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[l] at 11/29/22 2:10am
In the second decade of November this year, the focus of international political life turned to Southeast Asia. There, in Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand, calendar meetings of several international associations were held with the participation of leaders from the region and beyond. The very concentration of such events in Southeast Asia is further evidence of the growing importance of this region in contemporary global processes, which are centered on a set of relations between the world’s major powers. The complexity and acuteness of the contradictions between the latter could not but be reflected in the nature and the outcomes of all the events mentioned. But for the purposes of this text, let’s focus on those of the above events whose organizer and main actor was the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which brings together all ten countries of Southeast Asia. The events in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh, with its key participation, took up the first part (from November 11 to 13) of all the summits held in Southeast Asia. The main body of ASEAN’s life is the summit of representatives from its member countries. It is held twice a year, but due to problems with Covid-19, both of this year’s summits (the 40th and 41st) were held on the same day on November 11. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s wide-ranging statement on their outcome can be found here. Paragraphs 86, 87 and 104 of this document focus on one of ASEAN’s major domestic issues, which remains the situation in Myanmar, also a member of the association. The first two focus on Rakhine State, which until recently was home to around one million people belonging to the Muslim Rohingya community. After falling victim to yet another internal conflict of which Myanmar is rife with all kinds – the Rohingya fled almost entirely to neighboring Bangladesh in the fall of 2017. Since then, the problem of a genuinely plighted people has been part of the main diet of such a phenomenon on the body of contemporary international politics as the “global human rights movement”. Together with feminists, ecologists, fighters against “human factors in climate change” and for a “green economy”, for sexual diversity and the rights of infants and dogs, they invariably find themselves on the cutting edge of the notorious “collective West” attacks against geopolitical opponents and unwanted governments. For the reason of maintaining constructive relations with the PRC and the Russian Federation, this was both the previous “democratic” government of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and (especially) the current military leadership led by General Min Aung Hlaing, which has once again taken control of an extremely complex country. The serious problems in almost all ASEAN countries’ relations with the PRC, which have been discussed repeatedly in the NEO, encourage the former to involve external “balancers” in regional affairs. Although several have emerged as such, of course, Washington remains the most important one. However, nothing in this world is given “for free” and the latter’s readiness to fulfil its designated role has to be paid at the expense of its own geopolitical interests. This includes the need to discredit and undermine the incumbent regime in Myanmar. This is why in one of last year’s ASEAN outcome documents, confirmed by this year’s summit, there appeared to be some (phrased in rather cautious terms, but still) expression of both “concern over the situation in Myanmar” and willingness to assist “in overcoming the problems encountered” in that country. General Min Aung Hlaing must have been absent from Phnom Penh because of their persistence. Although a year and a half earlier he had attended a similar event in Jakarta. Incidentally, the short concluding paragraph 105 on the situation in Ukraine (also written in rather general terms) is no more than the same tribute to the need mentioned above. But the leaderships of ASEAN as a whole (rather tentatively, though), as well as of its member states, cannot fail to realize that a precedent of interference in the internal affairs of a fellow member state (Ukraine is far away from Southeast Asia and its fate is hardly of any real interest there) could open a “Pandora’s box”. In which, until now, potential threats to the very existence of ASEAN have been hidden. For this association is a rather amorphous conglomerate (nothing like a bureaucratized EU) of very different member states. Each has its own internal problems (including those of “human rights” nature) and its own preferences among the external “balancers” mentioned above. The non-relevance of the partners’ internal problems and a completely consensual approach in joint activities were from the outset the main condition for the formation and subsequent functioning of ASEAN. The case of Myanmar clearly violates this. It should be noted in this regard that Russia’s position on the nature of developments in that country is that it should be left entirely to its people and government. On the basis of this starting position, the Russian Federation is developing relations with Myanmar, progress on which was recorded during the visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to the country on August 3. A dust-up between him and his US counterpart Antony Blinken over relations with Myanmar broke out immediately after that trip during a ministerial meeting of the East Asia Summit, one of the forums established on the basis of ASEAN. Of several other venues established at different times on the basis of the same ASEAN, which were already engaged between November 11 and 13 this year, let’s focus on the ASEAN+1 format. Within it, the countries of Southeast Asia interact with several significant external players, but each separately. The global media is presenting the upgrading of the bilateral relationship from a “strategic partnership” to a “comprehensive strategic partnership” as the main outcome of the ASEAN+US summit. The author is skeptical about such word games. On the internet, for example, one can find a detailed discussion of various aspects pointing at the inaccuracy of the second formula. Nevertheless, it cannot be said that the aforementioned change in the formula denoting the US-ASEAN relationship means virtually nothing at all. The semantic content of such a change is seen in the symbolic signal ASEAN has sent to the US: “You are no less important to us than China. And our relationship with it has been defined by this formula since last year.” But how the situation in the PRC-SEA-US triangle will actually unfold, only real events will tell. So far one can observe there an intensified competition between Beijing and Washington, and the situation as a whole looks like a political seesaw. The trend towards a rapprochement between Vietnam and the United States has been evident for some time. But a week before the events under discussion in Phnom Penh, Vietnamese Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong visited Beijing, where he was warmly received by Xi Jinping. As for most other ASEAN countries, the PRC is Vietnam’s main trading partner. The US-China struggle for the Philippines continues unabated. In Bangkok, on the sidelines of the APEC summit, the Chinese leader met with that country’s new president, F. Marcos Jr. But, with the end of the said summit, US Vice-President K. Harris went to the same Philippines. The accompanying commentary unanimously points to the struggle factor as the main motive for this trip. Naturally, Beijing will by no means withdraw from it, as the Southeast Asian region is extremely important to it (from all points of view). The intention to establish itself firmly in Southeast Asia is evidenced by the content-rich “Joint Statement” adopted at the end of the ASEAN+China forum in Phnom Penh on November 11. As part of the various aspects of bilateral cooperation reflected therein, the reaffirmation of the “comprehensive strategic partnership” status, the positive acknowledgement that the bilateral agreement on the establishment of a free trade area and the establishment of the China-Singapore trade and transport corridor in the region have begun to take shape, were also noteworthy. The author expected to see in this document some reflection of twenty years of negotiations on what is arguably the key issue in China’s relations with the Southeast Asian countries, the regulation of the parties’ behavior in the South China Sea. But nothing has been found on the subject. Of course, the recent ASEAN-based events have not gone unnoticed by the Japanese leadership, whose comprehensive presence in Southeast Asia is becoming increasingly visible. It is important to note that it is received quite positively by the countries of the region. Prime Minister F. Kishida, who was delayed in arriving (for domestic reasons), participated in the ASEAN+Japan and ASEAN+3 formats (i.e. involving also China and South Korea). At the latter, as far as can be understood, the parties confined themselves to stating their own views on the issues under discussion. It is noteworthy, as the absence of some kind of joint document in this case reflects the complexity of the overall situation both in the Southeast Asian region and in the surrounding area.    And there is no reason to see why it would suddenly “simplify” in the foreseeable future. Vladimir Terekhov, expert on the issues of the Asia-Pacific region, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

[Category: Columns, Featured, Locations, Politics, Southeast Asia]

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[l] at 11/28/22 11:19pm
Having an important geostrategic position and being an essential link in the development of cooperation between Central and South Asia as well as in regional security issues, Afghanistan has attracted a lot of attention from its regional neighbors. The Central Asian countries, objectively interested in multifaceted cooperation with all their neighbors, see Afghanistan not only as a source of possible challenges and threats, but also as a country of opportunity that is bound to be integrated into the larger Central Asian family in the future. Given that no political force equal to the Taliban (banned in the Russian Federation) has emerged in the country since 2021, the region is aware of the importance of avoiding the situation of the 1990s, when the Taliban’s isolation contributed to its extreme radicalization and integration with international terrorism. Therefore, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and even Kazakhstan began to actively develop a dialogue with the current government of Afghanistan, both directly and within various international formats, including Tashkent, to send humanitarian aid there. The Central Asian states have stronger trade and economic ties with their southern neighbor, and several major infrastructure projects, including a railway line from Mazar-i-Sharif to Pakistan’s Peshawar, are due to be implemented jointly. In the absence of peace and stability on Afghan soil so far, the issues of security and countering the threats of radical Islamism and terrorism emanating from Afghanistan remain a key topic of multilateral dialogue for the Central Asian countries. The region is well aware that, for all the assurances given by the Taliban that the radical Afghan opposition will not encroach on the territorial integrity of Central Asia, mere words are not enough. Especially when the current authorities in Kabul do not control all of Afghanistan and are unable to keep track of the activities of various extremist and terrorist groups, particularly al-Qaeda and ISIS (both terrorist groups banned in the Russian Federation), which have significantly expanded their presence in the country over the past year. The unabated terrorist threat from the territory of Afghanistan is indicated by numerous expert publications, as well as by the UN Security Council, which earlier this year noted the reconstruction of training camps of terrorist organizations on the territory of Afghanistan and the release of many ISIS fighters from Afghan prisons. Various sources have also reported a significant increase in the number of al-Qaeda and ISIS fighters in recent months, resulting in an increase in terrorist attacks inside Afghanistan. Experts estimate that the humanitarian and economic crises that have overtaken the country since the change of power have contributed greatly to the rise in terrorist activity in Afghanistan: over 97% of the population has been pushed to the brink of poverty in the past year and the Afghan economy has shrunk by more than 40%. Regional security issues in relation to developments in Afghanistan have therefore recently come to the fore. Central Asian leaders at various regional and international platforms have emphasized their willingness to develop cooperation to ensure security and stability on the long-suffering land of Afghanistan. The need for such interaction was, in particular, set out in the outcome document of the Fourth Consultative Meeting of the Heads of State of the region, held in Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyzstan, in July this year. However, the effectiveness of the measures taken by the Central Asian countries in this respect is constrained by the growing US strategic rivalry in the region with China and Russia, as well as attempts by the “collective West” to turn the Russian special operation in Ukraine into a war of the West against Russia, dragging regions quite distant from Kiev into these events to keep regional powers China, Russia and Iran in suspense. In addition, the sanctions war waged against Russia by the US and NATO countries is trying to split the global market and force the leaders of the region to choose between the “Eurasian” and “Atlantic” direction of development, naturally in the interests of Washington. To this end, in particular, the US Department of Treasury has placed Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan on a list of countries that allegedly violate the sanctions regime. In Tashkent, the US and UK ambassadors expressed dissatisfaction that local media were not sufficiently “anti-Russian” in their coverage of events in Ukraine, advocating a ban on Russian media outlets. Another recent attempt to build a regional security structure beneficial to Washington was made by the United States in Doha, where a representative delegation from the CIA, the Pentagon, the US Department of State and representatives of the Taliban’s Foreign Ministry, Ministry of Defense, met with acting intelligence chief Abdul Haq Wasiq on October 9. According to anecdotal reports in the Western media, the meeting allegedly focused on the implementation of the Doha agreement, the lifting of sanctions on the Afghan banking sector and the transfer of Afghan gold and foreign exchange reserves to a Swiss trust fund. It was also about US UAVs violating Afghan airspace and strikes on Afghan territory, in particular to kill al-Qaeda terrorist leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul at the end of August. However, the meeting and the very representative composition of its participants (notably in the person of David Cohen, Deputy Director of US intelligence, Elizabeth Kimber, Deputy Director of CIA for Operations, Thomas West, US Special Representative for Afghanistan) demonstrate the attempts of both the US and the Taliban to try to reach new agreements. Thus, the Taliban clearly want to prevent attacks on the territory under their control by the extremist groups Viloyat Khorasan, ISIS, IMU, Jamaat Ansarullah and others (all of which are banned in the Russian Federation) by enlisting the support of the US. The Afghan edition of Hasht-e Subh, in particular, points this out. Furthermore, against the backdrop of recent strained relations between Western countries and Russia, Iran and China, the new Afghan leadership at this meeting clearly tried to clarify for itself what its future position and role in the “New Great Game in Central Asia” should be. According to Afghan journalist Sami Darayi, acting Taliban intelligence chief Abdul Haq Wasik allegedly arranged with the CIA to deploy 3,000 US special forces troops in northern Afghanistan in exchange for more economic aid and work to soften Washington’s attitude towards the idea of recognizing the Taliban government. According to the Tajik news resource Sangar, the talks focused on northern issues, the establishment of terrorist fronts in northern Afghanistan and the training of terrorist groups for future US objectives in creating security problems for China and Russia. In particular, the formation of active war fronts in Central Asia and the northern frontiers of Afghanistan. What draws attention is the recent blatantly neo-colonial US stance on Central Asia, voiced by Antony Blinken during a Senate hearing, that the US Department of State is sending “admonitions” to the countries of the region. This Washington stance is openly opposed by the population and elite of the Central Asian states, with the result that the sympathy of that society is on Russia’s side in the current confrontation. And this is evidenced by the results of a Gallup poll, according to which in 2021 76% of Kyrgyz, 69% of Uzbek and 55% of Kazakh residents supported Russian leadership in the region. Vladimir Odintsov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

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

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[l] at 11/28/22 6:59am
The elections unfolded shortly after the G20 meeting held in nearby Indonesia and the APEC 2022 forum held in Thailand. Taken together, we see both the significant shifting of the region and the world away from US-led unipolarism toward multipolarism, but also efforts by the US to retain its power and influence worldwide. Anwar Ibrahim is a polarizing figure in Malaysian politics and a long-time ally of Washington who has spent decades and millions of dollars providing him and others across Malaysia’s opposition political support. With Anwar Ibrahim now prime minister of Malaysia, considering the significant amount of US support provided to him and the network that brought him into power over the decades, there are fears that Malaysia will now not only begin distancing itself from cooperation with China, but will also become a belligerent US proxy amid growing US-Chinese tensions. Anwar Ibrahim’s Deep US Backing  These fears are rooted in Anwar Ibrahim’s long-standing association with Washington-based regime change organizations, particularly the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) as well as its many subsidiaries. Anwar Ibrahim has literally traveled to Washington DC to participate in US NED activities. He participated in a 2007 panel discussion titled, “The Legacy of Westminster: Democracy Assistance Since the Founding of NED and the Challenges Ahead,” for example. But more troubling is the US NED-funded opposition movement he has helped lead for years, “Bersih.” Bersih began taking to the streets in yellow-colored protests in 2007. The organization is often presented by the Western media as a grassroots movement, yet it is actually made up of opposition parties including Anwar Ibrahim’s Peoples Justice Party (PJP). Anwar Ibrahim himself had openly led calls for the public to join the movement’s rallies over the years. Revelations regarding Bersih’s US government funding emerged in 2011. Malaysian Today would report in an article titled, “Bersih Repudiates Foreign Christian Funding Claim,” that: [Bersih chairperson Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan] admitted to Bersih receiving some money from two US organisations — the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and Open Society Institute (OSI). The NDI is a subsidiary of the US NED. The NDI’s website profile for programs in Malaysia in 2011 stated: In July 2005, NDI organized a national-level workshop for party leaders on election reform. NDI has since conducted many workshops across Malaysia to promote electoral reform in collaboration with Research for Social Advancement (REFSA), the secretariat for BERSIH. In 2006, NDI conducted a a workshop for BERSIH that focused on improving the action plans of each participating organization or political party in accomplishing their objectives. In 2007, NDI and BERSIH conducted a series of workshops in the politically neglected provinces of Sabah and Sarawak to educate previously disenfranchised political aspirants. The US government funding activities to “reform” Malaysia’s internal political processes and to specifically train opposition parties toward “accomplishing their objectives” (getting into power) is blatant foreign interference. Anwar Ibrahim would participate in Bersih protests for years until finally becoming prime minister. There is no doubt that not only did the US government interfere in Malaysia’s internal political affairs, it did so for the explicit purpose of installing a Washington-friendly government into power. While the US NED and its subsidiaries meddled in Malaysia over the past two decades, Western newspapers like the New York Times in 2011 published articles like, “U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings,” admitting to the role the US NED and the NDI played in the deadly unrest and regime change that swept the Arab World that year. The New York Times admitted: A number of the groups and individuals directly involved in the revolts and reforms sweeping the region, including the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and grass-roots activists like Entsar Qadhi, a youth leader in Yemen, received training and financing from groups like the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House, a nonprofit human rights organization based in Washington, according to interviews in recent weeks and American diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks. The New York Times also admitted: The Republican and Democratic institutes are loosely affiliated with the Republican and Democratic Parties. They were created by Congress and are financed through the National Endowment for Democracy, which was set up in 1983 to channel grants for promoting democracy in developing nations. The National Endowment receives about $100 million annually from Congress. Freedom House also gets the bulk of its money from the American government, mainly from the State Department. In 2018, Anwar Ibrahim’s allies won that year’s elections. Daniel Twining of the International Republican Institute (IRI), another NED subsidiary, would brag during a talk (starting at 56 minutes) by the Center for Strategic and International Studies that same year that: for 15 years working with NED resources, we worked to strengthen Malaysian opposition parties and guess what happened two months ago after 61 years? They won. Twining would elaborate on how the NEDs network played a direct role in placing US-backed opposition figures into power within the Malaysian government, stating: I visited and I was sitting there with many of the leaders the new leaders of this government, many of whom were just our partners we had been working with for 15 years and one of the most senior of them whos now one of the people running the government said to me, gosh IRI you never gave up on us even when we were ready to give up on ourselves. Twining would also boast: guess what one of the first steps the new government took? It froze Chinese infrastructure investments.  And that: [Malaysia] is not a hugely pro-American country. Its probably never going to be an actual US ally, but this is going to redound to our benefit, and thats an example of the long game. It is irrefutable that Anwar Ibrahim and the opposition he represents benefited immensely over the course of decades from US government funding, training, and other forms of political support in a process of blatant US interference in Malaysia’s internal political affairs. It is also very clear that the purpose of this US interference is to direct Malaysian foreign policy, specifically in terms of China and Washington’s goal of turning its partners in the region against it. What does this all mean for Malaysia next with Anwar Ibrahim now prime minister? Was Anwar Ibrahim a Good Investment for Washington? Many US-sponsored client regimes waste little time in irrationally pivoting their respective nations away from long-standing alliances, trade, and other prospects in service of US foreign policy objectives. It is, at the moment, uncertain, if and how Anwar Ibrahim is prepared to reciprocate Washington’s years of support. The Diplomat in a recent article titled, “Malaysia’s Democratization Poses New Challenges to China’s BRI Projects,” would point out: Malaysia faces another change in government following a closely contested election which has resulted in a hung parliament. It is unknown whether this will alter the status of the nation’s BRI projects yet again. With the opposition Pakatan Harapan coalition led by reformist leader Anwar Ibrahim on the verge of forming a government, another review of these projects remains a possibility, given that the coalition has historically been hostile to many BRI projects. The South China Morning Post would report that indeed such “reviews” were likely to take place in its article, “Anwar backs Mahathir’s review of Chinese deals – but not to annoy Beijing.” While the article argues that this process is simply attempting to cement in place the best deals with China rather than simply overturning them to pursue Washington’s objective of isolating Beijing, this all remains to be seen. Metrics such as Malaysia’s continued participation in or withdrawal from the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) or Malaysia’s actions regarding claims over the South China Sea will very soon indicate whether or not Washington’s long-term investment in Anwar Ibrahim and the opposition network who helped him into power paid off or not. The Western media refuses to report on US interference anywhere, including in Malaysia. Understanding who the US has backed for years and what their expectations are once they take power will help us better understand the “how and why” of the decisions Malaysia now makes going forward in both its US and Chinese relations. Brian Berletic is a Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

[Category: Columns, Featured, Locations, Malaysia, Politics, Southeast Asia]

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[l] at 11/28/22 1:40am
Although the latest article on how the investigation into possible abuse and corruption by people close to opposition leader Lee Jae-myung is going was not so long ago, new facts and new cases are emerging one after the other. Continuation of the Seongnamgate The last episode ended with the arrest of one of Lee’s closest associates, Kim Yong, Deputy Director of the Institute for Democracy, who was charged with receiving 847 million won (US$591,000) from those involved in the Daejang-dong district development corruption scandal in Seongnam City. On November 8, the Prosecutors’ Office charged Kim Yong with violating the Political Funds Act, but it did not end there. On November 9, the home and workplace of Jeong Jin-sang, who is the political coordinator in the office of the head of the Democratic Party, was searched.  Lee Jae-myung himself called him his right-hand man, and now another politician close to him is suspected of receiving bribes of about 140 million won (US$101,973) as well as several expensive gifts from the Seongnamgate perpetrators between 2013 and 2020. On November 15, prosecutors questioned Jeong Jin-sang for 14 hours, but he emphatically denied the charges. On November 19, 2022, Jeong Jin-sang was arrested and experts saw this as an indication that the investigation was closing in on Lee Jae-myung. It should be noted that the conservative and English-language media are not commenting on the progress of the investigation in the style of “Sick him!”. Rather, they remind their readers that the investigation against the head of the opposition must have an unshakable basis. Case of possible currency smuggling to the DPRK The story of currency smuggling allegedly involving the Ssang bang wool underwear company is also developing.  On November 10, Ahn Bu-soo, the head of the non-profit organization Asia Pacific Exchange Association (APEA), which was involved in assisting North Korea, was detained. Ahn is being blamed for meeting with North Koreans in China in 2019 and handing them a large sum of dollars. Allegedly, prosecutors recently uncovered circumstances indicating that Ssang bang wool and APEA had delivered $1.5 million and $500,000 respectively to North Korea. In addition, the investigation is looking into whether any funds from Gyeonggi-do province, of which Lee Jae-myung was governor, were included in these sums. And, of course, the head of the People Power, Chung Jin-suk, has already written on social media that, “We must reveal the full details of how much money has [been] sent to North Korea by Lee Jae-myung’s triangular connection between Gyeonggi Province, the Asia-Pacific Peace Interchange Association (APPIA) and Ssangbangwool Group”. It is known that from 2018 to 2019, when Lee was governor of the province, it sent 2 billion won ($1.5 million) to APEA to support North Korea-related projects.   APEA then launched an ethereum-based crypto-token called APP427, whose initials come from a combination of the acronym “Asia Pacific Peace” and the date of the inter-Korean summit on April 27, 2018. The coin was intended for donations to North Korea and to fund projects to introduce North Korean restaurants and beer to South Korea.  Chung Jin-suk believes that the Ssang bang wool Group and APEA directly supplied cash to North Korea in order to gain rights to inter-Korean business. It is alleged that Ssang bang wool paid 2 billion won to cover Lee Jae-myung’s legal fees, and in 2019 hired Chairman Ahn Bu-soo as a board director of its subsidiary Nanos, which has since been renamed SBW Life Sciences. Other cases against VIP Democrats Former Gangwon provincial governor Choi Moon-soon, a prominent figure in the Democratic camp in the past, is under investigation. He is accused of obstructing the sale of the Pyeongchang Alpensia Resort (built for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics). A total of three suspects in the case include former Governor Choi, the Gangwon provincial government official in charge of selling the resort, and a high-ranking official from the KH Group that won the bid to buy the resort. The other person under investigation is four-term MP Noh Woong-rae, a former member of the party’s supreme council. Noh is now under suspicion of receiving a total of 60 million won (US$44,676) from a certain businessman in exchange for business services between February and December 2020.  The giver of bribe claims he gave the deputy 40 million won for his campaign to help his own business, and another 20 million won for recommendations for executive positions in the regional tax office and a utility firm. But Woong-rae strongly denied the accusations. It is alleged that the as yet unnamed giver of bribe lobbied for the interests of many figures linked to former liberal presidents Roh Moo-hyun and Moon Jae-in. Therefore, other MPs, including heavyweights such as Roh Woong-rae, could also be in the crosshairs. Prosecutors reportedly found traces of bribes to more than a dozen prominent Democrats after the arrest of Lee Jong-kyung, former Deputy Secretary General of the Democratic Party: he allegedly received almost 1 billion won in bribes from the same businessman. To summarize, even though the painful accusations of complicity in the smuggling of currency to the North so far do not look anything more than a fantasy of the Conservatives, the echoes of the Seongnamgate could be quite painful. Although the Democrats deny everything, let’s see if the Prosecutors’ Office has anything other than the testimony of the developers, if another witness “dies” and if new stories emerge. One thing is important the investigation must really show that the trial against the opposition leader is not just a manufactured political revenge, but a serious case that will not fall apart in court.    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 11/27/22 9:59pm
The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, from November 6, just ended. However, it did not meet the official deadline (due to end on November 18) and was extended until November 20 due to Western obstruction. It was only then, after desperate debate and discussion, that a general document was adopted to establish fund to help poor nations cope with the extreme weather events caused by global warming as a result of the destructive use of natural resources and the enormous emission of harmful gases into the atmosphere by rich countries, especially in the West. This conference and the creation of the Fund launched a series of negotiations and discussions aimed at saving the planet from the catastrophic effects of climate change. The decision finally taken by countries around the world to set up the Fund to help poor countries hard hit by the global warming is widely considered to be one of the most significant since the UN climate talks began 30 years ago.  This was an unequivocal affirmation that poor countries with limited resources suffer most from extreme weather events such as floods, heat waves and storms, while industrialized countries, which have contributed most negatively to climate change, have an obligation to help. However, while government leaders, environmentalists and activists celebrate the establishment of such a Loss and Damage Fund, many questions remain, including how it will work. In the early 1990s, the Alliance of Small Island States and a group of low-lying coastal countries began calling for a Loss and Damage Fund as the United Nations established a framework to address climate change at the international level. Since then, the idea has always been part of the annual UN climate summits. This was often talked about on the sidelines of many negotiations, insisted on by developing countries and activists, while rich countries, especially the West, led by the US, used their weight to downplay the idea. For the first time, COP27 put the issue on the agenda and made it central to the discussions. For nearly three decades, rich developed countries, responsible for more than 90% of the carbon emissions that raise the temperature of the planet, categorically rejected the demand for such a Fund. This year’s agreement in Sharm El Sheikh, however, reflects what can be done when developing and poor countries remain united. Molvin Joseph of Antigua and Barbuda, who heads the Alliance of Small Island States facing an existential threat amid rising ocean and sea levels, called the agreement a “victory for the world.” He rightly stated, “We have shown those who have felt neglected that we hear them, we see them, and we are giving them the respect and attention they deserve.” Pakistan has recently become an example of how lives of millions of people can be disrupted when nearly two-thirds of the country was covered by floodwaters caused by climate change. This is why Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s Minister of Climate Change, who played a key role in negotiating the establishment of the Fund, pulled no punches when she noted that the establishment of the Fund was not about giving away charity.  Speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 coalition, which consists mainly of developing and poor countries, she said, “It is clearly a down payment on the longer investment in our joint futures.” The Fund will initially rely on contributions from developed countries, private and public sources such as international financial institutions, with the possibility of other major economies joining in the future.  The final text points to “identifying and expanding sources of funding,” as insisted upon by the EU, the US and other negotiators, suggesting that countries that are particularly polluting and deemed to be developing countries under the criteria should also contribute to the Fund. During the negotiations, China said that the money for the new Fund should come primarily from developed countries, not from developing countries. But China has the advantage of voluntarily paying into climate funds if the US is the first to do so. For example, when President Barack Obama’s administration pledged $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund in 2014, China also paid $3.1 billion to the fund.  But more details on who pays will be determined by the committee, which the Fund plans to launch within a year. The agreement states that the Fund will help “developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change,” although there will also be an opportunity for middle-income countries severely affected by climate disasters to receive money.  For example, Pakistan, which was devastated by the flood that left a third of the country under water, or Cuba, which was recently hit by Hurricane Ian, may be eligible for receiving aid from the Fund. According to David Waskow, Director of World Resources Institute’s International Climate Initiative, provisions will need to be made for how the Loss and Damage Fund will fit in with “other institutions, agencies that are out there doing humanitarian work, helping people rebuild, dealing with migration and refugee crises, dealing with food security, water security.”  All these details will also be worked out by the committee next year. Beyond mere financial assistance, the creation of the Fund is seen as a huge step forward. But it will ultimately depend, in part, on how quickly it can be created. At the final meeting on November 20, Lia Nicholson from Antigua insisted that the Transition Committee should be set up immediately and given a clear mandate so that there is no further dispute and Western countries cannot evade responsibility for global climate pollution. “This Loss and Damage Fund must become the lifeboat that we need it to be,” she said. At the same time, there is a trust deficit due to past unfulfilled promises, both from the UN and the West, especially the US. In 2009, for example, rich countries agreed to contribute $100 billion a year to help developing countries switch to green energy systems and adapt to climate change. So far, however, the initiative has never been fully funded, and if amounts have been allocated, they have been crumbs which have had little impact on negative global climate change. One of the main reasons why rich countries, led by the US, have long opposed such a Loss and Damage Fund was the fear that it would then also open up long-term liability. Despite the creation of the Fund, the problem is still relevant, as evidenced by the way negotiators made sure that the wording of the Fund was silent on “liability” and that contributions were voluntary. The whole world has long seen, for example, how the United States says and promises one thing one day and then reneges on its promises the next day and does the opposite, with no international responsibility whatsoever. As during the Cold War, the West is actively playing up the theater of mere ostentation, enlisting other countries as arenas in the fight against climate change. Switzerland, for example, plans to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, but not by actually cutting them, which would inconvenience the Swiss, but by paying countries such as Ghana to cut emissions and giving them credit. The idea is that the Swiss government would pay for efficient lighting and cleaner cookers to be installed in Ghanaian homes and claim the resulting emissions reductions as its own. Switzerland is not the only Western country with such carbon offsetting schemes, which naturally crowds out effective climate action in rich countries. The United States has unveiled a “new carbon trading scheme” that will supposedly help poor countries switch to cleaner energy. Under it, large Western companies would invest in renewable energy projects in the Global South in return for allowing them to continue emitting large amounts of greenhouse gases. As environmentalists point out, this is nothing more than another scheme to allow Western big business to continue polluting the environment and making big profits. But all this talk of “transition” in poorer countries is only meant to divert attention away from the West’s unwillingness to change its own economy and to shift the blame for climate problems to those least responsible. It must be said that, despite the stubborn opposition of the US and other Western states, the creation of such a Fund could have implications, both legal and nominal, in climate circles and beyond. For example, several Pacific Island countries are pushing for the International Court of Justice to address the issue of climate change. They argue that international laws should be strengthened to protect their rights should their land be affected by rising sea levels, and it is only natural that the creation of the Loss and Damage Fund could bolster these arguments. Viktor Mikhin, corresponding member of RANS, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

[Category: Columns, Featured, Politics]

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[l] at 11/26/22 8:56pm
A year ago, the whole world was actively debating the fate of United States weapons supplied to Afghanistan, which ended up in the hands of terrorists and criminal gangs. It should be recalled that according to Joe Biden, the total US military spending in 2001-2021 on military operations in Afghanistan exceeded $2 trillion, and the total military aid to the Afghan army from the US amounted to $88 billion. Over twenty years of military operations in the country, Washington gave the Afghan armed forces equipment, weapons and various military ammunition worth many billions of dollars. After the USA’s disgraceful flight from Afghanistan, a huge mass of Western weapons not only ended up in the hands of the Taliban (banned in the Russian Federation), which is recognized as a terrorist movement in many countries, but also appeared on the black markets, which many extremist and terrorist groups and various criminal networks, including those in Europe, took advantage of. The US Congressman Jim Banks claimed in August 2021 that the Taliban had more than 75,000 vehicles, 200 planes and helicopters, not to mention hundreds of thousands of small arms in their hands. In particular, they have more Black Hawk attack helicopters alone than some NATO member states. Attempts then to find out specifically where and how many weapons generously supplied by the United States were being held proved fruitless. As did the identification of those specific individuals in the US political and military establishment who were to blame for such irresponsible behavior. However, after more than a year, as Task&Purpose wrote on November 17, the Pentagon still has no idea how much military equipment it has actually left in Afghanistan and in what hands, other than just the Taliban, it has fallen. A Pentagon inspector general’s report released in August this year only stipulated that the total value of military equipment in service with the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) was approximately $7.12 billion. However, as US media stresses, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) admitted recently that the Pentagon has for years resisted keeping accurate records of the equipment it has transferred to ANDSF and therefore the true size of these military arsenals is unknown. According to some media reports, some of it has already begun to surface in armed conflicts in Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere, ending up in the hands of criminals and militias. This issue has recently become particularly salient against the backdrop of virtually the same situation with Washington’s uncontrolled pumping of various weapons into Ukraine to support the neo-Nazi regime in Kiev. And not only by the US itself, but also with Washington dragging countries in Europe and a number of states from other regions into this reckless policy. Meanwhile, as Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said at a government meeting on November 18, Ukraine has already received $23 billion in aid since the start of Russia’s special operation, including $4.8 billion from the European Union and $8.5 billion from the United States. He also added that Kiev expects another $37.7 billion worth of aid from the United States. As you can see, these figures are considerably higher than the amounts of weapons supplied to Afghanistan. Hence, the negative consequences of uncontrolled US weapons supplies should be expected to be far greater! As media reports reveal, in just the first four months of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine, European and Western countries have supplied or committed to supply Kiev with some $38.5 billion worth of weapons. This, according to SIPRI, is more than the military expenses of countries such as Italy, Australia, Canada or Poland for the last year. According to the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation, the weapons supplied to Ukraine (not only small arms) have ended up in the hands of European criminals. They have already been found in Finland, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands. The EU police service, Europol, warned back in the summer that international criminal organizations were trying to smuggle weapons from Ukraine into EU countries. An investigation by the Austrian newspaper Exxpress has also previously confirmed that weapons supplied by Europe and the US to Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government are disappearing and ending up with European criminal groups. The routes for smuggling such weapons from Ukraine are well known. In particular, this “business” goes through international groups of so-called biker gangs (for example, the Bandidos Motorcycle Club has representatives in every major Ukrainian city) and seaports, which are not as carefully guarded as airports.  In fact, a similar situation took place after the wars unleashed by the West in the 1990s in Yugoslavia, from where smuggled weapons entered many countries and on November 2, 2020 were used in the worst ever terrorist attack perpetrated by Muslims in Austria. US media outlets are voicing their serious concern over Washington’s uncontrolled allocation of billions of dollars for weapons to the criminal Kiev regime. A recent article in Substack bluntly states that no one in the US knows exactly where all the weapons and cash aid sent by the White House to Ukraine is going. Allegedly, not even the inspector general, the watchdog of American finances, knows this Given the recurrent pattern of uncontrolled supply of huge quantities of weapons by the US during the war in Yugoslavia, then in Afghanistan and now in Ukraine, it is no secret that their appearance on the black markets is extremely profitable for the US. It is not just that this “arms business” is an established corruption scheme in the United States, for which no one is held accountable. It must not be forgotten that these smuggled weapons, which have been resurfacing for decades, are destabilizing the situation and creating new conflicts. And they create new hotspots, where Washington is successfully lining its pockets. When it comes back to Europe, including with Ukrainian refugees, this so-called “military aid,” which Josep Borrell is particularly active in advocating from the European podium, could fire a shot at an EU country at any time. Such “aid” arms not only criminals and terrorists, but also neo-Nazi formations actively revived by certain military and political forces in the United States and Europe, capable of bringing the brown plague back to the European continent. That will be the EU residents’ payback for US corrupt weapons schemes in Ukraine a nice addition to the dire consequences already experienced by the Europeans from the US-imposed Russophobic sanctions policy, the removal of Russia from the EU energy market, the instigation of a sabotage attack on the Nord Stream 1&2 pipelines, which would have ensured, as in previous years, European energy security from Russia. This is the price for Europe and the world as a whole for the White House’s policy of Russophobia in the name of a maniacal quest for US world domination. “Ukraine is receiving weapons in large quantities, and that is a good thing. But we will now be dealing with these weapons for several decades elsewhere. This is the price we will have to pay to fight back Russia,” a senior police official said. Vladimir Platov, expert on the Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

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

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[l] at 11/25/22 10:53pm
In 2011, over a dozen states in the Arab world were hit by a West-instigated wave of protest movements in the name of reshaping the political map of the world and redistributing the region’s natural wealth. At that time, color revolutions raged in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen, civil wars destabilized the situation in Libya and Syria, demonstrations took place in Bahrain and mass unrest in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan and Morocco. The United Nations estimates that this struggle by the collective West for “democratic values,” which in actuality become a drain on economic resources, has cost the Middle East alone over $600 billion. Generally, these protests followed a similar pattern: protesters took to the streets and forced the incumbent authorities to step down. Although such mass street protests were usually peaceful in the beginning, it was almost never possible to avoid acts of violence. The manipulators of these actions immediately tried to use the inevitable “holy martyrs” for their own dirty purposes, turning the focus of the demonstrations against representatives of law enforcement agencies and the country’s authorities, thus further undermining the situation in the country. It was clear to everyone that such street actions and mass protests were virtually impossible without an “organizer.” The author of the methodology of mass protests and color revolutions is considered by many to be the American Gene Sharp, who wrote the book “From Dictatorship to Democracy” in 1993. And his “work” has long been a “guide to action” for various coup organizers, especially from the US. Now, after the events of 2011, it is easy to see another wave of such events in the Middle East organized by “external forces.” In Egypt, for example, members of radical groups have recently become active on social media, calling for mass unrest and the overthrow of the current government. They post calls for Egyptians to take to the streets, especially using the COP27 climate summit taking away all the attention of the authorities. Preparations for such a development were started by “external forces” in advance, involving journalists, parties and movements in opposition to the authorities, most of whom have been arrested in Egypt in recent months for such activities. However, many of them were recently released under the pressure of ultimatums from Washington that the US could suspend arms supplies to the Egyptian army until the opposition members were released from prisons. To understand the “effectiveness” of such an ultimatum, it would suffice to recall that Egypt annually receives about $1.5 billion in financial aid from the US to pay for military expenses, and the Egyptian authorities cannot afford to lose this “support.” And to “save face,” Cairo set up a “presidential pardon committee” which granted amnesty to hundreds of opposition-minded people. The protest wave is also being actively promoted by the West in Iran, where mass unrest has not ceased for two months. It all started with a demand by protesters in the streets to investigate the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by the vice squad for wearing the hijab improperly. Then political slogans became louder and louder, ranging from greater rights for Iranian Kurds, Baluchis and Azeris, to the resignation of President Ebrahim Raisi, the change from the country’s religious Islamic regime to a secular one. President Raisi, who was at the annual UN General Assembly meeting in New York when the protests began, accused the United States of inciting Iranians to protest and called on Washington to deal with its own problems instead of meddling in other countries’ affairs. In Turkey, “external forces” have also attempted to destabilize the situation by carrying out a series of terrorist attacks, the most high-profile of which was the November 13 bombing on Istanbul’s most crowded tourist street. Numerous observers, and indeed a number of representatives of the Turkish authorities, do not rule out that the US is behind the attacks, which are destabilizing the situation to prevent Recep Erdoğan from being re-elected as president. After all, Ankara’s policies in recent years have notoriously been met with disapproval in Washington. It is especially true of Erdoğan’s desire to create a new balance of power in a region where previously the main players were the US and Israel whose only opponent was Iran with a number of allies in Palestine, Lebanon and Syria. And the US does not forget that at one time the US authorities accepted Turkey into NATO in order to use it as a real threat to the interests of the USSR and then Russia from the south and Transcaucasia, to allow US and NATO ships to enter the Black Sea waters unimpeded and to establish their own rules in the region. However, Erdoğan has set a clear course not only to blatantly undermine US and Western hegemony, but also to strengthen relations with Russia, through which he hopes to strengthen Turkey’s own position and turn it into a major energy and food hub. Therefore, the main objective with regard to Turkey has been defined by the US through its allies as preventing Erdoğan’s re-election in 2023, for which Washington has used various well-known “tools.” This includes the use of extremist militias specially trained by US intelligence agencies for this purpose. In this case, these were fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which, according to Turkish authorities, was behind the attack in Istanbul and may have received the “go-ahead” to carry it out from its Western sponsors. That is why Turkey did not accept the condolences of the United States after the terrorist attack on November 13, saying via its Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu that it did not believe in the sincerity of the United States, which had been among the first to express condolences to Turkey: “We do not accept, and reject the condolences of the US Embassy. Its statement is like a murderer being first to show up at a crime scene.” For the same reason, the Turkish Air Force struck a US training center for fighters of the Kurdish Democratic Syrian Forces in Al-Hasakah on November 21. In all the recent destabilization activities in Egypt, Iran and Turkey, one thing is clear: these hostile activities began to emerge after these countries deepened and developed relations with Russia, against which the current Russophobic establishment in the West has launched an undeclared war. And not only on Ukrainian soil, but also internationally, at various platforms and in the trade and economic sphere. And now they got to destabilizing the situation in countries that support Moscow’s policies. Valery Kulikov, political expert, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

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

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[l] at 11/25/22 4:55am
Tensions between North and South Korea have not abated, and the advance toward the danger line is unceasing. On November 9, North Korea launched a short-range ballistic missile toward the Sea of Japan. On the same day, the South Korean military announced that fragments of one of the North Korean missiles recovered the previous day in waters near the sea border were a Soviet-designed surface-to-air anti-aircraft missile SA-5 (S-200) (developed in the 1960s). It should be noted that despite its primary purpose of engaging hostile air targets, the missile can also be used to attack ground targets, which North Korea likely did by launching a missile on a ballistic trajectory. On November 14, President Joe Biden said the United States would have to take certain actions that would be more defensive if North Korea conducted a nuclear test. He also made it clear to President Xi Jinping that they have to try to make it clear to North Korea that it should not engage in long-range nuclear tests (sic!!), otherwise those more defensive measures would be directed at China Xi Jinping, however, refused to accept the US presidents request. On November 17, 2022, DPRK Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui issued a stern warning to the United States, Japan, and ROK, whose leaders decided on legitimate and indispensable military countermeasures at a trilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit. On the same day, November 17, North Korea launched a short-range ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan. Shortly before the launch, South Korea and the United States held pre-planned missile defense exercises involving Aegis-equipped destroyers. The highlight of the week, however, was the November 18 launch of a Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile that landed in international waters in the Sea of Japan. According to Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada, the missile could fly 15,000 km and reach almost any point on US soil if it were not on an articulated trajectory. It is called a monster rocket because of its enormous size and is known to carry multiple warheads. But its not just that. This was the DPRKs SIXTEEN missile launch in 2022, an absolute record in all the years of nuclear missile crisis. After the launch, Kim Jong-un declared that the recent very dangerous situation in which an open military threat from the United States and hostile forces is observed in the zone near our state makes it urgent that we practically accelerate the increase of the suppressive forces of nuclear deterrence. In response to this launch, the South Korean military conducted its first attack exercise against a North Korean mobile launch base. This involved the use of F-35A stealth fighters dropping GBU-12 guided bombs. A B-1B Lancer strategic bomber joined the exercise a day later. Political condemnation proceeded as usual: ROK President Yoon Suk-yeol directed the National Security Council to take steps to strengthen security cooperation between ROK, the United States, and Japan and ordered it to begin consultations with foreign countries on convening an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council and discussing additional sanctions against Pyongyang. The White House was also highly critical. On November 18, UN Secretary General António Guterres issued a statement in which he strongly condemned the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile by North Korea and called on Pyongyang to immediately stop further provocative actions. On November 20, G7 foreign ministers issued a joint statement condemning the missile launch and calling on the global community to respond harshly to North Koreas actions, including through the UN Security Council. On November 21, North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui expressed “strong regret” over the Secretary Generals condemnation of the launch from the UN, calling the Hwasong-17 launch a “legitimate and fair exercise of the right to self-defense” against US military threats. On the evening of November 21, the United States reconvened the UN Security Council. It was the tenth session devoted to the DPRK, but this one also ended without results. Chinese Ambassador to UN Zhang Jun stressed that “the United States should take the initiative, show sincerity, make realistic and implementable proposals, respond positively to the DPRKs legitimate concerns, and turn the dialog from a formality into reality as soon as possible.” The diplomat called on Washington to take practical measures to “stop military exercises and ease sanctions on the DPRK” to prevent the situation from escalating again or even getting out of control Zhang pointed out that the Security Council should play a constructive role on this issue and not always condemn or pressure the DPRK. Anna Evstigneeva, Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, also pointed out that “the reason for what is happening is clear: Washingtons desire to force Pyongyang to unilaterally disarm through sanctions and strong pressure.” In their view, “it is obvious that Pyongyangs missile launches are the result of the United States short-sighted confrontational military activities around the DPRK, which are damaging both to its partners in the region and the situation in Northeast Asia as a whole.” At the same time, possible new sanctions threaten to create further tensions on the Korean Peninsula, “which could lead to unpredictable and dangerous consequences for the entire Northeast Asia region”. What’s next? As Anna Evstigneeva rightly noted, the vicious cycle will continue to spin and this will likely not be the last DPRK launch in 2022. The North is expected to continue testing technologies that will allow ICBMs to carry multiple warheads and re-enter the atmosphere. Thus, there will continue to be missile launches, both for technological and demonstration purposes. In turn, Washington and its allies will try again, as they did in the spring, to bring up the adoption of new sanctions resolutions, but it is just as likely that the relevant steps will be vetoed by Beijing and Moscow as they were in May. Konstantin Asmolov, PhD in History, leading research fellow at the Center for Korean Studies of the Institute of the Far East at the Russian Academy of Sciences, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

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

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[l] at 11/24/22 9:59pm
According to a growing number of analysts in various countries around the world, the liberal world order that was established on the planet after the end of the Cold War in the interest of the United States is crumbling before our eyes and is definitely doomed. The Economist magazine, which is owned by the Rothschild family – the main bankers of the British financial system – has published its famous forecast cover for the next year, entitled The World ahead 2023, showing the most important people who will determine the world in 2023. The portraits of the politicians are not the same size in this case, reflecting their different share in world politics. And in this regard, it is worth noting that the portraits of Xi and Putin are the largest ones. Moreover, Putin is in the middle and the other heads of state are in a circle around him, clearly symbolizing that Russia remains at the center of world politics and will continue to play a crucial role in global processes. As former US intelligence officer Scott Ritter said in an interview with Judging Freedom, the United States is afflicted with the disease of “national arrogance,” Washingtons desire to dictate its terms has made the other countries weary. The rules and norms established by Washington after World War II no longer govern the planet as they once did, The Hill notes. The instruments that prohibit aggression against other countries have been violated. The institutions that govern the global economy are teetering and collapsing under the weight of successive financial crises. Even regional organizations touted by the West as models of stability, such as NATO and the European Union, are being torn apart by unprecedented centrifugal forces. A new system of international relations is being put in place, one that takes into account not only the interests of other great powers such as China, India, and Russia, but also the interests of states that wish to pursue policies independent of the United States and the West. Therefore, no one was surprised by Brazilian Foreign Minister Carlos Alberto Frances statement on the sidelines of the G20 summit that developing countries, including Brazil, have the right to take an independent stand on all issues of world politics. Turkeys Cumhuriyet writes that the G20 is becoming obsolete and the BRICS is confidently filling the scene. At the same time, the publication emphasizes that the lions share of goods on the world market is already outside the hegemony of the West, its isolation is obvious, de-dollarization has become the main trend promoted by this association, which has noticeably increased its influence recently. More and more countries are showing interest in the BRICS, which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. As of today, the BRICS association represents 41% of the world population, 24% of GDP and 16% of world trade. Obviously, this association will transform into BRICS+ very soon. This is evidenced in particular by the already announced intentions of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Mexico, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Iran, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Algeria, Egypt, Senegal and a number of other countries to join. At the 14th BRICS summit, chaired by China via videoconference in June, one of the events was held in the BRICS+ format, attended by representatives of 18 states. In addition to the top five, Algeria, Argentina, Cambodia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Fiji, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Senegal, Thailand, and Uzbekistan participated in the event. Algerias interest in joining the BRICS group was announced by President Abdelmadjid Tebboune in early August. According to the head of state, the countrys accession will help prevent APDR from being drawn into bipolar conflicts Algerias membership in BRICS will allow the country to better develop reciprocal tourism with Russia, trade in agricultural products, implementation of projects in the field of nuclear energy and other areas. In recent years, the discussion on the necessity for Turkey to acquire full membership in BRICS has become commonplace in Turkish political circles. According to the Turkish media, this issue is gaining importance not only due to the normalization of political, military and economic relations with Russia. We must not forget that Turkeys application to join the EU is still “under consideration” since 1987; trampling on the doors of the European Union for 35 years (!) has been quite annoying for the Turks. Furthermore it looks like an open humiliation of the Turks by the West. Ankaras reaction in April of this year, when an EU delegation came to Turkey and Erdoğan defiantly did not provide a chair for the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, is not surprising. He left her only a seat on the couch for common translators. Besides, it is no secret that people in Turkey are not enthusiastic about NATO. Among them, the idea of leaving this alliance and criticism of the United States and NATO is gaining popularity. Turkey does not forgive being neglected by the alliance, especially after it participated in the joint development of the costly US F-35 fighter and started producing some components for it. However, the US refused to supply the Turks not only with the F-35 but also with codes for its missile defense and air defense systems, forcing the Turkish leader to choose other external points of reference and turn to Vladimir Putin with the purchase of Russian S-400s. While US allies in Europe are trying to adopt Russophobic positions and defend the neo-Nazi regime in Ukraine, other countries are increasingly advocating a radical revision of the international order, a departure from the unipolar world imposed by Washington, thus expressing their support for Russian policy. As the Bulgarian Diary rightly noted, more and more countries today want to be directly represented at the international negotiating table and not just be on the menu, because they have the power and ambition to influence their regions. Their aspirations to join the BRICS show that, faced with an unprecedented increase in geopolitical risks, the world is rapidly becoming aware of the need to replace the old US-centered architecture of world order with a new configuration of international relations and regional blocs based on equality and consideration of mutual interests. Today, it is already clear everywhere that the unipolar model of global governance imposed by the West is not up to the task, its financial structures are running low, and these structures actually serve only the interests of the ruling elites of the industrialized countries. And if we take into account the harmonization of the policies and actions of the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) with the BRICS, we can say that already more than half of the worlds population and the lions share of the worlds goods are outside the hegemony of the United States and the West. Vladimir Odintsov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

[Category: Columns, Economics, Featured, Locations]

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[l] at 11/24/22 8:04am
Protestants are fond of quoting John Calvin’s claim that if you take all the relics of the True Cross and put them all together, they would fill a large ship. This is not, and never has been, actually true. But Calvin’s idea was that the concept of relics, the life-giving body parts or possessions of saints, is flawed, and thus needs to be supported by lies to have any hold over the faithful. If you put the British Conservative Party MPs, and those who still cling to their Brexit dream, all together you really could fill a large ship, and more than one. But the more time goes on, the more obvious it becomes that the ideas behind them are flawed, and can only be supported by lies. That’s why we had Boris Johnson. A consummate liar who tries to pretend that doesn’t matter was the only person who could sell the con, and get away with it by making fantasy more important. Boris was finally booted out for upsetting even his own supporters by doing this too often, with nothing to show for it. His party members then replaced him with Liz Truss, the unprincipled loudmouth who crashed the pound and was then forced out after the shortest premiership ever, with her own MPs declaring her not up to the job. Now Rishi Sunak, the man those MPs actually voted for in the election which Truss won, has been appointed to take her place without involving the membership; all this is legal and above board in the UK, and Sunak does not have to call an election until December 2024, so he is hoping to spend the next two years reversing the damage his predecessors have done. But how is the man who is presenting himself as the decent, moderate, reasonable Conservative in contrast to his predecessors in the same party, going to achieve this? By going back, he says, to the values set out in the 2019 Conservative Party election manifesto. The 1983 Labour manifesto, full of commitments regarded as “loony left” by the general public, has been known ever since as “the longest suicide note in history”. Unlike that one, the 2019 Conservative one worked, and delivered the party an 80 seat majority, but on the central promise of “getting Brexit done” the very thing which has made all the law-breaking, corruption and economic lunacy seem not merely a collection of isolated aberrations but the eggs which Brexit laid: if they can get away with Brexit, they think they can get away with anything. The Good Old Days The legendary psephologist F.W.S. Craig produced a series of highly detailed volumes of parliamentary electoral results in which all the results were ultimately analysed in terms of swings to the Conservatives. This is because turning to the Conservatives is what the British electorate usually do, over time, because they have successfully branded themselves as the party of common sense and reason, with the others as ideological, and beholden to unsavoury elements. Rishi Sunak will never be able to turn his party back into a force of reason and common sense as long as he sticks to the 2019 manifesto. Of all the Conservative manifestos ever produced, this was the prime example of blind ideology and rabble rousing pie in the sky, as it was designed to be. This same Sunak also told his MPs, on being elected, that the party was facing a threat to its very existence. It is the ideological insistence on Brexit and associated viciousness which has created this threat. Sunak will not only be unable to stem the tide, he will only make matters worse for him, his friends and his country by trying to make out that the 2019 manifesto represents reasonable conservatism. Or that the voters can be made to want that, now they have seen what “Get Brexit Done” actually means. The Emperor’s New Broom Much has been made of Rishi Sunak being a Hindu and an immigrant particularly as many people voted for Brexit so they could get rid of foreigners and immigrants. He is also known to be a multimillionaire who married a billionaire, and is thus seen as a sort of honorary white, a coloured man who is now better than what he is because he has a lot of money. It is all very reminiscent of Martin Bendelow, another young thruster who made a lot of money in order to advance through the ranks of the Conservative Party, believing this to be the best way of doing that. Bendelow impressed so much that he was selected as a parliamentary candidate in 1979, in a safe Labour seat, and was on his way to standing for a safe Conservative seat, and thus entering parliament, at the next election. The fact that Bendelow had made most of his money by dealing cocaine didn’t seem to bother anyone enough to ask questions. His greed and ambition simply confirmed the existing prejudices of the party grandees, who decided that walking the walk and talking the talk, and having the bank balance to be called a success, covered every sin in the book. If Sunak doesn’t look like a Tory but sounds like one, this makes Tory ways superior and appropriate for all. To that extent he is exactly what is needed, as the party which delivered Brexit, and kicked out many of the genuinely traditional members for not being prepared to sign a pledge of allegiance to that policy and Johnson, is trying to save itself by saying that whatever they’ve done, everyone still wants to be like them, so they must be alright. But Sunak has no choice but to continue down the same disgusting road as his disgraced immediate predecessors, who he did of course serve as a minister, backbencher or party member. His pitch to both MPs and party members is that the party is basically right, the 2019 manifesto is basically right, but flawed individuals have made mistakes. But he cannot avoid making those same mistakes for as long as he stands by the manifesto which created them by being a license to criminality. Cast Iron Alibi Sunak told the world when he was elected that he wanted to restore integrity to his office. He then compromised this position the same day by reappointing Suella Braverman as Home Secretary. Braverman had been forced to resign a few days before for breaching the Ministerial Code, specifically for sending a sensitive official document from her personal email. She claimed when resigning that this had been an accident, but it later emerged that she had committed the same breach on several other occasions, had been told she was doing it, and had been deemed a security risk by the same security service she was supposed to be in charge of as Home Secretary. Why did the stupid man do such a thing, and even raise a rebellion in his own ranks on the very day he was anointed as their leader? There have been rumours of some dirty backroom deal, as if the only way Sunak would have a clear run to become Prime Minister was by promising to give his fellow dubious Asian her job back. The truth is more likely to be that Braverman has got to where she is by being a pit bull version of Sunak himself – another foreign-origin bigot who will say and do the most outrageous things to pander to the most reactionary elements. The same forces who, by all analyses undertaken, gave the Conservatives their victory in 2019 by regarding the party of the established order as a bunch of iconoclasts set to destroy that order because it had failed them, most spectacularly during periods of Conservative government. When Braverman resigned she portrayed herself as a victim of an “anti-growth” culture, represented by opposition parties, who were determined to destroy her because she was standing up for the people. Since being reappointed she has made similar statements in parliament when asked why she is allowed to be the Home Secretary after what she has done. What we are supposed to hear is that the people supported the 2019 manifesto, and therefore it has to be pursued at all costs, regardless of laws or consequences. When it continues to go pear shaped, Sunak will do exactly what his predecessors have prepared the ground for – say that sticking to the plan makes the party decent, but the negative consequences are all the fault of the electorate. This is why Conservatives have babbled endlessly about Brexit being “The Will of the People” since the 2016 referendum. It’s all the fault of the voters, not the good, decent Conservative Party which just did as the electors told it. No one was asked in the referendum about whether they wanted the serial law breaking, corrupt contracts, demonising of unbelievers and significant economic damage which came with Brexit. But these are all being presented as consequences of the people being stupid. The Conservatives must really be better than that, because they were once, but have become the unwilling victims of an electorate so venal that they empowered the poor politicians to commit all these crimes on their behalf. Sunak’s version of restoring integrity to the premiership is to do all the things his predecessors did, but say that if there’s something wrong with it that must be someone else’s fault. So he and his friends can walk away saying politics is a dirty business, and leave others to clean it up without them having to apologise or betray their donors, whose agendas have been well documented. Johnson and Truss became seen as corrupt because they were being the bastards the people voted for. Sunak was part of all that, but now everyone else is the bastard. When those bastards then vote them out, whoever comes next will be the new bastards, whilst the Conservatives will seek to rebuild by appealing to the decent folk who have abandoned them because of their behaviour. Whether those people will return to the fold remains to be seen. But Sunak does know this won’t happen until this misadventure has run its course, and has decided martyrdom is his only way out. Adding Up To Zero  Standing or falling by the 2019 manifesto does give Sunak one advantage. He can say that whatever he does is not a reflection of some abstract notion of the public good, but something specific, which anyone can still read about, check and decide whether it is being done or not. It also means he can again blame the voters. Anything which can be related to a manifesto commitment, however tenuously, can be said to be what the public chose to do to themselves, because there are no other parameters. If people disagree, only the party which wrote the manifesto can be the authority on what it meant, even though that manifesto is being given primacy because the voters supposedly knew what it meant, and thus supported it. The primary 2019 manifesto commitment was to get Brexit done. The United Kingdom has now left the European Union, and is dealing with the consequences. People supported Brexit because they thought they would be better off in certain ways relevant to them. So is Brexit already done, and the government can wash its hands of those consequences? Or will it only be done when people feel better off as a result, if they ever do? In that same 2019 manifesto the reason given for “getting Brexit done” was to move on to other things instead of Brexit dominating all policy and discourse. So Sunak’s party has no intention of getting Brexit done, it just wants it to go away. In other words, Sunak’s idea of integrity is to ignore the consequences of Brexit, and then blame the voters when they refuse to move on from the situation, he claims they created. Those same voters were told that the money the UK gave the EU each week could instead be given to the National Health Service. Having been called out on both the figures and subsequent attempts to say this was not a binding promise; the 2019 manifesto promised the watered down 50,000 more nurses and 50 million more GP (local doctor) appointments per year. The government does maintain that it is on track to provide these new nurses by 2024. And if you only look at those joining throughout the profession that is, and ignore those who are leaving: The NHS is operating at 11% below the required staffing levels, despite the promised Brexit dividend. GP appointments have increased, but the number of GPs has fallen, making the integrity of the whole manifesto, “work more for less pay and less support in order to make the government look good”. There are such examples throughout the manifesto. In each case, the message is that the party has high ideals and values, but if they don’t bring any benefit, it is the fault of you, the voters, for either voting for them or not doing enough to make them work. The public won’t stand for being treated like that, but when the backlash comes, what will the Conservatives have left? Only this supposed integrity, all other things having been rejected by the electorate. Sunak’s suicide note has been there since 2019, all he has to do is show it was hiding in plain sight. That will be the whole purpose of his government. He will go down with the ship, but with his wealth intact, and when the next lot mess up, he is hoping that the blood of their martyrdom will obscure that of the millions they themselves martyred to get to this point, because is that what has always happened to his party, when people who really were sensible and decent were running it. Seth Ferris, investigative journalist and political scientist, expert on Middle Eastern affairs, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

[Category: Columns, Featured, Locations, Politics]

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[l] at 11/24/22 2:40am
The phrase “shifting the center of gravity of global processes to the Indo-Pacific” has long been a well-established meme, i.e. it reflects a fairly obvious reality. In this regard, the fact that from November 8 to 19 this year in Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand, in the three countries of the (sub)region of Southeast Asia, a series of international events was held with the attendance of plenipotentiaries of all significant participants in the current stage of the “Great Game”, is fully in line with the above-mentioned realities. The mentioned shift itself is in a large part due to China’s emergence as a new global power. In this connection, the presence of Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the most important of the events outlined above was of particular significance.   The rise of China’s role in the world is perceived diversely by different players. It is viewed primarily in Washington and Tokyo as a challenge to their own interests. While such assessments by the latter can in some way be explained, the reason for the wary attitude towards Beijing on the part of London and Paris remains unclear to the author. Perhaps this is a kind of “relic glow” from the “collective West” which is still showing signs of life. But its intensity is waning. This is evidenced by the increasingly obvious manifestation of the individual interest factor in the specific activities of distinct members of the “collective West”. In this context, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s recent trip to the PRC was undoubtedly a landmark visit. The growing role of Germany on the European continent due to this, as well as the (possible) prospect of Germany forming a partnership with the PRC-Russia tandem, has provoked a sharp increase in bile production in the “stomach” of those forces that do not like it at all. What they are prepared to do to avoid such a prospect is shown by the undermining of gas pipelines linking Russia to Germany (and a number of other European countries). Against the background of an event which deserves to be labelled as a “terrorist attack of the 21st century”, it is strange to see regular “hate speeches” (to put it mildly) uttered on state television towards a country which has been almost the main victim of it. The Prime Minister of the country suspected of the attack cancelled the meeting with the Chinese leader on the sidelines of one of the aforementioned events, the G20 summit, at the last minute. In terms of assessing the nature of the current stage of the “Great Game”, this fact seems hardly less significant than the content of the “for all good against all bad” document that was signed at the end of the event. As this kind of platform is interesting mainly because it gives the world’s leading players the opportunity to talk about truly significant international issues. And this opportunity (if only to probe the state of relations with the second world power) was not seized by the newly appointed Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Opinions differ on the immediate reasons for the “last minute disruption” of the Xi Jinping-Rishi Sunak meeting. One thing is certain: Beijing felt that the current state of bilateral relations was not yet conducive to its implementation.  However, there has long been a clear interest on the part of British business in developing a business relationship with the PRC. A similar aspiration was expressed in a congratulatory message sent by his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang to R. Sunak on the occasion of the said appointment. This is despite the fact that there were repeated anti-Chinese diatribes by the latter (both on the eve and after his appointment as the UK Prime Minister). And one of the new British Prime Minister’s first defiantly anti-Chinese actions was to send Minister of State for Trade Policy Greg Hands to Taiwan. There he was gratefully received by the “leader of the Taiwan separatists” (according to Beijing’s official language), but in fact by President Tsai Ing-wen. There is also talk of the possibility of British arms being sent to Taiwan. Other Europeans equally indulge in the dubious pleasure of teasing the (outwardly phlegmatic) Chinese panda (which, however, can suddenly and instantaneously turn into a dragon). But this does not usually happen at the level of incumbent governments (the exception here so far has been the Eastern European limitrophe states). This is mostly done by members of national parliaments of varying ranks who owe nothing to the official authorities of their own countries. Although more often than not, they are not responsible for anything. Unlike the British, other Europeans, as well as the Japanese, Indians and even Americans, retain for themselves a window of opportunity in maintaining relations with the PRC. All of them took the occasion to talk to the PRC leader. This is important in itself, irrespective of the practical outcome of such contacts. Since talks between Chancellor O. Scholz and Xi Jinping were held in Beijing only a week before all the above-mentioned events in Southeast Asia, French President E. Macron had the main role in representing Europe at the meeting with the Chinese leader. They spoke on November 15 on the sidelines of the G20 summit in the Indonesian island of Bali. Since the EU shares with the US and ASEAN (one of the main participants in the events under discussion) the top three positions on China’s list of trading partners and there are still problems in this area of China-Europe relations (despite notable progress in resolving them, these were at the center of the talks. The Chinese Foreign Ministry’s message on their contents drew attention to the Chinese leader’s commitment to “opening up” and “advancing Chinese modernization”, which “will offer France and other countries new opportunities.” The French President’s words, on the other hand, were politically correct and general in nature. The overall impression is that the parties so far seem to agree on the very need to continue (multi-year) negotiations with a view to overcoming the remaining problems. The venue for the first Japan-China summit in three years was the APEC calendar meeting, which took place on November 18-19 in Bangkok, Thailand. The very rarity of such bilateral meetings already amply demonstrates the dysfunctional political environment between the two major powers in East Asia. However, the sphere of mutual trade continues to develop successfully. In general, the prediction made on the eve of this meeting by an American CSIS (Center for Strategic & International Studies) expert “about weak signs of renewed relations” turned out to be correct. It was hard to expect anything different when, during the talks, Japanese Prime Minister F. Kishida insisted on the “importance of peace and security in the Taiwan strait” and also “conveyed grave concerns about the situation in the East China Sea, including the Senkaku Islands.” The only thing that was agreed upon was a (repeatedly postponed) visit to China by the head of the Japanese Foreign Ministry. But there is no guarantee that this “postponement” will not continue. Reasons for this keep multiplying in bilateral relations. The longest encounter (which took about four hours) was the key meeting of the Chinese leader’s entire discussed overseas trip, during which he held talks with US President J. Biden. The assessment of their outcome was also predominantly skeptical in tone. It seems that throughout the meeting the sides limited themselves to conveying to their negotiating partners their own vision of solutions to the problems in bilateral relations. In this respect, commentators draw attention to the (threateningly crucial) factor of the outcome of the just concluded US midterm elections. Even today, though, Congress is probably the main generator of negativity in bilateral relations. As such, however, it will only strengthen with the Republicans winning the lower house of the US parliament. After the sharp breakdown in relations between the two Asian giants in the summer of 2020, the fact that Xi Jinping shook hands with Indian Prime Minister N. Modi on the sidelines of the G20 summit already looks very positive. On the latter, it is once again critical to note that India maintains its current (relatively) neutral course in the international arena. This already seems to be a very difficult task. But New Delhi should expect even greater difficulties next, given the ongoing problems in relations with China and the almost continuous stream of sweet songs poured into the ears of India’s leadership by leading Western “sirens”. The most talented “singers” are undoubtedly located in the capital of the former metropole. In this context, the talks between R. Sunak and N. Modi (allegedly with the former not infrequently switching to Hindi) held on the sidelines of the same G20 summit could not fail to draw attention. Overall, the outcome of the bilateral contacts made by the Chinese leader during his first trip after the milestone (notably for him personally) 20th CPC Congress with representatives of countries variously positioned as the PRC’s opponents is not exactly in line with the positive results recorded in the documents adopted at the series of international fora just held. However, it may well be inferred that it is not China at all but these countries that are missing some important trends in the current stage of the “Great Game”. Vladimir Terekhov, expert on the issues of the Asia-Pacific region, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

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

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[l] at 11/23/22 9:11pm
In recent decades, the issue of ensuring the security of African states has become particularly acute. This is as a matter of fact, due to the numerous problems that have accumulated on the continent, including high levels of poverty, the dissatisfaction of the population of several countries with the policies of the authorities, territorial claims, disagreements on an ethnic, religious, and political basis, the continuing activities of a number of terrorist groups that have provoked armed conflicts of varying intensity. The existing universal instrument represented by the United Nations sometimes did not have the time to respond adequately and effectively to the numerous challenges and crises on the African continent, and the individual actions taken sometimes did not satisfy all interested parties. Under these conditions, African leaders established their own system in 2003 within the framework of the African Union (AU) – the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) –intended to provide timely and adequate responses to emerging threats at the intra- and interstate levels. However, due to a lack of funding, inefficient management, and a lack of consensus among African leaders on issues related to ensuring stability on the continent, many components of this structure are still not functioning at full capacity. In this regard, the issues of ensuring security in Africa are increasingly coordinated in the relations between individual African states, which through joint efforts seek to address the common dangers and the threats posed by criminal structures. For example, criminal activity by radical militants who kidnap civilians for ransom has recently increased significantly against residents of Cameroon and the Central African Republic. After government forces begin an operation against the militants in one of these countries, the militants move with the hostages into the territory of a neighboring country and continue their predatory activities there. In the last three months alone, the radical militants have captured more than 80 people and demanded a ransom of $20,000 on average for each kidnapping, which is an unaffordable sum for local residents. According to information provided by authorities, the terrorists enter mainly from Chad. For fear of becoming hostages of terrorists, farmers in the northern regions of Cameroon do not go to work, and many residents leave the villages and plantations, which has a very negative impact on security and agriculture. Under these conditions, the defense ministers of Cameroon and the Central African Republic have agreed to deploy their military contingents near the common border to combat this threat. Similar problems with increasing gang activity have been observed in the border areas of Mali. This was addressed on October 10 between Malian Defense Minister Sadio Camara and his Ugandan counterpart Vincent Ssempijja, and is reflected in the military cooperation agreement signed between the countries. The terrorist threat and the failure of the former president of Burkina Faso to deal with it led to a change in leadership in that country in October. As a result of the military coup, Captain Ibrahim Traore assumed leadership in Burkina Faso. On November 13, Malian Defense Minister Sadio Camara and his Burkinabe counterpart Kassoum Coulibaly discussed the recent security crisis in West Africa and reaffirmed their commitment to cooperate in the fight against terrorism, particularly against radicals near their shared border. A wave of mass support from the inhabitants of Burkina Faso for strengthening the security of their own state has led in recent days to the registration of more than 25 thousand volunteers in the ranks of the Burkinabe armed forces to defend the country. In order to legally regulate the activities of volunteers in the country, the Council of Ministers of Burkina Faso adopted a law on the creation of volunteer units as part of the national security forces. The resulting Brigades of Volunteers for the Defense of the Homeland (VDP) are deployed in internal service. Against the backdrop of Kenya’s involvement in counterterrorism efforts in Somalia, the activities of the Al-Shabaab terrorist group (banned in Russia) have noticeably increased recently, particularly in northeastern Kenya. Under these circumstances, Kenyan President William Ruto has sent national troops to the Northern Rift Valley. Barracks for the military are to be built there on the orders of the Kenyan president. Units of the Kenyan Defense Forces will patrol the area and conduct operations to clear the region of criminal elements. In parallel, the Kenyan Cabinet of Ministers has approved the creation of special crime-fighting units from general units and rapid reaction forces of the Ministry of Interior. In light of ongoing attacks by extremist militants in the border area with Somalia, representatives of the national intelligence services of Kenya and Ethiopia signed an agreement on November 15 on the joint fight against terrorism. According to the law enforcement agencies of these countries, this document will help eliminate the vulnerability in the joint security systems that leads to destabilization of the situation. The African Union initiated the dialog between the representatives of law enforcement agencies of the two countries. In order to successfully combat crime and extremism, the Security Watch African Initiative (SWAI) called on African states to share information on this issue at its annual conference in the Gambia on November 14. To this end, the forum participants decided to develop a legal framework on the basis of which the states of the region will exchange the necessary information without prejudice to national interests. At the same time, the head of SWAI, Patrick Agbambou, called for strengthening the judicial system of the countries in the region, holding regular consultations with platforms such as SADC and ECOWAS, and cooperating more closely in bilateral relations. The conferees also stressed the importance of active interaction with the African Union’s collective security body, which should become the main platform for resolving conflicts on the continent. Vladimir Danilov, political observer, exclusively for the online journal “New Eastern Outlook”.

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

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[l] at 11/23/22 10:23am
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev was re-elected as the President of Kazakhstan. He was supported by 81.31% of voters in the snap election on November 20.  Thus, Tokayev confirmed his legitimacy and the citizens of the republic opted for New Kazakhstan, the program proposed by the head of state. The election was calm, despite warnings from the National Security Committee of impending destabilization attempts by radical groups. One of these was detained the day before. Josep Borrell, head of European diplomacy, came to support Tokayev in the election, promising Kazakhstan to compensate for the damage from the sanctions imposed on Russia if Astana breaks its friendship with Moscow. The only troublemakers were small protests in Alma-Ata by representatives of unregistered associations “Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan,” “Oyan, Qazagstan!” and the Western-funded “Democratic Party.” The protesters held placards saying “No election without choice.” On the one hand, the requirement is fair enough. In addition to Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, five other candidates ran, two of them women. All of them are almost unknown even within Kazakhstan and have no coherent program or even much desire to compete against the head of state. This was evident from their campaigning and the debates that took place a week before the election day. Clearly they were only chosen as sparring partners. So there is no one now to challenge Tokayev’s leadership. Heavyweights such as former Kazakhstan prime ministers Imangali Tasmagambetov, Askar Mamin and other politicians from First President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s team, withdrew. The opposition is fragmented and, even for the elections, was unable to agree and field a single candidate. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, as acting head of state, stood out against this background. After the January events, he has enjoyed a high approval rating, people have shown their trust in him and continue to do so. Plus, Tokayev used his best qualities as a professional diplomat he has organized an impressive international support campaign, perhaps unprecedented in Kazakhstan’s history. First and foremost are the visits of several heads of state, including Russia and China, and the summits CICA, CIS and Central Asia-Russia. This provided Tokayev with international legitimization for the forthcoming elections. For citizens, Tokayev offered a concrete program of action for the near future. Its main slogan is “A fair Kazakhstan for everyone.” “The idea of fairness will underpin every decision we make, every action we take. We start from the principle that our greatest asset and competitive advantage is our people. Therefore, we will firmly follow the formula: not man for the state, but the state for man,” Tokayev said, outlining the program. Tokayev also promised to create real political competition in Kazakhstan. “We are creating conditions for civilized discussion between the parties and public debate. All civil society institutions will play an important role in the new political system,” he said, also supporting the expansion of local executive powers. It should be recalled that the early elections were initiated by Tokayev himself. He first ran for president back in 2019 as Nazarbayev’s successor; this time, he went into the election as an independent, self-reliant politician who has been through a great school of political struggle, and as a result won convincingly by a huge margin. Thus, he confirmed his status as leader, secured the support of the citizens and put an end to the transit of power. Tokayev described the elections as historic, ushering in a new political era. He promised that all the main government institutions would be reformed in the future: “We will clearly and consistently implement constitutional reform. We are transitioning to a new form of political order for the country. Fundamental changes will take place in the economy. We will improve the welfare of citizens. We need unity to make all these goals a reality. That is why I call on all of you to be united!”. Tokayev expects new political parties to take part in next year’s parliamentary elections, which means new faces will show up in parliament, including “those representing opposition views.” Tokayev began to implement reforms more decisively after the events of January 5, 2022. At the time, there were mass protests across the country over rising gas prices. The protests later turned into riots, with protesters demanding the resignation of the government. 230 people were killed in street clashes with security forces, of whom 19 were military personnel. CSTO forces came to the rescue and secured the country’s strategic facilities. Following the suppression of the riots, which now appear to have been backed by Kazakhstan’s elites, Karim Masimov, the chairman of the National Security Committee, his two deputies and several hundred others were arrested as they rampaged through Alma-Ata and other cities in the country. Coincidentally or not, Karim Masimov’s closed trial began on the eve of the election. He is accused of treason. First President Nursultan Nazarbayev is careful to distance himself from his former ally. For instance, when asked by journalists after voting at his polling station in the Astana Opera Theater, Nazarbayev said he was curious about who could be behind Masimov. He compared him to Judas. “Masimov worked with me for many years, but how can you know? Did Jesus Christ know that Judas sitting next to him was a betrayer? We are not gods, so we will wait until the trial is over and we will all, I think, find out,” Nazarbayev said, causing some confusion among journalists: Jesus Christ actually knew about Judas’ betrayal. Incidentally, according to the Telegram channel Nursultansky Solovey, citing UlysMedia, Karim Masimov and members of his family had Hungarian citizenship. Moreover, Budapest made a request to Astana for Masimov’s extradition to Hungary. The former National Security Committee chief himself has allegedly been actively working for the US for the past 20 years. However, the US and the EU have long been active in Kazakhstan and Central Asia. But with the start of the special military operation in Ukraine, the region has come under increased scrutiny from the West. Several regional events took place in a short time: the C5+1 foreign ministers’ meeting in Washington (Central Asia USA), the Central Asia-Russia summit in Astana, the Central Asia-South Korea summit in Seoul and, finally, the Central Asia-EU summit and the visit to the region by Charles Michel and Josep Borrell and US Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu. They all suggest that countries in the region “benefit” from the sanctions regime imposed on Russia. Those countries that are reluctant to cooperate are pressured, under the threat of secondary sanctions, to abandon engagement with Russia. There are also carrots from the EU, which, according to Borrell, has invested 105 billion euros in the Central Asian states over the past ten years. The EU sees Central Asia as a near future partner in terms of the relocation of its industrial plants and logistics to Kazakhstan. Political scientist Yury Solozobov, director of regional programs at the Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies, said supply chains are being reshaped by the embargoes, sanctions and changes in global trends to shift the economy to Asia. The focus is not only on China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” program, but also on the “North-South” Trans-Caspian routes. This is one of the routes of the future to which the EU is paying attention. Kazakhstan has a chance to become one of the centers of Western production, targeting markets in Russia, the Eurasian Economic Union and Central Asia, among others. More than 300 companies are getting prepared for relocation. As Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said earlier, “50 of them have already received a new registration.” The EU is also discussing energy plans with the region. Europe, according to Borrell, is trying to find new supply options to avoid buying gas from Russia. “The EU intends to expand economic cooperation with the countries of Central Asia, including through the construction of new transport corridors bypassing Russia,” Borrell said during the visit to Astana. He clarified that the development of the Trans-Caspian transport route had been discussed in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan benefits from this and, as Tokayev noted, will continue to pursue a multi-vector policy. “I think that, given our geopolitical position, given the fact that we have over $500 billion involved in our economy and large multinational companies operating in the market, the country should conduct a multi-vector foreign policy and obey the UN Charter,” President of Kazakhstan believes. Astana, while developing relations with the West, remains a reliable rear for Russia. According to Solozobov, only two countries are showing impressive growth in Russian imports, including critical components, and those are Turkey and Kazakhstan. Viktoria Panfilova, journalist, exclusively for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook.

[Category: Central Asia, Columns, Featured, Locations, Society]

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[l] at 11/23/22 5:59am
The second round of peace talks between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) took place in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. The talks focused on “military details” to achieve a “lasting” end to violence in Africas second most populous country. Delegations from both sides included military leaders and political negotiators. The talks discussed how to monitor the agreement, which the two sides recently signed in South Africa. Details of the talks also covered how to provide humanitarian aid and basic services to the millions of Tigrays who are literally cornered in the rugged mountainous region in the north of the country. The Ethiopian government and the TPLF signed a Cessation of Hostilities Agreement in South Africa on November 2, brokered by former presidents of Nigeria and Kenya, Olusegun Obasanjo and Uhuru Kenyatta. The signed Agreement provides for the disarmament of the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front and the restoration of aid to Tigray, which has been experiencing a severe humanitarian crisis since the war began two years ago. The Agreement, which is supported by African countries, was welcomed by UN and some European countries. In theory, the agreement ends a two-year war between the Ethiopian government, backed by neighboring Eritrea, and national militias. According to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), who is from Ethiopias Tigray region, the war has led to “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today.” The war and the famine and disease it has caused have led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians. More than a million people have been displaced and unable to harvest their crops. In addition, thousands of women have been raped or killed, and their children have been denied the right to a normal education. Tigray suffers from severe food and medicine shortages, as well as limited access to basic services such as electricity, banking and communications. It should be noted that 70% of the countrys northern Tigray region is currently under military control. Although aid deliveries to the area have reportedly resumed, there is no confirmation yet from aid workers or Tigray officials. Ghebreyesus said the world has ignored the suffering of the six million Tigray who are under siege by the government of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. He suggested that racism was the reason the Tigray crisis had not received international attention and asked why it was not covered as extensively as the war in Ukraine US-NATO. According to him, the EU welcomed the Ukrainians with open arms, while the press showed little interest in the civil war in Ethiopia. “Maybe its because of the color of peoples skin,” he said. UN agencies and international aid organizations have warned of famine that could affect millions in Ethiopia, which is home to more than 110 million people. The peace agreement stipulates that Ethiopia will “accelerate” both the delivery of aid and supplies to the long-cut-off Tigray region, which is running out of food and essential medicines. After a lull in the fighting earlier this year, about 8,000 trucks of humanitarian aid were able to reach the region, according to the United Nations. Representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations humanitarian agency did not immediately confirm that trucks carrying humanitarian aid had arrived in the Shire. A spokesman for the humanitarian organization, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said his organization had not yet begun delivering aid because it was still checking the safety of roads and waiting for permits. Meanwhile, Ahmeds government has called the agreement an “achievement,” raising more questions than answers about its implementation. Observers see many loopholes in the agreement, which was signed in just nine days, and leaves many questions unanswered. It depends more on the “good will” of the government in Addis Ababa than on its opponent, the TPLF. The biggest gap, however, is the lack of mention of Eritrea, which is not a party to the agreement but is Ethiopias main partner in the war and is accused of committing war atrocities and crimes against humanity in Tigray. Observers assume that Eritreas absence from the agreement and its failure to declare that it must withdraw its troops from all Ethiopian soil will prevent it from complying with the terms of the agreement, which Ahmeds government must abide by. Eritrea, which sees the existence of a strong Tigray as a threat to the regime of its president, Isaiah Afwerka, called for a massive military mobilization in mid-September to provoke the Tigray and find a pretext for a new round of war. In most Western media reports, the mandatory military mobilization was seen as the goal of a protracted war against the Tigray, who had entrenched themselves in the mountainous regions. Moreover, the agreement makes no mention of the Amhara fighters who control the agriculturally rich western Tigray region. The Amhara, who make up 28% of the population, and the Tigray, 7%, refuse to negotiate among themselves. This military situation does not encourage the TPLF to give up their weapons and integrate into society. The populations loss of confidence in the TPLF could also complicate the situation in the region and form a tougher political bloc against Abiy Ahmeds government. In the meantime, the peace agreement appears to be a sign to the Abiy Ahmed government that toughness is the solution to the problem of rebellious Ethiopian nationalities. The siege of Tigray, the famine, and the killings that amounted to genocide led to the “subjugation” of the people of Tigray and the fulfillment of “100% of our demands,” Ahmed told a crowd of supporters two days after signing the agreement. It now appears that Ahmed will take a similarly tough stance on other Ethiopians, especially after the Oromo-majority Liberation Front, which makes up 34% of the population, announced the capture of towns in the westernmost part of the country. This has exacerbated already difficult security conditions in the country, which is home to representatives of 80 ethnic groups, most of whom have their own liberation fronts demanding separation from Addis Ababa and control of Amhara. Recently, a peace agreement was signed to silence the guns. But hopes that this will succeed are fading, given the numerous political and military loopholes in the agreement. For example, the disputed western region of Tigray, occupied by Ethiopian Amhara militias since the beginning of the war, is one of the problems plaguing the peace process, and the agreement barely addresses it. The TPLF, which dominated Ethiopian politics for nearly three decades until the election of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in 2018, has consistently refused to negotiate on the issue, a position supported by the Amhara, who also lay claim to the region. Even more troubling, the agreement has a “hole the size of Eritrea,” according to Ben Hunter, Africa analyst at news service provider Verisk Maplecroft. Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki “has not signed the agreement and is still pursuing expansionist ambitions,” Hunter told AFP. “He is likely to try to provoke the NFLF into violating the ceasefire,” Hunter added, pointing out that the two sides have been enemies for decades. The Eritrean presence in Tigray, whose troops have been accused of horrific atrocities against civilians, also casts doubt on whether the TPLF will disarm its fighters as it has promised. Tigray authorities “will not lay down their arms in exchange for vague promises,” said Benjamin Petrini, a research fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Washington, referring to the atmosphere of deep mistrust between the parties. “What security guarantees does the TPLF offer for disarmament?” he asked, stressing that the agreement contains “too many unknowns.” The biggest unanswered question concerns the future of the TPLF, a party whose influence on Ethiopian politics has been undeniable for years, but which now faces an uncertain future. Shortly after the peace agreement was announced, the head of the negotiating delegation from Tigray, Getachew Reda , acknowledged that his side “made concessions because we need to build trust” But his willingness to meet the governments demands may not sit well with Tigrays six million residents, who “paid a heavy price for two years” as the war dragged on. Viktor Mikhin, corresponding member of RANS, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”.

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

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[l] at 11/22/22 8:59pm
Scarcity and who is getting rich from it is the only geopolitical question that matters today. The proxy military actions in Ukraine are all over the news. Of course, it is. Death, destruction, and war machines have always been popular entertainment. The real war, the battle waged by the elites on us all, is the important story that’s never told. Here, fellow citizens of Earth, is the case for deciding to free ourselves for good. Who was it who said “we have nothing to fear?” Ah yes, it was FDR during the depression. “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear isfear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life, a leadership of frankness and of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. And I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.” Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1st inaugural address Now we are asked to be afraid of Vladimir Putin weaponizing gas! We must act in defense, to the Russian’s weaponizing food! And Vladimir Putin personally killed J.F.K. with a BB-Gun from the Texas book depository in Dallas. Did Russia’s leadership wake up one morning in 2014 and decide a NATO regime was needed in next-door Ukraine? Well, no. Were the Russians shelling people with Polish DNA in Kyiv for eight years? Certainly not. The EU, NATO, and the New York Times would have informed us of that. So why would Russia act the way she has recently? I see no one out there gazing with practical eyes on this situation. Oh, commodities and controlling them! Money! Tons and tons of money! That has to be it. Some weeks back, Vladimir Putin’s government decided to allow the free passage of grain ships through the Black Sea out of southwestern Ukraine. The “food” was ostensibly headed to the starving people of Africa and Asia that Washington, London, and Brussels were berserk over. Even the United Nations has taken the position that starving people around the world need to blame Russia. I was reading a Voice of America report on recent UN meetings about the Ukraine/Black Sea shipments, and it reads like intel for Wall Street commodities brokers. And there’s the point. Food security worldwide is now the red-hot poker western elites are jabbing Russia with now. Since Putin’s gas hike was not enough to stir Americans into a blood ritual for total war, now the liberal world order is throwing grocery prices into the mix. For those in the dark or dizzied by all these events, and I am often with you, the easy version is to simply call this World War III. Yes, we are already in it. For true clarity, think about the sequence of recent events, and their impact. Nord Stream was blown up. The next day a pipeline from Norway to Poland caring much more expensive natural gas went into operation. A few days after this the Poles demanded trillions in reparations from the Germans for WW2 grievances settled decades ago. The essentials that power economies and people are being weaponized, but the perpetrators hide in plain sight behind media they own. Retired U.S. Colonel Douglas MacGregor gives the best appraisal of the situation recently in a talk with Aaron Maté and Katie Halper. MacGregor, who has been dubbed “America’s Greatest Warfighter,” is a war hero and former strategy advisor during the Trump administration. He says, in no uncertain terms, that Washington and London leaders are on a mission to destroy Germany and the German-Russian cooperative potential. I believe he is right on all counts, but he leaves off how the western elites (banksters) are profiteering from it all. This is a multiple pronged strategy, not some haphazard knee jerking. In a piece I wrote for Zero Hedge recently. I framed how the Cargill family and others are breaking all company records since February, 2022. My thesis involved the potential for a partitioning of Ukraine coming up, and this may be wrong. The fact that the Cargill family of billionaires are already milking this Ukraine situation dry, is the point to take away. Cargill more or less owns the port outside Odessa, where these shipments to feed the world originated. Only get this, BBC reported that the first ships the Russians let through went to the EU and Turkey, not to Mogadishu or some place in Yemen awash with begging skeletons. Why would the United Nations, the White House, 10 Downing Street, and European Commission leadership cry “world hunger,” and then ship the millions of tons of grain and other foodstuffs to Europe? Well, I guess it should be noted that Chicago’s Archer Daniels Midland is into corn in Ukraine. Which, by the way, was the biggest agricultural commodity shipped in the initial ships from the UN-Turkey arrangement. Netherlands-based Bunge is also into ports, grains, seed oils in Ukraine. Oh, and the French multinational Louis Dreyfus Company (See massive revenue spike) is one of the largest exporters of Ukraine beet sugar. Maybe this is why we see Emmanuele Macron in Kyiv so often?   As for Cargill, they even got help from the Biden White House to get more baby formula out, if you remember. Guess which region plays a pivotal role in the production of baby food? Yes, there are those just evil enough to starve your baby to leverage you. And most of them are not Russian. No, the ruling elites in the west are the ones waging this profit war, not the ever-pesky Ruskies. Cargill, for those who do not know, makes most of its billions off of foodstuff ingredients, like wheat, soy, soybean oil, barley, and even lab created beef (it’s no joke). Pencil into your mind Bill Gates, vast stretches of U.S. farm land, and vaccines, fertilizers, fake meats, wind farms, basically the whole spectrum of far out societal concern, and things become clearer. Conspiracy theorists, in large part, were correct when warning us about Big Brother and the World Economic Forum working to enclave us. That’s the bigger story, but consider who is winning big off this war. “Follow the money,” is the best cliché ever coined if you want to find truth in today’s world. Gas prices, food prices, demand for nearly everything in hyper mode, the producers are making a killing. Ironically, Vladimir Putin’s people announced 500,000 tons of free grain to the poorest of the world, and rock bottom prices and delivery guarantees for all in need. Russia’s harvest this year is the biggest in decades, and much of it has been slated for those with the most need. The Russians, unlike the grain pirates who now hold the world hostage to their price hikes, have pledged to fulfill need. We needn’t go into the military industrial complex or the Great Game Britain and Russia are still playing out. Just know, I am not alone in pointing to the “killing” the super-rich are making right now. Don’t be fooled, not this time. It’s all about money. Boat load, truck trailers, car trunks, and plane cargo loads of filthy money. We are taking it from both ends people. You should be afraid, and not simply of fear. We should all be fearful of the great evil that stands behind these events. “Fear is pain arising from the anticipation of evil.” — Aristotle 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, Ukraine in the world]

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[l] at 11/22/22 6:59am
This author wrote in an earlier publication about the attempts to accuse the DPRK of supplying weapons to Russia, however, barely two months after the provocative New York Times article, the United States has revisited the issue, and at an even higher level. On November 2, 2022, the US National Security Council (NSC) for Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby stated that while North Korea had publicly denied its intention to supply ammunition to Russia in September 2022, information about it had reportedly been confirmed. US intelligence “indicates that the DPRK is secretly supplying Russia with a significant amount of artillery shells for the war in Ukraine, while concealing the true purpose of the arms shipments and attempting to make it seem as though they are being sent to the Middle East and North Africa”. The White House, however, provided no further “details” or confirmation. Kirby declined to comment on details such as the type and size of the projectiles North Korea allegedly delivered to Russia and their specific purpose. In addition, Kirby said, “we have had previous indications that the Russians made contact with North Korea… Our indications are that the DPRK is covertly supplying, and we are going to monitor to see whether the shipments are received,” adding that the US will discuss with its allies whether to refer this matter to the UN. Nonetheless, the press secretary added that Russia’s support from Iran and North Korea will not change the course of the war. However, Defense Department spokesman Brigadier General Patrick S. Ryder declined to comment when asked whether the supplies had arrived in Russia. US State Department spokesman Ned Price, in turn, said that Washington plans to impose additional sanctions on Pyongyang in this regard. In response, the deputy director of the DPRK Ministry of National Defense’s Foreign Military Relations Department issued a press statement on November 7, in which he pointed out that the United States, which constantly spreads the unfounded version of arms deals between our country and Russia, is still trying to impose them as faits accomplis.” Pyongyang assesses such scheming as one of the links in a hostile attempt to tarnish the DPRK’s image in the international arena, stating once again that we have never made arms deals with Russia and do not plan to make such deals in the future,” and that America should refrain from unreasonable quibbles. On November 9, 2022, the official representative of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Maria Zakharova expressed herself similarly, “As usual, no clear evidence for these statements was provided. And it cannot be, because everything that the American representatives say is another lie from beginning to end, another example of the falsifications and speculations that the West spreads about Russia. They wanted to impose new sanctions – they found a reason”. Interestingly, even such a notorious US propaganda publication as the Free Asia radio station, citing information from the Russian Embassy in Pyongyang, noted that Washington’s claims that North Korea was secretly supplying missiles and shells to Russia “do not correspond to reality from beginning to end.” Russian Ambassador to North Korea Alexander Matsegora stated in a recent interview with Russian media, “Moscow has not received and does not plan to receive any weapons or ammunition from North Korea, either directly or through intermediaries.” On the other hand, the reaction of US experts on the DPRK, especially the well-known hawk Victor Cha, was quite telling. Although his interview was viewed as “critical questions”, there was no criticism or analysis of Kirby’s contributions. The United States has intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities to track North Korean vessels, which means it has tracked everything and authorized the release of information to explain North Korea’s bad behavior to the international community in a situation where the Biden administration wants to avoid a potential conflict with North Korea as it focuses on strategic challenges from China. Cha admits that “millions” may be an overestimate, but North Korea’s arms proliferation is nothing new. According to his “conclusion,” they allegedly sold almost every weapon system that they had ever developed. And in the case of Russia, the DPRK can also use arms deliveries as a means to write off accumulated debts. Therefore, pro-US experts see no contradictions in Kirby’s statements.  Unlike this author. After all, if you remove the veil of big words, then US intelligence ASSUMES that a) the DPRK is supplying something somewhere, b) in fact, these are supplies to Russia. But there is no direct evidence for this thesis. Why is that? In the author’s opinion, when in a difficult political situation some side has non-contrived evidence of the enemy’s guilt, it can safely post them in the public domain. Yes, their opponent can declare them fake, but those in the know will know. Here we are not even seeing the notorious “highly likely,” but the classic “we have secret evidence, but we won’t show it to everyone – you just need to believe in it.” The reasoning behind “secret evidence” has three possible explanations. There is no evidence at all, and we are dealing with a fake. There is information that is considered evidence by the intelligence agencies, but it comes from such strange or invalid sources that its publication risks being ridiculed. However, if the authorities believe in the usual worldview, then any information that confirms that worldview will be considered valid regardless of the source. There is evidence, but it is impossible to say how it was obtained, as it would reveal some important sources or technical possibilities. However, in such cases they generally prefer to hide the fact that “they know.” In favor of the first explanation (fake) is the attempt to answer the hypothetical question, “If we imagine that the DPRK is really supplying arms to Russia in the quantities indicated, then HOW is it doing so under the current state of sanctions and its own quarantine measures?”. There is no air traffic between the two countries, the railroad just reopened after a two-year interruption, and note that satellites show how and where the train is going. North Korean-flagged ships are also monitored: after all, resolutions prohibit the export of weapons, whether they stay where they were delivered or go to Russia. Previous US allegations of sanctions violations typically included information about which ship was loading where. Thus, if a ship had arrived in the Middle East, the United States would have had no trouble identifying it, let alone the appearance of ships from the DPRK in the Russian Far East. Therefore, the author feels Kirby’s statements are another propaganda ploy or a manifestation of what the author calls cartoon or comic book reality a complete disregard for technicalities in favor of politics. If before the news of the class “North Korea poisoned Kim Jong Nam with weapons of mass destruction” or “North Korea supplied Russia with hundreds of thousands of shells and missiles” should have at least answered the question, “How exactly was this done?”, now that question is not being asked. Instead of going into detail and analyzing how technically possible certain actions are the analysis is replaced by ideas about how much “we” think “they” are capable of this. And if they are capable, they have done it, but it does not matter how. In comic books, no one questions where the main villain got the underground citadel in the center of the city that he built and operates unbeknownst to anyone, including housing and municipal services. But if we apply the comic book logic, the explanation is obvious! As Russian military expert Vladimir Khrustalev said jokingly, if you accept that Kirby was not lying, it means only one thing: North Korean physicists have developed a teleportation machine and are delivering shells from the DPRK to the Russian Federation through a hole in space! Fortunately, the ability to “shorten distances” (chukchippŏp) emerges in the North Korean narrative as something attributed to Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong-un, and the English translation of the song dedicated to it (The General Uses Warp) points the initiated directly to the source of the magical power. However, this also means an even more unfavorable situation for the United States: a country that masters such technology becomes a very unpleasant opponent, because with the help of a teleporter it is theoretically possible to bring a nuclear warhead to New York by opening a portal there. Therefore, the authors should return from the world of comic books to the real world and think about this: The unfounded accusations of the Russian Federation and the DPRK, and in the future China, are aimed at their sanctioned isolation. But the more actively the United States and its satellites produce rogue states against the backdrop of a collapsing world order, the more likely it is that those rogue states will begin to trade with each other, ignoring Old World sanctions restrictions. Does Washington really want such a “self-fulfilling prophecy” to come true?  Konstantin Asmolov, PhD in History, leading research fellow at the Center for Korean Studies of the Institute of China and Modern Asia of the Russian Academy of Sciences, exclusively for the online journal “New Eastern Outlook”.

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

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[l] at 11/22/22 2:59am
Whereas China and Russia do already have an agenda of a new, multipolar world order, they are far from the only players. While undoubtedly the most important ones, both are not only allied with each other, they are forming alliances with countries that were previously squarely placed in the US camp. Among the countries willing to turn their normal trade ties with China into a strategic alliance is Saudi Arabia, a country pushed to change its ties with the US not only because of the rupture between the Biden administration and Saudi’s crown prince Muhammad bin Salman (MBS), but also because it sees value in a multipolar world where it can project itself as a global player. If Saudi wishes to ‘change’ and become a regional and global powerhouse, it is possible only when it can exercise a high degree of strategic autonomy. Exercising that is nearly impossible as long as Riyadh is tied to Washington. Exercising that requires cutting the umbilical cord and coming into a position where it makes its strategic choices without toing the US line. As irony would have it, the tool that Riyadh needed to cut the cord were provided by the US itself, as the Biden administration sought to make Saudi a “pariah” state and name MBS as the main culprit in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Ever since then, Riyadh has been taking steps that show, without much ambiguity, it is drifting away from Washington and forming new alliances, including with Washington’s most important strategic rivals, Russia and China. The Russia-Ukraine military conflict and the subsequent US failure to convince, or pressurize, Riyadh into increasing oil production show that the cord has already been cut. Now, by deepening its ties with China, Riyadh is demonstrating how it intends to further the agenda of a multipolar world in which the US does not have the capacity to ‘manage’ the world unilaterally. This concerted Saudi push to change the world is evident from Xi’s upcoming visit to Saudia, which, even according to The Wall Street Journal, will “advance a vision of a multipolar world where the US no longer dominates the global order.”  There is, in other words, a creeping sense prevailing in Washington that reads Riyadh’s moves – especially, its decision to cut oil production without showing any meaningful regard for Washington – as part of its policies to hurt Washington’s interests and/or cut it down to size. Hence, Biden’s announcement of his intentions to ‘take action’ against the Saudis. But Saudi, as it stands, is undeterred by the threat, evident from its willingness to host Xi and offer the same kind of reception, according to the said report, that Riyad offered to Trump on his first ever visit to Saudi as the US president in 2017. Nothing perhaps better illustrates this on-going, contentious transition away from the US and towards China than the expectation in the US that China is going to be treated in Riyadh on par with the US. In fact, given the state of US-Saudi ties, the treatment expected to be accorded to the Chinese fairly surpasses the reception given to Biden when he visited Riyadh recently and failed to convince MBS to break the OPEC+ agreement. Biden’s drastic failure and China’s success in winning over the Saudis for a future “oil alliance” shows a tectonic shift of a global powerhouse of oil away from its erstwhile ally. As it stands, cooperation in the energy sector is at the center of China-Saudi alliance. When Saudi’s energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman and the director of Chinas National Energy Administration Zhang Jianhua met in the third week of October, all they discussed was “stable long-term supplies to crude oil markets”, with OPEC+ being the source of stability. The fact that the emphasis is on supply of oil to the global market rather than just to China shows how both countries are expanding the horizon of their long-term strategic ties, especially in a context of global shift from a unilateral world order to a multipolar world order. For China, stable supply of oil as well as stable oil prices are important not only for its own economy but also to the rest of world insofar as dramatic shifts in oil prices tend to destabilize the economy. This holds for China as much as for Saudi itself. This is exactly what Xi told MBS in his phone call early in the year. To quote Xi, China-Saudi ties have become all the more important in the wake of “the change in the international and regional situations.” The question that many in the US seem to be considering is whether the US can reverse this process, especially China’s growing gains in Saudi? Some US analysts seem to believe that since the Saudis rely heavily on the US military equipment, Washington can pull the strings. But this analysis is misplaced for many reasons. Most important of all is the assumption that Riyadh cannot just diversify its reliance on US military equipment. If Riyadh is deepening its ties with China and turning those into a ‘strategic alliance’, it can very well purchase defense equipment from Beijing as well. With Riyadh progressively cooperating with Moscow and willing to play its part in changing the unipolar world order, it can also purchase state-of-the-art military equipment from Russia as well. Plus, it is now well known that the US air-defense systems installed in Saudi failed to prevent incoming Houthi drone and missile attacks, prompting Riyadh to look for alternatives. Even if Saudi does not automatically switch to China and Russia for military hardware, supplying military hardware to Saudi is perhaps the only thread connecting both countries. Were the US to cut it, it will only accelerate its own extrication from the Middle East. The Biden administration’s decision not to sell the F-35 jet to the UAE led the latter to make a deal with France for Rafael. The Saudis only have better options and would be willing to take those. Salman Rafi Sheikh, research-analyst of International Relations and Pakistan’s foreign and domestic affairs, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

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

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[l] at 11/21/22 9:59pm
The second Japan-Germany 2+2 meeting (i.e. involving foreign and defense ministers) on November 3 is one of those events in the current phase of the “Great Game” that requires special attention and comment. The very phrase “Japan-Germany relations” inadvertently evokes suspicious associations with one of the greatest catastrophes in human history called “World War II”. The consequence of such associations is the frequent speculation by history buffs that the current political situation is “no small resemblance to the pre-World War II state of affairs”. At the same time, the “what was” mentioned is most often presented in a very simplified way. With regard to the latter, it should be recalled that since Japan had broken out of self-isolation at the turn of the 1860s and 1870s, the period of alliance between Tokyo and Berlin was short-lived and turned out to be the result of rather fortuitous circumstances. From that “turning point” until the second half of the 1930s Germany had invariably supported China in its strained relations with Japan. It will certainly surprise many that support for China (with inevitably anti-Japanese overtones) became particularly widespread and comprehensive with the rise to power in Germany of the NSDAP, led by Chancellor (and soon Führer) A. Hitler. The involvement of German military specialists (e.g., Hans von Seeckt) was very important in the process of giving the Chinese armed forces led by Chiang Kai-shek a modern face at that time.  The so-called “Anti-Comintern Pact” with Japan, which was concluded in November 1936, constituted a critical point in German policy in the East Asian region. However, three years later the so-called Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact dealt a crushing blow to its effectiveness. This was a significant precondition for the eventual collapse of both “Anti-Cominterns”. It should also be recalled that up to the mid-1930s, it was not “some” Germany and Japan that were seen as the main source of threat to the “post-Versailles” peace, but the prospect of war between Britain and the USA, the major world powers at the time. This, incidentally, must also be taken into account in the current not infrequent talk about “the Anglo-Saxons being to blame”, and about “maritime powers constantly fighting the Eurasian Heartland.” Nevertheless, the above period in the history of Japan’s relations with Germany took place, and the associations it provokes are present. Therefore, once again, the nature of the current state as well as the prospects for the future development of Japan-Germany relations need to be discussed at least briefly. It should again be noted that the very fact that there is a “2+2 format” in relations between a couple of countries most often (but not always, as in the Japan-Russia pair) indicates a high level of trust between them. In the Japan-Germany pair, the first Japan-Germany 2+2 meeting was held by videoconference in April 2021. The brief press release issued at the time by the Japanese Foreign Ministry at the end of the hour and a half-long talks was in very general terms, with well-established passages on both bilateral relations and the situation in the Indo-Pacific. In view of the above, it was puzzling to find a reference to “160 years of Japanese-German friendship” in the above-mentioned document. It is worth mentioning the démarche carried out in 1895 by Germany, Russia and France at the same time, which forced Japan to withdraw its troops from the Chinese Liaodong Peninsula. They were there in accordance with the Treaty of Shimonoseki, which had just been signed at the end of the First Sino-Japanese War. Japan and Germany also found themselves on opposite sides of the front line during World War I. Today the Japanese-German security cooperation outlined in the press release is at a level that looks rather modest compared to what has already been achieved in Tokyo’s relations with London, for example (not to mention the other “Anglo-Saxons” living in Australia and the US). It is in relation to the United Kingdom that the aforementioned reference to “160 years of friendship” should be applied. Excluding, of course, the same period of major international misunderstandings which began in the summer of 1937 with the Marco Polo Bridge Incident near Beijing and ended in May 1945 in Berlin and three months later in the Tokyo Bay. By the time of the first Japan-Germany 2+2 meeting in the spring of 2021, there had already been four such Japan-Britain events and even on the surface (but most importantly, with the substance) the resulting joint documents look much more impressive. In the summer of this year, it was reported that “core” companies in Japan and the UK had decided to combine research work on the design of propulsion systems for 6th generation fighters. Nothing similar has yet been observed in Japan-Germany relations. The second 2+2 meeting only half-implemented the decision of the first one to hold such events “face-to-face” in the future. While the foreign ministers (Yo. Hayashi and A. Baerbock) did have a similar conversation in Germany’s Münster, the defense ministers (Ya. Hamada and C. Lambrecht) again communicated remotely. But the former also held bilateral talks, generally speaking, “on occasion”, which appeared to be a “calendar” event of the G7 ministerial level, of which both Japan and Germany are members. It has been pre-scheduled to take place in Münster. On the sidelines of this event, the second Japan-Germany 2+2 meeting took place. The Japanese Ministry of Defense’s statement of its contents was limited to a single paragraph. The Japanese Foreign Ministry’s statements were almost identical to those of the year before. The document again concluded by expressing the intention of the sides to continue meeting “in the near future” in the “2+2 format”. Finally, the key question (given recent tragic history) is what does it all mean? The author has no definite answer. And mainly because it is apparently absent at all in the current highly dynamic global political nature. In these circumstances, it is unrewarding to make predictions. But it is also difficult to refrain from speculating on such a topic from the most general perspective. The basis for these “positions” can be formed by attempts (mentioned above with unkind words) to draw historical analogies, tracing the movement of stars, “modern reading” of ancient writings and simply by some “insights”. The latter do not come to the author in any way, and of the rest only the former deserves attention. So far nothing resembles the Anti-Comintern Pact in Japan-Germany relations. Although the routine anti-Russian diatribes are present in the public rhetoric of both sides. After all, the “collective West” is still showing signs of life, which means that its key participants have to say a common password (“we are of the same blood”) on various occasions. At the same time, critical infrastructure of one member of the “collective West” is already being undermined by another. By the way, speaking of the ridiculous “democracies that don’t go to war with each other” meme. As for both mentioned members, the former has for at least two decades been pursuing a policy (again, dating back to the end of the 19th century) of building relations with China. The recent visit to Beijing by acting German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, which surprised many, in fact continues this course of a century and a half. And, of course, this development runs counter to the attempts of the current leader of the “collective West”, if not to block the expansion of China’s influence on the international stage, then at least to completely monopolize the process of building relations with it on behalf of the former. The one suspected of undermining them has also embarked on the “traditional” route of expanding its presence in East Asia, but by developing relations with another major player in the region, namely Japan. All of these beginnings of turbulence in the “collective West” itself are overlaid with signs of turmoil in its leader’s territory, the conflict provoked in Ukraine and the recent panic and fighting words by some European politicians of the highest rank. In general, there is reason to draw some alarming analogies. If one wishes, one can find something similar to the periods leading up to both World Wars I and II. In the face of continuing geopolitical uncertainty, the leaders in both Germany and Japan have apparently decided not to rush into defining the future of their own bilateral relations and reflect on what is happening in the world at large for the time being. Isn’t this what the “sluggishness” of the Japanese-German “2+2 format” has to do with it? However, all leading participants in the present stage of the “Great Game” need to act decisively and not only reflect on it, in order to prevent another actualization of either of the two (implemented in the last century, equally catastrophic) “scenarios” for the resolution of the growing turbulence. And they need to do it right now. Vladimir Terekhov, expert on the issues of the Asia-Pacific region, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

[Category: Columns, Featured, Locations, Politics]

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[l] at 11/21/22 7:59am
The death of Queen Elizabeth II, the United Kingdom’s longest reigning monarch, and the inevitable accession of King Charles III have raised the usual debates about the future of the British monarchy As it is the job of the monarch to embody in their person the principles and values of their country, and few people living remember a time before Elizabeth II, there are obvious concerns about whether the monarchy will remain relevant with a new person in the job, even though that person is already very familiar . However any such speculations remain what they have always been: arrant nonsense. The monarchy is not a political issue in the UK. No party has a particular position on the institution, for or against, because its role is not seriously questioned, and there is no widespread movement for abolition, however republican in sympathy, or disapproving of individual royals, some individuals are. British people may pore over the Royal Family in the gossip columns and be outraged by their marital problems and other indiscretion, which in most cases nobody would even notice or care about if they, happened in any other family. But they don’t blame the royals for their problems – either their politicians, or those of the EU of foreign countries are held responsible, whilst the royals are their friends, protecting them from politicians, however out of touch the monarchy may be perceived to be. So no matter how much outcry is raised over the expense of state funerals and coronations, Brits will put up with the monarchy. They are also very likely to put up with Charles, having been brought up with him as much as with his mother. Charles has previously expressed dislike of the public duties he has been performing since a young age, even though there has not been any issue over how he has performed them. Nevertheless, he has finally got the chance to do the job he has been trained for all his life, at the age of 73, and has not run away from it even though he knows that he will have to step away, to some extent, from much of his previous work as Price of Wales. This is the salient fact about King Charles III. He has done his duty because it is his duty, not because he particularly wants to. However he has also spent his life hoarding up excuses to get out, whether by accident or design. Charles knows that if he wanted to leave, no one could actually stop him. He has crafted all his own exit doors. As he has accepted the job, this will not affect him doing his duty. But what it will affect is what his duty will ultimately be seen as, however he fulfils it or wishes to present it. Just Doin’ My Job Elizabeth II did her job very well, whether or not people agreed it should exist. The outcome of that has been that people have lost sight of what that job actually is. As a constitutional monarch, the incumbent does not make policies or actively lead a government. If they tried, the government has the levers to abolish them. But they represent what their country is about – the “British way of doing things”. Therefore the monarch is able to exert all kinds of subtle influence. The UK doesn’t do revolutions or civil conflict, so if government policy is likely to cause it, the monarch advises on alternative ways to pursue that policy. The country also thinks of itself as democratic, fair and decent, based on Christian teaching, so the monarch attempts to promote these virtues by how they conduct themselves, hence the public outrage every time they go wrong. A well-known example of this was when Saudi Arabian Crown Prince, later King, Abdullah was on an official visit to the UK in 2003. Queen Elizabeth offered him a tour of the grounds of Balmoral Castle, ordered a car for her guests and jumped in and drove them round herself. The Queen was well over 70 by this time, and women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. So obviously Abdullah was rather nervous. However Elizabeth had been a military mechanic in World War Two and was also an advanced level driver, so she led them round this wild estate expertly, without commenting on this situation. In the UK women are allowed to drive, are more equal in law than Saudi women are, and elders should be treated with respect, whatever the reality. Without fanfare, she demonstrated what her country was about, and challenged the Crown Prince to complain, and justify his own position. The monarchy is the prime example of a principle everyone recognises and utilises in everyday life. If a kid gets into trouble, he sends his parents to deal with it because the parents generate more respect, and are thus more likely to be listened to. People write to their MP over issues which concern them, even though that MP has less power to change things than their local councillor, in the hope that the MP’s name and job title will influence things in the way they want because they represent something higher, which the person causing their problem should aspire to. King Charles knows this better than anyone. Unlike a president, who is often just getting the hang of the job by the time they are turfed out of it, he has been learning it all his life. He knows what to do and how to do it, and will have identified areas where he can move in different directions to improve the institution without devaluing its positive features. But first the new king has to reinvent himself, after a lifetime in the pubic eye as Prince Charles, the often unfortunate but hard working and opinionated prince. In that role he developed a personal brand which can be set against what William will now do in the job – people will decide whether William’s performance is better or worse in distinct areas Charles has made his own. The problem is that much of that brand was bound up with being the prince, not the king. He could act as he did, expressing personal opinions on subjects like architecture and conservation and trying to put them into practice through his patronage, because other aspects of the job were being dealt with by mummy. Now he has to do those parts himself, become more generalist and less partial. Does King Charles have the scope to put a personal stamp on the monarchy, when it involves giving up the stamp he put on his previous job? If not, this is where his get outs come in. The How Not The Why    Most long standing countries no longer have monarchies. The reasons are many and varied, but in many cases it is because the monarch represented something which was no longer relevant to the lives of the population. Sometimes monarchies are associated with a lost war, and the institution itself must pay the price to restore the pride of a defeated nation. In others they lead a ruling class which has let the people down, and a change of system is seen as the way of redressing grievances. The last king of Portugal, known as Manuel the Unfortunate, was told on his unexpected accession in 1908, following the assassination of his father the king and his elder brother the heir-apparent, that “Your Highness arrives too young into a very old world”. Admittedly he was told this by one of the small Republican Party, but it was a time in which Portugal had declined from a superpower to a rump state, had been declared bankrupt and had continued in the same way it had in its medieval glory days, with aristocrats vying for power and the population leaving if they could for better lives. Manuel was always personally popular, the Republican Revolution of 1910 was never embraced with enthusiasm and removing the monarchy did not resolve any of Portugal’s problems. But when that revolution was overthrown by another in 1926, the new and more popular rulers, with all their emphasis on the nation’s traditional values which the republicans had tried to destroy, did not attempt to restore the exiled king. Poor Manuel, though he might have gained more public favour than any political leader of his time, represented a world which no longer existed. The public wanted the good parts of that world but not its personnel, as the had let the country down before by just going through the motions of the job without promoting what Portugal was, merely what the ruling class were. King Charles III will be not be what his mother was, but what will he be? The British monarchy has been represented by Elizabeth II for so long that anyone doing the things she used to do will be seen as an actor, pretending to do the job his mother did throughout most living memories. King Charles won’t create something new and substantial by being what Price Charles was. Unless we rapidly get used to the idea that “the king” means him, he is in danger of losing his way, not through any lack of competence or popularity but because the job will no longer seem relevant if it is all about the formalities, with no apparent higher purpose. Will Charles have the authority to advise his Prime Ministers, let alone stand up to them when the public rejects their policies? Will he be able to rise above the issues he has long championed, while the public still knows him for his opinions? If King Charles doesn’t find a way to be both himself and king, he has a son in his forties waiting to take over, who is more of a clean slate. King Charles will not walk away from his duty, or he would have done so by now, but he may eventually feel that, having done the right thing, he may do more for the monarchy by handing those duties to another. The ways out he has given himself do not need to be there; je could have resolved these issues long ago, had he wanted. The King’s personal hedge fund is there to threaten the nation with if things don’t go his own way, because he knows he would win any such battle, without compromising the monarchy or the integrity of himself or those who would support him. Any Strikes and I’m Out King Charles is head of the Church of England, another institution British people of all faiths and none put up with because it is there, without generally feeling it is relevant. It may seem blasphemous to outsiders that the Church of England is run by a secular monarch instead of a religious leader, but it is the way it is done, and that’s what both the monarchy and a state church are about. Charles is also famously divorced and remarried. According to some Anglicans, but by no means all, this should disqualify him from church membership. It’s his church because he is the king, but if he wants out of being king, the incompatibility of these two roles, and desire to preserve both, can give him the leverage he needs. The other big question is Orthodoxy. It is known that his father Prince Philip of Greece was obliged to be Anglican in public, but remained Orthodox in private, as his funeral and many donations to Orthodox causes demonstrated. Charles is also said to be “sincerely interested” in Orthodoxy. So much so that various authors have to point out that it is impossible for him to convert whilst in the Royal Family, as if this is something he has considered, or can be presumed to have done. As with the marriage issue, Charles could have resolved this by cutting any public ties with Orthodoxy, such as his announced visits to monasteries, and treating it as a personal thing. He has not done so to give him a way out, if it can be said to get in the way of him doing his duty. The late King Baodouin of Belgium gained a lot of international and domestic respect when he abdicated his throne for a day in 1990 so he would not have to sign a bill about abortion into law. His conscience did not allow him, as an observant Roman Catholic, to assent to that act, even though his parliament, elected by his people, has stated that this law should exist. King Charles knows that if he handed over the throne for reasons of personal conscience, after a lifetime of expressing opinions on different subjects, he would gain enough public support to make this work. It would gain both him and the monarchy itself further respect, and leave others looking like the bad guys. Then there is his government. Being king, he will remind his ministers that there are standards of decency and probity in public life, and that the conduct of government, and the policies it adopts, must reflect this. The government King Charles has inherited wilfully breaks laws and acts against the public interest,  and wears this as a badge of pride. You can’t do that and be a British government. If Charles doesn’t have the guts to sack them, he can try and preserve the monarchy without stain by refusing to work with them, as soon as he feels the public will support him on this. Maybe they won’t today, but if he can make his mark swiftly he will again win any such argument. Don’t bet against him trying it, and leaving the throne to William if he doesn’t get that disgusting and incompetent heap of moral turpitude to behave.  Seth Ferris, investigative journalist and political scientist, expert on Middle Eastern affairs, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

[Category: Columns, Featured, Locations, Politics, United Kingdom]

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[l] at 11/21/22 1:59am
It is said not in vain that one man’s problem is another man’s opportunity. And the military actions in Ukraine against Russia, unleashed by the US and NATO, has clearly demonstrated this. Every day there is more and more evidence to show what huge dividends the US tycoons are reaping from the policies that the current President Joe Biden is pursuing for their benefit alone. Suffice it to say that Washington has already made tens of billions of dollars from the military actions it has unleashed in Ukraine. Not to mention the distraction from US domestic issues in financial, economic and politico-racial fields, that the White House is using against this backdrop. The US instigated this armed conflict, a conclusion that most political analysts are now coming to. Its aim is to force Europe to submit to US sanctions against Russia and stop buying cheap Russian natural gas. Washington can now sell huge quantities of liquefied gas to Europe at its own prices, and there is no price cap on US hydrocarbons, unlike Russian hydrocarbons, and it is unlikely there will be one. Europe’s economy has suffered a blow, and vast wealth has migrated from Europe to the US, allowing US leaders to maintain their dominant position in the EU. Ensuring control over Europe is a major strategic imperative for the US. Since the EU has a population of 450 million, while the US population is only 330 million, and their economies are comparable in size, the EU is theoretically in a position to break free from the US and assert itself as an equal or greater superpower on the world stage. A truly independent Europe would prefer to make mutually beneficial trade deals with Russia, China and the rest of Eurasia, pushing back the US and ending US imperial domination of the planet. It is only natural that the US does not want this to happen. By implementing its divide-and-conquer strategy, Washington is preventing Europe from achieving the cohesion and economic strength that would enable it to free itself from the US occupation that has persisted since after the World War II. Inflation in Germany reached double digits in October for the first time since 1990. Italy is also experiencing the highest inflation in 40 years. The rest of the Eurozone is also suffering. The source of the European crisis is the rise in energy prices caused by US sanctions against Russia. Businesses that produce goods and services have to pay more for energy, and they pass the costs on to consumers. Now most of the extra money paid for what has become ultra-expensive energy goes straight into US coffers. This is the main reason why the euro is falling against the dollar. Furthermore, the dollar has historically been strong in times of panic or uncertainty, and the US has a habit of deliberately provoking panic and uncertainty by organizing wars and crises, of which there have been many examples. The EU is not an ally of the US, but a coalition of vassal states that have been under US military and economic occupation since the end of World War II. The US committed a holocaust against Germany during and immediately after that war, bombing entire cities where only civilians lived, starving millions of German prisoners of war and civilians during the first few years of the occupation.  The mainstream media and academia, owned by the Americans and their satellites, fabricated a story of a mythical World War II victor that essentially turned reality upside down and portrayed the US as a generous rebuilder of Germany through the Marshall Plan. But the reality is that the Marshall Plan was only implemented after the Morgenthau Plan to kill millions of Germans had done its bloody work. The US is far from being a generous ally. Instead, it has always been and remains a selfish occupier of Europe. The current US-induced destruction of Europe, based on depriving EU countries of cheap energy in order to damage them economically and subjugate them politically, could be called the new Morgenthau Plan. Nevertheless, the United States may have to provide aid packages or loans to help the EU escape hunger and frost this winter. If this happens, the motives will not be altruistic. Instead, Washington will seek to prevent Europeans from overthrowing the US occupation and exercising control over their own destiny. Before the hostilities unleashed by the US in Ukraine, Russia provided the lion’s share of Europe’s cheap energy imports. However, by artificially supporting the armed conflict, which is now in its ninth month, Washington has broken this partnership, and gas is no longer flowing through Nord Stream.  Businesses across Europe are not just limiting their energy consumption. They are shrinking or moving to other continents. Europe, according to economists, may well be on the way to de-industrialization. Eurozone industrial activity fell to its lowest since May 2020. The October PMI from S&P Global signaled a looming recession, falling in November and becoming the fourth monthly reading below 50, indicating an economic slowdown.  In its latest analysis of the energy crisis in Europe, published on November 3, the IEA said the EU could face a shortfall of up to 30 billion cubic meters of natural gas during the summer of next year to replenish its gas storage capacity. In a report entitled “Never Too Early to Prepare for Next Winter: Europe’s Gas Balance for 2023-2024” the IEA warns that the safety cushion provided by current storage levels, as well as recent lower gas prices and unusually mild temperatures, should not lead to unduly optimistic conclusions about the future.  A look at the IEA report shows that the European Union will face a major challenge in meeting its energy needs in the coming years. Given the high costs of transporting gas over long distances, Russia could still make a significant contribution to solving this problem.  With the world’s largest oil and gas reserves, Russia could provide Europe with the energy it desperately needs if it were not for persistent US sanctions.  Unlike oil, natural gas is difficult to transport in large volumes and is therefore exported either by pipeline or by conversion into liquefied natural gas (LNG), but this is expensive and requires large investments. Russia does not currently have the infrastructure to export large volumes of LNG to Europe.  Given current experience and looking to the future, European governments should clearly see the huge negative impact that sanctions against Russia have had and will have on global energy security. More should therefore be done to help curb US self-serving agendas and negotiate a multipolar world. By constantly unleashing wars, the United States always reaps huge profits and the military-industrial complex comes first, as one would expect. It is not surprising that the US military budget is equal to that of the rest of the world combined. And this is further clear evidence that Washington does not want to live in a world where all contentious issues are resolved at the negotiating table, but aims only at military actions. But lately, all of a sudden, the energy complex, whose owners are making exorbitant profits from oil and gas supplies, mostly to Europe, has become the most profitable sector in the United States. It is only natural that many people became interested and it was primarily the military who were concerned and who simply “pressed” Joe Biden. And now the US President has suddenly become “interested” in these huge sums and has decided to “clip the wings” of the oil and gas industry by imposing an additional tax on the profits of the owners of the energy complex. The simple conclusion from this is that unleashing Ukraine on Russia will continue at an accelerated pace, and Europe will be completely deprived of Russian gas. Even the gas coming through NATO member, Turkey. By starting any military conflict, the US is not aiming to win. Above all, it is to destabilize the region so that it cannot be a US competitor for decades to come. Today, a large proportion of the world’s elite keep their reserves in the EU. Naturally, the US will not completely destroy it. But if US companies gain a foothold and dominate the European market, it will force Europe to become even more involved in the Ukrainian conflict, to abandon Russian oil and gas completely, and it will be a huge prize for Washington to implement a policy of solving all issues only through war. Viktor Mikhin, corresponding member of RANS, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

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

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[l] at 11/20/22 10:17pm
“The European Union is paying the price for the war in Ukraine, how long will it hold out?” “Who benefits in Ukraine?” These and similar headlines in the Middle East media reflect the regional response to European policy in Ukraine following the launch of Russia’s special operation against Kiev’s neo-Nazi regime. The authors reflect on the political, economic and other consequences and challenges of this course. Many share the thesis that the United States has used the conflict to strengthen its global position, its presence on the European continent, to exsanguinate Russia and to increase its gas exports to replace those of Russia. It has imposed a torrent of sanctions against Moscow with EU involvement, dragging the EU into a dangerous crisis that has exposed the poor political management of the leaders of the Old World. Unfortunately, the influential Middle-east online portal stresses, the European political conscience has not woken up to the shock of an absurd war that has damaged the economy of this vital and creative part of the globe. Ignoring Russia as an equal partner prevents the Europeans from seeing the situation for what it is and plays into Washington’s interests. These leaders have decided to buy much more expensive gas from the US, contributing to hyperinflation. The International Energy Agency has warned that Europe could face a gas shortage of 30 bcm next summer. Therefore, immediate action should be taken before the winter of 2023-2024. This is only possible if Europe resumes relations with Russia.   The armed conflict in Ukraine is to the US advantage. But Europeans do things differently, hence they have to bear the consequences. Another topic of response in the Middle East media space is the supply of arms to Ukraine. According to experts, the biggest beneficiary is also the US with its military industry. It reaps benefits, especially for the military and industrial complex. Ukraine is a testing ground for military equipment, getting rid of obsolete types and developing new ones. As for Washington’s partners and allies, it is they who pay its military bills. The decision by a number of European countries to deploy combat training for Ukrainian soldiers on their soil, takes them even further into the maze of conflict, and risks increasing alienation between Europe and Russia. These supplies, the Algerian newspaper summarizes, come against the background of the Kiev regime preaching national purity in violation of all international conventions, conducting ethnic cleansing in Donbas. At the same time, corrupt circles have opened the door to reselling the weapons received to other parts of the world, including the Caucasus, the Middle East and the African Sahel. An Arab blogger on his account points out that the Yankees are acting hastily, supplying arms and receiving money for them, fearing that Western governments and allies might grow cold in the matter, and that the people involved might get tired of enduring and incurring heavy costs. The damage the conflict in Ukraine is inflicting on people in the West is not just limited to rising costs of living and energy. There are signs of rifts among Kiev’s allies, growing contradictions and changes in the political landscape. As problems within and between Western countries grow over the events in Ukraine, the Arab authors state, the dreams of politicians to ride the wave of the key narrative of the conflict in Ukraine are crumbling. It appears to be a “battle between Western democracy and Russia”, imposed by its information conglomerate. Those who bet on this battle today to establish themselves in power and defeat their internal opposition rivals are losing. The Ukrainian adventure did not protect either Boris Johnson or Liz Truss in the UK. Nor did it help the Democratic Party win the US congressional elections. It is clear that the peoples of Europe have found themselves in the role of pawns, driven by politicians to achieve their own narrow objectives. But this is not an option of its peoples. They did not choose an anti-Russian stance or support for Ukraine, but became true dervishes of democracy. Apparently, it will not be long before Europe, convinced of the negative results of its “America First” course, turns to a “Europe First” policy, the Arab media wrote. The coming months, i.e. the winter season, could be decisive in terms of the compass reading of Old World policy towards Ukraine, the Middle East media conclude. In the event that Europeans’ energy deficit worsens and their authorities fail for various reasons, the threads of events could fall into the hands of opposition forces and parties. Under the influence of the demonstrations in European capitals demanding a correction of the economic situation, fears and insecurity about the future and a swing to the right of societies, European countries will start to think more pragmatically and turn towards a dialogue with Russia, the Egyptian political scientist is convinced.  Pragmatism will be the only way out of the current crisis. Yury Zinin, senior researcher at the Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

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

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