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21-May-18 World View -- Stage is set for a new humanitarian catastrophe in Syria's Idlib province

Turkey warns Syria's Bashar al-Assad not to attack Idlib province

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Stage is set for a new humanitarian catastrophe in Syria's Idlib province


Two women bid farewell to their deceased families on March 24, before fleeing Ghouta for Idlib province (Syria Deeply)
Two women bid farewell to their deceased families on March 24, before fleeing Ghouta for Idlib province (Syria Deeply)

The army of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad is in the final weeks of regaining control of areas around Damascus that it lost to opposition forces, mainly in the 2013-14 time frame to the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). ISIS was composed mainly of foreign fighters that had come from over 80 to fight Bashar al-Assad, and they were opposed not only by the al-Assad regime but also by local Syrian anti-Assad militias. Among these Syrian anti-Assad militias are the al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). They also include "Jaysh al-Islam" or "Army of Islam."

Al-Assad has used the same methods to take control of Eastern Aleppo a year ago, and Eastern Ghouta and Douma in the last few months. There's massive bombing by Syrian and Russian warplanes of homes, hospitals, schools and marketing, particularly targeting women and children. Because many people, especially women and children, hide out in basements from the bombs, al-Assad drops barrel bombs containing chlorine. Since chlorine is heavier than air, it drifts down into the basements and forces the women and children into the streets, where al-Assad's bombs can kill many of them all at once. In addition, al-Assad has used Sarin gas for mass slaughter on occasions.

After several months of this bombardment, international pressure has caused al-Assad to agree to allow the anti-Assad militias to give up their weapons, and flee the violence along with their families by traveling to Idlib province in northwestern Syria along the border with Turkey.

Tens of thousands of refugees from Aleppo and Ghouta have traveled to Idlib province, and Idlib province is now a smoking cauldron. There are multiple competing militias all across the province, some of them moderate, and some al-Qaeda linked. New militias are being formed all the time, as tensions increase because of overcrowding. Some of the militias get along with each other, and in other cases they fight and kill each other.

Now that al-Assad is finishing up in Ghouta, he's beginning to turn his attention to Idlib province, where he plans to take control in the same way. But while Aleppo and Ghouta each started with about 300,000-400,000 people, Idlib has 2.5 million people. Furthermore, while Idlib was the location to which families fled from violence, there's no place else to go to escape Idlib.

If, as seems likely, al-Assad begins to use missiles, barrel bombs, chlorine and Sarin gas on women and children in Idlib, there will humanitarian catastrophe several times worse than we've seen in Ghouta or Aleppo. Syria Deeply (29-Mar) and Enab Baladi (10-May) and United Nations and TRT World (Turkey)

Turkey warns Syria's Bashar al-Assad not to attack Idlib province

Turkey is responsible for enforcing a ceasefire in Idlib province, under the terms of agreements from the "Astana peace process," a series of meetings that took place in Astana Kazakhstan between Turkey, Russia and Iran. Those meetings defined four "de-escalation zones," and the participants are responsible for enforcing a ceasefire in them.

The whole Astana agreement about de-escalation zones has turned out to be a big joke. Not only did Russia and Iran not make any attempt to enforce a ceasefire in the de-escalation zones they were responsible for, they actually did the opposite. Russia, in particular, was particularly bloody in its warplane attacks on civilians in de-escalation zones. Bashar al-Assad has already begun bombing in the Idlib de-escalation zone. The whole de-escalation zone plan has proven to be a farce and a lie.

However, Turkey claims it will enforce a ceasefire in Idlib province, which is the de-escalation zone that it is responsible for. Turkey has been setting up observation posts within Idlib province, from which the ceasefire can be monitored. Turkey set up its 12th and final observation posts on Wednesday of last week.

Turkey's foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu last week warned the Syrian government not to attack Idlib province, since any such attack will lead to a "catastrophe":

"Currently the most important issue is for the ceasefire not be violated in Syria. If this is achieved, political settlement will become closer. There are many fragmented terror groups. Our intelligence service and the General Staff are dealing with the matter. We have achieved certain results. If the Syrian regime launches an attack tomorrow under the pretext of fighting against terrorists, it will be a catastrophe. This is why we are monitoring the situation and have established our observation posts."

So, Cavusoglu is saying that a Syrian attack will be a "catastrophe," but he doesn't say that anything will be done in response to such an attack.

In fact, each of these 12 observation posts consists of a few tanks and a few Turkish soldiers. The sites are typically on the top of a hill, so that as much countryside as possible can be observed, but it's clear that Turkish forces can do nothing to stop fighting among the local militias, or to prevent Syrian or Russian bombing with Idlib. All they can do is "observe." Anadolu and Middle East Eye and Sputnik (Moscow)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-May-18 World View -- Stage is set for a new humanitarian catastrophe in Syria's Idlib province thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-May-2018) Permanent Link
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20-May-18 World View -- China escalates militarization of South China Sea, preparing for war

China prepares for war on multiple fronts

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China escalates militarization of South China Sea, preparing for war


China's H-6K-a bomber is a modernized version of a 60-year-old Soviet design -- is the only mass-produced bomber in the world today (Xinhua)
China's H-6K-a bomber is a modernized version of a 60-year-old Soviet design -- is the only mass-produced bomber in the world today (Xinhua)

While 99% of the world was hypnotized by Markle Sparkle, China made a major escalation in its illegal militarization of the South China Sea, and said it was preparing for war.

China announced on Friday that it has begun landing bombers on the artificial islands it created in the South China sea, in preparation for the Battle of the South China Sea. The announcement appeared on China's Ministry of Defense web site:

"A division of the Air Force’s aviation division has recently organized multi-model multi-bombers such as the -6K to carry out training on islands and reefs to take off and land in the southern seas, tempering the ability to “reach all regions, conduct full-time air strikes, and strike in all directions." ...

The aviation division equipped with the H-6K and other multi-type bombers, keeping in mind the strategic requirements of “ideological and political should be strong, have good skills to fight and must be strong in fighting style”, are fully committed to advancing training in the new era and are preparing for the West Pacific and the Battle of the South China Sea."

This is another major escalation in China's preparation for war. The bombers are landing on the artificial islands that China constructed in violation of international law, as the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague ruled that all of China's activities in the South China Sea are illegal.

China has repeatedly lied and hid its true intentions. Originally, the artificial islands were going to be for tourists and scientists, which was a lie. Then the military installations would be purely defensive, which was another lie. And now they're part of a massive militarization in anticipation, when preparation has been completed, to launch a full-scale war on America and its allies. Chinese military facilities in the South China Sea include air bases, radar and communications systems, naval facilities and defensive weaponry including landing strips able to accommodate military planes.

This announcement comes just two weeks after China deployed offensive cruise and surface-to-air missiles in South China Sea.

Friday's announcement referred to the artificial island off Woody Island, in the Paracel Islands. It's believed that this island is a blueprint for deployments to the Spratly Islands farther south, at its outposts at Subi, Mischief and Fiery Cross Reefs. In all cases, these reefs can accommodate bombers, as well as large transport, patrol, and refueling aircraft. China Daily and China Ministry of Defense (Trans) and Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (CSIS/AMTI) and Popular Science

China prepares for war on multiple fronts

On June 16 of last year, China sent troops and construction workers to begin road construction in Bhutan's Doklam Plateau, with the apparent intention of annexing the region. At Bhutan's request, India sent in troops to prevent the annexation. Tensions escalated for weeks, and then suddenly and unexpectedly on August 28 the crisis ended when China backed off.

No one seriously believed that China backed off because they had lost interest. The most likely conclusion was that China was not ready for a full-scale war with India, and wanted to wait until it WAS ready for a full-scale war.

In the meantime, satellite images show that China has military buildup in Bhutan's Doklam Plateau. China has positioned thousands of troops, and built two helicopter platforms, and dozens of houses and stores.

Recently, China's Foreign Ministry reaffirmed its claim that Doklam belongs to China:

"Donglong (Doklam) belongs to China because we have historical conventions. China's activities there (Doklam) are within our sovereign rights. There is no such thing as changing status quo."

Furthermore, it emerged that Chinese troops have made new roads and other construction to gain access to another region of Bhutan. So few people doubt that China has not given up, but is moving forward with a large military buildup to use for an invasion at a time of its choosing.

As we reported last week, China says that the reason that it's performing aggressive military exercises around Taiwan is with the intention of threatening Taiwan. Once again, China is preparing for an invasion of Taiwan at a time of its choosing. Similar aggressive moves are occurring around Japan's Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

Writing these articles makes it starkly clear how much utter craziness there is in the world. Would America be better off if it invaded and annexed Cuba? Would Britain be better off if it invaded and annexed Ireland? No one would even consider such insane moves. So then why on earth does China think it will be better off by invading and annexing Doklam Plateau? One doesn't have to be a full-fledged pacifist to see how insane this is, but that's what the Chinese are doing.

China has repeatedly hidden its intentions, and will continue to do so until it's prepared to launch its attack. China is following exactly the same path that the Nazis followed. Xi Jinping's "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics" is the same as Hitler's National Socialism. Like the Nazis, the Chinese believe that they're a Master Race that will conquer the world. They'd have to be crazy to believe that they could succeed at that, but the Chinese are crazy. And they'll do exactly what the Nazis did -- bring destruction and catastrophe to themselves and the entire world. New Delhi TV and The Print (India) and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and The Diplomat

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-May-18 World View -- China escalates militarization of South China Sea, preparing for war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-May-2018) Permanent Link
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19-May-18 World View -- Two protesters killed in southern Iran in latest violent clashes with police

Iranian police clash with marginalized Qashqai tribe in southern Iran

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iranian police clash with marginalized Qashqai tribe in southern Iran


A picture of Kazerun on Friday shared on social media shows upturned and burnt out cars and wounded activists following violent scenes (NCRI)
A picture of Kazerun on Friday shared on social media shows upturned and burnt out cars and wounded activists following violent scenes (NCRI)

The latest in a series of anti-government protests in cities across Iran resulted in up to six protesters killed, and dozens more injured or arrested, by Iranian regime security forces in the last two days in the city of Kazerun (Kazeroon, Kazeroun) in southern Iran.

The population of Kazerun is about 150,000. The people are from the Qashqai tribe, a minority group of about a million people in Iran that the government has failed to fully integrate into the mainstream of Iranian society. Although they are Shia Muslims, they have little use for organized religion and are not devout followers.

They're a nomadic tribe, traditionally practicing pastoralism with sheep and goats, using camels as transports. They endure long seasonal migrations of hundreds of miles between lowland winter and highland summer pastures.

This lifestyle is relative unique for Iran, and explains why they're not integrated into mainstream society. Since the 1800s, their fortunes have gone up and down depending on who was in power in Iran. During the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution civil war, they fought in support of the Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini and the revolutionary side to oust the Shah of Iran.

After the revolution, Khomeini and the ruling regime looked upon the Qashqai with favor. But because the Qashqai were so different from the other Persian people, they quickly clashed with the new regime, which was following a pathologically harsh version of Sharia law and imposing it on the entire country. The good feelings ended pretty quickly in 1980, when Qashqai leaders were arrested, but then escaped from prison and formed an anti-government insurgency. The regime captured the escaped Qashqai leaders and executed them.

Nonetheless, the Qashqai had been harshly suppressed under the Shah, and benefitted greatly from the Khomeini regime in the 1980s. In particular, the government did not interfere with their pastoral activities nor their migration routes by which they traveled with their sheep and goats.

The Qashqai have been increasingly marginalized since the 1980s, and they now harbor a great deal of anti-government sentiment. That sentiment spilled out onto the streets in the last few months.

Last year, a government official proposed a plan to split the county of Kazerun into two, and make other administrative changes. Although some Qashqai supported the plan, most bitterly opposed it, particularly the undeveloped and poor districts which viewed the plan as further discrimination. Radio Farda and JCPA and Cultural Survival and Against The Compass

Iranian police kill two as new protests erupt in Iran


An Iranian Qashqai nomad carries a live goat from his herd
An Iranian Qashqai nomad carries a live goat from his herd

The people of Kazerun have been peacefully protesting for weeks against the administrative plan to split the county. The government made some concessions, but apparently their sincerity was in doubt.

On April 20, the protesters occupied the site for the city's Friday prayers. There were a number of extremely angry chants, including “Our enemy is right here; liars say it is America,” but there were other, more shocking slogans too, including “Be afraid when we get guns” and “We will kill the traitors.”

These chants revived memories of massive protests in cities across the country starting in late December of last year. At that time, there were chants like, "Seyed Ali [Khamenei] shame on you let go of our country," "Death to the Dictator," "Death to Rouhani," "Leave Syria, think about us," and "Forget about Gaza and Lebanon; I’ll sacrifice my life for Iran."

Iran is in a generational Awakening era, following the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution civil war. The psychopathic hardliners view any sort of peaceful protest as a revival of the civil war, and so even peaceful protests have to be crushed brutally. So the Iranian regime brutally crushed the protests in January, killing some protesters and arresting several thousand.

The peaceful Kazerun protests of the last few weeks are being interpreted the same way, as an existential threat to the Khamenei regime, and so they have to be crushed brutally as well.

On Thursday, the protesters gathered in the city's main square. Iranian security forces fired teargas at the protesters, who set the police station on fire. The security forces responded with live gunfire, killing as many as five protesters, while dozens more were injured and arrested.

There's an irony about this situation in that it's occurring at the same time as Iran's government is criticizing the Israelis for the deaths of people from Hamas trying to break through the border fence from Gaza into Israel. Iran's government is criticizing the Israelis, but ignoring their own actions in Kazerun. The protesters themselves have noticed this hypocrisy in some of their chants: “The Government Supports Gazans, But Betrays Kazerun," and “Our Enemy is Here, not in the US." Iran Wire and Deutsche Welle and CNN (14-Jan-2018) and JCPA

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-May-18 World View -- Two protesters killed in southern Iran in latest violent clashes with police thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-May-2018) Permanent Link
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18-May-18 World View -- New Ebola outbreak in major DR Congo city is called potentially 'explosive'

Applying lessons learned, WHO and MSF move quickly to contain Ebola outbreak

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

New Ebola outbreak in major DR Congo city is called potentially 'explosive'


Hospital in Mbandaka, DRC, where Ebola patients will be treated (WHO)
Hospital in Mbandaka, DRC, where Ebola patients will be treated (WHO)

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was only marginally affected by the massive Ebola epidemic that struck western Africa (Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea) in 2014-2016. DRC itself has had its own Ebola outbreaks 9 times since 1976, but all of them have occurred in rural villages, where they were easily contained.

What's different now is that a new Ebola outbreak has spread to a large, densely packed port city, with the possibility of rapid transmission within the city, as well as transmission along the Congo River to other countries.

As far as is currently known, the latest outbreak began in a small inland village called Ikoko Impenge, accessible only by motorbike. However, the outbreak only became known on May 8, when the DRC notified the World Health Organization (WHO) that there were two confirmed cases identified in another inland village, Bikoro. By Thursday, 23 deaths had occurred from Ebola cases in isolated rural villages, giving authorities a better chance of ring-fencing the outbreak before it could spread.

On Thursday, the World Health Organization announced that the Ebola outbreak had reached a "new phase," as new Ebola cases were identified in Mbandaka, a large heavily populated urban city of about 1.2 million people. It's believed that the disease was brought to Mbandaka by two or three people who had attended the funeral of an Ebola victim in Bikoro.

The spread of the outbreak to Mbandaka is "explosive," according to senior WHO official Peter Salama:

"This is a major development in the outbreak. We have urban Ebola, which is a very different animal from rural Ebola. The potential for an explosive increase in cases is now there.

This puts a whole different lens on this outbreak and gives us increased urgency to move very quickly into Mbandaka to stop this new first sign of transmission."

There are two reasons why the outbreak in Mbandaka could be explosive:

The World Health Organization on Friday is convening an emergency meeting to “consider the international risks” of the Ebola outbreak, and to decide whether to officially declare an international emergency. STAT News and BBC and Al Jazeera and World Health Organization and United Nations

Applying lessons learned, WHO and MSF move quickly to contain Ebola outbreak

The World Health Organization (WHO) was heavily criticized for moving too slowly to contain the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia from 2014 to 2016, and so is now moving quickly to try to contain the new outbreak in DRC.

The Emergency Committee meeting that WHO is convening on Friday will decide whether to declare a "public health emergency of international concern," which would mean getting access to more resources. So this step may be taken even though the outbreak is still confined to DRC.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) has sent multiple teams to hospitals in Mbandaka and Bikoro. MSF is sending tons of supplies to Mbandaka, including medical kits; protection and disinfection kits containing isolation items such as protective clothing, gloves, and boots; logistical and hygiene kits containing items such as plastic sheets, chlorine spray kits, and water treatment kits; and palliative drugs to treat Ebola symptoms, such as strong painkillers, anti-anxiety drugs, and antibiotics.

A new experimental Ebola vaccine has been developed since the 2014-2016 outbreak, and MSF has 4,000 doses available to use to control the outbreak in Mbandaka. A vaccine cannot help someone who is already sick, but it will be used in conjunction with the methodology of "contact tracing." Once a potential victim is identified, then contact tracing means that potential contacts ae located, and their contacts are located, and so forth, and all of those people could be given the new vaccine.

However, it's not clear that any of these methods will prevent an explosive spread of Ebola. In 2014, Ebola spread rapidly in Liberia's capital city Monrovia, particularly in the West Point slum area, with more than 70,000 people crowded together on a peninsula, with no running water, sanitation or garbage collection. If there is a similar slum area in Mbandaka, Kinshasa, or Brazzaville, then the spread could be equally massive. TRT World and Doctors Without Borders and AP and World Health Organization

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-May-18 World View -- New Ebola outbreak in major DR Congo city is called potentially 'explosive' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-May-2018) Permanent Link
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17-May-18 World View -- China says that its military exercises are intended to threaten Taiwan

Taiwan, in cooperation with the U.S., strengthens defenses against China

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China says that its military exercises are intended to threaten Taiwan


Taiwan's frogmen Marines perform close combat drills just a few kilometers from mainland China on the outlying island of Kinmen, Taiwan (AP)
Taiwan's frogmen Marines perform close combat drills just a few kilometers from mainland China on the outlying island of Kinmen, Taiwan (AP)

Last week, China conducted an "innovative joint operation" where Chinese warplanes flew in opposite directions around Taiwan. New Su-35 fighter jets flew with H-6K strategic bombers south of Taiwan, and J-11 fights flew with KJ-200 early warning aircraft north of Taiwan. These operations involved two theatre commands for exercises that involved early warning systems, detection and assaults.

China's government said Wednesday that the country’s military exercises around Taiwan are intended as a direct threat to Taiwan, following any moves toward independence. According to the Chinese government spokesman:

"It is a strong warning to Taiwan independence separatist forces and their activities. It demonstrates our determination and capabilities to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

[China has the] firm will, full confidence and sufficient capabilities to block moves toward Taiwan’s formal independence."

China has conducted frequent missions by air force fighters, bombers and surveillance planes to circle Taiwan. Also, China has repeated sailed its sole operating aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait.

China is using a "carrot and stick" to deal with Taiwan. The "carrot" is that China is introducing 31 "preferential policies" for Taiwan, in the fields of legal rights, education, culture and tourism, with the objective of charming the Taiwanese people by improving their lives. China is making it easy for Taiwanese businesses to borrow money and invest in high-tech enterprises on the mainland. China has provided internships and jobs for nearly 9,000 Taiwanese youth as of the end of 2017.

Perhaps most important, Taiwanese entrepreneurs and businessmen who are complaining about low pay and Taiwan are being offered higher wages and bigger markets on mainland China, resulting in a "brain drain" in Taiwan.

The "stick" is a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. Military experts say the balance of power between Taiwan and mainland China has now shifted decisively in the mainland's favor, and they would overwhelm Taiwan unless US forces quickly came to Taiwan's rescue. The United States is bound by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, but it is unclear whether the US would take military action to defend Taiwan, and have an all-out war with China. South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and AP and South China Morning Post and Xinhua and Reuters (21-Apr) and Reuters (24-Apr)

Taiwan, in cooperation with the U.S., strengthens defenses against China

Last week for the first time, the annual Taiwan-U.S. Defense Business Forum was hosted in Taiwan, in order to "bring together US and Taiwan companies to discuss granular challenges of bilateral cooperation in the defense industry supply chain." The objective is to allow business executives and government officials from both countries to discuss defense cooperation in the shipbuilding, cybersecurity, and aerospace industries.

China, as usual, reacted with fury. Zhu Songling, a professor at the institute of Taiwan studies in Beijing Union University, that the event was dangerous, and could lead to war:

"The deepening US defense cooperation with Taiwan is an act of gross interference in China's domestic affairs. It's a very serious matter for the Chinese mainland. Further moves that promote concrete military exchanges will invoke a strong response from the mainland, even prompt the Chinese mainland to use non-peaceful means to resolve the Taiwan question."

A particular worry for the Taiwanese are China's J-20 stealth fighter jets. These are not detectable using ordinary radar, and if J-20s were among the warplanes circling Taiwan last week, Taiwan's military was not aware of it.

Taiwan is developing, for operational testing this year, and with mass production and deployment expected by 2020, the P01-180514-pic1BA mobile passive radar system developed by the island’s Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology. This system would be able to detect, track and lock on to targets at long range.

Finally, Taiwan scheduled its own military drills late in April. These drills simulate repelling an invading force, emergency repairs of a major airbase and using civilian-operated drones as part of military exercises. The descriptions of these drills do not mention China, but instead refer to "offensive forces invading Taiwan." The Diplomat and Global Times (Beijing, 8-May) and Asia Times

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-May-18 World View -- China says that its military exercises are intended to threaten Taiwan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-May-2018) Permanent Link
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16-May-18 World View -- Taliban launches major military operation in Farah province in Afghanistan

Afghan government continues to lose control to the Taliban

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Taliban launches major military operation in Farah province in Afghanistan


 Afghan security forces respond to the Taliban attacks on Tuesday (Reuters)
Afghan security forces respond to the Taliban attacks on Tuesday (Reuters)

It's just the beginning of the Taliban's Spring Fighting Season, and Afghanistan government forces have apparently been caught completely by surprise by an overwhelming Taliban attack on Farah City, the provincial capital of Farah province. Farah province is in western Afghanistan, on the border with Iran.

Hundreds of Taliban attackers overran several security checkpoints in coordinated attacks starting at 2 am on Tuesday. Heavily armed Taliban fighters, using captured Afghan military HUMVEEs and police pickup trucks, launched the coordinated assault on Farah City overnight from multiple directions. Afghan security forces have responded, but had to be backed up by American and Nato warplanes, including A-10 Warthogs.

A government official claimed that no government building or organization had fallen to the Taliban, but residents are claiming that the city is close to total collapse, and government officials have a history of reporting fake news in these situations. Videos released on social media show that a number of security forces vehicles have been torched, and that the Taliban have entered a building used by the security forces. The clashes are ongoing. Tolo News (Afghanistan) and Long War Journal and Business Insider

Afghan officials blame Iran and Pakistan

Afghan officials have long complained that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), aid the Taliban insurgents in western Afghanistan in an effort to torpedo construction projects and undermine stabilization efforts by the US-led coalition in the region. Unlike in the past, IRGC-affiliated media outlets now openly express support for the Taliban’s latest territorial gains in western Afghanistan. Commentary in the IRGC outlets also indicate that Iran’s support to the Taliban is aimed at expelling U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan, particularly from western Afghan provinces.

Farah is the fourth largest province in Afghanistan, with a population of 925,000 in 11 districts. According to the US Naval University in 2009, 50 percent of the Farah population is composed of Pashtun tribes, 45 percent of Tajik and the rest of the population, including the Diaspora, Hazaras and Baluchs. Middle East Institute and Tasnim News (Iran) (Translation)

Afghan government continues to lose control to the Taliban

Taliban began its Spring Fighting Season in late April, and according to Afghan officials, the Taliban have carried out over 2,700 attacks across the country in the first 19 days of the Spring Fighting Season. In the last week Afghan security forces suffered heavy losses in clashes against insurgents across the country, so on Sunday the Afghan interior ministry said that security forces have retreated from some areas that have high threat levels so as to avoid additional fatalities.

On the other hand, General Joseph Votel, the commander of U.S. Central Command, said a few days ago:

"The message I would send to the Taliban is that they cannot win militarily. The international coalition, led by the United States, is focused on providing the military pressure, in conjunction with social pressure and diplomatic pressure that will force them to come to the table."

This is the latest delusional statement from the US military. It's certainly true that as an anti-government insurgency they cannot win militarily, but it's equally true that there is no chance whatsoever to "force them to come to the table."

I've been saying this repeatedly for many years, and the reasons are just as true today as ever.

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

But you don't have to know anything about generational history to understand what's going on. You just have to understand that there was an extremely bloody, violent civil war in 1991-96, pitting the Pashtuns versus the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan. And you have to know that the Taliban are Pashtuns, and that young Pashtuns are looking for revenge for atrocities committed in the 1990s, and that Nato troops are completely irrelevant.

So the funny thing is that even if Votel's claim that military force targeting a group of Taliban leaders could "force them to come to the table," the children of those Taliban leaders will have none of it. It's possible that most of the Taliban fighting in Farah province today were just children in school just a few years ago.

However, as I've written in the past, there's a dynamic going on, where Votel and the American military makes statements that the public wants to hear, even though they don't contain a word of truth. Votel understands that this war cannot be won, but there's a larger purpose. As war with China and Pakistan approaches, president Trump wants to keep American troops active in Afghanistan, and to continue to maintain several American military bases in Afghanistan, including two air bases in Bagram and Kandahar International Airport. These bases will be valuable in any future war with China. Under these circumstances, having troops in Afghanistan is what matters, whether the Taliban are defeated or not. RFE/RL and Tolo News (Afghanistan) and RFE/RL

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-May-18 World View -- Taliban launches major military operation in Farah province in Afghanistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-May-2018) Permanent Link
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15-May-18 World View -- Gaza violence surges in Palestinian 'Great March for Return' into Israel

Opening of US embassy in Jerusalem stirs strong reactions

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Gaza violence surges in Palestinian 'Great March for Return' into Israel


A child is carried by Palestinians away from the front lines after he was shot.  The smoke is created by burning tires that the Palestinians use to hide from the Israel troops (Ma'an News)
A child is carried by Palestinians away from the front lines after he was shot. The smoke is created by burning tires that the Palestinians use to hide from the Israel troops (Ma'an News)

Dozens of residents of Gaza were killed, and over 2000 injured, in a clash with Israeli troops in what Palestinians are calling "The Great March for Return," resulting in the greatest surge of violence in Gaza since the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas.

Israel said some 40,000 Palestinians had taken part in "violent riots" at 13 locations along the Gaza Strip security fence. Monday's march is the culmination of six weeks of similar marches that began late in March. The pattern is always the same. Thousands of Gazans march to the border with Israel, threatening to break through the fence into Israel. Israel's army tries to stop them, first using tear gas, then rubber bullets, and eventually using live fire, resulting in casualties.

Hamas, the government authority of Gaza, has been calling these demonstrations the "Great March for Return," meaning that it's accompanied by demands for "Right of Return," the demand that Palestinians be permitted to return to the land that they lost in the Arab-Jewish war in 1948. For that reason, the attempt by thousands of Gazans to breach the fence and cross over into Israel is considered an existential threat to Israel by the Israelis.

According to reports by both media and Israeli officials, Hamas directed women and children to sit near the border fence, and then the men used the women and children as shields while throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails over the fence at soldiers. I cannot think of any explanation for this except Palestinian politics -- to incite as many killings of women and children as possible, in order to international condemnation of Israel. Times of Israel and Ma'an News (Palestine) and BBC

Opening of US embassy in Jerusalem stirs strong reactions

On Monday, the US embassy in Israel officially moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. US Ambassador David Friedman and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin unveiled a plaque officially denoting the building as the US embassy. The building is already in use as an American visa-and-passport facility, and the new embassy will occupy a portion of the building with a small staff. David Friedman will be traveling back and forth between the new Jerusalem embassy, and his main offices in Tel Aviv.

So very little of substance occurred on Monday with the move of the US embassy in Jerusalem. But the reactions to the move indicate that it has a very high symbolic significance. It was the occasion of gleeful, euphoric bragging by Israeli officials at the dedication ceremony, as contrasted to angry, somber, furious expressions by Palestinian leaders.

While most international comments were restrained, some strongly condemned Israel for either the embassy move or the Gaza violence or both.

Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, condemned the "shocking killing of dozens, injury of hundreds by Israeli live fire."

Turkey called the Gaza violence a "vile massacre," and recalled its ambassadors from both US and Israel. South Africa also recalled its ambassador to Israel, condemning "the indiscriminate and grave manner of the latest Israeli attack."

Numerous countries, including France, Germany and Saudi Arabia, referred to the embassy move to Jerusalem as "dangerous,", "catastrophic," "irresponsible," and "against international law."

I hear journalists, politicians and analysts say all the time that "Nobody wants a war." That isn't true. Lots of people want wars. As I described in an article last year, the public becomes heavily invested in starting a war, and extremely euphoric when the war actually begins, as most of the public are under the delusion that they'll win quickly.

That euphoria lasts until there's a major setback. According to General Carl von Clausewitz, the effects on the people and the government "is a sudden collapse of the wildest expectations, and total destruction of self-confidence. The destruction of these feelings creates a vacuum, and that vacuum gets filled by a fear that grows corrosively, leading to total paralysis."

Gaza's population clearly has an overwhelming desire for another war with Israel. They presumably have been told by Hamas leaders that this time Hamas will win. I have heard Marwan Bishara, the lead analyst on al-Jazeera, imply that Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority are traitors to Palestinians because they sought peace rather than war with Israel.

The dreams of an easy victory over Israel are completely delusional. In a generational Crisis era, Israel will never surrender or compromise. If the war starts going badly for Israel, nuclear weapons will be used.

As I've written many times, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war refighting the 1948 war between Jews and Arabs that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. The war will also pit Sunnis versus Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other. Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, the "axis" of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the "allies," the US, India, Russia and Iran.

Monday was supposed to be the culmination of the "Great March for Return" marches. In view of all the violence, it's possible that the marches will now fizzle out for a while, or it's possible that they'll escalate into a regional conflict. Times of Israel and Al Jazeera and BBC and Washington Post

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-May-18 World View -- Gaza violence surges in Palestinian 'Great March for Return' into Israel thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-May-2018) Permanent Link
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14-May-18 World View -- ISIS linked family of six bombs three churches in Indonesia

Growth of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) in Indonesia

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

ISIS linked family of six bombs three churches in Indonesia


Firefighters try to extinguish a blaze following a blast at the Pentecost Church Central Surabaya in Indonesia on Sunday (Reuters)
Firefighters try to extinguish a blaze following a blast at the Pentecost Church Central Surabaya in Indonesia on Sunday (Reuters)

Terrorist atrocities took a new turn on Sunday when a family of six, including a mother, a father, two daughters and two sons, all performed coordinated simultaneous terror attacks on three churches in Surabaya, the second-largest city in Indonesia. At least 13 people were killed, and 40 injured.

The two sons, aged 16 and 18, rode motorcycles into Santa Maria Catholic Church and detonated the bombs they were carrying.

Five minutes later, the father drove a car containing explosives and rammed it into the gate and onto the grounds of the Surabaya Centre Pentecostal Church.

Five minutes after that, the mother and her two daughters, aged 9 and 12, all strapped explosives to their bodies and blew themselves up at Diponegoro Indonesian Christian Church.

ISIS (Islamic State in Syria) took credit for Sunday's attack. However, their press releases made no mention that the attackers were all from the same family, indicating that, as usual, ISIS is taking credit for a terror attack that it knows nothing about, except that it was conducted in the ISIS name.

Authorities are certain that the attackers were part of the Indonesian-based Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) militant group. JAD pledged allegiance to ISIS in 2015, and then conducted a series of explosions and shootings in Indonesia's capital city Jakarta, killing four civilians. It was the first attack in the country to be linked to ISIS.

The family of six that perpetrated Sunday's attacks had recently returned from a family trip to Syria. Like hundreds of other Indonesians, and like tens of thousands of people from over 80 countries around the world, they had gone to Syria to fight the Shia/Alawite president Bashar al-Assad, who was attacking peaceful Sunni anti-government protesters by sending missiles into school dormitories to kill children, or dropping barrel bombs laden with metal, chlorine, ammonia, phosphorous and chemical weapons on civilian neighborhoods, or using Sarin gas to kill large groups of people.

Sunday's attack is believed to be one that is part of a growing nightmare scenario, where the tens of thousands of young jihadis who had gone to Syria to fight al-Assad are now returning home, after ISIS lost almost all of the territory it formerly controlled in Syria and Iraq. As thousands of ISIS fighters return to their home countries, they will conduct terror attacks there in the name of ISIS. Reuters and Long War Journal and Daily Mail (London)

Saturday's Paris knife attacker had links to jihadists in Syria

A variation of the nightmare scenario described above was followed by Khamzat Azimov, 20. On Saturday evening, Azimov traveled to one of the most popular areas of Paris, near the celebrated opera house and theatres, and started attacking passersby with a knife. He shouted "Allahu Akbar," and killed on passerby and injured four others before being tasered and then shot dead by police.

Azimov was born in Chechnya, and obtained French nationality in 2010 when his mother was naturalized. Azimov had previously been flagged as a possible security risk, and had been interviewed by counter-terrorism police -- not because of his behavior, but because of his contacts. He was known to have links to young French people who had traveled to Syria to join ISIS.

So Azimov himself didn't go to Syria and return, as was the case with the Indonesian family. Instead, he allowed himself to be radicalized by people who had gone to Syria. Guardian (London)

Growth of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) in Indonesia

Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population, about 227 million Muslims out of a total population of 261 million people. About 10% of the population are Christian.

Sunday's attack was the worst terror attack since 2002, when al-Qaeda linked Jemaah Islamiyah killed more than 200 people, mostly tourists, through a string of bombings at popular nightclubs and hotels on Indonesia's island of Bali. Since then, Indonesian police have arrested or killed hundreds of people with links to Jemaah Islamiyah,

By 2014, a new generation of jihadists was coming of age in Indonesia, but were impatient with the older generation that had perpetrated the Bali bombing in 2002. When Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, declared his caliphate in 2014, many Indonesian jihadists immediately pledged allegiance to ISIS. There were some two dozen extremist groups competing to lead the ISIS cause in Indonesia.

Under the leadership of a radical cleric named Oman Rochman, also known as Aman Abdurrahman, Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) was formed as an umbrella organization for all these extremist groups.

Aman Abdurrahman, the leader of JAD, has been in jail for the last 12 years, and is currently on trial for inciting followers to commit acts of terrorism while behind bars at a detention center which has been described by analysts as a breeding ground for pro-ISIS militants. BBC and Al Jazeera and Long War Journal (18-Apr-2017)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-May-18 World View -- ISIS linked family of six bombs three churches in Indonesia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-May-2018) Permanent Link
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13-May-18 World View -- Likely outcome of Trump-Kim North Korea summit: Mutual recriminations and accusations

North Korea schedules dismantling of nuclear test site as TV ceremony

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

North Korea schedules dismantling of nuclear test site as TV ceremony


Ronald Reagan (L) and Mikhail Gorbachev (R) leave 1986 summit meeting after it collapses in mutual recriminations and accusations of bad faith and lying (ADST)
Ronald Reagan (L) and Mikhail Gorbachev (R) leave 1986 summit meeting after it collapses in mutual recriminations and accusations of bad faith and lying (ADST)

North Korea has announced that its Punggye-ri nuclear test site, located in Mount Mantap, will be dismantled during the period May 23-25, and that international journalists will be able to cover the dismantling "on the spot," and transmit their reports from a press center at the site.

This announcement comes just two days after scientists reported that an examination of satellite images shows that Mount Mantap itself has collapsed considerably more than has previously been estimated. Using these images, scientists found that Mount Mantap moved by around 11.5 feet (3.5 meters) and shrank by 1.6 feet (0.5 m). It can't be determined from the satellite images whether some tunnels have collapsed, or whether the entire mountain has collapsed.

Nonetheless, what is apparent from numerous reports starting with North Korea's last nuclear test, on September 3 of last year, is that Chinese scientists and geologists are telling North Korea not to use that test site again, because another test could risk a huge nuclear disaster that would release huge amounts of radiation and nuclear debris that would spread over large parts of northeastern China, as well as North Korea.

When North Korea made the initial dismantling announcement, they said that international journalists and nuclear experts would be permitted to watch the dismantling. The latest announcement omits mention of nuclear experts, and says that even the number of journalists will be limited, suggesting that there's another layer of North Korean subterfuge in process.

The bottom line is that the dismantling of the test site on May 23-25 is a completely empty gesture, since the site cannot be used again anyway. KCNA Watch and BBC and Live Science and Washington Post

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North Korea offers series of theatrical noncommittal gestures

Chinese media have been talking about a "dual track" process to achieve denuclearization. This means that the North Koreans make a concession and the US makes a concession, and so forth.

China and North Korea are already pressuring the US to ease the strict sanctions that have been imposed on North Korea, based on the supposed concessions already made. They are aware that once the sanctions have been lifted, it will be almost impossible to get international agreement to re-impose them, even if North Korea reverses any concessions that it's made. The near impossibility of re-imposing sanctions has been illustrated in the last week by the international criticism of the Trump administrations announced re-imposition of sanctions on Iran.

So the following points are worth noting with regard to the steps that have already been taken in this "dual track" process to achieve denuclearization:

Many of these things are being described by the mainstream media as concessions by the North Koreans, sometimes with the implication that Donald Trump should make some concessions in return at the meeting with Kim. However, Kim and the North Koreans have displayed a great deal of theatric showmanship, but have not made a single actual concession. Panmunjom Declaration and Japan Forward

The most likely Kim-Trump meeting outcome: Mutual accusations and recriminations

On October 11, 1986, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev held a summit meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland. The agenda was mutual reductions in missile arsenals, and expectations were very high. But then Gorbachev demanded limitations on Reagan's pet project, the mythical Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), which supposedly would use space technology to provide a "shield" from nuclear attacks. Reagan refused, and the meeting ended in mutual accusations and recriminations, each accusing the other of lying and bad faith. Talks did not resume again for more than a year.

It has been announced that Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un will have a summit meeting on June 12 in Singapore. Expectations for this meeting are enormously high. The people of South Korea, particularly, are praying that this will be end of their long 70-year nightmare that began with the Korean War, and that they'll be reunited with the families again.

However, Kim is going to demand that some sanctions be lifted immediately, and Trump is going to demand substantial, verifiable steps to dismantle North Korea's nuclear program. And while the main agenda item is "denuclearization," the two sides have completely different meanings for that term.

In my opinion, the most likely outcome of the June 12 meeting is a repeat of the outcome of the Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, in that the meeting will end (or not be held) amidst a flurry of mutual accusations and recriminations.

After that, there are many possible scenarios. It's possible that North Korea will continue nuclear weapons development, with or without testing, and it's possible that the Trump administration will go back to continuing military options.

As I've been writing for many months now, there's are hard bottom line positions on both sides, and they haven't changed. Kim is committed to producing an arsenal of nuclear tipped ballistic missiles aimed at the United States, and selling that technology to Iran and other rogue nations. Trump is committed to preventing that from happening. History.com and Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training and 38 North

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-May-18 World View -- Likely outcome of Trump-Kim North Korea summit: Mutual recriminations and accusations thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-May-2018) Permanent Link
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12-May-18 World View -- Climate change conference collapses as China backs down from emission commitments

Climate change activists struggle to replace US climate change money

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Climate change activists struggle to replace US climate change money


Brown coal open-pit mining Garzweiler in front of a power plant near the city of Grevenbroich in western Germany, on 3-Apr-2014. (AP)
Brown coal open-pit mining Garzweiler in front of a power plant near the city of Grevenbroich in western Germany, on 3-Apr-2014. (AP)

After two weeks, an international climate change conference in Bonn Germany, attended by delegates of over 200 countries, has ended in failure, without agreeing on the major issues of finance and transparency.

Climate change finance has been in trouble from the beginning. The 2015 climate change conference that produced the famous "Paris Climate Change Accord" dictated that the "rich countries" of the world would provide $100 billion per year to the "developing countries," starting in 2020. Even before the election of Donald Trump, it was highly unlikely that that requirement would be met.

However, since Trump has pulled the US out of the Paris agreement, other "rich countries" now have to find a way to fill the gap that was created.

As I've described many times in the past, the climate change has never actually accomplished anything -- that is, you have leaders of one country after another taking a holier-than-thou attitude toward the United States about the Paris accord, but their carbon emissions go down little if at all. In the case of Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel has had the most holier-than-thou attitude of all, carbon emissions haven't declined for nearly a decade, and have been increasing for the last three years.

I first wrote about this subject in 2007 in "UN Climate Change conference appears to be ending in farce". That conference was held at a Bali Beach Resort where 159 countries sent delegates to sip mai tais on the beach and attend an occasional meeting. The rich countries would have to contribute $100 billion to a fund for developing countries. The United Nations would control this money and administer the fund.

At that time, digging a little deeper, it turned out that Louis Redshaw, Head of Environment Markets, Barclays Capital, was leading an effort to issue synthetic securities to trade in carbon credits. It was predicted that the carbon-trading market would top $1 trillion within a decade. Readers might recall that 2007 was the year that the subprime mortgage financial crisis was starting.

In the last 11 years since that conference, nothing has changed. Climate change has accomplished nothing except as a financial scam. Climate Change News and Reuters and Washington Post and Heritage

China backs out of its climate change commitments with 'bifurcation'

The climate change conference in Bonn that ended on Thursday was supposed to resolve many issues, including two major ones: finance and transparence.

When Trump pulled the US out of the Paris climate accord, there were international cries that without the leadership of the United States, other countries must assume leadership. The European Union took on the role of becoming the leader of the "rich" or developed countries, while China would be the leader of the developing countries.

China has the 2nd largest economy in the world, and Chinese people brag that centrally-planned economy is stronger than any other economy in the world. China is implementing its "Belt and Road Initiative" in countries throughout Asia by lending them money to build infrastructure and sending Chinese workers to provide the labor. China is spending its enormous wealth by setting debt traps in all these countries with huge debts that they won't be able to repay.

China is also growing into the worst climate change violator in the world, building a new coal plant every week.

And yet, when it comes to climate change, they climb into their pathetic loser shells and claim to be a "developing country," so they won't have to provide funding under the Paris accord.

So China is failing in climate change finance. What we're seeing at the climate change conference in Bonn this last week is that they're also failing in climate change transparency.

China is demanding that it not be held to any climate change standards whatsoever. In return for all the money they're getting from the rich countries starting in 2020, the developing countries are supposed to start reducing emissions in 2020.

The issues are transparency and bookkeeping. Each country is required to open its accounting books to prove that it's meeting its emission reduction commitments.

But China is now demanding "bifurcation." This is a technical term meaning that the transparency and bookkeeping rules apply only to the rich countries, not to the developing countries.

This means that the "rich" developed countries have to pay all the money and also meet the transparency and bookkeeping rules to prove that they meeting their emission commitments.

But the developing countries just have to sit back and collect money, and claim that they're reducing emissions without having to provide any evidence.

China can go on building a new coal power plant every week, and just claim that it's magic coal that reduces emissions rather than increasing them.

You know, Dear Reader, this is so completely f--ked up that it's almost unbelievable. But that's the way the world is today. With idiots like these running the world, it's no wonder we're headed for a new World War. BBC and Climate Change News and Bloomberg and Climate Change News

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-May-18 World View -- Climate change conference collapses as China backs down from emission commitments thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-May-2018) Permanent Link
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11-May-18 World View -- Israel-Iran attacks in Syria take a pause, as Turkey tightens control over Afrin

Turkey tightens grip on Syria's Afrin, and continues to threaten Manbij

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey tightens grip on Syria's Afrin, and continues to threaten Manbij


Syrian police trainees in Turkey (Anadolu)
Syrian police trainees in Turkey (Anadolu)

Turkey is continuing to tighten its grip on the northern Syria city Afrin, on Turkey's border, following the successful completion of Operation Olive Branch.

Turkey's military Operation Olive Branch began on January 20 and took place over several months, with the objective of regaining control of Syria's border city of Afrin from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG). The YPG is linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is considered by the US and Europe as a terrorist organization, and has conducted numerous terrorist attacks within Turkey over a thirty year period.

The operation was executed by Arab militias in the Free Syrian Army (FSA), backed by Turkish armed forces. Turkey declared the operation successfully completed on March 18.

Since then, Turkey has been tightening its control on Afrin. On April 10, Turkey announced plans to open a new border crossing from Turkey to the Syrian city of Afrin with the objective of speeding up delivery of humanitarian aid to the city. However, at the same time, the new border crossing gives Turkey complete control over Afrin.

Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russia and Iran, is demanding that Turkey return control of Afrin back to the Syrian regime. However, Turkey is showing no signs of being willing to do so.

On Wednesday, Turkey announced that 600 Syrian police, aged 18 to 45, have received a month's training in Turkey, and are now trained and ready to be deployed back to Afrin to provide security as local police officers, "in an effort to return daily life to normal in the recently liberated city." They received training in intervention in social incidents, police regulations, general discipline, residential district, operation education, destroying improvised explosives and crime scene investigation.

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly promised on numerous occasions that once the operation in Afrin had been completed, the FSA forces would move east to perform a similar operation in the city of Manbij, and continue from there to the Euphrates River and beyond to Iraq.

That was always going to pose big problems, since the YPG in Manbij and further east were US allies that were the principal fighters that ejected the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) from Raqqa and other regions in eastern Syria. Thus, an FSA assault on the YPG in Manbij risked a military clash with US forces.

U.S. protection of the YPG in Manbij has now been formalized. On Wednesday, it emerged that U.S. forces had set up a new base in Manbij three months ago, shortly after Turkey launched its assault on Afrin. The new base will house both US and French troops, who will have the responsibility of patrolling the border to prevent clashes between the Turkish-backed forces and the YPG in Manbij. Daily Sabah (Ankara) and Reuters and Yeni Safak (Ankara) and Daily Express (London)

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Israel-Iran missile barrages in Syria take a pause on Thursday


Syrian anti-aircraft missiles in the sky over Damascus on Thursday morning in response to Israeli missile attacks (AP)
Syrian anti-aircraft missiles in the sky over Damascus on Thursday morning in response to Israeli missile attacks (AP)

The military battle between Iran and Israel that began on Wednesday evening and continued through the night has taken a pause, with many signs that the pause will be only temporary.

According to Israel's military, the battle was triggered when Iran's Quds Force, in Syria near the border with Israel, fired 20 missiles at Israeli military positions in the Golan Heights border area separating western Syria from northern Israel.

According to Israel, this was the first ever direct Iranian rocket attack on its troops.

This triggered the most intensive attack ever on Iranian positions and assets in Syria. Israel retaliated with what appeared to be surface-to-surface missiles, and multiple Syrian anti-aircraft batteries were launched to try to intercept them. Officials said that the response targeted almost all of Iran's military infrastructure inside Syria, including dozens of weapons storage sites and intelligence centers used by elite Iranian forces, as well as Syrian air defense systems. Israel struck more than 50 Iranian targets, in its most extensive operation in Syria since 1974.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said, "They need to remember the saying that if it rains on us, it'll storm on them. I hope we finished this chapter and everyone got the message."

Iran said that it had no desire to escalate the military conflict. Iran's president Hassan Rouhani said, "Iran has always sought to reduce tensions in the region, trying to strengthen security and stability."

Israel informed both Russia and the US of its plans ahead of the retaliatory strikes. Israeli officials say that Iran still has long-range capabilities in Syria with which to strike Israel, suggesting that the battle has not ended. Jerusalem Post and Independent (London) and CNN and Debka (Israel)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-May-18 World View -- Israel-Iran attacks in Syria take a pause, as Turkey tightens control over Afrin thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-May-2018) Permanent Link
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10-May-18 World View -- Killing of two priests escalates farmer-herder conflict in Benue State, Nigeria

Israel, Iran and Syria exchange fire in first direct military confrontation

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Killing of two priests escalates farmer-herder conflict in Benue State, Nigeria


Nigerian Police
Nigerian Police

A prototypical conflict between herders and farmers in central Nigeria has suddenly escalated in a sectarian manner with the killing of two Catholic priests, Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolaha, and other worshippers on April 24. The attack occurred in the town of Mbalom, just south of Makurdi, which is the capital city of Benue State in Nigeria.

I've written many times that many ethnic wars are based on fundamental clashes between farmer tribes and herder tribes. In country after country, there a classic and recurring battle between herders and farmers, I've described in Central African Republic, Nigeria, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, and even America in the 1800s. The farmers accuse the herders of letting the cattle eat their crops, while the herders accuse the farmers of planting on land that's meant for grazing. If the farmers put up fences, then the herders knock them down.

In Nigeria's Benue State, the herders are mostly Muslims from the Fulani tribe. Farmers are mostly Christians from a number of tribes, including the Tiv, Mambila and Bachama tribes. The continuing tit-for-tat violence between herders and farmers in Benue State has already killed thousands of people and left tens of thousands homeless,

So the April 24 murder of the priests and worshippers was immediately blamed by the public and the media on Muslim Fulani herders, but to this day there is no solid evidence that the gunmen were Fulanis. In fact, the assailants took money, valuables and communion wine, suggesting that the motive was robbery rather than gaining farmland. Vanguard (Nigeria, 24-Apr) and Anglican News

News of revenge attacks by farmers criticized as fake news

Three days later, a Nigeria newspaper the Daily Trust reported on revenge attacks by Christian farmers from the Tiv tribe on ethnic Hausas in the Benue State capital city Makurdi.

A Hausa community leader was quoted as wondering why Tiv farmers would target Hausa people, since they were not the herders who allegedly attacked the priests:

"Last Tuesday, we saw our people running helter-skelter in the city that they brought the corpses of Church priests that were killed at Dukwayango village and then suddenly Tiv youth started attacking our people. As I am talking to you they have killed over eight people, over 20 sustained injuries and several shops were razed while over eleven people were missing.

We are not farmers, we don’t rear animals. We are just traders. These things happened in villages and in the bushes. Why are Tiv youth killing our people?"

The chief Imam of a mosque in Makurdi told the BBC Hausa service that he personally saw the corpses of 27 victims at the teaching hospital in Makurdi. He said while many were injured, some were burnt.

However, some community groups are condemning as lies the claims that Tiv farmers attacked Hausa people in Benue, and say that the purpose of the lies is to promote sectarian violence:

"It is a tissue of lies and falsehood concocted to profile the Tiv youth in bad light.

We consider the said story as part of the well planned agenda by our traducers to change the narrative in the state. ... The same report went on to claim that more than 10 Muslims were killed and 11 others missing in the state as from the reprisals following the attack on St. Ignatius Quasi Parish in Mbalom. ...

It is completely fake news. The statement by the Police further said such was nothing but falsehood, believably meant to cause break down of law and order in the State."

All that's really certain is that ethnic violence in central Nigeria, which has been growing for several years, continues to grow. Daily Trust (Nigeria, 27-Apr) and Independent (Nigeria) and Guardian (Nigeria)

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Israel, Iran and Syria exchange fire in first direct military confrontation

As this is being written on Wednesday evening ET, there is news of missile and artillery exchanges in Syria and in and around the Golan Heights, as well as airstrikes by Israel's air force.

Israel has struck Iranian missile depots and other Iranian military targets in Syria several times in the last few weeks, promising to prevent Iran and Hezbollah from building up a force capable of attacking Syria.

For several weeks, Israel has been stepping up its military forces on the border with Lebanon, in anticipation of a retaliatory strike on Israel by Iran. That Iranian attack has apparently happened, and there have been several hours of artillery exchanges over the Golan Heights that are continuing at this writing.

The Israeli attacks on Syria have been more intense than they were in the past. There are reports that the city of Damascus is without power. At least 20 heavy rockets have been fired from Syria at Israeli forces, but there are no reports yet of Israeli damage or casualties. Reuters and Washington Post and AFP and BBC

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-May-18 World View -- Killing of two priests escalates farmer-herder conflict in Benue State, Nigeria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-May-2018) Permanent Link
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9-May-18 News -- European politicians have a lot to learn from North and South Korean leaders, by Loretta Napoleoni

Brexit and other European fiascos in diplomacy

by Loretta Napoleoni

European politicians have a lot to learn from North and South Korean leaders, by Loretta Napoleoni


South Koreans watching tv admire Kim Jong-un's highly fashionable haircut
South Koreans watching tv admire Kim Jong-un's highly fashionable haircut

It is true that the barycenter of the world is moving to the east, not only economically but above all politically. Our politicians would do well to pay attention to how high-level politics is done in the east, since they would learn something. The most recent masterful lesson of international diplomacy comes from the sadly famous demilitarized zone (DMZ), the scar of the cold war that runs along the 38th parallel and which divides the Korean peninsula in two.

The dictator Kim Jong-un, considered crazy and bloody until four months ago, took part in a historic summit in South Korea, still 'enemy' territory, and where neither his father nor his grandfather ever set foot. He did it with all the honors reserved for a great head of state. The South Korean president Moon Jae-in, who has spent the last twenty years to get this meeting, is the country's spokesman. Meanwhile, Kim has used every political strategy, including the diplomacy of the Olympics, to get closer to the common goal: the peace agreement between the two nations.

The peace between these two countries -- which for three thousand years have been a unique geographical and linguistic expression, a single culture, a sovereign nation with the same people -- will open the doors to economic and commercial cooperation. The model will be that of the old European Common Market: exploiting the economic interdependencies and the resources of both to modernize the North and produce well-being throughout the peninsula. The union has the potential to give life to an economy much stronger than Japan's.

North and South, therefore, have common interests that they can pursue jointly. The obstacles are many. First of all, even if both have signed a peace armistice, the two countries are still at war. The People's Republic of North Korea is a buffer state for China, while South Korea is a very important US military base in the Pacific. In short, to get to shake hands on the 38th parallel and plant the tree of peace the two Korean leaders have had to convince Washington and Beijing to let them do it.

Brexit and other European fiascos in diplomacy

If we compare this lesson of international diplomacy with European post-electoral fiascos -- the last nation to prove incapable of forming a government on the basis of electoral results is Italy -- and animosities within the European Union, for example, Brexit, we realize why the axis of the world is moving to the east. To complete the sad picture of the decadence of politics in Europe, there are relations of subjugation with Washington. What about Macron crossing the ocean to present to Trump the European iron will to go ahead with the agreement with Iran and then change his mind twenty four hours after landing? Remarkable is the difference with President Moon (whose wife does not dress Chanel like the first French and American ladies), Moon is a politician of substance, who has clear ideas about the future of his nation, is not a populist.

Of course there is always Angela Merkel who clearly told Trump -- who continued to bomb the world with twitter triumphalists on the Korean summit presented as a creation -- not to trust Kim Jong-un. Yes, Merkel is a clever politician, but she has to play in a team of wives and has no interlocutor to work with seriously.

Here are some forecasts: Trump and Kim will meet, possibly in June. The peace agreement between the two leaders will be endorsed by the White House, at which point they will begin to work at the ceremony for the signing of the treaty, which will take place before November 2018, namely the mid-term US elections.

Trump will be credited with all the glory but will Kim and Moon let him do that? The North Korean dictator seems less inclined than the South Korean president to stroke Trump's ego. But he should be very careful, as the US president may walk away from the summit and Kim and Moon would end up with no deal. But if things go according to plans, Kim will reiterate the commitment to freeze nuclear warheads and details of denuclearization will be postponed to another summit, which will take place in 2019. Meanwhile, North and South Korea will quietly start to cooperate economically, despite international sanctions. Southern investors will therefore have priority access to the process of modernizing the north.

In Europe the bickering on Brexit will not disappear. The tensions between the right-wing populism of Eastern Europe and Brussels will increase, risking the implosion of the whole structure. Italy will most likely revive, but the results will not be better. In short, the scenarios are not at all positive. The last detail: Kim's haircut will continue to be more and more fashionable, while Merkel's will be considered passé.

Loretta Napoleoni is an Italian economist and analyst, and author of the 2018 book, North Korea: The Country We Love To Hate

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-May-18 News -- European politicians have a lot to learn from North and South Korean leaders, by Loretta Napoleoni thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-May-2018) Permanent Link
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9-May-18 World View -- Brexit negotiations in crisis as deadlines approach with no agreements

Theresa May's two delusional proposals - Customs Partnership and Maximum Facilitation

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Brexit negotiations in crisis as deadlines approach with no agreements
  • Theresa May's two delusional proposals - Customs Partnership and Maximum Facilitation

Brexit negotiations in crisis as deadlines approach with no agreements


Boris Johnson and Theresa May (PA)
Boris Johnson and Theresa May (PA)

Britain's foreign secretary Boris Johnson on Monday declared that the proposal by prime minister Theresa May to resolve Brexit issues was "crazy."

This has caused quite a sensation, because a high level cabinet minister is not supposed to openly criticize a major policy of the prime minister unless he wants to be fired.

The policy in question, called a "Customs Partnership," is indeed delusional, but in today's highly polarized world, where a man can lose his career for saying the wrong thing about whether he supports Trump, then you have to be willing to support even delusional policies if you want to keep your job.

In this case, however, May's spokesman said that the prime minister had "full confidence" in Johnson, and told officials "to do more work" on the proposal.

I've written about Brexit issues many times since the Brexit referendum passed almost two years ago, on June 23 2016, and the intractable, insoluble problem is always the same: Keeping a "frictionless border" between Northern Ireland and (Southern) Republic of Ireland, despite the fact that Northern Ireland will be part of the UK, and Ireland will be part of the EU.

Everyone says that there must be a frictionless border, so that people, trucks and goods can continue to flow freely back and forth between the two. The current open border was the result of the Good Friday agreement of 1999 that ended years of "The Troubles," bloody fighting between the indigenous ethnic Irish Gaelics (the Catholic Republicans) and the descendants of the English and Scottish invaders (the Protestant Unionists).

Today there are a lot of people who genuinely fear that fighting will resume in full force. This is not a trivial concern, in that there's still a great deal of hatred between some Gaelics and some English, and there are still walls separating neighborhoods in the province of Ulster, which spans both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and where there are still occasional flashes of violence. (See "23-Jun-11 News -- Sectarian violence in Northern Ireland grows again") (Paragraph corrected, 9-May)

Officially, Britain is scheduled to leave the EU in March 2019. There are huge unsolved problems having to do with trade, migration, citizens' rights, and Ireland for which solutions are nowhere in sight. Ireland and the EU are demanding a proposal on the Ireland "frictionless border" by June, and it will not be met.

Other deadlines are approaching as well. Concerns are widespread that the Brexit process is collapsing into a huge, unmanageable mess.

And why wasn't Boris Johnson fired? For that matter, why hasn't Theresa May lost her job as well. The answer, according to many analysts I hear, is that nobody else wants these jobs, under the current circumstances. BBC and Reuters and Express (London) and RTE (Ireland)

Theresa May's two delusional proposals - Customs Partnership and Maximum Facilitation

Any Brexit proposal by Britain also has to be approved by the EU27, the 27 nations of the EU excluding the UK. Theresa May has two proposals both of which are delusional for many reasons, not the least of which is that there is no chance that the EU27 will approve either of them. But the British politicians and the British press keep talking about them without even considering whether the EU will approve them.

One proposal is called the "Customs Partnership." Businesses shipping goods from foreign countries into Britain will be charged tariffs according to EU rules. The goods will then be tracked, and if they stay in Britain, then the businesses can claim a rebate of any overpayment. If not, then Britain forwards the tariff to the EU.

This leaves the Irish border frictionless, since goods can flow across the border freely, since the tariff has already been paid.

This is the plan that Boris Johnson is calling "crazy," because Britain would still be bound by EU rules that the whole Brexit plan was supposed to free them of:

"It’s totally untried and would make it very, very difficult to do free trade deals.

If you have the new customs partnership, you have a crazy system whereby you end up collecting the tariffs on behalf of the EU at the UK frontier.

If the EU decides to impose punitive tariffs on something the UK wants to bring in cheaply there’s nothing you can do.

That’s not taking back control of your trade policy, it’s not taking back control of your laws, it’s not taking back control of your borders and it’s actually not taking back control of your money either, because tariffs would get paid centrally back to Brussels."

He said that the plan would create "a whole new web of bureaucracy," and would not meet the key test of Britain "taking back control" from Brussels. In other words, the Customs Partnership would defeat the whole purpose of Brexit.

Theresa May's second proposal is called "Maximum Facilitation."

Shipping firms would operate as "trusted traders" so they can move goods freely as EU tariff is only paid when goods arrive in destination country. Goods would be electronically tracked and pre-cleared with tax authorities. There would be a frictionless border in Ireland, because goods would move freely back and forth, and would be tracked by means of some yet to be developed technology.

The EU has dismissed this proposal as "magical thinking," because it assumes that "trusted traders" can be trusted, and because the required technology is not possible in the foreseeable future. Daily Mail (London) and The Week (UK) and Guardian (London)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-May-18 World View -- Brexit negotiations in crisis as deadlines approach with no agreements thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-May-2018) Permanent Link
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8-May-18 World View -- Cambodia's dictatorial Hun Sen forces sale of independent Phnom Penh Post

Phnom Penh Post had a combative relationship with Hun Sen

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Cambodia's dictatorial Hun Sen forces sale of independent Phnom Penh Post
  • Phnom Penh Post had a combative relationship with Hun Sen

Cambodia's dictatorial Hun Sen forces sale of independent Phnom Penh Post


Phnom Penh Post on November 13, 2017 (Reuters)
Phnom Penh Post on November 13, 2017 (Reuters)

Cambodia's last independent newspaper, the Phnom Penh Post, is in crisis after the editor-in-chief was fired for refusing to take down an article critical of the new owner, and several senior reporters subsequently resigned after being ordered to take down the same article.

Hun Sen, Cambodia's leader for 33 years, has become increasingly dictatorial since the opposition political party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) almost won the 2013 election, and has become increasingly popular since then. With another election scheduled for July of this year, Hun Sen has solved the problem by arresting CNRP leaders and jailing them on phony charges, and even getting the Supreme Court to declare the CNRP to be an illegal political party. In addition, Hun Sen has been jailing protesters, and shutting down media sources not controlled by the government.

The weekend sale of the Phnom Penh Post is the latest example of Hun Sen's dictatorial takeover. The Cambodian government forced the previous owner to sell by imposing an enormous $3.9 million tax bill on the paper. The only other independent newspaper in the country, the Cambodian Daily, was forced to shut down last year after receiving a $6.3 million tax bill.

An announcement on Saturday said that the Phnom Penh Post had been sold to a Malaysian investor, Sivakumar Ganapathy, executive director of the Malaysia firm Asia PR.

Sivakumar's first act as owner was to issue a statement saying that the newspaper would remain independent.

But then Sivakumar's next act as owner was to demand that the editor-in-chief take down an article posted on Sunday detailing the sale and Sivakumar's background, and then fire him for refusing.

Then Sivakumar fired the editor-in-chief, and when he demanded of the other senior editors to take the article down, there was a mass resignation.

As of Monday evening ET, the article still has not been taken down, and I was still able to access it. (Perhaps after all the senior reporters left, there was no one left with a password to the servers.)

The article described numerous examples of Sivakumar's close relationships with Hun Sen and the Cambodian government, suggesting that Sivakumar might be controlled by Hun Sen. AFP and Phnom Penh Post (6-May) and Australian Broadcasting and BBC

Phnom Penh Post had a combative relationship with Hun Sen

As an example of other articles that might have triggered Hun Sen's decision to make sure that the Phnom Penh Post would become government-controlled, an article last week described Hun Sen's "catch and release policy." The way it works is that opposition figures are arrested on phony charges, kept in jail for as many months or years as necessary, and then released just in time to achieve some objective.

For example, an opposition politician Bun Chhay was jailed on August 4 of last year, supposedly on some decade old drug charges, but just when it appeared he would pose a legitimate political challenge. Then on September 3 Sourn Serey Ratha, head of the tiny Khmer Power Party, was arrested over a Facebook post criticizing the government’s recent military stand-off with Laos.

This cleared away the only viable competitors to Hun Sen's reelection, but the arrests caused an international uproar, with threats by the US and the EU to withdraw aid. According to the Phnom Penh Post article, the "catch and release" strategy was completed last week:

"Last week, the EU publicly acknowledged that it would be taking the extraordinary step of sending a team to review its General Scheme of Preferences with Cambodia – raising questions about the future of tariff-free access to one Cambodia’s largest trading partners. The pressure was reaching a head.

Days later, Nhek Bun Chhay walked out of jail.

“While it would seem that the [Cambodian People’s Party] has the upcoming election neatly sewed up, perhaps Hun Sen views him as a figure who can help diversify the electoral field just enough to gain some international credibility, while remaining too marginal to pose any real threat to the CPP’s power,” Strangio said."

Whether the EU will be fooled by this remains to be seen.

However, placing new sanctions on Cambodia will likely not have much effect. Cambodia is becoming China's most important political ally in the region. Already, between 2011 and 2015 Chinese firms funneled nearly $5 billion in loans and investment to Cambodia, mostly for major infrastructure projects, while making no demands on how Hun Sen runs the country. Like Pakistan, Cambodia is expected to be an obedient ally of China, and to follow China's policy directives in return for money. Phnom Penh Post (2-May) and Reuters and Reporters Without Borders and Nikkei Asia Review and The Diplomat (15-Jan)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-May-18 World View -- Cambodia's dictatorial Hun Sen forces sale of independent Phnom Penh Post thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-May-2018) Permanent Link
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7-May-18 World View -- Pakistan's interior minister shot by member of loony anti-blasphemy Barelvi sect

Barelvi sect and Tehreek-e-Labaik political party surge in popularity

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Pakistan's interior minister shot by member of loony anti-blasphemy Barelvi sect
  • Barelvi sect and Tehreek-e-Labaik political party surge in popularity

Pakistan's interior minister shot by member of loony anti-blasphemy Barelvi sect


Ahsan Iqbal (AP)
Ahsan Iqbal (AP)

Pakistan’s interior minister Ahsan Iqbal was shot in the arm in an assassination attempt as he spoke at a public meeting on Sunday. The gunman was about to fire a second shot when he was overpowered by people around him. It's believed that Iqbal will survive.

The gunman was Abid Hussain, 21, affiliated with the ultra-religious Tehreek-e-Labaik party, which is the political party of the loony Barelvi sect that believes that anyone accused of blasphemy should be executed.

This was not the first physical attack on Iqbal this year. A man threw a shoe at him while he was addressing a workers convention in February. Iqbal wasn't hurt and refused to press charges, so the police never investigated the motive of the perpetrator, or whether he was also a member of Tehreek-e-Labaik. (One media source claims that shoe-throwing as a form of insult is practiced in many countries, and is mentioned in the Bible in Psalms 108:9.)

The usual questions are being asked about why security at Sunday's event was so lax that a gunman was able to get into the event. The reason being given is that the levels of terrorist violence in Pakistan have been decreasing in the last two years, and so less security is being used at events like this.

Federal elections will be held this summer, and the number of political rallies will be increasing substantially. Sunday's assassination attempt is raising concerns that there may be additional terrorist attacks at this rallies as the election approaches. Express Tribune (Pakistan) and Reuters and Pakistan Today (24-Feb) and Bible Study Tools

Barelvi sect and Tehreek-e-Labaik political party surge in popularity

In January 2011, Salman Taseer, the governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, was shot and killed in broad daylight on an Islamabad street by Malik Mumtaz Qadri, a member of the "Elite Force" of bodyguards that were supposed to protect him. Taseer was shot 27 times in the back. Qadri confessed to the killing, and blamed it on Taseer's opposition to Pakistan's blasphemy law, which forbids blaspheming Mohammed or Islam. When Qadri arrived in court a few days later, Islamist lawyers showed him with roses.

Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the head of the Barelvi sect, was unknown in Pakistan until he became Qadri's principal defender after the Taseer assassination. Rizvi also became the principal defender of the blasphemy law that Taseer had wanted to change, and organized public support for the law.

The text of the blasphemy law, section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, is as follows:

"Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine."

This loony law has been massively abused in Pakistan. In Pakistan, if you want to kill your neighbor, make up some reason why he violated the blasphemy law, and then kill him, and you'll probably get away with it.

Rizvi's aggressive support for the blasphemy law has made his Barelvi sect increasingly popular, and he was able to exhibit his power forcefully in October of last year. The government made a minor textual change to a government oath, and a mob of people belonging to the ehreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah of Pakistan (TLYR or TLYRAP) political party, coming from the Barelvi sect, were able to paralyze multiple cities across Pakistan, with major roads blocked by a mobs of tens of thousands of Islamists in sit-ins, escalating into clashes with thousands of police.

After weeks of paralysis, the Barelvi TYRAP party scored an enormous victory by forcing the government to completely capitulate to their demands. These demands included resignations of top government officials who made the text change, or who might have known about it.

Barelvi TYRAP party has been gaining in popularity, and elections will be held this summer. Sunday's attempted assassination has raised concerns that Pakistan's loony blasphemy laws will be used to incite move violence, as well as to create a popular movement. The Nation (Pakistan, 18-Nov-2017) and Eurasia Review and The Nation (Pakistan, 18-Nov-2017)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-May-18 World View -- Pakistan's interior minister shot by member of loony anti-blasphemy Barelvi sect thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-May-2018) Permanent Link
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6-May-18 World View -- Muslim vs Catholic violence surges again in Central African Republic

Angry protesters bring corpses to MINUSCA headquarters in Bangui

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Muslim vs Catholic violence surges again in CAR capital city Bangui
  • Angry protesters bring corpses to MINUSCA headquarters in Bangui
  • The self-defense group 'The Force' gets revenge
  • Central African Republic crisis civil war continues

Muslim vs Catholic violence surges again in CAR capital city Bangui


Aftermath of violence clashes in Bangui, CAR, on May 1 (Defense Post)
Aftermath of violence clashes in Bangui, CAR, on May 1 (Defense Post)

Sectarian Muslim versus Christian violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) has continued with armed groups and marauding gangs, both Muslim and Christian, almost nonstop across the country, since the violence began in 2013. The capital city Bangui has been relatively spared from violence in the last year, but this has changed in the last month, with sectarian attacks killing dozens of people, including attacks on a Catholic Church and a mosque.

The violence mostly took place in the PK5 district of Bangui. Bangui is a mostly Catholic city, but PK5 is a mostly Muslim enclave within Bangui. I wrote about PK5 in November 2015, when Pope Francis visited Bangui, and particularly paid a visit to the PK5 mosque.

The exact sequence of events isn't completely clear, but it appears that the violence began early in April when MINUSCA, the UN peacekeeper mission for CAR, joined local CAR security forces to launch a joint security operation in PK5 to dismantle militia bases that were hiding out in PK5.

MINUSCA is the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (CAR), launched in April 2014 as a peacekeeping mission. Unfortunately, there has been little peace for MINUSCA to keep. CAR is a huge country, and pretty much the entire country is in flames, so MINUSCA has mostly restricted itself to Bangui.

On April 10, the joint security operation turned into a bloody massacre, as the security forces battled several armed groups in PK5, known as the "self-defense forces," a name that reflects lack of respect in the Muslim community for either MINUSCA or CAR's current government. A total of 21 people were killed in a four-hour gun battle between the security forces and the self-defense forces, including a peacekeeper from Rwanda. 11 peacekeepers were wounded. AFP (9-Apr)

Angry protesters bring corpses to MINUSCA headquarters in Bangui

On April 11, hundreds of angry demonstrators from PK5 held a peaceful march in Bangui, and in a dramatic gesture, carried the corpses of 17 of the 21 who had been killed, and laid the corpses in front of the MINUSCA mission headquarters. According to one demonstrator:

"We, ourselves, no longer understand anything. Does their mission consist of shooting at civilians?"

MINUSCA denied that civilians had been targeted, and said that only criminal gangs had been targeted. A spokesman criticized the demonstrators:

"This is not an operation against communities and specifically the Muslim community. The Muslim community asked our troops to launch the operation and put an end to the criminal activities.

We regret the fact that the bodies were being manipulated, while they should be buried like every person who dies."

So-called Muslim "self-defense groups" have been springing up in PK5, claiming to protect the Muslim civilians.

The relationship between MINUSCA and the self-defense groups has become increasingly acrimonious. The self-defense groups claim that MINUSCA is trying to drive the Muslims out of Bangui entirely, while MINUSCA accuses them of extortion and violence against civilians. Reuters (11-Apr) and The Defense Post

The self-defense group 'The Force' gets revenge

One of the PK5 self-defense groups, "The Force," got revenge on May 1 when gunmen attacked a service at a Catholic Church in Bangui. Some 2000 people had gathered for the service, when armed men threw grenades and fired on the church. The attack lasted for hours, killing a priest and at least 15 people from the church, and injuring hundreds more.

After attacking the church, the perpetrators moved into neighboring districts, looting shops and homes and attacking civilians. An Evangelical church member was killed outside his home.

Various officials offered the usual rhetoric. The head of the Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Mervyn Thomas said:

"We extend our condolences to the parishioners of Our Lady Fatima Church, to the family of Albert Toungoumale Baba and to all those who have been bereaved.

The attack on a place of worship not only violates the right to freedom of religion or belief, but also threatens the social fabric of the community that religious leaders of all faiths have worked to maintain throughout the recent conflict."

Amnesty International issued the usual near-boilerplate statement:

"Central African authorities and MINUSCA must send an immediate and clear message to all armed groups and their allies in CAR: No attack against civilians will be tolerated and all those suspected of committing war crimes and other serious human rights violations and abuses will be brought to justice."

La Libre (Belgium) (Translation) and Premier (UK) and Amnesty International

Central African Republic crisis civil war continues

Despite Amnesty International's laughable rhetoric, "No attack against civilians will be tolerated," CAR is in a generational crisis civil war, and there's no end in sight.

The CAR sectarian war began in March 2013, when François Bozizé, the Christian former president of CAR, was ousted in a coup in March 2013 by Michel Djotodia, a Muslim, who became president and served until January 2014.

After Djotodia's coup took place in March 2013, Muslim Seleka militias began committing atrocities, particularly targeting the Christian constituencies of the deposed François Bozizé. In December 2013, French Foreign Legion peacekeeping troops arrived to disarm the Seleka militias.

The peacekeepers succeeded, but then the Christian anti-balaka militias "rushed into the vacuum," and began committing atrocities in 2014, for revenge against the Selekas. Since then, both Christians and Muslims have been committing atrocities, and it's become a full-scale generational crisis war. Thousands have been killed, and millions have been displaced.

Although the CAR war appears to be entirely sectarian, that isn't entirely true. The Muslims are mostly herders, while the Christians are mostly farmers, and this is the same kind of conflict between herders and farmers that I've described in Central African Republic, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, Nigeria, and even America in the 1800s. As population grows, the farmers accuse the herders of letting the cattle eat their crops, while the herders accuse the farmers of planting on land that's meant for grazing. If the farmers put up fences, then the herders knock them down. In CAR, there have been situations where Muslim and Christian farmers were united in fighting Muslim herders.

As I've explained in the past, CAR's last generational crisis war was the 1928-1931 Kongo-Wara Rebellion ("War of the Hoe Handle"), which was a very long time ago, putting CAR today deep into a generational Crisis era, where a new crisis war is increasingly likely. ( "2-Oct-15 World View -- Violence resurges in Central African Republic crisis war")

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-May-18 World View -- Muslim vs Catholic violence surges again in Central African Republic thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-May-2018) Permanent Link
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5-May-18 World View -- UAE troops and tanks deployed to Yemen's Socotra island in dispute with Saudi Arabia

Rift grows between Saudi Arabia and UAE in Yemen

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Residents of Yemen's Socotra island protest UAE military deployment
  • Rift grows between Saudi Arabia and UAE in Yemen

Residents of Yemen's Socotra island protest UAE military deployment


Landscape of Socotra Island, with hundreds of plant species found only there.  Pictured are 'dragon's blood trees' (Corbis/Daily Mail)
Landscape of Socotra Island, with hundreds of plant species found only there. Pictured are 'dragon's blood trees' (Corbis/Daily Mail)

Residents of Socotra Island are reacting angrily and protesting about the increasing presence of hundreds of troops, tanks, armored transports and heavy equipment that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is deploying on the island in a power struggle with Saudi Arabia.

Socotra Island belongs to Yemen, and is strategically located south of Yemen where it oversees shipping traffic traveling from the Arabian Sea, through the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea through the Suez Canal.

Socotra Island is similar to the Galapagos Islands, in that it's been isolated for millions of years, allowing for the development of hundreds of unique plant species found nowhere else on earth. Because of its unique plant life, it has recently been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Since 2015, Yemen has been the target of a proxy war Iran-backed ethnic Houthis versus an Arab military coalition led by Saudi Arabia. The war has become an example of the old African proverb: "When elephants fight, it's the grass that suffers," in that the proxy war has caused endless misery to the ordinary people of Yemen, resulting in massive homelessness, starvation and cholera. The end of the war seems to be nowhere in sight.

Now the 60,000 people of the Socotra Island are being pulled into the war as well, with the UAE deployment. Many of these people are furious at the UAE, and some are even accusing the UAE of deploying the military in order to steal UNESCO-protected species of plants and animals from the island. Middle East Eye and Independent (London) and Al Jazeera and Daily Mail (London, 25-Sep-2013)

Rift grows between Saudi Arabia and UAE in Yemen

The internationally recognized government of Yemen is led by President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, who has been hiding out in Saudi Arabia because of the war with the Houthis. While the Houthis are backed by Iran, Hadi's government is backed by an coalition led by Saudi Arabia.

As the war has continued for years with no end in sight, we reported in January, that there has been a split between coalition members Saudi Arabia and UAE. This has resulted in military clashes between Saudi and UAE forces in the southern port city of Aden.

The UAE has been backing the Southern Transitional Council (STC), a separatist faction calling for the division of Yemen into Northern Yemen and Southern Yemen, and claiming Aden as the capital city of Southern Yemen.

The split between Saudi Arabia and UAE is potentially dangerous because UAE is attempting to extend its influence well beyond its borders into much of what the STC would like to be Southern Yemen. UAE's move to exert control over Socotra is seen as a further move in that direction. Anadolu (Turkey) and Middle East Eye (12-May-2017) and Press TV (Iran)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-May-18 World View -- UAE troops and tanks deployed to Yemen's Socotra island in dispute with Saudi Arabia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-May-2018) Permanent Link
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4-May-18 World View -- China deploys cruise and surface-to-air missiles in South China Sea

China's military attacks US pilots in Djibouti with high-grade blinding lasers

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • China deploys cruise and surface-to-air missiles in South China Sea
  • China's military attacks US pilots in Djibouti with high-grade blinding lasers

China deploys cruise and surface-to-air missiles in South China Sea


Chinese warship in South China Sea, April 12, 2018 (Getty)
Chinese warship in South China Sea, April 12, 2018 (Getty)

China has once again escalated its massive military occupation of the South China Sea by deploying offensive anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles systems. The missiles are being deployed on the artificial islands that China constructed in violation of international law, as the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague ruled that all of China's activities in the South China Sea are illegal.

According to military analyst Gregory Poling, it means that China will soon be deploying warplanes to the area:

"This should be seen as China crossing an important threshold. Missile platforms present a clear offensive threat. [The missile deployment] is a pretty clear threat to the other claimants and furthers China's goal of establishing complete control over the water and airspace of the South China Sea."

Even before this latest deployment, Navy Admiral Philip S. Davidson told the Senate that China already has the military power to control the entire South China Sea, and only war would be able to stop this:

"China's development of forward military bases in the South China Sea began in December 2013 when the first dredger arrived at Johnson Reef. Through 2015, China used dredging efforts to build up these reefs and create manmade islands, destroying the reefs in the process. Since then, China has constructed clear military facilities on the islands, with several bases including hangars, barracks, underground fuel and water storage facilities, and bunkers to house offense and defensive kinetic and non-kinetic systems. These actions stand in direct contrast to the assertion that President Xi made in 2015 in the Rose Garden when he commented that Beijing had no intent to militarize the South China Sea. Today these forward operating bases appear complete. The only thing lacking are the deployed forces.

Once occupied, China will be able to extend its influence thousands of miles to the south and project power deep into Oceania. The PLA will be able to use these bases to challenge U.S. presence in the region, and any forces deployed to the islands would easily overwhelm the military forces of any other South China Sea-claimants. In short, China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States."

As Davidson points out, China has repeatedly lied and hid its true intentions. Originally, the artificial islands were going to be for tourists and scientists, which was a lie. Then the military installations would be purely defensive, which was another lie. And now they're part of a massive militarization in anticipation, when preparation has been completed, to launch a full-scale war on America and its allies.

According to an article last month in Chinese media, China is close to announcing how much of each country's territory it plans to annex:

"A precise continuous line will split the Gulf of Tonkin between China and Vietnam, go south into waters claimed by Malaysia, take a U-turn to the north along the west coast of the Philippines and finish at the southeast of Taiwan."

China has also been increasingly threatening an belligerent with Vietnam, Japan and Australia, by demanding that they respect China's illegal sovereignty claims. China has also been increasingly military threatening to Taiwan, and may be close to a military invasion.

China has repeatedly hidden its intentions, and will continue to do so until it's prepared to launch its attack. China is following exactly the same path that the Nazis followed. Xi Jinping's "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics" is the same as Hitler's National Socialism. Like the Nazis, the Chinese believe that they're a Master Race that will conquer the world. They'd have to be crazy to believe that they could succeed at that, but the Chinese are crazy.

I frequently like to quote Friedrich Nietzsche, who said, "Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule." The Chinese will not be the Master Race that rules the world. Instead, they'll do exactly what the Nazis did -- bring destruction and catastrophe to themselves and the world. CNBC and The Diplomat and Newsweek (20-Apr) and US Senate (PDF, 17-Apr) and South China Morning Post (22-Apr)

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China's military attacks US pilots in Djibouti with high-grade blinding lasers


Opening ceremony of China's military base in Djibouti, August 1, 2017 (AFP)
Opening ceremony of China's military base in Djibouti, August 1, 2017 (AFP)

China's belligerent military actions in the South China Sea are being repeated as well in the horn of Africa.

Chinese military personnel are using high-grade blinding lasers to target American pilots and American military crews flying over Djibouti in northeast Africa (the horn of Africa), according to the Pentagon.

There were several incidents in the past several weeks. No one has lost his life, but several Americans have received eye injuries.

The Americans are stationed in Djibouti at the Camp Lemonnier naval base which is the primary base of operations and logistics hub for missions across Africa. It supports approximately 4,000 U.S., joint and allied forces military and civilian personnel and defense contractors.

Camp Lemonnier was built in 2001, but is now being challenged by a new Chinese base in Djibouti, built in 2017. The US has formally protested to China's government, and "requested" that China launch an investigation of the situation.

As we reported last month, there is a parallel development in progress. Djibouti's strategic port at the entrance to the Red Sea is the Doraleh Container Terminal. A Dubai firm, DP World, had been operating the terminal since 2006, when DP World had signed a 30 year contract.

In February, Djibouti seized control of the terminal, and abruptly terminated the contract without notice. Next, Djibouti signed a contract with Singapore-based Pacific International Lines (PIL), a company that works with China Merchants Port Holdings, to operate the terminal. So it appears that China is poised to take control of the entire Djibouti seaport.

Whether in the South China Sea or Djibouti, China constantly lies and hides its intentions. China has been attacking American pilots and flight crews with high-powered lasers. We have to assume that this is not some rogue Chinese soldier, but is actual policy of the Chinese military, presumably to test out their laser systems in preparation for war. CNN and Washington Examiner and Washington Post

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-May-18 World View -- China deploys cruise and surface-to-air missiles in South China Sea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-May-2018) Permanent Link
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3-May-18 World View -- Israel reveals intelligence coup on Iran's nuclear weapons program

Importance of 2003 Iraq War revealed by the Iranian intelligence coup

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Israel reveals intelligence coup on Iran's nuclear weapons program
  • Importance of 2003 Iraq War revealed by the Iranian intelligence coup

Israel reveals intelligence coup on Iran's nuclear weapons program


Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands next to a facsimile of the intelligence archive that Mossad had taken from a Tehran warehouse in January (Times of Israel)
Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands next to a facsimile of the intelligence archive that Mossad had taken from a Tehran warehouse in January (Times of Israel)

Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday revealed the results of a massive intelligence coup by Israel's intelligence agency Mossad.

In February 2016, spies from Mossad discovered the top-secret location of a warehouse in Iran's capital city Tehran where thousands of documents related to Iran's past nuclear weapons developments were stored. Mossad operatives broke into the building one night in January of this year, removed half a ton of archived documents, and smuggled them back to Israel the same night. The material included 55,000 pages and another 55,000 files on 183 CDs.

The archived material was of Iran's nuclear program that began in the 1980s, and ended in 2003, when the Iraq war revealed that Saddam Hussein was not developing WMDs.

The trove of intelligence data is being used in the debate over what the Trump administration should do on May 12, when it must decide whether to abandon the nuclear deal that the West signed with Iran, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Those who favor continuing to support the JCPOA say that there's nothing in the trove of data that indicates that Iran has violated any of its obligations under the treaty, and that appears to be true.

Those who oppose continuing to support the JCPOA say that Iran lied about the extent of its nuclear weapons program that ended in 2003. In particular, they say that Iran claimed that the nuclear development was only for peaceful purposes, while the intelligence data provides extensive technical information on how Iran was developing nuclear weapons.

Those who favor continuing to support the JCPOA say nothing revealed in the intelligence haul was new, and that in fact it was known and published in a 2011 document from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Those who oppose continuing to support the JCPOA say that the 2011 IAEA document contains only a small fraction of the information that was revealed in the intelligence trove, and that furthermore Iran had not destroyed all the work in its nuclear weapons program, as it had promised.

So this is all going to be a major heated and sometimes acrimonious debate between now and May 12, when President Trump will announce the administration's decision on whether to continue to support the JCPOA.

It's also worth noting that in October 2015, Hashemi Rafsanjani, the head of Iran's Expediency Council, said in a televised interview that Iran had begun developing nuclear weapons in the 1980s during the Iran/Iraq war, and continued development for many years. Times of Israel and International Atomic Energy Commission-IAEA (PDF,2011) and Times of Israel

Importance of 2003 Iraq War revealed by the Iranian intelligence coup

Even by the extremely low to nonexistent standards of today's journalists and today's politicians, the statements made about the Iraq war on a daily basis are abysmally ignorant, saying that it was a catastrophe and the worst war in American history and other idiotic things. Actually, it's the people who opposed the Iraq war in 2003 who owe the world an apology, since they were unwilling to stop Saddam Hussein from using WMDs to kill thousands of people.

The new intelligence trove from Iran provides further evidence that NOT pursuing the Iraq war could have been a catastrophe.

We now know that the Iran had a very aggressive nuclear weapons development program that began in the 1980s during the Iran/Iraq war, at a time when Saddam Hussein was using mustard gas and other WMDs on Kurds and Iranians.

This program continued until October 2003, when Iran's Supreme Leader Seyed Ali Khamenei issued a fatwa ending all nuclear weapons development. The fatwa was issued because the American invasion of Iraq and the defeat of Saddam Hussein had ended any possibility of Iraq developing nuclear weapons. Iran had already been victimized by Saddam's WMDs, and in 2003 Saddam was refusing IAEA inspections, so without the Iraq war there was little doubt that Saddam would continue development of WMDs, and possibly nuclear weapons.

If it hadn't been for the Iraq war, then Iran would have continued nuclear weapons development, and would be a major nuclear weapons power in the Mideast today. Furthermore, since Iran has been working with North Korea, North Korea would also be a major nuclear weapons power today.

Saudi Arabia would not have simply tolerated a nuclear Iran, so it would have obtained its own nuclear weapons from Pakistan. Saddam Hussein would undoubtedly at least continued development of WMDs. So the Mideast and the world would be very different and infinitely more dangerous places today if it hadn't been for the Iraq war. Bloomberg

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-May-18 World View -- Israel reveals intelligence coup on Iran's nuclear weapons program thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-May-2018) Permanent Link
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2-May-18 World View -- Russia confounded by the chaotic popular uprising in Armenia

Armenia in a generational Awakening era

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Armenia's parliament refuses to support popular opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan
  • Nikol Pashinyan pledges loyalty to Russia, and everyone else
  • Armenia in a generational Awakening era

Armenia's parliament refuses to support popular opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan


Supporters of Nikol Pashinyan demonstrate in Yerevan (Pravda)
Supporters of Nikol Pashinyan demonstrate in Yerevan (Pravda)

Armenia's political turmoil went into full-scale chaos on Tuesday, when the governing Republican party, which has a majority in the parliament, refused to support opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan's bid to become prime minister, leaving the country with no prime minister and no obvious alternate candidate.

Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan stepped down as prime minister on August 23, in the face of huge street protests led by Pashinyan, and his threats to shut down the country with nationwide protests and strikes. ( "26-Apr-18 World View -- Armenia's protesters continue protesting after forcing resignation of prime minister")

After the parliament on Tuesday had hours of acrimonious debate and then refused to elect Pashinyan as the new prime minister to replace Sargsyan, there were once again tens of thousands of protesters in Republic Square in the capital city Yerevan. Pashinyan told the cheering supporters, "We will block the streets, the airports, the metro, the railway, everything that can be blocked."

The protests are expected to continue. The parliament will hold another vote on May 8, and if no prime minister is elected, then the parliament will be dissolved, and new elections will be held. News (Armenia) and BBC and Reuters and Bloomberg

Nikol Pashinyan pledges loyalty to Russia, and everyone else

The turmoil in Armenia is of crucial importance to Russia because Armenia under Serzh Sargsyan was a close ally to Russia and followed Russia's policy. Russia has an airbase in Armenia, and in 2013, Armenia chose to join a Russian-led customs union, rather than sign an association agreement with Armenia.

The rapid collapse last week of the Sargsyan government sends shock waves through Moscow because of visceral fears that a popular uprising could similar bring about the collapse of Russia's government, led by president Vladimir Putin. Those who consider this idea far-fetched might think back to 1991, when a popular uprising led to the collapse of the Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev, and its replacement by a government led by Boris Yeltsin.

In the last ten years, Russia has used military force in Ukraine and Georgia in the face of threats of the governments of those countries to align themselves with the European Union rather than Russia. Until last month, Armenia was safely on Russia's team, but now that's no longer certain.

Prior to the election in parliament that rejected his bid to become prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan gave a speech outlining his policies, including the following "foreign policy":

"If I am elected, Armenia will not make turns in the foreign policy domain; it will remain a member of the EAEU and the CSTO. This position does not stem from a person’s taste, but the logic of the movement that brought victory to the people. Demanding numerous changes in domestic life, the people did not and do not demand any change in foreign policy domain. We considered and consider Russia the strategic ally of Armenia, and this movement does not pose any threat to the [Russian Federation].

We will deepen relations with the European Union and the EU member countries. We will do everything for the [Republic of Armenia] citizens toward the EU visa regime abolition; we expect to start negotiations on it in the nearest future. The soonest implementation of the EU-Armenia agreement stems from our own interests. The government that I will head will deepen relations with the US, China, will remain committed to the process of [Armenian] Genocide recognition; Armenia will continue playing the role of the pioneer on this matter."

Pashinyan's speech could hardly have been reassuring to Russian officials. But the current situation, where Pashinyan was rejected by the legislature, and massive protests and demonstrations are continuing in the streets, can hardly be considered any better. Jamestown and News (Armenia) and Tass (Russia) and AFP (26-Apr)

Armenia in a generational Awakening era

According to some reports, Russian officials have been caught by surprise by the rapid collapse of the Serzh Sargsyan government, since they had expected Sargsyan to have used military force to stop the protests and remain in power. Perhaps the Russians were thinking of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, who stopped similar protests by sending missiles into school dormitories to kill children, or dropping barrel bombs laden with metal, chlorine, ammonia, phosphorous and chemical weapons on civilian neighborhoods, or using Sarin gas to kill large groups of people.

For those interested in the theoretical aspects of Generational Dynamics, it's worth taking a moment to sort out what's happening.

As I described a couple of times, Armenia is in a generational Awakening era, one generation past the bloody conflict in 1989-94 versus Azerbaijan over the enclave Nagorno-Karabakh. In this sense, Armenia is similar to America in the 1960s, one generation past the end of World War II.

Every generational Awakening era (including the Unraveling era that follows) is politically torn by a "generation gap" that pits the traumatized survivors of the preceding crisis war versus their children, the generations that grow up after the crisis war and have no personal memories of its horrors and atrocities.

Regular readers know that there's been a great deal of theoretical development on how these Awakening eras differ, depending on whether the preceding crisis war was an external war with another country versus an internal crisis civil war between tribes and ethnic groups. In the former case, the two armies each withdraw from the other country, and further contact between the populations is done diplomatically. But in the latter case, the two populations to live with each other when the war ends -- in the same country, the same villages and even on the same streets. This means that the hatred and the desire for revenge continue at a very personal level.

In the case of popular protests when the previous crisis war was an ethnic or tribal civil war, the protests are taken as a sign that the civil war is beginning again, and the government uses that as an excuse to use massacres, extrajudicial killings, jailings, torture, rape and other atrocities on the political opposition. The extreme example is Bashar al-Assad, whom I've described is the worst genocidal monster and war criminal so far this century. But I've also described the same phenomenon, with varying levels of violence, with Paul Biya in Cameroon, Pierre Nkurunziza in Burundi, Paul Kagame in Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Joseph Kabila in DRC, or, outside of Africa, Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Hun Sen in Cambodia and Maithripala Sirisena in Sri Lanka.

But if the last crisis war was an external war, then popular protests are not viewed as posing a similar sort of threat, and lead to an "Awakening climax" which is often a bloodless coup. This is what happened in America when Richard Nixon resigned in 1974, and is what is happening now in Armenia with the forced resignation of Serzh Sargsyan.

It's impossible to predict how this political chaos in Armenia will sort itself out. Right now, it appears that Nikol Pashinyan is so popular, that one way or another he's going to become prime minister, after which probably the same mobs that put him into power will turn against him, and he'll go from being the most popular to being the most unpopular. The only thing we can be sure of is that the chaos is going to continue for some time to come, and the only thing that Russians can do is watch and see what happens. Pravda (Moscow) and Chai Khana (Georgia) and World Policy Institute

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-May-18 World View -- Russia confounded by the chaotic popular uprising in Armenia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-May-2018) Permanent Link
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1-May-18 World View -- Nine journalists killed by suicide bombers in Kabul Afghanistan

Analysts guess at why Afghanistan's security situation keeps deteriorating

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Nine journalists killed by suicide bombers in Kabul Afghanistan
  • The Taliban announces the Spring fighting season, codename Al Khandaq
  • Analysts guess at why Afghanistan's security situation keeps deteriorating

Nine journalists killed by suicide bombers in Kabul Afghanistan


Security forces run from the second coordinated suicide attack bombing in Kabul on Monday (AP)
Security forces run from the second coordinated suicide attack bombing in Kabul on Monday (AP)

Two coordinated suicide bombings on Monday in Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan, killed at least 26 people, including nine journalists, who were apparently targeted. The first suicide bomber was on a motorbike and exploded his device near Afghan intelligence headquarters in Kabul. After the initial suicide bombings, journalists arrived to report on it, and were targeted by a second suicide bomber.

There were other terror attacks in cities across Afghanistan on Monday, including a car bombing in Kandahar province that killed eight Romanian soldiers, as well as multiple Afghan police officers and civilians.

Last Sunday, a massive terror attack in Kabul killed 60 people as they waited in a voter registration center, in a region of the city inhabited by members of the mainly Shia ethnic Hazara community, whom the Taliban has frequently targeted. Tolo News (Afghanistan) and Reuters and Business Insider

The Taliban announces the Spring fighting season, codename Al Khandaq

This new series of attacks just a few days after the Taliban announced its 2018 fighting season, codenamed "Al Khandaq." According to the Taliban announcement:

"The planning and strategy of the Al Khandaq Jihadi operations are organized by the expert and proficient skilled cadre of the Military Commission of the Islamic Emirate which is based on guerilla, offensive, infiltrated and various other new and intricate tactics against the new war strategy of the enemy, mainly focusing on crushing, killing and capturing American invaders and their supporters. ...

Besides sustaining the ongoing illegitimate occupation, the newly adopted war strategy of Trump has been ruthlessly implemented in the villages and rural areas against our oppressed Afghan people for the past nine months. Thousands of additional foreign forces are being deployed inside Afghanistan and they are supplied with new devastating weapons and vast military authorities."

The Taliban statement dismissed efforts at bringing about peace negotiations as "deceptive efforts" launched by the "ineffectual and corrupt officials of the puppet regime inside and outside the country are nothing but a conspiracy orchestrated by the foreign occupiers for enervating." Daily Times (Pakistan)

Analysts guess at why Afghanistan's security situation keeps deteriorating

Every time I read an article by an analyst or journalist trying to explain why the security situation in Afghanistan has been deteriorating for years, it's pretty clear that they don't even know the most basic facts about the country. I've been explaining for years why any sort of "victory" in Afghanistan is impossible, and the reasons I gave years ago are still true today. I'll repeat them below, but first, let's take a look at some of the reasons that the media are providing.

Axios writer Michael Kugelman gives three reasons that don't even make as much sense as a Donald Duck cartoon. Here are his reasons:

  • Intensified U.S. military pressure. According to Klugman, increased pressure by the US military is driving the Taliban to terror attacks in the cities. So is he saying that if there were les US military pressure, then there would be fewer terror attacks? This reasoning is almost a joke, especially since the security situation has been deteriorating rapidly since the withdrawal of U.S. troops began in 2014.
  • The Taliban is a national insurgency determined to weaken if not overthrow the Afghan state. That's an easy, fatuous reason that's been true for 15 years, but it doesn't explain what's different now.
  • The Taliban and ISIS are staging terror attacks because they're easy to pull off. By this vacuous reasoning, there should be terror attacks in almost every country in the world.

Kugelman's reasons were completely empty-headed, but a more intelligent attempt was made by Allison Jackson, AFP's Kabul Bureau chief. Jackson gave her reasons in an interview on Monday on RFI. Jackson was asked whether the security situation has deteriorated (my transcription):

"Absolutely. I don't know anyone who would say otherwise. I've only been here 8 months, but everyone I speak to says since 2014 the security situation has deteriorated significantly, and now it's the worst it's ever been, and there are a number of reasons for that.

Nato ended its combat mission at the end of 2014. Since then, the Taliban has been resurgent, and is taking back a lot of the territory that they had lost while the Nato combat troops were on the ground, and the US presence is obviously much more diminished in comparison to what it was pre-2014.

And Islamic State would have been merged in Afghanistan in 2014 2015, and they claimed their first major attack in 2016, in the summer of 2016, with an attack on Shias, and since then have launched more than a dozen attacks in Kabul alone.

They've come under significant pressure. The Taliban has also come under significant pressure, following Donald Trump's new strategy in August, and that announcement basically gave the US air force and special forces much more leeway to go after the Taliban, IS, other militant groups. I think what these sorts of attacks show is that even in the heart of Kabul, ordinary Afghans are extremely vulnerable, the government is not able to secure the capital city. Resolute Support, which is the name of Nato's mission here, has said that protecting Kabul is a priority, but they've also admitted that it's very difficult to protect a city that is so porous as Kabul."

Jackson's entire explanation is that the security situation has worsened because of the withdrawal of most Nato forces in 2014. That makes sense, but it's not particularly useful because it doesn't explain why Nato forces are needed in the first place. There are dozens of countries where no Nato troops aren't deployed. Why does Afghanistan have terror attacks when those countries don't?

Kugelman's office is in Washington DC, far from Afghanistan, so there's no reason to expect him to know anything, unless he makes a special effort, which apparently he hasn't.

But Jackson has been Kabul bureau chief for eight months. During that eight months, she might have learned something about the shifting ethnic and generational pressures that are bringing about these Taliban terror attacks.

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

But you don't have to know anything about generational history to understand what's going on. You just have to understand that there was an extremely bloody, violent civil war in 1991-96, pitting the Pashtuns versus the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan. And you have to know that the Taliban are Pashtuns, and that young Pashtuns are looking for revenge for atrocities committed in the 1990s, and that Nato troops are completely irrelevant.

Those are simple facts that Amy Jackson might have learned during her eight months in Kabul, or that even Michael Kugelman might have learned, even though he's in Washington. Then they could give more intelligent analyses.

However, as I've written in the past, I believe that this dynamic is understood by the Nato military, and by the US administration, and that they understand that this war cannot be won, but they have a larger purpose in mind. As war with China and Pakistan approaches, president Trump wants to keep American troops active in Afghanistan, and to continue to maintain several American military bases in Afghanistan, including two air bases in Bagram and Kandahar International Airport. These bases will be valuable in any future war with China. Under these circumstances, having troops in Afghanistan is what matters, whether the Taliban are defeated or not. Axios and ABC News

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-May-18 World View -- Nine journalists killed by suicide bombers in Kabul Afghanistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-May-2018) Permanent Link
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30-Apr-18 World View -- Pakistan's anti-American 'hope and change' candidate Imran Khan runs again

Imran Khan threatens an anti-American and pro-Chinese agenda

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Pakistan's anti-American 'hope and change' candidate Imran Khan runs again
  • Imran Khan threatens an anti-American and pro-Chinese agenda

Pakistan's anti-American 'hope and change' candidate Imran Khan runs again


Imran Khan at Sunday's rally in Lahore, Pakistan (Daily Pakistan)
Imran Khan at Sunday's rally in Lahore, Pakistan (Daily Pakistan)

Imran Khan, a Pashtun born in 1952, was one of Pakistan's greatest cricket players of all time, and was once voted as the "Sexiest Man of The Year" by Australia Magazine Oz. He turned to politics in the 1990s, and has become extremely colorful and extremely anti-American.

On Sunday, Khan officially began his campaign to become prime minister. Khan gave what he described as the most important speech of his life to a huge enthusiastic crowd of supporters in Lahore. This was the same venue as the rally in October 2011, when he stunned observers by drawing 100,000 people to the rally, far exceeding expectations. Saying that "It's time for a change," he promised to have closer ties with China, to distance Pakistan from the U.S., and to "convince" India to withdraw its military from the disputed regions of Kashmir and Jammu.

In Sunday's speech, he provided 11 points for change in Pakistan, in what might be described as a fairy tale worthy of Bernie Sanders. Here's a summary of the 11 points:

  • Invest maximum on development of people, on education for all.
  • Health facilities will be made available to all. "I will build hospitals in Pakistan where the poor wouldn’t have to worry about money and the rich wouldn’t need to go abroad for treatment."
  • "We don't have money to run countries, we're under heavy debts. I claim in front of you today that I will show you how to gather money from this nation." That will be done by revolutionizing the tax collection system.
  • Eradicate all corruption from Pakistan, one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
  • Revamp investment policy to attract giant investors. "We will reduce the tax on electricity and gas for our industries so that they could compete with Indian market."
  • Eradicate unemployment, and especially focus on boosting the tourism industry of Pakistan.
  • Improve agriculture and the lives of farmers. "Farmers work for the whole year and get nothing in the end. They are being exploited by the sugar mill mafia."
  • Bring Fata (the federally administered tribal area) into the mainstream.
  • Improve the environment, including the planting of 10 billion trees across Pakistan. "We can even clean the rivers."
  • Depoliticize the justice and police system, and eliminate extrajudicial killings.
  • Empower women through education. "Whatever I am today, it’s all because of my mother who made me a patriotic person and raised me to be a truthful person."

Khan referred to the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, by the name Quaid-i-Azam, and said:

"The Pakistan that Quaid-e-Azam wanted would afford equal rights to all citizens including the minorities, where the Hindu community, Sikhs, and Christians would be equal citizens. This country was to be formed on the model of Medina, where the basis of law was justice.

Prophet (PBUH) brought the entire Muslim nation towards truth and righteousness by way of his own example. The Muslim nation then ruled the entire world for 700 years but as soon as the royal system of kingdoms was established, the poor became poorer and the rich became richer. ...

“We are on crossroads today, on one end it’s disrespect and on the other, it’s dignity."

The last sentence refers to Khan's plan to sever all connections that Pakistan has to the United States, claiming that instead of being disrespected by the U.S., this move would restore Pakistan's dignity.

The speech is totally delusional. If Imran Khan were elected, he would turn Pakistan into another Venezuela. Daily Pakistan and The News (Pakistan)

Imran Khan threatens an anti-American and pro-Chinese agenda

Pakistan has been plagued by frequent terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda linked jihadist groups, usually part of Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP, Pakistan Taliban). These attacks have particularly targeted religious minorities in Pakistan. Shia Muslims are targeted most often, along with Hindus, Ahmadis and Christians.

In his speech on Sunday, Khan gave lip service to a Pakistan "where the Hindu community, Sikhs, and Christians would be equal citizens." However, the Taliban are radicalized Pashtuns, and Khan himself is a Pashtun, and appears to be sympathetic to the Taliban. He's openly supporting the Afghanistan Taliban.

Even though it's clear that the attacks in Pakistan by the Taliban are sectarian based, Khan insists on blaming them on the Americans and, in particular, by American drone strikes on Taliban terrorists in the Fata (federally administered tribal area along the border with Afghanistan). In 2013 he got his followers to blockade the "Khyber pass," a major route into Afghanistan that is heavily used by Nato forces to truck equipment between the port of Karachi and Nato bases in Afghanistan. The blockade finally ended in February 2014.

On January 1 of this year, US president Donald Trump tweeted that Pakistan had given nothing to the US but "lies and deceit" and provided "safe haven" to terrorists in return for $33 billion aid over the last 15 years, thinking of American leaders as "fools."

This infuriated Khan, who accused the US for using Pakistan as a "gun for hire," and made two proposals:

"Two immediate measures can be taken by Pakistan to send an unambiguous message to the US: One, we must immediately remove excessive US diplomatic, non-diplomatic and intelligence personnel from Pakistan, so that diplomatic parity is established according to international legal norms governing diplomatic relations between two states. Two, we must deny the US GLOC and AIRLOC facilities which we were providing free of cost to the US. ..

The lesson we must learn is never to be used by other for short-term paltry financial benefits ever again. We became a US proxy for a war against the Soviet Union when it entered Afghanistan and we allowed the CIA to create, train and arm Jihadi group on our soil and a decade later we tried to eliminate them as terrorists on US orders."

The last paragraph refers to the 1980s Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan, when the US secretly funded anti-Soviet Saudi rebels who later turned into al-Qaeda.

As regular readers are aware, Generational Dynamics predicts that the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war will pit China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries against the US, India, Russia and Iran. In the Mideast, Generational Dynamics predicts a full-scale Mideast war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other.

If Imran Khan becomes prime minister, it would move Pakistan along this trend line. Khan will follow through on his plans to develop closer relations with China, and to distance Pakistan from America. Times of India (4-Jan)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Apr-18 World View -- Pakistan's anti-American 'hope and change' candidate Imran Khan runs again thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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29-Apr-18 World View -- Thousands of ethnic Kachins flee from violence by Burma (Myanmar) army

Burma (Myanmar) appears to be entering a full-scale crisis civil war

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Thousands of ethnic Kachins flee from violence by Burma (Myanmar) army
  • Burma (Myanmar) appears to be entering a full-scale crisis civil war

Thousands of ethnic Kachins flee from violence by Burma (Myanmar) army


The Je Yang camp for Kachin refugees along China's border in Burma (AP)
The Je Yang camp for Kachin refugees along China's border in Burma (AP)

Some 4,000 ethnic Kachins have been driven from their homes in the last three weeks by an escalating conflict between Burma's (Myanmar's) army and the separatist Kachin Independence Army (KIA), and are now sheltering in makeshift shelters in the jungle around nearby villages. An additional 15,000 people have fled their homes since the beginning of the year.

There has been a longstanding low-level conflict between Burma's army and the KIA for several decades, but conflict has severely escalated since the beginning of this year. The conflict is expected to worsen, as reports indicate that the army is deploying reinforcements, including 2,000 infantry troops, fighter aircraft and helicopters.

The Burmese army's fight against the Kachin ethnic group and other ethnic groups in northern Burma has been eclipsed in the international news by the ethnic cleansing by the army of ethnic Rohingyas in Rakhine State. That ethnic cleansing is still in progress.

However, the additional reinforcements that the army is deploying were probably taken from the troops assigned to the ethnic cleansing activities in Rakhine State, indicating that Burma's government now considers the Kachin insurgency to be of an increasing priority. Democratic Voice of Burma and BBC and AFP and Deutsche Welle

Burma (Myanmar) appears to be entering a full-scale crisis civil war

In 2007, I wrote the article "Burma: Growing demonstrations by the '88 Generation' raise fears of new slaughter," describing anti-government riots and demonstrations by Buddhist monks. Many people feared a full-scale civil war, but as I wrote at the time, that wouldn't happen because only 49 years had passed since the end of the previous crisis civil war. In the "Brief generational history of Burma" that I included with that article, I described Burma's last generational crisis war, 1948-58, as a civil war among ethnic groups, with intervention by the Chinese, with a war climax in 1958 when the army took over power, and turned power over to a civilian government.

I wrote at that time that a new crisis war would not occur at that time, but would probably occur within ten years or so, as the survivors of the previous crisis war disappear.

Well, ten years have passed, and it appears that Burma is entering a new full-scale crisis civil war, with ethnic cleansing of the Rohingyas occurring in one place, and an escalating fight with ethnic groups in the north.

The tipping point into this new generational crisis war (or the "regeneracy," using the technical term from generational theory) seems to have occurred in November 2016, when the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) joined together with other with the militant wings of other ethnic groups in northern Burma to form the Northern Alliance, whose members will fight Burma's army together.

The other militant groups are the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), the armed wing of the Palaung State Liberation Front promoting self-determination for the Ta’ang people living in Shan State, Yunnan and Northern Thailand; the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), the armed wing of the ethnic Chinese Kokang ethnic group, living in the northern part of Shan state, along the border with China; and the Arakan Army (AA), the armed wing of the Arakan people in Kachin state.

These represent the ethnic groups that fought in the civil war that climaxed in 1958, and 58 years later in 2016 (right on schedule according to generational theory), they apparently joined together to form the Northern Alliance and fight a new civil war. Reuters (21-Nov-2016) and Time (9-Mar-2017) and The Irrawaddy and Foreign Policy

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Apr-18 World View -- Thousands of ethnic Kachins flee from violence by Burma (Myanmar) army thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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28-Apr-18 World View -- Kazakhstan to permit America to use Caspian ports to supply military in Afghanistan

Russia moves to increase dominance over Caspian Sea

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Kazakhstan to permit America to use Caspian ports to supply military in Afghanistan
  • Russia moves to increase dominance over Caspian Sea

Kazakhstan to permit America to use Caspian ports to supply military in Afghanistan


Map: The Caspian Trade Corridor is part of the New Silk Road connecting Asia with Europe
Map: The Caspian Trade Corridor is part of the New Silk Road connecting Asia with Europe

A continuing issue facing the US-led Nato military forces in Afghanistan is sending supplies to the landlocked country. Since the war began in 2001, most resupply has been done by shipping to Pakistan's port in Karachi, and then overland by truck across Pakistan, through the Khyber Pass, into Afghanistan. This route has been reliable for the most part, there have been times when political disagreements between the US and Pakistan have cause Pakistan to close the Khyber Pass to US military goods.

As a backup, Nato has been developing several Central Asia truck and rail overland supply routes, such as from Europe through Russia to Kazakhstan, and then through Uzbekistan to Afghanistan.

Kazakhstan is about to sign an agreement with the US that will permit Nato forces to substantially increase use of the existing Caspian Trade Corridor, by shipping through the Aktau and Kuryk ports on the Caspian Sea, completely bypassing Russia. Nato supplies from Europe will pass through Turkey and Georgia, through Azerbaijan to the port at Baku. From there, the supplies will be ferried across the Caspian Sea to one of the Kazakh ports, and then travel overland by truck through Kazakhstan to Uzbekistan, and then by rail to Afghanistan.

According to Kazakh officials, only nonmilitary goods will go through the ports. Nonetheless, Russian authorities are opposed to this US-Kazakh deal because it could change the balance of power in the Caspian Sea, which the Russians consider to be their own back yard.

But since the purpose of the deal is to allow transit of supplies to the military in Afghanistan, the Russians fear that American soldiers might be deployed to the ports, and that the ports eventually will turn into American military bases.

Another reason why Russians oppose the deal is because it gives them one less lever to use against Nato -- blocking goods from transiting across Russia -- in retaliation for Western sanctions against Russia.

According to one Russian analyst, "Under the current conditions of American-Russian and traditional American-Iranian conflicts, this [new US] presence will generate anger both in Moscow and in Tehran." EurasiaNet and Jamestown and EurAsia Daily

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Russia moves to increase dominance over Caspian Sea

There are five littoral states bordering the Caspian Sea -- Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. For decades, they've been unable to reach an agreement on dividing the Caspian Sea among them. They agree that the entire surface of the sea should be open to all for commercial shipping and for fishing. However, there are also large deposits of gas and oil, and large disagreements over who gets to exploit them.

Prior to 1991, there were only two littoral states -- the Soviet Union and Iran. The Soviets controlled the Caspian Sea, and forced Iran to follow Soviet policy. When the Soviet Union disintegrated, the individual states began setting up individual independent oil and gas development projects. By the end of the 1990s, Vladimir Putin was taking charge, and used every heavy-handed form of obstruction to prevent these projects from going forward.

International laws provide for various methods for splitting up ownership of the seabed. According to one method, the size of the region that each country gets depends on the length of the coastline bordering the sea. Under this method Azerbaijan, Russia and Kazakhstan would get the largest shares of the seabed, and so these countries favor it.

According to a second set of rules, there are five littoral states, and so the seabed would be split up equally among them, giving them each 20% of the seabed. Iran and Turkmenistan favor this set of rules, because they have the shortest shorelines.

Putin has used these conflicting rules to provoke disagreements among the littoral states, with the result that in the 27 years since the disintegration of the Soviet Union no agreement has been reached. But recent bursts of pragmatism are bringing about agreements that may unlock some of the oil and gas fields.

Iran and Azerbaijan are adjacent countries along the Caspian Sea coastline, and attempts by either country to exploit the seabed have sometimes provoked gunboat diplomacy by the other. But on March 28, Iran and Azerbaijan signed a memorandum of understanding on joint development of two oil and gas fields in the Caspian Sea.

Russia and Kazakhstan are also adjacent countries along the Caspian Sea coastline, and they've also had disputes in the past about ownership of three fields in the northern part of the Caspian Sea. But they settled their disputes in 2002, dividing the three oil and gas fields between them.

It will be more troublesome for Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan to reach agreement. They are not adjacent, but they are opposite each other in the a region of the Caspian Sea where there are oil and gas fields in the middle. However, agreement on joint development may be difficult to reach because both countries' economies are weak, and they would have to share the multi-billion dollar investment costs for offshore development projects. And then they would have to share the risk that oil prices could fall again, making it impossible to recover the money they invested.

There's one more emerging issue that needs to be highlighted. Readers may recall that in October 2015, Russia began launching cruise missiles from the Caspian Sea, attacking targets in Syria. The cruise missiles were launched from Russia's Caspian Flotilla, with a home base in Astrakhan, in the northern edge of the Caspian Sea.

Russia has announced that the flotilla will be moved to Kaspiisk, Dagestan, near the border with Azerbaijan, and that the number of officers and sailors assigned to the flotilla will be increased.

This change will increase Russia's dominance over the Caspian Sea. From Kaspiisk, Russia will be able to exert much more control over Dagestan and the other North Caucasus provinces. It will also give Russia more control over the entire Caspian Sea, and provide leverage to prevent building of east-west pipelines under the Caspian. Finally, Russia's warships will be able to launch cruise missiles at Syria much more quickly than in the past. AzerNews (Azerbaijan) and Jamestown and Asia Times and RFE/RL

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Apr-18 World View -- Kazakhstan to permit America to use Caspian ports to supply military in Afghanistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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27-Apr-18 World View -- North Korea's negotiating position collapses, along with Mount Mantap

North-South Korea summit begins

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • North-South Korea summit begins
  • Chinese scientists conclude that North Korea's nuclear test site has become dangerous and unstable
  • North Korea's negotiating position collapses, along with Mount Mantap
  • The politics of the collapse of Mount Mantap

North-South Korea summit begins


South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shake hands in front of Freedom House at Panmunjeom, Friday. (Korea Times)
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shake hands in front of Freedom House at Panmunjeom, Friday. (Korea Times)

It was magical. South Korea's president Moon Jae-in shook hands with North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un, smiling sweetly at each other. As if they were euphoric lovers, they held hands and walked back and forth, crossing back and forth across the line dividing South and North Korea, in order to prove to the world that all was peace and light.

It's hard to guess what might be accomplished by this summit meeting, since the real summit will be held in a few weeks between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. Korea Times

Chinese scientists conclude that North Korea's nuclear test site has become dangerous and unstable

When North Korea performed its most recent nuclear weapon test on September 3 of last year at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, seismologists outside North Korea detected an "earthquake" that followed the test itself. Concerns were expressed that the earthquake was actually a partially collapse of Mount Mantap, where the Punggye-ri site is located, and that nuclear radiation had been released. Unconfirmed reports later said that tunnel collapses had killed hundreds of North Korean workers.

As we reported last year, Chinese geologists on September 20 were warning North Korean nuclear scientists that further nuclear tests at Mount Mantap risked a nuclear catastrophe, if the mountain collapsed in an explosion, releasing large amounts of radiation that could contaminate large regions of North Korea and northeast China for decades to come.

Now, two groups of Chinese researchers one from the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) in Hefei, and the second from the Jilin Earthquake Agency with the China Earthquake Administration in Changchun, have both reached similar conclusions: That Mount Mantap did in fact collapse after North Korea's last nuclear weapons test on September 3 of last year.

Here's the summary from China's Earthquake Administration:

"Seismology illuminates physical processes occurring during underground explosions, not all yet fully understood. The thus far strongest North Korean test of 3 September 2017 was followed by a moderate seismic event (mL 4.1) after 8.5 min. ...

North Korea detonated its strongest underground nuclear test in September 2017. It attracted the public interest worldwide not only due to its significant magnitude (6.3 mb) but also because it was followed 8.5 min later by a weaker event. Was the delayed shock a secondary explosion, an earthquake provoked by the shot, or something else? We answer these questions.... According to our model, the explosion created a cavity and a damaged “chimney” of rocks above it. The aftershock was neither a secondary explosion nor a triggered tectonic earthquake. It occurred due to a process comparable to a “mirror image” of the explosion, that is, a rock collapse, or compaction, for the first time documented in North Korea's test site."

The USTC study is awaiting publication, but a summary says, "The occurrence of the collapse should deem the underground infrastructure beneath mountain Mantap not be used for any future nuclear tests."

A Beijing-based analyst points out that another nuclear test at the site would destabilize not only Mount Mantap but also Changbai Mountain, the site of an active volcano at the China-Korea border. South China Morning Post and AFP and Geophysical Research Letters

North Korea's negotiating position collapses, along with Mount Mantap

As I wrote last weekend in "22-Apr-18 World View -- North Korea suspends all nuclear, missile tests, shuts down nuclear test site", North Korea promised to end all nuclear and missile tests, and shut down Punggye-ri, North Korea's nuclear test site. Shutting down the nuclear test site was particularly hailed by the international media that North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un was turning into a nice guy, willing to compromise and all that.

Now the laughable news emerges that the nuclear test site is being shut down because another test would risk a nuclear catastrophe, according to Chinese scientists. As I wrote at the time, the North Korean concession was no concession at all, and in fact was the West's worst nightmare, since Kim would keep his existing stock of nuclear weapons, would continue developing nuclear technology without open testing, and would undoubtedly sell the nuclear technology to other countries, including Iran.

Now it turns out that the North's whole farcical announcement was a negotiating ploy to make use of the threat of further testing to lock in concessions before the West found out.

The collapse of Mantap Mountain represents a collapse of a major part of North Korea's negotiating position. With the approach of the forthcoming meeting between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump, Trump has said repeatedly that he was demanding denuclearization -- that the North destroy all its nuclear weapons. Kim had the threat of reopening the nuclear test site and performing more tests. But now that threat is gone, and even though the North can do further nuclear development, they can never be sure that their developments will work unless they test them.

However, in another way the collapse of Mount Mantap strengthens North Korea's negotiating position. They can claim that if their nuclear test site is unusable, then the West should remove all sanctions, since they're no longer needed. BBC

The politics of the collapse of Mount Mantap

We live in a world where whether you believe 2+2 equals 4 or 5 depends on politics. So it is with the question of whether the Punggye-ri test site at Mount Mantap is still usable.

So let's look at China's motives. China would like to use the North Korea threat as leverage to force all US military forces out of South Korea. Also, China has for years been developing numerous nuclear missile systems with no other purpose than to destroy American cities, aircraft carries and military bases. China is preparing for a pre-emptive attack on the United States, and they would be delighted to have North Korean nuclear missiles pointed at the U.S., if only to be a distraction when the war begins.

But on the other hand, Chinese media makes it clear that, whether the Punggye-ri is theoretically still usable or not, China does not want any further nuclear tests there. The risk is too great, and a serious mishap could be a nuclear disaster that lasts for decades.

Those mixed motives would explain the suggestion that the USTC conclusions are being watered down to avoid reaching a final conclusion that the site is unusable. This ambiguity preserves the North's negotiating position.

The web site 38North, which is run by North Korean defectors in South Korea, is insisting that only a portion of the Punggye-ri test site has been damaged, and they conclude:

"In short, there is no basis to conclude that the Punggye-ri nuclear test site is no longer viable for future nuclear testing. There remain two portal areas located in more pristine competent rock that can be used for future tests if Pyongyang were to give the order. Whether that will stay an option will depend on reaching verifiable agreements that build on Pyongyang’s pledge to shut down the facility."

There is no real evidence provided for this conclusion, and the motives of North Korean defectors are most likely to be that they don't want the North to get away with anything. In particular, they would want the sanctions to continue as long as possible. Washington Post and Global Times (China) and 38 North

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Apr-18 World View -- North Korea's negotiating position collapses, along with Mount Mantap thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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26-Apr-18 World View -- Armenia's protesters continue protesting after forcing resignation of prime minister

Fears grow that Armenia's instability will spill over into Russia

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Armenia's protesters continue protesting after forcing resignation of prime minister
  • Fears grow that Armenia's instability will spill over into Russia
  • Armenian political chaos follows the path of America in the 1960s

Armenia's protesters continue protesting after forcing resignation of prime minister


Soldiers from Armenia's army join the anti-government protests in Yerevan (charter97.org)
Soldiers from Armenia's army join the anti-government protests in Yerevan (charter97.org)

As we reported last week, Armenia's opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan called for a "non-violent velvet revolution," alluding to the peaceful 1989 uprising that ousted the Communist regime in the former Czechoslovakia.

Answering Pashinyan's call, thousands of protesters blockaded streets and government in Armenia's capital city Yerevan, with the objective of preventing the parliament from voting to make Serzh Sargsyan, who had already served ten years as president under the previous constitution, the new prime minister under the new constitution.

The parliament did vote to make Sargsyan the next prime minister, but as the street protests continued. The tide turned for Sargsyan on April 23 when soldiers from the Armenian military left their barracks and joined the protesters in the streets. Sargsyan announced on April 23 that he was stepping down, and would be replaced by acting prime minister Karen Karapetyan (male), an ally of Sargsyan.

This was a clear victory for Pashinyan, and it was hoped that the protests would end, and that Armenia would return to "normal." Instead, tens of thousands of opposition protesters have returned to the streets in Yerevan, demanding that the new prime minister and his entire government step down. EurasiaNet and Guardian (London) and Charter97 (Russia) and (Trans)

Fears grow that Armenia's instability will spill over into Russia

Armenia is a small country of 3 million people, strongly dependent on Russia. In religion, the Armenian Apostolic Church is very close to the Russian Orthodox Church. In trade, Armenians working in Russia supply 20% of the country's GDP. So Armenia has little choice but to do as directed by Russia's president Vladimir Putin. And long-time president Serzh Sargsyan, who was just forced to step down as prime minister, always aligned policies with Russia, not with the West.

But a popular revolution could change all that, and there is already talk of a new "color revolution" in Armenia. The opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan has already invoked the 1989 Velvet Revolution in the former Czechoslovakia that ousted the Communist regime.

Other color revolutions that have occurred in Russia's backyard include the Rose Revolution in Georgia in 2003, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004, and the Tulip Revolution (or Pink Revolution) in Kyrgyzstan in 2005.

So Russia could be legitimately afraid that another color revolution might occur, this time in Armenia, and bring to power a government that was friendly to the West and unfriendly to Russia. Russia did militarily invade Georgia and Ukraine after their respective revolutions, so an invasion of Armenia at some point in the future is a possibility, if things really get out of hand.

There's another concern that Putin might have. Putin himself served two terms as president of Russia, then switched and became prime minister to stay in power, then switched back and became president again, arranging to the constitution to be amended so that he could be president forever.

That, of course, is similar to what Serzh Sargsyan in Armenia. And not only were there massive protests, but Sargsyan was forced to step down when the army joined the protests. Putin might fear that the Russian people might copy the Armenian people's example and hold massive anti-Putin protests, and then have army soldiers join the protests. If that every happened in Russia, the outcome would be much bloodier than in Armenia. Washington Post and Jamestown and Moscow Times and Trend News (Azerbaijan) and Reuters

Armenian political chaos follows the path of America in the 1960s

As I described last week, Armenia is in a generational Awakening era, one generation past the bloody conflict in 1989-94 versus Azerbaijan over the enclave Nagorno-Karabakh. In this sense, Armenia is similar to America in the 1960s, one generation past the end of World War II.

An Awakening era is the time when the first generation that grows up after the war comes of age, and starts to make itself felt. Their parents, the traumatized soldiers and other survivors of the war, try to set rules and impose restrictions so that such a war will never occur again. The kids in the younger generation, with no personal memory of the war, rebel against these restrictions, creating a "generation gap," or a political conflict between generations.

The forced resignation of Serzh Sargsyan might be roughly compared to the President Lyndon Johnson's forced decision in 1968 not to run for another term. He had hoped that by stepping down he would encourage an end to the massive street protests, including some violence. However, the protests and violence did not end. There were still several "long, hot summers" to come, there was the violence at the Democratic National Convention in 1968, there was Woodstock in 1969, and there was the shootings at Kent State. Finally, the resignation of Richard Nixon in 1974 was the Awakening climax, because it resolved the generational conflict in favor of the younger post-war generation, specifically the Boomers, over the GI Generation that had fought in the war.

Today we're seeing exactly the same kind of generational conflict in Armenia. The tens of thousands of young people who protested in the streets of Yerevan may have won their first victory, but the protests will continue in other forms for years, and there will be bursts of violence. There will be no "return to normal" for Armenia for many years. BBC

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Apr-18 World View -- Armenia's protesters continue protesting after forcing resignation of prime minister thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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25-Apr-18 World View -- Congo's Kabila and Burundi's Nkurunziza use violence and corruption to stay in power

DR Congo's Joseph Kabila attacks Catholic Church opposition violently

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • DR Congo's Joseph Kabila attacks Catholic Church opposition violently
  • Burundi's Nkurunziza uses violence on opposition to his May 17 referendum

DR Congo's Joseph Kabila attacks Catholic Church opposition violently


 Sunday mass in the St. Christine Catholic Church in DRC's capital city Kinshasa.  (Riva Press / Redux)
Sunday mass in the St. Christine Catholic Church in DRC's capital city Kinshasa. (Riva Press / Redux)

The next presidential election for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is scheduled for December 23. International leaders are demanding that he step down and let the elections be free and fair, demands that there is little possibility he'll meet.

Joseph Kabila was supposed to step down as president when his mandate ran out on December 19, 2016. Instead, he pulled a breathtaking stunt late in 2016 by doing nothing to prepare the country for new elections, and then claimed that he couldn't step down because there were no elections to select a president to replace him.

This stunt triggered large riots and a threat of civil war in DRC, but the Catholic Church intervened and brokered an agreement: Elections would be held in December of 2017 to choose Kabila's successor, and this time Kabila would really step down. However, the agreement was a farce: It was signed by members of Kabila's government, but it wasn't even signed by Kabila himself. It was pretty clear throughout 2017 that Kabila would not honor the agreement.

So now we supposedly have a commitment for an election in December of this year.

Leaders of African countries almost uniformly refuse to criticize Kabila, mainly because many of them are just as corrupt as Kabila is. However, Botswana's president Mokgweetsi Masisi has become the first (and perhaps the only) African leader to take a stand and criticize Kabila. Earlier this year, Botswana's government issued a statement openly blaming Kabila for DRC's deteriorating humanitarian and security situation.

And last week, Masisi said in an interview,

"The president of the DRC has stayed in power longer than the time that was expected. Hopefully we can get from (Kabila) a real commitment to not attempt to come back to power by whatever means."

However, as we've been reporting for months, there is no possibility whatsoever that Kabila will step down.

Kabila and his family own, either partially or wholly, more than 80 companies and businesses in the country and abroad. He and his children own more than 71,000 hectares (175,444 acres) of farmland. His family owns diamond mines, a part of the country's largest mobile phone network, companies that mine mineral deposits, gold and limestone, a luxury hotel, stakes in an airline, a share of the country's banks, and a fast-food franchise. This is pure criminal corruption by Kabila and his family.

With tentacles reaching into so many businesses, it's not surprising that Kabila is willing to use any method -- massacres, atrocities, jailings, torture -- to stay in power. If he were to step down, he would probably be arrested or else shot and killed, rather than writing a book and going on tour as Western leaders do when they step down.

As in 2016, the Catholic Church is taking on Kabila. Earlier this year, the church organized protest events in DRC's capital city Kinshasa. They were violently broken up by Kabila's police using live rounds and tear gas, and at least 15 people were killed.

Kabila's attacks on the Catholic Church are only a small part of the violence that he's causing. In the past, I've written about the bloody wars in the southwestern Kasai region, where the armies and militias reporting to the government of president Joseph Kabila are committing genocide; about the bloody tribal wars in northeastern Kivu region, causing massive refugee flows into Uganda; as we reported in February, another a humanitarian disaster of "extraordinary proportions" emerged in Tanganyika province in southeastern DRC. The genocide by Kabila's army has resulted in 3.9 million people forced to flee their homes to escape the violence. Hundreds of thousands have fled to Zambia, Angola and other neighboring countries as refugees, creating a humanitarian disaster in those countries. Reuters and Irin (1-Feb) and Ozy (29-Mar) and Reuters (23-Jan)

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Burundi's Nkurunziza uses violence on opposition to his May 17 referendum

DRC's Joseph Kabila is rumored to be preparing a referendum to amend the constitution to allow him to remain in power into the 2030's. Leaders of Rwanda and Uganda have already arranged for their countries' constitutions to be amended in a similar way.

Burundi's president Pierre Nkurunziza, who calls himself the "eternal supreme guide" of Burundi, has set May 17 as a date for a national referendum to change the constitution to permit him to stay in office until at least 2034.

According to Human Rights Watch, Nkurunziza is using violence to guarantee that the referendum will pass. This violence includes beatings, arrests, jailings and torture.

Nkurunziza should have stepped down as leader in 2015, since the constitution limits any leader to two terms. When Nkurunziza announced that he would run for a third term, his police force used bullets, tear gas and water cannons to control the protests. He's expected to continue to use as much force as necessary to rig the May 17 elections and guarantee that the referendum will pass.

I remember a time, 15-20 years ago, when I knew almost nothing about any African country. Well, I knew a little about Egypt, South Africa, Morocco, and a few other countries, but not much. That's why, in the last ten years, I've made a point to learn as much as I can about African countries. And in almost all of them, the story is the same -- massive corruption, massive government violence, ethnic and tribal violence. African leaders have been promising democracies, but instead we see one leader after another using violence to stay in power in order to protect his cronies who have been stealing money from the treasury, often money that the West provided in aid. That's why after forty years and billions of dollars in Western aid, ordinary African people are just as poor as they were forty years ago.

As in the case of DRC, we can expect more violence in the form of killings, torture, rape, arrests, jailings, beatings, and anything else necessary for the corrupt politicians Kabila and Nkurunziza to keep themselves in power.

From the point of view of General Dynamics, many leaders follow exactly the same patterns following a generational crisis civil war between different tribes or ethnic groups. After the war ends, the leader of the country, usually from the winning tribe or ethnic group, refuses to give up power, and becomes increasingly violent and authoritarian, using as an excuse that peaceful protests or negative news articles can turn into a new civil war. This excuse provides justification for mass slaughter, rape, torture, mass jailings, mutilations, and so forth. I've described this behavior in Bashar al-Assad in Syria, who has gone to the extent of using Sarin gas and barrel bombs packed with explosives and metal and laced with chlorine gas onto civilian neighborhoods and markets in order to kill as many women and children as possible. Other leaders that I've described exhibiting this type of behavior include Hun Sen in Cambodia, Paul Biya in Cameroon, Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Pierre Nkurunziza in Burundi, Paul Kagame in Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, and Joseph Kabila in DRC. East Africa Monitor and Human Rights Watch and AFP

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Apr-18 World View -- Congo's Kabila and Burundi's Nkurunziza use violence and corruption to stay in power thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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24-Apr-18 World View -- Number of Israeli 'price tag' hate crime attacks by radical Jewish settlers surges

Hilltop youth from Yitzhar settlement considered the epicenter of 'price tag' attacks

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Number of Israeli 'price tag' hate crime attacks by radical Jewish settlers surges
  • Hilltop youth from Yitzhar settlement considered the epicenter of 'price tag' attacks

Number of Israeli 'price tag' hate crime attacks by radical Jewish settlers surges


An imam at the Sa'ada Mosque Aqraba looks at the damage from a price-tag arson attack on April 13. Graffiti messages included 'death,' 'revenge' and 'price tag.'  (Times of Israel)
An imam at the Sa'ada Mosque Aqraba looks at the damage from a price-tag arson attack on April 13. Graffiti messages included 'death,' 'revenge' and 'price tag.' (Times of Israel)

In recent weeks, there has been a surge in "price tag" attacks by young ultra-nationalist Israeli Jews on Palestinians in the West Bank, as many in April alone as there were in all of 2017. These price tag attacks are considered by Shin Bet, Israel's security agency, as being terrorist activities, and are condemned by all political parties.

“Price tag” refers to terrorism and other hate crimes carried out by Jewish ultra-nationalists ostensibly in retaliation for Palestinian violence or government policies perceived as hostile to the settler movement. The attacks are usually on Palestinians and their property, but they're also frequently targeted on Christians, Israeli peace activists and soldiers, anyone perceived as hostile to the far-right settler movement.

Here is a summary of the "price tag" attacks launched in April so far:

  • April 4: Several cars had windows smashed and tires punctured in the Palestinian village of Fara'ata, near Nablus in the West Bank. Spray-painted graffiti messages included "Administrative price tag," scrawled on vehicles and buildings. Times of Israel (4-Apr)
  • April 5: Several Palestinian and Arab Israeli parked cars in the Arab neighborhood of Beit Hanina in East Jerusalem were spray-painted with graffiti messages and some of their tires were punctured. Times of Israel (5-Apr)
  • April 13: The Sa'ada Mosque in the northern West Bank village of Aqraba was torched in an anti-Arab hate crime attack. Messages of “death,” “revenge” and “price tag” were found graffitied on the walls. The same mosque had been the target of an arson attack five years ago. Times of Israel (13-Apr)
  • April 17: in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya and the West Bank village of Luban a-Sharqiya, car tires were deflated, and messages including "Expel or kill" were scrawled on walls. Times of Israel (17-Apr)
  • April 18: Over two dozen olive trees were destroyed, while messages like "Death to Arabs" and "Drive them out" were spray-painted on walls in the West Bank village of Urif. Times of Israel (18-Apr)
  • April 20: Vandals spray-painted a building in the West Bank town of Burqa, near Ramallah, with the words, “Supporters of terror, expel or kill.” CCTV camera footage from the scene showed men in dark, clothes, their faces, hidden, puncture the tires of a truck. Times of Israel (20-Apr)
  • April 23: Tires were slashed and Hebrew-language graffiti were spray-painted in the villages of Ramun and Beit Iksa in the West Banks. The graffiti included phrases like “Let us take care of them” and “We’ll take our fate into our own hands." Times of Israel (23-Apr)

Phrases like “Administrative revenge” are used when the price tag attacks target Israeli police or soldiers, and refer to means taken to prevent Israeli settler violence, such as police detentions, bans on entry into the West Bank, nightly curfews, and bans on contacting certain individuals.

One of the worst price tag attacks occurred on March 20, 2016, when an arson attack killed a Palestinian family in the West Bank village of Duma, south of Nablus. Two homes were set ablaze in the attack and the Hebrew slogans “revenge” and “long live the king messiah” were spray-painted on their walls, alongside a Star of David. Eighteen-month-old Ali Dawabsha was burned to death, and other family members died after months of treatments for burns.

Shin Bet, Israel's security agency, published statistics showing a sharp increase in price tag attacks in 2018, with 13 price tag attacks in the first four months of 2018, compared to 8 in the entire year 2017.

Last month, an Israeli court handed down a five-year prison sentence to a settler teen convicted of membership in a terror organization, for carrying out a string of so-called “price-tag” attacks against Palestinians and their property. Times of Israel and WAFA (Palestine) and I24 News

Hilltop youth from Yitzhar settlement considered the epicenter of 'price tag' attacks

Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency, declared in 2011 that the "price tag" attacks were terrorist activity, and that they had moved from spontaneous acts to organized planning, including the use of a database of potential targets.

Since then, many groups have complained that Israel's government have not taken price tag attacks seriously. In 2014, the Roman Catholic Church in Israel condemned price tag attacks on church property in Jerusalem, and issued a statement saying, "The wave of fanaticism and intimidation against Christians continues." In one price tag attack, the threat "Death to Arabs, Christians and all those who hate Israel,” was topped with a star of David in a Catholic church.

Many Palestinian activists and rights groups have accused Israel of fostering a "culture of impunity" for Israelis committing violent price tag attacks against Palestinians.

IDF (Israeli defense force) officials say that the surge in violent attacks over the past month have been carried out by "hilltop youth" from Yitzhar Jewish settlement in the West Bank.

The young activists are often referred to as “hilltop youth” due to their practice of setting up illegal outposts on West Bank hilltops. In June, 2017, the IDF evacuated a large illegal outpost in Baladim, and dozens of Baladim settlers moved into the Yitzhar settlement. It's believed that the Yitzhar settlement has been used as a base for the surge in price tag attacks in the last few weeks.

The Yesh Din rights group has also slammed police “incompetence” in being unable to make a single arrest in any of the instances over the past week, saying it has “provided a tailwind for ideological crimes against Palestinians.” UPI (13-Sep-2011) and Forward (8-May-2014) and Ma'an News (West Bank) and Times of Israel

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Apr-18 World View -- Number of Israeli 'price tag' hate crime attacks by radical Jewish settlers surges thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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23-Apr-18 World View -- ISIS-K suicide bomber kills over 50 in Kabul, Afghanistan, registering to vote

ISIS Khorasan (ISIS-K) becomes more prominent in South Asia

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Suicide bomber in Kabul, Afghanistan, kills over 50 registering to vote
  • ISIS Khorasan (ISIS-K) becomes more prominent in South Asia

Suicide bomber in Kabul, Afghanistan, kills over 50 registering to vote


Clothes and shoes are seen at the site of a suicide bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sunday. The items were placed in a row for the victims' families to claim afterwards.  (Getty)
Clothes and shoes are seen at the site of a suicide bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sunday. The items were placed in a row for the victims' families to claim afterwards. (Getty)

A massive suicide bombing on Sunday struck a voter registration office in Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan. More than 50 people were killed, including women and children, while over 100 others were injured.

The voter registration office is one of dozens that the Independent Election Commission (IEC) has set up across the country to register voters for the national elections in October. As of Saturday, the voter registration process had been in process for seven days, but turnout had been disappointing low. Only 189,061 people, including just over 42,000 women, had registered to vote as of Saturday.

People were afraid to vote for fear of violence by jihadists, even though the IEC and the army had been reassuring the public that all the voter registration offices would be secure.

There had been several small jihadist attacks on the centers across the country in the last week, but the attack on Sunday of the registration center in Kabul was the most devastating attack in Kabul since January, when about 100 people were killed by a bomb concealed in an ambulance.

The so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) claimed credit for the Kabul bombing through its Amaq public relations agency.

Sunday's attack targeted an area of western Kabul inhabited by many members of the mainly Shia ethnic Hazara community, who were part of the Northern Alliance that fought against the Pashtuns (Taliban) in the civil war of 1991-96.

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.

So Sunday's attack has multiple purposes. First, it targets Shia Muslims who Sunni jihadists say are infidel. Second, it targets the hated Hazaras, in revenge for actions take in the 1990s civil war. And third, it cripples the registration effort, and makes it far less likely that there will be an election that brings Hazaras to power.

As I've written many times in the past, there is no possibility whatsoever that these attacks will stop, through negotiations or American or Afghan military action. To the contrary, they will get worse, as new young Pashtuns come of age and decide to get revenge against the Hazaras. Tolo News (Kabul) and CBS News and Long War Journal and Tolo News and Reuters

ISIS Khorasan (ISIS-K) becomes more prominent in South Asia

The group taking credit for Sunday's attack is ISIS-K, or "ISIS Khorasan" ("Wilayah Khorasan") or ISKP, the South Asian branch of ISIS, claiming parts of Iran, three Central Asian republics, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kashmir and Xinjiang in western China.

Since 2014, some Taliban groups in Afghanistan have been changing their allegiance from al-Qaeda to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, mainly for public relations purposes.

However, with the loss in Syria and Iraq of most the territory formerly controlled by ISIS, many of the tens of thousands of jihadists who came from over 80 countries to join ISIS and fight Syria's president Bashar al-Assad are now returning to the home countries. In the case of Afghanistan, it means that some of the Pashtuns that left home to join ISIS in Syria are now battle-hardened, and are returning to Afghanistan and joining existing jihadist Taliban groups that have sworn allegiance to ISIS.

Up until the last few months, the ISIS-K groups in Afghanistan had no real connection to the ISIS in Syria. But with the influx of fighters from Syria returning home, ISIS-K is becoming a more serious threat to Afghanistan, and there will be further attacks. Long War Journal (21-Mar) and Diplomat and Business Insider (11-Feb)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Apr-18 World View -- ISIS-K suicide bomber kills over 50 in Kabul, Afghanistan, registering to vote thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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22-Apr-18 World View -- North Korea suspends all nuclear, missile tests, shuts down nuclear test site

North Korea promised to denuclearize in 2008, and proved its sincerity

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • North Korea promised to denuclearize in 2008, and proved its sincerity
  • North Korea suspends all nuclear, missile tests, shuts down nuclear test site

North Korea promised to denuclearize in 2008, and proved its sincerity


This picture of the destruction of the nuclear reactor cooling tower in North Korea in 2008 went viral (AP)
This picture of the destruction of the nuclear reactor cooling tower in North Korea in 2008 went viral (AP)

In 2008, the North Koreans committed to denuclearization, and to prove it, they blew up a nuclear reactor cooling tower. The reaction from the West was euphoric. North Korea was taken off the international terror list, and many sanctions were immediately removed.

Here's an AP news story from June 27, 2008:

"North Korea destroyed the most visible symbol of its nuclear weapons program today, blasting apart the cooling tower at its main atomic reactor. ...

The demolition of the 60-foot-tall cooling tower at the North's main reactor complex is a response to America's concessions after the North delivered a declaration yesterday of its nuclear programs to be dismantled.

"This is a very important step in the disablement process and I think it puts us in a good position to move into the next phase," the U.S. State Department's top expert on the Koreas, Sung Kim, who attended the demolition, said. Kim shook hands with a North Korean official following the tower's tumble to the ground.

In its first reaction to the developments this week, North Korea's Foreign Ministry welcomed Washington's decision to take the country off the U.S. trade and sanctions blacklists.

"The U.S. measure should lead to a complete and all-out withdrawal of its hostile policy toward (the North) so that the denuclearization process can proceed smoothly," the ministry said in a statement carried by the official (North) Korean Central News Agency."

It was all very sweet and friendly, except that North Korea kept on secretly developing nuclear weapons, and a year later started testing again. The North Korean promises were completely meaningless, but they got major concessions that remained for years. AP (27-June-2008)

North Korea suspends all nuclear, missile tests, shuts down nuclear test site

In what some analysts are calling a "dramatic about-face," North Korea promised on Saturday to end all nuclear and missile tests and shut down a nuclear test site. Instead, the country will pursue economic growth and a "strong Socialist economy."

According to the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA):

"[U]nder the proven condition of complete nuclear weapons, we no longer need any nuclear tests, mid-range and intercontinental ballistic rocket tests, and that the nuclear test site in northern area has also completed its mission. ...

To secure transparency on the suspension of nuclear tests, we will close the republic's northern nuclear test site.

Nuclear development has proceeded scientifically and in due order and the development of the delivery strike means also proceeded scientifically and verified the completion of nuclear weapons.

We no longer need any nuclear test or test launches of intermediate and intercontinental range ballistic missiles and because of this, the northern nuclear test site has finished its mission. ...

We will concentrate all efforts on building a powerful socialist economy and markedly improving the standard of people’s living through the mobilization of all human and material resources of the country."

I am totally incapable of figuring out why anyone would think that this is some sort of about-face or breakthrough. In fact, this is a statement of the West's worst nightmare.

North Korea will stop nuclear weapon and ballistic missile testing, but will keep their existing weapons, and will continue development without open testing.. In the past, the North Koreans have said that they will manufacture an arsenal of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Furthermore, North Korea has sold chemical weapons technology to Syria and other countries, and will do the same with nuclear technology.

There is no mention of North Korean "denuclearization." Instead, the statement elsewhere says "(It's an) important process for global nuclear disarmament," meaning that North Korea will happily denuclearize if the rest of the world denuclearizes.

In January, the North announced that there would be no testing during the Winter Olympics games being held in Seoul. So this new announcement is just an extension and repetition of the previous one.

I've heard a couple of analysts claim that this announcement is extremely significant because the North didn't have to do it, and the fact that they did do it proves that they're sincere.

However, three days ago, president Donald Trump said this, in reference to his planned meeting with North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un:

"I hope to have a very successful meeting. If I think it's a meeting that is not going to be fruitful, we are not going to go. If the meeting, when I'm there, is not fruitful, I will respectfully leave the meeting."

So it's possible that North Korean officials decided to make Saturday's announcement in response to Trump's remarks. From the North's point of view, Trump's meeting with Kim will send the following message to the world: North Korea is an advanced nuclear power, and is an equal to the United States.

Trump and South Korea are demanding that North Korea "denuclearize," which means that the North give up all its weapons. This is never going to happen without a war. The North has been building nuclear weapons for decades, and they will not stop now just when they are finally building their arsenal.

Really, the situation hasn't changed since the beginning of the year: Either North Korea will have an arsenal of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles that can reach the United States, as well as Asian targets that include Japan, or else the US will have to launch a military strike to take out North Korea's nuclear capabilities, if such a strike is even possible. Korea Herald and BBC and CNN and Korea Times

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Apr-18 World View -- North Korea suspends all nuclear, missile tests, shuts down nuclear test site thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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21-Apr-18 World View -- Socialist Venezuela's state-owned PDVSA oil company near total collapse

Will China or Russia save Venezuela?

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Socialist Venezuela's state-owned PDVSA oil company near total collapse
  • Will China or Russia save Venezuela?

Socialist Venezuela's state-owned PDVSA oil company near total collapse


Oil tank labeled 'PDVSA - Homeland, Socialism or Death' (PanamPost)
Oil tank labeled 'PDVSA - Homeland, Socialism or Death' (PanamPost)

Socialist Venezuela's state-owned oil company Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) is close to collapse, beset with an ever-growing array of new and growing problems.

Venezuela's oil refineries worked at 31% of their capacity in the first quarter in 2018, well below 2017 levels. Venezuela has not seen such low levels of oil production since the 1980s. Average oil production declined dramatically over the past two years, by 12% in 2016 and again by 13% in 2017. Production in December 2017 was 27% lower than a year earlier.

Late last year, Venezuela's Socialist president Nicolás Maduro appointed a military man, Major General Manuel Quevedo, head of PDVSA, with a mandate to increase production and rid the company of corruption. Quevedo and his team of military officers had no experience in the oil industry, and replaced long-time experienced employees with soldiers. According to an executive, "The military guys arrive calling the engineers thieves and saboteurs."

There has been a stampede of PDVSA workers resigning from the company. Already, 25,000 of the company's 146,000 employees resigned in 2017, and the exodus has accelerated in 2018, as General Quevedo "quickly alienated the firm’s embattled upper echelon and its rank-and-file," according to union leaders. Many of those leaving now are engineers, managers, or lawyers, professionals that are almost impossible to replace. Some offices now have lines outside with dozens of workers waiting to resign, and there have been so many resignations that some offices are refusing to accept any more of them.

The loss of all these workers is one of the causes of the fall in production, and also the inability of the company to properly maintain its equipment. Many drilling rigs work only intermittently for lack of crews, and several small fires have broken out because there are no longer enough supervisors.

The apparent oil industry collapse is a major factor in Venezuela's economic debacle. More than 90% of the country's hard currency is obtained through oil exports. The country is also suffering the worst economic depression ever recorded in Latin America. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by 16.5 percent in 2016 and 12 percent in 2017, and forecasts a 15 percent contraction for 2018. Inflation reached more than 2,600 percent in 2017, the highest in the world by a wide margin, and the IMF forecasts 13,000 percent for 2018. Curaçao Chronicle and OilPrice and Reuters

Will China or Russia save Venezuela?

Only China and Russia can provide Venezuela with enough money to keep it from going into full-blown default, but it's doubtful that they will. However, Russia has been purchasing Venezuelan oil fields in exchange for loans, extending Russian influence in Venezuela. The Soviet Union propped up Cuba's economy for decades, but it seems unlikely that Russia will do the same for Venezuela, which is several times larger and more expensive than Cuba.

It's worth repeating that this disaster is the fault of Socialism. As I discussed in my article yesterday on Cuba's Socialism, Socialism has a 100% failure rate. Socialism killed hundreds of millions of people during the twentieth century, far more than Naziism killed, and now it's destroying Venezuela.

Cuba seems to be stepping back from the brink, having implemented a few reforms, though there's still a very long way to go. But Venezuela under Nicolás Maduro refuses to implement any reforms at all, and seems willing to destroy Venezuela for his own benefit. Atlantic Council (PDF) and Bloomberg and Council on Foreign Relations

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Apr-18 World View -- Socialist Venezuela's state-owned PDVSA oil company near total collapse thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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20-Apr-18 World View -- Cuba's new president Miguel Díaz-Canel makes delusional promise to continue Socialist revolution

Cuba's faltering economy and the dual currency problem

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Cuba's new president Miguel Díaz-Canel makes delusional promise to continue Socialist revolution
  • The Socialist delusion in Cuba
  • Cuba's faltering economy and the dual currency problem

Cuba's new president Miguel Díaz-Canel makes delusional promise to continue Socialist revolution


New president Miguel Díaz-Canel (L) and former president Raúl Castro (EPA)
New president Miguel Díaz-Canel (L) and former president Raúl Castro (EPA)

Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez assumed the dictatorship of Cuba on Thursday, as hand-picked successor to 86-year-old Raúl Castro, who is stepping down. Raúl Castro was the hand-picked successor to Fidel Castro when the latter stepped down in 2008.

He said that there would be no "capitalist restoration," and promised to continue the Socialist "Cuban revolution":

"In Cuba there is no space for those who aspire for a restoration of capitalism. The mandate given by the people to this house is to give continuity to the Cuban revolution in a crucial historic moment.

I assume this responsibility with the conviction that all we revolutionaries, from any trench, will be faithful to Fidel and Raúl, the current leader of the revolutionary process.

We will have to exercise an increasingly collective leadership. Strengthening the participation of the people. I do not come to promise anything, as the Revolution never has in all these years. I come to fulfill the program that we have implemented with the guidelines of Socialism and the Revolution.

To those who through ignorance or bad faith doubt our commitment, we must tell them that the Revolution continues and will continue. The world has received the wrong message that the Revolution ends with its guerrillas."

Díaz-Canel was born in 1960, the year of the Cuban revolution. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, he is in the same generational class as America's Boomers born in 1945 (at the end of World War II). He will not have anything like the revolutionary fervor of the Castros, but will be more likely to seek compromise and avoid conflict. On the other hand, he undoubtedly thinks that the Castros' generation made some mistakes. It remains to be seen what will happen, but it's possible that he may consider one of those mistakes to be the unending hostility to the Cuban community in Florida.

Many commentators are saying that this is an "opportunity" for President Trump to improve relations with Cuba. Actually, this is much more an opportunity for Díaz-Canel to improve relations with the United States. If he decides to soften Cuba's policy with the US and Cuban-Americans, it's possible that the Trump administration will respond with better relations. RadioRebelde (Cuba) and Granma (Cuba) and Guardian (London)

The Socialist delusion in Cuba

News commentators are saying that the retirement of Raúl Castro is the most important event in Cuba's recent history. Others say that the most important moment was president Barack Obama's opening to Cuba in 2014. Others say that the most important moment occurred in 2008, when Fidel Castro stepped down.

Well, in my opinion the most important moment in Cuba's recent history occurred in 2010, when Cuba's economy was in shambles, and president Raúl Castro announced the end of the Socialist economy. The government would lay off 500,000 government workers (Socialist bureaucrats) and privatize many businesses.

Here are the excerpts of the announcement that I quoted:

"After 52 years, the Cuban Revolution is a living and unshakable direction for the nation, and our people's will and determination to continue the construction of socialism, and make further progress in the development and updating of the economic model we must follow, and consolidate the gains achieved. ...

Cuba faces the urgent need to move forward economically, better organize production, enhance productivity and raise reserves, improve discipline and efficiency and this is only possible through the dignified and devoted to our people. Today, the duty of the Cubans is to work and do it well, with seriousness and responsibility, and to make better use of resources available to better serve our needs.

In order to update the economic model and economic projects for the 2011-2015 period, the guidelines call for the reduction of more than 500,000 workers in the public sector and in parallel the increase in non-state sector.

The timetable for implementation [of the reduction] for agencies and businesses is the first quarter of 2011. ...

Our state neither can nor should continue to burden companies and productive organizations with services and inflated budgets that weigh down the economy, are counterproductive, create bad habits and distort the behavior of workers. It is necessary to increase production and quality of services, reduce social spending and eliminate bulky improper gratuities, excessive subsidies.

Hundreds of thousands of workers will move to self-employment in the coming years.

Within the state sector, it will only be possible to go to places with a historical workforce deficit, such as agriculture, construction, teachers, police, industrial workers and others.

A matter of singular importance is the salary. We must reinvigorate the socialist principle of distribution, to pay to each according to the quantity and quality of work provided.

The unity of the Cuban workers and our people has been key to maximizing the gigantic edifice built by the Revolution and the changes that we are now undertaking she will continue to be our most important strategic weapon."

There's one part of this statement that I didn't sufficiently highlight when I first quoted it.

Marx's Socialist Principle Of Distribution is "From each according to abilities, to each according to needs." This means that greedy capitalists are not allowed to make more money than they need at the expense of starving workers.

Unsurprisingly, this principle has been a total economic disaster every time it's been tried. Cuba's 2010 announcement says:

"A matter of singular importance is the salary. We must reinvigorate the socialist principle of distribution, to pay to each according to the quantity and quality of work provided."

In this case, "reinvigorate" means "abandon the core principle of Socialism." Cuba may still call itself Socialist, but as a matter of definition it's more Fascist than Socialist.

This is not a surprise. Socialism has a 100% failure record, and I've posted the reason many times.

As I've written many times in the past, Socialism is mathematically impossible as population grows. The number of regulators grows exponentially faster than the population grows, so by the time you get to, say, a million people, everyone would have to be a regulator.

When you impose Socialism on an existing wealthy population, as was done in Venezuela, and what Bernie Sanders would like to do to the US, then it works ok until, as Margaret Thatcher would say, the government runs out of other people's money. Then disaster ensues. This is for the same reason. If the population has more than a few hundred thousand people, then there aren't enough government regulators.

A country can save itself from that disaster by retrenching from Socialism as Cuba and even Russia have done. Sweden also did this, adopting Socialism in the 1970s, and abandoning it in the 1990s. North Korea and Venezuela are the disaster that happens when the country leaders refuse to retrench.

Socialism is the greatest economic disaster in world history. It's much worse than Naziism or Fascism. The Nazis may have killed tens of millions of people, but in the last century, Socialism has killed hundreds of millions of people. Socialism has never succeeded, for the reasons I've given. Socialism has a 100% failure rate, for the reasons I've given. There is literally nothing worse than Socialism.

And as I always like to ask, How stupid do you have to be to advocate a system with a 100% failure rate, that always leads to disaster? BBC

Cuba's faltering economy and the dual currency problem

As in Venezuela, Socialism has been extremely destructive to Cuba's economy. There is one unique thing about Cuba's economy, however. Ever since the Cuban revolution in 1960, Cuba has been depending on other Socialist countries to provide money to prop up its economy.

For decades, the Soviet Union supplied that money. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Cuba's economy tanked. Then Venezuela started providing money to Cuba, and Cuba was OK again. For two decades, Venezuela provided $6 billion per year to Cuba. But Venezuela's Socialist economy has been suffering its own catastrophic collapse in the last few years, and can no longer subsidize Cuba.

Cuba is said to be searching for another country to provide free money, and they're talking to Russia and China. But Russia and China have their own economic problems, and they're also being asked to prop up Venezuela's failing Socialist economy.

Cuba could be helped in another way, if international investors were willing to invest in businesses in Cuba. However, investors would have to know that they will be allowed to extract their money in later years, which would require reforms to the banking system.

Cuba would also have to do away with its "dual currency system" before investors would be interested. The new president, Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, has promised to reform the dual currency system, but that is strongly opposed by Cuba's élite class.

The bizarre dual currency system means that Cuba has two currencies -- Cuban peso (CUP) and the Cuban convertible peso (CUC). The CUC is pegged to the dollar, while the CUP worth 1/25th of a CUC.

As one example, Cuba's peasants get paid in the cheap CUP currency, but the élites with government connections receive huge subsidies by converting their cheap CUPs for expensive CUCs.

Díaz-Canel has said that he would do away with dual currencies, but other problems run deep in the economy. Despite the 2010 reforms, the government still employs three of every four Cuban workers, and they are mostly bureaucrats who produce little or nothing. The average monthly state salary is $31 — so low that workers often live on stolen goods and handouts from relatives overseas, according to reports.

Cuba is close to economic collapse, and needs help from another nation. Díaz-Canel might turn to Russia or China, or he might turn to the U.S. and work to bring 50 years of hostility to an end. It will be interesting to watch and see what happens. AP and Bloomberg and Economist (23-Oct-2013)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Apr-18 World View -- Cuba's new president Miguel Díaz-Canel makes delusional promise to continue Socialist revolution thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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19-Apr-18 World View -- Thousands of Mali refugees flee into Burkina Faso to escape ethnic violence

Canada debates whether there's any point to a peacekeeping force

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Al-Qaeda linked JNIM attacks two peacekeeper camps in Timbuktu, Mali
  • Canada debates whether there's any point to a peacekeeping force
  • Thousands of Mali refugees flee into Burkina Faso to escape ethnic violence

Al-Qaeda linked JNIM attacks two peacekeeper camps in Timbuktu, Mali


Jihadists in Mali dress as UN peacekeeprs and display UN logos (Reuters)
Jihadists in Mali dress as UN peacekeeprs and display UN logos (Reuters)

On Saturday, Al-Qaeda linked jihadists carried out a sophisticated attack on two separate peacekeeper camps in Timbuktu in northern Mali. One UN peacekeeper and 15 jihadist suspects were killed while seven French soldiers were wounded.

The most likely perpetrator was the al-Qaeda linked Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslim (JNIM, Group for Support of Islam and Muslims, GSIM). JNIM was formed in 2017 by a merger of four Mali-based al-Qaeda linked groups, including Ansar Dine, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Al Murabitoon, and Katibat Macina (Macina Liberation Front). These groups were responsible for a surge of hundreds of al-Qaeda linked attacks in Africa's Sahel (the strip of Africa just below the Sahara desert, separating the Arab north from Black Africa to the south), including Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.

The increasing frequency of JNIM attacks in the Sahel region, and the great complexity and scale of Saturday's attack, indicate that the capability of JNIM is growing. The jihadists, some of whom were disguised as UN peacekeepers, arrived in vehicles bearing the logo of the UN and the Malian army. They attacked using rocket-propelled grenades and mortars, and detonated at least one suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED).

They attacked two separate peacekeeper bases simultaneously. They attacked the camp of the UN peacekeepers MINUSMA (Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission) with mortars, exchange of fire, and a vehicle suicide bomb attack. MINUSMA was established in 2013, and now has 11,000 soldiers. 150 MINUSMA forces have now been killed, making it by far the most dangerous UN peacekeeping mission in the world.

The second simultaneous attack was on the camp of Operation Barkhane, which was set up by the French military in 2014, and includes troops from Mali, Chad, Niger, Mauritania and Burkina Faso – which operate collectively as the G5 Sahel. The rules are different for Barkhane and MINUSMA, in that MINUSMA is UN peacekeepers who are unarmed, while Barkhane is soldiers who are fully armed, and authorized to use them. France 24 and Reuters

Canada debates whether there's any point to a peacekeeping force

Saturday's attack has once again raised questions about whether there is any point for Western countries or the United Nations to have a peacekeeping force in the midst of warring parties.

This is becoming a major political issue in Canada, where the UN is pressuring Canada to speed up its commitment to MINUSMA.

Canada finally announced in March that it will send two Chinook transport helicopters and four Griffon attack helicopters to the MINUSMA mission in Mali. These helicopters will replace a German fleet of helicopters when Germany ends its commitment to MINUSMA.

The problem is that Germany plans to pull out in June, while Canada plans to send its helicopters to MINUSMA in August. So talks are under way for the UN either to convince Canada to deliver its helicopters in June, or to convince Germany to delay its departure until August.

One Ottawa columnist summarized the debate as follows:

"Canada’s decision to deploy military personnel there suggests none of the lessons learned from our 13-year war in Afghanistan are remembered. Nor is there memory of Canadian military involvement in the messy, inconclusive wars in Libya and Iraq, or our involvement in the disastrous wars in Somalia, Rwanda and the Congo. ...

Even a cursory acknowledgement of the history of the country and the region, where “empires” were almost as numerous as the sands of the Sahara, suggests the injection of thousands of foreign troops will do little to settle historical geographic, ethnic and linguistic divides, which have been sharpened by the involvement, or more accurately, accentuation of extreme Islamic theology.

During the colonial period, formalized in 1892, the region was called French Sudan and, at various iterations, was inclusive of Senegal, Ivory Coast, Benin, Burkina Faso and Mali. In the north, it overlapped with the southern regions of Algeria with easy, uncontrolled connections into Morocco, Tunisia and Libya.

Some will suggest our Afghanistan experience was unique but in doing so we easily forget the beginnings of African peacekeeping in 1960 in the Congo. More are dying today than when the area was the personal fiefdom of the King of the Belgians."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this commentator is correct. The Sahel region is headed for a war, and it makes absolutely no difference at all whether MINUSMA or Barkhane are operating there. The peacekeeping forces are provided for humanitarian reasons, which is also the reason given by the UK government for supporting last weekend's missile strike on Syria's chemical weapons plants. AFP and Toronto Star and Ottawa Citizen

Thousands of Mali refugees flee into Burkina Faso to escape ethnic violence

In a completely separate region of Mali, a separate crisis is brewing, with thousands of Malians fleeing to neighboring Burkina Faso to escape a growing ethnic conflict that has killed dozens of people in the last month, destroying homes and other property.

The reasons for the clashes are very familiar, since I've written about the same issues occurring in country after country.

The two ethnic groups the Dogons, who are farmers, versus the Peuls or Fulani, who are herders. The two ethnic groups may be able to coexist peacefully for years, but as populations grow, the farmers extend the farms, and the herders demand more grazing land and water for their cattle. Since the amount of available land is the same, no matter what the population, clashes result, often leading to war.

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, Nigeria, and even America in the 1800s. As population grows, the farmers accuse the herders of letting the cattle eat their crops, while the herders accuse the farmers of planting on land that's meant for grazing. If the farmers put up fences, then the herders knock them down.

UN officials are becoming alarmed over the growing refugee crisis. In just a few weeks since mid-February, some 3,000 people have already fled across the border into Burkina Faso. The new arrivals add to some 24,000 Malian refugees who have found refuge in Burkina Faso since the start of the Mali conflict in 2012. UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) and Reuters and AFP (20-June-2017)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Apr-18 World View -- Thousands of Mali refugees flee into Burkina Faso to escape ethnic violence thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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18-Apr-18 World View -- Leader of Armenia's 'non-violent velvet revolution' threatens to paralyze the country

Brief generational history of Armenia, Turkey and Azerbaijan

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Leader of Armenia's 'non-violent velvet revolution' threatens to paralyze the country
  • Brief generational history of Armenia, Turkey and Azerbaijan

Leader of Armenia's 'non-violent velvet revolution' threatens to paralyze the country


Nikol Pashinyan, late Tuesday evening, calling for his supporters on Wednesday to block buildings and roads.  The violence gave him a black eye, and there is some blood on his bandaged right hand.  (lragir.am)
Nikol Pashinyan, late Tuesday evening, calling for his supporters on Wednesday to block buildings and roads. The violence gave him a black eye, and there is some blood on his bandaged right hand. (lragir.am)

Nikol Pashinyan, a member of Armenia's parliament from the opposition Yelk party, is calling for a "non-violent velvet revolution," alluding to the peaceful 1989 uprising that ousted the Communist regime in the former Czechoslovakia. Pashinyan's objective is to prevent Serzh Sargsyan, who has served ten years as Armenia's president, from continuing in power as Armenia's prime minister under a new constitution.

Protesters are particularly incensed that Sargsyan had promised not to run for prime minister after the constitution was changed, but now is running anyway.

With protesters chanting "Serzh the liar," Pashinyan has been calling for widespread strikes, and blockades of streets and government buildings in Armenia's capital city Yerevan, with the objective of preventing the parliament from voting to make Sargsyan the prime minister.

There were widespread protests across several cities, with students blocking roads and buildings. At least 46 people were injured in the protests, including six police officers. More than 60 people were arrested. Pashinyan himself was taken to a hospital with cuts and an eye injury, but he returned to speak to the crowd and urge further protests.

On Tuesday, the parliament voted overwhelmingly, 76 to 17 with no abstentions, to elect former president Sargsyan as the prime minister under the new constitution.

Late on Tuesday, Pashinyan addressed the crowd and called for widespread protests to block government agencies, streets and highways.

"Tomorrow at 10 am, I will be waiting for you on France Square where our actions will start and will be concluded on Republic Square. ...

On the upcoming days we will form velvet revolution committees which will lead this movement till victory. Revolutionary committees will be created in all areas and regions of the country. Very soon all the government agencies of Armenia, including the police will have to perform the orders of the revolutionary committees, not of Serzh Sargsyan.

Tomorrow morning we must paralyze entire Armenia, from the 9th district to 3rd, 4th villages. Serzh Sargsyan and his servants must not have room to move in Yerevan, they must move along the crossing points that we will decide. Tomorrow we set up crossing points in Yerevan streets which are intended for the Republicans and their riffraff only."

RFE/RL and Lragir (Armenia) and News (Armenia) and NPR

Brief generational history of Armenia, Turkey and Azerbaijan

Armenia had two generational crisis wars, over 70 years apart, during the 20th century.

The first occurred during World War I between 1915-17, when over a million Armenians were massacred, deported from their homeland in Anatolia (Turkey) to present-day Syria. Armenia considers the killings genocide, a charge that Turkey denies.

The second generational crisis war was the conflict between 1989-94 with Azerbaijan over the enclave Nagorno-Karabakh. Nagorno-Karabakh is an Armenian-occupied region within Azerbaijan, and the source of continuing conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Today, Armenia is in a generational Awakening era, one generation past the end of the previous generational crisis war. Student protests are common in Awakening eras (as in America and Europe in the 1960s), because this is the coming of age of the first generation growing up after the crisis war. So the student protests occurring this week in Armenia are typical of this era.

Although the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan was an external war, more research is needed on the question of the extent to which it was also an ethnic conflict between the ethnic Armenians and the ethnic Turkic population of Azerbaijan.

During this week's protests, with the objective of preventing former president Serzh Sargsyan from becoming prime minister, opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan said the following:

"Serzh Sargsyan is trying to change the essence of our country. He’s transforming it into western Azerbaijan. We aren’t citizens of Azerbaijan. We are citizens of Armenia. We aren’t citizens of North Korea or of Kazakhstan."

Media sources do not explain what Pashinyan means by "transforming it into western Azerbaijan." This suggests an ethnic issue, and requires more research. Hetq (Armenia) and BBC

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Apr-18 World View -- Leader of Armenia's 'non-violent velvet revolution' threatens to paralyze the country thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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17-Apr-18 World View -- As Syria's al-Assad attacks Idlib, he may consider chemical weapons essential

Russia ties itself in knots diplomatically over Syria gas attack

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Russia ties itself in knots diplomatically over Syria chemical attack
  • Syria blocks OPCW inspectors from visiting site of chemical attack
  • As Syria's al-Assad attacks Idlib, he may consider chemical weapons essential
  • Syria TV says that its Shayrat airbase has been attacked by missiles

Russia ties itself in knots diplomatically over Syria chemical attack


Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov (Tass)
Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov (Tass)

On Friday, Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said that he had "irrefutable evidence" that the April 7 chemical attack Syria's Damascus suburb Douma had been staged:

"We have the irrefutable data that this [chemical attack] was staged.

And special services of a country, which is now seeking to be in the first ranks of the Russophobic campaign, were involved in this staged event."

Lavrov did not name the country, but other Russian officials have said that Lavrov was referring to the UK, and said that the British government has paid a group of volunteer rescue workers, known as the White Helmets, "to stage a provocation with an alleged use of chemical weapons."

In an interview of Lavrov by BBC's HardTalk, Steven Sachur repeatedly asked what this "irrefutable data" was, and Lavrov never answered the question, but kept personally attacking Sachur. Not surprisingly, no such irrefutable data exists.

According to a statement by the British government:

"Russia has argued that the attack on Douma was somehow staged, or faked. They have even suggested that the UK was behind the attack. That is ludicrous. The attack on Douma was not reported by just a sole source in opposition to the Regime. There are multiple eye witness accounts, substantial video footage, accounts from first responders and medical evidence."

Russia is tied up in knots about this subject because lie after lie have caught up with one another. After Bashar al-Assad used Sarin gas on his own people in 2013, Lavrov first denied that any Sarin attack had taken place, then denied that al-Assad had any stockpiles of Sarin gas, and then committed to US Secretary of State John Kerry that all stockpiles of chemical weapons would be removed. Under international pressure, Lavrov committed that Russia would guarantee that all chemical weapons would be removed.

So you can see the problem. Russia has to deny that any attack took place on April 7, because Russia has guaranteed that al-Assad has no stockpiles of chemical weapons. That's why Russia is diplomatically tied up in knots.

Lavrov made an additional interesting statement during the interview. He was asked whether relations between Russia and the West are worse than during the cold war:

"Well I think it's worse because during the cold war there were channels of communication, and there was no obsession with Russophobia, which looks like genocide by sanctions."

His accusation of "genocide by sanctions" is startling, and the "Russophobia" remark is common to both of Lavrov's comments quoted above, and reflects a pervasive paranoia in Russia's leadership. I've previously quoted a high-level Russian official claiming that the West has been attacking Russia for 200 years. All this talk about staging the chemical attack as a kind of Hollywood horror film and blaming it on the UK, combined with paranoia, seems highly delusional and worrying. Russia's leadership is in a very dangerous state right now, and could make a miscalculation and mistake. UK Government and Tass (13-Apr) and NBC News (13-Apr) and Russia Today (13-Apr) and BBC HardTalk

Syria blocks OPCW inspectors from visiting site of chemical attack

Syria has been for several days blocking the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) from inspecting the Douma site. The OPCW held an emergency meeting in Hague on Monday, and demanded immediate unfettered access to the site of the attack.

Russians have already been inspecting the site since the day after the April 7 chemical attack. We know that because the Russians have said that these "experts" had visited and determined that there was no evidence of a chemical attack. So these "experts" have already had ten days to clean up as much evidence as they can.

There were also reports by a correspondent on al-Jazeera that local Syrians in Douma are being threatened by Syrian security forces with violence to themselves and their families if they give the OPCW inspectors any evidence of the chemical attack.

Late on Monday, Syria said that they could go on Wednesday, April 18. Deutsche Welle and Tass (9-Apr) and Al-Jazeera

As Syria's al-Assad attacks Idlib, he may consider chemical weapons essential

The military strategy used by Bashar al-Assad in Douma and Ghouta, and earlier in Aleppo, depends heavily on repeated use of chemical weapons, particularly chlorine attacks. His objective in these cities is genocide and ethnic cleansing -- to kill as many Sunnis as possible, since he says that all Sunnis in these cities are terrorists, including women and children.

The problem that al-Assad has faced is that people hide in basements, and so clearing out the entire population of Sunnis requires destroying all buildings as much as possible, then house to house searches to find all the Sunnis still hiding from the army. That process will work, but it can take many months.

Use of chlorine gas speeds things up considerably. Chlorine is heavier than air, and the chlorine gas seeps into the basement of every home, forcing the women and children out into the open, where al-Assad can mop them up and kill them all simultaneously. This could save considerable time, and undoubtedly has already.

Idlib province presents special problems for al-Assad. Whereas Ghouta and Aleppo each had just a few hundred thousand residents, Idlib has over two million. In fact, many of the people who fled the violence in Aleppo and Ghouta ended up fleeing to Idlib. So for al-Assad, Idlib contains over two million terrorists.

To exterminate all those residents of Aleppo with just conventional weapons will take al-Assad a long time, possibly years. Al-Assad would like to mop up the entire population a lot more quickly than that.

There have been news reports that al-Assad has been smiling and happy since Saturday's coalition airstrikes, because even though a few buildings were demolished, the airstrikes actually gave al-Assad the green light he needs to proceed with ethnic cleansing and genocide in Idlib:

  • Saturday's attack was little more than a slap on the wrist for al-Assad. He undoubtedly has other labs that can produce chemical weapons, and he undoubtedly has other stocks of chemical weapons elsewhere.
  • The West has only condemned chemical weapons use by al-Assad, meaning that any other form of mass slaughter is perfectly acceptable.
  • In fact, al-Assad has conducted numerous chlorine attacks. The one on April 7 has been called out only because of the horrific videos. So al-Assad can even conduct further chemical weapons attacks, provided that he does something to prevent any viral videos.
  • Furthermore, if al-Assad uses chlorine gas again, it's likely that the international opposition to another strike on al-Assad's assets will make it impossible.

So Bashar al-Assad has plenty of reason to be smiling and happy now. He will undoubtedly use chlorine gas to force women and children out into the open where his missiles can kill masses of them simultaneously. Basically, there is nothing stopping him from committing any war crimes or ethnic cleansing or genocide in Idlib. Bashar al-Assad is the worst genocidal monster so far this century, and Vladimir Putin and Ayatollah Khamenei are war criminals for participating in his genocide. France Diplomatie and Reuters and AFP and Syria Deeply (29-Mar)

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Syria TV says that its Shayrat airbase has been attacked by missiles

Syria's state television says that its airbase at Shayrat in Homs province and Dumair military airport near Damascus have been attacked by missiles. Syria says that all missiles were shot down without reaching their targets.

Shayrat air base was the target of the US missile strikes launched by the US a year ago in response to Sarin gas attacks by Syria's president Bashar al-Assad on April 4, 2017.

However, in this case, the US says that there was no U.S. military activity in the area at that time.

This situation is similar to the one that occurred on Monday of last week, when Syria's T4 airbase was attacked by missiles, but not by American missiles. It turned out that the missile attack came from Israel. Reuters and Middle East Eye

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Apr-18 World View -- As Syria's al-Assad attacks Idlib, he may consider chemical weapons essential thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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16-Apr-18 World View -- Israel's top court orders 207 African migrants to be released from jail

Uganda first agrees to accept Israel's African migrants, then backs down

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Israel's top court orders 207 African migrants to be released from jail
  • Uganda first agrees to accept Israel's African migrants, then backs down

Israel's top court orders 207 African migrants to be released from jail


African migrants leaving prison on Sunday, after being freed by Israel's Supreme Court (Times of Israel)
African migrants leaving prison on Sunday, after being freed by Israel's Supreme Court (Times of Israel)

Israel's Interior Ministry on Sunday released 207 African migrants from Saharonim prison in southern Israel, by order of Israel's Supreme Count. The migrants were mostly from Eritrea and Sudan. According to the government, they were "infiltrators," or "illegal immigrants."

Israel's government had wanted to deport them to another country, but were unable to reach any agreement with a country. It was not announced what countries the government was negotiating with, but it's believed they were Rwanda and Uganda. The court had given the government until Sunday to reach agreement with another country, or else release the migrants from prison, and that's what happened.

Earlier this month, Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a major new policy for dealing with 16,250 of the migrants. Under a deal with the UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR), 16,250 African migrants under threat of being either jailed or deported to another African country, would instead be absorbed and resettled into a Western country. The deal also specifies that another 16,250 similarly threated migrants would be permitted to remain in Israel as "temporary residents."

Netanyahu originally said that the agreement was a "landmark achievement," allowing 16,250 migrants to be taken to "developed countries like Canada, or Germany and Italy." Canada announced that it would accept some migrants under the deal, but Germany and Italy announced that they were not part of the deal and hadn't been consulted. The deal was also opposed by many politicians in Israel, because it granted legal status to 16,250 "infiltrators." Within hours, Netanyahu was forced to suspend the deal entirely.

Uganda first agrees to accept Israel's African migrants, then backs down

For months there have been unconfirmed reports that Benjamin Netanyahu was negotiating with Rwanda and Uganda to accept Israel's African migrants, mostly from Eritrea and Sudan, in return for some unspecified payment. Netanyahu recently confirmed that negotiations with Rwanda had been going on for two years. However, under enormous pressure from pro-migrant activists both inside and outside Israel, Rwanda was finally forced to withdraw from the agreement.

Until Friday, Uganda consistently denied that a deportation deal with Israel exists, despite reports that it was accepting migrants deported from Israel.

On Friday, Musa Ecweru, Uganda's state minister of disaster preparedness and refugees, indicated that Uganda was ready to accept 500 migrants from Israel. According to Ecweru:

"The State of Israel working with other refugees’ managing organizations has requested Uganda to allow about 500 Eritreans and Sudanese refugees to relocate to Uganda. The Government and Ministry are positively considering the request.

We already have millions of refugees in Uganda from Somalia, Ethiopia so the few from Israel won’t be a problem to Uganda as a third party country.

We are slow but very sure on the issue of refugees that we host. To my knowledge, no refugees from Israel have come in yet. The ones coming are going to the settlement."

However, on Sunday, Netanyahu's special emissary to Uganda returned home after 11 days of negotiations with Uganda, apparently without a deal on migrants. Independent (Uganda) and Times of Israel

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Apr-18 World View -- Israel's top court orders 207 African migrants to be released from jail thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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15-Apr-18 World View -- Iran, Hezbollah and Syria threaten retaliation against Israel

American, British, French attack on Syria signals sharp change in Western policy

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • American, British, French attack on Syria signals sharp change in Western policy
  • Britain publishes its legal justification for military action
  • Iran, Hezbollah and Syria threaten retaliation against Israel

American, British, French attack on Syria signals sharp change in Western policy


Audience for Saturday's speech by Hezbollah leader Nasrallah (Reuters)
Audience for Saturday's speech by Hezbollah leader Nasrallah (Reuters)

As we reported on Friday evening, the joint attack on Syrian targets by American, British and French forces ended as quickly as it started. The attack was in retaliation for the attack on April 7 by Syria's president Bashar al-Assad on civilians in Douma, using chemical weapons.

The attack occurred at 4 am Syrian time, and was over in minutes. 105 missiles were launched, striking three Syrian chemical weapons targets. The military said that all missiles reached their target, and denied Syrian claims that most (or any) were shot down.

The attack was "one and done," according to Secretary of Defense James Mattis. However, Mattis and other US officials have stated clearly that another attack will follow if al-Assad uses chemical weapons again.

So America's message to Bashar al-Assad is pretty clear: "You may use barrel bombs, missiles, gunfire, and any other conventional weapons on neighborhoods, markets, schools and hospitals, and you may massacre and kill as many women and children as you want, with no retribution. Just don't use chemical weapons."

The targets and time of day of Saturday morning's attack were carefully chosen so as to avoid civilian casualties, particularly Russian casualties. The Russian military did not respond, and it was clear that both the US and Russian side did everything possible to avoid confronting each other.

However, the language used by Russia on Saturday was extremely bitter and angry. And according to Pentagon spokesman Dana White,

"The Russian disinformation campaign has already begun. There has been a 2000 per cent increase in Russian trolls in the last 24 hours."

As someone who is attacked constantly by Russian trolls, this is disheartening news.

At Saturday's UN Security Council meeting by Russia's ambassador Vasily Nebenzya expressed deep anger:

"The US and its allies continue to demonstrate blatant disregard for international law. You are constantly tempted by neocolonialism. You have nothing but disdain for the UN charter, and the Security Council. As a pretext for aggression, you mention the alleged use of chemical weapons in Douma, but after an investigation by Russian experts, it was proven unequivocally that no such attacks took place."

The invocation of international law by Russia is really laughable, as Russia has done everything from invading and annexing Crimea to support the worst genocidal monster so far this century, Bashar al-Assad, without getting approval for anything from the UN Security Council, yet Russian officials become apoplectic when the US or the West does anything to avoid their UNSC veto.

As I've been writing starting in 2011, Russia's president Vladimir Putin adopted a policy of using the UN Security Council to take control of US, Nato and Western foreign policy. Russia took any military action it pleased without getting UNSC approval, but demanded that any other country got UNSC approval for everything. By using its UNSC veto, Russia could effectively control American foreign policy.

This Russian policy has been extremely successful for years, crippling not only Western foreign policy, but the UN Security Council itself. I believe that success reached its peak with the March 4 poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, using a Russia-developed nerve agent Novichok. The British public was incensed that Russia put ordinary British citizens at risk by using Novichok in public, where anyone could be affected, but Russia made matters worse when Russia's president Vladimir Putin smirked and gave a sarcastic answer when a BBC reporter asked about it.

This was following by a series of moronic claims by Russia, including accusing Britain of poisoning the Skripals in order to embarrass Russia. Britain's foreign secretary Boris Johnson gave a furious response to these claims: "There is something in the kind of smug, sarcastic response that we’ve heard that indicates their fundamental guilt. They want to simultaneously deny it, yet at the same time to glory in it."

The Skripal poisoning was an international tipping point, uniting Britain and other nations to no longer tolerate Russia's strategy to use the UNSC to cripple Western foreign policy.

That's why Russian ambassador Vasily Nebenzya and other Russian officials are so bitterly angry. The policy they had successfully used for years is now collapsing in front of them.

Further remarks by the Russians have the appearance of hysterical desperation. There have been horrifying videos of al-Assad's April 7 chemical attack on Douma, but Nebenzya and other Russian officials are claiming that the chemical attack didn't even occur. They claim that the British government paid the "White Helmet" humanitarian workers in Douma to stage the horrifying videos as a Hollywood production. One gets the impression that the Russians as a nation are becoming completely delusional.

Meanwhile, Syrians in Damascus were dancing in the streets on Saturday, because the military strikes were not as bad as feared. Guardian (Australia) and The Hill

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Britain publishes its legal justification for military action

I've always believed that there was plenty of legal justification for American and Western military intervention in Syria. After al-Assad began targeting peaceful protesters in 2011, and particularly after he massacred thousands of innocent women and children in a Palestinian refugee camp in Latakia in August 2011, millions of Syrian citizens began fleeing into neighboring countries, including over a million reaching Europe. Any country has a responsibility to control its own population, but al-Assad had essentially weaponized refugees. If al-Assad can't control its own population, but instead uses them as a weapon, then any target is justified in intervening in the country.

In addition, al-Assad's attack on the Palestinian camp caused tens of thousands of Sunni jihadists to travel from around the world to fight al-Assad. These foreign jihadists formed the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), which has launched terror attacks on other countries. Once again, if al-Assad can't control ISIS, then any country threatened by ISIS is justified in intervening. In fact, the US military intervention in Syria has succeeded in recapturing all territory formerly occupied by ISIS, although ISIS is far from completely defeated.

So the West certainly has plenty of justifications for military intervention in Syria, but al-Assad's use of chemical weapons doubles down on those justifications.

But in the end, the justification for this kind of military action has less to do with international law, and more to do with domestic politics. For that reason, the British government has published a humanitarian justification policy paper for Saturday's military action. Here's a brief summary:

The Syrian regime's use of chemical weapons is a war crime and a crime against humanity.

Under international law, the UK may use force for humanitarian intervention, provided that three conditions are met:

  • Convincing evidence of extreme humanitarian distress on a large scale, requiring immediate and urgent relief;
  • There is no practicable alternative to use of force, if lives are to be saved.
  • The proposed use of force must be necessary and proportionate to the aim of relief of humanitarian suffering,

The policy paper goes on to explain why all three conditions have been met. BBC and UK Government

Iran, Hezbollah and Syria threaten retaliation against Israel

Although the debate over Saturday's airstrikes has dominated news coverage since the April 7 chemical attack, there's a completely different parallel issue in play, which may be even more dangerous.

On Monday last week, Israel attacked Syria's T4 airbase (Tayfur airport), because the airbase is considered a threat to Israel. Apparently seven Iranians were killed in the attack.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah says that the attack put Israel into direct combat with Iran:

"You made a historic mistake and a great folly which brings you into direct confrontation with Iran.

This is the first time in 7 years that the Israelis have deliberately killed Iranian revolutionary guards. Attacking T-4 airport is a pivotal incident in the history of the region that can’t be ignored.

Iran is not a weak or a cowardly state, and you know that well. The Israeli have false calculation. You will have to face the Islamic Republic of Iran.

All those thousands of terrorists in Syria do not concern the Israeli while they have every kind of weapons, however, they are afraid of just few revolutionary guards there."

According to the BBC, Syria, Iran and Russia are all expressing quiet relief that Saturday's missile attack was considerably more limited than was expected. But it did evoke a sense of greater defiance, with the three entities calling themselves the "Axis of Resistance," and referring to Western powers as "paper tigers," a phrase used by China's Mao Zedong in the 1960s to describe the United States.

It's generally believed that Iran must retaliate for Israel's airstrike, killing several Iranian revolutionary guards. This could be a far more dangerous confrontation than even Saturday's missile strikes.

Long time readers are aware that Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other. Events appear to be moving very quickly now. Al Manar (Hezbollah) and Reuters and Al-Jazeera

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Apr-18 World View -- Iran, Hezbollah and Syria threaten retaliation against Israel thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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14-Apr-18 World View -- DR Congo boycotts its own international humanitarian conference for DR Congo

U.S., France, Britain launch Syria attack in retaliation for al-Assad's use of chemical weapons

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • UN says DR Congo humanitarian crisis at highest emergency level
  • DR Congo boycotts its own international humanitarian conference for DR Congo
  • U.S., France, Britain launch Syria attack in retaliation for al-Assad's use of chemical weapons

UN says DR Congo humanitarian crisis at highest emergency level


A refugee Congolese woman and children (dpa)
A refugee Congolese woman and children (dpa)

Jan Egeland, the former head of the UN's emergency humanitarian relief office, was shocked by the catastrophic and growing humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and how the international community is ignoring the DRC crisis:

"This is up there with Yemen and Syria in terms of number of people in desperate need. I was not prepared of for the scale of the suffering, frankly.

Since the Congolese are not coming to the Mediterranean, since the Congolese are not part of a Russian-US or Saudi-Iran battle, they are being ignored really."

According to the United Nations, 13 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, 4.5 million people are displaced from their homes, more than 7 million face severe food insecurity, and two million children at risk of starvation.

In the past, I've written about the bloody wars in the southwestern Kasai region, where the armies and militias reporting to the government of president Joseph Kabila are committing genocide; about the bloody tribal wars in northeastern Kivu region, causing massive refugee flows into Uganda; about the massive corruption of Joseph Kabila, skimming billions of dollars out of the treasury and providing it to his family and cronies; and of his repeated stunts of refusing to hold elections, so that he can't be replaced as president.

As we reported in February, another a humanitarian disaster of "extraordinary proportions" emerged in Tanganyika province in southeastern DRC. For several years, there have been bloody clashes between two ethnic groups, the Luba, a Bantu ethnic group, and the Twa, a Pygmy ethnic group. The violence surged in January of this year with the entrance of the president Kabila's Congolese armed forces.

The increasing violence is destabilizing the entire region. As we reported in December, the genocide by Kabila's army has resulted in 3.9 million people forced to flee their homes to escape the violence. Hundreds of thousands have fled to Zambia, Angola and other neighboring countries as refugees, creating a humanitarian disaster in those countries.

Since the beginning of the year, 70,000 Congolese in eastern DRC have fled across the border into Uganda. 40,000 Congolese refugees have been settled into a single refugee camp, the Kyangwali refugee camp, in Uganda on the border in DRC. The Kyangwali camp is overcrowded and running out of space. Because of a lack of humanitarian aid, not everyone is being fed. There's also shortage of clean water, with each person receiving just 8 liters per day, while the average person requires 20 liters. The result has been the spread of cholera, with 1,000 cases of cholera already identified. BBC and Al-Jazeera

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DR Congo boycotts its own international humanitarian conference for DR Congo

The United Nations International Organization for Migration (IOM) sponsored a humanitarian conference for Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), meeting on Friday in Geneva. The purpose of the conference was to raise funds for humanitarian aid to DRC.

The conference drew $530 million in pledges, less than 1/3 of the estimated $1.7 billion needed. Refugee official Jan Egeland said, "We are disappointed that too few countries sent a real message of hope to the millions of Congolese children, women and men in desperate need of assistance."

Even more startling is that one of the countries that boycotted the humanitarian conference was DR Congo itself.

According to Zenon Mukongo Nga, DRC's ambassador to the United Nations, DRC officials are furious about the description of DRC as a failed state. In particular, they dispute the the UN estimate that 13 million people need humanitarian aid, and they say that only 200,000 people are internally displaced.

"The level of humanitarian situation was raised to 'level three', the worst of all the levels in the world, meaning exactly that DR Congo has been compared to the countries where there is chaos, where the state has collapsed, where there is nothing working so far. And this drove people mad . "

We have our own figures which should be confronted with UN figures because, sometimes people are just sitting in their offices in Geneva, in New York, and they just get reports from each people who are on the ground. Sometimes they don't go really on the ground. We have people everywhere and the figures we have are the real ones."

Although no real explanation for the DRC boycott of their own humanitarian conference has been provided, it appears to be another cynical action by president Joseph Kabila, one of the bloodiest and most corrupt leaders in the world.

Kabila was to have stepped down as president in December 2016. However, he refused to allow elections to go forward, and without elections he could not step down. Since then, he's made no preparations for elections, and he's used violence, torture and jailings to suppress protests, as he continues to stay in office illegally.

At first he promised to hold elections in December 2017, but it was clear that those elections would never be held, as he refused to make any preparations for them. Now he's promising elections in December 2018, and the international community has threatened to cut off aid if the elections are not held.

At the same time, Kabila and his family own, either partially or wholly, more than 80 companies and businesses in the country and abroad. He and his children own more than 71,000 hectares (175,444 acres) of farmland. His family owns diamond mines, a part of the country's largest mobile phone network, companies that mine mineral deposits, gold and limestone, a luxury hotel, stakes in an airline, a share of the country's banks, and a fast-food franchise.

So there is literally no possibility that Kabila will ever agree to step down, since if he does then his family's entire corrupt empire will be put into danger, and many members of his family could be jailed on charges of corruption.

Humanitarian aid does not go to the government. It's given to NGOs that provide food, water, medicine and humanitarian services to actual people. And Kabila couldn't care less for the needs of ordinary Congolese people.

DRC officials have indicated that what particularly infuriates them about the characterization of a "humanitarian disaster" in DRC is that such a characterization discourages investors. And money from investors goes to government officials, where it will pass into the bank accounts of Kabila and his family. Bloomberg and UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) and Deutsche Welle and Relief Web

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U.S., France, Britain launch Syria attack in retaliation for al-Assad's use of chemical weapons


Early Saturday morning in Damascus, Syria, surface to air missiles light up the sky (AP)
Early Saturday morning in Damascus, Syria, surface to air missiles light up the sky (AP)

As I am writing this article on Friday evening (ET), the United States, France and Britain launched coordinated missile strikes on three targets in Syria, two in Damascus, one near Homs, all related to manufacture and storage of chemical weapons.

The following are some preliminary notes on the announcements.

President Trump announced that the attacks will continue "until the Syrian regime stops using chemical weapons."

However, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said that the operation was completed, once the three targets were hit.

If both of these statements are true, it would have to mean there will be additional operations if the regime continues using chemical weapons.

There will be debates in Congress whether Trump had the authority to order these strikes without Congressional approval.

Some people are arguing that UN Security Council approval would also be needed, but as we've been writing lately, the Russians have been using the UNSC to control US foreign policy by requiring all operations to be approved by the UNSC, where Russia has veto power, while Russia goes ahead with any operations it wants, such as invading and annexing Crimea, without seeking UNSC approval. Earlier this week, US ambassador Nikki Haley announced that, in effect, the US would conduct an operation with or without UNSC and Russian approval.

Russia did not attempt to strike down the incoming missiles, suggesting that Russia might be tacitly approving of the missile strikes. Mattis said that Russia was not notified in advance, but that a standard phone call was made over the joint US-Russia deconfliction phone line.

However, Syrian media claims that its air defenses shot down some missiles.

After Trump has set a firm "red line" about chemical weapons, Trump had no choice but to go through with a strike on Syrian targets.

Friday's strike was an essential message to the North Koreans as the planned summit meeting between Trump and Kim Jong-un approaches. If Trump had backed down from a missile strike, then America would have had no credibility whatsoever in the summit meeting.

Last year's missile strike did not deter al-Assad from continuing to use chemical weapons, and the latest strike may be equally ineffective. Even if al-Assad stops using chemical weapons, the message to al-Assad is that the only things the west cares about are chemical weapons and ISIS. Al-Assad is free to use barrel bombs and any conventional weapons that he wants on women and children. In fact, al-Assad is expected to move on to his next massive, genocidal target, Idlib province, with one million displaced people. NBC News and Washington Post

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Apr-18 World View -- DR Congo boycotts its own international humanitarian conference for DR Congo thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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13-Apr-18 World View -- Japan finds 'semi-infinite supply' of rare earth minerals in its territorial waters

Japan's rare earths discovery represents a defeat for China

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Japan finds 'semi-infinite supply' of rare earth minerals in its territorial waters
  • Japan's rare earths discovery represents a defeat for China

Japan finds 'semi-infinite supply' of rare earth minerals in its territorial waters


Researchers have found rare earth minerals just 2-4 meters below the seabed, at a depth of almost four miles.  (Telegraph)
Researchers have found rare earth minerals just 2-4 meters below the seabed, at a depth of almost four miles. (Telegraph)

In January 2013, a deep-sea research vessel from Japan obtained seven samples of mud collected two to four meters below the seafloor at 5,600 to 5,800 meters in depth, near Japan's Minami-Tori-shima Island, also known as Marcus Island, within Japan's exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Analyzing the mud revealed that it contained extreme concentrations of rare earth minerals. Continued research since then has led to an announcement that the region contains more than 16 million tons of rare earth minerals. These elements are needed to build high-tech products ranging from mobile phones to electric vehicles.

This find is being described as a "semi-infinity" supply of rare earth minerals, enough to supply all of Japan's needs for well over a century. However, getting at the resources will be an issue, since they're almost four miles underwater. Japan Times and Fortune and Nikkei Asian Review

Japan's rare earths discovery represents a defeat for China

China's theft of intellectual property from other nations is a subject much in the news these days, and China's near-monopoly on rare earth minerals has been a mechanism for exactly that kind of theft.

As I've said frequently in the past, people who "there won't be a war because it's bad for business" are wrong. In fact the opposite is true, since trade becomes just another weapon of war.

In 2009, there was a brief clash between China and Japan in the East China Sea, and China decided to punish Japan and get revenge by ending shipments to Japan of rare earth minerals. This was a significant blow for Japanese manufacturing, since Japan needed these minerals for manufacture of their high tech products, and Japan was dependent on being supplied by China.

This became a major foreign policy for China.

As Yasuhiro Kato from Tokyo University has pointed out, "Their real intention is to force foreign companies to locate plant in China. They're saying `if you want our rare earth metals, you must build your factory here, and we can then steal your technology."

In 2012, China stepped up the revenge against Japan. The Beijing government encouraged the Chinese people to demonstrate and protest against Japanese businesses in China. The government urged protesters not to use violence, but that part of the message was clearly ignored, as protesters torched a Panasonic factory and Toyota dealership, looted and ransacked Japanese department stores and supermarkets in several cities.

It became clear to the Japanese that they would need to find an alternate supply of rare earth minerals, and that's what motivated the deep-sea research project that made the initial discovery in 2013, leading to the "semi-infinite" supply of rare earths announced this week.

The new supply of rare earths has to be described as a defeat for China, because once Japan is successful in mining this new supply, the China will be unable to use rare earths as a weapon of war. The Diplomat (29-Aug-2017) and Telegraph (London, 24-Mar-2013)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Apr-18 World View -- Japan finds 'semi-infinite supply' of rare earth minerals in its territorial waters thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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12-Apr-18 World View -- The world awaits Trump's promised retaliation for al-Assad's chemical weapons attack

Israel braces for attack from Iran in retaliation for Sunday's airstrike

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • The world awaits Trump's promised retaliation for al-Assad's chemical weapons attack
  • Israel braces for attack from Iran in retaliation for Sunday's airstrike
  • Turkey to open a new border crossing to Syria's Afrin
  • Yemen war escalates as Iran-backed Houthis launch missiles at Saudi targets

The world awaits Trump's promised retaliation for al-Assad's chemical weapons attack


Survivor of Saturday's chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria (Getty)
Survivor of Saturday's chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria (Getty)

President Donald Trump on Sunday had promised retaliation within 24-48 hours for the use of chemical weapons by Syria's president Bashar al-Assad on Saturday on civilians, including women and children.

However, by Wednesday evening, no retaliation has occurred, and the world is watching and waiting. But the rhetoric between Russia and the US has heated up a great deal.

Alexander Zasypkin, Russia's ambassador to Lebanon, said on Wednesday:

"if there is a US missile attack, we - in line with both Putin and Russia's chief of staff's remarks - will shoot down US rockets and even the sources that launched the missiles."

Zasypkin was alluding to a previous Russian threat to shoot down not only American missiles, but also the warplanes and battleships that launches them.

This only served to goad president Trump, who tweeted this:

"Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and "smart!" You shouldn't be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!"

However, Trump was more conciliatory in a later tweet:

"Our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War. There is no reason for this. Russia needs us to help with their economy, something that would be very easy to do, and we need all nations to work together. Stop the arms race?"

Long time readers are aware that Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other.

Saturday's chemical weapons attack by al-Assad has caused a chain reaction that has raised tensions in the Mideast to the next level higher than they'd been before Saturday. Here's a summary:

  • Israel and Iran appear headed for a proxy war in Syria.
  • Saudi Arabia and Iran are fighting a proxy war in Yemen.
  • The U.S. and Syria are headed for a confrontation in Syria.
  • The U.S. and Russia may be headed for a confrontation in Syria.
  • Turkey and Russia are headed for a confrontation in Syria.

Perhaps even more remarkable is that the political divide in the West, including the United States, is getting more hostile, and not just along party lines. It's increasingly hostile to hear American analysts and journalists side with Russia trolls in claiming that there's "no proof" that Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons or Sarin gas, in the face of conclusions reached by America, British, French, German and other governments.

Russia has lied repeatedly about Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, and other things, and for an American analyst to side with Russian trolls against multiple Western governments is truly a remarkable development. And as I reported yesterday, this has even extended to the point where Newsweek magazine is publishing easily debunkable fake news US Secretary of Defense is claiming that no evidence exists that al-Assad ever used Sarin gas.

So let me try to make this clear.

Since the Syrian war began, I've written 359 analytical articles with "Syria" in the title, and hundreds more where Syria was discussed, but not in the title. These articles are all available on my web site for anyone to check.

I have an archive of almost 100,000 articles that I've copied and pasted in the last 15 years. Over 3,000 of those articles have "Syria" in the title, and probably tens of thousands more discuss the Syria war. These articles are from all political biases and from all media sources and all countries available on the internet. I typically study 10-20 of these articles in detail for each article that I write.

My point is this: 99.9% of the time, I know a lot more than you do. And I'm telling you that there's no doubt that Bashar al-Assad has used Sarin gas several times on innocent civilians, and has used chlorine gas, phosphorous and ammonia many, many times on innocent civilians. There is no question about this.

But the fact that some Americans are calling officials in both the Barack Obama and Donald Trump administrators liars, and are saying that paid Russian trolls are telling the truth, is truly a remarkable development. Al-Jazeera and CNN and Reuters

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Israel braces for attack from Iran in retaliation for Sunday's airstrike

On Sunday, president Donald Trump threatened a "big price to pay" after the chemical weapons attack by Syria's president Bashar al-Assad on Douma on Saturday. As I was writing an article about this and on Sunday evening, Syria's state media reported a missile attack on Syria's T4 airbase (Tayfur airport) near Homs. US officials denied having anything to do with the attack, so it was thought that some other country, perhaps Britain, France or Israel, might have been fulfilling Trump's "big price to pay" threat.

Well, news reports since then have indicated that the missile strike on T4 airbase had nothing to do with Trump's threat, except possibly to influence the timing. According to Iranian media, the attack was from Israeli warplanes.

If it was an Israeli airstrike, then the target was an Iranian drone base. Israel has repeatedly expressed its red lines when it comes to Syria:

  • It will not allow the transfer of high-powered weapons to Hezbollah.
  • It will not allow any breach of Israeli sovereignty.
  • It will work to prevent Iran from entrenching itself in Syria.

Israel neither confirmed nor denied the airstrike, but Israel's Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman made these comments:

"I want to say one thing with absolute certainty. We will not allow the Iranians to base themselves in Syria, no matter what the price. We have no other choice. To agree to the Iranians basing themselves in Syria is like agreeing to Iran putting a noose around our neck."

Iran's media is reporting that four Iranians were killed by the Israeli airstrikes.

Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Seyed Ali Khamenei, said:

"The Israeli regime's aggression against Syria is a breach of this country's national sovereignty and territorial integrity and runs counter to all international regulations and principles."

Velayati added, "Definitely, this crime (by Israel) will not remain without a response."

Israeli forces have gone onto high alert, and Israeli media are talking about a "proxy war between Iran and Israel" taking place on Syrian soil:

"Beyond the confrontation between Russia and the United States, the main story in the northern arena is the direct confrontation between Israel and Iran on Syrian soil. There is no more shadow war or contest through agents. The confrontation between Israel and Iran, it seems, is turning into a limited direct military confrontation. It is impossible to ignore the fact that within two months, in at least two known incidents, Iranian fighters and officers were killed by an action attributed to the Israeli Air Force. It seems that in light of the continued Iranian consolidation in Syria, Israel has decided to remove the gloves.

After the day of battle two months ago, when the Iranian UAV was intercepted and an Israeli fighter plane was shot down, quite a few things happened underneath the surface, despite the apparent media silence."

Former prime minister and defense minister Ehud Barak said, “When on a given day, the chance for [active military conflict with Iran] are about one percent, now it is about 10%." CNN and Tasnim News (Iran) and Jerusalem Post and Times of Israel

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Turkey to open a new border crossing to Syria's Afrin

Turkey on Wednesday announced plans to open a new border crossing from Turkey to the Syrian city of Afrin. The purpose of the border crossing is to speed up delivery of humanitarian aid to the city, and help build infrastructure in the region.

However, the border crossing will also strengthen Turkey's link to Afrin, which is opposed by Russia, Iran and Syria.

Turkey's military Operation Olive Branch took place over several months, with the objective of regaining control of Syria's border city of Afrin from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG). The YPG is linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is considered by the US and Europe as a terrorist organization, and has conducted numerous terrorist attacks within Turkey over a thirty year period.

Now that the operation has been completely, apparently successfully, Russia, Iran and Syria would all like the Turkish forces to withdraw back into Turkey. Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday:

"[Turkish] President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan has never said that Turkey wants to occupy Afrin. We always proceed from the fact that the easiest way to normalize the situation in Afrin now that Turkish representatives say that the main goals they set there have been achieved would be to return the territory under the control of the Syrian government."

However, Erdogan rejected Lavrov's remarks:

"We know very well who we’ll hand Afrin to. First, let’s talk about handing over areas controlled by other countries in Syria to Syria.

When the time comes, we will give Afrin to the people of Afrin personally, but the timing of this is up to us, we will determine it, not Mr. Lavrov."

Turkey, Russia and Iran have had a three-way alliance of convenience for several months, creating "de-escalation zones" in Syria. However, neither the Syrian regime nor any of the Syrian rebel groups doing the actual fighting were party to the agreements. Whatever the value of that alliance, it appears to be losing whatever little effectiveness it had, and increasingly is fraying, as all the participants in the Syrian war are looking forward to grabbing their respective pieces of Syria. Anadolu (Turkey) and Sputnik (Russia) and Reuters

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Yemen war escalates as Iran-backed Houthis launch missiles at Saudi targets

The Houthi rebels in Yemen declared this to be the "year of ballistic missiles," after firing a ballistic missiles on Wednesday at targets in Saudi Arabia's capital city Riyadh, and also at oil storage facilities belonging to the Saudi oil company Aramco. The missiles either missed their targets or were shot down by Saudi air defenses, but a successful strike on an oil storage facility could do a great deal of damage.

Last week, Houthi rebels caused minor damage to a Saudi oil tanker in the Red Sea on Tuesday. The oil tanker was able to continue on its way, escorted by a Saudi coalition warship.

The Houthis are using ballistic missiles and armed drones that could only have been supplied by Iran. Saudi threatened "a heavy price" for the Houthis, and for those who are equipping the Houthis. Al Jazeera and Reuters and Arab News and Deutsche Welle (3-Apr)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Apr-18 World View -- The world awaits Trump's promised retaliation for al-Assad's chemical weapons attack thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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11-Apr-18 World View -- Major multi-national military operation planned for Syria after Sarin gas use

Russia's Andrey Klimov: Sarin gas attack is just a Hollywood movie

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Fake news: Newsweek says Mattis denied any evidence that Assad used Sarin gas
  • Haley announces major change in policy regarding Russia and Security Council
  • Major multi-national military operation planned for Syria after Sarin gas use
  • Russia's Andrey Klimov: Sarin gas attack is just a Hollywood movie

Fake news: Newsweek says Mattis denied any evidence that Assad used Sarin gas


Children being medically treated in Douma Syria after chemical weapons attack (AP)
Children being medically treated in Douma Syria after chemical weapons attack (AP)

I've had trolls referring to a February Newsweek article that says that US Secretary of Defense James Mattis claims that there is "no evidence" that Syria's president Bashar al-Assad had ever used Sarin gas.

This is totally fake news, as suggested by the fact that the Newsweek article did not give a link to the transcript of the press briefing where Mattis supposedly made this remark, which they could easily have done.

I actually went to the trouble to track down the transcript -- which incidentally wasn't hard at all, and took about 30 seconds, which is another indication that the Newsweek article was a full-fledged hoax. We have to assume that Ian Wilkie, the author of the article, is one of Russia's army of paid internet trolls, and moonlights for Newsweek.

Mattis was giving a press conference and answering questions thrown at him by reporters. The press conference covered various subjects, including Ukraine and Afghanistan, and the questions about Syria are scattered throughout the transcript. Here are some excerpts:

"We think that they did not carry out what they said they would do back when -- in the previous administration, when they were caught using it. Obviously they didn't, cause they used it again during our administration."

According to Mattis, what they said they were going to do in 2013, when they were caught using Sarin gas, was to destroy all their stocks of chemical weapons, but obviously they didn't do that, since they've used chemical weapons repeatedly, and used Sarin gas again during the Trump administration (on April 4, 2017).

Mattis continued answering questions about chemical weapons attacks in 2018. He said that chlorine gas has been used recently, and he's looking for evidence whether Sarin gas has also been used recently:

"And that gives us a lot of reason to suspect them. And now we have other reports from the battlefield from people who claim it's been used.

We do not have evidence of it [Sarin gas]. But we're not refuting them; we're looking for evidence of it. Since clearly we are using -- we are dealing with the Assad regime that has used denial and deceit to hide their outlaw actions, okay? ... Well, there's certainly groups that say they've used it. And so they think there's a likelihood, so we're looking for the evidence. ...

I think [chlorine gas weapons have] been used repeatedly. And that's, as you know, a somewhat separate category, which is why I broke out the sarin as another. ...

No, I have not got the evidence, not specifically [that Sarin gas is being used]. I don't have the evidence.

What I'm saying is that other -- that groups on the ground, NGOs, fighters on the ground have said that sarin has been used. So we are looking for evidence. I don't have evidence, credible or uncredible.

That press conference occurred in February, and apparently no recent evidence of Sarin gas was found.

By the way, check out the beginning of the transcript, where Mattis mocks the NY Times for fake news, saying that the reporter interviewing him apparently wasn't even listening to him.

"I salute whatever you write. You have the right to write anything. I thought it was especially humorous that we didn't realize we were still on the -- on the video teleconference, since one of the people on the screen was talking with us at the same time. I guess we were talking to ourselves and imagining the person on the screen. Yeah, I got a kick out of it, frankly."

Later in the transcript, he says, "See, right now, we're at a point where ISIS is on the ropes. It’s obvious -- you know -- for all the questions and challenges I had in this room over the last year, I think now it's pretty much undeniable that they're in trouble. ... So we want to get back to finishing off ISIS." Newsweek (8-Feb) and Bellingcat (9-Feb) and U.S. Dept. of Defense (2-Feb)

Haley announces major change in policy regarding Russia and Security Council

On April 6 of last year, president Donald Trump ordered cruise missile attacks on the Shayrat Airbase in Syria, from which Bashar al-Assad had launched Sarin gas attacks on civilians on April 4. Trump had been moved to action after seeing pictures small children struggling to breathe, gasping for breath, and choking to death. The cruise missile attack was meant to be a warning to al-Assad not to use Sarin gas again.

Now there have been new pictures of choking children, following al-Assad's latest Sarin gas attack on civilians on Sunday, and Trump is furious again. This time, Trump went farther, blaming not only al-Assad, but also his backers in Russia and Iran:

"Very concerned, when a thing like that can happen, this is about humanity. We're talking about humanity. And it can't be allowed to happen. So we'll be looking at that barbaric act and studying what's going on. If it's Russia, if it's Syria, if it's Iran, if it's all of them together, we'll figure it out and we'll know the answers quite soon."

At the United Nations Security Council on Monday, US ambassador Nikki Haley went a lot farther in the administration condemnation of Syria, Iran and Russia:

"I could hold up pictures of babies, lying dead next to their mothers. Brothers and sisters. Toddlers and infants still in diapers. All lying together, dead. Their skin is the ashen blue that is now tragically familiar from chemical weapons scenes. Their eyes are open and lifeless. White foam bubbles from their mouths and noses. Pictures of dead Syrians who are not soldiers. People who are not armed. People who are the very definition of innocent and non-threatening – women and children hiding in basements from a renewed assault by Bashar Al-Assad. Families that were hiding underground to escape Assad’s conventional bombs and artillery. ...

I could hold up pictures of survivors. Children with burning eyes, choking for breath. I could hold up pictures of first responders washing the chemicals off of the victims. Putting respirators on the children. First responders walking through room after room of families lying motionless, with babies still in the arms of their mothers and fathers. I could show pictures of a hospital attacked by the chemical weapons. I could show pictures of hospitals struck by barrel bombs following the chemical attack.

Ambulances and rescue vehicles have been repeatedly attacked, maximizing the number of dead civilians. Civil defense centers have been attacked in order to paralyze the medical response – to increase the suffering of the survivors.

Who does this? Only a monster does this. Only a monster targets civilians and then ensures that there are no ambulances to transfer the wounded. No hospitals to save their lives. No doctors or medicine to ease their pain.

I could hold up pictures of all of this killing and suffering for the Council to see, but what would be the point? The monster who was responsible for these attacks has no conscience, not even to even be shocked by pictures of dead children.

The Russian regime, whose hands are all covered in the blood of Syrian children, cannot be ashamed by pictures of its victims. We’ve tried that before. We must not overlook Russia and Iran’s roles in enabling the Assad regime’s murderous destruction. Russia and Iran have military advisers at Assad’s airfields and operations centers. Russian officials are on the ground helping direct the regime’s “starve and surrender” campaign, and Iranian allied forces do much of the dirty work. When the Syrian military pummels civilians, they rely on the military hardware given by Russia.

Russia could stop this senseless slaughter if it wanted. But it stands with the Assad regime and supports without any hesitation.

What’s the point of trying to shame such people? After all, no civilized government would have anything to do with Assad’s murderous regime. Pictures of dead children mean little to governments like Russia who expend their own resources to prop up Assad."

That was all by way of introduction to the following significant and explicit United States policy change:

"Russia’s obstructionism will not continue to hold us hostage when we are confronted with an attack like this one. The United States is determined to see that the monster who dropped chemical weapons on the Syrian people held to account. ...

We are on the edge of a dangerous precipice. The great evil of chemical weapons use that once unified the world in opposition, is on the verge of becoming the new normal. The international community must not let this happen.

We are beyond showing pictures of dead babies. We are beyond appeals to conscience. We have reached the moment when the world must see justice done. History will record this as the moment when the Security Council either discharged its duty or demonstrated its utter and complete failure to protect the people of Syria.

Either way, the United States will respond."

The reason that this is significant is because it makes clear that the U.S. will no longer be bound by Russia's vetoes in the Security Council. As I've been writing numerous times since 2011, Russia adopted a policy of using the UNSC to control US and Nato foreign policy by demanding that any military decision be approved by the UNSC, where Russia could veto it. At the same time, Russia could invade Ukraine, invade and annex Crimea, and perform other international crimes, and go ahead with them without bothering to get UNSC approval. Not only would Russia control US and Nato foreign policy, Nato countries would turn against each other in confusion over how to respond.

So when Nikki Haley says, "Either way, the United States will respond," she's declaring the end of the policy of allowing Russia's veto to control U.S. policy. She's saying to Russia: veto the resolution or not, as you wish, but we're going ahead with a military operation. CNBC and U.S. State Dept.

Major multi-national military operation planned for Syria after Sarin gas use

As I'm writing this on Tuesday evening (ET), there are reports that a military attack may be imminent. Britain, France and Qatar are openly supporting the Trump administration's plans for a military operation in Syria.

The military attack will have to be significant and massive, since last year's "warning" attack had no effect.

Some analysts are suggesting that the military operation might be led by France, rather than by the U.S. If true, it would be a further humiliation for Vladimir Putin, who has been using the UNSC to turn the Nato countries against each other. This display of unity by France, Britain, Qatar and the U.S. would be a united front against Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin. AP

Russia's Andrey Klimov: Sarin gas attack is just a Hollywood movie

Every time one of these situations occurs, Russia unleashes its army of paid trolls to make laughable claims and spread disinformation. One of the best of these troll storms occurred after Russians in East Ukraine shot down the Malaysian Airlines MH17 passenger plane with a Russian-made Buk missile, bragged about it in a tweet, then pulled down the tweet. Russian media and trolls went into full-on troll mode, making one ridiculous claim after another: Russian commander Strelkov's tweet had never occurred; the US had shot down MH17 to embarrass Russia; the airplane was struck by a meteor; no living people were aboard the plane as it flew on autopilot from Amsterdam, where it had been pre-loaded with "rotting corpses."

So now we have a new troll storm. Andrey Klimov, a Senator in the Russia's Duma, was interviewed on the BBC, and I transcribed excerpts of the interview.

Klimov's main point is that the Sarin gas attack never happened, but was staged as a Hollywood movie:

"It looks like an artificial performance, like a kind of movie, to make that provocation visible. But I can't say for sure that it may be any real occasion of chemical weapons in this area. It looks like a provocation. It looks like a Hollywood movie.

[Referring to the images of choking children, and children having to be hosed down with water.] You're just repeating somebody's rumors. I'm speaking about facts, because there are no real facts on the ground. But we'd like to find those who produced such kinds of fake news, because those people are interested in keeping such kind of confrontation in the world. And we'd like to find that bastard, to show to the world that they're a bastard."

Well Andrey, you have control of Damascus and Douma, so don't just complain, start searching for the bastard. We'd all like to know who he or she is.

Klimov also reacted to Trump's threat of a military operation in Syria:

"They have no right to do that in any case, because no kind of power granted on the part of the United Nations. Nobody asked them from Damascus to do that. It's a kind of invasion. It's a kind of occupation. It cannot be acceptable in today's world. It is out of any kind of international law. Nobody appointed them as international policeman, or international judge, or international prosecutor. They're going to do it themselves, and that cannot be acceptable at all."

This is a laughable invocation of international law from the Russians, who ignore international law, but it's precisely the policy that Russia has been following since 2011. Russia breaks international law recklessly, never asking the UN Security Council for approval, but then demands that the West get approval for anything from the UNSC, where Russia can veto it. This is Russia's policy that Nikki Haley specifically rejected on Monday.

It's gotten to the point where these Russian officials and trolls are just plain pathetic, because nobody believes their rantings any more. Vladimir Putin really needs to come up with a new policy.

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Apr-18 World View -- Major multi-national military operation planned for Syria after Sarin gas use thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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10-Apr-18 World View -- Viktor Orbán's Fidesz party victory in Hungary signals strong European move to the right

Viktor Orbán's Fidesz anti-migrant party wins overwhelming victory in Hungary

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Viktor Orbán's Fidesz anti-migrant party wins overwhelming victory in Hungary
  • Europe as a whole moves steadily to the right

Viktor Orbán's Fidesz anti-migrant party wins overwhelming victory in Hungary


Anti-immigrant leaders in Europe: Hungary's Viktor Orbán (R) with Poland's premier Mateusz Morawiecki at the most recent EU summit (consilium.europa.eu)
Anti-immigrant leaders in Europe: Hungary's Viktor Orbán (R) with Poland's premier Mateusz Morawiecki at the most recent EU summit (consilium.europa.eu)

On Sunday, Hungary's right-wing, anti-immigrant, and anti-EU, Fidesz party won an overwhelming political victory on a high turnout, giving Viktor Orbán his third consecutive term as prime minister of Hungary.

With almost all the votes counted, Fidesz has won 134 seats in the 199 seat parliament, giving Fidesz a two-thirds "super-majority." With this super-majority, Orbán will be able to modify Hungary's constitution to give himself additional powers, possibly dictatorial powers, and to make sure that he will be reelected for many years to come.

In celebrating his victory, Orbán said:

"There is a big battle behind us. We have won. Today Hungary had a decisive victory. We have the chance to defend Hungary."

By "defend Hungary," Orbán meant defend it from migrants.

Poland is congratulating Orbán on his victory. Poland’s deputy foreign minister and envoy to the European Union, Konrad Szymanski said:

"It’s a confirmation of Central Europe’s emancipation policy. Emancipation not directed at fighting anybody but at making Central Europe visible as a very constructive European and European Union partner."

By "emancipation," Szymanski is not talking about freeing some slaves. He's talking about emancipating Poland from the policies of Brussels, particularly policies about resettling migrants that arrive in Greece or Italy. Poland's nationalist government shares Orbán's view that Muslim migrants threaten Europe's "Christian" heritage.

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 several countries, led by Hungary and Poland, refused to resettle any refugees at all. In the end, only about 30,000 refugees were ever resettled under this plan.

Some observers have accused Orbán of using anti-semitic "dog whistle' remarks during the campaign. They point to Orbán's frequent use in campaign ads of the Hungarian Jewish billionaire George Soros as the symbol of foreign influence in Hungary. In March, Orbán said:

"We are fighting an enemy that is different from us. Not open but hiding; not straightforward but crafty; not honest but base; does not believe in working but speculates with money; does not have its own homeland but feels it owns the whole world."

Many observers believe that these remarks were anti-semitic, intended to target Soros as a Jew. Reuters and Forward and BBC

Europe as a whole moves steadily to the right

Orbán's Fidesz party won an overwhelming victory with a 134 seat super-majority in the 199 seat parliament.

In second place was the Jobbik Party, with 25 seats. Jobbik is considered to be even farther right than Fidesz, though in recent years the party leaders have tried to move the party towards the center, and to shed its anti-semitic and xenophobic image.

In third place, with 20 seats, was the center-left Socialist party. The significance of this situation is that in Hungary, the two major parties are both on the right, and the center left in Europe is in collapse.

EuroIntelligence summarized the situation as follows:

"The slide of the social democratic party from its peak of power in 2006 is both a long-term trend in Hungary and a broader trend in the EU as a whole. Hungary is now one of a long list of countries where the two main parties are both on the right, because the collapsing social democrats have not been replaced by a party on the left but one on the right. Poland and the Netherlands are firmly in that list. Whether to include France and Italy depends on where one puts Macron's En Marche and the Five Star Movement, but asked about the right-wing economic policies of his government Édouard Philippe quipped "what did you expect?" Spain and Austria - and even Germany - seem to be moving in the same direction. In many of these cases - Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Hungary, Austria - the party replacing the social democrats could be classed as far-right. This doesn't look like a Europe where Orbán should feel particularly uncomfortable."

Hungary-based Péter Krekó of Capital Institute agrees, saying that Orbán is providing support to populist tendencies in western Europe: "The populist right wing in western Europe deems Orbán as a hero, he represents an alternative model for Europe. He is the 'anti-Merkel' and that makes him popular with many."

However, Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn says that won a clear election victory because of a "tumor" of scaremongering: "Today it is Hungary and Poland, tomorrow others in eastern and central Europe, even a big founding country of the EU, could develop a taste for undermining values and scaremongering."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the atrocities that occur in one generational crisis war appear again in similar forms decades later in the next generational crisis war, as the survivors of the last war die off. With Europe's shift to the right, we're beginning to see the revival of the xenophobia that brought about World War II, such as xenophobic attitudes towards Jews, Muslims and Roma Gypsies. As the next world war approaches, we'll see a return to the genocide, ethnic cleansing and war crimes that occurred in World War II, and which we're already seeing to some extent in the Mideast. EuroIntelligence and EU Observer and Budapest Business Journal and AP

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Apr-18 World View -- Viktor Orbán's Fidesz party victory in Hungary signals strong European move to the right thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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9-Apr-18 World View -- Trump threatens 'big price to pay' after Assad's chemical weapons attack in Syria

Syria reports that it's under missile attack, 'likely' by the US

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • New chemical weapon attack in Syria kills 48, hospitalizes hundreds
  • Trump threatens 'big price to pay' after Assad's chemical weapons attack in Syria
  • Syria reports that it's under missile attack, 'likely' by the US

New chemical weapon attack in Syria kills 48, hospitalizes hundreds


Medical workers treat toddlers following chlorine gas attack in Douma, Syria, on Sunday (AP)
Medical workers treat toddlers following chlorine gas attack in Douma, Syria, on Sunday (AP)

At least 48 people were killed in a chemical weapons attack on Saturday on the town of Douma in in eastern Ghouta, believed by international officials to have been perpetrated by Syria's president Bashar al-Assad.

In addition to those killed, at least 500 more people brought into overwhelmed medical centers and hospitals. Videos recorded by rescue workers known as the White Helmets, show a number of men, women and children lying lifeless, many with foam at their mouths.

The chemical weapon in the attack was chlorine, which is particularly used by al-Assad to attack and kill women and children. Chlorine is repeatedly used by al-Assad because it is heavier than air. Therefore it seeps into basements where women and children are likely to be hiding from al-Assad's missiles and barrel bombs. Once the chlorine seeps into the basements where women and children are hiding, the women and children are forced out into the open, where al-Assad's missiles and barrel bombs can slaughter them en masse. The foaming at the mouth by victims suggests that Sarin gas was also used.

Syrian state media accused "terrorist" media of fabricating reports about a chemical attack.

Russia's foreign ministry said reports of a chemical attack by Syrian forces on Douma had been "planted" in order to create a pretext for a possible military intervention in Syria:

"The purpose of these mendacious conjectures, which are without any basis, is to shield the terrorists and the irreconcilable radical opposition, which rejects a political settlement, while at the same time trying to justify possible external use of force."

So we're going through the usual song and dance of listening to Russian officials make these laughable statements, as if the rest of us are stupid enough to believe them. Russian officials have lied so many times about almost every subject, so anything that Russia says has no credibility, and is as worthless as garbage.

And we can expect the usual flood of Russian internet trolls repeating the same nonsense supplied by their trollmasters.

During the past 15 months, since Donald Trump took office, there Bashar al-Assad has launched at least eight chemical weapons attacks, including one Sarin gas nerve agent attack on April 4 of last year. BBC and AP and CNN and USA Today

Trump threatens 'big price to pay' after Assad's chemical weapons attack in Syria

President Donald Trump called Bashar al-Assad an "animal" in a series of tweets on Sunday, and appeared to commit the US to retaliating to Sunday's attack, not only against Syria but possibly also at Russia.

In 2012, President Barack Obama announced a "red line" that threatened an American military retaliation if Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons on his own people. The US military even sent troops to Jordan to take action against the use of chemical weapons. However, when Bashar al-Assad used Sarin gas on his own people in 2013, Obama backed down from his threat, signaling to al-Assad that he could continue to use chemical weapons with impunity. And he has done that, with eight verified uses of chlorine gas and Sarin gas in the last 15 months alone.

A year ago, Donald Trump responded to al-Assad's Sarin gas attack with a surprise cruise missile attack on al-Assad's airports, wiping out part of his air force. However, that did nothing to stop al-Assad from continuing to use chemical weapons on women and children, or to stop Russia from supporting his use of chemical weapons on women and children.

Sunday's chemical weapons attack drew a very angry twitter response from president Trump:

"Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price...

....to pay. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!

If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line In The Sand, the Syrian disaster would have ended long ago! Animal Assad would have been history!"

Trump appears to be setting a new red line, and is blaming Russia's president Vladimir Putin for the first time, as well as referring to "Animal Assad." If Trump shows weakness after issuing these tweets, then his negotiating position in North Korea will be very weak.

The US has also called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Monday.

The most likely response, if any, is a missile attack similar to the one launched last year. However, some analysts are suggesting that Russia should be sanctioned directly by withdrawing the highly prestigious international World Cup Football (soccer) competition sponsored by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) from Moscow, where it's scheduled to begin on June 14. Some people are suggesting that Vladimir Putin should not be permitted to glory in sponsoring the FIFA World Cup just two months after sponsoring the use of chemical weapons by war criminal Bashar al-Assad. CNN and NBC News and Guardian (London)

Syria reports that it's under missile attack, 'likely' by the US

As this article is being written on Sunday evening (ET), Syria's state media is reporting that Syria's T4 airbase (Tayfur airport) near the city of Homs is under missile attack, with resulting casualties, in a "likely attack by the United States." Reports say that 12 people have been killed, and that eight missiles were shot down by Syrian air defenses.

Senior US officials are not denying that a missile attack is taking place, but are denying that the US is responsible. Assuming that it's not the US launching missiles, then it suggests that another country in the American-led coalition is launching the missile attack.

Governments from both Britain and France on Sunday both joined in America's strong condemnation of al-Assad's use of chlorine gas on his own people, including women and children. Both countries have also issued strong condemnations of Russia for the March 4 poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, using a Russia-developed nerve agent Novichok, in Salisbury, Britain. Trump and France's president Emmanuel Macron issued a "strong joint response" to al-Assad. So it's possible that either Britain or France is launching the attack. It's also possible that Israel is launching the attack. BBC

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Apr-18 World View -- Trump threatens 'big price to pay' after Assad's chemical weapons attack in Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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8-Apr-18 World View -- US will sell submarine technology to Taiwan, as Japan launches first marine brigade since end of WW II

Taiwan and Japan respond to China's militarization

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Trump administration approves selling submarine technology to Taiwan
  • Japan launches first marine brigade since the end of World War II

Trump administration approves selling submarine technology to Taiwan


Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen on a Dutch-built submarine last year. (AP)
Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen on a Dutch-built submarine last year. (AP)

In a further challenge to China, the Trump administration has approved a marketing license that will allow US manufacturers to sell submarine technology to Taiwan.

For years, Taiwan has tried to acquire submarines from other countries, but China has repeatedly used pressure and threats on those countries to prevent the sales. Taiwan purchased two submarines from the Netherlands in the 1980s, but China has successfully blocked other sales since then. In 2012, Taiwan began a program to build its own diesel submarines, but that program still required the purchase of submarine technology from other countries.

Early in 2017, US manufacturers expressed an interest in working on the project with Taiwan, but needed approval in the form of a "marketing license" from the US State Department. That license was finally issued this week.

The decision also means that the U.S. will be able to provide Taiwan with so-called “red” parts, or technology which the island is unable to produce itself, including torpedoes and missiles. Taiwan News and Reuters and Jamestown (30-Mar-2012) and Focus Taiwan (31-May-2017)

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Japan launches first marine brigade since the end of World War II

In a ceremony on Saturday, Japan launched the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (ARDB), its first marine brigade since the end of World War II.

In a speech, Tomohiro Yamamoto, vice defense minister, said:

"Given the increasingly difficult defense and security situation surrounding Japan, defense of our islands has become a critical mandate."

Yamamoto is thought to be referring to the Senkaku Islands, which are threatened by China, and where China makes its usual unsupported claims of "indisputable sovereignty."

The brigade is the latest component of a growing marine force that includes helicopter carriers, amphibious ships, Osprey tilt-rotor troop carriers and amphibious assault vehicles, meant to deter China as it pushes for easier access to the Western Pacific

The ARDB is controversial, since it appears to go beyond the Article self-defense clause of Japan's postwar "pacifist" constitution, which forbids any military action except for "self-defense" on Japanese soil.

However, military provocations by China and North Korea have been changing public opinion in Japan to make elimination of the self-defense clause more publicly acceptable.

In 2015, prime minister Shinzo Abe was able to get parliament to reinterpret the self-defense clause to mean "collective self-defense," which means that military action would be permitted anywhere in the world when an ally (such as the United States) is attacked. That means that the ARDB can be used even in overseas military actions, provided that the US or any other Japanese ally is under attack. Kyodo News and Reuters and Russia Today

Related Articles:

  • Japan will shoot down N. Korean missiles via 'collective self-defense' (13-Aug-2017)
  • Japan's largest warship will train with US Navy in the South China Sea (14-Mar-2017)
  • Japan debates 'collective self-defense' to protect America and Japan (05-May-2014)
  • China reacts harshly to Japan's plans for 'collective self-defense' (18-Jul-2015)
  • Japan's troops in South Sudan become first test of new 'collective self-defense' policy (19-Nov-2016)
  • (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Apr-18 World View -- US will sell submarine technology to Taiwan, as Japan launches first marine brigade since end of WW II thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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    7-Apr-18 World View -- Gaza Palestinians burn tires to hide protests from Israel's army

    Hamas and Fatah/PLO criticized for contradictory strategies

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Gaza Palestinians burn tires to hide protests from Israel's army
    • Hamas and Fatah/PLO criticized for contradictory strategies

    Gaza Palestinians burn tires to hide protests from Israel's army


    A Gaza protester wears a tire on his head with an onion (to protect himself from tear gas) dangling from it (al-Jazeera)
    A Gaza protester wears a tire on his head with an onion (to protect himself from tear gas) dangling from it (al-Jazeera)

    In the Muslim world, protests usually occur on Fridays, when worshippers pour out of mosques after Friday prayers.

    On Friday, March 30, Land Day protests in Gaza led to numerous violent clashes with Israel's army, when Gaza protesters threatened to break through the border fence with Israel. The first used teargas to stop the protesters, then live gunfire. 16 Palestinians were killed, and 1,400 wounded.

    On Friday, April 6, the number of protests appeared to be considerably reduced, although the protesters used new tactics. Protesters burned tires creating massive conflagrations at five different points along the border.

    The purpose of burning the tires was to create black, thick smoke that would make it impossible for Israel's army to see where the protesters were attempting to break through the border fence. The army used water cannons to put out the fires, and giant fans to disperse smoke. Live gunfire was also used to stop the protesters, with the result that seven Palestinians were shot dead and over 200 more were wounded. The only good news about this situation is that these numbers were sharply lower than last week.

    Although Hamas, the governing authority in Gaza, is encouraging protests on a continuing basis, the protests are all relatively minor except for the final one: The major event will occur on May 15, Naqba Day (Catastrophe Day), commemorating the creation of Israel in 1948. YNet News (Israel) and Reuters and Al Jazeera

    Hamas and Fatah/PLO criticized for contradictory strategies

    Hamas, the governing authority in Gaza, has come under increasing criticism for the policies it's pursuing in Gaza. Even Arab analysts on television have criticized Hamas for having no apparent strategy at all except to encourage protesters, including women and children, to attempt to break through the border wall and risk getting shot and killed, with no advantage to them, to the Palestinians or to Hamas for the bloodshed.

    The Hamas government in Gaza has an entirely different strategy than the Palestinian Authority (PA) - Fatah - Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) government in the West Bank, led by Mahmoud Abbas.

    Hamas's strategy is the elimination of Israel, and so the Gaza protests are being pursued with the intention of leading to an armed conflict that Israel would lose. By contrast, Abbas's strategy is full recognition of the state of Palestine existing side-by-side with Israel, and is pursuing peaceful protests in order to gain international support for Palestine.

    The problem for the Palestinians is that they can't make any progress at all unless Hamas and Fatah have a joint strategy. Negotiations for a Hamas-Fatah unity government that began after the 67 day Israel-Gaza war in 2014 have failed completely, largely because Hamas and Fatah have completely different intentions about destroying Israel versus living with Israel.

    The 27th conference of the Arab Parliament Federation met on Friday in Jeddah and stated the usual policies -- support for an independent state of Palestine with its capital in Jerusalem, and condemnation of Israeli attacks on Palestinian people and their land, sanctuaries and properties. They also demanded that the international community put pressure on Israel to stops its crimes in Palestine.

    But all of that is completely meaningless, because those policies are subordinate to the major policy: unifying the Arab position toward major issues — the Palestinian cause and combating terror.

    And there is no unity on the Arab position. What's the "Palestinian cause," when the Palestinians don't even know what it means. What does "combating terror" mean when Hamas is internationally considered to be a terror organization, calling for the destruction of Israel.

    And then of course there's the issue of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president. Abbas is 82 years old, was born in 1935, and lived through World War II and the bloody wars between Jews and Arabs that followed the 1948 partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. Having lived though that horrific war, Abbas has been a major force in maintaining a semblance of peace between the Palestinians and Israelis.

    From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the reason that Abbas and Fatah are far more moderate than Hamas is because Abbas lived through the horrors if the Arab-Jewish war of 1948, and does not want to see it happen again. Younger leaders, in both Gaza and the West Bank, would have no such inhibitions. I believe that Abbas himself understands this, and that's why he hasn't stepped down even though he's been in declining health. But his death or retirement would bring new, younger leadership into power, and that could well mean a new, massive, bloody war between Jews and Arabs.

    Generational Dynamics predicts that the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war will pit China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries against the US, India, Russia and Iran. In the Mideast, Generational Dynamics predicts a full-scale Mideast war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other. Al Monitor (13-Mar) and Arab News and AFP and i24 News (Israel)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Apr-18 World View -- Gaza Palestinians burn tires to hide protests from Israel's army thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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    6-Apr-18 World View -- Ukraine seizes Russian ship in Sea of Azov in retaliation for Kerch Strait blockade

    Russia builds bridge over Kerch Strait to Crimea, blocking commercial traffic to Ukraine

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Russia builds bridge over Kerch Strait to Crimea, blocking commercial traffic to Ukraine
    • Ukraine threatens seizure of ships in Sea of Azov travelling to and from Crimea

    Russia builds bridge over Kerch Strait to Crimea, blocking commercial traffic to Ukraine


    The Kerch Strait is in the lower right corner, as the tiny strait that separates Crimea and Russia at their closest points, and also separates the Sea of Azov in the north from the Black Sea in the south.
    The Kerch Strait is in the lower right corner, as the tiny strait that separates Crimea and Russia at their closest points, and also separates the Sea of Azov in the north from the Black Sea in the south.

    Ever since Russia invaded and illegally annexed Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula in 2014, Russia has had the problem of shipping goods between Russia and Crimea.

    Russia has taken control of Luhansk and Donetsk in far eastern Ukraine, as well as Crimea itself, but the region along southern Ukraine through the Mariupol and Bardyansk seaports is still under control of Ukraine's government in Kiev.

    For a while, the international community was wondering whether the Russian invaders would continue their invasion through those seaports, in order to connect a land route from Russia to Crimea, and giving them complete control of the Sea of Azov. For whatever reason, possibly because Russia's president Vladimir Putin feared that such a drastic move might provoke military action from the European Union, no such invasion occurred.

    Apparently the Russians considered several possible solutions, with the obvious choices being a tunnel under or a bridge over the Kerch Strait. The Kerch Strait is shown in the above map in the lower right corner, as the tiny strait that separates Crimea and Russia at their closest points, and also separates the Sea of Azov in the north from the Black Sea in the south.

    In May 2015, Russia began constructing an 11.8 mile bridge across the Kerch Strait, said to be the longest bridge in Europe once it's completed. The project will cost an enormous $5 billion, and there are concerns that the strait is not sufficiently geologically stable enough to support the bridge safely. Nonetheless, construction has gone ahead, and the plan is for the bridge to be open to car traffic this year, and open to railroad traffic in 2019.

    The construction of the bridge has already had a severe effect on Ukraine's economy. Russia has several times closed the Kerch Strait to maritime traffic, trapping commercial vessels docked in Mariupol and Berdyansk seaports. During 2017, freight traffic was reduced 43% and transshipments shrank by 30%, totally $54 million in 2017. The losses are expected to be significantly higher in 2018. Jamestown (22-Feb) and Russia Today (3-Mar) and Guardian (London, 31-Aug-2017) and Völkerrechtsblog (10-Jan)

    Ukraine threatens seizure of ships in Sea of Azov travelling to and from Crimea


    The bridge over Kerch Strait (Russia Today)
    The bridge over Kerch Strait (Russia Today)

    On March 26, Ukraine's border service in the Sea of Azov seized the fishing vessel Nord, on charges of violating Ukraine's territorial waters. The Russians claim the ship was in international waters. The Ukrainians claim it illegally entered Ukrainian waters when it docked in Crimea without Ukrainian permission.

    On Wednesday, April 4, Ukraine's Border Service spokesman Oleg Slobodyan commented on the detention of Russia's Nord vessel, and said that Ukraine will detain all the ships travelling to and out of Crimea without Kiev’s consent, Slobodyan said:

    "Ukraine’s position is unequivocal, it considers Crimea to be an occupied part of its territory so law enforcement agencies will promptly respond to violations committed by those travelling in and out of Crimea."

    So the situation is this:

    • Russia is building the bridge over the Kerch Strait, and is using it to strangle commerce into Ukraine's seaports of Mariupol and Berdyansk, resulting in substantial economic damage to Ukraine.
    • The issue of the seizure of the Nord fishing vessel has not been resolved, although some late reports indicate that the crew have been released from jail.
    • Ukraine does not recognize Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea, and still considers Crimea to be part of Ukraine, and this week has retaliated against Russia, announcing a new policy in the Sea of Azov where Russian ships docking in Crimea will be seized.

    There is potentially a major confrontation brewing here, especially if Ukraine goes through with its new threat of seizing all ships docking in Crimea. So far, this confrontation has been going on relatively quietly, but it could change into a full-blown crisis at any time. Unian (Ukraine) and Sputnik (Russia) and Tass (Russia) and EurAsia Daily (Russia)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Apr-18 World View -- Ukraine seizes Russian ship in Sea of Azov in retaliation for Kerch Strait blockade thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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    5-Apr-18 World View -- China on path to repeat Japan's experience after Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930

    China's tariff retaliation plan would devastate China's economy

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • China's tariff retaliation plan would devastate China's economy
    • China on path to repeat Japan's experience after Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930

    China's tariff retaliation plan would devastate China's economy


    A Chinese farmer gathering bundles of wheat (Getty)
    A Chinese farmer gathering bundles of wheat (Getty)

    The Trump administration imposed tariffs earlier this week on some 1,300 products in a broad range of sectors, from electronics components to medical devices, and from false teeth to detergent chemicals.

    When China retaliated on Wednesday, its list contained only 106 items, mostly agricultural products. American soybeans as the number 1 target, followed by corn products, two types of cotton exports, wheat and meat. The list also includes frozen orange juice and whiskey, tobacco and cars. As a number of analysts have pointed out, while the Trump administration is targeting strategic products, China's reciprocal tariffs are not strategic but political, specifically targeting products that are developed in states where Trump is politically popular, in the hope of applying political pressure to Trump to drop the tariffs altogether.

    What seems clear from both sets of items is that these mutual tariffs may harm small segments of America's economy, they will devastate China's entire economy, mainly because of China's enormous and growing food security problem.

    China has only 7% of the world's farmlands, but has to feed 20% of the world's population. In order to improve yields, China's farmers have been using massive amounts of chemical fertilizers. The increasing use of these fertilizers has followed the economy Law of Diminishing Returns, in that additional use of fertilizers has been less and less effective and even counterproductive, as some farmland is being poisoned with overfertilization.

    Exacerbating the shortage of farmland is the shortage of water. China's available water supply per person is only 25% of the average available globally. In parts of China, groundwater is being depleted for agriculture. The growing and excessive use of fertilizer and groundwater indicate that China's domestic ability to feed its growing population is lessening.

    That means that China has to import enormous amounts of food from other countries. Many people were surprised to see soybeans at the top of China's tariff list, because importing massive amounts of soybeans is essential to China's economy. Of all the globally traded soybeans in the world, China imports 60% of them, including $12 billion worth of American soybeans.

    If China stopped buying American soybeans, it would be almost impossible to replace them from another source. If China did find another source, perhaps in Brazil or Argentina, then these countries would raise their own soybean prices -- and, indeed, soybean futures prices in Brazil have already been increasing. But then the people who could no longer get their soybeans from Brazil or Argentina would turn to America's soybeans.

    On the other hand, if China kept purchasing American soybeans but imposed its threatened 25% tariff, then the cost of the soybeans would be prohibitive for many Chinese, and would lead to price inflation. And price inflation would lead to social instability. China's history is filled with huge, massive internal rebellions (civil wars), the most recent of which were the White Lotus Rebellion (1796-1805), the Taiping Rebellion (1850-64) and Mao's Communist Revolution (1934-49). China is overdue for a new massive civil war, and a soybean tariff could be the trigger. Xinhua and Reuters and Nature and Zero Hedge

    China on path to repeat Japan's experience after Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930

    Chinese officials keep saying that they don't want a trade war, but they're not afraid of a trade war. Well, the first half of that statement is true, anyway, but the second half is definitely not true. America's economy would be slightly hurt, but China's economy would be devastated.

    When America passed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act in 1930, during the Great Depression, it was particularly devastating to Japan, as it cut off Japan's exports to America of silk, its greatest cash crop.

    I've written many times in the past that the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act could be considered the beginning of World War II, so I was interested in a speech given by Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe in 2015, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of WW II, where he explained how Japan was affected by a "major blow" -- the Smoot-Hawley act -- and how it led to Japan's invasion of Manchuria a year later:

    "[After World War I] Japan kept steps with other nations. However, with the Great Depression setting in and the Western countries launching economic blocs by involving colonial economies, Japan’s economy suffered a major blow [Smoot-Hawley]. In such circumstances, Japan’s sense of isolation deepened and it attempted to overcome its diplomatic and economic deadlock through the use of force. Its domestic political system could not serve as a brake to stop such attempts. In this way, Japan lost sight of the overall trends in the world.

    With the Manchurian Incident, followed by the withdrawal from the League of Nations, Japan gradually transformed itself into a challenger to the new international order that the international community sought to establish after tremendous sacrifices. Japan took the wrong course and advanced along the road to war.

    And, seventy years ago, Japan was defeated."

    The Smoot-Hawley act devastated Japan's silk industry, and its entire economy, causing it to take desperate measures a year later, invading Manchuria. Later, America and the League of Nations imposed a punitive oil embargo on Japan in 1941, and just a few months later, Japanese warplanes bombed Pearl Harbor.

    It's quite possible that we're on a similar path with China today. China's economy is already in dire straits, with huge debt bubbles that could burst at any time, and anything resembling a trade war could lead to social instability, which would cause China to take desperate measures, such as invading India, Japan, Vietnam or the Philippines.

    One could argue that China is a victim. They were victimized by Americans and the Europeans, who made it too easy for the Chinese to cheat on trade with illegal tariffs and to steal American's intellectual property, with the result that China became addicted to the drugs of illegal tariffs and stealing intellectual property. Now those drugs are being taken away, and China is at risk of showing the signs of drug withdrawal which, in this case, means launching a world war.

    China is on a very dangerous path -- to itself and to the world. China's illegal tariffs and stealing intellectual property will not be allowed to continue. It's up to China to fix this problem, but we know that the Chinese people are so nationalistic and so xenophobic that they will not.

    Generational Dynamics predicts that the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war will pit China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries against the US, India, Russia and Iran. In the Mideast, Generational Dynamics predicts a full-scale Mideast war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other. Cato Institute

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    4-Apr-18 World View -- Russia accelerates delivery of S-400 anti-aircraft missiles to Turkey

    Mainstream media emphasize the love-fest between Turkey and Russia

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Russia accelerates delivery of S-400 anti-aircraft missiles to Turkey
    • Mainstream media emphasize the love-fest between Turkey and Russia

    Russia accelerates delivery of S-400 anti-aircraft missiles to Turkey


    Russia's advanced S-400 anti-aircraft system (Tass)
    Russia's advanced S-400 anti-aircraft system (Tass)

    In the course of a joint press conference by Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia's president Vladimir Putin, held in Turkey's capital city Ankara on Tuesday, Erdogan and Putin announced that the previously scheduled delivery of Russia's advanced S-400 anti-aircraft missiles at the end of 2019 would be moved up.

    At the press conference, Putin said:

    "We have decided with President Erdogan in our meeting to speed up the delivery of the S-400 systems. Our Turkish colleagues made a request in the meetings. We will accelerate the process.

    This is an issue of commerce. Companies are working on it."

    According to Turkish and Russian media, the S-400 is Russia's most advanced long-range anti-aircraft missile system with a capacity of carrying three types of missiles capable of destroying targets including aircraft, and ballistic and cruise missiles. The system can track and engage up to 300 targets at a time and has an altitude ceiling of 27 kilometers (17 miles). In addition, the system’s radars detect aerial targets at a distance of up to 600 kilometers (373 miles).

    So there are some unanswered questions about this deal:

    What is the intended target of these S-400 missiles? Is Erdogan planning to target American warplanes? Israeli warplanes? Iranian warplanes? Syrian warplanes? Armenian warplanes? Nato warplanes?

    And what's the rush? Which of these potential targets has become so imminently dangerous that Erdogan needs to accelerate the delivery of the missiles?

    In an interview before the press conference, Putin said:

    "A priority task in the sphere of military technical cooperation is the implementation of the contract for supplies of S-400 Triumf missile systems to Turkey.

    We hope that the sectoral intergovernmental commission will look into the prospects for further supplies of Russian-made military hardware to Turkey at its next meeting."

    So the obvious question is: Why is Putin so anxious to sell these systems to Turkey?

    According to other reports, Russia is delivering the same S-400 systems to China. Whom does Putin think that Turkey and China will be using these anti-aircraft missiles against?

    Is Putin really so certain that Turkey and China won't use the S-400 missiles against Russia? Or maybe something deeper is going on -- like a secret way for Russia to disable these missiles remotely?

    Nato officials are strongly opposed to this deal between Turkey and Russia, because Turkey is member of Nato, and so it's important that all weapons systems of all Nato countries be interoperable with each other. However, Russia's S-400 system is not interoperable with other Nato weapons systems, so deploying S-400 systems represents a sharp rejection by Turkey of its relationship with Nato.

    This also provides one more reason why Putin is anxious to deliver S-400 systems to Turkey as quickly as possible -- to make sure that Turkey cannot militarily cooperate with Nato. Anadolu (Ankara) and Tass (Moscow) and Hurriyet (Ankara) and Tass

    Mainstream media emphasize the love-fest between Turkey and Russia

    One media story after another on Tuesday described how Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan are developing a close personal friendship that is bring Russia and Turkey closer together, shutting the U.S. out. For example:

    "Ties between Russia and Turkey are growing closer than ever, as Russia runs into widespread diplomatic fallout from the poisoned spy scandal and Turkey's relations with its Western allies worsens over human rights issues and its military operations against Kurdish militia in Syria."

    The "deepening friendship" between Putin and Erdogan can only be described as bizarre. This is a good time to remind readers that from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, that the behavior of two nations towards each other depends not on the attitudes of the politicians, but on the attitudes of the two populations. And historically, the people of Russia and the people of Turkey hate each other.

    During the last millennium, one of the most bloody and vicious relationships in the world was the relationship between the people who have become today's Turks and Russians. As I described in November 2015, when Turkey shot down a Russian warplane and brought the two countries close to military conflict, the Crimean Peninsula was the site of several generational crisis wars between the two.

    The Tatars were a tribe of Mongols who, under the leadership of Genghis Kahn, defeated China, then Russia, where they occupied Crimea. In 1571, the Crimean Tatars attacked and sacked Moscow. In 1783, Russia under Catherine the Great annexed Crimea in a war in which the Ottomans (Turkey) were defeated. The Crimean War (1853-55) was a disaster for both the Russians and the Turks, though more so for the Russians, who lost Crimea and other territories on the Black Sea. World War I saw the destruction of Russia's Tsarist empire and Turkey's Ottoman Empire.

    So it's particularly significant today that Russia has invaded and annexed Crimea, and has treated the current Tatar population brutally. The Tatars are historically close to the Turks, and although we don't read much about this in the media, the Russian treatment of Tatars must infuriate many Turks.

    So it's quite a reasonable question to ask what's going on here, when these two politicians, Putin and Erdogan, are behaving in ways that must upset many of the people they represent.

    In the past I've described the reasons why China and Russia, whose populations also respectively hate each other, are allying -- because both countries are supporting each other in annexing other countries' territories, as Hitler did prior to World War II. Russia and China need each other because they need each other's support, in the sense of "honor among thieves."

    Putin and Erdogan have also reached the conclusion that Russia and Turkey need each other, for several reasons:

    • Turkey's military operation in Afrin, Syria, is only possible because Russia is permitting it, as Russia controls the airspace.
    • Turkey has given its blessing for Russian bases in Syria, and is no longer insisting that the hated Syria's president Bashar al-Assad must step down.
    • Turkey has refused to go along with the accusations by the UK, the EU and the United States that Russia is responsible for the recent nerve gas poisoning of a former Russia agent on British soil.
    • Turkey is a transit country for Russian natural gas shipments to Europe.

    In addition, on Tuesday, Putin and Erdogan broke ground on a $20 billion Russian-made nuclear power plant being built on Turkey's Mediterranean coast at Akkuyu. The project was already launched once before in February 2015, but was canceled after Turkey shot down the Russian warplane. Putin said on Tuesday, "This scale of the project is difficult to exaggerate. This marks a new stage in the development of Turkey's economy."

    This "marriage of convenience" between Putin and Erdogan cannot last, in view of the centuries of bitter, bloody conflict between the two countries. At some point, Russia will be forced to choose between the West versus China and Turkey, and they will choose the West.

    Generational Dynamics predicts that the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war will pit China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries against the US, India, Russia and Iran. In the Mideast, Generational Dynamics predicts a full-scale Mideast war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other. AP and Daily Mail and AFP and RFE/RL

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Apr-18 World View -- Russia accelerates delivery of S-400 anti-aircraft missiles to Turkey thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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    3-Apr-18 World View -- Israel's government in turmoil over failure to deport African migrants

    Netanyahu: We fell into a 'trap' with failed deportation plan

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Israel's government in turmoil over failure to deport African migrants
    • Netanyahu: We fell into a 'trap' with failed deportation plan

    Israel's government in turmoil over failure to deport African migrants


    Asylum seekers in Tel Aviv, Israel, protest against deportation on 24-Feb (AP)
    Asylum seekers in Tel Aviv, Israel, protest against deportation on 24-Feb (AP)

    Israel's government is in turmoil after a major policy for dealing with African migrants collapsed within a few hours.

    On Monday morning, Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a major new policy for dealing with 16,250 of what it considers to be illegal immigrants from African nations, mostly Eritrea and Sudan.

    The policy was reached as a deal with the UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) which is the agency that handles issues with refugees and migrants. Under the deal between Israel and UNHCR, 16,250 African migrants under threat of being either jailed or deported to another African country, would instead be absorbed and resettled into a Western country. The deal also specifies that another 16,250 similarly threated migrants would be permitted to remain in Israel as "temporary residents." According to UNHCR, Israel is home to about 40,000 asylum seekers including 27,500 from Eritrea and 7,800 from Sudan. The deal left 7,000 unaccounted for.

    Netanyahu originally said that the agreement was a "landmark achievement," allowing 16,250 migrants to be taken to "developed countries like Canada, or Germany and Italy."

    Human rights organizations were pleased with the deal, since migrants would be resettled in Western countries. However, other officials objected to the fact that 16,250 migrants would be resettled in Israel. A city councilman in Tel Aviv, where many of the migrants would be resettled, called the agreement a "disaster that will reverberate for generations and cause irreversible damage to the country."

    A Canadian minister said that Canada was already in contact with UNHCR and Israel about accepting more refugees. However, Italy quickly issued a statement saying that they were not a part of this agreement, and had not even been consulted. Germany issued a similar statement. The Prime Minister’s Office then clarified that Netanyahu had just named those countries as examples of Western countries.

    By late Monday evening, Netanyahu wrote on Facebook that he was suspending implementation of the agreement for the time being. YNet News and Canadian TV and BBC and Haaretz

    Netanyahu: We fell into a 'trap' with failed deportation plan

    The previous deportation plan was announced in January. Each migrant would be given a choice to be jailed, or to receive a check for $3,500 and a plane ticket to another country. Migrants received the following letter in January:

    "We would like to inform you that the state of Israel has signed agreements allowing you to leave Israel for a safe third country that will absorb you and give you a residency visa that will allow you to work in that country, and promises not to remove you to your country of origin."

    The "third safe countries" were not named, but they were known to be Rwanda and Uganda. The deadline to leave or be jailed was to be April 1.

    According to a poll in late January, 66% of Jewish Israelis, and half of Arab Israelis, who make up 20% of Israel's population, favored the deportation plan. However, the plan received a huge backlash from human rights organizations, both internationally and within Israel.

    Due to international pressure, both Rwanda and Uganda announced that they wouldn't take part in the deportation plan. On Monday, Netanyahu explained in a Facebook post why the whole plan had to be canceled:

    "In the past two years I have been working with Rwanda so that it will serve as a third country' that absorbs infiltrators who will be deported without their consent. This is the only legal way for us to deport infiltrators without their consent, after the rest of our moves have been legally disqualified. Rwanda agreed to this and began the deportation operation.

    In recent weeks, under tremendous pressure on Rwanda by the New Israel Fund and elements in the European Union, Rwanda withdrew from the agreement and has refused to absorb infiltrators from Israel who are forcibly removed.

    From the moment that it became clear in the last few weeks that the third country as an option does not exist, we in effect entered a trap that meant all of them would stay."

    Falling into this "trap" represented a danger to Israel, according to education minister Naftali Bennett:

    "[G]ranting legal status to 16,000 infiltrators will turn Israel into a paradise for infiltrators and is a surrender to the false campaign spread in the media in recent months.

    The original outline was moral and just, and we must follow it, alone. Refugees from dangerous places will be absorbed in Israel, work migrants will be sent back. In the new plan, work migrants who didn’t even apply to be refugees will be absorbed. By signing this agreement, we are sending a dangerous message to the whole world: Whoever succeeds in infiltrating Israel illegally will get a prize of legal residence here or a Western country."

    He added that that the government must "proceed to a new roadmap will remove the illegal infiltrators from Israel." Reuters (3-Jan) and The Atlantic (30-Jan) and Al Jazeera (4-Feb) and Jerusalem Post

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Apr-18 World View -- Israel's government in turmoil over failure to deport African migrants thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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    2-Apr-18 World View -- Massive new anti-India violence in Kashmir leads to 20 deaths

    Uprising in Kashmir continues to grow into war between India and Pakistan

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Massive new anti-India violence in Kashmir leads to 20 deaths
    • Uprising in Kashmir continues to grow into war between India and Pakistan

    Massive new anti-India violence in Kashmir leads to 20 deaths


    Kashmiri villagers during a funeral at Shopian, South Kashmir, during the anti-Indian protests (Hindustan Times)
    Kashmiri villagers during a funeral at Shopian, South Kashmir, during the anti-Indian protests (Hindustan Times)

    Sunday was one of the bloodiest days in Indian-controlled Kashmir in recent months, after a new generation of separatist Kashmiri youths led massive anti-India protests and violence in several parts of Indian-controlled Kashmir. Thousands of Kashmiris were in the streets chanting anti-India slogans and demanding an end to Indian rule over Kashmir. Some 20 people were killed, including 3 soldiers and 17 Kashmiris, with dozens more injured.

    A spokesman for Hurriyat, a Kashmiri separatist organization, is calling for continued protests in the days to come:

    "The joint resistance leadership calls for a shutdown tomorrow against the killings and atrocities on people in south Kashmir. Hundreds have been injured in pellet and bullet firing."

    Separatists are calling for strikes on Monday and Tuesday, and authorities have ordered all schools to be shut.

    The protests and clashes were triggered by a series of counter-insurgency operations, based on tips to police about where militant separatists may be hiding. Many civilians living in Kashmir support these militants and demand that Indian-governed Kashmir be allowed to merge Pakistan-governed Kashmir, and become part of Pakistan.

    In June 2017, India announced 'Operation All-Out,' in which thousands of security forces were involved in a massive house-to-house sweep to "deliver a lethal blow to terrorism." Operation All-Out went on for months and was responsible for killing over 200 militants, according to Indian authorities. The violence has already escalated in 2018, with 51 alleged militants already killed so far this year. Geo TV (Pakistan) and AFP and Hindustan Times and AP

    Uprising in Kashmir continues to grow into war between India and Pakistan

    As I've described several times in the past, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the growing violence in Kashmir is following a fairly standard historical template that always ends in a major war. I've written in the past to distinguish between "organic" genocides that come from the people, such as the 1994 Rwanda genocide, versus "government-led" genocides, such as occurring today in Syria and South Sudan.

    Although there's little doubt that Pakistan-based groups are inciting violence in Kashmir, that isn't enough to start a generational war unless the mood of the population is that such a war is necessary. What we're seeing in Kashmir is an "organic" war that's leading unstoppably to a generational crisis war.

    As I described in the past, India's last two generational crisis wars were India's 1857 Rebellion, and the 1947 Partition war.

    The 1857 rebellion is also called India's First War of Independence from the British colonial power. What started out as protests related to the Hindu veneration of cows grew into an extremely bloody generational crisis war, resulting in the deaths of over 100,000 Indian civilians.

    India remained a British colony, and there was little or no violence for decades, as always happens after a generational crisis war, since the traumatized survivors do not wish anything so horrible to happen again. However, as younger generations with no personal memory of the war rise to power, conflicts begin again.

    In the 1910s, Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian peace activist, launched a "non-cooperation movement" against the British, involving civil disobedience. The generational Awakening era climax occurred on April 10-12, 1919, with the Jalianvala Bagh Massacre (Amritsar Massacre), when British troops opened fire on 10,000 Sikhs holding a protest meeting, killing hundreds. That event convinced both the British and the Indians that Britain should completely give up control of India.

    By 1946, there was a debate centered on two choices: Should there be a single Indian state, with separate regions under the control of Muslims and Hindus, or should there be a two-state solution, a Muslim state living side-by-side in peace with a Hindu state? The argument that won the day was that Muslims can't stand pigs and Hindus can't eat cows, and so they can't live together. Finally, British, Muslim and Hindu officials all agreed that there had to be two separate states, India and Pakistan. In particular, the 1857 rebellion was still in everyone's mind, and it was hoped that the two-state solution would lead to peace.

    There's an old saying that "History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes." In this case, the massive violence of the 1857 rebellion was repeated, but not between Indians and British. Instead, it was between Hindus and Muslims, and with the same ferocity.

    In 1947, the Indian subcontinent was partitioned into two countries, India and Pakistan, and no sooner did that happen then there was a massive new generational crisis war. But with the British colonists gone, this war pitted the Hindus against Muslims, in one of the bloodiest wars of the 20th century.

    Once again, there was relative peace following the war, but once again, younger generations have been rising, and have no fear of a new war. The accusation today that Pakistan-based groups are using social media to incite violence is undoubtedly true, but India media are no better.

    Since the 1947 Partition war, there have been three non-crisis wars fought between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. Those wars fizzled, but now in a general Crisis era, all the participants -- Pakistanis, Kashmiris and Indians -- are becoming increasingly nationalistic and xenophobic. As the protests and violence grow, this would spiral into a much larger war, just as the initial protests did in 1857 and 1947, and turn into a war between Pakistan and India, both nuclear powers.

    Generational Dynamics predicts that the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war will pit China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries against the US, India, Russia and Iran. In the Mideast, Generational Dynamics predicts a full-scale Mideast war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other. Benar News and Greater Kashmir

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Apr-18 World View -- Massive new anti-India violence in Kashmir leads to 20 deaths thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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    1-Apr-18 World View -- Gaza Palestinian 'Land Day' demonstrations lead to violence with Israel's army

    Fears grow of resumption of 2014 Gaza war

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Gaza Palestinian 'Land Day' demonstrations lead to violence with Israel's army
    • Fears grow of resumption of 2014 Gaza war

    Gaza Palestinian 'Land Day' demonstrations lead to violence with Israel's army


    Palestinians shout during clashes with Israel troops on Friday (Reuters)
    Palestinians shout during clashes with Israel troops on Friday (Reuters)

    Thousands of Palestinians on Friday commemorated "Land Day" by marching near Gaza's border fence with Israel, apparently threatening to break through the fence into Israel. In the resulting confrontation with Israel's army, in which tear gas was first used to stop the march and then live gunfire, 16 Palestinians were killed. In addition, 1,400 Palestinians were also wounded on Friday, according to Gaza officials, with 758 wounded by live fire and the remainder hurt by rubber bullets and tear gas inhalation. No casualties were reported among Israelis.

    The original Land Day occurred on March 30, 1976, after Israel's government announced plans to build new Jewish settlements. This triggered Palestinian marches and demonstrations, and in the ensuing confrontation with Israel's army, six unarmed Palestinians were killed, and dozens injured. The original Land Day is a generational Awakening era climax for the Palestinians, and is consider a highly symbolic day, as the day when a new generation of Palestinian youth first united to oppose Israel.

    Hamas, the government authority of Gaza, and considered a terrorist organization by the US and the EU, is calling the demonstration the "Great March for Return," meaning that it's accompanied by demands for "Right of Return," the demand that Palestinians be permitted to return to the land that they lost in the Arab-Jewish war in 1948.

    The violence continued on Saturday, when Palestinian youths hurled stones at Israeli troops, drawing gunfire that wounded 70 people. Reuters and Middle East Eye and AP

    Fears grow of resumption of 2014 Gaza war

    Hamas has announced plans to continue the demonstrations for six weeks, until May 14, which is "Naqba Day" or "Catastrophe Day," commemorating the founding, in 1948, of the state of Israel. In addition, May 14 is the day announced by the Trump administration when the official US embassy to Israel will move to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

    Although there was a slight lessening of tensions on Saturday, there are concerns that tensions will grow during the six week period. On Saturday, Israel's military spokesman Brigadier General Ronen Manelis said that the Palestinian events were "an organized terrorist activity" by Hamas:

    "If it continues, we shall have no choice but to respond inside the Gaza Strip against terrorist targets which we understand to be behind these events."

    However, Palestinian leaders are calling for revenge, and it's feared that this could lead to a resumption of the 2014 Gaza War.

    The 67 day 2014 Gaza war was a disaster for Hamas. When the war began, Hamas's popularity surged to its highest levels, which is similar to what happens to any society when a war begins, but before there are setbacks. Militarily, the war was a disastrous defeat for Hamas, since Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system blocked almost every Hamas missile entering Israel, while Hamas could put up almost no resistance to the Israeli warplanes bombing Gaza. Hamas had to agree to a ceasefire that was, effectively, a return to the status quo ante from before the war, something that it had promised it wouldn't do. At the end of the war, Gaza was in ruins, and the Gaza Palestinians were worse off than when the war was started.

    Hamas is not known to have any new technology that would defeat Israel's Iron Dome system and, without that, they would be unlikely to wish to begin another war, and risk humiliation again. However, Iran and Hezbollah are also preparing for war with Israel, and it seems likely that Hamas would delay a war resumption until it could be coordinated with those two entities. BBC and Asharq Al Awsat and Al Jazeera and AFP

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Apr-18 World View -- Gaza Palestinian 'Land Day' demonstrations lead to violence with Israel's army thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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    31-Mar-18 World View -- Russia's Far East, Siberia and Vladivostok under threat from China

    Russians increasingly fear losing Lake Baikal to China - and to garbage

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Russia's Far East under growing threat from Chinese settlers and tourists
    • Russians increasingly fear losing Lake Baikal to China - and to garbage
    • Popular pressure grows in China to 'reclaim' Vladivostok (Haishenwai) from Russia

    Russia's Far East under growing threat from Chinese settlers and tourists


    Russia's Lake Baikal in Siberia.  Like regions in the South China Sea, India and Central Asia, the Chinese are claiming that it's their sovereign territory
    Russia's Lake Baikal in Siberia. Like regions in the South China Sea, India and Central Asia, the Chinese are claiming that it's their sovereign territory

    In 2012, Russia's prime minister Dmitry Medvedev issued a warning that a huge influx of immigrants from China into Siberia and Far East threatened Russia's control of the region and its rich resources. He said that it was "important not to allow negative manifestations ... including the formation of enclaves made up of foreign citizens."

    Medvedev even went so far as to invite the victims of Japan's 2011 earthquake to migrate there, at least partially over concern about Chinese migrants. Medvedev discussed offering supplies of food and medical equipment to the Japanese, and added, "In general we must now think about the use, if necessary, of some of the employment potential of our [Japanese] neighbors, especially in sparsely populated areas of Siberia and the Far East."

    Medvedev was right to be concerned. Russia's Far East suffered rapid depopulation since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. During the 1990s, there was enormous poverty and no support from the chaotic Moscow government. As a result, population fell by as much as 50% in the region, as millions migrated east, mostly to the European part of Russia. According to Medvedev, "More than eight million foreign citizens came to Russia in the first six months of 2012 alone."

    And the flow has continued since then. In just one city, Khabarovsk, about 20 miles from the Chinese border, more than 300 Chinese companies have business operations, investing in almost every major sector of the city’s economy such as trade, construction, lumber and natural resources exploration, hiring thousands of Chinese migrant workers.

    It's estimated that 1.5 million Chinese illegal migrant workers arrived in the region between June 2016 and June 2017, most of them doing manual labor. Russia's Far East is home to only seven million Russians (or just 1.3 per square kilometer), while there are ten times as many people living across the border in the northeastern region of China. Obviously, there's no way for Russian authorities to halt the flow of migrant workers from China. Jamestown and South China Morning Post (8-Jul-2017) and ABC News (14-Jul-2015)

    Russians increasingly fear losing Lake Baikal to China - and to garbage

    The deepest lake in the world is Russia's Lake Baikal in Siberia. Its surface area is the size of Belgium. It draws tourists from all over the world, but particularly from China.

    Russians are worried that Lake Baikal is drowning in garbage -- mostly from the Chinese migrants and tourists. According to Ivan Loginov, head of the public organization New Energy, the problem of garbage around Lake Baikal is a huge problem:

    "Literally next to any village or place of congestion people form huge mountains of garbage. And the saddest thing is that neither the volunteers nor the municipalities have enough strength to fight garbage. Vicious circle. People come and litter, but they do not have enough understanding that this garbage needs to be cleaned. And if they even collect it for themselves, they leave it on the bank, where it gradually accumulates.

    The municipalities do not have enough money to fight garbage. Moreover, the question arises: where should we take this garbage? In Buryatia garbage is not processed, roughly speaking, it is buried underground. And the situation is very deplorable. ... And garbage remains on the shores of Lake Baikal."

    The rising mountains of garbage are just one of the reasons that local Russians are appalled by Chinese tourists. Chinese guides tell Chinese tourists that Baikal is China’s northern sea, that their ancestors used to live there, and that the territory only belongs to Russia for the time being. These guides also reportedly encourage Chinese visitors to buy property and businesses in order to make money over the next decade. Many are doing so.

    Chinese involvement in the region has inspired outrage among Russians for several reasons. First is the massive influx of tourists who often behave badly, use only Chinese facilities and so bring little money to Russian firms, and are hated by the local population. Second, Chinese citizens have been buying up land on Lake Baikal that Russians are not allowed to purchase as well as acquiring various Russian companies. All this has been leading to an influx of Chinese permanent residents. And third, the entirely illegal Chinese logging operations in the region are being protected by Russian criminal groups and Russian officials allied with them.

    Chinese tourists, businesses and migrants are taking control of the region around Lake Baikal. This is not a trivial matter, and will lead to war when the time is ripe. Hong Kong Economic Journal (20-Sep-2017) and NY Times (24-Jul-2016) and Eurasian Business Briefing and Regnum (Russia) and (translation)

    Popular pressure grows in China to 'reclaim' Vladivostok (Haishenwai) from Russia

    The Chinese are increasingly claiming "indisputable sovereignty" over many countries' regions, including India, several Central Asian states, and of course the South China Sea, where the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague has ruled that all of China's activities are illegal.

    International law means little to the Chinese, who say that their own laws supersede international law, and give them the right to invade and annex any region they choose, and back it up with their massive and growing military, threatening to kill anyone who disagrees with them.

    Media reports indicate that Chinese people are asking this question, especially in social media:

    "If China was able to take back Hong Kong from the British on the grounds that the territory was ceded to Britain under an unequal treaty concluded in the 1840s, then why didn’t it reclaim Vladivostok as well, which was also ceded to Russia under another unequal treaty signed in the 1860s?"

    Vladivostok is the home of Russia's Pacific Fleet. It's the farthest point east in Russia, and it's connected to Moscow by the Trans-Siberian Railway that runs to and from Moscow in a week-long trip.

    Although the Chinese are now claiming Vladivostok as a historically Chinese city, that's provably not true, as it was a city controlled by Manchuria, not China. The Chinese call the city by its Manchurian name, Haishenwai. After China was defeated by the British Opium wars of the 1840s-50s, China was forced to cede Hong Kong to the British, and Vladivostok to the Russians. China annexed Manchuria after World War II, but Vladivostok remained in Russian (Soviet) hands.

    Russia's president Vladimir Putin takes a great deal of pride in Vladivostok and the Pacific Fleet. There is no possibility at all that Vladivostok will be ceded to the Chinese without a full-scale war, despite the demands of the Chinese social media.

    As long-time readers have known for years, Generational Dynamics predicts that the world is headed for a new Clash of Civilizations world war, with the "axis" of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries pitted against the "allies," the US, India, Russia and Iran.

    I'm frequently asked how it's possible that Russia will be a US ally, rather than a Chinese ally. The current alliance between Russia and China is a "marriage of convenience" between the countries, because they are both repeating Hitler's actions of annexing other countries' regions, and then they support each other in the United Nations.

    As we reported last year, China has placed nuclear missiles near the Amur River, which separates China from Russia's Far East. The nominal purpose of these Chinese missiles is to attack the US, but these and other missile systems can also conveniently target Moscow and other Russian targets.

    Historically, the Russian and Chinese people hate each other. 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.

    From there, the Mongol Empire attacked and conquered almost all the Russian principalities, and made them bitter vassals of the Mongol Empire, in a relationship called the "Mongol Yoke." This hated period, two centuries long, has defined the relationship between the Russian and Chinese people forever. The Mongol Yoke was only thrown off in September 8, 1380, in the seminal Battle of Kulikovo, a generational crisis war where the Russians decisively defeated the Mongols, and the Russian nation was born.

    The Mongol Yoke still defines Russian-Chinese attitudes today. Even as recently as the 1960s, China and the Soviet Union almost went to war in the border region with Siberia and the Far East.

    There's a certain ironic truth that comes through when you read Russian history. The Russian people and the Chinese people hate each other, but the Russian people like the American people, and they love the European people, despite the rhetoric of politicians. In the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, when Russia is forced to choose between China and the West, they will choose the West. Russia Beyond the Headlines and Way To Russia

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-Mar-18 World View -- Russia's Far East, Siberia and Vladivostok under threat from China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    30-Mar-18 World View -- Ethiopia chooses an Oromo leader, as Kenya has farcical confrontation with the courts

    Ethiopia chooses Oromo leader, Abiy Ahmed, hoping to reduce violence

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Ethiopia chooses Oromo leader, Abiy Ahmed, hoping to reduce violence
    • Kenya's government vs the judiciary -- tensions mount over farcical deportation spectacle

    Ethiopia chooses Oromo leader, Abiy Ahmed, hoping to reduce violence


    Ethiopian protesters facing the military
    Ethiopian protesters facing the military

    Ethiopia has been without a prime minister since February 15, when prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned, saying, "I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy."

    Since late 2015, there have been massive anti-government protests in Ethiopia's Oromia region, which later spread to the neighboring Amhara region, leaving hundreds dead and resulting in tens of thousands of arrests. A state of emergency was imposed in October 2016, allowing mass detentions, and imposing numerous restrictions on people’s movement and communication. The state of emergency ended in August 2017, but massive protests began again, with millions of protesters by February, leading to Hailemariam's resignation.

    The situation has worsened considerably since Hailemariam's resignation. Almost 10,000 Ethiopians, mostly ethnic Oromos, have fled across the border into Kenya, after Ethiopian government soldiers began shooting civilians indiscriminately, even in their homes and shops.

    In the hopes of ending the chaos and bloodshed, Ethiopia's ruling government coalition chose an Oromo, Abiy Ahmed, 42, to be a leader of the coalition. He is now expected to be voted in by parliament as the country’s next prime minister.

    Abiy is being described as a "polyglot," because he's a speaker of three Ethiopian languages and English He holds a doctorate from Addis Ababa University in traditional conflict resolution and has represented his Oromiya hometown of Agaro in parliament since 2010. He is a retired lieutenant-colonel who previously served as director of the nation’s Information Network Security Agency, which says it provides technical intelligence to support the government.

    The obvious hope is that by selecting an Oromo as leader, Abiy will be able to "reason with" the Oromo people and end the massive protests.

    An analogy can be drawn with the situation in Myanmar (Burma). The Burmese army, under the leadership of Buddhist Monk Ashin Wirathu using Buddhism, began conducting massacres, rapes and torture against ethnic Rohingyas. When Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi effectively became the country's leader, it was welcomed by the entire international community with the hope that the Burmese army would then allow the Rohingyas to live in peace. Instead, the violence has only gotten worse, to the point of ethnic cleansing and genocide, with some 800,000 Rohingyas forced to flee the violence by crossing the border into Bangladesh. You can argue whether Suu Kyi approves of the ethnic cleansing, or whether she disapproves but is forced to approve by the Burmese army. Either way, Suu Kyi has effective turned into a new Hitler, who is providing cover for the continued ethnic cleansing and genocide.

    We may be seeing the first signs of a similar situation in Ethiopia. Abiy Ahmed is just one person, while the existing government, dominated by ethnic Tigrayans, holds all 547 seats in parliament. Abiy is going to be lone voice in the wilderness, compared to the traditional opposition.

    There may be a brief pause, but we can expect the protests and violence to start again and continue. What will Abiy do then? Will he be another Aung San Suu Kyi and provide cover for continued Tigrayan violence against Oromos and Amharas? Or will he resign, just as Hailemariam Desalegn, and denounce the violence?

    It really doesn't make much difference. Either way, we can expect the violence to continue, and we can expect millions more Oromos and Amharas to flee across the border into Kenya, further destabilizing the region. Africa News and Al Jazeera and Reuters and The Nation (Kenya, 14-Mar) and Bloomberg

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    Kenya's government vs the judiciary -- tensions mount over farcical deportation spectacle

    While Ethiopian Oromos are seeking fleeing violence into Kenya, there's also chaos in Kenya's capital city Nairobi, where a farcical deportation spectacle highlighted an increasing conflict between the government of Uhuru Kenyatta and the judiciary.

    Uhuru Kenyatta and his major opposition are from two ethnic tribes that have been at war in the past -- respectively the Kikuyu tribe and the Luo tribe. The enmity between the two tribes has affected the political sphere, and from there it's spread into a conflict between the government and the judiciary.

    The first major split occurred last year, when Kenya's Supreme Court shocked pretty much everybody and sided with Odinga in claiming that the August 8 presidential election was "invalid, null and void," forcing a new election. Kenyatta was furious, as he began calling the judges "crooks," saying that there was problem with the court, and promising to "fix it" after he was reelected.

    Kenyatta did win the election, but has been cracking down on Odinga's supporters, and arresting many of them. One of those supporters is political activist Miguna Miguna. In February, the court ordered the government to release him from jail, and the government ignored the court order.

    Now there's been a farcical new chapter in this drama. Earlier this week, a court held several top Kenyan government officials in contempt for refusing to release Miguna Miguna from custody. Instead of releasing him, the government thugs allegedly drugged him and bundled him onto a plane to Dubai. He wrote in social media:

    "I was dragged, assaulted, drugged and forcefully flown to Dubai. I woke up in Dubai and the despots are here insisting that I must travel on to London. ...

    I woke up in Dubai. I’m sick. I need medical treatment. A Mr Njihia is threatening me. I need urgent help here. I want to take a flight only to Nairobi. Nowhere else!"

    Video of security guards manhandling Miguna as they tried to force him onto a plane the same day went viral, while a number of journalists covering the story were allegedly assaulted.

    The chief justice, David Maraga, criticized the government, saying: "Disobeying court orders is inimical to the rule of law." The interior minister, inspector general of police and head of immigration have been convicted of contempt of court. Standard Media (Kenya) and BBC and Standard Media

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Mar-18 World View -- Ethiopia chooses an Oromo leader, as Kenya has farcical confrontation with the courts thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    29-Mar-18 World View -- Russia-China strategy to use the UN to control Western foreign policy has stopped working

    China 'prepares for war' with massive naval/air force drills in South China Sea

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Russia-China strategy to use the UN to control Western foreign policy has stopped working
    • The West reacts to Russia's poisoning of double-agent Skripal
    • China reacts furiously to Western expulsion of Russian diplomats
    • China 'prepares for war' with massive naval/air force drills in South China Sea

    Russia-China strategy to use the UN to control Western foreign policy has stopped working


    Early March: Vladimir Putin smirks when a BBC reporter asks him whether Russia poisoned Sergei Skripal
    Early March: Vladimir Putin smirks when a BBC reporter asks him whether Russia poisoned Sergei Skripal

    In 2011, massive protests and gun battles in Tunisia spread to Libya, and by February, the bloodbath in Libya spread from Benghazi and Tobruk in the east to Tripoli in the west. This caused a massive refugee crisis in Libya, with hundreds of thousands of refugees pouring into Egypt and neighboring countries, and across the Mediterranean into 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.

    As I wrote in 2011, Russia adopted a specific policy of using the UN Security Council as a tool to control the foreign policy of the United States, Europe and NATO, while leaving itself free to pursue any policy it wanted. ( "22-Apr-11 News -- Russia seeks to cripple Nato through Libya United Nations politics")

    The way it works is that Russia demands that any military action taken by the United States or Nato must be approved by the UN Security Council, giving the Russians an effective veto of the US and Nato foreign policy. On the other hand, Russia can invade Ukraine, invade Crimea, annex Crimea, support war crimes by Syria's Bashar al-Assad, all without getting any UN approval. So Russia has complete military freedom, while the West is constrained by Russia's UNSC veto. It's really a remarkable plan, and it's been incredibly successful, completely crippling the UN, and turning it into a body that provides cover for international criminals, rather than stopping them.

    China has adopted a variation of the same strategy. China has built artificial islands in the South China Sea, annexing other countries' regions or blocking access by other countries to their centuries-old fishing grounds, and has turned those artificial islands into massive military bases. The United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague eviscerated all of China's claims in the South China Sea, in July, 2013, and ruled that all of China's activities are unambiguously violations of international law.

    China's reaction is to say that international law doesn't apply to them. China has also been using its military to bully other nations into supporting them. It's as if the KKK lynched 10 black men and then bullied cops and judges into supporting them.

    So Russia and China have made it clear that international law doesn't apply to them, and they can do anything they want, and they'll kill anyone who tries to stop them.

    Two recent international events, both major and remarkable, have made it clear that this strategy is no longer working.

    The first is the North Korea situation, where the Donald Trump administration had made military threats that are actually credible. A lot of people have said publicly that they think that Trump is crazy, but that's a negotiating strategy that's worked to his advantage, since both China and North Korea think he's crazy enough to carry through with his threat. And it's clear that any military action taken by the Trump administration will not be subject to a Russian or Chinese veto in the UN Security Council.

    The West reacts to Russia's poisoning of double-agent Skripal

    The second remarkable international event is the Western reaction to the March 4 poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, using a Russia-developed nerve agent Novichok. At this writing, both of the poison victims are in hospital, and are not expected to survive.

    From the beginning, there was little doubt that Russia was responsible, and that they were sure they would get away with it, because of Russia's veto power in the UN Security Council. As I reported in my article, Russia's president Vladimir Putin smirked and gave a sarcastic answer when a BBC reporter asked about it.

    This was followed by a massive disinformation campaign by Russia by Russian trolls, calling the accusations a "circus show," a "fairy tale," and a "plot to victimize Russia." On the BBC a couple of days ago, I heard a Russian official claim that this was the latest in 200 years of Western attacks on Russia.

    Britain's foreign secretary Boris Johnson gave a furious response to this:

    "There is something in the kind of smug, sarcastic response that we’ve heard that indicates their fundamental guilt. They want to simultaneously deny it, yet at the same time to glory in it.

    There is very little doubt in people’s minds that this is a signature act by the Russia state – deliberately using novichok, a nerve agent developed by Russia to punish a Russian defector as they would see it, and in the run up to Vladimir Putin’s election.

    This was a former Russian agent living in this country who had been singled out already by the Russian state as an object for revenge and retaliation, and Vladimir Putin has been on the TV only recently saying that such people deserve to be poisoned, to choke on their own 30 pieces of silver. This is a way of showing look at what happens to people who stand up to our regime."

    An investigation of the evidence by scientists from Britain and several other European countries led to the conclusion that Russia, and probably Putin himself, were responsible for the poisoning.

    That much isn't remarkable at all. Putin has had other former agents poisoned in the past, and has violated international law many times, and there were the same kinds of investigations, and the same kinds of disinformation campaigns by Russian trolls. And there was always the same smirk, because Putin knew that he would get away with it.

    What is remarkable this time is that Western nations were united in backing Britain's prime minister Theresa May in taking action against Russia. Over 20 countries, including the US, Canada, and several European Union countries, have expelled Russian diplomats.

    Expelling diplomats is not going to do much damage to Putin. The shocking thing is that all of these Western nations were unified in condemning Russia, something that hasn't happened in the past. This was meant to send a signal to Russia, and to China as well, the days of using the United Nations to have veto power over Western foreign policy are coming to an end. Guardian (London, 15-March) and Reuters (18-March)

    China reacts furiously to Western expulsion of Russian diplomats

    The expulsion of the diplomats by so many countries was a big surprise to both Russia and China. China's state-controlled Global Times responded with a furious editorial:

    "The fact that major Western powers can gang up and "sentence" a foreign country without following the same procedures other countries abide by and according to the basic tenets of international law is chilling. During the Cold War, not one Western nation would have dared to make such a provocation and yet today it is carried out with unrestrained ease. Such actions are nothing more than a form of Western bullying that threatens global peace and justice."

    It's laughable to read about the Chinese appealing to international law. Keep in mind that what the Chinese are whining about is expelling some diplomats. Contrast that to China's actions in the South China Sea, which are violations of international law thousands of times more serious than just expelling diplomats.

    However, the article is right to say, "During the Cold War, not one Western nation would have dared to make such a provocation and yet today it is carried out with unrestrained ease." That was during a generational Unraveling era, when everybody's behavior is far more compromising. Today, the world is deep into a generational Crisis era, and as I've written many dozens of times in recent years, populations are becoming increasingly nationalistic, belligerent and xenophobic.

    "Over the past few years the international standard has been falsified and manipulated in ways never seen before. The fundamental reason behind reducing global standards is rooted in post-Cold War power disparities. The US, along with their allies, jammed their ambitions into the international standards so their actions, which were supposed to follow a set of standardized procedures and protocol, were really nothing more than profit-seizing opportunities designed only for themselves. These same Western nations activated in full-force public opinion-shaping platforms and media agencies to defend and justify such privileges."

    This is a typical Chinese anti-American rant. I don't know what "full-force public opinion-shaping platforms and media agencies" this is referring to, but in the West we have news sources expressing all points of view, while in China if you express a view not approved by the Chinese Communist Party, then you can get yourself abducted, thrown into a pit, tortured and killed.

    "As of late, more foreign countries have been victimized by Western rhetoric and nonsensical diplomatic measures. In the end, the leaders of these nations are forced to wear a hat featuring slogans and words that read "oppressing their own people," "authoritarian," or "ethnic cleansing," regardless of their innocence."

    Who are these Chinese talking about? Maybe they're talking about the officials in Myanmar (Burma) who are performing genocide and ethnic cleansing on the Rohingyas.

    "It is beyond outrageous how the US and Europe have treated Russia. Their actions represent a frivolity and recklessness that has grown to characterize Western hegemony that only knows how to contaminate international relations. Right now is the perfect time for non-Western nations to strengthen unity and collaborative efforts among one another. These nations need to establish a level of independence outside the reach of Western influence while breaking the chains of monopolization declarations, predetermined adjudications, and come to value their own judgement abilities.

    It's already understood that to achieve such international collective efforts is easier said than done as they require foundational support before anything can happen. Until a new line of allies emerges, multi-national associations like BRICS, or even the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, need to provide value to those non-Western nations and actively create alliances with them.

    What Russia is experiencing right could serve as a reflection of how other non-Western nations can expect to be treated in the not-to-distant future. Expelling Russian diplomats simultaneously is hardly enough to deter Russia. Overall, it's an intimidation tactic that has become emblematic of Western nations, and furthermore, such measures are not supported by international law and therefore unjustified. More importantly, the international community should have the tools and means to counterbalance such actions."

    This gets to the heart of the matter. The Chinese are proposing to create another international organization, perhaps a competitor to the United Nations, where they would be in control. This idea is completely delusional, since even if such an organization existed, it would run into the same kinds of conflicts that occur in the UN Security Council.

    Russia and China in particular were almost in full-scale war with each other in the 1960s. Today they have a marriage of convenience because they're both annexing other countries' regions, doing what Hitler did prior to WW II, and using each other to justify their actions. Russia and China are basically two criminal countries, applying the rule of "honor among thieves."

    But the real message here is that China and Russia wish to formalize their rejection of international law, which has formed the basis of peace since the end of World War II.

    As I've written many times, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, Jews versus Arabs, and various ethnic groups against each other. Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, the "axis" of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the "allies," the US, India, Russia and Iran. Global Times

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    China 'prepares for war' with massive naval/air force drills in South China Sea

    China has begun conducting massive maritime combat drills, including dozens of vessels mobilized in the South China Sea as part of what the military said would be bigger, more frequent exercises in the tense region.

    It appears increasingly that China is preparing its population for war. This is an essential first step before actually launching a war.

    Satellite photos show an aircraft carrier and dozens of Chinese naval vessels in a large show of force. The Air Force said on its social media account that the exercises were "rehearsals for future wars and are the most direct preparation for combat." Global Times and Telegraph (London) and Newsweek and Stars and Stripes and Reuters

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Mar-18 World View -- Russia-China strategy to use the UN to control Western foreign policy has stopped working thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    28-Mar-18 World View -- Tense Turkey-EU summit in Bulgaria once again ends in failure

    Other unresolved issues from the EU-Turkey summit meeting

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Tense Turkey-EU summit in Bulgaria once again ends in failure
    • Other unresolved issues from the EU-Turkey summit meeting

    Tense Turkey-EU summit in Bulgaria once again ends in failure


    After a tense meeting that accomplished nothing, the EU and Turkish leaders posed for a silly photo opportunity where they pretend to be friends.  From left to right: Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, European Council President Donald Tusk, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and European Commission President Jean-Claude Jüncker
    After a tense meeting that accomplished nothing, the EU and Turkish leaders posed for a silly photo opportunity where they pretend to be friends. From left to right: Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, European Council President Donald Tusk, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and European Commission President Jean-Claude Jüncker

    Tensions between the European Union and Turkey have been tense in the last year, including EU referring to Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a "dictator," and Erdogan comparing the Dutch and German governments to the Nazis.

    So there was a summit meeting on Monday in Varna, Bulgaria, attended by Erdogan, European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Jüncker, as well as Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borissov. The purpose of the meeting was to mend relations between Turkey and the EU.

    There was a lot of angry rhetoric, and there were whole lists of issues on both sides that were left unresolved. However, neither side wanted to risk a total breakdown on relations, so they agreed to continue the EU-Turkey refugee deal, at least in part:

    • To control the flow of migrants from Turkey to Greece, across the Aegean Sea, the agreement specified that Turkey would patrol its Aegean Sea beaches and prevent migrants from leaving shore. Turkey's actions reduced the flow of migrants from millions in 2015 to hundreds of thousands in 2017.
    • The EU had promised to provide €6 billion to Turkey, for humanitarian assistance to Syrian migrants living in Turkey, in two separate €3 billion payments. However, only €1.8 billion has been provided so far, and Erdogan is demanding that the EU fulfill its promise.
    • Visa liberalization: The EU promised to allow all citizens of Turkey to have visa-free travel throughout Europe's Schengen zone by the end of June 2016. The EU has never fulfilled this promise.

    Erdogan has repeatedly expressed fury in particular that the visa-free travel has not been permitted. RTE (Ireland) and EU Observer and Reuters and Kathimerini (Athens)

    Other unresolved issues from the EU-Turkey summit meeting

    At the conclusion of Monday's summit meeting, European Council president Donald Tusk said:

    "If you are asking me if we achieved some solutions or compromises, my answer is no. What I can say that is that I raised all our concerns, as you know it was a long list."

    EU accession continues to be a major point of hostility -- the process of allowing Turkey to become a member of the European Union. There have been talks since 2005, but there has been enormous hostility on both sides historically rooted from the time when Turkey's Ottoman Empire and European nations were at war. The talks were frozen completely following the failed coup in July, 2016.

    The most recent major new disagreement occurred two weeks ago, when Turkey sent warships to block gas and oil exploration in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone.

    Cyprus has been bitterly divided since a 1974 war, with Greek Orthodox Christian Greeks governing the south, and Muslim Turks governing the north. The two sides are partitioned by a "no-man's land," a strip that stretches 112 miles across the entire island. Today, it's only the Greek government of Cyprus that is recognized by the EU, and is a member of the EU.

    Turkey has condemned actions by the Greek Cyprus government to drill for oil and gas without an agreement that Turkey should receive a share of the revenue.

    In February, Turkish warships blocked an Italian company that was scheduled to drill in Cyprus's territorial waters. Turkey said it would prevent any further drilling off Cyprus without the direct involvement of the Turkish Cypriots.

    EU leaders made clear that the EU was in solidarity with Cyprus, and that it was necessary for Turkey to improve its relations with both Greece and Cyprus.

    Another recent disagreement is related to the war in Syria, and to Turkey's Operation Olive Branch, whose purpose is to take control of Syria's northern border city of Afrin. The message from the EU has been mixed. Afrin was controlled by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which is linked to the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). The PKK has conducted numerous violent terrorist acts on Turkish soil, and is recognized as a terrorist group by the United States and the EU. So the mixed message from the EU in recent days was "you have a right to protect your border, but don't go too far in killing or displacing civilians." EU officials are giving the Afrin operation as another reason for a delay in further accession talks.

    However, with regard to the military operation in Afrin, Erdogan said he expects the EU’s support in dealing with terrorists. Erdogan said:

    "It would be a grave mistake for Europe, which claims to be a global force, to push Turkey out of its expansion policy.

    Our operations against terrorism not only contribute to the security of ourselves and the Syrians but also to the security of Europe.

    We now expect strong support [from Europe] on sensitive issues such as the fight against terrorism instead of rambling and unjust criticism.

    I hope that we together have taken the first step of restoring confidence between the EU and us [Turkey] today, but it is not enough to say that we took this step; it has to be taken in concrete terms.

    We hope that we have left a difficult period in Turkey-EU relations behind."

    Other issues raised by the European Union include concerns about the rule of law in Turkey, the mass jailing of journalists, and the jailing of two Greek soldiers who accidentally crossed the border from Greece into Turkey.

    With regard to the Greek soldiers, European Commission president Jean-Claude Jüncker said that they should be released from jail before the Greek Orthodox Easter on April 8. (The Catholic Easter this year is on April 1.) To Vima (Athens) and AP (22-Mar) and Cyprus Mail and EU Observer and Hurriyet (Ankara)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Mar-18 World View -- Tense Turkey-EU summit in Bulgaria once again ends in failure thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    27-Mar-18 World View -- Al-Houthi missile attack on Saudi cities sharply escalates the Yemen war

    Yemen's Iran-backed al-Houthi rebels launch barrage of missile attacks on Saudi cities

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Yemen's Iran-backed al-Houthi rebels launch barrage of missile attacks on Saudi cities
    • Al-Houthi missile attack on Saudi cities sharply escalates the Yemen war

    Yemen's Iran-backed al-Houthi rebels launch barrage of missile attacks on Saudi cities


    Light show over Saudi capital city Riyadh, as American-supplied Patriot missiles intercept ballistic missiles launched by al-Houthis in Yemen (CNN)
    Light show over Saudi capital city Riyadh, as American-supplied Patriot missiles intercept ballistic missiles launched by al-Houthis in Yemen (CNN)

    The Yemen war sharply escalated on Monday when the rebel al-Houthis launched a barrage of seven ballistic missiles from Yemen across the Saudi Arabia border. Three of them targeted the capital city Riyadh, while the other four targeted other nearby cities. In all cases, civilian neighborhoods were targeted.

    The Saudis targeted the incoming missiles with defensive American-supplied Patriot missiles. At least one and possibly two of the Patriot missiles failed to achieve its objective of destroying the incoming missile. One incoming missile hit a residential area, and another exploded in mid-air shortly after launch. An Egyptian woman was killed, though it's not clear whether she was killed by an incoming missile or by falling debris from a missile destroyed in flight.

    Saudi officials are claiming that the missiles must have been supplied by Iran, since they were too sophisticated to have been developed by the al-Houthis themselves. The missile attack is infuriating the Saudis, who are becoming increasingly belligerent and nationalistic, and the attack raises the possibility that the Saudis might retaliate militarily directly against Iran.

    Yemen is considered to be the worst humanitarian disaster in the world today. Out of a population of 27.6 million, about 50,000 people have died of starvation, and 8.4 million more are on the verge of starvation. Disease is rampant, where over one million people have contracted cholera. The Saudis have largely blocked the ports, preventing humanitarian food and water from being delivered, leaving the people on their own.

    Saudi Arabia has been under increasing international pressure to end the Yemen war and end the humanitarian disaster. Both Britain and the US have been supplying weapons to the Saudis, and politicians in both countries have been demanding that the supply of weapons be stopped.

    The Saudis point out that they're acting on behalf of the UN-recognized government of Yemen, and that they're fighting rebels who have overthrown the legitimate government. They also point out that an Iran-backed Houthi government on the Saudi southern border would present an existential threat. Gulf News (Dubai) and Saudi Gazette and CNN and The National (Abu Dhabi)

    Al-Houthi missile attack on Saudi cities sharply escalates the Yemen war

    It's not clear why the al-Houthis launched this attack. Perhaps they believe that by targeting civilian neighborhoods in Saudi Arabia, they can build both international and Saudi domestic opposition to the war, and force the Saudis to withdraw and hand a victory to the al-Houthis.

    That might have been true in the 1990s during a generational Unraveling era, when the Silent Generation, the last survivors of World War II, were in charge, and there was a great aversion to war. But today, we're in a generational Crisis era, with younger generations in charge, and nationalism and xenophobia are surging around the world.

    So if the al-Houthis were hoping that this attack would convince the Saudis to back down, there's no chance of that. Instead, increased nationalism will cause the Saudis to take even more drastic steps to win the war, while critics who want Britain and the US to stop supplying weapons will be muted. I would expect the Saudis to sharply escalate their actions in the next few weeks, possibly even taking some action directly targeting Iran. Gulf News (Dubai) and The National (Abu Dhabi) and Business Insider and Foreign Policy

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Mar-18 World View -- Al-Houthi missile attack on Saudi cities sharply escalates the Yemen war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    26-Mar-18 World View -- Spain's arrests of Catalonia secessionist leaders revive memories of Franco's brutal atrocities

    Violent clashes with police in Spain's Catalonia follow arrest of Puigdemont in Germany

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Violent clashes with police in Spain's Catalonia follow arrest of Puigdemont in Germany
    • Spain's arrests of Catalonia secessionist leaders revive memories of Franco's brutal atrocities

    Violent clashes with police in Spain's Catalonia follow arrest of Puigdemont in Germany


    Catalonia protesters clash with police in Barcelona on Sunday (AP)
    Catalonia protesters clash with police in Barcelona on Sunday (AP)

    At least 50 people were injured on Sunday when tens of thousands of supporters of Carles Puigdemont, the former leader of Spain's Catalonia region, clashed with Spanish policy in Barcelona, Catalonia's capital city, after Puigdemont was arrested in Germany, based on a European arrest warrant issued by a Spanish court.

    The story of Puigdemont's arrest is a kind of spy thriller.

    Puigdemont led a failed attempt at Catalonian independence in September of last year, after which a Spanish court issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of treason and sedition. He fled to Belgium, where authorities refused an extradition request, on condition that Puigdemont not leave Belgium. Spain retracted the arrest warrant earlier this year, leaving Puigdemont free to travel again.

    He traveled to Finland to give some lectures, but on Friday Spain's government issued new arrest warrants for Puigdemont and for other leaders who had supported the attempt at secession.

    The new arrest warrant caught Puigdemont by surprise. When Puigdemont got word of the new arrest warrant on Friday, he immediately tried to flee Finland by car, hoping to reach the safety of Belgium undetected. He crossed the border into Sweden, and traveled south into Denmark. From there he crossed the border into Germany, and was recognized and arrested in Germany when he stopped at a filling station.

    If Germany extradites Puigdemont back to Spain, and he is convicted of the crimes he's charged with, then the punishment will be 25-30 years in prison. However, Puigdemont's lawyers will try to convince Germany's courts that they can't extradite because the arrest is political. This is similar to the reasoning that Belgium's court used when it refused to extradite him. Under EU rules, a court in one EU member state can only extradite a person sought by another member state if they are confident the suspect will face equivalent fair legal procedures and trial. The battles in Germany's courts are expected to continue for weeks. For the time being, Puigdemont is in a German jail.

    Puigdemont's arrest has infuriated the half of Catalonia's public that support him. The other half of Catalonia's public is against independence, and many of them believe that Puigdemont should be charged and jailed. Irish Times and BBC and AP and CNN

    Spain's arrests of Catalonia secessionist leaders revive memories of Franco's brutal atrocities

    As I described last year in "23-Sep-17 World View -- The 1930s Spanish Civil War fault lines explode again over Catalonia independence referendum", memories of Generalísimo Francisco Franco's fascist nationalism and his brutal atrocities targeting Catalonians in the extremely bloody Spanish Civil War (1936-39) are now being revived.

    Puigdemont's arrest by the Germans is being compared on social media to the arrest by the German Gestapo of Lluís Companys, the president of Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War.

    After Franco's victory in the Battle of the Ebro on July 25, 1938, at the climax of the Spanish Civil War, Franco began an offensive against Catalonia, forcing the government of Catalonia to exile itself in France. They were safe in France until France capitulated to the Nazis in June 1940. Companys was arrested by the German Gestapo in Brittany on August 13th 1940 and handed over to the Francoist authorities on August 29th. Companys was held in solitary confinement, tortured and eventually executed by firing squad on October 14, 1940.

    There are few people alive today who have personal memories of the Spanish Civil War and of the capture and execution of Companys. However, Francisco Franco did not die until 1975, and there are many people alive today, including Puigdemont himself, who have personal memories of Franco and of his severe repression of the Catalan region.

    That's why many Catalonians today are comparing the German arrest of Puigdemont to the 1940 Gestapo arrest of another Catalan leader, Lluís Companys. If the German courts decide to extradite Puigdemont and turn him over to Spain's government, then the circle of history will be complete. AFP and TeleSur TV and Barcelonas.com

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Mar-18 World View -- Spain's arrests of Catalonia secessionist leaders revive memories of Franco's brutal atrocities thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    25-Mar-18 World View -- The Pivotal Generation (Generation Z) marches for gun control, tilting at windmills

    Defining the generations -- Silent, Boomer, Generation-X, Millennial, Pivotal

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Florida school shooting causes millions of high school students to rally for gun control
    • The rise of the Pivotal Generation (Generation Z)
    • Defining the generations -- Silent, Boomer, Generation-X, Millennial, Pivotal

    Florida school shooting causes millions of high school students to rally for gun control


    High-school students and their families in Washington on Saturday for the 'March for our Lives' (ZeroHedge)
    High-school students and their families in Washington on Saturday for the 'March for our Lives' (ZeroHedge)

    Saturday's "March for our Lives" rallies were national and international. The current generation of high-school students held a spectacular coming-out part on Saturday, as millions students and their families flooded into Washington, and cities around the world. For many of the kids, this must have been the most exciting and thrilling day of their young lives.

    So the first thing to understand is that these kids are not Millennials. People born since 1999 are in a new generation, the next generation after Millennials, called the Pivotal Generation (because they're pivoting away from the Millennials), or often called "Generation Z" (a name they hate).

    The recent school shooting in Florida has triggered a rather spectacular entrance by the Pivotals into national politics, and they're driving politics in several new directions that differ from the Millennials.

    Democrats completely co-opted Saturdays "March for our Lives" rallies by completely excluding any high school student from speaking who took any position contrary to the positions of the Democratic party leadership. Thus all the political messages were pro-gun control, anti-Republican, anti-National Rifle Association (NRA), and opposed to any solutions proposed by other parties, such as gun violence restraining orders, arming school resource officers, and updating instant criminal background checks.

    However, the kids in the Pivotal Generation do not by any means hold positions matching those in the Democratic Party. As for getting gun control enacted, they're tilting at windmills. Within a few months, the Pivotals will be on to a new and even more exciting issue, and this issue will be forgotten. NBC News and March for Our Lives web site and Zero Hedge

    The rise of the Pivotal Generation (Generation Z)

    The attitudes of the Pivotals are not anti-NRA at their core. The Pivotals are pro-security, especially school security. The rallies were called "March for our Lives," not "March to kill the NRA." Since there's really no solution to the school security problem, they allowed their rally to be co-opted by the anti-NRA stance because it's the only thing they understand. However, the pro-security policy is much more right wing than left wing.

    Research on the Pivotals during the last year or two has revealed three major themes in their political beliefs:

    • Demands for total equality (left wing). The "total equality" policy is related to race, sex, religion, etc. However, the total equality idea is abandoned as soon as its inconvenient. In particular, Pivotals are fully on board with total age discrimination against older generations.
    • High security and safety (right wing). This policy morphed into a left-wing anti-NRA stance on Saturday, but it's basically a right-wing position emphasizing greater personal security. An event like a major jihadist terrorist attack on American soil or a major military setback could cause the Pivotals to adopt right-wing political issues just as quickly as the Florida school shooting caused them to adopt left-wing gun control positions.
    • Working for success (right wing). This might be called the "anti-snowflake" stance. Pivotals sometimes describe Millennials in the same way that Boomers see Millennials -- as "snowflakes" who feel that they're entitled to success without having to work for it. The Pivotals as young children lived through the financial crisis, and see themselves as having to work for their success. The right event could cause many Pivotals to adopt political positions opposed to much welfare and domestic spending.

    In generational theory, a "regeneracy event" is an event that regenerates civic unity and unifies the country behind the country's leader for the first time since the end of the preceding generational crisis war (WW II in this case). A regeneracy event today might be, for example, a North Korean nuclear weapon ballistic missile attack on Los Angeles. With their demand for total security and willingness to work for success, the Pivotals in case of war would combine into a powerful patriotic force willing to do whatever is necessary to fight for the nation. They will truly be the next "Greatest Generation."

    Whatever events unfold in the future, the Pivotal Generation is pivoting away from Millennials and other generations, and is adopting a unique set of attitudes and behaviors that will end up being a surprise to everyone, including both political parties. Barkley US and Barkley US (PDF) and Reno Gazette and Inc

    Defining the generations -- Silent, Boomer, Generation-X, Millennial, Pivotal

    According to the US government Census Bureau:

    "The term “baby boomer” refers to individuals born in the United States between mid-1946 and mid-1964 (Hogan, Perez, and Bell, 2008). Distinctions between the baby boom cohort and birth cohorts from preceding and subsequent years become apparent when fertility measures are framed within a historical context. The baby boom in the United States was marked by a substantial rise in birth rates post-World War II. Two features of the baby boom differentiate this increase from those previously experienced: the size of the birth cohort and the length of time for which these higher levels of fertility were sustained."

    In other words, many couples held off having children during the Great Depression and World War II, but as soon as the war ended they started having children as quickly as possible.

    The birth year range 1946-1964 for Boomers makes sense for demographic purposes, which is the business that the Census Bureau is in. But from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, it's not particularly useful. The useful question is NOT "When is the first year that babies were born after World War II?" The useful question is: "When is the first year that babies were born when they were never personally aware of and traumatized by the horrific events of World War II?"

    Generally speaking, you have to be about four years old to be aware of what's going on in the world, and so for generational theory, the earliest birth year for the Boomers is not 1946, but is 1942. Anyone born earlier (the Silent Generation) would likely have been traumatized by World War II, and anyone born later would likely not have even been aware of World War II. That's why I don't use the phrase "born after WW II" to describe the Boomers. Instead, I use the phrase "growing up after WW II."

    The Silent Generation is the one preceding the Boomers. They got that name in an interesting way. They were originally called the "Depression Babies," obviously because they were born just before or during the Great Depression of the 1930s. However, during the 1950s, Time Magazine began calling them the "Silent Generation," and the name stuck.

    The reason that Time called them the Silent Generation is because they never complained about anything. They had grown up during the Depression, they had seen their fathers, brothers and uncles die gruesomely during the war, and by the 1950s they were happy to have families, jobs, and a home with a white picket fence. They did their jobs, and worked patriotically to help rebuild the world after World War II.

    The period after a crisis war like World War II is called a "Recovery Era," since it's everybody's job to help the nation and the world recover from the war.

    The Census Bureau says that the last birth year for Boomers was 1964. Once again, that's useful for demographers, but for Generational Theory, we identify the end of the Recovery Era and the beginning of the "Awakening Era" as the beginning of social activism by Boomers, as they come of age. For us, the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom is the beginning of the Awakening Era, as the first major activist event by the Boomers. As in the case of the Boomers, we subtract four years, and set 1959 as the last birth year for the Boomers and the first birth year for Generation-X.

    The children in Generation-X grew up in a world that seemed like total chaos to them. There was rioting in the streets, males were burning their draft cards, girls were burning their bras, there was streaking, there was the Summer of Love in 1967, the riots at the Democratic convention in 1968, the killing of students at Kent State University, and a vast generation gap over the Vietnam war and race and environment issues.

    Whereas the Boomers were pampered as children in the Baby Boom following WW II, the Gen-Xers were left mostly on their own, and were definitely not pampered. Whereas the Boomers had a stable childhood with families and parents with jobs, the Gen-Xers were surrounded by social unrest and instability. In particular, feminist organizations were telling mothers to dump their husbands, and not let the kids see their fathers, in order to get as much money as possible. So many Gen-Xers grew up with no fathers, with a chaotic personal life, and a great deal of bitterness towards the Boomer generation, whom they blamed for their misfortunes. Without fathers and with no moral compass, they had a high delinquency rate, and are one of the most jailed generation in American history.

    As I've described many times in the last 15 years, Generation-X got their revenge against their fathers by bringing about the financial crisis. In the 1990s. Gen-Xers got degrees in "Financial Engineering," and used their skills in the 2000s to knowingly create trillions of dollars' worth of fraudulent subprime mortgage backed securities, which they could sell to the parents' generation to get revenge. The result was that millions of people when bankrupt and loss their homes.

    The Awakening Era began in 1963 and ended in 1983. That was followed by the "Unraveling Era," where all the rules and institutions that had been implement in the 1950s to prevent another Great Depression and another World War were dismantled. This resulted in the "tech bubble" of the late 1990s and the huge "credit bubble" of the mid 2000s decade.

    The Unraveling Era was a period of opulent wealth in the hands of many people -- mainly because they went deeply into debt, and spent the money on cars, vacations, and other items of conspicuous consumption.

    The Unraveling Era begin in 1983 and ended in 2003, 58 years after the end of World War II. 2003 was the beginning of the new "Crisis Era." The birth years for the next generation, the Millennial Generation, was thus 1979 to 1999. Millennials grew during this period of opulence provided by astronomical debt, many Millennials developed the attitude that money and success could just be given to them.

    The financial crisis brought this period of opulence to an abrupt end. The Pivotal Generation, which grew up during this period, pivoted away from the Millennials and adopted that attitude that it's necessary to work had for money and success.

    Incidentally, the name "Pivotal Generation" is only temporary. Just as the "Depression Babies" became the "Silent Generation," the Pivotal Generation will be given a new name by society at some point in the future, after they've actually accomplished something, rather than just giving press conferences in Washington. US Census Bureau (PDF) and Pew Research

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Mar-18 World View -- The Pivotal Generation (Generation Z) marches for gun control, tilting at windmills thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    24-Mar-18 World View -- Report that Russia is helping the Taliban in Afghanistan contains delusional aspects

    US warship sails near China's illegal artificial island in the South China Sea

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Report that Russia is helping the Taliban in Afghanistan contains delusional aspects
    • US warship sails near China's illegal artificial island in the South China Sea

    Report that Russia is helping the Taliban in Afghanistan contains delusional aspects


    US Army General and commander of US forces in Afghanistan John Nicholson (AFP)
    US Army General and commander of US forces in Afghanistan John Nicholson (AFP)

    During the 1980s, the Soviet Union became embroiled in its own version of the Vietnam War -- an asymmetric fight against guerrilla forces in Afghanistan that the Soviets couldn't win. Since the Soviets were American enemies in those days, US forces aided the side opposing the Soviets. The people we supported were the ethnic Pashtuns who later became the Taliban, and their allies, a group of Saudi Wahhabi jihadists, including Osama bin Laden, who later became al-Qaeda.

    For two or three years, there have been consistent reports that the Russians have been supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan with money and weapons. The reasons stated for the support are that the Russians don't want the Americans to have a permanent foothold in Afghanistan and, by the way, they want to get revenge for helping their opponents in the 1980s.

    Now General John Nicholson, head of the US forces in Afghanistan, says that the reports are true. According to Nicholson:

    "We’ve had stories written by the Taliban that have appeared in the media about financial support provided by the enemy. We’ve had weapons brought to this headquarters and given to us by Afghan leaders and said, ‘This was given by the Russians to the Taliban’.

    We see a narrative that’s being used that grossly exaggerates the number of Islamic State group fighters here. This narrative then is used as a justification for the Russians to legitimize the actions of Taliban and provide some degree of support to the Taliban."

    Nicholson says that by supplying weapons and money to the Taliban, the Russians are interfering with the attempts to bring peace to Afghanistan through negotiations and peace talks with the Taliban.

    This whole story raises far more questions than it answers. Apparently the weapons at issue are 1980s vintage, so it's possible that they made their way into Taliban hands by another path.

    The background story has several delusional elements. The Russians today are blaming the whole 1980s Afghanistan fiasco on the United States. According to the Russians, they were tricked into entering the 1980s Afghanistan war by president Jimmy Carter's national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski. Brzezinski, who died last year, apparently believed the same thing.

    This is completely delusional on the part of both the Russians and Brzezinski. There's no way that the Soviets committed hundreds of thousands of troops to a ten-year war in Afghanistan on the basis of a trick. However, the delusion has been convenient for both parties. The Russians absolve themselves of the blame for the war by blaming it on the Americans, and Brzezinski can continue to pat himself on the back.

    And it's true that the US supplied some weapons to the Pashtuns, just as the Russians had supplied weapons to the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam war. But supplying some weapons would not have made a difference in the outcome of either war.

    Another part of the delusion is that the Russians and the Taliban could be allied in any meaningful way. Russia is allied with Iran, which is allied with the Shia groups that the Taliban keeps trying to kill. Furthermore, by supplying weapons to jihadists in Afghanistan, those jihadist could travel to Russia and use the weapons there.

    The biggest delusion -- on the part of the American administration -- is that a peace agreement can be reached.

    I've described in detail the reasons why a peace agreement is impossible many times (see "23-Aug-17 World View -- Trump promises victory in Afghanistan by redefining 'victory'"), but the one-sentence summary of the reasoning is this: Young Pashtuns are coming of age, and looking for vengeance against the Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks that they fought in the bloody civil war of 1991-96.

    However, as I've written in the past, the Nato alliance and the US administration appear to have a larger purpose in mind. As war with China and Pakistan approaches, president Trump wants to keep American troops active in Afghanistan, and to continue to maintain several American military bases in Afghanistan, including two air bases in Bagram and Kandahar International Airport. These bases will be valuable in any future war with China. Under these circumstances, having troops in Afghanistan is what matters, whether the Taliban are defeated or not. CBS News and BBC and Russia Today (29-May-2017)

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    US warship sails near China's illegal artificial island in the South China Sea

    The US Navy on Friday conducted a new "freedom of navigation" operation in the South China Sea.

    The warship USS Mustin traveled within 12 nautical miles of China's illegal artificial island and military base near Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, and carried out maneuvering operations.

    According to Nicole Schwegman, a spokesman for the US Pacific Fleet:

    "We conduct routine and regular freedom of navigation operations, as we have done in the past and will continue to do in the future."

    As usual, the Chinese were furious and began emitting nonsense. According to China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying:

    "On March 23, USS Mustin entered the neighboring waters of relevant islands and reefs of China’s Nansha Qundao without the permission of the Chinese government. The Chinese navy has identified and verified the US warship and warned it to leave in accordance with the law. The relevant act of the US side has violated the Chinese law and relevant international law, infringed upon China's sovereignty, undermined peace, security and order of the relevant waters and put in jeopardy the facilities and personnel on the Chinese islands, and thus constitutes a serious political and military provocation.

    China has indisputable sovereignty over Nansha Qundao and its adjacent waters."

    The problem we have with both China and Russia these days is that they lie so often that we have to assume that everything they say is completely worthless.

    This statement claims "indisputable sovereignty." Is Hua Chunying a complete idiot? Or does she think that the rest of us are so stupid that we'll believe any nonsense that comes out of her mouth. The claim of "indisputable sovereignty" is a lie on its face because much of the world disputes it. The South China Sea are international waters, as declared by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, which eviscerated all of China's claims in the South China Sea, in July, 2013. It's China, not the United States, that's violating international law on a continuing basis. Reuters and China's Foreign Ministry

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Mar-18 World View -- Report that Russia is helping the Taliban in Afghanistan contains delusional aspects thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    23-Mar-18 World View -- Turkey's government takes control of last remaining independent news source

    South Africans furious at Australia for condemning white farmer land confiscation

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Turkey's government takes control of last remaining independent news source
    • South Africans furious at Australia for condemning white farmer land confiscation

    Turkey's government takes control of last remaining independent news source


    Dogan Holding television stations, Kanal D and CNN Turk (AFP)
    Dogan Holding television stations, Kanal D and CNN Turk (AFP)

    Turkey is joining the ranks of China, Russia, Iran, Cambodia, Egypt, Burundi, Cameroon and others in criminalizing the reporting of news that criticizes the government, and jailing reporters who do so.

    On Thursday, Turkey's government began the acquisition the last major independent media company, Dogan Holding, which owns well known publications including Hurriyet and CNN Turk.

    Aydin Dogan, the 81 year old billionaire who founded Dogan Holding in 1979, announced the sale of all the media assets to Demirören Group, a media group with a close relationship with Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Dogan has had a difficult relationship with with Erdogan's AK Party since the party came to party in 2002. The holding face a record $2.5 billion in tax fines in 2009, which Dogan claimed were politically motivated. The fines forced Dogan to sell some assets to Demirören in 2011.

    Ever since Turkey faced a botched coup attempt in June 2016, Erdogan has used the coup attempt to become increasingly dictatorial and authoritarian at every opportunity. Dozens of journalists have been jailed on phony charges since the coup attempt, but Erdogan started his purge well before the coup attempt, as shown by the actions against Dogan since 2003.

    In particular, four months before the coup, Turkey and the world were shocked when Erdogan shut down Zaman, the country's major opposition newspaper, the largest newspaper in the country, and jailed some of its reporters.

    There's almost no independent press remaining in Turkey. Cumhuriyet, a mainstream opposition newspaper much smaller than Dogan, has had a dozen of its employees imprisoned on phony charges, although many have been released after a year in prison for lack of evidence. France 24 and Bloomberg and Guardian (London) and Hurriyet (Ankara)

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    South Africans furious at Australia for condemning white farmer land confiscation

    Officials in South Africa's government are expressing fury at the so-called "racist" statements by Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton. South Africa recently announced a policy where the government will confiscate land from white-owned farms with no compensation whatsoever and turn it over to black farmers. Dutton was reacting to that policy, as well as to threats of violence targeting white farmers.

    Dutton has announced that Australia should speed up the visas for white farmers who, he claimed, are being "persecuted" by the confiscation policy. "These people deserve special attention," Sutton said. "From what I've seen they do need help from a civilized country like ours."

    Supporters of Dutton's policy are calling the land confiscation policy "reverse racism." According to one, "The situation has become so bleak, [that] being a farmer in South Africa is now the world's most dangerous job."

    South Africa's International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu demanded that Dutton withdraw his comments: "The impression created is that white farmers in South Africa are living under horrific conditions and there is a possibility of death. And all these barbaric things are being put across about us."

    Gareth Newham, an analyst with the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies, said young black men faced a greater risk of being murdered in South Africa than white farmers:

    "In fact, young black males living in poor urban areas like Khayelitsha and Lange face a far greater risk of being murdered. The murder rate there is between 200 and 300 murders per 100,000 people."

    As I've described many times, a policy similar to the proposed land confiscation policy was adopted in 1999 by Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe had been an extremely wealthy country, the breadbasket of southern Africa, exporting a great deal of food to other countries. Mugabe threw the white farmers off the farms, and gave the farms to blacks who were his political cronies, but didn't know how to farm. Thanks to Mugabe, Zimbabwe turned from one of the wealthiest countries to one of the poorest countries in the world, with mass starvation, a worthless currency, and a massive million percent inflation rate. EyeWitnessNews (South Africa) and South African Government and In Depth News

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Mar-18 World View -- Turkey's government takes control of last remaining independent news source thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    22-Mar-18 World View -- How China would lose a war with the United States

    ISIS-linked terrorists in Afghanistan kill 32 in bombing of Shia Shrine in Kabul

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Massive earth fissure suddenly opens up in mid-Kenya, signaling an eventual split in all of Africa
    • How China would lose a war with the United States
    • ISIS-linked terrorists in Afghanistan kill 32 in bombing of Shia Shrine in Kabul

    Massive earth fissure suddenly opens up in mid-Kenya, signaling an eventual split in all of Africa


    A portion of the fissure where a gap was opened in a highway (Mwakilishi)
    A portion of the fissure where a gap was opened in a highway (Mwakilishi)

    A massive crack in the earth suddenly opened up two weeks ago, apparently triggered by large rainstorms that caused dangerous flooding. The fissure is already several miles long and is growing.

    The fissure opened up a gap in major road, but engineers from the China Communications Construction Company immediately began major repairs of the road, building a bridge across the fissure.

    There have been no reports of casualties, but one family reported that their house split in two while they were eating dinner, forcing them to flee.

    Geologists say that Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania and half of Ethiopia could separate from the African continent to form a new continent dubbed the Somali Plate in the next 50 million years. Kenya Broadcasting and The Nation (Kenya) and Mwakilishi (Kenya)

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    How China would lose a war with the United States

    For over ten years I've been writing, based on a Generational Dynamics analysis, that the China and the United States would be opposed to each other in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war.

    As I've indicated many times in the past, China is expected to repeat the situation in World War II, when it faced an external enemy (Japan) and also had a major internal rebellion, Mao Zedong's Communist Revolution.

    Although in the grand scheme of things, there's never a guarantee that the US will survive such a war, in the past few years it's seemed increasingly likely that the US will not only survive, but will actually win this war. This is because China's belligerent actions have turned much of the world against China, and China would be facing multiple enemies besides the US.

    An analysis by the Indian think tank SAAG has outlined China's strategic vulnerabilities:

    • Estimates of China's "strategic and military might have been overblown both on scale and magnitude."
    • "What the United States could not achieve through diplomacy for decades," China has handed to the US through its military belligerence. Many Asian nations that have been neutral or even inimical to the United States are now US allies.
    • Pacific nations are in varying stages of military alliance with the United States because of China's South China Sea military aggression. Japan, South Korea, India and Australia are strongly allied with the US.
    • Russia may be in a strategic nexus with China, but it is only a tactical expedient.
    • China is friendless in sub-regions of Asia. Among East Asian nations, China cannot count on anyone but Cambodia and to some extent Thailand.
    • In South Asia, the China-Pakistan axis presents a "Two-Front military threat" to India, and China appears to have gained ground in Nepal, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Bhutan and Bangladesh through the use of "economic doles." But the influence of China in these countries is fraying, even in Pakistan, where the "average Pakistani is questioning the Pakistan Army’s furthering China’s gains at the expense of China’s ‘colonization’ of Pakistan."
    • Since Narendra Modi came to power, India's war preparedness has been increased, after "abject neglect" in the previous government.
    • China's internal security has been worsening, with border regions like Xinjiang and Tibet in a state of unrest. With China's economy slowing down, domestic discontent is bound to grow.
    • There are likely to be violent disturbances generated by thousands of senior Party officials, Army Generals and others whom Xi Jinping has removed by using false charges of corruption, in order to become an unchallenged dictator. There is an explosive mix of internal security and domestic unrest waiting to be ignited by a solitary incendiary spark originating externally or internally, or both.

    I would add one more item to this list: I've been comparing the path that China is following to the path that Nazi Germany followed -- Xi Jinping's "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics" is the same as Hitler's "National Socialism," Xi's blaming Britain and the Opium Wars for humiliating China is the same as Hitler's blaming the Jews and World War I for humiliating Germany. Xi and Hitler both became total dictators after winning elections.

    Another big similarity is that the Chinese believe that they're superior not only to Americans but to any other group on earth, and that they can defeat any of them quickly in a war. China isn't using the phrase "Master Race" that Hitler used, but reading news stories from China conveys the same feeling. So the item that I would add to the list is vast overconfidence.

    Friedrich Nietzsche said, "Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule." In 1860, America's southern states started the Civil War, even though they had no chance against the North, which was three times the size. In 1941, Japan started the Pacific war, even though they had no chance against the US, which was five times the size. Overconfidence leads absolute dictators to make catastrophically bad decisions.

    Assuming that the analysis is correct that China would be likely to lose such a war, that doesn't mean that the war won't occur, or that the war won't be disastrous for the entire world, as well as China, or that billions of people won't die from nuclear weapons, conventional weapons, ground war, famine and disease. China's actions are going to lead to a world war, and historians will look back on the Chinese as being worse than the Nazis. South Asia Analysis Group (SAAG - India)

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    ISIS-linked terrorists in Afghanistan kill 32 in bombing of Shia Shrine in Kabul

    A suicide bomber killed at least 32 people on Wednesday by exploding near a historic Shia shrine in Kabul, where worshippers had gathered to mark Ashura, the holiest day in the Shia calendar. The so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) claimed credit.

    The target was Shia ethnic Hazaras, which have been the target of almost a dozen terror attacks in the last two years. The Taliban, who are mostly ethnic Sunni Pashtuns, fought against Hazaras in the extremely bloody Afghan civil war of the early 1990s, climaxing in 1996. Many of these attacks are revenge attacks from that war.

    ISIS claimed credit for the attack on the web site of its Amaq public relations agency. With the defeat of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, tens of thousands of ISIS fighters have been returning to their home countries. The perpetrators of Wednesday's attack may have been an existing Taliban group that pledged allegiance to ISIS, or they may have been veteran terrorists returning from ISIS.

    As I've written many times, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, there is absolutely no possibility whatsoever that the Afghan will be resolved peacefully. The younger generations that grew up after the Afghan civil war are now coming of age, and are anxious to exact revenge for atrocities that occurred during the war. As more of these youngsters grow older, the violence will only increase and occur more frequently. Tolo News (Afghanistan) and Washington Post

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Mar-18 World View -- How China would lose a war with the United States thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    21-Mar-18 World View -- Xi Jinping invokes the 1840s Opium Wars to justify military action for China's 'rejuvenation'

    Xi Jinping stokes China's nationalism with harsh threats to Taiwan and Hong Kong

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Xi Jinping invokes the 1840s Opium Wars to justify military action for China's 'rejuvenation'
    • Xi Jinping stokes China's nationalism with harsh threats to Taiwan and Hong Kong

    Xi Jinping invokes the 1840s Opium Wars to justify military action for China's 'rejuvenation'


    Framed portraits of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping hang above a TV screen showing President Xi Jinping. (Reuters)
    Framed portraits of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping hang above a TV screen showing President Xi Jinping. (Reuters)

    Analysts are saying that China has entered a new era with the recent meeting of the National People's Congress (NPC), with president Xi Jinping becoming a dictator and the most powerful leader in China's history, possibly even more powerful than Mao Zedong.

    The most significant visible change is that the constitutional limit to two terms as president has been removed, essentially making Xi Jinping a dictator for life. Furthermore, the constitution was changed to incorporate "Xi's thoughts." Less visible, but related, is that Xi has been able to purge the government of most of his opposition, by accusing them of corruption. Xi is now in charge of all organs and branches of government, and cannot be challenged. Many people are excited by this development, because they say that Xi has done so much to make China more powerful, and now can continue to do so.

    However, many other people are pointing out. Absolute dictators are not infallible gods. Hitler was an absolute dictator, but the Holocaust was a disaster for Germany as well as the world. Mao Zedong was an absolute dictator, but Mao's Great Leap Forward resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of peasants from starvation and executions, which was a disaster for China. The problem is that absolute dictators are no different than you and me in the ability to make bad decisions, but when you and I make a bad decision then someone stops us, but no one stops an absolute dictator. Just as Mao could launch the disastrous Great Leap Forward without being questioned, Xi could launch a disastrous war without being questioned.

    A good example of how delusional Xi is can be shown from this claim in his final speech to the NPC:

    "China is a socialist state under the people's democratic dictatorship led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants, noting that all power in the country belongs to the people."

    This doesn't even make sense. China is a "dictatorship," but there is nothing "democratic" about it. All of China's elections are predetermined, and peasants and workers are permitted to vote only for the chosen candidate.

    Xi talks about the "rejuvenation" of China through "Socialism with Chinese characteristics." He calls this a "New Long March," alluding the Mao Zedong's Long March that began in 1934 and marked the beginning of the extremely bloody 16-year Chinese civil war. According to Xi:

    "China has continuously striven for its dream of realizing great national rejuvenation for over 170 years.

    History has proved and will continue to prove that only socialism can save China. Only by sticking to and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics can we achieve the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. ...

    Turning the grand blueprint for China into reality is new Long March. We need to uphold the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics. China's goal is to build a socialist, modern country by the middle of the 21st century."

    The reference to "170 years" is very interesting, because it reveals the core resentment and bitterness towards the West that guide Xi's thinking. Xi and many Chinese blame China's poverty and backwardness on the Opium Wars with Britain in the 1840s, 170 years ago. According to this view, China would already be a great nation, if it hadn't been forced into submission by Britain at that time.

    Once again, this is totally delusional on the part of Xi and other Chinese. Since the 1840s, China has had two extremely destructive generational crisis wars -- the Taiping Rebellion and Mao's Communist Revolution -- both of them civil wars, both of them enormously destructive to China, and neither of them the fault of Britain or anybody but the Chinese themselves. But the delusion of blaming everything on a war that occurred 170 years ago is extremely dangerous, because it can be used to justify such things as annexing other countries' regions in the South China Sea.

    Xi added the following:

    "Since ancient times, the realization of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation has become the greatest dream of the Chinese nation. The Chinese people are indomitable, and will persevere. They have the courage for bloody fights against their enemies, and they are determined to restore their former glory. Today the Chinese people are more confident and more capable, and closer than ever before of realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation."

    This is extremely ominous, since Xi is justifying in advance any pre-emptive military attacks that he may decide to make. And being an absolute dictator means that the decision will be entirely his. South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and China Daily and South China Morning Post and BBC and National Interest

    Xi Jinping stokes China's nationalism with harsh threats to Taiwan and Hong Kong

    According to a new "ethnic identity poll" by Hong Kong University, 68% of the respondents identified themselves as "Hongkongers," while only 31% identified themselves as "Chinese," down 7 points from just six months ago. Among young people aged 18-29, only 0.3% consider themselves "Chinese."

    In the past, we've described polls that show that support in Taiwan for independence from China is growing each year, as younger generations grow older.

    Xi Jinping addressed this problem in his speech:

    "We will continue to implement 'One Country, Two Systems' principle, Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong, Macao people governing Macao, and high degree of autonomy in the special administrative regions.

    We should continue to stick to one-China principle, 1992 Consensus and advance the peaceful development of the cross-Straits relations and expand the economic and cultural exchanges between the two sides.

    Safeguarding sovereignty and territorial integrity, completely uniting China are Chinese people's common goal and the country's fundamental interests.

    Every inch of the Chinese territory absolutely cannot be separated from China.

    All acts and tricks to separate the country are doomed to fail and will be condemned by the people and punished by history."

    Of course, these remarks are directed at the United States, especially after president Donald Trump signed the Taiwan Travel Act last week, which allows high-level visits between American and Taiwanese government officials.

    But Xi's remarks are really directed at Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao. Their purpose is to stoke nationalism in the Chinese people in order to prepare them for preemptive military action.

    In 2005, China passed the Anti-Secession Law, which orders the army to invade Taiwan if any Taiwanese official makes any move toward independence, whether by word or by deed. Since then, Taiwan has made many moves toward independence, and Xi is signaling that he's losing patience. He's aware that time is not on his side, as younger generations in Taiwan are increasingly pro-independence.

    As I described last year in "24-Oct-17 World View -- Xi Jinping's 'Socialism with Chinese characteristics' is identical to Hitler's National Socialism", Xi is following the same path to total war that the Nazis followed, with the same inevitable disastrous results.

    Xi's claim of China's humiliation in the Opium Wars to justify any Chinese action is similar to Hitler's claim of Germany's humiliation in World War I to justify any Nazi action.

    Xi's use of the Opium Wars to blame Britain for all of China's troubles is the same as Hitler's blaming the Jews in World War I for all of Nazi Germany's troubles.

    China has been preparing for war with the U.S. in every possible way. They've built large, illegal military bases in the South China Sea, and repeatedly lied about them. They've developed numerous nuclear-tipped ballistic and hypersonic missile systems designed to successfully strike and destroy American aircraft carriers, American cities, and American bases. They've demonstrated a capability to destroy American communications and GPS satellites. They have thousands of missiles ready to launch against Taiwan, and they have large military deployments in western Tibet ready to invade India.

    Xi's speech advances China's war preparations by providing justifications for future military action, and by stoking nationalism to prepare the Chinese people for war. This war could begin next week, next month, next year, or whenever China wants. As China's dictator, Xi Jinping will decide when this war will begin, and when he decides, there will be no one to stop him. Hong Kong Economic Journal (28-Dec) and Hong Kong University (27-Dec) and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and BBC and South China Morning Post

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Mar-18 World View -- Xi Jinping invokes the 1840s Opium Wars to justify military action for China's 'rejuvenation' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    20-Mar-18 World View -- Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board overwhelmed by migrants crossing border from US

    Turkey achieves victory in Afrin, Syria, but Kurds threaten guerilla war

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board overwhelmed by migrants crossing border from US
    • Turkey achieves victory in Afrin, Syria, but Kurds threaten guerilla war

    Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board overwhelmed by migrants crossing border from US


    August 2017: Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre greets a busload of Haitian asylum seekers from the United States as it arrives (AFP)
    August 2017: Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre greets a busload of Haitian asylum seekers from the United States as it arrives (AFP)

    Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) has become so overwhelmed by refugees making asylum claims that it's giving up on following regulations dictating requiring refugee hearings to be held within a certain time. Regulations drawn up in 2012 required the IRB to hold hearings with 30-60 days, depending on the country of origin.

    But the system began breaking down in January 2017, when US president Donald Trump began cracking down on illegal immigration, and also announced that legal immigrants having a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) would have that status expire. In addition, the status of the "dreamers," those who were brought to the country as children years ago by their parents, was in doubt.

    The US crackdown has created a growing backlog in Canada, as refugees in American have been crossing the border into Canada and applying for asylum. Many refugees and illegal immigrants living in the United States were encouraged to cross the border into Canada when Canada's prime minister Justin Trudeau tweeted a welcome and invitation to the refugees on January 28, 2017, shortly after Trump announced his travel ban:

    "To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada"

    Since January 2017, the backlog has been growing at a rate of about 2,100 cases per month. the largest increase so far occurred in September 2017, with a backlog increase of 6,200 cases.

    More than 20,000 people, including thousands from Haiti and Nigeria, and hundreds from Turkey, Syria and Eritrea, have crossed the border into Canada illegally over the past year in search of asylum, many fleeing in fear that Trump would deport them to their home countries.

    Canada's IRB has given up trying to follow the 2012 regulations, and is simply hearing claims in the order in which they are received. The board will make exceptions for priority claims, such as unaccompanied minors or other vulnerable persons. The backlog has now reached about 43,000 cases with the IRB saying the waiting time for a hearing is almost 2 years.

    As the weather becomes warmer, it's expected that there will be a large new wave of migrants entering Canada. The Canadian government has dispatched lawmakers to diaspora communities in the United States to persuade people not to come. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government has discussed the situation with the Trump administration, but it has been careful not to publicly blame the U.S. president's policies for triggering the migration wave.

    According to figures published by the Immigration Board, the most asylum requests in 2017 were from migrants from Haiti, with over 8,000 requests, and from Nigeria, with over 5,500 requests. Other countries of origin where the numbers of requests exceeded 1,000 include: China, Colombia, India, Mexico, Pakistan, Syria, Turkey, and Venezuela. Reuters and Radio Canada International (21-Feb) and Montreal Gazette (26-Nov-2017) and National Post (20-Feb) and Immigration Refugee Board

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    Turkey achieves victory in Afrin, Syria, but Kurds threaten guerilla war

    Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed victory in Afrin, Syria, on Monday, after seizing the center of Afrin city. The objective of Operation Olive Branch, launched on January 20, was to seize control of Afrin from the Kurdish militias, People's Protection Units (YPG), who Erdogan says are branches of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). The YPG withdrew on Sunday, rather than risk fighting a conventional war with Turkish-backed forces, including the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

    However, the YPG claim that the fight for Afrin is far from over. The Kurdish militias are threatening a guerilla insurgency, with hit-and-run attacks on Turkey's troops in Afrin. Such an insurgency could prompt Turkey to respond with harsh attacks on the civilians in Afrin.

    As things stand, about 200,000 residents of Afrin fled the city in recent days, as Turkey's offensive escalated. Theoretically, they will be allowed to return to their homes now, but there have been reports of looting by Turkish troops. Furthermore, the residents fear that Turkey will move some of the millions of Syrian refugees who have been living in Turkey for years back into Afrin, so that the Kurds will not have a home to come back to.

    Erdogan seems emboldened by the capture of Afrin, and is threatening to move eastward and attack the YPG in other cities, including Kobani and Manbij. However, the YPG forces in Manbij are backed by US forces, and if Erdogan carries through on his threat, then Turkish forces will be fighting American forces. France 24 and Rudaw (Kurdistan)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Mar-18 World View -- Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board overwhelmed by migrants crossing border from US thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    19-Mar-18 World View -- Burundi's Hutu 'eternal supreme guide' Nkurunziza to remain in power eternally

    Finland is the happiest country in the world, Burundi the unhappiest

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Burundi's Hutu 'eternal supreme guide' Nkurunziza to remain in power eternally
    • Reports of Trump-Kim meeting in Finland unconfirmed so far
    • Finland is the happiest country in the world, Burundi the unhappiest

    Burundi's Hutu 'eternal supreme guide' Nkurunziza to remain in power eternally


    Burundi's Hutu president Pierre Nkurunziza has declared himself the 'eternal supreme guide' (AFP)
    Burundi's Hutu president Pierre Nkurunziza has declared himself the 'eternal supreme guide' (AFP)

    I keep telling the same story in country after country, particularly African countries, but other countries as well. A leader stays in office for years and decades, and takes steps to stay in office for additional years and decades, and backs the step up by slaughtering, torturing, raping and jailing even peaceful protesters in the opposition.

    Burundi's president Pierre Nkurunziza, who calls himself the "eternal supreme guide" of Burundi, on Sunday signed a decree setting May 17 as a date for a national referendum to change the constitution to permit him to stay in office until at least 2034.

    There's little doubt that Nkurunziza will win approval on the referendum vote, because he will use violence and jailings of the opposition, and probably vote-rigging as well.

    Nkurunziza should have stepped down as leader in 2015, since the constitution limits any leader to two terms. When Nkurunziza announced that he would run for a third term, his police force used bullets, tear gas and water cannons to control the protests.

    Most people are familiar with the Rwanda genocide of 1994, the massive genocide where ethnic Hutus killed close to a million ethnic Tutsis. As I described in 2015 in the "Generational history of Hutu and Tutsi tribes", that war also extended to the same tribes in neighboring Burundi and Uganda. When the war ended, the Tutsis took power in Rwanda and Uganda, and the Hutus took power in Burundi.

    In all three countries, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda, the respective leaders have ignored their constitutions and used violence to stay in power. Africa News and Reuters

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    Reports of Trump-Kim meeting in Finland unconfirmed so far

    There have been numerous speculative reports in the media in the last two days that the much-discussed meeting between president Donald Trump and North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un will take place in Helsinki, Finland.

    This speculation is occurring because a meeting has been scheduled this week in Helsinki for three teams of diplomats, respectively from the three countries North Korea, South Korea and the United States.

    Apparently, this meeting was set up during a visit by North Korea's foreign minister Ri Yong Ho to Sweden last week. That visit resulted in speculation that the Trump-Kim meeting would occur in Sweden, but now the speculation has moved to Finland. However, many analysts believe that Kim Jong-un will not be willing to travel that far, and that the meeting, if it occurs, will actually occur just south of the DMZ in South Korea.

    Some interesting news came out of a CBS News interview with South Korea's foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha, recorded on Saturday and broadcast on Sunday.

    As we have suggested a couple of times in the past, Kim Jong-un's silence about the possible meeting has been caused by being surprised at Trump's quick acceptance of the invitation. Kang was asked whether she has heard anything from North Korea about the meeting:

    "Well, nothing publicly. But there is a channel of communication now established. So I'm sure there are back and forth messages. But, I think the North Korean leader would also need some time given the readiness with which President Trump has accepted the invitation to talks. I think we were all quite surprised by-- by the-- the readiness of that decision. I think it was an extremely courageous decision on the part of President Trump. We believe the North Korean leader is now taking stock. We give them the benefit of the doubt, and the time that he would need to come out with some public messaging."

    I interpret this response to mean that she doesn't have a clue whether Kim plans to go through with the meeting with Trump.

    Another issue has to do with preconditions for the meeting. When Trump first accepted, there were no preconditions. However, the next day, Trump's spokeswoman said that some preconditions would have to be met, namely some "concrete and verifiable actions" in the direction of denuclearization.

    So Kang was asked "What conditions do the North Koreans have to meet before this conversation happens?", and she responded:

    "Well, in effect they already have. We have asked the North to indicate in clear terms the commitment to denuclearization, and he has in fact conveyed that commitment. ...

    He's given his word. But the significance of his word is-- is quite -- quite weighty in the sense that this is the first time that the words came directly from the North Korean supreme leader himself, and that has never been done before."

    So let me get this straight. Kim Jong-un has not confirmed that there will be a meeting, but he has "given his word" that he will meet the preconditions of his "commitment to denuclearization." And, of course, giving his word is quite different from "concrete and verifiable actions."

    Obviously this is all fatuous political nonsense, mixed in with a lot of desperate wishful thinking on the part of the South Koreans.

    Perhaps the coming three-way meeting in Helsinki will change things, but right now the most likely scenario is that Kim is simply using the meeting invitation as a ploy to gain time to complete his development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles that can carry the nuclear weapons to Los Angeles and other US targets. Yonhap News (Seoul) and Reuters and CBS News

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    Finland is the happiest country in the world, Burundi the unhappiest

    A new United Nations report called the "World Happiness Report" ties together the above two stories. It finds that, out of 156 countries, the happiest country in the world is Finland, while the unhappiest country in the world is Burundi.

    The top ten happiest countries are: Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, and Australia.

    The ten unhappiest countries are: Malawi, Haiti, Liberia, Syria, Rwanda, Yemen, Tanzania, South Sudan, Central African Republic, and Burundi. AFP and World Happiness Report

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Mar-18 World View -- Burundi's Hutu 'eternal supreme guide' Nkurunziza to remain in power eternally thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    18-Mar-18 World View -- Human rights protests of Cambodia and Myanmar (Burma) overshadow Australia ASEAN summit meeting

    Cambodia's Hun Sen threatens violence at protesters at ASEAN meeting

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Malaysia's Najib Razak condemns Myanmar's (Burma's) genocide of Rohingyas at ASEAN summit
    • Cambodia's Hun Sen threatens violence at protesters at ASEAN meeting

    Malaysia's Najib Razak condemns Myanmar's (Burma's) genocide of Rohingyas at ASEAN summit


    Demonstrators protesting Myanmar (Burma) genocide of Rohingyas at ASEAN summit on Saturday (AP)
    Demonstrators protesting Myanmar (Burma) genocide of Rohingyas at ASEAN summit on Saturday (AP)

    It used to be a rule of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that member states are forbidden from interfering in each other's internal affairs, which means that no member nation is permitted to criticize the internal policies of another member nation. That rule was in place to prevent the group from fracturing, and from discussing happy subjects like trade.

    But the extreme genocidal violence and ethnic cleansing of ethnic Rohingyas by the government of Myanmar (Burma) has caused Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak to denounce Burma's leader Aung San Suu Kyi personally, in a speech at the ASEAN summit, while she was sitting on the stage nearby. Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize years ago, back before she turned into a modern day Hitler.

    Razak justified his open criticism of Suu Kyi by saying that the situation was a threat to the entire region's security. In particular, he said that it was encouraging jihadists groups in the region, such as those in the southern Philippine city of Marawi last year, of becoming affiliated with the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). According to Razak:

    "Because of the suffering of Rohingya people and that of displacement around the region, the situation in Rakhine state and Myanmar can no longer be considered to be a purely domestic matter.

    In addition, the problem should not be looked at through the humanitarian prism only because it has the potential of developing into a serious security threat to the region.

    Rakhine with thousands of despairing... people who see no hope in the future will be a fertile ground for radicalization and recruitment by (ISIS) and affiliated groups.

    We must be vigilant and increase our collaboration, because the collapse of (ISIS) territories in Iraq and Syria has forced it to go underground and re-emerge elsewhere, especially in crisis zones where it can grow and operate.

    We must draw lessons from Marawi and be extremely concerned that at least 10 militant groups in the Mindanao region (of the Philippines) have declared their affiliation to (ISIS)."

    ASEAN has ten members: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Australia is not a member, but is hosting the ASEAN summit meeting.

    Razak has criticized Suu Kyi in speeches in Malaysia. In 2016 he said to thousands of Malaysians at a rally in Kuala Lumpur:

    "The world cannot sit by and watch genocide taking place. The world cannot just say 'look, it is not our problem'. It is our problem."

    Razak is under pressure from the hardline Malaysian Islamist group Hizbut Tahrir, who have in the past demanded that Malaysia's army conduct a jihad against Burma. AFP and Australian Broadcasting

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    Cambodia's Hun Sen threatens violence at protesters at ASEAN meeting

    The ASEAN summit meeting in Sydney, Australian, was met with large groups protesting human rights violations by Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi and Cambodia's Hun Sen.

    Before Saturday, it was not even certain that Cambodia's prime minister Hun Sen would show up, since he was apparently furious at learning that there would be large protests of Cambodian-Australians in Sydney. On February 21, he warned protesters not to burn effigies of him, saying:

    "I will follow you all the way to your doorstep and beat you right there ... I can use violence against you."

    This threat triggered a mass burning by protesters of effigies bearing Hun Sen's face. Two weeks later, Hun Sen described the protesters as "crazy and stupid," and said that they had "fallen into his trap": "In fact, speaking truly and clarifying for you, you are being tricked by Hun Sen. Do not play with Hun Sen, you are still very weak."

    Hun Sen has been in power for 33 years, since 1985, following the massive Buddhist "Killing Fields" genocide in Cambodia in 1975-79. Led by Pol Pot, this was 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.

    Hun Sen has remained in power since then, but started becoming a lot more authoritarian after the opposition political party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) almost won the 2013 election, and has become increasingly popular since then.

    Fearing that he might be defeated in the 2018 elections, Hun Sen has been targeting CNRP leaders, arresting dozens of them on phony charges. The Hun Sen-controlled Supreme Court last year declared the CNRP to be an illegal political party. In addition, Hun Sen has been brutally suppressing protests, banning all protests and jailing protesters. He's shut print and radio media sources, and jailed reporters.

    One of the lead protesters in Sydney was Bou Rachana, the wife of murdered Cambodian politician Kem Ley, who was killed in Hun Sen's crackdown.

    Cambodia's parliament has recently amended the constitution to tighten restrictions on voting rights and freedom of association, and a provision that insulting Hun Sen can result in being jailed for five - years.

    From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Hun Sen is following exactly the same pattern that many other countries have followed following a generational crisis civil war between different tribes or ethnic groups. After the war ends, the leader of the country, usually from the winning tribe or ethnic group, refuses to give up power, and becomes increasingly violent and authoritarian, using as an excuse that peaceful protests or negative news articles can turn into a new civil war. This excuse provides justification for mass slaughter, rape, torture, mass jailings, mutilations, and so forth. I've described this behavior in Bashar al-Assad in Syria, who has gone to the extent of using Sarin gas and barrel bombs packed with explosives and metal and laced with chlorine gas onto civilian neighborhoods and markets in order to kill as many women and children as possible Other leaders that I've described exhibiting this type of behavior include Paul Biya in Cameroon, Pierre Nkurunziza in Burundi, Paul Kagame in Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, and Joseph Kabila in DRC.

    This weekend's ASEAN summit is on economics and counter-terrorism, but the protests are causing those issues to be overshadowed by human rights. According Human Rights Watch:

    "Shutting one’s eyes and hoping that closer trade and security ties will somehow magically transform abusive governments into rights-respecting ones doesn’t work.

    The ASEAN summit shouldn’t just be an opportunity to dance with dictators, but a chance to publicly press them over horrific human rights abuses."

    ASEAN is already divided between countries like Vietnam and Indonesia that oppose China's illegal creation of a massive military fortress in the South China Sea, versus countries like Cambodia and Laos that support China. Myanmar's ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas, and Cambodia's authoritarian slaughter, rape and torture of political opponents are issues that are further splitting ASEAN, leading some to wonder whether it even makes sense for ASEAN to continue to exist. Quartz (15-Mar) and Phnom Penh Post (5-Mar) and Deutsche Welle (27-Nov-2017) and Australian Broadcasting

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Mar-18 World View -- Human rights protests of Cambodia and Myanmar (Burma) overshadow Australia ASEAN summit meeting thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    17-Mar-18 World View -- Ireland border issue continues to confound Brexit negotiations

    Despite warnings from China, Trump signs the Taiwan Travel Act

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Ireland border issue continues to confound Brexit negotiations
    • Despite warnings from China, Trump signs the Taiwan Travel Act

    Ireland border issue continues to confound Brexit negotiations


    Ireland's prime minister Leo Varadkar (L) visits US-Canada border to see if the same thing would work for the Ireland - Northern Ireland border.  He tweeted, 'Just visited the Canada-US border. It's high tech and highly efficient, but make no mistake - it's a hard border.'
    Ireland's prime minister Leo Varadkar (L) visits US-Canada border to see if the same thing would work for the Ireland - Northern Ireland border. He tweeted, 'Just visited the Canada-US border. It's high tech and highly efficient, but make no mistake - it's a hard border.'

    The British Parliament's Northern Ireland Affairs Committee issued a report on Friday that came about as close to saying "the Brexit Ireland border problem has no solution" as possible, while following the unwritten political rules of never saying anything so definitive.

    The Brexit Ireland border problem is the problem of the border between Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland (Southern Ireland), which will remain in the EU after Brexit. If the UK is not part of the EU, then there would have be border controls between Ireland and Northern Ireland, a concept that almost everyone rejects, because any border controls are feared 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).

    The border across Ireland first appeared in 1921 as a result of the British-Irish treaty that partitioned the island and ended the Irish War of Independence. It ran across farms and villages and, following the outbreak of hostilities in the North in 1969, was reinforced with British Army watchtowers and bomb-proof and mortar-proof inspection facilities.

    All of that infrastructure was removed as a result of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that saw the Provisional IRA disarm in exchange for a new power-sharing accord that was supposed to break down some of the barriers between south and north, including the physical barrier at the border.

    So everyone says they want no return to the physical barriers. Instead, they want to maintain a "frictionless border" between Ireland and Northern Ireland, meaning that cars and trucks can continue to freely cross the border in either direction, just as they can today.

    But that would mean that a Spanish company that wants to ship goods to England without paying British tariffs could simply trans-ship them through Northern Ireland -- that is, ship them to Ireland, send them across the "frictionless border" to Northern Ireland, and then ship them across the Irish Sea to England. Similarly, an English firm could ship goods to Spain by trans-shipping in the opposite direction, and avoid paying EU tariffs.

    The main conclusions of Friday's report from the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee are as follows:

    • "The Committee concluded that the Government’s proposals are imaginative but that it will not have the time to implement a new non-visible customs regime before withdrawal day."
    • "The Committee rejected any proposals for customs checks which would result in a customs border down the Irish Sea. This would create a costly barrier to trade with Northern Ireland’s largest market and would be incompatible with the spirit and intent of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement."
    • "The Committee found that additional infrastructure at the [Ireland - Northern Ireland] border would not only be politically objectional but ineffective and unworkable."
    • "Leaving the EU without a substantial agreement would have very negative consequences for avoiding a hard border. The Committee welcomed commitments that this would not happen."

    At one point, Theresa May said, "There are many examples of different arrangements for customs around the rest of the world, and indeed we are looking at those, including, for example, the border between the United States and Canada." However, an opponent pointed out that "There are guns and armed customs guards" on the US-Canada border.

    In fact, Leo Varadkar, the Taoiseach (prime minister) of Ireland, did pay a visit to the US-Canada border, and tweeted:

    "Just visited the Canada-US border. It's high tech and highly efficient, but make no mistake - it's a hard border."

    The logic of the situation is as follows:

    • Ireland's prime minister Leo Varadkar has said that he will not approve any plan that does not maintain a frictionless border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
    • The leaders of EU27 (the EU without the UK) have said that they will side with Varadkar against the UK in all decisions, since Ireland will be part of the EU, and the UK will not.
    • Protestant (Unionist) leaders in Northern Ireland will not accept any solution that does not maintain a frictionless border between Northern Ireland and England -- i.e., across the Irish Sea.
    • Catholic (Republican) leaders in Northern Ireland are demanding that Northern Ireland secede from the UK and unite with the Republic of Ireland.

    Theresa May has also put forth a suggestion that a "high tech" way will be found to keep the Irish border frictionless. I've never seen an explanation about how that's supposed to work -- supposedly some kind of magic device at the border would scan each car and truck crossing the border and figure out whether it contains anything that needs to be taxed.

    Friday's report rejected the high-tech solution:

    "The UK government has repeatedly underlined that the free movement of people across the border will not be affected and that no physical infrastructure will be put in place. However, the committee was unable to identify any border solution currently in operation across the globe that would enable physical infrastructure to be avoided when rules and tariffs diverge."

    EU diplomats last week warned May last week that the high-tech solution is unrealistic, and that she must back down.

    The UK and the EU will begin three days of the next round of the delusional Brexit negotiations on Saturday. It's not expected that a solution to the Ireland border problem will be found. BBC and UK Parliament and Canadian Broadcasting (22-Aug-2017) and Guardian (London)

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    Despite warnings from China, Trump signs the Taiwan Travel Act

    President Donald Trump on Friday evening ET signed the Taiwan Travel Act, which had passed both houses of Congress unanimously, and was sent to the President on February 28. A veto would likely have been overridden by Congress and, according to the Constitution, the Act would have become law automatically on Saturday if Trump had done nothing. Trump decided to sign it, apparently as a signal to China that he was specifically ignoring their warnings.

    The Chinese embassy issued a statement:

    "[The Act] severely violates the one-China principle, the political foundation of the China-U.S. relationship.

    China is strongly dissatisfied with that and firmly opposes it. [The United States should] stop pursuing any official ties with Taiwan or improving its current relations with Taiwan in any substantive way."

    China has threatened Taiwan with a military invasion if it makes any move, by word or deed, towards independence. Arguably, it has already done that many times.

    The United States has not had official diplomatic relations with Taiwan since 1979, choosing instead to have diplomatic relations with China. China refuses to have formal relations with any country that has relations with Taiwan.

    The Taiwan Travel Act makes it legal for officials from the executive branch of the US government to visit Taiwan, or to invite Taiwan's leaders to visit Washington for official diplomatic meetings, if they choose to do so.

    An official statement from Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) expressed the government's sincerest thanks for the goodwill and friendship that the United States has shown to Taiwan over the years. Taiwan News and Reuters and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Mar-18 World View -- Ireland border issue continues to confound Brexit negotiations thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    16-Mar-18 World View -- Concerns grow of humanitarian disaster in Afrin, Syria, as Turkey's forces enter

    Silence from North Korea puts Kim-Trump summit in doubt

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Concerns grow of humanitarian disaster in Afrin, Syria, as Turkey's forces enter
    • Silence from North Korea puts Kim-Trump summit in doubt

    Concerns grow of humanitarian disaster in Afrin, Syria, as Turkey's forces enter


    Syrians flee from airstrikes and shelling of village near Afrin (Reuters)
    Syrians flee from airstrikes and shelling of village near Afrin (Reuters)

    Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday, "We have got a little closer to Afrin. I hope that Afrin will, God willing, have completely fallen by the evening."

    Erdogan was alluding to Operation Olive Branch, the military operation that began on January 20 with the objective of taking control of the northeastern Syria city of Afrin from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG). Originally, Erdogan promised that the operation would be completed by the end of January.

    The YPG is linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been conducting a violent insurgency in Turkey for three decades, and has performed multiple major terrorist attacks in major Turkish cities in the last three years. The PKK is considered a terrorist group by the US and the EU.

    The operation wasn't completed by Wednesday evening as Erdogan hoped, but on Thursday Turkey's presidential spokesman said:

    "Over 70 percent of Syria’s Afrin region has been secured during Operation Olive Branch.

    The circle has been completely tightened around the terrorists. We predict that the center of Afrin will be completely cleared of terrorists within a short period of time. They wanted to make Afrin a new Qandil. This [desire] has been eliminated through Operation Olive Branch."

    The phrase "new Qandil" refers to the Qandil mountains in Iraq where the PKK has its headquarters.

    In order to complete the mission, Turkish forces have been bombarding the city with airstrikes and artillery shelling, to the extent that many people are beginning to compare the Turkish assault on Afrin to the ferocity of the attack on Eastern Ghouta by the army of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, backed up by Russian warplanes. However, al-Assad has been regularly dropping barrel bombs packed with explosives and metal and laced with chlorine gas onto civilian neighborhoods and markets in order to kill as many women and children as possible. Erdogan so far has not been taking similar steps in Afrin.

    Still, the bombs and artillery have taken their toll, to the point where there is a fear of a full-scale humanitarian crisis. There are 350,000 people living in central Afrin, and in just the last 24 hours, some 30,000 civilians were forced to flee from their homes, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The water supply has been cut off, and a siege has prevented food and medicines from entering the city, except for just one UN humanitarian aid convoy in early March.

    YPG leaders claim that the Turkish forces are nowhere close to winning in Afrin, and it remains to be seen whether the Turkish forces will become more and more like the Syrian army forces in Eastern Ghouta. Middle East Eye and Yeni Safak (Ankara) and Al Arabiya and Asharq Al Awsat (London) and Middle East Eye

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    Silence from North Korea puts Kim-Trump summit in doubt

    There has been total silence from North Korean on the planned summit meeting between Donald Trump and North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un. There have been no articles or commentary in the North Korean press. There is no word that North Korea is making any preparations for a summit, even though the initial invitation from Kim, sent through the South Koreans, was that Kim "wanted to meet urgently" with Trump.

    There has been no sign that the North Koreans want to go ahead with the summit, whether urgently or not. When I first wrote about the planned summit, one of the things I speculated about was that Kim had extended the invitation expecting it to be rejected, or at least expecting any acceptance to be burdened down with a bundle of preconditions that would never be met. That meant that the invitation was not real, but was a negotiating ploy intended to humiliate Trump. But then Kim must have been surprised when Trump accepted the invitation immediately, without preconditions, although some preconditions were added later.

    The first possible sign that some preparation is being made occurred on Thursday, when North Korea's foreign minister Ri Yong Ho paid a surprise visit to Sweden. However, the purpose of the meeting has not been announced, except to discuss the security situation on the Korean peninsula.

    Meanwhile, North Korea is continuing to stall, in order to give itself breathing space to complete development of its nuclear weapon and long-range ballistic missile program. There's no doubt that development work continued during the Olympics games, and that it's continuing to this day.

    Instead of meeting "very urgently," perhaps Kim just wants to stall further, and delay the meeting as long as possible, until his weapons program is a fait accompli. LA Times and CNN

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Mar-18 World View -- Concerns grow of humanitarian disaster in Afrin, Syria, as Turkey's forces enter thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    15-Mar-18 World View -- Thousands of Ethiopian Oromos flee into Kenya, threatening regional stability

    Fears grow that Ethiopia's ethnic clashes will destabilize the region

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Thousands of Ethiopian Oromos flee into Kenya, threatening regional stability
    • Fears grow that Ethiopia's ethnic clashes will destabilize the region

    Thousands of Ethiopian Oromos flee into Kenya, threatening regional stability


    Deserted streets in Ethiopia's capital city Addis Ababa, as businesses closed after strike called by Oromo activists (AFP)
    Deserted streets in Ethiopia's capital city Addis Ababa, as businesses closed after strike called by Oromo activists (AFP)

    Over 8,000 Ethiopians, mostly ethnic Oromos, have fled Ethiopia since Saturday and are pouring into an emergency refugee camp being set up in Kenya. The camp is in the town of Moyale, the capital of Marsabit County in Kenya, and is on a plot partially owned by the governor of Marsabit.

    Moyale is a border town split into two parts, with one side in Ethiopia and one side in Kenya. The Oromos fled from Moyale in Ethiopia, when Ethiopian soldiers on Saturday shot nine civilians. According to Ethiopian state media, the soldiers shot the civilians by mistake in a botched raid, after mistaking them for members of a banned activist group, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).

    But several residents of Ethiopia's Moyale said that it wasn't a mistake at all, but was intentional on the part of the soldiers, and specifically targeted at random at a crowd of residents:

    "It was then a military vehicle came along. The military jumped out of the car and started shooting aimlessly, killing indiscriminately. Some of them were killed in their homes. Some of them were killed while they were having their lunch. Some others were killed while they were selling in their shops."

    Massive anti-government protests began in Ethiopia's Oromia region late in 2015, and spread to the neighboring Amhara region, leaving hundreds dead and resulting in tens of thousands of arrests. A state of emergency was imposed in October 2016, allowing mass detentions, and imposing numerous restrictions on people’s movement and communication.

    The first state of emergency ended only a few months ago, in August 2017. Anti-government protests began again, and by February there were millions of protesters. This led to the shock resignation of the prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn on February 15. In his letter of resignation, he wrote, "I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy."

    Not surprisingly, Hailemariam's resignation didn't end the protests, but instead led to more activism. The result was that the government's Council of Ministers declared a new state of emergency that "would be instrumental in thwarting ethnic-based conflicts in the country and safeguarding the constitutional order." The Nation (Kenya) and AFP (14-Mar) and Reuters and AFP

    Fears grow that Ethiopia's ethnic clashes will destabilize the region

    As I've previously described in a detailed generational analysis of Ethiopia's protests, Ethiopia's last generational crisis war occurred in 1991, when the Marxist Derg dictatorship was overthrown. Since 1991, the government has been largely controlled by the ethnic Tigrayans, who are a market and government dominant minority, comprising only 6% of the population. Although the Tigrayans comprise only a tiny fraction of the population, the Tigrayan governing coalition has been able to increasingly marginalized the two largest ethnic groups, the Oromo ethnic group (34% of Ethiopia's population), and among the Amhara ethnic group (27%).

    The kind of violence that occurred last weekend is typical of what happens in the generational Awakening era following a generational crisis war that's also a tribal or ethnic war. In these cases, when the war ends, the two warring groups reside in the same country, and sometimes even in the same villages and towns. As a result, memories of the massacres, rapes, mutilations and torture that occurred during the war are constantly refreshed by seeing members of the other tribe on the streets and in the shops.

    That certainly seems to be exactly what's happening here. The government is supposedly investigating what happened on Saturday, and has promised that the guilty parties will be punished, but the most likely explanation is that the soldiers were ethnic Tigrayans who retain bitter memories of how the Oromos killed their wives or sons, and are getting revenge. No investigation will prevent that from happening again.

    The anti-government protests are far from over, and they pose the largest challenge to Ethiopia’s ruling coalition since it took power in 1991.

    In the last two years, more than 900,000 people have been forced from their homes. The Oromo Liberation Front is an activist youth movement of a kind that is typical in generational Awakening eras (such as America in the 1960s). Widespread protest strikes have closed down shops and businesses.

    On Monday, a week-long "fuel blockade" protest action began, blocking roads and preventing fuel tankers from leaving the capital city Addis Ababa and supplying fuel to other towns.

    The government is already without a prime minister, since the resignation of Hailemariam Desalegn on February 15. The massive protests and protest actions are threatening the government, and the brutal state of emergency is apparently having no effect in bringing the protests under control. With thousands of Ethiopians crossing the border into Kenya, a country with its own governmental crisis and ethnic problems, it's feared that the unrest in Ethiopia could spread to other countries in the Horn of Africa. Guardian (London) and France 24 and Africa News and Bloomberg (6-Mar) and Africa News (28-Feb)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Mar-18 World View -- Thousands of Ethiopian Oromos flee into Kenya, threatening regional stability thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    14-Mar-18 World View -- Trump blocks Broadcom acquisition of Qualcomm over national security

    Government urges not doing business with China's Huawei and ZTE

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Trump blocks Broadcom acquisition of Qualcomm over national security
    • Government urges not doing business with China's Huawei and ZTE

    Trump blocks Broadcom acquisition of Qualcomm over national security


     FBI Director Christopher Wray (L) and CIA Director Mike Pompeo (2nd L) testify to a Senate Intelligence Committee on Feb 13, advising Americans not to buy products from Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE (AFP)
    FBI Director Christopher Wray (L) and CIA Director Mike Pompeo (2nd L) testify to a Senate Intelligence Committee on Feb 13, advising Americans not to buy products from Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE (AFP)

    The Trump administration has issued a presidential order blocking the $117 billion proposed takeover of US-based chip maker Qualcomm Inc. by Singapore-based chip maker Broadcom Ltd. Excerpts of the order are as follows:

    "There is credible evidence that leads me to believe that Broadcom Limited, a limited company organized under the laws of Singapore (Broadcom) ..., through exercising control of Qualcomm Incorporated (Qualcomm), a Delaware corporation, might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States. ...

    On the basis of the findings set forth in section 1 of this order, ... I hereby order that:

    (a) The proposed takeover of Qualcomm by the Purchaser is prohibited, and any substantially equivalent merger, acquisition, or takeover, whether effected directly or indirectly, is also prohibited.

    (b) All 15 individuals listed as potential candidates on the Form of Blue Proxy Card filed by Broadcom and Broadcom Corporation with the Securities and Exchange Commission on February 20, 2018 (together, the Candidates), are hereby disqualified from standing for election as directors of Qualcomm. Qualcomm is prohibited from accepting the nomination of or votes for any of the Candidates."

    Broadcom said in a statement it was reviewing the order and that it "strongly disagrees that its proposed acquisition of Qualcomm raises any national security concerns."

    Supporters of the proposed merger point to the fact that Broadcom was a US-based company until its headquarters moved to Singapore in 2016 because of a merger, and that it was in the process of moving its headquarters back to the U.S., partly to allay national security concerns associated with this kind of merger.

    A reason that administration officials are giving for blocking the merger is that Broadcom would curtail investment in the aggressive research and development program that Qualcomm has been pursuing, particularly in 5G technology, the new technology that will substantially speed up data transfers to and from smartphones. If Qualcomm is slowed down from technology development, it would give an advantage to Qualcomm's major competitor, China-based Huawei [pronounced WAH way] Technologies Co., , the world's largest telecommunications-equipment manufacturer. So, based on this logic, the administration determined that the merger would pose a national security risk.

    However, as convenient and simplistic as that explanation is, there are obviously much bigger issues. There has been growing resistance in both the White House and in Congress to allowing Chinese investments in the US and imposing tariffs on a broad range of its imports to punish Beijing for its alleged theft of intellectual property.

    Theft of intellectual property is the real heart of the matter. Whether based in Singapore of the US, Broadcom has ties to several Chinese firms, most notably Huawei, the world's largest telecommunications-equipment manufacturer.

    China uses every opportunity it can to force any company wanting to do business in China to make all its intellectual property available to a government-controlled company, and hence to any other Chinese company. It's feared that if Broadcom acquires Qualcomm, then China will find a way to force the merged company to turn over all its intellectual property to the Chinese government.

    President Donald Trump has been extremely critical of China's trade practices well before becoming president. In the last year, Trump has killed almost a dozen attempted takeovers by foreign countries, and in all but one of the cases, the foreign country was China. In August of last year, Trump ordered an official investigation of China's practices:

    U.S Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer formally initiated an investigation of China under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. The investigation will seek to determine whether acts, policies, and practices of the Government of China related to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation are unreasonable or discriminatory and burden or restrict U.S. commerce."

    This investigation is still ongoing. If the investigation finds against China, then the US could impose a number of penalties, probably triggering retaliation.

    Computer chips, such as those produced by Broadcom, Qualcomm and Huawei, are used not only in desktop computers and smartphones, but also in all kinds of military devices. White House and Bloomberg and US Trade Representative (14-Aug-2017) and AP and Variety

    Government urges not doing business with China's Huawei and ZTE

    Amazon and Best Buy are now offering a new Android smartphone, the Huawei Mate SE, with a large 5.93-inch screen and a big battery, for just $229. However, six intelligence agencies, including the CIA, FBI and NSA, are all advising Americans not to do business with Chinese firms Huawei Technologies Co. or ZTE Corp.

    In February, FBI directory Christopher Wray testified:

    "We're deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don't share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks.

    That provides the capacity to exert pressure or control over our telecommunications infrastructure. It provides the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information. And it provides the capacity to conduct undetected espionage."

    A Huawei spokesman responded in a statement:

    "Huawei is aware of a range of U.S. government activities seemingly aimed at inhibiting Huawei's business in the U.S. market. Huawei is trusted by governments and customers in 170 countries worldwide and poses no greater cybersecurity risk than any ICT vendor, sharing as we do common global supply chains and production capabilities."

    Well, he's not denying that Huawei could maliciously modify and steal information, and conduct undetected espionage. So I'll take that as a "yes," the Chinese are doing exactly that. And 170 other governments are stupid enough to allow it.

    I wrote about this subject back in 2012, when the House Intelligence Committee warned against doing business with Huawei and ZTE, and were warning about a "Cyberwar Pearl Harbor attack" from China. At that time, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta warned that chips manufactured by Huawei or ZTE could be controlled remotely by the Chinese, and develop tools that could "cause panic and destruction and even the loss of life." For example, working remotely, China could "derail passenger trains or even more dangerous, derail trains loaded with lethal chemicals."

    I've spent a part of my career developing chip-level operating system software for embedded systems, so I know exactly how to do what Panetta is suggesting. Furthermore, I can tell you that not only is it doable, it's not even particularly difficult for someone with the right skills.

    Huawei could develop a chipset that works exactly as described in the public specifications. The chipset could be subjected to thousands of tests, and they would all work perfectly.

    But what Huawei could do is install a "backdoor" into the chipset. When the chip receives, say, a secret 1024-bit code, then it will execute commands sent to it by Chinese engineers. Thus, the Chinese are then in control of any devices with Huawei or ZTE chips.

    As I said, this is not only doable, it's easy to do. The "backdoor" could not be detected until an attack had been launched, and then it would be too late.

    And since it CAN be done, I'm absolutely certain that it HAS been done.

    Huawei was founded by Ren Zhengfei, a former Red Army engineer. China has been preparing for war with the U.S. in every possible way. They've built large, illegal military bases in the South China Sea, and repeatedly lied about them. They've developed numerous nuclear-tipped ballistic and hypersonic missile systems designed to successfully strike and destroy American aircraft carriers, American cities, and American bases. They've demonstrated a capability to destroy American communications and GPS satellites. They have thousands of missiles ready to launch against Taiwan, and they have large military deployments in western Tibet ready to invade India.

    China has been preparing in every possible way for years for a successful pre-emptive military strike against the United States, and there is absolutely no doubt that they would also prepare by installing "backdoors" in all the chips and switches and other electronic devices that they sell.

    Basically, any electronic device linked to a Chinese firm is under suspicion, because it's almost certain that the Chinese are preparing to use backdoors and other tools to take control of them remotely in time of war. The Broadcom acquisition of Qualcomm does not have an obvious relation to this threat, but an opening might occur in the future as Broadcom and Huawei continue to do business.

    The Trump administration is using every tool it can to prevent anything that might in the future give Chinese engineers the chance to control American electronic devices. Killing attempted Chinese acquisitions of American products is one way of doing that. CNBC and Forbes and Reuters (16-Jan) and CNBC (13-Feb)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Mar-18 World View -- Trump blocks Broadcom acquisition of Qualcomm over national security thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    13-Mar-18 World View -- Britain threatens Russia with retaliation over nerve gas poisoning of Skripal

    Skripal was attacked with Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent developed by Russia

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Britain threatens Russia with retaliation over nerve gas poisoning of Skripal
    • Russia reacts with massive disinformation campaign
    • Skripal was attacked with Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent developed by Russia

    Britain threatens Russia with retaliation over nerve gas poisoning of Skripal


    Vladimir Putin smirks when a BBC reporter asks him whether Russia poisoned Sergei Skripal
    Vladimir Putin smirks when a BBC reporter asks him whether Russia poisoned Sergei Skripal

    On Sunday, March 4, a policeman in Salisbury, England, found 66 year old Sergei Skripal and his 33 year old daughter Yulia unconscious on a bench. They were both hospitalized, and are still in critical condition. The policeman who found them has also been hospitalized, and is in serious condition.

    Skripal was a Russian former double agent who had been released from Russian jail to the West in a prisoner exchange. He had lived a quiet life in Salisbury, though not under an assumed name. With all three people -- Skripal, his daughter, and the policeman -- all hospitalized, it was suspected that Russia had attacked them, and a full investigation was ordered.

    Russia has a history of attacking disloyal former agents on foreign soil. In 2007, two Russian assassins put polonium into Alexander Litvinenko’s tea, resulting in a long, painful death.

    On Monday, Britain's prime minister Theresa May announced that the investigation was ongoing, but based on the information available so far, it was "highly likely" that Skripal had been poisoned by Russians, using a deadly nerve agent called Novichok that was developed in Russia.

    The following are excerpts from May's speech:

    "But as a nation that believes in justice and the rule of law, it is essential that we proceed in the right way – led not by speculation but by the evidence.

    That is why we have given the police the space and time to carry out their investigation properly. ...

    That investigation continues and we must allow the police to continue with their work. ...

    It is now clear that Mr Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia.

    This is part of a group of nerve agents known as ‘Novichok’.

    Based on the positive identification of this chemical agent by world-leading experts at the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down; our knowledge that Russia has previously produced this agent and would still be capable of doing so; Russia’s record of conducting state-sponsored assassinations; and our assessment that Russia views some defectors as legitimate targets for assassinations; the Government has concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

    Mr Speaker, there are therefore only two plausible explanations for what happened in Salisbury on the 4 of March.

    Either this was a direct act by the Russian State against our country.

    Or the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others."

    It's believed that this concept of "only two plausible explanations" was a carefully crafted phrase to allow Britain to demand that the Russians select from these two choices, either of which implies Russian guilt.

    Britain has demanded that the Russian embassy respond by Tuesday evening, and explain which of the two possibilities it is, and how Novichok could have been deployed in Salisbury.

    May said that when Litvinenko was killed, Britain expelled Russian diplomats and took other steps.

    It's particularly shocking to the British public that the investigation found traces of the nerve agent Novichok in the pizza restaurant where Skripal and his daughter had been eating, indicating that assassins had put the general public in danger.

    The British people appear to be furious at the Russians for conducting chemical warfare on British soil, and it's certain that there will be retaliation. Measures being discussed include expelling more diplomats, freezing more assets of Russian oligarchs, and applying more sanctions. Another recommendation is to ban the station Russia Today from being broadcast in Britain. Russia Today used to be a decent news station, but has turned into just a fairly worthless propaganda arm for the Kremlin.

    However this unfolds, relations between Britain and Russia is going to become increasingly hostile. Mirror (London) and Guardian (London) and Reuters

    Russia reacts with massive disinformation campaign

    At this point we have to provide a brief list of all the lies that Russian officials have told in recent years.

    Russia lied about invading east Ukraine when it had Russian troops in east Ukraine. Russia lied about invading Crimea, and Putin said Russia had no intention of annexing Crimea, but then annexed Crimea a few days later and gave medals to the military officers who had invaded Crimea. Later, in a televised interview, Putin bragged that he had ordered the invasion and annexation of Crimea weeks before it occurred, and then lied about it. Russia lied about shooting down the MH17 passenger plane with a Russian Buk missile, even though the Russian commander in Ukraine initially bragged about shooting it down in a tweet.

    For Syria, Russia lied about Syria's president al-Bashar Assad's use of Sarin gas on his own people, Russia lied about the purpose of its military intervention into Syria as being to attack the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

    Even worse, Russia hired hundreds of paid internet trolls to attack and harass people like me who write about what Russia is actually doing, and to post thousands of disinformation comments online.

    In the case of shooting down the MH17 passenger plane, Russian media and trolls went into full-on troll mode, making one ridiculous claim after another: Russian commander Strelkov's tweet had never occurred; the US had shot down MH17 to embarrass Russia; the airplane was struck by a meteor; no living people were aboard the plane as it flew on autopilot from Amsterdam, where it had been pre-loaded with "rotting corpses."

    The point is that everything the Russians say has zero value. It's of no more use than any pieces of total garbage.

    So with all that in mind, we're about to see another massive disinformation campaign by Russian trolls. There are reports that this campaign has already begun. Here's what we're hearing already, led by Russia's foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova:

    • This is a circus show in the British parliament.
    • Skripal was killed by the British government to embarrass Russia.
    • Theresa May's evidence was a "fairy tale"
    • The incident was made up as part of a much bigger NATO plot to whip up international anger against Russia.
    • The poisoning could be part of a Western plot to justify a boycott of the FIFA World Cup tournament, coming to Russia in three months.

    The picture at the beginning of this article is of Vladimir Putin was visiting Russia's National Grain Center, responding to a question from a BBC reporter about whether Russia was responsible for poisoning Skripal. He responded with a mocking answer:

    "We're dealing with agriculture here you see, to create conditions for people's lives. And you talk to me about some tragedies. First, get to the bottom of it there, and then we'll discuss this."

    Putin was able to respond with a smirk because he knows that Russia will get away with the attack on Skripal. Canadian Broadcasting

    Skripal was attacked with Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent developed by Russia

    The military-grade nerve agent Novichok has been identified as what was used to poison Skripal, his daughter, and the policeman who found them. As far as is known, nobody knows how to make Novichok except the Russians.

    Novichok means "newcomer" in Russian. Novichok agents were developed in the 1980s as a new weapon in the waning days of the Cold War. Novichok chemicals were designed to evade equipment carried by NATO troops. NPR

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Mar-18 World View -- Britain threatens Russia with retaliation over nerve gas poisoning of Skripal thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    12-Mar-18 World View -- Socialists and feminists to act as 'human shields' protecting Kurds from Turkey in Afrin Syria

    US cuts back operations in Incirlik as Turkey-NATO relations sour

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Socialists and feminists to act as 'human shields' protecting Kurds from Turkey in Afrin
    • US cuts back operations in Incirlik as Turkey-NATO relations sour

    Socialists and feminists to act as 'human shields' protecting Kurds from Turkey in Afrin


    Turkish and FSA fighters near Afrin, Syria (Agencia Efe)
    Turkish and FSA fighters near Afrin, Syria (Agencia Efe)

    Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on January 20, expecting to take control of Afrin from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) within a few days. The operation was executed by Arab militias in the Free Syrian Army (FSA), backed by Turkish armed forces. The operation has taken much longer than expected, leading to speculation that Turkey's army has been made substantially weaker because of all the firings of army officers following the botched coup attempt in June 2016.

    However, in the last few days, Turkish forces and the FSA have made extremely rapid progress. They've captured a number of towns and villages on the outskirts of Afrin, and have surrounded Afrin itself, in preparation to enter the Afrin city center shortly.

    Turkish officials say that the reason that the operation has taken so long is that they are trying to minimize civilian casualties. They contrast themselves to the Syrian army of Bashar al-Assad which is attacking Eastern Ghouta and freely targeting civilians with barrel bombs, chlorine gas and Sarin gas.

    However, Socialist and feminist groups are calling on members to act has human shields to prevent Turkish forces from entering Afrin. According to a joint statement by the Initiative for the Unity and Solidarity of Peoples (SYPG) and the Free Socialist Women (JAS):

    "We are now on the 51st day of our great resistance against the attack of the colonialist and fascist Turkish state on our canton Afrin. As SYPG and JAS, we will launch a new group of human shields against the invasion of the Cizirê region and the Firat (Euphrates) region.

    Against the invasion of the Turkish state, all of our oppressed peoples and progressive revolutionary forces should become millions and go out on the streets, giving strength to our Afrin resistance. Colonialism, fascism will be defeated - our resistance from Afrin will prevail. We bow to our fallen in respect and wish all our resistance fighters success."

    Kurdish groups within Turkey itself are also encouraging their members to go to Afrin in Syria and become human shields.

    However, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Turkish led forces are just four to five kilometers from Afrin, and that the objective was not to "occupy" Afrin but to "liberate" it from the YPG occupiers: "In the Afrin region, the owners of the lands have started to come back." Daily Sabah (Ankara) and ANF (Kurdish) and Al Jazeera

    US cuts back operations in Incirlik as Turkey-NATO relations sour

    Turkey's president on Sunday denounced NATO for failing to back Turkey's fight against the YPG:

    "Hey NATO, with what has been going on in Syria, when are you going to come and be alongside us?

    We are constantly harassed by terror groups on our borders. Unfortunately, until now, there has not been a positive word or voice. Is this friendship? Is this NATO unity? Are we not a NATO member?"

    The YPG is linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been conducting a violent insurgency in Turkey for three decades, and has performed multiple major terrorist attacks in major Turkish cities in the last three years. The PKK is considered a terrorist group by the US and the EU.

    So from the point of view of Turkey, the fact that the US has been arming the YPG to fight the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) in Raqqa, and has continued to support the YPG even though Raqqa has been recaptured from ISIS, is considered a major betrayal. In fact, the US has reneged on a promise to Turkey to stop supplying the YPG with heavy weapons.

    The head of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, said after Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch:

    "No NATO member country has been exposed to as many terror attacks as Turkey. Turkey has the right to deal with its own security concerns. Yet, it should do it in a moderate way."

    However, NATO has provided no actual support.

    Turkish public opinion has become increasingly outraged by NATO's lack of support, and by the US arming the YPG, which is linked to the PKK terrorist group. According to one survey of Turkish public opinion, 64.3% of Turks think that the US poses a threat to Turkey, up from 39.2% in 2016.

    According to a Turkish official:

    "Turkey's Syrian border is also NATO's southern border. Within these borders there have been so many assaults from the other side by the YPG and PKK. While not showing any reaction to those attacks, NATO members' stance against Turkey, which is protecting its borders and fights against terrorist groups, is not in line with the law of alliance."

    This has led in Turkey to discussions that Turkey should shut down Incirlik Airbase, which has been used by the US since 1954. Incirlik has about 5,000 U.S. troops, and is home to the 39th Air Base Wing of the U.S. Air Force. In addition, there are calls to shut down Kürecik Base, which is home to a NATO radar system that was designed to intercept rocket attacks.

    It's now being reported that the U.S. military has sharply reduced combat operations at Turkey’s Incirlik air base and is considering permanent cutbacks there.

    In January, the US moved A-10 ground jets from Incirlik base, leaving only refueling aircraft. The number of military members living at the base have also been reduced. At the time, the Pentagon explained the move on the basis of its decision to step up operations in Afghanistan. According to U.S. officials, the U.S. remains committed to Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally, and that there are no immediate plans for a further reduction of forces and aircraft. Daily Sabah (Ankara, 24-Feb) and Hurriyet (Ankara, 13-Feb) and Daily Sabah (15-Feb) and Ahval News and Bipartisan Policy

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Mar-18 World View -- Socialists and feminists to act as 'human shields' protecting Kurds from Turkey in Afrin thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    11-Mar-18 World View -- General warns of US security danger if China acquires Djibouti seaport

    China continues influence through 'debt trap' policies

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • General warns of US security danger if China acquires Djibouti seaport
    • China continues influence through 'debt trap' policies

    General warns of US security danger if China acquires Djibouti seaport


    Djibouti is strategically located at the mouth of the Red Sea, with access to the Suez Canal and the Indian Ocean
    Djibouti is strategically located at the mouth of the Red Sea, with access to the Suez Canal and the Indian Ocean

    The government of Djibouti made a shock announcement in February that it was canceling its contract with Dubai's DP World, and was seizing control of Djibouti's strategic port at the entrance to the Red Sea, the Doraleh Container Terminal.

    DP World and the Republic of Djibouti had signed a 30-year agreement in 2006 for DP World to operate the terminal, which augments the capacity of the International Autonomous Port of Djibouti. But last month, Djibouti announced "The Republic of Djibouti has decided to proceed with the unilateral termination with immediate effect of the concession contract awarded to DP World, ... [to serve] the higher interests of the nation, in particular those relating to the sovereignty of the state and the economic independence of the country."

    DP World called the move an illegal seizure of the terminal and said it had begun arbitration proceedings before the London Court of International Arbitration, but even if DP World wins the case, they will receive monetary compensation, but they will still lose control of the port.

    On Tuesday of last week, Djibouti signed a deal with Singapore-based Pacific International Lines (PIL), a company that works with China Merchants Port Holdings. Although this does not give China control of the port, it's a step in that direction.

    General Thomas Waldhauser, the top US general for Africa, said that "If the Chinese took over that port, then the consequences could be significant," and added, "There are some indications of (China) looking for additional facilities, specifically on the eastern coast ... So Djibouti happens to be the first — there will be more."

    Djibouti is home to the only permanent US military installation in Africa. But last year, China opened its first overseas naval base there too, provided loans to the country, and built a railway connecting the seaport to the Ethiopian capital to improve regional trade.

    One of the concerns is that if Djibouti illegally seized the port from DP World in order to give it to China, then they could just as easily terminate the lease for the US military base, and award that to China as well. According to Waldhauser, "If they did [give the port to China], down the way that restricts access, that restricts the navy’s ability to get in there and offload supplies."

    The larger concern is that the US has been falling behind China in influence in Africa. The US gives millions of dollars in aid, but China has eclipsed the US in Africa in many ways: providing loans, financing much-needed infrastructure, competing for resources like oil and minerals, increasing its trade share, and spreading its ideological influence. Maritime Executive (22-Feb) and Reuters and Quartz and Reuters

    China continues influence through 'debt trap' policies

    The US has provided millions of dollars in aid for counter-terrorism efforts in countries like Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Chad, and Nigeria, to fight terrorist groups like al-Shabaab or Boko Haram.

    China's policies are quite different. China does not provide aid. It provides high interest rate loans to the country to build infrastructure, then provides Chinese workers which the country has to hire to build the infrastructure. The country that receives this kind of "aid" then must pay the salaries of all the Chinese workers, and must also repay the loan, including the high interest. China then extract's the country's resources, and no local jobs are created, and almost no benefit goes to the country.

    If the country is unable to make those payments, then China takes possession of the seaport or other infrastructure, in lieu of payment, and also establishes a community of Chinese workers in the country -- a community which will be there forever.

    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.

    In a speech last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson contrasted US policies with China's policies:

    "The United States pursues, develops sustainable growth that bolsters institutions, strengthens rule of law, and builds the capacity of African countries to stand on their own two feet. We partner with African countries by incentivizing good governance to meet long term security and development goals.

    This stands in stark contrast to China’s approach, which encourages dependency using opaque contracts, predatory loan practices, and corrupt deals that mire nations in debt and undercut their sovereignty, denying them their long-term, self-sustaining growth. Chinese investment does have the potential to address Africa’s infrastructure gap, but its approach has led to mounting debt and few, if any, jobs in most countries. When coupled with the political and fiscal pressure, this endangers Africa’s natural resources and its long-term economic political stability."

    Countries that have already substantially increased their debt-to-GDP ratio because of China's debt trap policies include Djibouti, Montenegro, Pakistan, Mongolia, Maldives, Laos, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. US State Dept and Quartz and CNN and US Embassy in Nigeria

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    10-Mar-18 World View -- The Donald Trump - Kim Jong-un meeting hinges on a decision that Kim has already made

    Kenya's bitter rivals, Kenyatta and Odinga, become 'brothers' as Tillerson arrives

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Kenya's bitter rivals, Kenyatta and Odinga, become 'brothers' as Tillerson arrives
    • The Donald Trump - Kim Jong-un meeting hinges on a decision that Kim has already made

    Kenya's bitter rivals, Kenyatta and Odinga, become 'brothers' as Tillerson arrives


    Uhuru Kenyatta (L) and Raila Odinga shake hands, smile, and call each other 'my brother.'  Odinga particularly seems to me to be gritting his teeth, as if he doesn't want to be there. (Standard Media)
    Uhuru Kenyatta (L) and Raila Odinga shake hands, smile, and call each other 'my brother.' Odinga particularly seems to me to be gritting his teeth, as if he doesn't want to be there. (Standard Media)

    In a show of high theatre on Friday, Kenya's president Uhuru Kenyatta, a leader of the dominant Kikuyu tribe, met with the opposition leader, Raila Odinga, who is also a leader of the Luo tribe. They surprised everyone by shaking hands at a press conference, and calling each other "my brother."

    Gone was the acrimony of last year's election, which had to be rerun because Odinga accused Kenyatta of rigging the election, with violence that led to dozens of deaths. Gone was the vitriol and post-election violence of 2008, when Odinga lost to another Kikuyu, and the two tribes had weeks of bloody violence resulting in thousands of deaths.

    At Friday's love-fest, Odinga said:

    "The time has come for us to confront and resolve our differences. As we fight ostensibly to save ourselves from each other, the reality is, we need to save our children from ourselves."
    Kenyatta said:

    "We had extensive discussions on matters Kenya and we had an agreement that the country is bigger than any of us. We have a responsibility as leaders to discuss our differences and what ails our country so that we get solutions.

    Elections come and go, but Kenya remains. Our future as a country cannot be dictated by elections.

    Together we want to build a united, harmonious nation where nobody feels left behind. We want to formulate a new beginning and have a country where we can differ in political alignments but united in matters Kenya.

    We have moved from year to year, election to election, never pausing to deal with the challenges that our diversity was always going to pose to our efforts to create a prosperous and united nation. Consequently, the ties that bind us are today under the severest stress."

    Kenyatta and Odinga have previously said that they would never talk to each other and shake hands, and they both refused to do so at a funeral earlier this year. So what changed on Friday?

    Late Friday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson began a three-day visit to Kenya. Tillerson has been very critical of last year's election in Kenya, and has been calling for a reconciliation between the two leaders.

    Kenya is one of the biggest recipients of economic aid from the US. Last year, the country received $1.1 billion in economic aid, and aid for other programs such as HIV and Aids management, energy and agriculture. The US has also provided hundreds of millions more, related to the fight against terrorism. Barack Obama, whose father was from the Luo tribe, had also worked hard to promote reconciliation in Kenya when he was president.

    Tillerson seemed very pleased to see Kenyatta and Odinga shake hands:

    "This is a very positive step in our view, and while we know addressing Kenya's ethnic and political divisions will take some time and effort, today both of these men showed great leadership in coming together. All the credit goes to the two leaders."

    Kenya's last generational crisis war was the Mau-Mau rebellion that climaxed in 1956. At that time, Kenya was a British colony, and the Mau-Mau rebellion was largely a fight against the colonists, with Luos and the Kikuyus fighting on the same side. History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes, and so now the Luos and Kikuyus are enemies of each other. The 2008 violence was not a full-scale war, and it fizzled quickly. But today, nine years later, a new generational crisis war is overdue, and with the British colonists long gone, it's feared that there will be a new full-scale crisis war between the Kikuyu, Kalenjin and Luo tribes. Standard Media (Kenya) and The Nation (Kenya) and The Star (Kenya) and Standard Media (Kenya) and The Star (Kenya)

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    The Donald Trump - Kim Jong-un meeting hinges on a decision that Kim has already made


    North Korea's Army of Beauties (Korea Herald)
    North Korea's Army of Beauties (Korea Herald)

    There are many questions being discussed in the mainstream media about the meeting between president Donald Trump and North Korea's president Kim Jong-un. What are the time and place? Who has the advantage? Did Kim agree because of Trump's military threats? Did Kim agree because of the sanctions? Or is the whole thing just a publicity stunt?

    Reports are that Trump immediately accepted the invitation to meet without preconditions. I thought that this was a good negotiating ploy, since it's quite possible that Kim expected Trump to demand major preconditions first, such as the release of Americans being held captive in North Korea, and some steps taken towards denuclearization. I thought that Trump's instant acceptance without preconditions would have been a surprise to Kim, who would then be faced with backing out of the meeting, or facing a meeting where he'd be lectured to by Donald Trump.

    However, by Friday Trump backed off, and specified that some preconditions would have to be met, namely some "concrete and verifiable actions" in the direction of denuclearization. Apparently, Trump was responding to widespread criticism that he'd given Kim something (agreeing to a meeting), while getting nothing in return. I don't agree with that analysis, but it's widely believed.

    There's actually one and only one relevant question, and it has to do with a decision that has undoubtedly already been made by Kim: Has Kim's government already decided to give up its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile development?

    There are two possibilities:

    • Kim has decided NOT to give them up. In that case, the entire meeting invitation is a publicity stunt, and a maneuver to stall for time to do further development. That will almost certainly end in war.
    • Kim has already decided to give up nuclear and missile development. In that case, war will be averted.

    Now, I'm one of those people who believe that there isn't a snowflake's chance in hell that Kim is ready to give up nuclear and missile development.

    But there is one scenario where I can imagine that it might happen, and it's something that I discussed during the Olympics in "12-Feb-18 World View -- What was Kim Yo-jong thinking as she returned to North Korea from the Olympics?"

    The North sent a huge delegation of hundreds of people to Seoul for the Olympics game. They included all the athletes, Kim Jong-un's sister Kim Yo-jong, and the North's "Army of Beauties" cheerleading squad.

    During their visit, the girls in this "Army of Beauties" were carefully monitored, but they would still have had some opportunity to compare life in the South versus life in the North. Upon returning home, they would have told their boyfriends, husbands and fathers how much better life is in the South, and asked "Why don't we do what the South is doing?" After that, hundreds or thousands of people in North Korea's capital Pyongyang might have been asking themselves the same question.

    I realize that this whole scenario sounds fantastical, but it's happened before, and I personally remember it well. As I described in the article referenced above, this is exactly what happened when Russia's Boris Yeltsin visited the United States in 1989. He visited a supermarket, and was so affected by what he saw that he gave up communism. Here's how he explained it in his autobiography:

    When I saw those shelves crammed with hundreds, thousands of cans, cartons and goods of every possible sort, for the first time I felt quite frankly sick with despair for the Soviet people. That such a potentially super-rich country as ours has been brought to a state of such poverty! It is terrible to think of it."

    So very strange things sometimes happen. This scenario is so far-fetched that I would consider it completely impossible, except for the fact that I've seen it happen before.

    At any rate, Kim's government will already know whether it's decided to give up its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile development, so it already knows the likely outcome of the meeting with Trump. We probably won't know for some time to come. Washington Post and Korea Herald (11-Jan)

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    9-Mar-18 World View -- Portions of Indian-governed Kashmir shut down after deadly clashes

    Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) becomes leading jihadist group in Kashmir

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Portions of Indian-governed Kashmir shut down after deadly clashes
    • Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) becomes leading jihadist group in Kashmir

    Portions of Indian-governed Kashmir shut down after deadly clashes


    Complete shutdown of portions of Shopian district in Kashmir (PakToday)
    Complete shutdown of portions of Shopian district in Kashmir (PakToday)

    Portions of Indian-government Kashmir were completely shut down for a fourth day on Thursday, because of the first major deadly clashes of the year, as winter ends and spring approaches. The forced shutdown affected roads, shops, businesses, schools and colleges in the Shopian district of Indian-governed Kashmir.

    Six people were killed -- two militants and four civilians -- in a shootout that took place at 8 pm Sunday in the Shopian district. According to the army statement, the army responded to firing from the militants by firing back, and said that three of the four dead civilians were "overground workers" (OGWs), a term commonly used in Kashmir for non-combatants who provide logistical support for militant groups.

    The killings sparked thousands of people to arrive in Shopian to protest, resulting in stone-throwing clashes with the police, although there were no more deaths. The protesters were particularly infuriated by the "overground workers" characterization of the civilians, who they claim were innocent bystanders.

    Most violent clashes in Kashmir occur during the hot summer months. Kashmir has been relatively quiet for the last few months, as protests have been minimized by the bitter winter code. Even so, according to an estimate, 45 people including 15 security personnel, 19 militants and 10 civilians have lost their lives since January. With an estimated 200 or more active militants in Kashmir, it's expected that the will be a new surge of violence as summer again approaches. Kashmir Reader and Scroll (India) and Kashmir Observer and Ary News TV (Pakistan)

    Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) becomes leading jihadist group in Kashmir

    As we've written in the past, there are three major Pakistan-sponsored jihadist groups operating in Kashmir, and recent events indicate that the relative importance of the three is shifting.

    The oldest is Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), a Pakistan-based terrorist group that was formed in the 1990s by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency to fight India in the disputed regions of Kashmir and Jammu. LeT was the perpetrator of the horrific "26/11" three-day attack on Mumbai in 2008, killing 166 people and wounding hundreds more. ( "After Mumbai's '26/11' nightmare finally ends, India - Pakistan relations face crisis" from 2008)

    According to a report by Indian police, LeT is reducing its operations in Kashmir, because its leader, Hafiz Saeed, is coming under international scrutiny. Hafiz Saeed masterminded the 2008 Mumbai attack. Pakistan held him in house arrest for several years, but refused to bring him to trial. Then in November of last year, Pakistan freed him with no trial and all charges dropped. As he left the court a free man, he was greeted by chanting crowds and rose petals.

    The result, according to the police report, is "increased and repeated international scrutiny of LeT and its chief, [and the] recent development of Pakistan declaring Hafiz Saeed a terrorist under global pressure."

    The second Kashmir jihadist group is the indigenous Hizbul Mujahedeen (HM), a Kashmir-based terrorist group that has been leading the anti-Indian stone-throwing riots of the past two years, triggered by the July 8 2016 death of HM leader Burhan Wani in a gunfight with the Indian army. However, HM has been less effective recently because it's essentially been decapitated, with two of its leaders killed.

    The third jihadist group is Pakistan-sponsored Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). JeM had little of no presence in Kashmir in 2016, but it's been the main perpetrator of terrorist attacks lately, with four terrorist attacks in the last eight months. JeM has been successful in recruiting young Kashmiris and using them for suicide missions, making JeM the current leader in Pakistan-sponsored Kashmir carnage. Indian Express and India.com and LiveMint (India, 9-Oct-2017)

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    8-Mar-18 World View -- US-backed Kurds stop fighting ISIS in order to fight Turkey in Afrin

    Mahmoud Abbas may step down as Palestinian Authority president

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • US-backed Kurds stop fighting ISIS in order to fight Turkey in Afrin
    • Reports of Free Syrian Army atrocities on Kurds in Afrin
    • Mahmoud Abbas may step down as Palestinian Authority president

    US-backed Kurds stop fighting ISIS in order to fight Turkey in Afrin


    Turkish-backed FSA forces are fighting Kurds in Afrin, who will be helped by Kurdish forces in Manbij traveling to Afrin (AFP)
    Turkish-backed FSA forces are fighting Kurds in Afrin, who will be helped by Kurdish forces in Manbij traveling to Afrin (AFP)

    The war in Syria escalated again on Tuesday when militias in the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) fighting ISIS in eastern Syria announced that most of their fighters would abandon the first against ISIS, and would travel to Afrin to oppose Turkish-supported forces seeking to eject the YPG forces there.

    The YPG forces in eastern Syria said that 1,700 fighters would stop fighting the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) in eastern Syria, and would move to Afrin to fight the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA). The FSA is trying to take control of Afrin from the YPG.

    The so-called "Operation Olive Branch" was launched by Turkey on January 20, and was supposed to take control of Afrin within a few days. After that, the original plan was that the FSA would then move east, and similarly take control of Manbij from the YPG. It was never clear how that would work, since there are about 2,000 US special forces in Manbij.

    At any rate, Turkey is still bogged down in Afrin, although Turkish officials say that victory is close. There are a couple of reasons that analysts have been giving to explain the problems that Turkey is facing. First, it's said that the YPG forces are battle-hardened from having fought ISIS. And second, it's said that Turkey's army has been decimated by the massive firings of army leaders following the botched coup by the army in June 2016.

    Whatever the reason, the fact that 1,700 YPG fighters from the Euphrates River Valley are coming to Afrin to fight the Turkish forces can only add to Turkey's problems. Turkey is blaming the United States, and is demanding that the US block the YPG forces from going to Afrin, but it's far from clear that the US has the ability to stop them. CNN and AFP and Al-Monitor and Reuters

    Reports of Free Syrian Army atrocities on Kurds in Afrin

    Reports are mounting that the Turkish-backed Arab militias in the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are committing atrocities in Afrin, taking revenge against the YPG Kurds for the latter's atrocities against innocent Arabs during last year's YPG fight against ISIS.

    Kurdish forces are said to have razed a number of Arab-majority villages in eastern Syria during the clashes with ISIS. One Arab is quoted as saying, "They killed dozens of members of our extended family, bulldozed our homes and joked that they would plant potatoes there."

    Now that Kurdish forces from the east are traveling to fight Arab militias in Afrin who are looking for revenge, there will probably be plenty of atrocities on both sides.

    As I've written many times, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, Jews versus Arabs, and various ethnic groups against each other. Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, the "axis" of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the "allies," the US, India, Russia and Iran. Gulf News and Guardian (London)

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    Mahmoud Abbas may step down as Palestinian Authority president

    There have been sporadic stories for years that Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas was in declining health and would soon step down. Recently, those reports seem to have become more serious, and there's a succession battle brewing among the Palestinians.

    Mahmoud Abbas, 82, was born in 1935, and lived through World War II and the bloody wars between Jews and Arabs that followed the 1948 partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. Having lived though that horrific war, Abbas has been a major force in maintaining a semblance of peace between the Palestinians and Israelis.

    However, Abbas has been seen as increasingly irrelevant by young Palestinians, who see that nothing has changed during the over 20 years since the Palestinians and Israelis signed the Oslo peace accords, Many young Palestinians, as well as many young Israelis, have no fear of an all-out war with each other.

    Abbas himself has become increasingly belligerent in recent weeks, after the United States recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. There have been stories of a new peace plan being drawn up by the Donald Trump administration, but in view of the irrelevance of Abbas, even if he agreed to it the vast majority of Palestinians probably would not.

    If Abbas is replaced as PA president, the successor would almost certainly be much younger, and would probably have the same attitudes as the young Palestinians who have no fear of all-out war with Israel. Al-Monitor

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Mar-18 World View -- US-backed Kurds stop fighting ISIS in order to fight Turkey in Afrin thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    7-Mar-18 World View -- Sri Lanka declares state of emergency after Buddhist-Muslim violence

    North Korea says it will denuclearize if the regime is 'secure'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Sri Lanka declares state of emergency after Buddhist-Muslim violence
    • Growing violence by Sri Lankan Buddhist hardliners against Tamils
    • North Korea says it will denuclearize if the regime is 'secure'

    Sri Lanka declares state of emergency after Buddhist-Muslim violence


    Sri Lanka government troops enforce curfew in Kandy district on Tuesday (Reuters)
    Sri Lanka government troops enforce curfew in Kandy district on Tuesday (Reuters)

    Sri Lanka's government declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, after violent clashes between ethnic Sinhalese and ethnic Tamils began to spread, eight years after the end of an extremely violence civil war between the two ethnic groups.

    The sequence of events is as follows:

    • On February 22, a (Buddhist) Sinhalese truck driver was assaulted by four (Muslim) Tamil youths at a filling station in Digana, Kandy, in Sri Lanka. The truck driver died on Saturday.
    • The funeral was held in Digana on Sunday. During the funeral procession, the Sinhalese began attacking Tamil-owned shops and properties, setting some shops on fire. More than 30 shops and houses were damaged, and dozens of mosques were attacked.
    • Clashes between Tamils and Sinhalese erupted all over the region on Monday, and in other Sri Lankan cities as well. The police imposed a curfew on Monday evening.
    • On Tuesday, Sri Lanka's president Maithripala Sirisena declared a nationwide state of emergency for seven days. Under the emergency, security forces can carry out searches without warrant and detain suspects without charges.

    There has been growing tension and violence between the Sinhalese and Tamil communities, with some hardline Buddhist groups accusing Muslims of forcing people to convert to Islam and vandalizing Buddhist archaeological sites. The Buddhists have also accused the Muslims of refusing to use condoms, so they can have more babies.

    It also appears that Buddhist hardliners in Sri Lanka are being influenced by the genocide by Myanmar (Burma) against Rohingya Muslims. That genocide is being led by Buddhist monks, particularly Ashin Wirathu, a Buddhist monk who turned "969" from a Buddhist sign of peace and happiness into a sign of bloody genocide and ethnic cleansing.

    Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka are mimicking the genocidal incitement in Burma by using racist hate speech to target Sri Lanka Tamils -- most of whom are Hindu. India Today and The Island (Sri Lanka) and UPI

    Growing violence by Sri Lankan Buddhist hardliners against Tamils

    It's only been eight years since the end of the civil war, but we're seeing the very early stages of something that I've described as occurring sooner or later in every country following the end of a generational crisis civil war between two ethnic groups.

    Among generational crisis wars, an external war is fundamentally different than an internal civil war between two ethnic groups. In an external war, one country's army invades another country. When the war ends, the invading army leaves, and the two countries continue relations through the United Nations or international or bilateral treaties.

    But when an internal civil war between two ethnic or tribal groups occurs and then ends, then the people who killed, tortured, mutilated and raped each other still have to live with each other, often in the same villages, sometimes on the same street. And so the extreme trauma and bitterness of war continues, even though the war has ended. That's clearly what we're seeing in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, as the young babies and children who weren't really aware of the war grow older, they become aware of how much they hate each other, and the violence only grows.

    I've written articles about what happens to such countries as the decades pass and new generations grow up during generational Awakening and Unraveling eras. The leaders of the winning side refuse to step down, and start 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.

    This has already started in Sri Lanka. Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected president in 2005, but lost the election in 2015. He tried to get the army to overturn the election results, but didn't succeed in that. But we can certainly expect to see more of that in the future.

    It's too early for that to be happening in Sri Lanka, because the civil war ended only eight years ago. But it's pretty clear that Sri Lanka is on that path. The current violence will fizzle quickly, but as the young post-war generation grows up, the violence between Tamils and Sinhalese will grow, and the Sinhalese government will begin using violence and atrocities to control the Tamils in the name of national security. Indian Express

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    North Korea says it will denuclearize if the regime is 'secure'

    The media are all agog about the sensational statement that came out on Tuesday, as a South Korean delegation returned from its meeting with North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un on Monday. According to South Korea's chief delegator Chung Eui-yong:

    "North Korea made clear its willingness to denuclearize the Korean peninsula and the fact there is no reason for it to have a nuclear program if military threats against the North are resolved and its regime is secure."

    So North Korean officials have thought about nothing else but nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles for decades, but now they're willing to give them up for some promise of security? I don't think so.

    There's nothing that the US could do to guarantee that would cause the North to say: "OK, now I agree that the military threats are resolved, and the regime is secure." The North Koreans could make demands -- withdraw all troops from South Korea, withdraw all ships from the region, close all military bases around the world, etc., etc., but there would always be new demands. So the whole promise is a scam.

    So let's see where this goes next. Daily Telegraph (Australia)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Mar-18 World View -- Sri Lanka declares state of emergency after Buddhist-Muslim violence thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    6-Mar-18 World View -- The Ghouta 'ceasefire' turns into a Syrian army scam to steal humanitarian aid

    Syria says close to defeating Jaysh al-Islam in Eastern Ghouta

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • The Ghouta 'ceasefire' turns into a Syrian army scam to steal humanitarian aid
    • Syria says close to defeating Jaysh al-Islam in Eastern Ghouta

    The Ghouta 'ceasefire' turns into a Syrian army scam to steal humanitarian aid


    Trucks from humanitarian convoy in Eastern Ghouta on Monday (Reuters)
    Trucks from humanitarian convoy in Eastern Ghouta on Monday (Reuters)

    Syria permitted a humanitarian aid convoy to enter Eastern Ghouta for the first time on Monday, but the Syrian army confiscated 70% of the humanitarian supplies as it entered the region, suggesting that the entire humanitarian aid program is a scam to use Western money to provide supplies to the Syrian army.

    It was only in the last two weeks that Russia announced that it would permit a "ceasefire" in Eastern Ghouta for five hours a day, from 9 am to 2 pm. This ceasefire would permit civilians to leave, and humanitarian aid to be brought in.

    So here are the results so far:

    • There's been no ceasefire. Syrian and Russian warplanes continue bombing between 9 am and 2 pm each day. The "ceasefire" agreement was a lie.
    • Civilians are not leaving because they're afraid to leave. Interviews with Eastern Ghouta civilians indicate that they don't trust the Syrian army, and believe that if they try to leave, the Syrian army will kill them. This is what happened in Aleppo.
    • Humanitarian aid was allowed in on Monday for the first time, but 70% of the supplies were confiscated by the army.

    The humanitarian aid convoy contained 46 trucks. The convoy reached its destination in Douma, in the north of Eastern Ghouta, amid continuing bombing by Syrian and Russian warplanes. The trucks were said to contain food for just 27,500 people, out of the 400,000 people under siege in Eastern Ghouta.

    However, not all the food could be unloaded because the convoy had to leave abruptly, because of incessant bombing by Syrian and Russian warplanes. So Syria prevented even that extremely limited amount of humanitarian aid from being delivered.

    There's really nothing surprising about what's going on. During Syria's siege of Aleppo in 2016, there were similar ceasefires that weren't ceasefires, and people who tried to leave were permitted to leave, but then were killed as they were leaving. There was humanitarian aid, but Syria's army confiscated most of it before it could reach its destination, and on some occasions the humanitarian aid convoy was targeted by Syrian and Russian warplanes. Arab News and Reuters and BBC and AFP

    Syria says close to defeating Jaysh al-Islam in Eastern Ghouta

    Although Syria's president Bashar al-Assad considers pretty much all the 400,000 people in Eastern Ghouta to be terrorists, his army is particularly targeting an anti-Assad militia called "Jaysh al-Islam," or "Army of Islam."

    After al-Assad began targeting peaceful protesters in 2011, and particularly after he massacred thousands of innocent women and children in a Palestinian refugee camp in Latakia in August 2011, anti-Assad militias began to form. These militias were generally very small, but in 2013, Jaysh al-Islam was formed through a merger of about fifty Damascus-based opposition groups. In addition to opposing al-Assad, it was equally opposed to the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), and was responsible for expelling ISIS from the Damascus area.

    Today, Jaysh al-Islam has about 10,000 fighters in Eastern Ghouta, and is the major group opposing the Syrian army in Eastern Ghouta. Eastern Ghouta has been under the control of Jaysh al-Islam and other anti-Assad militias since 2012.

    The Syrian government now says that its army have reclaimed a third of Eastern Ghouta in the last few days. Furthermore, the army "has been rapidly advancing through the East Ghouta region of Damascus recently, capturing several areas that were under the control of Jaysh Al-Islam," according to Syrian media.

    The current objective of the Syrian army is to split Eastern Ghouta into two pieces, so that it's divided horizontally. Syrian media says that the army has taken control of several villages and farms "eliminating large numbers of terrorists and destroying their bases, tunnels, trenches, and ordinance." If it's successful in splitting the region, then the Jaysh al-Islam in the north will be cut off from supplies, giving the Syrian army control of the northern half. Al Masdar News (Damascus) and Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) and Mehr News (Iran) and Stanford - Jaysh al-Islam and Deutsche Welle

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Mar-18 World View -- The Ghouta 'ceasefire' turns into a Syrian army scam to steal humanitarian aid thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    5-Mar-18 World View -- India and Vietnam sign security agreements for the South China Sea

    India's relationship with Southeast Asian nations overshadowed by China

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • India and Vietnam sign security agreements for the South China Sea
    • India's relationship with Southeast Asian nations overshadowed by China

    India and Vietnam sign security agreements for the South China Sea


    Vietnam's Tran Dai Quang visits Narendra Modi in New Delhi
    Vietnam's Tran Dai Quang visits Narendra Modi in New Delhi

    During a state visit by Vietnam's president Tran Dai Quang to New Delhi on Saturday, Quang and India's president Narendra Modi reached agreements to increase trade and investment between the two countries, and to cooperate in development projects in the defense sector and to boost ties in oil and gas exploration.

    Possibly the most significant agreement was a statement which, while not specifically naming China, strongly objected to China's actions in the South China Sea. According to the joint statement issued after the Quang-Modi meeting:

    "27. The two sides re-affirmed their determination and efforts to further cooperate in maintaining peace, stability and development in the Indo-Pacific region as well as in the world at large. They also reiterated the importance of, and the need for complete compliance with international law, notably the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS), including the implementation of international legal obligations in good faith, the maintenance of freedom of navigation and over-flight in the South China Sea, full respect for diplomatic and legal processes, peaceful settlement of disputes without resorting to the threat or use of force, and in accordance with international law. In this regard, both sides support the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and look forward to an early conclusion of an effective and substantive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea."

    In the past, China has used military force to prevent Vietnamese fishing boats from fishing in their own territorial waters.

    A possible future flash point is India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) exploration activities in Vietnam's territorial waters in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese President said, "We highly value projects, including the cooperation in joint oil and gas exploration in the continental shelf of Vietnam."

    The two leaders also signed pacts to provide for cooperation in areas of nuclear energy, trade and agriculture. Times of India and Vietnam News and Business Today (India)

    India's relationship with Southeast Asian nations overshadowed by China

    In the 1990s, India adopted a "Look East" policy, committing the country to actively engage the countries of Southeast Asia in terms of trade, security, and agriculture. Nothing much came out of that policy, and in November 2014, India's prime minister Narendra Modi announced that the "Look East" policy would be replaced by an "Act East" policy.

    Still, not much has happened as a result of the Act East policy, but a highly symbolic event occurred in January, when India held a Republic Day celebration on January 25, and invited the leaders of all ten countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and they all agreed to come. According to a euphoric India media blog:

    "It is unprecedented, to say the least. It is a coup of sorts: the presence of all 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) leaders as chief guests for India’s Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi. This puts much speculation to rest as to whether all 10 heads of governments would be present on the occasion or not.

    Notwithstanding some of these countries maintaining close ties with China, all the Asean leaders have decided to be present for today’s India-Asean Commemorative Summit as well as Republic Day tomorrow. This would send out a clear message that Delhi’s Act East policy complements Asean’s Act West one. India’s focus is now on upping the game to be a player in Southeast Asia to balance power dynamics."

    However, the euphoria was ridiculed by media commentary in other countries, comparing India's influence with that of China. From Singapore:

    "Amidst palpable euphoria at India hosting the heads of all 10 Asean countries as guests of honor at its Republic Day ceremonial parade, preceded a day earlier by an Asean-India summit celebrating the silver anniversary of their relationship, India needs to shed its abiding image of bureaucratic inertia, of being tardy and slovenly in turning its initiatives into action. ...

    China comes across as a Plutus or a Croesus, enticing India's ring of neighbors. India is perceived more like a poor Lazarus. That India has no deep pockets is understandable; what is inexcusable is its bureaucratic sloth and smugness.

    While India remains a laggard, in sharp contrast China sprints ahead. India is seen as chugging along, metaphorically, with a bullock-cart mentality; China has zipped ahead like a Formula One racing car."

    China's media was even more contemptuous:

    "Repeated reports by some Indian media that New Delhi has launched a diplomatic offensive against Beijing are baffling to the Chinese public. India and ASEAN have the right to hold the summit, which exerts no negative effect upon China. However, some Indians are tenacious in exaggerating the meeting's implications to China.

    In fact an examination of the China-Southeast Asia relationship suggests that the situation is not like that the Indian media depicts. ASEAN's trade volume with China is more than six times that of India, and China's investment in the region is 10 times that of India.

    Some members of the Indian elite enjoy engaging in geopolitical bluster. But they cannot truly gauge the reality of India's comprehensive strength and diplomatic experience. They are beginners playing at geopolitics.

    Honestly speaking, Chinese people are not occupied by India. New Delhi is not Beijing's major trading partner, and, despite border disputes, is not an imminent security threat to us Chinese."

    It actually is somewhat surprising that all ten ASEAN country leaders were willing to attend India's Republic Day celebrations. Cambodia and Laos are very close partners with China, and one can imagine that they asked China's permission before attending. Other ASEAN countries have varying relations with China and India, but in most cases China is a more important trading partner.

    Vietnam seems to be the ASEAN country forging the closest links to India, not only economically, but confronting China in the South China Sea. The Diplomat and Times of India (24-Jan) and Straits Times (Singapore, 26-Jan) and Global Times (China) and East-West Center (13-Feb)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Mar-18 World View -- India and Vietnam sign security agreements for the South China Sea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    4-Mar-18 World View -- China pushes to invest heavily in Iraq's energy infrastructure

    African Cédric Bakambu joins China's Sinobo Guoan Football (Soccer) Club

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Burkina Faso terror attack targets France's anti-terror Operation Barkhane
    • China pushes to invest heavily in Iraq's energy infrastructure
    • African Cédric Bakambu joins China's Sinobo Guoan Football Club

    Burkina Faso terror attack targets France's anti-terror Operation Barkhane


    Burkina Faso soldiers patrol the army's headquarters in Ouagadougou (AFP)
    Burkina Faso soldiers patrol the army's headquarters in Ouagadougou (AFP)

    Eight soldiers died and 12 were seriously wounded on Friday by a major terrorist attack in Ouagadougou, the capital city of Burkina Faso, on the army headquarters and the French embassy. Eight attackers were also killed. Burkina Faso is a landlocked nation in West Africa, and one of the poorest countries in the world.

    The al-Qaeda linked Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslim (JNIM, Group for Support of Islam and Muslims) claimed responsibility for the attack. JNIM was formed in 2017 by a merger of four Mali-based al-Qaeda linked groups, including Ansar Dine, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Al Murabitoon, and Katibat Macina (Macina Liberation Front). These groups were responsible for a surge of hundreds of al-Qaeda linked attacks in Africa's Sahel (the strip of Africa just below the Sahara desert, separating the Arab north from Black Africa to the south), including Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.

    Burkinabe president Roch Kabore urged the public to be calm on Saturday: "In these difficult moments, I would like to reaffirm to Africa and the entire world my unshakeable faith in the capacity of the Burkinabe people to preserve their dignity and ferociously oppose their enemies."

    Although there were no French casualties, it's thought that the attack was meant to target France's Operation Barkhane, which ws launched in August 2014, and has been effective in targeting al-Qaeda linked terror groups throughout the region.

    Several extremist groups have also vowed to step up attacks on the France-led "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, not surprisingly, many people believe that the level of terrorism is increasing in the region, despite the deployment of these counter-terrorism forces. Radio France International and Deutsche Welle and Reuters and AP

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    China pushes to invest heavily in Iraq's energy infrastructure

    China has been pushing to invest billions of dollars in Iraq's energy infrastructure, especially Iraq's oil fields.

    Iraq is strategically important to China's government, military, and the "One Belt, One Road" grand strategy that supposedly will link everything in Europe and Asia to China by 2050. Any relationship in the Middle East is important to China also because of China's enormous thirst for imported oil.

    China is the world's biggest importer of oil. Any shortage of oil in China could trigger a hard recession in China and lead to unrest. Iraq represents a major opportunity to increase the flow of oil imports.

    In January, it emerged that China intended to construct an oil refinery on the port of Fao on the Arabian Gulf with two Chinese companies, Power China and Nerco Chinese. The refinery would have a capacity to produce 300,000 barrels per day. Iraq has also just awarded a control China-based Zhenhua Oil to further develop Iraq's East Baghdad oilfield. Chinese state-owned enterprises are now the biggest oil investors in Iraq, especially the modernization and development of Iraq’s oil infrastructure.

    Iraq's oil refining capacity was curtailed when the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) overran much of northern Iraq in 2014. Iraq has been recovering, and is now OPEC’s second-largest oil producer, after Saudi Arabia.

    Ironically, both Iraq and Saudi Arabia are restricted in the amount of oil that they can sell to China. The reason is that the OPEC countries have agreed to production limits in order to keep the price of oil from falling. Arab News and Reuters and Xinhua

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    African Cédric Bakambu joins China's Sinobo Guoan Football Club


    Televised introduction of Cédric Bakambu to Beijing's Sinobo Guoan Football (Soccer) Club (Al-Jazeera)
    Televised introduction of Cédric Bakambu to Beijing's Sinobo Guoan Football (Soccer) Club (Al-Jazeera)

    China's Sinobo Guoan Football (Soccer) Club has paid a reported amount of $91 million to sign Cédric Bakambu, making Bakambu the most expensive soccer player in African history. He was born in France, but switched his allegiance to the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2015.

    The reason that I'm including this story is because of the startling screen shot above, which was from Bakambu's televised introduction on Chinese television. The screen shot shows eight people on the team, with Bakambu in the middle in the fourth position. I don't know who all these people are, but the people in positions #5 and #8 appear to be European.

    The others are all Chinese, and they're all doing everything possible to avoid looking at the camera. The person in position #3 is holding up two fingers to his eye which might mean that he's scratching an itch around his eye, or it might mean that he's using his fingers to express disdain in some way to the television audience.

    This video was broadcast on al-Jazeera, and as I watched it I found it really startling. China is known to have some extreme racism issues with Africans, and this screen shot seems to put them on display. BBC Sport

    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Mar-18 World View -- China pushes to invest heavily in Iraq's energy infrastructure thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    3-Mar-18 World View -- Turkey suffers military setback in 'Operation Olive Branch' in Afrin Syria

    Turkey doubles down on Afrin-Manbij operation, despite US opposition

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Turkey suffers military setback in 'Operation Olive Branch' in Afrin Syria
    • Turkey doubles down on Afrin-Manbij operation, despite US opposition

    Turkey suffers military setback in 'Operation Olive Branch' in Afrin Syria


    Turkish special forces being deployed to Afrin, Syria, last month (RT)
    Turkish special forces being deployed to Afrin, Syria, last month (RT)

    Turkey's forces suffered heavy losses on Thursday during its "Operation Olive Branch" in Afrin, with the military announcing that eight soldiers were killed and 13 more wounded, making this the deadliest day for Turkey since the Afrin operation began on January 20. Turkey's defense minister announced that, since the operation began, a total of 41 Turkish soldiers had been killed.

    Turkey considers the YPG Kurds to be terrorists, because they're linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). The PKK has perpetrated large terrorist attacks in Turkey in the last two years, and has conducted an on-and-off separatist insurgency against Turkey's government for thirty years. The US and the EU also consider the PKK to be a terrorist organization, though not the entire YPG.

    The Kurds have set as a goal the creation of an independent state of Rojava along Syria's northern border with Turkey. Turkey considers that objective to be an existential threat.

    Turkey launched the Afrin operation to thwart a YPG objective to establish the state of Rojava. Turkish troops are backed by an estimated 22,000 "moderate rebels" in the Free Syrian Army (FSA), while the YPG is estimated to have about 8,000 to 10,000 fighters in Afrin. According to Turkey's defense minister, 116 fighters from the FSA have been killed since the operation began. Turkey also claims that 2,295 "YPG - PKK - ISIS terrorists" have also been killed.

    According to reports, the Turkish forces that were killed on Thursday were special forces units that had been recently deployed to Afrin. They had been chosen because of their previous urban warfare experience in fighting the PKK. The YPG fighters ambushed the Turkish forces by hiding out in tunnels, and then emerged from the tunnels for the ambush.

    Despite the deaths of Turkish forces, the operation in Afrin appears to have unified the Turkish citizens, at least the citizens who aren't Kurds. Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) is fully supporting the operation:

    "We trust our army, we have no doubt that they will succeed in their mission to fight terror. ...

    We cover the coffins of our martyrs with a Turkish flag. My citizens, let’s hang the Turkish flag on our homes, offices and working places until our martyrs rest in peace."

    However, Kiliçdaroglu has previously said that he does not want Turkish troops to enter Afrin's city center:

    "I do not approve of an offensive into the center of Afrin because it shouldn’t be about capturing a city. Why did we enter the Afrin district [in the first place]? To eliminate terror organizations on our border."

    On Friday, a number of CHP lawmakers went onto their social media accounts, and changed their pictures to an image of the Turkish flag. France 24 and Yeni Safak (Ankara) and Hurriyet (Ankara)

    Turkey doubles down on Afrin-Manbij operation, despite US opposition

    The fact that the operation to take control of Afrin is taking several months instead of several days has the advantage that it has postponed a possible major confrontation for several months, and possibly forever.

    Once the Turkish army has taken control of Afrin, the plan is to move farther east and perform the same operation in the town of Manbij. The problem is that there are also US troops around Manbij. The YPG has been the main fighting force to defeat the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), backed up by weapons, airstrikes and training by US forces.

    Turkey does not distinguish between the YPG, the PKK and ISIS, considering all of them to be terrorists. According to Turkey's deputy prime minister Hakan Cavusoglu, the PKK-YPG terror group have committed many war crimes:

    "The recruitment of children, which is one of the six grave violations identified by the UN resolutions, is just one of the crimes against humanity committed by PKK/YPG.

    PKK/YPG has a bloody record of using land mines and toxic gas, using civilians as human shields, and targeting hospitals, refugee camps and civilian residential areas."

    In mid-February, American Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, at a time when Turkey was saying that the US-Turkey relationship was at a "critical point." Erdogan is particularly infuriated by the weapons and support that the US gives to the so-called "YPG-PKK terrorists." Turkey's foreign minister said, "Ties with the U.S. are at a very critical point. We will either fix these relations or they will break completely."

    At the time, Tillerson said:

    "We are keenly aware of the legitimate security concerns of Turkey, our coalition partner and NATO ally. We will continue to be completely transparent with Turkey about our efforts in Syria to defeat ISIS, and we stand by our NATO ally in its counterterrorism efforts."

    Turkey took that statement to mean that the US and Turkey are allies, and that the US and the YPG are NOT allies.

    On Thursday, an unnamed US official reinforced Tillerson's comment:

    "We are very careful not to use that word [alliance] for the YPG. We are not using the YPG as an ally of the U.S. Our ally is Turkey and that is something that the Secretary [of State Rex] Tillerson emphasized in his remarks in Ankara. We have a long-term, enduring, historic alliance and partnership with Turkey and that is not going to change.

    The U.S. has made it clear from the beginning that our military cooperation with the YPG was a temporary, tactical arrangement aimed entirely at combating [ISIS]. We have made it clear that once ISIS was defeated we would have no plans for an enduring military relationship with the YPG and certainly no plans for an enduring political relationship with the Democratic Union Party [PYD]. That has not changed."

    On Friday, Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim indicated that Turkey is doubling down on the fight with YPG, and that the fight would go beyond Afrin:

    "This operation based on international law and our legitimate rights will continue to the end. [Giving] any day or date [when it will end] is out of the question here.

    [The operation will end after] the complete wiping out and neutralization of terror organizations. Wherever there is terrorism, they will be our target."

    Right now, Turkey's forces appear to be bogged down in Afrin, and this could mean that Turkey's plans to move on to Manbij will never be realized.

    The US military says: "We remain committed to fulfilling our promises regarding the YPG presence in Manbij. It is a city with a lot of people and somebody has to provide security there but our intention is that will not be the YPG."

    That leaves open the question of who will provide security for Manbij. If it's not the US, and it's not the YPG, and it's not the Turks, then perhaps it's a local Arab militia, or perhaps it's Bashar al-Assad's army. This remains to be seen. Anadolu and Washington Examiner and Daily Sabah (Ankara) and Hurriyet (Ankara)

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    2-Mar-18 World View -- Bangladesh formally protests Burma's (Myanmar's) troop buildup near border

    April monsoon rains will have disastrous impact on Rohingya camps in Bangladesh

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Bangladesh formally protests Burma's (Myanmar's) troop buildup near border
    • April monsoon rains will have disastrous impact on Rohingya camps in Bangladesh

    Bangladesh formally protests Burma's (Myanmar's) troop buildup near border


    Rohingya refugees' tents are likely to be washed away in the flooding and landslides from the April monsoons (Guardian)
    Rohingya refugees' tents are likely to be washed away in the flooding and landslides from the April monsoons (Guardian)

    Bangladesh summoned Burma's (Myanmar’s) ambassador on Thursday as hundreds of Burmese armed soldiers and police came to a border fence near Burma's border with Bangladesh, and appeared to be moving heavy weapons, including mortars and machine guns, to the area.

    The Burmese troops have been surrounding a strip of land dubbed "no man's land," because it is beyond Myanmar's border fence but on Myanmar's side of a creek that marks the international border. There are about 5,300 Rohingya Muslims living in a makeshift camp in the no man's land area.

    Since 2011, Burma's mostly Buddhist 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 by Buddhist security forces include gang rape, violent torture, execution-style killings and the razing of entire villages, in a scorched earth campaign. The atrocities by Buddhist security forces worsened considerably last August when Rohingya activists killed several Burmese security forces in attacks against 30 Burmese police outputs. Many Rohingyas were forced to flee into neighboring Bangladesh. Today, there are about 700,000 Rohingyas living in refugee camps in Bangladesh, and about 5,300 have stayed in the small no man's land camp on the Burma side.

    Myanmar's unexplained military buildup near the Bangladesh border is raising new tensions between the two countries. After Burmese forces have repeatedly conducted mass slaughter and scorched earth operations against Rohingya civilians, it's feared that Burma is about to do it again. Burmese forces have already been using loudspeakers ordering the Rohingyas to get out, and according to some reports have been throwing stones.

    After the Bangladesh protest on Thursday, the Burmese forces near the camp withdrew their heavy weapons, but the troops remained, and they began firing live bullets into the air.

    Last year, under heavy international pressure, Burma agreed to accept the return of hundreds of thousands of refugees that had fled to Bangladesh. The agreement was farcical in that it's never going to happen. It's like the ceasefire that Russia and Syria agreed to as the exterminate civilians in East Ghouta. These agreements are only used as political cover to continue exterminations, genocide, and ethnic cleansing.

    It's not known what the Burmese troops are planning, but no one would be surprised if they're planning a massive new attack on the civilians in the camp, including women and children. BD News (Bangladesh) and Daily Star (Bangladesh) and AP and AFP

    April monsoon rains will have disastrous impact on Rohingya camps in Bangladesh

    Nearly 700,000 Rohingyas have crossed the border from Burma into Bangladesh in just the last six months. Refugee camps were created for them by stripping the land of trees and other vegetation, to make room for shelters, mostly made from tarpaulin and bamboo.

    Many of these shelters were built on slopes and hillsides. When monsoon rains arrive in April, these slopes will turn to mud, and many of these shelters will collapse and be washed away. It's believed that about 100,000 people will be displaced at the time.

    Aid agencies are preparing in advance by setting up emergency medical centers to prepare for spread of diseases like diarrhea, dysentery, and mosquito-borne diseases like dengue, malaria, and others. Light machinery will be installed and work crews established at ten strategic points across the district to clear major drains and waterways after landslides and mud cause road closures and blockages.

    The Rohingya situation has been mostly out of the news for the last few weeks, but it could escalate to a major new crisis very quickly if Burmese troops commit new atrocities on Rohingyas while the monsoon rains displace hundreds of thousands of them.

    Some people claim that Buddhism is a "religion of peace," despite the massive Buddhist on Buddhist genocide in the Killing Fields of Cambodia in 1975-79. For the last six years, it's been clear that the Buddhists in Burma have been taking lessons from their brethren in Cambodia, and are repeating the Cambodia genocide on the Muslim Rohingyas in Burma. Some people claim that Buddhists are better than Muslims, but from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, there is no difference at all between Buddhists and Muslims except that they us different religious justifications when they exterminate, torture and commit atrocities on innocent civilians that they don't like. That's the way the world works. UN Migration Agency and Reuters and Guardian (London)

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    1-Mar-18 World View -- Moving sharply left, South Africa calls for potentially disastrous land reform

    Julius Malema and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) movement

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Moving sharply left, South Africa calls for potentially disastrous land reform
    • Julius Malema and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) movement

    Moving sharply left, South Africa calls for potentially disastrous land reform


    South Africa's president Cyril Ramaphosa after addressing parliament on Tuesday (Daily Maverick)
    South Africa's president Cyril Ramaphosa after addressing parliament on Tuesday (Daily Maverick)

    In a major shift in public opinion in support of the radical far left Economic Freedom Fighters and its leader Julius Malema, South Africa's parliament has passed overwhelmingly a motion for a constitutional amendment that would allow the government to expropriate land from white-owned farms with no compensation whatsoever.

    A year ago, a similar motion was rejected, with 261 against and 33 in favor. But on Tuesday, the vote was carried with 241 votes in favor, and 83 against. Expropriation of private land without compensation is forbidden by Section 25 of South Africa's constitution, but the overwhelming acceptance of the motion far exceeds the 2/3 majority required to amend the constitution. This change within one year represents a radical shift in public opinion.

    The successful campaign to pass the motion was led by left-wing radical Julius Malema, who was expelled from the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party in 2012, with the expectation that he would die a quick political death. Instead, he's successfully led a racially divisive campaign that's become so popular that the ANC was forced to endorse the land reform proposal, giving it an overwhelming victory.

    Leading the debate in the parliament, Malena said that "it was time for justice" on the land issue:

    "We must ensure that we restore the dignity of our people without compensating the criminals who stole our land."

    According to South Africa's new president, Cyril Ramaphosa, who recently replaced the corrupt Jacob Zuma, taking farmland away from white farmers is necessary because of "land hunger" among blacks:

    "Land dispossession is a defining feature of colonialism and apartheid in SA. Land hunger among black South Africans is genuine and pressing. The time has arrived that we act decisively to resolve this matter. We must repair the damage inflicted upon our people.

    The time has arrived that we act decisively to resolve this matter. We must repair the damage inflicted upon our people.

    By providing more land to more producers for cultivation and by providing the necessary support, we are laying the foundation for what I would call an agricultural revolution. We are determined to work with traditional leaders to significantly expand agriculture not only to ensure food security, but also to create jobs on a significant scale and increase the value of our exports."

    This is a typically meaningless political speech, full of hot air. The promise of an "agricultural revolution" is laughable.

    Ramaphosa also promised that the land expropriation would only be used when the amount of food produced would be increased. This is also laughable.

    What will happen is what always happens in Socialist societies. Thousands of hard-working white farmers and their families will be thrown into the streets, and their farms will be turned over to party cronies who know nothing about farming. This happened in Zimbabwe, and similar things happen in all Socialist countries. This will be a disaster for South Africa's economy, and for all of Africa.

    I've written many times what happened in Zimbabwe. It's hard to believe, but Zimbabwe used to be the breadbasket of southern Africa, growing much more food than the country needed and exporting the rest. Then in 1999 Robert Mugabe instituted a "land reform" plan just like the one that South Africa is about to implement. Within ten years, Zimbabwe was an economic disaster, with mass starvation, a worthless currency, and massive million percent inflation.

    We've seen the same thing happen in Venezuela, as Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro destroyed the economy to the extent that food and medicines and even toilet paper are unavailable.

    Bashar al-Assad is destroying Syria by different means -- with barrel bombs, Sarin gas, and attacks with other chemical weapons, including chlorine, ammonia and phosphorous.

    We now know that North Korea has been supplying components to Syria to manufacture poison gas, and it uses the money to develop nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles capable of carrying the nuclear weapons to the United States, or elsewhere in the world.

    And all this is going on with the support and encourage of China, Russia and Iran.

    This is the club of countries where the leaders are destroying their countries through economic destruction or weapons destruction. It's not surprising that South Africa is now joining that club. Daily Maverick (South Africa) and Business Live (South Africa) and Citizen (South Africa) and News 24 (South Africa)

    Julius Malema and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) movement

    Julius Malema was expelled the ruling ANC in 2012 because he offended large sections of society, and has been accused of racism, sexism and corruption. He was twice convicted of hate speech in 2010 and 2011, for inciting violence against whites.

    However, he has thousands of supporters, mainly poor black South Africans who resent the history of apartheid. In 2013 he formed the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which describes itself as follows on its web site:

    "1. The ECONOMIC FREEDOM FIGHTERS is a radical and militant economic emancipation movement that brings together revolutionary, fearless, radical, and militant activists, workers’ movements, nongovernmental organizations, community-based organizations and lobby groups under the umbrella of pursuing the struggle for economic emancipation.

    2. The EFF is a radical, leftist, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movement with an internationalist outlook anchored by popular grassroots formations and struggles. ...

    5. The EFF is a South African movement with a progressive internationalist outlook, which seeks to engage with global progressive movements. We believe that the best contribution we can make in the international struggle against global imperialism is to rid our country of imperialist domination. For the South African struggle, the EFF pillars for economic emancipation are the following:

    a. Expropriation of South Africa’s land without compensation for equal redistribution in use.

    b. Nationalization of mines, banks, and other strategic sectors of the economy, without compensation."

    We've seen this script before. Socialism has a 100% failure rate, and South Africa is headed in the same direction, starting with the nationalization of farms, and continuing with the nationalization of mines, banks, and other businesses -- all without compensation.

    There are a couple of things that are becoming clear.

    First, you'd have to be crazy to invest in South Africa, because any business could be subject to nationalization without compensation at any time.

    Second, you'd have to be crazy to give foreign aid to South Africa, since any money would just be wasted on corruption.

    A country that goes down the path of nationalizing farms without compensation, with nationalization of other businesses to follow, is a country that cannot be helped. Economic Freedom Fighters online and BBC (30-Sep-2014) and South Africa History

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    28-Feb-18 World View -- Russia's 'humanitarian pause' in Syria turns into farce on first day

    Report: North Korea is selling chemical weapons supplies to Syria

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Russia's 'humanitarian pause' in Syria turns into farce on first day
    • Report: North Korea is selling chemical weapons supplies to Syria
    • Areas of control in Syria and Iraq

    Russia's 'humanitarian pause' in Syria turns into farce on first day


    Smoke rising from Eastern Ghouta after air strikes by Syrian and Russian warplanes during the ceasefire on Monday (AFP)
    Smoke rising from Eastern Ghouta after air strikes by Syrian and Russian warplanes during the ceasefire on Monday (AFP)

    We keep seeing the same horrible script played out over and over. What we've seen in the last few days is similar to what we've seen probably a dozen or so times in the UN Security Council in the last few years:

    • Russian and Syrian government warplanes sharply increased the frequency of bombing civilian targets in eastern Ghouta, specifically targeting hospitals and food convoys.
    • The Syrian government has been freely using chemical weapons, including Sarin gas and chlorine gas. They don't even bother to try to hide it anymore.
    • UN officials, including Secretary-General António Guterres and US ambassador Nicki Haley, made the usual scripted remarks: "Condemn ... war crimes ... outrageous ... not acceptable ... must stop ... immediate ceasefire ... blah, blah, blah." It's always the same script.
    • The members of the Security Council spent two weeks saying stupid things to one another, supposedly "negotiating" over a ceasefire. The US proposes a ceasefire, and the Russians continue to sabotage the "negotiations" because they really want to go on killing people, not have a ceasefire.
    • On Saturday they agreed to a farcical ceasefire resolution that the Russians had watered down enough to be meaningless. It called for a 30-day ceasefire, to start at some time in the future, but the Russians and Syrian government would still be allowed airstrikes on jihadists and terrorists in east Ghouta, which means everyone, since Bashar al-Assad considers all of them to be jihadists and terrorists.
    • On Sunday, since the Russians want to prove that they're in charge, and they now control things in the Mideast, the Russians simply blew off the 30-day ceasefire resolution that they had agreed to. Instead, they announced that there would be a 5-hour ceasefire on Monday, from 9 am to 2 pm.
    • There was no ceasefire on Monday. The bombing and airstrikes and use of chlorine gas continued as before.
    • There was supposed to be a "humanitarian corridor" which a convoy could use to deliver food and medicines, and perform medical evacuations. But the fighting continued and the corridor was not safe enough for the humanitarian convoy.
    • It was supposed to be possible for civilians to flee East Ghouta during the 5-hour ceasefire, and reach safety. However, apparently no one left because no one trusted the Syrian government or the Russians to feel safe.

    With regard to the last point, I've heard several interviews with civilians in Ghouta about whether they were going to take advantage of the opportunity to leave Ghouta. They all said pretty much the same thing, that they don't feel safe trying to do so.

    This is not surprising, since they're all pretty much aware of what happened in late 2016 in Aleppo, and two of them actually mentioned that. Allowing civilians to leave is part of the Syrian-Russian strategy. Civilians were allowed to leave Aleppo, and travel to Idlib, where they were killed en masse by Syrian and Russian airstrikes.

    In fact, I've described this strategy several times before. It's called the "Grozny model," named after the capital city of Chechnya and the battle of Grozny. The Russians created a "safe zone" to allow civilians to escape the Grozny siege, and then killed them as they were escaping.

    So in the end, this "ceasefire" in east Ghouta is not a ceasefire at all, and was never intended by the Russians to be a ceasefire. Instead, it provides political cover for an intensification of the war crimes against civilians. There are 400,000 people living in Ghouta, mostly women and children. There are at most 1,000 fighters who might be called "jihadists and terrorists." Russia and Syria are going to use the 1,000 fighters as a reason to kill as many of the 400,000 civilians as they can.

    An analogy in America would be if an American city contained some people from the Black Panthers or Black Lives Matter, then it would be OK, using the Syrian-Russian strategy, for the army and air force to exterminate hundreds of thousands of people in the black neighborhoods in that city, or maybe to permit some of them to escape, and then slaughter them as they leave.

    In my lifetime, I've heard the words "Never again!" applied to the Nazi Holocaust. And I've heard the words "Never again!" applied to the Srebrenica genocide. And I've heard the words "Never again!" applied to the Rwanda genocide. But now it's happening again, just like it's happened before, but instead of stopping the genocide, the United States has become a tool to support the genocide, by having diplomats run around the Security Council and pass farcical ceasefire resolutions that provide cover for the genocide. It's truly astonishing. Sky News and NBC News and Reuters

    Report: North Korea is selling chemical weapons supplies to Syria

    According to an unreleased United Nations report, Syria's president Bashar al-Assad is receiving supplies from North Korea for supplies to be used to manufacture chemical weapons. These supplies include acid-resistant tiles, valves and thermometers.

    We can assume that North Korea is selling this technology to Syria to make money and get around UN sanctions. We can also assume that either Iran or Russia is providing the money to Bashar al-Assad. Who knows? Maybe it's some of the money that Iran has gained from the removal of sanctions after signing the nuclear deal.

    At any rate, we can be pretty certain that if the North Korea is able to complete its development of nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles, then it will sell that technology to any rogue state willing to pay for it. CNN and Axios

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    Areas of control in Syria and Iraq


    Map of Syria and Iraq showing areas of control (Deutsche Welle)
    Map of Syria and Iraq showing areas of control (Deutsche Welle)

    I wanted to reference this map because it's one of the best that I've seen, and easiest to understand what's going on.

    There are several things that one can see from the map:

    • Eastern Ghouta is a small area near Damascus, and it's going to take months of massive slaughter to bring it under control. There are other larger regions under opposition control.
    • Idlib province, with 2.6 million civilians, could take many years to bring "under control," and will require one of the greatest genocides in world history.
    • There are still substantial regions controlled by the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) in both Syria and Iraq. Right now, it's the American backed Kurdish militias that are fighting ISIS, and without them, ISIS could rise again and regain its lost territory.
    • Kurds are in control the entire region of Iraq and Syria along the border with Turkey, except for one tiny region near Afrin that's controlled by the Turkey-supported Free Syrian Army (FSA). The Kurds would like to make this entire region into an independent Kurdish state called Rojava. This would be an existential threat to Turkey, since a Kurdish-based terror group, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has been conducting an insurgency in Turkey for three decades, including a number of violent terrorist attacks. This is why Turkey is determined not to give up this little region controlled by the FSA.

    As I've described before, there at least 14 armies and militias operating in Syria now: Syria, Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, Turkey, Free Syrian Army (FSA), Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), People’s Protection Units (YPG), Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Israel, United States, al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), and the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

    This is a country in complete chaos, with a war criminal and sociopathic genocidal leader, Bashar al-Assad, and with a proxy war that's nowhere near ending.

    As I've written many times, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, Jews versus Arabs, and various ethnic groups against each other. Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, the "axis" of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the "allies," the US, India, Russia and Iran. Deutsche Welle

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    27-Feb-18 World View -- Saudi Arabia sacks its top tier of military commanders as Yemen war drags on

    From missile strikes and bombings to cholera, war-torn Yemen deteriorates

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • From missile strikes and bombings to cholera, war-torn Yemen deteriorates
    • Saudi Arabia sacks its top tier of military commanders

    From missile strikes and bombings to cholera, war-torn Yemen deteriorates


    Saudi Arabia's 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (AFP)
    Saudi Arabia's 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (AFP)

    Saudi Arabia officials say that the war in Yemen is proceeding successfully. But few people believe that. When the war began in March 2015, the Saudis thought that they'd win quickly. The Iran-backed Houthis, which represent about 15% of Yemen's population, with a stronghold in northwest Yemen, had invaded and taken control of Yemen's capital city Sanaa in late 2014, and drove out the Saudi-supported ethnic Sunni government.

    So the Saudis formed a coalition with United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt, and began airstrikes in March 2015, believing that this would force the Houthis to the negotiating table, where they'd sue for peace.

    It hasn't worked out that way, as the Houthis proved extremely resilient and even gained additional territory.

    What the airstrikes HAVE accomplished is to turn Yemen into a humanitarian disaster. Yemen relies heavily on food imports and is on the brink of famine. In order to prevent import of Iranian weapons to the Houthis, the Saudis have blockaded the ports, but this has also made it impossible to import food, medicines and other humanitarian aid. Yemen was already one of the poorest countries in the world, but the blockade made things much worse. The result is that, of Yemen's 25 million population, more than 22 million are desperately need of food and humanitarian assistance, including 11.3 million in acute need.

    The country is also facing a cholera epidemic, which has already killed thousands of people. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of cholera infections had been in decline in Yemen over the past 20 weeks after it hit the 1 million mark of suspected cases. But now that's going to change again, because Yemen is entering a new phase of rainy seasons. The country had also had an outbreak of diphtheria, a disease that usually affects children, and can be prevented with vaccines.

    In addition to famine and disease, Yemen is also targeted by a resilient so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). On Saturday, two car bomb explosions killed at least six people and wounded 43 others in the southern port city of Aden, which is the stronghold of what's left of the Sunni government. ISIS claimed credit for the bombings.

    On the other hand, a high-level Saudi researcher says:

    "I find the English proverb “slow and steady” the best way to describe the decisive course the war in Yemen is taking, with the crisis coming to an end along with the restoration of hope.

    A continuous collapse of the Iran-backed Houthi militia is obvious from the outcome of battles, with the advance of the national armies supported by the coalition forces that uphold legitimacy."

    That would have to be considered the optimistic Saudi view of the war, but this is not widely believed. Reuters and Bloomberg and Al Arabiya (Riyadh)

    Saudi Arabia sacks its top tier of military commanders

    In a series of late-night royal decrees, Saudi Arabia's King Salman sacked the country's top military commanders and the headers of the ground forces and air defenses.

    It's believed that the firings are the work of the 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as "MBS", who is also the defense minister, and who has forced rapid change in the kingdom, including the arrests of dozens of high level government officials on charges of corruption.

    MBS is also believed to have been the instigator of the Yemen war. The fact that the war did not end in a quick victory, but instead appears to be an unending disaster, is being blamed on MBS himself.

    Saudi Arabia announced the military firings without providing any reasons. However, it's believed that the firings are related to the lack of success in the Yemen war.

    Reportedly, these firing represent a generational change in the leadership of the military, and that the older leaders were fired and are being replaced by other military figures who are younger and who are thought to be loyal to MBS. Saudi Press Agency and BBC and Reuters and Bloomberg

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    26-Feb-18 World View -- New book documents extensive Chinese infiltration into Australia's organizations

    New Zealand investigates attacks on author of report on China's infiltration into New Zealand

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • New book documenting China's infiltration into Australia overcomes Chinese threats
    • New Zealand investigates attacks on author of report on China's infiltration into New Zealand
    • Hamilton's book 'Silent Invasion' describes China's infiltration into Australia

    New book documenting China's infiltration into Australia overcomes Chinese threats


    China's foreign minister Wang Yi and Australia's foreign minister Julie Bishop, on 7-Feb-2017
    China's foreign minister Wang Yi and Australia's foreign minister Julie Bishop, on 7-Feb-2017

    A new book detailing China's infiltration into Australia's government and institutions is finally being published on Monday, after publication was repeatedly blocked because of intense pressure by China's government on publishers.

    The book, titled "Silent Invasion: How China Is Turning Australia into a Puppet State," was written by Clive Hamilton, a left of center professor of public ethics at Charles Sturt University. It was supposed to be published in November by Australian publisher Allen & Unwin, which had published 8 previous books by Hamilton.

    However, the publisher's chief executive, Robert Gorman, cancelled plans at the last minute to publish to book. He wrote an e-mail message to Hamilton saying:

    "We have no doubt that Silent Invasion is an extremely significant book. [But we are concerned about] potential threats to the book and the company from possible action by Beijing. ... The most serious of these threats was the very high chance of a vexatious defamation action against Allen & Unwin, and possibly against you personally as well."

    The publisher had told Hamilton that he would have to heavily edit the book and remove large portions of the text to get it published. According to Hamilton:

    "Last week Allen & Unwin did express some legal concerns but despite that I thought they were resolved to publish it, so it was a complete shock.

    The Chinese government’s campaign is far more extensive than ever previously understood. If you’re going to analyze how Beijing is influencing Australian society and politics you have to analyze that activity of individuals and name names, and that’s what I’ve done. It’s a factual book with 1,100 footnotes and it has been meticulously researched, but short of redacting 100 names from the book there’s always the possibility someone might launch a vexatious legal act against the publisher, in this case Allen & Unwin."

    In January of this year another publisher, Melbourne University Press became the second leading publisher to cancel plans to publish the book. Reportedly, a university official was concerned about Beijing’s ability to dissuade students from attending the university if MUP published the book.

    In one of the online articles about this story, a commenter wrote that he could walk into any bookstore or library in Australia and find a dozen books that accused the CIA of controlling Australia's government and institutions, and no one would care. However, just one book about China is causing a furious, threatening response from China.

    There are very real concerns about publishing material not approved by the Chinese Communist Party. Within China itself, every publication is closely censored, and writing or even reading any unapproved publication can land a person in jail subject to severe and repeated torture.

    China's censorial reach extends past the mainland. In 2015, five Hong Kong booksellers whose shops contain books critical of Xi and the CCP were abducted and thrown into jail in Beijing. Four were eventually released – three "confessed" and have remained mute, while one spoke of his torture. The fifth is still imprisoned.

    Foreign citizens are not immune. In January, Swedish citizen Gui Minhai, a Hong Kong book publisher, was arrested in China while accompanied by Swedish diplomats. Sweden's foreign minister Margot Wallstrom said the "brutal intervention" against Swedish consular support for Gui took place despite Chinese promises. But this is an ordinary example of how the Chinese cannot be trusted about anything. Guardian (London, 13-Nov-2017) and West Australia Today (28-Nov-2017) and South China Morning Post (6-Feb) and New Matilda (7-Feb)

    New Zealand investigates attacks on author of report on China's infiltration into New Zealand

    Two weeks ago I wrote about how University of Canterbury professor Anne-Marie Brady in New Zealand had been threatened and robbed after writing a report on China's infiltration into New Zealand's government.

    Brady's home was broken into and three laptops, two cellphones and an encrypted memory stick were taken. She received a threatening letter, two months after her university office was robbed.

    Brady's report and complaints about threats had been met with skepticism by the government, but finally prime minister Jacinda Ardern has ordered an investigation into the break-in.

    In that article, I quoted extensively from Brady's report, entitled "Magic Weapons: China's political influence activities under Xi Jinping" to show in detail how the infiltration and propaganda works in New Zealand. Much of what I quoted applies equally to Australia.

    As Brady's report explains, China's president Xi Jinping once used the term "magic weapon" to refer to China's United Front Work Department. Officially it focuses on building support for the Communist Party in China, but it's become a coercive propaganda tool targeting Chinese globally, especially in Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., and Canada, but in other countries as well. The agency particularly surveils and targets Chinese students abroad and foreign universities to adopt language that favors pro-Beijing policies, such as delegitimizing Taiwan, and Western ideals and values, such as liberal democracy, Christianity, or Falun Gong.

    The United Front Work Department, Xi Jinping's "Magic Weapon," is as dangerous to Australia as it is to New Zealand. Stuff (New Zealand)

    Hamilton's book 'Silent Invasion' describes China's infiltration into Australia

    By early February, the inability of Clive Hamilton to get his book published because of legal threats from China was causing some alarm to members of the Australian parliament's national security committee, and they actually considered having the parliament serve as publisher of the manuscript. That would have protected Hamilton from being sued, but questions were also raised about the appropriateness of giving a special privilege to a particular author.

    Finally, the book was recently acquired by Hardie Grant, run by Sandy Grant, who in the 1980s published the controversial memoir of former British intelligence officer Peter Wright. The publication occurred against the wishes of the British government, which was trying to censor the book.

    Clive Hamilton says that he became interested in this subject in 2008. He was at Parliament House in Canberra when the Beijing Olympic torch relay passed through. He watched in bewilderment as a small pro-Tibet protest was overrun by thousands of angry Chinese students. They came out of nowhere and seemed to shut down the pro-Tibet protests, and the authorities did nothing about it. What was going on?

    In 2016 it was revealed that wealthy Chinese businessmen linked to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had become the largest donors to both major political parties. Hamilton realized something big was happening, and decided to investigate the Chinese government's influence in Australia. His research revealed evidence of CCP influence and infiltration in politics, culture, real estate, agriculture, universities, unions, and even primary schools.

    According to the book, China's influence peddling is caused, in part, by a recent wave of Chinese migration to Australia including "billionaires with shady histories and tight links to the [Chinese Communist] party, media owners creating Beijing mouthpieces, 'patriotic' students brainwashed from birth, and professionals marshalled into pro-Beijing associations set up by the Chinese embassy."

    The book lists more than 40 former and sitting Australian politicians allegedly doing the work of China's totalitarian Government, if sometimes unwittingly. Many are household names. According to the book, "[Former prime ministers Bob] Hawke and [Paul] Keating, when their political careers ended they went on to become reliable friends of China, shuttling between the two countries, mixing with the top cadres and tycoons. While Hawke's China links proved lucrative, Keating was more interested in influence." Sydney Morning Herald (5-Feb) and Boffins Books and Australian Broadcasting

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Feb-18 World View -- New book documents extensive Chinese infiltration into Australia's organizations thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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    25-Feb-18 World View -- China angrily demands that the US retract the new North Korea sanctions

    As North Korea's 'charm offensive' fades, decision time for military action approaches

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • As North Korea's 'charm offensive' fades, decision time for military action approaches
    • New Trump administration sanctions target companies trading with North Korea
    • China angrily demands that the US retract the new North Korea sanctions

    As North Korea's 'charm offensive' fades, decision time for military action approaches


    Picture of North Korean vessel conducting ship-to-ship transfer of goods with the Panama-flagged KOTI in order to evade sanctions (Dept. of Treasury)
    Picture of North Korean vessel conducting ship-to-ship transfer of goods with the Panama-flagged KOTI in order to evade sanctions (Dept. of Treasury)

    There's a growing feeling that the "crunch time" with North Korea is close. Already, as we reported two days ago, the North is sending its most notorious military general to lead the North Korean delegation in the Winter Olympics in Seoul on Sunday. Kim Yong-chol is the North Korean general who masterminded the devastating attacks on South Korean targets in 2010, and the North is insulting the South by sending him to the closing ceremony, and is signaling that its "charm offensive" has ended.

    Because of the North's charm offensive, South Korea and the US agreed to postponed their planned joint military drills until March 18, when the Olympics and Paralympics games finally end. It's believed that South Korea and the US have agreed on a date around April 1 to restart them, and that will infuriate the North Koreans.

    As we've also reported, North Korea has resumed development of nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles, even as the "charm offensive" was in progress.

    We've known for a long time that at some point, the US is going to face a stark choice: Either accept a nuclear North Korea with an arsenal of nuclear-tipped missiles pointed at the United States, and accept that this nuclear missile technology will be sold to any nation or terrorist group willing to pay cash, or take military action, a "bloody nose attack" on North Korea that will disable their nuclear missile development, at least for a while.

    We've known this for some time, and now we've almost completely run out of time. One choice or the other will have to be made soon. And obviously there's only one choice. Numerous administration officials have made it clear that North Korea will not be permitted to have a nuclear weapon and ballistic missile system that can reach the United States. Newsweek and Fox News

    New Trump administration sanctions target companies trading with North Korea

    The Trump administration's announcement on Friday of new sanctions has the feel of desperation, and last desperate attempt to avoid having to make the stark choice just described. Furthermore, president Donald Trump warned of an unnamed "phase two," presumably a military action, that could be "very, very unfortunate for the world" if the sanctions did not work.

    The new sanctions don't directly target North Korea. Instead, they target shipping, trading companies and vessels that from other countries that have been used to allow the North Koreans to cheat on the existing sanctions.

    A particular practice that the sanctions target is ship-to-ship transfers. A ship carrying goods that are bound for North Korea does not actually dock in North Korea. Instead, the ship has a rendezvous with a North Korean ship in the middle of the sea, and the goods are transferred from the first ship to the North Korean ship. At the same time, goods from the North Korean can be transferred to the other ship for illegal export.

    At a briefing, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin stood next to enlarged photos from December 2017 that he said revealed ship-to-ship transfers of fuel and other products destined for North Korea in an attempt to evade sanctions. The picture at the beginning of this article depicts such a December 9 rendezvous between a North Korean vessel and the Panama-flagged KOTI, for an illegal ship-to-ship transfer.

    The sanctions are aimed at ships located, registered or flagged in numerous countries, including China, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Marshall Islands, Tanzania, Panama and the Comoros.

    Examples of international shipping companies that are sanctioned include the following:

    • Shandong, China-based Weihai World-Shipping Freight and Shanghai, China-based Shanghai Dongfeng Shipping Co Ltd;
    • Hong Kong-based shipping companies Liberty Shipping Co Ltd, Chang An Shipping & Technology, Hongxiang Marine Hong Kong Ltd, Shen Zhong International Shipping Ltd, and Huaxin Shipping HongKong Ltd;
    • Singapore-based Yuk Tung Energy Private Limited;
    • Panama-based M.T. Koti Corporation.

    Mnuchin said he could not rule out the prospect of the United States boarding and inspecting North Korean ships.

    The announcement stops short of a full blockade of North Korea, as that could be considered an act of war. Reuters and Dept. of Treasury

    China angrily demands that the US retract the new North Korea sanctions

    China angrily denounced the latest American sanctions on North Korea. It was China's latest in a series of denunciations of any sanctions against North Korea not imposed within the framework of the United Nations. As I explained recently, Russia and China have adopted a policy of using the UN Security Council to control US foreign policy by demanding that any action be approved by the UNSC where they have a veto. However, Russia and China feel free to take any illegal action they wish without asking for UNSC approval. So this is another example of that policy.

    China's Foreign Ministry issued this statement on Saturday:

    "The Chinese government has been comprehensively and strictly implementing the Security Council resolutions on the DPRK and fulfilling its international obligations, and never allows any Chinese citizen or company to engage in activities in violation of the Security Council resolutions. If any breach of the Security Council resolutions and Chinese laws and regulations is found out through investigation, the Chinese side will seriously deal with it in accordance with laws and regulations.

    The Chinese side firmly opposes the US imposing unilateral sanctions and "long-arm jurisdiction" on Chinese entities or individuals in accordance with its domestic laws. We have lodged stern representations with the US side over this, urging it to immediately stop such wrongdoings so as not to undermine bilateral cooperation on the relevant area."

    Reports indicate that South Korea, Singapore, Japan and other Asian countries are endorsing the US-imposed sanctions, and are willing to cooperate in enforcing them. China evidently is not.

    Mnuchin said he could not rule out the prospect of the United States boarding and inspecting North Korean ships, but this presumably does not apply to China's ships. However, there are Chinese companies targeted in the sanctions, and they will be prohibited from financial transactions in US banks and elsewhere. This is one more potential flash point and the growing North Korea crisis, which may be close to the day of its dénouement. Foreign Ministry of China and VOA and Reuters

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Feb-18 World View -- China angrily demands that the US retract the new North Korea sanctions thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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    24-Feb-18 World View -- US embassy to Jerusalem will commemorate Israel's founding -- Palestinian 'Naqba Day'

    Already furious Palestinians condemn embassy move on 'Naqba Day' -- 'Catastrophe Day'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • US will move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem on May 14
    • State Dept. considers accepting private donations to pay for the embassy
    • Already furious Palestinians condemn embassy move on 'Naqba Day' -- 'Catastrophe Day'

    US will move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem on May 14


    US Consulate General in Jerusalem, to be used as interim embassy after May 14 (YNet)
    US Consulate General in Jerusalem, to be used as interim embassy after May 14 (YNet)

    The US State Dept. announced on Friday that the US will move its official embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv on May 14, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the founding of Israel. The move had not been expected until the end of 2019, so this announcement caught many Israelis and Palestinians by surprise.

    Plans for a new US embassy building in Jerusalem are still a long way off, so the May 14 move will be little more than symbolic. the U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, along with a small staff, will move on May 14 into an office building in Jerusalem housing the current Consulate General in Jerusalem, making that building the new interim embassy. The current embassy building in Tel Aviv will be renamed the US Consulate, and will continue to house the bulk of the U.S. diplomatic staff in Israel.

    At the same time, a search will begin for the site of a new US embassy building in Jerusalem. This search will be fraught with problems, according to the opinion of an Israeli analyst forwarded to me by a reader. The problems include the following:

    • Jerusalem is a congested city with narrow streets, criss-crossed by pedestrian paths and bike paths.
    • A new embassy will be a monstrosity stretching out in several rings of security, baffling traffic, forbidding parking, and inviting one contentious demonstration after another. NIMBY (Not in my back yard) will kick in early.
    • Site selection will require approval of local, regional and national planning authorities, and will be targeted by numerous lawsuits.
    • Digging in Jerusalem will almost certainly reveal valuable archeological artifacts and buildings from centuries past, requiring long delays for archeological analysis.
    • Given the huge building costs and the equally huge political compromises that will be required, the chances for corruption are enormous.
    • A change in government could derail the whole project.

    YNet and Reuters and Newsweek

    State Dept. considers accepting private donations to pay for the embassy

    A big problem facing a new embassy building in Jerusalem is the cost, expected to be into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

    The State Department attorneys are looking into the legality of accepting private donations to help pay for the construction of the new embassy. The question is being discussed because Sheldon Adelson, a pro-Israeli billionaire who has contributed tens of millions of dollars to the Republican Party, has offered to pay for some or all of the embassy costs.

    Whether it's legal to allow one private individual to pay for the building costs of an official government building is currently being discussed, as it would be a significant departure from historical practice. In one possible scenario, the administration would solicit contributions not only from Adelson but potentially from other donors in the evangelical Christian and American Jewish communities, too.

    Allowing Adelson to contribute would also raise national and international political issues in a situation where just the decision to move the embassy has already proved highly controversial. It could also raise new, unexpected issues. For example, would Adelson's name be on the building? AP and VOX

    Already furious Palestinians condemn embassy move on 'Naqba Day' -- 'Catastrophe Day'

    Donald Trump's December announcement that the embassy would move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, seeming to preclude having East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, has infuriated Palestinian leaders, who said that the announcement proves that the US under Donald Trump is not an honest mediator, but is clearly biased in Israel's favor.

    Saeb Erekat, the former Palestinian chief peace negotiator said last month:

    "Jerusalem is not off the negotiations table, rather the U.S. is outside the international consensus.

    Those who say that Jerusalem is off the table are saying that peace is off the table. The holy city is in the hearts of each and every Palestinian, Arab, Christian and Muslim, and there will be no peace without East Jerusalem being the sovereign capital of the State of Palestine.

    Trump could buy many things with his money, but he won’t be able to buy the dignity of our nation."

    With Friday's announcement moving up the date to May 14, an advisor to Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas said:

    "We know the Americans are coordinating every step with (Israeli President Benjamin) Netanyahu, but they do not do the same with President Abbas. In the end this is not good for peace, and no good for themselves, their own standing.

    What we want is a clear statement that will allow the Palestinians to have a state of their own, independent, within the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital."

    What is particularly infuriating to Palestinians is that May 14 is "Naqba Day" -- the "Day of Catastrophe" -- the day that the Palestinians commemorate every year for the founding of Israel.

    Saeb Erekat said that the move is a violation of international law:

    "The American administration's decisions to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and choose the Palestinian people's Naqba as the date for this step is a blatant violation of international law. [The result will be] the destruction of the two-state option, as well as a blatant provocation to all Arabs and Muslims."

    May 14, the Day of Catastrophe (Naqba) is an extremely bitter day among Palestinians, not only because it was the day of Israel's independence, but because the "catastrophe" refers to the Arabs' catastrophic loss to the Jews in the Arab-Israeli War of 1948, a loss that many Arabs blame on themselves.

    According to Palestinian narratives, between 1947-49, Israelis ethnically cleansed and destroyed about 530 Palestinian villages and cities, and killed about 15,000 Palestinians in a series of mass atrocities, leaving 750,000 Palestinians from a 1.9 million population without a home.

    Israelis respond that the clashes were launched by Arab Liberation Army volunteers who attacked Jewish cities, settlements and armed forces, followed by an invasion by Arab armies from Lebanon, Transjordan, Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

    However much Arabs are angry at Israelis for winning the war, many Arabs are even more angry at Arab leaders of the time for losing the war. Arab armies that attacked Israel expected an easy victory within a day or two over a tiny, fledgling country that was not perceived as a serious threat. They vastly underestimated the abilities of the Jewish militias in Palestine, who were well-prepared and well-organized and had many experienced fighters who had served in units of the British Army during World War II.

    But the strongest Arab condemnations of all are that the Arab armies fought among themselves almost as much as they fought against the Jews. While Arab leaders claimed to be fighting for Palestine, they were actually fighting each other in a war of individual interests and conflicting goals. The rivalries between the Arab militias and armies contrasted with the much more unified Israeli militias and armies.

    From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the most important factor to understand is that the 1948 war was a generational crisis war for the Jews, but was an Awakening era war for the Arabs. World War II was not a crisis war for the Arabs. In the Crisis era mood, the Jews were extremely unified and nationalistic.

    But the Arabs' previous generational crisis war was World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Just as the United States fought the Vietnam War half-heartedly during its Awakening era in the 1960s, the Arabs fought the 1948 Arab-Israeli war half-heartedly in its Awakening era. This generational timeline difference in public mood appears to have been the major factor in the Israelis' victory over the Arabs. Haaretz (25-Jan) and USA Today and Al-Jazeera and AFP and Al-Jazeera (13-Jul-2009)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, quest