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Web Log - March, 2017

Summary

31-Mar-17 World View -- Brexit: The die is cast, and the EU is playing hardball

Northern Ireland considers reuniting with the Republic of Ireland

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Brexit: The die is cast, and the EU is playing hardball


Theresa May
Theresa May

I hadn't realized how final the action was on Wednesday, when Britain's prime minister Theresa May invoked Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, triggering a two-year negotiation period leading to the United Kingdom official exiting the European Union as one of its member states.

I had thought that during the two-year negotiation period, it was at least possible that saner heads might prevail, and the UK would change its mind and remain in the EU. However, it turns out that once Article 50 is invoked, the decision is final, and the UK can no longer change its mind. If the UK wants to remain in the EU, then remaining would require approval of all 27 of the remaining member states, and that seems almost impossible, given the vitriolic nature of today's politics.

So the die is cast, and now the serious negotiations must begin, and EU negotiators are playing hardball.

Theresa May: “No deal is better than a bad deal.” This means that Britain will walk away from a deal if it's not a good deal.

EU officials: "Britain must not get a better deal outside the EU than it has within the EU." EU officials fear that a good deal for Britain might encourage other EU members to leave.

Britain and Theresa May want the first subject of negotiation to be trade, so that businesses in both the UK and the EU can make plans for conducting business in the future.

Donald Tusk and the European Commission are refusing to take that route. They want the first order of business to be the "terms of the divorce" - how you split the assets and liabilities.

In particular, EU officials are saying that the UK must pay the EU some €60 billion, and only when that issue is settled will they be willing to discuss trade and other issues important to Theresa May and Britain. The 60 billion includes such things as pension payments to British nationals working for EU employers, and spending commitments for EU projects and social programs that Britain committed to contributing to when they were still in love. Some British politicians are saying that they refuse to pay any of this, so this is a potentially serious issue.

In her letter to European Commission president Donald Tusk, Theresa May wrote:

"It is in the best interests of both the United Kingdom and the European Union that we should use the forthcoming process to deliver these objectives in a fair and orderly manner, and with as little disruption as possible on each side. We want to make sure that Europe remains strong and prosperous and is capable of projecting its values, leading in the world, and defending itself from security threats. We want the United Kingdom, through a new deep and special partnership with a strong European Union, to play its full part in achieving these goals. We therefore believe it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal from the European Union."

Many people are describing this as a threat, implying that the security relationship between Britain and the EU would be threatened if Brussels demanded that the €60 billion issue be resolved before anything else could be even discussed.

There's one issue that analysts are saying should be easy to resolve: The question of what happens to EU nationals working in Britain, and to British nationals working in the EU. Issues like medical benefits, pensions, and freedom of travel will have to be resolved. Although these problems are big enough to seem insurmountable, analysts are saying that both sides are anxious to resolve them, and so it will be done.

On Friday, Donald Tusk will release his proposed negotiating guidelines for Brexit talks. The proposal will then have to be approved by the remaining 27 EU member states. Whenever that happens, then the negotiations can begin.

I heard one analyst ways that almost nothing will be accomplished in the negotiations for about 18 months, until October 2018, at which time everyone will go into a panic. Text of Theresa May's letter and Daily Mail (London) and Reuters

Britain proposes 'The Great Repeal Bill'

This is really mind-blowing. The problem is that Britain has been following the laws and regulations of the European Union for decades, and on the day that Britain leaves the EU, all of these thousands of laws and regulations will disappear, resulting in something close to anarchy.

So the government is proposing "The Great Repeal Bill," which will do the following:

According to Britain's government, there are about 12,000 EU regulations in force in Britain, about 7,900 implemented EU directives, and some 186 acts of Parliament that will have be absorbed into British law, and then amended over time.

There's a mind-boggling irony to all this. The purpose of Brexit was to prevent Britain from being under the control of Brussels. But in fact, Britain will be under the control of the Brussels' laws for years to come.

Furthermore, existing EU case law will continue to have precedence of existing British law. According to the description of the repeal bill:

"If, after exit, a conflict arises between two pre-exit laws, one of which is an EU-derived law and the other not, then the EU-derived law will continue to take precedence over the other pre-exit law."

This reminds me of the old saying: "Be careful what you wish for. You might get it." UK government - The Great Repeal Bill and Business Insider and CNN

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Scotland demands a new referendum on leaving the EU

Of the four nations in the United Kingdom, England and Wales voted for Brexit, while Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU. Now they're being forced to leave the EU against their will.

On September 18, 2014, Scotland held a referendum on the question of whether Scotland should leave the UK and become an independent country. This would have dissolved the 1707 union between England and Scotland that came out of the War of the Spanish Succession. If the referendum had passed, then Scotland might have left the UK and become an independent country. It wouldn't automatically have been a member of the EU, however, as joining the EU would have required the approval of all 28 countries.

The referendum was voted down, but that was before Brexit. Now, Scotland's parliament has has voted by 69 to 59 to hold a new referendum. However, a new referendum on this subject cannot be held without the approval of Britain's government in London.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has signed a letter formally asking for permission to hold a second Scottish independence referendum.

Theresa May has said that the UK government will not approve the referendum until Brexit is completed, two years from now.

Sturgeon says that she may go ahead with an unofficial referendum. Scottish Sun and BBC

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Northern Ireland considers reuniting with the Republic of Ireland

Northern Ireland also voted to remain in the EU, but the situation is quite different than for Scotland.

Ireland has a long bitter history of religious and factional wars, and it's only in recent years that the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland has been open for free travel of people and goods. However, once Brexit occurs, Ireland will be in the European Union, while Northern Ireland will not, and finding a way to keep the border open has been a major priority for Northern Ireland, Ireland, London, and the EU.

Over a period of centuries, many of the sectarian wars in Ireland have been between the Catholic republicans, who want to unify Ireland and Northern Ireland, versus the Protestant loyalists, who want Northern Ireland to be part of the UK.

Now those old wounds are opening again, as a proposed solution to the "open border" problem would be for Northern Ireland to leave the UK and become part of the Republic of Ireland. There wouldn't even be a problem with the EU, as Northern Ireland would automatically be part of the EU since it would be part of Ireland.

This is an extremely emotional issue in Ireland, and may even result in new violence. RTE (Ireland) and Irish Times

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-Mar-17 World View -- Brexit: The die is cast, and the EU is playing hardball thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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30-Mar-17 World View -- With Arab world in chaos, Arab League summit displays lack of leadership and influence

Arab League plays it safe by only condemning Israel and terrorism

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

With Arab world in chaos, Arab League summit displays lack of leadership and influence


Arab League summit meeting in Jordan on Wednesday (Arab News)
Arab League summit meeting in Jordan on Wednesday (Arab News)

The Arab League used to be considered one of the most influential organizations in the world, representing the oil-rich nations of the Mideast, controlling many of the world's most important trade routes. But that's not true anymore, since the "Arab Spring" of 2011, which was triggered by the death of a Tunisian food vendor, resulting in violent protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and then in Libya, and eventually spreading to almost every Arab country. Today, the entire Arab World seems to be collapsing in chaos, and the Arab League can do nothing but sit back, watch, and pray to Allah for deliverance.

Ironically, one of the last influential acts by the Arab League that the world paid attention to was unanimous approval in March 2011 of a request for Western nations to intervene in Libya and set up at no-fly zone. The violent protests in Libya had become a bloodbath that had spread from Benghazi and Tobruk in the east to Tripoli in the west. Muammar Gaddafi declared war on the protesters. He threatened to shoot to kill protesters, and said he would crush any enemy. By April, hundreds of thousands of refugees from Libya were pouring into neighboring countries, and thousands were crossing the Mediterranean to reach Italy. The Arab League asked the West to intervene, as Gaddafi was threatening a bloody massacre in several cities, especially Benghazi.

The West finally did intervene, but what that incident proved most of all was that the Arab League couldn't solve its own problems, and that's become apparent today, where the fallout from the Arab Spring has not only paralyzed the Arab League, it's gone further and split the League into factions.

The worst split has come out of the war in Syria. The civil war in Syria was caused by president Bashar al-Assad when he unleashed his army and air force against peaceful protesters in 2011. Things really turned around in August 2011, when al-Assad launched a massive military assault on a large, peaceful Palestinian refugee camp in Latakia, filled with tens of thousands of women and children Palestinians. Thousands of young Sunni jihadists from 80 countries around the world traveled to Syria to fight al-Assad, and they formed the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

Saudi Arabia supported the so-called "moderate rebels" in Syria fighting al-Assad, while Iran stepped in, along with its Shia puppet militia Hezbollah from Lebanon, to fight on the side of al-Assad. Iran also increased its support to the Houthi Shias in Yemen, leading to a successful Houthi anti-government coup in Sanaa, Yemen's capital city, in 2014.

This led Iran to brag that it was now in control of four Arab capitals -- Beirut Lebanon, Sanaa Yemen, Baghdad Iraq, and Damascus Syria.

At the same time that this occurred, President Barack Obama appears to have withdrawn the United States leadership from the Mideast, particularly in Syria and Iraq, apparently leaving Iran and Russia as the strongest powers. In addition, President Obama pushed the Iran nuclear deal, which removed sanctions and greatly improved Iran's prestige in the Mideast.

Today, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries are placing their hopes in President Donald Trump, who they hope will turn against Iran and more strongly support Saudi Arabia. However, even that hope further makes the point that the Arab League is unable to accomplish anything on its own, without the help of the West, especially the United States.

As long-time readers are aware, Generational Dynamics predicts that Iran and the West will be allies in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, and that China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the US, India, Russia and Iran. In the Mideast, Generational Dynamics predicts a full-scale Mideast war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other. These predictions would suggest that improved friendly relations between the US and Saudi Arabia will be temporary. CS Monitor and Washington Times

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Arab League plays it safe by only condemning Israel and terrorism

The split in the Arab world is being further confounded by the fact that one of the Arab League members, Oman, seems to be increasingly siding with Iran on issues dividing that country and Saudi Arabia. Some reports have even suggested that Oman is serving as an intermediary between Iran and the Houthis in Yemen, even to the extent of turning a blind to the smuggling of Iranian weapons to the Houthis in Yemen.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who was a guest at the Arab League summit, said, Divisions in the Arab world have opened the door to foreign intervention and manipulation, breeding instability, sectarian strife, and terrorism."

Because the Arab League has no solutions to any of the serious problems facing the Arab world, Wednesday's summit meeting focused on the only safe subjects that everyone could agree on: Israel and terrorism.

Jordan's King Abdullah, who was hosting the meeting, summarized these issues:

"It is therefore our duty to protect [young Arabs] from distortions to their religion and ideological beliefs, since terrorism poses a greater threat to Arabs and Muslims, who make up the majority of its victims. ...

Israel’s continued settlement expansion and its work to undermine chances for peace. There can be no peace, no stability in the region without a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian cause, the core issue of the Middle East, based on the two-state solution."

If you're an Arab, it's always safe to wish for an end to terrorism. Furthermore, it's also safe to to talk criticize Israel, and to call for the adoption of the "two-state solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, which would be a Palestinian state living in peace side-by-side with the state of Israel, which could only work in a fairy tale.

The prediction that I first posted in May 2003, just after President George Bush announced his Mideast Roadmap to Peace, is just as true today as it was then: Jews and Arabs are headed for a new generational crisis war, re-fighting the 1948-49 genocidal war between Jews and Arabs that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel.

Today, no one seriously believes that the two-state solution is ever going to work, or that terrorism is going to do anything but continue to increase. Still, the Arab League has to call for something, and calling for fantasies is the safest thing to do. Middle East Eye and Arab News and Petra (Jordan) and Washington Post

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Mar-17 World View -- With Arab world in chaos, Arab League summit displays lack of leadership and influence thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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29-Mar-17 World View -- Asians in Paris, France, riot for two nights after police kill Chinese man

French-Chinese xenophobia appears to be growing in Paris

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Asians in Paris, France, riot for two nights after police kill Chinese man


Asian community protests on Tuesday evening in Paris against police killing of Chinese man (AP)
Asian community protests on Tuesday evening in Paris against police killing of Chinese man (AP)

A 56-year old Chinese man, Shaoyo Liu, was shot to death by police during a raid on his apartment on Sunday.

Two policemen from the "anti-crime brigade" (BAC) came to the apartment in response to reports of a "family dispute." According to the police, Liu ran to one of the policemen carrying a pair of scissors, and stabbed one of them in the chest. He was saved only because he was wearing a bulletproof vest. At that point, the other policeman shot him, leading to his death minutes later.

Liu was the father of five children. His family disputes the police version of the story, and says that Liu came to the door carrying scissors because he had been using them to prepare fish for dinner, but didn't stab anyone. According to one of Liu's daughters in tears:

"About eight o'clock, my little sister heard knocking at the door. She looked at the hole in the door and saw two men and an armed woman. My father came to the door with the scissors he had to take care of the fish he was cooking. The blows at the door became stronger and stronger. I shouted 'Calm down,' make less noise, but nothing made it. They smashed the door, the shot was gone and my father found himself on the ground."

On Monday evening 200 members of the Asian community gathered in front of the police station to protest the killing. The protest began peacefully, but then individuals broke the window of a police car and threw an incendiary device inside, creating a fire that bured the vehicle out. 35 people were arrested.

On Tuesday evening, hundreds of protesters returned to the police station to demonstrate, chanting "police assassin," "police murderer" or "injustice, injustice." The crowd turned violent, and the police fired teargas to disperse them.

According to one protester, "There are two versions, that of the police which speaks of self-defense and that of the family which says that it is a crime. What is happening, there is no reason to believe the police."

China's foreign ministry lodged an official protest, urging a full French investigation and for Chinese people's "security and rights" to be protected. Le Parisien (Paris) (Trans) and Europe1 (Paris) (Trans) and BBC

French-Chinese xenophobia appears to be growing in Paris

The incident has sparked a diplomatic row with Beijing. On Tuesday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry summoned a French diplomat and urged the French authorities to investigate the killing thoroughly and to ensure the safety of Chinese nationals on French soil.

In 2008, in the lead-up to the Olympics games to be held in China, the Olympic torch was being carried through Europe by Jin Jing, a pretty 27 year old girl from Shanghai confined to a wheelchair, part of China's national wheelchair fencing team. As I wrote in 2008, anti-Chinese xenophobia was extremely high, as there were intense protests in London and Paris against allowing Jin Jing to carry the torch in Europe. British politician Lord Sebastian Coe, himself a former Olympic athlete, condemned the army of Chinese "thugs" accompanying Jin Jing, referring to the security personnel protecting her. An article in the German magazine Der Spiegel referred to the Chinese with the headline, "There's no way people like that should be allowed on our streets." In Paris, on April 7, a Tibetan separatist attacked Jin Jing as she was carrying the torch down a Paris street.

There are about 392,700 Chinese in England and Wales, and about 600,000 in France, which has the largest Chinese population in Europe. Chinese people in Europe claim that racism against Chinese is widespread, and that complaints to the police about physical and verbal abuse are ignored. According to a poll, there's a general belief in the Chinese community that reporting crime is futile, and half the people say that they don't trust the police.

As I've been writing for over ten years, America and much of the world are in a generational Crisis era, which is always accompanied by a rise in nationalism and xenophobia. The survivors of World War II were well aware how dangerous nationalism and xenophobia can be, and they put in place rules and institutions to prevent it from occurring again.

This past weekend was the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome that formed the basis for the European Union. In 1957, the traumatized leaders of the day had suffered through two world wars in Europe, and were determined to form a new unified Europe that would guarantee that no such war would occur again. Few people are missing the irony that Britain was missing for the weekend's celebration of the Treaty of Rome, since Britain, one of the original signers, is leaving the EU because of the Brexit vote.

Nationalism and xenophobia are extremely dangerous, but as the survivors of the previous generational crisis war die off, the younger generations have no fear of nationalism and xenophobia, and they begin to increase again, eventually leading to a new generational crisis war. I've documented numerous examples in country after country of the rise of xenophobia and nationalism in the current generational Crisis era -- the rise of xenophobia and nationalism. This has happened in China vs Japan, China vs Vietnam, India vs Pakistan, Europe vis-à-vis the Muslims and the Roma, and America vis-à-vis the Muslims and the Mexicans. These attitudes cannot be stopped. They come from masses of people, not from the leaders, whose job becomes to deal with these populist attitudes in a way that does the least amount of damage.

Still, the anti-Chinese riots are part of a global trend that cannot be stopped, and it will take another world war for people to learn how dangerous nationalism and xenophobia can be. Daily Mail (London - 8-Apr-2008) and BBC (1-Jun-2015) and Global Times (Beijing) and Washington Post

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Mar-17 World View -- Asians in Paris, France, riot for two nights after police kill Chinese man thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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28-Mar-17 World View -- Bangladesh recovers from a four-day terror attack in Sylhet

ISIS claims credit for Sylhet Bangladesh terror attack

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Bangladesh recovers from a four-day terror attack in Sylhet


Apartment building in Sylhet where terror attack took place (ISPR)
Apartment building in Sylhet where terror attack took place (ISPR)

Bangladesh's army on Monday said that all militants involved in a four-day terror attack in Sylhet, in northeastern Bangladesh, have been killed. The army says that the anti-terrorism operation has not yet been completed, because the building may be booby-trapped with numerous improvised explosive devices.

The army commandos on Monday shot dead the remaining militants wearing suicide vests. The militants were equipped with small arms, explosives and grenades, and laid out booby traps at different corners of the building, creating a situation which slowed down the operations progress at the building.

The four-day siege began on Friday. On Saturday, two powerful bombs exploded, killing six people, including two police officers, and injuring about 50, including two army officers. Since Friday, 12 people have been killed.

One of the dead militants was a woman, part of an increasing trend in the participation of female jihadists. Bangladesh's police crime management believes that the use of women is a sign of desperation, as the militant groups become weaker:

"Militants now cannot carry out their activities in an organized way as they've got scattered due to repeated crackdowns by Police and RAB. So, they're now desperate and preferring to conduct suicide attacks. As they're getting alienated from their own groups, the militants are now trying to motivate their family members to indulge in militant activities."

The Bangladeshi authorities discovered the first female jihadist unit in July 2016, and arrested four female militants, including the "advisor" of the women's unit.

Dhaka Tribune and India TV News and South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP - India)

ISIS claims credit for Sylhet Bangladesh terror attack

There are numerous indigenous militant groups in Bangladesh, most notably Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), which has taken credit for a number of terrorist attacks. In recent months, terror attacks in Bangladesh have killed at least 70 Bangladeshis and some foreigners.

No indigenous jihadist group has taken credit for the Sylhet terror attack, although JMB is suspected as the perpetrator. On the other hand, the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) has taken credit for it, through its public relations agency Amaq al-Akhbariyah.

The ISIS question has stirred a debate in Bangladesh. The government says that ISIS has not come to Bangladesh, and that all terror attacks are indigenous. Some journalists are ridiculing this position. One particularly telling example occurred in July of last year, at the Holey Artisan in Dhaka, where five gunmen killed 29 people. ISIS's public relations agency posted pictures of some of the dead victims on its web site while the terror attack was still in progress.

So what does it mean for ISIS, which is a Syrian organization, to take credit for a terror attack halfway around the world in Bangladesh? No reports indicate that there were any Syrians in Bangladesh taking part in any of these attacks. The militants were all Bangladeshi. So what does it mean for ISIS to take credit?

We know that some militant groups "pledge allegiance" to ISIS, whatever that means. Obviously, in the case of the Holey Artisan attacks, indigenous militants can be in contact via mobile phones to ISIS's public relations agency. Perhaps ISIS is providing money to some indigenous militant groups, but that seems unlikely, given that ISIS in Syria has little money to spare for its own operations.

There's a creeping fear that ISIS taking over the world, when in fact, as far as I know, ISIS is simply taking credit for any terror attacks it can, even though it has nothing to do with them. That's a great public relations stunt, but it seems more like a sign of desperation than anything else.

However, as I've written several times in the past, many of these terror attacks are an outcome of the bloody civil war of 1971 that created the nation of Bangladesh, formerly East Pakistan. There are two ethnic groups in Bangladesh, the dominant Bengalis and the subservient Biharis, an outcome of the the 1971 civil war. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of Biharis living in refugee camps in filthy conditions, with the largest camp just north of Dhaka. This situation is a breeding ground for terrorists, and is a better explanation for what's going on than ISIS. Daily Star (Dhaka) and Dhaka Tribune and VOA and AP

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Mar-17 World View -- Bangladesh recovers from a four-day terror attack in Sylhet thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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27-Mar-17 World View -- Thousands are arrested in Russia as tens of thousands protest in cities across country

Massive protests were triggered by opposition leader Alexei Navalny's anti-corruption drive

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Thousands are arrested in Russia as tens of thousands protest in cities across country


Opposition leader Alexei Navalny arrested during Sunday's protests (EPA)
Opposition leader Alexei Navalny arrested during Sunday's protests (EPA)

In the largest protests that Russia has seen since 2012, demonstrators in cities across Russia held large anti-government demonstrations, protesting government corruption. Ekho Moskvy, an independent Moscow radio station, estimated a total of 60,000 people participated in 82 protests around the country.

Officials said that there were 8,000 protesters in Moscow's Pushkin Square, while activists claim that the number of protesters was closer to 20,000.Police used truncheons and pepper spray to disperse the protesters, and close to 1,000 were arrested. Russian state TV did not cover the protests, showing soap operas and nature films instead.

In St. Petersburg, Russia's second largest city, about 5,000-10,000 protesters assembled in the Mars Field park, shouting slogans including "Putin resign!" and "Down with the thieves in the Kremlin!" More than 100 were arrested.

About 2,000 gathered in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, carrying signs such as "No to corruption." 1,500 people turned out in each of the Siberian cities of Krasnoyarsk and Omsk. In the Urals city of Yekaterinburg, about 1,000 people turned up. In Russia's Far East, about 700 people turned up in the city of Vladivostok, where at least 25 people were arrested. Bloomberg and Russia Today and BBC and Politico EU

Massive protests were triggered by opposition leader Alexei Navalny's anti-corruption drive

One of the people arrested in Moscow on Sunday was Alexei Navalny, head of Russia's Progress Party, and Russia's main opposition leader. Navalny triggered the protests earlier this week by publicly calling for marches across the country to protest corruption at Russia's top level.

Three weeks ago, Navalny released a 50-minute slickly produced Youtube video, accusing Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of controlling a property empire containing mansions, yachts and vineyards, through a shadowy network of nonprofit organizations.

The video is in Russian, but has English subtitles and is quite entertaining to watch. It describes how Navalny conducted a three-year investigation that purports to show how Medvedev used his twitter account to mask millions of dollars in illegal gifts, passing through "The Foundation For Socially Important Projects." According to Navalny, it was the silliness of that name that triggered further investigation.

The video has been watched some 13 million times. Navalny is also a master at the use of social media, which explains why he was so successful in bringing out tens of thousands of protesters in cities across Russia on Sunday.

Some of the demonstrators on Sunday held up yellow rubber ducks. That's because one of the enormous estates that Medvedev allegedly owns has many buildings, including a sanctuary for ducks.

Navalny plans to run for President against Vladimir Putin next year, though technically he is not eligible to run because of a previous criminal conviction.

Daily Mail and Moscow Times and YouTube - Navalny documentary and Moscow Times (15-Sep-2016)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Mar-17 World View -- Thousands are arrested in Russia as tens of thousands protest in cities across country thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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26-Mar-17 World View -- Iraq halts Mosul operation after US coalition airstrikes kill hundreds of civilians

Iraq halts the Mosul operation under international pressure

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

US confirms that US coalition airstrikes on Mosul killed hundreds of civilians on March 17


A boy rides his bike past destroyed cars and houses in a neighborhood recently liberated by Iraqi security forces on the western side of Mosul on March 19, 2017. (AP)
A boy rides his bike past destroyed cars and houses in a neighborhood recently liberated by Iraqi security forces on the western side of Mosul on March 19, 2017. (AP)

The US Central Command confirmed on Saturday that multiple airstrikes on March 17 had killed dozens of civilians, while other reports claim that the number killed was as high as 200. The airstrikes were launched at targets belonging to the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) in western Mosul in Iraq. The United Nations expressed profound concern, saying it was "stunned by this terrible loss of life."

The military operation to free Mosul from ISIS is now in its sixth month. The operation has recaptured the entire eastern side of Mosul, east of the Tigris River, and about half of the western side. Iraq's Shia army are leading the operation on the ground, backed by coalition airstrikes.

Stories have been surfacing in the last few days of the civilian death from the airstrikes. The US military investigated, revealing that the coalition had struck fighters and equipment in an area in western Mosul that matched the reports of civilian casualties. Saturday's announcement said:

"At the request of the Iraqi Security Forces, the Coalition struck ISIS fighters and equipment, March 17, in West Mosul at the location corresponding to allegations of civilian casualties. ...

The Coalition respects human life, which is why we are assisting our Iraqi partner forces in their effort to liberate their lands from ISIS brutality.

Our goal has always been for zero civilian casualties, but the coalition will not abandon our commitment to our Iraqi partners because of ISIS’ inhuman tactics terrorizing civilians, using human shields, and fighting from protected sites such as schools, hospitals, religious sites and civilian neighborhoods."

The announcement didn't identify which country's aircraft conducted the airstrikes. Warplanes from Australia, France, Belgium, Britain and the United States have all been heavily engaged in the Mosul operation.

According to reports from residents, ISIS is using civilians as human shields. The tactic is to gather dozens of civilians into a building, and then take up positions on the roofs, firing at Iraqi soldiers. When the Iraqi forces request a coalition airstrike targeting the ISIS fighters, the civilians in the building are vulnerable.

In the case of the March 17 strike, some reports indicate that the airstrike hit explosive materials that had been laid in the house by ISIS, and the explosion collapsed the entire building, trapping or killing the civilians inside.

The assault on ISIS in western Mosul is only just beginning, with the worst yet to come. The urban warfare is extremely intense. According to one Iraqi commando:

"The fighting is at much closer quarters. It was street-by-street — now it’s house-by-house. We are often literally in the same house, on the roof, and [ISIS] is downstairs. Sometimes we drop grenades. If there are civilians, families in the homes, we shout to them to take cover inside a room."

There are still some 600,000 civilians believed to remain in ISIS-held areas. These civilians are essentially trapped. If they remain, then they may be killed by an airstrike or in the crossfire in the fighting between the Iraqis and ISIS. ISIS is refusing to allow them to leave, and any civilians that try to leave can be shot on sight by ISIS. News.com (Australia) and Reuters

Iraq halts the Mosul operation under international pressure

The civilian death toll in the Mosul operation is being described by as "a humanitarian catastrophe," and pressure is growing to change tactics.

Lise Grande, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq issued the usual kind of laughable statement that's always coming out of the United Nations:

"We are stunned by this terrible loss of life and wish to express our deepest condolences to the many families who have reportedly been impacted by this tragedy.

Nothing in this conflict is more important than protecting civilians. International humanitarian law is clear. Parties to the conflict – all parties – are obliged to do everything possible to protect civilians.

This means that combatants cannot use people as human shields and cannot imperil lives through indiscriminate use of firepower."

We can imagine ISIS leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi saying, "Oh no! I didn't know using human shields violated international humanitarian law. We'll stop doing it immediately!"

However, pressure is also growing from Iraqi politicians and international activists. The result is that Iraq has ordered the Mosul operation to be halted immediately, until the situation can be reassessed. According to an Iraqi Federal Police spokesman on Saturday:

"The recent high death toll among civilians inside the Old City [of Mosul] forced us to halt operations to review our plans. It's a time for weighing new offensive plans and tactics. No combat operations are to go on.

We need to make sure that taking out [ISIS] from the Old City will not cost unwanted high casualties among civilians. We need surgical accurate operations to target terrorists without causing collateral damage among residents."

President Donald Trump in January issued an executive order demanding a new plan to defeat ISIS from his military. The new plan arrived on his desk in February but has not been detailed in public. Some activists are suggesting that a change in the rules of engagement under President Trump is leading to an increase in civilian casualties. Independent (London) and Rudaw (Kurdistan)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Mar-17 World View -- Iraq halts Mosul operation after US coalition airstrikes kill hundreds of civilians thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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25-Mar-17 World View -- US resettlement of refugees from Australia's detention centers is about to begin

Analysts skeptical of ISIS claiming responsibility for London terror attack

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Analysts skeptical of ISIS claiming responsibility for London terror attack


Khalid Masood before converting to Islam (ITV)
Khalid Masood before converting to Islam (ITV)

On Wednesday, at 2:30 pm local time, Khalid Masood ploughed the car into a crowd of pedestrians on Westminster Bridge. He then smashed it into the railings encircling the Palace of Westminster. He jumped out of the vehicle and, armed with two large knives, fatally stabbed an unarmed police officer as he entered the grounds. He ran towards the palace, but was shot dead by another police officer.

Khalid Masood was born in 1964 in Kent, England, to a single mother, and named Adrian Russell Ajao at birth. He used the alias Khalid Choudry after converting to Islam, and later adopted the name Khalid Masood. He was married with several children.

The so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) claimed responsibility for the attack, calling Masood a "soldier" of the caliphate who "carried out the operation in response to calls to target the people of coalition nations."

ISIS has been developing a pattern of claiming responsibility for terror attacks in Afghanistan, Taliban, Bangladesh, and other countries, when it had nothing to do with them. In some cases, the indigenous group carrying out the attack had pledged allegiance to ISIS, but in no case that I'm aware of has ISIS leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi told some of his thugs in Syria to pack their bags and travel to another country to blow up a marketplace.

In the case of Masood, there's no evidence that he had ever communicated with ISIS, or that ISIS had ever heard of him before Wednesday. Some evidence could still emerge, of course, but until it does we have to assume that the ISIS claims are just bloviation.

ISIS is facing an existential crisis, under attack by American, Iraqi, Syrian, Russian, Free Syrian Army, and Kurdish forces in Iraq and Syria. ISIS has lost much of the territory it formerly controlled, and is now under attack in Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa, Syria. The battles in these two cities are far from over, and may be extremely bloody for months to come.

But ISIS appears to have lost its magic power to continue to attract young jihadists from around the world to come and fight Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. Instead, it's using desperation measures, claiming credit for any terror attack, in order to try to bolster its prestige.

The worry today is that the jihadists that traveled to Syria from over 80 countries to join ISIS are now returning to their home countries to continue their fight there. ITV (London) and NBC News

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US resettlement of refugees from Australia's detention centers is about to begin

Officials from the US Department of Homeland Security have been distributing documents to refugees in Australia's offshore detention centers informing them of the application process for resettlement in the United States.

This appears to be the first step in fulfilling a promise made in a deal in November between President Barack Obama and Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to allow 1,250 refugees being held in Australia's refugee centers to be resettled in the United States.

The refugees, from countries like Sudan, Somalia and Afghanistan, are living in two "detention centers" on Pacific islands, one on Papua New Guinea's (PNG's) Manus Island, and one on the island nation of Nauru, under agreements that Australia reached with both countries. However, the United Nations and international refugee activists have condemned the refugee camps, saying that under international law, valid asylum seekers should be resettled on Australian soil. Australia has resisted that in order to discourage human trafficking of refugees to Australia.

Early in February, President Donald Trump called it "the worst deal ever," but promised to honor the deal because he was bound by agreements made by the previous administration. He confirmed that the US will take in up to 1,250 of these refugees, after subjecting each of them to "extreme vetting."

Although things have been moving slowly, it now appears that the application process for the refugees is about to begin. The process will begin when US officials travel to Manus and Nauru Island to collect fingerprints from refugees applying for resettlement in the United States. They'll arrive on Nauru this week, and on Manus Island in April. After that, the refugees will sit through face-to-face interviews, security assessments and medical checks.

The document being distributed is titled: "US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), Case Processing on Nauru and Manus, Resettlement Support Center (RSC) Interviews."

Resettlement Support Centers (RSCs) are US State Dept. funded organizations that process resettlement applications from refugees around the world. There are nine RSCs in countries around the world, funded by the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. According to the program's web site, the average time for an application to be processed is 18-24 months, although that time will probably be reduced under the agreement between the US and Australia. Australian Broadcasting and US State Dept. Refugee Admissions Program and US Refugee Admissions Program document (PDF)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Mar-17 World View -- US resettlement of refugees from Australia's detention centers is about to begin thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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24-Mar-17 World View -- With Egypt's contraceptive shortage, Cairo becomes the world's fastest growing city

Shortage of contraceptives and culture of large families spur Egypt's population growth

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Cairo, Egypt, becomes the world's fastest growing city


Downtown Cairo on March 9 (Reuters)
Downtown Cairo on March 9 (Reuters)

Cairo, the capital city of Egypt, already has a population of 22.8 million people, and is set to grow by another 500,000 in 2017, making it the world's fastest growing city.

Egypt as a whole has a natural population growth of 2.4% per year, double the average of other developing countries. Its current population is 92 million.

The "good" economic news is that Egypt's surging population growth has made the country the world's fastest-growing real estate market, with an expected annual expansion of 18.9% mortgaged households in 2017 alone. The world's second and third fastest growing real estate markets are Algeria and Nigeria, respectively. Africa and the Middle East are home finance hotspots, due to their large and growing populations seeking infrastructure and residential units to resolve urban housing shortages.

The "bad" economic news is that Egypt's surging population growth, combined with overdevelopment of the Nile Delta, and the looming completion of Ethiopia's Renaissance Dam, which could affect the flow of water in the Nile River, will cause Egypt to face critical countrywide shortages of freshwater and food by the year 2025.

According to a study by the Geological Society of America:

"About 70% of water flow reaching Egypt is derived from the Blue Nile and Atbara River, both sourced in Ethiopia. Over the past 200 years, rapidly increasing human activity has seriously altered flow conditions of the Nile. Emplacement in Egypt of barrages in the 1800s, construction the Aswan Low Dam in 1902, and the Aswan High Dam in 1965 has since altered water flow and distribution of nourishing organic-rich soil in the delta.

Egypt's population has recently swelled rapidly to about 90 million, with most living in the soil-rich Lower Nile Valley and Delta. These two areas comprise only about 3.5% of Egypt's total area, the remainder being mostly sandy desert. Due to much-intensified human impact, the delta no longer functions as a naturally expanding fluvial-coastal center. Less than 10% of Nile water now reaches the sea, and most of the nutrient-rich sediment is trapped in the delta by a dense canal and irrigation system. ...

[Furthermore,] saline intrusion is now reaching agricultural terrains in central delta sectors -- the coastal 20 to 40 km of delta surface will be underwater by the end of this century.

There is an additional looming danger of considerable importance: Ethiopia, itself energy-poor and undergoing drought conditions, is shortly (in 2017) to complete construction of the largest hydro-electric dam in Africa, its Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The large reservoir behind the dam is to be filled over a three- to five-year or longer period, during which it is expected that the amount of Nile flow to the Sudan and Egypt and its delta will be substantially reduced.

This down-river decrease of Nile fresh water will produce grave conditions. The pre-GERD Nile flow now barely supplies 97% of Egypt's present water needs with only 660 cubic meters per person, one of the world's lowest annual per capita water shares."

The report concludes that Egypt will have critical countrywide fresh water and food shortages by 2025. Egyptian Streets and Reuters and Geological Society of America

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Shortage of contraceptives and culture of large families spur Egypt's population growth

Egypt must import almost all medicines or their components, which makes the cost of these medicines dependent on the foreign exchange rate of the Egyptian pound currency versus the US dollar. After Egypt floated the pound in November, inflation has been soaring, and the inflation rate jumped to a record 31.7% in February. The result is that import prices of medicines have soared as well, with drug prices now out of reach for many families.

Some medicines are price-controlled by the government, but this has created shortages and hoarding. So even if a family can afford the cost of a drug, in many cases it's completely unavailable.

In particular, this has resulted in a shortage not only of contraceptive pills, but of all birth control methods in general.

However, there's also a social culture in Egypt that encourages families to have many children. According to surveys, About 90 percent of Egyptian women and 87 percent of men between the ages of 15 and 49 believe that contraceptives should only be used after the first child.

An article quotes a poor Cairo resident of being pressured to have more children, after he'd already had four. After being taunted by his neighbors, insulting his manhood, he persuaded his wife to go off birth control. Over the next four years, they had three more children. He says:

"My father had many, many children, my grandfather had many, many children, and everyone here has many children. It’s not easy to do something different."

He regrets these decisions, however, as his small salary is barely enough to feed his family, which subsists on stewed fava beans and bread, and his children can't afford to go to school.

A 2015 study by Egypt's Ministry of Health and Population found the following:

Egyptian Streets and Newsweek and Egypt's Ministry of Health and Population (PDF)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Mar-17 World View -- With Egypt's contraceptive shortage, Cairo becomes the world's fastest growing city thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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23-Mar-17 World View -- Massive China-Pakistan CPEC energy project said to end energy crisis 'soon'

Skeptics claim that CPEC will only benefit China, not Pakistan

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Massive China-Pakistan CPEC energy project said to end energy crisis 'soon'


Chinese coal-fired power plant (Reuters)
Chinese coal-fired power plant (Reuters)

Ahsan Iqbal, Pakistan's Federal Minister for Planning and Development, says that Pakistan's energy crisis will soon be over, thanks to the announcement of the first project in the $55 billion 20-year China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

At a ground-breaking ceremony for two 660-megawatt coal-fired power plants in Pakistan's Balochistan province, he welcomed China's initial $2 billion investment, and said that they would be completed within two years. He said that these power plans would be equipped with the latest technology to generate electricity at low costs. The plants will burn 3.8 million tons of coal per year, and would generate 9 billion kWh of electricity per year.

“We are grateful to the Chinese for their help,” said Iqbal, describing CPEC as a "colossal project" that would be an important milestone not only for Pakistan, but "for the entire region."

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

As long-time readers are aware, Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the US, India, Russia and Iran. The development of CPEC is one more step along that trend line. Pakistan Today and Express Tribune (Pakistan) and Dawn (Pakistan) and MWC

Skeptics claim that CPEC will only benefit China, not Pakistan

Many Pakistanis are pointing to a similar "gift" by China to Sri Lanka that turned into a financial disaster for Sri Lanka. As we described in January, China invested $1.2 billion in a Sri Lanka seaport on the Indian Ocean.

Sri Lanka had expected to repay the debt through profits earned by the port, but instead the port lost money, and the government faced a disastrous debt. Sri Lanka's government was forced to give China a 99-year lease to take over the port, as a debt repayment. In addition, China will lease 15,000 acres in the region for an industrial zone for Chinese factories. Opponents say that thousands of people will lose their homes because of the project. They say that China will establish a "Chinese colony" on Sri Lankan soil that will grow and can never be removed.

With Sri Lanka's experience in mind, senator Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi said that the Chinese and Pakistan governments had failed to spell out what benefits would come to Pakistan. "China is our brother, but business is business."

Mashhadi said that Pakistan should not repeat the mistake it made with Nato in conjunction with the Afghanistan war. Military supplies for Nato arrive at Pakistan's port in Karachi, and then travel in huge trucks and tankers over Pakistan's highways and roads, ruining them, according to Mashhad, with Pakistan getting nothing in return for the damage they caused. According to Mashhadi:

"Thousands of vehicles will cross the CPEC and there must be an agreement as to who will bear the roads and highways maintenance cost.

It should also be made very clear as to who would get job opportunities in CPEC-related projects. Would Pakistani laborers and youth get jobs or mostly Chinese people would be engaged and get jobs in CPEC-related projects?"

In fact, he was informed that only Chinese industrialists would be allowed to set up their industries in the proposed economic zones along the corridor.

Further studies by Pakistani analysts had led to the conclusions that, based on interest rates normally charged by China Development Bank and China EXIM Bank, the cost of borrowing will surge to 13%, including insurance costs.

"Where will the benefit be for Pakistan? Will the Chinese give us some share of the profit? We are informed that Chinese banks charge us more interest than any other international bank."

The CPEC project will also bring about substantial demographic changes in the province of Balochistan. The Baloch people are Shia Muslims of Iranian descent, and have been the targets of numerous bloody terrorist attacks by terror groups linked to the Pakistan Taliban and to al-Qaeda. In addition, they've suffered economic discrimination within Pakistan itself.

Correction: A reader has sent me the following correction to the previous paragraph: "Baloch are not Shia Muslim neither their origin is Iranian. Baloch are Indo-European in origin. English, German, Persian and Kurdish are all Indo-European languages. The ethnicity is very different from Persians because our culture and our origin had similarities during antiquity but we always remained as two separate nations throughout the history." (Paragraph added. 26-Mar)

According to estimates from the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the CPEC project will result in an inflow of more than 600,000 Chinese people -- Chinese workers and their families -- diluting that Baloch population. Baloch activists claim that whatever economic benefits the CPEC project will bring to Pakistan, most of the benefits will go to the favored Punjab province. The CPEC project will use up all of Balochistan's natural resources, and the Baloch people will get nothing from it.

These are issues and questions whose resolution may not be forthcoming, in the current euphoria over the ground-breaking for the two 660-megawatt coal-fired power plants. Dawn (Pakistan, 1-Mar) and India Tribune and South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP - India) and Newsgram

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Pakistan will use dark financing to cover the cost of protecting Chinese workers

On October 24 of last year, at least 61 people, mostly fresh police recruits, were killed and 117 injured in a terror attack on a Police Training cottage in Quetta, the capital of the province of Balochistan in Pakistan, and close to the location of the future coal-fired power plant. The attackers were thought to be Afghan Uzbeks, affiliated with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM).

ETIM is only one several jihadists terror groups that have been attacking Shia Muslim targets in Balochistan. Besides groups affiliated with the Pakistani Taliban, there are other groups affiliated with ETIM, including the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), and other activist groups from the Uighur community in China's Xinjiang province, where the CPEC corridor will originate.

With 600,000 Chinese workers entering Pakistan every year, CPEC projects and Chinese workers will with certainty be a target of ETIM. Pakistan is creating a Special Security Division (SDD), a special force of 15,000 police, army and paramilitary troops, charged with the "security of Chinese on CPEC and non-CPEC projects." A successful terrorist attack on CPEC could halt the project for months.

All this security is going to cost $155 million. In order to raise this money, Pakistan plans to add these costs to people's utility bills.

Security has been a major concern for the Chinese, and they have emphasized this repeatedly. Dawn (Pakistan) and Daily Times (Pakistan) and Dawn (12-March)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Mar-17 World View -- Massive China-Pakistan CPEC energy project said to end energy crisis 'soon' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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22-Mar-17 World View -- Concerns grow over chaos in Iraq after ISIS is defeated in Mosul

UN's humanitarian agencies overwhelmed as hundreds of thousands flee Mosul

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

UN's humanitarian agencies overwhelmed as hundreds of thousands flee Mosul


Iraqi security forces advance during fighting against ISIS militants in western Mosul (AP)
Iraqi security forces advance during fighting against ISIS militants in western Mosul (AP)

Iraq's government forces continue to make territorial gains in west Mosul as they continue to battle to flush fighters from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) out of their last urban stronghold in Iraq. West Mosul is the densely populated portion of the city located on the west bank of the Tigris River, which divides the city.

Iraq army began its Mosul offensive in October, with support from US artillery. The fight to eject ISIS from east Mosul has already been mostly completed.

Mosul had an estimated population of two million before ISIS took it over in June 2014 in a lightning assault. Since then, many Iraqis have fled, but somewhere between 750,000 and one million are thought to remain in west Mosul. Many of these people are trapped in west Mosul, because ISIS is shooting and killing any families that try to leave.

Unlike east Mosul, the streets in west Mosul are too narrow for armored vehicles, and any use of heavy weapons puts civilian lives in danger. So extremely bloody house to house fighting is required, with many homes booby-trapped with bombs by ISIS.

More than 180,000 people have already fled west Mosul. About 111,000 have sought shelter in refugee camps. The government says that it can accommodate a further 100,000 displaced people in camps.

However, the UN is saying that the numbers could rise far above that, and could overwhelm the UN's humanitarian agencies. According to the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs: "Humanitarian agencies are bracing for the possibility that an additional 300,000-320,000 civilians may flee in coming weeks."

According to Lise Grande, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq: "We have been preparing for the Mosul operation for months, but the magnitude of the crisis has exceeded our expectations, but we will do our best to ensure that people are helped.

Grande says that the situation in east Mosul was different:

"The main difference is that tens of thousands of families stayed in their homes in the east. In the west, tens of thousands are fleeing.

If the number of people leaving the city increases faster than we can construct new plots, the situation could deteriorate very quickly."

Analysts expect the fighting in Mosul to last a few more weeks, if not months. Middle East Monitor and AFP and Euro News and Gulf Times

Concerns grow over chaos in Iraq after ISIS is defeated in Mosul

The American-led coalition that fought the Iraq war in the early 2000s was blamed and continues to be blamed for the crisis that followed the war, which was attributed to inadequate planning. Fears are increasing that the same problem will occur after ISIS is defeated in Iraq.

Australian analysts are expressing the fear that ISIS jihadists will go back to their home countries or to other countries and continue the fight there. According to Greg Barton, professor of Global Islamic Politics at Deakin University:

"We’re looking at a very grim future for the Middle East. If the government of Iraq can get its act together, they have half a chance of making things better, but we have every reason to worry that won’t be the case.

“We may well see ISIS forces coming back as we’ve seen Taliban forces in Afghanistan. We’ve been constantly underestimating strength and capacity, I think we’ll be repeating that error again and again."

Canada has been supporting the Kurdish peshmerga forces in Iraq with training, weapons and equipment, and now face the possibility that this support will backfire on Canada.

With Canadian support, the Iraqi Kurds have taken control with land regions during the fight to eject ISIS from Mosul, and they are not going to be willing to give them back. In November 2015, Canada's prime minister Justin Trudeau was warned about the potential long-term consequences of supporting the Kurds:

"Should the (ISIS) threat recede, Baghdad will have to contend with a range of land disputes with the (Kurdish regional government), as well as strengthened Iraqi Kurdish forces, which have received training and equipment from coalition members, including Canada."

Three months later, the government announced it would triple the number of Canadian military trainers in northern Iraq and provide weapons to the Kurds.

Many in Canada are watching to see whether the Kurds plan to demand independence from the rest of Iraq, as their leaders have promised. This would lead to a major political crisis in Iraq, and possibly another war.

Furthermore, it will cause political chaos in Canada as well. It will be used as an argument for activists in Canada's own sovereigntist movement (Mouvement souverainiste du Québec), which is demanding independence for the province of Quebec. News.com (Australia) and CTV (Canada)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Mar-17 World View -- Concerns grow over chaos in Iraq after ISIS is defeated in Mosul thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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21-Mar-17 World View -- Pope Francis apologizes for Catholic Church's role in 1994 Rwanda genocide

A century of genocides

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pope Francis apologizes for Catholic Church's role in 1994 Rwanda genocide


Pope Francis meets Rwanda's president Paul Kagame on Monday (CNA)
Pope Francis meets Rwanda's president Paul Kagame on Monday (CNA)

In 1994, there were two major ethnic groups in Rwanda -- the Hutus and the Tutsis. They had lived together for decades, had intermarried, had their kids play games with each other and so forth.

The iconic genocidal war between Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda and Burundi in 1994 was the culmination of centuries of generational crisis wars between the two tribes, where the Tutsis were the herders who controlled the land, and the Hutus were the farmers who worked for the Tutsis.

On April 6, a plane crash killed Juvenal Habyarimana, the president of Rwanda, a Hutu, when the plane was shot down by an unknown assailant. Next, a Hutu leader announced over the radio, "Cut down the tall trees," referring to the Tutsis, who were generally taller than Hutus. The radio announcement, which was heard all over the country, was some sort of prearranged signal. On cue, each Hutu did something like the following: Picked up a machete, went to the Tutsi home next door, or down the street, murdered and dismembered the man and children, raped the wife and then murdered and dismembered her.

Close to a million Tutsis were tortured, raped and murdered in a three month period. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is the purest modern example of an "organic" or "indigenous" genocide, as opposed to a government-ordered genocide such as is occurring today in Syria. And in Rwanda, it made no difference that almost everyone is Christian, mostly Catholic. All humans, of whatever religion, have the same DNA.

Since 1994, relations between Rwanda and the Vatican have been stormy, with the Tutsis accusing the Church of being close to the Hutus, and for having participated in the massacres. Although some Hutu clergy members helped the Tutsis, in other cases, Hutu clergy were perpetrators. In some cases, the Hutu clergy ushered Tutsis into church buildings, promising them security, and then allowed them to be slaughtered.

On Monday, Pope Francis met at the Vatican with Rwanda's president Paul Kagame, and issued a statement apologizing on behalf of the Catholic Church for the Church's involvement in the 1994 Rwanda genocide:

"In this context, the Pope conveyed his profound sadness, and that of the Holy See and of the Church, for the genocide against the Tutsi. He expressed his solidarity with the victims and with those who continue to suffer the consequences of those tragic events and ... he implored anew God’s forgiveness for the sins and failings of the Church and its members, among whom priests, and religious men and women who succumbed to hatred and violence, betraying their own evangelical mission. In light of the recent Holy Year of Mercy and of the Statement published by the Rwandan Bishops at its conclusion, the Pope also expressed the desire that this humble recognition of the failings of that period, which, unfortunately, disfigured the face of the Church, may contribute to a “purification of memory” and may promote, in hope and renewed trust, a future of peace, witnessing to the concrete possibility of living and working together, once the dignity of the human person and the common good are put at the centre."

Pope Francis referred to a statement published by the Rwandan Bishops on November 20, 2016:

"We apologize for all the wrongs the Church committed. We apologize on behalf of all Christians for all forms of wrongs we committed. We regret that church members violated (their) oath of allegiance to God’s commandments. ...

Forgive us for the crime of hate in the country to the extent of also hating our colleagues because of their ethnicity. We didn’t show that we are one family but instead killed each other."

While the Bishops' statement was welcomed last November, the government of Rwanda issued a stinging rebuke:

"This step is welcome, as individual expressions of remorse. However, its profound inadequacy only serves to highlight how far the Catholic Church still remains from a full and honest reckoning with its moral and legal responsibilities.

First, as they apologize on behalf of a few unnamed individuals, the bishops appear to take the extraordinary step of exonerating the Catholic Church as a whole for any culpability in connection with the Genocide. Everything in the historical record contradicts this divisive claim. ...

Finally, given the scale of the crimes, there is ample justification for an apology from the Vatican, as has occurred repeatedly with other cases of lesser magnitude."

This rebuke led to the Pope's apology on Monday. Vatican Press Release and Catholic News Agency (21-Nov-2016) and Govt of Rwanda (23-Nov-2016)

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A century of genocides

It is to the credit of the Catholic Church that the Pope is willing to apologize for its part in the Rwanda genocide, even if it take over 20 years for the apology to occur.

However, the Rwanda genocide should remind us that what Generational Dynamics tells us is true: That when it comes to genocide, every ethnic group, every religious group, every geographic group, is the same as every other. Indeed, if some religious or ethnic group refused to commit genocide, then in a matter of one or two centuries they would be exterminated by another group that wasn't so fastidious.

Whether a particular demographic group is involved in or inclined to genocide or ethnic cleansing or atrocities depends on which generational era its in. A group in a generational Awakening era, like America in the 1960s, would be very reluctant to commit atrocities, because the atrocities from the previous generational crisis war would still be well remembered by its survivors. But as a group goes deeper into a generational Crisis era, as the survivors of the previous crisis war die off, as do the memories of the atrocities that occurred during that war, then the population is more willing to commit atrocities, ethnic cleansing and genocide.

People of the Muslim faith are most closely identified with atrocities in the current era, which isn't surprising since almost every atrocity in the news these days is almost always perpetrated by some Sunni Muslim jihadist group. However, it's worth pointing out that of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, there are only a very small number, probably in the thousands or tens of thousands, that support the al-Qaeda and ISIS atrocities.

From the point of view of generational theory, this situation is attributable to the fact most Sunni Muslim countries are deep into a generation Crisis era, much more so than the Christian nations. The reason is that their last crisis war for many Sunni Muslim nations was not World War II, but was World War I, including the destruction of the Ottoman Empire. This means that there are absolutely no Sunni Muslim survivors remaining who remember the horrors and atrocities of WW I, and the younger generations have no fear of repeating them.

People who say that there's a war by Muslims against Christians are completely missing the point. It's true that jihadist groups sometimes target Christians, but these are almost always little more than gruesome publicity stunts. The number of Christians being killed by Muslims is minuscule compared to the number of Muslims being killed by Muslims. Jihadist groups linked to al-Qaeda or to the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) are overwhelmingly targeting other Muslims, and rarely Christians.

The genocide being perpetrated by Syria's president Bashar al-Assad serves as an example to distinguish between government-perpetrated atrocities, for which al-Assad is responsible, and "organic" atrocities, such as those committed by ISIS fighters or the Hutus in Rwanda. As I've been reporting many times over the last couple of years, al-Assad's army is supporting him only half-heartedly, with massive numbers of desertions. Al-Assad himself said in 2015 that his army was near defeat, but was saved by the Russians. Syria is not in a generational Crisis era. It's in a generational Awakening era, and the public supports the war half-heartedly, just as the American public half-heartedly supported the Vietnam war in the 1960s.

From the point of view of generational theory, it's rare for a genocide or ethnic cleansing to be purely organic or government-led, but in an Awakening era it's going to be almost completely government-led, while in a Crisis era, it will be "organic," whether or not it's government led. In an Awakening era, the atrocities are often perpetrated by a leader who refused to lead office, such as we're seeing in Syria, Burundi, and Zimbabwe.

Two modern special cases are worth mentioning. In the Central African Republic (CAR), there are atrocities being committed on both sides, by both Muslims and Christians. CAR's last crisis war climaxed in 1932, so the country is well into a generational Crisis era, and that affects both the Christian and Muslim population.

The other special case is occurring in Myanmar (Burma), in the early stages of a generational Crisis era, where Buddhists, led by Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu and his "969 movement," are conducting atrocities targeting the Rohingya Muslims, including rapes, torture and other atrocities committed by Buddhists, targeting the Rohingyas. The Rohingyas have a darker skin than Burmese, and they speak a Bengali dialect. The actions by the Buddhists were similar to the actions by the Nazis against the Jews.

So it's good that the Catholic Church has apologized for its participation in the 1994 Rwanda genocide, although it took over 20 years for the apology to be forthcoming. Perhaps in another 20 years, some Muslim clerics will apologize for the atrocities being committed today in the name of Islam.

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Mar-17 World View -- Pope Francis apologizes for Catholic Church's role in 1994 Rwanda genocide thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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20-Mar-17 World View -- Venezuela's Socialist government arrests bakers because of bread shortage

Suspicions grow that Kim Jong-nam's Malaysia assassination was not with VX nerve gas

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Venezuela's Socialist government arrests bakers because of bread shortage


This is a baker in Caracas being arrested by a government inspector, with his illegal croissants in plain sight (BBC)
This is a baker in Caracas being arrested by a government inspector, with his illegal croissants in plain sight (BBC)

Just when you think that Venezuela's Socialist president Nicolás Maduro can't make himself look more like a total moron than he already has, something like this comes along: Bakers are being arrested.

Because flour is in short supply in the Socialist economy, Maduro has ordered bakeries to produce only French bread, white loaves, or pan canilla. Furthermore, all of these items are price-controlled, which means that they must be sold at the government-dictated price.

Bakers are now being arrested for the following crimes:

Inspectors are visiting all the bakeries to make sure that these rules are followed, and violators are arrested. Over 700 bakeries were inspected in Caracas.

For example, the bakers working in two different bakeries in the capital city Caracas were arrested over the weekend for selling bread loaves smaller than the government-dictated size. According to William Contreras, the head of Venezuela’s consumer protection agency, SUNDDE:

"A loaf should weigh 180 grams. These gentlemen here produce [their bread loaves] as 140 grams, and charge it as though it were 180."

While they're in jail, state-appointed bakers, probably one Maduro's political cronies, will run the bakery.

Venezuela's Socialist economy has been a disaster for years. Citizens have to queue for hours to get basics like milk, rice, flour, ketchup, diapers, and toilet paper. Crime and violence are rampant. 75% of Venezuelan homes are living in poverty. The government has ordered the jailing of factory owners if their factories cannot produce products as ordered. Venezuelanalysis and Bloomberg and BBC and Miami Herald

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Venezuela's political opposition now publishing inflation data

Venezuela's inflation rate is the highest in the world. In fact, it's gotten so high, that Venezuela's Socialist government has ordered the central bank to stop reporting it.

This has led to something new. At the beginning of this month, Maduro's political opposition in congress has started publishing its own inflation rate. They've enlisted economics students to collect price data, and they've enlisted economics students to collect price data in five cities and asked former central bank employees to process it using the central bank's methodology.

Their measurements show prices rose 741 percent in the 12 months to February, 20.1 percent last month alone and 42.5 percent in the first two months of 2017. Reuters (9-Mar)

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Suspicions grow that Kim Jong-nam's Malaysia assassination was not with VX nerve gas

Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un, was assassinated in Kuala Lumpur airport in Malaysia on February 13, minutes after two women each rubbed his face with a cloth in the middle of the airport.

An autopsy by Malaysian doctors concluded that the poison that killed him was VX nerve gas. Touching just one drop of VX can kill you within minutes, which appears to have happened to Kim Jong-nam. The problem is that questions were immediately raised about why the two women who applied the poison weren't also killed, and why nobody else in the airport was harmed, including the medics who initially treated Kim.

A month has passed, and the Malaysian authorities have released no forensic evidence to back up the VX claim, and indeed almost no forensic evidence at all. This is raising suspicions that something doesn't add up. According to one expert:

"I cannot see how the accused women would have administered a fatal dose of VX directly to the victim without sustaining corresponding life-threatening injuries themselves.

There is also no report of any trace of VX - or of any cloths or containers carrying traces of it - at the 'crime scene'."

However, there is one explanation that might make sense. A "binary" version of VX, called VX2, has two components that are individually harmless, but lethal when mixed. There were two women involved, and each one could have applied one of the components to the victim's face, so that they were only mixed on the victim's face.

That doesn't explain everything -- like how the medics who treated Kim escaped contamination. Straits Times (Singapore) and Guardian (London)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Mar-17 World View -- Venezuela's Socialist government arrests bakers because of bread shortage thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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19-Mar-17 World View -- Israel and Syria have unprecedented missile clash over Jordan

Jordan has to live with increasing threats from Syria and Israel

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel and Syria have unprecedented missile clash over Jordan


Map of region.  Israeli warplanes struck Lebanon-bound convoy near the T-4 airbase near Palmyra.  Syrian Russian-made S-200 ground to air missiles targeted the Israeli planes without success.  One was intercepted by Israel's Arrow missile system.  This map also depicts (red arrow) a claim by Debka that Hezbollah may be planning an attack on Israeli-held Mount Hermon.  (Debka)
Map of region. Israeli warplanes struck Lebanon-bound convoy near the T-4 airbase near Palmyra. Syrian Russian-made S-200 ground to air missiles targeted the Israeli planes without success. One was intercepted by Israel's Arrow missile system. This map also depicts (red arrow) a claim by Debka that Hezbollah may be planning an attack on Israeli-held Mount Hermon. (Debka)

The most serious incident between Israel and Syria since the Syrian civil war began six years ago occurred early Friday morning when Syrian anti-aircraft missiles were shot down by Israel's Arrow 3 anti-missile defense system. The Syrian missiles were targeting Israeli warplanes attacking a convoy of trucks carrying advanced weapons from northern Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Israel's warplanes were attacking a convoy of trucks leaving Syria's T-4 airbase near Palmyra in northern Syria. The trucks were believed to be carrying advanced weapons systems to be delivered to Hezbollah in Lebanon for use in its attacks on Israel. The advanced weapons may have included precision rockets, advanced anti-aircraft missiles and surface-to-ship missiles.

Israel has attacked weapons convoys traveling from Syria to Lebanon in the past, but the first thing that's unprecedented about this attack is that it has been confirmed by Israel's military. In the past, Israel has refused to comment on its attacks on weapons convoys. However, in April 2016, Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted for the first time that Israel had in the past attacked dozens of convoys transporting weapons in Syria destined for Hezbollah,

The second unprecedented thing is that the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad launched three or four ground-to-air missiles to attack the Israeli warplanes. In the case of past attacks on weapons convoys, there were no such anti-aircraft missile attacks.

The missiles were apparently outdated Russian-made S-200 (SA-5) surface-to-air missiles. Syria launched them when Israel's warplanes were in Israeli airspace. According to one report, it's possible that the missile attack on the convoy was launched from the warplanes while they were still in Israeli airspace. Syria claims to have downed one Israeli plane, but Israel says that none of its planes was hit. However, at least one of the missiles was headed for Israeli territory.

The third unprecedented thing is that Israel launched an Arrow-3 anti-missile missile to intercept the incoming missile before it reached Israeli territory. This is the first time that the Arrow system has made an operational appearance.

Israel would have liked to keep its use of the Arrow system secret, but when it intercepted the incoming Syrian missile, it made a deafening bang that could be heard for more than 150 km. The Syrian missile was intercepted over the Jordan Valley in the West Bank, and parts of the missile landed in Jordan, doing little or no damage.

This unprecedented clash between Israel and Syria may indicate that the rules have changed. Israel has attacked weapons convoys in the past, but only when there were major weapons systems being delivered to Hezbollah, as was apparently the case this time. Weapons convoys with smaller weapons have not been attacked.

But while the al-Assad regime has threatened in the past to retaliate, it never has actually done so. After another Israeli airstrike in January, that al-Assad regime said that it would no longer tolerate any such incursions on Syrian airspace. This this is the first time the threat has been put into action. This may signal that al-Assad, secure in support from Russia and Iran, may now try to shift the war to Israel. Haaretz (Israel) and CNN and Debka and SANA (Damascus)

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Russia summons Israeli envoy to demand an explanation

On Friday, Russia summoned Israel's ambassador to Moscow Gary Koren and demanded an explanation for the attack. According to a statement by Russia's Foreign Ministry, "recent developments in Syria" were discussed.

Israel's attacks on weapons convoys in the past could only have taken place with Russia's approval, though obviously not with the approval of the al-Assad regime, Hezbollah or Iran. Russia considers itself to be an ally of both Syria and Israel, and does not wish to allow a war to develop between them, so therefore tolerates the Israeli attacks on weapons convoys going to Hezbollah.

In this case, Russia may have been concerned because the airstrikes occurred near the T-4 airbase that houses Russian weapons, warplanes and helicopters, and is a landing field for Iranian supply planes. What's not clear at this time is whether Russia wants to change the rules of the game and limit Israel's attacks on such convoys.

However, after Koren met with Russian officials, a defiant Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel would not change its policy:

"When we identify attempts to transfer advanced arms to Hezbollah, and we have intelligence information and we have the operational plan, we act to prevent it. That's how it was yesterday and that's how we shall continue to act.

We are fully determined and the evidence of that it that we are acting. Everybody must take that into account — everybody."

By "everybody," we can assume that he's referring to Russia, as well as to Syria, Hezbollah and Iran. 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. France 24 and Western Journalism and AFP

Jordan has to live with increasing threats from Syria and Israel

A strategic analyst in Jordan said on Saturday that Jordan will have to live with security threats, as long as the war in Syria continues. He was responding to the situation where shrapnel from the Syria-Israel missile exchange landed in Jordan.

According to Rt. Major General Fayez Dweiri

"This is a violation of Jordan’s airspace from both the Israeli and the Syrian sides. Jordan does not possess the military capability to prevent such attacks.

The Kingdom has to live with this situation. What it can do is to manage the situation, to neutralize any threats as much as it can under the circumstances."

Jordan Times

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Mar-17 World View -- Israel and Syria have unprecedented missile clash over Jordan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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18-Mar-17 World View -- Taiwan says it must defend against increasingly threatening China

China begins construction on Philippines' Scarborough Shoal

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Taiwan says it must defend against increasingly threatening China


 Taiwanese soldiers stand next to home-made Tien Chien surface-to-air missiles during an annual drill in Tainan, January 17, 2017. (AFP)
Taiwanese soldiers stand next to home-made Tien Chien surface-to-air missiles during an annual drill in Tainan, January 17, 2017. (AFP)

A major Taiwan government defense report, the "2017 Quadrennial Defense Review" (QDR), says that China's accelerated military development and recent activity by its military aircraft and ships around Taiwan pose an increased threat to the self-ruled island. This is the third QDR published by Taiwan, with the first two published in 2009 and 2013, respectively.

According to the 2017 QDR:

"The recent activity of Chinese jets and ships around Taiwan shows the continued rise in [China’s] military threat capabilities. In addition to posing a military threat to our country, it also has a negative impact on regional stability. ...

The country’s military development and Taiwan’s freedom and prosperity are the same living body. ...

With the rapid growth of China’s defense budget, the People’s Liberation Army has made considerable progress to modernize and reform its military. It has the ability to blockade Taiwan, launch combined operations, and seize and hold Taiwan’s outlying islands. ...

[If China invades, Taiwan will] resist enemy troops at their home bases, strike them at sea, destroy them as they approach Taiwan’s coastlines and annihilate them on the beaches."

Taiwan plans to acquire stealth jet fighters as a deterrent. However, the report acknowledges that Taiwan cannot compete with China's army, in view of its explosive growth in power and equipment, and so Taiwan must look for asymmetric ways to provide a defense, using a "multi-deterrence" strategy that presents the enemy with multiple dilemmas. According to the report, Taiwan will boost its cyberwarfare capabilities, ensure the security of its command-control and information infrastructure, and strengthen joint counterattack readiness. Reuters and Taipei Times and Straits Times (Singapore) and Russia Today

China responds harshly to Taiwan's defense report

China's premier Li Keqiang said that China was resolutely opposed to Taiwan's independence:

"No matter how the situation on the island may evolve, the fraternal bond between the two sides cannot be severed and will not be able to change history or the fact that both sides belong to one and the same China."

A highly nationalistic editorial appeared in China's state-run Global Times explaining that Taiwan's QDR has no military value, because China's military is so strong that even with support of the United States, Taiwan's military have no will to fight:

"The "multi-deterrence" strategy aims to force the enemy into multi-dilemmas. As ambitious as it is, it has almost no actual military value.

With the development of military strength on the Chinese mainland, the will of Taiwan's military to confront their mainland counterparts has almost collapsed. No soldiers believe Taiwan forces are capable to defend the island if the People's Liberation Army (PLA) launches a comprehensive offensive against Taiwan.

The new QDR claims that the PLA is capable of seizing Taiwan's offshore islands. But isn't it an easy thing for the PLA to seize the whole island of Taiwan?

The Taiwan military cannot match the present-day PLA. The mainland's military budget is more than 10 times that of Taiwan, and the PLA has superior strategic tools and systemic combat capabilities that their Taiwan counterparts don't have. ...

Taiwan has taken deterring the mainland as a key strategy, and constantly changed its deterrence tactics. But there is no need for the island to deter the mainland, as the mainland cherishes peace and won't resort to force unless it's absolutely necessary. If Taiwan is controlled by radial pro-independence forces, Taiwan's military, even with the help of the main US military forces, will not be able to deter the mainland.

Therefore, the most important thing for Taiwan is not to provoke the one-China policy. This is the correct political way to protect the island's security."

The last paragraph refers to China's "anti-secession law," which China passed in 2005. The law says that China will invade Taiwan even if there's no more than talk of independence. Last year's election of Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen, of the Democratic Progressive Party that has historically favored independence, and then last year's phone call between Tsai and candidate Donald Trump have enormously increased tensions. Arguably, the necessary conditions to trigger the anti-secession law have already occurred.

Nonetheless, the above editorial is typical of the really stupid things that people say during a generational Crisis era. China has been illegally annexing other countries' territories in the South China Sea, the kind of thing that Adolf Hitler did, and nobody is confronting China. In 1988, China easily won a naval war with Vietnam in the Spratly Islands. The Chinese people no longer have any memory of being defeated by an enemy, as they were by the Japanese in World War II until America saved them. So with decades of mostly military success, with a belief that other countries do not have the will to fight, and with an explosively growing military capability, many in China believe that China's military can do anything it wants with impunity. This is the kind of mistake that leads to generational crisis wars, and it's a historic mistake by the Chinese that will lead to disaster for China and disaster for everyone else as well. Global Times

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Taiwan's government responds to China's threats

Taiwan's government responded to China's threats, but the response was just as delusional. Taiwan's Lt. Gen. Chiang Chen-chung noted that the Chinese army base closest to Taiwan under China's Eastern Theater Command is only 250 kilometers away from the coastline of Taiwan, with the most distant 1,380 km away from Taiwan. Chiang said that Taiwan's military had the ability to strike China's army bases with missiles. The implication was that China wouldn't attack Taiwan, because that would risk having their bases attacked.

Taiwan's former deputy defense minister Lin Chong-pin said that it was pointless to try to compete with China's military, and so the military should focus on urban guerilla warfare and adopt a "war of paralysis" against the Chinese military. "It will be too expensive, too messy, and any bloodshed would do great damage to China's claim of peaceful reunification... that would be a very effective deterrent."

So we have two delusional populations headed for war with each other. That's how history's greatest catastrophes begin. China Post (Taiwan) and Taipei Times and Straits Times (Singapore)

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China begins construction on Philippines' Scarborough Shoal

A Chinese Communist Party official is being quoted by Chinese media as saying that China will begin building permanent structures in the Scarborough Shoal and other South China Sea islands, and that this work will be one of the government's top priorities in 2017.

Last year, the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration handed China a humiliating defeat by declaring its activities in the South China Sea to be illegal. Nonetheless, China has continued annexing other countries' regions and building illegal artificial islands and military bases.

Last year, President Barack Obama warned China's President Xi Jinping last year against building an artificial island at Scarborough Shoal. A Chinese military base on Scarborough Shoal would put Chinese fighter jets and missiles within easy striking distance of US forces that are stationed in the Philippines, as well as the Philippines' own forces. The shoal also commands the northeast exit of the sea, so a Chinese military outpost there could stop other countries' navies from traveling through the South China Sea.

Well, to nobody's real surprise, China is now preparing to build an "environment monitoring station" on Scarborough Shoal. And nobody really believes that its purpose is just to monitor the environment.

During his Senate confirmation hearing for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson said that China's access to its artificial islands should not be allowed.

So now, as China continues to militarize the South China Sea in preparation for war, we'll have to see whether the United States follows through on its promise to block China's access to Scarborough Shoal and its artificial islands, which will lead to a world war, or whether the United States will just stand by and let China continue to militarize the South China Sea with impunity, which will also lead to a world war. That's a variation of what's known as "Hobson's Choice." AP

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Mar-17 World View -- Taiwan says it must defend against increasingly threatening China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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17-Mar-17 World View -- Russia denies reports of Russian special forces in eastern Libya

Russian intervention comes as fighting between Libya's militias increases

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia denies reports of Russian special forces in eastern Libya


Khalifah Haftar (dpa)
Khalifah Haftar (dpa)

According to a news report from Reuters, both American and Egyptian sources are saying on background that a 22-member Russian special forces unit and drones have been deployed to the Sidi Barrani airbase in Egypt, about 60 miles from the border with Libya. The Egyptian sources added that Russian military aircraft in February had flown about six military units to an Egyptian seaport base in Marsa Matrouh before the aircraft continued to Libya about 10 days later.

Both Russia and Egypt are known to support Khalifa Haftar (or Hifter), a "renegade" leader who controls much of eastern Libya. Hafter visited the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov when it was leaving the Syrian coast for Russia. An earlier report confirmed that a force of several dozen armed private security contractors from Russia had operated in Libya in support of Haftar. Analysts are suggesting that Russia wants to infiltrate Libya in the same way that Russia infiltrated Ukraine and Syria.

A Russian state media report claims that Egypt's Defense Ministry has denied reports that Russian troops are in Libya. The report quotes Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov as saying:

"There are no Russian special forces in Sidi Barrani. Certain Western media have been stirring the public with such mud-slinging from anonymous sources for years."

So what's the truth here? What we have a history of what happened in Ukraine and Syria, where almost every statement that came from the Russia and Russia's president Vladimir Putin seemed to be a lie.

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 also lied after shooting down a passenger plane over Ukraine.

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 was actually doing in Ukraine and Syria.

So now we may be seeing the same thing happen all over again. Perhaps, as Jean-Claude Jüncker famously said, "When it's serious, you have to lie," but like Aesop's fable about the boy who cried "wolf," Russia has lied so many times that they won't be believed even if, by chance, they happen to be telling the truth. Reuters and Deutsche Welle and Reuters and Sputnik News (Moscow) and Aesop: The Boy Who Cried Wolf

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Russian intervention comes as fighting between Libya's militias increases

Libya's government under Muammar Gaddafi was relatively stable until the "Arab Spring" of January 2011, which was triggered by the death of a Tunisian food vendor, resulting in violent protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and then in Libya. By February, the bloodbath in Libya had spread from Benghazi and Tobruk in the east to Tripoli in the west. Muammar Gaddafi declared war on the protesters. He threatened to shoot to kill protesters, and said he would crush any enemy. By April, hundreds of thousands of refugees from Libya were pouring into neighboring countries, and thousands were crossing the Mediterranean to reach Italy. The Arab League asked the West to intervene, as Gaddafi was threatening a bloody massacre in several cities, especially Benghazi. The West did finally intervene, and ousted Gaddafi, leaving the country at the mercy of warlords and al-Qaeda.

Today there are several governments in Libya:

Fighting and violence have been increasing in both the east and the west. Thousands of armed men from all sides have been converging on Libya's main oil shipping terminals. Some of the bloodiest fighting in three years is going on now, mainly to gain control of oil fields. The fighting may cause global oil prices to rise.

Officials in America and Europe suspect that Russia is planning to take advantage of the chaos in Libya and take control of the country by acting as it did in Ukraine and Syria.

Marine Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, head of U.S. Africa Command, testified to Congress last week: "Russia is trying to exert influence on the ultimate decision of who becomes, and what entity becomes, in charge of the government inside Libya." Italian politicians say Russia’s mounting interest in Libya appears be part of a larger bid to rekindle Soviet-era influence in the Middle East and North Africa.

Pavel Felgenhauer, a Moscow-based military analyst, said:

"Russia's relationship with Haftar is the result of a very simple equation. Russia backs Egypt, Haftar's main supporter. General Haftar has declared war on terrorism and this coincides with Russia's main objective in the region: wiping out the terrorist threat posed by the Islamic State. ...

Russia is not sending its troops to help Haftar and is unlikely to do so in the near future. We are rather relying on private military contractors and mercenaries. We are already using contractors in Syria, where they are suffering serious losses, because they are doing the real fighting instead of Russian servicemen. Private contractors are very convenient because they have no political strings attached.

Contractors are cheaper [than servicemen] and we need to use our financial resources as best as we can. With the conflict in Donbass simmering, Crimea, the war in Syria still under way, Russia doesn't have the appetite or the resources to go into Libya," Felgenhauer said. "Russia is keen on establishing a foothold in Libya and have some influence there, but committing resources is a different matter."

Felgenhauer didn't deny reports that Russia is negotiating with Egypt to build a Russian military base in Egypt on the border with Libya, in return for providing economic aid to Egypt. Egypt Independent and Military Times and VOA and Al Jazeera and Hurriyet (Ankara)

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E-mail problems

My web site's e-mail server was down for much of the last two days. Any e-mail messages sent to me should be re-sent. Sorry for the inconvenience.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Mar-17 World View -- Russia denies reports of Russian special forces in eastern Libya thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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16-Mar-17 World View -- Terrorist bombings in Damascus, airstrikes in Idlib, break Syria's ceasefire

Syria's Bashar al-Assad says that the Americans are invaders

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Terrorist bombings in Damascus, airstrikes in Idlib, break Syria's ceasefire


Aftermath of terrorist bombing in Damascus (CNN)
Aftermath of terrorist bombing in Damascus (CNN)

Wednesday was another day of a great deal of bloody violence across Syria, at a time when there's supposed to be a ceasefire in effect and peace talks in process.

A suicide bomber blew himself up at old Justice Palace building, Syria's central court, in the heart of Damascus. The terrorist, who was dressed in a military uniform and was carrying a gun and a grenade, was stopped by the guards at the external door of the old Justice Palace building. After he handed over his gun and grenade to the guards as he was told to do, he ran quickly towards the door of the lobby of the Justice Palace, where there was a large were a large group of people, and blew himself up. At least 32 people were killed and 100 wounded.

An hour later, another suicide bomber struck at a restaurant at the outskirts of Damascus, killing a large number of civilians, mostly women and children.

On Saturday, 74 people were killed and 120 more were injured. The casualties were mostly Shia pilgrims visiting one of Shia Islam's holiest sites, the Bab al-Saghir cemetery. Two weeks earlier, a complex, well-planned terror attack in Homs on one of Syria's most highly secure military installations killed 32 people. An indigenous Sunni jihadist group, Levant Liberation Committee (LLC), formerly the al-Qaeda linked al-Nusra, took credit for Saturday's attack and the attack in Homs.

Nobody has taken credit for the latest terror attacks in Damascus on Wednesday. LLC issued a statement denying responsibility for Wednesday's attacks, saying that its targets are restricted to security and military installations, but that's obviously a lie since Saturday's attack was on innocent Shia pilgrims visiting a cemetary.

A delusional Syrian official said that "the terrorist bombings reflect the state of collapse within the ranks of the terrorist organizations as a result of the resilience of the Syrian people and the victories of the Syrian Arab Army and its allies." He added that Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey are to blame for the terror attacks.

According to Democratic Senator Tim Kaine on Wednesday:

"The Syrian civil war -- one of the world's worst humanitarian crises since World War II -- continues to be the most dangerous and destabilizing conflict in the Middle East today.

Six years in, Assad has created a safe haven for ISIS and Al-Qaeda, while he commits unspeakable acts of violence against his own people."

In other ceasefire activity, 21 people were killed in Idlib by Syrian and/or Russian warplanes.

SANA (Damascus) and SFGate and AFP

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Russian troops join Americans, Kurds, Sunni rebels in Manbij, Syria

As we've been reporting, American troops have been deployed to the Syrian city of Manbij to keep the Sunni rebels loyal to Turkey and the Kurdish militias, both allies of the United States, from killing each other.

Now Russian troops are also in Manbij, and according to a US official on Wednesday, the American and Russian troops can clearly see each other. According to a military spokesman:

"They can observe each other's movements. They can see each other. They are not talking to each other, and they are not hanging out together."

A plan to deploy an additional 1,000 ground troops to northern Syria is awaiting approval by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and President Trump. The additional troops will be used for the operation in Raqqa, considered to be the capital city of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). AFP and Military Times and Washington Post

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Syria's Bashar al-Assad says that the Americans are invaders

In an interview with Hong Kong based Phoenix TV, Syria's president Bashar al-Assad said that the American troops are invaders:

Question 8: Now, US troops are in Manbij. Is the greenlight from your side? Did you open the door for these American troops?

President Assad: No, no, we didn’t. Any foreign troops coming to Syria without our invitation or consultation or permission, they are invaders, whether they are American, Turkish, or any other one. And we don’t think this is going to help. What are they going to do? To fight ISIS? The Americans lost nearly every war. They lost in Iraq, they had to withdraw at the end. Even in Somalia, let alone Vietnam in the past and Afghanistan, your neighboring country. They didn’t succeed anywhere they sent troops, they only create a mess; they are very good in creating problems and destroying, but they are very bad in finding solutions."

In the same interview, al-Assad was also asked how long the war would last, and he gave a totally delusional answer:

Question 14: "How many days do you think this war is going to last?"

President Assad: "If we presume that you don’t have foreign intervention, it will take a few months. It’s not very complicated internally. The complexity of this war is the foreign intervention. This is the problem. So, in the face of that intervention, the good thing that we gained during the war is the unity of the society. At the very beginning, the vision for many Syrians wasn’t very clear about what’s happening. Many believed the propaganda of the West about the reality, about the real story, that this is against the oppression. If it’s against the oppression, why the people in Saudi Arabia didn’t revolt, for example? So, now what we gained is this, this is our strongest foundation to end that war. We always have hope that this year is going to be the last year. But at the end, this is war and you can’t expect what is going to happen precisely."

So it's good to remember how we got here. The civil war in Syria was caused by al-Assad when he unleashed his army and air force against peaceful protesters in 2011. Up to that point, Turkey and Saudi Arabia were friendly with al-Assad. 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.

Al-Assad's unprovoked attack on this refugee camp, and the slaughter of thousands of Palestinian women and children, drew young jihadists from around the world to Syria to fight al-Assad, resulting in the formation of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). Sunnis in Syria itself turned against al-Assad, forming either "moderate" rebel militias or joining the jihadist Al-Nusra Front, which is now the Levant Liberation Committee (LLC). Al-Assad is responsible for displacing millions of Syrians, including over a million that have flowed into Europe as refugees.

There is zero probability that the Syrian civil war will end as long as al-Assad is in power. 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. SANA (Damascus)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Mar-17 World View -- Terrorist bombings in Damascus, airstrikes in Idlib, break Syria's ceasefire thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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15-Mar-17 World View -- Bahrain postpones trial of Shia cleric after threats from Iran

Iran - Saudi Arabia relations continue to deteriorate

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Bahrain postpones trial of Shia cleric after threats from Iran


Manama's Pearl Square after March 15, 2011, Arab Spring protests.  The beautiful Pearl monument was torn down by the regime on March 18, because it was thought to be encouraging protests.
Manama's Pearl Square after March 15, 2011, Arab Spring protests. The beautiful Pearl monument was torn down by the regime on March 18, because it was thought to be encouraging protests.

A ruling in the trial of Bahrain's leading Shia cleric, Sheikh Isa Ahmed Qasim, on charges of corruption and money laundering, was postponed on Tuesday to May 7. No reason was given for the postponement, but it was announced after an Iranian cleric said that the arrest of Qasim would be followed by a "bloodbath" in Bahrain. Qasim was also charged with promoting "sectarianism and violence" and "helping terrorism." On Sunday, a senior adviser to Iran's parliament said:

"Holding trial for Ayatollah Sheikh Qassim is an unwise act and the Bahraini government should know that it will never be able to bear the consequences of such an unwise measure.

"The Bahraini government is facing a serious crisis much worse than the challenge that it faced when detaining Sheikh Ali Salman, as trying Ayatollah Issa Qasim will be the depth of the crisis."

In a speech on Monday in Iran, Sheikh Abdullah al-Daqqaq said:

"The Bahraini government felt threatened by the popular uprising under the leadership of Sheikh Qasim and has taken some measures against him.

Bahraini youths will not leave their leader (Qasim) alone. If Sheikh Isa Qasim is arrested a bloodbath will occur in Bahrain."

Al-Daqqaq called for nationwide strikes and civil disobedience.

Bahrain is led by an oppressive Sunni Muslim government closely allied with Saudi Arabia. Tensions are high because 2/3 of the the population are Shia Muslim, while only 1/3 are Sunni Muslim. In the days following the "Arab Spring" protests in 2011, Bahrain's security services overreacted with extremely violent and bloody massacres of unarmed protesters, backed up by troops from Saudi Arabia. The Saudi troops arrived in Bahrain after crossing a long bridge connecting the two countries. The protests began in Bahrain on February 14, 2011. Dozens of protesters were killed, over 1,600 were arrested, and thousands were injured.

Writing about Iran and Bahrain is always interesting, because both countries are equally bloody, jailing, massacring and torturing peaceful protesters. Reuters and Ahlul Bayt News Agency (Tehran) and Tasnim News (Tehran)

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Iran - Saudi Arabia relations continue to deteriorate

The increasingly sectarian war in Syria between Shia/Alawites and Sunni Muslims continues to polarize the entire Mideast along the Shia-Sunni fault line. This has been particularly true in the relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, respectively the major Sunni Muslim country and the major Shia Muslim country.

Relations between the two countries became explosive early in 2016 when Saudi Arabia executed 47 alleged terrorists -- 46 Sunnis and one Shia, Mohammad Baqir Nimr al-Nimr. Iran and Shias were infuriated because the execution implied that Shia terrorism is equivalent to Sunni terrorism. Iranian mobs firebombed the Saudi embassy in Tehran, and attacked the consulate in Meshaad. Saudi Arabia and Iran broke diplomatic relations as a result. Other Saudi allies followed suit.

There are many bitter disagreements between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and one of the worst is the outcome of stampede that occurred at the annual Hajj pilgrimage near Mecca in 2015. All Muslims are required to take part in the Hajj at least one in their lifetimes, and so there are always millions of people taking part each year. In 2015, one of the roads became so crowded with people that there was a stampede that killed hundreds of people who were trampled to death, including 464 Iranians. Although Saudi officials blamed "inevitable fate and destiny" for the disaster, Iranian officials blamed the disaster on the incompetence of Saudi officials, and even criminal acts by them.

Iran banned Iranians from attending the Hajj in 2016, after months of talks between the two countries failed to lead to agreement over blame for the 2015 incident and security guarantees for the 2016 Hajj. The 2017 Hajj will occur in August. Iran and Saudi Arabia are in talks over the same issues as in 2016, and although "relative progress" has been claimed, it's quite possible that Iranians will be banned from this year's Hajj as well.

Another major issue separating Saudi Arabia and Iran is the war in Yemen, where Iran-backed Houthi rebels are fighting Saudi-backed Sunni militias, supported by Saudi airstrikes.

China has offered to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia, according to China's foreign minister Wang Yi:

"We hope that Saudi Arabia and Iran can resolve the problems that exist between them via equal and friendly consultations. China is friends with both Saudi Arabia and Iran. If there is a need China is willing to play our necessary role."

China is actively seeking friendship with all Mideast countries, since it needs to import vast amounts of oil. However, as regular readers are aware, Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, China will be allied with the Sunni Muslim nations, including Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, while the West will be allied with Iran, Russia and India. Al Monitor and Al Araby

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Mar-17 World View -- Bahrain postpones trial of Shia cleric after threats from Iran thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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14-Mar-17 World View -- Japan's largest warship will train with US Navy in the South China Sea

A sad picture

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Japan's largest warship will train with US Navy in the South China Sea


China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi at a recent meeting (AP)
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi at a recent meeting (AP)

In what some are describing as a "World War II show of force," Japan is planning to send its largest warship, the JS Izumo, to the South China Sea during the summer. It will train with the US Navy in the South China Sea, will make stops in Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka, and will join Indian and U.S. naval forces in the Indian Ocean for military exercises in July.

The JS Izumo is not a traditional aircraft carrier, but is called a "helicopter destroyer." It can carry up to fourteen helicopters, and specializes primarily in anti-submarine missions. The threat of an expanded Chinese submarine fleet was a key driver of Japan developing the Izumo.

The word "destroyer" usually refers to a warship equipped to serve in a defensive rather than an offensive role. This is necessary because Japan's post-war pacifist constitution forbids acquisition of offensive weapons, and forbids military action except in self-defense on Japanese soil. Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe has been campaigning for years to amend the constitution to permit offensive operations, but the proposal has been extremely controversial. Instead, Abe has succeeded in redefining "self-defense" to mean "collective self-defense," which allows Japanese to defend Japan's allies anywhere in the world. The "helicopter destroyer" designation is consistent with the warship's use for collective self-defense.

China has repeatedly objected to Japan operating warships in the South China Sea. Referring to World War II, China's foreign ministry spokesman said last year:

"Japan should reflect upon rather than forget what it has done during the aggression, act and speak cautiously on issues concerning the East China Sea and the South China Sea, and make more efforts to increase mutual trust with its neighbors and promote regional peace and stability instead of sowing discord."

In fact, naming the warship "Izumo" is highly symbolic, as it's the name of a Japanese World War II warship which was originally used in a decisive Japanese victory in the 1905 Battle of Tsushima in a war between Russia and Japan. US Naval Institute and Reuters

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A sad picture

There's so much sadness in the world, in all the subjects that I write about. I can usually get through it by pretending that it's all happening on another planet, but this picture in Syria really got to me:



What a sad picture. As one person pointed out, it looks like one of those dystopian movies from the 70s and 80s. Al-Jazeera

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Mar-17 World View -- Japan's largest warship will train with US Navy in the South China Sea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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13-Mar-17 World View -- Al-Nusra descendant claims credit for massive terror attack in Damascus, Syria

Al-Nusra becomes Levant Liberation Committee (LLC) and gains at expense of ISIS

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Al-Nusra descendant claims credit for massive terror attack in Damascus, Syria


Aftermath of double terror explosions in Damascus suburb (ARA News)
Aftermath of double terror explosions in Damascus suburb (ARA News)

Two explosions killed 74 people and injured 120 more in Damascus, the capital city of Syria, on Saturday. The second of the two explosions went off ten minutes after the first, killing many who came to help the wounded from the first explosion.

The attacks targeted Shia pilgrims from Iraq who were visiting one of Shia Islam's holiest sites, the Bab al-Saghir cemetery. The cemetery is near one of the seven gates of the old city of Damascus, and many prominent religious figures are buried there, including family members of the Prophet Muhammad.

On Sunday, a group with the previously unknown name Levant Liberation Committee (LLC), also known as Tahrir al-Sham, took credit for the attacks. LLC is the current incarnation of the former al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front). The group issued a statement saying that it was targeting Syria's Shia/Alawite president Bashar al-Assad and Iran-linked Shia targets in general:

"On Saturday... a twin attack was carried out by two heroes of Islam ... in the center of the capital Damascus, killing and wounding dozens. ...

Iran and its militias have, from the start of the revolution, supported the tyrannical and criminal regime and have been killing and displacing our people, This is a message to Iran and its militias that the right will not go wasted."

Last year, the delusional Bashar al-Assad issued a delusional statement saying that the destruction of Aleppo would be a victory that would be remembered throughout history, and that it would end the war, since the jihadists would no longer have any reason to continue fighting. In December, a ceasefire came into effect, brokered by Russia, Iran and Turkey, but it's never been a ceasefire in more than in name only.

Two weeks ago, the LLC carried out another major terrorist attack, this one in Homs. It was a very complex, well-planned attack on some of al-Assad's most highly secure military installations, killing 32 people and injuring dozens more. In particular, Major-General Hassan Daaboul, head of Syrian regime's Military Security Department, was killed during the attacks.

There has never been any credible reason to support al-Assad's delusional belief that a victory in Aleppo or any other city would bring about the end of Syria's civil war. These two terror attacks by a single group, two weeks ago in Homs and on Saturday in Damascus, obviously have the objectives of stoking sectarian Sunni vs Shia conflicts and of proving to al-Assad, Russia and Iran that the war is far from over.

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. The actions by this terror group bring that day much closer. ARA News (Damascus) and France 24 and Deutsche Welle

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Al-Nusra becomes Levant Liberation Committee (LLC) and gains at expense of ISIS

In January 2012, a shadowy al-Qaeda linked terrorist group called the "al-Nusra Battlefront" appeared in Syria and conducted a series of car and bomb attacks. In May of that year, it was behind the first major terror attack against the al-Assad regime, twin suicide car bombs outside a military intelligence building in Damascus, killing 55 people. Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, the successor to Osama bin Laden, issued a statement asking terrorists to support the group.

In 2012-3, a parallel development occurred, when thousands of young jihadists came to Syria to fight al-Assad, who was massacring, torturing and committing atrocities against thousands of Sunni Muslims in Syria, including many women and children. Al-Assad's attack on a Palestinian refugee camp near Latakia in August 2011 in particular energized young jihadists around the world. They came to Syria and formed the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

Thus, Syrian jihadists joined Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra front), while foreign jihadists joined ISIS. Since then, ISIS expanded into Iraq and had some major successes, but today is under attack and facing existential threats in Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa, Syria.

Al-Nusra, which is a jihadist group of mostly local Syrian fighters, appears to have taken a more methodical approach, without overstretching as ISIS did. Many anti-Assad fighters in Syria didn't want to join a foreign terror organization like al-Qaeda, since they felt that their fight was against al-Assad, but not targets in Asia or Europe or other countries. So in July of last year, al-Nusra split with al-Qaeda, and changed its name to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS, Front for the Conquest of Syria). Many people have doubted the sincerity of that split, but it did have the purpose of making the group more welcoming to Syrians who wanted to fight al-Assad, but didn't want to join al-Qaeda.

In January, JFS announced another organizational change and another name change. It would become Hayat Tahrir al-Sham -- Liberation of the Levant Organization, or the Levant Liberation Committee (LLC). Furthermore, LLC would be a merger with four smaller local groups -- the Nour al-Din Zinki Movement, one of the most important opposition factions in Aleppo province, Ansar al-Din Front, the Homs-based Jaysh al-Sunnah, and Liwa al-Haqq, which operates in Idlib, Aleppo and Hama provinces. Under the new name, LLC has conducted two spectacular terrorist acts in the last two weeks, the one in Homs two weeks ago, and the one in Damascus on Saturday.

This seems to point to a trend that we already suggested in our article two days ago on Syria and Afghanistan. ISIS is claiming to be an international organization, and it supports that claim by taking credit for any terrorist attack anywhere, whether it was part of it or not. In addition, some local jihadist groups are pledging allegiance to ISIS, giving it the appearance of being larger than it is.

Although ISIS was successful in drawing thousands of jihadists to Syria, it really doesn't make sense for someone to want to spend his life fighting someone else's war in someone else's country. So while ISIS is claiming to be an international organization, what we're seeing is that it's really a collection of local jihadist groups in different countries, with no real connection to one another beyond public relations.

In Syria, the al-Assad regime rarely attacked ISIS, and considered them his ally, because they were fighting against al-Nusra and other Sunni groups, which were al-Assad's real targets. However, now we see that this has not ended well for either al-Assad or ISIS. ISIS is under attack from local Kurdish and Arab militias in Mosul and Raqqa, and al-Assad is under attack from local LLC militias in Damascus and Homs.

One can enjoy a certain amount of Schadenfreude that when a psychopathic war criminal like al-Assad decided to ally himself with a horrific terror group like ISIS, it's ending badly for both of them. Making a deal with the devil really doesn't seem to pay off, even for another devil. Unfortunately, as Generational Dynamics predicts, when these two devils become allies it also means that the rest of us will suffer, as the Mideast heads into a major sectarian war that will engulf the region and the world. BBC (28-Feb) and BBC (4-Jan-2016)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Mar-17 World View -- Al-Nusra descendant claims credit for massive terror attack in Damascus, Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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12-Mar-17 World View -- Netherlands provokes growing crisis with Turkey by blocking ministers' entry

The escalating crisis once again throws EU-Turkey migrant deal into doubt

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Netherlands provokes growing crisis with Turkey by blocking ministers' entry


Demonstrators outside the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam on Saturday evening (Reuters)
Demonstrators outside the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam on Saturday evening (Reuters)

Dutch riot police on horseback used batons and water cannon to disperse hundreds of pro-Turkey demonstrators at the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on Saturday evening, after two ministers in Turkey's government were blocked from entering the Netherlands.

The clashes between protesters and police are part of an escalating crisis in relations between Turkey and the European Union, that has been growing for the three weeks.

On Saturday, the Netherlands refused to permit Turkey's foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to land in the country, and forced his plane to turn back to Istanbul. Cavusoglu was planning to address a rally in Rotterdam of the Turkish citizens living in the Netherlands to campaign for approval of a referendum vote that will take place in Turkey on April 16. The Netherlands action comes just days before an election in that country is expected to show significant gains for the anti-Islam leader of the Freedom Party, Geert Wilders, who campaigned against the Turkish minister's visit.

Returning to Istanbul airport, Cavusoglu said:

"So they cancelled it due to security concerns, what, so is the minister a terrorist? We will give them the response they deserve. ...

We have received many supportive messages from the Netherlands, saying they don't agree with their government's racist, fascist policies."

Upon hearing that Cavusoglu had been forced to turn back, Turkey's Minister of Family and Social Policies Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya, who had been at a meeting in Germany, drove overland to Rotterdam to speak to demonstrators. She was stopped by Dutch police and forced to return back across the border to Germany. Through her twitter account, Kaya condemned Dutch authorities in "the name of all our citizens," and said, "The whole world must take action against this fascist practice! Such a treatment against a woman minister cannot be accepted."

The action against Kaya triggered violence on the part of the hundreds of protesters at the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam, throwing bottles and mobbing police vehicles. AP

Turkey's crisis with Germany, Austria, Netherlands has been escalating

Tensions between Turkey and the European Union have been growing for some time, but they began to reach a crisis point last weekend when two German cities, Cologne and Gaggenau, canceled March 5 rallies that Turkish citizens had planned in support of Turkey's government and the April 16 referendum. This was after Austria's government had previously said that Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan would not be permitted hold rallies in Austria. There are some 400,000 Turks living in the Netherlands, and 300,000 living in Austria, many with the right to vote in Turkey's elections.

Turkey's politicians are already furious because EU politicians are always lecturing them about human rights. This has been particularly true since the failed coup attempt that occurred on July 15 of last year, after which Turkey's government has fired or arrested over 100,000 people suspected of involvement in the coup with virtually no evidence. This has included the arrest of a number of journalists, including the February 27 arrest of Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yücel, who writes for the German newspaper Die Welt.

So, from Turkey's point of view, the EU is always lecturing Turkey about journalistic freedom, freedom of speech and human rights, and now EU politicians were blocking perfectly legal rallies begin held in Germany.

A furious Erdogan lashed out:

"I thought that Nazism was over in Germany, but it turns out that it is still going on. It is still going on, it is clear.

My brothers; now they think that Tayyip Erdogan will come to Germany. I will come tomorrow if I want to. I will come and when they won't let me enter or don't let me talk, I will set the whole world in an uproar."

On Monday, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel commented on Erdogan's utterances:

"One cannot even comment on such utterances, they are not justifiable. Comparisons with Nazis always just lead to one thing -- to belittle those crimes."

Merkel tried to calm things down with Erdogan this week, but the crisis sharply escalated again on Saturday when the Netherlands blocked Turkey's foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from attending a rally by Turkish citizens in Rotterdam.

After Cavusoglu was denied entry, Erdogan said:

"They don't know anything about politics or international diplomacy. They are very nervous, and they are cowards. They are Nazi remnants. They are Fascists."

Netherland's prime minister Mark Rutte called Erdogan's words a "crazy remark," and said, "I understand they are angry but this is of course way out of line." BBC (27-Feb) and Hurriyet (Istanbul, 28-Feb) and CNN (6-Mar) and BBC

The escalating crisis once again throws EU-Turkey migrant deal into doubt

On Saturday, Turkey's foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, said on Saturday that all deals with the European Union, including the EU-Turkey migrant deal, would be jeopardized if the EU failed to implement its commitment to visa-free travel for Turks in Europe's Schengen Zone. As part of the original agreement, the visa liberalization commitment was scheduled to be implemented in June of last year, but the EU has continued to postpone it.

Cavusoglu said that Turkey would present a final text to the EU "and either it will all be canceled, including the visa liberalization and migrant deal, or it will all be implemented."

Turkish officials have made this threat before, but the events of the last week have so infuriated both sides that the threat is now more likely to be carried out than before.

There's a completely separate threat to the EU-Turkey migrant deal, and this one is coming from Greece.

Greece's highest administrative court, the Greek Council of State, will rule later this month on whether Turkey meets the criteria to be a "safe country" for refugees -- whether refugees can live safely in Turkey. If the court rules that Turkey is not a "safe country," it would have far-reaching consequences. It would make it illegal for the EU to send rejected asylum-seekers back to Turkey. Furthermore, it would open the door to allowing the three million Syrian refugees already living in Turkey to come to Europe.

As regular readers know, Generational Dynamics predicts that in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, China will be allied with Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries, including Turkey, while the West will be allied with India, Russia and Iran. A recurring discussion is over the question of how the European countries will align themselves: will they ally as a unit, or will they split and fight among themselves, as they have in every other war in history? The continuing crisis with Turkey may provide some clarification. Reuters and Eur Activ and Middle East Eye

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Mar-17 World View -- Netherlands provokes growing crisis with Turkey by blocking ministers' entry thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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11-Mar-17 World View -- US military commitments grow in Afghanistan and Syria

Report: Trump administration shuts out Russia and Turkey in Syria

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

ISIS claims responsibility for hospital attack in Kabul, Afghanistan


Afghan Taliban (AP)
Afghan Taliban (AP)

Militants dressed as doctors on Wednesday stormed the largest military hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan. The militants were armed with guns and grenades, and gained entry after one detonated explosives at a hospital gate and then opened fire on staff and patients.

The attack began at 9 am. One hospital staff member who was able to get out saw an attacker "wearing a white coat holding a Kalashnikov and opening fire on everyone, including the guards, patients and doctors." More than 30 people were killed, and dozens more were wounded.

The Afghan Taliban have conducted similar terror attacks in the past, but they've denied responsibility for Wednesday's attack. The so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) did claim responsibility, once again raising the question of what it means for Syria-based ISIS to be taking responsibility for a terror attack in Kabul.

In Syria, ISIS was formed mainly by thousands of young men coming from over 80 countries around the world, wanting to fight Syria's president Bashar al-Assad after he began massacring and committing atrocities against innocent Sunni women and children. These included young jihadists from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Now that ISIS has become a brand name (like al-Qaeda), it's using the same model to form ISIS branches in other countries, including Afghanistan. According to Afghanistan's national security adviser Hanif Atmar said:

"First of all, the violent extremist organizations that we are confronted by are not just Taliban. There are four groups — first, Taliban and Haqqanis; second Pakistani groups including LeT, JeM, LeJ, TTP and others; third are regional groups like ETIM [East Turkestan Islamic Movement (mainly Uighurs)] and IMU [Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan], and fourth are international terrorists like Daesh [ISIS] and Al Qaeda.

These four groups have a symbiotic relationship with the Afghan terrorists. They need the Afghans, the Afghans need them. Second, they have symbiotic relationships with the two other relationships I described earlier, the criminal economy and state sponsorship. ...

Our response cannot be peace and reconciliation. We can make peace and reconciliation with the Afghan groups based on certain principles, but cannot reconcile with the other three groups. They are not fighting there for anything related to Afghanistan. They want to have a sanctuary there to fight others. LeT would like a sanctuary to fight India, ETIM to fight China, and so on. We told our Pakistani interlocutors that Taliban will allow sanctuary to the TTP, your enemy. Therefore, blind support to the Taliban will be creating a frankenstein again."

Of particular importance is that the Afghan Taliban and the Pakistan Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban or TTP) are distinct groups, though they're both from the Pashtun ethnic group, and they provide havens for each. As I've described in the past, their behaviors are significantly different, because they're in different generational eras. Pakistan's last generational crisis war was the 1947 Partition war that created Pakistan and India, and so the Pakistan Taliban are in a generational Crisis era. Afghanistan's last generational crisis war was the 1992-96 civil war between Afghan ethnic groups, and so the Afghan Taliban are in a generational Awakening era. That's the reason why Atmar can say that "We can make peace and reconciliation with the Afghan groups based on certain principles, but cannot reconcile with the other three groups."

One fascinating sign of this that I wrote about in 2008 was a study by the Jamestown Foundation that showed that Afghan Taliban suicide bombers almost never kill anyone but themselves. That study appears as part of a lengthy article that I wrote at the time on the Sunni-Shia conflict. It's a fascinating example of how a societies beliefs and behaviors can differ radically and predictably, depending on what generational era they're in. Tolo News (Afghanistan) and CNN and Times of India

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CENTCOM commander: Afghanistan 'stalemate' requires 'thousands' more US troops

A month ago, General John W. Nicholson, command of the US forces in Afghanistan, testified to Congress that the war in Afghanistan was in a "stalemate," and that thousands more American troops would be required. After Wednesday's attack in Kabul, CENTCOM command Joseph Votel said that he agreed with those statements.

"I do believe it will involve additional forces to ensure that we can make the advise-and-assist mission more effective."

Afghanistan’s ambassador to the U.S., Hamdullah Mohib, said his country would welcome additional troops. He said that he's encouraged by what he's seen so far from the Trump administration:

"They’re not hesitant. There is no hesitancy that I noticed with the previous administration on the war on terrorism and their engagement in that aspect.

We welcome that because what we need now more than anything is an attitude of winning, an attitude of ending this conflict once and for all. And we have had a lot of positive hints from the administration in that regard."

On Thursday, the White House said that the administration is reviewing its Afghanistan policy, including whether to send more U.S. troops. Military Times and ABC News and Defense One (2-Feb) and Senate Armed Services Committee hearings (2-Feb)

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Report: Trump administration shuts out Russia and Turkey in Syria

In yesterday's article, I wrote that the deployment of hundreds of additional American troops into the Syrian battles at Manbij and Raqqa continues the policy from the previous administration of minimal involvement, only supporting local forces with airstrikes and artillery. Thus, Russia, Iran and Turkey would continue to take the lead.

However, according to Debka, the administration of president Donald Trump is being far more aggressive than that description suggests.

As long-time readers know, I like to reference Debka's subscriber-only newsletter (sent to me by a subscriber), which is written from Israel's point of view, because they have military and intelligence sources that provide valuable insights. However, as usual, I have to warn readers that they definitely do get some things wrong. The information that I'm presenting here from their newsletter is not confirmed by any other sources I've seen, but it's generally consistent with other reports.

"Elements of the 25th Rangers Regiment, spearhead of the forthcoming offensive to liberate Raqqa from the Islamic State, flew in from Fort Lewis air base, Washington, to the US air facility in Rmeilan, near the Syrian Kurdish town of Hasaka. They were equipped with light Stryker tanks. More tanks and heavy equipment reached the base overland from Iraqi Kurdistan.

Coming in from Iraq was the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, part of an artillery battery with M777 Howitzers for firing 155-mm shells. The Marine unit's ground force consists of the Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines for manning the guns and providing fire support for the local forces assigned to the assault on Raqqa. Additional infantrymen from this unit are available to provide security.

Gen. Dunford did not need to explain to the Russian and Turkish generals what had happened. It was obvious that President Donald Trump had jumped the gun on Moscow and Ankara. At one stroke, he had knocked over all ... question marks hanging over his administration's Middle East orientation:

  • The United States had decided to come down heavily on direct military intervention in the Syrian conflict. ...
  • America was ready to go to war on the Islamic State terrorists without the standard wrapping of a 'coalition' and only a competent local force. ...
  • The local force chosen for the Raqqa operation is the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Force, an alliance of 45,000 Syrian Kurdish fighters of the YPG militia, which has proven its prowess in combat against ISIS, and 10,000 members of the Arab Shammar tribe of northern Syria. ...
  • Neither Russia, nor Syria or Turkey received invitations for their armies to join the US Raqqa offensive. Therefore, Vladimir Putin, Bashar Assad and Tayyip Edrogan are cut out of any say in the American military operation. ...
  • The prominently posted images of US tanks flying the Stars and Stripes and the Pentagon spokesman's description of 'deliberate action,' posted a keep-out marker for the Russian and Turkish forces at the scene. ...
  • Gen. Dunford notified his Russian and Turkish colleagues that the American army's first mission in Syria was to capture the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, following which the troops would make for the Deir ez-Zour province and undertake the task of cleansing northern and eastern Syria of Islamist concentrations. ...
  • [Turkey's] President Erdogan [expressed] strong objections to the American plan and raise his voice in particular against the Kurdish-led SDF's integration in the Raqqa operation.
  • The Turks were not content with angry words. US Air Force jets preparing to take off from the southern Turkish Incirlik air base were slowed by official red tape over the necessary permits. The air crews picked up rumors that Erdogan was about to cancel permission for the US warplanes to use the base.

The Debka report is not confirmed by other sources, though it's consistent with other media reports. If it's true, then it marks a substantial change in Mideast policy by the Trump administration, in contrast to the Obama administration. In particular, for the first time, American forces are taking the lead in defining and implementing a clear objective - the defeat of ISIS in Raqqa. Whether this is a change in outcome or just a change in tone remains to be seen. USA Today and Debka

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Mar-17 World View -- US military commitments grow in Afghanistan and Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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10-Mar-17 World View -- As more American troops are deployed to Syria, the endgame is more uncertain

Hundreds of American troops deployed to Syria in support of local forces

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Hundreds of American troops deployed to Syria in support of local forces


Syrian civilians fleeing Manbij on Wednesday (AFP)
Syrian civilians fleeing Manbij on Wednesday (AFP)

The Pentagon is deploying about 400 Marines and Army Rangers to Syria to assist in the fight against the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

Soldiers from the 75th Army Ranger Regiment are deployed in the city of Manbij. Manbij is currently under the control of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, which is an ally of both the US and Russia, but whom Turkey's government considers to be terrorists aligned with Turkey's terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Turkey has vowed to attack Manbij and eject the Kurds. So the American troops are in Manbij to act as a buffer between the Turks and the Kurds, and to prevent them from fighting each other.

Both Russian and Syrian forces are also being deployed to Manbij. Although the US and Russia have held talks to coordinate their forces, it's not known what's in any agreements that were reached, or how the forces will interact with each other.

Forces from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit are being deployed to the city of Raqqa, which is considered to be the capital city of ISIS. According to the Pentagon, local forces will do the actual fighting, while the American troops will provide artillery support:

"A U.S. Marine Corps artillery unit deployed to provide the Coalition greater agility to enable and expedite our Syrian partnered forces defeat of ISIS in Raqqa. The strategy adopted by the Coalition remains the same – we will continue to work by, with and through partnered forces to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Our partners in Syria face an entrenched foe and like the Iraqis will require additional support to enable them to fight and defeat ISIS in Raqqa. The deployment of these additional key enabling capabilities allows the coalition to provide flexible all-weather fire support to our Syrian partners when they need it most."

These deployments are raising concerns that the US is becoming more deeply involved in the war in Syria. The Obama administration had a policy, in both Iraq and Syria, of minimal involvement, while supporting local forces with airstrikes and artillery. This new deployment continues that policy, but concerns are growing that the number of troops deployed will continue to increase.

Robert Ford, the Obama administration's last ambassador to Syria until 2014, says that these deployments are "fraught with risk." According to Ford, "That’s not a small policy change. It is a huge policy change. We have never in our Syrian policy ever put U.S. personnel in between warring Syrian factions or to maintain a local cease-fire."

The number of U.S. troops now authorized to be in Syria is capped at 503, though that amount does not include the 400 Marines and Army Rangers because they are on a temporary deployment.

Other reports indicate that the U.S. is preparing for a larger deployment of troops in Syria. Close to 1,000 troops will be sent to Kuwait in order to be available for quick deployment to Syria if necessary. Stars and Stripes and US Naval Institute and Washington Post and Press TV (Tehran)

As more US troops enter Syria, the endgame becomes fuzzier

We now have American, Russian, al-Assad regime, Free Syrian Army (FSA) Sunni insurgent, Turkish, Kurdish YPG, Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah soldiers all fighting in Syria. These forces are all united in their fight against their common enemy, ISIS, with absolutely no clarity whatsoever about what will happen if and when ISIS is defeated.

Furthermore, while the al-Assad regime still controls an area in western Syria along the Mediterranean coast, there are still large regions controlled by Sunni insurgents. Furthermore, the Kurdish YPG controls a large strip, almost 100 miles deep, along the entire northern border with Syria -- except for a small region still controlled by Turkish forces and FSA insurgents.

Of the above forces, the Turks and the YPG Kurds are bitter enemies. The al-Assad regime and the FSA Sunni insurgents are bitter enemies. The Turks and the al-Assad regime are bitter enemies. They're all getting along now, more or less, because the common enemy is ISIS.

The Kurds would like to control the entire northern border with Turkey, and form an independent state called Rojava. The Turks are bitterly opposed to this, and will not give up the small region they control along the border. Bashar al-Assad will never tolerate even peaceful opposition from the Sunni insurgents. The Sunni insurgents will never stop fighting as long as Bashar al-Assad is president. Iran will not tolerate anyone else as president. Russia couldn't care less who's president, as long as they're controlling Syria. Iran will not tolerate Russia controlling Syria.

Those are all "big picture" issues. Even the current "small picture" issues are unresolved. There are Kurdish, Russian, American and Turkish in or around Manbij, all with different agendas. Who will end up controlling the city?

And who's going to be fighting ISIS in Raqqa? The US considers the YPG Kurds to be the best and most reliable force fighting ISIS, but Kurdish control of Raqqa will be intolerable to both Turkey and the al-Assad regime.

There actually is a kind of precedent in the fight to recapture Mosul Iraq from ISIS. The Iraqi army is entering the city from the east and doing the fighting. The Kurds are blocking ISIS from fleeing to the north. The Iran-backed Shia militias are blocking ISIS from fleeing to the west or south. They seem to have coordinated the attack, at least for the time being.

So in Syria it's a little different. Apparently, the Russians and the Kurds are joining forces in Raqqa, backed by American artillery. The battle hasn't yet begun, so we won't know for a while whether this will work.

So we have two "small picture" issues and a dozen "big picture" issues. Up until the last couple of months, all of these forces were able to keep separate. The al-Assad regime was fighting in Aleppo, Turkey was fighting in northern Syria, Russia and the US-led coalition were coordinating airstrikes. But those simple solutions are no longer possible.

I read many media sources from many countries every day, and I have not read any article or analysis or white paper that convinces me that anyone has the vaguest clue what's going to happen in the endgame, if and when ISIS is defeated.

And this is why many people are concerned about the new deployment of American forces to Manbij and Raqqa. The concern is that once ISIS is defeated, all these forces will start fighting each other, and US troops will be drawn in and be part of a major new war.

As I've been writing for many years, 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. We may be seeing the start of that major regional war in Manbij and Raqqa. Gulf News and Hurriyet (Ankara) and Arab News and The National (UAE) and Guardian (London)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Mar-17 World View -- As more American troops are deployed to Syria, the endgame is more uncertain thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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9-Mar-17 World View -- Thousands flee from Myanmar into China to escape army clashes with ethnic militias

Myanmar faces an investigation for ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Thousands flee from Myanmar into China to escape army clashes with ethnic militias


United Wa State Army (UWSA) rebel soldiers marching (Irrawaddy)
United Wa State Army (UWSA) rebel soldiers marching (Irrawaddy)

Thousands of Chinese-speaking ethnic Kokang people living in the Kokang region of Myanmar, along the border with China, have fled in panic across the border into China, to escape clashes between Myanmar's military and Kokang’s Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA). The Kokang MNDAA is one of four ethnic militias in the Northern Alliance, fighting the army. China is demanding that the army bring the region under control, but that's unlikely to happen, since the army is one of the belligerents.

In October 2015, the government of Myanmar (Burma) concluded a peace agreement with its armed ethnic groups that had been under negotiation since 2011. According to the government rhetoric, the agreement was "bringing hope" that the entire country would soon be "at peace." However, of the 15 armed ethnic groups in Burma, only eight signed the agreement, while the others indicated that they wished to continue fighting Burma's army.

In November of last year, four of the non-signed formed the Northern Alliance, and and launched a series of violent attacks on military outposts and police stations across the northern part of the country. Tens of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes, many crossing the border into China.

China's army is on alert along the border with Myanmar, but it has not intervened so far. Instead, it's backing the United Wa State Army (UWSA), an organization with roots in the Communist Party of Burma, a militia with 20,000 members of the ethnic Wa community, and is supplying them with heavy weaponry.

This week, the UWSA took the lead in hosting a three-day meeting of seven armed ethnic militias, forming a political bloc to negotiate with the Myanmar government. The militias include the MongLa National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army-North (SSPP/SSA-N), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), the Kokang Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and the Arakan Army (AA).

One can only guess what China's motivation is in supporting the UWSA, but presumably there are two objectives -- bring about stability on the Myanmar side of the border, and use the UWSA to gain leverage against Myanmar's government.

However, the clashes between the army and the MNDAA are continuing, and panicky civilians continue to flee across the border into China. Some analysts have expressed concern that this could spiral out of control into a larger war. Irrawaddy News (Myanmar) and Deutsche Welle and VOA and Asia Times

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Myanmar faces an investigation for ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims

Myanmar's army says that it has halted "clearance operations," which have been targeting Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state which the United Nations has called ethnic cleansing and possible crimes against humanity.

Myanmar's army conducted a scorched earth attack on Rohingya Muslims burning down thousands of homes and buildings in dozens of villages. The army committed massacres, rapes and other atrocities that have displace hundreds of thousands of people, with tens of thousands to fleeing for their lives across the border into Bangladesh.

Burma has tacitly admitted guilt by forbidding any journalists or humanitarian groups from entering Rakhine State to investigate. Burma's government agrees that the satellite images show that Rohingya villages are being burned down, but they make the laughable claim that the Rohingyas are burning down the villages themselves in order to embarrass the government. There have also been dozens of videos showing Burma's police beating and raping Rohingya civilians, but Burma's government claims that all of these videos are phony and have been fabricated.

This follows repeated xenophobic attacks by Buddhists, led by Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu and his "969 movement," against the Rohingya Muslims, including rapes, torture and other atrocities committed by Buddhists, targeting the Rohingyas. The Rohingyas have a darker skin than Burmese, and they speak a Bengali dialect. The actions by the Buddhists were similar to the actions by the Nazis against the Jews.

The European Union is under growing pressure to lead an independent international investigation into the atrocities in Burma, and is expected to sponsor a resolution on March 16 to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

According to Phil Robertson from Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, "It’s time for the soldiers on the ground committing these atrocities, and their superiors in command authority, to be held accountable, and that is precisely what the Human Rights Council is going to do." Frontier Myanmar and Reuters (16-Feb)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Mar-17 World View -- Thousands flee from Myanmar into China to escape army clashes with ethnic militias thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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8-Mar-17 World View -- Tensions grow on Korean peninsula over THAAD and N. Norea-Malaysia relations

China promises retaliation over surprise deployment of THAAD in South Korea

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Malaysia's relations with North Korea continue rapid deterioration


Yellow tape and armed guards on Tuesday around North Korea's embassy in Malaysia prevent anyone from leaving (AP)
Yellow tape and armed guards on Tuesday around North Korea's embassy in Malaysia prevent anyone from leaving (AP)

Malaysia and North Korea appear close to completely severing diplomatic relations. They've already expelled each other's ambassadors, and the war of words continues to be increasingly vitriolic.

After Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un, was assassinated on February 13 in Kuala Lumpur airport in Malaysia, North Korea's ambassador to Malaysia, Kang Chol, began a series of bitter vitriolic attacks on Malaysia's government, accusing the the Malaysians of conducting an unauthorized autopsy, saying that the investigation was untrustworthy, and accusing Malaysian authorities of "colluding with the hostile forces towards us who are desperate to harm us of malice," referring to South Korea.

Apparently the reason that North Korea did not want an autopsy to be performed was that they did not want the Malaysians to know that King Jong-nam had been killed with VX nerve gas, which is so deadly that it's considered to be a "weapon of mass destruction," and its use is forbidden by international law. The fact that North Korea used a weapon of mass destruction on Malaysian soil to kill someone has infuriated Malaysia's government.

Malaysia would like to question several of the North Korean embassy staff for involvement in the assassination. This has further infuriated the North Koreans, who say that the embassy staff all have full diplomatic immunity. This is actually only true for the top officials in the enmity.

On Tuesday, North Korea announced that no citizen of Malaysia in North Korea would be permitted to leave. This has infuriated the entire Malaysian population, and some are saying that it was tantamount to war. Malaysia's prime minister Najib Razak, said that this was a violation of international law:

"They cannot act at their whims and fancy, violating the international law to hold Malaysians hostage. It is indeed unacceptable not only by Malaysia, but also the world."

Eleven Malaysians are known to be in North Korea: three embassy staff, six family members and two others who work for the United Nations’ World Food Program. Malaysian officials said they were safe. “There is no threat to their lives. Let us not come to that point yet,” said Reezal Merican, the deputy foreign minister.

Malaysia then banned North Koreans from leaving Malaysia, but different reports have different versions of this ban. Some say that only embassy personnel would be banned from leaving, and there are probably only a few dozen of these. Other reports say that all North Koreans are banned from leaving, and there are thousands of these. One reports says that Malaysia's government at first wanted to ban just the embassy staff, and then changed its mind to ban all North Koreans.

In another move, it turns out that both Malaysia and Singapore have been enabling North Korea to conduct illegal activities on their territories. Singapore last summer already cracked down on transshipments through its ports following new international sanctions imposed in the wake of last year's nuclear and missile tests. Malaysian officials have been closing their eyes to North Korean weapons sales through Malaysian companies, in violation of sanctions against North Korea, and now Malaysia is shutting down those businesses.

It seems that relations between Malaysia and North Korea become harsher and more vitriolic every day. And with both countries holding each other's citizens hostage, the rapid deterioration in relations is liable to continue. The Star (Malaysia) and Washington Post and Free Malaysia Today

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China promises retaliation over surprise deployment of THAAD in South Korea

Diplomatic relations between China and South Korea also appear to be deteriorating, especially after Tuesday's surprise move by South Korea and the United States to begin deploying the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system by the first delivery of large components. THAAD is composed of six mobile launchers, 48 interceptors, an X-band radar and the fire and control unit.

Originally, the deployment was to have been completed by the end of 2017, but now it appears that it will be completed this summer. The speedup is being attributed to North Korea's aggressive schedule of nuclear and missile tests, with increased danger of attack on North Korea's neighbors, including South Korea.

China has been furiously objecting to the deployment of THAAD, ever since it was announced in 2014. After Tuesday's delivery of THAAD components, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said:

"We strongly oppose the decision to deploy THAAD and will take necessary steps to defend our security interest. South Korea and the US will bear the consequences. ... We urge them not to go further down that wrong path."

In response, the White House said:

"We stand shoulder to shoulder with Japan and South Korea in doing what we can to protect that region in particular from an attack from North Korea. We understand the situation. We continue to work with them. As I mentioned, the president spoke to both leaders yesterday and we provided a readout of those calls. But we obviously understand the concerns of China, but this is a national security issue for them."

China's state media said that the reason the deployment was speeded up was not because of a threat from North Korea, but because the deployment would help conservative politicians in elections likely to be held in a few months.

China says that THAAD is not designed to intercept North Korean missiles, which travel at too low an altitude for THAAD. Furthermore, North Korea already has enough technology to avoid interception by THAAD. However, THAAD's "over the horizon" radar is able to see deep into China and detect military movements. Yonhap (Seoul) and Korea Herald and Xinhua (Beijing)

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South Korea threatens to sue China in World Trade Organization (WTO)

China's spokesman didn't specify what the "consequences" would be, but they're assumed to be economic sanctions targeting South Korea.

China has already ordered its travel agencies to stop selling packaged tours to Korea, and has banned Korean cosmetics and foods. South Korean pop stars and entertainers have been barred from appearing on Chinese TV programs since October.

To see what other steps China might take, we can recall the steps that China took to punish Japan when Japan displeased China. In the 2010 confrontations, China took revenge on Japan by terminating shipments of rare earth minerals, needed for manufacturing of many of Japan's electronic products. In 2012, 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.

South Korea is considering filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) over using economic sanctions for political purposes. South Korea might also file a lawsuit under the investment clause of the Korea-China Free Trade Agreement.

However, some South Korea functions are counseling caution, as China might retaliate further. Korea Times and Barrons

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Mar-17 World View -- Tensions grow on Korean peninsula over THAAD and N. Norea-Malaysia relations thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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7-Mar-17 World View -- Herders invade ranches in Kenya, ambush and kill British ranch owner

The ranchers (farmers) versus the pastoralists (herders)

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Herders invade ranches in Kenya, ambush and kill British ranch owner


A herder walks home with his camels in Kenya in January, after walking kilometers in search of pasture and water during drought. (The Nation)
A herder walks home with his camels in Kenya in January, after walking kilometers in search of pasture and water during drought. (The Nation)

Ranch co-owner Tristan Voorspuy, a British citizen and former British army officer, was found shot dead on Sunday on his ranch in Laikipia province in Kenya. Alongside him was the dead carcass of the horse he had been riding. It's believed that Voorspuy was ambushed by herders who for months have been invading ranches in order to get water and grazing land for their animals, in the middle of a drought.

Voorspuy was co-owner of the 24,000 acre colonial era Sosian ranch in Laikipia in the Rift Valley of Kenya, and owner of Offbeat Safaris Ltd. The ranch is a wildlife preserve and tourist attraction.

On Saturday, Voorspuy went to visit the site where two cottages had been burned down by herders on Friday. It appears that burning the cottages was a trap to lure Voorspuy, as he was apparently ambushed and killed when he arrived.

This weekend's attack on the Sosian ranch and murder of its owner were not the first such event. Ranches and ranchers have been under attack by invading herders for months, seeking water and grazing land for their animals. This particular attack on the Sosian ranch has become international news because Voorspuy was a British citizen and father of two.

The perpetrators are believed to be from the Pokot and Samburu tribes. Both of these tribes are described as "pastoralists," meaning that they're a society of nomadic herders who move from place to place as changes in weather require. The Pokot and Samburu tribes had fought a very bloody war against each other in 2006, displacing thousands of people and stealing each other's livestock, but now they've apparently made up and they're joining together to attack ranchers. It's believed that heavily armed militias of thousands of Pokot and Samburu have been invading and attacking ranches.

In January, herders attacked a 42,000-acre private ranch. According to a witness:

"The entire property is being invaded by large numbers of armed people, overrunning it with cattle, sheep and goats. They have destroyed kilometers of fences, cut and stolen wires and dug out posts. Things become really bad yesterday. It is as if someone has been been paid to cut wire and pull out posts everywhere. We are getting reports from all parts of Laikipia that cattle are heading our way."

The ranches in this county are the last stronghold of wildlife outside Kenya's national parks and reserves, and is home to 6,000 elephants and other animals including lions and the rare Grevy's zebra.

The Pokot and Samburu tribes are offshoots of the Kalenjin tribe. There are five major tribes in Kenya: the Kikuyu (6,622,576), the Luhya (5,338,666), the Kalenjin (4,967,328), the Luo (4,044,440) and the Kamba (3,893,157).

Kenya's last generational crisis war was the Mau-Mau rebellion that climaxed in 1956. In 2008, there was extremely brutal violence between the Kikuya, Kalenjin and Luo tribes, and it's widely feared that the new round of attacks by herders on ranchers in Laikipia is the first sign of a new round of more widespread violence, and possibly a full-scale war. Nairobi News and The Star (Kenya) and IRIN - United Nations and The Nation (Kenya-31-Jan-2017)

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The ranchers (farmers) versus the pastoralists (herders)

What's happening in Kenya is a variation of something that I've described many times -- the battle between farmers and herders. Farmers and herders have two completely different lifestyles. Battles between farmers and herders occur in country after country, as I've described many times in Central African Republic, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, and even America in the 1800s. The farmers accuse the herders of letting the cattle eat their crops, while the herders accuse the farmers of planting on land that's meant for grazing. If the farmers put up fences, then the herders knock them down.

The genocidal war in Sudan's western region of Darfur began in the 1980s as low-level conflicts between the light-skinned "Arab" herder tribes and the dark-skinned "African" farmer tribes. The herders turned into the Janjaweed militias who began, in the early 2000s, to ride in on camels and horses and invade the Darfurian farms with a scorched earth policy including mass murders, rapes and genocide.

The iconic genocidal war between Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda and Burundi in 1994 was the culmination of centuries of generational crisis wars between the two tribes, where the Tutsis were the herders who controlled the land, and the Hutus were the farmers who worked for the Tutsis.

The generational crisis civil war in the Central African Republic began three years ago as a war between ethnic groups aligned along a Muslim herder versus Christian farmer fault line. As we recently described, the war in the central regions of the country around the cities of Bambari and Bria is morphing from a religious war to an ethnic war between the Fulani tribe, a nomadic herding ethnic group, and the Gula and Runga tribes, which are primarily farming ethnic groups. As both sides are Muslim, this is now primarily an ethnic war. In fact, the Gula and Runga tribes are now allying with some Christian tribes that are also farmers.

In Kenya, the recent attacks by pastoralist herders on ranches is a variation of the age-old war between herders and farmers. Kenya's last generational crisis war was the Mau-Mau rebellion that climaxed in 1956. Now, 61 years later, Kenya is going deeper into a generational Crisis era, and we can expect the war between pastoralists and ranchers, and even between different ethnic groups of pastoralists, to continue to worsen.

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Mar-17 World View -- Herders invade ranches in Kenya, ambush and kill British ranch owner thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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6-Mar-17 World View -- China's South China Sea policy related to food security in times of war

Vietnam protests China's fishing ban in the South China Sea

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Vietnam protests China's fishing ban in the South China Sea


Chinese fishing fleet in the South China Sea (Hakai Magazine)
Chinese fishing fleet in the South China Sea (Hakai Magazine)

China, whose claim of sovereignty over the South China Sea has been declared illegal by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague, has imposed a fishing ban on the North China Sea, including regions that are in the exclusive economic zones and historical fishing grounds of Vietnam and the Philippines. China's announced ban begins on May 1 and ends on August 16.

The South China Sea is estimated to hold 11 billion barrels of oil, 109 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 10 percent of the world’s fisheries. Furthermore, 30% of the world’s shipping trade flows through the South China Sea.

Vietnam's foreign ministry spokesman said, "Vietnam resolutely opposes and rejects the regulation issued by China." Vietnam will dispatch fisheries surveillance ships across its territorial waters, focusing on areas where China has issued its fishing ban. The fisheries surveillance ships will protect and assist Vietnamese fishermen in these areas.

News reports don't indicate what form this protection will take. China has blocked other nations from fishing in their traditional fishing grounds by using armed coast guard vessels, and ramming fishing boats or threatening military action. It's not known whether Vietnam's fisheries surveillance ships will be armed, and whether there will be a possibility of a military confrontation that could escalate.

According to reports last year, Vietnam is deploying mobile rocket launchers on five of its bases in the Spratly Islands, in order to confront China. VN Express (Vietnam) and AP and VN Express

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China's fishing ban related to food security in times of war

For years, China's has had a goal of food self-sufficiency, but with 20% of the world's population, but only 9% of the world's arable land, this kind food security has always been out of reach. Thus, while China’s grain production has increased over 44% between 2003 and 2015, its grain imports (including soybeans) during the same period skyrocketed by nearly 400%, indicating that growth in domestic grain production is unable to keep up with population growth.

The history of agricultural in the 68 years of the People's Republic of China has been dismal. The worst episode was the Great Leap Forward in 1958-59, a man-made famine where Mao Zedong, killed tens of millions of people through starvation, slaughter and executions. In the past 30 years, China has achieved a remarkable increase in grain productivity, but that achievement was accomplished through overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides coupled with intensive farming practices that have contributed to severe degradation of land quality, and an even larger scale of land pollution. Today, China’s agricultural sector is dominated by hundreds of millions of small household farms, low and inefficient management at the rural level, and severe corruption of local government officials. In addition, China is facing a water crisis, with China's agriculture using two-thirds of the country's water resources.

According to the International Public Policy (IPP) organization in Singapore, China should abandon its tight control over agricultural resources, and resort to using the global agricultural market, as other countries do.

However, the IPP points out that this will be insufficient "in times of war (a full-scale war with the United States or other big countries) which leads to the total collapse of the global food markets," and will have to take further steps to prepare for war with the U.S. or other countries:

"To prepare for the worst case scenario, the Chinese government needs: 1) to maintain sufficient strategic food reserves which can meet the country’s food needs based on subsistence consumption levels during the period that new food products are produced; 2) protect key agricultural resources, particularly arable land and fresh water so as to develop agricultural potential which can be quickly utilized to produce enough food for the country in times of war."

Control of the South China Sea is important to China not only for its energy deposits, but for food security -- depending on massive amounts of fish from the SCS to supplement its agricultural output, especially in case of war.

However, China's huge fleets of fishing boats have overfished the SCS, and have depleted a number of species. Thus, food security is at the heart of China's demands for a moratorium on fishing in the South China Sea from May 1 to August 16.

However, China's is also using military means to enforce its moratorium on other countries, notably Vietnam and the Philippines. Vietnam is making its own military preparations to confront the Chinese, as described above.

In the case of the Philippines, access to fish has become a bargaining chip. Last fall, Philippines president Rodrigo R. Duterte announced a cutoff of relations with the United States, and also announced that the relationship with the U.S. would be replaced by a relationship with China. As a result of that agreement with China, Philippines fishermen were once again permitted to fish in the country's traditional fishing grounds around Scarborough Shoal.

Nonetheless, the Philippines military still has close ties with the U.S. military, and several Philippines ministers are expressing alarm that China might military the Scarborough Shoal, and gain military control of the entire South China Sea. International Public Policy Review and Jamestown and Hakai Magazine (Canada)

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North Korea fires four ballistic missiles into sea near Japan

As I'm writing this article on Sunday evening (ET), North Korea has launched four ballistic missiles into Japanese waters, once again in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

Once again, this is a new embarrassment to China. This is particularly true right now, as China's National People's Congress is in session, during which China's leaders are undoubtedly giving speeches condemning South Korea's decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) antimissile system, which China hates. Thus, these missile launches can only be seen as a message that North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un is sending to China, presumably to get revenge for China's decision to halt coal imports from North Korea.

Once again, North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un is a major problem for the Chinese government, and sooner or later China may decide to do something about it. Reuters and Yonhap News (Seoul)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Mar-17 World View -- China's South China Sea policy related to food security in times of war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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5-Mar-17 World View -- Malaysia expels North Korean ambassador as relations deteriorate

Kim Han-sol, son of Kim Jong-nam, under guard to prevent North Korean assassination

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Malaysia expels North Korea's ambassador Kang Chol


North Korean Ri Jong Chol, suspected in the death of Kim Jong-nam, was reluctantly released by Malaysian authorities for lack of evidence (Reuters)
North Korean Ri Jong Chol, suspected in the death of Kim Jong-nam, was reluctantly released by Malaysian authorities for lack of evidence (Reuters)

Malaysia has declared that Kang Chol, North Korea's ambassador to Malaysia, is persona non grata, and has ordered him to leave the country within 48 hours.

A month ago, no one would have expected relations between North Korea and Malaysia to deteriorate so rapidly. Malaysia has been one of the few countries of the world that have maintained good relations with North Korea, even to the extent of permitting North Koreans to visit Malaysia without a visa. But the assassination in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's capital, of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un, has led to a series of investigations, accusations, counter-accusations, threats and counter-threats that have pushed the two countries close to severing diplomatic relations completely.

Kim Jong-nam died in Kuala Lumpur airport after women used a handkerchief to apply poison to his face in the middle of the airport, and he died several minutes later from the poison on the way to the hospital. The autopsy revealed that the assassination was extremely sophisticated since the "poison" that was used was the nerve agent VX. VX is so deadly that it's classified as a weapon of mass destruction, and is banned by the United Nations. Touching even a drop of VX can kill, so applying VX to the victim required a great deal of skill on the part of the women. Although Malaysia has not explicitly accused North Korea of having ordered the assassination, it's widely believed that North Korea was responsible.

As soon as the assassination occurred, North Korea's ambassador Kang Chol began a series of extremely offensive accusations directed at the Malaysian government. He was on television almost every day, denying that the dead man was related to Kim Jong-un, demanding that the body be sent to the North Korean embassy immediately for cremation, accusing the Malaysians of conducting an unauthorized autopsy, saying that the investigation was untrustworthy, and accusing Malaysian authorities of "colluding with the hostile forces towards us who are desperate to harm us of malice," referring to South Korea.

Malaysian officials found these accusations to be extremely offensive, and demanded that Kang Chol apologize for them. He has failed to do so.

On Friday, Malaysia announced that it would cancel visa-free entry as of Monday.

On Saturday, Chol was summoned to Wisma Putra, Malaysia's foreign ministry, but he failed to show up. The foreign ministry then sent a diplomatic note to Malaysia's embassy:

"1. Pursuant to my instructions, His Excellency Mr. Kang Chol, the Ambassador of the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea (DPRK) was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. ...

2. However, neither the Ambassador nor senior officials of the Embassy was in a position to be present at the Ministry.

3. For this reason, the Ministry has via a Diplomatic Note sent to the Embassy this evening, informing the DPRK government that His Excellency Mr. Kang Chol that the Malaysian government has declared him Persona Non Grata. He is expected to leave Malaysia within 48 hours from the scheduled time of the meeting, namely 6.00 p.m. 4 March 2017.

4. It can now be revealed that at 5.00 p.m., Tuesday, 28 February 2017, officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ... met with the High Level Delegation from the DPRK.... During the meeting, the Malaysian government demanded a written apology from the DPRK for the accusations recently made against Malaysia by the DPRK Ambassador.

5. The DPRK delegation was informed that if no response is received by 10.00 p.m. that day, the Malaysian government would take measures that would best protect its interests.

6. Almost four days have passed since the deadline lapsed. No such apology has been made, neither has there been any indication that one is forthcoming. For this reason, the Ambassador has been declared Persona Non Grata. ...

10. It should be made clear – Malaysia will react strongly against any insults made against it or any attempt to tarnish its reputation.

11. It should be recalled that the Ambassador had alleged that the conduct of the investigation into the death of a DPRK citizen on 13 February 2017 indicates that the Malaysian government had something to hide and that Malaysia has colluded with outside powers to defame his country.

Recent events, including the release of Mr. Ri Jong Chol ... is proof that the investigation is conducted in an impartial, fair and transparent manner, as befits a country that practices the rule of law.

12. The expulsion of the DPRK Ambassador comes at the heels of the decision of the Malaysian government ... that effective on Monday, 6 March 2017, citizens of the DPRK require visas to enter Malaysia. This is an indication of the government’s concern that Malaysia may have been used for illegal activities.

13. These measures are part of the process by the Malaysian government to review its relations with the DPRK."

The Star (Malaysia) and Free Malaysia Today and BBC and AFP

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Malaysia accused of fronting North Korean weapons sales

The statement quoted above contains the sentence: "This is an indication of the government’s concern that Malaysia may have been used for illegal activities."

This sentence refers to a United Nations report to be released in a few days accusing Malaysia of having violated United Nations sanctions by permitting North Korea to sell weapons using an arms sales operation in Malaysia under a brand called Glocom. According to the report, Glocom is run by North Korea's top intelligence agency, and is linked to two Malaysian companies, International Global System and International Golden Services, controlled by North Korean shareholders and director. The United Nations has asked the Malaysian government to freeze the assets of these companies.

Malaysia is denying having violated UN sanctions, and is apparently denying knowledge of Glocom's arms sales and relation to North Korea, although that information has apparently been publicly available. At any rate, Malaysia is giving the Glocom accusation as a reason for ending visa-free travel from North Korea to Malaysia. Reuters and International Business Times and Foreign Policy

Kim Han-sol, son of Kim Jong-nam, under guard to prevent North Korean assassination


Kim Han-sol's girlfriend Sonia (L) studies at Oxford University
Kim Han-sol's girlfriend Sonia (L) studies at Oxford University

Since the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, there has been international concern about his son, Kim Han-sol, who had apparently disappeared from sight. At one point, the Malaysian authorities said that they believed that he would come to Kuala Lumpur to identify his father's body, but he never showed up.

Subsequently there have been reports that he under Chinese protection in Macau. He has been advised not leave Macau, because it's feared that he would also be assassinated.

Kim Han-sol is in the bloodline of North Korea's founding leader Kim Il-sung. For that reason, Han-sol could serve as a legitimate leader of North Korea. In particular, if China wanted to be rid of North Korea's current leader Kim Jong-un, then China could have him killed and replaced by Kim Han-sol.

Whether or not China might actually do that, it's not surprising that the paranoid child dictator Kim Jong-un believes that the Chinese might do it. It's believed by some analysts that that's the motive why the assassination of Kim Jong-nam was ordered, and why the assassination of Kim Han-sol could be ordered for the same reason.

Other reports indicate that Kim Han-sol has been advised to give up his plans to study at Oxford University for fear of being assassinated. Chinese authorities have reportedly told him that they could not protect him there. He had previously planned to study at Oxford starting in the fall, where his girlfriend Sonia is already studying. Straits Times and Daily Mail (London) and Oxford Student

New sanctions indicate China is running out of patience with Kim Jong-un

If the Chinese DID want to eliminate Kim Jong-un, few people would be surprised. Kim has caused numerous problems for China by conducting nuclear and ballistic missile tests in violation of United Nations sanctions. Now, the alleged use of the illegal weapon of mass destruction, VX nerve agent, to kill Kim Jong-nam, who was living in Macau under China's protection, is a new major embarrassment for the Beijing regime.

According to an analysis by the Hong Kong based South China Morning Post:

"China may now realize that continued inaction on North Korea conflicts with its rising international clout and contradicts its national interest. Kim’s weapons of mass destruction pose the same risk to China as they do to South Korea, Japan or the United States.

North Korea’s relentless weapons build-up has fueled an arms race in the region. Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, India and Australia are scrambling to upgrade their defenses. South Korea’s decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense [THAAD] system to contain the North’s nuclear capability is perhaps the highest-profile reaction, a move that Beijing is fiercely fighting against for fear it could also be used to curb China.

All this risks triggering a nuclear domino effect in Northeast Asia. Trump has even suggested that Japan and South Korea acquire nuclear weapons to counter any challenge from North Korea.

In this volatile environment, China’s continued support of a regime widely seen as a state sponsor of terrorism and a major threat to peace in the region will only damage Beijing’s international image and undermine relations with most of its important trade partners – South Korea, Japan and the US, among others."

China announced two weeks ago that it would impose its own sanctions on North Korea by blocking imports of coal. The SCMP analysis says that this decision was tied to South Korean politics and the deployment of THAAD:

"Before the missile test and the assassination, South Korea’s public was fairly evenly split into two camps on how to handle ties with Pyongyang [North Korea]: those who wanted to engage North Korea peacefully, usually on the left, and those who wanted to take a more forceful stand, usually on the right. This division could tip the balance of the presidential election scheduled for later this year.

The position on North Korea has serious and immediate repercussions for China. South Korea in recent months has lost its patience with the North and it deployed a new American missile defense system, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD). This is officially aimed at the North, but it clearly can also be used against China.

Seoul [South Korea] in turn decided on THAAD for many reasons, including out of frustration at Beijing’s inability to rein in Pyongyang. If China cannot get the North to pursue reasonable politics and give up its wave of threatening nuclear and missile experiments, then the South has to rely more on American military protection. In the same way, the US felt that if China was unable to control Kim, it had to take steps to guarantee the status quo of the region.

An electoral victory of the left could reopen a discussion on THAAD, something that with a new right-wing president is more unlikely.

The assassination of Kim Jong-nam now casts a whole new spell on South Korean politics. It reinforces the chances of the right, but it also makes very difficult if not impossible for the left to think of engaging the North or withdrawing THAAD."

The SCMP analysis concludes that China hopes that refusing to import North Korean coal will cause the country "to buckle and give in to demands from the outside world," though it also worries that the plan may backfire and cause Kim Jong-un to "up the ante, daring the whole planet to attack." South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and South China Morning Post

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Mar-17 World View -- Malaysia expels North Korean ambassador as relations deteriorate thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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4-Mar-17 World View -- Champagne corks pop as a 'Trump rally' sends Wall Street stocks parabolic

The velocity of money keeps plummeting, indicating no economic growth

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Champagne corks pop as a 'Trump rally' sends Wall Street stocks parabolic


S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio at 24.90 on March 3, indicating a huge and growing stock market bubble (WSJ)
S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio at 24.90 on March 3, indicating a huge and growing stock market bubble (WSJ)

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has exploded upward some 2,000 points since the November 8 election, leading analysts to refer to it as "the Trump rally." The increase was infectious, and stock markets in Europe and Asia also surged. President Donald Trump tweeted on Thursday, "Since November 8th, Election Day, the stock market has posted $3.2 trillion in gains." It's believed that investors are reacting to Trump's promises to promote job growth with huge infrastructure spending and deep tax cuts to individuals and corporations.

When the word "parabolic" is applied to a stock market index (alluding to the mathematical curve called a "parabola"), it means that the stock market as been rising so rapidly, it appears to be the prelude to an imminent panic. Investors who have been popping their champagne corks in ebullient celebration out of all the money they believe they're making in the stock market are not using the word "parabolic," but that's what's going on nonetheless.

According to Friday's Wall Street Journal, the S&P 500 Price/Earnings index (stock valuations index) on Friday morning (Mar 3) was at an astronomically high 24.90. This is far above the historical average of 14, indicating that the stock market bubble is still growing, and could burst at any time. Generational Dynamics predicts that the P/E ratio will fall to the 5-6 range or lower, which is where it was as recently as 1982, resulting in a Dow Jones Industrial Average of 3000 or lower.

A stock market panic and crash is coming with 100% certainty. To this day, we still don't know what triggered the stock market panic in October 1929, and why it happened at that time rather than a little earlier or later, so we don't know what will trigger the approaching stock market panic and crash, though we know with certainty that it's coming.

David Stockman was President Ronald Reagan's budget director. He criticized some of the Reagan administration's budget proposals, and later said that Reagan has "taken him to the woodshed." That phrase has stuck with him in the 30+ years that have passed, and today he's considered to be a virtuoso budget authority. Like myself, he's been writing about the stock market bubble for several years.

In an interview last week, Stockman was asked whether the "Trump rally" can keep going. He replied:

"I don’t think there is a snowball’s chance in the hot place that’s going to happen. This is delusional. This is the greatest suckers’ rally of all time. It is based on pure hopium and not any analysis at all as what it will take to push through a big tax cut. Donald Trump is in a trap. Today the debt is $20 trillion. It’s 106% of GDP. ... Trump is inheriting a built-in deficit of $10 trillion over the next decade under current policies that are built in. Yet, he wants more defense spending, not less. He wants drastic sweeping tax cuts for corporations and individuals. He wants to spend more money on border security and law enforcement. He’s going to do more for the veterans. He wants this big trillion dollar infrastructure program. You put all that together and it’s madness. It doesn’t even begin to add up, and it won’t happen when you are struggling with the $10 trillion of debt that’s coming down the pike and the $20 trillion that’s already on the books."

The huge stock market rise over the past few years hasn't made much sense from a fundamental point of view, in view of the meteoric S&P 500 price/earnings index, and the recent further parabolic climb makes even less sense. Even bullish analysts are saying that the stock market is way overdue for a correction. Whether the stock market continues, its parabolic climb, or has a small correction, or finally has its expected major stock market panic remains to be seen. Nikkei and David Stockman interview

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End of debt ceiling suspension on March 15 signals new Washington fiscal crisis

A law passed in 1917 places a limit on the amount of money that the United States government can borrow. This amount is known as the "debt ceiling" or "debt limit." When government debt reaches the debt ceiling, then it can no longer borrow money to spend, until Congress passes a law raising the debt ceiling to a higher value. In extreme cases, the government has to shut down completely.

Every couple of years the debt ceiling has to be increased, and there's a new political battle in Congress usually involving several forms of extortion by both parties over what other spending programs will be in the same bill as the debt ceiling increase.

Anyone who follows the political news will recall many well-publicized debt ceiling crises, starting with the 28 day government shutdown in 1995. Recently, there have been debt ceiling crises in August 2011, and January 2013.

You may wonder, Dear Reader, why there have been no debt ceiling crises since 2013. The answer is that both parties decided in 2015 to prevent a new debt crisis during the election campaign of 2016. So in October 2015, they passed a bill suspending the debt ceiling, allowing the Obama administration to spend as much money as it wanted.

Well, that debt ceiling suspension had an end date: March 15, 2017. On that date, whatever the current debt is of the government, that will be the new debt ceiling. That amount is approximately $20 trillion. In other words, within two weeks, the government will no longer be able to borrow money, until Congress passes a new bill to raise the debt ceiling.

The government can take "extraordinary measures" to keep running without borrowing more money: not make payments to states, not pay contractors, not pay bondholders, not pay Social Security, not pay tax refunds, and so forth. This will cause a great deal of pain to the people who don't get paid, but the government can keep running. But estimates are that even these measures will run out in October or November.

So Congress's agenda for this summer will be: repeal and replace Obamacare, costing hundreds of billions of dollars; past a $1 trillion infrastructure bill; pass hundreds of billions of dollars in corporate and individual tax cuts; and oh, by the way, increase the $20 trillion debt ceiling to something a lot higher. CNBC and CNN and Washington Examiner

The velocity of money keeps plummeting, indicating no economic growth

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, politicians could always count on having their debts and spending programs bailed out by economic growth. Politicians are expecting the same thing today. All they talk about is how they will spend money to grow the economy, and the economic growth will wipe out the debt. It's a fairy tale that used to work at the end of the last century, in a generational Unraveling era, but stopped working about 13 years ago when we entered a generational Crisis era.

What nobody wants to talk about is the velocity of money. This indicates the rate at which people are willing to spend money. You can't have economic growth if people aren't willing to spend money, which means that the velocity of money would have to increase. Instead, we have this:


Velocity of money, 1919 to 2017 (St. Louis Fed Fred Graph #366117)
Velocity of money, 1919 to 2017 (St. Louis Fed Fred Graph #366117)

When the real estate bubble burst in 2007, and the financial crisis occurred, millions of people went bankrupt or lost their homes. At that point, people stopped spending money. They used what money they had to pay off their debts and save money. As a result, the velocity of money has continued to fall steadily since then, just as it did during the Great Depression and World War II.

That's the reason why there's been on economic growth in over eight years, and why there won't be any substantial economic growth for the foreseeable future.

Investors who are pushing the stock market to new parabolic heights are completely oblivious to the fall in the velocity of money, and in fact have the vaguest clue what it means. Similarly, they're oblivious to the debt ceiling crisis that's approaching

And in news on Friday, Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen indicated that the Fed may increase interest rates on March 15. It's the Fed's easy money policy that has been funding the stock market surge, so chalk this up as one more risk factor for the stock market as the summer approaches. Dow Jones

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Mar-17 World View -- Champagne corks pop as a 'Trump rally' sends Wall Street stocks parabolic thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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3-Mar-17 World View -- Australia pays refugees cash to return home, as U.S. resettlement deal falters

Australia and Germany paying asylum seekers cash to return home

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Australia-US refugee swap deal appears to be faltering


Accommodations for refugees at the Manus Island detention center in Papua New Guinea (Reuters)
Accommodations for refugees at the Manus Island detention center in Papua New Guinea (Reuters)

A deal in November between President Barack Obama and Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to allow 1,250 refugees being held in Australia's refugee centers to be resettled in the United States is proceeding slowly.

The refugees, from countries like Bangladesh and Nepal, are living in two "detention centers" on Pacific islands, one on Papua New Guinea's (PNG's) Manus Island, and one on the island nation of Nauru, under agreements that Australia reached with both countries. However, the United Nations and international refugee activists have condemned the refugee camps, saying that under international law, valid asylum seekers should be resettled on Australian soil. Australia has resisted that in order to discourage human trafficking of refugees to Australia.

Early in February, President Donald Trump called it "the worst deal ever," but promised to honor the deal because he was bound by agreements made by the previous administration. He confirmed that the US will take in up to 1,250 of these refugees, after subjecting each of them to "extreme vetting."

However, things have been going slowly, according to Australian officials. Although some preliminary screening has taken place, officials from the US Department of Homeland Security had not been authorized to start formally vetting applicants.

Australia's Immigration and Border Protection secretary Mike Pezzullo says that he believes that the delay is only temporary:

"As we've made clear, our colleagues in Homeland Security are not in a position yet to start their processes but they'll certainly be able to conduct themselves in a very expedited fashion given the amount of preliminary work that's been done."

There's another major wrinkle to this deal, and it was only revealed last week.

Last September, Turnbull announced that Australia would help the United States deal with its refugee problem by taking refugees from Costa Rica and resettling them in Australia. When the deal to resettle refugees from Australia in the United States was announced in November, Turnbull repeatedly denied that it was related to the Costa Rica deal.

So last week, that denial was suddenly abandoned, and this was apparently no surprise to anyone in Australia. Immigration minister Peter Dutton did a complete flip-flop and said that the government "wouldn’t take anyone until we had assurances that people are going to go off Nauru and Manus. We want an outcome in relation to Nauru and Manus."

An opposition spokesman said, "I mean, look, everyone knew it was a deal, and last night Peter Dutton, playing politics as always, belled the cat when he made it clear that it was contingent that taking people from Costa Rica was contingent on America taking those from Manus and Nauru, so clearly this was a deal." Australian Broadcasting and News.com (Australia)

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Australia and Germany paying asylum seekers cash to return home

Facing heavy international criticism from the United Nations and refugee activists, Australia has agreed to close down the two "detention centers" on Nauru and on Papua New Guinea's (PNG's) Manus Island by the end of the year.

Australia is encouraging refugees to return to their home countries voluntarily by taking up US$25,000 in cash, or to face deportation otherwise. Several dozen refugees have accepted the offer, according to reports.

Germany is also paying refugees to return to their home countries, but a lot less. Last year, Germany paid 54,000 asylum seekers cash to return home, for a total payout of €21.5 million ($22 million). This would appear to average out to about €400 per refugee.

Last month, Germany announced a "voluntary return" program to offer €1,200 ($1,275) to each asylum seeker to return home if their asylum applications are rejected. Last year, Germany received some 700,000 asylum requests, around 60% of which were successful. However, around 430,000 requests remained unanswered, many of which date back to 2015 or earlier. Reuters (14-Feb) and Deutsche-Welle (20-Jan) and Reuters and Economist

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Mar-17 World View -- Australia pays refugees cash to return home, as U.S. resettlement deal falters thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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2-Mar-17 World View -- European leaders debate how the European Union can survive after Brexit

European nations split on the future of Europe

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

European leaders debate how the European Union can survive after Brexit


Italian politician Gianni Pittella calls the European Commission's white paper a 'clear political mistake' (Getty)
Italian politician Gianni Pittella calls the European Commission's white paper a 'clear political mistake' (Getty)

A variety of crises seem to get worse as time goes on is causing anxieties about the future of the European Union and the euro currency. The crises include the refugee crisis, financial crises in Greece and Italy, and increasing euroscepticism in many countries, following the Brexit referendum that called for Britain to leave the European Union.

Recognition of these crises comes at a significant time. On March 25, 27 EU countries (Britain, the 28th, is not invited) will be meeting in Rome to discuss the future of Europe on the 60th anniversary of the 1957 Treaty of Rome that contained the core principles that led to the creation of the European Union.

When the Treaty of Rome was signed, Europe had been devastated by two world wars, and everybody was fearful that there could be another world war at any time. Finally, it was agreed by the war survivors that Europe had to form a union like the United States to prevent another war. That was the motivation behind the 1957 Treaty of Rome.

Today, many in Europe's older generations fear that Europe is headed for new war like WW I and WW II, while younger generations, who have lived in peace their whole lives, think that anyone who worries about war must be an alarmist.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Jüncker on Wednesday published a "White Paper On The Future Of Europe," which describes the problems facing Europe and suggests five different paths. Jüncker summarizes the problems as follows:

"Europe’s challenges show no sign of abating. Our economy is recovering from the global financial crisis but this is still not felt evenly enough. Parts of our neighborhood are destabilized, resulting in the largest refugee crisis since the Second World War. Terrorist attacks have struck at the heart of our cities. New global powers are emerging as old ones face new realities. And last year, one of our Member States voted to leave the Union."

Jüncker's approach is to present alternatives for the future of Europe:

The white paper will be discussed at the Rome meeting on March 25, and the European Commission will published a series of discussion papers throughout the year. European Commission - The Future of Europe and RTE (Ireland) and Bloomberg

European nations split on the future of Europe

Many member nations are disenchanted with the EU, and it's feared that if one more nation follows Britain out of the EU, then others may follow rapidly.

The foreign ministers of France and Germany supported Jüncker's white paper options, and particularly supported the "multi-speed Europe" option, described in the white paper as follows:

"In a scenario where the EU27 proceeds as today but where certain Member States want to do more in common, one or several “coalitions of the willing” emerge to work together in specific policy areas. These may cover policies such as defense, internal security, taxation or social matters.

As a result, new groups of Member States agree on specific legal and budgetary arrangements to deepen their cooperation in chosen domains. As was done for the Schengen area or the euro, this can build on the shared EU27 framework and requires a clarification of rights and responsibilities. The status of other Member States is preserved, and they retain the possibility to join those doing more over time."

However, politicians in other countries disagreed. Far-right Dutch politician Vicky Maeijer reacted harshly to the white paper:

"The EU is collapsing and support for the project is crumbling. It seems we’re trying to keep the Brussels dream alive but its really more of the same – more, more, more European Union. What world do they come from? You’re playing with the lives of millions of citizens who you do not represent.

The Dutch, I think, are going to have their feeling confirmed that they must get away from this suffocating Europe and get freedom and democracy back."

Gianni Pittella, and Italian politician who leads the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, said that the white paper was a "clear political mistake": "We would consider it a clear political mistake to simply present five options concerning the EU’s future without pointing out a clear political preference. [The future of Europe can’t be sacrificed for] short sightedness or fear of the next national elections."

But Spanish politician Esteban González Pons said that the EU must be preserved:

"It is time to defend Europe because it is the best vaccine against nationalists and populists. ...

Nobody should forget that the Union is already our present, and now we have to decide which way we want to go in the future in order to deal with common challenges such as globalization, the generational gap, terrorism, climate change, the migration and refugee crisis, and the rise of nationalism and populism."

Daily Express (London) and Politico and Xinhua

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Mar-17 World View -- European leaders debate how the European Union can survive after Brexit thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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1-Mar-17 World View -- Central African Republic war morphs from religious to ethnic war

United Nations peacekeeping force MINUSCA uses airstrikes to stop bloodbath in Bambari

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Central African Republic war morphs from religious to ethnic war


Central African Republic
Central African Republic

The Central African Republic (CAR) war began in March 2013, when Muslim Séléka militias ousted François Bozizé, the Christian president of CAR, and replaced him with Michel Djotodia, a Muslim.

Muslim Séléka militias began committing atrocities, particularly targeting the Christian constituencies of the deposed François Bozizé. In December 2013, French Foreign Legion peacekeeping troops arrived to disarm the Séléka militias.

The actions of the French troops backfired. When the Muslim Séléka troops were disarmed, the Christian anti-Balaka militias "rushed into the vacuum," and began committing atrocities in 2014, for revenge against the Sélékas. Since then, both Christians and Muslims have been committing brutal atrocities, and it's become a full-scale generational crisis war. As in any generational crisis war, bloody, brutal atrocities are committed by all sides, irrespective of religion or ethnicity.

In 2013, the Séléka was a coalition of ethnic militias that were united in their opposition to the Christians and to François Bozizé. Since then, the coalition has begun to unravel, and different factions have been turning on one another.

In the central region of CAR, around the country's second and third largest cities, Bambari and Bria, two competing ethnic militias have emerged.

One is the Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC), dominated by Muslims from the Fulani ethnic group, a nomadic herding ethnic group. Their families travel with their herds of cattle to greener pastures when grazing ground and water are scarce.

The second ethnic militia is the Popular Front for the Renaissance in the Central African Republic (FPRC), dominated by the Gula and Runga ethnic groups. These ethnic groups are primarily farmers, using hoe cultivation and irrigation techniques, with millet and wheat are the main crops grown. The FPRC is now allying with the Christian "anti-Balaka" militias, which are also primarily farmers.

The FPRC is demanding an independent state in CAR's north. This is opposed by the UPC. The FPRC have been seeking out and slaughtering Fulani civilians in one village after another, including an extremely brutal assault on the city of Bria. FPRC forces are now closing in on Bambari, where it's feared the same could happen.

The core issue in the war is one that I've described many times -- the battle between farmers and herders. Farmers and herders have two completely different lifestyles. Battles between farmers and herders occur in country after country, as I've described many times in Central African Republic, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, and even America in the 1800s. The farmers accuse the herders of letting the cattle eat their crops, while the herders accuse the farmers of planting on land that's meant for grazing. If the farmers put up fences, then the herders knock them down.

Generational crisis wars are fought along demographic fault lines, including religion, ethnicity, skin color and geography. Ethnicity is a much more powerful force than religion because you can change your religion but you can't change your ethnicity. As in many countries, the war in Central African Republic is being fought along ethnic fault lines, particularly along the fault line between herders and farmers. IRIN - United Nations and Reuters (26-Nov-2016)

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United Nations peacekeeping force MINUSCA uses airstrikes to stop bloodbath in Bambari

There is a United Nations peacekeeping force in CAR known as MINUSCA, which stands for Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic. MINUSCA has been largely a failure, with its forces mainly concentrated in the capital city Bangui, and has been riven with scandal, with accusations that peacekeepers have been raping girls that they're supposed to be protecting.

MINUSCA has been watching the impending disaster, as the FPRC forces approach Bambari, with the intention of exterminating the Fulani. MINUSCA is forced to resort to airstrikes to try to halt the advance of the FPRC, and has been targeting "heavily armed" FPRC fighters, although it's not known whether the airstrikes have produced any casualties. At any rate, based on the publicly available reports, it appears that MINUSCA's attempt to stop the FPRC slaughter of Fulanis will fail spectacularly.

I've been writing about the CAR war ever since it began in 2013, and I've always said the same thing: This is a generational crisis war, a force of nature that cannot be stopped until it reaches an explosive climax. The climax is sometimes a real explosion, such as the nuking of Japan that ended World War II. In the usual case, it's a genocidal explosion of such enormity that it's remembered for decades or even centuries, and it causes both sides to stop fighting, and say, "Never again." And it doesn't happen again, as long as the survivors of the war are still alive.

As I've explained in the past, CAR's last generational crisis war was the 1928-1931 Kongo-Wara Rebellion ("War of the Hoe Handle"), which was a very long time ago, putting CAR today deep into a generational Crisis era, where a new crisis civil war has already started.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is a generational crisis war, and it will not end until a lot of scores get settled with some kind of massive bloody, genocidal climax that will be remembered for decades. CAR is nowhere close to that point yet, and MINUSCA can't do anything but watch the violence unfold. Reuters and AFP

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Mar-17 World View -- Central African Republic war morphs from religious to ethnic war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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