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Web Log - October, 2019


26-Oct-19 World View -- Mike Pence harshly criticizes China as US bans Chinese surveillance equipment

Backlash grows against Chinese surveillance and AI equipment

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

Growing Western hostility and suspicion towards China

Nike ad in 2018, part of its laughable 'Social Justice Leadership' program, showing Colin Kaepernick saying, 'Believe in something.  Even if it means sacrificing everything.  Just do it.'
Nike ad in 2018, part of its laughable 'Social Justice Leadership' program, showing Colin Kaepernick saying, 'Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything. Just do it.'

US vice president Mike Pence on Thursday delivered a speech harshly criticizing the entire list of CCP activities that the West considers to be criminal -- jailing Uighurs, jailing priests, destroying churches, IP theft, forced technology transfer, cyber-theft, South China Sea crimes, and dozens more. Pence also criticized the hypocrisy of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Nike.

Pence's speech comes shortly after the US banned Chinese surveillance companies. The speech triggered harsh replies from the NBA and China.

Once upon a time not so long ago, everybody loved China. America saved China in both world wars. Americans considered China to be a strange and wonderful place after World War II, despite the brutal violence of the Communist dictator Mao Zedong. The Tiananmen Square massacre was considered an aberration, and trade disputes were rarely understood by the public.

So China was invited to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, based on commitments that it would open up its economy to outsiders, and would follow all the WTO rules and international law. Western leaders believed that membership in the WTO would change China for the better, encourage it to become a valued member of the international community, and abandoning the hostile policies of the past. None of that happened. Instead, China used the WTO as a tool to make suckers out of Western nations, ignoring WTO rules and playing victim, but angrily insisting that Western nations obey all WTO rules. China always made it clear that WTO rules and international law apply to everyone else but not to China, and signed agreements apply to the other parties but not to China.

Things seriously began to change with the rise of Xi Jinping in 2011. In 2013, the CCP issued "Document Number 9" which listed evil "anti-China forces," including the following. Some of these "evil" forces named in the document include democracy, human rights, civil society, neoliberalism, and a free press. The reason the CCP gives why all of these Western values are considered "evil" is because they are interpreted to be weapons undermining the authority of the CCP.

These "evils" permeated every aspect of CCP policy under Xi. Specific hostile acts were all performed under this doctrine, including illegal activities in the South China Sea, violent crackdowns on Christians, Buddhists and Muslims, the arrest and enslavement of millions of Uighurs and Kazakhs, and crackdowns on free press and democracy movements in Hong Kong.

This doctrine and these acts have steadily eroded the goodwill that people in the West have had for China. Increasingly, Westerners view China with hostility and suspicion.

One of the most dramatic signs of the growing hostility to China is that George Soros, who for decades has been an enormous admirer and supporter of the CCP, has now turned against it, because the Social Credit Score system is turning China into the worst police state in world history.

Mike Pence harshly criticizes China as US bans Chinese surveillance equipment

Pence's speech on Thursday focused on several of China's illegal practices:

"The Communist Party in China has arrested Christian pastors, banned the sale of Bibles, demolished churches, and imprisoned more than one million Muslim Uighurs. ...

Last July, the director of the FBI told Congress that of his agency’s 1,000 active investigations into intellectual property theft, the majority involve China. American enterprises continue to lose hundreds of billions of dollars each year in intellectual property theft. ...

And today, China’s Communist Party is building a surveillance state unlike anything the world has ever seen. Hundreds of millions of surveillance cameras stare down from every vantage point. Ethnic minorities must navigate arbitrary checkpoints where police demand blood samples, fingerprints, voice recordings, and multiple angle head shots, and even iris scans.

And China is now exporting to countries in Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East the very same technological tools that it uses in its authoritarian regime: tools that it’s deployed in places like Xinjiang; tools that it’s deployed often with the help of American companies.

And Beijing has also smashed the barriers between civilian and military technological domains — a doctrine that China calls “military-civilian fusion.” By law and presidential fiat, companies in China — whether private, state-owned, or foreign — must share their technologies with the Chinese military."

China's massive buildout of surveillance equipment is reaching into every country of the world, as China collects information on billions of people, inside and outside China, which it puts into its huge big data database.

There's a backlash growing against Chinese-made surveillance products on multiple levels.

Surveillance cameras have been around for years, and few people were concerned, as long as the cameras were used in places like banks and busy intersections, and as long as nobody ever reviewed the video except a human being.

Public alarm over the general surveillance issue has been increasing as the public has become aware that not humans but computers are increasingly reviewing the video, using artificial artificial (AI) technology that provides facial recognition capabilities, matching faces up to records in databases, allowing the software to track any individual in real time.

Backlash grows against Chinese surveillance and AI equipment

This comes amid increasing global awareness that the China's military is using these same devices for surveillance in cities and countries around the world.

This awareness was boosted by a shocking demonstration in August when a researcher was able to prove that millions of surveillance devices marketed by Dahua Technology, and installed around the world, contain a secret backdoor that can easily be hacked, and used for eavesdropping. That means that if you have one of these devices in your war room, board room, or bedroom, even when the audio is disabled, someone knowing the IP address of the device can access the device remotely and secretly listen in to conversations and sounds in that room.

A Duhua spokesman was quoted as saying that the company "conducted an emergency investigation, and the preliminary results are that this vulnerability does not exist after refactoring—some end-of-life products may have security risks. We have a plan to repair the related products." Wow! That's nice!

US bans doing business with Chinese surveillance and AI firms

The Dept. of Commerce announcement blocked eight Chinese companies, and they can be divided roughly into two groups -- surveillance cameras that capture video and audio and transmit it to the central server over the internet, and artificial intelligence (AI) products that interpret the video and audio being captured, particularly with facial recognition and identification. The eight Chinese companies are as follows:

It's believed that America and the West have been most successful in developing advanced AI algorithms for surveillance and recognition, but Chinese companies have a big advantage because of their huge data base to use for training and testing purposes.

Ironically, China desperately needs surveillance data from around the world for a completely different reason: testing its facial recognition software. All the Han Chinese ("yellow race, black hair, brown eyes, yellow skin") have similar facial characteristics, and the Chinese need millions of faces of people from all countries and races to test its facial recognition software.

China's growing global surveillance tentacles

It's frightening how successful China has been at using these surveillance and AI technologies not only to imprison and enslave millions of Muslim Uighters and Kazakhs, but also to continually identify and track all activities of every Chinese citizen, as well as millions of people outside of China.

Furthermore, a number of incidents have been reported that are increasingly alarming people about the use of surveillance equipment, including equipment made by other manufacturers.

During the last four years in Ecuador, China has installed a vast surveillance system, known as the ECU-911 system, that can be used to spy on all Ecuadorian citizens.

The China-made surveillance equipment contains as many as 4,200 cameras, monitored by 16 centers and around 3,000 employees. The system lets the government track phones, and may soon be upgraded with facial-recognition capabilities. The equipment was manufactured by two Chinese firms, Huawei Technologies and China National Import & Export Corp (CEIEC).

As with all Chinese-made network products, we have to assume that the Chinese military is able to access the surveillance and data, and correlate it with the data in their own databases.

In London, the developer of the prestigious King's Cross 67-acre 50-building Estate was forced to abandon plans to deploy facial recognition technology throughout the site. It had already been used at a busy intersection for two years, but attempts to extend it to the entire site met with sharp opposition and a debate about the ethics of facial recognition.

Surveillance technology in London goes much deeper than King's Cross. Hikvision is generating millions of dollars in annual revenue by supplying its surveillance cameras for use on the British parliamentary estate, as well as to police, hospitals, schools, and universities throughout the country. According to Adm. Lord Alan West, "It’s rather like being able to get a Mata Hari into each office."

The same kind of thing is true in Australia, which may be more exposed to continual surveillance and spying by China's military than any other country in the world. Australia has hundreds of thousands of surveillance cameras, mostly made by Hikvision and Dahua, have been installed in local council offices, at schools and universities, on buses, in shopping centers and thousands of other public spaces across Australia. The surveillence equipment is at use at every level of government, from some of the most sensitive federal government agencies, all the way down to suburban councils.

Australian officials have already been raising alarms about the infiltration of Chinese people in the organs of Australia's government, at a time when tensions are growing sharply because of China's illegal activities in the South China Sea.

According to Fergus Hanson of Australia's Strategic Policy Institute:

"It's a real dereliction of duty to have them in military bases.

But even on the street you've got the potential to inadvertently contribute towards Chinese espionage activity by providing real time information about the situation on the ground, all over the world, and in collective terms, quite an important data feed to China."

There was even a backlash in Beijing, of all places. Parents and students at Tsinghua High School were furious when it was discovered that the school had installed surveillance cameras in all the male toilets. Officials were forced to remove the cameras.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) controversy

In the last month, public hostility in America to China took another huge leap forward, because of an event that's almost impossible to believe. The event involved the National Basketball Association (NBA), which is hugely popular in China, with millions of Chinese following the games and purchasing related products, including Nike sneakers. Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey posted a tweet supporting the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. The CCP has blocked Twitter in China, so the tweet would never be seen by Chinese, and would be quickly forgotten. But the CCP lashed out at the tweet, considering it an insult to the Chinese people, and canceled several NBA games and public events in China.

These events have substantially heightened the public's hostility to the CCP, and awareness of the CCP's dictatorial policies. Many commentators pointed out that the CCP uses violence to control public opinion in China, and is now trying to use economic weapons to extend its control of public opinion to everyone in the world.

The hostility to China has increased even further when basketball star LeBron James made comments supporting the CCP, and condemning Daryl Morey as being "uninformed." This has caused an enormous reaction in the American public. People who previously didn't know how to spell Hong Kong or who thought it was a kind of chop suey suddenly became "informed" about what's going on in Hong Kong.

LeBron's support for the CCP is particularly ironic because of his extremely vocal and vitriolic criticisms of Donald Trump in the past, including this January 18, 2018, tweet, quoting Martin Luther King: "-Injustice Anywhere Is A Threat To Justice Everywhere- Our Lives Begin To End The Day We Become Silent About Things That Matter- #ThankYouMLK50"

These events are important for three reasons.

First, these quickly moving events show how quickly simple events can escalate. This is literally how world wars have begun.

Second, these events particularly affect public attitudes towards Hikvision and other companies that are being banned. The trend has been a growing public anxiety towards surveillance equipment in general. But the massive use by China's military of AI-enhanced surveillance equipment to violate human rights in all of China, particularly in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, has focused public hostile attitudes toward surveillance equipment to hostility to surveillance equipment from China in ways we haven't seen before.

Third, these events show how easy it is for Americans to turn against each other when money is involved. Generational Dynamics predicts that once a "regeneracy event" occurs, such as a missile attack on American soil, then political differences will be dropped, and the country will unite behind the president.

Mike Pence's criticism of the NBA and Nike

Mike Pence's speech on Thursday heightened the controversy over the NBA and Nike. Pence called out the NBA and Nike for kowtowing to China:

"And far too many American multinational corporations have kowtowed to the lure of China’s money and markets by muzzling not only criticism of the Chinese Communist Party, but even affirmative expressions of American values.

Nike promotes itself as a so called “social justice champion,” but when it comes to Hong Kong, it prefers checking its social conscience at the door. Nike stores in China actually removed their Houston Rockets merchandise from their shelves to join the Chinese government in protest against the Rockets general manager’s seven-word tweet, which read: “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”

And some of the NBA’s biggest players and owners, who routinely exercise their freedom to criticize this country, lose their voices when it comes to the freedom and rights of the people of China. In siding with the Chinese Communist Party and silencing free speech, the NBA is acting like a wholly owned subsidiary of the authoritarian regime."

Pence's criticism of the NBA for hypocrisy and kowtowing to China infuriated former NBA star Charles Barkley, who has substantial money at stake. He responded as follows:

"Vice President Pence needs to shut the hell up, number one. All American companies are doing business in China. I thought the criticism of commissioner Silver and LeBron James was unfair. Daryl Morey — who I like — he can say whatever he wants to. But there are consequences.

I don’t understand why these holier-than-thou politicians — if they’re so worried about China, why don’t they stop all transactions with China? President Trump has been talking about and arguing with tariffs for China for the last two years. I think it’s unfair for them to do all their business in China and just because this thing happens try to make the NBA and our players look bad. All American companies do business in China. Period."

Several commentators have noted the hyprocrisy that Barkley feels free to criticize Pence (and Trump) in the most hostile terms with impunity, but is demanding that no one be permitted to criticize China, so that he can make money.

China's Foreign Ministry responded to Pence's speech as follows:

"The most important criteria on China's human rights situation is whether the Chinese people are satisfied. As the country advances in leaps and bounds, the Chinese people have an increasingly stronger sense of happiness and fulfillment. Our government attaches high importance to protecting and advancing human rights. During the past over four decades of reform and opening-up, China's human rights cause has seen tremendous progress that has been recognized by the world. The Chinese people now enjoy unprecedented rights and freedoms. This is a fact that no one can deny except for those obsessed with prejudice. Nearly 200 million Chinese practice various religions, of which more than 20 million are Muslim. Chinese people of all ethnic groups enjoy full religious freedom in accordance with law. ...

China's foreign policy is aboveboard as always. China pursues an independent foreign policy of peace, a path of peaceful development, a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind. China never advances its own interests at the expense of others, and its development will never pose a threat to any country. China never seeks hegemony or expansion. That's exactly why we have so many friends all over the world. Some people's attempts to wantonly label China or drive a wedge between China and other countries will never succeed. Such attempts will bring nothing but shame on those people themselves.

While arbitrarily accusing and lecturing other countries, Mr. Pence and his like have turned a blind eye to serious domestic problems in the US and tried to cover their own political malpractice by smearing other countries to divert public attention in the US. From the PRISM program to frequent, severe shootings, from extensive racial discrimination to obvious wealth gap, from arbitrary sanctions and use of force on other countries to wanton withdrawals from international agreements and treaties, there are so many cases in point proving that the US has become notorious for lack of moral principles and credibility. We advise some people in the US to carefully examine themselves in the mirror, get fully aware of their own problems and mind their own business. They should cease talking utter nonsense and stop playing mutually detrimental tricks as soon as possible."

It's always exasperating to read the CCP's comments on anything, which rarely have anything to do with the truth.

She says, "China never seeks hegemony or expansion." But China in recent decades has annexed Tibet and East Turkistan, and slaughtered, tortured, beat, raped and imprisoned millions of Buddhists and Muslims. Today, China has illegally annexed the South China Sea, in violation of internation law, and repeatedly lied about it. The CCP considers the Chinese to be the Master Race, immune from international law.

And she says that racial discrimination in America is as bad as China's human rights record, even though we are not beating, torturing, locking up and jailing millions of Mexicans and blacks.

I heard one analyst at MSNBC wonder why China would ever sign a trade deal with the US after that speech by Pence. The answer is that China is desperate to end the sanctions, which have disrupted China's relentless path to war.

John Xenakis is author of: "World View: War Between China and Japan: Why America Must Be Prepared" (Generational Theory Book Series, Book 2), June 2019, Paperback: 331 pages, with over 200 source references, $13.99


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21-Oct-19 World View -- Massive anti-government street protests paralyze Lebanon

Brief generational history of Lebanon

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

Massive anti-government street protests paralyze Lebanon

Protesters in front of the Muhammad al-Amin mosque in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, on Sunday. (EPA)
Protesters in front of the Muhammad al-Amin mosque in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, on Sunday. (EPA)

There have been four days of massive anti-government protests in Beirut, Lebanon's capital city, and in cities across Lebanon. In the country's second largest city, Tripoli, in northern Syria, and in the southern port city of Tyre, the protesters waved the Lebanon national flag, and changed "revolution" or "the people demand the fall of the regime."

These were the largest street protests in Lebanon since 2005, when Rafiq al-Hariri, the father of the current prime minister Saad al-Hariri, was killed by a massive terrorist bomb in Beirut. The assassination was blamed on Syria and on the fact that Hariri opposed Syria's influence in Lebanon. The massive street protests at that time led to the Cedar Revolution, causing the withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon.

Most popular protests in Lebanon have been highly sectarian, aligned with the Sunnis, the Shias or the Christians. However, the massive 2005 protests cut across all the sectarian blocs.

The same is true of the protests in the last four days. They've been almost completely peaceful, with some violence on the margins. Protesters have been united in criticizing the massive corruption in the government of Lebanon, and the resulting poverty, and a ballooning deficit.

The protests were triggered on Thursday by a proposed fee equal to the equivalent of 20 cents on WhatsApp calls. Making a phone call using Lebanon's antiquated phone system is expensive, so people have increasingly used WhatsApp to make the calls. But the fee proposal triggered the massive protests and the proposal was quickly withdrawn by a desperate government in the hope of ending the protests.

However, the protests continued and grew, and the government is now even more desperate, as it appears that the country will be paralyzed by the protests on Monday. The Maronite Christian Lebanese Forces party is withdrawing from the government, along with its four ministers. The country's main labor union has threatened a general strike.

Hariri has demanded that each government office implement reforms by Monday evening, including a 50% cut in salaries of numerous government officials. Protesters have been mocking these demands, since they know that the government officials will never agree to cut their own salaries. However, if the reforms are implemented, then they will unlock $11 billion in Western donor pledges and help avert economic collapse.

Brief generational history of Lebanon

Girls holding anti-government placards during protests in Beirut, Lebanon, on Sunday (AP)
Girls holding anti-government placards during protests in Beirut, Lebanon, on Sunday (AP)

Although the objectives of the protests are serious, the protests themselves are often playful, unlike, for example, the protests in Hong Kong. That's because Lebanon is in a generational Awakening era, and so the protests are similar to those in the US and Europe in the 1960s. Hong Kong and China are, by contrast, in a generational Crisis era, which means that their protests are likely to lead to full-scale war, which is not likely in the case of the Lebanon protests.

Lebanon had two generational crisis wars during the last century. The first was part of the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire (1908-22).

The second was Lebanon's civil war (1975-90), mainly between Muslims versus Christians, killing some 200,000 people. A major event occurred on September 15-16, 1982, when Maronite Christian militias massacred 2-3,000 Palestinian civilians in the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps. This act has haunted Lebanon to this day.

After a generational crisis war ends, the belligerents enter a generational Recovery Era, and the survivors of the war take steps to try to guarantee that nothing so horrible should ever happen again.

I want to take a quick side trip to describe what happened in Iran and Syria.

I've described many times how a country that goes through a generational crisis war that's also an ethnic civil war almost always follows the same pattern. The ethnic group that won the civil war takes power, and the oppresses and marginalizes the people in the losing ethnic group, sometimes resorting to extreme violence.

Iran had a crisis civil war, the Islamic Revolution of 1979, followed by the Iran/Iraq war. The leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, wrote a new constitution that gave himself complete dictatorial powers, in order to prevent a new anti-government rebellion. In 1988, Khomeini ordered the torture, rape and massacre of tens of thousands of political prisoners and political enemies. That's fairly typical of a country's Recovery era following an ethnic crisis civil war.

Syria's last generational crisis war was a religious/ethnic civil war between the Shia Alawites versus the Arab Sunnis. That war climaxed in February 1982 with the destruction of the town of Hama, which killed or displaced hundreds of thousands. This ended the war, but today, Syria's president Bashar al-Assad is still conducting genocide and ethnic cleansing of his political enemies, the Arab Sunnis.

Lebanon's Recovery Era acted somewhat differently. Instead of putting one group (the Shias, the Sunnis, the Christians) in charge of the government, which might have led to the same kind of violence as in Iran and Syria, they tried to write the constitution to balance the three sects.

Lebanon's constitution requires that the three main offices be occupied by specific sectarian groups:

This sectarian separation seems to have served Lebanon pretty well, at least as compared to Iran or Syria. But protesters see it as a source of the corruption causing the economic problems.

Each of the sects is in control of a major set of government institutions, controlling the funding and salaries for those institutions. Protesters are being quoted as saying that they can't get any government services without going through the relevant religious sect. Furthermore, each sect skims money from the institutions that it controls. Protesters are calling this the reason for Lebanon's extreme poverty.


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18-Oct-19 World View -- Generational analysis of Turkey-Syria war and ceasefire agreement

Will there be a war between Turkey and Russia?

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

Turkey and the United States agree to a ceasefire in Syria

Thursday's negotiations in Ankara.  The Turks are on the left, and the Americans are on the right, led respectively by Tayyip Recep Erdogan and Mike Pence. (AP)
Thursday's negotiations in Ankara. The Turks are on the left, and the Americans are on the right, led respectively by Tayyip Recep Erdogan and Mike Pence. (AP)

In a surprise announcement by Turkey and the United States on Thursday, Turkey agreed to a temporary ceasefire in its invasion of Syria, and to end its invasion completely if the ceasefire holds for five days.

According to reports, Turkey's president Tayyip Recep Erdogan was visibly angered by being forced to accept this ceasefire, in the face of harsh economic sanctions and threats of even more sanctions by the Trump administration.

However, the agreement specifies that Turkey will get some of what it wants, as well. The US will cooperate with Turkey to set up the buffer zone that Turkey has been demanding for five years, a strip of land in northern Syria, 32 km deep and 150 or 300 km long.

The US also agrees to destroy the heavy weapons that it provided to the Kurds to fight ISIS, and to transport the military Kurdish YPG out of the buffer zone.

Turkey is hosting 3.6 million refugees who fled across the border into Turkey to escape the violence. Erdogan has demanded to relocate 2 million of those refugees back into Syria in the buffer zone, but it's unclear that they will ever be able to accomplish this.

The rest of this article analyzes Turkey's invasion of Syria from the point of view of a Generational Dynamics analysis, and conclude with some forecasts of scenarios about what will happen next.

Turkey's long preparations for invasion of Syria

For almost two years, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been massing troops and forces on the border with Syria, in preparation for an invasion to establish a "safe zone" or "buffer zone," a strip of land 32 km (22 miles) wide in northern Syria, along the border with Turkey.

The Kurds in northeast Syria have made it clear that they want to create a Kurdish state named "Rojava" along the border. Erdogan has made it clear for years, that Turkey will not tolerate having 60,000 armed Kurds permanently located on the border with Turkey, after Turkey has been fighting an internal war with Kurd separatists and terrorists for three decades.

Turkey claims that hundreds of Turkish citizens living near the border have been killed in frequent terror attacks by the Turkistan Workers' Party (PKK) and al-Qaeda terrorists crossing the border from Syria. Erdogan has been furious for years that America and Europe haven't supported his efforts to end these terror attacks.

A major objective of Erdogan is to push the 60,000 armed Kurds and al-Qaeda terrorists back below the buffer zone.

Erdogan has also been furious for years that Europe won't provide support for any of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees that Turkey has been coasting. These 3.6 million refugees include 300,000 Kurds. The Europeans for five years have been telling Erdogan to wait, because all these 3.6 million refugees will soon return to Syria. Ironically, Erdogan's plan for the buffer zone is to provide a region for the refugees to return to.

So Erdogan has plenty of reasons to feel a growing fury, which is why he's been massing troops on the Syria border, in preparation for an invasion to create a buffer zone. Erdogan has held back because there has been an American "tripwire" force of about 26 soldiers in observation posts in Syria along Turkey's border.

On Sunday, October 6, Donald Trump spoke on the telephone with Erdogan. Apparently Erdogan told Trump that the invasion was occurring whether the "tripwire" was in place or not. Trump announced that the 26 soldiers in the tripwire would be withdrawn.

Turkey's uncontrolled invasion into Syria

After Trump's announcement the invasion began. There were 15,000 soldiers in the Turkish troops, but apparently most of them are Syrian Arabs in the Syrian National Army (SNA). In the past there have been two previous Turkish incursions into Syria, and in both cases it was SNA fighters that did most of the fighting, with Turkey providing support.

This week, there were immediately reports of the Turkish forces massacring Kurds on the ground. There was a video of an SNA Arab torturing and killing a Kurd, and bragging about it.

There were reports that Turkish/SNA forces are going farther south than was needed for the buffer zone. There were reports that Turkish airstrikes were forcing thousands of Kurdish families to flee their homes to the south. However, these reports come from media are overwhelmingly hostile to Turkey, and so it's possible that these reports are huge exaggerations. At any rate, it's impossible to verify them at the present time.

In the last 15 years, I've read about and written about hundreds of incursions, military actions, invasions, and so forth, all around the world. In some cases, the incursion is carefully controlled and organized. These are typical of non-crisis wars.

Other incursions are highly emotional, organic, uncontrolled and disorganized, and that seems to be the case with Turkey's invasion of Syria. These are typical of actions taken at the beginning of a generational crisis war.

Turkey's invasion of Syria shows all the signs of being organic and uncontrolled, not fully under the control of Turkey's armed forces command. In particular, the Arabs in the SNA appear to be responsible for the massacres, and are taking actions that are not controlled by the Turkish command.

So does this mean that Turkey and the Kurds are headed for a full-scaled generational crisis war? Absolutely not.

We have a recent example that illustrates what's most likely to happen.

The best recent analogy would be Israel's 2006 invasion of Lebanon to attack Hezbollah. Israel panicked when two Israeli soldiers were abducted near Lebanon's border, and conducted a highly emotional, organic and uncontrolled invasion of Lebanon. The war was a disaster for all involved. After a few months, the war had run its course, with nothing accomplished except to destroy a lot of Lebanon's infrastructure in airstrikes, and displace a lot of Lebanese from their homes.

The invasion of Lebanon fizzled because Lebanon was in a generatinal Awakening era. Syria is also in a generational Awakening era, so Turkey's new invasion is almost certain to fizzle unless, as we'll describe later, Russia's armed forces confront Turkey.

So, as I've been writing for the last few days in the Generational Dynamics forum, it's more likely than not that Turkey's Syria incursion will end in a few weeks. Erdogan made a statement a few days ago that the incursion will stop when it has created a buffer zone 400 km wide and 35 km deep, and that statement is credible, though it may have been superceded by Thursday's ceasefire announcement.

Dozens of warring parties and ethnic groups in Syria

Turkey's invasion of Syria appears to be a lot more uncontrolled than analysts had expected, suggesting that there's more going on than a simple action to create a buffer zone, to protect Turkey from PKK and al-Qaeda "terrorists." In fact, Turkey's last generational crisis war was the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and Turkish independence following World War I, and so Turkey is very deep into a generational crisis war. And so it's not surprising that parts of the invasion have become disorganized and uncontrolled, at least for a while.

Bashar al-Assad is a Shia/Alawite, and Syria's last generational crisis war was a religious/ethnic civil war between the Shia Alawites versus the Sunnis, including the ethnic Turkmens, climaxing in February, 1982. So there's a great deal of animus between the Alawites and the Turks. However, survivors of that Syrian civil war are still alive, and they have no desire for another bloody uncontrolled crisis war, so they will make sure that it stays controlled, despite al-Assad's genocidal tactics. So Syria is in a generational Awakening era, like Lebanon during Israel's 2006 invasion, so it's likely that Turkey's invasion of Syria will fizzle over a furious period of two or three months.

A new Syrian civil war began in 2011, but it's an Awakening era war, so it's well-controlled. It should have fizzled within a few months in 2011. But it was propelled by the sociopathic monster Bashar al-Assad, who personally pursued the war by targeting political enemies, innocent women and children in markets, schools and hospitals, using barrel bombs, chlorine gas and Sarin gas.

Even so, it's been clear from the beginning that the Syrian people themselves did not want to fight. By 2015, al-Assad himself announced publicly that he was going to lose the war, and he begged for help, which he received from Russia, in return for establishing two Russian military bases, Tartus naval base and Hmeimim airbase).

So today, here's a (partial) list of all the groups fighting in Syria:

Most of these are small groups formed on an ad-hoc basis for a specific purpose.

The Kurds themselves are not a monolithic group, as described by a member of the Generational Dynamics forum, an American soldier who fought in Iraq and Syria:

"John, When people talk about the Kurds, they are mistaken. The “Kurds” are not a monolithic group. That is a general title that has many “diverse” groups and that term is used by the lazy media. I dealt with the “Kurds.” There are radical communists “Kurds” that will snuff out the Islamic/Wahhabi “Kurds” in a heartbeat. Many are armed families that are organized into “battalions” that would be a glorified light infantry company/platoon in a western army. A tiny few hate the Turks and love killing them. Many live in Turkey and have no problems with the Turks. Like the Afghans, they will align with the big “man” for self-preservation of the tribe/ethnic group. The Turks will make nice with the “Kurds” for now; it is the least bloody way forward, since the “Kurds” make a sizeable minority in Turkey proper."

So this makes the point that there are dozens of Arab, Kurdish, Alawite and Turkish groups fighting in Syria. Each group has its own agenda, its own hatreds, its own objectives, its own allegiances, and its own set of tricks to use on Americans to get their support.

This chaos should be kept in mind by those politicians who claim that the US should send troops into Syria to defend our "allies," the Kurds. Which of those dozens of groups would the American troops be aligned with?

The rise of Russia's influence in Syria

If you look at all the list of groups fighting in Syria, you'll see that almost all of them are small ethnic or ad-hoc groups with various agendas. But not all.

In that list, there are six national armies actively fighting: Syria, Russia, Turkey, Iran, Lebanon-Hezbollah, United States.

Of these six, Syria, Iran, and Lebanon-Hezbollah have armies in generational Awakening eras, with little will to fight an expanding war.

Two of them, Turkey and Russia, are in generational Crisis eras. These two countries are historic enemies, and have fought many generational crisis wars with each other. One of those was the Crimean War of the 1850s, which was disastrous for both sides, but feelings from the Crimean war have been revived in recent years because of Russia's illegal invasion and annexation of Crimea, and expulsion of the Tatars, a Turkic ethnic group from Crimea. And there's also tension over the Bosphorus, which is controlled by Turkey, but is heavily used by Russia (and other nations) as the passage between the Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea. And of course, tensions were extremely high after Turkey "accidentally" shot down a Russian warplane in November, 2015.

Turkey and Russia know how strong their mutual xenophobia has become, and they're both aware that a small conflict could lead to a major war, which neither side wants. So Turkey and Russia have been making Herculean efforts, through the "Astana process," to stay out of each other's way, to prevent an action that could lead to a major war. This is typical of countries in a generational Crisis era, who know that a miscalculation could lead to a major generational crisis war, but instead force themselves to compromise rather than go to war. Eventually, however, compromise becomes impossible, and small incidents escalate into full-scale war.

Since 2011, Russia has been fully engaged in supporting al-Assad's genocide and ethnic cleansing of his Arab Sunni political enemies, including Turkic groups such as Turkmens. But Turkey has let Russia and al-Assad have their way, even including chlorine and Sarin gas, and has not interfered, having agreed to the farcical "de-escalation zones" in the "Astana process," because they realize that not letting the Russians get their way would mean full-scale war.

Al-Assad and Russia have used the de-escalation zone agreement to conduct full-scale genocidal war on all the people in every de-escalation zone except one. In Aleppo, Ghouta and Daraa, where Bashar al-Assad has used barrel bombs on hospitals, schools, marketplaces and residential neighborhoods, along with chlorine gas and Sarin gas, forcing people to flee to Idlib.

The remaining de-escalation zone is Idlib, in northwest Syria, on Turkey's border. Al-Assad would like to go in an exterminate all three million Arab Sunnis living in Idlib, including women and children, all of whom are "terrorists" according to al-Assad, and Russia would like to help him, but everyone knows that would be opposed militarily by Turkey, and could lead to a Russia-Turkey war. So there's a continuing tense standoff in Idlib.

Returning now to northeast Syria, we have the Kurds, who want to form their own secessionist state of Rojava on the border with Turkey. Thanks to their US-backed fight against ISIS, the Kurds now have control of a large part of Syria, including the planned state of Rojava, and gaining control of that land was a major part of their motivation to fight ISIS.

Now the Kurds have Rojava almost in their grasp, but the thought of Rojava with tens of thousands of armed Kurds on Turkey's border makes the Turks' blood run cold, as terrorist attacks in Turkey would certainly be launched from Rojava. So Turkey has invaded Syria in order to set up a buffer zone, and destroy the Rojava dream once and for all.

Will there be a war between Turkey and Russia?

The Kurdish Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) has been threatening for a year to make an agreement Bashar al-Assad for the protection of the Kurds from Turkey. The SDF has formalized the deal in the last few days, and the Syrian Army has been moving north to protect the Kurds.

In response, Russian special forces have been moving into northeast Syria, taking over some of the responsibilities that the US military previously had, to keep SDF and Turkish forces separated as much as possible.

Many of the hysterical news reports on the situation have been blaming Trump for ceding American influence to Russia in the Mideast.

So let me be clear about this, as I repeat what I've said in one way or another for 15 years.

Russia is not America's enemy. Russia is the enemy of Georgia and Ukraine, but not America, and not Western Europe. Our enemy is China, not Russia. The Russian people love us, the Chinese people not so much (except for the Cantonese speakers in Hong Kong).

As I've written many times, in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be our enemies, and our allies will be India, Russia and Iran.

So despite the hysteria in the mainstream media, I'm not the least bit concerned that Russia is gaining influence in the Mideast. Russia and Iran will be our allies in WW III, and China will be our enemy.

The more immediate question is whether there will soon be a war between Turkey and Russia, the two generational Crisis era countries with a long, bitter history of bloody wars. As I said earlier, Turkey and Russia have been taking steps, usually through the "Astana process," to stay out of each other's way, to prevent an action that could lead to a major war. Russia's actions to keep Syria's army separated from Turkey's forces and the SDF are another action of that type.

But how effective will Russia's efforts be? Recall the earlier analogy -- Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 2006. That war fizzled, as I said, but not overnight. The war went on for over two months. During that time, the Israelis were highly emotional and uncontrolled, and they made one disastrous mistake after another, while the Hezbollah fighters were much cooler, setting off rockets into Israeli territory, and then going home to their wives.

The Turks have been massing on the Syria border for months, and they made an emotional, uncontrolled invasion into Syria. I would be very, very surprised if that uncontrolled invasion suddenly ended, thanks to an agreement between Turkey and the United States. I would expect the ceasefire to fall apart within a few days, and for fighting to resume. However, a ceasefire could succeed within a couple of months.

So the real question is: What are the Russians going to do? Will they sit back and let the incursions by Turkish and Arab SNA forces continue? If so, then the war will fizzle within a couple of months.

Or will the Russians respond with military force directed at Turkey? That's the major risk, because that's how major wars start.

What happens next in Syria does not depend on what the US does. It depends on what Russia does. If Russia remains controlled, then the war will play itself out within 2-3 months. If Russia becomes more aggressive or uncontrolled, then a larger war will result.


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13-Oct-19 World View -- Ecuador's president Moreno imposes curfew after 10 days of violent protests

China deploys mass surveillance spy system in Ecuador

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

Ecuador's president Moreno imposes curfew after 10 days of violent protests

Anti-government protesters in Quito, Ecuador, on Tuesday (AP)
Anti-government protesters in Quito, Ecuador, on Tuesday (AP)

Ecuador's president Lenin Moreno Garces has imposed a curfew on Quito, the capital city, after 10 days of violent protests that have paralyzed the city. Protesters on Saturday blocked road access to the city's international airport and set fire to the national auditor's office as police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets and authorities imposed water and power cuts across the city.

The violence was so bad that Moreno moved his government base from Quito to the coastal city of Guayaquil earlier this week to escape the violence.

The protests were led by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE). The indigenous groups are the ethnic groups that occupied this region prior to arrival of the European conquerors. Today, there's a major social fault line between the indigenous people and the descendants of the European invaders. The principal indigenous groups are the Shuar and the Cañari Kichwa.

The protests were triggered by a plan to end fuel subsidies. Ending fuel subsidies would increase gasoline (petrol) prices by 1/3, and would double diesel fuel prices.

On March 11, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a $4.2 billion bailout for Ecuador, subject to certain conditions:

"The aim is to reduce debt-to-GDP ratio through a combination of a wage bill realignment, a careful and gradual optimization of fuel subsidies, a reprioritization of capital and goods and services spending, and a tax reform. ...

The authorities are committed to supporting job creation, restoring competitiveness and catalyzing private sector-led growth while increasing transparency and forcefully countering corruption. A more efficient tax system, public wage restraint, facilitating the hiring process, and a more efficient energy sector are important components of the authorities’ plan in this area."

Having accepted the IMF bailout money, Ecuador is now committed to implementing the austerity measures, including "the careful and gradual optimization of fuel subsidies."

Some of the rioters are demanding that the government ignore the IMF's austerity requirements, and keep the fuel subsidies. Conaie agreed late Saturday to negotiations. This is an ongoing situation, and it's possible that Moreno's government will not survive.

Ecuador caught in massive debt trap by China

Rafael Vicente Correa Delgado was Moreno's predecessor as president between 2007-2017. When Correa first took office in 2007, he advocated for indigenous people’s rights and sustainable development, and the end of “exploitative capitalism” by mainly American and European investors.

The end of "exploitative capitalism" meant that Correa would refuse to pay back $3.2 billion in foreign debt.

So having defaulted on debt to US and European investors, Correa invited investments from Chinese investors, and went on a spending spree with money loaned by China. Today, Ecuador owes $6.5 billion to China.

In December 2018, Ecuadorian president Moreno visited Beijing and obtained an additional $900 million in loans from China, as part of a Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) cooperation deal with China.

I've written about a number of China's "debt trap diplomacy" deals with many countries. China designs these agreement so that it's almost impossible for the debtor country to make its payments. The terms of these agreements are kept top secret, because they usually involve corruption and kickbacks, and because the allow China to take control of a country's infrastructure, such as a seaport, as an inevitable consequence of default. Since the agreement specify that China takes control of the debtor's assets, there's no need to impose austerity requirements, as the IMF does.

So even the $900 million loan in December wasn't enough to save Ecuador from default, and so Ecuador had to obtain a further $2.4 billion bailout from the IMF.

There are some groups in Ecuador that are demanding that the government simply not pay back the IMF loan, in the same way that Correa refused to pay back the $3.2 billion that Ecuador owed to US and European investors in 2007. However, that won't work this time, since the IMF bailout money will only be disbursed over a three year period.

As we said, this is an ongoing situation, and Morena may not survive in office.

Indigenous people demand closure of China's copper and gold mines

Ecuador has a 750 km stretch of mostly undeveloped deposits of copper, silver, gold and zinc. Starting in 2015, China has taken a leading role in mining those minerals. China has ownership or joint ownership of three mines: the Mirador and San Carlos-Panantza copper mines, and the Rio Blanco gold mine.

The mines are all being developed in the midst of indigenous people's villages. When the Chinese first arrived, they promised that the local people would benefit from the mines. However, as is usual with Chinese projects, the jobs are all taken by imported Chinese workers, and the locals receive nothing, although their land is taken, their roads and lakes are blocked. The Mirador copper mine has turned 1,300 hectares of rainforest into an open pit mine.

Indigenous people affected by the mines are planning protests, but they have little hope. This is another ongoing situation.

China deploys mass surveillance spy system in Ecuador

During the last four years, China has installed a vast surveillance system, known as the ECU-911 system, that can be used to spy on all Ecuadorian citizens.

The China-made surveillance equipment contains as many as 4,200 cameras, monitored by 16 centers and around 3,000 employees. The system lets the government track phones, and may soon be upgraded with facial-recognition capabilities. The equipment was manufactured by two Chinese firms, Huawei Technologis and China National Import & Export Corp (CEIEC).

Outside of Ecuador, similar systems have been sold to Venzuela, Bolivia, and Angola. As many as 18 countries worldwide are currently using Chinese-made monitoring systems.

As with all Chinese-made network products, we have to assume that the Chinese military is able to access the surveillance and data, and correlate it with the data in their own databases.


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11-Oct-19 World View -- Turkey defends Syria invasion, despite almost universal condemnation

Turkey's Erdogan responds to European Union's threat with his own threat

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

European Union threatens Turkey, after Syria invasion

EU Parliament VP Federica Mogherini.  She could be a lot hotter if she learned how to smile.
EU Parliament VP Federica Mogherini. She could be a lot hotter if she learned how to smile.

Turkey is receiving almost universal international condemnation for launching its long-planned military invasion of northern Syria. Turkey has been massing forces on the border for a year, with the objective of setting up a buffer zone in northern Syria, and neutralizing the PKK terrorists living there. In the long run, Turkey would also like to relocate some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees that it's hosting into the buffer zone.

Officials from countries around the world are demanding that Turkey end the invasion immediately.

The most interesting condemnation is a speech by EU Parliament VP Federica Mogherini, in which she made the following farcical statement:

"The Turkish operation into north-east Syria can open a new dramatic chapter in the already very dark history of the Syrian war.

The potential consequences of such military action are clear to everyone – at least are very clear to us. The repercussions can be extremely serious in humanitarian, military, political and strategic terms. For all these reasons, we call upon Turkey to immediately stop its unilateral military action. ...

But Turkey’s legitimate security concerns should be addressed through political and diplomatic means, not military action, in accordance with international humanitarian law. We urge all to always ensure the protection of civilians and unhindered, safe and sustainable humanitarian access throughout Syria.

Our goal remains to help the Syrian people build a united, sovereign, democratic and inclusive Syria.

A sustainable solution to the Syrian crisis will not come through military means. I think that this is very clear to all, at least this is very clear to us Europeans. The only way to achieve peace and security in Syria is the full implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 2254 under UN auspices."

I suppose that I shouldn't be so hard on Mogherini. After all what else can she say? She's just a puppet saying what she has to say. If she said something different, she'd just be replaced by a different puppet.

United Nations makes new delusional statements on Syria

Mogherini's statement is completely delusional. UN Security Council Resolution 2254, adopted on December 15, 2015, says that everyone in Syria should stop fighting and expresses support for "a Syrian-led political process that is facilitated by the United Nations and, within a target of six months, establishes credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance and sets a schedule and process for drafting a new constitution, and further expresses its support for free and fair elections." This is totally laughable.

Against that, we have the psychopathic, sociopathic monster president Bashar al-Assad of Syria, who freely uses barrel bombs, chlorine gas and Sarin gas on women and children, in order to exterminate his political enemies, and who is supported by Iran, who wants a clear path to Israel and the Mediterranean Sea, and which routinely uses torture, rape, beatings and murder itself.

Al-Assad is also supported by Russia, which doesn't care about al-Assad's use of chemical weapons and genocide, as long as it gets its military bases at Tartus and Hmeimim. Russia, which has no hesitation to commit genocide when it's convenient, also loves the Kurds because they're Communists.

Since 2012, the United Nations Security Council has put forth one farcical resolution after another. Bashar al-Assad, Russia and Iran have used these as cover for their use of barrel bombs, chlorine gas, Sarin gas and genocide of women and children. Bashar al-Assad has made fools of one credulous UN envoy after another -- Kofi Annon, Lakhdar Brahimi, Staffan de Mistura. Obviously, the same kind of thing is happening now with Mogherini. If United Nations officials didn't have delusional thoughts, then they wouldn't have any thoughts at all.

Turkey's Erdogan responds to European Union's threat with his own threat

So everyone, including Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, knows that UN Security Council Resolution 2254 is completely farcical. But as we said, what else can Mogherini say, except her ridiculously delusional statement.

Turkey has been hosting 3.6 million Syrian refugees, and 300,000 of them are Syrian Kurds, who have fled the violence of Syria's civil war. Erdogan has frequently expressed anger at the EU for not supporting Turkey, which is a Nato member, although after years of negotiations, the EU did agree to pay some financial assistance (3 billion euros) for the refugees. However, in her speech, Mogherini threatened to limit this financial assistance.

Erdogan responded on Thursday in a speech to his governing party:

"The objective of our operation is to avoid the establishment of a terror state in the south. That’s what we are working for.

Just like other operations conducted by Turkey, the objective of the Peace Spring is to contribute to the territorial integrity and political unity of Syria. It’s quite obvious that one can talk about the territorial integrity and political unity of this country while one-fourth of its territories are under the occupation of the PKK/YPG."

Erdogan referred to the 300,000 Syrian Kurdish refugees that Turkey is hosting, and the Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) political party in Turkey.

"Let’s first see this. They are still in our country. Why don’t we talk about it? America does not see this, nor does the EU. To whom will we explain all these? Then we should tell this to our own people. There is a political party at the parliament which takes support from a terror organization. They will never see but we will let them see one way or another.

You [the HDP] cannot describe our operation as an invasion. You cannot depict our army as an invading force."

Erdogan responded to Mogherini's threat to cut off financial assistance to Turkey for hosting the 3.6 million refugees with a threat of his own:

"Hey, European Union! Pull yourself together. I repeat it: If you try to describe our operation as an invasion, we will do what’s easy for us: we will open the doors and send 3.6 million refugees to you. ...

You have not given anything to us for our efforts (to host refugees). It was us who spent $40 billion. We’ll continue our path by spending the same amount of money, but we will then open the doors.

You cannot remain silent when terror organizations attack Turkey."

ISIS prisoners in limbo

Syria camps for displaced people.  Families of ISIS prisoners are in Roj, Ain ISSA, and al-Hol. (BBC)
Syria camps for displaced people. Families of ISIS prisoners are in Roj, Ain ISSA, and al-Hol. (BBC)

Thousands of displaced Syrians are living in temporary camps. The families of suspected ISIS prisoners are help in three of them, Roj, Ain ISSA, and al-Hol, which house 1,700, 12,900 and 68,000 people, respectively. Al-Hol is about 60 km from Turkey and so would not be in the proposed buffer zone. More than 94% of the people at al-Hol are women and children, and 11,000 are foreign nationals.

Many of the ISIS prisoners are being guarded by Kurdish forces, and their disposition is now the subject of finger-pointing. Donald Trump says that some EU officials have asked him to transfer them to Guantánamo prison, which he refused. Trump has asked the EU nations to take back their own citizens that went to Syria to join ISIS, but they're refusing.

Mogherini is demanding that Turkey take full responsibility for them, but whether that will happen remains to be seen.

Anti-war politicians blame Donald Trump

Mostly left-wing politicians in Washington are blaming Donald Trump for causing the invasion by withdrawing 50 soldiers from observation posts in Syria near the Turkey border. This is laughable, considering that Turkey has been massing forces on the border for a year in preparation for this invasion, and 50 troops would have made no difference.

Trump says that the original agreement with the Kurds was that we'd provide support, weapons and money for 30 to 90 days until ISIS was defeated, and then we'd leave. Trump says that there was never any commitment to protect the Kurds forever.

Now we're hearing that Democrats want US soldiers to intervene to protect the Kurds. I've been through this too many times. Anti-war democrats supported the Iraq war before it happened, but then later pretended that they had opposed the war all along.

So here we go again. Let's get US soldiers involved in the war between Turks and Kurds, so that later we can pretend we were against doing anything of the sort, and then we can impeach again.

As regular readers know, Generational Dynamics predicts that there is an approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, pitting the "axis" of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries against the "allies," the US, India, Russia and Iran. Part of it will be a major new war between Jews and Arabs, re-fighting the bloody the war of 1948-49 that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. The war between Jews and Arabs will be part of a major regional war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, Jews versus Arabs, and various ethnic groups against each other.

Although all of those wars are coming with absolutely certainty, it's impossible to predict the exact scenarios that will bring them about. One possible scenario is that they will be triggered by a war in northern Syria.

One thing is certain: World War III will occur whether the 50 US soldiers are withdrawn or not.


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8-Oct-19 World View -- Turkey poised to invade Syria to set up 'safe zone'

Donald Trump announces troop withdrawal from Syria

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

Turkey poised to invade Syria to set up 'safe zone'

Map showing the buffer zone or safe zone in Syria (Anadolu)
Map showing the buffer zone or safe zone in Syria (Anadolu)

For over a year, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been demanding to invade Syria and set up a "safe zone" or "buffer zone," a strip of land 20 miles wide in northern Syria, along the border with Turkey. The plans have always been blocked by president Donald Trump and by the presence of American troops in the region, which would mean that an invasion by Turkish troops would result in a military clash between two members of Nato.

Erdogan's objectives in setting up the buffer zone include the following:

Erdogan has wanted to put this plan into effect for over a year, but was prevented from doing so by the Trump and the United States. However, in the last couple of months, Erdogan has evidently told Trump that Turkey will go ahead with the invasion whether American troops are present or not.

Donald Trump announces troop withdrawal from Syria

When President Trump last year announced his intention to withdraw US troops from northeast Syria, it drew many protests, and was given as the reason for the resignation of James Mattis as Defense Secretary.

The protests accused Trump of leaving the Kurds to the mercy of Turkey and Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who views all Kurds as terrorists. However, it was the Kurds, with the help of American airstrikes, who defeated ISIS and ejected them from their caliphate in Raqqa. The Kurds claim that the Americans promised to stay and protect them from Turkey, but the Americans claim that no such promise was made. The Kurds are now saying that they've been betrayed and "stabbed in the back."

Trump delayed the withdrawal because of the huge controversy, but now has has issued the following statement:

"The Kurds fought with us, but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so. They have been fighting Turkey for decades. I held off this fight for ... almost 3 years, but it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home. WE WILL FIGHT WHERE IT IS TO OUR BENEFIT, AND ONLY FIGHT TO WIN."

Trump's statement follows a meeting last week with Erdogan, and a phone call of Sunday with Erdogan. Erdogan threatened to begin a military invasion of Syria whether the US troops were there or not, and the withdrawal of American troops prevents a confrontation with Turkish troops.

Turkey commits to responsibility for captured ISIS fighters

Erdogan and Trump meet in June
Erdogan and Trump meet in June

Another issue is that the successful Kurdish fight against ISIS resulted in tens of thousands of ISIS prisoners. These ISIS fighters originally came from other countries, especially European countries, to join ISIS. As part of the current agreement, Turkey will take responsibility for all the ISIS fighters held as prisoners.

A White House statement said:

"The United States Government has pressed France, Germany, and other European nations, from which many captured ISIS fighters came, to take them back, but they did not want them and refused. The United States will not hold them for what could be many years and great cost to the United States taxpayer. Turkey will now be responsible for all ISIS fighters in the area captured over the past two years."

Trump tweeted:

"When I arrived in Washington, ISIS was running rampant in the area. We quickly defeated 100% of the ISIS Caliphate, ... including capturing thousands of ISIS fighters, mostly from Europe.

But Europe did not want them back, they said you keep them USA! I said 'NO, we did you a great favor and now you want us to hold them in U.S. prisons at tremendous cost. They are yours for trials.' They ... again said 'NO,' thinking, as usual, that the U.S. is always the 'sucker,' on NATO, on Trade, on everything."

South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who almost always supports Trump, opposed Trump's withdrawal decision.

"The biggest lie being told by the administration [is] that ISIS is defeated. This impulsive decision by the president has undone all the gains we've made, thrown the region into further chaos. ... I hope I'm making myself clear how shortsighted and irresponsible this decision is in my view."

Senator Marco Rubio joined Graham and other Republican senators in criticizing Trump's decision.

The Washington debate over a bloodbath in Syria

There is a very passionate debate going on in Washington over this decision, and it's a relief that it's a real debate, not like the impeachment crap.

Some of the criticism is motivated by hatred of Trump by people who don't have a clue who the Kurds are. In some cases, people opposing the withdrawal of troops fighting jihadists in Syria are the same people who, twelve years ago, demanded the withdrawal of troops fighting jihadists in Iraq, because they hated George Bush.

Those who sincerely oppose the decision to withdraw have several reasons.

One reason is that they fear a bloodbath as Turkish forces invade villages occupied by Kurds and their families in northease Syria. Erdogan has said that this fear is unjustified, as Turkish forces have already taken control of of al-Bab and Jarabulus in midwestern Syria, and there was no Kurdish bloodbath.

Another reason is the loss of American credibility from betraying our allies, the Kurds. America also abandoned the Kurds in Iraq when they were attacked by Saddam Hussein.

One of the biggest reasons for concern is the possible resurgence of ISIS. Although the ISIS Caliphate in Raqqa has been eliminated, there are still about 10,000 ISIS fighters being held by the Kurds in a prison camp in the desert, along with tens of thousands of their family members. The ISIS fighters are still being funded, and in the chaos of a clash between Turkish and Kurdish forces, they could regroup and recapture territory.

On Monday, Donald Trump gave the reasons for the withdrawal in several press conferences on Monday.

He pointed out that it was only small pullout. He said that only a few dozen soldiers are being pulled back from observation posts in a region on the border where Turkey will be entering Syria. It's believed that further pullouts will follow later.

Trump also said that he didn't want American troops to be in Syria for ever, and he asked if we can't withdraw troops now, then when can we?

Trump said that the Kurds and the Turks have been fighting for centuries, and it's not up to the Americans to keep them apart forever. The implication is that he expects a clash, and he doesn't want the American forces to be involved. In the past, Trump has made similar remarks about wanting to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, but political pressures have prevented him from doing it.

This whole debate gets to the heart of America's role in the world since the end of World War II. As I've discussed many times, president Harry Truman adopted the Truman Doctrine that made America policeman of the world. John F. Kennedy repeated and emphasized this principle in his inauguration speech: Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.

The justification given for the Truman Doctrine was as follows: It's better to pay a small amount of blood and treasure now to resolve a small clash than to wait and allow the clash to expand into another world war, with massive costs in blood and treasure. This argument was made at a time when people said that if Hitler had been killed in 1935, there would have been no world war or Holocaust.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is a completely flawed analysis. World War II and the Holocaust would have occurred with or without Hitler. A small American expenditure in blood and treasure will have no effect whatsoever on whether there is another world war.

So the withdrawal from Syria may have political or legacy implications, but it won't cause or prevent a major war. The withdrawal from Syria is all determined by political pressure, and it's even that political pressures may force Trump to reverse his withdrawal plans for Syria again.


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2-Oct-19 World View -- Teenage protester shot by policeman in Hong Kong's worst day of violence

Hong Kong violence may be reaching a boiling point

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

Teenage protester shot by policeman in Hong Kong's worst day of violence

Riot police fire projectiles against protesters in Hong Kong on Tuesday (Sky News)
Riot police fire projectiles against protesters in Hong Kong on Tuesday (Sky News)

A protester in Hong Kong was shot by a policeman at point-blank range on Tuesday. He's in the hospital in critical condition. The police say he shot in self-defense.

This was the highlight of the worst day of violence since the pro-democracy protests began 17 weeks ago.

The violence in Hong Kong was a vivid contrast to Tuesday's activities in Beijing. Tuesday was the 70th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, and there were massive military parades and highly nationalistic speeches the entire day.

Hong Kong violence may be reaching a boiling point

Something that's been coming across for weeks in the TV coverage of the Hong Kong riots, much more than in the print coverage, is that they are becoming much more vitriolic and tribal. The police hate the protesters, and the protesters hate the police, especially after today's events, and there's no turning back.

I've been following a lot of anti-government protests for many years, and I've developed a feeling for which ones are more serious than others.

So, for example, the recent pro- and anti-Brexit protests in London were all just kids having fun. The same is true of just about any protest on the mall in Washington DC.

Even violence doesn't necessarily trigger the worst conflicts. I'm thinking of the various student protests in Iran. The thugs in Iran's security forces always go out and beat, rape, torture and jail innocent protesters, but once the period of protest end, there doesn't seem to be any residual violence.

Even the Hong Kong umbrella protests in 2014 did not seem to be a major problem. Everyone seemed to follow the unwritten rules of peaceful protests: The protesters are allowed to chant, block roads, occupy buildings, and even do a little bit of property damage. The police are allowed use physical force, water cannons, tear gas, and even mass arrests. At the end of the day, everybody has had fun, and can go home and brag about it.

But my view is that the Hong Kong protests are becoming increasingly vitriolic, on a trend line for a lot more violence. At the social media level, many mainland postings encourage violence against the protesters, and Hong Kong postings are contemptuous of mainlanders. Protesters and police have been describing each other in increasingly vitriolic and hate-filled terms.

And recall that in mid-July, pro-democracy protesters and ordinary civilians were violently attacked by unidentified men in white shirts, later identified as criminal members of "Triad" gangs. The attack was well-organized, and it is believed that the attacks were organized by Beijing security forces, who didn't want to be seen getting their own hands dirty. The Hong Kong police watched the attacks, but made no attempt to intervene, or to respond to injured civilians begging for help.

As I've written in the past, Hong Kong is on the fault line between northern and southern China. ( "22-Jun-19 World View -- Hong Kong protests show historic split between northern and southern China")

Southeast China was the starting point of the last two massive Chinese anti-government rebellions. Mao Zedong's Long March that led to the Communist revolution civil war (1934-49) started in the south. The massive Taiping Rebellion (1852-64), which was led by a Christian convert who believed he was the son of God and the younger brother of Jesus, began in the south and spread north.

The ethnic fault line between north and south is just as active today as it ever was, and China is overdue for a new north-south rebellion. That's why the increasing signs of hatred and vitriol between protesters and police in Hong Kong are significant.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials have been relatively restrained so far. They had hoped that the Hong Kong protests would fizzle before the October 1 anniversary celebration. They were restrained, with the result that the Hong Kong riots overshadowed the anniversary celebrations in Beijing to some extent.

What next? The Hong Kong anti-Beijing activists have hardened their positions, and they claim that they will continue their violent protests. The CCP officials are also hardening their positions. Their only hope is that the protests will fizzle in the months to come. But nobody believes that would end them permanently. The CCP officials know that at some point in the next few months they're going to have to send in the army to bash heads. (Paragraph corrected, 2-Oct)


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