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[l] at 5/29/23 6:59am
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa recently announced that six African leaders are planning to travel to Ukraine and Russia to try and find a solution to the conflict between the nations. According to the news, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian leader Zelenskyy agreed to receive the African peace mission in their respective capitals. Ramaphosa reportedly briefed the Secretary General of the UN and the African Union on the upcoming meetings initiated by a proposal drawn up by Zambia, Senegal, the Republic of Congo, Uganda, Egypt, and South Africa. The announcement came on the heels of accusations by the United States that SA had supplied weapons to Russia. The U.S. continues to try and force neutral nations to pick sides in the widening Ukraine affair that is crumbling Ukraine. Reading the broader reporting on these issues, it’s interesting that even Western elite-controlled media, such as the Financial Times, must include facts with the fictional propaganda churned out by Washington, Paris, Berlin, and London. For example, this paragraph from an FT story utters an immutable truth about geopolicy today: “The contortions South Africa has gone through highlight a broader issue. Developing countries have a legitimate aspiration to push for a new world order that better represents their interests in a multipolar world. They are right to point out that institutions created after the second world war — from the IMF and the World Bank to the UN — no longer reflect our world.” While FT thinks South Africa is on the verge of imploding, most experts see the coming BRICS meeting and the inevitable growth of that union as assured proof that a multipolar order is taking shape. South Africa’s Naledi Pandor published a piece highlighting how his country and the global south will benefit from an expanded BRICS. Moreover, citizens of SA stand to benefit substantially from being aligned with the BRICS more closely than traditional Western neocolonialists. “For South Africa, the benefits of BRICS membership are undeniable. Total South African trade with BRICS increased from R487-billion in 2017 to R702-billion in 2021. In addition, to date, the New Development Bank (NDB) has approved 11 projects in South Africa valued at around $5.4 billion to improve service delivery in critical areas.”  Pandor is among the most outspoken critics of the recent International Criminal Court’s (ICC) idiotic warrant issued to arrest Russia’s Putin. Western leadership has undoubtedly noticed that the BRICS have now surpassed the G7 in GDP and that the Ukraine proxy war the United States and Britain are pushing seems to be backfiring. The BRICS will contribute over 50% of global GDP by 2030, or much sooner should other nations join. Add to this, discussions on replacing the U.S. Dollar with an alternative international trade currency and the Joe Biden administration going to war with Russia will be seen historically as a kind of American Waterloo. Imagine the impact of this situation. Should African nations be vital to mitigating further bloodshed in Ukraine? However, the Biden administration has to have an ‘out’ where Ukraine failed gamble is concerned. So, African countries playing the pivotal role let Biden continue to talk tough while Vladimir Putin gets the neutral Ukraine the Russians sought. It all makes more sense if we realize that the Western elites have to figure out how to hedge their bets and keep their economic dealings going. Maybe their heisting of the public legacy won’t be as stunningly profitable as before, but they must stay at the feeding trough no matter what. Perhaps this is an oversimplification, but it seems certain Blackrock and other investors counting on owning Odessa and other parts of Ukraine are about to be sorely disappointed if the war continues. 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”. Сообщение An African Delegation Could Be Biden’s Way Out of the Ukraine Affair появились сначала на New Eastern Outlook.

[Category: Africa, Columns, Locations, Politics, BRICS, Russia, Ukraine, USA]

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[l] at 5/29/23 3:59am
Readers of previous articles by the present writer will know that the present author has a special interest in defectors from North Korea. As a result of their efforts a number of extravagant myths have been spread for propaganda purposes, largely because they tend to be from an upper middle-class background in North Korea, and in order to be able to afford an equivalent standard of living in the South they need to earn money by selling alarming stories. One of the few exceptions to this rule was Thae Yong-ho, who has been able to attain a status and influence no less than those which had before his defection. Formerly North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the UK, he defected to the South because he did not want his children to a life of political indoctrination and potato planting. After his arrival in South Korea, Thae Yong-ho did not choose to take on the role of a professional purveyor of horror stories, but rather gave a relatively honest interview, insofar as this was possible, and then started working in a secret research institute (in reality, for the intelligence services). However, when Moon Jae-in came to power, he left his position as a civil servant, as he claims, because he was requested to adopt a more conciliatory position. He then joined the Conservative Party and in 2020 was voted in as a deputy for Seoul, at the time a city seen as the preserve of the Democrats. It is true that he stood as a candidate in a constituency with a lot of wealthy residents, who tend to favor the Conservatives. Currently he is a supporter of Yoon Sook-yeol, and in 2023 he joined the Supreme Council of his party. As a politician he is known for his aggressive stance against North Korea, and also, like many of Yoon Sook-yeol’s supporters, his support for “humane values”. For example, he has proposed a draft law, prohibiting the slaughter of dogs and cats and the sale of their meat as food. However, this year Thae Yong-ho has featured in a number of scandals. On February 12 Thae Yong-ho stated in a speech he made at a Party meeting that the 1948 Jeju Island uprising was “obviously triggered by instructions from Kim Il-sung. Although he later apologized and published a photograph of himself kneeling in front of a memorial to the victims, the Democratic Party called for him to be investigated by the Parliamentary ethics committee for making “distorting statements about the civilian uprising”. The Democratic lawmaker Wi Seong-gon, who represents one of the districts on the island, stated that “I believe Rep. Thae has a huge problem with his perception of history,” and called on him to resign his seat in parliament and make an apology, and also called on the ruling party to expel him. Oh Young-hun, Governor of the island and a member of the Democratic Party, also called him to resign. Thae Yong-ho, however, refused to apologize. He explained that his statement was based on information he had obtained during his study at university in North Korea, adding that in his view “the person who should apologize is Kim Il-sung’s grandson Kim Jong-un”. He added that his view was the same as that of the former Democratic President Kim Dae-jung, who claimed that many innocent people had been killed as a result of the “riots provoked by the Communists”.  However, that disorder was primarily in reaction to the arbitrary conduct of the local authorities, although the official propaganda of both South Korea (before the Democrats came into power) and North Korea had presented it as a revolt organized by the Communists. Both sides were pragmatic in their approach, and, given the implacable enmity between the two Koreas, South Korean propaganda tended to present any opponent of the military dictatorship as a “Red”, whether they were a North Korean supporter, a Marxist or other type of leftist, or a democrat who supported universal human values, such as Kim Dae-jung. The Democrats then again called for Thae Yong-ho to be punished for provocative statements addressed to them in relation to the investigation into the Song Young-gil case he referred to the party as the Junk Money Sex (or JMS) Democrats. This was clearly a reference to JMS, or Jesus Morning Star, of a vile pseudo-Protestant cult that became infamous after its leader was charged with multiple offences of sexual assault- a scandal which later became the subject of a high-profile documentary. And then, in May 2023 Thae Yong-ho’s troubles took a turn for the worse when he turned out to be involved in two more scandals.  Firstly, it was reported in the media that after the most recent regional elections he had accepted payments and gifts from members of the regional and municipal councils elected by his constituency, as a token of “gratitude” for his support for their nomination. The former officer of the North Korean Foreign Ministry described the transfers of funds as “voluntary donations for media expenses” (specifically, his YouTube channel), and categorically denied the allegations of taking bribes, which he dismissed as “absurd and unworthy of comment”, adding that intended to take legal action to fight this attack on his reputation and good name. Secondly, Thae Yong-ho took part in a conversation about possible intervention by the presidential administration in the procedure for nominating candidates for the upcoming parliamentary elections. The conversation in question was a telephone call between him and Lee Jin-bok, the President’s senior secretary for political affairs. In his official capacity Lee Jin-bok is suspected of having supported the President’s efforts to improve relations between South Korea and Japan in exchange for the President nominating him as a candidate in the next parliamentary elections, scheduled for April 10, 2024. At first, Thae Yong-ho insisted: “I had no conversations at all with Lee, the senior secretary for political affairs, about sending statements made by members of the Supreme Council or about the party’s nomination of candidates”, but television channel MBC released a recording of a conversation between Thae Yong-ho and his assistants, referring to an assurance given to Lee Jin-bok that he could be sure of being nominated as a candidate in next year’s elections if he supported the President’s diplomatic initiatives in relation to Japan. As a result, on May 3 the central Ethics Committee of the governing People Power Party held an expert meeting concerning Thae Yong-ho and the scandal related to the “leaked” recording of his call with Lee Jin-bok. As a result of the meeting a decision was taken to launch a disciplinary investigation into the conduct of the former North Korean diplomat. On May 8, after five hours of deliberations the Committee decided to meet the following day after confirming certain additional facts, but on the morning of May 9, eight hours before the start of the meeting, Thae Yong-ho organized a special press conference in which he announced his resignation from the party’s Supreme Council. Thae Yong-hon explained that he was resigning because his actions had caused inconvenience and problems to the public, his fellow party members and Yoon Seok-yeol’s government, and that he took full responsibility for the contradictions and no longer wants to “be a burden to the party”, especially now, on the anniversary of Yoon’s coming to power. In the end, Thae Yong-hon was let off fairly lightly, although the Democrats are trying to keep a balance between the Thae Yong-hon scandal and the corruption cases involving the current president Yoon Suk Yeol and the former president Song Young-gil. His party membership has been suspended for three months, which means that he will be able to stand as a candidate in next year’s parliamentary actions. Things were different for lawmaker Kim Jae-won, whose case was considered in the same meeting he was suspended for a year and prevented from standing as a candidate next year.  Time will tell whether he has lost the party’s confidence, or whether he will be able to continue his party career after all the Conservatives do not have many members who are as high-profile and charismatic as he is.   Konstantin Asmolov, PhD in History, leading research fellow at the Center for Korean Studies of the Institute of China and Modern Asia at the Russian Academy of Sciences, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.” Сообщение Thae Yong-ho is this the end of his career? появились сначала на New Eastern Outlook.

[Category: Columns, DPRK, Eastern Asia, Locations, Politics, Corruption, Internal policy]

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[l] at 5/28/23 10:59pm
Turkey’s political future is a matter of great interest for the rest of the world. And its 2023 general election has been the subject of much comment in many countries, not least Russia. A key reason for the international interest in the elections is the question of Turkey’s foreign policy course under its new government: will it keep step with the West, headed by the USA, or will it follow a more independent course while retaining its partnerships with such major powers as Russia and China? As for China let’s leave that question for the Chinese themselves to consider. In Russia, attitudes to Turkey and future relations with that country are somewhat divided. Specifically, the Russian government sees Turkey, if not as a strategic partner, then at least as an important one a country focused on strengthening international relations and developing international relations in various directions, including political, cultural and economical cooperation, as well as cooperation in relation to energy, transport, national security and military and technical matters. The Russian President Vladimir Putin has maintained a good friendship with the current Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. On the other hand, in Russia there is also a certain opposition to a “close embrace” with Turkey, given the two countries’ geopolitical rivalry and at times conflict over several centuries, Turkey’s continued membership of the anti-Russian NATO military alliance, as well as Turkish nationalists’ and even the Turkish government’s support for the Great Turan project a revanchist policy aimed at increasing Turkey’s influence in the post-Soviet Turkic nations. Russia’s Turkey-sceptics argue that, in the best-case scenario, any apparent rapprochement between Moscow and Ankara is a purely temporary or even seasonal phenomenon and that in the near future this tendency is likely to change. In the worst-case scenario, opponents of a partnership between Russia and Turkey are suspicious of Russia’s diplomatic efforts in this area as they fear a new wave of Islamism and separatism within the Russian Federation, as well as new betrayals by Turkic nations in the former Soviet space. Some of them see the current relations as a “holiday romance” overly dependent on the subjective factor of good personal relations between two heads of state (i.e. Putin and Erdoğan), while others see this tendency as the result of lobbying by liberal pro-business figures in Russia’s investment and government sectors, while yet others (including Aleksandr Dugin) see it as an ideological and geopolitical initiative aimed at bringing Moscow and Ankara together in a Eurasian union led by Moscow and Ankara. Naturally, Russia is interested in developing constructive and mutually beneficial relations with all its neighbors, including Turkey. Moscow is well aware of Turkey’s special geographical position at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, and, finally Russia is interested in having a good relationship with Turkey that owes nothing to US dictates. But Russia is also mindful of its long history of dealings with Turkey and has not forgotten the many wars and conflicts between the two nations, and it is well aware that Turkey, both as a member of NATO and as a potential sponsor of neo-Ottoman and pan-Turkic ideologies, may be a source of new external and internal threats. Be that as it may, today Russia is in favor of peace and friendship with Turkey, has a positive view of President Erdoğan’s flexible approach to the crisis in Russian-Ukrainian relations, welcomes Ankara’s refusal to sign up wholeheartedly to the West’s anti-Russian sanctions, and is keen to develop economic ties and trade between the two countries. In Azerbaijan there is a proverb: “if you say no evil, no good will come”. In the present case, if Turkey changes its course towards Russia, choosing confrontation rather than partnership and instead turning towards NATO and the EU, then at the end of the day the Turks themselves will be the losers. Russia has several options for cutting off Turkey’s infrastructure connections in the southern and eastern areas of the post-Soviet space, and could easily critically weaken its economy and cause it other problems. But Russia has no intention of following such a course, and regards Turkey as a friend and partner. That, at least, is the situation as of May 2023. A number of Russian experts and opposition figures (some of whom have been labeled as foreign agents) have attempted to criticize Russia’s diplomatic policy in relation to Turkey by presenting a false picture of the economic cooperation between Russia and Turkey. For example, Boris Kagarlitsky, Professor at the Moscow Higher School for Social and Economic Sciences, and listed as a foreign agent, believes that the balance of trade between Russia and Turkey is not in Russia’s favor, as Russia provides Turkey primarily with raw materials, while Turkey, with its advanced economy, exports mainly finished manufactured goods to Russia. Unfortunately, the economic reform process in Russia has not yet advanced beyond the “transit corridor” stage, and Russia has not yet fully reformed its industry, its high technology manufacturing sector is in its infancy and it is not yet able to fully do without importing manufactured goods. However, the growth of Turkey’s manufacturing sector and its technical modernization were achieved largely through cooperation with Europe and the USA, while Russia has had to rely on its own resources and develop its own technologies. And anyway, it should be pointed out that as far as trade between Russia and Turkey is concerned, Turkey can hardly claim to be the winner. Turkey mainly supplies Russia with agricultural produce (fruit and vegetables, with a high chemical fertilizer content), food products (sweets, dried fruits etc), light industrial goods (textiles, clothes, shoes and carpets), and to a slightly lesser extent household appliances and chemicals (soap, cleaning products etc.), and since the 1990s it has provided construction services and tourism services. This list is very interesting, of course, and it reveals a lot about Turkey’s development. But nevertheless, it can hardly be said that Russia would suffer serious shortages if it was deprived of any given category of Turkish goods. After all, these products and services are not crucial for Russia’s critical infrastructure. However, in view of the crisis in relations between Russia and Ukraine, the ongoing special military operation, and the sanctions imposed by the West, Turkey has become a significant transit route for the Russian economy. Given the current circumstance, Russia is well aware that Turkey may become a kind of “link with the outside world” (that is, with Europe, the Middle East and North Africa). The last of these regions is of particular importance. If we look at the trends in trade between Russia and Turkey in the period of 2015-2022, we can see that it has increased in volume almost every year. There were just two exceptions: 2016 and 2020. In 2016 trade fell from $23.33 billion to $15.84 million as a result of a deterioration in relations between the two countries after Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24 bomber over Syria in November 2015.  And in 2020 trade fell from $26.03 billion to $20.84 billion as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.   In all the other years there was a year-on-year increase of at least $1 billion. The highest ever figure was in 2022, when trade between Russia and Turkey reached the level of $80 billion.  That increase was the result of the West’s sanctions against Russia, which forced Russia to shift the focus of its foreign trade links from the West to the East. For Russia Turkey became a global crossroads and trading hub, and a route for the indirect import of goods from countries with which Moscow no longer had trading links because of the sanctions. As a result, Turkey became Russia’s second most important foreign trade partner after China. And while in previous years the balance in trade between Russia and Turkey was consistently in Russia’s favor, with Russia’s exports more than four times greater than Turkey’s, last year it shifted in favor of Turkish exports. But those exports were not primarily Turkish-made goods the increase was due to the reexport of goods from other countries (with Turkey acting as a transit corridor) and the rise in gas prices. Nevertheless, the trade balance between Russia and Turkey demonstrates that Russia exports more essential products to Turkey than vice versa. These goods include Russian gas and oil, nickel, copper and grain. There are two gas pipelines, Blue Stream and Turkish Stream, one of which also has a transit branch taking Russian gas to Europe, as well as Turkey’s first nuclear power station, the Akkuyu plant in Mersin Province, on the Mediterranean coast, constructed with the help of more than $21 billion in financing provided by Russia, and which will provide 10% of Turkey’s energy needs, and another nuclear power plant planned at Sinop, on the Black Sea coat (for which Russia is likely to provide $20 billion in financing, and which will also provide 10% of Turkey’s energy needs). There is also military and technical cooperation (including the supply of a high-technology S-400 Typhoon rocket system and the planned supply of the latest Russian Su-30 and Su-57 fighter jets, as well as the supply of military and transport helicopters). And a gas hub has also been agreed this huge infrastructure project which will allow gas from the Nord Stream-1 and 2 pipelines, which were sabotaged by Western special forces, to be redirected to Turkey. The Turks will be able to purchase the gas at a reduced price and take part in energy auctions for the sale of Russian gas on foreign markets. Turkey’s energy sector is thus highly dependent on Russia, and without gas or electricity its production capacity would be seriously reduced. The Akkuyu nuclear power plant has been described by experts from the IAEA as one of the best, most advanced in terms of its technology, and safest in the world. Russian arms retain their dominant position both in global arms markets and, more importantly, on the battlefield. So, one could ask, which country supplies its partner with more important goods and services Russia, or Turkey? In the author’s view, the answer is clear: Russians can do without Turkish tomatoes, consumer goods and construction services (especially since there have, tragically, been defects in Turkish construction, for example following this year’s earthquake in the South-East of Turkey, and, also, back in 2004, following the collapse of the roof of the Transvaal Park water park in Moscow, built by a Turkish company). Russia can also do without Turkish tourism, of which Turkey is the main benefactor, to the tune of billions of dollars, (especially since Russia, with its many different ecosystems and great geographical diversity has a huge amount to offer tourists and can easily compete with Turkey). But Turkey would definitely be the main loser if it was deprived of Russian gas, Russian preferential pricing, Russian nuclear power plants and Russian missile systems. What is more, following the fall of the USSR, Turkey, in partnership with the US and UK, started to open up the post-Soviet space (including by exporting oil from Azerbaijan through Turkey to Europe, thus bypassing Russia), and Russia refrained from taking any radical steps to prevent Turkey from using this route just as it is doing now in Central Asia. Russia showed restraint in 1999, when at its Istanbul summit the OSCE approved the route for the export of oil and gas from Azerbaijan, and in 2008, when Georgia attacked South Ossetia, and in 2020, during the second Nagorno-Karabakh war. As a result, with the tacit consent of Russia Turkey receives oil, gas and uranium via the Caspian Sea and benefits from new transit routes running through Turkey to global markets. Not to mention economic growth. So, in the present case the author would beg to differ with the view of Professor and foreign agent Boris Kagarlitsky, and tell him: “Boris, you are mistaken ”. He is also mistaken in accusing Russia of working only with the government, and ignoring the opposition, both in Turkey and in other countries. It is not Russia that elects the government in Turkey or any other country, but that country’s citizens. But Russia is obliged to respect their choice and develop a systematic policy. Certain experts, like fortune tellers reading tea leaves, have attempted to predict the winner of the current Turkish elections the “pro-Russian” Erdoğan and the “pro-American” Kılıçdaroğlu. Firstly, Erdoğan is not a “pro-Russian” politician, and his only loyalty is to Turkey. Secondly, of course in the 20 years that he has been in power there have been ups and downs in the relationship between Turkey and Russia. In these years the two countries have stabilized their relations, established fruitful partnerships in areas where they have shared interests, and productive dialog where their interests diverge. We have built up more wide-ranging economic and political relations which represent the future interests of both countries and their citizens. Thirdly, irrespective of whether Erdoğan stays in power or whether he is replaced by another leader, Turkey will need to retain productive, level-headed and responsible relations with Russia. As we have seen, Moscow and Ankara reestablished good international relations after Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24, following which they announced an ambitious goal of increasing trade between the two countries to $100 billion. And the Russian and Turkish leaders are steadily moving towards their target. Aleksandr SVARANTS, PhD in political science, professor, exclusively for the online journal “New Eastern Outlook.” Сообщение “Boris, you are mistaken ”. Some comments on trade between Russia and Turkey появились сначала на New Eastern Outlook.

[Category: Columns, Economics, Locations, Middle East, Turkey, Economic cooperation, Russia]

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[l] at 5/28/23 4:59am
Sudan’s armed confrontation, which began in mid-April between General Abdel Fattah al Burhan, Commander of the Sudanese Armed Forces, and General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, Commander of the Rapid Support Forces, is becoming more prolonged. The conflict helps only the West and is not in the interests of Africans or the vast majority of the world’s population. According to the most conservative estimates, the Ukrainian crisis has recently surpassed all previous armed conflicts in the global information arena, which number more than fifty. Many of them are on a huge scale, i.e. full-fledged wars. This includes the situation developing in Sudan, where thousands of wounded and hundreds of dead have been reported in the previous month alone. Artillery and planes are being used in the battles, which are taking place in the capital city of Khartoum, the Kafuri region in the north, Darfur in the west, and Port Sudan on the Red Sea. Citizens of several foreign nations were evacuated. There were numerous social and humanitarian issues in the disorganized nation. Supply of food and medicine, electricity and communications services were all observed to be widely disrupted. Nobody wants to even attempt to forecast the short-term course of the Sudanese scenario because it is constantly changing. However, most analysts agree that the conflict becomes protracted. They also point out that the infighting only benefits the Collective West, which has a history of fishing in troubled waters by fomenting civil wars. The current phase of Sudan’s conflict actually started in 2019, when a military coup deposed the country’s leader at the time, Omar al-Bashir, who had ruled since 1993 and was accused of money laundering and corruption. The coup had a clear Western trace. However, the coup detat, as these things usually do, did not restore peace to the nation. Following that, Washington and its allies attempted to deal with the undesired al-Bashir by requesting that the venerable International Criminal Court seated in The Hague issue an arrest warrant for him. The “good” British of the colonial era scrambled the borders of Sudan, entirely oblivious to geographic, economic, and additional considerations. As a result, the country’s civil war essentially continued unabated, and in 2011, it split in two, creating South Sudan. An agreement on the creation of a transitional civil administration in the nation was planned but derailed in early April between the current governing Sovereign Council, headed by Al-Burhan and his Deputy Mohamed Dagalo, and more than 50 civil associations and groups. Analysts say that one of the main objectives of Westerners in Sudan at the moment is to weaken China’s position, which has managed to forge a strong foothold in the nation through years of work and multibillion-dollar investments. It has also been suggested that Western capitals are alarmed about the planned construction of a naval base of the Russian Navy in Port Sudan. Germany declared that it would send roughly 1,500 troops to Sudan, with the condition that the contingent size may be raised if required. This will further complicate the balance of power in the country. Bakhtiar Urusov, a political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.” Сообщение Sudan has become a battleground появились сначала на New Eastern Outlook.

[Category: Africa, Columns, Locations, Politics, African Woes, Sudan]

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[l] at 5/27/23 11:59pm
The unfortunate events in Sudan, which led to a bloody struggle between two rival generals, revealed the fragility of the policy of orientation towards the “hegemon of democracy,” the United States. The US policy under both Republican and Democratic administrations now reflects Washington’s inability to fully support and assist the democratic transition in that African country. Despite the solemn commitment that US President Joe Biden made on his first day in office on January 20, 2021, and which he and other members of his administration demagogically reaffirm every day as a mantra, namely to make democracy and human rights a priority on Washington’s agenda, the US has done little to advance the democratic transition process in Sudan. Suffice it to recall that after the overthrow of the regime of Omar al-Bashir in 2019 and since the Sudanese military establishment regained its power over the country in October 2021, reneging on its promise to transfer power to a civilian government, Joe Biden has only been watching events in Sudan without lifting a finger. And this is also despite the fact that the US president held two “democratic summits” in December 2021 and March 2023, where American emissaries zealously pledged their allegiance to democracy and human rights. It may be recalled that Sudan is torn by power struggle between two camps, one led by the commander of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and de facto president, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the other by his deputy, the commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo (commonly known as Hemetti), both of which are variously supported by complex networks of international and regional alliances with conflicting interests. However, as of today Washington’s response to attempts to foment conflict by members of these networks shows the ever-diminishing limits of American influence in Sudan. The US is no longer the central international actor it was when it ignited the decades-long civil war between north and south Sudan in the African country and supported the South Sudan’s independence referendum imposed on the South, which was immediately recognized. Here is a cynical example of hypocrisy and cheap demagogy of “democratic USA” when it was convenient, it immediately recognized the results of the referendum, despite the fact that the north and south of Sudan were a single country and lived according to this principle for more than a hundred years. And when the referendum according to all rules of international laws was held in the Crimea and this peninsula returned to its motherland, where it had been for more than 200 years, the evil USA unleashed the war against Russia in Ukraine. The crisis in Sudan’s democratic transition was not a priority for the Biden administration. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has not visited Khartoum during his African tours, unlike previous Democratic and Republican administrations’ secretaries of state (Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Mike Pompeo and John Kerry). Nor has the Biden administration attempted to sanction or otherwise punish Sudanese military leaders for failing to comply with their commitments to transfer power to civilian authorities and orchestrating a coup against a democratic transition process, despite demands from Democratic and Republican lawmakers to do so. The diminished US role in Sudan has allowed regional and international forces to increase their influence in the African country and spread ideas far removed from democracy. Due to the fact that Sudanese politics have received little attention in Washington, the Sudanese military leadership has been able to maintain control over the government in a way that is at odds with the goals of democracy, to which American politicians quite often pander to. These powers have become more influential in Sudan’s future than the US, which has always talked about the importance of this state in its African policy. As the fighting between the two camps intensified, the Biden administration instantly forgot the principles of democracy and began to prioritize two main objectives.  The first was to ensure the safety of US citizens in Sudan and then to evacuate them to prevent a repeat of previous US failures in conflict zones, which could have undermined Biden’s prospects of winning a second term in the US presidential election in November 2024. The second goal was to downplay the involvement of influential US international rivals who seek, quite naturally, to shape Sudan’s political future in a way that promotes their own special interests. Washington has always believed that Sudan must satisfy the interests of only one power, the United States. With the decline of US influence in Sudan, the options available to the Biden administration to deal with the increasing hostilities and fading prospects for dominance in that country have been limited to two. The first is to call on Washington’s regional and political allies to intervene and pressure al-Burhan and Hemetti to return to the negotiating table, stop the fighting, and agree on a formula for restoring and maintaining stability and security. The US is aware that the state of stability and security in Sudan affects other areas such as the Horn of Africa, an area of priority importance for Washington’s influence on a continent that has become an arena of strategic rivalry between the United States and its global rivals. After numerous cease-fire violations by Sudanese belligerents, the US, in cooperation with Saudi Arabia, succeeded in launching the first serious initiative to end the military conflict by gathering representatives of the SAF and RSF for talks in Jeddah on May 6. The second option was to fulfill the demands of congressional lawmakers from both parties, whose greater involvement in the Sudanese issue helped fill their government’s diplomatic gap, impose sanctions on Sudanese military leaders and their supporters, thereby depriving the revenue that supports their forces and their power, and creating opportunities to grow their influence in Sudan. Three weeks after the outbreak of hostilities, Biden ordered sanctions on members of the armed forces in Sudan for their alleged use of violence against civilians, endangering the stability of the country and committing gross human rights violations. In reality though, as the US media itself has repeatedly reported, the sanctions were designed to maintain Washington’s influence over the country’s military leadership. In fact, the sanctions preceded the recent flare-up, but Washington was hesitant to impose them in 2019 and 2021 for fear of losing its influence over the military and thereby undermining its prestige in this country. It also feared that significant pressure on al-Burhan and Hemetti in this way might simultaneously drive them into the arms of powers competing with the US for influence in Sudan. Overall, US policy under both Republican and Democratic administrations since the overthrow of the al-Bashir regime in 2019 reflects Washington’s failure to fully support and assist a democratic transition in Sudan. The consequence has been a decline in US influence in favor of regional and international powers whose interests conflict with those of the United States. This, combined with a disconnect between rhetoric and policy on the ground, has limited the Biden administration’s ability to respond to the current crisis in Sudan. Viktor Mikhin, corresponding member of RANS, exclusively for the online journal “New Eastern Outlook.” Сообщение The United States’ futile efforts to keep Sudan in its orbit of influence появились сначала на New Eastern Outlook.

[Category: Columns, Locations, Politics, USA in the World, Puppets of the USA, Sudan, USA, Western Democracy]

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[l] at 5/27/23 4:59am
The 49.51% vs 44.88% distribution after the first stage of the presidential election maintains Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s apparent prospects of triumph over his rival, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. Perhaps the incumbent president of Turkey could have snatched the victory on May 14, too, for the authorities could have counted 0.49% of the votes differently (for instance, in terms of invalid ballots). But Erdoğan, an experienced politician, decided not to test the reaction of his internal and external opponents, to show himself as a supporter of “mature democracy” (so widely paraded by the Collective West) and to stretch out the time of political intrigue by two more weeks. And in principle, what is the rush for Turkey’s “irreplaceable leader” who has been in power for 20 years? It is often the case in politics that a long period of history can boast no significant events that can turn the tide or make decisive (or fatal) changes. Conversely, short-lived events are recognized by history as having a significant impact on its future path. The current presidential election in Turkey is somewhat reminiscent of this analogy. Erdoğan has changed Turkey’s role and position in regional and global affairs during his years in power, and he has proven to be a better player at the table of political heavyweights because his bets have been justified by time. Yes, Turkey is now experiencing a serious economic crisis, but what other country is safe from these crises or has avoided them in its development? Erdoğan, assessing the international situation in his own way, believes that the time has come for Turkey to enter a qualitatively new level, from a regional state to a super-regional power. At the same time, the pragmatic Erdoğan is well aware that his chances in the political and military field must be supported by a relative yet stable economic independence. The latter, given the scarcity of national natural resources (especially limited energy resources), is not an easy task. But it is the favorable external situation that has emerged for Turkey after the collapse of the USSR that provides it with a chance to flexibly maneuver between different centers of power (the US, Russia and China) and build a new paradigm of Turkic integration processes led by Ankara. How is Turkic integration within the Organization of Turkic States, based on common values and interests (ethnocultural affinity, new energy region, high demography, partnership with all the mentioned world centers) worse than the European integration within the EU, Eurasian integration within the EAEU and Chinese economic integration within the One Belt, One Road mega-project? For the Turkic world, the answer is obvious. But it is to implement such a strategy of Turan that Erdoğan is building a new economic model of pragmatic partnership with all the world centers and markets (whether Europe, Russia or China). The result of this course is the obvious economic dividends and projects, new communications and transit, the increasing role of Turkey in the global political and business environment, the formation of the foundations of an alternative Turkic pole with Ankara as its leader. And while such conclusions in the recent past seemed to be in the realm of science fiction, today we have to acknowledge other realities. That is why Turkish presidential candidate Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, before the second round of elections, rightly tells his own and others’ societies that the country’s president should be neither offended nor angry, but should be guided only by national interests. That is why Erdoğan says he has pursued a policy of open arms with the United States, Europe, Russia and China as well. As a result, Turkey is no longer in perpetual expectation of the next financial and other material (including military) handouts from the main ally of the United States and NATO in order to solve urgent national issues. Moreover, Turkey is no longer entertaining illusions of integration with the EU and is not waiting for new decisions by Washington and Brussels on this issue. Instead, Turkey today is a country which through its partnerships with other world players (primarily Russia and China) has achieved a higher level of economic and political independence, finds ways to compensate Western weapons with comparable Russian munitions, and slowly and steadily forms an alternative Turkic common market with its own leadership. Accordingly, in case of his victory Erdoğan will continue to maintain this pragmatic course (including with regard to Russia). Therefore, the leader of the ruling party devotes the remaining days of the election campaign to Turkey’s current serious political events in the domestic and foreign life (including visits to the earthquake zone, discussion of acute social issues of citizens, achieving new results in the mediation between Russia and Ukraine on the extension of the “grain deal”). Naturally, the negotiations in Istanbul on the complex subject of preserving the “grain deal” could have had a different result, since Russia objectively has the right to interrupt this one-way game. If Russia’s interests in the export of its agricultural products (including fertilizers) to the world markets, the lifting of sanctions against the Russian Agricultural Bank with its connection to SWIFT, the import of foreign agricultural equipment and spare parts to the Russian market are not taken into account by the guarantor of the deal, represented by the UN and the authors of sanctions in the form of the Collective West, then why should Russia preserve the “grain deal” with Ukraine? However, Moscow, demonstrating to the rest of the world its goodwill and peacefulness, nevertheless, agreed once again to give all mediators (including Turkey) a chance to resolve this issue comprehensively and respect the interests of all parties. It can be rightfully asserted that Russia, maintaining the high trust in the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, agreed for a two-month prolongation of the “grain deal” thanks to the authority of the Turkish leader and in the counting that this advance will be adequately developed on July 18, 2023. Before the second round of the election, Erdoğan once again showed his voters the high level of relations with Russia and his diplomatic success. And what about Erdoğan’s main opponent Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the People’s Alliance bloc? The opposition’s expectations of success in the first round did not come to fruition. Given that the time is running out rapidly there is no opportunity to hold large marches and rallies, exercise oratorical skills and raise the degree of conviction of the hesitant masses. Kılıçdaroğlu also decided to keep up with Erdoğan in his visits to the areas covered by the earthquake tragedy and those provinces where the potential of supporters remains. Kılıçdaroğlu, however, decided to give his campaign a fiery appearance in the final stage of the elections. While at the beginning of the election he was quite correct in his assessments of the prospects for a mutually beneficial partnership between Turkey and Russia, as the elections drew closer more and more critical remarks against Russia and now President Erdoğan for allegedly subjugating Russia began to appear in his speeches. In particular, in early May Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu decided to accuse Russia of allegedly interfering in the Turkish elections by means of photoshop depicting him with the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is banned in Turkey. Though the real reason was obviously a strong positive evidence of economic and diplomatic partnership between Turkey and Russia that is connected with the name and policy of Erdoğan. The second factor of such public dissatisfaction with Kılıçdaroğlu can be considered the attitudes of pro- or American political technologists. Before the second round of the election the opposition candidate decided to directly accuse the incumbent president of being subordinate to Russia (calling Erdoğan a “pseudo-leader subordinate to Russia”). It turns out that when there are no arguments left, the best remedy is to accuse your opponent of all imaginable and unimaginable sins. Of course, you can say that a competent Turkish voter can separate the wheat from the chaff. That may be true. But what about the incompetent voters, and there are a lot of them in Turkey today, too? The latter means that the pro-American part of the Turkish political electorate, engaged in connections with big Western capital and maintaining Turkey’s own position of power, will take all possible provocations to rig the presidential election. In particular, Kılıçdaroğlu’s pre-election rhetoric already shows false attitudes and hostile anti-Russian propaganda, no guarantees and disruption of the results of the vote count, as well as provoking civil clashes after the election. Kılıçdaroğlu and his Western sponsors will obviously try to reach an agreement before May 28 not only with the Kurdish political forces in terms of supporting the opposition leader (such cooperation has already taken place after the May 14 vote) but also with the nationalist Sinan Oğan, the third participant in the first round of election, who got 5.17% of votes. This figure is exactly what the leader of the CHP lacks in his clash with Erdoğan. Some biased circles are already leaking that such an unexpected U-turn of pan-Turkist and Azerbaijani (as noted in the press) Sinan Oğan in favor of the United States and Kılıçdaroğlu should not be ruled out. Apparently, there is a bidding for the next the eighth Turkish vice-presidential seat. Still, if Kılıçdaroğlu in his program promised the citizens to govern for one year in case of victory, return the former parliamentary model of governing the country and lower the status of the president, then what is the point of having at least 10 vice-presidents? It is extremely difficult for the author to imagine that Sinan Oğan, a politician from the ranks of the main pan-Turkist organization Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and an associate of Devlet Bahçeli (who is allied with Erdoğan and the ruling AKP in the “Republican Alliance”), and an Azeri by birth (whose historical homeland President Erdoğan helped win the second Karabakh war), would agree to alliance with Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. But calculating (often cynical) pragmatism and force rather than emotion prevail in politics. The near future will show how this will play out. Sinan Oğan has no institutional capacity to compel his supporters to vote for another candidate, and there is neither money nor time to buy their votes. Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Antalya, and Aydın are the major and resort cities where Kılıçdaroğlu was successful in the first round. Erdoğan, on the other hand, won in 51 of Turkey’s 81 provinces, mostly in nationalist and Islamist-ridden parts of the country. As a rule, the fate of revolutions and coups d’état is decided in the capital and major cities, while the periphery follows the center. Let’s hope that the second round of presidential elections in Turkey will also follow the established laws, and its results will reflect the objective balance of power and the choice of the people. Aleksandr SVARANTS, PhD in political science, professor, exclusively for the online journal “New Eastern Outlook.” Сообщение Elections in Turkey: tactics shift as time is running out появились сначала на New Eastern Outlook.

[Category: Columns, Locations, Middle East, Politics, Turkey, Elections, Internal policy]

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[l] at 5/26/23 11:59pm
Anticipating the collapse of the “Ukraine project,” NATO’s military-industrial complex is rushing towards the Asia-Pacific region to spark a new conflict in order to satisfy its financial demands. NATO’s post-1991 history is the history of an organization that has outlived its usefulness. The “threat of world communism” that NATO cited as justification for its 40-year existence isno longer present. NATO was desperately searching for an understandable purpose for its existence to justify enormous expenditures for the military-industrial complex following the fall of the Warsaw Pact. In the late 1990s, NATO found what it believed to be the greatest answer, namely to militarization of human rights in order to utilize this narrative to target the policies of unwelcome states throughout the world. Fancying themselves as the new superheroes, NATOkept its guns and bombs ready “to defend the human rights from the tyrants who oppressed them,” wherever there was injustice, as stated by Washington propagandists. Representatives of the US military-industrial complexcould not have been happier. All of the think tanks that they generously fund have finallyfound a win-win solution for keeping money in the pockets of the US and European military industries. In 1999, the “renewed” NATO conducted its first test run in Yugoslavia. It was a dreadful, inexcusable tragedy for everyone except Washington and Brussels. Seventy-eight days of bombing a country that did not pose a danger to NATO resulted in the killing of hundreds of civilians, the destruction of infrastructure, and the legacy of depleted uranium weapons that would go on to poison Serbians for decades. Then, NATO backed the Arab Spring in North Africa and was directly involved in the overthrow of the Gaddafi government in Libya. The Western-controlled press had spread the myth that destroying the country, killing its people, and removing the government would address all of Libya’s human rights concerns. As expected, NATO airstrikes have exacerbated rather than solved Libya’s problems. Chaos, civil war, terrorism, slave markets, and abject poverty it’s no surprise that Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and their associates avoid discussing Libya these days. Following a string of failures, the Washington-controlled NATO decided in 2014 to go all-in andstrike Russia directly in order to “change the authoritarian regime there that violates human rights.” The first phase was the toppling of Ukraine’s democratically elected government, which was handled by the US through NATO vassals Germany, Poland, and France. Then, under the pretense of attempting to resolve the problem through the Minsk agreements, NATO provided eight years of substantial military assistance to Ukraine’s unlawful government in order to combat Russia. Finally, in 2022, Russia’s demand to negotiate a European security agreement that would prevent NATO armies from encircling its borders was rejected. NATO has had roughly the same amount of success using the Kiev regime and its guerrillas as it did in Libya and Afghanistan, despite extensive propaganda in the US and European government-controlled media. Hundreds of thousands of dead, a collapsed economy, millions of refugees, rampant lawlessness, corruption, and hundreds of billions of dollars gained by Western politicians and military-industrial corporations. The only difference this time is that NATO’s target, the nuclear-armed superpower Russia, played ahead of the game by sabotaging the West’s initial intentions. As a result, Russia has no intention of backing down and sees this proxywar as essential to its very survival. And now, despite its history of failure, NATO has apparently decided to start making serious preparations for war with China, seemingly anticipating the impending collapse of its “Ukraine project” and perhaps as a means of deflecting attention from yet another of its failures as well as a new excuse for enhancing its military-industrial complex. NATO announced the creation of the organization’s first Asian office, in Japan, last week. What’s next, a promise to Tokyo, or maybe to Taiwan of NATO membership, as was the case with Ukraine? Would Taiwan or Japan (or other US Asian Pacific allies like South Korea, Thailand, Philippines, Australia) gladly serve as NATO’s newest “Ukraine” in the Asia-Pacific region, surrendering themselves to the constant greed and hunger for NATO conflicts? Or perhaps there is a power in the region that will make a forceful protest against the West’s damaging practices? Bakhtiar Urusov, a political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.” Сообщение NATO’s military-industrial complex has its sights firmly set on the Asia-Pacific region появились сначала на New Eastern Outlook.

[Category: Asian-Pacific region, Columns, Locations, Politics, International politics, NATO, USA]

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[l] at 5/26/23 6:59am
The interest of foreign world powers in the presidential elections in Turkey is not just idle curiosity, but is connected to the potential for future bilateral relations between Turkey and the countries in question. And in this, Russia is no exception. Attitudes to President Erdoğan vary, with some leaders seeing him as a friend, while for others the relationship is governed purely by his status, but he remains the leader of an important state, and that accounts for a great deal. And international interest in Turkey will remain unchanged if his challenger Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu becomes the new leader. Politicians typically make an effort to observe diplomatic protocol in all circumstances, as all significant disagreements and discussions are dealt with at the negotiating table frequently, as the saying goes, behind closed doors. Nevertheless, many experts are trying to make predictions, based on this or that argument, about Turkey’s future and the likely relations between Russia and Turkey after May 28 2023. And there is a limited number of possible outcomes in fact there are just two of them, one positive and one negative. Ideally, there would be only one option the positive outcome, which would allow the development of a constructive partnership. But, in the current challenging international situation, and in view of Turkey’s specific character as a nation, not everything depends on what we want. If the incumbent, Recep Erdoğan wins, there is every reason to assume that the plans developed by the two countries for their long-term relations will continue in effect. We can expect to see new progress in trade relations, the implementation of the gas hub project, the completion of Turkey’s first nuclear power plant in Mersin and the beginning of construction work on its second nuclear power plant in Sinop, which (like the Mersin plant) will be financed by Russia and then jointly operated by both countries, future discounts on oil and gas for Turkey, as Russia’s partner, potential new international land routes both roads and railways through the South Caucasus states, the development of a constructive dialog on geopolitical issues in the wider region (including on Syria, Libya, Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia, Central Asia), Ankaras ongoing role as an effective mediator in relation to the Russia- Ukraine crisis, and, most importantly, Turkey’s decision to keep the Bosphorus and Dardanelles closed to warships from non-Black Sea NATO countries (including the USA and Great Britain). Those are the likely and clearly positive fruits of an Erdoğan victory. However, in the interests of objectivity, we should also consider the likely drawbacks of the ageing Erdoğan’s policies. After all, Recep Erdoğan is a complex political figure with a challenging character, for whom Turkey’s national interests are clearly the overriding concern. Firstly, there remains the fact that Turkey and Russia are members of two different political and military alliances NATO and the CSTO. Even though in recent times Turkey has been highly critical of the US and NATO, Recep Erdoğan has no intention of leaving the alliance a step which he considers would threaten Turkey’s strategic security and territorial integrity. Secondly, under Erdoğan Turkey has espoused imperialist revanchist ambitions based on neo-Ottoman and pan-Turkic ideologies, a tendency that risks jeopardizing its relations with a number of neighboring states, including Russia. It is no secret that under Recep Erdoğan Ankara’s policies have shifted from paying lip-service to pan-Turkic ideologies to adopting them as a policy and launching the Great Turan project. Recep Erdoğan was the first leader in Turkey’s modern history to transform Turan from a mythical idea into a 21st Century reality, and turn Antalya into the center (or a pole) of the Turkic world. And nothing neither Turkey’s hyperinflation and the fall of the lira, nor the objections of the US and many other countries, including Russia, its energy dependence on other countries and overall shortage of natural resources, nor the ongoing rearmament of the armed forces and its status as a non-nuclear power have prevented Erdoğan from following this course. Thirdly, Erdoğan is able to skillfully manipulate the favorable foreign policy situation and play on the weaknesses of other major powers in order to obtain benefits and strengthen Turkey’s position. It is true that Turkey is currently experiencing an unprecedented economic crisis. But Erdoğan is continuing to receive gas and petroleum products at below-market prices from Russia, is benefitting from the new gas hub project, is hoping to implement a transit corridor connecting China to Europe and Russia to the South, has plans to have a fifth gas pipeline (ТАNAP-2) from the post-Soviet space (specifically, from Turkmenistan, which has 7% of global reserves), aims to acquire access to the Caspian Basin and the Turkic Central Asian nations (the Turan Project), and has not abandoned his dream of creating a unified Turkic-Islamic market with a total of population of between 160 and 390 million, taking in Turkey, the South Caucasus and Central Asian states, and possibly Pakistan. Should Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu win the election, then there are two possible ways in which relations between Turkey and Russia could develop: they could remain stable, and favorable, or they could rapidly deteriorate. Given the fact that economic links between Russia and Turkey have grown rapidly since the 2000s, that Turkey’s energy sector remains dependent on supplies of Russian gas and petroleum products, the Akkuyu nuclear power station is still under way, and that Turkey exports large volumes of agricultural produce, textiles, household chemical products and consumer electronics to the Russian market, there is every likelihood that this mutually beneficial partnership would continue under a government led by Kılıçdaroğlu. What negative implications could the potential policies of a new Turkish leader have for Russia’s interests? In terms of the economy, Kılıçdaroğlu is an open advocate of bringing Turkey into closer step with the EU and strengthening relations with the USA: he could change Turkey’s policy in relation to the West’s anti-Russian sanctions (i.e. by implementing them strictly), there is also risk of new obstacles to the parallel import of European goods through Turkey, nor is there any guarantee that Russian gas would be able to pass through Turkey under a “foreign flag”. And as for the political implications, even if under a Kılıçdaroğlu government Turkey did not join the Ramstein group of NATO committed to supporting Ukraine in its conflict with Russia, Turkey’s role as a mediator would still necessarily be diminished. Ankara, influenced by and working together with the US, could help reduce Russia’s influence in the post-Soviet space by creating new incentives for countries to break away from the CSTO and EAEU and also open up its border with Armenia, with no preconditions, in a bid to bring Yerevan into an alliance with Turkey, the West and NATO. Kılıçdaroğlu could also continue with Turkey’s Great Turan policy while in an alliance with the US and Britain, but without publicly espousing any revanchist or neo-imperialistic goals. And, finally, under a new pro-American leader there is no guarantee for Russia that Turkey would continue to enforce the ban, enshrined in the 1936 Montreux Convention, on warships passing through the Black Sea straits, and this poses a further risk of military escalation in areas of the Black Sea close to those where the special military operation is under way in Ukraine. As we have seen, depending on the results of the Turkish elections, we can expect either stability with a positive outlook, or highly negative consequences. But things are not as bad as our opponents might think. Whatever turn events take, Turkey should assess its strengths objectively and, in any case, value Russia’s positive intentions. Any attempt to destabilize partnership relations between Turkey and Russia could have negative consequences in the short and long term both for Turkey’s economy (specifically in relation to energy, transit, trade and tourism) and for security in the wider region. In such a case, Turkey might find itself faced with new conflicts near its borders (including in Syria, Nagorno-Karabakh, Iran, the black Sea and Central Asia). However, taking into account the history of relations between Russia and Turkey, it seems likely that: firstly, Moscow will respect whatever choice the Turkish people make on May 28, secondly, that Russia will be ready to cooperate with Turkey whoever its new president is, and thirdly, that the leaders of the two countries and peoples will focus on continuing with their constructive partnership, dialog and friendship. Aleksandr SVARANTS, PhD in political science, professor, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.” Сообщение What can Russia expect from the results of the Turkish presidential elections? появились сначала на New Eastern Outlook.

[Category: Columns, Locations, Middle East, Politics, Turkey, Elections, Geopolitics, International politics, Russia]

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[l] at 5/26/23 3:59am
As the readers recall, Yoon Suk-yeol, the new President of the Republic of Korea, advocated right from the start for enhancing ties with Japan and shifting attention from the issues of the bygone past to building a better tomorrow. His speech on March 1, 2023 and his visit to Japan on April 16-17, during which, according to critics, Yoon made a number of unilateral concessions, fit into this agenda. In addition, the two leaders agreed to resume shuttle diplomacy, or regular visits to each others countries. During a speech at Harvard in April 2023, Yoon also defended his commitment to improving relations with Japan, saying that South Korea must overcome the belief that they cannot take a single step further until the historical issues are resolved. I know there could be a lot of emotional conflict and antagonism related to the colonial period among our peopleBut if we cooperate well in the future, I believe that our conflict and hostility about the past will be healed to a large extent. The fact that there would be a return visit by the Japanese prime minister to the ROK became known in advance, but as early as April 28 the South Korean presidential administration announced that no decision had been made on the announced summit plans yet, although the Japanese media reported that Seoul and Tokyo were in talks to arrange Kishidas visit to Seoul for May 7 and 8. Only on May 2, the Presidential Administration of the Republic of Korea officially confirmed the visit on the specified dates, and this is important, since it was expected that Kishida would visit Korea after the G7 summit in Hiroshima on May 19-21; this anticipated visit indicated his desire to quickly respond to Yoons decision to contact Japan. The status of the trip is a working visit, which does not involve signing resounding declarations or even a joint statement. However, the visit was the first bilateral meeting between the leaders of Korea and Japan in 12 years to discuss outstanding issues since then-Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda visited the South Korean capital in October 2011. The last time the Japanese leader visited Korea was in February 2018, but then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived to attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, and there were no negotiations. The ROK media immediately noted that if Kishida is to come to Seoul, he needs to express a specific stance on the historical issue and move toward sustainable and amicable relations between the two countries and therefore special attention is being paid to the question of whether Fumio Kishida will apologize for the forced labor mobilization of Koreans during World War II and whether he can at least repeat the 1998 Tokyo statement, which contained phrases such as sincere apology and remorse. It is worth recalling that relations between the two countries deteriorated severely after the ROK Supreme Court had ruled in favor of Korean plaintiffs in October 2018, claiming compensation for the forced and unpaid labor of 780,000 Koreans used by Japanese employers during the war in the Pacific. Japan vigorously contested the decision and claimed that it had no obligation to pay such compensation, citing the 1965 reparations agreement between the two countries. The result was a trade war and severed ties, but the US sought a close partnership with South Korea and Japan in an effort to counter Chinese and Russian expansion, combined with repeated military provocations from North Korea. Against this backdrop, the US praised the Yoon administration for its efforts to build ties with Japan despite fierce internal resistance, and US President Joe Biden, in a meeting with Yoon Suk-yeol, personally thanked him for his determination. In March, Tokyo and Seoul agreed to overcome the accumulated contradictions caused by the historical legacy of the Japanese occupation of Korea (1910-1945), returned to cooperation under the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), which includes the exchange of intelligence on North Korea and achieved trade and economic détente in the trade war. Japan lifted restrictions on exports to Korea of key materials used in the production of semiconductors (semiconductors account for about 20% of Korean exports). In response, Seoul withdrew a complaint filed against Japan with the World Trade Organization. On April 28, Japans Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry announced a plan to begin the process of re-inclusion of South Korea in the white list of privileged trading partners following a similar move by Seoul. On May 7, Fumio Kishida arrived in South Korea. Upon arrival, the Japanese Prime Minister went to the Seoul National Cemetery, where not only those who died in the Korean War, but also the fighters for independence are buried, and paid tribute to the fallen. Later that day, the summit itself took place. Yoon welcomed Kishida to the official arrival ceremony, which included the singing of the national anthems of the two countries and a joint review of the guard of honor. Yoon Suk-yeol stated that he feels a responsibility to make South Korea-Japan relations even better than they were during their good times. Kishida thanked Yoon for the warm welcome, saying he was glad to see the full restoration of shuttle diplomacy between them and hoped to exchange views on ways to move bilateral relations forward. At the end of the summit, a joint press conference was held During the visit, Fumio Kishida received the highest level of protection, which until now had been granted only to US presidents. However, although democratic NGOs organized a series of rallies at key points (the ROK presidential residence, the Embassy of Japan, etc.), there were no serious incidents. Kishida was required to make a direct, sincere apology for Japans wartime crimes, including forced labor and sexual slavery, committed during the colonial occupation of the Korean Peninsula by Imperial Japan in 1910-45.  In addition, environmental activists took part in the rallies, protesting against Japans planned dumping of radioactive wastewater resulting from the Fukushima disaster into the sea. The main content of the meeting of the two leaders can be summarized as follows: Routine rhetoric: the leaders of the two states promised to work on the establishment of future-oriented bilateral relations based on mutual trust; reaffirmed the intention to restore the so-called shuttle diplomacy; Yoon emphasized that cooperation between the two countries is necessary not only for the interests of the two peoples, but also for world peace and prosperity: In the situation where liberal democracy, which has served as a foundation for the international communitys peace and prosperity, is under threat, South Korea and Japan, which share universal values, will have to cooperate through sturdier solidarity. Joint containment of the North (and China, although this was not explicitly mentioned). Prime Minister Kishida and I share the understanding that North Koreas nuclear and missile development poses a serious threat to peace and stability not only on the Korean Peninsula and in Japan, but also in the world, Yoon said. The two sides announced strengthening security cooperation to counter North Koreas nuclear missile program and consultations on regional security issues in the Indo-Pacific region. The trilateral US-ROK-Japan security cooperation has been emphasized, and talks are underway to concretize the agreement reached by the three leaders in November on real-time exchange of warning data on approaching North Korean missiles. In this context, the possibility of interaction as part of the implementation of the Washington Declaration has not been ruled out. As the ROK president noted, The Washington Declaration is not completed, and we have to fill in the details by continuing discussions, and in the process of carrying out joint planning and joint execution. The Economy. The process of returning South Korea to the white list of exports is underway as well as strengthening cooperation between the two countries in order to create a strong supply chain for semiconductor products with the participation of Korean manufacturers and Japanese suppliers of raw materials. Ecology and more. The parties agreed to allow a group of South Korean experts to visit Japan at the end of May to verify the planned release of radioactive water from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The permission is seen by Japan as a gesture of goodwill, as NGOs and the ROK media continued to be hysterical about it, despite monitoring by the IAEA. I hope a meaningful step will be achieved in consideration of our peoples demands for a science-based and objective inspection, Yoon said. The position on the settlement of the issue of compensation for victims of forced labor mobilization during the years of Japanese colonial rule has not changed (through the Korean fund). Yoon confirmed that Seouls decision will not change, calling it the only solution that satisfies both the 1965 agreement that normalized bilateral relations and the 2018 decisions of the South Korean Supreme Court ordering Japanese companies to pay compensation to victims. As part of the settlement of the forced labor dispute, Seoul and Tokyo agreed to form a future partnership fund to facilitate private exchanges and entrusted this work to the Federation of Korean Industry (FKI) and the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren). The parties also ignored historical disputes; rather, on the contrary, Yoon Suk-yeol stated that they need to break from the perception that the two neighbors cannot take even a step forward for future cooperation without a complete resolution of their historical issues. However, it cannot be said that there was no apology. Kishida did not repeat the words of remorse, but said that the Japanese governments commitment to inheriting the positions of past administrations regarding the common history of the two countries is unwavering, referring to the very 1998 declaration in which Keizo Obuchi expressed remorse for the horrendous damage and pain that Japans colonial rule had caused the Korean people. In addition, he stated, My heart aches for those who had to work in harsh environments and went through difficult and sad experiences, and when a reporter asked if his words were addressed to victims of forced labor, Kishida said that he honestly expressed his own personal thoughts about people who had gone through difficult experiences. Critics, however, said that the remark was still not an outright apology, and the next day, a spokesperson for the South Korean president told the Yonhap news agency that Kishidas remark had not been agreed in advance of the summit and came from the heart. In another gesture marking a step forward, the two leaders agreed to jointly commemorate the Korean victims of the atomic bombing at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum during Yoons planned visit to Japan to attend the G7 meeting. On May 8, Kishida held meetings with the heads of six leading concerns in South Korea, including SK Group Chairman Chae Tae-won, who now heads the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry. During his meeting with representatives of the business community of South Korea, the Prime Minister of Japan called on businessmen to work on strengthening cooperation in the field of creating sustainable global supply chains, designing advanced chips, batteries and developing other strategic industries. On the same day, the Japanese Prime Minister met with members of the Korea-Japan Parliamentarians Union. The results of the visit were greeted as expected. Conservatives welcomed the visit as a sign of the return of relations to normal, and a way out of a long and dark tunnel. Not everything turned out as desired: You must not expect too much at the first attempt. It was emphasized that South Korea will only be able to guarantee its survival by fostering trilateral security cooperation among the United States and Japan, especially in the face of the ever-advancing nuclear threats from North Korea. Therefore Trilateral cooperation with the United States and Japan is key to South Koreas security. Historical controversy has been pushed aside: the leader of the parliamentary faction, Yoon Jae-ok said, We must not give up on the future by getting bogged down in the problems of the past. As South Korea and Japan move together towards the future, there will come a time when the two countries can share history with each other.  The opposition Democratic Party criticized Yoon Suk-yeol for turning a blind eye to historical issues and failing to get a sincere apology from Kishida: Why a prerequisite for the resumption of bilateral diplomacy should be the abandonment of our history. Both party leader Lee Jae-myung and other representatives argued that the summit results reflect Yoons position to completely ignore the countrys history and redress the submissive diplomacy of giving away everything. In a separate Facebook post, Lee urged Yoon to pursue the national interest, stating: Restoring shuttle diplomacy without safeguarding national interest only constitutes waste of national resources. Yoons center-right critics made three points. First, Kishida received assurances from President Yoon Suk-yeol that Seoul would not stir up historical controversy, despite domestic opposition. At the same time, he himself said that his heart ached, but did not make an official apology. Second, Japan joins the DPRKs extended deterrence, which will change little in substance but strengthen the symbolism of the trilateral alliance against North Korea and China. Third, Japan is one step closer to dumping contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plants into the Pacific Ocean.   North Korea strongly condemned the summit: Uriminzokkiris propaganda website stated that the military collusion between South Korea and Japan, much wanted by the United States, has entered the stage for it to be recklessly carried out. Then, on May 10, KCNA published a article by Kim Sol Hwa, a researcher at the Institute for Japan Studies of the DPRK Foreign Ministry, which noted the anti-North Korean orientation of the visit and the fact that Japan openly revealed its attempt to get involved in the Washington Declaration, the most typical product of the heinous hostile policy toward the DPRK, which was devised by the U.S. and south Korean rulers. In contrast, the US welcomed the outcome of the South Korea-Japan summit, stating its intention to continue working closely with partners and allies to develop the Indo-Pacific region. As Deputy Spokesperson for the State Department, Vedant Patel said, We welcomed the news from this past week that the Japan-ROK summit took place, and we commend Prime Minister Kishida and President Yoon for their leadershipThis is an important new chapter and a new beginning for our alliance partners and an example of real leadership. Seoul and Tokyo have thus taken an important step forward, but many South Koreans still believe that an official apology for crimes committed during the colonial period is the first prerequisite for improving bilateral relations. According to the results of a survey conducted by Metrix agency commissioned by Yonhap news agency on May 6-7, 55.4 percent of respondents believe so. At the same time, 43.2 percent believe that building a long-term relationship should be conducted separately from efforts to resolve historical disputes. Uncertainty over the future trajectory of relations between Seoul and Tokyo also remains, as Japan continues to lay claim to Dokdo Island and its right-wing politicians periodically visit Yasukuni Shrine, seen as a symbol of their countrys past militarism. Abrupt steps of this kind cannot be ignored by public opinion in the ROK. Be that as it may, the next stage of the Washington-Tokyo-Seoul triangle is the leaders meeting in Hiroshima, where there will probably be new steps and new statements. Konstantin Asmolov, PhD in History, leading research fellow at the Center for Korean Studies of the Institute of China and Modern Asia at the Russian Academy of Sciences, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.” Сообщение Fumio Kishidas visit to South Korea появились сначала на New Eastern Outlook.

[Category: Columns, Eastern Asia, Locations, Politics, South Korea, Japan, ROK, USA, Yoon Suk-yeol]

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[l] at 5/25/23 10:59pm
On the 19th of May, the Financial Times quoted the British Minister of Defense, Ben Wallace, stating that the West could face the threat of full-scale war with Russia and China by the end of the decade and proclaimed defence preparation a paramount task for Western countries. One has to wonder what universe Mr. Wallace and his boss, Rishi Sunak, are living in since Britain is engaged in war with Russia right now, has, with every step, every hostile action, set itself up for a full-scale war, a full-scale catastrophe, which they cannot prevent. Why Britain would go to war with China as well as Russia when China has not threatened it and is oceans away, no one can explain in rational terms. Yet, this is the British rhetoric, the fetishistic parroting of the words of their lord and master, the USA. Many argue that statements, a war is not happening, that it is something that exits only in the future, are desperate attempts to fool the British people, to lie to them about their government’s intentions and what is coming. Others argue that they are signs that the British government has no sense of reality. But, in the end, one has to conclude that they are both at the same time. Worse, these statements speak of a government, that seems to think it is untouchable, that the war with Russia will be limited in geographic space to Ukraine, that Britain’s participation in the war against Russia will have no direct consequences for Britain and its people, that Russia will not dare to follow military and political logic and conduct military strikes against Britain. Nothing could be further from the truth, yet the British establishment, dreaming of its past, is unable to accept reality, is leading the British people towards disaster, as the gathering storm of war edges ever closer to their shores. The deluded thinking in Britain is an extension of the same psychosis that grips all the halls of power in the western world, a psychosis that has its roots in the deeply troubled societies which have developed in the west and whose causes will be the subject of study of future social scientists and historians if there are any. In fact, these governments display observable and classical symptoms of paranoia and delusional disorders, leading to the complete break with reality that constitutes psychosis.  This is a very dangerous state of affairs because someone who is delusional, who has no grip on reality, who cannot make distinctions between reality and imagination or wishful thinking, will make decisions and take actions that are dangerous to everyone around them, in this case, Russia, and beyond, the whole world. Just after Russian began its Special Military Operation, Britain declared its support for Ukraine along with the rest of NATO and announced it would supply it with weapons and munitions to fight Russia. Maria Zakharova, the Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, in response, stated that NATO states providing weapons to Ukraine could be hit in strikes. Ms Zakharova said: “Do we understand correctly that for the sake of disrupting the logistics of military supplies, Russia can strike military targets on the territory of those NATO countries that supply arms to the Kyiv regime? “After all, this directly leads to deaths and bloodshed on Ukrainian territory. As far as I understand, Britain is one of those countries.” The Russian defence ministry, after several attacks inside Russia backed by NATO, has repeatedly said: “We would like to stress that the direct provoking by London of the Kyiv regime into such activities attacking Russian territory, should there be an attempt to realise them, will immediately lead to our proportional response.” In April, when the UK announced it was sending depleted uranium tank shells to Ukraine, Russia said it would respond and did so, destroying those munitions in Ukraine just after they arrived, and now a radioactive cloud is drifting west towards Europe and the UK. Russian warnings of the danger of this happening were ignored. On May 11, Ben Wallace announced a further act of aggression against Russia with the decision to send Storm Shadow cruise missiles to Ukraine, which have since been used to attack civilian centres in Russia. Again, Russia stated clearly that there would be a military response to this action. On May 23, during his visit to Laos, Deputy Head of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev issued another warning, on the day Russian security forces destroyed the Ukrainian raiding force that attacked civilians in the Belgorod region, an openly terrorist action backed by the UK and the other NATO states.  From Vientiane, he stated, “The North Atlantic alliance does not take the threat of nuclear war seriously enough, thus making a big mistake. NATO is not serious about this scenario. Otherwise, NATO would not have supplied such dangerous weapons to the Ukrainian regime. Apparently, they think that a nuclear conflict, or a nuclear apocalypse, is never ever possible. NATO is wrong, and at some point events may take a completely unpredictable turn. The responsibility will be placed squarely on the North Atlantic Alliance, Medvedev pointed out that no one knows whether the point of no return has been passed, No one knows this. This is the main danger. Because as soon as they provide something, they say: let’s supply this, too. Long-range missiles or planes. Everything will be all right. But nothing will be fine. We will be able to cope with it. But only more and more serious types of weapons will be used. That’s what the current trend is.” But Russia can strike using its conventional weapons as well, against which the UK has no defence whatsoever. Still, the British attitude towards these warnings is to call on the magic of “legality” as if they can weave a protective cloak around the island with incantations. Yet, everyone knows that to use incantations to ward off danger, the formula used must have mojo or force; otherwise the words have no effect. In 2022, for example, then Deputy Prime Minister, Dominic Raab, hit back, after Russia suggested it could target British military installations over its support for Ukraine, by branding the Kremlin’s claim “unlawful.” Wallace, Sunak, and others have repeated this claim multiple times. Raab, and the rest, can only be right if Britain had maintained its neutrality in the war between Ukraine and Russia. But, as we know, this is really a war by the USA, Britain and their NATO mafia against Russia and has been all along. Ukraine is the present battlefield. So, for Britain to claim that it has maintained neutrality is an absurdity. A neutral state violates neutrality by breaching its obligation to remain impartial, to not participate in the conflict.  It violates neutrality by supplying warships, aircraft, arms, ammunition, military provisions or other war materials, either directly or indirectly, to a belligerent, by engaging its own military forces, or by supplying military advisors to a party to the armed conflict, by allowing belligerent use of neutral territory as a military base, or for the storage of war material or passage of belligerent troops or munitions in neutral territory, by furnishing troops to a belligerent, or providing or transmitting military intelligence on behalf of a belligerent are also examples of violations of neutrality. A State’s neutrality ends when the State becomes a party to an armed conflict, or, in other words, a belligerent. A State becomes a belligerent under the law of neutrality by either declaring war; or participating in hostilities to a significant extent, or engages in systematic or substantial violations of its duties of impartiality and non-participation. Britain meets all the requirements of a co-belligerent, that is, of a party to the war with Russia; it not only supplies munitions and weapon systems to Ukraine with the objective of attacking Russia and Russian forces in Ukraine it has a direct role in directing the war against Russia, including sending military officers and soldiers to advise and operate with the Ukrainian forces, by preventing any peace negotiations -we remember the action of Boris Johnson just as Ukraine and Russia were about to conclude a peace settlement-by the training of Ukrainian soldiers in Britain and transporting them to the front, by supplying the Ukrainian forces with reconnaissance and intelligence data, actively sending aircraft close to the war zone for this purpose, by providing communications systems, by providing financial aid to Ukraine at the same imposing economic warfare measure on Russia, euphemistically termed “sanctions.  These conditions apply to all the NATO allies, of course, but Britain’s role is an especially egregious one. In fact, Britain’s aggression against Russia began much earlier than 2022. Britain, as part of NATO, supported the insurgency in the Caucasus region in the mid -1990s. Britain took part in the aggression against Yugoslavia in 1999, part of the strategy to attack Russia, eliminating a potential Russian ally, just as Hitler did in 1941. The Georgian attack on Russian forces in 2008 was also supported by NATO. All through this period, the UK government and media put out a constant stream of propaganda against Russia, culminating in the wild claims by the British that Russia tried to use novichok nerve poison to kill two Russian citizens, the Skripals, in the UK.  That incident had one objective, to prepare the minds of the British people for war with Russia. That no one has seen or heard from the Skripals for several years now, that Britain rejects Russia’s right to meet with them to see if they are all right, is never mentioned in the West. They have disappeared, their fate unknown, two expendable pieces on the chessboard of war. Lastly, Russia claims, with some evidence to back up their claims, that the UK was involved, with the US and other NATO nations, in the attack on the NordStream Pipeline, an act of war against both Russia and Germany, though the Germans, still occupied by US forces, are required to accept this humiliation and keep quiet. So British claims that Russia has no legal right to retaliate against it are absurd. Britain, as with all the NATO countries, cannot claim to have a neutral status in the war.  It has become in law and in fact a party to the war. It follows that any action taken by Russia against the UK to force the UK to stop its assistance to Ukraine and end its participation in the war against Russia will be legitimate under international law and justified under the ancient military doctrine that a nation cannot suffer the attack of another without retaliating to stop the attack and making sure that another attack will not follow. The NATO gang’s claim of acting in “collective self defence,” a phrase Ben Wallace likes to use a lot, so that they can claim to maintain a neutral status, is not a valid or logical one and does not apply. It is clear that the USA and NATO have been planning an attack on Russia for a long time, and the Ukraine war is a part of this attack. The conspiracy to commit aggression has been developed over decades. Part of the preparation for the war was the overthrow of the elected government of Ukraine and the installation in its place of a puppet government that was then used to attack the Donbass and Russia itself.  They now openly admit that the Minsk Accords were a ruse to stall Russia while they prepared the Ukrainian forces for war against Russia. Further, they cannot rely on Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, since that clause can only be invoked if there is an unprovoked Russian attack on a NATO country. But when a NATO country attacks Russia, and here we have them all joining in the attack, it is the aggressor and therefore cannot claim to be are acting in self-defence. It is also important to bear in mind Article I of the NATO Treaty, since it requires NATO to act in conformity with the UN Charter. It states “Article 1 The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.” But the NATO nations have done the exact opposite. They have blocked peace at every turn and push Ukraine to keep the war going. Their forces are directly involved.  They have even attempted to expand their military bloc by inviting Finland and Sweden to join the war alliance, in order to increase the forces available to them, with one purpose, to prosecute the war against Russia. They now openly state their objective is to destroy Russia.  So, the NATO nations are not only active co-belligerents in the war, they are, in fact, the main protagonists of the enemy camp that Russia faces.  They are, therefore, all legitimate targets. But is an attack likely, and what will its nature be, and what will be the consequences? These are questions only the Russian General Staff can know and foresee. We can only speculate. But speculation can be useful, especially for the British people to realise the danger their criminal government is putting them in. Medvedev warns again of the dangers of nuclear war, but Russia has no need to resort to that to retaliate against Britain. Conventional stand-off weapons will be more effective, and what can the UK do if a strike on military airfields takes place, on port facilities, to stop the shipment of weapons, on army bases where Ukrainian soldiers are trained, on warehouses storing munitions and weapons marked for shipment to Ukraine, or eliminating the UK Trident nuclear submarine force in Scotland, or any number of other targets they could select? They can do nothing.  The National and Defence Strategies Research Group based in the UK stated in a report on Britain’s air defences in 2016, that, “Since the withdrawal from service of the Bloodhound missile system in the 1980s, the UK’s Air Defence posture has diminished to mainly a homeland benign airspace policing and point defence posture for deployed forces. The UK no longer has a comprehensive, integrated, or robustly layered short to long-range Air Defence capability, nor a credible or enduring operational capacity.” Nothing has changed since then, except to get worse. In other words, the UK is defenceless against modern Russian stand-off weapons. I can remember, as a boy, my mother taking me several times on a bus through London. It must have been 1955 or so and I can remember mile upon mile of burnt-out blackened buildings, as far as the eye could see, especially in east London where entire districts were levelled by German bombs.  The country, despite its heroic RAF fighter pilots, could not stop the bombing and then missile attacks which went on for five years. The British government assured the people before that war, that all would be well, that they would have peace in their time.  But they lied to the people then, as they are lying to them now.  Britain was never the same after that war. It never really recovered from it. Once again, the British government, ever saluting the masters in Washington, leads the British people into a dangerous war, which they were never asked about, and which they do not want. It lies to them about the causes, it lies to them about the fighting, and it lies to them about the dangers they face, placing them in a distant future, and hides from them the consequences of its actions.  The British people must be warned.  Britain is at war, and no amount of bluffing and lying can protect them from the consequences their government is provoking. They are predictable and they will be catastrophic. Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto. He is known for a number of high-profile war crimes cases and recently published his novel Beneath the Clouds. He writes essays on international law, politics and world events, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”. Сообщение Britain At War-Provoking The Consequences появились сначала на New Eastern Outlook.

[Category: Columns, Locations, Politics, armament, Geopolitics, Great Britain, Russia, Russia s Special Military Operation]

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[l] at 5/25/23 6:59am
On May 10, an earlier announced meeting of the foreign ministers of the Astana format participants Russia, Iran, Turkey and Syria took place in Moscow. It should be noted that this summit of representatives of the Quartet took the baton from the heads of defense departments. The latter shows that Russia, as the initiator of the Middle East dialogue on the settlement of the Syrian crisis, demonstrates a systematic approach covering all important aspects of the remaining contradictions between Damascus and Ankara. Accordingly, the meetings of the heads of foreign intelligence agencies, defense and diplomatic departments of Russia, Iran, Turkey and Syria are designed to discuss and find new opportunities to resolve the Syrian crisis, as well as to develop proposals for the preparation of the summit at the highest level. It is no secret that the main subject of the Quartet’s meetings in this format was the restoration of Turkish-Syrian relations and the resolution of sharp contradictions. The fact that the Moscow summit of foreign ministers took place three days before the general elections in Turkey, to which the attention of key regional and global players is riveted, suggests that the administration of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is positive about restoring relations with Syria while satisfying Turkish interests (primarily in the field of security). Moreover, more than a million Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons who found themselves in neighboring Turkey have now become participants in local elections. The topic of Syrian refugees (IDPs) for election purposes is actively used by the opposition to criticize the Turkish authorities. In turn, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the Popular Republican Party and the “Popular Alliance” bloc, has already indicated the restoration of relations with Syria and the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland as one of his policy theses should he win. In addition to the political context, the topic of Syrian refugees has an important socio-economic aspect for Turkey in the situation of the devastating earthquake and severe financial and economic crisis. That is why President Erdoğan is forced to show a more flexible stance in terms of Turkish-Syrian relations, exclude new conflict approaches and aim at a constructive dialogue with Syria in cooperation with influential regional players such as Russia and Iran. Of course, the general public does yet not know the full content of the talks held in Moscow and the agreements, or at least the understandings and hopes, reached. After the two Moscow summits of the Quartet, both Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu spoke positively about the talks that took place and expressed their satisfaction and hopes for their continuation. Çavuşoğlu assessed the Moscow summit positively: “The meeting was constructive and effective. As parties to the process, we reaffirmed our commitment to Syria’s territorial integrity, we have a common approach to combating terrorism, we emphasized the importance of the political process and joint work on humanitarian issues.” From this short opinion of the main Turkish diplomat it follows that Turkey recognizes the territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic (SAR) with the exclusion of any new quasi-entities in its Kurdish-populated provinces. In other words, Ankara, together with Moscow, Tehran and Damascus, opposes the American course of speculation on the suffering of Syria’s Kurdish population. There is nothing new in the approach of Turkey and Syria, because in the twentieth century all Middle Eastern countries with the historical Kurdish community (particularly Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran), despite the presence of various interstate controversies, have always found an understanding and a common approach to the threat of ethnic separatism (in this case the Kurdish question), heated from the outside. Accordingly, at the Moscow table, the parties found a “common approach to combating terrorism.” Translated from diplomatic language, this could mean that Turkey, together with Syria and its other partners (the Russian Federation and the IRI), regards pro-American Kurdish and other militant organizations as terrorist organizations that must be eliminated and destroyed. It is no coincidence that at a meeting with his Iranian, Turkish and Syrian counterparts, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted that the US has stepped up work to create a so-called Army of Free Syria around Raqqa, involving fighters from ISIS (a terrorist organization banned in Russia), representatives of other terrorist groups and members of local Arab tribes. Washington’s goal is to destabilize the situation in Syria through the use of fighters against the legitimate authorities of the SAR. Accordingly, in the face of such a threat, Turkey and Syria, based on their national interests, find a unified approach against the forces of international terrorism. The issues of the subsequent withdrawal of Turkish troops from part of the northern territories of Syria and the return of Syrian refugees from the south-eastern regions of Turkey will require, firstly, time, secondly, the continuation of the political process of dialogue and, thirdly, humanitarian cooperation. As a result, Turkey and Syria decided to continue constructive negotiations. In his turn, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, positively assessing the May meeting with his colleagues, rightly stressed that the success of the Turkish-Syrian relations will provide new prospects and opportunities for the “Astana format” of resolving the Syrian crisis and strengthening Middle East security. The resolution of the acute Turkish-Syrian contradictions with Russia’s assistance and Iran’s participation will certainly create new realities in the Middle East. In fact, the US and its diplomacy will lose ground in the region, where key players will show determination to restore peace and order in Syria with their own capabilities. Following this, a new page of successful diplomacy could open for Turkey to form a sustainable regional security in partnership with Russia, Iran, Syria (other countries of the Arab East) and China. Is this not the prospect of the real embodiment of Ahmet Davutoğlu’s neo-Ottoman thesis of “zero problems with neighbors”? Aleksandr SVARANTS, PhD in political science, professor, exclusively for the online journal “New Eastern Outlook.” Сообщение Yet another success of Russia’s Middle East diplomacy появились сначала на New Eastern Outlook.

[Category: Columns, Locations, Middle East, Politics, International politics, Iran, Russia, Russia in the Middle East, Syria, Turkey]

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[l] at 5/25/23 3:59am
Congressmen from the United States are provoking Beijing and making serious preparations for a military conflict with China over Taiwan. Florida’s Republican Senator Mark Rubio introduced ‘The Deterring Chinese Preemptive Strikes Act’ to Congress in the first week of May to fortify American military bases in the Pacific against potential missile assaults from Beijing. The text of the document was published on May 11 on the website of the congressman, who, citing data from analysts, predicts that in anticipation of a potential military invasion of Taiwan, China will attempt to strike and neutralize American military facilities in the Asia-Pacific region. As conceived by Rubio, the future law directs the US Department of Defense to strengthen its armed forces in the Indo-Pacific region to “help further deter a preemptive strike by China against the US military before invading Taiwan.” A detailed inventory and reinforcement of all shelter types for American military aircraft stationed in the first, second, and third island chains in the Indo-Pacific region will be required, according to a directive to the Pentagon. To be fair, it should be acknowledged that American lawmakers have recently displayed provocative behavior that has consciously fueled the conflict around Taiwan and raised a level of military tension in the Asia-Pacific region. As a consequence of this, after the then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the island in early August 2022, the situation in the Taiwan Strait significantly deteriorated. Beijing, which views Taiwan as one of its provinces, interpreted this action by US senators as evidence that Washington is in favor of Taiwan independence. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) retaliated the day after with extensive drills and missile shooting in six different locations of the island’s waters. Then, in January of this year, Republican Mike McCaul, a Texas-based member of the US House of Representatives and the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, declared that there was a “very high likelihood” that the United States and China would engage in battle over Taiwan. He also stated that if Beijing fails to secure bloodless rule over the island, the Chinese will consider launching a military assault. This public announcement came shortly after the scandalous revelation was leaked to the media on January 27 of this year made by US Air Force Four-Star General Mike Minihan, who warned his subordinates in a memo that the US would go to war with China in 2025 and instructed them to report on actions to prepare for war with China. Bakhtiar Urusov, a political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.” Сообщение Washington is escalating military tensions in the Asia-Pacific region появились сначала на New Eastern Outlook.

[Category: Asian-Pacific region, Columns, Locations, Politics, China, Taiwan, taiwan issue, USA]

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[l] at 5/24/23 10:59pm
After more than a year of behind-the-scenes diplomacy, Syria’s membership in the Arab League of States (LAS) was finally restored when Arab foreign ministers reached a consensus on an issue that has been causing sharp divisions since the start of the Syrian crisis 12 years ago. On May 7, the Arab League’s foreign ministers adopted a resolution by which they decided to readmit the Syrian Arab Republic into the LAS. The decision was taken on the eve of the Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia on May 19 and against the background of the rapid normalization of the region’s relations with Damascus in recent weeks. The move is further evidence of warming relations between Damascus and other Arab governments. And there is no doubt that this was a huge diplomatic victory for President Bashar al-Assad, who at one point, before Russian military aid in 2015, was on the verge of collapse. The new Arab approach to resolving the complex Syrian crisis is based on a number of factors. More than a decade of unsuccessful attempts to find a political settlement to end this brutal civil war have led to a deadly stalemate, with parts of the country under regime control and others under direct or indirect foreign occupation or influence. It ceased to be an internal crisis almost as soon as it erupted, because it involved regional and external actors who supported various opposition groups, both politically and militarily. One must not forget the grim episodes of foreign extremists infiltrating Syria to join the terrorists and criminals who filled the vacuum left by the regime to create a disgusting anti-utopian society. Similarly, the documented atrocities committed by these terrorists, including the use of chemical weapons, will continue to demand investigation, accountability, and a final reckoning. The impasse in Syria has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in all parts of the country, as evidenced by the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in February. Moreover, regional and global geopolitical shifts have changed views on how best to approach the Syrian crisis. Most Arab leaders have agreed that the current “status quo policy” is unsustainable amid shifting priorities, needs and challenges. What is important to note here is that the process of a kind of rehabilitation of the Syrian regime is only the beginning. The step-by-step approach is open-ended, and it will be years before there is a genuine end to the Syrian tragedy. Meanwhile, the essence of the new approach is based on finding a working Arab formula that complies with UN resolutions on Syria and previous agreements and in other directions, such as Geneva and Astana, while achieving national reconciliation. This is not an easy task, and the recent decision of the Arab League to resolve this conflict is to be welcomed. One thing to note here is that any genuine approach to resolving the crisis in Syria, which includes political reforms, the return of refugees and displaced persons, the dismantling of the drug smuggling network, and an end to the foreign presence, above all that of US troops, on Syrian soil, must be considered while maintaining the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Syria and, among other things, must be based on a mutual formula. This means that the legitimate government in Damascus and the opposition should give a clear response to this Arab initiative and should soon fully disclose their position on these and many other issues. For Damascus to state its position on the aforementioned issues is crucial if the new Arab approach is to become a lifeline. Bashar al-Assad is unlikely to abandon his Iranian allies, although he may make token gestures regarding the presence of non-state players. But it will probably be a long time before he signals any concessions on important issues such as writing Syria’s new constitution. There is also the problem of the Syrian Kurds, including their demands for self-rule and the issue of the illegal presence of US troops on Syrian territory. Washington’s reaction to this latest diplomatic breakthrough has been very predictable and sharply negative. A State Department spokesman stated that Syria did not deserve to be rebuilt, but that the US supported the Arab League’s long-term goal of resolving the crisis in Syria. British Minister of State Lord Ahmad stated that the UK remains “opposed to engagement with the Assad regime.” The fact that Washington’s key Arab partners, such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and the UAE, are now actively supporting the political rehabilitation of Syria sends a strong signal to Washington that its failed policy in this Arab country has completely collapsed and does not deserve much attention at present. The new Arab momentum must be actively pursued in light of the historic rapprochement between Riyadh and Tehran and its implications for the entire region, including Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. A broader perspective should include more vigorous Russian involvement to end the Syrian-Turkish rift, which could be decided by the results of Turkey’s presidential election in mid-May. This is the position taken by Russia, which welcomed the Arab League’s decision, expressing hope that the move would create a “healthier atmosphere” in the West Asian region. “Moscow welcomes this long-awaited step, which was a logical result of the process of Syria’s return to the ‘Arab family’,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said. “We proceed from the premise that the restoration of Syria’s participation in operations [of the League of Arab States], as it is one of the organization’s founding countries, will contribute to improving the atmosphere in the Middle East region and overcoming the consequences of the Syrian crisis as soon as possible,” the TASS news agency quoted Maria Zakharova as saying. An important quadrilateral meeting between Iran, Syria, Russia and Turkey at the level of foreign ministers has just been held in the Russian capital, Moscow. The meeting is a giant step forward in terms of ending the differences between Turkey and Syria, which have been at odds for the past decade. The meeting was made possible by a series of technical discussions that took place between the four states in Moscow in early April. Although some international issues were also on the agenda, the meeting in Moscow focused primarily on the normalization of relations between Ankara and Damascus. The diametrically opposed positions of Syria and Turkey since the Syrian crisis began in 2011 have seriously undermined their relations. When the Syrian government regained control of most of its lost territory, Turkey has taken steps to normalize relations with Syria through the mediation of Russia and Iran. The meeting in Moscow is further evidence that Syria is overcoming crisis and war, a trend that has prompted Turkey and many Arab states to restore ties with Damascus. Saudi Arabia, now the informal leader of the Arab world, has reopened its diplomatic missions in Damascus. There is now speculation that Syria’s president may attend the upcoming Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia, which has already officially extended an invitation to Assad to attend the summit. The meeting in Moscow also provided a friendly atmosphere for bilateral meetings between foreign ministers. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian held separate meetings with his Syrian, Russian and Turkish counterparts. In a meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, Amir-Abdollahian congratulated him on Syria’s return to the Arab League and expressed Iran’s support for Turkish-Syrian normalization. Amir-Abdollahian described the meeting in Moscow as a step forward in his meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.  He also noted that the meeting in Moscow would have a strong message of peace and sustainable security in the region and strengthening good neighborliness between Turkey and Syria. As things stand, Turkey and Syria are making progress in restoring their ties. Full resumption of ties, however, is hindered by the fact that Turkish troops are illegally present on Syrian territory, thereby violating the territorial integrity of the Arab country. This issue was raised in Moscow. For Syria’s Arab neighbors, namely Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, the latest developments are undoubtedly taken, as they say, to heart. Amman, for example, views the smuggling of a drug called “Captagon” across its 360-kilometer border with Syria as a threat to national security. There are indications that it was the Jordanian Air Force that carried out the deadly strike on the drug factory, killing the most wanted Syrian drug lord in the process. This is indicative of Amman’s new strategy for dealing with this threat, which, according to various reports, involves members of the opposition actively supported by the US and its allies. Jordan and Lebanon are seeking solutions that will allow the voluntary return of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees to their homeland and thereby relieve the financial burden on these very poor Arab states. Iraq and Jordan, meanwhile, want to secure their borders with Syria to control smuggling as well as to eliminate ISIS (banned in Russia) militants who continue to pose a threat to both countries. Negotiations with the Syrian government to resolve a long list of issues, either bilaterally or through an Arab League committee, will not be easy. The survival of the legitimate government in Damascus has come at a high cost, and new realities have emerged on the ground that will make it difficult for Bashar al-Assad and the opposition to reach mutual concessions. But in the absence of alternatives, the current path seems the only one that makes sense. There is hope that Damascus will see sense in preserving the benefits of its return to the Arab fold, while the opposition will meet the aspirations of Syrians and both sides, with the help of their international friends, will do their part to overcome the pervasive political stalemate. Viktor Mikhin, corresponding member of RANS, exclusively for the online journal “New Eastern Outlook.” Сообщение Syria: the path to conflict resolution is open появились сначала на New Eastern Outlook.

[Category: Columns, Locations, Middle East, Politics, Syria, Russia, SaudiArabia, Syrian Conflict, Turkey]

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[l] at 5/24/23 6:59am
Very seldom is something that can be so beneficial for one country attracted the wrath of so many others, as in the reaction to Russia affording Georgia visa-free status and direct flights, after so many years of travel and visa restrictions, recriminations, and name-calling. The US and the Georgian president also want to stop flights from resuming between the neighboring countries, which were suspended last year in the wake of the Ukrainian civil war, Russia’s special operation, and in light of the US-EU instigating anti-Russian protests in Georgia and other countries. Those speaking out the loudest are those who are the least involved and who are not stakeholders in what should make most Georgians happy: being able to freely visit family and friends in Russia without the need for complicated and expensive visa applications and having to travel overland to Russia. This can potentially be a game changer, as now the US is threatening Georgia, “The Beacon of Democracy” with sanctions. Winners and losers The US Ambassador, Kelly Degnan, has made it clear in her statements that the US is very upset over the decision of the Georgian government to look after its own best interests in her many remarks. On May 11, spoke about Moscows decision to resume flights with Georgia and noted that the United States cannot comment on whether this decision will affect Georgias EU candidate status. At least it is good to know that she is not making policy decisions for the EU. The United States is not in the European Parliament, so we don’t have anything to do with those decisions, told the US Ambassador.  She noted that Putin is doing this not out of the goodness of his heart [lifting visa restrictions] and “how no one believes that the Russian president cares about the comfort of Georgian passengers”. Others are also closing ranks with the EU and US in labeling to Russia’s decision to lift the visa regime and direct flight ban with Georgia, describing it as a provocative offer and an apparent attempt to increase Georgia’s dependency on Russia. Meanwhile, the lame duck US Ambassador continues by saying claiming how We have seen that sometimes Putin uses the presence of Russians in the country to interfere in this country, and how many Georgians are already worried about the arrival of hundreds of thousands of Russians in Georgia, and now we hear from the Russian Tourism Agency that as a result of the resumption of direct flights, perhaps, another million will come. I am sure many Georgians would take exception to the rhetoric of the US Embassy, as [they know] firsthand the value that Russian citizens have added to the Georgia economy, especially in terms of the real estate market and bringing new skills, human resources, and investments to Georgia, and being active consumers. As one Georgian university student, who has family in Russia, shared with me, “for Georgians whose family members live in Russia as immigrants: resuming direct flights between these two countries is really beneficial! As long as Russians are not free from visa regulations and cant stay in Georgia for more than 12 months, everything is fine. The West tries to make the relationship between Georgia and Russia worse, but the authorities arent allowing that.” According to the US State Department, “If direct flights between Russia and Georgia are restored, we will, of course, be concerned that companies in Georgian airports may face the risk of bankruptcy if they serve aircraft subject to import and export controls.” It is interesting to see how what most Georgians welcome as normalization of relations is being reacted to, especially by the figurehead Georgian president, Salome Zurabishvili, the lifting of restrictions as a 2019 flight ban was quickly denounced by Georgia’s president as a “provocation.” Earning frequent flyer points But already some are trying to earn frequent flyer points from the decision, Giorgi Pkhaladze one former airport employee, who used the Vladimir Putins cancellation of the visa regime for Georgian citizens, to draw attention to himself or to his political sponsors. Later it was learned that he left the job for other reasons, aside from perhaps using his departure as a political ploy, and he only worked at the airport as a parking lot attendant. Pkhaladze, an employee of Tbilisi International Airport, said: I will not serve people flying from Russia on a direct flight!!! I wrote a statement about leaving my job, resignation, and effective May 19 I will no longer work at Tbilisi International Airport! Tbilisi and Batumi International Airports governing company, TAV Georgia—a Turkish company, responded, explaining that his employment status contained several inaccuracies. We find it necessary to explain that Giorgi Phkhaladze addressed the companys human resources management service on May 1 of this year with an announcement of his resignation. Accordingly, his resignation will not be in any connection with the lifting of the ban on flights to Georgia for Russian airlines, which was announced on May 10. It is also noteworthy that Giorgi Pkhaladze, who worked as a cashier-operator at the parking lot of Tbilisi International Airport, had nothing to do with flight services. Accordingly, it is completely inappropriate to talk on his part that those who fly from Russia will not be served Olive Branch or Provocation? Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili said in a post on Twitter on May 10 that Putin’s dual decrees were “another provocation.”  She describes the moves “as being completely unacceptable and coming at an inappropriate time. We do not need gifts from Russia, masked as some kind of a concession. In todays situation, we are on the same side as all our European friends!” She goes on to describe how the action “might serve to cover up their [alleged] failures in Bakhmut, “I don’t know how to describe it, but this might have served to cover up where they are unable to demonstrate strength. It might also have been a response to the new eleventh package of sanctions announced by the EU … describing it as it can be [many things] but most importantly for us, this is a provocation to challenge our society” and how it presents a very BIG challenge to the Georgian government. She is correct when she says that “this will undoubtedly cause some kind of tension between the political parties, [as their only claim] to fame is complicating and Russian baiting at every opportunity. The claimed Pro-Western opposition parties issued a joint statement, accusing the ruling Georgian Dream of “once again” endangering Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic future, pointing out that the countrys international isolation may bring it under Russia’s dominance. Girchi-More Freedom, Droa, StrategyAgmashenebeli, Lelo, UNM, and European Georgia pledged to “do everything to change this regime democratically.” They are constantly trying to prove to their outside sponsors, especially American, that they are more anti-Russian than the other parties. Apart from the former ruling UNM, these last leg parties are polling in the low single digits, and any future they may have may likely depend on outside sponsors. As Salome goes on and on, it becomes clear that her own personal motivations are “most likely” funded by outsiders. She is not speaking for Georgia or the Georgian people, “I am sure that it will not cause any tension within society, but rather a very big reaction.  She explains how “Our Society understands very well that Russia is taking such steps based on its own self-interest.” Do the Russians know a way that others don’t know as well? Every country, especially fledgling democracies, must act in according to their self-interests and not be too easily manipulated by outsiders. Georgians know only too well the results of listening to special interests in the US, back during the 2008 US presidential elections, and how a protracted war would have been good for John McCain, as ordered. The price Georgia had to pay was high as a direct result. It is just the opposite as Zurabishvili, explains in her broken Georgian language diatribe, “Unfortunately, our government has not yet understood, has not thought about our history, and it has not thought about all the existing examples that Russia never responds to the government’s concessions with concessions. Rather, it will respond with something that will make one’s situation more difficult. This is its constant behavior and I think the government should think about it. As if Twitter Matters, Salome? I have already expressed my position on Twitter, [as if she has no other forum]. I believe that this is completely unacceptable and [comes at] an inappropriate time. “We do not need visa removals, nor do we need to restore flights.” Certainly, she is not speaking for the Georgian people, or those who try to make it to the US, cross the US border illegally, where they face violence and death on the way, having to borrow and sell all they have to start new lives. Only too often, based on stories that I have been told, they find themselves living in the street and the American Dream proves only too soon a nightmare experience, and they wished they had never left Georgia. She continues, “As long as Russia remains the aggressor over the whole world and the occupiers of our territories, such gestures are really untimely and unacceptable! I call on the government to make its position clear. It is time, as I have repeatedly requested, for the National Security Council to meet publicly and discuss the three-month visa imposition that we need, even given the internal challenge.” She calls for more needed “governmental control over those Russians who enter and stay in Georgia, and [how it is] necessary to take some measures so that all of this falls into a normal, civilized framework.” We are a very tolerant country, we accept everyone, and this has been shown last year, but some things cannot happen in the country: Russian-language kindergartens cannot be opened, where teaching the Georgian language will not be mandatory. We cannot avoid imposing some measures on different professions. And adds …“What are the requirements for people of this, or that profession; this means, the licensing of even taxi drivers, tour guides, and many other professions. Her justification for imposing such “European values” is that “this will serve to protect our society and this will be the right response to today’s provocation. We do not need gifts from Russia, masked as some kind of concession. In today’s situation, we are on the same side of all of our European friends. Naturally, “this is to protect the honor of Georgia by avoiding starting some kind of relationship with Russia, and unlike everyone else in the world … that will make everything difficult for us, even in terms of our country’s accusations of circumventing sanctions. I can confirm that there is no such threat from Georgia today, but we should not create a situation that will intensify these accusations and make it harder to defend ourselves against them. Good that you are certain of something! Therefore, I once again appeal to the government to listen to the voice of the people, and not to the power of the people!” I am certain that people are united around this subject, and not only because this represents yet another decision that might challenge the decision [for the EU] to grant us candidacy status but because this goes against Georgia’s interests and its honor. We know where our country, with its occupied territories and its solidarity with friendly Ukraine, stands. This is our position and we must remain loyal to the end—this is the request of our society.  I am certain that if events develop differently, which I hope they will not, society will also respond to it.” You would think they [some people and many politicians] would understand that if Georgia ever wants its territory back, or in part, it needs to have good relations with Russia and learn to negotiate and not toss fuel on the fire. Commentary is in her very words Salome may be technically the president, and one thing is for sure, most of what she has proclaimed is not shared by the same populace that she claims to speak for, and society is looking forward to the best offers it can get from all its friends, close and far. Why is she not making such heart-moving speeches on the EU’s refusal to offer Georgia Candidacy status or NATO’s unfilled promises to open membership, since 2008?  Those are moot issues, and need not be discussed, as they are known to most readers and most Georgians. Even VOA, Voice of America,(recognized in the Russia as a foreign media agent)  a mouthpiece for US propaganda gets sometimes right, Zurabishvili, whose post is largely ceremonial, has often accused the ruling Georgian Dream party of having closer ties to Moscow since being elected with its backing in 2018. But it fails to mention how she was elected, and the pressure applied by both the US and the EU to give her this “largely ceremonial” post. Now we know why, and what are her assigned duties, as if she is legitimately speaking about “what is in the best interests of Georgia and Georgians, and if she actually knows anything about conflict resolution and what is REALLY needed to resolve issues of territorial integrity between Georgia and its breakaway regions. According to the AP, quoting a Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement, Putin’s decrees, “are in line with our principled approach of consistently facilitating the conditions for communication and contacts between the citizens of Russia and Georgia, despite the absence of diplomatic relations.” As one 15-year-old Georgian schoolgirl, with dual Georgian-Russian citizenship, sums up the Georgian president’s: “Zurabishvili doesnt care about some Georgians and only sees the negative side of resuming flights and is speaking on behalf of the West.” My Georgian daughter-in-law, who now lives in the US, and is a former Georgian flight attendant, wrote me as this was going to press, and I am sure many Georgians feel the same. “I have an aunt in Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia, she is my mother’s sister and at least I will be able to see her and her family.  I’m very happy that the current government wants to have good relations with its neighbor, as if Saakashvili’s government was there now, they would never consider it.” Henry Kamens, columnist, expert on Central Asia and Caucasus, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook” Сообщение US Threatens Georgia with Sanction: “The Beacon of Democracy” over direct flights and visa free travel появились сначала на New Eastern Outlook.

[Category: Caucasus, Columns, Economics, Georgia, Locations, Economic cooperation, International politics, Russia]

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[l] at 5/24/23 3:59am
Together with India, China and Japan form today the strategic triangle on which the political and economic situation in Asia will increasingly depend. The latter however is the continent where the focus of the current stage of the Great Game is shifting more and more definitely. Leaving the territory of another continent, which for centuries, if not millennia, was Europe. Though the terms shifting and leaving do not refer to a fait accompli, but to a process. If we add to the latter term the definition of transitional, we get a phrase that more or less adequately describes the state in which the world order as a whole finds itself today. The focus is really moving from Europe to Asia, but it has not yet completely left the former. And the events of the last year in the east of the European continent, which are stirring up the whole world, only confirm this fact. The continuing importance of Europes place in the modern world order (despite the not infrequent skepticism on this issue) is also confirmed by such crucial specifics as the scale and the level of development of its economy. Both in general and especially in the leading European countries. Until recently, Europes presence in Asia was manifested almost entirely in the form of various kinds of interaction with Asian countries in the economic sphere. For example, by the annual volume of trade with China, the EU has long been firmly in first place, and is noticeably ahead of the United States, which comes second. At the end of 2022, the respective figures were $860 billion and $690 billion. But for the last two or three years there has been also a certain military-political activation of Europeans outside their continent in general and in the Asia-Pacific region in particular. Naturally, all aspects and problems of interaction between leading Asian countries and Europeans are the subject of negotiations between high-ranking representatives of both. Moreover, while there is no ambiguity in the representation of the former, both the leaders of individual (mostly also crucial) European countries and senior EU officials speak on behalf of Europe. Noticeably, the most resounding foreign policy statements on behalf of the Old Continent are uttered by the latter, the mystery of whose very origin, as they say, is great. And almost certainly it can hardly be defined by the category of democracy. Let us also note that recently there have been signs of inconsistency in the behavior of leading European countries in the international arena in general and in relations with Asian partners in particular. This has been particularly evident in the recent series of visits to China by a number of European politicians, which took on the character of a pilgrimage. Moreover, this discord is observed even between politicians belonging to the same country. It is not easy for French President Macron today in his home country after his mostly positive trip to China. Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder is also subject to unprecedented defamation in his home country. Only because he actively participated in the Nord Stream-2 project. It is hard to imagine a more pro-German business project that fully corresponds to the 50-year-old New Eastern Policy of Willy Brandt. It was a successful framework for Germanys relations with the USSR. Both the mentioned project, and Gerhard Schröder himself are lambasted today by flawed subjects (of different genders), who apparently speak their native language no more often than English. Therefore, the composition of the political establishment with whom the representatives of the leading Asian countries have to deal on the European continent is becoming increasingly complex and confusing. Which to a certain extent reflects the process of fragmentation of the European political organism, which once included (to its misfortune) a parasitic group of small Eastern European political-economic racketeers. Some of them are simply bandits on the great trans-European highway. Each time they arrive in Europe, the representatives of the leading Asian players see before them an increasingly complex picture of the state of affairs on the continent. In this respect, Europeans, who, again, are showing more and more varied interest in Asia, have an easier life. Because there has long been no doubt about the positioning of two of Asias three main partners, China and Japan, vis-à-vis each other. Namely: this positioning is becoming more and more mutually competitive (to put it mildly). And there is no light at the end in this (negative for all) tunnel, judging by the results of the recent talks in Beijing by the foreign ministers of both countries, Yuu Hayashi and Qin Gan. In the first half of May this year, they both found themselves on the European continent almost simultaneously, each dealing with his own (or rather those of the countries they represent) problems, which are of a fundamentally different nature. For China, the relevance of the issue of developing relations with Europe is due, we repeat, above all to the fact that it is its main trading partner. This is extremely important for a country whose economy is still largely export-oriented, despite ongoing efforts to turn inward. In addition, recently, with a sharp increase in the level of confrontation with its main geopolitical opponent (the United States), the importance of the political component in Chinas relations with the Europeans has grown significantly. The task at hand looks very simple: to keep Europe from joining Washingtons global strategy of military and political encirclement of China. Both of these aspects determine Beijings preferences for individual European countries. Among them, Germany and France are the undisputed leaders. Until recently, Italy was one of them. But the recent outbursts by its leadership on the Taiwan issue and its intention to withdraw from cooperation with China in the Belt and Road Initiative will undoubtedly have a negative impact on its relations with the second world power. Not being an expert on Italy, the author does not understand why it needed such (mis)adventures and so far explains them by the specific temperament of its sympathetic people. However, this is probably a weak explanation. Since for the people with the opposite temperament, which are the British, things with China did not work out either. Although in the middle of last decade, Prime Minister Cameron, receiving Chinese leader Xi Jinping, spoke about the onset of the golden age in British-Chinese relations. However, during the premiership of his successor, Teresa May, who replaced him as prime minister, there occurred a sort of tumbler switch in UK foreign policy. At that time, by the way, the Skripals were strangely poisoned. In general, since then, British politics have somehow gone awry. Suddenly and for some reason, a seemingly healed sore with the situation in Hong Kong made itself felt. Although all Beijing had decided was to finally pacify the especially violent fighters against Chinese communism, who were openly nostalgic for the former (British) times of freedom and democracy. Which, in fact, had nowhere been to be seen. Then British aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth for some reason rolled through the Taiwan Strait, thus completing a seven-month exercise in the Indian Ocean and the Far East, which had began in May 2021. Finally (May 10 this year), it was reported that the penultimate UK Prime Minister Elizabeth Truss was scheduled to visit Taiwan. In general, the British component of Chinas relations with Europeans looks the worst so far. Although it remains unclear whether the British see themselves as Europeans. But Japans relations with the latter (of all Europeans) look the best. As has almost always been the case in modern history. What falls out of this overall assessment is the relatively short period on the eve and throughout World War II. The sharp acceleration of their restoration began with the 2016 visit to Japan by the above mentioned Theresa May. When, after the well-known results of the just held plebiscite on the question of the countrys further stay in the EU, it was decided once again to search for happiness east of Suez. However, if it is measured, as they say, in hard cash, then the British purse did not see much more of it in the course of the searching (which has been going on for a decade already). Mainly because it is still being substantially filled in Europe and it is absolutely unclear why the British business needs to take it to the other side of the globe. Although it is positive to note that early this year the UK completed the procedure of joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). By the way, the unspoken leader of the CPTPP is Japan, with whose patronage the UK has joined the Agreement. But the main thrust of Japans relations with the UK (and Europe in general) is rooted not in the economy, but in defense and security, which the two sides placed at the center of their attention even during Mays visit to Japan. This, incidentally, is one of the main differences in the positioning of Japan and China on the European continent. Today the NATO alliance is trying to speak for Europe on this issue, increasingly acquiring the character of a dinosaur-parasite on the continent’s body, poisoning its entire space. The products of its activity are the mentioned Eastern European limitrophe states, playing the role of peripheral metastases on the same body. One of the landmark events in the course of the (long-standing) process of developing relations between Japan and NATO was the decision to mutually open permanent missions. The evaluation (quite understandable) of this decision by its main object is reflected in the illustration of the Chinese Global Times. The military and political rapprochement of the UK (and NATO) with Japan perfectly fits into the trend of the Japanese-British development of the Generation 6 fighter aircraft which began a few years ago. Italy joined this project in March 2023. A remarkable fact, given the context in which that country was mentioned above. So far there is no evidence of France and Germany virtually joining it, relations with which are currently given special attention in the PRC. At any rate, it is not mentioned in the Japan-France Joint Statement adopted following the May 9 Paris ordinary meeting of the bilateral 2+2 platform. Also noteworthy is the brevity of the event, and the use of well-established common memes in the summary document (also very brief). Lets hope that the aforementioned evidence does not appear in the future. This will, in particular, require that the fountain of hysterical propaganda (at least in the state media) with marching on Berlin and other European capitals finally be shut up. Vladimir Terekhov, expert on the issues of the Asia-Pacific region, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.” Сообщение The PRC-Japan rivalry extends to Europe появились сначала на New Eastern Outlook.

[Category: China, Columns, Eastern Asia, Locations, Politics, Europe, India, Japan, NATO, PRC]

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[l] at 5/23/23 10:59pm
The parliamentary and presidential elections held on May 14 this year in Turkey, to which the special attention of external observers is riveted, nevertheless did not surprise with their results. First of all, the elections confirmed the high tension and the state of an almost proportional split in Turkish society into supporters and opponents of Erdoğan and Kılıçdaroğlu, East and West, radical Islamic and moderately secular, imperial-independent and republican-pro-Western path of development of the country. As a result, Turkey received a new parliament, and taking into account the 7% barrier in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (GNAT), the following political alliances and parties passed: “Nation Alliance” received 49.3% of the vote and about 322 out of 600 seats in parliament the Justice and Development Party (266 seats), the Nationalist Movement Party (51 seats) and the Welfare Party (5 seats); “People’s Alliance” won 35.19% and about 212 seats the Republican People’s Party (168 seats) and the Good Party (44 seats); Labor and Freedom Alliance – The Green Left Party (YSP) has 66 seats. In fact, the united opposition in the new composition of the GNAT will have 278 seats against the 322 seats of the Nation Alliance, the AKP’s advantage standing at only 7% (or 44 MPs). Such an arrangement in the parliament promises Turkey an active political competition. As for the fate of the supreme executive power, the first round of presidential elections, with all the intensity of the political struggle between the incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the leader of the unified opposition bloc (or rather the alliance of 6 parties) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, still did not reveal the winner. The result of counting 100% of the ballots shows that 49.24% of voters cast their votes for Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and 45% for Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. Since none of them got the necessary 50% to win in the first round, Turkey will face the second round of the presidential election on May 28. In fact, as the campaign of the two main candidates (Kılıçdaroğlu and Erdoğan) unfolded, the world has witnessed not just an increase in the degree of political confrontation in the struggle for power but also the transformation of this competition into an arena of geopolitical rivalry between two major international players, the United States and Russia. It is no secret that among the reasons for the dissatisfaction of the United States with the policies and candidacy of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan were: a) his passion for a foreign policy independent from Washington’s dictates; b) Turkey’s pragmatic relations with Russia; c) the strategy of Neo-Ottomanism and Neo-PanTurkism. President Erdoğan’s ally and Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu began to accuse America directly of all sins and interference in the internal political process of the elections. Erdoğan himself unequivocally accused US Ambassador in Ankara Jeffrey Flake of supporting the opposition candidate Kılıçdaroğlu and refused any contact with him. In the Western (including American) media, the topic of the Turkish elections was covered quite substantially, where criticism of Erdoğan (especially for his special relationship with President Putin) overshadowed any other reasonable approach. The latter objectively gave Erdoğan’s supporters reason to question Washington’s objective attitude. For the sake of objectivity, it should be noted that in Russia, too, a lot of attention is paid to the topic of the Turkish elections. Accordingly, the Russian expert community and the media take a rather high interest in these elections due to: the objective reasons of the current bilateral relations between our countries; the trends of growing trust and partnership; Turkey’s increasing role in regional affairs; Ankara’s wise position in the situation of the Russian-Ukrainian crisis. However, unlike our Western colleagues, we do not refute one candidate for the sake of another, we limit ourselves as much as possible to objective assessments, we believe that it is the sovereign right and business of the Turkish people to determine their own destiny and leader. One of the obvious pieces of evidence of the discriminating approach and non-interference of the Russian side in the process of the Turkish elections is the voting results of the Turkish citizens at the polling stations on the territory of the Russian Federation. According to Turkish Anadolu Agency, more than half of the Turkish voters (54.47%) support Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s candidacy and only 38.26% support Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Meanwhile, the CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, President Erdoğan’s main opponent, has a rather well-known reputation as a refined official and financial specialist-bureaucrat. His party’s representatives are mayors of Turkey’s two main cities, Ankara (Mansur Yavaş) and Istanbul (Ekrem Imamoğlu), that is, the two centers of big capital linked to the West. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu decided to pass off the obvious achievements of the Turkish-Russian economic partnership represented in President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s election campaign (e.g., the launch of nuclear fuel for the first nuclear power plant in Mersin, Russia’s agreement to meet Turkey halfway on extending the financial debt for Russian gas consumption caused by the critical financial situation in Turkey and the consequences of the devastating earthquake; and maybe even the success of the Turkish-Russian dialogue on the Syrian problem) as interference of Russia in the internal affairs of Turkey. As an external reason, Kılıçdaroğlu’s supporters chose some editing of a common photo of the opposition leader with the leader of the Kurdish PKK party, which is banned in Turkey, as an alleged Russian fake news. The main opposition figure either intimidated Russia or signaled his own weakness (claiming he would be able to drastically change Turkey’s policy from partnership to confrontation if he came to power). Such “menacing” warning statement of Turkish opposition candidate Kılıçdaroğlu is an evidence of his political shortsightedness, firstly, for Turkey could not frighten Russia with all its might; secondly, Ankara should value the level of trust and partnership reached between our countries, for the joint mega-projects, both realized and planned, could only benefit Anatolia; thirdly, if this hasty accusatory statement about Russia was nevertheless considered and agreed with the United States, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, changing the course of his party founder Kemal Atatürk, is dragging Turkey into a new round of confrontation between the West and Russia with a change in Turkey’s neutrality to a hostile approach to Moscow. Moscow realizes that the Kurdish question remains a “sore subject” for Turkey, its security and territorial integrity, as well as the fact that Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin are given equal rights and participate in the same political elections. But Moscow has no influence on the Kurds and other peoples of united Turkey in favor of voting for any candidate, because it considers this an internal matter of the sovereignty of the Turkish state. Hopefully, a sober assessment of the Russian factor in the Middle East, the South Caucasus and Central Asia will finally sober up Kılıçdaroğlu’s advisers and change the tone and substance of their statements regarding our country. It is no coincidence that the charismatic Erdoğan sharply criticized and shamed his opponent in this connection, since the AKP leader and incumbent president of Turkey does not need such a cheap provocation. Nevertheless, thanks to the efforts of the Turkish opposition Turkey turns into another arena of geopolitical confrontation between the USA and Russia. What can be expected on May 28 following the second round of presidential elections in Turkey? First of all, whatever the result, which will certainly take place regardless of the political weather, on May 29, 2023, which is the day of the 570th anniversary of the foundation of the Ottoman Empire (May 29, 1453, the day Constantinople fell to the forces of Sultan Mehmed Fatih/The Conqueror), Turkey will get a new, 13th president. One can also consider this the foresight of Turkish political symbolism in the mind of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the still incumbent president of Turkey. Some Russian authors believe that the current “Turkish Gambit” may have three variants of resolution: 1) Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wins and Turkey continues the course of independence from the West towards a new empire based on the doctrine of Neo-Ottomanism and Neo-PanTurkism; 2) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu wins and Turkey abandons its pragmatic independent policy in favor of a close alliance with the United States, NATO and the EU, which may have a defined negative impact on relations with Russia and Iran in the Middle East, Ukraine, the Caucasus and Central Asia; 3) Erdoğan and Kılıçdaroğlu are engaged in a sharp civil conflict, elections are demonized by dictatorship and the West is forced to bargain through London with Erdoğan to reach compromises due to the importance of Turkey’s geography and content. The author will not propose new theories, but the fact remains that one of these two will become the 13th president of Turkey. Naturally, although the second round was not unexpected for Erdoğan and his party, the incumbent president received, most likely, a psychological shock after 20 years of uninterrupted rule. The 2023 elections proved to be the most difficult and tense in Turkey’s modern history. Of course, Erdoğan’s biography indicates that he is used to dealing with difficulties, which the Turkish leader tackles as they come and depending on the degree of threat. But his age, his state of health, his problems in the economy and the nature of external pressure with the participation of the United States are significant factors. For all the tensions, the first round of voting revealed the positive achievements of Turkish democracy (in particular, the counting of ballots to hundredths of percent, the relatively high political culture of opponents without going to personal insults, especially given the southern temperament). Of course, experts, and observers will still count and list the shortcomings and possible violations during the elections (more than 1 million ballots were declared invalid by the Turkish CEC, there were fistfights between supporters of the main candidates in some polling stations, the fact that Erdoğan gave money to children from poor families caused criticism). However, all of these facts have no critical content in terms of influencing the results of the elections themselves. For his part, this author remains hopeful that profit will prevail in Turkey. Aleksandr SVARANTS, PhD in political science, professor, exclusively for the online journal “New Eastern Outlook.” Сообщение Elections turn Turkey into yet another arena of the US-Russian standoff появились сначала на New Eastern Outlook.

[Category: Columns, Locations, Middle East, Politics, Turkey, Elections, Geopolitics, International politics, Russia, USA]

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[l] at 5/23/23 7:59am
The recent China-brokered rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran has really shaken Washington’s understanding of the reach of China’s global geopolitical clout. China’s active diplomacy announced, yet again, a formal end of Beijing’s long-cherished policy of ‘non-interference.’ Beijing is now actively intervening, although diplomatically and not militarily, across the world to remove various geopolitical blockades (e.g., regional rivalries encouraged by the US) imposed by the US across the world to maintain its own hegemony. For China, it is crucial to reimagine its global standing. For the US, however, it is also equally crucial to tackle China to maintain its own role. Nowhere is this diplomatic tussle more evident today than in the Middle East/Persian Gulf region. Following years of the US ‘withdrawal’ from the Middle East and increasing focus on Southeast Asia/Indo-Pacific, China’s emerging role in the Middle East replacing the US has forced the latter to return to the region to galvanise its dwindling prospects. The question is: Can Washington take the Middle East back in time? We shall see that shortly. As reports indicate, the Joe Biden administration is sending its top officials – the National Security Advisor and the Secretary of State – to Saudi Arabia to kick-start a ‘new’ phase of US-Saudi ties with a special focus on a triangle of countries including Israel. The politics of re-set follows the unannounced visit of CIA director Bill Burns to Saudi in April. Burns was quick to criticise Riyadh for its opening to Iran and Syria via China and Russia respectively without running it by Washington first. Burns’ visit was followed by the US presidential advisor Brett McGurk’s visit to Saudi in April, where Brett met top Saudi officials, including Muhammad bin Salman (MBS). This is to be followed by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan’s visit in May-June followed by Antony Blinken’s visit in June. These trips are serious enough, evident from the fact that the US officials are not yet publicly and officially talking about them in order to avoid any controversy before meeting their Saudi counterparts. State officials usually maintain such levels of silence when they want to make offers that cannot be publicly discussed and debated, and/or when stakes are too high to be revealed. But there is no denying that the main factor driving this entire re-focus on Saudi is the dominance of China at the expense of the US’s role in the Middle East and/or the strategic region of the Persian Gulf. Therefore, what the US is offering to Saudi is ways of countering China, including ways of developing alternative global supply chains as part of the wider US geopolitics of “decoupling” from China. In short, the US is going to offer Saudi and Emirate officials lucrative deals in exchange for their support for the US policy of “decoupling.” Will this transpire and work for the US? This is quite unlikely for various reasons. First of all, the US continues to underestimate the strength of China’s ties with the Middle East. Second of all, the US remains blind to the fact that these states are sitting on the fence to exploit any opportunity that the current global scenario offers them to enhance their own power and influence. In this context, if these powers think that ties with Washington are necessary for meeting some of their interests – the Saudi recently offered dozens of aeroplanes from Boeing worth billions of US dollars as part of its own policy to modernise itself – they also understand that these ties don’t have to be established at the expense of their ties with China, just as their ties with China need not come at the expense of their ties with Washington. In this context, any US attempt to seek a “full reset” with Saudi cannot simply work because a full reset means moving back to the US orbit and losing the strategic autonomy that Saudi is striving hard to achieve to raise its global profile within a multipolar world. A full reset, on the contrary, means reinforcing a unipolar world offering no real strategic autonomy. How else one can explain a fast Saudi shift towards the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), known in the West as the “Asian NATO”? The SCO is a China-led regional set-up. With Saudi already a “dialogue member” of the SCO, a US attempt at convincing Saudi to counter China and become a keychain in the alternative global supply route seems like a non-starter. In fact, such an offer seems unrealistic and not very well-formulated. Effectively, such an offer only shows the prevailing sense of panic in the US in the wake of multiple defeats. The US and its NATO allies have failed to defeat Russia in Ukraine. China and Russia have jointly succeeded in starting a major process of normalisation in the Middle East, and their growing ties with the Middle East, coupled with the Middle Eastern states’ own search for global autonomy, is at the heart of the US failure to convince, or force, Saudi Arabia to break the OPEC+ deal with Russia. For these reasons, any US attempt to bring Saudi back into its own orbit is quite unlikely to succeed. On the contrary, such offers are quite likely to see China (and Russia) making their own advances in the Middle East to keep the space as restricted for Washington as possible. For the Middle East – especially, the Saudis – there can possibly be no better news than being wooed by two competing superpowers for an alliance. The Saudis are all set to reap all possible benefits from it. Salman Rafi Sheikh, research-analyst of International Relations and Pakistan’s foreign and domestic affairs, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.“ Сообщение Washington Wooing Saudi Against China’s Gulf Dominance появились сначала на New Eastern Outlook.

[Category: Columns, Locations, Politics, USA in the World, China, Geopolitics, SaudiArabia, USA]

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[l] at 5/23/23 3:59am
On May 1, 2023, 50-year-old Yang Hoe-dong doused himself with a flammable liquid and set himself on fire around 9:35 a.m. in front of the district courthouse in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, 163 kilometers east of Seoul. Yang suffered serious burns and was taken first to a nearby hospital and then airlifted to a specialized hospital for burn treatment in Seoul, but the next day died. The deceased was a high-ranking official of the local branch of the national construction workers union of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), an umbrella organization of a rather left-wing nature. The suicide was committed hours before Yang was due to attend the trial hearing for his pre-trial detention in Gangneung on charges of obstruction of business. He was in dire straits: the local prosecutors office was going to arrest him and two other officials of the same union. According to the prosecution, from May 2022 to February 2023, Yang and Co. extorted about 80 million won ($59,700) from construction companies and forced entrepreneurs to hire representatives of his union. Before his death, Yang left a suicide note to his colleagues, which was published by the KCTU. He wrote, I participated in union activities in a fair and innocent way, but I was not accused of violating the law on assemblies and demonstrations, but of obstruction of business and blackmail. My self-esteem cannot allow that. After hearing the news of his attempted self-immolation, some 500 union members who had attended a Labor Day rally in Wonju traveled to Gangneung and held a protest in front of the courthouse, denouncing what they saw as union suppression. Other union members held a protest in front of the Gangwon-do Provincial Police, saying that the suppression of unions by the Yoon Suk-yeol administration, prosecutors, and police had caused the leaders suicide. Yang Kyung-soo, chairman of the KCTU, condemned the Yoon Suk-yeol government for the self-immolation, saying it was caused by the governments excessive suppression of unions. Another umbrella organization, the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU), also promised to organize an all-out struggle. The Yoon Suk-yeol administrations repression of unions led to this death, they declared. Citing ongoing police investigations into similar allegations against some 950 other union members across the country, the unions announced plans to fight such suppression and targeted investigations. The family of the deceased and the construction union decided to postpone the funeral until the authorities and the president of the country apologize for what happened. During a memorial service held in Sokcho, some 5,000 construction workers in Seoul staged protest action. Yoons opponents point out that it is hard to believe that a worker burned himself to death in 2023 in Korea and the government instigated the tragedy. The prosecutor turned president focused on the deviant behavior of some worker aristocrats instead of looking at the big picture and delving into structural problems Yoons labor policies are anachronistic at best and politicized at worst, and he has never met with union activists during his year in office. Even the DPRK media wrote about Yang Hoe-dongs self-immolation, in which the Democratic Trade Union Association member gave his life against Yoon Suk-yeols sycophancy and the ruin of the population, leaving a testament Please overthrow Yoon Suk-yeols rule. It is alleged that a large-scale strike is scheduled for May 16-17. Indeed, the self-immolation story may become a serious new political problem for Yoon Suk-yeol, but, as usual in such situations, the problem has two dimensions. On the one hand, labor unions are the mainstay of the opposition, and they are the ones who bring the maximum number of people to rallies against Yoon. On the other hand, the support of trade unions by democrats, especially under Moon Jae-in, has turned many trade union organizations into semi-mafia structures engaged in racketeering, rather than protection of interests, with the money received often flowing into the secret funds of democratic politicians. As the conservative Korea Herald notes, Few unions in the world are as destructive and militant as the Korean labor groups and their large member unions.” Thus, in a two-week survey of construction companies conducted in January 2023 by the Korea Construction Association, the Korea Housing Association, and the Korea Specialty Contractors Association at the request of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation, 843 construction companies reported that they had been victims of union action. Given that some companies may have avoided disclosure for fear of retaliation, the actual number of cases may have been higher. In most cases, by threatening strikes, unions either forced construction companies to hire their members and use their equipment, or extorted money under the pretext of union development and welfare costs. For example, it became common practice to pay unofficial monthly allowances of millions of won to tower crane operators. If the company refused to pay the allowance, at least a slow-down strike occurred. As a result, Yoon Suk-yeol launched a vigorous fight against union corruption. In December 2022, the president called for a system of public disclosure of union accounting practices, saying that preventing corruption and enhancing transparency in unions was important to improving the countrys industrial competitiveness and the welfare of workers. On January 19, 2023 police in Seoul conducted searches of eight offices of construction trade unions affiliated with the countrys two largest unions, the KCTU and FKTU. The official reason for the investigations was to identify alleged wrongdoing at construction sites. On Feb. 12, Yoon Suk-yeol stated: If I fail to normalize industrial sites where violence, threats and blackmailing are rampant, I think I dont deserve to receive taxpayer money. On Feb. 17, Yoon instructed the Secretary of Labor to report to him on union accounting practices because by that time only 120 of the 327 unions with more than 1,000 members had complied with the governments request for accounting records. Meanwhile, the countrys two largest umbrella unions, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and the Federation of Korean Trade Unions, received 152.1 billion won ($117.4 million) in subsidies from the Labor Ministry and regional governments from 2018 to 2022. Thats in addition to the 100 billion won in union dues each group collects per year. Moreover, as Kweon Seong-dong, a conservative lawmaker, stated, the spending of the subsidies has rarely been properly monitored. On February 20, during a Cabinet meeting, Yoon Seok-yeol warned of decisive action There is no choice but to take firm action against behavior that uses hundreds of billions of won from taxpayers precious money in government subsidies, but denies the rule of law and refuses to disclose the details of their use. The President pointed out that Militant labor unions with vested rights continue to overtly carry out illegal actions at construction sites, such as demanding money and goods, forcing hiring and obstructing construction As a result, workers are losing their jobs and construction is being poorly done. The damage is being passed on to the people, with delays in the opening of new elementary schools and move-ins to new apartments. Therefore, he promised to eradicate extortion and violence on construction sites during his term in office: We must firmly establish the rule of law at construction sites by sternly clamping down until violence is completely eradicated. On February 28, two union leaders of a construction company were arrested for racketeering, accused of demanding illegal payments from company management from 2020 to 2022 and insisting that the company employ union members on construction sites of multiple apartment buildings in Seoul. On March 9, police handed over 102 union workers to prosecutors for possible charges, for illegal activities on construction sites. Financial extortion in the form of monthly bonuses to unionized workers was the most common act, accounting for 75.2 percent of all cases, followed by obstruction of business, accounting for 10.5 percent On March 13, 2023, the government and the ruling party drafted an accounting transparency plan that would require unions to make their accounting records public if at least half of the unions members requested it or the Secretary of Labor required it after discovering embezzlement, breach of trust, or other irregularities. On March 14, police searched the Seoul office of the regional branch of the Korean Construction Workers Union (KCWU) and the homes of some union officials and requested arrest warrants for three of its members on charges of blackmail and coercion. On March 16, the FKTU headquarters and the home of a former FKTU vice chairman named Suk-yun Kang were searched to gather evidence of his suspected bribery and breach of trust. Kang also had his cell phone confiscated on suspicion that he had embezzled 100 million won ($76,300) from the Korean Construction Industry Trade Union (KCITU). On March 23, 2023 the capital mayors office said that within a year, video recordings would be launched at 74 sites of expensive construction projects that will record details of construction progress and worker activity. The recordings can be used both for investigating the causes of technical and other accidents and for tracking sabotage. In addition, the government has decided to suspend the licenses of tower crane operators who deliberately slow down or refuse to work without explanation. Unions responded to this pressure with regular rallies. On February 24, 46,500 members of the Korean construction workers union affiliated with the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions took to the streets. On March 25, more than 13,000 members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions took to the streets in protest against a judicially-backed dictatorship, claiming that conditions for civil society, democracy and labor in the country have deteriorated under the Yoon administration in less than a year of his presidency. The late Yang appeared to be a fairly typical victim of this policy the charges against him were too strong. But one has to understand the measure of suicide in South Korean political parties, especially a suicide so demonstrative. On the one hand, the suspects suicide automatically closes the case, since the guilt has been washed away by blood. On the other, he remains under suspicion because the guilt is believed to have existed. This moment (under Roh Moo-hyun) was used by the Democrats to hound political opponents in the media and on the Internet and to drive them to suicide. In the right situation, however, a scoundrel can turn into a martyr, especially if it is an iconic and painful death. Such was the case with Roh Moo-hyun, who had to jump off a cliff to ensure that the ex-president convicted of corruption and influence peddling would not discredit all that he preached. And today his admirers, despite the evidence and his own confessions, piously believe that the conservative government set the whole thing up. And in Yangs case, the self-immolation has an equally important reference to the death of trade union activist Cho Tae-il, who killed himself in a similar way during the Park Chung-hee administration. Thus, Yoon Suk-yeols union opponents got their martyr and soon it will not be particularly important how serious the evidence against him was. Yang may become a sacred victim of the regime, which could be used in political games. The author reminds us that the 2024 parliamentary elections are 11 months away. Whether the Democrats will be able to maintain the same majority, allowing them to reject a bill that does not require the approval of 2/3 of parliament, is a big question. After all, even now, with 168 seats out of 300, the Democrats have saved their chairman from arrest by a margin of just 1 vote. This means that if the Democratic Party leadership is serious about starting a fight to deprive Yoon Suk-yeol of power by impeachment early, it should begin as soon as possible. Lets see if the flame of peoples anger ignites from this spark. Konstantin Asmolov, PhD in History, leading research fellow at the Center for Korean Studies of the Institute of China and Modern Asia at the Russian Academy of Sciences, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.” Сообщение The Gangneung self-immolation: a sign of the acute confrontation between the government and the unions, in which there is no clear right or wrong появились сначала на New Eastern Outlook.

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

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[l] at 5/22/23 10:59pm
The United States continues to strengthen Japan’s position as its main political and military “viceroy” in Northeast Asia. Is a war with China imminent by the hands of the people of Japan and the Republic of Korea? How do the citizens of these countries feel about it? Until recently, the escalating 2018 conflict between Japan and the Republic of Korea over several historical issues, including disagreements over compensation for South Korean victims of Japan’s wartime forced labor, was a significant limiting factor in Washington’s alignment of its hierarchy of allies under Tokyo. Though, the Yoon Suk-yeol’s administration did make a settlement offer in March of this year. Promptly, on March 16, Yoon Suk-yeol visited Tokyo and met with Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. Several initiatives to normalize the two countries’ relations were presented during the visit. Seoul specifically chose to fully reinstitute the General Security of Information Agreement (GSOIA). South Korea withdrew a complaint it had filed with the World Trade Organization (WTO) regarding export limitations, and Japan also lifted the 2019 tighter regulations on exports of technological nanomaterials and components to that country. Reconciling the closest allies. It didn’t take long for Washington to actively seek to capitalize on its recent triumph. After a gap of three years, South Korea, the United States, and Japan resumed their Defense Trilateral Talks (DTT) at the deputy defense minister level on April 15. According to the joint statement, “the three sides discussed the regularization of missile defense exercises and anti-submarine exercises to deter and respond to DPRK’s nuclear and missile threats. The three sides also discussed ways to resume trilateral exercises, including maritime interdiction and anti-piracy exercises, in order to maintain peace and stability in the region.” The US backed further expansion of South Korean-Japanese military cooperation, including normalization of the General Security of Information Agreement (GSOIA). The parties also examined the Trilateral Information Sharing Arrangement (TISA) concerning the nuclear and missile threats posed by North Korea for its full implementation. The Japan-South Korea security policy two-plus-two foreign affairs and defense meeting was held again two days later on April 17 for the first time in five years to discuss “strategic issues of the security situation in the region, as well as the policies of the two countries in this area.” A trilateral joint ballistic missile defense and anti-submarine drill comprising the U.S. Navy, the Japanese Navy, and the South Korean Navy was held on the same day this year, April 17. During the visit of the South Korean president to the United States April 26-28 this year, Washington assured Seoul that it is ready to defend the Republic of Korea from North Korean aggression, agreed to form a bilateral Nuclear Consulting Group with Seoul, and confirmed its readiness to continue deploying its “strategic assets” in the Korean Peninsula region. On May 7-8 this year, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is scheduled to visit the Republic of Korea. The discussions will undoubtedly center on concerns of military and political collaboration on security. It is worth noting that, despite the sharp increase in Japan-South Korea military and political contacts, actions that could have stifled any bilateral contacts earlier went almost unnoticed in public: a ritual offering to Yasukuni Shrine on behalf of Prime Minister Kishida from the Japanese side and a group of parliamentarians visiting the disputed Liancourt Rocks from the South Korean side. This abrupt reversal in bilateral relations between Tokyo and Seoul, interpreted as Pyongyang’s acceleration of its missile programs, doesn’t look so definite. Because the DPRK hasn’t stopped its missile tests in past years. The correct answer may be hidden beneath the recent announcement of NATO’s plans to create a liaison office in Japan in 2024, the alliance’s first institution of that kind in the Asia-Pacific area. Following Prime Minister Kishida’s trip to the NATO summit in Madrid in July 2022, the opening of the Mission of Japan to NATO in September 2022, and Secretary-General Stoltenberg’s trip to Tokyo in February 2023, this is yet another clear indication of Tokyo and Brussels’ desire to work together more closely. In light of the likely and increasingly inevitable escalation of Washington and Beijing’s conflict in the region, a more thorough analysis of the situation suggests that the real motivations are likely the US desire to quickly fortify its political-military alliances in the area and to establish their cooperation with NATO. It is difficult to disagree with the assessment of the alliance’s plans made by the representative of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in this case, who claimed that NATO’s eastward expansion into the Asia-Pacific region and interference in the region would jeopardize regional peace and stability. It will be fascinating to see if citizens of governments, whose political elites support an alliance with the United States, and the blocs and coalitions it leads in Asia-Pacific region and beyond, realize what sort of repercussions of this policy they might face if the situation follows a negative scenario in the region. Bakhtiar Urusov, a political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.” Сообщение The USA wants to make the Japanese and South Koreans go to war with China появились сначала на New Eastern Outlook.

[Category: Columns, Locations, Politics, USA in the World, China, Japan, Puppets of the USA, South Korea]

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[l] at 5/22/23 6:59am
During a recent visit to West Africa, Rwandan President Paul Kagame declared that Russia has the right to be anywhere in Africa. Kagame also accused Western nations of dragging Africa into its political messes. His words echo the sentiments of many African nations. Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, the original BRICS countries, control about a third of the world’s total economy. Adding a dozen or more members will create a concrete multipolar world the United States and its Western allies must cooperate with rather than compete against. Also, it seems likely that the U.S. Dollar will cease to be the universal international trade currency soon. The creation of a BRICS currency will be one of the main topics when the BRICS meetup occurs in Johannesburg in August. Two so-far unnamed East African countries finish off the list of 19 nations wanting entry to the group. Rwanda and Ethiopia could likely be the unknown candidates for what would end up being the most important economic force in the world. Furthermore, deepening military and economic ties between Russia, South Africa, China, Iran, and India signals a paradigm shift in the world order. But the massive change is indicated more strongly if one reads between the lines (economic news). So, let’s briefly look at a focal point few analysts mention, the East Africa Exchange (EAX) and its critical leadership. The EAX is a privately funded regional agricultural commodities exchange launched in Kigali, Rwanda, back in July 2014. The stated objective of the exchange is to facilitate farmers and producers of agricultural produce to obtain fair prices and accessibility to funding. The EAX now operates in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. On a special note, a map of the China New Silk Road initiative reveals these nations as part of a direct connection to South Africa. This, and other factors, can only lead us to one conclusion. As a final underlying indicator, the current world order is on the way out. Let’s look at the attitudes of the leadership of EAX. The reader will find interesting the neutral position, which would have certainly, at one point, been heavily tilted away from Russia and China and toward the Western powers. First, let’s look at Ayodeji Balogun, CEO of AFEX, founded the East African commodity exchange – EAX. In an interview recently, Balogun talked about the polarization shift: “I think that capital will continue to become more globalized, but delivery will become more localized due to these events. International companies will redefine their supply chain strategies around local alliances that will work for the next 10 to 15 years. I think there are huge opportunities across the continent for those who can work with them.” Now let’s look at the most significant stakeholders in EAX in order of their controlling interest level. The most prominent investors in the exchange are Heirs Holdings (Tony O. Elumelu), Berggruen Holdings (Nicolas Berggruen), 50 Ventures Inc. (Jendayi E. Frazer), and Ngali Holdings Limited (Jean RUTAYISIRE MUSONI). Tony Elumelu is one of the most influential figures in African politics and business. In 2020, he made Times list of the 100 most influential people in the world, and today the Nigerian economist and philanthropist has a controlling interest in Transnational Corporation, a diversified conglomerate with business interests in Power, Hospitality, and Energy. He recently commented on Fox Business on the impact of the Ukraine-Russia conflict on Aftica food security, saying: “The impact of the war on food again was serious and all that is actually a cause for concern on the continent. Well pray that they will find peace quickly. However, this also presented an opportunity. The African Development Bank, led by Akin Adesina, just two days ago, announced a multi-billion dollar deal to help African countries to capacitate and increase the ability to grow foods in the country, on the continent. So, these are things happening, so I dare say, at times, some crisis presents some opportunity.” Nicholas Berggruen is an American/German billionaire investor 21st Century Council, the Council for the Future of Europe, who’s chairman of the Berggruen Institute, which addresses fundamental political and cultural questions in our rapidly changing world. He is also the co-author with Nathan Gardels of “Renovating Democracy: Governing in the Age of Globalization and Digital Capitalism.” A Tweet from the visionary reveals the truth of the current state of the economic and geopolitical world: “Global inspiration & cooperation imploded over the last years. With the centrifugal force gone, everyone retreats to straightening their home. The affirmation of regional cultural & political powers is creating a multipolar world headed each by the US, EU, China, India & Russia.” Jendayi Frazier is the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs during the George W. Bush administration and a member of the Atlantic Council. She’s vehemently anti-Trump but pragmatic and prudent concerning her network power base, the elites of the West order. However, she’s also the “plant” inside a crucial African entity with the power to really change the game. Like George Soros and other key manipulators, Frazier’s directive is to influence minds and society in the region through her 50 Ventures and entities like the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. Jean RUTAYISIRE MUSONI is an independent Consultant and Researcher (African Economic Research Consortium), but his most essential efforts revolve around Ngali Energy and Ngali Mining. These companies are linked to the Belt and Road Cooperation via several steps. Manufacturers in China depend heavily on gemstones, minerals, and technologies from Ngali Mining. As for MUSONI’s stance on the coming multipolar shift, like most wise investment types in Africa, he’s currently playing the middle of the road. Finally, as you can see, powerful forces underneath the high-profile corporate, governmental, or billionaire elite are at work preparing for what’s inevitable. The current Washington take may be “all-in” for making short-term billions for American companies. Still, in the end, those same companies will face the immovable reality that the world is fed up with the American form of capitalism. Several people mentioned are working to recreate the consensus on this and to transform world economics for the 21st century. I feel that very soon unless Biden and his NATO army cause WWIII, we will see great strides made toward a world system that is holistic and all-inclusive. 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”. Сообщение The New Multipolar World: East Africa Focus появились сначала на New Eastern Outlook.

[Category: Africa, Columns, Locations, Politics, BRICS, Geopolitics, New World Order]

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[l] at 5/22/23 3:59am
Turkish President Recep Erdoğan is notable for his acumen and his particular pragmatism. Like Kemal Atatürk in his time, he has achieved a fairly advanced partnership with Russia in the field of economy, politics, and security. The fact that Turkey, being a NATO member, still tries to maintain an independent course towards Russia, to develop mutually beneficial economic relations with it (especially in the field of energy, transit communications and tourism), not to participate fully in the anti-Russian sanctions of the collective West, not to rule out the possibility of new agreements with Russia on military-technical cooperation, certainly speaks of Erdoğan’s pragmatic approach. The Turkish leader’s policy allows Ankara to achieve considerable success in military diplomacy in partnership with Moscow (in particular in Libya, Syria and Nagorno-Karabakh). The latter helps to strengthen Turkey’s regional positions in North Africa, the Middle East and the South Caucasus, as well as stimulates the process of planning a new breakthrough in post-Soviet Central Asia, taking into account local resources and ethnocultural ties. In the situation of the protracted Russian-Ukrainian crisis, Turkey has not officially taken an unambiguous position in favor of the conflicting parties, but has acted as an effective mediator, given Erdoğan’s trusting relationship with Putin and Zelensky. However, it should be noted that the personal preferences of President Recep Erdoğan are still more inclined towards President Vladimir Putin, given their long period of acquaintance and joint cooperation (in some ways even the similarity of their characters and age correspondence), and most importantly, the high role of Russia in the economic development of modern Turkey. Erdoğan’s relations with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky are more bound up with geopolitical considerations and partly with Turkey’s obligations within the NATO framework than with personal affinities (Erdoğan and Zelensky not only represent different generations of politicians by age but they also differ significantly in character). Historically and methodologically, any military conflict always needs mediation to reconcile the parties. However, as a rule, mediation in a conflict, in addition to common moral values, also pursues very pragmatic economic and political interests. Traditionally, Turkish diplomacy is famous for its pragmatism and is focused on Turkey’s national interests. How does Turkey’s pragmatism manifest itself in the current crisis between Russia and Ukraine? Admittedly, Ankara’s mediation efforts have had real and tangible achievements, although not breakthrough ones. During the 15 months of the ongoing Russian Armed Forces special military operation (SMO) in Ukraine, thanks to Turkey’s mediation mission, Moscow and Kiev: a) began to hold multi-level talks in Istanbul involving different agencies (Foreign and Defense Ministries, foreign intelligence agencies); b) made several successful prisoner exchanges; c) have concluded a grain export deal (the “grain deal”); d) have been discussing other possible deals (e.g., for the export of Russian agro-industrial products). Finally, the Black Sea area is not becoming a theater of military operations with the involvement of additional NATO forces, because Turkey, following the provisions of the Montreux Convention, does not open the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits for the entry of military vessels of third countries (for example, the US and British Navy) into the Black Sea. Ankara has repeatedly stated at a high level that it would not allow provocations against Russia, considers it irresponsible to take sides in this conflict, does not want to participate in the conflict against Russia, understands the rationale of the Kremlin’s position, which, at a minimum, should be respected instead of bringing the situation to a global disaster and the third world war. However, politicians’ words often serve to conceal real actions. Firstly, Turkey, with its mediation mission, increases the authority and image of its own state in world politics. It helps Erdoğan to strengthen Turkey’s independent status and its new role in international affairs. Secondly, Turkey compensates for its mediation efforts between Russia and Ukraine quite effectively with economic and financial dividends (in the form of the “grain deal”, receiving new megaprojects from Russia for the “gas hub”, planning the construction of a second nuclear power plant in Sinop according to a profitable scheme similar to the Akkuyu nuclear power plant in Mersin, obtaining discounts on Russian gas or deferred payments for gas in the amount of $ 20 billion). Thirdly, Turkey refrains from full participation in Western sanctions against Russia (in which Turkey however participates in part), and actually suggests that Moscow consider its territory as the main “transit artery” to the outside world (primarily to Europe). The latter scheme promises Ankara considerable financial and other economic benefits (including impressive discounts on oil and gas), and over time (that is, after the start of their operation) a certain dependence of the Russian market on the position of Turkey. Fourthly, Turkey, by providing intermediary and economic assistance to Russia (for example, in the parallel transit of sanctioned goods), is trying to promote its interests in the regions of the historical presence and influence of the Russian state (for example, in the South Caucasus and Central Asia) from a tougher position. Ankara no longer minds Moscow’s opinion on the Turkic cooperation, has created the Organization of Turkic States (OTS) and is increasingly taking advantage of the crisis to reorient the transit of energy resources of the Turkic CIS countries to the European market bypassing Russia through Turkey. In this case, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan are particularly active. Turkmenistan’s stance is also changing from strict neutrality to that of an interested observer in the OTS. The Turks are closely paying attention to the opinions of the Russian experts as well as the political science community for options to resolve the Ukrainian crisis. As you know, Ankara, for all its respectful relations with Moscow, initially did not recognize the incorporation of Crimea into Russia, as well as its reunification with other regions (the DPR and the LPR, the Kherson and Zaporozhe regions). Turkey, therefore, considers all of these territories to be part of Ukraine. However, this position of the Turkish side is still based on the current realities of its vision of territorial contradictions. What will happen tomorrow remains a matter of conjecture. This being said, when some well-known figures in Russia (for example, Igor Girkin / Strelkov) hypothetically admit some kind of partition of the Ukrainian territory between Russia, Poland, Hungary, and Romania (that is, the eastern and south-eastern regions in favor of Russia taking into account the current realities, Galicia goes to Poland, the Carpathian region to Hungary, and Bender to Romania allegedly in exchange for mutual recognition of territorial changes), then what could prevent Turkey from joining the process with claims to the “Tatar Crimea”? The Turks promise neither Girkin nor anyone else that it won’t happen. Meanwhile, Turkey carries out very differentiated mediation between Russia and Ukraine and explains its position to the West with the need to maintain bridges with Moscow, and to Russia with the expediency of maintaining influential relations with Kyiv. Turkey not only refuses to recognize the territorial reality of the 15-month-long Special Military Operation in Ukraine, but is also known to provide the Kyiv regime with considerable military-technical and humanitarian aid (including deliveries of Bayraktar-TB2 drones and Kirpi armored personnel carriers, UAV operators and Gray Wolf fighters, etc.). Turkish Bayraktar drones had proven themselves in other theaters of military operations before the Ukrainian events (e.g., in Nagorno-Karabakh on the side of Azerbaijan). In the initial period of the SMO, when the Turks began to supply Kyiv with Bayraktars to be used against the RF Armed Forces, and the head of the Turkish UAV production company Baykar Makina, Selçuk Bayraktar (a son-in-law of President Recep Erdoğan) announced his intention to establish a joint venture in Ukraine to produce drones, the Russian side suggested that the Turkish colleagues should make a similar deal with the Russian Federation as well. However, Turkey has officially claimed it was business and nothing more. In turn, Erdoğan’s son-in-law and simultaneously head of Baykar Makina, Selçuk Bayraktar unequivocally ruled out any possibility of military-technical cooperation with Russia in the situation of the Ukrainian crisis. How should one then understand Turkey’s motivation whose president says it is “business and nothing more,” while his son-in-law rules out any possibility of cooperation with Russia for political reasons? Then Russia can reciprocate Turkey’s decision and suspend military-technical cooperation because arms trade is not about tomatoes, but always and at all times it is about politics. It is known that Turkey is cooperating with Ukraine on the supply of engines for the development of unmanned aerial vehicles. Within the framework of Erdoğan’s election program, for objective reasons, the ruling regime regularly presents new achievements of the current government in the field of economy, modern technologies, defense industry, politics and diplomacy to the Turkish society. In the context of this propaganda campaign, the deal with the Ukrainian side to sign three new contracts with the Turkish UAV manufacturer Baykar Makina at the international exhibition of aviation and aerospace equipment Teknofest in Istanbul was announced on April 30, 2023, which allows Kiev to get new generation weapons. Moreover, in the summer of 2022, the Ukrainian ambassador to Turkey, Vasyl Bodnar, announced the construction of the Bayraktar drone manufacturing plant in Ukraine, which was scheduled be built within two years. So far, Russian troops have been quite successful in using Tor-M2 air defense systems to destroy Turkish drones during the SMO in Ukraine. In turn, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the alleged Bayraktar plant in Ukraine another facility to be demilitarized. It turns out that Turkey, on the one hand, maintains good and mutually beneficial partnership relations with Russia, and on the other hand, its mediation is differentiated and brings some tension to the format of relations with our country. In our view, in a situation of military conflict, a mediator must remain faithful to its declarations of trust with the opposing sides and exclude military and technical assistance to one of them. Otherwise, the degree of trust on the part of the other partner is inversely proportional to the degree of complicity of the “mediator” in the conflict. In addition, Russia is able to demonstrate a similar “business and nothing more” motivation in other conflicts, where Turkey supports one of the parties (including, for example, in Syria or Nagorno-Karabakh). Aleksandr SVARANTS, PhD in political science, professor, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.” Сообщение Turkey Conducts Differentiated Mediation in the Russian-Ukrainian Crisis появились сначала на New Eastern Outlook.

[Category: Columns, Locations, Middle East, Politics, Turkey, Political negotiations, Russia, Russia s Special Military Operation, Ukraine]

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