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27-Jun-17 World View -- Egypt's president al-Sisi hands contested Red Sea islands over to Saudi Arabia

US troops in Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) not affected by island handover

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Egypt's president al-Sisi hands contested Red Sea islands over to Saudi Arabia


Dozens of Egyptian lawyers shout slogans during a protest in front of the Lawyers' Syndicate in Cairo against the agreement to hand over Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia.  (AP)
Dozens of Egyptian lawyers shout slogans during a protest in front of the Lawyers' Syndicate in Cairo against the agreement to hand over Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia. (AP)

Egypt's president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi on Saturday ratified an extremely controversial deal that hands over the two strategically important Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia. The islands are at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba, where they oversee the passage of ships carrying goods between the Red Sea and four countries -- Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

The plans to hand over the islands were part of an April 2016 announcement that the two countries would build a land bridge connected Saudi Arabia and Egypt, 10-20 miles (16-32 km) long, right at the location where the prophet Moses is said to have parted the Red Sea, in order to bring his people out of slavery into the Promised Land. It would be called the King Salman Bridge, named after Saudi Arabia's leader, Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud.

That announcement triggered massive protests in Egypt, with opponents claiming that Egypt was forfeiting the country's territory and sovereignty in exchange for bribery and extortion by Saudi Arabia -- a threat to cut off fuel subsidies, and the promise of $22 billion in development projects in Egypt to help its ailing economy.

Opponents of the handover claim that the Tiran and Sanafir islands were granted to Egypt in 1906 in an agreement to draw up formal boundaries between Egypt and the Ottoman Empire. Supporters of the deal claim that they've always belonged to Saudi Arabia, but they were placed under the administration of Egypt in 1949 in the wake of Arab-Israeli tensions, following the creation of the state of Israel.

The main emotional attachment that Egyptians have to the islands follows from the fact that many Egyptians died defending the islands during two wars with Israel, one in 1957 and one in 1967. Israel captured the two islands in the 1967 Six-Day war, but they were returned to Egypt under the 1979 Camp David accords.

The validity of the handover has been extremely contentious in Egypt's court system. In January 2017, Egypt’s High Administrative Court voided the deal handing over the islands. Then, in April, the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters OKed the deal, after ruling that the High Administrative Court has no jurisdiction in the matter. On June 14, Egypt's parliament approved the deal. Egypt's Constitutional Court has yet to rule on the matter, and may still nullify the deal.

A major deal such as this one would normally call for lavish ceremonies, but a decision has been made to have no ceremonies whatsoever, for fear of triggering further protests. Al-Ahram (Cairo) and France 24 and Egypt Independent

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US troops in Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) not affected by island handover


Map showing the Red Sea, Strait of Tiran, and Gulf of Aqaba
Map showing the Red Sea, Strait of Tiran, and Gulf of Aqaba

The Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) is a little-known international peacekeeping force from 11 different countries including the United States, Fiji, Colombia, Uruguay, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, France, Italy, and others. The MFO is located in Egypt's Sinai desert, in two camps. The South Camp is located on the southern tip of the Sinai directly on the Red Sea, where it oversees the islands of Tiran and Sanafir, and guarantees unimpeded freedom of navigation and overflight through the Strait of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba.

The MFO was originally conceived at the United Nations following the Camp David Accords. The MFO was proposed in the Security Council, where it was vetoed by China and Russia. As a result, the US, Egypt and Israel agreed to set up the MFO as an independent deal outside the UN framework.

The MFO has 1,667 military personnel supplied by twelve countries and 17 civilian officials. The US contributes nearly 700 personnel to the MFO, and also pays nearly a third of the organization’s $86 million annual budget.

The original purpose of the MFO was to guarantee peaceful relations between Egypt and Israel. It would seem to have outlived its usefulness, since relations between Egypt and Israel have never been better. However, when President George Bush wanted to scale back the MFO in 2003 in order to save money, both Egypt and Israel joined together to urge the US to reconsider. As a result, there is little or no desire on anyone's part to eliminate or scale back the MFO, and the Tiran and Sanafir island handover should have no effect.

It's considered to be the most successful peacekeeping operations in recent history, and it's expected to continue. The Multinational Force & Observers (MFO) web site and Global Security and Politico (1-Nov-2015)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Jun-17 World View -- Egypt's president al-Sisi hands contested Red Sea islands over to Saudi Arabia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Jun-2017) Permanent Link
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26-Jun-17 World View -- Hezbollah's Nasrallah makes delusional speech about 'foreign fighters' attacking Israel

How to do a generational analysis of the Mideast

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Hezbollah's Nasrallah makes delusional speech about 'foreign fighters' attacking Israel


Undated image of meeting between Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and a Qatari official (al-Arabiya)
Undated image of meeting between Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and a Qatari official (al-Arabiya)

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Iran's puppet terror organization, the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon, said in a televised speech on Friday:

"The Israeli enemy should know that if it launches an attack on Syria or Lebanon, it’s unknown whether the fighting will stay just between Lebanon and Israel, or Syria and Israel.

I’m not saying countries would intervene directly — but it would open the door for hundreds of thousands of fighters from all around the Arab and Islamic world to participate in this fight — from Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan."

Although Nasrallah's speech was nominally about liberating Jerusalem from Israel, it was clear from many of his remarks that it was really about Saudi Arabia and other Sunni countries. He accused the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia of funding the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), and he accused Turkey of facilitating its operations.

Nasrallah was also harshly critical of Saudi Arabia in Yemen, and the fight against Iran-backed Shia Houthis:

"Despite all challenges of airstrikes, blockade, cholera, poverty and destruction, tens of thousands took to streets to voice solidarity with Palestine and Al-Quds [Jerusalem].

Yemen proved that it will never be part of a scheme to sell Palestine, neither for a throne, nor for Trump and it is still fighting."

Nasrallah further made clear that he was talking about Shia fighters from Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, when he referred to Saudi Arabia and said "Al-Quds [Jerusalem] is too sacred to be liberated by traitors and hypocrites."

Nasrallah also referred to Imam Moussa al-Sadr, a highly revered Shia cleric, the leader of Lebanon's Shia Muslims, who said, "The honor of Al-Quds [Jerusalem] refuses to accept any liberation unless it is at the hands of true believers." Al-Sadr vanished in 1978 during a visit to Libya, and his disappearance has been a continuing mystery.

So analysts are interpreting Nasrallah's remarks as saying that an alliance of tens or hundreds of thousands of Shia Muslims from Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries, will spontaneously come to Lebanon to join Hezbollah in a war against Israel. This is about as delusional as you can get.

Supposedly, Nasrallah is thinking for example of the Shia Hazara ethnic group in Pakistan, some of whose fighters came to Syria to defend Syria's president Bashar al-Assad from the Sunni militias he was fighting. However, those were mercenaries, paid by Iran, with no personal interest in fighting either for or against al-Assad. In a general Mideast war, the Hazaras would have their hands full fighting the Taliban, and would not be rushing off the Lebanon to fight Israel.

So Nasrallah's speech, which seemed to be threatening Israel with hundreds of thousands of fighters from Islamic countries near and far, was actually an extremely bitter and vitriolic sectarian speech on the Sunni - Shia fault line, and the Saudi Arabia - Iran fault line.

This is not to suggest that there isn't a war coming between Hezbollah and Israel. There certainly is a war coming, and it will probably kill millions of Israelis and Palestinians, and leave the region soaked in blood. What I'm focusing on here is Nasrallah's boast about hundreds of thousands of Islamic fighters.

The last war between the two occurred in 2006, and was a disaster for both sides, killing a lot of people, destroying Lebanon's infrastructure, but accomplishing absolutely nothing for either side.

Nasrallah's remarks about hundreds of thousands of Islamic fighters was an allusion to the 2006 war, sending Israel a threat that the next war will be a lot worse for Israel than the last one.

Major Gen. Amir Eshel, the head of Israel's air force, specifically referred to the 2006 war last week when he said that Israel would have "unimaginable" military power in hand in any future conflict with Hezbollah:

"What the air force was able to do quantitatively in the [2006] Lebanon war over the course of 34 days we can do today in 48-60 hours.

This is potential power unimaginable in its scope, much different to what we have seen in the past and far greater than people estimate."

Al Manar (Lebanon-Hezbollah) and Reuters and TeleSur TV (Caracas) and Times of Israel

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Saudis report close relationships between Hezbollah and Qatar

The second of the 13 demands that Saudi Arabia is making of Qatar is to "Sever all ties to “terrorist organizations,” specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, al-Qaida, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Formally declare those entities as terrorist groups."

Hezbollah is a puppet organization of Iran, which is a bitter enemy of Saudi Arabia. The two countries no longer have diplomatic relations, after protesters in Tehran burned down the Saudi embassy in January of last year. So Saudi Arabia is undoubtedly quite serious in demanding that Qatar end its relations with Hezbollah as a condition for ending the land, sea and air blockade that Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain imposed on Qatar earlier this month.

A Saudi analysis claims that Qatar and Hezbollah have had very close relations with Hezbollah at least since 2008, when there was an agreement that Syria, Iran and Hezbollah would become a regional axis with Qatar's participation. When Syria's civil war began in 2011, and Bashar al-Assad began massacring peaceful anti-government Sunni protestors, including hundreds of innocent women and children in Palestinian refugee camps, there was a rift between Qatar and Hezbollah, according to the report. But that rift was healed, and by November 2013, Hezbollah and Qatar met, and Qatar promised generous funding for Bashar al-Assad, who was facing huge financial difficulties.

Now there are new reports that Hezbollah fighters are joining Iranian Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and Turkish forces in Qatar to protect Qatar's royal family. According to one Saudi analyst, "Qatar is playing with fire. It’s acting as an organization and not as a state." Al Arabiya (Riyadh) and Breitbart Jerusalem

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How to do a generational analysis of the Mideast

As regular readers know, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for 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.

With the large number of ethnic groups and religious splinter groups in the Mideast, it's not easy to predict exactly who will be fighting whom in the approaching Mideast regional war. This question can be answered with appropriate generational research and analysis. As I've previously said, I certainly don't have anything like the resources to perform such an analysis by myself, but any college student interested in this kind of analysis could make an invaluable contribution to understanding what's going on in the world today by taking on, as a thesis topic, a generational analysis of the tribes and ethnic groups in the Mideast.

A couple of people have asked me how such an analysis would be done, and have asked me to provide additional information.

Generational analyses of historical events -- wars, political upheavals, coups, etc. -- all work pretty much the same way.

I always recommend finding 15-20 sources describing the event from different points of view. These days, the wealth of historical information on the internet has made this much easier.

Some of the 15-20 sources should be written around the time that the event took place, so that the analysis will be less influenced by ideological filters of historians who describe it later. Google Books has turned out to be a really valuable resource, because many of the historical texts you're looking for are available, and are out of copyright, so you can read them without paying for them.

Just to take a couple of examples, I was doing an analysis of the American civil war, and I found several books that were written in the early 1860s, just as the war was beginning. These kinds of sources are extremely valuable in understanding what was going on at the time. In fact, for doing a generational analysis, these kinds of sources are actually more valuable than histories written much later, since the best generational analyses convey the precise thoughts and behaviors of the people of the time -- their nationalism, their xenophobia, their statements, their actions.

As another example, last year I decided that I might write a book on the history Islam in India, from the 600s in the Mideast through the middle ages in India, to the present. I spent a couple of months collecting, reading, and summarizing a lot of stuff, including about a few dozen full length books and documents in English dating back to the 1800s, all the way back to the 600s. Alas, other things came up, and I had to drop the book-writing project. But the more I got into it, the more fascinating it became, and perhaps someday I'll get back to it, if I live long enough.

So when you're doing a generational analysis, it's necessary to collect as many sources as possible, with older sources closer to the event being more valuable than recent sources.

Once you read all the sources related to the event, then you have to figure out what was going on. Was the event a crisis war with a genocidal climax? Or was it an Awakening era confrontation, around 20 years after the climax of the last crisis war, characterized by a "generation gap" and large student riots and demonstrations? Or was it a "velvet coup," an Awakening era climax?

Once you've done that analysis for one event, you have do the same thing for other events for the same society, tribe or nation, in order to develop a generational timeline lasting for as many generations as possible.

Any event has to be analyzed from the point of view of each participant. It's not unusual to read two accounts of the same war by opposing sides, and get the impression that they're talking about two different wars. The same principle is true of major political events, such as bloody riots or coups.

Now, in the case of the Mideast, this job would have to be done for each of the tribes in the Mideast. This would be a lot of work anyway, but the problem is compounded by the fact that a lot of the historical information is only available in such languages are Arabic, Farsi or Urdu. That's why I said that I don't have the resources to do this job, and that it would require having something like a college department back them up.

The current situation between Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar is an example. About half an hour ago I saw a "Mideast expert" on television, and he was asked how the Qatar blockade was going to end. He answered that "Saudi Arabia is going to have egg on its face." This is what we get from these "experts." These Washington experts are complete idiots, as I've been seeing for many years now.

Still, I don't have an answer to the question of what the core issues are in the Saudi-Qatar split. Every analysis I've read is extremely shallow, usually no deeper than the "egg on its face" explanation, or something fatuous about Trump. I like to joke that, for these people, history always begins this morning.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, it's clear that it's going to be necessary to analyze generational timelines for all the ethnic and religious groups in the region going back at least two centuries, and possibly farther. Perhaps some college department can take this on as a thesis topic, because I don't have the resources to answer this question. I'll be happy to help if anyone is interested.

I've done a little work in analyzing Mideast generational timelines, but I've barely scratched the surface. Below is a list of articles that I've written in the past that contain brief generational analyses of the Sunni-Shia issue.

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Jun-17 World View -- Hezbollah's Nasrallah makes delusional speech about 'foreign fighters' attacking Israel thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Jun-2017) Permanent Link
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25-Jun-17 World View -- Al-Jazeera may be at the center of the Gulf crisis with Qatar

UAE threatens 'parting of the ways' unless Qatar meets 13 demands

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Saudi Arabia, UAE leak 13 demands to end Qatar crisis


An aerial view of Doha, Qatar, in the fog, as the sun rises
An aerial view of Doha, Qatar, in the fog, as the sun rises

On June 5, four Arab countries -- Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt -- imposed a land, sea and air blockade on Qatar. Other Arab countries followed suit. Many international politicians have said they were "mystified" by what the Arab countries were demanding of Qatar to end the crisis. The US asked Saudi Arabia to produce a list of demands that were "reasonable and actionable."

It's known that Saudi Arabia and UAE had heavily criticized Qatar for its strong support of the Muslim Brotherhood, considered a terrorist organization by America and some European nations, for its continuing trade and diplomatic relations with Iran, with whom Saudi Arabia and some other Arab countries have broken diplomatic relations entirely, and for its use of al-Jazeera to propagate a message of support for the Muslim Brotherhood, and criticism of the leaders of other Arab states. However, the detailed demands were not known.

On Friday, a list of 13 demands appeared in the media. It's not clear where the list came from. The Saudis claim that the list was supposed to remain secret, so that negotiations would be effective. The Saudis claim that Qatar leaked the list in order to sabotage the negotiations. Other reports claim that the list came from Kuwait, which is acting as a mediator.

Here are the demands, as leaked to AP:

  1. Curb diplomatic ties with Iran and close its diplomatic missions there. Expel members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard from Qatar and cut off any joint military cooperation with Iran. Only trade and commerce with Iran that complies with U.S. and international sanctions will be permitted.
  2. Sever all ties to “terrorist organizations,” specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic State group, al-Qaida, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Formally declare those entities as terrorist groups.
  3. Shut down Al-Jazeera and its affiliate stations.
  4. Shut down news outlets that Qatar funds, directly and indirectly, including Arabi21, Rassd, Al Araby Al-Jadeed and Middle East Eye.
  5. Immediately terminate the Turkish military presence currently in Qatar and end any joint military cooperation with Turkey inside of Qatar.
  6. Stop all means of funding for individuals, groups or organizations that have been designated as terrorists by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, the United States and other countries.
  7. Hand over “terrorist figures” and wanted individuals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain to their countries of origin. Freeze their assets, and provide any desired information about their residency, movements and finances.
  8. End interference in sovereign countries’ internal affairs. Stop granting citizenship to wanted nationals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Revoke Qatari citizenship for existing nationals where such citizenship violates those countries’ laws.
  9. Stop all contacts with the political opposition in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Hand over all files detailing Qatar’s prior contacts with and support for those opposition groups.
  10. Pay reparations and compensation for loss of life and other, financial losses caused by Qatar’s policies in recent years. The sum will be determined in coordination with Qatar.
  11. Align itself with the other Gulf and Arab countries militarily, politically, socially and economically, as well as on economic matters, in line with an agreement reached with Saudi Arabia in 2014.
  12. Agree to all the demands within 10 days of it being submitted to Qatar, or the list becomes invalid. The document doesn’t specify what the countries will do if Qatar refuses to comply.
  13. Consent to monthly audits for the first year after agreeing to the demands, then once per quarter during the second year. For the following 10 years, Qatar would be monitored annually for compliance.

Many analysts have said that these demands are not "reasonable and actionable," and that in fact the demands are so drastic that the list appears to have been designed to be rejected. AP and Atlantic

UAE threatens 'parting of the ways' unless Qatar meets 13 demands

According to reports from Qatar, the land, sea and air blockade has little effect on the daily lives of the citizens. Although Qatar imports 90% of its food, and formerly imported most of it from Saudi Arabia and UAE, the grocery store shelves are fully stocked, with supplies coming in from Iran and Turkey. According to one reporter, the main difference is that there are more Turkish dairy products, "which have proven to be higher quality and less expensive" than previous products. To all appearances, the blockade has been a failure.

UAE's foreign affairs minister Anwar Gargash spoke out on Saturday to say that the purpose of the blockade was not to punish Qatar, but to change its behavior:

"The alternative is not escalation, the alternative is parting of ways, because it is very difficult for us to maintain a collective grouping. This is not about regime change, this about behavioral change.

"The mediators’ ability to shuttle between the parties and try and reach a common ground has been compromised by this leak [the leak of the 13 demands]. Their success is very dependent on their ability to move but not in the public space."

Gargash says that unless Qatar meets the demands, it will be expelled from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Beyond that, it's not clear what is being threatened by "parting of ways." Doha News and The National (UAE)

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Al-Jazeera takes center stage in the Gulf crisis

Although all 13 of the demands in the list are serious, especially Qatar's relationship with Iran, it's hard to escape the feeling that the heart of the dispute is over al-Jazeera.

I've watched al-Jazeera English (AJE) for years, and there's no question that it has an editorial point of view. I've written on several occasions that AJE hates Israel, which is what one would expect and is not surprising. But what is surprising is that AJE seems to hate Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority even more than it hates Israel. I can't recall ever hearing an editorial criticism of Hamas, which is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, and I certainly can't recall AJE referring to Hamas as a terrorist organization. So those who claim that al-Jazeera is "pro-Palestinian" are being misleading in my opinion. What they are is pro-Hamas.

Al-Jazeera was launched in 1996, and since then its two major affiliates, AJE and al-Jazeera Arabic (AJA) have become the most widely heard news sources in the Mideast. It is owned and funded by Qatar's government. It has always been encouraged to have an editorial policy of criticizing other Arab governments, although Qatar's government never received much criticism. Attempts by other countries to compete, such as Saudi Arabia's al-Arabiya, have succeeded only moderately.

On AJA, one of the most popular shows for years has been "Sharia and Life," a call-in show hosted by a leading Muslim Brotherhood cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Viewers could call in and received advice on food, family, clothing, politics, or anything else. Much of this advice contradicted the policy of Saudi Arabia and other Arab states.

The biggest differences began to emerge after the July 2013 coup that ousted Egypt's democratically elected president Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government. Al-Jazeera came down firmly on the side of Morsi, and against the coup leader, General Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi, who later became Egypt's president. Several al-Jazeera reporters were arrested in Egypt, and remained in jail for several years. Gulf Times and Atlantic

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Jun-17 World View -- Al-Jazeera may be at the center of the Gulf crisis with Qatar thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Jun-2017) Permanent Link
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24-Jun-17 World View -- India's 'Operation All-Out' brings Kashmir closer to all-out war

Multiple terrorist attacks across Pakistan kill nearly 50

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

India's 'Operation All-Out' brings Kashmir closer to all-out war


Indian army soldiers conduct a patrol during an operation against suspected rebels in Kashmir (AFP)
Indian army soldiers conduct a patrol during an operation against suspected rebels in Kashmir (AFP)

Tit-for-tat violence between Kashmir separatist insurgents and Indian security forces is escalating again. It was just last month that India launched a massive house-to-house sweep in Kashmir, using 3,000 security forces to root out terrorists. Insurgents have responded with new attacks, including the beating to death of an Indian police officer.

Now, Indian security forces are signaling that their patience has run its course, and a new "Operation All-Out" is being launched. According to media reports in India:

"The country's top security establishment has prepared a blueprint to deliver a lethal blow to terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir with a long-term plan for a lasting peace in the trouble-torn Valley. ... As many as 258 militants from a clutch of outfits have been shortlisted for Operation All-Out that has been launched strategically in parts of the region. ...

Sources also said intelligence inputs reveal that a new consignment of arms arrived in the Valley from across the border. "These are Chinese-made arms with better precision and more lethal effects," the sources said, pointing out that Chinese hand grenades were used in an attack on a CRPF Battalion this week."

These statements are significant not only because they signal escalated fighting in Kashmir, but also because they suggest Chinese intervention on the side of Pakistan.

According to the reports, the 258 militants who are being targeted are mostly from three terrorist groups:

India Legal Live and AP and India Today

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Kashmir escalations building to all-out war

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics and generational theory, Kashmir is rapidly heading for all-out war, possibly by the end of this summer.

Very long-time readers, may recall that in January, 2008, I wrote an article titled "Sri Lanka government declares all-out war against Tamil Tiger rebels." In that article, I wrote about the Sri Lankan civil war between the governing ethnic majority (Buddhist) Sinhalese and the ethnic minority (Hindu) Tamils. A separatist group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) or "Tamil Tigers" had been fighting an insurgency since the 1970s, although a peace agreement had been signed in 2003.

In that article, I quoted a military chief as saying that he was "confident" of defeating the Tamil by the end of the year. He said that the Tamils had violated the peace agreement repeatedly, so that it was meaningless, and:

"We can bring the war against the LTTE to a turning point once we are able to destroy the LTTE capabilities to operate in bunkers and forward defense lines."

The government had indeed run out of patience, and launched all-out war against the Tamil separatists, even killing them with artillery when they were hiding behind innocent civilians used as human shields. The civil war climaxed in May 2009, following reports of genocide on both sides, when the separatist Tamil Tigers surrendered and renounced further violence, ending the Sri Lanka crisis civil war.

If we apply the Sri Lanka situation to the current situation in Kashmir, there are some similarities and differences. In both cases, there was an ethnic/religious fault line (Buddhist Sinhalese versus Hindu Tamils, and Muslim Kashmiris versus Hindu Indians).

In both cases, the insurgency had gone on for years, with periods of low-level violence alternating with periods of mediated peace. In both cases, each new round of violence was worse than the previous one.

When the Sinhalese army "lost patience" in January 2008, it was a turning point in the war. In terms of Generational Dynamics, this was the point of "regeneracy," a term that's used in generational theory to describe the regeneracy of civic unity for the first time since the climactic end of the previous generational crisis war. The regeneracy is characterized by increased xenophobia and nationalism on all sides, and an attitude of "lost patience," meaning that "I'm going to end this war, once and for all, no matter what the cost." Compromise is no longer an option. The war continues and becomes increasingly genocidal, until there's an explosive genocidal climax that's so horrible that it brings the war to an end.

So in the case of Sri Lanka, the war did come to an end. Only now, nine years later, are we beginning to see the first signs of new decades of on again off again conflict, this time between the Sinhalese Buddhists and the Muslim Bodu Bala Sena (BBS).

So what does this tell us about Kashmir? In Sri Lanka, there was "lost patience," a regeneracy, another 17 months of increasingly genocidal fighting, an explosive climax, and then the war was over.

So with "Operation All-Out," we might imagine another 17 months of increasingly genocidal conflict between the Kashmiris and the Indian security forces, after which there will be an explosive climax and the war will be over.

But one can quickly see that won't happen in Kashmir. Sri Lanka is a relatively small island, and the fighting was contained to that island. India might have intervened, but did not intervene, so the war ended.

Kashmir is a small region, but it's surrounded by Pakistan and India. The war in Kashmir would not be contained. All-out war in Kashmir would spread to all-out war between Pakistan and India, with China supporting Pakistan and Russia supporting India. All-out war in Kashmir would be the start of the Clash of Civilizations World War.

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Multiple terrorist attacks across Pakistan kill nearly 50

There were multiple terror attacks in cities across Pakistan on Friday, killing 47 people and injuring hundreds of others.

At least 25 people were killed in two explosions at a market in the north-western town of Parachinar. The two explosions went off almost simultaneously near a bus terminal. The second explosion happened as rescuers rushed to help the injured from the first explosion. Four more people died later when security forces confronted an angry crowd protesting about the poor security situation.

At least 13 people died in a suicide bombing in Quetta. In Karachi, at least four policemen were reported to have been shot and killed on Friday evening.

The Pakistan army's Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) agency said that the terrorists who conducted the attacks had crossed the border from "sanctuaries" in Afghanistan.

Both Pakistan and Afghanistan regularly blame sanctuaries in each other's country for terrorist attacks in their own country. There is actually some truth to this, as terrorists cross the border in either direction, blow up a marketplace or whatever, and then flee from local security forces back across the border where the security forces can't follow. BBC and Geo TV (Pakistan) and Dawn (Pakistan)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Jun-17 World View -- India's 'Operation All-Out' brings Kashmir closer to all-out war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Jun-2017) Permanent Link
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23-Jun-17 World View -- Financial crisis becomes critical in Illinois and Puerto Rico

Voting for statehood will not save Puerto Rico from financial crisis

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Voting for statehood will not save Puerto Rico from financial crisis


Governor Ricardo Rosselló and Congresswoman representing Puerto Rico Jennifer Gonzalez celebrate the results of the statehood referendum (AP)
Governor Ricardo Rosselló and Congresswoman representing Puerto Rico Jennifer Gonzalez celebrate the results of the statehood referendum (AP)

On June 11, the citizens of Puerto Rico passed a non-binding referendum calling for Puerto Rico to be the 51st state of the United States. The vote was overwhelming -- 97% voted "yes" on the referendum.

Puerto Rico's governor Ricardo Rosselló said that he will create a commission to demand statehood from the U.S. Congress, which has to approve any changes to the island's political status. Standing in front of a cheering crowd of supporters carrying U.S. flags and dancing to a tropical jingle that promoted statehood, Rosselló yelled:

"The United States of America will have to obey the will of our people!"

Whether Rosselló actually believes that non-sequitur, or whether he actually believes his fantasy claim that Puerto Rico's financial crisis would now be solved by an influx of dollars from statehood, is not known. What is known with certainty is that Puerto Rico is not about to become a statement.

The referendum was about as phony as a Russian presidential election. Only 23% of the electorate voted, because the vote was almost 100% boycotted by all opposition groups, including the majority of Puerto Ricans who consider their identity and their culture to be uniquely theirs and do not want to be an American state for any reason. The pro-statehood party, on the other hand, spent millions of dollars on a campaign, telling people that if they did not vote for statehood they would be deprived of their U.S. citizenship and promising millions in federal money if it became the 51st state.

For Puerto Rico to achieve statehood, Congress would have to approve. The population are overwhelmingly Democrats, so a Republican congress will not be too interested. And statehood would mean that Puerto Rico would get five seats in the House of Representative, which means that five other states would lose one seat. It's just not going to happen. ABC News (12-Jun) and The Atlantic and The Hill and CNBC (9-June)

Puerto Rico plunges into contentious bankruptcy proceedings

Puerto Rico owes $70 billion in bond debt and an additional $49 billion pension obligation to government employees. There's is absolutely no possibility that those debts will ever be repaid.

Puerto Rico's bonds have been tax exempt since 1917. Many people have invested in Puerto Rico bonds because they pay 10% interest (yields) and because under federal law they're "triple-tax free." This means that you could invest in Puerto Rico's bonds and earn 10% interest every year, and not have to pay federal, state or municipal tax on the interest you collect. There were other major tax benefits granted exclusively to those investing in Puerto Rico.

The money that investors paid for these bonds has been essentially "free money" to Puerto Rico, since nobody there apparently believed that it would ever have to be paid back. As a result, Puerto Rico has felt free to spend huge amounts of money on social programs, with bills that are only now coming due.

The unemployment rate is 13.7%. Only 700,000 of the 3.5 million people, or 20%, work in the private sector. The other 80% either are on welfare, or they receive unemployment or other aid, or they work for the government. Year after year, Puerto Rico sold more and more bonds, and investors ate them up because of the high tax-free yields.

Through various financial tricks, Puerto Rico has managed to avoid bankruptcy until now, but bankruptcy proceedings finally began in May of this year.

A Puerto Rican default is likely to affect millions of Americans. Here's an example of how mainland U.S. residents are affected: More than 40 percent of the Rochester Maryland Municipal Bond Fund and the Rochester Virginia Municipal Fund are invested in Puerto Rican bonds. Funds from Oppenheimer Funds and Franklin Templeton are heavily invested in Puerto Rico. If these funds collapse, public sector retirees and employees from states that invested in them will suffer.

The triple-tax free 10% interest deal has drawn massive amounts of money from 401k's and other ordinary investment funds. These funds will all lose significant principal in a Puerto Rico default, which means that a lot of ordinary Americans will lose part or all of their savings. Daily Caller and NBC News (5-June) and The Nation (24-May)

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Illinois bond rating expected to be cut to junk status

When Illinois' government missed an important deadline on June 1, rating agencies downgraded Illinois bonds to one step above junk status, and warned that unless the political impasse is resolved by July 1, it's likely that they'll be downgraded again, to junk status.

Illinois' debt has been exploding. In May 2016, the state had $5.03 billion in unpaid bills. That has almost tripled in one year with spending obligations exceeding receipts by about $600 million per month. As of June 1 of this year, it owes a record $14.5 billion in unpaid bills. On top of that, unfunded pension liability has been exploding as well. The state has more than 660 government pension funds. The unfunded pension liability for the state's five major plans is $251 billion, up 25% in the last year.

Pundits are claiming that Illinois' situation isn't as bad as Puerto Rico's, because Illinois is a wealthier state and can impose higher taxes. In one sense, the two are the same: There is no hope of ever paying off these debts.

Illinois hasn't passed a budget for the past two years. The Democrat-controlled legislature and Republican governor Bruce Rauner can't agree about anything. It's this political chaos that caused the June 1 deadline to be missed, and the same chaos makes it likely that a July 1 deadline will also be missed, which will trigger the bond downgrade to junk status.

The downgrade to junk status will not immediately force the state into default, but it will raise interest rates significantly, caused the debt death spiral (or, as S&P calls it, the "negative credit spiral") to accelerate. Anticipation of junk status is already affecting interest rates. Chicago public schools, which used to pay 4.64% interest on its bonds, are now paying an exorbitant 9%.

Other states are also facing serious debt spirals. According to a 2016 study by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University:

The rankings were based on cash solvency, budget solvency, long-run solvency, service-level solvency and trust fund solvency. Investors.com and Zero Hedge and Bloomberg (1-June) and Barrons and Mercatus Center at George Mason University (2016)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Jun-17 World View -- Financial crisis becomes critical in Illinois and Puerto Rico thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Jun-2017) Permanent Link
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22-Jun-17 World View -- Selection of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman portends further Mideast instability

Iran's ballistic missile launch on Syria said to be a flop

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Selection of new Saudi crown prince portends rapid changes in Mideast


Saudi Arabia's new Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
Saudi Arabia's new Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

We've seen rapid changes in the Mideast, especially since the "Arab spring" that began in 2011, bringing younger generations of Arabs into power to replace long-time dictators, and convulsing one country after another to the effect that it seems that the region becomes more and more unstable every day. There's no other way to cast the the latest change in the government of Saudi Arabia.

Previous royal successions have clearly focused on stability. Saudi Arabia's 90-year-old King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud died in January 2015, the Saudis followed tradition and appointed as a new king his "young" half-brother, the 79-year-old Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud.

King Salman appointed his own successor, his nephew Mohammed bin Nayef, 57 years old, who became the "Crown Prince," meaning that he would become king if Salman died.

Wednesday's announcement breaks tradition. Salman has dumped his 57-year-old nephew Mohammed bin Nayef, and selected a new Crown Prince, his own 31 year old son, Mohammed bin Salman. In order to make this choice, Salman has arranged to amend the Basic Law of Government to say:

"Rule passes to the sons of the founding King, Abd al-Aziz Bin Abd al-Rahman al-Faysal Al Saud, and to their children's children. The most upright among them is to receive allegiance in accordance with the principles of the Holy Quran and the Tradition of the Venerable Prophet."

Traditionally, the line of succession in Saudi Arabia has passed from brother to brother. The phrase "children's children" is the change that permits Mohammed bin Salman to be selected, replacing brother to brother succession with father to son succession.

Mohammed bin Salman has already had a meteoric rise in Saudi politics, as the world's youngest defense minister. According to some reports, he has already been the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, as his father has been ailing.

Mohammed bin Salman is generally already very popular in Saudi Arabia, where the average age is 27, as he's promised to reform some of the strict Sharia laws that govern social life. Under his direction, Saudi Arabia has already set up a series of activities that are popular in the west, including comedy shows and monster truck competitions. He's unveiled a wide-ranging plan to bring social and economic change to the kingdom, and he's already travelled to Beijing, Moscow and Washington, where he met President Donald Trump in March. Al Arabiya and CNN and BBC

Mohammed bin Salman expected to follow a belligerent foreign policy

Saudi Arabia has for decades had a very conservative foreign policy, maintaining alliances with Americans, Europeans, Chinese and Russians, and serving as leader and mediator of the Gulf Cooperation Council of Arab states. That appears to be undergoing drastic change now.

As Saudi Minister of Defense, the young, energetic Mohammed bin Salman already has a record that indicates a far more belligerent and nationalistic foreign policy than the country has had in the past. This is what would be expected for a country in a generational Crisis era, after a succession to a younger generation.

Mohammed bin Salman is chief architect of the Saudi war against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, beginning in March 2015. This war has been a disaster for Saudi Arabia. Promises of a quick victory have dissolved into more and more bloody warfare. The war has not resulted in anything approaching victory, but has created a major humanitarian crisis, with 14.1 million people having little or no access to food.

Now that he's become Crown Prince, he's going to be under pressure to bring the war to a successful conclusion. In a generational Crisis era, a time of high nationalism, that is not going to be done by compromise, even if there were some inclination to do so. It's likely that under Mohammed bin Salman, there will be a sharp escalation in the Yemen war.

That brings us to the subject of Iran. Mohammed bin Salman is believed to be a leader of the air, sea and land blockade of Qatar, with Qatar's trade and diplomatic relations with Iran being one of the reasons given. According to Sanam Vakil analyst from Chatham House:

"Mohammed bin Salman already a few weeks back was the one who effectively shut the door to rapprochement between Saudi Arabia or the smaller GCC alliance and Iran.

It seems that the crown prince has a very ambitious regional agenda, moving away from the longstanding Saudi policy of being much more quietist and working behind the scenes. This new prince has taken on a much more assertive regional role."

The implications are that Mohammed bin Salman has to win the war in Yemen, and that the split with Qatar will not be resolved for a very long time.

Mohammed bin Salman's rise also has implications for the war in Syria. He will not be likely to continue to tolerate Iran's aggressive actions in Syria. So far, the Saudis have avoided using ground troops in either the Yemen or the Syria war, but the new Crown Prince may feel obligation to counter Iran's influence by sending ground troops into one or both of these warring countries. RFI and Middle East Eye and Newsweek

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Iran's ballistic missile launch on Syria said to be a flop

As we reported Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said that on Sunday it launched seven medium-range ballistic missiles (Zolfaghar ballistic missiles) from western Iran to at ISIS targets in Deir az-Zour in Syria, after flying over Iraq.

According to Israeli sources, the missile strike was a flop. According to Israeli media, three of the seven missiles fell to earth in Iraq, and three of the others missed their targets by hundreds of yards. Only one of the seven missiles reached its intended target.

According to an Israeli analyst:

"If the Iranians were trying to show their capabilities and to signal to Israel and to the Americans that these missiles are operational, the result was rather different. It was a flop, a failure. Still, it photographed well."

The IRGC said that all seven missiles reached their targets, and that 130 terrorists were killed. Times of Israel

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Jun-17 World View -- Selection of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman portends further Mideast instability thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Jun-2017) Permanent Link
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21-Jun-17 World View -- Massive government atrocities in DR Congo's Kasai threaten regional stability

Brief generational history of DRC's Kasai region

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

DRC's president Kabila refusal to step down threatens African stability


Ethnic clashes in Kasai province in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (AP)
Ethnic clashes in Kasai province in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (AP)

Earlier this month, the US and the European Union imposed sanctions on high-level officials in the government of president Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic (DRC), in reaction to numerous atrocities and war crimes committed by Kabila's government.

Besides war crimes, one of the reasons for the sanctions is that Kabila, who has been in power since 2001, is refusing to step down, despite the fact that his latest term in office expired in December of last year.

Kabila pulled a mind-boggling stunt. He claims that he can't step down because there haven't been any elections to select a president to replace him. There were supposed to be elections in November but they weren't held, because Kabila had done everything in his power to make it impossible to hold elections.

In December there was 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's now June 2017, and it's pretty clear that Kabila has no intention of stepping down this. In fact, he's denying that there's any agreement at all:

"I promised nothing at all, I want to organize elections as quickly as possible ... We want perfect elections, not just elections."

Of course he's right that he promised nothing at all: He never signed the farcical agreement brokered by the Catholic Church.

And no he's saying that it will cost $1.8 billion to hold the election this year, but that money can't be spared (presumably because he has to pay his army to massacre people in the opposition). So now he says that maybe there will be elections sometime in 2018.

Presumably he'd like the West to give him $1.8 billion to hold elections, but the norm in Africa is for leaders to take aid money and use it to build a mansion for themselves, put it into the leader's Swiss bank account, or, most likely in this case, use the money to kill more people in the ethnic tribes he hates. Despite untold billions of dollars given in aid to African countries for decades, the African people are still in the same level of poverty as they were decades ago, since these leaders make sure that the aid money is never actually used for aid.

Kofi Annan, the anti-American former Secretary-General of the United Nations issued a statement, signed by other former African national leaders, is warning that Kabila's actions are destabilizing the region, and possibly all of Africa:

"As African leaders committed to democracy, we are deeply concerned about the political situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which represents a threat to the stability, prosperity and peace of the Great Lakes region, and indeed for Africa as a whole.

We feel obliged to sound the alarm before it is too late.

The failure to organize elections in late 2016, in conformity with the constitution of the DRC, has created an acute political crisis.

The agreement between the Government and the Opposition reached on New Year’s Eve under the aegis of the Conference of Bishops (CENCO) averted a disaster, but its implementation faces increasing difficulties that jeopardize the process intended to lead to peaceful elections this year.

Both the spirit and the letter of the agreement are not being respected thereby endangering a non-violent political transition, which we believe is vital for the future stability and prosperity of the DRC.

Elections with integrity are the only peaceful strategy possible for resolving the crisis of legitimacy besetting the Congo’s institutions."

The statement concludes that "left unresolved the crisis will have continental implications." Human Rights Watch (1-June) and Africa News (4-June) and Newsweek (16-June) and Kofi Annan Foundation (6-June)

Catholic Church report documents massive government atrocities in DRC's Kasai region

Based on a new report by the Catholic Church, the Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the chief of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR), accused authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) of mass atrocities against people in the Luba and Lulua ethnic tribes in Central Kasai province in DRC:

"The humanitarian and human rights situation has deteriorated dramatically [over the last three months] and various actors are fueling ethnic hatred, resulting in extremely grave, widespread and apparently planned attacks against the civilian population in the Kasais. ...

I am appalled by the creation and arming of a militia, the Bana Mura, allegedly to support the authorities in fighting the Kamwina Nsapu (rebels), but which has carried out horrific attacks against civilians from the Luba and Lulua ethnic groups. ...

Refugees from multiple villages ... indicated that the Bana Mura have in the past two months shot dead, hacked or burned to death, and mutilated, hundreds of villagers, as well as destroying entire villages."

Unrest in the DRC capital Kinshasa turned violent on September 16 of last year, when DRC's electoral commission failed to launch the constitutionally-required presidential election process, making it evident that president Joseph Kabila had no intention of holding elections and stepping down.

By the time that Kabila's term in office ended on December 16, there was a growing civil war that was temporarily slowed by the agreement previously mentioned brokered by the Catholic Church that Kabila didn't even sign.

Kabila's greatest opposition stronghold is in the Central Kasai province, among the Luba and Lulua tribes. Tribal chieftain Kamwina Nsapu, was killed in August of last year, resulting in the formation of the Kamwina Nsapu anti-government insurgency. By January, 216,000 people had been displaced, and more than 400 killed, and the unrest and violence have been spreading to other regions.

The government created and armed its own militia, the Bana Mura militia. Apparently its actions were similar to those of the Janjaweed militias in Darfur. Sudan's government originally created the Janjaweed militias was to police the Darfur region, but in time the Janjaweed militias began committing mass atrocities, including killings, rape and torture.

So the DRC government created the Bana Mura militia to police the Luba and Lulua tribes in Kasai province, but they're now accused of committing mass atrocities, including killings, rape and torture.

UNHCR chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein is calling for a full scale investigation of the atrocities, and is asking the United Nations Security Council to authorize the investigation. However, DRC's government is refusing to cooperate with any investigation, and is forbidding any investigators from entering the region. The investigation is also being opposed by representatives from other African countries, who fear that such an investigation might lead to investigations of government atrocities in their own countries. United Nations and Crisis Group (13-Oct-2016) and TRT World (Turkey) and Crisis Group (21-Mar)

Brief generational history of DRC's Kasai region

The Democratic Republic of Congo is an enormously large, almost the size of one-fourth of the United States. It's a country on multiple generational timelines. In particular, the violence in eastern DRC is on a different timeline, closely related to the Rwanda genocide, than southern DRC, containing the Kasai region.

United Nation officials are concerned that the unrest in Kasai is going to turn into a full scale civil war. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is a growing possibility, but not the most likely outcome at this particular time.

After the decolonization of Belgian Congo, the Republic of Great Kasai declared its independence on June 14, 1960. On August 8, 1960, the autonomous Mining State of South Kasai was proclaimed with its capital at Bakwanga (present-day Mbuji-Mayi).

The Congo became independent on June 30, 1960. During a bloody four month military campaign in which thousands of civilians were massacred, troops of the Congolese central government re-conquered the Kasai region, and ended the South Kasai secession.

So South Kasai's last generational crisis war climaxed 57 years ago. In analysis of hundreds of previous generational crisis wars, it turns out that a new generational crisis war is most likely to start 58 years after the climax of the previous one, as that appears to be the critical time when most of the survivors of the previous war disappear (retire or die). South Kasai is thus on the cusp of a generational Unraveling era, transitioning into a generational Crisis era. So from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, it's quite possible that the current growing violence will spiral into full-scale civil war this year, but it's more likely that a full scale war will wait until next year. Africa Federation - Kasai History

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Jun-17 World View -- Massive government atrocities in DR Congo's Kasai threaten regional stability thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Jun-2017) Permanent Link
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20-Jun-17 World View -- Iran scores strategic victory in Syria with land route from Tehran to Mediterranean

Russia warns US that its jets in western Syria will be treated as targets

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iran scores strategic victory in Syria with land route from Tehran to Mediterranean


Iran's land route from Tehran to Mediterranean Sea, through Baghdad and Damascus (Guardian)
Iran's land route from Tehran to Mediterranean Sea, through Baghdad and Damascus (Guardian)

According to several reports, Iran has scored a major military victory in the last few days by taking control of villages on the Iraq-Syrian border in Deir az-Zour, and thus able to claim that they have control of an entire route, or land bridge, connecting Tehran to the Mediterranean Sea. The villages had been controlled by the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), and they were recaptured by Syrian army forces in conjunction with the military operations to expel ISIS from Raqqa.

As we reported two weeks ago, the US and Iran were headed for a military confrontation in Deir az-Zour, as they competed to take control of the region in eastern Syria freed up by the expulsion of ISIS. But apparently the achievement caught the west by surprise. The Iraqi army's Iran-trained Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) raced from Mosul in Iraq to the Syrian border just as Syrian army divisions reached the same border crossing earlier this month, according to a pre-arranged plan between Iran and the Syrian regime. This gave Iran control of the border crossing before coalition forces could react.

This so-called land bridge is a lengthy, meandering 1,100 land route through Iraq and Syria, as can be seen from the map above, and there is a lot of skepticism that Iran controls the entire route in any certain sense. So far as is known, no attempt has yet been made to make use of the land route. Furthermore, even if Iran does control the entire route, any convoys would be vulnerable to US or Israeli airstrikes.

However, if the land bridge claim turns out to be true, it would be significant strategic victory for Iran, because it would permit Iran to supply its allies in Lebanon and Syria with weapons and rockets.

In light of this strategy, Iran's launch of seven missiles into ISIS targets in Deir az-Zour, that we reported yesterday, can be seen as having the two purposes: First to support the capture of ISIS territory needed for the land bridge, and second to warn Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel not to interfere, as the next missiles could be launched in their direction.

This is not the end of the story. Americans, Russians, regime Syrians, free Syrians, Kurds, Hezbollah and Iranians have all been united in fight against ISIS in Raqqa and Mosul. Al Monitor and Al Araby (9-June) and New Yorker and News Deeply (8-June)

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Russia warns US that its jets in western Syria will be treated as targets

Russia is demanding a full accounting from the United States military on why it was necessary for the US military to shoot down a Syrian regime Su-22 bomber on Sunday. As we reported yesterday, the US issued a lengthy statement explaining that the Syrian warplane was targeting Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that are supported by the US in the military operation to recapture Raqqa from ISIS.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that all coalition jets and drones flying west of the Euphrates River will be tracked as potential targets:

"Any aircraft, including planes and drones belonging to the international coalition operating west of the Euphrates River will be tracked by Russian anti-aircraft forces in the sky and on the ground and treated as targets."

The Pentagon statement that we quoted yesterday said that "the Coalition contacted its Russian counterparts by telephone via an established ‘de-confliction line’ to de-escalate the situation and stop the firing," referring to a hotline set up months ago between the US and Russia to prevent accidental or unintended military clashes. On Monday, Russia threatened to discontinue the de-confliction line, although reports at the end of the day indicated that it was still working.

There's a possibility that Russia is making threats for the benefit of its Syrian and Iranian clients, but does not intend to follow through on them, though this is not known if true.

As I've written many times, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for 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. Military Times and The Hill and Debka

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Jun-17 World View -- Iran scores strategic victory in Syria with land route from Tehran to Mediterranean thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Jun-2017) Permanent Link
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19-Jun-17 World View -- US shoots down Syrian warplane, as Iran launches missiles into Syria

Iran launches missiles at ISIS targets in Deir az-Zour in major escalation

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

US coalition warplane shoots down Syrian regime warplane targeting SDF


Syrian Defense Forces (SDF)
Syrian Defense Forces (SDF)

The Pentagon has confirmed that the US coalition has shot down a Syrian regime warplane that was attacking Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) positions near Raqqa.

The SDF are a US-backed fighting force containing mostly Kurds and with some Arabs that the US considers to be the best fighting force to defeat the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) in Raqqa, their last major stronghold in Syria.

According to the Pentagon statement:

"At approximately 4:30 p.m. Syria time, June 18, Pro-Syrian regime forces attacked the Syrian Democratic Forces-held town of Ja’Din, south of Tabqa, wounding a number of SDF fighters and driving the SDF from the town.

Coalition aircraft conducted a show of force and stopped the initial pro-regime advance toward the SDF-controlled town. Following the Pro-Syrian forces attack, the Coalition contacted its Russian counterparts by telephone via an established ‘de-confliction line’ to de-escalate the situation and stop the firing.

At 6:43 p.m., a Syrian regime SU-22 dropped bombs near SDF fighters south of Tabqa and, in accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defense of Coalition partnered forces, was immediately shot down by a U.S. F/A-18E Super Hornet. ...

The Coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend Coalition or partner forces from any threat."

A statement by the Syrian military said that the Syrian pilot was killed in the attack:

"“This attack comes at a time when the Syrian Arab army and its allies are advancing in the fight against ISIS terrorists who are being defeated in the Syrian desert in more ways than one. ...

The attack stresses coordination between the US and ISIS, and it reveals the evil intentions of the US in administrating terrorism and investing it to pass the US-Zionist project in the region."

According to a late "breaking news" report from the Syrian regime, Syrian Arab Army forces tried to cross SDF lines in order to recover the body of the pilot, resulting "a fierce confrontation that is currently ongoing between the two entities near the key town of Resafa in western Al-Raqqa."

Sunday's attack would be the second time recently that US warplanes have struct Syrian regime military targets. On May 18, American warplanes launched a series of airstrikes on Thursday against a military convoy of pro-regime militias fighting in Syria. That attack was on a pro-Syrian regime convoy headed in the direction of an American training camp at the border town al-Tanf in Syria, near the border with Iraq and close to the Jordan border. Washington Post and ARA News (Kurds) and Russia Today and Al Masdar News (Damascus)

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Iran launches missiles at ISIS targets in Deir az-Zour in major escalation

In a major escalation of its participation in the war in Syria, Iran has launched "a number of mid-range ground-to-ground missiles were fired from the IRGC aerospace force’s bases in Iran’s western provinces of Kermanshah and Kurdistan," striking ISIS targets in Deir az-Zour.

The missile attacks were in revenge for two coordinated terror attacks on Tehran targets on June 7. In the first attack, four gunmen, some dressed as women, burst into Iran's parliament armed with grenades and explosive vests. 12 people were killed after two vests had been detonated. After a five hour standoff, the four attackers were killed by police. A second, almost simultaneous attack, occurred when a suicide bomber exploded his vest near the mausoleum of Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who was the founder of Iran's Islamic Republic. One person was killed, another wounded.

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) blamed the attack on Saudi Arabia and America, and promised revenge. Sunday's missile attack was the promised revenged.

Up until now, Iran has participated in the war mostly by funding Hezbollah fighters, and providing military advisors. The missile launch marks an escalation in Iran's participation, and is likely to trigger new terror attacks by ISIS on Iran.

Iran has repeatedly said that Saudi Arabia was behind the June 7 attack. If Iran becomes convinced that it has irrefutable truth that the Saudis were behind a terror attack in Iran, then the next missile strike from Iran is likely to be on Saudi Arabia.

The two major events on Sunday -- the US downing of a Syrian warplane, and the missile launch by Iran -- shows how the war in Syria continues to spread and grow, almost on a daily basis.

As I've written many times, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for 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. Tasnim News (Tehran) and Mehr News (Tehran)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Jun-17 World View -- US shoots down Syrian warplane, as Iran launches missiles into Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Jun-2017) Permanent Link
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18-Jun-17 World View -- Hamas, ISIS argue over who gets credit for killing female Israeli officer

Three Palestinians shot dead after killing female Israeli officer

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Three Palestinians shot dead after killing female Israeli officer


23-year-old Hadas Malka, Border Police officer killed on Friday evening
23-year-old Hadas Malka, Border Police officer killed on Friday evening

Israeli security forces shot dead three Palestinian teenagers who carried out terrorist attacks on Israeli police officers in two different areas of Jerusalem on Friday evening.

At one location, two Palestinians were shot dead after opening fire at a group of Israeli police officers. One Israeli officer was injured.

At the second location, a Palestinian fatally stabbed Hadas Malka, a 23-year-old Border Police officer. Malka is being called a hero because she fought back against the attacker as he was repeatedly stabbing her. She died during emergency surgery. The attacker was shot dead.

For several months during 2015, these knife attacks by Palestinian teenagers on Israelis were becoming fairly common. Israeli security officials were baffled about how to prevent the knife attacks because, unlike suicide bomber vests, a knife can easily and openly be carried from place to place and wielded at a moment's notice. It was feared that the number of attacks would grow. However, by the end of the year it appeared that that the teenage knife attacks had run their course, despite encouragement from Hamas that they be continued.

The teenagers are in what is being called the "Oslo generation," because they grew up after the 1993 Oslo accords that were supposed to bring peace to the Mideast. Instead, the Oslo accords are perceived as having accomplished nothing, and that perception is completely correct. The Oslo generation see the so-called "Mideast peace process" as nothing more than a failed series of humiliations for Palestinians.

The result is that the youngest generations of Palestinians are pretty much disgusted with all the Palestinian leadership, in both the West Bank and Gaza. Like the youngest generations in many countries today, the Oslo generation are looking forward to replacing their current incompetent leadership with new, young, energetic leadership that will take them to war against Israel, and lead to atrocities, mass killing, rape and torture of both Palestinians and Israelis, and a region soaked with blood. Times of Israel and Reuters and Times of Israel

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Hamas, ISIS argue over who gets credit for killing female Israeli officer

In a series of bizarre twists, different terrorist groups are competing for the honor of taking credit for killing Hadas Malka.

First off, the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) took responsibility for the stabbing and shooting attacks on Friday evening. According to a statement from its Amaq PR agency:

"Let the Jews expect the demise of their entity at the hands of the Caliphate soldiers. [The attack is] revenge for God’s religion and for the violated sanctities of Muslims."

ISIS, which is close to being defeated in Raqqa in Syria and in Mosul in Iraq, is increasingly taking credit for terrorist acts it had nothing to do with in order to try to improve the value of its brand name in view of its approaching defeat.

Hamas, the government authority in Gaza, was quick to call say that ISIS are liars, and that Hamas should get the credit, because all of the teenage attackers were Hamas members. According to a Hamas official:

"The three hero martyrs who executed the Jerusalem operation have no connection to Daesh (ISIS), they are affiliated with the PFLP and Hamas."

The acronym PFLP stands for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a long-in-the-tooth terrorist organization formed after the 1967 war between Israel and Egypt, currently a branch of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

The PFLP posted an interesting statement on their web site:

"The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine praised the heroic operation in Jerusalem on Friday evening that led to the killing of one armed occupation Border Police officer and wounding of several more armed occupation forces, saying that this operation comes at a critical time to defend Palestinian resistance.

The Front saluted the martyrs whose lives were taken in the operation as heroes of the Palestinian people who acted to defend the rights of the Palestinian people with unrivaled courage, penetrating Zionist control over Jerusalem to direct the fire of their anger at the occupation’s armed forces and soldiers. The Front emphasized that the resistance is continued, rooted in the homeland and in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Palestine.

The PFLP also noted that this operation sends a strong, direct message to the defeated leaders of the Palestinian Authority, its polices and approach, that makes clear that the resistance is continuing and is the only path to defeat the occupier. The operation was carried out only meters from the al-Buraq Wall, confirming the Arab identity of Jerusalem. A attempt to undermine Palestinian and Arab rights to their holy sites and to Jerusalem will face strong and firm rebuke."

What's most interesting about the PFLP statement is that it refers to "the defeated leaders of the Palestinian Authority," referring especially to Mahmoud Abbas.

All of these statements are pure public relations statements. The purpose of the ISIS statement is to improve its brand name before its defeat in Syria and Iraq. The Hamas and PFLP statements are both targeted at the young Oslo Generation who, polls show, are completely disgusted with all of the leaders of the traditional Palestinian groups -- the Palestinian Authority, the PFLP, and Hamas. Each group is hoping that they can feel the love from the generation of Palestinian kids, but that's not going to happen.

Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority, put out a statement condemning Israel for killing three teenage Palestinians who killed Israeli police officer Hadas Malka and injured four others. Abbas called their deaths a "war crime." This is completely laughable, but like many politicians' laughable statements, it's just another public relations statement to appeal to the children in the Oslo generation who, as polls have shown, generally hate Mahmoud Abbas.

Israel's military, the IDF, said that two of the attackers known to be affiliated with a local cell and not working for either ISIS or Hamas. They were imprisoned in Israel in the past for rock and firebomb attacks. So it turns out that all these terrorist leaders were just ordinary politicians lying to their constituents.

As I've written many times, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for 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. Times of Israel and Yeshiva World News and YNet News and AP

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Jun-17 World View -- Hamas, ISIS argue over who gets credit for killing female Israeli officer thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Jun-2017) Permanent Link
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17-Jun-17 World View -- Djibouti, Eritrea border clash looms after Qatar withdraws peacekeepers

Tiny Djibouti tries to survive, surrounded by big neighbors

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Djibouti, Eritrea border clash looms after Qatar withdraws peacekeepers


Horn of Africa
Horn of Africa

The dispute between Saudi Arabia and Qatar on the Arabian Gulf has had a ripple effect on the horn of Africa in the form of a potential border clash between Djibouti and Eritrea.

On Friday, Djibouti accused Eritrea of invading and occupying disputed territory along their border. Some Eritrea military officials have confirmed that the charges are true. The invasion occurred after Qatar withdrew hundreds of peacekeeping troops it had on the border, following a major border war between Djibouti and Eritrea in 2008.

As we've been reporting, Saudi Arabia led a bloc of Arab countries in imposing a land, air and sea blockade on Qatar, accusing Qatar of funding terrorist acts through the Muslim Brotherhood, and of having too friendly relations with Saudi Arabia's arch-enemy, Iran.

President Donald Trump's harsh condemnation of Iran during his May 22 visit to Saudi Arabia triggered a renewal of long-standing vitriolic hostilities between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and on June 6, the vitriolic words turned into vitriolic actions, when Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) all imposed the land, air and sea blockade on Qatar.

In the next few days, other Arab countries, including Djibouti, joined the blockade, while Eritrea refused to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, saying that it was "impossible to cut ties," because it had "strong ties with the brother people of Qatar."

That changed last weekend. Last Sunday, Qatari officials visited to Eritrea to firm up it support for the Qatari side. But on Monday, Eritrea announced that it was switching sides and siding with Saudi Arabia against Qatar, issuing a statement:

"The decision by Gulf nations is among many in the right direction that envisages full realizations of peace and stability ... For Eritrea, this is a timely issue that warrants its active support."

That was all that Qatar could take. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Qatar pulled its peacekeeping troops from the border, and on Thursday Eritrea began its invasion.

Ethiopia has still not taken sides between Djibouti and Eritrea, but has called for dialog to settle the differences. The UN Security Council will meet on Monday to discuss the situation. Al Arabiya (Riyadh) and Africa News and Reuters and Press TV (Tehran)

Tiny Djibouti tries to survive, surrounded by big neighbors

Djibouti is a tiny country, with less than one million population, with high rates of illiteracy, unemployment, and childhood malnutrition. Nonetheless, the country has huge strategic importance, guarding the entrance to the Red Sea.

Djibouti hosts Camp Lemonnier, with more than 4,000 personnel, the largest American permanent military base in Africa. France and Japan launch military operations from Djibouti's Ambouli International airport. China also has a military base in Djibouti, and is investing heavily in the entire region with infrastructure projects.

Historically, Djibouti's population consists of two ethnic groups, both nomadic herders. Arabian immigrants came to the country in 3 B.C. and became the Afar ethnic group, who are considered the country's native population. Shortly thereafter, the Issa ethnic group came from Somalia, and today they are 60% of the population. In the 800s, Islam was introduced to the country and it became the first country to adopt Islam in the African continent.

In 1843, French troops came to the country and made the country its colony, later calling it French Somaliland. Following World War II, there were two referendums on the question of independence, one in 1957 and one in 1967, and the referendum failed in both cases. The Afars mostly voted to remain a French colony, while the dominant Issas favored independence, and accused the French of vote-rigging. After the 1967 referendum, France changed the name of the colony to "the Territory of the Afars and the Issas," in order to give the minority Afars a greater prominence. Finally, on June 27, 1977, France gave up its last colony, and made Djibouti an independent country. In recent years, tensions have been growing between the Afar and Issa tribes. (Paragraph corrected, 20-Jun)

A border war broke out in June 2008 between Djibouti and Eritrea. In 2009, the UN Security Council approved tough sanctions against Eritrea for supplying weapons to opponents of the Somali government and refusing to resolve border dispute with Djibouti. A peacekeeping mission was set up, using troops from Qatar.

With the Qatar troops leaving, the border war is resuming. The UN Security Council will meet on Monday to decide how to proceed. BBC (16-June-2015) and Nations Encyclopedia and Afar Diaspora Network

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Jun-17 World View -- Djibouti, Eritrea border clash looms after Qatar withdraws peacekeepers thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Jun-2017) Permanent Link
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16-Jun-17 World View -- United Nations peacekeeping force in Darfur Sudan to be cut almost in half

Brief generational history of the Darfur civil war in Sudan

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

United Nations peacekeeping force in Darfur Sudan to be cut almost in half


One of the many huge refugee camps that house millions of displaced Darfurians
One of the many huge refugee camps that house millions of displaced Darfurians

The United Nations Security Council is expected to vote unanimously on Sunday to approve a resolution to make a substantial reduction in the Darfur Sudan peacekeeping mission known as UNAMID. Some 8,000 personnel will be withdrawn. According to the resolution:

"Resulting in the reduction of the strength of the military component by 44% and that of the police component by 30%, the closure of 11 team sites in the first phase and the withdrawal of the military component from another 7 team sites in the second phase, it being understood that the Mission shall retain adequate and mobile quick response capabilities to be able to respond to security challenges as they arise."

Darfur is a large western province of Sudan containing numerous dark-skinned ethnic groups usually referred to collectively as "Africans." While the "Africans" are mostly farmers, the attacks have been the Janjaweed Militias, recently renamed the Rapid Support Force (RSF) for political reasons, consisting of light-skinned "Arabs," from herder ethnic groups. The Janjaweed militias are controlled by Sudan's government in Khartoum and have been accused of massive atrocities and genocide. An international arrest warrant has been issued by the the International Criminal Court on in the Hague for Sudan's president Omar al Bashir, who has been indicted on war crimes for the Darfur civil war, and the actions of the Janjaweed militias. The UN estimates that some 300,000 have been killed in the Darfur conflict so far, with 2.7 million people displaced from their homes, living in refugee camps under the protection of UNAMID.

The reason being given for the decision to cut the UNAMID force is that the amount of violence has gone down, as a result of a successful and brutal military operation last year by the RSF (Janjaweed militias) in the region of Jebel Marra in central Darfur.

Actually, there are numerous reports that the violence is continuing as before. The Jebel Marra offensive was extremely bloody, as reported by Amnesty International after interviewing hundreds of witnesses. According to the report:

"In January 2016, Sudanese government forces launched a large-scale military campaign in Jebel Marra, Darfur. Coordinated ground and air attacks targeted locations throughout Jebel Marra until May, when the seasonal rains in Darfur intensified, making ground attacks impractical throughout most of the area; air operations continued through mid-September. ...

Amnesty International interviewed over 200 witnesses of abuses carried out by government forces in Jebel Marra between January and September 2016. Through these interviews, Amnesty International has documented a large number of serious violations of international law committed by Sudanese government forces, including scores of instances where government forces deliberately targeted civilians.

The violations included the bombing of civilians and civilian property, the unlawful killing of men, women, and children, the abduction and rape of women, the forced displacement of civilians, and the looting and destruction of civilian property, including the destruction of entire villages.

An estimated 250,000 people have been displaced by violence in Jebel Marra. Many remain inaccessible to humanitarian actors and vulnerable to further attacks.

The instances of indiscriminate attacks and direct targeting of civilians documented in this report amount to war crimes and may constitute crimes against humanity."

Sudan Tribune and US State Dept. (18-Feb-2016) and Amnesty International (29-Sep-2016)

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Violence continues as before in Darfur

I have sympathy for the decision to cut back on the UNAMID peacekeeping mission, but not because it's already been successful. Rather, it's been so unsuccessful that it's been shown to be a waste of money and resources. The Jebel Marra operation by Sudan's RSF (Janjaweed militias) last year was a huge bloody disaster for UNAMID, because it's shown how useless UNAMID is. The same is true, as we've described elsewhere for the peacekeeping missions in Central African Republic and South Sudan.

Eric Reeves, a Sudan expert from Harvard University, was interviewed on RFI and provided the following analysis (my transcription):

"The security situation hasn't improved at all. The nature of insecurity has changed quite a bit with the military victory by the Khartoum regime, in Darfur with the Jebel Marra offensive of last year.

But as several reports have recently indicated, what's happened is that Darfur has been turned into what is called a "malicious state." While there is no active rebellion by organized rebel forces, the militias that opposed them, as well as the regular army, the Sudan armed forces, continue to attack civilians, and are bent on emptying camps for internally displaced persons, which hold 2.7 million overwhelmingly African non-Arab Darfuris, and there are 300,000 Darfuri refugees, again overwhelmingly non-Arab African in Eastern Chad, too fearful to return to what were their homes."

A detailed report from the Sudan Liberation Movement, covering the period from Dec 15, 2016, to March 15, 2017, confirms this assessment:

"The absence of security and the increasing levels of violence against civilians in Darfur manifests in many ways. As the facts and figures contained in this report show, the rate and pattern of violence, such as killings; rapes; abductions; torture; looting; burning of villages, market places, and farms; and attacks on IDP camps, have increased such that they now occur on daily basis. This deteriorating situation was also quite aptly reflected statement made by the US Ambassador Nikki Haley during a UNSC briefing on Darfur (May 4, 2017) as well as in the press release issued by the U.N. Secretary General following that meeting."

The report goes on to document recent uses of chemical weapons, recent use of systematic rape as a weapon, and attacks on UNAMID by the Sudanese forces. Sudan Tribune and Nuba Reports

Brief generational history of the Darfur civil war in Sudan

About ten years ago, during the mid-2000s decade when much of the development of generational theory was going on, the Darfur war was of intense interest, because it was one of only two generational crisis wars going on in the world at the time, the other one being the war in Sri Lanka that climaxed in 2009.

The big picture, that I've described many times in Central African Republic, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, and even America in the 1800s, is that in country after country, there a classic and recurring battle between herders and farmers. 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.

Darfur's previous generational crisis war was World War II. During the Awakening era of the 1970s, conflicts between the farmers and herders began to appear, but at that time they could always be resolved by the tribal elders, who had vivid memories of the horrors of the previous war, and were dedicating their lives to making sure that it never happens again.

When a drought occurred in 1983-85, and there was a scramble for arable land, the incidents of conflicts increased, resulting in brief periods of violence.

By the 1990s, the government in Khartoum decided it needed a police force in Darfur, and that job was assigned to the Janjaweed militias. They were from herder tribes, but at that time they really were just performing police functions, and were not committing war crimes. In 2003, there were a couple of regeneracy events, and the low-level violence between dark-skinned farmer "Africans" and light-skinned herder "Arabs" turned into a full-scale generational crisis war.

The next few years were like a comic tragedy. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan recalled the Rwanda genocide of ten years earlier (1994) and vowed "Never again," calling for the United Nations and the world to take steps to avoid a repeat in Darfur. I wrote that in the Darfur genocide, the UN is completely irrelevant, and that the war would not end until it had run its course.

Another highlight of the time were a statement by Democratic senator Joe Biden who announced that he wanted to move the American troops from Iraq to the Darfur civil war. That was during President George Bush's "surge" into Iraq, which turned out to be successful. If we had listened to Biden, then American troops would have been embroiled in a disastrous war in Darfur.

Yet one more laughable highlight was the statement by the new UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who blamed the Darfur war on the United States because of global warming. His reasoning was that the war was caused by the weather, and the US was responsible for the weather.

Finally in August 2007, the United Nations voted to send peacekeepers to Darfur to stop the war.

Now I've explained generational theory many times in my articles, so I'm going to repeat some theory now. Generally speaking, wars never end except in one way: a generational crisis war ends with an crisis war climax, a series of genocidal acts so horrible that they traumatize both the perpetrators and the victims. Until that climax, there may be peace agreements that stop the war for a year or two, but it always resumes. When the climax occurs, the traumatized survivors then vow that nothing so horrible can ever happen again, and it doesn't -- until the survivors die off and a new generational crisis war can begin.

So there was never any chance that the United Nations was going to end the Darfur civil war, as I said repeatedly ten years ago, and it hasn't. As I've said, we've seen peacekeeping forces fail miserably in numerous countries, including Darfur, so it's not surprising that UNAMID is being cut almost in half. A smaller UNAMID will permit the government in Khartoum and the Janjaweed militias to complete their objective of massacres, systematic rapes, systematic torture, burning down villages, destroying crops, and so forth. Only when there's been enough mass bloodshed and horror will the Khartoum government and the Darfurians decide that the war has to stop.

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Jun-17 World View -- United Nations peacekeeping force in Darfur Sudan to be cut almost in half thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Jun-2017) Permanent Link
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15-Jun-17 World View -- Australia will pay $100K each to asylum seekers in Manus Island immigration camp

The Manus refugees' future is still undecided - except for those coming to the US

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Australia will pay $100K each to asylum seekers in Manus Island immigration camp


Manus Island detention center in Papua New Guinea (AAP)
Manus Island detention center in Papua New Guinea (AAP)

In a major victory for activists supporting refugees and asylum seekers, Australia's governed settled a case by agreeing to pay refugees detained on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island up to AUS$150,000 (US $113,248) each. The total bill will be AUS$13.7 billion (US$ ), including AUS$20 million (US$ million) for the activist law firm that brought the class action suit on behalf of 1905 refugees being detained on Manus Island.

In 2013, Australia's prime minister Kevin Rudd announced that any asylum seeker who arrives by boat without a visa will have "no chance" of being resettled there as a refugee. Instead, they will be sent directly to neighboring Papua New Guinea and its Manus Island detention center. According to Rudd in 2013:

"From now on, any asylum-seeker who arrives in Australia by boat will have no chance of being settled in Australia as refugees. ... If they are found to be genuine refugees they will be resettled in Papua New Guinea — an emerging economy with a strong future, a robust democracy which is also a signatory to the United Nations refugees convention."

There was a similar agreement with the island nation of Nauru. The United Nations and pro-refugee activists have condemned the refugee camps, saying that under international law, valid asylum seekers should be resettled on Australian soil. Australian leaders responded that this was the most effective way to save refugees' lives, by discouraging them from taking a dangerous trip to Australia by boat.

The policy has accomplished its objective. There had previously been tens of thousands of "boat people" per year arriving in Australia from Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and other southeast Asian nations. This number has been reduced significantly.

However, the policy has been extremely controversial, and opposed by pro-refugee activists. The government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) was paid by Australia for the costs of detaining the refugees, but there have been numerous stories of beatings, torture, and sexual abuse at the detention centers.

A major blow to the Manus Island policy came last year, when PNG's Supreme Court dropped a bombshell, ruling that Australia's refugee detention center on PNG's Manus Island is inhumane, and must be shut down. The result is that the Manus detention center is scheduled to be shut down in October.

Now, the Australian government has been forced to a large settlement with the Manus Island refugees. The settlement has roiled Australian politics.

The Refugee Council of Australia says:

"Today should be the final nail in the coffin of Australia’s abusive warehousing of people who came to us seeking safety. This class action settlement provides an opportunity for our government to put an end to the destruction of so many people’s lives, to the damage it does to Australia’s international reputation and to the blank check our government uses to fund offshore detention."

However, other activists are furious that the settlement wasn't a lot larger, or that the case was settled at all, without a court trial. The Refugee Action Coalition said:

"It’s not sufficient to compensate people for what they’ve been through. It would have been far better for the public to have heard the evidence from people on Manus Island, to see the thousands of pages of evidence of documents that reveal the scale of the mistreatment."

Australia's Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, who was responsible for reaching the settlement agreement, said that a six-month court trial would have cost tens of millions of dollars in legal bill, and that there was no admission of liability:

"Settlement is not an admission of liability in any regard.

The commonwealth strongly refutes and denies the claims made in these proceedings.

Labor [the previous government] imposed this cost on Australians when it handed control of the nation’s borders to criminal people-smuggling syndicates."

Dutton blamed the mess on the previous Labor government, and on the "ambulance-chasing lawyers" in the Slater & Gordon law firm. Guardian (London) and Peter Dutton's statement and Special Broadcasting Service (Australia)

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The Manus refugees' future is still undecided - except for those coming to the US

It seems pretty certain that the whole project of offshore detention centers is now dead for good. According to Amnesty International:

"While the compensation deal is important, it does not remedy the injustices visited upon the refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island or change their present circumstances. The Australian government must finally face up to the inescapable reality that their offshore detention policies are unsustainable and bring all of the people trapped by them to safety in Australia.

This settlement is a long overdue but welcome recognition of the harm that refugees and people seeking asylum have endured on Manus Island. Now, the Australian government must dismantle its illegal offshore detention centre and safely resettle these people."

However, the question of how they will be resettled remains to be determined.

We do know where 1,205 of the refugees are going to be resettled -- they're coming to the United States. In November of last year, President Barack Obama and Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull signed an agreement to allow 1,250 refugees being held in the offshore detention centers to be resettled in the United States.

Early in February, President Donald Trump called it "the worst deal ever," but promised to honor the deal because he was bound by agreements made by the previous administration. He confirmed that the US will take in up to 1,250 of these refugees, after subjecting each of them to "extreme vetting." An interesting wrinkle to the agreement is that Turnbull and Obama also agreed that Australia would help the United States deal with its refugee problem by taking refugees from Costa Rica and resettling them in Australia.

With the forced closure of the detention centers, Australia must find a way to deal with the thousands of refugees still in the offshore detention centers. In addition, the collapse of the offshore detention center system will undoubtedly encourage a new flood of boat people from other countries. The plan is to pay the refugees, and deport them and send them back to their home countries, but this will certainly be fought in the courts by pro-refugee activists. Amnesty International and CNN

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Jun-17 World View -- Australia will pay $100K each to asylum seekers in Manus Island immigration camp thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Jun-2017) Permanent Link
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14-Jun-17 World View -- In a major victory for China, Panama switches allegiance from Taiwan to China

Taiwan's harsh response signals increasing tension with China

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

In a major victory for China, Panama switches allegiance from Taiwan to China


Panama's vice president Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado meets China's vice president Li Yuanchao in Beijing on Tuesday (Xinhua)
Panama's vice president Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado meets China's vice president Li Yuanchao in Beijing on Tuesday (Xinhua)

China scored a new diplomatic victory over Taiwan on Tuesday, when Panama broke diplomatic relations with Taiwan and began diplomatic relations with China. China will not have diplomatic relations with any country that has diplomatic relations with Taiwan, and China uses its immense economic pressure to get its way.

A joint statement from China and Panama said:

"The Government of the Republic of Panama recognizes that only one China exists in the world, the Government of the People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government that represents all China, and Taiwan forms an inalienable part of Chinese territory."

This is a complete victory by China over Taiwan. Taiwanese officials were infuriated by what they saw as Panama's betrayal. Taiwan and Panama have had 105 years of diplomatic relations. In 2014, Taiwan's then-president Ma Ying-jeou visited Panama, and was assured by Panama's president Juan Carlos Varela that maintaining diplomatic relations with Taiwan is most beneficial to Panama, even though the trade volume between China and Panama was 22 times that between Taiwan and Panama.

In June of last year, Taiwan's new president Tsai Ing-wen visited Panama and Paraguay. Varela's wife, Panama's first lady Lorena Castillo de Varela, answering a question about whether Panama would break relations with Taiwan, said:

"Absolutely not. Our relationship with Taiwan has to be respected. First of all, when you have the trust and friendship, we value it very much. This is something that has been built for many, many years and you take care of that and you appreciate it and you keep it. Panama and Taiwan are like brothers and sisters."

Well, apparently Varela and his wife didn't appreciate it very much, in view of Tuesday's announcement. Shanghai Daily and China Post (Taiwan, 7-Oct-2014) and Latin American Herald Tribune and Formosa TV (22-May-2016)

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Taiwan's harsh response signals increasing tension with China

Something that I've been reporting on for over a decade is that China is losing a battle with time over reuniting Taiwan with China. In 2005, it was already clear from polls on the question "Do you feel Taiwanese, Chinese or both" that over a period of years, the number of people answering "Taiwanese" was increasing. The polls also show that it's the older people who feel "Chinese," and the younger people who feel "Taiwanese." This is a typical generational situation, where older generations who survived the last generational crisis war (Mao's Communist Revolution, 1934-49) were willing to compromise to prevent a new war, while the younger generations, with no personal memory of the war, are not willing to compromise.


From 2005: Taiwan poll results to question: 'Do you feel Taiwanese, Chinese or both?' (WSJ)
From 2005: Taiwan poll results to question: 'Do you feel Taiwanese, Chinese or both?' (WSJ)

A poll conducted in June of last year showed overwhelming support for independence from China. Unification was favored by only 18.4%, with 66.4% opposed. In the 20-29 age group, 72% supported independence.

The surge in support for independence resulted in an overwhelming and historic victory in the presidential election for Tsai Ing-wen, the leader of the Taiwan's pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), in January 2016. Since Tsai has taken office, relations between China and Taiwan have been increasingly hostile.

So after Tuesday's announcement that Panama breaking relations with Taiwan, Tsai was defiant:

"Taiwan is committed to preserving Cross-Strait peace, but China's move has impacted the status quo. We will not sit idle when our national interests are threatened. ...

Coercion and threats will not bring the two sides together. Instead they will drive our two peoples apart. On behalf of the 23 million people of Taiwan, I declare that we will never surrender to such intimidation. ...

Although we have lost a diplomatic ally, our refusal to engage in a diplomatic bidding war will not change. Our approach of not competing with Beijing’s ‘checkbook diplomacy’ will not change ...

We are a sovereign country. This sovereignty cannot be challenged nor traded. China has continued to manipulate the ‘one China' principle and pressure Taiwan's international space, threatening the rights of the Taiwanese people, but it remains undeniable that the Republic of China [Taiwan] is a sovereign country. This is a fact China will never be able to deny. ... We won't allow our sovereignty to be challenged or be exchanged for anything."

Now, this speech by Taiwan's current president brings us to China's "anti-secession law." This law, passed in 2005, requires China to invade Taiwan if Taiwan makes any move toward independence, whether by word or by deed.

So Tsai Ing-wen has refused to endorse the "One-China policy," also called the "1992 Consensus," which states that there is only one China, and leaves some ambiguity as to what that means. With Tsai rejecting the One-China Policy, and now stating that "We won't allow our sovereignty to be challenged or be exchanged for anything," it is arguably the case that Taiwan has already taken steps to trigger the anti-secession law.

Chinese officials must know that time is not on their side. They can also read the polls that say that as time goes on, more and more Taiwanese favor independence, and fewer and fewer Taiwanese favor unification. A war between China and Taiwan is 100% certain, and it will be at a time of China's choosing. Taipei Times and Washington Free Beacon and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)

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China expected to continue increasing diplomatic pressure on Taiwan

At some point, China will decide to take military action, as required by the anti-secession law. Until that time, China is expected to continue taking measures to isolate Taiwan diplomatically, even though such measures are counter-productive, in that they infuriate the Taiwanese people and increase the support for independence.

With the defection of Panama, there are only 20 countries left in the world that diplomatically recognize Taiwan:

Completely apart from the diplomatic issues, China's closer relations with Panama are an economic coup. China is the heaviest user of the Panama Canal, and China has invested heavily in Panama's largest port, Margarita Island, and is developing 1,200 hectares of land around the canal.

China is expected to target the 20 other countries, one by one. China has invested heavily in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, and they may following Panama soon. Jorge Guajardo, Mexico's former ambassador to China, tweeted: “Big question is, will Vatican ditch Taiwan for Beijing?” South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and Washington Post and Reuters and Foreign Policy

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Jun-17 World View -- In a major victory for China, Panama switches allegiance from Taiwan to China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Jun-2017) Permanent Link
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13-Jun-17 World View -- Qatar-Arab crisis is unlikely to be resolved soon

Differences between Qatar and Saudi Arabia run deep and will worsen

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Qatar-Arab crisis is unlikely to be resolved soon


Panic buying of groceries in Doha supermarket last week (Doha News)
Panic buying of groceries in Doha supermarket last week (Doha News)

Three weeks ago, President Donald Trump's harsh condemnation of Iran triggered a renewal of the years of vitriolic anger between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. A week ago, the anger turned into actions with Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries cutting ties and imposing a harsh economic blockade on Qatar. Today, positions appear to be hardening, and it seems very unlikely that the situation will be resolved soon.

Numerous countries have called for an end to the economic blockade. Trade is being affected in a number of countries. Qatar Airways has been blocked from using Saudi and UAE airspace, throwing airline schedules in the region into confusion. Britain, Germany, Turkey, Russia, Kuwait, Oman and others have encouraged diplomatic talks or offered to mediate. The United States administration called for Saudi Arabia to soften the blockade on humanitarian grounds, at the same time it called for Qatar to end funding of terrorist organizations.

Qatar's foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani was defiant, saying that Qatar is willing to negotiate an end to the impasse, but that no one can dictate its foreign policy, and that "no one has the right" to pressure Qatar to silence TV network al-Jazeera, which is based in Qatar's capital city Doha.

Since the split, additional Arab countries have joined the blockade against Qatar. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have cut relations with Qatar on the first day. Yemen, Mauritania, the Maldives and the Comoros Islands followed. Chad, Djibouti, Jordan and Niger downgraded relations without joining the blockade. Many of these countries receive financial aid from Saudi Arabia, and it's believed that they cut relations under financial pressure.

On the other hand, Eritrea on Friday refused to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar. It issued a statement saying that it had "strong ties with the brother people of Qatar," and it was "impossible to cut ties."

Iran has sent five cargo planes to Qatar, each carrying 90 tonnes of cargo, mostly fruit and vegetables. Three ships containing 350 tonnes of food items are also being sent to Qatar. Bloomberg and Anadolu and Deutsche Welle

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Differences between Qatar and Saudi Arabia run deep and will worsen

When al-Thani said, as quoted above, that Qatar was willing to negotiate, but that no one could dictate its foreign policy, and no one could pressure al-Jazeera, he was saying that Qatar would not negotiate on two major causes of the split.

Not dictating its foreign policy meant that Saudi Arabia could not tell Qatar how to handle its relations with Iran. While Saudi Arabia and Iran can never have been classified as friendly allies, at least they were able to tolerate each other for decades until recently.

However, in January 2016, the entire Shia world was shocked that Saudi Arabia executed well-known Shia cleric Mohammad Baqir Nimr al-Nimr on charges of terrorism, at the same time that they executed 46 alleged Sunni terrorists. They were furious that he was executed at all, and also that it implied that Shia terrorists were no different from Sunni terrorists.

In Tehran, protesters stormed the Saudi embassy, and burned it to the ground. There were violent Shia protests across the Mideast. As violent Shia protests spread, Saudi Arabia cuts diplomatic ties with Iran.

Relations between Saudi and Iran have gotten even more vitriolic since then, and the Saudis have adopted the attitude toward Qatar that "you're either with us or against us," meaning that the Saudis will not tolerate Qatar having friendly relations with Iran. So when al-Thani says that no one could dictate Qatar's foreign policy, he was rejecting any compromise on its relations with Iran.

Al-Jazeera is the powerful news network that supposedly presents an Arab view around the world. I've always watched al-Jazeera when I can, because it provides information and a point of view completely unavailable in the western media. People tell me that al-Jazeera is biased, and that's true, but they're no more biased than the NY Times or NBC News. Generational Dynamics analyses require that all points of view be incorporated, so al-Jazeera provides an important function a biased point of view from the Arab world.

As I've mentioned several times in the past, one form of al-Jazeera bias has always seemed surprising. Listening to al-Jazeera, it's clear that they hate Israel. But that's not surprising. One would expect al-Jazeera to hate Israel. But what I found surprising is that al-Jazeera also hates the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas. In fact, al-Jazeera seems to hate the Palestinian Authority more than it hates Israel. On the other hand, al-Jazeera loves Hamas, and has never referred to them as terrorists that I can recall.

So that bias toward Hamas tells a great deal about why Saudi Arabia hates al-Jazeera, which reflects the foreign policy of Qatar. Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is a conservative Sunni Muslim ideology which is in competition with Saudi Arabia's Salafist Wahhabi conservative Sunni Muslim ideology. Just as Saudi Arabia and Iran have tolerated each other for decades and gotten along until recently, the Muslim Brotherhood and Wahhabi ideologies have tolerated each and gotten along until recently.

But now, Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood ideology is becoming intolerable to Saudi Arabia, just like Qatar's friendly relationship with Iran. This is the kind of thing that typically occurs in a generational Crisis era.

Last week, Germany foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel warned this new crisis could lead to war, and that "a deep dispute between neighbors is the last thing that is needed" in the Mideast.

Whether Gabriel likes it or not, a "deep dispute" is what it is, and it's going to get worse.

As I've written many times, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, Jews versus Arabs, and various ethnic groups against each other. With appropriate generational research and analysis, the split between the Wahhabis and the Muslim Brotherhood can be used to determine which ethnic groups will be fighting each other. I certainly don't have anything like the resources to perform such an analysis by myself, but any college student interested in this kind of analysis could make an invaluable contribution to understanding what's going on in the world today by taking on, as a thesis topic, a generational analysis of the tribes and ethnic groups in the Mideast. AP and Deutsche Welle (7-June) and Gulf News (10-June) and AP

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Jun-17 World View -- Qatar-Arab crisis is unlikely to be resolved soon thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Jun-2017) Permanent Link
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12-Jun-17 World View -- Sri Lanka targets radical nationalist Buddhists in Bodu Bala Sena (BBS)

Brief generational history of Sri Lanka and Bodu Bala Sena (BBS)

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Sri Lanka targets radical nationalist Buddhists in Bodu Bala Sena (BBS)


Buddhist monk Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara sought by police for hate crimes and inciting violence against Muslims (AFP)
Buddhist monk Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara sought by police for hate crimes and inciting violence against Muslims (AFP)

Police in Colombo, the capital city of Sri Lanka, on Sunday arrested five people for instigating religious violence that has led to a series of violent attacks on Muslims since April. Four of the people were Buddhists instigating violence against Muslims, while the fifth was a Muslim accused of defaming Buddhism.

More than 20 hate crime attacks on Muslims have been recorded since April 17, including arson at Muslim-owned businesses and petrol-bomb attacks on mosques. The attacks are being blamed on a radical nationalist Buddhist organization, Bodu Bala Sena (BBS - Forces of Buddhist Power) that has been conducting violent attacks on Muslim targets since 2014.

However, only one of the five arrested men is connected to BBS, an unidentified 32-year-old man directly linked to at least four arson attacks in a Colombo suburb. The Colombo police are being heavily criticized because they've been unable or unwilling to arrest the BBS leader, the Buddhist monk Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara, and many people believe that the Buddhist Sinhalese government is protecting Gnanasara, despite his connection to violence against Muslims.

The violence by Buddhist against Muslims in Sri Lanka has not yet reached the level of mass slaughter, mass torture, and mass rapes being committed by Buddhists, led by Buddhist monk Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu, against Muslim Rohingyas in Myanmar (Burma). Perhaps the two Buddhist monks, Gnanasara and Wirathu, are in some kind of bloody contest with each other to see who can be responsible for the most atrocities. Reuters and AFP

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Brief generational history of Sri Lanka and Bodu Bala Sena (BBS)

For 30 years, Sri Lanka's entire society has been dominated by the Sri Lankan civil war between the ethnic majority (Buddhist) Sinhalese and the ethnic minority (Hindu) Tamils. This civil war climaxed in May 2009, following reports of genocide on both sides, when the separatist Tamil Tigers surrendered and renounced further violence, ending the Sri Lanka crisis civil war.

Every generational crisis civil war follows the same general pattern. The war climaxes and ends with genocidal acts on both sides that are so horrible that the traumatized survivors vow to do everything possible to prevent it from happening again. And they succeed, and a new civil war only begins decades later when the survivors finally die off. But during those decades, younger generations, with no personal memories of the horrors of the war, come of age and begin protests that sometimes become violent.

The protests start to become widespread during the generational Awakening era, which begins about 15-18 years after the climax of the crisis war, and is characterized by protests, sometimes violent, by college students.

Although it's only been 8 years since the climax of the Sri Lanka civil war, we're beginning to see the first signs of the violence that will become widespread in a few years. However, in this case, there's a twist.

The Sri Lankan civil war was fought between the Buddhist Sinhalese and the Hindu Tamils. The small Muslim community wasn't really involved, and according to some reports, they thrived and prospered during the war, while the other two groups were out killing each other.

The Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) or "Buddhist Power Force" group was formed in 2012 to purify Sri Lanka for the Buddhists by exterminating the Christians, Hindus and Muslims. However, they've been particularly focusing on Muslims.

The leader of BBS is the Buddhist monk Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara. In 2014, a video showed Gnanasara delivering an explosive hate speech to large crowds of Buddhists, full of vicious rhetoric. He pointed out that the Sri Lankan police and army are Sinhalese, and therefore are on the side of the Sinhalese, and he screams explicit threats to Muslims, including using derogatory language. To roars of approval from the crowd, he vows that if any Muslim, were to lay a hand on a Sinhalese, that would "be the end" of all of them.

Gnanasara's speech triggered a sectarian bloodbath in the town of Aluthgama. Shortly after the speech, Buddhist mobs marched through Muslim neighborhoods, ransacking dozens of homes and shops. Three Muslim men were killed, and sixteen seriously injured in the two nights of violence that followed.

Despite his incitement to riot, Gnanasara claims that he and the BBS had nothing to do with the Aluthgama bloodbath. Now there have been at least sixteen major incidents since April 17 of this year. Once again, Gnanasara claims that he and the BBS have nothing to do with them. Nonetheless, Gnanasara remains in hiding, and the police are either unable or unwilling to arrest him. Daily Mirror (Colombo) and CNN (17-July-2014) and LankaWeb and The Island (Sri Lanka)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Jun-17 World View -- Sri Lanka targets radical nationalist Buddhists in Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Jun-2017) Permanent Link
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11-Jun-17 World View -- US forces join Philippines forces fighting Abu Sayyaf and Maute Islamist terrorists

History of Abu Sayyaf and Maute Group in the Philippines

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

US special forces join Philippine military fighting Islamist terrorists in Marawi


Fire rages at several houses following airstrikes by Philippine Air Force bombers on May 27 (AP)
Fire rages at several houses following airstrikes by Philippine Air Force bombers on May 27 (AP)

US special forces are providing assistance to Philippine troops fighting the radical Islamist Maute rebel group in the southern city of Marawi. The help comes after a growing crisis in Marawi, on the island of Mindanao, and one day after the bloodiest day of battle so far, when 30 Philippine soldiers were killed and 40 wounded on Friday in a 14-hour battle. Dozens more soldiers were killed on Saturday, as fighting continued.

The drama began on Tuesday May 23 with a botched operation in Marawi City by the Philippine armed forces to capture terrorist leader Isnilon Hapilon, the leader of the Islamist terror group Abu Sayyaf, which has recently pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

Instead of quickly capturing Hapilon, the soldiers were caught completely by surprise when they were met by dozens of terrorists in the Maute terror group, who were backed up by foreign fighters from Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. The army now believes that it unwittingly interrupted a plan by the Maute group to take over the city and sack it.

At first, president Rodrigo R. Duterte said that the operation would be concluded quickly, and that there was no ISIS involvement. On Wednesday, the next day, Duterte declared martial law, saying that the island of Mindanao was under attack by ISIS. The army sent in reinforcements, as thousands of residents of Marawi fled from the city. On Wednesday morning, the army said that no airstrikes would be required. However, airstrikes began on Wednesday afternoon.

As the days went by, Duterte declared one deadline after another to recapture Marawi, and so far none of those deadlines has been met.

In the attack, some 500 militants seized large parts of the city while burning buildings, cutting power and communications lines and taking hostages. The fighting has so far left dozens of security forces, 20 civilians and hundreds of militant fighters dead. The Maute militants still control parts of the central city and have as many as 2,000 hostages, according to the Philippine military.

There is currently house to house fighting going on. Air strikes have flattened the city. The former city of 200,000 has been virtually emptied, although many people are trapped with no food or water. Duterte's next deadline for recapture of the city is Monday, June 12.

American special forces troops are not taking part in the ground fighting. They are providing intelligence and logistics support to the Philippine army. Inquirer (Philippines) and Rappler (Philippines) and USA Today and ABS-CBN (Philippines, 25-May) and AFP

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History of Abu Sayyaf and Maute Group in the Philippines

A year ago, Philippines president Rodrigo R. Duterte said he wanted nothing more to do with the United States, and that he would henceforth work with China. I wrote at the time that this vow would never last because the Philippine people would not let it. The United States has about a 90% favorability rating, while China has more like a 50% favorability rating. Duterte has had to back off from his vow time after time, and now with the growing Islamist insurgency, he's decided that he needs American troops after all, at least in an advisory capacity.

The radical Islamist Abu Sayyaf Group was founded in 1991 and named after a mujahideen commander in Afghanistan. It pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. US forces were deployed to the area in 2002 to help the Philippines military deal with Abu Sayyaf, although the terror group continued. It became known for a series of kidnappings of foreigners for ransom and for beheading their captives.

In 2014, the group split into rival factions over the decision of its leader Isnilon Hapilon to terminate its allegiance to al-Qaeda, and to swear allegiance to ISIS.

The Maute Group was formed in 2012 by Abdullah Maute (aka Abu Hasan) and his brother Omar Maute. They began terror acts in 2013, and began a relationship with Abu Sayyaf in 2015. Today, Abu Sayyaf and the Mautes have a geographic reach that jihadist groups never had before.

Today, Abu Sayyaf and the Maute group are able to recruit new fighters from the entire region -- not just the Philippines, but in the large Muslim populations in Indonesia and Malaysia.

Furthermore, hundreds of jihadists fighters from the region have gone to Syria to fight Syria's president Bashar al-Assad for his genocidal acts towards Syria's Sunni population. With ISIS seemingly near defeat in Syria's Raqqa and Iraq's Mosul, it's believed that many of these fighters will return to the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia, and that terrorist actions are going to grow significantly.

The army has claimed that the Maute brothers were killed on Friday in an airstrike, but this has yet to be confirmed. Reuters and BBC (31-May) and Philippine Star (29-May)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Jun-17 World View -- US forces join Philippines forces fighting Abu Sayyaf and Maute Islamist terrorists thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Jun-2017) Permanent Link
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10-Jun-17 World View -- Execution of two of China's citizens in Pakistan raises concerns about CPEC

Execution of Chinese citizens blamed on Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ)

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Two Chinese citizens in Pakistan executed ten days after being abducted


Pictures of Chinese couple that were executed by LeJA in Pakistan on Thursday, after being kidnapped on May 24
Pictures of Chinese couple that were executed by LeJA in Pakistan on Thursday, after being kidnapped on May 24

With thousands of workers and families from China pouring into Pakistan to work on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), security for the Chinese communities is becoming an increasing concern.

On May 24, gunmen dressed as police stopped a car containing two Chinese nationals, a man and a woman, who were teaching Mandarin at a private language school in Quetta, the capital of Pakistan's restive Balochistan province. At the same time, they were studying the Urdu language at the school.

On Friday, a press release issued by the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) stated that the two Chinese citizens had been executed. The group also released a video, which showed two bodies shot and bleeding on some grassy ground.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in Beijing, "Pakistan pays great attention to the protection of Chinese citizens in the institutions there and made great efforts for their security."

Hua insisted that the abduction and killings were unrelated to CPEC. Nonetheless, following the abduction, 11 Chinese nationals living in the town where the abduction occurred were flown to Karachi, and then back to China.

Pakistani media have been ordered not to report on the killings of the Chinese citizens, saying that such reports would be "disrespectful" to the Chinese. But some have evaded the rules by republishing stories from international news wires. Newsweek Pakistan / AFP and Express Tribune - Pakistan / Reuters and Dawn (Pakistan, 3-Jun) and Hindustan Times

Execution of Chinese citizens blamed on Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ)

The kidnapping and execution of the two Chinese nationals was claimed by ISIS, but as usual ISIS is taking credit for something it had nothing to do with. As ISIS gets closer and closer to defeat in Iraq and Syria, putting out press releases taking credit for attacks around the world seems to be the only thing left it can do.

There's little doubt that the perpetrators the Al Alami offshoot of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJA), which has sworn allegiance to ISIS. LeJ is a terror group that has vowed to exterminate all Shias in Pakistan, and has carried out numerous terrorist actions targeting Shias and Sufis. In November, LeJA attacked a police training facility in Quetta, killing 61 people, mostly fresh police recruits.

The bad news for China is that LeJ, through its offshoot LeJA, is now apparently turning its attention from slaughtering Shias and Sufis to the slaughter of thousands of Chinese workers and families who have come to Balochistan to work on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Since the May 24 abduction, Pakistani and Chinese authorities had been trying to rescue the hostages. On Thursday, Pakistan's military released details of an operation that took place from June 1-3 in a remote cave system in Mastung, a town north of Quetta. According to the army, the operation killed 12 "hardcore terrorists, including two suicide bombers." Pakistani authorities confirmed that the killed terrorists belonged to LeJA, and said "The operation, carried out from June 1 to 3, successfully denied the establishment of any direct or indirect IS-organized infrastructure in Pakistan."

The Pakistani security forces destroyed an explosives facility inside a cave and recovered a cache of arms and ammunition, including 50 kilograms of explosives, three suicide jackets, 18 grenades, six rocket launchers, four light machine guns,18 small machine guns, four sniper rifles, 38 communication sets and ammunition of various types.

During the Mastung operation, the vehicle used in the kidnapping of the Chinese citizens was found, but not the Chinese citizens themselves.

Several hours after the details of the Mastung operation were released, the ISIS announcement of the death of the two Chinese appeared. Dawn (Pakistan, 8-Jun) and CNN and Dawn (Pakistan)

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Concerns grow about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

Over 10-20 years, at a cost of $46 billion, CPEC will supposedly build a network of roads, railways and energy pipelines aiming to connect western Chinese cities, starting from China's easternmost city Kashgar in Xinjiang province, to the sea port in Gwadar on the Indian Ocean in Balochistan province in southern Pakistan. It will have both economic and military components. Power generation, transport, commerce, R&D and the defense of Pakistan all will be increasingly tied to Chinese investment, supplies and interests.

Balochistan is Pakistan's largest province, but it's claimed by its population, mostly from the Baloch ethnic group, is marginalized and economically disfavored. The Baloch ethnic group has been opposed to CPEC from the beginning. Balochs are opposed because the project will result in an inflow of more than 600,000 Chinese people -- Chinese workers and their families -- diluting that Baloch population. Baloch activists claim that whatever economic benefits the CPEC project will bring to Pakistan, most of the benefits will go to the favored Punjab province. The CPEC project will use up all of Balochistan's natural resources, and the Baloch people will get nothing from it.

It's not just Balochs who are opposing it. According to S. Akbar Zaidi, a leading Pakistani economist, is warning that "Another East India Company is in the offing." The East India Company was a British business organization that used economic power to effectively colonize the Indian subcontinent for centuries.

According to Zaidi, Pakistan is prostrating itself to China:

"From the influence of American imperialism for most of its existence, Pakistan gave way to Saudi intrusion in domestic, cultural and social affairs, and now has prostrated itself in front of Chinese imperial designs. ...

Pakistan’s obsession with China and CPEC bodes ill for any sort of rapprochement between India and Pakistan unless, of course, only if the Chinese initiate such moves, and if it fits into their grand design in the region. With China taking over Pakistan, providing it with undisclosed amount of investments, any argument of increasing trade and economic cooperation between India and Pakistan lose all urgency. When you have China, who needs India?"

The execution of the two Chinese citizens is raising security concerns among the Chinese as well.

Navy vessels from the People’s Liberation Army have been providing security escorts to Chinese commercial vessels since November, when they began docking at Pakistan's Gwadar port, which is the southern end of the CPEC infrastructure. In the future, the port will house a detachment of PLA marines, making it China’s second overseas military base after Djibouti. Hindustan Times and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Jun-17 World View -- Execution of two of China's citizens in Pakistan raises concerns about CPEC thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Jun-2017) Permanent Link
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9-Jun-17 World View -- US and Iran headed for military confrontation in Deir az-Zour in eastern Syria

US warplanes strike Iran-backed pro-Syrian forces twice on Thursday

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

US warplanes strike Iran-backed pro-Syrian forces twice on Thursday


American-backed forces, Iran-backed forces and ISIS are all headed for a military confrontation in Deir az-Zour (Debka)
American-backed forces, Iran-backed forces and ISIS are all headed for a military confrontation in Deir az-Zour (Debka)

US warplanes struck Iran-backed pro-Syrian forces twice on Thursday, making those the second and third such strikes in the last month. According to the military, all three of the strikes were for the protection of American and coalition forces stationed in the al-Tanf base, on Route 1 on the border between Iraq and Syria.

On Thursday, coalition warplanes destroyed two armed pro-regime vehicles that were traveling toward the al-Tanf base. They were inside a "de-confliction zone," as specified by an agreement between Russia and the US to keep potentially hostile forces separated in Syria.

Later on Thursday, a US aircraft shot down an armed pro-Syrian unmanned drone that had dropped munitions in a region occupied by American and coalition personnel. The munitions did not cause any casualties.

US Army spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon said in a statement on Thursday:

"The pro-regime UAV, similar in size to a U.S. MQ-1 Predator, was shot down by a U.S. aircraft after it dropped one of several weapons it was carrying near a position occupied by Coalition personnel who are training and advising partner ground forces in the fight against ISIS.

The shoot down follows an earlier engagement in the day in which Coalition forces destroyed two pro-regime armed technical vehicles that advanced toward Coalition forces at At-Tanf inside the established de-confliction zone threatening Coalition and partner forces.

The Coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime, Russian or pro-regime forces partnered with them. The demonstrated hostile intent and actions of pro-regime forces near Coalition and partner forces in southern Syria, however, continue to concern us and the Coalition will take appropriate measures to protect our forces."

There's already been one deadly confrontation, as we reported in May. A pro-Syrian regime convoy was headed in the direction of the al-Tanf camp. US warplanes were scrambled in a "show of force" to dissuade the convoy from proceeding further. That show of force was only partially successful, as five of the vehicles continued approaching the base. In response, American warplanes launched a series of airstrikes against the military convoy, destroying all the vehicles. CNN and Military.com and ARA News (Syria Kurds)

US and Iran headed for military confrontation in Deir az-Zour in eastern Syria

There are numerous different forces operating in Syria and Iraq -- Americans, Turks, Kurds, Syrians, Iranians, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). As we've been saying for months, all of these forces (except ISIS) have been united only in that they were all nominally fighting against ISIS, albeit with a variety of hidden and conflicting objectives. Now that that the defeat of ISIS in Raqqa in Syria and in Mosul in Iraq appears to be increasingly imminent, all of these different forces will have no one to shoot at except each other.

The main military objective of Iran and the Syrian regime is to have complete control of a route, such as Route 1, between Baghdad and Damascus, so that Iran can easily transfer fighters and weapons into Syria, where they can be used against Sunnis, or handed off to Hezbollah for attacks on Israel. The US is opposed to allowing this route to be open.

As ISIS is forced to cede territory, different forces compete to control that territory, and it appears that the next major confrontation will be over the oil-rich region surrounding Deir az-Zour, the largest urban center in eastern Syria. ISIS has moved fighters fleeing from Mosul and Raqqa into Deir az-Zour, making the battle for this city likely to be as bloody as the battles for Mosul and Raqqa. A US-backed coalition of rebel groups are moving in, as are Syrian and Iran-backed forces, from different directions.

[Note: If you read the media reports, you'll find the name of this city in English spelled in a large variety of ways: Deir az-Zour = Deir Ezzor = Deir al-Zour = Deir ez-Zor = Deir Azzour]

Some reports indicate that the US has set up a forward base at al-Zukf (or al-Zkuf), 70 km northeast of the al-Tanf base. The goal is to be in position to support its coalition of rebel groups in their battle against ISIS in Deir az-Zour. There are already been clashes between these groups and Iran-backed forces. Washington Post and Global Research and Debka

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Jun-17 World View -- US and Iran headed for military confrontation in Deir az-Zour in eastern Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Jun-2017) Permanent Link
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8-Jun-17 World View -- Turkey approves troop deployment to Qatar after split with Saudi Arabia

Iran says Tehran terror attack was by Iranian nationals in ISIS

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iran says Tehran terror attack was by Iranian nationals in ISIS


 Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's mausoleum was one of the targets of Wednesday's terror attack
Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's mausoleum was one of the targets of Wednesday's terror attack

Iran is vowing quick revenge for a pair of terror attacks that struck Tehran on Wednesday morning.

First, four gunmen, some dressed as women, burst into Iran's parliament on Wednesday morning, armed with grenades and explosive vests. 12 people were killed after two vests had been detonated. After a five hour standoff, the four attackers were killed by police.

A second, almost simultaneous and highly symbolic attack occurred a few miles away, when a suicide bomber exploded his vest near the mausoleum of Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who was the founder of Iran's Islamic Republic after leading the 1979 revolution. One person was killed, another wounded.

Five people believed to be planning a third attack were arrested.

The so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) claimed credit for the terror acts, and backed up their claim during the attack by posting video from inside the parliament building. Iran later confirmed the claim, by saying that all the attackers were Iranian nationals who had joined ISIS.

This attack will act as a huge shock to Iranians, who imagined that they were somehow immune from the jihadist attacks that affect other countries in the region. ISIS and al-Qaeda had not been very successful in Iran because it's a mostly Shia Muslim country, making it difficult for the Sunni jihadist groups to recruit suicide bombers. However, there is a small community of Sunni Muslims in Iran, and it appears that ISIS has been able to infiltrate that group.

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) blamed the attack on Saudi Arabia and America:

"World public opinion, especially in Iran, sees the fact that this terrorist act was perpetrated soon after the meeting of the US president with the heads of one of the reactionary regional states that has always supported ... terrorists as to be very meaningful."

Iranian officials point out that hours before the attack, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir said that Iran must be punished for alleged interference in the region and support for terrorist organizations.

The Saudis are likely to be infuriated by the implication that they were involved, and the terror attack is likely to worsen the already high tensions in the Gulf region, as well as the vitriolic statements that Iran and Saudi Arabia make about each other.

A statement by US president Donald Trump carried a mixed message, expressing sympathy for the victims but suggesting that Iran itself was to blame:

"We grieve and pray for the innocent victims of the terrorist attacks in Iran, and for the Iranian people, who are going through such challenging times. We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote."

BBC and CNN and Fars News (Tehran) and AP

Turkey approves troop deployment to Qatar after split with Saudi Arabia

Qatar continues to suffer economic isolation since Monday, when Saudi Arabia broke diplomatic relations with Qatar, closed Qatar's only land border, and closed Saudi airspace to planes from Qatar. Bahrain, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and other Arab countries followed Saudi Arabia's lead.

However, Turkey is strongly supporting Qatar, and criticizing the Saudi-led effort to isolate Qatar. Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey will do everything in its power to help end the crisis.

On Wednesday, Turkey's parliament fast-tracked a bill to deploy up to 3,000 troops to Qatar. The troops will be stationed at a Turkish military base in Qatar that was originally set up in 2014, during the last period of time when Saudi Arabia had broken diplomatic relations with Qatar.

Although Turkey denies that the plans for a troop deployment are related to Qatar's split with Saudi Arabia, some analysts suggest that the purpose of the planned troop deployment was to help forestall a possible coup attempt in Qatar provoked by the Saudi government. Daily Sabah (Turkey) and Al Jazeera (Qatar)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Jun-17 World View -- Turkey approves troop deployment to Qatar after split with Saudi Arabia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Jun-2017) Permanent Link
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7-Jun-17 World View -- How to stop lone wolf attacks in London and Manchester

Qatar crisis triggered by $1 billion ransom payment to Iran and al-Qaeda

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Qatar crisis triggered by $1 billion ransom payment to Iran and al-Qaeda


The 26 men from the Qatari hunting party that were kidnapped in December 2015 and returned in April 2017 for a $1 billion random payment
The 26 men from the Qatari hunting party that were kidnapped in December 2015 and returned in April 2017 for a $1 billion random payment

We've been reporting on the growing Mideast crisis, with numerous Arab nations, led by Saudi Arabia, breaking diplomatic relations with Qatar, and imposing harsh commercial sanctions that threaten Qatar's economy. It's been widely reported that the crisis was triggered by President Donald Trump's recent visit to Saudi Arabia, but new reports indicate that the reason was completely different.

It seems that in April, Qatar paid $700 million to Iran and Shia militias supported by the Syrian regime. Furthermore, up to $300 million more was paid to the al-Qaeda linked group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS, Liberation of the Levant Organization). The ransom was paid to gain the freedom of 26 people in a hunting party that included members of the Qatari royal family, who had been kidnapped in southern Iraq in December 2015. The Saudis only learned of the ransom payment in the last couple of weeks.

HTS is the latest name change for what was originally called Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front) when it was officially the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda. Then, in July 2016, Jabhat al-Nusra announced that it was splitting with al-Qaeda, and was changing its name to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS, Front for the Conquest of Syria). The reason given was that the group wanted to create an alliance with "moderate" militias fighting against Bashar al-Assad, but could not do so because none of them wanted to be linked to al-Qaeda. Then, in January of this year, JFS did merge with four other militias, and called itself Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, or HTS.

An unnamed official is quoted as saying:

"So, if you add that up [the $300 million paid to HTS] to the other $700 million they paid to Iran and its proxies, that means Qatar actually spent about a billion dollars on this crazy deal."

Well, this "crazy deal" was apparently the last straw for the Saudi authorities, because it confirmed all the claims that Qatar was funding al-Qaeda and Iranian extremism, although not in the way that it had been reported. The Saudis were so furious, they initiated the diplomatic break.

Many in the mainstream media have said that the Trump visit "caused" the split by "emboldening" the Saudis. That concept never made sense to me. I said that Trump's visit "triggered" the split, meaning that the forces were in place for the split to occur sooner or later, when the time was write.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is an important distinction. Journalists like to take the easy road of saying that politicians, especially the US president, cause all the events that happen in the world. But the things that I write about are caused by generational pressures that build up over years and decades, and politicians have nothing to do with them, except perhaps to trigger an event that was going to happen anyway.

So now president Trump believes that he's going to bring an end to Islamist terrorism, and he's going to bring peace to the Israelis and the Palestinians. I'm going to respond in pretty much the same way that I responded to President Bush's "Mideast Roadmap to Peace" in May 2003. Just as Islamist terrorism is going to continue and grow, Jews and Arabs are going to refight the bloody war that occurred in 1948 with the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. The generational pressures have been building to this war for decades, as if a huge tsunami was launched in 1948 and is just about to reach shore. And the war cannot be stopped by a politician any more that you can stop the tsunami with a bucket. Times of Israel and Daily Mail (London)

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How to stop lone wolf attacks in London and Manchester

Mr. Nazir Afzal was Chief Crown Prosecutor of the Crown Prosecution Service for North West England from 2011–15. A Muslim himself, his tenure was controversial because he vigorously prosecuted Muslim who had committed crimes, and he was critical of the Muslim community for not taking responsibility for stopping jihadist attacks.

He was interviewed on the BBC World Service on the question of what authorities should do to prevent lone wolf attacks, after the recent terror attacks in London and Manchester.

Afzal is highly critical of the political correctness that causes far too much tolerance of extremism in the United Kingdom (my transcription):

"People have been treading very carefully around issues. We've mentioned before, talked about honor killings, talked about grooming gangs, these are things I've prosecuted in my career over the last quarter century.

And sadly they invariably involve the minority communities, predominately, and they also predominately involve the Muslim community.

On each occasion, much of the reason why things weren't being processed, or justice wasn't being delivered effectively, was because people were thinking it was too difficult, or there were perhaps understandable concerns about being seen as racist or religiously discriminatory in some way, shape or form."

The question being discussed is why young Muslims are being radicalized, or turned into extremists who may one day conduct terror attacks. Afzal said that his own Muslim beliefs are highly personal, and he contrasted his Muslim beliefs to those of the jihadists:

"Islamists believe that they should be able to impose their version [of Islam] on everybody else, and much of that sadly is either preachers who are from abroad, and who are able to carry on proselytizing this kind of thing. Or online."

Afzal's point is that if a young person is being exposed to this kind of jihadist proselytizing over the internet, then there's no way for authorities to get ahead of the problem and prevent radicalization, since there's no way to stop someone from absorbing these ideas over the internet from the privacy of his bedroom.

So then what should authorities do to prevent the radicalization of Muslim youth? Who in the community should the authorities be talking to? Afzal says that the authorities are talking to the wrong people.

"The lazy thing the government does - and by this I mean local government, national government, and anybody in authority - policing you name it - hospitals - anybody - they go to the usual suspects, and they are invariably what is commonly called 'the community leader.'

Now I can assure you that we [Muslims] don't have community leaders. The majority of Muslims in the UK are under 25, they're female, and they're from relatively low income backgrounds. But these community leaders are invariably male, middle class, professionals, maybe over 40 or 50. And so when you talk to young people, and I've been doing a lot of that, they say, they don't have a voice. They say that nobody listens to them. They say that the people you -- you as in the state -- are listening to have no sense of what needs to happen."

According to Afzal, authorities should be supporting and talking to Muslim women's groups, because these groups live in the communities, they know the families, and they know which children are likely to become radicalized:

"To answer your second question, who should they be talking to, yes, they should be talking to those voices that don't have one. And the people who are doing the work. My experience is, and i've worked with dozens of women's groups around the country -- Muslim women's groups around the UK -- they're doing to phenomenal work. They already have access to families, they're already trusted in those communities. Once they identify somebody within a family, for example, who might be at risk of radicalization or extremism or any other vulnerability, they insure that they're given levels of support which protect not just that child, but protect the rest of us. And they are doing this on a shoestring. ...

[The] signs are only indicators. You don't know until you've actually spoken to somebody whether they are being radicalized or not. You have to understand that so many people in this UK, and elsewhere I imagine, are having some kind of identity crisis. Many many others are suddenly falling into drugs. We have a significant problem in the UK with Muslim communities and drugs. You know, time and time again, I've tried to get major Muslim representative bodies to talk about issues like Muslims in prison, and women Muslims in prison. And they rarely ever do -- I can't think of any example actually where they've talked about it. There's a charity for example, Muslim women in Prison, and that charity is close to closing. and that tells me that we have our priorities wrong."

This story about lone wolf attacks in Britain is paired with the preceding story about the Qatar split because from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, they both make the same point: That people in authority, whether politicians or "community leaders," are not really controlling major events. Events are determined by masses of people, entire generations of people. In the Mideast, it's the rise in popularity of the Muslim Brotherhood. In Britain, it's the rise of a new generation of young people, 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants from Muslim countries.

Back in 2005, when the 7/7 London subway bombings occurred, I was always struck by the immense sadness of the parents of the kids who had perpetrated the bombings. They had no idea what their kids were planning. One Muslim man said that he was worried about the attitudes of his own children. "The bombers were just like us. And if they're just like us, then more of them could be anywhere, couldn't they?"

One of the bombers was 22-year-old Shehzad Tanweer. Months later, his father, Mohammed Mumtaz Tanweer, spoke out for the first time:

"All the bombings and killings were awful. Only the group of four [bombers] or God alone knows why they carried out this terrible act." He added: "As far as I can understand, my son was more British in his orientation than anything else. He has planned his career in sport. Even on the night before he died, he was playing cricket."

One can barely imagine the immense sadness of a parent whose child commits suicide carrying out one of these heinous acts. I don't know if Nazir Afzal's suggestion of working with Muslim women's groups would work, but it makes enough sense that it's worth a try. Daily Mail (London)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Jun-17 World View -- How to stop lone wolf attacks in London and Manchester thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Jun-2017) Permanent Link
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6-Jun-17 World View -- Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations cut ties with Qatar in new Mideast crisis

Arab nations' split caused by Qatar's relations with Muslim Brotherhood and Iran

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations cut ties with Qatar in new Mideast crisis


Doha, Qatar, skyline
Doha, Qatar, skyline

As I reported two weeks ago, years of bitter relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar came out in the open when Trump's Mideast visit triggered a sharp split between the two supposed allies.

On Monday, the split widened much further, with hostile words being replaced by hostile actions. Saudi Arabia broke diplomatic relations with Qatar, closed the land border between the two countries, and closed Saudi airspace to any airline flights to or from Qatar.

Other Arab nations immediately followed suit. Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) also broke relations with Qatar and imposed similar economic sanctions. The countries all ordered their citizens out of Qatar and gave Qataris abroad 14 days to return home. The island nation of Maldives announced later Monday that it, too, would cut ties to Qatar.

If the diplomatic conflict continues, the economic impact on Qatar is expected to be enormous. Qatar has only one land border, the one with Saudi Arabia, and 99% of all Qatar's food, as well as other supplies, come through that border. The announcement immediately triggered a panic in Qatar, with people in supermarkets buying up all available food, in anticipation of food shortages and high inflation. It's estimated that Qatar has only three days' worth of food supply on hand in the country.

Some analysts are predicting that Qatar will have to give in to Saudi Arabia's demands to end the crisis. Other analysts believe that the split may destabilize Qatar's government, making a coup likely. However, other countries in the region, including Kuwait, Oman and Turkey, are calling for restraint, and are offering to mediate to resolve the dispute. AP and Al-Jazeera and Washington Post and Bloomberg

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Arab nations' split caused by Qatar's relations with Muslim Brotherhood and Iran

As I described in my lengthy analysis two weeks ago, the same countries recalled their ambassadors from Qatar in March of 2014, although diplomatic relations were restored later that year. At that time there was an extremely bitter split among the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which is an organization of Arab nations (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)) on the Arabian Gulf. The reasons for the split then are the same as the reasons for the split now: Qatar's relations with the Muslim Brotherhood and with Iran.

Although Qatar cannot be considered an ally of Iran, there are reasons why Qatar wants to have good relations with Iran. One reason is that there over a million Hindu migrants working in Qatar, and Hindus have historically had good relations with Shia Muslims. Another reason is that Qatar and Iran share the biggest natural gas field in the world, making Qatar the world's top liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter, and with Iran expanding its own LNG exports with the western sanctions removed.

These reasons do not make Qatar and Iran allies, but they do mean that Qatar has to get along with Iran, at a time when the relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia are becoming increasingly vitriolic.

Qatar's relations with the Muslim Brotherhood have also contributed to split. There are two competing schools of conservative Sunni Muslim ideology. Extreme versions of either of these competing ideologies are used to justify Sunni terror acts.

One is the Salafist Wahhabi ideology, which has its roots in Saudi Arabia, and is the official Saudi religion. The other is the Muslim Brotherhood ideology, which has its roots in Egypt, and is strongly supported by Qatar and Turkey. Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, so Qatar supports Hamas as well.

Although the two ideologies have succeeded in coexisting for decades, they've been growing apart, and the differences are now coming to a head. The differences have been exacerbated by a number of events, including the 2013 Egypt government coup that removed the Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohammed Morsi, the 2014 Gaza war between Israel and Hamas, and civil war in Syria.

European and American governments have been pressuring the Saudi government to do something to stop terrorism by al-Qaeda linked groups or by the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). According to some analysts, the reason for the split between Saudi Arabia and Qatar is that the Saudis are using Qatar as a scapegoat in response to that pressure.

However, now that the split has occurred, it seems likely that the pressure will go in the opposite direction. Doha, Qatar's capital city, is a major airline hub, and the Saudi sanctions have thrown airline schedules in the entire region into chaos. There are 200,000 Egyptian workers in Qatar, and they will have to be withdrawn within two weeks, causing further chaos around the region. The economic sanctions on Qatar are going to affect the economies of the entire region. And the split is going to push Qatar closer to Iran.

As I've written many times, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, Jews versus Arabs, and various ethnic groups against each other. With appropriate generational research and analysis, the split between the Wahhabis and the Muslim Brotherhood can be used to determine which ethnic groups will be fighting each other. I certainly don't have anything like the resources to perform such an analysis by myself, but any college student interested in this kind of analysis could make an invaluable contribution to understanding what's going on in the world today by taking on, as a thesis topic, a generational analysis of the tribes and ethnic groups in the Mideast. Al Arabiya and AP and BBC and Israel National News (13-May-2014)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Jun-17 World View -- Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations cut ties with Qatar in new Mideast crisis thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Jun-2017) Permanent Link
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5-Jun-17 World View -- US and Iran-backed troops head for confrontation at al-Tanf on Iraq-Syria border

Iran-backed forces massing near the al-Tanf American base

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

US and Iran-backed troops head for confrontation at al-Tanf on Iraq-Syria border


Al-Tanf is on the Syrian side of Iraq's al-Waleed border crossing, and is on the strategic Route 1 highway between Baghdad and Damascus
Al-Tanf is on the Syrian side of Iraq's al-Waleed border crossing, and is on the strategic Route 1 highway between Baghdad and Damascus

The United States military is increasing its "combat power" in southern Syria around the American military training camp in al-Tanf, a Syrian town on the border with Iraq, on the Syrian side of Iraq's al-Waleed border crossing. The military buildup is in response to the approach of Iran-backed Shia forces from Iraq and the Syrian regime. Some unconfirmed reports indicate that the Shia forces are backed by Russian paratroopers.

Col. Ryan Dillon, a US military spokesman said:

"We have increased our presence and our footprint and prepared for any threat that is presented by the pro-regime forces."

Dillon said of the Iranian-backed forces being massed, "We see that as a threat." There are 150 US troops in the al-Tanf base.

There's already been one deadly confrontation, as we reported two weeks ago. A pro-Syrian regime convoy was headed in the direction of the al-Tanf camp. US warplanes were scrambled in a "show of force" to dissuade the convoy from proceeding further. That show of force was only partially successful, as five of the vehicles continued approaching the base. In response, American warplanes launched a series of airstrikes against the military convoy, destroying all the vehicles. It's not known whether there were any casualties.

It's believed that the militia forces in the convoy were not from the regular Syrian army, but were Shia militias coming either directly from Iraq or from Iran or from Iran's puppet Hezbollah militia in Lebanon.

This is the situation that the US military is confronting. Al-Tanf is on the strategically important Route 1 highway that connects Baghdad to Damascus. Iran's objective is for Shia forces from Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and the Syrian regime to control the entire length of Route 1, so that Iran can easily supply weapons and transfer militias to the Syrian regime and to Hezbollah in Lebanon. The US administration under President Trump is opposed to allowing Iran to expand its military presence in this way.

Al-Tanf is in a "deconfliction area," as specified by agreements reached among Russia, Iran and Turkey in peace talks held recently in Astana, Kazakhstan. The Iran-backed forces headed for al-Tanf are actually in violation of the of the Astana agreement that Iran signed. Reuters and Al Monitor and ARA News (Syria Kurds) and Ahlul Bayt (Iran)

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Iran-backed forces massing near the al-Tanf American base

The US Defense Department confirmed last week that hundreds of Iranian-backed Shia militiamen, including troops of Syrian regime president Bashar al-Assad, are massing near the American training base near al-Tanf.

In response, US planes over the weekend dropped 90,000 leaflets on the Iranian-backed militias:


The text reads: 1. Any movement toward al-Tanf will be seen as hostile intent and we will defend our forces. Return to Zaza Checkpoint. 2. You are within an established deconfliction zone, leave the area immediately. Return to Zaza Checkpoint
The text reads: 1. Any movement toward al-Tanf will be seen as hostile intent and we will defend our forces. Return to Zaza Checkpoint. 2. You are within an established deconfliction zone, leave the area immediately. Return to Zaza Checkpoint

So far, these and other warnings have been ignored. The US military believes that Iran's Quds Force plans to take control of large regions of Syria now controlled by the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), once ISIS is defeated in its two remaining strongholds, Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria.

However, the US military consider the Iranian militias to be a threat to American forces. According to Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis:

"We continue to see massing [of forces] and we are concerned about that. These patrols are unacceptable and threaten coalition forces."

He added that American forces are not looking for a conflict, but that they would defend themselves. Kurdistan 24 and Asharq Al-Awsat (28-May) and Al-Alam (Iran)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Jun-17 World View -- US and Iran-backed troops head for confrontation at al-Tanf on Iraq-Syria border thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Jun-2017) Permanent Link
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4-Jun-17 World View -- Crisis in Afghanistan grows with three new suicide bombers in Kabul

Afghanistan seethes with renewed anger over the attacks

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Three suicide bombers target Kabul Afghanistan funeral for previous victims


Mourners in Kabul run for safety Saturday after an explosion at a funeral (CNN)
Mourners in Kabul run for safety Saturday after an explosion at a funeral (CNN)

Six people were killed and 87 wounded in coordinated suicide bombing explosions at three sites in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Saturday, targeting a funeral for Mohammad Salim Izadyar. Other reports indicate that as many as 20 people were killed.

Izadyar was among six people killed and dozens injured on Friday by Afghan security forces during anti-government demonstrations.

The demonstrators were demanding the resignation of Afghanistan's president Ashraf Ghani for failure to protect the people, following a huge truck bombing on Wednesday that kill 100 people and injured hundreds more.

President Ashraf Ghani made a televised appeal for national unity:

"The country is under attack. We must stay strong and united. ...

Terrorist groups plot to sow chaos. Their aim is to create poor governance and disorder in communities. We must not let ourselves fall into the trap that the enemies have brought to our country."

No one has claimed credit for either Wednesday's attack or Saturday's attack. Nonetheless, it's widely believed that the Taliban were responsible, particularly the Haqqani Network, but that neither wants to take credit because of the massive carnage of civilians, contrary to the Taliban's cultivated image of wonderful people merely fighting the infidels in the US and Nato. Khaama Press (Kabul) and Tolo News (Kabul) and CNN

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Afghanistan seethes with renewed anger over the attacks

Kabul, Afghanistan, has now had three deadly incidents in four days, killing hundreds of people and injuring many hundreds more. People are seething with anger at the Ashraf Ghani government.

Wednesday's and Saturday's attacks took place in what are supposed to be the most secure parts of Kabul. Friday's victims were killed by the government security forces. It's clear that no one is immune to the rising violence in the city. Kabul was once considered the most secure part of Afghanistan, but now it seems to be the most dangerous.

As we described yesterday, the attacks on Wednesday and Friday are bringing back memories of Afghanistan's bloody civil war of 1991-96. That war was fought between the Pashtuns in southern Afghanistan versus the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan.

That same ethnic split divided the two sides in Afghanistan during the 2001 Afghan war, where the US attacked the Taliban, with the help and support of Afghanistan's Northern Alliance.

Saturday's funeral was for Salim Izadyar. He is the son of Mohammad Alan Izadyar, the deputy speaker of the Afghan senate and former Northern Alliance warlord who fought against the Taliban in 2001. Many of the people attending the funeral were honoring Salim, as well as his father. It seems likely that the Taliban were targeting the funeral guests for that reason.

Another person attending the funeral was Abdullah Abdullah, the Chief Executive of Afghanistan. In 2014, at US Secretary of State John Kerry's suggestion, Abdullah and Ghani became "co-presidents" of a sort.

The intention was to resolve a continuing governmental crisis at the time, but an analyst, Baker Atyani, says that the chaos caused by this co-presidency is leading to power struggles within the Afghan government, and that's leading to the violence. Ghani is a Pashtun while Abdullah is of mixed Pashtun-Tajik heritage, having supported the Northern Alliance.

As we wrote yesterday, Afghanistan is entering a generational Awakening era, and this ethnic violence will only increase. The two sides that respectively became the Taliban and the Northern Alliance ended their war in 1996. Those people are at peace, but their children are not.

The dilemma for the US and for that Nato coalition fighting in Afghanistan is how to extricate themselves. The US is still policeman of the world, and completely abandoning Afghanistan would be viewed as similar to the Chicago police force completely abandoning South Chicago because the fighting cannot be stopped. Unfortunately, the alternative is remaining in Afghanistan, even increasing the number of troops, even though there will never be peace between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance. France 24 and BBC and Arab News and National Interest

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Jun-17 World View -- Crisis in Afghanistan grows with three new suicide bombers in Kabul thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Jun-2017) Permanent Link
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3-Jun-17 World View -- Kabul bombing brings back memories of bloody 1990s Afghan civil war

Five people killed in clashes with police in anti-government rally in Kabul, Afghanistan

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Five people killed in clashes with police in anti-government rally in Kabul, Afghanistan


Afghan security forces and residents stand near the 13ft deep crater left by Wednesday's truck bomb attack in Kabul (AFP)
Afghan security forces and residents stand near the 13ft deep crater left by Wednesday's truck bomb attack in Kabul (AFP)

At least five people were killed and dozens injured on Friday in Kabul, Afghanistan, when security forces opened fire on protesters throwing stones at police.

The protesters were demanding that President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah both step down, for failing to protect citizens, following Wednesday's massive terror attack in Kabul that killed 100 people and injured hundreds more. The explosion was caused by a powerful truck bomb in a large truck designed to carry sewage. Over 50 vehicles were either destroyed or damaged in the attack. Buildings hundreds of meters away from the explosion were damaged or had windows blown out.

The terror attack is thought to be the worst in Afghanistan's recent history, and many people are furious that it was allowed to happen.

Over 1,000 protesters started marching towards the Presidential Palace early Friday. However, once at Zanbaq Circle, which was the scene of Wednesday’s deadly bombing, police started firing off tear gas canisters. According to some reports, the protesters threw stones at the police. Fire trucks also sprayed the demonstrators with water.

When this failed to disperse the crowd, police opened fire with live rounds on the protestors. The result was that at least five people were killed, with two of them shot in the mouth, and two more shot in the chest. At least 15 people were wounded, but reports indicate that they were mostlly shot in the legs and feet.

Chief executive Abdullah Abdullah addressed the nation on Friday afternoon and called for calm, and said that the shooting of peaceful protesters by security forces will be investigated. Tolo News (Afghanistan) and BBC

Kabul bombing brings back memories of bloody 1990s Afghan civil war

The Taliban are refusing to take credit for the massive Kabul bombing on Wednesday. That's not surprising, because of the massive slaughter of innocent civilians. The Taliban press releases like to portray them as nice guys fighting against a corrupt government and the infidels from the United States and Nato. Slaughtering and crippling hundreds of innocent civilians doesn't fit with their sweet PR image. Nonetheless, few people doubt that the Taliban, specifically the Haqqani Network, were responsible for Wednesday's bloody slaughter.

Americans and Europeans who try to understand what's going on in Afghanistan rarely dig any deeper than to refer to statements or policies of Barack Obama or Donald Trump or Angela Merkel, as if one of them could cause or prevent a truck bombing. Most people in Kabul probably don't even know who those leaders are. What they do know is that there was a bloody civil war from 1991 to 1996, with both sides regularly committing massacres, torture, rapes, beheadings, and any other atrocity that comes to mind, and the bitter memory of that bloody civil war guides much of what they do, including Friday's protests.

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is the current leader of Hezb-e Islami (abbreviated HIG for Hezb-e Islami-ye Gulbuddin), a Sunni Muslim ethnic Pashtun group that fought on one side of Afghanistan's bloody civil war in 1991-96. Hekmatyar himself was a warlord known as the "Butcher of Kabul," because of his unparalleled record of atrocities, killing thousands of innocent people.

Hekmatyar last month was allowed to return to Kabul after 20 years in exile, mostly in the UK. Hekmatyar had signed a peace agreement that granted him immunity for acts committed during the war. In return, Hezb-e-Islami will renounce its ties with extremist groups.

Hekmatyar, now almost 70 years old, has had an epiphany, and is no longer committing atrocities, One of his followers, Safia Sediqi, a member of Hizb-e-Islami’s women’s committee, said:

"The country is tired, we were born in war Mr. president, we got old and our sons are getting old, you tell us when will peace come to Afghanistan."

This is always the cry of survivors of generational crisis wars. Traumatized by the war, all they want is peace.

But unfortunately Ms. Sediqi is going to learn that there will be no peace. As I've explained in the past, Afghanistan is at the beginning of a generational Awakening era, 21 years after the climax of the civil war. If it were up to the traumatized survivors, there would be peace, but it's not. It's up to the younger generations, growing up after the war, who have no personal memory of the war,

There will be no return to general civil war -- the traumatized survivors will see to that. But the young people will hold protests, demonstrations and riots that sometimes become violent. Afghanistan is also a special case because the Taliban are radicalized ethnic Pashtuns, and they are receiving support from the Pashtuns in Pakistan, which is in a generational Crisis era. So there will more terrorist acts and no peace.

Two things are certain: First, the demands that Ashraf Ghani step down are going to increase. And second, the war in Afghanistan is only going to get worse, no matter how many extra troops are sent by the US and Nato. Tolo News (Kabul) and Afghan Analysts (3-May) and NY Times

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Jun-17 World View -- Kabul bombing brings back memories of bloody 1990s Afghan civil war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Jun-2017) Permanent Link
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2-Jun-17 World View -- China-built railway in Kenya raises questions about 'debt trap diplomacy'

Kenya launches new China-built railway from Mombasa port to Nairobi

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Kenya launches new China-built railway from Mombasa port to Nairobi


Madaraka Express railway launch in Nairobi, Kenya, on Wednesday
Madaraka Express railway launch in Nairobi, Kenya, on Wednesday

Kenya on Wednesday launched a new railway line call he Madaraka (Freedom) Express, linking Kenya's Port of Mombasa on the India Ocean to the capital city Nairobi. The word "Madaraka" commemorates the day that Kenya became independent in 1963.

The new 380-mile Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line is expected to be good for business. Cargo charges from the Port of Mombasa to Nairobi will cost about $500 per container and take 8 hours transit time. This is a significant saving over transit by road, which costs $900, and requires 24 hours. The train can carry 1,260 passengers.

The new railway replaces "The Lunatic Express," a rail link built in the late 1800s by British money and colonists. The Lunatic Express was increasingly shaky, with old tracks and locomotives that were increasingly difficult to service.

The new SGR was built with Chinese money and Chinese workers. China's state-owned Export-Import Bank loaned Kenya $3.6 billion for the project, which Kenya is expected to repay out of revenues. However, some analysts are raising concerns that the SGR will be a "white elephant," leaving Kenya with enormous unpayable debts, as has already happened in Sri Lanka.

Even worse, the cost to build the Kenya railroad has been extremely expensive even by regional standards. The cost of the railway was roughly twice as great as another China-built railway, the Djibouti-Ethiopia train, suggesting the possibility of corruption.

Perhaps Djibouti and Ethiopia were able to drive a harder bargain with the Chinese, because China is also building a naval and air base on the strategic Red Sea port in Djibouti, and the railway connects that port to Ethiopia's capital city, Addis Ababa. The site of the Chinese base is about 6 miles from an existing US base in Djibouti. China has defended the base construction, citing evacuations of Chinese nationals from nearby Yemen and Libya during recent conflicts.

In launching the new railway, Kenya's president Uhuru Kenyatta said:

"A history that was first started 122 years ago when the British, who had colonized this nation, kicked off the train to nowhere... it was then dubbed the 'Lunatic Express.' ...

Today 122 years later, despite again a lot of criticism, we now celebrate, not the Lunatic Express but the Madaraka Express, that will begin to reshape the story of Kenya for the next 100 years. I am proud to be associated with this day. ...

The drop in cost of freight and fares will make Kenya a more attractive investment destination. More investors will lead to more jobs and growth in our economy."

Another issue related to the railway is that it crosses Kenya’s Nairobi National Park. Built by British settlers in 1946, this is a wild animal park on the fringes of Nairobi, and is a leading tourist attraction, and is responsible for a significant amount of Nairobi's income.

However, wild animals occasionally migrate out of the part into nearby homes and farms. With the SGR right through the middle of the park, these visits by wild animals have increased. Earlier this year, two lions escaped from the park and had to be shot, as they were threatening humans. This has raised an outcry from environmentalists, who are demanding a number of changes, including raising the railway above the park, so that animals can move freely. The Shanghaiist and Radio France Internationale and African Business Magazine (5-May) and UPI (18-April) and Huffington Post

China accused of a policy of 'debt trap diplomacy' in infrastructure projects

There is no economic or financial case for the railway, according to a World Bank report. There's a very realistic fear that the SGR will generate far less income than is necessary to repay the China's $3.6 billion loan.

We've already seen exactly these problems in Sri Lanka. In 2009, China invested $1.2 billion in Sri Lanka's Hambantota seaport. Sri Lanka had expected to repay the debt through profits earned by the port, but the slowdown in trade throughout the entire region in the last few years has meant that Sri Lanka has been unable to repay the debt, and now China has essentially taken over the port in lieu of repayment of the debt, resulting in violent protests by Sri Lanka's Buddhist monks and anti-government protesters. China will own a significant piece of Sri Lankan real estate, and there will be a large Chinese community that will be in Sri Lanka forever.

Professor Samuel Nyandemo of the University of Nairobi's School of Economics refers to China's projects as "debt trap diplomacy"

“Extending loans for infrastructure projects is a good thing. But look at the projects being funded. Most of them are meant to open markets for Chinese goods in strategically-located countries and increase their access to natural resources.

If there is one thing China is truly good at, it is using its economic assets to advance its geostrategic interests, which has left countries snared in a debt trap that makes them vulnerable to Chinese influence."

In fact, however much revenue the new SGR railway generates, it will have a significant negative economic impact on Kenya. That's because there's an existing Nairobi-Mombasa railway run by Rift Valley Railways (RVR). Amazingly, Kenyan authorities are now requiring that a minimum of 40% of the cargo travelling between Nairobi and Mombasa must be taken by the new SGR. This is presumably going to be a financial disaster for RVR, but it also means that Kenya will have little or no revenue gain from the new railway, since it will be taking much of its business from the old railway.

When Kenya's president Uhuru Kenyatta recently visited the One Belt One Road (OBOR) forum in Beijing, he signed a contract borrowing another $3.5 billion from China for an extension to the SGR that was just launched. Critics say that thanks to the president, Kenyans will have to labor for China for years to come. Kenya Standard Media (28-May) and Times of India and African Business Magazine (23-May)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Jun-17 World View -- China-built railway in Kenya raises questions about 'debt trap diplomacy' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Jun-2017) Permanent Link
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1-Jun-17 World View -- Massive terror explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, as US considers sending more troops

Afghans blame Pakistan and the Taliban-linked Haqqani network

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Massive terror explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, the largest in years


Aerial view of Kabul, Afghanistan (UN)
Aerial view of Kabul, Afghanistan (UN)

The biggest terrorist explosion in Afghanistan in years took place in the capital city Kabul during the morning rush hour on Wednesday, killing 90 people and injuring almost 400. The explosion was caused by a powerful truck bomb in a large truck designed to carry sewage. Over 50 vehicles were either destroyed or damaged in the attack. Buildings hundreds of meters away from the explosion were damaged or had windows blown out.

According to one witness, "I have been to many attacks, taken wounded people out of many blast sites, but I can say I have never seen such a horrible attack as I saw this morning."

The area that was attacked is supposed to be the safest in Kabul, with foreign embassies and government offices protected by dozens of 10ft-high blast walls guarded by police and national security forces. Every vehicle entering the area is supposed to be checked for explosives, leading some analysts to believe that the perpetrators had the cooperation of someone in the security forces.

However, a statement from the Nato forces says that Afghan security forces had prevented the vehicle from entering the heavily protected Green Zone that houses many foreign embassies, suggesting it may not have reached its intended target. Sky News (Australia) and Tolo News (Afghanistan)

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Afghans blame Pakistan and the Taliban-linked Haqqani network

The Taliban have conducted numerous terror attacks in Kabul, but they claim that they didn't perpetrate this one. According to a statement issued by the Taliban:

"[The Taliban] condemn every explosion and attack carried out against civilians, or in which civilians are harmed. ...

[Whoever] carried out this attack and for what purpose, that will become clear at a later stage."

This statement from the Taliban is laughable. The Taliban regularly attack innocent civilians, including women and children, and they particularly target ethnic Hazaras and Shia Muslims in general. In fact, the vast major of people killed by the Taliban are innocent civilians. However, it's bad publicity for the Taliban to kill innocent civilians, so they're reluctant to take credit for it for PR reasons.

The so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) did claim credit for the attack, but ISIS has developed a public relations gimmick of taking credit for any terror attack, whether they've been involved or not.

The Afghan intelligence agency NDS blamed the Haqqani network for the attack. The Haqqani Network is linked to the Taliban, and is widely believed to be funded and supported by Pakistan security services, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

According to an aide to Afghanistan's president Ashraf Ghani, "Today’s enormous explosion absolutely was a Haqqani Network type attack. ISIS [in Afghanistan] cannot carry out such a large and sophisticated attack." Sky News (Australia) and AFP and Daily Beast

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Afghanistan situation deteriorates, as US considers sending more troops

Afghan security forces control only about 57 percent of the country's territory. Around 2.5 million people live in areas controlled by the Taliban and nine million more live in contested areas. According to analysts, the Taliban are now stronger than at any point since the 2001 Afghan war.

U.S. General John Nicholson described the current military situation in Afghanistan against the Taliban as a "stalemate," and he's requested several thousand additional US troops to enhance the 8,400 American and 5,000 coalition forces already present.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the security situation in Afghanistan will only get worse. As I've explained many times, Afghanistan's last generational crisis war was the extremely bloody civil war of 1991-96 was fought between the Pashtuns in southern Afghanistan versus the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan. The Taliban are from the Pashtun ethnic group, which extends into Pakistan, and so the Taliban Pashtuns in Pakistan cooperate with the Taliban Pashtuns in Afghanistan to conduct terror attacks.

When America attacked Afghanistan in 2001, the Afghan Taliban collapsed quickly, because Afghanistan was in a generational Recovery era, with the traumatized survivors of the bloody 1991-96 civil war still recovering, with little will to fight. However, since the 2001 war, younger generations of Pashtuns have come of age, and they're more willing to conduct attacks against the government, and against their parents' former enemies in the Northern Alliance.

So it really doesn't matter at all how many troops the US or Nato send to Afghanistan. The security situation is going to continue to deteriorate, and the Taliban and ISIS will continue to control provinces of Afghanistan, at the expense of the government in Kabul. Deutsche Welle (25-May) and ABC News and Russia Today and Deutsche Welle

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Jun-17 World View -- Massive terror explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, as US considers sending more troops thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Jun-2017) Permanent Link
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31-May-17 World View -- Turkey builds a northern Syria 'National Army' from Free Syrian Army militias

US begins arming YPG Kurds in northern Syria on eve of battle of Raqqa

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey builds a northern Syria 'National Army' from Free Syrian Army militias


A US officer speaking with a YPG fighter on April 25 (AFP)
A US officer speaking with a YPG fighter on April 25 (AFP)

Turkey is planning to form a new "National Army" in northern Syria, bringing together factions from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) that fought last year as part of Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield, joined by defectors from the Syrian regime's army. The objective of the previous operation, which began on Aug 24 of last year and ended on March 29 of this year, was to clear out both the the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) and the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) from a region in northern Syria.

Turkey ended Operation Euphrates Shield in March under pressure from Russia, but Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed that military operations would continue to prevent either ISIS or the YPG from regaining control of any part of the area cleared out by Operation Euphrates Shield.

The YPG has links to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been fighting a separatist rebellion in Turkey since the 1980s, and which has perpetrated a string of major terrorist attacks in Turkey in the last two years. For these reasons, Turkish-led military actions in northern Syria were intended to prevent the Kurds from taking control of the entire northern border of Syria, and then declaring an independent Kurdish state of Rojava.

An additional purpose of the new "Syrian National Army" was to create a buffer zone or safe zone for Syrians fleeing the conflict, something that Erdogan has been demanding for years. According to Erdogan:

"Once we have created a safe zone, the Syrians will be able to establish their National Army, so they can feel safe."

According to Turkish media, almost a million people so far have returned to the area cleared of ISIS and the YPG, or have been relocated there from other conflict areas.

The Syrian conflict has resulted in millions of refugees. Some three million are in Turkey, about one million are in Europe, and millions more are in Jordan and Lebanon. The safe zone or buffer zone in northern Syria could provide for Syrian refugees that's within Syria itself.

The role of the YPG is a major area of contention between Turkey and the US. The YPG are allies of the US military who considers them to be the most effective anti-ISIS fighting force in the region. However, because of the YPG links with the PKK, Turkey considers the YPG to be terrorists. It's believed that there are hundreds of US special forces troops in the region, and one of their objectives is to keep the Turks and the Kurds from shooting at each other. TRTWorld-Youtube (Turkey) and Al Monitor and Reuters (18-May)

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US begins arming YPG Kurds in northern Syria on eve of battle of Raqqa

The US army has begun arming YPG Syrian Kurdish militias, as announced early in May. The weapons would include small arms, mortars, AK-47s, heavy machine guns, shoulder-fired weapons, ammunition, bulldozers and armored vehicles such as the M1117 Guardian. According to the military, the selected weapons will address the specific threats that ISIS poses, such as the Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDS), or car bombs of the type that ISIS has used to break up assaults.

This comes on the eve of the assault on Raqqa, the major stronghold and so-called Caliphate of ISIS. The YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are now about two miles from the city, and the battle to eject ISIS is expected to be extremely bloody and last for weeks or months.

The assault to eject ISIS from Raqqa in Syria is beginning, but the assault by Iraq's army to eject ISIS from Mosul in Iraq continues, after beginning in October of last year, and is also a long, bloody battle.

It's believed that within a few months, ISIS will have been ejected from both Raqqa and Mosul. Until then, all these various armies and militias have a common enemy. After that, these armies will have no one to fight except each other, and one possibility is that the thousands of ISIS fighters will return to their home countries, possibly to conduct lone wolf attacks. Military Times/AP and Fox News and NRT (Kurdistan) and Sputnik News (Moscow)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-May-17 World View -- Turkey builds a northern Syria 'National Army' from Free Syrian Army militias thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-May-2017) Permanent Link
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30-May-17 World View -- Arrest of Berber activist in Morocco raises Berber-Arab tensions

Brief generational history of Berbers and Arabs

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Arrest of Berber activist in Morocco raises Berber-Arab tensions


Fishmonger Mouhcine Fikri (L), and the picture that went viral of his death on October 26 in a garbage truck, triggering widespread anti-government protests
Fishmonger Mouhcine Fikri (L), and the picture that went viral of his death on October 26 in a garbage truck, triggering widespread anti-government protests

Police on Monday in the town of al-Hoceima in Morocco arrested anti-government activist Nasser Zefzafi, on the charge of having interrupted a prayer ceremony at a mosque in al-Hoceima. The arrest warrant was issued on Friday, because he had "obstructed, in the company of a group of individuals, freedom of worship" at the mosque, according to prosecutors, and because he stopped "the preacher from continuing his sermon, giving a provocative speech in which he insulted the imam and fomented disturbances that undermined the calm and sacredness of the place of worship."

Nasser Zefzafi is the leader of the anti-government Popular Mobilization movement (Al-Hirak al-Shaabi), which he founded last year in November, after the bizarre death on October 26 of a fishmonger who was crushed by a garbage truck.

Mouhcine Fikri, a fishmonger, was illegally selling out-of-season swordfish worth $10,000 that he had just purchased from the port in al-Hoceima. A policeman confiscated his swordfish, and threw it into a garbage truck. Fikri jumped into the garbage truck to retrieve his fish, and he was crushed to death by the garbage truck. Some people who were present claim that the policeman told the garbage truck driver to crush him on purpose, though the police deny this.

Pictures of Fikri's horrific death went viral, and triggered regular protests since then. Fikri and Zefzafi are both ethnic Berbers, and al-Hoceima is a mostly Berber port city in northern Morocco, a country governed almost entirely by Arabs.

Zefzafi has been accused of wanting for form an independent Berber country, which he denies: "Our demands are economic and social, there has never been a question of creation of an independent state. For six months we have been resisting... And we will resist until they respond to our demands for the economic and social development of our region."

More than 20 activists were arrested over the weekend following clashes between protesters and the police. BBC and AFP and Al-Jazeera

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Brief generational history of Berbers and Arabs

Berbers or Amazighs claim to have lived in northern Africa for thousands of years, since the dawn of civilization, and are referred to as Libyans in classical texts. Although they had wars with the Romans and Byzantines for centuries, they were not subjugated until the arrival of the Arabs starting in the 680s, fifty years after the death of Mohammed. Today there are still isolated tribes descended from the original Berbers, maintaining ancient traditions and the Berber's Tamazight language, but the population of Berbers has diminished over the centuries, often due simply to intermarriage with the dominant Arabs.

In modern times, Algeria's war of independence from France (1954-62) united the Berbers and Arabs against the common enemy, the French. However, during the generational Awakening era that followed, tensions grew between the two ethnic groups, culminating a major anti-government protest in Algeria, the Printemps Berbère (the "Berber Spring") of April 1980. The Berbers demanded an end to discrimination by the Arab majority, and recognition Tamazight as a national language. The protests were bloodily suppressed by Algerian security forces.

Since then there have been occasional new protests, the worst occurring in July 2015, when at least 22 people were killed in ethnic clashes between Berbers and Arabs in Algeria.

Berber anti-government protests have been growing again in Morocco, ever since Berber fishmonger Mouhcine Fikri was crushed to death by a garbage truck after a confrontation with an Arab policeman. Now the arrest of anti-government activist Nasser Zefzafi is certain to energize new protests, probably as early as the weekend. Ancient.eu and France 24 and Temehu.com (Libya)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-May-17 World View -- Arrest of Berber activist in Morocco raises Berber-Arab tensions thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-May-2017) Permanent Link
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29-May-17 World View -- North Korea launches another ballistic missile test, as talk of war increases

The US deploys three aircraft carriers to Korean waters amid talk of war

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

North Korea launches ninth ballistic missile test this year


USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group (Reuters)
USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group (Reuters)

South Korea reports that early on Monday morning, North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile, its ninth ballistic missile test this year. This comes just one week after another ballistic missile test. The missile flew about 450 km (280 miles), and landed in the Sea of Japan.

The missile is assumed to be a "Scud" missile known as the KN-06, that can be launched from a mobile platform, to target enemy aircraft or nearby ground targets. North Korea has a large stockpile of Scud missiles, originally developed by the Soviet Union.

North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un is quoted as saying that the system should be deployed "all over the country like forests so as to completely spoil the enemy’s wild dream to command the air, boasting of air supremacy, and weapon almighty."

The usual steps have been taken in response to the latest ballistic missile test: South Korea's President Moon Jae-in, who had hoped to have friendly relations with North Korea, called a meeting of the country's National Security Council. Japan launched a protest and called the test "highly problematic, while Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe vowed action to deter North Korea's repeated provocations. Reuters and The Diplomat and Sky News (Australia)

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The US deploys three aircraft carriers to Korean waters amid talk of war

The US Navy is deploying a third aircraft carrier strike group to the waters around North Korea. The USS Nimitz will join the USS Carl Vinson and USS Ronald Reagan, which were already in the region. That decision was made before Sunday's ballistic missile test, so tensions are growing high in the region.

These events are causing people to worry about war, and specifically to worry that president Donald Trump will launch airstrike on North Korea.

It's impossible to predict what any individual will do, and that certainly includes politicians. So it's possible that Trump may order some kind of attack on North Korea, and thus trigger a major new Korean war, and subsequently a world war. My personal belief is that three aircraft carriers are there to pressure North Korea politically, and that the actions are being taken with the cooperation of the Chinese, and possibly even the Russians.

For example, one scenario short of an attack is that China and the US are playing good cop / bad cop. That's just a guess. Anyway, we'll just have to wait and see.

Sunday's test was of a short-range mostly defensive ballistic missile, so it may be possible to have fanciful thoughts that North Korea is backing down, or at least slowing down. A new test of either a nuclear weapon or an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), two technologies which could be combined to deliver a nuclear weapon to the US mainland, would raise tensions enormously.

No one doubts any longer that North Korea will inevitably develop the technology to deliver a nuclear weapon to the US mainland. So there's going to be a war now or in the near future. That's what Generational Dynamics has been predicting anyway, so there's no surprise. Asahi Shimbun (Tokyo) and Daily Beast and CBS News

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-May-17 World View -- North Korea launches another ballistic missile test, as talk of war increases thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-May-2017) Permanent Link
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28-May-17 World View -- More violence in Kashmir after another militant leader is killed

India declares nationwide prohibition on sales of cattle for slaughter

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

India declares nationwide prohibition on sales of cattle for slaughter


Cow slaughter is already illegal in India's Gujurat province
Cow slaughter is already illegal in India's Gujurat province

In a move that critics say will devastate the economy, India's Environment Ministry on Friday issued regulations banning the sale of cattle, when the intent is slaughter or religious sacrifice. Cattle are defined as bovine animals, including bulls, bullocks, cows, buffalos, steers, heifers and calves and includes camels.

The new regulations are seen as a move by prime minister Narendra Modi to satisfy demands from his Hindu nationalist base, who have been calling for a ban on all cow slaughter across the country. Banning cow slaughter is seen as targeting Muslims, who kill cows for meat, a practice that's followed by people of all faiths in almost all countries of the world.

An analysis in the Hindustan Times points out that only 30% of cattle slaughtered in India is used for meat – either local consumption or export – while 70% of the carcass is traded for industries that deal in dozens of items for daily use, including buttons, soap, toothpaste, paint brushes and surgical stitches. India exported 2.4 million tonnes of buffalo meat to 65 countries in 2014-15, or 23.5% of global beef exports, worth about $4.6 billion.

The hardest hit, according to the analysis, will be rural farmers who use cattle for ploughing. When a bull or bullock is no longer productive, the farmer sells it for 40% of its original purchase price, and uses the money to purchase a replacement animal. If the farmer is unable to sell the unproductive animal for slaughter, then the farmer will lose this money and, even worse, will not be able to slaughter the animal himself, so will have to continue feeding it. Hindustan Times and News 18 (India) and Times Now (India)

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More violence in Kashmir after another militant leader is killed

Indian security forces in India-governed Kashmir killed a prominent militant commander, Sabzar Ahmad Bhat, and a fellow militant, along with a civilian, early on Saturday after a gunfight that lasted for hours. The death of the militants triggered widespread protests across Kashmir Valley, and the imposition of new curfews.

The death of Bhat at the hands of security forces is significant because he is the operational commander of the terrorist group Hizbul Mujahideen, and successor to Burhan Wani, the Hizbul Mujahideen commander who was killed by security forces last year on July 8. The death of Wani last year triggered a major surge in violence that continues to this day, claiming 78 lives, and blinding hundreds of Kashmiris from the use of pellet guns by security forces.

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.

As news of the death of Bhat spread, there were widespread protests by local citizens, as thousands of people began heading to Bhat's home village Tral, about 30 miles south of the provincial capital Srinagar, and pelting security forces with stones. According to some reports, 80 people were injured. Authorities imposed restrictions in parts of Kashmir Valley and suspended mobile internet services.

There's a romantic back story to Bhat. Bhat was a childhood friend of Burhan Wani. Bhat reportedly turned to militancy after the family of a girl he loved spurned his marriage proposal and ended the relationship. Rising Kashmir and AP and News 18 (India)

India's army exults over the successful killing of Sabzar Ahmad Bhat

The killing of militant commander Sabzar Ahmad Bhat represents a change of strategy by India's army in Kashmir, according to Major General BS Raju, who heads the army's Victor Force in south Kashmir. Raju considers the death of Bhat to be an outstanding success. Instead of simply applying techniques to pacify protesters, he says that "We are going after the leaders."

According to a news analysis in FirstPost:

"That was the strategy of then BSF IG Ashok Patel, who handled militancy at its worst, between 1990 and 1993. Patel targeted commanders based on specific intelligence. He laid cordons at specific locations on the basis of that information.

The strategy worked well. The heads of major militant organizations, including Muslim Janbaz Force, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, Students Liberation Front, Al Umar and Hizbullah were all rounded up (arrested) by April 1992.

That only left the largely rural-based Hizb in the field. It was in December 1992 that Pakistan allowed the Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Afghan-based Harkat-ul Mujahideen to Kashmir. They dominated from then until that round of militancy ended around a decade ago. The new militancy emerged over the past five years."

This is a mistake made by everyone -- politicians, security forces, ordinary people. They remember what happened in the 1990s, and they assume that if they try something that worked well at that time, then it will work well again.

This assumption is completely wrong. The 1947 Partition War was one of the bloodiest wars of the 20th century, pitting Hindus versus Muslims, following the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan. In the 1990s, the people in charge of both the Indians, the Pakistanis and the Kashmiris were all traumatized survivors of that extremely bloody war, and while they might tolerate some peaceful protests and stone-pelting, they would do everything possible to prevent a repeat of what happened in 1947. It's ironic, but in the 1990s the Hindus and the Muslims would have been cooperating with each other, whether consciously or by instinct, to keep any protests from getting out of hand.

Those traumatized survivors are gone now, and the people in the younger generations who are in charge now have absolutely no clue what happened in 1947, nor what's going to be happening to them in the near future.

So now in 2017, Indian army command BS Raju is going to duplicate the 1992 strategy of Indian army commander Ashok Patel, and he expects it work the same way. There's absolutely no reason to believe that. In fact, killing militant commanders in a generational Unraveling era like the 1990s, may work to convince those traumatized survivors to call off further protests rather than risk further bloodshed, but in a generational Crisis era like today, there is no real fear of further bloodshed on either side, with the result that tit-for-tat escalations can lead to full scale war.

As I've written several times, 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. Kashmir is at the heart of a re-fighting of those two wars. First Post (India)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-May-17 World View -- More violence in Kashmir after another militant leader is killed thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-May-2017) Permanent Link
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27-May-17 World View -- Egypt's warplanes attack Libya camps after terror attack kills Coptic Christians

Egypt's warplanes bomb al-Qaeda jihadist training camps in Libya

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Terrorists massacre dozens of Coptic Christians in Egypt


Screen grab from terrorist public relations video showing Egyptian Coptic Christian fishermen just prior to beheading in Libya in Feb 2015
Screen grab from terrorist public relations video showing Egyptian Coptic Christian fishermen just prior to beheading in Libya in Feb 2015

On Friday, ten masked gunmen driving three 4x4 wheelers opened fire with "random shooting" about 140 miles south of Cairo, Egypt, on a convoy of two buses carrying Coptic Christians who were traveling towards Saint Samuel the Confessor Monastery in Maghagha to pray, killing 26 and injuring 25.

Friday's killings were just the latest in a wave of terror attacks on Coptic Christians. In December, dozens of people were killed by a terrorist explosion during Sunday prayers in the chapel of St Peter and St Paul (El-Botroseya) adjoining Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo.

Then last month in April, during Palm Sunday services, there were coordinate bombing attacks on Coptic churches in two different cities, killing over 75 people and wounding dozens more. A furious president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi declared a state of emergency in Egypt for three months, allowing authorities to make arrests without warrants and search people's homes. This gave the government near dictatorial powers that could easily be abused, but they didn't prevent Friday's terror attack on Coptic Christians.

Coptic Christians are vocal supporters of al-Sisi, but they are furious at the al-Sisi government for not preventing these repeated attacks, but al-Sisi seems helpless to stop them. The Coptic church dates back nearly 2,000 years, almost to the time of Christ. Coptics make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population of 92 million.

No one has yet claimed credit for Friday's attacks, but both the previous attacks were claimed by the Sinai terror group called Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM - Ansar Jerusalem - Champions of Jerusalem). The group changed its name to Al Wilayat Sinai (Province of Sinai) when it changed its allegiance in 2015 from al-Qaeda to the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). Al Ahram (Cairo) and France 24 and Reuters

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Egypt's warplanes bomb al-Qaeda jihadist training camps in Libya

In a TV speech late on Friday, Egypt's president Abdul Fattah al-Sisi promised to "protect our people from evil," and announced that warplanes were attacking the town of Derna in eastern Libya, near the border with Egypt. According to al-Sisi,

"The terrorist incident that took place today will not pass unnoticed. We are currently targeting the camps where the terrorists are trained."

Forces from the East Libyan government (one of the three governments currently in Libya) said that they participated in the airstrikes.

This was not the first time that al-Sisi ordered the bombing of al-Qaeda camps in Libya. Readers may recall a widely publicized terror attack from February 2015. The terrorist group Ansar al-Sharia, which had recently changed allegiance from al-Qaeda to ISIS, released a video showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christian workers who had been kidnapped while serving as guest workers in Sirte. The 21 hostages were identified as fishermen from an impoverished village in northern Egypt.

At that time, al-Sisi declared seven days of national mourning, and announced that warplanes has conducted air strikes against militant targets in Libya, including training camps in arms depots. The targets were in the region of Derna, the same as the latest airstrikes. AP and BBC (16-Feb-2015) and Daily Mail (London)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-May-17 World View -- Egypt's warplanes attack Libya camps after terror attack kills Coptic Christians thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-May-2017) Permanent Link
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26-May-17 World View -- Trump's Mideast visit triggers renewal of sharp split between Saudi Arabia and Qatar

Qatar claims that it was cyber-attacked after media reports supporting Iran

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Trump's Mideast visit triggers renewal of sharp split between Saudi Arabia and Qatar


Trump signs $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia
Trump signs $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia

President Donald Trump's harsh condemnation of Iran during Monday's visit to Saudi Arabia has apparently triggered a renewal of a long-standing split between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and within the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) in general. The GCC is an organization of Arab nations (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)) on the Arabian Gulf.

The joint statement issued after Trump's meeting with Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud said the following:

"22. The two leaders also agreed on the need to contain Iran’s malign interference in the internal affairs of other states, instigation of sectarian strife, support of terrorism and armed proxies, and efforts to destabilize the countries in the region.

23. The two leaders also stressed that Iran’s interference poses a threat to the security of the region and the world, and that the nuclear agreement with Iran needs to be re-examined in some of its clauses. The Iranian ballistic missile program poses a threat, not only to neighboring countries, but also a direct threat to the security of all countries in the region as well as global security."

The next day, at a meeting with Israeli officials in Jerusalem, he said, "Most importantly, the United States and Israel can declare with one voice that Iran must never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon - never, ever - and must cease its deadly funding, training and equipping of terrorists and militias, and it must cease immediately."

Iran's newly reelected president Hassan Rouhani called Trump's appearance a "theatrical gathering with no practical or political value," saying that "You can't solve terrorism just by giving your people's money to a superpower."

Rouhani was alluding to the deals that Trump and Salman signed for Saudi Arabia to purchase $110 billion in weapons from the US.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi called on Washington to abandon its "warmongering policy, intervention, Iranophobia and sales of dangerous and useless weapons to the main sponsors of terrorism." White House and Reuters and CNN

Qatar claims that it was cyber-attacked after media reports supporting Iran

The above reactions from Iran were to be expected, and were just a repetition of the sorts of things that Iranian hardliners say about the United States every day. Nothing new there.

The reaction that created shocked waves was from Qatar, when Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani was quoted as saying: "There is no reason behind Arabs' hostility to Iran and our [Qatar's] relationship with Israel is good." The statement also praised the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as Iran's puppet terrorist group, Hezbollah.

The statements were immediately picked up by media in Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries. An official in the UAE said:

"Qatar favoring the MB and Iran over Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain is a serious political crisis.

We concluded the summits in Riyadh, thanking God for uniting Arab, Islamic and international stances and the 3 summits were successful. However, we were surprised today to hear that Qatar’s stance has changed; we believe that is neither a suitable timing, nor suitable excuses or good statements. We ask Allah to guide Qatar."

Four Arab countries -- Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain -- blocked al-Jazeera and other Qatari news sites.

Then there was a further surprise when Qatari Sheik al-Thani announced that he had never made any such comments, and that Qatar's news web sites had been hacked.

These claims were not universally believed. According to an editorial in the Gulf News:

"Today, the GCC is faced with another challenge. And unfortunately, it is coming from within the ranks of the group. Shortly after the conclusion of last week’s GCC Consultative Summit in Riyadh, we were stunned by remarks, attributed to the Emir of Qatar, Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, during a military ceremony on Tuesday, in which he appeared to defy not only the official GCC policies on most critical issues — particularly Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah — but also to hint that the American bases in Qatar were the only guarantee to safeguard his country from the “threat posed by some neighboring countries”.

While the three summits hosted by Saudi Arabia last Saturday and Sunday, in the presence of United States President Donald Trump and leaders of 57 Muslim countries, agreed that Iran was fuelling conflicts and sectarian tension in the region, Shaikh Tamim has been quoted by the Qatari official news agency as saying: “Iran represents a regional and Islamic power that cannot be ignored and it is unwise to face up against it. It is a big power in the stabilization of the region.”"

At this point it is not clear to me, an outsider, whether or not al-Thani actually made the referenced remarks. However, the alleged remarks have triggered a major backlash by other Arab countries, and many officials of those countries believe that the quoted remarks, whether real or not, actually represent Qatar's policies.

Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain are still blocking Qatari news sites. Al-Arabiya (24-May) and BBC and The Peninsula (Qatar) and Gulf News

Vitriolic Saudi-Qatari fault line reopened this week by Trump's visit

In 2014, I reported several times about a major Mideast realignment, with Israel plus Egypt plus Saudi Arabia on one side, and Qatar plus Hamas plus Turkey on the other side. In March of that year there was an extremely bitter split among GCC members. After a stormy GCC meeting, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Qatar.

The trigger was the refusal of Qatar to support a security agreement that was adopted by the GCC several months earlier, requiring all members not to back "anyone threatening the security and stability of the GCC whether as groups or individuals - via direct security work or through political influence, and not to support hostile media." In particular, Qatar has refused to implement three specific provisions:

When Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government were in power in Egypt, then Egypt and Qatar had close relations, and Qatar was providing aid to Egypt. However, in July 2013, army general Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi engineered a coup that overthrew Morsi, and later became president himself.

The split grew larger during the summer, when there was a 60-day war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Qatar and Iran strongly supported Hamas, while many people believed that Egypt was on the side of Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Late in 2014, the vitriolic differences between the GCC countries were papered over, thanks to mediation by Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah II, the the older brother of the current King Salman.

What's happened now is that all the vitriolic feelings of 2014 are resurfacing. It's quite possible that this is a momentary blip, and that a way will be found in the next few days or weeks to paper those feelings over again, but the events of the last week prove that those feelings exist, and they can resurface and turn into conflict at any time, if a new event triggers them. AP and Reuters

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Some useful information that's good to know

If you live in Manchester, England, then you're a "Mancunian." Manchester was the site of the recent terror attack,

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-May-17 World View -- Trump's Mideast visit triggers renewal of sharp split between Saudi Arabia and Qatar thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-May-2017) Permanent Link
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25-May-17 World View -- China's flagrant snub of Singapore reflects deteriorating ties

India and Singapore launch major naval exercises in South China Sea

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China's flagrant snub of Singapore reflects deteriorating ties


China commercial and military route through Malacca strait
China commercial and military route through Malacca strait

Two weeks ago, China held its wildly spectacular One Belt One Road (OBOR) forum in Beijing. Attending were 1,200 delegates from 110 countries, including 28 heads of state. Among them were seven leaders from members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

But one of those leaders was noticeably missing: Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The media debated whether China was snubbing Lee, or whether Lee had chosen not to go. Finally, Singapore's government clarified what happened: Lee was not invited. It was an official Chinese snub.

In years past, Lee Kuan Yew, the father of the current prime minister, maintained very friendly relations with China, while still retaining a strategic relationship with the United States. But this balancing act seems to have eluded the current prime minister. He's been increasingly critical of China's illegal militarization of the South China Sea, and he's even joked about China during a visit to Washington.

China got revenge last December when Hong Kong customs illegally seized nine Singapore-owned armored military vehicles being shipped from Taiwan back to Singapore. Singapore finally got them back only after several months had passed, but the message was clear: China no longer considers Singapore to be a friend.

This was further emphasized at the OBOR forum not only by snubbing prime minister Lee, but also by signing billion dollar technology deals with Malaysia and Indonesia, completely bypassing Singapore. Lowy Institute (Australia) and Global Times (22-May) and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong - 3-Dec-2016) and Bloomberg (18-May) and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong - 1-Oct-2016)

India and Singapore launch major naval exercises in South China Sea

Singapore is a tiny city-state that sits at the bottom tip of the peninsula just below the western portion of Malaysia. Singapore was a British colony, and became self-governing in 1959. It was supposed to remain part of Malaysia, but in 1965 it split off due to ethnic tensions, and became an independent republic.

Singapore guards the entrance to the Malacca Strait, a narrow passageway through which trillions of dollars in goods travel each year. Malacca Strait is extremely important to China as a choke point on the "Maritime Silk Road" portion of OBOR. Because of Singapore's strategic importance, it's somewhat surprising that China has bypassed Singapore, and has only signed deals with Malaysia and Indonesia.

Both India and Singapore are fearful of Chinese military attacks. China may invade Singapore as part of an effort to keep the Malacca Straits open, and India has officially expressed concern that China's military may attack the lightly-defended Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which are India's sovereign territory.

This week, India and Singapore are conducting major joint naval exercises called "SIMBEX," taking place in the South China Sea. Each country is fielding numerous warships and aircraft.

According to an Indian navy spokesman:

"This year's edition of SIMBEX, the 24th such bilateral combat exercise, is aimed at further increasing interoperability between the two navies as well as developing common understanding and procedures for maritime security operations.

The thrust of the exercise, with the harbor phase scheduled from May 18 to 20 and the sea phase from May 21 to 24, will be on anti-submarine warfare, integrated operations with surface, air and sub-surface forces, air defense and surface encounter operations."

China's Foreign Ministry commented on the exercises by warning that the activities should "not hurt the interests of other countries," which presumably alludes to China's illegal military bases in the South China Sea:

"If such exercises and cooperation are for the benefits of regional peace and stability, then we have no opposition," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said when asked for China's response by Indian media at a daily briefing.

We hold a very open attitude to normal exchanges between countries. We just hope when relevant countries conduct such exchange and cooperation they should bear in mind such activities not hurt the interests of other countries or have a negative impact to regional peace and stability."

It's generous of China to have an open attitude toward "normal exchanges" between countries. However, China has repeatedly threatened America's "Freedom on Navigation" trips through the South China Sea, and has used its vast military power to prevent Vietnam and the Philippines from even accessing their own sovereign waters.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the closer association between Singapore and India is significant because it puts the strategically important Singapore clearly aligned with the West.

The Independent (Singapore) and India Today and India Times

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-May-17 World View -- China's flagrant snub of Singapore reflects deteriorating ties thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-May-2017) Permanent Link
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24-May-17 World View -- Russian obstructionism blocks agreement on splitting up the Caspian Sea

New 'facts on the ground' may force Russia to change its mind

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russian obstructionism blocks agreement on splitting up the Caspian Sea


Map of Caspian Sea
Map of Caspian Sea

Last week, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said that the five littoral states bordering the Caspian Sea should be able to reach an agreement this year on the legal status of the Caspian Sea -- specifically, dividing up the seabed among the five littoral states. According to Karasin:

"We believe that this [cooperation with the Caspian Sea bordering countries] is one of the most important issues for Russia now, because the Caspian Sea should be an example of cooperation rather than confrontation. We are well aware that the situation in the world is unstable, there is some uncertainty. The Caspian Sea should be a positive example. There are all necessary conditions for that. ...

We are now working to formalize an agreement on the Convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea. We hope that this agreement is within arm’s reach. ...

In a word, one can be optimistic and say that we are on the right track."

History shows that none of this is likely to be true. That's not surprising, since we knows from recent experiences with listening to Russia about invading Ukraine, invading and annexing Crimea, Syria, al-Assad's use of Sarin gas, the Russians' shooting down of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 passenger plane with a Russian Buk 9M38 missile, and so forth, that if Russians ever tell the truth, then it's by accident.

The five littoral states of the Caspian Sea have for decades 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. The disagreements are over the seabed, and particularly control of the vast energy projects built on the seabed.

Prior to 1991, there were only two littoral states -- the Soviet Union and Iran, and the Soviets used their vastly superior and military and economic power to gain the advantage in the Caspian Sea.

When the Soviet Union disintegrated, suddenly there were five littoral states. During the 1990s, the chaos in Russia permitted Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan to begin independent oil and gas development projects. By the end of the 1990s, Vladimir Putin was taking charge, and every form of obstruction was used.

Russia's main number one objective is to prevent gas from reaching Europe, except Russia's gas, delivered by Russia's state-owned Gazprom. That means no Middle Eastern or Central Asian gas reaching Europe. It also means no drilling in the Caspian Sea, and it also means no pipelines crossing the Caspian Sea.

Russia has used a variety of heavy-handed methods to reach its objective. By using its superior economic and military power, Russia was able to force Iran and Armenia to sharply limit pipeline capacities through their countries. In 2003, Gazprom attempted to gain control of Georgia's network of high pressure gas transmission lines, thus blocking any Azerbaijan gas from traveling through Georgia, though the attempt was thwarted by financial aid from US Agency for International Development. Tass (Moscow) and Jamestown and Atlantic Council

New 'facts on the ground' may force Russia to change its mind

In the Caspian Sea, Russia's major weapon was to stir disagreements among the other four littoral states with regard to control of the seabed.

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.

At numerous summit meetings, the Russians have succeeding in provoking disagreements among the countries, with the result that no agreement has been reached in the 26 years since the Soviet Union disintegrated. Since there's no agreement on who owns what, it's been difficult for any country to develop energy projects, which is Russia's objective.

However, Russia's heavy-handed tactics began to backfire. Russia’s four-day interruption of gas supplies to Ukraine in January 2006 caused a surge in Europe’s political resolve to diversify its natural gas supplies and breathed new life into the still fledgling pipeline projects vying to bring Caspian gas to Europe. Russian gas supplies to Central and Southeast Europe were disrupted again from January 6 to 20 in 2009. This longer cutoff coincided with a period of cold weather throughout the region.

This has led to "facts on the ground" that Russia is forced to consider. Azerbaijani state oil company SOCAR has started drilling a new well. Norwegian companies have expressed an interest in working with Iran to drill and explore oil fields in the Caspian Sea. And Mideast countries are beginning to work with Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan on oil and gas projects in the Caspian Sea. All of these energy projects specifically exclude Russia.

For 25 years, Russia has exploited political differences among the other countries to block many pipeline projects, but at the same time, that deadlock has led to expanded contacts between other pairs of littoral states and increased shipping between and among them—again to the exclusion of the Russia.

An even more ominous development for Russia is that since the start of 2017, the amount of cargo passing through Russian ports on the Caspian Sea has fallen, compared to last year, by 48.4%. This figure is striking given that Russian ports elsewhere have seen an 11% increase in traffic over the same period, while the ports of other Caspian littoral states have also grown busier. Such trends are worrisome to Moscow because the decline in traffic at Russia’s Caspian ports is accelerating and putting the country’s regional geopolitical strategy at risk.

At any rate, Russia's deputy foreign minister said that "the Caspian Sea should be an example of cooperation rather than confrontation," and that a legal status agreement should be concluded by the end of the year. And yet, no date has been set for a signing of the legal status agreement, and the setting of such a date is nowhere in sight. Jamestown (George Goble) and Trend (Azerbaijan) and Mehr News (Iran)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-May-17 World View -- Russian obstructionism blocks agreement on splitting up the Caspian Sea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-May-2017) Permanent Link
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23-May-17 World View -- Germany's government blocks debt relief for Greece, despite new austerity measures

Greece's parliament raises taxes, cuts pensions to satisfy lenders

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Greece's parliament raises taxes, cuts pensions to satisfy lenders


Germany's finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble is blocking further debt relief for Greece (Reuters)
Germany's finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble is blocking further debt relief for Greece (Reuters)

We reported in February that after passing one harsh austerity measure after another, Greece may refuse to pass another one, and Greece might actually leave the eurozone this time.

However, Greece's parliament has now passed an omnibus austerity bill in order to meet requirements the lending institutions -- the European Central Bank (ECB), the European Commission (EC), and the International Monetary Fund(IMF). Greece faces a €7.5 billion debt repayment in July, and needs to borrow additional money in order to make that debt repayment.

The terms of bill include the following:

Greece once had an extremely generous pension system. Retirement was possible from as early as the age of 55 after 30 years of work. Public sector employees and women with young children could retire several years earlier. Today, the standard retirement age is 67, and incomes have fallen 40% over the last seven years of crisis.

Under the new bill, there will be some relief measures, contingent on meeting fiscal targets, including benefits for low income groups, support for rental costs up to 1,000 euros annually, increased benefits for parents with children, and subsidies for child care and lower costs for medicines. Kathimerini and Euro News and Kathimerini

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Germany's government blocks debt relief for Greece, despite new austerity measures

Monday's meeting of the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers failed to reach an agreement on further debt relief for Greece, despite the harsh new austerity measures adopted by Greece's parliament.

The main purpose of the talks was to get the IMF to join in the bailout. The IMF doesn't want to provide any more bailout money because it believes that Greece's debt is unsustainable, unless the Eurogroup agrees to give Greece more debt relief.

Germany's irascible Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble won't agree to release new bailout funds to Greece, unless the IMF participates. But with German elections approaching, Schäuble also won't agree to further debt relief for Greece.

Germany's government is split. For months, Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has criticized Schäuble's tough stance on Greece.

Schäuble is in Germany's conservative Christian Democratic Union party. Gabriel is in Germany's Social Democrat party. Gabriel is demanding that debt relief for Greece "must not fail due to German resistance." However, the Germany parliament needs to approve bailout negotiations, and Schäuble responded to Gabriel on Monday:

"In Germany, we have a legal framework for parliamentary involvement ... which is sometimes overlooked, including by members of the German government."

The next meeting will occur in three weeks. Agreement must be reached in time to lend Greece the next tranche of loans to that Greece can make its €7.5 billion debt repayment in July. If Greece fails to make that payment, then it is in default.

This looks like it has all the makings of another major Greek debt crisis, with several all-night meetings in a row, and with agreement finally reached at 5 am on the last possible day to avoid bankruptcy. However, some reports indicate that the Europeans are really sick and tired of those awful crisis weekends, and so they may be motivated to reach an agreement more quickly. Kathimerini and Politico (EU) and Bloomberg

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-May-17 World View -- Germany's government blocks debt relief for Greece, despite new austerity measures thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-May-2017) Permanent Link
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22-May-17 World View -- North Korea test-fires another ballistic missile

Socialist Venezuela again delays eliminating 100-bolivar notes despite hyperinflation

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

North Korea test-fires another ballistic missile


A ballistic rocket launching drill in Pyongyang, North Korea, on March 7, 2017 (Reuters)
A ballistic rocket launching drill in Pyongyang, North Korea, on March 7, 2017 (Reuters)

Eight days after the last one, North Korea test-fired another ballistic missile on Sunday. It flew about 500 km, before falling into the Sea of Japan.

According to North Korea state media, Kim Jong-un "supervised" the test firing, and "analyzed the results of the test-launch and expressed his great satisfaction over them, saying it is perfect."

The new president of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, had promised to begin talks with North Korea in the hopes of convincing them to stop the tests. North Korea has not responded at all to the call for talks, and this latest ballistic missile test appears to be intended as a complete rejection.

Analysts generally are saying that North Korea already has the ability to send a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile to countries and US bases in the region, and that its development is proceeding quickly enough that the ability to send one to the US mainland is in sight.

An opinion writer, Paul Wee, for the Seattle Times explains North Korea's motivations as follows:

"There is something more that needs to be said. In the early 1950s, responding to the North Korean threat, U.S. B-29s, with little opposition, carried out the saturation bombing of villages and towns across the North. The capital, Pyongyang, was 75 percent destroyed with more than 3 million people killed. Over a three-year period, 20 percent of the population was wiped out.

Then Undersecretary of State, Dean Rusk, said that the U.S. bombed “everything that moved in North Korea, every brick standing on top of another.” With the cities in ruins, attention was then given to the destruction of irrigation and hydroelectric dams and the destruction of crops.

Although little is spoken or written about this side of the war, in North Korea it is remembered as if it happened yesterday. During a visit in 1984, I recall billboards along the main roads that purported to graphically document the destruction and convey the enormity of the human suffering."

Here's what I wrote after the last ballistic missile test:

"The United Nations Security Council will meet on Tuesday to discuss the situation. They're expected to issue a statement condemning the missile test, calling it "unacceptable," and threatening that if there's another test then the Security Council will hold another meeting."

Well, not surprisingly, that has turned out to be completely true. South Korea's new president, Moon Jae-in, has called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. AFP and Kyodo and KCNA Watch and Seattle Times

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Socialist Venezuela again delays eliminating 100-bolivar notes despite hyperinflation

Hyperinflation continues in the Socialist economy of Venezuela, with an inflation rate of 93% in just January-April of this year. The country's bolivar currency is down more than 99% since Socialist leader Nicolás Maduro became president in 2013.

Because the currency is becoming almost worthless, Maduro has ordered the elimination of lower-denominated bills. The 100-bolivar bill was supposed to be eliminated in December, but the order has been delayed for the seventh time, and now the elimination is scheduled for July 20.

The 100-bolivar bill is currently worth about 14 US cents, and its value is continuing to fall. The plan is to eliminate it, and print new bills of 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 20,000 bolivars.

No reason has been given for the seventh delay, but in the past the government has been unable to purchase paper because it didn't have enough foreign exchange to be able to pay foreign suppliers.

Throughout history, Socialism has had a 100% failure rate, causing nothing but economic disaster and dead bodies floating down the streets in rivers of blood, while Socialist leaders bask in opulence. Venezuela is headed down the same road, and it won't be long before Maduro orders the army to massacre thousands or tens of thousands of people, so that he can stay in power. Whether Kim Jong-un or Maduro, these Socialist leaders are all the same. Latin American Herald Tribune and Reuters

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-May-17 World View -- North Korea test-fires another ballistic missile thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-May-2017) Permanent Link
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21-May-17 World View -- Iran's younger generations propel Rouhani to decisive presidential win

Donald Trump gets royal treatment visiting Saudi Arabia

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iran's younger generations propel Rouhani to decisive presidential win


Young woman voting in Iran on Friday
Young woman voting in Iran on Friday

Iran's president Hassan Rouhani won an election battle to be decisively re-elected for a second four-year term as president. Rouhani is considered a moderate, and was not favored by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei. Rouhani won 57% of the vote in a large turnout, a huge margin against Khamenei's favored candidate, hardline cleric Ebrahim Raissi, who got only 38% of the votes.

In his victory speech, Rouhani said:

"Honorable Iranian nation, you are the winners of the election. I humbly bow to you. I will remain faithful to my vow to you. ...

Prouder than ever before, Iran is today ready to step up its relations with the world on the basis of mutual respect and national interests.

Our nation’s message (of peace and friendship) was explicitly departed to the world ... and the nation expects this most important message to be correctly heard by all governments, neighbors, and specifically, by great powers. ...

“Our elections indicated to the neighbors and the region that the way to restore security to the region is to shore up democracy and honor the people’s votes rather than to rely on foreign powers. ...

Today, the world is well aware that the Iranian nation has chosen the path of interaction with the world, a path which is distant from extremism and violence. Our nation seeks to live in peace and friendship with the world. However, it is not ready to accept any disrespect or threat. This is our nation’s most important message, and our nation expects the message to be appropriately heard by all states, neighboring countries and, particularly, world powers."

It's an interesting observation that Iran comes second only behind Israel as the most democratic countries in the Mideast.

Analysts indicate the decisive victory comes from the overwhelming support of young people, who came out in large numbers because of opposition to the hardline restrictions on dress, free speech, and gender relations, and because of the widespread belief that Khamenei and the hardliners were using illegal tactics to win the election. Some analysts say that the election was about the economy, but since Rouhani has failed to meet his election promises in the economy, that does not seem to be the reason that Rouhani won. Instead, it appears that young people ignored the economic issues just to vote against the hardline clerics.

As I've written many, many times, Iran is in a generational Awakening era, just one generation past the Great Islamic Revolution of 1979 and the Iran/Iraq war that climaxed in 1988 with Saddam's use of chemical weapons. A generational Awakening era is always about a "generation gap," a political conflict between the generations of traumatized survivors of the preceding generational crisis war and the generations of young people who grew up after the war, and have no personal memory of it. The older and younger generations have completely different world views, and the political conflict continues until there's an Awakening era climax that settles the disputed. America's last Awakening era was the 1960s-70s, marked by the "Summer of Love," as well as widespread political and racial riots, until the Awakening era climax occurred in 1974 with the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

Iran is also headed for some kind of Awakening era climax, pitting the younger generations, current represented by Hassan Rouhani, versus the traumatized Great Islamic Revolution survivors, currently represented by Ebrahim Raissi and Ayatollah Khamenei.

Rouhani's decisive electoral victory is not enough to be called an Awakening era climax, but it could trigger events that could lead to such a climax. During the campaign, Rouhani bitterly criticized his political opponents, including Raissi's supporters and the powerful Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) which enforces many of the hardline laws. Now that the election is over, hardliners are expected to "settle scores," and this could result in a major political battle of a kind similar to the one that led to Nixon's resignation.

In fact, there is a particularly bitter battle on the horizon. Khamenei has been Supreme Leader since 1989, but he's 77 years old, and is in poor health, so there's a succession battle approaching. This succession battle may trigger the Awakening era climax that we've been describing. Tehran Times and Reuters and The Hindu

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Brief generational history of Iran and Saudi Arabia

As I've been writing for over ten years, Generational Dynamics predicts that Iran will be an American ally in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, which will pit the US, India, Russia, Iran and the west against China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries.

Now would be a good time to briefly reprise the reasons for the prediction that Iran will be an American ally. There are two major categories of reasons.

Now would also be a good time to reprise the three events of 1979 that shook the Muslim world in the Mideast and beyond, and how they affect events today:

Needless to say, Americans today are totally oblivious to the events described here, but these were epochal events in the history of the Arab, Persian and Muslim worlds in the Mideast and beyond, and they define what's happening in the Mideast today.

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Donald Trump gets royal treatment visiting Saudi Arabia

President Donald Trump visited Saudi Arabia on Saturday, on the first leg of his five-nation tour. The first three visits will be to the centers of the Abrahamic religions -- Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, Jerusalem, and the Vatican. After that, he'll visit Brussels, the capital of the European Union, and then Taormina Italy for the G-7 meeting.

Trump was received like visiting royalty in Saudi Arabia. Trump, his wife Melania, and his senior White House staff were serenaded by military bands, treated to a flyover of Saudi jets, feted in opulent palaces and given the undivided attention of Saudi's 81 year old King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud.

Trump and Salman signed an agreement for the sale of $110 billion of military equipment to Saudi Arabia over several years. The deal includes tanks, combat ships, missile defense systems, radar and communications, and cybersecurity technology. Trump was joined on the trip by the CEOs of several major U.S. companies, which announced their own agreements with the Saudis. Among them was a $15 billion arrangement with GE focused on power, oil and gas, and health care.

What's most interesting about Trump's visit is the symbolic flip-flop from the previous administration to the current one in attitudes towards Iran and Saudi Arabia.

President Barack Obama repeatedly showed his contempt, in one way or another, for the Saudis, and the feeling was mutual. However Obama, through his Secretary of State John Kerry who believes that America's soldiers are terrorists, repeatedly sucked up to the Iranians, making one humiliating concession after another to close the nuclear deal. However, the feeling was not mutual, as Iran repeatedly insulted Kerry, Obama, and the American people, and still does.

So now president Trump has made a symbolic reversal. Trump is contemptuous of the Iranians, and the Iranians are contemptuous of him. Trump loves the Saudis, and the Saudis love him.

This is a good time to remind readers that 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 the relations between American, Iranian and Saudi leaders is much less important than the attitudes that the masses of Americans, Saudis and Iranians have for one another.

So we note the following:

I believe that a great deal of information can be determined by detailed generational analyses of the various tribes and ethnic groups in the Mideast. I believe that this analysis could be used to predict how events will unfold in the coming years. I certainly don't have anything like the resources to perform such an analysis, but any college student interested in this kind of analysis could make an invaluable contribution to understanding what's going on in the world today by taking on, as a thesis topic, a generational analysis of the tribes and ethnic groups in the Mideast. AP and Arab News

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-May-17 World View -- Iran's younger generations propel Rouhani to decisive presidential win thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-May-2017) Permanent Link
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20-May-17 World View -- France's new president Macron commits troops to Mali 'as long as necessary'

A riddle

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

France's new president Macron commits troops to Mali 'as long as necessary'


France has peacekeeping troops in five Sahel nations -- Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad (TRT World)
France has peacekeeping troops in five Sahel nations -- Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad (TRT World)

France's new president Emmanuel Macron fulfilled a campaign promise on Friday by visiting the French peacekeeping troops in Mali, in his first official trip outside Europe since taking office less than a week ago.

There are 4,000 French peacekeeping troops in Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas operation, which was begun in 2014 by then-president François Hollande, with a vow to "wipe out armed terrorist groups."

The French troops are in five West African nations in the Sahel region, which is a strip of land running horizontally across Africa from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea. Generally speaking, it separates the Arab north from Black Africa, along a fault line that often separates Muslims north of the Sahel from Christians south of the Sahel. The Sahel cuts through the five countries with French peacekeeping forces: Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad.

Macron said that France would be "uncompromising" in its fight against militant Islamists in Mali and the other nations, and vowed that France's military operations would continue until the jihadists are eradicated. According to Macron, "Operation Barkhane will only stop when there is no more Islamist terrorism in the region." France 24 and Radio France Internationale and BBC

UN peacekeeping forces grow as jihadist attacks increase and Mali

The three largest transnational jihadist groups in Mali are al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West-Africa (MUJAO), and al-Mourabitoun, created by Mokhtar Belmokhtar.

However, probably the most important terrorist group in Mali is Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith), a local terrorist group from the Tuareg ethnic group. The Tuaregs live in a region spanning northern Mali, large parts of Algeria and Niger, and the southwestern portion of Libya.

The Tuaregs had what arguably might be called a "lucky break" in 2011, when Libya's dictator Muammar Gaddafi was killed. To protect himself, Gaddafi had armed and employed mercenaries, many of whom were Tuareg. When Gaddafi died, the Tuaregs were left with a big weapons cache, which they used to begin a separatist rebellion in Mali.

Central Mali has seen a sharp increase in jihadist attacks and ethnic violence since 2015. The United Nations has had an existing peacekeeping force of 12,000 troops in Mali called MINUSMA since July 2013.

The UN is deploying a rapid intervention force of Senegalese troops to central Mali. China is sending a peacekeeping force of 395 troops to Mali before the end of May.

However, Canada's prime minister Justin Trudeau is receiving criticism for failing to meet his campaign promise of providing to the UN 600 Canadian troops for peacekeeping. Instead, has kept postponing the question, refusing to say whether or not the Canadian troops would be supplied. Trudeau's equivocation is causing problems for other countries supplying peacekeeping troops. As one foreign diplomat said, "Just make a decision. Even if it’s a no, we need a decision." TRT World (Istanbul) and News 24 (South Africa) and Premium Times (Nigeria) and National Post (Ottawa)

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A riddle

Question: What do Trump and the Mainstream Media have in common with onald and Nancy Reagan?

Answer: They're obsessed with each other.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-May-17 World View -- France's new president Macron commits troops to Mali 'as long as necessary' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-May-2017) Permanent Link
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19-May-17 World View -- US warplanes strike Syrian regime military convoy near al-Tanf base

Al-Tanf becomes a military flash point because of strategic value

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

US warplanes strike Syrian regime military convoy near al-Tanf base


Al-Tanf is on the Syrian side of Iraq's al-Waleed border crossing, and is on the strategic Route 1 highway between Baghdad and Damascus
Al-Tanf is on the Syrian side of Iraq's al-Waleed border crossing, and is on the strategic Route 1 highway between Baghdad and Damascus

American warplanes launched a series of airstrikes on Thursday against a military convoy of pro-regime militias fighting in Syria. This is the second time in the last few months that American forces have intentionally struck military targets supporting the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad.

The first time occurred in April, when American ships in the eastern Mediterranean Sea launched dozens of cruise missiles at the al-Shayrat Airbase in Syria. That airbase was chosen because it's the base from which Bashar al-Assad one week earlier launched a horrific Sarin gas on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province, killing up to 100 people.

Thursday's attack was on a pro-Syrian regime convoy headed in the direction of an American training camp at the border town al-Tanf in Syria, near the border with Iraq and close to the Jordan border.

Originally there were thirteen vehicles in the convoy headed for al-Tanf. US warplanes were scrambled in a "show of force" to dissuade the convoy from proceeding further. According to some reports, there were "Russian attempts to dissuade pro-regime movement."

After the show of force, five of the vehicles continued approaching the base. When they were within 29 km of the base, they were hit by US aircraft.

It's believed that the militia forces in the convoy were not from the regular Syrian army, but were Shia militias coming either directly from Iran or from Iran's puppet Hizbollah militia in Lebanon. Although some vehicles were destroyed, it's not known whether there were any casualties. AFP and CBS/AP

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Al-Tanf becomes a military flash point because of strategic value

Al-Tanf is a Syrian border town on the other side of the border with the Iraq town of al-Waleed, which is a major border crossing between Iraq and Syria. The two towns lie on Route 1, the principal highway that runs between Iraq's capital Baghdad and Syria's capital Damascus, and also forks off to Jordan's capital Amman.

Militants from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) captured the al-Waleed border crossing two years ago in May, 2015, during the sweep that gave ISIS control of a great deal of territory in Syria and Iraq. As ISIS faced numerous counterattacks, al-Waleed was recaptured from ISIS by the Free Syrian Army in May of 2016. Even though it's no longer under ISIS control, it still retains enormous strategic value. ISIS fighters have repeatedly attacked the al-Tanf base, and had to be repelled by US Special Operations Forces.

Two days ago, Iranian state Fars news agency said the following:

"The sources said that the Hezbollah Movement has deployed 12 regiments with 1,000 fighters to Homs, Dara'a and Quneitra to face the US-backed militants in al-Tanf border crossing and foil Washington's plan for the capture of Deir Ezzur.

The sources said that the Syrian Army troops and their popular allies are trying hard to intensify their operations in Badiyeh (desert) to reach the border with Iraq and Jordan to prevent the militants backed up by the US and Jordan from attacking Deir Ezzur via the Syrian border with Jordan."

The border crossing is at the intersection of Syria, Iraq and Jordan, and Route 1 also forks off into Jordan, linking up to the capital city Amman. Reports indicate that there has been increased military activity in the region, and that there is a race to reach the border between US, British and Jordanian special forces, on the one hand, and Syrian, Hezbollah and Iranian forces on the other hand. BBC (22-May-2015) and Fars (Tehran) and CNN and Debka

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-May-17 World View -- US warplanes strike Syrian regime military convoy near al-Tanf base thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-May-2017) Permanent Link
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18-May-17 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan leaves empty-handed as his security forces attack protesters in Washington

Washington shocked as Turkey's security forces attack peaceful protesters

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Washington shocked as Turkey's security forces attack peaceful protesters


Erdogan and Trump after their meeting on Tuesday (AP)
Erdogan and Trump after their meeting on Tuesday (AP)

It's common to read about national security forces in other countries bashing peaceful anti-government protesters, but it's a shock for it to happen in Washington DC. But that's what happened on Tuesday evening, when Turkey's security forces brutally attacked peaceful protesters in front of the Turkish embassy.

The attacks occurred shortly after Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with president Donald Trump in the White House, and then returned to the Turkish embassy.

Witnesses, backed by social media video, say that Erdogan's security forces broke through DC police lines and attacked protesters outside the embassy carrying the flag of the Kurdish PYD party.

Some social media video shows Turkish officials dressed in suits beating and punching people in the crowd and, in at least one case, kicking out at a woman lying on the ground curled up to protect herself.

The PYD is a left-wing Kurdish political party in Syria affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a terrorist group that has conducted numerous terrorist attacks in Turkey, and has conducted an on-and-off civil war in Turkey for decades. There were 11 people hurt, including on US police officer. Washington DC police called in reinforcements and separated the two sides, making two arrests.

It's possible that the perpetrators of the attack cannot be prosecuted because they have diplomatic immunity. However, some analysts say that diplomatic immunity does not apply to the security detail traveling with a foreign leader.

This is not the first such incident. In March of last year, Erdogan was on his way to visit the Brookings Institute in Washington to give a speech. While he was en route, Erdogan's security personnel kicked both Turkish and Western journalists and protesters in front of the Brookings building.

An even worse incident occurred in Ankara in December of last year, when a member of Turkey's security forces shot and killed Russia's ambassador to Turkey.

The US State Dept issued this statement on Wednesday morning:

"We are concerned by the violent incidents involving protestors and Turkish security personnel Tuesday evening. Violence is never an appropriate response to free speech, and we support the rights of people everywhere to free expression and peaceful protest.

We are communicating our concern to the Turkish government in the strongest possible terms."

NY Times and Times of Israel and US News and Foreign Policy (1-Apr-2016) and US State Dept.

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Turkey's Erdogan leaves empty-handed from meeting with Trump

Turkey's media are putting a positive spin on the outcome of Tuesday's meeting of Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan with president Donald Trump. They're emphasizing the friendly smiles and handshakes, as well as the "new awakening" in relations between the two countries, without focusing on the fact that Erdogan left the meeting empty-handed.

Erdogan had two major agenda items for the meeting:

However, Trump and Erdogan did agree that they should both "fight terror."

The meeting between Trump and Erdogan lasted only 22 minutes, suggesting that it might have been simply a preparatory meeting for further negotiations in the future. VOA and Hurriyet (Turkey) and Daily Sabah (Turkey)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-May-17 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan leaves empty-handed as his security forces attack protesters in Washington thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-May-2017) Permanent Link
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17-May-17 World View -- Central African Republic violence threatens new spread of Ebola from Congo

CAR refugees threaten to spread Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Christian vs Muslim violence continues to spread across Central African Republic


Hospital in Bangassou, Central African Republic, where civilians are fleeing violence (MSF)
Hospital in Bangassou, Central African Republic, where civilians are fleeing violence (MSF)

The generational crisis civil war in Central African Republic (CAR) has been going on since 2013, when nomadic mostly-Muslim herder tribes form "Séléka" militias and began committing atrocities against Christians, triggering revenge attacks by Christians who formed "anti-Balaka" militias and began committing atrocities against Muslims.

Since then, United Nations peacekeeping forces have been usually able to keep the two sides apart within Bangui, the nation's capital. But CAR is a huge country, and sectarian atrocities with Christian anti-Balaka militias massacring and committing atrocities against Muslim Séléka people, and vice-versa, has continued and grown across the country, especially in rural areas that are completely out of reach of UN peacekeeping forces.

In March, I reported on tribal violence in Bambari and Bria, in the center of the country. What was different about that situation is that the fault lines were more ethnic than religious: farmer tribes and herder tribes are aligning against each other, sometimes ignoring religion. New reports indicate that violence in that region continues, despite efforts by UN peacekeepers.

Now there are reports of major new and growing violence in and around the town of Bangassou, a border town in southeastern CAR on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Armed anti-Balaka militias attacked Muslim neighborhoods, killing dozens of civilians in several villages.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, violence is spreading and growing in rural areas in the southeast, center and western portions of CAR:

"Violence and rising tensions are spreading to areas of the Central African Republic that had previously been spared the kinds of terrifying violence seen in some other parts of the country – this is highly worrying and should set off loud alarm bells.

The hard-earned relative calm in Bangui and some of the bigger towns in CAR risks being eclipsed by the descent of some rural areas into increasing sectarian violence, with defenseless civilians – as usual – paying the highest price."

From the point of Generational Dynamics, none of this is surprising. 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 civil war has already started.

The United Nations officials hope that by sending a few hundred peacekeepers here and there, they can get the entire country to go back to the way they were in 2013, but that's not the way generational crisis wars work. This war has to expend a great deal more violence before it can end and, like every generational crisis war, will not end until there's some kind of explosive genocidal climax that will be remembered for decades, or even centuries. UN Office of Human Relations and Relief Web and Reuters and Anadolu

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CAR refugees threaten to spread Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo

Thousands of families have been running from the violence in the border town Bangassou in southeastern CAR, and fleeing into northern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Concerns have been raised because there is a new outbreak of the Ebola virus in a remote DRC region about 250 km from the CAR border, and it's feared that some CAR civilians might become sick and carry the virus back to CAR, where it could spread rapidly.

As of Monday's situation report, the World Health Organization (WHO) has identified 19 cases of Ebola in the northern region of the DRC, with 3 deaths. The DRC strain is the deadliest known, more deadly than the Ebola strain that spread through western Africa two years ago. The WHO hopes that the lessons learned from the last epidemic will be successfully used to prevent a new epidemic. Already, emergency plans are being set up in airports to prevent the spread from country to country.

This is the eighth outbreak of Ebola virus since it was discovered in the DRC in 1976. Center for Infectious Disease Research (CIDRAP) and Independent (South Africa) and Vanguard (Nigeria)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-May-17 World View -- Central African Republic violence threatens new spread of Ebola from Congo thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-May-2017) Permanent Link
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16-May-17 World View -- Final push to expel ISIS from Raqqa, Syria, to begin in June

Syria's Bashar al-Assad accused of burning thousands of political opponents in crematorium

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Syria's Bashar al-Assad accused of burning thousands of political opponents in crematorium


The Yarmouk refugee camp for Palestinians, in Damascus, Syria, in 2014 (Getty)
The Yarmouk refugee camp for Palestinians, in Damascus, Syria, in 2014 (Getty)

By this time nothing should surprise us about the psychopathic depravity of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. In 2014, a forensic photographic nicknamed "Caesar" defected from al-Assad's regime with tens of thousands of photos whom al-Assad had tortured using electrocution, eye-gouging, rape, strangulation, starvation, and beating on prisoners on a massive "industrial strength" scale. Al-Assad was so pleased and proud of this torture that he made sure each act was photographed.

In February, Amnesty International released a report based on interviews with 84 people that thousands of peaceful demonstrators had been brought to Saydnaya prison for the kind of extreme torture just described. As many as 50 prisoners per day were taken out of their cells and executed, with their bodies thrown into mass graves.

On Monday, the US State Dept. provided further insight into the execution of prisoners at Saydnaya prison. Apparent al-Assad was motivated by the concern that these huge mass graves might be discovered and show him in an unfavorable light. And so, the State Dept. says that in 2013 al-Assad took one of the buildings adjoining the Saydnaya prison and turned it into a crematorium, so that the bodies of the executed prisoners could be burnt to ashes, rather than thrown into huge mass graves.

According to the State Dept:

"The facts we’re presenting today are based on reporting from international and local nongovernmental organizations, press reporting, and also Intelligence Community assessments. The continued brutality of the Assad regime, including its use of chemical weapons, presents a clear threat to regional stability and security as well as to the national security interests of the United States and our allies. ...

Moreover, the regime has also authorized the extrajudicial killings of thousands of detainees using mass hangings at the Saydnaya military prison. Saydnaya is a 45-minute drive outside of Damascus and is one of Syria’s largest and most secure prison complexes. Saydnaya is but one of many detention facilities where prisoners are being held and abused. ...

The regime holds as many as 70 prisoners in Saydnaya in cells that have a five-person capacity. And according to multiple sources, the regime is responsible for killing as many as 50 detainees per day at Saydnaya. Credible sources have believed that many of the bodies have been disposed in mass graves. We now believe that the Syrian regime has installed a crematorium in the Saydnaya prison complex which could dispose of detainees’ remains with little evidence.

Beginning in 2013, the Syrian regime modified a building within the Saydnaya complex to support what we believe is a crematorium, as shown in the photos that we have distributed to you. Although the regime’s many atrocities are well documented, we believe that the building of a crematorium is an effort to cover up the extent of mass murders taking place in Saydnaya prison."

There is speculation that the State Dept released this information at this time in order to put pressure on Russia to rein in Bashar al-Assad from committing new atrocities. US State Dept and Reuters

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Final push to expel ISIS from Raqqa, Syria, to begin in June

Rojda Felat, commander of the Kurdish Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) in Syria, which is part of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the “Euphrates Wrath Operation” to liberate Raqqa from ISIS, said that the attack will be launched in June: "The attack on Raqqa will take place in the beginning of the summer."

It's believed that there are almost 4,000 fighters from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) in Raqqa, which is the ISIS "caliphate" and major stronghold. The SDF is joining with the elders of Raqqa's tribes to surrender:

"We call upon all Syrians who joined the ranks of ISIS and those who carry arms, administrators or preachers, to surrender themselves to the nearest military base of the SDF to preserve his or her life and family, and the city from destruction. We are ready to provide all relief and humanitarian support to those who surrender within a maximum of ten days."

The SDF consists mostly of Kurdish fighters from the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG), along with a lesser number of fighters from the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Once Raqqa is captured, the plan is to go down the Euphrates Valley and completely destroy ISIS, which currently controls about 35% of Syria.

The United States military has been gradually increasing its involvement with the SDF, which it backs. It's believed that there are about 700-1,000 US special forces troops in the area. Several hundred are being sent mainly to protect the Kurds from Turkey's military.

Last week, the US military announced that it will move quickly to get weapons, including small arms, mortars, heavy machine guns, shoulder-fired weapons and ammunition, into the hands of the YPG Kurds for use in fighting ISIS. The US considers the YPG to be the most effective fighting force in Syria against ISIS.

Turkish officials are furious at this, since they consider arming the Kurds to be an existential threat to Turkey. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has conducted numerous terrorist attacks within Turkey, and has conducted an on-and-off civil war in Turkey for decades.

Turkey's president Tayyip Recep Erdogan will be visiting president Donal Trump in Washington today (Tuesday), and Syria will be a major topic on the agenda. ARA News (Syria) and Al Arabiya and Sputnik News (Moscow)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-May-17 World View -- Final push to expel ISIS from Raqqa, Syria, to begin in June thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-May-2017) Permanent Link
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15-May-17 World View -- North Korea sends a message with a medium range ballistic missile test

North Korean missile launch sends a message to everyone

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

North Korea launches medium-range ballistic missile


South Koreans in a Seoul railway station on Sunday morning watch North Korea's ballistic missile test (AP)
South Koreans in a Seoul railway station on Sunday morning watch North Korea's ballistic missile test (AP)

North Korea's state media says that the country launched a medium-range ballistic missile on Sunday, capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

According to state media, the child dictator Kim Jong-un personally "guided the test-fire," and bragged about its nuclear prowess:

"Pyongyang, May 15 (KCNA) -- A test-fire of new ground-to-ground medium long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 was successfully carried out on Sunday by scientists and technicians in the field of rocket research, who are bravely advancing toward a new goal to be proud of in the world, true to the far-sighted idea of Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea, chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK and supreme commander of the Korean People's Army, for building a nuclear power.

Kim Jong Un guided the test-fire on the spot. ...

He declared that the DPRK is a nuclear power worthy of the name whether someone recognizes it or not. He stressed the DPRK will keep strict control over those engaging themselves in nuclear blackmail with its nuclear deterrence which has been unimaginably and rapidly developed."

The missile traveled almost 500 miles in 30 minutes, and landed in the Sea of Japan, surrounded by the Korean peninsula, about 60 miles south of Russia’s Vladivostok region and approximately 250 miles from Japan.

The missile was launched at the highest possible angle, so that it would travel high into the air, but would limit the lateral distance, and so it reached an altitude of about 1,300 miles. If it had been fired at a standard trajectory, then it would have had a range of at least 2,500 miles, meaning that it could have reached Russia and Japan, and probably the US base at Guam.

Initial reports speculated that it had been an advanced KN-15 missile, from a mobile launcher and with a solid-fuel engine. The mobile launcher allows the missile to be hidden until minutes before launch, and the solid-fuel engine allows it to be ready to launch immediately at any time.

However, it's now believed that it was a KN-17 missile, a single-stage, liquid-fueled missile. Tests with both the KN-15 and KN-17 missiles provide experience and data for ongoing development of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could reach Australia or the United States.

The United Nations Security Council will meet on Tuesday to discuss the situation. They're expected to issue a statement condemning the missile test, calling it "unacceptable," and threatening that if there's another test then the Security Council will hold another meeting. KCNA Watch and 38 North and Fox News and Reuters

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North Korean missile launch sends a message to everyone

The timing of the missile launch on Sunday sends messages to officials in various countries:

North Korea's biggest message of all is that development of a nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles is going to continue, at least until North Korea has an intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach Los Angeles, and that it will do so despite the wishes of China or any other country.. CNN and Korea Times and Yonhap (Seoul) and The Australian and LA Times

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-May-17 World View -- North Korea sends a message with a medium range ballistic missile test thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-May-2017) Permanent Link
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14-May-17 World View -- China launches 'One Belt One Road', raising objections and violent protests

Laborers on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) shot dead on Saturday

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China forum launches the decades-long 'One Belt One Road' project


China's 'One Belt One Road' project will include overland and maritime trade routes between China and Europe (CNN)
China's 'One Belt One Road' project will include overland and maritime trade routes between China and Europe (CNN)

On Sunday, 28 heads of state, 100 lower-level government officials, and 1,200 delegates from 110 countries will attend China's "One Belt One Road" (OBOR) forum in Beijing. It is also called the "Belt and Road Initiative" (BRI) summit.

The romantic appeal behind the Belt and Road project is that it's a modern day version of the ancient "Silk Road," a collection of trade routes regularly used between 100 BC to 1400 AD by traders carrying goods back and forth between China and Europe. The name comes from the popularity of Chinese silk in the Roman Empire.

However, as the map above shows, the new Silk Road is not simply an overland route. The Belt and Road project consists of two parts:

The OBOR includes infrastructure projects that have already been under development since the 1990s. China plans to invest hundreds of billions of dollars over the next 50 years or so to complete the project.

Whether the project will ever be completed is, of course, open to doubt. There's already been one large, spectacular failure. In 2009, China invested $1.2 billion in Sri Lanka's Hambantota seaport. Sri Lanka had expected to repay the debt through profits earned by the port, but the slowdown in trade throughout the entire region in the last few years has meant that Sri Lanka has been unable to repay the debt, and now China has essentially taken over the port in lieu of repayment of the debt, resulting in violent protests by Sri Lanka's Buddhist monks and anti-government protesters.

Because the project is so expensive, so long-term, and so unrealistic, many people are suspicious that China's motives are more complex. The Sri Lanka port project shows what can happen -- China invests a lot of money in an infrastructure project in a country, and thereby gains political influence or sovereignty in the country, or even ownership of the infrastructure. Even if the OBOR is never completed, a successful outcome for China would be a strong economic and military grip in countries throughout the region. South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and CNN and China Daily and Time

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Laborers on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) shot dead on Saturday

One part of the Belt and Road initiative is known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Over 10-20 years, at a cost of $46 billion, CPEC will supposedly build a network of roads, railways and energy pipelines aiming to connect western Chinese cities, starting from China's easternmost city Kashgar in Xinjiang province, to the sea port in Gwadar on the Indian Ocean in Balochistan province in southern Pakistan. It will have both economic and military components. Power generation, transport, commerce, R&D and the defense of Pakistan all will be increasingly tied to Chinese investment, supplies and interests.

(The CNN map above does not depict the CPEC project. Nor does it depict the "Caspian Trade Corridor" which is also part of OBOR.)

On Saturday, ten laborers working in southern Balochistan province on the CPEC infrastructure were shot dead at close range. Pakistan's marginalized Baloch ethnic group has been opposed to CPEC from the beginning, as they see it as incorporating the worst of China's investment practices.

As we reported in March, some Pakistani analysts concluded that China will charge Pakistan exorbitant interest rates for the debt that it incurs. Balochs are opposed because the project will result in an inflow of more than 600,000 Chinese people -- Chinese workers and their families -- diluting that Baloch population. Baloch activists claim that whatever economic benefits the CPEC project will bring to Pakistan, most of the benefits will go to the favored Punjab province. The CPEC project will use up all of Balochistan's natural resources, and the Baloch people will get nothing from it.

The killing of CPEC workers on Saturday highlights the massive security concerns that will accompany the project. There will be 600,000 Chinese workers entering Pakistan every year, and they will be targets of jihadist terror groups. These will include Afghan Uzbeks affiliated with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).

India is boycotting Sunday's forum in China to express its objections to the CPEC plan, since it includes massive infrastructure projects in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir that will affect India-controlled Kashmir as well. According to an Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman, "The international community is well aware of India’s position. No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity." Reuters and The Nation (Pakistan) and The Hindu and India Today

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-May-17 World View -- China launches 'One Belt One Road', raising objections and violent protests thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-May-2017) Permanent Link
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13-May-17 World View -- Canada receives record numbers of Mexican asylum seekers after Trudeau's welcome tweet

MSF: Central American refugees entering Mexico are regularly beaten and tortured

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

MSF: Central American refugees entering Mexico are regularly beaten and tortured


Migrants board 'La Bestia' (The Beast) in southern Mexico to travel to the US border.  (AP, 2014)
Migrants board 'La Bestia' (The Beast) in southern Mexico to travel to the US border. (AP, 2014)

According to a new report by Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières - MSF) an estimated 500,000 migrants cross the border from Central America into Mexico each year. Many of these migrants are fleeing violence in what MSF calls the Northern Triangle of Central America (NCTA), consisting of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.

However, their countries of origin aren't limited to those in Central America. In just a few days in September of last year, there was a surge of almost 5,000 Haitian, African and Asian migrants entering by Mexico's southern border. None of these migrants requested permission to stay in Mexico, as they all wanted to reach the United States. The huge sudden surge of migrants overwhelmed officials at US border crossings in California.

Most migrants enter Mexico in the hope of continuing through Mexico to the United States. The MSF says that as they travel through Mexico, they're often victimized by kidnapping, extortion, rape, assault, torture and murder by criminal organizations, often with the tacit approval of Mexican authorities. 68.3% of migrants and refugees surveyed by MSF reported having been victims of violence on the transit route to the United States.

In 2014, under pressure from the United States, Mexico instituted increasingly harsh border-control measures in the form of Plan Frontera Sur, a Mexican crackdown on border security funded in part by the U.S. This change in Mexico's policy has substantially increased the likelihood that the refugees will face violence, since the crackdown forces refugees to depend on human traffickers and travel on underground routes operated with impunity by organized crime.

In February, during the first month of Donald Trump's administration, Mexican officials met with US military officials to try to find common ground on immigration and other issues. The relationship between the United States and Mexico has become strained after president Trump vowed to build a wall between the two countries to keep out illegal immigrants, drug dealers and criminals and make Mexico pay for it. Details of the meeting were not released.

To resolve the humanitarian crisis, MSF calls on governments across the region – mainly El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Canada, and the US – to ensure better alternatives to detention and deportation to countries of origin where they'll be once again subject to violence. These countries should increase their formal resettlement and family reunification quotas. Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières - MSF) and Reuters (2-Feb) and AP (25-Sep-2016) and iPolitics (Canada)

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Canada receives record numbers of Mexican asylum seekers after Trudeau's welcome tweet

Mexicans are seeking asylum in Canada at a rate four times greater than in 2016. The first three months of 2017 already saw more cases recorded than in the entire year 2016.

One reason for the surge is president Trump's travel ban, announced in January, which raised concern in refugees that they might be prevented from entering the United States. Instead of trying to cross the border into the US, they get on a plane that takes them to the airport in Vancouver, British Columbia, in Canada.

The second reason is that Canada's prime minister Justin Trudeau invited them in. In 2016, Trudeau eliminated a visa requirement, imposed in 2008, for Mexicans traveling to Canada. The visa requirement sharply reduced the number of migrants, until it was lifted.

In addition, Trudeau decided to react to Trump's travel ban by tweeting the following on January 28:

"To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength[1] #WelcomeToCanada"

Trudeau's tweet was followed by a picture of him greeting a refugee family. The two tweets garnered over a million likes and half-a-million retweets,

The Canadian government has threatened to reinstate the visa requirement, and has told the Mexican government that it will do so if asylum claims continue to increase. Canadian Broadcasting (16-Apr) and Daily Caller (17-Apr) and Canadian Broadcasting (3-Apr)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-May-17 World View -- Canada receives record numbers of Mexican asylum seekers after Trudeau's welcome tweet thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-May-2017) Permanent Link
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12-May-17 World View -- Obamacare continues total meltdown as Aetna pulls out completely

Britain's NHS patients wait for months just to get bowel cancer tests

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Obamacare continues total meltdown as Aetna pulls out completely


CNBC reporter Bertha Coombs is furious that Aetna is pulling out of Virginia Obamacare (CNBC)
CNBC reporter Bertha Coombs is furious that Aetna is pulling out of Virginia Obamacare (CNBC)

Obamacare continued its multi-year meltdown and death spiral on Wednesday when Aetna said it will completely leave the Obamacare business at the end of the year. According to Aetna:

"Our individual commercial products lost nearly $700 million between 2014 and 2016, and are projected to lose more than $200 million in 2017 despite a significant reduction in membership."

Obamacare would have collapsed on day one, but President Obama confiscated $716 billion in the Medicare insurance fund to providing funding for Obamacare entities. This is money that workers have been paying into the fund for decades, and Obama just blew it all away.

The signs that Obamacare was collapsing have been clear now for almost two years, as several large insurance companies, UnitedHealthCare, Humana, BlueCross BlueShield, and others, have announced partial or complete pullouts from Obamacare because of massive financial losses. Aetna had previously announced a partial pullout, but now the pullout is complete.

There have been astronomical price increases on health insurance in each year of Obamacare, and the next year is no exception. The first states to make their filings public for next year are Maryland, Virginia and Connecticut, and they're announcing premium increases of more than 20%.

Furthermore, fully 1/3 of the counties in the United States have only one insurance option available.

This is exactly what I predicted in 2009, shortly after Obamacare was first announced, when I called it a proposal of economic insanity.

The reason I knew what would happen is because I remember well what happened with President Richard Nixon's price controls in the early 1970s. They were supposed to lower the inflation rate from 4% to 2%. Instead, the inflation rate surged to 12%.

Let me repeat that. The inflation rate had been 4%. Nixon wanted to reduce it to 2% with wage-price controls. Instead, it went up to 12%.

One thing that I remember well is that farmers were killing baby chickens because chickens were price-controlled, but chicken feed was not. So if the farmers allowed the chickens to grow, then it would cost more to feed than the price Nixon's controls would allow the farmer to sell the chicken. It was an absolute disaster for the economy, and the economy didn't recover for a full decade. This shows how Nixon's controls so thoroughly destroyed the American economy, resulting it huge inflation rates.

I predicted that the same thing would happen with Obamacare, and that prediction was 100% correct. The reason I knew what would happen is because I still remembered Nixon's price controls. Health insurance inflation is now increasing at over 20% per year, and insurers are dropping out because it costs more to insure them than the premiums that they're allowed to collect.

Furthermore, millions more people than ever are effectively uninsured, either because the deductibles are so high that they can't collect insurance, or because they can't find a doctor that will accept their Medicaid insurance.

Obamacare has been a total disaster. It's destroyed the health insurance industry so thoroughly that it's causing huge rate increase, and the health insurance industry will take ten years to recover.

In 2015, I spent three months doing a detailed analysis of Obamacare, and wrote an article about it.

I was absolutely stunned by the sheer stupidity of this law. One example is "Risk Corridors." If an insurer is profitable, then the insurer pays profits into a "risk corridor fund" set up by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). If the insurer is losing money, then that insurer receives money out of the fund.

As I drilled down into this, I couldn't believe what I was reading. Why would any insurer even try to be profitable, if their profits were simply going to be confiscated? If an insurer had some extra money, they might as well spend it, since they were going to lose the money anyway.

Risk Corridors is just one example of some of the stupidest things I've ever seen, and it shows the stupidity of the people in the Obama administration who pushed this piece of crap.

So now Obamacare is totally collapsing, and the Democrats and Republicans are jockeying to see who's going to get the blame as the disaster unfolds. It makes you want to vomit, but that's nothing new in Washington these days. Reuters and Bloomberg and Daily Signal

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Britain's NHS patients wait for months just to get bowel cancer tests

According to new figures published on Thursday, patients in Britain's National Health Service have to wait several months to get diagnostic tests when they're suspected of having bowel cancer. This is one of the most lethal forms of cancer, and patients could die in the meantime.

The mainstream media in Britain rarely mentions this, and you never hear it from the American media, but Britain's National Health Service is a growing financial disaster that is near collapse. As I've been reporting since 2015, Britain's National Health Service (NHS) is facing an existential crisis, with a huge and accelerating deficit expected to reach 22 billion pounds ($32 billion) by 2020.

You would think that at least emergency situations would be covered adequately by the NHS, but the bowel cancer example shows that they're not.

The financial crisis has caused so many hospitals to close that there was a shortage of beds early this year, and patients arriving in ambulances had to remain outside the hospital in the ambulances for several hours, until a bed could be made available.

My favorite example is that if you have a toothache, then it can take a couple of months to get an appointment with a dentist, so you'd have to live with your toothache for a couple of months. Dentistry services are so bad that people are buying "do-it-yourself (DIY) dentistry kits" to take care of their whole families, as was done in the Middle Ages.

Whenever anyone talks to me about Obamacare, they tell me about how they like getting subsidized health care, or they like to be able to wait until they're actually sick before they get health insurance. Well, it's nice to get things for free, isn't it? I know that I've always loved getting things for free. It's so nice. Unfortunately, it leads to financial disaster, as happened with Nixon's price controls, with Britain's NHS, and with Obamacare.

Why doesn't Congress just pass a law outlawing hurricanes and earthquakes? Wouldn't that save a lot of lives? Guardian (London)

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Criminal Veterans Administration director has firing overturned

Sharon Helman, the former director of the Veterans Administration hospital in Phoenix, has had her firing overturned by a federal appellate court.

Helman has a criminal conviction for taking bribes from lobbyists, and had been director when it was revealed that veterans were dying because they couldn't get care that they were entitled to, and that Helman and other hospital directors were lying about wait times.

Like Obamacare and Britain's NHS, the Veterans Administration's health care system is a financial disaster waiting to collapse. And one reason is that even a criminally-convicted perpetrator cannot be fired. USA Today

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-May-17 World View -- Obamacare continues total meltdown as Aetna pulls out completely thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-May-2017) Permanent Link
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11-May-17 World View -- US will 'quickly' arm Kurdish militias in Syria, despite Turkey's opposition

Turkish officials furious at plans to arm the Kurds

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

US will 'quickly' arm Kurdish militias in Syria, despite Turkey's opposition


Vehicles destroyed by Turkish airstrikes on Kurdish targets in Syria on April 25 (Reuters)
Vehicles destroyed by Turkish airstrikes on Kurdish targets in Syria on April 25 (Reuters)

The US military is moving quickly to get weapons into the hands of the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG), despite opposition from Turkey. The YPG will use the weapons in its fight against the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), and the effort to eject ISIS from its stronghold in Raqqa.

The weapons would include small arms, mortars, heavy machine guns, shoulder-fired weapons and ammunition. According to the military, the selected weapons will address the specific threats that ISIS poses, such as the Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDS), or car bombs of the type that ISIS has used to break up assaults.

The US considers the YPG to be the best and most effective fighting force in Syria versus ISIS. On Wednesday, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), comprising a majority of Kurdish fighters and a minority of Arab fighters from the Syrian Arab Coalition, announced that they had recaptured the town of Tabqa from ISIS. They had announced last week that they had recaptured 90% of Tabqa, and now say that have taken the rest. Tabqa is about 45 km west of Raqqa, which is the final target of the current assault. Military.com and The Hill and Rudaw (Kurdistan)

Turkish officials furious at plans to arm the Kurds

On April 25, Turkey's warplanes bombed Kurdish YPG militias that were part of the US-led coalition fighting ISIS, killing or wounding dozens of YPG fighters. Some Turkish officials are threatening additional airstrikes against Kurdish militias if they are armed by the US military.

The US military has been sending several hundred additional American troops to the region mainly to protect the Kurds from Turkey's military.

The YPG are the Kurdish militia linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has for decades been a separatist insurgence in Turkey. The PKK has been conducting number terrorist bombings and other attacks, killing more than 1,200 people in Turkey, according to Turkish media.

Turkish officials consider arming the Kurds to be an existential threat to Turkey. They say that the PKK group has begun adopting a "franchising strategy," in the same way that al-Qaeda has for years "franchised" al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Al-Qaeda on the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and so forth.

A US army spokesman, Col. John Dorrian, tried to reassure the Turks:

"All of these items are going to be metered out to accomplish specific objectives for the isolation and liberation of Raqqa.

We're going to carefully monitor what's being provided and what it's used for, and we are completely committed to make sure that it's being used for exactly the purpose that we intend."

However, Turkish politicians point out that it's particularly humiliating to Turkey that this announcement was made while Turkish officials are in Washington, preparing for a visit by Turkey's president Tayyip Recep Erdogan next week on May 16. Some are recommending that Erdogan cancel the visit.

I've said in the past, the factions fighting in Syria today -- the US, the Syrian regime, Russia, the Kurds, the Turks, and the "moderate" regime opposition -- all these factions are united today because they're all fighting the common enemy, ISIS. But once ISIS is defeated in Raqqa, ISIS's headquarters, then all bets are off. In particular, unless the American troops protecting the Kurds from the Turks are going to be stationed there forever, we can be certain that the Turks will be fighting the Kurds again. Anadolu (Turkey) and Washington Post and Hurriyet (Turkey)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-May-17 World View -- US will 'quickly' arm Kurdish militias in Syria, despite Turkey's opposition thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-May-2017) Permanent Link
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10-May-17 World View -- Trump considers new troop surge and strategy change in Afghanistan war

Generational analysis: Afghanistan war versus Iraq war

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Trump considers new troop surge and strategy change in Afghanistan war


American soldier at the Afghan border
American soldier at the Afghan border

According to a number of reports, President Donald Trump is considering a plan to send an additional 3,000 to 5,000 American troops to Afghanistan for a new "troop surge." These would add to the 8,400 US troops already there, as well as 300 Nato troops.

The reports indicate two changes in strategy.

First, the troop levels would be heavily conditioned on the ability of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to weed out ineffective military commanders and reduce corruption,

Second, the troop surge would be combined with a new military strategy to threaten the Taliban with defeat so that they would return to the negotiating table.

Both of these conditions are laughable. Afghanistan is entering a generational Awakening era and Ghani has less political control than ever over dissident forces. And the Taliban will never agree to a peace agreement. They may attend so-called peace talks, but only for the purpose of providing political cover for continuing the war, and for conducting further terrorist attacks, particularly against Shia Muslims. This is similar to Syria's president Bashar al-Assad who uses peace conferences and peace agreements as political cover to continue dropping barrel bombs with chemical weapons on innocent Sunni Muslim women and children. Military.com and Washington Post and Business Insider

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Generational analysis: Afghanistan war versus Iraq war

I've written about this a number of times, starting in 2009, when President Obama was considering what strategy to use in Afghanistan. He eventually decided on a "surge" in Afghanistan leading to a troop strength of 100,000, but it was a complete farce, with repeated flip-flops on troop withdrawals, and laughable attempts at peace talks with the Taliban.

President Bush's 2007 troop "surge" into Iraq was highly successful. Al-Qaeda in Iraq was driven out and the country was at peace, although many claim that the peace was squandered by President Obama's withdrawal two years later.

So it's very tempting to try to repeat the Iraq troop surge in Afghanistan. In fact, Obama did try that, with complete failure, as I predicted in 2009. So now Trump is considering the same thing and the prediction that it will end in total failure is the same. To understand this, let's look at the difference between the Iraq and Afghan wars from the point of view of generational theory.

Both countries are in generational Awakening eras, having had relative recent generational crisis wars -- the Iran/Iraq war of 1980-88, and the Afghanistan civil war of 1991-96. Both of these wars were horrendously bloody, ending in a genocidal climax that brought peace to the respective countries for a time.

But the Iran/Iraq war was an external war, with an external enemy, Iran. In fact, in Iraq's last two crisis wars -- the Great Iraqi Revolution of 1920 and the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s, Sunni and Shia Iraqis banded together against the foreign enemy, the British in 1920 and the Iranians in the 1980s. They did not fight each other. Thus, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and al-Qaeda in Iraq were able to stir up sectarian violence for a while, but al-Zarqawi had to import fighters from Jordan and Saudi Arabia because the Iraqis refused to fight. Eventually the Iraqis themselves turned against al-Qaeda in Iraq, and threw them out. My 2007 analysis of the war in Iraq was the best analysis written by anyone at that time, and explained all this in detail.

Even today, Iraq is fighting an external war. The so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) is a coalition of foreign jihadists from 86 countries around the world, most of whom came to Syria to fight Bashar al-Assad. Right now the Iraqi army (ironically with the help of the Iranians) is attacking the last of Iraq's ISIS fighters in Mosul. There have been some flare-ups of Iraqi Shias fighting Iraqi Sunnis, but that's not the main thing that's happening in Iraq.

But none of that is true of the Afghan war. The 1991-1996 war was a civil war, fought between the Pashtuns in southern Afghanistan versus the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan. The Taliban are radicalized Pashtuns, and when they need to import foreign fighters, then can import their cousins from the Pashtun tribes in Pakistan -- which is in a generational Crisis era, and in which the Taliban are conducting regular terrorist acts.

The fact that the Iraq war was an external war, while the Afghan war was a civil war means that the two wars have absolutely nothing in common. To apply the strategy of one of these wars to the other is disastrously wrong.

Indeed, it's much worse than that. The Pashtuns still have scores to settle with the Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks that formed the Northern Alliance, especially the Shias. The Taliban may sit in on peace talks to gain political cover but they will never, under any circumstances, agree to a peace deal, no matter how large the American troop surge. To believe anything else is pure fantasy. US News and Vox and Politico

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-May-17 World View -- Trump considers new troop surge and strategy change in Afghanistan war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-May-2017) Permanent Link
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9-May-17 World View -- Russia, Iran and Turkey announce yet another farcical new Syria peace plan

Syria refuses to permit foreign monitors

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia, Iran and Turkey announce yet another farcical new Syria peace plan


Two girls walk past destroyed buildings in Douma, Syria, part of a planned 'safe zone' (AFP)
Two girls walk past destroyed buildings in Douma, Syria, part of a planned 'safe zone' (AFP)

Every few months, Russia or the United Nations announces a new peace plan to end the war in Syria. Each time, the mainstream media credulously reports that there's finally "hope" that the war will end. Each time, I always use the word "farcical" to describe the peace plan, because the plan never even makes sense. And each time, the plan falls apart within a few weeks.

In January, just a mere four months ago, I described the peace plan being signed at that time as follows:

"What's wrong with this picture: There's a civil war in Syria between the Shia/Alawites versus the Sunnis. On Tuesday, Russia, Iran and Turkey signed a peace agreement.

The thing that's wrong with this picture is that nobody from Syria signed the agreement. It was an agreement among outsiders, and did not include any parties who are nominally the opponents in Syria's civil war.

The peace talks were held in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan. Syrian civil war peace talks in the past were held in Geneva, so having these talks in Astana gives that "this time it's different" feeling to the meeting. ...

However the main reason, according to analysts, that this time it's different is that Russia is making it clear that it's willing to enforce a peace in Syria, so that it will get the credit for bringing about peace."

Exactly the same description applies to the peace agreement signed on Friday. The meetings were being held again in Astana, and the same three (non-Syrian) parties signed the agreement, while the parties that are fighting on the ground did not sign it.

In this peace agreement, there will be four "safe zones" or "de-escalation areas." The safe zones will be surrounded by "security zones," which will be patrolled to ensure the peace.

Here are some excerpts from the text of the agreement:

"The Islamic Republic of Iran, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkey as guarantors of the observance of the ceasefire regime in the Syrian Arab Republic (hereinafter referred to as “Guarantors”): ... have agreed on the following.

1.the following de-escalation areas shall be created with the aim to put a prompt end to violence, improve the humanitarian situation and create favorable conditions to advance political settlement of the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic: [listing areas in Idlib, Homs, Ghouta, southern Syria]. ...

The creation of the de-escalation areas and security zones is a temporary measure, the duration of which will initially be 6 months and will be automatically extended on the basis of consensus of the Guarantors.

2.Within the lines of the de-escalation areas:

—hostilities between the conflicting parties (the government of the Syrian Arab Republic and the armed opposition groups that have joined and will join the ceasefire regime) with the use of any kinds of weapons, including aerial assets, shall be ceased; ...

The functioning of the checkpoints and observation posts as well as the administration of the security zones shall be ensured by the forces of the Guarantors by consensus. Third parties might be deployed, if necessary, by consensus of the Guarantors. ...

As usual, this is laughable. The Syrian regime and the armed rebels have not signed on to this agreement, but hostilities between them "with the use of any kinds of weapons, including aerial assets, shall be ceased." You've got to be joking.

In fact, as in the case of every other "peace agreement," there is no intention that the fighting stop. The Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad reserves the right to continue bombing any places that contain people they consider to be terrorists, and that includes schools, hospitals and marketplaces, using barrel bombs or any other kind of bomb. The opposition rebel groups have also reserved the right to fight the regime in case of what they view is any regime violation of the agreement. And of course the al-Qaeda linked al-Nusra Front, and so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) are not included in the deal in any way.

According to US Defense Secretary James Mattis:

"It's all in process right now. Who is going to be ensuring they're safe? Who is signing up for it? Who is specifically to be kept out of them? All these details are to be worked out, and we're engaged."

According to the text of the agreement, the maps of the four safe zones have not yet been drawn up, and won't be drawn up until June. Gulf News and The Hill and Arab News

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Syria refuses to permit foreign monitors

The only significant difference between this and previous agreements is that this agreement specifies that military forces will be deployed to guarantee the security of the safe zones. The assumption is that these will be international forces, since none of the parties doing the fighting in Syria can be trusted.

So on Monday, Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Muallem announced:

"We do not accept a role for the United Nations or international forces to monitor the agreement. ...

If any violation takes place, the Syrian army will be prepared to respond in a decisive manner."

So who's going to respond if the Syrian regime commits a violation? Once again, this is completely laughable.

It's almost beyond belief how much destruction that Syria's president Bashar al-Assad has caused. He drops barrel bombs laden with metal, chlorine, ammonia, phosphorous and chemical weapons onto civilian neighborhoods, or uses Sarin gas to kill large groups of people. He considers all Sunni Muslims to be cockroaches to be exterminated. Tens of thousands of young jihadists came to Syria from 86 countries around to world to fight al-Assad, creating ISIS. Al-Assad has driven millions of Syrians out of their homes, into Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Europe.

So now we have this Russian proposal for four "safe zones" containing all the Sunni men, women and children that al-Assad has been trying to exterminate for the last six years. The Arab media is calling them "prisons" or "concentration camps," because all of these Sunni groups will be trapped in there, unable to leave. And who will be guarding these safe zones? The Syrian army, led by Bashar al-Assad, who would like to exterminate all their residents.

As I've said many times, there is no hope of this war ending, as long as Bashar al-Assad is in power. AFP and Rudaw (Kurdistan) and SANA (Damascus) and Arab News

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-May-17 World View -- Russia, Iran and Turkey announce yet another farcical new Syria peace plan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-May-2017) Permanent Link
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8-May-17 World View -- Ancient tensions flare between China and North Korea

China's relations deteriorate with both South and North Korea

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Ancient tensions flare between China and North Korea


North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un (KCNA/AFP)
North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un (KCNA/AFP)

As two ancient civilizations and neighbors, China and Korea have had many disagreements over the centuries, and tensions and wars have been the norm. However, during the last century, they've been united by their common enmity to Japan before World War II, and to the United States after World War II.

Now as both countries go deeper into a generational Crisis era, like most countries today, they're both becoming increasingly nationalistic and xenophobic. They both frequently continue to express their hatred of Japan and the United States, but increasingly this nationalism is causing them to turn on each other.

China has numerous concerns about North Korea, including these:

Tensions between the two countries have been growing almost continually since 2006, when DPRK (North Korea, the "Democratic People's Republic of Korea") conducted its first nuclear bomb test. At that time, Chinese state media said that "China resolutely opposes DPRK's nuclear test," and quoted China's Foreign Ministry as saying:

"The DPRK ignored universal opposition of the international community and flagrantly conducted the nuclear test on Oct. 9. The Chinese government is resolutely opposed to it."

China's Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing talked over telephone with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and they agreed that North Korea's nuclear tests must be firmly opposed. The United Nations Security Council held an emergency session to opposed the DPRK nuclear test.

Since then, countries around the world have strongly and vehemently opposed North Korea's nuclear program. This has included China, which has applied economic sanctions to North Korea, most recently restricting coal imports from North Korea.

North Korea's leaders say that they fear an invasion by the United States, and they're known to believe that the only protection they have against such an invasion is the development of nuclear weapons. They believe that the West would not have invaded either Libya or Iraq if these countries hadn't given up their nuclear weapons development.

On Wednesday, North Korean state media KCNA published a scathing attack on China:

"A string of absurd and reckless remarks are now heard from big neighboring countries, perhaps frightened at the U.S. blackmail and war racket, every day only to render the acute situation of the Korean peninsula more strained.

The People's Daily and the Global Times, widely known as media speaking for the official stand of the Chinese party and government, have recently carried commentaries asserting that the DPRK's access to nukes poses a threat to the national interests of China. They shifted the blame for the deteriorated relations between the DPRK and China onto the DPRK and raised lame excuses for the base acts of dancing to the tune of the U.S.

Those commentaries claimed that the DPRK poses a threat to "the security in the northeastern region of China" by conducting nuclear tests less than 100 km away from its border with China. They even talked rubbish that the DPRK strains the situation in Northeast Asia and "offers the U.S. excuses for deploying more strategic assets" in the region.

Not content with such paradox, the commentaries asserted that to remain averse to the DPRK's access to nukes is to preserve interests common to the U.S. and China, calling for slapping harsher sanctions against the DPRK in order to avert a war which would bring danger to China. ...

This is just a wanton violation of the independent and legitimate rights, dignity and supreme interests of the DPRK and, furthermore, constitutes an undisguised threat to an honest-minded neighboring country which has a long history and tradition of friendship. ...

Some theorists of China are spouting a load of nonsense that the DPRK's access to nukes strains the situation in Northeast Asia and offers the U.S. an excuse for beefing up its strategic assets in the region. But the U.S. had activated its strategy for dominating Asia-Pacific long before the DPRK had access to nukes, and its primary target is just China.

China should acknowledge in an honest manner that the DPRK has just contributed to protecting peace and security of China, foiling the U.S. scheme for aggression by waging a hard fight in the frontline of the showdown with the U.S. for more than seven decades, and thank the DPRK for it. ...

One must clearly understand that the DPRK's line of access to nukes for the existence and development of the country can neither be changed nor shaken and that the DPRK will never beg for the maintenance of friendship with China, risking its nuclear program which is as precious as its own life, no matter how valuable the friendship is. ...

China had better ponder over the grave consequences to be entailed by its reckless act of chopping down the pillar of the DPRK-China relations."

China's state media responded directly:

"The KCNA opinion piece contains no new substantive information, except mentioning the names of China, People's Daily, and Global Times and expressing a stronger disgruntling. It did not mention China's support for the United Nations sanctions against North Korea. Nor did it state Pyongyang's next step to take. Overall, the editorial is nothing more than a hyper-aggressive piece completely filled with nationalistic passion.

Pyongyang obviously is grappling with some form of irrational logic over its nuclear program. ...

Beijing needs to make China’s standing and position very clear to Pyongyang, either on an official or grassroots level. It needs to address with Pyongyang its concerns and bottom line. It should also make Pyongyang aware that it will react in unprecedented fashion if Pyongyang conducts another nuclear test. Beijing should not hesitate in delivering this message, and there is certainly no need to debate this issue back and forth with Pyongyang."

Probably the most important sentence is: "[Beijing] should also make Pyongyang aware that it will react in unprecedented fashion if Pyongyang conducts another nuclear test."

So we have the following situation:

The Diplomat and Xinhua (9-Oct-2006) and Rodong Sinmun (North Korea) and Global Times (Beijing) and Times of India

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China's relations deteriorate with both South and North Korea

China's relations with North Korea have been deteriorating steadily with North Korea for over a decade, but China's relations with South Korea have crashed almost overnight.

Just two years ago, there was a "brand new honeymoon" in relations between China and South Korea. President Park Geun-hye visited Beijing on September 3, 2015, during the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War. Park was treated like visiting royalty, and even had a private lunch with China's president Xi Jinping.

Then, in July 2016, Park announced her decision to deploy the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) system on South Korean soil. This was specifically a reaction to ballistic missile and nuclear threats from North Korea, but it infuriated China because THAAD's powerful radar could also give early warning to the United States of a pre-emptive missile attack by China on the United States.

On February 28 of this year, news broke that the Lotte Group, a South Korean multinational conglomerate, had agreed to a land swap that would allow THAAD to be deployed on a piece of land previously owned by the company. This enraged the Chinese, who furiously started imposing economic sanctions on South Korea, particularly targeting Lotte Department Stores in China and South Korea with a boycott.

So now China is imposing economic boycotts on both North and South Korea, for different but related reasons. There's another irony to the situation: Even though China has an economic boycott on South Korean products, China is increasing its imports of petroleum products from South Korea, with an increase of 2.6% over the previous year. The reason is because there's a supply shortage of energy products in China, exacerbated by the fact that China is no longer importing coal from North Korea.

These issues are all very recent, but there are also deeply historical issues separating China and Korea. Since 2003, China has been developing a "Northeastern History Project" with the intention of proving that regions that have historically been recognized as belonging to Korea's history and culture, on China's northeastern border with Korea, are really all Chinese. In other words, just as China is confiscating regions historically belonging to Vietnam, Brunei and the Philippines in the South China Sea, China is also planning to confiscate regions historically belonging to Korea.

So there may be ephemeral ups and downs in the relations between China and each of the two Koreas, but these two civilizations have been around for millennia, and the norm is very tense relations, usually leading to war.

Deng Xiaoping, China's leader in the 1980s, said, "Observe calmly; secure our position; cope with affairs calmly; hide our capacities and bide our time; be good at maintaining a low profile; and never claim leadership."

This has been China's strategy to implement the "China dream." As I've been describing for years, China has been using a "salami-slicing strategy" of using military force to annex one portion after another of regions of the South China Sea historically belonging to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan and the Philippines. By doing so gradually, China's hopes to prevent any counter-action. At the same time, China has been vastly building up its military, on land, in space and on the sea, but then pretending that they're a tiny power compared to the United States. In this way, they follow Deng's advice, hoping to surprise the world with their military strength in the same way that Adolf Hitler surprised Britain.

Unfortunately, China keeps getting bitten by mosquitoes that send it off-course. China was enormously humiliated by the dramatic 2016 ruling by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague declaring China's claims and activities in the South China Sea to be illegal. This hasn't stopped China, of course, but it's exposed to the world the danger in allowing China's salami-slicing strategy to continue.

Another mosquito is North Korea, which has put China's entire foreign policy into a tailspin. Instead of being able to blame all the world's problems on the United States, while it continues its vast military buildup in obscurity, China has to cope with the fact that North Korea is more a danger to China than it is to the United States. Even worse, the North Korean situation is directly responsible for the THAAD deployment in South Korea, which could never have occurred otherwise.

The fact is that China making enemies of one country after another. China has a few allies, such as Cambodia, Pakistan, Myanmar, and others, but China is surrounded by historic enemies, including Japan, Korea, Philippines, Vietnam, India, Russia, and many others. When China finally decides that it's time to declare war on the United States, they will not be fighting the United States alone. The Diplomat and Yonhap News (Seoul) and SinoNK (3-Mar-2012) and The Atlantic (15-Apr-2013) and Council on Foreign Relations

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-May-17 World View -- Ancient tensions flare between China and North Korea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-May-2017) Permanent Link
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7-May-17 World View -- European officials worry that Macedonia's chaos could destabilize the Balkans

Macedonia comments reveal acrimonious divisions in the Western Balkans

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

European officials worry that Macedonia's chaos could destabilize the Balkans


Protesters in front of parliament in Skopje, Macedonia, on Tuesday (Reuters)
Protesters in front of parliament in Skopje, Macedonia, on Tuesday (Reuters)

Two weeks ago, thousands of ethnic nationalist Macedonians surrounded Macedonia's parliament building in the capital city Skopje, and then stormed the building, as we reported at the time. More than 100 people were injured, including protestors, policemen and lawmakers.

The protests have been continuing, although there's been no further violence, but there are concerns of more violence when a political deadline passes in ten days.

The protests were triggered when an ethnic Albanian, Talat Xhaferi, was elected Speaker of the Parliament. Xhaferi was also a leader of the Albanian anti-government rebellion in a brief Albanian-Macedonian non-crisis civil war in 2001, raising new fears about a renewal of the civil war.

Macedonia's politics became chaotic after December 11 of last year, when an election was held with the two major parties, the SDSM (Social Democratic Union of Macedonia), led by Zoran Zaev, and the VMRO-DPMNE (Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization), led by Nikola Gruevski, winning an almost equal number of seats in the parliament. (Paragraph updated, 7-May)

The SDSM party broke the deadlock by forming a coalition with several Albanian parties, thus giving themselves a parliamentary majority, controlling at least 67 of the 120 seats in parliament. However, the VMRO party under Prime Minister Gruevski have been governing the country for more than a decade, and were reluctant to give up power. The situation was further complicated by the fact that if Gruevski loses power, then he's liable to go to jail over accusations of mass-wiretapping of opposition politicians. Two years ago, a wiretapping scandal revealed that the government had tapped the phones of over 26,000 people, including politicians, journalists, and civil society activists.

Since December the government has been in chaos, since the pro-Macedonian president, Gjorge Ivanov, refused to recognize the SDSM government, and allow Zaev to become prime minister. He claimed that doing so would "Albanianize" Macedonia by allowing wider official use of the Albanian language, which was a demand of the Albanian parties in return for joining the SDSM coalition.

So two weeks ago, the SDSM and Albanian coalition in the parliament selected ethnic Albanian Talat Xhaferi as speaker of the parliament. This selection infuriated Ivanov and the nationalist Macedonian supporters of the VMRO party, triggering the bloody riots. The protests have been continuing since then, with thousands of VMRO supporters turning out in Skopje on Tuesday, although there has been no more violence.

On Thursday, Xhaferi sent a letter to Ivanov, noting that a "parliament majority has been established" and that he expects the president to act according to the constitution, and give control of the government to the SDSM, and allow Zoran Zaev to become prime minister, putting an end to more than a decade in power for the VMRO.

Ivanov nas not yet confirmed that he received the letter. He has ten days to respond to the letter. No matter what action or inaction he takes on that day, there may be more violence. Balkan Insight and European Council On Foreign Relations and BBC

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Macedonia comments reveal acrimonious divisions in the Western Balkans

The article on Macedonia that I wrote two weeks ago was cross-posted as usual on the Breitbart National Security site, and received dozens of the most acrimonious and vitriolic comments that any of my articles have ever received. These comments came from all sides -- especially the Macedonians, the Greeks, the Albanians and the Bulgarians.

Greek commenters were particularly infuriated by my brief history of Alexander the Great, referring to him as "the most famous leader in Macedonia's history." Here's a brief summary of the comments by Greek readers:

Macedonians reject all of this:

There's an interesting question here: How long do two population groups have to be separated before they can be called separate ethnic groups? It may (or may not) be true that Macedonians were Bulgarians in the Middle Ages, but that was many centuries ago. Having been apart from the Bulgarians for centuries, today they're recognized as a distinct Macedonian ethnic group by almost every nation outside of Greece, and they're recognized by the United Nations and European Union as Macedonians.

As for Alexander the Great, today's Macedonians and Greeks each claim him as their own. This is an issue that will probably never be settled peacefully.

A number of Albanian commenters criticized my use of the phrase "Greater Albania," a movement to enlarge Albania by including ethnic Albanian populations from neighboring countries, including Macedonia and Kosovo. Some claimed that no such movement exists, although that claim appears not to be true, as can be determined by googling the words "Greater Albania." However, other comments gave a more nuanced explanation, that the phrase "Greater Albania" was invented by the Serbs and the Russians to cover up a movement for a "Greater Serbia."

One commenter said, "We Albanian Muslims live in peace with Christian Albanians. It's only the Serbs and Macedonians who we cannot live in peace with us due to historical territorial claims."

There is some truth to the claim of meddling by the Russians. The Russian government is backing the VMRO and Nikola Gruevski, and Russia's foreign ministry issued a statement in March:

"With active cooperation of the EU and NATO officials, an 'Albanian platform' created in Tirana [Albania's capital city], in the office of the (Albanian) prime minister, is being imposed on Macedonians."

My article on Macedonia is turning out to be one of the most acrimoniously contentious that I've ever written, with extreme ideologues on both sides posting vitriolic comments. My conclusion from this situation is that history is repeating itself in the sense that the Balkans region is one of the most explosive regions in the world.

The Albanians and Turks are mostly Muslim. The Macedonians, Bulgarians, Serbs, Greeks and Russians are all mostly Orthodox Christian. The Muslim and Orthodox Christian civilizations have had repeated massive wars for centuries, centered in the Balkans, Crimea, and the Caucasus. And as I've been saying for years, Generational Dynamics predicts that there's going to be another massive civilizational war between Muslims and Orthodox Christians.

The conflict between ethnic Macedonians and ethnic Albanians, with outside "meddling" from Russia, Serbia, Greece, Albania, and the EU, is a microcosm of this coming massive civilizational war, which is why this is an important story. And there have been reports of increasing use of social media in the Balkans to promote neo-Nazism and white supremacy.

There has been speculation by me and others about where WW III would start -- South China Sea, Kashmir, Mideast, etc. But now I would have to say that the Balkans is moving close to the top of the list. EurActiv and Reuters (2-Mar) and Balkan Insight

Related Articles

  • Macedonia declares state of emergency along border with Greece (22-Aug-2015)
  • A train station in Macedonia becomes the new European migrant choke point (19-Aug-2015)
  • 22 die in Macedonian police gun battles with Albanian militants (11-May-2015)
  • (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-May-17 World View -- European officials worry that Macedonia's chaos could destabilize the Balkans thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-May-2017) Permanent Link
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    6-May-17 World View -- Kashmir violence surges as India launches massive house-to-house sweep

    Narendra Modi's 'demonetization' program results in more Kashmir bank robberies

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Kashmir violence surges as India launches massive house-to-house sweep


    Rock-throwing youths clash with police in Kashmir (Hindustan Times)
    Rock-throwing youths clash with police in Kashmir (Hindustan Times)

    The conflict between Indian security forces and Kashmiris took another leap higher this week as a force of 3,000 men from security forces began a massive counter-militant operation, the largest seen in decades. Soldiers, paramilitary troopers and policemen started cordon operations and house-to-house searches in 20 villages in and around the restive Shopian district in southern Kashmir, beginning on Thursday.

    The operation follows a terrorist attack in Shopian on Tuesday, when militants attacked a police station and took off with five service rifles. On Wednesday, there were two armed bank robberies in the region, where militants took off with thousands of dollars. After the counter-militant operation began on Thursday, clashes erupted between Kashmiri youth pelting stones at security forces.

    According to one senior police officer, "It is impossible to capture the militants, but we hope there will be contact [exchange of fire] with them in the course of the day."

    Clashes between Kashmiris and security forces increased significantly after July 8 of last year, when Burhan Wani, the leader of the Kashmir separatist group Hizbul Mujahideen, was killed by Indian police fire. Security forces responded harshly to the violence by using pellet guns, with the result that 1,000 people lost their vision in one eye and five were blinded. Thousands of Kashmiri youths were arrested.

    The big surge in violence finally subsided in November, and Indian officials decided that their harsh reprisals had been successful in subduing the violence. However, it now appears that what was subduing the violence was the cold weather, and now that the weather is warming again, the violence is increasing significantly.

    As I've written several times, 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. Exactly when this full-scale war will occur cannot be predicted, but there are still several long, hot months of summer this year, and there is no hope that the clashes will subside until, perhaps, when winter arrives again.

    Many people are comparing the current Kashmir violence with temporary violence that occurred in the 1990s. But there are significant differences between today's violence and the 1990s violence.

    In the 1990s, there were still plenty of survivors of the bloody 1947 partition war, and these people would have held their children back, saying that it's better to suffer a little discrimination than to get killed.

    Today, in a generational Crisis era, young people seem to have no fear of being killed. This represents a significant change of mood. Even more alarming, for the first time, young girls are joining the boys in throwing stones. This change in mood is a significant difference from the 1990s.

    Another difference is that today, local Kashmiri militants are collaborating with militants from Pakistan terror groups, including Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Toiba. The foreign terrorist supply weapons and get advance information about topography, routes, movement of Indian troops. This makes the separatist militants far more dangerous than they were 20 years ago. BBC and Hindustan Times and Geo TV (Pakistan)

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    Narendra Modi's 'demonetization' program results in more Kashmir bank robberies

    As we described above, India's massive counter-militant operation began just after militant attacks on a police stations and two armed bank robberies. During the past seven months, there have been 13 incidents of bank robbery, with militants looting hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    The number of bank robberies has gone up started increasing dramatically in November of last year, and many analysts relate the increase to the 'demonetization' program announced by India's prime minister Narendra Modi at that time. The policy declared high value 500-1000 rupee notes to be worthless, with the stated objective of reducing corruption. However, the policy was something of a disaster, since many people had no valid cash to purchase necessities like food.

    Shortly after the 'demonetization' policy went into effect, India's defense minister Manohar Parrikar bragged that the demonetization program has substantially reduced the amount of violence in Kashmir, by reducing incidents of stone-pelting. According to Parrikar:

    "Earlier, there were rates: Rs 500 for stone pelting [on security forces in Kashmir] and Rs 1,000 for doing something else. PM has brought terror funding to zero. In the last few days after PM's daring move there hasn't been stone pelting on security forces. I congratulate PM for it."

    It's believed that separatist activists were paying stone-pelters in counterfeit notes that had been printed in Pakistan. By making all 500-1000 rupee notes worthless, the counterfeit notes also became worthless.

    Parrikar is correct that the number of stone-throwing incidents fell at that time but, as we stated above, the reduction in violence was actually caused by the cold winter weather, and now that the weather is warming again, stone-throwing incidents are recurring.

    However, another outcome of the demonetization program seems more certain, following the "Law of Unintended Consequences." With the counterfeit 500-1000 Rs notes worthless, militants needed to get cash from another source, and that other source has apparently turned out to be bank robbery. India Today and Rising Kashmir and Kashmir Reader

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-May-17 World View -- Kashmir violence surges as India launches massive house-to-house sweep thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-May-2017) Permanent Link
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    5-May-17 World View -- Italy prepares for possible Mediterranean refugee crisis this summer

    Europeans blame China and 'the freeway effect' for the migrant crisis

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Italy prepares for possible Mediterranean refugee crisis this summer


    Migrants packed into an overcrowded dinghy by human traffickers (EPA)
    Migrants packed into an overcrowded dinghy by human traffickers (EPA)

    The European Union is working on an emergency plan in case a "serious crisis" develops this summer, which would be the situation is 200,000 or more refugees cross the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy.

    In 2016, a record 181,000 migrants crossed from North Africa to Italy via the Mediterranean Sea. From January 1 to April 23 of this year, 36,851 migrants were recorded as crossing -- a 45% increase over the same period last year. Even more concerning is the fact that summer hasn't even arrived, and when it does, a huge surge of migrants is expected. The concerns are that total for the year may be close to 300,000.

    According to the Dublin Agreement that defines the principles of the European Union, member states are expected to show "solidarity" in managing the refugee problem, so that the entire burden doesn't fall on Italy. However, there's little agreement on what the term "solidarity" means. The current requirements are that refugees should be distributed to all 28 member states. The target last year for relocation was 160,000 asylum seekers, but because several member states object to having any asylum seekers at all relocated to their countries, only about 15,000 people have been distributed so far in the last two years.

    One proposed solution is that cash will be used to encourage countries to meet their quotas. The proposal is that each country will be paid €60,000 for every asylum seeker they take in above their assigned quota, and those not meeting their quotas would be charged the same amount.

    On Thursday, the European Commission issued a press release proposing "a sustainable and fair Common European Asylum System." According to Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs:

    "If the current refugee crisis has shown one thing, it is that the status quo of our Common European Asylum System is not an option. The time has come for a reformed and more equitable system, based on common rules and a fairer sharing of responsibility. With the proposed reform of the Dublin system, [and the creation of a] true European Agency for Asylum, today we are taking a major step in the right direction and putting in place the European-level structures and tools necessary for a future-proof comprehensive system. We will now put all our efforts into working side-by-side with the European Parliament and Member States. We must turn these proposals into reality as swiftly as possible."

    If the history of the past two years shows anything, it's that no current proposal has any chance of working. If move than 200,000 migrants from Libya reach the shores of Italy this year, it truly will be a crisis. Der Spiegel and EU Observer (27-Mar) and European Commission and Malta Today

    Europeans blame China and 'the freeway effect' for the migrant crisis

    Decades ago, when America was first building a national highway system, people talked about "the freeway effect." If some particular auto route was always jammed with heavy traffic, then a limited access superhighway (also called a "freeway") would be built to replace it. However, with the availability of the new freeway, a lot more people would start driving, and so pretty soon the traffic would be just as bad as ever. That was "the freeway effect."

    The same kind of thing is happening in the Mediterranean. After some well-publicized drowning of hundreds of migrants in capsized boats, the European Union has made enormous efforts rescue migrants who might otherwise drown. Furthermore, the EU's Frontex organization has been joined by dozens of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that are also rescuing migrants crossing the Mediterranean. As greater efforts have been made, more migrants have been encouraged to risk making the trip, contributing to the worsening of the migrant crisis, and creating a "taxi service to Europe."

    A scandal is brewing over the NGOs. Carmelo Zuccaro, an Italian prosecutor is claiming to have evidence that some of the NGOs are colluding with the human traffickers who send the migrants out on flimsy boats to be rescued, with the suggestion that some of the NGOs are encouraging the increase in migrant traffic in order to receive more funding.

    The human traffickers have become increasingly unscrupulous in taking advantage of the massive rescue efforts. For example, they've been packing up to 170 people onto inflatable rubber dinghies that can only safely transport 15 people. The engines have only enough fuel to make it out of Libyan waters, and the smugglers have been relying on the rescue efforts by Frontex and the NGOs to save the migrants from drowning. However, over 1,000 migrants have already lost their lives this year alone in the Mediterranean.

    Some EU officials are blaming China for the problem.

    In a story about migrants early last year, I reported that human traffickers were importing massive numbers of rubber dinghies manufactured in China, transshipped through Malta.

    Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs, whom we quoted earlier, is visiting China this week, and made this statement:

    "The rubber boats used by the smuggler networks in the Mediterranean are fabricated somewhere in China, they are exported to the countries in Asia and they are used by them. So I requested the support and cooperation from the Chinese authorities in order to track down this business and dismantle it, because what they produce is not serving the common good of the country. It is a very dangerous tool in the hands of ruthless smugglers."

    There's no word on whether the Chinese government is going to help out Europe by shutting down its rubber dinghy business. Reuters and New Arab (23-Apr) and Reuters

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-May-17 World View -- Italy prepares for possible Mediterranean refugee crisis this summer thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-May-2017) Permanent Link
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    4-May-17 World View -- Channeling Sisyphus, Trump and Abbas say Mideast peace not as hard as it looks

    Donald Trump and Mahmoud Abbas commit to work for historic Mideast peace deal

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Donald Trump and Mahmoud Abbas commit to work for historic Mideast peace deal


    Mahmoud Abbas and Donald Trump shake hands at the White House on Wednesday (Getty)
    Mahmoud Abbas and Donald Trump shake hands at the White House on Wednesday (Getty)

    Meeting in the White House on Wednesday, president Donald Trump met with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, and agreed to work together to reach a historic peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians.

    In the briefing that followed the meeting, Trump recalled that Abbas had participated in the development of the Oslo Peace Accords in 1994:

    "Almost 24 years ago, it was on these grounds that President Abbas stood with a courageous peacemaker, then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Here at the White House, President Abbas signed a Declaration of Principles -- very important -- which laid the foundation for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.

    The President -- Mr. President, you [Abbas] signed your name to the first Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. You remember that well, right? And I want to support you in being the Palestinian leader who signs his name to the final and most important peace agreement that brings safety, stability, and prosperity to both peoples and to the region."

    Trump didn't mention what a disastrous failure the Oslo peace accords have been. Another thing that Trump neglected to mention was that year later, in 1995, Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by an Israeli nationalist who opposed the Oslo peace accords.

    Trump's statement concluded:

    "I welcome President Abbas here today as a demonstration of ... that very special partnership that we all need to make it all work. And I look forward to welcoming him back as a great marker of progress and, ultimately, toward the signing of a document with the Israelis and with Israel toward peace. We want to create peace between Israel and the Palestinians. We will get it done. We will be working so hard to get it done. It's been a long time, but we will be working diligently. And I think there's a very, very good chance, and I think you feel the same way."

    Abbas then responded with his own statement:

    "Mr. President, we believe that we are capable and able to bring about success to our efforts because, Mr. President, you have the determination and you have the desire to see it become to fruition and to become successful. And we, Mr. President, inshallah, God willing, we are coming into a new opportunity, a new horizon that would enable us to bring about peace in that regard. ...

    Mr. President, it’s about time for Israel to end its occupation of our people and of our land after 50 years. We are the only remaining people in the world that still live under occupation. We are aspiring and want to achieve our freedom, our dignity, and our right to self-determination. And we also want for Israel to recognize the Palestinian state just as the Palestinian people recognize the state of Israel.

    Mr. President, I affirm to you that we are raising our youth, our children, our grandchildren on a culture of peace. And we are endeavoring to bring about security, freedom and peace for our children to live like the other children in the world, along with the Israeli children in peace, freedom and security.

    Mr. President, I bring with me today the message of the suffering of my people, as well as their aspiration and hope -- the hopes and aspirations of the Palestinian people from the Holy Land, from that land where the three monotheist religions thrived, and the Jewish faith, the Christian faith and the Muslim faith, where they all coexist together to foster it in an environment of security, peace and stability, and love for all."

    Abbas said that "we are raising our youth, our children, our grandchildren on a culture of peace," but the Palestinian president, born in 1935, neglected to mention that polls indicate that two-thirds of the Palestinian people want him to resign, and consider him irrelevant and unable to do anything to help the Palestinians.

    It's the young people today who will not tolerate a peace settlement of any kind. Many young Israelis consider it to be an almost Messianic mission to build settlements in the West Bank and to defend them with their lives.

    And the young Palestinians have been given the ironic name "Oslo Generation," because they've grown up since the 1994 Oslo agreement and have seen nothing come out of it, and so have no respect for Abbas and other Palestinian leaders.

    So even if Trump and Abbas and Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu did hammer out some kind of agreement, it would be worthless, because the young Israelis and young Palestinians would not honor it. NBC News and WAFA (Palestine) and White House

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    Donald Trump and Mahmoud Abbas try again, channeling Sisyphus

    One of the most well-known characters in Greek Mythology was Sisyphus. In his life he double-crossed Zeus, the king of the gods, as well as the gods of the underworld. For his deceit and trickery, he was condemned to eternal punishment. He would forever roll a massive boulder up to the top of a steep hill, but whenever he neared the top, the rock would roll down to the bottom, and he'd have to start over again.

    So anyway, former president Jimmy Carter once said in Jerusalem that one of the deep regrets of his presidency was that he had not been able to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There were numerous repeated attempts at Mideast peace by Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama.

    I posted my very first Generational Dynamics analysis on May 1, 2003, when president George Bush published his "Mideast Roadmap to Peace," which described the details of a two-state solution. I wrote that Generational Dynamics predicts that the plan would fail because the Jews and the Arabs would be refighting the 1948 war that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. Here's what I wrote:

    "We are now in the early stages of replaying the extremely violent, bloody wars between the Jews and the Palestinians that took place between them from 1936 to 1949. So far the war has been little more than a series of skirmishes, as it was in the late 1930s. The full-fledged violent, bloody war is awaiting a generational change.

    There's an incredible irony going on in the Mideast today, in that the leaders of two opposing sides are, respectively, Ariel Sharon and Yassir Arafat.

    These two men hate each other, but they're the ones cooperating with each other (consciously or not) to prevent a major Mideast conflagration. Both of them remember the wars of the 1940s, and neither of them wants to see anything like that happen again. And it won't happen again, as long as both of these men are in charge.

    The disappearance of these two men will be part of an overall generational change in the Mideast that will lead to a major conflagration within a few years. It's possible that the disappearance of Arafat alone will trigger a war, just as the election of Lincoln ignited the American Civil War. (It's currently American policy to get rid of Arafat. My response is this: Be careful what you wish for.)"

    Since that time, Yassir Arafat died, and was replaced by Mahmoud Abbas, who was also a survivor of the 1948 war and remembered its horrors.

    Since 2006, there have been five wars involving Israel and Palestinians: the war between Israelis and Hezbollah, fought largely on Lebanon's soil in 2006; the war between Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah in Gaza in 2008, that led to Hamas control of Gaza; Operation Cast Lead, the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza early in 2009; the two wars between Israel and Hamas in Gaza in November, 2012 and July-August 2014.

    In addition, the "Arab Spring" began in 2011, resulting in wars in Libya, Yemen and Syria, and unrest in Egypt and Lebanon. Furthermore, tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia have surged as a result of the genocidal acts of Syria's Shia/Alawite president Bashar al-Assad directed at Sunnis. Each day we move closer to a war that will engulf the whole region, between Arabs and Jews, between Sunnis and Shias, and between various ethnic groups such as Kurds versus Turks.

    With wars occurring today across the entire Mideast, can anyone seriously believe today that some piece of paper signed by Abbas, Trump and Netanyahu would actually bring about a new Mideast where Israelis and Palestinians are living together side by side in peace? If there is, I'd like to give him a good deal on selling him the Brooklyn Bridge. Jerusalem Post

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-May-17 World View -- Channeling Sisyphus, Trump and Abbas say Mideast peace not as hard as it looks thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-May-2017) Permanent Link
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    3-May-17 World View -- US military moves to protect Syrian Kurds from Turkey's military

    Kurdish forces in Syria take Tabqa city en route to Raqqa

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Kurdish forces in Syria take Tabqa city en route to Raqqa


    Boy sits on a tank turret amidst the destruction of Syria's war (AFP)
    Boy sits on a tank turret amidst the destruction of Syria's war (AFP)

    There are three different sets of forces operating in Syria: The Syrian regime + Russia, Turkey + the Free Syrian Army (FSA) comprised mainly of ethnic Syrian Turkmens, and the US-led coalition + the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) comprised mostly of Kurds from the People's Protection Units (YPG). Today, these three forces are united by their common enemy, the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

    On Tuesday, the US-backed SDF said that it had recaptured 90% of the city of Tabqa from ISIS. Tabqa is 45 km west of Raqqa, which is the ISIS stronghold, and the main objective of the current operations to defeat ISIS. ISIS captured Raqqa in January 2014.

    The victory is significant because it further establishes the Kurdish YPG as the most effective fighting force in the region against ISIS. Al Jazeera

    US military moves to protect Syrian Kurds from Turkey's military

    As we reported last week, Turkey's warplanes in Syria struck Kurdish militias known as the People's Protection Units, or YPG, who are allies of the US-led coalition fighting ISIS. The YPG said that Turkey's airstrikes, which took place on Tuesday of last week, killed 20 of its fighters and wounded 18 others, and caused extensive damage to YPG headquarters and nearby civilian property.

    The US military considers the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), comprised mostly of YPG Kurds, to be the most effective fighting force in the region against ISIS, but the YPG has links to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has conducted numerous bloody terror attacks in Turkey, and an on-and-off civil war for decades. As a result, the US considers the YPG to be an ally, while Turkey considers them to be an enemy.

    To protect the Kurds from the Turks, US troops in armored vehicles on Friday started patrolling Kurdish areas in Syria as a kind of "buffer" between the Kurds and Turkey. Video from the area shows vehicles with US and Kurdish flags together.

    A statement from the US military says:

    "Coalition forces are conducting joint patrols along the northeastern Syria-Turkey border to assess reports from both the SDF and Turkey regarding skirmishes and cross-border fires between their respective security forces.

    The patrols’ purpose is to discourage escalation and violence between two of our most trusted (counter-ISIS) partners and reinforce the U.S. commitment to both Turkey and the SDF in their fight against ISIS.

    We ask both of our partners to focus their efforts on ISIS. ISIS poses the greatest threat to peace and stability in the region, and indeed the entire world."

    Turkey's president Tayyip Recep Erdogan says that he'll meet with President Trump on May 16th, and he'll say that US support for the YPG Kurds must end, and that the Turkish attacks on YPG Kurds will continue:

    "This needs to end. Otherwise we will have to take the matter into our own hands. It is better for them to live in fear than us being worried [about terror attacks from the PKK]."

    Erdogan said that Turkey needs to "drain the swamp," and that Turkey's military will solve the (PKK) terrorism problem by itself if the US refuses to do so.

    As I've said in the past, the factions fighting in Syria today -- the US, the Syrian regime, Russia, the Kurds, the Turks, and the "moderate" regime opposition -- all these factions are united today because they're all fighting the common enemy, ISIS. But once ISIS is defeated in Raqqa, ISIS's headquarters, then all bets are off. AP and Anadolu (Turkey) and Daily Sabah (Turkey)

    Related Articles

    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-May-17 World View -- US military moves to protect Syrian Kurds from Turkey's military thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-May-2017) Permanent Link
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    2-May-17 World View -- Japan's largest warship, the JS Izumo, will escort and defend a US supply ship

    Japan moves from 'self-defense' to 'collective self-defense'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Japan's largest warship, the JS Izumo, will escort and defend a US supply ship


    A helicopter lands on the decks of the JS Izumo (Reuters)
    A helicopter lands on the decks of the JS Izumo (Reuters)

    Japan's largest naval destroyer, the JS Izumo, has left port on a mission to escort and defend a US supply ship that will refuel the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group, which has been traveling to the region in response to threats from North Korea.

    Something like this would have been unimaginable two years ago, for several reasons. First, it would have been thought unnecessary. Second, it would have been thought to be too provocative to China. And third, it's a dramatic departure Japan's pacifist constitution, adopted after World War II.

    Today, all three of these reasons have changed dramatically, in this generational Crisis era.. First, it's thought to be necessary because North Korea has been making specific threats to target American ships, and has been testing missiles and nuclear weapons in support of that threat.

    Second, both China and North Korea have become increasingly warlike and belligerent, and both have been making implied or explicit military threats. In the last two years, China has had a huge military buildup in the South China Sea, in proven violation of international law, and has been annexing regions in the South China Sea that have been owned or used by other countries for centuries.

    And the third change is an outcome of the previous two. As I've been writing for years, in this generational Crisis era, it seems that almost every nation on earth has become increasingly nationalistic and xenophobic, whether in America, Europe, the Mideast or Asia. The mutual xenophobia between China and Japan has been simmering for a long time, but because of the increased war buildup of both China and North Korea, the mood of Japan's population has become far more nationalistic than before, allowing the prime minister Shinzo Abe to bring about a modification to Japan's pacifist constitution. The Diplomat and BBC

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    Japan moves from 'self-defense' to 'collective self-defense'

    Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe has long been advocating the removal of the self-defense clause of Japan's constitution that forbids any military action except to defend against a military attack on Japanese soil. However, the votes necessary to pass a constitutional amendment have never been available.

    But he was able to get Japan's Diet (parliament) to pass an ordinary law that reinterprets the phrase "self-defense" to mean "collective self-defense." This is a doctrine that permits any country to legally pursue foreign military action anywhere in the world in order to defend its allies.

    There's already been one test of the new "collective self-defense" policy. In November of last year, Japan deployed 350 SDF (Self-Defense Forces) troops to South Sudan to act as peacekeeping forces. There were SDF forces in South Sudan in the past, but they were restricted to non-combat roles such as rebuilding roads and refugee camps. The November deployment permitted them to engage in combat if they're attacked, or if other nations' peacekeepers are attacked. Since then, no actual combat has been reported.

    That was the first time since the end of World War II that Japan's military was permitted to engage in combat for any reason outside of Japanese soil, and even that minor deployment was extremely controversial in Japan.

    The deployment of the JS Izumo to escort and defend a US supply ship is a big leap forward in use of Japan's new collective self-defense doctrine, and will further increase the nationalism in Japan, North Korea and China. Japan Times

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-May-17 World View -- Japan's largest warship, the JS Izumo, will escort and defend a US supply ship thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-May-2017) Permanent Link
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    1-May-17 World View -- France's Eurosceptic Marine Le Pen starts to backtrack on euro policy

    France's presidential election in doubt because of abstainers

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    France's presidential election in doubt because of abstainers


    A youth kicks a teargas canister in Paris on Thursday during a protest against both Le Pen and Macron (AFP)
    A youth kicks a teargas canister in Paris on Thursday during a protest against both Le Pen and Macron (AFP)

    In the upcoming decisive May 7 final round in France's election of a new president, Emmanuel Macron, the centrist 39-year-old former investment banker, is expected to beat 48-year-old far-right candidate Marine Le Pen by about 20 points, based on current polling. Mainstream media observers are hoping for an even bigger Le Pen defeat, which would be a repeat of the 2002 election.

    When Marine Le Pen's father, 73 year old Jean-Marie Le Pen, then leader of the Front National, received 17% of the vote in first round of France's presidential election on April 21, 2002, he knocked the former socialist prime minister, Lionel Jospin, out of the second-round runoff. This was such a shock to the French public, that all other parties and candidates rallied against Le Pen in what was called the "Republican front," and gave the conservative candidate Jacques Chirac a massive victory with 82% of the vote. In other words, Le Pen didn't get any additional votes in the second round than he did in the first.

    Now Marine Le Pen has won 21.3% of the votes in the first round of France's presidential election on April 23, 2017, knocking out the Republican, François Fillon, the Socialist, Benoît Hamon, and the far-left candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon. This sets up a two-way race between Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron, the 39-year-old centrist who won 24% of the vote of the vote in the first round.

    The question is: will another "Republican front" emerge in 2017, as it did in 2002? Will all other parties, candidates and voters unanimously rally against Le Pen, in favor of Macron? We already know that's not going to happen.

    First, Mélenchon is refusing to endorse either Le Pen or Macron. He announced to his supporters:

    "You don't need me to tell you who to vote. I'm not a guru, not a guide."

    After Marine Le Pen responded by saying that she would go after Mélenchon's voters, Mélenchon's spokesman Alexis Corbière said, "Not one vote should go to the National Front," implying that Mélenchon really does support Macron. According to a poll, Mélenchon's voters would break 40% for Macron and 19% for Le Pen -- and 41% would abstain.

    And that's the second major issue: the abstainers. Many college students are opposed to both Le Pen and Macron, and some are violently opposed, as shown on Thursday by several hundred school students who threw glasses and smoke bombs at police during a "Neither Marine, nor Macron" demonstration in Paris.

    One 18-year-old girl told RFI:

    "I don’t want to choose between liberalism and fascism. Don’t need someone who worked for the bank, with his program he’s going to put France in the sh-t, but fascism isn’t the solution either. I don’t want to choose between two diseases."

    Macron left investment banking and launched his political career as economy minister in the Socialist government of the current president, François Hollande. Macron quit Hollande's government in August of last year, and built up his own political following.

    Both Macron and Le Pen have family issues. In 2007, Macron pursued and married a woman 25 years older, the now 64 year old Brigitte Trogneux, a mother of three who left her husband for Macron. Le Pen is twice-divorced mother of three.

    What effects all this will have on the election results is anyone's guess. As in the case of Donald Trump, the mainstream media are opposed to Le Pen to the point of incoherence, so it's impossible to figure out what's going on from media reports. AFP and Deutsche Welle and RFI

    France's Eurosceptic Marine Le Pen starts to backtrack on euro policy

    Marine Le Pen has campaigned against immigration, Islam, globalism, NATO, the European Union, and the euro currency. She has advocated "Frexit," by which she means that France should leave the eurozone and return to the French franc currency, and possibly leave the European Union altogether, just like Britain and Brexit. Many people fear that if she wins, then the entire European project will be in jeopardy.

    However, there are two signs that those fears are overblown.

    The first sign is that the European Union nations appear to have come together in greater unity as a result of the coming negotiations for Britain's leaving the European Union, as we described yesterday.

    The second reason is that Le Pen herself appears to be backtracking on her position on the euro. This would be similar to what's happened with Donald Trump, who backed off some of his extreme positions while the election campaign was still on, and has backed off further since becoming president.

    Le Pen's stated policy platforms in the past have included:

    "To support French companies in the face of unfair international competition through the implementation of intelligent protectionism and the restoration of a national currency adapted to our economy, the vehicle of our competitiveness. ...

    Monetary and budgetary sovereignty, because there is no free-state without a currency, and then economic sovereignty, to be able to implement economic patriotism. ...

    The euro is the currency of the bankers, not the people who have seen the decline of its purchasing power and mass unemployment."

    Le Pen is now facing up to the reality that leaving the euro currency is one of the least popular of her policies, as most of her voter base is more concerned about immigration and Islam.

    So last week, in an interview, she said:

    "This means converting the single currency into a common euro, a currency that will not affect daily purchases, but only large companies that trade internationally."

    She's also loosened her timetable. In past she promised a "Frexit" referendum within six months of taking office, but now she's saying:

    "The transition from the single currency to the European common currency is not a pre-requisite of all economic policy, the timetable will adapt to the immediate priorities and challenges facing the French government.

    Everything will be done to ensure an orderly transition ...and the coordinated construction of the right for each country to control its own currency and its central bank."

    So she's no longer talking about a referendum, and she's no longer talking about leaving the euro currency. As far as I can make out, she wants to have TWO euro currencies, one for international trade, and one for daily purposes. This is totally delusional, and appears to me to be to be a sign of desperation. Euro News and Reuters and Bloomberg

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-May-17 World View -- France's Eurosceptic Marine Le Pen starts to backtrack on euro policy thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-May-2017) Permanent Link
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    30-Apr-17 World View -- European Union lays out demands for Britain over Brexit negotiations

    Sharp disagreements ahead over the 60 billion euro Brexit 'divorce settlement'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    European Union lays out demands for Britain over Brexit negotiations


    EU Commission President Jean-Claude Jüncker (left) and EU Council President Donald Tusk in Brussels on Saturday (Getty)
    EU Commission President Jean-Claude Jüncker (left) and EU Council President Donald Tusk in Brussels on Saturday (Getty)

    The leaders of the EU-27, the 27 member nations of the European Union not including Britain, laid out their negotiating demands for the United Kingdom at a meeting in Brussels on Saturday.

    The UK passed the Brexit referendum, calling for Britain to leave the European Union, on June 23 of last year. On March 29 of this year, Britain's prime minister Theresa May invoked Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, making the Brexit process irreversible, and triggering a two-year period of negotiations before the exit is final. Theresa May has called for new elections on June 8, and so serious negotiations are expected to begin at that time.

    Britain would like to immediately start negotiating a trade deal, but the EU leaders on Saturday said that trade could not be discussed at all until the terms of the "divorce" had been resolved. In particular, the EU-27 is demanding that three questions be resolved first:

    The purpose of Saturday's meeting in Brussels was to get approval from the 27 remaining countries of the EU on the negotiation guidelines. EU officials bragged that the negotiation guidelines were approved unanimously within four minutes.

    The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Jüncker, warned Britain that many British politicians were vastly overestimating the benefits that they'll gain from Brexit, and vastly underestimating the difficulties that they'll have in the Brexit negotiations:

    "We have already prepared a text that could be adopted immediately if our British friends would be willing to sign it, but that probably won’t happen. I have the impression sometimes that our British friends, not all of them, do underestimate the technical difficulties we have to face. ... Privately everything went well but we have a problem, the British want to leave the EU and it's not feasible that it can be done just like that.

    The single question of citizens' rights is in fact a cortège of 25 questions that have to be solved.

    I would like to state very clearly that we need real guarantees for our people who live, work and study in the UK and the same goes for the Brits. The commission has prepared a full list of the rights and benefits that we want to guarantee for those affected by Brexit. To achieve sufficient progress we need a serious British response."

    As an aside, I chuckled at Jüncker's use of the word "cortège." Jüncker was undoubtedly referring to some (unpublished) list of 25 questions, but the word "cortège" is a French word usually used in the context of a funeral procession, which perhaps Jüncker was afraid was happening.

    According to the guidelines, negotiations on trade and other issues cannot begin until the three issues listed above have been resolved. BBC and Daily Mail (London) and EU Negotiation Guidelines

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    Sharp disagreements ahead over the 60 billion euro Brexit 'divorce settlement'

    Britain's prime minister Theresa May rejected some of the hardline demands that were put forth at Saturday's meeting in Brussels. She said that she was sticking to her own demands outlined in a speech earlier this year which included tariff-free trade, ending the jurisdiction of European courts and stopping free movement of migrants.

    According to May, "What matters sitting around that table is a strong Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, with a strong mandate from the people of the United Kingdom which will strengthen our negotiating hand to ensure we get that possible deal."

    One of the most difficult demands will be the Brexit "divorce settlement," the demand that Britain commit to pay 50-60 billion euros to the EU to cover EU spending up until 2020 when the current budget runs out. According to the negotiating guidelines:

    "10. A single financial settlement should ensure that the Union and the United Kingdom both respect the obligations undertaken before the date of withdrawal. The settlement should cover all legal and budgetary commitments as well as liabilities, including contingent liabilities."

    The settlement includes such things as pension payments to British nationals working for EU employers, and spending commitments for contributions to EU projects and social programs, based on past agreements. It also includes guarantees on loans such as the bailout of Ireland, and spending on infrastructure and structural funds agreed to but still to be financed.

    An additional demand is that all amounts must be paid in euros. This is a particularly painful demand, because the British pound currency has lost almost 10% in value since the Brexit referendum passed last year. Telegraph (London) and Daily Mail (London) and Politico (EU)

    Corrections to yesterday's article on Macedonia

    Early versions of yesterday's article on Macedonia contained several errors. They've been corrected in the final version. I apologize for the errors.

    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Apr-17 World View -- European Union lays out demands for Britain over Brexit negotiations thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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    29-Apr-17 World View -- Protesters storm Macedonia's parliament fearing calls for 'Greater Albania'

    Brief generational history of Macedonia

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Protesters storm Macedonia's parliament fearing calls for 'Greater Albania'


    Protesters clash with police blocking the entrance to the parliament building in Skopje, Macedonia, on Thursday evening (AFP)
    Protesters clash with police blocking the entrance to the parliament building in Skopje, Macedonia, on Thursday evening (AFP)

    On Thursday evening, thousands of ethnic Macedonians surrounded Macedonia's parliament building in the capital city Skopje, and then stormed the building. The protests were triggered when an ethnic Albanian was controversially elected to the post of parliament speaker. The scene was calm by Friday morning, with reports indicating that about 100 people have been injured and in hospitals. (Paragraph corrected, 29-Apr)

    The Macedonians are protesting unending government corruption, as well as demands by Albanian nationalists for a "Greater Albania," an enlargement of the current Albania to include ethnic Albanian populations for neighboring countries.

    The idea of a Greater Albania was launched in the late 1800s, and was favored by Nazi Germany and Italy's Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini during World War II. It was revived during the brief Macedonian civil war in 2001, and is pursued by Albanian nationalists. Many people consider the Albanian nationalist movement to be a danger to the entire region, because it might ignite further wars.

    Other analysts see no fear of war, and several politicians are blaming the whole incident on the United States and the European Union for meddling. Reuters and Macedonia Online and B92 (Belgrade)

    Related Articles

  • Macedonia declares state of emergency along border with Greece (22-Aug-2015)
  • A train station in Macedonia becomes the new European migrant choke point (19-Aug-2015)
  • 22 die in Macedonian police gun battles with Albanian militants (11-May-2015)
  • Brief generational history of Macedonia

    The most famous leader in Macedonia's history is Alexander the Great, considered by many to be the most brilliant military leader of all time. He was born in 356 BC, and became King of Macedonia upon his father's death in 336 BC. He created a vast empire from Greece to Egypt to Persia to India by the time of his death in 323 BC.

    Upon his death, Macedonia and his entire empire were thrown into a succession of violent upheavals. For centuries, Macedonia was important because it controlled the major trading and transportation routes through the Balkans.

    Macedonia was part of the Ottoman Empire from 1371 to 1912. The Balkan Wars of 1912-13 were a generational crisis war for Macedonia, resulting in the country parts of the country under the control of Greece and Serbia.

    After the war, Macedonia became part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. World War II was a non-crisis war for Macedonia. The country was split, with Italian-ruled Albania annexing the western portion, and pro-German Bulgaria annexing the eastern portion. After WW II, Yugoslavia was reconstituted, including Macedonia.

    From the point of view of generational theory, Macedonia is a country that's very difficult to analyze because a constant stream of invasions by neighboring country leave it with no unique history timeline. Macedonia is landlocked, surrounded by Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia and Albania, and all of these countries have, at one time or another, invaded and controlled Macedonia.

    However, when viewed as a part of the Balkans as a whole, its generational timeline becomes clearer. The Balkan wars of 1912-13 were a crisis war that threw the country into decades of chaos, until it was brought under control by the brutal, bloody dictatorship of Marshall Josip Broz Tito starting in 1953, as a Communist satellite of the Soviet Union.

    Tito's death in 1980 coincided with the beginning of generational Crisis era for the Balkan countries, roughly 60 years after the end of World War I. The coalitions that Tito had held together with bloody force began to disintegrate, and in 1991, new Balkan wars began as generational crisis wars. The Bosnia war in particular, ending in 1995, was one of the bloodiest and most brutal wars of recent times.

    In Macedonia, the biggest tensions were between the ethnic Macedonians, with 64% of the population, and the ethnic Albanians, with 25% of the population. The result was a brief civil war in 2001 started by an uprising by ethnic Albanians. There have been sporadic flare-ups between the two ethnic groups since then.


    In 2015, the 'Balkan Route' for refugees leaving Greece began with Macedonia
    In 2015, the 'Balkan Route' for refugees leaving Greece began with Macedonia

    Macedonia has been in the news in recent for other reasons that are worth summarizing now:

    History World and History of Macedonia and NBC News

    Heidelberg Conflict Barometer

    In the course of researching this article, I came across the Heidelberg Conflict Barometer, from the Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research, which is one of the most complete listings and analyses of conflicts going on in the world today. It identifies 18 different disputes currently in the Balkans.

    This study is invaluable for anyone analyzing the world's conflicts today. What the study lacks is any attempt to relate the conflicts to generational timelines. Any college student interested in these subjects could make an invaluable contribution to understanding what's going on in the world today by taking on, as a thesis topic, the problem of relating all today's conflicts to generational timelines. RFE/RL and Heidelberg Conflict Barometer 2016

    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Apr-17 World View -- Protesters storm Macedonia's parliament fearing calls for 'Greater Albania' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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    28-Apr-17 World View -- Israel's warplanes strike weapons depot inside Syria near Damascus

    Israeli analyst: A new war with Hezbollah might involve all of Lebanon

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Israel's warplanes strike weapons depot inside Syria near Damascus


    This fence marks the boundary between Syria and the Golan Heights, which Israel annexed in 1981 (EPA)
    This fence marks the boundary between Syria and the Golan Heights, which Israel annexed in 1981 (EPA)

    Syria's news agency SANA reported that Israel's warplanes struck a military arms depot in Syria near Damascus. The arms depot is believed to be run by Lebanon's Hezbollah, which is controlled by Iran. The airstrikes took place before dawn on Thursday, and resulted in massive explosions that could be seen and heard for miles.

    Israel has taken no sides in the war in Syria, but has struck weapons depots and convoys from time to time in the past when it believes that the weapons are advanced and are intended for delivery to Hezbollah in Lebanon to be used against Israel. The advanced weapons may include precision rockets, advanced anti-aircraft missiles, surface-to-surface missiles and surface-to-ship missiles.

    Usually, Israel refuses to either confirm or deny that it was responsible for any missile attack, but on Thursday, Israel's intelligence minister Israel Katz made a statement that comes very close to confirming that Israel was responsible:

    "I can confirm that the incident in Syria corresponds completely with Israel's policy to act to prevent Iran's smuggling of advanced weapons via Syria to Hezbollah in Iran. Naturally, I don't want to elaborate on this.

    The prime minister has said that whenever we receive intelligence that indicated an intention to transfer advanced weapons to Hezbollah, we will act."

    Russian foreign ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova mildly condemned the Israeli action, but suggested that they might be "justified":

    "Gross violations of Syrian sovereignty, no matter how they are justified, are unacceptable. Moscow condemns acts of aggression against Syria."

    The most serious incident of this kind occurred in mid-March, when an Israeli attack on a weapons convoy traveling to Lebanon was destroyed by Israeli warplanes. There was an unprecedented missile clash over Jordan when Syrian Russian-made S-200 ground to air missiles targeted the Israeli planes without success, but were shot down over Jordan by Israel's Arrow 3 anti-missile defense system.

    These Israeli airstrikes have been going on for years, with an occasional diplomatic condemnation from Russia, like the mild condemnation quoted above, but no military response, although Russia could presumably attack Israel's warplanes with an advanced anti-missile system. It's widely believed that Russia and Israel have an agreement to allow these airstrikes since they have the purpose of preventing a larger regional war between Hezbollah and Israel, which would not be to Russia's liking. BBC and AFP and SANA (Damascus) and Jerusalem Post

    Related Articles

    Israeli analyst: A new war with Hezbollah might involve all of Lebanon

    In 2006, Israel and Hezbollah fought a war that was disastrous for both sides, as it ended in stalemate after a great deal of mutual destruction.

    In an interview on the BBC, Giora Eiland, former head of the Israeli National Security Council, discussed Israel's strategy with regard to the Syria war and a possible future war with Hezbollah. He said that the number one threat that Israel faces is not the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), especially since ISIS is diminishing in power because of attacks on it in Syria. The number one threat that Israel faces is a new war with Hezbollah (my transcription):

    "I think that we have to understand something that is much more important than this kind of very delicate game, and this is what might happen maybe in this summer if the problems in Syria are not necessarily resolved but if Hezbollah, Iran, the Syrians and the Russians feel that they are are the winning side, and Hezbollah might begin to think about the next phase -- the next phase might be to find a reason to be in full confrontation with Israel, and I cannot exclude the possibility that Iran will push them to do something like this.

    And this is something that might bring the whole Middle East to be in a very different situation. And the main message is this: contrary to all previous times, when Israel and Hezbollah had some kind of direct confrontation between them, this time if a fire is launched from Lebanon against Israel, it will lead not only to confrontation with Hezbollah, but to a real confrontation or even a declared official war between Israel and Lebanon. And this is something that might change the regular stories of the Middle East, and I think that Israel might be taking such an approach, because the only way to end the next cycle of violence quickly is to attack Lebanon, and to threaten that the whole state of Lebanon might be devastated, and this might be the only to get the international community to intervene, and to stop the aggression. And this is a scenario that cannot be excluded. ...

    Number one threat for Israel is not ISIS but -- the threat of ISIS is diminishing because of the success of others. If Iran feels it's winning in Syria, it might take advantage of it and send some of its proxies to Lebanon and also the Golan Heights, and might encourage Hezbollah to open another confrontation with Israel. If Hezbollah decides to fight Israel, and since they have missiles that can cover all of Israel, and the number of missiles are tens of thousands, many of them are accurate weapons, then Israel might face a problem that we never faced in the past, and it might lead Israel to take some extreme measures."

    This analysis by Eiland is realistic, but is delusional in one area: If there is a war between Israel and Hezbollah, with thousands of Hezbollah missiles hitting Israeli targets, and it expands to "a declared official war between Israel and Lebanon," then the international community will not be able to end it.

    Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, Jews versus Arabs, and various ethnic groups against each other. This is coming with 100% certainty, irrespective of what Israel and Hezbollah do. AP and LA Times

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Apr-17 World View -- Israel's warplanes strike weapons depot inside Syria near Damascus thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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    27-Apr-17 World View -- Philippines President Duterte seeks to appease China at ASEAN meeting

    The phrase 'Code of Conduct' is the new code word for appeasement

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Philippines President Duterte seeks to appease China at ASEAN meeting


    Rodrigo Duterte and Xi Jinping share a warm greeting and handshake (Reuters)
    Rodrigo Duterte and Xi Jinping share a warm greeting and handshake (Reuters)

    This week's meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is generating controversy because the draft statement to be issued makes no mention of China's militarization of the South China Sea or the dramatic ruling by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague declaring China's claims and activities in the South China Sea to be illegal.

    The person who is going easy on China is this meeting's rotating chairman, who this year is Philippine's president Rodrigo R. Duterte. In October of last year, Duterte went to Beijing and met with China's president Xi Jingping. In exchange for receiving millions of dollars in investments and loans from China, Duterte agreed to cancel some agreements with the United States and to forget about China's illegal activities in the South China Sea.

    Last year's ASEAN statement emphasized the importance of "non-militarization and self-restraint in the conduct of all activities, including land reclamation." But Duterte's watered-down statement will drop references, or even allusions, to China's construction of artificial islands and the military hardware it has placed on them. Instead, the statement says:

    "We reaffirmed the importance of enhancing mutual trust and confidence, exercising self-restraint in the conduct of activities, avoiding actions that may further complicate the situation."

    The Philippine people view the United States far more favorably than they do China, and so Duterte's flip-flop on China has never been particularly possible. Duterte's own defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana has vocally expressed criticisms of China's activities, especially as it seemed that China plans to build another military base on the critical Scarborough Shoal.

    On Tuesday, the former foreign affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario raised 5 concerns about Duterte's appeasement policy:

    Of course Duterte has no answer to Rosario's questions. Rosario says that the Philippines should take full advantage of last year's PCA ruling, and make sure that international law is upheld in the region. According to Rosario:

    "Philippine interests are best promoted when all states, of any size or power, adhere to the commonly agreed upon standards that govern countries’ rights and relationships. International law, in my view, is the great equalizer. Through it, a country of 100 million people is the equal of one that is more powerful, and that is more than ten times its size.

    As this year’s chair of ASEAN, the Philippines has a unique and an important opportunity to dwell on how we can work with our neighbors to ensure that this rules-based order succeeds. The purpose of our cooperation should go beyond maintaining friendly ties; we must also cooperate to ensure that we live in a neighborhood where countries follow the rules and uphold their commitments."

    Duterte's proposed statement may yet be changed before it's officially issued by ASEAN on Saturday. Other ASEAN members whose territories in the South China Sea that China is confiscating include Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei. They may pressure Duterte to make a more aggressive statement. However Cambodia, which also receives a great deal of money from China, would fight such a move, and force a compromise similar to Duterte's appeasement statement. Manila Times and Reuters and Rappler (Philippines)

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    The phrase 'Code of Conduct' is the new code word for appeasement

    There's a new code phrase used by people who want to appease China. The phrase is "Code of Conduct" or CoC. The idea is to negotiate with China to agree to a code of conduct in the South China Sea, so that everyone can live in peace. It's totally laughable to believe that China would agree to any code of conduct, or to follow any code of conduct it agreed to, but calling for a CoC is the easy solution for someone who doesn't want to confront China.

    There's an obvious comparison to the United States relation with North Korea. For decades, the US appeased North Korea, hoping that appeasement could end its development of nuclear weapons. It hasn't worked, as North Korea is now on the verge, within perhaps a couple of years, of developing a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile that could reach the United States.

    The policy of appeasing North Korea has been a complete failure, and now under president Donald Trump the policy is being reversed to be a lot more confrontational.

    Duterte's policy of appeasement toward China is not going to work either. China is determined to continue with its heavy militarization of the South China Sea and, perhaps within a couple of years, will have the entire South China Sea under its military control.

    The US also has a policy of appeasement toward China. As regular Generational Dynamics readers know, China has been aggressively preparing for full-scale war with the United States for years. They've developed one nuclear ballistic missile system after another, and manufactured perhaps hundreds of those missiles, with no other purpose than to destroy American cities, military bases and aircraft carriers. These developments have been deliberately planned, and it's clear that China plans to attack at a time of its own choosing. The US has chosen to ignore this vast military buildup directed at us, just as Duterte is ignoring China's military buildup in the South China Sea.

    Appeasement as a strategy doesn't work, and leads to war. North Korea is developing is nuclear-tipped missile, China is continuing to militarize the South China Sea and also to develop missile systems targeting the United States, and in 1938 Britain's prime minister Neville Chamberlain's appeasement of Adolf Hitler didn't prevent World War II.

    The problem is that the opposite of appeasement also doesn't work, and also leads to war, perhaps more quickly. If Neville Chamberlain had declared war on Nazi Germany instead of declaring "peace in our time," then WW II would simply have occurred sooner. Donald Trump is currently discovering that there's no credible way to prevent North Korea's development of a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile without a major war that would devastate South Korea. The Philippines could do nothing to stop China's huge military buildup in the South China Sea, so Rodrigo Duterte decided to make the best of it by getting some money out of the situation. If you're going to die anyway, you might as well get 30 pieces of silver first. And no one even wants to think about some alternative to appeasement of China in view of that country's evident plans for a preemptive attack on the United States.

    There's a halfway measure - sanctions, but that hasn't worked either in the case of North Korea, which has survived enormous sanctions.

    As with so many problems that I've written about over the years, these problems have no solution. In each case, the rogue countries will continue that path to full-scale war, and other countries will use appeasement because there's no other way to proceed. Finally the war begins, causing millions or billions of deaths, and it ends with an international conference that issues a statement saying "Never again," but it always happens again. Inquirer (Manila) and Philippine Star

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Apr-17 World View -- Philippines President Duterte seeks to appease China at ASEAN meeting thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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    26-Apr-17 World View -- Turkey's warplanes strike Kurdish militias fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq

    US State Dept. says that it's 'deeply concerned' about the Turkish airstrikes

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Turkey's warplanes strike Kurdish militias fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq


    Members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)
    Members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)

    In Syria, Turkey's warplanes struck Kurdish militias known as the People's Protection Units, or YPG, who are allies of the US-led coalition fighting the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). The YPG said that Turkey's airstrikes killed 20 of its fighters and wounded 18 others, and caused extensive damage to YPG headquarters and nearby civilian property.

    Although the US considers the YPG to be the most effective fighting force on the group against ISIS, Turkey considers them to be an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK have been conducting an anti-government insurgency in Turkey since 1978, and have conducted numerous terror attacks on civilian targets in Turkey.

    The YPG denounced the airstrikes as "treacherous," accusing Turkey of undermining the fight against ISIS. "By this attack, Turkey is trying to undermine the Raqqa operation, give ISIS time to reorganize and put in danger lives of thousands of [people]."

    In Iraq, Turkish warplanes struck Kurdish targets in the Qandil mountains in northeastern Iraq and on Sinjar mountain in northern Iraq. The PKK stronghold is in the Qandil mountains, and Turkey's warplanes have been targeting that region for years.

    The strikes on Sinjar mountain are a new development. According to reports from Kurdish sources, one PKK fighter was killed, but the airstrikes also killed five Peshmerga and wounded nine others. Peshmerga are the Kurdish militias that are part of the effort to expel ISIS from Mosul.

    The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), which says that it is distinct from the PKK, condemned the airstrikes on Sinjar mountain, but also asked the PKK to leave the area.

    The Iraqi parliament's deputy speaker denounced the airstrikes in Sinjar, saying that they have no justification:

    "The air strikes will affect the relations between both countries and will spoil stability in the area while the Iraqi forces are launching operations against ISIS in Mosul."

    A military statement from Turkey said that the airstrikes hit shelters, ammunition depots and key control centers, to prevent infiltration of Kurdish rebels, weapons, ammunition and explosives from those areas across the border into Turkey:

    "To destroy these terror hubs which threaten the security, unity and integrity of our country and our nation and as part of our rights based on international law, airstrikes have been carried out ... and terrorist targets have been struck with success."

    The statement said that dozens of militants were "neutralized." AP and NRT TV (Kurdistan) and Deutsche Welle

    PKK conducts new terror attack in southeastern Turkey

    At least 10 Turkish soldiers were killed in two separate attacks the PKK on Sunday, in the southeastern cities of Diyarbakir and Sirnak.

    On Saturday, Turkey's military reported the death of 14 PKK fighters in two separate offensives, also in southeastern Turkey. ARA News

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    US State Dept. says that it's 'deeply concerned' about the Turkish airstrikes

    Turkey has long objected to the use of any Kurdish militias in the fight against ISIS in either Syria or Iraq, and has taken its own military action in Syria to block attempts by the Kurds to create an independent Kurdish state of Rojava along the northern border of Syria with Turkey.

    However, this has brought the US and Turkey into sharp disagreement, the Kurdish militias in Syria and Iraq have been extremely effective in fighting ISIS, and indeed are thought to the most effective fighting force against ISIS.

    On Tuesday, US State Department spokesman Mark Toner expressed deep concern over Turkey's airstrikes:

    "Now, turning to Turkey, and I think it was your last question, so we are very concerned – deeply concerned – that Turkey conducted airstrikes earlier today in northern Syria, as well as northern Iraq, without proper coordination either with the United States or the broader global coalition to defeat ISIS. And we’ve expressed those concerns to the Government of Turkey directly. These airstrikes were not approved by the coalition and led to the unfortunate loss of life of our partner forces in the fight against ISIS that includes members of the Kurdish Peshmerga. I would also note that the concerns – or rather note the concerns expressed by the Government of Iraq and reaffirm our view that military action in Iraq should respect Iraqi sovereignty.

    And just finally, given the very complex battle space in these areas, it’s vital that Turkey and all partners in the effort to defeat ISIS coordinate their actions as closely as possible as we work together to maintain pressure to destroy ISIS on the battlefield in order to ensure that we meet that goal but also that we ensure the safety of all coalition personnel who are operating in that – as I said, in that theater."

    Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan apologized for the death of the Peshmerga fighters. He contradicted Toner by claiming that the US had been informed of the airstrikes in advance, and said that the airstrikes will continue:

    "We are obliged to take measures. We must take steps. We informed the US, Russia, northern Iraq and [Kurdish President Masoud] Barzani before we bombed PKK positions in Sinjar. We will not allow Sinjar to become a PKK base.

    Our operations in Sinjar and northern Syria will continue."

    Turkey's airstrikes in Syria are becoming particularly dangerous. There are now roughly three different sets of forces operating in Syria: The Syrian regime + Russia, Turkey + the Free Syrian Army comprised mainly of ethnic Syrian Turkmens, and the US-led coalition + the Kurdish militia.

    These three forces are currently united only because of the fight against the common enemy, ISIS. But once ISIS has been expelled from its stronghold Raqqa, then they may turn on each other. The Kurdish YPG has already threatened revenge against Turkey for Tuesday's airstrikes.

    Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, Jews versus Arabs, and various ethnic groups against each other. State Dept. and Rudaw (Kurdistan) and CNN

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Apr-17 World View -- Turkey's warplanes strike Kurdish militias fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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    25-Apr-17 World View -- In Pakistan, you may murder anyone with impunity by accusing him of blasphemy first

    Even Pakistan is shocked by three blasphemy murders in 11 days

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    In Pakistan, you may murder anyone with impunity by accusing him of blasphemy first


    Mashal Khan, lynched and killed by his college roommates after they falsely accused him of blasphemy (Facebook photo)
    Mashal Khan, lynched and killed by his college roommates after they falsely accused him of blasphemy (Facebook photo)

    In Pakistan, accusing someone of defiling Islam or the Prophet Mohammed, even if the accusations are 100% false, is a free ticket to murder someone with impunity.

    Blasphemy has long been treated as a crime in many countries, including Christian countries, although rarely enforced. Many countries have repealed their blasphemy laws.

    In Pakistan, blasphemy laws were first codified by the British colonial rulers in 1860, and expanded in 1927. Pakistan inherited these laws after Partition in 1947 created the country. Between 1947 and 1985, there were only 14 known legal cases of blasphemy. But in 1986, Pakistan broadened the blasphemy laws and made it a capital offense. Since that year, over 4,000 cases of blasphemy have been registered. Since 1990, there have been at least 66 murders over unproven allegations of blasphemy.

    The law, as it was passed in 1992, said:

    "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."

    So anyone accused of blasphemy can be jailed, tortured and executed. There is apparently no need for blasphemy accusers to provide proof, and therefore someone accused of blasphemy has no defense. Analysts claim that blasphemy laws are most often used against Christians, Shia Muslims, and other non-Sunni Muslim sects such as the Ahmadis.

    Prior to 2011, there were many calls to reform the blasphemy laws. But in 2011, Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province, tried to reform the blasphemy laws, and was shot dead by his own bodyguard. For years the murderer was not prosecuted, but was actually treated as a hero by other politicians and lawyers for having killed a blasphemer -- using the twisted logic that calling for reform of the blasphemy laws is itself an act of blasphemy worthy of instant murder.

    Since then, politicians in fear of their lives have refrained from calling for any reforms to the blasphemy laws, while judges and lawyers are afraid to defend accused blasphemers, even when there's no evidence. The result is that blasphemy charges are freely used for personal disputes, and even allow a murder with impunity. BBC (6-Nov-2014) and Christians In Pakistan and South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP - India) and Reuters (20-Apr)

    Even Pakistan is shocked by three blasphemy murders in 11 days

    In recent years, I've reported on dozens of terror attacks by Pakistan terror groups on Pakistan civilians. These most often target Shia Muslims, and a single terror attack might kill dozens or even hundreds of people, including women and children.

    If terror attacks are used for mass slaughter, then killing based on the blasphemy laws can be thought of as terror attacks on an individual basis. If you don't like your next door neighbor, you probably can't kill him with a bomb, but you can shoot him dead after accusing him of blasphemy. And if he's a Shia Muslim or Christian, there'll usually be no punishment.

    However, there have been a sudden rash of the blasphemy killings, with three of them in the 11 days, causing the normally unshockable people in the Pakistani public to actually be shocked.

    On April 13, college student Mashal Khan was accused of blasphemy by his roommates in a hostel where they were all living. The mob of roommates brutally lynched Mashal Khan, beating him before shooting him in the head and chest. The mob then continued to beat his dead body with sticks.

    Apparently Mashal's crime was a tv interview where he complained about the administration of the college he was attending, and called for reduced college fees. Mashal's cousin wants to go to college, but his father is telling him, "Don’t go to a university. They kill children there."

    Since then, two other blasphemy charges have turned into mob violence. On April 19, three girls in their 20s wearing burqas shot dead Fazal Abbas. Abbas had been accused of blasphemy in 2004, and had fled the country to Denmark. He only returned to Pakistan recently to defend himself against the blasphemy charges. He was out on bail when the three girls killed him. One was quoted as saying, "we couldn’t kill him at the time [2004] because we were too young then."

    On April 21, Rashid Ahmed was accused of uttering "blasphemous remarks" during Friday prayers at a mosque in northwest Pakistan. The worshippers in the mosque started beating the man. Six police officers were injured trying to rescue him. The mosque's imam saved him, and turned him over to police.

    According to witnesses, Ahmed entered the mosque asking to make an important announcement. He then declared himself a messiah and said he would lead his followers to paradise. According to police, the man is suffering from mental illness.

    These brutal murders have shocked Pakistan, and there are renewed calls to reform the blasphemy laws. But there's little hope of any real reform. This is a country that pays terrorists to attack targets in India and Afghanistan, and the same psychopathic vitriol that permeates Pakistan's clerical establishment also protects the blasphemy laws and particularly their use in freely killing Shia Muslims and Christians. Daily Times (Pakistan) and Al Jazeera and Geo TV (Pakistan 18-Apr) and Express Tribune (Pakistan)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Apr-17 World View -- In Pakistan, you may murder anyone with impunity by accusing him of blasphemy first thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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    24-Apr-17 World View -- Kenya's herders attack well-known conservationist, stoking tribal tensions

    Battle between Kenya's farmers and herders morphs into tribal conflict

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Kenya's herders attack well-known conservationist, stoking tribal tensions


    Kuki Gallmann
    Kuki Gallmann

    Well-known Italian conservationist Kuki Gallmann, 73, was shot in the stomach on Sunday by herders who invaded her Gallmann Laikipia Nature Conservancy in Laikipia county in Kenya's Rift Valley. Gallmann was airlifted to Nairobi for treatment.

    Hours later on the same day, a Kenya police reservists was shot and seriously injured by herders at the Sosian Ranch, also in Laikipia country. In early March, Tristan Voorspuy, a British citizen and former British army officer, was ambushed by herders and shot dead.

    Ms. Gallmann's Laikipia Nature Conservancy has been under attack by herders off and on for months. Last month, cattle herders burned down her lodge. The lodge is s frequented mainly by European tourists, who can pay more than $650 a night to stay. However, no visitors were present when the lodge was burned down.

    On Sunday, Ms. Gallmann was patrolling her ranch when she was ambushed and shot near her home. Security officers shot some of the herders and captured them.

    The big picture, that I've described many times in Central African Republic, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, and even America in the 1800s, is that this is part of a classic and recurring battle between herders and farmers. 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. Daily Nation (Kenya) and NPR and Citizen TV (Kenya)

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    Battle between Kenya's farmers and herders morphs into tribal conflict

    Early in 2008, there was a period of extremely bloody inter-tribal violence in Kenya. The worst atrocity occurred when 30 people died in a fire. Dozens of people had gone to the church to escape increasing violence, when a youthful gang set the church on fire, trapping people inside.

    The violence was described as "ethnic cleansing." The Kalenjins, whose nomadic lifestyle was typical of herders, were "cleansing" a region of a different tribe, the Kikuyus, who were mostly farmers, either killing the Kikuyus or forcing them to leave the region. The violence was triggered when Mwai Kibaki, the leader of the Kikuyu tribe, was elected president of Kenya in December 2007.

    Today's renewed violence in and around the Rift Valley is also heavily tied into politics, especially with another election scheduled for August. President Uhuru Kenyatta is from the market-dominant Kikuyu tribe, while the opposition Coalition for Reform and Democracy (CORD), is led by Raila Odinga of the marginalized Luo tribe, which is an offshoot of the Kalenjins.

    Dating back to British colonial times, the Kikuyu tribe has been market-dominant, and the Kikuyus, as well as Europeans like Gallmann, owned large tracts of land for farming and conservancy. As the population of Kalenjins has grown, the population of their cattle and other livestock has grown as well. So it was inevitable that sooner or later a clash would occur.

    But farmers and land owners are claiming that politicians from the Kalenjins and other nomadic tribes are actually inciting violence by the herders. According to Martin Evans, chairman of the Laikipia Farmers' Association:

    "It started a year ago. At the time it started, there was plenty of rain, it was nothing to do with lack of grass at that time so yes, I think it's definitely being pushed by politicians."

    Farmers are accusing politicians and police of being cattle owners who stand to gain from the attacks. According to an NPR analyst:

    "You have nomadic herders who are moving into private wildlife conservancies with thousands of heads of cattle. And in response, the Kenyan government launched a military-style operation to push the herders out. But what we've seen is an escalation of violence. Police have killed lots of cows. And the herders have responded by burning tourist lodges on the properties."

    In the past, there was a friendly relationship between herders and farmers. Farmers would allow herders with small herds to graze on their conservancies. But in the past year, these small herds have turned into thousands of heads of cattle, and farms are being attacked, not by cattle, but by human invaders. After last month's attack on Ms. Gallmann's property, nearly 400 herders were arrested for crimes unrelated to grazing.

    Politicians who incite tribal violence are really playing with fire. The current battles between herders and farmers is reviving many of the tribal hatreds that were present during the 2008 violence

    The 2008 violence was so bad that many analysts feared that it would spread into a major war. As I wrote at the time, that was very unlikely to happen. Kenya's last generational crisis war was the "Mau-Mau Rebellion." Britain had been exerting a fairly heavy hand as a colonial power, starting from the 1850s. An independence movement began in earnest in the late 1940s, leading to the generational crisis civil war that began in 1952 and climaxed in 1956.

    In 2008, only 52 years had passed since the climax of the previous generational crisis war. Generational Dynamics analysis of hundreds of wars in all places throughout history shows that a new crisis war very rarely begins until at least 58 years had passed since the climax of the previous crisis war. That's because until that time, there are still survivors of the previous crisis war in power, and they exert influence and power to prevent a new crisis war from occurring. But after 58 years or more have passed, the survivors no longer had power, and younger generations with no fear of war take over.

    So in 2008, a bloody spurt of tribal violence flared, but it fizzled fairly quickly because the time was not yet ripe.

    That was 2008. Today, Kenya is in a generational Crisis era, 61 years past the climax of the preceding crisis war, so few of the survivors of that war are still around. So when tribal violence begins in Kenya today, there's a very real possibility that it could spiral into a full-scale generational crisis war, such as happened in Rwanda in 1994, or is happening today in the Central African Republic.

    With a new election approaching in August, and with politicians inciting herders to violence, Kenya is in real danger of having a major new tribal war. The Star (Kenya 20-Jan-2017) and NPR (3-Apr) and Telegraph (London 31-Mar) and UPenn - Kenya ethnic groups

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Apr-17 World View -- Kenya's herders attack well-known conservationist, stoking tribal tensions thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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    23-Apr-17 World View -- Scientists worldwide hold an international March for Money on 'Earth Day'

    Rural America and Working Class America

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Scientists worldwide hold an international March for Money on 'Earth Day'


    Thanks to fracking, the US carbon emission problem is taking care of itself, with energy carbon emissions down by 25% since 2007.  (AEI)
    Thanks to fracking, the US carbon emission problem is taking care of itself, with energy carbon emissions down by 25% since 2007. (AEI)

    Hundreds of thousands of scientists in 600 cities around the world held "March for Science" marches to make largely incoherent demands for more money for pretty much anything. The universal complaint was Donald Trump and climate change, but Obamacare and various science projects were also mentioned.

    In other countries, there were other complaints. In Canada, scientists to complain to Liberal leader Justin Trudeau for cutting back on funding for science projects. According to Lori Burrows, professor and senior scientist, McMaster University:

    "Despite the [Justin] Trudeau government's promise of sunnier ways for science, we are still waiting for those rays to break through the storm clouds."

    So I gather from professor Burrows that Justin Trudeau must be as bad as Donald Trump. Tsk, tsk.

    Media coverage was as ridiculous as ever. Here's what I heard from Robert Young, professor of coastal geology at Western Carolina University (my transcription):

    "I don't think the people who need to meet a scientist will be at this march nor will those people be experiencing the media coverage of the march. The problem that we have, at least in the United States, is that we all get our information and our news from different sources these days. So the folks living in rural America and working class America, that we would be like to reach in a march for science, and the folks we would like to explain how important science is, they're not gonna be watching the news outlets that will be covering the march in a favorable way. They're not gonna watch National Public Radio, or the BBC, or read the New York Times or the Washington Post or the Guardian.

    They're going to get their information and their coverage from Fox News and from conservative blogosphere. And those outlets will cover the march in a completely different way in a negative connotation."

    Really? The problem is that "rural America and working class America" doesn't listen to left-wing media sources -- NPR, BBC, NYT, WaPost and the Guardian?? That's why these people are marching? This is so idiotic that it's hard to stop laughing. If there are any students at Western Carolina University reading this, please inform Prof. Robert Young that father does not always know best and that he sounds like an idiot.

    The real problem is people in the mainstream media and in colleges believe every bit of nonsense that they hear on NPR, etc., and think that everything else is "fake news." So let's talk about climate change, and talk about some "facts." CBS and Canadian Broadcasting and Deutsche Welle

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    Climate change -- a self-correcting problem

    The climate scientists don't like to talk about this, but climate change has been self-correcting.

    Since 2007, the US has reduced CO2 emissions by about 25%, mainly due to fracking, according to data released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). That's how technological innovation always works. When a problem occurs, somebody figures out a way to make money out of solving it, and the problem gets solved. This needs no help from the government, as shown by the Solyndra disaster.

    Everyone is criticizing president Trump for backing out of the Paris climate change agreement. Why? If we're already dramatically reducing carbon emissions, why should America even care about the Paris agreement? The answer, of course, is about money. No one seriously believes that any of the huge climate change proposals will actually do anything to reduce carbon emissions. The climate scientists want America to pay ever more money into their projects. Like Saturday's "March for Science," everything is about political power and money.

    Fracking has not yet brought about carbon emissions in other countries, but we can feel certain that new technologies will come along that will solve the problem in every country, as it has in the United States, and that government will have nothing to do with it. AEI and Energy Information Administration

    Climate change predictions

    So-called scientists talk endlessly that "climate change is caused by human activity." OK, so let's grant that. Climate change is caused by human activity. Those are the "facts" that scientists claim have been proven.

    Next we hear that the earth's temperature will rise 2 degrees by 2100. That's not a "proven scientific fact." That's an unproven prediction, and it's a political prediction at that. There is no science that proves this figure. The figure is based on straight-line extrapolations of recent trends, which cannot be proven or even justified.

    As developer of Generational Dynamics, one could say that I'm in the "prediction business." My web site has almost 4,000 articles since 2003, containing hundreds of Generational Dynamics predictions, all of which are coming true or are trending true. None has been shown to be wrong. All these articles and predictions are still available on my web site to anyone wanting to prove me wrong -- and several people have tried and failed. So I'm one of the best experts around on predictions.

    That's not true for climate change and environment predictions. History is flooded with hundreds of them from "respected" scientists, many of which have turned out wrong and even spectacularly wrong.

    My favorite was the prediction that I read in far left-wing magazine Ramparts Magazine in 1970. The prediction was that the oceans were becoming so polluted that by 1980 the world's oceans would be covered by a layer of algae. It didn't happen.

    One of the most respected prediction, endorsed by as many scientists in 1972 as endorse climate change today, was the "Limits to Growth" predictions by the Club of Rome. The report said that the world would grind to a halt because of pollution within a few decades. Some time later, it turned out that their predictions had a flaw based on their computer program written in Fortran. Anyway, their predictions haven't come true.

    And of course in the 1970s, the problem was going to be "global cooling." Within twenty years, it had turned into "global warming."

    There are hundreds of documented environmental and climate change predictions by respected scientists that have turned out to be wrong. How stupid do you have to be to believe more climate change predictions when so many in the past have been spectacularly wrong?

    So yes, climate change really is a hoax, even if you assume that all the science that proves that human activity is true. All the predictions that come after that are not science -- they're guesses, based on unjustifiable extrapolations.

    As I said, I'm an expert on making predictions, so I can tell you some places where the climate change scientists are making faulty assumptions.

    First, they're assuming that there will be no world wars. There have been world wars every century for millennia, and this century will be no different. As I've written in the past, I expect a world war in the next ten years or so. Nuclear weapons will be used. Lots of factories and power infrastructure will be destroyed.

    How will that affect climate change? The climate scientists are afraid to talk about that subject, so I'll take a guess. If a lot of infrastructure is destroyed, then I would guess that carbon emissions will fall dramatically. Of course, climate scientists don't want to talk about that.

    Second, climate scientists are completely ignoring technological developments. We already discussed how fracking has reduced US carbon emissions by 25%, something the climate scientists would rather eat mud than ever talk about.

    Well, we can see all kinds of technological developments on the horizon that may well have application to carbon emissions and climate change. For example, biotechnology might produce an organism that eats carbon dioxide the way a tree does. Or we may develop space capsules that can deliver millions of tons of carbon dioxide into space. Or computerized robots may be able to clean things up that humans can't.

    How will these technological developments affect that 2 degree temperature prediction? Well climate scientists don't know, and I don't know, but history has shown that some solution will emerge.

    There's an almost exact historical parallel to the climate change problem that climate scientists hate to even think about. Think of all the cars in New York City, and imagine if those cars were all horses. That's the problem that all big cities had in the 1890s. A horse produces between 7 and 15 kilos of manure daily. In New York in 1900, the population of 100,000 horses produced nearly 1,200 metric tons of horse manure per day, which all had to be swept up and disposed of. In addition, each horse produces nearly a liter of urine per day, which also ended up on the streets. Also, many horses died each day, and their corpses had to be removed.

    There was a big international urban planning conference in New York City in 1898. The major topic that dominated the conference was not housing, land use, economic development or infrastructure. It was horse manure. The participants left in disgust.

    The crisis was resolved quickly with new technology: the automobile. By 1912 there were more cars than horses on the road in New York City. By 1920, the problem had all but disappeared, with no government intervention.

    The same thing will happen with the climate change problem. The Great Horse Manure Crisis of 1894

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    Rural America and Working Class America

    Let's circle back to the real problem in America today, that people like Prof. Robert Young of Western Carolina University are totally contemptuous of "rural America and working class America." People like Young -- and there are plenty of them -- are completely delusional.

    The funny thing is that the working class people can sense what's going on, because they have to do real work for a living. When you have climate scientists marching through Washington DC demanding money and claiming that they know what they earth's temperature will be in 2100, when they can't accurately predict the temperature two weeks from now, these worker class people know intuitively that they're being mocked.

    Even after all these months, people like Young -- and there are plenty of them -- don't have the vaguest clue how Donald Trump was elected president. It's really quite amazing that Young could say anything as stupid as what's quoted above, but that's how people at NPR, BBC, NYT, WaPost and the Guardian, and that's also how most college professors think these days.

    The funny thing is, as I reported above, scientists in Canada are just as angry at the ultra-liberal Justin Trudeau as American scientists are at Donald Trump. If Justin Trudeau doesn't think Canada should spend money on climate change, then why should Donald Trump think that America should do so? In the end, climate scientists don't really care about climate change at all. All they care about is how much money they can get from taxpayers. And since it's the "working class" people who supply all that tax money, they should be more respectful of these people, and far less contemptuous.

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Apr-17 World View -- Scientists worldwide hold an international March for Money on 'Earth Day' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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    22-Apr-17 World View -- Kashmiri students at two Indian colleges harassed and beaten

    Indians seek solutions and blame intervention from Pakistan and China

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Kashmiri students at two Indian colleges harassed and beaten


    Kashmiri students at Rajasthan University (Kashmir Monitor)
    Kashmiri students at Rajasthan University (Kashmir Monitor)

    It seems that hardly a day goes by without the situation in Indian-governed Kashmir becoming worse than the day before.

    Students studying in colleges in India far from Kashmir are being harassed and beaten by perpetrators described a "nationalist Hindus."

    At Rajasthan University, six Muslim Kashmiri students were called "terrorists" and assaulted by locals. According to one:

    "Six of us were assaulted in three separate attacks that took place at the same time in the market. The attacks seemed coordinated. They hurled abuses, called us terrorists and said we throw stones at the army. They told us to go back to Kashmir and threatened that they won’t let us study here."

    The words "said we throw stones at the army" refers to the worsening situation in Kashmir, where separatists are throwing stones at police and army personnel, and security forces are shooting Kashmiris with pellet guns, sometimes blinding them.

    At another college, Rawal Institute of Technology, female Kashmiri students are being harassed and threatened. According to one student, "The boys used abusive language today and followed Kashmiri girls which led to clashes between Kashmir boys and offenders."

    I've written enough of these stories about Kashmir to know how emotional the responses to this article will be. Some people will put the blame entirely on the Muslims, or at least on the Kashmiri separatists, and other people will put the blame entirely on the Hindus, or at least on the government security forces.

    But I'm just reporting an ongoing situation that gets worse almost every day, and is almost certainly going to lead to war.

    India's Home Affairs Minister Rajnath Singh issued a directive saying that the Kashmiris were part of India's "family," and that:

    "The Kashmiri youth also contribute in the progress of India. Action should be taken by the states against those who target them."

    Many Indians blame the "Islamization" of Kashmir by Pakistan. On the other hand, Pakistan's Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria said:

    "Indian occupation forces have launched an all-out war on Kashmiri students. They have attacked women’s education institutions as well. A dozen colleges have been attacked, injuring thousands of students – both boys and girls."

    Whatever the truth is, it's clear that the situation in Kashmir has worsened significantly in the last year, and even worsened significantly in the last couple of weeks. Kashmir Monitor and Kashmir Observer and Express Tribune (Pakistan)

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    Indians seek solutions and blame intervention from Pakistan and China

    As I've written many times, the situation in Kashmir is on a trend line that's spiraling into full-scale war. 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 showing signs of repeating the violence of 1857 and 1947.

    Indians accuse Pakistan of encouraging the Kashmir violence, and even supporting it with money and weapons. There's little doubt that the accusations are true. After all, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) organization has funded terrorist groups that have attacked targets in both India and Aghanistan.

    And now an opinion writer is blaming China:

    "While the Chinese claim to have been miffed over the Dalai Lama’s visit to Tawang and Arunachal Pradesh, and have now given Chinese names to places in that state to buttress their territorial claims, the reality is that the dragon is keen to have the status quo changed in Jammu & Kashmir too. Reason: large parts of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir are critical to its new China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), including land access to Gwadar port in Balochistan.

    Without the covert Chinese go-ahead to Pakistani aims in J&K, it is doubtful if an economically and politically isolated country would have dared change the game in Kashmir Valley. Here’s what’s new in this round of bloodletting in the Valley. ...

    China may not be overtly keen to promote Pakistan-based jihadis who may well end up becoming a headache in its own Xinjiang province, where the Muslim Uighurs are restive. But one thing is certain: it appears to have decided to prop up the Pakistani deep state, both to further its own economic interests, and as a way of containing India.

    Chinese pressure on Pakistan to declare Gilgit-Baltistan as its fifth province is key to legalizing its highway to Gwadar, which passes through this area. China has decided that a strong Pakistan is in its interests – and this has negative consequences for India, especially in terms of Pakistan’s Kashmir policy."

    It's very likely that this accusation is true as well. After all, China is building artificial islands in the South China Sea, and using its vast military power to threaten regions belonging to Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan and India. So China wouldn't hesitate to subvert Kashmir for its own imagined benefit.

    The problem is that while these accusations are true, they make no difference. Pakistan, and probably China, have been subverting Kashmir for years, but it had only a transient effect until the last year. What's changed is that the younger generations, with little fear of a new war, are driving the violence. The growing violence in Kashmir is leading to all-out war, and it won't be stopped.

    One Indian editorial writer is claiming that the problems in Kashmir can be solved, and that there are three solutions:

    Of course these "solutions" are completely delusional, though it's good to have them listed. I do wonder if these solutions might have been effective if they had been adopted wholeheartedly starting in the 1970s. At any rate, it's way too late now.

    Furthermore, with Kashmiri students being harassed and beaten in colleges far away from Kashmir, we're seeing the Kashmir violence begin to spread to other parts of India. This is a new development, and it portends more and more violence this summer.

    As I've been writing for years, Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, and that China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the US, India, Russia and Iran. Times of India and BBC and Daily O (India)

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    21-Apr-17 World View -- Cameroon's president finally caves in, restores internet to English speakers

    With violence in Venezuela's streets continuing, Maduro confiscates GM factories

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Cameroon's president finally caves in, restores internet to English speakers


    During protests earlier this year, Anglophone protesters used catapult against police in Bamenda, Cameroon (RFI)
    During protests earlier this year, Anglophone protesters used catapult against police in Bamenda, Cameroon (RFI)

    Cameroon's president Paul Biya on Thursday finally gave in after 93 days and restored internet access to the "Southern Cameroons," the region of Cameroon populated by English-speaking or Anglophone people.

    Biya shut down the internet to Anglophones in November of last year, following clashes between English-speaking (Anglophone) protesters and police. The protests were over discrimination and marginalization of the Anglophones by the French-speaking (Francophone) majority.

    The protests were initially led by Anglophone lawyers in the city of Bamenda to protest that the legal and court systems are biased toward Francophones, with many laws passed without even being translated into English. That demonstration was dispersed by security forces using tear gas.

    Two weeks later, the demonstrators were joined by Anglophone teachers who were protesting that the government was deploying Francophone teachers teach the French language in Anglophone regions. The government decided was appointing French-speaking teachers and judges who barely understand English to Anglophone schools and courts.

    Thousands of Anglophone Cameroonians brought coffins to the demonstrations, proclaiming that they were ready to die and be burned in their coffins. The demonstrations turned violent when security forces fired tear gas and live bullets to disperse the demonstrators. At least six protesters were shot dead and hundreds others arrested by security forces.

    With teachers and lawyers on strike, shutting down the internet was apparently Biya's method of bringing the Anglophones to heel.

    However, shutting down the internet has been disastrous for Cameroon's economy. It was particularly disastrous for businesses in the Southern Cameroons, which had no internet access, and so could not conduct business. But individuals were hurt as well, since they couldn't pay bills or make online purchases.

    Shutting down the internet was a really dumb thing to do, but Cameroon's economy has lost some $3.1 million because of the internet blackout, according to the French NGO, Internet sans Frontières (Internet without Borders). Furthermore, with the schools shut because of the teachers' strike, Cameroon was threatened with an aid cutoff from UNESCO.

    Biya's ending the internet block will not solve the underlying tensions between Anglophones and Francophones, which date back to colonial times when there was a British Cameroon and a French Cameroon. The two colonies were pasted together in what was supposed to be a federal system where the Anglophone and Francophone regions were equal. But, Paul Biya came to power in 1982 and, as usual in African countries, Biya has turned into a dictator. He had hoped that shutting down the internet would make everyone happy and peaceful again, but instead it impoverished and infuriated many people, especially Anglophones. Cameroon Concord and Africa News and Anadolu (31-Mar)

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    With violence in Venezuela's streets continuing, Maduro confiscates GM factories

    Venezuela continued to be a showcase for the disastrous outcome of every Socialist government in history, as violence in the streets of Venezuela continued on Thursday, leading protesters to clashes with security forces who used tear gas, beatings and other violence.

    The protesters are demanding that president Nicolás Maduro hold elections so that he can be replaced, but like almost every Socialist leader in history, Maduro prefers to have the streets filled with rivers of blood than give up power.

    As the economy continues to crash because of his Socialist policies, Maduro is forced to adopt increasingly desperate measures. Last month, he ordered the arrest of bakers because there wasn't enough break available.

    Previously, Maduro ordered the jailing of factory owners, but on Thursday, Maduro's Socialist government seized a General Motors plant in Valencia. GM sales have been down in Venezuela because the Socialist government requires that they be paid for in near-worthless bolivar currency, rather than dollars. GM says that it will fight the seizure in Venezuelan courts, but since Maduro controls the courts, GM is unlikely to succeed.

    Venezuela's Socialist government has nationalized a number of US companies, or otherwise forced them out of business. Other companies that have cut back or ceased doing business in Venezuela include Kimberly-Clark, Exxon Mobil, Ford Motor Company, Clorox Co. and Bridgestone Americas. It has been a policy of Socialist Venezuela to destroy as much of economy as possible, in order to be able to nationalize businesses. As the old Socialist saying goes, you have to crack a few eggs to make an omelet.

    As violence increases in the streets, fears are growing that Maduro will call out the army for a full-scale assault on the protesters. However, some reports indicate that there's a growing split within the army, with many soldiers reluctant to attack ordinary Venezuelan citizens including, in some cases, their own family members. Detroit Free Press and Miami Herald and AP

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    20-Apr-17 World View -- EU officials increasingly fear a Marine Le Pen upset victory in France's elections

    The threat to the 'European project'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    EU officials increasingly fear a Marine Le Pen upset victory in France's elections


    Far-right politicians: Marine Le Pen of France, and Brexit champion Nigel Farage of Britain (AFP)
    Far-right politicians: Marine Le Pen of France, and Brexit champion Nigel Farage of Britain (AFP)

    Marine Le Pen, leader of France's far-right Front National party is still considered to be a very long shot to become the next president of France, but it's no longer considered an impossibility, mainly because of three factors: the unexpected passage of the Brexit referendum in Britain last year, the unexpected election of Donald Trump in the US last year, and a trend of rising nationalistic, xenophobic political parties in countries across Europe in recent years.

    The first round of the presidential elections will be held on Sunday, April 23. There are 11 candidates, so it's almost impossible for anyone to win by getting over 50% of the vote. The top two candidates will then take part in a runoff election on May 7, to determine the final winner. President François Hollande, a Socialist, has had abysmal popularity ratings, and so has chosen not to run for a second term, a decision unprecedented in modern times.

    The polls put the top four candidates at around 20% each. Emmanuel Macron is the youngest, a 39-year-old former investment banker, and former economy minister under Hollande. He's considered to be the favorite among the mainstream "globalist" European politicians.

    The early favorite was Republican François Fillon, but his support has crashed because of a scandal where he allegedly arranged for his wife to receive a large salary for a job that required little or no work.

    Jean-Luc Mélenchon is the far-left candidate, a kind of political mirror image of Marine Le Pen, though not entirely. Le Pen is anti-immigration, while Mélenchon is pro-immigration, but the two candidates do agree on one important issue: Neither of them likes the euro currency.

    Although Le Pen could flame out in the first round, it's widely expected that she will be one of the two leading candidates. Mainstream politicians are hoping a second round matching Le Pen with Macron. In that case, it's expected that Macron will pick up voters from the candidates that have dropped out, while Le Pen's core group of supporters would stay the same, with the result that Macron would defeat Le Pen by a wide margin.

    The scenario that most fear is that in the first round on Sunday, the two winners would be the two extremes, the far-right Le Pen and the far-left Mélenchon. This would be considered a disaster for the eurozone, as either one would like to return to the original French franc currency.

    After last year's unexpected Brexit and Trump victories, there's a great deal of anxiety among European politicians who fear that anything could happen. BBC and Market Pulse and Foreign Policy and Euro News and Daily Signal

    Marine Le Pen fights accusations of anti-Semitism

    Marine Le Pen is the current leader of the Front National party, which had a strong history of anti-Semitism under its previous leader and founder, Marine Le Pen's father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, a Holocaust denier.

    At some point, she came to the conclusion that she and the Front National party could not become successful without completely breaking with its anti-Semitic past. She did so by breaking with her father, and banning him from the party. She has not repeated any of her father's anti-Semitic remarks, and has even condemned them. But in interviews, she's always asked about Jewish issues, and her answers are always heavily scrutinized by a mainstream press that is as consumed with hostility to her as with Donald Trump.

    One of the most controversial examples occurred in a recent interview where she insisted that France was not responsible for a July 1942 atrocity known as "Vel d'Hiv," where French officials rounded up 13,000 Jews and turned them over to the Nazis to be deported to Auschwitz. She had to scramble to explain that the "real" French government at that time was in exile, while the perpetrators of the atrocity were the puppet government in Paris under Nazi control.

    In fact, Le Pen has appealed to Jewish voters by saying that she's best support of Jews because she's so strongly opposed to Muslim immigrants, essentially using one form of xenophobia to claim that she's innocent of another form of xenophobia. It's quite a remarkable argument.

    From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, there are two important things to be noted here, things that I've written about many times.

    First, nationalism and xenophobia do not come ftom the politicians. They come from the people. If Marine Le Pen had not stepped forward to represent anti-Muslim and possibly anti-Semitic voters, then someone else would have done so, because the people were demanding it.

    What a politician can do is represent nationalistic and xenophobic voters, but then do everything possible to ameliorate the worst abuses of those attitudes. As I've noted in the past, Donald Trump has backed off from his early remarks about Mexicans and Muslims, and appears to have adopted a course that takes into account the anxieties of his supporters, while preventing any abuses from taking place. Theresa May in Britain is similarly trying to chart a course that accommodates Brexit supporters, while avoiding total disaster for Britain's economy.

    The second important point is that nationalism and xenophobia are growing around the world. Whether it's Chinese vs Japanese, Chinese vs Vietnamese, Buddhists vs Rohingyas in Myanmar, Hindus vs Muslims in Kashmir, or Sunnis vs Shias in the Mideast, nationalism and xenophobia have been growing around the world, in one country after another. This is what always happens in a generational Crisis era, and it always leads to major wars or world wars. The Local (France) and Books and Ideas and Atlantic and News Max

    The threat to the 'European project'

    The phrase "European Project" refers to the efforts, begun in the 1950s, to take steps to prevent another massive war in Europe.

    It's hard today to remember the mood of the public in those days. Here's what Hannah Arendt wrote in her 1950 book, The Origins of Totalitarianism:

    "Two world wars in one generation, separated by an uninterrupted chain of local wars and revolutions, followed by no peace treaty for the vanquished and no respite for the victor, have ended in the anticipation of a third World War between the two remaining world powers [America and the Soviet Union]. This moment of anticipation is like the calm that settles after all hopes have died. We no longer hope for an eventual restoration of the old world order with all its traditions, or for the reintegration of the masses of five continents who have been thrown into a chaos produced by the violence of wars and revolutions and the growing decay of all that has still been spared. Under the most diverse conditions and disparate circumstances, we watch the development of the same phenomena -- homelessness on an unprecedented scale, rootlessness to an unprecedented depth.

    Never has our future been more unpredictable, never have we depended so much on political forces that cannot be trusted to follow the rules of common sense and self-interest -- forces that look like sheer insanity, if judged by the standards of other centuries. It is as though mankind had divided itself between those who believe in human omnipotence (who think that everything is possible if one knows how to organize masses for it) and those for whom powerlessness has become the major experience of their lives."

    The purpose of the European Project was to prove that mankind was not completely powerless after all. If Europe could set up a new world order that would prevent the "sheer insanity" of another world war, then the European Project would succeed. This lead to the Treaty of Rome in 1957, and eventually to the formation of the European Union.

    What we see today is huge centrifugal forces pulling the European Project apart.

    Whether it's the Brexit referendum in Britain, Marine Le Pen in France, the "True Finns" in Finland, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) in Germany, the Golden Dawn party in Greece, the Jobbik party in Hungary, or any of the nationalistic movements in other European countries, what's become clear is that people, particularly young people, have no fear or concerns about the lessons learned in World War II. This is what Generational Dynamics tells us always happens.

    In the last century, there were two world wars that destroyed Europe. The first World War was also devastating for Russia and the Mideast, while the second World War was also devastating for Japan and the Pacific. However, there were other massive wars in the last century, in Asia, in Africa, in the Americas. These wars of the last century are not well remembered by Americans, since Americans were not as heavily involved, but they're well remembered by the people of the countries that fought in them.

    And that's just the last century. If you look at the earlier centuries -- the 1800s, the 1700s, the 1600s, the 1500s, and so forth -- there were also massive wars in Asia, Europe, the Mideast, Africa and the Americas in those centuries as well. No century has ever escaped this.

    The point is that these huge, massive wars have not yet begun to occur in this century, and so people, especially young people, have come to believe that they never will. And yet, there's absolutely no hope of avoiding them. Anyone can see that the world has become increasingly unstable in the last 10 or 15 years, and that countries around the world have become increasingly nationalistic and xenophobic. It's like the world is a pressure cooker, ready to explode.

    France enjoyed "La Belle Époque" starting in 1871, with advances in the arts rather than wars. That was the "Old World Order" that Hannah Arendt was talking about in the quote above. And yet, World War I exploded in 1914 completely without warning, when a high school student decided to shoot an Archduke of another country.

    From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Hannah Arendt was right -- that powerlessness is the major experience of our lives. Politicians are powerless to stop the flow of generations, as young, foolish generations displace older, traumatized, experienced generations, and repeat all the mistakes of the past, once again, over and over. BBC and Washington Post and AFP

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    19-Apr-17 World View -- UN says lengthy Mosul operation leading to major humanitarian disaster

    Iraq says that ISIS and al-Qaeda are in talks to join forces

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    UN says lengthy Mosul operation leading to major humanitarian disaster


    Woman fleeing Mosul carries her child in one hand and a bag of belongings in the other (CNN)
    Woman fleeing Mosul carries her child in one hand and a bag of belongings in the other (CNN)

    It's now been six months since October 17, 2016, the beginning of the military operation to recapture Iraq's second largest city, Mosul, from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). Iraq's army is leading the offensive, with support from the United States with a mix of Special Operations Forces, intelligence and close air support.

    But frustrations are growing because progress has been slow. The portion of Mosul on the east side of the Tigris river has already been recaptured, but the dense population, the narrow streets of western Mosul, and the advance preparation of the ISIS fighters combine to slow the operation down to a crawl.

    ISIS has booby-trapped streets and buildings with IED bombs, and attacks with suicide motorbike attacks, and sniper and mortar fire. If ISIS fighters are using a particular building as a base or for storage of weapons, local residents are forced to live in the building as human shields, so that it cannot be bombed by American warplanes.

    According to the United Nations, the scale of civilians fleeing Mosul is "staggering," and relief efforts have been stretched to the "operational limits." According to a Lise Grande, the UN's Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq:

    "Our worst case scenario when the fighting started was that up to one million civilians may flee Mosul. Already, more than 493,000 people have left, leaving almost everything behind,” Lise Grande, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, said in a news release issued by the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

    “The sheer volume of civilians still fleeing Mosul city is staggering. ... We are doing everything we can but this has been a long battle and the assault on the old city hasn't started."

    The UN claims that since fighting began in October, they've provided some 1.9 million people with food, water, shelter, emergency kits, medical support and psycho-social services.

    The UN emphasizes that all parties to the conflict are obliged, under International Humanitarian Law, to do everything possible to protect civilians, ensure they have the assistance they need, and limit damage to civilian infrastructure. Haha. United Nations and Reuters and Al Jazeera

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    ISIS using both mustard gas and chlorine gas attacks in Mosul

    On Friday of last week, ISIS fired a rocket loaded with chlorine at a neighborhood in western Mosul, injuring seven soldiers, according to Iraqi military sources.

    On Sunday, 25 Iraqi soldiers in a unit with US and Australian advisers suffered breathing problems after being hit by a mustard gas attack.

    Gas masks are being distributed to Iraqi forces, in case of future gas attacks. AP and CBS News

    Iraq says that ISIS and al-Qaeda are in talks to join forces

    According to Iraq's vice president Ayad Allawi, ISIS and al-Qaeda are talking about forming an alliance, once ISIS is defeated in Mosul:

    "The discussion has started now. There are discussions and dialogue between messengers representing Baghdadi and representing Zawahiri."

    Allawi was referring to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahiri.

    Although an alliance between ISIS and al-Qaeda might seem like a jihadist's dream come true, the two organizations are like oil and water.

    The al-Qaeda linked organization in the region is Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front) which renamed itself Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS) when it cut its ties to al-Qaeda. It did so in order to join forces with Ahrar al-Sham, a "moderate" anti-Assad group that did not want to have any links to jihadist organizations, either al-Qaeda or ISIS. Nominally, JFS is no longer linked to al-Qaeda, although some analysts believe that the links still exist.

    ISIS was formed from about 50,000 jihadist fighters from 86 countries that came to Syria to fight al-Assad. These foreigners were not welcomed by the Syrian fighters, either the "moderate" fighters or the al-Nusra Front fighters, and so al-Nusra and ISIS began fighting each other.

    For years, al-Assad and ISIS have been effectively allied. That's because ISIS was interested in gaining territory, and that was at the expense of the militias of Syrian citizens. So al-Assad and ISIS both were targeting the Syrian opposition to the government.

    Now that ISIS is close to defeat in Mosul, Iraq, and is being attacked by a military operation in its stronghold Raqqa, in Syria, it's not surprising that the two thuggish organizations are talking to each other. In today's bizarro world where it seems that anything can happen, maybe they can find a way to form some kind of working relationship. But what's far more likely is that when ISIS is defeated it will split up, and its members will return to their home countries and, in some cases, perform terrorist acts there. Reuters and Newsweek and Fox News

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    18-Apr-17 World View -- Worries grow that India is 'losing Kashmir,' as violence increases

    Video of Kashmir man tied to jeep further inflames anti-India violence

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Video of Kashmir man tied to jeep further inflames anti-India violence


    Indian security forces tie Kashmiri man to jeep to discourage rock throwing by separatists
    Indian security forces tie Kashmiri man to jeep to discourage rock throwing by separatists

    Although the violence in India-governed Kashmir has settled down a bit since the large surge that accompanied the elections on April 9, there is still simmering below the surface a great deal of anger - certainly on the part of the Muslims, and almost as much on the part of the Indian security forces.

    The picture above is a frame from a video that went viral. It shows a Kashmiri man that the security forces tied to the front of a jeep as it travels down the street. The reason given for tying the man to the jeep was to discourage Kashmiris from throwing stones at the jeep. In the video, a warning can be heard saying that stone pelters will meet the same fate (being tied to a jeep).

    The entire video can be seen at this Twitter address.

    There are many videos from Kashmir being posted these days, mostly by separatists who want to portray alleged violence by security forces.

    However, security forces have also been posting videos. One from polling day on April 9 shows security officers being pelted by stone throwers, and then a young man whacks a security office over the head, causing his helmet to come off and roll down the street. The young men chant "Go India, go back."

    This entire video can be seen at this Twitter address.

    As I wrote earlier this month, 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 showing signs of repeating the violence of 1857 and 1947.

    Stone-throwing incidents started to become frequent after July 8 of last year, when Burhan Wani, the leader of the Kashmir separatist group Hizbul Mujahideen, was killed by Indian police fire. There was a big surge in violence that continued almost daily until Winter. Security forces responded harshly with pellet guns, with the result that 1,000 people lost their vision in one eye and five were blinded. Thousands of youths have been arrested.

    Now Winter is over. It's still only April. Summer doesn't even begin until June 21, and then there are three more months until the Fall. The most likely scenario is that violence is going to continue throughout the summer. At some point, the violence is going to spiral into full-scale rebellion, just as happened in 1857 and 1947. As the saying goes, history doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes. Mumbai Times and Deccan Chronicle and DNA India

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    Signs grow in media that Indians are beginning worry about Kashmir

    My impression, after writing about the Kashmir issue off and on for years, that Indians are in a state of almost total denial about what's happening in Kashmir. In fact, just a couple of months ago I spoke to an acquaintance who had been born in Kashmir and lived there as a child. I asked him what he thought about the growing violence in Kashmir. He said that it was nothing - it had happened before in the 1990s, and would die down again. Of course he didn't understand that in the 1990s there were still plenty of survivors of the 1947 war still around who made sure that it did die down.

    Based on my readings of India's media, I'm seeing something different, signs that Indians are becoming aware of how dangerous Kashmir is becoming, and that things might get a great deal worse.

    P Chidambaram, a member of the Congress party, which is the opposition to the current government of Narendra Modi, said:

    "My position on Kashmir is well known. I have been writing, speaking that we are losing Kashmir. ... The path that the government of Jammu and Kashmir and the central (Indian) government have taken is a perilous path. This path will not lead to any kind of peace or any kind of engagement with the people. ...

    The answer is not using the Army, the armed forces and the police force. The answer is not a muscular Kashmir policy. The answer is to engage with all stakeholders."

    An editorial in the Hindustan Times acknowledges Chidambaram's statement, and says: "The Narendra Modi government wants a new approach and has settled on a policy that combines harsh crackdowns on agitating youth and initiatives that undermine mainstream parties."

    According to the article, New Delhi politicians are still in a state of continued denial:

    "The Valley is seething – the deaths of teenagers and the presence of those blinded by pellet guns are a constant spur to maintain political purity and distance from India and those working for its institutions.

    Ordinarily, this would alarm Delhi as there’s a palpable loss of control and India’s image abroad at stake. But the Centre appears unperturbed and is maintaining its aggressive line. There has been no real regret about civilian casualties; instead home minister Rajnath Singh has ominously suggested that India “will see a transformed Kashmir in a year. No matter how the change occurs, one thing is certain, that there will be a change in Kashmir in a year’s time.” He also said those pelting stones “will have to face the consequences.” In February, army chief Bipin Rawat warned youth in Kashmir saying “those who obstruct our operations during encounters and are not supportive will be treated as overground workers of terrorists. They may survive today but we will get them tomorrow. Our relentless operations will continue."

    These quotes from New Delhi officials are totally delusional and will lead to disaster. However, they show how strong the sense of nationalism still prevails over common sense.

    An editorial in Indian Express says the following:

    "It is an unmistakable sign of the corrosion of Indian democracy that an odd combination of illusions and nauseating bravado is being spun in Delhi around the grim political situation in Kashmir. Every element of Indian policy in Kashmir lies in tatters. And yet, instead of asking forthright questions, our denial goes deeper. Kashmir now seems to be going from a deep and violent conflict to a state where there seems to be a death wish all around: Security forces with no means to restore order other than by inflicting death, Indian nationalism now more interested in showing machismo than solving real problems, increasingly radicalized militancy with almost a touch of apocalyptic disregard for life, foreign powers fishing in troubled waters, scores of young men and children even, who are making a statement that courting death seems a better option than what they regard as suffocating oppression. They are all feeding off each other."

    This article drew a number of angry, nationalistic comments. Here's a sample:

    What's different from the past, as far as I can tell, is that there's a debate emerging between the nationalistic view that "Kashmir is ours, and separatists should be treated harshly," versus "Nothing is working, and we should try something desperate like 'engaging with all stakeholders.'"

    From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, no solution exists to the growing violence in Kashmir, and the same kind of violence will be repeated as occurred in 1857 and 1947. At some point, possibly this summer, something violent will occur to force Indians out of their state of denial, and into a state of panic. At that point, cooler heads may or may not prevail. Kashmir Media Service and Hindustan Times and Indian Express

    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Apr-17 World View -- Worries grow that India is 'losing Kashmir,' as violence increases thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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    17-Apr-17 World View -- Sharply divided Turkey approves referendum giving Erdogan near-dictatorial powers

    Turkey's referendum results will be closely scrutinized by Europe

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Sharply divided Turkey approves referendum giving Erdogan near-dictatorial powers


    Campaign picture from last week, when Erdogan signed an emergency decree, live broadcast on television, allowing beauty salons to perform laser hair removal. (Cumhuriyet)
    Campaign picture from last week, when Erdogan signed an emergency decree, live broadcast on television, allowing beauty salons to perform laser hair removal. (Cumhuriyet)

    By a vote of 51% to 49%, Turkey's voters on Sunday approved a referendum giving the president Recep Tayyip Erdogan vast new powers. Declaring victory, Erdogan said:

    "For the first time in the history of the republic, we are changing our ruling system through civil politics. ...

    April 16 is the victory of all who said 'yes' or 'no,' of the whole 80 million, of the whole of Turkey. ...

    There are those who are belittling the result. They shouldn't try, it will be in vain. It's too late now."

    Erdogan's remarks reflect how deeply split the country is. Those who support Erdogan often consider him to be close to a god, or at least the savior of Turkey, following last year's coup attempt, much like Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who founded modern Turkey in 1924, following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

    However, Erdogan's opponents say they're deeply worried that, far from being a savior of Turkey, Erdogan is turning the country into a dictatorship. They refer to the failed coup attempt on July 15 of last year as a "gift" to Erdogan, because it permitted him to institute a devastating purge of over 100,000 of his political opponents, who were arrested or fired with virtually no evidence. Erdogan declared a state of emergency, and then used the emergency powers under the declaration to conduct a sweeping purge of the military, judiciary and civil service.

    Erdogan's supporters claim that the purges were necessary following the coup attempt, but opponents point out that Erdogan had already begun the first purges before the coup attempt.

    The most dramatic example occurred on March 5 of last year, months before the coup attempt, when Erdogan ordered a government takeover of the only major opposition media publishers in Turkey, the Zaman media group, publishers of Turkey's most popular newspaper, Today's Zaman. On that day, Turkish police forcibly entered the Zaman building, firing tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters who had gathered outside, and forcibly took over the publisher, as we reported at the time.

    After the coup attempt, Erdogan arrested and jailed hundreds of additional reporters, creating an atmosphere where any reporter that opposes Erdogan can be immediately accused of treason and jailed.

    That's one of several reasons why Erdogan's opponents are saying that the referendum election was invalid. In the months leading up the referendum, the media was flooded with advertising favoring the referendum, with pro-referendum billboards visible everywhere. But anti-referendum advertising was almost nonexistent, out of fear that opposing the referendum could lead to being jailed.

    And yet, despite those and other overwhelming advantages, Erdogan was only able to win by one of the slimmest of margins. Furthermore, opponents point to examples of voter fraud and say that they'll demand an investigation, but their demands are not likely to be heeded.

    The referendum makes historic changes to Turkey's government. Turkey's parliament will be largely sidelined. The prime minister and Cabinet will be abolished, and ministers will be directly appointed by the president and accountable to him. The president also will set the budget. The president will have the power to dissolve parliament and declare a state of emergency, and will have enhanced powers to appoint judges to the high court and constitutional court. Opponents claim that once these powers become effective in 2019, Erdogan will be able to use these powers to gain even more power, to the point of becoming a total dictator. Hurriyet (Ankara) and VOA and AP

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    Turkey's referendum results will be closely scrutinized by Europe

    Following the referendum results on Sunday, politicians in the European Union expressed dismay. One said, "Strange to see democracy restrict democracy," referring to the view that Turkey will be a far less democratic country than it used to be, replacing the democracy with an autocracy.

    Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) was responsible for observing the election, and will issue a report soon on possible election irregularities. Until then, many EU politicians are withholding comment.

    A statement issued by the European Commission warned that since Turkey is a member of the Council of Europe, Turkey's implementation of the referendum must meet the standards of the European Union:

    "We take note of the reported results of the referendum in Turkey on the amendments to the Constitution, adopted by the Turkish Grand National Assembly on 21 January 2017.

    We are awaiting the assessment of the OSCE/ODIHR International Observation Mission, also with regard to alleged irregularities.

    The constitutional amendments, and especially their practical implementation, will be assessed in light of Turkey's obligations as a European Union candidate country and as a member of the Council of Europe.

    We encourage Turkey to address the Council of Europe's concerns and recommendations, including with regards to the State of Emergency. In view of the close referendum result and the far-reaching implications of the constitutional amendments, we also call on the Turkish authorities to seek the broadest possible national consensus in their implementation."

    Officially, Turkey is still a candidate for becoming a member nation of the European Union. However, relations between Turkey and the EU have been increasingly hostile, and few people still believe that Turkey has any chance of becoming an EU member in the near or intermediate future.

    In his victory speech on Sunday, Erdogan told his cheering supporters that he would like to reinstate the death penalty. The death penalty in Turkey was ended in 2003 as part of the process to get approval for membership in the EU. Reinstituting the death penalty would end Turkey's bid for EU membership once and for all, but Erdogan presumably believes that it doesn't make any difference.

    Another issue hanging in the balance is the refugee deal signed early last year by the EU and Turkey. Under the deal, Turkey agreed with the EU to take back all migrants and refugees who cross to Greece illegally. In return, Turkey would receive financial aid, visa-free travel for all Turkish citizens in Europe's Schengen Zone, and an acceleration of negotiations for Turkey to join the EU.

    The deal has been successful in that the number of refugees crossing the Aegean Sea to enter Greece and the EU has been reduced from thousands a day to dozens a day. However, visa-free travel has never been implemented as promised, and negotiations for Turkey to join the EU have almost completely ended.

    If the Council of Europe recommends any sort of sanctions on Turkey because of the implementation of the referendum, the Turkey may follow through on its repeated threat to rescind the EU-Turkey deal, and allow the free flow of refugees across the Aegean Sea.

    However, some analysts have said that the deal is no longer even necessary, because all the routes through Central and Eastern Europe are now being blocked by fences and barbed wire, so refugees know that if they cross the Aegean, then they won't get any farther than Greece. Statement by European Commission and New Europe and Middle East Eye and National Interest

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Apr-17 World View -- Sharply divided Turkey approves referendum giving Erdogan near-dictatorial powers thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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    16-Apr-17 World View -- Deadly explosion in Syria targets buses carrying 5,000 al-Assad supporters

    Evidence of Bashar al-Assad's war crimes and atrocities continues to grow

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Deadly explosion in Syria targets buses carrying 5,000 al-Assad supporters


    A bus burning during the attack.  The passengers were still in their seats as the bus burned. (ARA News)
    A bus burning during the attack. The passengers were still in their seats as the bus burned. (ARA News)

    On Saturday, a suicide bomber approached a group of buses carrying thousands of supporters of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. He was in a car supposedly carrying food aid to be delivered to the people in the buses. The driver of the car started passing out crisps (potato chips) to children, and when a group of children had gathered around him and his car, he exploded the car bomb. The massive explosion killed over 100, and injured hundreds more.

    The buses were evacuating about 5,000 Shia supporters of Shia/Alawite al-Assad from villages near Aleppo under control of the Sunni opposition, to bring them to an area under control of al-Assad's government.

    The evacuation was a complex plan as part of a peace deal negotiated by Russia, Iran and Turkey in January. At the same time that Shias were being evacuated from Sunni-controlled areas near Aleppo, there were a similar number of buses evacuating a similar number of Sunnis from government-controlled areas near Damascus.

    This complex arrangement of simultaneous evacuations had been stalled for months due to disagreements among various factions as to who would be evacuated. Finally, the buses had all been loaded up and ready to go on Friday, but there were additional delays, and the buses were not permitted to move, making them static targets. After the passengers had been waiting in the buses for about 30 hours, the suicide bomber struck.

    Once the explosion had occurred, a decision was made to allow the remaining buses to leave immediately, so that they would no longer be static targets of possible additional attackers.

    No one has taken credit for the explosion, but it's assumed that the perpetrators are from the Sunni opposition groups, such as the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front, now Jabhat Fateh al-Sham or JFS), or the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

    There are thought to be two possible motives for the attack.

    First, it's possible that it was a revenge attack in response to last week's horrific Sarin gas attack by Syria's president Bashar al-Assad on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province, killing up to 100 people. Al-Assad's Sarin attack has infuriated Sunnis throughout the Mideast, and prompted calls for revenge.

    A second possible motive is to express opposition to the so-called peace agreement. The farcical agreement was reached by Russia, Iran and Turkey, meeting in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan, in January, but it was considered a joke by many because it did not include any parties who are nominally the opponents in Syria's civil war -- the Bashar al-Assad regime or the Sunni opposition militias. So it's possible that the Sunni opposition perpetrated Saturday's explosion in order to undermine the so-called peace agreement.

    Last year, as Bashar al-Assad's warplanes were dropping barrel bombs loaded with explosives, metal and chlorine gas on marketplaces, hospitals, schools and homes in Aleppo, al-Assad issued a delusional statement saying that the destruction of Aleppo would be a victory that would be remembered throughout history, and that it would end the war, since the jihadists would no longer have any reason to continue fighting. We're all still waiting for the war to end and the jihadists to go home. ARA News (Syria) and AP and Reuters (14-Apr)

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    Evidence of Bashar al-Assad's war crimes and atrocities continues to grow

    Last week's Sarin gas attack by the Bashar al-Assad regime was just the latest atrocity in his years of torture, enforced disappearances, siege warfare and indiscriminate bombing of civilian neighborhoods and hospitals.

    A length analysis by the New York Times calls the amount of evidence of al-Assad's war crimes "staggering," but al-Assad continues committing war crimes with impunity. According to the article:

    "Three tons of captured Syrian government documents, providing a chilling and extensive catalog of the state’s war crimes, are held by a single organization in Europe. A Syrian police photographer fled with pictures of more than 6,000 dead at the hands of the state, many of them tortured. The smartphone alone has broken war’s barriers: Records of crimes are now so graphic, so immediate, so overwhelming.

    Yet six years since the war began, this mountain of documentation — more perhaps than in any conflict before it — has brought little justice. The people behind the violence remain free, and there is no clear path to bring the bulk of the evidence before any court, anywhere.

    More than 400,000 people have been killed in the Syrian war. Half the country’s population has been displaced. Syrian human rights groups list more than 100,000 people as missing, either detained or killed. Tens of thousands languish in government custody, where torture, deprivation, filth and overcrowding are so severe that a United Nations commission said they amounted to “extermination,” a crime against humanity. ...

    Since this month’s chemical attack, residents have reported several attacks with incendiary weapons in Idlib and neighboring Hama provinces, uploading videos that show blinding fires typical of weapons like thermite and white phosphorus. They cause severe burns, similar to napalm, and their use is prohibited in civilian areas. ...

    A Syrian man who did four stints of detention and torture for taking humanitarian aid to wounded protesters and rebels recounted his experiences, but then expressed despair that anything would come of it.

    “Countries don’t need this evidence — they already know what’s happening. ... We are just pawns on a chessboard. I have women friends who were detained, raped, got pregnant, were tortured with acid. ... There is no justice. And because there is no justice, there is no hope."

    This week, the Russians and Syrians began their usual disinformation campaign, claiming that black is white or that there's no evidence that the al-Assad regime was responsible.

    The clearest example of how this works occurred after the MH17 passenger plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine by a Russian Buk missile. There was a two-year investigation by a Dutch team that included investigators from Australia, Malaysia, Ukraine, and Belgium. They collected tens of thousands of pieces of evidence, including forensic examinations, witness statements, satellite images, radar data and intercepted telephone calls. Their conclusion was that there is absolutely no doubt that the passenger plane was shot down by a Russian Buk missile shot from by Russians. But the Russians just say it's all manufactured data, as if it were even possible to manufacture that much evidence.

    Similarly, there are thousands of pieces of evidence, including forensic collections and analyses, photos, videos, eyewitness testimony, doctors' testimony, the UNSC report, analyses of the UNSC report, and so forth, proving al-Assad's repeated use of chemical weapons, including Sarin gas, chlorine gas, ammonia and phosphorus, and that he used them on hospitals, schools and markets with no military objective except to kill as many innocent women and children as possible.

    So I saw Bashar al-Assad interviewed by the AFP on television last week. The guy is a total sleazebag, but I watched as much of the interview as I could stand. He said he has no chemical weapons. Well, that's exactly what he said after his Sarin gas attack in 2013. In that case, he ended up agreeing to let the Americans take control of and destroy 1,300 tonnes of his chemical weapons that he had said he didn't have.

    So now he's saying that gave away all his chemical weapons and doesn't have any left. But Brigadier-General Zaher al-Sakat, who was head of chemical warfare in the al-Assad regime until he defected in 2013, has said that al-Assad failed to declare additional tonnes of chemical weapons, including sarin components. There was never any independent verification that al-Assad had declared all his chemical weapons, and al-Sakat's testimony proves that al-Assad was lying.

    It's almost unbelievable how much destruction al-Assad has caused. Thanks to al-Assad, Putin and Khamenei, there are about 50,000 jihadist fighters from 86 countries that have come to Syria, first to join the rebels fighting al-Assad, then to join the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front, now Jabhat Fateh al-Sham or JFS), and the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). Al-Assad has created the al-Nusra front and ISIS. He's created millions of refugees that have flooded into neighboring countries, and over a million have poured into Europe.

    It's now clear to al-Assad that nobody is going to stop him, and he can continue committing genocide as long as he wants, with impunity. Al-Assad is the worst war criminal so far in the 21st century, and nobody is even going to try to stop him. That's the way the world works. And people wonder why we have world wars.

    The worst people in the world are the leaders that order their armies to commit genocide, war crimes, atrocities, and crimes against humanity -- people like Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Robert Mugabe, Josef Stalin, and Bashar al-Assad.

    Right behind them, in second place, are people like the people who support al-Assad -- the deniers, the collaborators, the acolytes and the trolls -- the people who defend the war criminals and make the actions of Hitler, Mao, Stalin and al-Assad possible. These are the people that make genocide and war crimes possible, and they are as much to blame as the war criminals themselves. NY Times and Telegraph (London) and Salon

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Apr-17 World View -- Deadly explosion in Syria targets buses carrying 5,000 al-Assad supporters thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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    15-Apr-17 World View -- US sends dozens of troops to Somalia, first time since Black Hawk Down

    Somalia's civil war and the Black Hawk Down incident

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    US sends dozens of troops to Somalia, first time since Black Hawk Down


    Al-Shabaab fighters
    Al-Shabaab fighters

    The US is sending dozens of troops to Somalia in order to provide training to Somali forces fighting the al-Qaeda linked Islamist group al-Shabaab.

    This is the largest deployment of American troops to the Horn of Africa since American troops were withdrawn in 1994, following the disastrous Black Hawk down incident. In October 1993, a US operation in Mogadishu ended in disaster when two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down, leading to a 15-hour battle that killed hundreds of Somalis and 18 Americans.

    About 40 soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division, based in Fort Campbell, Ky, have been sent to Somalia. They will not take part in combat, but will focus on training the Somali army to bolster its logistics capabilities. The Somali government had requested the training, as its war against al-Qaeda based al-Shabaab has been far from decisive. At the same time, the US military is increasing the number of airstrikes against al-Shabaab.

    The African Union troops include armies from Kenya and Uganda, but these troops are scheduled to pull out in 2018. The purpose of the US troops is to train the Somalis to fight al-Shabaab on their own, which may or may not be successful. Stars and Stripes and AP and Foreign Policy

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    Somalia's civil war and the Black Hawk Down incident

    Somalia's civil war ran from 1988 to 1994, but the stage was set decades earlier by the rise of Mohamed Siad Barre, who seized power in 1969 and set up a brutal Marxist totalitarian dictatorship. Siad tried to unify the local clans, but in the end the clans destroyed him and his totalitarian state.

    In 1977, next-door-neighbor Ethiopia was in chaos, at the start of a full-scale generational crisis war with Eritrea. Siad tried to take advantage of the chaos by attacking Ogaden, a large region of Ethiopia on Somalia's border, populated mostly by Somalis. Siad had hoped to get the backing of his pals in the Soviet Union, but they betrayed him and sided with Ethiopia.

    The result of Siad's abortive invasion was that hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees from Ogaden poured across the border into Somalia, destabilizing the country. These refugees joined with existing claims to attack Siad's regime, with the intention of overthrowing it, leading to full-scale civil war by 1988.

    By 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed, and the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea climaxed. However, Somalia's civil war continued with the destruction of Somalia's crops, causing widespread famine and almost total anarchy in Somalia. Siad was ousted and forced to flee the country, leading to an even bloodier succession battle.

    International aid agencies flew food into Somalia to ease the famine, but the food was stolen by warring clan militias. In 1992, the United Nations actively intervened, and sent a peacekeeping force of 35,000 troops in "Operation Restore Hope."

    The situation continued to deteriorate, and in October 1993, elite American troops launched a disastrous raid in the Somali capital Mogadishu. Two American Black Hawk helicopters were shot down using rocket-propelled grenades. Some of the survivors were rescued, but two pilots were attacked by a mob of thousands of Somalis who hacked them to death with machetes and dragged their mutilated bodies through the streets as trophies. The result was a 15-hour battle that killed hundreds of Somalis, as well as about 18 Americans and two UN soldiers.

    The Black Hawk down incident, also known as the Battle of Mogadishu, had lasting effects on both sides. On the Somali side, the mob attack and ensuing battle appears to be one of the climactic events of Somali crisis civil war.

    On the American side, Black Hawk down shocked the public, and was well remembered in books and a major movie. It caused the US to withdraw its forces from Somalia in 1994, and to be reluctant to intervene in African crises since then. So, for example, the US stayed out of the massive Rwanda massacre in 1994, which is probably just as well.

    Today, as US troops return to Somalia, the country is in a generational Awakening era, which means that a new generation of kids has grown up hearing stories of the glorious adventures of their fathers in shooting down the two Black Hawks and hacking the pilots' bodies to death, and anxious to have the opportunity to do it again. So there is absolutely no chance at all that the current government of Somalia, with the help of US and African Union forces, will be able to subdue al-Shabaab. History World and BBC and Independent (London - 3-Jan-1995)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Apr-17 World View -- US sends dozens of troops to Somalia, first time since Black Hawk Down thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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    14-Apr-17 World View -- North Korea's neighbors tense as the 'Day of the Sun' approaches on Saturday

    China's tripwires for invading North Korea

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    North Korea's neighbors tense as the 'Day of the Sun' approaches on Saturday


    People in Seoul, South Korea, watch a TV news program showing a file image of the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier on Wednesday.  The caption reads 'The USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier changes route.' (AP)
    People in Seoul, South Korea, watch a TV news program showing a file image of the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier on Wednesday. The caption reads 'The USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier changes route.' (AP)

    In North Korea, Saturday April 15 is called "The Day of the Sun." It's the 105th anniversary of the birth of North Korea's founder, Kim Il-Sung, whose name means "Sun of the Nation."

    Kim Il-Sung was the grandfather of the current child dictator, Kim Jong-un. Kim likes to do provocative things on a regular basis, and particular likes to do something spectacular on April 15.

    North Korea's fifth nuclear test was conducted on Sept. 9, 2016. According to a new report from the North Korea monitoring group 38North, North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear test site is "primed and ready," based on satellite imagery captured two days ago. This suggests that North Korea's sixth nuclear test may occur on Saturday, or in the near future. Other possible dates in the near future are April 25, the 85th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People's Army, or May 9, the date of South Korea's presidential election.

    But a lot of analysts will be very surprised if North Korea doesn't perform a new nuclear test, possibly along with some new ballistic missile tests, some time in the next month.

    If Kim Jong-un does do something provocative and spectacular, many people are wondering how the United States will respond, particularly since President Donald Trump ordered the missile strike in Syria, after Syria's government killed hundreds of people with a Sarin gas attack two weeks ago, and after Trump ordered the Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group to the Korean Peninsula.

    On Thursday, Trump wrote a tweet that he believes China will be able to rein in the North. "I have great confidence that China will properly deal with North Korea. If they are unable to do so, the U.S., with its allies, will! U.S.A." 38 North and Pravda (Moscow) and Washington Post

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    Japan's Shinzo Abe: N. Korea may be able to attack Japan with Sarin gas missile

    Japan, which is the only country in the world to have been hit by a nuclear weapon, is particularly concerned about being attacked by a North Korean nuclear weapon. Tensions have been particularly raised by North Korea's repeated tests of ballistic missiles launched in the direction of Japan. None of the tests has struck Japanese soil, but some have reached the Sea of Japan.

    Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party has been advocating a proposal to develop the capability to directly attack North Korean military bases. Japan is still bound by a post World War II pacifist constitution that permits military action only for defensive purposes, and so Abe emphasized that Japan has no plan to acquire such powerful weapons and would never launch a pre-emptive strike against any country.

    However, Abe pointed out that North Korea could attack Japan with Sarin gas:

    "There is a possibility that North Korea has the ability to hit (Japan) with a ballistic missile carrying sarin in its warhead."

    Abe pointed to the Syria's sarin gas attack last week, where "nearly 100 innocent people, including children and babies, were victimized."

    Just as Japan was the target of a nuclear weapon, Japan has also been the object of a sarin gas attack. Members of a Japanese doomsday cult killed 12 people and made thousands ill in 1995 in simultaneous attacks with sarin nerve gas on five Tokyo rush-hour subway trains.

    Concerns have been growing about North Korea’s chemical weapons capabilities since Kim Jong-un's estranged half brother, Kim Jong-nam, was killed with VX nerve agent in Malaysia in February.

    According to Yoshihide Suga, Abe’s top aide, "North Korea is thought to maintain multiple facilities that are capable of producing chemical weapons and already hold a sizable amount of chemical weapons."

    The South Korean Defense Ministry has estimated that Pyongyang, which reportedly started producing chemical weapons in the 1980s, now owns 2,500 to 5,000 tons of chemical weapons, including the lethal nerve agents sarin and VX. Japan Times and Reuters

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    China's tripwires for invading North Korea

    In 1961, China and North Korea signed a mutual defense treaty that specifies that if one of the parties comes under armed attack, the other should render immediate assistance, including military support.

    It's this umbrella of protection that has allowed North Korea to make increasingly provocative acts, knowing that China is required by treaty to protect it. In 2010, North Korea launched a missile attack on the South Korean warship Cheonan, killing 46 people, and then North Korea shelled South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island, killing four South Koreans. These were both clearly acts of war, but China staunchly defended North Korea, and South Korea was unable to retaliate.

    However, it's been clear that China has been running out of patience with North Korea's renegade leader Kim Jong-un, who has been conducting nuclear weapons and ballistic missile tests that are violations of international law and are strongly opposed by China. So analysts are wondering under what circumstances China would invade North Korea, either to defend it against South Korea and the US, or to take control of North Korea for its own purposes.

    An analysis by the Hong Kong based South China Morning Post suggests that China is no longer obliged to defend North Korea from military attack under the 1961 treaty, since North Korea has repeatedly violated the treaty.

    The treaty requires both nations to safeguard peace and security, and for China, North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons in violation of the United Nations treaty on non-proliferation could amount to a breach of their pact, leaving Beijing with no obligation to lend a hand.

    According to Li Jie, a retired Chinese naval colonel:

    "It’s hard to say how China would assist North Korea militarily in case of war, since North Korea is developing nuclear weapons, an act that might have already breached the treaty between the two nations."

    A different analysis in Chinese state sponsored Global Times acknowledges that North Korea's development of nuclear weapons is intolerable to the United States, and notes that Trump has warned that if China doesn't take care of North Korea's nuclear weapons, then the US will.

    According to the analysis, China would be willing to impose even harsher sanctions on North Korea, including the devastating sanction of ending oil imports, if China continues its illegal testing:

    "If Pyongyang conducts its sixth nuclear test in the near future, the possibility of US military action against it will be higher than ever. Not only is Washington brimming with confidence and arrogance following the missile attacks on Syria, but Trump is also willing to be regarded as a man who honors his promises.

    Now the Trump team seems to have decided to solve the North Korean nuclear crisis. As the discussion runs deeper, a situation of no-solution will not be accepted.

    A new nuclear test or an intercontinental ballistic missile test, if conducted by Pyongyang at this time, will be a slap in the face of the US government and will intensify the confrontation between North Korea and the US.

    Presumably Beijing will react strongly to Pyongyang's new nuclear actions. China will not remain indifferent to Pyongyang's aggravating violation of the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution.

    More and more Chinese support the view that the government should enhance sanctions over Pyongyang's nuclear activities. If the North makes another provocative move this month, the Chinese society will be willing to see the UNSC adopt severe restrictive measures that have never been seen before, such as restricting oil imports to the North. Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program is intended for securing the regime, however, it is reaching a tipping point. Pyongyang hopes its gamble will work, but all signs point to the opposite direction.

    The US is making up its mind to stop the North from conducting further nuclear tests. It doesn't plan to co-exist with a nuclear-armed Pyongyang."

    A third analysis was performed by KGS Nightwatch by examining some Chinese government and military newsletters that have addressed North Korea's nuclear weapons developments in recent days. This analysis addresses a different question: Under what circumstances would China intervene militarily in North Korea. There are four tripwires listed in the analysis:

    South Korea's media reported earlier this week that the Chinese army has deployed about 150,000 troops in two groups to northeastern China near the Yalu River, "to prepare for unforeseen circumstances," in view of the arrival of the Carl Vinson strike force.

    However, China has denied deploying these troops.

    There's a surreal quality of fantasy about these reports of Chinese military actions. China is planning this or that military action with no fear of losses or of international retribution, as if the Chinese were invincible. And whenever I read about China's military plans about anything, I get the feeling of invincibility, as if they're saying, "All we want is peace and stability, so just do as we command you to do and there will always be peace and stability; and if you don't, then we'll just kill you, and we'll get peace and stability that way."

    So let's make it clear. Any of the military actions discussed in this article, even a "small" military action, will spiral into something bigger in this generational Crisis era, and will spiral further into a world war within weeks or at most a few months. Nobody is invicible here, and China would be worse off than many, because it would be fighting both a civil war and an external war. I've estimated that a world war will kill 3-4 billion people from nuclear weapons, ground war, disease and starvation, leaving 3-4 billion traumatized survivors behind to hold peace conferences and rebuild the world. South China Monring Post (Hong Kong) and Global Times (Beijing) and KGS Nightwatch and Chosun (South Korea) (Trans) and Global Times (Beijing)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Apr-17 World View -- North Korea's neighbors tense as the 'Day of the Sun' approaches on Saturday thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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    13-Apr-17 World View -- Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defies Supreme Leader and runs for president

    Ahmadinejad waits for the appearance of the Mahdi

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defies Supreme Leader and runs for president


    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gives a 'V for Victory' sign after registering on Wednesday to run for president
    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gives a 'V for Victory' sign after registering on Wednesday to run for president

    Iran's colorful former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who had already served two consecutive terms, from 2005-2013, on Wednesday astonished people both inside and outside of Iran by filling out and submitting registration forms for the May 19 presidential election.

    Ahmadinejad reversed an earlier decision not to run. In September of last year, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said he would not find it advisable for Ahmadinejad to seek a comeback to politics "both for his own and the country’s good." At the time, Ahmadinejad said that he would not run, but now he's changed his mind.

    After filling out the registration forms on Wednesday, he made a "V for Victory" sign and said, "The Leader advised me not to participate in the elections, and I accepted. His advice, however, shouldn’t be taken to mean that I’m banned."

    There are three major categories of Iranian politicians, with Ahmadinejad among the most hardline extreme, the "principlists," who insist on adhering to the extreme "principles" of the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution. They are mostly in the old geezer generation of survivors of the Revolution. They impose strict social laws, such as requiring headscarves, forbidding unrelated male-female couples in public, no street music in public, and so forth.

    Iran's current president, Hassan Rouhani, is in the middle category called the "moderates" or "pragmatists," who are often as hardline as the principlists, but who are in favor of gradual reforms. (The "reformists" are in the younger generations, and favor immediate reforms.)

    So it would seem that the major campaign battle will be the principlist Ahmadinejad and the moderate Rouhani. But the Supreme Leader, who is the principlist-in-chief, does not like Ahmadinejad, and has put forth his own principlist candidate, Ebrahim Raisi. And since Khamenei controls the Guardian Council, which has the final say on who's allowed to run, it's expected that Khamenei will see to it that Ahmadinejad is disqualified.

    But wait! This is actually even more bizarre than it seems so far.

    Ahmadinejad has made a statement that he is not really planning to run for president, and has implied that the only reason that he's registering to run is to support his former vice president Hamid Baghaei.

    In fact, Ahmadinejad put on a spectacular show on Wednesday. Ahmadinejad walked Baghaei through the registration process, ostensibly with no other purpose. But as soon as Baghaei registered, Ahmadinejad started to leave, but then suddenly turned around, and pulled out his own registration documents in front of a melee of shouting journalists and stunned officials.

    So how does this help Ahmadinejad's deputy Baghaei run for office? Because Khamenei would find an excuse to disqualify Baghaei, in order to get his own candidate Raisi to win. But with Ahmadinejad running, Khamenei would have to disqualify both Ahmadinejad and Baghaei, and that would apparently be too politically difficult.

    And to top it off, another of Ahmadinejad's close allies, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei, also registered to vote. So Khamenei would have to disqualify Ahmadinejad and two of Ahmadinejad's allies.

    When Ahmadinejad was first elected in 2005, he and Khamenei got along well. But even principlists have policy differences, and by the time of Ahmadinejad's reelection in 2009, Khamenei refused to give Ahmadinejad the perfunctory kiss on the cheek. During Ahmadinejad's second term, Khamenei repeatedly humiliated Ahmadinejad, and Ahmadinejad adopted policies with the partial objective of infuriating Khamenei. There's little doubt that what Ahmadinejad did on Wednesday will be particularly infuriating to Khamenei. Tehran Times and AP

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    Ahmadinejad waits for the appearance of the Mahdi

    As mentioned above, a top aide and close of friend of Ahmadinejad, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei, also registered to run for president.

    In 2009 Khamenei accused Mashaei and other Ahmadinejad aides of being sorcerers, of using "supernatural powers," and of being "magicians" and invoking djinns (spirits).

    The charges of sorcery are related to the devout belief, held by Ahmadinejad and Mashaei, in the Mahdaviat -- the Shia Muslim belief that the Mahdi (or "the 12'th Imam" or "the Hidden Imam") is coming to save mankind. This belief is roughly equivalent to the Christian belief in the second coming of Christ, or the Buddhist belief in the Maitreya -- that a new Buddha is to appear on earth, and will achieve complete enlightenment. Ahmadinejad disobeyed Supreme Leader Khamenei in several matters, which is considered to be equivalent to disobeying God. But Ahmadinejad was just paving the way for the return of the Hidden Imam, and was using his claim that the Hidden Imam's return is imminent as a justification for disobeying Khamenei. Thus, the charges of sorcery.

    It's possible that the belief in the Mahdi is related to some of Ahmadinejad's conspiracy theories.

    Probably the most famous of his conspiracy theories is that the Holocaust never occurred, but was put forth by a conspiracy of Zionists.

    On other occasions, he said that Osama bin Laden and George W. Bush were friends, and that the West had engineered HIV aids.

    That was far-fetched enough, but even more far-fetched was his claim in 2012 that Western technology was preventing the rain from falling in Iran:

    "Today our country is moving towards drought, which is partly unintentional due to industry and partly intentional, as a result of the enemy destroying the clouds moving towards our country and this is a war that Iran is going to overcome.

    I feel that the world arrogance and colonization, by using their technologies, are affecting the environmental situation in Iran."

    In 2007, Ahmadinejad gave a speech at Columbia University in New York, and made this claim: "In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country. In Iran we do not have this phenomenon. I do not know who has told you we have it." He drew hysterical laughter.

    As I've been writing for many years, Iran is basically a schizophrenic nation. Its principlist top leadership, starting with the supreme leader, are survivors of the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution, an extremely bloody civil war. Like generational crisis war survivors in any country, these leaders imposed austere rules and institutions designed to prevent another bloody civil war, and this has led them to adopt a harsh anti-Western attitude. But the generations born after the crisis war have no such motivation, and Iran's younger generations are, in fact, reformists and generally pro-Western and have no particular desire to see Israel pushed into the sea.

    In the late 1990s, college students in these younger generations started holding pro-Western and pro-American protests, during Iran's generational Awakening era. Khamenei and the Iran hardliners brutally suppressed those protests, but doing so didn't change minds. Today, those students are in their 30s, and have risen to positions of power, ready to take over when the current hardline leadership dies off. They are generally pro-Western and pro-American, and consider Saudi Arabia to be an existential threat. This is one of several reasons why I've been saying for years that, in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, Iran will be an ally of the United States, along with Russia and India, versus China, Pakistan, and the Sunni Muslim countries. Newsweek and Al Monitor (15-Mar)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Apr-17 World View -- Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defies Supreme Leader and runs for president thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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    12-Apr-17 World View -- Migrant camp in northern France housing 1,600 people burnt to the ground

    The Le Touquet treaty, which moves Britain's border into France, will be reconsidered

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Migrant camp in northern France housing 1,600 people burnt to the ground


    Grande-Synthe refugee camp in Dunkirk, France, burnt to the ground Monday night (Telegraph)
    Grande-Synthe refugee camp in Dunkirk, France, burnt to the ground Monday night (Telegraph)

    Huge fires burned to the ground a Dunkirk migrant camp in northern France, populated by 1,600 refugees who were there in the camp in the hope of reaching Britain, usually by sneaking onto trucks and ferries crossing the English Channel.

    The camp had been built by Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), including hundreds of wooden huts. The camp opened in March 2016 as the first camp in France to meet international humanitarian standards, where migrant families could live in relatively dignified conditions in heated wooden cabins. However, conditions deteriorated within a few months as hundreds more migrants arrived at the camp. Tensions were high in the camp because the number of people living there far exceeded the capacity of the camp, which was more like 700.

    The population of the camp was originally Iraqi and Kurdish migrants. But when migrant camp known as "The Jungle" in nearby Calais was closed down in October of last year, a large number of the 7,000 migrants that had been housed there moved to the Dunkirk camp, which has been called "the new jungle." Many of these new arrivals were afghans who did not get along with the Iraqis and Kurds, resulting in tensions that sometimes led to violence.

    The first fire broke out early Monday evening, following fighting between groups of migrants of different nationalities. Some 600 migrants took part in the fighting. The fights continued late into the night, and several hours later, additional fires burned down almost all of the wooden huts, leaving nothing behind but ashes. According to French officials, multiple fires must have been set on purpose.

    The migrants had been evacuated and rehoused in gymnasiums that had been empty and were converted into temporary emergency shelter in the Dunkirk suburb of Grande-Synthe. However, those can only accommodate 900 people. Some migrants say that they'll return to Calais and set up makeshift camps.

    Officials are unable to say how long the migrants will stay in the gymnasiums, or what will happen to them next. With the warm weather of summer, a new flood of migrants is expected. RFI and Independent (London) and New Statesman

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    The Le Touquet treaty, which moves Britain's border into France, will be reconsidered

    The Le Touquet Treaty of 2003 was designed to allow France and Britain each to perform its border checks in the other country, as if there were land borders between the two countries, rather than just a sea border.

    Without this treaty, a person traveling by ferry from France to Britain would be allowed to travel, and would only get an immigration check once he arrived in Britain. But under the treaty, Britain can perform immigration checks while the traveler is still in France, and block the person from traveling to Britain.

    Many people blame the existence of the refugee camps in Calais and Dunkirk on the Le Touquet Treaty. According to their reasoning, if migrants could simply get on a ferry to Britain, then the refugee camps would be in Dover rather than in Calais or Dunkirk.

    When Britain passed the "Brexit referendum" on June 23 of last year, calling for Britain to leave the European Union, some French officials immediately began calling for an end to the Le Touquet treaty.

    In the months that followed, French and British reaffirmed their commitment to the treaty. However, that may not continue. In the upcoming French presidential election, all three leading candidates in the French presidential election are promising to withdraw from this treaty. Telegraph (London) and Guardian (London - 30-Aug-2016) and Economist and PDF: Text of 2003 Le Touquet Treaty

    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Apr-17 World View -- Migrant camp in northern France housing 1,600 people burnt to the ground thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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    11-Apr-17 World View -- India forced to delay Kashmir elections after large surge in violence

    Why is a US carrier group strike force going to the Korean peninsula?

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    India forced to delay Kashmir elections after large surge in violence


    A burned out bus following an attack by separatists on Sunday (PTI)
    A burned out bus following an attack by separatists on Sunday (PTI)

    India has been forced to delay a second round of elections in Kashmir, scheduled for Wednesday, after the first round of elections in Sunday sparked a large surge on Sunday by separatists.

    The large surge in violence left eight people dead and injured more than 100. Two middle schools, designated as polling stations, were burnt down on Sunday night.

    Separatists had called for a boycott of the election, and in the city Srinagar were using barbed wire and burnt tires to block the roads, to prevent voters from reaching the polling stations. Hundreds of youth threw stones and petrol bombs at security forces, who wore helmets and carried batons to subdue the protesters. However, the security forces were forced to withdraw, after the boycott was almost total. Government sources counted nearly 200 separate incidents of violence.

    Although there have been periods of violence in Indian-controlled Kashmir in the past, the new round of violence is significantly different according to several measures:

    The low voter turnout is particularly significant. In previous elections, even when there was some violence, voter turnout was 25-40%, and that was considered to be a sign that, despite the separatist protests, most people supported the government. The low voter turnout is a major change that is being blamed on the Election Commission (EC), which finally was forced to reschedule the second round of elections from Wednesday to May 25, handing a victory to the separatists.

    As I wrote in my detailed analysis earlier in the month, 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.

    The survivors of a generational crisis war are so traumatized that they spend their lives doing everything possible to keep it from happening again. However, younger generations growing up after the war have no such concerns, and when the generations of survivors retire and die, then a new generational crisis war emerges among the younger generations.

    The surging violence in Kashmir is extremely dangerous, and could spread and spiral into something much larger during the hot summer. BBC and New Delhi TV and First Post and India Times

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    Hindu activists push for ban on cow slaughter across India

    It's an old saying that Hindus and Muslims can't live together because Muslims can't stand pigs and Hindus can't eat cows. These differences, which seem so odd to the Western mind, raise such powerful emotions in both Muslims and Hindus that they played an important role in both of the previous generational crisis wars, the 1857 Rebellion and the 1947 Partition War.

    Now there's a new demand by Hindu nationalists to ban cow slaughter across the country. Cow vigilantism has frequently triggered violence between Hindus and Muslims in India, especially when Muslims kill cows for meat, and preventing Muslims from eating beef appears to a major part of the motivation for the proposed ban on cow slaughter.

    However, opponents of the ban say that a ban on cow slaughter would be bad for the cow, and that the end result is that cows would no longer exist except in zoos. For that reason, opponents are demanding that if the proposed ban is passed, then the government must budget money to give to dairy farmers to protect the cow, and must provide an adoption scheme for cattle that are past productive age or male. First Post and Indian Express

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    Why is a US carrier group strike force going to the Korean peninsula?

    In yesterday's article, I described that the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike force left Singapore and headed for the Korean peninsula, possibly for some confrontation with North Korea, and I wondered what the objective was. In particular, I wondered how long the strike force was going to remain there.

    A couple of readers have provided me with possible explanations. One reader said that the Carl Vinson would have to remain only until the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system could be fully deployed in South Korea:

    "But they're waiting for the next test launch of a potentially nuclear tipped missile by the North Korean's insane dictator. Then they'll shoot it out of the sky. A little target practice, shall we say. As they might say in Texas -- "pull!"

    See, the THAAD is just starting to be installed in South Korea, and obviously that takes some time, so it's not ready yet. ...

    [The carrier strike force is] equipped with the Aegis variant of functionality quite similar to THAAD - just sea based. I know a bit about this, since I used to work for the Navy supplier FMC (now BAE Systems), who makes the Rail Gun and the 5-inch/54 caliber (Mk 45) lightweight gun.

    And it's a legitimate move to shoot down any such North Korean missile, even if it's just a test. How do we know whether or not it's just a test? Are we supposed to give it 10 minutes and see whether it's trajectory is aimed at LA? Better shoot it down, just in case. ... The carrier group serves as an interim THAAD until the full THAAD is installed and working. That will allow the Seoulians to sleep better at night (you said yourself that they're getting a bit nervous)."

    Another reader pointed out that the birthday of the grandfather of the current leader is fast approaching, and the leader might be planning a major provocation on that date:

    "15 April is Kim Il-Sung's birthday, and is a holiday in NK called "Day of the Sun" ("Il-Sung" in Korean means "become the Sun.") The North Koreans have a history of staging provocations (missile and nuclear tests) so it's likely the Vinson battle group will be on hand just in case Kim Jong-Un gets stroppy."

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Apr-17 World View -- India forced to delay Kashmir elections after large surge in violence thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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    10-Apr-17 World View -- US aircraft carrier strike force heads for Korean peninsula

    Egypt in 3-month state of emergency after Coptic church bombings

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Egypt in 3-month state of emergency after Coptic church bombings


    Church bombing in Tanta, Egypt, on Sunday
    Church bombing in Tanta, Egypt, on Sunday

    Coordinated bombing attacks on two different Coptic Orthodox Christian churches in two different cities in Egypt killed at least 45 people and injured over 100. Both churches were crowded with worshippers at the Palm Sunday service.

    Palm Sunday falls each year one week before Easter, which this year occurs on April 16 for both Western and Orthodox Christians. Palm Sunday is one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar, marking the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem.

    The Sinai terror group called Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM - Ansar Jerusalem - Champions of Jerusalem) took credit for the both bombings. The group changed its name to Al Wilayat Sinai (Province of Sinai) when it changed its allegiance in 2015 from al-Qaeda to the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

    ABM has taken credit for the December 11, 2016, bombing of the St Peter and St Paul chapel adjoining Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo, killing 29, and promised to attack more Christian targets. Coptic Christians make up about 10% of Egypt's population.

    Egypt’s President Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi declared a state of emergency in Egypt for three months. The measure allows authorities to make arrests without warrants and search people's homes. Human rights organizations have expressed concern that the state of emergency will permit al-Sisi to take on additional dictatorial powers, and will abuse those powers. The dictator Hosni Mubarak imposed a similar state of emergency for 20 years, before being ousted in 2011 by the "Arab Spring." Al Ahram (Cairo) and BBC and Al Jazeera

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    US aircraft carrier strike force heads for Korean peninsula


    Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike force in March (AFP)
    Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike force in March (AFP)

    The US Pacific Command announced on Saturday that the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike force has left Singapore and is headed for the Korean peninsula. It was diverted from previous plans for carrier exercises and port visits in Australia.

    This action takes on special significance because it appears to be similar to the action taken last week in the Mediterranean Sea just before the US Navy launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles to attack targets in Syria, following the Syrian regime's use of Sarin gas, a forbidden WMD (weapon of mass destruction).

    North Korea has been testing ballistic missile systems and nuclear weapons, a WMD forbidden to North Korea by UN Security Council resolutions. Experts warn that North Korea is getting closer to deploying a nuclear-tipped rocket capable of reaching the United States mainland, as well as Japan, South Korea, Australia and China. Thus there is speculation, completely unconfirmed, that President Donald Trump might order a missile strike on North Korea's ballistic missile and nuclear weapons development facilities, in order to at least delay further development. According to one military analyst:

    "It's a well-timed move. We obviously don't have the ability to strike their nuclear facilities, they are buried deep underground, but we can go after the missiles themselves while they are fueling. It's a signal to the North Koreans that we will, for the time being, have the ability to attack those facilities."

    The Carl Vinson Strike Group has massive striking power and has the capability to intercept ballistic missiles. The group includes the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) and USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112), and Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57).

    President Trump has been pressuring China to try to force North Korea to give up its nuclear and ballistic missile development program, and has recently said that "If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will."

    When Trump met last week with China's president Xi Jinping, North Korea was a major topic of discussion between the two leaders, but reports indicate that that no agreement was reached on how to end the threat from North Korea.

    Instead, there was nothing but posturing and impossible demands. Trump demands that China prevent North Korea's further missile and nuclear development. China has agreed to implement the sanctions demanded by the UN Security Council, and most recently says that it has stopped importing coal from North Korea. However, there are some reports that North Korea is looking for other markets in which to sell its coal, and Russia may be one of them. At any rate, there really is nothing realistic that China can do, short of military action, to stop North Korea's missile and nuclear development.

    China demands that the US agree to a "dual suspension" on the Korean peninsula, cancelling its joint military drills with South Korea in return for a moratorium on North Korean testing, and then promising to negotiate a peace treaty with North Korea. The US has repeatedly been duped by North Korea when entering such agreements, and there is no chance that Trump will allow the US to be duped again. So China's demands are also completely unrealistic.

    So this brings us to the obvious question: Why is the Carl Vinson strike group heading for the Korean peninsula, and what has it been ordered to do when it gets there? Is it just going to sit there and wait for something to happen, and leave in a few weeks having accomplished nothing, allowing North Korea to continue developing nuclear-tipped rockets capable of hitting the US mainland? Or is some military action planned, with the intention of fulfilling Trump's promise, "If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will"?

    One way or another, we'll probably have an answer within a few days. Navy Times and News Corp (Australia) and BBC and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)

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    South Korean anxiety over North Korea and anger at China grow over THAAD deployment

    The US has begun deployment in South Korea of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) an advanced anti-missile system that can blast incoming missiles out of the sky.

    The stated purpose of the deployment would be to protect South Korea from a North Korean ballistic missile attack. However, China has expressed increasing fury because the system has advanced radar capabilities that would provide early warning for a Chinese missile attack on the United States.

    China's fury has taken the form of economic sanctions. China has banned tour groups from visiting China, has removed popular South Korean TV dramas from the internet, and has forced the closure of 75 South Korean Lotte stores in China, resulting in $179 million in losses.

    A web site reader living in Seoul has written to me to describe the devastating impact of the actions by China and North Korea:

    "China's economic boycott of Korea over THAAD has hit the country like a ton bricks. I went to the flagship Lotte department store today, and it was practically empty. I have friends who own their own businesses, and they tell me they are facing bankruptcy because of the loss of Chinese customers. The thing is, Koreans, by and large, hate the Chinese. This embargo is only heightening the hatred. I think this embargo has finally woken people up to the fact that China is an existential threat to Korea. ...

    Tonight, for the first time in my life, Koreans told me they were afraid that war was imminent. I have lived in Asia (on and off) since the 1970s, and I have never heard a Korean say anything like that. Tonight, someone in my office told me that she was scheduled to to visit America in May, but that she was afraid a war would break out before she had a chance to leave. Leaving the office tonight, a co-worker told me she was scared. I was stunned. This can't bode well.

    If this is the end, oh well. I just hope I die instantly. I'm worried I won't be killed in the first artillery barrage. As densely packed as Seoul is, the death toll, the carnage, will be beyond belief. ...

    I can't believe how much the mood here has flipped. The word 'changed' would be inappropriate. Things are different now. I feel sick."

    I guess we can all hope that if we have to die that we die instantly.

    This is an appropriate time to repeat what I've written many times in the past. A lot of people believe some variation of "X and Y won't go to war, because it's bad for business." Actually, the opposite is true, as we're seeing in the case of Lotte. If two countries have a business relationship, then the business relationship won't prevent war, but instead will turn into one more weapon of war. CBS News

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Apr-17 World View -- US aircraft carrier strike force heads for Korean peninsula thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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    9-Apr-17 World View -- Russia's policies thrown into confusion as US resumes its 'world policeman' role

    Shock and euphoria follow the missile strike on Syria

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Russia's policies thrown into confusion as US resumes its 'world policeman' role


    German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, 'This attack by the United States of America is understandable, given the aspect of the war crimes, given the suffering of innocent people and given the logjam in the UN Security Council.'
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, 'This attack by the United States of America is understandable, given the aspect of the war crimes, given the suffering of innocent people and given the logjam in the UN Security Council.'

    The events of the past week were not only a major humiliation to Russia, but will also have to trigger a major strategic change in Russia's foreign policy.

    The unexpected US cruise missile strike in response to the horrific Sarin gas attack by Syria's president Bashar al-Assad on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province, killing up to 100 people, left Russia scrambling to take face-saving measures. So Russia canceled its "deconfliction agreement" with US designed to prevent accidental clashes between the two air forces in Syria, though this agreement will almost certainly be restored within weeks. War criminal al-Assad did his part by ordering new air strikes on the same town, Khan Sheikhoun, but this with conventional weapons. However, to bring the point home, al-Assad committed a new war crime when his missiles struck a hospital where people are recovering from al-Assad's Sarin gas attack. Russia, Syria and Iran may take further retaliatory moves.

    However, the big picture is that this week's events will require a strategic change in Russia's policies.

    As I reported in April, 2011, Russia at that time adopted a policy of using the United Nations Security Council to cripple Nato and US foreign policy, a strategy that has been very successful for them for six years.

    Early in 2011, Russia had abstained on the UNSC resolution authorizing a "humanitarian" military action in Libya. As the Libyan intervention unfolded, Russia viewed the increasingly complex situation as "mission creep," and regretted not vetoing the resolution.

    After that, Russia demanded that Nato and the US strictly limit their activities, and Russia would back up this demand by vetoing any attempt to go further than Russia desired. This would allow Russia to effectively control many activities of Nato and the US, since only activities approved by the Security Council, and hence by Russia, could ever be permitted.

    This set up a "double standard," because Russia would do what it wanted, without seeking approval from the UNSC. Russia invaded Georgia and took control of two provinces, without asking the UNSC. Russia invaded East Ukraine and took control of two provinces, without asking the UNSC. Russia invaded Crimea and annexed it, without asking the UNSC. At the same time, any military action by the West would have to be approved by the UNSC.

    Now President Trump has done the same thing, ordering a military strike without asking the UNSC. This act nullifies the policies adopted by Russia in 2011, and requires a change in direction, though the nature of that change remains to be seen. AP and CNBC and CNN

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    President Trump reinstates the 'Truman Doctrine'

    Russia now has to throw out that "double standard" strategy, because the new US administration is willing to do what Russia has been doing all along-- take military action when considered necessary, without asking permission from the UN Security Council (nor, by the way, from the US Congress).

    President Donald Trump seems willing to reinstate the "Truman Doctrine" that had been repudiated by President Obama. President Harry Truman announced the Truman Doctrine in 1947, essentially making America the "policeman of the world." Truman's justification is that it's better to have a small military action to stop an ongoing crime than to let it slide and end up having an enormous conflict like World War II. The Truman Doctrine was reaffirmed in President John Kennedy's "ask not" speech, and every president since WW II has followed the Truman Doctrine, up to and including George Bush. Barack Obama is the first president to repudiate the Truman Doctrine, essentially leaving the world without a policeman.

    The concept of America being the "world's policeman" was very controversial in 1947 and it's very controversial today. And yet, we've seen what's happened in the last eight years, when the world had no policeman.

    There are news reports of a power struggle in the White House, and that power struggle can be interpreted as a disagreement over reinstating the Truman Doctrine. Reportedly, Steve Bannon opposes military actions like the one this week in Syria, while Jared Kushner favors it. The outcome of this power struggle, which goes to the heart of the Truman Doctrine concepts, could have a defining effect on American foreign policy, as well as on Russia's foreign policy. Guardian (London)

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    Shock and euphoria follow the missile strike on Syria

    America's missile strike in Syria has received widespread praise as a valid response to Bashar al-Assad's war crimes, but not with President Trump's base.

    I saw this myself in the stream of comments to the Breitbart version of my April 6 article "President Trump plans military action on Syria after horrific nerve gas attack on civilians."

    Most of the comments appeared from people among Trump's strongest supporters, but they were shocked by this article, because they believed that Trump would never order a military intervention in the Mideast, something that many of them oppose. A lot of anger was directed at me, accusing me of "fake news," and accusing me of being a "Libtard" and trying to mislead people.

    But all that changed on Thursday evening around 10 PM ET, when reports of the military action started coming out, proving that the article was completely accurate. At that point, the anger that many of the commenters had directed at me began to be directed at President Trump.

    Some of the comments were completely delusional, such as describing the Sarin gas attack as a "false flag" operation, sometimes going so far as to accuse Trump of ordering the Sarin attack himself in order to have an excuse to bomb Syria. Probably the angriest comments were some variation of the delusional "false flag" claim.

    At the other end of the spectrum were comments that were very thoughtful. Many people posted variations of "I voted for Trump, but I didn't vote for this." There were some detailed analyses of why we should never go into the Mideast, saying that we've tried in the past and never accomplished anything, and one person saying that we should let them kill each other so that they won't try to kill us.

    However, in the mainstream media, in the US, Europe and the Mideast, comments by world leaders have been extremely supportive, almost verging on euphoria that the US is showing leadership once more.

    From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, both the controversy and the euphoria are to be expected at a military attack that could begin an all-out war. Any military attack is going to be controversial, but the population can also easily become heavily invested and become euphoric.

    Here's how historian Wolfgang Schivelbusch describes how the euphoria at the beginning of a war is itself highly delusional in his 2001 book, The Culture of Defeat: On National Trauma, Mourning, and Recovery:

    "The passions excited in the national psyche by the onset of war show how deeply invested the masses now were in its potential outcome. Propaganda had reinforced their conviction that "everything was at stake," and the threat of death and defeat functioned like a tightly coiled spring, further heightening the tension. The almost festive jubilation that accompanied the declarations of war in Charleston in 1861 [American Civil War], Paris in 1870 [Franco-Prussian war], and the capitals of the major European powers in 1914 [World War I] were anticipatory celebrations of victory -- since nations are as incapable of imagining their own defeat as individuals are of conceiving their own death. The new desire to humiliate the enemy, noted by Burckhardt, was merely a reaction to the unprecedented posturing in which nations now engaged when declaring war.

    The deployment of armies on the battlefield is the classic manifestation of collective self-confidence. If both sides are not convinced of their military superiority, there will be no confrontation; rather, those who lack confidence will simply flee the field. Accordingly, the battle is decided the moment the confidence of one side fails. The will to fight ("morale") evaporates, the military formation collapses, and the army seeks salvation in flight or, if it is lucky, in organized retreat. The Greek term for this point in space (on the battlefield) and time (the course of the battle) was trope. The victors demarcated the spot with the weapons of the vanquished and later with monuments, yielding the term tropaion, from which we get our word trophy." (p. 6-7)

    The euphoria goes on until something goes wrong, usually some kind of military disaster, such as the Battle of Bull Run in 1861 or the Bataan Death March in 1941.

    The panicked reaction can be much greater when a military disaster occurs. In his 1832 book, On War, General Carl von Clausewitz describes what happens:

    "The effect of defeat outside the army -- on the people and on 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. It's a blow to the whole nervous system of the losing side, as if caused by an electric charge. This effect may appear to a greater or lesser degree, but it's never completely missing. Then, instead of rushing to repair the misfortune with a spirit of determination, everyone fears that his efforts will be futile; or he does nothing, leaving everything to Fate."

    From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the events that cause this "sudden collapse" and "total destruction" of self-confidence are called "regeneracy events," because they regenerate civic unity for the first time since the end of the preceding crisis war.

    You don't need any particular methodology to understand that the whole world has become increasingly unstable in the last ten years. Because the political atmosphere is already extremely vitriolic and is likely to worsen further, it's worth repeating what I've written many times: Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, Jews versus Arabs, and various ethnic groups against each other. This is coming with 100% certainty, irrespective of who is president. Furthermore, the president can neither cause nor prevent this outcome. Maybe Trump's missile attack will speed up this war, or maybe it will delay it. It could go either way. If Hillary Clinton had won, she might have made the same missile attack for the same reasons that Trump did. It's impossible to tell. The only thing that we can be sure of is that we have no way of knowing what the scenario will be, only that a regional war will be the result, in this generational Crisis era. CNN and philly.com

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Apr-17 World View -- Russia's policies thrown into confusion as US resumes its 'world policeman' role thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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    8-Apr-17 World View -- Japan to repopulate 148 remote islands, as confrontation with China looms

    Taiwan and Japan try to settle their disputes peacefully

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Japan to repopulate 148 remote islands, as confrontation with China looms


    The Senkaku Islands are thought to be in the midst of vast gas and oil resources (Reuters)
    The Senkaku Islands are thought to be in the midst of vast gas and oil resources (Reuters)

    Japan's government has announced plans to repopulate a cluster of 148 small, rocky islands in the hope of deterring China from unilaterally declaring that they're China's sovereign territory, as it has done illegally in the South China Sea.

    Among these are the Senkaku Islands, which have been the focus military near-confrontations in the past few years. The population of the remote islands has declined by 51.3% since 1955, and restoring even small population on 71 of the outlying islands could deter China. There are around 6,800 islands in the archipelago, and

    The announcement calls for the construction of civic facilities, the purchasing of land, the improvement of ports and stopping foreign vessels from illegally visiting the islands.

    The greatest focus has been on the Senkaku Islands, – a chain of five uninhabited islets and three barren rocks in the East China Sea – were uninhabited until 1895 when Japan laid claim to them. In the ensuing decades, the Japanese populated the chain and even set up a fish-processing plant on one of the islands. The United States took control of the islands during the occupation of Japan following World War II, and handed them back in 1972. At that time, China claimed the islands, citing ancient texts and maps, and claiming that Japan's actions in 1895 were illegal.

    In early February, three Chinese warships sailed into the water near the Senkaku Islands, risking a military confrontation and stoking tensions between the two countries.

    Even riskier is the increased intrusion into Japanese airspace of Chinese military aircraft, usually other fighter jets, sometimes a bomber or reconnaissance plane. The number of such intrusions is now averaging two per day since April of last year, nearly twice as many as in the prior 12 months. Japan responds to each such intrusion by scrambling up to four F-15 fighter jets to intercept the Chinese military aircraft.

    Analysts are concerned that the situation in the East China Sea is becoming more and more volatile, more so than even in the South China Sea, where China has illegally built artificial islands nad military bases, and that a war in the East China Sea could break out at any time.

    The populations of Japan and China have become highly nationalistic over their respective claims to these islands, in this generational Crisis era. The frequency of these intrusions by both warships and warplanes and the resulting intercepts raise the possibility of an accident or miscalculation that could spiral into something bigger. Japan Times and CNBC and Fox News and American Interest

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    Taiwan and Japan try to settle their disputes peacefully

    Last week, a report from a nationalist Japanese media source accused Taiwan to sending a record high number of scientific research vessels to "intrude" into Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) near the Senkaku Islands, which are claimed by Taiwan as well as by China and Japan. The report suggested that Taiwan's "unauthorized activities" included fishing in addition to illegal maritime research.

    If this kind of dispute had arisen between China and Japan, there might have been a military confrontation by now. But Taiwan and Japan, who presumably want to cooperate because of their common enemy (China), have a history of settling these kinds of disputes peacefully in recent years.

    In April 2013, Taiwan and Japan signed a fisheries agreement to address a decades-long dispute over fishing in contested waters in the East China Sea. On October 31 of last year, the two sides agreed to meet at least once a year and to establish two working groups — one on fishery cooperation and another regarding cooperation in scientific research. China Post (Taiwan) and Japan Times and The Diplomat

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Apr-17 World View -- Japan to repopulate 148 remote islands, as confrontation with China looms thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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    7-Apr-17 World View -- Philippines president Duterte orders military to occupy South China Sea islands

    President Trump orders missile strikes on Bashar al-Assad's Syria

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    President Trump orders missile strikes on Bashar al-Assad's Syria


    A diver checks out the coral cover during an expedition at Benham Rise last May 2016.  (Oceana Philippines)
    A diver checks out the coral cover during an expedition at Benham Rise last May 2016. (Oceana Philippines)

    As I'm writing this on Thursday evening, American ships in the eastern Mediterranean Sea have launched dozens of cruise missiles at the Shayrat Airbase in Syria. This airbase was chosen because it's believed that Monday's nerve gas attack was launched from this airbase. The attack appears to the following the outline that I described in yesterday's article, though it apparently caught some analysts by surprise that the military action occurred so quickly after the nerve gas attack. It's not expected that this will be followed by a long series of further military actions. Washington Post

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    Philippines president Duterte orders military to occupy South China Sea islands

    Philippines president Rodrigo R. Duterte on Thursday ordered the army to deploy troops to "nine or 10" unoccupied islands and reefs in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea that are owned or claimed by the Philippines. According to his televised announcement

    "The unoccupied, which our ours, let’s live on it. It looks like everybody is making a grab for the islands there, so we better live on those that are still vacant.

    At least, let us get what is ours now and make a strong point there that it is ours.

    “We try to be friends with everybody, but we have to maintain our jurisdiction, at least [in] the areas that we control I have ordered the armed forces to occupy all these islands and put up the Philippine flag to occupy all these. ...

    This coming Independence Day [June 12], I may go to Pagasa to raise the flag. We want to make a strong point that that is ours."

    Duterte also said "bunkers or houses and provisions for habitation" were to be built. Analysts are pointing out that this cannot be accomplished, because the islands and reefs are too small. For that reason, some analysts are speculating Duterte would like to initiate reclamation activities to create artificial islands, as the Chinese have been doing, although that kind of reclamation is probably too expensive for the Philippines budget.

    China has not yet commented on Duterte's order, but is certain to express the usual furious outrage. China has claimed the entire South China Sea as its sovereign territory, and has built artificial islands and military bases. However, these claims and activities that were declared illegal in a harsh ruling by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague, in a case brought by the Philippines. Daily Inquirer (Manila) and Reuters and Washington Post

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    Philippines sends warship to Benham Rise to protect from China

    Benham Rise is not in the South China Sea, but is east of the Philippines, and part of the country's continental shelf. According to Philippines' defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana:

    "The navy will henceforth regularly patrol Benham Rise partly due to past Chinese activities there but more importantly, because it is part of our continental shelf and awarded to us by the United Nations."

    In 2012, the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf confirmed that Benham Rise is part of the Philippines' continental shelf. Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the continental shelf comprises the seabed and subsoil of the submarine areas 200 nautical miles (NM), or 370 kilometers, from a state's baselines.

    According to Philippines media, China has been surreptitiously exploring Benham Rise for several months, breaking international and Philippine laws in scouring the seabed and waters without permission. China claimed that vessels were there for "innocent passage," but Chinese activities have turned out to have two objectives: First, to determine possible submarine hiding areas for future submarine warfare, and second, to determine through sound reflection and refraction possible oil and gas.

    China's activities in Benham Rise have incited a public furor, and may be the reason for Duterte's orders to the army to occupy South China Sea islands. Philippine Star and The Rappler (Philippines)

    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Apr-17 World View -- Philippines president Duterte orders military to occupy South China Sea islands thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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    6-Apr-17 World View -- President Trump plans military action on Syria after horrific nerve gas attack on civilians

    John McCain and Lindsey Graham advocate cruise missiles and safe areas

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    President Trump plans military action on Syria after horrific nerve gas attack on civilians


    In a very dramatic gesture, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley at the Security Council stands and displays picture of baby killed by nerve gas and excoriates Russia's ambassador for supporting al-Assad, saying, 'How many more children have to die before Russia cares?'
    In a very dramatic gesture, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley at the Security Council stands and displays picture of baby killed by nerve gas and excoriates Russia's ambassador for supporting al-Assad, saying, 'How many more children have to die before Russia cares?'

    President Donald Trump on Wednesday made it clear that he's planning some sort of action against Syria. Although he did not specify what kind of action, saying that he didn't want to telegraph his plans, he did imply that military action is planned.

    The change of mind was triggered by a horrific chemical nerve gas attack on Syrian civilians on Monday, indiscriminately killing dozens of people. The pictures of children being killed apparently particularly affected Trump. The nerve gas was delivered in bombs warplanes, which could only have been warplanes from the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. After the nerve gas attack, another missile attack struck the hospital where nerve gas attacks had been taken, effectively putting the hospital out of service. There was clearly an intent to kill as many people as possible, including women and children.

    Syrian state media denied that that Syria was responsible:

    "The government of the Syrian Arab republic categorically denies the allegations and false accusations about the use of poisonous, chemical weapons by the Syrian Arab army in Khan Sheikhoun region against Syrian civilians who are besieged by the armed terrorist groups as human shields there, Syria also affirms that the Syrian army doesn’t possess any kind of chemical weapons and it has not used them and it won’t use them in the future."

    The above statement contains known lies. Syria has provably used Sarin gas and chlorine gas in bombs in the past. No part of the above statement is credible, in view of the evidence. ARA News (Syria) and SANA (Damascus)

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    President Trump declares that he's changed his mind about military action

    At a news conference on Tuesday, Trump commented on Monday's nerve gas attack in Syria, explaining why he changed his mind:

    "Yesterday, a chemical attack -- a chemical attack that was so horrific, in Syria, against innocent people, including women, small children, and even beautiful little babies. Their deaths was an affront to humanity. These heinous actions by the Assad regime cannot be tolerate. ...

    Well, I think the Obama administration had a great opportunity to solve this crisis a long time ago when he said the red line in the sand. And when he didn’t cross that line after making the threat, I think that set us back a long ways, not only in Syria, but in many other parts of the world, because it was a blank threat. I think it was something that was not one of our better days as a country. ...

    I now have responsibility, and I will have that responsibility and carry it very proudly, I will tell you that. It is now my responsibility. It was a great opportunity missed. ...

    It crossed a lot of lines for me. When you kill innocent children, innocent babies -- babies, little babies -- with a chemical gas that is so lethal -- people were shocked to hear what gas it was -- that crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line. Many, many lines."

    In 2013, Bashar al-Assad launched a Sarin gas attack against civilians, after President Barack Obama has said that doing so would "cross a red line." At that time, Trump tweeted the following:

    "AGAIN, TO OUR VERY FOOLISH LEADER, DO NOT ATTACK SYRIA - IF YOU DO MANY VERY BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN & FROM THAT FIGHT THE U.S. GETS NOTHING!"

    However, Trump has now reversed those sentiments, and is blaming Obama for not intervening in 2013. However, he's not calling it "a flip-flop," instead ascribing it to flexibility:

    "I like to think of myself as a very flexible person. I don’t have to have one specific way, and if the world changes, I go the same way, I don’t change. Well, I do change and I am flexible, and I’m proud of that flexibility. And I will tell you, that attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me -- big impact. That was a horrible, horrible thing. And I’ve been watching it and seeing it, and it doesn’t get any worse than that.

    And I have that flexibility, and it’s very, very possible -- and I will tell you, it’s already happened that my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much. And if you look back over the last few weeks, there were other attacks using gas. You’re now talking about a whole different level."

    He says that he will not reveal his plans, but implies that the plans are military (as opposed to, say, sanctions):

    "Well, one of the things I think you’ve noticed about me is, militarily, I don’t like to say where I’m going and what I doing. And I watched past administrations say, we will attack at such and such a day at such and such an hour. ...

    I watched Mosul, where the past administration was saying, we will be attacking in four months. And I said, why are they doing that? Then a month goes by, and they say, we will be attacking in three months, and then two months, and then we will be attacking next week. And I’m saying, why are they doing that? And as you know, Mosul turned out to be a much harder fight than anyone thought, and a lot of people have been lost in that fight. I’m not saying I’m doing anything one way or the other, but I’m certainly not going to be telling you, as much as I respect you, John."

    White House

    Marco Rubio says Trump's policy emboldened Bashar al-Assad

    In the past, I've criticized President Obama for flip-flopping on his "red line" statement. My point was not that military action should have been pursued. My point was that Obama should never have made a threat that he wasn't going to act upon, since flip-flopping only emboldened Bashar al-Assad to commit worse atrocities.

    Now Senator Marco Rubio is making a similar criticism of President Trump. He's referring to recent statements by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that the Trump administration no longer plans to demand that Bashar al-Assad step down.

    According to Rubio:

    "In this case now, we have very limited options and look, it's concerning that the Secretary of State, 72 hours ago or a week ago, last Friday, said that the future's up to the people in Syria on what happens with Assad. In essence almost nodding to the idea that Assad was gonna get to stay in some capacity.

    I don't think it's a coincidence that a few days later we see this."

    Rubio's claim is quite plausible.

    One might ask what al-Assad's motivation was for ordering Monday's horrific nerve gas attack. It was so outrageous, and so likely to backfire politically, that it really makes no sense.

    Every time I write that Bashar al-Assad is psychopathic monster and war criminal committing genocide against Sunni Muslims in Syria, I get criticized by al-Assad acolytes and paid Russian trolls. But I don't think that there's any doubt about this. Bashar al-Assad is the worst war criminal so far this century, with a psychopathic desire to exterminate all Sunni civilians. Nothing else can explain this insane action.

    Al-Assad has never agreed to the peace that was agreed a few months ago in Astana, Kazakhstan, between Iran, Russia and Turkey. In fact, he's never shown any interest in participating in any peace process. I've pointed out many times, that al-Assad clearly has no intention of doing anything but torturing, slaughtering, and exterminating as many Sunni civilians as possible.

    Al-Assad has apparently been controlling his urges for political reasons for the last few months. Trump's previous reluctance for military action in Syria, reaffirmed by Tillerson's claims that the US would no longer demand that al-Assad step down have given a free ticket to al-Assad to do anything he wanted, and like an alcoholic who suddenly is told he can start drinking again, al-Assad suddently felt freed to do whatever he wanted. I believe that that's what Rubio meant, and I agree with it. International Business Times

    John McCain and Lindsey Graham advocate cruise missiles and safe areas

    Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham were interviewed on Fox News on Wednesday evening. Although they were interviewed separately, they made exactly the same points:

    Here are the remarks of John McCain (my transcription):

    "Those are horrible, and I spoke to the president this morning. He's angry as he well should be , and he's consulting with his military leadership, as well as his Secretary of State, and I have some optimism that he will take some concrete action here.

    He is obviously, as we all are, appalled.

    Could I make two points. One, this is a legacy of Barack Obama. The last time this happened, Barack Obama said they crossed a red line, called me and Lindsey Graham down to the White House, and did NOTHING. You know, one thing worse than doing nothing is saying you're going to do something as the most powerful leader on earth, and doing nothing.

    So this is a legacy of Barack Obama, and it's been going on for the intervening four years. So what we need to do, we need to stop Bashar Assad's planes from flying. And we can do that easily. Just say don't fly, or you're gonna get shot down, and if you start operating out of the six bases that they have, we're going to crater your runways with cruise missiles and other weapons. 41:54

    But you can't fly because we're not gonna let you drop nerve gas. We're not gonna let you drop chlorine. We're not gonna let you drop barrel bombs.

    You know what barrel bombs are? They're large cylindical things filled with shrapnel. And they explode about 20 feet above the ground, and they indiscriminately kill people.

    He's got to be stopped from flying, and we can stop him easily, using our cruise missiles and other capabilities. and we'll tell the Russians, it's your guy, you can join us in stopping him from flying and committing these war crimes.

    Then I would have safe zones, and there's a lot of other things, but the first thing we gotta do is stop his ability to slaughter people."

    Here are the remarks of Lindsey Graham (my transcription):

    QUESTION: "What should President Trump do to Syria?"

    GRAHAM: Destroy his air power and create a safe zone in Syria where this never happens again."

    QUESTION: "We'd have to bomb their airfields, right? There are Russian planes there."

    GRAHAM: "They should move them.

    Then I would make sure that the people in Idlib would never be bombed again by Assad. There would be safe havens where people could go back to Syria from Europe and the United States. Talk won't do it. This is a time for Pres Trump to show the world he's not President Obama.

    This is a horrible event out of which could come an opportunity to reset the Mideast, to establish his presidency as something different than Obama, to send a dictator to everyone in the world there's a new sheriff in town. And if he would actually hold Assad accountable and protect the innocent people of Syria, it would help us in Iran and North Korea and everywhere else."

    As I've been writing for years, Generational Dynamics predicts that Iran and the West will be allies in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, and that China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted 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.

    These predictions will come true with absolute certainty, and it would have made no difference whether Trump or Hillary Clinton had been elected president. The events of the last two days are a major step forward along that trend line.

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Apr-17 World View -- President Trump plans military action on Syria after horrific nerve gas attack on civilians thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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    5-Apr-17 World View -- With Venezuela's Socialism spiraling into chaos, NY Times blames the mess on 'populism'

    Organization of American States (OAS) approves scathing condemnation of Venezuela



    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Venezuela's Socialist government in political crisis as street violence grows


    Venezuelan opposition lawmaker Juan Requesens after being bloodied by a Maduro supporter (AP)
    Venezuelan opposition lawmaker Juan Requesens after being bloodied by a Maduro supporter (AP)

    A march mon Monday by members of Venezuela's National Assembly who were opposed to president Nicolás Maduro's Socialist government was met by men with sticks and rocks by Socialist supporters.

    On Tuesday, Venezuelan police attacked protesters with tear gas, water cannons and pepper spray. The clashes began after the authorities closed subway stations, set up checkpoints and cordoned off a square where opponents had planned their latest protest against the Socialist government and a crippling economic crisis.

    The protests were triggered by a decision last week by the Maduro-controlled Supreme Court to effectively dissolve the National Assembly and take over its legislative powers, effectively making Maduro a dictator.

    Maduro is in control of the presidency, the army, the media, and the courts. The National Assembly was the only body that expressed any opposition to Maduro. Maduro has repeatedly used the courts to reverse any legislative decisions that he didn't like, but this time he was going to eliminate the legislative branch completely.

    Maduro has been jailing bakers because there's a bread shortage, and has been jailing factory workers because there's shortage of milk, rice, flour, ketchup, diapers, and toilet paper. It seemed that Maduro could get away with anything. So it was to everyone's surprise that Maduro's latest move generated worldwide outrage, even from some normally compliant mainstream media sources. Even Maduro's attorney general Luisa Ortega Diaz was opposed to the latest move.

    The international opposition caused Venezuela's Supreme Court to reverse the decision on Saturday, but the crisis has continued because it triggered violence in the streets. There were thousands of people on both sides, pro- and anti-Maduro, in a situation where anger is increasing between the "haves" supporting Maduro and the "have-nots" opposed to Maduro. Reuters and Washington Post and Venezuelanalysis

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    Organization of American States (OAS) approves scathing condemnation of Venezuela

    The Organization of American States (OAS) approved on Monday overwhelmingly approved a resolution demanding that Venezuela restore full constitutional authority to the National Assembly.

    However, that decision came at the end of two days of extraordinary brinksmanship.

    On April 1, Bolivia assumed the rotating Pro Tempore presidency of the OAS. A meeting had been previously scheduled to discuss the Venezuela situation, but Bolivia is one of the two closest allies to Venezuela's Socialist government, the other one being Ecuador. So the first action taken by the Bolivian representative was to cancel the meeting.

    This infuriated other OAS members, led by Costa Rica and Mexico, so they conducted what is being called an "institutional coup," and went ahead with the cancelled meeting. Bolivia protested the move and subsequently walked out of the meeting, joined by Venezuela, Nicaragua and Ecuador.

    There were 21 remaining countries at the meeting, and 17 nations approved the resolution, with four abstentions: Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Belize and El Salvador.

    According to the text of the resolution:

    "EXPRESSING our grave concern regarding the unconstitutional alteration of the democratic order in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and our continuous support for dialogue and negotiation to lead to a peaceful restoration of democratic order,

    [The OAS] DECLARES that: The decisions of the Supreme Court of Venezuela to suspend the powers of the National Assembly and to arrogate them to itself are inconsistent with democratic practice and constitute an alteration of the constitutional order of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Notwithstanding the recent revision of some elements of these decisions, it is essential that the Government of Venezuela ensures the full restoration of democratic order."

    Pary Rodriguez, Bolivia's OAS representative, said that the resolution is "totally illegal and arbitrary and don’t correspond to the norms of international law." Latin American Herald Tribune and Panama Post and TeleSur

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    NY Times blames Venezuela's chaos on 'populism' not Socialism

    In a lengthy article that doesn't anywhere contain any form of the world "Socialism," the New York Times blamed Venezuela's massive economic crisis on populism, apparently to take a swipe at Donald Trump.

    According to the article:

    "When Hugo Chávez took power in Venezuela nearly 20 years ago, the leftist populism he championed was supposed to save democracy. Instead, it has led to democracy’s implosion in the country, marked this past week by an attack on the independence of its Legislature.

    Venezuela’s fate stands as a warning: Populism is a path that, at its outset, can look and feel democratic. But, followed to its logical conclusion, it can lead to democratic backsliding or even outright authoritarianism."

    This is really laughable. I remember, years ago, when I really admired the NY Times, but since the 1980s it's move progressively leftist, and today no longer reports news.

    Socialism has led to disaster every time it's been tried. There have been oceans of blood spilled in the name of Socialism in countries like the Soviet Union, Cuba, North Korea and China. In fact, Socialism has been such a disaster that every country has been forced to abandon it, including the Soviet Union, Cuba, China, East Germany, and so forth. North Korea hasn't abandoned it, and that whole country is a disaster. Venezuela is headed the same way.

    How stupid to you have to be to "believe" in Socialism when it's failed spectacularly every time it's been tried, and has never been successful - not even once?

    Actually, as I've written several times in the past, it's pretty easy to prove mathematically that Socialism always collapses.

    In 1991, I visited a huge computer show in Hanover, Germany. It was a special occasion because the Berlin Wall had just fallen, and East Germans were visiting the show for the first time. "They're in a state of shock," I was told. "They're still using punched card equipment from the 1950s." Why had Communist East Germany gotten stuck in the 1950s?

    The same with Cuba, which is still using automobiles from the 1950s.

    In medieval times, a feudal estate with a couple of hundred tenants could be run on a Socialist basis, if the feudal lord desired. All he'd need is one or two "regulators" to make sure that all prices were fixed and all transactions follow the law.

    But as the population grows exponentially, the number of transactions grows exponentially faster, and so the number of "regulators" needed becomes a larger and larger percentage of the population. By the time you have a country with millions of people, every person would have to be a "regulator" to make it work, and obviously that's impossible. So that's why countries like East Germany, North Korea, Russia and Cuba all got stuck in the 1950s until they gave up Socialism. NY Times and News Busters

    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Apr-17 World View -- With Venezuela's Socialism spiraling into chaos, NY Times blames the mess on 'populism' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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    4-Apr-17 World View -- St. Petersburg, Russia, train explosion may be blowback from Syria military intervention

    Explosion in St. Petersburg subway kills 11, injures dozens

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Explosion in St. Petersburg subway kills 11, injures dozens


    Vladimir Putin lays flowers in memory of those killed in Monday's terror attack (Tass)
    Vladimir Putin lays flowers in memory of those killed in Monday's terror attack (Tass)

    St. Petersburg, Russia, has declared three days of mourning, starting from Tuesday, after a bomb exploded on Monday afternoon on a train full of passengers traveling between two stations, killing 11 and injuring dozens. Later, a much larger unexploded bomb was found in a metro station.

    Russia's president Vladimir Putin was in the city when the blast occurred, meeting with Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko, though it's not known whether the attack was timed for Monday because the two leaders were present. Putin laid flowers at a makeshift shrine in memory of those who had been killed.

    Two million people use the St. Petersburg metro every day. The entire metro system has been put into lockdown, and the people are said to be in fear of further violence. Tass (Russia) and Sky News and BBC

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    Suspicion falls on blowback from Russia's military intervention into Syria

    No one has yet taken credit for the St. Petersburg terror attacks, but many believe that the most likely perpetrators are either the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) or else Chechen terrorists from the Caucasian Emirate formed after Russia's war in Chechnya in the 1990s. In either case, the attack was most likely blowback from Russia's military intervention in Syria.

    Russia is a Christian country, and its Christian soldiers have already fought against Sunni Muslim fighters in Afghanistan in the 1980s and in Chechnya in the 1990s. In the 2010s, Christian Russia is allied with Shia Muslim Iran, an arch-enemy of Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia. Russia is fighting on the side of Syria's Shia/Alawite president Bashar al-Assad, who is a war criminal dropping barrel bombs and chemical weapons on innocent Sunni Muslim women and children in schools, markets, and even Palestinian refugee camps.

    This isn't rocket science. Many analysts have said that there would be blowback. I've been saying so for years, and I've repeatedly criticized the stupidity of Vladimir Putin for going down that path, because blowback has always been certain. You'd have to be crazy to think otherwise. In fact, ISIS has been putting out videos threatening revenge against Russia for invading Syria.

    There have been other Sunni jihadist attacks on Russia. In October 2015, ISIS was responsible for bringing down a Russian airliner departing Egypt for St. Petersburg. In 2013, Islamists blew up a train station and a bus near Volgograd. Moscow's airport was attacked in 2011, and its subway system in 2004. Last year, Russia's ambassador to Turkey was killed in Ankara in revenge for Russia's intervention in Syria.

    But now, things could be getting worse. ISIS is under attack and is being driven out of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria. Russian security officials have pointed out that there are over 7,000 Islamist fighters from Russia and other former Soviet countries fighting in Syria, and with ISIS possibly close to defeat, some of those fighters will be free to return to their home countries.

    It's not certain that Islamist terrorists were responsible for Monday's attacks. Other hypotheses include Ukrainian terrorists, and even anti-government criminals in Russia. But even if one of those hypotheses turns out to be true, the global fury of Sunni Muslims against Christian Russia is real, and will be felt.

    As I've been writing for years, 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. Monday's terror attack in St. Petersburg moves the world further along that trend line. Telegraph (London) and Arab News and Sky News

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Apr-17 World View -- St. Petersburg, Russia, train explosion may be blowback from Syria military intervention thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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    3-Apr-17 World View -- Dalai Lama to visit region of northeast India claimed by China

    Dalai Lama's escape from Tibet to India in 1959 Lhasa uprising still humiliates China

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Dalai Lama to visit region of northeast India claimed by China


    Map showing disputed border regions, Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, between India and China (South China Morning Post)
    Map showing disputed border regions, Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, between India and China (South China Morning Post)

    China, the country that illegally annexes regions in the South China Sea and builds illegal military bases there, is now making its usual furious threats because the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan Buddhists, merely wants to visit the town of Tawang in the Himalaya mountains in northeastern India. The visit begins on Tuesday, and continues for 12 days.

    Tawang is a district in India's state of Arunachal Pradesh, 2,000 sq km in size, with fewer than 50,000 people. However, it contains the 17th century hilltop Tawang Monastery, which houses a massive gilded Buddha statue. Because of this monastery, China claims that Tawang is part of Tibet, and claims further that Tibet is part of China and so Tawang is part of China.

    China's foreign ministry said that the Dalai Lama's visit "to the contested area will inflict severe damage on the China-India relationship," although the relationship is already so severely damaged that it's hard to see how a mere visit is going to damage it more. In response, India announced that India's Minister of Home Affairs would appear in Tawang with the Dalai Lama, thus giving the visit much greater international prominence.

    There are conflicting stories about what the Dalai has said in the past about whether Tawang is part of Tibet or part of India. According to India's former ambassador Ranjit S Kalha, when the Dalai Lama fled from Tibet in 1959 and passed through Tawang, at that time he thanked India for making his journey "through this extremely well administered part of India as comfortable as possible." However, Chinese officials claim that the Dalai Lama said for years that Tawang was historically Tibetan, and only in 2008 said that it was part of India.

    According to recent statement by a Chinese official:

    "The Dalai Lama’s assertion that Tawang is part of India is against the core interest of the Chinese people. He advocates Tibetan autonomy but is really seeking independence. By allowing him a platform, the India government is going back on its promise of not allowing the Tibetan government in exile to engage in activities undermining China’s sovereignty."

    There is also a 1914 deal between India and Tibet defining the border between Tibet and India, and making all of Arunachal Pradesh part of India. However, China has never recognized this deal.

    There have been agreements in 1993 and 2005 between India and China that appeared to settle the border disputes by putting Arunachal Pradesh into India, and putting another region, Aksai Chin, on the border with Kashmir, into Chinese territory, as shown on the map above.

    However, those agreements were made when both countries were in generational Unraveling eras (like America in the 1990s), when nationalism and xenophobia are generally at a low point. Today, both countries are well into a generational Crisis era, with increasing nationalism and xenophobia, and both countries are becoming more assertive and confrontational, and no longer able to compromise. Deutsche Welle and Indian ambassador Ranjit S Kalha and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)

    Dalai Lama's escape from Tibet to India in 1959 Lhasa uprising still humiliates China

    After China's army invaded Tibet in 1950 and "liberated" it, there were frequent clashes between China's army and Tibetans. These clashes culminated in Tibet's extremely bloody generational crisis war, the 1959 uprising in Lhasa, Tibet's capital city.

    In March 1959, China's army invited the Dalai Lama to visit army headquarters for a theatrical performance and tea. Many Tibetans believed that the army planned to kidnap the Dalai Lama and possibly kill him. On March 10, 300,000 Tibetans confronted China's forces, which some reports number up to a million. The Dalai Lama escaped to India, and in the war that followed, tens of thousands of Tibetan men, women and children were slaughtered by China's army. China also destroyed Lhasa's major monasteries along with thousands of their inhabitants.

    Allowing the Dalai Lama to escape has been a continuing humiliation to China. China keeps hoping he'll drop dead, but at age 81, he has refused to do so, so far.

    However, the successor to the Dalai Lama has become a major issue. The current Dalai Lama is the 14th. Each Dalai Lama is believed to be a reincarnation of the previous one. Each Dalai Lama can choose the person who will select the next Dalai Lama after he dies. The current Dalai Lama did select a six-year-old boy in the 1995 for this role, but the boy and his family were immediately kidnapped and killed by the Chinese government.

    China now wants to take control of the succession process, and essentially to select the next Dalai Lama when the current one dies. However, it's not likely that the Tibetan people will accept the choice of the Chinese government. History.com and Phayul.com (India) and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Apr-17 World View -- Dalai Lama to visit region of northeast India claimed by China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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    2-Apr-17 World View -- Paraguay wracked by worst violent riots in decades over constitutional crisis

    Brief generational history of Paraguay

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Paraguay wracked by worst violent riots in decades over constitutional crisis


    Protesters setting fire to Paraguay's National Congress building in Asunción on Friday night (Reuters)
    Protesters setting fire to Paraguay's National Congress building in Asunción on Friday night (Reuters)

    One person was killed and dozens injured on Friday night in Paraguay's capital city Asunción during the most massive and most violent anti-government protests since democracy was restored in 1992. The protesters chanted "Dictatorship never again!", in opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment that would permit President Horacio Manuel Cartes to run for a second five-year term in 2018.

    Protesters also set fire to the National Congress building, which burned for over two hours, as the rioting carried on long into the night. Two hundred people were arrested.

    The protesters were reacting to the memory of the vicious, bloody 35-year dictatorship of General Alfredo Stroessner Matiauda, who had governed Paraguay from 1954 to 1989. He was thrown out of office in a coup, after which a constitution guaranteeing democracy was implemented. The constitution stated that the president would have one five-year term, and could not be reelected.

    On Friday, by a secret vote, Paraguay's Senate (upper house) approved a constitutional amendment allowing the re-election of a president to a second term, triggering the violent riots on Friday evening.

    For the constitutional amendment to pass, it must also be approved by the Chamber of Deputies (lower house), where 44 of the 80 members belong to Cartes's right-wing governing Colorado party. When the vote is taken, the amendment is expected to be approved easily. It's thought that the rioters set the National Congress building on fire to prevent the vote from being taken.

    The constitution amendment is opposed by Senate President Roberto Acevedo of the opposition left-wing Authentic Radical Liberal Party. It's feared that if the amendment is passed, then rioting will be renewed. The dead protester was Rodrigo Quintana, a member of the Authentic Radical Liberal Party.

    On Saturday evening, President Horacio Cartes fired Paraguay’s interior minister and top police officials in the hope of avoiding more rioting. The vote in the lower house has been postponed. Reuters and Straits Times (Singapore) and Washington Post

    Brief generational history of Paraguay

    The Spaniards arrived in 1537, and Paraguay became part of the Spanish empire during the conquests of the mid-1500s. Spain's South American empire continued relatively peacefully until the early 1800s, when a major event occurred.

    The French Revolution had occurred in the 1790s, and by the early 1800s, Emperor Napoleon of France was proceeding with a series of conquests with the intention of forming an early "European Union," with Napoleon at its head. One of the conquests of his French army was the invasion of the Iberian Peninsula in 1807-08, usurping the Spanish crown. This created a domino effect in Latin America, where one country after another declared independence from Spain, and the Spanish empire essentially disintegrated by 1825. Paraguay achieved independence in 1811.

    Paraguay's next generational crisis war was the War of the Triple Alliance, 1865-70, which Paraguay fought against Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. This war was devastating. In the five years of war, as many as 300,000 people, over half of the population, were killed.

    Both of these generational crisis wars, the war for independence and the War of the Triple Alliance, are still well-remembered in Paraguay today, and stand as a symbol of the country's unity against foreign invaders.

    The Chaco War, 1932-35, was the next generational crisis war, once again fought against another country. The Chaco War, was fought against Bolivia, resulting in the deaths of about 100,000 men.

    Alfredo Stroessner was of German ancestry, with a father from Bavaria and a mother from a wealthy Paraguayan family. As a soldier, he fought bravely in the Chaco War, and he was promoted several times during the next decade. In the generational Recovery era that followed, the Chaco War, he proved to be an able politician in the power struggles that occurred, including a brief civil war in 1947.

    In 1954, General Stroessner became a dictator through a coup. This was the beginning of the country's generational Awakening era. I've described many times how a country's leader during this period can become extremely violent or even genocidal, as we're seeing today during the Awakening eras of Syria and South Sudan. These leaders use as an excuse that they have to use violence to prevent a new crisis war from breaking out, although that's impossible anyway during an Awakening era. Stroessner's 35-year rule was particularly vicious and bloody, as we described above.

    Stroessner was overthrown in a coup in 1989, and in 1992 a constitution was installed that promised a democracy -- including the provision that no one could be president for more than one five-year term. The current president, Horacio Cartes, is trying to amend the constitution to run again, as described above, and this has triggered the most rioting and violence since 1992.

    Many people are concerned that this might trigger a civil war between different groups within Paraguay, but this seems unlikely, since the last three generational crisis wars were all fought with an external enemy.

    There is a great deal of race awareness in Paraguay. In decreasing order, from those considered the most élite to those considered least élite, historically they are as follows:

    In recent decades, there have been additional populations of Japanese, Korean, Lebanese and ethnic Chinese immigrants that have formed small communities. Another distinct subgroup are the "brasiguayos," second-generation Brazilians that were born and raised in Paraguay.

    Although there are distinct class differences among the groups listed above, there is no history of a war along a fault line separating them.

    Since Paraguay is in a generational Crisis era, it may be close to another war, but I would not expect it to be a civil war, and I would not expect the current rioting to spiral into a larger war, unless another country got involved. Paraguay's crisis wars have all been fought against external enemies, and I would expect its next crisis war to be the same. Country Studies - Paraguay and History World - Paraguay and Every Culture - Paraguay

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    Paraguay's National Congress building was built with funding from Taiwan

    An interesting sidebar to this story was that Paraguay's National Congress building was built using a $20 million donation from Taiwan. This is the building where protesters ransacked and set fire on Friday night.

    Paraguay is the only country in South America that recognizes Taiwan. China does will not have diplomatic relations with any nation that has diplomatic relations with Taiwan. So China and Taiwan compete with each other to have diplomatic relations with each country, and very often there's a great deal of money involved in that competition. China Post (Taiwan)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Apr-17 World View -- Paraguay wracked by worst violent riots in decades over constitutional crisis thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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    1-Apr-17 World View -- India-Pakistan clash threatened as Kashmir violence surges again

    Violence in India-controlled Kashmir takes a new turn after winter lull

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Violence in India-controlled Kashmir takes a new turn after winter lull


    A group of youth pelt stones at Indian security forces in Budgam on Tuesday (PTI)
    A group of youth pelt stones at Indian security forces in Budgam on Tuesday (PTI)

    On Wednesday, in the district of Budgam in India-controlled Kashmir, Indian security forces raided the home of an anti-government militant Tauseef Ahmad Wagay who had allegedly been responsible for inciting violence against police. According to India media reports, villagers began obstructing the police and pelting them with stones, in order to allow the militants in the home to escape. In the end, three stone pelters were killed by police gunfire, along with the militant. Dozens of police personnel were injured.

    On Friday, after Friday prayers, clashes erupted between government forces and stone-throwing villagers in several towns across Kashmir, to protest the shooting deaths on Wednesday.

    Stone-throwing incidents have occurred occasionally in the past, but became frequent after July 8 of last year, when Burhan Wani, the leader of the Kashmir separatist group Hizbul Mujahideen, was killed by Indian police fire. Massive riots in Kashmir began the next day. Indian police responded with rubber bullets, leaving many protesters wounded or killed or blinded by the pellets, and that kind of violence has been an almost daily occurrence since then. After hundreds of people had been blinded by the pellets, the police were convinced to stop using them. By this time winter was approaching, and the protests died down.

    But now that the weather is getting warmer again, the protests are growing again, and they may become massive by the end of the summer. At any rate, there's certainly no reason to expect them to die off.

    India's Home Minister Rajnath Singh gave a delusional speech on Friday, saying that the increasing protests are occurring because they're being encouraged by Pakistan-based sources, using social media applications like Whatsapp and Facebook:

    "I want to inform the House, and we should be proud of it Deputy Chairman, that the way the terrorists should be responded to, our soldiers are giving them reply in the same way, in the same language.

    A new trend has started in the last few months. Deputy speaker, the trend is this that whenever our soldiers start an operation, some youth from the villages come and start pelting stones on the security forces. But I believe, that our Kashmiri youth, who do stone pelting, are being misled by some Pak-sponsored sources.

    I want to appeal to the youth of Kashmir to please don’t get misled by Pakistan, they are regularly trying to destabilise India. I also want to inform the House that this crowd (of stone pelters) are assembled by some Pakistan-based groups with the help of social media applications like Whatsapp and Facebook. All of these are used. I want to say it again that the groups, which use social media for this, are based in Pakistan only.

    I also want to say, as far as terrorism is concerned, the way terrorism should be responded to, our soldiers are dealing with them in the same way and they will keep doing that in future also. And I want to say that will definitely become successful."

    There are a couple of things to note about the above statement.

    First, there's a note of revenge in the speech with such phrases as, "our soldiers are giving them reply in the same way, in the same language." The desire for revenge is quite understandable under the circumstances, but it's not going to end the violence and, in fact, it will only invite tit-for-tat increases in violence.

    Second, Singh blames Pakistan-based groups using social media for inciting the stone-throwers. It's quite possible that Pakistan-based groups are using social media to incite stone-throwers, but in no way does that explain the large protests. Al-Qaeda and ISIS-linked groups have been trying to incite jihadist violence in the United States for years, but outside of a few "lone wolf" attacks, we've had no large similar protests, even where there are large Muslim communities in Detroit and Minneapolis. Blaming social media for what's happening is totally delusional.

    Third, Singh says, "And I want to say that will definitely become successful." Once again, this is totally delusional.

    What seems most likely to happen is that violence will increase on both sides this summer, and may spiral into something slightly bigger or much bigger. First Post (India) and Financial Express (India)

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    Indian police arrest top separatist militant commander in Kashmir

    Separately on Friday, Amir Wagay, the current top commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, was arrested on Friday, along with some arms and ammunition, according to police reports. He was involved in numerous attacks on security forces, and was high on the "wanted" list.

    Burhan Wani, who was shot by police on July 8 of last year, triggering months of violent protests, was the commander of Hizbul Mujahideen at that time. Hindustan Times

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    Uprising in Kashmir growing into major regional war between India and Pakistan

    From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the growing violence in Kashmir is following a fairly standard historical template that always ends in a major war. I've written in the past to distinguish between "organic" genocides that come from the people, such as the 1994 Rwanda genocide, versus "government-led" genocides, such as occurring today in Syria and South Sudan.

    Although there's little doubt that Pakistan-based groups are inciting violence in Kashmir, that isn't enough to start a generational war unless the mood of the population is that such a war is necessary. As I mentioned above, there are jihadists groups inciting Muslims in America to violence, but they're having almost no success. But what we're seeing in Kashmir is an "organic" war that's leading unstoppably to a generational crisis war.

    As I described last year, India's last two generational crisis wars were India's 1857 Rebellion, and the 1947 Partition war.

    The 1857 rebellion is also called India's First War of Independence from the British colonial power. What started out as protests related to the Hindu veneration of cows grew into an extremely bloody generational crisis war, resulting in the deaths of over 100,000 Indian civilians.

    India remained a British colony, and there was little or no violence for decades, as always happens after a generational crisis war, since the traumatized survivors do not wish anything so horrible to happen again. However, as younger generations with no personal memory of the war rise to power, conflicts begin again.

    In the 1910s, Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian peace activist, launched a "non-cooperation movement" against the British, involving civil disobedience. The generational Awakening era climax occurred on April 10-12, 1919, with the Jalianvala Bagh Massacre (Amritsar Massacre), when British troops opened fire on 10,000 Sikhs holding a protest meeting, killing hundreds. That event convinced both the British and the Indians that Britain should completely give up control of India.

    By 1946, there was a debate centered on two choices: Should there be a single Indian state, with separate regions under the control of Muslims and Hindus, or should there be a two-state solution, a Muslim state living side-by-side in peace with a Hindu state? The argument that won the day was that Muslims can't stand pigs and Hindus can't eat cows, and so they can't live together. Finally, British, Muslim and Hindu officials all agreed that there had to be two separate states, India and Pakistan. In particular, the 1857 rebellion was still in everyone's mind, and it was hoped that the two-state solution would lead to peace.

    There's an old saying that "History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes." In 1947, the Indian subcontinent was partitioned into two countries, India and Pakistan, and no sooner did that happen then there was a massive new generational crisis war. But with the British colonists gone, this war pitted the Hindus against Muslims, in one of the bloodiest wars of the 20th century.

    Once again, there was relative peace following the war, but once again, younger generations have been rising, and have no fear of a new war. The accusation that Pakistan-based groups are using social media to incite violence is undoubtedly true, but India media are no better.

    Here's an excerpt from an opinion piece from right-of-center Indian media:

    "It is good that the Army Chief has made good his promise that those aiding terrorists will be dealt with like terrorists themselves, but there are discordant notes being struck by politicians who still think talks can sort out the situation. ...

    It is silly to expect that talks with Pakistan or Kashmiri separatists will somehow bring peace to the Valley. It won’t. The only way peace will come is when the security forces wear down the jihadis and Pakistan-backed terrorists over years, and the local population realizes that they have no alternative but to be a part of secular India. There is not going to be any instant nirvana in this deadly game."

    The person who wrote has absolutely no clue what he's talking about when he writes, "The only way peace will come is when the security forces wear down the jihadis and Pakistan-backed terrorists." That is not what happens in a generational Crisis era. The security forces will only enrage the separatist youth, and tit-for-tat escalations will soon lead to a full-scale war that will spread and engulf both Pakistan and India. That's the way that the world works.

    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. Swarajya Magazine (India

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Apr-17 World View -- India-Pakistan clash threatened as Kashmir violence surges again thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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    31-Mar-17 World View -- Brexit: The die is cast, and the EU is playing hardball

    Northern Ireland considers reuniting with the Republic of Ireland

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Brexit: The die is cast, and the EU is playing hardball


    Theresa May
    Theresa May

    I hadn't realized how final the action was on Wednesday, when Britain's prime minister Theresa May invoked Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, triggering a two-year negotiation period leading to the United Kingdom official exiting the European Union as one of its member states.

    I had thought that during the two-year negotiation period, it was at least possible that saner heads might prevail, and the UK would change its mind and remain in the EU. However, it turns out that once Article 50 is invoked, the decision is final, and the UK can no longer change its mind. If the UK wants to remain in the EU, then remaining would require approval of all 27 of the remaining member states, and that seems almost impossible, given the vitriolic nature of today's politics.

    So the die is cast, and now the serious negotiations must begin, and EU negotiators are playing hardball.

    Theresa May: “No deal is better than a bad deal.” This means that Britain will walk away from a deal if it's not a good deal.

    EU officials: "Britain must not get a better deal outside the EU than it has within the EU." EU officials fear that a good deal for Britain might encourage other EU members to leave.

    Britain and Theresa May want the first subject of negotiation to be trade, so that businesses in both the UK and the EU can make plans for conducting business in the future.

    Donald Tusk and the European Commission are refusing to take that route. They want the first order of business to be the "terms of the divorce" - how you split the assets and liabilities.

    In particular, EU officials are saying that the UK must pay the EU some €60 billion, and only when that issue is settled will they be willing to discuss trade and other issues important to Theresa May and Britain. The 60 billion includes such things as pension payments to British nationals working for EU employers, and spending commitments for EU projects and social programs that Britain committed to contributing to when they were still in love. Some British politicians are saying that they refuse to pay any of this, so this is a potentially serious issue.

    In her letter to European Commission president Donald Tusk, Theresa May wrote:

    "It is in the best interests of both the United Kingdom and the European Union that we should use the forthcoming process to deliver these objectives in a fair and orderly manner, and with as little disruption as possible on each side. We want to make sure that Europe remains strong and prosperous and is capable of projecting its values, leading in the world, and defending itself from security threats. We want the United Kingdom, through a new deep and special partnership with a strong European Union, to play its full part in achieving these goals. We therefore believe it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal from the European Union."

    Many people are describing this as a threat, implying that the security relationship between Britain and the EU would be threatened if Brussels demanded that the €60 billion issue be resolved before anything else could be even discussed.

    There's one issue that analysts are saying should be easy to resolve: The question of what happens to EU nationals working in Britain, and to British nationals working in the EU. Issues like medical benefits, pensions, and freedom of travel will have to be resolved. Although these problems are big enough to seem insurmountable, analysts are saying that both sides are anxious to resolve them, and so it will be done.

    On Friday, Donald Tusk will release his proposed negotiating guidelines for Brexit talks. The proposal will then have to be approved by the remaining 27 EU member states. Whenever that happens, then the negotiations can begin.

    I heard one analyst ways that almost nothing will be accomplished in the negotiations for about 18 months, until October 2018, at which time everyone will go into a panic. Text of Theresa May's letter and Daily Mail (London) and Reuters

    Britain proposes 'The Great Repeal Bill'

    This is really mind-blowing. The problem is that Britain has been following the laws and regulations of the European Union for decades, and on the day that Britain leaves the EU, all of these thousands of laws and regulations will disappear, resulting in something close to anarchy.

    So the government is proposing "The Great Repeal Bill," which will do the following: