agreements
  • Theresa May's two delusional proposals - Customs Partnership and Maximum Facilitation

Brexit negotiations in crisis as deadlines approach with no agreements


Boris Johnson and Theresa May (PA)
Boris Johnson and Theresa May (PA)

Britain's foreign secretary Boris Johnson on Monday declared that the proposal by prime minister Theresa May to resolve Brexit issues was "crazy."

This has caused quite a sensation, because a high level cabinet minister is not supposed to openly criticize a major policy of the prime minister unless he wants to be fired.

The policy in question, called a "Customs Partnership," is indeed delusional, but in today's highly polarized world, where a man can lose his career for saying the wrong thing about whether he supports Trump, then you have to be willing to support even delusional policies if you want to keep your job.

In this case, however, May's spokesman said that the prime minister had "full confidence" in Johnson, and told officials "to do more work" on the proposal.

I've written about Brexit issues many times since the Brexit referendum passed almost two years ago, on June 23 2016, and the intractable, insoluble problem is always the same: Keeping a "frictionless border" between Northern Ireland and (Southern) Republic of Ireland, despite the fact that Northern Ireland will be part of the UK, and Ireland will be part of the EU.

Everyone says that there must be a frictionless border, so that people, trucks and goods can continue to flow freely back and forth between the two. The current open border was the result of the Good Friday agreement of 1999 that ended years of "The Troubles," bloody fighting between the indigenous ethnic Irish Gaelics (the Catholic Republicans) and the descendants of the English and Scottish invaders (the Protestant Unionists).

Today there are a lot of people who genuinely fear that fighting will resume in full force. This is not a trivial concern, in that there's still a great deal of hatred between some Gaelics and some English, and there are still walls separating neighborhoods in the province of Ulster, which spans both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and where there are still occasional flashes of violence. (See "23-Jun-11 News -- Sectarian violence in Northern Ireland grows again") (Paragraph corrected, 9-May)

Officially, Britain is scheduled to leave the EU in March 2019. There are huge unsolved problems having to do with trade, migration, citizens' rights, and Ireland for which solutions are nowhere in sight. Ireland and the EU are demanding a proposal on the Ireland "frictionless border" by June, and it will not be met.

Other deadlines are approaching as well. Concerns are widespread that the Brexit process is collapsing into a huge, unmanageable mess.

And why wasn't Boris Johnson fired? For that matter, why hasn't Theresa May lost her job as well. The answer, according to many analysts I hear, is that nobody else wants these jobs, under the current circumstances. BBC and Reuters and Express (London) and RTE (Ireland)

Theresa May's two delusional proposals - Customs Partnership and Maximum Facilitation

Any Brexit proposal by Britain also has to be approved by the EU27, the 27 nations of the EU excluding the UK. Theresa May has two proposals both of which are delusional for many reasons, not the least of which is that there is no chance that the EU27 will approve either of them. But the British politicians and the British press keep talking about them without even considering whether the EU will approve them.

One proposal is called the "Customs Partnership." Businesses shipping goods from foreign countries into Britain will be charged tariffs according to EU rules. The goods will then be tracked, and if they stay in Britain, then the businesses can claim a rebate of any overpayment. If not, then Britain forwards the tariff to the EU.

This leaves the Irish border frictionless, since goods can flow across the border freely, since the tariff has already been paid.

This is the plan that Boris Johnson is calling "crazy," because Britain would still be bound by EU rules that the whole Brexit plan was supposed to free them of:

"It’s totally untried and would make it very, very difficult to do free trade deals.

If you have the new customs partnership, you have a crazy system whereby you end up collecting the tariffs on behalf of the EU at the UK frontier.

If the EU decides to impose punitive tariffs on something the UK wants to bring in cheaply there’s nothing you can do.

That’s not taking back control of your trade policy, it’s not taking back control of your laws, it’s not taking back control of your borders and it’s actually not taking back control of your money either, because tariffs would get paid centrally back to Brussels."

He said that the plan would create "a whole new web of bureaucracy," and would not meet the key test of Britain "taking back control" from Brussels. In other words, the Customs Partnership would defeat the whole purpose of Brexit.

Theresa May's second proposal is called "Maximum Facilitation."

Shipping firms would operate as "trusted traders" so they can move goods freely as EU tariff is only paid when goods arrive in destination country. Goods would be electronically tracked and pre-cleared with tax authorities. There would be a frictionless border in Ireland, because goods would move freely back and forth, and would be tracked by means of some yet to be developed technology.

The EU has dismissed this proposal as "magical thinking," because it assumes that "trusted traders" can be trusted, and because the required technology is not possible in the foreseeable future. Daily Mail (London) and The Week (UK) and Guardian (London)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-May-18 World View -- Brexit negotiations in crisis as deadlines approach with no agreements thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-May-2018) Permanent Link
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8-May-18 World View -- Cambodia's dictatorial Hun Sen forces sale of independent Phnom Penh Post

Phnom Penh Post had a combative relationship with Hun Sen

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Cambodia's dictatorial Hun Sen forces sale of independent Phnom Penh Post
  • Phnom Penh Post had a combative relationship with Hun Sen

Cambodia's dictatorial Hun Sen forces sale of independent Phnom Penh Post


Phnom Penh Post on November 13, 2017 (Reuters)
Phnom Penh Post on November 13, 2017 (Reuters)

Cambodia's last independent newspaper, the Phnom Penh Post, is in crisis after the editor-in-chief was fired for refusing to take down an article critical of the new owner, and several senior reporters subsequently resigned after being ordered to take down the same article.

Hun Sen, Cambodia's leader for 33 years, has become increasingly dictatorial since the opposition political party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) almost won the 2013 election, and has become increasingly popular since then. With another election scheduled for July of this year, Hun Sen has solved the problem by arresting CNRP leaders and jailing them on phony charges, and even getting the Supreme Court to declare the CNRP to be an illegal political party. In addition, Hun Sen has been jailing protesters, and shutting down media sources not controlled by the government.

The weekend sale of the Phnom Penh Post is the latest example of Hun Sen's dictatorial takeover. The Cambodian government forced the previous owner to sell by imposing an enormous $3.9 million tax bill on the paper. The only other independent newspaper in the country, the Cambodian Daily, was forced to shut down last year after receiving a $6.3 million tax bill.

An announcement on Saturday said that the Phnom Penh Post had been sold to a Malaysian investor, Sivakumar Ganapathy, executive director of the Malaysia firm Asia PR.

Sivakumar's first act as owner was to issue a statement saying that the newspaper would remain independent.

But then Sivakumar's next act as owner was to demand that the editor-in-chief take down an article posted on Sunday detailing the sale and Sivakumar's background, and then fire him for refusing.

Then Sivakumar fired the editor-in-chief, and when he demanded of the other senior editors to take the article down, there was a mass resignation.

As of Monday evening ET, the article still has not been taken down, and I was still able to access it. (Perhaps after all the senior reporters left, there was no one left with a password to the servers.)

The article described numerous examples of Sivakumar's close relationships with Hun Sen and the Cambodian government, suggesting that Sivakumar might be controlled by Hun Sen. AFP and Phnom Penh Post (6-May) and Australian Broadcasting and BBC

Phnom Penh Post had a combative relationship with Hun Sen

As an example of other articles that might have triggered Hun Sen's decision to make sure that the Phnom Penh Post would become government-controlled, an article last week described Hun Sen's "catch and release policy." The way it works is that opposition figures are arrested on phony charges, kept in jail for as many months or years as necessary, and then released just in time to achieve some objective.

For example, an opposition politician Bun Chhay was jailed on August 4 of last year, supposedly on some decade old drug charges, but just when it appeared he would pose a legitimate political challenge. Then on September 3 Sourn Serey Ratha, head of the tiny Khmer Power Party, was arrested over a Facebook post criticizing the government’s recent military stand-off with Laos.

This cleared away the only viable competitors to Hun Sen's reelection, but the arrests caused an international uproar, with threats by the US and the EU to withdraw aid. According to the Phnom Penh Post article, the "catch and release" strategy was completed last week:

"Last week, the EU publicly acknowledged that it would be taking the extraordinary step of sending a team to review its General Scheme of Preferences with Cambodia – raising questions about the future of tariff-free access to one Cambodia’s largest trading partners. The pressure was reaching a head.

Days later, Nhek Bun Chhay walked out of jail.

“While it would seem that the [Cambodian People’s Party] has the upcoming election neatly sewed up, perhaps Hun Sen views him as a figure who can help diversify the electoral field just enough to gain some international credibility, while remaining too marginal to pose any real threat to the CPP’s power,” Strangio said."

Whether the EU will be fooled by this remains to be seen.

However, placing new sanctions on Cambodia will likely not have much effect. Cambodia is becoming China's most important political ally in the region. Already, between 2011 and 2015 Chinese firms funneled nearly $5 billion in loans and investment to Cambodia, mostly for major infrastructure projects, while making no demands on how Hun Sen runs the country. Like Pakistan, Cambodia is expected to be an obedient ally of China, and to follow China's policy directives in return for money. Phnom Penh Post (2-May) and Reuters and Reporters Without Borders and Nikkei Asia Review and The Diplomat (15-Jan)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-May-18 World View -- Cambodia's dictatorial Hun Sen forces sale of independent Phnom Penh Post thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-May-2018) Permanent Link
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7-May-18 World View -- Pakistan's interior minister shot by member of loony anti-blasphemy Barelvi sect

Barelvi sect and Tehreek-e-Labaik political party surge in popularity

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Pakistan's interior minister shot by member of loony anti-blasphemy Barelvi sect
  • Barelvi sect and Tehreek-e-Labaik political party surge in popularity

Pakistan's interior minister shot by member of loony anti-blasphemy Barelvi sect


Ahsan Iqbal (AP)
Ahsan Iqbal (AP)

Pakistan’s interior minister Ahsan Iqbal was shot in the arm in an assassination attempt as he spoke at a public meeting on Sunday. The gunman was about to fire a second shot when he was overpowered by people around him. It's believed that Iqbal will survive.

The gunman was Abid Hussain, 21, affiliated with the ultra-religious Tehreek-e-Labaik party, which is the political party of the loony Barelvi sect that believes that anyone accused of blasphemy should be executed.

This was not the first physical attack on Iqbal this year. A man threw a shoe at him while he was addressing a workers convention in February. Iqbal wasn't hurt and refused to press charges, so the police never investigated the motive of the perpetrator, or whether he was also a member of Tehreek-e-Labaik. (One media source claims that shoe-throwing as a form of insult is practiced in many countries, and is mentioned in the Bible in Psalms 108:9.)

The usual questions are being asked about why security at Sunday's event was so lax that a gunman was able to get into the event. The reason being given is that the levels of terrorist violence in Pakistan have been decreasing in the last two years, and so less security is being used at events like this.

Federal elections will be held this summer, and the number of political rallies will be increasing substantially. Sunday's assassination attempt is raising concerns that there may be additional terrorist attacks at this rallies as the election approaches. Express Tribune (Pakistan) and Reuters and Pakistan Today (24-Feb) and Bible Study Tools

Barelvi sect and Tehreek-e-Labaik political party surge in popularity

In January 2011, Salman Taseer, the governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, was shot and killed in broad daylight on an Islamabad street by Malik Mumtaz Qadri, a member of the "Elite Force" of bodyguards that were supposed to protect him. Taseer was shot 27 times in the back. Qadri confessed to the killing, and blamed it on Taseer's opposition to Pakistan's blasphemy law, which forbids blaspheming Mohammed or Islam. When Qadri arrived in court a few days later, Islamist lawyers showed him with roses.

Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the head of the Barelvi sect, was unknown in Pakistan until he became Qadri's principal defender after the Taseer assassination. Rizvi also became the principal defender of the blasphemy law that Taseer had wanted to change, and organized public support for the law.

The text of the blasphemy law, section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, is as follows:

"Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine."

This loony law has been massively abused in Pakistan. In Pakistan, if you want to kill your neighbor, make up some reason why he violated the blasphemy law, and then kill him, and you'll probably get away with it.

Rizvi's aggressive support for the blasphemy law has made his Barelvi sect increasingly popular, and he was able to exhibit his power forcefully in October of last year. The government made a minor textual change to a government oath, and a mob of people belonging to the ehreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah of Pakistan (TLYR or TLYRAP) political party, coming from the Barelvi sect, were able to paralyze multiple cities across Pakistan, with major roads blocked by a mobs of tens of thousands of Islamists in sit-ins, escalating into clashes with thousands of police.

After weeks of paralysis, the Barelvi TYRAP party scored an enormous victory by forcing the government to completely capitulate to their demands. These demands included resignations of top government officials who made the text change, or who might have known about it.

Barelvi TYRAP party has been gaining in popularity, and elections will be held this summer. Sunday's attempted assassination has raised concerns that Pakistan's loony blasphemy laws will be used to incite move violence, as well as to create a popular movement. The Nation (Pakistan, 18-Nov-2017) and Eurasia Review and The Nation (Pakistan, 18-Nov-2017)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-May-18 World View -- Pakistan's interior minister shot by member of loony anti-blasphemy Barelvi sect thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-May-2018) Permanent Link
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6-May-18 World View -- Muslim vs Catholic violence surges again in Central African Republic

Angry protesters bring corpses to MINUSCA headquarters in Bangui

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Muslim vs Catholic violence surges again in CAR capital city Bangui
  • Angry protesters bring corpses to MINUSCA headquarters in Bangui
  • The self-defense group 'The Force' gets revenge
  • Central African Republic crisis civil war continues

Muslim vs Catholic violence surges again in CAR capital city Bangui


Aftermath of violence clashes in Bangui, CAR, on May 1 (Defense Post)
Aftermath of violence clashes in Bangui, CAR, on May 1 (Defense Post)

Sectarian Muslim versus Christian violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) has continued with armed groups and marauding gangs, both Muslim and Christian, almost nonstop across the country, since the violence began in 2013. The capital city Bangui has been relatively spared from violence in the last year, but this has changed in the last month, with sectarian attacks killing dozens of people, including attacks on a Catholic Church and a mosque.

The violence mostly took place in the PK5 district of Bangui. Bangui is a mostly Catholic city, but PK5 is a mostly Muslim enclave within Bangui. I wrote about PK5 in November 2015, when Pope Francis visited Bangui, and particularly paid a visit to the PK5 mosque.

The exact sequence of events isn't completely clear, but it appears that the violence began early in April when MINUSCA, the UN peacekeeper mission for CAR, joined local CAR security forces to launch a joint security operation in PK5 to dismantle militia bases that were hiding out in PK5.

MINUSCA is the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (CAR), launched in April 2014 as a peacekeeping mission. Unfortunately, there has been little peace for MINUSCA to keep. CAR is a huge country, and pretty much the entire country is in flames, so MINUSCA has mostly restricted itself to Bangui.

On April 10, the joint security operation turned into a bloody massacre, as the security forces battled several armed groups in PK5, known as the "self-defense forces," a name that reflects lack of respect in the Muslim community for either MINUSCA or CAR's current government. A total of 21 people were killed in a four-hour gun battle between the security forces and the self-defense forces, including a peacekeeper from Rwanda. 11 peacekeepers were wounded. AFP (9-Apr)

Angry protesters bring corpses to MINUSCA headquarters in Bangui

On April 11, hundreds of angry demonstrators from PK5 held a peaceful march in Bangui, and in a dramatic gesture, carried the corpses of 17 of the 21 who had been killed, and laid the corpses in front of the MINUSCA mission headquarters. According to one demonstrator:

"We, ourselves, no longer understand anything. Does their mission consist of shooting at civilians?"

MINUSCA denied that civilians had been targeted, and said that only criminal gangs had been targeted. A spokesman criticized the demonstrators:

"This is not an operation against communities and specifically the Muslim community. The Muslim community asked our troops to launch the operation and put an end to the criminal activities.

We regret the fact that the bodies were being manipulated, while they should be buried like every person who dies."

So-called Muslim "self-defense groups" have been springing up in PK5, claiming to protect the Muslim civilians.

The relationship between MINUSCA and the self-defense groups has become increasingly acrimonious. The self-defense groups claim that MINUSCA is trying to drive the Muslims out of Bangui entirely, while MINUSCA accuses them of extortion and violence against civilians. Reuters (11-Apr) and The Defense Post

The self-defense group 'The Force' gets revenge

One of the PK5 self-defense groups, "The Force," got revenge on May 1 when gunmen attacked a service at a Catholic Church in Bangui. Some 2000 people had gathered for the service, when armed men threw grenades and fired on the church. The attack lasted for hours, killing a priest and at least 15 people from the church, and injuring hundreds more.

After attacking the church, the perpetrators moved into neighboring districts, looting shops and homes and attacking civilians. An Evangelical church member was killed outside his home.

Various officials offered the usual rhetoric. The head of the Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Mervyn Thomas said:

"We extend our condolences to the parishioners of Our Lady Fatima Church, to the family of Albert Toungoumale Baba and to all those who have been bereaved.

The attack on a place of worship not only violates the right to freedom of religion or belief, but also threatens the social fabric of the community that religious leaders of all faiths have worked to maintain throughout the recent conflict."

Amnesty International issued the usual near-boilerplate statement:

"Central African authorities and MINUSCA must send an immediate and clear message to all armed groups and their allies in CAR: No attack against civilians will be tolerated and all those suspected of committing war crimes and other serious human rights violations and abuses will be brought to justice."

La Libre (Belgium) (Translation) and Premier (UK) and Amnesty International

Central African Republic crisis civil war continues

Despite Amnesty International's laughable rhetoric, "No attack against civilians will be tolerated," CAR is in a generational crisis civil war, and there's no end in sight.

The CAR sectarian war began in March 2013, when François Bozizé, the Christian former president of CAR, was ousted in a coup in March 2013 by Michel Djotodia, a Muslim, who became president and served until January 2014.

After Djotodia's coup took place in March 2013, Muslim Seleka militias began committing atrocities, particularly targeting the Christian constituencies of the deposed François Bozizé. In December 2013, French Foreign Legion peacekeeping troops arrived to disarm the Seleka militias.

The peacekeepers succeeded, but then the Christian anti-balaka militias "rushed into the vacuum," and began committing atrocities in 2014, for revenge against the Selekas. Since then, both Christians and Muslims have been committing atrocities, and it's become a full-scale generational crisis war. Thousands have been killed, and millions have been displaced.

Although the CAR war appears to be entirely sectarian, that isn't entirely true. The Muslims are mostly herders, while the Christians are mostly farmers, and this is the same kind of conflict between herders and farmers that I've described in Central African Republic, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, Nigeria, and even America in the 1800s. As population grows, the farmers accuse the herders of letting the cattle eat their crops, while the herders accuse the farmers of planting on land that's meant for grazing. If the farmers put up fences, then the herders knock them down. In CAR, there have been situations where Muslim and Christian farmers were united in fighting Muslim herders.

As I've explained in the past, CAR's last generational crisis war was the 1928-1931 Kongo-Wara Rebellion ("War of the Hoe Handle"), which was a very long time ago, putting CAR today deep into a generational Crisis era, where a new crisis war is increasingly likely. ( "2-Oct-15 World View -- Violence resurges in Central African Republic crisis war")

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-May-18 World View -- Muslim vs Catholic violence surges again in Central African Republic thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-May-2018) Permanent Link
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5-May-18 World View -- UAE troops and tanks deployed to Yemen's Socotra island in dispute with Saudi Arabia

Rift grows between Saudi Arabia and UAE in Yemen

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Residents of Yemen's Socotra island protest UAE military deployment
  • Rift grows between Saudi Arabia and UAE in Yemen

Residents of Yemen's Socotra island protest UAE military deployment


Landscape of Socotra Island, with hundreds of plant species found only there.  Pictured are 'dragon's blood trees' (Corbis/Daily Mail)
Landscape of Socotra Island, with hundreds of plant species found only there. Pictured are 'dragon's blood trees' (Corbis/Daily Mail)

Residents of Socotra Island are reacting angrily and protesting about the increasing presence of hundreds of troops, tanks, armored transports and heavy equipment that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is deploying on the island in a power struggle with Saudi Arabia.

Socotra Island belongs to Yemen, and is strategically located south of Yemen where it oversees shipping traffic traveling from the Arabian Sea, through the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea through the Suez Canal.

Socotra Island is similar to the Galapagos Islands, in that it's been isolated for millions of years, allowing for the development of hundreds of unique plant species found nowhere else on earth. Because of its unique plant life, it has recently been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Since 2015, Yemen has been the target of a proxy war Iran-backed ethnic Houthis versus an Arab military coalition led by Saudi Arabia. The war has become an example of the old African proverb: "When elephants fight, it's the grass that suffers," in that the proxy war has caused endless misery to the ordinary people of Yemen, resulting in massive homelessness, starvation and cholera. The end of the war seems to be nowhere in sight.

Now the 60,000 people of the Socotra Island are being pulled into the war as well, with the UAE deployment. Many of these people are furious at the UAE, and some are even accusing the UAE of deploying the military in order to steal UNESCO-protected species of plants and animals from the island. Middle East Eye and Independent (London) and Al Jazeera and Daily Mail (London, 25-Sep-2013)

Rift grows between Saudi Arabia and UAE in Yemen

The internationally recognized government of Yemen is led by President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, who has been hiding out in Saudi Arabia because of the war with the Houthis. While the Houthis are backed by Iran, Hadi's government is backed by an coalition led by Saudi Arabia.

As the war has continued for years with no end in sight, we reported in January, that there has been a split between coalition members Saudi Arabia and UAE. This has resulted in military clashes between Saudi and UAE forces in the southern port city of Aden.

The UAE has been backing the Southern Transitional Council (STC), a separatist faction calling for the division of Yemen into Northern Yemen and Southern Yemen, and claiming Aden as the capital city of Southern Yemen.

The split between Saudi Arabia and UAE is potentially dangerous because UAE is attempting to extend its influence well beyond its borders into much of what the STC would like to be Southern Yemen. UAE's move to exert control over Socotra is seen as a further move in that direction. Anadolu (Turkey) and Middle East Eye (12-May-2017) and Press TV (Iran)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-May-18 World View -- UAE troops and tanks deployed to Yemen's Socotra island in dispute with Saudi Arabia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-May-2018) Permanent Link
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4-May-18 World View -- China deploys cruise and surface-to-air missiles in South China Sea

China's military attacks US pilots in Djibouti with high-grade blinding lasers

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • China deploys cruise and surface-to-air missiles in South China Sea
  • China's military attacks US pilots in Djibouti with high-grade blinding lasers

China deploys cruise and surface-to-air missiles in South China Sea


Chinese warship in South China Sea, April 12, 2018 (Getty)
Chinese warship in South China Sea, April 12, 2018 (Getty)

China has once again escalated its massive military occupation of the South China Sea by deploying offensive anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles systems. The missiles are being deployed on the artificial islands that China constructed in violation of international law, as the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague ruled that all of China's activities in the South China Sea are illegal.

According to military analyst Gregory Poling, it means that China will soon be deploying warplanes to the area:

"This should be seen as China crossing an important threshold. Missile platforms present a clear offensive threat. [The missile deployment] is a pretty clear threat to the other claimants and furthers China's goal of establishing complete control over the water and airspace of the South China Sea."

Even before this latest deployment, Navy Admiral Philip S. Davidson told the Senate that China already has the military power to control the entire South China Sea, and only war would be able to stop this:

"China's development of forward military bases in the South China Sea began in December 2013 when the first dredger arrived at Johnson Reef. Through 2015, China used dredging efforts to build up these reefs and create manmade islands, destroying the reefs in the process. Since then, China has constructed clear military facilities on the islands, with several bases including hangars, barracks, underground fuel and water storage facilities, and bunkers to house offense and defensive kinetic and non-kinetic systems. These actions stand in direct contrast to the assertion that President Xi made in 2015 in the Rose Garden when he commented that Beijing had no intent to militarize the South China Sea. Today these forward operating bases appear complete. The only thing lacking are the deployed forces.

Once occupied, China will be able to extend its influence thousands of miles to the south and project power deep into Oceania. The PLA will be able to use these bases to challenge U.S. presence in the region, and any forces deployed to the islands would easily overwhelm the military forces of any other South China Sea-claimants. In short, China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States."

As Davidson points out, China has repeatedly lied and hid its true intentions. Originally, the artificial islands were going to be for tourists and scientists, which was a lie. Then the military installations would be purely defensive, which was another lie. And now they're part of a massive militarization in anticipation, when preparation has been completed, to launch a full-scale war on America and its allies.

According to an article last month in Chinese media, China is close to announcing how much of each country's territory it plans to annex:

"A precise continuous line will split the Gulf of Tonkin between China and Vietnam, go south into waters claimed by Malaysia, take a U-turn to the north along the west coast of the Philippines and finish at the southeast of Taiwan."

China has also been increasingly threatening an belligerent with Vietnam, Japan and Australia, by demanding that they respect China's illegal sovereignty claims. China has also been increasingly military threatening to Taiwan, and may be close to a military invasion.

China has repeatedly hidden its intentions, and will continue to do so until it's prepared to launch its attack. China is following exactly the same path that the Nazis followed. Xi Jinping's "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics" is the same as Hitler's National Socialism. Like the Nazis, the Chinese believe that they're a Master Race that will conquer the world. They'd have to be crazy to believe that they could succeed at that, but the Chinese are crazy.

I frequently like to quote Friedrich Nietzsche, who said, "Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule." The Chinese will not be the Master Race that rules the world. Instead, they'll do exactly what the Nazis did -- bring destruction and catastrophe to themselves and the world. CNBC and The Diplomat and Newsweek (20-Apr) and US Senate (PDF, 17-Apr) and South China Morning Post (22-Apr)

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China's military attacks US pilots in Djibouti with high-grade blinding lasers


Opening ceremony of China's military base in Djibouti, August 1, 2017 (AFP)
Opening ceremony of China's military base in Djibouti, August 1, 2017 (AFP)

China's belligerent military actions in the South China Sea are being repeated as well in the horn of Africa.

Chinese military personnel are using high-grade blinding lasers to target American pilots and American military crews flying over Djibouti in northeast Africa (the horn of Africa), according to the Pentagon.

There were several incidents in the past several weeks. No one has lost his life, but several Americans have received eye injuries.

The Americans are stationed in Djibouti at the Camp Lemonnier naval base which is the primary base of operations and logistics hub for missions across Africa. It supports approximately 4,000 U.S., joint and allied forces military and civilian personnel and defense contractors.

Camp Lemonnier was built in 2001, but is now being challenged by a new Chinese base in Djibouti, built in 2017. The US has formally protested to China's government, and "requested" that China launch an investigation of the situation.

As we reported last month, there is a parallel development in progress. Djibouti's strategic port at the entrance to the Red Sea is the Doraleh Container Terminal. A Dubai firm, DP World, had been operating the terminal since 2006, when DP World had signed a 30 year contract.

In February, Djibouti seized control of the terminal, and abruptly terminated the contract without notice. Next, Djibouti signed a contract with Singapore-based Pacific International Lines (PIL), a company that works with China Merchants Port Holdings, to operate the terminal. So it appears that China is poised to take control of the entire Djibouti seaport.

Whether in the South China Sea or Djibouti, China constantly lies and hides its intentions. China has been attacking American pilots and flight crews with high-powered lasers. We have to assume that this is not some rogue Chinese soldier, but is actual policy of the Chinese military, presumably to test out their laser systems in preparation for war. CNN and Washington Examiner and Washington Post

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-May-18 World View -- China deploys cruise and surface-to-air missiles in South China Sea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-May-2018) Permanent Link
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3-May-18 World View -- Israel reveals intelligence coup on Iran's nuclear weapons program

Importance of 2003 Iraq War revealed by the Iranian intelligence coup

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Israel reveals intelligence coup on Iran's nuclear weapons program
  • Importance of 2003 Iraq War revealed by the Iranian intelligence coup

Israel reveals intelligence coup on Iran's nuclear weapons program


Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands next to a facsimile of the intelligence archive that Mossad had taken from a Tehran warehouse in January (Times of Israel)
Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands next to a facsimile of the intelligence archive that Mossad had taken from a Tehran warehouse in January (Times of Israel)

Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday revealed the results of a massive intelligence coup by Israel's intelligence agency Mossad.

In February 2016, spies from Mossad discovered the top-secret location of a warehouse in Iran's capital city Tehran where thousands of documents related to Iran's past nuclear weapons developments were stored. Mossad operatives broke into the building one night in January of this year, removed half a ton of archived documents, and smuggled them back to Israel the same night. The material included 55,000 pages and another 55,000 files on 183 CDs.

The archived material was of Iran's nuclear program that began in the 1980s, and ended in 2003, when the Iraq war revealed that Saddam Hussein was not developing WMDs.

The trove of intelligence data is being used in the debate over what the Trump administration should do on May 12, when it must decide whether to abandon the nuclear deal that the West signed with Iran, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Those who favor continuing to support the JCPOA say that there's nothing in the trove of data that indicates that Iran has violated any of its obligations under the treaty, and that appears to be true.

Those who oppose continuing to support the JCPOA say that Iran lied about the extent of its nuclear weapons program that ended in 2003. In particular, they say that Iran claimed that the nuclear development was only for peaceful purposes, while the intelligence data provides extensive technical information on how Iran was developing nuclear weapons.

Those who favor continuing to support the JCPOA say nothing revealed in the intelligence haul was new, and that in fact it was known and published in a 2011 document from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Those who oppose continuing to support the JCPOA say that the 2011 IAEA document contains only a small fraction of the information that was revealed in the intelligence trove, and that furthermore Iran had not destroyed all the work in its nuclear weapons program, as it had promised.

So this is all going to be a major heated and sometimes acrimonious debate between now and May 12, when President Trump will announce the administration's decision on whether to continue to support the JCPOA.

It's also worth noting that in October 2015, Hashemi Rafsanjani, the head of Iran's Expediency Council, said in a televised interview that Iran had begun developing nuclear weapons in the 1980s during the Iran/Iraq war, and continued development for many years. Times of Israel and International Atomic Energy Commission-IAEA (PDF,2011) and Times of Israel

Importance of 2003 Iraq War revealed by the Iranian intelligence coup

Even by the extremely low to nonexistent standards of today's journalists and today's politicians, the statements made about the Iraq war on a daily basis are abysmally ignorant, saying that it was a catastrophe and the worst war in American history and other idiotic things. Actually, it's the people who opposed the Iraq war in 2003 who owe the world an apology, since they were unwilling to stop Saddam Hussein from using WMDs to kill thousands of people.

The new intelligence trove from Iran provides further evidence that NOT pursuing the Iraq war could have been a catastrophe.

We now know that the Iran had a very aggressive nuclear weapons development program that began in the 1980s during the Iran/Iraq war, at a time when Saddam Hussein was using mustard gas and other WMDs on Kurds and Iranians.

This program continued until October 2003, when Iran's Supreme Leader Seyed Ali Khamenei issued a fatwa ending all nuclear weapons development. The fatwa was issued because the American invasion of Iraq and the defeat of Saddam Hussein had ended any possibility of Iraq developing nuclear weapons. Iran had already been victimized by Saddam's WMDs, and in 2003 Saddam was refusing IAEA inspections, so without the Iraq war there was little doubt that Saddam would continue development of WMDs, and possibly nuclear weapons.

If it hadn't been for the Iraq war, then Iran would have continued nuclear weapons development, and would be a major nuclear weapons power in the Mideast today. Furthermore, since Iran has been working with North Korea, North Korea would also be a major nuclear weapons power today.

Saudi Arabia would not have simply tolerated a nuclear Iran, so it would have obtained its own nuclear weapons from Pakistan. Saddam Hussein would undoubtedly at least continued development of WMDs. So the Mideast and the world would be very different and infinitely more dangerous places today if it hadn't been for the Iraq war. Bloomberg

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-May-18 World View -- Israel reveals intelligence coup on Iran's nuclear weapons program thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-May-2018) Permanent Link
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2-May-18 World View -- Russia confounded by the chaotic popular uprising in Armenia

Armenia in a generational Awakening era

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Armenia's parliament refuses to support popular opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan
  • Nikol Pashinyan pledges loyalty to Russia, and everyone else
  • Armenia in a generational Awakening era

Armenia's parliament refuses to support popular opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan


Supporters of Nikol Pashinyan demonstrate in Yerevan (Pravda)
Supporters of Nikol Pashinyan demonstrate in Yerevan (Pravda)

Armenia's political turmoil went into full-scale chaos on Tuesday, when the governing Republican party, which has a majority in the parliament, refused to support opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan's bid to become prime minister, leaving the country with no prime minister and no obvious alternate candidate.

Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan stepped down as prime minister on August 23, in the face of huge street protests led by Pashinyan, and his threats to shut down the country with nationwide protests and strikes. ( "26-Apr-18 World View -- Armenia's protesters continue protesting after forcing resignation of prime minister")

After the parliament on Tuesday had hours of acrimonious debate and then refused to elect Pashinyan as the new prime minister to replace Sargsyan, there were once again tens of thousands of protesters in Republic Square in the capital city Yerevan. Pashinyan told the cheering supporters, "We will block the streets, the airports, the metro, the railway, everything that can be blocked."

The protests are expected to continue. The parliament will hold another vote on May 8, and if no prime minister is elected, then the parliament will be dissolved, and new elections will be held. News (Armenia) and BBC and Reuters and Bloomberg

Nikol Pashinyan pledges loyalty to Russia, and everyone else

The turmoil in Armenia is of crucial importance to Russia because Armenia under Serzh Sargsyan was a close ally to Russia and followed Russia's policy. Russia has an airbase in Armenia, and in 2013, Armenia chose to join a Russian-led customs union, rather than sign an association agreement with Armenia.

The rapid collapse last week of the Sargsyan government sends shock waves through Moscow because of visceral fears that a popular uprising could similar bring about the collapse of Russia's government, led by president Vladimir Putin. Those who consider this idea far-fetched might think back to 1991, when a popular uprising led to the collapse of the Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev, and its replacement by a government led by Boris Yeltsin.

In the last ten years, Russia has used military force in Ukraine and Georgia in the face of threats of the governments of those countries to align themselves with the European Union rather than Russia. Until last month, Armenia was safely on Russia's team, but now that's no longer certain.

Prior to the election in parliament that rejected his bid to become prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan gave a speech outlining his policies, including the following "foreign policy":

"If I am elected, Armenia will not make turns in the foreign policy domain; it will remain a member of the EAEU and the CSTO. This position does not stem from a person’s taste, but the logic of the movement that brought victory to the people. Demanding numerous changes in domestic life, the people did not and do not demand any change in foreign policy domain. We considered and consider Russia the strategic ally of Armenia, and this movement does not pose any threat to the [Russian Federation].

We will deepen relations with the European Union and the EU member countries. We will do everything for the [Republic of Armenia] citizens toward the EU visa regime abolition; we expect to start negotiations on it in the nearest future. The soonest implementation of the EU-Armenia agreement stems from our own interests. The government that I will head will deepen relations with the US, China, will remain committed to the process of [Armenian] Genocide recognition; Armenia will continue playing the role of the pioneer on this matter."

Pashinyan's speech could hardly have been reassuring to Russian officials. But the current situation, where Pashinyan was rejected by the legislature, and massive protests and demonstrations are continuing in the streets, can hardly be considered any better. Jamestown and News (Armenia) and Tass (Russia) and AFP (26-Apr)

Armenia in a generational Awakening era

According to some reports, Russian officials have been caught by surprise by the rapid collapse of the Serzh Sargsyan government, since they had expected Sargsyan to have used military force to stop the protests and remain in power. Perhaps the Russians were thinking of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, who stopped similar protests by sending missiles into school dormitories to kill children, or dropping barrel bombs laden with metal, chlorine, ammonia, phosphorous and chemical weapons on civilian neighborhoods, or using Sarin gas to kill large groups of people.

For those interested in the theoretical aspects of Generational Dynamics, it's worth taking a moment to sort out what's happening.

As I described a couple of times, Armenia is in a generational Awakening era, one generation past the bloody conflict in 1989-94 versus Azerbaijan over the enclave Nagorno-Karabakh. In this sense, Armenia is similar to America in the 1960s, one generation past the end of World War II.

Every generational Awakening era (including the Unraveling era that follows) is politically torn by a "generation gap" that pits the traumatized survivors of the preceding crisis war versus their children, the generations that grow up after the crisis war and have no personal memories of its horrors and atrocities.

Regular readers know that there's been a great deal of theoretical development on how these Awakening eras differ, depending on whether the preceding crisis war was an external war with another country versus an internal crisis civil war between tribes and ethnic groups. In the former case, the two armies each withdraw from the other country, and further contact between the populations is done diplomatically. But in the latter case, the two populations to live with each other when the war ends -- in the same country, the same villages and even on the same streets. This means that the hatred and the desire for revenge continue at a very personal level.

In the case of popular protests when the previous crisis war was an ethnic or tribal civil war, the protests are taken as a sign that the civil war is beginning again, and the government uses that as an excuse to use massacres, extrajudicial killings, jailings, torture, rape and other atrocities on the political opposition. The extreme example is Bashar al-Assad, whom I've described is the worst genocidal monster and war criminal so far this century. But I've also described the same phenomenon, with varying levels of violence, with Paul Biya in Cameroon, Pierre Nkurunziza in Burundi, Paul Kagame in Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Joseph Kabila in DRC, or, outside of Africa, Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Hun Sen in Cambodia and Maithripala Sirisena in Sri Lanka.

But if the last crisis war was an external war, then popular protests are not viewed as posing a similar sort of threat, and lead to an "Awakening climax" which is often a bloodless coup. This is what happened in America when Richard Nixon resigned in 1974, and is what is happening now in Armenia with the forced resignation of Serzh Sargsyan.

It's impossible to predict how this political chaos in Armenia will sort itself out. Right now, it appears that Nikol Pashinyan is so popular, that one way or another he's going to become prime minister, after which probably the same mobs that put him into power will turn against him, and he'll go from being the most popular to being the most unpopular. The only thing we can be sure of is that the chaos is going to continue for some time to come, and the only thing that Russians can do is watch and see what happens. Pravda (Moscow) and Chai Khana (Georgia) and World Policy Institute

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-May-18 World View -- Russia confounded by the chaotic popular uprising in Armenia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-May-2018) Permanent Link
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1-May-18 World View -- Nine journalists killed by suicide bombers in Kabul Afghanistan

Analysts guess at why Afghanistan's security situation keeps deteriorating

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Nine journalists killed by suicide bombers in Kabul Afghanistan
  • The Taliban announces the Spring fighting season, codename Al Khandaq
  • Analysts guess at why Afghanistan's security situation keeps deteriorating

Nine journalists killed by suicide bombers in Kabul Afghanistan


Security forces run from the second coordinated suicide attack bombing in Kabul on Monday (AP)
Security forces run from the second coordinated suicide attack bombing in Kabul on Monday (AP)

Two coordinated suicide bombings on Monday in Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan, killed at least 26 people, including nine journalists, who were apparently targeted. The first suicide bomber was on a motorbike and exploded his device near Afghan intelligence headquarters in Kabul. After the initial suicide bombings, journalists arrived to report on it, and were targeted by a second suicide bomber.

There were other terror attacks in cities across Afghanistan on Monday, including a car bombing in Kandahar province that killed eight Romanian soldiers, as well as multiple Afghan police officers and civilians.

Last Sunday, a massive terror attack in Kabul killed 60 people as they waited in a voter registration center, in a region of the city inhabited by members of the mainly Shia ethnic Hazara community, whom the Taliban has frequently targeted. Tolo News (Afghanistan) and Reuters and Business Insider

The Taliban announces the Spring fighting season, codename Al Khandaq

This new series of attacks just a few days after the Taliban announced its 2018 fighting season, codenamed "Al Khandaq." According to the Taliban announcement:

"The planning and strategy of the Al Khandaq Jihadi operations are organized by the expert and proficient skilled cadre of the Military Commission of the Islamic Emirate which is based on guerilla, offensive, infiltrated and various other new and intricate tactics against the new war strategy of the enemy, mainly focusing on crushing, killing and capturing American invaders and their supporters. ...

Besides sustaining the ongoing illegitimate occupation, the newly adopted war strategy of Trump has been ruthlessly implemented in the villages and rural areas against our oppressed Afghan people for the past nine months. Thousands of additional foreign forces are being deployed inside Afghanistan and they are supplied with new devastating weapons and vast military authorities."

The Taliban statement dismissed efforts at bringing about peace negotiations as "deceptive efforts" launched by the "ineffectual and corrupt officials of the puppet regime inside and outside the country are nothing but a conspiracy orchestrated by the foreign occupiers for enervating." Daily Times (Pakistan)

Analysts guess at why Afghanistan's security situation keeps deteriorating

Every time I read an article by an analyst or journalist trying to explain why the security situation in Afghanistan has been deteriorating for years, it's pretty clear that they don't even know the most basic facts about the country. I've been explaining for years why any sort of "victory" in Afghanistan is impossible, and the reasons I gave years ago are still true today. I'll repeat them below, but first, let's take a look at some of the reasons that the media are providing.

Axios writer Michael Kugelman gives three reasons that don't even make as much sense as a Donald Duck cartoon. Here are his reasons:

  • Intensified U.S. military pressure. According to Klugman, increased pressure by the US military is driving the Taliban to terror attacks in the cities. So is he saying that if there were les US military pressure, then there would be fewer terror attacks? This reasoning is almost a joke, especially since the security situation has been deteriorating rapidly since the withdrawal of U.S. troops began in 2014.
  • The Taliban is a national insurgency determined to weaken if not overthrow the Afghan state. That's an easy, fatuous reason that's been true for 15 years, but it doesn't explain what's different now.
  • The Taliban and ISIS are staging terror attacks because they're easy to pull off. By this vacuous reasoning, there should be terror attacks in almost every country in the world.

Kugelman's reasons were completely empty-headed, but a more intelligent attempt was made by Allison Jackson, AFP's Kabul Bureau chief. Jackson gave her reasons in an interview on Monday on RFI. Jackson was asked whether the security situation has deteriorated (my transcription):

"Absolutely. I don't know anyone who would say otherwise. I've only been here 8 months, but everyone I speak to says since 2014 the security situation has deteriorated significantly, and now it's the worst it's ever been, and there are a number of reasons for that.

Nato ended its combat mission at the end of 2014. Since then, the Taliban has been resurgent, and is taking back a lot of the territory that they had lost while the Nato combat troops were on the ground, and the US presence is obviously much more diminished in comparison to what it was pre-2014.

And Islamic State would have been merged in Afghanistan in 2014 2015, and they claimed their first major attack in 2016, in the summer of 2016, with an attack on Shias, and since then have launched more than a dozen attacks in Kabul alone.

They've come under significant pressure. The Taliban has also come under significant pressure, following Donald Trump's new strategy in August, and that announcement basically gave the US air force and special forces much more leeway to go after the Taliban, IS, other militant groups. I think what these sorts of attacks show is that even in the heart of Kabul, ordinary Afghans are extremely vulnerable, the government is not able to secure the capital city. Resolute Support, which is the name of Nato's mission here, has said that protecting Kabul is a priority, but they've also admitted that it's very difficult to protect a city that is so porous as Kabul."

Jackson's entire explanation is that the security situation has worsened because of the withdrawal of most Nato forces in 2014. That makes sense, but it's not particularly useful because it doesn't explain why Nato forces are needed in the first place. There are dozens of countries where no Nato troops aren't deployed. Why does Afghanistan have terror attacks when those countries don't?

Kugelman's office is in Washington DC, far from Afghanistan, so there's no reason to expect him to know anything, unless he makes a special effort, which apparently he hasn't.

But Jackson has been Kabul bureau chief for eight months. During that eight months, she might have learned something about the shifting ethnic and generational pressures that are bringing about these Taliban terror attacks.

As I've explained many times, Afghanistan's last generational crisis war was the extremely bloody Afghan crisis civil war, 1991-96, which mostly pitted the ethnic Pashtuns, who are Sunni Muslims and later formed the Taliban, versus the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan. Now, twenty years later, Afghanistan is in a generational Awakening era, and a new young generation of Pashtuns is coming of age, raised on stories their parents told them about the atrocities committed by the Northern Alliance, and they're looking for revenge.

But you don't have to know anything about generational history to understand what's going on. You just have to understand that there was an extremely bloody, violent civil war in 1991-96, pitting the Pashtuns versus the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan. And you have to know that the Taliban are Pashtuns, and that young Pashtuns are looking for revenge for atrocities committed in the 1990s, and that Nato troops are completely irrelevant.

Those are simple facts that Amy Jackson might have learned during her eight months in Kabul, or that even Michael Kugelman might have learned, even though he's in Washington. Then they could give more intelligent analyses.

However, as I've written in the past, I believe that this dynamic is understood by the Nato military, and by the US administration, and that they understand that this war cannot be won, but they have a larger purpose in mind. As war with China and Pakistan approaches, president Trump wants to keep American troops active in Afghanistan, and to continue to maintain several American military bases in Afghanistan, including two air bases in Bagram and Kandahar International Airport. These bases will be valuable in any future war with China. Under these circumstances, having troops in Afghanistan is what matters, whether the Taliban are defeated or not. Axios and ABC News

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-May-18 World View -- Nine journalists killed by suicide bombers in Kabul Afghanistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-May-2018) Permanent Link
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30-Apr-18 World View -- Pakistan's anti-American 'hope and change' candidate Imran Khan runs again

Imran Khan threatens an anti-American and pro-Chinese agenda

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Pakistan's anti-American 'hope and change' candidate Imran Khan runs again
  • Imran Khan threatens an anti-American and pro-Chinese agenda

Pakistan's anti-American 'hope and change' candidate Imran Khan runs again


Imran Khan at Sunday's rally in Lahore, Pakistan (Daily Pakistan)
Imran Khan at Sunday's rally in Lahore, Pakistan (Daily Pakistan)

Imran Khan, a Pashtun born in 1952, was one of Pakistan's greatest cricket players of all time, and was once voted as the "Sexiest Man of The Year" by Australia Magazine Oz. He turned to politics in the 1990s, and has become extremely colorful and extremely anti-American.

On Sunday, Khan officially began his campaign to become prime minister. Khan gave what he described as the most important speech of his life to a huge enthusiastic crowd of supporters in Lahore. This was the same venue as the rally in October 2011, when he stunned observers by drawing 100,000 people to the rally, far exceeding expectations. Saying that "It's time for a change," he promised to have closer ties with China, to distance Pakistan from the U.S., and to "convince" India to withdraw its military from the disputed regions of Kashmir and Jammu.

In Sunday's speech, he provided 11 points for change in Pakistan, in what might be described as a fairy tale worthy of Bernie Sanders. Here's a summary of the 11 points:

  • Invest maximum on development of people, on education for all.
  • Health facilities will be made available to all. "I will build hospitals in Pakistan where the poor wouldn’t have to worry about money and the rich wouldn’t need to go abroad for treatment."
  • "We don't have money to run countries, we're under heavy debts. I claim in front of you today that I will show you how to gather money from this nation." That will be done by revolutionizing the tax collection system.
  • Eradicate all corruption from Pakistan, one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
  • Revamp investment policy to attract giant investors. "We will reduce the tax on electricity and gas for our industries so that they could compete with Indian market."
  • Eradicate unemployment, and especially focus on boosting the tourism industry of Pakistan.
  • Improve agriculture and the lives of farmers. "Farmers work for the whole year and get nothing in the end. They are being exploited by the sugar mill mafia."
  • Bring Fata (the federally administered tribal area) into the mainstream.
  • Improve the environment, including the planting of 10 billion trees across Pakistan. "We can even clean the rivers."
  • Depoliticize the justice and police system, and eliminate extrajudicial killings.
  • Empower women through education. "Whatever I am today, it’s all because of my mother who made me a patriotic person and raised me to be a truthful person."

Khan referred to the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, by the name Quaid-i-Azam, and said:

"The Pakistan that Quaid-e-Azam wanted would afford equal rights to all citizens including the minorities, where the Hindu community, Sikhs, and Christians would be equal citizens. This country was to be formed on the model of Medina, where the basis of law was justice.

Prophet (PBUH) brought the entire Muslim nation towards truth and righteousness by way of his own example. The Muslim nation then ruled the entire world for 700 years but as soon as the royal system of kingdoms was established, the poor became poorer and the rich became richer. ...

“We are on crossroads today, on one end it’s disrespect and on the other, it’s dignity."

The last sentence refers to Khan's plan to sever all connections that Pakistan has to the United States, claiming that instead of being disrespected by the U.S., this move would restore Pakistan's dignity.

The speech is totally delusional. If Imran Khan were elected, he would turn Pakistan into another Venezuela. Daily Pakistan and The News (Pakistan)

Imran Khan threatens an anti-American and pro-Chinese agenda

Pakistan has been plagued by frequent terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda linked jihadist groups, usually part of Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP, Pakistan Taliban). These attacks have particularly targeted religious minorities in Pakistan. Shia Muslims are targeted most often, along with Hindus, Ahmadis and Christians.

In his speech on Sunday, Khan gave lip service to a Pakistan "where the Hindu community, Sikhs, and Christians would be equal citizens." However, the Taliban are radicalized Pashtuns, and Khan himself is a Pashtun, and appears to be sympathetic to the Taliban. He's openly supporting the Afghanistan Taliban.

Even though it's clear that the attacks in Pakistan by the Taliban are sectarian based, Khan insists on blaming them on the Americans and, in particular, by American drone strikes on Taliban terrorists in the Fata (federally administered tribal area along the border with Afghanistan). In 2013 he got his followers to blockade the "Khyber pass," a major route into Afghanistan that is heavily used by Nato forces to truck equipment between the port of Karachi and Nato bases in Afghanistan. The blockade finally ended in February 2014.

On January 1 of this year, US president Donald Trump tweeted that Pakistan had given nothing to the US but "lies and deceit" and provided "safe haven" to terrorists in return for $33 billion aid over the last 15 years, thinking of American leaders as "fools."

This infuriated Khan, who accused the US for using Pakistan as a "gun for hire," and made two proposals:

"Two immediate measures can be taken by Pakistan to send an unambiguous message to the US: One, we must immediately remove excessive US diplomatic, non-diplomatic and intelligence personnel from Pakistan, so that diplomatic parity is established according to international legal norms governing diplomatic relations between two states. Two, we must deny the US GLOC and AIRLOC facilities which we were providing free of cost to the US. ..

The lesson we must learn is never to be used by other for short-term paltry financial benefits ever again. We became a US proxy for a war against the Soviet Union when it entered Afghanistan and we allowed the CIA to create, train and arm Jihadi group on our soil and a decade later we tried to eliminate them as terrorists on US orders."

The last paragraph refers to the 1980s Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan, when the US secretly funded anti-Soviet Saudi rebels who later turned into al-Qaeda.

As regular readers are aware, Generational Dynamics predicts that the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war will pit China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries against the US, India, Russia and Iran. In the Mideast, Generational Dynamics predicts a full-scale Mideast war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other.

If Imran Khan becomes prime minister, it would move Pakistan along this trend line. Khan will follow through on his plans to develop closer relations with China, and to distance Pakistan from America. Times of India (4-Jan)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Apr-18 World View -- Pakistan's anti-American 'hope and change' candidate Imran Khan runs again thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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29-Apr-18 World View -- Thousands of ethnic Kachins flee from violence by Burma (Myanmar) army

Burma (Myanmar) appears to be entering a full-scale crisis civil war

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Thousands of ethnic Kachins flee from violence by Burma (Myanmar) army
  • Burma (Myanmar) appears to be entering a full-scale crisis civil war

Thousands of ethnic Kachins flee from violence by Burma (Myanmar) army


The Je Yang camp for Kachin refugees along China's border in Burma (AP)
The Je Yang camp for Kachin refugees along China's border in Burma (AP)

Some 4,000 ethnic Kachins have been driven from their homes in the last three weeks by an escalating conflict between Burma's (Myanmar's) army and the separatist Kachin Independence Army (KIA), and are now sheltering in makeshift shelters in the jungle around nearby villages. An additional 15,000 people have fled their homes since the beginning of the year.

There has been a longstanding low-level conflict between Burma's army and the KIA for several decades, but conflict has severely escalated since the beginning of this year. The conflict is expected to worsen, as reports indicate that the army is deploying reinforcements, including 2,000 infantry troops, fighter aircraft and helicopters.

The Burmese army's fight against the Kachin ethnic group and other ethnic groups in northern Burma has been eclipsed in the international news by the ethnic cleansing by the army of ethnic Rohingyas in Rakhine State. That ethnic cleansing is still in progress.

However, the additional reinforcements that the army is deploying were probably taken from the troops assigned to the ethnic cleansing activities in Rakhine State, indicating that Burma's government now considers the Kachin insurgency to be of an increasing priority. Democratic Voice of Burma and BBC and AFP and Deutsche Welle

Burma (Myanmar) appears to be entering a full-scale crisis civil war

In 2007, I wrote the article "Burma: Growing demonstrations by the '88 Generation' raise fears of new slaughter," describing anti-government riots and demonstrations by Buddhist monks. Many people feared a full-scale civil war, but as I wrote at the time, that wouldn't happen because only 49 years had passed since the end of the previous crisis civil war. In the "Brief generational history of Burma" that I included with that article, I described Burma's last generational crisis war, 1948-58, as a civil war among ethnic groups, with intervention by the Chinese, with a war climax in 1958 when the army took over power, and turned power over to a civilian government.

I wrote at that time that a new crisis war would not occur at that time, but would probably occur within ten years or so, as the survivors of the previous crisis war disappear.

Well, ten years have passed, and it appears that Burma is entering a new full-scale crisis civil war, with ethnic cleansing of the Rohingyas occurring in one place, and an escalating fight with ethnic groups in the north.

The tipping point into this new generational crisis war (or the "regeneracy," using the technical term from generational theory) seems to have occurred in November 2016, when the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) joined together with other with the militant wings of other ethnic groups in northern Burma to form the Northern Alliance, whose members will fight Burma's army together.

The other militant groups are the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), the armed wing of the Palaung State Liberation Front promoting self-determination for the Ta’ang people living in Shan State, Yunnan and Northern Thailand; the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), the armed wing of the ethnic Chinese Kokang ethnic group, living in the northern part of Shan state, along the border with China; and the Arakan Army (AA), the armed wing of the Arakan people in Kachin state.

These represent the ethnic groups that fought in the civil war that climaxed in 1958, and 58 years later in 2016 (right on schedule according to generational theory), they apparently joined together to form the Northern Alliance and fight a new civil war. Reuters (21-Nov-2016) and Time (9-Mar-2017) and The Irrawaddy and Foreign Policy

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Apr-18 World View -- Thousands of ethnic Kachins flee from violence by Burma (Myanmar) army thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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28-Apr-18 World View -- Kazakhstan to permit America to use Caspian ports to supply military in Afghanistan

Russia moves to increase dominance over Caspian Sea

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Kazakhstan to permit America to use Caspian ports to supply military in Afghanistan
  • Russia moves to increase dominance over Caspian Sea

Kazakhstan to permit America to use Caspian ports to supply military in Afghanistan


Map: The Caspian Trade Corridor is part of the New Silk Road connecting Asia with Europe
Map: The Caspian Trade Corridor is part of the New Silk Road connecting Asia with Europe

A continuing issue facing the US-led Nato military forces in Afghanistan is sending supplies to the landlocked country. Since the war began in 2001, most resupply has been done by shipping to Pakistan's port in Karachi, and then overland by truck across Pakistan, through the Khyber Pass, into Afghanistan. This route has been reliable for the most part, there have been times when political disagreements between the US and Pakistan have cause Pakistan to close the Khyber Pass to US military goods.

As a backup, Nato has been developing several Central Asia truck and rail overland supply routes, such as from Europe through Russia to Kazakhstan, and then through Uzbekistan to Afghanistan.

Kazakhstan is about to sign an agreement with the US that will permit Nato forces to substantially increase use of the existing Caspian Trade Corridor, by shipping through the Aktau and Kuryk ports on the Caspian Sea, completely bypassing Russia. Nato supplies from Europe will pass through Turkey and Georgia, through Azerbaijan to the port at Baku. From there, the supplies will be ferried across the Caspian Sea to one of the Kazakh ports, and then travel overland by truck through Kazakhstan to Uzbekistan, and then by rail to Afghanistan.

According to Kazakh officials, only nonmilitary goods will go through the ports. Nonetheless, Russian authorities are opposed to this US-Kazakh deal because it could change the balance of power in the Caspian Sea, which the Russians consider to be their own back yard.

But since the purpose of the deal is to allow transit of supplies to the military in Afghanistan, the Russians fear that American soldiers might be deployed to the ports, and that the ports eventually will turn into American military bases.

Another reason why Russians oppose the deal is because it gives them one less lever to use against Nato -- blocking goods from transiting across Russia -- in retaliation for Western sanctions against Russia.

According to one Russian analyst, "Under the current conditions of American-Russian and traditional American-Iranian conflicts, this [new US] presence will generate anger both in Moscow and in Tehran." EurasiaNet and Jamestown and EurAsia Daily

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Russia moves to increase dominance over Caspian Sea

There are five littoral states bordering the Caspian Sea -- Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. For decades, they've been unable to reach an agreement on dividing the Caspian Sea among them. They agree that the entire surface of the sea should be open to all for commercial shipping and for fishing. However, there are also large deposits of gas and oil, and large disagreements over who gets to exploit them.

Prior to 1991, there were only two littoral states -- the Soviet Union and Iran. The Soviets controlled the Caspian Sea, and forced Iran to follow Soviet policy. When the Soviet Union disintegrated, the individual states began setting up individual independent oil and gas development projects. By the end of the 1990s, Vladimir Putin was taking charge, and used every heavy-handed form of obstruction to prevent these projects from going forward.

International laws provide for various methods for splitting up ownership of the seabed. According to one method, the size of the region that each country gets depends on the length of the coastline bordering the sea. Under this method Azerbaijan, Russia and Kazakhstan would get the largest shares of the seabed, and so these countries favor it.

According to a second set of rules, there are five littoral states, and so the seabed would be split up equally among them, giving them each 20% of the seabed. Iran and Turkmenistan favor this set of rules, because they have the shortest shorelines.

Putin has used these conflicting rules to provoke disagreements among the littoral states, with the result that in the 27 years since the disintegration of the Soviet Union no agreement has been reached. But recent bursts of pragmatism are bringing about agreements that may unlock some of the oil and gas fields.

Iran and Azerbaijan are adjacent countries along the Caspian Sea coastline, and attempts by either country to exploit the seabed have sometimes provoked gunboat diplomacy by the other. But on March 28, Iran and Azerbaijan signed a memorandum of understanding on joint development of two oil and gas fields in the Caspian Sea.

Russia and Kazakhstan are also adjacent countries along the Caspian Sea coastline, and they've also had disputes in the past about ownership of three fields in the northern part of the Caspian Sea. But they settled their disputes in 2002, dividing the three oil and gas fields between them.

It will be more troublesome for Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan to reach agreement. They are not adjacent, but they are opposite each other in the a region of the Caspian Sea where there are oil and gas fields in the middle. However, agreement on joint development may be difficult to reach because both countries' economies are weak, and they would have to share the multi-billion dollar investment costs for offshore development projects. And then they would have to share the risk that oil prices could fall again, making it impossible to recover the money they invested.

There's one more emerging issue that needs to be highlighted. Readers may recall that in October 2015, Russia began launching cruise missiles from the Caspian Sea, attacking targets in Syria. The cruise missiles were launched from Russia's Caspian Flotilla, with a home base in Astrakhan, in the northern edge of the Caspian Sea.

Russia has announced that the flotilla will be moved to Kaspiisk, Dagestan, near the border with Azerbaijan, and that the number of officers and sailors assigned to the flotilla will be increased.

This change will increase Russia's dominance over the Caspian Sea. From Kaspiisk, Russia will be able to exert much more control over Dagestan and the other North Caucasus provinces. It will also give Russia more control over the entire Caspian Sea, and provide leverage to prevent building of east-west pipelines under the Caspian. Finally, Russia's warships will be able to launch cruise missiles at Syria much more quickly than in the past. AzerNews (Azerbaijan) and Jamestown and Asia Times and RFE/RL

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Apr-18 World View -- Kazakhstan to permit America to use Caspian ports to supply military in Afghanistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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27-Apr-18 World View -- North Korea's negotiating position collapses, along with Mount Mantap

North-South Korea summit begins

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • North-South Korea summit begins
  • Chinese scientists conclude that North Korea's nuclear test site has become dangerous and unstable
  • North Korea's negotiating position collapses, along with Mount Mantap
  • The politics of the collapse of Mount Mantap

North-South Korea summit begins


South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shake hands in front of Freedom House at Panmunjeom, Friday. (Korea Times)
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shake hands in front of Freedom House at Panmunjeom, Friday. (Korea Times)

It was magical. South Korea's president Moon Jae-in shook hands with North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un, smiling sweetly at each other. As if they were euphoric lovers, they held hands and walked back and forth, crossing back and forth across the line dividing South and North Korea, in order to prove to the world that all was peace and light.

It's hard to guess what might be accomplished by this summit meeting, since the real summit will be held in a few weeks between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. Korea Times

Chinese scientists conclude that North Korea's nuclear test site has become dangerous and unstable

When North Korea performed its most recent nuclear weapon test on September 3 of last year at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, seismologists outside North Korea detected an "earthquake" that followed the test itself. Concerns were expressed that the earthquake was actually a partially collapse of Mount Mantap, where the Punggye-ri site is located, and that nuclear radiation had been released. Unconfirmed reports later said that tunnel collapses had killed hundreds of North Korean workers.

As we reported last year, Chinese geologists on September 20 were warning North Korean nuclear scientists that further nuclear tests at Mount Mantap risked a nuclear catastrophe, if the mountain collapsed in an explosion, releasing large amounts of radiation that could contaminate large regions of North Korea and northeast China for decades to come.

Now, two groups of Chinese researchers one from the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) in Hefei, and the second from the Jilin Earthquake Agency with the China Earthquake Administration in Changchun, have both reached similar conclusions: That Mount Mantap did in fact collapse after North Korea's last nuclear weapons test on September 3 of last year.

Here's the summary from China's Earthquake Administration:

"Seismology illuminates physical processes occurring during underground explosions, not all yet fully understood. The thus far strongest North Korean test of 3 September 2017 was followed by a moderate seismic event (mL 4.1) after 8.5 min. ...

North Korea detonated its strongest underground nuclear test in September 2017. It attracted the public interest worldwide not only due to its significant magnitude (6.3 mb) but also because it was followed 8.5 min later by a weaker event. Was the delayed shock a secondary explosion, an earthquake provoked by the shot, or something else? We answer these questions.... According to our model, the explosion created a cavity and a damaged “chimney” of rocks above it. The aftershock was neither a secondary explosion nor a triggered tectonic earthquake. It occurred due to a process comparable to a “mirror image” of the explosion, that is, a rock collapse, or compaction, for the first time documented in North Korea's test site."

The USTC study is awaiting publication, but a summary says, "The occurrence of the collapse should deem the underground infrastructure beneath mountain Mantap not be used for any future nuclear tests."

A Beijing-based analyst points out that another nuclear test at the site would destabilize not only Mount Mantap but also Changbai Mountain, the site of an active volcano at the China-Korea border. South China Morning Post and AFP and Geophysical Research Letters

North Korea's negotiating position collapses, along with Mount Mantap

As I wrote last weekend in "22-Apr-18 World View -- North Korea suspends all nuclear, missile tests, shuts down nuclear test site", North Korea promised to end all nuclear and missile tests, and shut down Punggye-ri, North Korea's nuclear test site. Shutting down the nuclear test site was particularly hailed by the international media that North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un was turning into a nice guy, willing to compromise and all that.

Now the laughable news emerges that the nuclear test site is being shut down because another test would risk a nuclear catastrophe, according to Chinese scientists. As I wrote at the time, the North Korean concession was no concession at all, and in fact was the West's worst nightmare, since Kim would keep his existing stock of nuclear weapons, would continue developing nuclear technology without open testing, and would undoubtedly sell the nuclear technology to other countries, including Iran.

Now it turns out that the North's whole farcical announcement was a negotiating ploy to make use of the threat of further testing to lock in concessions before the West found out.

The collapse of Mantap Mountain represents a collapse of a major part of North Korea's negotiating position. With the approach of the forthcoming meeting between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump, Trump has said repeatedly that he was demanding denuclearization -- that the North destroy all its nuclear weapons. Kim had the threat of reopening the nuclear test site and performing more tests. But now that threat is gone, and even though the North can do further nuclear development, they can never be sure that their developments will work unless they test them.

However, in another way the collapse of Mount Mantap strengthens North Korea's negotiating position. They can claim that if their nuclear test site is unusable, then the West should remove all sanctions, since they're no longer needed. BBC

The politics of the collapse of Mount Mantap

We live in a world where whether you believe 2+2 equals 4 or 5 depends on politics. So it is with the question of whether the Punggye-ri test site at Mount Mantap is still usable.

So let's look at China's motives. China would like to use the North Korea threat as leverage to force all US military forces out of South Korea. Also, China has for years been developing numerous nuclear missile systems with no other purpose than to destroy American cities, aircraft carries and military bases. China is preparing for a pre-emptive attack on the United States, and they would be delighted to have North Korean nuclear missiles pointed at the U.S., if only to be a distraction when the war begins.

But on the other hand, Chinese media makes it clear that, whether the Punggye-ri is theoretically still usable or not, China does not want any further nuclear tests there. The risk is too great, and a serious mishap could be a nuclear disaster that lasts for decades.

Those mixed motives would explain the suggestion that the USTC conclusions are being watered down to avoid reaching a final conclusion that the site is unusable. This ambiguity preserves the North's negotiating position.

The web site 38North, which is run by North Korean defectors in South Korea, is insisting that only a portion of the Punggye-ri test site has been damaged, and they conclude:

"In short, there is no basis to conclude that the Punggye-ri nuclear test site is no longer viable for future nuclear testing. There remain two portal areas located in more pristine competent rock that can be used for future tests if Pyongyang were to give the order. Whether that will stay an option will depend on reaching verifiable agreements that build on Pyongyang’s pledge to shut down the facility."

There is no real evidence provided for this conclusion, and the motives of North Korean defectors are most likely to be that they don't want the North to get away with anything. In particular, they would want the sanctions to continue as long as possible. Washington Post and Global Times (China) and 38 North

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Apr-18 World View -- North Korea's negotiating position collapses, along with Mount Mantap thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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26-Apr-18 World View -- Armenia's protesters continue protesting after forcing resignation of prime minister

Fears grow that Armenia's instability will spill over into Russia

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Armenia's protesters continue protesting after forcing resignation of prime minister
  • Fears grow that Armenia's instability will spill over into Russia
  • Armenian political chaos follows the path of America in the 1960s

Armenia's protesters continue protesting after forcing resignation of prime minister


Soldiers from Armenia's army join the anti-government protests in Yerevan (charter97.org)
Soldiers from Armenia's army join the anti-government protests in Yerevan (charter97.org)

As we reported last week, Armenia's opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan called for a "non-violent velvet revolution," alluding to the peaceful 1989 uprising that ousted the Communist regime in the former Czechoslovakia.

Answering Pashinyan's call, thousands of protesters blockaded streets and government in Armenia's capital city Yerevan, with the objective of preventing the parliament from voting to make Serzh Sargsyan, who had already served ten years as president under the previous constitution, the new prime minister under the new constitution.

The parliament did vote to make Sargsyan the next prime minister, but as the street protests continued. The tide turned for Sargsyan on April 23 when soldiers from the Armenian military left their barracks and joined the protesters in the streets. Sargsyan announced on April 23 that he was stepping down, and would be replaced by acting prime minister Karen Karapetyan (male), an ally of Sargsyan.

This was a clear victory for Pashinyan, and it was hoped that the protests would end, and that Armenia would return to "normal." Instead, tens of thousands of opposition protesters have returned to the streets in Yerevan, demanding that the new prime minister and his entire government step down. EurasiaNet and Guardian (London) and Charter97 (Russia) and (Trans)

Fears grow that Armenia's instability will spill over into Russia

Armenia is a small country of 3 million people, strongly dependent on Russia. In religion, the Armenian Apostolic Church is very close to the Russian Orthodox Church. In trade, Armenians working in Russia supply 20% of the country's GDP. So Armenia has little choice but to do as directed by Russia's president Vladimir Putin. And long-time president Serzh Sargsyan, who was just forced to step down as prime minister, always aligned policies with Russia, not with the West.

But a popular revolution could change all that, and there is already talk of a new "color revolution" in Armenia. The opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan has already invoked the 1989 Velvet Revolution in the former Czechoslovakia that ousted the Communist regime.

Other color revolutions that have occurred in Russia's backyard include the Rose Revolution in Georgia in 2003, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004, and the Tulip Revolution (or Pink Revolution) in Kyrgyzstan in 2005.

So Russia could be legitimately afraid that another color revolution might occur, this time in Armenia, and bring to power a government that was friendly to the West and unfriendly to Russia. Russia did militarily invade Georgia and Ukraine after their respective revolutions, so an invasion of Armenia at some point in the future is a possibility, if things really get out of hand.

There's another concern that Putin might have. Putin himself served two terms as president of Russia, then switched and became prime minister to stay in power, then switched back and became president again, arranging to the constitution to be amended so that he could be president forever.

That, of course, is similar to what Serzh Sargsyan in Armenia. And not only were there massive protests, but Sargsyan was forced to step down when the army joined the protests. Putin might fear that the Russian people might copy the Armenian people's example and hold massive anti-Putin protests, and then have army soldiers join the protests. If that every happened in Russia, the outcome would be much bloodier than in Armenia. Washington Post and Jamestown and Moscow Times and Trend News (Azerbaijan) and Reuters

Armenian political chaos follows the path of America in the 1960s

As I described last week, Armenia is in a generational Awakening era, one generation past the bloody conflict in 1989-94 versus Azerbaijan over the enclave Nagorno-Karabakh. In this sense, Armenia is similar to America in the 1960s, one generation past the end of World War II.

An Awakening era is the time when the first generation that grows up after the war comes of age, and starts to make itself felt. Their parents, the traumatized soldiers and other survivors of the war, try to set rules and impose restrictions so that such a war will never occur again. The kids in the younger generation, with no personal memory of the war, rebel against these restrictions, creating a "generation gap," or a political conflict between generations.

The forced resignation of Serzh Sargsyan might be roughly compared to the President Lyndon Johnson's forced decision in 1968 not to run for another term. He had hoped that by stepping down he would encourage an end to the massive street protests, including some violence. However, the protests and violence did not end. There were still several "long, hot summers" to come, there was the violence at the Democratic National Convention in 1968, there was Woodstock in 1969, and there was the shootings at Kent State. Finally, the resignation of Richard Nixon in 1974 was the Awakening climax, because it resolved the generational conflict in favor of the younger post-war generation, specifically the Boomers, over the GI Generation that had fought in the war.

Today we're seeing exactly the same kind of generational conflict in Armenia. The tens of thousands of young people who protested in the streets of Yerevan may have won their first victory, but the protests will continue in other forms for years, and there will be bursts of violence. There will be no "return to normal" for Armenia for many years. BBC

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Apr-18 World View -- Armenia's protesters continue protesting after forcing resignation of prime minister thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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25-Apr-18 World View -- Congo's Kabila and Burundi's Nkurunziza use violence and corruption to stay in power

DR Congo's Joseph Kabila attacks Catholic Church opposition violently

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • DR Congo's Joseph Kabila attacks Catholic Church opposition violently
  • Burundi's Nkurunziza uses violence on opposition to his May 17 referendum

DR Congo's Joseph Kabila attacks Catholic Church opposition violently


 Sunday mass in the St. Christine Catholic Church in DRC's capital city Kinshasa.  (Riva Press / Redux)
Sunday mass in the St. Christine Catholic Church in DRC's capital city Kinshasa. (Riva Press / Redux)

The next presidential election for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is scheduled for December 23. International leaders are demanding that he step down and let the elections be free and fair, demands that there is little possibility he'll meet.

Joseph Kabila was supposed to step down as president when his mandate ran out on December 19, 2016. Instead, he pulled a breathtaking stunt late in 2016 by doing nothing to prepare the country for new elections, and then claimed that he couldn't step down because there were no elections to select a president to replace him.

This stunt triggered large riots and a threat of civil war in DRC, but the Catholic Church intervened and brokered an agreement: Elections would be held in December of 2017 to choose Kabila's successor, and this time Kabila would really step down. However, the agreement was a farce: It was signed by members of Kabila's government, but it wasn't even signed by Kabila himself. It was pretty clear throughout 2017 that Kabila would not honor the agreement.

So now we supposedly have a commitment for an election in December of this year.

Leaders of African countries almost uniformly refuse to criticize Kabila, mainly because many of them are just as corrupt as Kabila is. However, Botswana's president Mokgweetsi Masisi has become the first (and perhaps the only) African leader to take a stand and criticize Kabila. Earlier this year, Botswana's government issued a statement openly blaming Kabila for DRC's deteriorating humanitarian and security situation.

And last week, Masisi said in an interview,

"The president of the DRC has stayed in power longer than the time that was expected. Hopefully we can get from (Kabila) a real commitment to not attempt to come back to power by whatever means."

However, as we've been reporting for months, there is no possibility whatsoever that Kabila will step down.

Kabila and his family own, either partially or wholly, more than 80 companies and businesses in the country and abroad. He and his children own more than 71,000 hectares (175,444 acres) of farmland. His family owns diamond mines, a part of the country's largest mobile phone network, companies that mine mineral deposits, gold and limestone, a luxury hotel, stakes in an airline, a share of the country's banks, and a fast-food franchise. This is pure criminal corruption by Kabila and his family.

With tentacles reaching into so many businesses, it's not surprising that Kabila is willing to use any method -- massacres, atrocities, jailings, torture -- to stay in power. If he were to step down, he would probably be arrested or else shot and killed, rather than writing a book and going on tour as Western leaders do when they step down.

As in 2016, the Catholic Church is taking on Kabila. Earlier this year, the church organized protest events in DRC's capital city Kinshasa. They were violently broken up by Kabila's police using live rounds and tear gas, and at least 15 people were killed.

Kabila's attacks on the Catholic Church are only a small part of the violence that he's causing. In the past, I've written about the bloody wars in the southwestern Kasai region, where the armies and militias reporting to the government of president Joseph Kabila are committing genocide; about the bloody tribal wars in northeastern Kivu region, causing massive refugee flows into Uganda; as we reported in February, another a humanitarian disaster of "extraordinary proportions" emerged in Tanganyika province in southeastern DRC. The genocide by Kabila's army has resulted in 3.9 million people forced to flee their homes to escape the violence. Hundreds of thousands have fled to Zambia, Angola and other neighboring countries as refugees, creating a humanitarian disaster in those countries. Reuters and Irin (1-Feb) and Ozy (29-Mar) and Reuters (23-Jan)

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Burundi's Nkurunziza uses violence on opposition to his May 17 referendum

DRC's Joseph Kabila is rumored to be preparing a referendum to amend the constitution to allow him to remain in power into the 2030's. Leaders of Rwanda and Uganda have already arranged for their countries' constitutions to be amended in a similar way.

Burundi's president Pierre Nkurunziza, who calls himself the "eternal supreme guide" of Burundi, has set May 17 as a date for a national referendum to change the constitution to permit him to stay in office until at least 2034.

According to Human Rights Watch, Nkurunziza is using violence to guarantee that the referendum will pass. This violence includes beatings, arrests, jailings and torture.

Nkurunziza should have stepped down as leader in 2015, since the constitution limits any leader to two terms. When Nkurunziza announced that he would run for a third term, his police force used bullets, tear gas and water cannons to control the protests. He's expected to continue to use as much force as necessary to rig the May 17 elections and guarantee that the referendum will pass.

I remember a time, 15-20 years ago, when I knew almost nothing about any African country. Well, I knew a little about Egypt, South Africa, Morocco, and a few other countries, but not much. That's why, in the last ten years, I've made a point to learn as much as I can about African countries. And in almost all of them, the story is the same -- massive corruption, massive government violence, ethnic and tribal violence. African leaders have been promising democracies, but instead we see one leader after another using violence to stay in power in order to protect his cronies who have been stealing money from the treasury, often money that the West provided in aid. That's why after forty years and billions of dollars in Western aid, ordinary African people are just as poor as they were forty years ago.

As in the case of DRC, we can expect more violence in the form of killings, torture, rape, arrests, jailings, beatings, and anything else necessary for the corrupt politicians Kabila and Nkurunziza to keep themselves in power.

From the point of view of General Dynamics, many leaders follow exactly the same patterns following a generational crisis civil war between different tribes or ethnic groups. After the war ends, the leader of the country, usually from the winning tribe or ethnic group, refuses to give up power, and becomes increasingly violent and authoritarian, using as an excuse that peaceful protests or negative news articles can turn into a new civil war. This excuse provides justification for mass slaughter, rape, torture, mass jailings, mutilations, and so forth. I've described this behavior in Bashar al-Assad in Syria, who has gone to the extent of using Sarin gas and barrel bombs packed with explosives and metal and laced with chlorine gas onto civilian neighborhoods and markets in order to kill as many women and children as possible. Other leaders that I've described exhibiting this type of behavior include Hun Sen in Cambodia, Paul Biya in Cameroon, Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Pierre Nkurunziza in Burundi, Paul Kagame in Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, and Joseph Kabila in DRC.