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

24-Jan-18 World View -- China's Mekong River dams criticized for affecting other countries' livelihoods

In policy shift, US sides with Indonesia in South China Sea over Natuna Sea

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China's Mekong River dams criticized for affecting other countries' livelihoods


Floating marketplace in Mekong delta in Vietnam
Floating marketplace in Mekong delta in Vietnam

Multiple dams and hydropower projects being built in China on the Lancang Jiang River, which becomes the Mekong River when it leaves China, are having a significant effect on the livelihoods and living conditions of millions of people along the Mekong River in downstream countries. The Mekong originates on China's Tibetan plateau and flows over 4,000 km through southern China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

China has already built six dams along the river, and 11 more are under construction, with 28 more dams planned in the future. These large dams upset the ecosystem and threaten the livelihoods for an estimated 60 million farmers and fishermen living in the lower Mekong basin, where it nurtures one of the world’s most fertile areas for agriculture and fishing. Thailand and Vietnam are among the world’s largest producers of food commodities like rice. Not only do China's dams affect the water available for irrigation, they disrupt the migration of fish and block the flow of silt downstream that sustains riverine environments.

However, this goes beyond ecology. These dams give China control over the Mekong River, which means that China cause use them as leverage to control much of the economy of Southeast Asia.

The dispute over the Mekong River is similar to the dispute over the South China Sea. In the South China Sea, China is using its massive military power to threaten its neighbors, to annex regions belonging to other nations, and to build military bases that were declared illegal by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, which eviscerated all of China's claims in the South China Sea.

So now a similar dynamic is occurring along the Mekong River. China has been building these dams and hydroelectric projects without concern for the five downstream nations. Furthermore, China controls water flow according to its own needs, even if it means starving or flooding downstream inhabitants. China's attitude towards its neighbors is not surprising. After all, China displaced millions of its own people to build the Three Gorges Dam, so China's leaders really couldn't care less about people in other countries.

China's dams have been blamed for several droughts along the Mekong delta in recent years. China claims that those droughts were all caused by natural weather changes, but the perception remains that China is causing the droughts. Furthermore, China's dam building has negatively affected fishery stocks in the river. Once again, China claims it's not responsible, but when fishermen are unable to fish, they are going to blame China.

China's plans don't stop there. China is using its control of the water as leverage to force downstream countries to allow it to clear small islands and land features along the entire length of the river, calling this "navigation channel improvement." This will permit commercial and military vessels weighing up to 500 metric tons to travel along the river from China to the South China Sea.

In 1995, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam formed the Mekong River Commission (MRC) as a forum for managing changes to the river. China refused to join the MRC, to avoid being bound by its requirement that developments require consultations with the other members. Instead, China in 2015 formed a new organization of the four MRC nations plus Myanmar, the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC), which it controls. South China Morning Post and Foreign Policy and Jamestown and Cambodia Daily (17-Jan-2017)

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In policy shift, US sides with Indonesia in South China Sea over Natuna Sea

As we reported in September, Indonesia announced that it would rename the part of the South China Sea within its own exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as the "North Natuna Sea," causing China to throw a temper tantrum. ( "10-Sep-17 World View -- China demands that Indonesia end plans to rename its own territorial waters")

The US has so far stayed completely out of this particular dispute, but on Tuesday US Secretary of Defense James Mattis, in a meeting in Jakarta with Indonesia's Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu, said the United States would help Indonesia play a central role in the region, and would help it to maintain maritime security in the "North Natuna Sea." This use of the phrase "North Natuna Sea" is being considered a US endorsement of Indonesia's position.

It should be noted that the waters under discussion here are part of Indonesia's EEZ, but are far, far, far away from China. Most of China's claims have been labeled as invalid by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, but this particular claim by China is clearly completely delusional, as can be seen on any map.

The Trump administration is becoming increasingly confrontational with China's illegal claims in the South China Sea. There are regular FONOPs (Freedom of navigation operations) in the South China Sea, where a US warship travels through international waters illegal claimed by China, causing China to throw more temper tantrums. The endorsement of Indonesia's claim to the "North Natuna Sea" is one more step on that path. UPI and South China Morning Post

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Jan-18 World View -- China's Mekong River dams criticized for affecting other countries' livelihoods thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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23-Jan-18 World View -- More than 100,000 Greeks hold mass protest over 'Macedonia' name change

Massive protests in Thessaloniki Greece threaten Tsipras government

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Greece and Macedonia negotiate a contentious name change to replace FYROM


Hundreds of thousands of Greeks in Thessaloniki on Sunday protest any name change to the Republic of Macedonia that includes the word 'Macedonia' (Kathimerini)
Hundreds of thousands of Greeks in Thessaloniki on Sunday protest any name change to the Republic of Macedonia that includes the word 'Macedonia' (Kathimerini)

One of the most emotional issues in Greece and the Balkans is taking center stage over negotiations to change the name of the official Republic of Macedonia to one that is acceptable to Greece. The Kingdom of Macedon is an ancient name, dating back centuries BC, and is the birthplace, in 356 BC, of Alexander the Great.

The Republic of Macedonia declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, but Greece objected to its use of that name, claiming that having that name would give the country a claim to Greece's own province of Macedonia. The country was admitted to the United Nations in 1993 under the name the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). It has also been admitted to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under the name FYROM. The European Union and Nato also recognize only the name FYROM. However many countries, including Russia and the United States, also recognize the name Republic of Macedonia, or just Macedonia.

Greece has repeatedly used its veto power to prevent the country Macedonia from joining either the EU or Nato under any name that contains the word "Macedonia." As this situation has been going on for 25 years, there is now a great deal of pressure on the two countries to come up with a compromise.

The Greek government of prime minister Alexis Tsipras has indicated that it is willing to allow "Macedonia" to appear in the name, provided that it's modified or qualified in some way. There are five proposals on the table:

The last proposal references the capital city Skopje. The name Vardar refers to a river that rises in West Macedonia and then south into Greece, where it is called the Axios River.

Tsipras will be meeting his counterpart, FYROM prime minister Zoran Zaev, on Wednesday on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss town of Davos, and both men indicate that they'd like to resolve the issue once and for all, if that's possible. Meta (Macedonia) and B92 (Belgrade) and RFERL and AP (18-Jan)

Massive protests in Thessaloniki Greece threaten Tsipras government

More than 100,000 Greeks rallied on Sunday in Thessaloniki (Salonica), the capital city of Greece's administrative region of Macedonia. They were protesting any name change to the country Macedonia that included the name "Macedonia." In particular, they objected to all five of the proposed compromise names listed above.

A poll shows that over 68% of the Greek people oppose agreeing to any use of "Macedonia" in the new name. Politicians from the opposition party New Democracy are siding with the protesters. The Archbishop of Athens Ieronymos initially agreed with the protesters, but after a meeting with Tsipras said that the country now needs "unity" and "national solidarity" with whatever agreement is reached in Davos.

In April of last year, I wrote an article on Macedonia, and I included a brief history of Alexander the Great, referring to him as "the most famous leader in Macedonia's history." I was astounded when this description resulted in an extremely vitriolic and long-running comment stream, with comments coming from all sides -- especially the Macedonians, the Greeks, the Albanians and the Bulgarians.

In summary, Greek commenters said the following:

Macedonian comments said the following:

These comments became extremely acrimonious and went on for a long time. At one point I asked the participants whether there would be blood on the floor if they were all in the same room together. I didn't get an answer. All this indicates to me that the Balkans region, which has been the site of repeated crisis wars throughout history between the Christian civilization and the Muslim civilization, may well provide the start of the next major European war.

Into that context, we now have this emerging issue of the name change for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to something else. We'll have to see whether there's anything else that everyone can agree to. Kathimerini (Athens) and B92 (Belgrade) and Greek Reporter and Meta (Macedonia)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Jan-18 World View -- More than 100,000 Greeks hold mass protest over 'Macedonia' name change thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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22-Jan-18 World View -- Multiple Afghanistan Taliban terror attacks leave 'victory' plans in tatters

Sunday's attacks throw new doubts into claims of 'victory' in Afghanistan

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Multiple Afghanistan Taliban terror attacks leave 'victory' plans in tatters


The enormous Kabul Intercontinental Hotel that was under attack for 16 hours this weekend (Tolo News)
The enormous Kabul Intercontinental Hotel that was under attack for 16 hours this weekend (Tolo News)

The claims by the Afghanistan government and the US-led coalition forces that the Taliban is finally under control were completely undermined this weekend by three separate terrorist attacks by the Taliban.

The most spectacular of the attacks was a 16 hour siege of the Intercontinental Hotel in the capital city Kabul. Attackers dressed in army uniforms and armed with automatic weapons stormed the hotel on Saturday evening. They sprayed the areas with bullets, and forcibly entered some rooms and killed the people inside.

Social media showed parts of the building catch fire, after which guests tied sheets together to escape from their rooms.

Afghan security forces fought the attacks in a gun battle that lasted well into Sunday. Afghan government officials says that four Afghan civilians and 14 foreigners were among those killed. Other reports indicate that the death toll was well over 30.

A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, claimed credit for the attack, saying, "Our five fighters, Bilal, Ayubi, Khalil, Bashar and Abid entered the building and conducted the operation that resulted in the death of 10 foreigners and Afghan government officials." However, Afghan government officials say that there were only four attackers.

This was not the only Taliban terrorist attack to occur on Sunday.

In Balkh province in northern Afghanistan, the Taliban claimed credit for an attack that killed 18 Afghanistan militiamen on Sunday.

In Herat province in western Afghanistan, eight people were killed by a roadside bomb. No one claimed credit, but it's assumed that the Taliban were responsible. The Taliban were probably targeting police or the Afghan military, but since the eight people killed were ordinary civilians, the Taliban would want to avoid the bad publicity of claiming credit.

There is one thing about Sunday's attacks that I found very interesting: That there were no claims of credit from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). Usually, a militia in the Taliban carries out these terror attacks, and then the ISIS public relations agency, Amaq, claims credit for the attack, even though ISIS was not involved and probably didn't even know it was going to happen until they read about it online. Now that ISIS has been defeated in both Syria and Iraq, and the "Islamic State" brand name has been thoroughly humiliated, it may be that the Amaq PR agency is no longer in business. At any rate, Taliban terror groups that used to vow allegiance to ISIS are apparently now back to being just plain, old Taliban terror groups. Tolo News (Kabul) and Fox News and Al Jazeera and Reuters

Sunday's attacks throw new doubts into claims of 'victory' in Afghanistan

As I've been writing for years, based on a Generational Dynamics analysis, a "victory" in Afghanistan is impossible. Afghanistan's last generational crisis war was the extremely bloody Afghan crisis civil war, 1991-96, which mostly pitted the ethnic Pashtuns, who are Sunni Muslims and later formed the Taliban, versus the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan. Now, twenty years later, Afghanistan is in a generational Awakening era, and a new young generation of Pashtuns is coming of age, raised on stories their parents told them about the atrocities committed by the Northern Alliance, and they're looking for revenge.

There is absolutely no way that this new young generation of Pashtuns are going to enter into any "peace process" with representatives of the hated Northern Alliance, brokered by the old geezers in the Kabul government, supported by the United States. The whole concept of such a "peace process" is so completely ridiculous and absurd that you'd have to be a full-time resident of Fantasyland to think that it's possible.

So the Taliban attack on the International Hotel in Kabul on Sunday was intended to destroy the credibility of the Afghan government and the US-led coalition, and it undoubtedly succeeded.

A massive car bombing in Kabul in July of last year killed 36 and wounded dozens more. It was an attack on the ethnic Hazara community in Kabul, and the Hazaras were one of the ethnic groups in the Northern Alliance fighting the Pashtuns.

In August of last year, dozens of civilian men, women and children, mostly Hazara Shia Muslims, were massacred in a two-day gun battle in northern Afghanistan. About 50 people were shot and killed, 30 houses were torched and burned to the ground, several mosques were set ablaze, and an unknown number of villagers were taken hostages. Seven Afghan troops and 12 Taliban militants were killed in the fighting.

With regard to the two other attacks on Sunday, in Balkh province in northern Afghanistan and Herat province in western Afghanistan, news reports don't indicate what ethnic groups were targeted, but it's almost certain that the targets were government forces or Northern Alliance ethnic groups.

These kinds of attacks are not going to stop. In fact, as more and more members of this young Pashtun generation come of age, the attacks are going to increase.

As I wrote in an analysis last year, the Trump administration is probably well aware that there is no hope of any meaningful "victory" in Afghanistan, but they may have a larger purpose in mind. There are several American military bases in Afghanistan, including two air bases in Bagram and Kandahar International Airport. These bases will be valuable in any future war with China. So remaining in Afghanistan allows us continued use of those bases, as the war with China and Pakistan approaches.

This may be a similar strategy to the one that the US military is following in Syria. The US announced a "Border Security Force" (BSF) and a continuing commitment of forces to Syria to avoid repeating the 2011 Iraq withdrawal blunder without leaving any forces behind, allowing the rise of ISIS in Iraq. The US has backed off from the BSF, now calling it a kind of local police force, but its purpose is the same - to maintain a residual American force in Syria to prevent a resurgence of ISIS. The strategy in Afghanistan is similar -- maintain a residual force in Afghanistan, not with the hope of defeating the Taliban, but with the ability to maintain and support valuable military bases.

This is an extremely complex strategy, but it makes a great deal of sense as war with China and Pakistan approaches. In the meanwhile, we should expect a lot more bad news. Khaama Press (Kabul) and Stars and Stripes and Tolo News (Kabul)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Jan-18 World View -- Multiple Afghanistan Taliban terror attacks leave 'victory' plans in tatters thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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21-Jan-18 World View -- Turkey begins invasion of Syria while China lies about 'indisputable sovereignty'

Summary of major Generational Dynamics predictions

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey begins its air and ground invasion of Syria's Afrin


Map showing Syrian cities of Afrin and Manbij, both Kurdish YPG strongholds, and targets of Turkey's planned invasions (al-Jazeera)
Map showing Syrian cities of Afrin and Manbij, both Kurdish YPG strongholds, and targets of Turkey's planned invasions (al-Jazeera)

While we're stuck with suffering through the unbelievably pathetic clown circus going on in Washington, there are actually things going on in other parts of the world.

Turkey's military operation against Syria's Afrin region that we described yesterday has begun. Turkish warplanes have conducted hundreds of airstrikes at Kurdish YPG (People's Protection Units) targets in Afrin. Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) militias are moving into Afrin to conduct the ground war. The FSA consists of Arabs and Turkmens opposed to the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad.

Russia says that it has moved its 300 or so troops out of Afrin to safety. Russia, which controls the airspace over Afrin, is not stopping Turkey's airstrikes, indicating that Russia is giving tacit approval to Turkey's operation.

Turkey's own troops have not crossed the border into Syria, although there have been reports of trucks carrying Turkish tanks crossing the border to Afrin. Turkey would have no reason to commit its own troops unless the FSA troops started getting bogged down.

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan says that the after Afrin the next target will be Manbij. Although Manbij is west of the Euphrates River Valley, there are American units in the region, so a clash with Americans would be a possibility, although it's likely that both sides would do everything to avoid it.

In a speech on Saturday, Erdogan said:

"The promises made to us over Manbij were not kept. So nobody can object if we do what is necessary.

Later we will, step by step, clear our country up to the Iraqi border from this terror filth that is trying to besiege our country."

This refers to several American promises that were not kept. The Americans promised that the YPG would be armed and trained only until the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) was defeated in Raqqa, but is continuing to arm and train YPG fighters for its Border Security Force (BSF). The Americans promised that they would withdraw as soon as ISIS was defeated, but now are saying that they will stay indefinitely, rather than risk repeating the blunder made with the 2011 withdrawal from Iraq.

Turkey's ground invasion is highly risky. Both the FSA militias and the YPG militias are battle hardened, and the victory in Afrin may not be as quick as Erdogan is fantasizing. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Al Jazeera and Hurriyet

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China lies about 'indisputable sovereignty' in new confrontation in South China Sea


Map showing that the Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal is far from China, but within the Philippines EEZ (Inquirer)
Map showing that the Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal is far from China, but within the Philippines EEZ (Inquirer)

According to Lu Kang, the spokesman for China's foreign ministry:

"On the night of January 17, the USS Hopper missile destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles off China's Huangyan Dao [i.e., the Philippines' Scarborough Shoal] without gaining permission from the Chinese government. ...

China has indisputable sovereignty over Huangyan Dao [Scarborough Shoal] and the adjacent waters."

Lu Kang is a serial liar. Whether the subject is Doklam Plateau, the South China Sea, Taiwan, or North Korea, Lu Kang says any nonsense he wants, with no regard for the facts.

China has no sovereignty whatsoever over the Scarborough Shoal. It's within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Philippines, as shown by the above map. In 2016, Lu Kang and China were completely humiliated when United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague ruled that all of China's claims in the South China Sea were hoaxes and lies.

Even the word "indisputable" is a lie on its face. Obviously China's claims are disputable, have been disputed, and have been shown to be false. Lu Kang is a serial liar.

American naval spokesman Commander Nicole Schwegman responded:

"The United States conducts routine and regular FONOPs [Freedom of Navigation Operations], as we have done in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

We have a comprehensive FONOP program under which U.S. forces challenge excessive maritime claims across the globe to demonstrate our commitment to uphold the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of the sea and airspace guaranteed to all nations under international law. FONOPs are not about any one country, nor are they about making political statements. FONOPS are designed to comply with international law and not threaten the lawful security interest of coastal States."

That the US simply ignores China's false claims in the South China Sea is undoubtedly very humiliating to the Chinese, who become infuriated whenever anyone challenges their false claims.

This is the second time this week that the Chinese were humiliated by an American action. The US and Canada co-sponsored an international meeting to discuss the North Korea crisis, and China was totally infuriated that it wasn't invited to attend. Foreign Ministry of China and Inquirer (Manila) and ABC News

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Summary of major Generational Dynamics predictions

The following is a summary of the major Generational Dynamics predictions that I've posted in the past. None of this is new, except that all of these predictions are listed together in one place. These predictions have been essentially unchanged for over ten years.

First, by way of introduction, although I sometimes call myself the gloomiest person in the world, it's worth noting that there are other forecasts that are gloomier than mine. These include the following:

So my oft-stated Generational Dynamics predictions are these:

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Jan-18 World View -- Turkey begins invasion of Syria while China lies about 'indisputable sovereignty' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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20-Jan-18 World View -- Turkey's troops mass on border, preparing to invade northern Syria

The growing conflagration in northwest Syria

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey's troops mass on border, preparing to invade northern Syria


Many thousands of displaced Syrians in Afrin and Idlib will likely be displaced again (AFP)
Many thousands of displaced Syrians in Afrin and Idlib will likely be displaced again (AFP)

For months, Turkish officials, including president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have been threatening to invade a region of northern Syria to kill or expel Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militias. The target region is a corridor of land along the northern border between the cities of Afrin in the west and Manbij in the east. We've reported on Turkey's plans to invade Afrin and Manbij several times in the past.

On Friday, Turkish military forces massed on Turkey's southern border with Syria, and began artillery shelling targets within Afrin. This has been described as the beginning of the ground invasion by Turkish officials, but so far Turkish troops have not crossed the border, and no time is being given for when that will happen. Because there have been numerous claims for months that an invasion of Afrin was coming soon, and none has occurred so far, we cannot be certain that an actual invasion will occur at this time, or whether it's just another bluff. Presumably, we will know by the end of the weekend.

If the ground invasion occurs, Turkey's forces will be combined with forces from the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which is comprised of Syrian Arabs and Turkmens.

This invasion would not lead to a direct conflict with US-backed forces in the recently announced Border Security Force (BSF), because Afrin and Manbij are both west of the Euphrates River Valley, which is the western boundary of the region to be patrolled by the BSF. However, the US State Dept. has counseled Turkey not to attack YPG forces in Afrin, because doing so could destabilize the entire region.

The US has been working with the YPG because the Kurds have proven themselves to be the most effective fighters in Syria against the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) -- better than the Turks, the Russians and the Syrians. However, Turkey is infuriated by this relationship, because they consider all Kurds in Syria to be linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is a terrorist group that has conducted an insurgency within Turkey for three decades, and has perpetrated number spectacular terrorist bombings in Turkey. So Turkish officials have called the BSD a "terrorist army" being supported by the US military, and have vowed to "drown" it. Reuters and Hurriyet (Ankara) and News Click (India)

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Collapse of the Russian 'peace process'

Another major player in the region is the Russian military. Russia's president Vladimir Putin has been pursuing his delusional peace process in Syria with the hope of being recognized worldwide as the man who brought peace to Syria.

Actually, Russia's attempts at peace have just been another farce. Russia, Iran and Turkey held several rounds of peace talks last year in Astana, Kazakhstan, and came up with a plan for four "de-confliction zones" or "ceasefire zones." Unfortunately, Syria's president Bashar al-Assad did not endorse the talks, nor any of its agreements. So al-Assad has completely ignored the de-confliction zones, using them as cover to continue his genocidal acts, such as attacking innocent women and children in Eastern Ghouta using WMDs (chlorine gas) and barrel bombs. In addition, al-Assad's barrel bombs and missiles are specifically targeting hospitals and schools, in order to destroy as much life as possible.

So Russia's de-confliction zones have simply been turned into al-Assad war zones. Because of his delusional belief in these de-confliction zones, Putin announced in December that the war was over, but it's far from over. Putin also announced that Russian troops would be withdrawn, but repeated attacks on Russia's Khmeimim airbase by "terrorists" means that Russian troops will have to remain, since protection of the base cannot be trusted to dysfunctional Syrian troops.

Another part of Putin's delusional peace plan was that he was going to convince the Kurds to agree to some kind of peace arrangement with Bashar al-Assad, and convince the YPG to give up its weapons, so that everyone could live in peace and happiness.

That plan has already been upended by the US announced of the Border Security Force, which is to consist of 15,000 hardened YPG fighters, along with another 15,000 trainees. Turkey has expressed so much fury and outrage over what it calls this "terrorist army," that the US backing off somewhat, and saying that, oh, it's not really an army or anything like that, but just a bunch of policemen doing guard duty. However, the Turks don't believe that.

But Russia still has a relationship with the Kurds, and last year Putin sent troops to Afrin, presumably to protect the Kurds from the Turks. So there have been reports all week that the Turks were meeting with the Russians to ask for permission to invade Afrin. The reports on Friday were that Russian troops were withdrawing from Afrin, but other unconfirmed reports from Russia say that the Russians are denying that they're withdrawing their troops.

So, we know that Turkey is massing troops, but there are a couple of things that we don't know: We don't know whether Turkey got Russia's permission, and we don't know if Turkey will invade anyway. Jamestown and Hurriyet (Ankara) and Reuters

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The growing conflagration in northwest Syria

Turkey's invasion of northern Syria would come at the same time that Bashar al-Assad is pursuing massive waves of attacks on ordinary civilians in Idlib, another one of Russia's "de-confliction zones" or "ceasefire zones" which al-Assad has turned into war zones.

There are 2.6 million civilians living in Idlib, and they've essentially become sitting ducks for massive attacks by Syrian and Russian warplanes. ( "14-Jan-18 World View -- Syria's al-Assad threatens to drive hundreds of thousands more refugees into Turkey and Europe")

Hundreds of thousands of civilians are being forced to flee north toward the border with Turkey, and in many scenarios, they will cross the border into Turkey, and produce new waves of migrants reaching Europe.

At the same time, Turkey is threatening to attack Kurdish enclaves in a region stretching from Afrin to Manbij, creating even more hundreds of thousands of refugees. These two situations could combine to bring about a refugee disaster of massive proportions. This would be a repeat of what's already occurred, when millions of Syrian refugees fled into neighboring countries, with more than a million reaching Europe.

Reading the Turkish media makes it clear that Turkey is becoming extremely nationalistic and xenophobic, with the xenophobia directed not only at the Kurds, but also at Americans and Israelis, who are increasingly being blamed for their troubles. Turkey's relationship with Russia is a marriage of convenience if there ever was one, and the actions by Russia's ally, Bashar al-Assad, in Idlib are creating a refugee disaster on Turkey's doorstep.

Generational Dynamics predictions that I've been posting for years haven't changed. 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. Yeni Safak (Ankara) and Anadolu (Ankara) and Al Araby (UK)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Jan-18 World View -- Turkey's troops mass on border, preparing to invade northern Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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19-Jan-18 World View -- Britain and France renew 1904 Entente Cordiale with new military agreement

Britain will pay £44.5 million to renew the Le Touquet migration agreement

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Britain and France renew 1904 Entente Cordiale with new military agreement


Emmanuel Macron and Theresa May meeting at Sandhurst Military Academy on Thursday (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Emmanuel Macron and Theresa May meeting at Sandhurst Military Academy on Thursday (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

On Thursday, France's president Emmanuel Macron visited Britain's prime minister Theresa May at Sandhurst Military Academy near London, where they announced a collection of military agreements.

The agreements are being described as a new Entente Cordiale ("Friendly Agreement"). This refers to an agreement that the two countries signed on April 8, 1904, resolving long-standing colonial disputes in North Africa, and creating a united front against Germany a decade before the Great War (World War I) began. Under the agreement, France recognized Britain's control over Egypt, and Britain recognized France's control over Morocco. When the German government sent Kaiser Wilhelm II to Morocco in March 1905 to challenge France's hegemony there, Britain sided with France.

The new agreement creates a military alliance between the two largest military powers in Europe, the only two nuclear powers in Europe, and Europe's two permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. With Britain leaving the European Union, it was felt that this bilateral alliance between the two countries takes on increased importance.

The elements of the agreement include the following:

According to May, "Together we will continue to play a full role to improve the security of the continent." BBC and UK-France Security and Defense Agreement (PDF) and History.com and International Business Times

Britain will pay £44.5 million to renew the Le Touquet migration agreement

As we described two days ago France's president Emmanuel Macron is demanding additional payment from Britain to continue the Le Touquet agreement.

The Le Touquet Agreement was signed in February 2003, and it grants a small region of France's land in Calais to Britain, so that Britain can set up border controls on the French side of the English Channel, rather than on the British side.

Without the Le Touquet Agreement, migrants arriving in Calais could travel to Britain with no hindrance. With the agreement, migrants arriving in Calais are on British soil as they approach the Channel Tunnel, and so they are subject to British border controls before they ever cross the Channel. It's generally agreed that this arrangement has prevented huge waves of migrants from crossing the Channel to reach Britain.

However, French officials have long complained that they bear the economic consequences of the Le Touquet agreement. Thousands of migrants have traveled from countries like Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan to Calais in hopes of crossing the Channel, but instead they get stopped in Calais, and the Calais authorities become responsible for providing humane treatment and dealing with any associated crime, as well as migrant camps like The Jungle. Without the agreement, they would simply travel on to Dover, and Britain would have all those problems.

So on Thursday, Britain's prime minister Theresa May agree to invest £44.5 million ($62 million) to reinforce security measures in Calais, including fencing, CCTV and detection technology.

Britain also committed to taking in a higher proportion of migrants than they have in the past. In particular, they will resettle 480 unaccompanied children currently in Calais. France 24 and BBC and Reuters and BBC

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Jan-18 World View -- Britain and France renew 1904 Entente Cordiale with new military agreement thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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18-Jan-18 World View -- North Korea's Olympics publicity stunt gains widespread media adoration

US, Canada sponsor international North Korea meeting to send signal to China, Russia

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

US, Canada sponsor international North Korea meeting to send signal to China, Russia


The South Korean women`s ice hockey team may play with the North Korean team (Yonhap)
The South Korean women`s ice hockey team may play with the North Korean team (Yonhap)

The United States and Canada are co-sponsoring an international meeting to discuss actions to be taken to prevent North Korea's development of a nuclear weapon deliverable by a ballistic missile.

According to Canada's foreign ministry:

"In this spirit, Canada is co-hosting, with the United States, the Vancouver Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula on January 16, 2018. The Vancouver group of foreign ministers from across the globe will meet to demonstrate solidarity in opposition to North Korea’s dangerous and illegal actions and work together to strengthen diplomatic efforts toward a secure, prosperous and denuclearized Korean peninsula. To this end, foreign ministers will also discuss ways to increase the effectiveness of the global sanctions regime in support of a rules-based international order."

It's almost buried, but the key word here is "denuclearized."

And when you drill down what the term "denuclearized" means to the meeting participants, it means that all nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons development must be completely removed from North Korea, and full, thorough international inspections have to be put in place. When that happens, then all international sanctions will be moved, and the result will be "a secure, prosperous and denuclearized Korean peninsula."

Here's a list of the 20 countries attending the meeting: Canada, United States, Australia, Belgium, Colombia, Denmark, France, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, and United Kingdom.

Two countries are missing: China and Russia.

This is infuriating China. In the delusional New Year's speech of China's president Xi Jinping, he bragged that China will "always be a builder of world peace, contributor of global development and keeper of international order," even though China is an international criminal, having repeated Hitler's actions by annexing other countries' regions and building illegal military bases in the South China Sea. (See "1-Jan-18 World View -- Xi Jinping says that China will now have a 'say' on all international issues")

So China is calling the Vancouver meeting "illegitimate" and "cold war thinking." Russia said that the meeting was "a threat to peace efforts." Russia invaded Georgia and made Georgia's provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia into Russian controlled puppets; Russia invaded Ukraine and Crimea, and illegally annexed Crimea. Russia and China always support each other's criminal activities, and so the US and Canada decided that there was no point in inviting them to Tuesday's conference.

In an interview on Wednesday, president Donald Trump praised China for its efforts to restrict oil and coal supplies to North Korea but said that China could do much more. He also said:

"Russia is not helping us at all with North Korea. What China is helping us with, Russia is denting. In other words, Russia is making up for some of what China is doing. ...

But unfortunately we don’t have much of a relationship with Russia, and in some cases it’s probable that what China takes back, Russia gives. So the net result is not as good as it could be."

The official reason being given why Russia and China were not invited to the meeting is that it's a meeting of a 20-country working group that fought in the Korean war 65 years ago. This is an obvious excuse, since the real reason is that China and Russia are not believed and not trusted. In fact, many people suspect that they're happy with North Korea's nuclear missiles, since the nuclear missiles are pointed at the United States, and not at them.

Russia and China want all such meetings to be held in the UN Security Council, where they can give nonsensical speeches and can veto anything they don't like. The fact that Russia and China are so furious that a meeting is being held without them indicates a great deal of anxiety that they may not be able to get away forever with lying and showboating. Canadian Foreign Ministry and South China Morning Post and AP and Canadian Press

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North Korea's Olympics publicity stunt gains widespread media adoration

Most of the mainstream media are bubbling with glee at the news of North Korea's participation in the winter Olympics games to be held in South Korea from February 9-25.

The plans for North Korean participation announced so far include:

(Being the cynical person that I am, I'm going to guess that the girls in the 230-member cheerleading squad will be mingling with the North Korean athletes, and will have been trained to watch for and report any signs of defections.)

Many media sources are describing this as a public relations masterstroke by North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un, and that may be right. At the beginning of the year, North Korea was under enormous pressure to end its development of nuclear missiles. He carefully orchestrated the announcements that the North would be participating in the Olympics, and in doing so he bought himself 2-3 months' time to continue nuclear and ballistic missile development with little cost to himself.

It's worth noting that almost all mainstream media sources, even those bubbling over with glee at developments, are questioning Kim Jong-un's motives. Surprisingly, some media sources credit the Olympics games breakthrough to Donald Trump's harsh tweets. One analysis in Seoul-based Chosun Ilbo even worries that the developments will give the North much needed cash:

"North and South Korea will hold a celebration in the North's scenic Mt. Kumgang resort on the eve of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, and have skiers from both sides will train in Masikryong Ski Resort on North Korea's east coast.

South Korean officials made the proposal during talks in the border truce village of Panmunjom on Wednesday and North Korea agreed. The latest agreement raises fears that package tours to Mt. Kumgang could resume and provide the North with cash for its nuclear and missile programs, and that Seoul could weaken economic sanctions against North Korea."

In fact, it seems apparent that few people are being fooled by Kim Jong-un's publicity stunt. Even in his New Year's speech in which he announced his participation in the games, and that "people who share the same blood [should] be happy together," he also said that North Korea now has "a super-powerful thermonuclear weapon" such that "the entire US mainland is in our nuclear striking range," so that "The United States can never provoke a war against me and our state." North Korea will "mass produce nuclear warheads and ballistic rockets," in order to create an arsenal of such weapons.

This extremely belligerent threat has not been forgotten, and was well-remembered by the participants in the Canada-US sponsored meeting on North Korea held on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Trump's chief of staff John Kelly was interviewed on Fox News on Wednesday, and said the following about the North Korea situation (my transcription):

"This is one of those things that landed on this president's lap [when he took office]. It's been in the process for 25 years. We've kicked the can down the road. The problem at this point in time is there's no road left. We have to deal with this guy. He cannot have a deliverable atomic weapon that can reach the United States reliably. It just cannot be. Obviously the president would much prefer to do this in alliance with every other nation of good will to convince this guy that it is not in his interest. But I believe we're out of road."

I cannot imagine any statement more clearly made than this one that since "we're out of road," action has to be taken imminently. Furthermore, this is consistent with any number of statements in the last year by Trump, H.R. McMaster, Steve Bannon, Lindsey Graham, and others.

There seems no way out of this. Either Kim Jong-un will have to back down, in which case he'll probably be killed by his generals, or Trump will order some military action to remove the North Korean threat, possibly leading a major regional or world war.

It looks like the North Korea nuclear issue is on pause until the February 25, when the Olympics games end. At that time, I would expect something to happen. Chosun Ilbo (Seoul) and Korea Herald and Washington Post and Reuters

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Jan-18 World View -- North Korea's Olympics publicity stunt gains widespread media adoration thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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17-Jan-18 World View -- France's Emmanuel Macron vows no more Jungle refugee camps in Calais

Macron demands more money from Britain and to renegotiate the Le Touquet Agreement

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

France's Emmanuel Macron vows no more Jungle refugee camps in Calais


Emmanuel Macro was warmly received by residents of Calais on Tuesday (Sky News)
Emmanuel Macro was warmly received by residents of Calais on Tuesday (Sky News)

France's president Emmanuel Macron visited the port city of Calais on Tuesday, in preparation for a visit to meet Britain's prime minister Theresa May in London, later this week.

Calais is significant because it has the entrance to the Channel Tunnel that provides auto and rail connections through the English Channel to Dover in England. In recent years, refugees from numerous countries, including Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan have made their illegally, often by paying exorbitant rates to human traffickers, to reach Calais, in the hope of finding a way to reach Britain and apply for asylum there.

Calais became the home of a huge migrant camp called "The Jungle," housing 7,000 migrants. French authorities shut the camp down in October 2016, forcing the migrants to disperse or to be housed in refugee centers in other parts of France. In the refugee centers, they could apply for asylum and remain in France if the application was accepted, or be deported to their home countries if the application was rejected. In 2017, there were 100,000 asylum applications in France, 17% higher than in 2016. Among refugees whose asylum applications are rejected, reports indicate that only 20-30% are actually deported.

The Jungle camp was shut down by Macron's predecessor François Hollande, but Macron has vigorously adopted policies to prevent any sort of camp to reemerge. Macron's policies have been so harsh that some pro-refugee activists are comparing Macron unfavorably to the hated former anti-immigrant president Nicolas Sarkozy.

According to various reports, police are treating refugees brutally. Materials such as sleeping bags and covers are being confiscated and thrown out. Refugees are prevented from sleeping in the open, so they have to run into the woods and sleep there. Sometimes the police spray food with teargas so that it become inedible.

According to Macron during Tuesday's visit to Calais:

""There will be no reconstruction of the Jungle and no tolerance for the illegal occupation of public space. ... We have a responsibility to protect those who are in danger, [but] we can't welcome millions of people who live in peace in their countries."

However, Macron's critics say that he is badly out of touch. According to Olivier Brachet, a judge who specializes on asylum cases:

"The policy of Macron belongs to the world of yesterday, not to the world of today. It is very traditional. Yes to political asylum, no to economic migration.

Prime ministers and presidents have been saying that already for thirty years. That is not where the problem lies. The problem is sending back irregular migrants to their country. There are no bilateral solutions. In fact, there are only European solutions. Because individual countries are not going to lift a finger by saying, ok, we agree, we’ll take them."

At present, there are still nearly 1,000 people in the region, camped out in one way or another, with 700 migrants estimated in Calais, and a further 300 or so in nearby Dunkirk. RFI and Sky News and Reuters

Macron demands more money from Britain and to renegotiate the Le Touquet Agreement

The Le Touquet Agreement was signed in February 2003 by then French Minister of Interior Nicolas Sarkozy and his British counterpart David Blunkett. In many ways, it's quite novel. It grants a small region of France's land to Britain, so that Britain can set up border controls on the French side of the English Channel, rather than on the British side.

Without the Le Touquet Agreement, migrants arriving in Calais could travel to Britain with no hindrance. With the agreement, migrants arriving in Calais are on British soil as they approach the Channel Tunnel, and so they are subject to British border controls before they ever cross the Channel. It's generally agreed that this arrangement has prevented huge waves of migrants from crossing the Channel to reach Britain.

It's worth noting that the Le Touquet Agreement is a bilateral agreement between Britain and France, and so it is not affected by Brexit. However, it's becoming a bit of leverage to be used by France to gain concessions from Britain in the Brexit negotiations.

According to Calais mayor Natacha Bouchart:

"We are the ones suffering the economic consequences of the [Le Touquet] border deal, which the British have no intention of renegotiating.

Aid workers try to help them, and there are local shelters where they can seek assistance. But most don’t want our help. They put themselves in awful situations and don’t want anything from France.

There are between 400 and 600 migrants in Calais. They want to go to the UK and are always making trouble. They stop drivers and jump into UK-bound bound lorries.

They storm the ring road leading to the port and attack riot police using metals bars and heavy objects, risking their lives and the lives of locals. ... The local population is tired of this situation, it’s unacceptable.

The Treaty of Touquet has to be re-negotiated. We cannot satisfy ourselves with a British government that just helps us to keep its own security. They have to give economic compensation to the city of Calais and to its projects."

Reports indicate that, because of Macron's demands, Britain has already agreed to renegotiate the agreement, and in particular has agreed to increase its financial contributions. France's interior minister Gerard Collomb said, "Our understanding is that they will pay more. The question is how much and for what."

There are further discussions of a "Franco-British operational task force," which will be responsible for managing all the migrants on the French side, and Britain will also be required to accept more migrants than it has in the past.

It's believed that neither side has any appetite for abandoning the Le Touquet Agreement altogether, as Calais would immediately become a magnet for thousands more migrants wishing to travel to Britain. France 24 and Express (London) and Telegraph (London) and PDF: Text of 2003 Le Touquet Treaty

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  • Furious Sarkozy tirade at EU meeting over Roma Gypsies (17-Sep-2010)
  • (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Jan-18 World View -- France's Emmanuel Macron vows no more Jungle refugee camps in Calais thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    16-Jan-18 World View -- US in Syria announces a Border Security Force to prevent repeat of Iraq withdrawal blunder

    Turkey, Russia and Syria infuriated by the Border Security Force announcement

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    US in Syria announces a Border Security Force to prevent repeat of Iraq withdrawal blunder


    US soldiers train Kurdish SDF forces in how to control a drone (Reuters)
    US soldiers train Kurdish SDF forces in how to control a drone (Reuters)

    The US-led coalition against ISIS in Syria is training a force of 30,000 fighters, mostly drawn from the existing predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in order to form a "Syrian Border Force" (BSF) to prevent a resurgence of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

    The purpose of the BSF is to avoid repeating what is seen to be a blunder made by president Barack Obama in 2011, when American troops were withdrawn from Iraq with no continuing presence to prevent the spread of a new insurgency. Many people refer to that as a blunder by Obama that permitted the spread of the ISIS insurgency in Iraq. The intention is that the new BSF will prevent a similar blunder in Syria, now that ISIS is no longer in control of Raqqa.

    According to coalition spokesman Colonel Thomas F. Veale:

    "The Coalition is working jointly with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to establish and train the new Syrian Border Security Force (BSF). Currently, there are approximately 230 individuals training in the BSF’s inaugural class, with the goal of a final force size of approximately 30,000.

    The base of the new force is essentially a realignment of approximately 15,000 members of the Syrian Democratic Forces to a new mission in the Border Security Force as their actions against ISIS draw to a close."

    As Veale's statement suggests, the training has already been going on for some time. In fact, this is a follow-up from a statement made on December 22 by US Army Gen. Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command. Votel pointed out that Russia's president Vladimir Putin had declared early in December that ISIS was defeated in eastern Syria, but then ISIS took over six villages in the area just days later.

    Votel confirmed, for the first time, that there were 2,000 American troops in Syria, and said that they will be training "border security forces" in Syria:

    "[The border security forces] will help prevent resurgence of ISIS and will help bring control. We do it right where it's needed [in Syria].

    You just can't go in and have a fight and drop a bunch of bombs and then step away from it and think that the problem is solved. This is a reminder of just how resilient and capable this organization [ISIS] is, and how we have to really make sure, as we complete these operations, that we've done it very thoroughly."

    The training would include instruction in interrogation, screening, biometric scanning and other skills to help identify insurgents who may be trying to cross into Syria from neighboring countries, now that the emphasis is on stabilization and peacekeeping, not fighting.

    There were 230 individuals who were trained in the program announced in December. The US considers the SDF and the Kurdish fighters to have been the most effective fighting force against ISIS, better than Turkish forces and Syrian forces. So 15,000 hardened fighters in the SDF will initially be realigned to a new mission in the Border Security Force, and additional fighters will be recruited and trained, to bring the total BSF force to 30,000.

    The BSF will be responsible for patrolling the borders of a region stretching weom the Euphrates River Valley in the east to the Iraq border in the east, and north to the border with Turkey.

    The ethnic composition of the force will vary relative to the areas in which it serves, with efforts taken to ensure that people serve close to their homes. This all but guarantees that Kurds, who make up a majority of the population in northeastern Syria, will be establishing checkpoints along the roughly 820-kilometer (510-mile) Syria-Turkey border, while more Arabs will serve in areas along the Euphrates River Valley and along the border with Iraq. The Defense Post (13-Jan) and AP (22-Dec)

    Turkey, Russia and Syria infuriated by the Border Security Force announcement

    The area being patrolled by the Border Security Force seems enormous to many people. Furthermore, while the objective may be to prevent infiltration of ISIS across Turkey's border, it seems likely that a major purpose of patrolling the Euphrates River Value will be to prevent infiltration of Syrian army forces, and a major purpose of patrolling the Iraq border will be to prevent Iran from completing its road connecting Baghdad to Damascus.

    Turkey has been complaining for almost two years that while the Kurdish forces in the SDF were fighting ISIS in Raqqa, they could also be preparing for new terrorist attacks in Turkey itself. The Kurds in the SDF are affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which conducted an insurgency within Turkey for three decades, and which has perpetrated major terror attacks within Turkey during the last three years.

    Turkey claims that the US promised that the Kurdish forces would no longer be armed, once ISIS was defeated, and that the US is reneging on that promise. Turkey claims that the new Border Security Force will be a Kurdish army poised to attack Turkey.

    Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that Turkey will attack the Kurdish forces, and clear its border of "terrorists." That remark apparently was not referring to Kurdish forces in the BSF region, but rather to Kurdish forces in Afrin, and also to Iraq. However, Erdogan also criticized the US support of the SDF:

    "Making a terrorist wear a uniform, and flying your country's flag over the buildings they use, does not change any facts. Thousands of weapons sent to the region are already on the black market and some of them are being used against us."

    On Monday, Erdogan added:

    "The United States has admitted that it has created a terrorist force along our country's border. Our duty is to drown this army of terror before it is born."

    Erdogan is threatening an imminent military attack on Kurds in Afrin, Manbij, and other targets in northern Syria. However, he's made such threats before without carrying through.

    Russian officials are angered by the BSF announcement because they see that it has no other purpose than to partition Syria permanently:

    "In fact, that means separation of a huge territory along the border with Turkey and Iraq. The actions we currently see indicate that the United States does not want to keep the territorial integrity of Syria. We see not the desire to help to extinguish the conflict as soon as possible, but rather the desire to assist those who want to take practical steps for regime change in the Syrian Arab Republic. ...

    What it would mean is that vast swaths of territory along the border of Turkey and Iraq would be isolated, it's to the east of the Euphrates river. There are difficult relations between Kurds and Arabs there. If you say that this zone will be controlled by the forces supported by the US, there will be a force of 30,000 people. ...

    There is a fear that they are pursuing a policy to cut Syria into several pieces."

    Not surprisingly, Syria's foreign ministry denounced the plan for the Border Security Force:

    "Syria strongly condemns the US announcement on the creation of militias in the country's northeast, which represents a blatant attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity and unity of Syria, and a flagrant violation of international law.

    Syria considers any Syrian who participates in these militias sponsored by the Americans as a traitor to their people and nation, and will deal with them on this basis."

    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.

    This prediction indicates that the current alliance between Turkey and Russia will end at some point soon. Daily Sabah (Ankara) and AP and Russia Today and Al Jazeera

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Jan-18 World View -- US in Syria announces a Border Security Force to prevent repeat of Iraq withdrawal blunder thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    15-Jan-18 World View -- Cameroon Catholic Church splits over government 'barbarism' and 'growing genocide'

    Cameroon crisis escalates as English-speakers flee to Nigeria to escape French-speakers' violence

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Cameroon crisis escalates as English-speakers flee to Nigeria to escape French-speakers' violence


    Anglophone Cameroon cocoa farmers have been forced to abandon their crops and flee the violence from the Francophone security forces (Reuters)
    Anglophone Cameroon cocoa farmers have been forced to abandon their crops and flee the violence from the Francophone security forces (Reuters)

    There are fears that the crisis in Cameroon's Anglophone (English-speaking) regions is spiraling out of control, leading to a refugee emergency, and possibly shutting down cocoa production, an important part of Cameroon's economy.

    Tens of thousands of people from the Southern Cameroons, as the Anglophone provinces of Cameroon are known, have been forced to flee across the border into Nigeria in the last three months, to escape increasingly brutal violence by Francophone security forces of the country's despotic Francophone leader, 84 year old Paul Biya, who has been in power 37 years.

    Even thousands of cocoa farmers have been forced to abandon their crops and flee to larger towns or to Nigeria. Normally, they produce more than 100,000 tonnes of beans, nearly half of the country's output.

    The violence started in 2016, but at the start is one almost entirely one-sided violence, with the Francophone security forces violently attacking peaceful Anglophone protesters.

    In 2016, the peaceful protests began with claims by Anglophone lawyers that the legal and court systems are biased toward Francophones, with many laws passed without even being translated into English. Anglophone teachers joined in, protesting that all courses in the schools had to be taught in French, and that any use of English was forbidden. The Francophone police responded by severely beating several protesters, and shooting two of them dead.

    Violence by Francophone security forces grew during 2017, and took a particularly dangerous turn on September 22, when pro-Anglophone activist forces began using small bombs to target local security forces. On October 1, separatists staged a massive march, and declared the independence of Ambazonia. In the increasingly violent Francophone government crackdown that followed, hundreds of people were arrested, and helicopter gunships were used to fire on innocent civilians and kill them, resulting in the mass flight of refugees into Nigeria.

    Nigeria is being increasingly drawn into the Cameroon crisis, as Cameroon Francophone security forces have been illegally crossing the border into Nigeria to pursue and arrest refugees fleeing the violence.

    On January 5, armed Nigerian security forces stormed a hotel in Nigeria's capital city, Abuja, where Cameroonian activists were meeting, and arrested 15 men and held them in secret custody for over a week. It's feared that Nigerian authorities will extradite the activists to Cameroon, where they'll be held without trial and tortured. This has caused a debate by legislators and human rights activists within Nigeria itself, who say that the arrests were in violation of Nigerian law, and that deporting them would be a violation of international law.

    According to Jeffrey Smith of nonprofit Vanguard Africa:

    "With elections due later this year, and with President Biya’s increasing unpopularity, this is a potentially explosive situation that merits much more attention than it has been receiving, namely from regional leaders who should, in theory, have an interest in containing the regional unrest."

    Presidential elections are scheduled for October. 84-year-old Biya is expected to run again, and to use corruption and force to rig the elections to make sure he wins. Quartz and Reuters and Premium Times (Nigeria) and Amnesty International

    Cameroon Catholic Church splits over government 'barbarism' and 'growing genocide'

    The violence in the Anglophone regions of Cameroons has resulted in a significant split in Cameroon's Catholic Church, with accusations being launched between Anglophone bishops and Francophone bishops.

    On October 4 of last year, the Anglophone Bishops issued a declaration, excerpted as follows:

    "We also condemned in very unequivocal terms the violence perpetuated by some groups of young people on the one hand and the acts of brutality, torture, inhuman and unjustified treatment meted out to some of our youths by the Forces of Law and Order on the other hand. We called on the Government to restrain such barbaric action of the Forces of Law and Order and to bring to justice those of them who had been irresponsible, so that peace may reign. ...

    Friday, 22nd September 2017, was a very significant turning point. ... [A] huge population of men, women, youths, old and young, and even children turned out on the streets of many towns and villages of the North West and South West Regions to demonstrate peacefully and express their right to self-determination. This peaceful march of mostly innocent citizens, carrying peace plants and shouting “No violence! No violence!” and defying the Forces of Law and Order, should have sent home to the authorities a message of the fact that it was not just a handful of people outside the country calling for this restoration. While some of the Forces of Law and Order, reading the signs of the times, did not react violently, others instead of using their guns to protect citizens, shot live bullets at unarmed civilians, killing some and maiming others. ...

    We condemn in the strongest terms possible the barbarism and the irresponsible use of firearms against unarmed civilians by the Forces of Law and Order, even if they are provoked. The divine injunction: “Thou shalt not kill!” remains valid even in such circumstances. We call on the Head of State of the Republic of Cameroon, the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, to stop the bloodbath and genocide that has skillfully been initiated in the North West and South West Regions. Mr. Kofi Annan, Former Secretary General of the United Nations Organization, said that “a genocide begins with the killing of one man – not for what he had done – but for who he is”. The statement by the Minister of Communications, the Spokesperson for the Government, that some Anglophone Cameroonians are “terrorists” is a subtle call for what can be described as “ethnic cleansing” or a genocide as all Anglophone Cameroonians are now considered as ‘terrorists’ and as such they qualify for elimination, just because they are Anglophones! We need to stop the imminent genocide! ...

    At the moment, the Anglophone Problem can no longer be taken lightly or ignored. It needs urgent attention, to avoid the growing genocide. People have lost loved ones to brutal killings and do not even know where some of their corpses are now. Every individual who is killed increases the number of aggrieved persons and families, resentment and anger, which are very difficult to address."

    Francophone bishops played down this statement by ignoring the issues, but making a general condemnation of all violence, such as this by Francophone Archbishop Samuel Kleda:

    "In the name of our common citizenship, brotherhood and humanity, the defense of legitimate interests must go hand in hand with social harmony, which is what is being sought ... Violence, regardless of its source, does not build, it destroys."

    However, this infuriated Anglophones, who saw this as trying to evade the issues by lumping them together with all the other problems in Cameroon.

    Anglophone Father Gerald Jumbam wrote a letter to Kleda, saying:

    "[Cameroonians by virtue of their history] cannot be loyal subjects to the despicable and tyrannous Yaoundé government. Archbishop, you speak of Decentralization and you offer us it as the best gift you think fitting for the resolution of this crisis? We are determined to decline a gift so laden with spurious promises and deceitful propensities."

    IDN and Bareta News (6-Oct-2016) and Crux Now

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Jan-18 World View -- Cameroon Catholic Church splits over government 'barbarism' and 'growing genocide' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    14-Jan-18 World View -- Syria's al-Assad threatens to drive hundreds of thousands more refugees into Turkey and Europe

    Al-Assad's continued chlorine attacks on civilians follow Putin's 'Grozny model'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Al-Assad's continued chlorine attacks on civilians follow Putin's 'Grozny model'


    Aftermath of al-Assad attack on Eastern Ghouta on January 4 (Reuters)
    Aftermath of al-Assad attack on Eastern Ghouta on January 4 (Reuters)

    Warplanes belonging to the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad carried out chlorine gas attacks in Eastern Ghouta, a city in the suburbs of Syria's capital city Damascus. Health workers said that six people were treated for minor breathing problems.

    Canisters of chlorine gas are sometimes called "the poor man's atom bomb." They don't kill large numbers of people, but they have a different purpose of forcing large numbers of people out into the open. This is part of the "Grozny strategy" used by Russia's president Vladimir Putin, so-named because he used it in Grozny in Russia's 1990s war with Chechnya. In the Grozny strategy, civilians are forced out into the open so that they can be targeted like fish in a barrel, and killed in large numbers.

    Frequent chlorine gas attacks in Eastern Ghouta are part of that strategy. The regular missiles and barrel bomb explosions force civilians, especially women and children, to hide in basements or deep in building interiors. Chlorine gas is heavier than air, so the chlorine gas seeps into underground hiding places, and forces the women and children out into the streets, where al-Assad's forces can massacre the women and children in large numbers. Al-Assad considers these women and children to be cockroaches, and are to be exterminated like cockroaches.

    Al-Assad is following the same policy he used a year ago to totally destroy East Aleppo, with 275,000 people, in about six months. Eastern Ghouta has about 400,000 people, so al-Assad has a long way to go. Al-Assad has also targeted Ghouta with several Sarin gas attacks.

    In the meantime, his warplanes are specifically targeting hospitals and schools, and the army is preventing food and medicines from entering the region, so that the people can be starved to death. This is the same technique used by al-Assad last year to destroy East Aleppo. BBC and Daily Mail (London) and LA Times (13-Feb-2017) and CNN (7-Sep-2016) and Arms Control Association (17-Nov-2017)

    Syria's al-Assad threatens to drive hundreds of thousands more refugees into Turkey and Europe

    The regime of Syria's president is pursuing a strategy in Idlib province that could trigger a refugee "catastrophe," and send hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees north across the border into Turkey, and from there into Europe.

    According to Thomas Garofalo of the International Rescue Committee (IRC):

    "We are extremely concerned for the safety of the 2.6 million people living in Idlib if the frontline continues to advance. People have told us that they will have no choice but to uproot themselves once again and head further north. They will be heading to displacement camps that are already far beyond capacity, which means their situation will get even worse, in the dead of a wet, cold winter."

    Previously, an estimated 1.1 million people have fled to other parts of Syria.

    Already, more than 70,000 people have fled their homes and moved further into Idlib to escape the latest wave of al-Assad's violence. Many have sought refuge near the border with Turkey. Activists say whole villages near the frontline have been abandoned. "There could be a really parlous humanitarian catastrophe," said one European diplomat.

    As hundreds of thousands of refugees flee north toward the border with Turkey, Turkey's army is prepared to block them from crossing the border. These refugees will be trapped, and they'll be sitting ducks as targets of Syrian and Russian airstrikes, including barrel bombs, chlorine, and Sarin. Since Turkey is preventing them from escaping, Turkey will become active partner in the mass slaughter, and they'll be accused of allowing it to happen. Rather than being accused of enabling al-Assad's mass slaughter, Turkey may well be forced to permit them to cross the border to flee al-Assad's violence

    Another possible scenario is that rather than be blamed for helping the mass slaughter, Turkey may decide to fight the Syrians, and may be joined by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Generational Dynamics prediction is of a major war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, Jews versus Arabs, and various ethnic groups against each other, and this is one scenario how it can occur.

    No matter which of these scenarios occurs, hundreds of thousands of refugees will pour out of Idlib into Turkey, and then into Europe.

    As I've written many times in the past, Bashar al-Assad is the worst genocidal monster so far this century. The Syrian war began in 2011 when al-Assad ordered his army and air force to attack peacefully protesting civilians, including women and children. Things really worsened in August 2011, when al-Assad launched a massive military assault on a large, peaceful Palestinian refugee camp in Latakia, filled with tens of thousands of women and children Palestinians. He dropped barrel bombs laden with metal, chlorine, ammonia, phosphorous and chemical weapons onto innocent Sunni women and children, he targeted bombs on schools and hospitals, and he used Sarin gas to kill large groups of people.

    Both Eastern Ghouta and Idlib Province are supposed to be in "de-escalation zones," and free from attacks. These de-escalation zones were negotiated by Russia, Iran and Turkey. As I wrote all along, they had no chance of working since al-Assad did not agree to them, and had no intention of honoring them. The de-escalation zones are a total farce on the part of Russia, a farce compounded in December when Vladimir Putin declared that the war had ended. Guardian (London) and Al Araby (UK) and Guardian (London)

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    13-Jan-18 World View -- US requests Pakistan's permission to ship Afghan supplies through Gwadar seaport

    US-Pakistan relations continue as before, despite US aid cutoff

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    US-Pakistan relations continue as before, despite US aid cutoff


    China-built Gwadar port in Pakistan
    China-built Gwadar port in Pakistan

    It was less than two weeks ago when president Donald Trump made a scathing criticism of Pakistan's "lies and deceit" related to the Afghanistan war, and said that $2 billion in security aid to Pakistan would be suspended. It was widely feared that this announcement would cause US-Pakistan relations to spiral into open hostility and a complete break. ( "3-Jan-18 World View -- US-Pakistan relations hit major crossroad, as US cuts aid")

    Well, apparently nothing has really changed. Even the inevitable angry words haven't been particularly harsh. Yes, some feelings were crushed, and Pakistan's Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa said that "the entire Pakistani nation felt betrayed." However, nothing worse than that has happened. In fact, since Trump's announcement, there have been two phone calls between Bajwa and US CENTCOM military commander General Joseph Votel.

    This was summarized in a tweet from Pakistan's military:

    "Comd USCENTCOM & a US Senator telephoned COAS to discuss security coop post POTUS tweet. “Entire Pakistani nation felt betrayed on trivialising our decade old cooperation. We won’t ask for restoration of financial assistance but honourable recognition of our contributions”, COAS. http://pic.twitter.com/oHEQGGvyIf"

    According to an unnamed senior Pakistani foreign ministry official:

    "There is no freeze [in relations]. We are speaking to each other, at all levels. We are not sharing the details of that at this time, but the effort to find some common ground or traction on both sides is there."

    This sentiment was confirmed by a US State Department official, also unnamed.

    Richard Snelsire, the spokesperson for the US embassy in Islamabad, said: "We have received no notification regarding a suspension in defense and intelligence cooperation."

    In fact, a few harsh words from Trump are not the worst thing that has happened to US-Pakistan relations. In 2011, the US conducted a military operation on Pakistani soil to capture Osama bin Laden, and that REALLY infuriated the Pakistanis. Later, a US air strike inside Pakistan killed more than a dozen army soldiers and officers. In reaction, Pakistan closed down the supply lines to the US forces in Afghanistan, and only reopened them after the US apologized.

    So US-Pakistan relations weathered those crises, and have apparently weathered the current crisis, and things are going on as before. Reuters and Al Jazeera and Dawn (Pakistan)

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    US requests Pakistan's permission to ship Afghan supplies through Gwadar seaport

    Because Afghanistan is a land-locked country, the US-led NATO coalition in Afghanistan receives supplies that arrive in Pakistan's port in Karachi. The supplies then take a full week to travel overland by truck to reach Afghanistan. When Pakistan shut down this supply route in 2011, supplies had to take a very long route through Central Asia.

    So now the NATO coalition forces are asking Pakistan to permit supplies to arrive in Pakistan's China-built Gwadar port. From there they would be loaded onto trucks and reach Afghanistan within 24 hours, rather than a week.

    And this brings to mind one of the great issues that the pundits discussed after Trump announced the cutoff of aid to Pakistan: That cutting ties with Pakistan would push Pakistan further into the arms of China.

    It's true China and Pakistan describe their relationship as as "all-weather friends, deeper than the deepest ocean, sweeter than honey and dearer than eyesight" and all that. However, there's a whole nother side to that issue that hasn't been mentioned much: Pakistan doesn't want to be China's bitch.

    Particularly in the last one or two years, China has been harshly rolling over Pakistan, with issues related to the $60-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). China is demanding full control of infrastructure such as dams and power plants. China will control thousands of acres of Pakistani land to gain access for Pakistan's agriculture to meet China's food needs. Thousands or tens of thousands of Chinese workers are already flooding into Pakistani cities and towns, creating "Chinatowns" across the country. Mandarin Chinese is already a required school subject in Sindh province. The Pakistani culture will be transformed in many places to a Chinese culture. China will install an elaborate electronic surveillance system in Pakistani cities, for use with policing, similar to the harsh electronic surveillance systems being installed in China itself.

    The worst may be that China is setting a debt trap for Pakistan, similar to what it's already done in other countries, such as Tajikistan and Sri Lanka. Pakistan will be $90 billion in debt to China, and will have to repay China over 30 years. If Pakistan fails to repay it, then China will take over territory and other Pakistani assets. So Pakistan's relation with China may be "dearer than eyesight," but that doesn't mean that Pakistan wants to be a full-fledged colony of China, just as it once was, along with India, a full-fledged colony of Britain.

    There's also an emerging controversy over the port at Gwadar. China insists that the purpose of CPEC is purely commercial: to provide a way for goods to travel from China's Xinjiang province to the Indian Ocean, and Gwadar port is the endpoint. But in the last month, speculation has been growing that China plans to turn Gwadar into a Chinese military naval base. The speculation has emerged over the question of how China is going to provide security in the Gwadar port.

    Both China and Pakistan are denying the speculation. An unnamed Pakistani official is quoted as saying, "Pakistan Navy is well-equipped to handle the security of Chinese shipments, and we will manage the security of the shipments effectively."

    Unfortunately, such assurances by China are completely laughable, since China has pretty much zero credibility about anything. When China began building illegal artificial islands in the South China Sea, they insisted that they were purely for commercial use, and would be popular tourist attractions. That was simply a lie. Today, those islands are full-fledged military bases, bristling with Chinese missiles, warplanes, radars, bunkers, and other military equipment. No tourists are welcome.

    So now NATO is asking Pakistan to allow its military supplies for Afghanistan to transit through Gwadar port, and Pakistan is said to be considering the question. Presumably, one of the issues that Pakistani officials are considering is this: Gwadar is supposed to be a commercial port, so let's make some money from it by allowing NATO shipments, and then use that money to pay off the humongous debt we owe to China. Whether China will be happy with that solution remains to be seen.

    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, Iran and the West. Asia Times and Jamestown and VOA and Daily Pakistan and Value Walk and The Hindu

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Jan-18 World View -- US requests Pakistan's permission to ship Afghan supplies through Gwadar seaport thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    12-Jan-18 World View -- Tunisia anti-austerity activists call for huge protests on Friday

    Tunisia protests evoke memories of the 2011 'Arab Spring'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Tunisia anti-austerity activists call for huge protests on Friday


    A female protester cowers in front of the police in Tunis on Tuesday (AFP)
    A female protester cowers in front of the police in Tunis on Tuesday (AFP)

    Tunisia police have arrested over 600 people since Sunday, when widespread peaceful anti-austerity protests began to turn violent. Protesters in 20 cities, including the capital city Tunis, have attacked police stations and government buildings and set tires on fire in the streets. Over 50 police officers were wounded.

    Anti-austerity activists are calling for large new protesters across the country today, after Friday prayers. The protests were triggered by new austerity laws that came into effect at the beginning of this year.

    Tunisia has been pursuing a strategy of economy reform geared towards cutting government expenditure and devaluing its currency. The protests were triggered by the 2018 Finance Act that came into effect on January first, with the goal of reducing the budget deficit. It raised value-added tax (VAT) on cars, alcohol, phone calls, the internet, hotel accommodation and other items,

    The austerity measures were put into place based on requirements by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In 2016, the IMF gave a four-year $2.8 billion loan to Tunisia, but payments are tied to the Tunisian government carrying out economic and social reforms.

    After a review of Tunisia's economy in October of last year, the IMF statement said:

    "IMF staff and the economic team of the new government agreed that front and center of all reform efforts is the need to create jobs and contain debt. Better managing the public-sector wage bill, which is among the highest in the world and absorbs half of total expenditure, will be indispensable. ...

    Specifically, the budget bill would focus on reducing the deficit through comprehensive tax reform and rationalizing inefficient expenditure. It would also dedicate more resources in support of SMEs. Executed within an adequate framework, investments through public-private partnerships (PPP) could improve the quality of infrastructure and help free up resources for other high priority spending on health and education.

    Ensuring the sustainability of the social security system, improving governance and oversight of loss-making public enterprises, and modernizing the civil service remain critical structural reforms to reduce fiscal risks and make the overall economy more competitive."

    So prices have been rising significantly since January 1, but salaries have been frozen.

    Tunisia's unemployment rate is high, with the result that more than 60% of working men and 83% of working women are part of the country's growing informal economy. AFP and Express (London) and International Monetary Fund (6-Oct-2017) and Middle East Eye

    Tunisia protests evoke memories of the 2011 'Arab Spring'

    The so-called Arab Spring was triggered a Tunisian food vendor, resulting in protests about food prices that seem remarkably similar to those occurring today.

    By January 2011, there were massive protests and gun battles in Tunisia, forcing the president to flee the country. The protests spread to Egypt, resulting in the resignation of long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak.

    The protests also spread next door to Libya. By February, the bloodbath in Libya spread from Benghazi and Tobruk in the east to Tripoli in the west. Dictator Muammar Gaddafi threatened to shoot to kill protesters, and said he'll crush any enemy. This caused a massive refugee crisis in Libya, with hundreds of thousands of refugees pouring into neighboring countries. It's this huge destabilizing refugee crisis in Libya, along with the threat of a flood of refugees crossing the Mediterranean to Europe, that led the Arab League to demand that the West implement a no-fly zone, and approval by the UN Security Council. The no-fly zone eventually led to the war in Libya, and the death of Muammar Gaddafi.

    There was also a refugee crisis in Tunisia, sending thousands of Tunisians across the Mediterranean Sea to Italy.

    In the end, Tunisia's president Zine el Abedine Ben Ali stepped down gracefully, and left behind a secular government. Tunisia is considered by many to be the only country that weathered the Arab Spring in a successful manner, emerging as a secular democracy.

    However, the last six years have not been kind to Tunisia. The worst occurred in 2015, when there was a major terrorist attack at a museum in Tunis in March.

    But this was followed by an even more horrific attack in June, when a gunman disguised as a tourist opened fire at a Tunisian hotel in the beach resort Sousse, killing 37 people. He arrived at the beach in a boat, and hid his weapons in an umbrella. He removed the weapon, a Kalashnikov assault rifle, from the umbrella and strolled through the hotel grounds, opening fire at the pool and beach, reloading his weapon several times and tossing an explosive.

    This has been devastating to Tunisia's tourist industry, which accounts for 15% of its GDP and most of its foreign currency revenues.

    Now the new round of violent street protests are raising fears that the country is becoming unstable. Tunisia escaped the worst of what happened to other Arab countries after the Arab Spring, but it may turn out that the worst was simply postponed. Euro News and Foreign Policy (3-Jan-2011) and CNN

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    11-Jan-18 World View -- Tit-for-tat violence between Nigeria's Muslim herders and Christian farmers becomes more serious

    Nigeria searches for solutions to problem of herders vs farmers

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Tit-for-tat violence between Nigeria's Muslim herders and Christian farmers becomes more serious


    Cartoon: Farmer vs Herdsman in Nigeria (AllAfrica)
    Cartoon: Farmer vs Herdsman in Nigeria (AllAfrica)

    In what is being called a "harvest of deaths in the new year," more than 80 people in Benue State province of Nigeria have been killed in just the first ten days of this year in tit-for-tat clashes between farmers and herders. There have been similar clashes in other provinces. In several years of these clashes, there are now more than 80,000 displaced people, forced into refugee camps.

    Herders are mostly Muslims from the Fulani tribe. Farmers are mostly Christians from a number of tribes, including the Tiv, Mambila and Bachama tribes.

    In a recent incident over the weekend, more than a dozen people were killed. Unidentified gunmen from the Bachama tribe attacked Fulani settlements on Friday, in revenge for previous attacks by Fulanis. On Saturday, Fulanis conducted a reprisal attack. Four Fulanis and eight Bachamas were killed. Residents of the affected village put the death toll at 40, though this could not be verified.

    There has been an ongoing stream of these tit-for-tat attacks, which have been getting increasingly violent, leading to fears of a larger war.

    Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari is being blamed for the violence, but he says that the problem is caused by population growth. A statement from the president's office notes that the population of Nigeria was 63 million in 1960 when it achieved independence, and adds:

    "Today, the population is estimated at close to 200 million, while the land size has not changed and will not change. Urban sprawl and development have simply reduced land area both for peasant farming and cattle grazing.

    It is therefore both unfair and unkind for anyone to keep insinuating that the president is condoning the spate of killings in Benue and other neighboring states.

    President Buhari has publicly condemned the violence at every turn. He is prepared to permit every possible step that can lead to the stoppage of the killings."

    However, Buhari himself is a Hausa-speaking Fulani from northern Nigeria. Although he's repeatedly condemned the deadly clashes as "wicked and callous," many people in other tribes and political parties suspect him of supporting the attacks for political gain.

    Nonetheless, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Buhari is correct. Conflicts between herders and farmers are common in many countries, and I've described them in Central African Republic, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, and even America in the 1800s. As population grows, the farmers accuse the herders of letting the cattle eat their crops, while the herders accuse the farmers of planting on land that's meant for grazing. If the farmers put up fences, then the herders knock them down. This Day Live (Nigeria) and AFP

    Nigeria searches for solutions to problem of herders vs farmers

    In order to stop the violence, the governor of Benue State has passed an "Anti-Grazing Law" that came into effect in November, as I reported at the time in the growing violence between herders and farmers in Nigeria. The law prohibits open grazing of cattle, and requires herders to maintain their herds of cattle on ranches. As I wrote at the time, the new law is somewhat laughable, as there's no way that it will stop Fulani herder attacks on farmers. And it certainly hasn't stopped the violence.

    The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), which is the lobbying group representing Fulani herders, are blaming the Anti-Grazing Law for increasing violence, since the law has encouraged the growth of vigilante farmer groups attacking herders and they cattle.

    Another proposed solution is being opposed by MACBAN: The implementation of "cattle colonies" across the country. The herders will be given large blocks of land, having adequate water and pasture for grazing of cattle. A standard cattle colony will also have shopping and supply centers for dairy products, with abattoirs and meat warehouses for processing finished products.

    Herders would be restricted to the "cattle colonies," so it's not surprising that MACBAN opposed them. Furthermore, no matter wonderful promises the politicians make about the colonies, everyone can be sure that herders will be given whatever block of land nobody wants, and herders would become completely marginalized.

    The herder association are expressing an entirely different solution -- adopt the European system of providing subsidies of a few euros a day for each dairy cow that a farmer or rancher owns and maintains.

    These subsidies are part of the European Union's controversial €58 billion per year Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Since the UK pays a significant amount of that money, CAP may not survive Brexit intact. Leadership (Nigeria) and The Nation (Nigeria) and Politico (EU)

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    10-Jan-18 World View -- Venezuela threatens to close borders with Colombia and Dutch territories

    Venezuela threatens to end trade with Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Venezuela's Socialism drives hundreds of thousands into Colombia


    Larry Centeno, 44, once had his own construction company in Venezuela. Now he makes a living selling coffee on the streets of Colombia’s capital.  (Miami Herald)
    Larry Centeno, 44, once had his own construction company in Venezuela. Now he makes a living selling coffee on the streets of Colombia’s capital. (Miami Herald)

    Venezuela's Socialism continues to destroy the economy. More and more, people are losing weight because of food shortages, and children are dying in hospitals because basic medicines aren't available.

    The bolivar currency, in which the "sainted" former president Hugo Chávez took such pride and pleasure, is today worth little more than toilet paper, with the country's inflation rate around 600%, expected to rise to 2,300% in 2018, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

    Venezuela has more oil than any other nation in the world, but because of successful implementation of pure Socialism by Chávez and by the current dictator, Nicolás Maduro, the oil company PDVSA has been nationalized and turned over to the dictator's Socialist cronies, who are so corrupt and incompetent they couldn't operate a bicycle, let alone an oil company.

    The result is that oil production keeps falling. It's absolutely incredible how much destruction Socialism is doing to Venezuela's economy. In December, Venezuela produced 1.7 million barrels of oil per day, down 27% since 2014, and the lowest level of production in 28 years. Even though global oil prices have been rising in the last few weeks, it's done little good for Venezuela because oil production keeps collapsing.

    Since oil is pretty much Venezuela's only export that it can use to earn foreign currency (dollars), Venezuela can no longer import food or medicines, which is why people are starving to death and babies are dying in hospitals.

    Maduro is hoping that Russia or China will bail him out, the way that they used to bail out Cuba's Socialism. However, those countries really don't care about Venezuela and so it will be bailed out only to the extent that it annoys the United States.

    With the bolivar currency more worthless than toilet paper, and with food and medicines almost impossible to buy, hundreds of thousands of people from Venezuela have been crossing the border into Colombia, some just to get food to take back home, some to earn money to take back home to family.

    There's an ironic twist. When it was available, food was heavily subsidized in Venezuela. So people living near the border would buy subsidized food in Venezuela and sell it in Colombia at much higher prices.

    This is no longer possible. Instead, citizens now take anything they can from Venezuela and take it across the border to sell it and earn Colombian pesos, and then use those pesos to purchase food, medicines, and other basic products needed to survive. They can then sell those products on the black market in Venezuela at a much higher price. Rice, for instance, can be bought in Colombia for the equivalent of about 1,300 bolivars and sold in Venezuela for around 1,800 bolivars.

    With hundreds of thousands of refugees possibly turning into millions, Colombia's own economy may become destabilized. According to Jozef Merkx, head of the U.N. High Commission on Refugees in Colombia, the Colombian government will have the primary responsibility of providing documentation, health services, education, and in some cases shelter to the migrant influx. This is a problem facing many countries around the world where huge numbers of migrants and refugees are fleeing violence and starvation. Vice News and Reuters and CNN and Reuters (8-June-2016)

    Venezuela threatens to end trade with Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire

    Venezuela is threatening to end all trade with three Caribbean islands governed by the Netherlands -- Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire. And the reason is the same as for Colombia.

    Venezuelans are smuggling goods into those three islands, just as they are into Colombia.

    Venezuela's Socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro is seeking to blame anyone but himself for the disaster he's caused. Often he blames a criminal conspiracy by the United States.

    But now he's blaming "the mafias" for his disaster. In December he said,

    "In Aruba and Curaçao, the mafias are tearing us apart, and I have even thought about closing all means of communication, and all commercial interaction, of all kinds: Both air and sea with Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire at any time.

    I’ve thought about it seriously, about the mafias that take everything — the oil, rubber, shampoo, meals, everything — and for Cúcuta ... And Maicao ... Oh, we have a surprise for you."

    On Friday of last week, Maduro began to implement his "surprise."

    He suspended all air and sea traffic with Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. The suspension was supposed to last only 72 hours, but on Monday he not only extended the suspension indefinitely, but also prohibited all trade between the islands and Venezuela.

    Venezuela's vice president Tareck El Aissami announced the extension by echoing Maduro's words and saying that they will combat "the mafias that steal our assets and smuggle with impunity strategic materials, which severely affect the services and quality of life."

    This could be financially disastrous for the three islands, because they have a big economic dependency on Venezuela. Fresh fruit and vegetables arrive at the islands in small boats from Venezuela.

    Most important, Venezuela's oil company PDVSA leases refineries in Curaçao and Aruba to process crude into gasoline, naphtha, diesel, jet fuel, asphalt, base oils and lubricants, and to blend its diluted extra-heavy crude with light crude for export, much of it sent to PDVSA's US-based subsidiary, CITGO. On Bonaire, PDVSA owns a large oil terminal.

    So far, Maduro's blockade of the three Caribbean islands has not affected their relationship with PDVSA. However, in view of the concern that this will be Maduro's next step, the government of the Netherlands has been asked contact Venezuela's government and "to seek clarity from Venezuela" with regard to commercial relations. PanamPost and Telesur and Hellenic Shipping News and Jamaica Observer and Miami Herald

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Jan-18 World View -- Venezuela threatens to close borders with Colombia and Dutch territories thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    9-Jan-18 World View -- Number of asylum seekers, led by Albanians, hits record high in France

    The 'Jungle' is closed in Calais France, but the migrants aren't gone

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Number of asylum seekers, led by Albanians, hits record high in France


    Migrants set up temporary shelter tents near the Canal Saint-Martin, Jaures and Stalingrad metro stations in northern Paris (Yeni Safak)
    Migrants set up temporary shelter tents near the Canal Saint-Martin, Jaures and Stalingrad metro stations in northern Paris (Yeni Safak)

    France registered over 100,000 migrant asylum requests in 2017, the highest number in over four decades, up 17% from the previous year, though officials say they're not overwhelmed and can cope with the situation. This compares to a 16% rise in 2016.

    Ironically, the greatest number of migrants come from within Europe itself. Albania tops the list of countries of origin with 7,630 requests, up 66% from the previous year. Afghanistan is second with 5,987 requests, followed by Haiti with 4,934, Sudan with 4,486, and Guinea with 3,780 asylum requests.

    Germany receives a greater number of asylum requests, and expects to receive 200,000 requests in 2018. Reuters and France 24 and YeniSafak (Turkey) and Exit (Albania)

    France threatens to restore Schengen visa regime with Albania

    Although Albania is a European country, it is not part of the European Europe, and it is not in the Schengen Zone where people can move from country to country without a visa. Nonetheless, a number of European countries, including France, permit entry without a visa by someone with an Albanian passport, and Albania is in negotiations with to become a member of the EU.

    However, because the volume of asylum seekers coming from Albania is so large, France is threatening to advocate a return to the Schengen visa regime for Albania, and to veto any further negotiations over joining the EU. Germany and the Netherlands have made similar threats.

    Albania has long been the poorest country in Europe, and in 2016 had a GDP per capita of about $4,100, according to the World Bank. This is the reason that so many young people in Albania wish to migrate to other European countries, and in fact figures from the IMF indicate that 2/3 of young people in Albania intend to leave Albania for another country, if they can.

    The problem for these young people is that although currently they can travel to other European countries without a visa, they can only remain for a limited time, and they do not qualify for asylum. Since the European Union has declared that Albania is a "safe country of origin," all migrants from Albania are considered to be "economic migrants," who do not qualify for asylum.

    So among the Albanians who made asylum requests in 2016, on 6.5% of the requests were approved. By comparison, the approval rate was 95% for Syrians, 85% for Afghans, and 59% for people from Sudan. Exit (Albania) and Balkan Insight and Exit (Albania) and International Monetary Fund (PDF)

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    The 'Jungle' is closed in Calais France, but the migrants aren't gone

    The "Jungle" was the migrant camp in Calais, France, where migrants would come in the hope of reaching Britain. France closed the Jungle camp in October 2016, and have done everything possible to prevent the creation of a new migrant camp.

    Nonetheless, there are still about 500 migrants and asylum seekers living on the streets and in wooded areas in and around Calais, according to Human Rights Watch, and about 100 are unaccompanied children. Most of them are from Eritrea, Ethiopia and Afghanistan.

    According to HRW, French riot police have been confiscating or destroying asylum seekers’ and other migrants’ personal belongings, such as sleeping bags, blankets, clothing, and sometimes phones, medication, and documents.

    According to HRW: "The ongoing police violence and destruction and confiscation of people’s belongings is inhumane and unconscionable. The French authorities should immediately put an end to these abuses and ensure that migrants are treated with the dignity to which every human being is entitled." Human Rights Watch

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Jan-18 World View -- Number of asylum seekers, led by Albanians, hits record high in France thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    8-Jan-18 World View -- Rohingya ARSA attack on Burma (Myanmar) police complicates fantasy repatriation plans

    Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh continues to grow

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Rohingya ARSA attack on Burma (Myanmar) police complicates fantasy repatriation plans


    Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh (Rohingya Vision TV)
    Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh (Rohingya Vision TV)

    The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) has taken credit for a terrorist attack on Burmese security forces on Friday in northern Rakhine State in Myanmar. A military vehicle was attacked with an IED (improvised explosive device), injuring five soldiers.

    On Sunday, a statement tweeted by ARSA took credit for the attack:

    "ARSA has ... no other option but to combat ‘Burmese state-sponsored terrorism’ against the Rohingya population for the purpose of defending, salvaging and protecting the Rohingya community.

    Rohingya people must be consulted in all decision-making that affects their humanitarian needs and political future."

    Since 2011, Burma's security forces have been committing mass atrocities on mostly Muslim ethnic Rohingyas living in Rakhine State, what the United Nations says is "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing," and which some Western governments are calling genocide. The atrocities include gang rape, violent torture, execution-style killings and the razing of entire villages, in a scorched earth campaign. Many were forced to flee into neighboring Bangladesh. Today, there are about 650,000 Rohingyas living in refugee camps in Bangladesh.

    Western governments have been demanding that Burma stop the ethnic cleansing and genocide, and agree to a plan to repatriate the 650,000 Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh. However, this entire repatriation plan was always a fantasy, for several reasons:

    So the repatriation plan is a fantasy that was and is never going to happen, but now Myanmar's government can use the ARSA attacks as one more reason to refuse to agree to the plan. AFP and Guardian (London)

    Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh continues to grow

    Since 2011, there have been constant genocidal attacks on Muslims in Burma, especially Rohingya Muslims by Burmese Buddhists. They have been led by Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu and his "969 movement," where 969 is a historic Buddhist sign, referring to the nine qualities of Buddha, the six qualities of Buddha's teaching, and nine qualities of the Buddhist community. "969" is supposedly a sign of peace and happiness, but Wirathu and the Burmese have turned "969" into a sign of genocide and ethnic cleansing.

    As we reported last month, a UN investigator on the Rohingya crisis was scheduled to travel to Burma right about now, but Burmese officials announced they were blocking any further UN investigations. Yanghee Lee, the lead UN investigator, responded to the ban by saying, "there must be something terribly awful happening in Rakhine."

    ARSA was formed in the last year in reaction to the years of ethnic cleansing by Buddhists. The situation in Burma became a lot more alarming after ARSA attacked some Burma border posts on August 24. Burma's army responded with a massive increase in genocide and ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas, forcing hundreds of thousands more to flee into Bangladesh. An analogy in the US would be that after Black Lives Matter killed a policeman, if the US army started entering black neighborhoods and killing, torturing and raping all the black civilian residents, including women and children, forcing them to flee into Mexico.

    The refugee crisis in Bangladesh continues to grow. The Burmese army is still committing ethnic cleansing, and there are still Rohingyas fleeing into Bangladesh to escape the violence. According to an analysis by Save the Children, more than 48,000 Rohingya babies will be born in refugee camps this year, where disease and starvation are prevalent.

    The refugee camps may become completely unlivable in May, when the rainy season begins in May. When the monsoon rains arrive, there is a strong likelihood of landslides, causing shelters, latrines and people to come crashing down on top of one another.

    An analysis by Indian journalist Manash Ghosh claims that the entire Rohingya crisis is the result of well-planned strategy by four nations -- Myanmar, China, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Each of these countries has a different reason to be part of this planned strategy:

    I always have to chuckle at these bizarre conspiracy theories, because they're always wrong, and because they always overlook the obvious fact that politicians are far too stupid to pull off anything so complex. Still, it's an interesting analysis because it describes some motives that are not otherwise obvious.

    Burma's ethnic cleansing and genocide of Rohingyas did not come about from any "well-planned strategy" by a bunch of politicians. It came from the people of Burma, and the fact that Burma is entering a generational Crisis era.

    It's the masses of Buddhist Burman people who are bringing about the genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Rohingyas, as I described in detail last year in "9-Sep-17 World View -- Burma's (Myanmar's) ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas witnessed by BBC reporter", as acts of revenge for what happened in World War II. At that time, the Buddhists were on the side of the Imperial Japanese, fighting the British colonists and the Rohingyas. There were massive atrocities committed on all sides, and those atrocities by the Buddhist Burmans, by the Muslim Rohingyas, and by the Christian British, are now being paid back. As that article describes, the murderous Buddhist hatred for the Rohingyas is deep and entrenched, and cannot be caused or prevented by any politicians.

    Once the war ended, the Buddhist and Rohingya survivors of World War II did everything possible to make sure that no such atrocities would be committed again. There were compromises -- the Rohingyas could settle and live peacefully in Rakhine State but they wouldn't be given citizenship -- and it was hoped that would be enough to keep the peace. And it did, as long as the WW II survivors were still alive. But now they're gone, and the generations born after WW II are ready to commit the same atrocities all over again. The Buddhists have been committing atrocities against the Rohingyas at least since 2011. Now ARSA is beginning to take hold, and we can expect to see more Rohingya atrocities targeting the Buddhists. Before it's over, all the horrors of World War II will repeated in one form or another. History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes. Daily Star (Bangladesh) and Daily Star and The Pioneer (India)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Jan-18 World View -- Rohingya ARSA attack on Burma (Myanmar) police complicates fantasy repatriation plans thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    7-Jan-18 World View -- Syria's Bashar al-Assad targets civilians and hospitals in never-ending war of extermination

    Russia's 'de-escalation zones' turn into total farce

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Syria's Bashar al-Assad targets civilians and hospitals in never-ending war of extermination


    From November: Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad hug and say that the Syria war is at an end (AP)
    From November: Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad hug and say that the Syria war is at an end (AP)

    I've written many times and given detailed examples of what happens to countries following a generational crisis civil war. Such a war is generally between two tribes or ethnic groups who have been neighbors for decades, who intermarried, and whose children played together, but then suddenly they turn on each other and commit atrocities, rapes, murders, torture, mutilations and massacres on their former neighbors, including women and children.

    When such a war ends, someone, usually from the winning tribe, becomes leader, and almost always this is someone who had directed or approved these atrocities, rapes and massacres, and in his mind considers them to have been completely justified. It should not be considered the least bit surprising that such a person turns into sociopathic monster, just like individuals like John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and David Berkowitz.

    The difference, of course, is that these individuals can carry out further atrocities, rapes and mutilations only through their own resources, while country leaders can turn the entire government into a genocidal bulldozer. These include Paul Biya in Cameroon, Pierre Nkurunziza in Burundi, Paul Kagame in Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Joseph Kabila in DRC, or, outside of Africa, Bashar al-Assad in Syria and Hun Sen in Cambodia. In the last century, they include Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong.

    So Syria's Shia/Alawite president Bashar al-Assad is continuing with full force his war of extermination against his historically hated enemies, the Syrian Sunnis. He's made it clear repeatedly that he considers them all to be the equivalent of cockroaches, and are to be exterminated, just like cockroaches. Furthermore, he's receiving the full support of Russia's Christian president Vladimir Putin, Iran's Shia so-called cleric Seyed Ali Khamenei, and Lebanon's own psychopathic Shia monster, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. These people all claim to have some level of piety, but if their religions mean anything, then they'll all burn in hell for their monstrous sins.

    As I've written many times in the past, Bashar al-Assad is the worst genocidal monster so far this century. The Syrian war began in 2011 when al-Assad ordered his army and air force to attack peacefully protesting civilians, including women and children. Things really worsened in August 2011, when al-Assad launched a massive military assault on a large, peaceful Palestinian refugee camp in Latakia, filled with tens of thousands of women and children Palestinians. He dropped barrel bombs laden with metal, chlorine, ammonia, phosphorous and chemical weapons onto innocent Sunni women and children, he targeted bombs on schools and hospitals, and he used Sarin gas to kill large groups of people.

    It's almost unbelievable how much destruction al-Assad has caused. Thanks to al-Assad, Putin and Khamenei, about 50,000 jihadist fighters from 86 countries came to Syria, first to join the rebels fighting al-Assad, then to join the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra, and the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). Al-Assad 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.

    18 months ago, Bashar al-Assad, Putin, Khamenei and Nasrallah were targeting East Aleppo in Syria, with 275,000 people, including huge numbers of women and children. By the time it was over, there were hundreds of thousands of deaths, and the city was almost completely destroyed.

    So now al-Assad, Putin, Khamenei and Nasrallah are doing the same thing to Eastern Ghouta, with 400,000 people, including huge numbers of women and children. Ghouta became world famous in 2013 because it was the place where al-Assad used the WMD Sarin gas on ordinary civilians.

    Last week, at least 25 civilians were killed by regime and Russian airstrikes, followed by 17 on Saturday.

    Aid agencies have told the BBC that the airstrikes are particularly targeting hospitals. At least 10 hospitals have been targeted by airstrikes in the last two weeks. These include barrel bombs targeting a maternity hospital, presumably because al-Assad believes that the babies being born in these maternity hospitals are just baby cockroaches, and they should be exterminated immediately.

    So if it took al-Assad about six months to totally destroy East Aleppo, with 275,000 people, then we can expect him to take about ten months to similarly destroy Eastern Ghouta, with 400,000 people. Al-Assad has a lot more women and children to kill, and a lot more maternity hospitals to bomb, so it will take a while. BBC and AFP and Reuters

    Russia's 'de-escalation zones' turn into total farce

    Al-Assad has indicated that he will next turn his attention to Idlib and the neighboring parts of northwest Syria, now home to more than 2 million people, many of them refugees from East Aleppo and other regions attacked by al-Assad.

    According to Russians, Ghouta and Idlib were all supposed to be "de-escalation zones," by agreement of Russia, Iran and Turkey in meetings in Astana, Kazakhstan. I always said that those meetings and agreements were a complete farce for the obvious reason that they involved Russia, Iran and Turkey, but not the actual people fighting on the ground, al-Assad's army and Sunni opposition fighters. And we're seeing that farce now. The de-escalation agreements are completely meaningless, since al-Assad never had any intention of following them. That would have been like the U.S. and Mexico trying to end World War II in Europe by signing a de-escalation agreement with each other in Acapulco. It's just a complete farce.

    Readers may recall that in November, Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin hugged each other, and said the war was over. Putin said:

    "I asked the Syrian president to stop by. I would like to introduce you to people [al-Assad] who played a key role in saving Syria.

    Regarding our joint operation to fight terrorists in Syria, this military operation is indeed coming to an end. I'm pleased to see your willingness to work with everyone who wants peace and settlement."

    This can only be described as more high farce.

    So the question is this: How long is this unbelievable carnage going to go on? Bashar al-Assad has been killing innocent women and children for seven years, and has created millions of refugees. Is he going to be allowed to continue killing innocent women and children for another seven years? How long will it be before anyone says, Enough! Reuters and Al Jazeera and BBC (13-Dec-2017)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Jan-18 World View -- Syria's Bashar al-Assad targets civilians and hospitals in never-ending war of extermination thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    6-Jan-18 World View -- Iranian advisors are 'on the ground' with Houthis in Yemen, supplying weapons and intelligence

    Forces realign in the Yemen war following the death of Ali Abdullah Saleh

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Iranian advisors are 'on the ground' with Houthis in Yemen, supplying weapons and intelligence


    Map of Yemen showing areas controlled by Houthis, Saudi-led coalition, and al-Qaeda (Economist)
    Map of Yemen showing areas controlled by Houthis, Saudi-led coalition, and al-Qaeda (Economist)

    On Friday, Iran-backed Shia Houthis launched a ballistic missile from Yemen into Saudi Arabia's southwestern province of Najran. The Saudi military confirmed the launch, but said that it did no damage, as it was intercepted by Saudi air defenses of Najran.

    The Houthis have launched several missile attacks on Saudi Arabia recently, and the Iranians have been accused of supplying the Houthis with these missiles and other weapons.

    However, the death of Ali Abdullah Saleh last month provides unique evidence that not only is Iran supplying weapons to the Houthis, it's also providing intelligence and possibly directing all the actions of the entire Houthi force.

    Saleh's Sunni forces had been working side-by-side for years with the Houthis in opposition to the Saudi-led coalition. This alliance was always a marriage of convenience of two groups that disliked each other, and it's not surprising when the alliance finally fell apart on December 4 of last year. Two days later, the Houthis ambushed Saleh and killed him and his entire family.

    The Houthis gained a huge cache of weapons, and they killed many of Saleh's former aides and fighters, but not all of them, and some of them fled to Aden.

    BBC reporter Nawal Al-Maghafi, speaking on the BBC World Service on Friday, said she had tracked down Saleh's closest aide, now in Aden. The aide said:

    "I was with him, and he was defending his home, with his aides and nephews by his side. Three or four tanks surrounded his house. They began firing."

    Al-Maghafi asked the aide about the presence of Iranians, and he said:

    "There are Iranians by their side, and they tell them exactly what to do. I saw them with my own eyes. They give them weapons, but it's the information they give that is most important. I met the Iranian advisers when I was with Saleh. They were always beside the Houthi leaders."

    Al-Maghafi said that while she was in Sanaa, she was able to speak with "other well-placed sources [who] all confirmed the existence of the Iranian advisers."

    Iran's substantial support for the Houthis has been long suspected, but of course always denied by the Iranians. Al-Maghafi's reporting provides the first on-the-ground proof of the Iranian support. AFP and Al Jazeera and Sky News

    Forces realign in the Yemen war following the death of Ali Abdullah Saleh

    The Yemen war began for real in March 2015, when the Iran-backed Houthis took control of the capital city Sanaa, forcing the Sunni government to flee to the port of Aden in the south. Since then, at least 10,000 civilians have been killed, mostly in airstrikes in the Saudi-led coalition against the Houthis. There have been 40,000 injuries.

    According to UN humanitarian official Mark Lowcock:

    "The situation in Yemen - today, right now, to the population of the country - looks like the apocalypse.

    The cholera outbreak is probably the worst the world has ever seen with a million suspected cases up to the end of 2017.

    [A] terrible new epidemic of diphtheria (a bacterial disease which should be completely preventable by immunization) has already affected up to 500 people with dozens and dozens of deaths in the past few weeks. That is going to spread like wildfire.

    Unless the situation changes, we're going to have the world's worst humanitarian disaster for 50 years."

    The war worsened substantially when the Houthis launched another ballistic missile on November 4. It reached the King Khalid International Airport near Riyadh, about 800 km from the Yemen border, the farthest any Houthi missile had traveled.

    In retaliation, Saudi Arabia broadened a land, air and sea blockade, preventing even food and medicines from entering Yemen. This was threatening massive starvation and causing a deepening and increasing humanitarian disaster that was too much for Ali Abdullah Saleh, who at that time was still in his marriage of convenience with the Houthis. Saleh split with the Houthis, and offered to mediate between the Houthis and the Saudis.

    On December 4, the Houthis ambushed Saleh and his family, killing them all.

    Since that time, there's been a realignment of forces. Some of Saleh's fighters have stayed with the Houthis, but most of them have headed south to Yemen, joining the official Yemen army still led by former president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.

    According to some reports, the Houthis have been losing ground to Yemen army, backed by Saudi coalition airstrikes, but things are extremely fluid.

    We can now be certain that the Yemen war is a full-fledged proxy war between Saudi Arabia, which is providing airstrikes and weapons to Yemen's army, versus Iran, which is providing weapons, intelligence and direction to the Houthis. It seems certain that the Yemen war is not nearly over. Al-Ahram (Cairo) and Al-Jazeera and Arab News and The National (UAE)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Jan-18 World View -- Iranian advisors are 'on the ground' with Houthis in Yemen, supplying weapons and intelligence thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    5-Jan-18 World View -- North Korea reveals major change in strategic direction

    The stark choice facing the Trump administration

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    North Korea reveals major change in strategic direction


    I believe that this is an artist's rendering of what North-South negotiations in Panmunjom will look like.  The talks are scheduled for next week. (Yonhap)
    I believe that this is an artist's rendering of what North-South negotiations in Panmunjom will look like. The talks are scheduled for next week. (Yonhap)

    A few days ago, I quoted a couple of sentences from the New Year speech of North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un. It now appears that the speech fits into a much larger North Korean strategy, so I'm quoting a lengthier excerpt, translated directly from the original Korean by KGS Nightwatch:

    "A significant achievement accomplished last year by our party, state, and people is the fact that we achieved the great historic cause of the perfection of the state nuclear forces.

    A year ago, precisely at this place, I, representing the party and the government, made public that the preparatory work for a test launch of an intercontinental ballistic rocket was being carried out in the finishing stage, and many rounds of test launches were conducted in a safe and transparent manner over the past year for its implementation, and its definite success was proved to the whole world.

    Last year, we conducted a super-powerful thermonuclear weapon test as well, in addition to all kinds of nuclear delivery means, and thereby successfully and victoriously achieved our general aim and strategic goal, and our Republic, at long last, possessed a powerful and reliable war deterrent that no force and nothing can reverse.

    Our state nuclear force can smash and respond to any nuclear threat by the United States, and it serves as a powerful deterrent that restrains the United States from the adventurous game of playing with fire.

    The United States can never provoke a war against me and our state.

    The United States should clearly know that the fact that the entire US mainland is in our nuclear striking range, and that a nuclear button is always on my office desk, are never a threat but reality. ...

    The nuclear weapons research and rocket industry sectors must mass produce nuclear warheads and ballistic rockets, whose might and reliability are already firmly guaranteed, and put spurs to the work of deploying them for action.

    It is also necessary to always maintain an immediate nuclear counterattack operational posture to cope with the enemies' nuclear war maneuvers. ...

    Speaking of the winter Olympic games to be held soon in South Korea, they are a good opportunity to demonstrate the nation's status and we sincerely hope that the games will be held successfully. From this aspect, we are willing to take necessary measures, including sending a delegation, and the North and South authorities can urgently get together for this. It is natural for the people who share the same blood to be happy together and help with fellow countrymen's happy events."

    The speech was considerably harsher and more belligerent than has been reported in the mainstream media, which have mostly focused on the "nuclear button" button on his desk.

    Donald Trump tweeted the following in response:

    "North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!"

    The mainstream media responses to this appear to have been written by teenage idiots. Some question his mental state, and as I'm typing typing this, I'm watching CNN discuss this topic: "Psychiatrist to lawmakers: Trump is unraveling." As one analyst on Fox pointed out, the loony left accused Goldwater, Reagan and both Bushes of being mentally unstable, so the latest rounds of loony left comments are no surprise.

    There's no question in my mind that Trump's tweet had a strategic purpose. One possibility -- and this is the sort of thing I've suspected for a while -- is that Trump is trying to goad Kim into doing something stupid, to justify an American attack to take out North Korea's missile and nuclear weapon capability. A more prosaic possibility is that he's trying to force Kim into a box to reduce his negotiating leverage, and that apparently has happened with regard to South Korea.

    Trump takes the credit for planned talks between North and South Korea:

    "With all of the failed “experts” weighing in, does anybody really believe that talks and dialogue would be going on between North and South Korea right now if I wasn’t firm, strong and willing to commit our total “might” against the North. Fools, but talks are a good thing!"

    As I'm typing, CNN is now broadcasting an interview with an analyst, Ian Bremmer, who is critical of Trump but describes a likely strategic purpose of Trump's tweets: He is crediting Trump with causing China to take a harsher position against North Korea, and possibly causing North Korea to talk to South Korea, while adding that the tweets might backfire and result in a miscalculation that causes a war. Reuters and KGS Nightwatch and Chosun Ilbo (Seoul)

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    North Korea's 'clarification' of the New Year speech

    Following Kim's New Year's speech, a North Korean official announced that the hotline between North and South Korea has been reactivated for the first time since February 2016. There were apparently negotiations conducted over the hotline, there may have been a decision that a North Korean delegation would attend the South Korea Olympics in February, and North Korea may have been informed that South Korea and Donald Trump had acceded to the North's demand to postpone the joint military drills between South Korea and the US until after the Olympics. There are reports that talks between the North and the South will begin on January 9 in Panmunjom.

    On Wednesday, North Korean media issued a "clarification" of Kim's New Year speech beginning:

    "Comrade Kim Jong Un, who is chairman of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea State Affairs Commission, after receiving a report -- that South Korea's Ch'o'ngwadae announced official support and welcome upon hearing his stand on participation in the PyeongChang Olympic Games and the issue of improvement of North-South relations that he announced in the 2018 New Year's address, and that at the first cabinet meeting on 2 January, president Moon Jae-in personally expressed an active intention of support and instructed relevant sectors to establish working-level measures -- gave a highly positive assessment of it and expressed his welcome for it."

    Here is the KGS Nightwatch analysis of the full clarification:

    "The so-called clarification is Kim’s follow-up to South Korea’s acceptance of his offer. It is unprecedented. Kim’s personal involvement indicates he sees this proposal as much more than an offer to participate in the Olympics.

    The agreement to work with South Korea is now as formal as an exchange of notes can get. Kim mentioned South Korean President Moon by name in respectful fashion. This is the first time he has done so.

    Kim personally ordered agencies and organizations to begin working-level measures that reciprocate the measures that President Moon ordered. The listing of the party and government organizations that received direct orders from Kim reinforce the judgment that this is a highest priority, serious initiative and stratagem.

    We have mentioned in prior editions of NightWatch that Kim’s highest objective in the nuclear and ballistic missile programs has been to hold one of more US cities hostage to a nuclear missile threat for the purpose of keeping the US out of a future Korean war. The logic of that position also applies to North-South in general, especially reunification.

    For Kim Jong Un, the proposal to participate in the Olympics is not just a first step towards improving North-South relations. It also is his first initiative in the new strategic environment in which, in his view, South Korea cannot necessarily rely on the US for automatic protection, owing to the threat to US cities.

    This is not the same old wedge-driving tactic. In our judgment it is the start of the second phase of Kim’s reunification strategy. The first phase was to complete the strategic nuclear force so that it deters the US. The second phase is to manipulate the Korean political climate under that new strategic condition.

    A key question for Kim and his acolytes is whether South Korea will react differently to North Korean overtures, now that the US is under a North Korean nuclear threat. The Olympics proposal tests whether North Korean nuclear blackmail makes South Korea more cooperative. If it is successful, Kim may be expected to cite it as an example of what can be accomplished by the Koreans working together without US interference.

    Kim’s authorization of a clarification suggests that he and his men are interpreting President Moon’s enthusiastic response to Kim’s proposal as an initial success in phase two. For example, the US Ambassador to the UN said the US would not take the North’s proposal seriously absent a move on denuclearization. That statement is out of step with the South Korean response to Kim’s proposal.

    Kim’s strategic weapons are integral to his reunification strategy. Moon thus far is validating Kim’s estimate of the prospects for improved relations with South Korea without the US under North Korean leadership."

    Yonhap News (Seoul) and KGS Nightwatch and CNN and Chosun Ilbo (Seoul)

    The stark choice facing the Trump administration

    Kim's New Year speech contains some extremely harsh messages that are rarely mentioned in the mainstream media:

    According to Kim, North Korea now has "a super-powerful thermonuclear weapon" such that "the entire US mainland is in our nuclear striking range," so that "The United States can never provoke a war against me and our state." North Korea will "mass produce nuclear warheads and ballistic rockets," in order to create an arsenal of such weapons.

    We know that North Korea will not hesitate to sell its missile and nuclear technology. In 2007, Israel bombed and destroyed a nuclear reactor in Syria that had been built by the North Koreans. There's little doubt that North Korea would once again sell its technology to Syria, Iran, and another other rogue nation.

    So that's the disastrous reality that the Trump administration is facing. Those idiots who are calling Trump "mentally unstable" and such are people who are endorsing the decades of policies that have inevitably led to this disastrous reality.

    Trump has indicated that he will not permit the above reality to occur. I've quoted other officials, such as Lindsey Graham, who say that a war between the US and North Korea is inevitable. In fact, I've quoted high level Chinese officials quoted in Chinese media saying that a war before March is likely.

    As regular readers are aware, I've frequently described how Steve Bannon, Trump's former chief adviser. Bannon is an expert on world history and military history and, through our association, is also an expert on Generational Dynamics theory and analysis. Trump's foreign policy in the last year has not only been completely strategic and rational, it has been entirely consistent with the Generational Dynamics analyses of what's going on in the world, in particular the certainty that a war with North Korea cannot be avoided.

    As everyone knows, during the last two days there have been explosions and fireworks in the media over name-calling between Trump and Bannon. A split between Trump and Bannon does not mean that Trump no longer believes that a war with North Korea is inevitable.

    Kim Jong-un is aware of all this as well, and a large part of Kim's strategy must be to derail Trump's plans, whatever they are. This is a crucial point that the KGS Nightwatch analysis misses. There is absolutely no way that Kim is going to get away with using nuclear blackmail to allow him to create a nuclear missile arsenal aimed at the US. For that matter, Japan, South Korea, and even China will not allow that kind of blackmail, since they know that Kim would just continue blackmailing them on other issues, and that Kim could turn those missiles on them, and also sell the nuclear and missile technology to other Asian states.

    The South Korean Olympic games are scheduled to run from February 9 to February 25. Whether the child dictator's new strategy will work should become evident soon after that. National Interest and Chosun Ilbo (Seoul)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Jan-18 World View -- North Korea reveals major change in strategic direction thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    4-Jan-18 World View -- Mongolia turns to India, as nationalism and xenophobia towards China grow

    India to help construct Mongolia's first oil refinery

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Mongolia elects new president after highly nationalistic anti-China campaign


    Mongolia's Oyu Tolgoi open-pit copper mine in South Gobi desert
    Mongolia's Oyu Tolgoi open-pit copper mine in South Gobi desert

    Khaltmaa Battulga, a fierce critic of China, won the June 26, 2017, election for president of Mongolia after a highly nationalistic campaign, taking advantage of the deep anti-China xenophobia across the population. At the beginning of the campaign his slogan was "Mongolia First," echoing Donald Trump's "America First" motto. He frequently mentioned "threats" from the east, meaning China.

    During the campaign, Battulga even referred to his opponent contemptuously as an erliiz, a person of mixed Mongolian and Chinese heritage, and used the slogan "Mongol Ylna" (a Mongol will triumph) to point out that only he had a Mongol origin. Battulga also advocated greater economic independence from China.

    There's a bit of a backstory to Battulga's campaign for president.

    It's worthwhile pausing here to say again that China has always claimed that it never interfered in other countries' internal affairs. So whenever someone complained that China was jailing, torturing and massacring peaceful protesters or Tibetans or Uighurs, Chinese officials would ignore the complaints, saying it was an internal matter.

    China's policy was phony, of course, and that's illustrated by what happened to Mongolia in 2016. In November, Mongolia invited the Dalai Lama to visit for a four-day trip. The Dalai Lama is revered by Buddhists in Mongolia, but also by Buddhists in China's Tibet, which is why Chinese officials hate him.

    So China punished Mongolia in December 2016 by closing part of the border, leaving hundreds of trucks carrying copper and coal backed up on the highway in sub-zero temperatures. Mongolia was forced to make an official apology.

    So now move forward in time to the presidential election campaign in 2017. One can well imagine that this contemptuous treatment by China infuriated the Mongolian electorate, stoking nationalism and xenophobia towards China.

    So it appears that China's policy of punishing Mongolia has backfired, and was an important part of the election of China's nemisis, Battulga. China would have been better off following its fictional policy of non-interference in other countries' internal affairs. East Asia Forum (11-Aug-2017) and The Diplomat (3-Oct-2017) and Foreign Policy (5-Dec-2016) and The Citizen (India)

    India to help construct Mongolia's first oil refinery

    Much to China's displeasure, India will be invading China's backyard by helping to build Mongolia's first oil refinery. India is also providing a $1 billion credit line to finance the projects. The 20-year loan will have an interest rate of 1.75 percent and principal payments will be waived during the first five years. This rate is considerably lower than China is reportedly charging countries for One Belt One Road infrastructure, with the objective of avoiding a disaster similar to the one Sri Lanka suffered when they had to give China control of Sri Lanka's seaport in lieu of repaying the loan to finance building the seaport.

    Mongolia is landlocked, lying between Russia and China, and those countries are its main trading partners. Presently, Mongolia exports crude oil to China, but imports refined petroleum products from Russia. Once the project is completed, The refinery will have a processing capacity of 1.5 million metric tons of oil per year and will annually produce 560,000 tons of gasoline and 670,000 tons of diesel fuel, as well as 107,000 tons of liquefied gas, giving an enormous boost to Mongolia's economy.

    The project will substantially reduce Mongolia's dependence on China for its energy needs, and bring Mongolia closer to India. Sputnik News (Moscow) and Swarajya Magazine (India) and Tribune (India)

    Brief generational history of Mongolia

    Mongolia is a land-locked country nestled between Russia and China. Thus, most of its history is dominated by its relationship with those two countries. In the 1200s, the Mongols under Genghis Khan conquered and dominated China, in a generational crisis war that climaxed in 1206, forming the Mongol Empire, the largest empire in history. In the next generational crisis war, Genghis Khan's grandson, Kublai Khan, conquered all of China, and created the Yuan Dynasty in 1271.

    The Yuan Dynasty ruled all of China until it was overthrown by the Chinese Ming Dynasty in 1368. By 1636, all of Mongolia was conquered and ruled by its successor, the Qing Dynasty.

    The Qing dynasty fell in 1911 in a generational Awakening era climax, part of which was a proxy war between China and Russia in Mongolia. Mongolia was under a Soviet-dominated Communist regime for almost 70 years, from 1921 to 1990. In 1932, a crisis war began in the form of a Buddhist rebellion against Russia's communist government.

    After declaring independence from China in 1924, the People's Republic of Mongolia remained embroiled in rivalries between Russia and China, and so maintained its communist identity, giving up its Buddhist identity for secularism. Thus, Javzandamba Hutagt, the 9th Bogd (spiritual leader of Mongolian Buddhists), born in Tibet in 1932, was barred from traveling to Mongolia until the end of Mongolia's communist era in 1990, as the Soviet Union collapsed. Since then, Mongolia has been increasingly turning from secularism back to its Buddhist roots, and the Dalai Lama has played an active part, much to the consternation of the Chinese. In particular, the Dalai Lama hopes to defeat China's attempt to name his successor, by declaring that the next Dalai Lama will be born on Mongolian soil.

    Mongolia is a resource-rich country, with big deposits of copper, coal, gold and oil. In 2011, Mongolia economy grew by an astronomical 17.5%, thanks to its huge reserves of copper, coal and gold, making the economy seem invincible. Instead of saving some of that money, Mongolia borrowed billions of dollars to invest in huge road and infrastructure projects. When the price of commodities collapsed, Mongolia's economy was in serious trouble.

    Mongolia is hugely dependent on China, which receives 90% of its exports. So Mongolia was hurt even further when China decided to punish Mongolia, after the visit by the Dalai Lama. Mongolian Embassy and University of Central Arkansas and CS Monitor

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Jan-18 World View -- Mongolia turns to India, as nationalism and xenophobia towards China grow thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    3-Jan-18 World View -- US-Pakistan relations hit major crossroad, as US cuts aid

    Ohhhhhhhh noooooo! Chocolate may be extinct by 2050!

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    In scathing criticism of Pakistan, Trump administration cuts $255 million in aid


    Pakistan army soldiers board an army vehicle in Peshawar on June 24, 2017 (AFP)
    Pakistan army soldiers board an army vehicle in Peshawar on June 24, 2017 (AFP)

    In a tweet posted on Monday, Donald Trump wrote:

    "The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!"

    On Tuesday, US Ambassador Nikki Haley at the United Nations anncouned that Washington would withhold $255 million in assistance to Pakistan. Haley said, "There are clear reasons for this. Pakistan has played a double game for years. They work with us at times, and they also harbor the terrorists that attack our troops in Afghanistan. That game is not acceptable to this administration. We expect far more cooperation from Pakistan in the fight against terrorism." Haley said that the US may take additional steps.

    Although Pakistani officials were infuriated by the tweet, a three-hour meeting of Pakistan's National Security Committee (NSC) decided that Pakistan must not give any "knee jerk" reaction to the tweet, and they reached the conclusion that despite "unwarranted allegations, Pakistan cannot act in haste."

    Pakistan's government did summon the US ambassador and register a protest, but did not take the next logical step of recalling its own ambassador from Washington.

    The NSC statement said that the committee was of the firm view that the real challenges in Afghanistan were political infighting, massive corruption, phenomenal growth of drug production and expansion of ungoverned spaces inside the country full of sanctuaries for multiple international terrorist organizations posing a serious and direct threat to Afghanistan, its neighbors and the entire region. Reuters and Express Tribune (Pakistan) and CNN

    US-Pakistan relations at a crossroad

    Tuesday's tweet by Trump could not have been a surprise, as it was the culmination of any number of announcements data back years.

    In a surprise visit to Kabul, Afghanistan, three weeks ago, vice president Mike Pence warned that it was putting Pakistan "on notice":

    "Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our efforts in Afghanistan. The days to shelter terrorists have gone. It has much to lose by continuing to harbor terrorists.

    For too long Pakistan has provided safe haven to the Taliban and many terrorist organizations, but those days are over. President Trump has put Pakistan on notice."

    Major Geneneral Asif Ghafoor, Pakistan's chief military spokesperson, responded angrily to Pence's claims, saying that there was no organized infrastructure of any terrorist outfit inside Pakistan. Ghafoor said that Pakistan will no long allow itself to be bullied by the United States, and blamed India for the problems in Afghanistan:

    "We have fought an imposed and imported war twice in Pakistan, and now we cannot do any more for anyone.

    The US needs to check India’s anti-Pakistan role not only from inside of Afghanistan but also through the enhanced and increased ceasefire violations along the LoC [Line of Control in Kashmir] and the Working Boundary so that Pakistan remains focused on peace not only in Pakistan but beyond."

    Ghafoor read out this statement in English, to make it clear that he was directing it at the United States.

    The US has been giving aid to Pakistan ever since 9/11/2001, when America came to depend on Pakistan's help in the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Annual aid to Pakistan peaked at $3.5 billion in 2011, but the relationship with Pakistan was strained by the 2011 raid on al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad that revealed that he had been hiding in plain sight in Pakistan.

    Pakistani officials claimed surprise that bin Laden was hiding out in Pakistan, but those denials have never been believed. Since then, both the Obama administration and Congress have been cutting aid to Pakistan. Funding fell below $1 billion in the 2016 budget request.

    So Trump's decision this week to very publicly cut aid to Pakistan is not something out of the blue, but has been coming for several years. China has previously said that it would make up for any aid reduction by the US.

    This bizarre relationship between the US and Pakistan can only be understood in the context of the war in Afghanistan. Trump claims that the US is going to defeat the Taliban and win the war in Afghanistan, but as I've written in detail in the past, that's completely impossible. There is no possible victory in Afghanistan.

    I wrote a lengthy analysis in August in "23-Aug-17 World View -- Trump promises victory in Afghanistan by redefining 'victory'". As I pointed out then, and numerous times in the past, Trump's foreign policy strategy is completely consistent with the Generational Dynamics analysis of the world. As long time readers are aware, I've worked on several projects in the past with Steve Bannon, Trump's former chief adviser. Bannon is an expert on world history and military history and, through our association, is also an expert on Generational Dynamics theory, whose principles he's passed on to Donald Trump. Mainstream journalists and analysts are mostly completely baffled by Trump's foreign policy decisions mainly because they have no clue about generational theory.

    So Trump knows that we're headed inevitably for war with North Korea, China and Pakistan, and his policies are guided by that reality. Trump's very public scathing criticism of Pakistan, and the decision to cut aid, make perfect sense if you realize that there's no point in paying money to a country that you're going to be fighting in a war.

    Pakistan's leaders are generally contemptuous of America's leaders, but now they've come to a crossroads and have to make a decision. On the one hand, they want American aid, and they want access to a number of American weapons systems. Trump's harsh message can be paraphrased as follows: Help us in Afghanistan a lot more than you have, and try to win back enough trust to get what you want from America, or else continue as before on the path eventually to cutting all ties with America.

    The fact that Pakistan's government did not yet recall its ambassador to Washington indicates that they realize that this is no easy decision. Geo TV (Pakistan, 22-Dec) and Express Tribune (Pakistan) and Foreign Policy (23-Aug)

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    Ohhhhhhhh noooooo! Chocolate may be extinct by 2050!


    According to NOAA, chocolate promotes science literacy among children by forming dinosaurs. (Daniele Civello)
    According to NOAA, chocolate promotes science literacy among children by forming dinosaurs. (Daniele Civello)

    According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), climate change will force the plants that produce chocolate into extinction by 2050. According to the NOAA, they'll die off because the rain forests are disappearing.

    Chocolate extinct! Thank goodness I won't be around to see that! CBS News and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Jan-18 World View -- US-Pakistan relations hit major crossroad, as US cuts aid thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    2-Jan-18 World View -- Escalating violence in Iran protests brings calls for Iran-Israel friendship

    Trump and Netanyahu express solidarity with Iranian protesters

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Iran protesters kill a police officer in escalating violence


    A university student protects herself from teargas while protesting at the University of Tehran. (AP)
    A university student protects herself from teargas while protesting at the University of Tehran. (AP)

    At least 15 people have been killed in widening street protests in Iran, and Iran state television reports that one of the dead and several of the wounded are police officers.

    During the 2009 demonstrations, retaliation by Iran's security forces and by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) was rapid and bloody. Iran's government is anxious avoid a repeat of the 2009 violence and bloodshed, and so the police have been restrained, and the IRGC has not gotten involved so far. However, the apparent ambush of a police officer may be a game-changer.

    The BBC's Iran correspondent Rana Rahimpour described how the protests got started (my transcription):

    "They are being careful about how forcefully they respond to these protests, because as [president Hassan Rouhani] has already acknowledged, people have a very legitimate reasons to be angry.

    Over the last few months, there were scattered, relatively small protests against many of the investment banks that have gone almost bankrupt, had been shut down by the government, and more than two million people have lost their life savings.

    And the first Death to Rouhani slogans that we had started from those smaller protests. So he knows that people have good reasons to be angry. We're talking about serious corruption among the political élite. We're talking about unemployment, which according to his interior minister, in some parts of the country that's up to 60%.

    These investment banks were apparently involved the same sorts of fraudulent deals as the US banks were during the subprime real estate crisis. As their bad debt accumulated, they went bankrupt and two million people lost their life savings. When the protests last week in Mashad in northeastern Iran, it was specifically in reaction to the corruption related to the bank bankruptcies, where a lot of ordinary people lost their life savings, while many in the political élite did well.

    According to Rahimpour, the trigger for the current explosion in protests was Rouhani's release of the upcoming annual budget, which fully revealed the level of corruption:

    "Three weeks ago, president Rouhani released the details of his upcoming budget for the Iranian new year in March, in which it became clear that he doesn't have any control over more than half of the budget, that are already going to many religious organizations. And that went viral. People got extremely angry. Cause we're talking about people that have lost their life savings, many factory workers haven't been paid for months, they can't pay their loans, they can't pay their mortgages.

    And suddenly they realize that OK, these religious clerical organizations are getting millions. So that's one reason for anger. They've raised the price of bread, recently. There's talk of raising the price of petrol. So all of this together, and possibly interference of regional rivals as President Rouhani said, together, the situation was ripe for unrest like we're witnessing right now."

    On top of this, it's becoming widely believed among the Iranian protesters that Iran got a huge financial bonanza from the Iran nuclear deal and the ending of sanctions, but that the money had benefited these same clerical institutions, but hadn't benefited the ordinary people at all. This is the basis of the call for an end to the clerical regime.

    In comparing to the 2009 protests, these protests are smaller, but they're far more widespread. The 2009 protests were concentrated mainly in Tehran, while the new protests are taking place in many smaller towns across Iran. Furthermore, unlike the 2009 protests, the current protests seem to be completely spontaneous and leaderless, and are spreading through social media.

    Without a protest leadership, the police are unable to target a single person or group of people. For that reason, the government is shutting down access to social media in the hope of suppressing the protests that way. Tehran Times and BBC and Al Jazeera and Reuters

    Trump and Netanyahu express solidarity with Iranian protesters

    As long-time readers are aware, I predicted over ten years ago, based on a Generational Dynamics analysis, that Iran would be a United States ally in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war.

    Ten years ago, the idea that Iran and the US would become allies seemed fantastical and insane. But during the Barack Obama administration, whatever one thinks of the Iran nuclear deal, Iran and America overcame much of the vitriolic rancor that separated them.

    The reason that Iran and the US are becoming allies is generational. The hardliners in Iran are in the dying generations that fought in the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution, and considered the Iranian Hostage Crisis a great victory for them. However, those people are dying off, and the generations growing up after the war are pro-Western and pro-American. At some point, there will be an "Awakening climax" in Iran, like the resignation of Richard Nixon in 1974, that signals the victory of the younger generations over the war survivors, and the end of the hardline regime. A likely outcome is that Iran will become the same kind of ally as it was under the Shah of Iran, prior to 1979.

    So we're seeing Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu expressing friendship and support for Iran -- but not for the old geezers in the hardline regime, but for the young generation of protesters.

    Donald Trump tweeted as follows:

    "Big protests in Iran. The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism. Looks like they will not take it any longer. The USA is watching very closely for human rights violations!

    Many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with regime’s corruption & its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad. Iranian govt should respect their people’s rights, including right to express themselves. The world is watching!

    The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most."

    Israel's president Benjamin Netanyahu posted a video in which he said the following:

    "Iran’s cruel regime wastes tens of billions of dollars spreading hate. This money could have built schools and hospitals. No wonder mothers and fathers are marching in the streets. The regime is terrified of them, of their own people.

    This regime tries desperately to sow hate between us. But they won’t succeed. And when this regime finally falls, and one day it will, Iranians and Israelis will be great friends once again. I wish the Iranian people success in their noble quest for freedom."

    The possible friendship between Netanyahu and the Iranian people exposes an important conflict in the geopolitics of the Mideast.

    Recently, Israel has been closely allied with Egypt in fighting Islamist terrorists, especially in Egypt's northern Sinai. Egypt has also been an ally of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the Arab split that led to the blockade of Qatar over its close relations with Iran.

    Israel has also recently been closely allied with Saudi Arabia because of their common enmity to Iran.

    If you connect all those dots and now throw in a possible future détente between Israel and Iran, then you quickly arrive at a conflict. This is not a trivial situation, and will almost certainly lead to some kind of conflict not currently anticipated.

    Generational Dynamics predictions that I've been posting for years haven't changed. 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. Reuters and Jerusalem Online

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Jan-18 World View -- Escalating violence in Iran protests brings calls for Iran-Israel friendship thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    1-Jan-18 World View -- Xi Jinping says that China will now have a 'say' on all international issues

    North Korea says that its nuclear arsenal protects it from attacks

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Xi Jinping says that China will now have a 'say' on all international issues


    Xi Jinping giving New Year speech (Xinhua)
    Xi Jinping giving New Year speech (Xinhua)

    China used to brag that it never interfered in other countries' business. Whenever someone complained that China was massacring peaceful protesters or Tibetans or Uighurs, Chinese officials would say that it's an internal matter, and just as China didn't criticize other nations' internal matters, other nations should just leave China alone.

    But according to China's president Xi Jinping's delusional New Year's address to the nation, all of that is changing now that both Xi Jinping and China have become strong and powerful:

    "As a responsible major country, China has something to say.

    China will resolutely uphold the authority and status of the United Nations, actively fulfill China's international obligations and duties, remain firmly committed to China's pledges to tackle climate change, actively push for the Belt and Road Initiative, and always be a builder of world peace, contributor of global development and keeper of international order. The Chinese people are ready to chart out a more prosperous, peaceful future for humanity, with people from other countries."

    One can only shrug and wonder what much of this means. With regard to upholding the United Nations, the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague has already ruled that China is an international criminal. ( "13-Jul-16 World View -- Philippines humiliates China in harsh Hague Tribunal ruling over South China Sea") China is also the principal supporter of Russia in illegally annexing Ukraine's Crimea peninsula. China has no intention of upholding the authority of the United Nations, except selectively for its own benefit.

    Xi Jinping says that China will "always be a builder of world peace, contributor of global development and keeper of international order." Does anyone seriously believe that?

    I've gotten quite a bit of reaction to my October 24 World View article, Xi Jinping's 'Socialism with Chinese characteristics' is identical to Hitler's National Socialism. In that article I wrote that the Chinese people themselves have become almost completely delusional. Press reports indicate that many Chinese, especially young Chinese, believe that China's Socialism has already beaten the United States. They believe that because China is a dictatorship, it can accomplish things that a democracy can't, and therefore can defeat the Western democracies at any time of their choosing.

    The things that I've been told are all anecdotal, but they're consistent. Chinese people consider themselves superior to Americans and other Western people, and expect to use military power (war) to dominate the world, and set up a "new world order."

    From what I can tell, Chinese people don't actually hate Americans. They save that vitriolic hatred for other Asians, including people from Vietnam, the Philippines, Korea and Japan. One person told me how contemptuous the Chinese he's spoken to are towards the people from Hong Kong and Taiwan. Another person wrote,

    "The Chinese are arrogant, rude, intolerant, loud, demanding and overbearing. They flaunt their wealth and rule over underlings, especially foreign ones, with an iron fist and a bamboo rod. Other Asians despise them and wherever they go as tourists they are disliked and held in disdain as being little more than peasants with credit cards."

    I keep comparing the Chinese today to the Nazis of the 1930s, and the points of comparison keep growing. The Chinese seem to consider themselves to be the "Master Race," just as the Nazis did. The Chinese consider it their right to annex regions belonging to other countries, just as the Nazis did. And the "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics" is the same as Nazi's "National Socialism."

    A lot of these impressions are anecdotal, but they're consistent. If there are any Chinese people out there who think that I'm wrong, then please write to me and tell me that I'm wrong and why. Because I would very much like to be wrong.

    I frequently quote Friedrich Nietzsche and I do so again now: "Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule."

    As things stand, China is delusional and on the same path as Nazi Germany. China will cause a catastrophe to itself and the rest of the world. History will look back on China as the worst disaster to the world in history, worse than the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese combined. By 2050, China will be worse off than it was in 1950. Xinhua and Times of India and Scroll (India)

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    Xi Jinping promises to eliminate poverty by 2020

    If Xi Jinping's speech sounded delusional about foreign policy, it sounds totally wacky on economic issues.

    According to Xi, in only three more years, by the year 2020, those rural residents who are currently living in conditions of extreme poverty should be lifted above the poverty line:

    "It would be the first time in thousands of years of Chinese history that extreme poverty had been eliminated. It is our solemn promise.

    Only three years are left to 2020. Every one of us must be called to action, do our best ... This is a great cause, important to both the Chinese nation and humanity. Let's do it together and make it happen."

    Just in general, the whole "poverty" concept is largely a hoax. Regulators always define the "poverty line" that separates the poor from the rest, so that there are always 10-12% of people in poverty. This is a matter of definition. Whatever algorithm regulators use to define poverty, it always comes out so that 10-12% of the people are in poverty.

    No matter how wealthy a country is, there's always a poorest 10-12%. So by definition, poverty can never be cured.

    So here's Xi Jinping promising to end poverty in China by 2020, three years from now. China is known to lie about economic statistics, and it may simply be that Xi Jinping believes what his government tells him.

    China claims an annual 6.9% growth rates, but I've heard many analysts claim that the true figure is close to 1%, and that the 6.9% figure represents increase in debt, rather than increase in growth. This is a subtle distinction that may be beyond the understanding of a politician like Xi Jinping.

    Xi's speeches have been promising aggressive development of China's "Belt and Road Initiative" (BRI). In this vision, China will be building towns, cities, buildings, roads and other infrastructure throughout Asia, and continuing all the way to Europe. In the oceans, China will be making new alliances and numerous ports for Chinese ships, putting China at the center of a new world order.

    The International Monetary Fund (IMF), Bank of International Settlements (BIS), Moody's and S&P have all expressed alarm at China's ballooning debt, and are predicting a major correction. This is consistent with the Generational Dynamics prediction of a global financial panic and crisis.

    As for the Belt and Road Initiative, the situation in Sri Lanka, where China financed building of a seaport then ended up controlling it because Sri Lanka can't make the payments, has raised a lot of suspicions that China is setting a debt trap for other nations as well. Projects in Pakistan and Nepal have been put on hold for this reason, putting the whole BRI concept into question. Xinhua and India.com and Forbes and Fortune (7-Dec) and Politico (EU)

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    North Korea says that its nuclear arsenal protects it from attacks


    Kim Jong-un on television on Sunday (AP)
    Kim Jong-un on television on Sunday (AP)

    North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un also gave a New Year's speech in which he bragged that he's already safe from attack by the United States, and that he's building an arsenal of nuclear missiles with which to attack the United states:

    "The U.S. should know that the button for nuclear weapons is on my table. The entire area of the U.S. mainland is within our nuclear strike range. ... The United States can never start a war against me and our country. ...

    We must mass-produce nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles and speed up their deployment."

    AP and AFP

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    Generational Dynamics World View finishes another year with a perfect record

    Well, it's the beginning of the New Year.

    There were 365 days in 2017, and I posted 365 Generational Dynamics World View articles. I didn't miss a single day. A perfect record. That just proves what an obsessive mind is capable of.

    When I started writing daily articles in January 2010, I wrote "Dear Reader, I'm going to try this for a while and see if it works for me. Ideally I'll produce a news summary every day, but that's probably unrealistic. I'll try to do it as often as possible." Much to my own amazement, I'm still doing it every day eight years later.

    I started the Generational Dynamics web site in 2003. Since then, I've written almost 6,000 articles containing thousands of Generational Dynamics predictions and analyses, all of which have come true or are trending true. None has been proven wrong. No web site, analyst, journalist, or politician has come even close to the analytical and forecasting success of GenerationalDynamics.com. Generational theory is truly amazing, and a truly historic development.

    Now it's 2018, and we're looking forward to an extremely dangerous year, with crises in North Korea, China, the South China Sea, the Mideast, Crimea, Africa, and elsewhere. Any one of these crises could spiral into something bigger. As we've reported recently, even Chinese officials are saying that they expect a war over North Korea in the next few months.

    If you want to forget about what's going on in the world, then just focus on the politics of the Russia dossier or the latest sexual harassment accusation. But if you do want to know what's going on in the world, then the #1 most accurate source in the world is the daily Generational Dynamics World View articles. You can read them every day on http://GenerationalDynamics.com and on the excellent Breitbart National Security web site, or you can subscribe, and receive them for free every day in your inbox.

    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Jan-18 World View -- Xi Jinping says that China will now have a 'say' on all international issues thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    31-Dec-17 World View -- With ISIS collapsing, US forces will remain in Syria to restore 'normalcy'

    US warns Assad regime to stay west of Euphrates river

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    With ISIS collapsing, US forces will remain in Syria to restore 'normalcy'


    Jim Mattis (Getty)
    Jim Mattis (Getty)

    According to Pentagon estimates, there are few then 1,000 fighters from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) left in eastern Syria, down from several thousand just a few weeks ago. This is largely through the efforts of the mostly Kurdish US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which have focused their efforts on eradicating remnants of ISIS.

    The Pentagon in the past has said that US forces would remain in Syria "as long as we need to," and on Friday U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis gave an outline about how the role of US forces will be changing in 2018, following the collapse of the self-declared ISIS caliphate in Raqqa.

    According to Mattis, ISIS is on the run, with some remaining ISIS fighters in the Middle Euphrates River Valley:

    "As we sit here today at the end of 2017, the caliphate is on the run, we’re breaking them.

    We are in the process of crushing the life out of the caliphate there, while trying to keep the innocent people safe – which is very hard with this group.

    It [ISIS] is less inspirational when they have lost their physical caliphate; it is less inspirational as the stories of what it was like living under their rule come out. I think it is a brand with a diminishing appeal, but the appeal is still there for those who go in for that philosophy."

    Mattis said the time is right for "an attempt to move toward normalcy," by operations like clearing IEDs, and ensuring peace and stability:

    "What we will be doing is shifting from what I call an offensive, terrain-seizing approach, to a stabilizing [approach].

    You'll see more U.S. diplomats on the ground. When you bring in more diplomats, they’re working that initial restoration of services. They bring in the contractors. That sort of thing, There’s international money that’s got to be administered so it actually does something and doesn’t go into the wrong people’s pockets."

    The approximately 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria would stay and provide security for the diplomats and civilians, as well as help with training and aid in efforts to hunt down IS fighters. Dept. of Defense and VOA and CNBC

    US warns Assad regime to stay west of Euphrates river

    The regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad is demanding that US forces leave Syria completely, and is calling the US presence "illegal."

    But according to Mattis, there is a demarcation line between the forces of the al-Assad regime and its ally Russia on one side, and the Syrian Democratic Forces and the coalition forces on the other side:

    "This is the demarcation line, and we've said that we will operate on one side, the Russians on the other. And we're still taking ISIS down. Nothing has changed."

    Mattis is denying that that US-backed forces have engaged "Assad forces" crossing the demarcation line:

    "It hasn't come up. They're not even trying it. So I'm not concerned. ...

    "Well, right now, it's a mistake if somebody does it. So it's not a warning to anybody."

    Despite the implied warning by Mattis, al-Assad says that the Kurds are "traitors," and he wants his army to attack them and possibly to exterminate them. The al-Assad regime currently controls about 55% of Syria, and Kurdish forces control about 28%.

    Turkey also considers the Kurds in the SDF to be "terrorists," and wants to see their role reduced. Furthermore, Turkey has recently called Bashar al-Assad a "terrorist."

    It appears that, in addition to eliminating the remaining 1,000 ISIS fighters, the remaining 2,000 US troops in Syria will have the job of protecting the Kurds from the Turkish and al-Assad forces. Critics of Friday's announcement by Mattis claim that it's a prescription for open-ended mission creep. AFP and Jerusalem Post and Rudaw (Kurdistan) and Eagle Online

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-Dec-17 World View -- With ISIS collapsing, US forces will remain in Syria to restore 'normalcy' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    30-Dec-17 World View -- Anti-government, anti-war and economic protests spread across Iran

    Iran's regime begins responding to the protests

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Anti-government, anti-war and economic protests spread across Iran


    Anti-government demonstrations in Mashad, Iran, on Thursday (AP)
    Anti-government demonstrations in Mashad, Iran, on Thursday (AP)

    A small Thursday protest in northeastern Iran against the economic policies of Iran's president Hassan Rouhani has spread on Friday to become a general anti-government protest in cities across Iran. The protesters are now targeting not just Rouhani, but the entire regime of Supreme Leader Seyed Ali Khamenei.

    Iran's economy has become increasingly desperate, and politician's statements blaming Iran's economy on outside forces (i.e., the United States) are increasingly disbelieved.

    Egg prices in Iran had doubled since last week, due to the government's culling of millions of chickens diagnosed with avian flu. Unemployment stood at 12.4% in this fiscal year, according to the Statistical Centre of Iran, up 1.4% from the previous year. About 3.2 million Iranians are jobless, out of a total population of 80 million.

    Rouhani had promised that the economy would improve significantly after Iran reached the nuclear deal with America and the West, because of the removal of economic sanctions. However, the money that was derived from the removal of sanctions has been wasted on government corruption and foreign wars.

    The slogans being chanted by protesters in different cities have been collected by the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI / MEK), an organization led by Maryam Rajavi, advocating the removal of the hardline Iranian regime. Some of the slogans are listed below.

    The original protests on Thursday were about the economy and government corruption:

    By Friday, they had morphed into general anti-government and anti-regime protests:

    Anti-war protests zeroed in on Iran's enormous expenditures on war efforts for Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Hezbollah, Hamas, and Yemen:

    Maryam Rajavi, referenced above, said:

    "This uprising has tolled the death knell for the overthrow of the totally corrupt dictatorship of the mullahs, and is the rise of democracy, justice and popular sovereignty.

    The four-decade record of the mullahs’ rule has been nothing but inflation, poverty and corruption, torture and execution, killings and aggression. The bulk of the people’s wealth, including the money released in the nuclear deal, is either spent on repression and export of terrorism and war, or is plundered by the regime’s leaders. The overthrow of the religious fascism is the first step to get out of the crisis that is intensifying every day.

    The mullahs’ regime has no future; investment on it is doomed to failure, and it is time for the international community to not tie their fate to this regime and recognize the Iranian people Resistance to overthrow that regime."

    Ms. Rajavi's statement is interesting, because it's almost formulaic in being similar in tone to screeds by American anti-war activists in the 1960s and 1970s, and indeed to screeds by anti-Donald Trump politicians today. Payvand (Iran) and Bloomberg and Deutsche Welle and Al Arabiya

    Iran's regime begins responding to the protests

    As I've been writing for years, Iran's population is behaving like a typical country in a generational Awakening era. This is one generation past the previous generational crisis war, in this case the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution and Iran/Iraq war that climaxed in 1988.

    America's last generational Awakening era was the 1960s-70s, one generation past the end of World War II. There was a "generation gap" pitting the traumatized survivors of World War II versus the Boomers who grew up after the war, and were not traumatized. There were student riots, long hot summers, the Summer of Love, bra-burning, anti-war protests, Kent State shootings, all culminating in the Awakening era climax, the resignation of Richard Nixon in 1974.

    We don't know when it's going to happen, but Iran is headed for a similar climax. Perhaps it will be on the death of the current 79-year-old Supreme Leader, or perhaps it will be based on some sort of electoral change, as happened with Richard Nixon.

    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 30-40 years old, and have risen to positions of power, ready to take over when the current hardline leadership dies off. And by the way, this is also true within the ranks of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

    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.

    There was a serious split between hardliners and moderates in Iran's government after the 2009 presidential elections, when young people were protesting, and there was blood running in the streets because Iran's security forces were massacring students and other protesters. Khamenei wanted the security forces to be completely unleashed, so they could kill, torture, rape, jail and bash anyone they wanted with impunity, while the moderates in the government wanted to permit peaceful protests, and wanted the jailed protesters to be released.

    Iran's government was extremely embarrassed by its violent response to peaceful protesters in 2009, and want to avoid a repeat, as indicated Friday by hardline cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda:

    "If the security and law enforcement agencies leave the rioters to themselves, enemies will publish films and pictures in their media and say that the Islamic Republic system has lost its revolutionary base in Mashhad."

    So Iran's government is in a quandary. The protests are small now, although they're a lot more widespread than the 2009 protests, which were mainly limited to Tehran. If the protests fizzle out by themselves, then all will be well for the time being. But if the protests grow in the next days and weeks, then the government will be forced to crush them, and as Alamolhoda says, world media will be filled with pictures and video of blood running in the streets of Tehran, as in 2009. BBC and Iran Front Page and Reuters

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Dec-17 World View -- Anti-government, anti-war and economic protests spread across Iran thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    29-Dec-17 World View -- Uzbekistan's Shavkat Mirziyoyev promises to end atrocities of previous leader Islam Karimov

    Who's going to pick the cotton in Uzbekistan?

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Uzbekistan's Shavkat Mirziyoyev promises to end atrocities of previous leader Islam Karimov


    Women working as forced laborers pick cotton in Uzbekistan in the Fergana Valley (EurasiaNet)
    Women working as forced laborers pick cotton in Uzbekistan in the Fergana Valley (EurasiaNet)

    Uzbekistan's new leader Shavkat Mirziyoyev is sacking senior security officials in the corrupt and bloody National Security Service (NSS), the local successor to the Soviet KGB, and has promised to reform economic reporting, saying that reported figures for economic growth and employment had been "fiction" for years.

    Mirziyoyev's predecessor was Islam Karimov, a vicious, corrupt dictator who had been in power since 1991, and who died a year ago at age 78 after suffering a stroke.

    Karimov ruled over a deeply corrupt system of wealth distribution among powerful clans, involving nepotism and cronyism. The population was kept in line by forced labor, mass arrests, torture and repression.

    Mirziyoyev has been in office for 15 months, and has promised hope and change in several areas, including liberalizing the economy and ensuring security, interethnic harmony and religious tolerance. However, he's said nothing about strengthening the public's role in the political process, or of improvement in human rights or allowing independent media. Reuters and RFE/RL and Reuters and RFE/RL

    Rise of Islamic radicalism and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU)

    Under Karimov, the region has seen Islamic radicalism in the form of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) in the densely populated and restive Fergana (Ferghana) Valley. The Fergana Valley lies in three separate countries. It consists of eastern Uzbekistan, part of northern Tajikistan and part of southwestern Kyrgyzstan. It's the most densely populated region of Central Asia, and has been plagued by frequent ethnic and religious conflict since the Soviet breakup.

    Following a wave of jihadist terror attacks in March 2004, 23 Muslims were put on trial on terrorism charges. In May 2005, Some 10,000 Muslims in Andijon (Andizhan) in the heart of the Fergana Valley began protesting the trial peacefully. However, the demonstrations turned violent when armed protesters attacked the prison, freeing dozens of prisoners, including the 23 Muslims on trial. Government soldiers moved in and fired on thousands of protestors, killing 500 people and causing thousands of refugees to flee Andijon and cross the border into Kyrgyzstan.

    Since then, the IMU has become increasingly radicalized. Its initial goal was to turn the entire Fergana valley into a caliphate, but it was drawn into the Afghanistan war by the American intervention, and has cooperated to some extent with the Taliban in executing terrorist attacks in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Although originally allied with al-Qaeda, the IMU has changed allegiance to the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

    The current objectives of the IMU are currently unclear, but using the IMU as a reason, Karimov has fueled resentment towards the government through mass arrests. Protest has been unheard of because the National Security Service (NSS) is so feared, but now the new leader Shavkat Mirziyoyev is vowing to bring the NSS under control. Mirziyoyev is starting by firing some senior level officers, but whether anything will really change remains to be seen.

    It's believed that hundreds of Uzbeks are in Iraq and Syria fighting with ISIS and other jihadist groups. With the continuing demise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, it's possible that some of these will return to Uzbekistan and join with local insurgents to pose an internal threat to the country.

    Jihadists from Uzbekistan have occasionally perpetrated terrorist acts in other regions.

    An Uzbek citizen was arrested in Sweden in April when he ran a truck into a crowd in Stockholm and killed four people. The suspect had been denied a request for residency in Sweden and expressed sympathy with the ISIS. Two Uzbeks and a Kazakh were arrested in Brooklyn in 2015 and charged with conspiring to support ISIS.

    Sayfullo Saipov, a 29-year-old citizen of Uzbekistan, was arrested immediately after killing eight people by speeding a rental truck down a New York City on October 31. Saipov came to America in 2011, and in 2013 was married in Ohio to a 19-year old girl, Nozima Odilova, who is also from Uzbekistan. They have two children. Saipov was apparently radicalized while in the United States.

    Uzbekistan's president Shavkat Mirziyoyev immediately acknowledged the violence and expressed his condolences, writing to President Trump, "Uzbekistan is prepared to provide all measures and means to assist in the investigation of this terrorist act."

    Under Karimov, Uzbekistan has been a U.S. partner in the fight against terrorism, and the US has also used Uzbekistan as a strategic location to bring goods and military equipment into Afghanistan. That's expected to continue under Mirziyoyev. Crisis Group (29-Sept) and EurasiaNet (1-Nov) and Newsweek (31-Oct) and The Atlantic (1-Nov)

    Who's going to pick the cotton in Uzbekistan?

    Uzbekistan became a cotton-producing powerhouse in the twentieth century for an ironic reason.

    In the mid-1800s, the Russians invaded Uzbekistan. Russia had lost its supply of cotton from the southern United States because of the American Civil War, and the Russians wanted to establish a safe source of cotton, and so they developed a large cotton-producing agriculture in Uzbekistan.

    As part of Stalin's Soviet Union, Uzbekistan became a cotton powerhouse starting in the 1920s. In support of the cotton trade, millions of ethnic Russians began pouring into the country, especially into the fertile Fergana Valley (or Ferghana Valley), in the far eastern portion of the country.

    1991 was a pivotal year for Uzbekistan and the Fergana Valley. That was the year that the Soviet Union collapsed, resulting in the formation of Uzbekistan as an independent republic. It also resulted in a great deal of financial hardship for the Russians still living in the Fergana Valley. The result was the first signs of Islamic fundamentalism in Uzbekistan when some unemployed young Muslims seized the Communist Party headquarters in the city of Namangan in the Fergana Valley, and ended up forming the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).

    What makes this ironic is that the cotton trade in the American south before the Civil War depended on slavery, and the cotton trade in Uzbekistan since independence in 1991 has also depended on slavery.

    Since 1991, it has become standard practice by the government to use forced labor to pick the cotton. Theoretically it was voluntary, but in practice the government forced teachers, doctors and students, including children, to leave hospitals, schools and universities and go to the cotton fields.

    The new president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, has vowed to end forced labor, and has issued a decree categorically banning the use of children, along with education and healthcare workers, in the harvest. These people were sent home right in the middle of this year's cotton harvest, much to their surprise.

    However, as analysts point out, cotton is an existential crop for Uzbekistan, and somebody has to pick the cotton, and now other groups are picking cotton as part of a new wave of forced labor.

    The long-term plan is to attract voluntary cotton-pickers through higher wages, and to mechanize the harvest through 15,000 harvesting machines. Whether this will be done remains to be seen, but in the meantime, forced labor is still being used to pick the cotton. EurasiaNet (31-Oct)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Dec-17 World View -- Uzbekistan's Shavkat Mirziyoyev promises to end atrocities of previous leader Islam Karimov thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    28-Dec-17 World View -- China funds unauthorized anti-Japan comfort woman statue in Manila, Philippines

    South Korea calls for renegotiating 2015 deal with Japan on comfort women

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    China funds unauthorized anti-Japan comfort woman statue in Manila, Philippines


    Unauthorized comfort woman statue on Roxas Boulevard in Manila, the Philippines (Japan Forward)
    Unauthorized comfort woman statue on Roxas Boulevard in Manila, the Philippines (Japan Forward)

    An unauthorized statue representing a "comfort woman" during Japan's occupation of the Philippines has been erected on Roxas Boulevard in Manila, usually reserved for statues of actresses and former presidents.

    The statue was funded by a group of Chinese donors working in secret with a Philippines feminist organization. The statue was reported in Chinese media even before an unveiling ceremony took place on December 9.

    On December 12, the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) sent a letter to the Mayor of Manila, with "requests for background information regarding the monument, including the process of erecting such monuments, and the circumstances that led to the erection of the "Comfort Woman" statue." The mayor responded that the statue had been erected without a permit, and that no permit had been issued.

    A similar statue in San Francisco has drawn retaliation from Japan. San Francisco and Osaka, Japan's third-largest city, became sister cities in 1957, as part of a post-war effort to foster peace. Last month, the mayor of Osaka announced that they will end the relationship. Osaka mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura said, "Our relationship of trust was completely destroyed. I will dissolve the sister-city relationship."

    So far, no similar retaliatory measures have been taken against Manila or the Philippines for the Manila statue. Manila is a sister city of Yokohama, Japan, while Japan is the Philippines' biggest partner in trade, investment, and official development assistance.

    Although no permit has been issued for the statue in Manila, Teresita Ang See, identified as a "community and anticrime advocate" of Chinese ancestry in Manila, justifies the statue:

    "The Japanese occupation is a fact. The atrocities, persecutions, massacres, rape and other war crimes are facts. These we cannot and should not deny. There is a park at the corner of Anda and Gen. Luna Streets in Intramuros, put up by the Memorare Manila, to remember the more than 100,000 civilians killed during the Battle of Manila."

    The Japanese say that they object to the statues because they are being singled out, when rape and sexual slavery are common in any war.

    And the Japanese are absolutely right.

    From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, rape, sexual slavery and other sex crimes are common in war, especially generational crisis wars, as a way of demoralizing the enemy.

    Japan's sex crimes are over 70 years old, but there are girls and women being sold as sex slaves in Libya today. These are Mideast and African refugees who come to Libya hoping to cross over to Europe. Instead, they run out of money to pay human traffickers and they get auctioned off in slave auctions. The men are auctioned as worker slaves, and the boys, girls and women are auctioned as sex slaves. That's happening today, and I'm not aware of any statues being erected for them.

    As a Chinese woman, Teresita Ang See statement about comfort women is probably motivated as much by her hatred of the Japanese and Philippines people as she is about her concern for the victims.

    The hatred between Chinese and Philippines people is enormous, as was documented in a 2003 book World on Fire by Yale Law School professor Amy Chua. Chua was a member of the élite Chinese descent minority living in Manila, in an enclave walled off from ordinary Filipinos, whom she never saw except as servants living in filth in the basement of her family's mansion. Chua described what happened after one of the servants murdered her aunt:

    "Each time I think of Nilo Abique -- he was close to six feet and my aunt was four-feet-eleven-inches tall -- I find myself welling up with a hatred and revulsion so intense it is actually consoling. But over time I have also had glimpses of how the Chinese must look to the vast majority of Filipinos, to someone like Abique: as exploiters, as foreign intruders, their wealth inexplicable, their superiority intolerable. I will never forget the entry in the police report for Abique's "motive for murder." The motive given was not robbery, despite the jewels and money the chauffer was said to have taken. Instead, for motive, there was just one word -- "Revenge."

    My aunt's killing was just a pinprick in a world more violent than most of us ever imagined. In America we read about acts of mass slaughter and savagery; at first in faraway places, now coming closer and closer to home. We do not understand what connects these acts. Nor do we understand the role we have played in bringing them about.

    In the Serbian concentration camps of the early 1990s, the women prisoners were raped over and over, many times a day, often with broken bottles, often together with their daughters. The men, if they were lucky, were beaten to death as their Serbian guards sang national anthems; if they were not so fortunate, they were castrated or, at gunpoint, forced to castrate their fellow prisoners, sometimes with their own teeth. In all, thousands were tortured and executed."

    Perhaps one of my readers from the Balkans can let me know if there are any statues being erected for the men who were castrated by their fellow prisoners with their teeth.

    In the end, this whole comfort women issue is an opportunistic way to collect money from the Japanese, but it's really all about the ethnic hatred that the Japanese, Chinese and Philippines have for each other. In the last war, it was Japan versus China and the Philippines. In the next war it will be China versus Japan and the Philippines.

    So the Japanese are completely correct that they're being singled out for things that are common in generational crisis wars.

    History is written by the victors. America and the West were the victors in World War II, and American soldiers saved both China and the Philippines from being conquered, colonized and enslaved by the Japanese. The Japanese lost the war to the Americans and the West, and their crimes are being singled out. That's the way the world works. Washington Post (25-Nov) and Japan Forward and ABS-CBN (Manila, 20-Dec) and The Standard (Philippines)

    South Korea calls for renegotiating 2015 deal with Japan on comfort women

    Civic groups in South Korea are demanding that a December 2015 deal between Japan and South Korea to settle the comfort women issue be repudiated, and a new deal be negotiated to obtain more money from Japan, as well as full acceptance of blame.

    The 2015 agreement included a $8.8 million fund paid by Japan to help the victims. Anti-Japanese groups in South Korea claim that the 2015 agreement did not fully take into account the views of the victims, and that more money should be paid to them directly, rather than through the government. According to some reports, victims who accepted money from the fund were vilified by the anti-Japanese groups.

    The agreement also called for the removal of statues of comfort women outside the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, and outside the Japanese consulate in Busan city, but those statues have not been removed.

    The 2015 agreement was supposed to resolve the comfort women issue once and for all. Although all the activists' demands were met at the time, some former victims were angry that they had not been consulted.

    Japan's foreign minister Taro Kono has reacted angrily to the demand to renegotiate the 2015 deal:

    "If (South Korea) tries to revise the agreement that is already being implemented, that would make Japan’s ties with South Korea unmanageable and it would be unacceptable."

    The implication of this threat is that South Korea and Japan will not be able to work together to effectively counter nuclear missiles threats from North Korea.

    South Korea's foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha said, "Based on the findings, the government will gather opinions of the victims and others involved going forward with a focus to be placed on a victims-centered approach. In addition, action will be taken carefully in consideration of any impact that it could have on the relations between South Korea and Japan." Yonhap (Seoul) and Reuters and Asia Times and The Atlantic (28-Dec-2015)

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    27-Dec-17 World View -- Christians celebrate Christmas in Pakistan under tight security

    India kills 3 Pakistani soldiers in Kashmir in revenge attack

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    India kills 3 Pakistani soldiers in Kashmir in revenge attack


    Methodist Church in Quetta, Pakistan, after a double suicide bombing on Dec 17 (Las Tampas)
    Methodist Church in Quetta, Pakistan, after a double suicide bombing on Dec 17 (Las Tampas)

    Indian officials are bragging about a "tit-for-tat" revenge attack on Monday evening, when Indian army troops crossed the Kashmir Line of Control (LoC) and crossed from the Indian-governed side to the Pakistani-governed side. There they conducted a "localized tactical operation," first creating an explosion 100-300 meters across the LoC, and then ambushed a unit of Pakistani army troops, killing three and wounding one.

    Indian officials call it a "tit-for-tat" response to an almost identical raid carried out by Pakistani troops on Saturday on Indian troops, killing one Major and three soldiers.

    India adopted a policy of retaliatory revenge attacks after 19 Indian soldiers were killed when terrorists attacked an Army camp in Uri on September 19, after which India's army conducted "surgical strikes" into Pakistani territory in Kashmir.

    However, Pakistan's Foreign Office (FO) is denying that Indian troops ever crossed the LoC into Pakistani soil. Instead, the FO said that the Pakistani soldiers were killed by the explosion. According to Pakistan, firing by Indian forces had "provided a cover for the planting of IEDs [improvised explosive devices] by non-state actors", which resulted in the martyrdom of three soldiers. Daily Pioneer (India) and Dawn (Pakistan) and The Quint (India)

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    Christians celebrate Christmas in Pakistan under tight security

    After a brutal terror attack on a Methodist Church in Quetta, Afghanistan, on December 17, Christians in Pakistan celebrated Christmas under tight security, provided by Pakistan's government in the form of commandos, snipers and plain-clothes policemen deployed across the country to protect Christians and Christian churches on Christmas.

    On December 17, two suicide bombers attack a Methodist Church in the city of Quetta, the provincial capital of the restive province of Balochistan. Hundreds of worshippers were attending services when the attack occurred. Nine people were killed, and dozens wounded.

    On March 26 of last year, at least 69 people, mostly women and children, were killed and more than 300 injured in a suicide bombing attack in a park in Lahore, Pakistan, crowded with Christians celebrating Easter Sunday. The suicide bomber was apparently targeting children, as the explosion took place in a children's playground, near swings and other rides.

    Christians and other religious minorities have regularly faced atrocities across Pakistan. Shia Muslims are targeted most often, along with Hindus, Ahmadis and Christians.

    Christians have been systematically targeted by Pakistan’s perverse blasphemy laws, which prescribe a mandatory death sentence for any act purportedly bringing Islam and its Prophet to disrepute. Most recently, a Christian man, Nadeem James Masih, was sentenced to death on September 15, 2017, for blasphemy. Nadeem was arrested in July 2016, after his friend Yasir Bashir told the Police that he sent him a poem on WhatsApp that was insulting to Islam. Straits Times and AP and South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP - India) and Las Tampa (Italy)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Dec-17 World View -- Christians celebrate Christmas in Pakistan under tight security thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    26-Dec-17 World View -- Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah heading for a military confrontation in Syria

    Combined Syrian and Iranian forces taking control of enclave on Israel's border

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Combined Syrian and Iranian forces taking control of enclave on Israel's border


    Lebanon-Israel border
    Lebanon-Israel border

    The combined forces of Syria's army and Iran-backed Hezbollah militias are fighting to take control of Beit Jinn, in the expectation that that its fall would also have a domino effect on all the Sunni anti-Assad militias in the entire Quneitra region of the Syrian Golan, allowing Iran and Hezbollah to mass forces in Syria on Israel's border. Beit Jinn is about 11 km from Israeli army positions on Mt. Hermon in Israel, while Quneitra is 5.5 km from the Israeli border.

    On one side are the army of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, combined with militias from Iran-backed Hezbollah, and apparently supported by Druze militias in the region, for a total of several thousand fighters, backed by heavy aerial bombing and heavy artillery shelling.

    On the other side are a combination of Israeli-backed "moderate" Free Syrian Army (FSA) anti-Assad Sunni rebels, combined with Sunni fighters from formerly al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), for a total of several hundred fighters. The combined Sunni forces are fighting under the banner of Itihad Quwt Jabal al Sheikh, or "Union of fighters of Jabal al Sheikh," and they are mainly drawn from local fighters from the area.

    The Sunni groups are denying that they're close to surrender. According to an official from one Sunni group, "The Iranian-backed militias are trying to consolidate their sphere of influence all the way from southwest of Damascus to the Israeli border." Reuters and Israell National News and Al Manar (Hezbollah) and Debka (Israel)

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    Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah heading for a military confrontation in Syria

    With the collapse of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) in both Iraq and Syria, and with Russia's recent announcement that it was going to remove most of its forces from Syria, Iran is moving to consolidate its control over parts of both countries. Two objectives are, first, to establish a land highway from Tehran (Iran) to both Damascus (Syria) and Beirut (Lebanon), and second, to establish an Iranian military base in southern Syria near the Israeli border. A further objective would be the eradication of the "Zionist regime."

    In November, Israel's foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman said that Israel will feel free to act in any way it wants in Syria, in order to defend its own security, and particularly to prevent Iran from establishing a military base in Syria:

    "We maintain absolute freedom of action and the only considerations that guide us are the security considerations of Israel. ... With regards to Iran, we will simply not allow for Shi'ite consolidation and Iranian entrenchment in Syria nor will we allow Syria to become a forward operating base against the State of Israel. Anyone who has yet to understand that is advised to do so."

    A report in November said Iran is establishing a permanent military base outside Al-Kiswah, located 14 kilometers (8 miles) south of Damascus. Early in December, there were airstrikes attributed to Israel on Al-Kiswah and other targets around Damascus.

    According Ron Dermer, Israel's ambassador to the US, the chances of a military confrontation between Israel and Iran are growing quickly. Dermer was asked what the chance was of a military conflict with Hezbollah in the next year:

    "Well, I wouldn’t put a percentage on that, but I think it is higher than people think because of Iran’s continued push through the region. If Iran is not rolled back in Syria, then the chances of military confrontation are growing. I don’t want to tell you by the year or by the month. I’d say even by the week.

    Because the more they push, we have to enforce our red lines, and you always have the prospects of an escalation, even when parties don’t want an escalation because we will not allow Iran to establish that presence and establish another terror front against Israel in Syria. We’re not going to allow it to happen. So in taking action to defend ourselves, you don’t know what could happen. But I think it’s higher than people think."

    The last major clash between Israel and Hezbollah occurred in 2006. The war was triggered when two Israeli soldiers were ambushed and kidnapped while on patrol near the border with Lebanon. Israel panicked and launched the Lebanon war with Hezbollah within four hours, with no plan, no objective, and no idea what was going on. The war that was considered disastrous for both sides. Jerusalem News Service and Meir Amit Intelligence Center and Reuters (12-Nov) and Politico

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Dec-17 World View -- Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah heading for a military confrontation in Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    25-Dec-17 World View -- Remembering the 1914 World War I Christmas Truce

    The 'anti-war movement' in World War I

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Remembering the 1914 World War I Christmas Truce


    Christmas truce drawing from the London News of January 9, 1915.  The drawing's caption reads, in part, "British and German soldiers arm-in-arm and exchanging headgear: a Christmas truce between opposing trenches. Drawn by A. C. Michael."
    Christmas truce drawing from the London News of January 9, 1915. The drawing's caption reads, in part, "British and German soldiers arm-in-arm and exchanging headgear: a Christmas truce between opposing trenches. Drawn by A. C. Michael."

    An almost-forgotten event in an almost-forgotten war.

    One of the most remarkable occurrences in modern warfare occurred just a few months after World War I had begun.

    On December 24, 1914, the German and British soldiers laid down their arms, crossed into the "No Man's Land" separating their trenches. They sang Christmas carols, played games, and shared jokes and beer with one another. They also used the time to bury their dead.

    Hundreds and perhaps thousands of men on the Western Front experienced the informal truce. The war had begun only months earlier, and there was probably more curiosity than hatred between British and German troops. Once the soldiers began receiving Christmas presents from home, the mood in many areas became more festive than warlike.

    This story illustrates how different World War I was from World War II.

    From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, World War II was a generational crisis war for America and Western Europe, but World War I was a non-crisis war. (World War I was a generational crisis war for Eastern Europe, Russia and the Mideast.)

    Can you imagine Hitler's German troops and Churchill's English troops singing Christmas carols and playing games at the beginning of World War II? That would have been impossible.

    World War I is now an almost completely forgotten war in America, except for its name. Because of the similarity of names between World Wars I and II, and because Americans fought Germans in both wars, most Americans believe that WW I and WW II were similar to one another.

    Today there are few people, even among historians (as I've discovered), who have any idea what the Great War (WW I) was about. Most people seem to believe that WW I was the same as WW II -- some pre-Hitler Hitler-type decided to invade France and started a world war. First World War - Christmas Truce

    The 'anti-war movement' in World War I

    In fact, World War I was much more similar to our Vietnam war than it was to World War II.

    World War I was very politically divisive for both America and Germany. America actually remained neutral between England and Germany for several years, and only entered the war in 1917, to much political dissent. To this day, many historians still consider America's entry in WW I to have been unwise. In a 2004 survey of historians' views on the "greatest" and "least great" presidents, the two presidents voted the "most controversial" were Bill Clinton and Woodrow Wilson. Wilson was considered controversial because he was the President who entered America into World War I, despite enormous political opposition. I have personally interviewed older men who are still absolutely furious at Wilson for getting America into that war.

    Antiwar writings began appearing in both Britain and Germany. In England in 1917, Wilfred Owen, a 24-year-old soldier, wrote "Anthem for Doomed Youth":

    What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
      Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
      Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
    Can patter out their hasty orisons.
    No mockeries for them; no prayers nor bells,
    Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
    The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
    And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

    What candles may be held to speed them all?
      Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
    Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
      The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
    Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
    And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

    Ironically, Owen died in 1918 in the same week that WW I ended. The "Doomed Youth" that he described have become known as the Lost Generation, in the same generational archetype as today's Generation-X. (See "Politicians commemorate Battle of the Somme, July 1, 1916.")

    World War I was just as politically divisive for Germany. Germany did not start WW I, as many people naïvely believe. WW I started in the Balkans and spread to Russia. Germany was "accidentally" forced into the war because of a long-standing treaty with Austria which obligated Germany to invade France because France was an ally of Russia. England was pulled into the war because of a previous agreement with France.

    By 1918, the German people were sick of the war, and when the Americans joined the war, that was the last straw for the German people, who forced their country's leaders to capitulate. Germany's incredible capitulation, long before it was necessary, occurred because the German people were so politically angered by the war. Essentially, Germany capitulated in WW I for exactly the same reason that America capitulated in the Vietnam War -- because of enormous political opposition back home during a "generational Awakening" era.

    But when Germany capitulated on November 11, 1918, German troops were still deep within Belgian and French territory. Writing in his 1931 book World in Crisis, Winston Churchill said that if Germany had continued to fight, they would have been capable of inflicting two million more casualties upon the enemy. Churchill added that the Allies would not have put Germany to the test: simply by fighting on a little longer, the Allies would have negotiated a peace with no reparations, on terms far more favorable to Germany than actually occurred in the peace dictated by the Allies.

    Between the Christmas Truce and the early capitulation, it was clear that the German people had little interest in fighting World War I.

    After the war, the young German soldier Erich Maria Remarque wrote "Im Westen Nichts Neues (All Quiet on the Western Front)" depicting the heroic soldiers as becoming a "lost generation," following a completely pointless war. Some consider it to be the greatest antiwar book of all time. Churchill - World Crisis (full text PDF) and Remarque - All Quiet on the Western Front (full text PDF)

    World War I vs World War II and World War III

    By contrast, WW II was a generational crisis war for Germany (as well as England and America). That war was no "accident." Hitler planned his attack on France and England for years in advance, in secret, and Hitler kept on fighting long after it was clear that Germany would lose. There was no early capitulation.

    As I described in 2008 in "The gathering storm in the Caucasus," today's international situation is much more similar to the prelude to WW I than to WW II.

    World War II could almost have been anticipated by someone watching the murderous Adolf Hitler - and actually it was by Winston Churchill. But there was no figure like Hitler in WW I, which was triggered almost by a random event. When Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated by a Serb high school student, the war in Eastern Europe was triggered. Germany was as shocked by the war as anyone, and had no desire to invade France, but was forced to by a treaty with Austria.

    Today, a new world war could be launched in the same way as either WW I or II. There are Hitler-like figures on the scene, including China's Xi Jinping and North Korea's Kim Jong-un. And there are also deep xenophobic and nationalistic urges that are prevalent in many countries, especially in China and North Korea, directed against the US, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and India.

    Furthermore, there's a historical irony. After World War II, the United States took on the role of Policeman of the World, and in doing so, signed some sort of mutual defense treaty with many countries: Japan, South Korea, Israel, Taiwan, the Philippines, the Marshall Islands, the ANZUS agreement with Australia and New Zealand, a special treaty with Iceland, and the NATO agreement with all of Europe. The purpose of these treaties was to discourage attacks on any of these allies that would otherwise have the risk of spiraling into World War III.

    So today, since those are mutual defense treaties, all of those countries actually have an obligation to defend the US in a war with China. Even if they stay neutral, any incident could trigger a larger war. Furthermore, the extreme xenophobia in China makes it more likely that the Chinese will interpret the mutual defense treaties in a way that will cause them to attack those countries. The irony is that these mutual defense treaties were supposed to prevent World War III, but instead they make World War III more likely.

    Finally, with the US distracted in Asia, countries in the Mideast and elsewhere will feel free to launch their own attacks on their own enemies.

    The most obvious imminent threat is North Korea. Two days ago, China and Russia both signed off on new extreme Security Council sanctions that N Korea calls a "total blockade" and "an act of war." It's becoming increasingly likely that a war with North Korea will begin soon, quite possibly starting with a preemptive strike by the US, and that China will tolerate it as long as US troops and S. Korean troops don't remain in N. Korea, or come close to the Yalu river.

    Analysts are hoping that any such situation will end in some kind of peace treaty, but from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, I would expect it to escalate in a much larger war in this generational Crisis era.

    And so, a world war could be triggered today by any of a number of random events, even by a high school student who manages to assassinate some world leader. Any event like that could spiral into a regional war and then into a world war, as happened in 1914.

    So, the Christmas truce of 1914 is a unique, sentimental story to think about in this holiday season, as we realize with sadness that there'll be no Christmas truces in the "clash of civilizations" world war that's just around the corner. BBC

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Dec-17 World View -- Remembering the 1914 World War I Christmas Truce thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    24-Dec-17 World View -- US sending anti-tank missiles to Ukraine as East Ukraine violence surges

    Violence surges in East Ukraine as Russia withdraws its monitors

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    US sending anti-tank missiles to Ukraine as East Ukraine violence surges


    Portable Javelin anti-tank missile
    Portable Javelin anti-tank missile

    In a move that some analysts describe as escalatory, the US State Department announced that it will be sending weapons to the government of Ukraine to provide "enhanced defensive capabilities" to help Ukraine build its military long-term, defend its sovereignty and "deter further aggression." According to State Dept. spokesman Heather Nauert:

    "US assistance is entirely defensive in nature, and as we have always said, Ukraine is a sovereign country and has a right to defend itself."

    She did not describe what weapons will be sent, but unnamed sources say that they will include portable Javelin anti-tank missiles.

    The semantics are complex here. It's true that these missiles can be shot at people to kill them, but that would largely be a waste since they're designed to destroy tanks, in particular the Russia-supplied tanks that the Russians have been using in East Ukraine to win battles and gain ground on Ukrainian forces. For that reason, the Javelin anti-tank missiles are described as defensive in nature.

    Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko has been requesting these and other lethal weapons for years, as the Russians have been gaining ground in East Ukraine. President Barack Obama considered sending lethal weapons to Ukraine, but never approved them. Both Republicans and Democrats have called on the government to provide these weapons. President Donald Trump has been considering the plan ever since the State Department and the Pentagon signed off earlier this year, and finally approved it last week. AP and Newsweek (21-Dec) and Guardian (London)

    Violence surges in East Ukraine as Russia withdraws its monitors

    The war between Russians and Ukrainians in East Ukraine began in 2014, but has been thought to be a "frozen conflict" for some time, because of the "Minsk agreement," a ceasefire agreement signed in 2015.

    However, the ceasefire has been pretty much meaningless, as the violence has been escalating much of the year, according to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which monitors ceasefire violations. According to the OSCE, there have been 16,000 ceasefire violations in one week alone, December 11-17. According to the OSCE:

    "We note with concern a sharp deterioration in the security situation with ceasefire violations reaching levels not recorded since February this year."

    Kurt Volker, the US special envoy for Ukraine, says that the war is ratcheting up into a major crisis:

    "A lot of people think that this has somehow turned into a sleepy, frozen conflict and it's stable and now we have...a cease-fire. It's a problem but it's not a crisis.

    That's completely wrong. It is a crisis. This has been the most violent year, 2017, and frankly last night was one of the most violent nights, certainly since February, and possibly this year."

    Volker was speaking on December 19, and he was referring to the surge in violence that occurred the day before -- just after Russia withdrew its ceasefire monitors from the OSCE monitoring programs. Volker tweeted:

    "Russia withdrew its officers from JCCC - a ceasefire implementation tool - right before a massive escalation in ceasefire violations. Ukraine just suffered some of the worst fighting since February, 2017. Decision for peace lies with Russia. 9:01 AM - 19 Dec 2017"

    Volker said that the "massive escalation" in violence was correlated to the Russia's withdrawal from the ceasefire monitoring program, and suggested that it was coordinated by the Russian soldiers in east Ukraine. Reuters and RFE/RL and AFP

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    Russia objects to weapons sale with laughable statement

    It's worthwhile to take a moment to review the massive program of disinformation and lies that Russia has pursued since the beginning of the Ukraine conflict.

    Russia always denied that there were Russian army troops in Ukraine, and when it was proven there were, the Russians claimed that they were just "volunteers." That also turned out to be disinformation, as 80% of Russia's army is a volunteer army. America has an all-volunteer army. So saying that Russian troops in Ukraine are "volunteers" is like saying that America's troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are "volunteers."

    In July 2014, the Russians in eastern Ukraine shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 passenger plane with a Russian Buk 9M38 missile that was transported by a Volvo truck from Russia, as was confirmed in 2015 by a Dutch report following a lengthy investigation. Russia made one moronic claim after another, everything from the claim that MH17 fell out of the sky by itself to a claim that the US shot down MH17 to embarrass Putin.

    After Putin's Russian forces invaded Crimea, Putin denied that there were Russian troops in Crimea, but later he awarded a medal to the leaders of the successful invasion. Putin said there were no plans to annex Crimea, but then Russia annexed Crimea soon after.

    The point of reviewing all this history is that now we're in a new Ukraine crisis, and we're in the same situation, where everything that the Russians say is 100% worthless.

    So now we have Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Grigory Karasin, saying that the US decision "raises the danger of derailing the process of peaceful settlement in Ukraine."

    This is laughable. There is no "process of peaceful settlement."

    The war in east Ukraine is being fought by Russian troops -- "volunteers" -- supplied with heavy Russian weapons, including tanks. As Kurt Volker says, "Decision for peace lies with Russia."

    The Ukrainian troops are defensive. East Ukrainian is Ukrainian territory being invaded by foreign troops -- Russian troops. So if Karasin is serious about a "process of peaceful settlement," then Russia could stop sending troops and weapons into East Ukraine.

    It's also up to the Russians to turn this into a full-scale war. Most analysts believe that the Russians do not want this, and can't really even afford it. But that's what would happen if the Russians send in more troops and more weapons. Russia Today and NBC News

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Dec-17 World View -- US sending anti-tank missiles to Ukraine as East Ukraine violence surges thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    23-Dec-17 World View -- Tanzania and China pass new laws to send government critics to jail

    How to confront a Chinese troll

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    New Tanzania law makes it 'sedition' to reference a statistic the government doesn't like


    Outspoken Tanzania MP Zitto Kabwe arrested for 'sedition' (East African)
    Outspoken Tanzania MP Zitto Kabwe arrested for 'sedition' (East African)

    Lots of countries these days have laws that make it a criminal activity to criticize the government. Dictators and other psychopathic leaders use these laws to control the political opposition, since anyone who criticizes the leaders can be beaten, tortured, raped and jailed. So with Christmas approaching, it's worthwhile to note that two countries are implementing new laws to jail government critics.

    On October 29, police in Dar es Salaam, the capital city of Tanzania, arrested parliament member Zitto Kabwe on charges of "sedition."

    His crime? At a campaign rally, he said that the national economic growth for the second quarter was a 5.7%, when the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said that their figure was 7.8%.

    According to police commander Lazaro Mambosasa, "The MP was later transferred to Central Police Station for further interrogation related to seditious words uttered on the material day."

    Tanzania's president John Magufuli is apparently clamping down on criticism. According to his opponents, 400 have been arrested and questioned in the past two years. Politicians in the opposition Chadema party have been specifically targeted, although journalists and artists have also been arrested. MP Tundu Lissu has been arrested multiple times, once for revealing that Canada had seized a commercial aircraft for non-payment, and once when he was charged with "hate speech" after calling Magufuli a "dictator."

    Magufuli now wants to clamp down harder. Last week, he instructed the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) to fine or jail any individuals, institutions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) accused of airing or publishing false statistics. Magufuli said that the minimum sentence should be three years in jail.

    What this reminds me of is the Mao Zedong's Great Leap Forward in 1958-59. Mao wanted to turn China into a Socialist powerhouse.

    500,000,000 million peasants were taken out of their individual homes and put into communes, creating a massive human work force. The family unit was dismantled. Communes were completely segregated, with children, wives and husbands all living in separate barracks and working in separate battalions. Communal living was emphasized by eating, sleeping, and working in teams. Husbands and wives were allowed to be alone only at certain times of the month and only for brief periods.

    Mao dismantled the Central Statistical Bureau, the organization responsible for keeping track of all the economic activity going on in the country. As a result, China's leadership had no real idea whether the Great Leap Forward was meeting its objectives or not. As a result, corruption and fraud became rampant, and no one knew what was going on. Farms lied about crop harvests, and there was no way to verify them. By the time the problems were discovered, tens of millions of people died of starvation, and Mao was disgraced.

    John Magufuli should keep that historical example in mind. By jailing people who tell him what he doesn't want to hear, there may be a national disaster in the making. Tanzania Daily News and East African (Kenya, 31-Oct) and All Africa (1-Nov) and East African (26-Aug)

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    New China law 'protects the honor' of Chinese heroes


    Chinese souvenir badge with pictures of Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, Xi Jinping, and Hu Jintao (AFP)
    Chinese souvenir badge with pictures of Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, Xi Jinping, and Hu Jintao (AFP)

    A 19-year-old Chinese man living in Inner Mongolia, identified only by his surname Luo, has been arrested for "stomping and insulting" a portrait of Genghis Khan. A video of the act went viral, and police received complaints that the video had caused a disruption to society.

    Genghis Khan is definitely not revered by many Han Chinese, especially in the areas that he conquered and ravaged during the Mongol invasion of China, a generational crisis war that climaxed in 1206. However, he is revered by ethnic Mongols, including Mongols who are Chinese citizens. Luo was sentenced to one year in prison for desecrating a portrait of Genghis Khan.

    Now China is considering a new law that criminalizes anyone deemed to have smeared the “reputation and honor” of the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s canon of heroes and martyrs.

    The draft law bans the illicit appropriation of land and facilities near memorials of heroes and martyrs, as well as any damage or contamination of such memorials. "Those who appropriate, damage or contaminate memorials, and insult or slander heroes and martyrs, may receive administrative penalties from public security or even criminal sanctions." Xinhua and South China Morning Post and Xinhua and Radio Free Asia

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    How to confront a Chinese troll

    Getting attacked by trolls is a constant fact of life for people who post articles about other countries. I've been attacked by trolls from Russia, Syria, China, Burma, Azerbaijan, Zimbabwe, Burundi, and other countries, when they didn't like my article because the facts embarrassed their country or country leader.

    In several recent articles, I've compared China's "Socialism with Chinese characteristics" to Nazi Germany's "National Socialism," and noted that they were very similar. I said the same thing in a recent article on China's military buildup on Bhutan's Doklam Plateau.

    A Chinese troll named "J Y" started attacking me, saying that India was much worse than China. After a few exchanges, I wrote:

    "I could send you links to a thousand Indian media articles that criticize Narendra Modi. You can't post a single link to a Chinese media article that criticizes Xi Jinping."

    What followed was really bizarre. I kept demanding that he post a link to any article that criticizes Xi Jinping. He repeatedly evaded this question, and posted links to left-wing web sites criticizing India.

    Finally, I wrote:

    "Really, this is hilarious. You know, at first I thought you might come up with some article that maybe criticized Xi Jinping in some minor way, maybe the way he combs his hair or something.

    But now I realize that if some article like that even existed, then you couldn't link to it, because then you would be criticizing Xi Jinping, and you would be abducted and thrown into jail by the Chinese Communist Nazis. So you don't dare do anything like that, and all you can do is evade the whole issue.

    China is a country where you can't even post a picture of Winnie the Pooh, because the cartoon character looks too much like Xi Jinping!!!!"

    So this turned out to be a very interesting situation. Dear Reader, if you ever confront a Chinese troll online, just keep demanding that he say anything to criticize Xi Jinping, or link to a Chinese media article criticizing Xi Jinping, and he won't have an answer.

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Dec-17 World View -- Tanzania and China pass new laws to send government critics to jail thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    22-Dec-17 World View -- General Assembly Jerusalem vote: Low 'yes' count humiliates Palestinians

    Palestinians in Jerusalem fail to get excited by UN vote

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    General Assembly Jerusalem vote: Low 'yes' count humiliates Palestinians


    Turkey's president Erdogan at United Nations on Thursday
    Turkey's president Erdogan at United Nations on Thursday

    The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday voted 128-9 with 35 abstentions in favor of a resolution demanding that all states must obey Security Council resolutions, and which supposedly therefore makes the declaration by US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel to be "null and void." The resolution had been sponsored by Turkey and Yemen.

    Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital changes nothing on the ground, so the recognition was little more than symbolic. Thursday's General Assembly resolution is non-binding, so it's completely symbolic. And therefore the Palestinian victory was only symbolic.

    The mainstream media have been calling it "a stinging rebuke to Donald Trump" or a "new repudiation of the Trump administration," or "proof that the United States is isolated in the world" or a "major humiliation for Trump, Israel and the United States."

    The problem is that it was none of those things. It was actually a humiliation for the United Nations and the Palestinians, because the vote 128-9 was far lower than expected, and far lower than votes on Jerusalem-related resolutions in the past:

    In the case of the last two of these resolutions, they both occurred during President Barack Obama's administration, and they were opposed by Obama. So if Thursday's vote was a stinging defeat for Trump, then previous votes must have been stinging defeats for Obama.

    In view of these past votes, the Palestinians had hoped and expected that Thursday's vote would be approved by at least 150 votes. The result of 129 votes was a big humiliation.

    The low vote count was undoubtedly the result of threats by the Trump administration to cut foreign aid to countries that supported the resolution. US ambassador Nikki Haley had said that the U.S. would be "taking names" of those countries.

    This threat prompted numerous furious responses prior to the vote. The most furious was from Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan:

    "Mr. Trump, you cannot buy Turkey's democratic will with your dollars. Our decision is clear.

    I call on the whole world: Don't you dare sell your democratic struggle and your will for petty dollars.

    I hope and expect the US won't get the result it expects from there (the UN) and the world will give a very good lesson to the US."

    In view of the actual vote, it was apparently the United States that gave a very good lesson to the United Nations.

    The question now is: What consequences will the United States have to pay for this threat and this power play?

    President Obama announced a "red line" saying that the US would strike Syria's president Bashar al-Assad if he used chemical weapons. When al-Assad crossed the line and used Sarin gas, Obama flip-flopped on his threat, which was disastrous for American foreign policy.

    Now it seems that President Trump set a "red line," and that many nations crossed the red line on Thursday by voting in favor of the UN resolution. So what's Trump going to do now? Much of that foreign aid is in support of America's own security, and cutting it sharply would be a danger to America. On the other hand, flip-flopping on the red line commitment could be harmful for the administration's credibility. Presumably we'll know the answer soon. United Nations and NBC News and United Nations (30-Nov) and Al Jazeera

    Palestinians in Jerusalem fail to get excited by UN vote

    President Trump's declaration on December 6 of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has infuriated much of the aging leadership of the Palestinians, including Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

    But as for Palestinians "on the street" in Jerusalem, it's generated more cynicism than excitement.

    The average Palestinian is around 20 years old. The Oslo Accords agreement, signed in 1993, was supposed to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli issue, but the average Palestinian knows that the Oslo agreement accomplished nothing, and that nothing has changed, except that their octogenarian leaders are still giving speeches and doing nothing more to change things.

    Palestinian leaders had hoped for several weeks of "days of rage" by thousands of Palestinians in Jerusalem, as occurred in July, when the thousands of Palestinians poured into Jerusalem streets after Israel installed metal detectors outside the al-Aqsa Mosque / Temple Mount compound, in order to deter terrorists. This was the worst violence in Jerusalem for years, but no such violence occurred after Trump's Jerusalem announced. There was brief violence, but it fizzled quickly.

    To the Palestinians in Jerusalem, Thursday's General Assembly angry speeches by Erdogan and Abbas were nothing new. They'd heard the same speeches dozens or hundreds of times before, and nothing changes.

    One Palestinian activist said, "It's a pointless exercise. The Palestinian Authority (PA) has to evaluate the whole diplomatic process of going to the UN. The experience we've had is that for decades now these resolutions have not changed anything." Asia Times and Al Jazeera

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    21-Dec-17 World View -- Burma (Myanmar) blocks UN Rohingya investigator, as genocide charges are raised

    Burma officials, including Aung San Suu Kyi, may face genocide charges

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Burma (Myanmar) blocks UN investigator from investigating atrocities against Rohingyas


    Rohingya boys in Burma search through the ashes of their village after it was burned down by Buddhists (Reuters)
    Rohingya boys in Burma search through the ashes of their village after it was burned down by Buddhists (Reuters)

    Yanghee Lee, the United Nations' special investigator on the Rohingya crisis in Burma (Myanmar), has been blocked from doing any further investigation by officials from Burma. She had previously made several invited visits to Burma as part of her investigation, and was recently invited to come again in January.

    After being barred on Wednesday, Lee said that "there must be something terribly awful happening in Rakhine," referring to years of genocidal attacks on Muslims, especially Muslim Rohingyas, by Buddhists, led by Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu and his "969 movement," where 969 is a historic Buddhist sign, referring to the nine qualities of Buddha, the six qualities of Buddha's teaching, and nine qualities of the Buddhist community. "969" is supposedly a sign of peace and happiness, but Wirathu and the Burmese have turned "969" into a sign of genocide and ethnic cleansing. Buddha must be turning over in his grave.

    In a statement, Lee said:

    "I am puzzled and disappointed by this decision by the Myanmar Government. This declaration of non-cooperation with my mandate can only be viewed as a strong indication that there must be something terribly awful happening in Rakhine, as well as in the rest of the country.

    [After promising continued cooperation two weeks ago,] now I am being told that this decision to no longer cooperate with me is based on the statement I made after I visited the country in July. ...

    The Government has repeatedly denied violations of human rights are occurring throughout Myanmar, particularly in Rakhine state. They have said that they have nothing to hide, but their lack of cooperation with my mandate and the fact-finding mission suggests otherwise."

    What Lee said in July was that it was "unacceptable" that people meeting her were watched and even followed by agents.

    Lee's official title is UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar. She has visited Burma six times since she began her mandate in June 2014, although the government has consistently refused access to some areas. United Nations and Reuters and Al-Jazeera (22-July)

    Burma officials, including Aung San Suu Kyi, may face genocide charges

    Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights, says that after years Buddhist slaughter, rape and ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims, it's possible that Burma's leader, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, may face genocide charges, as well as Gen Aung Min Hlaing, the head of Burma's army.

    Since 2011, I've been using the word "genocide" in an informal sense to describe the atrocities that Burmese Buddhists are conducting against Burma's Muslims, especially the Rohingya Muslims.

    By 2013, thousands of Buddhists were making frenzied attacks on Muslims in cities across Burma, with multiple rapes, murders and atrocities, killing dozens. In one publicized event in the town of Meiktila, Buddhists took 20 Muslim boys from a madrassa, and hacked them to death, soaked their bodies in petrol and set them alight, leaving a blackened patch of ground.

    This was a major milestone in Burma's genocide of Muslims, similar to Kristallnacht, when the Nazi Germans made the same kinds of frenzied, uncontrolled attacks on Jews in 1938.

    These attacks were led by racist Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu, who calls himself the "Buddhist Osama bin Laden." He was pictured on the cover of Time Magazine on July 1, 2013, with a caption, "The Face of Buddhist Terror." He advocates the extermination of all Muslims in Burma, and many Buddhists are killing, raping and mutilating Muslims, burning down their homes and villages, because Wirathu tells them to do it.

    During 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, the massive genocidal attacks by Burma's army on Rohingyas have driven over 600,000 Rohingyas into Bangladesh, killing, raping and mutilating them, burning down their homes and villages.

    The United Nations became particularly alarmed in August 2017 when some Rohingya activists attacked some Burma border posts, triggering a massive increase in the genocide and ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas. An analogy in the US would be that after Black Lives Matter killed a policeman, if the US army started entering black neighborhoods and killing, torturing and raping all the black civilian residents, including women and children.

    Burma's Buddhist genocide of Muslims is the second-worst genocide so far this century, the worst being Bashar al-Assad's Shia/Alawite genocide of Sunnis in Syria. Aung San Suu Kyi is turning out to be the Hitler of Burma's genocide.

    Although I've used the word "genocide" informally, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein is suggesting that it may actually be proven formally in a court of law:

    "For obvious reasons, if you're planning to commit genocide you don't commit it to paper and you don't provide instructions.

    The thresholds for proof are high. But it wouldn't surprise me in the future if a court were to make such a finding on the basis of what we see."

    Zeid said that he spoke to Suu Kyi in February 2017, and asked her to stop the atrocities:

    "I appealed to her to bring these military operations to an end. I appealed to her emotional standing ... to do whatever she could to bring this to a close, and to my great regret it did not seem to happen."

    Ethnic cleansing "clearance operations" by Burma's (Myanmar's) army have driven some 620,000 ethnic Rohingyas from Rakhine State into Bangladesh, threatening to destabilize the entire region. BBC and News Corp (Australia) and Straits Times

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Dec-17 World View -- Burma (Myanmar) blocks UN Rohingya investigator, as genocide charges are raised thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    20-Dec-17 World View -- Thousands of Kurds in violent protests against Kurdistan government in northern Iraq

    Iraq's Baghdad government splits over role of Iran-backed Shia militias

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Thousands of Kurds in violent protests against Kurdistan government in northern Iraq


    Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani issued a religious guidance that called on the Iraqi people to take up arms against ISIS in 2014. Tens of thousands of Shia people answered his call. (AFP)
    Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani issued a religious guidance that called on the Iraqi people to take up arms against ISIS in 2014. Tens of thousands of Shia people answered his call. (AFP)

    Thousands of Kurds attacked several offices of the main political parties of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on Monday and Tuesday. Most of the rioters were teachers, students and civil servants, protesting austerity and unpaid public sector salaries.

    Iraqi Kurds have never gotten along well with any of their neighbors. During Iraq's last generational crisis war, the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s, the climax occurred in 1988 when Saddam Hussein used WMDs (poison gas) on both the Kurds and the Iranians. Because the Kurds want to form an independent Kurdistan, containing pieces from Turkey and Iran as well as Iraq, all three countries have cooperated in putting sanctions on the Kurds.

    Iraq's government in Baghdad allowed the Kurds to self-govern in some limited areas with the formation of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraqi Kurdistan, the region of Iraq predominantly populated by Kurds.

    When the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) captured Mosul in 2014, and took control of much of Iraq, the peshmerga, the Kurdish militias, were a crucial part of the military effort to recapture Iraq from ISIS.

    However, the Kurds were never rewarded for their bravery. After Mosul was recaptured earlier this year, the KRG decided to a referendum on seceding from Iraq and forming an independent Kurdish state. This referendum was opposed almost universally in the international community, and it particularly alarmed all of Kurdistan's neighbors. So the Kurds might have gotten some economic benefits and some additional self-governance, but after the referendum passed on September 25, everybody seemed to ask, "You helped us beat ISIS, but what have you done for me lately?" Iraq, Turkey and Iran cooperated in putting harsh economic sanctions on Kurdistan, and Iraq launched a military operation that recaptured areas that the Kurds were occupying following the war against ISIS.

    The sanctions caused Kurdistan's economy to suffer, and the military operation triggered fights between factions among the Kurds. The fighting has now gone on for two days. Since Iraq is in a generational Awakening era, just one generation past the Iran/Iraq war, there are many survivors of the war that do not want so see the current situation spiral into a bigger civil war. Rudaw (Kurdistan) and Reuters and Rudaw (Kurdistan) and The National (UAE)

    Iraq's Baghdad government splits over role of Iran-backed Shia militias

    Iraq's Shia militias, the Hashd al-Shaabi militia or Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), with links to Iran, were also crucial to the defeat of ISIS in the last two years. However, the PMF were accused of massive human rights abuses, targeting ordinary Sunni citizens in several cities where they fought to expel ISIS.

    Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, in 2014 called on the Iraqi people to take up arms against ISIS. Tens of thousands of Shia people answered his call that then resulted in the birth of the Hashd al-Shaabi.

    Now that ISIS has been defeated, al-Sistani is praising the "historic achievement" of the Hashd forces, but is now saying that the time has come to merge the Hashd militias into the regular Iraqi army.

    The Hashd have 140,000 registered fighters which is about half the size of the Iraqi army. Al-Sistani said that it is the duty of the state to now take care of the Hashd fighters financially and otherwise, and the families of those who lost their loved ones.

    This call has renewed the political conflict between the powerful Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, and the former prime minister Nouri Al-Maliki. Supporters of the two held huge protests that turned violent earlier this year.

    Al-Sadr, who has close links to the ayatollahs in Iran, supports the call. However, al-Maliki, who is building a coalition in preparation for next year's elections, wants to keep them out of the army, so that they will support him next year. If they were in the army, they would be prohibited from having political ties.

    Iraq is in a generational Awakening era, and is in a period of massive political chaos similar to their last generational Awakening era in the 1930s, as I described in my 2007 article, "Iraqi Sunnis are turning against al-Qaeda in Iraq." However, just as the political chaos of the 1930s did not spiral into war, it won't do so today either. Rudaw (Kurdistan)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Dec-17 World View -- Thousands of Kurds in violent protests against Kurdistan government in northern Iraq thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    19-Dec-17 World View -- China resumes military buildup in Bhutan's Doklam Plateau

    China's media predict nuclear war in North Korea by March

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    China resumes military buildup in Bhutan's Doklam Plateau


    New satellite images show Chinese road construction in Doklam region (NDTV)
    New satellite images show Chinese road construction in Doklam region (NDTV)

    New satellite images of the region surrounding Bhutan's Doklam Plateau reveal that China is resuming its military buildup, after pulling back from a military standoff with India during the summer. There are reports that China has positioned in the Doklam region more than 1,000 soldiers who are likely to remain in the area throughout winter for the first time. China built two helicopter platforms, dozens of houses and stores, and upgraded roads to cope with the very severe winter.

    The military confrontation began suddenly and unexpectedly on June 16, when China sent troops and construction workers to begin road construction in Bhutan's Doklam Plateau, with the apparent intention of annexing the region. At Bhutan's request, India sent in troops to prevent the annexation.

    There were no bullets fired, but there were reports of Indian and Chinese soldiers bumping each other with their chests to push each other back. The descriptions of the situation in the Indian media were restrained, to avoid inflaming the situation. The Chinese media were the opposite, with extremely belligerent and vitriolic editorials setting deadlines for India, threatening a Chinese military invasion of India that would destroy India's army, and warning India that its defeat would be even worse than India's defeat in a 1962 border war.

    So when the crisis ended just as suddenly and unexpectedly on August 28, and analysts could only guess at the reasons. During those 73 days, it appeared that China and India were on the verge of a major border war, and it seemed that India would not back down for any reason. Part of the speculation for why China backed down was that a conflict would spill over into Kashmir or into the Indian Ocean, and China did not want a war at that time just before an international meeting to be held in Beijing, to be followed by the 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee is scheduled for October 19.

    The prosaic explanation was that China had backed down so that they could build up their military forces and try again. China says that the new military infrastructure and troops are for peaceful purposes, just as they claim for the South China Sea.

    India's Lt Gen Abhay Krishna of the Eastern Command on Saturday said the Army is totally geared up to face any situation in the Doklam sector:

    "The Indian Army is always in very high spirits, we are always ready to take on any mischief by anybody. I am not going to name anybody specifically. Territorial integrity is ingrained in our blood and for that we will go to any extent to ensure the territorial integrity."

    Sputnik News (Moscow) and New Delhi TV and The Diplomat and Indian Express

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    Foreign ministers of China and India meet, and discuss Doklam


    After their meeting, China's foreign minister Wang Yi used his arm to comfort India's foreign minister, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj (Indian Express)
    After their meeting, China's foreign minister Wang Yi used his arm to comfort India's foreign minister, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj (Indian Express)

    Last week, the foreign ministers of India and China met, and discussed Doklam. India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj held talks with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.

    After the December 11 meeting, Swaraj said:

    "Foreign Minister Wang Yi and I agreed that we should further strengthen our mutual trust to develop a better understanding between the two parties. And it will be better to meet again, and without agenda, which will help us to expand our mutual understanding."

    However, Wang Yi's statement was considerably more blunt:

    "The matter was finally settled peacefully through diplomatic means, reflecting the maturing of bilateral relations. However, lessons should be learned and should be avoided again."

    What lessons was Wang referring to that should be learned? In a speech last week, Wang said:

    "We handled the Indian border troops' trespass into China's Dong Lang (Dokalam) area in our national interest, on just grounds and with restraint.

    Through diplomatic means, we engaged with the Indian side and it withdrew its equipment and personnel."

    A web site reader posted a comment about a time when he asked a Chinese girl whether America and China were going to war:

    "I met a Chinese person at Toastmasters. I asked her this. Her reply was along the lines of 'There will be no war. America just has to grow up and learn its place.'"

    Another web site reader responded to my observation that any criticism of China infuriates them. He wrote: "Spades don't like to be called a Spade. And the main reason they are so touchy is because they think they are the supreme, superior race. So the article's comparison of China to German Nazi National Socialism is spot on." Indian Express

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    China's media predict nuclear war in North Korea by March

    A couple of days ago, I quoted Chinese experts who warn China to prepare for nuclear war in North Korea.

    On Sunday, an article in China state media Global Times quoted Lieutenant General Wang Hongguang as follows:

    "The war on the Korean Peninsula might break out anytime between now and March next year," Wang said, stressing that "China should be psychologically prepared for a potential Korean war, and the Northeast China regions should be mobilized for that."

    "Such mobilization is not to launch a war, but for defensive purposes," he added.

    There are two things of note:

    In my article, I estimated that a war between the US and North Korea would begin within 6-18 months, though 3 months is a possibility. The time frame probably depends more on what North Korea does than anything else.

    Wang suggests that the war would be localized. That may be true for a while, but once these things start, it would start spreading. I would expect it to reach Europe within at most two years. Global Times

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Dec-17 World View -- China resumes military buildup in Bhutan's Doklam Plateau thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    18-Dec-17 World View -- Communists score major election wins in Nepal, possibly moving country towards China

    Nepal reacts to India's bungled meddling over the new constitution

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Communists score major election wins in Nepal, possibly moving country towards China


    Zhangmu in Tibet, in China, just across from the Nepal border (Bob Witlox/Flickr)
    Zhangmu in Tibet, in China, just across from the Nepal border (Bob Witlox/Flickr)

    The country Nepal is a strip of land, about 500 miles long and 100 miles wide, that separates a part of the border between India from China's Tibet. With China and India on the verge of a border war, Nepal becomes extremely important strategically to both India and China.

    Nepal recently held elections under a new constitution adopted in 2015. These elections will elect 275 members to the House of Representatives and 550 representatives to the assemblies of the seven newly-created provinces.

    The elections have been won overwhelmingly by a "Left Alliance" of two hyphenated communist parties -- the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist (UML) and Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Center (MC). These two parties have been locked in adversarial conflict and rivalry for years, but they've put aside their differences in a marriage of convenience to form a governing coalition. The Left Alliance will control not only the national government, but also six of the seven provinces.

    Analysts say that the emergence of the Left Alliance does not necessarily mean that Nepal's voters prefer communism to democracy. Instead, the vote express a new nationalism which has three key components – the search for political stability and peace, the demand for fast and comprehensive development and assertion against India.

    For centuries, Nepal was governed by a Hindu monarchy with close ties to India. In 2001, Crown Prince Dipendra got drunk at a party and gunned down the entire royal family, and then killed himself. Dipendra's motive turned out to be that he had wanted to marry his girlfriend, Devyani Rana, but his parents had refused. This triggered a renewal of a Maoist insurgency that had begun in the 1990s.

    This is Nepal's first free election in a secular republic, replacing the monarchy with an elected government. My República (Nepal) and The Wire (India) and Al Jazeera

    Nepal reacts to India's bungled meddling over the new constitution

    Nepal has long been one of the world's poorest countries, and 2015 was a year with one major disaster after another.

    Two massive earthquakes struck Nepal on April 25 and May 12, 2015. More than 8,800 people were killed, and 600,000 homes were flattened. Millions of people were left with inadequate food, clean water and shelter. Nepal still has not recovered from that disaster.

    The earthquake came at a time when the government was in a state of almost total paralysis, because the constitutional transition Hindu monarchy to a secular republic was in process, triggering massive demonstrations, especially by the Madhesis, a mostly Hindu ethnic group in Nepal's Tarai region on the border with India.

    The new constitution was adopted on September 17. On September 24, the Madhesis began massive demonstrations, blockading the truck traffic passing between India and Nepal. This was a disaster for Nepal's economy, which depends on imports from India for many goods, including petroleum and cooking gas, forcing many manufacturers to shut down.

    Nepal blamed India for the border blockade, saying that India's prime minister Narendra Modi was using the blockade to force Nepal to eliminate clauses in the new constitution that the Madhesis claim discriminate against them. Some people say that the recent victory of the Left Alliance was a reaction to India's bungling two years ago in handling the blockade.

    Nepal media are debating whether the election results mean that Nepal is moving away from India towards China. China has been trying to improve its influence in Nepal since the removal of the Hindu monarchy, and so the victory of the Left Alliance represents a kind of victory. It also allows politicians, even those who favor India, to say that the Left victory is a victory for nationalism and independence from the "Indian bully." However, the Madhesis and other Hindu ethnic groups form 40% of the population, and they would oppose choosing China over India.

    Also, Nepal can't go too far in alienating India, because of the economic dependences. Nepal is a landlocked country, and the only way to transfer goods to or from the Indian Ocean is through India and the port of Vishakhapatnam on the Bay of Bengal.

    Realizing the alarm that many people feel over their victory, the Left Alliance has released a statement:

    "As per the directions made by the constitution of the Nepal, we will develop the relation with friendly nations especially the neighboring countries and the international unions and organizations on the basis of independent foreign policy."

    The statement added, "We, the left power, are committed to form a stable government and fulfill the promises which we made before." My República (Nepal) and ANI (India)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Dec-17 World View -- Communists score major election wins in Nepal, possibly moving country towards China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    17-Dec-17 World View -- Chinese experts warn China to prepare for nuclear war in North Korea

    Concerns grow over the threat of a North Korean nuclear reactor disaster

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Chinese experts warn China to prepare for nuclear war in North Korea


    A North Korean soldier squats along the Yalu River in Sinuiju, North Korea, which borders Dandong in China's Liaoning province, Sept 9, 2017.
    A North Korean soldier squats along the Yalu River in Sinuiju, North Korea, which borders Dandong in China's Liaoning province, Sept 9, 2017.

    Chinese government advisers are warning that "North Korea is a time bomb," and China must prepare for an unpreventable nuclear war on the Korean peninsula. China used to be able to control the North Korean government, but it was losing control, and "Northeast China should mobilize defenses for war."

    Shi Yinhong, a university professor that advises the Beijing government, says that nuclear war is inevitable:

    "Conditions on the peninsula now make for the biggest risk of a war in decades.

    North Korea is a time bomb. We can only delay the explosion, hoping that by delaying it, a time will come to remove the detonator."

    The logic behind this claim is similar to the same logic that many American analysts have been using, and the same logic that I've been writing about. North Korea will not be dissuaded from its goal of having an arsenal of nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles pointed at the United States, which he will use in an extortion to gain control of South Korea, and he will sell the nuclear weapon and ballistic missile technology to rogue states like Iran and Venezuela. Trump will not allow this to happen, and so one way or another a war will begin in the next 6-18 months.

    Nanjing University professor Zhu Feng said that no matter how minor the possibility, China should be prepared psychologically and practically for “a catastrophic nuclear conflict, nuclear fallout or a nuclear explosion":

    "Why do we always act like ostriches? Why do we always believe a war won’t occur?

    What China needs is a sense of urgency about its declining influence in strategy related to the peninsula and the way it brings down China’s status and role in East Asian security issues."

    Chinese analysts give as a principal cause of the imminent war the fact that the US and South Korea hold joint military exercises. South China Morning Post and Newsweek and Quartz and South China Morning Post (9-Dec)

    Concerns grow over the threat of a North Korean nuclear reactor disaster

    A recent video went viral showing North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un standing next to an untested liquid-fueled missile, smoking a cigarette. The video prompted a torrent of tweets expressing regret that Kim’s lit cigarette had not "solved the problem for us."

    The video illustrates the fact that North Korea does not take seriously the need to operate its nuclear reactors safely, as Western nations and China do. Even a small nuclear accident that could normally be contained could turn into a catastrophic disaster if North Korea did not respond quickly and correctly.

    Even a small nuclear accident would generate widespread panic as word began to leak out, because of North Korea's lack of transparency and the fact that they would deny that anything is happening. In the case of Japan's Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster, Japan was completely transparent about what was going on, but there was still public panic. After a disaster in North Korean, the regime would suppress all reporting of the incident, and they would probably refuse help from outside countries. The resulting panic would spread into China, South Korea and Japan. 38 North and South China Morning Post

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Dec-17 World View -- Chinese experts warn China to prepare for nuclear war in North Korea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    16-Dec-17 World View -- China-Australia relations plummet over China's illegal militarization of South China Sea

    Trump to target China's unfair trade policies in National Security Strategy

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    China-Australia relations plummet over China's illegal militarization of South China Sea


    China's continuing military buildup on Fiery Cross island.  This year alone, there was construction on buildings covering 27 acres, or about 110,000 square meters (AMTI/CSIS)
    China's continuing military buildup on Fiery Cross island. This year alone, there was construction on buildings covering 27 acres, or about 110,000 square meters (AMTI/CSIS)

    China's relations with Australia have taken a sharp downturn following the November publication of Australia's "2017 Foreign Policy White Paper," which harshly criticizes China's illegal militarization of the South China Sea. The White Paper says the following:

    "The South China Sea is a major fault line in the regional order. Australia is not a claimant state and does not take sides in the competing claims. Like other non-claimant states, however, we have a substantial interest in the stability of this crucial international waterway, and in the norms and laws that govern it.

    We have urged all claimants to refrain from actions that could increase tension and have called for a halt to land reclamation and construction activities. Australia is particularly concerned by the unprecedented pace and scale of China’s activities. Australia opposes the use of disputed features and artificial structures in the South China Sea for military purposes. We support the resolution of differences through negotiation based on international law.

    All claimants should clarify the full nature and extent of their claims according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The Government reaffirms its position that the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling on the Philippines South China Sea Arbitration is final and binding on both parties."

    According to Australian analyst Nick Bisley, Australia in the past year has become increasingly outspoken in its criticism of Beijing’s behavior, particularly in the South China Sea, but also because of China's interference in Australian domestic affairs. According to Bisley:

    "But after I recently spent a week in China talking to scholars, analysts and commentators, it is also clear that the sourness in Canberra is being reciprocated. The mood among Chinese elites ranges from head scratching puzzlement to outright hostility. The people involved in these discussions are Australia specialists, many have studied here, sent their children to study here and have a generally positive disposition toward to the country. Ordinarily, scholars from China tend to be cautious and often voice their opinions obliquely. Not this time.

    [Australia's] very public backing for the arbitration tribunal decision and its repeated figuring in public pronouncements appears to be a major concern. 'Australia is not a claimant, so why does it make it such an issue?' the Chinese wonder. Indeed, Australia has no disputes or conflicting security interests with China yet it repeatedly emphasizes that China is making the region less secure. This seems to get under the skin of many scholars and commentators."

    The issue, of course, is that China is an international criminal according to a harsh July 2016 ruling by a Tribunal at the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague. ( "13-Jul-16 World View -- Philippines humiliates China in harsh Hague Tribunal ruling over South China Sea") The ruling eviscerated all of China's claims to the South China Sea, and declared its construction of artificial islands and military bases in international waters in the South China Sea to be illegal. Australia Foreign Policy White Paper

    China reacts contemptuously to Australia's foreign policy white paper

    Pretty much any criticism of China infuriates them, but probably nothing infuriates them more than any mention of the July 2016 Tribunal ruling, which essentially made China an international criminal.

    So if Australia is increasingly concerned about China's military threat to the region and the world, then it's not surprising that Australia has frequently made reference to the Tribunal ruling.

    And if Australia is making frequent reference to the Tribunal ruling, then it's not surprising China is directing more and more of bottomless supply of fury at Australia. The Foreign Policy White Paper has drawn a particularly large tsunami of contemptuous criticism from China's media. These criticisms have called the white paper "irresponsible." It labeled Australia a "distant propaganda outpost" agitating against China.

    It called Australia "ungrateful" for not appreciating all of the economic benefits they've had because of China, and threatened that China "could relegate ties with Australia to the back of the line, and ignore its immature outburst."

    What I found very interesting about Bisley's remarks is that the Chinese are supposedly bewildered and puzzled by the criticism, since Australia isn't directly involved in the South China Sea. It's similar to when a man beats up his wife and then is bewildered and puzzled why anyone else should care, since they aren't involved.

    The Australians are of course concerned that China's illegal militarization of the South China Sea could result in a regional war in which Australia will be forced to participate. In fact, Australia is directly involved in the South China Sea as $3 trillion of commercial traffic passes through it each year. China's military belligerence in the South China Sea is of concern to Australia, the whole region, and the whole world.

    For Chinese scholars, analysts and commentators to be bewildered and puzzled by Australia's concern is just a sign of how delusional the Chinese people are, something that I've written about many times as typical in a generational Crisis era. In the case of the Tribunal ruling, some of China's evidence to support it claims turns out to be delusional or a complete hoax. Many Chinese people believe that their dictatorship is inherently stronger than the "weak" Western democracies, and that they'll win any war easily.

    Xi Jinping's 'Socialism with Chinese characteristics' is identical to Hitler's National Socialism. China is becoming a military dictatorship, is annexing other countries' territories as Nazi Germany did in Czechoslovakia and Poland, and is adopting strong nationalist, xenophobic and racist views targeting the Tibetans, Uighurs, Japanese, South Koreans, Philippine people, and Vietnamese.

    As I've written in the past, China is behaving in a highly emotional, irrational, panicky, nationalistic manner, issuing delusional and fabricated evidence to support claims that everybody knows are false claims. China is preparing for a war that it believes it will win, but instead will cause the worst catastrophe in history, to itself and the entire world. China Daily and Lowy Institute (Australia) and Australian Broadcasting

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    China continues aggressive military buildup in the South China Sea

    China's aggressive military buildup in the South China Sea has been out of the news for a while, but not because it hasn't been occurring.

    New imagery released by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) show that China has been aggressively implementing illegal offensive and defensive weapons systems on their artificial islands. According to AMTI:

    "AMTI has identified all the permanent facilities on which China completed or began work since the start of the year. These include buildings ranging from underground storage areas and administrative buildings to large radar and sensor arrays. These facilities account for about 72 acres, or 290,000 square meters, of new real estate at Fiery Cross, Subi, and Mischief Reefs in the Spratlys, and North, Tree, and Triton Islands in the Paracels. This does not include temporary structures like storage containers or cement plants, or work other than construction, such as the spreading of soil and planting of grass at the new outposts."

    According to AMTI, "China is poised to substantially boost its radar and signals intelligence capabilities." There's an irony here that this is the same kind of capability that comes with America's Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile defense systems. China has been infuriated that there are THAAD systems deployed in South Korea, but at least those are legal. China's radar systems in the South China Sea are a violation of international law. Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (CSIS/AMTI) and Reuters

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    Trump to target China's unfair trade policies in National Security Strategy

    President Donald Trump will target China by alleging unfair trade policies in a National Security Strategy (NSS) to be released on Monday. Trump will accuse China of exploiting the international trade system. According to the current draft:

    "The United States helped to expand the liberal economic trading system to countries that did not share our values in the hopes that these states would liberalize their economic and political practices, and provide commensurate benefits to the United States. Experience now suggests that these countries distorted and undermined key economic institutions without prompting significant reform of their economies or politics."

    Since taking office, Trump has sought to maintain friendly relations with China, even treating China's president Xi Jinping as a kind of BFF, in order to elicit cooperation on the North Korea nuclear missile crisis.

    This new NSS statement appears to be at least a partial U-turn on that policy, at a time when relations between Australia and China are reaching a new low. Free Beacon

    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Dec-17 World View -- China-Australia relations plummet over China's illegal militarization of South China Sea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    15-Dec-17 World View -- Despite growing migration crises, European Union bitterly divided over policy

    European Union continues to face crises regarding migration

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    European Union continues to face crises regarding migration


    Child migrant in Greek refugee camp (AFP)
    Child migrant in Greek refugee camp (AFP)

    After receiving millions of migrants in 2015 from the Mideast and northern Africa, the European Union implemented some stopgap measures to control the situation.

    Each of these methods has been extremely successful in significantly reducing the flow of migrants from Turkey and Libya, respectively. However, in a sense they haven't solved the problem at all, but instead stretched it out.

    Furthermore, with winter approaching, the season of heaviest migration is ending for now, but there will be a new surge of migration within just a few months.

    Current and approaching problems include the following:

    Al-Jazeera and PRI and Amnesty International and EurActiv (20-Oct) and Reuters

    Bitter divisions emerge at EU summit over migration issues

    With the vast majority of migrants to Europe reaching Greece or Italy first, these two countries have been overwhelmed. Both countries have begged for help from the European Commission (EC), but there's been little help beyond rhetoric.

    In 2015, the EU adopted a migrant quota system last year that was supposed to relocate 160,000 refugees from Greece and Italy to other EU countries. The plan fell apart because few countries were willing to accept their quotas, and Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland and Romania refused to resettle any refugees at all. In the end, only about 30,000 refugees were ever resettled under this plan.

    At an EU summit on Thursday that was supposed to be a show of EU solidarity and unity, especially with the Brexit talks going on. But bitter political divisions erupted after EU President Donald Tusk described the refugee quota program as "divisive and ineffective," and called for it to be replaced.

    According to a letter issued by Tusk, the migrant program will once again reach crisis levels by June of next year:

    "After the unprecedented migratory pressure on its external border in 2015, the European Union and its Member States are gradually restoring control. However, the migration challenge is here to stay for decades, especially due to the demographic trends in Africa. Despite our efforts, the smugglers are working energetically to exploit further vulnerabilities at our borders. A crisis situation can reoccur and so in order to prepare ourselves, we need to categorically strengthen our migration policy. To achieve this, we should first look at what has and has not worked in the past two years. On this basis, we should establish an effective and sustainable migration policy based on secure external borders and the prevention of mass arrivals. It also requires finding a consensus by June 2018 on the internal dimension of our migration policy, based on the concepts of responsibility and solidarity."

    Tusk says the existing quota system has to be scrapped and replaced by a new system before June 2018. He concludes by saying:

    "On the basis of the discussion, Leaders will return to these issues with a view to seeking a consensus in June 2018. If there is no solution by then, including on the issue of mandatory quotas, the President of the European Council will present a way forward."

    The quota system has essentially been a fiction, but a fiction that allowed the EU member countries to pretend to their domestic audience that the problems had been solved. Germany, Italy and the Netherlands have led criticism of Tusk's proposal. Greece's prime minister Alexis Tsipras said that Tusk's comments were "aimless, ill-timed and pointless." Italy's prime minister, Paolo Gentiloni, said, “We will continue to insist that a commitment on the relocation of refugees is needed.”

    Three countries, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic, came out in favor of Tusk's proposal because they have no intention of implementing a quota system anyway. In explaining why Poland would not accept any refugees, Poland's prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki said, "It is worth investing considerable amounts of money in helping refugees in (regions) they are fleeing from. The help on the ground there is much more effective."

    The Czech Republic's prime minister Andrej Babis, said that "It won't happen," and any attempt to impose "nonsensical" quotas in a majority vote would only widen the divisions in the EU.

    In response to Hungary's refusal to accept refugees, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has described Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orbán as ‘shameless’ for refusing to accept any refugees and attempting to buy off his obligations with money. Guardian (London) and Reuters and Dutch News

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    14-Dec-17 World View -- Organization of Islamic Cooperation throws a temper tantrum over Jerusalem

    Palestinians disappointed by final communiqué of OIC Summit

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Organization of Islamic Cooperation throws a temper tantrum over Jerusalem


    A furious Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas shakes his finger on Wednesday as he makes a point (AFP)
    A furious Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas shakes his finger on Wednesday as he makes a point (AFP)

    The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held an "extraordinary" meeting on Wednesday in Istanbul, Turkey, to protest last week's declaration by president Donald Trump to order the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel.

    A furious Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas announced that because the United States is biased in favor of Israel, it will be shut out as a mediator in the peace process:

    "The decision violated international law.

    We shall not accept any role for the United States in the peace process. They have proven their full bias in favor of Israel.

    Jerusalem is and will forever be the capital of the Palestinian state... There will be no peace, no stability without that.

    We will tell the Israelis that we are no longer committed to any agreement from Oslo until today."

    Abbas said that he had promised the US not to try to become a full member of the United Nations, but now said that the Palestinian Authority intended to return to the United Nations to to gain full membership:

    "We agreed with America we would not join international institutions on the condition that American does not transfer its embassy, does not initiate any action against our office in Washington, and orders Israel to freeze settlement building.

    If there is no Palestinian state along the June 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital, there will not be peace in the region, in the territories or in the world. They must choose."

    Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Israel a "terror state" and called on world powers to recognize east Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine:

    "With this decision [by the US to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital], Israel, which is responsible for occupation, blockade, unlawful settlements, home demolitions, evictions, land asset appropriations, disproportionate violence and murders, was rewarded for all its terrorist actions. ...

    I invite all countries supporting international law to recognize Jerusalem as the occupied capital of Palestine. We cannot be late any more.

    The process to include Palestine in international agreements and institutions should be sped up."

    The meeting was attended by some 22 heads of state or government, including those from Iran, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Sudan, Somalia, Azerbaijan, and Jordan. In addition, some 25 foreign ministers, including from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Kazakhstan, are expected to attend. Saudi Arabia will be represented by its Islamic affairs minister. Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Deutsche Welle and Jerusalem Post and Times of Israel

    Palestinians disappointed by final communiqué of OIC Summit

    For several years, Palestinians have been expressing frustration that the "Palestinian issue" has been largely forgotten by the international media. Palestinian-Israeli relations used to be one of the top four or five international stories every day, but in the last 2-3 years that issue has been displaced by the war in Syria, Brexit, the North Korean crisis, and other crises.

    Palestinian hopes were raised in July, when the thousands of Palestinians poured into Jerusalem for "days of rage," after Israel installed metal detectors outside the al-Aqsa Mosque / Temple Mount compound, in order to deter terrorists. This was the worst violence in Jerusalem for years, killing several people and injuring hundreds. The Palestinian cause was once again an international news story, and they hoped that it would remain so.

    The story fizzled out, and when Trump announced that the US would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Palestinian leaders called for more "days of rage," hoping at least to duplicate the intensity of last July's protests, but instead they fizzled out after a couple of days.

    Led by fiery speeches from Abbas and Erdogan, the hope was that this summit would reignite international attention. Here are some excerpts from the resolutions in the final communiqué:

    "1- Reject and condemn in the strongest terms the unilateral decision by the President of the United States America recognizing Al-Quds [Jerusalem] as the so-called capital of Israel, the occupying Power; reject it as null and void legally, and consider it an attack on the historical, legal, natural and national rights of the Palestinian people, a deliberate undermining of all peace efforts, an impetus to extremism and terrorism, and a threat to international peace and security; ...

    3- Reaffirm our attachment to the just and comprehensive -peace based on the two-state solution with east Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine. ...

    6- Hold the US Administration fully liable for all the consequences of not retracting from this illegal decision; and regard it as an announcement of the US Administration's withdrawal from its role as sponsor of peace and its realization among all stakeholders and an encouragement of Israel, the occupying Power, to continue its policy of colonialism, settlement, apartheid and the ethnic cleansing it has been practicing in the occupied Palestinian territory in 1967, and in the City of Al-Quds Al-Sharif at its core; ...

    8- Declare East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine and invite all countries to recognize the State of Palestine and East Jerusalem as its occupied capital."

    Many analysts consider the OIC Summit to be a failure for several reasons.

    First, it was missing important leaders, notably from Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Both of these countries have recently developed close relations with Israel, and are thought to have given tacit approval to the Jerusalem declaration before it was made.

    Second, the final communiqué was entirely symbolic. It made the usual boilerplate condemnations of Israel and the United States, but there were no significant follow-on steps listed.

    Third, the recommendation to remove the US as Mideast mediator and replace it with someone else is completely unrealistic. There was talk of using the United Nations as a mediator, but that will never produce anything but rhetoric.

    Fourth, al-Jazeera "man in the street" interviews in Jerusalem after the Summit ended indicated that Palestinians were completely unimpressed with the Summit, because it didn't accomplish anything. OIC Final Communiqué (PDF) and AP and Al-Jazeera

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    13-Dec-17 World View -- China's warplanes conduct 'encirclement' patrols around Taiwan's and Japan's islands

    China unification continues to lose support among the people of Taiwan

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    China's warplanes conduct 'encirclement' patrols around Taiwan's and Japan's islands


    China military parade (China Daily)
    China military parade (China Daily)

    China’s air force has conducted “island encirclement patrols” through international airspace near Taiwan and between the Japanese islands of Okinawa and Miyako in the East China Sea. The People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) sent two Xian long-range bombers, two fighter jets, an electronic countermeasures aircraft, and an electronic intelligence plane.

    China has conducted this kinds of patrols before, but these patrols were considerably more extensive than in the past. According to China's state media:

    "The PLA Air Force focused on combat readiness and has conducted a series of offshore and maritime training. The PLA warplanes' flight paths are continuously extended, with combat readiness growing accordingly.

    The PLA Air Force's actions are justified and consistent with international laws and practices. The PLA Air Force will stick to its set plans and continue to fly further and deeper.

    The air force started regular high seas training in 2015. The PLA planes circling the island of Taiwan will become routine during their training."

    China has conducted numerous similar patrols near Taiwan this year, saying such practices have been normalized as it presses ahead with a military modernization program that includes building aircraft carriers and stealth fighters to give it the ability to project power far from its shores. The Diplomat and Reuters and Global Times

    Encirclement patrols follow explicit Chinese war threats against Taiwan

    The latest encirclement patrol is thought to be a show of force following an explicit threat made last week by a Chinese diplomat in Washington.

    Li Kexin, a Chinese embassy official, last Friday said that he has been thanking Congressional aides for providing China with a reason to use force to resolve the Taiwan question.

    "I may have to thank you American friends. I said: ‘Are you not going to send military vessels to Taiwan, to [Taiwan's port of] Kaohsiung?' If you send military vessels over there, [you] will activate the Anti-Secession Law [of China]."

    Picking this apart, Li is making a joke. He's referring to suggestions from American officials that the US Navy should make port calls at ports in Taiwan, as it does in many other countries. Li is saying that any US naval vessel at Taiwan's largest port, Kaohsiung, would trigger China's Anti-Secession Law, followed by an invasion by China's armed forces to take control of Taiwan.

    The Anti-secession law provoked massive Taiwan riots when it passed in March, 2005. It orders the army to invade Taiwan if any Taiwanese official makes any move toward independence, whether by word or by deed.

    Excerpts of the law are as follows:

    "Article 2: There is only one China in the world. Both the mainland and Taiwan belong to one China. China's sovereignty and territorial integrity brook no division. Safeguarding China's sovereignty and territorial integrity is the common obligation of all Chinese people, the Taiwan compatriots included.

    Taiwan is part of China. The state shall never allow the "Taiwan independence" secessionist forces to make Taiwan secede from China under any name or by any means. ...

    Article 8: In the event that the "Taiwan independence" secessionist forces should act under any name or by any means to cause the fact of Taiwan's secession from China, or that major incidents entailing Taiwan's secession from China should occur, or that possibilities for a peaceful reunification should be completely exhausted, the state shall employ non-peaceful means and other necessary measures to protect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity."

    I've written about the Anti-Secession law many times since 2005, and I've pointed out many times that statements by Taiwanese officials seemed to be promoting independence, and that therefore already should trigger the Anti-Secession Law. On the other hand, it's hard to see why a port call by a naval vessels, so that the American soldiers could visit Taipei's bars and perhaps get a drink or a date, would be promoting independence at all.

    Since the threat was issued by a low-level Chinese diplomat in Washington, and was phrased as a joke, it's hard to see the threat as intended to be serious. In fact, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman seemed to play down the threat when asked about it:

    "The position of the Chinese government on the Taiwan issue, which I believe you and all the journalists here are quite clear about, is consistent and clear. We will continue adhering to the policy of "peaceful reunification and one country, two systems" in an effort to advance the peaceful development of cross-straits relations and promote the process of peaceful reunification of our motherland. Meanwhile, we will firmly uphold national sovereignty and territorial integrity and never tolerate the recurrence of the historical tragedy of national division."

    However, China's state media Global Times is issuing a veiled warning that Taiwan's ruling DPP party and the US do not understand the full impact of the anti-secession law, and that an invasion could come at any time:

    "The island under the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has become deficient of both direction and sense of security.

    The Chinese mainland has never given up the option of Taiwan reunification by force, which is clear to people across the Taiwan Straits. But Taiwan is not sure what will prompt the PLA's actions while the DPP has been deceiving Taiwanese that the island will stay safe whatever it does.

    Taiwan knows so little of the mainland's Anti-Secession Law. The DPP is already approaching the boundary of the law and leading Taiwan to a wrong direction. The sustainability of the island's development remains uncertain.

    Li's words have sent a warning to Taiwan and drew a clear red line. If Taiwan attempts to hold an independence referendum or other activities in pursuit of de jure "Taiwan independence," the PLA will undoubtedly take action.

    This is the cornerstone of Beijing's policy on Taiwan that can't be shaken and also the will of the entire Chinese nation. ...

    Li's words are like warning bells on Taiwan authorities considering independence by a salami-slicing strategy. Taiwan is facing what Peking faced in 1949 - being encircled by mainland forces. Any move that oversteps the boundary will be in vain."

    Maritime Executive and Reuters and China Embassy (15-Mar-2005) and China's Foreign Ministry and Global Times

    China unification continues to lose support among the people of Taiwan

    As I've been describing for years, Taiwan's attitudes toward unifying Taiwan with China have been increasingly favoring independence, as younger generations with no memory of the Chinese civil war displace the survivors that war, when they fled Mao Zedong and China's mainland in 1949 for the island of Formosa, which eventually became part of the current Taiwan.

    Taiwan's current government party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), has favored Taiwan's independence since it became prominent in the 1990s, as a reaction to China's Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989.

    The opposing party is Kuomintang (KMT), which was the party formed by the Chinese who fled Mao for Formosa. They have traditionally favored Taiwan's unification with China, with the caveat that they consider Taiwan's to be the legitimate government of all of China.

    The name-calling between the DPP and KMT has been pretty harsh over the years, so I was a bit surprised to read the following in a Taipei News news story about the invasion threat:

    "Meanwhile, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Culture and Communications Committee deputy director-general Hung Meng-kai said that the KMT would not tolerate any threats or finger-pointing aimed at the Republic of China’s [Taiwan's] homeland or the security of its people.

    The DPP administration should face up to the importance of maintaining peaceful cross-strait relations and avoid any unnecessary misunderstandings that could cause irrepressible losses to Taiwan, he added."

    I interpret this as a sign that China's unending stream of belligerent threats aimed at Taiwan is causing the KMT and DPP to move closer together and become more unified in opposing unification with China. This isn't the least bit surprising in view of China's extremely vitriolic attacks on Taiwan's politicians, especially DPP politicians.

    Chinese officials are aware of this trend, and although they pay lip service to "peaceful unification," everybody is well aware that there will never be peaceful unification. China is biding its time, waiting for the right trigger to justify an invasion. It's possible, though unlikely, that a mere port call would be enough to trigger a major war, though anything is possible. Taipei Times and China Policy Analysis (22-Mar-2016) and The Diplomat

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    12-Dec-17 World View -- Pakistan overwhelmed and China alarmed over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

    Pakistan alarmed about a Chinese 'debt trap'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    China alarmed by consequences of its CPEC investment in Pakistan -- terrorism and corruption


    A truck drives along the China-Pakistan Friendship Highway in China's western Xinjiang province. (AFP)
    A truck drives along the China-Pakistan Friendship Highway in China's western Xinjiang province. (AFP)

    The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has almost become an erotic fantasy. It's a $55-60 billion 20-year project that 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.

    For economic basket case Pakistan, the benefits are obvious -- a tsunami of money that will overwhelm its existing debt problems, for example allowing easy payment of the $6.1 billion that Pakistan owes to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

    The benefits are also obvious for China. The transportation networks from China to the Indian Ocean will connect China economically and militarily to its other ports and bases in the Indian Ocean, bypassing the risks of naval travel associated with problems like the South China Sea, the Straits of Malacca, and the waters around India.

    But since the agreement was signed in March, China has become alarmed by the potential problems in two major areas: corruption and terrorism.

    The CPEC project will bring thousands of Chinese workers into Pakistan, particularly into Balochstan, where most of the CPEC work will be performed.

    As we reported in June, the ISIS-linked Al Alami offshoot of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJA) is believed responsible for the abduction and execution of two Chinese nationals working in Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochstan.

    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. But now LeJA is apparently turning its attention from slaughtering Shias and Sufis in Pakistan to the slaughter of thousands of Chinese workers and families who have come to Balochistan to work on CPEC.

    Four days ago, China warned its Chinese citizens in Pakistan of plans plans for a series of imminent "terrorist attacks" on Chinese workers there:

    "It is understood that terrorists plan in the near term to launch a series of attacks against Chinese organizations and personnel in Pakistan.

    The embassy alerts all Chinese organizations and citizens in Pakistan to stay vigilant, safeguard personal security, reduce time spent outside and avoid going to crowded places as much as possible."

    There have been reports that China's Uighur separatist group the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) had “sneaked into Pakistan” and posed a threat to Chinese nationals.

    On November 20, China issued "new guidelines" for the CPEC project, stipulating greater involvement of Pakistan's army in the project to improve the security of Chinese nationals.

    It's worth pointing out that Pakistan's army has not been successful in preventing terror attacks on its own civilian population, and has been accused of distinguishing between "bad terrorists," who perpetrate terrorist attacks within Pakistan, and "good terrorists," who perpetrate terrorist attacks within India and Pakistan. It's possible that these "good terrorists" are now turning their attention to the thousands of Chinese workers moving into Balochistan, near the border with Afghanistan.

    South China Morning Post (9-June) and Reuters

    China halts CPEC funds over concerns about corruption in Pakistan

    In a recent speech, Mohammad Zubair, the governor of Pakistan's Sindh province, said that the world was witnessing a historic moment, thanks to China's mega-investment plans, which will make Pakistan a regional leader. According to Zubair:

    "Pakistan’s economy was facing uncertain situation in 2013. The government worked day and night in its first three years to revive country’s economy and our hard work has put the economy on the path of prosperity. Pakistan Stock exchange is now the best stock exchange of region and its rise is a proof of the government’s successful economic policies."

    So Pakistani officials were shocked on November 20, when China unexpectedly withheld funds for continuing development of three projects under CPEC, citing massive graft and corruption, and laid out "new guidelines" for how funds for the CPEC project will be disbursed. Previously approved financing will have to be resubmitted through new procedures before funds can be committed.

    China has become alarmed by the volatility of Pakistan's civilian government, including the dismissal of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on charges of graft and corruption, after some of his financial deal were revealed by the Panama Papers. The terror threats against Chinese citizens in Pakistan is one reason why China is stipulating greater involvement of Pakistan's military, while another reason is that China has lost faith in the civilian government and wants the army to take responsibility for the project.

    According to an analyst:

    "Had corruption been the reason behind the Chinese step (to block funds), it would, or perhaps should, have happened in July, when in the context of the Panama Papers, the former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his relatives were charged with financial irregularities and corruption, which prompted the Pakistani Supreme Court to declare Nawaz Sharif 'unfit' for political office, resulting in his dismissal from the Office of the Prime Minister of the country."

    Despite the temporary cutoff of funds, a Chinese official visiting Islamabad sought to reassure Pakistanis that all was well, and that China wanted to build "a clean corridor, a corridor of integrity":

    "I want to express our strong conviction and determination to press ahead the CPEC to deliver more benefits to the people of Pakistan. ...

    We want to build a CPEC that is a clean corridor, a corridor of integrity.

    We should also guard against the interference from external forces and also prevent the domestic disturbances ... to promote the CPEC construction, so that we can make CPEC a pathway of common development, a pathway of shared fruits and the shared future."

    The unexpected cutoff of funds was a strong message to Pakistan that China is paying the money, and China is dictating the terms, and the project will be done China's way or not at all. Dawn (Pakistan) and Daily Times (Pakistan) and Times of India and Express Tribune (Pakistan)

    Pakistan alarmed about a Chinese 'debt trap'

    As time goes by and the euphoria about China's $55 billion investment in Pakistan begins to where off, some people are beginning to wonder if CPEC will actually be a financial disaster for Pakistan.

    We've already described what happened with Sri Lanka, when China invested $1.2 billion in Sri Lanka's Hambantota seaport in 2009. The plan was that revenue generated by the seaport would be used to repay the Chinese, and the surplus would bring wealth and happiness to all Sri Lankans. It didn't turn out that way, and the project turned out to be a "debt trap." Sri Lanka couldn't repay the loan, and now China has taken control the seaport and the surrounding area. It's been a disaster for Sri Lanka.

    China's CPEC investment is supposed to be paid off the same way. The CPEC projects would generate revenue from trucks carrying goods along the CPEC roads and highways. According to analyst estimates, this turns out to be a fantasy, based on the most optimistic assumptions possible, just as happened with the Sri Lanka seaport project. If any of these super-optimistic assumptions fail, which is what usually happens in real life, then Pakistan's current debt of $6.1 billion to the IMF will look like chicken feed. Instead of being a financial bonanza, the debt burden will crush Pakistan's economy.

    The IMF has examined the CPEC plans and is said to be "appalled" at the implications of the project. Its main concern was that Pakistan’s repayment capacity will remain weak, as the IMF does not see any major increase in exports in the near future. Express Tribune (Pakistan) and Express Tribune (26-Oct)

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    11-Dec-17 World View -- China takes control of strategic Hambantota seaport in Sri Lanka, raising concerns in India

    India's alarm grows over spread of China's 'Maritime Silk Road'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Sri Lanka formally hands its southern seaport Hambantota over to China


    China gives Sri Lanka a check for $292,097,400.00 as the first payment for Hambantota port (Colombo Page)
    China gives Sri Lanka a check for $292,097,400.00 as the first payment for Hambantota port (Colombo Page)

    China on Saturday formally handed control of its southern port of Hambantota in return for $292,097,400.00, as the first payment on a 99-year lease.

    In 2009, China invested $1.2 billion in the port as part of its "string of pearls" strategy to surround India with ports accessible to China's navy. 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. The result was that Sri Lanka's government has been forced to give China a 99-year lease to take over the port.

    The announcement in January of this year triggered violent protests by thousands of Sri Lanka's Buddhist monks and anti-government protesters. Protestors said that thousands of Sri Lankans will lose their homes because of the project.

    And then thousands of Chinese families will migrant to the land adjacent to the port, establishing a "Chinese colony" on Sri Lankan soil that will grow and can never be removed.

    Many Sri Lankans are accusing China of having purposely set a "debt trap" in 2009, loaning money at extremely high interest rates, knowing that Sri Lanka would be unable to repay the debt, and would be forced to give away Sri Lankan assets to China.

    However, Sri Lanka's prime minister Ranil Wickremesingh sees the project in a much more positive light:

    "The unity government expects to develop and operate the Hambantota Port to make it a main port in the Indian Ocean. ... There will be industrialization in the area which will lead to economic development and promote tourism."

    The government pledged to pay the debt taken by the previous government for these projects loans. With this agreement we have started to pay back those loans. We are going to develop the Hambantota port without burdening the masses. We get US$ 300 million today. We deposit this amount in foreign reserves. The future generation can go forward without a burden. We have taken steps to make Sri Lanka the hub of the Indian Ocean. We thank the Chinese government and its representatives at this occasion."

    The government will receive another 10 percent, or around $100 million, in a month and another $585 million in six months. Colombo Page (Sri Lanka) and South China Morning Post and The Hindu

    India's alarm grows over spread of China's 'Maritime Silk Road'

    China's Maritime Silk Road, also known as the "String of Pearls," is a sea-based network of shipping lanes and port developments throughout the Pacific and Indian oceans to the Mediterranean Sea and Europe. The port in Sri Lanka adds to ports that China controls in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Maldives, Pakistan and Djibouti. China even has a controlling stake in Greece's port of Piraeus on the Mediterranean Sea.

    India has been increasingly alarmed about being encircled by China's "One Belt One Road" (OBOR) project, including the Maritime Silk Road. Sri Lanka has attempted to allay India’s security concerns, Sri Lanka has repeatedly claimed that no Chinese naval facility would be permitted. However, India remains concerned that one day China's influence will reach a point where Sri Lanka can't say no.

    This situation has resulted in a new controversy: India wants to buy the Rajapaksa International Airport, which is adjacent to the Port of Hambantota.

    Rajapaksa International Airport is being called the "world's emptiest airport." The port is said to be beautiful, and a tourist attraction. But it's almost completely unused. It has a full complement of employees, most of whom stand looking bored, but it handles only one international flight per week. The airport was built along with the port, and it's part of the financial disaster that has resulted from the project, and forced Sri Lanka to lease the port to China.

    It's not known what India plans to do with the airport, but it's suspected that India wants to keep it empty to prevent its use by Chinese warplanes.

    The port deal with China was signed almost ten years ago when the prime minister was Mattala Rajapaksa, who named the airport after himself. But now his son, Namal Rajapaksa, who an opposition MP who may one day become prime minister, is demanding that the deal with India be cancelled, warning that the government should not to allow the country become a "pawn" in international power politics, saying that the government decision on the airport would lead to serious national security and defense implications, with Chinese and Indian forces in close proximity to one another. India Times and Lowy Institute (Australia) and Press Trust of India

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    10-Dec-17 World View -- Protests fizzle 3 days after Trump's Jerusalem announcement was universally condemned

    Trump's proclamation hardens splits among Arab countries

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Protests fizzle 3 days after Trump's Jerusalem announcement was universally condemned


    Israeli troops clash with Palestinian demonstrators in Ramallah on Thursday (Sky News)
    Israeli troops clash with Palestinian demonstrators in Ramallah on Thursday (Sky News)

    Wednesday's proclamation by president Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel, and to relocate the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, has roiled international media and politicians around the world.

    International reaction was negative to the point of being hysterical.

    Pope Francis said:

    "I cannot silence my deep concern over the situation that has emerged in recent days. At the same time, I appeal strongly for all to respect the city's status quo, in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions."

    EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said:

    "[The announcement] has a very worrying potential impact. It is a very fragile context and the announcement has the potential to send us backwards to even darker times than the ones we are already living in." The worst thing that could happen now is an escalation of tensions around the holy places and in the region because what happens in Jerusalem matters to the whole region and the entire world."

    Britain's Labor shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said that he had taken a "hammer blow" to the peace process, and that "He is setting it back decades."

    Although these remarks are all underpinned by the usual hate-Israel hate-Trump hate-America attitudes that are prevalent, there is an underlying logic: It's pretty clear that the Mideast is headed for all-out war, and the remarks reflect a fear that Trump's announcement will trigger that war.

    In fact, Hamas leader Ismail Haniya, called for a new "intifada", or uprising:

    "The American decision is an aggression against our people. It's a declaration of war against our Palestinian people,

    We should call for and we should work on launching an intifada in the face of the Zionist enemy"

    Haniya has repeatedly been trying to incite an intifada. News stations like the BBC and al-Jazeera were almost gleefully reporting anti-Israeli marches and riots in countries from Indonesia to Germany.

    But that was on the first day. By Saturday, the third day, almost all the protests appeared to have fizzled out, as reported by the BBC and al-Jazeera with a tone of disappointment.

    A number of commentators tried to give reasons why the protests had fizzled out. They all gave some version of the following reasons:

    These reasons are ironic because if the new intifada had taken off, and there were major Palestinian street protests with rioting and demonstrations, then the same analysts would have explained that with exactly the same list of reasons.

    The real reason is that it's impossible to predict the exact timing of popular street protests, any more than you can predict the exact timing of stock market crashes. You can predict that they're coming with absolute certainly, but you don't know if it will be next week, next month, or next year.

    None of the news shows that I heard attempted to explain the logic of Trump's proclamation, as he stated in his speech:

    Presidents issued these waivers under the belief that delaying the recognition of Jerusalem would advance the cause of peace. Some say they lacked courage, but they made their best judgments based on facts as they understood them at the time. Nevertheless, the record is in. After more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result.

    Therefore, I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. ...

    I've judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. This is a long-overdue step to advance the peace process and to work towards a lasting agreement. ...

    That is why, consistent with the Jerusalem Embassy Act, I am also directing the State Department to begin preparation to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This will immediately begin the process of hiring architects, engineers, and planners, so that a new embassy, when completed, will be a magnificent tribute to peace."

    In other words, as I've been saying for years, and as pretty much everybody knows by this time, there is zero probability that the "peace process" between Israel and the Palestinians is going to achieve anything. I had to laugh when one analyst was asked whether the peace process was already dead, said that was true, but Trump's announcement makes it even less likely. I guess this analyst wasn't aware that if the probability of an event occurring is already zero, then it can't go any lower, and so Trump's proclamation would leave the chances of a successful peace process unchanged.

    But carrying this logic one step further, if the probability of a successful peace agreement is zero, then the probability could go up, and Trump's proclamation might change the politics in the region to make a peace treaty possible. That in fact is what Trump is claiming, and there are reports that the administration will be presenting a new peace plan soon.

    Trump is using exactly the same kind of logic with respect to North Korea. After three decades of appeasement of North Korea, we're headed for a disaster when North Korea will have an arsenal of nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles pointed at the United States, which he will try to use in an extortion to gain control of South Korea, and he will sell the nuclear weapon and ballistic missile technology to rogue states like Iran and Venezuela. Trump's tweets have been very aggressive and threatening toward North Korea, much to the dismay of the international community, but the objective is to try something different from the policies that have been failing for three decades.

    Unfortunately, the Generational Dynamics prediction doesn't change. 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.

    Trump's proclamation about Jerusalem, and Trump's tweets about North Korea could change the scenario by which the Generational Dynamics predictions occur, but the final outcomes cannot change. And no one can predict what will trigger the coming Mideast war. So it's possible that Trump's critics will turn out to be right, and that his proclamation will turn out to be the trigger for new street riots next week, and for the coming war. White House and Sky News and BBC and Times of Israel and Debka (Israel)

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    Trump's proclamation hardens splits among Arab countries

    No Arab country could publicly support Trump's proclamation, or even fail to criticize as the latest blow to Palestinian dreams. Doing so would create an enormous backlash within the Arab community. However, it's turning out that the proclamation has been splitting Arab countries along lines that we've seen before.

    The key is Saudi Arabia. Officials representing Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) described the decision as "unjustified and irresponsible" and "a big step back in efforts to advance the peace process and is a violation of the historically neutral American position on Jerusalem."

    But behind the scenes, Saudi Arabia is said to be "on board" with the decision and the broader US strategy. Saudi Arabia has for decades depended heavily on the United States and the west for security, which the West provides in exchange for a reliable supply of Mideast oil. Furthermore, MBS and Israel are becoming very strongly aligned with regard to what they see as their greatest common existential threat: Iran.

    So Saudi Arabia has provided a muted criticism to the proclamation, and so have the UAE and Egypt. These are the countries that implemented a land, sea and air blockade against Qatar last summer, and that blockade is still in place.

    On the other side, we see Iran, Jordan and Turkey harshly critical. These are the same countries on the other side of the Saudi blockade. Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said:

    "[Trump is] throwing the region into a ring of fire. What do you want to do Mr Trump? What kind of an approach is this? Political leaders exist not to create struggles but to make peace."

    When I can, I like to quote Marwan Bishara, the principal analyst from Qatar-based al-Jazeera, and clearly represents the Qatar position. Bishara hates Israel a great deal, but he hates the Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas even more because he sees them as traitors, selling out the Palestinians to Israel.

    On Saturday, Bishara said that Saudi Arabia and Trump are going to give half of the West Bank to Israel, and that "The Saudis are sacrificing Palestine to create some sort of a front against Iran." Reuters and Middle East Monitor and Reuters and Debka (7-Dec)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Dec-17 World View -- Protests fizzle 3 days after Trump's Jerusalem announcement was universally condemned thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    9-Dec-17 World View -- United Nations stunned as peacekeepers are massacred in DR Congo

    Violence continues to spread in countries across Africa

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    United Nations stunned as peacekeepers are massacred in DR Congo


    Graph showing that the number of armed conflicts in Africa has been growing fairly steadily since the end of World War II (IDMC)
    Graph showing that the number of armed conflicts in Africa has been growing fairly steadily since the end of World War II (IDMC)

    The worst attack on United Nations peacekeepers in recent history killed 15 people and wounded 54 on Thursday evening in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in Kivu state, near the border with Rwanda and Uganda.

    UN secretary-general António Guterres made a standard statement expressing outrage:

    "These deliberate attacks against UN peacekeepers are unacceptable and constitute a war crime. I condemn this attack unequivocally. There must be no impunity for such assaults, here or anywhere else. ...

    These brave women and men are putting their lives on the line every day across the world to serve peace and to protect civilians."

    Officials in Tanzania expressed shock as well, since 14 of the deaths were of peacekeepers from Tanzania.

    There are 15 UN peacekeeping missions, and the largest of them, with 15,000 personnel, is the DRC mission Monusco (United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DR Congo), with 1,000 troops from Tanzania.

    It's estimated that there are some 120 armed groups in eastern DRC, described as mostly ragtag groups of 60-70 people each.

    In this case the suspected attackers are the Alliance of Democratic Forces (ADF), a group of Islamists formed in the late 1990s in western Uganda to fight the government of Uganda. However, a number of analysts say other militia and elements of Congo’s own army have also been involved.

    DRC's president Joseph Kabila is following the standard pattern of African nation leaders of refusing to step down, benefiting from massive corruption, and using massive violence against the opposition to stay in power.

    Kabila has stated that he does not want any UN forces in his country, and so it's entirely plausible, though unproven, that Kabila ordered his army to cooperate with the ADF in Thursday's massacre of the UN peacekeepers.

    Kabila's bloodiest violence is in the opposition stronghold, the central province of Kasai, where more than 3,000 people have been killed in escalating violence blamed on a government-sponsored militia. The UN has identified more than 80 mass graves and said it had found toddlers with limbs chopped off and pregnant women with their bellies sliced open, their unborn babies mutilated.

    The violence has resulted in 3.9 million people forced to flee their homes to escape the violence. Hundreds of thousands have fled to Zambia, Angola and other neighboring countries as refugees, creating a humanitarian disaster in those countries, and threatening to destabilize the entire region. United Nations and Reuters and Global Security and MONUSCO

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    Violence continues to spread in countries across Africa

    The violence in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of the worst of any country in the world, but similar violence occurs in many African countries, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC).

    The IDMC report measures the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) in each country. These are people who are forced to flee from their homes either because of violence or because of a natural disaster (usually meaning a drought). In this article, we're focusing on people fleeing violence.

    The countries in Africa with the most IDPs are Sudan (3.3m), DRC (2.2m), Nigeria (2.0m), South Sudan (1.9m), and Somalia (1.1m). People who are forced to flee violence often experience further violence again in their place of displacement, including murder and rape. People in displacement camps are vulnerable to human trafficking and slavery.

    DRC is the worst affected in the last year. In just January through June of this year, there were 997,000 more displacements in DRC, more than the 922,000 that were displaced in the entire year 2016.

    Africa is disproportionately affected by conflict. Africa has 16% of the world's population, but over 33% of the world's conflicts. As the graph at the beginning of this article shows, the number of armed conflicts in Africa has been growing fairly steadily since the end of World War II.

    However, the IDMC found an apparent contradiction that they have to explain: Although the number of armed conflicts has been rising, the intensity of these conflicts has been falling, and yet the number of IDPs has been rising. They explain this as follows:

    "Why then the consistently high rates of conflict displacement seen in our figures? Other forms of violence are on the rise, in some instances involving higher death tolls. ACLED, which monitors armed conflict and political violence, indicates that riots, protests and bombings are increasing in Africa.

    Importantly, violence against civilians is on the rise. Forty-two per cent of incidents of political violence targeted civilians in 2014, and 45 per cent in 2016."

    According to the report, there were 2.7 million people newly displaced people in Africa between January and June of this year, the equivalent of 15,000 people forced from their homes every day. 75% of of new displacement is attributed to conflict and violence. Internal displacement monitoring center (IDMC) and Institute for Security Studies and EyeWitnessNews (South Africa)

    Generational analysis of the rise in armed conflicts in Africa

    The DRC alone is being described as a "mega-crisis" because of the huge numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs), but it's far from unique, as illustrated by the numbers above. Outside of Africa, Syria also has millions of IDPs.

    I've written articles about numerous countries that are currently in generational Awakening or Unraveling eras, with leaders that refuse to step down and are using violence and atrocities against civilians to stay in power. These include Paul Biya in Cameroon, Pierre Nkurunziza in Burundi, Paul Kagame in Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Joseph Kabila in DRC, or, outside of Africa, Bashar al-Assad in Syria and Hun Sen in Cambodia.

    There's a reason why so many African countries are in generational Awakening eras. The Awakening era is one generation past the end of the preceding generational crisis war, and for most countries of the world, the last crisis war was World War II, so the generational Awakening era occurred in the 1960s and 1970s.

    However, African countries have been on a different timeline. Most African countries were largely unaffected by World War II, but had generational crisis wars in the 1960s-80s. These wars were usually wars of "liberation" from colonial powers.

    The graph at the beginning of this article shows that the number of armed conflicts in Africa has been growing fairly steadily since the end of World War II. In many cases, the colonial powers drafted men from their African countries to fight in WW II, but the countries themselves were not always involved. After WW II ended, the number of demands for liberation from colonial powers led to liberation wars, which explains the sharp increase in armed conflicts in the next three decades.

    However, the armed conflicts that lead to independence for these African nations did not resolve the ethnic and tribal differences occurring within the nations. In country after country, a leader from one tribe or another took control of the country, became rich through corruption, often channeling international aid into their own bank accounts or into weapons to be used against political enemies, and continued using violence for decades to stay in power.

    So the "apparent contradiction" that the IDMC found as described earlier in this article, is explained by the fact that the tribal, ethnic and anti-colonial wars have been ending, but the violence has been replaced by leaders staying in power by using genocide, murders, rapes, torture, jailings, and massacres.

    One thing that's pretty clear is that there's no end in sight for this kind of violence. To the contrary, new post-war generations of young men and women are coming of age, and these leaders who are doing everything they to stay in power are going to have to commit more murders, rapes, torture and jailings to keep these new generations under control.

    This leads to a grim choice for the United Nations and its peacekeeping forces. These peacekeeping forces have been failing to accomplish anything of value, and they will fail even more in the future. These forces are hugely expensive, and really accomplish little or nothing. On the other hand, nobody wants to leave Africa in distress without doing everything possible to help, even if the help is futile. This is one of those problems that have no solution. BBC

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Dec-17 World View -- United Nations stunned as peacekeepers are massacred in DR Congo thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    8-Dec-17 World View -- Turkey's president Erdogan visits Greece with a list of contentious demands

    Greece furious at Germany over intense airport inspections

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Turkey's president Erdogan visits Greece with a list of contentious demands


    Map showing Greece's Aegean Sea islands that Turkey wants to claim (DW)
    Map showing Greece's Aegean Sea islands that Turkey wants to claim (DW)

    Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan began a two-day trip to Greece on Thursday. This was the first visit by a Turkish head of state in 65 years, since 1952, and only the second visit by Erdogan to any EU nation in 18 months. Relations between Turkey and Greece have been tense for years (for millennia, actually), at a time when relations between Turkey and all of the European Union have been sharply deteriorating, and so the nominal purpose of this trip was to improve bilateral relations between Greece and Turkey.

    Possibly the most contentious issue is an agreement about the island of Cyprus. Half the island has a Greek government, and that part is a member nation of the European Union. The other half has a Turkish government, considered illegal by the European Union. Repeated attempts to unify the island have failed.

    So on Thursday, Erdogan referred to peace talks that failed earlier this year, and said:

    "Who left the table? Southern Cyprus did.... We want the issue to reach a fair and lasting solution but that is not southern Cyprus' concern."

    This was at a joint press conference with Greece's president Alexis Tsipras. Tsipras responded:

    "My dear friend, Mr. President, we must not forget that this issue remains unresolved because 43 years ago there was an illegal invasion and occupation of the northern part of Cyprus."

    Tsipras also complained about frequent violations of Greece's airspace in the Aegean sea:

    "The increasing violations of Greek airspace in the Aegean and particularly the simulated dogfights in the Aegean pose a threat to our relations, and particularly a threat to our pilots."

    It's possible that Erdogan's warplane violations in the Aegean Sea are related to his frequently stated demand that the Lausanne Treaty be renegotiated, to give part of the Aegean Sea to Turkey. As we reported last year, Erdogan claims that Turkey was cheated when it was forced to sign the Lausanne Treaty on July 24, 1923, saying bitterly, "At Lausanne, we gave away the (Greek) islands that you could shout across to." Proponents of the status quo point out that the Lausanne Treaty was an important part of guaranteeing peace between Greece and Turkey following World War I.

    Erdogan claimed that Greece is violating the treaty by refusing to respect the Muslim minority living in Greece, particularly the Turkish enclave in Thrace in northeastern Greece near the border with Turkey. On Friday, the second day of his 2-day visit to Greece, Erdogan has scheduled a visit to Thrace to see for himself. Erdogan says that he visited western Thrace in 2005, where there are 150,000 Turkish descendants, and he wants to visit again. Erdogan is demanding increased rights for the Muslims of Thrace, complaining that Greece doesn't even allow them to select their own religious leaders.

    A final demand by Erdogan was to extradite eight Turkish soldiers and officers who fled from Turkey to Greece on the night of the botched coup in Turkey. The eight soldiers, included two commanders, four captains and two sergeants, had escaped to Greece on a Sikorsky helicopter and landed in Alexandroupolis. The soldiers denied involvement in the coup, but said that they would not receive a fair trial in Turkey. Greece says that they cannot be extradited unless the courts rule it based on evidence that has so far not been presented that they were involved in the coup.

    Overshadowing the visit was the situation involving the EU-Turkey migrant deal that was signed in 2015. The agreement has been very successful, in that it's reduced the flow of migrants from Syria and Iraq into the EU from a torrent into a trickle. However, the number of migrants has been increasing recently, and the EU has failed to fulfill its obligations under the deal: Visa-free travel for all Turkish citizens visiting Europe's Schengen zone, and an acceleration of negotiations for Turkey to join the EU. Kathimerini and Deutsche Welle and Kathimerini

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    Greece furious at Germany over intense airport inspections

    Airline passengers traveling from Greece to Germany are supposed to enjoy visa-free travel, since both countries are in Europe's Schengen Zone, hailed as the greatest achievement of European integration. The Schengen agreement effectively abolished border controls between most European Union member states in 1985, allowing the area to function as a passport-free single country for all its travelers

    For the past three weeks, planes carrying passengers from Greece to Germany are no longer allowed to debark into the airline terminal. Instead, they're herded into a bus and taken to a secluded corner of the airport, where they have to stand out in the cold for up to an hour to be receive scrutinizing passport checks and controls. Belgium is adopting a similar policy.

    The reason given is security, and fears of a terror attack during the holiday season. Germany's Interior Ministry says that authorities have counted more than 1,000 illegal entries from Greece since the start of the year.

    Greeks are furious that, once again, they're being used as scapegoats and held to blame for a refugee problem that they didn't create and for which they're receiving little help from the rest of the EU. According to one traveler from Greece:

    "Germany's security concerns may be valid. And the Greek government, also, may be responsible for its abysmal handling of the refugee crisis. But that does not justify unilateral action. It is as if the US state of Massachusetts orders all incoming US travelers from California to go through passport controls at foreign arrivals terminals because California is teeming with migrants."

    This incident only adds to the general fury that Greeks continue to feel towards the Germans, after Germany demanded that draconian fiscal measures be imposed on Greece during the bailout negotiations several years ago. Many Greeks are also still furious at Germany for the Nazi invasion. Kathimerini (21-Nov) and Deutsche Welle (28-Nov)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Dec-17 World View -- Turkey's president Erdogan visits Greece with a list of contentious demands thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    7-Dec-17 World View -- International #MeToo movement generates backlash against women from 'Mike Pence rule'

    Time Magazine makes international #MeToo movement 'person of the year'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Time Magazine makes international #MeToo movement 'person of the year'


    Time Magazine's funereal cover: Person of the Year 2017: the #MeToo Silence Breakers
    Time Magazine's funereal cover: Person of the Year 2017: the #MeToo Silence Breakers

    The #MeToo movement has gone international. In the US Congress and businesses, people are being forced out of office by anonymous sources and kangaroo courts. In Europe, Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf has warned men to start listening to women, after tens of thousands of Swedish women have shared their stories under the #MeToo hashtag. Female MEPs are talking about their experiences in the European Parliament, and are openly displaying "#MeToo" placards at their desks.

    The #MeToo hashtag has also spread to China. In China, the state-run media was forced to retract an article that said that sexual harassment was a Western problem, but "Chinese men are taught to be protective of their women. Behaving inappropriately toward women, including harassing them sexually, contradicts every Chinese traditional value and custom." The article was taken down after a furious reaction by women on social media. Women in factory positions are frequently abused, and Chinese police don't investigate domestic violence complaints, claiming that it's a family matter.

    Time Magazine has now made it official. What Time used to call "Man of the Year" is now the "Person of the Year," and the winner this year is "The Silence Breakers," the female movie stars who broke their silence and openly accused powerful men who harassed and sometimes abused them.

    According to Time, this has been a long time coming:

    "This reckoning appears to have sprung up overnight. But it has actually been simmering for years, decades, centuries. Women have had it with bosses and co-workers who not only cross boundaries but don't even seem to know that boundaries exist. They've had it with the fear of retaliation, of being blackballed, of being fired from a job they can't afford to lose. They've had it with the code of going along to get along. They've had it with men who use their power to take what they want from women. These silence breakers have started a revolution of refusal, gathering strength by the day, and in the past two months alone, their collective anger has spurred immediate and shocking results: nearly every day, CEOs have been fired, moguls toppled, icons disgraced. In some cases, criminal charges have been brought."

    And there's no end in sight. Any man who said or did something to a woman even decades ago that she finds offensive can now be accused and judged by a kangaroo court to be guilty.

    What are the rules? Can a man flirt? Can a man ask a woman he works with out on a date? Can a man tell a woman that she looks good today? Can a man have a sexy picture of his wife on his desk? Can a fireman read Playboy in the firehouse? In the circus atmosphere of today's he-said/she-said world, any interaction between a man and a woman can be turned into an accusation of sexual harassment.

    Female BBC news anchor Katty Kay says that a backlash is already developing:

    "The next fear is that men will get so nervous that they're going to be accused of harassment that they will simply stop hiring, meeting or socializing with female colleagues. There are reports this is already happening. We will get shut out of the room where important decisions are made because men fear our presence? How ironic would that be?"

    As more and more men are forced to face sexual harassment accusations in the current circus atmosphere, it's pretty safe to say that the circus can't last, and that this will pass in a few months.

    This will be a big relief to everyone, especially women, who are going to be facing an increasing backlash, the longer that this continues. Time Magazine and Politico (EU) and The Local (Sweden) and BBC and Guardian (London, 17-Oct)

    The 'Mike Pence rule' shows how the #MeToo backlash will hurt women

    People are talking about the current sexual harassment circus as if this is the first time that anything like this ever happened.

    Actually, exactly the same thing happened in the 1990s, and the backlash that women felt in the 1990s tells us a great deal about the backlash that women are going to be facing today.

    At the beginning of the decade, feminists attacked Clarence Thomas because he had asked Anita Hill out on a date a decade earlier. At the end of the decades, feminists fought bitterly to protect Bill Clinton from seven or more women who credibly accused Clinton of violent forcible rape while he was governor of Arkansas. The entire decade was a circus.

    The decade was a disaster for women. The relations between men and women in the workplace were extremely toxic, as was reported by many commentators.

    I spent much of the 1990s decade doing research for a book on gender issues called Fraternizing with the Enemy - A book on gender issues for men and for women who care about men. I researched the whole range of gender issues - divorce, domestic violence, rape, teen motherhood, sexual harassment, child abuse, incest, including detailed discussions of the Clarence Thomas and Bill Clinton issues. The book was based on thousands of interviews and online conversations, as well as extensive research into such things as "feminist legal theory" and "feminist social theory."

    The book is available as a free PDF, on my download page, http://generationaldynamics.com/download/.

    During my research, I spoke to many men who considered talking to any woman in the workplace to be a career risk. Several men told me stories of making some innocent remark and being charged with harassment.

    Earlier this year, it emerged that Vice President Mike Pence had a policy of never having lunch alone with any woman except his wife, or of drinking alcohol unless his wife was by his side. Since Pence is an evangelical Christian, the mainstream media mocked this as some sort of religious rite. Maybe religion was part of it, but many men who were in the workplace in the 1990s feel the same way. Mike Pence's policy is what I've heard many men describe.

    This toxic relationship between men and women in the workplace is growing again today. NBC News quotes labor attorney Nestor Barrero as saying that "many people" have already asked him if they should take "the Mike Pence approach." He advises against it, but this and other anecdotal evidence indicates that the 1990s are repeating themselves in that men would rather work with men and not with women, because working with women is too great a career risk.

    Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, says that sexual harassment is a serious problem, but says "I have already heard the rumblings of a backlash: ‘This is why you shouldn’t hire women." (She adds, hopefully, "Actually, this is why you should.")

    I want to quote some excerpts from my book, Chapter 2, "Real Rape" (the title taken from the title of the book "Real Rape" by Democratic activist Susan Estrich). What I described then is what exactly what's happening today, except for a few name changes:

    "The country's largest feminist organization, NOW (The National Organization of Women), began the 90s by vocally and defiantly screaming harassment at a black man who allegedly told a woman a few dirty jokes, and ended up the decade by defending, condoning and carrying water for a white man who allegedly and credibly is a serial rapist, a man who gropes, flashes, uses and abuses every woman in his life.

    If the great, all-powerful male patriarchy had wanted to hatch a plot to cause as much damage and destruction as possible to women and feminists, they could never have done anything so destructive as NOW did to women during the 90s. NOW has damaged men, women, and society so much that it will take years, perhaps decades for the country to recover from it. The only good thing about what happened is that they've totally discredited themselves by carrying water for Clinton, arguably the country's most abusive politician.

    Long before the Clinton sex scandals, the policies advocated by NOW and other feminist groups, the relationship between men and women in the marketplace became enormously hostile, and this hostility ended up hurting women.

    For example, one man is a friend of mine who runs a professional office with his wife. They had had the practice since the 70s of hiring a married woman college graduate each year to serve as an intern for a year. Many of these women went on to become professionals in their own right. However, following Anita Hill's testimony, this man changed his policy, and decided he would never hire another woman intern. Since that time, he's only hired male interns.

    Another example: Another friend of mine ran an office where he normally had about a dozen women social workers working for him. He told me, "I don't dare even tell an employee, 'You look nice today,' because I'm afraid she'll bring sexual harassment charges. The only exception is my secretary -- she's worked for me for ten years, and I can trust her." In other words, this man could not trust the other women working for him.

    Almost every man I spoke to had some story. One man told me that he'd seen a condom machine in a men's room, and he mentioned briefly to a woman associate how shocked he was to see it; she brought a sexual harassment complaint. He told me, "There's something wrong with women today. They're crazy."

    In fact, I've tended to call these stories "crazy women stories," because every man I asked always seemed to have some story, and always seemed to add to it some words like, "These women are crazy."

    One man after another told me they didn't want to have anything to do with women in the workplace. By extrapolating the examples I heard, I would estimate that literally millions of jobs nationwide suddenly became unavailable to women. And women in the workplace were viewed by men as being unstable, unreliable, or "crazy." ...

    It's easy enough to blame men about all this, and I'm sure any feminist reading this automatically does so, but this catastrophe was brought about by NOW and other feminist organizations encouraging women to act this way. ...

    And did women gain anything from all this turmoil? They didn't, and for a reason that feminist "theory" didn't anticipate. When a sexual harassment complaint roils a workplace, a lot of hostility gets generated, and that hostility appears to break half against the alleged victim and half against the alleged perpetrator.

    I've heard from women who brought sexual harassment complaints against someone, and it was always disastrous for the accused man, but it also backfired against the accusing woman. These women were treated with hostility by everyone else, including other women. ...

    I saw one occasion like this with my own eyes between two people I knew at work. The man said something dumb to a woman and got her angry. She complained to the HR rep. The HR rep, a woman, called the man into her office and accused him of harassment. He got pissed off, stormed out of her office, and quit, and got another job immediately elsewhere, at higher pay. The company lost a valuable worker, and everyone, especially the women, especially the man's (female) manager, were pissed off as hell at this woman who brought the sexual harassment complaint and caused so much trouble."

    There's a great deal more information in my book, and I recommend that anyone interested in the subject of gender issues should download the PDF and read it.

    This is now an international issue, and it really is a circus. Many women feel that "something must be done," but they can't figure out what that something is.

    Katty Kay, the female BBC news anchor, says:

    "A backlash now against women would be the worst thing that can happen, it would shove this topic back under the carpet for years. So let's tread carefully, act soberly and use this moment, with the willing support of our male colleagues, to make our workplaces safer and happier."

    She's right. The backlash that developed in the 1990s did shove the topic under the carpet for almost 20 years.

    Why should any man take sexual harassment seriously, when feminist organizations and the Democratic establishment protected Bill Clinton from multiple credible forcible rape accusations for years? Susan Estrich was Clinton's principal supporter after the multiple forcible rape charges. Estrich herself had been raped, and been an active part of the 1990s sexual harassment circus, but then sold herself out as a woman and a rape victim to defend Clinton. Why should any man take sexual harassment seriously after that? Even worse, feminists make wild, irresponsible claims that 25% of all female college students are raped, when the actual figure is about 0.1%. And no one doubts that feminists and the Democratic establishment are protecting other harassers and rapists today.

    The bottom line is this: Men will never take sexual harassment seriously until women do. NBC News and Washington Post (30-March) and Fast Company and Book: Fraternizing with the Enemy (PDF)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Dec-17 World View -- International #MeToo movement generates backlash against women from 'Mike Pence rule' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    6-Dec-17 World View -- Syria and Russia repeat Aleppo war crimes in massive destruction of Eastern Ghouta

    Syria regime walks out of UN-sponsored Geneva peace talks

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Syria regime walks out of UN-sponsored Geneva peace talks


    Aftermath of Syrian and Russian airstrikes in Arbin in Eastern Ghouta (NRTTV)
    Aftermath of Syrian and Russian airstrikes in Arbin in Eastern Ghouta (NRTTV)

    Whenever I write about the Syrian war "peace process," I always use the word "farcical" to describe the peace talks. And this always turns out to be correct, as the "peace process" always falls apart with days or weeks, for reasons that were completely obvious at the time that the peace talks were held.

    The core problem is always the same. As I've described in story after story, Syria's president Bashar al-Assad is a delusional psychopath, a Shia/Alawite who will never let the war end until he's exterminated all his Sunni enemies, which will never completely happen. As long as Bashar al-Assad is in power, Syria's civil war, including the war crimes, the airstrikes and barrel bombs targeting women and children in schools, hospitals and marketplaces, and the use of Sarin gas and industrial strength torture on civilians, will never end.

    And al-Assad will always have the full cooperation of Russia and Iran in committing these war crimes, making Russia and Iran war criminals as well.

    There have been two main series of peace conferences. The UN-sponsored peace conferences have been held in Geneva, led by United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura. In most of these meetings, al-Assad representatives attended, but opposition representatives did not.

    When representatives from both sides attended, the two sides didn't actually talk to each other. Instead, de Mistura led negotiations with the cute name "proximity talks." What this means is that the representatives from the two sides sit in separate rooms, and then de Mistura walks back and forth between the two rooms, carrying messages back forth. It must be hilarious to watch.

    This week's Geneva peace talks were attended by both sides, but the opposition representatives are taking the position that there must a transition that removes al-Assad from power. The al-Assad representatives could not tolerate even being in just the same building with opposition representations saying that al-Assad must go, even in the context of proximity talks where the two sides would never have to see or hear each other, and so the Syrian delegation walked out of the talks on Saturday.

    So, the Geneva talks are supposed to continue until December 15. Let's watch and see if silver-tongued Staffan de Mistura can convince Bashar al-Assad to send his delegation back to the peace conference, before the peace conference ends in total farce. Reuters and The National (UAE) and Foreign Affairs (29-Nov)

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    Syria and Russia repeat Aleppo war crimes in massive destruction of Eastern Ghouta

    The second series of "peace talks" have been taking place in Astana, Kazakhstan, and were attended by Russia, Iran and Turkey. These were pretty farcical from day one, because they weren't attended by the actual belligerents in the war, the Bashar al-Assad regime and the representatives of the opposition. So any agreements reached in Astana were signed by Russia, Iran and Turkey, but not by the people on the ground actually fighting.

    The main agreement to come out of the Astana peace talks was the implementation of "de-escalation zones" or "de-confliction zones" in Syria. In four regions of western Syria, there would be an enforced ceasefire, and the ceasefire would be guaranteed by Russia, Iran and Turkey, providing whatever troops are necessary for the functioning of the checkpoints and observation posts as well as the administration of the security zones.

    Well, needless to say, Bashar al-Assad never agreed to these de-escalation zones, but it has always been his objective to completely exterminate all his Sunni opposition enemies, so there was never any hope that the de-escalation zones would succeed. However, he did go along with them temporarily, because they freed up his army to attack the opposition in other areas.

    Last year, the al-Assad regime, backed by Russia, conducted an extremely bloody war of extermination against the civilian residents of Aleppo, with numerous war crimes. Al-Assad claimed that the battle of Aleppo was "history in the making":

    "[The liberation of Aleppo was] history in the making and worthy of more than the word congratulations.

    History is being written in these moments. Every Syrian citizen is taking part in the writing. It started not today, but years ago when the crisis and the war on Syria began.

    I think that after the liberation of Aleppo we’ll talk about the situation as ... before the liberation of Aleppo and after the liberation of Aleppo."

    This was totally delusional on the part of al-Assad, which is not surprising since he's a delusional psychopath. History was made in Aleppo by the sheer number of war crimes committed by Syria and Russia. If the so-called "liberation of Aleppo" is remembered, it will be for the total destruction of the city.

    So the de-escalation zone agreement was supposed to end this kind of thing, but the destruction of Aleppo is now being repeated in Eastern Ghouta, which is one of the ceasefire de-escalation zones.

    Eastern Ghouta was attacked by the al-Assad regime in 2013 with Sarin gas. There has been almost continuous bombing since then. In the last three weeks, the regime, backed up by Russia, has substantially stepped up the attacks, with massive airstrikes on markets and densely populated residential areas, killing dozens or hundreds of people.

    Eastern Ghouta is part of one of the de-escalation zones that were agreed to at the Astana talks. Opposition officials say that the zones were meant as a charade to divert attention from the heavy daily bombing of civilian areas. That seems to be the case.

    According to the United Nations, there are about 400,000 civilians who are under siege in Eastern Ghouta. Aleppo only had a population of about 250,000, and so Syria and Russia have a lot more women and children to kill, so that will be going on for several months.

    After that, al-Assad can make another delusional speech about how clever he is to have killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people. At any rate, between the farcical Geneva peace talks and the farcical Astana peace talks, there is no end in sight for Syria's civil war, as long as Bashar al-Assad is in power. Reuters and Le Point (Paris) and NRTTV (Kurdistan)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Dec-17 World View -- Syria and Russia repeat Aleppo war crimes in massive destruction of Eastern Ghouta thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    5-Dec-17 World View -- Three crises accelerate: Yemen's Saleh killed, Brexit collapses and North Korea war looms

    US officials plan for military strike on North Korea

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh killed in Houthi ambush


    Ali Abdullah Saleh
    Ali Abdullah Saleh

    A web site reader posted this message on Sunday:

    "Every day astounds me more than the last. I suppose that's one of the distinguishing features of "times like these." In Generational Crisis times, time seems to be compressed. One 'panic' or another is just hours away, it seems, and great swathes of 'public opinion' change course mid-air like a disturbed mega-flock of starlings."

    On Monday, the time compression seemed to increase, with three crises all seeming to accelerate at the same time on the same day: Yemen, North Korea, and Brexit.

    It was just two days ago that I wrote a lengthy article about a big change in the Yemen war, which has become a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Previously, the Iran-backed Houthis were allied with Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, fighting against the militias supporting Saudi Arabia.

    Saleh has always been a master politician at deftly switching sides, forming alliances of convenience, and then betraying his former allies. Last week, he performed this act again, breaking his alliance with the Houthis, and forming an alliance with the Saudis. But this turned out to be his last act.

    The Houthis were furious at Saleh's betrayal and "treason," and apparently took revenge on him on Monday, when he was ambushed and killed in his convoy at a checkpoint in Yemen's capital city Sanaa.

    Analysts are saying that this is a victory for the Houthis and Iran, but it also weakens the Houthis in the sense that it will further split the tribes previously allied with the Houthis. In particular, in some scenarios, many of Saleh's militias that were fighting alongside the Houthis in the past may attack the Houthis for revenge, and firmly side with the Saudis. Another scenario is that the pro-Saleh tribes will splinter and become ineffective.

    The effects of Saleh's death will depend on what the Saudis and Iranians do next. Saleh's son in Saudi Arabia is being proposed as his replacement. The only thing that's certain is that Saleh's death guarantees more chaos.

    The death of Saleh is expected to complicate Tuesday's meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The GCC is an alliance of six Arab countries -- Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) -- on the Arabian Gulf. The GCC is already splintered because of Saudi Arabia's air, land and sea blockade on another GCC member, Qatar. Kuwait has been acting as a mediator, and some analysts hoped that Tuesday's meeting would be used to negotiate an end to the blockade of Qatar. However, Tuesday's agenda is likely to be hijacked by the Yemen issue after the death of Saleh. Some analysts are saying that the GCC is near complete collapse. National Yemen and BBC and Al Jazeera

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    US officials plan for military strike on North Korea and war

    Over the weekend, the full realization of what the U.S. is facing from North Korea became more clear and more stark. It's clear that for three decades, US administrations have simply appeased the North Koreans, falling time after time for North Korean promises that they had no intention of keeping, just as Hitler was planning for full-scale war as he promised "peace in our time."

    If we continue on the same path as the last three decades, then:

    Many people believe that China and Russia would welcome these developments by the North Koreans, since the missiles would be pointed at America, not at China or Russia.

    The administration seems to be signaling every day that we're one day closer to war because of the North Korean threat.

    Over the weekend, H.R. McMaster, President Trump’s national security adviser, said:

    "The greatest immediate threat to the United States and to the world is the threat posed by the rogue regime in North Korea and his continued efforts to develop a long range nuclear capability. ...

    I think [the threat] is increasing every day. It means we’re in a race. We’re in a race to be able to solve this problem.

    There are ways to address this problem short of armed conflict, but it is a race because he’s getting closer and closer and there’s not much time left."

    Sen. Lindsey Graham on CBS News said that the American military should start preparing for war:

    "We're getting close to a military conflict because North Korea's marching toward marrying up the technology of an I.C.B.M. with a nuclear weapon on top that cannot only get to America but deliver the weapon. We're running out of time. McMaster said that yesterday. I'm going to urge the Pentagon not to send any more dependents to South Korea.

    South Korea should be an unaccompanied tour. It's crazy to send spouses and children to South Korea, given the provocation of North Korea. So I want them to stop sending dependents. And I think it's now time to start moving American dependents out of South Korea. ...

    [Trump has] got the best national security team of anybody I've seen since I've been in Washington. The president, himself, early on, made the right decision: 'I'm not going to allow North Korea to hit America with a nuclear weapon. We're not going to live under that threat. If I have to go to war, and I don't want to, to stop it, I will.'

    Everybody before President Trump screwed it up, including Republicans. Now we need to get it right. And I think he's got the right approach. He's got the right team. I hope China will help us. We're running out of time."

    What would a military strike on North Korea look like? On Fox Business Network on Monday, retired army lieutenant colonel Ralph Peters described it as follow (my transcription):

    "This is not a question of a few surgical strikes. If we wanted to destroy, DESTROY their capability to build a fleet of ICBMs, with mated nuclear warheads, it would require an intensive campaign, primarily, not exclusively from the air. It would run a minimum of several weeks, possibly months - you can't predict these things once you start pulling triggers.

    And ultimately the question is the regime in North Korea: can, should it survive?

    So it's not just shooting a couple of launchers, knocking out some missiles. You have to go after deep underground bunkers, research facilities. You have to go after command and control, air defense, intelligence, early warning. And so this is real war. If we had to address the North Korea problem militarily, it's a war. ...

    Is it better to put American cities at risk of nuclear catastrophe or at least nuclear blackmail, or to act while we can?"

    The logic of the imminent North Korean threat and these statements from American officials is that a war is likely within 6-18 months.

    South Korea and the US are holding joint military drills, the largest ever, involving 12,000 US troops. There are also 230 US fighter jets, including the brand new F-35 Lightning, two dozen stealth jets, and over 200 fighters and bombers. North Korea has called it a "preparation for war," and threatened unspecified action. Fox News and CBS News

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    Brexit negotiations collapse over Ireland border issue


    Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales, and Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London all tweet that if Northern Ireland is going to be favorably treated, then they must be favorably treated.  (BBC)
    Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales, and Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London all tweet that if Northern Ireland is going to be favorably treated, then they must be favorably treated. (BBC)

    Until midday Monday, the European media were reporting that a breakthrough in the Brexit negotiations between the UK and EU was imminent. The reason that a breakthrough was predicted was because UK prime minister Theresa May had repeatedly capitulated to the demands of the EU on the three major "Phase I" issues.

    The first Phase I issue was the "divorce bill," the amount that the UK will have to pay the EU to leave, an amount as high as €60 billion. UK politician Nigel Farage, who spearheaded the Brexit movement, famously once said that "the EU can whistle for that money." Over a period of months, May had to agree to pay something, then had to agree to pay €20 billion, and finally last week agreed to pay about €50 billion. The EU considered this to be enough of a commitment for the time being.

    The second issue was the treatment of EU citizens working in the UK. EU officials said that May had made significant concessions, and that would be enough for the time being. However, the role of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in rejecting UK laws is still an open question, as it has been all along.

    The third issue is the problem of the border between Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, separating it from the Republic of Ireland, which is part of the EU. When the UK leaves the EU, there would have be border controls between Ireland and Northern Ireland, a concept that almost everyone rejects, because any border controls are thought likely to result in a renewal of "The Troubles," the decades of violence between the indigenous ethnic Irish Gaelics (Catholic, Republican) and the descendants of the English and Scottish invaders (Protestant, Unionist).

    Leo Varadkar, the taoiseach (prime minister) of Ireland has stated unequivocally that he would not approve any Brexit agreement that reinstated border controls. The EU has stated unequivocally that the EU would not agree to any proposal that Varadkar rejected, since Ireland would be part of the EU after Brexit, and Northern Ireland and the UK would not.

    So apparently Theresa May's staff came up with some language late last week that seemed to satisfy everyone. The details are unknown, but it would provide some kind of special regulatory status to Northern Ireland that would allow the borders to remain open. It was that level of agreement that led the media to expect a breakthrough on Monday, and Theresa May went off the Brussels to sign the deal.

    While in Brussels, Theresa May placed a phone call to the Arlene Foster, the leader of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and Foster vetoed the plan. She said:

    "Northern Ireland must leave the EU on the same terms as the rest of the UK. We will not accept any form of regulatory divergence which separates Northern Ireland economically or politically from the rest of the United Kingdom."

    The DUP is a very small but critical part of Theresa May's governing coalition, but if they turn against her, then there will be new elections in Britain. This is somewhat comical, since it's an outcome nobody wants. May and her Tory party would probably lose the election to the Labor Party, and the ultra-leftist Jeremy Corbyn would become prime minister. Corbyn supports the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in Ireland, which is the DUP's traditional enemy. Would Corbyn like to be prime minister and take over Brexit negotiations with the EU? My guess is that he enjoys seeing May take all the flak in trying to solve the intractable Ireland problem.

    On top of the veto by the DUP, the leaders of Scotland and Wales, and the mayor of London all tweeted that if Northern Ireland gets special treatment, then they should get special treatment too. Their tweets are shown in the above graphic.

    EU and UK leaders hope that these problems can all be resolved by the December 14 summit meeting in Brussels. If so, then negotiations will move onto trade issues, and those issues will be far more difficult to resolve than the three Phase I issues. It's very hard to get past the feeling that Brexit is a complete disaster for the UK, and probably for the EU as well. Irish Times and BBC

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Dec-17 World View -- Three crises accelerate: Yemen's Saleh killed, Brexit collapses and North Korea war looms thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    4-Dec-17 World View -- Cameroon's English-speaking provinces on the verge of full-scale violence

    Cameroon and Paul Biya behave typically following a generational crisis civil war

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Cameroon's English-speaking provinces on the verge of full-scale violence


    People of the Anglophone town of Eyumojock in a tense, angry standoff with police following the killing of some police officers on Wednesday (Cameroon Concord)
    People of the Anglophone town of Eyumojock in a tense, angry standoff with police following the killing of some police officers on Wednesday (Cameroon Concord)

    Separatists in the Southern Cameroons, the Anglophone (English-speaking) regions of Cameroon, seeking independence from the Francophone (French-speaking) government, killed four policemen and two soldiers in two attacks in the last week. The security forces had been sent into the Anglophone regions to try to suppress further unrest, but separatists claim that they have set up checkpoints on roads as symbols of Francophone occupation. The activists are demanding for the Southern Cameroons to secede, and create an independent nation called Ambazonia.

    Ben Kuah, the chairman of the military wing of the secessionist group Ambazonian Governing Council (AGC) said:

    "One of the main objectives is to clear the checkpoints that they have put on our roads. They are the symbols of occupation."

    Cameroon's president Paul Biya promised retaliation for the attacks:

    "I think things are now perfectly clear to everyone. Cameroon is the victim of repeated attacks.

    Faced with these attacks of aggression, I assure the Cameroonian people that all measures are being taken to end these criminals’ ability to do harm."

    Cameroon's Minister of Defense Beti Assomo said:

    "Following the president of the Republic, the Head of the armed forces’ declaration after the repeated attacks and killings in the country, that are claimed by secessionist movements, we are expected to arrive at concrete measures for the immediate application of the strategy of the heads in the army. And the process is going to continue till this situation that we are experiencing is eradicated."

    The violence started in 2016, but at the start is one almost entirely one-sided violence, with the Francophone security forces violently attacking peaceful Anglophone protesters.

    In 2016, the peaceful protests began with claims by Anglophone lawyers that the legal and court systems are biased toward Francophones, with many laws passed without even being translated into English. Anglophone teachers joined in, protesting that all courses in the schools had to be taught in French, and that any use of English was forbidden. The Francophone police responded by severely beating several protesters, and shooting two of them dead.

    The Francophone government has done some really stupid things in the past year, apparently in the belief that they can end the peaceful protests by violently attacking the protesters. The security forces repeatedly used tear gas, gunfire, beatings and jailings against the protesters. The government shut down the internet in the Southern Cameroons for several months, in the moronic belief that they would stop protesting if they didn't have the internet available to do their jobs and earn a livelihood.

    Government idiocy reached a height in August, when the government deployed 400 additional police to the Anglophone regions to force schoolchildren to go to school. There were still protests going on over the schools being forced to teach all subjects in French, but instead of simply allowing some courses like geography and math to be taught in English, they sent the police out to drag little children to school.

    The violence took a particularly dangerous turn on September 22, when activist forces began using small bombs to target local security forces. On October 1, separatists staged a massive march, and declared the independence of Ambazonia. In the increasingly violent Francophone government crackdown that followed, hundreds of people were arrested, and helicopter gunships were used to fire on innocent civilians and kill them. At least 5,000 people have fled across the border to neighboring Nigeria to escape the violence.

    On Sunday, state radio said, "Paul Biya has declared war on these terrorists who seek secession," and that a large-scale military operation was being prepared, indicating that a full-scale violent conflict is about to begin. AFP and Cameroon Concord and VOA

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    Cameroon and Paul Biya behave typically following a generational crisis civil war

    As regular readers are aware, we've discovered some patterns that countries predictably follow during the generational Awakening and Unraveling eras, one or two generation past the end of the preceding generational Crisis war.

    In America, the Awakening era was in the 1960s, following World War II, with massive student protests in colleges and racial protests on the streets of Los Angeles, Chicago, and many other cities. The government did not use gunfire and helicopter gunships to stop the violence, and the only jailings were for specific property crimes. The government continued in an orderly constitutional manner, with presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon.

    Cameroon's last generational crisis war was "UPC Revolt," 1956-1960, which was a bloody civil war by communists attacking the Anglophone "British Cameroons" colony and the Francophone "French Cameroun" colony. The outcome was a single independent country, Cameroon, which merged the British and French colonies together.

    Paul Biya was born in 1933, and became president in 1982. He consolidated his power by orchestrating a fake coup, giving him an opportunity to eliminate all his rivals, and making him, in effect, a dictator.

    During the generational Awakening and Unraveling eras that followed independence, Cameroon had the same student protests and other protests that every country has, one or two generations after the end of the preceding crisis war. But there's a sharp distinction when the preceding crisis war was an internal civil war. In this case, the government refuses to cede power to the opposition, fearing a renewal of the civil war, and uses murder, rape, torture and jailings arbitrarily against peaceful protesters in the opposition.

    I've described this in numerous countries where the Awakening era follows a generational crisis civil war, including Pierre Nkurunziza in Burundi, Paul Kagame in Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Joseph Kabila in DRC, or, outside of Africa, Bashar al-Assad in Syria and Hun Sen in Cambodia.

    Paul Biya, who has been president in Cameroon for 34 years, is simply following this same pattern, the same sociopathic violent behavior against a peaceful opposition to remain in power at all costs. If you'd like a simple psychology explanation for why this happens, I will give you mine: When the leader of a country participated in an internal crisis civil war, and during the war was responsible for ordering the rape, torture and slaughter of other people who are essentially his neighbors, then he's traumatized for life, and develops the sociopathy that we've described. But whatever the reason, we've now seen this in one country after another, and the phenomenon is being firmly supported by the research. Quartz and Crisis Group (19-Oct)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Dec-17 World View -- Cameroon's English-speaking provinces on the verge of full-scale violence thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    3-Dec-17 World View -- Yemen war changes direction with collapse of Iran-backed Houthi coalition

    The Houthi-Saleh 'alliance of convenience' crumbles into violence

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Yemen war changes direction with collapse of Iran-backed Houthi coalition


    Tens of thousands gather in Sanaa to demand an end to the clashes between the Houthis and their former ally, Ali Abdullah Saleh (AFP)
    Tens of thousands gather in Sanaa to demand an end to the clashes between the Houthis and their former ally, Ali Abdullah Saleh (AFP)

    Last month, Saudi Arabia imposed a sea, land and air blockade on Yemen, taking a country which was already in a major humanitarian crisis into an enormous humanitarian disaster. The major effect of the blockade has been to prevent humanitarian aid, including food, medicines and fuel into the country. Of the 25 million population, 20 million rely on humanitarian assistance, and 7-8 million are now facing full-scale famine and starvation as a result of the blockade on humanitarian aid. Furthermore, without fuel, the water pumps in many cities can no longer operate, forcing people to drink filthy water, adding to Yemen's huge cholera epidemic, hitting close to one million people.

    Since 2015, the tribal civil war in Yemen has been largely a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, especially the Iran-backed Houthi rebels. The war dangerously escalated a month ago when the Houthis launched a ballistic missile, undoubtedly supplied by Iran, that reached the King Khalid International Airport near Riyadh, about 800 km from the Yemen border. The Saudis reacted with the blockade, giving as a reason the need to prevent the Houthis from importing more Iranian weapons systems.

    Beyond blocking Iranian weapons imports, it wasn't clear whether the Saudis had any further objectives, and indeed some NGO leaders were accusing the Saudis of using "denial of aid" as a "weapon of war."

    If being a weapon of war was part of the Saudi plan, then it appears to have been successful. There's been a major split among the militias in the Houthi coalition.

    There have been four days of increasingly violent clashes between the the two major militias, one led by Houthi leader Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, and the other led by former Yemen president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is leading some local militias who had previously been allied with al-Houthi.

    After the clashes began, tens of thousands of people filled the streets in Yemen demanding an end to the fighting. After four days of clashes, it was apparently too much for Saleh, who practically begged the Saudis for a ceasefire:

    "I call on our brothers in neighboring countries ... to stop their aggression and lift the blockade. They need to lift the blockade and open the airports, and allow food and medicine to enter the country. We will open a new page with them for dialog. What is happening in Yemen is enough."

    A spokesman for the Houthis said that "Saleh's speech is a coup against our alliance and partnership... and exposed the deception of those who claim to stand against aggression." In addition, al-Houthi responded on television, calling Saleh a traitor and describing his appeal to Saudi Arabia as "treason to the country and a stab in the back." BBC and Washington Post and Reuters and Bloomberg and AP

    The Houthi-Saleh 'alliance of convenience' crumbles into violence

    South Yemen and North Yemen were two separate countries until they unified in 1990 under the leadership of Ali Abdullah Saleh. Saleh ruled until 2011, when he was ousted as an outcome of the "Arab Spring" that affected countries throughout the region. Saleh was forced to turn the office of president over to his vice president, Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi.

    In effect, Saleh refused to give up power, and he formed an "alliance of convenience" with the Houthis. Saleh and the Houthis have never really gotten along. During the two decades that Saleh was president, he fought six different wars against the Houthis. on September 21, 2014, Saleh and the Houthis captured Sanaa from Hadi's forces. Hadi was forced to flee Sanaa, and has been living in exile in Saudi Arabia for two years. From the point of view of the international community, Hadi is still president of Yemen.

    On Saturday, Saleh's foreign minister was interviewed on the BBC, and he said that the alliance with the Houthis had to end because Houthis were forming a "state within a state," similar to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a military state within a state within Iran.

    In 2005, Saleh and the Houthis had created an alliance with the nominal objective of forming a unity government that both groups could lead equally. But in the last year, the Houthis have been gaining power in Sanaa, and Saleh has been losing power. Furthermore, there has been rising popular discontent with the Houthis, and that discontent has increased in the last month with the Saudi blockade. Some reports indicate that Saleh has been talking to the Saudis through back channels for a while, so it's even possible that this whole scenario, starting with the blockade, was planned in advance, and triggered by the Houthis' launch of the ballistic missile at Riyadh.

    Since Saleh's call for a ceasefire, the Saudi airstrikes on Sanaa have almost stopped. According to reports, Saleh has promised the Saudis that if they agree to the ceasefire and to lift the blockade, then he will undertake to defeat the Houthis in Sanaa, and drive them back into their northeast stronghold, as he had to do several times when he was president. After that, Saleh says that he and the Saudis can talk, and bring Yemen back to be "normal" again, with him in some sort of leadership position.

    That's actually the optimistic scenario. A more likely scenario is there's another front in the war, and that the clashes between Saleh and the Houthis will become just another war within the Yemen war, the war will continue in a different form. AFP and Gulf News (Dubai) and CNN and Stratfor

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Dec-17 World View -- Yemen war changes direction with collapse of Iran-backed Houthi coalition thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    2-Dec-17 World View -- UN asks for 2018 increase in humanitarian aid despite compassion fatigue

    Humanitarian crises continue to grow year after year

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    UN asks for 2018 increase in humanitarian aid despite compassion fatigue


    Funding gap for humanitarian aid for each year 2007-2017, showing gap between needed funds and received funds.  HRP = Humanitarian Response Plans.
    Funding gap for humanitarian aid for each year 2007-2017, showing gap between needed funds and received funds. HRP = Humanitarian Response Plans.

    The United Nations is asking the world community for an increase in donations for humanitarian aid, requesting $22.5 billion for 2018, above the $22 billion originally requested for 2017. More than $10 billion is needed to address the humanitarian crises in Syria and Yemen alone.

    According to the "Global Humanitarian Overview 2018" report published on Friday:

    "Many humanitarian crises have become so protracted that they seem permanent. Nineteen of the 21 humanitarian response plans presented in this overview are for humanitarian crises that have been running for five years or more. Three have had humanitarian plans and appeals each year for at least 18 years (Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan and Somalia).

    The steep rise in funding requirements over the years is mainly driven by a set of large-scale protracted crises with humanitarian funding requirements over a billion dollars per year (primarily the Syria crisis, Yemen and South Sudan).

    Food insecurity is also often a consequence of protracted conflict. In late 2017, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNet) highlighted 12 countries in which at least a half-million people will need emergency food assistance (Yemen, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, DR Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Central African Republic and Niger). Of these, five are rated in the ‘emergency’ phase of food insecurity, one step short of the worst phase of ‘famine’. Four (Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria) are still at risk of famine conditions."

    In the request for 2017 (the current year), the $22 billion was requested to\help 92.8 million people in need. Over the course of the year 2017, additional crises increased the need for $24 billion, to help 105.1 million people.

    However, there's little chance and the UN will get the funding that it's requesting. The number of humanitarian crises around the world has been increasing sharply. This requires a lot more humanitarian aid, but it also creates a lot more "compassion fatigue" among potential donors, who (correctly) see the demands for humanitarian aid increasing constantly, but then draw the conclusion that they are no longer willing to respond with money.

    The graph above shows the funding requested (black line) and funding received (blue line). As the graph shows, the amount of funding requested has been increasing much faster than the amount of funding received.

    So in 2017, $22 billion was initially requested, rising to $24 billion during the year, but the actual funding received was just $12.6 billion, or just 52% of the amount needed, according to the UN. Relief Web and Global Humanitarian Overview 2018 (PDF)

    Humanitarian crises continue to grow year after year

    As you can see from the above graph, the amount of funding requested went up during the financial crisis until 2010, then fell and leveled off, and then began to surge in 2012. This was the time following the "Arab Spring," when the Mideast and other places in the world began to seriously destabilize. In the Mideast, the war in Libya began, and the genocide in Syria by the Bashar al-Assad also began. More crises began in the years that followed. In Central Asia, the Burma genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslims began. In North America, the Haiti earthquake was an enormous disaster. In Africa, wars in South Sudan, Mali, and Central African Republic started, followed by the war in Yemen.

    On top of that, there were continuing humanitarian crises in some countries. In three countries, they had lasted for at least 18 years: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, and Somalia.

    I remember reading an article in 2004 claiming that the number of wars in the world was at the lowest in history. That was the end of the generational Unraveling era, a time during the 1990s when the world was run by the Silent generation of people who had grown up in the 1930s. They had lived through World War II, and had learned the dangers of extreme nationalism, xenophobia, large refugee flows, and unmet humanitarian crises. Since the world leaders were well aware of these dangers, they made sure that they wouldn't spiral out of control.

    Since 2003-4, most of the world has been in a generational Crisis era, with the survivors of WW II disappearing. And now, about 14 years into a Crisis era, we see all the things that led to WW II occurring again, leading up to a new world war. The things that the World War II survivors devoted their lives to keep from happening again are now happening again and spiraling out of control.

    In yesterday's World View article on the rise of slavery and slave auctions in Libya, I described how huge migration flows in Africa, the Mideast, Central Asia, and even in Beijing China are destabilizing major regions of the world, depleting resources and triggering xenophobia and violence. At the same time, "compassion fatigue" means that less aid is available for desperate people.

    All of these factors -- slave auctions, growing refugee flows, growing humanitarian crises -- are factors that have occurred in the 1930s and prior to other major wars in history, and they are only going to continue growing, and lead to a new world war.

    In 2018, expect more countries to become unstable, more refugee flows, more slave auctions, and more humanitarian crises, and expect more intolerance and political bickering by politicians overwhelmed by the crises and looking for easy solutions that don't exist. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, that's what always happens in a generational Crisis era. AFP and Al Jazeera and Reuters

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Dec-17 World View -- UN asks for 2018 increase in humanitarian aid despite compassion fatigue thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    1-Dec-17 World View -- European-African summit calls for end to slavery auctions in Libya

    China drives thousands of Beijing migrants out into the winter cold

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    European-African summit calls for end to slavery auctions in Libya


     Guinea's President Alpha Conde, front row left, speaks with Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara, front row middle, and African Union Commission chairman Moussa Faki, front row center, during group photo on Wednesday at AU-EU Summit. (AP)
    Guinea's President Alpha Conde, front row left, speaks with Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara, front row middle, and African Union Commission chairman Moussa Faki, front row center, during group photo on Wednesday at AU-EU Summit. (AP)

    The surreptitiously obtained CNN video that we reported two weeks ago that portrayed slave auctions in Libya have continued to have political repercussions in Europe and Africa, with political leaders expressing how shocked, shocked they are that these auctions are still going on after they had supposedly ended in the 1800s with the abolition of slavery in many countries around the world.

    CNN obtained the video using concealed cameras at a slave auction just outside Tripoli, the capital city of Libya. In one case, the auctioneer says, "Does anybody need a digger? This is a digger, a big strong man, he'll dig. What am I bid, what am I bid?" The man is auctioned off for $400-800.

    The video about the slave trade and slave auctions triggered large sometimes violent protests in front of Libya's embassy in Paris.

    As it happens, an African Union - European Union (AU-EU) summit was already scheduled to take place in Côte d'Ivoire on November 29-30. The summit brought together more than 80 leaders from countries on both continents to discuss such subjects as investments in Africa, trade, and provided humanitarian aid, with a particular emphasis on investing in youth.

    However, the intended agenda was hijacked by the slave trade issue. It's estimated that 400,000 to 700,000 migrants are trapped in Libya, having travelled there in the hope of reaching Europe. Instead, they've been put into refugee camps, in compliance with an agreement that Italy made with many Libyan warlords and governments to prevent them from traveling to Europe. But the refugee camps have been filled to overflowing, and the excess tens or hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees are being auctioned off as slaves.

    Nigeria's president Muhammadu Buhari said, "Some Nigerians were sold like goats for a few dollars in Libya."

    One migrant from Cameroon, Chancelier Deuda, said:

    "Libya is a country at war, despite the semblance of peace. A black person is seen as merchandise, he is sold like chicken. Migrants on their way to Libya are kidnapped. They are kidnapped when they are walking and sold for as little as 300 Libyan Dinars (216 USD)."

    Another Cameroonian migrant, Emile Monkam, said:

    "Do not take the Libyan route, it’s not a good idea and you definitely won’t like what you will find. You will meet people who, I don’t even know how to qualify them, but those Arabs – and I am speaking from experience since I have in different parts of Maghreb region, but those Arabs are not people who should live on earth."

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel said:

    "It’s very important that we simply support Africans to put a stop to illegal migration, so people don’t have to either suffer in horrible camps in Libya or are even being traded."

    Ghana's president Nana Akufo-Addo said:

    "The current slave auctions of Africans in Libya are not only gross and scandalous abuses of human rights, but are also mockeries of the alleged solidarity of African nations grouped in the African Union (AU), of which Libya is a member.

    I continue to be puzzled as to the vehemence with which so-called social democrats oppose or attempt to undermine measures designed to address poverty. Their demagoguery and opportunism will always be exposed."

    The outrage expressed by these African leaders is pretty phony, since the slave auctions had been reported for a long time. The CNN video, however, triggered the large anti-slavery protests, especially in Paris.

    The outrage also raises the usual questions that are asked at times like this: Why is Africa blaming Europe for slavery in Africa? Why can't Africa solve this problem on its own? Why is more Western aid always demanded, when decades of Western aid hasn't helped in the past? European Council and RFI and Daily Post (Nigeria) and NY Daily News and Africa News

    AU-EU Summit creates task force to solve the slave trade problem

    After expressing universal outrage about the slave trade and slave auctions, the national leaders proceeded to offer a "solution" which has no chance of doing anything to solve the problem.

    The objective of the AU-EU summit agreement is that all 400,000-700,000 migrants that are trapped in Libya are to be sent back to their countries of origin.

    So, for example, 3,800 migrants in just one of the dozens of camps in Tripoli alone will be sent back to their home countries immediately -- assuming that their home countries will take them. Some 250 migrants from Cameroon have already been returned home.

    As for the other hundreds of thousands of migrants trapped in Libya, a task force will be formed, with members from the EU, the AU, and the United Nations. The task force will aim to:

    It's obvious that this task force will do little more than hold meetings and express outrage. With 400,000-700,000 migrants trapped in Libya, the slave trade and slave auctions will continue as before.

    We're seeing massive refugee flows all around the world, with hundreds of thousands or millions of refugees in each of Libya, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Sudan, Syria, Burma (Myanmar) -- just to name the places that I've recently written articles about. These huge refugee flows are destabilizing entire regions, depleting resources and triggering xenophobia and violence. This is one more factor that's leading to World War III, just as similar massive refugee flows in the 1930s led to World War II. AP and Bloomberg and RFI

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    China drives thousands of Beijing migrants out into the winter cold


    A migrant family is leaving Beijing under a government-mandated evacuation. They had 15 mins to clear all their belongings. Behind them is a big banner saying the great 'Xi Jinping new era'. (Twitter)
    A migrant family is leaving Beijing under a government-mandated evacuation. They had 15 mins to clear all their belongings. Behind them is a big banner saying the great 'Xi Jinping new era'. (Twitter)

    With huge migrant flows destabilizing many parts of the world, it's interesting that a related story is going on in China's capital, Beijing.

    After a shantytown fire on November 18 killed 19 people, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is using the fire as an opportunity to evict thousands of Beijing migrants from their homes, and to demolish their homes.

    Many of these people have lived in these homes for 10-20 years. They migrated to Beijing years ago, and they were laborers who built Beijing into the huge metropolis that it is today.

    The evictions are being called "cruel" even among the usually obedient and compliant Chinese, because they're given only a few hours or a couple of days to collect their belongings and move somewhere else -- and for most there's really nowhere else to go to escape the winter cold.

    "Once I built a tower to the sun, bricks and mortar and lime. Once I built a tower, now it's done. Brother can you spare a dime?" (Rudy Vallee song from 1931.) Shanghaiist and South China Morning Post and Global Times (Beijing) and YouTube

    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Dec-17 World View -- European-African summit calls for end to slavery auctions in Libya thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    30-Nov-17 World View -- TV audience shocked watching dramatic suicide of Croat commander convicted of war crimes in Bosnian war

    Croat commanders committed war crimes while trying to create a 'Greater Croatia'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    TV audience shocked watching dramatic suicide of Croat commander convicted of war crimes in Bosnian war


    Slobodan Praljak, sentenced to 20 years in prison, drinks poison in a court hearing broadcast live around the world, and dies a few hours later (Getty)
    Slobodan Praljak, sentenced to 20 years in prison, drinks poison in a court hearing broadcast live around the world, and dies a few hours later (Getty)

    Croat General Slobodan Praljak, a commander of the Bosnian Croat forces during the Bosnian war, was sentenced on Wednesday to a 20-year prison sentence for war crimes during the Bosnian war in the early 1990s. The sentence was handed down in the last days of the existence of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

    Upon hearing that his 20-year prison sentence had been upheld, Praljak shouted, "I, Slobodan Praljak, reject the verdict! I am not a war criminal!"

    The judge ordered him to sit down. He refused to sit down, but instead raised his hand as if to be preparing to shout something else. But it turned out that his hand contained a small bottle. He drank from the bottle, and declared, "What I am drinking now is poison."

    Praljak's lawyer was sitting in front of Praljak, so did not actually see him drink the poison, but she heard what he said. She shouted "My client says that he has taken poison!"

    At that, the judge ordered that the bottle be preserved. The judge shut down the tv coverage and cleared the courtroom. An ambulance arrived to take Praljak to a hospital, where he died several hours later.

    Reporters expressed astonishment that Praljak had been able to find a way to bring the bottle of poison with him into the courtroom, and then drink it on international television. The courtroom was supposed to be extremely secure, with the same kind of inspections used in airports. There will be a thorough investigation.

    This was the last day of a court case that's been ongoing for years, indicting 161 suspects and convicting 90 of them. The hearing was restarted long enough to read three more judgments upholding the sentences of other Croat commanders. Balkan Insight and AFP and Al Jazeera and Independent (London)

    Croat commanders committed war crimes while trying to create a 'Greater Croatia'

    Slobodan Praljak was a Croat commander in the Croat–Bosniak War, which was a sub-war of the larger Bosnian war that took place in the Balkans throughout the early 1990s, following the breakup of Yugoslavia.

    From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Yugoslavia was in a generational Crisis era during the early 1990s. Its previous crisis war had been World War I, and by 1929 the Kingdom of Yugoslavia had been formed, consisting of multiple ethnic groups. World War II was an Awakening era war for Yugoslavia, but by the 1990s, the compromises that had been reached to settle World War I were long forgotten by the younger generations growing up after that war. These younger generations were willing to re-fight the bloody battles that had killed tens of millions of people 70 years earlier.

    General Slobodan Praljak was commander of the army of the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia (Herzeg-Bosna), which declared independence on November 18, 1991, though it was never recognized by any other country. The goal of the republic was to create an ethnically pure "Greater Croatia." The goal was never achieved, and Herzeg-Bosnia disappeared around April, 1994.

    During that three year period, according to the indictment, Slobodan Praljak incited political, ethnic and religious hatred and had recourse to force, intimidation and terror, notably by mass arrests during which people were killed. He reportedly participated in the establishment and expansion of a system of concentration camps and other detention centers. He also was said to have inflicted cruel treatment on Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims), by arranging for their expulsion and forced transfer and by submitting those imprisoned to forced labor. The activities included murders, rape, sexual assault, the destruction of property and the deportation of Bosniaks.

    In 2013, The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) found Praljak and five other Croatian commanders guilty of these war crimes, and sentenced them to a total of 111 years in jail. The sentences were appealed, and on Wednesday the sentences were reaffirmed.

    Prior to the sentencing, Croatia's interior minister Davor Bozinovic said:

    "I expect that [the six officials’ guilt] won’t be proven because the Republic of Croatia wasn’t a party in the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and I hope for a verdict of acquittal."

    The court found that this claim was clearly false.

    Although the Bosnian war has officially ended, feeling among all the different ethnic groups in the Balkans are still extremely acrimonious. I discovered this earlier this year when I wrote a couple of articles on Macedonia and Albania, 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.

    Many people believe that after two world wars in the 20th century, there will never be another European war. I can assure you that's far from the truth. This multi-year trial of Croat commanders that ended on Wednesday was supposed to help resolve old feelings and hatreds, those vitriolic hatreds still exist in full force throughout the Balkans, and will result in war when the time is right. International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Balkan Insight (29-May-2013) and Trial International and Balkan Insight

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Nov-17 World View -- TV audience shocked watching dramatic suicide of Croat commander convicted of war crimes in Bosnian war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Nov-2017) Permanent Link
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    29-Nov-17 World View -- Pakistan government totally capitulates to hardline Islamist TLYRAP Barelvi sect mob

    North Korea ballistic missiles threaten 'everywhere in the world'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Pakistan government totally capitulates to hardline Islamist TLYRAP Barelvi sect mob


    Hardline Islamist sit-in in Islamabad last week (Pakistan Today)
    Hardline Islamist sit-in in Islamabad last week (Pakistan Today)

    For several weeks, cities across Pakistan were paralyzed with major roads blocked by a mob of thousands of Islamists in a sit-in, escalating into clashes with thousands of police. The sit-in and riots were triggered by a phony blasphemy charge last month against a government minister, Zahid Hamid, for supposedly being responsible for modifying the wording of a government oath, omitting the name of Mohammed.

    After weeks of chaos, on Tuesday, the government totally capitulated to the demands of the mob, which was led Tehreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah of Pakistan (TLYR or TLYRAP), a small Islamist political party coming from the hardline, dangerous Barelvi sect.

    The terms of the capitulation are as follows:

    The agreement has been only partially successful in ending the sit-in. The sit-in has ended in the capital city Islamabad and the adjoining city Rawalpindi. However, a TLYRAP splinter group is demanding the resignation of other ministers, and is refusing to end the sit-in in the major city of Lahore, and so parts of that city remain paralyzed. Geo TV (Pakistan) and Pakistan Today and Geo TV (Pakistan) and Dunya News (India)

    Tehreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah of Pakistan (TLYR or TLYRAP) has roots in Barelvi sect and murder of Salman Taseer

    Tehreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah of Pakistan (TLYR or TLYRAP) is a small political group of hardline Islamists. It was little known until it led the recent violent sit-in and forced the government to capitulate to its demands. Media sources do not suggest that they're a terrorist group linked to the Pakistani Taliban (TTP), but they do advocate an extreme and radical "Sharia law" takeover of Pakistan's government.

    In particular, they advocate the complete elimination of the persecuted Ahmadi Muslim sects in Pakistan, and possibly the Sufis as well. The phony blasphemy charge was based on an accusation that the modification of the oath would favor the Ahmadis.

    TLYRAP came out of nowhere as a political group, but as Muslims they come the Barelvi Sect, an offshoot of Sufism. They would probably still be almost unknown today, but they were handed a gift last year when Mumtaz Qadri, a Barelvi, was executed for murdering Salman Taseer in 2011.

    Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province in Pakistan, was shot 28 times in broad daylight in an open marketplace on January 4, 2011. The killer was his bodyguard, Mumtaz Qadri. The motive, as described by Qadri, was to punish Taseer for objecting to Pakistan's blasphemy laws, and for calling for the release of a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who was in jail facing execution for violating the blasphemy laws. Qadri was finally executed last year, but not before he became a national hero for killing Taseer over a phony blasphemy charge.

    Qadri was not just a national hero, but he was a Barelvi hero, and it's that execution that led to the rise of TLYRAP. Since Qadri justified his murder of Taseer with a phony blasphemy charge, the TLYRAP political movement is based almost entirely on phony blasphemy charge. Any politician that TLYRAP targets can be found to have said or done some random thing that can be turned into a phony blasphemy charge, and that's how the recent sit-in came about.

    Pakistan as a country is becoming increasingly radicalized by Barelvi extremism, and since some of the TLYRAP militants were armed with weapons such as stones and bats, they are now becoming militarized. Pakistan Today and Al Jazeera and Huffington Post(9-Jan) and La Voix Du Nord and Hudson Institute(19-Oct-2011)

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    North Korea ballistic missiles threaten 'everywhere in the world'

    North Korea on Wednesday morning fired a ballistic missile from an area north of Pyongyang. The missile was launched almost vertically, so that it would reach a high altitude, but would not travel beyond the Sea of Japan. If used in an actual attack, it would be launched closer to a 45 degree angle, which could carry it as far any part of the United States mainland, according to several analysts.

    According to physicist David Wright, co-director of the Union of Concerned Scientists Global Security Program:

    "If these numbers are correct, then if flown on a standard trajectory rather than this lofted trajectory, this missile would have a range of more than 13,000 km (8,100 miles). Such a missile would have more than enough range to reach Washington, DC, and in fact any part of the continental United States."

    Secretary of Defense James Mattis said:

    "[The tests threaten] world peace, regional peace and certainly the United States."

    It went higher, frankly, than any previous shots they've taken. It's a research and development effort on their part to continue building ballistic missiles that can threaten everywhere in the world basically."

    President Donald Trump made an apparent threat,

    "We will take care of it.

    It is a situation that we will handle."

    Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina said:

    "If we have to go to war to stop this, we will. If there’s a war with North Korea, it’d be because North Korea brought it upon itself, and we’re headed toward a war if things don’t change."

    There are some things about the ballistic test that we don't know:

    There's another thing we don't know: We don't know what Trump meant when he said, "We will take care of it."

    North Korea's objective for the past 25-30 years was to develop nuclear missile capability that could be used to attack the U.S. mainland, and use it as leverage to threaten South Korea and Japan, and he's now very close. Wired and Reuters and San Diego Union Tribune

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Nov-17 World View -- Pakistan government totally capitulates to hardline Islamist TLYRAP Barelvi sect mob thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Nov-2017) Permanent Link
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    28-Nov-17 World View -- The issue of Ireland's border threatens to collapse EU-UK Brexit negotiations.

    Ireland's government faces vote of no confidence on Wednesday

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    The issue of Ireland's border threatens to collapse EU-UK Brexit negotiations.


    Border checkpoint between Sweden, which is in the European Union, and Norway, which is NOT in the EU. (Sky News)
    Border checkpoint between Sweden, which is in the European Union, and Norway, which is NOT in the EU. (Sky News)

    European Union Brexit negotiators are demanding that by December 4, the UK must provide written commitments in three areas, having to do with EU citizens working in the UK, money the UK must pay to the EU, and the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

    Without those written commitments, the EU says that it won't allow negotiations on the trade UK-EU trade relationship after Brexit occurs to begin at a summit meeting on December 13-14.

    Without the being able to start trade negotiations on December 13, the UK says that it may pull out of Brexit negotiations, and allow a "hard Brexit" to occur, where the UK will be a completely separate country, with no direct relationship at all with the EU except as specified by international organizations like the World Trade Organization (WTO).

    Leo Varadkar, the prime minister of Ireland, has made the EU demand explicit:

    "We’ve been given assurances that there will be no hard border in Ireland, that there won’t be any physical infrastructure, that we won’t go back to the borders of the past.

    We want that written down in practical terms in the conclusions of phase one [by December 14]."

    Liam Fox, UK Secretary of State for International Trade, says that the UK will not be able to provide a committed solution to the Irish border problem in time to meet the EU and Irish demands. Fox says that the Irish border problem cannot be solved until trade negotiations are well under way. The EU says that trade negotiations cannot get under way until the Irish border problem is solved. Chicken and eggs for breakfast, anyone? (Paragraph corrected, 28-Nov)

    Northern Ireland is a part of the UK. Southern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland or just Ireland, is a separation nation, and a member nation of the European Union. Today, both Northern Ireland and Ireland are part of the European Union, and there's no visible border between the two. Goods and people can travel freely between them.

    If the UK leaves the EU, then Northern Ireland and Ireland will be in two different countries, and there would have to be border controls between them -- watchtowers, border posts, visa and passport checks at ports and airports, and tariffs on imported goods.

    Leaders of all the parties -- the UK, the EU, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland -- all agree that the invisible border must remain invisible. The problem is that no one can figure out how to do that if Brexit is to occur.

    The border issue goes beyond watchtowers and border posts, because of the decades of violence known as "The Troubles," where there were violent clashes between the indigenous ethnic Irish Gaelics (the Catholics) and the descendants of the English and Scottish invaders (the Protestants). These clashes were resolved only 20 years ago by the 1998 Good Friday Agreement (the Belfast Agreement) that resolved many issues, and particularly eliminated the hard border, turning it into an "invisible border" that anyone can cross at any time. Many people are expressing concerns that a new hard border would bring about a return to The Troubles. BBC and Reuters and Irish Times and Guardian (London) and NY Review of Books

    Ireland's government faces vote of no confidence on Wednesday

    Leo Varadkar, the prime minister of Ireland, is facing a vote of no confidence on Wednesday that could lead to the collapse of his government and force new elections before Christmas, possibly further complicating the Brexit negotiations.

    In 2015, Sergeant Maurice McCabe became a whistleblower and came forward to report several issues involving corruption in the Garda, Ireland's National Police Force. Officials in the Garda allegedly tried to undermine McCabe's testimony with a phony sexual abuse accusation.

    A May, 2014, e-mail message to then-Minister of Justice Frances Fitzgerald has emerged, suggesting that she was aware of the phony charges, but did nothing about them. Fitzgerald says that she may have read the e-mail message, but forgot it because it recommended she take no further action.

    Frances Fitzgerald is currently Ireland's deputy premier, and Varadkar's opposition is demanding that she resign.

    Varadkar is now in intense negotiations with the opposition:

    "We are trying to find a middle way that allows the Government to continue and continue with the important work we are doing, particularly with Brexit and ensuring that we have necessary legislation through. We are doing everything we can."

    If no compromise is reached, then a motion of no confidence will be offered on Tuesday night. If the government collapses, then Varadkar will be a caretaker prime minister when he travels to Brussels for the December 13-14 Brexit summit. Belfast Telegraph and Bloomberg and Independent (Ireland) and Ireland Joe

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Nov-17 World View -- The issue of Ireland's border threatens to collapse EU-UK Brexit negotiations. thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Nov-2017) Permanent Link
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    27-Nov-17 World View -- Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin hug and declare the end of war in Syria

    Syrian regime and Russia launch brutal attack on rebel-held areas in East Ghouta

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Syrian regime and Russia launch brutal attack on rebel-held areas in East Ghouta


    Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad hug and say that the Syria war is at an end (AP)
    Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad hug and say that the Syria war is at an end (AP)

    At least 127 people, including 30 children, have been killed in the last two weeks by shelling by the army of the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russian warplanes. 23 people, including 5 children, were killed on Sunday.

    Drones have patrolled the sky since Sunday morning and warplanes had heavily bombarded the towns of Mesraba and Harasta. Heavy shelling also hit Eastern Ghouta and dozens had been injured. Ghouta residents are so short of food that they are eating trash, fainting from hunger and forcing their children to eat on alternate days, according to United Nations reports.

    The region struck by Syrian artillery and Russian warplanes is listed as a "de-escalation" zone, by agreement between Russia, Iran and Turkey in a series of "peace talks" held in Astana, Kazakhstan. However, Bashar al-Assad never agreed to abide by the de-escalation zone agreement.

    Opposition fighters in the area have been retaliating by sending artillery shells into Damascus. There are some 300,000 people in Eastern Ghouta, and al-Assad is apparently planning to do what he did in Aleppo: Target women and children in marketplaces, schools and marketplaces, and kill as many of the 300,000 people as he can. Al-Assad has used Sarin gas in Ghouta in the past to kill large groups, and he may do so again. Reuters and Daily Star (Lebanon) and Al Jazeera

    Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin hug and declare the end of war in Syria

    The picture at the beginning of this article showing Russia's president Vladimir Putin and Syria's president Bashar al-Assad hugging during a meeting in Sochi last week was meant to send a message to the world that the war in Syria was over, and the two men had brought about the victory.

    At the meeting, Putin said:

    "I asked the Syrian president to stop by. I would like to introduce you to people [al-Assad] who played a key role in saving Syria.

    Regarding our joint operation to fight terrorists in Syria, this military operation is indeed coming to an end. I'm pleased to see your willingness to work with everyone who wants peace and settlement."

    I've occasionally quoted Joshua Landis, an American analyst and expert on Syria, who is widely quoted in the media. When I quoted Landis two months ago, he was quite pessimistic about Syria, and thought that the violence was spiking almost uncontrollably.

    Well, he was interviewed by the BBC again on Sunday, and this time he seems to agree with al-Assad and Putin that the war is over, and they had won it. He referred to plans for a Geneva peace conference to begin on Tuesday (my transcription):

    "It is the end game for the rebels. The Syrian army has conquered big swaths of the country back. Most of the foreign supporters -- Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the US, Turkey -- have really become dispirited and feel like the civil war is over. They don't wanna continue giving them money. So it is the death knell for these rebel groups. ...

    The Syrian opposition that America has supported -- they just met in Saudi Arabia and named a new leader and they're going to be in Geneva. They have promised not to demand that Assad go, but they insist on a transitional government, and the question is, what role does Assad play in that? The Americans want there to be elections overseen by the UN, The opposition believes that this is a trap, that Assad will never allow free elections, that the West won't enforce free elections. And this will all become a lot of words and rhetoric towards Assad regaining literacy and rule.

    This hug [between Putin and al-Assad] in Sochi was a victory hug in a sense, claiming that they had won against ISIS, and they had won in the face of the world, and that's what they were trying to convey. The sense is that if the world wants to move ahead in Syria, they have to recognize Assad has won, Russia has won. The United States is not really prepared to do that. The US has helped what they call the Syrian Defense Forces (SDF), which are really Kurdish forces in the north of the country. [The SDF] destroyed a lot of ISIS territory, but 25% of Syria's territory is now dominated by these Kurdish forces, and there are 2,000 American special forces in the north of Syria, Almost 50% of Syria's oil is in that region. So that gives America a lot of leverage. The US authorities have said that they're gonna stay in Syria until they get traction with the Geneva process.

    I don't think we're going to get a lot of mileage out of Geneva. Assad believes he's won. He is not going to make concessions, even if America stays in northern Syria. I think Assad will surround the Americans, he will talk with the Turks, and he will try to pressure the Kurds and the Americans, who are in a weak position there, and think, "I can sit them out, I'll wait until President Trump is out of there, the next president comes in."

    [President Putin has come out of this domestically looking pretty good.] Russia is helping to establish a new security architecture in the northern Middle East, with Iran, where Iran and Russia will have a lot of sway, in countries stretching from Iran right through to Lebanon, where Hezbollah is the biggest, strongest power. And this really pushes the United States out of this region, and helps Russia regain a lot of the sphere of influence that it lost during the cold war. And even Turkey is now going to Russia much more often then it's going to Washington.

    This has implications [for NATO and] for the entire region, and for American power, which used to be the dominant superpower. Today the world is looking a lot more like the 19th century Europe where there's spheres of influence, with lots of different great powers, all elbowing each other for leverage and sway."

    Landis claims that al-Assad and Putin have won, and the opposition has lost, but he certainly doesn't make that case, except by repeating Putin's claims. And many things are omitted.

    Let's start with Saudi Arabia, who Landis says is "dispirited" and resigned to an al-Assad victory. The new Saudi leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), in the last three months has taken numerous extremely aggressive and surprising steps to block what he sees is an existential threat from Iran. These steps included a land, sea and air blockade of Qatar, a land, sea and air blockade of Yemen, a house arrest of dozens of wealthy Saudis on charges of corruption, and bringing about the resignation of Lebanon's prime minister Saad al-Hariri. Does Landis or anyone think that MBS is going to stop there, and just let Iran gain control of parts of Syria? I certainly don't think so.

    Next, Russia has announced that it will substantially reduce its forces in Syria by the end of the year. Two years ago, al-Assad was facing complete defeat, until Russia intervened with massive military forces, especially airstrikes. Russia's forces saved al-Assad, and in particular destruction of Aleppo was accomplished by Russia's warplanes. East Ghouta is larger than Aleppo, which indicates to me that Russia's military will have to stay engaged a lot longer than the end of the year.

    Landis points out that the Kurds control 25% of Syria, including half of the country's oil, and that the Kurds are backed by US forces. This Kurdish control is intolerable to al-Assad. Landis says that al-Assad will simply wait until Donald Trump is replaced by another president. Huh? Is al-Assad really willing to wait and allow the Kurds to consolidate their control of the region until 2020 or 2024? And why is he so certain that the next president would allow the Kurds to be killed by al-Assad (and the Turks)?

    Putin, al-Assad and Landis all have what I would call a "1990s mentality." At that time, most of the world was in a generational Unraveling era, meaning that survivors of World War II were still alive and running things, and were prepared to make sure that nothing spiraled into war.

    Today, the world is in a generational Crisis era, with the WW II survivors gone, replaced in positions of power by younger generations with almost no clue what's going on in the world. In the 1990s, Saudi Arabia might have been content just to let the situation in Syria resolve itself. Today, Saudi leader MBS has already proven that he's not willing to let anything just resolve itself. People today who make plans based on a "1990s mentality" are going to be terribly wrong. The world is a very different place today than it was in the 1990s.

    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. AP and Deutsche Welle and Arab News/AFP and Middle East Eye

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Nov-17 World View -- Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin hug and declare the end of war in Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Nov-2017) Permanent Link
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    26-Nov-17 World View -- Widespread riots in Pakistan triggered by phony blasphemy charges

    Pakistan releases Hafiz Saeed, mastermind of the horrific 2008 Mumbai massacre

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Widespread riots in Pakistan triggered by phony blasphemy charges


    Hafiz Saeed, mastermind of the horrific 2008 26/11 Mumbai massacre, is released from jail and receives cheers and showers of rose petals (Reuters)
    Hafiz Saeed, mastermind of the horrific 2008 26/11 Mumbai massacre, is released from jail and receives cheers and showers of rose petals (Reuters)

    Several of Pakistan's cities are paralyzed by major roads being blocked by thousands of Islamists sitting in, demanding that the government be dissolved. More than 100 people were injured on Saturday in clashes between police and the protesters, after 4,000 police officers were called out to disperse the protesters.

    The government has called in the army to help end the protests, but it's unknown whether the army will obey, since many suspect that the army is on the side of the protesters.

    By nightfall, the protests had spread to other cities, including Karachi, Lahore and Quetta, and hundreds had been injured.

    Television footage showed a police vehicle on fire, heavy curtains of smoke and fires burning in the streets as officers in heavy riot gear advanced. Protesters, some wearing gas masks, fought back in scattered battles across empty highways and surrounding neighborhoods. The government has reacted by ordering private tv stations off the air, and by blocking social media.

    The protests were triggered by a blasphemy charge last month against a government minister. Blasphemy charges in Pakistan are almost always phony, but phony blasphemy charges are used freely in Pakistan as justification for any kind of uncontrolled mob violence or any kind of unjustified murder or jailing.

    The blasphemy charge is being leveled at the law minister Zahid Hamid, because of a modification to a political oath. The wording of the oath removed the declamation that Mohammed was the last prophet of Islam.

    The original wording of the oath has been restored, but that's not satisfactory to the protesters.

    Hamid says that he had nothing to do with changing the wording of the oath. The government is trying to pressure him to resign, and offering to appoint him as ambassador to the country of his choice. He's rejected all such offers, and is quoted as saying, "For god’s sake do not make me another Salman Taseer and bring forth all the officials responsible for the Khatm-e-Nabuwwat fiasco." ("Khatm-e-Nabuwwat" is the name of the oath.)

    Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province in Pakistan, was shot 28 times in broad daylight in an open marketplace on January 4, 2011. The killer was his bodyguard, Mumtaz Qadri. The motive, as described by Qadri, was to punish Taseer for objecting to Pakistan's blasphemy laws, and for calling for the release of a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who was in jail facing execution for violating the blasphemy laws. Qadri was finally executed last year, but not before he became a national hero for killing Taseer over a phony blasphemy charge.

    So Hamid does not want to be murdered like Taseer, and his residence has already been ransacked by crazed protesters, shattering windows and destroying furniture. But he's also threatening to reveal the people in government who were actually responsible for the wording change.

    Pakistan's government, governed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), is close to collapse. The former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is still the head of the party, but he was forced out of office by the court in July because he had been accused of corruption and was face with a trial. Opposition parties are calling for early elections. The government is desperate to end this crisis, but if Hamid continues to refuse to resign, it may not survive. Dawn (Pakistan) and Reuters and Pakistan Today and Express Tribune (Pakistan)

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    Pakistan releases Hafiz Saeed, mastermind of the horrific 2008 26/11 Mumbai massacre

    Hafiz Saeed, the head of the now outlawed Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) terrorist group, has been freed from house arrest with no trial and all charges dropped.

    India and Pakistan were at the brink of war following the November 2008 three-day '26/11' terror attack in Mumbai. That attack was perpetrated by Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT). India threatened to invade Pakistani soil to go after Lashkar-e-Toiba, but Pakistan promised to prosecute LeT members itself. Now Hafiz Saeed, the head of LeT and the mastermind of the Mumbai attack, has been freed by a Pakistan court, greeted by chanting crowds and rose petals.

    According to a statement from the White House:

    "Saeed’s release, after Pakistan’s failure to prosecute or charge him, sends a deeply troubling message about Pakistan’s commitment to [combating] international terrorism and belies Pakistani claims that it will not provide sanctuary for terrorists on its soil.

    If Pakistan does not take action to lawfully detain Saeed and charge him for his crimes, its inaction will have repercussions for bilateral relations and for Pakistan’s global reputation."

    The exact nature of the "repercussions" was not specified.

    This story, and the previous story about the rise of extreme Islamist groups and their ability to shut down entire Pakistan cities, suggests that Pakistan is in the midst of a major political shift that could bring Islamist extremist political parties into power. This is of particular concern in Pakistan, which has nuclear weapons.

    There are new Pakistan elections scheduled for 2018, and that may clarify the situation. At the least, talk of peace with India, particularly in Kashmir, is probably not in the cards. Dawn (Pakistan) and Reuters and The Diplomat

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Nov-17 World View -- Widespread riots in Pakistan triggered by phony blasphemy charges thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Nov-2017) Permanent Link
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    25-Nov-17 World View -- Egypt's worst terrorist attack in modern history kills 235 people in Sufi mosque

    Friday's attack is a major escalation in north Sinai terrorism

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Egypt's worst terrorist attack in modern history kills 235 people in Sufi mosque


    Rescue personnel at the site of the bomb blast at Al-Rawda mosque in North Sinai. (Gulf News)
    Rescue personnel at the site of the bomb blast at Al-Rawda mosque in North Sinai. (Gulf News)

    At least 235 people were killed on Friday when terrorists stormed the Al-Rawda mosque in Bir al-Abed in Egypt's Northern Sinai with explosives and gunfire with heavy weapons. This was the deadliest terror attack in Egypt's modern history, the previous record having been set by a terror attack on July 23, 2005, on Egypt's resort city Sharm el-Sheikh, killing 88 people. The 2015 downing of Metrojet Flight 9268 killed all 224 passengers onboard, but investigation has not yet revealed the cause of the crash.

    Egypt's president Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi promised revenge for these "vile and treacherous" attacks:

    "The army and police will avenge our martyrs and return security and stability with force in the coming short period."

    On Friday afternoon a military operation was launched, targeting suspects in North Sinai. According to Egyptian media:

    "The response will be on the ground and will not stop until the elimination of everyone involved in the attack. We are taking our revenge now."

    In 2014, al-Sisi declared a state of emergency in northern Sinai following a suicide bombing that killed 33 soldiers. He said at the time that "the war in Sinai will last for a long time, as there are a lot of terrorists hiding in the peninsula, but this new level of attacks has put us in a new level of planning too in order to combat the terrorism there."

    Since then, Egypt's military has attacked in northern Sinai numerous targets suspected of being terrorists. Al-Sisi's critics have called the attacks a "scorched earth policy" that has embittered the Bedouin tribes in northern Sinai, and encouraged them to support the terrorist groups. Egyptian Streets and Al Ahram (Cairo) and Times of Israel and Al Jazeera

    Related: Egypt in state of emergency after terrorist attack in Sinai (26-Oct-2014)

    Friday's attack creates another roadblock for Hamas-Fatah unity

    When the above-mentioned terror attack occurred in 2014, it was a few weeks after the end of summer war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, and Egypt had mediated a truce that ended the war. One of the terms of the agreement is that the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt would be reopened, allowing people and goods to pass back and forth between Gaza and Egypt. After the terror attack, Egypt closed the Rafah border crossing again, and it's been opened only sporadically since then.

    On October 12 of this year, Egypt mediated a reconciliation and unity agreement between Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank. The two Palestinian groups have been enemies since they were at war in 2008, and multiple attempts at reconciliation have failed.

    The new agreement requires that the Rafah border crossing be opened permanently, with the crossing under control of Fatah rather than Hamas. The border crossing was opened for the first time last Saturday for three days.

    It was scheduled to be opened again today (Saturday), but Egypt has reportedly said that the reopening will be delayed indefinitely. It's already been unclear that the Hamas-Fatah unity government would succeed, because of a disagreement over whether Hamas must give up its weapons, but this terror attack creates one more roadblock. AFP

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    Friday's attack is a major escalation in north Sinai terrorism

    No one has yet claimed credit for Friday's attack on the Al-Rawda mosque, but it's believed that the perpetrators were the Bedouin-based Sinai terrorist group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM - Ansar Jerusalem - Champions of Jerusalem), which 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).

    According to several analysts, this is a major escalation by ABM because it targets so many civilians, and because it exhibits a skill level not seen before. A detailed explanation was given on al-Jazeera by Omar Ashour from Arab Center For Research And Policy Studies in Doha (my transcription):

    "[ABM is the] most powerful armed non-state actor in Egypt's modern history. Capable of operating in a conventional special forces like way, capable of using light artillery, capable of using guided anti-tank missiles, using guided anti-aircraft missiles, and fighting partly in a conventional way, partly in a guerrilla warfare way, but also using a long campaign of urban terrorism.

    So the tribal code here was violated: First time attack on a mosque, first time attack on Sufis.

    Usually the indiscriminate attacks are targeting Copts [Coptic Christians], or targeting soldiers and officers from the army and the police, or sometimes targeting Israel.

    But those other attacks are very very discriminatory, especially when it comes to informants. If there's somebody who's accused of being an informant, they target him. They try to avoid his family or his friends or the people around him.

    The same thing applies to some of the militia tribesmen who fight along with the army. They target the specific groups of tribesmen, but they don't attack the whole tribe.

    So this is new, in terms of its lethality, and in terms of its indiscriminately targeting a large section of the society."

    Other analysts have pointed out that the particular mosque that was targeted by terrorists on Friday was owned by a Bedouin tribe that had been cooperating with Egypt's security forces. That would make Friday's attack consistent with previous assaults, which had mainly targeted security forces and Egypt's Christian minority. Gulf News and CNN

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Nov-17 World View -- Egypt's worst terrorist attack in modern history kills 235 people in Sufi mosque thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Nov-2017) Permanent Link
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    24-Nov-17 World View -- India and China support Burma (Myanmar) on Rohingya ethnic cleansing for business reasons

    China proposes farcical three-point solution to Rohingya crisis

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Burma makes farcical agreement with Bangladesh to take back Rohingya refugees


    A Rohingya girl in a Bangladesh refugee camp, her face covered in 'thanaka', a comestic makeup paste widely used in the region, made from ground bark (AP)
    A Rohingya girl in a Bangladesh refugee camp, her face covered in 'thanaka', a comestic makeup paste widely used in the region, made from ground bark (AP)

    Ethnic cleansing "clearance operations" by Burma's (Myanmar's) army have driven some 620,000 ethnic Rohingyas from Rakhine State into Bangladesh, threatening to destabilize the entire region. Burma and Bangladesh have now reached an agreement to return the Rohingyas starting in three months, but only after all the appropriate forms have been filled out for each one.

    Burma's Buddhist army has been conducting atrocities on Muslim ethnic Rohingyas in Rakhine State since 2012. In November of last year, the United Nations found that Burma's army was "killing men, shooting them, slaughtering children, raping women, burning and looting houses, forcing these people to cross the river" into Bangladesh. Satellite images showed that Burma's army was burning down entire villages where Rohingyas had lived for decades, in order to perform ethnic cleansing -- "cleanse" Rakhine State of all Rohingyas.

    The attacks were led by Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu and his "969 movement," where 969 is a historic Buddhist sign, referring to the nine qualities of Buddha, the six qualities of Buddha's teaching, and nine qualities of the Buddhist community. 969 is supposed to promote peace and happiness, although Wirathu's 969 movement is a vehicle promoting violence. And now the Burma's army is apparently taking over the movement with ethnic cleansing.

    After several years of these atrocities by Burma's army, Rohingya activists have formed the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), which attacked 8 Burmese police posts in October of last year. These attacks provoked a wave of deadly "clearance operations" by Burma's army, and forced tens of thousands of Rohingyas to flee the violence into Bangladesh.

    On August 25 of this year, ARSA conducted coordinated attacks on 30 police outposts and an army base. This became a major violence trigger for the entire Burmese army. Whereas the "clearance operations" by Myanmar's army previously appeared to be reasonably disciplined, after August 25 they became extremely undisciplined and disorganized, to the point of mass bloody chaos, with the results that thousands fled across the border to Bangladesh each day. There are now around 620,000 Rohingya refugees in refugee camps in Bangladesh.

    Burma's "clearance operations" of Rohingyas is also creating a diplomatic problem for the Pope, who is scheduled to visit Myanmar on November 26 to December 2. The Pope is being cautioned not even to use the word "Rohingya," for fear that Burma's army will turn from murdering and cleansing Rohingyas to murdering and cleansing the Christian minority, particularly the 700,000 Roman Catholics.

    On the other hand, if the Pope says nothing, then he risks his moral authority, in the same way that Pope Pius XII lost his moral authority for not criticizing the Nazi Holocaust. According to Father Thomas Reese, an analyst at Religion News Service:

    "He risks either compromising his moral authority or putting in danger the Christians of that country.

    I have great admiration for the pope and his abilities, but someone should have talked him out of making this trip."

    On Wednesday, for the first time, the US administration raised the threat of targeted sanctions against Burmese officials, when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson referred to the "horrendous atrocities" as "ethnic cleansing" of Rohingyas. This has raised fears of a backlash, with the result that the US embassy in Myanmar on Thursday suspended official travel to parts of Rakhine until 4 December and warned citizens against visiting the areas.

    The agreement that Burma and Bangladesh have reached for the return of refugees looks to me like a joke. There are 620,000 refugees, and the number is still growing every day. Return of refugees won't begin for three months, and then only when forms have been filled out, submitted to the Burma military, and approved. This is clearly a stalling maneuver by Burma, and signing it is an act of desperation by Bangladesh, who are still overwhelmed by the waves of refugees. Reuters and News24 (Bangladesh) and Reuters and Sydney Morning Herald

    China proposes farcical three-point solution to Rohingya crisis

    Last week, China said that Myanmar and Bangladesh should shut out the international community from interfering in the Rohingya crisis, but then offered itself to interfere by mediating between the two countries. According to Chinese state media, China offered a three-phase solution to the "Rakhine issue," without mentioning the Rohingyas:

    China's third phase is particularly farcical. There's poverty in every country in the world, but it doesn't result in hundreds of thousands of refugees. The "Rakhine issue" is not caused by poverty. It's caused by Buddhist monks, members of the so-called religion of peace (Buddhism), and Burma's Buddhist army committing war crimes, raping, torturing and killing innocent civilians, not because of poverty, but because the Burmese vitriolicly hate the Rohingyas and would like to exterminate them.

    China should understand this, because it has conducted similar operations in the past, with its Han Chinese army committing atrocities against its hated Buddhist Tibetans in China.

    Basically, China's three-point proposal is a farce. Global Times (Beijing) and China's Foreign Ministry and Reuters

    India and China support Burma on Rohingya ethnic cleansing for business reasons

    In September, India's ministry of external affairs issued a statement saying:

    "We stand by Myanmar in the hour of its crisis, we strongly condemn the terrorist attack on August 24-25 and condole the death of policemen and soldiers, we will back Myanmar in its fight against terrorism."

    India's statement made no mention of the atrocities committed by Burma since 2012, nor the "clearance operations" that have forced 620,000 Rohingyas so far to flee the violence. As we wrote last month ( "7-Oct-17 World View -- Burma's Rohingya crisis merges with the Kashmir crisis, inflaming the entire region"), Pakistan is siding with the Muslim Rohingyas. ARSA is linking up with anti-Indian jihadist groups in India-controlled Kashmir, so India officials see the Rohingyas as an existential threat. India has also threatened to expel nearly 40,000 Rohingya migrants it says have illegally settled in the country.

    So there's a historical irony here. The ethnic cleansing and war crimes by the Burmese have destabilized the region to the extent that India feels that it must support the army committing the ethnic cleansing and war crimes.

    In September, Hong Liang, China's ambassador to Myanmar, made a similar supportive statement:

    "The stance of China regarding the terrorist attacks in Rakhine is clear, it is just an internal affair; the counterattacks of Myanmar security forces against extremist terrorists and the government’s undertakings to provide assistance to the people are strongly welcomed.

    China’s help for the Rakhine crisis is just a social obligation. The president of the Chinese Entrepreneurs Association, the vice president of the oil and gas pipeline project and responsible personnel from the Kyauk Phyu Deep Sea Port Project were brought here together with him; the company wished to provide assistance to the displaced persons."

    As with India, the Chinese never mentioned the atrocities committed by Burma since 2012, nor the "clearance operations" that have forced 620,000 Rohingyas so far to flee the violence.

    However, the Chinese statement highlights why China supports Myanmar despite the massive ethnic cleansing and slaughter. There are large gas reserves off the coast of Rakhine State, and China brings gas from Kyauk Phyu on Rakhine's coast through the Myanmar-China Gas Pipeline. This gas meets the needs of China’s Yunnan, Guizhou and Guangxi provinces as well as that of other counties and cities. The transportation of this gas is more important to China than the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingyas.

    India also has huge infrastructure projects in Rakhine, including the India-funded Kaladan multi-modal project designed to provide a sea-river-land link to its remote northeast through Sittwe port.

    Both India and China fear the threat of terrorism on the Rakhine infrastructure projects, as well as on Indian and Chinese soil. Indian intelligence expert Major General Gaganjit Singh asks:

    "What if ARSA terrorists attack an Indian ship on the Kaladan river or try blowing up parts of the Yunnan-Kyauk Phyu oil-gas pipeline as the [separatist group United Liberation Front of Assam] used to do in [the Indian state of] Assam? Such scenarios cannot be discounted."

    Readers may recall that in September there was a threat of war between India and China over a border conflict in Bhutan's Doklam Plateau. That dispute was suddenly and unexpected settled and analysts could only guess at the reasons. Part of the speculation was that a conflict would spill over into Kashmir or into the Indian Ocean. Now there's another possibility: the fear that a Doklam border conflict might spill over into the Rakhine infrastructure projects of both countries. South China Morning Post (18-Oct) and Jamestown and Global New Light Of Myanmar and CNBC

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Nov-17 World View -- India and China support Burma (Myanmar) on Rohingya ethnic cleansing for business reasons thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Nov-2017) Permanent Link
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    23-Nov-17 World View -- Thanksgiving euphoria in Zimbabwe as Emmerson Mnangagwa replaces Robert Mugabe

    Observers fear a new Zimbabwe dictatorship under Emmerson Mnangagwa

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Thanksgiving euphoria in Zimbabwe when Robert Mugabe resigns after 37 years


    Newspaper front pages across Africa express euphoria at the resignation of Robert Mugabe (BBC World News)
    Newspaper front pages across Africa express euphoria at the resignation of Robert Mugabe (BBC World News)

    On Tuesday, Zimbabwe's parliament was in session listening to speaker after speaker tell why president Robert Mugabe should be impeached and removed from office. Observers were claiming that the impeachment process would be completed within two days.

    In the middle of the legislative session, a messenger delivered a letter to the speaker, which he began to read aloud:

    "The honorable Jacob Mudenda, notice of resignation as President of the Republic of Zimbabwe in terms of the provisions of Section 96 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe (Amendment Number 20), 2013. Following my verbal communication with the Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda at 13:53 hours, 21st November, 2017 intimating my intention to resign as the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, I Robert Gabriel Mugabe in terms of section 96 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe hereby formally tender my resignation as the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe with immediate effect.

    My decision to resign is voluntary from my heart and arises for my concern for the people of Zimbabwe and my desire for the smooth, peaceful and non-violent transfer of power that underpins national security, peace and stability. Kindly give public notice of my resignation as soon as possible as required by section 96 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe."

    When he read the word "notice of resignation," there was wild cheering, the thumping of tables, dancing and singing. Mugabe had been Zimbabwe's dictator for 37 years, but now the age of Robert Mugabe was finally over.

    The euphoric celebrations quickly spread into the streets of the capital city Harare, when thousands of Zimbabweans flooding the streets, dancing and singing.

    There are a number of unanswered questions about Robert Mugabe's resignation. Did Mugabe really switch speeches at the last minute on Sunday just before his nationalized televised speech, double-crossing the army? Then, why did he suddenly resign on Tuesday?

    Where is Robert Mugabe now? Where is his young wife Grace Mugabe? Will either of them be charged with treason? BBC and Zimbabwe Herald and BBC

    Related: Robert Mugabe stuns Zimbabwe by refusing to step down (20-Nov-2017)

    Observers fear a new Zimbabwe dictatorship under Emmerson Mnangagwa

    Tuesday's euphoria over Mugabe's resignation was renewed on Wednesday with a speech by 75-year-old Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa to a very enthusiastic crowd. He said:

    "The people have spoken. The voice of the people is the voice of God. Today we are witnessing the beginning of a new and unfolding democracy. ...

    I have also communicated with the South African and Namibian Presidents as well as Former Tanzanian President Mr Jakaya Kikwete and they have applauded Zimbabweans for the peaceful manner and conduct during the operation.

    People want food, security and jobs. We need to work together to ensure we deliver. I dedicate myself to be your servant."

    Many Zimbabweans, as well as many observers, were thrilled to hear this skilled politician of many decades make promises of food, security, jobs and a new democracy, but others were skeptical.

    Although Mugabe recently fired Mnangagwa as vice-president, triggering the current crisis that led to Mugabe's downfall, the two men nonetheless worked closely together since independence in 1981.

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

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

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

    This transformation from breadbasket to basket case is very apparent to the people of Zimbabwe, and along with the sudden appearance of political freed is why the people are euphoric that Mugabe is gone.

    However, others point out that Mnangagwa is no different than Mugabe, and will purse the same brutal policies.

    This was already signaled on Wednesday when Mnangagwa gave his speech. He could have given it at a neutral venue, so that all segments of Zimbabwe society could attend.

    Instead, he gave it from Zanu-pf headquarters, which is the political party of the Shona tribe. And although he gave the speech in English, for the benefit of the international audience, he gave the last part of the speech in his native Shona language, for the benefit of his supporters, to the exclusion of others:

    "Dogs can keep on barking and barking, while the train that is Zanu-pf continues to rule."

    This is the kind of language that Robert Mugabe used regularly, and Zimbabweans in the Ndebele tribe see this statement as a signal that Mnangagwa is going to be as violent towards the Ndebeles as ever.

    Mnangagwa is scheduled to be sworn in as president on Friday. After that, we'll see if anything has really changed. Zimbabwe Herald and BBC and Guardian (London) and Globe and Mail (Canada) and New Zimbabwe Vision (Blog)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Nov-17 World View -- Thanksgiving euphoria in Zimbabwe as Emmerson Mnangagwa replaces Robert Mugabe thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Nov-2017) Permanent Link
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    22-Nov-17 World View -- Italy is blamed for shocking increase in slave trade in Libya

    Italy defends its role in Libya's slave trade

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    CNN investigation finds thriving slave trade in Libya


    A migrant looks out of a barred door at a detention center in Gharyan, Libya, Oct. 12, 2017. (Reuters)
    A migrant looks out of a barred door at a detention center in Gharyan, Libya, Oct. 12, 2017. (Reuters)

    While Americans have been riveted to the sexual harassment scandal, Europeans and Africans have been riveted to a CNN video that reveals a thriving slave trade in Libya.

    Reporters carried concealed cameras to a slave auction just outside Tripoli, the capital city of Libya. They witnessed a dozen men auctioned off in the space of six or seven minutes.

    That auctioneer says, "Does anybody need a digger? This is a digger, a big strong man, he'll dig. What am I bid, what am I bid?"

    The bidding goes on, and the man is auctioned off for $400-1000. Within minutes, the man is handed over to his new "master."

    The men are migrants who had come from countries like Niger, Chad, Mali and Algeria, and paid sometimes thousands of dollars to human traffickers to take them to Libya. Once in Libya, they would have to pay another human trafficker to put them onto a dangerously overcrowded boat, where they hope to reach Italy. But if they run out of money in Libya, then they can be imprisoned in detention camps, or sold as slaves.

    The CNN video and revelations about the slave trade in Libya resulted in sometimes violent protests in Paris, when over a thousand protestors demonstrated outside Libya's embassy in Paris, carrying banners saying, "No to slavery in Libya." The protestors threw stones at the police tried to break into the embassy, and the police fired tear gas.

    The demonstration was called by the Collectif contre l’esclavage et les camps de concentration en Libye (CECCL – the Collective against Slavery and Concentration Camps in Libya), set up in Paris after the CNN video was broadcast.

    On Tuesday, the UN Security Council approved a resolution urging tougher action to crack down on human trafficking and modern slavery worldwide. CNN (14-Nov) and Reuters and Libya Herald and Africa News and AP

    Italy defends its role in Libya's slave trade

    More than 600,000 people from Africa, Asia and the Middle East have arrived in Italy since 2014, and a record 180,000 refugees crossed the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy in 2016, but instead of setting a new record in 2017, the number of refugees has fallen substantially, thanks to deals that Italy's government made with Libya's tribes, warlords, and coast guard.

    Under the deals, Italy pays money to tribal militias and officials to prevent refugees from entering Libya or, once there, to detain them and prevent them from proceeding further on their trip to Europe.

    These deals have been heavily condemned by human rights organizations as inhumane, because it leaves the refugees vulnerable to abuse, and the slave auctions are being pointed to as evidence not only of abuse, but of a return to a slave trade that was supposedly a remnant of the past.

    However, the fact still remains that the policy, however cruel and inhumane, has led to a sharp drop in migrants reaching Italy, which is the outcome that Italian officials were seeking, especially after other EU countries refused to accept any of the refugees themselves.

    "The suffering of migrants detained in Libya is an outrage to the conscience of humanity," according to the UN. However, Italy's interior minister Marco Minniti defended the policy:

    "The alternative cannot be to resign ourselves to the impossibility of managing migratory flows and hand human traffickers the keys to European democracies.

    [The human rights issue] is, was and will be a question we will not relinquish, but we know that condemning (abuses) is not enough, we must act."

    Minniti didn't specify any details, but he may be referring to a "revolutionary" proposal put forth by Italy's foreign minister Angelino Alfano two months ago. Under the plan, refugees in Libya would be evaluated, and 50,000 of the most vulnerable would be resettled to other countries. This plan sounds like wishful thinking, since a quote plan adopted by the European Union in 2014 has been a complete failure, because many EU countries refused to accept refugees for resettlement. AFP (15-Nov) and AFP (29-Sep)

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    21-Nov-17 World View -- China's envoy to North Korea fails to end nuclear crisis

    Speculation grows of North Korea's Kim Jong-un illness as his weight soars

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Speculation grows of North Korea's Kim Jong-un illness as his weight soars


    The gargantuan Kim Jong-un inspects a tractor factory last week (AFP)
    The gargantuan Kim Jong-un inspects a tractor factory last week (AFP)

    A year ago, reports indicated that concerns were growing among North Korea officials about the health of child dictator Kim Jong-un, who had been gaining weight rapidly from consuming high-quality cheeses, Big Macs, vodka, steak, and sushi, and who had been apparently drinking heavily and smoking heavily, with the result that he was suffering from gout, diabetes, high blood pressure, high uric acid, and high cholesterol. Earlier this year, state media showed him limping.

    Now the speculation about his health has been growing again. Recent pictures show he has ballooned in weight again and appeared to be struggling. On a cosmetic factory visit, he was uneasy on his feet and needed a folding chair, while on another trip to a shoe factory his face was dripping in sweat.

    The child dictator has also been quiet for two months in provocative actions. The last ballistic missile launch was on 15 September, while the last nuclear test was on 3 September. Some analysts are attributing this long pause to American president Donald Trump's threat to unleash "fire and fury" on North Korea, and later adding that the military options are "locked and loaded," later referring to Kim as "Rocket Man."

    But other analysts speculate that this delay in nuclear and ballistic missile testing is another sign that he is unwell. Either way, nobody seriously believes that North Korea has ended its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile testing, and new tests can occur at any time. News Corp Australia and Deccan Chronicle (India) and Daily Star (London)

    Related: N. Korean officials reportedly alarmed at Kim Jong-un's drinking and massive weight gain (04-Aug-2016)

    China's envoy to North Korea fails to end nuclear crisis

    A special envoy sent personally by China's president Xi Jinping to North Korea has returned to China amid signs that he apparently failed in his mission.

    The envoy, Song Tao, met with several North Korean party officials. But as a special envoy sent personally by Xi Jinping, Song Tao should also have had at least a brief meeting with North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un, but several sources confirm that no meeting took place, something that is being interpreted as a snub directed at Xi Jinping himself.

    Even more important, there is no sign that any agreement was reached on the nuclear crisis, which many international observers had been hoping. When the envoy was first announced, even Donald Trump tweeted that it was a big move, and "we'll see what happens."

    Well, there was no sign of a breakthrough on the nuclear crisis, and the snub that Kim delivered to the envoy suggests that whatever proposal Song Tao brought with him from Kim Jong-un was not only rejected, but was rejected in as offensive a way as possible.

    Actually, proposal that China most likely advanced has already rejected by the US, referring to it as "insulting." At the United Nations in September, China stated its "freeze for freeze" proposal:

    "The situation on the peninsula is deteriorating constantly as we speak, falling into a vicious circle. The peninsula issue must be resolved peacefully. ...

    The proposal by China and Russia of a two-track approach, which promotes the denuclearization of the peninsula, and the establishment of a peace mechanism in parallel the suspension initiative which calls for the DPRK to suspend its nuclear missile activities and for the United States and the Republic of Korea to suspend their large scale military exercises and the step by step conception from Russia are the basis on which both countries currently propose a roadmap to resolve the peninsula issue."

    Under this proposal, the United States and South Korea would end their annual joint military exercises, while North Korea would supposedly freeze its nuclear weapons development. This freeze for freeze proposal is something of a joke, since the West has made numerous concessions in the past in return for a North Korean promise to end nuclear weapons development, but they simply go underground with development, and later repudiate their promise whenever they want.

    At the same United Nations Security Council meeting, US ambassador Nikki Haley responded to the proposal statement by calling it "insulting":

    "The idea that some have suggested the so-called "freeze for freeze" is insulting. When a rogue regime has a nuclear weapon, and an ICBM is pointed at you, you do not take steps to lower your guard. no one would do that, and we certainly won't."

    So, we don't know whether the same "freeze for freeze" concept was proposed by Song Tao to the North Koreans, but many believe that it was, and that it was rejected as firmly and offensively as possible. Xinhua and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and Nikkei and The Diplomat

    Trump declares North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism

    President Donald Trump has announced that the US will designate North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism, referring to it as a "murderous regime."

    Iran, Sudan and Syria are currently the only countries on the list. North Korea used to be on the list, but it was removed by President George Bush in 2008 in the hope that it would convince the North Koreans to end their development nuclear weapons.

    However, as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledged, there are already so many international sanctions on North Korea that designating it as a state sponsor of terrorism will have little effect except symbolically. AP and Daily Mail (London)

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    20-Nov-17 World View -- Robert Mugabe stuns Zimbabwe by refusing to step down

    Plans go ahead to impeach Mugabe

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Robert Mugabe stuns Zimbabwe by refusing to step down


    Robert Mugabe, giving his speech on Sunday
    Robert Mugabe, giving his speech on Sunday

    The people of Zimbabwe, as well as the international media reporters, were uniformly stunned (or gobsmacked, as one BBC reporter said) by Sunday's events, that were incredible even by the standards of Zimbabwe.

    First, as expected, the governing party of president Robert Mugabe's governing Zanu-pf party voted to expel him from the party, and to demand his resignation. According to the resolutions of the Zanu-pf Central Committee:

    "The Central Committee congratulated the masses of Zimbabwe for their participation in the historic solidarity march yesterday in support of the Zimbabwe War Veterans’ Association. ...

    That Cde R.G. Mugabe be and he is hereby recalled from the position of President and First Secretary of Zanu-PF forthwith. Further, the resolutions that Cde R.G. Mugabe should resign forthwith from his position as President and Head of State and Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe and if the resignation has not tendered by midday tomorrow 20 November 2017 (Monday), the Zanu-PF Chief Whip (Cde Lovemore Matuke) is ordered to institute proceedings for the recall of the President in terms of Section 97 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. ...

    That Cde E. D. Mnangagwa be the party’s nominee to be appointed to fill the vacancy of State President in terms of Part 4, paragraph 14 sub paragraph 5 of the Sixth Schedule of Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Number 20. That the Extraordinary Congress scheduled for 12th to the 17th of December 2017 should proceed for purposes of ratifying the decisions we have taken this afternoon, in particular ratifying the appointment of Cde ED Mnangagwa as the First Secretary and President of Zanu-PF. The Extraordinary Congress should also ratify the decision we have taken today to recall Cde R.G. Mugabe as President and First Secretary of Zanu-PF. ...

    That Cde Phelekezela Mphoko be and is hereby recalled from the position of Vice President and Second Secretary of Zanu-PF for being divisive, a member of the cabal, protecting criminals, preaching hate speech and behaving in a manner inconsistent with the Office and decorum of the Office."

    According to numerous reports, Mugabe and the army had reached agreement that Mugabe would announce that he would step down in a speech televised nationally (and, in fact, globally, since a lot of people around the world, including myself, were watching it live).

    So as the world watched, Mugabe came into a conference room with a dozen army generals, shook their hands, and sat down at the table to read his speech.

    Now what happened next is open to speculation. According to some social media, one could see Mugabe switch speeches just before he sat down, though this has not been confirmed.

    At any rate, there's little doubt at the shock and surprise on the faces of the army generals as Mugabe read his speech. Instead of resigning, he said that he would be presiding over the December 12-17 Extraordinary Congress mentioned in the above Zanu-pf statement, and then he went on to forgive the army:

    "We cannot be guided by bitterness or revengefulness which would not makes us any better Zimbabweans. ...

    The congress is due in a few weeks from now. I will preside over its processes, which must not be prepossessed by any acts calculated to undermine it or to compromise it the outcomes in the eyes of the public. The way forward thus cannot be based on swapping by tricks that ride roughshod over party rules and procedures. ...

    Whatever the pros and cons of the way they [the army] went about registering those concerns, I as the president of Zimbabwe, as their commander in chief, do acknowledge the issues they have drawn my attention to, and do believe that these were raised in the spirit of honesty and out of deep and patriotic concern for the stability of our nation and for the welfare of our people. ...

    We must learn to forgive and resolve contradictions real or perceived in a comradely Zimbabwean spirit.

    I’m happy that throughout the short period the pillars of state remained functional."

    He gave the speech in a halting manner, with several pauses, and seemed at times to be confused. At the end of the speech, he said goodnight, and then he apologized for having said some things out of order, and hoped that they could be corrected.

    Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was dumbstruck. "I am baffled. It’s not just me, it’s the whole nation. He’s playing a game. He is trying to manipulate everyone. He has let the whole nation down."

    Some people expressed sadness that 93 year old Mugabe had skipped his chance to leave office with dignity, and instead would be humiliated by the events to come. Reuters and Zimbabwe Herald and Zimbabwe Herald

    Plans go ahead to impeach Mugabe

    The Zimbabwean War Veterans Association, otherwise known as the "old guard," is the organization of veterans that won the war against Ian Smith, the white supremacist leader of Rhodesia, leading to independence of Zimbabwe in 1980.

    Chris Mutsvangwa, the leader of the Zimbabwean War Veterans Association, said that Mugabe has a Monday noon deadline to resign, and then plans to impeach Mugabe would begin on Tuesday, as scheduled. Furthermore, he said that people would take to the streets on Wednesday, hoping to replicate the events of Saturday, when hundreds of thousands of people were in the streets demanding that Mugabe step down.

    However, some analysts are saying that the plans to impeach Mugabe are fraught with complications.

    One problem is that there may not be sufficiently severe charges to justify impeachment in the eyes of some members of the parliament.

    Even if an impeachment is successful, then who would become president? In the Zanu-pf statement quoted above, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa should become president. But Mugabe recently fired Mnangagwa as vice president, with the objective of replacing him with his own wife Grace Mugabe, who would then succeed him. So Mnangagwa could not become vice-president unless Mugabe could be convinced to reinstate him prior to being impeached and convicted.

    Otherwise, the next candidate to become president would be the second vice president -- Phelekezela Mphoko.

    However, if you look again at the Zanu-pf statement quoted above, Mphoko is accused of "being divisive, a member of the cabal, protecting criminals, preaching hate speech and behaving in a manner inconsistent with the Office and decorum of the Office."

    So if the strict rules of Zimbabwe's constitution are followed, then the entire impeachment process is potentially blocked by many severe complications.

    Mugabe was undoubtedly aware of all this when he refused to resign. According to some commentators, he may be trying to provoke the army into deposing him by force, which could theoretically trigger an intervention by the African Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) bloc of nations. Australian Broadcasting and Guardian (London) and The Nation (Kenya)

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    19-Nov-17 World View -- Ecstatic throngs in Harare Zimbabwe demand that Robert Mugabe step down

    The events in Zimbabwe show how history unfolds and disasters occur

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Ecstatic throngs in Harare Zimbabwe demand that Robert Mugabe step down


    Anti-Mugabe protests in Harare Zimbabwe on Saturday
    Anti-Mugabe protests in Harare Zimbabwe on Saturday

    Up until a few days ago, anyone in Zimbabwe who criticized the 93 year old genocidal dictator Robert Mugabe risked being jailed and tortured. Mugabe's wife, 52 year old Grace Ntombizodwa Mugabe, said earlier this year that Mugabe would continue governing from the grave:

    "One day when God decides that Mugabe dies, we will have his corpse appear as a candidate on the ballot paper,

    You will see people voting for Mugabe as a corpse. I am seriously telling you — just to show people how people love their president."

    That's why everyone, including foreign reporters, were shocked and thrilled to see tens of thousands of people cheering ecstaticly on Saturday and marching in the capital city Harare, carrying banners that read "Mugabe must go!" and "Leadership is not sexually transmitted" -- the latter an allusion to the attempt by Grace Mugabe to succeed her husband as president. Another sign read, "Mugabe must rest now!", alluding to the fact that Mugabe falls asleep during meetings.

    On Wednesday, Zimbabwe's army took control of the government after arresting the president Robert Mugabe and confining him to his home. In addition, the army arrested a number of other ministers who are supporting Mugabe.

    However, the army is insisting that this is not a "coup." The reason is that the African Union is compelled by its constitution to intervene if a coup takes place.

    Alpha Conde, who is Guinea's president and is also president of the African Union said on Thursday:

    "We demand respect for the constitution, a return to the constitutional order and we will never accept the military coup d'état.

    We know there are internal problems. They need to be resolved politically by the Zanu-PF party and not with an intervention by the army."

    The Southern Africa Democratic Development Community (SADC) would also have to take action in case of a coup, and so is insisting that it's an internal government matter.

    Thus, it's essential to the army that Mugabe be replaced by means of a constitutional transition of power. This requires that Mugabe step down voluntarily. However, Mugabe is not playing along. He says that he plans to remain in office, and die in office. So the army is resorting to a kind of "plan B" to convince Mugabe step down. The first step was to encourage people to come to Harare on Saturday with anti-Mugabe protests and demand that he step down, although with the streets flooded with singing and dancing people on Saturday, it's clear that they didn't need much encouragement.

    For the next step in the plan, on Sunday, Mugabe will be fired as leader of the government party, Zanu-Pf, though he'll still be president of the country. In addition, his wife Grace will be fired as head of the Zanu-Pf Women's League. At this point, the plan is that Mugabe will no longer have any friends, allies or supporters, and the hope is that he'll accept a dignified exit. In that case Emmerson Mnangagwa, who used to be Robert Mugabe's vice president, will be elevated to be president. However, I heard one official say that if Mugabe still insists on staying in office, then things will "get ugly."

    By the way, neither Emmerson Mnangagwa nor Grace Mugabe have been heard from since Wednesday.

    Meanwhile, watching the street interviews with the people singing and dancing in Harare on Saturday, it's obvious that most of the people were in their own state of denial. Under Mugabe, they've suffered one economic disaster after another, as Mugabe's "indigenization" program threw out farm and business owners who knew how to run a farm or a business, and replaced them with thugs and cronies from Mugabe's Shona tribe who didn't know how to run a farm or business.

    The gleeful people on the streets of Harare interviewed on Saturday were saying things like "Mugabe fought our first war of independence, and now when he's out it will be our second independence," with the implication that things will get better. But things aren't going to change at all. Mnangagwa is the same kind of genocidal psychopath that Mugabe is. The same "old guard" will be in charge, though with different players, and the same Shona thugs and cronies will be running the farms and businesses.

    And in the next few weeks and months as people realize that nothing is going to change, there are going to be plenty of new crises. Reuters and Zimbabwe Herald and Times Live (South Africa) and CNN

    The events in Zimbabwe show how history unfolds and disasters occur

    From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the events in Zimbabwe the last few days are really quite remarkable. Seemingly the entire popular of Zimbabwe suddenly underwent a huge, massive change in behavior and attitude. Two weeks ago, everybody loved Mugabe. On Saturday, everybody hated Mugabe and wanted to get rid of him.

    And we know what triggered this change: Mugabe's announcement that he would fire his vice president so that his own wife could replace him as president. The resulting change was so fast and so massive that reporters keep saying that they can't believe it even happened.

    This kind of massive change in public opinion and behavior is the stuff of history and major historical events, including major historical disasters. In other circumstances, that kind of massive lightning change in public opinion and behavior can cause a panic that leads to a war, as happened for example when Israel panicked and attacked Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006. The attack was triggered when Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers along the border, and the attack came four hours later, with no plan and no objective.

    That same kind of lighting change of public opinion and behavior can also cause a major financial panic and crash, and sometimes we don't even know what the trigger is. I often like to point out that, even today, 88 years later, we still don't know what triggered the stock market panic on August 28, 1929, and why it didn't occur six months earlier or six months later.

    Today there's a huge stock market bubble, with the S&P 500 price/earnings ratio almost 25, far above its historic value of 14. China, the world's second largest economy, is running on a huge debt bubble and a huge real estate bubble.

    Of special note is the Bitcoin bubble. When I wrote about it a month ago, Bitcoin was just above $5000. Today it's close to $8000, having been at just $728 a year ago. Bitcoin investments have nothing backing them except hot air and promises, and the explosive growth of Bitcoins is one of the most dramatic bubbles since the Tulipomania bubble of the 1600s. When the Tulipomania bubble burst after a panic in 1637, people cursed tulips for decades. When a panic occurs and the Bitcoin bubble implodes, the cursing will be far worse.

    The thing we should learn from the last two weeks in Zimbabwe is that a panic can occur with lightning speed. Events that are provably impossible today become not only possible but completely real tomorrow. And unless you've anticipated those events and prepared for them, then you'll suffer the consequences.

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    18-Nov-17 World View -- African leaders once again furious that they won't get a climate change bonanza

    The flaws in the climate change story

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Climate change superstars Germany and Norway humiliated at climate change conference


    Kinshasa, the capital city of Democratic Republic of Congo, has benefited enormously from carbon emissions
    Kinshasa, the capital city of Democratic Republic of Congo, has benefited enormously from carbon emissions

    The latest annual United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP23, ended on Friday accomplishing nothing bug a new collection of news stories about politicians from countries around the world taking credit for climate change leadership, and expressing outrage that Donald Trump announced that he was leaving the previous climate change agreement, and thereby allowing the world to slide into planetary climate disaster.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel in particular has been a world leader in feigned environmental concern. Years ago, she promised to close Germany's nuclear power plants, saying that they were too dangerous. She has repeatedly lambasted Trump for pulling out of the Paris climate change agreement.

    But it now turns out that Germany is not anywhere close to meeting its CO2 emission commitments, and in fact is going backwards. Germany's carbon emissions haven't declined for nearly a decade, and in fact have been increasing for the last three years.

    Germany did reduce carbon emissions in the 1990s, but even that accomplishment is dodgy. In 1991, Communist East Germany merged with West Germany to form today's Germany. East German factories were still the same ones that the Soviets had built in the 1950s when they annexed East Germany, and by 1991 those old, creaky factories were spewing huge amounts of environment poisons, including CO2. During the 1990s, the West Germans spent huge amounts of money to modernize the East German factories, and in doing so they reduced carbon emissions.

    But those were the easy days. The commitment to close all nuclear power plants by 2022 means that Germany's huge economy is going to depend on coal for energy, and today 40% of German energy supply is coal-based. So Merkel is going to have to do a U-turn on either nuclear-generated energy or coal-generated energy, and either way, there is no chance at all that Germany will meet its climate change commitments.

    Norway is another environmental superstar that is having similar problems. Norway, with its cold, clean, crisp Nordic climate, has always appeared to be an environmental model, if you didn't count the fact that it's a major producer of oil and gas, which are its most important exports.

    In 2015, Norway awarded oil licenses to Statoil, Chevron and other companies, allowing them to drill for oil in Norwegian waters in the Barents Sea.

    Well, Greenpeace and other environmental groups are suing Norway, saying that the awards are unconstitutional because "Under article 112 of the constitution ... the Norwegian state has a duty to not hurt the climate." According to Greenpeace:

    "Our goal is that the court agrees with us that licenses awarded in the Barents Sea are invalid and should be withdrawn because it violates future generations’ right to a healthy environment."

    The attorney representing Norway evoked laughter in the courtroom by saying:

    "This is a type of constitutional activism we have not seen before and that is different from our legal tradition in Norway.

    This is an American-style use of our judicial system. ...

    It would stop all future oil licenses awarded off Norway and would imperil hundreds of thousands of jobs."

    What the examples of Germany and Norway show is that the whole climate change program is a fantasy put forth by politicians for domestic purposes. Ironically, Donald Trump is the only politician willing to tell the truth. Council on Foreign Relations and Reuters

    African leaders once again furious that they won't get a climate change bonanza

    African leaders were furious at last year's climate change conference because Donald Trump had unexpectedly won the US presidential election and said that he would pull out of the climate change agreement. Even so, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged a rapid scale-up in funding for climate change programs, especially to support developing countries. "Finance and investment hold the key to achieving low-emissions and resilient societies," he said.

    So now it's a year later, and there's another climate change conference, and African leaders are furious again, because there were plenty of promises made this week, but no commitments.

    Africans claim that they're entitled to money because they're the victims of climate change. That is, the West has caused the climate change, and the Africans are suffering because of it. Augustine Njamshi from the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) says:

    "In general, Africa has not gotten what it wanted at this Cop23. Because the discussions that matter to us, things that matter to us have been relegated to the background and all that we're hearing is what the developed countries want, and that is not in the interest of Africa. ...

    Africa has not contributed to this [climate change] problem, yet it's bearing the consequences in a great way, in a massive way and we don't have the luxury to adapt to the climate change consequences, as well as we don't even have the means to do any mitigation."

    Actually, Africa has benefited enormously from carbon emissions. At the beginning of this article, there is a picture of Kinshasa, the capital city of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). You can see the skyscrapers, apartment buildings, roads, cars, and other infrastructure made possible by research and manufacturing performed by the West. If it hadn't been for the West's CO2 emissions, the people of Kinshasa would still be living in thatch huts and driving around in carts pulled by donkeys and camels. Africa is as responsible as anyone else is for carbon emissions because of the enormous benefits they get.

    And what would happen if a huge pot of money were given to Joseph Kabila, the president of DRC, to mitigate climate change? Where would that money go? Anyone who knows anything about what's going on in Africa knows the answer. Kabila would use the money to provide support and weapons to government militias slaughtering, raping and mutilating thousands of people in Kasai province, where 3.9 million people have already been forced to flee their homes.

    I've been writing about climate change conferences for years, and it's always been clear that they have nothing to do with mitigating any climate problems. They have only one objective: To force the United States and other western countries to pay billions of dollars to leaders of "underdeveloped" countries, so that those leaders can use the money to pay their cronies, pad their bank accounts, and buy weapons to kill their enemies. I'm not aware of any proposal coming out of a climate change conference that would actually reduce carbon emissions. And the examples of Germany and Norway described above illustrate this.

    However, the conference did produce some good news for African leaders. According to Chinese state media:

    "[Xie Zhenhua] said, through donating energy conserving or renewable-energy facilities as well as climate change surveillance instruments, and promoting climate-friendly techniques, China has offered funds, technologies and capacity building to the least developed countries, small-island countries and African countries.

    Since 2011, Chinese government has channeled 580 million yuan (about 85 million U.S. dollars) to help other developing countries to cope with climate change, through various initiatives ranging from low-carbon and adaptation projects to capacity building activities.

    China has signed 32 MOUs with 28 developing countries on the donation of materials needed in battling climate change, including over 1.2 million energy-saving or solar-energy lamps, some 13,000 solar photo-voltaic power generating facilities, and over 10,000 clean stoves, among other donations. China also donated satellite monitoring facilities to help these countries with early warning of extreme weather.

    Moreover, China helped train thousands of climate officials as well as technicians from more than 120 countries on five continents, according to Xie."

    The 1.2 million energy-saving or solar energy lamps donated by China should be particularly helpful to the people of Africa in mitigating the effects of climate change. At least they won't be used to kill people. Deutsche Welle and Radio France International and Xinhua

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    The flaws in the climate change story

    As I've written in the past, you can accept all the claims by the climate change scientists that climate change is occurring, and that it's caused by human behavior. Even under all those assumptions, climate change predictions are still wrong, and have been consistently wrong for about 30 years since climate change scientists have begun making them.

    The reason that climate predictions are consistently wrong is that climate scientists simply ignore very important issues. I've tried raising these issues with client scientists, but they simply blow me off since these issues don't fit their narrative.

    Here are two very important issues that client scientists ignore:

    As regular readers are aware, Generational Dynamics predicts that the world is headed for a world war that will kill billions of people through nuclear weapons, ground war, disease and famine. Climate scientists claim that climate change is caused by human activity, and so, the large reduction in population will completely remove whatever threat the climate scientists are predicting.

    With regard to technology, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Singularity -- the point in time when computers will be more intelligent, more able, and more creative than humans -- will occur around 2030. Each year we're increasingly able to see some of the components that will bring that about. Artificial intelligence is under development in every research lab in the world, and is advancing rapidly. In particular, every military in the world is doing research on robots, vehicles and aircraft that can kill enemies without human intervention. Combine all that with 3D printing, and you can imagine a world where computer entities are more intelligent than humans, can duplicate themselves, and can fight against humans.

    Even if you don't believe in that scenario, there's no doubt that a great deal of new technology is being developed that can mitigate the climate change problem. Think about how much technology has been developed in the last 50 years, and think about how technology development is growing exponentially faster. With or without the Singularity, climate scientists have absolutely no clue what the temperature will be at the end of the century, because they have absolutely no clue what technology will be developed to mitigate it.

    Related Articles:

    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Nov-17 World View -- African leaders once again furious that they won't get a climate change bonanza thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Nov-2017) Permanent Link
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    17-Nov-17 World View -- Cambodia dissolves the opposition political party so that Hun Sen can be reelected unopposed

    Comparing Awakening Eras in Cambodia, Syria, Zimbabwe and other countries

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Cambodia dissolves the opposition political party so that Hun Sen can be reelected unopposed


    Phnom Penh exhibit commemorating the Cambodian killing fields war of 1975-79
    Phnom Penh exhibit commemorating the Cambodian killing fields war of 1975-79

    Cambodia's Supreme Court, believed to be completely controlled by prime minister Hun Sen, ruled on Thursday that Hun Sen's opposition party should be dissolved, and that its members should be prohibited from political activities:

    "The supreme court has decided to dissolve the Cambodia National Rescue party [CNRP] and ban 118 individuals ... from doing political activities for five years starting from the day of this verdict announcement."

    From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Cambodia is in a generational Awakening era. The Buddhist society of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in 1975-79, led by Pol Pot, perpetrated one of the top mass genocides of the 20th century. The genocide killed something like 1.7 to well over 2 million people, out of a population of 8 million. So around 20% of Cambodia's population were killed, making it possibly the worst genocide, on a percentage basis, of the 20th century.

    This is exactly the same story that I've been writing about many times recently. A country has a generational crisis civil war where ethnic or tribal groups commit thousands of atrocities, tortures, mutilations, rapes, and killings of each other. All the survivors are traumatized for life, and when one side or the other takes power after the war ends, they continue using some of the same techniques to stay in power indefinitely. We've written about this in Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Syria, Iran, and elsewhere.

    Hun Sen and his Cambodian People's Party (CPP) have controlled the government since the end of the war, and Hun Sen himself has been the country's leader since 1985. The crackdown began in 2013, when Hun Sen was declared the winner of a close election whose results were disputed by the opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).

    The CNRP has been gaining in popularity since 2013, and many people thought that Hun Sen might be defeated in the 2018 elections, something that he and his supporters would have to prevented at all costs, by any means possible.

    So Hun Sen began targeting CNRP leaders, arresting many of them. The CNRP was particularly shocked on September 4 when 100 police showed up at the home of the CNRP leader Kem Sokha and arrested him for treason.

    Following the arrest, Hun Sen said:

    "The treason of colluding with foreigners to betray the nation requires [us] to make an immediate arrest.

    The third hand [the United States] used to use Lon Nol to conduct a coup [in 1970], now the same problem happened.

    The Americans used to do it, this problem, with Lon Nol and now the American does this problem with Kem Sokha."

    It's always fun to see how the United States get blamed for every problem in the world. This charge of treason was based on a 2013 video in which Kem Sokha spoke of getting US assistance to plan his political career. Hun Sen accused Sokha, his family, journalists, foreign NGOs, the CIA, and the “extremist” ruling party of Taiwan of orchestrating regime change in Cambodia.

    If this sounds vaguely familiar to you, it's because it sounds the same as the delusional statement by Zimbabwe's Commander Chiwenga that we reported yesterday following the Zimbabwe coup, that "our revolution [is] being hijacked by agents of our erstwhile enemies who are now at the brink of returning our country to foreign domination against which so many of our people perished."

    So Hun Sen has been arresting leaders in the opposition CNRP political party, and now has arranged to have the entire party dissolved by the court, so that he can win an election next year. Phnom Penh Post and Guardian (London) and ABS-CBN (Manila) and Phnom Penh Post (5-Sep)

    Related Articles

    Comparing Awakening Eras in Cambodia, Syria, Zimbabwe and other countries

    Possibly the most significant finding from the development of Generational Dynamics these last 15 years was the discovery of the destructive role that generational Awakening eras play in country after country. We've seen this destructive role in today's article on Cambodia, and in previous articles on countries from Syria to Burundi to Zimbabwe.

    In any country, an Awakening era occurs after the Recovery Era that follows a generational crisis war. A generational crisis war is the worst kind of war, because the value of a human life goes to zero at the war's climax, and the only thing that matters is survival of the country or society and its way of life.

    Western nations are not immune from the atrocities of a crisis war. In World War II, American troops were sent onto the beaches of Normandy, even though it was known that tens of thousands of them would be slaughtered. Later, the reverse happened as the Allies firebombed Dresden and Tokyo, and then nuked Japanese cities. These events fit the definitions of "war crime" because they targeted large numbers of innocent civilians, and would be described as such if it weren't for the fact that Western nations won the war.

    All nations and societies perform these atrocities during a generational crisis war, especially as the climax of the war approaches. But there are two distinctly different kinds of generational crisis wars, and it's important to treat them separately, because their behaviors during the following Awakening eras are completely different.

    In an external war, one nation's army invades another nation, with the intent to capture territory or resources. There may be atrocities, including torture, rape, and mass slaughter, but in the typical case, when the war ends, the invading army leaves the country that it invaded, and future relations between the two countries can be negotiated through international diplomacy, such as in the United Nations. The two sides do not have to "live with" one another.

    But that's very different from an internal civil war, where one tribe or ethnic group fights another within the same country. Typically, the two tribes live in the same cities, neighborhoods and streets, work in the same businesses, intermarry and allow their children to play with one another.

    So for example in the 1994 Rwanda genocide, the Hutus and Tutsis had lived together for decades, had intermarried, had their kids play games with each other and so forth. Then one day, a Hutu leader announced over the radio, "Cut down the tall trees." The radio announcement, which was heard all over the country, was some sort of visceral signal. On cue, each Hutu did something like the following: Picked up a machete, went to the Tutsi home next door, or down the street, murdered and dismembered the man and children, raped the wife and then murdered and dismembered her.

    So when the war ends, the situation is quite different than in the external war, since these two tribes or ethnic groups still have to live with one another, in the same cities, streets and neighborhoods. There are always calls for reconciliation and little feel-good news stories, but the horrific atrocities are never forgotten. Even worse, each tribe remembers the atrocities that the other side committed, but develops amnesia about the atrocities that its own side committed. And those partial memories are passed down to the children, who come of age during the generational Awakening era.

    Generational Dynamics is based on the foundational work on generational theory developed by Strauss and Howe and published in their book The Fourth Turning. That book was brilliant at the time that it was published, but the research is now 25 years old, is badly out of date, and has been shown to contain a number of serious errors.

    The core error is the assumption that all generational timelines of all nations are synchronized with each other, and in particular are synchronized with "Anglo-American timeline" of Britain and North America since the 1400s. The book doesn't even recognize the concept of Awakening eras in other countries, since they are a time of spiritual awakening and new ideas that are only possible in the atmosphere of freedom that occurred in Britain and America. If they exist at all in other countries, then they're synchronized with Britain and America, which doesn't even make sense since there's no reason why a tribe in mid-Africa should be following the timeline of medieval England.

    This core assumption is discarded in Generational Dynamics in favor of the "Principle of Localization," which says that each society and nation has a separate and distinct generational timeline throughout history, although timelines of two countries can merge at times of massive invasions and genocide.

    So now returning to the distinction between external and internal wars, the Awakening eras of different countries are quite different. The spiritual awakening described by the Fourth Turning may occur in America and Britain, but it certainly does not occur in the other countries we've been discussing, the ones that fought tribal or ethnic internal civil wars. In those countries, an Awakening era is a time of government oppression, jailings and torture, in order to suppress the other tribe or ethnic group.

    There is some commonality between the two kinds of Awakening eras. In both cases, they begin 15-20 years after the climax of the preceding crisis war, when the new generation growing up after the war comes of age and can make its voice heard -- and does so in riots and youth demonstrations protesting government policies.

    In the case of an Awakening era following an external war, these anti-government protests do have a flavor of spiritual awakening, as they did in America in the 1960s. But in countries where the Awakening era follows a tribal or ethnic civil war, these protests are seen by the government leaders as a threat being posed by the tribe or ethnic group on the other side in the war. For that reason, the government leaders suppress them, often violently.

    This was true in all the countries that we've been discussing recently and comparing with one another -- Cambodia, Iran, Syria, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, DRC, and so forth. All of these countries are currently in generational Awakening eras following a tribal or ethnic crisis civil war in the 1960s-80s, and they're on completely different timelines than America and Britain. And yet, they're all very similar in that the leaders are doing everything possible to stay in power for decades.

    One question that I'm asked frequently is why this analysis doesn't apply to the American Civil War of the 1860s.

    The American civil war was not a war between two tribes or ethnic groups, as the black slaves generally supported the South. The fault line was geographical (North vs South), and so it had the characteristics of an external war. The tribal and ethnic civil wars that I've been talking about occur when two ethnic groups live together, often in the same villages and neighborhoods, and people start raping, torturing and slaughtering their next door neighbors. This is a highly personal kind of war, very different from an external war, where one country raises an army and invades another country, and then the army withdraws when the war ends. The American North and South were like two separate countries, with very different economies and lifestyles, not like Hutus and Tutsis living next door to each other. That's why that kind of personal civil war could not have occurred, and the two were really more like two separate countries. If the black slaves had risen up and fought against the southern whites, then the Awakening era would have been far bloodier.

    There are many events and actions in history that seem completely inexplicable. How could anyone have been so delusional and so stupid as to do X? The Generational Dynamics discovery of the significance of generational Awakening eras in countries after a tribal or ethnic civil war provides answers to many questions that have puzzled historians for decades or even centuries.

    Related: Mainstream media frets over Steve Bannon, the Fourth Turning, and Donald Trump (09-Feb-2017)

    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Nov-17 World View -- Cambodia dissolves the opposition political party so that Hun Sen can be reelected unopposed thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Nov-2017) Permanent Link
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    16-Nov-17 World View -- Zimbabwe coup splits ruling Zanu-pf party along generational lines

    More on the evacuation of ISIS militants from Raqqa, Syria

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    More on the evacuation of ISIS militants from Raqqa, Syria

    A couple of analysts that I heard on Wednesday provided additional information about the evacuation of militants from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) from Raqqa that I described yesterday. The coalition permitted hundreds of ISIS militants, along with tons of weapons and ammunition, to be transported by bus into Deir az-Zour, where they were free to fight again.

    According to these analysts, the ISIS evacuation into Deir az-Zour was actually a strategic move by the US coalition. The militants were transported into a region of Deir az-Zour that was already controlled by ISIS, and there are Syrian and Iranian armies and Hezbollah and Russian warplanes trying to recapture that region from ISIS. Thus, the evacuation of ISIS fighters from Raqqa to Deir az-Zour actually has the purpose of supporting the enemies of Syria, Iran and Hezbollah.

    The Youtube video for the full BBC report on the ISIS evacuation from Raqqa can be found here: Youtube

    Related: BBC reports hoax by US-led coalition about ISIS evacuation from Raqqa Syria (15-Nov-2017)

    Zimbabwe coup splits ruling Zanu-pf party along generational lines


    Zimbabwe's first lady Grace Mugabe has reportedly fled the country (AFP)
    Zimbabwe's first lady Grace Mugabe has reportedly fled the country (AFP)

    Insisting that there was "no military takeover" of Zimbabwe, General Constantino Guvheya Nyikadzino Chiwenga, Commander of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces (ZDF) on Wednesday led a military takeover of the Zimbabwe. A statement by the ZDF spokesman said:

    "To both our people and the world beyond our borders, we wish to make it abundantly clear that this is not a military takeover of Government. What the Zimbabwe Defense Forces is doing is to pacify a degenerating political, social and economic situation in our country which if not addressed may result in violent conflict. ...

    We wish to assure the nation that His Excellency, The President, of the Republic of Zimbabwe, and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Cde R.G. Mugabe and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed.

    We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice. As soon as we have accomplished our mission we expect that the situation will return to normalcy."

    Zimbabwe's 93-year-old president Robert Mugabe has not been heard from. South Africa's president Jacob Zuma said that he has spoken to Mugabe, who told him that he's ok, but he's confined to his home under house arrest.

    Zimbabwe's 52-year-old first lady, Grace Ntombizodwa Mugabe, the wife of the president, has not been heard from either. The rumor is that she's fled the country. The logical country for her to flee to is South Africa, but she can't go there because she's wanted for violent assault. In August, she went to South Africa and went to the Johannesburg hotel room of her two sons, where she found her sons' friend, a 20-year-old model named Gabriella Engels. Mugabe beat the crap out of Engels with the heavy plug at the end of an extension cord, leaving her with numerous gashes and scars, and putting her entire career at risk. So it's still not known what country she's fled to, but there are reports that on Wednesday she was seeking asylum in Namibia.

    The military coup was apparently triggered when Robert Mugabe sacked vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa so that his wife Grace can succeed him and be the next president, thus forming a kind of Mugabe dynasty.

    Mnangagwa is part of the "old guard" that fought alongside Mugabe in the violent "war of liberation" and victory over Ian Smith, the white supremacist leader of Rhodesia. After the war ended, Mugabe's Shona tribe turned against their co-victors, the Ndebele tribe. Mnangagwa developed a reputation for ordering the unbridled slaughter, rape, torture and murder of Ndebele tribesmen and women, leading to Operation Gukurahundi, one of the greatest holocausts of the last century.

    So Mugabe and Mnangagwa have always been great friends, sharing their psychopathic atrocities targeting the Ndebele, but they've been feuding recently, and Mugabe decided that the next president should be his wife Grace Ntombizodwa Mugabe. This choice was also supported by the Youth Wing of Mugabe's Zanu-pf party.

    But this choice infuriated the old guard of war veterans who had fought alongside Mugabe, hence the coup. Reuters (15-Aug) and Zimbabwe Herald

    Zimbabwe Commander Chiwenga gives a totally delusional explanation for the coup

    Mugabe's old guard war veterans are steeped in the erotic excitement of the memories of their youths, when they fought against the white supremacist Ian Smith and won.

    On Wednesday, Commander Chiwenga of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces referred to this liberation struggle to explain the purpose and objective of the coup:

    "Zimbabwe’s history is hinged on the ideals of the revolution dating back to the First Chimurenga [civil war] where thousands of people perished. Zanu-PF is the political Party that waged the Second Chimurenga for our independence; the struggle that caused the loss of over 50 000 lives of our people; the struggle in which many Zimbabweans, in one way or the other, sacrificed and contributed immensely for our liberation. Many of these gallant fighters still live on with the spirited hope of seeing a prosperous Zimbabwe, but also the hope of leaving behind inheritance and legacy for posterity. ...

    Our peace loving people who have stood by their Government and endured some of the most trying social and economic conditions ever experienced are extremely disturbed by what is happening within the ranks of the national revolutionary Party. What is obtaining in the revolutionary Party is a direct result of the machinations of counter revolutionaries who have infiltrated the Party and whose agenda is to destroy it from within.

    It is saddening to see our revolution being hijacked by agents of our erstwhile enemies who are now at the brink of returning our country to foreign domination against which so many of our people perished. The famous slogan espoused by His Excellency, The President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces, Cde R. G. Mugabe; “Zimbabwe will never be a colony again” is being seriously challenged by counter revolutionary infiltrators who are now effectively influencing the direction of the Party.

    It is our strong and deeply considered position that if drastic action is not taken immediately, our beloved country Zimbabwe is definitely headed to becoming a neo-colony again."

    This statement is completely delusional. There is no possible scenario where Zimbabwe would become a colony again.

    The "erstwhile enemies" that Chiwenga is referring to are Grace Mugabe and her supporters. Chiwenga is seeing hallucinations. He think's Mugabe's wife is going to make "our beloved country Zimbabwe" into a "neo-colony." This guy's a total nutjob. And young people in Zimbabwe listening to this statement are going to know immediately that it's crazy.

    This is a neurological problem that seems to strike many leaders who come to power after winning a particularly gruesome tribal or civil war. Ordering and participating in thousands of atrocities, tortures, mutilations, rapes, and killings is only possible for a certain kind of sociopathic man, and the after effect leaves them traumatized for life. Syria's Bashar al-Assad and Iran's Supreme Leader Seyed Ali Khamenei are also complete nutjobs, just like Mugabe and Chiwenga.

    When I first heard about the Zimbabwe coup attempt yesterday, I immediately thought that it would be an Awakening era climax -- an event that resolves the generational conflict between the generations of survivors of the previous generational crisis war versus the generations growing up after the war. The survivors of the war are traumatized for their entire lives, and so they have quite different personalities and behaviors than those growing up after the war, who have no such traumas.

    However, that clearly hasn't happened. The generational conflict has not been resolved. The "old guard" is still in control; only the names of the players have changed.

    From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is an extremely dangerous situation, as can be seen from the example of Syria. Bashar al-Assad is completely delusional, and has unleashed his psychopathic fury on his political enemies, as I've been describing since the war began in 2011. Al-Assad has created millions of refugees flooding into neighboring countries and Europe, and has created jihadist militias ISIS and al-Nusra. This has destabilized the entire Mideast.

    The old guard in Zimbabwe appears to be equally delusional, and so the current crisis is far from ended. Zimbabwe's neighbors are particularly worried about a flood of refugees from Zimbabwe. There are already a million Zimbabweans working in South Africa, for example, and a flood of refugees similar to what happened in Syria would destabilize southern Africa. Zimbabwe Herald

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Nov-17 World View -- Zimbabwe coup splits ruling Zanu-pf party along generational lines thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Nov-2017) Permanent Link
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    15-Nov-17 World View -- BBC reports hoax by US-led coalition about ISIS evacuation from Raqqa Syria

    Apparent coup is in progress in Zimbabwe against 93-year-old Robert Mugabe

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    BBC reports hoax by US-led coalition about ISIS evacuation from Raqqa Syria


    A picture of Raqqa taken on October 28 (AFP)
    A picture of Raqqa taken on October 28 (AFP)

    Calling it "the dirty Raqqa deal that no one wants to talk about," the BBC has found that the US-led coalition military issued extremely misleading statements last month, when the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) was evacuated from Raqqa, the capital of their self-styled caliphate.

    It was in November of last year that the coalition made a surprise announcement that an operation would begin to recapture Raqqa from ISIS. The announcement was controversial because the principal fighters would be from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), comprising a majority of Kurdish fighters and a minority of Arab fighters, backed by American warplanes. Turkey was particularly opposed to the participation of the Syrian Kurds, whom the Turkish government considers to be all terrorists. However, the Kurds were chosen because the US considers them to be the best and most effective fighting force in Syria versus ISIS.

    By September of this year, there was widespread reporting that the SDF had almost entirely recaptured Raqqa from ISIS, and that total victory was only a few days away. However, in mid-October there was another surprise announcement: Instead of killing or capturing all the ISIS fighters in Raqqa, they would be permitted to leave and go to live elsewhere.

    I wrote briefly about this evacuation deal last month when it was announced. I went back to my news article archive to reread the articles that I had used as sources at the time. According to these articles:

    This sanguine description has been contradicted in several ways by the BBC report. The reporter, Quentin Sommerville, visited Raqqa and followed the path that the bus convoy took last month into Deir az-Zour. He interviewed dozens of people who were either on the convoy, including bus drivers, or observed it, and to the men who negotiated the deal.

    Sommerville reported the following, based on interviews with witnesses and bus drivers and on amateur video:

    According to Sommerville, interviews with human smugglers working on the Syria-Turkey border have revealed a surge in people trying to cross the border into Turkey. It's feared that some wish to return to their home countries in Europe and Russia to continue the jihadist fight.

    The BBC says that once the Raqqa investigation was completed and the facts were presented to the coalition military, they confirmed them. Al Araby (UK, 15-Oct) and BBC and Daily Sabah (Turkey) and Daily Mail (London)

    Update: The Youtube video for the full BBC report on the ISIS evacuation from Raqqa can be found here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4KLrQKJn3c

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    Syria war violence surges as Bashar al-Assad repeats Aleppo genocide in Ghouta

    It was a year ago that the army of Syria's psychopathic president Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russia's air force, was determined to slaughter as many of the 275,000 residents of Aleppo to be killed, even though only all but a few thousand were innocent civilians. Syrian and Russian warplanes bombed hospitals, schools and civilian neighborhoods even in cities where al-Nusra was never present. ( "7-Oct-16 World View -- UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura predicts total destruction of Aleppo by Christmas")

    The violence against Aleppo and other western cities was to have ended as a result of the "de-escalation zone" agreement reached by Russia, Iran and Turkey, meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan. However, the agreement never really had a chance, because al-Assad opposed it.

    So it's not surprising that al-Assad is repeating this genocidal attacks on the Sunni Muslims that he hates, this time in East Ghouta.

    Ghouta has always been particularly hated by al-Assad. In 2013, he ordered what a United Nations investigation found to be large scale' use of Sarin gas on the people of Ghouta, including women and children.

    According to Jan Egeland, the UN Special Envoy for Syria:

    "I feel as if we are now returning to some of the bleakest days of this conflict again. ...

    Nowhere is it as bad as in eastern Ghouta, which is the area just next to the capital Damascus city, it is in rural Damascus, east of the capital. This epicenter of suffering has 400,000 civilians, men, women, and children, in a dozen besieged towns, and villages. ...

    Winter is coming, winter in Syria is as hard as it is in Europe, the difference between in Europe and in Syria is that people are now sitting after a 7-year war, longer than the second World War, they have little, if no, reserves, they have no heat in the house, they live in a ruin, it will be a horrific winter. In eastern Ghouta the price of a food basket is ten times that of the average in the country, so people cannot afford food and that will be their situation as the harsh winter is coming."

    We can assume that we're going to see a repeat in Ghouta that we saw last year in Aleppo. As I've written many times, al-Assad is the worst genocidal leader so far in the 21st century, and the war in Syria will continue as long as he's in power.

    There is an interesting contrast between the two stories presented in this article.

    In Aleppo, and probably in Ghouta, al-Assad and Russia are using the 'Grozny Model' to pursue mass slaughter, as Russia used against Grozny in its 1990s war against Chechnya.

    But in Raqqa, rather than commit mass slaughter against civilians, the SDF and the coalition allowed the ISIS fighters to escape, and even provided transportation for them.

    So we have two similar situations, but two different military strategies. Perhaps one day historians will look back at this time to decide which strategy was the best. United Nations and Syria Direct and Al Araby (UK)

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    Apparent coup is in progress in Zimbabwe against 93-year-old Robert Mugabe

    As this article is being written on Tuesday evening ET, there is an apparent military coup in progress, as soldiers have reportedly taken over the headquarters of Zimbabwe's national broadcaster, ZBC, in the capital city Harare. Heavy gunfire and artillery have also been heard, as well as loud explosions.

    The coup attempt was apparently triggered when Robert Mugabe, the 93 year old president, sacked the VP so that his wife can succeed him.

    From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Zimbabwe is in a generational Awakening era. This means that if the coup is successful, it would be an Awakening era climax, something that signals a victory of the younger post-war generation over the generations of war survivors. This is similar to the forced resignation of President Richard Nixon in America in 1974, which was also an Awakening era climax, signaling the victory of the young post-war Boomer generation over their parents, the World War II survivors. When a successful coup is part of an Awakening era climax, then it's sometimes also called a "velvet coup," since there's usually little violence involved. BBC

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Nov-17 World View -- BBC reports hoax by US-led coalition about ISIS evacuation from Raqqa Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Nov-2017) Permanent Link
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    14-Nov-17 World View -- Severe drought in Kenya increases violence among herders, farmers and police

    Tensions rise between Kenya and Tanzania over chicks and cattle

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Severe drought in Kenya increases violence among herders, farmers and police


    Dead cattle, allegedly shot and killed by police during shootout with herders (Standard Media)
    Dead cattle, allegedly shot and killed by police during shootout with herders (Standard Media)

    A severe drought in Kenya has in the last year resulted in increasing violence between three groups -- (1) farmers and ranchers who own about a million acres of land, versus (2) herders (also called pastoralists) whose cattle herds have been dying of starvation and who invade ranches to find grazing land, versus (3) the police whose job it is to prevent violence between the other two groups.

    Pro-herder groups are accusing the police of being pro-farmer and of purposely shooting and killing about 300 cattle in the province of Laikipia on November 1. The police say that they were ambushed by about 1,000 herders who used the cattle as shields and then fired at the police, who returned fire blindly, unable to see the herders through the herd. The police also say that only 75 cattle were killed.

    (As an aside, this is the second time recently that I've heard this story. The four American soldiers who were killed in Niger were ambushed when jihadists sent a herd of cattle towards them, blinding them, and then attacked, using heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and Kalashnikov rifles.)

    Although farmers and herders have generally gotten along with each other for years, the population of herders has been growing along with their herds, and the drought has led to a crisis where many herders' families are facing starvation. The herders say that because of the drought crisis, herders should have some controlled access to the ranches of farmers and ranchers.

    This has all become linked to tribal politics in Kenya, especially with the chaos surrounding recent presidential elections. Kenya's president Uhuru Kenyatta won reelection in the August 8 election, but Kenya's Supreme Court agreed with the opposition that the election was "invalid, null and void" because of electoral committee irregularities and illegalities.

    A new election was held October 26, but the opposition boycotted it, with the result that Kenyatta won that election by over 90%. The opposition is also challenging that election.

    President Uhuru Kenyatta is from the market-dominant Kikuyu tribe, which is the tribe of wealthy landowners, farmers and ranchers.

    His opponent, Raila Odinga, is from the Luo tribe, an offshoot of the Kalenjins, who are the tribe of marginalized herders and pastoralists. Odinga says that the government should compensate the pastoralists whose livestock were killed by the police, adding:

    "Pastoralists should have controlled access to ranches during moments of drought. Criminalization of pastoralists should stop since they contribute to the nation’s economy."

    The Supreme Court is now considering motions by Odinga and the opposition to nullify the October 26 election as well. Lawyers representing the electoral commission are asking the court to throw out the motions submitted by Odinga, and are also accusing Odinga of promoting election day violence.

    In 2007, there was a presidential election where Odinga from the Luo tribe was defeated for president by another member of the Kikuyu tribe.

    After the December 2007 president elections, there was a period of extremely bloody inter-tribal violence in the Rift Valley in Kenya, beginning early in 2008. The worst atrocity occurred when 30 people were lured into a church to escape violence, and a young gang locked the doors and set the church on fire, burning everyone alive. All in all, more than 1,200 people were killed in the tribal violence between the Kalenjins, who are mostly herders, and the Kikuyus, who are mostly farmers.

    In 2017, there are fears that there will be renewed violence related to the election chaos, combined with the violence between herders and farmers. IRIN - United Nations and The Nation (Kenya) and Standard Media (Kenya) and The Nation (Kenya) and The Economist

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    Tensions rise between Kenya and Tanzania over chicks and cattle

    Kenya has launched a formal protest against the neighboring country Tanzania for auctioning off 1,300 Kenyan cattle and burning alive 6,500 Kenyan chicks.

    Two weeks ago, Tanzania seized and burned alive 6,500 chicks that had been brought from Kenya into Tanzania by traders, claiming that the chicks had been imported illegally.

    Then last week, Tanzania seized and auctioned off 1,300 cattle that had crossed the border from Kenya in search of grazing land.

    A Kenyan official said that the act had violated historical relations between the two countries:

    "Kenya-Tanzania relations are longstanding, rich and complex and should not be jeopardized by a hardening of positions over minor issues that can be easily resolved through candid and open dialogue."

    Statements issued by Tanzania's president John Magufuli said:

    "Those who sneak with their livestock into this country will not be spared. ... Let them (Kenyans) also take similar action if cows from Tanzania are arrested in their country."

    According to another Kenyan official, "This man [Magufuli] is a disgrace to East Africans. He continues to sabotage good neighborliness with his government officers harassing Kenyans over flimsy grounds." The National (Kenya) and Capital FM (Kenya) and The Nation

    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Nov-17 World View -- Severe drought in Kenya increases violence among herders, farmers and police thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Nov-2017) Permanent Link
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    13-Nov-17 World View -- Poland's Independence Day march hijacked by right-wing 'White Nationalists'

    Recalling President Trump's July 6 speech in Warsaw Poland

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Poland's Independence Day march hijacked by right-wing 'White Nationalists'


    Far-right demonstrators burn flares and wave Polish flags on Saturday (AFP)
    Far-right demonstrators burn flares and wave Polish flags on Saturday (AFP)

    Tens of thousands of people marched in Warsaw on Saturday at the 99th anniversary celebration of Poland's Independence Day. Poland became an independent nation on November 11, 1918, the day that World War I ended.

    Many of the marchers carried right-wing "White Nationalist" banners, including "Clean Blood," "Pray for an Islamic Holocaust," and "White Europe, Europe must be white." Some wore masks and waved red and white Polish flags, chanting "Death to enemies of the homeland," and "Catholic Poland, not secular."

    However, it's not known how many in the crowd sympathized with these views, as many people told reporters that they were not part of the radical-nationalist groups, but were simply attending in celebration of Independence Day.

    The march was not an official government event, but had three main right-wing sponsors -- All Poland Youth, National Movement and National Radical Camp, which is known by its acronym ONR. All Poland Youth has been organizing these demonstrations since 2010. They started out small, but have growing in size until this year, when the overshadowed the other Independence Day events.

    This is not surprising, as xenophobia and nationalism have been occurring in countries around the world, and have been growing as we go deeper and deeper into a generational Crisis era, and the survivors of World War II die off.

    Poland's Interior Minister Mariusz Blaszcza was pleased that there was no violence:

    "Independence Day... was safe. We could see wide and red in the streets of Warsaw, it was a beautiful sight. We are proud that so many Poles decided to take part in events."

    The Independence Day march turned violent in 2014, when some of the members of far-right groups broke away from the main rally and started to throw stones and flares at the police.

    This year, there were 8,600 police in Warsaw to keep the far-right groups and the anti-fascist protesters apart, and so violence was almost completely absent.

    According to official figures, more than 65,000 people took part in 308 events nationwide, and 60,000 took part in an Independence March in Warsaw. The News (Warsaw) and CNN and Politico (EU) and BBC (11-Nov-2014)

    Nationalism and xenophobia continue to rise around the world

    As regular readers know, I've been writing about the worldwide rise of nationalism and xenophobia for years. In America, we've seen xenophobia on the right directed against Muslims and Mexicans, who are mostly Christians, and we've seen xenophobia on the left directed against Tea Partiers and Midwesterners who (I believe) are mostly Protestants. We've also seen calls for violence from left-wing groups including Antifa and Black Lives Matter.

    In Europe, there's been widely publicized xenophobia directed against Muslims and Roma, but that's far from the only case.

    An interesting example is the UK and its Brexit vote, which was largely directed at immigration issues related to the EU rules about "freedom of movement." However, "freedom of movement" in this context has nothing to do with Syrian and African immigrants. It refers to EU citizens being able to move freely from EU country to EU country, and although immigration of Syrian refugees was a part of the Brexit motivation, the main issue was actually Christians from eastern European Union countries like Poland, Romania and Bulgaria.

    So, if we want to speculate, it could be that part of the opposition to the EU by far-right groups in Poland is a reaction to the xenophobia of the British directed at Poland.

    The phrase "European Project" refers to the efforts, begun in the 1950s, to take steps to prevent another massive war in Europe, following the devastation of two world wars that destroyed Europe. The war survivors fully understood that the massive destruction of Europe had been caused by nationalism and xenophobia. This lead to the Treaty of Rome in 1957, and eventually to the formation of the European Union.

    The European Project worked well, in that there's been no major European war since then. However, the World War II survivors that signed the Treaty of Rome and created the European Union are now almost all gone. The younger generations have no clue how destructive nationalism and xenophobia can be, and how they can lead to the massive destruction of a new world war.

    As the saying goes, "History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes."

    Each time that a World War II survivor dies or retires, and is replaced by a younger person, then there is one more person who has no clue about the destructiveness of xenophobia and nationalism.

    In Japan, the xenophobia is directed at China. In China, the xenophobia is directed at Japan and the United States. In India, it's directed at Muslims in Pakistan. In Pakistan, it's directed at Hindus in India. So nationalism and xenophobia are not narrow attitudes directed at just one group, but are an organic part of every population during a generational Crisis era, and may be directed at any religious or ethnic group, depending on the country. Guardian (London) and Jewish Chronicle

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    Recalling President Trump's July 6 speech in Warsaw Poland

    On July 6, President Trump gave a speech to a euphoric crowd in Warsaw Poland linking today's world to the 1930s, and compared the dangers that Poland faced then to the dangers that Europe faces today from terrorism:

    "Under a double occupation the Polish people endured evils beyond description: the Katyn forest massacre, the occupations, the Holocaust, the Warsaw Ghetto and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the destruction of this beautiful capital city, and the deaths of nearly one in five Polish people. A vibrant Jewish population -- the largest in Europe -- was reduced to almost nothing after the Nazis systematically murdered millions of Poland's Jewish citizens, along with countless others, during that brutal occupation.

    In the summer of 1944, the Nazi and Soviet armies were preparing for a terrible and bloody battle right here in Warsaw. Amid that hell on earth, the citizens of Poland rose up to defend their homeland. I am deeply honored to be joined on stage today by veterans and heroes of the Warsaw Uprising. ...

    This continent no longer confronts the specter of communism. But today we're in the West, and we have to say there are dire threats to our security and to our way of life. You see what's happening out there. They are threats. We will confront them. We will win. But they are threats.

    We are confronted by another oppressive ideology -- one that seeks to export terrorism and extremism all around the globe. America and Europe have suffered one terror attack after another. We're going to get it to stop.

    During a historic gathering in Saudi Arabia, I called on the leaders of more than 50 Muslim nations to join together to drive out this menace which threatens all of humanity. We must stand united against these shared enemies to strip them of their territory and their funding, and their networks, and any form of ideological support that they may have. While we will always welcome new citizens who share our values and love our people, our borders will always be closed to terrorism and extremism of any kind.

    We are fighting hard against radical Islamic terrorism, and we will prevail. We cannot accept those who reject our values and who use hatred to justify violence against the innocent."

    As I wrote at the time, Trump's speech is consistent with the principles and analysis provided by Generational Dynamics. That analysis was provided to Trump by his chief advisor at the time, Steve Bannon, who is an expert on Generational Dynamics, as well as on military and world history.

    However, in July, Trump had an additional message for the people of Poland:

    "We have to remember that our defense is not just a commitment of money, it is a commitment of will. Because as the Polish experience reminds us, the defense of the West ultimately rests not only on means but also on the will of its people to prevail and be successful and get what you have to have. The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive. Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?"

    Unfortunately, the right-wing groups in Warsaw are not listening to President Trump's message about defending our values. Marchers carrying signs that say "Clean Blood," "Pray for an Islamic Holocaust," and "White Europe, Europe must be white" may think that they're defending their borders, but they are not. Instead, these right-wing groups are writing a prescription for a new world war, and, once again, total destruction of Europe, this time with nuclear weapons.

    Unfortunately, there's no way to stop this. As the WW II survivors continue to die off, xenophobia and nationalism will continue to increase on all sides, until some event triggers a small conflict that spirals into full-scale war and a world war. Those who are lucky (or unlucky) enough to survive will have plenty of time to contemplate what they did wrong.

    Related: Donald Trump's speech in Warsaw Poland evokes the Clash of Civilizations (07-Jul-2017)

    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Nov-17 World View -- Poland's Independence Day march hijacked by right-wing 'White Nationalists' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Nov-2017) Permanent Link
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    12-Nov-17 World View -- Deadly violence increases in English-speaking regions of Cameroon

    Cameroon's 84-year-old president Paul Biya exhibits same violence as other African leaders

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Deadly violence increases in English-speaking regions of Cameroon


    The Median newspaper depicts anti-government protests while Cameroon president Paul Biya is addressing the UN General Assembly on 25-Sep (Cameroon-Concord)
    The Median newspaper depicts anti-government protests while Cameroon president Paul Biya is addressing the UN General Assembly on 25-Sep (Cameroon-Concord)

    Violence in the Southern Cameroons, the Anglophone (English-speaking) region of mostly Francophone (French-speaking) country, has been taking an increasingly violent turn in recent days, as pro-separatist activists start to retaliate for the government violence that began in November of last year.

    In the past few days, Anglophone activists have ambushed and killed four Francophone security personnel, in retaliation for government violence that killed dozens people since October.

    Peaceful protests began late last year when Anglophone lawyers protested that the legal and court systems are biased toward Francophones, with many laws passed without even being translated into English. They were joined by teachers protesting that all courses in the schools had to be taught in French, and that any use of English was forbidden. The Francophone police responded by severely beating several protesters, and shooting two of them dead.

    During the past year, the Francophone government has used increasingly harsh methods to end the peaceful protests. This included shutting down the internet in the Southern Cameroons for several months, causing businesses to close and making it impossible for individuals to bank or make purchases online, in the hope that shutting down the internet would convince the separatists that Cameroon is too nice a place to separate from.

    On September 22, the violence took a dangerous turn, with small explosions targeting local security forces. Starting on October 1, when the Liberation Movement of Southern Cameroons issued a symbolic declaration of independence for the state of "Ambazonia," an increasingly violent Francophone government crackdown began. Hundreds of people were arrested, and helicopter gunships were used to fire on innocent civilians and kill them. At least 5,000 people have fled across the border to neighboring Nigeria to escape the violence. Reuters and Cameroon Concord and Guardian (Nigeria) and Today (Nigeria)

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    Cameroon's 84-year-old president Paul Biya exhibits same violence as other African leaders

    I keep writing the same story over and over about leaders using violence to stay in power forever, whether it's Pierre Nkurunziza in Burundi, Paul Kagame in Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Joseph Kabila in DRC, or, outside of Africa, Bashar al-Assad in Syria. What these leaders all have in common is that their countries had an ethnic or tribal generational crisis civil war 30 or 40 years ago, and each leader and his cronies and thugs from the same tribe have stayed in power all 30-40 years after the war ended, It's now a generational Awakening or Unraveling era, and these leaders are using slaughter, rapes, jailings and atrocities against the other tribe to stay in power.

    At the end of World War II, there was a British colony, the Anglophone "British Cameroons," and there was a French colony, the Francophone "French Cameroun" colony. The last generational crisis war was the "UPC Revolt," 1956-1960, which was a bloody civil war by communists attacking the French government in the Cameroun colony. The outcome was independence in 1961, when the British Cameroons colony and the French Cameroun colony were merged into a single country, and the Anglophones became a disadvantaged and marginalized minority. Today, the Anglophone regions are known as the "Southern Cameroons."

    Paul Biya was born in 1933, and became president in 1982. He consolidated his power by orchestrating a fake coup, giving him an opportunity to eliminate all his rivals, and making him, in effect, a dictator.

    Biya's government has done some really stupid things in the past year, apparently in the belief that by directing increasing violence at the peaceful protesters, they'll stop peacefully protesting. Unfortunately that's partially true, but not in the way Biya wants, since some of them turn into violent protesters.

    According to Carlson Anyangwe, a retired law professor from Anglophone Southern Cameroons:

    "We don’t know why but when they shoot you, the body is taken away. Whether you’re dead or not, we don’t know. I’m sure if our people had arms, you would’ve heard of skirmishes between our people and the military. But because they don’t have guns or anything, they’re just protesting with their bare hands and taking the risk of being shot at and being killed."

    Many people fear a full-scale civil war between the Anglophones and Francophones, but that's almost impossible right now in a generational Unraveling era, where there are still plenty of survivors of the bloody "UPC Revolt" still alive, but as these survivors die off, the level of violence is only going to increase. Mail and Guardian (South Africa) and Cameroon Concord

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Nov-17 World View -- Deadly violence increases in English-speaking regions of Cameroon thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Nov-2017) Permanent Link
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    11-Nov-17 World View -- European Union Brexit negotiator gives Britain a two-week ultimatum

    Can the Brexit decision be reversed? The author of the rule says it can.

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    European Union Brexit negotiator gives Britain a two-week ultimatum


    UK Brexit negotiator David Davis and EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier (AP)
    UK Brexit negotiator David Davis and EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier (AP)

    It was always pretty obvious to anyone who was awake that the surprise passage of the Brexit referendum on June 23 of last year was a disaster in the making, and now, 17 months later, nobody has a clue how it's supposed to work, any more than anyone did when the referendum first passed.

    There are four major issues (or groups of issues) that have to be resolved, and almost no progress has been made on reaching an agreement on any of them.

    First, there's the trade issue, so that businesses in both the UK and the EU can make plans for conducting business in the future. Will there be trade tariffs? Will there be product quotas? How many new layers of bureaucracy will have to be created for a business in the UK to sell something in the EU, or vice-versa? Britain's prime minister Theresa May wants to start the trade negotiations right away. But the EU is refusing to even begin talking about trade, until the other three issues have been resolved.

    So then May hoped that trade negotiations would begin by October, but they had to be postponed. So now May is hoping to begin trade negotiations at a UK-EU summit scheduled for December 14-15 in Brussels, but that depends on the other three.

    So zero progress has been made on the first issue, the trade issue, in the last 17 months, and no date to start negotiations has been agreed.

    Second, there's the so-called "divorce bill." This is the amount of money that the UK must pay to the EU to honor their existing commitments. This 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 and was contributing to before the Brexit referendum passed.

    A lot of money is involved here. At first, the UK refused to pay anything. In recent months, Theresa May has said that she would "honor its financial obligations," but she has not committed to any figure. Leaks from the UK side began to mention figures around €20 billion. However, many EU officials are demanding €60-70 billion.

    On Friday, Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator, issued an ultimatum: The UK must "clarify" what it means by saying that it will "honor its financial commitments," and must do so within two weeks, or there will be no trade negotiations in December. Barnier is not demanding that the UK name a specific euro amount, but it must specify the algorithm by which a specific euro amount will be computed.

    Barnier says that the amount of the divorce bill must be "clarified" within two weeks, because the EU-27 (the 27 non-UK members of the EU) will need time to agree to the amount, before trade negotiations can proceed.

    It seems pretty clear that if May specifies either a euro amount or an algorithm, then some member states will say it's not enough. So if trade negotiations are to begin at the December 14 summit, then some way must be found to compromise on this issue, but in this generational Crisis era, the mood is for confrontation, not compromise.

    So zero progress has been made on the second issue, the divorce bill, in the last 17 months, to the current date.

    The third issue is citizens' rights -- 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. The EU negotiator Michel Barnier has said that the UK has offered some "useful clarifications," and some progress has been made.

    However, there is one citizens' rights issue that is far from being settled: the role of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Brussels in enforcing the rights of EU citizens living and working in the UK. Barnier is saying that the ECJ is essential in guaranteeing consistent application of case law in the UK and in the EU. But the people in the UK who favored Brexit in the first place HATE the ECJ and the European Parliament, and demand that Britain have control of its own laws. So the ECJ remains a major issue.

    So SOME progress has been made on the third issue, citizens' rights, in the last 17 months, but with respect to the biggest part of it, the role of the ECJ, zero progress has been made. Sky News and Reuters and Guardian (London)

    The most intractable Brexit problem: Northern Ireland

    The fourth issue is the border between Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland (Ireland), which is part of the EU but not of the UK.

    In times past, there was a "hard border" between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Those were the times of "The Troubles," and violent clashes between the indigenous ethnic Irish Gaelics (the Catholics) and the descendants of the English and Scottish invaders (the Protestants). These clashes were resolved by the Good Friday Agreement (the Belfast Agreement) that resolved many issues, and particularly eliminated the hard border, turning it into an "invisible border" that anyone can cross at any time. That makes a lot of sense today, when Ireland and Northern Ireland are both part of the EU, and hence of the single market shared by the EU and the UK.

    Everyone seems to agree that a way must be found to avoid reinstating the hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. But the problem is that if there is no hard border, then any tariffs and customs duties between the EU and UK can be avoided simply by shipping products across the invisible border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

    If there's going to be no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, then there has to be a hard border within the UK itself, between Northern Ireland and England.

    So the EU is demanding, in effect, that there has to be a hard border between Northern Ireland and the island of England, Wales and Scotland. This proposal is infuriating many officials in Northern Ireland, and is rejected by David Davis, the UK's Brexit negotiator. Nobody has any idea how this will be resolved.

    So zero progress has been made on the fourth issue, the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Irish Times and BBC

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    Can the Brexit decision be reversed? The author of the rule says it can.

    It's been 17 months since the Brexit referendum, and so we are now halfway to March 29, 2019, when Britain will leave the EU, according to the rules specified in Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty, which Theresa May invoked on March 29 of this year. And almost nothing has been resolved on any of the major issues.

    Perhaps the logjam can be broken by the time of the Brussels summit on December 14-15. This would surprise everyone.

    It's more likely that none of the major issues will be resolved until total panic sets in late in 2018.

    It's possible that no agreement on the issues will be met, and the "no deal" option will occur in March 2019. In that case, the UK and the EU like any two stranger nations, and will follow the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules for trade that every nation follows. In this case, at the very least, there will be a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

    As more and more people realize that this entire Brexit process is insane, a third option is suddenly being discussed: The possibility of canceling the entire Brexit project and remaining in the EU.

    John Kerr, one of the authors of Article 50, was British ambassador to the EU from 1990-95. He is accusing Theresa May of misleading the British people by telling them that the Brexit decision is irrevocable, and that it can be revoked if Britain decides to unilaterally scrap divorce talks.

    In a speech on Friday, Kerr said:

    "While the divorce talks proceed, the parties are still married. Reconciliation is still possible

    We still have all the rights of a member-state, including the right to change our minds. The British people have the right to know this – they should not be misled.

    A political decision has been made, in this country, to maintain that there can be no going back. Actually, the country still has a free choice about whether to proceed."

    In an interview, Kerr added:

    "The Brexiters create the impression that is because of the way article 50 is written that having sent in a letter on 29 March 2017 we must leave automatically on 29 March 2019 at the latest. That is not true. It is misleading to suggest that a decision that we are taking autonomously in this country about the timing of our departure, we are required to take by a provision of EU treaty law."

    According to an analyst I heard on RFI, if the UK tries to use this as a bargaining ploy, then it will be rejected by the EU-27. But if the UK sincerely wants to remain in the EU, then it will be approved. Reuters and Guardian (London) and Bloomberg

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Nov-17 World View -- European Union Brexit negotiator gives Britain a two-week ultimatum thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Nov-2017) Permanent Link
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    10-Nov-17 World View -- Saudi Arabia blockades Yemen, threatening millions to die in famine

    All Saudis ordered to leave Lebanon, as Hariri's fate is unknown

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    All Saudis ordered to leave Lebanon, as Hariri's fate is unknown


    A poster depicting Saad al-Hariri, hanging in a neighborhood of his supporters in Beirut.  The words say 'With you forever.'  (Reuters)
    A poster depicting Saad al-Hariri, hanging in a neighborhood of his supporters in Beirut. The words say 'With you forever.' (Reuters)

    While there aren't concerns that Saudi warplanes will be flying over Lebanon tomorrow, the people of Lebanon are becoming increasingly anxious over what Saudi Arabia is planning, in view of the actions already taken.

    On Thursday, Saudi Arabia ordered all Saudis in Lebanon to leave immediately. Kuwait and United Arab Emirates (UAE) followed suit immediately. Bahrain had made a similar statement earlier.

    This followed last week's completely unexpected resignation of Lebanon's prime minister, Saad al-Hariri, a resignation made all the more shocking by the fact that al-Hariri flew to Saudi Arabia and issued the resignation announcement over television from the Saudi capital city Riyadh.

    In his resignation speech, al-Hariri denounced Iran and Iran's puppet organization Hezbollah for sowing strife in countries around the region. He also said that he feared that they were planning to assassinate him, as they had assassinated his father with a bomb in 2005.

    It's widely suspected among the people of Lebanon that al-Hariri is being held in Saudi Arabia against his will. In Lebanon's capital city Beirut, politicians of all parties, including al-Hariri's own party, are demanding that Saudi Arabia release him and allow him to return to Lebanon and explain why he resigned. Government officials are saying that they will not accept al-Hariri's resignation until he returns and reaffirms it.

    Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir on Thursday explained in an interview what was going on from the Saudi point of view. He blamed the situation on Iran and Hezbollah, and on Hezbollah's increasing control of the government of Lebanon:

    "Hezbollah put roadblocks in front of every initiative that Prime Minister Hariri tried to implement. Hezbollah has pretty much hijacked the Lebanese system. It has been the instrument that Iran used to dominate Lebanon, the instrument that Iran used to interfere with Syria, with Hamas, and with the Houthis. We see Hezbollah’s mischief all over the region. Hezbollah has been responsible for smuggling weapons into Bahrain. Hezbollah is involved in criminal activity, such as drug dealing and money laundering.

    We are saying that the world has to make sure that we designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. There can be no difference between a political wing and a militant wing. The world needs to take action in terms of curtailing Hezbollah's activities, and the world needs to push back against Hezbollah wherever they operate. We cannot allow Lebanon to be a platform from which harm comes to Saudi Arabia.

    The Lebanese people have been dominated by Hezbollah and we need to find a way to help the Lebanese people come out from under the thumb of Hezbollah. We cannot allow Lebanon to be a base from which attacks against Saudi Arabia can take place and we are urging the Lebanese government in particular to take firm and resolute action against Hezbollah."

    Lebanese government officials, speaking anonymously, reject Al-Jubeir's claim:

    "Keeping Hariri with restricted freedom in Riyadh is an attack on Lebanese sovereignty. Our dignity is his dignity. We will work with (foreign) states to return him to Beirut."

    Lebanon will ask foreign governments to pressure Saudi Arabia to release al-Hariri.

    What the people of Lebanon fear most is that their country will now join Syria as the site of a proxy war between Shias, led by Iran, versus Sunnis, led by Saudi Arabia. Arab News and Newsweek and Reuters

    Saudi Arabia blockades Yemen, threatening millions to die in famine

    Saudi Arabia imposed land, sea and air blockades on Yemen, preventing aid organizations from delivering food and medicines.

    Yemen has been engulfed in a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran-backed Houthi rebels since 2014. The war has already killed more than 10,000 and displaced millions, with around 500,000 cholera cases reported in the country since the worst outbreak in decades started in April. Saudi Arabia has been bogged down in the war, making little progress, and has already been accused of creating a humanitarian disaster.

    On Saturday last week, the Houthis launched a ballistic missile that reached the King Khalid International Airport near Riyadh, about 800 km from the Yemen border. The Saudis were able to intercept it with with a surface-to-air Patriot missile, but called it a 'dangerous escalation' in the war. The missile attack has been considered a game-changer in the war because it was clearly an Iranian ballistic missile, and because of the distance it traveled and its accuracy.

    On Monday, Saudi Arabia responded by blockading all air, land and sea routes into and out of Yemen, in order to prevent Iran from sending weapons into Iran.

    Yemen, which already was facing mass starvation and cholera cases, imports 90% of all its food, and 100% of all its medicines. Humanitarian organizations that have been supplying food and medicines are now blocked from deliveries into Yemen.

    On Wednesday, UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock said that the blockade would cause the worst famine since World War II:

    "It will not be like the famine that we saw in South Sudan earlier in the year, where tens of thousands of people were affected. It will not be like the famine which cost 250,000 people their lives in Somalia in 2011. It will be the largest famine the world has seen for many decades, with millions of victims."

    Saudi Arabia's young crown prince Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud has been taking one extreme measure after another. He engineered the air, sea and land blockade of Qatar in July, he engineered the isolation of Lebanon, in the last week he arranged for hundreds of high-level government and financial officials to be arrested, and possibly have their assets confiscated, and he's engineered the air, sea and land blockade of Yemen, putting millions of people at risk of starvation.

    Saudi Arabia is in a generational Crisis era and apparently is in a state of complete desperation in fighting Iran, and we can really see that in its actions, which are at the most extreme levels of atrocities. We've also already seen this in Syria, where the country's sociopathic Shia/Alawite president Bashar al-Assad has used Sarin gas on innocent Sunni civilians, and with the help of Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, has committed genocide against innocent Sunni women and children in Syria.

    And now it seems likely that Lebanon, which has always been a fragile country anyway, will be pulled into the same Sunni-Shia proxy battles as the other countries. In this generational Crisis era, the Mideast civilization seems to be collapsing, plummeting into the same pit of atrocities, slaughter and famine that has plagued it for centuries, possibly for millennia.

    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. BBC and CNN and Washington Post

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    9-Nov-17 World View -- Donald Trump in Seoul issues stern warning to North Korea -- and to China

    Trump's speech targeted at China

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Donald Trump in Seoul issues stern warning to North Korea -- and to China


    Donald and Melania Trump in South Korea on Wednesday (Reuters)
    Donald and Melania Trump in South Korea on Wednesday (Reuters)

    President Donald Trump, speaking to South Korea’s National Assembly on Wednesday, issued a stern warning to North Korea's president Kim Jong-un that his continued development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles did not protect his regime, but instead the regime into extreme peril:

    "All the while, the regime has pursued nuclear weapons with the deluded hope that it could blackmail its way to the ultimate objective. And that objective we are not going to let it have. We are not going to let it have. All of Korea is under that spell, divided in half. South Korea will never allow what's going on in North Korea to continue to happen. ...

    To this day, it continues to launch missiles over the sovereign territory of Japan and all other neighbors, test nuclear devices, and develop ICBMs to threaten the United States itself. The regime has interpreted America’s past restraint as weakness. This would be a fatal miscalculation. This is a very different administration than the United States has had in the past. ...

    Today, I hope I speak not only for our countries, but for all civilized nations, when I say to the North: Do not underestimate us, and do not try us. We will defend our common security, our shared prosperity, and our sacred liberty. ...

    America’s men and women in uniform have given their lives in the fight against Nazism, imperialism, Communism and terrorism.

    America does not seek conflict or confrontation, but we will never run from it. History is filled with discarded regimes that have foolishly tested America’s resolve.

    Anyone who doubts the strength or determination of the United States should look to our past, and you will doubt it no longer. We will not permit America or our allies to be blackmailed or attacked. We will not allow American cities to be threatened with destruction. We will not be intimidated. And we will not let the worst atrocities in history be repeated here, on this ground, we fought and died so hard to secure."

    In addition, did everything possible to make his warning as personally insulting as possible to Kim himself:

    "North Korea is a country ruled as a cult. At the center of this military cult is a deranged belief in the leader’s destiny to rule as parent-protector over a conquered Korean Peninsula and an enslaved Korean people. ...

    I also have come here to this peninsula to deliver a message directly to the leader of the North Korean dictatorship: The weapons you are acquiring are not making you safer. They are putting your regime in grave danger. Every step you take down this dark path increases the peril you face."

    Mainstream media reaction to the speech as usual was incoherent, with comments festooned with the usual snarky remarks about Trump himself. Nobody writing about the speech seemed to understand what Trump's strategic purpose was, and many articles concluded that it was a wasted speech because it won't stop North Korea from continuing its development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles -- which it certainly won't. White House and Washington Post and CNN and The Atlantic

    Trump's speech targeted at China

    There's a paragraph quoted above that's worth repeating:

    "America’s men and women in uniform have given their lives in the fight against Nazism, imperialism, Communism and terrorism.

    America does not seek conflict or confrontation, but we will never run from it. History is filled with discarded regimes that have foolishly tested America’s resolve."

    Everybody knows that if North Korea attacks the U.S., then the regime will be destroyed. So Trump was making this statement not for North Korea's benefit, but for China's benefit. Trump is reminding China that Japan made a disastrous mistake attacking the United States in 1941, and that the US defeated Japan and also saved China.

    The reason that most reporters are completely confused about Trump's strategy is because they don't understand Generational Dynamics. As regular readers know, I've worked with Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon off and on for almost ten years, and Bannon is an expert on world and military history, and he's also an expert on Generational Dynamics. Some news reports say that Bannon still talks regularly with Trump, so it's not surprising that Trump's foreign policy this year has almost completely consistent with the Generational Dynamics analysis. If you want to understand Trump's strategy, then you have to understand Generational Dynamics.

    Trump and Bannon are well aware of the following:

    China has previously said that if the US preemptively attacks North Korea, then China will defend it, but won't defend it if North Korea attacks first.

    Testing nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles and flying them over Japan, is already an act of war, and exploding one over the Pacific, as has been threatened, could threaten any aircraft or sea vessels in the area, and the radiation could be carried by the winds to any country bordering the Pacific. Any of these tests could be interpreted as a nuclear attack by North Korea requiring a military response, and if China keeps its promise, won't retaliate. However, this situation would certainly threaten the security of China.

    Chinese media have been discussing China's "Plan 2025" to overtake the United States and have worldwide hegemony by 2025. In a recent interview, Steve Bannon described China as "an enemy of incalculable power, not a strategic partner and we have to understand that." He summarized Plan 2025 as having several objectives:

    Trump's speech was a warning to China that its plan for world hegemony is going to be a lot more difficult than they expect. Trump may even hope to persuade China to choose a different path, but that can't happen. Generational Dynamics predicts that the world is headed for a Clash of Civilizations World War III, pitting the US, India, Russia, Iran and the West versus China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries. Breitbart and South China Morning Post

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    8-Nov-17 World View -- US expands military counter terrorism efforts in Africa after death of soldiers in Niger

    US and Niger dispute the facts about the four soldiers' deaths

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    US expands military counter terrorism efforts in Africa after death of soldiers in Niger


    Three Tuareg women in the city of Agadez, Niger, where the new US military drone base will be built (Pinterest)
    Three Tuareg women in the city of Agadez, Niger, where the new US military drone base will be built (Pinterest)

    Following the deaths on October 4 of four American soldiers in Niger on the border with Mali, the U.S. is planning an expansion of the American military presence in Africa's Sahel region (the strip of Africa just below the Sahara desert, separating the Arab north from Black Africa to the south), as part of its counter-terrorism strategy in Africa.

    The planned military expansions had been discussed earlier, but the events of October 4 gave them increased visibility and impetus.

    The Trump administration said last week that it would contribute an initial $60 million to the newly constituted "G5 Sahel" counter-terrorism force, led by France and containing 5,000 troops from five Sahel nations -- Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and Mauritania. However, the administration is demanding that other countries also contribute money to the effort, which is considerably short of its budget of about half a billion dollars.

    The second development is that the US has convinced the government of Niger to permit the US to operate armed drones over Niger airspace. Niger had refused permission in the past, but acquiesced after it was argued that an armed drone could have saved the lives of the American soldiers on October 4.

    The US had already committed $100 million as the initial construction costs, including fuel and equipment, of an American drone base in Agadez, in central Niger. According to an American military spokesman in September:

    "At the request of, and in close coordination with, the Government of Niger, United States Africa Command is establishing a temporary, expeditionary cooperative security location in Agadez, Niger.

    Agadez is an ideal, central location to enable ISR collection (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) to face the security threat across the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin region."

    Niger's government had approved the drone base only for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, using unarmed drones. But last week's announcement permits the use of armed drones, allowing the drones to protect American forces in operations such as those on October 4.

    The United States already has 800 troops in Niger, in a base near the capital city Niamey in western Niger. Eventually, these forces will be relocated to the new base in Agadez. Washington Post and Reuters and Reuters (30-Sep)

    US and Niger dispute the facts about the four soldiers' deaths

    As more details come out about the deaths of the four US soldiers and five Nigerien soldiers on October 4, it appears that they were the targets of a very well-planned ambush, apparently motivated by a desire for revenge.

    Note: "Nigerien" refers to Niger, while "Nigerian" refers to Nigeria.

    A team of 12 American and 30 Nigerien troops were on a supposedly low-risk reconnaissance mission, where chances of contact with militants were considered unlikely. They were leaving the border village of Tongo Tongo, when the village chief asked their help in getting medicine to treat sick children. There was a 40 minute delay, time that was used by the militants to set up the ambush.

    About 100 yards outside the village, they heard gunshots, and the militants sent a herd of cattle toward them, generating large clouds of dust, allowing the militants to see them, while they were blinded by the dust. There were about 50 militants, using heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and Kalashnikov rifles.

    However, there is a dispute between the American and Nigerien militaries about the nature of the mission. The American military insists that it was purely a reconnaissance mission of a type that had been performed many times before without incident.

    But Niger’s Defense Minister Kalla Moutari described the operation as "a reconnaissance mission, but also to neutralize the enemy." Specifically, the mission aimed to detain and question Doundou Chefou, an actively sought jihadist considered to be particularly dangerous.

    According to a senior US intelligence official, "They were up there so long on a mission that morphed, they were spotted, surveilled and ultimately hit." Washington Post and France 24

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    7-Nov-17 World View -- Democratic Republic of Congo issues farcical call for elections in December 2018

    Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe sacks the VP so that his wife can succeed him

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Democratic Republic of Congo issues farcical call for elections in December 2018


    A family flees violence in Kasai province in Democratic Republic of Congo (UNHCR)
    A family flees violence in Kasai province in Democratic Republic of Congo (UNHCR)

    On Sunday, the electoral commission of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) announced that a presidential election will be held on December 23, 2018. Unfortunately it's hard to see this announcement as anything but a joke, although the same kind of joke seems to occur in one African country after another.

    DRC president Joseph Kabila was supposed to step down on December 19 of last year, but he pulled a stunt worthy of any African leader: He did everything possible to prevent new elections from taking place, and then refused to step down because there hadn't been any elections. 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.

    It was always obvious that the agreement was a farce, and that Kabila would ignore the agreement. That has in fact happened, because once again Kabila did all he could to prevent new elections from taking place, and now with December 2017 upon us, there will be no elections.

    So now Kabila's election commission has announced that the election will take place in December 2018. So are we going to see another year where Kabila prevents a new election, and then makes some new agreement for an election in December 2019?

    The norm for the leaders of many African countries is to refuse to step down, to misappropriate huge amounts of money from the treasury and from foreign aid to pay money to his political cronies and thugs to buy their loyalty, to pay money to buy weapons to be used against the political opposition, and then to target his political enemies with mass slaughter, mass atrocities, mass rapes and mass torture, in order to stay in power.

    That's certainly what's happening in DRC. As we reported in July, in the 16 years he's been in office, he and his family and cronies have taken control of dozens of business, and more than 71,000 hectares (175,444 acres) of farmland, own diamond mines, a part of the country's largest mobile phone network, companies that mine mineral deposits, gold and limestone, a luxury hotel, stakes in an airline, a share of the country's banks, and a fast-food franchise.

    If he allowed an election to take place and the opposition won, then he would undoubtedly begin to lose control of that vast wealth, and might be thrown in jail for corruption. So we can be pretty certain that Kabila will not allow an election in December 2018, or ever -- or at least not a rigged election. However, the Trump administration has told Kabila that an election must be held by December 2018, or international aid will be cut off.

    The opposition stronghold is the central province of Kasai, where more than 3,000 people have been killed in escalating violence blamed on a government-sponsored militia. The UN has identified more than 80 mass graves and said it had found toddlers with limbs chopped off and pregnant women with their bellies sliced open, their unborn babies mutilated.

    The violence has resulted in 3.9 million people forced to flee their homes to escape the violence. Hundreds of thousands have fled to Zambia, Angola and other neighboring countries as refugees, creating a humanitarian disaster in those countries, and threatening to destabilize the entire region. Deutsche Welle and The Citizen (South Africa) and UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR)

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    Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe sacks the VP so that his wife can succeed him


    Robert and Grace Mugabe (AFP)
    Robert and Grace Mugabe (AFP)

    What Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe is doing is just a variation of what Joseph Kabila is doing in DRC, but the intended outcome is roughly the same.

    Mugabe is 93 years old, and has used violence, rape and torture to stay in power for 37 years, but even he knows that he can't be president forever. Mugabe's wife, 52 year old Grace Ntombizodwa Mugabe, said earlier this year that Mugabe would continue governing from the grave:

    "One day when God decides that Mugabe dies, we will have his corpse appear as a candidate on the ballot paper,

    You will see people voting for Mugabe as a corpse. I am seriously telling you — just to show people how people love their president."

    However, Grace now has another solution -- she will replace Mugabe as president.

    Grace Mugabe and the vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa have been feuding, and recently he accused her of poisoning him. On Saturday, Grace Mugabe called Mnangagwa the “root cause of factionalism," and she accused the vice-president’s supporters of booing her while she gave a speech. She said, "What if I get in [as vice-president]? What’s wrong with that? Am I not in the party? If people know that I work hard and they want to work with me, what is wrong with that?"

    So on Sunday, Mugabe fired vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa, clearing the way for his wife Grace to become vice president, and then succeed him as president.

    Mugabe is from the Shona tribe, and in the early 1980s, he launched a massive genocide and ethnic cleansing campaign against his traditional tribal enemies, the Ndebele tribe. During that campaign, known as Operation Gukurahundi, accomplished with the help of training by North Koreans, tens of thousands of people, mostly from the Ndebele tribe, were raped, tortured and slaughtered.

    In 1999, Mugabe adopted his "indigenization" program. At that time, Zimbabwe was considered the breadbasket of Africa, second only to Kenya in food production. Mugabe threw all the white farm owners out of the country, and turned the farms over to his incompetent cronies and thugs in the Shona tribe. By 2003, Zimbabwe was starving, and the number of Zimbabweans dying of starvation continued to grow. By 2008, the official rate of inflation was 231 million percent. ( "24-Feb-2014 World View -- Mass murderer Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has 90th birthday")

    So Kabila and Mugabe are cut from the same cloth -- destroying the economy with massive corruption and using massive slaughter, rape and torture to stay in power. But whereas Kabila used the trick of preventing elections in order to stay in power, Mugabe is using the trick of getting his wife to replace him, and effectively rule the country from his grave. Once again, it's hard to see this as anything but a joke.

    Unfortunately, we've seen the same sort of thing in one form or another in other African countries, including South Sudan, Burundi, Uganda, Rwanda, Cameroon, and Eritrea, as well as in non-African countries, including Syria and Thailand. The methods vary, and the levels of violence vary, but the outcomes are always the same -- to keep the élites in power by any means possible. Reuters and Guardian (London) and The Herald (Zimbabwe) and AFP (18-Feb-2017)

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    6-Nov-17 World View -- Saudi Arabia and Lebanon face increasing instability as crises multiply

    Yemen's Houthi missile attack on Riyadh called a 'dangerous escalation'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Hezbollah's Nasrallah calls for calm in the streets of Lebanon


    Iran now claims to control four Arab capitals: Beirut (Top L), Sanaa (Top R), Baghdad (Bottom L), Damascus (Bottom R) (AlWeeam)
    Iran now claims to control four Arab capitals: Beirut (Top L), Sanaa (Top R), Baghdad (Bottom L), Damascus (Bottom R) (AlWeeam)

    Following the shocking resignation on Saturday of Lebanon's prime minister Saad Hariri, fears are growing of instability and street protests. Hariri played a crucial role in the government as a Sunni Muslim, balancing a Syriac Maronite Catholic president and a Shia Muslim speaker of parliament, both of whom were closely allied with Hezbollah's leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

    The fears that that at best the government will simply be unable to make any decisions at all, as had happened in recent years, and at worst that street protesters will riot and blame Nasrallah for the country's severe economic problems.

    Some people fear that Nasrallah will deflect attention from himself by starting a war with Israel.

    Nasrallah is calling for calm, and for avoiding street protests:

    "This created a state of anxiety in Lebanon and especially with the rumors that accompanied it. We call for avoiding a return to the previous tensions or to any street protests. ... All of us must remain calm within legal frameworks ... and I don't think that there is any party to clan in Lebanon whose interests are in Lebanon returning to chaotic conditions of the past."

    However, the Foreign Ministry of Bahrain issued a statement calling on its citizens to leave Lebanon:

    "Due to the current circumstances and developments in the Republic of Lebanon, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs requests all citizens of the Kingdom of Bahrain, currently present in the Republic of Lebanon, to leave immediately and with utmost care and caution.

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also stresses that all citizens should not travel to the Republic of Lebanon at all, for the sake of their safety, in order to avoid encountering any risks as a result of these developments."

    Nasrallah said that the reasons for the resignation were not understood in Lebanon, and that anyway they weren't Lebanese reasons. He offered as proof the fact that Hariri traveled to Saudi Arabia to resign. "The shape of the resignation proves that Hariri was forced to do so and that the resignation was a Saudi decision." Arab News and Al Manar (Lebanon, Hezbollah) and Bahrain Foreign Ministry

    Yemen's Houthi missile attack on Riyadh called a 'dangerous escalation'

    Saudi Arabia is calling a ballistic missile attack by Houthi militias in Yemen a "dangerous escalation" of the war in Yemen, in which a Saudi-led coalition is fighting against Iran-backed Houthi rebels. Saudi Arabia blames Iran for the missile attack.

    On Saturday, the Houthis launched a ballistic missile that reached the King Khalid International Airport near Riyadh, about 800 km from the Yemen border. The Houthis have been regularly launching missiles into Saudi territory, but Saturday's missile attack is considered a game-changer because of the distance it traveled and its accuracy. The Saudis intercepted the ballistic missile with a surface-to-air Patriot missile, which caused it to shatter into fragments near the airport, before it could reach its target. There were no casualties.

    The Saudi-led coalition responded to the "dangerous escalation" with a major escalation of its own. The Saudis have shut down all of Yemen's land, sea and air ports, and have launched airstrikes, supposedly the largest barrage since the beginning of the war, on Houthi targets in Yemen's capital city Sanaa.

    Yemen has been engulfed in war since September 2014, when Houthi fighters attacked the government in Sanaa and overthrew the internationally recognized government. The war has already killed more than 10,000 and displaced millions, with around 500,000 cholera cases reported in the country since the worst outbreak in decades started in April. Saudi Arabia has been accused of creating a humanitarian disaster. Reuters and Al Jazeera

    Saudi's young Crown Prince Salman forces rapid change among multiple crises

    The 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman by far the youngest ruler that Saudi Arabia has had in decades. He is bringing about vast changes, very quickly, but opening up the country to instability.

    This weekend, there have been a series of crises in rapid succession. First, Saad Hariri resigned as Lebanon's prime minister while in Riyadh. Hours later, the Houthi missile attack on Riyadh occurred, called a "dangerous escalation" by the Saudis, who responded with their own escalation in the form of port closings and a barrage of airstrikes.

    Next, Saudi Arabia announced a major purge of political and business élites, involving the arrest of 11 princes, four ministers, and dozens of former ministers accused of corruption. Just as the resignation of Hariri has raised questions about the stability of Lebanon's government, the size of the purge has raised questions about the stability and predictability of the Saudi government.

    Saudi officials were still reeling from those three events, when there was news that Saudi Prince Mansour bin Muqrin was killed in a helicopter crash, when traveling near the Yemen border. There were immediate concerns that the helicopter was shot down by a Houthi missile, but no explanation has been given, and the Houthis themselves haven't claimed credit, suggesting that the crash was not related to the Yemen war. Several other Saudi officials were killed in the same crash.

    If this were the 1990s, or even the early 2000s, when the Mideast was relatively stable, even these four events could be handled as a matter of course. But ever since the "Arab Spring" of 2011, the Mideast has become increasingly unstable almost continuously.

    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. Jordan Times and CNN and Al Jazeera

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    5-Nov-17 World View -- Saad Hariri shocks Lebanon by resigning as PM while in Saudi Arabia

    Lebanon enters the Sunni/Shia front line between Iran and Saudi Arabia

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Saad Hariri shocks Lebanon by resigning as PM while in Saudi Arabia


    Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah (L) and former prime minister Saad Hariri (R)
    Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah (L) and former prime minister Saad Hariri (R)

    Saad Hariri, the prime minister of Lebanon, shocked the country and the region on Saturday by announcing his resignation as prime minister of Lebanon from a television studio in Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia.

    The main points of his announcement were:

    Hariri's exact words are as follows:

    "You are the people of a great Lebanon, with its traditions, values and bright history. You were the beacon of science, knowledge and democracy until you became governed by groups that did not care for your wellbeing. They were supported by forces outside the borders, which implanted among the people those who wished to cause strife, and formed a government inside a government. This ended with these forces controlling branches of government and obtaining the final say in the affairs of Lebanon and the [lives of the] Lebanese.

    I refer, frankly and unequivocally, to Iran, which plants sedition, devastation and ruin, which is attested to by its interference in the internal affairs of the Arab nation, in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain and Yemen – driven by a deep hatred of the Arab nation and an overwhelming desire to destroy and control it. Unfortunately, I found the sons who put their hand in [Iran’s] hand, and openly declare their loyalty to them and seek to kidnap Lebanon from its Arab and international environment, with its values and ideals. I mean Hezbollah, which is the arm of Iran not only in Lebanon but also in other Arab countries.

    To the great Lebanese people: over the past decades, Hezbollah has unfortunately managed to impose a fait accompli in Lebanon using the force of its weapons, which are alleged to be solely for the resistance [to Israel]. ...

    We live in an atmosphere similar to the atmosphere that prevailed before the assassination of martyr Rafiq Hariri, and I have sensed that someone has been targeting me.

    Based on the principles I inherited from the late martyr Rafiq Hariri and the principles of the Great Cedar Revolution, and because I do not want to let the Lebanese down or accept any deviations from these principles, I declare my resignation as Lebanese prime minister. I am convinced that the will of the Lebanese is stronger and their resolve is stronger. They are able to overcome these forces from inside or outside. I hope that Lebanon will be the strongest free independent country, with no authority over it except for its great people, governed by law and protected by one army and one weapon."

    Reuters and Daily Star (Lebanon) and Naharnet (Lebanon)

    Lebanon enters the Sunni/Shia front line between Iran and Saudi Arabia

    Rafiq Hariri was assassinated in 2005 because of his opposition to control of Lebanon's government by Syria's leader Bashar al-Assad. Public and international pressure forced Syria to withdraw completely from Lebanon, but this only strengthened Hezbollah, which was and is the puppet of Iran and Syria.

    Saad Hariri clearly does not have the charisma and leadership qualities of his father, and is still in the shadow of the explosive death of his father 12 years ago. He shares his father's belief that Lebanon should be run by Lebanon's people, not by Iran and Syria. So with Hezbollah continually gaining strength in Lebanon's government, Hariri became the most vocal opponent of Hezbollah. That could explain why he felt that his life would be in danger if he made the announcement in Beirut, and felt it was necessary to announce his resignation in a foreign country - Saudi Arabia.

    However, his political opponents are saying that the decision to resign on television in Riyadh is inexplicable except as a plot by Saudi Arabia. Iran's officials are saying that the resignation was engineered by US president Donald Trump and Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. It seems unlikely that Trump was involved, but it's quite possible that the Saudis strongly urged Hariri to step down.

    Lebanon's constitution requires that the three main offices be occupied by specific sectarian groups.

    Hariri became prime minister in 2016, under a deal where Michel Aoun, a Maronite Catholic and close ally of Hezbollah, because president. When Hariri took office, he promised quite optimistically to end sectarian divisions.

    That was never possible anyway, but the war in Syria only made things worse. As Iran's puppet militia, Hezbollah became Iran's major fighting force in Syria, and also took control Lebanon's national army.

    After Hariri's resignation on Saturday, it falls to the Beirut government to find a new Sunni Muslim prime minister. If, as many believe, Hariri resigned because of pressure from Saudi Arabia, then the Saudis won't stop there, and will pressure other prominent Sunnis in Lebanon not to take the job. What many people fear is that Lebanon's government faces years of chaos, just as it did following the explosive death of Rafiq Hariri in 2005.

    However, it's worth pointing out that after 2005, many people thought that Lebanon was close to a new civil war. During the Israel-Hezbollah war in 2006, which took place on Lebanon's soil, I quoted Lebanon's President Émile Geamil Lahoud as saying:

    "Believe me, what we get from [Israeli bombers] is nothing compared to [what would happen] if there is an internal conflict [a new civil war] in Lebanon. So our thanks comes when we are united, and we are really united, and the national army is doing its work according to the government, and the resistance [Hezbollah] is respected in the whole Arab world from the population point of view. And very highly respected in Lebanon as well."

    This was Lahoud expressing the fear shared by all survivors of the last war that its horrors would be repeated. As I pointed out at the time, Lebanon was in a generational Awakening era, with the survivors of the last crisis civil war still alive, so there was no chance of a new civil war.

    Over ten years have passed since then, and most of those survivors are still alive, and so there's still no chance of a new civil war (unless the politicians force one to occur, as Bashar al-Assad has done in Syria).

    The larger picture is that Saturday's resignation puts Lebanon squarely in between Saudi Arabia and Iran and their battles for regional hegemony. Saudi Arabia is fighting Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen, with no end in sight. Saudi Arabia has led this year's land, sea and air blockade of Qatar, giving Qatar's relationship with Iran as one of the reasons. And the Saudis are very anxious about Iran on the cusp of a major victory in the war in Syria by establishing control of a swath of land all along the "Shia Crescent," from Iran, through Iraq, through Syria, and then on to Lebanon in one direction, and the Mediterranean Sea in another direction.

    In Syria, the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) is losing territory rapidly, and it appears that its total defeat is only weeks away. The defeat of ISIS will free up Iran and Hezbollah to focus on its other enemies -- Saudi Arabia and Israel.

    Ever since the ironically named Arab Spring began in 2011, we've seen chaos and war spring up in one Arab country after another -- Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Syria and Iraq. Now Lebanon may join the list, as the end of ISIS and the resignation of Hariri completely change the political landscape across the region.

    We've pointed out in the past that all the various armies and militias fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria now have nothing better to do than start fighting each other. In defeating ISIS, the Turks, the Iranians, the Kurds, the Shia militias, Hezbollah and the Syrian rebel militias have all achieved a famous victory, and now they're going to celebrate by killing each other.

    As I'm writing this article on Saturday evening ET, there's late news that the Houthis in Yemen have launched a ballistic missile that reached the King Khalid International Airport near Riyadh, about 800 km from the Yemen border. The fact that the Houthis now have these medium-range ballistic missiles, probably supplied by Iran, that can reach as far as Riyadh is a game-changed in the Yemen war, and could lead to a further escalation in the region.

    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. Daily Star (Lebanon) and CNN and Debka and Al Jazeera

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Nov-17 World View -- Saad Hariri shocks Lebanon by resigning as PM while in Saudi Arabia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Nov-2017) Permanent Link
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    4-Nov-17 World View -- Socialist Venezuela may or may not have declared bankruptcy on Thursday

    Socialist Venezuela may have reached the end of its economic road

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Socialist Venezuela may or may not have declared bankruptcy on Thursday


    During his televised speech on Thursday, Maduro grabs an empanada (a rich pastry) from his desk drawer when he thinks the cameras are off, while most of his people are starving (Caracas Chronicle)
    During his televised speech on Thursday, Maduro grabs an empanada (a rich pastry) from his desk drawer when he thinks the cameras are off, while most of his people are starving (Caracas Chronicle)

    In a nationally televised speech on Thursday, Venezuela's Socialist president Nicolás Maduro Moros announced that Venezuela would be "refinancing and restructuring" and "reformatting" its debt:

    "I decree a refinancing and restructuring of external debt and all Venezuelan payments. We’re going to a complete reformatting. To find an equilibrium, and to cover the necessities of the country, the investments of the country. ...

    We have to pay the amount of US$1.121 billion from the Pdvsa 2017 bonus and we have the money to fulfill this obligation," the head of state announced, adding that the government also has resources to continue providing necessities to Venezuelans.

    We have the money for this payment, and we also have the money for raw materials, medicines and food. ...

    I am naming a special presidential commission led by Vice President Tareck El Aissami to begin refinancing and restructuring all of Venezuela’s external debt and (begin) the fight against the financial persecution of our country."

    As various articles have pointed out, this announcement by Maduro didn't make sense, and was contradictory. Refinancing and restructuring are two different things. Refinancing implies an orderly market transaction, while restructuring implies a default and bankruptcy. Nobody knows what "reformatting" is.

    Some analysts are suggesting that Maduro is in so far over his head that he doesn't know what he's talking about.

    The "special presidential commission" will be led by Vice President Tareck El Aissami, who is under sanctions by the US Treasury Department for protecting drug lords and overseeing a network exporting thousands of kilograms of cocaine. El Aissami announced that his government will hold a bondholders meeting on November 13 to reaffirm Venezuela's commitment to paying off its debts.

    Maduro says that Venezuela would make a $1.1 billion payment that's due now. That payment was made, and if it hadn't been, then Venezuela would be in default, but it still makes no sense to make a payment just before refinancing or restructuring.

    Finally, Maduro says that even with this payment, the country has the money for raw materials, medicines and food. Actually it doesn't. Maduro has been starving the people and the hospitals for years, and that isn't going to change.

    Venezuela got into this situation by faithfully following Socialist principles. When oil prices were high, Maduro's predecessor Hugo Chávez used the overflowing treasury and even borrowed more money to buy votes with enormously expensive social programs. When oil prices crashed in 2014, Maduro paid off debts by incurring huge new debts. Telesur Tv and Reuters and Bloomberg and Washington Post and DealBreaker

    Socialist Venezuela may have reached the end of its economic road

    All told, there’s $143 billion in foreign debt owed by the government and state entities. Maduro would like to borrow more money, to incur even larger debts to make payments on current debts, but is unable to do so since August 28, when US president Donald Trump imposed sanctions that prevent further borrowing.

    The International Monetary Fund said last month it expects inflation in Venezuela to reach 2,350% in 2018, up from about 500% in 2017. This has made Venezuela's currency, the bolivar, almost completely worthless.

    Because Venezuela's bonds have been high risk for some time, they've been paying very high yields (interest rates) - almost 10 times as higher than those of neighboring Colombia. Investors have purchased these bonds hoping for big returns. Big institutional investors in the United States include T Rowe Price, Ashmore Investment Management, BlackRock Investment Management, and Goldman Sachs.

    Because of US sanctions, Maduro can't borrow any more money from Western companies "Today, if Venezuela wants to go out to the world to refinance one of these bonds we have to pay, it can’t. It’s prohibited by the global financial dictatorship of the North American empire."

    Maduro could borrow more from China and Russia, which are not covered by US sanctions. However, Venezuela already owes $37.2 billion to both countries, and both countries are said to be demanding economic reforms.

    Venezuela is sitting on the largest oil reserves in the world, but oil production under the Socialist government has fallen almost 3% this year. The disastrous Socialist economy is in disarray, and its refineries run at less than 50% of the available capacity, because the oil companies are being run by Maduro's Socialist cronies, not by people who actually know how to run an oil company. In the past, Venezuela has borrowed money from Russia and China via an oil-for-loan agreement, but oil production has been falling because of the incompetence of Maduro's Socialist cronies.

    In the 1980s, the Soviet Union took on the task of supplying money to Socialist Cuba. Now Russia has to decide whether to take on the task of supplying money to Socialist Venezuela, which has three times the population, at a time when Russia's own economy is in despair.

    So Maduro has three choices.

    First, he can convince Russia to bail him out again, and continue bailing him out forever into the future.

    Second, he can simply stop paying, and go into default. In this case, his creditors will go after the country's foreign assets, including Citgo and tankers that dock at foreign ports.

    And third, he can try to convince Western investors, along with the IMF, to bail him out. They would only agree to this if Maduro agreed to massive economic reforms, and probably Maduro himself would have to step down.

    Recent history tells us that Russia will bail him out at least one more time, but even Russia may be losing patience. With Tareck El Aissami's meeting with bondholders scheduled for November 13, we may have an answer soon. Reuters and Bloomberg and Economist

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Nov-17 World View -- Socialist Venezuela may or may not have declared bankruptcy on Thursday thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Nov-2017) Permanent Link
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    3-Nov-17 World View -- Violence in Nigeria grows over clashes between herders and farmers

    Oklahoma! - The farmer and the cowboy should be friends

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Violence in Nigeria grows over clashes between herders and farmers


    Fulani herders in Nigeria (royaltimes.net)
    Fulani herders in Nigeria (royaltimes.net)

    I've written many times that many ethnic wars are based on fundamental clashes between farmer tribes and herder tribes. in country after country, there a classic and recurring battle between herders and farmers, I've described in Central African Republic, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, and even America in the 1800s. The farmers accuse the herders of letting the cattle eat their crops, while the herders accuse the farmers of planting on land that's meant for grazing. If the farmers put up fences, then the herders knock them down.

    In Nigeria, it's estimated that 2,500 people were killed and move than 62,000 people lost their homes in 2016 in just four provinces, Kaduna, Plateau, Nasarawa and Benue states. The federal government lost $13.7 billion in revenue as a result of these conflicts. According to former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar: "There is a breakdown of communal trust, conflict resolution mechanisms and these conflicts have become deadly," and "the current situation is threatening the fragile peace in the nation."

    A report last month from the International Crisis Group describes how the clashes have been getting more widespread and violent, and are becoming sectarian, as the herders are mostly Faluni Muslims from northern Nigeria, and the farmers are most Christians from southern Nigeria:

    "Violent conflicts between nomadic herders from northern Nigeria and sedentary agrarian communities in the central and southern zones have escalated in recent years and are spreading southward, threatening the country’s security and stability. With an estimated death toll of approximately 2,500 people in 2016, these clashes are becoming as potentially dangerous as the Boko Haram insurgency in the north east. ...

    Familiar problems – relating to land and water use, obstruction of traditional migration routes, livestock theft and crop damage – tend to trigger these disputes. But their roots run deeper. Drought and desertification have degraded pastures, dried up many natural water sources across Nigeria’s far-northern Sahelian belt and forced large numbers of herders to migrate south in search of grassland and water for their herds. Insecurity in many northern states (a consequence of the Boko Haram insurgency in the north east and of less-well-reported rural banditry and cattle rustling in the north-west and north-central zones) also prompts increasing numbers of herdsmen to migrate south. The growth of human settlements, expansion of public infrastructure and acquisition of land by large-scale farmers and other private commercial interests, have deprived herders of grazing reserves designated by the post-independence government of the former Northern region (now split into nineteen states). ...

    The spread of conflict into southern states is aggravating already fragile relations among the country’s major regional, ethnic and religious groups. The south’s majority Christian communities resent the influx of predominantly Muslim herders, portrayed in some narratives as an “Islamisation force”. Herders are mostly Fulani, lending an ethnic dimension to strife. Insofar as the Fulani spread across many West and Central African countries, any major confrontation between them and other Nigerian groups could have regional repercussions, drawing in fighters from neighboring countries."

    The Fulani herders are now sometimes equated to terror groups like Boko Haram as a consequence of their attacks on farmers. The Fulani herders are also playing a big part in the generational crisis civil war in Central African Republic, as we've described in the past.

    Nigeria's president, Muhammadu Buhari, is a Fulani and owns large herds of cattle. He has been accused of complicity about the Fulani attacks on farmers.

    In order to protect farmers, Benue State, which is in Nigeria's middle belt separating the north from the south, passed an "Anti-Grazing Law. The law was passed in May, but only came into effect on Wednesday. The law prohibits open grazing of cattle, and requires herders to maintain their herds of cattle on ranches. The law is being accompanied by a training program to teach herders modern methods of ranching.

    However, the new law is somewhat laughable, as there's no way that it will stop Fulani herder attacks on farmers. On Thursday, an attack by suspected Fulani herdsmen on a village in Benue State resulted in one death and many others missing. Daily Trust (Abuja) and International Crisis Group and Vanguard (Nigeria) and The Nation (Nigeria) and Daily Post (Nigeria)

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    Oklahoma! - The farmer and the cowboy should be friends

    Violent clashes between farmers and herders are not unique to Africa. They occur in any country that has a growing population and has both farmers and herders. In particular, there were many bloody battles between farmers and herders in 1800s and early 1900s America.

    In 1941, those battles were still fresh in the lives of many alive at that time, and they were a sub-plot of the great Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway musical Oklahoma!.

    One of the most festive song and dance production numbers in the show was "The farmer and the cowboy should be friends."

    The number is instructive to today's audience's because it provides hints of just how bitter the fight was between farmers and cowboys. The play takes place around 1900, just as Oklahoma was becoming a state. The lyrics begin:

    "Oh, the farmer and the cowboy should be friends,
    Oh, the farmer and the cowboy should be friends.
    One man likes to push a plough,
    The other likes to chase a cow,
    But that's no reason why they cain't be friends.

    Territory folks should stick together,
    Territory folks should all be pals.
    Cowboys dance with farmer's daughters,
    Farmers dance with the ranchers' gals."

    However, as the music and dancing continue, the farmers and cowboys start sniping at each other:

    "Eller:
    The farmer should be sociable with the cowboy
    If he rides by and ask for food and water
    Don't treat him like a louse
    Make him welcome in your house

    Ike:
    But be sure that you locked up your wife and daughters"

    The ensuing mass brawl is fully choreographed, as farmers and cowboys take swings at each other in time to the music.

    If you'd like to enjoy five minutes of music and fun, then check out the Youtube video of the number from the 1955 film. YouTube

    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Nov-17 World View -- Violence in Nigeria grows over clashes between herders and farmers thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Nov-2017) Permanent Link
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    2-Nov-17 World View -- Israel and Saudi Arabia prepare for war with Hezbollah, as Syria war winds down

    Saudi Arabian minister calls for 'toppling Hezbollah'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Israel and Hezbollah prepare for war with each other


    Hezbollah supporters chant slogans and gesture on al-Quds day in southern Lebanon on June 23 (Reuters)
    Hezbollah supporters chant slogans and gesture on al-Quds day in southern Lebanon on June 23 (Reuters)

    With the rise of hopes, delusional or not, that the war in Syria will settle down within a few months, all the players are now looking ahead to the wars to follow.

    Hezbollah, Iran's puppet Shia militia organization in Lebanon, was originally formed in 1985 to launch war with Israel, and still has no other objective other than war with Israel. War with Israel is its only reason for existing.

    Israel and Hezbollah last had a war in 2006. That war was a disaster for both sides, and also a disaster for Le