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Web Log - April, 2018

Summary

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

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

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One Ottawa columnist summarized the debate as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brief generational history of Armenia, Turkey and Azerbaijan

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brief generational history of Armenia, Turkey and Azerbaijan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related articles:

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

Russia ties itself in knots diplomatically over Syria gas attack

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia ties itself in knots diplomatically over Syria chemical attack


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

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

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

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

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

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

According to a statement by the British government:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Syria blocks OPCW inspectors from visiting site of chemical attack

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related Articles:

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

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

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Britain publishes its legal justification for military action

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iran, Hezbollah and Syria threaten retaliation against Israel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related Articles:

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

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

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

UN says DR Congo humanitarian crisis at highest emergency level


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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DR Congo boycotts its own international humanitarian conference for DR Congo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

The following are some preliminary notes on the announcements.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Japan's rare earths discovery represents a defeat for China

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

Japan's rare earths discovery represents a defeat for China

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

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

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

This became a major foreign policy for China.

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

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

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

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

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

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

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

However, Trump was more conciliatory in a later tweet:

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

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

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

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

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

So let me try to make this clear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

However, Erdogan rejected Lavrov's remarks:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Haley announces major change in policy regarding Russia and Security Council

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Either way, the United States will respond."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

In celebrating his victory, Orbán said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Europe as a whole moves steadily to the right

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

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

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

EuroIntelligence summarized the situation as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

New chemical weapon attack in Syria kills 48, hospitalizes hundreds


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taiwan and Japan respond to China's militarization

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Trump administration approves selling submarine technology to Taiwan


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related Articles:

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

    Hamas and Fatah/PLO criticized for contradictory strategies

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

    Hamas and Fatah/PLO criticized for contradictory strategies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

    So the situation is this:

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

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

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    And, seventy years ago, Japan was defeated."

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Mainstream media emphasize the love-fest between Turkey and Russia

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

    At the press conference, Putin said:

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

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

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

    So there are some unanswered questions about this deal:

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

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

    In an interview before the press conference, Putin said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Mainstream media emphasize the love-fest between Turkey and Russia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Fears grow of resumption of 2014 Gaza war

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

    Fears grow of resumption of 2014 Gaza war

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

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

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

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

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

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

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