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[l] at 8/19/22 2:59am
On August 12, 2022, President Yoon Suk-yeol approved a list of those subject to a special amnesty on the occasion of the 77th anniversary of the liberation of Korea from Japanese colonial rule. It comprises 1,693 people, including major businessmen. They include Samsung Electronics chairman Lee Jae-yong, who was previously released from prison on parole, Lotte Group president Shin Dong-bin, Dongkuk Steel Mill CEO Jang Se-joo, former STX Group chairman Kang Duk-soo and several trade union activists. Former ROK President Lee Myung-bak was not on the list, although the Suwon District Prosecutor’s Office decided on June 28 to grant a request to suspend his sentence of serving a prison term for three months. This was because of a deteriorating health condition (diabetes and a number of other chronic illnesses) so Lee is currently staying in a designated medical facility. It should be recalled that in October 2018, Lee received a 15-year prison sentence on charges of bribery and embezzlement, with the evidence against him being more real than against Park Geun-hye. The court found that Lee was the de facto owner of DAS and that he used his presidential power to benefit the company and himself, including accepting a bribe of 5.9 billion won from Samsung. Older age, on the other hand, immediately raised the issue of amnesty, but the ex-president’s misadventures lasted a long time. In March 2019, Lee was released on bail for health reasons and in June 2019, Lee Myung-bak was hospitalized, with rumors claiming he had been diagnosed with cancer. Although three or four amnesties were granted during the Moon rule, Lee’s name was not on the lists. Moreover, in January 2020, prosecutors asked an appeals court to increase Lee Myung-bak’s prison term to 23 years and raise the fine from 13 to 32 billion won ($27.3 million). While demanding a heavier prison term, the prosecution pointed out that the ex-president had not repented of his misdeeds. The prosecution had declared him guilty of accepting bribes from the National Intelligence Service and Samsung Electronics, as well as corporate tax evasion and misappropriation of funds from DAS, of which he was the beneficial owner. However, the Seoul High Court suspended the execution of the sentence pending the ruling of the ROK Supreme Court on a re-appeal and Lee Myung-bak was released from prison on February 25, 2020 and placed under house arrest six days after he had been remanded in custody. On April 16, 2021 Lee Myung-bak was hospitalized again. Shortly thereafter, on April 21, after the Conservatives had won the 2021 by-elections, Moon Jae-in met with newly elected mayors of Seoul and Busan, Oh Se-hoon and Park Hyung-joon. They suggested that the president should consider an amnesty for imprisoned ex-presidents. On April 29, in a video message to the nation, Moon reiterated that the decision to pardon former president Lee Myung-bak would be based on the law and public opinion. And public opinion, according to a poll conducted on April 29-30 by the Korean Society Opinion Institute, was rather against it: 51.7 per cent do not want a pardon. In 2022, Lee was not included in the amnesty for Buddha’s birthday on May 8, 2021.  On June 8, 2022, 81-year-old Lee Myung-bak petitioned the Suwon District Prosecutor’s Office in Anyang to suspend his sentence, citing health problems, while conservative party leader Kweon Seong-dong said Lee’s pardon was necessary to promote national unity. What is a suspension? Under the Criminal Procedure Act, a sentence of imprisonment may be suspended if it is feared that continued imprisonment may result in serious ill health or pose a risk of death. Such a suspension may also be granted in cases where the convicted person is over the age of 70. And Lee has been admitted to and discharged from hospital several times for chronic conditions such as diabetes. But on the same day, the already new, conservative Yoon Suk-yeol said that Lee Myung-bak’s potential pardon is “not an issue to talk about now”. These remarks were seen as an intention to distance themselves from the growing debate on Lee’s pardon, especially as it was Yoon who found most of the key evidence when he served as prosecutor. However, Yoon’s other remarks made around the same time said that after Moon’s pardon of Park Geun-hye, it was unfair to keep Lee behind bars and there were rumors that he might be granted a special pardon on the occasion of National Liberation Day on August 15. So, on June 9, Yoon Suk-yeol said he did not think Lee Myung-bak should be kept in prison for decades, given similar cases in the past. Lee Myung-bak was once again hospitalized on June 27, and the next day, on June 28, the Suwon Prosecutor’s Office announced a temporary three-month suspension of his imprisonment for health reasons. Incidentally, Lee had earlier, back in December 2020, applied for a suspension of his imprisonment, citing fears of COVID-19 contamination, but his request was rejected. While the ex-president was in Seoul National University Hospital, a selection committee for the amnesty began its work at the end of July. But while the conservative media wrote on July 27 that judging by the general atmosphere, things are looking up for Lee Myung-bak to be released since then Yoon Suk-yeol’s rating has flown down and there are fears that controversial pardons for Lee or other politicians will only exacerbate the decline.  Therefore, according to ruling party officials, President Yoon decided to reduce the number of politicians to be pardoned to a minimum. On August 9, the pardon review board of the Ministry of Justice decided to remove Lee Myung-bak from the list of persons eligible for a special amnesty. The former South Gyeongsang provincial governor Kim Kyung-soo, who was convicted in the Druking case, was also omitted. The board found that the politicians were unrepentant and also took into account negative public opinion regarding their pardon. Although Yoon may have accepted the board’s recommendations only in part, Lee Myung-bak will still be imprisoned. It is clear that none of the convicted presidents served their term to the end, but the author is relentless in pointing out that Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo, who were convicted of coup détat, spent less time behind bars than Park Geun-hye, whom the Moon regime at one stage openly tried to starve out by effectively denying her the right level of medical care. Lee’s situation is in the middle, and if he is indeed as seriously ill as is being reported, the suspension on health grounds could theoretically be extended in anticipation of a more favorable time. Lee has even less chance of returning to politics than Park, although many in the current president’s team “rose to stardom” during his reign. Konstantin Asmolov, PhD in History, leading research fellow at the Center for Korean Studies of the Institute of China and Modern Asia, the Russian Academy of Sciences, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.  

[Category: Columns, Eastern Asia, Featured, Locations, Politics, South Korea]

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[l] at 8/18/22 12:00pm
A great humanitarian uproar in recent weeks demanding the safe shipping of Ukrainian grain to ease a hunger crisis in Africa and elsewhere is deceptive on many levels. Not the least is who owns the land on which the grain is grown and whether that grain is actually illegal GMO patented corn and other grains. A corrupt Zelenskyy regime has quietly made deals with the major GMO agribusiness companies in the West who have been stealthily taking control of some of the world’s most productive “black earth” farmland. The 2014 CIA Coup In February 2014 a US Government-backed coup d’etat forced the elected president of Ukraine to flee for his life to Russia. In December 2013 President Viktor Yanukovych had announced following months of debate that Ukraine would join the Russian Eurasian Economic Union on promise of a $15 billion Russian purchase of Ukraine state debt and 33% reduction in cost of imported Russian gas. The competing offer had been a paltry “associate membership” in the EU tied to Ukraine acceptance of a draconian IMF and World Bank loan package that would force the privatization of Ukraine’s invaluable agriculture land, allow planting GMO crops, as well as imposing severe pension cuts and social austerity. In return for a $17 billion IMF loan, Ukraine would also have to raise personal income taxes by as much as 66% and to pay 50% more for natural gas. Workers would have to work ten years longer to get pensions. The aim was to open Ukraine to “foreign investment.” The usual IMF rape of the economy on behalf of globalist corporate interests. A key provision of the US and IMF demands on the post-coup government of US-picked Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk , a leader of the CIA-backed Maiden protests against Yanukovych, was to finally open Ukraine’s rich agriculture land to foreign Agribusiness giants, above all GMO giants including Monsanto and DuPont. Three of the Yatsenyuk cabinet , including the key Finance and Economy ministers, were foreign nationals, dictated to Kiev by the US State Department’s Victoria Nuland and then-Vice President Joe Biden. The Washington-imposed IMF loan conditions required that Ukraine also reverse its ban on genetically engineered crops, and enable private corporations like Monsanto to plant its GMO seeds and spray the fields with Monsanto’s Roundup. Since Ukraine declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, keeping control of Ukraine’s precious “black earth” land has been one of the most heated issues in national politics. Recent polls show 79% of Ukrainians want to retin control of their land from foreign takeover. Ukraine, as southern Russia, is home to valuable black earth or chernozems, a dark, humus-rich soil that is very productive and needs little artificial fertilizer. 2001 Moratorium A 2001 Ukraine law imposed a moratorium on private sale of farmland to larger companies or foreign investors. The moratorium was to halt buy up by corrupt Ukrainian oligarchs and their leasing to foreign agribusiness of the rich farmlands. By then Monsanto and other Western agribusiness had made significant inroads into Ukraine. When Ukraine left the Soviet Union in 1991, farmers who had worked on the Soviet collective farms were each given small plots of the land. To prevent sale of the plots to hungry foreign agribusiness, the 2001 moratorium was voted. Seven million Ukrainian farmers owned small plots totaling some 79 million acres. The remaining 25 million acres were owned by the state. Cultivation of GMO crops was strictly illegal. Despite the moratorium, Monsato, DuPont, Cargill and other Western GMO purveyors secretly and illegally began spreading their patented GMO seeds in the black earth of Ukraine. Small landowners would lease their land to large Ukrainian oligarchs, who in turn would enter secret agreements with Monsanto and others to plant GMO corn and soybeans. By the end of 2016 according to a now-deleted US Department of Agriculture report, about 80% of Ukraine’s soybeans, and 10% of corn, were grown illegally from genetically modified seed. The Zelenskyy 2021 law has allowed this open door to GMO to be vastly expanded. Enter the Comedian In May 2019 Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a Ukrainian TV comedian, a protégé of notoriously corrupt Ukraine oligarch, Igor Kolomoisky, was elected President in a tragic popular revolt “against government corruption.” One of Zelenskyy’s first acts in 2019 was to try to overturn the 2001 land moratorium. Farmers and citizens staged huge protests throughout 2020 to block the changes proposed by Zelenskyy. Finally, taking advantage of the covid lockdown restrictions and bans on public protests, in May 2021 Zelenskyy signed Bill No. 2194, deregulating land, calling it the “key” to the “farmland market.” He was right. In a sneaky move to calm farmer opposition, Zelensky claimed the new law allows only Ukrainian citizens to buy or sell the valuable farmland in the first few years. He did not mention the huge loophole allowing foreign-owned companies like Monsanto (today part of Bayer AG) or DuPont (now Corteva), or other companies which have been operating in Ukraine more than three years, to also buy the desired land. The 2021 law also gave ownership to notoriously corrupt municipal and village governments who can change the land purpose. After January 2024 Ukraine citizens as well as corporations can buy up to 10,000 hectares of land. And an April, 2021 amendment to the land market law “On Amendments to the Land Code of Ukraine and other Legislative Acts concerning the improvement of the management system and deregulation in the field of land relations” opened another huge loophole for foreign agribusiness to take control of the rich Ukraine black earth. The amendment circumvents the ban on sale of land to foreigners by changing the purpose of the land, say from cropland to commercial land. Then it can be sold to anyone, including foreigners who can in turn repurpose it to farmland. Zelenskyy signed the bill and went back on his campaign pledge to hold a national referendum on any change in land ownership. Should there be any doubt as to interest of US GMO-linked agribusiness in grabbing Ukraine prime farmland, a look at the current Board of Directors of the US-Ukraine Business Council is instructive. It includes the largest private grain and agribusiness giant in the world, Cargill. It includes Monsanto/Bayer which owns patented GMO seeds and the deadly pesticide, Roundup. It includes Corteva, the huge GMO fusion of DuPont and Dow Chemicals. It includes fellow grain cartel giants Bunge and Louis Dreyfus. It includes the major farm equipment maker John Deere. These were the powerful agribusiness corporations reportedly behind Zelenskyy’s betrayal of his election promise. With Bayer/Monsanto, Corteva and Cargill already controlling a reported 16.7 million hectares of prime Ukraine black earth farmland, and with a de facto bribe from the IMF and World Bank, Zelenskyy’s government caved in and sold out. The result will be very bad for the future of what was until recently the “breadbasket of Europe.” With Ukraine now being pried open by the GMO cartel companies, it leaves only Russia which banned GMO crops in 2016 as the only major world grain supplier without GMO. The EU is reportedly working on a new law that would overturn the long-established critical approval process for GMO crops and open the floodgates there to the GMO takeover. F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

[Category: Columns, Economics, Featured, Locations, Ukraine in the world]

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[l] at 8/18/22 11:33am
The end of civilization as we know it is at hand. Why more experts have not seized on the reality facing us perplexes me. It came to me like a bolt, the reason the current world order is pushing for nuclear confrontation. The answer is right in front of us. Nuclear Winter. I don’t need to rehash the craziness and diabolical machinations that have gone on over the past few years. The pandemic, the societal brain blistering that has caused, the lead-up proxy wars, ISIS, crazy presidents, pedophilia, and child sex charges, the Lolita Express, Hunter Biden, Ukraine. And the real problem of climate change, put into the brainwash blender so average Joe or Judy won’t know up from down. This paragraph must end with Bill Gates, population control, and one of Epstein’s chums owning most of America’s farmland. Yeah. We are pretty much screwed. They just raided former President Trump’s home, Tulsi Gabbard, Tucker Carlson, and other prominent conservatives are being labeled “traitors” in America. It looks like the rest of us are next if you deal at all with social media. And, judging from the level of ignorance about the realities of a US/Russia nuclear confrontation, society is just dumb enough for a dystopian reset. A series of recent articles illustrate. A USA Today story, and many others recently, have clued me to the two issues I just pointed out. First, it seems feasible that the screwed-up liberal order that got us in this global warming seems determined to fix it with a perpetual cold front. Second, we’ve been brain battered, propagandized, and dumbed down so far we’re irredeemable. Let me show you why. A “new” study referenced in the USA Today story says Nuclear war between the US and Russia would leave 5 billion dead from hunger. The author of the study, a Rutgers University climate scientist named Lili Xia, tells us (again) how thousands of nuclear weapons being detonated will send megatons of ash into the stratosphere, blocking out the sun. This is not new science, and the language the scientist uses is for 8-year-olds or nincompoops. Here’s a snippet. “A large percent of the people will be starving… It’s really bad…. The reduced light, global cooling, and likely trade restrictions after nuclear wars would be a global catastrophe for food security.” Yes, 12,000 modern nuclear weapons detonating would certainly block out the sun and cause famine, then disease, and maybe even a new Ice Age. The Rutgers charts in the study point to sea and soil temperatures dropping substantially. This would fix global warming but good. But “likely” trade restrictions after global thermonuclear war? This is 21st-century science, the big concern? What are these people smoking? I’ll get to Armageddon in a minute, but first, let me introduce the architects of this climate fix. And while Bill Gates did not say the population should be controlled through vaccines, he is taking huge steps to prepare for the inevitable. This World Economic Forum story articulates his “warning,” and the Microsoft billionaire is America’s largest private landowner with almost 250,000 acres of farmland. Now, let’s address what the real Armageddon will look like. I won’t take up your time here. This in-depth report from the height of the Cold War Era through 2003 tells us all we need to know. And if the Rutgers geniuses think their research paints a sad picture, by the time you get to the deep references Dr. Wm. Robert Johnston provides, you’ll realize how few people and animals on this Earth would survive. These new researchers have made a horrible miscalculation. You see, by the end of the initial nuclear exchange, half the population of the world will be incinerated or blown to bits, and another ¼ will die from radiation and other injuries within weeks. Nothing will work, satellites won’t operate, there won’t be any economy, and the United Nations and most of our institutions will be gone. In the US 5,800 warheads will have detonated, totaling 3,900 megatons. In Russia, nothing within 200 miles of Moscow will be left alive, not even bugs. According to Dr. Johnston’s research/scenario, more than 200 nuclear warheads would render hundreds of thousands of kilometers lifeless, ruined, and utterly destroyed. Europe will be a mass open grave. Carnage will stretch from the currently undamaged Kyiv to the Pyrenees. Spain and Portugal may be the last strongholds of living souls. This MIT excerpt from the 2021 book “Nuclear Choices for the Twenty-First Century: A Citizen’s Guide” by Richard Wolfson and Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress, substantiates Johnson’s previous research. In 60 years, there will still be vast reaches of land that are unusable. Genetic defects will have shown up in a big percentage of the few hundred million who survived. New Zealand and Argentina will be world powers in this new dystopia. We’ll have the brave new world, that marvelous reset Schwab and the globalists have been stirring. Greta Thunberg and the climate alarmists will finally fall silent (one way or another). And now, I leave you with the final words from our Rutgers genius, Professor Alan Robock, who co-authored the study with Lili Xia, which was aimed at the world’s zombified population. It’s a groundbreaking revelation: “The data tells us one thing: We must prevent a nuclear war from ever happening.” It’s happening. It’s the only strategy of the elites that makes any sense. Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, he’s an author of the recent bestseller “Putin’s Praetorians” and other books. He writes exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

[Category: Columns, Featured, Locations, Society, USA in the World]

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[l] at 8/18/22 11:05am
In recent months, the situation between Pakistan and Afghanistan has increasingly mirrored that of the past few years, when the Afghan Taliban (representatives of the banned group in Russia), fighting against the government in Kabul, used Pakistan as their rear. And this has been evidenced by recent intensified clashes between separate Afghan Taliban groups and the Pakistani army on the Durand Line. In December 2021-January 2022, for example, the situation on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border deteriorated, with the Pakistanis entering up to 15 kilometers into Afghan territory in an attempt to set up a stronghold there. These clashes have already resulted in casualties on both sides. There were “menacing” public statements by the Taliban’s (the organization banned in the Russian Federation) intelligence chief, Bashir, in response to which Afghanistan’s Deputy Minister of Information and Culture Zabihullah Mujahid called Pakistan’s state system “alien and hostile to Islam”.  Videos have even appeared on social media showing the Taliban ripping out border posts set up by the Pakistani side along the Durand Line. Today, tensions are still high, reeking of the gunpowder of a new war in the region. To clarify the situation, it is worth reiterating that the Durand Line was inherited by the two states from British India as a demarcation line drawn by British administrator H.M. Durand in a pact with the Afghan Emir, Abdur Rahman Khan, in 1893. However, it has not been recognized by any regime in Afghanistan. Even when the Taliban first came to power, the Pakistan-Afghanistan border remained an open and sensitive issue between the two countries. However, it must be acknowledged that the Durand Line has divided Pashtuns living on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border into a “divided nation”. It should also be noted that Afghan Pashtuns, whose representatives have led the state virtually at all times, have maintained a strong desire to reunite all Pashtuns into a single state (the so-called “Greater Pashtunistan” project). Islamabad has repeatedly tried unilaterally to solve the border problem, and with it the idea of a “Greater Pashtunistan” that poses a threat to Pakistani society. However, these Pakistani hopes did not materialize, there were major artillery clashes between the Taliban and the Pakistani army along the Durand Line. The terrorist organization Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP, banned in Russia), which has a significant impact on the stability of Pakistan the so-called “Pakistani Taliban” is playing an active role in this confrontation. This formation emerged in 2007 with the aim to establish their own version of an Islamic state in Pakistan and seize power in Islamabad. In the intervening period, Pakistan has been the victim of repeated terrorist attacks by the TTP (banned in Russia). The formation has its own links with the Taliban in Afghanistan and, even before the Afghan Taliban came to power, was developing links with a section of them commonly referred to as the Haqqani network (banned in Russia). According to a UN report, the TTP formation has as many as 10,000 militias. After coming to power in Afghanistan, the Taliban released some 2,300 TTP members from prisons, including Deputy Emir Maulvi Faqir Mohammad. The TTP’s position has since strengthened markedly, and the organization has had the opportunity to become not only a key ally of the Afghan Taliban, but also a lever of pressure on Pakistan on key issues. The Afghan Taliban attempted to facilitate negotiations between Pakistan and the TTP to determine how their relationship would develop in the future. However, Pakistan cannot accept the TTP’s demands for their autonomy, having already had recent negative experiences with other groups. Nor can Islamabad accept the TTP’s views on the political system and social fabric of the Pakistani state. But the TTP has not shown any willingness to make concessions either. All this exacerbates Islamabad’s struggle with the problems of extremism and terrorism by forces in Afghanistan, and the TTP continues to pose a threat to Pakistan. What is happening now on the Durand Line and the Taliban’s actions in the Pakistani direction inadvertently suggest the involvement and provocation of an “external force”. After all, it is well known that Islamabad used to support the Afghan Taliban, but it is now the border problems, which have their roots in the British colonial past, that have worsened. There is an attempt to extend the Afghan destabilization to Pakistan in order to implement a geopolitical scenario prepared by a certain external power which, after the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan, was cut out of further active involvement in the fate of the region. Understandably, everything indirectly points to the US and its British allies in this regard, which is a wake-up call for both Kabul and Islamabad. It is these “external forces” that are now benefiting from the potential destabilization of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, which is hampering the development of the region’s economy. It is located at the crossroads of southwest and central Asia, and Russia and China are objectively interested in its development. However, the creation of an unstable environment there, which hampers the economic integration of the countries of the region, fits in perfectly with the plans already officially announced by Washington and London to prevent similar integration processes carried out by Moscow and Beijing, in particular, to strengthen regional associations such as the EAEU, the SCO and others. And, given the US and Britain’s recent course of further straining relations with Russia over its special operation to denazify Ukraine, and China defending its national interests in the Taiwan issue, it hardly makes sense to expect the Anglo-Saxon provocative activities towards Pakistan and Afghanistan to diminish Vladimir Platov, expert on the Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.  

[Category: Afghanistan, Central Asia, Columns, Featured, Locations, Politics]

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[l] at 8/18/22 2:45am
The Syrian issue has recently been increasingly highlighted in global media reports, indicating that the Middle Eastern Arab state is unfortunately becoming more and more a battleground for many countries, especially through the fault of the US, Israel and Turkey. Thus, against the backdrop of increasing energy shortages in the West, the Syrian news agency SANA and many other media outlets have reported on the ongoing illegal plundering of Syria’s natural wealth by the United States with the involvement of Kurdish militias collaborating with them: “The US occupation forces and their mercenaries from the Washington-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) steal up to 66,000 barrels of oil every day from fields they have seized in the eastern part of the country. This represents about 83% of daily production in Syria.” In confirmation of this, residents in the Syrian village of Al-Yaarubiyah reported that another similar convoy of 144 tankers left the Syrian oil fields via the illegal Al-Mahmoudia border crossing into Iraqi territory on August 9. With Washington’s encouragement of Israeli attacks on Syrian territory that violate SAR sovereignty, the threat of armed conflict between Israel and Syria is also becoming increasingly real. In addition to the Israeli army’s regular airstrikes on Syrian territory, Syrian state media reported on August 12 that an Israeli tank shelled the Syrian village of Al-Hamidiyah near Quneitra, injuring two people. Under these conditions leading to increased tensions in the region, the Syrian leadership has repeatedly demanded that the UN Security Council put pressure on Israel and warned that the country could use “all legitimate means” to respond to Israeli strikes on its territory. The possibility of Ankara’s new military operation in Syria is also on the table, even despite Moscow’s active efforts, which, according to Turkish media, are aimed at diplomatically trying to reduce the intensity of such Turkish activity. Nevertheless, in order to create a buffer zone along the border with Syria, Turkey is seeking to step up security measures against the Kurdish People’s Defense Units (YPG), considering them terrorist and affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is waging a guerrilla war in Turkey itself and on its borders for the autonomy of 20 million Turkish Kurds. However, it should be noted that according to opinion polls, up to three-quarters of Turks support such actions in Syria, contributing to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s approval rating. That Ankara’s desire for a new military operation in Syria has grown recently because of the Syrian government forces’ offensive against terrorist groups in the Idlib region, which is supported by Russian, Iranian and pro-Iranian militias. In particular, against Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), whose core is composed of Salafist militants from Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda (all three terrorist groups are banned in Russia), who have destroyed self-government bodies in Idlib, taxed towns and villages, persecuted all dissenters and carried out guerrilla and sabotage raids in areas controlled by the Syrian authorities. Ankara’s displeasure with the said offensive in the northwestern regions stems from the fact that there are Syrian National Army (SNA) formations, Islamist pro-armed jihadist units and pro-Turkish nationalists in Idlib, created during the anti-Assad uprising and now run by Turkish officers. As for the stance of the official Syrian government, for Assad, control of Idlib is an important step towards finally defeating the opposition and regaining control of Syria. An important aspect of Erdoğan’s concern about the situation in northern Syria is also the Syrian refugee population, which currently stands at around 4 million on Turkish territory.  For the Turkish economy, which is currently undergoing a crisis, this is certainly a very heavy burden. One way of diplomatically resolving the situation between Turkey and Syria appears to be a revision of the Adana Agreement on measures to combat the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), signed in 1998.  Under its terms, official Damascus undertook not to allow any PKK activity in its jurisdiction, while Ankara was given the right to temporarily introduce its troops into Syrian territory to a depth of up to 5 km to neutralize Kurdish radicals. According to some experts, a revision of the said agreement could reflect the new political and military reality, contribute to a Syrian settlement and increase interaction between Turkey and Syria, in particular their intelligence services. Signals that Damascus and Ankara are ready to step up bilateral contacts have been circulating recently. For example, there have been reports of contacts between Ankara and Damascus intelligence agencies, allegedly mainly in the form of consultations between Hakan Fidan, director of the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) of Turkey, and Major General Ali Mamluk, head of the Syrian National Security Bureau. While the Turkish media previously cited Russia as mediating these contacts, it is now reported that some Gulf states have also joined the process. The Turkish publication Türkiye reported the other day that international mediators were negotiating the resumption of contacts between Erdoğan and Assad. The last time the leaders of Syria and Turkey met was in 2011. Such contacts have been virtually ruled out in the recent past, mainly because of the rift in their relations after the Arab Spring, at the outbreak of which the Turkish leadership had actively supported Damascus’ political and armed opponents. In addition, the Syrian government has repeatedly condemned Ankara’s regular military operations against Kurdish formations on Syrian territory. The importance of changing relations between the leaders of Syria and Turkey for resolving the situation not only between the two countries, but also in the wider region, was discussed at the latest meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on August 5 in Sochi. The influential Turkish newspaper Haberler as well as many media outlets recently reported that Turkish President Erdoğan and his Syrian counterpart, Assad, were preparing to hold telephone talks after the Russian-Turkish summit in Sochi. However, there have also been reports that, alongside this, the West has expressed concern about the rapprochement between Russia and Turkey in this regard. In particular, this was pointed out by the Financial Times. Reporter Steven Erlanger of The New York Times also shared information on the West’s growing irritation with Turkey’s successful cooperation with Russia the other day. To prevent such a rapprochement, as well as to cause a quarrel between Turkey, Russia and Syria, the US has even devised a provocative disinformation campaign with allegations that Russia is supposedly transporting military supplies for the needs of the Ukrainian special operation on merchant ships, taking advantage of the naivety of the Turkish side controlling the Bosporus and Dardanelles. Furthermore, after talks in Sochi with President Vladimir Putin, Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan received a blow from the Americans as revenge: the US House of Representatives approved an amendment to the draft military budget for fiscal year 2023 that prohibits the sale of new F-16 fighter jets to Turkey. In these circumstances, the Turkish Foreign Ministry was forced to deny information about alleged projected phone calls between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. All this clearly demonstrates the US goal to prevent a Syrian settlement in every possible way, which Washington intends to use in continuing its aggressive and invasive policy in Syria and the region as a whole. Valery Kulikov, political expert, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.  

[Category: Columns, Featured, Locations, Middle East, Politics, Syria]

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[l] at 8/17/22 12:20pm
In response to Nancy Pelosi’s stubborn – and provocative – visit to Taiwan, China has initiated military drills in the Taiwan Strait. This military drill amounts to a naval blockade of not only Taiwan but prolonged drills, with live shooting in the sea, could ultimately create a crisis that will, very much like the Ukraine crisis, hit the West – especially, the EU – pretty hard. In simple words, the European continent will once again be at the receiving end of what can only be called a US effort to project its power across the world to preserve its global hegemony. Therefore, with Europe being on the verge of directly becoming a casualty of US global power politics, this could ultimately drive a wedge between the US and the EU on a long-term basis. China is, therefore, indicating its willingness to inflict an economic cost that would not only hurt Taiwan but also its supposed friends elsewhere as well. It is in this context that we need to understand China’s response to Pelosi’s visit. Let’s first see why the Taiwan Strait matters and how it is crucial for maintaining a stable economic landscape in Europe. Consider this: almost half of the global container fleet and almost 88 per cent of the world’s largest ships by tonnage pass through the Strait. A Chinese blockade of the Strait also means that Taiwan’s Semiconductor Manufacturing sector, which accounts for almost 90 per cent of the world’s cutting-edge chip capacity, will have a very hard time reaching its destination in the West. It is for this reason that, as many reports in the western mainstream media have highlighted, many businesses across the world are already preparing to brace for the devastating impact of Pelosi’s visit. This will have a direct – and unavoidable – impact on the US’ closest ally, the EU. As the EU’s 2016 Global Strategy document highlights, “there is a direct connection between European prosperity and Asian security.” Taiwan’s bilateral trade with the EU is around US$50 billion. In 2020, Taiwan’s total exports to the EU totalled EUR26.4 billion. This export was dominated by ICT products, machinery and transport equipment. This direct connection is now under stress because of US adventurism. While Europe, already facing an acute energy crisis and tackling the rising cost of living due to the war in Ukraine, must have learnt a lesson in the importance and necessity of an autonomous global policy and disposition, this has not been the case. Therefore, China’s response, coupled with Europe’s inability and/or unwillingness to learn, could serve as a second consecutive shock that could force Europe to realise the cost of alliance with the US. Ultimately, what the world needs is more centres of power, including Europe as an autonomous global player, to create a new, alternative global order away from a US-dominated, dollar-centric political and economic world order established after the Second World War. Therefore, given the Chinese response and the possibility of global supply chains being seriously disrupted by China’s drills in the Straits of Taiwan, it is conceivable that Washington might fight back with sanctions. But, just like US sanctions on Russia, sanctions on China will hurt Europe in ways that will multiply Europe’s economic problems. This conclusion is drawn directly from the fact that China is already the EU’s largest trading partner. There is deep and broad mutual dependence. A US sanctions regime on China will, therefore, mean a devastating blow to Europe’s economic life. As the data show, the EU currently has a deficit vis-à-vis China on trade in goods. However, it has a surplus vis-à-vis China on trade in services. Estimates, therefore, show that an escalation of the situation in the Straits of Taiwan could begin a crisis in the West – especially, in Europe – on a scale previously seen during the 2008 financial crisis. Can Europe afford such a crisis at a time when it is already paying a heavy price for insensibly toeing the US line vis-à-vis Russia/Ukraine? It can continue to do so only at the expense of its economic stability, which, if disrupted, will most certainly lead to political instability, allowing those European actors who favour a ‘European’ view of the world to push more vigorously for liberating Europe of the US influence and, thus, ensure its own economic security. As Joseph Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, has, in the context of growing US-China global rivalry, repeatedly said, Europe needs to follow its “own path” and “act in accordance with our own values and interests.” His ultimate conclusion is that “Europe has an enduring interest to work together with China, even if difficult, on a number of global issues on which it plays a crucial role.”This conclusion is diametrically opposed to the growing calls in the US fordecoupling with China and/or imposing the worst ever sanctions on Beijing. Europe, therefore, needs a Taiwan policy that protects its vital economic interests. While Europe may not be able to come up with a radical new policy i.e., oppose US interventionism, it can still, as voiced by European Commission Vice-President Margrethe Vestager last year in October, “preserve the status quo.” The Chinese have no problem with maintaining the status quo in the short and long run. If the EU can maintain this stance with or without pressing the US to do the same, it can neutralise the impact of the short and long-term fallout of the Chinese response to the US attempts to disrupt – and alter – the Taiwan status quo. Anything short of that will inevitably put Europe in the line of fire. Salman Rafi Sheikh, research-analyst of International Relations and Pakistan’s foreign and domestic affairs, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

[Category: China, Columns, Eastern Asia, Economics, Featured, Locations]

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[l] at 8/17/22 12:05pm
The latest trip abroad by Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the lower house of the US Parliament, was commented on by the world media mainly for its most scandalous part which (expectedly) was a visit to Taiwan by a third person in the US government hierarchy. The author’s view regarding the significance of this part is that the increasing of tensions between the two leading world powers provoked by it is of a short-term nature. This relationship is highly likely (and fairly quickly) to return to an “almost initial” state of balancing, which has been influenced for decades by two contradictory factors. One of these is due to increasing US-China political competition in the international arena, and the other is due to the interest of both countries in maintaining a (long-established) state of “economic interdependence”, taking all costs of the second factor into account (mainly for the US). Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan seems to have been entirely motivated by the very difficult domestic political situation in the US itself. This visits was not welcomed even within the Democratic Party. Almost certainly both the forthcoming event itself and the format of the PRC’s response to it were one of the main subjects of an earlier phone conversation between the two presidents. Remarkably, none of them publicly reacted to this act of political provocation. However during this act and afterwards, there were repeated affirmations from Washington of its respect for the One China principle which is of crucial importance for Beijing. In the short term, one can hardly expect any significant harsh statements from the PRC, towards Taiwan in particular. For example, it could have been a “blockade” or even “razing everything that’s on the island to the ground using missiles”. It is the case at least because Beijing has as much (or rather more) interest in keeping safe (almost) the world monopolist in the field of microchip production, which is the Taiwanese company TSMC, all its 50,000 employees, as well as the housing of the latter. Therefore, a meaningful component of Nancy Pelosi’s entire tour should be linked to her visits to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan. It was these countries without mentioning Taiwan that she indicated herself before departing on her tour. It was also said at the time that during her visit to each of these countries, the guest would “reaffirm America’s strong and unshakeable commitment to our allies and friends in the region”. The first two countries are located in South-East Asia, i.e. in the most important of a number of sub-regions that make up the Indo-Pacific. Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Singapore and Malaysia fits in with the general trend of recent particular US attention, to the situation in Southeast Asia. Both countries are members of the regional association ASEAN, with which all the world’s leading actors are eager to develop relations. As for Washington, its focus on Southeast Asia and ASEAN is motivated by attempts to counter the expansion of its main geopolitical opponent in the sub-region. Neither Singapore nor Malaysia is in a state of military-political alliance with Washington, but from some point of view they can be labelled (especially the former) as its “friends”. The same keynote is also an element of the frequent visits of American statesmen to the Republic of Korea and Japan. In contrast to the first two, the abovementioned countries are linked to the US through political-military alliances. A perennial headache for Washington, however, is the wary state of relations between the ROK and Japan, to say the least. This prevents the long-standing American plans for creating a triple alliance, naturally, with an anti-Chinese orientation. Seoul maintains a large and highly lucrative economic relationship with Beijing and clearly does not want the alliance with Washington to become a threat to them. There does not appear to have been any visible change under the new president of the Republic of Korea either. In fact, Nancy Pelosi arrived in the ROK for the purpose of establishing contacts between the US Congress and the new government of one of its Asian allies. But somehow it happened that she was unable to meet any of the government officials of interest to her in that country’s capital. Apparently, they showed no desire to get involved even indirectly in the anti-China scandal that followed the guest from her previous stopover point. And the three-day visit to China by the ROK foreign minister a week later was all the more symbolic. The aforementioned “scandal” was not scared of in Tokyo, where Nancy Pelosi received the warmest of receptions. During a breakfast held at the official residence of the Japanese government, the guest exchanged views with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on a wide range of issues, both on bilateral relations and the situation in the region as a whole. In particular, the two sides “confirmed that Japan and the United States will continue to work closely together to maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait”. Fumio Kishida has “strongly condemned” the PLA military exercises near Taiwan. In addition, he expressed his hope for “Pelosi’s leadership and the support of the US Congress” in strengthening the Japan-US alliance and realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific. It means that there have been once again reiterated the well-established mantras that have been invariably present in the official rhetoric of both Washington and Tokyo in recent years when it comes to the Indo-Pacific situation in general, around Taiwan in particular. Similar statements have been also made on the issue of the “Chinese threat” to both states. Countering said “threats” was also the cause for he foreign tour of an equally energetic lady, namely US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, who visited Samoa, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Australia and New Zealand from 3 to 9 August. All of these countries are located in the South Pacific, which Washington as well as Tokyo and Canberra have recently been paying as much attention as Southeast Asia. And this attention is due to the same reasons, i.e. Beijing’s expanding influence in the South Pacific as well. In particular, in the spring of this year the US was very concerned about the conclusion of a framework security agreement between China and Solomon Islands. And in late May already, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited a number of countries on a ten-day trip to the sub-region, some of which appeared on Wendy Sherman’s list of places to visit two months later. Among these “several” reasons let’s have a look at Solomon Islands. It was in this country where representatives of the two main allies of the Indo-Pacific region, i.e. the US and Japan, met again. Makoto Oniki, First Deputy Minister of Defence, spoke on behalf of the latter in Solomon Islands. The formal occasion of the meeting between Sherman and Oniki in the country’s capital, Honiara, was the 80th anniversary of the start of the (six-month) “Battle of Guadalcanal”. It became one of the bloodiest of the entire Pacific War, in which current allies were sworn enemies. Incidentally, such metamorphoses in inter-state relations have been the rule rather than the exception throughout history. Using the link below one can see a photo of the two statesmen standing side by side during the memorial ceremony for the dead citizens of the countries that were at war at the time. To the ceremony in question, let us make what appear to be some noteworthy remarks. First, there was also present the representative of Australia, a country that had been an active participant in the war in the Pacific in general and the “Battle of Guadalcanal” in particular. Even today, Australia remains one of Washington’s most important allies in the Indo-Pacific. Commentators on Solomon Islands’ meeting of senior US, Japanese and Australian officials again unanimously point to the “China factor” as its main motive. Finally, no less noteworthy (to which commentators also draw attention) is the absence from the ceremony of the head of the country that hosted and (ostensibly) organised the meeting. Again, only three months earlier, the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands had reached a kind of agreement with China that caused negative reactions in all three countries. But he certainly could not deny their representatives the opportunity to honour the many thousands of servicemen whose remains rest at the bottom of the sea around one of the islands of the Solomon Archipelago. However, the absence of the head of the nowadays archipelago country at the commemorative ceremony clearly demonstrates which of the opposing players in the Indo-Pacific region Solomon Islands leadership favours. This peculiarity of Wendy Sherman’s visit to Solomon Islands prompted a persistent journalist to pester her with “inconvenient” questions at the final press conference. Apparently, the political science professor had a hard time finding answers. In overall, it can be concluded that the nature as well as the outcome of the Indo-Pacific region tours by two important members of the American political elite fit into the overall process of worsening relations between the world’s leading powers. Vladimir Terekhov, expert on the issues of the Asia-Pacific region, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

[Category: Asian-Pacific region, Columns, Featured, Locations, Politics, Southeast Asia]

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[l] at 8/17/22 11:35am
The sanctions war on Russia, inspired by the Russophobic policies of the United States and its allies, has plunged the world into not only economic and energy crises, but also ecological collapse. To comply with instructions from Washington to reduce Russian gas deliveries, the authorities of the Western states have considered reviving coal power as well as revising the ban on shale gas technology, which, according to Raphael Schmeller author of an article in the German junge Welt has become “fateful news” for the climate. As a result of the West’s refusal to implement climate protection policies, the world is in a climate crisis and literally on fire. In many parts of Europe and America new temperature records are being recorded, and Western politicians committed to Washington are only diligently pouring fuel on the fire. For example, the German Minister for Economic Affairs, Robert Habeck, who is a member of the Green Party (!), is going to take steps to increase the use of coal for electricity generation, amidst the German government’s cuts in gas supplies from Russia. Although it is well known everywhere, including in Germany, that in comparison to gas, much more carbon dioxide, the main cause of anthropogenic climate change, is emitted when using coal to generate electricity. The use of fracking technology, which the Free Democratic Party of Germany (FDP), part of the governing coalition, strongly advocates, is equally damaging to the climate. Although it is also no secret that fracking is a real “climate killer”, as it can trigger earthquakes and lead to groundwater contamination, increasing global methane emissions, the climate-damaging effects of which have already been demonstrated by this technology popular in the US and the evidence of a large number of scientific studies. All this leads to devastating consequences for humanity, such as species extinction, unbearable heat, destruction of ecosystems and flooding of cities.  Such effects of climate change are accelerating and will inevitably become painfully apparent in the next 20 years. Already today, simple drinking water has become one of the world’s most precious resources, around which regional or even global wars could break out in the future. Lakes and rivers in Europe are drying up due to the heat, and Spain, France, Germany, Serbia, the UK and many other EU countries are facing drought, according to Western media reports. Residents of Europe believe that if it does not rain and the authorities do not find some alternative water supply, dark times will come. According to Britain’s Daily Mail, residents in the southeast of Britain are forced to stand in long queues for water, with some 8,500 homes in the county of Surrey facing a water shortage. Earlier, this publication reported that a total of 20.5 million people may be affected by water restrictions in Britain amid unprecedented heatwave. Amid temperatures reaching over 40 degrees in the kingdom in July, the country’s fire brigade is experiencing its busiest period since World War II due to an increase in fires and other incidents. After a drought was officially declared in 8 of England’s 14 districts, millions of Britons faced restrictions on their water use, according to The Times. Britain’s largest water company, Thames Water, has already warned consumers of major water supply disruptions, the Daily Mail reports. Experts warn that such extreme weather conditions will inevitably lead to a reduction in the UK’s harvest and a sharp rise in food prices. On top of the record inflation in the last 40 years, the UK is experiencing a cost of living crisis for millions of people in this country, an increase in their dissatisfaction with government policies. In the unprecedented drought, more than 100 municipalities in France have been left without drinking water and farmers have lost a substantial part of their crops and livestock feed, France 2 TV channel reports. To deal with a crisis that has taken on “historic proportions”, the government has called for tighter restrictions on water use, hoping to avoid a repeat of the 2003 fiasco, when the authorities looked unfortunate in the heatwave that engulfed the country. In this context, authorities in 88 departments in France have already restricted water consumption, with some departments in the Pays de la Loire and New Aquitaine regions having declared the highest red alert level, which restricts water use to “any non-priority tasks, including for agricultural purposes”. The use of water is only allowed for “health, safety, drinking water consumption and hygiene purposes”. It is noted, however, that such extensive restrictions are “exceptional for this time of year” and the period of dry and hot weather is predicted to be long. Spanish public broadcaster TVE reported that water supply restrictions had also been imposed in many Spanish settlements due to the drought. The country’s 317 reservoirs had a storage capacity of 40.4% of their capacity at the end of July, 33% lower than the average for the past decade, authorities said. According to the Spanish weather service Aemet, the current period is already the fourth driest on record. The western regions of the USA also faced the longest drought in 1200 years, resulting in a water shortage the country is currently experiencing. Water levels in rivers and lakes have dropped to record lows, and cities have begun imposing restrictions on water consumption. The unprecedented drought has caused California’s rivers to turn back, water from the gulf has flowed into them and the rivers have become salty, German broadcaster NTD reported. A state of emergency has been declared in northern Canada because of water shortages and record low levels in the local Apex River as a result of a lack of rainfall. Although Canada has about 20% of the world’s freshwater supply, indigenous communities across the country have historically faced water shortage. Water shortage has also become a reality in Central Asian countries. In Kazakhstan alone, for example, there may be a water deficit of 23.2 cubic kilometers, comparable to the total annual abstraction. During the Soviet period, the region’s water and energy needs were regulated by the will of a single center: the upstream republics supplied their downstream neighbors with water in the summer and received hydrocarbons as compensation for the energy deficit in the winter. However, the mechanism that had worked effectively in a planned economy was rendered inoperative by the sprawl into “national flats”, ambition ran high and resources became a tool for asserting young-state sovereignty. However, the solution to the water problem in Central Asia differs from water initiatives in Europe, where the European Commission has allowed the reuse of water from municipal wastewater treatment plants as a key method of solving the problem of water shortage. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova has already commented on the proposal to use sewage in Europe, saying that “Drinking what someone else has already drank or poured or watered or drained is a new height for connoisseurs of perversion”. As for Central Asia, there is the only correct way to solve the problem: a negotiation process, an adjustment of the legal framework in this field, is needed. Past experience and the logic of future transformations lead to the decision that only a strong regional integration structure with significant resources the Eurasian Economic Council can best handle the Central Asian water problem. However, in order to achieve not only a delicate balance but also sustainable development, the Central Asian region needs a major integration format. And it is what Russia has been promoting since 2016 the Greater Eurasian Partnership (GEP), which can be defined as “integration of integrations”. The role of Russia, the backbone country and the largest economy of the union, is undoubtedly even more important in this option of solving Central Asia’s water problems, with the integration potential of the EAEU. Vladimir Odintsov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.  

[Category: Columns, Europe, Featured, Locations, Society]

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[l] at 8/17/22 3:59am
On August 2, 2022, a scandal occurred in the Senate of Australia – the upper house of parliament. One of its members, a representative of the Green Party Lidia Thorpe during her taking the oath of office as a senator called the British Queen Elizabeth II, who is the formal head of Australia, a colonizer. President of the Senate Sue Lines demanded that Thorpe read the oath again, without adding extra words to the official text. After a short pause, Lidia Thorpe fulfilled the requirement of the President of the Senate, taking the oath again without her own additions. This incident demonstrated the increase of the negative attitude of a considerable proportion of Australian society towards the British monarchy. It is important to note that Lidia Thorpe was the first representative of the aboriginal (indigenous) population of Australia in the history of the country who received the status of senator. Preserving memories of the hard times of colonialism, as well as honoring the memory of past generations of Aboriginal Australians who suffered during the colonization of the fifth continent by the British, Thorpe has a negative attitude to the role of the British monarchy in modern Australia. According to her, the current coat of arms and flag of the country symbolize colonization and do not represent all the peoples who live in Australia. Consequently, the state symbols should be changed. And Thorpe considers the abolition of the monarchy to be her primary task as a senator. Many indigenous Australians have a negative opinion of the British crown at the head of their state, since for them it is a reminder of their oppression in the past. For several centuries, until the middle of the XX century, the Aboriginal Australians were seriously restricted in their rights, and the Australian leadership, consisting exclusively of persons of European origin, pursued a nationalist policy and made openly racist statements against the indigenous population. For example, John Bleakley, who served as director of the Department of Indigenous Affairs from 1914 to 1942, stated that the main purpose of his organization was not only to protect “savages” from arbitrariness on the part of white Australians, but also to help protect the white race from the danger posed by “backward nationalities”. At the end of the 19th century, indigenous Australians were used as extremely cheap labor necessary for the development of new lands. The working conditions of the Australian Aborigines could only be compared with those of slaves. If at the beginning of the XIX century there were about 100 thousand indigenous Australians living in Australia, then according to the results of the population census in 1901, the number of representatives of indigenous peoples amounted to 26.5 thousand people with 3.8 million total inhabitants of Australia. White Australians, who have now radically rethought the history of their country, are no less skeptical about the institution of the monarchy, as they have come to understand that royal rule is a reminder of historical injustice. Today, more than half of Australians support the idea of introducing a republican form of government in the country. Back in 1999, a referendum was held in Australia, where only 55% of residents supported the preservation of the monarchy. As you know, for centuries Britain has been one of Russia’s main geopolitical rivals. London did everything possible to limit the spread of Russian influence in the world. But rethinking their own history is gradually leading to a reassessment of the history of other countries, without relying on the opinion of London. Thus, the Australian society is gradually ceasing to consider Russia as a force that poses a danger to Australia. A considerable contribution to the increase in the growth of consciousness of the population is made by the Union of Cossacks of Australia, whose main activity is aimed at spreading reliable information about Russia’s foreign policy. Also, a large Russian-speaking community, formed mainly from immigrants from the former USSR countries who moved to Australia in the 1990s, has a tangible impact on Australian public sentiment. Many Australians revere the exploits of the Soviet people who suffered heavy losses and made a decisive contribution to the victory over Nazism in 1945. For example, on May 9, 2021 in Sydney, the Australian MP for New South Wales, Marjorie O’Neill, took part in the celebrations to mark the Soviet victory in World War II and laid flowers at the Soviet Soldiers Memorial, wearing St George’s Ribbon. However, the current realities do not allow Australia to abandon the monarchy in the near future, as the country is currently in a rather difficult geopolitical situation. First of all, this is due to the fact that Australia is trying to maintain its influence in a strategically important region – Oceania, where there are 11 sovereign small island states that can turn away from Australia at any moment and adopt a pro-Chinese position. The containment of China, including in the South Pacific, has become one of the key goals of the creation in 2021 of the AUKUS trilateral defense alliance consisting of Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The consequence of the appearance of this organization was the strengthening of the control of the United States and its allies in the Pacific Ocean. Despite the anti–monarchical public sentiment in Australia, the country’s leadership understands that the introduction of a republican form of government may be perceived as an unfriendly gesture towards one of the closest allies in AUKUS the United Kingdom. In this regard, the prospect of the abolition of the monarchy in Australia will become more real only if the situation in Oceania becomes less tense. In accordance with the charter of the Commonwealth of Nations headed by the British monarch, which includes Australia, the United Kingdom, as well as most of its former colonies, the refusal of the participating country from royal rule implies an automatic withdrawal from this international organization. Nevertheless, a state that has become a republic has the right to appeal to the member countries of the Commonwealth of Nations with a request to remain in this international association. If Australia decides to change its state system, it will most likely retain its membership in the Commonwealth of Nations, as Canberra maintains close trade and economic ties with many member states of this organization, including India, New Zealand and the small island countries of Oceania. So, in the foreseeable future, Australia is likely to abandon the monarchy and switch to a republican form of government. The Australian public is psychologically ready for the big changes. There is one little thing left: to hold a new referendum on the abolition of royal rule. However, this is unlikely to be possible in the very near future, given the difficult circumstances associated with the current world situation. Petr Konovalov, a political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

[Category: Asian-Pacific region, Australia, Columns, Featured, Locations, Politics]

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[l] at 8/16/22 12:15pm
In March of this year Russian troops captured the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. It has been in Russian possession ever since, although the Ukrainian forces have made desperate attempts to recapture it. These attempts have included bombing and shelling of the site. To describe this and incredibly stupid is an understatement. The plant is a nuclear plant and its wanton destruction could cause the dispersal of nuclear material far from the site. To say that it endangers the lives not only of the Russian occupiers and the surrounding Ukrainians living in proximity to the plant is a massive understatement. The destruction of the plant risks a nuclear contamination of a vast surrounding area that includes not only Ukrainian territory, but also that of its geographical neighbours, including Russia, Poland and Hungary. The Russians have protested the bombing and shelling of the plant, thus far without success. The Ukrainians seem impervious to the risks that are evident to all the people in the region, and as noted, in surrounding countries as well. The remarkable response by the Ukrainians is to blame the Russians for the shelling of the plant. This is not only demonstrably false, but is proven to be so. There is absolutely no reason for the Russians to destroy the plant, not least because it would endanger its own people. What theUkrainian motive is for the shelling is not clear. They have expressed the wish to retake possession of the plant, but that is not going to happen. Nobody in their right mind would hand such a potentially dangerous object over to the Ukrainians who have shown by their actions a reckless disregard not only for the inhabitants of the plant, but also the lives and safety of the millions of people living within the likely zone of contamination in the event that the plant is destroyed. The Ukrainians are not of course acting on their own in this reckless conduct. The Ukrainians are backed by the by the full forces of the NATO powers, who seem willing to allow the fighting to continue until the last Ukrainian. There is no realistic possibility of Ukraine ever winning this war and the intervention, through arms, “volunteers” and political support from the western powers who are backing the discredited regime of Zelenskyy. These same Western powers that are backing the Ukraine regime are the same powers who endlessly site their devotion to the “rules based international order” which in the Ukrainian context is no more than a sick joke. The Ukrainian government has recently banned at least nine political groups that oppose it, including those that appeal to a Russian speaking audience. That group has suffered extra restrictions, including the banning of their native language. It is the Western powers that have been supplying the missiles that have been hitting the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant over the past week or so. They must bear a degree of responsibility for the damage that is done to the plant and to the surrounding countryside and neighbouring nations. It has been estimated that the nuclear radioactive contamination that will ensue will be greater than both the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters that have occurred in recent years. Both of these nuclear disasters were accidents and were not deliberately planned for. The Zaporizhzhia disaster by contrast is a deliberately engineered catastrophe. The United Nations’ international nuclear supervisory agency, the IAEA has condemned the attack on Zaporizhzhia as “suicidal”. The United Nations has not however, specifically condemned the Ukrainians for the attack on the plant, claiming instead that there were “conflicting reports”on who was to be held accountable. This is a disgraceful abdication of the UN’s responsibility. It is abundantly obvious who is responsible for the attacks, and that is the Ukrainians. The Russians have no conceivable motive for damaging the plane and to suggest otherwise betrays an alarming lack of logic by the UN. The Kiev regime, together with its United States master, has been the main source of the claim that the Russians are responsible for what is happening at the plant. They say that the Russians are alleging Ukrainian responsibility for the attacks as cover for its own nefarious plans for the nuclear plant. It is an example of the type of twisted logic that one has come to expect from the Ukrainian regime and from their American masters. The latter are constantly seeking the means to criticise Russia and the nuclear power plant is a classic example of them seeking to turn to their advantage a Russian success, in this case the capture of the plant in March, shortly after the beginning of the Russian intervention. There is one other point that clearly illustrates Ukrainian culpability for the missile attacks on the nuclear plant. The evidence clearly demonstrates that the missiles were fired from territory that is still under the control of the Ukrainian forces. It is a relatively simple matter to track missiles from their point of origin and the evidence has clearly demonstrated Ukrainian culpability for the attacks. The attacks on a nuclear power plant illustrate the desperation of the Ukrainian government that despite extensive western military and political support is manifestly losing the war in Ukraine. A further measure of the extent to which the Ukrainian regime will go also came to light a littler over a week ago with a report from Amnesty International. That report made it very clear that the Kiev regime was using civilian centres such as schools and hospitals as well as residential areas as locations for their artillery weapons. When the Russians respond by attacking these weapons centres they are accused by the Ukrainians and by the insipid western media of attacking civilian centres. It is a well-established ploy by the Ukrainians and must be known to the apologists in the western media who continue to present incredibly one-eyed reports of the fighting. The Russians have responded to this barrage of Ukrainian misinformation by summonsing the United Nations Security Council for an emergency session to highlight the dangers posed by the actions of the Ukrainian forces. Russia is calling for IAEA inspectors to be allowed to visit visit and report Ukrainian positions. This has met with predictable opposition from the British and American representatives on the Security Council. Their destructive attitude itself speaks volumes as to the true nature of the western backing of the Ukrainians ion the Wass, regardless of this multiple crimes. There currently seems to be no limited to the steps that the Americans will take to support their Ukrainian allies. Thus far that strategy has been of little direct risk to the Americans who are content to use the Ukrainians as their proxies in this war. How long Russian patience will persist in the face of this strategy is an open question. The Americans for their part seem content to go on pushing at Russian patience. They may learn that such patience is not unlimited. James O’Neill, an Australian-based former Barrister at Law, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

[Category: Columns, Featured, Locations, Politics, Ukraine in the world]

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[l] at 8/16/22 11:55am
On August 7, a delegation of 11 Lithuanian officials led by Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications Agnė Vaiciukevičiūtė arrived in Taiwan on a five-day visit. According to the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry, the purpose of the delegation’s visit is to “strengthen strategic cooperation and business ties in advanced sectors.” In reality, however, the Lithuanian vice-ministers talked about the possibility of signing documents that hinted at Taiwan’s independence, thus sending a signal to the separatist forces on the island that was not friendly to Beijing. Stubbornly pursuing the anti-Beijing course imposed by Washington politicians on the limitrophe country, the Lithuanian Foreign Minister earlier commented on the recent visit of the US House of Representatives speaker to Taiwan, saying that with this move Pelosi supposedly “opened the door” to the island “even wider.” Voicing instructions from Washington on the matter, he expressed confidence that very soon “other defenders of freedom and democracy” would arrive there. At the same time, a few days before the visit of Lithuanian officials to Taiwan, Lithuanian Seimas speaker Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, answering questions from foreign correspondents, said she intended to discuss with leading EU politicians the possibility of a “joint visit to Taiwan” in the near future. In 2022, Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs and Innovation Jovita Neliupšienė and Deputy Minister of Agriculture Egidijus Giedraitis also visited Taiwan, indicating that Vilnius is deliberately implementing the relevant anti-Chinese directives from Washington. Chinese authorities have criticized the visit of Lithuanian government members to Taiwan, believing that Lithuanian officials support the island’s separatists. “We express our strong displeasure over this visit as it is a gross interference in our internal affairs. This is a challenge to the One China principle, a vicious provocation and an attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country. The PRC will retaliate decisively,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin told at a briefing. According to Chinese media, Lithuania, with which China tried to build friendly and mutually beneficial relations after 1991, has since last year become the vanguard of anti-Chinese policies in Europe. However, it should be recalled that before 2019 Lithuania also tried to maintain positive relations with China: back in 2018, while in Beijing, then Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė called cooperation with the PRC “important” and very beneficial. According to UN Comtrade, Lithuania’s exports to China in 2020 amounted to $357.7 million, while imports from the PRC were $1.8 billion, making China the seventh largest import trading partner for Vilnius. Critically reacting to the development of relations between Vilnius and Beijing, Washington immediately made it clear to its Baltic satellite that it would decide with whom Lithuania would be friends and with whom not. In this way, the USA had already chosen Lithuania as a weak link of the European Union, through which any anti-Chinese and anti-Russian initiatives could be thrown in, making Vilnius, which does not have any independence, an instrument of its policy. Thus the situation between Lithuania and China began to change as the US-China trade wars escalated and Lithuania’s “cooperation” with the US intensified. Already in 2019, the Lithuanian State Security Department first called China a threat, and then Lithuanian President G. Nausėda said he sees Chinese investment in Lithuanian ports as a menace as well. This was followed, with blatant initiation by Washington, by a scandal involving Huawei Corporation, which intended to deploy a fifth-generation mobile phone network in Lithuania and which Vilnius indiscriminately accused of spying activities. In February 2021, the Lithuanian Seimas, showing its servile allegiance to Washington, began drafting a resolution on the situation of Uighurs in the “authoritarian communist” PRC, and the MP Dovilė Šakalienė even promised to seek an international investigation into “Beijing’s crimes” in this regard. In March last year, Vilnius announced plans to open a trade and economic representative office in Taiwan, and in May Lithuania left the 17+1 Forum for Cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries and called on other participants to follow suit. With the opening of the first “Taiwan representative office” in the EU in Lithuania on November 18, Lithuanian-Chinese relations took a turn for the worse, with China recalling its Ambassador from Vilnius and suggesting that Lithuania do the same. Beijing then decided to downgrade diplomatic relations with the Baltic republic to Chargé daffaires. And in December of the same year, the Chinese government banned imports of goods from Lithuania, after which Lithuanian exporters were excluded from the Celestial Empire’s customs system, which stopped allowing Lithuanian goods and goods with Lithuanian components into the country, and also stopped accepting import applications from Lithuania. These sanctions tactics by Beijing have led to a 40% drop in cargo turnover in the port of Klaipeda alone and to desperate appeals by Vilnius to the US and EU for help against the Chinese sanctions.  However, a loophole was found in these sanctions goods went through the ports of neighboring countries. At some point, the European Commission’s efforts apparently bore fruit, and the Baltic Republic returned to the PRC’s customs systems.  However, China did teach Vilnius a lesson by showing where sanctions from the “collective West” can lead. Although the PRC then loosened its grip temporarily, the move nevertheless signaled that it wanted to see whether Lithuania was ready to “re-educate” itself. If not, the demonstration lesson could be repeated. That said, however, it should be noted that the economic logic behind Vilnius’ decision to ostensibly support Taiwan clearly does not work. Back in the early 1990s, such logic would have been politically shaky, but economically understandable, as there was then a mirage of “inexhaustible Taiwanese investment”. Today, however, the situation is different, especially in the context of the economic crisis in the Baltic Republic itself. And the only explanation for the current moves by Vilnius in this direction can only be the hopes of Lithuania to be compensated by the United States for losses from such openly anti-Chinese moves in economic and military-political terms. Vilnius is clearly counting on the US to further strengthen the Baltic bridgehead as part of its military containment of Russia, as well as to provide the Lithuanian government with a new generous compensation in the form of hundreds of millions of dollars in direct loan guarantees, while de facto helping not so much Vilnius as its own companies. However, all indications are that, despite possible American “compensation”, Vilnius will in any case be the main loser in this story.  After all, it has managed not only to make an enemy of Beijing, but also to set Europe up and, in relations with Washington, to move from the rank of satellite to the even less honorable category of “provocateurs”. And as history shows, the United States leaves them to the mercy of fate as soon as it sees fit. Valery Kulikov, political expert, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.  

[Category: China, Columns, Eastern Asia, Featured, Locations, Politics]

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[l] at 8/16/22 11:40am
In the Arab world, the old balance of power has rapidly changed according to the famous proverb “all things are in flux”, and Saudi Arabia with its architect Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud (MBS) is increasingly coming to the fore. The Crown Prince is determined to lead and transform the entire Arab world in the period of the current rapidly changing environment, but on new and equal footing with other nations. Two events have cemented and dramatically reinforced Saudi Arabia’s position as a regional political power, perhaps more than anything before. First, the failed visit of US President Joe Biden, with its goals of reasserting America’s influence in the Middle East and finding a solution to the rising price of fuel. “Unexpectedly” Biden discovered that the Middle East is drastically different from what his much-experienced “experts and advisers” had informed him of. Second, just as Biden, the Crown Prince held meetings and visits in preparation for the Jeddah summit. He had a highly successful tour of Egypt, Turkey and Jordan, coupled with fruitful talks with some of the summit’s other attendees. The outcome was a well-prepared plan and a clear agenda, not only for the Jeddah summit, the city where the priorities of the Middle East were brought at the forefront, but also for the near future. While the West might have long viewed Saudi Arabia’s importance as being based on its religious significance and economic power, thanks to its oil production, the picture is now very different. It turns out that there is a major geopolitical power in the region that can, and should, replace Western influence. It is Shiite Iran.  However, from an international relations perspective, the past few weeks also signified historic zigzags in the dynamics of Muslim power in the Middle East. Tehran’s announcement immediately after the Jeddah summit that it had reached nuclear bomb development capabilities undermined the foundations of Western influence and complicated the dynamics of Arab power in the region. Biden’s visit, the Crown Prince’s tour and the Jeddah summit might have been offset by the nuclear milestone announcement, which also marked the end of any prospective nuclear deal with Iran. At least in the shape long expected by the international community.  Now, from a regional security perspective, everyone must be very worried about the Iranian Ayatollahs’ announcement. As the factors change, the response and overall orientation of the Arabs ought to be changed too. All regional actors, above all the Arab ummah, must now clearly define their role in stabilising the region. For Saudi Arabia, it continues to enhance its political power and influence within the Arab world through two main approaches. First and foremost, MBS actively furthers regional rapprochement and solidifies his relations with Middle Eastern actors, particularly Jordan and Iraq. Negotiations in Baghdad with the Iranians to re-establish diplomatic relations play no small part in this, which would go some way towards easing tensions between the two countries. The one also should not discount the ongoing clandestine contacts between emissaries from Israel and Saudi Arabia, where bilateral issues are actively discussed. Furthermore, the rather ambitious and young MBS, having failed to deal properly with a number of problems and having gained enough experience, has now increasingly resorted to the use of so-called soft power to promote its political-economic course. This includes making more business deals regionally and exploring direct investment. This even includes direct implementation of infrastructure development projects that provide sustainable investment returns. The ultimate goal may be that Riyadh becomes the most important investor in key strategic countries of the region. It is quite natural that in this case it concerns the considerable sums available to the Crown Prince. In the first quarter of this year alone, the Saudi surplus was more than $20 billion and judging by high oil prices it is not about to shrink. It is important to bear in mind that Jordan itself is interested in the peaceful development of the region and should be concerned if any potential Iranian confrontation with Saudi Arabia or Israel would put Jordan in a geopolitically insecure position.  Iraq has a major role to play since it has open communication channels with Iran. Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi has proven his ability to balance relations with both Riyadh and Tehran and thus can bring the two states closer to resuming talks. He can also clarify Iran’s intentions to convince the Arabs that they are making a mistake continuing to consider Iran an isolated revolutionary state of the 1980s. In an important presentation to journalists, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman detailed his plan for profound economic reforms and development changes, that he believes will put many Arab countries firmly on the path to modernisation and progress. A “new Europe” is emerging in the Middle East, he said. For now, only the UAE has generally set a new bar in this regard. Thanks to its geography, demography, historical status and current experience, Egypt has been highly assessed for its progress, while other Arab countries such as Jordan, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar have also received their due share of praise from MBS. While “reform, modernisation and progress” have been for some time the key words of Saudi Arabia’s startling evolution, what is new is how this has been linked to the future of the region as a whole. It is well known that the situation in the region in comparison with the rest of the world is far from encouraging and is perceived by many countries as an “exception” to the global trends of globalisation, democratisation and modernisation. The region has been “inseparable” from religious zealotry, insularity as well as civil and sectarian strife. The Arab Spring gave hope that this prognosis had been wrong. But then civil war erupted again in a number of Arab countries, and the region seemed drawn back to jihadist groups, the so-called caliphate and chronic hostility to the West and progress. However, much has happened in the Arab world. And many developments have taken place particularly since the beginning of the decade, when many Arab countries embarked on ambitious and comprehensive programmes of socio-economic reform. According to MBS, the fundamental pillars of this process are as follows: - Emphasis on the nation state including its national identity, historical depth and political unity. Within this framework, the renewal of religious thought and further course to bring religion into line with the concept of a modern civil state is an important component of national unity. - A comprehensive change in terms of the geographical horizons of the development process. Whereas “from the river to the sea” describes Egypt’s aspiration to develop from the Nile Valley to the Mediterranean and Red Seas, for Saudi Arabia it is “from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea”. The beliefs that the Arabs are doomed to live in desert and suffer from aridity while enjoying oil as their only wealth are no longer relevant. We can now see how the sand of the deserts is the building material for industry, the seas become bridges and channels of communication, and the Arabs themselves using the power of reason and creative energy is able build more prosperous societies. - Unity of political will. Strength and novelty of this commitment can work wonders, which in more scientific terms mean progress in a shorter time. It was Mohammed bin Salman who added this pillar while promoting a new mode of relations among reforming countries, that replaces rivalry and envy with a common cause and attitude for all the Arabs. In this case, the linking idea is to work together to create a new region similar to Europe after it ceased to live in the Middle Ages and entered the modern era. “New regionalism”, as this approach has been called, emanates from domestic reforms and extends to regional cooperation, mitigation of regional conflicts and tensions. The maritime boundary agreement between Egypt and Saudi Arabia could already see the potential for new and fruitful endeavours. The agreement opened the door to regional integration between Sinai in north-eastern Egypt and AlUla in north-western Saudi Arabia. Together, these areas form a political and developmental unit in the northern Red Sea shaping geopolitical and geostrategic reality that can lay a firm basis for regional stability and powerful economic development. It is curious that just recently, this regionalism manifested itself in the convergence of views of the heads of nine Arab states at a meeting with the US president in Jeddah. The fact that the Arab leaders spoke with virtually one voice about what was unacceptable from their point of view established new rules of conduct for the region inside and out. Furthermore, it was the Arabian unity of views that turned Biden’s visit into a failure and showed what tremendous changes have taken place in the Arab world. Back in Washington, the US president urgently instructed his aides to develop a new vision for relations with the Arab countries. Above all, it concerns the new relationship with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which directly affects the price of a barrel of gasoline in the US. Finally, MBS thinks that the US should reorganise its plans, “revitalise its approach” to Iran and do much more than just impose sanctions against it as they have proved to be utterly useless. Washington should also act quickly and sensibly in anticipation of a possible change of president after the 2024 elections. It also has to continuously consult with the region’s current leaders before taking any action. The point is that if the West wants to support the Middle East, it has to do so only through its partners and refrain from its own ill-judged moves. And this in fact is confirmed by a recent report by the Tony Blair Institute, which showed that the West holds many misconceptions about modernisation in the Middle East and the policies it is now pursuing in the Arab world. Viktor Mikhin, corresponding member of RANS, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

[Category: Columns, Featured, Locations, Middle East, Politics, Saudi Arabia]

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[l] at 8/15/22 9:50pm
The recent successful tour of African countries by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visiting Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda and Congo, as well as the conclusion of important strategic agreements by Russia with several African countries, have had a strong resonance in the international community. Among Western leaders, these developments have caused great concern and jealousy for fear of losing their position on the Dark Continent altogether. As a result, the US replaced the commander of AFRICOM. General Michael Langley, the first African-American to be promoted to the rank of four-star general in the history of the US Marine Corps, became the new commander. Alongside this, the West launched a trend of visiting Africa among Western politicians. Following Sergey Lavrov, French President Emmanuel Macron and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s caravans landed in Africa, a number of other Western politicians expressed their willingness to undertake similar visits to the Dark Continent. However, both Macron and Blinken failed spectacularly in Africa. For example, Macron embarrassed himself by his behavior when, during a meeting with Beninese Foreign Minister Aurélien Agbenonci, the French President unexpectedly touched his shoulder in a familiar manner, after which Agbenonci immediately squeamishly shook off the spot that Macron had touched. In doing so, he expressed blatant disregard for the French President, as readers of Haber7 in Turkey, in particular, felt. Blinken’s African tour also turned out to be a failure, despite a raft of US officials who had visited the continent before, promising financial support to African partners and even hinting at the removal of tariffs on exports. However, Washington’s arrogant tone, claiming world domination, has only led to irritation on the Dark Continent. And this was demonstrated, in particular, by Blinken’s extremely tense negotiations in South Africa, where he berated the authorities for their reluctance to criticize Moscow and support anti-Russian resolutions in the UN Security Council. In response, the republic’s Foreign Minister reprimanded the American and urged him not to pressurize the sovereign state, hinting at the hypocrisy of the US and its policy of double standards. As the American magazine Foreign Policy reported the other day, the main obstacle for Washington, which recently adopted a new strategy for sub-Saharan Africa, is the unwillingness of African countries to be dragged into “a new cold war between Russia and the United States”. It is therefore not surprising that in recent years a growing number of Western analysts have recognized that African states are entitled to strengthen their relations with Russia in particular. This is especially the line advocated by French political analyst Fabrice Beor on Afrique Media, who stressed that African countries want nothing to do with France and the West, they do not want to be bossed around. At the same time, he recalled that it was Moscow that was really helping the states of the Dark Continent to take their destinies in their own hands, and that after a period of bondage to the West they had chosen a course of rapprochement with Russia. Another French political scientist, Gamal Abina, took a similar stand on Afrique Media TV, stressing that Russia’s presence in Africa is much more necessary and effective than the predatory approach of Western countries. G. Abina especially stressed that any agreement with the West, verbal or written, has never been respected, citing in particular the example of France’s failed counter-terrorism efforts on the continent. According to him, it was the US and Europe that repeatedly tried to destabilize many African countries in order to overthrow governments they did not like, and many Dark Continent countries were saved from coups by Russia’s involvement, including in ensuring the preservation of their sovereignty. In particular, Assimi Goïta, President of Mali’s transitional period, expressed his gratitude for Russia’s effective support when he phoned Russian President Vladimir Putin on August 10. During their talks, the leaders discussed a number of issues related to possible deliveries of food, fertilizers and fuel from Russia to the republic and expressed satisfaction with the level of Russian-Malian cooperation in the foreign policy sphere, including the coordination of positions through the UN. Assimi Goïta stressed his gratitude to Vladimir Putin for Russia’s multifaceted support for Mali. Putin’s talks with Assimi Goïta were another important indication of Russia’s growing ties with Africa, which sees Russia as an important symbol of liberation, a reliable partner. This situation allows Russia to successfully occupy a special place in the world system of coordinates, returning to the position held by the USSR, which helped African countries to fight Western neocolonialism. As for Mali, Russia, as is known, has recently been training the army of that African country, thanks to which the republic’s armed forces have improved combat readiness and conducted a number of successful anti-terrorist operations against Islamic radicals, in particular Daesh and al-Qaeda (both terrorist groups are banned in the Russian Federation). For example, on August 7, the Malian National Army repelled a terrorist attack in the east of the country near the town of Tessit, on the border with Burkina Faso and Niger. As a result, 37 terrorists were eliminated and the National Army once again demonstrated its high level of training and readiness to repel any armed threat from the jihadists. For a long time, regional security in Mali had been provided by Paris, without apparent success, since France had been more concerned with protecting the interests of major transnational commodity companies and implementing a neo-colonial policy where a country appears to have sovereignty, but in practice both human and natural resources are siphoned from it. As a result of such activities of the Fifth Republic, militant groups had intensified their operations in Mali, which could only be effectively countered and eliminated after strengthening ties between Moscow and Bamako and establishing peace in the country. According to the results of a sociological survey conducted by the Foundation for the Defense of National Values (FDNV) among Malians at the end of July, most of them attribute the positive changes in the country to the accession to power of a young patriot and military officer Assimi Goïta, and the direction taken by the authorities of this African country towards deepening and consolidating relations and multifaceted cooperation with Russia. Vladimir Danilov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.  

[Category: Africa, Columns, Featured, Locations, Mali, Politics]

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[l] at 8/15/22 2:15pm
What many in the West at first dismissed as a tantrum thrown by Beijing over the unauthorized visit of US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan appears instead to be a carefully thought-out strategy designed to incrementally reassert Chinese sovereignty over the island territory. Beijing’s ability to do this is underwritten by the nation’s growing military might. Through a unique and powerful missile arsenal to a capable and growing air force, navy, and ground force, China has created the means through which to reverse decades of injustice, encroachment, and encirclement by the West against the Chinese people and their territory. Even Western analysts and military experts admit that China’s military capabilities have grown to world-class levels. These capabilities will be key to achieving and defending Chinese sovereignty now and into the future, through deterrence if possible, or through force if necessary. The Long Sword: China’s Missile Force Throughout human history weapons have been used to give a fighting force a greater reach than their adversaries. Be it sword, spear, or arrow, those with the longest and most effective reach often dominate the battlefield. On today’s battlefield, this reach is achieved through missiles. China’s modern missile forces are the largest and most capable on Earth according to even Western analysts. Through a combination of long, medium, intermediate, and short range missiles as well as a variety of cruise missiles, China has the ability to hit targets near and far. The US government and arms industry-funded Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) through its “China Power” project wrote a paper titled, “How Are China’s Land-based Conventional Missile Forces Evolving?,” which admitted: Conventionally armed (non-nuclear) missiles have become an increasingly important component of military power. They can be employed to deter threats or project power hundreds or thousands of kilometers away. As part of sweeping efforts to modernize the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), China has developed one of the most powerful land-based conventional missile arsenals in the world. The same paper would also admit: According to the US Department of Defense (DoD), China’s missile forces in 2000 “were generally of short range and modest accuracy.” In the years since then, China has developed the world’s “largest and most diverse” arsenal of ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles. The PLA Rocket Force, which maintains and operates China’s land-based conventional and nuclear missiles, has fielded multiple new missile systems over the last several years. Many of these missiles are capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear payloads. The paper describes cruise missiles able to hit land targets anywhere on potential battlefields like Taiwan, carrier-killer missiles reportedly able to target and destroy US carrier groups, and hypersonic missiles that can penetrate the most advanced Western missile defense systems. Even without the ability to penetrate Western missile defenses, the sheer number of Chinese missiles could saturate and overwhelm them. China’s missile forces have been built up specifically to keep the United States and its allies from building up military forces along its periphery and thus threaten Chinese territorial integrity. Together with Chinese air defenses and anti-ship systems, China has assembled formidable anti-access, area denial (A2AD) capabilities that would prevent US military forces from even reaching Chinese targets let alone engaging them. It is also worth noting that China has developed significantly capable multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) in the form of its Type PCL191. It fires more rockets than its US counterparts, fires them further, and with at least as much accuracy guided by China’s BeiDou Navigation Satellite System. A Business Insider article titled, “Chinas new rocket launcher system is its most powerful ever, and its looming over the Taiwan Strait,” would note: The system is capable of firing eight 370 mm rockets a distance of 350 km or two 750 mm ballistic missiles 500 km. This means that China’s MLRS capabilities can reach any location in or around Taiwan from the mainland. In fact the bulk of any potential Chinese military operation regarding Taiwan and potential US intervention can be carried out from the mainland with China’s extensive and capable missile and rocket forces. The Shield: Chinese A2AD Russian military operations in Ukraine have been defined by Russia’s own long range fires as well as A2AD. It’s premier S-400 air defense system exists at the top of an ecosystem of other shorter range air defenses that when networked and layered make the air space they protect virtually impenetrable. Together with long range strike weapons like artillery and short-range ballistic missiles like the Iskander, there is nowhere for Ukrainian forces to hide and certainly no way for them to advance into Russia positions. By moving these capabilities forward, Russia has been incrementally securing territory from the regime in Kiev. Not only has China emulated many tactics and strategies from Russia, it has also outright purchased the best the Russian Federation has to offer. Between 2018-2020 China purchased two regiments of Russia’s S-400 systems. China also produces a wide variety of its own air defense systems based on the Russian S-300, Russia’s Tor system, as well as systems incorporating certain aspects of the US Patriot missile system. While Chinese air defenses have not been put to the test like their Russian counterparts, it stands to reason they would perform with similar efficiency and prevent US forces and other potential interlopers from entering Chinese airspace let alone cause damage within it. The Dagger: Chinese Airpower The People’s Liberation Army Airforce employs hundreds of modern warplanes including the Chengdu J-10, the Shenyang J-11 and J-16, as well as scores of its newest warplane, the Chengdu J-20. As with Chinese air defenses, Chinese airpower has been heavily influenced by Russian military aviation. Over the years in addition to its own warplanes, China has purchased a number of advanced Russian warplanes including the SU-27, SU-30, and most recently, the SU-35 according to the Diplomat in its 2019 article, “Russia Offers China Another Batch of Su-35 Fighter Jets.” While China’s airforce has not seen combat, the fact that it possesses a large number of Russian warplanes hints they will perform in a similar manner to Russian airpower as demonstrated in Syria from 2015 onward and now in military operations in Ukraine. The warplanes themselves are merely platforms for advanced avionics and weapons, the latter of which is a central factor defining the success of any nation’s airforce. The US government and arms industry-funded International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in a paper titled, “Chinese and Russian air-launched weapons: a test for Western air dominance,” would note the advancements of Chinese air-to-air missiles (AAMs) stating: The extent of Chinese progress in the air-to-air guided-weapons arena was apparent with the introduction of the PL-10 AAM. This weapon provided a marked improvement in performance over the previous generation of short-range missiles operated by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), and its development has placed China among the handful of nations with a defence-industrial base capable of producing such a weapon. The paper would also note: China is also developing a very-long-range AAM intended to be used to attack high-value targets such as tanker, airborne early-warning, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft. Furthermore, Beijing appears to be pursuing two or more configurations of rocket-ramjet AAMs. By the early to mid-2020s, China will clearly have a broader – and far more capable – range of air-to-air weapons to complement the combat aircraft that are now in development. These will likely force the US and its regional allies to re-examine not only their tactics, techniques and procedures, but also the direction of their own combat-aerospace development programmes. Chinese airpower when coupled together with its formidable A2AD capabilities creates a modern day sword and shield able to take on virtually any threat. Other Critical Factors One area in which the US still dominates is through its submarine fleet. While China possesses a large number of submarines with improving capabilities, the US is still thought to have an advantage in this field. US submarines could disrupt cross-strait shipping as well as threaten Chinese ground targets with submarine-launched cruise missiles. US submarines would be one of the few platforms able to potentially breach Chinese A2AD capabilities. Because modern submarine warfare is rare, it is difficult to draw from recent examples to predict possible outcomes regarding submarine warfare between the US and China and is a critical factor that only time will fully reveal. Chinese media, cyber and space-based military capabilities would also be critical in any potential conflict and are areas the US clearly understands parity is nearly reached with its own capabilities or has already been reached. Other critical factors that would come into play during the most likely conflicts China faces would be the capabilities of its ground forces. Chinese tanks and armored vehicles have been developed through lessons learned from Russian platforms and are admittedly on par with their Western counterparts in terms of fire control, armor, and countermeasures against anti-tank missiles. Chinese artillery also follows the Russian model, a model proving itself deadly and effective in Ukraine. Underwriting all of these capabilities is China’s massive industrial base. Western experts including those at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in a paper titled, “The Return of Industrial Warfare,” would note that the West has fallen behind Russia in this regard. The paper claims: This situation is especially critical because behind the Russian invasion stands the world’s manufacturing capital – China. As the US begins to expend more and more of its stockpiles to keep Ukraine in the war, China has yet to provide any meaningful military assistance to Russia. The West must assume that China will not allow Russia to be defeated, especially due to a lack of ammunition. If competition between autocracies and democracies has really entered a military phase, then the arsenal of democracy must first radically improve its approach to the production of materiel in wartime. If it is true that the West lags behind Russia in terms of its military industrial production, it is many times more true in regards to China. While the RUSI paper admits this is a problem the West must rectify, it is unlikely able to. Whatever steps the West takes to improve its military industrial capacity, both Russia and China will not only match such steps but ensure they remain far ahead of them. Even should US capabilities match those of China, the fact that it is provoking a conflict halfway around the world particularly in regards to Taiwan puts it at a disadvantage logistically. It is a fight the US holds multiple disadvantages in and a fight the US should not be picking in the first place. China has carefully for decades cultivated its military capabilities to defend China from foreign aggression, subjugation, and the humiliation associated with it, all of which the Chinese people have suffered at the hands of Western powers in the past. With the US military itself admitting Chinese military capabilities are in some ways reaching parity with US military capabilities and in other areas surpassing them, the notion of the US using military force with impunity in or around Chinese territory has significantly diminished. In fact, the desperate, reckless urgency that has taken hold of Washington in recent years in regards to China and Washington’s growing inability to “contain” it is at the center of US provocations like Pelosi’s recent visit to Taiwan. It will now be a matter of Beijing managing additional and increasingly desperate provocations by the US against China to defend Chinese national security while avoiding a potentially destructive conflict with the United States. The most logical decision Washington could make is to adopt a multipolar mindset allowing it to peacefully coexist alongside China and other nations rather than its current continued attempts to assert itself above all other nations. Brian Berletic is a Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

[Category: China, Columns, Eastern Asia, Featured, Locations, Politics]

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[l] at 8/15/22 2:00pm
My former neighbour in the US wrote to me, tongue in cheek, a few days ago. “I was told the Ukrainian civil war is over and Russia won because the Azov Battalion was wiped out. There is a total media blackout in the US, and worse than that – so much disinformation before and how it will be justified in the end. I suppose that now the US has a new problem …this is China!!” It is Not as Simple as That! This man must be locked in a cave, as CNN and all the rest of the gang are still pummeling the Russians. Meanwhile the West and its Ministries of Propaganda are in damage control mode. Take for instance when CBS News recently pulled a documentary and had to amend a feature story that claimed 70% of foreign weapons never make it to the front lines in Ukraine. For some unknown reason, the Biden administration/government didnt agree with it, or something. Since the documentary is no longer available on CBS, it was re-uploaded it here and there on YouTube. But who knows how long it will be allowed to stay. According to the documentary, less than 30% of the weapons arrive at their destination. But it not too hard to answer that question, David Arakhamia, the majority leader of Ukraine’s parliament and Kyiv’s top negotiator, called on US and NATO allies to quickly supply Kyiv with additional weapons, citing a lack of progress in brokering a peace treaty with Moscow. Ukraine knows why many of the weapons, US and NATO supplied, are not making it to the front and many have disappeared. I wonder what he might know about that. Now, do you understand why his diplomatic passport was recently revoked? I suspect he may disappear as well, as have the weapons. He is too open in what he has been doing for the government and with foreign governments—especially with contacts and networks in Georgia. But where are the rest? The link to the CBS programme reads, “the page may have been removed, had its name changed, or is just temporarily unavailable”. We removed a tweet promoting our recent doc, Arming Ukraine, which quoted the founder of the nonprofit Blue-Yellow, Jonas Ohmans assessment in late April that only around 30% of aid was reaching the front lines in Ukraine. The changes were made amid an outcry from the Ukrainian government and its supporters. Now Republicans who did not vote for the “no strings attached” funding for arms and money to Ukraine are pounding their chests and saying “we hate to tell you so but we told you so!” Don’t Bite the Hand that Feeds You! Meanwhile, Ukraine has made a blacklist of politicians and scholars who have been labelled as Russian propagandists. This list includes Americans, meaning Ukraine is imposing censorship on Americans who do not close ranks with Kyiv and the Biden administration in a war of convenience, as reported by Tucker Carlson of Fox News and the mainstream media. However, the truth of Ukraine and its military operations is now being exposed – in spite of the spin that shows a different story. You can post anything on Facebook (radical organization banned in Russia), or whatever it is called these days, as long as it is anti-Russian, but people on the ground are telling a different story in their own homes, where it is more difficult for official lines to penetrate. The rhetoric is heating up, and Ukraine and its spin doctors are looking for other means of getting their point across. These include trashing the reputation of Amnesty International over its recent report documenting how Ukraine regularly uses schools and public areas to shield its military activities, blatantly and recklessly using the local population as human shields. With few exceptions, access to mainstream sites with other views on things in Ukraine, and those which take exception to US and NATO policy, is a rare exception today. Roger Waters, one of the founders of Pink Floyd, is one of the few artists and pop musicians who have kept their wits about them, and have the courage to speak out publicly about their different view of things. Waters described Bidens actions in Ukraine as those of a war criminal – and the action of reaction of NATO pushing right up to the Russian border as what it is! It is easy to dismiss those views as those of a mere artist, who knows nothing of hard political affairs, until you consider where Zelensky himself came from, and Ronald Reagan, Jan Paderewski and others who didn’t suddenly develop a new capability when someone voted for them. Ordeal of Ukraine’s Disinformation Board: Terrible Idea, Terrible Results Now Volodymyr Zelensky claims that the way to stop Russia from annexing any more of Ukraine’s territory is to revert to more punitive measures. He is calling for Western countries to ban all Russian citizens from entering their countries. He fails to understand that sanctions don’t work, though those who are behind him should by now. We only have to recall the Bush era War on Drugs, with all the punishment that entailed for non-compliant and presumed guilty countries, which had no effect whatsoever on the consumption, criminal trafficking and distribution of narcotics. Zelensky’s propaganda efforts may have proved to be too effective, as even American politicians, including all Democrats, have swallowed the disinformation hook, line and sinker. Now they have to make it real to make their solutions work, like they did in Iraq with the non-existent weapons of mass destruction, a failure Western governments are still very uncomfortable explaining away. All Coming to a Head! Perhaps it would be better to ban Zelensky and his minions as a step in the right direction – towards peaceful negotiations. It is all coming to a head in Ukraine, and the sooner the better, as it is high time for reconciliation and reconstruction, and an end to the needless destruction. Zelensky said Russians should “live in their own world until they change their philosophy.” If he stays in his own, he may have a political future what will be Ukraine proper, but only if he starts learning Polish in the meantime. Yes, Russians live their own world, and it is a tough one for now. However gas and oil will find a market like water finds its level. Sanctions will not prevent the sale of Russian oil, but they will burden it with additional costs. Of course, with the current global oil price, life goes on. But if there is no alternative to Russian oil it is the end users who will have to bear these costs, and no one will be able to blame the Russians for them on one hand, and keep buying their oil on the other. The thing about sanctions is that some people will make a bigger profit than under normal trading. Even in the hyperinflation of the Weimar Republic, when the exchange rate at one point was 4,210,500,000,000 deutschmarks marks to the dollar, some businessmen were able to make large profits by not playing by the rules, exactly what sanctions are about. Russian gas sales to the EU will continue as there are insufficient alternatives. Anytime there is a profit motive there will be ways to get round sanctions, as we have learned from Iran and South Africa, and more recently the relative prosperity of prewar Armenia. For example, there is a pipeline from Kazakhstan that goes through Russia (from the Tengiz Field-CPC). If some Russian crude was added, would the shipment be rejected? South Africa under apartheid was subject to all sorts of sanctions, just as neighbouring Rhodesia was after declaring unilateral independence from the UK to maintain white minority rule. In both cases, they were still able to get oil, and were the most developed countries in Africa at the time. There had to be some transfers to intermediaries, and that cost a little extra, but there were still enough well-wishers around to make profit more important than principle, amongst them Sir Garfield Weston, now known primarily through the charitable foundation which bears his name, despite how much of its endowment came from sanctions busting and his enthusiastic support of the apartheid regime. Now there seems to be a concerted effort, at least according to the New York Times, to impose a total embargo on Russian oil. This is close to a full-scale declaration of war, at least a proxy one, as everyone will be forced to take sides, and won’t be able to choose their side in most cases. However, turning off the Russian oil tap is easier said than done, as petroleum projects are sold on an international market. For the West, especially Western Europe, to close ranks over this is like cutting off your nose to spite your face. Addictions are Hard to Break The West is more than dependent on Russian oil and gas, especially gas, than it ever imagined. It is perhaps better and more accurate to use the term addicted. However it will not be too difficult for Russia to shift much of its export market to China and India if it chooses to. Who now is kowtowing to American pressure to close ranks in punishing Russia for pursuing its own national security interests and protecting the rights of ethnic Russians in Ukraine? In fact, the oil is already flowing, with discounts, to China and India, and it is not hard to see that Western countries will find innovative ways to circumvent sanctions. People soon stopped being suspicious when they were no longer told where their food came from, the labels suddenly reading “produce of more than one country”. As long as no one has to use the word Russian, that element will still be there. Not all European countries are interested in the EU-wide ban on Russian oil. Hungary and Slovakia are interested in their own energy security, especially gas, and are not keen to follow the lead of other countries who are more into political expediency and punitive actions than economic realities. The irony is that the citizens of every former Eastern Bloc state begged for years to be free of the political expediency and punitive actions imposed upon them by the Soviet Union, but were repeatedly let down by a West which told them overthrowing communism wasn’t realistic. As independent states, they are seeking better realities, and finding themselves excluded from these by the West which continually preached their virtues. Thats why the EU is giving these two countries more time, to show some understanding of their plight. Officially they will be given till December 2023 to ban Russian oil. It is even likely that more leeway will be allowed, as they dont consume so much, for the sake of purported European solidarity. If the EU and the West really want to get serious and have hard-hitting sanctions, they need to ban Russian gas and go back to burning wood and dirty high sulphur coal. It is going to be hard for the EU to go Cold Turkey – so it might be better to start damming some rivers and hope that the wind blows, and there will be lots of sunny weather, for an alternative fuel source. The rhetoric is strong but let us to see what happens next, considering the price of oil in the world market, short supplies, and the dynamics of supply and demand (greed) at play in many members of OPEC. It is just a matter of time before the collective West cuts off our ability to communicate; Facebook and YouTube already have, as have social and mass media in general. Sanctions and free speech are at opposite sides of the river of normalcy, and when the West cannot win the proxy war in person, then they will win it on paper, and how it is reported or recorded by historians. Huxley summed it up: By means of ever more effective methods of mind-manipulation, the democracies will change their nature; the quaint old forms— elections, parliaments, Supreme Courts and all the rest—will remain. Democracy and freedom will be the theme of every broadcast and editorial. Meanwhile the ruling oligarchy and its highly trained elite of soldiers, policemen, thought-manufacturers and mind-manipulators will quietly run the show as they see fit. Yes, run the show, however, the show must go on—and it will not be the West that is allowed to write the script. Henry Kamens, columnist, expert on Central Asia and Caucasus, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

[Category: Columns, Featured, Locations, Politics, USA in the World]

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[l] at 8/15/22 1:35pm
In recent decades, the PRC has achieved outstanding success in foreign policy by developing economic and political relations with various countries around the world. However, relations with the nearest neighbors are of particular importance for any country, and the security of the state often depends on relations with them. Every powerful state that plays a significant role in the international arena creates a “security sphere” around itself composed of its closest neighbors, while offering them mutually beneficial cooperation and protection in exchange for loyalty. If it is not possible to establish close and lasting relations with neighbors, then they may fall under the influence of competitors and become their springboard, thus turning into a constant source of threat for the country in question. Therefore, it is not surprising that the PRC attaches special importance to its relations with the nearest states, including the countries of Southeast Asia. The latter is a rapidly developing region in which the population and industry are continuously growing. This makes Southeast Asia a very promising partner in terms of economic cooperation. On the other hand, it is a rather unstable region plagued by poverty, mass crime, drug trafficking and terrorism, and a certain part of this region is controlled by illegal armed groups. First of all, we are talking about certain areas of countries such as Myanmar, etc. Thus, in order to secure its southern borders, China needs not only to develop trade with Southeast Asian countries, but also to maintain its influence there so as not to allow excessive strengthening of groups hostile to China. As far as is known, the main opponent of China in the international arena is currently the United States. It is trying in every way to increase its influence in Southeast Asia in order to restrain the development of the PRC and gain access to its borders. The United States has firmly established itself in countries such as the Philippines and Singapore, where American military bases are located, which significantly limits the regional capabilities of the PRC. However, Beijing is also expanding its position in these countries. For instance, now it is already the main trading partner of Singapore and one of the main ones for the Philippines. Over time, economic influence can turn into political and military preponderance. Since China needs to cover all Southeast Asian countries with its activities, it is important for it to cooperate with the organization uniting the region, namely, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). This goal is being actively achieved. Back in 2003, the PRC joined the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, which underlies the activities of ASEAN, but at the same time is open for non-regional states to join. Also in 2003, the PRC and ASEAN declared their strategic partnership. In 2010, a free trade agreement entered into force between China and ASEAN, which established ASEAN as the main market for Chinese high-tech products, and the PRC as the main importer of cheap agricultural products from ASEAN countries. In November 2020, China and ASEAN signed an agreement on Comprehensive Regional Economic Partnership, within the framework of which the world’s largest free trade zone (FTZ) was created; in addition to the PRC and ASEAN themselves, it also included Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, and Japan. The member countries of the new FTZ account for almost 30% of the world economy. A year later, in November 2021, the level of China-ASEAN strategic partnership was officially raised to comprehensive. On July 11, 2022, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. During the meeting, Wang Yi recalled that China is ASEAN’s largest neighbor and its main trading partner. The Chinese Foreign Minister also noted that ASEAN plays a priority role for Chinese foreign policy, and the PRC has always supported the development of this organization and its leading role in the region. According to Wang Yi, China is ready to continue working together with ASEAN for the common good. The Chinese Foreign Minister also said that, given the tense international situation, China and ASEAN should be ready to resist the attempts of world powers to draw the region into a global geopolitical confrontation and force the Southeast Asian countries to join one or another bloc. Wang Yi was probably hinting at US activities. In turn, ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi spoke highly of China’s role in strengthening ASEAN and supporting its pivotal role in Southeast Asia, and also thanked China for its assistance in combating the COVID-19 pandemic and promoting economic recovery after the lockdown crisis. Lim Jock Hoi said that ASEAN hopes to further develop cooperation with Beijing. It can be concluded that at the regional level, China’s interaction with the Southeast Asian countries is developing in line with Beijing’s plans. But there are also some countries within ASEAN with which the Celestial Empire has particularly good relations, for example, Cambodia and Laos. The latter, among other things, is united with the PRC by belonging to the socialist camp. Another socialist-oriented state in Southeast Asia is Vietnam. However, it is difficult to call that country a full-fledged ally of the PRC, since there are territorial issues between Hanoi and Beijing, which even turned into a war in 1979. These contradictions are still relevant, and it is not surprising that Vietnam is developing relations with the PRC with caution. However, China is actively working to strengthen its influence in that country. Shortly after the meeting with the ASEAN Secretary General, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh during the 14th meeting of the Sino-Vietnamese Steering Commission on Bilateral Cooperation, which was held in Nanning (PRC) on July 13, 2022. Wang Yi made a number of proposals, such as bringing Sino-Vietnamese relations to a new level of strategic cooperation, intensifying the exchange of public administration experience, and developing economic cooperation. In general, according to the Chinese minister, both countries should work intensively to build a Sino-Vietnamese “society of a single destiny.” Pham Binh Minh replied that relations with the PRC are one of the priorities for Hanoi, and that Vietnam is ready to cooperate with China in various fields and to contact it at a high level. However, in general, the speech of the Vietnamese official seems more restrained. Apparently, his country still treats the PRC with a degree of wariness. Nonetheless, it is noteworthy that according to available data, the PRC is the main trading partner of Vietnam now, while in 2019, the United States occupied this place. Such success of Beijing in relations with one of the most developed and independent ASEAN countries suggests that China’s influence in Southeast Asia is reaching a completely new level. Petr Konovalov, a political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.  

[Category: China, Columns, Eastern Asia, Economics, Featured, Locations]

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[l] at 8/15/22 12:20am
The visit of US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan was met with bewilderment and wariness in the Middle East media. This is evidenced, in particular, by the headline comments on the subject: “Taiwan after Ukraine on the American chessboard”, “Controversial visit”, “Why provoke China?”, etc. What is the use and point for the US to taunt China while America itself is preoccupied with events in Ukraine and dangerous tensions with Russia, the influential Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat asks.  Why did the speaker of the House of Representatives choose this particular moment to voyage, if its clear benefits are not visible, but the risks are easy to see? The forceful escalation raised on all sides over this visit, the Emirati body summarizes, is fraught with a verbal war and war of mutual threats. Is the visit a trial balloon to be followed by other steps towards escalating tensions between the US and China? After all, this move has the potential to set off an explosive situation in the Pacific and Indian Ocean basin area. Against the backdrop of Pelosi’s initiative, Middle Eastern analysts turned to US-China relations and their role in the global balance of power, recalling their historical background.  In the era of the socialist camp, the course was taken to separate the Chinese giant from the USSR (both occupied the same ideological niche at that time). The West promoted the building up of power and modernization of the Celestial Empire. But over time, it has not only caught up with the industrialized world in terms of development, but has also come out on top in a number of important global indicators.  China now rivals America in economic leadership and the military sphere, showing its muscle and influence in different parts of the world. The West, local commentators conclude, seems to have woken up and begun to react by adopting a policy of containment of Beijing, painting it as an adversary, a source of threats in various areas. It can be argued that there is a so-called “China complex”, which is somehow characteristic of Western foreign policy attitudes. According to the Saudi newspaper Al Jazeera, China’s presence in the Middle East, including the Gulf region, is growing in spite of US concerns. Gulf countries’ trade with Beijing reached $190 billion in 2019. In 2020, China became the largest commercial partner of these Arab monarchies.  Economic relations between the two sides have deepened considerably in recent years with the accession of these Arab countries to China’s the Belt and Road Initiative. These countries see the development of their relations with Beijing as a factor in easing US-Western pressure on them and curbing the administration’s behavior which it has exhibited since the start of President Biden’s rule. As for human rights and freedoms issues, both sides are opposed to using certain issues as a pretext for external interference in each other’s internal affairs. In fact, there is no coverage in the Middle East media of any support or justification for Pelosi’s trip or the US line. The Omani newspaper Alwatan sees it as a signal to the US to do something to spite Beijing, with the hope of stalling its activity in favor of Russia, or simply to force it to be neutral in the matter. The PRC is well aware of what Washington is up to. China acts calmly, logically, with great patience. He has long been exploring the possibility of reclaiming Taiwan peacefully or militarily. It is a mistake to assume that China is the loser in this case. All sorts of scenarios remain open and the future will show the consequences of a perturbation that could happen in both the US and Taiwan, the region believes. The Lebanese newspaper Al Mayadeen stresses that China has highlighted to everyone the responsibility of the US for its actions, shaking the credibility of Washington’s repeated official statements that it respects the principles of a united China. Pelosi’s trip has provided China with the justification for its actions it has been waiting for years. Moreover, its effect was to play into the hands of the People’s China leadership. According to analysts, this refers to the current within the CCP, which is betting on the country’s development along the path of patriotic choice. And vice versa the visit greatly weakened the direction calling for “harmonizing relations with Washington and refusing to compete” with it in various areas. On the other hand, there is no evidence that Pelosi’s initiative contributed to the Democratic Party’s designs for the November mid-term congressional elections, often described as a referendum to evaluate the performance of the current administration. Obviously, the average voter is more concerned with day-to-day issues than with the heroic exploits of the US House of Representatives speaker. Observers trace the echoes of this visit not only for the relations between Beijing and Washington, but also for the situation globally.   According to prominent Egyptian diplomat and media personality D. Matar, it is difficult to understand Pelosi’s motives in visiting Taiwan. China-US relations are fast moving towards a state of acute crisis, to the frontiers beyond which dangerous consequences loom. The reality is that the US has not achieved victory over Russia in the Ukraine crisis. Moscow, as local analysts are increasingly inclined to believe, has gradually expanded spatially in Ukraine. Its influence has increased in most developing countries. US allies in Europe and beyond are experiencing large economic losses from the sanctions, which were originally aimed at Russia. President Biden’s provocative line towards the PRC, against the backdrop of the prevailing hostility between Russia and the US, similar to that of the Cold War, could be described as foolish. It pushes China to strengthen relations with Moscow, which is to its advantage, the researcher from Lebanon concludes. Yury Zinin, a senior researcher at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies of Moscow State Institute of International Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MGIMO), exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.  

[Category: Columns, Featured, Locations, Middle East, Politics]

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[l] at 8/13/22 8:25pm
The Taliban (an organization banned in Russia), which seized power in Afghanistan a year ago, have pledged a tough fight against drugs, saying the cultivation, transportation and distribution of opium poppies are punishable by death. However, many experts had already raised doubts as to whether the Islamists would succeed in tackling the international drug business, or whether they themselves would become part of it. This structure had already ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, with very conflicting memories during that period. The Taliban had already made anti-narcotics statements: while in power, in July 2000 the Taliban declared that opium was contrary to Islam, introduced the death penalty for growing and distributing drugs and ordered the eradication of opium poppy crops. As a result, cultivation dropped from 82,100 hectares to 7,600 in one year, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). However, with the start of the US military intervention in the country in 2001, poppy cultivation fell back to 74,000 hectares and has been rising ever since. According to reports, since the start of hostilities with the US and the intensification on all fronts, the Taliban themselves have been involved in the drug business, because they needed money to buy weapons and military equipment and pay for their mercenaries. And the opium poppy tax was an important source of revenue for the Taliban, although they deny it. It should not be forgotten, however, that the withdrawal of international aid after the arrival of the Taliban brought down the Afghan economy and was an additional reason for the population’s return to the drug trade. In addition, the long-term involvement of Afghans in drug production has become the only form of livelihood for many Afghan peasants, and the Taliban, who have been unable to provide them an alternative to this criminal activity, have had to accommodate the demands of the population and continue this criminal business. This is despite the fact that Afghanistan’s climate allows almost any crop to be grown there. All the more so because the country has a wealth of experience in the cultivation of cereal crops and fruits, with very tasty rice, wheat and, in the south, citrus fruits. However, in order to grow a proper crop, a market had to be established. But such bordering countries as Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan do not eagerly allow Afghan agricultural products to enter, as they grow them themselves. Some of these countries did buy food from Afghans at low prices and then sell it to other countries as their own. In addition, the sale of agricultural products was complicated by Afghanistan’s difficult relations with neighboring countries, including Muslim ones. For example, Pakistan used to be an importer of Afghan food, but a large proportion of Afghans do not like Pakistanis. Trade with Iran has been held back because it is a Shiite state. All these problems are still present in Afghanistan today, and as a result, since the Taliban came to power in 2021, there has been an increase in drug smuggling attempts across the Afghan-Tajik border, and Tajikistan itself, due to its geopolitical position, has become a transit route for Afghan drugs to the CIS and Europe. This was reported in particular by the Drug Control Agency (DCA) under the President of Tajikistan. Thus, according to information published by the DCA, between August 2021 and June 2022, over three tonnes of drugs were seized only in the areas of Tajikistan adjacent to Afghanistan. By comparison, only 1,185 kg of drugs had been seized in the same border areas during 2020. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), with the Taliban in power in Afghanistan there was an 8% increase in opium production as early as November last year. Meanwhile, some 320 tonnes of pure heroin found their way onto the world’s drug markets. As noted by the UNODC, income in Afghanistan from opiates in 2021 was between $1.8 and $2.7 billion. Meanwhile, the political situation in Afghanistan since August 2021 has encouraged opium prices to almost double, providing a clear incentive for opium farmers to plant opium poppy. The Taliban-formed government has previously said it was seeking alternatives for farmers. At the same time, however, the Taliban point out that they cannot objectively change the situation without offering farmers something specific in return. It is now recognized by many experts that drugs are not just an Afghan problem, but a general challenge. And the Taliban are a kind of specific tool likely to resolve it. Along with the fight against drug trafficking, the Taliban’s main concern now is the integration into civilian life of shahids and suicide bombers, who have been trained since childhood to die in combat. However, only international investment can transform Afghanistan from a major drug producer into a flourishing agricultural power, as it is clear that the Taliban alone will not be up to the task. And one possible area of such global cooperation could be the interest of external players in Afghanistan’s minerals lithium, gems, gas, and oil. It is in this direction that the Taliban are now negotiating cooperation with African Muslim countries, particularly Uganda. However, Afghanistan needs specialists, engineers and expensive equipment to exploit minerals. Everything is tied up in money, but the big question is whether they will be given credit, whether anyone will be involved in the development, even in terms of security. Therefore, a very important issue for the current Afghan authorities today is to get investment, a certain level of loyalty from the international community. In addition, not only the problem of opium poppy per se, but also the borders need to be addressed, as the Tajik and Turkmen borders have been a public thoroughfare lately. As for changing the structure of agricultural crops, this is no guarantee of improving the well-being of the country’s inhabitants, as it largely depends on the Taliban’s ability to sell their crops and find a market for them. Again, much will depend on whether the international community is prepared to accept the Taliban as representatives of the official legitimate authority in Afghanistan, especially in the context of the already established and not always loyal attitude towards that country, towards the Taliban. And if this situation is not reversed, then, accordingly, the attitude towards Afghanistan as a whole will affect its foreign trade and profit from legal, rather than criminal, activities. And that is what directly determines whether farmers will have something to do, whether they will have something to gain an income from, whether the hotbed of drug trafficking in Afghanistan will cease to exist. Vladimir Platov, expert on the Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.  

[Category: Afghanistan, Central Asia, Columns, Featured, Locations, Politics]

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[l] at 8/12/22 9:47pm
As Washington has expected in its use of migration flows to damage its political and economic rival, the European Union, the influence of this factor has indeed been increasing of late. And it is becoming increasingly dependent not only on the state of armed conflicts already unleashed by the United States in the world, but also on the energy war, which Washington has now actively embraced to consolidate its overall dominance. Just yesterday, the main debate was about the migration crisis tearing Europe apart because of the increasing flow of refugees and illegal migrants from North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, suffering from chaos and starvation due to the armed aggressions of the West in recent years. Today, however, the picture is changing day by day. First, the flow of migrants to Europe from the so-called “Third World” countries is declining slightly. Above all because of Europe’s demonstrated racism and its preference for assistance to those from Ukraine, at the expense of the noticeable reduction of funds for refugees from North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. Second, in Europe, due to the influx of millions of Ukrainians in recent months and its own economic difficulties, unemployment is rising sharply, which is deterring many migrant workers from looking for work in the EU as well.  It is quite remarkable, however, that against this background, not only the influx of migrants into the EU has recently gained momentum, but also an increasing outflow of Europe’s own residents seeking refuge from the financial and economic crisis, which has been amplified by the energy collapse that the US has brought upon Europe. Thus, Lukas Siebenkotten, head of the German Tenants’ Association, told the Tagesspiegel that there are fears millions of people in Germany may not be able to pay their heating bills because of rising gas prices. Wolfgang Schedl, head of the Central Association of the German Pawn Loan Industry (ZDP), told DPA that as a result of the rising gas prices in the country, pawnshops are becoming increasingly popular, with Germans pawning their jewelry in droves to get money as quickly as possible. Lukas Siebenkotten had earlier pointed out that a third of the country’s residents with low incomes would not be able to pay their rising energy bills because of skyrocketing gas prices. The German media warned on August 6 that record inflation and rising fuel prices could lead Germany into a wave of widespread protests this autumn, and now such protest activity is already visible in Berlin, Bavaria and Saxony. The situation in the UK is not developing in the best way for the reasons mentioned. Thus, according to a report on Sky News, British experts have concluded that the kingdom’s timid attempts to solve people’s problems with a set of current subsidies and tax breaks cannot lift the British out of poverty and despair this winter, when fuel prices are expected to rise again. “We are facing a humanitarian crisis that Britain hasnt seen in decades,” the paper quotes former Prime Minister Gordon Brown as saying. And Brown’s words are backed up by the latest forecast from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) indicating that inflation in the UK will soar to “astronomical” levels in the very near future. And the NIESR is not alone in its negative assessment of the outlook for the British economy: the Resolution Foundation analysts think that inflation in the kingdom could reach a record 15% by early 2023. To avoid raising prices and angering customers, many manufacturers reduce packaging, thus providing consumers with a smaller product at the same price. This phenomenon is called “shrinkflation”, the Swedish Dagens Nyheter writes. Sanctions against Russia by Western countries are “leading to the suicide” of the European Union, the Daily Express wrote in late July. “Europe will face maybe the biggest financial crisis of its history,” Generation Frexit leader Charles-Henri Gallois pointed out to the paper. “Some European countries, such as Germany and Italy, are very dependent on Russian gas. Other European countries, including France, will suffer as well because Russia was an important oil supplier. Now, we are buying the same oil but through India or Saudi Arabia with a mark-up and in dollars. As the euro is falling, this becomes even more costly. Its quite hypocritical,” Gallois stressed. An economic war against Russia is “ineffective” and has negative consequences for the West itself and for the people of Europe, The Guardian reports. The West, under US pressure, imposed sanctions against Russia in order to destroy the Russian economy, but in fact it has turned out to be the opposite. Russia has not suffered, while European countries have faced a double problem: they are now short of fuel due to the West’s restriction of supplies from Russia, while rising energy prices are boosting inflation and impoverishing the population, The National Interest reports. In the circumstances, the people of Europe are looking for their own solutions to the current crisis, without relying on their governments, which, in the wake of the US, are being accused of total disregard for national interests. A very effective way not to go bankrupt and stay warm in winter because of heating costs has been found by German pensioners who have started actively booking winter tours to the south of Europe and warm African and Asian countries, as an all-inclusive trip will cost them many times less than heating costs. According to German media reports, this vulnerable segment of the German population today prefers to choose all-inclusive hotels, where they can spend the winter without having to pay for heating and groceries at home. In this regard, Tunisia, Turkey, Egypt, the Canary Islands, Cape Verde, Senegal, Thailand and the Caribbean have become the most popular destinations. However, the rise in migration flows in the current increasingly difficult conditions caused by the West is also manifesting itself in the direction of energy-stable countries. And the main one here is Russia. Thus, according to the analytical service of the FinExpertiza audit and consulting network, in the second quarter of this year the number of migrant workers entering Russia amounted to 3.12 million people, a third more than last year and a record quarterly figure for the past six years. It is noted though that a significant number of them came from former Soviet republics: Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine (without the DPR and LPR), as well as Moldova. However, in the second quarter, Russia was also a destination for people from far abroad Europe and America. In particular from Serbia, Germany, Italy, the UK, France, the USA, Poland, Spain, the Czech Republic, Romania, the Netherlands, Brazil, Greece, Austria, Canada, Slovakia, Portugal, Sweden, Finland, Hungary and other countries. Vladimir Danilov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

[Category: Columns, Europe, Featured, Locations, Society]

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[l] at 8/12/22 2:59pm
The last years of Moon Jae-in’s reign were remembered for the war of the prosecutor’s office and the Ministry of Justice, which resulted in the election of the former Prosecutor General by the president. But it seems that during the reign of Yoon Suk-yeol, we can observe a confrontation between the presidential administration, the Ministry of Security and Public Administration (MOSPA) and the national police agency. We need a backstory here. Both under the Japanese and under the military dictatorship, the police had very large powers and were under the control of the then Ministry of Internal Affairs. At the grassroots level, the policeman was the main representative of the authorities, and not just a “servant of order.” The level of repression and brutality was also appropriate, and it is worth pointing out that in June 1986, the student Park Jeong-cheol, whose death began the fall of the regime of Chun Doo-hwan, was “tortured” to death by the police, not the special services. In addition, some political scandals related to those in power were often hidden or falsified. Therefore, when the Democrats came to power, they pretty much weakened the powers of the police, and, more importantly, in 1991 they made it a structure not directly subordinate to the MOSPA, which plays a much smaller role in the South Korean administrative system than the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs. However, during the reign of Moon Jae-in and his pogroms in law enforcement agencies, the National Police Agency (NPA) was entrusted with most of the powers of first intelligence, and then the prosecutor’s office. In January 2021, the police received the authority to conduct investigations and the right to close them independently. From September 2022, as soon as the draft laws aimed at depriving the prosecutor’s office of its investigative powers come into force, the police will be able to investigate any serious crimes, with the exception of corruption and economic ones. In 2024, it will receive the authority to conduct anti-espionage investigations and other political crimes from the National Intelligence Service. Although it was planned to divide the police into a municipal one and an analog of the FBI, which would deal with major crimes, it is unclear to what extent this reform organized by Moon under Yoon Suk-yeol will barely be brought to an end. As a result, it turns out that something needs to be done with the police, since it a) has too many powers, and b) exists outside the main control of the state, which is fraught with all the troubles that accompany lack of control. It is not just about corruption itself. The police, especially the municipal police (if they are separated), will be very unstable to influence from, let’s say, “local respected people.” This is very important, given that it is municipalities that should investigate sexual crimes and domestic violence. Many “unprofitable” crimes can eventually be “hidden under the carpet.” Under Moon Jae-in, the interaction between the state and the police, as a rule, passed through the office of the Senior Secretary of the President for Civil Affairs, who often “recommended” which way the police should dig and which not.  But Yoon Seok-yeol abolished this post, which allowed him to interfere too actively in the affairs of society. And the question arose, “how to direct the work of the police in the new conditions.” Already in May, the government has begun to discuss ways to control increased police power by creating a committee to improve the police system. The guidelines include various new measures for the ministry to control the police directly, including ministry authorities being able to hire, fire and punish police officers. Then, although, in accordance with the Constitution of the country, the Law on Police Officers and the Law on Criminal Procedure, the role of the Ministry assumed cooperation with the NPA (from the development of new laws concerning the police to the definition of job descriptions), the Ministry still did not have a unit dedicated to supporting such tasks.  And on June 21, 2022, it was recommended to create it by giving it, among other things, the authority to audit police investigations, personnel management and police inspection, including the right to recommend candidates for senior positions, and entrust the Minister of Internal Affairs with the right to demand disciplinary measures against the Head of the National Police Department and other high-ranking police officers.  Cutting to the chase, this all resulted in a “goodbye, independence” situation. On the same day, a curious incident occurred. On June 21, the NPA published a document in the media containing a list of 28 high-ranking officials applying for promotion. But just two hours later, the second list was published, in which seven officials from the first list were replaced by other positions as a result of the MOSPA decisions. Yoon Seok-yeol, who did not support the first list, said it was either a violation of national discipline or a senseless mistake by government officials. Police officials, of course, are against it. For some, this is a blow to selfish interests, and here we can recall how in the cases of Cho Kuk or Kim Kyung-soo, key evidence was “lost” precisely at the stage of a police investigation. For others, this is a fear that the new bureau will “cut off” the capabilities of the police, because some things will have to be coordinated, and this takes time. Someone really believes that the police should be independent, and these sentiments are actively inflated by Democrats, in whose narrative they want to violate the political neutrality of the police, because, they say, Yoon is building a totalitarian police state, and in the future wants to bring back the “dark times.” As the de facto leader of the Democrats, Lee Jae-myung, stated that “there can be no question of democracy in Korea without a history of police independence from political power.” “The task of the police is to protect public interests, not the authorities.” Woo Sang-ho, the interim head of the Democratic Party of Korea, also burst into rhetorical questions about why it was possible for prosecutors to protest, but not for police officers. On June 27, 2022, the head of the MOSPA, Lee Sang-min, told reporters that the new police control unit will be staffed with a total of 16 employees, with 12 of them being from the police. In addition, the Ministry will develop a number of regulations giving the Minister the right to approve or reject key policy decisions of the police and receive reports from the police on key issues, including the budget. The Minister of Internal Affairs will also have the right to receive preliminary reports on key legislative proposals or other issues that the police submit for approval by the Cabinet of Ministers, as well as plans for foreign business trips of the Chief of the National Police. On the same day, June 27, the Police Chief of the ROK, Kim Chang-ryong, whose term of office expired in 26 days, resigned, thereby taking responsibility for the incident with appointments and added that the creation of the proposed police bureau would fundamentally undermine the foundations of the police system. On July 23, despite repeated warnings from the leadership of the NPA, 190 superintendent-level police chiefs (one third of the total number across the country) gathered at the Institute of Human Resources Development of the Police in the city of Asan.  50 attended in person, and 140 were present in remote format. Following the results of the four-hour meeting, the participants came to the conclusion that the creation of a new supervisory structure violates the principle of the rule of law and is illegal, and the MOSPA must obtain the consent of 130 thousand police officers to such a step before insisting on it. Such a group action of disobedience by high-ranking police officers was unprecedented. The main “rebel” was Ryu (Yu) Sam-young, the senior superintendent of the police station of the Central District of Ulsan, according to whom police officers are deeply concerned that the ministry’s plan “will jeopardize the investigative neutrality and fundamental responsibility of the national police.” Interestingly if this is due to the fact that Superintendent Ryu runs a police station in Ulsan, where during Moon’s reign the police helped his protege win the mayoral election by unleashing a loud campaign on the corruption of his rival, the incumbent mayor and his assistants. When the elections were held, it turned out that “the facts were not confirmed,” but it was too late to wave his fists after the fight. Two hours after the meeting, Ryu was suspended from work, and the authorities initiated a disciplinary investigation against 50 police officers who took part in the meeting in person, not in remote format. A day later, the head of the presidential administration, Kim Dae-gi, sharply criticized the meeting, while calling the meeting “inappropriate.” According to him, there are three agencies that are “more powerful” than the ministries, namely, the prosecutor’s office, the police department and the tax service, but the prosecutor’s office and the tax service are controlled by the relevant departments of other ministries. Minister Lee Sang-min went further on July 25. He said that “if it happened in the army, it would be like a coup on December 12,” referring to the military coup led by Chun Doo-hwan. In addition, Lee rejected claims that it is unfair for the government to allow prosecutors to hold such meetings and prohibit police officers from doing so, while stressing that the police are different from the prosecutor’s office because they are an organization that owns firearms. Yoon Suk-yeol did not speak out much, but on July 25 he said that he expected the Ministry and the NPA to take “the necessary steps.” The media assessed the demarche differently. The conservative JoongAng Ilbo writes, “And yet, senior police officers choice of a frontal clash with the government was not the wisest course. If they launch a collective action just because they dont like a government policy, who will keep them from resorting to more extreme action?” Korea Herald draws attention to the fact that police officers opposing the bureau cite Paragraph 1 of Article 34 of the Government Organization Law that lists Interior and Safety Ministers jobs.. The paragraph has no mention of “policing”. But Paragraph 5 of the same article specifies that the National Police Agency is placed under the control of Interior and Safety Minister in order to administer police work. Then, when the police were controlled by the Senior Secretary of the President for Civil Affairs, no officer made such arguments, but how is subordination to the ministry different from subordination to the Blue House under Moon? On July 26, a draft resolution on changing the structure of the MOSPA and creating a police department was approved at a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers of the ROK. On the same day, opposition deputies held a protest rally in front of the presidential office by accusing the government of an administrative coup. After that, on July 26, Yoon Suk-yeol said that the collective actions of police officers against the planned creation of a police department under the Ministry of Internal Affairs could be equated to “a serious breach of national discipline.” Yoon acknowledged there could be “various opinions,” but noted “a nations fundamental order and discipline should not be shaken.” On July 29, the Ministry appointed the first head of the new police department, Senior Superintendent Kim Sun-ho, who previously headed the National Security Investigation Bureau of the NPA, and on August 2, the department began its work. The new body consists of 16 people, 12 of whom are representatives of the police, and three departments are specialized on general, personnel and regional police issues. Interestingly, when appointing, priority was given not to graduates of the police university, but to those who made a career in the police from the very bottom. According to the Ministry, the police bureau will be responsible for introducing police-related bills to the Cabinet of Ministers, as well as for managing the personnel of high-ranking officers and supporting other law enforcement activities. To what extent did the protests end there, and what is the reaction of society? The latest survey on this topic says that 56% consider the bureau inappropriate. They are afraid of compromising the political neutrality and independence of law enforcement agencies. About 32% said it was a necessary step to curb the growing power of the police. The Democratic Party is also not going to lay down its arms having created a “reaction committee” and asked Ryu Sam-yong to appear to testify at the confirmation hearings for the new head of the NPA. Anyway, the Yoon government has started an important but painful reform of the law enforcement agencies, and time will tell how much better he will do with the police than Moon Jae-in did with the prosecutor’s office. We will keep an eye on it. Konstantin Asmolov, PhD in History, leading research fellow at the Center for Korean Studies of the Institute of China and Modern Asia, the Russian Academy of Sciences, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.    

[Category: Columns, Eastern Asia, Featured, Locations, Society, South Korea]

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[l] at 8/12/22 2:40pm
The Biden administration has to be the most arrogant and homicidal bunch of useless politicians planet Earth has ever witnessed. They’re also the most corrupt, in my opinion. And I complained about Donald Trump’s few questionable moves. Looking at recent events, I see only the Russian people’s good nature as having rescued us all from annihilation. Now that this is out let’s look at a few of Biden’s “genius” minions at work around the world. Africa Handouts Let’s start with the US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who just tweeted a humdinger which read: “Today, I’m proud to announce nearly $150 million in new, additional humanitarian funding and development assistance, pending congressional notification, for Africa.” In Africa, following Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit, the former senior vice president at Albright Stonebridge Group probably thought nothing of the irony of her announcement. A whole $150 million to help millions of starving Africans with tens of billions flowing to the proxy war in Ukraine.What a tentative commitment! I’ll just let you stew over the Biden captain who has ties to Merck, Pfizer, Amazon, Lyft, Microsoft, and many others. As if Africa has not known for some time that USAID and business deals with the United States do not always end with American businesses winning and Africans losing. The people of this continent have been used and abused relative to what they provide, as compared to what their legacy should be, for centuries now. And I’m not just talking about Google, Apple, Dell, Glencore, and Microsoft complicit in kids mining cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I’d be ashamed to show my face in Africa if I were a US diplomat. Finally, Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Africa too, and he says the US wants to work with Africa as equal partners. Funny thing is, the United States has never looked on any other nation as “equal” when it came to anything. Heck, look at the whole west-Russia mess, all the Rusians wanted was a say about their own security, and Blinken’s boss spit in their face. Moving on. Biden’s Love-Hate Affair With China Moving onward and up or down, depending on your perspective, what about the liberal lunatics and their China policy? I am sure nobody knows what to make of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi flying her broom into Taiwan the other day. Even the staunchest Biden supporters were left with their heads wobbling over that insanity. As if declaring the Chinese enemy number one of America was not enough, my country watches as the president’s son, Hunter, makes deals on the one hand and smokes crack with the other. Then, to make matters even more confusing, the 7th Fleet accompanies Pelosi to Taipei and wastes enough gas to give every American another incentive check. I guess the “big guy” is looking for a larger cut the next time his crazy son heads to Shanghai looking for companionship. Holy cow! Caligula is jealous in hell or wherever he is now. Green Is the New Black? Or, is Biden’s much-publicized Inflation Reduction Act going to put American taxpayers further into the red? The Atlantic Council is using this decarbonization nonsense as a political lever to make Europe, Japan, and Australia feel better about the coming deep freeze this winter. Now get this. With alternative energy light years away, given current possibilities, Biden is proposing $370 billion in tax incentives to the same corporate pirates who got us in this climate fix. And you know Exxon is going to start capping off wells to get some of that green. Only us taxpayers down here at the gas pumps are the ones paying at both ends. Look. 80% of the energy produced on Earth comes from fossil fuels right now. We are talking about hundreds of trillions, not billions. The investors and executives who run these industries have no interest whatsoever in weaning us off oil, gas, and coal until it’s all gone. Then, when the emergency is so acute, they’ll make us pay even more to rescue us, and end up the heroes. This is how the game works. Every taxi driver in every capital on Earth knows this. And we see where net-zero ambitions in the EU are. The Germans are ready to bomb London again if the Brits and Americans cut off the Russian gas taps. BMW is about to grind to a screeching halt when the Rhineland-Pfalz winemaker’s teeth start chattering. Net zero, indeed. Biden’s been seen in Saudi Arabia on bended knee begging for more juice, remember? Green is the new red, trust me. The “Big Guy” Never Rests Meanwhile, as the world burns down around hundreds of millions, President Biden and his family, including disgraced first son Hunter, are vacationing on Kiawah Island in South Carolina. I must admit his free stay at a $20 million dollar mansion there irks me since the barrier island was once a favorite golfing spot for yours truly. Now America’s fumbling mafia is using the place as a hangout. The mansion owned by the widow of famous hedge fund founder James Allwin, is another perk “the big guy” gets from his position. Interestingly, or perhaps poetically, Aetos Capital has a climate change fund that should benefit nicely from Biden’s spanking new inflation plan. No, I am not joking. The US President and his nincompoop son are staying with the people most likely to win big from recent legislation proposed by him. This is from the hedge fund’s site: “Aetos is committed to using capital markets to solve climate change. We are active in carbon markets and believe that there are significant opportunities for investors to generate outsized returns. We believe that markets will be increasingly used to incentivize entities to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.” That’s the level of empowerment, the level of arrogance, and the degree of senility running my country these days. After using the Department of Justice and the FBI to harass and invade the home of a former president, which is unprecedented in US history, our jackass in chief heads off to be wined and dined by the financial crooks who always milk us dry. Few realize, but companies like Aetos Capital make huge profits from something known as Trade Claims, which essentially means buying up distressed debt. I guess I don’t have to point out how a sitting president with two years left in his term might negatively or positively impact huge corporate debt. Again, the “big guy” stands to profit substantially. Or, Hunter does. What a vacation. Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, he’s an author of the recent bestseller “Putin’s Praetorians” and other books. He writes exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

[Category: Columns, Featured, Locations, Politics, USA in the World]

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