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19-Apr-18 World View -- Thousands of Mali refugees flee into Burkina Faso to escape ethnic violence

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

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One Ottawa columnist summarized the debate as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conflicts between herders and farmers are common in many countries, and I've described them in Central African Republic, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, Nigeria, and even America in the 1800s. As population grows, the farmers accuse the herders of letting the cattle eat their crops, while the herders accuse the farmers of planting on land that's meant for grazing. If the farmers put up fences, then the herders knock them down.

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

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

Brief generational history of Armenia, Turkey and Azerbaijan

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brief generational history of Armenia, Turkey and Azerbaijan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Russia ties itself in knots diplomatically over Syria gas attack

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia ties itself in knots diplomatically over Syria chemical attack


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

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

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

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

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

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

According to a statement by the British government:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Syria blocks OPCW inspectors from visiting site of chemical attack

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

American, British, French attack on Syria signals sharp change in Western policy

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

American, British, French attack on Syria signals sharp change in Western policy


Audience for Saturday's speech by Hezbollah leader Nasrallah (Reuters)
Audience for Saturday's speech by Hezbollah leader Nasrallah (Reuters)

As we reported on Friday evening, the joint attack on Syrian targets by American, British and French forces ended as quickly as it started. The attack was in retaliation for the attack on April 7 by Syria's president Bashar al-Assad on civilians in Douma, using chemical weapons.

The attack occurred at 4 am Syrian time, and was over in minutes. 105 missiles were launched, striking three Syrian chemical weapons targets. The military said that all missiles reached their target, and denied Syrian claims that most (or any) were shot down.

The attack was "one and done," according to Secretary of Defense James Mattis. However, Mattis and other US officials have stated clearly that another attack will follow if al-Assad uses chemical weapons again.

So America's message to Bashar al-Assad is pretty clear: "You may use barrel bombs, missiles, gunfire, and any other conventional weapons on neighborhoods, markets, schools and hospitals, and you may massacre and kill as many women and children as you want, with no retribution. Just don't use chemical weapons."

The targets and time of day of Saturday morning's attack were carefully chosen so as to avoid civilian casualties, particularly Russian casualties. The Russian military did not respond, and it was clear that both the US and Russian side did everything possible to avoid confronting each other.

However, the language used by Russia on Saturday was extremely bitter and angry. And according to Pentagon spokesman Dana White,

"The Russian disinformation campaign has already begun. There has been a 2000 per cent increase in Russian trolls in the last 24 hours."

As someone who is attacked constantly by Russian trolls, this is disheartening news.

At Saturday's UN Security Council meeting by Russia's ambassador Vasily Nebenzya expressed deep anger:

"The US and its allies continue to demonstrate blatant disregard for international law. You are constantly tempted by neocolonialism. You have nothing but disdain for the UN charter, and the Security Council. As a pretext for aggression, you mention the alleged use of chemical weapons in Douma, but after an investigation by Russian experts, it was proven unequivocally that no such attacks took place."

The invocation of international law by Russia is really laughable, as Russia has done everything from invading and annexing Crimea to support the worst genocidal monster so far this century, Bashar al-Assad, without getting approval for anything from the UN Security Council, yet Russian officials become apoplectic when the US or the West does anything to avoid their UNSC veto.

As I've been writing starting in 2011, Russia's president Vladimir Putin adopted a policy of using the UN Security Council to take control of US, Nato and Western foreign policy. Russia took any military action it pleased without getting UNSC approval, but demanded that any other country got UNSC approval for everything. By using its UNSC veto, Russia could effectively control American foreign policy.

This Russian policy has been extremely successful for years, crippling not only Western foreign policy, but the UN Security Council itself. I believe that success reached its peak with the March 4 poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, using a Russia-developed nerve agent Novichok. The British public was incensed that Russia put ordinary British citizens at risk by using Novichok in public, where anyone could be affected, but Russia made matters worse when Russia's president Vladimir Putin smirked and gave a sarcastic answer when a BBC reporter asked about it.

This was following by a series of moronic claims by Russia, including accusing Britain of poisoning the Skripals in order to embarrass Russia. Britain's foreign secretary Boris Johnson gave a furious response to these claims: "There is something in the kind of smug, sarcastic response that we’ve heard that indicates their fundamental guilt. They want to simultaneously deny it, yet at the same time to glory in it."

The Skripal poisoning was an international tipping point, uniting Britain and other nations to no longer tolerate Russia's strategy to use the UNSC to cripple Western foreign policy.

That's why Russian ambassador Vasily Nebenzya and other Russian officials are so bitterly angry. The policy they had successfully used for years is now collapsing in front of them.

Further remarks by the Russians have the appearance of hysterical desperation. There have been horrifying videos of al-Assad's April 7 chemical attack on Douma, but Nebenzya and other Russian officials are claiming that the chemical attack didn't even occur. They claim that the British government paid the "White Helmet" humanitarian workers in Douma to stage the horrifying videos as a Hollywood production. One gets the impression that the Russians as a nation are becoming completely delusional.

Meanwhile, Syrians in Damascus were dancing in the streets on Saturday, because the military strikes were not as bad as feared. Guardian (Australia) and The Hill

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Britain publishes its legal justification for military action

I've always believed that there was plenty of legal justification for American and Western military intervention in Syria. After al-Assad began targeting peaceful protesters in 2011, and particularly after he massacred thousands of innocent women and children in a Palestinian refugee camp in Latakia in August 2011, millions of Syrian citizens began fleeing into neighboring countries, including over a million reaching Europe. Any country has a responsibility to control its own population, but al-Assad had essentially weaponized refugees. If al-Assad can't control its own population, but instead uses them as a weapon, then any target is justified in intervening in the country.

In addition, al-Assad's attack on the Palestinian camp caused tens of thousands of Sunni jihadists to travel from around the world to fight al-Assad. These foreign jihadists formed the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), which has launched terror attacks on other countries. Once again, if al-Assad can't control ISIS, then any country threatened by ISIS is justified in intervening. In fact, the US military intervention in Syria has succeeded in recapturing all territory formerly occupied by ISIS, although ISIS is far from completely defeated.

So the West certainly has plenty of justifications for military intervention in Syria, but al-Assad's use of chemical weapons doubles down on those justifications.

But in the end, the justification for this kind of military action has less to do with international law, and more to do with domestic politics. For that reason, the British government has published a humanitarian justification policy paper for Saturday's military action. Here's a brief summary:

The Syrian regime's use of chemical weapons is a war crime and a crime against humanity.

Under international law, the UK may use force for humanitarian intervention, provided that three conditions are met:

The policy paper goes on to explain why all three conditions have been met. BBC and UK Government

Iran, Hezbollah and Syria threaten retaliation against Israel

Although the debate over Saturday's airstrikes has dominated news coverage since the April 7 chemical attack, there's a completely different parallel issue in play, which may be even more dangerous.

On Monday last week, Israel attacked Syria's T4 airbase (Tayfur airport), because the airbase is considered a threat to Israel. Apparently seven Iranians were killed in the attack.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah says that the attack put Israel into direct combat with Iran:

"You made a historic mistake and a great folly which brings you into direct confrontation with Iran.

This is the first time in 7 years that the Israelis have deliberately killed Iranian revolutionary guards. Attacking T-4 airport is a pivotal incident in the history of the region that can’t be ignored.

Iran is not a weak or a cowardly state, and you know that well. The Israeli have false calculation. You will have to face the Islamic Republic of Iran.

All those thousands of terrorists in Syria do not concern the Israeli while they have every kind of weapons, however, they are afraid of just few revolutionary guards there."

According to the BBC, Syria, Iran and Russia are all expressing quiet relief that Saturday's missile attack was considerably more limited than was expected. But it did evoke a sense of greater defiance, with the three entities calling themselves the "Axis of Resistance," and referring to Western powers as "paper tigers," a phrase used by China's Mao Zedong in the 1960s to describe the United States.

It's generally believed that Iran must retaliate for Israel's airstrike, killing several Iranian revolutionary guards. This could be a far more dangerous confrontation than even Saturday's missile strikes.

Long time readers are aware that Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other. Events appear to be moving very quickly now. Al Manar (Hezbollah) and Reuters and Al-Jazeera

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Apr-18 World View -- Iran, Hezbollah and Syria threaten retaliation against Israel thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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14-Apr-18 World View -- DR Congo boycotts its own international humanitarian conference for DR Congo

U.S., France, Britain launch Syria attack in retaliation for al-Assad's use of chemical weapons

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

UN says DR Congo humanitarian crisis at highest emergency level


A refugee Congolese woman and children (dpa)
A refugee Congolese woman and children (dpa)

Jan Egeland, the former head of the UN's emergency humanitarian relief office, was shocked by the catastrophic and growing humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and how the international community is ignoring the DRC crisis:

"This is up there with Yemen and Syria in terms of number of people in desperate need. I was not prepared of for the scale of the suffering, frankly.

Since the Congolese are not coming to the Mediterranean, since the Congolese are not part of a Russian-US or Saudi-Iran battle, they are being ignored really."

According to the United Nations, 13 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, 4.5 million people are displaced from their homes, more than 7 million face severe food insecurity, and two million children at risk of starvation.

In the past, I've written about the bloody wars in the southwestern Kasai region, where the armies and militias reporting to the government of president Joseph Kabila are committing genocide; about the bloody tribal wars in northeastern Kivu region, causing massive refugee flows into Uganda; about the massive corruption of Joseph Kabila, skimming billions of dollars out of the treasury and providing it to his family and cronies; and of his repeated stunts of refusing to hold elections, so that he can't be replaced as president.

As we reported in February, another a humanitarian disaster of "extraordinary proportions" emerged in Tanganyika province in southeastern DRC. For several years, there have been bloody clashes between two ethnic groups, the Luba, a Bantu ethnic group, and the Twa, a Pygmy ethnic group. The violence surged in January of this year with the entrance of the president Kabila's Congolese armed forces.

The increasing violence is destabilizing the entire region. As we reported in December, the genocide by Kabila's army has resulted in 3.9 million people forced to flee their homes to escape the violence. Hundreds of thousands have fled to Zambia, Angola and other neighboring countries as refugees, creating a humanitarian disaster in those countries.

Since the beginning of the year, 70,000 Congolese in eastern DRC have fled across the border into Uganda. 40,000 Congolese refugees have been settled into a single refugee camp, the Kyangwali refugee camp, in Uganda on the border in DRC. The Kyangwali camp is overcrowded and running out of space. Because of a lack of humanitarian aid, not everyone is being fed. There's also shortage of clean water, with each person receiving just 8 liters per day, while the average person requires 20 liters. The result has been the spread of cholera, with 1,000 cases of cholera already identified. BBC and Al-Jazeera

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DR Congo boycotts its own international humanitarian conference for DR Congo

The United Nations International Organization for Migration (IOM) sponsored a humanitarian conference for Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), meeting on Friday in Geneva. The purpose of the conference was to raise funds for humanitarian aid to DRC.

The conference drew $530 million in pledges, less than 1/3 of the estimated $1.7 billion needed. Refugee official Jan Egeland said, "We are disappointed that too few countries sent a real message of hope to the millions of Congolese children, women and men in desperate need of assistance."

Even more startling is that one of the countries that boycotted the humanitarian conference was DR Congo itself.

According to Zenon Mukongo Nga, DRC's ambassador to the United Nations, DRC officials are furious about the description of DRC as a failed state. In particular, they dispute the the UN estimate that 13 million people need humanitarian aid, and they say that only 200,000 people are internally displaced.

"The level of humanitarian situation was raised to 'level three', the worst of all the levels in the world, meaning exactly that DR Congo has been compared to the countries where there is chaos, where the state has collapsed, where there is nothing working so far. And this drove people mad . "

We have our own figures which should be confronted with UN figures because, sometimes people are just sitting in their offices in Geneva, in New York, and they just get reports from each people who are on the ground. Sometimes they don't go really on the ground. We have people everywhere and the figures we have are the real ones."

Although no real explanation for the DRC boycott of their own humanitarian conference has been provided, it appears to be another cynical action by president Joseph Kabila, one of the bloodiest and most corrupt leaders in the world.

Kabila was to have stepped down as president in December 2016. However, he refused to allow elections to go forward, and without elections he could not step down. Since then, he's made no preparations for elections, and he's used violence, torture and jailings to suppress protests, as he continues to stay in office illegally.

At first he promised to hold elections in December 2017, but it was clear that those elections would never be held, as he refused to make any preparations for them. Now he's promising elections in December 2018, and the international community has threatened to cut off aid if the elections are not held.

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

So there is literally no possibility that Kabila will ever agree to step down, since if he does then his family's entire corrupt empire will be put into danger, and many members of his family could be jailed on charges of corruption.

Humanitarian aid does not go to the government. It's given to NGOs that provide food, water, medicine and humanitarian services to actual people. And Kabila couldn't care less for the needs of ordinary Congolese people.

DRC officials have indicated that what particularly infuriates them about the characterization of a "humanitarian disaster" in DRC is that such a characterization discourages investors. And money from investors goes to government officials, where it will pass into the bank accounts of Kabila and his family. Bloomberg and UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) and Deutsche Welle and Relief Web

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U.S., France, Britain launch Syria attack in retaliation for al-Assad's use of chemical weapons


Early Saturday morning in Damascus, Syria, surface to air missiles light up the sky (AP)
Early Saturday morning in Damascus, Syria, surface to air missiles light up the sky (AP)

As I am writing this article on Friday evening (ET), the United States, France and Britain launched coordinated missile strikes on three targets in Syria, two in Damascus, one near Homs, all related to manufacture and storage of chemical weapons.

The following are some preliminary notes on the announcements.

President Trump announced that the attacks will continue "until the Syrian regime stops using chemical weapons."

However, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said that the operation was completed, once the three targets were hit.

If both of these statements are true, it would have to mean there will be additional operations if the regime continues using chemical weapons.

There will be debates in Congress whether Trump had the authority to order these strikes without Congressional approval.

Some people are arguing that UN Security Council approval would also be needed, but as we've been writing lately, the Russians have been using the UNSC to control US foreign policy by requiring all operations to be approved by the UNSC, where Russia has veto power, while Russia goes ahead with any operations it wants, such as invading and annexing Crimea, without seeking UNSC approval. Earlier this week, US ambassador Nikki Haley announced that, in effect, the US would conduct an operation with or without UNSC and Russian approval.

Russia did not attempt to strike down the incoming missiles, suggesting that Russia might be tacitly approving of the missile strikes. Mattis said that Russia was not notified in advance, but that a standard phone call was made over the joint US-Russia deconfliction phone line.

However, Syrian media claims that its air defenses shot down some missiles.

After Trump has set a firm "red line" about chemical weapons, Trump had no choice but to go through with a strike on Syrian targets.

Friday's strike was an essential message to the North Koreans as the planned summit meeting between Trump and Kim Jong-un approaches. If Trump had backed down from a missile strike, then America would have had no credibility whatsoever in the summit meeting.

Last year's missile strike did not deter al-Assad from continuing to use chemical weapons, and the latest strike may be equally ineffective. Even if al-Assad stops using chemical weapons, the message to al-Assad is that the only things the west cares about are chemical weapons and ISIS. Al-Assad is free to use barrel bombs and any conventional weapons that he wants on women and children. In fact, al-Assad is expected to move on to his next massive, genocidal target, Idlib province, with one million displaced people. NBC News and Washington Post

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Apr-18 World View -- DR Congo boycotts its own international humanitarian conference for DR Congo thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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13-Apr-18 World View -- Japan finds 'semi-infinite supply' of rare earth minerals in its territorial waters

Japan's rare earths discovery represents a defeat for China

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Japan finds 'semi-infinite supply' of rare earth minerals in its territorial waters


Researchers have found rare earth minerals just 2-4 meters below the seabed, at a depth of almost four miles.  (Telegraph)
Researchers have found rare earth minerals just 2-4 meters below the seabed, at a depth of almost four miles. (Telegraph)

In January 2013, a deep-sea research vessel from Japan obtained seven samples of mud collected two to four meters below the seafloor at 5,600 to 5,800 meters in depth, near Japan's Minami-Tori-shima Island, also known as Marcus Island, within Japan's exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Analyzing the mud revealed that it contained extreme concentrations of rare earth minerals. Continued research since then has led to an announcement that the region contains more than 16 million tons of rare earth minerals. These elements are needed to build high-tech products ranging from mobile phones to electric vehicles.

This find is being described as a "semi-infinity" supply of rare earth minerals, enough to supply all of Japan's needs for well over a century. However, getting at the resources will be an issue, since they're almost four miles underwater. Japan Times and Fortune and Nikkei Asian Review

Japan's rare earths discovery represents a defeat for China

China's theft of intellectual property from other nations is a subject much in the news these days, and China's near-monopoly on rare earth minerals has been a mechanism for exactly that kind of theft.

As I've said frequently in the past, people who "there won't be a war because it's bad for business" are wrong. In fact the opposite is true, since trade becomes just another weapon of war.

In 2009, there was a brief clash between China and Japan in the East China Sea, and China decided to punish Japan and get revenge by ending shipments to Japan of rare earth minerals. This was a significant blow for Japanese manufacturing, since Japan needed these minerals for manufacture of their high tech products, and Japan was dependent on being supplied by China.

This became a major foreign policy for China.

As Yasuhiro Kato from Tokyo University has pointed out, "Their real intention is to force foreign companies to locate plant in China. They're saying `if you want our rare earth metals, you must build your factory here, and we can then steal your technology."

In 2012, China stepped up the revenge against Japan. The Beijing government encouraged the Chinese people to demonstrate and protest against Japanese businesses in China. The government urged protesters not to use violence, but that part of the message was clearly ignored, as protesters torched a Panasonic factory and Toyota dealership, looted and ransacked Japanese department stores and supermarkets in several cities.

It became clear to the Japanese that they would need to find an alternate supply of rare earth minerals, and that's what motivated the deep-sea research project that made the initial discovery in 2013, leading to the "semi-infinite" supply of rare earths announced this week.

The new supply of rare earths has to be described as a defeat for China, because once Japan is successful in mining this new supply, the China will be unable to use rare earths as a weapon of war. The Diplomat (29-Aug-2017) and Telegraph (London, 24-Mar-2013)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Apr-18 World View -- Japan finds 'semi-infinite supply' of rare earth minerals in its territorial waters thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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12-Apr-18 World View -- The world awaits Trump's promised retaliation for al-Assad's chemical weapons attack

Israel braces for attack from Iran in retaliation for Sunday's airstrike

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

The world awaits Trump's promised retaliation for al-Assad's chemical weapons attack


Survivor of Saturday's chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria (Getty)
Survivor of Saturday's chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria (Getty)

President Donald Trump on Sunday had promised retaliation within 24-48 hours for the use of chemical weapons by Syria's president Bashar al-Assad on Saturday on civilians, including women and children.

However, by Wednesday evening, no retaliation has occurred, and the world is watching and waiting. But the rhetoric between Russia and the US has heated up a great deal.

Alexander Zasypkin, Russia's ambassador to Lebanon, said on Wednesday:

"if there is a US missile attack, we - in line with both Putin and Russia's chief of staff's remarks - will shoot down US rockets and even the sources that launched the missiles."

Zasypkin was alluding to a previous Russian threat to shoot down not only American missiles, but also the warplanes and battleships that launches them.

This only served to goad president Trump, who tweeted this:

"Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and "smart!" You shouldn't be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!"

However, Trump was more conciliatory in a later tweet:

"Our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War. There is no reason for this. Russia needs us to help with their economy, something that would be very easy to do, and we need all nations to work together. Stop the arms race?"

Long time readers are aware that Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other.

Saturday's chemical weapons attack by al-Assad has caused a chain reaction that has raised tensions in the Mideast to the next level higher than they'd been before Saturday. Here's a summary:

Perhaps even more remarkable is that the political divide in the West, including the United States, is getting more hostile, and not just along party lines. It's increasingly hostile to hear American analysts and journalists side with Russia trolls in claiming that there's "no proof" that Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons or Sarin gas, in the face of conclusions reached by America, British, French, German and other governments.

Russia has lied repeatedly about Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, and other things, and for an American analyst to side with Russian trolls against multiple Western governments is truly a remarkable development. And as I reported yesterday, this has even extended to the point where Newsweek magazine is publishing easily debunkable fake news US Secretary of Defense is claiming that no evidence exists that al-Assad ever used Sarin gas.

So let me try to make this clear.

Since the Syrian war began, I've written 359 analytical articles with "Syria" in the title, and hundreds more where Syria was discussed, but not in the title. These articles are all available on my web site for anyone to check.

I have an archive of almost 100,000 articles that I've copied and pasted in the last 15 years. Over 3,000 of those articles have "Syria" in the title, and probably tens of thousands more discuss the Syria war. These articles are from all political biases and from all media sources and all countries available on the internet. I typically study 10-20 of these articles in detail for each article that I write.

My point is this: 99.9% of the time, I know a lot more than you do. And I'm telling you that there's no doubt that Bashar al-Assad has used Sarin gas several times on innocent civilians, and has used chlorine gas, phosphorous and ammonia many, many times on innocent civilians. There is no question about this.

But the fact that some Americans are calling officials in both the Barack Obama and Donald Trump administrators liars, and are saying that paid Russian trolls are telling the truth, is truly a remarkable development. Al-Jazeera and CNN and Reuters

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Israel braces for attack from Iran in retaliation for Sunday's airstrike

On Sunday, president Donald Trump threatened a "big price to pay" after the chemical weapons attack by Syria's president Bashar al-Assad on Douma on Saturday. As I was writing an article about this and on Sunday evening, Syria's state media reported a missile attack on Syria's T4 airbase (Tayfur airport) near Homs. US officials denied having anything to do with the attack, so it was thought that some other country, perhaps Britain, France or Israel, might have been fulfilling Trump's "big price to pay" threat.

Well, news reports since then have indicated that the missile strike on T4 airbase had nothing to do with Trump's threat, except possibly to influence the timing. According to Iranian media, the attack was from Israeli warplanes.

If it was an Israeli airstrike, then the target was an Iranian drone base. Israel has repeatedly expressed its red lines when it comes to Syria:

Israel neither confirmed nor denied the airstrike, but Israel's Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman made these comments:

"I want to say one thing with absolute certainty. We will not allow the Iranians to base themselves in Syria, no matter what the price. We have no other choice. To agree to the Iranians basing themselves in Syria is like agreeing to Iran putting a noose around our neck."

Iran's media is reporting that four Iranians were killed by the Israeli airstrikes.

Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Seyed Ali Khamenei, said:

"The Israeli regime's aggression against Syria is a breach of this country's national sovereignty and territorial integrity and runs counter to all international regulations and principles."

Velayati added, "Definitely, this crime (by Israel) will not remain without a response."

Israeli forces have gone onto high alert, and Israeli media are talking about a "proxy war between Iran and Israel" taking place on Syrian soil:

"Beyond the confrontation between Russia and the United States, the main story in the northern arena is the direct confrontation between Israel and Iran on Syrian soil. There is no more shadow war or contest through agents. The confrontation between Israel and Iran, it seems, is turning into a limited direct military confrontation. It is impossible to ignore the fact that within two months, in at least two known incidents, Iranian fighters and officers were killed by an action attributed to the Israeli Air Force. It seems that in light of the continued Iranian consolidation in Syria, Israel has decided to remove the gloves.

After the day of battle two months ago, when the Iranian UAV was intercepted and an Israeli fighter plane was shot down, quite a few things happened underneath the surface, despite the apparent media silence."

Former prime minister and defense minister Ehud Barak said, “When on a given day, the chance for [active military conflict with Iran] are about one percent, now it is about 10%." CNN and Tasnim News (Iran) and Jerusalem Post and Times of Israel

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Turkey to open a new border crossing to Syria's Afrin

Turkey on Wednesday announced plans to open a new border crossing from Turkey to the Syrian city of Afrin. The purpose of the border crossing is to speed up delivery of humanitarian aid to the city, and help build infrastructure in the region.

However, the border crossing will also strengthen Turkey's link to Afrin, which is opposed by Russia, Iran and Syria.

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

Now that the operation has been completely, apparently successfully, Russia, Iran and Syria would all like the Turkish forces to withdraw back into Turkey. Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday:

"[Turkish] President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan has never said that Turkey wants to occupy Afrin. We always proceed from the fact that the easiest way to normalize the situation in Afrin now that Turkish representatives say that the main goals they set there have been achieved would be to return the territory under the control of the Syrian government."

However, Erdogan rejected Lavrov's remarks:

"We know very well who we’ll hand Afrin to. First, let’s talk about handing over areas controlled by other countries in Syria to Syria.

When the time comes, we will give Afrin to the people of Afrin personally, but the timing of this is up to us, we will determine it, not Mr. Lavrov."

Turkey, Russia and Iran have had a three-way alliance of convenience for several months, creating "de-escalation zones" in Syria. However, neither the Syrian regime nor any of the Syrian rebel groups doing the actual fighting were party to the agreements. Whatever the value of that alliance, it appears to be losing whatever little effectiveness it had, and increasingly is fraying, as all the participants in the Syrian war are looking forward to grabbing their respective pieces of Syria. Anadolu (Turkey) and Sputnik (Russia) and Reuters

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Yemen war escalates as Iran-backed Houthis launch missiles at Saudi targets

The Houthi rebels in Yemen declared this to be the "year of ballistic missiles," after firing a ballistic missiles on Wednesday at targets in Saudi Arabia's capital city Riyadh, and also at oil storage facilities belonging to the Saudi oil company Aramco. The missiles either missed their targets or were shot down by Saudi air defenses, but a successful strike on an oil storage facility could do a great deal of damage.

Last week, Houthi rebels caused minor damage to a Saudi oil tanker in the Red Sea on Tuesday. The oil tanker was able to continue on its way, escorted by a Saudi coalition warship.

The Houthis are using ballistic missiles and armed drones that could only have been supplied by Iran. Saudi threatened "a heavy price" for the Houthis, and for those who are equipping the Houthis. Al Jazeera and Reuters and Arab News and Deutsche Welle (3-Apr)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Apr-18 World View -- The world awaits Trump's promised retaliation for al-Assad's chemical weapons attack thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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11-Apr-18 World View -- Major multi-national military operation planned for Syria after Sarin gas use

Russia's Andrey Klimov: Sarin gas attack is just a Hollywood movie

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Fake news: Newsweek says Mattis denied any evidence that Assad used Sarin gas


Children being medically treated in Douma Syria after chemical weapons attack (AP)
Children being medically treated in Douma Syria after chemical weapons attack (AP)

I've had trolls referring to a February Newsweek article that says that US Secretary of Defense James Mattis claims that there is "no evidence" that Syria's president Bashar al-Assad had ever used Sarin gas.

This is totally fake news, as suggested by the fact that the Newsweek article did not give a link to the transcript of the press briefing where Mattis supposedly made this remark, which they could easily have done.

I actually went to the trouble to track down the transcript -- which incidentally wasn't hard at all, and took about 30 seconds, which is another indication that the Newsweek article was a full-fledged hoax. We have to assume that Ian Wilkie, the author of the article, is one of Russia's army of paid internet trolls, and moonlights for Newsweek.

Mattis was giving a press conference and answering questions thrown at him by reporters. The press conference covered various subjects, including Ukraine and Afghanistan, and the questions about Syria are scattered throughout the transcript. Here are some excerpts:

"We think that they did not carry out what they said they would do back when -- in the previous administration, when they were caught using it. Obviously they didn't, cause they used it again during our administration."

According to Mattis, what they said they were going to do in 2013, when they were caught using Sarin gas, was to destroy all their stocks of chemical weapons, but obviously they didn't do that, since they've used chemical weapons repeatedly, and used Sarin gas again during the Trump administration (on April 4, 2017).

Mattis continued answering questions about chemical weapons attacks in 2018. He said that chlorine gas has been used recently, and he's looking for evidence whether Sarin gas has also been used recently:

"And that gives us a lot of reason to suspect them. And now we have other reports from the battlefield from people who claim it's been used.

We do not have evidence of it [Sarin gas]. But we're not refuting them; we're looking for evidence of it. Since clearly we are using -- we are dealing with the Assad regime that has used denial and deceit to hide their outlaw actions, okay? ... Well, there's certainly groups that say they've used it. And so they think there's a likelihood, so we're looking for the evidence. ...

I think [chlorine gas weapons have] been used repeatedly. And that's, as you know, a somewhat separate category, which is why I broke out the sarin as another. ...

No, I have not got the evidence, not specifically [that Sarin gas is being used]. I don't have the evidence.

What I'm saying is that other -- that groups on the ground, NGOs, fighters on the ground have said that sarin has been used. So we are looking for evidence. I don't have evidence, credible or uncredible.

That press conference occurred in February, and apparently no recent evidence of Sarin gas was found.

By the way, check out the beginning of the transcript, where Mattis mocks the NY Times for fake news, saying that the reporter interviewing him apparently wasn't even listening to him.

"I salute whatever you write. You have the right to write anything. I thought it was especially humorous that we didn't realize we were still on the -- on the video teleconference, since one of the people on the screen was talking with us at the same time. I guess we were talking to ourselves and imagining the person on the screen. Yeah, I got a kick out of it, frankly."

Later in the transcript, he says, "See, right now, we're at a point where ISIS is on the ropes. It’s obvious -- you know -- for all the questions and challenges I had in this room over the last year, I think now it's pretty much undeniable that they're in trouble. ... So we want to get back to finishing off ISIS." Newsweek (8-Feb) and Bellingcat (9-Feb) and U.S. Dept. of Defense (2-Feb)

Haley announces major change in policy regarding Russia and Security Council

On April 6 of last year, president Donald Trump ordered cruise missile attacks on the Shayrat Airbase in Syria, from which Bashar al-Assad had launched Sarin gas attacks on civilians on April 4. Trump had been moved to action after seeing pictures small children struggling to breathe, gasping for breath, and choking to death. The cruise missile attack was meant to be a warning to al-Assad not to use Sarin gas again.

Now there have been new pictures of choking children, following al-Assad's latest Sarin gas attack on civilians on Sunday, and Trump is furious again. This time, Trump went farther, blaming not only al-Assad, but also his backers in Russia and Iran:

"Very concerned, when a thing like that can happen, this is about humanity. We're talking about humanity. And it can't be allowed to happen. So we'll be looking at that barbaric act and studying what's going on. If it's Russia, if it's Syria, if it's Iran, if it's all of them together, we'll figure it out and we'll know the answers quite soon."

At the United Nations Security Council on Monday, US ambassador Nikki Haley went a lot farther in the administration condemnation of Syria, Iran and Russia:

"I could hold up pictures of babies, lying dead next to their mothers. Brothers and sisters. Toddlers and infants still in diapers. All lying together, dead. Their skin is the ashen blue that is now tragically familiar from chemical weapons scenes. Their eyes are open and lifeless. White foam bubbles from their mouths and noses. Pictures of dead Syrians who are not soldiers. People who are not armed. People who are the very definition of innocent and non-threatening – women and children hiding in basements from a renewed assault by Bashar Al-Assad. Families that were hiding underground to escape Assad’s conventional bombs and artillery. ...

I could hold up pictures of survivors. Children with burning eyes, choking for breath. I could hold up pictures of first responders washing the chemicals off of the victims. Putting respirators on the children. First responders walking through room after room of families lying motionless, with babies still in the arms of their mothers and fathers. I could show pictures of a hospital attacked by the chemical weapons. I could show pictures of hospitals struck by barrel bombs following the chemical attack.

Ambulances and rescue vehicles have been repeatedly attacked, maximizing the number of dead civilians. Civil defense centers have been attacked in order to paralyze the medical response – to increase the suffering of the survivors.

Who does this? Only a monster does this. Only a monster targets civilians and then ensures that there are no ambulances to transfer the wounded. No hospitals to save their lives. No doctors or medicine to ease their pain.

I could hold up pictures of all of this killing and suffering for the Council to see, but what would be the point? The monster who was responsible for these attacks has no conscience, not even to even be shocked by pictures of dead children.

The Russian regime, whose hands are all covered in the blood of Syrian children, cannot be ashamed by pictures of its victims. We’ve tried that before. We must not overlook Russia and Iran’s roles in enabling the Assad regime’s murderous destruction. Russia and Iran have military advisers at Assad’s airfields and operations centers. Russian officials are on the ground helping direct the regime’s “starve and surrender” campaign, and Iranian allied forces do much of the dirty work. When the Syrian military pummels civilians, they rely on the military hardware given by Russia.

Russia could stop this senseless slaughter if it wanted. But it stands with the Assad regime and supports without any hesitation.

What’s the point of trying to shame such people? After all, no civilized government would have anything to do with Assad’s murderous regime. Pictures of dead children mean little to governments like Russia who expend their own resources to prop up Assad."

That was all by way of introduction to the following significant and explicit United States policy change:

"Russia’s obstructionism will not continue to hold us hostage when we are confronted with an attack like this one. The United States is determined to see that the monster who dropped chemical weapons on the Syrian people held to account. ...

We are on the edge of a dangerous precipice. The great evil of chemical weapons use that once unified the world in opposition, is on the verge of becoming the new normal. The international community must not let this happen.

We are beyond showing pictures of dead babies. We are beyond appeals to conscience. We have reached the moment when the world must see justice done. History will record this as the moment when the Security Council either discharged its duty or demonstrated its utter and complete failure to protect the people of Syria.

Either way, the United States will respond."

The reason that this is significant is because it makes clear that the U.S. will no longer be bound by Russia's vetoes in the Security Council. As I've been writing numerous times since 2011, Russia adopted a policy of using the UNSC to control US and Nato foreign policy by demanding that any military decision be approved by the UNSC, where Russia could veto it. At the same time, Russia could invade Ukraine, invade and annex Crimea, and perform other international crimes, and go ahead with them without bothering to get UNSC approval. Not only would Russia control US and Nato foreign policy, Nato countries would turn against each other in confusion over how to respond.

So when Nikki Haley says, "Either way, the United States will respond," she's declaring the end of the policy of allowing Russia's veto to control U.S. policy. She's saying to Russia: veto the resolution or not, as you wish, but we're going ahead with a military operation. CNBC and U.S. State Dept.

Major multi-national military operation planned for Syria after Sarin gas use

As I'm writing this on Tuesday evening (ET), there are reports that a military attack may be imminent. Britain, France and Qatar are openly supporting the Trump administration's plans for a military operation in Syria.

The military attack will have to be significant and massive, since last year's "warning" attack had no effect.

Some analysts are suggesting that the military operation might be led by France, rather than by the U.S. If true, it would be a further humiliation for Vladimir Putin, who has been using the UNSC to turn the Nato countries against each other. This display of unity by France, Britain, Qatar and the U.S. would be a united front against Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin. AP

Russia's Andrey Klimov: Sarin gas attack is just a Hollywood movie

Every time one of these situations occurs, Russia unleashes its army of paid trolls to make laughable claims and spread disinformation. One of the best of these troll storms occurred after Russians in East Ukraine shot down the Malaysian Airlines MH17 passenger plane with a Russian-made Buk missile, bragged about it in a tweet, then pulled down the tweet. Russian media and trolls went into full-on troll mode, making one ridiculous claim after another: Russian commander Strelkov's tweet had never occurred; the US had shot down MH17 to embarrass Russia; the airplane was struck by a meteor; no living people were aboard the plane as it flew on autopilot from Amsterdam, where it had been pre-loaded with "rotting corpses."

So now we have a new troll storm. Andrey Klimov, a Senator in the Russia's Duma, was interviewed on the BBC, and I transcribed excerpts of the interview.

Klimov's main point is that the Sarin gas attack never happened, but was staged as a Hollywood movie:

"It looks like an artificial performance, like a kind of movie, to make that provocation visible. But I can't say for sure that it may be any real occasion of chemical weapons in this area. It looks like a provocation. It looks like a Hollywood movie.

[Referring to the images of choking children, and children having to be hosed down with water.] You're just repeating somebody's rumors. I'm speaking about facts, because there are no real facts on the ground. But we'd like to find those who produced such kinds of fake news, because those people are interested in keeping such kind of confrontation in the world. And we'd like to find that bastard, to show to the world that they're a bastard."

Well Andrey, you have control of Damascus and Douma, so don't just complain, start searching for the bastard. We'd all like to know who he or she is.

Klimov also reacted to Trump's threat of a military operation in Syria:

"They have no right to do that in any case, because no kind of power granted on the part of the United Nations. Nobody asked them from Damascus to do that. It's a kind of invasion. It's a kind of occupation. It cannot be acceptable in today's world. It is out of any kind of international law. Nobody appointed them as international policeman, or international judge, or international prosecutor. They're going to do it themselves, and that cannot be acceptable at all."

This is a laughable invocation of international law from the Russians, who ignore international law, but it's precisely the policy that Russia has been following since 2011. Russia breaks international law recklessly, never asking the UN Security Council for approval, but then demands that the West get approval for anything from the UNSC, where Russia can veto it. This is Russia's policy that Nikki Haley specifically rejected on Monday.

It's gotten to the point where these Russian officials and trolls are just plain pathetic, because nobody believes their rantings any more. Vladimir Putin really needs to come up with a new policy.

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Apr-18 World View -- Major multi-national military operation planned for Syria after Sarin gas use thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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10-Apr-18 World View -- Viktor Orbán's Fidesz party victory in Hungary signals strong European move to the right

Viktor Orbán's Fidesz anti-migrant party wins overwhelming victory in Hungary

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Viktor Orbán's Fidesz anti-migrant party wins overwhelming victory in Hungary


Anti-immigrant leaders in Europe: Hungary's Viktor Orbán (R) with Poland's premier Mateusz Morawiecki at the most recent EU summit (consilium.europa.eu)
Anti-immigrant leaders in Europe: Hungary's Viktor Orbán (R) with Poland's premier Mateusz Morawiecki at the most recent EU summit (consilium.europa.eu)

On Sunday, Hungary's right-wing, anti-immigrant, and anti-EU, Fidesz party won an overwhelming political victory on a high turnout, giving Viktor Orbán his third consecutive term as prime minister of Hungary.

With almost all the votes counted, Fidesz has won 134 seats in the 199 seat parliament, giving Fidesz a two-thirds "super-majority." With this super-majority, Orbán will be able to modify Hungary's constitution to give himself additional powers, possibly dictatorial powers, and to make sure that he will be reelected for many years to come.

In celebrating his victory, Orbán said:

"There is a big battle behind us. We have won. Today Hungary had a decisive victory. We have the chance to defend Hungary."

By "defend Hungary," Orbán meant defend it from migrants.

Poland is congratulating Orbán on his victory. Poland’s deputy foreign minister and envoy to the European Union, Konrad Szymanski said:

"It’s a confirmation of Central Europe’s emancipation policy. Emancipation not directed at fighting anybody but at making Central Europe visible as a very constructive European and European Union partner."

By "emancipation," Szymanski is not talking about freeing some slaves. He's talking about emancipating Poland from the policies of Brussels, particularly policies about resettling migrants that arrive in Greece or Italy. Poland's nationalist government shares Orbán's view that Muslim migrants threaten Europe's "Christian" heritage.

In 2015, the EU adopted a migrant quota system last year that was supposed to relocate 160,000 refugees from Greece and Italy to other EU countries. The plan fell apart because few countries were willing to accept their quotas, and several countries, led by Hungary and Poland, refused to resettle any refugees at all. In the end, only about 30,000 refugees were ever resettled under this plan.

Some observers have accused Orbán of using anti-semitic "dog whistle' remarks during the campaign. They point to Orbán's frequent use in campaign ads of the Hungarian Jewish billionaire George Soros as the symbol of foreign influence in Hungary. In March, Orbán said:

"We are fighting an enemy that is different from us. Not open but hiding; not straightforward but crafty; not honest but base; does not believe in working but speculates with money; does not have its own homeland but feels it owns the whole world."

Many observers believe that these remarks were anti-semitic, intended to target Soros as a Jew. Reuters and Forward and BBC

Europe as a whole moves steadily to the right

Orbán's Fidesz party won an overwhelming victory with a 134 seat super-majority in the 199 seat parliament.

In second place was the Jobbik Party, with 25 seats. Jobbik is considered to be even farther right than Fidesz, though in recent years the party leaders have tried to move the party towards the center, and to shed its anti-semitic and xenophobic image.

In third place, with 20 seats, was the center-left Socialist party. The significance of this situation is that in Hungary, the two major parties are both on the right, and the center left in Europe is in collapse.

EuroIntelligence summarized the situation as follows:

"The slide of the social democratic party from its peak of power in 2006 is both a long-term trend in Hungary and a broader trend in the EU as a whole. Hungary is now one of a long list of countries where the two main parties are both on the right, because the collapsing social democrats have not been replaced by a party on the left but one on the right. Poland and the Netherlands are firmly in that list. Whether to include France and Italy depends on where one puts Macron's En Marche and the Five Star Movement, but asked about the right-wing economic policies of his government Édouard Philippe quipped "what did you expect?" Spain and Austria - and even Germany - seem to be moving in the same direction. In many of these cases - Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Hungary, Austria - the party replacing the social democrats could be classed as far-right. This doesn't look like a Europe where Orbán should feel particularly uncomfortable."

Hungary-based Péter Krekó of Capital Institute agrees, saying that Orbán is providing support to populist tendencies in western Europe: "The populist right wing in western Europe deems Orbán as a hero, he represents an alternative model for Europe. He is the 'anti-Merkel' and that makes him popular with many."

However, Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn says that won a clear election victory because of a "tumor" of scaremongering: "Today it is Hungary and Poland, tomorrow others in eastern and central Europe, even a big founding country of the EU, could develop a taste for undermining values and scaremongering."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the atrocities that occur in one generational crisis war appear again in similar forms decades later in the next generational crisis war, as the survivors of the last war die off. With Europe's shift to the right, we're beginning to see the revival of the xenophobia that brought about World War II, such as xenophobic attitudes towards Jews, Muslims and Roma Gypsies. As the next world war approaches, we'll see a return to the genocide, ethnic cleansing and war crimes that occurred in World War II, and which we're already seeing to some extent in the Mideast. EuroIntelligence and EU Observer and Budapest Business Journal and AP

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Apr-18 World View -- Viktor Orbán's Fidesz party victory in Hungary signals strong European move to the right thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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9-Apr-18 World View -- Trump threatens 'big price to pay' after Assad's chemical weapons attack in Syria

Syria reports that it's under missile attack, 'likely' by the US

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

New chemical weapon attack in Syria kills 48, hospitalizes hundreds


Medical workers treat toddlers following chlorine gas attack in Douma, Syria, on Sunday (AP)
Medical workers treat toddlers following chlorine gas attack in Douma, Syria, on Sunday (AP)

At least 48 people were killed in a chemical weapons attack on Saturday on the town of Douma in in eastern Ghouta, believed by international officials to have been perpetrated by Syria's president Bashar al-Assad.

In addition to those killed, at least 500 more people brought into overwhelmed medical centers and hospitals. Videos recorded by rescue workers known as the White Helmets, show a number of men, women and children lying lifeless, many with foam at their mouths.

The chemical weapon in the attack was chlorine, which is particularly used by al-Assad to attack and kill women and children. Chlorine is repeatedly used by al-Assad because it is heavier than air. Therefore it seeps into basements where women and children are likely to be hiding from al-Assad's missiles and barrel bombs. Once the chlorine seeps into the basements where women and children are hiding, the women and children are forced out into the open, where al-Assad's missiles and barrel bombs can slaughter them en masse. The foaming at the mouth by victims suggests that Sarin gas was also used.

Syrian state media accused "terrorist" media of fabricating reports about a chemical attack.

Russia's foreign ministry said reports of a chemical attack by Syrian forces on Douma had been "planted" in order to create a pretext for a possible military intervention in Syria:

"The purpose of these mendacious conjectures, which are without any basis, is to shield the terrorists and the irreconcilable radical opposition, which rejects a political settlement, while at the same time trying to justify possible external use of force."

So we're going through the usual song and dance of listening to Russian officials make these laughable statements, as if the rest of us are stupid enough to believe them. Russian officials have lied so many times about almost every subject, so anything that Russia says has no credibility, and is as worthless as garbage.

And we can expect the usual flood of Russian internet trolls repeating the same nonsense supplied by their trollmasters.

During the past 15 months, since Donald Trump took office, there Bashar al-Assad has launched at least eight chemical weapons attacks, including one Sarin gas nerve agent attack on April 4 of last year. BBC and AP and CNN and USA Today

Trump threatens 'big price to pay' after Assad's chemical weapons attack in Syria

President Donald Trump called Bashar al-Assad an "animal" in a series of tweets on Sunday, and appeared to commit the US to retaliating to Sunday's attack, not only against Syria but possibly also at Russia.

In 2012, President Barack Obama announced a "red line" that threatened an American military retaliation if Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons on his own people. The US military even sent troops to Jordan to take action against the use of chemical weapons. However, when Bashar al-Assad used Sarin gas on his own people in 2013, Obama backed down from his threat, signaling to al-Assad that he could continue to use chemical weapons with impunity. And he has done that, with eight verified uses of chlorine gas and Sarin gas in the last 15 months alone.

A year ago, Donald Trump responded to al-Assad's Sarin gas attack with a surprise cruise missile attack on al-Assad's airports, wiping out part of his air force. However, that did nothing to stop al-Assad from continuing to use chemical weapons on women and children, or to stop Russia from supporting his use of chemical weapons on women and children.

Sunday's chemical weapons attack drew a very angry twitter response from president Trump:

"Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price...

....to pay. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!

If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line In The Sand, the Syrian disaster would have ended long ago! Animal Assad would have been history!"

Trump appears to be setting a new red line, and is blaming Russia's president Vladimir Putin for the first time, as well as referring to "Animal Assad." If Trump shows weakness after issuing these tweets, then his negotiating position in North Korea will be very weak.

The US has also called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Monday.

The most likely response, if any, is a missile attack similar to the one launched last year. However, some analysts are suggesting that Russia should be sanctioned directly by withdrawing the highly prestigious international World Cup Football (soccer) competition sponsored by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) from Moscow, where it's scheduled to begin on June 14. Some people are suggesting that Vladimir Putin should not be permitted to glory in sponsoring the FIFA World Cup just two months after sponsoring the use of chemical weapons by war criminal Bashar al-Assad. CNN and NBC News and Guardian (London)

Syria reports that it's under missile attack, 'likely' by the US

As this article is being written on Sunday evening (ET), Syria's state media is reporting that Syria's T4 airbase (Tayfur airport) near the city of Homs is under missile attack, with resulting casualties, in a "likely attack by the United States." Reports say that 12 people have been killed, and that eight missiles were shot down by Syrian air defenses.

Senior US officials are not denying that a missile attack is taking place, but are denying that the US is responsible. Assuming that it's not the US launching missiles, then it suggests that another country in the American-led coalition is launching the missile attack.

Governments from both Britain and France on Sunday both joined in America's strong condemnation of al-Assad's use of chlorine gas on his own people, including women and children. Both countries have also issued strong condemnations of Russia for the March 4 poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, using a Russia-developed nerve agent Novichok, in Salisbury, Britain. Trump and France's president Emmanuel Macron issued a "strong joint response" to al-Assad. So it's possible that either Britain or France is launching the attack. It's also possible that Israel is launching the attack. BBC

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Apr-18 World View -- Trump threatens 'big price to pay' after Assad's chemical weapons attack in Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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8-Apr-18 World View -- US will sell submarine technology to Taiwan, as Japan launches first marine brigade since end of WW II

Taiwan and Japan respond to China's militarization

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Trump administration approves selling submarine technology to Taiwan


Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen on a Dutch-built submarine last year. (AP)
Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen on a Dutch-built submarine last year. (AP)

In a further challenge to China, the Trump administration has approved a marketing license that will allow US manufacturers to sell submarine technology to Taiwan.

For years, Taiwan has tried to acquire submarines from other countries, but China has repeatedly used pressure and threats on those countries to prevent the sales. Taiwan purchased two submarines from the Netherlands in the 1980s, but China has successfully blocked other sales since then. In 2012, Taiwan began a program to build its own diesel submarines, but that program still required the purchase of submarine technology from other countries.

Early in 2017, US manufacturers expressed an interest in working on the project with Taiwan, but needed approval in the form of a "marketing license" from the US State Department. That license was finally issued this week.

The decision also means that the U.S. will be able to provide Taiwan with so-called “red” parts, or technology which the island is unable to produce itself, including torpedoes and missiles. Taiwan News and Reuters and Jamestown (30-Mar-2012) and Focus Taiwan (31-May-2017)

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Japan launches first marine brigade since the end of World War II

In a ceremony on Saturday, Japan launched the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (ARDB), its first marine brigade since the end of World War II.

In a speech, Tomohiro Yamamoto, vice defense minister, said:

"Given the increasingly difficult defense and security situation surrounding Japan, defense of our islands has become a critical mandate."

Yamamoto is thought to be referring to the Senkaku Islands, which are threatened by China, and where China makes its usual unsupported claims of "indisputable sovereignty."

The brigade is the latest component of a growing marine force that includes helicopter carriers, amphibious ships, Osprey tilt-rotor troop carriers and amphibious assault vehicles, meant to deter China as it pushes for easier access to the Western Pacific

The ARDB is controversial, since it appears to go beyond the Article self-defense clause of Japan's postwar "pacifist" constitution, which forbids any military action except for "self-defense" on Japanese soil.

However, military provocations by China and North Korea have been changing public opinion in Japan to make elimination of the self-defense clause more publicly acceptable.

In 2015, prime minister Shinzo Abe was able to get parliament to reinterpret the self-defense clause to mean "collective self-defense," which means that military action would be permitted anywhere in the world when an ally (such as the United States) is attacked. That means that the ARDB can be used even in overseas military actions, provided that the US or any other Japanese ally is under attack. Kyodo News and Reuters and Russia Today

Related Articles:

  • Japan will shoot down N. Korean missiles via 'collective self-defense' (13-Aug-2017)
  • Japan's largest warship will train with US Navy in the South China Sea (14-Mar-2017)
  • Japan debates 'collective self-defense' to protect America and Japan (05-May-2014)
  • China reacts harshly to Japan's plans for 'collective self-defense' (18-Jul-2015)
  • Japan's troops in South Sudan become first test of new 'collective self-defense' policy (19-Nov-2016)
  • (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Apr-18 World View -- US will sell submarine technology to Taiwan, as Japan launches first marine brigade since end of WW II thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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    7-Apr-18 World View -- Gaza Palestinians burn tires to hide protests from Israel's army

    Hamas and Fatah/PLO criticized for contradictory strategies

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Gaza Palestinians burn tires to hide protests from Israel's army


    A Gaza protester wears a tire on his head with an onion (to protect himself from tear gas) dangling from it (al-Jazeera)
    A Gaza protester wears a tire on his head with an onion (to protect himself from tear gas) dangling from it (al-Jazeera)

    In the Muslim world, protests usually occur on Fridays, when worshippers pour out of mosques after Friday prayers.

    On Friday, March 30, Land Day protests in Gaza led to numerous violent clashes with Israel's army, when Gaza protesters threatened to break through the border fence with Israel. The first used teargas to stop the protesters, then live gunfire. 16 Palestinians were killed, and 1,400 wounded.

    On Friday, April 6, the number of protests appeared to be considerably reduced, although the protesters used new tactics. Protesters burned tires creating massive conflagrations at five different points along the border.

    The purpose of burning the tires was to create black, thick smoke that would make it impossible for Israel's army to see where the protesters were attempting to break through the border fence. The army used water cannons to put out the fires, and giant fans to disperse smoke. Live gunfire was also used to stop the protesters, with the result that seven Palestinians were shot dead and over 200 more were wounded. The only good news about this situation is that these numbers were sharply lower than last week.

    Although Hamas, the governing authority in Gaza, is encouraging protests on a continuing basis, the protests are all relatively minor except for the final one: The major event will occur on May 15, Naqba Day (Catastrophe Day), commemorating the creation of Israel in 1948. YNet News (Israel) and Reuters and Al Jazeera

    Hamas and Fatah/PLO criticized for contradictory strategies

    Hamas, the governing authority in Gaza, has come under increasing criticism for the policies it's pursuing in Gaza. Even Arab analysts on television have criticized Hamas for having no apparent strategy at all except to encourage protesters, including women and children, to attempt to break through the border wall and risk getting shot and killed, with no advantage to them, to the Palestinians or to Hamas for the bloodshed.

    The Hamas government in Gaza has an entirely different strategy than the Palestinian Authority (PA) - Fatah - Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) government in the West Bank, led by Mahmoud Abbas.

    Hamas's strategy is the elimination of Israel, and so the Gaza protests are being pursued with the intention of leading to an armed conflict that Israel would lose. By contrast, Abbas's strategy is full recognition of the state of Palestine existing side-by-side with Israel, and is pursuing peaceful protests in order to gain international support for Palestine.

    The problem for the Palestinians is that they can't make any progress at all unless Hamas and Fatah have a joint strategy. Negotiations for a Hamas-Fatah unity government that began after the 67 day Israel-Gaza war in 2014 have failed completely, largely because Hamas and Fatah have completely different intentions about destroying Israel versus living with Israel.

    The 27th conference of the Arab Parliament Federation met on Friday in Jeddah and stated the usual policies -- support for an independent state of Palestine with its capital in Jerusalem, and condemnation of Israeli attacks on Palestinian people and their land, sanctuaries and properties. They also demanded that the international community put pressure on Israel to stops its crimes in Palestine.

    But all of that is completely meaningless, because those policies are subordinate to the major policy: unifying the Arab position toward major issues — the Palestinian cause and combating terror.

    And there is no unity on the Arab position. What's the "Palestinian cause," when the Palestinians don't even know what it means. What does "combating terror" mean when Hamas is internationally considered to be a terror organization, calling for the destruction of Israel.

    And then of course there's the issue of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president. Abbas is 82 years old, was born in 1935, and lived through World War II and the bloody wars between Jews and Arabs that followed the 1948 partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. Having lived though that horrific war, Abbas has been a major force in maintaining a semblance of peace between the Palestinians and Israelis.

    From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the reason that Abbas and Fatah are far more moderate than Hamas is because Abbas lived through the horrors if the Arab-Jewish war of 1948, and does not want to see it happen again. Younger leaders, in both Gaza and the West Bank, would have no such inhibitions. I believe that Abbas himself understands this, and that's why he hasn't stepped down even though he's been in declining health. But his death or retirement would bring new, younger leadership into power, and that could well mean a new, massive, bloody war between Jews and Arabs.

    Generational Dynamics predicts that the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war will pit China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries against the US, India, Russia and Iran. In the Mideast, Generational Dynamics predicts a full-scale Mideast war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other. Al Monitor (13-Mar) and Arab News and AFP and i24 News (Israel)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Apr-18 World View -- Gaza Palestinians burn tires to hide protests from Israel's army thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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    6-Apr-18 World View -- Ukraine seizes Russian ship in Sea of Azov in retaliation for Kerch Strait blockade

    Russia builds bridge over Kerch Strait to Crimea, blocking commercial traffic to Ukraine

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Russia builds bridge over Kerch Strait to Crimea, blocking commercial traffic to Ukraine


    The Kerch Strait is in the lower right corner, as the tiny strait that separates Crimea and Russia at their closest points, and also separates the Sea of Azov in the north from the Black Sea in the south.
    The Kerch Strait is in the lower right corner, as the tiny strait that separates Crimea and Russia at their closest points, and also separates the Sea of Azov in the north from the Black Sea in the south.

    Ever since Russia invaded and illegally annexed Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula in 2014, Russia has had the problem of shipping goods between Russia and Crimea.

    Russia has taken control of Luhansk and Donetsk in far eastern Ukraine, as well as Crimea itself, but the region along southern Ukraine through the Mariupol and Bardyansk seaports is still under control of Ukraine's government in Kiev.

    For a while, the international community was wondering whether the Russian invaders would continue their invasion through those seaports, in order to connect a land route from Russia to Crimea, and giving them complete control of the Sea of Azov. For whatever reason, possibly because Russia's president Vladimir Putin feared that such a drastic move might provoke military action from the European Union, no such invasion occurred.

    Apparently the Russians considered several possible solutions, with the obvious choices being a tunnel under or a bridge over the Kerch Strait. The Kerch Strait is shown in the above map in the lower right corner, as the tiny strait that separates Crimea and Russia at their closest points, and also separates the Sea of Azov in the north from the Black Sea in the south.

    In May 2015, Russia began constructing an 11.8 mile bridge across the Kerch Strait, said to be the longest bridge in Europe once it's completed. The project will cost an enormous $5 billion, and there are concerns that the strait is not sufficiently geologically stable enough to support the bridge safely. Nonetheless, construction has gone ahead, and the plan is for the bridge to be open to car traffic this year, and open to railroad traffic in 2019.

    The construction of the bridge has already had a severe effect on Ukraine's economy. Russia has several times closed the Kerch Strait to maritime traffic, trapping commercial vessels docked in Mariupol and Berdyansk seaports. During 2017, freight traffic was reduced 43% and transshipments shrank by 30%, totally $54 million in 2017. The losses are expected to be significantly higher in 2018. Jamestown (22-Feb) and Russia Today (3-Mar) and Guardian (London, 31-Aug-2017) and Völkerrechtsblog (10-Jan)

    Ukraine threatens seizure of ships in Sea of Azov travelling to and from Crimea


    The bridge over Kerch Strait (Russia Today)
    The bridge over Kerch Strait (Russia Today)

    On March 26, Ukraine's border service in the Sea of Azov seized the fishing vessel Nord, on charges of violating Ukraine's territorial waters. The Russians claim the ship was in international waters. The Ukrainians claim it illegally entered Ukrainian waters when it docked in Crimea without Ukrainian permission.

    On Wednesday, April 4, Ukraine's Border Service spokesman Oleg Slobodyan commented on the detention of Russia's Nord vessel, and said that Ukraine will detain all the ships travelling to and out of Crimea without Kiev’s consent, Slobodyan said:

    "Ukraine’s position is unequivocal, it considers Crimea to be an occupied part of its territory so law enforcement agencies will promptly respond to violations committed by those travelling in and out of Crimea."

    So the situation is this:

    There is potentially a major confrontation brewing here, especially if Ukraine goes through with its new threat of seizing all ships docking in Crimea. So far, this confrontation has been going on relatively quietly, but it could change into a full-blown crisis at any time. Unian (Ukraine) and Sputnik (Russia) and Tass (Russia) and EurAsia Daily (Russia)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Apr-18 World View -- Ukraine seizes Russian ship in Sea of Azov in retaliation for Kerch Strait blockade thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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    5-Apr-18 World View -- China on path to repeat Japan's experience after Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930

    China's tariff retaliation plan would devastate China's economy

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    China's tariff retaliation plan would devastate China's economy


    A Chinese farmer gathering bundles of wheat (Getty)
    A Chinese farmer gathering bundles of wheat (Getty)

    The Trump administration imposed tariffs earlier this week on some 1,300 products in a broad range of sectors, from electronics components to medical devices, and from false teeth to detergent chemicals.

    When China retaliated on Wednesday, its list contained only 106 items, mostly agricultural products. American soybeans as the number 1 target, followed by corn products, two types of cotton exports, wheat and meat. The list also includes frozen orange juice and whiskey, tobacco and cars. As a number of analysts have pointed out, while the Trump administration is targeting strategic products, China's reciprocal tariffs are not strategic but political, specifically targeting products that are developed in states where Trump is politically popular, in the hope of applying political pressure to Trump to drop the tariffs altogether.

    What seems clear from both sets of items is that these mutual tariffs may harm small segments of America's economy, they will devastate China's entire economy, mainly because of China's enormous and growing food security problem.

    China has only 7% of the world's farmlands, but has to feed 20% of the world's population. In order to improve yields, China's farmers have been using massive amounts of chemical fertilizers. The increasing use of these fertilizers has followed the economy Law of Diminishing Returns, in that additional use of fertilizers has been less and less effective and even counterproductive, as some farmland is being poisoned with overfertilization.

    Exacerbating the shortage of farmland is the shortage of water. China's available water supply per person is only 25% of the average available globally. In parts of China, groundwater is being depleted for agriculture. The growing and excessive use of fertilizer and groundwater indicate that China's domestic ability to feed its growing population is lessening.

    That means that China has to import enormous amounts of food from other countries. Many people were surprised to see soybeans at the top of China's tariff list, because importing massive amounts of soybeans is essential to China's economy. Of all the globally traded soybeans in the world, China imports 60% of them, including $12 billion worth of American soybeans.

    If China stopped buying American soybeans, it would be almost impossible to replace them from another source. If China did find another source, perhaps in Brazil or Argentina, then these countries would raise their own soybean prices -- and, indeed, soybean futures prices in Brazil have already been increasing. But then the people who could no longer get their soybeans from Brazil or Argentina would turn to America's soybeans.

    On the other hand, if China kept purchasing American soybeans but imposed its threatened 25% tariff, then the cost of the soybeans would be prohibitive for many Chinese, and would lead to price inflation. And price inflation would lead to social instability. China's history is filled with huge, massive internal rebellions (civil wars), the most recent of which were the White Lotus Rebellion (1796-1805), the Taiping Rebellion (1850-64) and Mao's Communist Revolution (1934-49). China is overdue for a new massive civil war, and a soybean tariff could be the trigger. Xinhua and Reuters and Nature and Zero Hedge

    China on path to repeat Japan's experience after Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930

    Chinese officials keep saying that they don't want a trade war, but they're not afraid of a trade war. Well, the first half of that statement is true, anyway, but the second half is definitely not true. America's economy would be slightly hurt, but China's economy would be devastated.

    When America passed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act in 1930, during the Great Depression, it was particularly devastating to Japan, as it cut off Japan's exports to America of silk, its greatest cash crop.

    I've written many times in the past that the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act could be considered the beginning of World War II, so I was interested in a speech given by Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe in 2015, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of WW II, where he explained how Japan was affected by a "major blow" -- the Smoot-Hawley act -- and how it led to Japan's invasion of Manchuria a year later:

    "[After World War I] Japan kept steps with other nations. However, with the Great Depression setting in and the Western countries launching economic blocs by involving colonial economies, Japan’s economy suffered a major blow [Smoot-Hawley]. In such circumstances, Japan’s sense of isolation deepened and it attempted to overcome its diplomatic and economic deadlock through the use of force. Its domestic political system could not serve as a brake to stop such attempts. In this way, Japan lost sight of the overall trends in the world.

    With the Manchurian Incident, followed by the withdrawal from the League of Nations, Japan gradually transformed itself into a challenger to the new international order that the international community sought to establish after tremendous sacrifices. Japan took the wrong course and advanced along the road to war.

    And, seventy years ago, Japan was defeated."

    The Smoot-Hawley act devastated Japan's silk industry, and its entire economy, causing it to take desperate measures a year later, invading Manchuria. Later, America and the League of Nations imposed a punitive oil embargo on Japan in 1941, and just a few months later, Japanese warplanes bombed Pearl Harbor.

    It's quite possible that we're on a similar path with China today. China's economy is already in dire straits, with huge debt bubbles that could burst at any time, and anything resembling a trade war could lead to social instability, which would cause China to take desperate measures, such as invading India, Japan, Vietnam or the Philippines.

    One could argue that China is a victim. They were victimized by Americans and the Europeans, who made it too easy for the Chinese to cheat on trade with illegal tariffs and to steal American's intellectual property, with the result that China became addicted to the drugs of illegal tariffs and stealing intellectual property. Now those drugs are being taken away, and China is at risk of showing the signs of drug withdrawal which, in this case, means launching a world war.

    China is on a very dangerous path -- to itself and to the world. China's illegal tariffs and stealing intellectual property will not be allowed to continue. It's up to China to fix this problem, but we know that the Chinese people are so nationalistic and so xenophobic that they will not.

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

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Apr-18 World View -- China on path to repeat Japan's experience after Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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    4-Apr-18 World View -- Russia accelerates delivery of S-400 anti-aircraft missiles to Turkey

    Mainstream media emphasize the love-fest between Turkey and Russia

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Russia accelerates delivery of S-400 anti-aircraft missiles to Turkey


    Russia's advanced S-400 anti-aircraft system (Tass)
    Russia's advanced S-400 anti-aircraft system (Tass)

    In the course of a joint press conference by Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia's president Vladimir Putin, held in Turkey's capital city Ankara on Tuesday, Erdogan and Putin announced that the previously scheduled delivery of Russia's advanced S-400 anti-aircraft missiles at the end of 2019 would be moved up.

    At the press conference, Putin said:

    "We have decided with President Erdogan in our meeting to speed up the delivery of the S-400 systems. Our Turkish colleagues made a request in the meetings. We will accelerate the process.

    This is an issue of commerce. Companies are working on it."

    According to Turkish and Russian media, the S-400 is Russia's most advanced long-range anti-aircraft missile system with a capacity of carrying three types of missiles capable of destroying targets including aircraft, and ballistic and cruise missiles. The system can track and engage up to 300 targets at a time and has an altitude ceiling of 27 kilometers (17 miles). In addition, the system’s radars detect aerial targets at a distance of up to 600 kilometers (373 miles).

    So there are some unanswered questions about this deal:

    What is the intended target of these S-400 missiles? Is Erdogan planning to target American warplanes? Israeli warplanes? Iranian warplanes? Syrian warplanes? Armenian warplanes? Nato warplanes?

    And what's the rush? Which of these potential targets has become so imminently dangerous that Erdogan needs to accelerate the delivery of the missiles?

    In an interview before the press conference, Putin said:

    "A priority task in the sphere of military technical cooperation is the implementation of the contract for supplies of S-400 Triumf missile systems to Turkey.

    We hope that the sectoral intergovernmental commission will look into the prospects for further supplies of Russian-made military hardware to Turkey at its next meeting."

    So the obvious question is: Why is Putin so anxious to sell these systems to Turkey?

    According to other reports, Russia is delivering the same S-400 systems to China. Whom does Putin think that Turkey and China will be using these anti-aircraft missiles against?

    Is Putin really so certain that Turkey and China won't use the S-400 missiles against Russia? Or maybe something deeper is going on -- like a secret way for Russia to disable these missiles remotely?

    Nato officials are strongly opposed to this deal between Turkey and Russia, because Turkey is member of Nato, and so it's important that all weapons systems of all Nato countries be interoperable with each other. However, Russia's S-400 system is not interoperable with other Nato weapons systems, so deploying S-400 systems represents a sharp rejection by Turkey of its relationship with Nato.

    This also provides one more reason why Putin is anxious to deliver S-400 systems to Turkey as quickly as possible -- to make sure that Turkey cannot militarily cooperate with Nato. Anadolu (Ankara) and Tass (Moscow) and Hurriyet (Ankara) and Tass

    Mainstream media emphasize the love-fest between Turkey and Russia

    One media story after another on Tuesday described how Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan are developing a close personal friendship that is bring Russia and Turkey closer together, shutting the U.S. out. For example:

    "Ties between Russia and Turkey are growing closer than ever, as Russia runs into widespread diplomatic fallout from the poisoned spy scandal and Turkey's relations with its Western allies worsens over human rights issues and its military operations against Kurdish militia in Syria."

    The "deepening friendship" between Putin and Erdogan can only be described as bizarre. This is a good time to remind readers that from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, that the behavior of two nations towards each other depends not on the attitudes of the politicians, but on the attitudes of the two populations. And historically, the people of Russia and the people of Turkey hate each other.

    During the last millennium, one of the most bloody and vicious relationships in the world was the relationship between the people who have become today's Turks and Russians. As I described in November 2015, when Turkey shot down a Russian warplane and brought the two countries close to military conflict, the Crimean Peninsula was the site of several generational crisis wars between the two.

    The Tatars were a tribe of Mongols who, under the leadership of Genghis Kahn, defeated China, then Russia, where they occupied Crimea. In 1571, the Crimean Tatars attacked and sacked Moscow. In 1783, Russia under Catherine the Great annexed Crimea in a war in which the Ottomans (Turkey) were defeated. The Crimean War (1853-55) was a disaster for both the Russians and the Turks, though more so for the Russians, who lost Crimea and other territories on the Black Sea. World War I saw the destruction of Russia's Tsarist empire and Turkey's Ottoman Empire.

    So it's particularly significant today that Russia has invaded and annexed Crimea, and has treated the current Tatar population brutally. The Tatars are historically close to the Turks, and although we don't read much about this in the media, the Russian treatment of Tatars must infuriate many Turks.

    So it's quite a reasonable question to ask what's going on here, when these two politicians, Putin and Erdogan, are behaving in ways that must upset many of the people they represent.

    In the past I've described the reasons why China and Russia, whose populations also respectively hate each other, are allying -- because both countries are supporting each other in annexing other countries' territories, as Hitler did prior to World War II. Russia and China need each other because they need each other's support, in the sense of "honor among thieves."

    Putin and Erdogan have also reached the conclusion that Russia and Turkey need each other, for several reasons:

    In addition, on Tuesday, Putin and Erdogan broke ground on a $20 billion Russian-made nuclear power plant being built on Turkey's Mediterranean coast at Akkuyu. The project was already launched once before in February 2015, but was canceled after Turkey shot down the Russian warplane. Putin said on Tuesday, "This scale of the project is difficult to exaggerate. This marks a new stage in the development of Turkey's economy."

    This "marriage of convenience" between Putin and Erdogan cannot last, in view of the centuries of bitter, bloody conflict between the two countries. At some point, Russia will be forced to choose between the West versus China and Turkey, and they will choose the West.

    Generational Dynamics predicts that the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war will pit China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries against the US, India, Russia and Iran. In the Mideast, Generational Dynamics predicts a full-scale Mideast war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other. AP and Daily Mail and AFP and RFE/RL

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Apr-18 World View -- Russia accelerates delivery of S-400 anti-aircraft missiles to Turkey thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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    3-Apr-18 World View -- Israel's government in turmoil over failure to deport African migrants

    Netanyahu: We fell into a 'trap' with failed deportation plan

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Israel's government in turmoil over failure to deport African migrants


    Asylum seekers in Tel Aviv, Israel, protest against deportation on 24-Feb (AP)
    Asylum seekers in Tel Aviv, Israel, protest against deportation on 24-Feb (AP)

    Israel's government is in turmoil after a major policy for dealing with African migrants collapsed within a few hours.

    On Monday morning, Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a major new policy for dealing with 16,250 of what it considers to be illegal immigrants from African nations, mostly Eritrea and Sudan.

    The policy was reached as a deal with the UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) which is the agency that handles issues with refugees and migrants. Under the deal between Israel and UNHCR, 16,250 African migrants under threat of being either jailed or deported to another African country, would instead be absorbed and resettled into a Western country. The deal also specifies that another 16,250 similarly threated migrants would be permitted to remain in Israel as "temporary residents." According to UNHCR, Israel is home to about 40,000 asylum seekers including 27,500 from Eritrea and 7,800 from Sudan. The deal left 7,000 unaccounted for.

    Netanyahu originally said that the agreement was a "landmark achievement," allowing 16,250 migrants to be taken to "developed countries like Canada, or Germany and Italy."

    Human rights organizations were pleased with the deal, since migrants would be resettled in Western countries. However, other officials objected to the fact that 16,250 migrants would be resettled in Israel. A city councilman in Tel Aviv, where many of the migrants would be resettled, called the agreement a "disaster that will reverberate for generations and cause irreversible damage to the country."

    A Canadian minister said that Canada was already in contact with UNHCR and Israel about accepting more refugees. However, Italy quickly issued a statement saying that they were not a part of this agreement, and had not even been consulted. Germany issued a similar statement. The Prime Minister’s Office then clarified that Netanyahu had just named those countries as examples of Western countries.

    By late Monday evening, Netanyahu wrote on Facebook that he was suspending implementation of the agreement for the time being. YNet News and Canadian TV and BBC and Haaretz

    Netanyahu: We fell into a 'trap' with failed deportation plan

    The previous deportation plan was announced in January. Each migrant would be given a choice to be jailed, or to receive a check for $3,500 and a plane ticket to another country. Migrants received the following letter in January:

    "We would like to inform you that the state of Israel has signed agreements allowing you to leave Israel for a safe third country that will absorb you and give you a residency visa that will allow you to work in that country, and promises not to remove you to your country of origin."

    The "third safe countries" were not named, but they were known to be Rwanda and Uganda. The deadline to leave or be jailed was to be April 1.

    According to a poll in late January, 66% of Jewish Israelis, and half of Arab Israelis, who make up 20% of Israel's population, favored the deportation plan. However, the plan received a huge backlash from human rights organizations, both internationally and within Israel.

    Due to international pressure, both Rwanda and Uganda announced that they wouldn't take part in the deportation plan. On Monday, Netanyahu explained in a Facebook post why the whole plan had to be canceled:

    "In the past two years I have been working with Rwanda so that it will serve as a third country' that absorbs infiltrators who will be deported without their consent. This is the only legal way for us to deport infiltrators without their consent, after the rest of our moves have been legally disqualified. Rwanda agreed to this and began the deportation operation.

    In recent weeks, under tremendous pressure on Rwanda by the New Israel Fund and elements in the European Union, Rwanda withdrew from the agreement and has refused to absorb infiltrators from Israel who are forcibly removed.

    From the moment that it became clear in the last few weeks that the third country as an option does not exist, we in effect entered a trap that meant all of them would stay."

    Falling into this "trap" represented a danger to Israel, according to education minister Naftali Bennett:

    "[G]ranting legal status to 16,000 infiltrators will turn Israel into a paradise for infiltrators and is a surrender to the false campaign spread in the media in recent months.

    The original outline was moral and just, and we must follow it, alone. Refugees from dangerous places will be absorbed in Israel, work migrants will be sent back. In the new plan, work migrants who didn’t even apply to be refugees will be absorbed. By signing this agreement, we are sending a dangerous message to the whole world: Whoever succeeds in infiltrating Israel illegally will get a prize of legal residence here or a Western country."

    He added that that the government must "proceed to a new roadmap will remove the illegal infiltrators from Israel." Reuters (3-Jan) and The Atlantic (30-Jan) and Al Jazeera (4-Feb) and Jerusalem Post

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Apr-18 World View -- Israel's government in turmoil over failure to deport African migrants thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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    2-Apr-18 World View -- Massive new anti-India violence in Kashmir leads to 20 deaths

    Uprising in Kashmir continues to grow into war between India and Pakistan

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Massive new anti-India violence in Kashmir leads to 20 deaths


    Kashmiri villagers during a funeral at Shopian, South Kashmir, during the anti-Indian protests (Hindustan Times)
    Kashmiri villagers during a funeral at Shopian, South Kashmir, during the anti-Indian protests (Hindustan Times)

    Sunday was one of the bloodiest days in Indian-controlled Kashmir in recent months, after a new generation of separatist Kashmiri youths led massive anti-India protests and violence in several parts of Indian-controlled Kashmir. Thousands of Kashmiris were in the streets chanting anti-India slogans and demanding an end to Indian rule over Kashmir. Some 20 people were killed, including 3 soldiers and 17 Kashmiris, with dozens more injured.

    A spokesman for Hurriyat, a Kashmiri separatist organization, is calling for continued protests in the days to come:

    "The joint resistance leadership calls for a shutdown tomorrow against the killings and atrocities on people in south Kashmir. Hundreds have been injured in pellet and bullet firing."

    Separatists are calling for strikes on Monday and Tuesday, and authorities have ordered all schools to be shut.

    The protests and clashes were triggered by a series of counter-insurgency operations, based on tips to police about where militant separatists may be hiding. Many civilians living in Kashmir support these militants and demand that Indian-governed Kashmir be allowed to merge Pakistan-governed Kashmir, and become part of Pakistan.

    In June 2017, India announced 'Operation All-Out,' in which thousands of security forces were involved in a massive house-to-house sweep to "deliver a lethal blow to terrorism." Operation All-Out went on for months and was responsible for killing over 200 militants, according to Indian authorities. The violence has already escalated in 2018, with 51 alleged militants already killed so far this year. Geo TV (Pakistan) and AFP and Hindustan Times and AP

    Uprising in Kashmir continues to grow into war between India and Pakistan

    As I've described several times in the past, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the growing violence in Kashmir is following a fairly standard historical template that always ends in a major war. I've written in the past to distinguish between "organic" genocides that come from the people, such as the 1994 Rwanda genocide, versus "government-led" genocides, such as occurring today in Syria and South Sudan.

    Although there's little doubt that Pakistan-based groups are inciting violence in Kashmir, that isn't enough to start a generational war unless the mood of the population is that such a war is necessary. What we're seeing in Kashmir is an "organic" war that's leading unstoppably to a generational crisis war.

    As I described in the past, India's last two generational crisis wars were India's 1857 Rebellion, and the 1947 Partition war.

    The 1857 rebellion is also called India's First War of Independence from the British colonial power. What started out as protests related to the Hindu veneration of cows grew into an extremely bloody generational crisis war, resulting in the deaths of over 100,000 Indian civilians.

    India remained a British colony, and there was little or no violence for decades, as always happens after a generational crisis war, since the traumatized survivors do not wish anything so horrible to happen again. However, as younger generations with no personal memory of the war rise to power, conflicts begin again.

    In the 1910s, Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian peace activist, launched a "non-cooperation movement" against the British, involving civil disobedience. The generational Awakening era climax occurred on April 10-12, 1919, with the Jalianvala Bagh Massacre (Amritsar Massacre), when British troops opened fire on 10,000 Sikhs holding a protest meeting, killing hundreds. That event convinced both the British and the Indians that Britain should completely give up control of India.

    By 1946, there was a debate centered on two choices: Should there be a single Indian state, with separate regions under the control of Muslims and Hindus, or should there be a two-state solution, a Muslim state living side-by-side in peace with a Hindu state? The argument that won the day was that Muslims can't stand pigs and Hindus can't eat cows, and so they can't live together. Finally, British, Muslim and Hindu officials all agreed that there had to be two separate states, India and Pakistan. In particular, the 1857 rebellion was still in everyone's mind, and it was hoped that the two-state solution would lead to peace.

    There's an old saying that "History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes." In this case, the massive violence of the 1857 rebellion was repeated, but not between Indians and British. Instead, it was between Hindus and Muslims, and with the same ferocity.

    In 1947, the Indian subcontinent was partitioned into two countries, India and Pakistan, and no sooner did that happen then there was a massive new generational crisis war. But with the British colonists gone, this war pitted the Hindus against Muslims, in one of the bloodiest wars of the 20th century.

    Once again, there was relative peace following the war, but once again, younger generations have been rising, and have no fear of a new war. The accusation today that Pakistan-based groups are using social media to incite violence is undoubtedly true, but India media are no better.

    Since the 1947 Partition war, there have been three non-crisis wars fought between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. Those wars fizzled, but now in a general Crisis era, all the participants -- Pakistanis, Kashmiris and Indians -- are becoming increasingly nationalistic and xenophobic. As the protests and violence grow, this would spiral into a much larger war, just as the initial protests did in 1857 and 1947, and turn into a war between Pakistan and India, both nuclear powers.

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

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Apr-18 World View -- Massive new anti-India violence in Kashmir leads to 20 deaths thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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    1-Apr-18 World View -- Gaza Palestinian 'Land Day' demonstrations lead to violence with Israel's army

    Fears grow of resumption of 2014 Gaza war

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Gaza Palestinian 'Land Day' demonstrations lead to violence with Israel's army


    Palestinians shout during clashes with Israel troops on Friday (Reuters)
    Palestinians shout during clashes with Israel troops on Friday (Reuters)

    Thousands of Palestinians on Friday commemorated "Land Day" by marching near Gaza's border fence with Israel, apparently threatening to break through the fence into Israel. In the resulting confrontation with Israel's army, in which tear gas was first used to stop the march and then live gunfire, 16 Palestinians were killed. In addition, 1,400 Palestinians were also wounded on Friday, according to Gaza officials, with 758 wounded by live fire and the remainder hurt by rubber bullets and tear gas inhalation. No casualties were reported among Israelis.

    The original Land Day occurred on March 30, 1976, after Israel's government announced plans to build new Jewish settlements. This triggered Palestinian marches and demonstrations, and in the ensuing confrontation with Israel's army, six unarmed Palestinians were killed, and dozens injured. The original Land Day is a generational Awakening era climax for the Palestinians, and is consider a highly symbolic day, as the day when a new generation of Palestinian youth first united to oppose Israel.

    Hamas, the government authority of Gaza, and considered a terrorist organization by the US and the EU, is calling the demonstration the "Great March for Return," meaning that it's accompanied by demands for "Right of Return," the demand that Palestinians be permitted to return to the land that they lost in the Arab-Jewish war in 1948.

    The violence continued on Saturday, when Palestinian youths hurled stones at Israeli troops, drawing gunfire that wounded 70 people. Reuters and Middle East Eye and AP

    Fears grow of resumption of 2014 Gaza war

    Hamas has announced plans to continue the demonstrations for six weeks, until May 14, which is "Naqba Day" or "Catastrophe Day," commemorating the founding, in 1948, of the state of Israel. In addition, May 14 is the day announced by the Trump administration when the official US embassy to Israel will move to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

    Although there was a slight lessening of tensions on Saturday, there are concerns that tensions will grow during the six week period. On Saturday, Israel's military spokesman Brigadier General Ronen Manelis said that the Palestinian events were "an organized terrorist activity" by Hamas:

    "If it continues, we shall have no choice but to respond inside the Gaza Strip against terrorist targets which we understand to be behind these events."

    However, Palestinian leaders are calling for revenge, and it's feared that this could lead to a resumption of the 2014 Gaza War.

    The 67 day 2014 Gaza war was a disaster for Hamas. When the war began, Hamas's popularity surged to its highest levels, which is similar to what happens to any society when a war begins, but before there are setbacks. Militarily, the war was a disastrous defeat for Hamas, since Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system blocked almost every Hamas missile entering Israel, while Hamas could put up almost no resistance to the Israeli warplanes bombing Gaza. Hamas had to agree to a ceasefire that was, effectively, a return to the status quo ante from before the war, something that it had promised it wouldn't do. At the end of the war, Gaza was in ruins, and the Gaza Palestinians were worse off than when the war was started.

    Hamas is not known to have any new technology that would defeat Israel's Iron Dome system and, without that, they would be unlikely to wish to begin another war, and risk humiliation again. However, Iran and Hezbollah are also preparing for war with Israel, and it seems likely that Hamas would delay a war resumption until it could be coordinated with those two entities. BBC and Asharq Al Awsat and Al Jazeera and AFP

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Apr-18 World View -- Gaza Palestinian 'Land Day' demonstrations lead to violence with Israel's army thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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    31-Mar-18 World View -- Russia's Far East, Siberia and Vladivostok under threat from China

    Russians increasingly fear losing Lake Baikal to China - and to garbage

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Russia's Far East under growing threat from Chinese settlers and tourists


    Russia's Lake Baikal in Siberia.  Like regions in the South China Sea, India and Central Asia, the Chinese are claiming that it's their sovereign territory
    Russia's Lake Baikal in Siberia. Like regions in the South China Sea, India and Central Asia, the Chinese are claiming that it's their sovereign territory

    In 2012, Russia's prime minister Dmitry Medvedev issued a warning that a huge influx of immigrants from China into Siberia and Far East threatened Russia's control of the region and its rich resources. He said that it was "important not to allow negative manifestations ... including the formation of enclaves made up of foreign citizens."

    Medvedev even went so far as to invite the victims of Japan's 2011 earthquake to migrate there, at least partially over concern about Chinese migrants. Medvedev discussed offering supplies of food and medical equipment to the Japanese, and added, "In general we must now think about the use, if necessary, of some of the employment potential of our [Japanese] neighbors, especially in sparsely populated areas of Siberia and the Far East."

    Medvedev was right to be concerned. Russia's Far East suffered rapid depopulation since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. During the 1990s, there was enormous poverty and no support from the chaotic Moscow government. As a result, population fell by as much as 50% in the region, as millions migrated east, mostly to the European part of Russia. According to Medvedev, "More than eight million foreign citizens came to Russia in the first six months of 2012 alone."

    And the flow has continued since then. In just one city, Khabarovsk, about 20 miles from the Chinese border, more than 300 Chinese companies have business operations, investing in almost every major sector of the city’s economy such as trade, construction, lumber and natural resources exploration, hiring thousands of Chinese migrant workers.

    It's estimated that 1.5 million Chinese illegal migrant workers arrived in the region between June 2016 and June 2017, most of them doing manual labor. Russia's Far East is home to only seven million Russians (or just 1.3 per square kilometer), while there are ten times as many people living across the border in the northeastern region of China. Obviously, there's no way for Russian authorities to halt the flow of migrant workers from China. Jamestown and South China Morning Post (8-Jul-2017) and ABC News (14-Jul-2015)

    Russians increasingly fear losing Lake Baikal to China - and to garbage

    The deepest lake in the world is Russia's Lake Baikal in Siberia. Its surface area is the size of Belgium. It draws tourists from all over the world, but particularly from China.

    Russians are worried that Lake Baikal is drowning in garbage -- mostly from the Chinese migrants and tourists. According to Ivan Loginov, head of the public organization New Energy, the problem of garbage around Lake Baikal is a huge problem:

    "Literally next to any village or place of congestion people form huge mountains of garbage. And the saddest thing is that neither the volunteers nor the municipalities have enough strength to fight garbage. Vicious circle. People come and litter, but they do not have enough understanding that this garbage needs to be cleaned. And if they even collect it for themselves, they leave it on the bank, where it gradually accumulates.

    The municipalities do not have enough money to fight garbage. Moreover, the question arises: where should we take this garbage? In Buryatia garbage is not processed, roughly speaking, it is buried underground. And the situation is very deplorable. ... And garbage remains on the shores of Lake Baikal."

    The rising mountains of garbage are just one of the reasons that local Russians are appalled by Chinese tourists. Chinese guides tell Chinese tourists that Baikal is China’s northern sea, that their ancestors used to live there, and that the territory only belongs to Russia for the time being. These guides also reportedly encourage Chinese visitors to buy property and businesses in order to make money over the next decade. Many are doing so.

    Chinese involvement in the region has inspired outrage among Russians for several reasons. First is the massive influx of tourists who often behave badly, use only Chinese facilities and so bring little money to Russian firms, and are hated by the local population. Second, Chinese citizens have been buying up land on Lake Baikal that Russians are not allowed to purchase as well as acquiring various Russian companies. All this has been leading to an influx of Chinese permanent residents. And third, the entirely illegal Chinese logging operations in the region are being protected by Russian criminal groups and Russian officials allied with them.

    Chinese tourists, businesses and migrants are taking control of the region around Lake Baikal. This is not a trivial matter, and will lead to war when the time is ripe. Hong Kong Economic Journal (20-Sep-2017) and NY Times (24-Jul-2016) and Eurasian Business Briefing and Regnum (Russia) and (translation)

    Popular pressure grows in China to 'reclaim' Vladivostok (Haishenwai) from Russia

    The Chinese are increasingly claiming "indisputable sovereignty" over many countries' regions, including India, several Central Asian states, and of course the South China Sea, where the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague has ruled that all of China's activities are illegal.

    International law means little to the Chinese, who say that their own laws supersede international law, and give them the right to invade and annex any region they choose, and back it up with their massive and growing military, threatening to kill anyone who disagrees with them.

    Media reports indicate that Chinese people are asking this question, especially in social media:

    "If China was able to take back Hong Kong from the British on the grounds that the territory was ceded to Britain under an unequal treaty concluded in the 1840s, then why didn’t it reclaim Vladivostok as well, which was also ceded to Russia under another unequal treaty signed in the 1860s?"

    Vladivostok is the home of Russia's Pacific Fleet. It's the farthest point east in Russia, and it's connected to Moscow by the Trans-Siberian Railway that runs to and from Moscow in a week-long trip.

    Although the Chinese are now claiming Vladivostok as a historically Chinese city, that's provably not true, as it was a city controlled by Manchuria, not China. The Chinese call the city by its Manchurian name, Haishenwai. After China was defeated by the British Opium wars of the 1840s-50s, China was forced to cede Hong Kong to the British, and Vladivostok to the Russians. China annexed Manchuria after World War II, but Vladivostok remained in Russian (Soviet) hands.

    Russia's president Vladimir Putin takes a great deal of pride in Vladivostok and the Pacific Fleet. There is no possibility at all that Vladivostok will be ceded to the Chinese without a full-scale war, despite the demands of the Chinese social media.

    As long-time readers have known for years, Generational Dynamics predicts that the world is headed for a new Clash of Civilizations world war, with the "axis" of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries pitted against the "allies," the US, India, Russia and Iran.

    I'm frequently asked how it's possible that Russia will be a US ally, rather than a Chinese ally. The current alliance between Russia and China is a "marriage of convenience" between the countries, because they are both repeating Hitler's actions of annexing other countries' regions, and then they support each other in the United Nations.

    As we reported last year, China has placed nuclear missiles near the Amur River, which separates China from Russia's Far East. The nominal purpose of these Chinese missiles is to attack the US, but these and other missile systems can also conveniently target Moscow and other Russian targets.

    Historically, the Russian and Chinese people hate each other. In the 1200s, the Mongols under Genghis Khan conquered and dominated China, in a generational crisis war that climaxed in 1206, forming the Mongol Empire, the largest empire in history. In the next generational crisis war, Genghis Khan's grandson, Kublai Khan, conquered all of China, and created the Yuan Dynasty in 1271.

    From there, the Mongol Empire attacked and conquered almost all the Russian principalities, and made them bitter vassals of the Mongol Empire, in a relationship called the "Mongol Yoke." This hated period, two centuries long, has defined the relationship between the Russian and Chinese people forever. The Mongol Yoke was only thrown off in September 8, 1380, in the seminal Battle of Kulikovo, a generational crisis war where the Russians decisively defeated the Mongols, and the Russian nation was born.

    The Mongol Yoke still defines Russian-Chinese attitudes today. Even as recently as the 1960s, China and the Soviet Union almost went to war in the border region with Siberia and the Far East.

    There's a certain ironic truth that comes through when you read Russian history. The Russian people and the Chinese people hate each other, but the Russian people like the American people, and they love the European people, despite the rhetoric of politicians. In the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, when Russia is forced to choose between China and the West, they will choose the West. Russia Beyond the Headlines and Way To Russia

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-Mar-18 World View -- Russia's Far East, Siberia and Vladivostok under threat from China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    30-Mar-18 World View -- Ethiopia chooses an Oromo leader, as Kenya has farcical confrontation with the courts

    Ethiopia chooses Oromo leader, Abiy Ahmed, hoping to reduce violence

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Ethiopia chooses Oromo leader, Abiy Ahmed, hoping to reduce violence


    Ethiopian protesters facing the military
    Ethiopian protesters facing the military

    Ethiopia has been without a prime minister since February 15, when prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned, saying, "I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy."

    Since late 2015, there have been massive anti-government protests in Ethiopia's Oromia region, which later spread to the neighboring Amhara region, leaving hundreds dead and resulting in tens of thousands of arrests. A state of emergency was imposed in October 2016, allowing mass detentions, and imposing numerous restrictions on people’s movement and communication. The state of emergency ended in August 2017, but massive protests began again, with millions of protesters by February, leading to Hailemariam's resignation.

    The situation has worsened considerably since Hailemariam's resignation. Almost 10,000 Ethiopians, mostly ethnic Oromos, have fled across the border into Kenya, after Ethiopian government soldiers began shooting civilians indiscriminately, even in their homes and shops.

    In the hopes of ending the chaos and bloodshed, Ethiopia's ruling government coalition chose an Oromo, Abiy Ahmed, 42, to be a leader of the coalition. He is now expected to be voted in by parliament as the country’s next prime minister.

    Abiy is being described as a "polyglot," because he's a speaker of three Ethiopian languages and English He holds a doctorate from Addis Ababa University in traditional conflict resolution and has represented his Oromiya hometown of Agaro in parliament since 2010. He is a retired lieutenant-colonel who previously served as director of the nation’s Information Network Security Agency, which says it provides technical intelligence to support the government.

    The obvious hope is that by selecting an Oromo as leader, Abiy will be able to "reason with" the Oromo people and end the massive protests.

    An analogy can be drawn with the situation in Myanmar (Burma). The Burmese army, under the leadership of Buddhist Monk Ashin Wirathu using Buddhism, began conducting massacres, rapes and torture against ethnic Rohingyas. When Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi effectively became the country's leader, it was welcomed by the entire international community with the hope that the Burmese army would then allow the Rohingyas to live in peace. Instead, the violence has only gotten worse, to the point of ethnic cleansing and genocide, with some 800,000 Rohingyas forced to flee the violence by crossing the border into Bangladesh. You can argue whether Suu Kyi approves of the ethnic cleansing, or whether she disapproves but is forced to approve by the Burmese army. Either way, Suu Kyi has effective turned into a new Hitler, who is providing cover for the continued ethnic cleansing and genocide.

    We may be seeing the first signs of a similar situation in Ethiopia. Abiy Ahmed is just one person, while the existing government, dominated by ethnic Tigrayans, holds all 547 seats in parliament. Abiy is going to be lone voice in the wilderness, compared to the traditional opposition.

    There may be a brief pause, but we can expect the protests and violence to start again and continue. What will Abiy do then? Will he be another Aung San Suu Kyi and provide cover for continued Tigrayan violence against Oromos and Amharas? Or will he resign, just as Hailemariam Desalegn, and denounce the violence?

    It really doesn't make much difference. Either way, we can expect the violence to continue, and we can expect millions more Oromos and Amharas to flee across the border into Kenya, further destabilizing the region. Africa News and Al Jazeera and Reuters and The Nation (Kenya, 14-Mar) and Bloomberg

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    Kenya's government vs the judiciary -- tensions mount over farcical deportation spectacle

    While Ethiopian Oromos are seeking fleeing violence into Kenya, there's also chaos in Kenya's capital city Nairobi, where a farcical deportation spectacle highlighted an increasing conflict between the government of Uhuru Kenyatta and the judiciary.

    Uhuru Kenyatta and his major opposition are from two ethnic tribes that have been at war in the past -- respectively the Kikuyu tribe and the Luo tribe. The enmity between the two tribes has affected the political sphere, and from there it's spread into a conflict between the government and the judiciary.

    The first major split occurred last year, when Kenya's Supreme Court shocked pretty much everybody and sided with Odinga in claiming that the August 8 presidential election was "invalid, null and void," forcing a new election. Kenyatta was furious, as he began calling the judges "crooks," saying that there was problem with the court, and promising to "fix it" after he was reelected.

    Kenyatta did win the election, but has been cracking down on Odinga's supporters, and arresting many of them. One of those supporters is political activist Miguna Miguna. In February, the court ordered the government to release him from jail, and the government ignored the court order.

    Now there's been a farcical new chapter in this drama. Earlier this week, a court held several top Kenyan government officials in contempt for refusing to release Miguna Miguna from custody. Instead of releasing him, the government thugs allegedly drugged him and bundled him onto a plane to Dubai. He wrote in social media:

    "I was dragged, assaulted, drugged and forcefully flown to Dubai. I woke up in Dubai and the despots are here insisting that I must travel on to London. ...

    I woke up in Dubai. I’m sick. I need medical treatment. A Mr Njihia is threatening me. I need urgent help here. I want to take a flight only to Nairobi. Nowhere else!"

    Video of security guards manhandling Miguna as they tried to force him onto a plane the same day went viral, while a number of journalists covering the story were allegedly assaulted.

    The chief justice, David Maraga, criticized the government, saying: "Disobeying court orders is inimical to the rule of law." The interior minister, inspector general of police and head of immigration have been convicted of contempt of court. Standard Media (Kenya) and BBC and Standard Media

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Mar-18 World View -- Ethiopia chooses an Oromo leader, as Kenya has farcical confrontation with the courts thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    29-Mar-18 World View -- Russia-China strategy to use the UN to control Western foreign policy has stopped working

    China 'prepares for war' with massive naval/air force drills in South China Sea

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Russia-China strategy to use the UN to control Western foreign policy has stopped working


    Early March: Vladimir Putin smirks when a BBC reporter asks him whether Russia poisoned Sergei Skripal
    Early March: Vladimir Putin smirks when a BBC reporter asks him whether Russia poisoned Sergei Skripal

    In 2011, massive protests and gun battles in Tunisia spread to Libya, and by February, the bloodbath in Libya spread from Benghazi and Tobruk in the east to Tripoli in the west. This caused a massive refugee crisis in Libya, with hundreds of thousands of refugees pouring into Egypt and neighboring countries, and across the Mediterranean into Europe. That led the Arab League to demand that the West implement a no-fly zone, and approval by the UN Security Council. The no-fly zone eventually led to the war in Libya, and the death of Muammar Gaddafi.

    As I wrote in 2011, Russia adopted a specific policy of using the UN Security Council as a tool to control the foreign policy of the United States, Europe and NATO, while leaving itself free to pursue any policy it wanted. ( "22-Apr-11 News -- Russia seeks to cripple Nato through Libya United Nations politics")

    The way it works is that Russia demands that any military action taken by the United States or Nato must be approved by the UN Security Council, giving the Russians an effective veto of the US and Nato foreign policy. On the other hand, Russia can invade Ukraine, invade Crimea, annex Crimea, support war crimes by Syria's Bashar al-Assad, all without getting any UN approval. So Russia has complete military freedom, while the West is constrained by Russia's UNSC veto. It's really a remarkable plan, and it's been incredibly successful, completely crippling the UN, and turning it into a body that provides cover for international criminals, rather than stopping them.

    China has adopted a variation of the same strategy. China has built artificial islands in the South China Sea, annexing other countries' regions or blocking access by other countries to their centuries-old fishing grounds, and has turned those artificial islands into massive military bases. The United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague eviscerated all of China's claims in the South China Sea, in July, 2013, and ruled that all of China's activities are unambiguously violations of international law.

    China's reaction is to say that international law doesn't apply to them. China has also been using its military to bully other nations into supporting them. It's as if the KKK lynched 10 black men and then bullied cops and judges into supporting them.

    So Russia and China have made it clear that international law doesn't apply to them, and they can do anything they want, and they'll kill anyone who tries to stop them.

    Two recent international events, both major and remarkable, have made it clear that this strategy is no longer working.

    The first is the North Korea situation, where the Donald Trump administration had made military threats that are actually credible. A lot of people have said publicly that they think that Trump is crazy, but that's a negotiating strategy that's worked to his advantage, since both China and North Korea think he's crazy enough to carry through with his threat. And it's clear that any military action taken by the Trump administration will not be subject to a Russian or Chinese veto in the UN Security Council.

    The West reacts to Russia's poisoning of double-agent Skripal

    The second remarkable international event is the Western reaction to the March 4 poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, using a Russia-developed nerve agent Novichok. At this writing, both of the poison victims are in hospital, and are not expected to survive.

    From the beginning, there was little doubt that Russia was responsible, and that they were sure they would get away with it, because of Russia's veto power in the UN Security Council. As I reported in my article, Russia's president Vladimir Putin smirked and gave a sarcastic answer when a BBC reporter asked about it.

    This was followed by a massive disinformation campaign by Russia by Russian trolls, calling the accusations a "circus show," a "fairy tale," and a "plot to victimize Russia." On the BBC a couple of days ago, I heard a Russian official claim that this was the latest in 200 years of Western attacks on Russia.

    Britain's foreign secretary Boris Johnson gave a furious response to this:

    "There is something in the kind of smug, sarcastic response that we’ve heard that indicates their fundamental guilt. They want to simultaneously deny it, yet at the same time to glory in it.

    There is very little doubt in people’s minds that this is a signature act by the Russia state – deliberately using novichok, a nerve agent developed by Russia to punish a Russian defector as they would see it, and in the run up to Vladimir Putin’s election.

    This was a former Russian agent living in this country who had been singled out already by the Russian state as an object for revenge and retaliation, and Vladimir Putin has been on the TV only recently saying that such people deserve to be poisoned, to choke on their own 30 pieces of silver. This is a way of showing look at what happens to people who stand up to our regime."

    An investigation of the evidence by scientists from Britain and several other European countries led to the conclusion that Russia, and probably Putin himself, were responsible for the poisoning.

    That much isn't remarkable at all. Putin has had other former agents poisoned in the past, and has violated international law many times, and there were the same kinds of investigations, and the same kinds of disinformation campaigns by Russian trolls. And there was always the same smirk, because Putin knew that he would get away with it.

    What is remarkable this time is that Western nations were united in backing Britain's prime minister Theresa May in taking action against Russia. Over 20 countries, including the US, Canada, and several European Union countries, have expelled Russian diplomats.

    Expelling diplomats is not going to do much damage to Putin. The shocking thing is that all of these Western nations were unified in condemning Russia, something that hasn't happened in the past. This was meant to send a signal to Russia, and to China as well, the days of using the United Nations to have veto power over Western foreign policy are coming to an end. Guardian (London, 15-March) and Reuters (18-March)

    China reacts furiously to Western expulsion of Russian diplomats

    The expulsion of the diplomats by so many countries was a big surprise to both Russia and China. China's state-controlled Global Times responded with a furious editorial:

    "The fact that major Western powers can gang up and "sentence" a foreign country without following the same procedures other countries abide by and according to the basic tenets of international law is chilling. During the Cold War, not one Western nation would have dared to make such a provocation and yet today it is carried out with unrestrained ease. Such actions are nothing more than a form of Western bullying that threatens global peace and justice."

    It's laughable to read about the Chinese appealing to international law. Keep in mind that what the Chinese are whining about is expelling some diplomats. Contrast that to China's actions in the South China Sea, which are violations of international law thousands of times more serious than just expelling diplomats.

    However, the article is right to say, "During the Cold War, not one Western nation would have dared to make such a provocation and yet today it is carried out with unrestrained ease." That was during a generational Unraveling era, when everybody's behavior is far more compromising. Today, the world is deep into a generational Crisis era, and as I've written many dozens of times in recent years, populations are becoming increasingly nationalistic, belligerent and xenophobic.

    "Over the past few years the international standard has been falsified and manipulated in ways never seen before. The fundamental reason behind reducing global standards is rooted in post-Cold War power disparities. The US, along with their allies, jammed their ambitions into the international standards so their actions, which were supposed to follow a set of standardized procedures and protocol, were really nothing more than profit-seizing opportunities designed only for themselves. These same Western nations activated in full-force public opinion-shaping platforms and media agencies to defend and justify such privileges."

    This is a typical Chinese anti-American rant. I don't know what "full-force public opinion-shaping platforms and media agencies" this is referring to, but in the West we have news sources expressing all points of view, while in China if you express a view not approved by the Chinese Communist Party, then you can get yourself abducted, thrown into a pit, tortured and killed.

    "As of late, more foreign countries have been victimized by Western rhetoric and nonsensical diplomatic measures. In the end, the leaders of these nations are forced to wear a hat featuring slogans and words that read "oppressing their own people," "authoritarian," or "ethnic cleansing," regardless of their innocence."

    Who are these Chinese talking about? Maybe they're talking about the officials in Myanmar (Burma) who are performing genocide and ethnic cleansing on the Rohingyas.

    "It is beyond outrageous how the US and Europe have treated Russia. Their actions represent a frivolity and recklessness that has grown to characterize Western hegemony that only knows how to contaminate international relations. Right now is the perfect time for non-Western nations to strengthen unity and collaborative efforts among one another. These nations need to establish a level of independence outside the reach of Western influence while breaking the chains of monopolization declarations, predetermined adjudications, and come to value their own judgement abilities.

    It's already understood that to achieve such international collective efforts is easier said than done as they require foundational support before anything can happen. Until a new line of allies emerges, multi-national associations like BRICS, or even the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, need to provide value to those non-Western nations and actively create alliances with them.

    What Russia is experiencing right could serve as a reflection of how other non-Western nations can expect to be treated in the not-to-distant future. Expelling Russian diplomats simultaneously is hardly enough to deter Russia. Overall, it's an intimidation tactic that has become emblematic of Western nations, and furthermore, such measures are not supported by international law and therefore unjustified. More importantly, the international community should have the tools and means to counterbalance such actions."

    This gets to the heart of the matter. The Chinese are proposing to create another international organization, perhaps a competitor to the United Nations, where they would be in control. This idea is completely delusional, since even if such an organization existed, it would run into the same kinds of conflicts that occur in the UN Security Council.

    Russia and China in particular were almost in full-scale war with each other in the 1960s. Today they have a marriage of convenience because they're both annexing other countries' regions, doing what Hitler did prior to WW II, and using each other to justify their actions. Russia and China are basically two criminal countries, applying the rule of "honor among thieves."

    But the real message here is that China and Russia wish to formalize their rejection of international law, which has formed the basis of peace since the end of World War II.

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

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    China 'prepares for war' with massive naval/air force drills in South China Sea

    China has begun conducting massive maritime combat drills, including dozens of vessels mobilized in the South China Sea as part of what the military said would be bigger, more frequent exercises in the tense region.

    It appears increasingly that China is preparing its population for war. This is an essential first step before actually launching a war.

    Satellite photos show an aircraft carrier and dozens of Chinese naval vessels in a large show of force. The Air Force said on its social media account that the exercises were "rehearsals for future wars and are the most direct preparation for combat." Global Times and Telegraph (London) and Newsweek and Stars and Stripes and Reuters

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Mar-18 World View -- Russia-China strategy to use the UN to control Western foreign policy has stopped working thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    28-Mar-18 World View -- Tense Turkey-EU summit in Bulgaria once again ends in failure

    Other unresolved issues from the EU-Turkey summit meeting

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Tense Turkey-EU summit in Bulgaria once again ends in failure


    After a tense meeting that accomplished nothing, the EU and Turkish leaders posed for a silly photo opportunity where they pretend to be friends.  From left to right: Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, European Council President Donald Tusk, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and European Commission President Jean-Claude Jüncker
    After a tense meeting that accomplished nothing, the EU and Turkish leaders posed for a silly photo opportunity where they pretend to be friends. From left to right: Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, European Council President Donald Tusk, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and European Commission President Jean-Claude Jüncker

    Tensions between the European Union and Turkey have been tense in the last year, including EU referring to Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a "dictator," and Erdogan comparing the Dutch and German governments to the Nazis.

    So there was a summit meeting on Monday in Varna, Bulgaria, attended by Erdogan, European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Jüncker, as well as Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borissov. The purpose of the meeting was to mend relations between Turkey and the EU.

    There was a lot of angry rhetoric, and there were whole lists of issues on both sides that were left unresolved. However, neither side wanted to risk a total breakdown on relations, so they agreed to continue the EU-Turkey refugee deal, at least in part:

    Erdogan has repeatedly expressed fury in particular that the visa-free travel has not been permitted. RTE (Ireland) and EU Observer and Reuters and Kathimerini (Athens)

    Other unresolved issues from the EU-Turkey summit meeting

    At the conclusion of Monday's summit meeting, European Council president Donald Tusk said:

    "If you are asking me if we achieved some solutions or compromises, my answer is no. What I can say that is that I raised all our concerns, as you know it was a long list."

    EU accession continues to be a major point of hostility -- the process of allowing Turkey to become a member of the European Union. There have been talks since 2005, but there has been enormous hostility on both sides historically rooted from the time when Turkey's Ottoman Empire and European nations were at war. The talks were frozen completely following the failed coup in July, 2016.

    The most recent major new disagreement occurred two weeks ago, when Turkey sent warships to block gas and oil exploration in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone.

    Cyprus has been bitterly divided since a 1974 war, with Greek Orthodox Christian Greeks governing the south, and Muslim Turks governing the north. The two sides are partitioned by a "no-man's land," a strip that stretches 112 miles across the entire island. Today, it's only the Greek government of Cyprus that is recognized by the EU, and is a member of the EU.

    Turkey has condemned actions by the Greek Cyprus government to drill for oil and gas without an agreement that Turkey should receive a share of the revenue.

    In February, Turkish warships blocked an Italian company that was scheduled to drill in Cyprus's territorial waters. Turkey said it would prevent any further drilling off Cyprus without the direct involvement of the Turkish Cypriots.

    EU leaders made clear that the EU was in solidarity with Cyprus, and that it was necessary for Turkey to improve its relations with both Greece and Cyprus.

    Another recent disagreement is related to the war in Syria, and to Turkey's Operation Olive Branch, whose purpose is to take control of Syria's northern border city of Afrin. The message from the EU has been mixed. Afrin was controlled by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which is linked to the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). The PKK has conducted numerous violent terrorist acts on Turkish soil, and is recognized as a terrorist group by the United States and the EU. So the mixed message from the EU in recent days was "you have a right to protect your border, but don't go too far in killing or displacing civilians." EU officials are giving the Afrin operation as another reason for a delay in further accession talks.

    However, with regard to the military operation in Afrin, Erdogan said he expects the EU’s support in dealing with terrorists. Erdogan said:

    "It would be a grave mistake for Europe, which claims to be a global force, to push Turkey out of its expansion policy.

    Our operations against terrorism not only contribute to the security of ourselves and the Syrians but also to the security of Europe.

    We now expect strong support [from Europe] on sensitive issues such as the fight against terrorism instead of rambling and unjust criticism.

    I hope that we together have taken the first step of restoring confidence between the EU and us [Turkey] today, but it is not enough to say that we took this step; it has to be taken in concrete terms.

    We hope that we have left a difficult period in Turkey-EU relations behind."

    Other issues raised by the European Union include concerns about the rule of law in Turkey, the mass jailing of journalists, and the jailing of two Greek soldiers who accidentally crossed the border from Greece into Turkey.

    With regard to the Greek soldiers, European Commission president Jean-Claude Jüncker said that they should be released from jail before the Greek Orthodox Easter on April 8. (The Catholic Easter this year is on April 1.) To Vima (Athens) and AP (22-Mar) and Cyprus Mail and EU Observer and Hurriyet (Ankara)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Mar-18 World View -- Tense Turkey-EU summit in Bulgaria once again ends in failure thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    27-Mar-18 World View -- Al-Houthi missile attack on Saudi cities sharply escalates the Yemen war

    Yemen's Iran-backed al-Houthi rebels launch barrage of missile attacks on Saudi cities

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Yemen's Iran-backed al-Houthi rebels launch barrage of missile attacks on Saudi cities


    Light show over Saudi capital city Riyadh, as American-supplied Patriot missiles intercept ballistic missiles launched by al-Houthis in Yemen (CNN)
    Light show over Saudi capital city Riyadh, as American-supplied Patriot missiles intercept ballistic missiles launched by al-Houthis in Yemen (CNN)

    The Yemen war sharply escalated on Monday when the rebel al-Houthis launched a barrage of seven ballistic missiles from Yemen across the Saudi Arabia border. Three of them targeted the capital city Riyadh, while the other four targeted other nearby cities. In all cases, civilian neighborhoods were targeted.

    The Saudis targeted the incoming missiles with defensive American-supplied Patriot missiles. At least one and possibly two of the Patriot missiles failed to achieve its objective of destroying the incoming missile. One incoming missile hit a residential area, and another exploded in mid-air shortly after launch. An Egyptian woman was killed, though it's not clear whether she was killed by an incoming missile or by falling debris from a missile destroyed in flight.

    Saudi officials are claiming that the missiles must have been supplied by Iran, since they were too sophisticated to have been developed by the al-Houthis themselves. The missile attack is infuriating the Saudis, who are becoming increasingly belligerent and nationalistic, and the attack raises the possibility that the Saudis might retaliate militarily directly against Iran.

    Yemen is considered to be the worst humanitarian disaster in the world today. Out of a population of 27.6 million, about 50,000 people have died of starvation, and 8.4 million more are on the verge of starvation. Disease is rampant, where over one million people have contracted cholera. The Saudis have largely blocked the ports, preventing humanitarian food and water from being delivered, leaving the people on their own.

    Saudi Arabia has been under increasing international pressure to end the Yemen war and end the humanitarian disaster. Both Britain and the US have been supplying weapons to the Saudis, and politicians in both countries have been demanding that the supply of weapons be stopped.

    The Saudis point out that they're acting on behalf of the UN-recognized government of Yemen, and that they're fighting rebels who have overthrown the legitimate government. They also point out that an Iran-backed Houthi government on the Saudi southern border would present an existential threat. Gulf News (Dubai) and Saudi Gazette and CNN and The National (Abu Dhabi)

    Al-Houthi missile attack on Saudi cities sharply escalates the Yemen war

    It's not clear why the al-Houthis launched this attack. Perhaps they believe that by targeting civilian neighborhoods in Saudi Arabia, they can build both international and Saudi domestic opposition to the war, and force the Saudis to withdraw and hand a victory to the al-Houthis.

    That might have been true in the 1990s during a generational Unraveling era, when the Silent Generation, the last survivors of World War II, were in charge, and there was a great aversion to war. But today, we're in a generational Crisis era, with younger generations in charge, and nationalism and xenophobia are surging around the world.

    So if the al-Houthis were hoping that this attack would convince the Saudis to back down, there's no chance of that. Instead, increased nationalism will cause the Saudis to take even more drastic steps to win the war, while critics who want Britain and the US to stop supplying weapons will be muted. I would expect the Saudis to sharply escalate their actions in the next few weeks, possibly even taking some action directly targeting Iran. Gulf News (Dubai) and The National (Abu Dhabi) and Business Insider and Foreign Policy

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Mar-18 World View -- Al-Houthi missile attack on Saudi cities sharply escalates the Yemen war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    26-Mar-18 World View -- Spain's arrests of Catalonia secessionist leaders revive memories of Franco's brutal atrocities

    Violent clashes with police in Spain's Catalonia follow arrest of Puigdemont in Germany

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Violent clashes with police in Spain's Catalonia follow arrest of Puigdemont in Germany


    Catalonia protesters clash with police in Barcelona on Sunday (AP)
    Catalonia protesters clash with police in Barcelona on Sunday (AP)

    At least 50 people were injured on Sunday when tens of thousands of supporters of Carles Puigdemont, the former leader of Spain's Catalonia region, clashed with Spanish policy in Barcelona, Catalonia's capital city, after Puigdemont was arrested in Germany, based on a European arrest warrant issued by a Spanish court.

    The story of Puigdemont's arrest is a kind of spy thriller.

    Puigdemont led a failed attempt at Catalonian independence in September of last year, after which a Spanish court issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of treason and sedition. He fled to Belgium, where authorities refused an extradition request, on condition that Puigdemont not leave Belgium. Spain retracted the arrest warrant earlier this year, leaving Puigdemont free to travel again.

    He traveled to Finland to give some lectures, but on Friday Spain's government issued new arrest warrants for Puigdemont and for other leaders who had supported the attempt at secession.

    The new arrest warrant caught Puigdemont by surprise. When Puigdemont got word of the new arrest warrant on Friday, he immediately tried to flee Finland by car, hoping to reach the safety of Belgium undetected. He crossed the border into Sweden, and traveled south into Denmark. From there he crossed the border into Germany, and was recognized and arrested in Germany when he stopped at a filling station.

    If Germany extradites Puigdemont back to Spain, and he is convicted of the crimes he's charged with, then the punishment will be 25-30 years in prison. However, Puigdemont's lawyers will try to convince Germany's courts that they can't extradite because the arrest is political. This is similar to the reasoning that Belgium's court used when it refused to extradite him. Under EU rules, a court in one EU member state can only extradite a person sought by another member state if they are confident the suspect will face equivalent fair legal procedures and trial. The battles in Germany's courts are expected to continue for weeks. For the time being, Puigdemont is in a German jail.

    Puigdemont's arrest has infuriated the half of Catalonia's public that support him. The other half of Catalonia's public is against independence, and many of them believe that Puigdemont should be charged and jailed. Irish Times and BBC and AP and CNN

    Spain's arrests of Catalonia secessionist leaders revive memories of Franco's brutal atrocities

    As I described last year in "23-Sep-17 World View -- The 1930s Spanish Civil War fault lines explode again over Catalonia independence referendum", memories of Generalísimo Francisco Franco's fascist nationalism and his brutal atrocities targeting Catalonians in the extremely bloody Spanish Civil War (1936-39) are now being revived.

    Puigdemont's arrest by the Germans is being compared on social media to the arrest by the German Gestapo of Lluís Companys, the president of Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War.

    After Franco's victory in the Battle of the Ebro on July 25, 1938, at the climax of the Spanish Civil War, Franco began an offensive against Catalonia, forcing the government of Catalonia to exile itself in France. They were safe in France until France capitulated to the Nazis in June 1940. Companys was arrested by the German Gestapo in Brittany on August 13th 1940 and handed over to the Francoist authorities on August 29th. Companys was held in solitary confinement, tortured and eventually executed by firing squad on October 14, 1940.

    There are few people alive today who have personal memories of the Spanish Civil War and of the capture and execution of Companys. However, Francisco Franco did not die until 1975, and there are many people alive today, including Puigdemont himself, who have personal memories of Franco and of his severe repression of the Catalan region.

    That's why many Catalonians today are comparing the German arrest of Puigdemont to the 1940 Gestapo arrest of another Catalan leader, Lluís Companys. If the German courts decide to extradite Puigdemont and turn him over to Spain's government, then the circle of history will be complete. AFP and TeleSur TV and Barcelonas.com

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Mar-18 World View -- Spain's arrests of Catalonia secessionist leaders revive memories of Franco's brutal atrocities thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    25-Mar-18 World View -- The Pivotal Generation (Generation Z) marches for gun control, tilting at windmills

    Defining the generations -- Silent, Boomer, Generation-X, Millennial, Pivotal

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Florida school shooting causes millions of high school students to rally for gun control


    High-school students and their families in Washington on Saturday for the 'March for our Lives' (ZeroHedge)
    High-school students and their families in Washington on Saturday for the 'March for our Lives' (ZeroHedge)

    Saturday's "March for our Lives" rallies were national and international. The current generation of high-school students held a spectacular coming-out part on Saturday, as millions students and their families flooded into Washington, and cities around the world. For many of the kids, this must have been the most exciting and thrilling day of their young lives.

    So the first thing to understand is that these kids are not Millennials. People born since 1999 are in a new generation, the next generation after Millennials, called the Pivotal Generation (because they're pivoting away from the Millennials), or often called "Generation Z" (a name they hate).

    The recent school shooting in Florida has triggered a rather spectacular entrance by the Pivotals into national politics, and they're driving politics in several new directions that differ from the Millennials.

    Democrats completely co-opted Saturdays "March for our Lives" rallies by completely excluding any high school student from speaking who took any position contrary to the positions of the Democratic party leadership. Thus all the political messages were pro-gun control, anti-Republican, anti-National Rifle Association (NRA), and opposed to any solutions proposed by other parties, such as gun violence restraining orders, arming school resource officers, and updating instant criminal background checks.

    However, the kids in the Pivotal Generation do not by any means hold positions matching those in the Democratic Party. As for getting gun control enacted, they're tilting at windmills. Within a few months, the Pivotals will be on to a new and even more exciting issue, and this issue will be forgotten. NBC News and March for Our Lives web site and Zero Hedge

    The rise of the Pivotal Generation (Generation Z)

    The attitudes of the Pivotals are not anti-NRA at their core. The Pivotals are pro-security, especially school security. The rallies were called "March for our Lives," not "March to kill the NRA." Since there's really no solution to the school security problem, they allowed their rally to be co-opted by the anti-NRA stance because it's the only thing they understand. However, the pro-security policy is much more right wing than left wing.

    Research on the Pivotals during the last year or two has revealed three major themes in their political beliefs:

    In generational theory, a "regeneracy event" is an event that regenerates civic unity and unifies the country behind the country's leader for the first time since the end of the preceding generational crisis war (WW II in this case). A regeneracy event today might be, for example, a North Korean nuclear weapon ballistic missile attack on Los Angeles. With their demand for total security and willingness to work for success, the Pivotals in case of war would combine into a powerful patriotic force willing to do whatever is necessary to fight for the nation. They will truly be the next "Greatest Generation."

    Whatever events unfold in the future, the Pivotal Generation is pivoting away from Millennials and other generations, and is adopting a unique set of attitudes and behaviors that will end up being a surprise to everyone, including both political parties. Barkley US and Barkley US (PDF) and Reno Gazette and Inc

    Defining the generations -- Silent, Boomer, Generation-X, Millennial, Pivotal

    According to the US government Census Bureau:

    "The term “baby boomer” refers to individuals born in the United States between mid-1946 and mid-1964 (Hogan, Perez, and Bell, 2008). Distinctions between the baby boom cohort and birth cohorts from preceding and subsequent years become apparent when fertility measures are framed within a historical context. The baby boom in the United States was marked by a substantial rise in birth rates post-World War II. Two features of the baby boom differentiate this increase from those previously experienced: the size of the birth cohort and the length of time for which these higher levels of fertility were sustained."

    In other words, many couples held off having children during the Great Depression and World War II, but as soon as the war ended they started having children as quickly as possible.

    The birth year range 1946-1964 for Boomers makes sense for demographic purposes, which is the business that the Census Bureau is in. But from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, it's not particularly useful. The useful question is NOT "When is the first year that babies were born after World War II?" The useful question is: "When is the first year that babies were born when they were never personally aware of and traumatized by the horrific events of World War II?"

    Generally speaking, you have to be about four years old to be aware of what's going on in the world, and so for generational theory, the earliest birth year for the Boomers is not 1946, but is 1942. Anyone born earlier (the Silent Generation) would likely have been traumatized by World War II, and anyone born later would likely not have even been aware of World War II. That's why I don't use the phrase "born after WW II" to describe the Boomers. Instead, I use the phrase "growing up after WW II."

    The Silent Generation is the one preceding the Boomers. They got that name in an interesting way. They were originally called the "Depression Babies," obviously because they were born just before or during the Great Depression of the 1930s. However, during the 1950s, Time Magazine began calling them the "Silent Generation," and the name stuck.

    The reason that Time called them the Silent Generation is because they never complained about anything. They had grown up during the Depression, they had seen their fathers, brothers and uncles die gruesomely during the war, and by the 1950s they were happy to have families, jobs, and a home with a white picket fence. They did their jobs, and worked patriotically to help rebuild the world after World War II.

    The period after a crisis war like World War II is called a "Recovery Era," since it's everybody's job to help the nation and the world recover from the war.

    The Census Bureau says that the last birth year for Boomers was 1964. Once again, that's useful for demographers, but for Generational Theory, we identify the end of the Recovery Era and the beginning of the "Awakening Era" as the beginning of social activism by Boomers, as they come of age. For us, the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom is the beginning of the Awakening Era, as the first major activist event by the Boomers. As in the case of the Boomers, we subtract four years, and set 1959 as the last birth year for the Boomers and the first birth year for Generation-X.

    The children in Generation-X grew up in a world that seemed like total chaos to them. There was rioting in the streets, males were burning their draft cards, girls were burning their bras, there was streaking, there was the Summer of Love in 1967, the riots at the Democratic convention in 1968, the killing of students at Kent State University, and a vast generation gap over the Vietnam war and race and environment issues.

    Whereas the Boomers were pampered as children in the Baby Boom following WW II, the Gen-Xers were left mostly on their own, and were definitely not pampered. Whereas the Boomers had a stable childhood with families and parents with jobs, the Gen-Xers were surrounded by social unrest and instability. In particular, feminist organizations were telling mothers to dump their husbands, and not let the kids see their fathers, in order to get as much money as possible. So many Gen-Xers grew up with no fathers, with a chaotic personal life, and a great deal of bitterness towards the Boomer generation, whom they blamed for their misfortunes. Without fathers and with no moral compass, they had a high delinquency rate, and are one of the most jailed generation in American history.

    As I've described many times in the last 15 years, Generation-X got their revenge against their fathers by bringing about the financial crisis. In the 1990s. Gen-Xers got degrees in "Financial Engineering," and used their skills in the 2000s to knowingly create trillions of dollars' worth of fraudulent subprime mortgage backed securities, which they could sell to the parents' generation to get revenge. The result was that millions of people when bankrupt and loss their homes.

    The Awakening Era began in 1963 and ended in 1983. That was followed by the "Unraveling Era," where all the rules and institutions that had been implement in the 1950s to prevent another Great Depression and another World War were dismantled. This resulted in the "tech bubble" of the late 1990s and the huge "credit bubble" of the mid 2000s decade.

    The Unraveling Era was a period of opulent wealth in the hands of many people -- mainly because they went deeply into debt, and spent the money on cars, vacations, and other items of conspicuous consumption.

    The Unraveling Era begin in 1983 and ended in 2003, 58 years after the end of World War II. 2003 was the beginning of the new "Crisis Era." The birth years for the next generation, the Millennial Generation, was thus 1979 to 1999. Millennials grew during this period of opulence provided by astronomical debt, many Millennials developed the attitude that money and success could just be given to them.

    The financial crisis brought this period of opulence to an abrupt end. The Pivotal Generation, which grew up during this period, pivoted away from the Millennials and adopted that attitude that it's necessary to work had for money and success.

    Incidentally, the name "Pivotal Generation" is only temporary. Just as the "Depression Babies" became the "Silent Generation," the Pivotal Generation will be given a new name by society at some point in the future, after they've actually accomplished something, rather than just giving press conferences in Washington. US Census Bureau (PDF) and Pew Research

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Mar-18 World View -- The Pivotal Generation (Generation Z) marches for gun control, tilting at windmills thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    24-Mar-18 World View -- Report that Russia is helping the Taliban in Afghanistan contains delusional aspects

    US warship sails near China's illegal artificial island in the South China Sea

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Report that Russia is helping the Taliban in Afghanistan contains delusional aspects


    US Army General and commander of US forces in Afghanistan John Nicholson (AFP)
    US Army General and commander of US forces in Afghanistan John Nicholson (AFP)

    During the 1980s, the Soviet Union became embroiled in its own version of the Vietnam War -- an asymmetric fight against guerrilla forces in Afghanistan that the Soviets couldn't win. Since the Soviets were American enemies in those days, US forces aided the side opposing the Soviets. The people we supported were the ethnic Pashtuns who later became the Taliban, and their allies, a group of Saudi Wahhabi jihadists, including Osama bin Laden, who later became al-Qaeda.

    For two or three years, there have been consistent reports that the Russians have been supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan with money and weapons. The reasons stated for the support are that the Russians don't want the Americans to have a permanent foothold in Afghanistan and, by the way, they want to get revenge for helping their opponents in the 1980s.

    Now General John Nicholson, head of the US forces in Afghanistan, says that the reports are true. According to Nicholson:

    "We’ve had stories written by the Taliban that have appeared in the media about financial support provided by the enemy. We’ve had weapons brought to this headquarters and given to us by Afghan leaders and said, ‘This was given by the Russians to the Taliban’.

    We see a narrative that’s being used that grossly exaggerates the number of Islamic State group fighters here. This narrative then is used as a justification for the Russians to legitimize the actions of Taliban and provide some degree of support to the Taliban."

    Nicholson says that by supplying weapons and money to the Taliban, the Russians are interfering with the attempts to bring peace to Afghanistan through negotiations and peace talks with the Taliban.

    This whole story raises far more questions than it answers. Apparently the weapons at issue are 1980s vintage, so it's possible that they made their way into Taliban hands by another path.

    The background story has several delusional elements. The Russians today are blaming the whole 1980s Afghanistan fiasco on the United States. According to the Russians, they were tricked into entering the 1980s Afghanistan war by president Jimmy Carter's national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski. Brzezinski, who died last year, apparently believed the same thing.

    This is completely delusional on the part of both the Russians and Brzezinski. There's no way that the Soviets committed hundreds of thousands of troops to a ten-year war in Afghanistan on the basis of a trick. However, the delusion has been convenient for both parties. The Russians absolve themselves of the blame for the war by blaming it on the Americans, and Brzezinski can continue to pat himself on the back.

    And it's true that the US supplied some weapons to the Pashtuns, just as the Russians had supplied weapons to the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam war. But supplying some weapons would not have made a difference in the outcome of either war.

    Another part of the delusion is that the Russians and the Taliban could be allied in any meaningful way. Russia is allied with Iran, which is allied with the Shia groups that the Taliban keeps trying to kill. Furthermore, by supplying weapons to jihadists in Afghanistan, those jihadist could travel to Russia and use the weapons there.

    The biggest delusion -- on the part of the American administration -- is that a peace agreement can be reached.

    I've described in detail the reasons why a peace agreement is impossible many times (see "23-Aug-17 World View -- Trump promises victory in Afghanistan by redefining 'victory'"), but the one-sentence summary of the reasoning is this: Young Pashtuns are coming of age, and looking for vengeance against the Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks that they fought in the bloody civil war of 1991-96.

    However, as I've written in the past, the Nato alliance and the US administration appear to have a larger purpose in mind. As war with China and Pakistan approaches, president Trump wants to keep American troops active in Afghanistan, and to continue to maintain several American military bases in Afghanistan, including two air bases in Bagram and Kandahar International Airport. These bases will be valuable in any future war with China. Under these circumstances, having troops in Afghanistan is what matters, whether the Taliban are defeated or not. CBS News and BBC and Russia Today (29-May-2017)

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    US warship sails near China's illegal artificial island in the South China Sea

    The US Navy on Friday conducted a new "freedom of navigation" operation in the South China Sea.

    The warship USS Mustin traveled within 12 nautical miles of China's illegal artificial island and military base near Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, and carried out maneuvering operations.

    According to Nicole Schwegman, a spokesman for the US Pacific Fleet:

    "We conduct routine and regular freedom of navigation operations, as we have done in the past and will continue to do in the future."

    As usual, the Chinese were furious and began emitting nonsense. According to China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying:

    "On March 23, USS Mustin entered the neighboring waters of relevant islands and reefs of China’s Nansha Qundao without the permission of the Chinese government. The Chinese navy has identified and verified the US warship and warned it to leave in accordance with the law. The relevant act of the US side has violated the Chinese law and relevant international law, infringed upon China's sovereignty, undermined peace, security and order of the relevant waters and put in jeopardy the facilities and personnel on the Chinese islands, and thus constitutes a serious political and military provocation.

    China has indisputable sovereignty over Nansha Qundao and its adjacent waters."

    The problem we have with both China and Russia these days is that they lie so often that we have to assume that everything they say is completely worthless.

    This statement claims "indisputable sovereignty." Is Hua Chunying a complete idiot? Or does she think that the rest of us are so stupid that we'll believe any nonsense that comes out of her mouth. The claim of "indisputable sovereignty" is a lie on its face because much of the world disputes it. The South China Sea are international waters, as declared by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, which eviscerated all of China's claims in the South China Sea, in July, 2013. It's China, not the United States, that's violating international law on a continuing basis. Reuters and China's Foreign Ministry

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Mar-18 World View -- Report that Russia is helping the Taliban in Afghanistan contains delusional aspects thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    23-Mar-18 World View -- Turkey's government takes control of last remaining independent news source

    South Africans furious at Australia for condemning white farmer land confiscation

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Turkey's government takes control of last remaining independent news source


    Dogan Holding television stations, Kanal D and CNN Turk (AFP)
    Dogan Holding television stations, Kanal D and CNN Turk (AFP)

    Turkey is joining the ranks of China, Russia, Iran, Cambodia, Egypt, Burundi, Cameroon and others in criminalizing the reporting of news that criticizes the government, and jailing reporters who do so.

    On Thursday, Turkey's government began the acquisition the last major independent media company, Dogan Holding, which owns well known publications including Hurriyet and CNN Turk.

    Aydin Dogan, the 81 year old billionaire who founded Dogan Holding in 1979, announced the sale of all the media assets to Demirören Group, a media group with a close relationship with Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Dogan has had a difficult relationship with with Erdogan's AK Party since the party came to party in 2002. The holding face a record $2.5 billion in tax fines in 2009, which Dogan claimed were politically motivated. The fines forced Dogan to sell some assets to Demirören in 2011.

    Ever since Turkey faced a botched coup attempt in June 2016, Erdogan has used the coup attempt to become increasingly dictatorial and authoritarian at every opportunity. Dozens of journalists have been jailed on phony charges since the coup attempt, but Erdogan started his purge well before the coup attempt, as shown by the actions against Dogan since 2003.

    In particular, four months before the coup, Turkey and the world were shocked when Erdogan shut down Zaman, the country's major opposition newspaper, the largest newspaper in the country, and jailed some of its reporters.

    There's almost no independent press remaining in Turkey. Cumhuriyet, a mainstream opposition newspaper much smaller than Dogan, has had a dozen of its employees imprisoned on phony charges, although many have been released after a year in prison for lack of evidence. France 24 and Bloomberg and Guardian (London) and Hurriyet (Ankara)

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    South Africans furious at Australia for condemning white farmer land confiscation

    Officials in South Africa's government are expressing fury at the so-called "racist" statements by Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton. South Africa recently announced a policy where the government will confiscate land from white-owned farms with no compensation whatsoever and turn it over to black farmers. Dutton was reacting to that policy, as well as to threats of violence targeting white farmers.

    Dutton has announced that Australia should speed up the visas for white farmers who, he claimed, are being "persecuted" by the confiscation policy. "These people deserve special attention," Sutton said. "From what I've seen they do need help from a civilized country like ours."

    Supporters of Dutton's policy are calling the land confiscation policy "reverse racism." According to one, "The situation has become so bleak, [that] being a farmer in South Africa is now the world's most dangerous job."

    South Africa's International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu demanded that Dutton withdraw his comments: "The impression created is that white farmers in South Africa are living under horrific conditions and there is a possibility of death. And all these barbaric things are being put across about us."

    Gareth Newham, an analyst with the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies, said young black men faced a greater risk of being murdered in South Africa than white farmers:

    "In fact, young black males living in poor urban areas like Khayelitsha and Lange face a far greater risk of being murdered. The murder rate there is between 200 and 300 murders per 100,000 people."

    As I've described many times, a policy similar to the proposed land confiscation policy was adopted in 1999 by Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe had been an extremely wealthy country, the breadbasket of southern Africa, exporting a great deal of food to other countries. Mugabe threw the white farmers off the farms, and gave the farms to blacks who were his political cronies, but didn't know how to farm. Thanks to Mugabe, Zimbabwe turned from one of the wealthiest countries to one of the poorest countries in the world, with mass starvation, a worthless currency, and a massive million percent inflation rate. EyeWitnessNews (South Africa) and South African Government and In Depth News

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Mar-18 World View -- Turkey's government takes control of last remaining independent news source thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    22-Mar-18 World View -- How China would lose a war with the United States

    ISIS-linked terrorists in Afghanistan kill 32 in bombing of Shia Shrine in Kabul

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Massive earth fissure suddenly opens up in mid-Kenya, signaling an eventual split in all of Africa


    A portion of the fissure where a gap was opened in a highway (Mwakilishi)
    A portion of the fissure where a gap was opened in a highway (Mwakilishi)

    A massive crack in the earth suddenly opened up two weeks ago, apparently triggered by large rainstorms that caused dangerous flooding. The fissure is already several miles long and is growing.

    The fissure opened up a gap in major road, but engineers from the China Communications Construction Company immediately began major repairs of the road, building a bridge across the fissure.

    There have been no reports of casualties, but one family reported that their house split in two while they were eating dinner, forcing them to flee.

    Geologists say that Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania and half of Ethiopia could separate from the African continent to form a new continent dubbed the Somali Plate in the next 50 million years. Kenya Broadcasting and The Nation (Kenya) and Mwakilishi (Kenya)

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    How China would lose a war with the United States

    For over ten years I've been writing, based on a Generational Dynamics analysis, that the China and the United States would be opposed to each other in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war.

    As I've indicated many times in the past, China is expected to repeat the situation in World War II, when it faced an external enemy (Japan) and also had a major internal rebellion, Mao Zedong's Communist Revolution.

    Although in the grand scheme of things, there's never a guarantee that the US will survive such a war, in the past few years it's seemed increasingly likely that the US will not only survive, but will actually win this war. This is because China's belligerent actions have turned much of the world against China, and China would be facing multiple enemies besides the US.

    An analysis by the Indian think tank SAAG has outlined China's strategic vulnerabilities:

    I would add one more item to this list: I've been comparing the path that China is following to the path that Nazi Germany followed -- Xi Jinping's "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics" is the same as Hitler's "National Socialism," Xi's blaming Britain and the Opium Wars for humiliating China is the same as Hitler's blaming the Jews and World War I for humiliating Germany. Xi and Hitler both became total dictators after winning elections.

    Another big similarity is that the Chinese believe that they're superior not only to Americans but to any other group on earth, and that they can defeat any of them quickly in a war. China isn't using the phrase "Master Race" that Hitler used, but reading news stories from China conveys the same feeling. So the item that I would add to the list is vast overconfidence.

    Friedrich Nietzsche said, "Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule." In 1860, America's southern states started the Civil War, even though they had no chance against the North, which was three times the size. In 1941, Japan started the Pacific war, even though they had no chance against the US, which was five times the size. Overconfidence leads absolute dictators to make catastrophically bad decisions.

    Assuming that the analysis is correct that China would be likely to lose such a war, that doesn't mean that the war won't occur, or that the war won't be disastrous for the entire world, as well as China, or that billions of people won't die from nuclear weapons, conventional weapons, ground war, famine and disease. China's actions are going to lead to a world war, and historians will look back on the Chinese as being worse than the Nazis. South Asia Analysis Group (SAAG - India)

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    ISIS-linked terrorists in Afghanistan kill 32 in bombing of Shia Shrine in Kabul

    A suicide bomber killed at least 32 people on Wednesday by exploding near a historic Shia shrine in Kabul, where worshippers had gathered to mark Ashura, the holiest day in the Shia calendar. The so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) claimed credit.

    The target was Shia ethnic Hazaras, which have been the target of almost a dozen terror attacks in the last two years. The Taliban, who are mostly ethnic Sunni Pashtuns, fought against Hazaras in the extremely bloody Afghan civil war of the early 1990s, climaxing in 1996. Many of these attacks are revenge attacks from that war.

    ISIS claimed credit for the attack on the web site of its Amaq public relations agency. With the defeat of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, tens of thousands of ISIS fighters have been returning to their home countries. The perpetrators of Wednesday's attack may have been an existing Taliban group that pledged allegiance to ISIS, or they may have been veteran terrorists returning from ISIS.

    As I've written many times, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, there is absolutely no possibility whatsoever that the Afghan will be resolved peacefully. The younger generations that grew up after the Afghan civil war are now coming of age, and are anxious to exact revenge for atrocities that occurred during the war. As more of these youngsters grow older, the violence will only increase and occur more frequently. Tolo News (Afghanistan) and Washington Post

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Mar-18 World View -- How China would lose a war with the United States thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    21-Mar-18 World View -- Xi Jinping invokes the 1840s Opium Wars to justify military action for China's 'rejuvenation'

    Xi Jinping stokes China's nationalism with harsh threats to Taiwan and Hong Kong

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Xi Jinping invokes the 1840s Opium Wars to justify military action for China's 'rejuvenation'


    Framed portraits of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping hang above a TV screen showing President Xi Jinping. (Reuters)
    Framed portraits of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping hang above a TV screen showing President Xi Jinping. (Reuters)

    Analysts are saying that China has entered a new era with the recent meeting of the National People's Congress (NPC), with president Xi Jinping becoming a dictator and the most powerful leader in China's history, possibly even more powerful than Mao Zedong.

    The most significant visible change is that the constitutional limit to two terms as president has been removed, essentially making Xi Jinping a dictator for life. Furthermore, the constitution was changed to incorporate "Xi's thoughts." Less visible, but related, is that Xi has been able to purge the government of most of his opposition, by accusing them of corruption. Xi is now in charge of all organs and branches of government, and cannot be challenged. Many people are excited by this development, because they say that Xi has done so much to make China more powerful, and now can continue to do so.

    However, many other people are pointing out. Absolute dictators are not infallible gods. Hitler was an absolute dictator, but the Holocaust was a disaster for Germany as well as the world. Mao Zedong was an absolute dictator, but Mao's Great Leap Forward resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of peasants from starvation and executions, which was a disaster for China. The problem is that absolute dictators are no different than you and me in the ability to make bad decisions, but when you and I make a bad decision then someone stops us, but no one stops an absolute dictator. Just as Mao could launch the disastrous Great Leap Forward without being questioned, Xi could launch a disastrous war without being questioned.

    A good example of how delusional Xi is can be shown from this claim in his final speech to the NPC:

    "China is a socialist state under the people's democratic dictatorship led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants, noting that all power in the country belongs to the people."

    This doesn't even make sense. China is a "dictatorship," but there is nothing "democratic" about it. All of China's elections are predetermined, and peasants and workers are permitted to vote only for the chosen candidate.

    Xi talks about the "rejuvenation" of China through "Socialism with Chinese characteristics." He calls this a "New Long March," alluding the Mao Zedong's Long March that began in 1934 and marked the beginning of the extremely bloody 16-year Chinese civil war. According to Xi:

    "China has continuously striven for its dream of realizing great national rejuvenation for over 170 years.

    History has proved and will continue to prove that only socialism can save China. Only by sticking to and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics can we achieve the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. ...

    Turning the grand blueprint for China into reality is new Long March. We need to uphold the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics. China's goal is to build a socialist, modern country by the middle of the 21st century."

    The reference to "170 years" is very interesting, because it reveals the core resentment and bitterness towards the West that guide Xi's thinking. Xi and many Chinese blame China's poverty and backwardness on the Opium Wars with Britain in the 1840s, 170 years ago. According to this view, China would already be a great nation, if it hadn't been forced into submission by Britain at that time.

    Once again, this is totally delusional on the part of Xi and other Chinese. Since the 1840s, China has had two extremely destructive generational crisis wars -- the Taiping Rebellion and Mao's Communist Revolution -- both of them civil wars, both of them enormously destructive to China, and neither of them the fault of Britain or anybody but the Chinese themselves. But the delusion of blaming everything on a war that occurred 170 years ago is extremely dangerous, because it can be used to justify such things as annexing other countries' regions in the South China Sea.

    Xi added the following:

    "Since ancient times, the realization of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation has become the greatest dream of the Chinese nation. The Chinese people are indomitable, and will persevere. They have the courage for bloody fights against their enemies, and they are determined to restore their former glory. Today the Chinese people are more confident and more capable, and closer than ever before of realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation."

    This is extremely ominous, since Xi is justifying in advance any pre-emptive military attacks that he may decide to make. And being an absolute dictator means that the decision will be entirely his. South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and China Daily and South China Morning Post and BBC and National Interest

    Xi Jinping stokes China's nationalism with harsh threats to Taiwan and Hong Kong

    According to a new "ethnic identity poll" by Hong Kong University, 68% of the respondents identified themselves as "Hongkongers," while only 31% identified themselves as "Chinese," down 7 points from just six months ago. Among young people aged 18-29, only 0.3% consider themselves "Chinese."

    In the past, we've described polls that show that support in Taiwan for independence from China is growing each year, as younger generations grow older.

    Xi Jinping addressed this problem in his speech:

    "We will continue to implement 'One Country, Two Systems' principle, Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong, Macao people governing Macao, and high degree of autonomy in the special administrative regions.

    We should continue to stick to one-China principle, 1992 Consensus and advance the peaceful development of the cross-Straits relations and expand the economic and cultural exchanges between the two sides.

    Safeguarding sovereignty and territorial integrity, completely uniting China are Chinese people's common goal and the country's fundamental interests.

    Every inch of the Chinese territory absolutely cannot be separated from China.

    All acts and tricks to separate the country are doomed to fail and will be condemned by the people and punished by history."

    Of course, these remarks are directed at the United States, especially after president Donald Trump signed the Taiwan Travel Act last week, which allows high-level visits between American and Taiwanese government officials.

    But Xi's remarks are really directed at Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao. Their purpose is to stoke nationalism in the Chinese people in order to prepare them for preemptive military action.

    In 2005, China passed the Anti-Secession Law, which orders the army to invade Taiwan if any Taiwanese official makes any move toward independence, whether by word or by deed. Since then, Taiwan has made many moves toward independence, and Xi is signaling that he's losing patience. He's aware that time is not on his side, as younger generations in Taiwan are increasingly pro-independence.

    As I described last year in "24-Oct-17 World View -- Xi Jinping's 'Socialism with Chinese characteristics' is identical to Hitler's National Socialism", Xi is following the same path to total war that the Nazis followed, with the same inevitable disastrous results.

    Xi's claim of China's humiliation in the Opium Wars to justify any Chinese action is similar to Hitler's claim of Germany's humiliation in World War I to justify any Nazi action.

    Xi's use of the Opium Wars to blame Britain for all of China's troubles is the same as Hitler's blaming the Jews in World War I for all of Nazi Germany's troubles.

    China has been preparing for war with the U.S. in every possible way. They've built large, illegal military bases in the South China Sea, and repeatedly lied about them. They've developed numerous nuclear-tipped ballistic and hypersonic missile systems designed to successfully strike and destroy American aircraft carriers, American cities, and American bases. They've demonstrated a capability to destroy American communications and GPS satellites. They have thousands of missiles ready to launch against Taiwan, and they have large military deployments in western Tibet ready to invade India.

    Xi's speech advances China's war preparations by providing justifications for future military action, and by stoking nationalism to prepare the Chinese people for war. This war could begin next week, next month, next year, or whenever China wants. As China's dictator, Xi Jinping will decide when this war will begin, and when he decides, there will be no one to stop him. Hong Kong Economic Journal (28-Dec) and Hong Kong University (27-Dec) and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and BBC and South China Morning Post

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Mar-18 World View -- Xi Jinping invokes the 1840s Opium Wars to justify military action for China's 'rejuvenation' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    20-Mar-18 World View -- Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board overwhelmed by migrants crossing border from US

    Turkey achieves victory in Afrin, Syria, but Kurds threaten guerilla war

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board overwhelmed by migrants crossing border from US


    August 2017: Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre greets a busload of Haitian asylum seekers from the United States as it arrives (AFP)
    August 2017: Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre greets a busload of Haitian asylum seekers from the United States as it arrives (AFP)

    Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) has become so overwhelmed by refugees making asylum claims that it's giving up on following regulations dictating requiring refugee hearings to be held within a certain time. Regulations drawn up in 2012 required the IRB to hold hearings with 30-60 days, depending on the country of origin.

    But the system began breaking down in January 2017, when US president Donald Trump began cracking down on illegal immigration, and also announced that legal immigrants having a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) would have that status expire. In addition, the status of the "dreamers," those who were brought to the country as children years ago by their parents, was in doubt.

    The US crackdown has created a growing backlog in Canada, as refugees in American have been crossing the border into Canada and applying for asylum. Many refugees and illegal immigrants living in the United States were encouraged to cross the border into Canada when Canada's prime minister Justin Trudeau tweeted a welcome and invitation to the refugees on January 28, 2017, shortly after Trump announced his travel ban:

    "To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada"

    Since January 2017, the backlog has been growing at a rate of about 2,100 cases per month. the largest increase so far occurred in September 2017, with a backlog increase of 6,200 cases.

    More than 20,000 people, including thousands from Haiti and Nigeria, and hundreds from Turkey, Syria and Eritrea, have crossed the border into Canada illegally over the past year in search of asylum, many fleeing in fear that Trump would deport them to their home countries.

    Canada's IRB has given up trying to follow the 2012 regulations, and is simply hearing claims in the order in which they are received. The board will make exceptions for priority claims, such as unaccompanied minors or other vulnerable persons. The backlog has now reached about 43,000 cases with the IRB saying the waiting time for a hearing is almost 2 years.

    As the weather becomes warmer, it's expected that there will be a large new wave of migrants entering Canada. The Canadian government has dispatched lawmakers to diaspora communities in the United States to persuade people not to come. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government has discussed the situation with the Trump administration, but it has been careful not to publicly blame the U.S. president's policies for triggering the migration wave.

    According to figures published by the Immigration Board, the most asylum requests in 2017 were from migrants from Haiti, with over 8,000 requests, and from Nigeria, with over 5,500 requests. Other countries of origin where the numbers of requests exceeded 1,000 include: China, Colombia, India, Mexico, Pakistan, Syria, Turkey, and Venezuela. Reuters and Radio Canada International (21-Feb) and Montreal Gazette (26-Nov-2017) and National Post (20-Feb) and Immigration Refugee Board

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    Turkey achieves victory in Afrin, Syria, but Kurds threaten guerilla war

    Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed victory in Afrin, Syria, on Monday, after seizing the center of Afrin city. The objective of Operation Olive Branch, launched on January 20, was to seize control of Afrin from the Kurdish militias, People's Protection Units (YPG), who Erdogan says are branches of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). The YPG withdrew on Sunday, rather than risk fighting a conventional war with Turkish-backed forces, including the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

    However, the YPG claim that the fight for Afrin is far from over. The Kurdish militias are threatening a guerilla insurgency, with hit-and-run attacks on Turkey's troops in Afrin. Such an insurgency could prompt Turkey to respond with harsh attacks on the civilians in Afrin.

    As things stand, about 200,000 residents of Afrin fled the city in recent days, as Turkey's offensive escalated. Theoretically, they will be allowed to return to their homes now, but there have been reports of looting by Turkish troops. Furthermore, the residents fear that Turkey will move some of the millions of Syrian refugees who have been living in Turkey for years back into Afrin, so that the Kurds will not have a home to come back to.

    Erdogan seems emboldened by the capture of Afrin, and is threatening to move eastward and attack the YPG in other cities, including Kobani and Manbij. However, the YPG forces in Manbij are backed by US forces, and if Erdogan carries through on his threat, then Turkish forces will be fighting American forces. France 24 and Rudaw (Kurdistan)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Mar-18 World View -- Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board overwhelmed by migrants crossing border from US thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    19-Mar-18 World View -- Burundi's Hutu 'eternal supreme guide' Nkurunziza to remain in power eternally

    Finland is the happiest country in the world, Burundi the unhappiest

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Burundi's Hutu 'eternal supreme guide' Nkurunziza to remain in power eternally


    Burundi's Hutu president Pierre Nkurunziza has declared himself the 'eternal supreme guide' (AFP)
    Burundi's Hutu president Pierre Nkurunziza has declared himself the 'eternal supreme guide' (AFP)

    I keep telling the same story in country after country, particularly African countries, but other countries as well. A leader stays in office for years and decades, and takes steps to stay in office for additional years and decades, and backs the step up by slaughtering, torturing, raping and jailing even peaceful protesters in the opposition.

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

    There's little doubt that Nkurunziza will win approval on the referendum vote, because he will use violence and jailings of the opposition, and probably vote-rigging as well.

    Nkurunziza should have stepped down as leader in 2015, since the constitution limits any leader to two terms. When Nkurunziza announced that he would run for a third term, his police force used bullets, tear gas and water cannons to control the protests.

    Most people are familiar with the Rwanda genocide of 1994, the massive genocide where ethnic Hutus killed close to a million ethnic Tutsis. As I described in 2015 in the "Generational history of Hutu and Tutsi tribes", that war also extended to the same tribes in neighboring Burundi and Uganda. When the war ended, the Tutsis took power in Rwanda and Uganda, and the Hutus took power in Burundi.

    In all three countries, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda, the respective leaders have ignored their constitutions and used violence to stay in power. Africa News and Reuters

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    Reports of Trump-Kim meeting in Finland unconfirmed so far

    There have been numerous speculative reports in the media in the last two days that the much-discussed meeting between president Donald Trump and North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un will take place in Helsinki, Finland.

    This speculation is occurring because a meeting has been scheduled this week in Helsinki for three teams of diplomats, respectively from the three countries North Korea, South Korea and the United States.

    Apparently, this meeting was set up during a visit by North Korea's foreign minister Ri Yong Ho to Sweden last week. That visit resulted in speculation that the Trump-Kim meeting would occur in Sweden, but now the speculation has moved to Finland. However, many analysts believe that Kim Jong-un will not be willing to travel that far, and that the meeting, if it occurs, will actually occur just south of the DMZ in South Korea.

    Some interesting news came out of a CBS News interview with South Korea's foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha, recorded on Saturday and broadcast on Sunday.

    As we have suggested a couple of times in the past, Kim Jong-un's silence about the possible meeting has been caused by being surprised at Trump's quick acceptance of the invitation. Kang was asked whether she has heard anything from North Korea about the meeting:

    "Well, nothing publicly. But there is a channel of communication now established. So I'm sure there are back and forth messages. But, I think the North Korean leader would also need some time given the readiness with which President Trump has accepted the invitation to talks. I think we were all quite surprised by-- by the-- the readiness of that decision. I think it was an extremely courageous decision on the part of President Trump. We believe the North Korean leader is now taking stock. We give them the benefit of the doubt, and the time that he would need to come out with some public messaging."

    I interpret this response to mean that she doesn't have a clue whether Kim plans to go through with the meeting with Trump.

    Another issue has to do with preconditions for the meeting. When Trump first accepted, there were no preconditions. However, the next day, Trump's spokeswoman said that some preconditions would have to be met, namely some "concrete and verifiable actions" in the direction of denuclearization.

    So Kang was asked "What conditions do the North Koreans have to meet before this conversation happens?", and she responded:

    "Well, in effect they already have. We have asked the North to indicate in clear terms the commitment to denuclearization, and he has in fact conveyed that commitment. ...

    He's given his word. But the significance of his word is-- is quite -- quite weighty in the sense that this is the first time that the words came directly from the North Korean supreme leader himself, and that has never been done before."

    So let me get this straight. Kim Jong-un has not confirmed that there will be a meeting, but he has "given his word" that he will meet the preconditions of his "commitment to denuclearization." And, of course, giving his word is quite different from "concrete and verifiable actions."

    Obviously this is all fatuous political nonsense, mixed in with a lot of desperate wishful thinking on the part of the South Koreans.

    Perhaps the coming three-way meeting in Helsinki will change things, but right now the most likely scenario is that Kim is simply using the meeting invitation as a ploy to gain time to complete his development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles that can carry the nuclear weapons to Los Angeles and other US targets. Yonhap News (Seoul) and Reuters and CBS News

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    Finland is the happiest country in the world, Burundi the unhappiest

    A new United Nations report called the "World Happiness Report" ties together the above two stories. It finds that, out of 156 countries, the happiest country in the world is Finland, while the unhappiest country in the world is Burundi.

    The top ten happiest countries are: Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, and Australia.

    The ten unhappiest countries are: Malawi, Haiti, Liberia, Syria, Rwanda, Yemen, Tanzania, South Sudan, Central African Republic, and Burundi. AFP and World Happiness Report

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Mar-18 World View -- Burundi's Hutu 'eternal supreme guide' Nkurunziza to remain in power eternally thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    18-Mar-18 World View -- Human rights protests of Cambodia and Myanmar (Burma) overshadow Australia ASEAN summit meeting

    Cambodia's Hun Sen threatens violence at protesters at ASEAN meeting

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Malaysia's Najib Razak condemns Myanmar's (Burma's) genocide of Rohingyas at ASEAN summit


    Demonstrators protesting Myanmar (Burma) genocide of Rohingyas at ASEAN summit on Saturday (AP)
    Demonstrators protesting Myanmar (Burma) genocide of Rohingyas at ASEAN summit on Saturday (AP)

    It used to be a rule of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that member states are forbidden from interfering in each other's internal affairs, which means that no member nation is permitted to criticize the internal policies of another member nation. That rule was in place to prevent the group from fracturing, and from discussing happy subjects like trade.

    But the extreme genocidal violence and ethnic cleansing of ethnic Rohingyas by the government of Myanmar (Burma) has caused Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak to denounce Burma's leader Aung San Suu Kyi personally, in a speech at the ASEAN summit, while she was sitting on the stage nearby. Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize years ago, back before she turned into a modern day Hitler.

    Razak justified his open criticism of Suu Kyi by saying that the situation was a threat to the entire region's security. In particular, he said that it was encouraging jihadists groups in the region, such as those in the southern Philippine city of Marawi last year, of becoming affiliated with the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). According to Razak:

    "Because of the suffering of Rohingya people and that of displacement around the region, the situation in Rakhine state and Myanmar can no longer be considered to be a purely domestic matter.

    In addition, the problem should not be looked at through the humanitarian prism only because it has the potential of developing into a serious security threat to the region.

    Rakhine with thousands of despairing... people who see no hope in the future will be a fertile ground for radicalization and recruitment by (ISIS) and affiliated groups.

    We must be vigilant and increase our collaboration, because the collapse of (ISIS) territories in Iraq and Syria has forced it to go underground and re-emerge elsewhere, especially in crisis zones where it can grow and operate.

    We must draw lessons from Marawi and be extremely concerned that at least 10 militant groups in the Mindanao region (of the Philippines) have declared their affiliation to (ISIS)."

    ASEAN has ten members: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Australia is not a member, but is hosting the ASEAN summit meeting.

    Razak has criticized Suu Kyi in speeches in Malaysia. In 2016 he said to thousands of Malaysians at a rally in Kuala Lumpur:

    "The world cannot sit by and watch genocide taking place. The world cannot just say 'look, it is not our problem'. It is our problem."

    Razak is under pressure from the hardline Malaysian Islamist group Hizbut Tahrir, who have in the past demanded that Malaysia's army conduct a jihad against Burma. AFP and Australian Broadcasting

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    Cambodia's Hun Sen threatens violence at protesters at ASEAN meeting

    The ASEAN summit meeting in Sydney, Australian, was met with large groups protesting human rights violations by Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi and Cambodia's Hun Sen.

    Before Saturday, it was not even certain that Cambodia's prime minister Hun Sen would show up, since he was apparently furious at learning that there would be large protests of Cambodian-Australians in Sydney. On February 21, he warned protesters not to burn effigies of him, saying:

    "I will follow you all the way to your doorstep and beat you right there ... I can use violence against you."

    This threat triggered a mass burning by protesters of effigies bearing Hun Sen's face. Two weeks later, Hun Sen described the protesters as "crazy and stupid," and said that they had "fallen into his trap": "In fact, speaking truly and clarifying for you, you are being tricked by Hun Sen. Do not play with Hun Sen, you are still very weak."

    Hun Sen has been in power for 33 years, since 1985, following the massive Buddhist "Killing Fields" genocide in Cambodia in 1975-79. Led by Pol Pot, this was one of the top mass genocides of the 20th century. The genocide killed something like 1.7 to well over 2 million people, out of a population of 8 million. So around 20% of Cambodia's population were killed, making it possibly the worst genocide, on a percentage basis, of the 20th century.

    Hun Sen has remained in power since then, but started becoming a lot more authoritarian after the opposition political party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) almost won the 2013 election, and has become increasingly popular since then.

    Fearing that he might be defeated in the 2018 elections, Hun Sen has been targeting CNRP leaders, arresting dozens of them on phony charges. The Hun Sen-controlled Supreme Court last year declared the CNRP to be an illegal political party. In addition, Hun Sen has been brutally suppressing protests, banning all protests and jailing protesters. He's shut print and radio media sources, and jailed reporters.

    One of the lead protesters in Sydney was Bou Rachana, the wife of murdered Cambodian politician Kem Ley, who was killed in Hun Sen's crackdown.

    Cambodia's parliament has recently amended the constitution to tighten restrictions on voting rights and freedom of association, and a provision that insulting Hun Sen can result in being jailed for five - years.

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

    This weekend's ASEAN summit is on economics and counter-terrorism, but the protests are causing those issues to be overshadowed by human rights. According Human Rights Watch:

    "Shutting one’s eyes and hoping that closer trade and security ties will somehow magically transform abusive governments into rights-respecting ones doesn’t work.

    The ASEAN summit shouldn’t just be an opportunity to dance with dictators, but a chance to publicly press them over horrific human rights abuses."

    ASEAN is already divided between countries like Vietnam and Indonesia that oppose China's illegal creation of a massive military fortress in the South China Sea, versus countries like Cambodia and Laos that support China. Myanmar's ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas, and Cambodia's authoritarian slaughter, rape and torture of political opponents are issues that are further splitting ASEAN, leading some to wonder whether it even makes sense for ASEAN to continue to exist. Quartz (15-Mar) and Phnom Penh Post (5-Mar) and Deutsche Welle (27-Nov-2017) and Australian Broadcasting

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Mar-18 World View -- Human rights protests of Cambodia and Myanmar (Burma) overshadow Australia ASEAN summit meeting thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    17-Mar-18 World View -- Ireland border issue continues to confound Brexit negotiations

    Despite warnings from China, Trump signs the Taiwan Travel Act

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Ireland border issue continues to confound Brexit negotiations


    Ireland's prime minister Leo Varadkar (L) visits US-Canada border to see if the same thing would work for the Ireland - Northern Ireland border.  He tweeted, 'Just visited the Canada-US border. It's high tech and highly efficient, but make no mistake - it's a hard border.'
    Ireland's prime minister Leo Varadkar (L) visits US-Canada border to see if the same thing would work for the Ireland - Northern Ireland border. He tweeted, 'Just visited the Canada-US border. It's high tech and highly efficient, but make no mistake - it's a hard border.'

    The British Parliament's Northern Ireland Affairs Committee issued a report on Friday that came about as close to saying "the Brexit Ireland border problem has no solution" as possible, while following the unwritten political rules of never saying anything so definitive.

    The Brexit Ireland border problem is the problem of the border between Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland (Southern Ireland), which will remain in the EU after Brexit. If the UK is not part of the EU, then there would have be border controls between Ireland and Northern Ireland, a concept that almost everyone rejects, because any border controls are feared likely to result in a renewal of "The Troubles," the decades of violence between the indigenous ethnic Irish Gaelics (Catholic, Republican) and the descendants of the English and Scottish invaders (Protestant, Unionist).

    The border across Ireland first appeared in 1921 as a result of the British-Irish treaty that partitioned the island and ended the Irish War of Independence. It ran across farms and villages and, following the outbreak of hostilities in the North in 1969, was reinforced with British Army watchtowers and bomb-proof and mortar-proof inspection facilities.

    All of that infrastructure was removed as a result of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that saw the Provisional IRA disarm in exchange for a new power-sharing accord that was supposed to break down some of the barriers between south and north, including the physical barrier at the border.

    So everyone says they want no return to the physical barriers. Instead, they want to maintain a "frictionless border" between Ireland and Northern Ireland, meaning that cars and trucks can continue to freely cross the border in either direction, just as they can today.

    But that would mean that a Spanish company that wants to ship goods to England without paying British tariffs could simply trans-ship them through Northern Ireland -- that is, ship them to Ireland, send them across the "frictionless border" to Northern Ireland, and then ship them across the Irish Sea to England. Similarly, an English firm could ship goods to Spain by trans-shipping in the opposite direction, and avoid paying EU tariffs.

    The main conclusions of Friday's report from the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee are as follows:

    At one point, Theresa May said, "There are many examples of different arrangements for customs around the rest of the world, and indeed we are looking at those, including, for example, the border between the United States and Canada." However, an opponent pointed out that "There are guns and armed customs guards" on the US-Canada border.

    In fact, Leo Varadkar, the Taoiseach (prime minister) of Ireland, did pay a visit to the US-Canada border, and tweeted:

    "Just visited the Canada-US border. It's high tech and highly efficient, but make no mistake - it's a hard border."

    The logic of the situation is as follows:

    Theresa May has also put forth a suggestion that a "high tech" way will be found to keep the Irish border frictionless. I've never seen an explanation about how that's supposed to work -- supposedly some kind of magic device at the border would scan each car and truck crossing the border and figure out whether it contains anything that needs to be taxed.

    Friday's report rejected the high-tech solution:

    "The UK government has repeatedly underlined that the free movement of people across the border will not be affected and that no physical infrastructure will be put in place. However, the committee was unable to identify any border solution currently in operation across the globe that would enable physical infrastructure to be avoided when rules and tariffs diverge."

    EU diplomats last week warned May last week that the high-tech solution is unrealistic, and that she must back down.

    The UK and the EU will begin three days of the next round of the delusional Brexit negotiations on Saturday. It's not expected that a solution to the Ireland border problem will be found. BBC and UK Parliament and Canadian Broadcasting (22-Aug-2017) and Guardian (London)

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    Despite warnings from China, Trump signs the Taiwan Travel Act

    President Donald Trump on Friday evening ET signed the Taiwan Travel Act, which had passed both houses of Congress unanimously, and was sent to the President on February 28. A veto would likely have been overridden by Congress and, according to the Constitution, the Act would have become law automatically on Saturday if Trump had done nothing. Trump decided to sign it, apparently as a signal to China that he was specifically ignoring their warnings.

    The Chinese embassy issued a statement:

    "[The Act] severely violates the one-China principle, the political foundation of the China-U.S. relationship.

    China is strongly dissatisfied with that and firmly opposes it. [The United States should] stop pursuing any official ties with Taiwan or improving its current relations with Taiwan in any substantive way."

    China has threatened Taiwan with a military invasion if it makes any move, by word or deed, towards independence. Arguably, it has already done that many times.

    The United States has not had official diplomatic relations with Taiwan since 1979, choosing instead to have diplomatic relations with China. China refuses to have formal relations with any country that has relations with Taiwan.

    The Taiwan Travel Act makes it legal for officials from the executive branch of the US government to visit Taiwan, or to invite Taiwan's leaders to visit Washington for official diplomatic meetings, if they choose to do so.

    An official statement from Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) expressed the government's sincerest thanks for the goodwill and friendship that the United States has shown to Taiwan over the years. Taiwan News and Reuters and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Mar-18 World View -- Ireland border issue continues to confound Brexit negotiations thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    16-Mar-18 World View -- Concerns grow of humanitarian disaster in Afrin, Syria, as Turkey's forces enter

    Silence from North Korea puts Kim-Trump summit in doubt

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Concerns grow of humanitarian disaster in Afrin, Syria, as Turkey's forces enter


    Syrians flee from airstrikes and shelling of village near Afrin (Reuters)
    Syrians flee from airstrikes and shelling of village near Afrin (Reuters)

    Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday, "We have got a little closer to Afrin. I hope that Afrin will, God willing, have completely fallen by the evening."

    Erdogan was alluding to Operation Olive Branch, the military operation that began on January 20 with the objective of taking control of the northeastern Syria city of Afrin from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG). Originally, Erdogan promised that the operation would be completed by the end of January.

    The YPG is linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been conducting a violent insurgency in Turkey for three decades, and has performed multiple major terrorist attacks in major Turkish cities in the last three years. The PKK is considered a terrorist group by the US and the EU.

    The operation wasn't completed by Wednesday evening as Erdogan hoped, but on Thursday Turkey's presidential spokesman said:

    "Over 70 percent of Syria’s Afrin region has been secured during Operation Olive Branch.

    The circle has been completely tightened around the terrorists. We predict that the center of Afrin will be completely cleared of terrorists within a short period of time. They wanted to make Afrin a new Qandil. This [desire] has been eliminated through Operation Olive Branch."

    The phrase "new Qandil" refers to the Qandil mountains in Iraq where the PKK has its headquarters.

    In order to complete the mission, Turkish forces have been bombarding the city with airstrikes and artillery shelling, to the extent that many people are beginning to compare the Turkish assault on Afrin to the ferocity of the attack on Eastern Ghouta by the army of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, backed up by Russian warplanes. However, al-Assad has been regularly dropping barrel bombs packed with explosives and metal and laced with chlorine gas onto civilian neighborhoods and markets in order to kill as many women and children as possible. Erdogan so far has not been taking similar steps in Afrin.

    Still, the bombs and artillery have taken their toll, to the point where there is a fear of a full-scale humanitarian crisis. There are 350,000 people living in central Afrin, and in just the last 24 hours, some 30,000 civilians were forced to flee from their homes, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The water supply has been cut off, and a siege has prevented food and medicines from entering the city, except for just one UN humanitarian aid convoy in early March.

    YPG leaders claim that the Turkish forces are nowhere close to winning in Afrin, and it remains to be seen whether the Turkish forces will become more and more like the Syrian army forces in Eastern Ghouta. Middle East Eye and Yeni Safak (Ankara) and Al Arabiya and Asharq Al Awsat (London) and Middle East Eye

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    Silence from North Korea puts Kim-Trump summit in doubt

    There has been total silence from North Korean on the planned summit meeting between Donald Trump and North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un. There have been no articles or commentary in the North Korean press. There is no word that North Korea is making any preparations for a summit, even though the initial invitation from Kim, sent through the South Koreans, was that Kim "wanted to meet urgently" with Trump.

    There has been no sign that the North Koreans want to go ahead with the summit, whether urgently or not. When I first wrote about the planned summit, one of the things I speculated about was that Kim had extended the invitation expecting it to be rejected, or at least expecting any acceptance to be burdened down with a bundle of preconditions that would never be met. That meant that the invitation was not real, but was a negotiating ploy intended to humiliate Trump. But then Kim must have been surprised when Trump accepted the invitation immediately, without preconditions, although some preconditions were added later.

    The first possible sign that some preparation is being made occurred on Thursday, when North Korea's foreign minister Ri Yong Ho paid a surprise visit to Sweden. However, the purpose of the meeting has not been announced, except to discuss the security situation on the Korean peninsula.

    Meanwhile, North Korea is continuing to stall, in order to give itself breathing space to complete development of its nuclear weapon and long-range ballistic missile program. There's no doubt that development work continued during the Olympics games, and that it's continuing to this day.

    Instead of meeting "very urgently," perhaps Kim just wants to stall further, and delay the meeting as long as possible, until his weapons program is a fait accompli. LA Times and CNN

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Mar-18 World View -- Concerns grow of humanitarian disaster in Afrin, Syria, as Turkey's forces enter thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    15-Mar-18 World View -- Thousands of Ethiopian Oromos flee into Kenya, threatening regional stability

    Fears grow that Ethiopia's ethnic clashes will destabilize the region

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Thousands of Ethiopian Oromos flee into Kenya, threatening regional stability


    Deserted streets in Ethiopia's capital city Addis Ababa, as businesses closed after strike called by Oromo activists (AFP)
    Deserted streets in Ethiopia's capital city Addis Ababa, as businesses closed after strike called by Oromo activists (AFP)

    Over 8,000 Ethiopians, mostly ethnic Oromos, have fled Ethiopia since Saturday and are pouring into an emergency refugee camp being set up in Kenya. The camp is in the town of Moyale, the capital of Marsabit County in Kenya, and is on a plot partially owned by the governor of Marsabit.

    Moyale is a border town split into two parts, with one side in Ethiopia and one side in Kenya. The Oromos fled from Moyale in Ethiopia, when Ethiopian soldiers on Saturday shot nine civilians. According to Ethiopian state media, the soldiers shot the civilians by mistake in a botched raid, after mistaking them for members of a banned activist group, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).

    But several residents of Ethiopia's Moyale said that it wasn't a mistake at all, but was intentional on the part of the soldiers, and specifically targeted at random at a crowd of residents:

    "It was then a military vehicle came along. The military jumped out of the car and started shooting aimlessly, killing indiscriminately. Some of them were killed in their homes. Some of them were killed while they were having their lunch. Some others were killed while they were selling in their shops."

    Massive anti-government protests began in Ethiopia's Oromia region late in 2015, and spread to the neighboring Amhara region, leaving hundreds dead and resulting in tens of thousands of arrests. A state of emergency was imposed in October 2016, allowing mass detentions, and imposing numerous restrictions on people’s movement and communication.

    The first state of emergency ended only a few months ago, in August 2017. Anti-government protests began again, and by February there were millions of protesters. This led to the shock resignation of the prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn on February 15. In his letter of resignation, he wrote, "I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy."

    Not surprisingly, Hailemariam's resignation didn't end the protests, but instead led to more activism. The result was that the government's Council of Ministers declared a new state of emergency that "would be instrumental in thwarting ethnic-based conflicts in the country and safeguarding the constitutional order." The Nation (Kenya) and AFP (14-Mar) and Reuters and AFP

    Fears grow that Ethiopia's ethnic clashes will destabilize the region

    As I've previously described in a detailed generational analysis of Ethiopia's protests, Ethiopia's last generational crisis war occurred in 1991, when the Marxist Derg dictatorship was overthrown. Since 1991, the government has been largely controlled by the ethnic Tigrayans, who are a market and government dominant minority, comprising only 6% of the population. Although the Tigrayans comprise only a tiny fraction of the population, the Tigrayan governing coalition has been able to increasingly marginalized the two largest ethnic groups, the Oromo ethnic group (34% of Ethiopia's population), and among the Amhara ethnic group (27%).

    The kind of violence that occurred last weekend is typical of what happens in the generational Awakening era following a generational crisis war that's also a tribal or ethnic war. In these cases, when the war ends, the two warring groups reside in the same country, and sometimes even in the same villages and towns. As a result, memories of the massacres, rapes, mutilations and torture that occurred during the war are constantly refreshed by seeing members of the other tribe on the streets and in the shops.

    That certainly seems to be exactly what's happening here. The government is supposedly investigating what happened on Saturday, and has promised that the guilty parties will be punished, but the most likely explanation is that the soldiers were ethnic Tigrayans who retain bitter memories of how the Oromos killed their wives or sons, and are getting revenge. No investigation will prevent that from happening again.

    The anti-government protests are far from over, and they pose the largest challenge to Ethiopia’s ruling coalition since it took power in 1991.

    In the last two years, more than 900,000 people have been forced from their homes. The Oromo Liberation Front is an activist youth movement of a kind that is typical in generational Awakening eras (such as America in the 1960s). Widespread protest strikes have closed down shops and businesses.

    On Monday, a week-long "fuel blockade" protest action began, blocking roads and preventing fuel tankers from leaving the capital city Addis Ababa and supplying fuel to other towns.

    The government is already without a prime minister, since the resignation of Hailemariam Desalegn on February 15. The massive protests and protest actions are threatening the government, and the brutal state of emergency is apparently having no effect in bringing the protests under control. With thousands of Ethiopians crossing the border into Kenya, a country with its own governmental crisis and ethnic problems, it's feared that the unrest in Ethiopia could spread to other countries in the Horn of Africa. Guardian (London) and France 24 and Africa News and Bloomberg (6-Mar) and Africa News (28-Feb)

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    14-Mar-18 World View -- Trump blocks Broadcom acquisition of Qualcomm over national security

    Government urges not doing business with China's Huawei and ZTE

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Trump blocks Broadcom acquisition of Qualcomm over national security


     FBI Director Christopher Wray (L) and CIA Director Mike Pompeo (2nd L) testify to a Senate Intelligence Committee on Feb 13, advising Americans not to buy products from Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE (AFP)
    FBI Director Christopher Wray (L) and CIA Director Mike Pompeo (2nd L) testify to a Senate Intelligence Committee on Feb 13, advising Americans not to buy products from Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE (AFP)

    The Trump administration has issued a presidential order blocking the $117 billion proposed takeover of US-based chip maker Qualcomm Inc. by Singapore-based chip maker Broadcom Ltd. Excerpts of the order are as follows:

    "There is credible evidence that leads me to believe that Broadcom Limited, a limited company organized under the laws of Singapore (Broadcom) ..., through exercising control of Qualcomm Incorporated (Qualcomm), a Delaware corporation, might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States. ...

    On the basis of the findings set forth in section 1 of this order, ... I hereby order that:

    (a) The proposed takeover of Qualcomm by the Purchaser is prohibited, and any substantially equivalent merger, acquisition, or takeover, whether effected directly or indirectly, is also prohibited.

    (b) All 15 individuals listed as potential candidates on the Form of Blue Proxy Card filed by Broadcom and Broadcom Corporation with the Securities and Exchange Commission on February 20, 2018 (together, the Candidates), are hereby disqualified from standing for election as directors of Qualcomm. Qualcomm is prohibited from accepting the nomination of or votes for any of the Candidates."

    Broadcom said in a statement it was reviewing the order and that it "strongly disagrees that its proposed acquisition of Qualcomm raises any national security concerns."

    Supporters of the proposed merger point to the fact that Broadcom was a US-based company until its headquarters moved to Singapore in 2016 because of a merger, and that it was in the process of moving its headquarters back to the U.S., partly to allay national security concerns associated with this kind of merger.

    A reason that administration officials are giving for blocking the merger is that Broadcom would curtail investment in the aggressive research and development program that Qualcomm has been pursuing, particularly in 5G technology, the new technology that will substantially speed up data transfers to and from smartphones. If Qualcomm is slowed down from technology development, it would give an advantage to Qualcomm's major competitor, China-based Huawei [pronounced WAH way] Technologies Co., , the world's largest telecommunications-equipment manufacturer. So, based on this logic, the administration determined that the merger would pose a national security risk.

    However, as convenient and simplistic as that explanation is, there are obviously much bigger issues. There has been growing resistance in both the White House and in Congress to allowing Chinese investments in the US and imposing tariffs on a broad range of its imports to punish Beijing for its alleged theft of intellectual property.

    Theft of intellectual property is the real heart of the matter. Whether based in Singapore of the US, Broadcom has ties to several Chinese firms, most notably Huawei, the world's largest telecommunications-equipment manufacturer.

    China uses every opportunity it can to force any company wanting to do business in China to make all its intellectual property available to a government-controlled company, and hence to any other Chinese company. It's feared that if Broadcom acquires Qualcomm, then China will find a way to force the merged company to turn over all its intellectual property to the Chinese government.

    President Donald Trump has been extremely critical of China's trade practices well before becoming president. In the last year, Trump has killed almost a dozen attempted takeovers by foreign countries, and in all but one of the cases, the foreign country was China. In August of last year, Trump ordered an official investigation of China's practices:

    U.S Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer formally initiated an investigation of China under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. The investigation will seek to determine whether acts, policies, and practices of the Government of China related to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation are unreasonable or discriminatory and burden or restrict U.S. commerce."

    This investigation is still ongoing. If the investigation finds against China, then the US could impose a number of penalties, probably triggering retaliation.

    Computer chips, such as those produced by Broadcom, Qualcomm and Huawei, are used not only in desktop computers and smartphones, but also in all kinds of military devices. White House and Bloomberg and US Trade Representative (14-Aug-2017) and AP and Variety

    Government urges not doing business with China's Huawei and ZTE

    Amazon and Best Buy are now offering a new Android smartphone, the Huawei Mate SE, with a large 5.93-inch screen and a big battery, for just $229. However, six intelligence agencies, including the CIA, FBI and NSA, are all advising Americans not to do business with Chinese firms Huawei Technologies Co. or ZTE Corp.

    In February, FBI directory Christopher Wray testified:

    "We're deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don't share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks.

    That provides the capacity to exert pressure or control over our telecommunications infrastructure. It provides the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information. And it provides the capacity to conduct undetected espionage."

    A Huawei spokesman responded in a statement:

    "Huawei is aware of a range of U.S. government activities seemingly aimed at inhibiting Huawei's business in the U.S. market. Huawei is trusted by governments and customers in 170 countries worldwide and poses no greater cybersecurity risk than any ICT vendor, sharing as we do common global supply chains and production capabilities."

    Well, he's not denying that Huawei could maliciously modify and steal information, and conduct undetected espionage. So I'll take that as a "yes," the Chinese are doing exactly that. And 170 other governments are stupid enough to allow it.

    I wrote about this subject back in 2012, when the House Intelligence Committee warned against doing business with Huawei and ZTE, and were warning about a "Cyberwar Pearl Harbor attack" from China. At that time, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta warned that chips manufactured by Huawei or ZTE could be controlled remotely by the Chinese, and develop tools that could "cause panic and destruction and even the loss of life." For example, working remotely, China could "derail passenger trains or even more dangerous, derail trains loaded with lethal chemicals."

    I've spent a part of my career developing chip-level operating system software for embedded systems, so I know exactly how to do what Panetta is suggesting. Furthermore, I can tell you that not only is it doable, it's not even particularly difficult for someone with the right skills.

    Huawei could develop a chipset that works exactly as described in the public specifications. The chipset could be subjected to thousands of tests, and they would all work perfectly.

    But what Huawei could do is install a "backdoor" into the chipset. When the chip receives, say, a secret 1024-bit code, then it will execute commands sent to it by Chinese engineers. Thus, the Chinese are then in control of any devices with Huawei or ZTE chips.

    As I said, this is not only doable, it's easy to do. The "backdoor" could not be detected until an attack had been launched, and then it would be too late.

    And since it CAN be done, I'm absolutely certain that it HAS been done.

    Huawei was founded by Ren Zhengfei, a former Red Army engineer. China has been preparing for war with the U.S. in every possible way. They've built large, illegal military bases in the South China Sea, and repeatedly lied about them. They've developed numerous nuclear-tipped ballistic and hypersonic missile systems designed to successfully strike and destroy American aircraft carriers, American cities, and American bases. They've demonstrated a capability to destroy American communications and GPS satellites. They have thousands of missiles ready to launch against Taiwan, and they have large military deployments in western Tibet ready to invade India.

    China has been preparing in every possible way for years for a successful pre-emptive military strike against the United States, and there is absolutely no doubt that they would also prepare by installing "backdoors" in all the chips and switches and other electronic devices that they sell.

    Basically, any electronic device linked to a Chinese firm is under suspicion, because it's almost certain that the Chinese are preparing to use backdoors and other tools to take control of them remotely in time of war. The Broadcom acquisition of Qualcomm does not have an obvious relation to this threat, but an opening might occur in the future as Broadcom and Huawei continue to do business.

    The Trump administration is using every tool it can to prevent anything that might in the future give Chinese engineers the chance to control American electronic devices. Killing attempted Chinese acquisitions of American products is one way of doing that. CNBC and Forbes and Reuters (16-Jan) and CNBC (13-Feb)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Mar-18 World View -- Trump blocks Broadcom acquisition of Qualcomm over national security thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    13-Mar-18 World View -- Britain threatens Russia with retaliation over nerve gas poisoning of Skripal

    Skripal was attacked with Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent developed by Russia

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Britain threatens Russia with retaliation over nerve gas poisoning of Skripal


    Vladimir Putin smirks when a BBC reporter asks him whether Russia poisoned Sergei Skripal
    Vladimir Putin smirks when a BBC reporter asks him whether Russia poisoned Sergei Skripal

    On Sunday, March 4, a policeman in Salisbury, England, found 66 year old Sergei Skripal and his 33 year old daughter Yulia unconscious on a bench. They were both hospitalized, and are still in critical condition. The policeman who found them has also been hospitalized, and is in serious condition.

    Skripal was a Russian former double agent who had been released from Russian jail to the West in a prisoner exchange. He had lived a quiet life in Salisbury, though not under an assumed name. With all three people -- Skripal, his daughter, and the policeman -- all hospitalized, it was suspected that Russia had attacked them, and a full investigation was ordered.

    Russia has a history of attacking disloyal former agents on foreign soil. In 2007, two Russian assassins put polonium into Alexander Litvinenko’s tea, resulting in a long, painful death.

    On Monday, Britain's prime minister Theresa May announced that the investigation was ongoing, but based on the information available so far, it was "highly likely" that Skripal had been poisoned by Russians, using a deadly nerve agent called Novichok that was developed in Russia.

    The following are excerpts from May's speech:

    "But as a nation that believes in justice and the rule of law, it is essential that we proceed in the right way – led not by speculation but by the evidence.

    That is why we have given the police the space and time to carry out their investigation properly. ...

    That investigation continues and we must allow the police to continue with their work. ...

    It is now clear that Mr Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia.

    This is part of a group of nerve agents known as ‘Novichok’.

    Based on the positive identification of this chemical agent by world-leading experts at the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down; our knowledge that Russia has previously produced this agent and would still be capable of doing so; Russia’s record of conducting state-sponsored assassinations; and our assessment that Russia views some defectors as legitimate targets for assassinations; the Government has concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

    Mr Speaker, there are therefore only two plausible explanations for what happened in Salisbury on the 4 of March.

    Either this was a direct act by the Russian State against our country.

    Or the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others."

    It's believed that this concept of "only two plausible explanations" was a carefully crafted phrase to allow Britain to demand that the Russians select from these two choices, either of which implies Russian guilt.

    Britain has demanded that the Russian embassy respond by Tuesday evening, and explain which of the two possibilities it is, and how Novichok could have been deployed in Salisbury.

    May said that when Litvinenko was killed, Britain expelled Russian diplomats and took other steps.

    It's particularly shocking to the British public that the investigation found traces of the nerve agent Novichok in the pizza restaurant where Skripal and his daughter had been eating, indicating that assassins had put the general public in danger.

    The British people appear to be furious at the Russians for conducting chemical warfare on British soil, and it's certain that there will be retaliation. Measures being discussed include expelling more diplomats, freezing more assets of Russian oligarchs, and applying more sanctions. Another recommendation is to ban the station Russia Today from being broadcast in Britain. Russia Today used to be a decent news station, but has turned into just a fairly worthless propaganda arm for the Kremlin.

    However this unfolds, relations between Britain and Russia is going to become increasingly hostile. Mirror (London) and Guardian (London) and Reuters

    Russia reacts with massive disinformation campaign

    At this point we have to provide a brief list of all the lies that Russian officials have told in recent years.

    Russia lied about invading east Ukraine when it had Russian troops in east Ukraine. Russia lied about invading Crimea, and Putin said Russia had no intention of annexing Crimea, but then annexed Crimea a few days later and gave medals to the military officers who had invaded Crimea. Later, in a televised interview, Putin bragged that he had ordered the invasion and annexation of Crimea weeks before it occurred, and then lied about it. Russia lied about shooting down the MH17 passenger plane with a Russian Buk missile, even though the Russian commander in Ukraine initially bragged about shooting it down in a tweet.

    For Syria, Russia lied about Syria's president al-Bashar Assad's use of Sarin gas on his own people, Russia lied about the purpose of its military intervention into Syria as being to attack the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

    Even worse, Russia hired hundreds of paid internet trolls to attack and harass people like me who write about what Russia is actually doing, and to post thousands of disinformation comments online.

    In the case of shooting down the MH17 passenger plane, Russian media and trolls went into full-on troll mode, making one ridiculous claim after another: Russian commander Strelkov's tweet had never occurred; the US had shot down MH17 to embarrass Russia; the airplane was struck by a meteor; no living people were aboard the plane as it flew on autopilot from Amsterdam, where it had been pre-loaded with "rotting corpses."

    The point is that everything the Russians say has zero value. It's of no more use than any pieces of total garbage.

    So with all that in mind, we're about to see another massive disinformation campaign by Russian trolls. There are reports that this campaign has already begun. Here's what we're hearing already, led by Russia's foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova:

    The picture at the beginning of this article is of Vladimir Putin was visiting Russia's National Grain Center, responding to a question from a BBC reporter about whether Russia was responsible for poisoning Skripal. He responded with a mocking answer:

    "We're dealing with agriculture here you see, to create conditions for people's lives. And you talk to me about some tragedies. First, get to the bottom of it there, and then we'll discuss this."

    Putin was able to respond with a smirk because he knows that Russia will get away with the attack on Skripal. Canadian Broadcasting

    Skripal was attacked with Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent developed by Russia

    The military-grade nerve agent Novichok has been identified as what was used to poison Skripal, his daughter, and the policeman who found them. As far as is known, nobody knows how to make Novichok except the Russians.

    Novichok means "newcomer" in Russian. Novichok agents were developed in the 1980s as a new weapon in the waning days of the Cold War. Novichok chemicals were designed to evade equipment carried by NATO troops. NPR

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Mar-18 World View -- Britain threatens Russia with retaliation over nerve gas poisoning of Skripal thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    12-Mar-18 World View -- Socialists and feminists to act as 'human shields' protecting Kurds from Turkey in Afrin Syria

    US cuts back operations in Incirlik as Turkey-NATO relations sour

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Socialists and feminists to act as 'human shields' protecting Kurds from Turkey in Afrin


    Turkish and FSA fighters near Afrin, Syria (Agencia Efe)
    Turkish and FSA fighters near Afrin, Syria (Agencia Efe)

    Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on January 20, expecting to take control of Afrin from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) within a few days. The operation was executed by Arab militias in the Free Syrian Army (FSA), backed by Turkish armed forces. The operation has taken much longer than expected, leading to speculation that Turkey's army has been made substantially weaker because of all the firings of army officers following the botched coup attempt in June 2016.

    However, in the last few days, Turkish forces and the FSA have made extremely rapid progress. They've captured a number of towns and villages on the outskirts of Afrin, and have surrounded Afrin itself, in preparation to enter the Afrin city center shortly.

    Turkish officials say that the reason that the operation has taken so long is that they are trying to minimize civilian casualties. They contrast themselves to the Syrian army of Bashar al-Assad which is attacking Eastern Ghouta and freely targeting civilians with barrel bombs, chlorine gas and Sarin gas.

    However, Socialist and feminist groups are calling on members to act has human shields to prevent Turkish forces from entering Afrin. According to a joint statement by the Initiative for the Unity and Solidarity of Peoples (SYPG) and the Free Socialist Women (JAS):

    "We are now on the 51st day of our great resistance against the attack of the colonialist and fascist Turkish state on our canton Afrin. As SYPG and JAS, we will launch a new group of human shields against the invasion of the Cizirê region and the Firat (Euphrates) region.

    Against the invasion of the Turkish state, all of our oppressed peoples and progressive revolutionary forces should become millions and go out on the streets, giving strength to our Afrin resistance. Colonialism, fascism will be defeated - our resistance from Afrin will prevail. We bow to our fallen in respect and wish all our resistance fighters success."

    Kurdish groups within Turkey itself are also encouraging their members to go to Afrin in Syria and become human shields.

    However, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Turkish led forces are just four to five kilometers from Afrin, and that the objective was not to "occupy" Afrin but to "liberate" it from the YPG occupiers: "In the Afrin region, the owners of the lands have started to come back." Daily Sabah (Ankara) and ANF (Kurdish) and Al Jazeera

    US cuts back operations in Incirlik as Turkey-NATO relations sour

    Turkey's president on Sunday denounced NATO for failing to back Turkey's fight against the YPG:

    "Hey NATO, with what has been going on in Syria, when are you going to come and be alongside us?

    We are constantly harassed by terror groups on our borders. Unfortunately, until now, there has not been a positive word or voice. Is this friendship? Is this NATO unity? Are we not a NATO member?"

    The YPG is linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been conducting a violent insurgency in Turkey for three decades, and has performed multiple major terrorist attacks in major Turkish cities in the last three years. The PKK is considered a terrorist group by the US and the EU.

    So from the point of view of Turkey, the fact that the US has been arming the YPG to fight the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) in Raqqa, and has continued to support the YPG even though Raqqa has been recaptured from ISIS, is considered a major betrayal. In fact, the US has reneged on a promise to Turkey to stop supplying the YPG with heavy weapons.

    The head of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, said after Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch:

    "No NATO member country has been exposed to as many terror attacks as Turkey. Turkey has the right to deal with its own security concerns. Yet, it should do it in a moderate way."

    However, NATO has provided no actual support.

    Turkish public opinion has become increasingly outraged by NATO's lack of support, and by the US arming the YPG, which is linked to the PKK terrorist group. According to one survey of Turkish public opinion, 64.3% of Turks think that the US poses a threat to Turkey, up from 39.2% in 2016.

    According to a Turkish official:

    "Turkey's Syrian border is also NATO's southern border. Within these borders there have been so many assaults from the other side by the YPG and PKK. While not showing any reaction to those attacks, NATO members' stance against Turkey, which is protecting its borders and fights against terrorist groups, is not in line with the law of alliance."

    This has led in Turkey to discussions that Turkey should shut down Incirlik Airbase, which has been used by the US since 1954. Incirlik has about 5,000 U.S. troops, and is home to the 39th Air Base Wing of the U.S. Air Force. In addition, there are calls to shut down Kürecik Base, which is home to a NATO radar system that was designed to intercept rocket attacks.

    It's now being reported that the U.S. military has sharply reduced combat operations at Turkey’s Incirlik air base and is considering permanent cutbacks there.

    In January, the US moved A-10 ground jets from Incirlik base, leaving only refueling aircraft. The number of military members living at the base have also been reduced. At the time, the Pentagon explained the move on the basis of its decision to step up operations in Afghanistan. According to U.S. officials, the U.S. remains committed to Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally, and that there are no immediate plans for a further reduction of forces and aircraft. Daily Sabah (Ankara, 24-Feb) and Hurriyet (Ankara, 13-Feb) and Daily Sabah (15-Feb) and Ahval News and Bipartisan Policy

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Mar-18 World View -- Socialists and feminists to act as 'human shields' protecting Kurds from Turkey in Afrin thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    11-Mar-18 World View -- General warns of US security danger if China acquires Djibouti seaport

    China continues influence through 'debt trap' policies

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    General warns of US security danger if China acquires Djibouti seaport


    Djibouti is strategically located at the mouth of the Red Sea, with access to the Suez Canal and the Indian Ocean
    Djibouti is strategically located at the mouth of the Red Sea, with access to the Suez Canal and the Indian Ocean

    The government of Djibouti made a shock announcement in February that it was canceling its contract with Dubai's DP World, and was seizing control of Djibouti's strategic port at the entrance to the Red Sea, the Doraleh Container Terminal.

    DP World and the Republic of Djibouti had signed a 30-year agreement in 2006 for DP World to operate the terminal, which augments the capacity of the International Autonomous Port of Djibouti. But last month, Djibouti announced "The Republic of Djibouti has decided to proceed with the unilateral termination with immediate effect of the concession contract awarded to DP World, ... [to serve] the higher interests of the nation, in particular those relating to the sovereignty of the state and the economic independence of the country."

    DP World called the move an illegal seizure of the terminal and said it had begun arbitration proceedings before the London Court of International Arbitration, but even if DP World wins the case, they will receive monetary compensation, but they will still lose control of the port.

    On Tuesday of last week, Djibouti signed a deal with Singapore-based Pacific International Lines (PIL), a company that works with China Merchants Port Holdings. Although this does not give China control of the port, it's a step in that direction.

    General Thomas Waldhauser, the top US general for Africa, said that "If the Chinese took over that port, then the consequences could be significant," and added, "There are some indications of (China) looking for additional facilities, specifically on the eastern coast ... So Djibouti happens to be the first — there will be more."

    Djibouti is home to the only permanent US military installation in Africa. But last year, China opened its first overseas naval base there too, provided loans to the country, and built a railway connecting the seaport to the Ethiopian capital to improve regional trade.

    One of the concerns is that if Djibouti illegally seized the port from DP World in order to give it to China, then they could just as easily terminate the lease for the US military base, and award that to China as well. According to Waldhauser, "If they did [give the port to China], down the way that restricts access, that restricts the navy’s ability to get in there and offload supplies."

    The larger concern is that the US has been falling behind China in influence in Africa. The US gives millions of dollars in aid, but China has eclipsed the US in Africa in many ways: providing loans, financing much-needed infrastructure, competing for resources like oil and minerals, increasing its trade share, and spreading its ideological influence. Maritime Executive (22-Feb) and Reuters and Quartz and Reuters

    China continues influence through 'debt trap' policies

    The US has provided millions of dollars in aid for counter-terrorism efforts in countries like Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Chad, and Nigeria, to fight terrorist groups like al-Shabaab or Boko Haram.

    China's policies are quite different. China does not provide aid. It provides high interest rate loans to the country to build infrastructure, then provides Chinese workers which the country has to hire to build the infrastructure. The country that receives this kind of "aid" then must pay the salaries of all the Chinese workers, and must also repay the loan, including the high interest. China then extract's the country's resources, and no local jobs are created, and almost no benefit goes to the country.

    If the country is unable to make those payments, then China takes possession of the seaport or other infrastructure, in lieu of payment, and also establishes a community of Chinese workers in the country -- a community which will be there forever.

    We've already described what happened with Sri Lanka, when China invested $1.2 billion in Sri Lanka's Hambantota seaport in 2009. The plan was that revenue generated by the seaport would be used to repay the Chinese, and the surplus would bring wealth and happiness to all Sri Lankans. It didn't turn out that way, and the project turned out to be a "debt trap." Sri Lanka couldn't repay the loan, and now China has taken control the seaport and the surrounding area. It's been a disaster for Sri Lanka.

    In a speech last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson contrasted US policies with China's policies:

    "The United States pursues, develops sustainable growth that bolsters institutions, strengthens rule of law, and builds the capacity of African countries to stand on their own two feet. We partner with African countries by incentivizing good governance to meet long term security and development goals.

    This stands in stark contrast to China’s approach, which encourages dependency using opaque contracts, predatory loan practices, and corrupt deals that mire nations in debt and undercut their sovereignty, denying them their long-term, self-sustaining growth. Chinese investment does have the potential to address Africa’s infrastructure gap, but its approach has led to mounting debt and few, if any, jobs in most countries. When coupled with the political and fiscal pressure, this endangers Africa’s natural resources and its long-term economic political stability."

    Countries that have already substantially increased their debt-to-GDP ratio because of China's debt trap policies include Djibouti, Montenegro, Pakistan, Mongolia, Maldives, Laos, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. US State Dept and Quartz and CNN and US Embassy in Nigeria

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Mar-18 World View -- General warns of US security danger if China acquires Djibouti seaport thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    10-Mar-18 World View -- The Donald Trump - Kim Jong-un meeting hinges on a decision that Kim has already made

    Kenya's bitter rivals, Kenyatta and Odinga, become 'brothers' as Tillerson arrives

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Kenya's bitter rivals, Kenyatta and Odinga, become 'brothers' as Tillerson arrives


    Uhuru Kenyatta (L) and Raila Odinga shake hands, smile, and call each other 'my brother.'  Odinga particularly seems to me to be gritting his teeth, as if he doesn't want to be there. (Standard Media)
    Uhuru Kenyatta (L) and Raila Odinga shake hands, smile, and call each other 'my brother.' Odinga particularly seems to me to be gritting his teeth, as if he doesn't want to be there. (Standard Media)

    In a show of high theatre on Friday, Kenya's president Uhuru Kenyatta, a leader of the dominant Kikuyu tribe, met with the opposition leader, Raila Odinga, who is also a leader of the Luo tribe. They surprised everyone by shaking hands at a press conference, and calling each other "my brother."

    Gone was the acrimony of last year's election, which had to be rerun because Odinga accused Kenyatta of rigging the election, with violence that led to dozens of deaths. Gone was the vitriol and post-election violence of 2008, when Odinga lost to another Kikuyu, and the two tribes had weeks of bloody violence resulting in thousands of deaths.

    At Friday's love-fest, Odinga said:

    "The time has come for us to confront and resolve our differences. As we fight ostensibly to save ourselves from each other, the reality is, we need to save our children from ourselves."
    Kenyatta said:

    "We had extensive discussions on matters Kenya and we had an agreement that the country is bigger than any of us. We have a responsibility as leaders to discuss our differences and what ails our country so that we get solutions.

    Elections come and go, but Kenya remains. Our future as a country cannot be dictated by elections.

    Together we want to build a united, harmonious nation where nobody feels left behind. We want to formulate a new beginning and have a country where we can differ in political alignments but united in matters Kenya.

    We have moved from year to year, election to election, never pausing to deal with the challenges that our diversity was always going to pose to our efforts to create a prosperous and united nation. Consequently, the ties that bind us are today under the severest stress."

    Kenyatta and Odinga have previously said that they would never talk to each other and shake hands, and they both refused to do so at a funeral earlier this year. So what changed on Friday?

    Late Friday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson began a three-day visit to Kenya. Tillerson has been very critical of last year's election in Kenya, and has been calling for a reconciliation between the two leaders.

    Kenya is one of the biggest recipients of economic aid from the US. Last year, the country received $1.1 billion in economic aid, and aid for other programs such as HIV and Aids management, energy and agriculture. The US has also provided hundreds of millions more, related to the fight against terrorism. Barack Obama, whose father was from the Luo tribe, had also worked hard to promote reconciliation in Kenya when he was president.

    Tillerson seemed very pleased to see Kenyatta and Odinga shake hands:

    "This is a very positive step in our view, and while we know addressing Kenya's ethnic and political divisions will take some time and effort, today both of these men showed great leadership in coming together. All the credit goes to the two leaders."

    Kenya's last generational crisis war was the Mau-Mau rebellion that climaxed in 1956. At that time, Kenya was a British colony, and the Mau-Mau rebellion was largely a fight against the colonists, with Luos and the Kikuyus fighting on the same side. History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes, and so now the Luos and Kikuyus are enemies of each other. The 2008 violence was not a full-scale war, and it fizzled quickly. But today, nine years later, a new generational crisis war is overdue, and with the British colonists long gone, it's feared that there will be a new full-scale crisis war between the Kikuyu, Kalenjin and Luo tribes. Standard Media (Kenya) and The Nation (Kenya) and The Star (Kenya) and Standard Media (Kenya) and The Star (Kenya)

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    The Donald Trump - Kim Jong-un meeting hinges on a decision that Kim has already made


    North Korea's Army of Beauties (Korea Herald)
    North Korea's Army of Beauties (Korea Herald)

    There are many questions being discussed in the mainstream media about the meeting between president Donald Trump and North Korea's president Kim Jong-un. What are the time and place? Who has the advantage? Did Kim agree because of Trump's military threats? Did Kim agree because of the sanctions? Or is the whole thing just a publicity stunt?

    Reports are that Trump immediately accepted the invitation to meet without preconditions. I thought that this was a good negotiating ploy, since it's quite possible that Kim expected Trump to demand major preconditions first, such as the release of Americans being held captive in North Korea, and some steps taken towards denuclearization. I thought that Trump's instant acceptance without preconditions would have been a surprise to Kim, who would then be faced with backing out of the meeting, or facing a meeting where he'd be lectured to by Donald Trump.

    However, by Friday Trump backed off, and specified that some preconditions would have to be met, namely some "concrete and verifiable actions" in the direction of denuclearization. Apparently, Trump was responding to widespread criticism that he'd given Kim something (agreeing to a meeting), while getting nothing in return. I don't agree with that analysis, but it's widely believed.

    There's actually one and only one relevant question, and it has to do with a decision that has undoubtedly already been made by Kim: Has Kim's government already decided to give up its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile development?

    There are two possibilities:

    Now, I'm one of those people who believe that there isn't a snowflake's chance in hell that Kim is ready to give up nuclear and missile development.

    But there is one scenario where I can imagine that it might happen, and it's something that I discussed during the Olympics in "12-Feb-18 World View -- What was Kim Yo-jong thinking as she returned to North Korea from the Olympics?"

    The North sent a huge delegation of hundreds of people to Seoul for the Olympics game. They included all the athletes, Kim Jong-un's sister Kim Yo-jong, and the North's "Army of Beauties" cheerleading squad.

    During their visit, the girls in this "Army of Beauties" were carefully monitored, but they would still have had some opportunity to compare life in the South versus life in the North. Upon returning home, they would have told their boyfriends, husbands and fathers how much better life is in the South, and asked "Why don't we do what the South is doing?" After that, hundreds or thousands of people in North Korea's capital Pyongyang might have been asking themselves the same question.

    I realize that this whole scenario sounds fantastical, but it's happened before, and I personally remember it well. As I described in the article referenced above, this is exactly what happened when Russia's Boris Yeltsin visited the United States in 1989. He visited a supermarket, and was so affected by what he saw that he gave up communism. Here's how he explained it in his autobiography:

    When I saw those shelves crammed with hundreds, thousands of cans, cartons and goods of every possible sort, for the first time I felt quite frankly sick with despair for the Soviet people. That such a potentially super-rich country as ours has been brought to a state of such poverty! It is terrible to think of it."

    So very strange things sometimes happen. This scenario is so far-fetched that I would consider it completely impossible, except for the fact that I've seen it happen before.

    At any rate, Kim's government will already know whether it's decided to give up its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile development, so it already knows the likely outcome of the meeting with Trump. We probably won't know for some time to come. Washington Post and Korea Herald (11-Jan)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Mar-18 World View -- The Donald Trump - Kim Jong-un meeting hinges on a decision that Kim has already made thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    9-Mar-18 World View -- Portions of Indian-governed Kashmir shut down after deadly clashes

    Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) becomes leading jihadist group in Kashmir

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Portions of Indian-governed Kashmir shut down after deadly clashes


    Complete shutdown of portions of Shopian district in Kashmir (PakToday)
    Complete shutdown of portions of Shopian district in Kashmir (PakToday)

    Portions of Indian-government Kashmir were completely shut down for a fourth day on Thursday, because of the first major deadly clashes of the year, as winter ends and spring approaches. The forced shutdown affected roads, shops, businesses, schools and colleges in the Shopian district of Indian-governed Kashmir.

    Six people were killed -- two militants and four civilians -- in a shootout that took place at 8 pm Sunday in the Shopian district. According to the army statement, the army responded to firing from the militants by firing back, and said that three of the four dead civilians were "overground workers" (OGWs), a term commonly used in Kashmir for non-combatants who provide logistical support for militant groups.

    The killings sparked thousands of people to arrive in Shopian to protest, resulting in stone-throwing clashes with the police, although there were no more deaths. The protesters were particularly infuriated by the "overground workers" characterization of the civilians, who they claim were innocent bystanders.

    Most violent clashes in Kashmir occur during the hot summer months. Kashmir has been relatively quiet for the last few months, as protests have been minimized by the bitter winter code. Even so, according to an estimate, 45 people including 15 security personnel, 19 militants and 10 civilians have lost their lives since January. With an estimated 200 or more active militants in Kashmir, it's expected that the will be a new surge of violence as summer again approaches. Kashmir Reader and Scroll (India) and Kashmir Observer and Ary News TV (Pakistan)

    Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) becomes leading jihadist group in Kashmir

    As we've written in the past, there are three major Pakistan-sponsored jihadist groups operating in Kashmir, and recent events indicate that the relative importance of the three is shifting.

    The oldest is Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), a Pakistan-based terrorist group that was formed in the 1990s by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency to fight India in the disputed regions of Kashmir and Jammu. LeT was the perpetrator of the horrific "26/11" three-day attack on Mumbai in 2008, killing 166 people and wounding hundreds more. ( "After Mumbai's '26/11' nightmare finally ends, India - Pakistan relations face crisis" from 2008)

    According to a report by Indian police, LeT is reducing its operations in Kashmir, because its leader, Hafiz Saeed, is coming under international scrutiny. Hafiz Saeed masterminded the 2008 Mumbai attack. Pakistan held him in house arrest for several years, but refused to bring him to trial. Then in November of last year, Pakistan freed him with no trial and all charges dropped. As he left the court a free man, he was greeted by chanting crowds and rose petals.

    The result, according to the police report, is "increased and repeated international scrutiny of LeT and its chief, [and the] recent development of Pakistan declaring Hafiz Saeed a terrorist under global pressure."

    The second Kashmir jihadist group is the indigenous Hizbul Mujahedeen (HM), a Kashmir-based terrorist group that has been leading the anti-Indian stone-throwing riots of the past two years, triggered by the July 8 2016 death of HM leader Burhan Wani in a gunfight with the Indian army. However, HM has been less effective recently because it's essentially been decapitated, with two of its leaders killed.

    The third jihadist group is Pakistan-sponsored Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). JeM had little of no presence in Kashmir in 2016, but it's been the main perpetrator of terrorist attacks lately, with four terrorist attacks in the last eight months. JeM has been successful in recruiting young Kashmiris and using them for suicide missions, making JeM the current leader in Pakistan-sponsored Kashmir carnage. Indian Express and India.com and LiveMint (India, 9-Oct-2017)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Mar-18 World View -- Portions of Indian-governed Kashmir shut down after deadly clashes thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    8-Mar-18 World View -- US-backed Kurds stop fighting ISIS in order to fight Turkey in Afrin

    Mahmoud Abbas may step down as Palestinian Authority president

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    US-backed Kurds stop fighting ISIS in order to fight Turkey in Afrin


    Turkish-backed FSA forces are fighting Kurds in Afrin, who will be helped by Kurdish forces in Manbij traveling to Afrin (AFP)
    Turkish-backed FSA forces are fighting Kurds in Afrin, who will be helped by Kurdish forces in Manbij traveling to Afrin (AFP)

    The war in Syria escalated again on Tuesday when militias in the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) fighting ISIS in eastern Syria announced that most of their fighters would abandon the first against ISIS, and would travel to Afrin to oppose Turkish-supported forces seeking to eject the YPG forces there.

    The YPG forces in eastern Syria said that 1,700 fighters would stop fighting the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) in eastern Syria, and would move to Afrin to fight the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA). The FSA is trying to take control of Afrin from the YPG.

    The so-called "Operation Olive Branch" was launched by Turkey on January 20, and was supposed to take control of Afrin within a few days. After that, the original plan was that the FSA would then move east, and similarly take control of Manbij from the YPG. It was never clear how that would work, since there are about 2,000 US special forces in Manbij.

    At any rate, Turkey is still bogged down in Afrin, although Turkish officials say that victory is close. There are a couple of reasons that analysts have been giving to explain the problems that Turkey is facing. First, it's said that the YPG forces are battle-hardened from having fought ISIS. And second, it's said that Turkey's army has been decimated by the massive firings of army leaders following the botched coup by the army in June 2016.

    Whatever the reason, the fact that 1,700 YPG fighters from the Euphrates River Valley are coming to Afrin to fight the Turkish forces can only add to Turkey's problems. Turkey is blaming the United States, and is demanding that the US block the YPG forces from going to Afrin, but it's far from clear that the US has the ability to stop them. CNN and AFP and Al-Monitor and Reuters

    Reports of Free Syrian Army atrocities on Kurds in Afrin

    Reports are mounting that the Turkish-backed Arab militias in the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are committing atrocities in Afrin, taking revenge against the YPG Kurds for the latter's atrocities against innocent Arabs during last year's YPG fight against ISIS.

    Kurdish forces are said to have razed a number of Arab-majority villages in eastern Syria during the clashes with ISIS. One Arab is quoted as saying, "They killed dozens of members of our extended family, bulldozed our homes and joked that they would plant potatoes there."

    Now that Kurdish forces from the east are traveling to fight Arab militias in Afrin who are looking for revenge, there will probably be plenty of atrocities on both sides.

    As I've written many times, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, Jews versus Arabs, and various ethnic groups against each other. Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, the "axis" of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the "allies," the US, India, Russia and Iran. Gulf News and Guardian (London)

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    Mahmoud Abbas may step down as Palestinian Authority president

    There have been sporadic stories for years that Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas was in declining health and would soon step down. Recently, those reports seem to have become more serious, and there's a succession battle brewing among the Palestinians.

    Mahmoud Abbas, 82, was born in 1935, and lived through World War II and the bloody wars between Jews and Arabs that followed the 1948 partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. Having lived though that horrific war, Abbas has been a major force in maintaining a semblance of peace between the Palestinians and Israelis.

    However, Abbas has been seen as increasingly irrelevant by young Palestinians, who see that nothing has changed during the over 20 years since the Palestinians and Israelis signed the Oslo peace accords, Many young Palestinians, as well as many young Israelis, have no fear of an all-out war with each other.

    Abbas himself has become increasingly belligerent in recent weeks, after the United States recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. There have been stories of a new peace plan being drawn up by the Donald Trump administration, but in view of the irrelevance of Abbas, even if he agreed to it the vast majority of Palestinians probably would not.

    If Abbas is replaced as PA president, the successor would almost certainly be much younger, and would probably have the same attitudes as the young Palestinians who have no fear of all-out war with Israel. Al-Monitor

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Mar-18 World View -- US-backed Kurds stop fighting ISIS in order to fight Turkey in Afrin thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    7-Mar-18 World View -- Sri Lanka declares state of emergency after Buddhist-Muslim violence

    North Korea says it will denuclearize if the regime is 'secure'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Sri Lanka declares state of emergency after Buddhist-Muslim violence


    Sri Lanka government troops enforce curfew in Kandy district on Tuesday (Reuters)
    Sri Lanka government troops enforce curfew in Kandy district on Tuesday (Reuters)

    Sri Lanka's government declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, after violent clashes between ethnic Sinhalese and ethnic Tamils began to spread, eight years after the end of an extremely violence civil war between the two ethnic groups.

    The sequence of events is as follows:

    There has been growing tension and violence between the Sinhalese and Tamil communities, with some hardline Buddhist groups accusing Muslims of forcing people to convert to Islam and vandalizing Buddhist archaeological sites. The Buddhists have also accused the Muslims of refusing to use condoms, so they can have more babies.

    It also appears that Buddhist hardliners in Sri Lanka are being influenced by the genocide by Myanmar (Burma) against Rohingya Muslims. That genocide is being led by Buddhist monks, particularly Ashin Wirathu, a Buddhist monk who turned "969" from a Buddhist sign of peace and happiness into a sign of bloody genocide and ethnic cleansing.

    Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka are mimicking the genocidal incitement in Burma by using racist hate speech to target Sri Lanka Tamils -- most of whom are Hindu. India Today and The Island (Sri Lanka) and UPI

    Growing violence by Sri Lankan Buddhist hardliners against Tamils

    It's only been eight years since the end of the civil war, but we're seeing the very early stages of something that I've described as occurring sooner or later in every country following the end of a generational crisis civil war between two ethnic groups.

    Among generational crisis wars, an external war is fundamentally different than an internal civil war between two ethnic groups. In an external war, one country's army invades another country. When the war ends, the invading army leaves, and the two countries continue relations through the United Nations or international or bilateral treaties.

    But when an internal civil war between two ethnic or tribal groups occurs and then ends, then the people who killed, tortured, mutilated and raped each other still have to live with each other, often in the same villages, sometimes on the same street. And so the extreme trauma and bitterness of war continues, even though the war has ended. That's clearly what we're seeing in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, as the young babies and children who weren't really aware of the war grow older, they become aware of how much they hate each other, and the violence only grows.

    I've written articles about what happens to such countries as the decades pass and new generations grow up during generational Awakening and Unraveling eras. The leaders of the winning side refuse to step down, and start using violence and atrocities against civilians to stay in power. These include Paul Biya in Cameroon, Pierre Nkurunziza in Burundi, Paul Kagame in Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Joseph Kabila in DRC, or, outside of Africa, Bashar al-Assad in Syria and Hun Sen in Cambodia.

    This has already started in Sri Lanka. Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected president in 2005, but lost the election in 2015. He tried to get the army to overturn the election results, but didn't succeed in that. But we can certainly expect to see more of that in the future.

    It's too early for that to be happening in Sri Lanka, because the civil war ended only eight years ago. But it's pretty clear that Sri Lanka is on that path. The current violence will fizzle quickly, but as the young post-war generation grows up, the violence between Tamils and Sinhalese will grow, and the Sinhalese government will begin using violence and atrocities to control the Tamils in the name of national security. Indian Express

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    North Korea says it will denuclearize if the regime is 'secure'

    The media are all agog about the sensational statement that came out on Tuesday, as a South Korean delegation returned from its meeting with North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un on Monday. According to South Korea's chief delegator Chung Eui-yong:

    "North Korea made clear its willingness to denuclearize the Korean peninsula and the fact there is no reason for it to have a nuclear program if military threats against the North are resolved and its regime is secure."

    So North Korean officials have thought about nothing else but nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles for decades, but now they're willing to give them up for some promise of security? I don't think so.

    There's nothing that the US could do to guarantee that would cause the North to say: "OK, now I agree that the military threats are resolved, and the regime is secure." The North Koreans could make demands -- withdraw all troops from South Korea, withdraw all ships from the region, close all military bases around the world, etc., etc., but there would always be new demands. So the whole promise is a scam.

    So let's see where this goes next. Daily Telegraph (Australia)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Mar-18 World View -- Sri Lanka declares state of emergency after Buddhist-Muslim violence thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    6-Mar-18 World View -- The Ghouta 'ceasefire' turns into a Syrian army scam to steal humanitarian aid

    Syria says close to defeating Jaysh al-Islam in Eastern Ghouta

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    The Ghouta 'ceasefire' turns into a Syrian army scam to steal humanitarian aid


    Trucks from humanitarian convoy in Eastern Ghouta on Monday (Reuters)
    Trucks from humanitarian convoy in Eastern Ghouta on Monday (Reuters)

    Syria permitted a humanitarian aid convoy to enter Eastern Ghouta for the first time on Monday, but the Syrian army confiscated 70% of the humanitarian supplies as it entered the region, suggesting that the entire humanitarian aid program is a scam to use Western money to provide supplies to the Syrian army.

    It was only in the last two weeks that Russia announced that it would permit a "ceasefire" in Eastern Ghouta for five hours a day, from 9 am to 2 pm. This ceasefire would permit civilians to leave, and humanitarian aid to be brought in.

    So here are the results so far:

    The humanitarian aid convoy contained 46 trucks. The convoy reached its destination in Douma, in the north of Eastern Ghouta, amid continuing bombing by Syrian and Russian warplanes. The trucks were said to contain food for just 27,500 people, out of the 400,000 people under siege in Eastern Ghouta.

    However, not all the food could be unloaded because the convoy had to leave abruptly, because of incessant bombing by Syrian and Russian warplanes. So Syria prevented even that extremely limited amount of humanitarian aid from being delivered.

    There's really nothing surprising about what's going on. During Syria's siege of Aleppo in 2016, there were similar ceasefires that weren't ceasefires, and people who tried to leave were permitted to leave, but then were killed as they were leaving. There was humanitarian aid, but Syria's army confiscated most of it before it could reach its destination, and on some occasions the humanitarian aid convoy was targeted by Syrian and Russian warplanes. Arab News and Reuters and BBC and AFP

    Syria says close to defeating Jaysh al-Islam in Eastern Ghouta

    Although Syria's president Bashar al-Assad considers pretty much all the 400,000 people in Eastern Ghouta to be terrorists, his army is particularly targeting an anti-Assad militia called "Jaysh al-Islam," or "Army of Islam."

    After al-Assad began targeting peaceful protesters in 2011, and particularly after he massacred thousands of innocent women and children in a Palestinian refugee camp in Latakia in August 2011, anti-Assad militias began to form. These militias were generally very small, but in 2013, Jaysh al-Islam was formed through a merger of about fifty Damascus-based opposition groups. In addition to opposing al-Assad, it was equally opposed to the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), and was responsible for expelling ISIS from the Damascus area.

    Today, Jaysh al-Islam has about 10,000 fighters in Eastern Ghouta, and is the major group opposing the Syrian army in Eastern Ghouta. Eastern Ghouta has been under the control of Jaysh al-Islam and other anti-Assad militias since 2012.

    The Syrian government now says that its army have reclaimed a third of Eastern Ghouta in the last few days. Furthermore, the army "has been rapidly advancing through the East Ghouta region of Damascus recently, capturing several areas that were under the control of Jaysh Al-Islam," according to Syrian media.

    The current objective of the Syrian army is to split Eastern Ghouta into two pieces, so that it's divided horizontally. Syrian media says that the army has taken control of several villages and farms "eliminating large numbers of terrorists and destroying their bases, tunnels, trenches, and ordinance." If it's successful in splitting the region, then the Jaysh al-Islam in the north will be cut off from supplies, giving the Syrian army control of the northern half. Al Masdar News (Damascus) and Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) and Mehr News (Iran) and Stanford - Jaysh al-Islam and Deutsche Welle

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Mar-18 World View -- The Ghouta 'ceasefire' turns into a Syrian army scam to steal humanitarian aid thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    5-Mar-18 World View -- India and Vietnam sign security agreements for the South China Sea

    India's relationship with Southeast Asian nations overshadowed by China

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    India and Vietnam sign security agreements for the South China Sea


    Vietnam's Tran Dai Quang visits Narendra Modi in New Delhi
    Vietnam's Tran Dai Quang visits Narendra Modi in New Delhi

    During a state visit by Vietnam's president Tran Dai Quang to New Delhi on Saturday, Quang and India's president Narendra Modi reached agreements to increase trade and investment between the two countries, and to cooperate in development projects in the defense sector and to boost ties in oil and gas exploration.

    Possibly the most significant agreement was a statement which, while not specifically naming China, strongly objected to China's actions in the South China Sea. According to the joint statement issued after the Quang-Modi meeting:

    "27. The two sides re-affirmed their determination and efforts to further cooperate in maintaining peace, stability and development in the Indo-Pacific region as well as in the world at large. They also reiterated the importance of, and the need for complete compliance with international law, notably the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS), including the implementation of international legal obligations in good faith, the maintenance of freedom of navigation and over-flight in the South China Sea, full respect for diplomatic and legal processes, peaceful settlement of disputes without resorting to the threat or use of force, and in accordance with international law. In this regard, both sides support the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and look forward to an early conclusion of an effective and substantive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea."

    In the past, China has used military force to prevent Vietnamese fishing boats from fishing in their own territorial waters.

    A possible future flash point is India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) exploration activities in Vietnam's territorial waters in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese President said, "We highly value projects, including the cooperation in joint oil and gas exploration in the continental shelf of Vietnam."

    The two leaders also signed pacts to provide for cooperation in areas of nuclear energy, trade and agriculture. Times of India and Vietnam News and Business Today (India)

    India's relationship with Southeast Asian nations overshadowed by China

    In the 1990s, India adopted a "Look East" policy, committing the country to actively engage the countries of Southeast Asia in terms of trade, security, and agriculture. Nothing much came out of that policy, and in November 2014, India's prime minister Narendra Modi announced that the "Look East" policy would be replaced by an "Act East" policy.

    Still, not much has happened as a result of the Act East policy, but a highly symbolic event occurred in January, when India held a Republic Day celebration on January 25, and invited the leaders of all ten countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and they all agreed to come. According to a euphoric India media blog:

    "It is unprecedented, to say the least. It is a coup of sorts: the presence of all 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) leaders as chief guests for India’s Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi. This puts much speculation to rest as to whether all 10 heads of governments would be present on the occasion or not.

    Notwithstanding some of these countries maintaining close ties with China, all the Asean leaders have decided to be present for today’s India-Asean Commemorative Summit as well as Republic Day tomorrow. This would send out a clear message that Delhi’s Act East policy complements Asean’s Act West one. India’s focus is now on upping the game to be a player in Southeast Asia to balance power dynamics."

    However, the euphoria was ridiculed by media commentary in other countries, comparing India's influence with that of China. From Singapore:

    "Amidst palpable euphoria at India hosting the heads of all 10 Asean countries as guests of honor at its Republic Day ceremonial parade, preceded a day earlier by an Asean-India summit celebrating the silver anniversary of their relationship, India needs to shed its abiding image of bureaucratic inertia, of being tardy and slovenly in turning its initiatives into action. ...

    China comes across as a Plutus or a Croesus, enticing India's ring of neighbors. India is perceived more like a poor Lazarus. That India has no deep pockets is understandable; what is inexcusable is its bureaucratic sloth and smugness.

    While India remains a laggard, in sharp contrast China sprints ahead. India is seen as chugging along, metaphorically, with a bullock-cart mentality; China has zipped ahead like a Formula One racing car."

    China's media was even more contemptuous:

    "Repeated reports by some Indian media that New Delhi has launched a diplomatic offensive against Beijing are baffling to the Chinese public. India and ASEAN have the right to hold the summit, which exerts no negative effect upon China. However, some Indians are tenacious in exaggerating the meeting's implications to China.

    In fact an examination of the China-Southeast Asia relationship suggests that the situation is not like that the Indian media depicts. ASEAN's trade volume with China is more than six times that of India, and China's investment in the region is 10 times that of India.

    Some members of the Indian elite enjoy engaging in geopolitical bluster. But they cannot truly gauge the reality of India's comprehensive strength and diplomatic experience. They are beginners playing at geopolitics.

    Honestly speaking, Chinese people are not occupied by India. New Delhi is not Beijing's major trading partner, and, despite border disputes, is not an imminent security threat to us Chinese."

    It actually is somewhat surprising that all ten ASEAN country leaders were willing to attend India's Republic Day celebrations. Cambodia and Laos are very close partners with China, and one can imagine that they asked China's permission before attending. Other ASEAN countries have varying relations with China and India, but in most cases China is a more important trading partner.

    Vietnam seems to be the ASEAN country forging the closest links to India, not only economically, but confronting China in the South China Sea. The Diplomat and Times of India (24-Jan) and Straits Times (Singapore, 26-Jan) and Global Times (China) and East-West Center (13-Feb)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Mar-18 World View -- India and Vietnam sign security agreements for the South China Sea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    4-Mar-18 World View -- China pushes to invest heavily in Iraq's energy infrastructure

    African Cédric Bakambu joins China's Sinobo Guoan Football (Soccer) Club

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Burkina Faso terror attack targets France's anti-terror Operation Barkhane


    Burkina Faso soldiers patrol the army's headquarters in Ouagadougou (AFP)
    Burkina Faso soldiers patrol the army's headquarters in Ouagadougou (AFP)

    Eight soldiers died and 12 were seriously wounded on Friday by a major terrorist attack in Ouagadougou, the capital city of Burkina Faso, on the army headquarters and the French embassy. Eight attackers were also killed. Burkina Faso is a landlocked nation in West Africa, and one of the poorest countries in the world.

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

    Burkinabe president Roch Kabore urged the public to be calm on Saturday: "In these difficult moments, I would like to reaffirm to Africa and the entire world my unshakeable faith in the capacity of the Burkinabe people to preserve their dignity and ferociously oppose their enemies."

    Although there were no French casualties, it's thought that the attack was meant to target France's Operation Barkhane, which ws launched in August 2014, and has been effective in targeting al-Qaeda linked terror groups throughout the region.

    Several extremist groups have also vowed to step up attacks on the France-led "G5 Sahel" counter-terrorism force, led by France and containing 5,000 troops from five Sahel nations -- Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and Mauritania.

    However, not surprisingly, many people believe that the level of terrorism is increasing in the region, despite the deployment of these counter-terrorism forces. Radio France International and Deutsche Welle and Reuters and AP

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    China pushes to invest heavily in Iraq's energy infrastructure

    China has been pushing to invest billions of dollars in Iraq's energy infrastructure, especially Iraq's oil fields.

    Iraq is strategically important to China's government, military, and the "One Belt, One Road" grand strategy that supposedly will link everything in Europe and Asia to China by 2050. Any relationship in the Middle East is important to China also because of China's enormous thirst for imported oil.

    China is the world's biggest importer of oil. Any shortage of oil in China could trigger a hard recession in China and lead to unrest. Iraq represents a major opportunity to increase the flow of oil imports.

    In January, it emerged that China intended to construct an oil refinery on the port of Fao on the Arabian Gulf with two Chinese companies, Power China and Nerco Chinese. The refinery would have a capacity to produce 300,000 barrels per day. Iraq has also just awarded a control China-based Zhenhua Oil to further develop Iraq's East Baghdad oilfield. Chinese state-owned enterprises are now the biggest oil investors in Iraq, especially the modernization and development of Iraq’s oil infrastructure.

    Iraq's oil refining capacity was curtailed when the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) overran much of northern Iraq in 2014. Iraq has been recovering, and is now OPEC’s second-largest oil producer, after Saudi Arabia.

    Ironically, both Iraq and Saudi Arabia are restricted in the amount of oil that they can sell to China. The reason is that the OPEC countries have agreed to production limits in order to keep the price of oil from falling. Arab News and Reuters and Xinhua

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    African Cédric Bakambu joins China's Sinobo Guoan Football Club


    Televised introduction of Cédric Bakambu to Beijing's Sinobo Guoan Football (Soccer) Club (Al-Jazeera)
    Televised introduction of Cédric Bakambu to Beijing's Sinobo Guoan Football (Soccer) Club (Al-Jazeera)

    China's Sinobo Guoan Football (Soccer) Club has paid a reported amount of $91 million to sign Cédric Bakambu, making Bakambu the most expensive soccer player in African history. He was born in France, but switched his allegiance to the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2015.

    The reason that I'm including this story is because of the startling screen shot above, which was from Bakambu's televised introduction on Chinese television. The screen shot shows eight people on the team, with Bakambu in the middle in the fourth position. I don't know who all these people are, but the people in positions #5 and #8 appear to be European.

    The others are all Chinese, and they're all doing everything possible to avoid looking at the camera. The person in position #3 is holding up two fingers to his eye which might mean that he's scratching an itch around his eye, or it might mean that he's using his fingers to express disdain in some way to the television audience.

    This video was broadcast on al-Jazeera, and as I watched it I found it really startling. China is known to have some extreme racism issues with Africans, and this screen shot seems to put them on display. BBC Sport

    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Mar-18 World View -- China pushes to invest heavily in Iraq's energy infrastructure thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    3-Mar-18 World View -- Turkey suffers military setback in 'Operation Olive Branch' in Afrin Syria

    Turkey doubles down on Afrin-Manbij operation, despite US opposition

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Turkey suffers military setback in 'Operation Olive Branch' in Afrin Syria


    Turkish special forces being deployed to Afrin, Syria, last month (RT)
    Turkish special forces being deployed to Afrin, Syria, last month (RT)

    Turkey's forces suffered heavy losses on Thursday during its "Operation Olive Branch" in Afrin, with the military announcing that eight soldiers were killed and 13 more wounded, making this the deadliest day for Turkey since the Afrin operation began on January 20. Turkey's defense minister announced that, since the operation began, a total of 41 Turkish soldiers had been killed.

    Turkey considers the YPG Kurds to be terrorists, because they're linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). The PKK has perpetrated large terrorist attacks in Turkey in the last two years, and has conducted an on-and-off separatist insurgency against Turkey's government for thirty years. The US and the EU also consider the PKK to be a terrorist organization, though not the entire YPG.

    The Kurds have set as a goal the creation of an independent state of Rojava along Syria's northern border with Turkey. Turkey considers that objective to be an existential threat.

    Turkey launched the Afrin operation to thwart a YPG objective to establish the state of Rojava. Turkish troops are backed by an estimated 22,000 "moderate rebels" in the Free Syrian Army (FSA), while the YPG is estimated to have about 8,000 to 10,000 fighters in Afrin. According to Turkey's defense minister, 116 fighters from the FSA have been killed since the operation began. Turkey also claims that 2,295 "YPG - PKK - ISIS terrorists" have also been killed.

    According to reports, the Turkish forces that were killed on Thursday were special forces units that had been recently deployed to Afrin. They had been chosen because of their previous urban warfare experience in fighting the PKK. The YPG fighters ambushed the Turkish forces by hiding out in tunnels, and then emerged from the tunnels for the ambush.

    Despite the deaths of Turkish forces, the operation in Afrin appears to have unified the Turkish citizens, at least the citizens who aren't Kurds. Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) is fully supporting the operation:

    "We trust our army, we have no doubt that they will succeed in their mission to fight terror. ...

    We cover the coffins of our martyrs with a Turkish flag. My citizens, let’s hang the Turkish flag on our homes, offices and working places until our martyrs rest in peace."

    However, Kiliçdaroglu has previously said that he does not want Turkish troops to enter Afrin's city center:

    "I do not approve of an offensive into the center of Afrin because it shouldn’t be about capturing a city. Why did we enter the Afrin district [in the first place]? To eliminate terror organizations on our border."

    On Friday, a number of CHP lawmakers went onto their social media accounts, and changed their pictures to an image of the Turkish flag. France 24 and Yeni Safak (Ankara) and Hurriyet (Ankara)

    Turkey doubles down on Afrin-Manbij operation, despite US opposition

    The fact that the operation to take control of Afrin is taking several months instead of several days has the advantage that it has postponed a possible major confrontation for several months, and possibly forever.

    Once the Turkish army has taken control of Afrin, the plan is to move farther east and perform the same operation in the town of Manbij. The problem is that there are also US troops around Manbij. The YPG has been the main fighting force to defeat the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), backed up by weapons, airstrikes and training by US forces.

    Turkey does not distinguish between the YPG, the PKK and ISIS, considering all of them to be terrorists. According to Turkey's deputy prime minister Hakan Cavusoglu, the PKK-YPG terror group have committed many war crimes:

    "The recruitment of children, which is one of the six grave violations identified by the UN resolutions, is just one of the crimes against humanity committed by PKK/YPG.

    PKK/YPG has a bloody record of using land mines and toxic gas, using civilians as human shields, and targeting hospitals, refugee camps and civilian residential areas."

    In mid-February, American Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, at a time when Turkey was saying that the US-Turkey relationship was at a "critical point." Erdogan is particularly infuriated by the weapons and support that the US gives to the so-called "YPG-PKK terrorists." Turkey's foreign minister said, "Ties with the U.S. are at a very critical point. We will either fix these relations or they will break completely."

    At the time, Tillerson said:

    "We are keenly aware of the legitimate security concerns of Turkey, our coalition partner and NATO ally. We will continue to be completely transparent with Turkey about our efforts in Syria to defeat ISIS, and we stand by our NATO ally in its counterterrorism efforts."

    Turkey took that statement to mean that the US and Turkey are allies, and that the US and the YPG are NOT allies.

    On Thursday, an unnamed US official reinforced Tillerson's comment:

    "We are very careful not to use that word [alliance] for the YPG. We are not using the YPG as an ally of the U.S. Our ally is Turkey and that is something that the Secretary [of State Rex] Tillerson emphasized in his remarks in Ankara. We have a long-term, enduring, historic alliance and partnership with Turkey and that is not going to change.

    The U.S. has made it clear from the beginning that our military cooperation with the YPG was a temporary, tactical arrangement aimed entirely at combating [ISIS]. We have made it clear that once ISIS was defeated we would have no plans for an enduring military relationship with the YPG and certainly no plans for an enduring political relationship with the Democratic Union Party [PYD]. That has not changed."

    On Friday, Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim indicated that Turkey is doubling down on the fight with YPG, and that the fight would go beyond Afrin:

    "This operation based on international law and our legitimate rights will continue to the end. [Giving] any day or date [when it will end] is out of the question here.

    [The operation will end after] the complete wiping out and neutralization of terror organizations. Wherever there is terrorism, they will be our target."

    Right now, Turkey's forces appear to be bogged down in Afrin, and this could mean that Turkey's plans to move on to Manbij will never be realized.

    The US military says: "We remain committed to fulfilling our promises regarding the YPG presence in Manbij. It is a city with a lot of people and somebody has to provide security there but our intention is that will not be the YPG."

    That leaves open the question of who will provide security for Manbij. If it's not the US, and it's not the YPG, and it's not the Turks, then perhaps it's a local Arab militia, or perhaps it's Bashar al-Assad's army. This remains to be seen. Anadolu and Washington Examiner and Daily Sabah (Ankara) and Hurriyet (Ankara)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Mar-18 World View -- Turkey suffers military setback in 'Operation Olive Branch' in Afrin Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    2-Mar-18 World View -- Bangladesh formally protests Burma's (Myanmar's) troop buildup near border

    April monsoon rains will have disastrous impact on Rohingya camps in Bangladesh

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Bangladesh formally protests Burma's (Myanmar's) troop buildup near border


    Rohingya refugees' tents are likely to be washed away in the flooding and landslides from the April monsoons (Guardian)
    Rohingya refugees' tents are likely to be washed away in the flooding and landslides from the April monsoons (Guardian)

    Bangladesh summoned Burma's (Myanmar’s) ambassador on Thursday as hundreds of Burmese armed soldiers and police came to a border fence near Burma's border with Bangladesh, and appeared to be moving heavy weapons, including mortars and machine guns, to the area.

    The Burmese troops have been surrounding a strip of land dubbed "no man's land," because it is beyond Myanmar's border fence but on Myanmar's side of a creek that marks the international border. There are about 5,300 Rohingya Muslims living in a makeshift camp in the no man's land area.

    Since 2011, Burma's mostly Buddhist security forces have been committing mass atrocities on mostly Muslim ethnic Rohingyas living in Rakhine State, what the United Nations says is "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing," and which some Western governments are calling genocide. The atrocities by Buddhist security forces include gang rape, violent torture, execution-style killings and the razing of entire villages, in a scorched earth campaign. The atrocities by Buddhist security forces worsened considerably last August when Rohingya activists killed several Burmese security forces in attacks against 30 Burmese police outputs. Many Rohingyas were forced to flee into neighboring Bangladesh. Today, there are about 700,000 Rohingyas living in refugee camps in Bangladesh, and about 5,300 have stayed in the small no man's land camp on the Burma side.

    Myanmar's unexplained military buildup near the Bangladesh border is raising new tensions between the two countries. After Burmese forces have repeatedly conducted mass slaughter and scorched earth operations against Rohingya civilians, it's feared that Burma is about to do it again. Burmese forces have already been using loudspeakers ordering the Rohingyas to get out, and according to some reports have been throwing stones.

    After the Bangladesh protest on Thursday, the Burmese forces near the camp withdrew their heavy weapons, but the troops remained, and they began firing live bullets into the air.

    Last year, under heavy international pressure, Burma agreed to accept the return of hundreds of thousands of refugees that had fled to Bangladesh. The agreement was farcical in that it's never going to happen. It's like the ceasefire that Russia and Syria agreed to as the exterminate civilians in East Ghouta. These agreements are only used as political cover to continue exterminations, genocide, and ethnic cleansing.

    It's not known what the Burmese troops are planning, but no one would be surprised if they're planning a massive new attack on the civilians in the camp, including women and children. BD News (Bangladesh) and Daily Star (Bangladesh) and AP and AFP

    April monsoon rains will have disastrous impact on Rohingya camps in Bangladesh

    Nearly 700,000 Rohingyas have crossed the border from Burma into Bangladesh in just the last six months. Refugee camps were created for them by stripping the land of trees and other vegetation, to make room for shelters, mostly made from tarpaulin and bamboo.

    Many of these shelters were built on slopes and hillsides. When monsoon rains arrive in April, these slopes will turn to mud, and many of these shelters will collapse and be washed away. It's believed that about 100,000 people will be displaced at the time.

    Aid agencies are preparing in advance by setting up emergency medical centers to prepare for spread of diseases like diarrhea, dysentery, and mosquito-borne diseases like dengue, malaria, and others. Light machinery will be installed and work crews established at ten strategic points across the district to clear major drains and waterways after landslides and mud cause road closures and blockages.

    The Rohingya situation has been mostly out of the news for the last few weeks, but it could escalate to a major new crisis very quickly if Burmese troops commit new atrocities on Rohingyas while the monsoon rains displace hundreds of thousands of them.

    Some people claim that Buddhism is a "religion of peace," despite the massive Buddhist on Buddhist genocide in the Killing Fields of Cambodia in 1975-79. For the last six years, it's been clear that the Buddhists in Burma have been taking lessons from their brethren in Cambodia, and are repeating the Cambodia genocide on the Muslim Rohingyas in Burma. Some people claim that Buddhists are better than Muslims, but from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, there is no difference at all between Buddhists and Muslims except that they us different religious justifications when they exterminate, torture and commit atrocities on innocent civilians that they don't like. That's the way the world works. UN Migration Agency and Reuters and Guardian (London)

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    1-Mar-18 World View -- Moving sharply left, South Africa calls for potentially disastrous land reform

    Julius Malema and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) movement

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Moving sharply left, South Africa calls for potentially disastrous land reform


    South Africa's president Cyril Ramaphosa after addressing parliament on Tuesday (Daily Maverick)
    South Africa's president Cyril Ramaphosa after addressing parliament on Tuesday (Daily Maverick)

    In a major shift in public opinion in support of the radical far left Economic Freedom Fighters and its leader Julius Malema, South Africa's parliament has passed overwhelmingly a motion for a constitutional amendment that would allow the government to expropriate land from white-owned farms with no compensation whatsoever.

    A year ago, a similar motion was rejected, with 261 against and 33 in favor. But on Tuesday, the vote was carried with 241 votes in favor, and 83 against. Expropriation of private land without compensation is forbidden by Section 25 of South Africa's constitution, but the overwhelming acceptance of the motion far exceeds the 2/3 majority required to amend the constitution. This change within one year represents a radical shift in public opinion.

    The successful campaign to pass the motion was led by left-wing radical Julius Malema, who was expelled from the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party in 2012, with the expectation that he would die a quick political death. Instead, he's successfully led a racially divisive campaign that's become so popular that the ANC was forced to endorse the land reform proposal, giving it an overwhelming victory.

    Leading the debate in the parliament, Malena said that "it was time for justice" on the land issue:

    "We must ensure that we restore the dignity of our people without compensating the criminals who stole our land."

    According to South Africa's new president, Cyril Ramaphosa, who recently replaced the corrupt Jacob Zuma, taking farmland away from white farmers is necessary because of "land hunger" among blacks:

    "Land dispossession is a defining feature of colonialism and apartheid in SA. Land hunger among black South Africans is genuine and pressing. The time has arrived that we act decisively to resolve this matter. We must repair the damage inflicted upon our people.

    The time has arrived that we act decisively to resolve this matter. We must repair the damage inflicted upon our people.

    By providing more land to more producers for cultivation and by providing the necessary support, we are laying the foundation for what I would call an agricultural revolution. We are determined to work with traditional leaders to significantly expand agriculture not only to ensure food security, but also to create jobs on a significant scale and increase the value of our exports."

    This is a typically meaningless political speech, full of hot air. The promise of an "agricultural revolution" is laughable.

    Ramaphosa also promised that the land expropriation would only be used when the amount of food produced would be increased. This is also laughable.

    What will happen is what always happens in Socialist societies. Thousands of hard-working white farmers and their families will be thrown into the streets, and their farms will be turned over to party cronies who know nothing about farming. This happened in Zimbabwe, and similar things happen in all Socialist countries. This will be a disaster for South Africa's economy, and for all of Africa.

    I've written many times what happened in Zimbabwe. It's hard to believe, but Zimbabwe used to be the breadbasket of southern Africa, growing much more food than the country needed and exporting the rest. Then in 1999 Robert Mugabe instituted a "land reform" plan just like the one that South Africa is about to implement. Within ten years, Zimbabwe was an economic disaster, with mass starvation, a worthless currency, and massive million percent inflation.

    We've seen the same thing happen in Venezuela, as Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro destroyed the economy to the extent that food and medicines and even toilet paper are unavailable.

    Bashar al-Assad is destroying Syria by different means -- with barrel bombs, Sarin gas, and attacks with other chemical weapons, including chlorine, ammonia and phosphorous.

    We now know that North Korea has been supplying components to Syria to manufacture poison gas, and it uses the money to develop nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles capable of carrying the nuclear weapons to the United States, or elsewhere in the world.

    And all this is going on with the support and encourage of China, Russia and Iran.

    This is the club of countries where the leaders are destroying their countries through economic destruction or weapons destruction. It's not surprising that South Africa is now joining that club. Daily Maverick (South Africa) and Business Live (South Africa) and Citizen (South Africa) and News 24 (South Africa)

    Julius Malema and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) movement

    Julius Malema was expelled the ruling ANC in 2012 because he offended large sections of society, and has been accused of racism, sexism and corruption. He was twice convicted of hate speech in 2010 and 2011, for inciting violence against whites.

    However, he has thousands of supporters, mainly poor black South Africans who resent the history of apartheid. In 2013 he formed the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which describes itself as follows on its web site:

    "1. The ECONOMIC FREEDOM FIGHTERS is a radical and militant economic emancipation movement that brings together revolutionary, fearless, radical, and militant activists, workers’ movements, nongovernmental organizations, community-based organizations and lobby groups under the umbrella of pursuing the struggle for economic emancipation.

    2. The EFF is a radical, leftist, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movement with an internationalist outlook anchored by popular grassroots formations and struggles. ...

    5. The EFF is a South African movement with a progressive internationalist outlook, which seeks to engage with global progressive movements. We believe that the best contribution we can make in the international struggle against global imperialism is to rid our country of imperialist domination. For the South African struggle, the EFF pillars for economic emancipation are the following:

    a. Expropriation of South Africa’s land without compensation for equal redistribution in use.

    b. Nationalization of mines, banks, and other strategic sectors of the economy, without compensation."

    We've seen this script before. Socialism has a 100% failure rate, and South Africa is headed in the same direction, starting with the nationalization of farms, and continuing with the nationalization of mines, banks, and other businesses -- all without compensation.

    There are a couple of things that are becoming clear.

    First, you'd have to be crazy to invest in South Africa, because any business could be subject to nationalization without compensation at any time.

    Second, you'd have to be crazy to give foreign aid to South Africa, since any money would just be wasted on corruption.

    A country that goes down the path of nationalizing farms without compensation, with nationalization of other businesses to follow, is a country that cannot be helped. Economic Freedom Fighters online and BBC (30-Sep-2014) and South Africa History

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Mar-18 World View -- Moving sharply left, South Africa calls for potentially disastrous land reform thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    28-Feb-18 World View -- Russia's 'humanitarian pause' in Syria turns into farce on first day

    Report: North Korea is selling chemical weapons supplies to Syria

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Russia's 'humanitarian pause' in Syria turns into farce on first day


    Smoke rising from Eastern Ghouta after air strikes by Syrian and Russian warplanes during the ceasefire on Monday (AFP)
    Smoke rising from Eastern Ghouta after air strikes by Syrian and Russian warplanes during the ceasefire on Monday (AFP)

    We keep seeing the same horrible script played out over and over. What we've seen in the last few days is similar to what we've seen probably a dozen or so times in the UN Security Council in the last few years:

    With regard to the last point, I've heard several interviews with civilians in Ghouta about whether they were going to take advantage of the opportunity to leave Ghouta. They all said pretty much the same thing, that they don't feel safe trying to do so.

    This is not surprising, since they're all pretty much aware of what happened in late 2016 in Aleppo, and two of them actually mentioned that. Allowing civilians to leave is part of the Syrian-Russian strategy. Civilians were allowed to leave Aleppo, and travel to Idlib, where they were killed en masse by Syrian and Russian airstrikes.

    In fact, I've described this strategy several times before. It's called the "Grozny model," named after the capital city of Chechnya and the battle of Grozny. The Russians created a "safe zone" to allow civilians to escape the Grozny siege, and then killed them as they were escaping.

    So in the end, this "ceasefire" in east Ghouta is not a ceasefire at all, and was never intended by the Russians to be a ceasefire. Instead, it provides political cover for an intensification of the war crimes against civilians. There are 400,000 people living in Ghouta, mostly women and children. There are at most 1,000 fighters who might be called "jihadists and terrorists." Russia and Syria are going to use the 1,000 fighters as a reason to kill as many of the 400,000 civilians as they can.

    An analogy in America would be if an American city contained some people from the Black Panthers or Black Lives Matter, then it would be OK, using the Syrian-Russian strategy, for the army and air force to exterminate hundreds of thousands of people in the black neighborhoods in that city, or maybe to permit some of them to escape, and then slaughter them as they leave.

    In my lifetime, I've heard the words "Never again!" applied to the Nazi Holocaust. And I've heard the words "Never again!" applied to the Srebrenica genocide. And I've heard the words "Never again!" applied to the Rwanda genocide. But now it's happening again, just like it's happened before, but instead of stopping the genocide, the United States has become a tool to support the genocide, by having diplomats run around the Security Council and pass farcical ceasefire resolutions that provide cover for the genocide. It's truly astonishing. Sky News and NBC News and Reuters

    Report: North Korea is selling chemical weapons supplies to Syria

    According to an unreleased United Nations report, Syria's president Bashar al-Assad is receiving supplies from North Korea for supplies to be used to manufacture chemical weapons. These supplies include acid-resistant tiles, valves and thermometers.

    We can assume that North Korea is selling this technology to Syria to make money and get around UN sanctions. We can also assume that either Iran or Russia is providing the money to Bashar al-Assad. Who knows? Maybe it's some of the money that Iran has gained from the removal of sanctions after signing the nuclear deal.

    At any rate, we can be pretty certain that if the North Korea is able to complete its development of nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles, then it will sell that technology to any rogue state willing to pay for it. CNN and Axios

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    Areas of control in Syria and Iraq


    Map of Syria and Iraq showing areas of control (Deutsche Welle)
    Map of Syria and Iraq showing areas of control (Deutsche Welle)

    I wanted to reference this map because it's one of the best that I've seen, and easiest to understand what's going on.

    There are several things that one can see from the map:

    As I've described before, there at least 14 armies and militias operating in Syria now: Syria, Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, Turkey, Free Syrian Army (FSA), Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), People’s Protection Units (YPG), Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Israel, United States, al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), and the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

    This is a country in complete chaos, with a war criminal and sociopathic genocidal leader, Bashar al-Assad, and with a proxy war that's nowhere near ending.

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

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    27-Feb-18 World View -- Saudi Arabia sacks its top tier of military commanders as Yemen war drags on

    From missile strikes and bombings to cholera, war-torn Yemen deteriorates

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    From missile strikes and bombings to cholera, war-torn Yemen deteriorates


    Saudi Arabia's 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (AFP)
    Saudi Arabia's 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (AFP)

    Saudi Arabia officials say that the war in Yemen is proceeding successfully. But few people believe that. When the war began in March 2015, the Saudis thought that they'd win quickly. The Iran-backed Houthis, which represent about 15% of Yemen's population, with a stronghold in northwest Yemen, had invaded and taken control of Yemen's capital city Sanaa in late 2014, and drove out the Saudi-supported ethnic Sunni government.

    So the Saudis formed a coalition with United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt, and began airstrikes in March 2015, believing that this would force the Houthis to the negotiating table, where they'd sue for peace.

    It hasn't worked out that way, as the Houthis proved extremely resilient and even gained additional territory.

    What the airstrikes HAVE accomplished is to turn Yemen into a humanitarian disaster. Yemen relies heavily on food imports and is on the brink of famine. In order to prevent import of Iranian weapons to the Houthis, the Saudis have blockaded the ports, but this has also made it impossible to import food, medicines and other humanitarian aid. Yemen was already one of the poorest countries in the world, but the blockade made things much worse. The result is that, of Yemen's 25 million population, more than 22 million are desperately need of food and humanitarian assistance, including 11.3 million in acute need.

    The country is also facing a cholera epidemic, which has already killed thousands of people. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of cholera infections had been in decline in Yemen over the past 20 weeks after it hit the 1 million mark of suspected cases. But now that's going to change again, because Yemen is entering a new phase of rainy seasons. The country had also had an outbreak of diphtheria, a disease that usually affects children, and can be prevented with vaccines.

    In addition to famine and disease, Yemen is also targeted by a resilient so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). On Saturday, two car bomb explosions killed at least six people and wounded 43 others in the southern port city of Aden, which is the stronghold of what's left of the Sunni government. ISIS claimed credit for the bombings.

    On the other hand, a high-level Saudi researcher says:

    "I find the English proverb “slow and steady” the best way to describe the decisive course the war in Yemen is taking, with the crisis coming to an end along with the restoration of hope.

    A continuous collapse of the Iran-backed Houthi militia is obvious from the outcome of battles, with the advance of the national armies supported by the coalition forces that uphold legitimacy."

    That would have to be considered the optimistic Saudi view of the war, but this is not widely believed. Reuters and Bloomberg and Al Arabiya (Riyadh)

    Saudi Arabia sacks its top tier of military commanders

    In a series of late-night royal decrees, Saudi Arabia's King Salman sacked the country's top military commanders and the headers of the ground forces and air defenses.

    It's believed that the firings are the work of the 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as "MBS", who is also the defense minister, and who has forced rapid change in the kingdom, including the arrests of dozens of high level government officials on charges of corruption.

    MBS is also believed to have been the instigator of the Yemen war. The fact that the war did not end in a quick victory, but instead appears to be an unending disaster, is being blamed on MBS himself.

    Saudi Arabia announced the military firings without providing any reasons. However, it's believed that the firings are related to the lack of success in the Yemen war.

    Reportedly, these firing represent a generational change in the leadership of the military, and that the older leaders were fired and are being replaced by other military figures who are younger and who are thought to be loyal to MBS. Saudi Press Agency and BBC and Reuters and Bloomberg

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    26-Feb-18 World View -- New book documents extensive Chinese infiltration into Australia's organizations

    New Zealand investigates attacks on author of report on China's infiltration into New Zealand

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    New book documenting China's infiltration into Australia overcomes Chinese threats


    China's foreign minister Wang Yi and Australia's foreign minister Julie Bishop, on 7-Feb-2017
    China's foreign minister Wang Yi and Australia's foreign minister Julie Bishop, on 7-Feb-2017

    A new book detailing China's infiltration into Australia's government and institutions is finally being published on Monday, after publication was repeatedly blocked because of intense pressure by China's government on publishers.

    The book, titled "Silent Invasion: How China Is Turning Australia into a Puppet State," was written by Clive Hamilton, a left of center professor of public ethics at Charles Sturt University. It was supposed to be published in November by Australian publisher Allen & Unwin, which had published 8 previous books by Hamilton.

    However, the publisher's chief executive, Robert Gorman, cancelled plans at the last minute to publish to book. He wrote an e-mail message to Hamilton saying:

    "We have no doubt that Silent Invasion is an extremely significant book. [But we are concerned about] potential threats to the book and the company from possible action by Beijing. ... The most serious of these threats was the very high chance of a vexatious defamation action against Allen & Unwin, and possibly against you personally as well."

    The publisher had told Hamilton that he would have to heavily edit the book and remove large portions of the text to get it published. According to Hamilton:

    "Last week Allen & Unwin did express some legal concerns but despite that I thought they were resolved to publish it, so it was a complete shock.

    The Chinese government’s campaign is far more extensive than ever previously understood. If you’re going to analyze how Beijing is influencing Australian society and politics you have to analyze that activity of individuals and name names, and that’s what I’ve done. It’s a factual book with 1,100 footnotes and it has been meticulously researched, but short of redacting 100 names from the book there’s always the possibility someone might launch a vexatious legal act against the publisher, in this case Allen & Unwin."

    In January of this year another publisher, Melbourne University Press became the second leading publisher to cancel plans to publish the book. Reportedly, a university official was concerned about Beijing’s ability to dissuade students from attending the university if MUP published the book.

    In one of the online articles about this story, a commenter wrote that he could walk into any bookstore or library in Australia and find a dozen books that accused the CIA of controlling Australia's government and institutions, and no one would care. However, just one book about China is causing a furious, threatening response from China.

    There are very real concerns about publishing material not approved by the Chinese Communist Party. Within China itself, every publication is closely censored, and writing or even reading any unapproved publication can land a person in jail subject to severe and repeated torture.

    China's censorial reach extends past the mainland. In 2015, five Hong Kong booksellers whose shops contain books critical of Xi and the CCP were abducted and thrown into jail in Beijing. Four were eventually released – three "confessed" and have remained mute, while one spoke of his torture. The fifth is still imprisoned.

    Foreign citizens are not immune. In January, Swedish citizen Gui Minhai, a Hong Kong book publisher, was arrested in China while accompanied by Swedish diplomats. Sweden's foreign minister Margot Wallstrom said the "brutal intervention" against Swedish consular support for Gui took place despite Chinese promises. But this is an ordinary example of how the Chinese cannot be trusted about anything. Guardian (London, 13-Nov-2017) and West Australia Today (28-Nov-2017) and South China Morning Post (6-Feb) and New Matilda (7-Feb)

    New Zealand investigates attacks on author of report on China's infiltration into New Zealand

    Two weeks ago I wrote about how University of Canterbury professor Anne-Marie Brady in New Zealand had been threatened and robbed after writing a report on China's infiltration into New Zealand's government.

    Brady's home was broken into and three laptops, two cellphones and an encrypted memory stick were taken. She received a threatening letter, two months after her university office was robbed.

    Brady's report and complaints about threats had been met with skepticism by the government, but finally prime minister Jacinda Ardern has ordered an investigation into the break-in.

    In that article, I quoted extensively from Brady's report, entitled "Magic Weapons: China's political influence activities under Xi Jinping" to show in detail how the infiltration and propaganda works in New Zealand. Much of what I quoted applies equally to Australia.

    As Brady's report explains, China's president Xi Jinping once used the term "magic weapon" to refer to China's United Front Work Department. Officially it focuses on building support for the Communist Party in China, but it's become a coercive propaganda tool targeting Chinese globally, especially in Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., and Canada, but in other countries as well. The agency particularly surveils and targets Chinese students abroad and foreign universities to adopt language that favors pro-Beijing policies, such as delegitimizing Taiwan, and Western ideals and values, such as liberal democracy, Christianity, or Falun Gong.

    The United Front Work Department, Xi Jinping's "Magic Weapon," is as dangerous to Australia as it is to New Zealand. Stuff (New Zealand)

    Hamilton's book 'Silent Invasion' describes China's infiltration into Australia

    By early February, the inability of Clive Hamilton to get his book published because of legal threats from China was causing some alarm to members of the Australian parliament's national security committee, and they actually considered having the parliament serve as publisher of the manuscript. That would have protected Hamilton from being sued, but questions were also raised about the appropriateness of giving a special privilege to a particular author.

    Finally, the book was recently acquired by Hardie Grant, run by Sandy Grant, who in the 1980s published the controversial memoir of former British intelligence officer Peter Wright. The publication occurred against the wishes of the British government, which was trying to censor the book.

    Clive Hamilton says that he became interested in this subject in 2008. He was at Parliament House in Canberra when the Beijing Olympic torch relay passed through. He watched in bewilderment as a small pro-Tibet protest was overrun by thousands of angry Chinese students. They came out of nowhere and seemed to shut down the pro-Tibet protests, and the authorities did nothing about it. What was going on?

    In 2016 it was revealed that wealthy Chinese businessmen linked to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had become the largest donors to both major political parties. Hamilton realized something big was happening, and decided to investigate the Chinese government's influence in Australia. His research revealed evidence of CCP influence and infiltration in politics, culture, real estate, agriculture, universities, unions, and even primary schools.

    According to the book, China's influence peddling is caused, in part, by a recent wave of Chinese migration to Australia including "billionaires with shady histories and tight links to the [Chinese Communist] party, media owners creating Beijing mouthpieces, 'patriotic' students brainwashed from birth, and professionals marshalled into pro-Beijing associations set up by the Chinese embassy."

    The book lists more than 40 former and sitting Australian politicians allegedly doing the work of China's totalitarian Government, if sometimes unwittingly. Many are household names. According to the book, "[Former prime ministers Bob] Hawke and [Paul] Keating, when their political careers ended they went on to become reliable friends of China, shuttling between the two countries, mixing with the top cadres and tycoons. While Hawke's China links proved lucrative, Keating was more interested in influence." Sydney Morning Herald (5-Feb) and Boffins Books and Australian Broadcasting

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    25-Feb-18 World View -- China angrily demands that the US retract the new North Korea sanctions

    As North Korea's 'charm offensive' fades, decision time for military action approaches

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    As North Korea's 'charm offensive' fades, decision time for military action approaches


    Picture of North Korean vessel conducting ship-to-ship transfer of goods with the Panama-flagged KOTI in order to evade sanctions (Dept. of Treasury)
    Picture of North Korean vessel conducting ship-to-ship transfer of goods with the Panama-flagged KOTI in order to evade sanctions (Dept. of Treasury)

    There's a growing feeling that the "crunch time" with North Korea is close. Already, as we reported two days ago, the North is sending its most notorious military general to lead the North Korean delegation in the Winter Olympics in Seoul on Sunday. Kim Yong-chol is the North Korean general who masterminded the devastating attacks on South Korean targets in 2010, and the North is insulting the South by sending him to the closing ceremony, and is signaling that its "charm offensive" has ended.

    Because of the North's charm offensive, South Korea and the US agreed to postponed their planned joint military drills until March 18, when the Olympics and Paralympics games finally end. It's believed that South Korea and the US have agreed on a date around April 1 to restart them, and that will infuriate the North Koreans.

    As we've also reported, North Korea has resumed development of nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles, even as the "charm offensive" was in progress.

    We've known for a long time that at some point, the US is going to face a stark choice: Either accept a nuclear North Korea with an arsenal of nuclear-tipped missiles pointed at the United States, and accept that this nuclear missile technology will be sold to any nation or terrorist group willing to pay cash, or take military action, a "bloody nose attack" on North Korea that will disable their nuclear missile development, at least for a while.

    We've known this for some time, and now we've almost completely run out of time. One choice or the other will have to be made soon. And obviously there's only one choice. Numerous administration officials have made it clear that North Korea will not be permitted to have a nuclear weapon and ballistic missile system that can reach the United States. Newsweek and Fox News

    New Trump administration sanctions target companies trading with North Korea

    The Trump administration's announcement on Friday of new sanctions has the feel of desperation, and last desperate attempt to avoid having to make the stark choice just described. Furthermore, president Donald Trump warned of an unnamed "phase two," presumably a military action, that could be "very, very unfortunate for the world" if the sanctions did not work.

    The new sanctions don't directly target North Korea. Instead, they target shipping, trading companies and vessels that from other countries that have been used to allow the North Koreans to cheat on the existing sanctions.

    A particular practice that the sanctions target is ship-to-ship transfers. A ship carrying goods that are bound for North Korea does not actually dock in North Korea. Instead, the ship has a rendezvous with a North Korean ship in the middle of the sea, and the goods are transferred from the first ship to the North Korean ship. At the same time, goods from the North Korean can be transferred to the other ship for illegal export.

    At a briefing, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin stood next to enlarged photos from December 2017 that he said revealed ship-to-ship transfers of fuel and other products destined for North Korea in an attempt to evade sanctions. The picture at the beginning of this article depicts such a December 9 rendezvous between a North Korean vessel and the Panama-flagged KOTI, for an illegal ship-to-ship transfer.

    The sanctions are aimed at ships located, registered or flagged in numerous countries, including China, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Marshall Islands, Tanzania, Panama and the Comoros.

    Examples of international shipping companies that are sanctioned include the following:

    Mnuchin said he could not rule out the prospect of the United States boarding and inspecting North Korean ships.

    The announcement stops short of a full blockade of North Korea, as that could be considered an act of war. Reuters and Dept. of Treasury

    China angrily demands that the US retract the new North Korea sanctions

    China angrily denounced the latest American sanctions on North Korea. It was China's latest in a series of denunciations of any sanctions against North Korea not imposed within the framework of the United Nations. As I explained recently, Russia and China have adopted a policy of using the UN Security Council to control US foreign policy by demanding that any action be approved by the UNSC where they have a veto. However, Russia and China feel free to take any illegal action they wish without asking for UNSC approval. So this is another example of that policy.

    China's Foreign Ministry issued this statement on Saturday:

    "The Chinese government has been comprehensively and strictly implementing the Security Council resolutions on the DPRK and fulfilling its international obligations, and never allows any Chinese citizen or company to engage in activities in violation of the Security Council resolutions. If any breach of the Security Council resolutions and Chinese laws and regulations is found out through investigation, the Chinese side will seriously deal with it in accordance with laws and regulations.

    The Chinese side firmly opposes the US imposing unilateral sanctions and "long-arm jurisdiction" on Chinese entities or individuals in accordance with its domestic laws. We have lodged stern representations with the US side over this, urging it to immediately stop such wrongdoings so as not to undermine bilateral cooperation on the relevant area."

    Reports indicate that South Korea, Singapore, Japan and other Asian countries are endorsing the US-imposed sanctions, and are willing to cooperate in enforcing them. China evidently is not.

    Mnuchin said he could not rule out the prospect of the United States boarding and inspecting North Korean ships, but this presumably does not apply to China's ships. However, there are Chinese companies targeted in the sanctions, and they will be prohibited from financial transactions in US banks and elsewhere. This is one more potential flash point and the growing North Korea crisis, which may be close to the day of its dénouement. Foreign Ministry of China and VOA and Reuters

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    24-Feb-18 World View -- US embassy to Jerusalem will commemorate Israel's founding -- Palestinian 'Naqba Day'

    Already furious Palestinians condemn embassy move on 'Naqba Day' -- 'Catastrophe Day'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    US will move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem on May 14


    US Consulate General in Jerusalem, to be used as interim embassy after May 14 (YNet)
    US Consulate General in Jerusalem, to be used as interim embassy after May 14 (YNet)

    The US State Dept. announced on Friday that the US will move its official embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv on May 14, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the founding of Israel. The move had not been expected until the end of 2019, so this announcement caught many Israelis and Palestinians by surprise.

    Plans for a new US embassy building in Jerusalem are still a long way off, so the May 14 move will be little more than symbolic. the U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, along with a small staff, will move on May 14 into an office building in Jerusalem housing the current Consulate General in Jerusalem, making that building the new interim embassy. The current embassy building in Tel Aviv will be renamed the US Consulate, and will continue to house the bulk of the U.S. diplomatic staff in Israel.

    At the same time, a search will begin for the site of a new US embassy building in Jerusalem. This search will be fraught with problems, according to the opinion of an Israeli analyst forwarded to me by a reader. The problems include the following:

    YNet and Reuters and Newsweek

    State Dept. considers accepting private donations to pay for the embassy

    A big problem facing a new embassy building in Jerusalem is the cost, expected to be into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

    The State Department attorneys are looking into the legality of accepting private donations to help pay for the construction of the new embassy. The question is being discussed because Sheldon Adelson, a pro-Israeli billionaire who has contributed tens of millions of dollars to the Republican Party, has offered to pay for some or all of the embassy costs.

    Whether it's legal to allow one private individual to pay for the building costs of an official government building is currently being discussed, as it would be a significant departure from historical practice. In one possible scenario, the administration would solicit contributions not only from Adelson but potentially from other donors in the evangelical Christian and American Jewish communities, too.

    Allowing Adelson to contribute would also raise national and international political issues in a situation where just the decision to move the embassy has already proved highly controversial. It could also raise new, unexpected issues. For example, would Adelson's name be on the building? AP and VOX

    Already furious Palestinians condemn embassy move on 'Naqba Day' -- 'Catastrophe Day'

    Donald Trump's December announcement that the embassy would move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, seeming to preclude having East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, has infuriated Palestinian leaders, who said that the announcement proves that the US under Donald Trump is not an honest mediator, but is clearly biased in Israel's favor.

    Saeb Erekat, the former Palestinian chief peace negotiator said last month:

    "Jerusalem is not off the negotiations table, rather the U.S. is outside the international consensus.

    Those who say that Jerusalem is off the table are saying that peace is off the table. The holy city is in the hearts of each and every Palestinian, Arab, Christian and Muslim, and there will be no peace without East Jerusalem being the sovereign capital of the State of Palestine.

    Trump could buy many things with his money, but he won’t be able to buy the dignity of our nation."

    With Friday's announcement moving up the date to May 14, an advisor to Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas said:

    "We know the Americans are coordinating every step with (Israeli President Benjamin) Netanyahu, but they do not do the same with President Abbas. In the end this is not good for peace, and no good for themselves, their own standing.

    What we want is a clear statement that will allow the Palestinians to have a state of their own, independent, within the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital."

    What is particularly infuriating to Palestinians is that May 14 is "Naqba Day" -- the "Day of Catastrophe" -- the day that the Palestinians commemorate every year for the founding of Israel.

    Saeb Erekat said that the move is a violation of international law:

    "The American administration's decisions to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and choose the Palestinian people's Naqba as the date for this step is a blatant violation of international law. [The result will be] the destruction of the two-state option, as well as a blatant provocation to all Arabs and Muslims."

    May 14, the Day of Catastrophe (Naqba) is an extremely bitter day among Palestinians, not only because it was the day of Israel's independence, but because the "catastrophe" refers to the Arabs' catastrophic loss to the Jews in the Arab-Israeli War of 1948, a loss that many Arabs blame on themselves.

    According to Palestinian narratives, between 1947-49, Israelis ethnically cleansed and destroyed about 530 Palestinian villages and cities, and killed about 15,000 Palestinians in a series of mass atrocities, leaving 750,000 Palestinians from a 1.9 million population without a home.

    Israelis respond that the clashes were launched by Arab Liberation Army volunteers who attacked Jewish cities, settlements and armed forces, followed by an invasion by Arab armies from Lebanon, Transjordan, Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

    However much Arabs are angry at Israelis for winning the war, many Arabs are even more angry at Arab leaders of the time for losing the war. Arab armies that attacked Israel expected an easy victory within a day or two over a tiny, fledgling country that was not perceived as a serious threat. They vastly underestimated the abilities of the Jewish militias in Palestine, who were well-prepared and well-organized and had many experienced fighters who had served in units of the British Army during World War II.

    But the strongest Arab condemnations of all are that the Arab armies fought among themselves almost as much as they fought against the Jews. While Arab leaders claimed to be fighting for Palestine, they were actually fighting each other in a war of individual interests and conflicting goals. The rivalries between the Arab militias and armies contrasted with the much more unified Israeli militias and armies.

    From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the most important factor to understand is that the 1948 war was a generational crisis war for the Jews, but was an Awakening era war for the Arabs. World War II was not a crisis war for the Arabs. In the Crisis era mood, the Jews were extremely unified and nationalistic.

    But the Arabs' previous generational crisis war was World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Just as the United States fought the Vietnam War half-heartedly during its Awakening era in the 1960s, the Arabs fought the 1948 Arab-Israeli war half-heartedly in its Awakening era. This generational timeline difference in public mood appears to have been the major factor in the Israelis' victory over the Arabs. Haaretz (25-Jan) and USA Today and Al-Jazeera and AFP and Al-Jazeera (13-Jul-2009)

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    23-Feb-18 World View -- Syria, Russia, Iran conduct full-on mass extermination of civilians in Eastern Ghouta

    North Korea insults South Korea with selection of Kim Yong-chol head of Olympics closing ceremony

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Syria, Russia, Iran conduct full-on mass extermination of civilians in Eastern Ghouta


    Eastern Ghouta buildings destroyed by airstrikes and shelling from Bashar al-Assad's armed forces (AP)
    Eastern Ghouta buildings destroyed by airstrikes and shelling from Bashar al-Assad's armed forces (AP)

    Western leaders are expressing horror at the siege of Eastern Ghouta in Syria, which is amounting to mass extermination of innocent civilians, potentially including tens of thousands of innocent women and children. The siege and the mass extermination are being led by Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, and backed by Russia's president Vladimir Putin, and Iran's Supreme Leader Seyed Ali Khamenei. All three of these people -- al-Assad, Putin and Khamenei -- are massively committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, and all three should be condemned as the worst kinds of war criminals, the worst war criminals so far this century.

    Hundreds of people have been killed just since Sunday from missiles, shell fire, and barrel bombs packed with explosives and metal and laced with chlorine gas. The war criminals are particularly targeting bakeries, so people will starve, and hospitals, so the wounded can't be treated, as well as food and aid convoys. Bashar al-Assad, who considers the 400,000 residents of Eastern to be cockroaches to be exterminated, wants to make sure that the baby cockroaches, in his view, won't grow up to be adult cockroaches.

    The siege is a repeat of the similar attack on East Aleppo at the end of 2016. There were 275,000 people in Aleppo, and it took al-Assad, Putin and Khamenei six months to destroy the city enough to "take control." By the end, the city was almost completely deserted, since thousands of people had been able to escape from the city and flee to the countryside.

    In East Ghouta, there are 400,000 people and, unlike in Aleppo, there is no escape. All 400,000 people are trapped in Ghouta, waiting to be exterminated.

    According to reports, Syrian army forces are massing, and could enter Ghouta for the final slaughter at any time.

    The justification used by al-Assad, Putin and Khamenei is that among the 400,000 civilians there are some jihadists. An analogy in America would be if an American city contained some people from the Black Panthers or Black Lives Matter, then it would be OK with al-Assad, Putin and Khamenei for the army and air force to exterminate all the people in the black neighborhoods in that city. United Nations and AP and BBC and Middle East Eye

    Russia rejects 30-day ceasefire in United Nations Security Council


    Inspired by the Oscar-nominated film 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,' three billboards circle the United Nations on Thursday for three hours to demand action on Syria from the Security Council (AFP)
    Inspired by the Oscar-nominated film 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,' three billboards circle the United Nations on Thursday for three hours to demand action on Syria from the Security Council (AFP)

    Sweden and Kuwait presented a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council for a 30-day ceasefire in Eastern Ghouta, during which food and humanitarian aid could be delivered to the residents.

    This of course is completely laughable, since al-Assad, Putin and Khamenei are interesting in exterminating people, not a ceasefire. Ironically, Eastern Ghouta is already a ceasefire zone, having been designated by Russia as one of the four "de-confliction zones," based on the agreements signed with Turkey and Iran in Astana, Kazakhstan. Putin said that it would be a ceasefire zone, but as with everything that Putin says, it was a lie designed to cover up future extermination plans. This lying as a cover up has been used repeatedly by Putin in Syria, Ukraine, Crimea, Georgia, and elsewhere.

    Needless to say, Russia has done everything possible to sabotage the draft resolution by offering numerous amendments to do things like exempt jihadists and terrorist. However, since al-Assad, Putin and Khamenei consider everyone in Ghouta, including innocent women and children, to be "terrorists," these amendments make the resolution meaningless. If there's ever a vote on a meaningful resolution, then Russia will veto it.

    It never ceases to amaze me how the original principles of the United Nations have been turned on their head, and the UN is now used as a cover and a tool to support war crimes and genocide rather than prevent them.

    As I wrote in 2011, Russia adopted a specific policy of using the UN Security Council as a tool to control the foreign policy of the United States, Europe and NATO, while leaving itself free to pursue any policy it wanted. ( "22-Apr-11 News -- Russia seeks to cripple Nato through Libya United Nations politics")

    The way it works is that Russia demands that all actions taken by Nato be approved by the U.N. Security Council, where Russia has a veto, giving Russian an effective veto over all Nato operations. The Russians then can invade Ukraine, invade and annex Crimea, and commit war crimes in Syria with complete freedom and impunity, because of the double standard -- they never ask approval of the UNSC, while they insist that NATO do nothing without getting UNSC approval.

    Russia has worked with China to carry this policy even further. Russia and China have been invaded and annexed other countries' regions, just as Hitler did. This is something that the United Nations was formed specifically to prevent. But all the UN can do now is whatever Russia and China force it to do, using vetoes and ignoring international law. Incredibly, China is building massive military bases in the South China Sea, and completely ignoring United Nations court decisions that declare them illegal. And yet they insist that the United States and all other countries be completely restricted by UN laws.

    It's absolutely incredible how Russia and China have now only completely crippled the United Nations, but actually done worse -- they're using the United Nations as a tool to subvert and enable the crimes that the UN was formed to prevent. It's a truly remarkable historic event, and it shows again how the world is headed for World War III.

    After World War II, historians analyzed the failure of the League of Nations, and in the end blamed it on the United States for not joining. So the US joined the League of Nations' successor, the United Nations, and even agreed to host it in New York. But now, 71 years later, the United Nations is failing for the same kinds of reasons that the League of Nations failed. In a generational Crisis era, there is no will to enforce the principles for which the organization was formed, and essentially the organization is taken over by criminals. History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes. Middle East Eye and United Nations and BBC and Reuters and AFP

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    North Korea insults South Korea with selection of Kim Yong-chol head of Olympics closing ceremony

    North Korea is insulting and provoking the South Koreans by saying that it has selected Kim Yong-chol to head the North Korean high-level delegation to the closing ceremony of the Olympics games on Sunday.

    Kim Yong-chol is the vice chairman of the Workers Party Central Committee, and is the mastermind of two major attacks on South Korean targets. In May 2010, North Korea torpedoed and sank the warship Cheonan, killing 46 of South Korean crew members, and in November 2010, North Korea killed South Korean civilians by shelling Yeonpyeong Island.

    Incredibly, Kim Yong-chol is the man that the North will send to lead the festivities on Sunday, and South Korea's president Moon Jae-in is expected to roll out the red carpet for him. Kim Yong-chol has been blacklisted and sanctioned by both South Korea and the US, and he is currently in charge of North Korea's department in charge of the regime's agitation against South Korea.

    The families of the victims of the Cheonan and Yeonpyeong attacks are furious at what's happening. It appears that North Korea's latest charm offensive is suddenly over. Chosun Ilbo (Seoul)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Feb-18 World View -- Syria, Russia, Iran conduct full-on mass extermination of civilians in Eastern Ghouta thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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    22-Feb-18 World View -- Cobalt for Apple iPhones means more money and weapons for DR Congo's corrupt leader Joseph Kabila

    Thousands of children work as cobalt miners in DR Congo

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    DR Congo's corrupt leader, Joseph Kabila, seeks to cash in on rise in cobalt prices


    About 40,000 children, some as young as five years old, work as cobalt miners in DR Congo (Sky News)
    About 40,000 children, some as young as five years old, work as cobalt miners in DR Congo (Sky News)

    The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) announced last month that it would be increase the royalty on cobalt exports from to 10% from 2%. The new taxes would be paid by international mining firms operating in DRC, including African miner Randgold Resources, China Molybdenum Company Limited, Swiss firm Glencore plc, and MMG Ltd, an Australian-Chinese venture.

    However, these four multinational firms will be challenging the royalty increases in court, based on a contractual relationship with DRC that locks in the 2% rate, and can only be changed with ten years notice.

    DRC is the world's largest producer of cobalt, providing 58% of global production. Other countries produce far less, including, in decreasing order, Russia (5%), Australia, Canada, Cuba, Philippines (3.6%), Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, Zambia and New Caledonia (2.5%).

    Demand for cobalt has been surging, because it's an essential ingredient of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in iPhones and other devices. And a big additional surge is expected in the next three years, to provide for rechargeable batteries in electric cars. A typical smartphone uses about 8 grams of refined cobalt, while the battery for an electric car requires over 1,000 times more. The result is that cobalt prices more than doubled in 2017.

    In order to protect its supply of cobalt, Apple Inc. is in talks to buy long-term supplies of cobalt directly from miners, such as Glencore. Until now, Apple has left the business of buying cobalt to the companies that make the batteries. Apple is seeking contracts to secure several thousand metric tons of cobalt a year for five years or longer.

    However, other companies are believed also to be trying to lock up cobalt supplies. Thus, Apple will be in competition with companies like BMW AG, Volkswagen AG and Samsung SDI Co. AFP and Investing News and Bloomberg

    Tanganyika province in DR Congo faces a humanitarian disaster of 'extraordinary proportions'

    It seems that there's no end to the list of horrific stories about Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In the past, I've written about the bloody wars in the southwestern Kasai region, where the armies and militias reporting to the government of president Joseph Kabila are committing genocide; about the bloody tribal wars in northeastern Kivu region, causing massive refugee flows into Uganda; about the massive corruption of Joseph Kabila, skimming billions of dollars out of the treasury and providing it to his family and cronies; and of his repeated stunts of refusing to hold elections, so that he can't be replaced as president.

    Now there's a new horrific story. In southeastern DRC in Tanganyika province, there's a growing "humanitarian disaster of extraordinary proportions," according to the UN. There have been bloody clashes between militias of two ethnic groups -- the Luba, a Bantu ethnic group, and the Twa, a Pygmy ethnic group. The violence has been going on for four years, and surged in mid-2016, with killings, abductions and rapes. Since January of this year, most of the violence has been perpetrated Kabila's Congolese armed forces at road blocks.

    Tanganyika province is three times the size of Switzerland with a population of about 3 million, of whom 630,000 have been displaced by the fighting, a number that has almost doubled in a year.

    A report by the International Rescue Committee describes the situation in detail, and provides the following historical context:

    "The conflict in Tanganyika is rooted in the long-standing marginalization of all the indigenous ethnic groups commonly referred to as Pygmies in central Africa, of which the Twa form one of the main groups. The Pygmies were the first inhabitants of the DRC, living as nomadic hunter-gatherers at the fringes of forest-savanna areas. However, Bantu tribes, primarily relying on agriculture for their livelihoods, started migrating into the Congo River Basin at the beginning of the first millennium, progressively displacing Pygmies toward ever more remote forest areas. Over time, the Bantu exerted their control over land and established hereditary, hierarchized and interrelated tribal power structures that excluded Pygmies.19 These tribal or customary power structures still underlie to this day the configuration of local governments in DRC, especially at the village and cluster levels, along with chiefdoms. This also explains in good part the absence of the Twa from positions of power in Tanganyika.

    During colonial times and since independence, the cutting of forests for logging, agriculture, cattle herding, and mining, combined with the creation of national parks, gradually pushed the Pygmies out of forests. This resulted in an accelerating trend toward sedentary life for those populations. Sedentarization, accompanied by a significant reduction in access to forest resources, and limited access to land, has resulted in systematically higher poverty for Pygmy populations relative to the Bantu majority. Unsurprisingly, this led the author of a World Bank report to summarize their situation in this manner: “Pygmies in DRC can best be described as poor, vulnerable and marginalized.” This higher poverty and vulnerability also characterize the situation of the Twa in Tanganyika.

    In Tanganyika, the majority of the Twa population is sedentary or semi-sedentary. They are typically settled near roads and Bantu villages, where they can work as agricultural day laborers and maintain some access to forest resources. While some Twas have fields and practice agriculture, land rights in DRC remain rooted in the customary practices of Bantu chiefs. As a result, the Twa have limited access to land that is contingent on Bantu customary village chiefs allocating land in exchange for a customary tax (typically a variable share of the annual crop). Bantu customary chiefs also collect similar taxes for hunting, fishing or artisanal mining activities."

    The phrase "pushed out" can be assumed to be a euphemism for dozens of bloody generational crisis wars, that have been going on for almost 2,000 years, according to the report. Pygmy groups such as the Twa are at an enormous disadvantage in these wars because they're shorter than their Bantu enemies. It appears that a generational crisis war is going on at the current time, but that can't be confirmed without a great deal of additional historical research.

    It seems likely that what's tying the situation in Tanganyika together with the story about cobalt is that Kabila is looking for new money with which to buy weapons to kill people, or to provide to his family and cronies. The United States has threatened to cut off aid to DRC if there are no presidential elections this year, and Kabila may be using the cobalt tax as a way of replacing the aid. Reuters and Al Jazeera and International Rescue Committee

    Thousands of children work as cobalt miners in DR Congo

    UNICEF estimates that about 40,000 boys and girls, some as young as five years old, work as cobalt miners in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Some dig holes and go down into the pits, while others work above ground, sifting through leftover rubble and rock, searching for bits of ore which they then sort and wash. Many children become extremely ill from inhaling the dust from mining.

    Most of the mined cobalt is sent to China, where it is used in the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries which are then sold to companies like Apple and Samsung. Sky News and Amnesty International (June 2016)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Feb-18 World View -- Cobalt for Apple iPhones means more money and weapons for DR Congo's corrupt leader Joseph Kabila thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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    21-Feb-18 World View -- US considers military options as North Korea continues nuclear weapons development during Olympics

    American politicians debate a 'bloody nose attack' on North Korea

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    38North reports that North Korea continues nuclear weapons development


    Kim Jong-un's sister Kim Yo-jong speaks with South Korea's president Moon Jae-in during a Seoul theatre performance two weeks ago.  News reports now indicate that Kim Yo-jong was pregnant with her second child.  (Yonhap)
    Kim Jong-un's sister Kim Yo-jong speaks with South Korea's president Moon Jae-in during a Seoul theatre performance two weeks ago. News reports now indicate that Kim Yo-jong was pregnant with her second child. (Yonhap)

    Based on analysis of commercial satellite imagery of North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear facility, the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University is reporting on its 38North web site that North Korea has continued development of nuclear weapons capabilities, including "steady progress" on its Experimental Light Water Reactor (ELWR). The ELWR development seems to be nearly complete and "nearing operational status."

    It's widely believed that when North Korea launched its "charm offensive" and offered to participate in the Winter Olympics games being held in Seoul, South Korea, at the present time, the purpose was to gain time to continue development of nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles. In particular, the North demanded that the US and South Korea postpone the planned joint military drills that were to begin in late January.

    While the continued development of ELWR could hardly be a surprise to anyone, it does serve to contradict the Pollyannaish views of some politicians that the Olympics Games détente might mean an end to the North Korea crisis.

    The US and South Korea have both confirmed that they will go ahead with the postponed joint military drills. The drills will be postponed until after the end of the Paralympics games, which run from March 8 to March 18. The start date of the drills will be announced between March 18 and April 1, according to South Korea's defense minister. 38 North and Korea Herald and Yonhap (Seoul) and AFP and Fox News and Newsweek

    American politicians debate a 'bloody nose attack' on North Korea

    North Korea's charm offensive and attendance at the Olympics games has postponed the crisis for a while, but the core logic driving North Korean policy has not changed:

    This logic has led to discussion of a "bloody nose attack." This would be some kind of military attack that would partially destroy North Korea's nuclear weapon and ballistic missile development, without attacking the Kim Jong-un regime itself.

    A number of politicians have said that a bloody nose attack is impossible, because it would invite massive retaliation against South Korea's capital city Seoul.

    Republican Senator James Risch said that lawmakers had been told "by administration people, about as high up as it gets, that there is no such thing as a ‘bloody nose strategy.'"

    Risch added that Trump has been very clear on denying North Korea from obtaining the ability to strike the US, and that "anyone who doubts the president’s commitment to see that doesn’t happen, does so really at their own peril."

    Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday Risch said:

    "If this thing starts, it is going to be probably one of the worst catastrophic events in the history of our civilization, but it is going to be very, very brief. The end of it is going to see mass casualties, the likes of which the planet has never seen. It would be biblical proportion."

    That's very dramatic, and it may well be true, but logic points in the opposite direction. The North would just have to accept a bloody nose attack, assuming that one is even possible, because retaliation would mean the death of Kim Jong-un and his entire government.

    Still, Risch's comments appear to be fundamentally self-contradictory. Risch says that Trump will prevent North Korea from being able to strike the US, as many other American politicians have also said, but Risch also says that there will be no military strike. So what's left?

    New reports from unnamed intelligence source indicate that the "bloody nose attack" will be a cyber attack. A cyber assault could cripple Pyongyang's online communications and ability to control its military, causing huge disruption but avoiding the loss of life.

    According to the reports, the U.S. government for the past six months has covertly begun laying the groundwork for possible cyberattacks on North Korea in countries including South Korea and Japan. This process involves installing fiber cables as bridges into the region and setting up remote bases and listening posts, where hackers may attempt to gain access to a North Korean internet that’s largely walled off from external connections.

    I don't know how much of this I believe, because the North Koreans could use redundant networks and firewalls to block such attacks. In my opinion, the most likely step in the next few months will be a US conventional military attack on the North's facilities, and there will be only minor retaliation from the North, if any. I could be wrong about either of those things, of course, but that's my opinion at this time. Telegraph (London) and Foreign Policy and Reuters

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Feb-18 World View -- US considers military options as North Korea continues nuclear weapons development during Olympics thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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    20-Feb-18 World View -- Turkey gets bogged down with military 'Operation Olive Branch' in Afrin, Syria

    Syria says it will send its 'popular forces' to support the YPG against Turkey in Afrin

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Turkey gets bogged down with military 'Operation Olive Branch' in Afrin, Syria


    A Kurdish woman at an anti-Turkish rally near Afrin in northern Syria (AFP)
    A Kurdish woman at an anti-Turkish rally near Afrin in northern Syria (AFP)

    On January 20, Turkey began the ironically named military Operation Olive Branch to take control of Syria's northern city of Afrin from the Kurdish militias, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), though it's never entirely clear what "take control" means.

    Turkey considers the YPG Kurds to be terrorists, because they're linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). The PKK has perpetrated large terrorist attacks in Turkey in the last two years, and has conducted an on-and-off separatist insurgency against Turkey's government for thirty years. The Kurds have set as a goal the creation of an independent state of Rojava along Syria's northern border with Turkey. Turkey considers that objective to be an existential threat.

    When Operation Olive Branch began on January 20, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised the Turkish people that the operation would be finished within a week, and that the military operation would move east to the city of Manbij. Now it's been a month, and it doesn't appear that the operation is close to completion.

    Turkish troops are backed by an estimated 22,000 "moderate rebels" in the Free Syrian Army (FSA), while the YPG is estimated to have about 8,000 to 10,000 fighters in Afrin. Estimates are the 32 Turkish soldiers, 43 FSA militants and 1,551 YPG militants have been killed so far.

    So there's no question but that the YPG forces are being battered. However, Afrin is a town of 400,000 to 500,000 people.

    So in my mind, I'm making comparisons to some of the previous battles. East Aleppo had a population of 275,000, only about 1,000 of whom were in the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS). The army and air force of the regime of Syria's Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russian warplanes and Hezbollah troops, used missiles, barrel bombs laced with chlorine gas, and other weapons to "take control" of Aleppo. But it took them about six months, and they practically destroyed the entire city to do it.

    In Eastern Ghouta there are 400,000 people, and al-Assad's regime, backed by the Russians, is battering the city with missiles, Sarin gas and barrel bombs laced with chlorine gas. That battle has been going on for several months, and appears nowhere near ended. It will be a long time before al-Assad "takes control" of eastern Ghouta.

    So now the Turks are attacking Afrin, with 400,000-500,000 people. Russia controls the airspace above Afrin, and so the power of Turkey's warplanes is being limited, according to reports. Furthermore, as far as is known, the Turks aren't using Sarin gas and chlorine gas as Bashar al-Assad does regularly.

    So I'm not a military expert, but doing these comparisons says to me that Turkey is going to be bogged down in Afrin for a long time. VOA and Washington Post and Xinhua and Kurdistan 24

    Syria says it will send its 'popular forces' to support the YPG against Turkey in Afrin


    Map of Syria regions controlled by government, Kurds and rebels (France 24)
    Map of Syria regions controlled by government, Kurds and rebels (France 24)

    On Sunday, a senior YPG official said that the YPG had reached a deal for the Syrian army to enter Afrin and that it could be implemented within two days.

    On Monday, Bashar al-Assad's Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) posted the following:

    "Popular forces to arrive in Afrin within hours to support locals against Turkish aggression

    SANA’s reporter in Aleppo said on Monday that popular forces are to arrive in Afrin area soon to support locals in facing the aggression launched by the Turkish regime on the area since January 20th.

    The reporter said that the arrival of popular forces will strengthen the locals’ resilience and resistance against the Turkish aggression which targets infrastructure, public and private properties, and economic and services establishments."

    This report has been widely referenced in the international media, usually with the interpretation that Syria's army will soon be fighting Turkey's army in Afrin.

    However, what's going on is far from clear. Unlike the YPG statement, the SANA statement doesn't mention Syria's army. It mentions "popular forces" from Aleppo. This could mean Hezbollah forces or it could mean mercenary soldiers that Iran has been bringing in from Afghanistan.

    According to Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu:

    "It's important what the regime will do when it enters [Afrin]. If the regime plans to enter to fight PKK/YPG, then no problem. But if the regime enters to protect the YPG, then no one can stop Turkey or the Turkish forces."

    There have been rumors for a few days that the al-Assad regime and the Kurds were reaching an agreement to jointly oppose the Turkish forces in Afrin. Ironically, Turkey and the al-Assad regime have a common interest -- neither of them wants the YPG to control Afrin. Turkey wants the FSA to control Afrin, and al-Assad wants his regime to control Afrin, but neither of them wants the Kurds to control Afrin.

    So there's really no common interest between Syria and the YPG. The Kurds want to continue controlling Afrin, and just want Syria's help in expelling Turkey. The Syrian want to expel Turkey, but then take control of Afrin. According to one analyst:

    "The Syrian regime wants complete political administration in Afrin, a comprehensive deal that includes security and politics. They want to return to Afrin. The Kurdish Rojava authorities want the Syrian army on the border [with Turkey] but they don’t accept [pro-government] forces into Afrin."

    So even if a deal is reached between al-Assad and the YPG, and Syria's "popular forces" enter Afrin, then instead of the YPG and Syria fighting the Turks, it could end up with the YPG and the Turks fighting Syria. SANA (Damascus) and France 24 and Daily Sabah (Ankara) and Reuters

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Feb-18 World View -- Turkey gets bogged down with military 'Operation Olive Branch' in Afrin, Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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    19-Feb-18 World View -- Special prosecutor Robert Mueller issues farcical indictment of Russian trolls

    Comparing Russian trolls to Chinese hackers

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Special prosecutor Robert Mueller issues farcical indictment of Russian trolls


    Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton (Reuters)
    Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton (Reuters)

    On Friday, the Justice Department's Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, after a year of investigation, brought an indictment against a Russian "troll factory," the St. Petersburg based Internet Research Agency, along with various trolls and other officials connected to the agency.

    It's hard to overestimate the farcical nature of the indictment. I wrote about the Internet Research Agency in 2014, and I've written about Russian trolls several times since then. Any journalist or analyst writes about a variety of political or international subjects is attacked by Russian trolls. I've been attacked by dozens, perhaps hundreds of Russian trolls since 2014.

    Here are some excerpts from the indictment:

    "2. Defendant INTERNET RESEARCH AGENCY LLC ("ORGANIZATION") is a Russian organization engaged in operations to interfere with elections and political processes. Defendants MIKHAIL IVANOVICI1 BYSTROV, MIKHAIL LEONIDOVICH BURCHIK ... and VLADIMIR VENKOV worked in various capacities to carry out Defendant ORGANIZATION's interference operations targeting the United States. From in or around 2014 to the present, Defendants knowingly and intentionally conspired with each other ... to defraud the United States by impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful functions of the government through fraud and deceit for the purpose of interfering with the U.S. political and electoral processes, including the presidential election of 2016.

    3. Beginning as early as 2014, Defendant ORGANIZATION began operations to interfere with the U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election. ... Defendants CONCORD and PRIGOZHIN spent significant funds to further the ORGANIZATION's operations and to pay the remaining Defendants, along with other uncharged ORGANIZATION employees, salaries and bonuses for their work at the ORGANIZATION.

    4. Defendants, posing as U.S. persons and creating false U.S. personas, operated social media pages and groups designed to attract U.S. audiences. These groups and pages, which addressed divisive U.S. political and social issues, falsely claimed to be controlled by U.S. activists when, in fact, they were controlled by Defendants. Defendants also used the stolen identities of real U.S. persons to post on ORGANIZATION-controlled social media accounts. Over time, these social media accounts became Defendants' means to reach significant numbers of Americans for purposes of interfering with the U.S. political system, including the presidential election of 2016."

    I'm sorry, I can't stop laughing. The CIA and Special Prosecutor's office has spent hundreds of millions of dollars sleuthing out these criminals, and discovered that Russian trolls hired by Russia's "troll factory," the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg Russia, are on blogs and social media sites posting misleading comments. This was something that was well known to me and many other people.

    Here's what I wrote in August 2014:

    While Russia's president Vladimir Putin maintains an iron grip on the state-run media, the internet remains a big problem for Putin, as he's had little ability to control Twitter and other social media.

    Putin has responded to this problem in a bizarre way. According to documents examined by an analyst firm, since April a Russian firm called the Internet Research Agency, with a 2014 budget of $10 million, has been hiring hundreds of "internet trolls" to challenge any online article critical of Russia.

    Each troll is expected to post comments on blogs and news sites 50 times per day. The comments range from lies and disinformation to abuse and profanity. Each blogger is to maintain six Facebook accounts, posting three times a day in each. On Twitter, they're expected to manage 10 accounts and tweet 50 times a day. [Emphasis added]"

    I get attacked by American trolls as well, but apparently the reason that Russian trolls were indicted is because they didn't register with the US government. US Department of Justice and Russia Today

    How the Russian trolls do their jobs

    Let's take some example of attacks by Russian trolls, so we can see what the Special Prosecutor might be talking about. I was never attacked by trolls over the election because I never wrote about the election. However, I am always attacked by Russian trolls whenever I write about any of the following subjects:

    Let's take an example: Shooting down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 passenger plane by the Russians in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014. We actually knew within minutes that the Russians had shot it down with a missile, because Igor Strelkov, the commander of the Russian forces in east Ukraine, immediately tweeted the following:

    "We shot down AN-26 [military transport] near the city Torez, Donetsk People's Republic ... We warned, don't fly in our sky."

    Strelkov's militias had shot down at least two Ukrainian AN-26s in the previous week, and was bragging that he'd shot down a third. The tweet was taken down a few minutes later, when he learned that he'd shot down a passenger plane.

    Russian media and trolls went into full-on troll mode, making one ridiculous claim after another: Strelkov's tweet had never occurred; the US had shot down MH17 to embarrass Russia; the airplane was struck by a meteor; no living people were aboard the plane as it flew on autopilot from Amsterdam, where it had been pre-loaded with "rotting corpses."

    Russian trolls will say that no evidence exists that Russians shot down MH17. Actually, there are literally thousands of pieces of evidence, including intercepted phone calls, photos, analyzed and authenticated, videos, forensic examinations, witness statements, satellite images, and radar data. There was a major Dutch investigation that proved with no doubt that Russians shot down MH17 with a Russian-made Buk missile. But trolls will constantly say, "there's no evidence."

    Russian trolls are Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons

    As another example, Russian trolls are always on the attack when you write about the use of chemical weapons, including Sarin gas and chlorine gas, by Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. Once again, they say that "there's no evidence." But once again, there are been several thorough investigations of al-Assad's 2013 Sarin gas attack, and there are thousands of pieces of evidence that al-Assad used Sarin gas on ordinary civilians, including forensic collections and analyses, photos, videos, eyewitness testimony, doctors' testimony, the UNSC report, analyses of the UNSC report, and so forth, proving al-Assad's repeated use of chemical weapons, including Sarin gas and chlorine gas.

    Trolls try to use highly emotional arguments to avoid facts. One troll named "Jan Fearing" told me a darling story about her trip to Damascus where she met a mother who thought al-Assad was wonderful. One troll argument I hear frequently is that al-Assad is popular, but once again that's irrelevant, since all the worst genocidal monsters are popular, including Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong and Pol Pot. You can't succeed as a genocidal monster if your people don't support you, and that means you have to be popular with your own people to be a genocidal monster.

    Comparing Russian trolls to Chinese hackers

    I find the Russian trolls to be pretty much idiots. They're usually working from prepared scripts, and they usually don't know anything about the facts except what their trollmasters have told them.

    I wasn't writing about election campaign issues, so I didn't encounter trolls bashing Hillary and boosting Bernie Sanders and Trump, but I assume that the trolls who did that were just as incompetent on those subjects as they were on the subjects that I write about. During the election campaign, there must have been millions of highly partisan messages posted by hundreds of partisan organizations. How would the average Facebook user ever be influenced by a Russian troll message when it's surrounded by hundreds of other messages competing for the user's attention? I don't see how it's even remotely possible that the Russian trolls had any effect at all on the election, or that they'll affect future elections.

    In fact, when he announced the indictments, deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein said:

    "There is no allegation in the indictment that any American was a knowing participant in the alleged unlawful activity. There is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election."

    This doesn't surprise me in the least. I don't see even the remotest possibility that these trolls influenced the election, and despite the media hysteria, I don't any possibility that they will have any influence at all in the 2018 and 2020 elections. The current hysteria is fatuous.

    I personally believe that the use of trolls has backfired for the Russians, not because of the Mueller's indictment, but because everyone knows about Russian trolls, so that anyone who genuinely wants to support Russia in one of these discussions is automatically assumed to be a troll.

    That's why Mueller's indictments are so farcical. They target people in Russia who will never be extradited, and they reveal "crimes" that everyone has been aware of for years.

    People in the mainstream media are hoping against hope that these indictments are just the first step in bringing charges against Donald Trump. We'll all be watching to see whether they get their wishes.

    Finally, let's take one more quote from the indictment:

    "57. After the election of Donald Trump in or around November 2016, Defendants and their coconspirators used false U.S. personas to organize and coordinate U.S. political rallies in support of then president-elect Trump, while simultaneously using other false U.S. personas to organize and coordinate U.S. political rallies protesting the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. For example, in or around November 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators organized a rally in New York through one ORGANIZATION-controlled group designed to "show your support for President-Elect Donald Trump" held on or about November 12, 2016. At the same time, Defendants and their co-conspirators, through another ORGANIZATION-controlled group, organized a rally in New York called "Trump is NOT my President" held on or about November 12, 2016. Similarly, Defendants and their co-conspirators organized a rally entitled "Charlotte Against Trump" in Charlotte, North Carolina, held on or about November 19, 2016."

    So the trolls were holding pro-Trump rallies and anti-Trump rallies in two different places in New York on the same day. These are truly the gang that couldn't shoot street. We can all feel safe now that they're no longer at large. Oh, wait. All these trolls are in St. Petersburg Russia, so they're still at large, and they'll never be caught.

    As a Senior Software Engineer, I'm familiar with the entire range of online attacks, whether by trolls or for espionage, or for cyber warfare. I find this hysteria over the Russian troll "threat to democracy" to be a total joke.

    By contrast, the threat from China's use of online espionage a million times greater. There are dozens of Chinese high tech companies whose only job is to spy and steal secrets from the United States. China has stolen hundreds or thousands of terabytes of data from defense and law enforcement systems, as well as from energy, transportation, government, technology, health care, finance, telecommunications, media, manufacturing and agriculture systems.

    There are some real threats out there, not from Russian trolls but from Chinese hackers. We should be focusing on the real dangers to our society. US Dept. of Justice and The Conversation(5-Oct-2017)

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    18-Feb-18 World View -- Iran gives operational control of its Chabahar seaport to India

    Comparing Iran's Chabahar seaport vs Pakistan's Gwadar seaport

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Iran gives operational control of its Chabahar seaport to India


    Map displaying the trade routes related to the Chabahar and Gwadar ports.  Purple lines show China's trade routes through Gwadar, while red lines show India's planned trade routes through Chabahar.  (Defence.pk)
    Map displaying the trade routes related to the Chabahar and Gwadar ports. Purple lines show China's trade routes through Gwadar, while red lines show India's planned trade routes through Chabahar. (Defence.pk)

    During a visit by Iran's president Hassan Rouhani to India on Saturday, Rouhani and India's prime minister witnessed the signing of nine agreements to expand bilateral economic ties, with focus on the development and utilization of Iran's strategic Chabahar Port. Iran would grant operational control of a portion of the port to India for 18 months.

    In return, India has agreed to invest an initial $87 million growing to a total of $2 billion in the Chabahar and in the Chabahar-Zahedan railroad linking the port to the Trans-Iranian railway and to other cities in Iran, connecting from there to Afghanistan, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe.

    The use of the Chabahar is considered to be a major "game-changer" for India's economy and defense. Any land route from India to Afghanistan and Central Asia is blocked by Pakistan and China. The route from India's Kandla seaport to Chabahar and then overland to Afghanistan and Central Asia would not be as good as a pure land route, but it's better than anything that's been available up till now.

    Chabahar is also a counter to China's development of the Gwadar port in Pakistan, shown by the large purple star in the map above. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), coupled with China's One Belt-One Road (OBOR), is seen by Indian defense analysts as a major security threat. The purple lines in the map above show China's traditional trade routes across the sea, using China's "String of Pearls" port facilities (purple stars), while the red lines show the trade routes being planned using Iran's Chabahar port. Mehr News (Iran) and Business Standard (India) and VOA and India Defense Review (20-Mar-2017)

    Comparing Iran's Chabahar seaport vs Pakistan's Gwadar seaport

    A number of analysts have been comparing the two seaports. Although the Chabahar port is considered to be of great strategic importance to India, the general consensus seems to be that Pakistan's Gwadar port will serve China's needs far better than Iran's Chabahar port will serve India's needs.

    The two ports are about 90 km apart. However, unlike Chabahar, Gwadar is better strategically located in the Indian Ocean, so that India vessels would also be subject to the active monitoring by Pakistan's navy and probably China's navy.

    Gwadar seaport is much larger, thanks to Gwardar's natural layout and depth. The maximum planned capacity of Chabahar is 10-12 million tons per year, while that of Gwadar will be 300-400 million tons.

    Resource-rich Afghanistan is an important trading partner for both Iran and Pakistan. However, Pakistan is aligned with the Taliban, while Iran is aligned with the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance. This will raise security issues for Pakistan and Iran, and therefore for China and India.

    Security is a major issue for both ports. Chabahar is located in one of Iran’s most volatile regions, frequently attacked by the Taliban-linked Jundullah terror group. Gwadar is located in Pakistan's Balochistan province which has also been targeted by Taliban-linked terrorists, as well as by a Baloch insurgency.

    Iran has special issues related to the US and the Iran nuclear deal, which is opposed by the Donald Trump administration. The US has threatened additional sanctions on Iran, and those sanctions to conflict with India's investments in Chabahar. However, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, visiting New Delhi recently, assured India that even if America re-imposes sanctions on Iran in the coming days, it will exempt the Chabahar facility.

    As regular readers are aware, 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 Chabahar seaport deal moves these countries another step closer to that alignment. Asia Times and World News Report (India) and Bloomberg Quint and Diplomat and Indian Express (25-Nov-2017)

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    17-Feb-18 World View -- Ethiopia declares state of emergency after shock resignation of prime minister

    Generational analysis of Ethiopia's protests and state of emergency

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Ethiopia declares state of emergency after shock resignation of prime minister


    Massive protests in Ethiopia's Oromia region pushed prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn to resign (Reuters)
    Massive protests in Ethiopia's Oromia region pushed prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn to resign (Reuters)

    Ethiopians on Thursday were shocked and surprised when the country's prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn submitted his letter of resignation, after being in office since 2012. In a televised address he said:

    "Unrest and a political crisis have led to the loss of lives and displacement of many. I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy."

    The unrest and political crisis he's referring to is anti-government protests by millions of people, especially among the marginalized Oromo ethnic group, which comprises 34% of Ethiopia's population, and among the Amhara ethnic group, which comprises another 27%.

    Since 1991, the government has been largely controlled by the ethnic Tigrayans, who are a market and government dominant minority, comprising only 6% of the population. Hailemariam Desalegn was a member of the tiny Wollayta ethnic group, party of the Tigrayan ruling coalition.

    Hailemariam's resignation was apparently an attempt to calm the protests. But as it failed to do so, the Council of Ministers declared a state of emergency that "would be instrumental in thwarting ethnic-based conflicts in the country and safeguarding the constitutional order."

    The details of the state of emergency were not revealed, except to say that it would be similar to the last state of emergency, which began in October 2016, and ended only a few months ago in August 2017. According to Human Rights Watch's description of the last state of emergency:

    "The government’s emergency powers brought mass detentions, politically motivated criminal charges, and numerous restrictions on people’s movement and communication. While the end is welcome news, thousands remain in detention without charge, none of the protesters’ underlying grievances have been addressed, and politically motivated trials of key opposition leaders, artists, journalists, and others continue."

    There are concerns that the new state of emergency will only repeat the abuses of the last one. Ethiopian News Agency and Addis Standard (Addis Ababa) and Bloomberg and Reuters and Addis Standard and Reuters

    Generational analysis of Ethiopia's protests and state of emergency

    What we're seeing here is a variation of a pattern that I've described repeatedly in several countries. This pattern occurs in the aftermath of a generational crisis war when, rather than being an external war with another country, the war is a civil war within the country between tribes and ethnic groups. Such a war is generally between two tribes or ethnic groups who have been neighbors for decades, who intermarried, and whose children played together, but then suddenly they turn on each other and commit atrocities, rapes, murders, torture, mutilations and massacres on their former neighbors, including women and children.

    That kind of war traumatizes the both the winners and the losers. The new country leader, usually from the winning tribe, is someone who had directed or approved these atrocities, rapes and massacres, and in his mind considers them to have been completely justified. The civil war always ends with some sort of agreement that all the warring ethnic groups will suddenly love one another live together in peace and harmony. But in practice, in the decades that follow, the losing tribe is marginalized, and in the following generational Awakening era, begins to protest. The country leader believes that a new civil war is beginning, and returns to the atrocities of the civil war in order to prevent a new war from occurring. Examples that I've reported on include Paul Biya in Cameroon, Pierre Nkurunziza in Burundi, Paul Kagame in Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Joseph Kabila in DRC, or, outside of Africa, Bashar al-Assad in Syria and Hun Sen in Cambodia.

    Ethiopia's last generational crisis war occurred in 1991, when the Marxist Derg dictatorship was overthrown. A Tigrayan war leader, Meles Zenawi, was in power until his death in 2012. Although the Tigrayans comprise only 6% of the population, the Tigrayan governing coalition increasingly marginalized the two largest ethnic groups, the Oromo ethnic group (34% of Ethiopia's population), and among the Amhara ethnic group (27%).

    In 2012, Hailemariam Dessalegn, from a small ethnic group (Wollayta) became prime minister. It was hoped that Hailemariam would institute reforms that would improve the lives of the Oromos and the Amharas, but Hailemariam was still part of the Tigrayan governing coaliation, and followed the same policies. The reforms that had been promised were not implemented, and the situation was made worse by a severe drought.

    There were massive anti-government protests by the Oromos and the Amharas, resulting in a brutal state of emergency that ran from October 2016 to August 2017. With minor changes, this is exactly the pattern that I've repeatedly described in the other countries listed above.

    After the state of emergency ended in August 2017, nothing had changed. Reforms that had been promised did not occur. Once again, there were massive protests by the Oromos and Amharas. In an attempt to quall the protests last month, the government announced the release of hundreds of political prisoners from the last state of emergency, and promised further reforms.

    Those measures did not reduce the protests, and Hailemariam resigned on Thursday, saying, "I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy." Apparently Hailemariam was no longer willing to play the role of useful idiot and serve as cover for the same Tigrayan policies that had been in place since 1991.

    Now Ethiopia is at a new tipping point. A new prime minister will have to be chosen. Surprisingly, some analysts are saying that the leading candidate for prime minister is articulate, charismatic and confident 47-year-old Lemma Megersa, from the Oromo ethnic group. Once again, hopes are rising that needed reforms could finally be implemented, if an Oromo became prime minister.

    Such hopes are probably misplaced. Lemma may be an Oromo, but he's also been part of the official "establishment" for his entire political career since the 1990s, and even if he's chosen as PM, it's unlikely that he'll be able to effect any real changes. Whatever generational forces have brought about the current set of policies, those generational forces will not change because of one person becoming prime minister. Addis Standard (Addis Ababa) and Africa Report and Al Jazeera and Ethiopian Treasures

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    16-Feb-18 World View -- Concerns grow over China's covert infiltration into New Zealand's government

    Anne-Marie Brady's report, 'Magic Weapons', documents China's global influence strategy

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Concerns grow over China's covert infiltration into New Zealand's government


    Around 50,000 Chinese tourists will visit New Zealand in the next few days to celebrate their Chinese Lunar New Year (stuff.co.nz)
    Around 50,000 Chinese tourists will visit New Zealand in the next few days to celebrate their Chinese Lunar New Year (stuff.co.nz)

    Public concerns in New Zealand about the increasing covert infiltration of pro-Chinese planted officials in the governments of New Zealand, Australia, and other countries were raised on Thursday by revelations that she and her employer have been targets of harassment, break-ins, and burglaries.

    In September of last year, professor Anne-Marie Brady of New Zealand's University of Canterbury published a detailed report on China's intelligence activity to guide, buy and coerce political influence on a global basis, with emphasis on New Zealand. Brady's work was extremely effective because she is fluent in Mandarin Chinese, and she based her research on Chinese-language media both inside and outside of China.

    On Thursday, Brady spoke to the Australian Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee in Canberra, and said that she had a break-in and robbery at her house. Three laptops, including one on which she wrote the paper, two cellphones and an encrypted memory stick from her last trip to China were taken, but other valuables were not taken. This followed receipt of letters threatening violence against her, and an earlier break-in and robbery of her university office.

    Brady says that she links the two-breaks to work she has conducted on China's global influence campaign. New Zealand Herald and Stuff (New Zealand)

    New Zealand MP Jian Yang faces heavy scrutiny from covert links to China's military

    On September 13 of last year, it emerged that China-born Yang Jian, a government official and MP in New Zealand's ruling National Party had been in China's military intelligence services and had joined the Chinese Communist Party, but had not revealed these affiliations when he applied for citizenship.

    Yang moved from China to New Zealand in 1991, and became an MP 12 years later. At a press conference, Last week, Yang, an MP for New Zealand’s governing National Party, confirmed he had taught English to Chinese spies in the 1980s and 1990s, and that he had been a member of the Communist Party while in China, but that he had not declared the names of the military institutions he taught at when applying for citizenship. These Chinese institutions were the People's Liberation Army-Air Force Engineering College and the Luoyang language institute, the latter run by China's equivalent of America's National Security Agency.

    At the press conference, Yang said:

    "I am not a spy. I refute any allegations that question my loyalty to New Zealand ... Although I was not born here I am proud to call myself a New Zealander, obey our laws and contribute to this country. I challenge those who are propagating these defamatory statements to front up and prove it."

    Nonetheless, Yang remains under scrutiny by the governments of not only New Zealand but also Australia, he briefly interned with a sensitive Australian parliamentary committee before moving to New Zealand.

    One question that has not been satisfactorily answered is: Why did he leave China at all to come to New Zealand in 1991.

    In 1991 The China expert and author Peter Mattis says that there are two plausible explanations. 1991 was shortly after the Tiananmen Square massacre, so one scenario is that he left to escape his homeland and put his past behind him to create a new life. The other was to work covertly for military intelligence, most likely China's Second Department, dealing in human intelligence. Newsroom (New Zealand, 27-Dec-2017) and Australian Broadcasting (20-Oct-2017) and Guardian (13-Sep-2017) and South China Morning Post (13-Sep-2017)

    Anne-Marie Brady's report, 'Magic Weapons', documents China's global influence strategy

    China's president Xi Jinping once used the term "magic weapon" to refer to China's United Front Work Department. Officially it focuses on building support for the Communist Party in China, but it's become a coercive propaganda tool targeting Chinese globally, especially in Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., and Canada, but in other countries as well. The agency particularly surveils and targets Chinese students abroad and foreign universities to adopt language that favors pro-Beijing policies, such as delegitimizing Taiwan, and Western ideals and values, such as liberal democracy, Christianity, or Falun Gong.

    Thanks to Chinese emigration, there are now large communities of Chinese people in Australia and New Zealand. Chinese propaganda has been so thoroughly successful that Chinese media in Australia is now almost overwhelmingly pro-Beijing, and is promoting Chinese values ("socialism with Chinese characteristics"), rather than Western values of liberal democracy and freedom. United Front Work attempts to sway elections so that pro-Beijing policies are adopted.

    Anne-Marie Brady's report, entitled "Magic Weapons: China's political influence activities under Xi Jinping," describes in detail how Chinese propaganda works in New Zealand:

    "There are currently around 200,000 ethnic Chinese resident in New Zealand, out of a population of 4.5 million New Zealanders. The majority of Chinese in New Zealand live in Auckland, where they make up around 10 percent of the population. Chinese consular authorities keep a close eye on all Chinese community activities, but especially in Auckland. They have achieved this through close links with core pro-Beijing Chinese community groups, and by maintaining oversight over other Chinese community groups, ethnic Chinese political figures, and Chinese language media and schools in New Zealand. Moreover, during the Xi era, the PRC embassy has supported the setting up of new organizations that report back to united front bodies in China, and, according to two former Australian-based Chinese diplomats, by placing supporters and informers in New Zealand Chinese organizations that are more independent minded and pose a potential threat to China’s interests. This is classic CCP party-building and organization work; one of the three “magic weapons” of the CCP. The current level of supervision over the ethnic Chinese community in New Zealand is a remarkable achievement. All throughout the Cold War years, with only a few exceptions, Chinese New Zealanders were neither pro-CCP nor pro-PRC, even if they were not necessarily pro-Chinese Nationalist Party or pro-ROC,76 and New Zealand’s Chinese-language media, community groups, and language schools were proudly independent. ...

    The organization most closely connected with the PRC authorities in New Zealand is the Peaceful Reunification of China Association of New Zealand (PRCANZ), founded in 2000. ... The name of the organization is a reference to the “Peaceful Reunification” of mainland China and Taiwan. However, the organization also engages in a range of activities which support Chinese foreign policy goals, including block-voting and fund-raising for ethnic Chinese political candidates who agree to support their organization’s agenda. When Chinese senior leaders visit New Zealand, it is united front-affiliated organizations such as PRCANZ who organize counter-protest groups to shout down pro-Falungong, pro-Tibet, or any other group critical of China who come to protest when China’s senior leaders visit New Zealand."

    Brady's report also gives a detailed account of Yang Jian's activities in including New Zealand's government, as well as the activities of other China-born officials.

    New Zealand's prime minister Jacinda Ardern discount's Brady's report, and says that she's seen no evidence of spying by Yang Jian or other China-born officials:

    "Certainly I haven't seen evidence of that from [Brady] directly. It sounds to me like it's an insinuation that's being made.

    Of course, we do have close links as a country with China and as a party with China. It's another step again though to make that kind of link."

    Diplomat and Washington Post and New Zealand Herald (20-Sep-2017) and South China Morning Post (23-Sep-2017)

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    15-Feb-18 World View -- Netherlands expels Eritrean diplomat over coercive 'diaspora tax' collections

    Eritrea's Patriarch Abune Antonios has not been seen in months

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Netherlands expels Eritrean diplomat over coercive 'diaspora tax' collections


    Graphic artist depiction of torture in Eritrea, based on interviews with Eritrean torture survivors (UN-OHCHR)
    Graphic artist depiction of torture in Eritrea, based on interviews with Eritrean torture survivors (UN-OHCHR)

    The Netherlands has expelled Tekeste Ghebremedhin Zemuy, Eritrea's top diplomat, and declared him persona non grata, because the Eritrean embassy uses coercive methods to collect a "diaspora tax" from Eritreans.

    Eritrea is considered is one of the most repressive governments in the world according to Freedom House. Thousands of people are jailed without charge, where torture is common. People are required to work for years in enforced government service, where the average monthly salary is $12.

    Even migrants who escape to Europe to earn money are not free of the long reach of the Eritrean government, as they are subject to the "diaspora tax" of 2% of everything they earn.

    The diaspora tax has been the subject of controversy, because its application is arbitrary, and is used as a means of control over the diaspora. An Eritrean who goes to the embassy because he needs something from the state will be told that even a simple service -- sending a parcel or money home -- requires a charge of 2% of his entire income for all the years he's been in the country. In addition, Eritreans are required to sign a so-called "regret form" admitting to crimes that may or may not have been committed, and according to reports is not given a copy of the form he signed.

    Refusal to pay the tax or to sign the "regret form" has resulted in refusal of all services. It has also resulted in refusing food vouchers for family members back home, limiting them from accessing remittances, besides social exclusion and vilification.

    In December 2011, UN Security Council resolution 2023 called on Eritrea to "cease using extortion, threats of violence, fraud and other illicit means to collect taxes outside of Eritrea from its nationals or other individuals of Eritrean descent."

    The same resolution accused Eritrea of using the tax to destabilize the Horn of Africa, saying some of the revenues were funding armed opposition groups in the region, including the Somalia's terrorist militant group al-Shabaab.

    In June 2016, a UNHRC commission of inquiry report on human rights conditions in Eritrea found that the government continued to enforce indefinite military service and was responsible for arbitrary detention, torture, rape, murder, persecution, imprisonment in violation of international law, and enforced disappearances. The report said the systematic nature of these actions suggested that crimes against humanity had been committed.

    A European Union organization, the Europe External Policy Advisors (EEPA), did extensive research in Eritrea's diaspora tax in seven European countries. The report, published in September of last year, said:

    "The 2% Tax is collected as a critical part of a system of surveillance, with specific references to coercion in view of mental and social pressure, extortion, intimidation, fraud and/or blackmail. The specific organization and modalities relate specifically to the diaspora, but also involves family members by association."

    Although these investigations have been going on for years, there was a precipitating event that finally caused the Netherlands to take some explicit action, on behalf of the 20,000 Eritrean nationals living in the Netherlands. A recording was made by Dutch radio program Argos, an asylum seeker is being told by the head of the Eritrean embassy that he has to sign a so-called ‘regret form’ in which he admits his guilt and that he has to pay 2% tax – over the past 4/5 years – before he can avail of consular service from the diplomatic mission.

    This recording infuriated the Dutch parliament. Parliamentarian Sjoerd Sjoerdsma said:

    "Eritreans flee Eritrea solely due to the repression by the regime. Then they are being confronted with the fact that the Eritrean embassy in the Netherlands makes them pay diaspora tax, often under force and sometimes even through extortion. The parliament has raised its voice on this issue multiple times, but nothing changes about this situation, unfortunately."

    Protesters in Amsterdam and Brussels were demanding that the Eritrean embassy be closed. This was rejected, but Dutch Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra expelled Eritrea's envoy, saying in a letter to parliament, "In light of the continuous intimidation and force used in the collection of diaspora tax and its resulting social and political unrest, the cabinet is forced to give the Eritrean government a powerful signal." Guardian (London, 9-Jun-2015) and Europe External Policy Advisors (EEPA) and In Depth News and Freedom House and United Nations - OHCHR and Tesfa News (Eritrea)

    Eritrea's Patriarch Abune Antonios has not been seen in months

    An article that I wrote last year ( "19-Jul-17 World View -- Eritrean government laughably uses Christian Patriarch as show prop") described how Eritrean Orthodox Patriarch Abune Antonios, who had not been seen for ten years after being arrested in 2007 without charge and imprisoned in an unknown location, was trotted out to participate in a mass on July 16.

    Worshippers were thrilled to see him, because he hadn't been seen in public for ten years, but the whole thing was a farce because the government forbade him from saying a word at the mass, and after the mass they bundled him back to prison at a new unknown location.

    It had been hoped that after this appearance, Antonios would be permitted to walk free, but he hasn't been seen in public since then. On September 11, he should have delivered blessing on that day, which is marked by the Eritrean Orthodox Church as the start of the year according to the Julian calendar.

    The patriarch is among over 10,000 prisoners of conscience in Eritrea, several hundred of whom are Christians. A surge in repression since May of last year, when Eritrean police were 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 were arrested. Independent Catholic News (16-Sep-2017)

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    14-Feb-18 World View -- Colombia and Brazil close borders with Venezuela amid talk of possible military intervention

    Parents send kids to orphanages as Venezuela's oil production collapse

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Parents send kids to orphanages as Venezuela's oil production collapse


    Venezuelans loot a food warehouse in December
    Venezuelans loot a food warehouse in December

    Venezuela's oil output in January fell to its lowest level in nearly 30 years, with production falling 20% from a year ago. Although Venezuela is the wealthiest country in the world in terms of oil reserves, the oil company PDVSA has been nationalized, and the Socialist president Nicolás Maduro has turned it over to the dictator's Socialist cronies, who are so corrupt and incompetent they couldn't operate a bicycle, let alone an oil company. The result is that oil production in the Socialist country has been falling steadily.

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

    The poverty and hunger rate in the Socialist country have become so disastrous that parents are unable to find food to feed their children. Store shelves are empty of food, medicine, diapers and baby formula.

    The International Monetary Fund forecast that the hyperinflation in Venezuela will hit 13,000% in 2018, meaning that even if food were available, it would be unaffordable. Human Rights Watch and other rights groups have accused Venezuela's government of beating and torturing thousands of people protesting about the economy.

    Incredibly, Venezuela's Socialist government even refuses to accept offers of food and medicine from its neighbors and aid agencies, including the Catholic Church, because to do so would requiring admitting that the Socialist economy was in crisis.

    In desperation, some parents are placing their children in orphanages, just so that they can be fed. According to Angélica Pérez, a 32-year-old mother of three, "You don’t know what it’s like to see your children go hungry. You have no idea. I feel like I’m responsible, like I’ve failed them. But I’ve tried everything. There is no work, and they just keep getting thinner. Tell me! What am I supposed to do?"

    Other parents are simply leaving their children in the streets in the hope that child protective services will find them and find a home for them. CNN and Miami Herald and Washington Post

    Colombia and Brazil close borders to refugees from Venezuela

    Colombia and Brazil on Tuesday announced a series of measures to control border crossings from Venezuela, as the Socialist economy continues to deteriorate.

    With people unable to find jobs or food in Venezuela, waves of refugees have been pouring across the border into Colombia, and to a lesser extent into northwest Brazil.

    Venezuela's Socialist economy began to crumble in 2013 with the collapse in global oil prices. Since then, an estimated 600,000 Venezuelans have fled across the border into Colombia. About 100,000 crossed the border in just the last two months of 2017. About 60,000 Venezuelans have crossed the border into Brazil.

    Colombia's president Juan Manuel Santos on Tuesday announced that strict immigration controls would be implemented, with 2,120 Colombian soldiers deployed to the 1,378 mile long border to enforce them. In a speech, Santos referred to the time when Venezuelans were kind to Colombians fleeing across the border into Venezuela during the civil war of the 1990s and early 2000s. Santos said:

    "There will be more control and more security at borders.

    Venezuela was very generous to Colombia when Colombians went in search of a better life [during the height of its civil war in the 1990s and early 2000s]. We should also be generous to Venezuela.

    I want to repeat to President Maduro — this is the result of your policies, it is not the fault of Colombians and it’s the result of your refusal to receive humanitarian aid which has been offered in every way, not just from Colombia but from the international community."

    Brazil’s defense minister, Raul Jungmann, said that Brazil would bolster security along the border and relocate the migrants. "This is a humanitarian drama. The Venezuelans are being expelled from their country by hunger and the lack of jobs and medicine. We are here to bring help and to strengthen the border." Costa Roca News and Petroleum World and Miami Herald and Brookings

    Venezuela fears a military 'invasion' by Colombia and U.S.

    Last weekend, American Admiral Kurt Tidd, head of U.S. Southern Command, visited with Colombia's vice president Oscar Naranjo in the coastal city of Tumaco, nominally to discuss the flow of drugs from Colombia's Pacific coast.

    Tidd's visit to Colombia has triggered suspicions in Venezuela of a possible invasion by Colombia, backed by the United States. Venezuela's chief prosecutor said:

    "In Colombia, they are planning to revive eras that had ended in human history, like military bombing, a military invasion or the occupation, through blood and gunfire, of a peaceful country like Venezuela. We will not allow it."

    However, the commander of Colombia's armed forces replied, "We have so many problems in our own country, and that’s what we are solely dedicated to and focused on. We’re only interested in the problems of the Colombian people."

    Nonetheless, with Venezuela's economy deteriorating rapidly and the flow of refugees surging, there is growing fear that Venezuela will destabilize the entire region, and that military action must be taken.

    Vanessa Neumann of the Foreign Policy Research Institute was interviewed on Fox Business News, and said that Venezuela is presenting a major security threat to Colombia, because locals are getting into fights with the refugees, and there are terrorists mixing in with the refugees coming across the border.

    Neumann gave the following assessment (my transcription, slightly edited):

    "[Colombia's] military is sending armored personnel carriers with 50 caliber guns on top to stop the flow [of refugees from Venezuela]. It's gotten so bad that the locals are beating up the homeless Venezuelan refugees because there's just too many of them, even though they really consider themselves as brothers.

    The other thing is Venezuelans have now joined some of the terrorist groups, because they've given them food, and the uniform and the job. They have launched 11 terrorist attacks in Colombia. The Colombians won't take this sitting down. They will go and cross the border into Venezuela, and then they'll have military assistance from the United States. ...

    That's what I see happening, as well as more violence within Venezuela, because of the food. People are now just killing each other for food.

    And in the border towns when they do escape I see them, selling gasoline, selling their own hair, selling their bodies, giving away their children. I saw it first-hand last week, and this week it's much worse. This won't last much longer.

    And now some of the Venezuelans are saying, please -- they've never really advocated for American intervention before, but now 'We're so hungry, this is so bad, please come help us.'"

    Maritime Herald and Miami Herald and Russia Today

    Related articles:

    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Feb-18 World View -- Colombia and Brazil close borders with Venezuela amid talk of possible military intervention thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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    13-Feb-18 World View -- Thousands of DR Congo refugees pour into Uganda to escape tribal violence

    Massive 1998-2003 war between Hema and Lendu tribes has continued violence today

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Thousands of DR Congo refugees pour into Uganda to escape tribal violence


    Twenty year old Mary Maurita and her newborn baby in a Uganda refugee camp
    Twenty year old Mary Maurita and her newborn baby in a Uganda refugee camp

    Tens of thousands of refugees in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been fleeing tribal violence.

    More than 14,000 refugees, the large majority women and children, have fled the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to Uganda since December 18th 2017, because of increased tribal violence in eastern DRC. This is a big upsurge in refugees, reflecting a sharp increase in tribal and ethnic violence throughout eastern DRC.

    Refugees have reported that the current situation in DRC includes armed groups burning down and pillaging villages, torching houses, shutting down schools, hospitals and churches, forcefully recruiting young men, abducting and kidnapping innocent citizens, raping women and girls. Some refugees were forced to pay armed groups to cross the border into Uganda to escape the violence.

    Tribal conflicts are common in DRC. Since 1960, there have been more than 17 civil wars recorded, with four million deaths. For years, refugees from DRC have come to Uganda, particularly since August 2007, when government forces attacked civilians in North Kivu province in order to obtain mineral resources, including gold. At the end of 2017, there were 242,406 registered refugees in Uganda from DRC, and the number is increasing sharply because of increased tribal violence in DRC. In January alone, 13,550 additional refugees have arrived.

    Because of the increased violence in DRC, Uganda is making plans to host hundreds of thousands more refugees. Uganda has a population of nearly 1,4 million refugees, of whom 1 million are from South Sudan and nearly 250,000 are from DRC. ReliefWeb and NTV (Uganda) and The Nation (Kenya)

    Massive 1998-2003 war between Hema and Lendu tribes has continued violence today

    After the 1994 Rwanda genocide, the violence spread to DR Congo as Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi intervened, and took sides in the tribal and government violence in eastern DRC, providing troops, training, arms, and general aid to the warring sides.

    The Hema and the Lendu ethnic groups of the DR Congo are both pastoralist tribes, and they have historically had wars in competition for land for their cattle. After a new Hema-Lendu war started in 1998, Ugandan militias sided with the Hema against the Lendu. The result was a massive war in the Ituri district of northeastern Congo between August 1998 and July 2003, killing some 3.3 million people, and displacing hundreds of thousands more. The point of the war was mainly to gain control over mineral rights in the tribal land. Although the war was officially settled in 2003, the violence between Hema and Lendu, as well as between other tribal groups, continues to this day.

    The European Union has announced that it will offer 100,000 euros in humanitarian aid for Congolese refugees in Uganda. According to an EU official:

    "Renewed fighting and atrocities in DRC are driving thousands of Congolese from their homes. After the long journey, many of them arrive in the refugee settlement weakened and destitute. EU funding is being released to increase the safe water supply and improve sanitation, hygiene and health services. It is crucial that we provide dignified living conditions and prevent disease outbreaks."

    According to one commenter: "This is good news for French speaking Europe: these refugees in Uganda won't try going to Europe, but will just flock more & more to Uganda where the money is!"

    Northeastern Congo is cursed with vast riches in the form of mineral wealth, in a region with many tribes and ethnic groups. The level of violence increased sharply in mid-December, resulting in a massive new surge of refugees crossing the border, which Uganda is now faced with hosting in refugee camps. Kat Nickerson (June 2012) and Defence Web (South Africa) and ACT Alliance and Observer (Uganda)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Feb-18 World View -- Thousands of DR Congo refugees pour into Uganda to escape tribal violence thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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    12-Feb-18 World View -- What was Kim Yo-jong thinking as she returned to North Korea from the Olympics?

    Moon Jae-in faces some difficult decisions

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Kim Yo-jong, the North Korean dictator's sister, charms the Olympics


    Kim Yo-jong and Moon Jae-in share an intimate moment as they watch a performance by North Korea’s Samjiyon art troupe at the National Theater of Korea in central Seoul on Sunday. (Yonhap)
    Kim Yo-jong and Moon Jae-in share an intimate moment as they watch a performance by North Korea’s Samjiyon art troupe at the National Theater of Korea in central Seoul on Sunday. (Yonhap)

    History has been made this weekend, as the visit by North Korean officials to the Winter Olympics in Seoul has produced a softening of tensions between North and South Korea, and is succeeding in driving a wedge between South Korea and its allies, the United States and Japan. North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un is truly a brilliant at marketing.

    And best of all was Kim Yo-jong, the dictator's sister. She not only charmed president Moon Jae-in, she also charmed all of South Korea and in fact the whole world.

    That's what you would believe if you read the mainstream media coverage of the Seoul Olympics.

    US Vice President Mike Pence was described as "the loneliest figure" in the audience. He is described as having "snubbed" Kim Yo-jong, who was seated just a few feet away from him. Pence was truly the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

    Pence posted a tweet:

    The US will not allow the propaganda charade by the North Korean regime to go unchallenged on the world state. the world can NOT turn a blind eye to the oppression & threats of the Kim regime."

    Kim Jong-un was reported as saying that Pence's behavior was "shameful" and "snobbish."

    Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe apparently tried to bring things back down to earth by saying, "Now is not the time to postpone U.S.-South Korea military exercises. It is important to move forward with the drills as planned." Abe was referring to the joint military exercises that had been postponed because of North Korea's attendance at the Olympics. The South Korean government told him in essence that it was none of his business. Korea Herald and Reuters

    Kim Yo-jong returns to Pyongyang with fond memories and an invitation for Moon

    Before leaving Seoul on Sunday, Kim Yo-jong invited South Korea's president Moon Jae-in to visit her in Pyongyang, and also said that she'd like to visit Seoul again:

    "Honestly, I never thought I would visit (the South) so suddenly and believed much would be strange and different but I saw many things that were similar or the same. Here's to hoping that we could see the pleasant people (of the South) again in Pyeongchang and bring closer the future where we are one again."

    I thought that this was a very interesting statement, because it reminded me of the surprising outcome of a visit by Russia's Boris Yeltsin to the United States in 1989.


    Boris Yeltsin visits Randall's Supermarket in Texas on September 16, 1989 (Houston Chronicle)
    Boris Yeltsin visits Randall's Supermarket in Texas on September 16, 1989 (Houston Chronicle)

    Yeltsin was visiting the Johnson Space Center in Houston on September 16, 1989, when suddenly he asked to go shopping at a grocery store to be chosen more or less at random. He ended up at Randall's Supermarket in Clear Lake, and was astounded at the bewildering variety of products available to American shoppers. He had been led to believe that the grocery stores in America were even worse than the ones in Soviet Russia, and he was shocked to learn the truth.

    According to Yeltsin's autobiography, this visit changed his life, and shattered his view of communism. Two years later he left the Communist Party, and started making economic reforms. He wrote in his autobiography:

    When I saw those shelves crammed with hundreds, thousands of cans, cartons and goods of every possible sort, for the first time I felt quite frankly sick with despair for the Soviet people. That such a potentially super-rich country as ours has been brought to a state of such poverty! It is terrible to think of it."

    So, when Kim Yo-jong says that she "saw many things that were similar or the same," what was she thinking? Was she reflecting on the many things that were dissimilar, and how much better off the South Korean people are than the North Korean people?

    It's an interesting speculation, but Kim Jong-un is no Yeltsen. Nothing short of war is going to stop North Korea from developing its arsenal of nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles.

    Still, there are many questions: What is Kim Yo-jong thinking? Will she try to convince her brother to end his nuclear weapons program? And if she does try, will he have her killed, the way he's had other family members killed? Inquiring minds want to know.

    At any rate, Kim Yo-jong passed on to Moon an invitation from the dictator to visit North Korea “at his earliest convenience." AP and Houston Chronicle (7-Apr-2014)

    Moon Jae-in faces some difficult decisions

    Kim Yo-jong is pretty, and Moon Jae-in is charming, and they make a very attractive couple, and the media have been fawning over them, but the core issues haven't changed.

    Kim Jong-un has already said that he can reach the United States with a nuclear weapon, and that he's safe from attack, though that's believed to be an exaggeration. It's believed that the purpose of his Olympics charm offensive was to buy at least two months' time to continue development. And now by inviting Moon to visit him, he hopes to buy some more time.

    Now it's up to Moon to make the next move, and there are a number of questions to be answered:

    The politics behind the "bloody nose" attack are very interesting. I've heard one analyst after another say that such an attack is "clearly and obviously impossible," because the North would immediately retaliate with a massive artillery attack on Seoul.

    But actually that doesn't make sense, as the logic points in the opposite direction. Assuming that a way can be found to destroy North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile development facilities, the North would just have to accept it. If the North retaliated and attacked Seoul, then the next American attack would completely destroy Kim Jong-un's government, and Kim himself would be killed.

    American government officials have been extremely clear that they will not permit North Korea to "have a deliverable atomic weapon that can reach the United States reliably. It just cannot be," in the words of John Kelly, echoing statements by Donald Trump, H.R. McMaster, Steve Bannon, Lindsey Graham, and others.

    These are all considerations that Moon will have to take into account, as he decides what his next steps will be.

    Rep. Choo Mi-ae, of Moon's left-wing Democratic party, welcomed the North's proposal for a summit meeting:

    "If an inter-Korean summit is realized, it will be recorded as the biggest achievement of the PyeongChang Olympics. We have to work with greater responsibility as we make preparations and respond carefully to the invitation.

    Although there may be disagreements and concerns at home and abroad, what's clear is that peace stems from dialogue and it's impossible to oppose dialogue if we want peace."

    However, Rep. Chang Je-won, right-wing opposition Liberty Korea Party criticized Moon for not raising the denuclearization issue with Kim Yo-jong during her visit:

    "We once again warn that a visit by the president to North Korea, unless it is premised on denuclearization, would be nothing more than a congratulatory delegation celebrating (the North's) nuclear development and would amount to an enemy-benefiting act."

    Korea Herald and Reuters and Yonhap News

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Feb-18 World View -- What was Kim Yo-jong thinking as she returned to North Korea from the Olympics? thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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    11-Feb-18 World View -- Syrian war escalates sharply, after Israel, Iran, Turkey and Russia all lose aircraft

    With defeat of ISIS, war escalates, and Syria becomes more fragmented and chaotic

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Israel's F-16 warplane shot down in aftermath of downing Iranian drone


    Russian warplane shot down in Idlib province last week by al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), using a portable surface-to-air missile. (AFP)
    Russian warplane shot down in Idlib province last week by al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), using a portable surface-to-air missile. (AFP)

    It was just a week ago, on February 3, that a Russian warplane was shot down in Idlib province by al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), using a portable surface-to-air missile. The pilot ejected, and was killed on the ground.

    An Israeli F-16 warplane was shot down on Saturday by massive anti-aircraft fire fired by the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad and by Hezbollah in Lebanon. Both pilots ejected and were rescued on Israeli soil. One pilot was severely injured.

    The series of incidents began when Israel detected what it assessed was an Iranian drone crossing into Israel from Syria. The Iranian drone was successfully intercepted by an Apache combat helicopter. the drone was downed by the Apache and recovered intact.

    The drone had been launched from an Iranian launch pad near Palmyra in central Syria. Israel retaliated with an air strikes against the launch pad, as well as against a dozen Syrian and Iranian targets.

    Israel's warplanes were met with heavy anti-aircraft fire from both Syria and Lebanon, suggesting that the drone attack might have been a planned ambush, with retaliation by the Syrian regime and Hezbollah. One Israeli F-16 warplane was downed by a Syrian anti-aircraft weapon, most likely an SA-5 supplied by Iran.

    Iran's foreign ministry spokesman said that Iran was only in Syria in an "advisory" role:

    "The claim about the flight of an Iranian drone and Iran’s involvement in the downing of a Zionist fighter jet is so ridiculous that it does not merit a comment.

    This is because the Islamic Republic of Iran has advisory presence in Syria at the request of the country’s legitimate and lawful government."

    Iran's Brigadier General Hossein Salami was even more belligerent, saying that Iran would create a "hell" for the Zionists, and that all American military bases in the region are within range of Iranian missile strikes.

    Many analysts had hoped that the Iran nuclear deal would moderate Iran's behavior. Instead, it appears that the infusion of huge amounts of money by lifting sanctions has made Iran much more aggressive in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen. Iran continues to militarize its "Shia Crescent," and threaten Israel.

    Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said:

    "I've been warning for some time about the dangers of Iran's military entrenchment in Syria. Iran seeks to us a Syrian territory to attack Israel, for its professed goal of destroying Israel. ...

    Our policy is absolutely clear: Israel will defend itself against any attack and any attempt to harm our sovereignty. Iran made such an attempt today. It violated our sovereignty, it infiltrated Israeli territory with an [unmanned] aircraft from Syrian territory.

    This is both our right and our duty and we will continue to do so as much as necessary. Let no one make a mistake about this."

    Reuven Ben Shalom, a former Israeli fighter pilot, was even more belligerent, saying that Israel's aggressive actions send a clear message to Iran and Syria:

    "This demonstrates our capabilities, demonstrates our resolve not to allow the breach of Israeli sovereignty. That means we can do whatever we want to do, we can take out any component we want, wherever we want. And I think it’s good that our enemies learn and understand these capabilities."

    Debka (Israel) and Jerusalem Post and Tasnim News (Tehran) and Tasnim News and VOA

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    Turkish helicopter shot down in Afrin, days after Russian warplane downed in Idlib

    On January 20, Turkey began its invasion of northern Syria, ironically named "Operation Olive Branch," to defeat the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). The plan was a quick victory in the northern city of Afrin, followed by an advance eastward toward Manbij, where it was feared that they would clash with US forces.

    Achieving victory in Afrin has been going slower than promised, and on Saturday, YPG militias shot down a Turkish helicopter, resulting in the deaths of up to 11 Turkish soldiers.

    Estimates are that since Operation Olive Branch began, the YPG has killed over 20 Turkish soldiers, and the Turks have killed over 150 Kurdish fight.

    On Saturday, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave a speech, saying:

    "A little while ago, one of our helicopters was downed. Of course all these things will happen - we are in a war. We will have losses, but we will also cause losses. Yesterday we destroyed and annihilated a very large rocket depot. Of course the YPG got mad about that. But of course we will make them pay heavily for that. Maybe one of our helicopters is gone, but they will pay for this. Not in kind, but so much more, because we are determined, and we believe we are superior. We will succeed in this as well."

    It was just a week ago, on February 3, that a Russian warplane was shot down in Idlib province by al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), using a portable surface-to-air missile. The pilot ejected, and was killed on the ground.

    Russia and Syria have both been taking revenge this past week by massive bombing of civilian neighborhoods in Eastern Ghouta and Idlib, including continued use of chlorine gas. Estimates are that 230 civilians have been killed by Russia and Syria in the last week. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Reuters and Globe and Mail (Canada)

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    With defeat of ISIS, war escalates, and Syria becomes more fragmented and chaotic

    The war in Syria has sharply escalated this week. Four countries have lost a military aircraft in Syria in the last week. On Saturday, three countries lost military aircraft on a single day, just days after the same happened to a fourth country. So Iran lost a drone, Israel lost a warplane, Turkey lost a helicopter, and Russia lost a warplane.

    There are at least 14 armies and militias operating in Syria now: Syria, Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, Turkey, Free Syrian Army (FSA), Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), People’s Protection Units (YPG), Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Israel, United States, al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), and the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

    Sometimes the alliances are clear. For example, Turkey and the FSA are allied against the SDF and the YPG. Syria, Iran and Hezbollah are allied against Israel. Syria, Iran, Hezbollah and Russia are allied against Sunni civilians. In other cases, the alliances are fuzzy, such as the relationship between Turkey and the FSA.

    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 ISIS has been defeated, all of these conflicting objectives have been exposed, and all of these different armies and militias have no one to shoot at but each other.

    Each of these 14 armies and militias has a different objective. Some of them want a piece of Syria. Other just want to keep someone else from getting a piece of Syria. In the middle of everything, you have the psychopathic war criminal Bashar al-Assad. These conflicting objectives mean that there will be no peace in Syria for a long, long time. The Drive

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Feb-18 World View -- Syrian war escalates sharply, after Israel, Iran, Turkey and Russia all lose aircraft thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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    10-Feb-18 World View -- Egypt's army announces major counter-terrorism operation in Sinai - with Israel's help

    Multiple reports indicate that Egypt and Israel are cooperating in Sinai

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Egypt's army launches 'Comprehensive Operation Sinai 2018' to purge country of terrorism


    From November 2017: Rescue personnel at the site of the bomb blast at Al-Rawda mosque in North Sinai. (Gulf News)
    From November 2017: Rescue personnel at the site of the bomb blast at Al-Rawda mosque in North Sinai. (Gulf News)

    Egypt's army announced the launch of a major military operation in the Sinai Peninsula. The operation will be targeting several jihadist terror militias, but it's expected that the major target will be the Bedouin-based Sinai terrorist group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM - Ansar Jerusalem - Champions of Jerusalem), which changed its name to al-Wilayat Sinai (Province of Sinai) when it changed its allegiance in 2015 from al-Qaeda to the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

    In November, at least 235 people were killed when ABM terrorists stormed the Al-Rawda mosque in Bir al-Abed in Egypt's Northern Sinai with explosives and gunfire with heavy weapons.

    At that time, Egypt's president Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi promised revenge for these "vile and treacherous" attacks:

    "The army and police will avenge our martyrs and return security and stability with force in the coming short period."

    Egypt declared a nationwide state of emergency last April when twin suicide bombings on Palm Sunday at two Coptic churches in two cities north of Cairo killed at least 47 people.

    In 2014, al-Sisi declared a state of emergency in northern Sinai following a suicide bombing that killed 33 soldiers. He said at the time that "the war in Sinai will last for a long time, as there are a lot of terrorists hiding in the peninsula, but this new level of attacks has put us in a new level of planning too in order to combat the terrorism there."

    The operation announced on Friday is called "Comprehensive Operation Sinai 2018." The operation is said to be unprecedented in its scope, coordination and size, involving thousands of troops. According to the army's announcement:

    "[This] morning the law enforcement forces began to implement the Comprehensive confrontation plan of terrorist and criminal elements and organizations in North and Central Sinai and other areas of the Delta of Egypt and the Western Desert linebacker. [The objectives are] clearing areas where there are terrorist hotbeds, and to fortify Egyptian society from the evils of terrorism and extremism in parallel with other crimes affecting security and internal stability. ...

    As part of ongoing law enforcement efforts, elements of the Air Force have targeted some of the hotspots, dens, weapons and ammunition depots used by terrorist elements as a base for targeting law enforcement forces and civilian targets in Northern and Central Sinai."

    The timing of the operation is probably related to Egypt's 2018 presidential election, in which el-Sisi is running for reelection. The election will be held on March 26-28. Al-Ahram (Cairo) and Egypt Today

    Multiple reports indicate that Egypt and Israel are cooperating in Sinai

    For several years, there have been reports that Egypt and Israel have been cooperating in Egypt's Sinai region. These reports were not confirmed, and some readers criticized me for mentioning them at all. Nonetheless, I always believed that they were true, because they made sense. Terrorists in Northern Sinai were killing Egyptians, and they were also shooting missiles across the border into Israeli towns. It seemed logical that the two countries would cooperate military to destroy their common enemy.

    Now, in the last two weeks, there have been a flurry of new reports about this. Once again, the reports have not been officially confirmed, but they're now widely believed.

    Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1979. The treaty included the provisions that neither Israel nor Egypt can mass military forces or take military actions in Northern Sinai.

    Several years ago, Israel and Egypt announced that Israel was waiving the restriction on Egypt's military in Sinai, so that Egypt's army could fight the jihadist militias. However, the possibility of Israeli airstrikes into Sinai is clearly forbidden by the treaty, and if permitted by Egypt would be a very controversial issue in the Arab world, and could expose Egypt to criticism from its Arab allies.

    Last week, the NY Times reported the following:

    "For more than two years, unmarked Israeli drones, helicopters and jets have carried out a covert air campaign, conducting more than 100 airstrikes inside Egypt, frequently more than once a week — and all with the approval of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi."

    The report has been dubbed "fake news" by some Arab media, but there seems to be little doubt that it's true. BBC and Middle East Eye and VOA and Jerusalem Post

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Feb-18 World View -- Egypt's army announces major counter-terrorism operation in Sinai - with Israel's help thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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    9-Feb-18 World View -- US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) clash with Syrian regime forces

    International Crisis Groups asks Russia to prevent Israel-Iran war in Syria

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) clash with Syrian regime forces


    CNN goes on patrol with US soldiers in Syria
    CNN goes on patrol with US soldiers in Syria

    The war in Syria may have gotten even more chaotic on Thursday when US-backed Syrian Defense Forces (SDF), backed by US warplanes, clashed with pro-regime Syrian army forces and allies. The pro-regime forces launched a massive, coordinated attack on the SDF, and were driven back with the aid of US warplanes.

    The US had been observing the buildup of the pro-regime forces for several days, as they prepared for this assault on the SDF. During that period, the US forces contacted the Russians over an established "de-confliction" hotline that was set up to prevent such clashes. However, the pro-regime forces attacked anyway, and the SDF forces counter-attacked in self-defense.

    According to Pentagon spokesman Dana White:

    "Syrian pro-regime forces moved in a battalion-sized unit formation supported by artillery, tanks, multiple-launch rocket systems and mortars

    Syrian Democratic Forces acted in self-defense with support from the coalition to defeat an unprovoked attack by Syrian pro-regime forces in eastern Syria. Pro-regime forces initiated what appeared to be a coordinated attack on Syrian Democratic Forces east of the Euphrates River deconfliction line.

    After 20 to 30 artillery and tank rounds landed within 500 meters of the SDF headquarters, the Syrian democratic forces , supported by the coalition, targeted the aggressors with a combination of air and artillery strikes,

    Coalition advisors were with the SDF, and this action was taken in self-defense. Pro-regime vehicles and personnel that were turned around and headed back west were not targeted."

    The Syrian regime attack on the SDF took place to the east of the Euphrates River, where US-backed forces have been continuing to fight forces from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) that had been expelled by the SDF from their self-described caliphate in Raqqa.

    According to the Pentagon, an estimated 100 regime fighters were killed, out of a total of regime fighters, who were backed by artillery, tanks, multiple-launch rocket systems and mortars in the assault.

    The Syrian regime said that the US-backed forces had committed a "barbaric aggression" representing a "war crime":

    "This new aggression, which represents a war crime and a crime against humanity and a direct support to terrorism, affirms the nature of the low US intentions against the sovereignty of Syria, the unity of its land and people and the US exploitation of the pretext of fighting terrorism to establish illegal bases on the Syrian territory."

    With the Syrian regime dropping barrel bombs containing metal laced with chlorine gas on women and children in Eastern Ghouta and Idlib, it's really laughable for the regime to accuse anyone of anything. According to one doctor, "Ghouta is drowning in blood," where on the same day, Thursday, 100 people were wounded and at least 14 killed, including a rescue worker and several children. Syria's president Bashar al-Assad is still the worst genocidal monster so far in the 21st century. RFE/RL and Dept. of Defense and Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) and Guardian (London)

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    International Crisis Groups asks Russia to prevent Israel-Iran war in Syria

    Regular readers will recall that for the last two years it's been apparent that Syria, Turkey, Iran, Hezbollah, and the SDF were all fighting ISIS, but that as soon as ISIS was defeated, they would start fighting each other.

    So you have the Syrian civil war between the regime plus al-Assad plus the Russians plus Iran plus Hezbollah versus the "anti-Assad rebel" resistance force. You also have the Turks fighting against the Kurds, where the fight in Afrin continues to drag on. And you have occasional flare-ups of violence between the SDF and the regime, as happened on Thursday. And the Israelis are conducting a counter-terrorism campaign against Hezbollah in the south of Syria.

    It's this last war within a war that the International Crisis Group (ICG) described in a report on Thursday as the most dangerous and likely to grow through miscalculation into a larger war.

    According to the report:

    "The Syrian war has entered a new stage with the regime of Bashar al-Assad gaining the upper hand. Israel, no longer content to remain a bystander as Damascus’s position improves, is now jockeying to reverse the deterioration of its strategic posture. In this endeavor it has formidable obstacles to overcome: the regime is more dependent than ever on Iran, which Israel regards as its most implacable state foe; other enemies, particularly Hezbollah and Iran-backed Shiite militias, are entrenched in Syria with Russia’s blessing; and the U.S., notwithstanding the Trump administration’s strident rhetoric, has done little to reverse Iran’s gains. Yet Israel’s hand is not so weak. Russia has given it room to act against Iran-linked military interests and appears to be more interested in balancing contending fighting coalitions than returning every last piece of territory to the Assad regime’s control. But if Russia wishes to eventually withdraw or draw down its forces, it will need to broker rules of the game. Russia has indicated scant interest in doing so, but if it does not, hostilities between Israel and Iran may threaten its accomplishments, particularly regime stability."

    The report says that this is going to result in a larger war through miscalculation, unless Russia takes on the responsibility of mediating a solution. The report says:

    "Russia should broker understandings that bolster the de-escalation agreement distancing Iran-backed forces from Syria’s armistice line with Israel; halt Iran’s construction of precision missile facilities and its military infrastructure in Syria; and convince Israel to acquiesce in foreign forces remaining in the rest of Syria pending a deal on the country’s future."

    One can only think that this is a joke. None of these actors -- Iran, Syria, Hezbollah or Israel -- is going to agree to anything like this.

    In fact, the thought of Russia negotiating some sort of peace agreement is itself a joke. Russia has already negotiating "de-confliction zones" or "ceasefire zones" in its Astana (Kazakhstan) peace process, but now Russia itself is the biggest violator of its own agreement, but massive bombing of deconfliction zones in Eastern Ghouta and Idlib.

    Russia can't negotiate a peace agreement because Russia wants to exterminate the same Sunni Muslims that al-Assad wants to exterminate. For Russia, a "peace agreement" is total destruction of the enemy who, in this case, are millions of mostly innocent civilians.

    The United Nations can't broker a peace because the United Nations is itself a joke.

    There's only one entity that could possibly play the role of forcing a negotiated peace, and that's the United States, Policeman of the World. But the US, even with the help of a US-led coalition, has neither the desire nor the ability to succeed at that role, and still has its hands full fighting ISIS.

    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. International Crisis Group and Middle East Eye and Arab News

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Feb-18 World View -- US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) clash with Syrian regime forces thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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    8-Feb-18 World View -- Nigeria threatens Cameroon as 40,000 refugees cross the border

    Nigeria sends army to curb violence between herders and farmers

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Nigeria threatens Cameroon as 40,000 refugees cross the border


    Cameroon Francophone security forces (AFP)
    Cameroon Francophone security forces (AFP)

    Some 30,000-40,000 refugees from the Anglophone (English-speaking) Southern Cameroons region of Cameroon have been flooding across the border into Nigeria, to escape violence and atrocities by the security forces of the Francophone (French-speaking) government of Cameroon's president Paul Biya.

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

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

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

    The October 1 marches were led by separatist activist Sisiku Ayuk Tabe.

    On January 5, Nigeria captured Tabe while at a meeting in Abuja, Nigeria. Tabe was arrested with 46 of his supporters. After much political debate and calculation within the Nigerian government, a decision was made to extradite Tabe and his supporters back to Cameroon for trial. The extradition faced international criticism, because it was feared that the Biya government would torture them and give them an unfair trial.

    It's possible that Nigeria gave in to the extradition hoping somehow that it would calm the situation on the border, or whatever. With tens of thousands of Anglophone civilians fleeing across the border into Nigeria, the Nigerians may have been desperate enough to try anything.

    But now there's a major new complication. As Anglophone Cameroonians have been fleeing into Nigerian, Francophone Cameroonian soldiers have been crossing the border in violation of international law, following the fleeing refugees, arresting some of them, and taking them back to Cameroon.

    Even worse, some of the people that the Cameroon soldiers arrested were actually Nigerian citizens, infuriating Nigeria's government.

    Nigeria's Senator Enoh alleged that over 80 Cameroonian soldiers with various weapons crossed the international border of the Danare-Daddi/Danre-Bodom axis and abducted five natives.

    "This is a calculated assault/offence from the Cameroonian military on Nigeria and on outright defiance of Nigeria territorial sovereignty, not minding the consequences of crossing the international boundary to carry out intimidations and harassment on the already alarmed citizens of Danare, with warnings of further assault."

    There are increasing fears that the situation in Southern Cameroons is spiraling out of control, especially since Cameroon's 84-year-old president Paul Biya is willing to use any amount of violence, slaughter, torture and abuse to stay in power.

    Cameroon's last generational crisis war was the "UPC Revolt," 1956-1960, which was a bloody civil war by communists attacking the French government in the Cameroun colony. The outcome was independence in 1961, when the British Cameroons colony and the French Cameroun colony were merged into a single country, and the Anglophones became a disadvantaged and marginalized minority. Today, Cameroon is right on the cusp of entering a generational Crisis era, which means that it's possible that the current violence could spiral into a new civil war, this time between the Anglophones and the Francophones. Vanguard (Nigeria) and Independent (Nigeria) and Vanguard (30-Jan)

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    Nigeria sends army to curb violence between herders and farmers

    On January 31, a group of young men believed to be from the Christian Tiv farmer ethnic group attacked travelers waiting at the Gboko bus station in central Nigeria. The travelers were said to have "light skin and look like Fulanis," referring to the Muslim Fulani herder ethnic group. The Tiv attackers used sticks, stones and machetes to subdue the victims, and then set them on fire.

    The attack is believed to be in revenge for an attack a week earlier by armed Fulanis who stormed a Tiv farming village and opened fire on the residents.

    These are just two of a series of increasingly violent tit-for-tat attacks between herders and farmers. Herders are mostly Muslims from the Fulani tribe. Farmers are mostly Christians from a number of tribes, including the Tiv, Mambila and Bachama tribes. About 168 people were killed in these tit-for-tat attacks in January alone.

    On Wednesday, Nigeria's army announced the launch of "Exercise Ayem Akpatum," a phrase that is said to mean "Cat race" in the Tiv language. The exercise will run from February 15 to March 31, 2018.

    It is "aimed at curbing all cases of kidnapping, armed banditry, cattle rustling in Kaduna and Niger states, sundry crimes in Kogi state and herdsmen/farmers clashes in all respective states, especially in Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa states." Focus will be placed on raids, search operations, anti-kidnapping drills, road blocks, check points and humanitarian activities such as medical outreaches.

    I have my doubts that "Exercise Ayem Akpatum" is going to do anything to solve the problem, but that remains to be seen.

    As I've described many times in Central African Republic, Rwanda, Nigeria, 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.

    As in the case of the Cameroon situation, there are fears that the increasing violence between herders and farmers in Nigeria today will spiral into full-scale civil war. Nigeria's last generational crisis war was the Biafran War or Nigerian Civil War, fought between Nigeria and the secessionist Republic of Biafra. The war began on July 1967, and ended on January 11, 1970, with the surrender of Biafra.

    Since that war climaxed only 48 years ago, Nigeria is in a generational Unraveling era, and there are plenty of traumatized survivors of that war still alive who will do anything to prevent it from happening again. So there will not be a new civil war at the present time, but this localized violence between herders and farmers will continue and worsen. AFP and AFP (1-Feb) and Nigerian Eye and Nigerian Government

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    7-Feb-18 World View -- Maldives crisis pits India vs China in the Indian Ocean

    Maldives president arrests Supreme Court justices to get favorable court ruling

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Maldives president arrests Supreme Court justices to get favorable court ruling


    Map showing strategic location of Maldives and Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean
    Map showing strategic location of Maldives and Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean

    India is debating whether it will be necessary to intervene military in the Maldives, as the government appears to be getting increasingly unstable.

    Maldives is an archipelago of around 1,200 islands in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of India, with enormous strategic significance because of its proximity to international sea lanes through which two-thirds of the world’s oil and half its container shipments pass.

    Maldives has had one presidential crisis after another for years, but the current crisis began most acutely in March 2015, when president Abdulla Yameen jailed Mohamed Nasheed, a former president who had been the only democratically elected president in the country's history. Nasheed and a dozen supporters were jailed on "terrorism" charges, which Nasheed said were politically motivated.

    Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in jail, but in 2016 he was permitted to go the UK for emergency medical treatment. While in the UK, he was granted asylum, and he's lived there in exile.

    Last week, the Supreme Court ruled that the 2015 convictions were unconstitutional, and that all of Nasheed's supporters should be released from jail.

    In response, Yameen ordered the police to arrest two of the Supreme Court justices. The remaining three judges then reversed the previous order to free Nasheed's supporters, and so they remain in jail. Yameen has ordered a 15-day state of emergency and imposed martial law, giving him and the police unlimited authority to arrest anyone without charging them.

    The biggest industry in the Maldives is tourism, and this is the height of the tourist season. The US, the UK, India and China are all advising citizens not to travel to the Maldives for fear that the political chaos could turn into street violence.

    Nasheed, still in exile, is calling on India to intervene militarily. India did intervene militarily in 1998, when Maldives was under attack from Sri Lankan Tamil militants. Today, India is keeping its navy on alert and continuing patrols around the Maldives islands, but there are no plans now to intervene. Al-Jazeera and New Delhi TV and BBC and Daily Telegraph (Australia) and AP

    Maldives crisis pits India vs China in the Indian Ocean

    When Mohamed Nasheed was president, Maldives had a close relationship with the UK and India. However, president Yameen has distanced himself from the UK and India, and is developing close relationships with China, much to the distress of India.

    Under Yameen, Maldives has also developed close relations with Saudi Arabia. In June, 2017, Maldives joined in the blockade by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain against Qatar.

    For decades, India has considered both Maldives and Sri Lanka to be part of its major sphere of influence. But China has invaded both countries with infrastructure projects, gaining influence at India's expense. China has recently taken control of Sri Lanka's southern Hambantota seaport.

    India was shocked on December 8 when China and Maldives signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). This brings Maldives into China's Maritime Silk Road, a component of China's Belt and Road Initiative. Other agreements provided for cooperation in health, tourism, technology and climate change. When combined with China's control of Sri Lanka's Hambantota seaport, this gives China considerable control over the sea lanes in the India Ocean. The Diplomat and First Post (India) and Nikkei Asian Review and The Diplomat (21-Apr-2017)

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    6-Feb-18 World View -- Syria's Bashar al-Assad steps up use of chemical weapons on his own people

    UN Security Council is worthless as Syria uses chemical weapons with impunity

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Syria's Bashar al-Assad steps up use of chemical weapons on his own people


    A poison hazard danger sign in the town of Khan Shaykun, Idlib province, Syria (picture-alliance/AA/A. Dagul)
    A poison hazard danger sign in the town of Khan Shaykun, Idlib province, Syria (picture-alliance/AA/A. Dagul)

    Rescue workers are reporting that warplanes from the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad and from his ally Russia have stepped up bombing attacks on civilians in densely populated neighborhoods in Eastern Ghouta and Idlib, and the use of chlorine gas has been stepped up. At least 29 people were killed.

    Typically chlorine gas is deliver through the use of barrel bombs. The barrel bombs are filled with metal and chlorine gas in order to kill as many people as possible.

    Al-Assad has used Sarin gas in the past to kill dozens or hundreds of people at a time. As a chemical weapon, chlorine gas doesn't immediately kill as many people as Sarin, but it's used in a different way. When warplanes start bombing women and children particularly hide in basements of buildings. Since chlorine gas is heavier than air, it seeps down into the basements and forces the choking women and children out into the open, where they can be targeted by missiles and gunfire.

    As I've written many times in the past, Bashar al-Assad is the worst genocidal monster so far this century. The Syrian war began in 2011 when al-Assad ordered his army and air force to attack peacefully protesting civilians, including women and children. Things really 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. Shia/Alawite al-Assad considers almost all Sunni Muslims to be cockroaches to be exterminated. AP and Reuters and Deutsche Welle

    UN Security Council is worthless as Syria uses chemical weapons with impunity

    At the United Nations Security Council meeting on Monday, US Ambassador Nicki Haley condemned Russia for blocking investigations into the use of chemical weapons in Syria:

    "The news out of Syria this morning is following a troubling pattern. Victims of what appears to be chlorine gas are pouring into hospitals. ...

    Under the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Security Council Resolution 2118, the Assad regime’s obligations are clear: It must immediately stop using all chemical weapons. We spent much of last year in this council watching one country protect the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons by refusing to hold them responsible."

    The reason that Russia is using its veto to block investigations of chemical weapons attacks in Syria is because Russia knows that Syria is using the chemical weapons to target innocent civilians. Bashar al-Assad is a war criminal, but Russia's president Vladimir Putin is also a war criminal, and there's honor among thieves or, in this case, honor among war criminals.

    The Russians don't want to make the same disastrous mistake they made in 2013, after al-Assad's Sarin gas attack, killing hundreds of civilians. Russia allowed an investigation to go ahead, but they were too clever by half by allowing the investigation to go forward, but the investigators were forbidden from assigning blame. So A U.N. chemical weapons team was authorized to investigate the incident. However, thanks to a threatened Russian veto, the U.N. team was forbidden from assigning blame for the Sarin attack. But the team found a clever way of assigning blame without having to say it. In their scientific analysis of the evidence, they included calculations of the trajectories of the rockets that delivered the Sarin gas. They drew no conclusions about where the rockets were launched, but they provided enough scientific information within the report so that experts studying the report could analyze the trajectories to prove that the rockets must have been launched from a Syrian Republican Guard unit.

    There have been several investigations of the 2013 Sarin gas attack, and there are thousands of pieces of evidence that al-Assad used Sarin gas on ordinary civilians, including forensic collections and analyses, photos, videos, eyewitness testimony, doctors' testimony, the UNSC report, analyses of the UNSC report, and so forth, proving al-Assad's repeated use of chemical weapons, including Sarin gas and chlorine gas.

    As if that weren't enough, there was a new report last week that a new investigation used laboratory tests to prove that the Sarin gas used in the 2013 attack was identical to the Sarin gas that al-Assad turned over to investigators in 2013 when he agreed to permanently eliminate Syria's chemical weapons program. The new tests prove, once again, that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the 2013 Sarin gas attack, though that hasn't been in doubt for years.

    After the attack, al-Assad didn't admit he was responsible, but agreed to a destroy a 1,300 metric ton stockpile of chemicals related to the 2013 attack. Few people believed that al-Assad followed through on his promise, and laboratory tests since then proved that he didn't.

    I've been around for a few decades, and I keep asking myself, how could all this be happening? We have al-Assad's use of chemical weapons with impunity, we have Russia invading and annexing Ukraine's Crimea peninsula, we have China building illegal large military bases in the South China Sea with the obvious intention soon of controlling all access to the South China Sea, and we have China building multiple large nuclear missile systems whose only purpose is to attack the United States in a preemptive attack. At the same time, we have a political clown circus going on in Washington, and an equally idiotic Brexit circus going on in London.

    I know that Generational Dynamics has predicted all along that this sort of thing was going to happen, but I still react in amazement every day how the world has completely lost all common sense and is pushing itself off the edge of a cliff, guided by sheer insanity. It's astonishing. How could all this be happening? Politico and Reuters (30-Jan)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Feb-18 World View -- Syria's Bashar al-Assad steps up use of chemical weapons on his own people thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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    5-Feb-18 World View -- Hundreds of thousands in Athens Greece protest Macedonia name compromise

    Officials go from optimism to pessimism over solving Macedonia issue

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Hundreds of thousands in Athens Greece protest Macedonia name compromise


    Hundreds of thousands of Greeks rallied in Athens on Sunday (Sky News)
    Hundreds of thousands of Greeks rallied in Athens on Sunday (Sky News)

    Chances to resolve a major European dispute dimmed considerably on Sunday, when hundreds of thousands of Greeks crowded into Syntagma Square in the center of Athens on Sunday to protest any name change that contains the word "Macedonia." Crowd size estimates varied from 140,000 to one million.

    The dispute is between Greece and the country just north of Greece known as the "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" (FYROM), or informally (outside of Greece) as just "Republic of Macedonia."

    Greece has vetoed attempts by Macedonia to join either Nato or the EU because many Greeks consider "Macedonia" to be pure Greek name, and they oppose another other country using it as part of their own name. They are especially infuriated by Macedonia's claims that Alexander the Great was Macedonian. They claim that he was Greek because at that time the Kingdom of Macedon was part of Greece.

    The proposed compromises involve adding a modifier, such as "Republic of New Macedonia," or "Republic of Upper Macedonia." In the past, right-wing nationalistic governments in both Greece and Macedonia were refusing to accept any compromise. However, it's been hoped that a compromise will be reached this year, because the governing parties in both countries are left-wing.

    In Athens, the protests were led by 93-year-old composer Mikis Theodorakis, who wrote the score for "Zorba the Greek." He has always been on the far left, but on Sunday he was supporting the far right in opposing any compromise on the Macedonia name. On Saturday, self-described Anarchists spray-painted red paint all over his home, but on Sunday he said, "I am calm and ready." Kathimerini (Athens) and Greek Reporter and BBC and Meta (Macedonia)

    Officials go from optimism to pessimism over solving Macedonia issue


    The statue of Alexander the Great in Freedom Square in the heart of Skopje, Macedonia's capital city, infuriates the Greeks
    The statue of Alexander the Great in Freedom Square in the heart of Skopje, Macedonia's capital city, infuriates the Greeks

    There has been growing hope expressed by officials in Nato and the European Union, in Macedonia and even among some officials in Greece, that finally this decades-old struggle might finally be resolved.

    However, Sunday's huge anti-compromise rally in Athens is going to make compromise difficult. Opinion polls show that a majority of Greeks oppose the use of "Macedonia" in any compromise solution. About 300,000 people turned out at a demonstration on Jan. 21 in Thessaloniki, capital of Greece’s Macedonia region. Even members of Greece's parliament who would like to adopt a compromise know that they will have to face angry voters in the next election.

    Some Greek officials are saying that there are very real reasons for concern in agreeing to allow "Macedonia" to be part of FYROM's new name. These concerns stem from FYROM's constitution.

    Article 3 of the FYROM constitution says that the country "has no territorial claims against neighboring countries," but also states that the country’s borders could change in accordance with "the principle of free will and in agreement with internationally accepted rules."

    Article 49 raises the greatest concerns:

    "The republic is interested in the regime and the rights of all persons belonging to the Macedonian people in neighboring countries, as well as Macedonian expats, by assisting in their cultural development and and promoting bonds between them."

    Greek officials are concerned that when the lawyers take over at some future time, then these articles could be used to claim that any Greeks living in Greece's Macedonian provinces are under the jurisdiction of the Republic of Macedonia.

    Any compromise agreement would have to be ratified by the parliaments of both countries by a 2/3 majority. If there is no ratification, then each country would have to hold a referendum. There has been a lot of optimism that this problem will be solved this year, but Sunday's huge rally in Athens must at least turn some of that optimism to pessimism. Balkan EU and Greek Reporter (24-Jan) and Greek Reporter (16-Jan)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Feb-18 World View -- Hundreds of thousands in Athens Greece protest Macedonia name compromise thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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    4-Feb-18 World View -- Kenya cracks down on political opposition after mock inauguration

    Fears grow of repeat of 2008 post-election violence

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Kenya cracks down on political opposition after mock inauguration


    Kenya's opposition leader Raila Odinga holds up a Bible as he swears himself in as "the people's president of the Republic of Kenya" (AFP)
    Kenya's opposition leader Raila Odinga holds up a Bible as he swears himself in as "the people's president of the Republic of Kenya" (AFP)

    Kenya is in crisis after the government led by president Uhuru Kenyatta, an ethnic Kikuyu, has been cracking down on free speech in violation of a court order, and is making arbitrary arrests of leading figures in the opposition, which is led by Raila Odinga, an ethnic Luo.

    The government earlier this week ordered Kenya's top three independent TV channels to stop broadcasting, to prevent them from broadcasting Odinga's mock inauguration ceremony. The shutdown was originally supposed to be temporary, but the government has ordered the shutdown to continue. On Thursday, a pro-Odinga activist obtained a court order saying declaring the shutdown at an end, but the Kenyatta government has used police force to prevent the court order from being served on the government.

    At the same time, the government have ordered the arrests of several pro-Odinga supporters. In one case, that of political activist Miguna Miguna, the police are ignoring a court order that he be released on bail.

    Kenya's government chaos began in August of last year, when Uhuru Kenyatta won reelection as Kenya's president in an election that claimed was invalid because of numerous irregularities. In a ruling that shocked not only Kenya but all of Africa, Kenya's Supreme Court issued a ruling, overturning the election. A new election was held on October 26. Odinga's party declared that election invalid and boycotted it. Kenyatta won that election as well.

    On Tuesday of last week, Odinga held a mock inauguration ceremony at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya's capital city. (Uhuru is Kiswahili for freedom.) He held up a bible and declared himself the "people's president," at a "swearing-in" ceremony where he said that he was answering to a "high[er] calling to assume the office of the people's president of the Republic of Kenya."

    Despite the fact that Kenyatta's government called the ceremony an act of treason, and despite fears that police would prevent the event from taking place, thousands of enthusiastic Odinga supporters attended the mock inauguration.

    The government permitted the ceremony to go ahead, but called it an act of treason. It shut down the independent TV stations, forbidding anyone from broadcasting the event, and then began the arrests of the "conspirators" in the mock inauguration. CNN and Reuters and The Nation (Nairobi) and NPR

    Fears grow of repeat of 2008 post-election violence

    In 2007, there was a presidential election where Odinga from the Luo tribe was defeated for president by another member of the Kikuyu tribe.

    After the December 2007 president elections, there was a period of extremely bloody inter-tribal violence in the Rift Valley in Kenya, beginning early in 2008. The worst atrocity occurred when 30 people were lured into a church to escape violence, and a young gang locked the doors and set the church on fire, burning everyone alive. All in all, more than 1,200 people were killed in the tribal violence between the Kalenjins, who are mostly herders, and the Kikuyus, who are mostly farmers. The Luos are an offshoot of the Kalenjins.

    Kenya's last generational crisis war was the Mau-Mau rebellion that climaxed in 1956. At that time, Kenya was a British colony, and the Mau-Mau rebellion was largely a fight against the colonists. The 2008 violence was not a full-scale war, and it fizzled quickly. But today, nine years later, a new crisis war is overdue, and with the British colonists long gone, it's feared that there will be a new full-scale crisis war between the Kikuya, Kalenjin and Luo tribes.

    Kenya's history has been something of a clash between two dynasties, the Kenyatta and Odinga dynasties. During the Mau-Mau rebellion, both the Kikuyus, led by Jomo Kenyatta, and the Luos, led by Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, opposed the British colonists, although because of the country's geography, the Kikuyus bore the brunt of the fighting.

    The Kenyattas and the Odingas were united after the war ended, but as the younger generations grew up, there was a clear split by the Awakening era of the 1980s, with Odinga and the Luos leaning toward Communist Russia and China, while Kenyatta and the Kikuyus were strongly pro-Western.

    Incidentally, Barack Obama's ancestors were Luos. When Obama won the U.S. presidency in 2008, Kenyans were ecstatic, and his victory was declared a national holiday. But by the time of his re-election in 2012, Kenyan audiences celebrated him less as the son of a nation than as the son of a particular ethnic group, the Luos.

    The Kikuyus have been in power for most of Kenya's history, and the Luos have been continually marginalized. After a failed coup in 1982, Raila Odinga himself was placed under house arrest for seven months.

    Today, Kenya is just entering a generational Crisis era. The survivors of the Mau-Mau rebellion have wanted to prevent a new full-scale war from occurring, but now those survivors are almost completely gone, replaced with younger generations, many of whom are thirsting for war. The 1982 coup, which occurred during a generational Awakening era, fizzled quickly, as did the violence in 2008. But the population is very different today, and an attempted coup, if one occurred, could quickly spread into a larger war.

    Uhuru Kenyatta is probably aware of this, and that's probably the reason he tells himself that it's necessary to shut down opposition television stations and jail opposition leaders. Unfortunately, those repressive actions will not prevent violence, and in fact could bring about the violence more quickly. The Nation (Kenya) and The Herald (Zimbabwe) and NPR (24-Jul-2015)

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    3-Feb-18 World View -- Migrants in Calais France hospitalized after violent clashes

    Calais becomes difficult choke point in Brexit negotiations

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Migrants in Calais France hospitalized after violent clashes


    A group of migrants carrying sticks during clashes with other migrants in Calais (EPA)
    A group of migrants carrying sticks during clashes with other migrants in Calais (EPA)

    Police in Calais France intervened to protect around 20 Afghan migrants being attacked by more than 100 African migrants armed with iron rods and sticks.

    This incident occurred on Friday afternoon, around the same time as a gunfight three miles away between about 100 Eritreans and 30 Afghans queueing for free meals at a distribution point near the town's hospital. Between the two incidents, 22 migrants are being treated in hospitals, including five in critical condition with gunshot wounds.

    Nothing like this was ever supposed to happen again, once France closed down and bulldozed the big Calais migrant camp called "The Jungle" in 2016. At one point, The Jungle housed almost 10,000 migrants, and France's president Emmanuel Macron has promised that The Jungle will never return, saying, "There will be no reconstruction of the Jungle and no tolerance for the illegal occupation of public space."

    To prevent a new Jungle from appearing spontaneously, Macron has adopted a number of very harsh policies. According to various reports, police are treating refugees brutally. Materials such as sleeping bags and covers are being confiscated and thrown out. Refugees are prevented from sleeping in the open, so they have to run into the woods and sleep there. Sometimes the police spray food with teargas so that it become inedible.

    Nonetheless, various estimates indicate that 700-1000 migrants are now "sleeping rough" in Calais, mostly in the woods. When "The Jungle" existed, there was an infrastructure including semi-permanent dwellings, regular food deliveries, and some level of police protection for the migrants. Today, it's total chaos, with migrants sleeping under trees, NGOs providing irregular food deliveries, and police committed to getting rid of the migrants.

    A furious Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart said such violence "was absolutely unacceptable," and said her town was confronted by all-out gang warfare:

    "They are people who live off this. Culturally, they are against the state, institutions. They help neither the migrants nor the population.

    The serious incidents multiplied from this afternoon. This was fighting between migrants, these were turf wars. There are more and more guns, iron bars and other weapons being used.

    We have to clear the area. This is a security issue. The public can't carry on accepting this situation."

    France's Interior Minister Gerard Collomb spent the night in Calais and said:

    "There will be people here at their wits’ ends faced with this increasingly violent presence among a certain number of migrants, who it is plain to see are organized in gangs.

    We know there are gang leaders ... and it is these networks we must dismantle."

    Collomb has a solution: He said that within two weeks the government would take over control of food distribution from local aid groups and conduct the handouts outside the town. That, he said, would remove an incentive for the migrants to gather in Calais.

    In addition, last month Britain and France announced that the 2003 Le Touquet migration agreement will be renewed, and that Britain will pay £44.5 million to France to reinforce security measures in Calais, including fencing, CCTV and detection technology. France 24 and Reuters and Daily Mail (London)

    Calais becomes difficult choke point in Brexit negotiations

    Last week, protesting French fishermen completely shut down the port of Calais. Fishing boats blocked ferries from leaving and entering the port, while on land, fishermen burned tires to block access to the port of Boulogne-Sur-Mer.

    The fishermen were protesting electric pulse fishing by large trawlers. The technique uses electrodes to emit electric waves, stunning fish which then float upwards and are scooped up by giant nets. However, supporters of pulse fishing say the technique reduces unwanted bycatch and avoids plowing nets along the seabed.

    The second issue that the French fishermen were protesting was that they could lose access to English fishing waters after Brexit. With Britain in the EU, all the fishing waters are shared by all EU countries. After Brexit, that issue has to be renegotiated. This is just one more of the difficult issues that the port of Calais is presenting to UK-EU negotiators.

    The blockade of the port ended after a few hours, but it took many more hours to clear the traffic jam that had built up.

    That's because more than 2.6 million vehicles per year cross the English Channel between Calais and the Port of Dover, and any temporary blockage can cause a major traffic jam.

    Today, with Britain still part of the EU, vehicles move on and off ferries to cross the Channel without delay, but after Brexit, there will have to be customs border checks. France says that it will have to hire an extra 95 customs officers this year, to perform the border checks after Brexit in March 2019. According to one analyst, a two-minute delay to process a single truck could cause a 17 mile traffic jam.

    Britain has not yet announced its plans for its own customs border checks on its side of the Channel, but prime minister Theresa May says that it is seeking the freest possible trade with the EU after Brexit. Independent (Ireland) and UK Haulier and Reuters and London Express

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    2-Feb-18 World View -- Reformist criticizes Iran's Supreme Leader, as women conduct anti-hijab protests

    Iran's 'Girls of Revolution Street' tear off their hijabs and headscarves

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Arrested Iran reformist Mahdi Karroubi harshly criticizes Supreme Leader Khamenei


    Mehdi Karroubi, opposition leader, surrounded by supporters on June 17, 2009 (Reuters)
    Mehdi Karroubi, opposition leader, surrounded by supporters on June 17, 2009 (Reuters)

    In a move that may not have been good for his continued survival, 80 year old Iranian reformist Mahdi Karroubi harshly criticized the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei in a letter published on his political party's web site.

    The criticism comes just one month after nationwide street protests that began as demonstrations against soaring food prices, but then grew into much more serious protests about government corruption among the political élite. It's widely believed that when Iranian sanctions were lifted after the nuclear deal was signed, and Iran received billions of dollars as a result, that money went to élite clerical institutions, at the same time that a banking crisis has caused millions of Iranians to lose their life savings.

    As usual, Khamenei blamed the United States, Israel and other "foreign enemies" for the nationwide street protests. At least 25 people were killed in the protests, and hundreds of peaceful protesters were jailed.

    Mehdi Karroubi has been under house arrest for seven years for supporting peaceful protesters during the 2009 election, when Iran's security forces overreacted and there was blood running in the streets.

    Karroubi's letter to Khamenei was a reaction to last month's street protests:

    "I urge you, before it is too late, to open the way to structural reforms of the system. ...

    The system is going downhill to such an extent that it feels endangered by a few thousand people demonstrating.

    Instead of repeating accusations of links with the enemy and instead of harsh confrontation, listen to them. ...

    More than 50 percent of the country’s wealth is in the hands of state bodies over which there is no supervision... Poverty and unemployment are plaguing the country.

    More than 10 million Iranians, among 80 million, now live in absolute poverty. Under such conditions, it is natural that the lower classes, who were the grassroot supporters of the Islamic Revolution, will turn into a gunpowder barrel."

    Karroubi also criticized Khamenei for letting the Revolutionary Guards take a commanding role in the economy as this "has tarnished the reputation of this revolutionary body and drowned it in massive corruption." Radio Farda (RFERL) and AP and Reuters

    Iran's 'Girls of Revolution Street' tear off their hijabs and headscarves


    From 2007: An obvious criminal at large on the streets of Tehran (France 24)
    From 2007: An obvious criminal at large on the streets of Tehran (France 24)

    Iran is in a generational Awakening era, one generation past the end of the bloody, vicious Iran/Iraq war that climaxed in 1988, just as America was in a generational Awakening era in the 1960s, one generation past the end of World War II. Awakening eras are characterized by generation conflicts between the generations of traumatized survivors of the war versus the generation that grew up after the war (the Boomers in America's case).

    There are actually many similarity between America in the 1960s and Iran today. In both cases there were protests by college students against foreign wars, poverty and the economy.

    One particular feature of America in the 1960s was the "Women's Lib" movement, where cute, attractive college girls paraded around demanding to be treated the same as men, and put on big shows of burning their bras to make the point that there was no difference between the sexes.

    Iran's Awakening era has its own Women's Lib movement. It started on December 27, just as nationwide street protests were starting, when an unidentified woman climbed on top of an electricity box on one of Tehran’s busiest streets, Enqelab (Revolution) Avenue, removed her head scarf, and began waving it in the air.

    A video clip of the woman, later identified as Vida Movahed, a 31-year-old mother, quickly went viral, and that was the beginning of "Girls Of Revolution Street." Now there is a movement for women to take off their headscarves and wave them in the air in protest of compulsory headscarves and hijabs.

    This is anathema to the hardline geezers, who consider a girl without a headscarf to be almost as bad as an infidel. In 2007, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's president at the time, ordered police in Tehran to swoop down on women with loose headscarves and arrest them. In some cases, they were simply warned. but in other cases they would be piled into a bus and taken to the police station for "questioning."

    Every generational Awakening era has a climax. America's Awakening era climaxed with the resignation of president Richard Nixon in 1974. Iran's Awakening era will climax with some sort of regime change that will replace the Khamenei and the other hardline geezers that survived the Great Islamic Revolution of 1979 and are still running the country with a new, younger generation of leaders. And since young people in Iran today tend to be pro-American and pro-Western, and have no desire to push Israel into the sea, expect Iran to become an American ally once the Awakening era climax takes place. Radio Farda (RFERL) and CNN

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Feb-18 World View -- Reformist criticizes Iran's Supreme Leader, as women conduct anti-hijab protests thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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    1-Feb-18 World View -- New reports show that Taliban are gaining territory in Afghanistan

    Losing to Taliban has been predicted for years by generational analysis

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    New reports show that Taliban are gaining territory in Afghanistan


    Taliban presence in Afghanistan districts (BBC)
    Taliban presence in Afghanistan districts (BBC)

    A new study by the BBC, based on interviews with 1200 people across Afghanistan, finds that the Taliban are in full control of 4% of Afghanistan's districts, and have an active and open physical presence in a further 66%, significantly higher than previous estimates of Taliban strength. That means that only about 30% of the districts are still controlled by the Afghan government. The interviews were conducted late in 2017.

    The extent to which the Taliban partially or fully control districts of Afghanistan has been one of the most useful statistics used by analysts and politicians for gauging the success of the Nato coalition in defeating the Taliban.

    However, there are indications that the US military is trying to suppress this kind of information. The Quarterly Report To The United States Congress issued by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) was released on Tuesday. According to the report, SIGAR has been specifically instructed by the US military not to release this kind of information any more, even though it's unclassified. According to the report:

    "Aside from that, the number of districts controlled or influenced by the Afghan government had been one of the last remaining publicly available indicators for members of Congress -- many of whose staff do not have access to the classified annexes to SIGAR reports -- and for the American public of how the 16-year long U.S. effort to secure Afghanistan is faring. Historically, the number of districts controlled or influenced by the government has been falling since SIGAR began reporting on it, while the number controlled or influenced by the insurgents has been rising -- a fact that should cause even more concern about its disappearance from public disclosure and discussion."

    A spokesman in Kabul, representing the US-led Nato coalition, denied both reports, saying that the Taliban contested or controlled only 44% of the Afghan districts, and that SIGAR had not been instructed to withhold unclassified data.

    Whatever the actual figure is, no one as far as I know questions the fact that the Taliban have been gaining territory and the Afghan government has been losing territory, ever since most foreign troops left the country in 2014. And this trend is going to continue. BBC and Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) and Reuters

    Losing to Taliban has been predicted for years by generational analysis

    As I've been writing for years, a generational analysis there is no chance at all that the Taliban will be defeated in Afghanistan. Journalists, analysts and politicians are unable to grasp even the simplest generational analysis. Nonetheless, it's worthwhile summarizing what I've described in the past.

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

    This growing generation of young vengeful Pashtuns cannot be defeated by any conventional or unconventional army. They're capable of forming cells, living off the land, and conducting terror attacks at any time, targeting the government and the ethnic groups in the Northern Alliance.

    Afghanistan's capital city Kabul has been targeted in just the last two weeks by a series of massive terrorist attacks, killing hundreds of people. Furthermore, these attacks have been inside the most well-protected areas of Kabul, indicating that the Taliban terrorists have had help from the inside -- undoubtedly provided by other Pashtun youths.

    The fact that the Taliban are gaining more and more territory each year is just a reflection of the fact that more and more youngsters in the Pashtun generation are coming of age, and are willing to avenge what they consider to be the atrocities committed against their parents' generation.

    There's no way to stop this. This generation is going to continue growing, while foreign forces increasingly tire of fighting a war that most Westerners don't even care about.

    However, as I've written in the past, the Nato alliance and the US administration appear to have a larger purpose in mind. As war with China and Pakistan approaches, president Trump wants to keep American troops active in Afghanistan, and to continue to maintain several American military bases in Afghanistan, including two air bases in Bagram and Kandahar International Airport. These bases will be valuable in any future war with China. Under these circumstances, having troops in Afghanistan is what matters, whether the Taliban are defeated or not. France 24

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    31-Jan-18 World View -- Russia's Syria peace talks in Sochi dissolve into farce as Lavrov gets heckled

    War continues in full force, with Syria and Turkey killing 'terrorists'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Russia's Syria peace talks in Sochi dissolve into farce as Lavrov gets heckled


    Civil defense team looks for survivors after al-Assad regime airstrike in Idlib.  (Anadolu)
    Civil defense team looks for survivors after al-Assad regime airstrike in Idlib. (Anadolu)

    Russia's president Vladimir Putin wanted to be the world-renowned diplomat that brought peace to Syria. So last year he blew off the UN sponsored peace talks led by Staffan de Mistura, and he joined with Iran and Turkey to form his own "peace talks" process, held in Astana, Kazakhstan. And they came up with a peace plan.

    Of course, the peace plan was rejected by the parties actually fighting in Syria -- the Syrian regime led by the psychopathic president Bashar al-Assad, and "moderate" anti-Assad opposition in Syria, the al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS, formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Nusra Front, and the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). All of those four groups rejected the peace plan, so it was ridiculous for Putin or anyone else to believe that the peace plan would work.

    And it didn't. They came up with four "de-confliction zones" or "ceasefire zones." The fighting slowed down a little in these four zones for a little while, but today the whole agreement is in shambles, as the fighting is in full force. It is a total failure by Vladimir Putin.

    There was a meeting of Putin's peace plan group in Sochi on Tuesday that Putin was calling the "Syrian National Dialogue Congress."

    The meeting was supposed to take two days, but it was called off after one day, when Syrian opposition representatives heckled Putin's right-hand man, Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, and then walked out.

    There was an additional drama at the Sochi airport. Some opposition members arrived at the airport, but refused to go to the conference hall because they saw pictures of Syrian flags there. They decided that the fix was in.

    Opposition members point out that Bashar al-Assad's army is still using barrel bombs and chlorine gas on civilians, is targeting hospitals and schools, is preventing food and medicine from reaching civilians, has ignored ceasefires, and has broken every promise to stop doing these things. So opposition members know that Russia and al-Assad are just going to screw them again, so why bother with this so-called "peace conference"?

    Putin announced in December that the Syrian war was over, and that Russia's troops will be returned to Russia. Less than two months later, it's clear that Putin's announcement was garbage. Reuters and CNN and Tass (Moscow)

    Russia sidelines the failed United Nations Syria peace process

    Russia's "peace process" has almost completely eclipsed the UN-sponsored "peace process," lead by UN envoy Staffan de Mistura.

    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.

    So Vladimir Putin took over the peace process business. The UN processes held out a fig leaf of being impartial, but Putin was clearly and unequivocally in favor of Bashar al-Assad, and committed to supporting his genocide and war crimes, while claiming to be promoting peace.

    So to complete the farcical circle, de Mistura attended the Russian conference in Sochi under the condition that Russia promised that the United Nations would be responsible for drafting a constitution and the mediation process. Putin apparently agreed, and now the mantle of failure will pass from Russia back to the United Nations. Guardian and Russia Today

    War continues in full force, with Syria and Turkey killing 'terrorists'

    If you want to kill someone in Syria, it's perfectly OK as long you call him or her a "terrorist."

    So Turkey is committed to killing all the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militias in Syria, calling the "terrorists." Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is very critical of the US for arming and supporting the YPG, whom the US army found to be essential in fighting and defeating ISIS in Raqqa.

    Turkey was supposed to have defeated the YPG in Afrin by now, but the battle is taking longer than they expected. Assuming that they ever defeat the YPG in Afrin, the plan is to proceed further east to Manbij, where they will apparently meet American forces who are defending the YPG.

    Meanwhile, the regime of the Shia/Alawite Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russian bombers, is killing his own "terrorists," namely innocent Sunni women and children in two "de-confliction" or "ceasefire zones," Eastern Ghouta and Idlib. Al-Assad continues to commit war crimes, in cooperation with Hezbollah, Iran and Russia.

    Ironically, al-Assad is being helped by Erdogan because Turkey used to be a protector of the civilians in Idlib, but is now distracted by the fight against the YPG in Afrin.

    So, while Erdogan is killing the terrorists in Afrin, al-Assad is killing the terrorists in Eastern Ghouta and Idlib.

    There is a fantasy, apparently widespread, that one way or another the Syria war will end at some point soon, and then Syria will return to "normal," just as it was before al-Assad started the war by trying to exterminate peaceful protesters in 2011. And in fact, Syria is in a generational Awakening era, and so the war should have (and would have) fizzled out within a year or two.

    But now you have multiple countries -- Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, Turkey, the US, Israel and others -- and you have multiple factions within Syria -- YPG, HTS, ISIS -- all wanting a piece of Iraq, or at least wanting to make sure that some other faction doesn't get a piece. Each faction believes that the war will end soon, but each faction expects a different outcome.

    As I've been writing for years, 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 mess and chaos in Syria is just a few steps away from a broader war. AP and TRT World (Ankara, 18-Jan) and Middle East Monitor (24-Jan) and Middle East Eye (23-Jan)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-Jan-18 World View -- Russia's Syria peace talks in Sochi dissolve into farce as Lavrov gets heckled thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    30-Jan-18 World View -- NY Times publishes a generational analysis of South Korea

    Brief generational history of South Korea since World War II

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    NY Times publishes a generational analysis of South Korea


    The Korean women's hockey team is planned to include players from both countries (AP)
    The Korean women's hockey team is planned to include players from both countries (AP)

    Mainstream journalists, analysts and economists are generally incapable of grasping even the simplest generational concepts, so on the extremely rare occasion when a major publication publishes an actual generational analysis it's worth noting.

    An article in the NY Times by Choe Sang-Hunjan titled "Olympic Dreams of a United Korea? Many in South Say, ‘No, Thanks’" gives a generational analysis of South Korea as the Winter Olympics games approach, and the changing attitudes to reunification of different South Korean generations.

    The article quotes surveys that show a big gap in attitudes between younger and older South Koreans:

    The article quotes a former South Korean foreign minister: "I am taken aback. Young people seem to think of North Korea as strangers who barge into their party bringing with them nothing but empty spoons."

    The current left-wing South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, has long supported unification, driven by his personal desire to see his birthplace in the North.

    According to the article:

    "Key members of Mr. Moon’s presidential office and governing party are progressives in their 50s, who went to college in the 1980s. Then, campuses were rife with anti-American activism, partly driven by resentment over the division of the Korean Peninsula after World War II. Students defied the authorities by sending a “unification envoy” to the World Festival of Youth and Students, alternative games that North Korea held in Pyongyang in 1989 to counter the previous year’s Summer Olympics in Seoul.

    Progressives in that era believed in a peaceful process of reunification, built on the expansion of economic and social exchanges. Today, many of that generation see the North’s nuclear weapons program as a desperate attempt to protect itself from the United States and the South, with which it is still technically at war."

    These paragraphs need a bit of interpretation. As I'll explain in detail below, what the article calls 1980s "progressives" are known as the "386 Generation" of the 1980s -- affluent, highly pro-Leninist-Marxist and highly anti-American, since they had no memory of their parents' extreme poverty and destitution, nor of how an American military intervention saved South Korea from the North in 1950.

    However it is true, as the article points out, that the 386er generation strongly believed that the communist government of North Korea was superior to Western democracies, and that the South and the North could be unified peacefully if only the South could adopt that same kind of government. Events since then, especially "the fiasco of the 386 generation" (described below), and North Korea's unstoppable nuclear missile development, have forced the 386ers to abandon those extreme radical views, and look for opportunities for peaceful negotiations. The 2018 Winter Olympics games are the best opportunity so far. NY Times (or Open version)

    North Korea cancels joint cultural event because of 'insulting' media reports

    On Monday, North Korea abruptly canceled a joint cultural event to be held on February 4 in the North Korean territory of Mount Kumgang. The plan had been for skiers from both sides to train in North Korea's Masikryong Ski Resort.

    The North blamed the South Korean media for encouraging “insulting” public sentiment regarding the North. There were no specifics given, but South Korea has a free press, and there has been a lot of criticism of North Korea. There have also been individual protests, including burning a picture of North Korea's dictator Kim Jong-un, which would be a capital offense if done in North Korea. However, it's not known whether those were the problem.

    It's suspected that the North is angry about media coverage of North Korean plans to stage a large military parade in Pyongyang on February 8, just before the start of the Olympics. Some media reports say that some 50,000 North Korean soldiers will march in the parade, which will feature the latest in North Korean weapons, including ballistic missiles. These reports may be the reason why they canceled the cultural event.

    The South Korea's Unification Ministry issued a statement:

    "It is very regrettable that an event agreed by the South and the North will not be held due to North Korea's unilateral notification (decision). What has been agreed must be implemented under the spirit of mutual respect and understanding as the South and the North have only taken a hard-earned first step toward improving the South-North relationship."

    In another development, South Korea's Defense Minister Song Young-moo said:

    "The North Korean regime will probably be removed from the map if it uses developed nuclear weapons against South Korea or the United States.

    It's an anachronistic idea that North Korea will use nuclear weapons for the unification (of the two Koreas)."

    It's certain that there will continue to be some hostile media coverage, and it's certain that there will be anti-North protesters before and during the games. This media coverage will be interpreted by the North as threatening their new strategy of using the Olympics to drive a wedge between South Korea and the US. Whether they become so infuriated that they start canceling other events, or even their entire participation in the games, remains to be seen. Yonhap News (Seoul) and Reuters and UPI and The Hankyoreh (Seoul) and Yonhap News (Seoul)

    Brief generational history of South Korea since World War II

    In an article that I wrote in 2007 ( "South Korean politicians are 'euphoric' over North Korea nuclear deal"), I included a brief generational history of South Korea. The following is an update.

    Korea is one of the oldest nations on earth, with some 4000 years of history. Here we can only give a brief summary of its extremely tumultuous history in the 1900s:

    That 2007 article was written in response to conciliatory policy changes by the George Bush administration, resulting in euphoria on the part of South Koreans. In that article, I quoted a BBC correspondent, Charles Scanlon in Seoul, who described the euphoria as unrealistic:

    "We are seeing something approaching euphoria, from at least among some members of the South Korean government, in reaction to this agreement that was signed in Beijing.

    The Unification Minister who's responsible for relations with the North said this could be a turning point in the establishment of a peace regime on the Korean peninsula.

    And certainly the South Koreans do feel to some extent vindicated by what has been in effect a major change in U.S. policy toward North Korea.

    They've been urging a more conciliatory approach from the very beginning, and they're certainly very relieved that the Americans now do seem serious about getting a negotiated settlement with the North Koreans, and they've softened some of their pressure tactics.

    The president, Roh Moo-hyun, said he's expecting a very easy implementation of this accord.

    I think there we are seeing really wishful thinking on the President's part, because after all any agreement with the North Koreans is not going to come easy."

    I don't know whether the current president Moon Jae-in personally feels euphoria about the new Winter Olympics détente, but as we've described, the young generation of South Koreans feel little but anger. The controversy has sent South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s overall approval rating below 60% for the first time since he took office in May last year, dropping more than 6 percentage points in one week. Korea Times (5-Feb-2008) and Meng News (3-Jun-2014)

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    29-Jan-18 World View -- Clashes erupt between Saudi and UAE backed forces in South Yemen's port of Aden

    Brief generational history of South Yemen

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Clashes erupt between Saudi and UAE backed forces in South Yemen's port of Aden


    Map of Yemen showing regions held by Houthis and allies, Government forces and allies, and al-Qaeda presence (al-Jazeera)
    Map of Yemen showing regions held by Houthis and allies, Government forces and allies, and al-Qaeda presence (al-Jazeera)

    Dozens of people were killed or wounded on Sunday in the port city of Aden on the southern coast of Yemen, as the result of clashes between the forces of the official government of Yemen, backed by Saudi Arabia, versus the Southern Transitional Council (STC), a separatist faction backed by United Arab Emirates (UAE), and claiming Aden as the capital city of Southern Yemen.

    A week ago, Yemen was in the midst of a proxy war between two different governments backed by two different foreign countries. But now, at this moment, Yemen's proxy war now has three different three different governments, backed by three different foreign countries:

    In addition, there's one more major non-government force in Yemen, and that's Al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). In recent years, AQAP's leadership has turned from harshly ideological Sharia policies that alienated the tribal populace into pragmatists that are making allies of tribal leaders, by providing security, protection, and a measure of stability.

    Since Saudi Arabia and UAE are supposed to be allies, this development is being called a "war within a war." There have been reports that officials in both Saudi Arabia and UAE are ordering their militaries to stop shooting in Aden, and to resolve the issues. If the shooting does not stop, then it will be AQAP that gains in the south, and the Houthis that will gain in the north. Reuters and Al-Jazeera and The National (UAE) and Jamestown

    Brief generational history of South Yemen

    Because of its location, the port city of Aden has been strategically important for centuries. In 1839, Britain captured the port of Aden and southern Yemen from the Ottomans, and was made part of British India. Britain ruled Aden and southern Yemen, consisting of 24 tribal states (sultanates, emirates and sheikdoms), until the 1960s.

    Yemen's last generational crisis war was the Yemen Civil war, which began in 1962, and was largely a proxy war involving forces from Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Britain, the United States, and (pre-revolutionary) Iran. The Yemen Civil War ended in 1968, and in the diplomacy that followed, in February 1970 Yemen was split into the Yemen Arab Republic (YAR, North Yemen) allied with Saudi Arabia, and the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY, South Yemen), a Marxist communist country allied with Russia. South Yemen was the Arab world's only communist state so far.

    In 1990, at the end of the generational Recovery era, the two countries were unified into a single country, Yemen, in an agreement designed to eliminate all the tensions between the two countries. In many ways, this was a marriage of convenience, since relations remained tense, but it put Ali Abdullah Saleh into a clear position of leadership. There was an attempt at secession by southern secessionists in 1994, but it was put down quickly, leading to the entrenchment of Saleh's northern-based regime. Saleh governed Yemen most of the time since then, until he was killed in December, 2017.

    Saleh was the country's president until 2011, when he was ousted as an outcome of the "Arab Spring" that affected countries throughout the region. Saleh was forced to turn the office of president over to his vice president, Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi. Saleh then formed a "marriage of convenience" with the Iran-back Shia Zaydi Houthis in northwest Yemen. On September 21, 2014, Saleh and the Houthis captured Sanaa from Hadi's forces. Hadi was forced to flee Sanaa, and has been living in exile in Saudi Arabia for two years. From the point of view of the international community, Hadi is still president of Yemen.

    Since 2015, the war in Yemen was largely a proxy war between Iran versus a Saudi Arabia - United Arab Emirates (UAE) coalition. In November 2017, Saudi Arabia imposed a land, air and sea blockade on Yemen, giving as a reason to prevent the Houthis from importing more of Iran's weapons systems.

    This blockade was a humanitarian disaster for Yemen. Yemen is already one of the poorest countries in the world, and because of the proxy war, mass starvation and disease have been spreading across the country. Aid from NGOs was only partially relieving the situation, but with the Saudi blockade, even that aid was cut off.

    The blockade was apparently too much for Saleh. Early in December he announced that he was separating from the Houthis, and offered to mediate a ceasefire between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia. Three days later, the Houthis had him ambushed and killed.

    The death of Saleh fragmented tribal opposition to the Houthis in North Yemen, giving the Houthis more substantial control over the north.

    Now the UAE is backing the secessionist Southern Transitional Council (STC), indicating that the coalition fighting the Houthis is also fragmenting. In addition to making it even harder for NGOs to provide aid, to help prevent massive starvation and cholera, this "war within a war" will help AQAP gain further control through alliances with other tribes.

    Writing anything about Yemen, you can't help but feel sorry for this poor country. Because of the country's strategic location, everyone wants a piece of it, and they're willing to fight proxy wars to get a piece. It's only the people suffering endless misery and poverty, as helpless pawns subject to constant bombings, starvation and cholera. It reminds one of the old African proverb: When elephants fight, it's the grass that suffers. History.com and Global Security and Harvard - History of Yemen Civil War - 1962-68 (PDF)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Jan-18 World View -- Clashes erupt between Saudi and UAE backed forces in South Yemen's port of Aden thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    28-Jan-18 World View -- New massive Taliban attack in Kabul Afghanistan kills 95

    Trump doubles down on war on Taliban in Afghanistan

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    New massive Taliban attack in Kabul Afghanistan kills 95


    A distant view of the explosion in Kabul on Saturday (Khaama Press)
    A distant view of the explosion in Kabul on Saturday (Khaama Press)

    Exactly one week after a spectacular 16 hour siege by the Taliban of the Intercontinental Hotel in Afghanistan's capital city Kabul, killing dozens, a new suicide bomber struck on Saturday.

    The new attack was a massive bombing by a suicide attacker in an ambulance killed at least 95 people and wounded 158, almost all innocent civilians. The ambulance got through security checkpoints by claiming that he was carrying a person to a hospital. When one checkpoint officer got suspicious, the driver blew up the ambulance, which was full of explosives.

    The Taliban have not yet claimed responsibility for this attack because of the the bad PR they get when they kill innocent civilians. It's suspected that the ambulance driver was trying to reach the Interior Ministry building in order to kill government officials.

    Both last week's attack and this one occurred in areas that are supposed to be under heavy security. Government officials are coming under heavy public criticism for being unable to prevent these attacks. Tolo News (Kabul) and Khaama Press (Kabul)

    Trump doubles down on war on Taliban in Afghanistan

    President Donald Trump issued a statement condemning Saturday's terror attack:

    "I condemn the despicable car bombing attack in Kabul today that has left scores of innocent civilians dead and hundreds injured. This murderous attack renews our resolve and that of our Afghan partners.

    The Taliban's cruelty will not prevail. The United States is committed to a secure Afghanistan that is free from terrorists who would target Americans, our allies, and anyone who does not share their wicked ideology. Now, all countries should take decisive action against the Taliban and the terrorist infrastructure that supports them."

    The idea of defeating the Taliban is fantasy, for reasons I've reported many times in the past.

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

    This rising generation of young terrorist Pashtuns cannot be defeated by any conventional or unconventional army. They're capable of forming cells, living off the land, and conducting terror attacks at any time, targeting the government and the ethnic groups in the Northern Alliance. What Trump calls "the Taliban's cruelty" is actually their revenge for the atrocities that were committed against their parents over 20 years ago. This is not going to end because of some piece of paper drawn up by government ministers in Kabul, and anyone who things so is living in a world of total fantasy.

    In August of last year, Trump gave an Afghanistan strategy speech announcing that some 4,000 more American troops would be sent to Afghanistan, in order to achieve "victory."

    As I described at the time, Trump promised victory by redefining "victory":

    "Our troops will fight to win. We will fight to win. From now on, victory will have a clear definition: attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge."

    When you think about it, this definition of "victory" has already been almost completely achieved. Going down the list, we attack our enemies, ISIS has been defeated in Syria and Iraq, al-Qaeda has been at least partially crushed, the Taliban are not taking over Afghanistan, and there haven't been any mass terror attacks against America.

    But this definition of "victory" doesn't say anything about bringing peace to Afghanistan, nor does it promise an end to terror suicide bomber attacks in Kabul. As far as Trump's definition of victory in Afghanistan is concerned, it's pretty much already been achieved, despite Saturday's bombing.

    As I've written in the past, Trump appears to have a larger purpose in mind. As war with China and Pakistan approaches, Trump wants to keep American troops active in Afghanistan, and to continue to maintain several American military bases in Afghanistan, including two air bases in Bagram and Kandahar International Airport. These bases will be valuable in any future war with China. Under these circumstances, having troops in Afghanistan is what matters, whether the Taliban are defeated or not. Fox News and India Today and CBS News

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Jan-18 World View -- New massive Taliban attack in Kabul Afghanistan kills 95 thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    27-Jan-18 World View -- Jihadists attack UN peacekeepers in Mali just as UN demands that Mali implement peace agreement

    War becomes more likely as Mali enters a generational Crisis era

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Jihadists attack UN peacekeepers in Mali just as UN demands that Mali implement peace agreement


    Djenna Mosque in Timbuktu, Mali, built around 1300, was under attack by Tuareg rebellion
    Djenna Mosque in Timbuktu, Mali, built around 1300, was under attack by Tuareg rebellion

    A spate of jihadist terror attacks in central Mali on Thursday left nearly forty people dead. At least 26 people were killed in a landmine explosion that was targeting the UN's peacekeeping mission in Mali. The peacekeeping mission is named MINUSMA, or the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission. There were two further attacks, also on Thursday in central Mali, killing seven jihadists and two soldiers.

    The irony is that, whether by accident or on purpose, the jihadist attacks occurred just after the UN Security Council (UNSC) issued a statement criticizing the government and several ethnic groups in Mali for not implementing a 2015 peace agreement. The Security Council threatened additional sanctions against officials in Mali if the terms of the peace deal haven't been implemented by the end of March.

    Once again, watching a UNSC "peace process" in action, one has the feeling that one is watching a farce. The 2015 peace agreement was signed by the government and by several ethnic and rebel groups who are mostly cooperating with the government. But Mali is a huge country and the agreement does not cover all of it, and of course the jihadists that conducted Thursday's attacks were not party to the agreement at all. So it's hard to see how the agreement even makes any sense.

    Apparently the thought behind the agreement is that government and these rebel groups would work together to defeat the jihadists, and so bring peace to the land. If they really wanted to do that, then they wouldn't need a peace agreement, and anyway, Mali is too large a country to be governable.

    The UN Security Council statement is actually quite interesting, since it lists all the things that the parties have to do to bring peace to Mali. Here are some excerpts:

    "The members of the Security Council expressed a shared sense of impatience regarding the persistent delays in the full implementation of key provisions of the Agreement. They underscored the pressing need to deliver tangible and visible peace dividends to the population in the north and other parts of Mali. ...

    The members of the Security Council stressed in this context the importance of taking immediate and concrete action to fully and expeditiously deliver on key provisions of the Agreement, in particular through: progress in the decentralization process, including through the holding of appropriate consultations between the parties aimed at reviewing and strengthening consensus on existing legislation and through the adoption of legislation establishing a regional territorial police force; the operationalization of the interim administrations in the north of Mali, including through the allocation of the necessary human, technical and financial resources to perform their missions; progress in the cantonment and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration processes, including through the definition of adequate eligibility criteria and reintegration quotas and through the submission of finalized lists of candidates, as well as progress in the security sector reform, with a view to the progressive redeployment of the reconstituted armed and security forces in Mali; the establishment of the Operational Coordination Mechanism in Kidal and Timbuktu; and ensuring full and equal participation of women."

    That's an interesting list of tasks. It's a shame that none of them has much to do with ending jihadist attacks or bringing peace.

    And notice the last task "and ensuring full and equal participation of women." This shows what a farce this is. Instead of worrying about stopping jihadist attacks, they're worried that the security forces will be half men and half women. You'd think that this was a parody dreamed up by people who want to mock and ridicule the United Nations, but no, this is the real thing. Radio France Internationale (RFI) and AP and United Nations

    War becomes more likely as Mali enters a generational Crisis era

    The downfall of Libya's dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 created a domino effect that led to a rebellion in northern Mali by the Tuaregs, an ethnic groups spread across northern Africa's Sahel region between Libya and Mali. The domino effect continued when the chaos of the Tuareg rebellion led to an al-Qaeda linked jihadist incursion.

    The jihadists were briefly chased out by France's Operation Serval, but they returned, and led to other rebel and jihadist groups to enter the region. There were numerous international efforts, mainly led by France, to eject the rebel and jihadist groups. The most ambitious was Operation Barkhane, an offensive deployed in 2014 in five countries, which sought to fight jihadists in five countries -- Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso. The United Nations peacekeeping effort, the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSMA), was established on April 25, 2013.

    It was just a week ago that we reported that Britain agreed to send three RAF CH-47 Chinook transport heavy lift helicopters to provide logistical support to France's Operation Barkhane, along with 50-60 support staff.

    MINUSMA has been pretty much a failure, and has come under increasing criticism. According to a United Nations analysis released earlier this week, MINUSMA is being reassessed.

    Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, says the following:

    "Five years after the Mission’s establishment and two years and a half after the signature of the peace agreement, we believe the time has come to reassess the assumptions that underpin MINUSMA’s presence, review its key mandated tasks against achievements on the ground and reexamine the Mission’s layout through a comprehensive strategic review."

    Of course, this political gobbledygook really says nothing, but it does express increasing anxiety over what's taking place.

    Now, that statement was released before Thursday's attack targeting the MINUSMA peacekeepers themselves. In general, jihadists are increasingly targeting UN peacekeepers, and this is no exception.

    From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this appears to be a textbook case of what happens when a country is about to enter a generational Crisis era.

    Mali's last generational crisis war was the Tuareg rebellion that climaxed in 1963.

    After a crisis civil war reaches a climax and is settled, the traumatized survivors reach an agreement to make sure that nothing like it ever happens again. But as younger generations grow up after the war, low-level violence begins and increases. As the war survivors die off, this violence becomes more violent and occurs more often, although the war survivors prevent it from tipping into full-scale war.

    Based on examination of hundreds of examples in all places and times in history, Generational Dynamics has found that a turning point is reached 58 years after the climax of the preceding crisis war, which is the time when the country enters a new generational Crisis era ("fourth turning"). That seems to be the point in time when the generations of war survivors disappear (retire or die) so completely that they're unable to prevent another war, and so a new crisis war can begin in any of the years that follow.

    So 2018 is the 55th year after the end of the 1963 Tuareg Rebellion. History has shown that's a little too early for full-scale war to occur. But as each year passes, there are fewer and fewer war survivors around, and there are more and more kids in the younger generations with a thirst for war.

    This is what we're seeing now. The United Nations Security Council made a 2015 peace agreement with representatives of the old geezers in the war survivor generation. The agreement is nice to have, but it's completely irrelevant to the increasingly nationalistic and xenophobic younger generations. So there is zero probability that the 2015 agreement will be implemented, and there is zero probability that MINUSMA or the United Nations will have any success whatsoever in quelling the violence in Mali, which is only going to increase. IRIN News and United Nations and 2015 Mali Peace Agreement and BBC (20-Aug-2017)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Jan-18 World View -- Jihadists attack UN peacekeepers in Mali just as UN demands that Mali implement peace agreement thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    26-Jan-18 World View -- In major policy shift, China will demolish thousands of migrant homes in cities

    Migrant workers built modern China, and are now being discarded

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    In major policy shift, China will demolish thousands of migrant homes in cities


    A rare street protest in Beijing against demolitions of migrant homes and businesses (Getty)
    A rare street protest in Beijing against demolitions of migrant homes and businesses (Getty)

    The mayor of China's capital city Beijing has announced that workers would demolish 15 square miles of homes used by low-paid migrant workers. Many migrants have lived in these homes for years or decades, but now the city is declaring the homes to be illegal structures. The migrants will be evicted and left homeless.

    Officials are not saying how many migrant workers would be evicted by the demolitions this year. However, in general terms, Beijing would like to reduce the population of Beijing by 15%, and this would fall most heavily on the estimated 3 million migrant workers living in Beijing, or 450,000. (Other reports estimate 8 million migrant workers in Beijing. The larger figure may include suburbs.)

    In December of last year, a demolition campaign evicted tens of thousands of migrant workers in just one month alone, so these figures seem to be credible.

    Some demolitions had been going on slowly for years, but when a shantytown fire on November 18 killed 19 people, the demolitions and evictions took on a shape that's being described a "vicious" and "cruel."

    People were given only few hours' notice before their homes were demolished, and they were forced into the sub-zero December temperatures. The demolitions included small businesses as well as homes, causing many migrants to lose their life savings as well as their source of income. Many migrants had been supporting their families by sending money back to them, but that source of support was cut off overnight.

    Chinese intellectuals have petitioned the government to halt the evictions, calling them a violation of human rights. Even some state media have criticized the campaign. According to Yi Fuxian, a China population expert, the government has called migrants a low-end population - basically implying that they're inferior quality human beings. "China didn't just say this. They actually wrote it into government documents. This is absurd," says Yi. Reuters and Shanghaiist (24-Nov) and BBC and NPR (4-Dec-2017)

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    Migrant workers built modern China, and are now being discarded

    Whenever a large number of foreign migrants travel from one region to another, the reactions of the natives generally range from marginalization to open hostility to violence, sometimes ending in deportation. In Beijing, the migrants are not foreigners. They're ordinary Chinese from farms and rural areas who come to the city to improve themselves, or to earn money to send back to their families.

    According to China's National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), there are an estimated 282 million rural migrant workers in China, making up more than one third of the entire working population of 807 million.

    Migrants work are almost always marginalized and work in low-paid jobs. They're subject to various kinds of abuse, including forced overtime and non-payment of salaries. The vast majority of rural migrant workers are still employed in low-paid jobs in manufacturing, construction and services. According to NBS figures, the employment by sector is as follows:

    The millions of migrants living in Beijing, often for decades, were the laborers who built Beijing into the huge metropolis that it is today. Now their work is done, and they're being left cold, broke and homeless.

    Although news stories have focused mainly on Beijing, thanks to the shantytown fire on November 18, we're apparently seeing a major change in Chinese policy that affects all large cities, and possibly medium sized cities as well.

    The likely causes of this change of policy are as follows:

    This kind of major demographic policy change can only put strain on China's economy, which is already running on a huge debt bubble and a huge real estate bubble.

    From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this split could be significant as the first signs of a new internal rebellion, for which China is overdue. China's history is filled with huge, massive internal rebellions (civil wars), the most recent of which were the White Lotus Rebellion (1796-1805), the Taiping Rebellion (1850-64) and Mao's Communist Revolution (1934-49). The leaders of China's Communist Party (CCP) are well aware of this history, and they're aware that a new internal rebellion is now due, and probably overdue.

    China used to publish the number of "mass incidents" occurring in the country. The number of "mass incidents" of unrest recorded by the Chinese government grew from 8,700 in 1993 to about 90,000 in 2010, according to several government-backed studies. The government stopped publishing the figures in 2010, but it's reasonable to believe that the number of mass incidents per year is well into the hundreds of thousands. If even just one of these mass incidents occurred in America or Europe, it would be international news, so the fact that hundreds of such mass incidents occur in China EVERY DAY indicates how socially unstable China is.

    So you already have an economy running on a huge debt bubble, with hundreds of thousands of mass incidents per year, and with millions of marginalized migrants scheduled to lose their homes and their jobs, when the country is well into a generational Crisis era. China's next, massive, historic internal rebellion is overdue, and this new policy could end up being one of the triggers. China Labor Bulletin (Hong Kong) and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong, 5-Jan) and The Diplomat (26-Jul-2017)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Jan-18 World View -- In major policy shift, China will demolish thousands of migrant homes in cities thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    25-Jan-18 World View -- Egypt's presidential election becomes a farce as opposition candidates are forced out

    Tensions rise between Egypt and Ethiopia over Nile River dam

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Egypt's presidential election becomes a farce as opposition candidates are forced out


    Outsized election poster of al-Sisi in Cairo (Reuters)
    Outsized election poster of al-Sisi in Cairo (Reuters)

    Egypt's presidential election, to be held on March 26-28, is looking more and more like a farce, as opponents of the current president Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, are being forced to withdraw, one after the other. It may be that al-Sisi will be the only person left on the ballot.

    Sami Anan, a retired army Chief of Staff and a former member of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Armed Forces, was arrested on Tuesday, two days after announcing that he would run for president. He was dragged from his car on Tuesday morning and taken before a military court. He has not been seen since.

    Anan was arrested on the charge of announcing that he would run for president. This was a violation of the law, according to authorities, because Anan was affiliated with the armed forces. He's also charged with inciting a rift between the Armed Forces and the Egyptian public. Officials said that he was "summoned for interrogation in front of specialized personnel" for his crimes. Needless to say, Anan's candidacy has been withdrawn.

    That's the way this election is going. The presidential election will take place on March 26-28, and al-Sisi, who was himself the former chief of Egypt's armed forces, recently announced that he will run for re-election. But magically, one after another, al-Sisi's potential opponents are being forced to withdraw.

    On November 29 of last year, Colonel Ahmed Konsowa announces his plans to run for president, but three days later he was arrested, and convicted of "expressing political opinions as a serving military officer."

    Mohammed Anwar al-Sadat is the nephew of the former Egyptian president Anwar al-Sadat, who was assassinated in October, 1981, by extremists who blamed him for signing a peace deal with Israel.

    Mohammed Anwar al-Sadat had planned to run for president, but dropped out last week because his campaign staff was being threatened. According to al-Sadat:

    "The logic says the regime should allow two or three or four people to run against Sisi to make it look legitimate. But it seems like they don’t even care about how it looks anymore."

    A left-wing rights lawyer Khaled Ali said that he would run on November 6 of last year. He was arrested for making "an obscene gesture" outside a Cairo court. Several members of his campaign were arrested on various charges. Anan's arrest on Tuesday was apparently the last straw, as Ali withdrew on Wednesday. According to a supporter,

    "[T]here was a widespread feeling that we won’t be given a chance to compete.

    Anan’s arrest in this rough manner added [to] the impression that this regime wants a referendum, not competitive elections. We wanted a true competition. We didn’t want to take part in a play or provide material for the regime to claim these are genuine elections."

    There's still one major contender opposing al-Sisi. Mortada Mansour, an MP more right-wing than al-Sisi, announced his bid on January 13, and has until January 29 to get 25,000 nomination signatures, with a minimum of 1,000 each from 15 of Egypt's 29 provinces. Mansour announced that his first act as president would be to ban access to Facebook.

    The Sadat, Ali and Anan campaigns say that they routinely experienced interference or intimidation. Al-Sisi's reelection seems assured, as dissent has been crushed, and all three were forced to withdraw, showing what a farce the election is becoming. Africa News and Guardian (London) and Telegraph (London)

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    Tensions rise between Egypt and Ethiopia over Nile River dam

    Egypt's president Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi says that he does not want war with Ethiopia and Sudan, but tensions are rising nonetheless over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) that Ethiopia is constructing on the Blue Nile river.

    In a televised broadcast last week, al-Sisi said:

    "We are not prepared to go to war against our brethren or anyone else for that matter. I am saying this as a clear message to our brothers in Sudan and Ethiopia.

    Egypt neither conspires nor meddles in anyone's internal affairs. We are determined to have good relations [with Sudan and Ethiopia]. Our region has seen enough the past few years."

    Nonetheless, one does not declare that he doesn't want to go to war unless he's actually thinking about going to war.

    Ethiopia's $5 billion GERD project is soon to be completed, and will be the largest hydroelectric dam project in Africa. Ethiopia says that the GERD will provide power to millions of people in desperate need of electric power, and it sees GERD as a means over overcoming poverty.

    However, it will also reduce the flow of water downstream to Egypt. Egypt depends on the Nile river to supply most of Egypt's drinking war, to irrigate the Nile Delta, and to generate half of the country's electricity through the operation of Egypt's Aswan High Dam.

    The GERD dispute is becoming a part of the larger regional dispute related to the blockade of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt.

    Turkey, which backs Qatar, has a relationship with Sudan and Somalia, while Ethiopia and Sudan have a strategic alliance. Egypt's and Eritrea's leaders met recently to discuss mutual interests.

    It seems unlikely that Egypt and Ethiopia will go to war, but the chances of war could increase as the GERD project nears completion. VOA and Al Jazeera and Egypt Independent

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Jan-18 World View -- Egypt's presidential election becomes a farce as opposition candidates are forced out thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    24-Jan-18 World View -- China's Mekong River dams criticized for affecting other countries' livelihoods

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

    China's dams have been blamed for several droughts along the Mekong delta in recent years. China claims that those droughts were all caused by natural w