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26-Jul-17 World View -- China escalates its military threats over its border dispute with India at Doklam Plateau

India says that it will remain 'firm and resolute' but 'reasonable'

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China escalates its military threats over its border dispute with India at Doklam Plateau


A military post on China - India border (India Today)
A military post on China - India border (India Today)

The border dispute involving China, India and Bhutan over the Doklam Plateau is becoming increasingly dangerous. China is saying that it's running out of patience, and China's state-run media is escalating the military threats to India over the Doklam issue, to the point of threatening war.

We've been reporting a standoff between India's army and China's army on Doklam plateau in the tiny country of Bhutan. China is attempting to annex the region, and on June 16 sent Chinese troops and construction workers to begin road construction. Bhutan troops tried to prevent the Chinese troop incursion, but they were overrun. India sent in its own troops, saying that it did so when Bhutan invoked a treaty with India and asked for help. The result is a standoff, though no bullets have been fired yet.

An editorial in China's state-run Global Times began:

"The public's patience is running short with India's Doklam transgression. Nothing can stand in the way of China's and Chinese people's dignity. No government in the world can stand still doing nothing while its borders are being violated."

Right away we run into a problem, because China is violating borders and international law in the South China Sea, creating illegal artificial islands and turning them into huge military bases, and constantly lying about what they're doing. China was proven to be an international criminal by the 2016 ruling of the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague. That ruling completely eviscerated China's so-called 'Nine-Dash Line' claims to the South China Sea.

Because China has repeatedly lied about the South China Sea, it's impossible to believe anything they say about anything else. ("Falsus in unum, falsus in omnibus.")

Still, the above statement is extremely dangerous because it refers to "the public's patience," invoking nationalism and xenophobia by the Chinese people, and seeking to incite it. The editorial continues:

"As India continues down this intransigent path, perhaps it is time that it be taught a second lesson. Their troops in Doklam could either withdraw voluntarily, be captured or may be killed when border disputes escalate, [according to] Liu Youfa, China's former consul general in Mumbai."

This is pretty much a direct threat of war.

The phrase "second lesson" alludes to the 1962 Sino-Indian war, a brief but bloody war between the two countries over the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh in the eastern Himalayas. China is viewed as having won that war.

India's defense minister Arun Jaitley was recently asked about the 1962 war, and he responded: "If they are trying to remind us, the situation in 1962 was different and India of 2017 is different."

The editorial also threatens a Chinese invasion of India-controlled Kashmir:

"No matter what vassalage relationship India maintains with Bhutan, it baffles this author that India has the courage to transgress another country on its behalf. And in this case, Indian troops even entered into Doklam from the China-Sikkim border. Well, if this kind of logic holds, a third country can certainly enter into Kashmir, including India-controlled Kashmir, upon Pakistan's invitation. (This is not a far-fetched idea.)"

On Tuesday, China's Foreign Ministry issued a statement:

"On July 24, 2017 local time, when giving an interview to the press in Bangkok on China-India standoff incident, Foreign Minister Wang Yi noted that it is very clear who is right and who is wrong regarding this issue, and that even Indian senior officials have publicly said that Chinese troops have not intruded into Indian territory, which means that India admitted that it has entered into Chinese territory. The solution to this issue is simple, which is that the Indian troops back out honestly."

This statement is weasel-worded, in that Doklam Plateau is Bhutan's territory, not India's territory. If China is so sure of its claim, perhaps it should ask the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) to decide the matter.

So China is demanding that India withdraw its troops, and permit the Chinese army to annex Bhutan's Doklam Plateau unopposed. China says that it is running out of patience, and threatens to invade before long. Global Times (Beijing) and China's Foreign Ministry

India says that it will remain 'firm and resolute' but 'reasonable'

India is responding to China's threats by saying that it will remain "firm and resolute" militarily, according to Indian media, and will thwart any attempt by China to “bully” Bhutan, while being “reasonable” at the politico-diplomatic level to resolve the ongoing troop stand-off with the People’s Liberation Army in the Doklam area in Bhutanese territory.

According to India's Army vice-chief Lt-General Sarath Chand on Tuesday"

"On the North, we have China which has a large landmass, huge resources and a large standing Army ... Despite having the Himalayas between us, China is bound to be a threat for us in years ahead."

Indian media says that it is reinforcing its military in the region:

"Much like the Line of Control with Pakistan, Indian soldiers are prepared for the long haul near the tri-junction with China as well. Apart from the already present 63 and 112 Brigades (over 3,000 troops each) in east and north-east Sikkim, the Army has moved up another 2,500 soldiers from the 164 Brigade to Zuluk and Nathang Valley in the state to further reinforce its military stance, as was first reported by TOIon July 11."

Both China and India are hardening their positions, both with words and with military reinforcements. The Chinese media are making it clear that if India does not withdraw soon, then China will invade. China believes that it will easily win, and India believes that "this time it's different." The situation is extremely dangerous, and could lead to war very quickly, either intentionally or through miscalculation. Times of India

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Jul-17 World View -- China escalates its military threats over its border dispute with India at Doklam Plateau thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Jul-2017) Permanent Link
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25-Jul-17 World View -- Massive Kabul bombing on Monday leaves US Afghan policy in tatters

Massive car bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan, targets Hazaras, kills 36

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Massive car bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan, targets Hazaras, kills 36


Men look at the remains of their properties at the site of the car bombing Monday in Kabul (AP)
Men look at the remains of their properties at the site of the car bombing Monday in Kabul (AP)

A massive early morning car bombing in Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan, killed at least 36, wounded dozens more, and damaged 15 shops.

The blast occurred in a part of the city where the ethnic Hazara community live, near the house of the deputy government Chief Executive Mohammad Mohaqiq, also a Hazara. The Hazaras are Shia Muslims, and have often been targeted by Taliban groups in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The same area has been the scene of several attacks, including the suicide attack that killed prominent Shia Muslim cleric Ramazan Hussainzada on June 15. Hussainzada was also a senior leader of Afghanistan’s Hazara community.

Monday's massive attack occurred exactly one year after another massive Taliban attack on Hazaras in Kabul. At least 80 people were killed in what was considered the worst terror attack in Kabul since 2001.

The attack on Hazaras last year on July 24 energized the "Hazara Enlightenment Movement," an activist movement demanding an end to discrimination against Hazaras by the Pashtun government. There was a big march planned for Monday to commemorate last year's attack, but Afghan president Ashraf Ghani convinced the movement leaders to cancel the march, for reasons related to security. The march was cancelled, and then several hours later Monday's massive car explosion took place.

In the future, we can expect to hear more from the Hazara Enlightenment Movement. Tolo News (Kabul) and Reuters and Khaama Press (Kabul)

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Brief recent generational history of Afghanistan

There is a fantasy at large among politicians, generals, journalists and analysts in various nations around the world that the Taliban in Afghanistan can be convinced to enter peace negotiations, or that they can be defeated on the battlefield, or that they'll get tired of fighting. This is the sort of fatuous nonsense that politicians and generals tend to claim, when they're fighting the last war.

Afghanistan's last generational crisis war was the extremely bloody civil war fought between 1991 and 1996, filled with enormous atrocities, massacres, rapes, torture, and so forth. The war was fought mainly between the Pashtuns in southern Afghanistan versus the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan.

The Pashtuns won that war. Radicalized Pashtuns called themselves the Taliban, and ruled Afghanistan brutally and viciously after the war. They also permitted their good pal Osama bin Laden to use Afghanistan as a home base from which to launch international terror attacks. After 9/11/2001, the US-based coalition invaded Afghanistan and backed the Northern Alliance in quickly defeating the Taliban. Thus, the Pashtun victory in the civil war was snatched away and turned into defeat for the Pashtuns and victory for the Northern Alliance.

The reason that the Taliban lost the 2001 war so quickly was that everyone was traumatized and war-weary from the civil war in the previous decade, and had little will to fight another war. That's what always happens to the generations that survive a generational crisis war. They're traumatized by the atrocities the other side committed, but they're even more traumatized by the atrocities that they and others on their own side committed.

Today, 16 years later, a new, younger generation is coming of age, with no personal memory of the 1990s civil war. These young Pashtuns have not been told of the atrocities that their parents committed. They've only been told of the atrocities that the other side committed -- the Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks in the Northern Alliance. They want revenge for those atrocities, so they do things like set off car bombs in crowds of Hazaras in Kabul.

So those who are looking for a way to bring peace to Afghanistan are dreaming. There is no solution to this problem. And when I say "no solution," I don't mean that the politicians and generals simply haven't been clever enough to figure out the solution. What I mean is that no solution exists. Taliban is strongest today as it has been since 2001, and will continue to get stronger, as young post-war generations continue to grow and come of age.

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Kabul bombing puts America's Afghanistan policy into further confusion

Monday's bombing makes clear that America, the World's Policeman, has a stark choice in Afghanistan: walk away and let the Taliban take over completely, or try a military solution with more American troops.

President Barack Obama, who never had a clue what was going on in the world, decided to go for a 30,000 troop surge. In December 2009, Obama gave a West Point speech where he announced the surge:

"As cadets, you volunteered for service during this time of danger. Some of you fought in Afghanistan. Some of you will deploy there. As your Commander-in-Chief, I owe you a mission that is clearly defined, and worthy of your service. And that's why, after the Afghan voting was completed, I insisted on a thorough review of our strategy. Now, let me be clear: There has never been an option before me that called for troop deployments before 2010, so there has been no delay or denial of resources necessary for the conduct of the war during this review period. Instead, the review has allowed me to ask the hard questions, and to explore all the different options, along with my national security team, our military and civilian leadership in Afghanistan, and our key partners. And given the stakes involved, I owed the American people -- and our troops -- no less.

This review is now complete. And as Commander-in-Chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home. These are the resources that we need to seize the initiative, while building the Afghan capacity that can allow for a responsible transition of our forces out of Afghanistan."

Obama was heavily criticized for announcing an 18-month end date, which he had to extend several times. Obama announced the Afghan troop surge in the hope of duplicating the success of President Bush's troop surge in Iraq in 2007. I wrote a detailed comparison of the Afghanistan versus Iraq wars in mid-2009 in "American army general warns of imminent defeat in Afghanistan war,", showing that the Iraq "surge" strategy could not work in Afghanistan. This comparison was based on a Generational Dynamics analysis, and it turned out to be completely correct. In the end, the troop surge accomplished nothing. In interviews last year, all three of Obama's former secretaries of defense confirmed that the Obama administration ignored military advice, and made military decisions based on inexperience and ideology.

Now President Donald Trump is faced with the same decision. One difference is that his close adviser, Steve Bannon, knows very well what is going on in the world. As I've described in the past, I've worked with Steve Bannon off and on for several years in the past, both on his movie "Generation Zero" and when I was cross-posting articles on the Breitbart National Security site. So I know that Steve Bannon is an expert on military history and world history, and he also has an expert understanding of Generational Dynamics and generational theory.

So Steve Bannon understands very well the generational analysis that concludes that there is no solution to the problem in Afghanistan, and has undoubtedly conveyed this conclusion to Trump. And this has thrown the administration's Afghan policy into confusion, with policy differences between those who are still fighting the last war and those who don't want to repeat Obama's mistakes.

What should a politician do when you have to solve a problem for which there's no solution in existence?

One interesting example to look at is Greece's financial crisis, when it became clear in 2009 that Greece had lied about its financials for years and was overwhelmingly and unsustainably in debt. The Greek crisis lurched from one last-minute fix to the next, with some sort of compromise often reached on Sunday night, before the Asian markets opened.

As I wrote many times, the Greek financial crisis had no solution. By that, I didn't mean the EU politicians and economists haven't been clever enough to figure out the solution. I meant there was no solution in existence. Indeed today, Greece is still overwhelmingly and unsustainably in debt.

So what happened? The EU politicians "kicked the can down the road." The European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund loaned enough money to Greece to make all their bond payments for a few months, and then the crisis would rise again. These compromises did nothing to resolve the problem -- in fact, they usually made the problem worse by increasing Greece's debt. But "kicking the can down the road" allowed them to ignore the problem for a few months. Interestingly enough, they're still kicking the can down the road, but they've done it so often that it doesn't make news any more.

So presumably what the Trump administration needs to do in Afghanistan is to find a way to "kick the can down the road." In fact, there are reports that the Trump administration is considering sending 20,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Those troops would be no more effective than the 30,000 troops that the Obama administration sent, but they would "kick the can down the road" for possibly as much as a year or two, or at least until some military disaster occurs in Afghanistan. Daily Caller and Washington Post and Politico

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Jul-17 World View -- Massive Kabul bombing on Monday leaves US Afghan policy in tatters thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Jul-2017) Permanent Link
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24-Jul-17 World View -- DR Congo's Joseph Kabila brings the art of power and corruption to new heights

Global Witness report finds most DRC mining revenue is wasted in corruption

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

DR Congo's Joseph Kabila brings the art of power and corruption to new heights


Joseph Kabila, billionaire president of Democratic Republic of Congo
Joseph Kabila, billionaire president of Democratic Republic of Congo

The norm in country after country in Africa is that country leaders refuse to step down when their mandates end. They demand money from Western nations for to end poverty or help with climate change or whatever, and then they put the money they receive into their own foreign bank accounts, or they use it to build mansions for themselves, or they use it buy weapons to kill their opposition. That's why, in 30-40 years of massive aid payments to African countries, most people are no better off than they were decades ago.

Joseph Kabila, the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), appears to have brought this combination of raw exercise of power and raw corruption to new heights. A new analysis by the Congo Research Group at New York University and the Pulitzer Center shows that by channeling public money to himself and his family, he's made the Kabila family into billionaires

Joseph Kabila, the president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 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) 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.

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. His mandate ran out on December 19 of last year, at which time he was supposed to step down. Instead, he pulled a breathtaking stunt late last year by doing everything possible to prevent new elections from taking place, and then claimed that he couldn't step down because there hadn't been any elections to select a president to replace him.

In December there was a threat of civil war in DRC, but the Catholic Church intervened and brokered an agreement: Elections would be held in December of 2017 to choose Kabila's successor, and this time Kabila would really step down. However, the agreement was a farce: It was signed by members of Kabila's government, but it wasn't even signed by Kabila himself. Since then, it's been pretty clear that Kabila has no intention of stepping down.

Poverty and Kabila's massive corruption are being blamed for the increase in violence in DRC, especially in the central province of Kasai, where than 3,000 people have been killed and 1.4 million displaced in escalating violence blamed on a government-sponsored militia. The UN has identified more than 80 mass graves and said it had found toddlers with limbs chopped off and pregnant women with their bellies sliced open, their unborn babies mutilated.

Unfortunately, this is the norm in many countries in Africa, and the reason why many international agencies and businesses are no longer willing to invest in Africa, as the money just goes to waste. Furthermore, many people are concerned that Kabila's refusal to step down is resulting in violence that is destabilizing the whole region. NY University and Guardian (London) and Bloomberg

Global Witness report finds most DRC mining revenue is wasted in corruption


Mining operation in DRC
Mining operation in DRC

A different report, this time by Global Witness, has found that more than $750 million in mining revenue that was supposed to go into DRC's national treasury has instead gone into the pockets of corrupt government officials. Canadian mining companies, such as Vancouver-based Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. and Toronto-based Banro Corp., have been some of the biggest foreign investors in DRC mines, and have given millions of dollars in payments to official agencies and state enterprises in the country. They are now learning that the money was siphoned off by politically connected insiders, with some of the funds distributed among corrupt networks linked to President Joseph Kabila’s regime.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is Africa's biggest producer of copper and the world's largest supplier of cobalt used in batteries for electric cars. It is also rich in gold, diamonds and coltan, used in mobile phones, but its people remain among the poorest in the world.

A key culprit in this diversion of funds is the main state-owned mining company, Gécamines, a close ally of President Joseph Kabila. It receives more than a hundred million dollars annually from private companies in Congo’s mining sector, but appears to pass on just a tiny percentage of that to the state coffers. Gécamines’ most important and lucrative business relationships are with major international mining companies, which often have Western investors and pensions tied up in their profits and risks.

The Global Witness report, "The Regime Cash Machine," blames a toxic combination of corruption and mismanagement in DRC's revenues agencies and state mining companies. Instead of going to the regime, the money should have gone to basic services such as schools, hospitals and roads. Global Witness and Globe and Mail (Canada) and Bloomberg

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Jul-17 World View -- DR Congo's Joseph Kabila brings the art of power and corruption to new heights thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Jul-2017) Permanent Link
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23-Jul-17 World View -- Kuwait expels Iran's diplomats as Saudi Arabia softens Qatar demands

Saudi-led coalition replaces its 13 demands with 6 principles

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Kuwait expels Iran's diplomats after 'Abdali terror cell' ruling


Iran's president Hassan Rouhani and Kuwait’s Emir Shaikh Jaber Al Ahmad Al Sabah at a meeting in February of this year
Iran's president Hassan Rouhani and Kuwait’s Emir Shaikh Jaber Al Ahmad Al Sabah at a meeting in February of this year

Kuwait on Thursday expelled 15 Iranian diplomats and ordered the closure of several Iranian embassy missions. It's unclear whether Iran's ambassador, Alireza Enayati, was included in the expulsions.

The expulsions will further complicate the growing Arab crisis, where Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt are enforcing a land, sea and air blockade of Qatar, because of Qatar's alleged close relations with Iran. Kuwait has been trying to mediate among the parties and resolve the crisis, but that will presumably be more difficult now that Kuwait has expelled Iran's diplomats.

The expulsion stems from the discovery in August, 2015, of a large cache of weapons in a farm house in the village of al-Abdali, and the arrest of the three owners of the house. The three men were accused of being members Iran's puppet terror regime Hezbollah, and of being part of what has been nicknamed the "Abdali terror cell."

The cache of weapons was quite large, and included a total of 19,000 kg of ammunition, 144 kg of explosives, 68 weapons, and 204 grenades. The farm house is near the border with Iraq, and Kuwait said that Hezbollah and Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) smuggled the weapons across the border from Iraq to be used in terror attacks against the Sunni Muslim government of Kuwait.

About 20 members of the Abdali terror cell were convicted on January 12, 2016, of working for Hezbollah and the IRGC, and of smuggling explosives from Iran. However, the an appeals court reversed the conviction later in the year.

Finally, last month, on June 18, Kuwait's supreme court, whose rulings are final, reversed the appeals court decision. The cell mastermind was sentenced to life in prison, while 20 other members of the cell, all Shia Muslims, were sentenced to between 5 and 15 years in prison.

Kuwait's information minister said on Friday,

"Following the supreme court ruling on the case ... the government of Kuwait has decided to take measures, in accordance with diplomatic norms and the Vienna Convention, towards its relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran."

Iran's foreign ministry reacted angrily, saying that the accusations that it was behind a terrorist cell were baseless, and threatened revenge:

"Iran’s strong objection has been communicated to Kuwait’s chargé d’affaires. It was reiterated that Iran reserves the right to a reciprocal measure. ...

It is regrettable that the Kuwaiti officials, are acting based on provocations raised by adventurist regional sides and are leveling accusations against Iran in the current sensitive conditions, instead of doing their best to reduce tensions."

However, not all of the convicts are in custody. A Kuwaiti newspaper on Monday reported that in the hours just after the Kuwait's Supreme Court handed down its decision, 14 of the convicts fled to Iran. They used small speedboats to leave Qatar and reach international waters, where an Iranian vessel was waiting to pick them up. Al Jazeera (14-Aug-2015) and AFP and Ahlul Bayt (Iran) and Gulf News

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Iran says that it's open to 'dialog' with Saudi Arabia over Qatar crisis

Kamal Kharrazi, the head of Iran's Strategic Council on Foreign Relations said on Friday that Iran was open to “dialogue” with Saudi Arabia despite escalating tensions. Kharrazi said:

"We know they (the Saudis) have made many mistakes in Yemen, Bahrain, Iraq and Syria, but we are still for dialogue."

A laughable statement like that shows why a resolution to the Qatar blockade crisis is still very far away.

On June 5, four Arab countries -- Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt -- imposed a land, sea and air blockade on Qatar. The reasons given were Qatar's support for Iran, Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood, which the four countries consider to be a terrorist group, and Qatar's aggressive use of al-Jazeera to broadcast incitement to overthrow their governments.

The four countries listed 13 specific demands that would be necessary to resolve the crisis. The demands included: sever most ties with Iran; sever all ties to the Muslim Brotherhood; shut down al-Jazeera; terminate Turkey's military presence in Qatar; pay reparations and compensation for loss of life and other, financial losses caused by Qatar’s policies in recent years. France 24

Saudi-led coalition replaces its 13 demands with 6 principles

In a televised address on Friday, Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani referred the four Arab countries enforcing the blockade as "perpetrators":

"The perpetrators have undermined our sovereignty and independence by fabricating false statements to mislead international public opinion. ...

We are open to dialogue to resolve the outstanding problems [so long as Qatar's] sovereignty is respected."

Saudi Arabia has always said that its 13 demands were non-negotiable, but last week the Saudi-led coalition did appear to be softening its demands for resolving the crisis, when it announced that it was replacing the 13 specific demands with six broad principles. According to a Saudi analyst, "I don't see this as a softening of the quartet's position on Qatar per se, as much as a measure taken to restart the negotiation process. ... These six principles are best viewed as an effort to set the foundation for meaningful negotiation process."

The six principles are:

"1. Commitment to combat extremism and terrorism in all its forms and to prevent their financing or the provision of safe havens.

2. Prohibiting all acts of incitement and all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote or justify hatred and violence.

3. Full commitment to Riyadh Agreement 2013 and the supplementary agreement and its executive mechanism for 2014 within the framework of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) for Arab States.

4. Commitment to all the outcomes of the Arab-Islamic-US Summit held in Riyadh in May 2017.

5. To refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of States and from supporting illegal entities.

6. The responsibility of all States of international community to confront all forms of extremism and terrorism as a threat to international peace and security."

These extremely vague principles do provide a possible basis for compromise, but it's hard to see how anything will change in the long run. Qatar is going to continue to broadcast al-Jazeera, which is going to continue to air speakers from the Muslim Brotherhood, which Qatar supports, but which the four boycotting nations consider to be terrorists -- terrorists who are on al-Jazeera advocating the overthrow of their governments. This is a core difference between Qatar and the four nations, and it won't be resolved. And if it's papered over, it will become an issue again soon. Al Jazeera (Qatar) and The National (UAE) and BBC

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Jul-17 World View -- Kuwait expels Iran's diplomats as Saudi Arabia softens Qatar demands thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Jul-2017) Permanent Link
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22-Jul-17 World View -- Palestinian 'day of rage' in Jerusalem results in six deaths, hundreds injured

Power struggle over metal detectors as Mahmoud Abbas threatens to cut ties

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Palestinian 'day of rage' in Jerusalem results in six deaths, hundreds injured


Palestinian protesters give Israeli security forces the finger during clashes in Jerusalem on Friday (Reuters)
Palestinian protesters give Israeli security forces the finger during clashes in Jerusalem on Friday (Reuters)

Thousands of Palestinians heeded the words of Muslim leaders and Palestinian political factions and came to Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque on Friday to protest the metal detectors that Israeli security forces had placed outside the al-Aqsa Mosque / Temple Mount compound. Three Palestinians were killed and hundreds injured in the worst Jerusalem violence in years at the al-Aqsa mosque, while three Israelis were killed in their homes by a knifing attack in the same time frame.

Thousands of Palestinians refused to enter the al-Aqsa Mosque for Friday prayers, which would have required going through metal detectors. Instead, they filled the streets and prayed peacefully, facing Mecca. Israel had deployed 3,000 police and soldiers in and around Jerusalem’s Old City, in order to keep the situation under control.

But after the Friday prayers ended, many of the Palestinians confronted police, throwing stones and other objects, as police responded with stun grenades, water cannons and tear gas. Three Palestinians were shot dead in separate incidents during the clashes.

In a separate incident, a Palestinian teenager broke into an Israeli home in a West Bank settlement as the family were eating dinner and began stabbing family members, killing a man and two of his children.

A number of anti-Israel protests were held in capitals across the Middle East and Asia on Friday. Thousands gathered in Amman, Beirut, Istanbul and Kuala Lumpur Friday afternoon in solidarity with Palestinian worshipers in Jerusalem who have been protesting the metal detectors. BBC and Times of Israel and Reuters and Times of Israel

Power struggle over metal detectors as Mahmoud Abbas threatens to cut ties

The metal detectors were installed last week after a deadly gun battle inside the al-Aqsa Mosque / Temple Mount compound on Friday morning, July 14. Three gunmen, Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, killed two police officers.

Israeli officials point out that metal detectors are used in Jewish and Muslim holy sites around the worl, including at the mosques in Mecca and Medina. However, Palestinian activists insist that they can't be used at the al-Aqsa mosque. Some have accused the Israelis of a plot to take control of the al-Aqsa mosque, and of using the metal detectors as a step in that plot. One Israeli Islamic leader, Kamal Khatib, accused the Israelis of inserting chemical substances into the al-Aqsa Mosque wall to cause corrosion, and give the Israelis an excuse to take over the mosque as its walls deteriorate.

Israeli government officials themselves have been split on this issue, with some arguing that the metal detectors are so divisive that it would be better to remove them. However, the government made a final decision that they would not be removed.

Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas announced late on Friday that he was freezing all contacts with Israel:

"I, on behalf of the Palestinian leadership, announce... a freeze of all contacts with the occupation state on all levels until Israel commits to canceling all the measures against our Palestinian people in general and Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa mosque in particular.

[The measures were] falsely presented as a security measure to take control over Al-Aqsa mosque.

The steps taken by Israel are leading to a religious confrontation and an evasion from a diplomatic process."

Israeli security forces have announced that the metal detectors and other security measures are necessary for the safety of the worshippers, and will not be taken down.

So it appears that a major power struggle is in progress, and one side or the other will have to step down.

Abbas is very unpopular with the Palestinian people, who see him as a failed leader who has been unable to do anything to end Israel's occupation of the West Bank, despite having been in power for years. Friday's announcement was undoubtedly motivated at least partially to increase his popularity.

However, Abbas appears to have left ambiguous the question of whether "a freeze on all contacts" means that the security agreement that the Palestinians have with Israel will also be frozen. Under this agreement, Palestinian security forces arrest Palestinians in the West Bank who are suspected of planning terror attacks on Israel. This agreement has undoubted prevented many terror attacks, but it's very unpopular with the Palestinians, who see it as a way for the Palestinian security forces to be doing Israel's dirty work.

If the security agreement were suspended, it would mean that Israel would have to deploy thousands of its own police in cities across the West Bank, something that would be even less popular with Palestinians than the agreement itself. Abbas has threatened to end the security agreement in the past, but has never done so, probably for these reasons. Washington Post and Times of Israel and MEMRI

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Jul-17 World View -- Palestinian 'day of rage' in Jerusalem results in six deaths, hundreds injured thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Jul-2017) Permanent Link
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21-Jul-17 World View -- Relations between Germany and Turkey spiral into crisis

Turkey commemorates first anniversary of attempted coup

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Relations between Germany and Turkey spiral into crisis


Young men stand on a Turkish army tank in Ankara on July 16, 2016, the day after the attempted coup. (Reuters)
Young men stand on a Turkish army tank in Ankara on July 16, 2016, the day after the attempted coup. (Reuters)

The diplomatic crisis between Germany and Turkey deepened on Thursday when Germany's foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel told a press conference that it was no longer safe for German people and businesses to travel to Turkey. The announcement was triggered by Turkey's detention of a Germany human rights defender and two German journalists with no credible charges or supporting evidence.

Gabriel broke off his summer vacation and returned to Berlin to deal with the crisis that arose out of the arrests, particularly of German human rights activist Peter Steudtner for allegedly aiding a "terror" group.

Gabriel declared a “re-orientation” of Germany's Turkey policy, and said that the country’s actions show it's “departing from the basis of European values.":

"[Steudtner] never wrote about Turkey, he had no contacts in the political establishment ... and never appeared as a critic. ...

One can’t advise anyone to invest in a country when there is no legal certainty and where companies, completely respectable companies, are presented as terrorists. I therefore do not see how, as the government, we can still guarantee German company investments in Turkey if, as has happened, arbitrary expropriations for political reasons have not only been threatened but have already taken place. ...

German citizens are no longer safe from arbitrary arrests in Turkey. We have no other choice -- because we are responsible for the protection of our citizens of our country -- but to adapt our travel and safety advisory to Turkey and let Germans know what can happen to them when they travel to Turkey.

We can’t go on as we have before. ... We have to be clearer than before so that those in charge in Ankara understand that such a policy won’t be without consequences."

Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman for Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said:

"We think these are domestic political statements for the upcoming elections in Germany. Unfortunately, this has become fashionable in Germany. People are being anti-Turkey and demonstrating their paranoid animosity against our president to score political points. ... We are strongly condemning suggestions that German nationals visiting Turkey would not be secure. We think that those unfortunate statements are an investment for internal politics aimed at the approaching elections in Germany.

How come Germany tolerates this? When we talk about them, they respond ‘We have justice and independence.’ Well, why don’t they respect Turkish justice? This is disrespectful to Turkey. They will respect our justice. ...

There was direct interference in the Turkish judiciary and the comments used overstepped the mark. The comments again show the double standards in their approach to the law of those who prevent terrorists from being brought to justice while embracing members of terrorist groups who target our country."

Germany's actions were triggered by Steudtner's arrest, and also because Turkish authorities had, several weeks ago, handed their German counterparts a list of 68 German companies they accused of having links to Erdogan's enemy Fethullah Gülen. Deutsche Welle and Al Monitor and Hurriyet (Ankara)

Turkey commemorates first anniversary of attempted coup

Life in Turkey has changed dramatically in the year that's passed since the failed coup attempt on July 15 of last year. Well over 100,000 people have lost their jobs or been arrested with no credible charges and no supporting evidence.

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan says all of these people were involved in the coup attempt, because they had a connection to his former friend, and now enemy, Fethullah Gülen, the 76-year-old political enemy of Erdogan, living since 1999 in self-imposed exile in the Pocono Mountains in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, after splitting with Erdogan.

Gülen is a Muslim cleric with a worldwide network of schools and businesses, run by his followers. For Erdogan, this worldwide network was for many years a good thing, a sign of a progressive Turkey, fighting extremism, and providing education and jobs. But relations between Erdogan and Gülen started to sour in 2012, and were severed completely in 2013. Since then, this huge international network has turned in Erdogan's eyes from a good thing to a bad thing, promoting terrorism instead of fighting extremism. Erdogan now claims that last year's coup was planned and executed under the direction of Gülen and the Fethullah Terror Group (FETO).

Gülen's name is linked to large numbers of schools and businesses, and Erdogan is accusing anyone linked to these schools and businesses, as being linked directly to Gülen and to last year's coup. For example, anyone who has an account in the Gülen-linked Aysa Bank, who has placed children in Gülen-linked schools, who has participated in fund-raising events for Gülen linked humanitarian causes can be fired or arrested and jailed. Anyone having a phone with the encryption application BYLOCK, allegedly used by the Gülen organization, is also assumed to be guilty of participating in the coup.

There are many reasons why Erdogan's reasons for firing and jailing over 100,000 people do not make sense:

During the last year, Erdogan's Turkey has been arresting tens of thousands of Turkish citizens, and only occasionally a foreign national. The arrest of German national Peter Steudtner appears to have been a "last straw" for the Germans. Irish Examiner and Hurriyet (Ankara) and AFP

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Jul-17 World View -- Relations between Germany and Turkey spiral into crisis thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Jul-2017) Permanent Link
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20-Jul-17 World View -- Cambodia bans all sales of sand to Singapore

The world is running out of sand

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Cambodia bans all sales of sand to Singapore


Cambodian villagers protest sand dredging after nine homes collapsed into the river (Khmer Times)
Cambodian villagers protest sand dredging after nine homes collapsed into the river (Khmer Times)

Cambodia's Ministry of Mines and Energy has banned all sales and exports of sand to other countries. For years, the principal customer of Cambodia's sand exports has been Singapore, which has used the sand to reclaim land along its coasts. Using land reclamation, Singapore has expanded its landmass by more than 20% since its independence in 1965. During the same period, Singapore's population tripled.

The new decree, issued on July 10, bans all exports of "construction sand and mud sand" from southwestern Koh Kong province to overseas but stops short of outlawing domestic sales. Other southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia, have implemented bans in the past.

Environmental groups have been pressing the government to stop the export of sand, saying the digging and dredging has had a serious impact on coastal ecosystems and surrounding land. In one Cambodian district where sand dredging had been taking place, nearly 200 people last month held a protest against the sand dredging. They called on authorities to take action after nine homes collapsed into the river, as a result of the dredging.

Cambodia had already suspended sand exports in November of last year, because of a corruption scandal. Singapore claims that it had imported 72.2 million tonnes of sand between 2007 and 2015, the Cambodian government officials said that only 16 million tonnes had been sent. In money terms, the UN said that Cambodia had exported $752 million in sand, but Cambodia claimed it was only $5 million worth of sand.

Environmental activists are skeptical that the new ban will be enforced. After Cambodia suspended sand exports in November of last year, illegal exports continued despite the order. Khmer Times and Khmer Times (12-June) and Radio Free Asia (2-Nov-2016) and AFP and Radio Free Asia (5-May)

The world is running out of sand

In 2014, the United Nations Environment Program concluded that:

"Sand and gravel represent the highest volume of raw material used on earth after water. Their use greatly exceeds natural renewal rates. Moreover, the amount being mined is increasing exponentially, mainly as a result of rapid economic growth in Asia. ...Negative effects on the environment are unequivocal and are occurring around the world. The problem is now so serious that the existence of river ecosystems is threatened in a number of locations."

Sand and gravel are used for land reclamation, as in the case of Singapore, but for a lot of other things as well. They're the main constituents in concrete and asphalt that are used in building constructions, roads, and many other structures. A typical American house requires more than two hundred tons of sand, gravel, and crushed stone for the foundation, basement, garage, and driveway, as well as the section of street in front of it. A mile long highway requires 38,000 tons.

In the last four years, China has used as much concrete as the United States in one century, according to Pascal Peduzzi, the author of the UN report quoted above. In India, sand is so scarce that markets for it are dominated by criminal "sand mafias."

According to the UN report:

"Five countries — China (58%), India (6.75%), the United States (2%), Brazil and Turkey — produce 70% of the world’s cement. However, cement demand by China has increased exponentially by 437.5% in 20 years, while use in the rest of the world increased by 59.8%. Each Chinese citizen is currently using 6.6 times more cement than a U.S. citizen. Demand continues to increase with new infrastructure and renewal of existing infrastructure (roads, bridges, dams, houses) — all dependent on the availability of aggregates."

UN's Peduzzi says that Lake Poyang, for example, is China's biggest freshwater lake but also its biggest source of sand, with estimates of over 230 million cubic meters of sand extracted each year. This is lowering the lake's water level, potentially damaging surrounding wetlands and affecting the flow of nearby rivers, including the Yangtze.

According to Peduzzi, the exponentially growing demand for sand cannot continue without substantially harming the environment, and the world needs a "reporting mechanism at the global level which allows recording the amount of sand and gravels used by countries." New Yorker (29-May) and UN Environment Program (PDF, 2014) and Nikkei

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19-Jul-17 World View -- Eritrean government laughably uses Christian Patriarch as show prop

The violence of generational Awakening eras

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Eritrean government laughably uses Orthodox Christian Patriarch as show prop


This Medhane Alem Orthodox Christian Church in Ethiopia is carved directly out of rock
This Medhane Alem Orthodox Christian Church in Ethiopia is carved directly out of rock

Patriarch Abune Antonios, the 90 year old former head of the Eritrean Orthodox Christian Church, was trotted out from government prisons on Sunday to attend a mass for the first time since he was arrested in 2007.

The Eritrean government, which is possibly the most vicious and repressive government in the world, has been under international pressure from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the UN Special Rapporteur on Eritrea, the French government, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and the European Parliament.

So they let Antonios out of prison for the first time in ten years, and let him participate in the mass on Sunday. Seeing the patriarch for the first time in ten years was considered a blessing by the worshippers, but the whole show was really a farce, and probably a humiliation to Antonios. They forbade him from saying a word, and after the mass they bundled him back to prison. These morons in the Eritrean government think that if the 90-year-old Patriarch Antonios were allowed to say anything, then it would bring down their government. What idiots. Christian Post and Independent Catholic News

Eritrea's Christian crackdown centers on Medhane Alem Orthodox Church

In 2004, Eritrea's government decided that it disapproved of the religious beliefs of the Medhane Alem Orthodox Church, an evangelical offshoot of Eritrea's Orthodox Christian Church. They arrested three priests without charges, and sentenced them by a secret administrative procedure to five years each.

At that time, Patriarch Abune Antonios was head of the Eritrean Orthodox Church. Antonios protested the detention of the three priests, and in general for the government's interference in church affairs. The government demanded that Antonios close the Medhane Alem church, and that he excommunicate its 3,000 members. Antonios refused.

In January 2006, Antonios was notified that he had been dismissed from office, and on May 27, 2007, he was arrested and imprisoned in an unknown location. The Eritrean government has placed people of their own choosing in charge of the church.

The Eritrean government has always persecuted Christians, but in recent months that persecution has become particularly vicious. Police have been going from house to house, demanding to know the occupants' religious beliefs, and arresting them if they give the wrong answer. It's believed that hundreds of Orthodox Christians have been arrested since May.

So the worshippers were thrilled on Sunday to see Patriarch Antonios for the first time in ten years, but you really have to laugh at the Eritrean government bringing out Antonios on Sunday for mass, apparently thinking that doing so will make up for the vicious, repressive treatment of huge numbers of Orthodox Christians for no reason whatsoever.

Eritrea has one of the poorest human rights records in the world. Anyone can be arrested and tortured at any time on the unsupported charge of criticizing someone in the government, or for attending the wrong religious institution.

What is unique about Eritrea is the extent of military repression as practiced through a strictly-enforced conscription regimen and martial culture. Eritrea’s army is about 600,000 strong, which is one tenth of the population of about 6 million. Few countries anywhere, other than North Korea or the Cambodia of the Khmer Rouge, have one tenth of their population in the army. Some people are forced to serve in the armed forces until age 50.

Many people are forced to work at government jobs essentially as slaves. The average monthly salary is $12. If someone escapes to Europe as a migrant to earn money, the remittances that the migrant sends back to his family are heavily taxed by the state.

That's why many of the migrants and refugees that are crossing the Mediterranean to reach Italy are from Eritrea. Christian Solidarity Worldwide and UNHCR (2-Mar-2015) and PJ Media (8-July) and Missionary Network News

The violence of generational Awakening eras

A generational Awakening era begins about 15-20 years after the end of the previous generational crisis war, at the time when the first generation of children with no personal memory of the war come of age and begin to make themselves heard.

In their foundational work on generational theory in the 1980s and early 1990s, William Strauss and Neil Howe glorified generational Awakening eras as times for the birth of new ideas for society and even new religions, and a renewal of society and the nation. Strauss and Howe's work was limited to Britain and America since the 1400s, and their characterization of Awakening eras seems to make sense in those cases.

But as I've worked on Generational Dynamics for 15 years, and have extended generational theory to apply to all countries and societies at all times in history, I've found their characterization of Awakening eras to be wrong most of the time.

In the last 10-20 years we've seen one example after another where Awakening eras are a time of violence. In Syria, Zimbabwe, South Sudan, Burundi, Thailand, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, China, Cameroon, and so forth, and now Eritrea, the group that wins the civil war takes power and then uses torture, massacres and genocide during the Awakening era to keep from giving up power, reneging on promises of free elections made during the settlement of the civil war. What makes this violence different from the crisis war is that in the crisis wars the two populations really want to kill each other, while in the Awakening eras, the war-weary populations just want peace, while government leaders perpetrate everything from repression to jailings, torture and genocidal massacres, depending on the country, to stay in power.

As I described last year in a generational history of Ethiopia and Eritrea, mostly Christian Ethiopia and mostly Muslim Eritrea had an extremely bloody generational crisis war with heavy involvement by the Soviet Union. The war ended in May 1991, with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Today, Eritrea is in a generational Awakening era, and the government is close to a state of hysteria over the possibility that Christians might hold a prayer meeting, so they're using house to house searches, jailings and torture to combat a threat that exists only in their fantasies.

In Syria, Bashar al-Assad is conducting a genocidal war against Sunni Muslims. In Burundi, the president Pierre Nkurunziza, a Christian Hutu, is conducting torture, sexual violence, arbitrary jailings, targeted assassinations and summary executions against his political opposition, almost all from the Christian Tutsi tribe. In Thailand, there's been sporadic violence by the army, backing the "yellow shirt" market-dominant light-skinned Thai-Chinese elite minority against the the "red shirt" dark-skinned Thai-Thai indigenous ethnics. And just today (Tuesday), South Sudan's president Salva Kiir declared a new three-month state of emergency, as he pursues tribal violence designed to keep himself in power. The situations in the other Awakening era countries listed above is similar. Reuters

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Jul-17 World View -- Eritrean government laughably uses Christian Patriarch as show prop thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Jul-2017) Permanent Link
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18-Jul-17 World View -- China bans Winnie The Pooh because Xi Jinping looks like him

Indonesia defies China and renames part of the South China Sea

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China bans Winnie The Pooh because Xi Jinping looks like him


June 2013 graphic comparing Winnie the Pooh and Tigger to Xi Jinping and Barack Obama (Reuters)
June 2013 graphic comparing Winnie the Pooh and Tigger to Xi Jinping and Barack Obama (Reuters)

China has banned Winnie the Pooh from Chinese social media because he looks too much like China's president Xi Jinping. On Weibo and WeChat and other Chinese social media sites, many bloggers posted comparisons between the two, and also referred to Winnie the Pooh's self description as the "bear of very little brain" in the comparisons to Xi Jinping.

After a 2013 California summit between Xi Jinping and Barack Obama, who was US president at the time, Chinese bloggers noticed an uncanny resemblance between a White House photo of the two presidents to a cartoon of Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, and the two images side by side in the combined image shown above.

In 2014, Chinese bloggers took notice of an extremely uncomfortable handshake between Xi Jinping and Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe, and compared it to a cartoon image of Winnie the Pooh gripping the hoof of his gloomy donkey friend Eeyore.


2014 graphic comparing Winnie the Pooh and Eeyore to Xi Jinping and Japan's Shinzo Abe
2014 graphic comparing Winnie the Pooh and Eeyore to Xi Jinping and Japan's Shinzo Abe

It turns out that China and Xi Jinping are going through one humiliation after another these days, and the humiliations are particularly stinging because a big Chinese Communist Party (CCP) congress is coming up later this year. They include:

Xi Jinping and other CCP are international criminals for invading and annexing regions in the South China Sea belonging to other countries, in violation of international law, which is what Hitler did. China is building missile systems whose only purpose is to attack American cities, military bases, and aircraft carriers. China is preparing to launch on its neighbors, as well as on America, which it believes it will win. Instead, China will cause a catastrophe to itself and the rest of the world, and history will look back on China as a worse disaster to the world than the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese combined.

There have also been reports today that China is going to shut down all use of virtual private networks (VPNs) on the internet. VPNs were used by universities and businesses to bypass China's censors and communicate with universities and businesses outside of China. Xi Jinping is turning China into an isolated police state and jail.

So Xi Jinping is a good Nazi, but he can't stand the thought of anyone posting a picture of Winnie the Pooh on social media. That's why Xi Jinping is such a pathetic loser. As Winnie the Pooh described himself, he's a "bear of very little brain." Shanghaiist and AFP and Reuters

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Indonesia defies China and renames part of the South China Sea

Indonesia has announced that its renaming the portion of the South China Sea belonging to Indonesia's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as the "North Natuna Sea."

Indonesia says that every country has the right to name any area belonging to the country's territory. Indonesia will register the name through the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) and the United Nations.

The name change is symbolic, and won't make any difference to the Chinese, who will use their vast military power to try to kill anyone who tries to prevent them from annexing other country's territory.

In March of last year, a large Chinese coast guard warship entered Indonesian waters and rammed an Indonesian patrol vessel that was towing a Chinese fishing boat that had been illegally fishing in Indonesian waters around the Natuna Islands.

The Natuna Islands have always been sovereign Indonesian territory. They are far away from China, but because of the rich fishing grounds, there's little doubt that China will use its military power to seize the islands from Indonesia. Antara News (Jakarta) and The Diplomat and Global Times (Beijing) and CNN

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17-Jul-17 World View -- Tensions at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque / Temple Mount surge again

Concerns grow of a new round of violence

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Muslim leaders express outrage at metal detectors at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque / Temple Mount


Muslims pray in front of metal detectors placed outside of al-Aqsa Mosque / Temple Mount on Sunday
Muslims pray in front of metal detectors placed outside of al-Aqsa Mosque / Temple Mount on Sunday

Muslim leaders are expressing outrage at the security measures taken by Israel at the al-Aqsa Mosque / Temple Mount compound in East Jerusalem, at its reopening after a two-day closure triggered by a deadly gun battle on Friday morning.

On Friday morning, three gunmen, killed two police officers. The gunmen were Palestinians with Israeli citizenship. The victims were two Druze policemen.

Immediately following the incident, Israeli police closed the mosque and prevented worshipers from entering the compound during Friday prayers for the first time since 1967. (There is some confusion about this point, because Israel closed the mosque for two days in 2014, after several days of violence. Apparently, this was the first closure during Friday prayers since 1967.)

During the closure, Israeli police swept for weapons, and installed security devices, including closed-circuit television cameras and metal detectors. Israeli officials say that the police sweep through the compound found knives, slingshots, batons, spikes and unexploded ordnance.

When the mosque was reopened on Sunday, Ahmed Omar al-Kiswani, director of al-Aqsa mosque, told Muslim worshippers not to go through the metal detectors:

"The closure of al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the occupation in itself and the prevention of the call for prayers are all unfair and unjust and constitute a violation to the United Nations resolutions and the international agreements.

We hold the Israeli government responsible for the changes they have made in the al-Aqsa Mosque and taking its control away from us. We will stay outside the mosque until we get back the way it was taken from us. ...

We won’t agree to this violation of the status quo, and we will only return to the mosque once it is restored. We will not accept security checks at Al-Aqsa. ... Don’t go through the gates."

Muslim worshippers appear to be split. While dozens of worshippers did as al-Kiswani told them and refused to go through the metal detectors, and instead prayed outside the mosque, hundreds more did go through the metal detectors and prayed inside as usual.

Jordan and Israel have been jointly providing security to the compound, under an agreement reached in November 2014 after days of violent confrontation between Palestinians and Israelis. However, after Friday morning's shooting, Israeli security took complete control of the compound and shut out the Jordanian guards. According to some news reports, Jordan’s King Abdullah II telephoned Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday evening, and demanded that the mosque be reopened.

Now the mosque is reopened, but some Muslim leaders are saying that the metal detectors and security cameras that were installed without consultation with the Jordanians change the status quo of the mosque, and are part of an effort to completely shut out all Muslims from the compound.

According to analyst Daoud Kuttab:

"This is a very worrisome change. It sounds like it is going to be troublesome for the days to come. Those who killed the soldiers are not from the West Bank or Jerusalem. They came from Israel. They are Israeli citizens. Palestinians are being punished for what Israeli Palestinian citizens of Israel have done."

It would seem to me that the security measures are for the protection of both Muslims and Jews, but we live in a world today where everyone on all sides of any issue refuses as a matter of principle to make any sense. Times of Israel and Washington Post and al-Jazeera

Concerns grow of a new round of violence at compound

When the al-Aqsa mosque was shut down for two days in October 2014, for the first time since 2000, Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas said that the move was "tantamount to a declaration of war" by Israelis on Palestinians. Those words indicate the explosive levels of tensions that exist.


Dome of the Rock in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in East Jerusalem (AFP)
Dome of the Rock in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in East Jerusalem (AFP)

The al-Aqsa mosque compound is known to Muslims as Al-Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary), which the golden Dome of the Rock shrine and Al-Aqsa mosque. It's the third-holiest site in Islam after the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Prophet's Mosque in Medina, both in Saudi Arabia, and it's believed to be where the Prophet Mohammed made his night journey to heaven.

The Jews refer to the same compound as Har HaBayit, the Temple Mount, and is the holiest site in the Jewish religion, because it's believed that buried underneath the Mosque are the remains of the Temple at Jerusalem. In 66 AD, the Jews in Judea began a rebellion against their Roman colonizers. The Romans massacred tens of thousands of Jews and destroyed the city of Jerusalem including, in 70 AD, the Temple at Jerusalem.

East Jerusalem, including the compound, was seized and annexed by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War, but this annexation has never been internationally recognized, and most news media refer to it as an "occupation."

In 2000, then-prime minister Ariel Sharon went to Temple Mount and prayed there, infuriating the Palestinians, and triggering the "second intifada," the Palestinian uprising against the Israelis that lasted until 2005. A compromise was devised that would permit Jews to visit Temple Mount as tourists, but not to pray there.

In 2014, East Jerusalem was the epicenter of increasing clashes between Palestinians and Israelis ever since the bodies of three Israeli teenage settlers were found weeks after they were abducted on June 10 by terrorists that Israelis believe were commissioned by Hamas. They were the subject of an extensive manhunt throughout the West Bank, during which hundreds of Palestinians, mostly members of Hamas, were arrested. Israel was shocked three weeks later, when the teens were found dead in a pit in the West Bank.

This was followed by a spiral of violence that led to the 57-day war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza in July and August 2014. Even after the war ended, there were continuing clashes in East Jerusalem, especially around the al-Aqsa mosque. Israel shut down access to the mosque for two days in October, leading Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to call it "tantamount to a declaration of war," and Jordan to recall its ambassador to Israel.

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

Since then, there's been little international news about violence in Jerusalem, mainly because the "Israeli - Palestinian issue" has been pushed out of the news by other issues, particularly the war in Syria and, more recently, the split between Qatar and four Arab nations.

However, this state of affairs is not to the liking of many Palestinian leaders, who want the Palestinian issue once again to be the main topic of discussion and news reporting throughout the world.

One sign of the times is that few if any Palestinians leaders are willing to condemn the murders that took place on Friday morning, and indeed the chairman of Jordan's parliament, Atef Tarawneh, said, "May God have mercy on our martyrs who watered our pure soil." One gets the impression that Palestinian leaders would like to see more such murders take place. AFP and YNet News (Israel) and Jerusalem Post

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16-Jul-17 World View -- EU countries refuse to help Italy deal with massive refugee crisis

Italy's 'nuclear option' would force other countries to absorb refugees

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

EU countries refuse to help Italy deal with massive refugee crisis


Migrants wait to disembark after being rescued at sea (AP)
Migrants wait to disembark after being rescued at sea (AP)

Reports are describing Italy's Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni with words like "furious" and "livid" over the fact that the European Union is refusing to help Italy deal with the massive refugee crisis the country is facing.

Almost 100,000 refugees, mostly crossing the Mediterranean from Libya, have landed on Italy's shores so far this year. In the last week of June alone, 10,000 more refugees arrived. Italy has been left entirely on its own to care for them. Instead of being helped, Italy finds itself constantly criticized for not doing enough. While 100,000 refugees have reached Italy, another 2,500 drowned while en route, and Italy is often criticized for not providing enough boats to prevent those drownings. Italy also receives criticism for not doing enough to care for the hundreds of thousands of refugees that the country is hosting.

What really infuriates Gentiloni and other Italian officials is that lots of politicians full of moral outrage criticizing Italy for not doing enough, but they refuse to accept any refugees into their own countries. In 2015, the EU agreed that 160,000 asylum seekers should be relocated from Greece and Italy to other member states, in the name of burden-sharing. To date, only about 22,500 of the 160,000 have actually been transferred. Several central and eastern European EU members - including large countries like Hungary and Poland - have absolutely refused to take in any asylum-seekers.

At best, EU countries pay lip service to helping Italy, and even sympathize with poor Italy's misfortune, but they refuse to take the step that would really make a difference -- distributing asylum-seekers to other countries.

One policy that the EU has tried is that of making sure that whoever rescues migrants from the Mediterranean stays long enough to burn down or otherwise destroy the boat that the human traffickers had used to transport them out of Libya. Pro-immigrant activists say that this is a dangerous policy because human traffickers have adapted. They're simply using cheaper, less secure boats, like expendable rubber dinghies that are purchases in large quantities from China. Activists say that the result of the boat-burning policy has been to make the trip more dangerous for refugees.

Another policy that the EU has been trying is to push the problem to Libya, by paying Libya's coastguard to prevent departures of refugee boats from Libya, by intercepting boats in Libyan waters and bring them back to Libya. Amnesty International has been strongly criticizing this policy, because the Libyan coastguard has reportedly been abusing the refugees that it captures.

Amnesty International is demanding that the EU pull its funding of the Libyan coastguard:

"Rather than acting to save lives and offer protection, European Ministers meeting today are shamelessly prioritizing reckless deals with Libya in a desperate bid to prevent refugees and migrants from reaching Italy.

European states have progressively turned their backs on a search and rescue strategy that was reducing mortality at sea in favor of one that has seen thousands drown and left desperate men, women and children trapped in Libya, exposed to horrific abuses."

As usual with these activist organizations, there are only criticisms, never solutions, and only demands to spend an unlimited amount of money, even if doing so wouldn't make any difference.

The summer season is just beginning, and refugee flows across the Mediterranean have not yet reached their peak. As many as 100,000 more refugees are expected by the end of the year. CNN and Deutsche Welle and Guardian (London) and Amnesty International

Italy considers a 'code of conduct,' and possibly the 'nuclear option'

Italy is considering two plans to relieve the refugee crisis for itself. The purpose of both of the plans under consideration is not necessarily to reduce the refugee flow, but instead to force other European countries to share the burden.

First, Italy is considering an 11-point code of conduct for NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that rescue most the refugees from the Mediterranean.

The way it works now is that human traffickers launch rubber dinghies filled with dozens of refugees from the Libyan coast, charging each of the refugees thousands of dollars. The dinghies are flimsy, and usually have just enough fuel to leave Libyan waters. The human traffickers tell the refugees that once they're out of Libyan waters, they should call a specific number in Italy, and a boat will be dispatched to save them from the rubber dinghy.

Italian officials are suspicious that the NGOs that receive funding to pick up refugees are cooperating by phone with the human traffickers, and even getting kickbacks from them. The NGOs vehemently deny these charges.

So Italy is expected in the next few days to present its 11-point code of conduct to nine NGOs that regularly deploy rescue boats to rescue refugees. The plan hasn't been officially released, but some of the rules have leaked out, and are already being criticized by pro-immigrant activists.

Italian officials claim that the NGOs are encouraging migrants to put to sea, and that the number of migrants would be reduced if they weren't being encouraged, if NGOs followed this code of conduct.

If any group refuses to accept the terms, they risk being barred access to Italian ports, meaning they would have to divert to other countries to disembark the refugees and migrants.

An official with Amnesty International says that if this code of conduct is enforced, then it will interfere with operations to the extent that it will put many lives in danger:

"Attempts to restrict NGO search and rescue operations risk endangering thousands of lives by limiting rescue boats from accessing the perilous waters near Libya."

Human Rights Watch says that the code of conduct is the wrong approach, and more must be done for the refugees:

"NGOs are out there in the Mediterranean rescuing people because the EU is not. Given the scale of tragedies at sea and the horrific abuses migrants and asylum seekers face in Libya, the EU should work with Italy to enhance robust search and rescue in the waters off Libya, not limit it."

An Amnesty International official said that the code of conduct proposals were part of a "concerted smear campaign" against NGO rescue ships by right-wing groups. Reuters and Independent (London) and EU Observer (7-July) and Deutsche Welle (7-July)

Italy's 'nuclear option' would force other countries to absorb refugees

Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni's fury at other EU countries for abandoning Italy and refusing to accept any refugees is being translation into consideration of what is being called "the nuclear option."

The plan would take advantage of a little-known and near-forgotten European Council Directive 55 from 2001, drafted after the Balkans conflict, to give temporary EU entry permits to "displaced people."

If implemented, Italy would give temporary visas to 200,000 migrants that it's currently hosting. This would permit them to travel freely throughout the 26 nations of Europe's Schengen Zone.

An analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations says that the result would be severe:

"If migrants continue to arrive and Italy decides to give them papers to cross borders and leave Italy it would be a nuclear option. Italians have lost any hope of getting help from the EU and may say, 'If you won’t make it a common challenge, we will.'"

The outcome would be a truly major political crisis across the EU. However, it's not known whether Gentiloni is really considering this option, or whether he's just bluffing to get concessions. The National (UAE) and The Sun (London) and Daily Mail (London)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Jul-17 World View -- EU countries refuse to help Italy deal with massive refugee crisis thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Jul-2017) Permanent Link
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15-Jul-17 World View -- Paranoid China races to censor news of death of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo

China responds with outrage at countries praising Liu Xiaobo

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Paranoid China races to censor news of death of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo


Iconic photo of Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia
Iconic photo of Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia

Chinese censors and Chinese Communist Party officials have been working overtime to protect the Chinese people from learning anything about what happened to international peace activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, who died of liver cancer on Thursday after Chinese authorities for weeks refused to allow him to travel outside of China to receive care that might have saved his life.

Liu Xiaobo was present at the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing, where college students from all over the country had come for peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations. By coincidence, CNN was in Beijing for another reason, and the protests could be seen worldwide. I still recall those scenes live on CNN, and listening to Bernard Shaw, who was on the air almost 24 hours a day, saying that this was the most amazing thing he had seen in his life.

On June 4, the peaceful protests came to an end. The Chinese army came in and massacred thousands of college students who had come to Beijing for peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations. Liu Xiaobo's extremely courageous act was to negotiate with the military to allow several hundred student protests to have safe passage and leave, rather than be slaughtered mercilessly. Liu was jailed for 21 months for calling for political reforms and greater freedoms for the people of China.

Liu was repeatedly jailed after that for supporting democracy in China. In 2008, he was arrested for drafting a democracy manifesto, and was never again free.

In 2010, Liu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for "his long nonviolent struggle for fundamental human rights in China." At that point, his wife Liu Xia was also jailed, and has been in jail ever since.

Now that he's dead, the Chinese censors are working night and day to make sure that the Chinese people are kept in complete ignorance. Social media posts mourning him are banned. A simple phrase like "RIP" is banned. An image of a burning candle is banned. Online searches that reference any aspect of his life are banned.

You really have to laugh at this. Chinese officials like president Xi Jinping and the other Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials are good at a lot of things. They're good at raising enormous armies with huge weapons systems. They're good at invading and annexing other countries' regions in violation of international law, including in the South China Sea. They're good at threatening war and conducting war for anyone who doesn't do what they're told. They're good at torturing, killing and massacring people.

But Xi Jinping and the other CCP officials turn into whimpering fools at the thought of anyone in China commemorating the death of Liu Xiaobo. Or of posting an image of a burning candle. Or of wishing that he rest in peace. It's really amazing.

By the way, here's a small bit of historical trivia. Liu was not the first Nobel Peace Prize winner to die while in prison. German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, died in a hospital while held by the Nazis in 1938. CNN and Asian Age (India) and Mashable

China responds with outrage at countries praising Liu Xiaobo

The United States, Germany, France, the European Union and the United Nations criticized Chinese officials after he died for not allowing him to receive medical care outside the country. Germany and the United States had offered to take him in for medical care.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that Liu should never have been given the Nobel Peace Prize:

"Conferring the [Nobel Peace] prize to such a person goes against the purposes of this award. It's a blasphemy of the peace prize."

The Chinese are calling the awarding of the peace prize "meddling" in China's national affairs. However, Berit Reiss-Andersen, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, says that argument is not valid, because human rights is an international affair, not a national affair:

"When it comes to the argument of interference, the point of view of the Norwegian Nobel Committee is that our task is to hand out the Peace Prize. And we hand out the Peace Prize to the most deserving person of that year, who has contributed who has contributed to worldwide peace. Now the standard of human rights is not a national affair; it is an international affair. People have basic human rights, because they are people, and so this is not a valid argument in my point of view. And Nobel Peace Prize formally been handed out to other critics of their regimes in smaller countries, for instance, Aung San Suu Kyi [of Myanmar] and Lech Walesa [of Poland]. And this time in 2010 it was Liu Xiaobo and it was the first time a citizen of such a world power was handed the peace prize for human rights struggle, and the struggle for democratic reforms. It would have been cowardly of the peace prize if we were hesitant because our candidate came from a powerful nation, and if we only awarded prizes to individuals from smaller nations. And we do not look to that."

Much to the consternation of Chinese officials, on Friday, a number of countries issued statements highly critical of the Chinese government's handling of Liu, and commemorating his death.

In addition, many foreign leaders are demanding that Liu's wife, Liu Xia, who has been under arrest since her husband won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, should now be freed from prison, and permitted to leave China.

A spokesman for Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel quoted her as saying: “I mourn Liu Xiaobo, the courageous fighter for civil rights and freedom of opinion. Deep condolences to his family.” Foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel said, “She and her brother, Liu Hui, should immediately be allowed to leave for Germany or another country of their choice if they wish to."

France's President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: “Tribute to Liu Xiaobo, Nobel Prize Peace Laureate, great freedom fighter. Thoughts and support to his relatives and his wife Liu Xia.”

Norway's Prime minister Erna Solberg said: “It is with deep grief that I received the news of Liu Xiaobo’s passing. Liu Xiaobo was for decades a central voice for human rights and China’s further development. My thoughts go now to his wife, Liu Xia, and his family and friends.”

Canada's foreign minister Chrystia Freeland said, “I offer my sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Liu and to his many supporters around the world. In particular, my thoughts go to Mr. Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, herself a tremendous symbol of courage and poise, who remains under house arrest. We continue to call for the release of all political prisoners.”

These statements wouldn't be all that important if it were not for the fact that China is infuriated at them to the point of hysteria. Incredibly, China's ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that China was lodging official protests with these countries for interfering in China's "judicial sovereignty."

The European Union issued a statement saying, “We appeal to the Chinese authorities to allow his wife, Ms. Liu Xia and his family to bury Liu Xiaobo at a place and in a manner of their choosing and to allow them to grieve in peace."

Now, that's an interesting request -- allow Liu's family to bury him at a place of their choosing. This is something that the paranoid CCP officials would never allow, because they don't want Liu's grave to become a place where pilgrims can come and conduct vigils. Chinese authorities will want to dump Liu's body in as obscure a place as possible, and they may have him cremated.

Another interesting statement came from Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen: “We hope that the Chinese authorities can show confidence in engaging in political reform so that the Chinese can enjoy the God-given rights of freedom and democracy. This will be a turning point in cross-strait relations. The Chinese dream is not supposed to be about military might. It should be about taking ideas like those from Liu Xiaobo into consideration. Only through democracy, in which every Chinese person has freedom and respect, can China truly become a proud and important county.”

One can only imagine the red hot fury of Chinese officials reading that statement from Taiwan's president. State-run media called Tsai's statement "dangerous" and "reckless," and quoted Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office:

"Taiwan authorities ... have made reckless remarks on the mainland's political system upon Liu Xiaobo's death. ...

Ma said that the DPP and its leader had lifted the deceptive veil of "maintaining the current situation," attacked the mainland repeatedly and aggravated cross-strait conflicts, attempting to pull cross-strait relations back to tensity and turbulence.

"Such behavior is very dangerous," said Ma.

Only people on the mainland have the right to judge the mainland's political, economic and social development, said Ma, adding that the DPP should focus on and reflect on the chaos they have brought to the island and the harm they have done to cross-strait relations."

Americans have a special connection to Liu Xiaobo because he was living in America prior to the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, and returned to China at that time specifically to work for democracy in China. On Friday in Washington, Senator Ted Cruz is reintroducing a bill to change the name of the street in front of the Chinese Embassy in Washington to "1 Liu Xiaobo Plaza." When similar legislation was being discussed last year, Chinese officials said that the bill would have "severe consequences" if passed. AFP and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and China Daily (Beijing) and Nikkei

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Jul-17 World View -- Paranoid China races to censor news of death of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Jul-2017) Permanent Link
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14-Jul-17 World View -- Turkey's assault on Kurds in Afrin, Syria, may jeopardize the battle in Raqqa

Turkey threatens the Kurds in Afrin, Syria, with Operation Euphrates Sword

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey threatens the Kurds in Afrin, Syria, with Operation Euphrates Sword


Map showing areas of control in Syria for government, ISIS, Kurds and rebels.  Afrin is north eastern Syria in the region shown in yellow in the top-left. (al-Jazeera)
Map showing areas of control in Syria for government, ISIS, Kurds and rebels. Afrin is north eastern Syria in the region shown in yellow in the top-left. (al-Jazeera)

Turkey has for months talked about an assault on the Kurdish-held city of Afrin in Syria's northeast, near the border with Turkey, and there are signs that the assault is imminent. (Afrin is in the northeast region shown in yellow on the above map.)

Turkish forces and Kurdish forces north of Afrin have been exchanging cross-border fire for weeks, and early this week a convoy of six military vehicles was sent as reinforcements to a city on Turkey's border with Syria. Over the weekend, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a press conference at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. Kurds in Syria have links to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been designated a terrorist group by America and countries in Europe, and which have conducted terrorist actions and low-level violence in Turkey for 30 years.

Erdogan considers all Kurds in Syria to be terrorists. He called Afrin a "threat" to Turkey and left little doubt that the assault on Afrin is going to occur:

"We will never remain silent or unresponsive to the backing and arming of terrorist groups, and the formation of terror islets right next to our border.

We will not hesitate to use our legitimate right to defense against formations that threaten our country’s security. We will not allow a YPG threat. Afrin is a threat for us, we will give the necessary response.

As long as this threat continues, we will activate our rules of engagement and will continue to give the necessary answer to those in Afrin."

The military operation against Afrin and Kurdish enclaves and militias is called Operation Euphrates Sword, which has not yet begun, but may begin at any time. Turkey claims that the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and Free Syrian Army (FSA) allies have amassed a force of 17,000 fighters for the assault.

Last year, Turkey launched an earlier operation, Operation Euphrates Shield, whose purpose was to prevent the Kurds from taking control of Syria's entire northern border, and declaring an independent Kurdish state called Rojava. The result was that Turkish-backed rebel forces have control of the light blue area in the map above, on the border with Turkey, but separating the two regions controlled by the Kurds.

Although Turkey prevented the Kurds from taking control of that light blue area, Turkey is still concerned that the Kurds might still link the two yellow regions by going further south. The assault on Afrin will prevent that.

The assault on Afrin could be very difficult, long and bloody, according to some analysts. Afrin is heavily defended by Kurdish militias, and the terrain too rugged, covered with forests and olive groves, for easy movement of armored vehicles. AFP(9-July) and Reuters and Yeni Safak (Ankara) and Arab News

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Turkey's assault on Afrin may jeopardize the battle in Raqqa

As we've been reporting, the battle to liberate Raqqa from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) is ongoing, led by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which contains some Arabs and mostly Kurds from the People's Protection Units (YPG).

According to some reports, some 3,000 fighters from Afrin are taking part in the operation to expel ISIS from Raqqa. If Turkey's assault on Afrin begins, those 3,000 fighters are expected to leave Raqqa and return to defend Afrin. This would put the Raqqa operation in jeopardy.

For this reason, the US has asked Turkey to delay the assault on Afrin as long as possible, so that the attack on Raqqa can be completed. Turkey sees this from the opposite direction. Turkish officials say that the Afrin assault has to take place as quickly as possible, while the Kurdish forces are still tied up in Raqqa.

The US is using the Kurds in Raqqa because they've proven to be the most effective fighting force against ISIS. This infuriated Turkish officials, who wanted to have their Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters lead the operation. They also strongly objected to giving US weapons to the YPG, because some will ultimately end up in the hands of PKK terrorists in Turkey.

Because the attack on Afrin has not yet taken place, there has been a great deal of speculation, including the following from different reports:

Much of this speculation will only be resolved if and when the military operations in Afrin and Raqqa are completed. Jerusalem Post and Kurdistan 24 and Daily Sabah (Turkey) and Sputnik News (Moscow)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Jul-17 World View -- Turkey's assault on Kurds in Afrin, Syria, may jeopardize the battle in Raqqa thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Jul-2017) Permanent Link
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13-Jul-17 World View -- China establishes its first foreign military base, in Djibouti

Russia, India, Japan prepare for war with China

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China establishes its first foreign military base, in Djibouti


Chinese soldiers stand guard at a military port in Zhanjiang, Guangdong province, on Tuesday, as warships with soldiers depart for Djibouti (Reuters)
Chinese soldiers stand guard at a military port in Zhanjiang, Guangdong province, on Tuesday, as warships with soldiers depart for Djibouti (Reuters)

Ships carrying Chinese military personnel are being sent to Djibouti to set up a "logistics support base" to "ensure China's performance of missions, such as escorting, peace-keeping and humanitarian aid in Africa and west Asia." The base is clearly a military base, although Chinese media and officials are denying that. In fact, Western media are referring to it as China's first military base outside of China.

On Wednesday, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang denied that there was any military expansion:

"[The] establishment of this base is mainly aimed to enable China to better perform its escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters as well as humanitarian relief and to make greater contributions to the peace and stability of Africa and beyond. In addition, I would like to reiterate that China stays committed to the path of peaceful development and follows a defensive national defense policy. This remains unchanged."

Apparently Geng Shuang thinks that all of us in the West are so stupid that we don't remember that China told us exactly the same garbage about the South China Sea artificial islands. We were told that they were some sort of environmental project, with no military purpose whatsoever. Now those artificial islands are huge military bases bristling with missiles and aircraft, in clear violation of international law, as determined by a 2016 ruling by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague, which declared China's activities in the South China Sea to be illegal Today, it's clear that China is planning further criminal activity in the South China Sea, including launching military assaults to take full control of the entire South China Sea.

So now Geng Shuang thinks we're going to believe the same laughable nonsense about the Djibouti military base. Even more laughable is that Chinese media are weeping and whining, complaining about media bias. The Global Times says that "Many of the Western media has described China's Djibouti facility as a military base and referred to the move as military expansionism," and quotes Xu Guangyu, a military official as saying that Western media reports on the base show their prejudice:

"China's base in Djibouti has basic differences with military bases of other countries in scale, function and equipment. Compared with the specialized function of logistics support of the Chinese base, other military bases station more troops and fighters and conduct military training. ...

Whether a country needs to build an overseas base should come out of its own concerns and it merely involves bilateral talks with the other nation. Why do some Western countries make carping comments about China's first overseas base, while they already have many?"

Again, this is exactly the same kinds of things we heard from China when China was building illegal military bases in the South China Sea.

Ironically, what makes the above whining by Xu Guangyu even more laughable is that it's contradicted by Chinese language editions of the Global Times:

"People's Liberation Army in Djibouti base 11 was set up.... This is the People's Liberation Army overseas base zero breakthrough, and thus subject to a lot of attention.

We note that the base of the People's Liberation Army in Djibouti was described as a "base of protection" and was not addressed as a "military base". It is worth pondering.

First of all, it is indeed the People's Liberation Army's first overseas base, where China will garrison. It is not a commercial supply point. It is justified by foreign public opinion that the base can support the Chinese navy to go further and thus be significant."

The Djibouti naval military base is the perfect endpoint to China's "string of pearls," commercial deep-water ports in the Indian Ocean that China could use in time of wars. Many of these ports were built and often are operated by Chinese companies. These include deep-water ports in Sri Lanka, in Colombo and Hambantota; Pakistan, in Gwadar and Karachi; Myanmar, in Sittwe; and the Seychelles, in Port Victoria. The Gwadar port in Pakistan is expected to be upgraded to a full Chinese military base soon.

China's base in Djibouti is at the southern entrance to the Red Sea on the route to the Suez Canal. Thus, in time of war, China will be able to block traffic through the Suez Canal.

Hosting foreign military bases is big business for Djibouti, which also hosts American, Japanese and French bases. Xinhua and CNN and China's Foreign Ministry and Global Times (Beijing) - (Trans)

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Russia, India, Japan prepare for war with China

Each year since 1992, the United States and India have deployed warships, submarines and aircraft as part of the joint Malabar exercises in the Bay of Bengal, adjacent to India and the Indian Ocean. Because of the increased military threat from China, the military exercises are the largest in 22 years, and will include Japan for only the second time. The week-long series of war games will involve a total of 16 ships -- including the nuclear-powered USS Nimitz, India's INS Vikramanditya, a reconditioned Russian-built aircraft carrier, and Japan's JS Izumo, a helicopter carrier with an emphasis on anti-submarine warfare -- as well as two submarines and more than 95 aircraft.

Most readers won't find it surprising that India and Japan are preparing for war with China, but may be more surprised that Russia is also preparing for war with China.

If China and Russia have friendly relations, it's only because of a transitory "honor among thieves" phenomenon. Both of these countries are doing what Hitler did -- invading and annexing territories belonging to other countries -- and so they support each other's criminal activities in the UN Security Council. When Hitler did it, it led to World War II. China and Russia are no different. What China and Russia are doing is one of the factors leading to World War III.

However, the fact that Russia and China are supporting each other in criminal activities does not mean that they are going to be allies in any future war.

Russia and China have been historic enemies for centuries, at least since the Mongols conquered the Han Chinese in 1206, merged with them culturally, and then went on to brutally attack the Russians. Those wars are not forgotten today, and Russians and Chinese have deep hatreds for each other that will not be mitigated by a brief period of mutual support in the UN Security Council. In fact, China and Russia almost had a full scale war with each other in the 1960s.

In early June 2017, Russian media reported that the powerful road-mobile 9K720 Iskander-M missile system was installed in Russia's Eastern Military District. This joins three other major missile installations that took place in 2013, 2015 and 2016, respectively. These installations have very limited ability to strike American or Japanese targets. Their only logical purpose is to strike China. Indeed, the system’s ability to deliver a wide range of cluster munitions makes it particularly suitable for use against People’s Liberation Army (PLA) armor and infantry in the event of an armed confrontation.

In 2014, Russia held the massive Vostok military exercises in the Far East, explaining that the military drills were necessary to prepare for war with the United States. And yet, the assets deployed during this exercise were more consistent with preparing for a defense of the Far East, a region that America would be unlikely to invade if it wanted to invade Russia at all. The only state actor that against which such a defense is needed is China. And so it appears that Russia and China claim that they're each preparing for war with the United States, but they're also preparing for war with each other. CNN and The Diplomat and Lowy Institute (Australia)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Jul-17 World View -- China establishes its first foreign military base, in Djibouti thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Jul-2017) Permanent Link
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12-Jul-17 World View -- China threatens military intervention in Kashmir on the side of Pakistan

Thousands flee homes in Kashmir as Pakistan-India shelling escalates

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Thousands flee homes in Kashmir as Pakistan-India shelling escalates


Long lines of pilgrims visiting the Amarnath shrine in 2016.  Inside the 40 m (130 ft) high cave, water drops from melting snow fall from the roof of the cave to the floor, creating a stalagmite that grows upward.
Long lines of pilgrims visiting the Amarnath shrine in 2016. Inside the 40 m (130 ft) high cave, water drops from melting snow fall from the roof of the cave to the floor, creating a stalagmite that grows upward.

Thousands of people have fled their homes in the Pakistan side of the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir and Jammu, because of continued shelling across the LoC between India and Pakistan. About 80% of four villages along the LoC have fled.

On the other side of the LoC, in India-controlled Kashmir, Indian security forces clashed with stone-throwing protesters on Saturday. Saturday was the one-year anniversary of the death on July 8, 2016, of Burhan Wani, 22, a 22-year-old commander in the separatist militia Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), after being shot in a gunfight with Indian security forces. Since then, dozens of civilians have been killed, thousands of Kashmiris have been blinded in one or both eyes by pellet guns used by Indian security forces, and thousands of youths have been arrested.

On Monday, India was shocked after Kashmiri militants killed 7 Hindu pilgrims traveling by bus to Hindu's holiest shrine, the Amarnath Temple. Each year, over 200,000 people make the Amarnath Yatra (pilgrimage) to the shrine, at an altitude of 3,888 meters. Terror attacks on the pilgrims have been extremely rare because both Hindus and Muslims respect the shrine.

Security personnel are expecting more violence tomorrow (Wednesday), when Kashmiri Muslims mark "Kashmir Martyrs' Day," the anniversary of the July 13, 1931, when dozens of Muslims were killed in a confrontation with British security forces.

Although there have been a continuing clashes between Kashmiris and Indian security forces, so far there hasn't been the explosion that some people have feared this summer, and many people are hoping that things will remain steady until winter comes and brings respite from the violence for another season.

Indian security forces have come under harsh criticism for failing to control the violence in the past year, and also for using pellet guns that blinded hundreds of people. In February of this year, the police tried a new policy -- meeting the parents of potential militants in the hope of gaining their cooperation in convincing these young people that violence is not the right path. At that time, an estimated 80 youths were believed to have joined militant outfits.

The plan was announced by Kashmir's Director General of Police (DGP) Shesh Paul Vaid, who said:

"We won't like to harm our own children. We are reaching out to the parents and requesting them to convince their children for shunning the path of violence. In few cases, we have achieved success also. We want that our children should fight in debates, competitive exams and not with guns.

I have made appeals through my district Superintendents of Police and conveyed that all missing cases need to be verified on ground and corrective steps to be taken. Our first attempt is always humanitarian so that we can bring misguided children back. We have given an assurance that a lenient view will be taken in case the youths surrender voluntarily."

This approach appeared promising, but it has not been particularly effective. Last month, India announced Operation All-Out, a massive police operation "to deliver a lethal blow to terrorism ... with a long-term plan for a lasting peace in the trouble-torn Valley." This was never going to work, and encourages tit-for-tat violence.

As I've written several times, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Kashmir is replaying previous generations of violence according to a fairly standard template. India's previous two generational crisis wars were India's 1857 Rebellion, which pitted Hindu nationalists against British colonists, and the 1947 Partition War, one of the bloodiest wars of the 20th century, pitting Hindus versus Muslims, when the British colonists partitioned the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan. Kashmir is at the heart of a re-fighting of those two wars, and there is nothing that the Indian security forces can do to prevent it. AFP and Washington Post and South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP - India) Times of India

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China threatens military intervention in Kashmir on the side of Pakistan

We've been reporting a standoff between India's army and China's army on Doklam plateau in the tiny country of Bhutan. China is attempting to annex the region, and on June 16 sent Chinese troops and construction workers to begin road construction. Bhutan troops tried to prevent the Chinese troop incursion, but they were overrun. Bhutan invoked a treaty with India and asked for help. India sent in its own troops, creating a standoff, though no bullets have been fired. Neither the Chinese nor the Indians appear ready to back down.

A Chinese official, Long Xingchun, is threatening to use the situation on the Doklam plateau as justification for China to invade Kashmir on the side of Pakistan:

"Indian troops invaded China's Doklam area in the name of helping Bhutan, but in fact the invasion was intended to help India by making use of Bhutan. ...

India controls Bhutan's defense and diplomacy, seriously violating Bhutan's sovereignty and national interests. Indians have migrated in large numbers to Nepal and Bhutan, interfering with Nepal's internal affairs. The first challenge for Nepal and Bhutan is to avoid becoming a state of India, like Sikkim. ...

Even if India were requested to defend Bhutan's territory, this could only be limited to its established territory, not the disputed area. Otherwise, under India's logic, if the Pakistani government requests, a third country's army can enter the area disputed by India and Pakistan, including India-controlled Kashmir."

At this point, we have to remind readers that China is an international criminal, annexing the territories of other countries in the South China Sea, and building illegal military bases, in violation of international law as determined by a 2016 ruling by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague, which declared China's activities in the South China Sea to be illegal. China has used extortion and military force against some Central Asian countries to annex territories. China had apparently hoped to bully Bhutan to give up its territory without a fight, and is now furious that India is defending Bhutan's territory.

So now China is threatening India, saying that if India can send troops into Bhutan, then China can send troops into Kashmir. It's hard to see any way that this can end well. Global Times (Beijing) and New Delhi TV and South Asia Analysis Group (SAAG - India)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Jul-17 World View -- China threatens military intervention in Kashmir on the side of Pakistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Jul-2017) Permanent Link
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11-Jul-17 World View -- With ceasefire, American forces become more deeply involved in Syria's civil war

Israel OKs ceasefire, but expresses severe misgivings

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

US, Russia, Jordan agree on ceasefire deal for southwest Syria


Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump meeting at the G20 summit in Hamburg on Friday (AP)
Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump meeting at the G20 summit in Hamburg on Friday (AP)

The United States and Russia have brokered a ceasefire in a "de-escalation zone" in southwest Syria. The agreement was reached in a meeting between US president Donald Trump and Russia's president Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg on Friday. This meeting was the culmination of weeks of secret negotiations held in Amman, the capital city of Jordan. The zone to which the ceasefire applies is on Syria's borders with Jordan and Israel. Jordan and Israel were consulted during the negotiations, and are included in the agreement. Syria and Iran have agreed to the deal.

According to the Russian press, the purpose of the de-escalation zone is to help "disengage" (whatever that means) armed opposition from groups recognized as terrorists by the UN Security Council. These include the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), al-Qaeda, and al-Qaeda linked groups like Al-Nusra Front (now known as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham).

According to Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, a monitoring center will be set up in Amman, Jordan, to be used to oversee the ceasefire:

"We agreed to use a monitoring center established by Russia, the US and Jordan in Amman to coordinate all the details of functioning of these de-escalation zones."

According to Lavrov, many of the details have not be worked out. However:

In this zone [southeastern Syria, in southern Daraa, Quneitra and As-Suwayda provinces] the ceasefire regime will take effect on July 9 starting 12:00 Damascus time. The US took an obligation that all the militant groups, located there, will comply with the ceasefire.

At first, the security around this de-escalation zone will be maintained with the help of Russian military police in coordination with the Jordanians and Americans."

At the G20 summit on Friday, US secretary of state Rex Tillerson said at a news conference:

"I think this is our first indication of the US and Russia being able to work together in Syria, and as a result of that we had a very lengthy discussion regarding other areas in Syria that we can continue to work together on to de-escalate the areas."

The ceasefire took effect on Sunday at noon, Damascus time. Syrian ceasefires in the past have usually fizzled within a couple of weeks, but as of Monday evening, this ceasefire appears to be holding, with only scattered violations. Russia Today and Russia Today and Times Live (South Africa)

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Israel OKs ceasefire, but expresses severe misgivings

Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave qualified approval of the ceasefire agreement:

"Israel will welcome a genuine ceasefire in Syria but this ceasefire must not enable the establishment of a military presence by Iran and its proxies in Syria in general and in southern Syria in particular.

[We] had deep discussions about this last week with US Secretary of State Tillerson and with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Both told me that they understand Israel’s position and will take our demands into account. ...

[These demands include the following:] Prevent the strengthening of Hezbollah via Syria, with emphasis on the acquisition of precision weapons, prevent Hezbollah – or Iranian forces – from establishing a ground presence along our border, and prevent the establishment of an Iranian military presence in Syria as a whole."

According to some reports, Netanyahu is opposed to Russia's military police taking sole responsibility for monitoring the ceasefire along Syria's border, and is demanding that United States forces be involved. Reading between the lines of Lavrov's statement (quoted above), Russia appears to concur.

Although Israel is committed to avoid getting involved in Syria's war, Israel has targeted Syrian weapons convoys headed for Hezbollah to be used against Israel, and has targeted Syrian launchers when mortar shells from Syria landed in the Golan Heights. Since Russia is such a close ally of Syria and Hezbollah, Israel is insisting that Russia not be the sole guarantor of the ceasefire along its border. Israel National News and Reuters and YNet News and Israel Rising

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With ceasefire, American forces become more deeply involved in Syria's civil war

For months, Russia and the Syrian regime have complained that America's military presence in Syria is a violation of international law, because unlike Russian forces, American forces have never been invited into Syria by the Syrian regime.

The response is that with Syria's ISIS conducting terror attacks around the world, including the US and Europe, and with Syria flooding Europe with millions of refugees, the West is perfectly justified under international law to enter Syria and kill off ISIS, for its own protection and self-defense. There's no reason why the West should just sit and wait for ISIS to conduct the next terror attack, since obviously al-Assad is incapable of stopping ISIS, and may be promoting the terror attacks on Europe.

These arguments may now be mooted by the ceasefire agreement. The agreement has been approved by the Syrian regime, and it specifically invites American forces into Syria. Therefore, I assume that America's military in Syria is fully supported by international law.

However, the other side of that observation is that American forces are getting more deeply involved in the war in Syria. If the war settles down into a nice friendly peace, then that would be no problem. However, it's far more likely that the current "ceasefire" is merely serving to allow all the various forces -- the Russians, the Syrian regime, Hezbollah, the Iranian forces, the remnants of ISIS, al-Nusra, the Free Syrian Army, the Turks, the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG), and probably others -- to replenish their weapons stores and reposition their forces, in preparation for the next battle after the ceasefire collapses. This is particularly true in Deir az-Zour in eastern Syria, which will be a major battleground in the months to come.

There has been the usual mainstream media criticism of president Donald Trump for having a chaotic foreign policy, and for working closely with Russia's president Vladimir Putin, whom many Americans see as an enemy.

For example, Richard Haas, president of the Council of Foreign Relations, was interviewed on the BBC on Monday, and was asked why this president "has been reluctant to be harsh on Russia and Putin." His response:

"I think that's still a mystery for which we don't have an answer. Whether it has something to do with that, or as you know there's any number of forms of speculation. All I can say is after a couple of years, Mr. Trump is has staked out what you would call a consistently benign or sanguine view towards Russian behavior. I don't understand it on the merits, so like a lot of other people, I keep wondering whether there's something that lies behind it, and if so what? ...

I do not see [the Russians] as a natural partner of the United States in most situations."

Haas is wondering "whether there's something that lies behind it," and as regular readers are aware, there is definitely something behind it. Trump's foreign policy is not chaotic at all, but is completely consistent and principled, because his close advisor Steve Bannon deeply understands Generational Dynamics theory, and they are guided by that theory.

As I've been writing for years, Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, America and the West will be aligned with India, Russia and Iran, while China will be aligned with Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries. The Trump administration's "consistently benign and sanguine view" of Russia is guided by this analysis, and the fact that Russia will be our ally.

That's not to say that one can be sanguine about the situation in the Mideast. Everyone is united now in their determination to defeat ISIS in Mosul, Iraq, and in Raqqa, Syria. The Iraqi military declared "Mission Accomplished!" on Monday in Mosul, and victory in Raqqa is expected within weeks. After that, the increasingly vicious Shia-Sunni split will become more exposed, and any one of the warring parties in Syria may decide to take action. Washington Post/AP and Al Monitor and LA Times

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Jul-17 World View -- With ceasefire, American forces become more deeply involved in Syria's civil war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Jul-2017) Permanent Link
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10-Jul-17 World View -- Trump administration considers promoting Iran 'regime change'

Split grows between Iran's president Rouhani and hardliners

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Split grows between Iran's president Rouhani and hardliners


Iran's IRGC generals salute Supreme Leader Khamenei
Iran's IRGC generals salute Supreme Leader Khamenei

When Hassan Rouhani was reelected in Iran's presidential election on May 19, he clobbered his major opponent. Rouhani won 57% of the vote in a large turnout, a huge margin against 38% for hardline cleric Ebrahim Raissi, who was the favored candidate of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei.

Rouhani's victory came from overwhelming support of young people, who came out in large numbers because of opposition to the hardline restrictions on dress, free speech, and gender relations.

Iran is in a generational Awakening era (like America in the 1960s), when there's a "generation gap" between the generations of traumatized survivors of the previous generational crisis war (WW II for America, the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution for Iran) and those in the generations growing up after the war, with no personal appreciation of the horrors of that war.

The people in Iran's young post-war generations are now in their 30s, they are generally pro-Western and pro-American, and they have nothing in particular against Israel. They do, however, share their parents' vitriolic hatred for Saudi Arabia. The younger generations support moderates like Rouhani, and the moderates become more powerful as their supporters in the younger generations grow older, and more reach voting age. The older generations support the hardliner geezers like Khamenei, and the hardliners become weaker as the older generations retire and die off.

So it should be no surprise that Khamenei and the other hardliners, including Iran/s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) are panicking and becoming increasingly desperate, as they see their power slipping away. Rouhani's overwhelming victory on May 19 was certain to trigger this panic, as well as desperate reprisals.

The relationship between Rouhani and the IRGC has become increasingly tense in the last couple of weeks. Rouhani has openly challenged the IRGC's outsized role in Iran's economy, and has attempted to limit the IRGC's economic and political influence.

The hardliners have struck back in the last few days. Khamenei has been comparing Rouhani to Bani Sadr, who was president of Iran in 1980-81, and was impeached by parliament. A prominent hardliner said, "Those who seek to weaken Iran’s security and the IRGC are enemies of the people." Judiciary Spokesman Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei, a hardliner, views Rouhani in apocalyptic terms:

"Today, the destruction of the Basij [domestic security force] ... and the Judiciary has intensified. Looking back at past experience, a fitna [sedition, civil strife] is ahead."

All of this happened in the last couple of weeks. It's fairly certain that the rhetoric will become increasingly vitriolic, as the hardliner geezers become increasingly panicky, as they realize that they're losing power to the younger generations and the moderates.

Every generational Awakening era ends with a climax that resolves the "generation gap" with a victory of either the older or the younger generations. In America, the climax was Richard Nixon's forced resignation in 1974.

For that reason, Ejei's prediction of sedition and civil strife is interesting. Rouhani's democratic victory suggests that the Awakening era climax will end peacefully, probably with the death or resignation of Supreme Leader Khamenei. If there is violence, it will probably come from the hardliners and the IRGC, though I expect any such violence to fizzle fairly quickly. AEI Iran News (3-July) and AEI Iran News (6-July) and Al Arabiya (Riyadh) and Arab News (Riyadh)

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Trump administration considers promoting Iran 'regime change'

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who speaks regularly with White House officials about foreign policy, said last month:

"The policy of the United States should be regime change in Iran. I don’t see how anyone can say America can be safe as long as you have in power a theocratic despotism."

Last month, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the following in answer to a question during testimony to Congress:

Our policy towards Iran is to push back on [its regional] hegemony, contain their ability to develop, obviously, nuclear weapons, and to work towards support of those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of that government. ... Those elements are there certainly, as we know."

These two remarks, among others, have generated suspicion and outrage among some mainstream media commentators. Some say that this is another example of president Donald Trump's "boneheaded" or "chaotic" foreign policy, while others suggest that Trump is planning a coup or invasion of Iran.

As I've written in the past, I've worked in the past with Steve Bannon, one of Trump's closest advisors. Bannon is extremely familiar with Generational Dynamics and the work I've done, and I believe that Trump and Bannon are guided by Generational Dynamics principles and findings. In fact, I become more and more convinced of this every day, as Trump's foreign policy makes perfect sense to me from the point of view of Generational Dynamics. This is in contrast to Obama's foreign policy, when never made any sense to me at all.

Bannon and Trump are very well aware that "regime change" is coming with 100% certainty, as an Awakening era climax. Tillerson's remarks are consistent with that view, and presumably represent the views of Trump and Bannon. Tillerson was vague about his intentions for regime change, but I interpret his remarks to mean something on the level of "meddling" to encourage an awakening climax to occur sooner.

Cotton's remarks, on the other hand, do not make any sense at all. America is under no threat from the hardliners in Iran. As I've written many times, the hardliners use daily anti-American and anti-Western threats and rhetoric mainly for domestic consumption, without any intention of attacking anyone in the West, including Israel. If and when Iran attacks, it will be against Saudi Arabia.

So if we assume that Tillerson's remarks are administration policy, then what can be done to speed up the Awakening era climax, and encourage regime change? In my opinion, nothing. Some major event within Iran, such as the sudden death of Khamenei, might trigger the climax. (Or, it might not, if Khamenei is replaced by another hardliner.) I don't believe that "meddling" in Iran's affairs will do much good, but it probably won't do any real harm. However, anything more substantial, such as a coup, could badly backfire. Washington Post and Politico (25-June) and Just Security (26-June) and Asia Times

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Jul-17 World View -- Trump administration considers promoting Iran 'regime change' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Jul-2017) Permanent Link
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9-Jul-17 World View -- Iraqi forces are just 'tens of meters' away from retaking Mosul from ISIS

Recapturing Mosul from ISIS leaves the future of Iraq in question

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iraqi forces are just 'tens of meters' away from retaking Mosul from ISIS


Displaced Iraqi people flee from fighting between Iraqi forces and ISIS in the Old City of Mosul on Friday (Reuters)
Displaced Iraqi people flee from fighting between Iraqi forces and ISIS in the Old City of Mosul on Friday (Reuters)

After six months of bloody fighting, Iraqi military commanders now say that their forces are "tens of meters" away from recapturing the city of Mosul from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), which shocked the world by capturing the city in 2014 almost overnight, and took control of almost one-third of all of Iraq.

The US military is confirming that "an announcement is imminent. I don't want to speculate if it's today or tomorrow but I think it's going to be very soon."

However, there are still things that can go wrong. ISIS is claiming that it will "fight to the death" in the city. They're trying to do as much damage as possible by shooting civilians in the street, blowing up buildings, and laying IEDs to kill Iraqi soldiers.

As a diversionary attack on Friday, ISIS militants attacked Imam Gharbi village, a village south of Mosul, killing several people including two journalists.

There are still hundreds of ISIS militants remaining in Mosul, squeezed into a shrinking rectangle no more than 300 by 500 meters beside the Tigris river. It's estimated that more than 10,000 civilians remained trapped in the same region, many of whom are being used by ISIS as human shields. RFE/RL and Reuters and NRT TV (Kurdistan) and Daily Mail (London)

Recapturing Mosul from ISIS leaves the future of Iraq in question

ISIS is expected to be driven out of Mosul, its Iraq stronghold, within the next few days, and out of Raqqa, its Syria stronghold, within the next few weeks. However, it doesn't mean the end of ISIS's influence, nor does it mean that Iraq is going to return to "normalcy."

Mosul itself remains a humanitarian disaster, with little food or water. From a city of two million people, thousands have been killed and almost a million have been displaced, many living in camps outside the city. It will be years before they can all return to their homes, as almost every building in the city has been damaged or completely destroyed. The United Nations predicts it will cost more than $1 billion to repair basic infrastructure in Mosul.

After being driven out of Mosul, ISIS will be forced into mainly rural desert areas west and south of the city where tens of thousands live. From there, militants can launch terror attacks on targets across Iraq. Many of these ISIS militants will be returning to their homes, where they lived before joining ISIS.

ISIS fighters will still be able to pursue new operations in Iraq, according to Canadian Armed Forces Brig.-Gen. D.J. Anderson:

"We’ve got a good 10-12 months' worth of business [ahead of us]. When I consider how much damage we’ve inflicted and they’re still operational, they’re still capable of pulling off things like some of these attacks we’ve seen internationally. [We] have to conclude that we do not yet fully appreciate the scale or strength of this phenomenon."

Finally, there are still unfinished business between the various groups fighting ISIS. The Turks, the Kurds, and the Shia fighters were excluded from much of the battle of Mosul. Shia militias were excluded because of fears that they may turn on Sunni civilians living in Mosul, as they did in other cities recaptured from ISIS. The Kurds did much of the fighting prior to the entry into Mosul, and now are talking about an independent Kurdistan. The Turks are still furious that they were excluded from the Battle of Mosul, since Turkey has a deep historic connect to Mosul and its people. All these groups were willing to stand aside as long as they had ISIS as a common enemy. Whether they'll continue to stand aside remains to be seen. Reuters and Saudi Gazette and Daily Caller and Daily Sabah (Ankara)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Jul-17 World View -- Iraqi forces are just 'tens of meters' away from retaking Mosul from ISIS thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Jul-2017) Permanent Link
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8-Jul-17 World View -- China and India have military confrontation over Bhutan's Doklam plateau

Border tensions grow between China and India

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China and India have military confrontation over Bhutan's Doklam plateau


Chinese soldier confronts Indian soldier at border crossing (AFP)
Chinese soldier confronts Indian soldier at border crossing (AFP)

The military standoff on the border between Chinese and Indian troops at the border between China and Bhutan is no nearer resolution than it was last month, and is becoming increasingly serious, as China hardens its position and makes vitriolic threats targeting both India and Bhutan, the tiny nation between China and India.

Chinese troops and construction workers have been constructing a road through Tibet. On June 16, a column of Chinese troops accompanied by construction vehicles and road-building equipment began moving south into the Doklam plateau, which is territory of the nation of Bhutan. Bhutan's army attempted to block the Chinese troops from entering Bhutan's territory, but the Chinese troops overran the Bhutan troops. Bhutan invoked a treaty with India and asked for help. India sent in its own troops, leading to a standoff with hundreds of troops on each side, with the potential of bringing thousands more troops if the standoff escalates.

According to reports, the soldiers on each side are still unarmed, and the Chinese and Indian troops reportedly clashed by “jostling”: bumping chests, without punching or kicking, in order to force the other side backwards.

China claims the Doklam plateau is Chinese territory, and points to an 1892 treaty signed by China and colonial Britain. However, Bhutan was not party to that treaty.

At this point we have to point out, as an aside, that China is an international criminal, annexing the territories of other countries in the South China Sea, and building illegal military bases, in violation of international law as determined by a 2016 ruling by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague, which declared China's activities in the South China Sea to be illegal. China has used extortion and military force to invade and annex regions from other Central and Southeast Asian countries, including Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. China has even arrested, beaten, kidnapped and tortured its own citizens, peaceful pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. So China's reference to an 1892 treaty should simply be viewed with reference to China's past history, and treated most likely a hoax or lie or misrepresentation by self-justifying thugs. In fact, several analyses show that China's claims are invalid.

China is reduced to threatening both India and Bhutan with military violence. China is also trying to encourage some kind of "independence movement" in Bhutan, to sever all ties with India, and to put their faith in China.

China is also claiming that India has no right defend Bhutan. In fact, India was asked by Bhutan to send in troops to stop the Chinese. China likes to use its vast military complex to intimidate smaller neighbors, including Philippines, Vietnam, and some Central Asian countries. They would have succeeded in invading and annexing this region of Bhutan in the same way, if India had not come to Bhutan's aid.

Both India's prime minister Narendra Modi and China's president Xi Jinping attended the G20 summit in Hamburg, and that would have been a good place for Modi and Xi to have a meeting and try to resolve the situation diplomatically. However, China rejected the meeting because "the atmosphere is not right," presumably meaning that China wants to want for some kind of military victory. Global Times (Beijing) and India Times and Perspective (India) and Bhutan News Service (1-Jan-2013)

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Border tensions grow between China and India

No shots have been fired in military standoff so far, but China is demanding the India withdraw its troops unconditionally, which India is refusing to do. India and China had a major border war in this region in 1962, and China has been reminding India that India lost that war, and will lose the next one. India is preparing its own troop buildup in the region, and so this could break out into a major new border war at any time.

The dispute goes beyond China's attempt to annex Bhutan's Doklam plateau. The plateau, also known as Donglang in Chinese, lies at the junction of India, Bhutan, and China, near the northeastern Indian state of Sikkim. Doklam is strategically important due to its adjacency to the Siliguri Corridor, the so-called “chicken’s neck” connecting India’s seven northeastern states to its mainland. China is claiming much of these region as well, which would remove the only overland route between India and its northeastern states.

It's believed by many analysts in India that China is planning for war with India, and wants to annex these strategic regions belonging to India and Bhutan in order to gain a military advantage, in anticipation of that war. By using this kind of "salami slicing" technique, China gains control of larger and larger regions, one piece at a time. Chinese thugs have already done that in the South China Sea, where they annexed one region after another, always lying about their intentions, until now they have military control of most of it.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, China is preparing for war with the U.S., India, Russia, and several of its other neighbors.

I was watching the BBC today, and they were interviewing some pro-Beijing Hong Kong citizens about China's new aircraft carrier. These people were bubbling over with glee and enthusiasm, saying that the aircraft carrier is one more thing making China the most powerful nation in the world. The Chinese people are drunk with power, and are looking forward to war, and eagerly anticipating war, which they believe that they will win quickly against anyone in the world. In fact, they'll end up bringing devastation and destruction to most of the world, including themselves. BBC and India Times and Quartz and Australian Broadcasting and The Diplomat

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Jul-17 World View -- China and India have military confrontation over Bhutan's Doklam plateau thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Jul-2017) Permanent Link
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7-Jul-17 World View -- Donald Trump's speech in Warsaw Poland evokes the Clash of Civilizations

Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and Generational Dynamics

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Donald Trump's speech in Warsaw Poland evokes the Clash of Civilizations


A large American flag-waving crowd greets Donald Trump in Warsaw Poland on Thursday
A large American flag-waving crowd greets Donald Trump in Warsaw Poland on Thursday

When President Donald J. Trump gave his inauguration speech on January 20, I wrote that the speech links today's America to the 1930s, because it evoked the 1930s mood of nationalism and isolationism.

Thursday's speech in Warsaw Poland was even more strongly linked to the 1930s, suggesting that we're facing a Clash of Civilizations world war in the same way that Poland was devastated by World War II. The theme of isolationism was still present in remarks about the need to "protect our borders."

More interesting were the themes around nationalism. Themes about American nationalism -- pride in America and loyalty to American values -- have been broadened to encompass pride in Western civilization and loyalty to the values of Western civilization -- individual freedom, security, free speech, free expression, empowering women, striving for excellence, valuing human dignity, honoring God, treasuring the rule of law, putting faith and family at the center of our lives.

Trump gave the speech to a large, extremely enthusiastic and euphoric crowd in Warsaw, frequently chanting, "Donald Trump! Donald Trump! Donald Trump!"

The comparison is to candidate Barack Obama's speech in Berlin in July 2008. There was a large, extremely enthusiastic and euphoric crowd. As I wrote at the time in "Barack Obama in Berlin calls for greater European militarism", the lines that drew the greatest and most euphoric responses were the anti-American statements, like "Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law?"

Trump must have had the speech in mind when he delivered Thursday's speech, with its emphasis on preserving and honoring Western civilization, and particularly when he said the following:

"This is my first visit to Central Europe as President, and I am thrilled that it could be right here at this magnificent, beautiful piece of land. It is beautiful. Poland is the geographic heart of Europe, but more importantly, in the Polish people, we see the soul of Europe. Your nation is great because your spirit is great and your spirit is strong."

We can be pretty certain that phrases like "the heart of Europe" and "the soul of Europe" were directed at Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom Trump will be meeting on Friday. Merkel has openly taken on the task of proving that Trump is so awful that he is isolated in the world, and so saying that the Polish people are "the soul of Europe" is a preemptive strike.

Remembering the horrors that Poland suffered in World War II

Much of Trump's speech reminded that enthusiastic audience of the the horrors that Poland went through in World War II:

"In 1920, in the Miracle of Vistula, Poland stopped the Soviet army bent on European conquest. Then, 19 years later in 1939, you were invaded yet again, this time by Nazi Germany from the west and the Soviet Union from the east. That's trouble. That's tough.

Under a double occupation the Polish people endured evils beyond description: the Katyn forest massacre, the occupations, the Holocaust, the Warsaw Ghetto and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the destruction of this beautiful capital city, and the deaths of nearly one in five Polish people. A vibrant Jewish population -- the largest in Europe -- was reduced to almost nothing after the Nazis systematically murdered millions of Poland's Jewish citizens, along with countless others, during that brutal occupation.

In the summer of 1944, the Nazi and Soviet armies were preparing for a terrible and bloody battle right here in Warsaw. Amid that hell on earth, the citizens of Poland rose up to defend their homeland. I am deeply honored to be joined on stage today by veterans and heroes of the Warsaw Uprising."

Trump then related those horrors to today's dangers to Western civilization:

"This continent no longer confronts the specter of communism. But today we're in the West, and we have to say there are dire threats to our security and to our way of life. You see what's happening out there. They are threats. We will confront them. We will win. But they are threats.

We are confronted by another oppressive ideology -- one that seeks to export terrorism and extremism all around the globe. America and Europe have suffered one terror attack after another. We're going to get it to stop.

During a historic gathering in Saudi Arabia, I called on the leaders of more than 50 Muslim nations to join together to drive out this menace which threatens all of humanity. We must stand united against these shared enemies to strip them of their territory and their funding, and their networks, and any form of ideological support that they may have. While we will always welcome new citizens who share our values and love our people, our borders will always be closed to terrorism and extremism of any kind.

We are fighting hard against radical Islamic terrorism, and we will prevail. We cannot accept those who reject our values and who use hatred to justify violence against the innocent.

Today, the West is also confronted by the powers that seek to test our will, undermine our confidence, and challenge our interests. To meet new forms of aggression, including propaganda, financial crimes, and cyberwarfare, we must adapt our alliance to compete effectively in new ways and on all new battlefields."

Trump mentioned Russia's "destabilizing activities" and urged it to join in the fight "in defense of civilization itself." He did NOT mention the current growing crisis with regard to the North Korea, nor did he mention the growing belligerent militarization of China in the South China Sea and the development of advanced missile systems. However, he did say the following:

Americans, Poles, and the nations of Europe value individual freedom and sovereignty. We must work together to confront forces, whether they come from inside or out, from the South or the East, that threaten over time to undermine these values and to erase the bonds of culture, faith and tradition that make us who we are. If left unchecked, these forces will undermine our courage, sap our spirit, and weaken our will to defend ourselves and our societies."

I interpret the phrase "forces ... from the South or the East" as acknowledging that there are other existential threats to America and Europe, especially from North Korea and China.

Finally, he tied it all together by asking whether the West has the will to survive:

"We have to remember that our defense is not just a commitment of money, it is a commitment of will. Because as the Polish experience reminds us, the defense of the West ultimately rests not only on means but also on the will of its people to prevail and be successful and get what you have to have. The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive. Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?"

CNN and LA Times

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Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and Generational Dynamics

Whenever I listen to a speech by Donald Trump, I'm always analyzing it from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, because I know that Generational Dynamics is heavily influencing the Trump administration.

Regular readers are aware that I've worked in the past with Steve Bannon, a principal Trump advisor. I worked with him on his documentary movie "Generation Zero," and I worked with him for years since I started in 2010 cross-posting my articles on the Breitbart National Security site, where he was the editor in chief.

As I've said many times in the past, Barack Obama came into office without any clue what was going on in the world, and after 8 years in office, I've seen no evidence that he's learned anything. Trump also came into office without any clue what was going on in the world, and the only relevant question is whether, unlike Obama, he's able to learn.

It was clear when I met Steve Bannon that he was already very knowledgeable about what was going on in the world, from serving as an officer in the Navy and from attending Georgetown University.

However, Bannon also became extremely knowledgeable about my work on Generational Dynamics. I know that Bannon is extremely knowledgeable about Generational Dynamics, and I know that Bannon is very knowledgeable about the conclusions of Generational Dynamics. And I believe (though can't prove) that he actually agrees with those conclusions -- that we're headed for a Clash of Civilizations world war, where the US, Japan, India, Russia and Iran will be pitted against China, Pakistan, and the Sunni Muslim countries. And I believe that these conclusions are a big part of the motivation for Thursday's speech.

It's pretty clear to me that Trump's inauguration speech in January and his speech Thursday in Poland were completely consistent with the point of view of Generational Dynamics. Let's look at a couple of issues.

People my age have wondered all our lives how it was possible for Britain to be so thoroughly fooled by the Nazis and Adolf Hitler for years. It was perfectly obvious that the Nazi Germany was preparing for war with Britain, and Winston Churchill repeatedly warned about it, so how could British leaders have been so oblivious to the danger?

Today we know the answer, as we see how oblivious the West is to the danger from North Korea and especially from China, even though it's perfectly obvious.

For Bannon and Trump, this presents the problem that any recognition of this situation is met with mockery and ridicule by the mainstream media, just as happened to Winston Churchill. We might call this "the Neville Chamberlain effect," named after the person who declared "peace in our time" after meeting with Hitler in 1939.

So I interpret Trump's speech on Thursday as working around these problems. By giving a speech to a wildly enthusiastic crowd in Poland, and calling the Polish people "the soul of Europe," he's attempting to get around the mockery of the mainstream media, and at the same time show that Angela Merkel's views are not unanimously held among the G-20 leaders.

As long-time readers know, since 2003, There are some 4,000 articles on my web site containing hundreds of predictions, all of which have come true or are trending true. None has turned out to be false. There have been some cases, such as my analysis of the Mideast peace process in 2003, Lebanon in 2006, Sri Lanka in 2009, and Iran in the last ten years, when I've been right and pretty much the rest of the world has been wrong. There is no other web site, analyst, journalist, economist or politician in the world with a better predictive record than mine. A number of people have challenged this claim, and all have failed.

Generational Dynamics is the only methodology that tells what's actually going on in the world. Donald Trump may or may not know what's going on in the world, but Steve Bannon definitely does, and Bannon is Trump's principal advisor. It's very gratifying to me personally that Generational Dynamics is guiding the policy of America at this time of greatest peril in our history.

Trump and Bannon are trying to find a way to defeat the Generational Dynamics predictions -- by trying to goad China into blocking North Korea's nuclear development, by trying to challenge China in the South China Sea with freedom of navigation trips, and by trying to rouse the West into confronting the existential threats it faces, rather than falling into the easy Pollyannaish feelings of the Neville Chamberlain effect.

Trump said:

"Those heroes remind us that the West was saved with the blood of patriots; that each generation must rise up and play their part in its defense -- and that every foot of ground, and every last inch of civilization, is worth defending with your life."

I wish that I could say that Trump and Bannon will find a way to succeed at preventing the Clash of Civilizations world war, but Generational Dynamics tells us that's mathematically impossible. We can't even be certain that the US will survive the coming world war. The best we can hope for is that we will survive, and that history will look back at the America as having once again played its part in saving civilization.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Jul-17 World View -- Donald Trump's speech in Warsaw Poland evokes the Clash of Civilizations thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Jul-2017) Permanent Link
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6-Jul-17 World View -- Russian-led Syria peace talks collapse in Astana, Kazakhstan

Is the end of the Syrian war in sight?

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russian-led Syria peace talks collapse in Astana, Kazakhstan


Map: Russia's four de-escalation zones in eastern Syria (al-Jazeera)
Map: Russia's four de-escalation zones in eastern Syria (al-Jazeera)

Russia's plans to lead all the factions fighting in Syria to reach a negotiated peace settlement appear to have collapsed on Wednesday, when Russia, Turkey and Iran failed to agree on details of four "de-escalation zones" or "safe zones" proposed by Russia at a meeting in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan in Central Asia.

Wednesday's meeting was based on a peace plan that was signed two months ago. (See "9-May-17 World View -- Russia, Iran and Turkey announce yet another farcical new Syria peace plan".)

In that article, I listed the reasons why it was farcical. The principal reason is that it didn't include the actual parties to the Syrian war -- the Shia/Alawite regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad and the Sunni opposition. In fact, none of these actual participants in the war agreed to the terms of the agreement. That's why the talks on Wednesday collapsed.

The three countries -- Russia, Iran, and Turkey -- are supposed to be the "Guarantors" of the agreement, providing whatever troops are necessary for the functioning of the checkpoints and observation posts as well as the administration of the security zones.

News reports gave several reasons why the Astana peace talks collapsed on Wednesday:

A new meeting of the three countries is to take place in Tehran on August 1-2, with a self-imposed deadline of the last week of August to work out all the details. Reuters and AFP and Sputnik (Moscow) and VOA

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The four de-escalation zones

The map of Syria above shows the four de-escalation zones on the left (western side) of the map of Syria appearing above. The four zones, taken together, are enclaves containing over 2.5 million Sunni civilians, mostly women and children, in areas controlled variously by al-Qaeda linked or moderate opposition rebels. These millions of civilians are people that al-Assad in the past has made clear that he wants to exterminate as if they were cockroaches, and so which is why neither Assad nor the the opposition rebels were willing to sign Russia's agreement.

Here are al-Jazeera's descriptions of the four zones:

There's little agreement among all the parties as to how the so-called "Guarantors" of de-escalation zones or safe zones are going to enforce the terms of the proposed agreement.

Russia had announced on Tuesday that they would deploy the Russian military police carrying light weapons within two to three weeks, but that plan is now on hold after the peace talks collapsed on Wednesday.

Because of the difficulty in getting agreement on whose military forces will be occupying each of the safe zones, Russia has asked two Central Asian countries, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, to send some of their own soldiers as peacekeepers.

However, Kazakhstan has already refused, saying that an essential condition for sending Kazakh peacekeepers is the existence of a UN Security Council resolution and the corresponding mandate of the UN. Al-Jazeera and Sputnik News (Moscow) and Sputnik News

Is the end of the Syrian war in sight?

Last year, al-Assad's military, supported by overwhelming destructive force provided by Russia and Iran, was going to destroy the city of Aleppo. That was going to end the war because it would demoralize the opposition groups and jihadists so they would lose interest in fighting, and would go home.

At the time, Bashar al-Assad called it "history in the making":

"[The liberation of Aleppo was] history in the making and worthy of more than the word congratulations.

History is being written in these moments. Every Syrian citizen is taking part in the writing. It started not today, but years ago when the crisis and the war on Syria began.

I think that after the liberation of Aleppo we’ll talk about the situation as ... before the liberation of Aleppo and after the liberation of Aleppo."

Bashar al-Assad has proven himself to be psychopathic genocidal killer, the worst war criminal so far this century, so it's not surprising that he was totally delusional about the outcome of his slaughter of the people of Aleppo.

I've written about any number of Syria peace plans over the years. Kofi Annan, the virulently anti-American former Secretary-General of the United Nations from Ghana, was the first UN envoy on Syria. Annan formulated a farcical six-point 'peace plan' which said absolutely nothing, but which al-Assad used as a cover to continue exterminating innocent Sunni women and children with impunity.

After Kofi Annan was repeatedly humiliated by Bashar al-Assad, the UN appointed a new Syria peace envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, to replace Kofi Annan. Brahimi wasn't as much of an idiot as Annan was, but he still resigned in disgust in May 2014, after it became clear that al-Assad really had no desire to do anything but exterminate Sunni civilians. Now, the current UN envoy is Staffan de Mistura, who goes around all the time saying, "This will not be tolerated," but who accomplishes nothing except, again, to provide cover for Bashar al-Assad's atrocities.

All of these peace plans have failed because the psychopathic, delusional Bashar al-Assad doesn't want the war to end. The war will never end as long as al-Assad is in power.

The map at the beginning of this article shows how Syria is currently divided up among different militias. Russia's peace plan did not address any of this, except for four zones in the western region supposedly still controlled by al-Assad. There will be a particular dispute between Turkey and the Kurds, as the latter try to join the two yellow areas into a single Kurdish state called Rojava, and Turkey does everything possible to prevent it.

The latest fantasy about the end of the war is that the war will end in the next few weeks, due to the defeat of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) in its last two strongholds, Raqqa, Syria, and Mosul, Iraq. According to this theory, the remaining opposition forces are located in small, geographically isolated enclaves, so they won't be able to coordinate their actions into a significant fighting force.

The problem with this reasoning is that the defeat of ISIS in Raqqa and Mosul is just a simple tactical victory. It does not address the core issues that started the civil war in 2011, when al-Assad began exterminating Sunni women and children who were simply peaceful protesters.

Furthermore, defeating ISIS does not mean the end of the fighters in ISIS. As we've been reporting recently, they can flee to Deir az-Zour in eastern Syria. Scattered Sunni rebel militias can unify for the same reason as before -- to fight against al-Assad. That's the reason that tens of thousands of jihadists from 86 countries around the world came to Syria, and ended up forming ISIS. We should expect to see new versions of al-Nusra and ISIS to be formed in the weeks to come. War on the Rocks

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  • Syria and Russia see 'the light at the end of the tunnel' after Aleppo victory (18-Dec-2016)
  • (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Jul-17 World View -- Russian-led Syria peace talks collapse in Astana, Kazakhstan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Jul-2017) Permanent Link
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    5-Jul-17 World View -- In dramatic development, US warplanes smash fortified wall in Raqqa, Syria

    Turkey fears double-cross from US on arms for Syrian Kurds

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    In dramatic development, US warplanes smash fortified wall in Raqqa, Syria


    Undated photo showing the fortified wall surrounding Raqqa's Old City
    Undated photo showing the fortified wall surrounding Raqqa's Old City

    In a dramatic development, US coalition warplanes used "precision air strikes" to blow holes in two "small portions" of the heavily fortified wall surrounding the Raqqa's Old City in Syria, to allow Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighter to enter.

    According to a US Central Command (Centcom) statement:

    "Overcoming heavy ISIS [Daesh] resistance, the Syrian Democratic Forces breached the Old City of Raqqa, July 3. Coalition forces supported the SDF advance into the most heavily fortified portion of Raqqah [Raqqa] by opening two small gaps in the Rafiqah Wall that surrounds the Old City. ...

    Conducting targeted strikes on two small portions of the wall allowed Coalition and partner forces to breach the Old City at a locations of their choosing, denied ISIS the ability to use pre-positioned mines, IED and VBIEDs, protected SDF and civilian lives, and preserved the integrity of the greatest portion of the wall. ...

    Unlike ISIS who deliberately destroyed the ruins of Palmyra and the Al-Nuri mosque and uses sites such as the Rafiqa Wall, hospitals, schools and mosques as weapons storage facilities and fighting positions, Coalition forces are making a great effort to protect civilians and preserve these sites for future generations,"

    Raqqa is the major stronghold in Syria of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), and has been in the past named by ISIS as the capital of its caliphate. The SDF have been preparing for months for this final battle to recapture Raqqa from the 2,500 to 3,000 ISIS fighters that remain in the Old City.

    The 2,500 meter wall that surrounds the Old City was constructed between 771 and 775 AD. The breaching of the wall is being called the most important development to date in the battle for Raqqa, since it allowed SDF units to enter the Old City quickly and surprise ISIS forces, without having to enter at existing cracks in the wall where ISIS has planted mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

    U.N. officials say 50,000 to 100,000 civilians remain in the city amid "dire" conditions. Estimates of how long the battle of Raqqa will take range from a few days to a few weeks. AP and Rudaw (Kurdistan) and Long War Journal

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    Turkey fears double-cross from US on arms for Syrian Kurds

    The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) leading the fighting in Raqqa are led by Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), with mostly Kurdish fighters and some Arab fighters. The US considers the SDF the best fighting force in the region to defeat ISIS.

    Turkey has never hidden its opposition to using the YPG, which is linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is recognized as a terrorist group by the US and European countries. The PKK have conducted a 30-year separatist insurgency in Turkey, and in recent years have conducted some horrific terrorist attacks in Turkish cities. Turkey would have preferred to use Free Syrian Army (FSA) forced backed by Turkey for the Raqqa operation, as well as the Mosul operation in Iraq.

    US forces have been supplying advanced weapons to YPG fighters for the Raqqa battle. Turkey says that the US promised that the US would take the arms back after the battle ended, so that the weapons could not be used against Turkey.

    Now Turkish officials are furious that the US is apparently reneging on its promise to retrieve the advanced weapons. Even worse, from Turkey's point of view, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has left open the possibility of the opposite occurring: That the US will continue to supply the YPG with advanced weapons and equipment, even after Raqqa has been recaptured from ISIS.

    Mattis said that some weapons would be recovered, but when asked about further arming of the YPG, he said, "Well, we’ll see. It depends what the next mission is. I mean, it’s not like the fight’s over when Raqqa’s over."

    The criticism by Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been extremely harsh, complaining that it's a violation of the Nato treaty:

    "We will be together in NATO, and you will act together with terrorist groups. What kind of business is this?

    In this case, the NATO treaty should be revised.

    Those who think that they can fool Turkey by saying that they will get those weapons back will eventually understand the vital mistake they made, but it will be too late. We will call to account the real owners of those weapons for every drop of blood they shed with those weapons."

    Turkey points out that there have been a series of US provocations against Turkey. They claim that US officials have repeatedly lied about YPG and PKK support in Syria. The US promised to withdraw the YPG/PKK from the Syrian city of Manbij after ISIS was defeated, but the US handed control of the city over to them anyway. After that, according to Turkish news reports, it became clear these promises were mere diversions.

    Turkey is becoming concerned that the YPG/PKK are controlling larger and larger regions of northern Syria, along the border with Turkey. Last year, Turkey launched Operation Euphrates Shield, a military operation by the FSA backed by the Turkish military, to prevent the Kurds from taking control of the entire northern border of Syria, and declaring an independent Kurdish state of Rojava.

    There have been reports that Turkey is planning further military action against the Kurds in northern Syria. Reuters and Daily Sabah (Ankara) and Yeni Safak (Ankara)

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    Concerns grow about Syrian conflict after defeat of ISIS

    It's expected that it will be only a matter of days or weeks before ISIS will be defeated in both of its main strongholds, Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq. What will that mean for the Syrian conflict?

    It's well to remember how the Syrian war came about. The civil war in Syria was caused by president Bashar al-Assad when he unleashed his army and air force against peaceful protesters in 2011. Things really turned around in August 2011, when al-Assad launched a massive military assault on a large, peaceful Palestinian refugee camp in Latakia, filled with tens of thousands of women and children Palestinians. He dropped barrel bombs laden with metal, chlorine, ammonia, phosphorous and chemical weapons onto innocent Sunni women and children, he's targeted bombs on schools and hospitals, and he's used Sarin gas to kill large groups of people. He considers all Sunni Muslims to be cockroaches to be exterminated.

    Thousands of young Sunni jihadists from 86 countries around the world traveled to Syria to fight al-Assad, and they formed ISIS. At the same time, local Syrian Sunni fighters opposed to al-Assad formed the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the al-Qaeda linked al-Nusra Front, while Kurdish fighters joined Arabs and formed the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Al-Assad has driven millions of Syrians out of their homes, into Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Europe. Other forces that have entered the war include Americans, Turks, Russians, Iranians, and Hezbollah.

    All of these groups have very different objectives, but they were unified by their opposition to ISIS. With the defeat of ISIS, they have no one left to fight but each other. In particular, the Syrian people against whom Bashar al-Assad has committed years of torture and atrocities will never agree to return to the way things were before 2011.

    As regular readers know, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, Jews versus Arabs, and various ethnic groups against each other. Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, the "axis" of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the "allies," the US, India, Russia and Iran.

    The conflict in Syria is very far from ended. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, the defeat of ISIS is not the beginning of the end, but it may be the end of the beginning. Atlantic Council and Straits Times and Hurriyet (Ankara)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Jul-17 World View -- In dramatic development, US warplanes smash fortified wall in Raqqa, Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Jul-2017) Permanent Link
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    4-Jul-17 World View -- Saudi Arabia threatens further sanctions against Qatar if demands are not met

    North Korea launches another ballistic missile

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Saudi Arabia extends sanctions deadline for two days


    Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani (L) and Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al Sabah walk together on an airport tarmac in Kuwait. (AP)
    Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani (L) and Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al Sabah walk together on an airport tarmac in Kuwait. (AP)

    Sunday was the original deadline set by the four countries Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt for Qatar to meet the 13 demands that these four countries say must be met in order for the June 5 land, sea and air blockade of Qatar to be lifted. The blockade has split the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a group of Arab nations (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)) on the Arabian Gulf.

    However, at the request of Kuwait's 88-year-old emir ruler, Sheikh Sabah Al Sabah, the four countries have agreed to extend the deadline for two days, until Tuesday. Sabah has been trying to mediate an end to the crisis, as he did in another dispute in 2014 among the same parties.

    The demands listed by the Saudi-led four-nation bloc include: sever most ties with Iran; sever all ties to the Muslim Brotherhood; shut down al-Jazeera; terminate Turkey's military presence in Qatar; pay reparations and compensation for loss of life and other, financial losses caused by Qatar’s policies in recent years.

    Saudi Arabia has stated that the 13 demands are non-negotiable. Qatar has said that the demands are so harsh that they "were meant to be rejected." Some reports indicate that there's been a slight softening of positions on both sides, thanks to Kuwait's mediation, but that the two sides are still very far from agreement.

    According to one analyst:

    "The thirteen demands ... are viewed [by Qatar] as crossing all sorts of lines and essentially would see the surrender of Qatari sovereignty.

    This is not something Qatar is going to adhere to, whether the deadline is today, in two days’ time or a week’s time. [The extended deadline is] a way in which Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates can appear to be not as inflexible as their demands make out."

    Qatar has particularly said that under no circumstances will al-Jazeera be shut down. Turkey's deputy prime minister Numan Kurtulmus ridiculed the list of demands, and said that Turkey has no intention to shut down its military base in Qatar: "Turkey’s base in Qatar is not just about Qatar’s security it is about the security of the region."

    However, Mark Wallace of the Washington-based Counter Extremism Project says that Qatar harbors terrorists and is a funder of extremist groups: "Qatar has a long history of providing support for extremism and terrorism, including but not limited to vast financial and material support to internationally designated terrorist groups and willing accommodation of internationally designated or wanted terrorist leaders and financiers." Radio France Internationale and Reuters and AP and Politico

    Saudi Arabia and UAE threaten Qatar with additional sanctions

    Qatar officials and supporters are claiming that Qatar is handling the blockade and sanctions fairly effortlessly. Qatar's only land border is with Saudi Arabia, and that has been closed by the blockade, but Qatar's stores are well-stocked with food and other consumer items that have been imported from Iran and Turkey, who have been supporting Qatar.

    Furthermore, Qatar is an extremely wealthy country, with a great deal of foreign income coming from oil and gas industries. Qataris point out that the hundreds of billions of dollars in its sovereign wealth fund would cover more than a decade of imports from Iran, Turkey and other countries, even though there have been significant prices increases on groceries and other consumer items.

    However, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt are planning to meet on Wednesday to discuss additional steps to take, including new sanctions. Saudi-based economist Hussein Shobokshi says that the new sanctions will be a "terrifying tsunami" for Qatar's economy. They potentially include the following:

    According to Shobokshi, "Any Qatari funds, direct or indirect, public or private, are not welcome in these countries."

    If the GCC counties pull their deposits out of Qatar banks, it may trigger a panic on Qatar's riyal currency. In fact, the first signs of this have already appeared: Several British banks have stopped dealing in riyal currency at all, for fear that a panic will cause the riyal to go into free fall, leaving the banks with big losses on their holdings of the currency. These banks include Barclays, Lloyds Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland and Halifax Bank. The Peninsula (Qatar) and Asharq Al-Awsat (London) and The Peninsula (Qatar) and The National (UAE) and Reuters

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    North Korea launches another ballistic missile

    On Tuesday morning local time, as this article is being posted, North Korea launched what appeared to be a new ballistic missile test.

    South Korea's new president Moon Jae-in had hoped to resolve the North Korea nuclear missile crisis by means of peaceful negotiations, but Moon's Pollyannaish hopes keep getting disappointed by North Korea's actions, which make it clear that North Korea is not interested in any negotiations. Many analysts believe that North Korea will be able to deliver a nuclear weapon to American mainland soil within a year or two. Yonhap (Seoul)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Jul-17 World View -- Saudi Arabia threatens further sanctions against Qatar if demands are not met thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Jul-2017) Permanent Link
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    3-Jul-17 World View -- China builds illegal surface-to-air missile sites in South China Sea

    Xi Jinping threatens Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters with 'Red Line'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    China builds illegal surface-to-air missile sites in South China Sea


    Fiery Cross Reef continues is the most advanced of China’s illegal bases, with new missile shelters, radar/communications facilities, and other infrastructure (AMTI)
    Fiery Cross Reef continues is the most advanced of China’s illegal bases, with new missile shelters, radar/communications facilities, and other infrastructure (AMTI)

    New satellite images show that China has added reinforced launch sites for illegal surface-to-air missiles on at least three of China's illegal artificial islands in the Spratly Islands: Fiery Cross, Mischief Reef and Subi Reef.

    While unarmed launch sites are not, by themselves, a danger to anyone, they are one step away from armed launch sites. In December, China moved SA-21 anti-aircraft missile batteries with a 250-mile range to the island province of Hainan for training. For the time being, they remain inside China, but could be moved outside China to the illegal military bases in the South China Sea, where they could be used to target any aircraft, including American unarmed surveillance flights.

    China has claimed the entire South China Sea as its sovereign territory, and has built artificial islands and military bases. However, these claims and activities were declared illegal in a ruling by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague, in a case brought by the Philippines. So all of these activities by the Chinese are in violation of international law, although the Chinese don't care about international law except as it applies to the West.

    Furthermore, China promised in 2014 that the artificial islands would not be used for military purposes. That was obviously a lie, and in fact any promises that Chinese officials make can be assumed to be lies, as has been shown this week by the situation in Hong Kong.

    On Sunday, an American warship, the USS Stethem, sailed within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island, which is part of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. Triton Island is clearly in international waters, and the Stethem was performing a "freedom of navigation operation" (FONOP). These operations have been going on for years in order to defy China's illegal annexation of the South China Sea, and to establish that the South China Sea is international waters through which any ship may pass.

    However, China launched a protest, claiming that the Stethem violated its sovereignty.

    According to a statement from China's foreign ministry:

    "Under the pretext of ‘freedom of navigation,’ the US side once again sent a military vessel into China’s territorial waters off the Xisha [Paracel] Islands without China’s approval.

    The Chinese side strongly urges the US side to immediately stop such kind of provocative operations that violate China’s sovereignty and threaten China’s security. The Chinese side will continue to take all necessary means to defend national sovereignty and security.

    China dispatched military vessels and fighter planes in response to warn off the US vessel. The Chinese side is dissatisfied with, and opposed to, the relevant behavior of the US side."

    China actually has no sovereignty to be "violated" in that region, as the United Nations Hague Tribunal has ruled, but Chinese thugs do what they want irrespective of international law.

    As regular Generational Dynamics readers know, China has been aggressively preparing for full-scale war with the United States for years. They've developed one nuclear ballistic missile system after another, and manufactured perhaps hundreds of those missiles, with no other purpose than to destroy American cities, military bases and aircraft carriers. In the South China Sea, China has been building illegal artificial islands and illegal military bases, clearly in preparation to declare war on its neighbors. Generational Dynamics predicts that, at a time of its choosing, China will launch a preemptive war against its neighbors and against the United States. Fox News and Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative and News.com (Australia)

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    Xi Jinping threatens Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters with 'Red Line'

    During his speech on Saturday at the 20th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China, China's president Xi Jinping made the claim that the "One Country, Two Systems" was still in effect, meaning that Hong Kong residents still had freedom of speech free elections, press freedom, and an independent judiciary.

    The claim is laughable, as we reported two days ago. In 2014, Beijing thugs triggered the anti-Beijing "Umbrella Movement" by blocking any future free elections. In 2015, Chinese thugs kidnapped five Hong Kong booksellers who had published material critical of Beijing's leadership. And just as Xi Jinping was making his laughable claim that "One Country, Two Systems" is still in effect, the Beijing foreign minister announced that it was repudiating the agreement with Britain that had described the "One China, Two Systems" agreement.

    Hong Kong police have been harassing and jailing pro-democracy demonstrators all week, making sure that no freedom of speech will be permitted.

    At his speech on Saturday, Xi Jinping drew a "Red Line," warning anyone that any attempts to undermine sovereignty or to challenge Beijing's power would be severely punished:

    "Any attempt to endanger national sovereignty and security, challenge the power of the central government and the authority of the Basic Law of the HKSAR (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region) or use Hong Kong to carry out infiltration and sabotage activities against the mainland is an act that crosses the red line, and is absolutely impermissible."

    So Xi Jinping is just one more thug who threatens even peaceful pro-democracy protesters with severe punishment. Xinhua and LA Times

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Jul-17 World View -- China builds illegal surface-to-air missile sites in South China Sea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Jul-2017) Permanent Link
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    2-Jul-17 World View -- Fed Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen says 'no financial crisis in our lifetimes'

    Remembering Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke as Fed Chairmen

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Fed Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen says 'no financial crisis in our lifetimes'


    Fed Chairman Janet Yellen
    Fed Chairman Janet Yellen

    Janet Yellen, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, the successor to Ben Bernanke and Alan Greenspan, held a press conference on Tuesday of last week, during which she said that she believes that there will be no new financial crisis "in our lifetimes":

    "Would I say there will never, ever be another financial crisis?

    You know probably that would be going too far but I do think we're much safer and I hope that it will not be in our lifetimes and I don't believe it will be."

    Yellen said that the reason she believes that there won't be a financial crisis "in our lifetimes" is because the Fed is much more clever and vigilant now about detecting risks, having learned lessons from the last financial crisis:

    "I think the system is much safer and much sounder. We are doing a lot more to try to look for financial stability risks that may not be immediately apparent but to look in corners of the financial system that are not subject to regulation, outside those areas in order to try to detect threats to financial stability that may be emerging.

    After the financial crisis, those who see the damage in that type of thinking have played a major role in ensuring that we have a more appropriate system of supervision and regulation, hopefully for a good long time."

    This is such a bizarre, naïve statement, that it's hard to know what to make of it. Yellen is expressing precisely the attitude that's always been prevalent prior to every financial crisis in world history. Politicians say "This time it's different," and "We've learned our lessons," and "It can't happen this time." And it doesn't happen this time, until it does.

    Actually, the lessons from the last financial crisis haven't been learned at all. The Fed and central banks around the world have been "printing" hundreds of trillions of dollars, and governments around the world have been borrowing that money and going into new debt at an exponentially increasing rate. We've recently been reporting that it's too late for Illinois and Puerto Rico, which have gone into so much debt there's literally no hope of every paying it off.

    This is true all around the world. According to a new report by the Institute of International Finance, global debt has reached $217 trillion in the first quarter of this year, and that's 327% of gross domestic product for the whole world.

    China in particular poses an enormous risk. China's total debt surpassed 304% of GDP as of May 2017, according to the IIF.

    Janet Yellen apparently believes that all this is no problem, that if a problem does arise, then the Fed or some other central bank can just print another trillion dollars in free money and use it to patch up the problem. So we have nothing to worry about.

    Reuters and CNBC and CNBC

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    Examining the stock market bubble

    I started paying attention to the Fed in 2002, after seeing a huge graph of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) from 1920 to the present in the Boston Globe. I took one look at the graph and could see that it was perfectly obvious that we were in a stock market bubble. Later, of course, I did the calculations and verified it.

    There are many reasons why I believe that mainstream economists are airheads, and one of them is the belief that you can't detect a bubble until after it occurs. In the case of the DJIA, it's rather simple. If you analyze historical values of the DJIA, you find that in the 90-year period from 1904 to 1994 it grew at an average of 4.5% per year, including inflation. So since the DJIA started growing much more rapidly than 4.5% per year, starting in 1995, the you know that it's in a growing bubble. Today, the DJIA is at 258% of its long-term trend value, as determined by the 4.5% growth rate, so we can be sure that the DJIA is in an enormous bubble. In fact, it was at 255% of the trend value when the crash began in 1929, and fell to only 24% of the trend value by 1932, after several years of crashing.

    Another thing that mainstream economists are incapable of grasping is the concept of "Reversion of the Mean." This means that the average (or mean) of a value must be the same in the future as it was in the past.

    This is easiest to explain with the S&P 500 Price Earnings ratio (p/e ratio). The historic average value of the p/e ratio is 14, but since the 1990s, it's been well above the average, and today it's around 24.

    Now, airhead economists use the erroneous phrase "Reversion TO the Mean," and they say you should be prepared for the p/e ratio to revert to its mean value of 14. This would be a significant stock market correction, but it's only a small part of the story.

    If the p/e ratio only reverts to 14, then that means for the last 20 years, the average (or mean) value was well above 14. That doesn't satisfy the requirement that the average before 1995 was 14, and so after 1995 it also has to be 14. That's why we say "Reversion OF the Mean," which says that the average value must return to 14, which means that the p/e ratio would have to fall to around 5 for 20 years, just as it was well above 14 for the last 20 years. This portends major stock market crash.

    The members of the Federal Reserve are some of the major economists of our time, each with huge staffs to do research. And yet, Janet Yellen says that the Fed has everything under control, and there won't be a financial crisis "in our lifetimes." It's just absolutely bizarre.

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    Remembering Alan Greenspan as Fed Chairman

    The bizarre statement by current Fed Chairman Janet Yellen is inciting feelings of nostalgia in me to remember the days of her predecessors. Since I started writing Generational Dynamics analyses in 2003, there have been two prior Fed chairmen, Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke. Let's start with Greenspan.

    Another reason why I consider mainstream economists, or at least mainstream economics journalists and analysts, to be airheads is because of how they covered the Alan Greenspan years at the Fed. Throughout the early 2000s, they would make a "Greenspeak" or "Fed speak" joke that when Greenspan gave a speech or statement he could not be understood because he used convoluted language. So the so-called economics experts would say that they simply couldn't understand what Greenspan was saying. That whole excuse was totally ridiculous. I didn't understand what he was saying all the time either, but then I would go to the Federal Reserve web site and read the transcript of his speech. After reading it three or four times, even the convoluted language made sense. So I formed the opinion that any economics journalist or economist who said that he couldn't understand Greenspan because of convoluted language was an airhead -- and there were a lot of people like that.

    So I was carefully following Greenspan during 2003, 2004, and 2005 to see what he thought of the growing stock market and housing bubbles. All my articles are on my web site, but to summarize: Early in 2004, he said there were no bubbles. In August 2004, he said that there was a housing bubble, but that it was a good thing, because homeowners could mortgage their homes, borrowing money on their homes, and have extra money to spend. In November 2004, he had a front-page interview with the Wall Street Journal admitting that he had known since 1996 that there was a stock market bubble, but decided to ignore it, and deal with it when it began to grow. Early in 2005, he completely reversed himself, and repudiated his earlier reasoning, saying that the bubble was growing. By the end of 2005, and his tenure as Fed president, Greenspan was saying that high asset prices were becoming very dangerous, and that " history has not dealt kindly with the aftermath of protracted periods of low risk premiums."

    My web site was pretty much the only place in the world where you could read this description of Greenspan's change of mind, as it was going on. You'd think it would be big news when Greenspan repudiated his own reasoning early in 2005, but there was not a word in the mainstream media, apparently because the airheads at the Wall Street Journal and CNBC were too dumb to understand his "convoluted language."

    The other amazing thing is that Greenspan himself is apparently too embarrassed to admit that he predicted the housing bubble. He clearly discussed it in his speeches in 2004-5, but never referred to those speeches later. Apparently he was afraid that if he admitted that he knew what was going on, then he'd be blamed for it.

    To me, Greenspan's story is one of the most amazing of the 2000s decade.

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    Remembering Ben Bernanke as Fed Chairman

    Alan Greenspan was born in 1926, and lived through the Great Depression, so when he became alarmed in 2005, it must have been because he recognized all the signs of impending disaster from his childhood.

    Ben S. Bernanke was born in 1953 and grew up during the 1950s, when America had already defeated the Great Depression and defeated the Nazis, and no goal was out of reach. He was in college in the 1970s when high inflation was the major problem, so naturally inflation was his greatest concern as Fed Chairman.

    As I described in my 2005 article, "Ben S. Bernanke: The man without agony", Bernanke was a complete contrast to Greenspan. Bernanke didn't believe in bubbles. He believed that the 1930s Great Depression was CAUSED by the Fed -- which could have poured some money into the economy and prevented the Great Depression completely.

    Ben Bernanke's story is not yet completely over. In 2008, during the financial crisis, his policy was to "print" as much money as he thought necessary, and pour it into the banking system. He did that, and central banks around the world followed him and did the same.

    That's why global debt has reached $217 trillion in the first quarter of this year, and that's 327% of gross domestic product for the whole world. The current Fed chairman Janet Yellen says that the Fed has this all figured out. If some segment of the world economy starts crashing, threatening a chain reaction that will cause a catastrophic global financial crisis, Yellen and the other central bankers will just print money and stop the chain reaction. So we have nothing to worry about.

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Jul-17 World View -- Fed Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen says 'no financial crisis in our lifetimes' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Jul-2017) Permanent Link
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    1-Jul-17 World View -- China repudiates its Hong Kong 'One Country, Two Systems' agreement with Britain

    Hong Kong handover celebration marred by thuggish treatment of dissidents

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    China repudiates its Hong Kong 'One Country, Two Systems' agreement with Britain


    China's president Xi Jinping (center) and his wife in Hong Kong on Friday, surrounded by Hong Kong officials (AP)
    China's president Xi Jinping (center) and his wife in Hong Kong on Friday, surrounded by Hong Kong officials (AP)

    No one really expected China to fully honor the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration that led to the handover in 1997 of Hong Kong to China, after 152 years as a British colony.

    In the Joint Declaration, China promised to honor the principle of "One Country, Two Systems." In particular, citizens of Hong Kong were to have civil liberties and fundamental rights such as political freedom, free elections, press freedom, freedom of speech, and an independent judiciary. The people of Hong Kong had enjoyed these fundamental rights as a British colony, and China committed to preserving them for at least 50 years following the handover, until 2047.

    However, China's Foreign Ministry on Friday repudiated the 1984 agreement once and for all. According to spokesman Lu Kang:

    "Now that Hong Kong has returned to the embrace of the motherland for 20 years, the Sino-British Joint Declaration – as a historical document – no longer has any practical significance.

    It also does not have any binding power on how the Chinese central government administers Hong Kong. Britain has no sovereignty, no governing power and no supervising power over Hong Kong. I hope the relevant parties will reckon with this reality."

    Britain's Foreign Office responded:

    "The Sino-British Joint Declaration remains as valid today as it did when it was signed over thirty years ago ... It is a legally binding treaty, registered with the UN and continues to be in force. As a co-signatory, the UK government is committed to monitoring its implementation closely."

    The exchange of views followed a remark by Britain's Foreign Minister Boris Johnson: "I want to stress that Britain’s commitment to Hong Kong – enshrined in the Joint Declaration with China – is just as strong today as it was 20 years ago."

    The US State Dept. also chastised China: "[China must uphold] Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and the crucial ideal of ‘One Country, Two Systems’, as codified in the Basic Law and the legally binding Sino-British Joint Declaration." Hong Kong Free Press and Reuters and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and iPolitics (Canada)

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    Hong Kong handover celebration marred by thuggish treatment of dissidents

    With China's president Xi Jinping visiting Hong Kong to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Britain's handover of Hong Kong to China, Hong Kong police are taking special measures to suppress any sign of dissidence.

    On Wednesday, about 30 young protesters were arrested after staging a pro-democracy sit-in at the site of the July 1, 1997, handover. In other actions, Hong Kong police warned journalists to avoid any actions unrelated to reporting, and said that digital media outlets will be barred from covering the celebrations.

    Locking up peaceful protests could be considered one of the more benign actions of the thuggish Chinese government. In 2015, five Hong Kong book publishers mysteriously disappeared after publishing books critical of China's communist leadership. They resurfaced a year ago and described being abducted by thugs and kept for months in solitary confinement in a cramped cell in mainland China. They were tortured and required to confess to crimes they had not committed.

    Other actions could be considered even worse. Chinese nationals living in the United States and Europe who posted criticisms of China's communist party have had their families back in China abducted and jailed.

    This is the backdrop to Xi Jinping's speech on arriving in Hong Kong:

    "After nine years, I am happy to step on Hong Kong land again. In two days, it will be the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the motherland. This is a big event, a celebratory event for the country and Hong Kong.

    [I give] my warm congratulations to the great achievements over the 20 years since the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region... [I give my] heartfelt blessing that Hong Kong will achieve new success.

    For 20 years, the central government has given Hong Kong its strong backing. The central government will always support Hong Kong’s development and improve livelihoods.

    We will review the extraordinary journey of Hong Kong over the past 20 years across all sectors, summarize the experience and plan for the future, to ensure ‘One Country, Two Systems’ will be stable and everlasting."

    This is a politician speaking, and I don't think that even he is so delusional that he believes that that Hong Kong's form of government will be stable and everlasting. Like Taiwan, Hong Kong is deeply divided between those who are completely loyal to the government in Beijing, and those who are not, wanting anything from Western-style fundamental rights to full independence.

    Xi and other Beijing officials are well aware that time is not on their side. Younger generation, particularly those who grew up after the horrific Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, where China's army massacred perhaps thousands of students who had gathered in Beijing to protest, are less and less loyal to Beijing and more and more supported of separation or independence. This trend is continuing in both Hong Kong and Taiwan, and Beijing officials are desperately trying to change the trend, either by self-serving speeches by Xi and others, or by bloody crackdowns by Chinese thugs.

    Although China never really supported the "One Country, Two Systems" philosophy, the worst and bloodiest violence by Hong Kong police thugs occurred in the summer of 2014, when tens of thousands of Hong Kong citizens, mostly college age, staged a series of pro-democracy protests, bring central Hong Kong to a standstill.

    The police attacked the protesters with tear gas, and the protesters defended themselves with umbrellas to protect themselves from the tear gas. The sight of bright yellow umbrellas became commonplace, and the protests have become known as the "Umbrella Revolution" or "Umbrella movement."

    What sparked the Umbrella Movement was that Beijing reneged on its commitment to "one country, two systems," in particular to the commitment to free elections. For the approaching 2017 elections, the only candidates who will be permitted to be run have to be approved a "nominating committee" completely controlled by Beijing. So the effect is that the so-called "free" elections are rigged to guarantee that only candidates selected by Beijing can win the elections.

    The Umbrella Movement was considered a complete failure by its participants because nothing has changed. The demands to allow free elections in 2017 were ignored, and it's clear to everyone, especially the young people who protested, that peaceful protests will not succeed in changing anything, and that something else must be tried. Washington Post and Guardian (London, 17-June-2016) and CS Monitor (29-Mar-2016) and Hong Kong Free Press

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Jul-17 World View -- China repudiates its Hong Kong 'One Country, Two Systems' agreement with Britain thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Jul-2017) Permanent Link
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    30-Jun-17 World View -- Italy begs for help after 12,000 migrants arrive in four days

    France struggles with hundreds of migrants returning to Calais campground

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    France struggles with hundreds of migrants returning to Calais campground


    Migrants from Africa arrive in Italy on a rescue ship
    Migrants from Africa arrive in Italy on a rescue ship

    In October of last year, France finally demolished the refugee camp known as "The Jungle." It was populated by about 7,000 migrants, who came there hoping to reach Britain, where they could apply for asylum. When the camp was demolished, they were given the choice of either being deported back to their home countries, or of staying in some 300 temporary refugee centers across France, where they can apply for asylum.

    However, many of them left Calais on their own, and went to the Grande-Synthe refugee camp in Dunkirk, which became known as "the New Jungle." The camp had been built by Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), and included hundreds of wooden huts. The camp opened in March 2016 as the first camp in France to meet international humanitarian standards, where migrant families could live in relatively dignified conditions in heated wooden cabins.

    The Dunkirk camp had a capacity of 700, and was severely overcrowded, eventually housing 1,600. Furthermore, many of the new arrivals from The Jungle, who were mostly Afghans, didn't get along with the original migrants, who were mostly Iraqi and Kurdish. There were multiple fights between groups of migrants of different nationalities, with some 600 migrants taking part in the fighting. In March of this year, the Grande-Synthe refugee camp, including all the wooden huts, burnt to the ground, leaving nothing but ashes. According to French officials, multiple fires must have been set on purpose.

    So now, three months later, it's June, the weather is great, and hundreds of migrants are flooding back into Calais. Officials are refusing to build a proposed reception center for asylum-seekers to Calais, saying that it would only encourage more people to come.

    According to France's Interior Minister Gerard Collomb, part of the government of the new president Emmanuel Macron:

    "We've seen this before, it starts with a few hundred people and ends with several thousand people who we can't manage. That's why we don't want a center here."

    Humanitarian non-government organizations (NGOs) are trying to feed the 400-600 migrants currently "living rough" in Calais, but complain that they are being harassed by Calais police. So 11 NGOs sued the local authorities, saying that they have "prevented" the distribution of food to hundreds of migrants.

    The court rejected the request to set up a new emergency center to shelter migrants in Calais, but also ruled that the migrants should be allowed to receive humanitarian add. Furthermore, judges ordered officials, within 10 days, to establish several drinking fountains, toilets and showers for migrants who are "exposed to inhuman and degrading conditions” in the area. The judge said, "It is not possible to leave these people, who are in a state of complete destitution without any aid." AFP (23-June) and France 24 and The Local (France)

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    Italy begs for help after 12,000 migrants arrive in four days

    Italy has threatened to close all of its ports to ships of foreign NGOs carrying migrants and refugees, after being overwhelmed by the arrival of 12,000 migrants in four days on 22 ships. The UN Migration Agency said 8,863 migrants were rescued trying to reach Italy from Libya, and the EU’s border agency Frontex said its boats had recovered an additional 2,700 people.

    About 76,000 migrants have arrived since January, and some estimates say that 220,000 people could land in Italy by the end of 2017.

    The ships cross the Mediterranean Sea from Libya and mostly contain African refugees. In one Italian port in Reggio Calabria alone, 1,066 people disembarked from the Save the Children rescue ship Vos Hestia on Thursday. Among them were 241 unaccompanied minors.

    According to a European Council official:

    "In recent years people smugglers have launched massive numbers at the same time. But this year we are witnessing levels never registered before in such short periods of time.

    Loss of life and continuing migratory flows of primarily economic migrants on the central Mediterranean route is a structural challenge and remains an issue of urgent and serious concern.

    The EU and its member states must restore control to avoid a worsening humanitarian crisis."

    Italy agrees that the EU must restore control. Italy says that it is unable to cope with this year's expected flood of refugees, and is demanding help from the European Union, or else it will close all its ports to ships carrying migrants. Since the rescue operations do not take place in Italian waters, Italy is under no obligation under international law to take the refugees in, according to some experts. Analysts say that this would be a humanitarian catastrophe because the ships would have to be diverted to other countries, for which they have inadequate provisions.

    One of the NGOs operating rescue boats said that it understood the pressure that Italy was under, but:

    "However, we also believe that closing the ports of safety to people seeking refuge from war, violence and poverty cannot be the solution. We would like to stress again that NGOs are not the cause, nor the solution to this humanitarian crisis. Without our presence at sea, even more people would die."

    The kind of help that Italy would like is that refugees arriving in Italy should be distributed to other European countries, but there isn't a snowflake's chance in hell that will happen. In 2015, the EU agreed that 160,000 asylum seekers should be relocated from Greece and Italy to other member states, in the name of burden-sharing. To date, only about 22,500 of the 160,000 have actually been transferred. Several central and eastern European EU members - including large countries like Hungary and Poland - have absolutely refused to take in any asylum-seekers.

    However, some EU officials are offering Italy financial aid.

    Italy's threat may be based in politics, in the wake of of a Sunday local election rout for the ruling center-left Democratic Party, which several commentators blamed on public discontent with rising immigration and government proposals to grant citizenship to children of foreign residents. The opposition Forza Italia party of former premier Silvio Berlusconi - seen as one of the winners of the local elections - said the government had responded to its urgings for a tougher line on migration. Deutsche-Presse Agentur (dpa) and VOA and Guardian (London)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Jun-17 World View -- Italy begs for help after 12,000 migrants arrive in four days thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Jun-2017) Permanent Link
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    29-Jun-17 World View -- Thousands in cities across India protest lynchings of Muslims and Dalits by cow vigilantes

    Concerns grow over communal violence between Hindus and Muslims

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Thousands in cities across India protest lynchings of Muslims and Dalits by cow vigilantes


    A protester in Hyderabad, India, on Wednesday holds up a sign saying 'Stop Lynching' (AP)
    A protester in Hyderabad, India, on Wednesday holds up a sign saying 'Stop Lynching' (AP)

    Thousands of Indians demonstrated in cities across India on Wednesday against lynchings and attacks on men and boys by cow vigilantes. Cows are held sacred in the Hindu religion. The protests took place in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, Lucknow, and other cities.

    The slogan for the protests was "Not in my name," because some people justified the lynchings in the name of the Hindu religion. Other banners read "Stop Cow Terrorism," "stand up to Hindu terrorism" and "say no to Brahminism." Some protesters referred to India as "Lynchistan."

    Last Friday, in a train on the outskirts of New Delhi, a mob of 20 people fatally stabbed 16-year-old Muslim Junaid Khan after an argument over seats that turned into a lynching when the mob accused him and three others of being "beef-eaters." Khan was thrown off the train, where he bled to death.

    Although the train was packed with commuters, witnesses have refused to come forward. However, four people, including two employees of the government of Delhi, have been identified and arrested as perpetrators.

    There have been five cow vigilante killings in the last three months, almost all of them in broad daylight.

    On April 1, Pehlu Khan, a Muslim cattle trader, was lynched by a mob in the western state of Rajasthan as he transported cattle he had bought at an animal fair back to his home state of Haryana. Khan and his family were small dairy farmers.

    In May, two Muslim men were beaten to death over allegations of cattle theft in India's northeast.

    However, Muslims are not the only ones being targeted by cow vigilantes. There have also been lynchings of people in the "untouchable" caste Dalit, many of whom have jobs related to cows, such as disposing of dead cows. Four Dalits in Gujarat were brutally beaten by cow vigilantes in August of last year for allegedly killing a cow, which later investigation revealed to have been killed by a lion.

    Many Indians are pointing the finger at president Narendra Modi and his ruling BJP party (Bharatiya Janata Party), which are strongly supportive of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism). They point out that BJP politicians are silent when a Muslim is lynched by cow vigilantes, but they were outraged over the recent public slaughter of a calf by Youth Congress activists in Kerala. They say that the silence of Modi and the BJP are, in effect, inciting violence against Muslims and Dalits by cow vigilantes. New Delhi TV and Daily Sabah (Turkey) and Al Jazeera (Doha) and Free Press Journal (India)

    Concerns grow over communal violence between Hindus and Muslims

    According to a study by the IndiaSpend organization, cow vigilante attacks began in 2010, but have gotten much worse since Narendra Modi and the ruling BJP party came to power in 2014.

    According to the IndiaSpend report, since 2010 cow vigilantes targeted Muslims 51% of the time. 86% of the Indians killed in 63 incidents were Muslims. As many as 124 people were also injured in these attacks. More than half (52%) of these attacks were based on unsubstantiated rumors.

    2017 has been the worst year so far over slaughtering of cattle or possessing cattle meat, with 20 cow-terror attacks reported.

    The targets were Muslim in 51% of the cases, Hindus of Dalit caste in 8% of the cases, 15% Hindu of undetermined caste, 5% Sikh, and 1.6% Christian.

    Hindu veneration of cows is an extremely emotional issue in India, and has played an important part in India's last two generational crisis wars. The bloody 1857 rebellion against British colonists was triggered when Indian soldiers serving under the command of the British army were ordered to use a new kind of gun cartridge greased with tallow, which was allegedly made of beef and pork fat. Rumors spread rapidly that the British defiling the bodies of the soldiers by breaking their castes, which was the punishment for eating beef.

    The next generational crisis war was the Partition war of 1947, which followed the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan. The debate over whether to create one or two countries was settled by the argument that Hindus and Muslims can't live together because Muslims can't stand pigs and Hindus can't eat cows.

    The rise of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) and cow veneration in the last few years, combined with the rapidly growing violence in Kashmir, signals that the fault line between Hindus and Muslims in India is growing again, and that the old passions that led to the bloody 1857 Rebellion and the even more bloody 1947 Partition war are reviving again. DNA India and IndiaSpend and India Times and Washington Post

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Jun-17 World View -- Thousands in cities across India protest lynchings of Muslims and Dalits by cow vigilantes thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Jun-2017) Permanent Link
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    28-Jun-17 World View -- As Narendra Modi visits Washington, China threatens India after border clash

    Trump, meeting Modi in Washington, approves sale of 22 drones to India

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    China threatens India over military border clash in Sikkim state


    Narendra Modi and Donald Trump hugging during their meeting (AP)
    Narendra Modi and Donald Trump hugging during their meeting (AP)

    Decades of disputes on the Himalayan border between China's Sikkim state and China's Tibet province were renewed this month in more than ten days of confrontations between Chinese and Indian troops.

    The confrontation began early in June. China accuses India of sending border guards to cross into what China calls its "sovereign territory" in Sikkim, and said that the guards had "obstructed normal activities" by Chinese forces building roads connecting coal mines.

    An article titled "Indian troops’ provocation brings disgrace to themselves" in China's state media Global Times makes a number of vitriolic accusations and threats directed at India:

    "Chinese and Indian soldiers are locked in a face-off at the Sikkim section of the China-India border after Indian troops crossed the boundary and entered Chinese territory. ...

    It remains unclear whether this flare-up is the fault of low-level Indian troops or a tentative strategic move made by the Indian government. Whatever the motive, China must stick to its bottom line. It must force the Indian troops to retreat to the Indian side by all means necessary, and China's road construction mustn't be stopped.

    India's national confidence has been greatly boosted with its GDP rising to fifth in the world. The fact that the US and West are willing to woo India to counterbalance China has particularly added to Indians' sense of strategic superiority.

    Some Indians believe the US and Japan are building a circle to contain China, and India has an advantage over China by choosing whether to join this circle. Therefore, they can indulge themselves on issues including border disputes, while China has no choice but to make concessions. ...

    China avoids making an issue of border disputes, which has indulged India's unruly provocations. This time the Indian side needs to be taught the rules.

    India cannot afford a showdown with China on border issues. It lags far behind China in terms of national strength and the so-called strategic support for it from the US is superficial. China has no desire to confront India. Maintaining friendly ties with New Delhi is Beijing's basic policy. But this must be based on mutual respect. It's not time for India to display arrogance toward China. India's GDP is only one-quarter of China's and its annual defense budget is just one-third. Having a friendly relationship and cautiously handling border issues with China is its best choice."

    In retaliation, China has blocked the entry of 400 Indians making an annual pilgrimage to a holy site in Tibet.

    Following a policy of downplaying border conflicts, India has been relatively silent about this month's confrontation. An Indian media story entitled "India pushes back Chinese Army in Sikkim" says:

    "A standoff running into more than 10 days now between Indian and Chinese troops has led to tension on the eastern frontier. There was also a scuffle as Indian troops pushed back their Chinese counterparts who made attempts to enter Indian territory at Doka La general area in Sikkim.

    Sources said the confrontation began about two weeks ago but a flag meeting was called on June 20 after two earlier attempts failed.

    "The situation is still tense," said a government official.

    There are reports of two Indian bunkers also being damaged.

    Indian soldiers formed a human chain to stop the Chinese troops, sources said."

    There is an ill-defined border some 4,000 km (2,500 miles) between China and India, of which 220 km fall in Sikkim. There was a major border war in 1962, and there have numerous minor clashes and incursions since then, although nothing has been settled.

    The destruction of two Indian bunkers is a Chinese military response to India's continuing buildup of its military infrastructure in the Himalayas, and the apparent planning of an effective counter-thrust in the event of a conflict.

    Analysts say that China has exhibited greater aggressiveness along the border since April of this year, when the Dalai Lama visited a region of northeast India claimed by China. Global Times (Beijing) and DNA India (New Delhi)

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    Trump, meeting Modi in Washington, approves sale of 22 drones to India

    Some analysts believe that China provoked the military confrontation in Sikkim because of the planned Tuesday meeting of India's prime minister Narendra Modi with president Donald Trump in Washington, and because news stories had signaled greater military cooperation between India and the US, as well as seeing China as a common challenge.

    The major military outcome of the meeting was the Trump administration's approval of the sale of 22 Guardian maritime drones to India, worth about $2 billion. India had requested to buy the drones late last year, but president Barack Obama left the decision to the new administration. The drones will be unarmed, and will be used for gathering intelligence over the India Ocean.

    It's against American policy to sell an armed drone to a non-Nato country, India has indicated that it may purchase armed drones from Israel.

    The joint statement following the meeting between Modi and Trump did not mention China by name, but set out principles that are "central to peace and stability" in the Indo-Pacific region. These principles were clearly directed at China, with additional text specifically directed at North Korea:

    "In accordance with the tenets outlined in the U.N. Charter, they committed to a set of common principles for the region, according to which sovereignty and international law are respected and every country can prosper. To this end, the leaders:

    • reiterate the importance of respecting freedom of navigation, overflight, and commerce throughout the region;
    • call upon all nations to resolve territorial and maritime disputes peacefully and in accordance with international law;
    • support bolstering regional economic connectivity through the transparent development of infrastructure and the use of responsible debt financing practices, while ensuring respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, the rule of law, and the environment; and
    • call on other nations in the region to adhere to these principles. ...

    The leaders strongly condemned continued provocations by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), emphasizing that its destabilizing pursuit of nuclear and ballistic missile programs poses a grave threat to regional security and global peace. The leaders called on DPRK to strictly abide by its international obligations and commitments. The leaders pledged to work together to counter the DPRK’s weapons of mass destruction programs, including by holding accountable all parties that support these programs."

    The items listed above allude to China's invasion and annexation of the South China, which is a violation of international law, and calls for freedom of navigation throughout the region.

    The third item in the list alludes to China's "One Belt One Road" (OBOR) project. India has rejected the OBOR project, saying that the massive infrastructure projects violate India's sovereignty in Kashmir. The appearance of this item in the joint statement indicates that the Trump administration agrees with India's objections to the OBOR project.

    Needless to say, these statements have infuriated China. According to China state media, if the US "cozies up" to India, it could lead to "catastrophic results," which presumably means a war between India and China:

    "Washington's pursuit of closer ties with New Delhi is mainly driven by its strategic need to utilize India as a tool to counterbalance China. ...

    Washington and New Delhi share anxieties about China's rise. In recent years, to ratchet up geopolitical pressure on China, the US has cozied up to India. But India is not a US ally like Japan or Australia. To assume a role as an outpost country in the US' strategy to contain China is not in line with India's interests. It could even lead to catastrophic results. If India regresses from its non-alignment stance and becomes a pawn for the US in countering China, it will be caught up in a strategic dilemma and new geopolitical frictions will be triggered in South Asia.

    In an era when emerging countries have been playing an increasingly important role in global affairs, if India, an important participant in two non-Western organizations - the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS - can firmly stand together with China in striving for more discourse power, it will be helpful for New Delhi to realize its big power ambitions.

    From the end of the 1950s to the beginning of the 1960s, both the Soviet Union and the US wanted to play the India card to check China. Then the Kennedy government supported India's Forward Policy. But the result wasn't what was expected. India isn't able to balance China, which has been proved by history. New Delhi should avoid being roped into a geopolitical trap. Despite its anxieties over China's rise, maintaining a stable relationship with China is of more importance to its security and development."

    The sale of drones to India, and the apparent China "containment" policy of India and the US, are going on at the same time as a flare-up of border clashes in Sikkim. This is a good time to recall that there's another border dispute that's becoming critical: The increasing violence between separatist insurgents and Indian security forces in Kashmir. These are , are all signs of significantly worsening tensions between India and China. Defense News and Live Mint (India) and Sputnik News (Moscow) and Global Times (Beijing)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Jun-17 World View -- As Narendra Modi visits Washington, China threatens India after border clash thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Jun-2017) Permanent Link
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    27-Jun-17 World View -- Egypt's president al-Sisi hands contested Red Sea islands over to Saudi Arabia

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    How to do a generational analysis of the Mideast

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Saudis report close relationships between Hezbollah and Qatar

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

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

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

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

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    How to do a generational analysis of the Mideast

    As regular readers know, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, Jews versus Arabs, and various ethnic groups against each other. Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, the "axis" of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the "allies," the US, India, Russia and Iran.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Saudi Arabia, UAE leak 13 demands to end Qatar crisis


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

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

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

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

    Here are the demands, as leaked to AP:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Al-Jazeera takes center stage in the Gulf crisis

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Multiple terrorist attacks across Pakistan kill nearly 50

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    India Legal Live and AP and India Today

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    Kashmir escalations building to all-out war

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Multiple terrorist attacks across Pakistan kill nearly 50

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Voting for statehood will not save Puerto Rico from financial crisis

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Voting for statehood will not save Puerto Rico from financial crisis


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Puerto Rico plunges into contentious bankruptcy proceedings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Illinois bond rating expected to be cut to junk status

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Selection of new Saudi crown prince portends rapid changes in Mideast


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Mohammed bin Salman expected to follow a belligerent foreign policy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    According to an Israeli analyst:

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

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

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

    Brief generational history of DRC's Kasai region

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

    In December there was a threat of civil war in DRC, but the Catholic Church intervened and brokered an agreement: Elections would be held in December of 2017 to choose Kabila's successor, and this time Kabila would really step down. However, the agreement was a farce: It was signed by members of Kabila's government, but it wasn't even signed by Kabila himself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Brief generational history of DRC's Kasai region

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    As I've written many times, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, Jews versus Arabs, and various ethnic groups against each other. Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, the "axis" of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the "allies," the US, India, Russia and Iran. Military Times and The Hill and Debka

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

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    US coalition warplane shoots down Syrian regime warplane targeting SDF


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

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

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

    According to the Pentagon statement:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    As I've written many times, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, Jews versus Arabs, and various ethnic groups against each other. Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, the "axis" of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the "allies," the US, India, Russia and Iran. Tasnim News (Tehran) and Mehr News (Tehran)

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    18-Jun-17 World View -- Hamas, ISIS argue over who gets credit for killing female Israeli officer

    Three Palestinians shot dead after killing female Israeli officer

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Three Palestinians shot dead after killing female Israeli officer


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The PFLP posted an interesting statement on their web site:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    As I've written many times, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, Jews versus Arabs, and various ethnic groups against each other. Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, the "axis" of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the "allies," the US, India, Russia and Iran. Times of Israel and Yeshiva World News and YNet News and AP

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

    Tiny Djibouti tries to survive, surrounded by big neighbors

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Djibouti, Eritrea border clash looms after Qatar withdraws peacekeepers


    Horn of Africa
    Horn of Africa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Tiny Djibouti tries to survive, surrounded by big neighbors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Brief generational history of the Darfur civil war in Sudan

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Violence continues as before in Darfur

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Brief generational history of the Darfur civil war in Sudan

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

    The big picture, that I've described many times in Central African Republic, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, and even America in the 1800s, is that in country after country, there a classic and recurring battle between herders and farmers. The farmers accuse the herders of letting the cattle eat their crops, while the herders accuse the farmers of planting on land that's meant for grazing. If the farmers put up fences, then the herders knock them down.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Refugee Council of Australia says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Taiwan's harsh response signals increasing tension with China

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

    A joint statement from China and Panama said:

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

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

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

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

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

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    Taiwan's harsh response signals increasing tension with China

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    China expected to continue increasing diplomatic pressure on Taiwan

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

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

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

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

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

    Differences between Qatar and Saudi Arabia run deep and will worsen

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Qatar-Arab crisis is unlikely to be resolved soon


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Differences between Qatar and Saudi Arabia run deep and will worsen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    History of Abu Sayyaf and Maute Group in the Philippines

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    US special forces join Philippine military fighting Islamist terrorists in Marawi


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    History of Abu Sayyaf and Maute Group in the Philippines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Two Chinese citizens in Pakistan executed ten days after being abducted


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    According to Zaidi, Pakistan is prostrating itself to China:

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

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

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

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

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

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Iran says Tehran terror attack was by Iranian nationals in ISIS

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Iran says Tehran terror attack was by Iranian nationals in ISIS


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    BBC and CNN and Fars News (Tehran) and AP

    Turkey approves troop deployment to Qatar after split with Saudi Arabia

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

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

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

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

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

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

    An unnamed official is quoted as saying:

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

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

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

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

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

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    How to stop lone wolf attacks in London and Manchester

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


    Doha, Qatar, skyline
    Doha, Qatar, skyline

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

    Col. Ryan Dillon, a US military spokesman said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

    Afghanistan seethes with renewed anger over the attacks

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Three suicide bombers target Kabul Afghanistan funeral for previous victims


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

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

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

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

    President Ashraf Ghani made a televised appeal for national unity:

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

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

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

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    Afghanistan seethes with renewed anger over the attacks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    2-Jun-17 World View -- China-built railway in Kenya raises questions about 'debt trap diplomacy'

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    1-Jun-17 World View -- Massive terror explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, as US considers sending more troops

    Afghans blame Pakistan and the Taliban-linked Haqqani network

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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    Afghans blame Pakistan and the Taliban-linked Haqqani network

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Afghanistan situation deteriorates, as US considers sending more troops

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

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

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

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

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

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    31-May-17 World View -- Turkey builds a northern Syria 'National Army' from Free Syrian Army militias

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    30-May-17 World View -- Arrest of Berber activist in Morocco raises Berber-Arab tensions

    Brief generational history of Berbers and Arabs

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Arrest of Berber activist in Morocco raises Berber-Arab tensions


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Brief generational history of Berbers and Arabs

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

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

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

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

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    29-May-17 World View -- North Korea launches another ballistic missile test, as talk of war increases

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    North Korea launches ninth ballistic missile test this year


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    28-May-17 World View -- More violence in Kashmir after another militant leader is killed

    India declares nationwide prohibition on sales of cattle for slaughter

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    India declares nationwide prohibition on sales of cattle for slaughter


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

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

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

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

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

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    More violence in Kashmir after another militant leader is killed

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

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

    Hizbul Mujahideen is a separatist terror group of Muslims demanding independence for India-governed Kashmir, and that it be permitted to merge with Pakistan-governed Kashmir, so that all of Kashmir is under Pakistan control.

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

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

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

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

    According to a news analysis in FirstPost:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    As I've written several times, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Kashmir is replaying previous generations of violence according to a fairly standard template. India's previous two generational crisis wars were India's 1857 Rebellion, which pitted Hindu nationalists against British colonists, and the 1947 Partition War, one of the bloodiest wars of the 20th century, pitting Hindus versus Muslims. Kashmir is at the heart of a re-fighting of those two wars. First Post (India)

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

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Terrorists massacre dozens of Coptic Christians in Egypt


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Some useful information that's good to know

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

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

    India and Singapore launch major naval exercises in South China Sea

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    China's flagrant snub of Singapore reflects deteriorating ties


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

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

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

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

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

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

    India and Singapore launch major naval exercises in South China Sea

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

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

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

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

    According to an Indian navy spokesman:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Independent (Singapore) and India Today and India Times

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

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Russian obstructionism blocks agreement on splitting up the Caspian Sea


    Map of Caspian Sea
    Map of Caspian Sea

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

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

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

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

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

    The five littoral states of the Caspian Sea have for decades been unable to reach an agreement on dividing the Caspian Sea among them. They agree that the entire surface of the sea should be open to all for commercial shipping and for fishing. The disagreements are over the seabed, and particularly control of the vast energy projects built on the seabed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

    The terms of bill include the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Socialist Venezuela again delays eliminating 100-bolivar notes despite hyperinflation

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    North Korea test-fires another ballistic missile


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Socialist Venezuela again delays eliminating 100-bolivar notes despite hyperinflation

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

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

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

    No reason has been given for the seventh delay, but in the past the government has been unable to purchase paper because it didn't have enough foreign exchange to be able to pay foreign suppliers.

    Throughout history, Socialism has had a 100% failure rate, causing nothing but economic disaster and dead bodies floating down the streets in rivers of blood, while Socialist leaders bask in opulence. Venezuela is headed down the same road, and it won't be long before Maduro orders the army to massacre thousands or tens of thousands of people, so that he can stay in power. Whether Kim Jong-un or Maduro, these Socialist leaders are all the same. Latin American Herald Tribune and Reuters

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-May-17 World View -- North Korea test-fires another ballistic missile thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-May-2017) Permanent Link
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    21-May-17 World View -- Iran's younger generations propel Rouhani to decisive presidential win

    Donald Trump gets royal treatment visiting Saudi Arabia

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Iran's younger generations propel Rouhani to decisive presidential win


    Young woman voting in Iran on Friday
    Young woman voting in Iran on Friday

    Iran's president Hassan Rouhani won an election battle to be decisively re-elected for a second four-year term as president. Rouhani is considered a moderate, and was not favored by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei. Rouhani won 57% of the vote in a large turnout, a huge margin against Khamenei's favored candidate, hardline cleric Ebrahim Raissi, who got only 38% of the votes.

    In his victory speech, Rouhani said:

    "Honorable Iranian nation, you are the winners of the election. I humbly bow to you. I will remain faithful to my vow to you. ...

    Prouder than ever before, Iran is today ready to step up its relations with the world on the basis of mutual respect and national interests.

    Our nation’s message (of peace and friendship) was explicitly departed to the world ... and the nation expects this most important message to be correctly heard by all governments, neighbors, and specifically, by great powers. ...

    “Our elections indicated to the neighbors and the region that the way to restore security to the region is to shore up democracy and honor the people’s votes rather than to rely on foreign powers. ...

    Today, the world is well aware that the Iranian nation has chosen the path of interaction with the world, a path which is distant from extremism and violence. Our nation seeks to live in peace and friendship with the world. However, it is not ready to accept any disrespect or threat. This is our nation’s most important message, and our nation expects the message to be appropriately heard by all states, neighboring countries and, particularly, world powers."

    It's an interesting observation that Iran comes second only behind Israel as the most democratic countries in the Mideast.

    Analysts indicate the decisive victory comes from the overwhelming support of young people, who came out in large numbers because of opposition to the hardline restrictions on dress, free speech, and gender relations, and because of the widespread belief that Khamenei and the hardliners were using illegal tactics to win the election. Some analysts say that the election was about the economy, but since Rouhani has failed to meet his election promises in the economy, that does not seem to be the reason that Rouhani won. Instead, it appears that young people ignored the economic issues just to vote against the hardline clerics.

    As I've written many, many times, Iran is in a generational Awakening era, just one generation past the Great Islamic Revolution of 1979 and the Iran/Iraq war that climaxed in 1988 with Saddam's use of chemical weapons. A generational Awakening era is always about a "generation gap," a political conflict between the generations of traumatized survivors of the preceding generational crisis war and the generations of young people who grew up after the war, and have no personal memory of it. The older and younger generations have completely different world views, and the political conflict continues until there's an Awakening era climax that settles the disputed. America's last Awakening era was the 1960s-70s, marked by the "Summer of Love," as well as widespread political and racial riots, until the Awakening era climax occurred in 1974 with the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

    Iran is also headed for some kind of Awakening era climax, pitting the younger generations, current represented by Hassan Rouhani, versus the traumatized Great Islamic Revolution survivors, currently represented by Ebrahim Raissi and Ayatollah Khamenei.

    Rouhani's decisive electoral victory is not enough to be called an Awakening era climax, but it could trigger events that could lead to such a climax. During the campaign, Rouhani bitterly criticized his political opponents, including Raissi's supporters and the powerful Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) which enforces many of the hardline laws. Now that the election is over, hardliners are expected to "settle scores," and this could result in a major political battle of a kind similar to the one that led to Nixon's resignation.

    In fact, there is a particularly bitter battle on the horizon. Khamenei has been Supreme Leader since 1989, but he's 77 years old, and is in poor health, so there's a succession battle approaching. This succession battle may trigger the Awakening era climax that we've been describing. Tehran Times and Reuters and The Hindu

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    Brief generational history of Iran and Saudi Arabia

    As I've been writing for over ten years, Generational Dynamics predicts that Iran will be an American ally in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, which will pit the US, India, Russia, Iran and the west against China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries.

    Now would be a good time to briefly reprise the reasons for the prediction that Iran will be an American ally. There are two major categories of reasons.

    Now would also be a good time to reprise the three events of 1979 that shook the Muslim world in the Mideast and beyond, and how they affect events today:

    Needless to say, Americans today are totally oblivious to the events described here, but these were epochal events in the history of the Arab, Persian and Muslim worlds in the Mideast and beyond, and they define what's happening in the Mideast today.

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    Donald Trump gets royal treatment visiting Saudi Arabia

    President Donald Trump visited Saudi Arabia on Saturday, on the first leg of his five-nation tour. The first three visits will be to the centers of the Abrahamic religions -- Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, Jerusalem, and the Vatican. After that, he'll visit Brussels, the capital of the European Union, and then Taormina Italy for the G-7 meeting.

    Trump was received like visiting royalty in Saudi Arabia. Trump, his wife Melania, and his senior White House staff were serenaded by military bands, treated to a flyover of Saudi jets, feted in opulent palaces and given the undivided attention of Saudi's 81 year old King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud.

    Trump and Salman signed an agreement for the sale of $110 billion of military equipment to Saudi Arabia over several years. The deal includes tanks, combat ships, missile defense systems, radar and communications, and cybersecurity technology. Trump was joined on the trip by the CEOs of several major U.S. companies, which announced their own agreements with the Saudis. Among them was a $15 billion arrangement with GE focused on power, oil and gas, and health care.

    What's most interesting about Trump's visit is the symbolic flip-flop from the previous administration to the current one in attitudes towards Iran and Saudi Arabia.

    President Barack Obama repeatedly showed his contempt, in one way or another, for the Saudis, and the feeling was mutual. However Obama, through his Secretary of State John Kerry who believes that America's soldiers are terrorists, repeatedly sucked up to the Iranians, making one humiliating concession after another to close the nuclear deal. However, the feeling was not mutual, as Iran repeatedly insulted Kerry, Obama, and the American people, and still does.

    So now president Trump has made a symbolic reversal. Trump is contemptuous of the Iranians, and the Iranians are contemptuous of him. Trump loves the Saudis, and the Saudis love him.

    This is a good time to remind readers that it's a core principle of Generational Dynamics that, even in a dictatorship, major decisions are made by masses of people, by generations of people. The attitudes of politicians are irrelevant, except insofar as they represent the attitudes of the people. So the relations between American, Iranian and Saudi leaders is much less important than the attitudes that the masses of Americans, Saudis and Iranians have for one another.

    So we note the following:

    I believe that a great deal of information can be determined by detailed generational analyses of the various tribes and ethnic groups in the Mideast. I believe that this analysis could be used to predict how events will unfold in the coming years. I certainly don't have anything like the resources to perform such an analysis, but any college student interested in this kind of analysis could make an invaluable contribution to understanding what's going on in the world today by taking on, as a thesis topic, a generational analysis of the tribes and ethnic groups in the Mideast. AP and Arab News

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-May-17 World View -- Iran's younger generations propel Rouhani to decisive presidential win thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-May-2017) Permanent Link
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    20-May-17 World View -- France's new president Macron commits troops to Mali 'as long as necessary'

    A riddle

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    France's new president Macron commits troops to Mali 'as long as necessary'


    France has peacekeeping troops in five Sahel nations -- Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad (TRT World)
    France has peacekeeping troops in five Sahel nations -- Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad (TRT World)

    France's new president Emmanuel Macron fulfilled a campaign promise on Friday by visiting the French peacekeeping troops in Mali, in his first official trip outside Europe since taking office less than a week ago.

    There are 4,000 French peacekeeping troops in Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas operation, which was begun in 2014 by then-president François Hollande, with a vow to "wipe out armed terrorist groups."

    The French troops are in five West African nations in the Sahel region, which is a strip of land running horizontally across Africa from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea. Generally speaking, it separates the Arab north from Black Africa, along a fault line that often separates Muslims north of the Sahel from Christians south of the Sahel. The Sahel cuts through the five countries with French peacekeeping forces: Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad.

    Macron said that France would be "uncompromising" in its fight against militant Islamists in Mali and the other nations, and vowed that France's military operations would continue until the jihadists are eradicated. According to Macron, "Operation Barkhane will only stop when there is no more Islamist terrorism in the region." France 24 and Radio France Internationale and BBC

    UN peacekeeping forces grow as jihadist attacks increase and Mali

    The three largest transnational jihadist groups in Mali are al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West-Africa (MUJAO), and al-Mourabitoun, created by Mokhtar Belmokhtar.

    However, probably the most important terrorist group in Mali is Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith), a local terrorist group from the Tuareg ethnic group. The Tuaregs live in a region spanning northern Mali, large parts of Algeria and Niger, and the southwestern portion of Libya.

    The Tuaregs had what arguably might be called a "lucky break" in 2011, when Libya's dictator Muammar Gaddafi was killed. To protect himself, Gaddafi had armed and employed mercenaries, many of whom were Tuareg. When Gaddafi died, the Tuaregs were left with a big weapons cache, which they used to begin a separatist rebellion in Mali.

    Central Mali has seen a sharp increase in jihadist attacks and ethnic violence since 2015. The United Nations has had an existing peacekeeping force of 12,000 troops in Mali called MINUSMA since July 2013.

    The UN is deploying a rapid intervention force of Senegalese troops to central Mali. China is sending a peacekeeping force of 395 troops to Mali before the end of May.

    However, Canada's prime minister Justin Trudeau is receiving criticism for failing to meet his campaign promise of providing to the UN 600 Canadian troops for peacekeeping. Instead, has kept postponing the question, refusing to say whether or not the Canadian troops would be supplied. Trudeau's equivocation is causing problems for other countries supplying peacekeeping troops. As one foreign diplomat said, "Just make a decision. Even if it’s a no, we need a decision." TRT World (Istanbul) and News 24 (South Africa) and Premium Times (Nigeria) and National Post (Ottawa)

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    A riddle

    Question: What do Trump and the Mainstream Media have in common with onald and Nancy Reagan?

    Answer: They're obsessed with each other.

    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-May-17 World View -- France's new president Macron commits troops to Mali 'as long as necessary' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-May-2017) Permanent Link
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    19-May-17 World View -- US warplanes strike Syrian regime military convoy near al-Tanf base

    Al-Tanf becomes a military flash point because of strategic value

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    US warplanes strike Syrian regime military convoy near al-Tanf base


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

    American warplanes launched a series of airstrikes on Thursday against a military convoy of pro-regime militias fighting in Syria. This is the second time in the last few months that American forces have intentionally struck military targets supporting the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad.

    The first time occurred in April, when American ships in the eastern Mediterranean Sea launched dozens of cruise missiles at the al-Shayrat Airbase in Syria. That airbase was chosen because it's the base from which Bashar al-Assad one week earlier launched a horrific Sarin gas on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province, killing up to 100 people.

    Thursday's attack was on a pro-Syrian regime convoy headed in the direction of an American training camp at the border town al-Tanf in Syria, near the border with Iraq and close to the Jordan border.

    Originally there were thirteen vehicles in the convoy headed for al-Tanf. US warplanes were scrambled in a "show of force" to dissuade the convoy from proceeding further. According to some reports, there were "Russian attempts to dissuade pro-regime movement."

    After the show of force, five of the vehicles continued approaching the base. When they were within 29 km of the base, they were hit by US aircraft.

    It's believed that the militia forces in the convoy were not from the regular Syrian army, but were Shia militias coming either directly from Iran or from Iran's puppet Hizbollah militia in Lebanon. Although some vehicles were destroyed, it's not known whether there were any casualties. AFP and CBS/AP

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    Al-Tanf becomes a military flash point because of strategic value

    Al-Tanf is a Syrian border town on the other side of the border with the Iraq town of al-Waleed, which is a major border crossing between Iraq and Syria. The two towns lie on Route 1, the principal highway that runs between Iraq's capital Baghdad and Syria's capital Damascus, and also forks off to Jordan's capital Amman.

    Militants from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) captured the al-Waleed border crossing two years ago in May, 2015, during the sweep that gave ISIS control of a great deal of territory in Syria and Iraq. As ISIS faced numerous counterattacks, al-Waleed was recaptured from ISIS by the Free Syrian Army in May of 2016. Even though it's no longer under ISIS control, it still retains enormous strategic value. ISIS fighters have repeatedly attacked the al-Tanf base, and had to be repelled by US Special Operations Forces.

    Two days ago, Iranian state Fars news agency said the following:

    "The sources said that the Hezbollah Movement has deployed 12 regiments with 1,000 fighters to Homs, Dara'a and Quneitra to face the US-backed militants in al-Tanf border crossing and foil Washington's plan for the capture of Deir Ezzur.

    The sources said that the Syrian Army troops and their popular allies are trying hard to intensify their operations in Badiyeh (desert) to reach the border with Iraq and Jordan to prevent the militants backed up by the US and Jordan from attacking Deir Ezzur via the Syrian border with Jordan."

    The border crossing is at the intersection of Syria, Iraq and Jordan, and Route 1 also forks off into Jordan, linking up to the capital city Amman. Reports indicate that there has been increased military activity in the region, and that there is a race to reach the border between US, British and Jordanian special forces, on the one hand, and Syrian, Hezbollah and Iranian forces on the other hand. BBC (22-May-2015) and Fars (Tehran) and CNN and Debka

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-May-17 World View -- US warplanes strike Syrian regime military convoy near al-Tanf base thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-May-2017) Permanent Link
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    18-May-17 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan leaves empty-handed as his security forces attack protesters in Washington

    Washington shocked as Turkey's security forces attack peaceful protesters

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Washington shocked as Turkey's security forces attack peaceful protesters


    Erdogan and Trump after their meeting on Tuesday (AP)
    Erdogan and Trump after their meeting on Tuesday (AP)

    It's common to read about national security forces in other countries bashing peaceful anti-government protesters, but it's a shock for it to happen in Washington DC. But that's what happened on Tuesday evening, when Turkey's security forces brutally attacked peaceful protesters in front of the Turkish embassy.

    The attacks occurred shortly after Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with president Donald Trump in the White House, and then returned to the Turkish embassy.

    Witnesses, backed by social media video, say that Erdogan's security forces broke through DC police lines and attacked protesters outside the embassy carrying the flag of the Kurdish PYD party.

    Some social media video shows Turkish officials dressed in suits beating and punching people in the crowd and, in at least one case, kicking out at a woman lying on the ground curled up to protect herself.

    The PYD is a left-wing Kurdish political party in Syria affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a terrorist group that has conducted numerous terrorist attacks in Turkey, and has conducted an on-and-off civil war in Turkey for decades. There were 11 people hurt, including on US police officer. Washington DC police called in reinforcements and separated the two sides, making two arrests.

    It's possible that the perpetrators of the attack cannot be prosecuted because they have diplomatic immunity. However, some analysts say that diplomatic immunity does not apply to the security detail traveling with a foreign leader.

    This is not the first such incident. In March of last year, Erdogan was on his way to visit the Brookings Institute in Washington to give a speech. While he was en route, Erdogan's security personnel kicked both Turkish and Western journalists and protesters in front of the Brookings building.

    An even worse incident occurred in Ankara in December of last year, when a member of Turkey's security forces shot and killed Russia's ambassador to Turkey.

    The US State Dept issued this statement on Wednesday morning:

    "We are concerned by the violent incidents involving protestors and Turkish security personnel Tuesday evening. Violence is never an appropriate response to free speech, and we support the rights of people everywhere to free expression and peaceful protest.

    We are communicating our concern to the Turkish government in the strongest possible terms."

    NY Times and Times of Israel and US News and Foreign Policy (1-Apr-2016) and US State Dept.

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    Turkey's Erdogan leaves empty-handed from meeting with Trump

    Turkey's media are putting a positive spin on the outcome of Tuesday's meeting of Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan with president Donald Trump. They're emphasizing the friendly smiles and handshakes, as well as the "new awakening" in relations between the two countries, without focusing on the fact that Erdogan left the meeting empty-handed.

    Erdogan had two major agenda items for the meeting:

    However, Trump and Erdogan did agree that they should both "fight terror."

    The meeting between Trump and Erdogan lasted only 22 minutes, suggesting that it might have been simply a preparatory meeting for further negotiations in the future. VOA and Hurriyet (Turkey) and Daily Sabah (Turkey)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-May-17 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan leaves empty-handed as his security forces attack protesters in Washington thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-May-2017) Permanent Link
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    17-May-17 World View -- Central African Republic violence threatens new spread of Ebola from Congo

    CAR refugees threaten to spread Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Christian vs Muslim violence continues to spread across Central African Republic


    Hospital in Bangassou, Central African Republic, where civilians are fleeing violence (MSF)
    Hospital in Bangassou, Central African Republic, where civilians are fleeing violence (MSF)

    The generational crisis civil war in Central African Republic (CAR) has been going on since 2013, when nomadic mostly-Muslim herder tribes form "Séléka" militias and began committing atrocities against Christians, triggering revenge attacks by Christians who formed "anti-Balaka" militias and began committing atrocities against Muslims.

    Since then, United Nations peacekeeping forces have been usually able to keep the two sides apart within Bangui, the nation's capital. But CAR is a huge country, and sectarian atrocities with Christian anti-Balaka militias massacring and committing atrocities against Muslim Séléka people, and vice-versa, has continued and grown across the country, especially in rural areas that are completely out of reach of UN peacekeeping forces.

    In March, I reported on tribal violence in Bambari and Bria, in the center of the country. What was different about that situation is that the fault lines were more ethnic than religious: farmer tribes and herder tribes are aligning against each other, sometimes ignoring religion. New reports indicate that violence in that region continues, despite efforts by UN peacekeepers.

    Now there are reports of major new and growing violence in and around the town of Bangassou, a border town in southeastern CAR on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Armed anti-Balaka militias attacked Muslim neighborhoods, killing dozens of civilians in several villages.

    According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, violence is spreading and growing in rural areas in the southeast, center and western portions of CAR:

    "Violence and rising tensions are spreading to areas of the Central African Republic that had previously been spared the kinds of terrifying violence seen in some other parts of the country – this is highly worrying and should set off loud alarm bells.

    The hard-earned relative calm in Bangui and some of the bigger towns in CAR risks being eclipsed by the descent of some rural areas into increasing sectarian violence, with defenseless civilians – as usual – paying the highest price."

    From the point of Generational Dynamics, none of this is surprising. As I've explained in the past, CAR's last generational crisis war was the 1928-1931 Kongo-Wara Rebellion ("War of the Hoe Handle"), which was a very long time ago, putting CAR today deep into a generational Crisis era, where a new crisis civil war has already started.

    The United Nations officials hope that by sending a few hundred peacekeepers here and there, they can get the entire country to go back to the way they were in 2013, but that's not the way generational crisis wars work. This war has to expend a great deal more violence before it can end and, like every generational crisis war, will not end until there's some kind of explosive genocidal climax that will be remembered for decades, or even centuries. UN Office of Human Relations and Relief Web and Reuters and Anadolu

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    CAR refugees threaten to spread Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo

    Thousands of families have been running from the violence in the border town Bangassou in southeastern CAR, and fleeing into northern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Concerns have been raised because there is a new outbreak of the Ebola virus in a remote DRC region about 250 km from the CAR border, and it's feared that some CAR civilians might become sick and carry the virus back to CAR, where it could spread rapidly.

    As of Monday's situation report, the World Health Organization (WHO) has identified 19 cases of Ebola in the northern region of the DRC, with 3 deaths. The DRC strain is the deadliest known, more deadly than the Ebola strain that spread through western Africa two years ago. The WHO hopes that the lessons learned from the last epidemic will be successfully used to prevent a new epidemic. Already, emergency plans are being set up in airports to prevent the spread from country to country.

    This is the eighth outbreak of Ebola virus since it was discovered in the DRC in 1976. Center for Infectious Disease Research (CIDRAP) and Independent (South Africa) and Vanguard (Nigeria)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-May-17 World View -- Central African Republic violence threatens new spread of Ebola from Congo thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-May-2017) Permanent Link
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    16-May-17 World View -- Final push to expel ISIS from Raqqa, Syria, to begin in June

    Syria's Bashar al-Assad accused of burning thousands of political opponents in crematorium

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Syria's Bashar al-Assad accused of burning thousands of political opponents in crematorium


    The Yarmouk refugee camp for Palestinians, in Damascus, Syria, in 2014 (Getty)
    The Yarmouk refugee camp for Palestinians, in Damascus, Syria, in 2014 (Getty)

    By this time nothing should surprise us about the psychopathic depravity of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. In 2014, a forensic photographic nicknamed "Caesar" defected from al-Assad's regime with tens of thousands of photos whom al-Assad had tortured using electrocution, eye-gouging, rape, strangulation, starvation, and beating on prisoners on a massive "industrial strength" scale. Al-Assad was so pleased and proud of this torture that he made sure each act was photographed.

    In February, Amnesty International released a report based on interviews with 84 people that thousands of peaceful demonstrators had been brought to Saydnaya prison for the kind of extreme torture just described. As many as 50 prisoners per day were taken out of their cells and executed, with their bodies thrown into mass graves.

    On Monday, the US State Dept. provided further insight into the execution of prisoners at Saydnaya prison. Apparent al-Assad was motivated by the concern that these huge mass graves might be discovered and show him in an unfavorable light. And so, the State Dept. says that in 2013 al-Assad took one of the buildings adjoining the Saydnaya prison and turned it into a crematorium, so that the bodies of the executed prisoners could be burnt to ashes, rather than thrown into huge mass graves.

    According to the State Dept:

    "The facts we’re presenting today are based on reporting from international and local nongovernmental organizations, press reporting, and also Intelligence Community assessments. The continued brutality of the Assad regime, including its use of chemical weapons, presents a clear threat to regional stability and security as well as to the national security interests of the United States and our allies. ...

    Moreover, the regime has also authorized the extrajudicial killings of thousands of detainees using mass hangings at the Saydnaya military prison. Saydnaya is a 45-minute drive outside of Damascus and is one of Syria’s largest and most secure prison complexes. Saydnaya is but one of many detention facilities where prisoners are being held and abused. ...

    The regime holds as many as 70 prisoners in Saydnaya in cells that have a five-person capacity. And according to multiple sources, the regime is responsible for killing as many as 50 detainees per day at Saydnaya. Credible sources have believed that many of the bodies have been disposed in mass graves. We now believe that the Syrian regime has installed a crematorium in the Saydnaya prison complex which could dispose of detainees’ remains with little evidence.

    Beginning in 2013, the Syrian regime modified a building within the Saydnaya complex to support what we believe is a crematorium, as shown in the photos that we have distributed to you. Although the regime’s many atrocities are well documented, we believe that the building of a crematorium is an effort to cover up the extent of mass murders taking place in Saydnaya prison."

    There is speculation that the State Dept released this information at this time in order to put pressure on Russia to rein in Bashar al-Assad from committing new atrocities. US State Dept and Reuters

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    Final push to expel ISIS from Raqqa, Syria, to begin in June

    Rojda Felat, commander of the Kurdish Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) in Syria, which is part of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the “Euphrates Wrath Operation” to liberate Raqqa from ISIS, said that the attack will be launched in June: "The attack on Raqqa will take place in the beginning of the summer."

    It's believed that there are almost 4,000 fighters from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) in Raqqa, which is the ISIS "caliphate" and major stronghold. The SDF is joining with the elders of Raqqa's tribes to surrender:

    "We call upon all Syrians who joined the ranks of ISIS and those who carry arms, administrators or preachers, to surrender themselves to the nearest military base of the SDF to preserve his or her life and family, and the city from destruction. We are ready to provide all relief and humanitarian support to those who surrender within a maximum of ten days."

    The SDF consists mostly of Kurdish fighters from the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG), along with a lesser number of fighters from the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Once Raqqa is captured, the plan is to go down the Euphrates Valley and completely destroy ISIS, which currently controls about 35% of Syria.

    The United States military has been gradually increasing its involvement with the SDF, which it backs. It's believed that there are about 700-1,000 US special forces troops in the area. Several hundred are being sent mainly to protect the Kurds from Turkey's military.

    Last week, the US military announced that it will move quickly to get weapons, including small arms, mortars, heavy machine guns, shoulder-fired weapons and ammunition, into the hands of the YPG Kurds for use in fighting ISIS. The US considers the YPG to be the most effective fighting force in Syria against ISIS.

    Turkish officials are furious at this, since they consider arming the Kurds to be an existential threat to Turkey. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has conducted numerous terrorist attacks within Turkey, and has conducted an on-and-off civil war in Turkey for decades.

    Turkey's president Tayyip Recep Erdogan will be visiting president Donal Trump in Washington today (Tuesday), and Syria will be a major topic on the agenda. ARA News (Syria) and Al Arabiya and Sputnik News (Moscow)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-May-17 World View -- Final push to expel ISIS from Raqqa, Syria, to begin in June thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-May-2017) Permanent Link
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    15-May-17 World View -- North Korea sends a message with a medium range ballistic missile test

    North Korean missile launch sends a message to everyone

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    North Korea launches medium-range ballistic missile


    South Koreans in a Seoul railway station on Sunday morning watch North Korea's ballistic missile test (AP)
    South Koreans in a Seoul railway station on Sunday morning watch North Korea's ballistic missile test (AP)

    North Korea's state media says that the country launched a medium-range ballistic missile on Sunday, capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

    According to state media, the child dictator Kim Jong-un personally "guided the test-fire," and bragged about its nuclear prowess:

    "Pyongyang, May 15 (KCNA) -- A test-fire of new ground-to-ground medium long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 was successfully carried out on Sunday by scientists and technicians in the field of rocket research, who are bravely advancing toward a new goal to be proud of in the world, true to the far-sighted idea of Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea, chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK and supreme commander of the Korean People's Army, for building a nuclear power.

    Kim Jong Un guided the test-fire on the spot. ...

    He declared that the DPRK is a nuclear power worthy of the name whether someone recognizes it or not. He stressed the DPRK will keep strict control over those engaging themselves in nuclear blackmail with its nuclear deterrence which has been unimaginably and rapidly developed."

    The missile traveled almost 500 miles in 30 minutes, and landed in the Sea of Japan, surrounded by the Korean peninsula, about 60 miles south of Russia’s Vladivostok region and approximately 250 miles from Japan.

    The missile was launched at the highest possible angle, so that it would travel high into the air, but would limit the lateral distance, and so it reached an altitude of about 1,300 miles. If it had been fired at a standard trajectory, then it would have had a range of at least 2,500 miles, meaning that it could have reached Russia and Japan, and probably the US base at Guam.

    Initial reports speculated that it had been an advanced KN-15 missile, from a mobile launcher and with a solid-fuel engine. The mobile launcher allows the missile to be hidden until minutes before launch, and the solid-fuel engine allows it to be ready to launch immediately at any time.

    However, it's now believed that it was a KN-17 missile, a single-stage, liquid-fueled missile. Tests with both the KN-15 and KN-17 missiles provide experience and data for ongoing development of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could reach Australia or the United States.

    The United Nations Security Council will meet on Tuesday to discuss the situation. They're expected to issue a statement condemning the missile test, calling it "unacceptable," and threatening that if there's another test then the Security Council will hold another meeting. KCNA Watch and 38 North and Fox News and Reuters

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    North Korean missile launch sends a message to everyone

    The timing of the missile launch on Sunday sends messages to officials in various countries:

    North Korea's biggest message of all is that development of a nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles is going to continue, at least until North Korea has an intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach Los Angeles, and that it will do so despite the wishes of China or any other country.. CNN and Korea Times and Yonhap (Seoul) and The Australian and LA Times

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-May-17 World View -- North Korea sends a message with a medium range ballistic missile test thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-May-2017) Permanent Link
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    14-May-17 World View -- China launches 'One Belt One Road', raising objections and violent protests

    Laborers on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) shot dead on Saturday

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    China forum launches the decades-long 'One Belt One Road' project


    China's 'One Belt One Road' project will include overland and maritime trade routes between China and Europe (CNN)
    China's 'One Belt One Road' project will include overland and maritime trade routes between China and Europe (CNN)

    On Sunday, 28 heads of state, 100 lower-level government officials, and 1,200 delegates from 110 countries will attend China's "One Belt One Road" (OBOR) forum in Beijing. It is also called the "Belt and Road Initiative" (BRI) summit.

    The romantic appeal behind the Belt and Road project is that it's a modern day version of the ancient "Silk Road," a collection of trade routes regularly used between 100 BC to 1400 AD by traders carrying goods back and forth between China and Europe. The name comes from the popularity of Chinese silk in the Roman Empire.

    However, as the map above shows, the new Silk Road is not simply an overland route. The Belt and Road project consists of two parts:

    The OBOR includes infrastructure projects that have already been under development since the 1990s. China plans to invest hundreds of billions of dollars over the next 50 years or so to complete the project.

    Whether the project will ever be completed is, of course, open to doubt. There's already been one large, spectacular failure. In 2009, China invested $1.2 billion in Sri Lanka's Hambantota seaport. Sri Lanka had expected to repay the debt through profits earned by the port, but the slowdown in trade throughout the entire region in the last few years has meant that Sri Lanka has been unable to repay the debt, and now China has essentially taken over the port in lieu of repayment of the debt, resulting in violent protests by Sri Lanka's Buddhist monks and anti-government protesters.

    Because the project is so expensive, so long-term, and so unrealistic, many people are suspicious that China's motives are more complex. The Sri Lanka port project shows what can happen -- China invests a lot of money in an infrastructure project in a country, and thereby gains political influence or sovereignty in the country, or even ownership of the infrastructure. Even if the OBOR is never completed, a successful outcome for China would be a strong economic and military grip in countries throughout the region. South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and CNN and China Daily and Time

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    Laborers on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) shot dead on Saturday

    One part of the Belt and Road initiative is known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

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

    (The CNN map above does not depict the CPEC project. Nor does it depict the "Caspian Trade Corridor" which is also part of OBOR.)

    On Saturday, ten laborers working in southern Balochistan province on the CPEC infrastructure were shot dead at close range. Pakistan's marginalized Baloch ethnic group has been opposed to CPEC from the beginning, as they see it as incorporating the worst of China's investment practices.

    As we reported in March, some Pakistani analysts concluded that China will charge Pakistan exorbitant interest rates for the debt that it incurs. Balochs are opposed because the project will result in an inflow of more than 600,000 Chinese people -- Chinese workers and their families -- diluting that Baloch population. Baloch activists claim that whatever economic benefits the CPEC project will bring to Pakistan, most of the benefits will go to the favored Punjab province. The CPEC project will use up all of Balochistan's natural resources, and the Baloch people will get nothing from it.

    The killing of CPEC workers on Saturday highlights the massive security concerns that will accompany the project. There will be 600,000 Chinese workers entering Pakistan every year, and they will be targets of jihadist terror groups. These will include Afghan Uzbeks affiliated with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).

    India is boycotting Sunday's forum in China to express its objections to the CPEC plan, since it includes massive infrastructure projects in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir that will affect India-controlled Kashmir as well. According to an Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman, "The international community is well aware of India’s position. No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity." Reuters and The Nation (Pakistan) and The Hindu and India Today

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-May-17 World View -- China launches 'One Belt One Road', raising objections and violent protests thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-May-2017) Permanent Link
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    13-May-17 World View -- Canada receives record numbers of Mexican asylum seekers after Trudeau's welcome tweet

    MSF: Central American refugees entering Mexico are regularly beaten and tortured

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    MSF: Central American refugees entering Mexico are regularly beaten and tortured


    Migrants board 'La Bestia' (The Beast) in southern Mexico to travel to the US border.  (AP, 2014)
    Migrants board 'La Bestia' (The Beast) in southern Mexico to travel to the US border. (AP, 2014)

    According to a new report by Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières - MSF) an estimated 500,000 migrants cross the border from Central America into Mexico each year. Many of these migrants are fleeing violence in what MSF calls the Northern Triangle of Central America (NCTA), consisting of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.

    However, their countries of origin aren't limited to those in Central America. In just a few days in September of last year, there was a surge of almost 5,000 Haitian, African and Asian migrants entering by Mexico's southern border. None of these migrants requested permission to stay in Mexico, as they all wanted to reach the United States. The huge sudden surge of migrants overwhelmed officials at US border crossings in California.

    Most migrants enter Mexico in the hope of continuing through Mexico to the United States. The MSF says that as they travel through Mexico, they're often victimized by kidnapping, extortion, rape, assault, torture and murder by criminal organizations, often with the tacit approval of Mexican authorities. 68.3% of migrants and refugees surveyed by MSF reported having been victims of violence on the transit route to the United States.

    In 2014, under pressure from the United States, Mexico instituted increasingly harsh border-control measures in the form of Plan Frontera Sur, a Mexican crackdown on border security funded in part by the U.S. This change in Mexico's policy has substantially increased the likelihood that the refugees will face violence, since the crackdown forces refugees to depend on human traffickers and travel on underground routes operated with impunity by organized crime.

    In February, during the first month of Donald Trump's administration, Mexican officials met with US military officials to try to find common ground on immigration and other issues. The relationship between the United States and Mexico has become strained after president Trump vowed to build a wall between the two countries to keep out illegal immigrants, drug dealers and criminals and make Mexico pay for it. Details of the meeting were not released.

    To resolve the humanitarian crisis, MSF calls on governments across the region – mainly El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Canada, and the US – to ensure better alternatives to detention and deportation to countries of origin where they'll be once again subject to violence. These countries should increase their formal resettlement and family reunification quotas. Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières - MSF) and Reuters (2-Feb) and AP (25-Sep-2016) and iPolitics (Canada)

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    Canada receives record numbers of Mexican asylum seekers after Trudeau's welcome tweet

    Mexicans are seeking asylum in Canada at a rate four times greater than in 2016. The first three months of 2017 already saw more cases recorded than in the entire year 2016.

    One reason for the surge is president Trump's travel ban, announced in January, which raised concern in refugees that they might be prevented from entering the United States. Instead of trying to cross the border into the US, they get on a plane that takes them to the airport in Vancouver, British Columbia, in Canada.

    The second reason is that Canada's prime minister Justin Trudeau invited them in. In 2016, Trudeau eliminated a visa requirement, imposed in 2008, for Mexicans traveling to Canada. The visa requirement sharply reduced the number of migrants, until it was lifted.

    In addition, Trudeau decided to react to Trump's travel ban by tweeting the following on January 28:

    "To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength[1] #WelcomeToCanada"

    Trudeau's tweet was followed by a picture of him greeting a refugee family. The two tweets garnered over a million likes and half-a-million retweets,

    The Canadian government has threatened to reinstate the visa requirement, and has told the Mexican government that it will do so if asylum claims continue to increase. Canadian Broadcasting (16-Apr) and Daily Caller (17-Apr) and Canadian Broadcasting (3-Apr)

    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-May-17 World View -- Canada receives record numbers of Mexican asylum seekers after Trudeau's welcome tweet thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-May-2017) Permanent Link
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    12-May-17 World View -- Obamacare continues total meltdown as Aetna pulls out completely

    Britain's NHS patients wait for months just to get bowel cancer tests

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Obamacare continues total meltdown as Aetna pulls out completely


    CNBC reporter Bertha Coombs is furious that Aetna is pulling out of Virginia Obamacare (CNBC)
    CNBC reporter Bertha Coombs is furious that Aetna is pulling out of Virginia Obamacare (CNBC)

    Obamacare continued its multi-year meltdown and death spiral on Wednesday when Aetna said it will completely leave the Obamacare business at the end of the year. According to Aetna:

    "Our individual commercial products lost nearly $700 million between 2014 and 2016, and are projected to lose more than $200 million in 2017 despite a significant reduction in membership."

    Obamacare would have collapsed on day one, but President Obama confiscated $716 billion in the Medicare insurance fund to providing funding for Obamacare entities. This is money that workers have been paying into the fund for decades, and Obama just blew it all away.

    The signs that Obamacare was collapsing have been clear now for almost two years, as several large insurance companies, UnitedHealthCare, Humana, BlueCross BlueShield, and others, have announced partial or complete pullouts from Obamacare because of massive financial losses. Aetna had previously announced a partial pullout, but now the pullout is complete.

    There have been astronomical price increases on health insurance in each year of Obamacare, and the next year is no exception. The first states to make their filings public for next year are Maryland, Virginia and Connecticut, and they're announcing premium increases of more than 20%.

    Furthermore, fully 1/3 of the counties in the United States have only one insurance option available.

    This is exactly what I predicted in 2009, shortly after Obamacare was first announced, when I called it a proposal of economic insanity.

    The reason I knew what would happen is because I remember well what happened with President Richard Nixon's price controls in the early 1970s. They were supposed to lower the inflation rate from 4% to 2%. Instead, the inflation rate surged to 12%.

    Let me repeat that. The inflation rate had been 4%. Nixon wanted to reduce it to 2% with wage-price controls. Instead, it went up to 12%.

    One thing that I remember well is that farmers were killing baby chickens because chickens were price-controlled, but chicken feed was not. So if the farmers allowed the chickens to grow, then it would cost more to feed than the price Nixon's controls would allow the farmer to sell the chicken. It was an absolute disaster for the economy, and the economy didn't recover for a full decade. This shows how Nixon's controls so thoroughly destroyed the American economy, resulting it huge inflation rates.

    I predicted that the same thing would happen with Obamacare, and that prediction was 100% correct. The reason I knew what would happen is because I still remembered Nixon's price controls. Health insurance inflation is now increasing at over 20% per year, and insurers are dropping out because it costs more to insure them than the premiums that they're allowed to collect.

    Furthermore, millions more people than ever are effectively uninsured, either because the deductibles are so high that they can't collect insurance, or because they can't find a doctor that will accept their Medicaid insurance.

    Obamacare has been a total disaster. It's destroyed the health insurance industry so thoroughly that it's causing huge rate increase, and the health insurance industry will take ten years to recover.

    In 2015, I spent three months doing a detailed analysis of Obamacare, and wrote an article about it.

    I was absolutely stunned by the sheer stupidity of this law. One example is "Risk Corridors." If an insurer is profitable, then the insurer pays profits into a "risk corridor fund" set up by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). If the insurer is losing money, then that insurer receives money out of the fund.

    As I drilled down into this, I couldn't believe what I was reading. Why would any insurer even try to be profitable, if their profits were simply going to be confiscated? If an insurer had some extra money, they might as well spend it, since they were going to lose the money anyway.

    Risk Corridors is just one example of some of the stupidest things I've ever seen, and it shows the stupidity of the people in the Obama administration who pushed this piece of crap.

    So now Obamacare is totally collapsing, and the Democrats and Republicans are jockeying to see who's going to get the blame as the disaster unfolds. It makes you want to vomit, but that's nothing new in Washington these days. Reuters and Bloomberg and Daily Signal

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    Britain's NHS patients wait for months just to get bowel cancer tests

    According to new figures published on Thursday, patients in Britain's National Health Service have to wait several months to get diagnostic tests when they're suspected of having bowel cancer. This is one of the most lethal forms of cancer, and patients could die in the meantime.

    The mainstream media in Britain rarely mentions this, and you never hear it from the American media, but Britain's National Health Service is a growing financial disaster that is near collapse. As I've been reporting since 2015, Britain's National Health Service (NHS) is facing an existential crisis, with a huge and accelerating deficit expected to reach 22 billion pounds ($32 billion) by 2020.

    You would think that at least emergency situations would be covered adequately by the NHS, but the bowel cancer example shows that they're not.

    The financial crisis has caused so many hospitals to close that there was a shortage of beds early this year, and patients arriving in ambulances had to remain outside the hospital in the ambulances for several hours, until a bed could be made available.

    My favorite example is that if you have a toothache, then it can take a couple of months to get an appointment with a dentist, so you'd have to live with your toothache for a couple of months. Dentistry services are so bad that people are buying "do-it-yourself (DIY) dentistry kits" to take care of their whole families, as was done in the Middle Ages.

    Whenever anyone talks to me about Obamacare, they tell me about how they like getting subsidized health care, or they like to be able to wait until they're actually sick before they get health insurance. Well, it's nice to get things for free, isn't it? I know that I've always loved getting things for free. It's so nice. Unfortunately, it leads to financial disaster, as happened with Nixon's price controls, with Britain's NHS, and with Obamacare.

    Why doesn't Congress just pass a law outlawing hurricanes and earthquakes? Wouldn't that save a lot of lives? Guardian (London)

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    Criminal Veterans Administration director has firing overturned

    Sharon Helman, the former director of the Veterans Administration hospital in Phoenix, has had her firing overturned by a federal appellate court.

    Helman has a criminal conviction for taking bribes from lobbyists, and had been director when it was revealed that veterans were dying because they couldn't get care that they were entitled to, and that Helman and other hospital directors were lying about wait times.

    Like Obamacare and Britain's NHS, the Veterans Administration's health care system is a financial disaster waiting to collapse. And one reason is that even a criminally-convicted perpetrator cannot be fired. USA Today

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-May-17 World View -- Obamacare continues total meltdown as Aetna pulls out completely thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-May-2017) Permanent Link
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    11-May-17 World View -- US will 'quickly' arm Kurdish militias in Syria, despite Turkey's opposition

    Turkish officials furious at plans to arm the Kurds

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    US will 'quickly' arm Kurdish militias in Syria, despite Turkey's opposition


    Vehicles destroyed by Turkish airstrikes on Kurdish targets in Syria on April 25 (Reuters)
    Vehicles destroyed by Turkish airstrikes on Kurdish targets in Syria on April 25 (Reuters)

    The US military is moving quickly to get weapons into the hands of the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG), despite opposition from Turkey. The YPG will use the weapons in its fight against the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), and the effort to eject ISIS from its stronghold in Raqqa.

    The weapons would include small arms, mortars, heavy machine guns, shoulder-fired weapons and ammunition. According to the military, the selected weapons will address the specific threats that ISIS poses, such as the Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDS), or car bombs of the type that ISIS has used to break up assaults.

    The US considers the YPG to be the best and most effective fighting force in Syria versus ISIS. On Wednesday, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), comprising a majority of Kurdish fighters and a minority of Arab fighters from the Syrian Arab Coalition, announced that they had recaptured the town of Tabqa from ISIS. They had announced last week that they had recaptured 90% of Tabqa, and now say that have taken the rest. Tabqa is about 45 km west of Raqqa, which is the final target of the current assault. Military.com and The Hill and Rudaw (Kurdistan)

    Turkish officials furious at plans to arm the Kurds

    On April 25, Turkey's warplanes bombed Kurdish YPG militias that were part of the US-led coalition fighting ISIS, killing or wounding dozens of YPG fighters. Some Turkish officials are threatening additional airstrikes against Kurdish militias if they are armed by the US military.

    The US military has been sending several hundred additional American troops to the region mainly to protect the Kurds from Turkey's military.

    The YPG are the Kurdish militia linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has for decades been a separatist insurgence in Turkey. The PKK has been conducting number terrorist bombings and other attacks, killing more than 1,200 people in Turkey, according to Turkish media.

    Turkish officials consider arming the Kurds to be an existential threat to Turkey. They say that the PKK group has begun adopting a "franchising strategy," in the same way that al-Qaeda has for years "franchised" al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Al-Qaeda on the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and so forth.

    A US army spokesman, Col. John Dorrian, tried to reassure the Turks:

    "All of these items are going to be metered out to accomplish specific objectives for the isolation and liberation of Raqqa.

    We're going to carefully monitor what's being provided and what it's used for, and we are completely committed to make sure that it's being used for exactly the purpose that we intend."

    However, Turkish politicians point out that it's particularly humiliating to Turkey that this announcement was made while Turkish officials are in Washington, preparing for a visit by Turkey's president Tayyip Recep Erdogan next week on May 16. Some are recommending that Erdogan cancel the visit.

    I've said in the past, the factions fighting in Syria today -- the US, the Syrian regime, Russia, the Kurds, the Turks, and the "moderate" regime opposition -- all these factions are united today because they're all fighting the common enemy, ISIS. But once ISIS is defeated in Raqqa, ISIS's headquarters, then all bets are off. In particular, unless the American troops protecting the Kurds from the Turks are going to be stationed there forever, we can be certain that the Turks will be fighting the Kurds again. Anadolu (Turkey) and Washington Post and Hurriyet (Turkey)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-May-17 World View -- US will 'quickly' arm Kurdish militias in Syria, despite Turkey's opposition thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-May-2017) Permanent Link
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    10-May-17 World View -- Trump considers new troop surge and strategy change in Afghanistan war

    Generational analysis: Afghanistan war versus Iraq war

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Trump considers new troop surge and strategy change in Afghanistan war


    American soldier at the Afghan border
    American soldier at the Afghan border

    According to a number of reports, President Donald Trump is considering a plan to send an additional 3,000 to 5,000 American troops to Afghanistan for a new "troop surge." These would add to the 8,400 US troops already there, as well as 300 Nato troops.

    The reports indicate two changes in strategy.

    First, the troop levels would be heavily conditioned on the ability of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to weed out ineffective military commanders and reduce corruption,

    Second, the troop surge would be combined with a new military strategy to threaten the Taliban with defeat so that they would return to the negotiating table.

    Both of these conditions are laughable. Afghanistan is entering a generational Awakening era and Ghani has less political control than ever over dissident forces. And the Taliban will never agree to a peace agreement. They may attend so-called peace talks, but only for the purpose of providing political cover for continuing the war, and for conducting further terrorist attacks, particularly against Shia Muslims. This is similar to Syria's president Bashar al-Assad who uses peace conferences and peace agreements as political cover to continue dropping barrel bombs with chemical weapons on innocent Sunni Muslim women and children. Military.com and Washington Post and Business Insider

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    Generational analysis: Afghanistan war versus Iraq war

    I've written about this a number of times, starting in 2009, when President Obama was considering what strategy to use in Afghanistan. He eventually decided on a "surge" in Afghanistan leading to a troop strength of 100,000, but it was a complete farce, with repeated flip-flops on troop withdrawals, and laughable attempts at peace talks with the Taliban.

    President Bush's 2007 troop "surge" into Iraq was highly successful. Al-Qaeda in Iraq was driven out and the country was at peace, although many claim that the peace was squandered by President Obama's withdrawal two years later.

    So it's very tempting to try to repeat the Iraq troop surge in Afghanistan. In fact, Obama did try that, with complete failure, as I predicted in 2009. So now Trump is considering the same thing and the prediction that it will end in total failure is the same. To understand this, let's look at the difference between the Iraq and Afghan wars from the point of view of generational theory.

    Both countries are in generational Awakening eras, having had relative recent generational crisis wars -- the Iran/Iraq war of 1980-88, and the Afghanistan civil war of 1991-96. Both of these wars were horrendously bloody, ending in a genocidal climax that brought peace to the respective countries for a time.

    But the Iran/Iraq war was an external war, with an external enemy, Iran. In fact, in Iraq's last two crisis wars -- the Great Iraqi Revolution of 1920 and the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s, Sunni and Shia Iraqis banded together against the foreign enemy, the British in 1920 and the Iranians in the 1980s. They did not fight each other. Thus, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and al-Qaeda in Iraq were able to stir up sectarian violence for a while, but al-Zarqawi had to import fighters from Jordan and Saudi Arabia because the Iraqis refused to fight. Eventually the Iraqis themselves turned against al-Qaeda in Iraq, and threw them out. My 2007 analysis of the war in Iraq was the best analysis written by anyone at that time, and explained all this in detail.

    Even today, Iraq is fighting an external war. The so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) is a coalition of foreign jihadists from 86 countries around the world, most of whom came to Syria to fight Bashar al-Assad. Right now the Iraqi army (ironically with the help of the Iranians) is attacking the last of Iraq's ISIS fighters in Mosul. There have been some flare-ups of Iraqi Shias fighting Iraqi Sunnis, but that's not the main thing that's happening in Iraq.

    But none of that is true of the Afghan war. The 1991-1996 war was a civil war, fought between the Pashtuns in southern Afghanistan versus the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan. The Taliban are radicalized Pashtuns, and when they need to import foreign fighters, then can import their cousins from the Pashtun tribes in Pakistan -- which is in a generational Crisis era, and in which the Taliban are conducting regular terrorist acts.

    The fact that the Iraq war was an external war, while the Afghan war was a civil war means that the two wars have absolutely nothing in common. To apply the strategy of one of these wars to the other is disastrously wrong.

    Indeed, it's much worse than that. The Pashtuns still have scores to settle with the Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks that formed the Northern Alliance, especially the Shias. The Taliban may sit in on peace talks to gain political cover but they will never, under any circumstances, agree to a peace deal, no matter how large the American troop surge. To believe anything else is pure fantasy. US News and Vox and Politico

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-May-17 World View -- Trump considers new troop surge and strategy change in Afghanistan war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-May-2017) Permanent Link
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    9-May-17 World View -- Russia, Iran and Turkey announce yet another farcical new Syria peace plan

    Syria refuses to permit foreign monitors

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Russia, Iran and Turkey announce yet another farcical new Syria peace plan


    Two girls walk past destroyed buildings in Douma, Syria, part of a planned 'safe zone' (AFP)
    Two girls walk past destroyed buildings in Douma, Syria, part of a planned 'safe zone' (AFP)

    Every few months, Russia or the United Nations announces a new peace plan to end the war in Syria. Each time, the mainstream media credulously reports that there's finally "hope" that the war will end. Each time, I always use the word "farcical" to describe the peace plan, because the plan never even makes sense. And each time, the plan falls apart within a few weeks.

    In January, just a mere four months ago, I described the peace plan being signed at that time as follows:

    "What's wrong with this picture: There's a civil war in Syria between the Shia/Alawites versus the Sunnis. On Tuesday, Russia, Iran and Turkey signed a peace agreement.

    The thing that's wrong with this picture is that nobody from Syria signed the agreement. It was an agreement among outsiders, and did not include any parties who are nominally the opponents in Syria's civil war.

    The peace talks were held in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan. Syrian civil war peace talks in the past were held in Geneva, so having these talks in Astana gives that "this time it's different" feeling to the meeting. ...

    However the main reason, according to analysts, that this time it's different is that Russia is making it clear that it's willing to enforce a peace in Syria, so that it will get the credit for bringing about peace."

    Exactly the same description applies to the peace agreement signed on Friday. The meetings were being held again in Astana, and the same three (non-Syrian) parties signed the agreement, while the parties that are fighting on the ground did not sign it.

    In this peace agreement, there will be four "safe zones" or "de-escalation areas." The safe zones will be surrounded by "security zones," which will be patrolled to ensure the peace.

    Here are some excerpts from the text of the agreement:

    "The Islamic Republic of Iran, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkey as guarantors of the observance of the ceasefire regime in the Syrian Arab Republic (hereinafter referred to as “Guarantors”): ... have agreed on the following.

    1.the following de-escalation areas shall be created with the aim to put a prompt end to violence, improve the humanitarian situation and create favorable conditions to advance political settlement of the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic: [listing areas in Idlib, Homs, Ghouta, southern Syria]. ...

    The creation of the de-escalation areas and security zones is a temporary measure, the duration of which will initially be 6 months and will be automatically extended on the basis of consensus of the Guarantors.

    2.Within the lines of the de-escalation areas:

    —hostilities between the conflicting parties (the government of the Syrian Arab Republic and the armed opposition groups that have joined and will join the ceasefire regime) with the use of any kinds of weapons, including aerial assets, shall be ceased; ...

    The functioning of the checkpoints and observation posts as well as the administration of the security zones shall be ensured by the forces of the Guarantors by consensus. Third parties might be deployed, if necessary, by consensus of the Guarantors. ...

    As usual, this is laughable. The Syrian regime and the armed rebels have not signed on to this agreement, but hostilities between them "with the use of any kinds of weapons, including aerial assets, shall be ceased." You've got to be joking.

    In fact, as in the case of every other "peace agreement," there is no intention that the fighting stop. The Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad reserves the right to continue bombing any places that contain people they consider to be terrorists, and that includes schools, hospitals and marketplaces, using barrel bombs or any other kind of bomb. The opposition rebel groups have also reserved the right to fight the regime in case of what they view is any regime violation of the agreement. And of course the al-Qaeda linked al-Nusra Front, and so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) are not included in the deal in any way.

    According to US Defense Secretary James Mattis:

    "It's all in process right now. Who is going to be ensuring they're safe? Who is signing up for it? Who is specifically to be kept out of them? All these details are to be worked out, and we're engaged."

    According to the text of the agreement, the maps of the four safe zones have not yet been drawn up, and won't be drawn up until June. Gulf News and The Hill and Arab News

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    Syria refuses to permit foreign monitors

    The only significant difference between this and previous agreements is that this agreement specifies that military forces will be deployed to guarantee the security of the safe zones. The assumption is that these will be international forces, since none of the parties doing the fighting in Syria can be trusted.

    So on Monday, Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Muallem announced:

    "We do not accept a role for the United Nations or international forces to monitor the agreement. ...

    If any violation takes place, the Syrian army will be prepared to respond in a decisive manner."

    So who's going to respond if the Syrian regime commits a violation? Once again, this is completely laughable.

    It's almost beyond belief how much destruction that Syria's president Bashar al-Assad has caused. He drops barrel bombs laden with metal, chlorine, ammonia, phosphorous and chemical weapons onto civilian neighborhoods, or uses Sarin gas to kill large groups of people. He considers all Sunni Muslims to be cockroaches to be exterminated. Tens of thousands of young jihadists came to Syria from 86 countries around to world to fight al-Assad, creating ISIS. Al-Assad has driven millions of Syrians out of their homes, into Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Europe.

    So now we have this Russian proposal for four "safe zones" containing all the Sunni men, women and children that al-Assad has been trying to exterminate for the last six years. The Arab media is calling them "prisons" or "concentration camps," because all of these Sunni groups will be trapped in there, unable to leave. And who will be guarding these safe zones? The Syrian army, led by Bashar al-Assad, who would like to exterminate all their residents.

    As I've said many times, there is no hope of this war ending, as long as Bashar al-Assad is in power. AFP and Rudaw (Kurdistan) and SANA (Damascus) and Arab News

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-May-17 World View -- Russia, Iran and Turkey announce yet another farcical new Syria peace plan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-May-2017) Permanent Link
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    8-May-17 World View -- Ancient tensions flare between China and North Korea

    China's relations deteriorate with both South and North Korea

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Ancient tensions flare between China and North Korea


    North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un (KCNA/AFP)
    North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un (KCNA/AFP)

    As two ancient civilizations and neighbors, China and Korea have had many disagreements over the centuries, and tensions and wars have been the norm. However, during the last century, they've been united by their common enmity to Japan before World War II, and to the United States after World War II.

    Now as both countries go deeper into a generational Crisis era, like most countries today, they're both becoming increasingly nationalistic and xenophobic. They both frequently continue to express their hatred of Japan and the United States, but increasingly this nationalism is causing them to turn on each other.

    China has numerous concerns about North Korea, including these:

    Tensions between the two countries have been growing almost continually since 2006, when DPRK (North Korea, the "Democratic People's Republic of Korea") conducted its first nuclear bomb test. At that time, Chinese state media said that "China resolutely opposes DPRK's nuclear test," and quoted China's Foreign Ministry as saying:

    "The DPRK ignored universal opposition of the international community and flagrantly conducted the nuclear test on Oct. 9. The Chinese government is resolutely opposed to it."

    China's Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing talked over telephone with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and they agreed that North Korea's nuclear tests must be firmly opposed. The United Nations Security Council held an emergency session to opposed the DPRK nuclear test.

    Since then, countries around the world have strongly and vehemently opposed North Korea's nuclear program. This has included China, which has applied economic sanctions to North Korea, most recently restricting coal imports from North Korea.

    North Korea's leaders say that they fear an invasion by the United States, and they're known to believe that the only protection they have against such an invasion is the development of nuclear weapons. They believe that the West would not have invaded either Libya or Iraq if these countries hadn't given up their nuclear weapons development.

    On Wednesday, North Korean state media KCNA published a scathing attack on China:

    "A string of absurd and reckless remarks are now heard from big neighboring countries, perhaps frightened at the U.S. blackmail and war racket, every day only to render the acute situation of the Korean peninsula more strained.

    The People's Daily and the Global Times, widely known as media speaking for the official stand of the Chinese party and government, have recently carried commentaries asserting that the DPRK's access to nukes poses a threat to the national interests of China. They shifted the blame for the deteriorated relations between the DPRK and China onto the DPRK and raised lame excuses for the base acts of dancing to the tune of the U.S.

    Those commentaries claimed that the DPRK poses a threat to "the security in the northeastern region of China" by conducting nuclear tests less than 100 km away from its border with China. They even talked rubbish that the DPRK strains the situation in Northeast Asia and "offers the U.S. excuses for deploying more strategic assets" in the region.

    Not content with such paradox, the commentaries asserted that to remain averse to the DPRK's access to nukes is to preserve interests common to the U.S. and China, calling for slapping harsher sanctions against the DPRK in order to avert a war which would bring danger to China. ...

    This is just a wanton violation of the independent and legitimate rights, dignity and supreme interests of the DPRK and, furthermore, constitutes an undisguised threat to an honest-minded neighboring country which has a long history and tradition of friendship. ...

    Some theorists of China are spouting a load of nonsense that the DPRK's access to nukes strains the situation in Northeast Asia and offers the U.S. an excuse for beefing up its strategic assets in the region. But the U.S. had activated its strategy for dominating Asia-Pacific long before the DPRK had access to nukes, and its primary target is just China.

    China should acknowledge in an honest manner that the DPRK has just contributed to protecting peace and security of China, foiling the U.S. scheme for aggression by waging a hard fight in the frontline of the showdown with the U.S. for more than seven decades, and thank the DPRK for it. ...

    One must clearly understand that the DPRK's line of access to nukes for the existence and development of the country can neither be changed nor shaken and that the DPRK will never beg for the maintenance of friendship with China, risking its nuclear program which is as precious as its own life, no matter how valuable the friendship is. ...

    China had better ponder over the grave consequences to be entailed by its reckless act of chopping down the pillar of the DPRK-China relations."

    China's state media responded directly:

    "The KCNA opinion piece contains no new substantive information, except mentioning the names of China, People's Daily, and Global Times and expressing a stronger disgruntling. It did not mention China's support for the United Nations sanctions against North Korea. Nor did it state Pyongyang's next step to take. Overall, the editorial is nothing more than a hyper-aggressive piece completely filled with nationalistic passion.

    Pyongyang obviously is grappling with some form of irrational logic over its nuclear program. ...

    Beijing needs to make China’s standing and position very clear to Pyongyang, either on an official or grassroots level. It needs to address with Pyongyang its concerns and bottom line. It should also make Pyongyang aware that it will react in unprecedented fashion if Pyongyang conducts another nuclear test. Beijing should not hesitate in delivering this message, and there is certainly no need to debate this issue back and forth with Pyongyang."

    Probably the most important sentence is: "[Beijing] should also make Pyongyang aware that it will react in unprecedented fashion if Pyongyang conducts another nuclear test."

    So we have the following situation:

    The Diplomat and Xinhua (9-Oct-2006) and Rodong Sinmun (North Korea) and Global Times (Beijing) and Times of India

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    China's relations deteriorate with both South and North Korea

    China's relations with North Korea have been deteriorating steadily with North Korea for over a decade, but China's relations with South Korea have crashed almost overnight.

    Just two years ago, there was a "brand new honeymoon" in relations between China and South Korea. President Park Geun-hye visited Beijing on September 3, 2015, during the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War. Park was treated like visiting royalty, and even had a private lunch with China's president Xi Jinping.

    Then, in July 2016, Park announced her decision to deploy the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) system on South Korean soil. This was specifically a reaction to ballistic missile and nuclear threats from North Korea, but it infuriated China because THAAD's powerful radar could also give early warning to the United States of a pre-emptive missile attack by China on the United States.

    On February 28 of this year, news broke that the Lotte Group, a South Korean multinational conglomerate, had agreed to a land swap that would allow THAAD to be deployed on a piece of land previously owned by the company. This enraged the Chinese, who furiously started imposing economic sanctions on South Korea, particularly targeting Lotte Department Stores in China and South Korea with a boycott.

    So now China is imposing economic boycotts on both North and South Korea, for different but related reasons. There's another irony to the situation: Even though China has an economic boycott on South Korean products, China is increasing its imports of petroleum products from South Korea, with an increase of 2.6% over the previous year. The reason is because there's a supply shortage of energy products in China, exacerbated by the fact that China is no longer importing coal from North Korea.

    These issues are all very recent, but there are also deeply historical issues separating China and Korea. Since 2003, China has been developing a "Northeastern History Project" with the intention of proving that regions that have historically been recognized as belonging to Korea's history and culture, on China's northeastern border with Korea, are really all Chinese. In other words, just as China is confiscating regions historically belonging to Vietnam, Brunei and the Philippines in the South China Sea, China is also planning to confiscate regions historically belonging to Korea.

    So there may be ephemeral ups and downs in the relations between China and each of the two Koreas, but these two civilizations have been around for millennia, and the norm is very tense relations, usually leading to war.

    Deng Xiaoping, China's leader in the 1980s, said, "Observe calmly; secure our position; cope with affairs calmly; hide our capacities and bide our time; be good at maintaining a low profile; and never claim leadership."

    This has been China's strategy to implement the "China dream." As I've been describing for years, China has been using a "salami-slicing strategy" of using military force to annex one portion after another of regions of the South China Sea historically belonging to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan and the Philippines. By doing so gradually, China's hopes to prevent any counter-action. At the same time, China has been vastly building up its military, on land, in space and on the sea, but then pretending that they're a tiny power compared to the United States. In this way, they follow Deng's advice, hoping to surprise the world with their military strength in the same way that Adolf Hitler surprised Britain.

    Unfortunately, China keeps getting bitten by mosquitoes that send it off-course. China was enormously humiliated by the dramatic 2016 ruling by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague declaring China's claims and activities in the South China Sea to be illegal. This hasn't stopped China, of course, but it's exposed to the world the danger in allowing China's salami-slicing strategy to continue.

    Another mosquito is North Korea, which has put China's entire foreign policy into a tailspin. Instead of being able to blame all the world's problems on the United States, while it continues its vast military buildup in obscurity, China has to cope with the fact that North Korea is more a danger to China than it is to the United States. Even worse, the North Korean situation is directly responsible for the THAAD deployment in South Korea, which could never have occurred otherwise.

    The fact is that China making enemies of one country after another. China has a few allies, such as Cambodia, Pakistan, Myanmar, and others, but China is surrounded by historic enemies, including Japan, Korea, Philippines, Vietnam, India, Russia, and many others. When China finally decides that it's time to declare war on the United States, they will not be fighting the United States alone. The Diplomat and Yonhap News (Seoul) and SinoNK (3-Mar-2012) and The Atlantic (15-Apr-2013) and Council on Foreign Relations

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-May-17 World View -- Ancient tensions flare between China and North Korea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-May-2017) Permanent Link
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    7-May-17 World View -- European officials worry that Macedonia's chaos could destabilize the Balkans

    Macedonia comments reveal acrimonious divisions in the Western Balkans

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    European officials worry that Macedonia's chaos could destabilize the Balkans


    Protesters in front of parliament in Skopje, Macedonia, on Tuesday (Reuters)
    Protesters in front of parliament in Skopje, Macedonia, on Tuesday (Reuters)

    Two weeks ago, thousands of ethnic nationalist Macedonians surrounded Macedonia's parliament building in the capital city Skopje, and then stormed the building, as we reported at the time. More than 100 people were injured, including protestors, policemen and lawmakers.

    The protests have been continuing, although there's been no further violence, but there are concerns of more violence when a political deadline passes in ten days.

    The protests were triggered when an ethnic Albanian, Talat Xhaferi, was elected Speaker of the Parliament. Xhaferi was also a leader of the Albanian anti-government rebellion in a brief Albanian-Macedonian non-crisis civil war in 2001, raising new fears about a renewal of the civil war.

    Macedonia's politics became chaotic after December 11 of last year, when an election was held with the two major parties, the SDSM (Social Democratic Union of Macedonia), led by Zoran Zaev, and the VMRO-DPMNE (Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization), led by Nikola Gruevski, winning an almost equal number of seats in the parliament. (Paragraph updated, 7-May)

    The SDSM party broke the deadlock by forming a coalition with several Albanian parties, thus giving themselves a parliamentary majority, controlling at least 67 of the 120 seats in parliament. However, the VMRO party under Prime Minister Gruevski have been governing the country for more than a decade, and were reluctant to give up power. The situation was further complicated by the fact that if Gruevski loses power, then he's liable to go to jail over accusations of mass-wiretapping of opposition politicians. Two years ago, a wiretapping scandal revealed that the government had tapped the phones of over 26,000 people, including politicians, journalists, and civil society activists.

    Since December the government has been in chaos, since the pro-Macedonian president, Gjorge Ivanov, refused to recognize the SDSM government, and allow Zaev to become prime minister. He claimed that doing so would "Albanianize" Macedonia by allowing wider official use of the Albanian language, which was a demand of the Albanian parties in return for joining the SDSM coalition.

    So two weeks ago, the SDSM and Albanian coalition in the parliament selected ethnic Albanian Talat Xhaferi as speaker of the parliament. This selection infuriated Ivanov and the nationalist Macedonian supporters of the VMRO party, triggering the bloody riots. The protests have been continuing since then, with thousands of VMRO supporters turning out in Skopje on Tuesday, although there has been no more violence.

    On Thursday, Xhaferi sent a letter to Ivanov, noting that a "parliament majority has been established" and that he expects the president to act according to the constitution, and give control of the government to the SDSM, and allow Zoran Zaev to become prime minister, putting an end to more than a decade in power for the VMRO.

    Ivanov nas not yet confirmed that he received the letter. He has ten days to respond to the letter. No matter what action or inaction he takes on that day, there may be more violence. Balkan Insight and European Council On Foreign Relations and BBC

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    Macedonia comments reveal acrimonious divisions in the Western Balkans

    The article on Macedonia that I wrote two weeks ago was cross-posted as usual on the Breitbart National Security site, and received dozens of the most acrimonious and vitriolic comments that any of my articles have ever received. These comments came from all sides -- especially the Macedonians, the Greeks, the Albanians and the Bulgarians.

    Greek commenters were particularly infuriated by my brief history of Alexander the Great, referring to him as "the most famous leader in Macedonia's history." Here's a brief summary of the comments by Greek readers:

    Macedonians reject all of this:

    There's an interesting question here: How long do two population groups have to be separated before they can be called separate ethnic groups? It may (or may not) be true that Macedonians were Bulgarians in the Middle Ages, but that was many centuries ago. Having been apart from the Bulgarians for centuries, today they're recognized as a distinct Macedonian ethnic group by almost every nation outside of Greece, and they're recognized by the United Nations and European Union as Macedonians.

    As for Alexander the Great, today's Macedonians and Greeks each claim him as their own. This is an issue that will probably never be settled peacefully.

    A number of Albanian commenters criticized my use of the phrase "Greater Albania," a movement to enlarge Albania by including ethnic Albanian populations from neighboring countries, including Macedonia and Kosovo. Some claimed that no such movement exists, although that claim appears not to be true, as can be determined by googling the words "Greater Albania." However, other comments gave a more nuanced explanation, that the phrase "Greater Albania" was invented by the Serbs and the Russians to cover up a movement for a "Greater Serbia."

    One commenter said, "We Albanian Muslims live in peace with Christian Albanians. It's only the Serbs and Macedonians who we cannot live in peace with us due to historical territorial claims."

    There is some truth to the claim of meddling by the Russians. The Russian government is backing the VMRO and Nikola Gruevski, and Russia's foreign ministry issued a statement in March:

    "With active cooperation of the EU and NATO officials, an 'Albanian platform' created in Tirana [Albania's capital city], in the office of the (Albanian) prime minister, is being imposed on Macedonians."

    My article on Macedonia is turning out to be one of the most acrimoniously contentious that I've ever written, with extreme ideologues on both sides posting vitriolic comments. My conclusion from this situation is that history is repeating itself in the sense that the Balkans region is one of the most explosive regions in the world.

    The Albanians and Turks are mostly Muslim. The Macedonians, Bulgarians, Serbs, Greeks and Russians are all mostly Orthodox Christian. The Muslim and Orthodox Christian civilizations have had repeated massive wars for centuries, centered in the Balkans, Crimea, and the Caucasus. And as I've been saying for years, Generational Dynamics predicts that there's going to be another massive civilizational war between Muslims and Orthodox Christians.

    The conflict between ethnic Macedonians and ethnic Albanians, with outside "meddling" from Russia, Serbia, Greece, Albania, and the EU, is a microcosm of this coming massive civilizational war, which is why this is an important story. And there have been reports of increasing use of social media in the Balkans to promote neo-Nazism and white supremacy.

    There has been speculation by me and others about where WW III would start -- South China Sea, Kashmir, Mideast, etc. But now I would have to say that the Balkans is moving close to the top of the list. EurActiv and Reuters (2-Mar) and Balkan Insight

    Related Articles

  • Macedonia declares state of emergency along border with Greece (22-Aug-2015)
  • A train station in Macedonia becomes the new European migrant choke point (19-Aug-2015)
  • 22 die in Macedonian police gun battles with Albanian militants (11-May-2015)
  • (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-May-17 World View -- European officials worry that Macedonia's chaos could destabilize the Balkans thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-May-2017) Permanent Link
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    6-May-17 World View -- Kashmir violence surges as India launches massive house-to-house sweep

    Narendra Modi's 'demonetization' program results in more Kashmir bank robberies

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Kashmir violence surges as India launches massive house-to-house sweep


    Rock-throwing youths clash with police in Kashmir (Hindustan Times)
    Rock-throwing youths clash with police in Kashmir (Hindustan Times)

    The conflict between Indian security forces and Kashmiris took another leap higher this week as a force of 3,000 men from security forces began a massive counter-militant operation, the largest seen in decades. Soldiers, paramilitary troopers and policemen started cordon operations and house-to-house searches in 20 villages in and around the restive Shopian district in southern Kashmir, beginning on Thursday.

    The operation follows a terrorist attack in Shopian on Tuesday, when militants attacked a police station and took off with five service rifles. On Wednesday, there were two armed bank robberies in the region, where militants took off with thousands of dollars. After the counter-militant operation began on Thursday, clashes erupted between Kashmiri youth pelting stones at security forces.

    According to one senior police officer, "It is impossible to capture the militants, but we hope there will be contact [exchange of fire] with them in the course of the day."

    Clashes between Kashmiris and security forces increased significantly after July 8 of last year, when Burhan Wani, the leader of the Kashmir separatist group Hizbul Mujahideen, was killed by Indian police fire. Security forces responded harshly to the violence by using pellet guns, with the result that 1,000 people lost their vision in one eye and five were blinded. Thousands of Kashmiri youths were arrested.

    The big surge in violence finally subsided in November, and Indian officials decided that their harsh reprisals had been successful in subduing the violence. However, it now appears that what was subduing the violence was the cold weather, and now that the weather is warming again, the violence is increasing significantly.

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

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

    As the weather has warmed in the last few weeks, the violence has been increasing. Generational Dynamics predicts that Kashmir is returning to full-scale war, re-fighting the extremely bloody partition war of 1947. Exactly when this full-scale war will occur cannot be predicted, but there are still several long, hot months of summer this year, and there is no hope that the clashes will subside until, perhaps, when winter arrives again.

    Many people are comparing the current Kashmir violence with temporary violence that occurred in the 1990s. But there are significant differences between today's violence and the 1990s violence.

    In the 1990s, there were still plenty of survivors of the bloody 1947 partition war, and these people would have held their children back, saying that it's better to suffer a little discrimination than to get killed.

    Today, in a generational Crisis era, young people seem to have no fear of being killed. This represents a significant change of mood. Even more alarming, for the first time, young girls are joining the boys in throwing stones. This change in mood is a significant difference from the 1990s.

    Another difference is that today, local Kashmiri militants are collaborating with militants from Pakistan terror groups, including Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Toiba. The foreign terrorist supply weapons and get advance information about topography, routes, movement of Indian troops. This makes the separatist militants far more dangerous than they were 20 years ago. BBC and Hindustan Times and Geo TV (Pakistan)

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    Narendra Modi's 'demonetization' program results in more Kashmir bank robberies

    As we described above, India's massive counter-militant operation began just after militant attacks on a police stations and two armed bank robberies. During the past seven months, there have been 13 incidents of bank robbery, with militants looting hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    The number of bank robberies has gone up started increasing dramatically in November of last year, and many analysts relate the increase to the 'demonetization' program announced by India's prime minister Narendra Modi at that time. The policy declared high value 500-1000 rupee notes to be worthless, with the stated objective of reducing corruption. However, the policy was something of a disaster, since many people had no valid cash to purchase necessities like food.

    Shortly after the 'demonetization' policy went into effect, India's defense minister Manohar Parrikar bragged that the demonetization program has substantially reduced the amount of violence in Kashmir, by reducing incidents of stone-pelting. According to Parrikar:

    "Earlier, there were rates: Rs 500 for stone pelting [on security forces in Kashmir] and Rs 1,000 for doing something else. PM has brought terror funding to zero. In the last few days after PM's daring move there hasn't been stone pelting on security forces. I congratulate PM for it."

    It's believed that separatist activists were paying stone-pelters in counterfeit notes that had been printed in Pakistan. By making all 500-1000 rupee notes worthless, the counterfeit notes also became worthless.

    Parrikar is correct that the number of stone-throwing incidents fell at that time but, as we stated above, the reduction in violence was actually caused by the cold winter weather, and now that the weather is warming again, stone-throwing incidents are recurring.

    However, another outcome of the demonetization program seems more certain, following the "Law of Unintended Consequences." With the counterfeit 500-1000 Rs notes worthless, militants needed to get cash from another source, and that other source has apparently turned out to be bank robbery. India Today and Rising Kashmir and Kashmir Reader

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-May-17 World View -- Kashmir violence surges as India launches massive house-to-house sweep thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-May-2017) Permanent Link
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    5-May-17 World View -- Italy prepares for possible Mediterranean refugee crisis this summer

    Europeans blame China and 'the freeway effect' for the migrant crisis

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Italy prepares for possible Mediterranean refugee crisis this summer


    Migrants packed into an overcrowded dinghy by human traffickers (EPA)
    Migrants packed into an overcrowded dinghy by human traffickers (EPA)

    The European Union is working on an emergency plan in case a "serious crisis" develops this summer, which would be the situation is 200,000 or more refugees cross the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy.

    In 2016, a record 181,000 migrants crossed from North Africa to Italy via the Mediterranean Sea. From January 1 to April 23 of this year, 36,851 migrants were recorded as crossing -- a 45% increase over the same period last year. Even more concerning is the fact that summer hasn't even arrived, and when it does, a huge surge of migrants is expected. The concerns are that total for the year may be close to 300,000.

    According to the Dublin Agreement that defines the principles of the European Union, member states are expected to show "solidarity" in managing the refugee problem, so that the entire burden doesn't fall on Italy. However, there's little agreement on what the term "solidarity" means. The current requirements are that refugees should be distributed to all 28 member states. The target last year for relocation was 160,000 asylum seekers, but because several member states object to having any asylum seekers at all relocated to their countries, only about 15,000 people have been distributed so far in the last two years.

    One proposed solution is that cash will be used to encourage countries to meet their quotas. The proposal is that each country will be paid €60,000 for every asylum seeker they take in above their assigned quota, and those not meeting their quotas would be charged the same amount.

    On Thursday, the European Commission issued a press release proposing "a sustainable and fair Common European Asylum System." According to Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs:

    "If the current refugee crisis has shown one thing, it is that the status quo of our Common European Asylum System is not an option. The time has come for a reformed and more equitable system, based on common rules and a fairer sharing of responsibility. With the proposed reform of the Dublin system, [and the creation of a] true European Agency for Asylum, today we are taking a major step in the right direction and putting in place the European-level structures and tools necessary for a future-proof comprehensive system. We will now put all our efforts into working side-by-side with the European Parliament and Member States. We must turn these proposals into reality as swiftly as possible."

    If the history of the past two years shows anything, it's that no current proposal has any chance of working. If move than 200,000 migrants from Libya reach the shores of Italy this year, it truly will be a crisis. Der Spiegel and EU Observer (27-Mar) and European Commission and Malta Today

    Europeans blame China and 'the freeway effect' for the migrant crisis

    Decades ago, when America was first building a national highway system, people talked about "the freeway effect." If some particular auto route was always jammed with heavy traffic, then a limited access superhighway (also called a "freeway") would be built to replace it. However, with the availability of the new freeway, a lot more people would start driving, and so pretty soon the traffic would be just as bad as ever. That was "the freeway effect."

    The same kind of thing is happening in the Mediterranean. After some well-publicized drowning of hundreds of migrants in capsized boats, the European Union has made enormous efforts rescue migrants who might otherwise drown. Furthermore, the EU's Frontex organization has been joined by dozens of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that are also rescuing migrants crossing the Mediterranean. As greater efforts have been made, more migrants have been encouraged to risk making the trip, contributing to the worsening of the migrant crisis, and creating a "taxi service to Europe."

    A scandal is brewing over the NGOs. Carmelo Zuccaro, an Italian prosecutor is claiming to have evidence that some of the NGOs are colluding with the human traffickers who send the migrants out on flimsy boats to be rescued, with the suggestion that some of the NGOs are encouraging the increase in migrant traffic in order to receive more funding.

    The human traffickers have become increasingly unscrupulous in taking advantage of the massive rescue efforts. For example, they've been packing up to 170 people onto inflatable rubber dinghies that can only safely transport 15 people. The engines have only enough fuel to make it out of Libyan waters, and the smugglers have been relying on the rescue efforts by Frontex and the NGOs to save the migrants from drowning. However, over 1,000 migrants have already lost their lives this year alone in the Mediterranean.

    Some EU officials are blaming China for the problem.

    In a story about migrants early last year, I reported that human traffickers were importing massive numbers of rubber dinghies manufactured in China, transshipped through Malta.

    Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs, whom we quoted earlier, is visiting China this week, and made this statement:

    "The rubber boats used by the smuggler networks in the Mediterranean are fabricated somewhere in China, they are exported to the countries in Asia and they are used by them. So I requested the support and cooperation from the Chinese authorities in order to track down this business and dismantle it, because what they produce is not serving the common good of the country. It is a very dangerous tool in the hands of ruthless smugglers."

    There's no word on whether the Chinese government is going to help out Europe by shutting down its rubber dinghy business. Reuters and New Arab (23-Apr) and Reuters

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-May-17 World View -- Italy prepares for possible Mediterranean refugee crisis this summer thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-May-2017) Permanent Link
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    4-May-17 World View -- Channeling Sisyphus, Trump and Abbas say Mideast peace not as hard as it looks

    Donald Trump and Mahmoud Abbas commit to work for historic Mideast peace deal

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Donald Trump and Mahmoud Abbas commit to work for historic Mideast peace deal


    Mahmoud Abbas and Donald Trump shake hands at the White House on Wednesday (Getty)
    Mahmoud Abbas and Donald Trump shake hands at the White House on Wednesday (Getty)

    Meeting in the White House on Wednesday, president Donald Trump met with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, and agreed to work together to reach a historic peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians.

    In the briefing that followed the meeting, Trump recalled that Abbas had participated in the development of the Oslo Peace Accords in 1994:

    "Almost 24 years ago, it was on these grounds that President Abbas stood with a courageous peacemaker, then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Here at the White House, President Abbas signed a Declaration of Principles -- very important -- which laid the foundation for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.

    The President -- Mr. President, you [Abbas] signed your name to the first Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. You remember that well, right? And I want to support you in being the Palestinian leader who signs his name to the final and most important peace agreement that brings safety, stability, and prosperity to both peoples and to the region."

    Trump didn't mention what a disastrous failure the Oslo peace accords have been. Another thing that Trump neglected to mention was that year later, in 1995, Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by an Israeli nationalist who opposed the Oslo peace accords.

    Trump's statement concluded:

    "I welcome President Abbas here today as a demonstration of ... that very special partnership that we all need to make it all work. And I look forward to welcoming him back as a great marker of progress and, ultimately, toward the signing of a document with the Israelis and with Israel toward peace. We want to create peace between Israel and the Palestinians. We will get it done. We will be working so hard to get it done. It's been a long time, but we will be working diligently. And I think there's a very, very good chance, and I think you feel the same way."

    Abbas then responded with his own statement:

    "Mr. President, we believe that we are capable and able to bring about success to our efforts because, Mr. President, you have the determination and you have the desire to see it become to fruition and to become successful. And we, Mr. President, inshallah, God willing, we are coming into a new opportunity, a new horizon that would enable us to bring about peace in that regard. ...

    Mr. President, it’s about time for Israel to end its occupation of our people and of our land after 50 years. We are the only remaining people in the world that still live under occupation. We are aspiring and want to achieve our freedom, our dignity, and our right to self-determination. And we also want for Israel to recognize the Palestinian state just as the Palestinian people recognize the state of Israel.

    Mr. President, I affirm to you that we are raising our youth, our children, our grandchildren on a culture of peace. And we are endeavoring to bring about security, freedom and peace for our children to live like the other children in the world, along with the Israeli children in peace, freedom and security.

    Mr. President, I bring with me today the message of the suffering of my people, as well as their aspiration and hope -- the hopes and aspirations of the Palestinian people from the Holy Land, from that land where the three monotheist religions thrived, and the Jewish faith, the Christian faith and the Muslim faith, where they all coexist together to foster it in an environment of security, peace and stability, and love for all."

    Abbas said that "we are raising our youth, our children, our grandchildren on a culture of peace," but the Palestinian president, born in 1935, neglected to mention that polls indicate that two-thirds of the Palestinian people want him to resign, and consider him irrelevant and unable to do anything to help the Palestinians.

    It's the young people today who will not tolerate a peace settlement of any kind. Many young Israelis consider it to be an almost Messianic mission to build settlements in the West Bank and to defend them with their lives.

    And the young Palestinians have been given the ironic name "Oslo Generation," because they've grown up since the 1994 Oslo agreement and have seen nothing come out of it, and so have no respect for Abbas and other Palestinian leaders.

    So even if Trump and Abbas and Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu did hammer out some kind of agreement, it would be worthless, because the young Israelis and young Palestinians would not honor it. NBC News and WAFA (Palestine) and White House

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    Donald Trump and Mahmoud Abbas try again, channeling Sisyphus

    One of the most well-known characters in Greek Mythology was Sisyphus. In his life he double-crossed Zeus, the king of the gods, as well as the gods of the underworld. For his deceit and trickery, he was condemned to eternal punishment. He would forever roll a massive boulder up to the top of a steep hill, but whenever he neared the top, the rock would roll down to the bottom, and he'd have to start over again.

    So anyway, former president Jimmy Carter once said in Jerusalem that one of the deep regrets of his presidency was that he had not been able to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There were numerous repeated attempts at Mideast peace by Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama.

    I posted my very first Generational Dynamics analysis on May 1, 2003, when president George Bush published his "Mideast Roadmap to Peace," which described the details of a two-state solution. I wrote that Generational Dynamics predicts that the plan would fail because the Jews and the Arabs would be refighting the 1948 war that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. Here's what I wrote:

    "We are now in the early stages of replaying the extremely violent, bloody wars between the Jews and the Palestinians that took place between them from 1936 to 1949. So far the war has been little more than a series of skirmishes, as it was in the late 1930s. The full-fledged violent, bloody war is awaiting a generational change.

    There's an incredible irony going on in the Mideast today, in that the leaders of two opposing sides are, respectively, Ariel Sharon and Yassir Arafat.

    These two men hate each other, but they're the ones cooperating with each other (consciously or not) to prevent a major Mideast conflagration. Both of them remember the wars of the 1940s, and neither of them wants to see anything like that happen again. And it won't happen again, as long as both of these men are in charge.

    The disappearance of these two men will be part of an overall generational change in the Mideast that will lead to a major conflagration within a few years. It's possible that the disappearance of Arafat alone will trigger a war, just as the election of Lincoln ignited the American Civil War. (It's currently American policy to get rid of Arafat. My response is this: Be careful what you wish for.)"

    Since that time, Yassir Arafat died, and was replaced by Mahmoud Abbas, who was also a survivor of the 1948 war and remembered its horrors.

    Since 2006, there have been five wars involving Israel and Palestinians: the war between Israelis and Hezbollah, fought largely on Lebanon's soil in 2006; the war between Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah in Gaza in 2008, that led to Hamas control of Gaza; Operation Cast Lead, the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza early in 2009; the two wars between Israel and Hamas in Gaza in November, 2012 and July-August 2014.

    In addition, the "Arab Spring" began in 2011, resulting in wars in Libya, Yemen and Syria, and unrest in Egypt and Lebanon. Furthermore, tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia have surged as a result of the genocidal acts of Syria's Shia/Alawite president Bashar al-Assad directed at Sunnis. Each day we move closer to a war that will engulf the whole region, between Arabs and Jews, between Sunnis and Shias, and between various ethnic groups such as Kurds versus Turks.

    With wars occurring today across the entire Mideast, can anyone seriously believe today that some piece of paper signed by Abbas, Trump and Netanyahu would actually bring about a new Mideast where Israelis and Palestinians are living together side by side in peace? If there is, I'd like to give him a good deal on selling him the Brooklyn Bridge. Jerusalem Post

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-May-17 World View -- Channeling Sisyphus, Trump and Abbas say Mideast peace not as hard as it looks thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-May-2017) Permanent Link
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    3-May-17 World View -- US military moves to protect Syrian Kurds from Turkey's military

    Kurdish forces in Syria take Tabqa city en route to Raqqa

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Kurdish forces in Syria take Tabqa city en route to Raqqa


    Boy sits on a tank turret amidst the destruction of Syria's war (AFP)
    Boy sits on a tank turret amidst the destruction of Syria's war (AFP)

    There are three different sets of forces operating in Syria: The Syrian regime + Russia, Turkey + the Free Syrian Army (FSA) comprised mainly of ethnic Syrian Turkmens, and the US-led coalition + the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) comprised mostly of Kurds from the People's Protection Units (YPG). Today, these three forces are united by their common enemy, the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

    On Tuesday, the US-backed SDF said that it had recaptured 90% of the city of Tabqa from ISIS. Tabqa is 45 km west of Raqqa, which is the ISIS stronghold, and the main objective of the current operations to defeat ISIS. ISIS captured Raqqa in January 2014.

    The victory is significant because it further establishes the Kurdish YPG as the most effective fighting force in the region against ISIS. Al Jazeera

    US military moves to protect Syrian Kurds from Turkey's military

    As we reported last week, Turkey's warplanes in Syria struck Kurdish militias known as the People's Protection Units, or YPG, who are allies of the US-led coalition fighting ISIS. The YPG said that Turkey's airstrikes, which took place on Tuesday of last week, killed 20 of its fighters and wounded 18 others, and caused extensive damage to YPG headquarters and nearby civilian property.

    The US military considers the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), comprised mostly of YPG Kurds, to be the most effective fighting force in the region against ISIS, but the YPG has links to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has conducted numerous bloody terror attacks in Turkey, and an on-and-off civil war for decades. As a result, the US considers the YPG to be an ally, while Turkey considers them to be an enemy.

    To protect the Kurds from the Turks, US troops in armored vehicles on Friday started patrolling Kurdish areas in Syria as a kind of "buffer" between the Kurds and Turkey. Video from the area shows vehicles with US and Kurdish flags together.

    A statement from the US military says:

    "Coalition forces are conducting joint patrols along the northeastern Syria-Turkey border to assess reports from both the SDF and Turkey regarding skirmishes and cross-border fires between their respective security forces.

    The patrols’ purpose is to discourage escalation and violence between two of our most trusted (counter-ISIS) partners and reinforce the U.S. commitment to both Turkey and the SDF in their fight against ISIS.

    We ask both of our partners to focus their efforts on ISIS. ISIS poses the greatest threat to peace and stability in the region, and indeed the entire world."

    Turkey's president Tayyip Recep Erdogan says that he'll meet with President Trump on May 16th, and he'll say that US support for the YPG Kurds must end, and that the Turkish attacks on YPG Kurds will continue:

    "This needs to end. Otherwise we will have to take the matter into our own hands. It is better for them to live in fear than us being worried [about terror attacks from the PKK]."

    Erdogan said that Turkey needs to "drain the swamp," and that Turkey's military will solve the (PKK) terrorism problem by itself if the US refuses to do so.

    As I've said in the past, the factions fighting in Syria today -- the US, the Syrian regime, Russia, the Kurds, the Turks, and the "moderate" regime opposition -- all these factions are united today because they're all fighting the common enemy, ISIS. But once ISIS is defeated in Raqqa, ISIS's headquarters, then all bets are off. AP and Anadolu (Turkey) and Daily Sabah (Turkey)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-May-17 World View -- US military moves to protect Syrian Kurds from Turkey's military thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-May-2017) Permanent Link
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    2-May-17 World View -- Japan's largest warship, the JS Izumo, will escort and defend a US supply ship

    Japan moves from 'self-defense' to 'collective self-defense'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Japan's largest warship, the JS Izumo, will escort and defend a US supply ship


    A helicopter lands on the decks of the JS Izumo (Reuters)
    A helicopter lands on the decks of the JS Izumo (Reuters)

    Japan's largest naval destroyer, the JS Izumo, has left port on a mission to escort and defend a US supply ship that will refuel the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group, which has been traveling to the region in response to threats from North Korea.

    Something like this would have been unimaginable two years ago, for several reasons. First, it would have been thought unnecessary. Second, it would have been thought to be too provocative to China. And third, it's a dramatic departure Japan's pacifist constitution, adopted after World War II.

    Today, all three of these reasons have changed dramatically, in this generational Crisis era.. First, it's thought to be necessary because North Korea has been making specific threats to target American ships, and has been testing missiles and nuclear weapons in support of that threat.

    Second, both China and North Korea have become increasingly warlike and belligerent, and both have been making implied or explicit military threats. In the last two years, China has had a huge military buildup in the South China Sea, in proven violation of international law, and has been annexing regions in the South China Sea that have been owned or used by other countries for centuries.

    And the third change is an outcome of the previous two. As I've been writing for years, in this generational Crisis era, it seems that almost every nation on earth has become increasingly nationalistic and xenophobic, whether in America, Europe, the Mideast or Asia. The mutual xenophobia between China and Japan has been simmering for a long time, but because of the increased war buildup of both China and North Korea, the mood of Japan's population has become far more nationalistic than before, allowing the prime minister Shinzo Abe to bring about a modification to Japan's pacifist constitution. The Diplomat and BBC

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    Japan moves from 'self-defense' to 'collective self-defense'

    Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe has long been advocating the removal of the self-defense clause of Japan's constitution that forbids any military action except to defend against a military attack on Japanese soil. However, the votes necessary to pass a constitutional amendment have never been available.

    But he was able to get Japan's Diet (parliament) to pass an ordinary law that reinterprets the phrase "self-defense" to mean "collective self-defense." This is a doctrine that permits any country to legally pursue foreign military action anywhere in the world in order to defend its allies.

    There's already been one test of the new "collective self-defense" policy. In November of last year, Japan deployed 350 SDF (Self-Defense Forces) troops to South Sudan to act as peacekeeping forces. There were SDF forces in South Sudan in the past, but they were restricted to non-combat roles such as rebuilding roads and refugee camps. The November deployment permitted them to engage in combat if they're attacked, or if other nations' peacekeepers are attacked. Since then, no actual combat has been reported.

    That was the first time since the end of World War II that Japan's military was permitted to engage in combat for any reason outside of Japanese soil, and even that minor deployment was extremely controversial in Japan.

    The deployment of the JS Izumo to escort and defend a US supply ship is a big leap forward in use of Japan's new collective self-defense doctrine, and will further increase the nationalism in Japan, North Korea and China. Japan Times

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-May-17 World View -- Japan's largest warship, the JS Izumo, will escort and defend a US supply ship thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-May-2017) Permanent Link
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    1-May-17 World View -- France's Eurosceptic Marine Le Pen starts to backtrack on euro policy

    France's presidential election in doubt because of abstainers

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    France's presidential election in doubt because of abstainers


    A youth kicks a teargas canister in Paris on Thursday during a protest against both Le Pen and Macron (AFP)
    A youth kicks a teargas canister in Paris on Thursday during a protest against both Le Pen and Macron (AFP)

    In the upcoming decisive May 7 final round in France's election of a new president, Emmanuel Macron, the centrist 39-year-old former investment banker, is expected to beat 48-year-old far-right candidate Marine Le Pen by about 20 points, based on current polling. Mainstream media observers are hoping for an even bigger Le Pen defeat, which would be a repeat of the 2002 election.

    When Marine Le Pen's father, 73 year old Jean-Marie Le Pen, then leader of the Front National, received 17% of the vote in first round of France's presidential election on April 21, 2002, he knocked the former socialist prime minister, Lionel Jospin, out of the second-round runoff. This was such a shock to the French public, that all other parties and candidates rallied against Le Pen in what was called the "Republican front," and gave the conservative candidate Jacques Chirac a massive victory with 82% of the vote. In other words, Le Pen didn't get any additional votes in the second round than he did in the first.

    Now Marine Le Pen has won 21.3% of the votes in the first round of France's presidential election on April 23, 2017, knocking out the Republican, François Fillon, the Socialist, Benoît Hamon, and the far-left candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon. This sets up a two-way race between Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron, the 39-year-old centrist who won 24% of the vote of the vote in the first round.

    The question is: will another "Republican front" emerge in 2017, as it did in 2002? Will all other parties, candidates and voters unanimously rally against Le Pen, in favor of Macron? We already know that's not going to happen.

    First, Mélenchon is refusing to endorse either Le Pen or Macron. He announced to his supporters:

    "You don't need me to tell you who to vote. I'm not a guru, not a guide."

    After Marine Le Pen responded by saying that she would go after Mélenchon's voters, Mélenchon's spokesman Alexis Corbière said, "Not one vote should go to the National Front," implying that Mélenchon really does support Macron. According to a poll, Mélenchon's voters would break 40% for Macron and 19% for Le Pen -- and 41% would abstain.

    And that's the second major issue: the abstainers. Many college students are opposed to both Le Pen and Macron, and some are violently opposed, as shown on Thursday by several hundred school students who threw glasses and smoke bombs at police during a "Neither Marine, nor Macron" demonstration in Paris.

    One 18-year-old girl told RFI:

    "I don’t want to choose between liberalism and fascism. Don’t need someone who worked for the bank, with his program he’s going to put France in the sh-t, but fascism isn’t the solution either. I don’t want to choose between two diseases."

    Macron left investment banking and launched his political career as economy minister in the Socialist government of the current president, François Hollande. Macron quit Hollande's government in August of last year, and built up his own political following.

    Both Macron and Le Pen have family issues. In 2007, Macron pursued and married a woman 25 years older, the now 64 year old Brigitte Trogneux, a mother of three who left her husband for Macron. Le Pen is twice-divorced mother of three.

    What effects all this will have on the election results is anyone's guess. As in the case of Donald Trump, the mainstream media are opposed to Le Pen to the point of incoherence, so it's impossible to figure out what's going on from media reports. AFP and Deutsche Welle and RFI

    France's Eurosceptic Marine Le Pen starts to backtrack on euro policy

    Marine Le Pen has campaigned against immigration, Islam, globalism, NATO, the European Union, and the euro currency. She has advocated "Frexit," by which she means that France should leave the eurozone and return to the French franc currency, and possibly leave the European Union altogether, just like Britain and Brexit. Many people fear that if she wins, then the entire European project will be in jeopardy.

    However, there are two signs that those fears are overblown.

    The first sign is that the European Union nations appear to have come together in greater unity as a result of the coming negotiations for Britain's leaving the European Union, as we described yesterday.

    The second reason is that Le Pen herself appears to be backtracking on her position on the euro. This would be similar to what's happened with Donald Trump, who backed off some of his extreme positions while the election campaign was still on, and has backed off further since becoming president.

    Le Pen's stated policy platforms in the past have included:

    "To support French companies in the face of unfair international competition through the implementation of intelligent protectionism and the restoration of a national currency adapted to our economy, the vehicle of our competitiveness. ...

    Monetary and budgetary sovereignty, because there is no free-state without a currency, and then economic sovereignty, to be able to implement economic patriotism. ...

    The euro is the currency of the bankers, not the people who have seen the decline of its purchasing power and mass unemployment."

    Le Pen is now facing up to the reality that leaving the euro currency is one of the least popular of her policies, as most of her voter base is more concerned about immigration and Islam.

    So last week, in an interview, she said:

    "This means converting the single currency into a common euro, a currency that will not affect daily purchases, but only large companies that trade internationally."

    She's also loosened her timetable. In past she promised a "Frexit" referendum within six months of taking office, but now she's saying:

    "The transition from the single currency to the European common currency is not a pre-requisite of all economic policy, the timetable will adapt to the immediate priorities and challenges facing the French government.

    Everything will be done to ensure an orderly transition ...and the coordinated construction of the right for each country to control its own currency and its central bank."

    So she's no longer talking about a referendum, and she's no longer talking about leaving the euro currency. As far as I can make out, she wants to have TWO euro currencies, one for international trade, and one for daily purposes. This is totally delusional, and appears to me to be to be a sign of desperation. Euro News and Reuters and Bloomberg

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-May-17 World View -- France's Eurosceptic Marine Le Pen starts to backtrack on euro policy thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-May-2017) Permanent Link
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    30-Apr-17 World View -- European Union lays out demands for Britain over Brexit negotiations

    Sharp disagreements ahead over the 60 billion euro Brexit 'divorce settlement'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    European Union lays out demands for Britain over Brexit negotiations


    EU Commission President Jean-Claude Jüncker (left) and EU Council President Donald Tusk in Brussels on Saturday (Getty)
    EU Commission President Jean-Claude Jüncker (left) and EU Council President Donald Tusk in Brussels on Saturday (Getty)

    The leaders of the EU-27, the 27 member nations of the European Union not including Britain, laid out their negotiating demands for the United Kingdom at a meeting in Brussels on Saturday.

    The UK passed the Brexit referendum, calling for Britain to leave the European Union, on June 23 of last year. On March 29 of this year, Britain's prime minister Theresa May invoked Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, making the Brexit process irreversible, and triggering a two-year period of negotiations before the exit is final. Theresa May has called for new elections on June 8, and so serious negotiations are expected to begin at that time.

    Britain would like to immediately start negotiating a trade deal, but the EU leaders on Saturday said that trade could not be discussed at all until the terms of the "divorce" had been resolved. In particular, the EU-27 is demanding that three questions be resolved first:

    The purpose of Saturday's meeting in Brussels was to get approval from the 27 remaining countries of the EU on the negotiation guidelines. EU officials bragged that the negotiation guidelines were approved unanimously within four minutes.

    The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Jüncker, warned Britain that many British politicians were vastly overestimating the benefits that they'll gain from Brexit, and vastly underestimating the difficulties that they'll have in the Brexit negotiations:

    "We have already prepared a text that could be adopted immediately if our British friends would be willing to sign it, but that probably won’t happen. I have the impression sometimes that our British friends, not all of them, do underestimate the technical difficulties we have to face. ... Privately everything went well but we have a problem, the British want to leave the EU and it's not feasible that it can be done just like that.

    The single question of citizens' rights is in fact a cortège of 25 questions that have to be solved.

    I would like to state very clearly that we need real guarantees for our people who live, work and study in the UK and the same goes for the Brits. The commission has prepared a full list of the rights and benefits that we want to guarantee for those affected by Brexit. To achieve sufficient progress we need a serious British response."

    As an aside, I chuckled at Jüncker's use of the word "cortège." Jüncker was undoubtedly referring to some (unpublished) list of 25 questions, but the word "cortège" is a French word usually used in the context of a funeral procession, which perhaps Jüncker was afraid was happening.

    According to the guidelines, negotiations on trade and other issues cannot begin until the three issues listed above have been resolved. BBC and Daily Mail (London) and EU Negotiation Guidelines

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    Sharp disagreements ahead over the 60 billion euro Brexit 'divorce settlement'

    Britain's prime minister Theresa May rejected some of the hardline demands that were put forth at Saturday's meeting in Brussels. She said that she was sticking to her own demands outlined in a speech earlier this year which included tariff-free trade, ending the jurisdiction of European courts and stopping free movement of migrants.

    According to May, "What matters sitting around that table is a strong Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, with a strong mandate from the people of the United Kingdom which will strengthen our negotiating hand to ensure we get that possible deal."

    One of the most difficult demands will be the Brexit "divorce settlement," the demand that Britain commit to pay 50-60 billion euros to the EU to cover EU spending up until 2020 when the current budget runs out. According to the negotiating guidelines:

    "10. A single financial settlement should ensure that the Union and the United Kingdom both respect the obligations undertaken before the date of withdrawal. The settlement should cover all legal and budgetary commitments as well as liabilities, including contingent liabilities."

    The settlement includes such things as pension payments to British nationals working for EU employers, and spending commitments for contributions to EU projects and social programs, based on past agreements. It also includes guarantees on loans such as the bailout of Ireland, and spending on infrastructure and structural funds agreed to but still to be financed.

    An additional demand is that all amounts must be paid in euros. This is a particularly painful demand, because the British pound currency has lost almost 10% in value since the Brexit referendum passed last year. Telegraph (London) and Daily Mail (London) and Politico (EU)

    Corrections to yesterday's article on Macedonia

    Early versions of yesterday's article on Macedonia contained several errors. They've been corrected in the final version. I apologize for the errors.

    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Apr-17 World View -- European Union lays out demands for Britain over Brexit negotiations thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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    29-Apr-17 World View -- Protesters storm Macedonia's parliament fearing calls for 'Greater Albania'

    Brief generational history of Macedonia

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com