Generational Dynamics: Forecasting America's Destiny Generational
Dynamics
 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's

 |  HOME  |  WEB LOG  |  COMMENT  |  FORUM  | 
 |  DOWNLOADS  |  FOURTH TURNING ARCHIVE  |  ABOUT  | 

Web Log - "Watching the pot come to a boil"

28-Jun-16 World View -- Hezbollah defends terrorist actions by saying it gets all its money from Iran

Rating agencies downgrade Britain's AAA credit rating

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Rating agencies downgrade Britain's AAA credit rating


Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May - could be Prime Minister within weeks (Getty)
Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May - could be Prime Minister within weeks (Getty)

The fallout from the UK's shock approval of the Brexit referendum, mandating that the UK leave the European Union, continued on Monday with a new stream of events.

The Russia, Standard & Poors (S&P) ratings agency cut the UK's credit rating by two notches, from AAA to AA+ and then to AA. The S&P said that Brexit could lead to "a deterioration of the UK's economic performance, including its large financial services sector."

Fitch ratings agency followed suit, lowering its rating from AA+ to AA. On Friday, Moody's ratings agency cut the UK's credit rating outlook to negative.

The main reason that this might be significant is that it could lead to forced selling. Many fund managers are only allowed to own AAA debt, and the ratings downgrades may force many of these fund managers to sell the downgraded assets. If the asset has lost value as a result of Brexit, then these funds could lose substantial amounts of money. This could lead to the vicious cycle that I described last week -- where asset values fall, leading to forced selling, causing asset values to value, leading to more forced selling, and so forth.

On the other hand, central banks are acting quickly to "print money" and make it available to wealthy investors and institutions so that there will be as little forced selling as possible.

Meanwhile, Britain's government has become almost non-existent, as both parties are in chaos. David Cameron, leader of the government Conservative party, is to be replaced as leader early in September. The two most likely choices are the flamboyant pro-Brexit leader Boris Johnson, and the demure anti-Brexit Home Secretary Theresa May. However wins the leadership election for the party will automatically become Prime Minister until the next general election.

In other developments on Monday, there is a great deal of tension among EU leaders as to how quickly UK leaders have to "invoke Article 50" of the Lisbon Treaty, referring to the event that will launch two years of negotiations to work out the details for the divorce between the UK and EU.

UK pro-Brexit leaders don't have a plan or a clue what they want to do next, so the "plan" is to stall as long as possible, and not invoke Article 50 until it becomes absolutely necessary. This is driving some UK leaders crazy since they're unable to make their own plans due to the uncertainty of what will happen to the UK, and some of them are demanding that the UK invoke Article 50 as quickly as possible. However, the Lisbon Treaty is clear that the EU cannot force the UK to do so, and UK leaders are lost in the wilderness, so will stall as long as they can, at least until a new Prime Minister is selected.

Another question plaguing EU leaders is how harsh they should be in the negotiations. On the one hand, the UK is an important ally, and they don't want to be seen as screwing the UK. On the other hand, they don't want other countries to look on and say, "If it's that easy, then we'll leave the EU too." So many EU leaders are talking about being as harsh as possible in the negotiations, to discourage other members from doing the same.

The EU will have a great deal of leverage because the UK will want to continue to belong to the "EU Single Market," or the European Economic Area (EEA). The EEA is considered to be one of Europe's greatest post-war achievements, and its creation was led by Britain. Britain will desperately want to continue to be part of the EEA, and this is possible, because Norway is in the EEA, but not a member of the EU.

However, in return for that access to the single market, Norway pays a contribution to the EU budget and has to sign up to all the rules of the club - including its common regulations and standards. If Britain negotiates to stay in the EEA, then EU negotiators will certainly demand as large a contribution to the EU budget as possible. Furthermore -- and this will be the ultimate irony -- the common regulations and standards will be set by the hated EU regulators, but after leaving the EU, Britain will have no say in how the regulations are set. Guardian (London) and Independent (London) and BBC

Christian community in Lebanon targeted by suicide bombers

A wave of multiple suicide bombings struck the predominantly Greek Orthodox Christian village of Al-Qaa in northern Lebanon near the border with Syria. The first wave of four suicide bombings occurred outside a church in the village before sunrise on Monday morning. Then on Monday evening, as residents were preparing for funerals for the morning's suicide bombings, three suicide bombers riding motorcycles blew themselves up in the same village. At least five people were killed and 15 wounded.

No one claimed credit, but it's believed that the bombings were perpetrated by the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). The region around Al-Qaa has had numerous al-Qaeda and ISIS attacks since the beginning of the Syrian war in 2011.

Lebanon hosts more than 1.1-million Syrian refugees, in a country with a population of just four million. The refugees have put an enormous strain on the economy and on the army. Al Manar (Lebanon-Hezbollah) and AFP and Business Day (Johannesburg)

June 12 bombing of Beirut's Blom Bank blamed on Hezbollah

A bomb has exploded in Beirut Lebanon on June 12, outside the headquarters of the Blom Bank, the second largest financial institution in Lebanon. The bomb destroyed the façade of the building, but did not cause any deaths. Lebanon's police arrested two suspects who had been pictured on surveillance video. They were part of a group linked to Hezbollah.

Hezbollah is a powerful political force in Lebanon, but it's also a terrorist puppet funded and directed by Iran. Under Iran's direction, Hezbollah militias have been fighting alongside the army of the regime of president Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

In December 2015, the US Congress passed the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act, which provides for sanctions against any foreign or domestic bank that helps Hezbollah with loans, fundraising, money laundering, or other activities.

In the weeks before the bombing, Hezbollah began a campaign of harshly criticizing Blom bank and its governor Riad Salameh, as well as other Lebanese banks. Hezbollah accused the banks of being too eager to implement the US sanctions, and appeared to be inciting violence, and did not condemn the bombing after it occurred.

Several Lebanese newspapers known to be critical of Hezbollah called the organization "bank bombers," and said that Hezbollah intended the bombing as a "message" to banks complying with the US sanctions. Congress.gov and Reuters (6/12) and Memri and Gulf News (Dubai - 6/16)

Nasrallah responds: Hezbollah gets all its funding from Iran

In a speech on Friday, Hezbollah's leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah gave a speech in which he defended Hezbollah against the accusation of being responsible for the Blom bank bombing, saying that the law passed by Congress has no effect on Hezbollah:

"Well, at the time, I said that even if the Lebanese banks comply with this law, ... we as a party and as an organization and jihadist movement consider the law pointless and we will not be hurt or affected by it.

Yes, it is true that the law puts some moral pressure on us but it will not have any financial impact on Hezbollah. I have previously explained why but I will remind those idiots of the following. We do not have any business projects or investments via banks.

Let me be very frank and I do not think anyone in the world would dare to say this publicly. We are open about the fact that Hezbollah's budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, are from the Islamic Republic of Iran. ... Our allocated money is coming to us, not through the banks. As long as Iran has money, we have money ... Just as we receive the rockets that we use to threaten Israel, we are receiving our money. No law will prevent us from receiving it.

Some people might have objections. We do not care. By the way, the resistance [to Israel], its sons, audience, and people thank the imam of the nation, His Eminence Imam Sayyid Ali Khamenei, may God grant him a long life. We also thank the Islamic Republic of Iran, its president, government, parliament, reference, religious authorities, and people for the kind support provided to us during the years of resistance and that continues to date."

The interesting thing about this speech is that Nasrallah does not deny that Hezbollah was responsible for the bombing, which makes the whole speech rather silly. It appears to be a message to the US Congress to convince them to lift the sanctions because they don't do any good. However, that message is not likely to be heeded. The National (UAE) and Al Manar (Lebanon-Hezbollah)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Jun-16 World View -- Hezbollah defends terrorist actions by saying it gets all its money from Iran thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

27-Jun-16 World View -- Israel and Turkey announcing a reconciliation agreement on Monday

Nationalistic tensions increase as UK and EU drift towards Brexit

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Nationalistic tensions increase as UK and EU drift towards Brexit


Nationalistic tensions grow in the UK and EU (AFP)
Nationalistic tensions grow in the UK and EU (AFP)

The successful Brexit referendum vote, calling for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Island to leave the European Union, has unleashed powerful nationalistic forces in both the UK and the EU, as we've been describing for years in nations around the world in a generational Crisis era. Furthermore, it's torn wide open new political fault lines within both the UK and EU, making resolution of the issues less likely and chaos more likely, and making both unions considerably weaker.

The latest developments are as follows:

David Cameron will be traveling to Brussels on Tuesday for a long-planned meeting of leaders of the 28 EU countries. But on Wednesday, he will be excluded from an all-day meeting of leaders of the other 27 EU countries, as they try to figure out what to do next. Guardian (London) and Democracy Now (London) and Breitbart News (London)

Japan's government calls emergency meeting as yen surges after Brexit

The unexpected success of the Brexit referendum caught many investors by surprise, and has shocked the markets. ( "25-Jun-16 World View -- Fallout from Brexit: Impact on geopolitics, economics, and stock markets")

Investors quickly moved into "safe havens," including dollar-denominated investments and, even more, into yen-denominated investments. This created a new global demand for yen, pushing the value of the currency higher, exacerbating Japan's deflationary spiral.

The Bank of Japan and other government officials are holding an emergency meeting on Monday to evaluate the situation and to decide whether to "print money" and pour more liquidity into the banking system in order to prevent the vicious cycle that we described two days ago.

The European Central Bank would also like "print money" by buying bonds (quantitative easing), but according to one analyst, the ECB will have a problem doing this. The reason is that there are $8 trillion in bonds in the market at negative yields (interest rates), and the ECB is running out of bonds to buy. ( "15-Jun-16 World View -- German 10 year bund yield goes negative, as deflationary spiral continues")

The People's Bank of China (PBOC) also announced a substantial weakening of the renminbi (yuan) currency, though they did it a different way. The yuan currency is pegged to a fixed exchange rate with the US dollar, and on Monday morning the PBOC weakened the yuan currency by 0.9%, its weakest fixing level since December 2010.

Meanwhile the favorite topic of all the tv financial talk shows has suddenly taken a dramatic twist. For months this year, these shows would debate for hours and hours each day whether the Fed would increase interest rates three times or two times or one time this year. Increasing interest rates would strengthen the US dollar, causing more deflation. So over the weekend sentiment has changed, and now analysts are expecting the Fed to lower interest rates, not raise them.

During the 1930s Great Depression, there was a "race to the bottom," as countries kept devaluing their currencies in order to gain a competitive advantage against other countries. Ever since the "financial crisis" of 2007-8, it's been widely feared that it could happen again, and the current situation is raising those concerns again. Dow Jones and Japan Today and Business Insider (Australia)

Israel and Turkey announcing a reconciliation agreement on Monday

Multiple media sources are saying that Israel and Turkey are announcing a reconciliation agreement on Monday, bringing to an end the deterioration in relations that followed the Mavi Marmara confrontation in 2010. (See "23-Jun-16 World View -- Turkey drops lifting of Gaza blockade demand for normalization with Israel")

According to press reports, the details of the agreement are as follows:

These have been difficult compromises for both sides.

According to a former minister to prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

"Israel will pay Turkey reparations for the Marmara? I hope the reports are untrue. If they are true, this would be national humiliation and an invitation for further flotillas and libels by haters of Israel."

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt ÇavuSoglu said the following:

"Saying that Turkey has given up one of its two remaining conditions, which is lifting the embargo and blockade on Gaza, would mean humiliating the people’s intelligence. If Turkey had given up these [conditions], then relations would have been normalized by now."

The deal will be announced on Monday, and the agreement will be signed in July, according to reports. Jerusalem Post and Hurriyet (Ankara) and Al-Jazeera (Doha)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Jun-16 World View -- Israel and Turkey announcing a reconciliation agreement on Monday thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

26-Jun-16 World View -- Britain's Millennials are furious at Boomers for Brexit vote

In new escalation, China cuts communications hotline with Taiwan

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

In new escalation, China cuts communications hotline with Taiwan


Taiwan's new president Tsai Ing-wen
Taiwan's new president Tsai Ing-wen

China is following up on last month's ominous demands that Taiwan's new president Tsai Ing-wen must explicitly affirm that Taiwan is part of China. The threatening demands were made just four days after Tsai took office. ( "26-May-16 World View -- China demands new Taiwan leader explicitly affirm that Taiwan is part of China")

On Saturday, China announced that it was cutting a communication hotline with Taiwan that was set up last year in the waning days of the previous Ma Ying-jeou administration.

Ma is leader of the pro-China Kuomintang (KMT) party, which supports the "1992 Consensus" that there is "one China," leaving it ambiguous what that means. KMT favors the "one China" principle and unification with mainland China, and which has fully supported all of China's claims in the South China Sea.

Ma and China's president Xi Jinping held a highly publicized landmark meeting in Singapore on November 7 of last year. The purpose of the meeting was for Xi to support Ma Ying-jeou's bid for reelection in the upcoming January elections. The support didn't help, as Ma's opponent Tsai Ing-wen won overwhelmingly, and took office in May.

One outcome of the November 7 meeting was to set up a high-level hotline between Taipei and Beijing to handle emergencies. The hotline was used for the first time on December 30, when officials for both countries exchanged New Year's greetings.

The new president, Tsai, is the leader of Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which in the past has favored Taiwan independence from China. When the DPP was in power prior to 2008, relations between China and Taiwan were so bad that in 2005 Beijing passed an "anti-secession law" saying that China would take military action against Taiwan if there were any moves or speeches in the direction of Taiwan independence from China.

In her inauguration speech last month, Tsai said that she "respected" the "common understanding" between Taiwan and China, but did not say what the common understanding was. This infuriated the Chinese. According to Beijing state media, Tsai made "a painful effort not to answer one important question..., whether or not to acknowledge the 1992 Consensus embodying the one China principle."

So on Saturday, China shut down the hotline that had been set up for emergencies as a result of last year's meeting between Xi and Ma. According to a Chinese official:

"Because the Taiwan side has been unable to confirm the 1992 consensus that embodies the common political foundation of the one-China principle, the mechanism for contact and communication between the two sides has already been suspended."

This infuriated Taiwanese officials who said that they will not give in to China's "blackmail and coercion."

China's action to shut down the hotline was probably triggered by another incident. On Friday, 25 Taiwanese in Cambodia, accused of telecommunications fraud, were extradited to China rather than to Taiwan. China demanded that Cambodia send them to China, since sending them to Taiwan would acknowledge Taiwan's existence as an independent entity.

Taiwan responded on Friday by using the hotline to protest the extraditions to China, and accused China of "abducting" Taiwanese citizens saying, "It is inappropriate for China to impede cooperation to fight crime for political factors." One day later, China shut down the hotline. Shanghaiist and AFP and China Post (Taipei - 31-Dec-2015)

Taiwan's politicians respond to the Brexit referendum result

The success of Britain's Brexit referendum was a shock to the Chinese as much as anyone, but it has special significance for China. If the UK can hold a referendum and leave the European Union, then why can't Taiwan and Hong Kong hold their own referendums and leave China?

Wu Ping-jui, an official in the administration of the new president Tsai Ing-wen, said that when China shut down the communications hotline in order to force the Taiwanese to accept its version of the "1992 Consensus," it was tantamount to "blackmail and coercion." He said that China's actions would simply "toughen up Taiwanese determination."

Wu then referenced the Brexit referendum. If China demands that Taiwan accept the 1992 consensus, "do they mean for us what to choose? This is not done in any democratic country." He cited the Brexit referendum, in which each and every British citizen was able to show his or her will.

An official from the opposition KMT party, which favors Taiwan integration with China, also congratulated Britain on the Brexit referendum. However, he said that no similar referendum could be held in Taiwan, because referendums could only be held on matters of crucial national interest, and because "the requirements of our Referendum Law need not be relaxed at this time, despite attempts by pro-independence legislators to do so." China Post (Taipei) and China Post

Britain's Millennials are furious at Boomers for Brexit vote


Protester in fake blood outside Westminster on Friday carries sign, 'Brexit what a bloody joke.'  Other signs read, 'I am not British - I am European' (Daily Mail)
Protester in fake blood outside Westminster on Friday carries sign, 'Brexit what a bloody joke.' Other signs read, 'I am not British - I am European' (Daily Mail)

Millennials in Britain are expressing fury that their futures have been ruined by the passage of the Brexit vote by the Boomer generation, meaning that Britain will no longer be part of the European Union, and the Millennials will be denied the benefits that their parents had.

According to YouGov exit polls, Millennials voted overwhelmingly for the "Remain" side, meaning that the UK would remain in the EU, while Boomers voted for the "Leave" side. The breakdown by age group was:

Yorkshire Post columnist Grant Woodward wrote:

"Brexit will come to be seen as the Baby Boomers’ ultimate betrayal of younger generations and those that will follow. A knee-jerk response to a series of red herrings, a protest vote with the potential for long-term catastrophe that they won’t be around to endure."

Typical tweets were as follows:

"So all the old people gave us a future we didn't want. You've all had your careers, why screw it up for us"

"I'm scared. Jokes aside I'm actually scared. Today an older generation has voted to ruin the future for the younger generation. I'm scared."

"I'm actually really upset how selfish the older generations have been"

"The fact that the older generation have whole heartedly made a decision that the youth of today DO NOT WANT seems strange, yes I'm bitter"

Among the American politicians, Donald Trump is on the "Leave" side, while Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are on the "Remain" side. Daily Mail (London) and Telegraph (London)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Jun-16 World View -- Britain's Millennials are furious at Boomers for Brexit vote thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

25-Jun-16 World View -- Fallout from Brexit: Impact on geopolitics, economics, and stock markets

Global stock markets plummet after Brexit surprise

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Successful 'Brexit' referendum vote throws UK and EU into political chaos


Rock of Gibraltar with Spain the background (AFP)
Rock of Gibraltar with Spain the background (AFP)

Few people doubt that the surprise passage of Britain's "Brexit" referendum, directing that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland should withdraw from the European Union after being a member since 1975, will cause a great deal of political chaos in the next few weeks and months. Pro-Brexit politicians claim the chaos is only temporary, and it will soon settle down, and the result will be better for the UK.

Nigel Farage, leader of the right-wing pro-Brexit Ukip party, said exuberantly, "Let June go down in history of our independence day!" Others pro-Brexit politicians shouted, "We've taken our country back!"

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the wish that the chaos will end is fantasy. The "financial crisis" of 2007-2009 set in motion generational forces that have caused the chaos to increase every month, every year. That's true in Europe, with the euro crisis, the migrant crisis, and the Ukraine crisis; it's true in the Mideast, with the Arab Awakening, the Syria war, the Yemen war, the rise of ISIS, the collapse in Iran-Saudi Arabia relations, and the meltdowns in Libya and Egypt; and it's true in Asia with China's belligerence in the East and South China Sea. This is worldwide trend that's been growing for a decade, and in this generational Crisis era, it's literally impossible for the growth in chaos to stop.

As I've been writing for years, nationalism, racism and xenophobia have been growing in countries around the world, as they do in every generational Crisis era. All these factors played into the surprise Brexit vote, in the form of anti-German, anti-French and anti-migrant sentiment. Furious voters wanted to get revenge against the élite in both the UK and the EU and "send a message" that they're not going to take it anymore. There have been some reports of "buyer's remorse" -- that at least some of the pro-Brexit voters wanted to send a message, but didn't really want to leave the EU. Nonetheless, the deed appears to be done.

So the pro-Brexit people who expect the EU and the UK to settle down into a non-chaotic "new normal" are making major misjudgments. They're especially overlooking the following: Just as they were angry, just as they were expressing their nationalism, racism, and xenophobia, just as they wanted revenge, the people who lost are also angry, and also will want to get revenge by expressing their nationalism, racism, and xenophobia.

The question really is not WHETHER they're going to seek revenge. The question is HOW they're going to seek revenge. Here are some possibilities:

If you were to ask a UK or EU politician whether any of the events in the above list are likely to happen, he would tell you, "No, no chance whatsoever!" However, if you had asked a UK or EU politician a few months ago (or even a few days ago) whether the UK would leave the EU, you would have gotten a similar response.

As I like to point out, almost every day, something new happens that a few years ago you would have to have been crazy to believe would ever happen. Whether it's in America, Europe, Africa, the Mideast or Asia, things that could never happen are happening.

In fact, every one of the items listed above is quite reasonable, once you realize how angry, how nationalistic, and how xenophobic people have become in many countries. That anger could be translated into anything from an election referendum to a war in a matter of days.

The European Union was formed after two world wars and the Great Depression. Institutions were put into place with the specific purpose of preventing a new war between European nations, and preventing the financial abuse that led to the Great Depression. Today, with the survivors of World War II gone, anger, nationalism, xenophobia, and stupidity are back in full force.

I can't tell you which of the above events will actually happen, but I would be very surprised if none of them happened. At the very least, expect more chaos, and one new crisis after another. Guardian (London) and Reuters and BBC and Vox and TRT World (Istanbul)

Global stock markets plummet after Brexit surprise

A global stock selloff occurred on Friday, following the Brexit vote. The plunge began in Asia, spread across Europe, and then to North America. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell over 600 points. Britain's sterling currency fell 10% against the US dollar, to its weakest value in 31 years. Money poured into safe havens, notably US Treasury bonds. The demand for the bonds increased their prices, which therefore lowered their yields (interest rates) dramatically.

The question is: What happens next? Will stock prices continue to fall when the markets open again on Monday? Are we in a stock market crash?


S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio at 24.23 on June 24, indicating a huge and growing stock market bubble (WSJ)
S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio at 24.23 on June 24, indicating a huge and growing stock market bubble (WSJ)

First off, we have to say that it's possible. As regular readers know, Generational Dynamics predicts that we're headed for a global financial panic and crisis. According to Friday's Wall Street Journal, the S&P 500 Price/Earnings index (stock valuations index) on Friday morning (June 24) was at an astronomically high 24.22. This is far above the historical average of 14, indicating that the stock market bubble is still growing, and could burst at any time. Generational Dynamics predicts that the P/E ratio will fall to the 5-6 range or lower, which is where it was as recently as 1982, resulting in a Dow Jones Industrial Average of 3000 or lower.

Second, let's take a look at the 1929 stock market crash. The DJIA fell 24% on October 28-29, but then regained 18% on the next two days. That would more accurately be called a "panic" rather than a "crash." The actual crash continued for years, until mid-1932, when it had fallen to 90% of its peak value on September 3, 1929.

So when we say that "it's possible," we mean that there might still be some sort of panic next week, but a real crash would take place over a longer period of time.

The way it works is through forced selling. What happened in 1929 is that investors had borrowed money (on margin) to purchase stocks. When the price of stocks bought on margin start to fall, then the stock broker gives the investor a "margin call," which means that the investor has to come up with more money. This usually means selling some stock, and if a lot of investors are forced to sell, then stock prices fall again, and there's a vicious cycle of stock prices falling, margin calls, stock selling, stock prices falling, and so forth. This can go on for years, and it did from 1929-1932.

To this day, nobody knows what triggered the panic of 1929, and there's certainly no way to tell what will trigger the next panic, or whether Brexit will do so.

What we do know is that the current stock market bubble will burst, because every bubble in history always has, despite claims that "this time it's different." So it's possible that Brexit will be the trigger that causes the current global stock market and credit bubble to burst.

What's important about the current situation is that thousands of investors were caught completely by surprise by Brexit referendum win. Many of them had invested heavily in sterling currency and the stock market, expecting that the values of these investments would increase when the Brexit referendum lost. So many investors were forced to sell when the Brexit referendum won in order to service debts that they'd incurred to make the investments in the first place, just like the 1929 margin calls.

So it's possible that enough investors were caught by surprise and a new vicious cycle will occur. It has to happen sometime, and it may or may not be now.

However, there's one other thing we know. Central banks around the world are well aware of this vicious cycle possibility, and reports indicate that they're "printing money" and pouring into the markets in order to head off exactly this kind of vicious cycle. The Bank of England, European Central Bank and the People's Bank of China have already said they were ready to provide liquidity if needed to ensure global market stability. However, one sign that they're running out of the ability to do that is the huge amount of debt based on negative interest rates. ( "15-Jun-16 World View -- German 10 year bund yield goes negative, as deflationary spiral continues")

So maybe the central banks will succeed this time or maybe they won't. We'll have to wait until next week to find out. Reuters and Washington Post and CNBC and AAP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Jun-16 World View -- Fallout from Brexit: Impact on geopolitics, economics, and stock markets thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

24-Jun-16 World View -- South China Sea: China's list of supporters is found to be delusional

Cognitive dissonance and doubling down in China

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China claims that 60 countries support its South China Sea policy


China's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hua Chunying
China's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hua Chunying

Any day now, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, a United Nations international court in the Hague is supposed to issue a ruling on a case brought by the Philippines against China on the merits of China's claims to the entire South China Sea. The case is brought under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which China claims doesn't apply to them.

China always says that its claims "are indisputable," and this is clearly a lie, since the claims are widely disputed. In fact, China's claims are at least delusional, and may even be fabricated, as we reported a few days ago. ( "22-Jun-16 World View -- China's 'ironclad proof' of South China Sea claims revealed as hoax")

Not only is China delusional about some of their evidence, it now appears that they're also delusional about the kind of support they're getting from the international community.

Even though the Court's ruling would be little more than symbolic, and even though there would be no way to enforce the Court's ruling against China, and even though China has already said that it will ignore any ruling, and even though China has bitterly complained about and even threatened the Philippines for even going to the Court in the first place, it's clear that Chinese officials are close to a state of panic over a possible ruling against them.

Out of anxiety, China is resorting to a full-court press in the propaganda realm, and are doing everything they can to convince other countries to endorse their position. In particular, China is targeting many distant countries and land-locked countries, with no direct interest in the South China Sea.

Last week, at China's regular Foreign Ministry press conference, the following bizarre exchange took place:

"Q: We notice that the governments of Sierra Leone and Kenya have recently joined in the chorus supporting China's South China Sea position. Nearly 60 countries have publicly endorsed China's stance, and more and more countries have shown their support to China. Is the Chinese government behind this? Is the Chinese government trying to extend its "circle of friends" on the South China Sea issue?

A: The South China Sea issue is supposed to be an issue between China and a few littoral countries of the South China Sea. ... [Further comments evading the question]

Q: First question, how many countries have publicly endorsed China's position on the South China Sea issue up to now? The previous press conference mentioned 40, but just now a journalist said nearly 60. ...

A: On your first question, a journalist just mentioned that nearly 60 countries support China. Compared with seven or eight countries that hold the opposite position, I think the figure itself speaks volumes."

According to the first questioner, unnamed but presumably from Chinese media, said that Sierra Leone and Kenya, as if it matters whether two African country are for or against China.

In the second answer, the Foreign Ministry spokesman makes official China's belief that it's supported by 60 countries, with only seven or eight opposed. As we'll see below, these claims are delusional.

Why are these numbers even relevant? There is some suggestion that China is trying to line up countries on its side, so that if the Court rules against China, then China can go to the United Nations General Assembly and try to get a vote rejecting the Court's decision. If successful, China could then claim that the United Nations itself has rejected the decision of a United Nations court.

Anything is possible, but I would be surprised if anything like a majority of the United Nations members voted to reject the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). UNCLOS is a part of international law that has been used to settle many disputes and keep the peace since the end of World War II, and if UNCLOS is rejected in this case, then it will open up many disputes that were previously thought to be settled. South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and China's Foreign Ministry (14-Jun)

China cites UNCLOS in disagreement with Japan

China claims to completely reject the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and has said that this international law may not apply to China's claims in the South China Sea.

And yet, in a completely different dispute, China's Foreign Ministry cited UNCLOS in support of its view on the status of Okinotori Islands in relation to a disagreement between Taiwan and Japan. The details of the dispute are not important to us, but here's the beginning of the quote from the Foreign Ministry spokesman:

"Q: On May 23, the Taiwan authority said that "it does not take a particular stance in legal terms" on whether Okinotori is an island or a reef. It is commented that the new Taiwan administration has gone backwards on the issue of Okinotori, undermining the rights and interests of Taiwan fishermen. How do you comment?

A: Okinotori is an isolated reef in the west Pacific distant from the Japanese soil. Pursuant to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Okinotori cannot have the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf. Waters off 12 nautical miles of it are high seas, where all countries are entitled to freedoms on the high seas such as fishing and so forth. On April 2012, the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) adopted the recommendations in regard to the submission made by Japan on the outer limits of its continental shelf, rebuffing Japan's illegal claims based on Okinotori."

It's striking that China is appealing to UNCLOS when it's convenient, just a few weeks before a Court decision that it has already rejected, along with UNCLOS. If, as suggested above, China goes ahead with a plan to try to get the UN General Assembly to strike down UNCLOS, you can be certain that the debate will mention China's position on Okinotori.

This just adds to a growing picture that Chinese officials are delusional regarding their claims to the South China Sea. China's Foreign Ministry (24-May) and The Diplomat

South China Sea: Which countries are on China's side?

China is claiming that 60 countries are on China's side, with only seven or eight opposed. However, an analysis by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) of the Center for Strategic and International Studies has done the actual research on this issue. AMTI has searched publicly available, official statements in an effort to determine the real positions taken by countries.

What does it mean to be "on China's side"? What AMTI was looking for was not whether countries take one side or the other on China's claims in the South China Sea, but whether countries take one side or the other on whether the Court's ruling will be binding.

AMTI has identified 57 countries that China appears to believe are its supporters. Of those, 8 have publicly confirmed their support, 4 have denied Beijing’s claim of support, and 45 have remained publicly silent or have issued statements that are considerably vaguer than indicated by China. In contrast, 11 countries plus the European Union have said that the arbitral award will be legally binding and have called on both China and the Philippines to respect it.

The AMTI has divided these countries into four groups:

So China's Foreign Ministry has it backwards: Lots of nations provide no support for China, while only seven are supporting China.

Two of these nations, Afghanistan and Lesotho, are landlocked. Four of them, The Gambia, Kenya, Niger and Sudan, are far away in Africa. Vanuatu is a South Pacific island, once again far from the South China Sea. Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) and The Diplomat

Cognitive dissonance and doubling down in China

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, cognitive dissonance explains many of history's greatest disasters.

The term "cognitive dissonance" refers to the mental problems that occur when deeply held beliefs are contradicted by real life events. The literature contains numerous examples of what happens. Some of the most dramatic examples are those who believe that God will end the world on a specific day, and only true believers will be saved. In many cases, people quit their jobs, sell all their belongings and settle all their affairs, and then wait for the named day.

When the world doesn't end, they have to deal with the consequences of their actions. According to psychologist Leon Festinger's 1957 book "A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance," there are two kinds of behaviors that are common. Some admit they were wrong and devote themselves to returning to their previous lives.

Others "double down." They say that they were right all along, but that God decided to give the world one more chance. They then devote their entire lives to proselytizing. It's possible that several religions began this way.

China's cognitive dissonance is an extremely dangerous situation. China's population apparently widely believes that China's South China Sea claims are "indisputable." This is already clearly wrong, and will be publicly proven wrong if, as expected, the Court rules against China. As we described a few days ago, China has put forward "ironclad proof" in the form of evidence that's at best delusional and at worst fabricated. And China's rejection of UNCLOS is, in my opinion, not going to be widely supported, especially after China itself has cited UNCLOS when convenient.

A commenter to my last article wrote the following:

"Since Sun Tzu introduced his Art of War in the 5th century BC, making false claims, as a form of deceiving an opponent to gain advantage, has been prevalent in China since his time. In particular, to eliminate the influence of Indian Buddhism in China in the Three Kingdom Period (220-280), Chinese historian Yu Huan stated in his work ‘Weilue’ (lit: ‘A Brief History of Wei’): ‘The Buddhist Sutra are on the whole similar to the Canon of Lao-tzu in content. That is because when Lao-tzu left the passes in the west, he traversed the Western Regions and reached India, where he converted the barbarians into Buddhists’ (see Kenneth Ch’en’s ‘Buddhism in China: A Historical Survey’ published by Princeton University Press (1964, page 51). In this context, China’s "Ironclad Proof" is no exception. However, it is a clear indication that Beijing has been so desperate to use whatever it could imagine to support for its nine-dash line claim."

This commenter confirms what we've already known: China is doing everything to prepare for war, and probably already considers itself to be at war.

There is no chance at all that Chinese officials will admit that they've been wrong, or that its population will change its opinions. China is already heavily militarizing the South China Sea, and is already attacking Vietnam's and Philippines' ships with its military. China will react to its cognitive dissonance by doubling down. At best, this will mean a great deal vitriolic anger on the part of Chinese officials. Eventually, it will mean an irreversible military action that will spiral into full-scale war. Wired (Aug 2010)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Jun-16 World View -- South China Sea: China's list of supporters is found to be delusional thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

23-Jun-16 World View -- Turkey drops lifting of Gaza blockade demand for normalization with Israel

Russia improves military ties with Israel, will not veto relationship with Turkey

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey and Israel close to restoring diplomatic relations


Proposed seaport on artificial island off coast of Gaza
Proposed seaport on artificial island off coast of Gaza

Reports indicate that Turkey and Israel are close to restoring diplomatic relations which deteriorated sharply in 2010 after the "Mavi Marmara" incident, during which nine citizens of Turkey were killed by Israel's military.

Turkey was the first Muslim country to formally recognize the state of Israel in 1949, and relations where generally good for decades. When Turkey's current president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, came to power in 2002 as prime minister, relations became more tense, but still cordial.

Relations seriously deteriorated, starting in 2008, over Israel's relationship with Gaza. Israel imposed a total blockade of Gaza, and Egypt also closed the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Israel, triggering violent protests by the Gazans. (From January 2008: "In dramatic scene, 60,000 Gazans pour into Egypt through holes blasted through border wall")

Tensions grew in Gaza through 2008. Hamas, the terrorist group governing Gaza, was launching dozens of rockets into Israeli territory every day, while Israeli air strikes struck weapons sites in Gaza, but also killed dozens of Gazans. In December, the exchanges of fire escalated into a full-scale war (Operation Cast Lead), beginning with air strikes followed by a full-scale ground invasion.

At the end of January 2009, Israel's president Shimon Peres and Erdogan got into a passionate debate at the World Economic Forum in Davos. After a heated exchange, a furious Erdogan walked out of the meeting, and went home to a hero's welcome when he returned to Turkey.

In June 2010, international activists send an aid flotilla to Gaza to break Israel's blockade. Israel's military intercepted the flotilla and boarded the lead boat, the Mavi Marmara. In the ensuing fracas, nine Turkish citizens were killed. The entire incident was a disaster for Israel. ( "1-Jun-2010 News -- Wide condemnation of Israel over Gaza flotilla")

As a result, Turkey effectively cut off almost all relations with Israel. It's only now, six years later, that reports indicate that a formula has been found for reconciliation.

It's believed that the situation in Syria has caused Erdogan to be more willing to compromise than he has been in the past. There are three reasons:

These reasons have apparently convinced Erdogan to compromise with Israel. Negotiators from Turkey and Israel are expected to complete a draft agreement in the next few days. Jerusalem Post and Washington Post and AP (30-Jan-2009)

Turkey drops demand for lifting the blockade of Gaza

Erdogan has consistently made three demands of Israel before relations could be restored. Israel would have to formally apologize to Turkey, and Israel did that in 2013. Israel would have to pay compensation to the families of the Turks who died in the Mavi Marmara confrontation, and reports indicate that Israel has agreed to pay $20 million.

The third requirement was that Israel must lift the blockade of Gaza. Turkey has repeatedly said that this is an absolute requirement. Israel has repeatedly said that lifting the blockade was absolutely impossible.

According to a report on RFI, the Turkey has dropped the requirement to lift the blockade, based on a compromise:

Jerusalem Post and Hurriyet (Ankara) and i24News (Israel) and Deutsche Welle

Proposal for offshore seaport raises controversy

The third item in the list above, the proposal for an offshore seaport has been around for a while, and is extremely controversial.

The proposal was first put forward in 2011 by Israel's transportation minister Yisrael Katz. The seaport would be built in international waters, located on a 5-km-long artificial island. The port will be connected to the land by a detachable bridge, which will be under Israeli supervision. Israel would be able to close the bridge at any time, if necessary.

According to Katz:

"I do not think it is right to lock up two million people without any connection to the world. Israel has no interest to make life harder for the population there. But because of security concerns we can’t build an airport or seaport in Gaza."

However, there are plenty of critics.

Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas is said to be opposed to the project, since it would cut the final strings connecting Gaza to the West Bank. Palestinians criticize the project as another excuse to delay removing the Gaza blockade.

An Israeli commentator, Martin Sherman calls the proposal "so glaringly absurd that it transcends what you mistakenly believed was the pinnacle of imbecility," and says that it would encourage further terrorism. Oil Price and Washington Post and Israel Hayom (27-May)

Russia improves military ties with Israel, will not veto relationship with Turkey

At a meeting in Moscow on June 7, Russia's president Vladimir Putin and Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to strengthen military ties, and to hold joint naval and air military exercises during the summer.

At the same meeting, Putin said that he felt "exceptionally positive" about efforts to restore relations between Israel and Turkey. Putin said, "We believe that any movement of these states and peoples toward each other will have a positive impact on the international situation in general. We welcome this process." Bloomberg (8-June) and Debka (10-June)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Jun-16 World View -- Turkey drops lifting of Gaza blockade demand for normalization with Israel thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

22-Jun-16 World View -- China's 'ironclad proof' of South China Sea claims revealed as hoax

A request to readers: Protect the Generational Dynamics legacy

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China's 'ironclad proof' of South China Sea claims revealed as hoax


Supposedly, this is a picture of Su Chengfen's 600 year old book (China Daily)
Supposedly, this is a picture of Su Chengfen's 600 year old book (China Daily)

An investigation by the BBC reveals that a Chinese claim of "ironclad proof" of China's South China Sea claims is apparently a hoax.

For several weeks, China's state media has been making a big deal about an "ancient book," 600 years old, that proves that Chinese fishermen were fishing in the Paracel Islands and beyond. From there, according to a leap of logic that isn't clear to me, China says that this is "ironclad proof" that the Paracel Islands belong to China.

Here's the description from Chinese media:

"Su Chengfen has spent all his life fishing in the reef-filled South China Sea, guided by a handwritten book more than 600 years old that depicts routes to various remote islands from Hainan province.

The former fishing vessel captain, who lives in the town of Tanmen, cherishes the book, wrapping it in layers of paper even though at 81 it is impossible for him to return to the sea.

He has always known it is precious, as it contains detailed information handed down over the generations, but at first he had not realized its true significance.

Specialists say the information the book contains is undeniable proof of China's sovereignty over Huangyan Island.

"Unlike other versions, it depicts the exact route to Huangyan Island. It clearly proves that generations of Chinese fishermen have worked on the island," said Zhou Weimin, a retired professor at Hainan University."

Another Chinese official says, "It is ironclad proof. ... We can deduce China's historic fishing and sailing rights in the South China Sea, as well as ownership."

Huangyan Island is China's name for Scarborough Shoal, a reef that is a little less than 200 kilometers from Subic Bay, well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone or EEZ. So there's absolutely no way that that this book provides "ironclad proof" of anything. Even if the book is as described, it only proves that Chinese fishermen were fishing in Philippine waters centuries ago. It wouldn't be surprising if someone discovered that Philippines fishermen fished in Chinese waters centuries ago, but that doesn't mean that China is Philippines' sovereign territory.

In the sixth decade BC, Julius Caesar's army conquered France, as he described in his Gallic Wars. But that doesn't mean that France is the sovereign territory of Italy. So Su Chengfen's book, even if it existed, would have no value whatsoever that I can see.

However, the BBC sent its China correspondent, John Sudworth, to visit 81 year old Su Chengfen in the town of Tanmen on Hainan island. He wanted to speak to Su, and see this wonderful book for himself. According to Su:

"It was passed down from generation to generation. From my grandfather's generation, to my father's generation, then to me.

It mainly taught us how to go somewhere and come back, how to go to the Paracels and the Spratlys, and how to come back to Hainan Island."

OK. So Sudworth asked to see the book, but Su tells him the book doesn't exist.

"Although the book was important, I threw it away because it was broken.

It was flipped through too many times. The salty seawater on the hands had corroded it... In the end it was no longer readable so I threw it away."

According to Su, the book was thrown away in the late 1980s.

So apparently the whole thing is a hoax. The picture from Chinese media, shown at the top of this article, is some other book. The layers of paper, in which the "cherished book" was wrapped, don't exist either. The "cherished book" was simply thrown out, according to Su.

In particular, all the stuff depicting the "exact route" to the Scarborough Shoal is a 30 year old memory in the head of the 81 year old Su.

Some Chinese media reports claim that there are other books, but look again at the paragraph quoted above:

"Unlike other versions, it depicts the exact route to Huangyan Island. It clearly proves that generations of Chinese fishermen have worked on the island," said Zhou Weimin, a retired professor at Hainan University."

So the other books do not depict the route to Scarborough Shoal.

So China's "ironclad proof" consists of a book that doesn't exist, that may or may not have ever existed, and whose contents if it existed can only be guessed at. And even if it did exist, it only proves that Chinese fishermen were fishing in waters belonging to the Philippines, much as they're doing today. BBC and China Daily (24-May) and Julius Caesar - Gallic Wars - 58-51 BC

The craziness of China's claims in South China Sea

The above story is so crazy and farcical that I would barely believe it happened if I hadn't verified that the claims were made on several Chinese media sites and were refuted on the BBC site, as well as on the televised BBC World News, which showed Sudworth's actual interview with Su. And yet it did happen.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, a generational Crisis era is in many ways similar to a human being's midlife crisis. A man may have a happy home with a wife and kids, but suddenly he becomes obsessed with a woman at work and has to have an affair with her, and does, using any ridiculous or bizarre reason to justify it, and ends up wrecking the lives of everyone around him. China is displaying the same kind of destructive and self-destructive behavior as a nation.

A 2014 book called The South China Sea: The Struggle for Power in Asia by Bill Hayton is a detailed analysis of all of China's claims to the South China Sea and finds them, to no one's surprise, invalid. If they had any validity, then China would not hesitate to ask the relevant United Nations court to rule on them. Instead, China has angrily refused to let any court tell them what to do, and instead is spending billions of dollars in a vast military buildup that can only lead to war.

Presumably, China is doing this for economic reasons, but Hayton quotes oil industry experts who say that they're skeptical that the South China Sea contains immense reserves of oil and gas, and that the fish stocks are becoming depleted.

Instead, the South China Sea has become a highly nationalistic symbol, backed up by highly irrational, farcical and bizarre justifications, like the alleged 600 year old book described above, and by the widespread belief that the United States is too weak or too tired of war to fight, or that China will win such a war within a few days. This is the same kind of irrational belief that caused America's South to attack Fort Sumter, even though the North was three times as big, or that caused Japan to bomb Pearl Harbor, even though the US was five times as big. In all cases, including China today, these beliefs have been totally delusional and disastrous for everyone.

China always says that its claims "are indisputable," and this much at least is a total lie since the claims are very much in dispute, and are currently being adjudicated by the Permanent Court of Arbitration, a United Nations international court in the Hague, which is expected to rule on counterclaims by the Philippines in the near future. China has huffed and puffed and blustered on this issue, saying that the court has no right to adjudicate or that any ruling would be ignored, sounding like nothing so much as that middle-aged man caught having an affair.

Irrational beliefs that lead to world wars are typical of generational Crisis eras. The 600 year old book won't be the last one and the Chinese themselves, the ones who survive, will regret it most of all. Asia Sentinel and Economist (13-Sep-2014) and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)

France calls for European navies to patrol the South China Sea

The military buildup in the South China Sea is not exclusively on China's side. The US Navy has been conducting Freedom of Navigation patrols in the South China Sea, and Japan has sailed warships into Vietnam's Cam Ranh Bay seaport, for the first time since Japan was forced to withdraw from Vietnam at the end of World War II.

France's defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is calling for the European Union to get involved in the South China Sea dispute. According to Le Drian:

"If we want to contain the risk of conflict, we must defend this right, and defend it ourselves.

If the law of the sea is not respected today in the China seas, it will be threatened tomorrow in the Arctic, in the Mediterranean, or elsewhere. ...

This is a message that France will continue to be present at international forums. It’s also a message that France will continue to act upon, by sailing its ships and flying its planes wherever international law will allow, and wherever operational needs request that we do so."

France's navy is already involved, as it has already been deployed three times in the South China Sea so far this year. France has also signed a $40 billion deal in April to sell advanced submarines to Australia. Le Drian would like European navies to have a "regular and visible" presence in the region, to uphold the law of the sea and freedom of navigation.

China's aggressive and virtually unsupported claims to the South China Sea are not the local or regional issue that one might expect, but are quickly expanding to become worldwide international issues. Foreign Policy and Bloomberg and Straits Times (Singapore)

A request to readers: Protect the Generational Dynamics legacy

The text and images for all the 4000 articles that have appeared on the Generational Dynamics web site since 2003 -- over six million words and 4,000 images -- are now available to be downloaded. This includes PDF files for the three books that I've written. They're now available on the download site http://www.generationaldynamics.com/dl/.

With the worsening situation in the South China Sea, with several wars going on in the Mideast, with more displaced refugees in the world today than in decades, just one miscalculation by one person could result in a war that spirals into something really major. The entire internet, including my web site, could instantly become unavailable.

Add to that the fact that I, like anyone else, could be hit by a bus tomorrow. Any one of these events could mean the immediate disappearance of my web site and almost 15 years of work that I put into developing Generational Dynamics would be gone.

So I've posted a download page providing downloads of all the major documents and files, over six million words of text. I would like to ask as many people as possible to download these files and save them somewhere, so that if ten years from now someone is looking for the information about Generational Dynamics, then somebody somewhere will still have a copy, and the work will survive.

The purpose is to protect the Generational Dynamics legacy, and to make sure that this work is preserved, and available to researchers who write books, professors who teach courses, and governments that make policy. Please download these files now. Generational Dynamics download page

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Jun-16 World View -- China's 'ironclad proof' of South China Sea claims revealed as hoax thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

21-Jun-16 World View -- Iran threatens coup, after Bahrain revokes citizenship of Shia cleric

Iran reacts to a series of repeated anti-Shia moves by Bahrain and Saudi Arabia

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iran threatens coup, after Bahrain revokes citizenship of Shia cleric


Pearl Square in Manama, Bahrain, after March 15 2011 protests.  The beautiful Pearl monument was torn down by the regime on March 18, because it was thought to be encouraging protests.
Pearl Square in Manama, Bahrain, after March 15 2011 protests. The beautiful Pearl monument was torn down by the regime on March 18, because it was thought to be encouraging protests.

Bahrain has revoked the citizenship of the kingdom's most prominent Shia cleric, Sheikh Isa Ahmed Qasim, accusing him of promoting "sectarianism and violence."

Bahrain's population is 2/3 Shia Muslim, but the country is led by an oppressive Sunni government closely allied with Saudi Arabia. In the days following the "Arab Spring" protests in 2011, Bahrain's security services overreacted with extremely violent and bloody massacres of unarmed protesters, backed up by troops from Saudi Arabia. The protests began in Bahrain on February 14, 2011. Dozens of protesters were killed, over 1,600 were arrested, and thousands were injured.

According to a statement issued by Bahrain's government on Monday:

"Accordingly, the citizenship of Isa Ahmed Qasim has been revoked. Ever since he received the Bahraini nationality, Qasim has established organizations that follow an external religious political authority, played a major role in creating an extremist sectarian environment and worked on dividing the society alongside sects and in accordance with subordination to his orders.

Qasim has also adopted theocracy and emphasized on the absolute allegiance to the Religious Clerics. Through his sermons and “fatwas”, he exploited the religious pulpit for political purposes to serve foreign interests. He also encouraged sectarianism and violence. Qasim has kept his decisions and positions, which he dictated as religious rituals, dependent on his continuous communication with hostile foreign organizations and parties. In addition, Qasim collected funds without complying with the provisions of the law.

On several occasions, Isa Qasim has violated the supremacy of the law by issuing edicts (fatwas) that affected the elections and its processes. He influenced voters’ decisions using religious sentiments. This extends to all aspects of public affairs, undermining the rights of the people and the rule of law. He also rallied many groups to prevent the issuance of the second section of the Family Law (Jafari Section)."

The phrase "to serve foreign interests" presumably refers to Iran and Hezbollah. Although the 2011 protests were finally put down by massacring the protesters, there have been sporadic protests since then, and the Bahrain government evidently is afraid of a repeat of 2011's full scale anti-Sunni riots.

The government of Iran, which is an equally bloody regime that massacres innocent protesters, issued a statement criticizing the revoking of Qasim's citizenship, and appeared to threaten Bahrain's government with a coup. The statement begins by reciting crimes of Bahrain's regime, the same crimes that Iran's regime regularly commits:

"The oppressed Muslim nation of Bahrain had been under the cruel, biased, unfair, and illegitimate regime of Al-Khalifa for long years. Despite furious acts which included unashamedly racist discrimination, arrest of their religious leaders, imprisoning and torturing women and children, stripping citizenship, violation of their rights without any qualms and several other crimes, this patient people have exercised patience; tightening the pressures has never distracted Bahraini people of their non-violent approach. ...

Seemingly, the Al-Khalifa regime has underestimated and misinterpreted the scope and magnitude of the public wrath; encroachment of the religious leader's rights is definitely a sure redline for the public the crossing of which would set the region ablaze, leaving no alternative than resorting to armed resistance.

The consequences of the possible conflict would be beyond estimation and would rewrite the history through toppling the despotic regime. The supporters of the regime in Manama should accept responsibility for legitimizing the brazen rulers of Bahrain for any bloody confrontation."

The last sentence can and will be interpreted as encouraging a coup in Bahrain, and suggests that Iran would support a coup.

Iran's puppet terror organization, Lebanon-based Hezbollah, issued its own threatening statement, criticizing Bahrain's action, and "[calling] on the Bahrainis to decisively express their rage and discontent in face of the regime's action against Sheikh Qasim." Bahrain News Agency and BBC and Mehr News (Tehran) and Al Manar (Beirut-Hezbollah)

Iran reacts to a series of repeated anti-Shia moves by Bahrain and Saudi Arabia

Normally, Iran is publicly silent about Bahrain's regime, lest it be accused of meddling in Bahrain's affairs, and thereby inviting outsiders to meddle in its own affairs. Furthermore, Bahrain's Shia leaders prefer that Iran stay out, because they like to maintain the public pretense that Iran is not supporting Bahrain's Shia anti-government clerics.

However, the action of revoking the citizenship of Sheikh Isa Ahmed Qasim appears to have been a kind of "last straw" for Iran, after a series of actions by Saudi and Bahrain officials targeting Shia leaders in their respective countries.

The most explosive action occurred in January, when Saudi Arabia executed 47 alleged terrorists -- 46 Sunnis and one Shia, Mohammad Baqir Nimr al-Nimr. Iran and Shias were infuriated because the execution implied that Shia terrorism is equivalent to Sunni terrorism. Iranian mobs firebombed the Saudi embassy in Tehran, and attacked the consulate in Meshaad. Saudi Arabia and Iran broke diplomatic relations as a result. Other Saudi allies followed suit. ( "18-Jan-16 World View -- Pakistan tries to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran")

Last month, Bahrain's courts sentenced Shia opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman, after he had been found guilty of charges relating to "publicly inciting hatred, an act which disturbed public peace, inciting non-compliance with the law and insulting public institutions." Salman's Al Wefaq National Islamic Society issued a statement calling the decision "an alarming politically-motivated verdict [that] only deepens the political and constitutional crisis in Bahrain."

Early last week, Bahrain's government shut down the Al Wefaq National Islamic Society.

Then on Thursday, a Bahrain court sentenced eight people to 15-year jail terms for forming a "terror group." They also had their citizenships revoked, after convicting them of "establishing and raising donations to fund a terror organization named 'Bahraini Hezbollah'." The implication is that "Bahraini Hezbollah" is a terror group funded by Iran.

Then on Monday, Bahrain revoked the citizenship of Sheikh Isa Ahmed Qasim, Bahrain's leading Shia cleric, and a leader of the opposition.

Perhaps, under "normal" circumstances, this court action would have been ignored by Iran and everyone else. But after so many actions of the same kind, Iran's leaders may have felt they had to do SOMETHING, and they made their veiled threat of a coup, even though they know that an actual coup could lead to full-scale war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. BBC (30-May) and Al Wefaq (30-May) and Al Arabiya (17-Jun) and Press Tv (Tehran, 17-Jun)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Jun-16 World View -- Iran threatens coup, after Bahrain revokes citizenship of Shia cleric thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

20-Jun-16 World View -- Historic Orthodox Christian gathering in Crete exposes sharp divisions

History of Catholic and Orthodox Christian 'Ecumenical' Councils

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Orthodox 'Great and Holy Council' marred by defections and controversies


Eastern Orthodox icon 'Christ's Descent into Hades'.  Unlike Muslims, who forbid the depiction of Mohammed, Orthodox Churches are adorned with many such icons and monuments
Eastern Orthodox icon 'Christ's Descent into Hades'. Unlike Muslims, who forbid the depiction of Mohammed, Orthodox Churches are adorned with many such icons and monuments

It's been in the planning stages since it was first announced in 1961, and now that it's taking place, the news is more about the defections and controversies than the event itself.

It's called the "Great and Holy Council (GHC) of the Eastern Orthodox Churches," and it's meant to be the first ecumenical meeting of all the Orthodox churches since 787. At that time, the Catholic and Orthodox Churches were still together, and they held the Seventh Ecumenical Council of (almost) all the Christian Churches to decide such important issues as whether it's sacrilegious to display images and icons of Jesus Christ in churches.

Since 787, the Orthodox and Catholic churches have been split. In the "Schism of 1054," the Pope and the Patriarch of Constantinople excommunicated each other, and in 1204 the Catholic Crusades attacked, sacked and plundered the Orthodox church in Constantinople.

So Sunday was the first day of the Great and Holy Council, hosted in Crete by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, considered "first among equals." It would be the first ecumenical meeting of Orthodox churches since 787. It would bring together the leaders of all 14 independent Eastern Orthodox churches, representing more than 300 million Orthodox Christians.

Unfortunately, there have been several disagreements and defections.

The first disagreement was that Russia and Bulgaria did not want to recognize Bartholomew as "first among equals," so they insisted that the meeting be held at a round table. That issue was resolved, but Bulgaria pulled out anyway, citing a lack of "particularly important" topics on the agenda.

The Damascus-based Antioch Patriarchate also pulled out because of a dispute it was having with the Jerusalem Patriarchate over which of them had jurisdiction over the small Orthodox community in Qatar. The Georgian Orthodox Church pulled out over a doctrinal issue.

One of the most divisive issues in Orthodoxy is the relationship with the Catholic church. Some groups want to have closer relations with the Catholics, while others consider them heretics, citing particularly the 1204 Catholic sacking of Constantinople.

But the most divisive issue of all right now is that the Russians want their Patriarch Kirill to displace Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople as the "first among equals."

When the Ottoman Muslims sacked Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1453, Russia chose to take on the mantle of being "the third Rome," and head the Orthodox Church. Whatever traction was gained by that plan was thrown away by the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, where Nicolai Lenin (Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov) led the destruction and sacking of the Russian Orthodox Church, and turned Russia and the Soviet Union into atheistic states.

So now Vladimir Putin is in power in Russia. He wants to ignore the historic role of Constantinople and also ignore Lenin's destruction of the Russian Orthodox Church, and put Moscow in the leadership of Orthodox churches worldwide.

So Russia has also announced that it will not be attending the ecumenical council in Crete this week.

Another controversy overshadowing the Great and Holy Council is that Putin used Orthodox religious history as a justification for the Russian invasion and annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula. ( "20-Mar-14 World View -- Russia's annexation of Crimea splits the Russian Orthodox Church")

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church has for centuries been a part of the Russian Orthodox Church, but Russia's invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea have led to a debate as to whether the Kiev Patriarchate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church should be recognized as an independent church, separate from Russia. Patriarch Bartholomew is believed to be in favor of recognizing it, something that the Russians would angrily oppose. Although that issue has been officially removed from this week's agenda, it may return. Christian Today (2-June) and AP and Guardian (London) and Kiev Post and Tass (Moscow)

History of Catholic and Orthodox Christian 'Ecumenical' Councils

Christianity's first Ecumenical Council was held in 325 AD in Nicea, an ancient city just east of today's Istanbul (Constantinople). The Council of Nicea was a meeting of all Christian churches, led not by the Pope but by the Emperor Caesar Flavius Constantine of Rome. The objective of the meeting was to unify the different regional branches, and to resolve some important questions.

At that time, many questions of Christian theology had not yet been decided. One of the most important was the divinity of Jesus Christ. If Jesus was born, then how could he be divine? Although there was debate, the Council ratified the view that he was a man, but was God in the form of human flesh.

The details of how it makes sense that Jesus was both human and divine were extremely controversial. It was discussed further at the Second Ecumenical Council in Constantinople in 381, again in the Third Ecumenical Council, held in Ephesus, an Aegean sea port, in 431. By the time of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, held Chalcedon, near Constantinople, in 451, the differences on this issue were extremely vitriolic.

This was the time of the first major split within Christianity, as six branches of Christianity refused to recognize the Fourth Ecumenical Council, in a controversy that has never been resolved. Today, these are usually called the "Oriental Orthodox Christian" churches, comprised of the Ethiopian, Coptic (Egyptian), Armenian, Syrian, Indian and Eritrean Churches. These were all churches that had existed since apostolic times, and the major political issue was that they didn't wish to be controlled by Rome. The Fifth Ecumenical Council (in Constantinople in 553) and the Sixth Ecumenical Council (in Constantinople in 680) attempted without success to resolve the split.

The Seventh Ecumenical Council, in Nicea in 787, is the last one that was recognized. At this one, the major controversy was was between the "iconoclasts" and "iconophiles." "Iconoclast" means "image smasher" or destroyer of religious icons and monuments. The iconoclasts, who were outvoted, said that religious art was idolatry and must be destroyed. If Jesus is divine, is it not sacrilegious to worship an icon of Jesus as if it were Jesus himself? The iconophiles loved icons, and argued that they were man's dynamic way of expressing the divine through art and beauty. The latter argument won out.

There's also reason to believe that the argument over icons was heavily influenced by the rise of Islam at that time. The Charlie Hebdo terror attack in Paris in January 2015 was supposedly motivated by prohibited artistic representations of the Prophet Mohammed, and this prohibition was coming into effect at the time of the Seventh Ecumenical Council.

That was the last time there was sufficient unity in the Christian churches to hold a worldwide Ecumenical Council, although there were smaller regional meetings.

In 1054, the Pope in Rome sent a letter to the Patriarch of Constantinople demanding that the latter submit to the Pope as head of all the churches. The Patriarch refused, and so the Pope and the Patriarch excommunicated each other on July 16, 1054. The "Schism of 1054" has never been healed.

Things got much worse in 1204 during the Crusades. The Catholics, on their way to fighting the Muslims in Jerusalem, sacked Constantinople, and placed a prostitute on the Emperor's throne at the church of St. Sophia. It was not until 2001 when the Pope John Paul visited Athens and, encountering large anti-Catholic protests, that the Catholics apologized for the sacking of Constantinople, and made a plea for forgiveness. ( "25-May-14 World View -- Pope Francis visits Mideast to reconcile with Jews, Orthodox, and Muslims")

The Orthodox Christians were generally excluded from the Ecumenical Councils held by the Catholics over the centuries, but they were controversial nonetheless, even in modern times. The Second Vatican Council held by the Catholics in 1962-65 created a new split within the Catholic Church, when the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) refused to recognize the legitimacy of its edicts. Pope Francis is currently working to heal this rift.

It was at the time of the Second Vatican Council that plans for an Ecumenical Council of all the Orthodox Churches was announced in 1961.

So in view of that history, it should not be surprising to anyone that the attempt to create a new Orthodox Christian Ecumenical Council, a Great and Holy Council (GHC) of Eastern Orthodox Churches, announced in 1961, has run into a great deal of controversy, as controversy has always been the norm, since the beginning.

It's also interesting to note that it's the norm for religions to target small regional or national populations. You can be a "Catholic" anywhere in the world, but you can't just be an "Orthodox Christian," unless you're a "Greek Orthodox" or "Russian Orthodox" or some other branch. The same thing is true of the Protestant religion, which has about 20 different churches in the United States alone, each targeting a different group. There are only three religions that have "gone viral" and become virtually universal: Catholicism, Sunni Islam and Buddhism. For example, in China, you'll find plenty of Catholics, plenty of Sunni Muslims, and plenty of Buddhists, but few Greek Orthodox or Shia Muslims or Hindus. Orthodox Wiki and Catholic World Report and World Council of Churches and National Catholic Register

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Jun-16 World View -- Historic Orthodox Christian gathering in Crete exposes sharp divisions thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

19-Jun-16 World View -- Pak-Afghan border crisis revives controversy over 120 year old Durand Line

Pakistan reopens border crossing with Pakistan after week of gunfights

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pakistan reopens border crossing with Pakistan after week of gunfights


Hundreds of trucks backed up at the Torkham border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan (Reuters)
Hundreds of trucks backed up at the Torkham border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan (Reuters)

Pakistan reopened the Torkham border gate, a major border crossing with Afghanistan on Saturday, after keeping it closed for almost a week amid cross-border gunfights that killed at least one Afghan border police officer and one Pakistani army major.

Thousands of vehicles normally pass through the Torkham crossing every week, making it a vital trade link between the countries. During the last week, there have been long lines of trucks backed up and waiting at the Torkham gate, on both sides of the Khyber Pass, a well-known mountainous transit route linking the two countries.

The border between the two countries has been tense for years. It's been particularly ironic that for many years the headquarters of the Afghan Taliban was in Pakistan, while the headquarters of the Pakistan Taliban was in Afghanistan. Each group would cross the border to commit terrorist acts, and then would flee back across the border to escape approaching security forces.

A turning point for Pakistan was reached after a horrific January 20 terror attack on Bacha Khan University in Charsadda in northwest Pakistan, killing 21 lives including a professor. Investigation showed that the perpetrators had crossed the border from Afghanistan, and then crossed back. Pakistan's army decided that it was necessary to build a fence along the border, and to control the border crossings.

Afghanistan opposed this plan because hundreds of trucks and thousands of people cross the border every week for trade, work and medical care, and because the location of the border is in dispute. Pakistan went ahead with the construction of the border gates, and that lead to the gunfights last week.

Pakistan finally reopened the border crossing on Saturday, but will only allow people to cross from Afghanistan to Pakistan if they have the proper documents - a visa and a valid passport. Since thousands of people have been crossing the border for years with no documents, this crisis is far from over.

Thousands of Afghans conducted protests earlier this week in two Afghan cities, Jalalabad and Lashkar Gah, chanting "Death to Pakistan." Afghanistan's ambassador to Pakistan, Dr. Omar Zakhilwal, has threatened to resign. "I don't see any reason for me to continue my current job" unless Pakistan suspends its construction of new installations pending negotiations.

However, a Pakistan official says, "This gate (is) considered essential to check and verify documentation of all border crossers." CNN and Dawn (Pakistan) and Khaama (Afghanistan) and Al-Jazeera

Tensions grow over the Durand Line defining the Pak-Afghan border


Pakistan army image showing the Torkham border gate 37 meters inside Pakistan
Pakistan army image showing the Torkham border gate 37 meters inside Pakistan

According to Pakistan's military, "In order to check movement of terrorists through Torkham, Pakistan is constructing a gate on (our) own side of the border as a necessity to check unwanted and illegal movement." According to Pakistan, the Torkham border gate is being built 37 meters within Pakistan. However, Afghanistan disagrees, saying that the gate is being built one kilometer within Afghanistan.

The disagreement is over the border line separating the two countries. In 1893, Sir Mortimer Durand, Britain's Indian foreign secretary at the time, signed an agreement with Abdur Rahman Khan, the Amir of Afghanistan, defining the 2640 km border, known as the "Durand Line."

However, after the 1947 Partition war that partitioned the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan, Afghanistan reneged on the agreement, and asserted claims to additional territory with Pakistan. Since then, efforts to renegotiate the agreement have been torpedoed by both sides. Since 9/11/2001, the Durand Line has taken on special significance, because of Afghan war and by the bombing by American warplanes and drones of Taliban targets in Pakistan's tribal area.

It seems pretty certain that the border crossing crisis is far from over. Thousands of people are going to be inconvenienced by Pakistan's requirement that anyone crossing the border must have a visa and valid passport, and anyway, Afghanistan is certain to renew is claim that the Durand Line is not valid, and Pakistan's new border crossing is actually on Afghan territory. AFP and The Diplomat and The Nation (Pakistan)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Jun-16 World View -- Pak-Afghan border crisis revives controversy over 120 year old Durand Line thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

18-Jun-16 World View -- Pressure mounts on European Union to resume admitting Syrian refugees

Médecins Sans Frontières announces it will reject further European aid

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Children in Calais and Dunkirk refugee camps forced into rape, prostitution


People demonstrate in support of refugees in Athens on Thursday (Guardian)
People demonstrate in support of refugees in Athens on Thursday (Guardian)

A report by Unicef has found that sexual exploitation of children living in refugee camps in northern France is common on a daily basis. Many young boys are raped, and many young girls are raped and forced into prostitution.

The study was based on interview with 60 unaccompanied children aged from 11 to 17 between January and April. There are 500 unaccompanied children in camps in Calais and Dunkirk at the end of March.

Many of them have family members in the UK who are waiting for them to arrive. However, processing of children has been very slow, and only 30 of the 500 unaccompanied children have so far been brought to the UK.

In order to reach France, human traffickers have already charged them $3,000 to $12,000. They are forced to pay an "entry fee" before they're allowed to live in the camps. Once in the camp, traffickers are charging another $6,000 to cross the channel into Britain, a higher price than ever before.

The Unicef report quotes one 16 year old girl as saying "I know that if I pay or offer sex, I will cross more quickly. I have been asked to do this. It’s hard to say no." A boy says that he's "gassed and beaten here" in France.

For these unaccompanied children, there's little protection from the cold and no access to schooling, and they are subjected to sexual exploitation, violence and forced labor on a daily basis. There's also evidence that they're being forced to commit crimes.

Unicef is demanding that, at the very least, unaccompanied children with families in the UK should be processed more quickly and allowed to travel to their families.

This is an explosive situation. On the one hand, you a massive humanitarian disaster involving children on a daily basis, in one modern, developed country, France, wishing to travel to another modern, developed country, Britain, to see their families. On the other hand, you have European populations in Europe that are increasingly resistant to allowing refugees into their countries under any circumstances whatsoever. This situation will not change if the "Brexit" referendum passes, and Britain leaves Europe, and almost certainly will worsen, because France will no longer be under any obligation to prevent refugees in Calais from crossing the Channel to Britain.

Those who don't like these conclusions shouldn't blame me. Think of me as the weatherman. I'm not saying whether the category 5 hurricane is good or bad, but I'm only telling you that it's coming. There is no happy ending to this crisis. Unicef and Christian Today and Belfast Telegraph

Médecins Sans Frontières announces it will reject further European aid

In a move that my mother would probably have called "cutting off your nose to spite your face," the international aid organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF - Doctors without Borders) announced on Friday that they will no longer accept money from the European Union because of its "shameful" response to the refugee crisis, especially as the EU-Turkey refugee deal is being implemented.

According to International Secretary General Jerome Oberreit:

"For months MSF has spoken out about a shameful European response focused on deterrence rather than providing people with the assistance and protection they need. The EU-Turkey deal goes one step further and has placed the very concept of “refugee” and the protection it offers in danger. ...

Is Europe’s only offer to refugees that they stay in countries they are desperate to flee? Once again, Europe’s main focus is not on how well people will be protected, but on how efficiently they are kept away. ...

Europe’s attempt to outsource migration control is having a domino effect, with closed borders stretching all the way back to Syria. People increasingly have nowhere to turn. Will the situation in Azaz where 100,000 people are blocked between closed borders and front lines become the rule, rather than the deadly exception?"

The last sentence refers to Azaz, a city in Syria with 300,000 people, of which 200,000 are already displaced. The forces of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) are now within 5 km of Azaz, and have threatened a huge massacre if they take control of the city.

It's not clear what MSF is advocating for Azaz. The city is close to the border of Turkey, and perhaps the point of Oberreit's statement is that he wants those 300,000 people to be permitted to flee to Turkey, and perhaps from there to Europe.

This is a total fantasy on MSF's part. As I read the situation, ISIS is going to torture, massacre and slaughter tens or hundreds of thousands of people in Azaz, and nobody is going to stop them. Those people are already as good as dead, and the dead ones are the lucky ones.

Oberreit is turning down something like $50 million in aid from the EU that it could use to help people as part of its mission. By turning this money down, Oberreit apparently hopes to shame Turkey and the EU into permitting those 300,000 refugees to flee reach the EU. Instead, they're just going to lose $50 million in aid for no reason at all. Médecins Sans Frontières and Reuters and Middle East Eye

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Jun-16 World View -- Pressure mounts on European Union to resume admitting Syrian refugees thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

17-Jun-16 World View -- UAE backs out of Saudi coalition in Yemen, saying 'War is over'

Saudi Arabia is condemned for Yemen's humanitarian disaster

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

UAE backs out of Saudi coalition in Yemen, saying 'War is over'


Children in Yemen war zone (Reuters)
Children in Yemen war zone (Reuters)

The United Arab Emirates' involvement in more than a year of war in Yemen is "practically over", a top diplomat was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

Up until late 2014, Yemen had been governed by a government closely allied with Saudi Arabia. In late 2014, the Iran-backed Shia Houthi militias from northwest Yemen moved south and took control of the capital city Sanaa, and then continue to move south, capturing a number of cities.

15 months ago, on March 26 of last year, Saudi Arabia announced that a 10-country coalition, led by the Saudis, would "free Sanaa and the rest of the northern cities" from Houthi control.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has one of the best-equipped militaries in the region, and has been a major contributor to the Saudi-led coalition. However, the UAE have suffered numerous losses in the past year. 80 UAE soldiers have been killed, including four pilots killed in two separate helicopter crashes this week. In September, 45 UAE troops were killed by a Houthi missile attack, marking the deadliest day for the UAE military in its 44-year history.

In March, the Saudis announced that it would 'end major combat operations' in Yemen, claiming that they've met most of their objectives. However, most observers consider the war to have been a failure. The Houthis are still in control of Sanaa, while other parts of the country have gone back and forth between control of the two sides. Furthermore, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has made strong gains in the last year, and the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) is establishing a presence.

UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, gave a speech saying "Our standpoint today is clear: war is over for our troops; we’re monitoring political arrangements, empowering Yemenis in liberated areas." He then elaborated online:

"[The UAE will remain] a capable and honest ally alongside Riyadh in the military and political realm.

This is a partnership that was reinforced by the Yemen crisis and it is essential for the future. The Riyadh-Abu Dhabi axis will emerge out of this crisis with more strength and effectiveness, and the strategic requirements of the region make this imperative.

Responsibility lies with the Yemenis - of all their components, to build bridges of communication and to reach an agreement on the state and its institutions. A spirit of national responsibility is needed for success."

Most of this appears to be wishful thinking, because the outcome has been a disaster for both Saudi Arabia and UAE. The Saudis have received international condemnation for the humanitarian disaster in Yemen, and yet the Houthis are still in control of Sanaa and much of Yemen.

It appears to be at least a partial victory for Iran, since Iran has reportedly provided the Houthis with weapons and other support. However, if it's a victory at all then it's a Pyrrhic victory because Yemen has been practically destroyed by the fighting.

It may be that the real victors are the two jihadist groups, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). Both organizations have taken advantage of the chaos to gain territory. However, although AQAP is firmly enmeshed in Yemen's tribal networks, ISIS is perceived as foreign.

Despite UAE's announcement, fighting is continuing in Yemen on several fronts, with dozens of people killed and wounded in the the last couple of days. Gulf News (Dubai) and AP and Council on Foreign Relations (19-Apr)

Saudi Arabia is condemned for Yemen's humanitarian disaster

Although the blame for the damage to Yemen is shared by all the participants, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, AQAP and ISIS, the Saudis are receiving the bulk of the international condemnation because of its bombing campaign. There have been repeated stories in the last year that bombs from the Saudi coalition have struck schools, hospitals, and civilian homes. There have also been reports that some Saudi bombs have been US-made cluster bombs, which are considered illegal.

According to the UN, at least 6,200 people - about half of them civilians - have been killed and 2.8 million others have been displaced.

At the beginning of June, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a report condemning both the Saudis and the Houthis for killing and maiming children in Yemen. According to Ban's report, the Saudi coalition was responsible for 60 percent of child deaths and injuries last year, killing 510 and wounding 667.

"Grave violations against children increased dramatically as a result of the escalating conflict.

In Yemen, owing to the very large number of violations attributed to the two parties, the Houthis/Ansar Allah and the Saudi Arabia-led coalition are listed for killing and maiming and attacks on schools and hospitals."

Saudi Arabia was added to an annual blacklist of states and armed groups that violate children's rights during conflict.

However, the Saudis protested and said that the casualty figures were "wildly exaggerated." Saudi Arabia's permanent representative to the UN, Abdullah al-Mouallimi, complained to Ban about the report, and said, "If there are any casualties from the coalition side, they would be far, far lower." He added that used "the most up-to-date equipment in precision targeting."

So a few days later, Ban removed Saudi Arabia from the list. Human Rights Watch sharply criticized the removal, saying that Ban's office had "hit a new low." A UN spokesman says that Saudi Arabia was removed from the list pending an investigation of the numbers in the report.

However, this isn't the time something like this has happened. In the 2014 report, Israel and Hamas were put onto the blacklist, and then removed a few days later. Al-Jazeera and Reuters and BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Jun-16 World View -- UAE backs out of Saudi coalition in Yemen, saying 'War is over' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

16-Jun-16 World View -- ASEAN makes humiliating South China Sea reversal under pressure from China

Obama administration reevaluates plans for Afghanistan troop withdrawal

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

ASEAN makes humiliating South China Sea reversal under pressure from China


Silly group picture of foreign ministers at Tuesday's ASEAN meeting purporting to portray unity (AFP)
Silly group picture of foreign ministers at Tuesday's ASEAN meeting purporting to portray unity (AFP)

Foreign ministers at the meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), issued a statement on Tuesday criticizing China's actions in the South China Sea, though without directly naming China:

"We expressed our serious concerns over recent and ongoing developments, which have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and which may have the potential to undermine peace, security and stability in the South China Sea. ...

We emphasized the importance of non-militarization and self-restraint in the conduct of all activities, including land reclamation, which may raise tensions in the South China Sea.

We stressed the importance of maintaining peace, security, stability, safety and freedom of navigation in and overflight above the South China Sea, in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)."

Within hours, apparently under pressure from China, Malaysia's foreign ministry announced that the ASEAN statement was being withdrawn"

"We have to retract the media statement by the ASEAN foreign ministers... as there are urgent amendments to be made."

However, a day later, neither Malaysia nor any other ASEAN member has issued an updated statement, or explained what the "urgent amendments" are.

This is a major embarrassment for ASEAN. If they issue a new statement with the South China Sea language watered down or missing, then the media will say that ASEAN is a China puppet.

China has been following Hitler's example by annexing regions of the South China Sea that have historically belonged to other countries, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, and Malaysia.

ASEAN has ten members: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Of these ten nations, Cambodia has been China's most reliable ally. At a 2012 meeting of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Cambodia vetoed attempts to even discuss the South China Sea issues. That's easy enough for Cambodia, since China isn't confiscating any region belonging to Cambodia.

For a long time, Laos sided with Vietnam on the issue, but last month, Laos flip-flopped and sided with China. That's also easy enough for Laos, for the same reason as Cambodia.

Singapore has been trying to act as a mediator between China and the other countries, but the withdrawal of the original ASEAN statement apparently has angered Singapore, as Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan walked out of a press conference he was co-chairing with China's foreign minister, Wang Yi.

Laos will be hosting the next ASEAN meeting in July, and fireworks are expected. The Star (Myanmar) and The Diplomat and AFP

Obama administration reevaluates plans for Afghanistan troop withdrawal

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter told a meeting at Nato headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday the Obama administration is reevaluating its previous plans to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2016.

There are currently 9,800 American troops in Afghanistan. The plan was to reduce that level to 5,500 by the end of 2016, but now that plan is apparently about to be changed, much to the surprise of no one.

This new announcement comes just four days after another administration reversal. ( "11-Jun-16 World View -- In a reversal, Obama allows US troops in Afghanistan in combat roles")

Here's what President Obama said in a speech in December 2009, just one week before he was scheduled to leave to accept his Nobel Peace Prize. He referred to a "review" of the situation in Afghanistan that his administrations had been conducting:

"This review is now complete. And as Commander-in-Chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home. These are the resources that we need to seize the initiative, while building the Afghan capacity that can allow for a responsible transition of our forces out of Afghanistan.

Obama was bitterly criticized by military analysts for setting an 18-month deadline, and of course the analysts were right and Obama was dead wrong. Obama has been forced to backtrack on his 18-month commitment multiple times, and Wednesday's speech by Ash Carter indicates that the next flip-flop is about to occur.

When Obama took office in 2008, he had expected to be able to direct the American withdrawal from Iraq and then quickly win in Afghanistan. Those promises are in shambles, as are all Obama's policies for Afghanistan and the Mideast. This is what happens when we elect a president with absolutely no clue what's going on in the world, and it looks like it's going to happen again. Washington Post and Washington Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Jun-16 World View -- ASEAN makes humiliating South China Sea reversal under pressure from China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

15-Jun-16 World View -- German 10 year bund yield goes negative, as deflationary spiral continues

Brexit: The polls versus the bookies

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

German 10 year bund yield goes negative, as deflationary spiral continues


The Sun (London) endorsed Brexit option to 'leave the EU', as stocks sold off and German bond yields went negative (ZeroHedge)
The Sun (London) endorsed Brexit option to 'leave the EU', as stocks sold off and German bond yields went negative (ZeroHedge)

The interest rate paid by Germany's Bundesbank (central bank) if you deposit money with them for ten years has gone negative. That means that if you deposit money with them, then you'll get less money back, instead of more money, as would happen in "normal" times.

That's the meaning of the announcement that the yield (interest rate) on Germany's 10-year bund (bond) fell briefly on Tuesday to -0.033%, before closing at the end of the day at -0.028%. It also means that if the Bundesbank lends money to someone, then they'll pay you to take their money, rather than charge you.

Of course, ordinary citizens can't borrow money from the central bank, but regional banks can. The Bundesbank wants to encourage regional banks to borrow money, and then lend that money out to businesses to stimulate the economy. That's the reasoning behind negative interest rates.

Germany is just the most recent country whose central bank has adopted negative interest rates on 10 year bonds. The Bank of Japan (BOJ) and the Swiss National Bank (SNB) have done the same.

Other countries still have positive interest rates for 10 year bonds, but have negative interest rates on shorter term bonds. (As a general rule, a shorter-term loan pays a higher interest rate than a longer-term loan because a shorter-term loan is considered less risky.)

Austria, Sweden, Netherlands, France, Denmark and Belgium have negative interest rates on 4 or 5 year bonds, while Finland has negative interest rates on 3 year bonds.

The yields on UK gilts (bonds) are still positive, but they fell to 1.18% on 10 year gilts on Tuesday, a record low in more than 3 centuries of trading.

All of these countries' central banks are adopting negative interest rates in the hope of inflating their currencies and promoting growth. Instead, growth is flat, and the currencies are increasingly deflationary.

Generational Dynamics predicted that all of this would happen, as I've been writing since 2003. Mainstream economists have repeatedly been wrong about all this, time after time.

In fact, in the early 2000s, when interest rates were decreasing to around 2%, mainstream economists began predicting inflation or hyperinflation. They've continued predicting that high inflation would begin next quarter for quarter after quarter, and they've been wrong every time. Mainstream economists have consistently been clueless about what's going on.

The fact is that Keynesian economics is dead wrong because it doesn't take generational theory into account. Monetarist economics is dead wrong because it doesn't take generational theory into account. Austrian school economics is dead wrong because it doesn't take generational theory into account. None of these branches has predicted correctly for at least 15 years.

As I've pointed out many, many times, mainstream economists didn't predict and can't explain the tech bubble of the 1990s, didn't predict and can't explain the huge credit and real estable bubble of the mid-2000s decade, and the real estate collapse and credit crisis after 2007. In almost all cases, they didn't even know that there'd been a real estate bubble until around 2009, two years after it had started to burst.

As I've been writing since 2003, the global financial system is in a deflationary spiral. High inflation and superinflation, which many economists have incorrectly predicted for years, is not going to happen. Instead, deflation is growing and will continue to grow. Central bankers are finally beginning to grasp this, which is why they're adopting negative interest rates as a move of total desperation to stop the deflationary spiral.

Generational Dynamics predicts that the world financial system is headed for a global panic and crash, with 100% certainty. Deutsche Welle and CNBC and Bloomberg

Brexit: The polls versus the bookies

There was a global selloff of stocks on Tuesday. This is consistent with the falling yields (interest rates) on bonds. When people sell stocks and put the money into bonds, then by the law of supply and demand, the price of the bonds goes up, which means that the yields go down.

Since stocks are considered to be more risky than bonds, some analysts are calling Tuesday's actions a "rush for safety." Investors who fear that stock prices will fall can sell their stocks and use the money to purchase bonds, even at negative interest rates, just so their money will be safe.

Many analysts are blaming this rush to safety on the fact that on June 23, UK citizens will be voting on the "Brexit" referendum, to decide whether the UK should leave the European Union. What's happened in the last couple of weeks is that a number of new polls have come out indicating that more and more Britons are favoring the "leave" option. A Guardian/ICM poll gave "leave" a 7 point lead on Monday, while a Times/YouGov poll gave "leave" a 5 point lead. Many investors believe that a vote to leave the EU will cause financial chaos, at least in the short run. According to analysts, this is the reason for the "rush to safety."

However, many people believe that the polls are wrong. Many people are reluctant to admit to pollsters that they're going to vote for a "politically incorrect" choice, so they tell pollsters one thing and then vote the other way in the privacy of the voting booth.

So it's perhaps not surprising the bookies and betting firms are placing a 60% or better chance that voters will choose the "remain" option in the Brexit referendum vote.

However, only a month ago, bookies were placing an 80% probability on "remain." So although the bookies still favor "remain," the probability has been falling, and may go below 50% by referendum day. Bloomberg and Reuters and Bloomberg and ZeroHedge

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Jun-16 World View -- German 10 year bund yield goes negative, as deflationary spiral continues thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

14-Jun-16 World View -- Heavy fighting along Eritrea-Ethiopia border raises fears of war

Generational history of Ethiopia and Eritrea

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Heavy fighting along Eritrea-Ethiopia border raises fears of war


Eritrean soldiers march during the country's Independence Day (Reuters)
Eritrean soldiers march during the country's Independence Day (Reuters)

Heavy clashes have broken out along the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Although there have been occasional exchanges of gunfire ever since a two-year border war ended with a peace deal in 2000, these are the first involved heavy artillery and masses of troops.

Eritrea's ministry of information blamed Ethiopia, saying on Sunday, "Ethiopia unleashed an attack against Eritrea on the Tsorona Central Front."

Ethiopia blamed Eritrea, saying, "Eritrean forces started shelling our positions, including civilian ambulances, and we responded."

It's not known what triggered the new violence. Eritrea is currently celebrating 25 years since it achieved independence from Ethiopia in 1991, and perhaps those celebrations triggered the violence.

Last week, the United Nations Human Rights Council issued a report accusing Eritrea of repeated human rights violations, including crimes against humanity. According to the report:

"The commission finds that there are reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed in Eritrea since 1991. Eritrean officials have engaged in a persistent, widespread and systematic attack against the country’s civilian population since 1991. They have committed, and continue to commit, the crimes of enslavement, imprisonment, enforced disappearance, torture, other inhumane acts, persecution, rape and murder. ...

The commission has heard of no plans to hold national elections. ...

The commission finds that the gross human rights violations it documented in its previous report persist, including arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, torture, killings, sexual and gender-based violence, discrimination on the basis of religion and ethnicity, and reprisals for the alleged conduct of family members. In addition, many of those subjected to enforced disappearance in the past remain unaccounted for. ...

Eritreans continue to be subjected to indefinite military/national service. The Government has recently confirmed that there are no plans to limit its duration to the statutory 18 months. Conscripts are drafted for an indefinite duration of service in often abusive conditions, and used as forced labor."

Some observers are accusing Eritrea of starting the border war with Ethiopia to distract from the human rights report. International Business Times and AFP and UN Human Rights Council

Generational history of Ethiopia and Eritrea


Horn of Africa
Horn of Africa

These two countries have been linked since at least the second century AD.

Ethiopia adopted Christianity in the 4th century, and was a tribal society ruled by emperors until the 1800s. However, a split between Ethiopia and Eritrea occurred in the 700s with the rise of Islam and the Arab trade along the Red Sea, and what is now Eritrea became part of the Islamic Empire, and later the Ottoman Empire.

Italy colonized the region in the 1860s, in the so-called Scramble for Africa, so named because after it was discovered in the 1850s that malaria could be controlled with quinine, England, Belgium, France, Portugal, Italy, Spain and Germany all competed with each other to colonize different parts of Africa.

In 1869, the Suez Canal opened, connecting the Red Sea with the Mediterranean Sea, and Italian shipping firms became active. Large stretches of Eritrea's coastline were acquired from the local sultans and transferred to Italian control. By the mid-1880s, the Italian army moved into Eritrea, displacing the Ottomans, and challenging the Ethiopian empire.

In 1889, Menelik II rose to the position of Emperor of Ethiopia. The "Italian-Ethiopian War" (1889-1896) was a generational crisis war for Ethiopia. Menelik inflicted on Italy the most humiliating and bloody defeat ever experienced by a colonial power in Africa. In the outcome, Italy retained Eritrea as a Red Sea colony, populating it with thousands of Italian settlers, developing road and rail transport, but doing little to improve the lives of Eritreans.

Ethiopia gained independence, and by 1914 and the beginning of WW I, all of black Africa except Ethiopia and Liberia were European colonies.

By 1935, Eritrea was a colony of Italy, and Ethiopia had a new emperor, one who had taken the title Haile Selassie, meaning "Might of the Trinity," emphasizing the fact that Ethiopia was a largely Christian country.

In October 1935, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini ordered an invasion of Ethiopia, partly in revenge for Italy's humiliating defeat in 1896. Mussolini announced the establishment of a new Italian empire, including Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia, under the name Italian East Africa. Haile Selassie fled the country.

When Mussolini brought Italy into World War II on Hitler's side, in June 1940, Haile Selassie won the cooperation of Britain in launching a counterattack against the Italian forces in Italian East Africa. By 1941, Haile Selassie was once again emperor of Ethiopia. After the war, the United Nations made Eritrea a part of Ethiopia, an autonomous federal province with its own constitution and elected government, something that the Muslims in Eritrea strongly opposed.

From the above description, one can see that although World War II was a generational crisis war for Italy and Britain, with part of the war fought on Ethiopian soil, it was not a crisis war for Ethiopia itself. In fact, with the previous crisis war having climaxed in 1896, this was a generational Unraveling era for Ethiopia. In such an era (like America in the 1990s), there is little appetite for war among the general population, except perhaps for quick police actions. Although Ethiopia and Eritrea changed hands several times during the WW II time period, the fighting was mostly between foreign armies, and did not heavily involve the local population.

In the mid-1950s, the region entered a generational Crisis era, and the fault line between Muslims and Christians began to inflame. In 1958, Eritrea's Muslim leaders formed the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF), consisting mainly of students, intellectuals, and urban wage laborers. Low-level warfare continued throughout the 1960s.

In the 1970s, the Eritrean independence movement took another turn with the formation of a powerful Marxist offshoot of the ELF, the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF). Haile Selassie was toppled in 1974, after which factional warfare began to increase.

This might have led to a full-scale generational crisis war, but there was a major development: In 1977, the USSR allied with the Ethiopian government, took control of Eritrea's Red Sea ports, and provided Ethiopia's government with huge supplies of arms, enough to suppress the EPLF guerrillas. (This is what Russia has been doing in Syria for several years.)

The guerrilla war fought by Marxist rebels against the well-armed Ethiopian government climaxed in May 1991 with the collapse of Ethiopia's government, coincident with the collapse of the USSR. Eritrea finally declared independence. By that time, there were 500,000 refugees that had fled to refugee camps in Sudan, and they had to be resettled in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

In 1998, a new border war broke out between Eritrea and Ethiopia. This was a non-crisis war, with a quality very similar to World War I, where trenches were dug, mines were laid, and bodies of dead soldiers were strewn about. Of the 400,000 men who fought on both sides, 50,000 soldiers died.

A peace deal in 2000 ended the two-year border war, but it was never fully implemented, and is still in dispute. There have been occasional border incidents ever since then.

Both countries are now in the midst of a generational Awakening era, and the rhetoric on both sides is heating up again. Expect political conflict, riots, demonstrations, low-level violence and police actions, but a full-scale all-out war, which many international observers fear, is not going to happen at this time. HistoryWorld - Eritrea and HistoryWorld - Ethiopia and Library of Congress - Ethiopia

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Jun-16 World View -- Heavy fighting along Eritrea-Ethiopia border raises fears of war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

13-Jun-16 World View -- Orlando nightclub terror attack may be result of ISIS and al-Qaeda troubles

Al-Qaeda leader swears allegiance to Taliban's new leader

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Al-Qaeda leader swears allegiance to Taliban's new leader


ISIS social media photo
ISIS social media photo

The rise of a major competitive jihadist group, the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), is forcing al-Qaeda and the Taliban to reassess their strategic directions.

That may be one of the reasons that on Saturday, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a 14-minute online audio message, pledged allegiance to the new head of the Afghan Taliban, Haibatullah Akhundzada.

Both of the terrorist organization leaders have something major in common: They both rose to their current positions after their predecessors were killed by the US military. Al-Zawahiri became the new head of al-Qaeda after Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan by US Navy Seals in 2011. Akhundzada became the new leader of the Afghan Taliban after his predecessor, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour was killed by US drone strike in Pakistan three weeks ago.

According to Saturday's online audio message, which has not yet been confirmed, al-Zawahiri said:

"As leader of the al Qaeda organization for jihad, I extend my pledge of allegiance once again, the approach of Osama to invite the Muslim nation to support the Islamic Emirate [of Afghanistan]. ...

We pledge allegiance to you on jihad to liberate every inch of the lands of the Muslims that are invaded and stolen - from Kashgar to al-Andalus, from the Caucasus to Somalia and Central Africa, from Kashmir to Jerusalem, from the Philippines to Kabul, and from Bukhara to Samarkand."

The logic behind this pledge is that al-Zawahiri is a military leader, an Egyptian doctor-turned-militant, while Akhundzada is an Islamic legal scholar. The audio message alludes to the fact that when the Taliban were sheltering Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, bin Laden also pledged his allegiance to the Afghan Taliban leader. However, bin Laden ended up bringing the Taliban a lot of grief in the form of the US war in Afghanistan that defeated the Taliban and threw them out of government after bin Laden set the 9/11/2001 attacks in motion.

Today, al-Qaeda and the Taliban are uniting because they are both concerned about the rise of ISIS. Although ISIS operates mostly in the Mideast, some Afghan insurgent commanders have broken away from the Taliban to pledge support to ISIS, and ISIS has been displacing the influence of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yemen, and also of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in northern Africa, especially in Egypt, Libya and Nigeria.

To make matters worse for al-Qaeda, there has been infighting between different Taliban warlords and factions in Afghanistan, and this has helped ISIS. Thus, the pledge of support may be a desperate call for unity against ISIS.

Another development is that the death of Akhundzada's predecessor, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, has exposed a relationship between the Taliban and Iran. This is a "marriage of convenience" between Sunni terrorists and Shia terrorists, who are concerned about a common enemy: ISIS. Khaama Press (Kabul) and Deutsche Welle and Long War Journal and Reuters

ISIS losing ground may have led to Orlando terror attack

The so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) has been claiming credit for Sunday's Orlando Florida nightclub terror attack, but we know that the gunman Omar Mateen was acting as a "lone wolf," without any known contact with ISIS. Nonetheless, ISIS may have indirectly caused the attack by its announcements in the last few weeks asking "lone wolves" to strike soft targets in Europe and America during the month of Ramadan, which started last week.

A year or two ago, an exuberant ISIS was making enormous gains, capturing huge swaths of territory across Syria and Iraq, raping women and chopping off people's heads to gain international acclaim, and making money by selling oil from captured facilities. There were thousands of young jihadists coming from all over the world to Syria to join ISIS and to fight against the genocidal Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

But now losses are mounting in Syria and Iraq. It's losing much of the territory it had gained, losing finances, and losing prestige. The number of foreign fighters joining the flailing ISIS is dwindling, and there are even reports of infighting within ISIS resulting in executions of junior officers.

Last month there were reports that ISIS was regrouping in Libya, setting up a base in its stronghold in the coastal city of Sirte, but now there have been new reports that troops from Libya's unity Government of National Accord (GNA) have been advancing against Sirte more quickly than expected.

ISIS is very far from defeated, but these setbacks are forcing the terror organization to rethink its strategy. A part of that strategy is to encourage lone wolf attacks and then take credit for them. They've taken credit for killings in Bangladesh which they had nothing to do with ( "12-Jun-16 World View -- Bangladesh government arrests 3,192 people to stop terrorist killings"), and now they've done the same with the Orlando night club shooting. These may well be moves of desperation.

Although many people are taking pleasure in the troubles of al-Qaeda, the Taliban and ISIS, you should not assume that the defeat of either of these organizations (something that's probably not even possible) would bring peace and an end to the terrorist attacks. This is a generational Crisis era for the Sunnis in the Mideast and south Asia, and the terror attacks and rising tensions are occurring organically, not under the control of any politician. No one could have predicted the rise of ISIS five years ago, and some new, even worse organization could rise at any time. Just as the Holocaust and WW II would still have occurred even if Hitler had been killed in 1935, the Mideast is headed for a major regional war with or without ISIS or al-Qaeda. And the Orlando nightclub shooting may be just the start. CS Monitor (27-May) and Rudaw (Iraq-Kurds) and Washington Times and AFP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Jun-16 World View -- Orlando nightclub terror attack may be result of ISIS and al-Qaeda troubles thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

12-Jun-16 World View -- Bangladesh government arrests 3,192 people to stop terrorist killings

History of Bangladesh's 'BNP-Jamaat clique' goes back to massive 1971 ethnic war

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Bangladesh government arrests 3,192 people to stop terrorist killings


Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina addresses a press conference on Tuesday
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina addresses a press conference on Tuesday

Bangladesh's government has launched an anti-terror campaign, and begun by arresting 3,192 persons, including 37 militants belonging to outlawed radical jihadist groups.

Most of the militants arrested were members of the outlawed Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), the outfit believed to have carried out a series of attacks on Hindus, Christians, bloggers, activists, professors and people from different other professions, leaving them hacked to death in broad daylight. The other militant groups swept up by the mass attacks are Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) and the Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT).

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina said that the police would stamp out this violence:

"Where will they hide in Bangladesh. No one will get away. Bangladesh is a small country. It's not a tough task to find them. They will be brought to justice.

Each and every killer will be brought to book as we did after the 2015 mayhem (and) all their sources, financiers and patrons would be unearthed and brought to justice as well."

When she referred to "all their sources, financiers and patrons, she was referring to the "BNP-Jamaat clique," an alliance of opposition parties, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its ally Jamaat-e-Islami (Jamaat), that she has repeatedly accused of being behind the violent attacks. In particular, she has repeatedly accused the BNP-Jamaat clique of supporting Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), the jihadist terror group responsible for the killings.

In a speech in May, she said, "BNP-Jamaat clique is now selectively killing imams of mosques, priests of temples, fathers of churches and teachers of universities alongside common people to create instability in the country."

BNP secretary general Fakhrul Islam Alamgir accused the government of using the massive crackdown to suppress political dissent. He rejected the allegation that BNP and Jamaat were behind the attacks and accused the government of arresting "hundreds of opposition activists in the name of crackdown against Islamist militants." BDNews (Dhaka) and India Times and Daily Star (Dhaka) and Dhaka Tribune (29-May)

History of Bangladesh's 'BNP-Jamaat clique' goes back to massive 1971 ethnic war

Although the extremely bloody 1947 war between Hindus and Muslims that followed Partition, the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan, was a generational crisis war for western India and what is now Pakistan, it was a far less brutal non-crisis war for eastern India (Bihar and West Bengal provinces) and what is now Bangladesh (East Bengal). Because of its enormous size, east and west India are on different generational timelines.

For east India and the current Bangladesh, the extremely bloody generational crisis war occurred as an ethnic civil war in 1971 between Biharis and Bengalis. At that time, Pakistan was split into West Pakistan and East Pakistan (East Bengal), and the outcome of the 1971 war was that East Pakistan became Bangladesh.

Both the Bengalis and the Biharis are mostly Muslim, although the Biharis also include a small population of Hindus. The Bengalis are the indigenous majority ethnic group of Bangladesh, and speak the Bengali language. The Biharis are mostly Urdu-speaking people who crossed the border from India and settled in East Pakistan during the 1947 Partition war.

Although the Bihari population was much smaller than the population of indigenous Bengalis, the Biharis became a "market-dominant minority," allied with the West Pakistan government, in control of the major business and government organizations, while the indigenous Bengalis were most laborers.

The 1971 war between the Biharis, supported by Pakistan's army, and the Bengalis was extremely bloody and genocidal on all sides.

Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh (Jamaat) was formed in 1941, and in 1971 it was on the side of the Biharis and Pakistan's army in opposing the anti-government uprising by the Bengalis. In the 1980s, it allied with the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), forming what the prime minister is calling the "BNP-Jamaat clique."

Today, there are hundreds of thousands of Biharis living in refugee camps in filthy conditions, with the largest camp just north of Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital city. These are certainly a large part of the motivation for Bihari jihadist groups to continue terrorist attacks. Today they're often referred to as "the stranded Pakistanis," because in 1971 Pakistan promised to transport them back to Pakistan, but later reneged on that promise.

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina is the leader of the Bangladesh Awami League, which is a Bengali political party originally formed in 1949. The Awami League led the anti-Pakistan rebellion in the bloody 1971 civil war between Biharis and Bengalis.

Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) is a violent jihadist terror group formed in 1998, reaching a peak of violence in August 2005 when it detonated 500 bombs at 300 locations throughout Bangladesh.

So when prime minister Hasina accuses the "BNP-Jamaat clique" of supporting JMB, what she's really doing is accusing the Biharis of attacking the Bengalis in revenge for losing the 1971 war.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is not surprising at all.

As I've written many times, most recently with respect to Kenya ( "7-Jun-16 World View -- Increasing violence in Kenya revives fears of tribal war") but previously in articles about Rwanda, Lebanon, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and other countries, countries that experience an internal ethnic civil war follow the same pattern.

Among generational crisis wars, an external war is fundamentally different than an internal civil war between two ethnic groups. If two ethnic groups have lived together in peace for decades, have intermarried and worked together, and if then there's a civil war where one of these ethnic groups tortures, massacres and slaughters their next-door neighbors in the other ethnic group, then the outcome will be fundamentally different than if the same torture and slaughter had been rendered by an external group. In either case, the country will spend the Recovery Era immediately following the war setting up rules and institutions designed to prevent any such war from occurring again. But in one case, the country will be unified in the decades to follow, while in the other case, the country will be increasingly torn along the same ethnic fault line.

That's what's going on today in Bangladesh. Starting in the 2000s, which was a generational Awakening era for Bangladesh, the Bihari-based Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) began conducting terrorist activities targeting the Bengali-based Awami League, and Bengalis in general. The Bengali-led government is responding by cracking down on the Biharis. This pattern of terrorist violence met with violent government crackdown continues in cycles, with each cycle worse than the previous one. This is a pattern that occurs in all countries that go through an ethnic generational crisis civil war, and it always ends up in new crisis civil war several decades later. Meri News (India) and South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP - India) and Global Security (Washington)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Jun-16 World View -- Bangladesh government arrests 3,192 people to stop terrorist killings thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

11-Jun-16 World View -- In a reversal, Obama allows US troops in Afghanistan in combat roles

Change in policy was resisted because of political implications

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

In a reversal, Obama allows US troops in Afghanistan in combat roles


Secretary of Defense Ash Carter (Getty)
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter (Getty)

In a significant reversal of policy, president Barack Obama's administration will now all American soldiers to fight alongside Afghan troops in combat situations, and will allow close air support in combat. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter confirmed the change in policy, and said,

"This is using the forces we have ... in a better way, basically, as we go through this fighting season, rather than being simply reactive. This makes good sense. It's a good use of the combat power that we have there."

By "fighting season," Carter is referring to the fact that the Taliban are most active during the summer months.

The change in policy comes one day after John Sopko, appointed by Obama as Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), said that the situation in Afghanistan is continuing to deteriorate:

"The bottom line is too much has been wasted in Afghanistan. Too much money was spent in too small a country with too little oversight. And if the security situation continues to deteriorate, even areas where money was spent wisely and gains were made, could be jeopardized."

He said the planned drawdown of U.S. troops could compound the reconstruction effort's problems and add to the amount that already has been wasted, which he estimated is in the billions of dollars.

Since the end of 2014, US forces have been in Afghanistan only in an "advisory" role, and were only authorized to hit Taliban targets for defensive reasons, or to protect Afghan troops. The change in policy appears designed to stop the deterioration of the situation in Afghanistan. Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri said:

"Our army is capable of fighting, the only thing we need is air support. We welcome this decision from America and it will boost the morale of the Afghan army."

The Afghan army may be capable of fighting, but with the US restricted to an "advisory" role before now, the Afghan army has been losing to a resurgent Taliban.

According to Obama's original timetable, all US troops should have left Afghanistan by now. Obama has been forced to reverse himself several times, and there are currently 9,800 US troops in Afghanistan. The schedule calls for a reduction to 5,500 troops as the president leaves office in January, but this reduction is opposed by many military analysts and by the Afghan government. The Hill and AFP and AP and Reuters

Change in policy was resisted because of political implications

According to reports, the Obama administration had been debating this policy for months because it had been requested by military generals, but vetoed for political reasons for fear of damaging Obama's legacy. During the 2008 campaign, Obama criticized his predecessor, George Bush, for being at war, and promised to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But he's botched that commitment in both countries, and the NY Times has noted that as of May 6 of this year, President Barack Obama officially became the U.S. president to have been at war the longest — longer than Lyndon Johnson, longer than Abraham Lincoln and certainly longer than George W. Bush. Obama is virtually certain to be the only U.S. president to spend a full eight years at war.

In interviews earlier this year, all three of Obama's former secretaries of defense confirmed that the Obama administration ignored military advice, and made military decisions based on inexperience and ideology. This criticism is not ideological. I've been following these issues for years, and non-partisan military analysts have always been overwhelmingly critical of Obama's decisions, rarely if ever defending them.

Former defense secretary Robert Gates wrote in his book, “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War," that Obama "doesn’t believe in his own strategy, and doesn’t consider the war to be his. For him, it’s all about getting out." Instead of getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan, what Obama is discovering is that basing military decisions purely on politics and left-wing ideology is a sure way to get in deeper. Daily Caller and Washington Post (7-Jan) and Daily Caller (7-Apr)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Jun-16 World View -- In a reversal, Obama allows US troops in Afghanistan in combat roles thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

10-Jun-16 World View -- Israel deploys hundreds of troops to West Bank, cancels entry permits

Turkey bans fertilizer sales after two terror bombings

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey bans fertilizer sales after two terror bombings


Police headquarters in Mardin after bombing on Wednesday (Reuters)
Police headquarters in Mardin after bombing on Wednesday (Reuters)

As we described yesterday, Turkey suffered two major terror attacks in two days, a bombing in Istanbul on Tuesday, and a bombing on police headquarters in the province of Mardin in southeast Turkey on Wednesday.

Both bombings targeted the police. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has taken credit for Wednesday's bombing, but no one has taken credit for Tuesday's bombing in Istanbul.

Both bombings were perpetrated by means of fertilizers containing ammonium nitrate. Turkey's authorities have seized over 60,000 tons of fertilizer containing ammonium nitrate, and have temporarily suspended the sale of fertilizers containing ammonium nitrate after a series of bomb attacks across the country. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Deutsche Welle

Israel deploys hundreds of troops to West Bank, cancels entry permits

Israeli authorities have identified the perpetrators of the shooting rampage in Tel Aviv on Wednesday as two cousins, Khaled Mohammad Makhamrah, 22, and his cousin Mohamad Ahmad Makhamrah, 21, from the West Bank town of Yatta, near the city of Hebron. One was wounded during the gunfight, and both have been arrested.

Since the attackers were "lone wolves," not part of Hamas or any other organized Palestinian group, Israel's response options were limited to actions which take "collective punishment" on Palestinians in general.

It's thought that the attacks were timed for the start of the Islam's holy month of Ramadan, and there are concerns that other terror attacks are planned for Ramadan. Israel's military is deploying hundreds of additional troops to the West Bank, including soldiers from infantry and special forces units. Among other actions, the Israeli troops completed blocked roads leading in and out of Yatta.

Normally, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are permitted to enter Israel during Ramadan to visit relatives, or to pray at the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. However, 83,000 permits have been canceled. Entering or leaving will only be permitted for humanitarian and medical cases.

The two cousins belong to the large Makhamreh clan. Israel's government is suspending 204 work permits used by the Makhamreh clan to enter Israel.

Because Israel's options are so limited, these "collective punishment" responses have been implemented, but they're likely to further infuriate Palestinians who will not be able to visit their families or work during Ramadan. This will inevitably lead to more terror attacks and more collective punishment.

On the other hand, Israelis have been infuriated by the celebrations of many Palestinians in the streets of both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and on social media. Hamas published a statement terming the attack the first good tidings of Ramadan, while promising that more such tidings would come. YNet News (Israel) and AP and al-Jazeera

Israel cracks down on Palestinian workshops producing guns


Handmade 'Carlo' gun produced in the West Bank (AP)
Handmade 'Carlo' gun produced in the West Bank (AP)

In yesterday's article, I quoted a news source as saying that the attackers "used improvised firearms: an imitation of the Swedish-made Carl Gustav recoilless rifle, which was used primarily in the 1950s and ’60s, and which is known on the Palestinian street as the Carlo."

Several readers wrote to me to point out that that's not possible. The Carl Gustav recoilless rifle is an 84mm antitank weapon, generally requiring two men to operate, shooting rocket-boosted warheads.

The actual weapon used by the attackers was a homemade clone of the 9mm Carl Gustav M/45 submachine gun, developed by Swedish state-owned Carl Gustav Arms company in 1945. It has a relatively simple design, requiring little more to build than two steel tubes welded together, along with other spare parts. In the West Bank, it's known by its street name "Carlo," with hundreds of the guns in circulation. They've been used several times by Palestinians attacking Israelis.

Israeli security forces are cracking down on metal workshops in the West Bank suspected of manufacturing the Carlo. The quality of the workmanship varies from gun to gun, depending on the materials and the manufacturer. But in the last few months it's emerged as as the weapon of choice for Palestinian attackers, including the Tel Aviv attackers on Wednesday. AP and World Guns (Russia) and World Guns

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Jun-16 World View -- Israel deploys hundreds of troops to West Bank, cancels entry permits thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

9-Jun-16 World View -- Three terror attacks in Turkey and Israel mark start of Ramadan

West Bank Palestinians reject call to end security cooperation with Israel

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel's Netanyahu responds cautiously to Tel Aviv terror attack


Police at scene of Wednesdays attack in Tel Aviv (Haaretz)
Police at scene of Wednesdays attack in Tel Aviv (Haaretz)

Many times in the past, jihadists have scheduled terror attacks for the beginning of Ramadan, and that may be the reason for the three Mideast terror attacks in the last two days, one in Tel Aviv and two in Turkey.

Four people were killed and five injured on Wednesday night when terrorists dressed as Hasidic Jews opened fire at a popular market complex in Tel Aviv. Two Palestinian subjects were arrested.

The attack was apparently well-planned. Since the price of firearms in the Palestinian territories is prohibitively high, both of the gunmen in Wednesday night's attack apparently used improvised firearms: an imitation of the Swedish-made Carl Gustav recoilless rifle, which was used primarily in the 1950s and ’60s, and which is known on the Palestinian street as the Carlo. This has been the weapon of choice of Palestinian assailants in the recent spate of terror attacks.

Correction: Several readers have pointed out that there are two "Carl Gustav" guns, and the paragraph above identifies the wrong one. The "recoilless rifle" is actually a large antitank weapon, too large to carry into a restaurant. The weapon used in the attack was a clone of the Carl Gustav 9mm submachine gun dating to 1945. [Paragraph added 9-Jun-2016]

Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the attacks cautiously:

"We gathered to discuss a number of steps, both defensive and offensive, that we will take in order to act against this very severe phenomenon of shooting attacks. It definitely poses a challenge to us, but we will respond. ...

We are at the peak of a difficult period. We will act with resoluteness and with intelligence."

A couple of months ago, there was a spate of knifing attacks on Israelis by Palestinians. Those knifing attacks have all but ended, and Netanyahu's caution may have been from a desire not to further inflame relations. Wednesday's attack was the first major terror attack in several weeks. Haaretz (Israel) and Jerusalem Post

West Bank Palestinians reject call to end security cooperation with Israel

I've reported on three or four occasions in the last couple of years that some Palestinians have called on the West Bank Palestinian Authority (PA) and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to end all security cooperation with Israel, forcing Israeli security forces to take responsibility for policing the entire West Bank, rather than sharing that burden.

On May 4, the PLO Executive Committee announced that it decided "to immediately begin implementing the Palestinian Central Council's decisions regarding limiting the political, economic and security relations with the occupation authorities [i.e., Israel]," and this due to "Israel's disregard of signed agreements and its insistence on destroying the two-state solution." The decision was motivated by Israel's rejection in April of the French initiative for convening an international conference on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

However, the decision has sparked a great deal of criticism among Palestinian leaders, and no steps have been taken to implement it.

Former Nablus mayor and Executive Committee member Ghassan Al-Shak'a responded as follows:

"The decision taken by the Palestinian Central Council in its latest session [on March 2015], namely that relations with Israel must be severed, was an emotional decision, since most of the Central Council members came from abroad, from Chile, Romania, Australia, America and other countries, and their view of the Palestinian issue is more emotional than it is practical and realistic – unlike [the view taken by] us, the members [who live] inside Palestine...

[I maintain that] we kid ourselves when we say we are able to boycott Israel or sever our relations with it, especially in the two domains of security and economy, which are fundamental to the lives of the Palestinian people and the residents of the occupied West Bank... [If we sever these relations] how can we bring fuel and flour [into our territories] and how can we keep the power running, etc.? Israel controls us on land, in the sea and in the air. If we decided, hypothetically, to sever our economic relations with Israel and cancel the Paris Protocol on economic [relations], could we actually live without them? That is the question we must put to those who demand day and night to end the economic and security coordination and to sever the relations with Israel...

When Israel wants to enter a village, city or refugee camp, it does not care whether they are in area A, B or C, because we have no sovereignty over the land, with or without security coordination. Security coordination serves our interest. If the PA wants to launch a security campaign to enforce law and order, as it did in Nablus when it brought in 1,500 security officers [from all over the West Bank] – would it be able to do this without security coordination with Israel? Of course not. [Furthermore,] there are 1,000 individuals wanted [by Israel] who are [held] in bases of the [Palestinian] security apparatuses throughout the West Bank. If we suspend the security coordination, Israel will surely arrest them immediately, and that will be to the detriment of our young people..."

MEMRI

Turkey endures two days of terror bombing attacks

There were two major terror attacks in Turkey this week, one on Tuesday and one on Wednesday. It's thought that the attacks, along with the attack in Tel Aviv, were scheduled to coincide with the start of Ramadan.

On Tuesday in Istanbul Turkey, a car bomb was detonated around 8:35 am just as a police bus was passing near a policy station. The bomb killed 11 people, six of whom were police officers, while wounding 36 others. Seven people have been arrested, including the four that rented the car.

Turkey has been hit by a spate of terrorist bombings in recent months. In some cases, the perpetrators were the the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), and in other cases the perpetrators were terrorists from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), or it terrorist offshoot the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK).

Turkish officials say that Tuesday's suicide bomber was a Syrian refugee that had come to Turkey, and that the refugee had links to ISIS. Police are investigating other connections to ISIS.

On Wednesday at 11 am, a car bomb attack targeted police headquarters in Turkey's southeastern province of Mardin, killing five people, including two police officers, and wounding around 30. In this case, Turkish officials say that they've identified they've identified the perpetrators as terrorists from the PKK.

Southeastern Turkey is a stronghold of ethnic Kurds in Turkey, and terror attacks occur regularly, leading police to take extra precautions. Authorities say that Wednesday's attack would have had a much higher death toll, but that was prevented by safety measures and barricades already in place. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Hurriyet

Terror attacks in Turkey complicate EU-Turkey migrant deal

In a way, the two terror bombings in two days in Turkey strengthens Turkey's hand in the continuing negotiations over the EU-Turkey refugee deal. After all, if one of the bombings was perpetrated by an ISIS-linked Syrian refugee, then Europe will be all the more desperate to keep out unvetted Syrian refugees.

So far the EU-Turkey deal has been incredibly successful according to what the EU wanted to accomplish. In 2015, 800,000 refugees crossed the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece, and there were thousands of drownings. But 5,000 have crossed the Aegean Sea in the last two months, and there were no refugee drownings. So Turkey has been meeting its obligations under the deal.

But if Turkey has been meeting its obligations, the EU has not:

The EU is also demanding that Turkey liberalize its anti-terrorism laws, especially those targeting ordinary Kurdish citizens. The two terror bombings will strengthen Turkey's claims that it's not possible to liberalize the laws.

We're now well into June, and there's been little public discussion of the EU-Turkey deal in the past few weeks. My guess is that European and Turkish officials have tacitly agreed not to discuss this issue until after Britain's June 23 "Brexit" referendum -- whether Britain should leave the European Union -- in order not to inflame the immigration issue further in the Brexit campaigns.

If that's true, then the last week of June is going to be a period of crisis negotiations between the EU and Turkey, no matter how the Brexit vote turns out. Daily Sabah (Ankara) and Washington Times and Foreign Policy

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Jun-16 World View -- Three terror attacks in Turkey and Israel mark start of Ramadan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

8-Jun-16 World View -- Kenya protests take an increasingly dangerous turn

Colorado health insurance in crisis as Obamacare continues to collapse

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Kenya protests take an increasingly dangerous turn


Six-year old Jeremy Otieno, who was hit by a stray bullet during Monday's protests in Kisumu (The Star)
Six-year old Jeremy Otieno, who was hit by a stray bullet during Monday's protests in Kisumu (The Star)

There were two new developments on Tuesday that indicate an increasingly dangerous situation in Kenya.

As I wrote about at length yesterday about the upsurge in violence related to next year's election, raising fears of a repeat of the 2008 tribal violence following the December 2007 election, resulting in 1200 people killed and 600,000 forced from their homes. ( "7-Jun-16 World View -- Increasing violence in Kenya revives fears of tribal war")

The Coalition for Reform and Democracy (CORD), led by Raila Odinga of the marginalized Luo tribe is protesting against the government led by president Uhuru Kenyatta of the market-dominant Kikuyu, and against the government-created Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), whose job it is to oversee the 2017 elections. Protesters are claiming that the IEBC is biased, and will rig the election in favor of Kenyatta, as has allegedly happened in the last three elections.

The two new developments on Tuesday are as followed:

First, the government issued regulations banning any protests against the IEBC.

"To avert further violence, destruction of property and loss of life, from today the government prohibits all unlawful demonstrations in the country. ...

It is extremely dangerous for anybody to challenge the government decision. The consequences are grave."

It's hard for me to imagine any government action that's more likely to infuriate the protesters. They're now threatening to expand their protests from once per week to twice per week. In view of the anger and bitterness over the bloody 2008 violence, and the shooting of protesters in Kisumu on Monday by police, there is absolutely no chance at all that the ban will be obeyed.

The second development is that the protesters on social media are uniting behind the hash tag #JusticeForBabyJeremy, referring to Jeremy Otieno, a six year old boy who was hit by a stray bullet and killed by police in Kisumu on Monday. The boy was not even participating in the protests, but was shot in the back outside his home. The hash tag was retweeted thousands of times on Tuesday, in a sign of growing anger at the police.

The next election is still many months away, but already positions have hardened irreparably and violence is increasing. As I wrote yesterday, things have changed a great deal in Kenya since the 2008 violence. At that time, Kenya was in a generational Unraveling era, and only 52 years had passed since the climax of Kenya's last generational crisis war, the Mau-Mau Rebellion. Today, Kenya is well into a generational Crisis, and it would not take much to trigger a full-scale crisis civil war that could kill hundreds of thousands of people. The Star (Kenya) and Radio France Internationale and Deutsche Welle

Malawi's albinos 'face extinction' as they're killed and sold for body parts

Albinism is a condition where someone lacks the pigment melanin that gives hair, skin and eyes their color. Malawi has an estimated 8-10,000 people with albinism in a population of 16 million -- a prevalence of more than 12 times that of North America and Europe.

Although albinos have always faced discrimination because of their startling appearance, the discrimination in Malawi has taken a macabre turn since 2014, when Malawi's economy took a deep dive. Since then there's been a surge in attacks on albinos, fueled by witchcraft and by promises of large sums of money by idiots who believe that albinos' bones contain gold or have special powers that bring wealth and success.

The speculation has driven the price of albino body parts up astronomically. According to media reports, one 17-year-old albino boy was worth $66,000 to witch doctors, for use in potions.

According to the World Bank, Malawi is currently the poorest country in the world, and a severe drought affecting the region has caused major food shortages. The lure of big money is thought to be the main reason for the upsurge in abductions and murders of albinos.

The upsurge in violence is a personal crisis in the life of any of the 10,000 albinos in Malawi. As the number of murders increases, it's thought that albinos may face total extinction. Nyasa Times (Malawi) and Newsweek and BBC

Colorado health insurance in crisis as Obamacare continues to collapse

Premiums for individual health-insurance policies are rising by as much as 41% in Colorado next year as four insurer pull out of all or some markets in the state.

UnitedHealthcare and Humana Insurance already announced that they would not offer individual plans in Colorado next year. In addition, Rocky Mountain Health Plans and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Colorado are severely restricting their offerings.

About 92,000 people with individual plans will need to find other coverage during the open enrollment period, Nov. 1, 2016–Jan. 31, 2017, representing approximately 20 percent of the 450,000 Coloradans who get their insurance through the individual market,

According to Colorado Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar:

"Companies are still figuring it out — where to sell, how to sell, how to price — which is why we’re seeing some companies pull back on individual plans or requesting significant increases, while still other companies are coming into the market. Some companies have done a better job of figuring out how to operate in this new environment and compete for people’s business, while others must step back and reevaluate their approach. ...

I’d rather these companies continued in the individual market. But in the larger picture, what’s taking place is a market correction; the free market is at work. And it is important to recognize that this is a market correction taking place on a national scale, not just in Colorado. While it was good initially to have so many companies offering so many individual plans, this could be an indication that there were too many options for the market to support."

The problem is that it's not a free market at all. It's the most f--cked up regulated market possible, thanks to the disastrous Obamacare legislation. And Salazar is correct that the same kind of disaster is "taking place on a national scale, not just in Colorado."

As long time readers are well aware (because I've repeated it many times), in July, 2009, when Obamacare was first announced, I wrote that Obama's health plan is a proposal of economic insanity. I compared it to President Richard Nixon's wage-price controls, and I predicted that it would just as much an economic disaster as Nixon's price controls. I wrote about it most recently in "26-Apr-16 World View -- Obamacare continues death spiral as Britain's NHS faces strike".

Obamacare should have collapsed by now, but instead Obama has found ways to transfer hundreds of billions of dollars of other money into Obamacare to prop it up. Meanwhile, the health care industry continues to be destroyed. Obamacare was supposed to reduce health costs, but instead health costs have skyrocketed.

This is what I predicted would happen, because that's what happened with Nixon's price controls. They were supposed to reduce inflation from 4% to 2%, but they screwed up the economy so much that that inflation increased to 12%. Obamacare is screwing up the economy today in exactly the same way.

Obamacare was supposed to eliminate uninsured people, but instead it's created millions more effectively uninsured people -- people who pay insurance premiums, but can't find a doctor or who have astronomical deductions, and so effectively have no insurance whatsoever. As Jonathan Gruber said, Obamacare passed because of the stupidity of the American people, and as I like to point out, he wasn't referring to me, but to Obamacare supporters. Obamacare may well be the stupidest economic policy in American history. Denver Business Journal and Colorado Division of Insurance

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Jun-16 World View -- Kenya protests take an increasingly dangerous turn thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

7-Jun-16 World View -- Increasing violence in Kenya revives fears of tribal war

Kenya facing fierce criticism over closing the world's largest refugee camp

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Increasing violence in Kenya revives fears of tribal war


Police officers walk past burning tyres in Kisumu, Kenya, on Monday (AFP)
Police officers walk past burning tyres in Kisumu, Kenya, on Monday (AFP)

In Kisumu, Kenya's third largest city, police opened fire on demonstrators on Monday, killing at least two. Another 61 people were injured in the clashes, 20 of whom were hospitalized with wounds from bullets or sharp objects. One of the wounded was a five-year-old child.

Police then used tear gas and water cannon to quell the protests as news of the deaths spread. Word of the shootings fueled heavy clashes in the center of Kisumu. There were widespread scenes of looting and two supermarkets were destroyed.

Protests have been occurring across the country since early April. Clashes with police have been increasing, but Monday's violence in Kisumu was the worst so far. Kisumu, a port city in western Kenya on Lake Victoria, is considered a hotbed of anti-government protests.

The protests are related to the presidential election scheduled for next year. After the election in December 2007, the entire country suffered from tribal violence that killed 1200 people, and forced 600,000 from their homes. (Jan 2008: "Post-election massacre in Kenya raises concerns of tribal war") The ethnic violence was started, according to many sources, by youthful activists in the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), an anti-government Luo ally supporting Odinga for President. The worst known atrocity occurred when 30 people died in a church fire. Dozens of people had gone to the church to escape increasing violence, when a youthful gang set the church on fire, trapping people inside. This atrocity drew international attention.

There are many tribes in Kenya, including the Luo, Luhya, Kalenjin, Kisii of western Kenya, and the Kikuyu, Embu and Meru (GEMA) people from the Mount Kenya area.

The two most prominent tribes are the market-dominant Kikuyu tribe and the disadvantaged Luo tribe. In the last three elections, the two leading candidates were Kikuyu and Luo, respectively, and the Kikuyu candidate always won. The violence after the 2007 election was triggered because of widespread accusations that the Kikuyu government had rigged the election, to score a new victory.

The same issue is propelling the new rounds of protests and violence. The current president is Uhuru Kenyatta, a Kikuyu, and his principal challenger is Raila Odinga, a Luo.

The Kenyatta government has created an Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), whose job it is to define the rules and procedures for next year's election. The opposition, led by Odinga, has formed the Coalition for Reform and Democracy (CORD), which is conducting the nationwide protests that triggered Monday's violence. CORD is accusing the IEBC of rigging the election so that Kenyatta will win again next year.

The protests are becoming increasingly violent. The concerns are that the violence will continue to increase, and there will a new round of widespread violence, no matter who wins next year's election. Coast Week (Kenya) and The Star (Kenya) and Al Jazeera and AFP

Generational history of tribal violence in Kenya

What's happening in Kenya is a pattern that I've described many times when a generational crisis war is an internal civil war.

Among generational crisis wars, an external war is fundamentally different than an internal civil war between two ethnic groups. If two ethnic groups have lived together in peace for decades, have intermarried and worked together, and if then there's a civil war where one of these ethnic groups tortures, massacres and slaughters their next-door neighbors in the other ethnic group, then the outcome will be fundamentally different than if the same torture and slaughter had been rendered by an external group. In either case, the country will spend the Recovery Era immediately following the war setting up rules and institutions designed to prevent any such war from occurring again. But in one case, the country will be unified in the decades to follow, while in the other case, the country will be increasingly torn along the same ethnic fault line.

Kenya's last crisis war was the "Mau-Mau Rebellion." Britain had been exerting a fairly heavy hand as a colonial power, starting from the 1850s. An independence movement began in earnest in the late 1940s, leading to the rebellion that began in 1952 and climaxed in 1956. In the Recovery Era that followed, Kenya finally gained independence in 1964. As population increased over the decades, the Luos, with traditional lifestyles as fishermen, had land conflicts with the Kikuyus and were marginalized.

When I wrote about the violence in 2007-8, I wrote that it was POSSIBLE but UNLIKELY that the violence would spiral into a full-scale civil war at that time. The reason is that the previous crisis war, the Mau-Mau Rebellion, had climaxed in 1956, only 52 years earlier. After 52 years, there would still be many survivors of the Mau-Mau Rebellion with personal memories of the war. They may have been only children at the time of the rebellion, but they would have had experiences that scarred them for life, and they would do everything possible to prevent anything like that from happening again. So in 2008, there would still have been enough of these survivors in senior positions to prevent the violence, as bad as it was, from spiraling into a full-scale civil war. This analysis turned out to be completely correct in 2008, as the violence fizzled within a few weeks. (Feb 2008: "Kenya settles into low-level violence on the way to Rwanda")

As I explained at that time, historical research and analysis had shown that a new crisis war starts to become increasingly likely at a point 58 years past the climax of the preceding crisis war. That seems to be the time when the survivors of the preceding crisis war lose their ability to prevent a new one. This is because children younger than five would not have any personal memory of a crisis war, and the children five years old and older become 63 year old and older after 58 years have passed.

Many Kenyans believe that nothing has changed and that any new violence that breaks out after next year's election won't be any worse than the 2008 violence. But that's not true, because there have been major changes since then. Eight more years have passed since the 2008 violence, and it's now 60 years past the climax of the preceding crisis war. This means that the survivors of the Mau-Mau Rebellion have almost completely disappeared, and will no longer be able to exert enough influence to prevent a major new civil war. This means that a new civil way is not CERTAIN, but it's far more LIKELY than it was in 2008. The Nation (Nairobi) and Open Democracy

Kenya facing fierce criticism over closing the world's largest refugee camp


Dadaab refugee camp in 2012
Dadaab refugee camp in 2012

Kenya has announced that it will close the Dadaab refugee camp later this year, and require the residents to return to their home country, which is almost always Somalia.

Kenya is the world's largest refugee camp, home to 350,000 people. It was opened in 1991, at a time when people in Somalia were fleeing civil war, lawlessness and recurrent droughts. (Recall that 1993 was the year of the famous "Black Hawk Down" incident, where Somali militia fighters shot down two American helicopters using rocket-propelled grenades. Mobs then hacked the fallen pilots to death with machetes and dragged their mutilated bodies through the streets as trophies.)

At its peak in 2012, the Dadaab refugee camp housed nearly a half-million people. Many children had been born there and grown to adulthood without ever leaving the camp. Since then, some Somalis have left the camp and returned home voluntarily.

Kenya has given two reasons for closing the camp. One reason is the enormous expense of supporting hundreds of thousands of refugees, with little or none of the financial support promised by the EU or the US having actually been provided. And second, it's believed that Somalia's terror group, al-Shabaab, is using the camp as a base to launch terror attacks on Kenya. (See "3-Apr-2015 World View -- Al-Shabaab kills 147 mostly Christian students in Kenya school" and "23-Sep-2013 World View -- Minnesota link to Kenya shopping mall attack raises U.S. fears")

Human rights organizations are taking action to prevent Kenya from closing the camp. There's little doubt that forcing 350,000 people to leave their homes and move somewhere else is the stuff of historical genocides, and closing the camp will not be smooth in the best of circumstances. Anadolu (Turkey) and AFP and VOA

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Jun-16 World View -- Increasing violence in Kenya revives fears of tribal war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

6-Jun-16 World View -- Kazakhstan and Bangladesh in shock after terror attacks on Sunday

Islamist militants in Bangladesh kill police officer's wife in revenge

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Violent terror attack on Kazakhstan blamed on Islamic militants


Three suspected Islamist gunmen were killed in a shootout with police in Aktobe, Kazakhstan on Sunday (vk.com)
Three suspected Islamist gunmen were killed in a shootout with police in Aktobe, Kazakhstan on Sunday (vk.com)

At least ten people were killed on Sunday when suspected Islamist militants conducted a series of attacks on targets in the city of Aktobe in northwest Kazakhstan, near the border with Russia. The armed gang first attacked a hunting supplies shop, then commandeered a bus and used it to ram the gates of a military base in the city. Inside the base, they opened fire indiscriminately, killing and wounding several servicemen.

Many of the details are unknown, because Kazakh authorities have closed off the area and have shut down all communications, including the internet.

Kazakhstan is a mostly Muslim country, and jihadist attacks are rare, although Aktobe was the scene of a suicide bombing in May 2011. Kazakh authorities are hesitant to admit the Islamist militancy is a problem in Kazakhstan, although northwest Kazakhstan, where Sunday's attack occurred, is a hotbed of militant activity.

Authorities have estimated that between 200 and 400 citizens of Kazakhstan have left the country, along with their wives and children, to take up arms alongside groups the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) in Iraq and Syria. ISIS reportedly has issued several video messages targeting Kazakhstan.

General economic unrest is increasing in Kazakhstan because of the collapse in global commodity prices, especially oil, and the ripple effect caused by Russia's recession. Kazakhstan's currency, the tenge, has lost 50% of its value against the US dollar, and other currencies in the region have suffered similarly.

As we reported last month, there were protests across the countries in response to announced land reforms by the government. Protesters feared that the changes would make it easier for large Chinese agribusinesses to take control of vast swaths of farmland. According to one protester, "We can't give land to the Chinese. If they come then they won't leave!" This atmosphere usually provides fertile ground for the spread of ISIS, al-Qaeda and other jihadist groups. EurasiaNet and Astana (Kazakhstan) Times and Reuters

Islamist militants in Bangladesh kill police officer's wife in revenge

Islamist militants on Sunday killed Mahmuda Aktar, the wife of a decorated police officer, as she was taking her son to school. The militants arrived on motorcycle, stabbed her nine times, then shot her in the head before driving off. The child was not hurt.

There have been at least 35 similar attacks carried out in the span of 14 months. Of those, 23 have been claimed by an Islamist terror group.

Sunday's attack occurred in the seaside town of Chittagong, which is close to Rakhine province of Myanmar (Burma), and is a hotbed of Islamist terrorism (like northwest Kazakhstan). As I wrote last month in "24-Apr-16 World View -- Bangladesh in shock after university professor hacked to death", a recent string of militant attacks may be related to continued ethnic tensions between the two sides in Bangladesh's last generational crisis war, the incredibly bloody and brutal 1971 civil war that made the former state of East Pakistan into the independent nation of Bangladesh.

Police officer Babul Aktar, whose wife was killed in Sunday's attack, had conducted some very effective investigations that led to busting a hideout of banned outfit Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and arrest of its military wing chief Md Javed in October last year.

It's believed that Sunday's attack was a revenge attack targeting Aktar's wife because the militant organizations had been unsuccessful in attacking Aktar directly. BDNews24 (Dhaka) and CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Jun-16 World View -- Kazakhstan and Bangladesh in shock after terror attacks on Sunday thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

5-Jun-16 World View -- How Iran's Khomeini fooled Jimmy Carter before the Great Islamic Revolution

Khameini accuses 'evil' Britain of fabricating the BBC report

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

How Iran's Khomeini fooled Jimmy Carter before the Great Islamic Revolution


Ayatollah Khomeini and Jimmy Carter
Ayatollah Khomeini and Jimmy Carter

An analysis by the BBC of a trove of newly declassified US government documents - diplomatic cables, policy memos, meeting records - shows that in 1979 Iran's new leader Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini tricked the administration of president Jimmy Carter into supporting the Great Islamic Revolution.

That Shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi, had ruled Iran since 1941, and was a staunch ally of the United States, though he was heavily criticized by liberals for human rights abuses. A rebellion against the Shah began in 1978. Since the Shah's army was heavily dependent on American arms and advice, President Carter could have done a great deal to keep the Shah in power, and prevent Khomeini from coming to power. Carter has been accused of refusing to support the Shah in the rebellion, allowing Khomeini to come to power, because of the human rights abuses, although he's denied that accusation.

The new declassified documents reveal that Khomeini courted the Carter administration, sending quiet signals that he wanted a dialogue and then portraying a potential Islamic Republic as amenable to US interests. Said Khomeini:

"You will see we are not in any particular animosity with the Americans, [and the new Islamic Republic will be] a humanitarian one that will benefit the cause of peace and tranquility for all mankind."

The documents reveal that, in return for Khomeini's assurances, the US said that they were not opposed in principle to the new government, and the US provided key intelligence information about Iran's military leaders. Carter administration officials advised Iran's army generals to simply let a coup occur.

The Great Islamic Revolution was a generational Crisis war, and as such was driven by powerful generational forces that would not have been affected by a bit of intelligence. The rebellion was a major civil war between the Shah's security forces and a growing population of revolutionaries supporting radical clerics, led by Khomeini.

At any rate, once Khomeini was in power, he did a 180 degree U-turn, and immediately became a vitriolic enemy of the United States. In particular, Khomeini created the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis by allowing students to storm the American embassy in Tehran and take the 52 American diplomats hostage for 444 days.

What the documents reveal has powerful symbolic significance even today. Khomeini's successor, Supreme Leader Seyed Ali Khamenei, is widely believed to have repeatedly lied to American negotiators to get agreement last year on the nuclear deal that resulted in the lifting of Western sanctions. BBC and NY Post

Khamenei accuses 'evil' Britain of fabricating the BBC report

Whether by coincidence or design, the BBC report was published on the 27th anniversary of the June 3, 1989, of the death of Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

In a speech on Friday commemorating Khomeini's death, Supreme Leader Seyed Ali Khamenei said that Britain was "evil" and the US is "Satan." He denounced the BBC report as fake "propaganda":

"Britain’s malice against the Iranian nation has never stopped. ... The same enmity continues as the British government’s propaganda apparatus spreads propaganda against the dear Imam of the Iranian nation [Khomeini], with the help of the Americans and forged documents, on the anniversary of the great and holy Imam [Khomeini’s] death. ...

The enemies are increasing their pressure on Iran because they are afraid of the Iranian nation’s ‘Revolutionary spirit’ - a legacy of the late Imam Khomeini. Before Revolution, the United States and the UK were ruling over us. Our grand Imam changed Iran’s path and changed the rail-track. Imam Khomeini guided country toward great objectives that can be summarized in Divine religion and they are uprooting ignorance and oppression as well as establishing Islamic values system."

In the same speech, he called trust in the U.S. a "big mistake" and asserted that U.S. interests are "180 degrees opposed" to those of Iran. He said that he had no intention of cooperating on regional issues with these enemies.

Khamenei's speech was interesting for another reason -- his call to maintain the same revolutionary fervor of 1979: "If we act Revolutionarily, progress is certain; otherwise, as Imam said “Islam will be slapped in face. ... I will mention five characteristics for being revolutionary and we have to create and maintain them in ourselves." These five characteristics are:

Khamenei referred to himself as an 'old revolutionary' person, so "now every modern youth can become even more revolutionary than me." Perhaps he was joking, or perhaps he was desperate.

This is wishful thinking on Khamenei's part. As I've written many times, this kind of "revolutionary fervor" will not be maintained, because Iran is in a generational Awakening era, one generation past the end of the Great Islamic Revolution and Iran/Iraq war, just like America in the 1960s-70s, one generation past the end of World War II. In fact, Iran has been fraught with many anti-government pro-American and pro-Western demonstrations by college students, just like America in the 1960s, as I described in "18-Jan-16 World View -- Pakistan tries to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran".

That explains why Khamenei, in his speeches, keeps returning to these themes of maintaining an anti-American "revolutionary" spirit, but he's fighting a losing battle because the "revolutionary" spirit of the generational Crisis era in 1979 cannot be maintained by the next generation, as it rebels against the harsh restrictions of the revolution in an Awakening era. That's why Khamenei's government has had send out the security forces to massacre, torture and kill peaceful demonstrators.

(In a recent article, "29-May-16 World View -- Hugo Chávez dismantled Venezuela's businesses on purpose to create Socialist Paradise", I described Mao Zedong's Great Leap Forward, which ended up killing tens of millions of Chinese. Mao's motivation for the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution that followed was exactly the same as Khamenei's motivation -- to invigorate the "revolutionary spirit," and end the anti-government demonstrations by college students.)

The point, as I've said in the past, is that those college students in pro-American demonstrations of the early 2000s are now in their 30s and increasingly in positions of power. Just as America's Awakening era climaxed with the resignation of Richard Nixon in 1974, Iran's Awakening era climax will bring about the end of the hardline regime of the old geezers in Khamenei's generation, and result in a pro-Western victory for Iran's younger generation. BBC and IRNA (Tehran) and Mehr News (Tehran) and AEI Iran Tracker (3-June)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Jun-16 World View -- How Iran's Khomeini fooled Jimmy Carter before the Great Islamic Revolution thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

4-Jun-16 World View -- Hezbollah building tunnels into Israel to prepare for next war

'Tiananmen Mothers' commemorate China's Tiananmen Square massacre

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Drinking beer is back in Venezuela's Socialist Paradise


Socialist president Nicolás Maduro Moros
Socialist president Nicolás Maduro Moros

Cerveceria Polar breweries, the firm that makes about 80% of the beer in Venezuela, has announced that it will resume production in July.

As we described last month, Polar was forced to close down its four domestic breweries, because it was unable to import the ingredients, especially the malted barley, because Venezuela's bolivar currency has become almost completely worthless. ( "15-May-16 World View -- Venezuela economy close to collapse as Maduro orders jailing of factory owners")

Venezuela's Socialist president Nicolás Maduro Moros has found a solution. He threatened to take over the factory and jail its owner, Lorenzo Mendoza, unless it started producing beer again.

Apparently Maduro's threats were successful. Mendoza obtained a $35 million loan from the Spanish bank BBVA, putting up other assets as collateral. In Maduro's Socialist Paradise, everybody's assets belong to Maduro. Pan Am Post and Reuters and AFP

Hezbollah building tunnels into Israel to prepare for next war

According to a report in Lebanon's Hezbollah-linked newspaper As-Safir, Hezbollah is preparing for its next conflict with Israel by digging attack tunnels and positioning its large arsenal of rockets along the northern border with Israel. The tunnels include underground ventilation systems which prevents moisture from damaging equipment, and include an electricity network and enough food to feed combatants for weeks.

Ever since the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, there have been regular reports that Hezbollah was building tunnels to infiltrate into Israel, and so the new report is nothing new. According to the report, the purpose of the current article is symbolic, to make Israelis nervous: "Resistance fighters are watching, making preparations and digging tunnels so enemy soldiers and settlers are losing sleep."

It's unlikely that Hezbollah will be going to war with Israel any time time. As we reported last week, Iran has ordered Hezbollah to suspend operations against Israel and to target Saudi Arabia instead. ( "28-May-16 World View -- Report: Israel and Saudi Arabia are allying against Iran and Hezbollah")

There are two major factors that Hezbollah has had to suspend operations against Israel. The first reason is that Hezbollah is bogged down in Syria, and has lost half its fighting force in support of the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad.

The second reason is the growing hatred and animosity between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Although the Palestinians hate Israelis, the people of Saudi Arabia and Iran do not. For that reason, Iran has ordered its puppet, Hezbollah, to concentrate on operations against Saudi Arabia rather than Israel. Jerusalem Post and Israel Today

'Tiananmen Mothers' commemorate China's Tiananmen Square massacre


Iconic photo of 'tank man' - student blocking row of tanks in Tiananmen Square in June, 1989
Iconic photo of 'tank man' - student blocking row of tanks in Tiananmen Square in June, 1989

Saturday is the 27th anniversary of the June 4, 1989, Tiananmen Square massacre, where China's army massacred thousands of peacefully protesting college students.

"Tiananmen Mothers" is a group of activist mothers whose children were killed in the massacre. They've written a letter accusing the Beijing government of "white terror" in refusing to account for the deaths of their children. China's government forbids all mention of the Tiananmen Square massacre, and uses force to suppress any mention of it. News.com (Sydney) and Human Rights in China - Tiananmen Mothers

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Jun-16 World View -- Hezbollah building tunnels into Israel to prepare for next war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

3-Jun-16 World View -- Turkey recalls German ambassador after vote recognizes Armenian genocide

Germany's genocide vote seems timed to coincide with EU-Turkey refugee deal

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey recalls German ambassador after vote recognizes Armenian genocide


Armenian settlements in eastern Turkey in 1915 (AFP)
Armenian settlements in eastern Turkey in 1915 (AFP)

In a move considered highly controversial because of its timing, Germany's parliament voted on Thursday to recognize the deaths of Armenians in 1915 during World War I at the hands of Turkey's Ottoman Empire as an act of "genocide." However, the vote was purely symbolic, as there are no legal consequences associated with the vote.

For Germans, one possible motivation for the vote is that Germany and the Ottomans were allies in World War I, and Germany may share some of the guilt for the deaths of the Armenians. The resolution emphasizes that Germany is aware of the "uniqueness" of the Nazi Holocaust and it "regrets the inglorious role" of Germany, the Ottoman Turks' main military ally at the time of the Armenians' killings, of failing to stop the "crime against humanity."

Armenia's foreign minister to Germany Edward Nalbandian praised the decision:

"Germany's valuable contribution not only to the international recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide, but also to the universal fight for the prevention of genocides, crimes against humanity."

The vote was overwhelming, with only one MP voting against, and only one abstention. Bettina Kula, who voted against the resolution, did not dispute the claim of genocide, but said that "It’s not the duty of the Federal Parliament to evaluate historical events that took place in other countries."

Members of Turkey's government were furious at the vote, and declared it "null and void." Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan was on a visit to Kenya, where he condemned the vote and announced that he was recalling Turkey's ambassador to Germany "for consultation." This was considered a mild action, one that's easily reversed. Last year, Turkey temporarily recalled its ambassadors to Austria and the Vatican after Austria and Pope Francis described the killings as genocide.

According to the Turkey's deputy prime minister Numan Kurtulmus:

"The fact that the German Parliament approved distorted and baseless claims as genocide is a historic mistake. The German Parliament’s approval of this bill is not a decision in line with friendly relations between Turkey and Germany. This decision is null and void for Turkey.

This is an issue that scientists and historians need to reach a conclusion on, not politicians or parliaments. As Turkey, we will surely give the necessary response to this decision in all platforms."

Most analysts outside of Turkey consider the evidence of genocide overwhelming.

Armenia says that as many as 1.5 million people were killed by Turkish forces in World War I between 1915 and 1917, and says that the mass killings were genocidal. According to Turkey, something like 500,000 Armenians and 500,000 Turks were killed in the massive civil war that occurred when the Armenians rose up against the Ottoman rulers, and so it wasn't a genocide. However, in February 1919, a court-martial found a number of top Ottoman officials guilty of war crimes, including against Armenians, and sentenced them to death. Deutsche Welle (Berlin) and Hurriyet (Ankara) and AFP

Germany's genocide vote seems timed to coincide with EU-Turkey refugee deal

The Armenian genocide question is a century-old issue, so it seems surprising that the German parliament is raising the issue at exactly this time, at the height of the negotiations over the EU-Turkey refugee deal.

The European Union desperately needs the deal to continue. Last year, there were thousands of Syrian refugees crossing the Aegean Sea every day to Greece's islands, creating an existential crisis for the EU. Thanks to the deal, Turkey has reduced that flow from thousands per day to dozens per day. This has permitted the EU to go its merry way without being threatened with the tsunami of refugees.

However, the EU has obligations under that treaty. The EU is obligated to pay Turkey 3 billion euros in aid for refugees, followed possibly by 3 billion more. None of that money has been paid, and is way overdue.

Possible most critical is the commitment to visa liberalization: Any of Turkey's 74 million citizens must be able to travel freely throughout Europe's Schengen zone without a visa. The deadline for this change is the end of June, and there are many forces in Europe that are bitterly opposed to visa liberalization for Turks. However, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said repeatedly that if visa liberalization isn't granted, then he'll cancel the deal and allow the full flow of Syrian refugees to Europe to resume. It's quite possible that there are hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees currently in Turkey just waiting for the deal to be canceled, and preparing to travel as soon as it is.

So this vote on century-old Armenian genocide issue arguably is coming at the worst possible time, at the height of tensions over the EU-Turkey deal. The suspicion is that the issue was brought to a vote at this time by people who would like to sabotage the visa liberalization.

A German official in the government of German Chancellor Angela Merkel said hopefully, "Despite some of his rhetoric, we believe Erdogan has a strong interest in making the migrants deal work and will not allow this to get in the way."

Over a thousand Turks demonstrated against the resolution on Saturday in front of the Reichstag building in Berlin and some German lawmakers say they have been bombarded with hate mail and insults on social media for supporting the resolution. Reuters and LA Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Jun-16 World View -- Turkey recalls German ambassador after vote recognizes Armenian genocide thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

2-Jun-16 World View -- New Taiwan poll shows overwhelming support for independence from China

China close to imposing an air defense ID zone (ADIZ) in South China Sea

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

New Taiwan poll shows overwhelming support for independence from China


From 2005: Taiwan poll results to question: 'Do you feel Taiwanese, Chinese or both?' (WSJ)
From 2005: Taiwan poll results to question: 'Do you feel Taiwanese, Chinese or both?' (WSJ)

A new poll in Taiwan shows that an overwhelming majority of Taiwanese people reject eventual unification with China. This comes a week after Tsai Ing-wen, the leader of the Taiwan's pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), took office as president of Taiwan, having won an overwhelming and decisive electoral victory in January. ( "17-Jan-16 World View -- Taiwan's pro-independence party wins historic presidential election")

According to the new poll, 66.4% oppose unification and only 18.5% are in favor, while 15.1% remain noncommittal. The poll found that people in younger generations were more likely to favor Taiwan independence. In the 20-29 age group, 72% supported independence.

This is consistent with a trend I've reported on in the past. The graph at the beginning of this article comes from 2005, and it shows that the portion of Taiwan's population describing themselves as "Taiwanese," as opposed to "Chinese," had risen from 18% to 42% over the previous ten years. If we assume that being "Taiwanese" corresponds to favoring Taiwan independence, then that amount has risen from 42% to 66.4% in the 11 years since then.

This almost certainly means that the trend is highly generational. Older generations, especially those with some memory of the 1949 flight from Mao Zedong's army to Hong Kong and then to Formosa, have clung to the hope that one day Taiwan and Beijing would reunite into a single China governed by Taiwan's Nationalist government. People in younger generations understand that this scenario isn't even remotely possible, and that reunification would mean being governed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Beijing, the same CCP that massacred thousands of college students in Tiananmen Square in 1989, and who have become increasingly authoritarian in Hong Kong, breaking their explicit public promise, when Britain returned Hong Kong to China in 1997, that they could have fully free and fair elections.

If I could figure all this out, then it's certain that the officials in the CCP have also figured it out. Just last week, just after Tsai Ing-wen took office as president, Chinese media demanded that Tsai explicitly affirm that Taiwan is part of China, something that Tsai is refusing to do.

In 2005, during the time when Taiwan's pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party was last in power, Beijing enacted an Anti-Secession law that required Beijing to invade Taiwan militarily if Taiwan took any steps to move towards independence, or even encourage independence in political speech. China is becoming increasingly nationalistic, and increasingly less willing to tolerate Taiwan's independent streak. The new poll shows that time is not on Beijing's side, and at some point, possibly soon, the military invasion of Taiwan will take place. Taipei Times

China close to imposing an air defense ID zone (ADIZ) in South China Sea

The Hong Kong based South China Morning Post is quoting China's military sources as saying that China is close to announcing an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in South China Sea, "pending US moves."

An official is quoted as saying:

"If the US military keeps making provocative moves to challenge China’s sovereignty in the region, it will give Beijing a good opportunity to declare an ADIZ in the South China Sea."

The "provocative moves" are an allusion to the US Navy's completely non-threatening freedom of navigation patrols, in which US patrol vessels simply sail through the South China Sea. China has announced that it is annexing the entire South China Sea, including regions that have historically belonged to other countries, much as Adolf Hitler annexed portions of eastern Europe in 1939, and is demanding that any American patrol vessel request permission from China before entering the South China Sea. However, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has repeatedly said that "The United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, as we do all around the world."

The announcement of an ADIZ would substantially escalate the tensions in the region. China has already been aggressively militarizing the South China Sea in preparation for the ADIZ. This includes creation of seven artificial islands and turning them into military naval and air force bases.

Just as China is preparing for war with Taiwan, China is also preparing for war in the South China Sea. The increasingly nationalistic Chinese people will not wait much longer before demanding that their leaders attack. South China Morning Post and India Times and The Diplomat

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Jun-16 World View -- New Taiwan poll shows overwhelming support for independence from China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

1-Jun-16 World View -- 50,000 civilians in danger as Iraq tries to liberate Fallujah from ISIS

Death of Afghan Taliban leader exposes Iran-Taliban links

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Death of Afghan Taliban leader exposes Iran-Taliban links


Wreckage of vehicle in which Mansour was traveling when hit by US drone strike (Anadolu)
Wreckage of vehicle in which Mansour was traveling when hit by US drone strike (Anadolu)

As we reported earlier this month, Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour was killed by a US drone strike as he was traveling by car in Pakistan's Balochistan province, not far from the border with Iran.

It now turns out that Mansour's car was returning from a trip to Iran. Iran's foreign ministry has said, "The concerned authorities in Iran reject that such a person had entered Pakistan via Iran’s border at the stated date," but Western reporters arriving at the site of the drone strike have seen Mansour's Pakistani passport, with entry and exit stamps showing that he had traveled into Iran and back again that day.

It's not known where or why Mansour went inside Iran. It's not known whether he had some secret relationship with Iran's government, or whether he was just visiting Taliban cells within Iran, without Iran's knowledge.

However, this discovery has generated some examination of Iran's relationship with the Taliban. Iran is a hardline Shia state, and the Taliban is a hardline Sunni organization, so their relationship could never be more than a "marriage of convenience" that could be dissolved by either side at any time.

Iran had staunchly opposed the Taliban in the 1990s and had almost gone to war with it after Taliban forces massacred Iranian diplomats and local Shia Muslims in the Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif in 1998. Since 9/11, there has been some cooperation between Iran and the Taliban over the US presence in Afghanistan.

Since 2014, when the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) began to infiltrate Afghanistan, Iran and the Taliban have shared a common interest in wanting to repel ISIS.

There are still plenty of unanswered questions about the drone strike that killed Mansour. Mansour's whereabouts were a closely guarded secret, and yet US intelligence officials were apparently absolutely certain, at the time of the drone strike, that they knew what car he was traveling in. How did they know?

James Cunningham, a former US ambassador to Afghanistan says:

"Pick your conspiracy theory. How did his passport survive? Did [ISIS] shop him to the US? Did the Iranians tip us off? We likely will never know. But the Taliban must be wondering, too.

What needs to be debunked is the Pakistani line that Afghanistan is the fault of the United States and the international community, and that the killing [of Mansour] blocks the [Afghan-Taliban] peace process. "There is no peace process; Mansour made clear there was no intent to negotiate."

Guardian (London) and VOA and Al Monitor

50,000 civilians in danger as Iraq tries to liberate Fallujah from ISIS

American Marines endured some of the bloodiest fighting of the Iraq War in Fallujah in 2003-2004, fighting against Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). After the "surge" in 2007, AQI was expelled from Iraq, including Fallujah, but the withdrawal of all American forces in 2011 created a vacuum that was filled by the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). ISIS captured large swaths of Iraqi territory, including Fallujah in 2014, and now there's a new battle of Fallujah, fought mainly by ISIS against Iraqi army forces, the latter backed by US airstrikes.

Baghdad has been hit by a seemingly unending stream of terrorist attacks and bombings that have killed hundreds of civilians in recent months. Fallujah if 40 miles west of Baghdad, and ISIS has been using it as a base to launch these attacks. The Iraq government sees the recapture of Fallujah as keep to stopping these attacks and stopping ISIS itself.

For more than a week, Iraqi forces have been surrounding Fallujah and preparing for troops to enter the city, and now the battle was finally launched on Tuesday. The ISIS forces have no way to escape, and so the fighting is fierce.

It's feared that a massive humanitarian disaster is in the making. The problem is that there are also 50,000 civilians in the city, and many have no way to escape either, though they've been advised to flee. ISIS forces have booby trapped many of the roads and buildings and they're using civilians as "human shields," hoping to slow down the Iraqi forces.

Iraq is increasingly facing a huge internal refugee problem, with hundreds of thousands of Iraqis forced to flee their homes in one battle after another. If the Iraq army ever attempts to liberate Mosul from ISIS, that will put its 600,000 civilians at risk.

There is a related issue that's growing in complexity. Since the invasion by ISIS, many of the internally displaced Iraqi civilians have fled to the relative safety and security of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). The KRI is supposed to hold a referendum on independence later this year, something that the Iraq government opposes, and it's possible that the Iraq government is not unhappy that a huge influx of Iraqi Arab refugees will complicate the referendum. Rudaw (Iraq/Kurds) and USA Today and VOA and Chatham House (London)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Jun-16 World View -- 50,000 civilians in danger as Iraq tries to liberate Fallujah from ISIS thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

31-May-16 World View -- Turkey's president Erdogan tells Muslims not to use birth control

Thousands of refugees leave Libya for Italy, hundreds drown

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Thousands of refugees leave Libya for Italy, hundreds drown


Boat carrying hundreds of migrants capsized on Thursday as an Italian Navy rescue ship approached (Getty)
Boat carrying hundreds of migrants capsized on Thursday as an Italian Navy rescue ship approached (Getty)

Human rights are describing as "catastrophic" the situation that 700-900 migrants drowned in the last week, attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to Italy.

However, some 13,000 to 14,000 were rescued in the last week. These numbers are similar to those from 2015. The numbers are expected to increase over the summer, as there are some 800,000 migrants in Libya waiting to cross. Almost all the migrants are coming from black African countries, including Nigeria, Egypt, Eritrea and Sudan.

Earlier predictions that there would be a flood of refugees from Syria, since the Aegean Sea route has been closed by the EU-Turkey refugee deal, have not been realized so far. The Libya route is many times more dangerous than the Aegean Sea route, and it's possible that many Syrian refugees are waiting to see if the EU-Turkey deal will fall apart, which could very well happen soon. The Local (Italy) and Eagle Online (Nigeria) and Express (London)

Turkey's president Erdogan tells Muslims not to use birth control

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has once again expressed his support for procreation, saying that no Muslim family should ever consider birth control or population planning.

"We will multiply our descendants. They talk about population planning, birth control. No Muslim family can have such an approach. Nobody can interfere in God's work. The first duty here belongs to mothers. ...

I am saying this clearly, we will increase our posterity and reproduce generations. As for population planning or birth control, no Muslim family can engage in such a mentality. We will follow the road that my God and dear Prophet [Muhammad] say."

Erdogan has previously been quoted as saying: "One or two children mean bankruptcy. Three children mean we are not improving but not receding either. At least three children are necessary in each family, because our population is at risk of aging." He has previously equated birth control with treason.

Erdogan's remarks were heavily criticized by women's groups for telling women how many children to have and dismissing the Western idea of gender equality. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Gulf Times (Doha)

Population growth rate of Muslims and Christians

Ever since I learned, years ago, that Muslims had the greatest birth rate of all religions, then I've been trying to find out why.

According to Pew Research, this trend will continue for decades into the future. According to Pew, from 2010-2050 population size is expected to increase 73% for Muslims, 35% for Christians, 34% for Hindus, and 16% for Jews, with the overall growth rate of 35%.

However, those figures assume that there won't be a new world war. As we described yesterday, the world is already bulging with people, food is becoming more expensive, and refugees are pouring out of Asia, the Mideast and Africa. This becomes more unstable every day, as does global finance, with huge interlocking debts in a giant credit bubble.

However, Muslims have been the fastest growing religion since the end of World War II. Furthermore, when I researched this in the past, I noticed that this applied to Sunni Muslim countries to but not to Iran, a Shia Muslim country. So I reached the obvious conclusion that this phenomenon applies not to Muslims in general, but only to Sunni Muslims.

My theory has always been that after the devastating destruction of Turkey's Ottoman Empire, which had ruled the Muslim world since the 1400s, Sunni Muslims developed either explicit or implicit communal sense that the way to get the Ottoman Empire back was to have as many children as possible.

I've asked any number of Muslims and Muslim scholars whether this theory makes sense, whether there was some kind of fatwa issued by some cleric in the 1920s or 1930s, telling Muslims to have as many children as possible to recover from the destruction of the Ottoman Empire. No one I spoke to supported this theory, and many explicitly denied it, although were also surprised to learn the statistics that Sunni Muslim populations have been the fastest growing populations, something of which they had been unaware.

There is no prohibition against contraception in Islam. Abortion and hysterectomies are prohibited, but ordinary contraceptive methods are acceptable, including the IUD and the pill. In fact, the Catholic religion is far more restrictive about contraception than Islam is. So Erdogan's claims about birth control appear to be exaggerated.

But here we have Turkey's super-authoritarian president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who gives every sign of wanting to reconstitute the old Ottoman Empire, saying that women should avoid contraception, have as many children as possible, "multiply our descendants."

So I'm sticking to my theory. The reason for the high birth rate among Sunni Muslims after World War II is because of of an explicit or implicit communal sense that the way to get the Ottoman Empire back was to have as many children as possible.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Erdogan's exhortation is just one more crazy idea, of which there are many, from just one more crazy politician, of which there are many. The Mideast is headed for a massive sectarian war, and Turkey will be at war with Iran, Russia and several Western countries, at the very least. As I wrote yesterday, those wonderful children will all be cannon fodder, and archeologists of the future will enjoy digging up their bones from mass graves. Pew Research and Islamic Edicts on Family Planning

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-May-16 World View -- Turkey's president Erdogan tells Muslims not to use birth control thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-May-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

30-May-16 World View -- Decoration Day: Commemorating America's heroes and the Battle of Verdun

Pacifism and the futility of war

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Decoration Day


May 30, 1912: About 700 Civil War veterans marched in this parade on Decoration Day in Los Angeles (LA Times)
May 30, 1912: About 700 Civil War veterans marched in this parade on Decoration Day in Los Angeles (LA Times)

Decoration Day was officially designated on May 5th, 1868, by President Ulysses Grant, to honor and decorate with flowers the graves of fallen soldiers during the Civil War. It was officially proclaimed on by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11:

"The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land."

The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.

Following World War I, Decoration Day was changed to Memorial Day, to honor Americans who died fighting in any war, not just the Civil War. Memorial Day is different from Veterans Day, which honors living veterans.

In 1971, Congress passed the National Holiday Act of 1971, making Memorial Day the last Monday in May, and a federal holiday, ensuring a three-day weekend. Almost every state now observes the holiday, although some southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19th in Texas; April 26th in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10th in South Carolina; and June 3rd (Jefferson Davis’ birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee. Washington Post and US Memorial Day and LA Times

Germany and France commemorate the centenary of the Battle of Verdun


Angela Merkel and François Hollande commemorate the Battle of Verdun on Sunday (AFP)
Angela Merkel and François Hollande commemorate the Battle of Verdun on Sunday (AFP)

Verdun was the longest battle of World War I, a savage confrontation lasting 10 months and leaving 800,000 German and French soldiers dead, wounded or missing. The Germans fired two million shells in the opening eight-hour bombardment, and tens of millions were fired over the course of the conflict.

The Germans initially gained five miles of ground in the battle, but over time the French regained the ground they had lost. Officially, France was the victor, but they had nothing to show for their victory but piles of dead bodies.

On Sunday, German chancellor Angela Merkel and France's president François Hollande led a ceremony in the city of Verdun, to commemorate the battle's 100th anniversary.

Both Merkel and Hollande related the battle to today's migrant and Brexit crises, which are threatening to tear the European Union apart. Merkel said:

"The name Verdun stands for incomprehensible cruelty and the futility of war as well as the lessons learnt and the German-French reconciliation. ...

War is possible. We must remain vigilant to avoid it ... All these dead are the victims of nationalism, of stubborn blindness and the failings of politicians."

Hollande warned against "forces of division" in Europe, saying "Disenchantment has given way to bitterness, doubt to suspicion and, for some, rejection or even separation."

The ceremony was held at Douaumont Ossuary, which contains the bones of 130,000 German and French soldiers. BBC and Irish Times

The Germany - France reconciliation - 1984


The iconic photo of Mitterrand and Kohl at Verdun in 1984
The iconic photo of Mitterrand and Kohl at Verdun in 1984

Although reconciliation between Germany and France was every European leader's goal after World War II, the bitter war kept them separated. By 1984, the people in the generations of Nazi and French leaders who had fought the war were finally mostly gone, and reconciliation was finally possible.

Above is the highly emotional photo of Helmut Kohl and François Mitterrand standing hand-in-hand during a 1984 commemoration ceremony at Verdun. It's an iconic photo illustrating reconciliation that took place between their respective nations after two world wars.

This was the 68th anniversary of the Battle of Verdun. Kohl and Mitterrand issued a joint statement:

"France and Germany have learnt lessons from our history. Europe is our common fatherland. We are heirs of a grand European tradition. This is why, forty years ago, we ended our fratricidal war and began to build our future together. We were reconciled, we came to an agreement, we became friends. European unification is our common goal – this is what we are working towards – in the spirit of fraternity."

Today in History and International Herald Tribune (29-May-1966)

Red poppies in Flanders Field


Red poppies in Flanders Field (LaMa Arts)
Red poppies in Flanders Field (LaMa Arts)

Many people wear red poppies on Memorial Day, to commemorate the dead. The tradition came about because of the following poem, written by a Canadian soldier fighting in World War I:

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae died of pneumonia and meningitis in Boulogne, France, on January 28th, 1918. The poppy is Canada's official Flower of Remembrance. LaMa Arts and Flanders Fields Music

Pacifism and the futility of war

At Sunday's commemoration of the Battle of Verdun, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, "The name Verdun stands for incomprehensible cruelty and the futility of war."

If any battle illustrates the futility of war, then the Battle of Verdun does. The German attack won five miles of ground which the French recovered in the weeks that followed. What was the point?

In fact, you could ask the same thing about all of World War I and World War II. There have been some small boundary changes in Europe in the last century, but hardly worth hundreds of millions of people killed.

If the futility of war is so obvious, then why are there wars? Why isn't everyone a pacifist?

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the answer is simple: The world's population grows faster than the world's food supply. That means that, eventually, some people will have to be exterminated so that there'll be food for the rest. The same reasoning applies to other resources.

A good example is the Mideast. The Israelis and the Palestinians have some of the fastest growing populations in the world. Each year, more and more people are jam-packed into Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. And the Israelis and Palestinians hate each other. (Incidentally, the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank hate each other also, to a lesser extent.) All these Israeli and Palestinian children are simply cannon fodder for the next war. People who talk about "two nations, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and harmony" are living in a total fantasy. This region is like a pressure cooker that must some day explode.

If you believe in evolution, then this is easily explainable. The strongest and fastest growing species is the one most likely to survive, because it will get the most food and resources. If there's no food left for the weaker species, then that species will quietly become extinct. That's because animals are not intelligent. Humans are intelligent, so they don't quietly become extinct. They conduct riots, demonstrations, and terrorist attacks, and eventually wars of extermination. So the strongest and fastest growing tribes, societies or nations will win the wars, and get all the food

If you believe in creationism, then the explanation is different, but also easily explainable. God has created a world in which the population grows faster than the food supply, so wars of extermination must occur. If wars of extermination must occur, because of God's creation, then it's God's fault that wars of extermination occur. It hardly makes sense to blame humans for wars of extermination if God has created a world in which wars of extermination are required. So the strongest and fastest growing tribes, societies or nations will win the wars, and get all the food.

So was the Battle of Verdun an example of futility? No, absolutely not. The Battle of Verdun killed off 800,000 people, and the food for those 800,000 people became available to other people. With those 800,000 people dead, they didn't need food, didn't need water, didn't need land, didn't need energy, and so forth. Those resources became available to other people. So the Battle of Verdun did exactly what it had to do, and except for those who experienced personal loss, it improved the lives of millions of other people. And that, Dear Reader, is the way the world works.

The world is bulging with people. Food is becoming more expensive, and refugees are pouring out of Asia, the Mideast and Africa. These are typical characteristics of a generational Crisis era.

Here are five events:

Sooner or later, one of these events (or something like them) will occur, and in this generational Crisis era, that will trigger all the others, and the Clash of Civilizations world war.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-May-16 World View -- Decoration Day: Commemorating America's heroes and the Battle of Verdun thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-May-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

29-May-16 World View -- Hugo Chávez dismantled Venezuela's businesses on purpose to create Socialist Paradise

Economic collapse of Venezuela will devastate the entire Caribbean region

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Economic collapse of Venezuela will devastate the entire Caribbean region


Typical food supermarket in Venezuela
Typical food supermarket in Venezuela

According to a statement by Venezuela's president Nicolás Maduro Moros, his predecessor "[Hugo] Chávez earned a place in heaven" by subsidizing heating oil to 150,000 low-income American families, and especially by the PetroCaribe program, which subsidizes oil for many Caribbean and Central American companies. However, Venezuela's Socialist economy spirals into collapse, all of these subsidy programs are in jeopardy, and ending the programs could seriously destabilize the region, as many countries are already in economic difficulties.

The PetroCaribe program began in 2005, at a time when Venezuela was making huge amounts of money from selling oil. Under the program, a Venezuela lends the country most of the cost of the oil under very lenient terms -- 25 year loans with interest rates as low as 1%. In addition, Venezuela accepts debt payments in kind. For the last 10 years, it has received payments in bananas, rice, jeans, medical assistance and “intelligence” services (from Cuba). Estimates are that this costs Venezuela $2-3 billion per year in lost income. This was not a problem a few years ago, but with the economy collapsing, it is today.

In a recent visit to Jamaica, Maduro insisted that Venezuela is still committed to the PetroCaribe program:

"We are fully convinced that in the last 10 years, PetroCaribe has clearly demonstrated that it’s only together that we can reach development and (achieve) happiness for our peoples."

If Maduro is correct that PetroCaribe is needed to achieve happiness for Latin American peoples, then the logical conclusion is that there will be a lot of unhappiness in Latin America if PetroCaribe ends. That's exactly the conclusion of New York based Latin America analysts LATAM PM.

Venezuela has almost $2 billion in debt due in October, $3 billion in November and almost $4 billion in April 2017, making default almost certain. According to LATAM PM:

Inflation hit 180.9 per cent and the economy contracted 5.7 per cent last year, according to central bank figures. Contagion risks are significant: on one hand, regional risk could spike, with Brazil and Ecuador already in a recession.

PetroCaribe ... is also in big danger. Between 2004 and 2008, Venezuela experienced an economic miracle. Its economy grew ten per cent on average every year, while GDP per capita expanded by 26 per cent. Now Venezuela is going backwards.

By 2018, the country will reach the GDP seen in 2005, but with a population six million (20 per cent larger). GDP per capita will fall to 2000 levels by 2018, as if 18 years had never occurred for the economy."

Members of the PetroCaribe program include Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Haiti, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador. Guatemala left the program in 2013. From the Caribbean, only the oil producers Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados refused Venezuela’s offer.

The inevitable end of the PetroCaribe program will have significant impact on most of these countries. The region spends around 15% of its GDP on oil imports, and many of the countries have a strong dependency on Venezuela's cheap oil. According to LATAM PM, "the existence of PetroCaribe is a matter of time and this will bring economic instability to Central America and the Caribbean." Jamaica Observer and Nation News (Barbados) and LATAM PM (29-Feb) and Economist (4-Oct-2014)

Lufthansa suspends flights to Venezuela over non-payment

As has been frequently reported, the citizens of Venezuela are suffering one indignity after another, thanks to the approaching collapse of Venezuela's Socialist economy. These indignities include jailing of factory owners, and severe shortages of everything from toilet paper to beer. ( "15-May-16 World View -- Venezuela economy close to collapse as Maduro orders jailing of factory owners")

On Saturday, the German airline Lufthansa announced that it is suspending all flights to Venezuela as of June 18. The reason is that many airline fares are paid in Venezuela's bolivar currency, which has become practically worthless, with the highest inflation rate in the world. Reuters

Hugo Chávez dismantled Venezuela's businesses on purpose to create Socialist Paradise

I was startled to hear analyst Yolanda Valery on the BBC describe the unfolding some of the history of the tenure of Hugo Chávez, as he worked to create his Socialist paradise.

In the mid-2000s decade, Venezuela was swimming in money. Starting in 2006-7, Chávez put a plan into action to turn Venezuela into a pure Socialist state. The plan was as follows:

Nobody would think of awarding Chávez or any of his acolytes (Sean Penn, Michael Moore, Oliver Stone, Jeremy Corbyn) any prizes for anything but sheer stupidity, but this plan is about the dumbest thing I've ever seen.

This reminds me of Mao Zedong's plan to create a Socialist Paradise in China -- the Great Leap Forward of 1958-59.

500,000,000 peasants were taken out of their individual homes and put into communes, creating a massive human work force. The workers were organized along military lines of companies, battalions, and brigades. Each person's activities were rigidly supervised. Mao's stipulated purpose was to mobilize the entire population to transform China into a socialist powerhouse -- producing both food and industrial goods -- much faster than might otherwise be possible. This would be both a national triumph and an ideological triumph, proving to the world that socialism could triumph over capitalism.

The Great Leap Forward was a disastrous failure, and tens of millions of people died of starvation. BBC: Venezuela on the Brink (MP3 at 17:30)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-May-16 World View -- Hugo Chávez dismantled Venezuela's businesses on purpose to create Socialist Paradise thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-May-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

28-May-16 World View -- Report: Israel and Saudi Arabia are allying against Iran and Hezbollah

Iran and Hezbollah turn focus of hostility from Israel to Saudi Arabia

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Report: Israel and Saudi Arabia are allying against Iran and Hezbollah


1938: English girls giving Nazi salute returning from a field trip to Germany - 'We had the time of our lives!' (Der Spiegel)
1938: English girls giving Nazi salute returning from a field trip to Germany - 'We had the time of our lives!' (Der Spiegel)

As I've been writing for years, Generational Dynamics predicts that Iran, India and Russia will be allied with the West against China, Pakistan, and the Sunni Arab nations in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war.

For the last few weeks, there have been increasingly widespread reports in the media that Israel and Saudi Arabia have all but severed ties with the United States, and are forming an independent military alliance against Iran.

This development runs counter to a very powerful Generational Dynamics trend prediction, and so it needs to be analyzed. Either the trend prediction is wrong (which it isn't), or the Israel-Saudi alliance must be relatively short-lived.

Several days ago, Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly announced a significant change in policy, as he asked the Arab nations to help in a "real deal" with the Palestinians:

"The initiatives I’m referring to are regional initiatives – meaning, aided by the Arab countries in the region to reach a real deal with the Palestinians. We always thought it would be the opposite, but that is the direction today. I am constantly trying, including over the last few hours, to further contacts with various leaders in the region to help in this direction."

A couple of days previously, Netanyahu responded to an offer by Egypt's president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to mediate between Israel and the Palestinians by saying, "Israel is ready to participate with Egypt and other Arab states in advancing both the diplomatic process and stability in the region. I appreciate President al-Sisi’s work and also draw encouragement from his leadership on this important issue." According to reports, the Arab countries include Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Jordan and Egypt.

Netanyahu had previously rejected the help of Arab mediators in the Palestinian issue, because they were insisting on the "right of return," which would allow the descendants of Palestinians lost their homes in the 1948 war between Jews and Arabs to reclaim their grandparents' real estate. However, reports suggest that the Arab nations are backing off from that demand.

The Palestinian issue is only the latest of the issues uniting the Saudis, Egyptians and Israelis. As we've reported for years, President Obama has managed to alienate all three countries and offended their leaders. This has led to a shared sense of betrayal and abandonment, especially after Obama's vigorous pursuit of a nuclear deal with Iran, creating a widespread impression that he was more interested in a good relationship with Iran than with them.

There have been signs that the rapprochement in Israel's relationship with Egypt and Saudi Arabia has crossed over into the military sphere.

Israel and Egypt signed a 1979 peace treaty that Egypt's Sinai peninsula was a demilitarized zone. Yet Israel has approved Egypt's requests to move additional troops into Sinai, near the border with Israel. More recently, Israel raised no objections to Egypt's transferring two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, even though the transfer affected Israel's security.

Israel and Saudi Arabia share the common interest and belief that the biggest threat is Iran. Reports have surfaced in the past that the Saudis gave Jerusalem approval for Air Force jets to pass through their airspace if Israel decides to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. This suggests that Israel and Saudi Arabia have military to military contacts regarding Iran, and may be sharing intelligence or making other plans. Breaking Israel News and Israel National News and Politico (EU) and Jerusalem Post (12-Apr)

Iran and Hezbollah turn focus of hostility from Israel to Saudi Arabia

According to recent reports, Iran has ordered Hezbollah to suspend operations against Israel and to target Saudi Arabia instead.

Lebanon's Shia terrorist group Hezbollah and its leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah have been Iran's puppets for decades, and have had as their main objective "resistance" to Israel, or the destruction of Israel. Israel and Hezbollah fought a war in Lebanon in 2006, and Hezbollah has supported Hamas and other Palestinian groups in conducting terror operations against Israel and Israeli targets.

But the war in Syria has changed all that. Under orders from Iran, Hezbollah sent thousands of its fighters into Syria to fight alongside the army of the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. The targets have been anyone who opposes al-Assad, all the way from peaceful protesters and children in school all the way to the jihadist groups, so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) and the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front).

Last week, Nasrallah admitted for the first time that he had lost "a large number" of his fighters in battles in Syria. Some reports give a figure of 1,500 to 2,000, or one-third of his entire army.

The new orders from Iran were triggered by a number of devastating Iranian and Hezbollah losses in Syria, including the assassination of Hezbollah's top military commander Mustafa Amine Badreddine, who was leading Hezbollah forces in Syria. ( "14-May-16 World View -- Syria's Aleppo campaign falters after disastrous Iranian loss at Khan Tuman")

The death of Badreddine was extremely significant, and statements by Iran and Hezbollah make it clear that they blame his death on jihadist forces funded and supported by Saudi Arabia.

As we reported yesterday, Iran has announced that it would not let its citizens participate in the Hajj in Mecca on September 9-14. This is Islam's holiest event, and non-participation by Iran is quite significant. ( "27-May-16 World View -- Increasingly hostile Iran-Saudi relations affect this year's Hajj")

According to reports, Iran has instructed Hezbollah to initiate actions against Saudi Arabia before the beginning of the Hajj in September. Middle East Eye (17-May) and Middle East Eye and Reuters (20-May) and Al Arabiya (20-May)

Shifting Israeli alliances in the Mideast

I am asked frequently it's conceivably even POSSIBLE that Iran will be an American ally in the coming world war, as I've been predicting for ten years would happen, given the political situation of the last ten years.

There are examples in World War II that serve as precedents. Russia and Josef Stalin were our bitter enemies before the war, but we were allies during the war. Britain and Nazi Germany were close before the war, but were bitter enemies during the war. Before the war, Germany and Russia signed a non-aggression pact, called the Molotov-Ribbentrop Treaty, but Germany invaded Russia anyway.

A generational crisis war, like World War II, is very different from an "ordinary" war because it's considered existential, a threat to the very existence of a country and its way of life. None of the wars that America experience since the end of WW II -- Korean war, Vietnam war, Iraq wars -- was anything like that. Non-crisis wars are based on political decisions. You have Christmas truces in non-crisis wars. Crisis wars are based visceral hatred, a desire to exterminate. There are no Christmas truces.

So right now, Saudi Arabia and Israel are allied against Iran. But this is a purely political alliance. There is no visceral hatred among Israelis for Iranians, and there is no visceral hatred among Iranians for Israelis. (See, for example, "9-Nov-15 World View -- Political crisis in Iran grows over nuclear agreement")

On the other hand, the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Iran is based on deeply visceral hatred. We see signs of this all the time, such as the Iranian firebombing of the Saudi embassy in Tehran in January, with no apology forthcoming. Iran and Saudi Arabia will be involved in an extremely bloody generational crisis war with absolute certainty, and it appears that the time is approaching rapidly.

So what about Israel? There is little hatred between Israelis and Iranians, but there's enormous hatred between Israelis and Palestinians, particularly among younger generations. The prediction that I first posted in May 2003 is still just as true today as it was then: Jews and Arabs are headed for a new generational crisis war, re-fighting the 1948-49 genocidal war between Jews and Arabs that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. (From 2003: "Mideast Roadmap - Will it bring peace?")

OK, so what about Egypt? Israel and Egypt have had a peace treaty for over a quarter century. Will Israel be at war with Egypt?

To address that question, one first has to point out that Egypt is at war with itself. Egypt's army is fighting ISIS and Bedouins in Sinai, and there have been major riots targeting Coptic Christians in Egypt.

This example is a small illustration of a vastly larger problem in analyzing generational trends in the Mideast -- that there are ethnic fault lines that go beyond the easily predicted sectarian fault lines. Especially with the rise of ISIS, al-Nusra and the Kurds, we can already see signs of Sunnis fighting Sunnis in Syria, for example.

What's needed is a deep, thorough analysis of the trends among all the ethnic groups in the Mideast. Remarkably, this would be a lot easier today than it was even ten years ago, because today there's a huge wealth of social media that can be looked at.

Analyzing that huge volume of social media is far more work than I'm capable of accomplishing. But if some college student is looking for a thesis topic in order to accomplish something really important and develop valuable information on the future of the Mideast, then this is it. Der Spiegel (13-Jun-2013) and World War II: The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-May-16 World View -- Report: Israel and Saudi Arabia are allying against Iran and Hezbollah thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-May-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

27-May-16 World View -- Increasingly hostile Iran-Saudi relations affect this year's Hajj

Far-left anti-government riots spread across France

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

A disastrous year in relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia


View of the streets of Mina where the stampede occurred during the Hajj in 2015 (AP)
View of the streets of Mina where the stampede occurred during the Hajj in 2015 (AP)

Sectarian Sunni versus Shia relations in the Mideast have worsened significantly in the last year, largely driven by Iran's support of the Syria's genocidal Alawite president Bashar al-Assad, who for five years has been conducting a war of extermination against his own Sunni citizens.

The Hajj takes place each year in Mecca, in Saudi Arabia. It's Islam's holiest event, commemorating rituals that date back to the prophet Abraham, and then codified by the prophet Mohamed in the Quran. Each Muslim is required to make a pilgrimage to the Hajj at least once in his lifetime. Last year, about two million Muslims from 180 countries around the world arrived in Saudi Arabia for their once in a lifetime Hajj pilgrimage. This year, the dates of the Hajj are September 9-14.

The worst disaster to befall the Hajj in modern times occurred last year when two large groups of pilgrims arrived together at a crossroads in Mina, a few kilometers outside the holy city of Mecca. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims were walking towards the site of one of the most important rituals, "stoning the devil," which requires throwing seven stones at a pillar representing Satan in the city of Mina. However, when two massive crowds converged on the same narrow street, the people in front were forced to stop, while the ones hundreds of meters to the rear kept on walking. All of this took place under a burning hot sun, with a temperature of 46 degrees centigrade (= 114 degrees fahrenheit). The result was that hundreds of pilgrims suffocated or were trampled to death, including many elderly people and children. ( "27-Sep-15 World View -- After Hajj stampede disaster, Muslims debate the 'Will of Allah'")

The stampede caused the death of at least 769 pilgrims, of which 464 were Iranians, according to the Saudis. There have been claims that up to 2,200 pilgrims were killed in the stampede. From the beginning, Iran called the stampede "a crime," and demanded that the Saudis be prosecuted in international courts. The Saudis said that the stampede was cause by Iranian pilgrims "not following instructions."

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran took a major step towards increased hostility in January of this year, when Saudi Arabia executed 47 alleged terrorists -- 46 Sunnis and one Shia, Mohammad Baqir Nimr al-Nimr, infuriating Iran and Shias because it implied that Shia terrorism is equivalent to Sunni terrorism. Iranian mobs firebombed the Saudi embassy in Tehran, and attacked the consulate in Meshaad. ( "18-Jan-16 World View -- Pakistan tries to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran")

After the firebombing of the Saudi embassy in Tehran, Saudi Arabia and Iran broke diplomatic relations. Other Saudi allies followed suit. In January, the Saudis halted trade and airline flights with Iran.

Then, at the beginning of April, the Saudis banned Iran's airline, Mahan Air, from flying through Saudi airspace at all, or landing at its airports, saying that Mahan was in violation of safety regulations. This affected around 150 direct flights per month between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The National (UAE, 5-Apr) and Al Bawaba (Palestine, 6-Apr) and Press TV (Tehran, 5-Apr)

Iran bans Iranians from attending the Hajj in 2016

With the 2016 Hajj approaching, Saudi Arabia and Iran have made the Hajj an issue in the severe hostility existing between the two countries. The issues are as follows:

Since the beginning of May, the Iranians and Saudis have been in talks, attempting to find a way to resolve this issue. However, the two countries are still at an impasse, and an Iranian official said Iran was "very concerned over the security of Iranians during the holy ceremony." Al Arabiya (12-May) and Al Jazeera and Leadership (Nigeria) and Al Monitor

Far left anti-government riots spread across France

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets across France on Thursday to protest the government's proposed labor reform bill. In Paris, protests descended into violence, with protesters throwing projectiles and police firing bouts of teargas. Across the country, rioters blockaded roads and oil refineries, resulting in a shortage of petrol.

France has the shortest legal working week in Europe, at 35 hours. The 35 hour work week would be kept, but the new law would make it easier for employers to lay people off. Layoffs are currently almost impossible in France, but the reforms would allow companies whose revenues have fallen for four consecutive quarters to lay people off.

France has a 10.5% unemployment rate, compared with 5.4% in the UK and 4.8% in Germany. Most observers blame France's high unemployment rate on the fact that employers are reluctant to hire anyone, especially young people, since it's almost impossible to fire them if they're incompetent.

According to reports, the far-left activists calling for the strikes and riots feel betrayed because the labor reforms are being proposed by France's Socialist president François Hollande who, they feel, should completely support the far left.

As I wrote a few days ago, we're seeing in many countries complete rejection of established politicians by young Millennials, and deep polarization as large segments of the population move to the far left, while other segments move to far right. This is what happened in the 1930s, leading to World War II, and we can expect to see more riots and demonstrations on the far right and the far left, as these countries go deeper into a generational Crisis era. France 24 and BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-May-16 World View -- Increasingly hostile Iran-Saudi relations affect this year's Hajj thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-May-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

26-May-16 World View -- China demands new Taiwan leader explicitly affirm that Taiwan is part of China

IMF balks at new European bailout plan for Greece

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China demands new Taiwan leader explicitly affirm that Taiwan is part of China


Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan's new president (Reuters)
Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan's new president (Reuters)

Just four days after Taiwan's new president Tsai Ing-wen took office, she is already facing a major political crisis with China, after a major election victory in January. ( "17-Jan-16 World View -- Taiwan's pro-independence party wins historic presidential election")

As I wrote in my January article, Taiwan-China relations are sure to be tumultuous as soon as Tsai takes office, and that is happening very quickly.

Since 2008, Taiwan has been governed by the pro-China Kuomintang (KMT) party, which favors the "one China" principle and unification with mainland China, and which has fully supported all of China's claims in the South China Sea.

Tsai is the leader of Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which in the past has favored Taiwan independence from China. When the DPP was in power prior to 2008, relations between China and Taiwan were so bad that in 2005 Beijing passed an "anti-secession law" saying that China would take military action against Taiwan if there were any moves or speeches in the direction of Taiwan independence from China.

So in Tsai's inauguration speech five days ago, Tsai said that she "respected" the "common understanding" between Taiwan and China, but did not say what the common understanding was.

According to Beijing state media, Tsai made "a painful effort not to answer one important question..., whether or not to acknowledge the 1992 Consensus embodying the one China principle."

According to Beijing:

"The current developments across the Taiwan Straits are becoming complex and grave. ...

Since 2008, the two sides of the Straits, acting on the common political foundation of adhering to the 1992 Consensus and opposing "Taiwan independence", have embarked on the path of peaceful growth of cross-Straits relations. ...

The key to ensuring peaceful growth of cross-Straits relations lies in adhering to the 1992 Consensus, which constitutes the political basis of cross-Straits relations. The 1992 Consensus explicitly sets out the fundamental nature of relations across the Taiwan Straits. It states that both the Mainland and Taiwan belong to one and the same China and that cross-Straits relations are not state-to-state relations. The 1992 Consensus was reached with explicit authorization of the two sides and has been affirmed by leaders of both sides. It thus constitutes the cornerstone of peaceful growth of cross-Straits relations.

We have noted that in her address today, the new leader of the Taiwan authorities stated that the 1992 talks ... reached some common understanding, and that she will handle affairs of cross-Straits relations in keeping with the existing defining document and related regulations and continue to advance the peaceful and stable growth of cross-Straits relations on the basis of the established political foundation.

However, she was ambiguous about the fundamental issue, the nature of cross-Straits relations, an issue that is of utmost concern to people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits. She did not explicitly recognize the 1992 Consensus and its core implications, and made no concrete proposal for ensuring the peaceful and stable growth of cross-Straits relations. Hence, this is an incomplete test answer.

A choice of different path leads to different future. This is a choice between upholding the common political foundation that embodies the one China principle and pursuing separatist propositions of "Taiwan independence" such as "two Chinas" or "one country on each side". This is a choice between staying on the path of peaceful growth of cross-Straits relations and repeating the past practice of provoking cross-Straits tension and instability. And this is a choice between enhancing the affinity and well-being of people on both sides and severing their blood ties and undermining their fundamental interests. The Taiwan authorities must give explicit answer with concrete actions to all these major questions and face the test of history and the people. ...

"Taiwan independence" remains the biggest menace to peace across the Taiwan Straits and the peaceful growth of cross-Straits relations. Pursuing "Taiwan independence" can in no way bring peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits. The common will of people on both sides of the Straits are not to be defied. Today, we remain as determined as ever to uphold national sovereignty and territorial integrity and have ever stronger ability to do so. We will resolutely forestall any separatist moves and plots to pursue "Taiwan independence" in any form."

Beijing is demanding that "Taiwan must clarify this issue with practical action and allow the examination of the people and history."

Tsai won the January election overwhelmingly because the people of Taiwan, especially the younger generations, increasingly identify as "Taiwanese" rather than "Chinese." The KMT is a party of older generations.

If Tsai complied with China's demands and unambiguously recognized the 1992 Consensus, there would probably be anti-Chinese "Sunflower movement" riots in the streets, as there were frequently the last time the DPP was in power, and those riots will probably overflow into Hong Kong, where there could be a renewal of anti-Chinese "Umbrella movement" riots.

So China's demands of Tsai are quite ominous, and the political situation will be extremely volatile no matter what Tsai decides to do. China Radio International's English Service and Xinhua

IMF balks at new European bailout plan for Greece

The eurozone finance ministers, meeting in Brussels, announced on Wednesday morning that they had reached deal to provide a new bailout to Greece, and also announced that the deal complies with the demands by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for "debt relief" for Greece, and that debt relief will be provided by 2018. The new 10.3 billion euro bailout loan to Greece would allow Greece to make a July 1 debt repayment and avoid bankruptcy. It's expected that, as in the past, about one-third of the bailout loan would come from the IMF, which is funded by the United States and other countries, and two-thirds would come from eurozone institutions.

The IMF demand for "debt relief" alludes to the fact that Greece can never pay off its debt. Readers who have been following this issue for years and years can well remember crisis after crisis, with a decision each time to "kick the can down the road" by granting Greece a new bailout loan so that they could use it to avoid immediate bankruptcy. (This technique is sometimes called "Using your Visa credit card to pay your Master Card bill.")

However, the IMF announced that for this, the first 2016 crisis, they would not simply kick the can down the road, but would demand debt relief. Since most of Greece's 300 billion euro debt is owed to European Union (eurozone) institutions, the eurozone has it within its power to reduce Greece's debt so that Greece could one day be debt-free.

The main opponent of debt relief has always been the Germans, especially Germany's cranky finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble. So the finance ministers reached a compromise on the debt relief issue, "extending the repayment period and capping interest rates."

What does that mean? Details were not provided, but speculation was that interest rates would be close to zero until 2050, and Greece would not have to repay the debt in full until 2100. By that time Wolfgang Schäuble would be dead, and indeed so would all the other finance ministers.

So the finance ministers announced that they'd agreed on debt relief, and had met the IMF's demands.

However, an IMF official disagreed, saying:

"Greece is in a situation where it needs a disbursement, and so we were certainly willing to concede on some points. But we have not conceded on the point that we need adequate assurances regarding debt relief before we go to our board... I am hopeful we will get there. ...

We are not in the situation where the IMF can say that we're ready to move ahead. But... given what we have got from the Europeans, given what they committed to, I'm hopeful that we can get to that point by the end of the year."

By the end of the year? It looks like another crisis in the making. Kathimerini and BBC and AFP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-May-16 World View -- China demands new Taiwan leader explicitly affirm that Taiwan is part of China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-May-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

25-May-16 World View -- Iran-India sign 'historic' Chabahar port deal to counter Pakistan-China

Iran, India and the classic fables of Kalileh-wa-Dimneh, Jataka and Panchatantra

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iran and India sign 'historic' deal for Iran's Chabahar port


Map displaying the trade routes related to the Chabahar and Gwadar ports (Defence.pk)
Map displaying the trade routes related to the Chabahar and Gwadar ports (Defence.pk)

In a two-day visit to Iran's capital city Tehran, India's prime minister Narendra Modi and Iran's president Hassan Rouhani signed a dozen commercial, security and cultural agreements.

The most important was the "historic" Chabahar Port agreement. Chabahar is on the coast of Iran near Pakistan. India has agreed to invest $500 million to significantly increase the size of this port. Using it, India will be able to bypass Pakistan in shipping goods to Iran, and from there to Afghanistan, Central Asia or Europe. (Chabahar is the large red star on the map above, and the red lines are proposed travel routes from Mumbai to Chabahar, through Iran to Central Asia and Europe.)

The proposal fo build up the Chabahar has been discussed since the 1990s, but agreements have been slow to come. Then the whole project was put on hold because of international sanctions on Tehran. So this deal comes just four months after international sanctions have been lifted.

China has been investing heavily in the Pakistan's port at Gwadar, shown by the large purple star in the map above. The purple lines show China's trade routes to the Mideast:

A visitor from Mars might wonder why India doesn't just ship commercial goods over land through Pakistan to the port of Gwadar or to Iran. The answer is that in December of last year, Pakistan's government said that it would not permit Indian goods to be transported across Pakistan.

Afghanistan's president Ashraf Ghani was also in Tehran on Tuesday to join in the announcement of the Chabahar Port agreement. The agreement is significant for Afghanistan, because it will mean a great deal of increased trade with its ally, India. Indian Express and Tehran Times and Dawn (Pakistan - 10-Dec-2015)

Chabahar port deal highlights enmity between Iran-India versus Pakistan-China


Narendra Modi, Hassan Rouhani and Ashraf Ghani in Tehran on Tuesday (PTI)
Narendra Modi, Hassan Rouhani and Ashraf Ghani in Tehran on Tuesday (PTI)

Long-time readers are aware that for ten years I've been reporting that Generational Dynamics predicts that in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, America will be allied with India, Russia and Iran, versus China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries. ( "15-Jul-15 World View -- Arab views of Iran nuclear deal")

In the case of Iran, the generational analysis was pretty straightforward. In the early 2000s, there were numerous pro-Western and pro-American riots and demonstrations by college students in Iran. Of course, the Iranian hardliners crushed them violently, but doing that didn't change any hearts and minds. Today, those college students are in the 30s, in positions of power, and they retain those pro-Western views. ( "9-Nov-15 World View -- Political crisis in Iran grows over nuclear agreement")

Obviously, that analysis only goes back about 15 years. But in fact, Hindus and Shias have been closely linked for many centuries, and it's particularly significant that in 681 AD Hindus fought on the side of (what would become) the Shias in the most important battle in Islam's post-Mohammed history -- the Battle of Karbala, the battle that permanently split the Muslim world of the time into the Sunni and Shia branches.

During the visit by India's prime minister Narendra Modi to Tehran, Modi gave a speech that emphasized the long relationship between the two cultures:

"Centuries of free exchange of ideas and traditions, poets and craftsmen, art and architecture, culture and commerce have enriched both our civilizations. Our heritage has also been a source of strength and economic growth for our nations. The richness of Persian heritage is an integral part of the fabric of the Indian society. A part of Iranian culture lives in Indian hearts. And, a slice of Indian heritage is woven into the Iranian society. Our ancient heroes and epics bear striking parallels. The dargahs of Azmer Sharif and Hazrat Nizamuddin in India are equally revered in Iran. Mahabharata and Shahnama, Bhima and Rustam, Arjuna and Arsh exhibit similarity in our world views and values. ...

As two ancient civilizations, we are known for our ability to be inclusive and welcoming to foreign cultures. Our contacts have not just refined our own cultures. They have also contributed to the growth of moderate and tolerant societies globally. Sufism a rich product of our ancient links, carried its message of true love, tolerance and acceptance to the entire mankind. The spirit of Sufism is also reflected in the Indian concept of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, the World as one family. ...

India and Iran have always been partners and friends. Our historical ties may have seen their share of ups and downs. But, throughout our partnership has remained a source of boundless strength for both of us. Time has come for us to regain the past glory of traditional ties and links. Time has come for us to march together. In this endeavor, you, the eminent scholars have a defining role to play."

After reading that, compare it to the words of China's president Xi Jinping when he visited Pakistan in April of last year to sign numerous commercial, security and cultural agreements, including plans for a $46 billion transportation corridor from Xinjiang province to the port of Gwadar. ( "27-Apr-15 World View -- China extends its military buildup with Pakistan")

During Xi's "historic" visit to Pakistan, he said the following:

"This will be my first trip to Pakistan, but I feel as if I am going to visit the home of my own brother. Over the years, thanks to the nurturing of generations of leaders and people from all sectors of both countries, China-Pakistan friendship has flourished like a tree growing tall and strong. No matter how the circumstances in our two countries, the region and the world change, our bilateral relations have enjoyed sound and steady growth. We have always respected, understood and supported each other on issues concerning our respective core interests. In Pakistan, our relationship is poetically hailed as a friendship “higher than mountains, deeper than oceans and sweeter than honey.” In China, Pakistan is known as a sincere and reliable friend. Obviously, China-Pakistan friendship is deeply felt in the hearts of our two peoples."

In May 2011, Pakistan's ambassador to China Masood Khan described the relationship between Pakistan and China as "higher than mountains, deeper than oceans, stronger than steel, sweeter than honey, and dearer than eyesight."

These two displays of deep affection, India with Iran and China with Pakistan, may sound like true love, but they're the portent of things to come, the coming Clash of Civilizations world war will pit India, Iran and others versus China, Pakistan and others, in the bloodiest and most destructive war in world history. Narendri Modi and Times of India and Pakistan Observer

Iran, India and the classic fables of Kalileh-wa-Dimneh, Jataka and Panchatantra

During Narendra Modi's speech, excerpted above, Modi said the following:

"India and Iran are two civilizations that celebrate the meeting of our great cultures. The rare Persian manuscript Kalileh-wa-Dimneh, released just now, captures the close historical links between India and Iran. It is remarkable how the simple stories of the Indian classics of Jataka and Panchatantra became the Persian Kalileh-wa-Dimneh. It is a classic example of exchange and travel of cultural ideas between two societies. ­A beautiful demonstration of how our two cultures and countries think alike. A true depiction of the wisdom of our ancient civilizations."

I had never heard of these classics, but I checked out the Kalileh-wa-Dimneh. I've only had time to skim through it, but it's a fascinating collection of fables and stories that remind me of Aesop's Fables. It would be well worth your time, Dear Reader, to take a look for yourself. Kalileh-wa-Dimneh

The Caspian Corridor and the New Silk Road


The Caspian Trade Corridor is part of the New Silk Road connecting Asia with Europe
The Caspian Trade Corridor is part of the New Silk Road connecting Asia with Europe

In ancient times the Silk Road, a complex road network, was the most favored transport route between China and Europe. Today, there's a great deal of renewed interest in developing a New Silk Road, new trade routes between Asia and Europe. This article describes two such trade routes, through the ports of Chabahar and Gwadar, respectively.

It's worth mentioning one additional trade route from Asia to Europe, the Caspian Corridor, that I've written about before. ( "21-Jan-16 World View -- Azerbaijan forced to choose between Russia and Turkey")

The plan is to develop infrastructure within the Caspian Sea to effectively connect Central Asia to the Caucasus region. Goods can travel overland from India and China through Central Asia by truck and railway, to a port on the Caspian Sea. From there, the goods are ferried across the Caspian Sea to a port in Azerbaijan. From there, they can travel overland again, through Georgia, Turkey, and then into Europe, including Ukraine.

The Caspian Corridor is suitable for Pakistan and China, but not for India, since it would require land transport across Pakistan, which apparently has been forbidden. In fact, Pakistan and China have effectively isolated India from Afghanistan and Central Asia. India has been forced to use costly and impractical routes to reach the heart of Asia and Asiatic Russia.

For that reason, the Chabahar port project is considered a "game changer," and will make a significant difference for India and Afghanistan. According to Afghanistan's president Ashraf Ghani: "A hundred years from now historians will remember this day as the start of regional cooperation. We wanted to prove that geography is not our destiny. With our will we can change geography." Deccan Chronicle (India)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-May-16 World View -- Iran-India sign 'historic' Chabahar port deal to counter Pakistan-China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-May-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

24-May-16 World View -- Massive explosions in Syria target Bashar al-Assad's heartland

Death of Afghan Taliban leader complicates America's relationship with Pakistan

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Death of Afghan Taliban leader complicates America's relationship with Pakistan


Wreckage of vehicle in which Mansour was traveling when hit by US drone strike (Anadolu)
Wreckage of vehicle in which Mansour was traveling when hit by US drone strike (Anadolu)

The Taliban has confirmed that the American drone strike that "likely" killed Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour, as we reported two days ago, actually did kill Mansour. The drone strike occurred in Pakistan's Balochistan province.

President Obama bragged that the killing was "an important milestone" for peace in Afghanistan. Secretary of State John Kerry said, "This action sends a clear message to the world that we will continue to stand with our Afghan partners as they work to build a more stable, united, secure and prosperous Afghanistan. Peace is what we want. Mansour was a threat to that effort."

These Pollyannaish views are not supported by any of the analysts I've seen. The Taliban will undoubtedly go through a period of confusion as a new leader is picked, but the wish that the new leader will bring about peace in Afghanistan is fantasy. In fact, the disorganization within the Taliban could allow the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) to gain a stronger foothold in Afghanistan.

Many consider the most likely choice for Mansour's successor to be Sirajuddin Haqqani, leader of the Haqqani Network, which has worked closely with the Afghan Taliban. Haqqani has a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head, and is widely seen by U.S. and Afghan officials as the most dangerous warlord in the Taliban insurgency, responsible for the most bloody attacks, including one last month in Kabul in which 64 people were killed. Thanks to the help of the Haqqani network, the Taliban now control more territory in Afghanistan today than they did since 2001. Haqqani could take control of the entire Taliban movement if he's approved.

The US drone strike into Pakistan's Balochistan province that resulted in Mansour's death is causing analysts to focus on America's relationship with Pakistan. The US has conducted numerous drone strikes into Pakistan's tribal area. Pakistan's government publicly condemns all American drone strikes as violating Pakistan's sovereign territory, but it's widely believed that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency covertly approves of the strikes, and even provides the CIA with intelligence for identifying targets.

However, the strike into Balochistan province would be the first known drone strike outside of the tribal area, and is liable to raise hackles in Pakistan similar to those that were raised when American special forces entered Pakistan and killed Osama bin Laden.

The ISI has apparently never approved any drone strikes against Haqqani network targets in Pakistan, and it's suspected that the ISI likes and supports Sirajuddin Haqqani. This has given rise to the speculation that the ISI somehow got the US to kill Mansour so that Haqqani could take over the Taliban. If that speculation is true, then Mansour's death could lead to an even greater insurgency in Afghanistan, and would substantially complicate America's relationship with Pakistan.

Afghanistan's last generational crisis war was the extremely bloody civil war fought between 1991 and 1996. The war was fought mainly between the Pashtuns in southern Afghanistan versus the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan. Today's Taliban terrorists are radicalized Pashtuns, and Generational Dynamics predicts that they are not going to agree to any peace deal, no matter whom they select as their new leader.

President Obama came into office promising to reverse the evil policies of past presidents that led us into war, and promised to bring peace to America. He won a Nobel Peace Prize. But in the last week, President Obama has just won another honor: President Barack Obama officially became the U.S. president to have been at war the longest — longer than Lyndon Johnson, longer than Abraham Lincoln and certainly longer than George W. Bush. This is what happens when America's leader has no clue what's going on in the world. With wars going on in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, Obama is virtually certain to be the only U.S. president to spend a full eight years presiding over wars. Deutsche Welle and Reuters and AFP and The Diplomat

Massive explosions in Syria target Bashar al-Assad's heartland

A series of coordinated terrorist attacks on Monday in cities near Syria's Mediterranean coast have killed nearly 150 people. There were seven nearly simultaneous explosions in two seaside cities, Jableh and Tartus. A series of car bombs and suicide bombers targeted bus stations, hospitals and other sites.

The obvious objective of the bombings was to kill as many civilians as possible. However, the Russians may also have been targets, as Russia has a naval base near Tartus and an airbase near Jableh.

The so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) claimed responsibility for the attacks. Some analysts considered that unlikely, pointing out that ISIS has been operating mostly in eastern Syria, and had not previously operated in western Syria. However, no one else has claimed credit, and there are some 700,000 refugees from Aleppo, Idlib, Raqqa and other war zones who have fled to the region, and an ISIS cell could well have been among them.

The attacks are a major embarrassment to the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, for several reasons.

The Syrian regime has been scrambling to explain the massive attacks. Prime Minister Wael al-Halaqi blamed the terrorist attacks on Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, which is not widely believed outside of Damascus. He said that the "cowardly terrorist actions" would not destabilize the country.

I'm sorry, Dear Reader, but the al-Assad regime uses mortars on innocent protesters, uses Sarin gas on innocent citizens, uses missiles on children's dormitories, and uses barrel bombs on hospitals, so for the regime to refer to someone else's terrorist attacks as "cowardly" is really laughable. AFP and AP and SANA (Damascus) and Syria Online (Damascus)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-May-16 World View -- Massive explosions in Syria target Bashar al-Assad's heartland thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-May-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

23-May-16 World View -- Austria deeply split between far-right and left-liberal candidates

Austria's election part of a world-wide move to the right with deep polarization

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Austria deeply split between far-right and left-liberal candidates


Election posters for Norbert Hofer (L) and Alexander van der Bellen. (AP)
Election posters for Norbert Hofer (L) and Alexander van der Bellen. (AP)

As of this writing on Sunday evening, Austria's electorate is deeply polarized between two candidates who split the vote almost evenly in an election on Sunday. The postal votes will be counted on Monday, to decide the actual winner.

The two candidates are Norbert Hofer of the far-right Freedom Party versus Alexander Van der Bellen of the left-liberal Green Party. Both are considered to be fringe parties. What's perhaps most remarkable is that the two main centrist parties, the center-right Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) and the center-left Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ) have both been shut out, for the first time since 1945, the end of World War II. This rejection of established politicians is similar to what has been happening in American politics.

There were 4.48 million people voting directly on Sunday, giving right-wing candidate Norbert Hofer has 51.9% of the vote, and left-wing candidate Alexander Van der Bellen has 48.1% of the vote. However, there are 700,000 absentee ballots, or 13.5% of the total ballots, and so it's quite possible that the postal votes will change the result quite significantly, giving the victory to either candidate.

Austria's politics have been strongly affected by the migrant crisis. About 90,000 people claimed asylum in Austria last year, equivalent to about 1% of the Austrian population, and the Freedom Party ran an anti-immigration campaign. Last year, Austria followed Hungary in closing the border to migrants passing through from Greece to Germany. Then last month, Austria's parliament voted to close border with Italy to slow refugees.

A victory by Hofer would give momentum to anti-migrant and eurosceptic parties in other EU countries. Moves to the right have already occurred in several countries, including France, Germany, Hungary and Denmark. BBC and The Local (Austria) and Reuters

Austria's election part of a world-wide move to the right with deep polarization

I've been writing about the worldwide increase in nationalism and xenophobia for years. This is a feature of every generational Crisis era, and we're seeing a repeat of many things that happened in the 1930s.

In 2008 in South Africa, tens of thousands of immigrants were forced to flee for their lives from their homes and businesses, often with no time to collect their belongings before their homes and businesses are looted and destroyed. The xenophobic violence and looting were generally perpetrated by young South Africans from the Zulu and Xhosa tribes. At first, refugees from Zimbabwe were particularly targeted, but later any foreigner was targeted, forcing the government to set up refugee centers housing some 70,000 refugees. ( "South Africa will create 'temporary shelters' for migrants, not 'refugee camps'")

I've written many times about anti-immigrant, anti-Roma, and anti-Muslim xenophobia in Europe. For example, in 2009 I wrote about xenophobia in Switzerland ( "Switzerland shocks itself by passing a ban on minarets."). Other examples include mutual xenophobia between China and its neighbors, Japan, Philippines, and Vietnam.

So what we're seeing today is not something that's suddenly sprung up. It's part of a growing trend that's slowly but surely been gathering power since the generational Crisis era began around 2003.

There's another side to this, however, that we haven't really yet seen yet, but certainly will -- something corresponding to the 1930s rise of the radical left -- Socialism and Communism -- as a countervailing force to the rise of the radical right. Early signs of this are already evident in America in the candidacies of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

It's worth recalling something Donald Trump has said. He's said repeatedly some variation of the following: "My wife has told me to act more presidential. If I did that, then there would be only ten people in this audience instead of 2000. So I'm not going to become presidential until I have to be." The clear implication is that Trump is like any other politician, just telling his supporters what they want to hear.

So, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Trump himself may or may not be nationalistic and xenophobic, but he's making nationalistic, xenophobic speeches because he's appealing to a highly nationalistic, xenophobic audience, mostly Millennial. In that sense, he's no different from any other politician in that he'll tell people what they want to hear if they'll vote for him and give him money. But it's the people who decide the policies, not the politicians.

As I've written many, many times, it's a core principle of generational theory that, even in a dictatorship, major decisions are made by masses of people, by generations of people. The attitudes of politicians are irrelevant, except insofar as they represent the attitudes of the people. The Holocaust and World War II would have occurred with or without Adolf Hitler.

So we've been seeing the same phenomena in both America and Austria: Complete rejection of established politicians by young Millennials, and deep polarization as large segments of the population move to the far left, while other segments move to far right. This is what happened in the 1930s, leading to World War II. And it's what's happening today, and will lead to the approaching Clash of Civilizations World War that I've been writing about for years. The Local (Austria) and Guardian (London) and Washington Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-May-16 World View -- Austria deeply split between far-right and left-liberal candidates thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-May-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

22-May-16 World View -- Afghan Taliban leader reportedly killed by US drone strike in Pakistan

Kazakhstan farmers riot over fears of encroachment from China

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Kazakhstan farmers riot over fears of encroachment from China


Riot police confront protesters on Saturday in Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city (Reuters)
Riot police confront protesters on Saturday in Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city (Reuters)

Authorities in Kazakhstan reacted harshly to protests announced for Saturday by detaining possibly hundreds of journalists, activists and demonstrators. Police in full riot gear broke up the protests on Saturday, and dozens more were arrested in cities across the country.

They're protesting against a planned "Land Reform" program. The program would make it easier for foreigners to buy farmland or rent it for 25 years. Protesters fear that the changes would make it easier for large Chinese agribusinesses to take control of vast swaths of farmland. According to one protester, "We can't give land to the Chinese. If they come then they won't leave!" China shares a lengthy border with Kazakhstan and has been heavily investing in its energy sector and infrastructure.

The new law was approved in November, but only comes into effect on July 1. In the last round of protests, on April 27, there were one or two thousand people in each city, which is quite serious for Kazakhstan where no dissent is tolerated. Authorities fear a repeat of the huge protests in 2011, when oil workers went on strike, and 14 people were killed by police gunfire.

Kazakhstan is heavily dependent on oil exports and because of the drop in oil prices, its revenues plummeted creating budget deficit. The government had to decrease its expenditure, and the national currency lost half of its value, although it's slowly recovering now as oil prices are going up.

The collapse in global commodity prices, especially oil, drove Russia into recession, and has had s big ripple effect throughout central Asia, whose economies are dependent on Russia through subsidies and migrant labor. Kazakhstan's currency, the tenge, has lost 50% of its value against the US dollar, and other currencies in the region have suffered similarly.

Although the proposed Land Reform law triggered the riots and protests, the downward spiraling economy has turned it into general protests again Kazakhstan's president Nursultan Nazarbayev, who was First Secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan in the last few years of the Soviet Empire, and then became president in 1991 when the Soviet Empire collapsed.

On May 5, Nazarbayev announced that the Land Reform would be put on hold, until the new laws could be discussed publicly. That was a huge concession to the activists, and perhaps was as much a sign of panic as anything else, but it didn't stop the protests from happening anyway on Saturday. EurasiaNet and Press TV (Tehran) and BBC (28-Apr) and Jamestown

Afghan Taliban leader reportedly killed by US drone strike in Pakistan

According to the Pentagon, a US drone strike into Pakistan's Balochistan province, has "likely" killed Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour.

Mansour's rise to power came about in a bizarre way. His predecessor was Mullah Omar, who was the nominal leader of Afghan Taliban until his death was announced in July of last year. But when his death was announced, the announcement said that he had died in April 2013. In other words, for over two years of being leader of the Taliban, he was dead.

At that point, Mansour rose to leadership, but he has not been accepted as leader by all factions, with the result of extremely bitter political infighting within the Taliban.

Nonetheless, in recent months the Taliban has been expanding operations in Afghanistan's south, and has captured several key districts, leading many to believe that President Obama will be forced to leave a large military contingent in Afghanistan at the end of his term.

Mansour's whereabouts are a closely guarded secret, so if Mansour has indeed been killed by an American drone strike, it would have to have been done with intelligence from sources within the Taliban itself. Confirmation of Mansour's death would have to come from announcement by the Taliban.

The death of Mansour, if confirmed, will not mean the end of the Taliban, just as the death of Osama bin Laden did not prevent continuing operations by al-Qaeda and did not prevent the rise of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). One possible scenario is that his death would worsen the political infighting in the Taliban. Another possible scenario is that an even more hardline leader will be chose, someone who will unite all the Taliban factions and end the infighting. AP and Foreign Policy

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-May-16 World View -- Afghan Taliban leader reportedly killed by US drone strike in Pakistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-May-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

21-May-16 World View -- A dark shadow looms over EU-Turkey refugee deal, as Turkey passes harsh anti-Kurdish law

Downed EgyptAir flight an economic disaster for Egypt

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Downed EgyptAir flight an economic disaster for Egypt


A tourist rides a camel in front of the Giza pyramids (Reuters)
A tourist rides a camel in front of the Giza pyramids (Reuters)

At this writing, new evidence indicates that there was an electrical fire in the toilet and electronics of EgyptAir Flight 804, which went down in the Mediterranean Sea on Thursday, killing all 66 people onboard, as it traveled from Paris to Cairo. It's not known if the fire was the cause of the downing, or if the fire was a byproduct of a terror attack.

Either way, it's a disaster for Egypt's tourism industry and economy in general, which has already been spiraling downward. This was the third attack on Egypt's passenger aviation in just the last six months. In March, an EgyptAir flight was hijacked by a man wearing a fake explosive belt, and forced to land in Cyprus.

And in November, a passenger plane exploded over northern Sinai, 23 minutes after taking off from Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh airport on the Sinai Peninsula, heading for St. Petersburg Russia. That was not an Egyptian plane but was a Russian plane, Metrojet flight 9268, but that makes little difference given that it was blown up over Egypt.

Going beyond aviation disasters, there have been several terrorist bombings in Egypt, and the north Sinai is almost a war zone.

The tourism industry contributes about 11 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product and employs about 12 per cent of the workforce. However, the number of tourists travelling to Egypt has fallen from 2.2 million in the first quarter of 2015 to about 1.2 million in the first quarter of 2016. Egypt's beach resorts are almost deserted, and even usually popular sites such as Giza’s pyramids and Great Sphinx have few visitors anymore. The new airline disaster is going make these bad figures even worse.

During the regime of Hosni Mubarak, Egypt was a tourism powerhouse, but the number of visitors has been falling since the 2011 Arab Spring and the overthrow of Mubarak, and even more since the army coup, led by current president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi, to oust the Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohammed Morsi in 2013. International Business Times and CNN and BBC (9-Jan)

A dark shadow looms over EU-Turkey refugee deal, as Turkey passes harsh anti-Kurdish law

The EU-Turkey refugee deal has drastically reduced the flow of migrants crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece. But the EU has left Greece on its own to deal with the tens of thousands of migrants that already arrived, including many that are crowded filthy refugee camps.

The EU had promised Greece that EU member countries would send a staff of 2,300 experts -- police, case officers, judges, and language interpreters and translators -- to help process asylum requests, and the EU has not supplied that staff. Nor has the EU resolved the question about how approved Syrian refugees are to be distributed to the EU member countries, as many EU nations are stalling or refusing to accept more migrants.

The EU has simply blown off its obligations, leaving it to Turkey to take of the problem for them. The EU is desperately dependent on Turkey, and soon will have to fulfill it's part of the EU-Turkey deal: Allowing 70 million Turkish citizens to have visa-free travel in Europe's Schengen Zone. Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has forcefully and frequently repeated his threat that he will cancel the refugee deal and open the floodgates if the EU reneges on the visa-free travel.

Many Europeans dislike they idea under any circumstances. The eastern European nations that were part of the Ottoman Empire are opposed, and there are other groups of people who simply dislike Turks.

But it's been made even more difficult because of Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian government, especially crushing freedom of speech by seizing the country's largest opposition newspaper. ( "6-Mar-16 World View -- Turkey's 'shameful day for free press' as government seizes Zaman media")

Europeans have also been concerned Erdogan's harsh use of anti-terrorism laws against Turkey's Kurdish minority. Those concerns were made even stronger on Friday when the parliament passed a constitutional amendment removing prosecutorial immunity from MPs. The amendment is particularly targeted to deputies from the Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). The passage of the amendment will permit Erdogan to have Kurdish members of parliament prosecuted and possibly jailed on terrorism charges.

For the European Parliament to willingly approve Turkey's visa-free travel, Turkey will have to change its laws -- something that's not going to happen, and something that the increasingly authoritarian and tyrannical Erdogan feels is not necessary since the EU is desperate. But the increasingly nationalistic and xenophobic European parliament may refuse to approve visa-free travel anyway, leading to dark confrontation between the EU and Turkey. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Deutsche Welle

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-May-16 World View -- A dark shadow looms over EU-Turkey refugee deal, as Turkey passes harsh anti-Kurdish law thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-May-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

20-May-16 World View -- Netanyahu's selection of Avigdor Lieberman criticized in and out of Israel

Lieberman's lack of experience compared to Amir Peretz

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Netanyahu's selection of Avigdor Lieberman criticized in and out of Israel


Avigdor Lieberman (L) and Benjamin Netanyanu (Reuters)
Avigdor Lieberman (L) and Benjamin Netanyanu (Reuters)

Press reports from Israel and around the world are almost unanimous in condemning the choice by Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyanu for the new Defense Minister to be minister Avigdor Lieberman, head of the Yisrael Beiteinu ("Israel is our home") political party, forming what liberals are calling 'most right-wing government in history

Yisrael Beiteinu holds five or six seats of the 120 in the Knesset (Israel's parliament). Netanyahu has been governing with a razor-thin majority of 61 seats, and joining with Yisrael Beiteinu gives him at least 66 seats.

Lieberman is usually described as "a hard right racist," because of his anti-Arab rhetoric. He questions Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s commitment to peace, and he also questions the loyalty of Arab citizens of Israel, and has proposed deporting Arabs who cannot pass a loyalty test. He also led a recent parliamentary drive to exclude Arab parties from running for election, a move that was overturned by Israel’s supreme court.

A Palestinian Authority (PA) statement said that the appointment of Lieberman means that the PA no longer has a partner in the peace process. "The appointment of Lieberman to serve as a minister in Netanyahu's government is an answer to the regional, international and French efforts to reinvigorate the Israeli-Palestinian peace process."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the selection of a far-right defense minister is part of a movement to the right in countries around the world, with increased nationalism and xenophobia, as I've been writing about for years. This is what happens during a generational Crisis era. It's what happened in the 1930s, and it's what happening today. Ynet (Israel) and Forward (Israel) and AFP

Lieberman's lack of experience compared to Amir Peretz


Israel's Defense Minister Amir Peretz (right) in 2007 looking through binoculars with the lens cap on. On the left is the army's new Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi.  They're reviewing a military drill in the Golan Heights.
Israel's Defense Minister Amir Peretz (right) in 2007 looking through binoculars with the lens cap on. On the left is the army's new Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi. They're reviewing a military drill in the Golan Heights.

Avigdor Lieberman has had no military experience, and so he's being compared to Israel's previous Defense Minister who had no previous military experience -- Amir Peretz.

In 2007, I and others mocked Peretz mercilessly because he was photographed, while reviewing a military drill in the Golan Heights, by looking through binoculars without removing the lens cap. (From February 2007: "This week's idiot of the week: Israeli defense minister Peretz".)

In other words, the person in charge of the army didn't know how binoculars worked. If that were his only sin, it might have been forgotten by now.

But Peretz was also responsible for the 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon. That war was a total disaster for Israel. When two Israeli soldiers were abducted by Hezbollah, Israel went into a state of total panic, and launched the war in Lebanon within four hours, with no plan and no objectives. In the next few weeks, the supposed objectives changed on an almost daily basis. ( "How Israel panicked in pursuing the summer Lebanon war with Hizbollah.")

Lieberman will presumably not make the same kinds of mistakes that Peretz did, but maybe he will. At any rate, Peretz's experience illustrates the enormous dangers of putting a politician in charge of an organization, when the politician doesn't have the vaguest clue what he's doing. Jewish Telegraphic Agency

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-May-16 World View -- Netanyahu's selection of Avigdor Lieberman criticized in and out of Israel thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-May-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

19-May-16 World View -- Chinese official slams Hong Kong independence during 'inspection visit'

Hong Kong's history and culture make it very different from China

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Chinese official slams Hong Kong independence during 'inspection visit'


Pro-democracy protests greet Zhang Dejiang in Hong Kong on Wednesday (CNN)
Pro-democracy protests greet Zhang Dejiang in Hong Kong on Wednesday (CNN)

China's state leader Zhang Dejiang, making a three-day "inspection visit" to Hong Kong, criticized Hong Kong who protest against Beijing policies. Nominally, the purpose of the speech was to describe Hong Kong's role in Beijing’s "One Belt, One Road" trade initiative. But there was also an iron hand. Zhang, a member of China’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee, made clear in his speech that calls for independence of Hong Kong from China would not be tolerated.

Hong Kong residents were promised fully free and fair elections when Britain returned the British colony over to China in 1997. China has consistently stalled on the promise, triggering the large protests in mid-2014 that shut down the business district for weeks. These protests were mostly peaceful, but there were some clashes with police. The protests were called the "Umbrella Revolution," after protesters brought umbrellas to protect themselves from police teargas.

The particular trigger for the 2014 protests was a demand by China that the "free" elections in Hong Kong in 2017 would be tightly controlled by Beijing. The elections would be "free," but the only candidates who will be permitted to be run have to be approved a "nominating committee" completely controlled by Beijing. China's hand-picked Hong Kong leader, Leung Chun-ying, announced that there was no chance whatsoever that Beijing would yield on this. ( "22-Oct-14 World View -- Hong Kong leader suggests that the poor shouldn't be allowed to vote")

Now, almost two years later, China's state leader Zhang Dejiang is making an "inspection visit" to make sure that everyone understands that Beijing has not softened its position:

"'One country, two systems' has ... won wide recognition in the international community. This did not come easily, and deserves pride and protection.

It should be respected that Hong Kong compatriots treasure their lifestyle and values – in fact, the substance of the One Country, Two Systems principle was to preserve Hong Kong’s original socioeconomic system and lifestyle.

Now an extreme small minority have rejected the country, rejected the Central Government, and even put forward for Hong Kong independence – this is not an issue of localism, but an issue of using the name of localism to separate the country. Is that violating the original intention of One Country, Two Systems? Is this good or bad for Hong Kong? I believe Hong Kong people have their answers in mind."

Zhang added that he would like to listen opinions and suggestions from people from all walks of life. Hong Kong Free Press and South China Morning Post and Xinhua

Hong Kong's history and culture make it very different from China

The heart of Hong Kong resembled an armed camp yesterday as thousands of police officers were deployed around the convention center where Zhang was speaking. At the convention center, barricades filled with water were set up to keep protesters at least 100 feet away. Construction sites were halted, trash bins were removed and paving stones were glued together, to keep them from being tossed at police during a riot in February of this year.

Culturally, Hong Kong is closer to the West than it is to China. Hong Kong was governed by Britain from 1857 until it was handed over to China in 1997. Throughout this 140 year period, Hong Kong served as a refuge, an escape from mainland China.

Hong Kong served as a refuge for exiles from China following the establishment of the Chinese Republic in 1912. After Japan seized Manchuria in 1932 and the Sino-Japanese war broke out in 1938, China turned to Britain, with Hong Kong as an intermediary, for help and supplies. As Japan advanced into China in World War II, hundreds of thousands of Chinese took refuge in Hong Kong.

China had a massive, bloody civil war starting in 1934, which was interrupted by World War II and resumed afterwards. Mao Zedong's Communist Revolution didn't end until 1949, but then the defeated "Nationalist" forces under Chiang Kai-shek fled to Hong Kong, and from there to Formosa, which became part of Taiwan.

So Hong Kong and Taiwan have cultural and historical links with each other. Anti-Beijing protests and riots in one are likely to spur anti-Beijing protests and riots in the other.

A sign of the cultural contrasts is the differences in language. On mainland China, the official language is Mandarin Chinese. The language of the people of Hong Kong is Cantonese, which is the language of the indigenous Cantonese people in Hong Kong and eastern parts of the mainland. The languages of Taiwan, including Min Nan and Hakka, are also indigenous languages.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, China is headed not only for internal wars with Hong Kong and Taiwan, but also external wars with the United States and other countries.

As I've been writing since 2005 ("China approaches Civil War"), China is headed for a new civil war, refighting many of the previous local rebellions, including the huge White Lotus rebellion in the 1790s and 1800s decade, the Taiping Rebellion in the 1850s and 60s that killed 15% of the population, and Mao's Long March that launched the civil war between Mao and Chiang Kai-shek in the 1930s and 40s killed tens of millions.

At the same time, China is headed for war with its ancient external enemies, Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan, as well as the United States. These two wars -- the civil wars and the external wars -- will occur simultaneously, as happened in World War II. In fact, the Chinese Communist Party, which is the most paranoid organization in the world, will blame any internal unrest on outside agitators, and may use that as an excuse to launch an external war, in the hope of unifying the country, and attempting to insure its own survival at all costs. Quartz and Today Online (Singapore) and Bloomberg and AP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-May-16 World View -- Chinese official slams Hong Kong independence during 'inspection visit' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-May-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

18-May-16 World View -- Venezuela's Maduro accuses US of planning an imminent invasion

Syria peace talks in Vienna collapse in farce - again

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Venezuela's Maduro accuses US of planning an imminent invasion


Nicolás Maduro on Tuesday (AP)
Nicolás Maduro on Tuesday (AP)

Venezuela's president Nicolás Maduro on Tuesday renewed his accusation that the collapse of the country's economy is being caused by United States sabotage. ( "15-May-16 World View -- Venezuela economy close to collapse as Maduro orders jailing of factory owners")

And he accused the United States of planning an imminent invasions because, he claimed, two American military surveillance planes had illegally entered Venezuelan airspace last week.

According to Maduro on Tuesday:

"Our military aviation detected the illegal entry, for unusual espionage tasks, of the Boeing 707 E-3 Sentry, which is an airborne early warning control center system that has all the mechanisms for espionage. ...

Washington conducts these tasks to support communications of armed groups in war zones or to prepare actions to disable electronic equipment of the government, the armed forces or the economy."

Maduro has decreed a state of emergency, giving himself additional powers that will permit the use of violence and arrests against opposition protests.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles told his followers to ignore the decree, said that the army has to make a choice:

"We, Venezuelans, will not accept this decree. This is Maduro putting himself above the constitution. To impose this, he'd better start preparing to deploy the war tanks and military jets.

And I tell the armed forces: The hour of truth is coming, to decide whether you are with the constitution or with Maduro."

Capriles called on its supporters to take to the streets again Wednesday. BBC and TeleSurTV (Caracas) and Deutsche Welle

Syria peace talks in Vienna collapse in farce - again

Every month, the Syria peace talks start up, then collapse a few days later. Then they would be restarted, and the cycle repeats. I've reported on several rounds of this just in the last few months.

So it's not surprising that the latest round of peace talks has collapsed, but this time the impasse is a lot worse since they didn't even bother to schedule a new date for the peace talks to restart, as they've always done in the past.

The UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said that Syria might return to full scale war unless the peace talks could resume, and added some political bromides:

"We need to bear in mind that credible intra-Syrian talks will become credible when [...] there is a credible development on the cessation of hostilities and a credible improvement on the humanitarian side."

In other words, there couldn't be any peace talks between the Syrian regime and the opposition as long as they were still shooting at each other.

US Secretary of State John Kerry as usual made a statement that sounded like an SNL skit:

"The challenge that we face now is to transform these possibilities into the reality of an agreement at some point. And because of the gains that we've made in recent months, yet because of their fragility, and we acknowledge they're fragile, and increasingly threatened by irresponsible and dangerous actions taken by those who would rather have this effort fail, who want to create problems, cause rather than solutions, they see a different outcome, and there are frankly actors on both side."

Kerry referred to "those who would rather have this effort fail," and that includes pretty much everyone, though for different reasons:

So it's not surprising that the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), which was meeting in Vienna and which comprises the United States, Russia, the UN, the Arab League, the European Union, and 16 countries, announced on Tuesday that they had, once again, failed to reach any agreement to bring peace to Syria. The whole thing is an international farce.

People always criticize me when I call al-Assad a genocidal monster, but he's clearly comparable to Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong and Stalin from the last century. There is no mass weapon of destruction, nor any gruesome form of torture, that he won't use to satisfy his psychopathy.

Al-Assad is the lynchpin and the engine behind the Syrian war. It would never have started without him, and would have ended quickly if he had let it, or if he hadn't been supported by Russia and Iran. Thanks to his policy of exterminating Sunni civilians, tens of thousands of young jihadists have come from around the world to Syria to fight him. This has resulted in the creation of ISIS, and it's resulted in millions of refugees flooding neighboring countries, including countries in Europe.

I've written thousands of Generational Dynamics analyses since 2003, which is the year that the current generational Crisis era began, and although the types of behavior we're seeing were all predictable and were all predicted, it's incredible to see them being played out on the world stage. The world is changing rapidly, as we're seeing people, especially young people, support Socialism, racism, and xenophobia in country after country exactly like the 1930s. These young people have no knowledge of history and the massive disasters caused by the Socialism or racism or the Holocaust, and are not even fazed as we see Socialist Venezuela collapse right before our very eyes.

In 2013, when Hugo Chávez died, Hollywood liberals Sean Penn, Michael Moore and Oliver Stone were effusive in their praise, but we haven't been hearing from them lately. Also, Britain's new ultra-left Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted:

"Thanks Hugo Chavez for showing that the poor matter and wealth can be shared. He made massive contributions to Venezuela & a very wide world"

The pathological stupidity of these people is amazing.

Meanwhile, the incredible geopolitical destruction being perpetrated by Bashar al-Assad is not only tolerated, but is praised by Russia, Iran and other acolytes. As I've said before, what's happening today is beyond belief to me, as if I'm watching a bad movie but I can't leave the movie theatre. But it's increasingly obvious to me what caused World War II, and that exactly the same things are happening today. United Nations and AFP and Washington Times and Twitter

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-May-16 World View -- Venezuela's Maduro accuses US of planning an imminent invasion thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-May-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

17-May-16 World View -- Western nations agree to lift arms embargo on Libya to fight ISIS

ISIS continues to grow in Libya in size and effectiveness

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Western nations agree to lift arms embargo on Libya to fight ISIS


ISIS in Libya
ISIS in Libya

The headline on this article seems a bit perverse, doesn't it. How is lifting the arms embargo on Libya going to fight ISIS? A lot of people are wondering exactly that.

On Monday, officials from 25 countries in Europe and the Middle East met in Vienna, in a meeting jointly chaired by the U.S. and Italy, to discuss what to do about the rapid growth of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) in Libya. The decision was to supply arms to Libya's "unity government," the Government of National Accord (GNA), which is backed by the United Nations.

Despite the continuing growth of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) in Libya, and the danger that this represents not only to northern Africa but also to Europe, Western powers are unable to agree on a form of military action that will destroy ISIS or even stop its growth. As we reported in January, Western countries felt that it was urgent to mount a military action in Libya by the beginning of March. ( "6-Jan-16 World View -- US, Britain, France preparing new Libya military offensive early in 2016")

However Italy, Libya's former colonial power, has always insisted that Libya's government had to approve any Western military action before it could occur. That's been a continuing problem, since there are two major governments in Libya, one in Tripoli in charge of western Libya and one in Tobruk in charge of eastern Libya. There are also nearly 2,000 militias running different parts of Libya.

The United Nations approved Government of National Accord (GNA) has received some level of approval from the government in Tripoli, but little from the government in Tobruk. The GNA controls only a fraction of Libya, and only a fraction of the militias.

The result is that Italy has decided that it's too early to send in troops. Italy's defense minister Roberta Pinotti says, "The first step to stabilize Libya is having a government that can represent the different parts, and can thus take the necessary step to make a request to the international community."

Reports in March seemed to suggest that Italy might send up to 5,000 troops. By late April, that number was said to be closer to 900. But now, Italy will not even contribute troops to a peacekeeping force, and reports indicate that the U.N. Support Mission in Libya (UNSML) would instead be bolstered by Nepalese troops instead.

Monday's decision to lift the arms embargo in Libya has been derided by some analysts as "kicking the can down the road." First, Libya is already awash in weapons that were left behind in weapons stores previously owned by Muammar Gaddafi before he was overthrown. Second, the government in Tobruk has been receiving weapons allies, and so has gotten around the embargo. Third, lifting the arms embargo may end up benefitting ISIS, by making it easier for them to import arms.

The bottom line is that Western nations can only watch as ISIS becomes larger and more powerful in Libya. Western leaders and Western publics have little appetite for any military intervention in Libya, and so it will probably take some major crisis event to change things. BBC and Washington Post and Guardian (London) and Washington Post

ISIS continues to grow in Libya in size and effectiveness

The ISIS stronghold in Libya is in Sirte, from which it controls a strip of more than 250 km (155 miles) of Libya’s central coastline, from which it has launched attacks to the east, west and south. ISIS forces last week launched a surprise attack on local militias, enabling it to capture several towns southwest of Sirte, increasing the area it controls.

There are signs of increased cooperation between Boko Haram in Nigeria and ISIS in Libya. Both Boko Haram and ISIS have become increasingly effective with time, and analysts are now concerned that the ties between the two terrorist organizations could herald a push south into the vast, lawless Sahel region and create a springboard for wider attacks.

ISIS has also been stepping up attacks on neighboring Tunisia from its strongholds in Libya, where it has set up training camps. In March, ISIS launched a major assault on the town of Ben Guerdane in Tunisia, on the border with Libya. More than 4,000 Tunisians are thought to have left to fight for ISIS and other militant groups in Iraq and Syria. Some are returning to join ISIS in Libya, threatening more attacks on Tunisia.

Last week, the United States said it would give jeeps, communications technology and small aircraft to Tunisia to help protect the border with Libya. The US is already striking training camps in Libya to protect Tunisia. ( "20-Feb-16 World View -- US warplanes strike suspected ISIS training base in Libya")

Concerns are also growing because of the EU-Turkey migrant deal, which has reduced the flow of migrants from Turkey into Greece. The flow of migrants from Syria and Iraq has been irrepressible, and reports indicate that human traffickers are planning to use different routes. It's possible that there may be hundreds of thousands of migrants crossing from Libya to Europe this summer. Many of the human traffickers in Libya are part of ISIS, and the surge in migrants will pour a lot of money into ISIS coffers. Telegraph (London) and Asharq Al-Awsat (London) and Reuters and Business Insider

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-May-16 World View -- Western nations agree to lift arms embargo on Libya to fight ISIS thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-May-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

16-May-16 World View -- China says Pentagon report on China military 'severely damages' relations

Pentagon documents massive China buildup, but omits 'Maritime Militia'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China says Pentagon report on China military 'severely damages' relations


Chinese vessel in South China Sea (Reuters)
Chinese vessel in South China Sea (Reuters)

China on Friday accused the Pentagon of "sensationalizing" China's military buildup in the South China Sea, claiming that China has "the legitimate right to deploy military facilities on its own islands in the South China Sea." The problem with this claim is that China is using its vast military power to annex regions of the South China Sea that have historically belonged to other countries, including Vietnam and the Philippines.

China always says that its claims "are indisputable," and this much at least is a total lie since the claims are very much in dispute, and are currently being adjudicated by a United Nations international court in the Hague, which is expected to rule on counterclaims by the Philippines very soon, possibly by the end of May.

Friday's Pentagon report documents a massive buildup in the size, sophistication and power of China's military, including the the South China Sea. The Chinese response is essentially to call the Americans war-mongers, for documenting China's military buildup, and for freedom of navigation patrols in the South China Sea.

Statements by Chinese officials include the following:

"There’s no difference between China’s deployment of defense facilities on its own territory and the defense installation by the US in Hawaii. ...

We don’t hope to see militarized close-in reconnaissance by the US military. Nor do we want to see more missile destroyers or strategic fighters coming to this region. This is what all sides need to take for a responsible behavior on demilitarization. ...

The US has increasingly dispatched military vessels and aircraft to the adjacent waters and airspace of China’s islands in the South China Sea. It has engaged in highly targeted military exercises and joint patrols. The US is turning a blind eye to its own militarization and has made irresponsible accusations about China. This is a typical double standard. ...

Recent actions by the US have severely damaged mutual trust between the two sides, and violates the consensus reached by two sides. We urge the US to take concrete measures to remove obstacles for healthy development."

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has repeatedly said that "The United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, as we do all around the world."

These freedom of navigation patrols are infuriating the Chinese. In China's Alice in Wonderland world, freedom of navigation patrols are the biggest military actions, not building several massive military bases in the South China Sea on top of artificial islands. Dept. of Defense - China military report and China TV and Defense News

Pentagon documents massive China buildup, but omits 'Maritime Militia'

Friday's Pentagon report documents a massive buildup in the size, sophistication and power of China's military, in a way that indicates that the situation has changed in a significant way. In the past, Americans have soothed themselves by saying that despite China's buildup, and their obvious preparations for a first strike military attack on the United States, America's military is still capable of fending off a pre-emptive Chinese attack.

However, the tone of the report suggests that China's military buildup is just about at a tipping point, where it could overwhelm American defense forces. This had to happen sometime, as America's military has been cutting back and China's has been building up. At some point, China's military had to surpass America's and the tone of the report suggests that that time is now or very soon.

Here are some highlights:

However, the Pentagon reports omits discussion of a major portion of China's naval military capabilities: The "Maritime Militia." This is a secret force of fishing vessels that patrol the South China Sea and act as a guerrilla force under civilian cover, occupying and helping to build disputed islands. National Interest and Reuters and Australian Broadcasting and International Business Times (Singapore)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-May-16 World View -- China says Pentagon report on China military 'severely damages' relations thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-May-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

15-May-16 World View -- Venezuela economy close to collapse as Maduro orders jailing of factory owners

Maduro recalls Brazil ambassador over Dilma Rousseff 'coup'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Venezuela's socialist economy close to a crash


An injured man lies next to national guard members during a demonstration in Caracas, Venezuela on Wednesday (AFP)
An injured man lies next to national guard members during a demonstration in Caracas, Venezuela on Wednesday (AFP)

Pity the poor Venezuelan citizen who enjoyed years of free Socialist giveaways under president Hugo Chávez and more recently president Nicolás Maduro, and now has to pay for it all, as Chávez's Socialist paradise faces financial disaster.

The inflation rate in 2015 was 275%, the highest in the world, and it's continued to surge. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that it will reach 720% in 2016, and over 2200% in 2017.

Maduro's government is drenched in corruption, with officials not giving a s--t about anyone but themselves. Common staples are in scarce supply, and citizens have to stand in line to get milk, rice, flour, ketchup, diapers, and toilet paper. Crime and violence are becoming rampant. And the fall into hell has been rapid -- 75% of Venezuelan homes now live in poverty, compared to 27% just two years ago.

New indignities keep getting piled on, one after the other:

Oh, wait. Maduro has found a solution. He's ordered a 30% increase in the minimum wage. Increasing the minimum wage 30% is sure to cause even greater super-inflation and even deeper shortages, but logic never stops a Socialist loon.

Maduro's opposition have collected two million signatures on a petition to force a recall vote that would remove Maduro from power, but Maduro has control of the courts and all national agencies. One of those agencies that Maduro controls is the National Electoral Board (CNE) which supposed to have certified the signatures a week ago, but under Maduro's orders they're stalling.

Opposition leader and former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles said on Saturday that if Maduro blocks the recall referendum, then the country "can explode at any given moment."

Maduro has announced that's calling out the army for military drills starting on Saturday, to protect the country from "foreign aggression," meaning the United States. Since the United States has no plans to invade Venezuela, it's more likely that Maduro will use the military to attack protestors violently, which is what Socialists always do to stay in power. Miami Herald and Reuters (11-Apr) and VOA (2-May) and Bloomberg (27-Apr) and VOA (1-May)

Maduro orders jailing of owners of closed factories

As we mentioned above, the country's largest producer of beer has closed down the last of its four domestic breweries, for lack of the imported malted barley needed as the principal ingredient. Cerveceria Polar, the manufacturer, is blaming the problem on Venezuela's government for not giving the company the dollars it needs to import supplies.

Venezuelan citizens are only allowed to have inflation-bloated and increasingly worthless currency, the Bolivar. Dollars are tightly controlled by the government, and have been in particularly short supply since the price of oil crashed over the last two years. Cerveceria Polar and other manufacturing firms have been forced to close their doors because they couldn't import the goods they needed.

Like all good Socialists, president Maduro has a ready solution.

On Friday, Maduro declared a full-scale state of emergency. If a factory has closed because they were unable to import what they need to make their products, then Maduro will have the factory seized and the factory owner jailed.

According to Maduro, the country is facing an "economic war," led by the United States. BBC and Fox News and USA Today (8-May)

Maduro recalls Brazil ambassador over Dilma Rousseff 'coup'

Venezuela's president Nicolás Maduro recalled his ambassador to Brazil, Alberto Castelar, following a vote by Brazil's parliament to suspend president Dilma Rousseff from office and subject her to an impeachment trial on charges of corruption. The debate in Brazil that preceded the vote lasted for days, and resulted in wild protests and fury from both opponents and supporters of Rousseff. Rousseff claims that the corruption charges are bogus, and many people agree, saying that Rousseff's real problem is that her left-wing policies have brought the country to near ruin, though not yet as bad off as Venezuela.

Maduro claims that the impeachment vote was actually a palace coup against a democratically elected left-wing government. With Maduro himself facing a recall petition in Venezuela, he has become an ally of Rousseff.

There have been a string of coups and attempted coups against mostly left-wing Latin American leaders in the last decade.

In 2004, there was a coup against Haiti's president Jean-Bertrand Aristide; in 2008, widespread violence left dozens dead as opposition groups sought to oust President Evo Morales; in the early hours of June 28, 2009, the Honduran military kidnapped President Manuel Zelaya and flew him to Costa Rica; on September 30, 2010, the police and military kidnapped Ecuador's president Rafael Correa, who eventually escaped; in June 2012, Peru's left-wing president Fernando Lugo was impeached and removed from office.

Rousseff is just the latest in this string of "coups." Next in line is Maduro, unless he completely destroys the democratic process by ordering the army to use violence against his political enemies. Reuters and TeleSur TV (Caracas)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-May-16 World View -- Venezuela economy close to collapse as Maduro orders jailing of factory owners thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-May-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

14-May-16 World View -- Syria's Aleppo campaign falters after disastrous Iranian loss at Khan Tuman

Hezbollah suffers blow in death of top commander Mustafa Amine Badreddine

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Hezbollah suffers blow in death of top commander Mustafa Amine Badreddine


A neighborhood of Aleppo Syria, after being targeted by Syrian regime airstrikes (AFP)
A neighborhood of Aleppo Syria, after being targeted by Syrian regime airstrikes (AFP)

Thousands of people on Friday attended the funeral in Beirut, Lebanon, of Hezbollah's top military commander Mustafa Amine Badreddine, who was leading Hezbollah's forces in the war in Syria. The death of Badreddine is a huge embarrassment to the terrorist group Hezbollah and to Hezbollah's puppetmasters in Iran. Iranian officials immediately claimed that Badreddine was killed by a "huge blast" in Damascus, the capital city of Syria, and that the blast was caused by an Israeli air strike. However, Iran quickly backed down from that claim, since after all that claim would be even more embarrassing to Hezbollah and Iran than the truth.

The truth is that Badreddine was killed a week ago while leading Hezbollah and Iranian forces in Khan Tuman in Iran's disastrous battle of Aleppo. It's believed that he was killed in battle, although there are unconfirmed conspiracy claims that either the Syrian regime or Israel had something to do with his death.

Hezbollah praised the "Martyr Badreddine": In 1982, he formed jihadist groups to confront the Zionist entity. After becoming commander in 1992, he prepared many heroic operations against the Israeli occupation. With the inception of Syrian crisis in 2011, the martyr was one of the first commanders who confronted the takfiri plot across Syria, according to Hezbollah.

Badreddine's death brings to an end a long manhunt by Israeli and Western intelligence services for the guerrilla leader who has managed to remain in the shadows while taking part in assassinations and military operations. Independent (London) and AEI Iran Tracker (13-May) and Al Manar (Hezbollah)

Iran suffers disastrous losses in battle of Khan Tuman

All last year, until Russia actively entered the war in Syria, we were reporting that Syria's army was losing one city after another to the opponents of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. ( "5-Jun-2015 World View -- With Syria's army nearing collapse, Iran plans massive troop deployment")

A major objective of Russia's entry into the war was the recapture of Aleppo from opposition forces. For the past few months, there have been massive forces -- combining forces from Syria's regime army, Hezbollah, and Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) -- focused on the recapture of Aleppo. ( "19-Feb-16 World View -- Russia's attacks on civilian hospitals in Aleppo follow the 'Grozny model'")

On May 6, IRGC forces were caught by surprise by an attack on Khan Tuman, south of Aleppo, by anti-Assad forces, killing and capturing about two dozen IRGC fighters, at a time when there was supposed to be a cease-fire in progress. This is the same battle in which Hezbollah's top military commander Mustafa Amine Badreddine was killed.

Former commander of the 1980s Iran-Iraq War, retired general Mohsen Rezaei, was brought out of retirement, possibly to provide guidance to the IRGC forces in Aleppo. He said:

"Some months ago Khan Tuman in south Aleppo was freed, but a few days ago, takfiris, taking advantage of a cease-fire at a time neither a plane nor artillery was active, surprise attacked Syrian forces and Iranian advisers.

[Expressing anger and dismay over the IRGC losses:] Their martyrdom shall not remain unavenged. We will liberate Aleppo soon and wipe out the takfiri terrorists."

IRGC major-general Qassem Soleimani was also dispatched to the region to provide moral support.

The loss of several dozen IRGC fighters is not a significant loss militarily, but it has big symbolic significance. It's the first major setback for the IRGC forces in Aleppo. Other IRGC forces have suffered losses in other places in Syria, though not at this level. The strategic logic of Iran’s mission in Syria will likely drive the IRGC toward greater escalation in response to this setback. The Guard will want to avenge this defeat, moreover, and re-establish its credibility in the fight around Aleppo, which remains a strategically important prize for the Assad regime. Al-Monitor and Asharq Al-Awsat (London) and AEI Iran Tracker (12-May)

Offensive to recapture Aleppo may be near collapse

I like to reference Debka's newsletter because it contains valuable insights into what's going on, but it's written from Israel's point of view, and sometimes gets things wrong. This week's subscriber-only newsletter (sent to me by a subscriber) contains an analysis of the battle to recapture Aleppo, and says that it's being stymied because of conflicting objectives among the three armies -- Russia, Iran and Syria.

After the loss of Khan Tuman and the deaths of IRGC fighters, Syria's president Bashar al-Assad demanded that Iran send more forces to Aleppo to defeat the rebels. Iran refused the request, and just sent IRGC major-general Qassem Soleimani to raise the morale of Iranian and Hezbollah forces, as previously described above.

According to Debka, al-Assad does not want to deploy his own army forces to Aleppo, because he wants to keep them close by in Damascus and Latakia to defend his own regime, even if it means losing Aleppo. This has inevitably infuriated both Iran and Russia, whose troops wonder why they're fighting someone else's battle. Russia in particular has no use for al-Assad except as a way of keeping control of Syria.

Russia's forces entered the Syrian war actively last year to save al-Assad from losing the war. It may be that al-Assad will lose the war anyway. Debka

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-May-16 World View -- Syria's Aleppo campaign falters after disastrous Iranian loss at Khan Tuman thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-May-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

13-May-16 World View -- EU-Turkey migrant deal unravels over brinksmanship on both sides

Italy rescues 800 migrants from Mediterranean Sea, many of them from Syria

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

EU-Turkey migrant deal unravels over brinksmanship on both sides


Italy's coast guard rescued over 800 migrants from the Mediterranean Sea on one day, Thursday (Reuters)
Italy's coast guard rescued over 800 migrants from the Mediterranean Sea on one day, Thursday (Reuters)

Both Turkey and the European Union are issuing ultimatums.

Turkey is demanding that the EU honor its agreement to allow all Turkish citizens to have visa-free travel throughout Europe's Schengen Zone. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and former prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu have been said repeatedly, since March 20 when the EU-Turkey migrant deal was signed, that the EU must fulfill its pledge to permit visa-free travel by Turkish citizens by June, or else Turkey would cancel the deal and allow floods of migrants to resume flooding across the Aegean Sea to Greece.

The EU is demanding that Turkey must bring its anti-terrorism laws into line with European standards. Turkey's anti-terrorism laws are so broad that they criminalize almost any kind of political dissent, and are used to arrest journalists and academics critical of government policies. They were used as justification for the seizure of the country's largest newspaper, Today's Zaman, because it criticized Erdogan's policies. ( "6-Mar-16 World View -- Turkey's 'shameful day for free press' as government seizes Zaman media")

Changing the anti-terrorism laws was one of the terms of the agreement that the European Union negotiated with Turkey's prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu. There were 72 conditions that Turkey would have to meet before the visa-free travel could be implemented. Almost all of them have been met, but the anti-terrorism change has not. Erdogan was infuriated that Davutoglu made this concession, and fired him last, saying that Turkey could not and would not change its terrorism laws while it is being receiving terror attacks from both the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). ( "7-May-16 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan threatens EU: 'We'll go our own way, you go yours!'")

Turkish officials point out that Turkey is currently hosting the largest number of Syrian refugees in the world with 2.7 million, and has spent more than 7 billion euros meeting their needs. Erdogan says that the EU has a much smaller refugee problem and a much smaller terrorism problem, and that EU officials are hypocritical for criticizing Turkey.

With positioning hardening on both sides, people are looking for a face-saving agreement. Otherwise, the EU-Turkey deal is going to fall apart. Irish Times and Daily Sabah (Ankara) and Hurriyet (Ankara)

More refugees now reaching Europe via Italy than via Greece

For the first time since April 2015, more refugees arrived in Italy by crossing the Mediterranean from Libya than arrived in Greece by crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey.

The change wsa mostly due to a slowdown of migrants arriving in Greece since the EU-Turkey migrant deal.

In March, 26,971 people arrived in Greece, while 9,676 arrived in Italy.

In April, after the deal 3,462 people arrived in Greece, while 9,149 migrants arrived in Italy.

Migrants arriving in Greece come from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Asylum seekers making their way through the Mediterranean are primarily from Nigeria, Gambia, Somalia and other Sub-Saharan African nations. EU Observer and Bloomberg

Italy rescues 800 migrants from Mediterranean Sea, many of them from Syria

There are signs in the last few days that a new wave of refugees from Syria have shifted traveling through Turkey to Greece via the Aegean Sea to a new route from Libya to Italy via the Mediterranean Sea.

The Italian coast guard says that it rescued more than 800 migrants off the coast of Sicily in one day alone, Thursday, and that at least 150 of them were Syrian, and 40 were from Iraq.

Authorities had feared that with the closing of the "Balkan Route" for refugees crossing the Aegean Sea to Greece, people smugglers would begin redirecting refugees to Libya, to cross to Italy. Typically, the people smugglers put hundreds of migrants into a single large rubber dinghy, and give the migrants enough fuel to leave Libyan waters and a cell phone to use to call the Italian coast guard.

Fearing a flood of migrants crossing Brenner Pass from Italy to Austria, Austria is building a fence on the common border. ( "28-Apr-16 World View -- Austria votes to close border with Italy to slow refugees") Austria's plan has received widespread condemnation from human rights groups and many EU officials. Reuters and AFP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-May-16 World View -- EU-Turkey migrant deal unravels over brinksmanship on both sides thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-May-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

12-May-16 World View -- England threatened with IRA terrorists from Northern Ireland

The 'New IRA' recalls the 1916 Easter Rising against British rule

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

England threatened with IRA terrorists from Northern Ireland


A New IRA parade commemorating the Easter Rising of 1916 (Barcroft)
A New IRA parade commemorating the Easter Rising of 1916 (Barcroft)

England, Scotland and Wales were put on high alert on Wednesday by possibly imminent threats from the "New IRA" (Irish Republican Army). According to Home Secretary Theresa May:

"The Security Service, MI5, has increased the threat level to Great Britain from Northern Ireland-related terrorism from moderate to substantial.

This means that a terrorist attack is a strong possibility and reflects the continuing threat from dissident republican activity.

As a result of this change, we are working closely with the police and other relevant authorities to ensure appropriate security measures are in place."

The increase in the perceived risk to Great Britain from Northern Irish terrorism from "moderate" to "substantial" was caused by a fresh assessment leading to concerns about the increasing capabilities of the dissident groups and their growing desire to attack the mainland. With this rating, a terror attack is considered "a strong possibility," which is not at the level of "highly likely" if the threat level had been raised all the way up to "severe." BBC and Belfast Telegraph (30-Apr) and Daily Mail (London)

The 'New IRA' recalls the 1916 Easter Rising against British rule

On Easter Sunday, March 27 of this year, thousands of soldiers marched through Dublin to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, which was an Irish insurgency against the government of the United Kingdom. That was just one of the many clashes between the Irish and the English over the centuries.

Northern Ireland terrorism has been out of the news lately, because of concerns over jihadist terrorism. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, all religious and ethnic groups have the potential for terrorism at different times. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, there is little significant difference between terrorism by Catholic drug cartels in Mexico, ethnic terrorism by Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland, and Islamist terrorism, with the similarities more significant than the differences. However, at this point in time, terrorism related to Syria is considered to be the greatest terror threat.

Violent paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland has resulted in 1,100 bombings and shootings over the past 10 years, along with almost 800 so-called punishment attacks and 4,000 cases of people being forced out of their homes. There are still thousands of people associated with paramilitary groups responsible for acts of violence and intimidation. Last week, police arrested 14 people in Northern Ireland after the funeral of of Michael 'Mickey' Barr, a "New IRA" member who was gunned down for being a dissident republican.

The violence in Northern Ireland is usually portrayed as religious in nature, where Catholics fight against Protestants.

But from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, it can be called an ethnic conflict between indigenous Gaelic Irish people (usually Catholic, republican, nationalist) versus descendants of invading English and Scottish people (usually Protestant, loyalist, unionist). As is often the case, religion is not the "cause" of this conflict, but is a tool used by the factions to rally supporters.

Generally speaking, the objective of the republicans is to unify the Republic of Ireland (southern Ireland) with Northern Ireland into a single republic, while the unionists (loyalists) want Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom.

As I described in detail in "23-Jun-2011 News -- Sectarian violence in Northern Ireland grows again", the English and the Gaelics have been fighting generational crisis wars regularly since the 1400s. The most important was the Nine Years War (1594-1603), where the Irish Gaelics attempted to overthrow English rule. The result was the Plantation of Ulster, which Gaelics today refer to as "ethnic cleansing," because the British drove the Gaelics from their land, took it over as landlords, and used the Gaelics as servants.

Those feelings are as strong as ever today among the many of the Irish republicans. That's why, on Easter of this year, the "New IRA" warned:

"The volunteer soldiers of the IRA are ready and determined to take the war to the age old enemy of our nation."

AP and Telegraph (London) and Guardian (London, 29-Mar)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-May-16 World View -- England threatened with IRA terrorists from Northern Ireland thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-May-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

11-May-16 World View -- Azerbaijan and Dagestan celebrate culture as Islamist insurgencies grow

Nagorno-Karabakh issue still simmers

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Azerbaijan celebrates the 'Days of Culture of Dagestan'


Flame Towers -- skyscrapers in Baku, Azerbaijan
Flame Towers -- skyscrapers in Baku, Azerbaijan

Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan, will host the Days of Culture of Dagestan on May 12-13. The event will feature a concert of Dagestani singers, dancers and musicians, and an exhibition of arts and crafts entitled "Dagestan: History and Modernity". "Lezginka" Academic Dance Ensemble, "Khasavyurt" State Dance Ensemble and soloists will perform in the concert. An assortment of business deals will be signed.

The singing and dancing and jolly atmosphere hides a great deal of tension that both sides would like to ignore.

Dagestan is not an independent country. It's in the North Caucasus, and is one of Russia's southern provinces, and opposite its southern border is Azerbaijan. As with all of Russia's Caucasian provinces, it's populated mostly by Sunni Muslims, many of whom have gone to Syria to fight against the Shia/Alawite army of Bashar al-Assad, often joining the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

Although a political border separates Dagestan from Azerbaijan, the ethnic groups that have lived in the region for centuries don't always follow the political boundaries. AzerTag (Baku) and Azerbaijan News

Azerbaijan and Dagestan share Sunni Salafist insurgencies

Azerbaijan's population is about 80% Shia Muslim, 15% Sunni Muslim and 3% Christian. The government is secular. As I wrote in "7-Dec-2015 World View -- Azerbaijan faces rising radical Shia Islamist insurgency", Azerbaijan is in the unfortunate situation that it suffers from both a radical Shia Islamist insurgency, and also a radical Sunni Islamist insurgency. The latter is occurring mostly in the north, along the border with Dagestan, where poverty is extensive corruption is widespread, the government is increasingly oppressive, and the gap between rich and poor is growing wider every day.

It's estimated that of 1,500 people from Azerbaijan who have gone to Syria to fight with ISIS are from Sunni groups in the north, on the border with Dagestan. As in Russia and Central Asia, Azerbaijan officials are worried that people who have gone to Syria to join ISIS will return to their homelands to use their newly acquired terrorist skills. Jamestown and Ahlul Bayt News Agency (Iran state media)

Nagorno-Karabakh issue still simmers

Nagorno-Karabakh is an enclave of Armenian citizens in the midst of Azerbaijan. Depending on whose side you're on, NK is either legitimately Armenian territory or else an illegal occupation of Azerbaijan territory by Armenian forces.

Armenia and Azerbaijan got along pretty well during the days when they were both part of the Soviet Union, but they fell into a bloody war after the Soviet Union fell apart in 1991. By the time that the war ended in a cease-fire in 1994, the Armenians had annexed several Azerbaijani regions, including Nagorno-Karabakh.

Low-level violence has been almost continuous since then, with each side typically accusing the other of hundreds of cease-fire violations every week.

However, early in April the low-level conflict spiraled into the worse violence since 1994, with tanks, heavy artillery and helicopters. ( "3-Apr-16 World View -- Armenia-Azerbaijan escalating conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh threatens the entire region")

A new cease-fire was agreed a few days later, with a return to low-level violence, but no one doubts that the region could explode once more, affecting the entire region.

Russia claims to be neutral between the two sides, but few doubt that Russia strongly supports Armenia. On the other hand, Azerbaijan has a Turkic population and is closely allied with Turkey. Thus, an escalation in war between Armenia and Azerbaijan could quickly escalate into a war between Russia and Turkey.

The Armenian government has recently approved a draft bill recognizing the Nagorno-Karabakh region's independence and sent it to the country's parliament. If it becomes law, it might be considered a casus belli by Azerbaijan. For that reason, it's thought that the independence motion is for domestic consumption in Armenia, and there are no plans to push it forward. Moscow Times and Trend (Baku) and ArmenPress (Yerevan)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-May-16 World View -- Azerbaijan and Dagestan celebrate culture as Islamist insurgencies grow thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-May-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

10-May-16 World View -- Arab countries seek to overturn the century old Sykes-Picot agreement

For Palestine, Sykes-Picot and Balfour Declaration left a 'savage legacy'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Arab countries seek to overturn the century old Sykes-Picot agreement


The 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement split the Mideast between Britain and France (Jewish Virtual Library)
The 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement split the Mideast between Britain and France (Jewish Virtual Library)

Few American have heard of the Sykes-Picot agreement of May, 1916, although today it's a matter of widespread interest in the Arab world, and is considered to be a piece of Western treachery that has caused untold misery in the Arab world for the last century.

This year is the 100th anniversary of the Sykes-Picot agreement, named after Frenchman Francois Georges-Picot and Briton Mark Sykes. The secret agreement was reached on May 9, 1916, and signed a week later by Britain, France and Tsarist Russia on May 15, 1916. The purpose of the agreement was to split up the remains of the Arab countries after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, which had ruled them for centuries.

During the British fight against the Turkish Ottomans, the British had obtained the help of Arab armies by promising that after the war there would be a truly independent Syrian state that included Palestine, Transjordan, and Lebanon. However, that promise was made in the knowledge that it would be betrayed, because the secret Sykes-Picot agreement described how the region would be split between France and Britain as their respective colonies. The betrayal was exposed when the secret agreement was revealed, and that occurred after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, when Leon Trotsky published the details of the deal in November 1917.

The next betrayal was the Balfour Declaration by the British in 1917, promising the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.

The borders set by Sykes-Picot/Balfour have remained largely intact, with few exceptions. There was the independence of Sudan from Egypt, and then the secession of South Sudan. North and South Yemen were unified, as were the United Arab Emirates (UAE). There were also changes to the Palestinian territories and Palestine, related to the establishment of Israel.

But there are many Arabs, especially Palestinians, who blame Sykes-Picot/Balfour as the source of all their misery. The so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) has specifically said that Sykes-Picot is dead, but other nationalist Arab groups are calling for its abolition, mostly for local political reasons. The Kurds have been leading the calls for an end to Sykes-Picot, and the creation of a Kurdistan state.

In the past two decades, and especially since the "Arab Spring" of 2011, the Arab world has been disintegrating, with wars in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen. Many Arabs blame todays troubles on the Sykes-Picot agreement that was signed a century ago.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, to suggest that the Arab world has disintegrated in the war because of an agreement signed in 1917 is nonsense. The Mideast has been in an almost constant state of war for centuries, and no Western agreement could have either caused or prevented further wars. As I've been writing for years, the entire Mideast is headed for massive sectarian and ethnic wars, and those wars are coming about because of powerful generational forces that no politicians can control.

The Gulf News has done a series of articles on the effects of the Sykes-Picot agreement on different Mideast countries, and those articles are summarized in the sections below. Globe and Mail (Canada) and Sputnik News (Moscow) and Deutsche Welle

Syria: A victim of colonial politics

As the Ottomans were leaving Syria in 1920, the French forces landed on Syria's coast and started marching toward Damascus, with the specific objective of taking control of France's share of the Sykes-Picot agreement. The French crushed the Syrian army, imposed martial rule, and divided Syria into border-free mini-states. Syria's borders with the British Mandate Palestine, the newly-created State of Greater Lebanon, and the newly created emirate of Transjordan were all set by the French.

Syria declared a republic in 1932, and became independent in 1946, when it was a co-founder of both the Arab League and the United Nations.

Egyptian President Jamal Abdul Nasser merged Syria and Egypt in 1958 to form the United Arab Republic (UAR). It lasted only 43 months, and crashed in September 1961. The UAR was an attempt to reshape the borders defined by Sykes-Picot, however it failed and the original borders are still standing. Gulf News (Dubai) and Gulf News

Palestine: Sykes-Picot and Balfour Declaration left a 'savage legacy'

As the Ottoman armies retried, the British, with the help of their Arab allies, conquered Palestine and all of Greater Syria. The British administered Palestine directly until they received a mandate from the League of Nations that ran from 1923 to 1948. At the same time, the British favored the Zionist agenda of creating a protectorate and a government based on "some kind of Council to be established by the Jews."

This was formulated in 1917 by the Balfour Declaration, issued by British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour that, "His Majesty’s government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object." This is considered by the Arabs to be a double-cross, a betrayal of well-documented British promises to seek an Arab government of the territories liberated from the Ottomans.

In the decades that followed, Jewish colonies and Zionist aspirations advanced steadily, culminated in the 1948 Naqba ("Catastrophe"), the creation of the State of Israel, and the bloody crisis war that evicted more than 700,000 Palestinians from their homes. For Arabs, and especially Palestinians, this is the savage legacy of the Sykes-Picot agreement and the Balfour Declaration, causing enormous suffering and misery to the present day. Gulf News (Dubai) and Gulf News

Lebanon: Survived Sykes-Picot largely intact

Lebanon has existed for thousands of years, home of Christians, Muslims, Druze, Maronites, and others. Lebanon came out pretty well in the 1919 Paris Versailles Peace Conference. One reason was sympathy for Lebanon because during the war, an Ottoman embargo lead to a famine in which 200,000 died in Mount Lebanon alone. So Lebanon survived intact, and elected a president in 1926. The French mandate was terminated with independence in 1943. Gulf News (Dubai)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-May-16 World View -- Arab countries seek to overturn the century old Sykes-Picot agreement thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-May-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

9-May-16 World View -- Workers riot as Greece braces for new austerity measures

Bolivia accuses Chile of setting up military base near border

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Workers riot as Greece braces for new austerity measures


Protesters in Greece have hurled petrol bombs at police who responded with tear gas outside the parliament in Athens. (EPA)
Protesters in Greece have hurled petrol bombs at police who responded with tear gas outside the parliament in Athens. (EPA)

Greece's parliament on Sunday voted on a new set of harsh austerity measures that lending institutions are demanding of Greece in order to receive new bailout loans and stave off bankruptcy.

Almost 15,000 people turned out in Athens and Thessaloniki to protest the planned austerity measures. The demonstrations were mostly peaceful, but a small group of anarchist protesters hurled firebombs, Molotov cocktails and other projectiles at police in Syntagma Square in front of Parliament. Police responded with bursts of tear gas to repel the anarchists.

By Sunday, Greece was in the grip of labor strikes that have paralyzed public transport across the country, and shut down other public sector services.

The move to impose the harsh austerity measures is being led by Greece's far-left prime minister Alexis Tsipras, who performed a mind-bending U-turn last year. Tsipras was elected early last year by promising that there would be no more austerity measures. After being elected, he repeatedly lied and promised reforms with no intention of implementing them. After months of one crisis after another, Tsipras final had to agree to implement the harsh austerity measures demanded by Greece's lenders, because European officials were "holding a knife at my neck." Kathimerini and AFP

After six years of real austerity, Greeks are at wits' end

Greece has almost been forgotten, after living with six years of austerity, with 25% unemployment, and having to deal with more than a million refugees reaching the country, receiving little sympathy and no help to speak of. That crisis is far from over, with 50,000 migrants still in Greece, many awaiting the outcome of asylum applications.

A typical story is that of Dimitris, a retired 75-year-old construction worker who has to live on a measly 406 euros ($463) per month, and now even that will be cut. He says,

"I had to help on the farm when I was 5, later I became a truck driver, then a construction worker, and in my later years I was a subcontractor in the building industry. I slaved away my whole life until I had my heart attack. And it was all for nothing!"

If his pension is cut further, Dimitris would be forced to ask for money from his children - who themselves are barely getting by.

But in fact, the austerity measures being voted are reductions in pensions and sharp increases in taxes on gasoline, tobacco, cable television and gambling on Sunday. There may also be an internet tax and a special levy on bank transactions, and value-added tax is to be raised to 24%, too. Deutsche Welle and Kathimerini and Scotsman

Bolivia accuses Chile of setting up military base near border

Bolivia's President Evo Morales accused Chile on Sunday of threatening Bolivia by establishing a military base 15 km (9 miles) from their shared border. He added that international norms prohibited installing military bases less than 50 kilometers (30 miles) from international borders in order to avoid confrontations.

Chile denied the accusation, and said that no such military base exists.

Bolivia and Chile are still in disagreement over the outcome of the War of the Pacific, 1879-83, involving Bolivia, Chile and Peru. As a result of that war, Chile acquired two provinces that had formerly belonged to Bolivia and Peru, respectively. The land acquired from Bolivia was about 120,000 sq km in size, roughly the size of Greece. In addition, Bolivia lost its coastline, and has been landlocked every since. Furthermore, the acquired provinces have turned out to have large copper deposits that have made Chile the world's largest copper producer.

In 2013, Bolivia took Chile to the International Court of Justice in The Hague in the dispute that has been extremely bitter for over a century. Reuters and BBC (24-April-2013) and Library of Congress

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-May-16 World View -- Workers riot as Greece braces for new austerity measures thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-May-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

8-May-16 World View -- Far right and far left clash in Europe over government policies

Hooded anarchists in Italy turn violent on Austrian border

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Tens of thousands in pro-EU anti-government protest in Warsaw Poland


Tens of thousands in anti-government, pro-EU protests in Warsaw, Poland
Tens of thousands in anti-government, pro-EU protests in Warsaw, Poland

45,000 or more protesters gathered in Warsaw, Poland, on Saturday for pro-European Union anti-government demonstrations.

The ruling Law and Justice party came to power in a landslide October election win, and have severely restricted human rights with reforms to the constitutional tribunal, public media, civil service and surveillance laws. These reforms have been criticized by European Union officials as contrary to EU principles of democracy.

Saturday's protests were the biggest in Poland since 1989 and the fall of Communism. In recent years, there have been an increasing number of mass protests in cities across Poland, often with contradictory objectives, as if people wanted to protest just for the sake of protesting. The protests are on both sides of the political spectrum. There have been similar situations in Hungary, Romania, and the Czech Republic.

In Hungary, the divisions are so deep that, according to one observer, the two social camps read different newspapers and use completely different arguments that are oblivious to the perspective of the opposing side. These divides often cut across families, friendships and professional circles. Radio Poland and Visegrad Insight

Thousands of Berlin protesters chant 'No Islam on German soil'

Over 1,000 far-right extremists chanted "Merkel must go" and "No Islam on German soil," and protested the immigration policies of Chancellor Angela Merkel. However, the anti-Merkel protests drew only a small fraction of the numbers that the organizers had predicted. A similar rally in March drew 3,000.

Also, there was a sizeable counter-demonstration of around 4,500 people in support of Merkel. The confrontation between the two sides was mostly peaceful, with only small outbreaks of violence.

A third rally of about 3,000 people, organized by regional Protestant churches, was billed as a "stroll for worldly openness and tolerance" from the Brandenburg Gate to the city's central Gendarmenmarkt square. Express (London) and Deutsche Welle

Hooded anarchists in Italy turn violent on Austrian border

Hundreds of hooded "anarchist" protesters assembled in Italy on the border with Austria on Saturday and clashed violently with police during a demonstration against the Austrian government's plans to erect a fence at the Brenner Crossing between Italy and Austria, which would block asylum seekers from crossing from Italy into Austria.

It's estimated that about 30,000 migrants have reached Italy so far this year, mostly crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Libya by boat, and Austrian authorities have expressed the fear that masses of migrants would try to enter Austria.

Austria's Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka has said he believed that that as many as a million migrants were poised to cross the Mediterranean from Libya this year. Italy says the figure is likely to be much lower.

The protest at Brenner Pass turned violent on Saturday, with Italian police firing teargas at hundreds of protesters throwing stones and firecrackers. It was the third violent demonstration to take place at the Brenner Pass in just over a month.

Both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi warned that unless the European Union found a common migration stance, old nationalist ghosts would reawaken. According to Merkel:

"Either we defend our external borders and we do it together or we risk falling back into nationalism. This is not a challenge for Greece, Germany or Italy, but these are challenges that have to do with the future of Europe."

Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission president, said on Saturday that Austria imposing controls on its border with Italy would be a "political catastrophe" for Europe. Vice News and Washington Post and Reuters and The Local (Austria)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-May-16 World View -- Far right and far left clash in Europe over government policies thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-May-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

7-May-16 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan threatens EU: 'We'll go our own way, you go yours!'

London elects Sadiq Khan as mayor, the first Muslim mayor of a major Western city

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

London elects Sadiq Khan as mayor, the first Muslim mayor of a major Western city


Katie Hopkins promised to run down Regent Street naked if Sadiq Khan won
Katie Hopkins promised to run down Regent Street naked if Sadiq Khan won

Sadiq Khan, the 45-year-old son of a bus driver from Pakistan, was elected mayor of London in an extremely bitter contest against his main rival, Zac Goldsmith, the son of a billionaire businessman.

Goldsmith was accused of running a divisive and racist campaign for referring to Khan with such labels as “radical” and “dangerous,” which were as code for his religion. The tactics may have backfired, as Khan won overwhelmingly, 57% to 43%.

In a fascinating twist, Goldsmith's sister, Jemima (Gemima) Marcelle Goldsmith, is a journalist who was married to Imran Khan, whom I've written about many times. (See "20-Aug-14 World View -- Pakistan's army called to quell massive anti-government protest")

Imran Khan was one of Pakistan's greatest cricket players of all time, and was once voted as the "Sexiest Man of The Year" by Australia Magazine Oz. He turned to politics in the 1990s, and has become an extremely colorful and extremely anti-American politician. Jemima, who is Zac Goldsmith's sister and Imran Khan's ex-wife, congratulated the new mayor, describing him as a “great example to young Muslims.”

There's another fascinating twist: Sexy, well-known Daily Mail columnist Katie Hopkins wrote in her column on Wednesday:

"Vote Zac. Because if you don't, I'll run Regent Street naked with a sausage up my bum. I’ve even Tweeted as much. And if that horrifying prospect doesn’t get the Zac vote out, nothing will."

Now that Sadiq Khan has won, Hopkins' office is not returning phone calls on whether she intends to fulfill her pledge. Daily Mail (London) and LA Times and Telegraph (London)

Turkey's Erdogan threatens EU: 'We'll go our own way, you go yours!'

A furious Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday rejected a requirement of the EU-Turkey migrant that Turkey bring its anti-terror laws in line with EU standards, which is required for the lifting of EU visa restrictions for Turkish citizens.

The fallout from the resignation of Turkey's prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu, which we reported yesterday, did not take long to emerge.

It's beginning to be apparent that the EU-Turkey migrant deal was the last straw that caused president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to force Davutoglu to resign, after the stormy meeting they had on Wednesday evening. Davutoglu was Turkey's main negotiator for the deal, and according to reports, Davutoglu agreed to some things that Erdogan was opposed to.

As we reported in detail yesterday, the crux of the migrant deal is turning out to be the requirement that the EU lift visa restrictions and give citizens of Turkey visa-free travel throughout the 26 nations of Europe's Schengen Zone. There are 72 requirements imposed by the EU for the visa restriction to be lifted, and Erdogan is apparently furious that Davutoglu agreed to meet all requirements. Erdogan believes that Turkey has so much leverage in the deal, because of the EU's desperation in handling the migrant crisis, the Davutoglu did not have to concede so much.

Turkey's anti-terrorism laws are so broad that they criminalize almost any kind of political dissent, and are used to arrest journalists and academics critical of government policies. They were used as justification for the seizure of the country's largest newspaper, Today's Zaman, because it criticized Erdogan's policies. ( "6-Mar-16 World View -- Turkey's 'shameful day for free press' as government seizes Zaman media")

Erdogan on Friday said that the anti-terror laws would not be changed:

"While Turkey is under attack from terrorist organizations from all sides, the European Union is telling us to change the anti-terror law in exchange for the visa deal. You, the EU, will let PKK terrorists build tents near the EU parliament in Brussels, provide them opportunities in the name of democracy, and then tell us you will lift visas if we change our anti-terror laws. Sorry. We'll go our own way, you go yours."

Erdogan was alluding to a tent set up by supporters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in front of the European Council building, just two days after a major terrorist attack on Ankara on March 13, as Davutoglu was visiting Brussels. It was only after the terrorist attack on Brussels on March 22 that Belgian police ordered the tent to be taken down, but then it was set up again elsewhere. Turkish officials were furious that PKK supporters were permitted to publicize their cause just after a terrorist attack.

Erdogan's has issued a "take it or leave it" ultimatum to the European Union. He believes, probably correctly, that the EU is so desperate for the EU-Turkey migrant deal that they'll make this concession, and possibly other concessions as well, and lift the visa restrictions by the June deadline. Anadolu News (Turkey) and Irish Times and BBC

Turkey says it will meet other EU requirements for lifting visa restrictions

The European Union has 72 requirements a country must meet in order for visa restrictions to be lifted, so that citizens can travel freely around the 26 countries of the Schengen Zone. Almost all of the requirements have already been met, but five remain:

Turkey's EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Volkan Bozkir claims that much has already been done to fulfill the first four of these requirements:

"The readmission agreement will go in effect in June. The law that will allow judicial cooperation with all EU member states has recently been approved by Parliament and there is no problem with that. The data protection law was required to enhance cooperation with Europol, so it will also be done. We have also made significant progress implementing the recommendations of GRECO. Strengthening the data protection authority can be done. ...

[With regard to the fifth requirement:] The EU wants us to narrow the scope of the definition [of terrorism]. We already made the necessary changes to the anti-terrorism law in line with EU norms. The concept of immediate and obvious danger that threatens public security was introduced with these changes. However, we don't have the luxury of making these changes while the intensive fight against terrorism is ongoing."

Bozkir also addressed one of the main concerns that many EU officials have about lifting the visa restrictions for all of Turkey's 70 million citizens: That there will be a flood of asylum seekers from Turkey looking for jobs in Europe. According to Bozkir, the concern is irrelevant:

"There are about 1.5 million migrants who went to Europe, but nearly no Turkish citizens were among them. There is no single asylum application from a Turkish citizen. We will explain this to our European friends and will convince them."

Daily Sabah (Ankara) and BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-May-16 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan threatens EU: 'We'll go our own way, you go yours!' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-May-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

6-May-16 World View -- Syria and Russia continue 'Grozny Model,' killing women and children in Aleppo refugee camp

With Turkey already in chaos, Erdogan forces PM Davutoglu to resign

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

With Turkey already in chaos, Erdogan forces PM Davutoglu to resign


Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan (center) and prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu at a rally earlier this year (AP)
Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan (center) and prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu at a rally earlier this year (AP)

I always thought that Turkey's prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu was like Russia's prime minister Dmitry Medvedev. Medvedev is a puppet who does what Russia's president Vladimir Putin tells him to do, apparently without question. I've thought that Davutoglu was also a spineless puppet doing the bidding of Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and a lot of other people have thought the same.

But that apparently isn't true. Davutoglu has apparently vigorously opposed several of Erdogan's policies. According to reports, there was a stormy meeting on Wednesday evening between Erdogan and Davutoglu, leading to Davutoglu's resignation as prime minister and as leader of the governing AK party.

Davutoglu, a former professor, made it clear that recent events made it impossible to support Erdogan's policies as a matter of conscience, although he would remain loyal to Erdogan:

"My term [as prime minister] was one of success. With this decision, there is no feeling of unsuccessfulness or regret over what I have done. I did my job properly and with honor.

The fact that my term lasted far shorter than four years is not a decision of mine but a necessity. Our party is on the verge of a new era. This is the time of unity. ...

Especially after six months of the elections in which our party received 49.5 percent of the votes and the support of 24 million voters. Why is the AKP’s leader leaving while all three opposition leaders who lost the elections are still there?” he added.

Well, why have I taken such a decision? Life teaches many things, but I have my principles that I have never left since my academic days.

The strongest person in life is the one who can be at peace with himself,” the prime minister said. “In life, I have never defended anything I have not believed and I have never taken a step back on issues I have believed in. I have never negotiated for any post or position over the values and principles I have. ...

Therefore if friends are important and the objective is important, then we should all examine ourselves. As a result of my own examination and consultations with my friends with political experience, including our president, I have come to the conclusion that instead of changing colleagues, it’s much better to change the party chair for the unity of the AK Party. ...

[T]he fate of the AK Party is the fate of Turkey. Whatever will happen, I will continue my relation with our president [Erdogan] ... until my last breath. The honor of our president is my honor. His family is my family. No one should dare to initiate new plots."

Under Erdogan, Turkey has been moving in the direction of a dictatorship.

There will be an AK Party congress later in May, where Erdogan is expected to select a new prime minister who will be much more obedient and compliant. One possible successor would be Erdogan's son-in-law.

Whatever else happens, Turkey is already is a state of political chaos. There have been regular terrorist attacks by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and by the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). The government war against the PKK has led to actual fistfights in Turkey's parliament. And Russia's boycott of Turkey has caused economic hardships. Hurriyet (Ankara) and VOA

Davutoglu's resignation may complicate the EU-Turkey migrant deal

It's thought that there's too much at stake for both sides to allow a political dispute between Erdogan and Davutoglu to endanger the EU-Turkey migrant deal. Nonetheless, the resignation gives ammunition to opponents of the deal in both the EU and Turkey to argue that the deal should be scuttled.

The crux of the deal is the agreement to lift visa restrictions by the end of June, so that citizens of Turkey can travel freely around the 26 countries in Europe's Schengen Zone without a visa. This is something that Turkey has wanted for years, as it's enormously popular with Turkey's citizens, and it was a key demand of Turkey in making the migrant deal.

However, lifting the visa restrictions is very controversial in some parts of the EU, and the policy change is expected to face stiff opposition when the European Parliament votes on it within a few weeks. Opponents point to the fact that Turkey has not met all the preconditions for lifting the restrictions, including freedom of the press and human rights. The resignation of Davutoglu will allow opponents to say that Turkey is becoming less democratic and more authoritarian, and therefore doesn't qualify for lifting the visa restriction.

The same issue about lifting visa restrictions is a thorn in the side of Erdogan, because it places a number of restraints on Erdogan's policy changes. The EU can threaten to restore the visa restrictions at any time if Erdogan becomes too authoritarian, and so the agreement effectively places restraints on Erdogan's otherwise unrestrained policies.

Prime minister Davutoglu has offered a cautious counterweight to an increasingly radical president, who increasingly defines himself against Western values and goals. By replacing his hand-picked prime minister with someone still more subservient, Erdogan will get the power he seeks, unless he's stopped by the chaos that's likely to follow Davutoglu's resignation. Bloomberg and Euro News and Daily Sabah (Ankara)

Syria and Russia continue 'Grozny Model,' killing women and children in Aleppo refugee camp

At least 30 people were killed on Thursday when warplanes struck a refugee camp in northern Syria, killing many women and children. It's believed that the warplanes were from either Russia or the Syrian regime of president Bashar al-Assad.

The people living in the refugee camp were civilians who had fled the Russian warplanes bombing Aleppo. As we wrote in February, Russia is following a policy used against Grozny in the 1990s war against Chechnya. ( "19-Feb-16 World View -- Russia's attacks on civilian hospitals in Aleppo follow the 'Grozny model'")

Under this policy, Russia bombs schools, hospitals and civilian neighborhoods, in order to create a a refugee crisis, and to empty the urban residential areas. Once that is achieved, heavy weapons can be deployed to eradicate the remaining population, entailing widespread destruction of homes and infrastructure.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned that the policies of Syria and Russia are going to cause a humanitarian disaster, resulting in a flood of 400,000 refugees pouring into Turkey. Turkey has tried to set up refugee camps in northern Syria along the Turkish border, in order to prevent such a flood of refugees. Russia and Syria have been following the Grozny Model to eradicate the civilians in Aleppo, and now are bombing the refugee camps in order to make sure that the refugees pour into Turkey, from which they may once again flood into the Greece and the European Union.

The Syrian regime, which practices genocidal war crimes every day with barrel bombs and chemical weapons, and considers all Sunni Muslims as terrorist cockroaches to be exterminated, issued a statement saying that Aleppo has become like the heroic Stalingrad and gave a promise that "despite the brutality and cruelty of the enemy, and the great sacrifices and pains, our cities, towns, people and army will not be satisfied until they defeat the enemy and achieve victory serving the interests of Syria, the region and the world." VOA and Syria Online

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-May-16 World View -- Syria and Russia continue 'Grozny Model,' killing women and children in Aleppo refugee camp thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-May-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

5-May-16 World View -- Many in Asia oppose an Obama apology for 1945 nuking of Hiroshima

European Commission threatens to fine countries that won't accept migrants

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Britain will accept thousands of child refugees from European camps


Unaccompanied child refugee last year in 'The Jungle' refugee camp in Calais, France (Getty)
Unaccompanied child refugee last year in 'The Jungle' refugee camp in Calais, France (Getty)

Britain's prime minister David Cameron has made a U-turn in policy, and has announced that the UK will take thousands of unaccompanied children in refugee camps in the EU.

The UK already takes children from refugee camps in Syria and surrounding countries, but under the new policy will also take children who are already in Europe.

Cameron has opposed the change of policy because it would encourage more families to entrust their children to human traffickers to take them to Europe. For that reason, Cameron is restricting the policy to children registered in Greece, Italy or France prior to March 20, the date of the EU-Turkey refugee deal.

According to Cameron:

"I am also talking to Save the Children to see what we can do more, particularly about children who came here before the EU-Turkey deal was signed.

What I don't want us to do is to take steps that will encourage people to make this dangerous journey because otherwise our actions, however well-meaning they will be, could result in more people dying than more people getting a good life."

Local authorities across Britain will be asked to find homes for the children. The exact number of children was not announced, but it's assumed to be around 3,000. Each child will cost £50,000 to resettle. Guardian (London) and Catholic News Service and BBC

European Commission threatens to fine countries that won't accept migrants

The EU-Turkey deal requires Turkey to take back all migrants who travel from Turkey to Greece and are not given asylum. This applies to the thousands of migrants who are already in refugee camps in Greece.

The deal contains a somewhat bizarre "one-for-one" provision that says that, for each Syrian refugee that Greece returns to Turkey, Turkey will select a Syrian refugee from its refugee camps and send that refugee back to the EU. The plan is that these refugees will be distributed to all 28 EU countries under a quota system.

The EU tried a migrant quota system last year that was supposed to relocate 160,000 refugees from Greece and Italy to other EU countries. Only about 1,100 refugees were resettled under this plan because of stiff opposition from Central European countries, including Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland and Romania.

So now the European Commission (EC) is faced with implementing a quota system for the EU-Turkey deal, and their proposal includes a "fairness mechanism" under which each of the 28 member states would be assigned a percentage quota of all asylum seekers in the bloc that it would be expected to handle. The quota would be reflect national population and wealth.

It's clear that the same Central European countries are going to oppose the new quota system, and so the EC is going to permit them to opt out for at least a year, provided that they pay a fine of 250,000 euros ($300,000) for each asylum seeker that they refuse to accept.

"It is blackmailing. It's a dead-end street," according to Hungary's foreign minister, Peter Szijjarto.

Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said of the proposal: "I'm still wondering if it's a serious proposal, because it sounds like an idea announced during the April Fool's Day."

The EC proposals will be voted by the European Parliament in June. They require a majority vote, which means that they can be enacted over the opposition of the Central Asian countries. VOA and Reuters

Many in Asia oppose an Obama apology for 1945 nuking of Hiroshima

When US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Hiroshima, Japan, last month, he attended a commemoration that laid a wreath at the altar of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, but specifically refused to apologize for the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima in 1945. However, he left unanswered the question of whether President Obama would apologize when he visits Hiroshima on May 24.

Speculation apparently ended on Monday afternoon when Obama's press secretary Josh Earnest supposedly told reporters that Obama would not apologize.

When this report is confirmed, that will be the culmination of a debate which pits the editorial boards of the Washington Post, the New York Times, and other mainstream media newspapers, who are demanding that Obama apologize, versus a broad coalition of officials in Asia that oppose any such apology.

An Obama apology would also be politically divisive in the United states, as it would support the Republican view that Obama is "weak," and would aid the nationalist Donald Trump candidacy. Washington Post (10-Apr) and Lowy Institute (Australia) and Nikkei Asia Review

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-May-16 World View -- Many in Asia oppose an Obama apology for 1945 nuking of Hiroshima thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-May-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

4-May-16 World View -- European Commission expected to recommend visa-free travel for citizens of Turkey

Reader question on Iran and Iraq's Muqtada al-Sadr

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Reader question on Iran and Iraq's Muqtada al-Sadr


Muqtada al-Sadr
Muqtada al-Sadr

My recent article "2-May-16 World View -- Iraq government faces climatic Awakening era political crisis" evoked some reader questions, mostly about the relationship between Muqtada al-Sadr and Iran:

"Hey John, if you're still reading the comments, I'd love to have an answer to a layman's question, and I value your insight. What are the chances that Iraqi Shia al-Sadr is financed by the Iranian Shia, located in Tehran?

This is a very interesting question today (Tuesday), because al-Sadr has apparently shocked his supporters today by making an unannounced visit to Tehran. The visit is apparently embarrassing to both Iran and al-Sadr, since early reports from Iran's media denied that any such visit was taking place.

There's really no great love for Iran among Iraqi Shias. Recall Iraq's last generational crisis war. It was the Iran/Iraq war that climaxed in 1988 with Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons on the Kurds and the Iranians. It was a war between Iran and Iraq, not between Sunnis and Shias. Memories of that extremely bloody and brutal war are still fresh and deeply embedded in the minds of both Iraqis and Iranians today.

Al-Sadr himself has been carving out a largely nationalist non-sectarian path, trying to appeal to both Sunnis and Shias in Iraq. In Saturday's protests, his supporters were vocal about their hatred for Iran, so it's unlikely that Iran has been providing much support to al-Sadr.

If Iran has been supporting anyone, it would be the government of prime minister Haider al-Abadi, who depends on Iran for military support in fighting ISIS.

But even if Iran is not supporting al-Sadr, Iran undoubtedly has leverage over al-Sadr. There may also be the involvement of al-Sadr's "boss", the senior cleric al-Sayyid Ali al-Sistani, born in 1930. He grew up during Iraq's last generational Awakening era, so he's seen it all before, and may be acting as a mediator between Iran and the youthful al-Sadr.

(The political chaos in Iraq's generational Awakening era today is very similar to the 1930s Awakening era, as I described in my April 2007 article, "Iraqi Sunnis are turning against al-Qaeda in Iraq".)

At any rate, it's quite possible that when al-Sadr told his followers to retreat on Sunday, he was forced to do so by Iran. And he's visiting Iran today because he's been ordered to.

There may also be a threat of massive violence. Iran, Syria and Russia all have the policy of meeting peaceful protests with massive violence, filling the streets with dead bodies and rivers of blood, bludgeoning, massacring, torturing and mutilating peacefully protesting women and children, rather than allow anyone to peacefully protest against the government. Iraq's government didn't do anything like that on Saturday, but it's possible that Iran is threatening to use its own Revolutionary Guards military to massacre al-Sadr's protesters if they protest again.

The situation is that al-Sadr has called for massive protests after Friday prayers at the end of this week. Iran undoubtedly wants al-Sadr to call them off. But if al-Sadr calls off the protests after going to Tehran, then his protesters will be furious, and may become violent, triggering a violent response. So Friday should be interesting.

Some analysts are saying that Iraq's current Shia-led government is on the verge of collapse, because the Shias are fighting among themselves. According to Kurdish official Muhammad Ahmad, a former member of Iraq's parliament:

"There are historically three factors behind Shiite unity: when they face a common adversary, when they are guided by their supreme religious leaders, when they are told and directed by Iran. At the moment their common enemies are not so powerful and that has left some space for inter-Shiite tensions. I expect it to become even harsher. ...

[The] Sunnis have been left with no real power. At the moment they have no land, they have no wide popular support and consequently their political power is very much weakened. It wouldn’t be all too wrong to say that the Shiites no longer are intimidated by the Sunnis or Kurds. That is why the rivalries within the Shiite block have intensified."

So your question was: "Is al-Sadr financed by Iran?" My guess is that the answer is NO, but al-Sadr is THREATENED by Iran, at a time when Iraq's entire Shia government is threatened by an existential political crisis from within. Asharq Al-Awsat (London) and Press TV (Tehran) and Rudaw (Iraq, Kurdistan)

European Commission expected to recommend visa-free travel for citizens of Turkey

European media are reporting that the European Commission (EC) will back visa-free travel for Turkish citizens when they make their recommendations on Wednesday.

The recommendation would apply to the Schengen Zone, which is a group of 26 European countries that permit visa-free border crossings among them. Last year, because of the flood of migrants entering Europe, some Schengen zone countries imposed border controls under the "emergency situation" terms of the Schengen rules. However, with the closing of the "Balkan Route" for migrants, many of these border controls are being lifted.

If the EC recommendation is adopted, then citizens of Turkey will be able to travel anywhere within the Schengen zone without a visa. The UK, Ireland and Cyprus are not in the Schengen zone, so those countries will continue to impose a visa requirement.

Turkey had demanded that the visa requirement be scrapped as part of the EU-Turkey deal to handle Europe's migrant crisis. Turkey agreed to take back migrants who land in Greece, but agreed only on condition that the EU end the visa requirement by June.

The visa liberalization is extremely controversial in Europe. Turkey is an enormous country of 75 million people, and many Europeans fear that there will be a flood of Turkish citizens coming to Europe to look for work. However, the visa-free agreement will not grant Turks the right to get a job in Europe.

Germany and France have proposed an emergency brake or “snap back mechanism” under which it could halt visa-free travel if large numbers of Turks stay in the EU illegally or if there are a large number of asylum applications by Turks.

The EC's visa liberalization recommendation still requires approval by the EU parliament, where it is expected to meet with considerable opposition. Turkey is required to meet 72 separate conditions by May 4 to earn the visa liberalization.

It's thought that Turkey has met most but not all of the conditions. The failures are in two areas:

The EU-Turkey deal itself has raised human rights concerns, with activists claiming that Turkey is not a safe country to return migrants to.

However, EU officials believe that they have no choice but to approve the visa liberalization anyway, even if Turkey has not met all 72 requirements, because otherwise Turkey will cancel the migrant deal. BBC and Hurriyet (Ankara)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-May-16 World View -- European Commission expected to recommend visa-free travel for citizens of Turkey thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-May-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

3-May-16 World View -- Laos sides with China in South China Sea dispute

Report: Hamas, Israel and Egypt in alliance fighting ISIS

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel to open another truck crossing to the Gaza Strip


The Erez crossing (file photo)
The Erez crossing (file photo)

Because of the blockade of the Gaza strip by both Israel and Egypt, most of the food, medicine and other supplies reaching Gaza come through a single checkpoint, the Kerem Shalom crossing, between Israel and southeastern Gaza. Some 600-1000 trucks pass through the Kerem Shalom crossing every day, creating a hazard on some of the local roads.

Israel announced on Monday that it will open a second crossing to commercial traffic, through the Erez terminal on Gaza's northeastern tip. No implementation date has been given, but it's expected that the traffic will then be split between the two crossings.

Israel has imposed harsh restrictions on the kinds of goods that may be imported into Gaza. In particular, building materials like lumber, cement, and iron are restricted because they could be used to build tunnels and bunkers for use in war against Israel. However, officials complain that these restrictions prevent Gaza from rebuilding the homes that were destroyed since the 2014 war. The announcement made no mention of whether any of these restrictions will be lifted.

The announcement appears to be a goodwill gesture to Hamas. Israel halted commercial traffic through Erez in 2000, after the Palestinian intifada began, and only passenger transit has been allowed since. The decision to reopen the Erez crossing was taken in recognition that a truce that ended the 2014 war against Hamas is holding. Jerusalem Post and Reuters

Report: Hamas, Israel and Egypt in alliance fighting ISIS

Israel and Egypt have been in alliance for some time to fight Wilayat Sinai (State of Sinai), Sinai's branch of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). In the past, Egypt has accused Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, of allowing ISIS militants to use Gaza as a safe haven, and to allow them to cross into Sinai through smuggling tunnels. Hamas denies the allegations, saying it has no sympathies to the ISIS, which branded Hamas as infidels in a video two years ago.

Now the Washington Post is reporting that Egypt is pressuring Hamas to control its border and prevent any movement of fighters or couriers between Gaza and Sinai. Egypt has economic leverage on Hamas, as Hamas depends on Egypt in part for its economic survival.

Last week, Hamas deployed over 300 fighters to Gaza’s border with Egypt, to prevent ISIS militants from crossing over the border in either direction.

Being the generally suspicious person that I am, it's not clear to me how this will have any effect. If Hamas is providing a safe haven for ISIS militants and allowing them to cross into Egypt, then Hamas fighters will just let that continue. In fact, the Hamas fighters might actually provide cover for ISIS militants to cross back and forth.

According to Eyad al-Bozom, a Hamas spokesman, "The national security forces redeployed along the borders with Egypt, and it is part of the security plan to fully control the borders and the stability of it, as well as the security of our Egyptian brothers." Washington Post and Jerusalem Post

Laos sides with China in South China Sea dispute

A question that Generational Dynamics seeks to answer is how the countries of Asia will line up for and against China in the South China Sea dispute and the coming Clash of Civilizations world war.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced that China had reached[2] a four-point consensus with Cambodia, Brunei, and Laos about resolving the South China Sea disputes. In particular, they all acceded to China's demand that the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) not play a part.

It's been clear for some time that Cambodia is firmly in China's camp, but Vietnam was shocked by the announcement, since they always consider Laos to be "brothers."

China has been annexing regions in the South China Sea that have historically belonged to other countries, and continues to use belligerent military operations to enforce its seizures. China has claimed the entire South China Sea, including regions historically belonging to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan and the Philippines.

Much of China's announcement is just symbolic, since neither Cambodia nor Laos have made any claims in the South China Sea. Brunei does have a conflicting claim, but China's announcement does not say that the three countries accept China's sovereignty. It only says that they've adopted China's bilateral process for resolving the dispute.

China's claims are rejected by almost everyone outside of China, and China refuses to submit them to the United Nations court deciding such matters, apparently knowing their claims are groundless and that they would lose.

However, a court is expected to issue a ruling in the next few weeks. The Philippines filed a case with the International Tribunal for Law of the Sea in 2013, challenging China's claims to the entire South China Sea. China has already reacted angrily to the Philippines' action filing the case, and if the court ruling goes against China, as many analysts believe it will, then China is expected to be furious, and may take further military action. China has repeatedly made it clear that it will never compromise in the South China Sea, and that it will take whatever military action is required to support its annexation of the region. The Diplomat and China Foreign Ministry and VOA

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-May-16 World View -- Laos sides with China in South China Sea dispute thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-May-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

2-May-16 World View -- Iraq government faces climatic Awakening era political crisis

Muqtada al-Sadr and Iraq's Awakening era

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iraq government faces climatic Awakening era political crisis


A demonstrator holds a picture of Moqtada al-Sadr during a demonstration in Baghdad (Reuters)
A demonstrator holds a picture of Moqtada al-Sadr during a demonstration in Baghdad (Reuters)

Iraq's government in Baghdad is facing a major political crisis after thousands of supporters on Saturday of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr stormed the highly-secure "Green Zone" of Baghdad, and then moved on to the Parliament House. The air was festive, according to reports, as protesters took selfies while sitting in the chairs of the most hated politicians.

Under al-Sadr's orders, the protesters retreated from the Parliament House and the Green Zone on Sunday, but did so with a threat that new protests are planned for Friday. Since the "Arab Spring" began in 2011, the largest demonstrations have occurred as people poured out of mosques in the early afternoon after Friday prayers.

The Iraq government is under enormous pressure at the present time. Iraq is fighting the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). There are currently two fronts, in Mosul and Ramadi, and it's thought that ISIS could easily penetrate Baghdad and other cities.

Iraq is also facing the prospect of bankruptcy. The government to pay out nearly $4 billion to 7 million people on the public payroll, including salaries and pensions to the military and to the workers in the bloated public-sector. But after the plunge in oil prices, from which Iraq gets more than 90% of its revenue, it's bringing only about half that amount, $2 billion.

Al-Sadr is accusing the government of prime minister Haider al-Abadi of massive corruption, and is demanding that the al-Abadi fire all his ministers and replace them with a technocrat government.

The political system that was put in place after the 2003 Iraq war set up a quota system, with required numbers of Shias, Sunnis and Kurds. The result was that government positions were granted based on patronage, leading to widespread corruption and poor public services. Al-Abadi has tried to end the quota system, but has met with overwhelming political resistance.

Al-Sadr is trying to force the issue by ordering his followers to carry out massive protests, and is threatening to bring down the entire government if changes are not made quickly.

If that happens, it would signal a major change in Iraq's government, and would be a generational Awakening era crisis, an event that settles the generational political conflict by establishing a victory of the younger generation. The climax of America's 1960s Awakening era was the 1974 resignation of Richard Nixon, which also signaled the victory of the generation of kids who grew up after World War II over the WW II survivor generations. Washington Post and Fox News and Washington Post (5-March)

Muqtada al-Sadr and Iraq's Awakening era

Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr spent many years in hiding from Saddam Hussein, but after the Iraq war ended, he portrayed himself as an Iraqi nationalist, transcending the divide between Sunnis and Shia. His actions have largely been consistent with that role.

I've written about al-Sadr several times in the past, mostly during the Bush administration. In 2004, in "Al-Sadr's Shi'ite militia turn in weapons", al-Sadr was ordering his militias not to stage an anti-American Shia uprising. The context, throughout the Bush years following the Iraq war, was that the mainstream media, led by the NY Times and NBC News, were constantly predicting and promoting a disaster for the American army in Iraq. In 2004, the mainstream media were predicting a huge anti-American Shia uprising, but al-Sadr fooled them.

At one point in 2004, I wrote the following:

"Meanwhile, it's fun to watch how the mindless Boston Globe reporters cover all this. Tuesday's lead multi-column page one headline was "Shi'ites' uprising grows." That was wishful thinking, and by Wednesday the page one Iraq headline was, "Qaeda arrests called 'lucky' break." Today's headline is "Young marines frustrated by lack of progress." Each day's headline seems so moronic that it could never be topped, but the next day's is even more moronic. I don't know how they manage to do it."

Throughout those years, the mainstream media were predicting an imminent civil war in Iraq, making one dumb prediction after another, and always proven wrong.

In 2007, the mainstream media made complete fools out of themselves over Bush's "surge" announcement, predicting that it would be a complete disaster, and becoming completely humiliated when it worked.

In April, 2007, I wrote "Iraq's Moqtada al-Sadr says attack Americans, not each other". The word "attack" was an exaggeration by the mainstream media, but as a Reuter stories pointed out, al-Sadr was calling for peaceful demonstrations, not violence.

That's essentially what al-Sadr is calling for today, but this time the demonstrations are targeting the al-Abadi government in Baghdad.

Iraq's last generational crisis war was the Iran/Iraq war that climaxed in 1988, giving rise to the current generational Awakening era, and the generational conflict between the generations of survivors of that war versus the generations that have grown up after that war. It's that generational conflict that gives rise to the political chaos occurring today.

Iraq's previous generational crisis war was the 1920 Great Iraqi Revolution. That gave rise to political chaos in the 1930s that looked very similar to the kind of chaos that's occurring today.

I wrote about this history in detail in my April 2007 article, "Iraqi Sunnis are turning against al-Qaeda in Iraq", which is well worth reading by those interested in what's going on in Iraq today. Al-Jazeera(9-March)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-May-16 World View -- Iraq government faces climatic Awakening era political crisis thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-May-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

1-May-16 World View -- China makes four demands of Japan to improve relations

Kenya's huge ivory burning event may endanger elephants further

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Kenya's huge ivory burning event may endanger elephants further


Pyres of ivory burn in Nairobi National Park in Kenya on Saturday (AP)
Pyres of ivory burn in Nairobi National Park in Kenya on Saturday (AP)

Kenya set fire on Saturday to 105 metric tons in 11 separate pyres, the tusks of nearly 7,000 elephants. This is 5% of the world's entire stock of ivory. In addition, 1.5 tons of rhino horns were set on fire. Ivory does not readily burn, but the fires are kept going by pumping a combination of kerosene and diesel into the pyres. The fires are expected to burn for several days.

Kenya's entire stock of ivory is being burned. The ivory was mostly collected from poachers and smugglers who had been responsible for killing thousands of elephants to obtain the ivory.

The spectacular ivory-burning show was accompanied by speeches full of wishful thinking by politicians. Kenya's president Uhuru Kenyatta said the following before lighting the first pile:

"Kenya is poor, but Kenya is a rich country with a heritage given to us by God and we intend to protect it.

I have been told we are making a fundamental mistake in burning this ivory because we are poor. For us as Kenyans, Ivory is worthless unless it is on our elephants. ...

Let's do all we can to ensure our elephants are protected. Kenya's natural heritage can't be sold for money. With effective control over the movement of ivory, our elephants will be safe."

In case you're wondering how burning 105 tons of ivory is going to protect Kenya's elephants, it's because burning the ivory "sends a message" to poachers and smugglers that what they're doing is wrong and must be stopped.

This is now the fourth such burning that Kenya has held since 1989, but the poaching has only been increasing. In the 1970s, Africa had about 1.2 million elephants, but now has 400,000 to 450,000.

According to one report I heard, smugglers are not selling off their stocks of ivory. Instead, they're obtaining as much ivory as they can and storing it away, since it will only become more valuable as the number of elephants dwindles. It's not clear to me that these smugglers will stop what they're doing because of some "message" delivered by the burning.

In the excerpt above, Kenyatta said that he's been told that "we are making a fundamental mistake in burning this ivory." He's referring what many analysts are saying, that by burning off 5% of the marginal supply of the world's ivory, the price of ivory is going to skyrocket, with the result that many more elephants will be killed. In fact, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and other countries with large government stocks of ivory are holding on to it in the expectation of selling it at a much higher price.

Many people are saying that instead of burning the ivory, Kenya should have sold it off and given the money to the people whose villages have been attacked by wild elephants as compensation. This would have increased the supply of legal ivory in the world, and would have reduced the price of ivory, thus making poaching much less lucrative. The Star (Kenya) and National Geographic

China makes four demands of Japan to improve relations

Japan's foreign minister Fumio Kishida met with China's Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing on Saturday, with the intention of easing the enormous hostility between the two countries. The news reports were ambiguous about the outcome, but they seem to suggest that the meeting was pretty hostile.

One news report used an interesting phrase, "taking history as a mirror," that I haven't heard before:

"Li said China is willing, in the spirit of taking the history as a mirror and looking into the future, to make joint efforts with Japan to strengthen political mutual trust and promote bilateral relations back to the track of normal development."

According to China's Foreign Ministry, China made four demands of Japan to improve relations between the two countries:

"1. In the political area, the Japanese side should stick fast to the four political documents including the China-Japan Joint Statement, face up to and reflect upon the history and follow the one-China policy to the letter. No ambiguity or vacillation is allowed when it comes to this important political foundation of the bilateral ties."

The four documents refer to the China-Japan Joint Statement inked in 1972, the China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1978, the China-Japan Joint Declaration of 1998, and the joint statement on advancing strategic and mutually-beneficial relations in a comprehensive way signed in 2008.

China is still angry that Japan invaded China prior to and during World War II, using Chinese girls as "comfort women" for the soldiers, and committing the "Nanjing massacre" on December 13, 1937. The Chinese are critical of Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe for recently sending a ritual offering to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. The Shrine, which honors Japan's war-dead, also enshrines 14 former Japanese leaders who were responsible Japan's attack on China.

Further, China is demanding that Japan recognize Taiwan as Chinese territory, not a self-governing nation, as Japan sometimes suggests.

"2. In terms of its outlook on China, the Japanese side should translate into concrete actions its consensus with China, that is, the two countries are each other's cooperative partners rather than threats. It should have a more positive and healthy attitude toward the growth of China, and stop spreading or echoing all kinds of "China threat" or "China economic recession" theories."

China is building a huge offensive military arsenal, preparing to launch war against, Japan, its neighbors in the South China Sea, and the United States. But if anyone asks China what they're doing, China accuses them of being warmongers and making threats. Point #2 demands that Japan stop complaining about China's massive military buildup and preparations for war.

"3. In terms of economic exchange, the Japanese side should establish the concept of win-win cooperation, discard the outdated idea that one side cannot do without the other side, or one side depends more on the other side than the other way around. Instead, it should enhance equal-footed and pragmatic cooperation with China in different fields based on mutual benefit."

This is an economic threat. In 2012, China declared economic war on Japan by terminating shipments of rare earth minerals, needed for manufacturing of many of Japan's electronic products. Also, Chinese protesters torched a Panasonic factory and Toyota dealership in China, looted and ransacked Japanese department stores and supermarkets in several Chinese cities. China's National Tourism Administration ordered travel companies to cancel tours to Japan. ( "18-Sep-12 World View -- China declares economic war on Japan, and sends 1,000 boat flotilla")

So when China talks about "win-win," it's a veiled threat that Japan must do as its told, or there may be another economic war.

"4. In terms of regional and international affairs, the two sides should respect each other's legitimate interests and concerns, and have essential communication and coordination in a timely fashion. The Japanese side should cast aside the confrontation mentality and work with China to maintain peace, stability and prosperity of the region."

China's message is this: "We want stability and peace. If you do exactly as you're ordered, then we'll have stability and peace. But if you don't do as you're ordered, then we'll kill you, and get stability and peace that way."

Generational Dynamics predicts that China and Japan are rapidly heading for a generational crisis war, and the time may not be far off. China Foreign Ministry and AP and Xinhua

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-May-16 World View -- China makes four demands of Japan to improve relations thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-May-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

30-Apr-16 World View -- Papua New Guinea Supreme Court bombshell throws Australia's refugee policy into chaos

North Korea nuclear test expected after three botched missile tests

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Papua New Guinea Supreme Court bombshell throws Australia's refugee policy into chaos


Asylum seekers on Manus island detention center (AAP)
Asylum seekers on Manus island detention center (AAP)

A bombshell Supreme Court ruling is invalidating Australia's policy for dealing with refugees. However, the bombshell was not from Australia's Supreme Court. It was from the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea (PNG). The ruling says that Australia's refugee detention center on PNG's Manus Island is inhumane, and must be shut down.

In past years, thousands of refugees from Asia have traveled by boat to Australia, often after paying huge sums to human traffickers, hoping to resettle there. Australia has dealt with the situation, starting in 2001, by setting up two "detention centers," one on PNG's Manus Island and one on Nauru, under agreements reached with both countries. Australia intercepts the boat people while at sea, and redirects them to the detention centers.

These two detention centers have been enormously controversial, with numerous stories of beatings, torture, and sexual abuse at the detention centers. The detention centers were shut down in 2007, but reinstated when the number refugees and asylum seeks surged again into the thousands.

There is not yet any timetable for the closing of the Manus Island center, but Australia is just weeks away from a national election. The entire policy for processing refugees and asylum seekers is now in chaos and is sure to be a major campaign issue.

Lawyers for 850 asylum seekers held at Manus Island said on Friday they planned to seek potentially billions of Australian dollars in compensation. Sydney Morning Herald and Guardian (London) and Reuters

Papua New Guinea repudiates refugee agreement after Supreme Court Ruling

According to a 2013 memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Australia and PNG:

"8. Australia may Transfer and Papua New Guinea will accept Transferees from Australia under this MOU. ...

10. Persons to be transferred to Papua New Guinea are those persons who:

  • have travelled irregularly by sea to Australia; or
  • have been intercepted at sea by the Australian authorities in the course of trying to reach Australia by irregular means; and
  • are authorised by Australian law to be transferred to Papua New Guinea; and
  • have undergone a short health, security and identity check in Australia.

11. Papua New Guinea will host a Processing Centre or Processing Centers in Manus Province and may host other Processing Centers in Papua New Guinea for the purposes of this MOU."

However, the PNG Supreme Court has invalidated the agreement with its bombshell decision:

"It was the joint efforts of the Australian and PNG governments that has seen the asylum seekers brought into PNG and kept at the Manus Island Processing Centre against their will. These arrangements were outside the constitutional and legal framework in PNG. ... The forceful bringing into and detention of the asylum seekers on MIPC is unconstitutional and is therefore illegal."

Peter Dutton, Australia's Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, issued a statement saying that it's PNG's problem, not Australia's:

"This is a decision of the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea. Australia was not a party to the legal proceedings. It does not alter Australia’s border protection policies – they remain unchanged. No one who attempts to travel to Australia illegally by boat will settle in Australia.

The Government will not allow a return to the chaos of the years of the Rudd-Gillard Labor Governments when regional processing was initiated to deal with the overwhelming illegal arrivals of more than 50,000 people. The agreement with Papua New Guinea to establish the Manus Island RPC was negotiated by the Labor Government.

Those in the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre found to be refugees are able to resettle in Papua New Guinea. Those found not to be refugees should return to their country of origin. People who have attempted to come illegally by boat and are now in the Manus facility will not be settled in Australia."

However, this announcement by Dutton was unwelcome in PNG, where the PNG prime minister, Peter O’Neill said, "Respecting this ruling, Papua New Guinea will immediately ask the Australian government to make alternative arrangements for the asylum seekers currently held at the regional processing center." Australia Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Australia Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and Guardian (London)

North Korea nuclear test expected after three botched missile tests

North Korea on Thursday launched two intermediate range ballistic missiles, in missile tests that were both apparent failures. They came two weeks after another botched missile test, launched on April 15, the birthday of North Korean founding father Kim Il-sung.

It's believed that North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un rushed the three missile tests in order to show off regime accomplishments prior to the Seventh Party Congress, which convenes on May 6.

Because all three missile tests were botched, it's now thought Kim will order a nuclear test just prior to May 6.

In other news, Kim has ordered a massive crackdown on its people, and has tightened security along its border with China. The regime also has been restricting entry into the capital Pyongyang and has ordered residents not to hold ceremonial occasions such as weddings or funerals. According to one source:

"The North has completely blocked its capital and the border area after declaring a special surveillance period. The regime is conducting random inspections of houses in Pyongyang and ordering visitors, including relatives, to immediately return to their own homes."

Security forces are also inspecting factories and institutes, checking when workers come to and leave work. The harsh new security measures are apparently intended to combat Kim's anxieties that unexpected violence could embarrass him prior to the party congress. Joongang (Seoul) and Yonhap (Seoul) and Korea Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Apr-16 World View -- Papua New Guinea Supreme Court bombshell throws Australia's refugee policy into chaos thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

29-Apr-16 World View -- Syria's air force deliberately targets hospital in Aleppo, killing dozens

Bank of Japan shocks investors with no stimulus, leading to global stock selloff

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Syria's air force deliberately targets hospital in Aleppo, killing dozens


Aftermath of Syrian airstrike on Aleppo hospital on Thursday (AP)
Aftermath of Syrian airstrike on Aleppo hospital on Thursday (AP)

The air force of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad appears on Thursday to have deliberately targeted a hospital in Aleppo with airstrikes, killing dozens of doctors and children.

According to US Secretary of State John Kerry, "It appears to have been a deliberate strike on a known medical facility and follows the Assad regime's appalling record of striking such facilities and first responders. These strikes have killed hundreds of innocent Syrians."

Destroying a hospital is typical of Bashar al-Assad. This is a man who gets obvious pleasure from gouging out people's eyes or pulling out their fingernails, or send missiles into school dormitories to kill children, or dropping barrel bombs laden with metal and chemical weapons on civilian neighborhoods, or using Sarin gas to kill large groups of people. He considers all Sunni Muslims to be cockroaches to be exterminated. Bashar al-Assad is the greatest genocidal monster in today's world, comparable to Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong and Stalin from the last century. There is no mass weapon of destruction, nor any gruesome form of torture, that he won't use to satisfy his psychopathy.

The news today is that officials are complaining that the Syria "peace process" is hanging by a thread, in the words of Staffan de Mistura, the UN envoy to Syria. But these officials are paid to live in a fantasy world of denial. As I've written many times, no one seriously believed that there was any sort of actual peace process going on. And as I've written many times, any movement to peace is impossible with al-Assad in power in Syria, because he's determined to keep dropping barrel bombs with chemical weapons on Sunni civilians until every Sunni in Syria is exterminated.

The reason that Thursday's airstrike on the Aleppo is significant news is that its sheer brutality and savageness makes it clear to even officials in denial that al-Assad has no intention of entering into any peace agreement.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, al-Assad may be making a fundamental error, by not understanding the differences between generational eras.

Syria's last generational crisis war was the civil war that climaxed in 1982 with the massacre at Hama. There was a massive uprising of the 400,000 mostly Sunni citizens of Hama against Syria's president Hafez al-Assad, the current president's father. In February, 1982, al-Assad turned the town to rubble, 40,000 deaths and 100,000 expelled. Hama stands as a defining moment in the Middle East. It is regarded as perhaps the single deadliest act by any Arab government against its own people in the modern Middle East. But once the Hama was destroyed, the anti-government movement against Hafaz al-Assad pretty much ended. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this was a generational crisis war climax, like the nuking of Hiroshima at the climax of World War II, bringing the war to an end.

Now Bashar al-Assad may believe that he's in a similar situation in Aleppo. It's quite possible -- even quite likely -- that al-Assad intends to turn the city of Aleppo to rubble, and then gain a complete victory, as his father did in 1982.

But that kind of climax with that kind of outcome can occur only in a generational Crisis era. Today, Syria is in a generational Awakening era, like America in the 1960s. And in this generational era, the destruction of Aleppo will bring at most a temporary halt to the fighting, not the total surrender that al-Assad is delusionally hoping for. Al Monitor and CNN and United Nations

Bank of Japan shocks investors with no stimulus, leading to global stock selloff

With Japan's economy in a deep slump, most analysts expected the Bank of Japan (BOJ) to add stimulus to the economy by one form or another of "printing money" -- by increasing its purchase of bonds ("quantitative easing") or by lowering the interest rate, which is already negative, to make it even more negative.

Instead, the BOJ announced on Thursday that it would not add any new stimulus to the economy at all at the present time. This was a shock to investors, who responded by selling off stocks, causing the Tokyo Stock Exchange Nikkei index to plummet 3.6%. This triggered a world wide selloff on Thursday, though generally not as deep as the Nikkei selloff.

The Bank of Japan adopted negative interest rates three months ago, in what was considered a move of desperation. ( "30-Jan-16 World View -- Japan tries negative interest rates as US economy slows") But that move has been ineffective in promoting economic growth, so the BOJ may have decided that another stimulus move wouldn't make any difference. Actually, not adding stimulus did make a difference of a kind that wasn't expected.

Using stimulus over and over to push up the stock market cannot work forever. By the Law of Diminishing Returns, each new injection of stimulus will have a smaller effect that then previous injection.

What this illustrates is the dependence in today's world of stock markets on central banks. No one serious believes any more that the stock market is meaningfully related to a country's economy. The stock markets today are being held up by the central banks -- by the BOJ in Japan, the European Central Bank, the Bank of England, and the Federal Reserve in America.

The Fed raised interest rates by 0.25% in December, and that move is widely thought to have harmed the US economy. Today, just about the only stories important to financial media are the debates over whether the Fed is going to raise rates again, or whether it will reverse the December increase.

As we reported last week, the S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio has rocket above 24, its highest value in years. Generational Dynamics predicts that the P/E ratio will fall to the 5-6 range or lower, which is where it was as recently as 1982, resulting in a Dow Jones Industrial Average of 3000 or lower. Bloomberg and ZeroHedge and Law of Diminishing Returns

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Apr-16 World View -- Syria's air force deliberately targets hospital in Aleppo, killing dozens thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

28-Apr-16 World View -- Austria votes to close border with Italy to slow refugees

Female suicide bomber attacks Bursa in northwestern Turkey

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Female suicide bomber attacks Bursa in northwestern Turkey


Suicide bomber blew herself up near Bursa's 14th century Ottoman Empire Grand Mosque
Suicide bomber blew herself up near Bursa's 14th century Ottoman Empire Grand Mosque

A female suicide bomber blew herself up in the Turkish city of Bursa on Wednesday, wounding 13 people. Reports indicate that the bomber was a 25 year old woman.

Turkey has been suffering from a string of terrorist attacks on large cities, including Ankara and Istanbul. The attacks have been perpetrated both by the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) and also by the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

As I reported yesterday, the PKK has promised to escalate its war against the government of Turkey. Turkey's prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu responded that "Turkey will be saved soon from this terrorism problem completely," presumably by military action against the PKK.

However, as yet, no one has claimed credit for Wednesday's suicide attack on Bursa.

Bursa was the first capital of the Ottoman Empire.

Today, it's a large commercial city, but still is built around the mosques, mausoleums and other sites from its incarnation from its Ottoman ancestry. The bombing took place near Bursa's historic Grand Mosque, built between 1396-99. Daily Sabah (Istanbul) and AFP and Bursa's Grand Mosque

Austria votes to close border with Italy to slow refugees

Austria's Parliament on Wednesday voted a set of harsh regulations to stem the flow of migrants crossing the border from Italy.

According to the law:

It's thought that the Parliament passed the law in response to an overwhelming victory by the far-right Freedom Party in the first round of Austria's presidential elections on Sunday.

Human Rights Watch is denouncing the new laws as "a blow to the rights of asylum seekers."

Italy’s prime minister, Matteo Renzi posted a statement saying:

"The possibility of closing the Brenner Pass is blatantly against European rules, as well as against history, against logic and against the future."

There are large refugee camps in Greece on the border with Macedonia, and in Calais, France, near to entrance to the Euro tunnel to Britain. As migrants enter Italy after crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Libya, we may eventually see a large camp of migrants on Italy's border with Austria. The Local (Austria) and Guardian (London) and France 24 and The Local (Italy) and Breitbart News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Apr-16 World View -- Austria votes to close border with Italy to slow refugees thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

27-Apr-16 World View -- Puerto Rico headed for new financial default on May 1

Violence spreads across Turkey as both Turkey and PKK escalate fight

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Violence spreads across Turkey as both Turkey and PKK escalate fight


The PKK flag hangs as armed PKK militants man a barricade in southeastern Turkey on November 15 2015 (AFP)
The PKK flag hangs as armed PKK militants man a barricade in southeastern Turkey on November 15 2015 (AFP)

Ever since the cease-fire agreement between Turkey and the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) broke down last year in July, the violence on both sides has been escalating. The PKK has conducted terrorist attacks, while the Turkish military has attacked PKK havens in southeast Turkey and northeastern Iraq.

In an interview with the BBC, PKK leader Cemil Bayik blamed Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the surge in fighting, promised to escalate the terrorist attacks on Turkish targets even further:

"He [President Erdogan] wants the Kurds to surrender. If they don't surrender, he wants to kill all Kurds. He says this openly - he doesn't hide it.

The Kurds will defend themselves to the end, so long as this is the Turkish approach - of course the PKK will escalate the war. Not only in Kurdistan, but in the rest of Turkey as well."

We don’t want to divide Turkey. We want to live within the borders of Turkey on our own land freely... The struggle will continue until the Kurds’ innate rights are accepted."

The PKK has been engaged in violence with Turkey's government for three decades. The PKK and Turkey agreed to a cease-fire and a "peace process" in 2013, but that broke down abruptly last year following the July 20 terrorist attack in the city of attack on Suruç killing 33 people, mostly young pro-Kurdish activists. After that, the ceasefire agreement broke down, and Erdogan declared war on the PKK. ( "9-Sep-15 World View -- Turkey slips into chaos as violence spreads across the country")

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu responded to Bayik's interview with the BBC:

"Nobody should doubt it. This fight, which we will carry out until Turkey saves itself from the problem of terrorism, will continue without rupture. Hopefully, as a result of this determined fight, Turkey will be saved soon from this terrorism problem completely.

Unfortunately, the international community cannot give a good account of itself and a hypocritical attitude is still embraced on the issue of terrorism. Tents of a brutal terrorist organization might be erected in European capitals and their rags [flags] might be displayed."

Davutoglu was alluding to a tent set up by PKK supporters in front of the European Council building, just two days after a major terrorist attack on Ankara on March 13, as Davutoglu was visiting Brussels. It was only after the terrorist attack on Brussels on March 22 that Belgian police ordered the tent to be taken down, but then it was set up again elsewhere. Turkish officials were furious that PKK supporters were permitted to publicize their cause just after a terrorist attack.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist group by the US and the EU. However, the Kurds are also a major US ally in Iraq and Syria, fighting the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). The US distinguishes between the PKK versus Kurdish militias fighting ISIS, but Turkey considers all of them to be terrorists, resulting in policy conflicts with the West.

The new statements by Davutoglu and Bayik suggest that the fighting is going to escalate.

As we've been saying since 2003, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war between Arabs and Jews, between Sunnis and Shias, and between various ethnic groups. It seems now that every week brings this prediction a major step closer. BBC and Daily Sabah (Ankara)

Puerto Rico headed for new financial default on May 1

It is now all but certain that Puerto Rico will default on a $422 million debt payment due on May 1.

In January, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) promised that legislative action would be completed by the end of March to resolve Puerto Rico's problems before the May 1 deadline. However, Ryan has failed to accomplish this.

Puerto Rico faces $70 billion in total debt, a 45 percent poverty rate and a shrinking population, all of which threaten to cause its economy to collapse.

In many ways, Puerto Rico has gotten a free ride from Congress for years. Congress granted Puerto Rico investments a "triple-tax free" tax rate. This means that you can invest in Puerto Rico's bonds and earn 10% interest every year, and not have to pay federal, state or municipal tax on the interest you collect. There were other major tax benefits granted exclusively to those investing in Puerto Rico.

The money that investors paid for these bonds has been essentially "free money" to Puerto Rico, since nobody apparently believed that it would ever have to be paid back. As a result, Puerto Rico has felt free to spend huge amounts of money on social programs, with bills that are finally coming due.

Detroit defaulted on its debt several years ago, but it didn't really hurt too many people, because the bankrupt debt was $18 billion, and few ordinary people owned Detroit bonds, as most investors were institutions that hedged their purchases with credit default swaps.

A Puerto Rican debt default is likely to be much more widespread. The triple-tax free 10% interest deal has drawn massive amounts of money from 401k's and other ordinary investment funds. These funds will all lose significant principal in a Puerto Rico default.

Under US law, Puerto Rico does not have Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection that Detroit had. A legislative solution would involve a bankruptcy-like restructuring of Puerto Rico's debt. The Republicans are generally supporting the bondholders, the people who invested in the triple-tax free 10% bonds, who are fiercely resisting any restructuring, claiming that the only reason that they purchased the bonds in the first place was because the law made such restructuring impossible. Or if some kind of bailout is authorized, then Republicans want to impose harsh fiscal discipline on the island.

Democrats generally want to bail out Puerto Rico with few fiscal constraints. However, such a bailout would permit the government to resuming borrowing money and spending it, resulting in a continuing crisis.

One side effect of Puerto Rico's economic crisis is that it's accelerated the migration of Puerto Ricans to the mainland U.S. If no legislation is passed by July 1, then Puerto Rico will default on $2 billion in payments due at that time, causing the economy to spiral further into crisis.

Puerto Rico and Greece have in common that there is no solution to their respective financial crises. Reuters and Washington Post and AP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Apr-16 World View -- Puerto Rico headed for new financial default on May 1 thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

26-Apr-16 World View -- Obamacare continues death spiral as Britain's NHS faces strike

Obama administration tries to find money to save Obamacare

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Britain's NHS facing massive strike from 'junior doctors'


Striking protesters carry signs saying 'Destroy the patriarchy, not the NHS' and 'Victory to the junior doctors' (Press Association)
Striking protesters carry signs saying 'Destroy the patriarchy, not the NHS' and 'Victory to the junior doctors' (Press Association)

As we've been reporting since October, Britain's National Health Service (NHS) is facing an existential crisis, with a huge and accelerating deficit expected to reach 22 billion pounds ($32 billion) by 2020. ( "5-Aug-15 World View -- Britain's National Health Service (NHS) faces existential financial crisis")

Now the NHS is facing a massive strike from "junior doctors," after Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said he's unwilling to compromise on a contract that would increase working hours. Junior doctors, the backbone of the NHS, whose workday now ends at 7 pm, would have the workday extended to 10 pm. Also, for the first time, their normal working week would include Saturday from 7am to 5pm. The strike is scheduled to last 48 hours, on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The system is deeply corrupt, with doctors falsifying records, claiming for work that was never done, or putting in for bogus overtime. Dentistry services are so bad that people are buying "do-it-yourself (DIY) dentistry kits" to take care of their whole families, as was done centuries ago.

Because the NHS bureaucracy is so old and bloated, and because the services are "free," costs can only be controlled by rationing, queuing, reduced quality and artificial cost suppression. UK's doctors earn far less than doctors in other countries, and UK specialists earn about half of what they do in America. As a result, UK's homegrown doctors have left to work in other countries, and NHS has had to import 28% of its doctors from abroad, usually from poorer countries where low UK salaries look attractive.

The junior doctors are demonstrating against the contract for the obvious reasons -- low pay, exhaustion, having little free time to spend with their families. A substantial number are considering leaving Britain to practice medicine in other countries, according to a poll.

However, women's groups are particularly concerned because of the disproportionate impact that the contract will have on women. Men are used to working long hours, but women often have to go home on time to take care of the children. An analysis by the Department of Health agrees that the new contract "impacts disproportionately on women." When the new contract going into effect in August, many women will be forced to quit unless they can find adequate child care, and child care services are extremely expensive.

The far left British Medical Association, which is leading the strike action, has launched a judicial review of the legality of the contract, because it adversely affects women.

However, the Department of Health says that women should stop complaining, because the new contract levels the playing field between men and women, which is what feminists want. According to a Department of Health spokeswoman:

"This contract is a huge step forward for achieving fairness for all trainee doctors. For the first time, junior doctors will be paid and rewarded solely on the basis of their own hard work and achievement. That is ultimately what employers and the BMA [British Medical Association] themselves want and everyone deserves: a level playing field."

Guardian (London) and BBC and Guardian and Daily Mail (London)

Britain's NHS financial crisis is being tied to the 'Brexit' debate

The "Brexit" debate, and the June 23 referendum to decide whether Britain will exit from the European Union, is being tied politically to the NHS financial crisis and the strike by junior doctors.

There are two sides to the story. One side says that if Britain leaves the European Union, then it would help the NHS financially. They argue that leaving the EU would mean that Britain could shut the door to migrants from other European countries, especially Hungary and other east European countries, who come to the UK to receive free medical services. In addition, they say that 50 million pounds per day is being sent to Brussels, and that money could be kept at home to pour into the NHS.

The other side says that if Britain leaves the European Union, then it would hurt the NHS financially. They say that health tourism -- where people travel to the UK to get free medical help -- costs less than 0.1% of the NHS budget. They point out that Norway and Switzerland, who are not in the EU, still must pay similar amounts to fund their cumbersome arrangements with the EU market. Telegraph (London) and BBC and Independent (London)

Obama administration tries to find money to save Obamacare

On the afternoon of October 1, 2013, President Obama stood up at a press conference to launch Obamacare. When a reporter asked why so few people could log on, he answered that millions of people were enrolling for insurance, so the web sites were slow. As it turned out, only six people across the country were able to enroll on that day. How is it possible that Obama and the entire White House were so completely blindsided by the disaster that was already unfolding that they didn't even know what was going on hours after the launch had begun? How many people had to lie? How many people had to commit fraud? How many people had to be silenced or fired? How many layers of management were lied to, to prevent Obama from knowing the size of the disaster, hours after the disaster was already in progress?

To answer these questions, I spent months interviewing a number of people, including contractors, whistleblowers, analysts, and others, and I posted the article "Healthcare.gov -- The greatest software development disaster in history". The reason that healthcare.gov was a disaster was that each of the web sites was a $10-20 million software development project, but the Obama administration funded each web site with something like $200 million. So when a company like CGI Corp. receives $200 million for a $10 million project, the objective is to spend the money. So they hired hundreds of programmers, most of whom were completely incompetent. So they spent the money, but couldn't develop the web site.

As part of that project, I also looked into all the other components of Obamacare -- the exchanges, the co-ops, and the risk corridors. And as I described in the article, all of them were financial disasters. Many have gone bankrupt, and others are staying afloat only because the Obama administration is finding ways to take money from other projects and pour it into the Obamacare black hole.

The Obama administration started by taking a $730 billion Medicare fund and using it to fund Obamacare. Millions of people have been paying for years into the system to create that fund, and Obama threw it into the toilet. The co-ops and exchanges had operated at big losses, thinking that the administration would bail them out, but Congress blocked the administration from taking money from a number of other projects.

The administration is looking for more ways to bail out Obamacare co-ops and exchanges, and reports indicate that they're now planning to use a "reinsurance" mechanism in the enabling legislation that permit Obama to take money from some insurers and give it to others. Using that mechanism is supposed to be illegal, but that hasn't stopped the Obama administration before.

UnitedHealth Group Inc., the country's largest health insurer, has announced that that they are losing so much money on Obamacare exchanges that they will leave the exchanges in at least 22 states where the company sold plans for this year. Not all states have been named, but they include Florida, Kansas, Texas, North Carolina and Maryland.

There are 27 million people still uninsured, even though the administration claims that 22 million more people have insurance now than before Obamacare, but that claim is fraudulent. Millions more are effectively uninsured either because they're on Medicaid and can't find a doctor that accepts Medicaid or they're on an Obamacare plan with a deductible of $5,000 to $15,000, and have to pay their own medical expenses anyway, in addition to the premiums.

Blue Cross Blue Shield has done an in-depth study of medical claims in 2014 and 2015, and found that members who newly enrolled in BCBS individual health plans in 2014 and 2015 have higher rates of certain diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, coronary artery disease, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Hepatitis C than individuals who had BCBS individual coverage prior to health care reform.

For example, new enrollees have rates of HIV and Hepatitis C of 41 and 24 per 10,000 respectively, compared to 12 and 10 respectively among those with individual policies prior to Obamacare. Rates of HIV and Hepatitis C for those who receive insurance through their employers were 11 per 10,000 for both conditions.

These figures support the view that many people enroll in Obamacare when they get sick, and then drop out when they get well. Few people see any point in making premium payments if they're going to be effectively uninsured.

A new report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office indicates that Obamacare costs are 10% higher than the CBO predicted a year ago. What Obamacare and Britain's NHS have in common is that both of them are in financial death spirals that cannot be sustained. Chicago Tribune and Blue Cross Blue Shield and The Beacon and The Hill and AP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Apr-16 World View -- Obamacare continues death spiral as Britain's NHS faces strike thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

25-Apr-16 World View -- Largest protests in years planned for Cairo Egypt on Monday

Sudan and Tunisia prepare for simultaneous protests in solidarity

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Egypt arrests journalists in cafes and homes ahead of Monday protests


Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi with military guard
Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi with military guard

With large protests expected in Cairo on Monday, Egypt's government is conducting a security crackdown. At least 47 arrest warrants have been issued since Thursday, and dozens of citizens have been arrested without notice from cafes and private residences. Security forces threatened the families of people who were not at home at the time of the attempted arrest.

The crackdowns are targeting bloggers and journalists who have been critical of the government of president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi, especially the recent agreement with Saudi Arabia that gave up two Red Sea islands in exchange for $22 billion in investments.

Those who are arrested are facing charges of inciting illegal protests, affiliation with a banned organization, attempting to overthrow the regime, promoting false news and information aimed at disturbing public order. Some are accused of "to threatening to use violence against the president of the republic while he is acting within his constitutional authorities." Daily News Egypt and AP

Egypt's al-Sisi warns of 'chaos' in Monday's Sinai Liberation Day protests

Some of the largest protests in years, reminiscent of the protests that brought down Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak in 2011, are expected on Monday, the anniversary of Sinai Liberation Day, referring to the "liberation" of Sinai from Israel.

Egypt's president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi is warning of "chaos" and "destabilization attempts" over the planned demonstrations and protests planned for Monday by opposition political parties and movements. In a nationally televised speech, al-Sisi said:

"I see there are people calling once again for damage to [Egypt's] security and stability. Our responsibility is to protect security and stability, and I promise Egyptians that no one will terrorize them again.

Still there are evil powers that aim to destabilize stability and safety inside Egypt. Over the last three years, we have succeeded in establishing state institutions, such as the parliament, constitution and presidency. The survival of these institutions means the survival of Egypt. ...

Security services ... will confront with extreme rigor any attempt to disturb public order."

Al-Sisi is deploying hundreds of troops to maintain peace, and is warning that a repeat of large past protests will be punished.

Monday is Sinai Liberation Day, commemorating April 25, 1982, when all Israeli forces were withdrawn from the Sinai Peninsula, and the land was returned to Egyptian control.

The call for protests was triggered by a historical coincidence. Egypt and Saudi Arabia recently signed a deal to build a bridge over the Red Sea connecting the two countries, and there have already been a day of protests on April 15. ( "16-Apr-16 World View -- Egypt-Saudi deal for Red Sea bridge triggers massive protests in Cairo")

The deal called for Saudi Arabia to invest $22 billion development projects in Egypt. The deal also called for Egypt to give two disputed Red Sea islands, the Sanafir and Tiran islands, to Saudi Arabia. The coincidence of giving up sovereignty in the two islands just days before the celebration of regaining sovereignty from Israel of the Sinai Peninsula triggered a nationalist fury in many Egyptians.

A petition titled "Egypt is not for sale," which calls for a reversal of the decision on the islands and supports the protests, was signed by more than 300 Egyptian novelists, lawyers and activists. However, the anger of the protesters goes far beyond the loss of the two islands. After the 2011 Arab Awakening, Egyptians had hoped and prayed that a new government would not only bring stability to the country, but would also improve human rights, end abuses by security forces, and end government corruption.

None of these hopes has been realized. The number of jihadist terrorist attacks has been increasing, security forces are as brutal and abusive as ever, and protesters say that government corruption is as bad as ever.

With some activists promoting violence, and with the security forces prepared to respond to violence with violence, it's possible that the protests could spiral out of control and even put al-Sisi's presidency in danger. Al Ahram (Cairo) and Egyptian Streets and AP

Sudan and Tunisia prepare for simultaneous protests in solidarity

Tunisian activists have called for protests in front of the Egyptian Embassy in Tunis on Monday, in solidarity with the protests planned for Cairo. According to the statement, "We reject the arrests carried out recently by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi against the Egyptian people in an attempt to thwart the 25 April movement organized by a group of revolutionary forces in Egypt."

Since Egypt has just given two islands to Saudi Arabia, Sudan is hoping that Egypt will concede in another border dispute. The Halayeb and Shalateen Triangle is part of the shared border between Egypt and Sudan. Egypt says that the 8,000 square mile region has fallen within Egypt's borders since 1820, when Muhammad Ali, the Ottoman ruler of Egypt, put Sudan under his political authority. On the other hand, Sudan says that an 1899 agreement between the two countries grants the region to Sudan. But Egypt points out that a 1909 joint Egyptian-Sudanese map puts the territory inside Egypt. But Sudan points out that Sudan had sovereign control over the region from 1899 to 1958, a period during which Sudan governed the area uninterrupted and without objection.

There have been threats of war over the disputed region, but both sides say that they hope to resolve the dispute through peaceful negotiations. Daily News Egypt and Anadolu (Ankara)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Apr-16 World View -- Largest protests in years planned for Cairo Egypt on Monday thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

24-Apr-16 World View -- Bangladesh in shock after university professor hacked to death

Europe goes on charm offensive with Turkey on migrant deal

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Europe goes on charm offensive with Turkey on migrant deal


EU and Turkish officials surrounded by hot Muslim chicks at Gaziantep, Turkey, refugee camp on Saturday
EU and Turkish officials surrounded by hot Muslim chicks at Gaziantep, Turkey, refugee camp on Saturday

The EU-Turkey migrant deal is receiving a lot of criticism from human rights groups, who claim that it violates international law to send migrants back to Turkey after they'd risked their lives traveling to Greece.

However, Turkey's prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu bragged on Saturday that the EU-Turkey deal had been extremely successful, since it had drastically cut the number of migrants traveling from Turkey to Greece.

Donald Tusk, the president of the European Commission, agreed, and praised Turkey further:

"Today Turkey is the best example for the whole world for how we should treat refugees.

“No one has a right to lecture Turkey on what it should do, I am really proud that you are my partner and I am absolutely sure that we will succeed… We have no other way! ...

The way I see it, Turkey has made good progress ahead of decisions to be taken this summer provided that Turkey meets all the agreed benchmarks."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also praised Turkey, for issuing work permits to refugees, so that they can earn a living. Merkel also reversed an earlier position, and said that she now favors Turkey's proposals to set up "safe zones" in northern Syria where displaced Syrians can live and receive humanitarian aid.

The charm offensive took place on Saturday during a visit to the Nizip refugee camp in Gaziantep province, southeastern Turkey. Merkel and Tusk led a European delegation to visit the camp, and hold a press conference to sell the EU-Turkey migrant deal to doubters.

However, Davutoglu also made clear that the EU-Turkey deal would be canceled if the EU did not fulfill its side of the deal -- easing visa restrictions, so that Turkish citizens can travel freely through Europe's Schengen zone without a visa:

"We see the visa exemption as an inseparable, fundamental part of the EU-Turkey agreement. Readmission agreement applies only with visa exemption."

There are strong voices of opposition to the visa easing within EU member countries. As part of the EU-Turkey deal, the EU committed to removing the visa restriction by June, and so this could become a major political crisis in the next few weeks.

A number of other problems with the EU-Turkey deal remain to be solved. The EU had promised Greece that EU member countries would send a staff of 2,300 experts -- police, case officers, judges, and language interpreters -- to help process asylum requests, and only a few of the staff have arrived. Also, approved Syrian refugees are to be distributed to the EU member countries, but many EU nations are stalling or refusing to accept more migrants. Anadolu Agency (Turkey) and BBC and AP and Anadolu Agency

Bangladesh in shock after university professor hacked to death

Rezaul Karim Siddique, an English professor at Rajshahi University in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, was hacked to death 50 meters from his home, when he went to catch a bus to campus around 7:30 on Saturday morning. The brutal killing was similar to increasingly frequent killings, mainly of secular or atheist bloggers, or any other media people who they believe pose a threat to their fundamentalist Islamic teachings and lifestyle.

The new killing is particularly shocking because Siddique was a religious Muslim, and had not put forward secular or atheistic opinions.

As we reported just three weeks ago, Bangladesh is spawning a new, younger generation of jihadist terrorists who are highly educated and tech-savvy. Leading these terror groups is Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), which has taken responsibility for several hacking deaths.

The ISIS-linked Amaq News Agency posted the following message on its web site:

"Source to Amaq Agency: Islamic State fighters assassinate a university teacher for calling to atheism in the city of Rajshahi in Bangladesh. Amaq Agency"

It's hard to know what to make of this claim, since Bangladesh is geographically very remote from Syria. It's possible that the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) is taking credit for something it didn't do. It's also possible that the murder was perpetrated by ABT or some other jihadist group that was planning to pledge allegiance to ISIS.

However, another news report quotes local police as saying that "Though his murder was initially claimed by Islamist radicals, police later ruled out that possibility. Police said he was murdered as a sequel to personal rivalry." Dhaka Tribune and AP and Amaq Agency (ISIS) and BDNews24 (Dhaka)

FBI offers to help investigate Bangladesh murders

After the murder on April 8 of student activist Nazimuddin Samad, who was hacked and shot to death by three assailants riding motorcycles, the US State Department offered to help, according to spokesman Mark Toner:

"We've offered assistance to the Bangladeshi government, collaboration on the investigations, FBI assistance.

These are horrific attacks. We urge the Bangladeshi authorities to take them very seriously."

In March 2009, the FBI was asked to help investigate an extremely brutal mutilation and massacre of 76 Bangladesh army officers by border guards under their command. ( "(4-March-2009) FBI will aid Bangladesh investigation of border guard officer massacre") In the end, a total of 847 defendants were tried, en masse, and 152 sentenced to hang, with hundreds more facing long jail terms.

Bangladesh's last generational crisis war was the incredibly bloody and brutal 1971 civil war that made the former state of East Pakistan into the independent nation of Bangladesh.

As I wrote in detail in my 2009 article, the war was between two ethnic groups, both Muslim.

One group were the Muslim Biharis ("Urdu-walla" or Urdu speaking) from northern India, a "market-dominant minority," only 12% of the population, controlling the government and major businesses. The other group were the Bengalis, a poor majority, speaking the Bengali language, working at menial tasks in the employ of the Urdu-speaking minority.

So the 2009 massacre was an echo of the 1971 civil war, with the poor, majority, lower-caste ethnic Bengali border guards massacring the market-dominant minority high-caste Biharis.

Now we have a new series of brutal massacres going on. The news reports do not indicate that ethnicity of the people involved, but (going out on a limb) it would seem likely that a college professor was a Bihari, and the murderers were Bengalis. If news reports provide further information supporting or contradicting this assessment, then I'll report it.

Earlier in this article, I quoted a news story that said, "Police said he was murdered as a sequel to personal rivalry." In other words, it's very likely that Saturday's slaughter was related to the 1971 war between Biharis and Bengalis, rather than a jihadist attack by ISIS, and that ISIS was claiming credit for something they had nothing to do with, making them typical politicians.

The FBI has offered to help with the investigation, but this isn't an Agatha Christie murder mystery that can be solved by clever sleuthing, or even a CSI murder mystery that can be solved by running DNA tests. It's something that runs deep in the core of Bangladeshi society, and no real solution exists. VOA and Economist (9-Nov-2013)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Apr-16 World View -- Bangladesh in shock after university professor hacked to death thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

23-Apr-16 World View -- 175 countries sign farcical climate change agreement

S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio rockets to highest value in years

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

175 countries sign farcical climate change agreement


John Kerry and his granddaughter sign the climate change agreement
John Kerry and his granddaughter sign the climate change agreement

175 countries on Friday signed the climate change agreement that was produced a climate change conference in December.

The climate change agreement is total farce for many reasons, including the fact that it's not binding on anyone. The "historic" signing ceremony will be forgotten in a few days, just as December's "historic" climate change conference was forgotten in a few days. There are other things to worry about -- the war in Syria, China's militarization of the South China Sea, Russia's annexation of Crimea, and so forth.

The climate change agreement is more entertainment than anything else. In fact, the main speaker at the signing ceremony: Movie star and entertainer Leonardo DiCaprio. He entertained everyone by making a truly idiotic speech comparing climate change to slavery:

"[Lincoln] was speaking before the U.S. Congress to confront the defining issue of his time: slavery. Remarkably, his words ring as true today when applied to the defining crisis of our time: climate change. ...

After 21 years of debates and conferences, it is time to declare: no more talk, no more excuses, no more 10-year studies, no more allowing the fossil fuel companies to manipulate and dictate the science and policies that affect our future."

Blah, blah, blah, on and on.

Entertainment Weekly and VOA and Guardian

The 'science' of climate change

Just to make things clear, here are some other things wrong with the climate change hysteria:

In his speech, DiCaprio said he was "absolutely terrified" of climate change, but said nothing about being terrified of the far more likely world war. Daily Caller and From Horse Power to Horsepower and The Great Horse Manure Crisis of 1894 and Great Moments in Failed Predictions

President Obama threatens Britain over 'Brexit' referendum

President Obama has moved on to Britain, having completed his task in Saudi Arabia of lecturing the Saudi King that he needs to learn to "share the neighborhood" with Iran. ( "21-Apr-16 World View -- Saudi King Salman snubs Obama - again - as he arrives for Saudi Arabia summit")

In Britain, he discussed the June 23 "Brexit" referendum on whether Britain should leave the European Union. Obama made it clear that he wants Brexit to be rejected, and he threatened the government with regard to the question of a possible US-UK trade agreement if Brexit occurs. According to Obama, referring to the pro-Brexit politicians in Britain:

"They are voicing an opinion about what the United States is going to do, I figured you might want to hear from the president of the United States what I think the United States is going to do.

And on that matter, for example, I think it’s fair to say that maybe some point down the line there might be a UK-US trade agreement, but it’s not going to happen any time soon because our focus is in negotiating with a big bloc, the European Union, to get a trade agreement done.

The UK is going to be in the back of the queue."

Analysts are undecided as to whether Obama's threat helps the pro-Brexit side or the anti-Brexit side. Guardian (London)

Report: China to build floating nuclear power plants in South China Sea

According to Chinese media, the China Shipbuilding Industry Corp is "pushing forward the work" to build floating nuclear power plants in the South China Sea.

China is annexing the entire South China Sea through military means, including regions that have historically belonged to other countries. China has built artificial islands, and is rapidly turning them into large military bases.

However, they need to burn oil or coal for power, and these large military bases are far from home, making transportation costs exorbitant, especially in bad weather. The nuclear power plants would solve the military problem.

Liberal environmentalists rarely criticize China, and are not expected to provide more than perfunctory criticism of this plan, even though an accident could be extremely damaging to the sea life.

A spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry could not comment on the report, since he said that he hadn't read it. Reuters and Gizmodo

S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio rockets to highest value in years


S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio at 24.11 on April 22, indicating a huge and rapidly growing stock market bubble (WSJ)
S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio at 24.11 on April 22, indicating a huge and rapidly growing stock market bubble (WSJ)

As regular readers know, Generational Dynamics predicts that we're headed for a global financial panic and crisis. According to Friday's Wall Street Journal, the S&P 500 Price/Earnings index (stock valuations index) on Friday morning (April 22) was at an astronomically high 24.11. This is far above the historical average of 14, indicating that the stock market is growing quickly, and could burst at any time. Generational Dynamics predicts that the P/E ratio will fall to the 5-6 range or lower, which is where it was as recently as 1982, resulting in a Dow Jones Industrial Average of 3000 or lower.

The rapidly rising P/E ratio is a sure sign of trouble. The last time that the P/E ratio rose above 24 was in April 2008. For the year following, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell about 50% to the 6000s level in May 2009.

As the stock market was falling, the Federal Reserve began its massive quantitative easing program in December 2008, "printing" new money and pumping it into the banking system, from which it went into the stock market. The P/E ratio fell below 24 again in December 2009.

Since then, the Fed has lowered interest rates almost to zero, and there is talk of negative interest rates, which are already the policy in several other countries, with little effect. ( "11-Mar-16 World View -- In desperation move, European Central Bank further lowers negative interest rates")

If you listen to CNBC or Bloomberg TV, as I do for as long as I can stand it, all they talk about is interest rates set by the Fed and other central banks. No one seriously believes any more that the stock market has any relation to the real economy. As long as the Fed pumps money into the stock market, it will go up; if the Fed stops, then it will go down.

The reason that stock valuations are surging is because earnings (the denominator of the P/E ratio) are plummeting. During the first quarter, earnings have declined 8.9%, with the result that the P/E ratio is pushed up.

The stock market bubble is getting larger and larger, and there's going to be a lot of political pressure for the Fed to pump it even larger, especially from the Obama administration in an election year. But there is no bubble in history that hasn't burst, and this one is no exception. The amount of pain that it will cause will be enormous. Factset Earnings Insight (PDF)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Apr-16 World View -- 175 countries sign farcical climate change agreement thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

22-Apr-16 World View -- Britain debates which migrants can vote in the 'Brexit' referendum

France to launch new Israeli-Palestinian peace process on May 30

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

France to launch new Israeli-Palestinian peace process on May 30


French president François Hollande and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas
French president François Hollande and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas

France will launch a new Israeli-Palestinian peace process on May 30, but without involving the Israelis or the Palestinians.

France will invite ministers from 20 countries to the May 30 conference. The goal of the May 30 meeting was to prepare an international summit in the second half of 2016. In that case, Israel and the Palestinians would finally be invited.

According to France's foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, the goal of the May 30 meeting is clear:

"To build a collective commitment of the international community in preparation for paving a diplomatic horizon for peace. It is in everyone’s interest. The guiding principle is also clear and recognized: The two-state solution. I want to return to the guiding principles of this solution, because there is a tendency not to mention them. We are talking about the State of Israel and the state of Palestine living side by side in peace and security, with secure and recognized borders on the basis of the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem their shared capital."

Here we go again. This is essentially the "Mideast Roadmap to Peace" that was offered by President Bush in 2003. As I wrote in May 2003 in "Mideast Roadmap - Will it bring peace?", the plan would not succeed because Generational Dynamics predicts that Arabs and Jews would be refighting the 1948 war that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel.

Since 2003, there have been five Mideast wars: the war between Israelis and Hezbollah, fought largely on Lebanon's soil in 2006; the war between Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah in Gaza in 2008, that led to Hamas control of Gaza; Operation Cast Lead, the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza early in 2009; the two wars between Israel and Hamas in Gaza in November, 2012 and July-August 2014.

Beyond that, the Arab Awakening has destabilized countries all around the Mideast, given rise to the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), and inflamed the sectarian fault lines between Sunnis and Shias from India to Algeria.

But Ayrault is unfazed by all that:

"I did not say it would be easy. The parties are now far apart, maybe more than ever. We have on one side, in Israel, a government that shows more and more ambivalence to the two-state plan... and on the other side the Palestinians, who are not only divided [on this question], but also must address growing anger from their public. And we also have the situation itself — there is no need to mention there have already been two conflicts in six years. Is there an alternative to the plan we are proposing? The only other option is a fatalistic acceptance of conflict. I reject that approach."

So I guess Ayrault will be Pollyannaish, and leave being fatalistic to people like me. Haaretz (Israel) and Al Ahram (Cairo) and Israel National News

Britain debates which migrants can vote in the 'Brexit' referendum

Europeans who have been following the American primary elections have expressed astonishment and puzzlement over the complexity of America's election laws. However, they might wish to take a look at the UK elections laws for the June 23 referendum that will decide "Brexit," whether Britain will exit from the European Union.

Nominally, British and Irish citizens will be permitted to vote "yes" or "no" in the referendum. But this simple formula is complicated by two issues.

The first issue is migrants from other countries who are living in Britain. The rule is that even if the migrant is not British or Irish citizen, he can still vote in the referendum, provided that he's from one of the Commonwealth countries. When the British Empire broke up after World War II, it was replaced by the British Commonwealth of Nations, consisting mostly of former British colonies. The Queen is still nominally the head of state for the Commonwealth countries.

I listed the 53 countries in the Commonwealth and some of the controversies surrounding the Commonwealth in a 2007 article, "Pakistan is suspended from the British Commonwealth of Nations".

So this rule has quite a few anomalies. A migrant from France or Italy working in Britain would not be eligible to vote in the referendum. But a migrant from Australia, Bangladesh, Jamaica, Kenya, the Bahamas, Uganda or Zambia would be eligible to vote in the referendum. The only two European countries that are in the Commonwealth are Malta and Cyprus, and so migrants from those countries would be eligible to vote.

Obviously, this situation is raising complaints. According to Lord Green, the founder of the campaign group Migration Watch UK:

"Of course we are not opposed to Commonwealth citizens who are also British citizens having a vote. But if they are not yet British or have decided not to become British it is surely wrong that they should be able to."

The total number of Commonwealth migrants potentially eligible to vote in the referendum is 1.3 million, a number large enough to possibly affect the referendum results.

I said that there were two issues, and the second issue has to do with migration in the other direction. According to the "15 year rule," a citizen of Britain who is living and working in another country is eligible to vote in the referendum only if he's lived in Britain at some time in the last 15 years.

The referendum highlights a particular problem for expats living in another EU country. British citizens living in the EU are also EU citizens, and can live and work in other countries, retire there, and receive health care free at the point of use, paid for by Britain's National Health Service (NHS).

Estimates are that there are 1-2 million expats in this category who moved into another EU country more than 15 years ago. They're unable to vote in the referendum, even though a Brexit "yes" vote could leave them in limbo, because they'd lose their EU citizenship. CNBC and Telegraph (London) and Express (London)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Apr-16 World View -- Britain debates which migrants can vote in the 'Brexit' referendum thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

21-Apr-16 World View -- Saudi King Salman snubs Obama - again - as he arrives for Saudi Arabia summit

President Obama to 'clean up leftover messes' in the Mideast

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Saudi King Salman snubs Obama - again - as he arrives for Saudi Arabia summit


President Obama and Saudi King Salman in the Erga Palace in Riyadh on Wednesday (AP)
President Obama and Saudi King Salman in the Erga Palace in Riyadh on Wednesday (AP)

In May of last year, President Obama invited the leaders of the Arab nations in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to a meeting at Camp David. Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud snubbed Obama by not attending the meeting. ( "15-May-15 World View -- Obama repudiates the Carter doctrine at bizarre GCC meeting")

Now King Salman has snubbed Obama once again, this time in an even more embarrassing manner, as Obama arrived in Riyadh on Wednesday on Air Force One. King Salman was not there to greet him. Instead, a lower-level official greeted him. Saudi state television did not show Obama's arrival live, but did provide live coverage of the arrival of other Gulf nation leaders -- being greeted by King Salman.

Relations have been worsening ever since President Obama took office, especially when Obama appeared to throw Hosni Mubarak under the bus during the 2011 Arab Awakening. (See "21-May-11 News -- Saudi Arabia advances Gulf Cooperation Council, further cuts U.S. ties.")

Last year, Obama referred to Saudi Arabia as a "so-called ally," because of its opposition to the Iran nuclear deal. Recently, the Saudis were deeply offended when Obama characterized some of his allies as "free riders." ( "15-Mar-16 World View -- Saudi's Prince Faisal sharply rebukes Obama's 'free riders' accusation")

No one should be surprised at all that the Saudis have snubbed and embarrassed Obama twice in two years. Washington Times and CNN

President Obama to 'clean up leftover messes' in the Mideast

According to a WSJ article that I quoted in July of last year, Obama saw the deal with Iran as a kind of "gateway" to solve all the problems in the Mideast:

"The White House is crafting a Middle East strategy for the remaining 18 months of President Barack Obama’s term that would more forcefully address conflicts in Iraq, Yemen and Syria amid tensions over the conclusion of talks with Iran. ...

[S]enior administration officials said the president is intent on cleaning up leftover messes in the region before leaving office in 2017, including relations with key allies that have been strained by the Iran talks."

And this is no joke. Just last week, US Secretary of State was in Kabul Afghanistan, lecturing government leaders how to run their governments. That was just a couple of days before the massive terrorist explosion in Kabul. ( "12-Apr-16 World View -- Troubles mount for Afghanistan government as US withdrawal looms")

So President Obama has been in office for 7-1/2 years, and he apparently believes that he's been so skillful in governing America that he now feels qualified to lecture leaders of any country in the world on what they're doing wrong.

According to reports, that's what he did on Wednesday in his meetings with King Salman in Saudi Arabia. Reports indicate that Obama raised the following issues:

People always criticize me when I criticize Obama, but if these reports are true, then this is about the dumbest thing I've every seen.

The Saudis see Iran as an existential threat. As we've been pointing out for two years, analysts note that the Saudis feel surround by the "Shia Crescent," with Iran dominating control of four capitals -- Tehran Iran, Damascus Syria, Beirut Lebanon (thanks to the Iran-sponsored terror group Hezbollah), and Sanaa Yemen. A fifth under partial control is Baghdad Iraq. Telling the Saudis to "share the neighborhood" with Iran is absurd and offensive.

From the point of view of the Saudis, every one of Obama's "suggestions" makes the situation much worse. The nuclear deal with Iran has removed sanctions and given Iran hundreds of billions of dollars more money to use in sponsoring wars and terrorist acts. Exiting the war in Yemen would give complete control to the Iran-supported Houthis. Apparently Obama has no grasp of any of this, as shown by the fact that the Saudi king has repeatedly snubbed Obama.

Obama supposedly believes that this trip will soothe Saudi-US relations, but it will probably only make relations worse. The Arab world is furious at Obama. Obama's "free riders" statement alone sparked hundreds of scathing articles against him in the Gulf press. Well, we'll be watching to see which country and which leader Obama will be lecturing to next.

However, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this growing US-Saudi estrangement is exactly consistent with what Generational Dynamics has been predicting for years, as I explained in detail in "15-Jul-15 World View -- Arab views of Iran nuclear deal": In the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, the US, India, Russia and Iran would be allies opposing China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the Sunni Muslim countries. BBC and Washington Post and Bloomberg and Memri

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Apr-16 World View -- Saudi King Salman snubs Obama - again - as he arrives for Saudi Arabia summit thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

20-Apr-16 World View -- Afghan Taliban launches 'Spring Fighting Season' with massive Kabul explosion

Turkey threatens to cancel migrant deal unless visa restrictions are lifted by June

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Afghan Taliban launches 'Spring Fighting Season' with massive Kabul explosion


Aftermath of Tuesday's terror bombing in Kabul Afghanistan
Aftermath of Tuesday's terror bombing in Kabul Afghanistan

Afghanistan's Taliban announced last week the beginning of its "Spring Fighting Season," and launched it on Tuesday with a massive attack on a government security agency on Kabul. The attack combined a suicide car bomb with gunfire, killing 28 people and wounding at least 327.

The attack comes with Afghanistan's government in total chaos, because of the bitter feud between President Ashraf Ghani and the country's chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah. Last week, US Secretary of State John Kerry made a surprise trip to Kabul to instruct Ghani, Abdullah, and the other the politicians on how to run their government. ( "12-Apr-16 World View -- Troubles mount for Afghanistan government as US withdrawal looms")

Putting the best face on it, Ghani said the attack "clearly shows the enemy's defeat in face-to-face battle with Afghan security forces." However, those results have clearly been fixed, with the Afghan scoring military successes in the northern part of the vast country, while the Taliban have been gaining ground in Helmand Province.

For American policy and President Obama's administration, there is one major conundrum: Does the US continue its policy of withdrawing forces from Afghanistan, risking a total collapse in security as happened in Iraq? Or does the US reverse policy and add forces to Afghanistan, thus reneging on Obama's previous commitments? AP and Daily Times (Pakistan) and AFP

China tests its DF-41 long-range nuclear missile with multiple warheads

China conducted another flight test of its newest and longest-range intercontinental ballistic missile last week. The flight test of the new road-mobile DF-41 missile took place Tuesday with two multiple, independently targetable reentry vehicles, or MIRVs. This means that a single missile could deliver a nuclear weapon to two separate targets.

As we wrote three weeks ago ( "1-Apr-16 World View -- China close to deploying very long range DF-41 missile"), it's believed that a fully-deployed DF-41 will be able to carry up to 10 MIRVs. A DF-41 can travel over the Pacific Ocean and strike any city in the western US, or travel over the North Pole and strike any city in the eastern US, in each case within about half an hour. China has the manufacturing capacity to produce hundreds of these missiles, and clearly is preparing for war and planning to use them. Washington Free Beacon

Turkey threatens to cancel migrant deal unless visa restrictions are lifted by June

Tensions are increasing quickly over a crucial provision of the EU-Turkey migrant deal, whose purpose is to slow the flow of migrants traveling from Turkey to Greece by means of a provision that permits Greece to return migrants back to Turkey.

In return for the migrant deal, the EU made several commitments to Turkey:

The June deadline for visa-free travel is quickly approaching. On Monday, Turkey's prime minister Ahmed Davutoglu bluntly warned that the migrant deal will be off if visa liberalization is not implemented:

"This is a mutual commitment.

If the EU cannot take the necessary steps required of it then of course it cannot be expected of Turkey to take these steps.

I maintain my belief that, God willing, we will have the visa exemption in June. In the absence of that, then of course no one can expect Turkey to adhere to its commitments."

Turkey must meet 72 criteria by May for the visa liberalization to be granted. Davutoglu says that 44 of the criteria have already been met, and the rest will be met by May.

However, a new report by the European Parliament appears to contradict Davutoglu's claim. The report is extremely critical of the situation of basic rights and freedoms in Turkey. It is also heavily critical regarding a number of other significant issues, including the situation in Syria, rule of law, the situation with the armed Kurdish opposition, the negotiations on Cyprus, independence of the judiciary, freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and the normalization of relations with Armenia.

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at the report:

"The European Union needs Turkey more than Turkey needs the European Union.

Three million people have been looked after in this country so they don't disturb the Europeans. Is there anything about this in the report?

At a time when our relations with the European Union are in a positive phase regarding the migrants... it is provocative to come out with a report like that."

There's a great deal of opposition in the EU to visa-free travel by Turkish citizens, so this issue is expected to become a crisis next month. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Daily Sabah (Istanbul) and AFP

Violence surges in Syria as 'peace talks' collapse becomes official

"Moderate" rebel groups opposed to Syria's president Bashar al-Assad have once again said that they will not negotiate on a "political solution" unless al-Assad is to be removed from power. They made this official on Tuesday by pulling out of the Geneva peace talks.

There was supposed to have been a cease-fire since February 27, but firing never actually ceased, and now violence is escalating sharply in several regions, especially around Aleppo, which the Syrian army is attempting to recapture from rebels with the help of massive airstrikes.

Before the Russian military intervened last year, Syria's army was close to defeat for several reasons, but especially because of large numbers of defections and desertions. This situation has not changed, even with al-Assad's own Alawite sect. ( "4-Apr-16 World View -- Syria's Alawites threaten to abandon Bashar al-Assad")

Now that much of Russia's military has withdrawn, there are reports that al-Assad's army is again losing ground in some regions. Al-Qaeda linked militias, the Islamic Party of Turkestan and Jund al-Aqsa, on Monday captured strategic positions in Syria’s central province of Hama. Vice News and ARA News (Syria)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Apr-16 World View -- Afghan Taliban launches 'Spring Fighting Season' with massive Kabul explosion thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

19-Apr-16 World View -- In a new catastrophe, hundreds of migrants drown in the Mediterranean Sea

Israel's Netanyahu vows revenge for terrorist bombing in Jerusalem

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel's Netanyahu vows revenge for terrorist bombing in Jerusalem


Two burnt out buses following terrorist explosion in Jerusalem on Monday
Two burnt out buses following terrorist explosion in Jerusalem on Monday

The first Jerusalem terrorist bus bombing in year injured at least 21 people, two seriously, on Monday during rush hour. Police confirmed that a bomb exploded in one bus carrying passengers. It set a car and a second empty bus on fire, injuring more people.

The police did not disclose whether the explosion was caused by a suicide bomber or by a planted device. No terrorist group has claimed responsibility.

Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed revenge:

"We will find out who placed the bomb, we will reach those who dispatched them and we will also get to those who stand behind them, and settle the account with these terrorists,"

Attacks on Israeli buses by suicide bombers, many of them claimed by Hamas, occurred frequently during the Palestinian intifada between 2000-2005, but have been rare since. The last one was carried out in 2012 in Tel Aviv. Times of Israel and Vice News

Mahmoud Abbas lobbies to revive international interest in Palestinians

For years, the major international news stories were about the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, whether it was a war in Gaza, endless rounds of peace talks, or new Israeli settlements in the West Bank. These stories eclipsed almost everything else.

Then the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) came on the scene, beheading people, destroying ancient art, or perpetrating terrorist acts in Europe, and since then, the Palestinian-Israeli issues have all but disappeared from the international news pages, frustrating Palestinian leaders.

In an interview conducted prior to Monday's bombing in Jerusalem, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said that the Palestinian issue must be solved, because terrorists use the issue as a cover for their terrorist attacks in Europe and elsewhere. With regard to Palestinian attacks on Israelis, he blames them on "violence" by the Israelis:

"Of course we notice that the instability of the whole region is having an effect on interest in the Palestinian issue. But the world must not forget us. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be solved first. Many terrorists use the conflict as a cover. They claim that they are supporting our struggle. But this is not true. We condemn their deeds. But if we don't find a solution to the conflict soon, I fear the violence of these terrorists groups will spread and affect us in our territories and in Israel. ...

This is not an intifada. We have to understand why these young people are committing such attacks. This generation experiences the violence and humiliation of the occupation on a daily basis. And they experience how more and more settlers are coming to occupy their land. If Israel stops this, no child will take a knife to attack Israelis."

It's not clear to me what the "this" is that Israel can stop, yielding the result that "no child will take a knife to attack Israelis," but that's completely untrue. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, what we're seeing is that young Palestinians see Mahmoud Abbas and others in his generation as being full of crap, in the same way that young people in America think that everyone in my generation is full of crap. There is nothing that Israel can do to stop the knife attacks, and the only reason that they haven't yet grown into a larger conflict is that 81 year old Abbas has been able to use his influence to control the situation. Once he retires, and someone from a younger generation takes power, things should become much worse.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, I wrote in May 2003 in "Mideast Roadmap - Will it bring peace?" that Generational Dynamics predicts that Arabs and Jews would be refighting the 1948 war that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. Der Spiegel

In a new catastrophe, hundreds of migrants drown in the Mediterranean Sea

It's believed that up to 500 migrants died during the night early Monday morning, when their boat capsized in the middle of the Mediterranean sea. There have been various stories about how the human traffickers transferred 200 migrants from one sinking boat into another boat that already contained 350 migrants. The second boat capsized in the middle of the sea, leaving only 41 survivors. The survivors are from Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and Egypt. They were taken on a cargo ship to Greece, but according to some reports, they did not want to leave the cargo ship in Greece, because they wanted to go to Italy.

A year ago, I wrote "20-Apr-15 World View -- Europe considers military action in Libya as migrant drownings accelerate", in which I wrote:

"It seems that every three or four days there's a new catastrophe in the Mediterranean Sea, involving migrants traveling by boat from Libya to Italy. On Tuesday, 400 migrants drowned when their boat capsized. On Thursday, 41 more drowned after a shipwreck. And late on Saturday, 700 people may have drowned when a small fishing boat capsized 60 miles south of the Italian island of Lampedusa."

Those drownings were earth-shattering for European Union policy, as they prompted EU government to take action to stop the drownings, and to stop the uncontrolled flows of refugees across the Mediterranean.

Now that a year has passed, and the problem has not been solved, and has gotten worse. In March 2015, 2,283 migrants made the sea crossing from Libya to Italy. In March 2016, the number of 9,600, more than four times as many.

A year ago, there was talk of EU military action in Libya. Such military action didn't take place because it would have required either a Security Council resolution or an invitation from Libya's non-existent government, neither of which was available.

The rise of ISIS in Libya has made EU military action more urgent. David Cameron's government in Britain has announced that it will send 1,000 troops to Libya as part of an EU force, even if it's opposed by Parliament. Italy, Libya's former colonial power, has said publicly it is willing to send some 5,000 personnel to Libya. Any EU military action would require US intelligence and logistics. BBC and Reuters and Telegraph (London)

China's bond market starts to unravel

I've always liked to point out that as bad as America's economy is, China's is far worse, thanks to huge debt-funded bubbles that could implode at any time, creating a chain reaction of bankruptcies.

During the past ten days, there's been a massive selloff in China of corporate bonds denoted in China's yuan currency. Local issuers have canceled 60.6 billion yuan ($9.4 billion) of bond sales in April alone, while Standard & Poor’s is cutting its assessment of Chinese firms at a pace unseen since 2003.

China's government always responds to every financial problem in the same way: "Print" massive amounts of new money by purchasing debt from companies. But that solution is running out, as seven Chinese companies reneged on bond obligations this year. Three of those were part-owned by China’s government, seen not long ago as a provider of implicit guarantees for bondholders.

Bond yields (interest rates) have been increasing rapidly in the last few days, though still below historical levels. However, increased bond yields mean that new debt is more expensive, making it harder and harder for a Chinese CEO to use his MasterCard to pay his Visa bill. Bloomberg

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Apr-16 World View -- In a new catastrophe, hundreds of migrants drown in the Mediterranean Sea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

18-Apr-16 World View -- Latest Syria 'peace process' collapses, as chemical weapons kill Hezbollah militias

Saudi Arabia ends oil summit negotiations as Iran fails to show up

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Massive earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador are linked by the Ring of Fire


The Ring of Fire (US Geological Survey)
The Ring of Fire (US Geological Survey)

Japan and Ecuador are oceans apart -- in fact they're separated by the entire Pacific Ocean. But in the last week, they have something in common: massive earthquakes.

On Saturday, a magnitude-7.3 earthquake struck southern Japan, after another earthquake struck the same region on Thursday night. Three people were killed and hundreds were injured.

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake, six times as powerful as the Japan earthquake, struck Ecuador on Saturday, killing hundreds of people and injuring thousands.

What these earthquakes have in common is that they're all on the "Ring of Fire," a long chain of volcanoes and other tectonically active structures that surround the Pacific Ocean. The chain runs up along the western coast of South and North America, crosses over the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, runs down the eastern coast of Asia past New Zealand and into the northern coast of Antarctica.

There are more than 450 active and dormant volcanoes located within the Ring of Fire. Approximately 90% of the most powerful volcanic eruptions and about 81% of the world’s largest earthquakes have occurred along the Ring of Fire. Earthsky Communications and BBC and Reuters and Earthsky Communications

Syria chemical weapons accidentally kill Hezbollah militias

According to a diplomatic source quoted in Kuwaiti media, dozens of fighters in Hezbollah militias were killed last week when the Syrian air force warplanes, under the command of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, bombed the Hezbollah fighters with chemical weapons. According to the report, those Hezbollah fighters who survived had chemical burn marks on their bodies. The report does not specify what chemical weapons were used. The regime war planes undoubted had intended to target women and children in Sunni neighborhoods, but accidentally targeted the Hezbollah militias.

According to the diplomatic source:

"It is not the first time that coordination problems have arisen between the military police and the Russian military, Hezbollah and Iran. Incidents like this have happened repeatedly since the Russian forces entered into the conflict.

What happened in Aleppo demonstrates an impending problem in regards to cooperation on the ground and the incident again brings up the issue of attacks on innocent people with unconventional weapons.

The lack of coordination between the supporting forces and Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces is troubling to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was not updated about the incident."

President Obama had once said that a "red line" would be Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons. After al-Assad used Sarin gas and Obama flip-flopped, there was a face-saving measure to get an agreement to remove all of al-Assad's chemical weapons from Syria. Nobody seriously believed that al-Assad wouldn't find a way to retain a secret stockpile of chemical weapons, and that clearly happened. Al-Assad's air force has regularly used barrel bombs indiscriminately dropped on Sunni neighborhoods. The barrel bombs contain explosives, metals and chemical weapons, and are designed to inflict as much pain on civilian neighborhoods as possible. This new report confirms that al-Assad is using chemical weapons freely, every day, and with compute impunity, fully supported by Russia and Iran.

Bashar al-Assad has repeatedly humiliated and made a fool of President Obama, but I suppose that one could enjoy a little Schadenfreude now that al-Assad's chemical weapons have now been used on his own allies. Jerusalem Post and Jewish Press

Latest Syrian 'peace process' appears near collapse

Members of the "moderate" Syrian opposition to the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad said on Sunday that since the Syrian army was not honoring what is supposed to be a cease-fire, then rebel groups should not do so either, and they urged rebels to strike back against the Syrian army. The so-called "cease-fire" was never more than a ruse by the regime and the Russians as a cover to continue fighting and gaining ground, and now even the pretense of a cease-fire is apparently at an end.

I've been writing about various peace plans and peace talks ever since the conflict began in 2011. The following is what I wrote on March 12, 2012:

"It's becoming increasingly apparent to everybody that Bashar al-Assad has made fools of the Arab League, the U.N. and the west in general, by succeeding in killing, mutilating and exterminating thousands of his own innocent Arab civilians under the everybody's noses, and they couldn't do a damn thing about it. Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, runs around like a chicken with his head cut off, saying, "This has got to stop! This has got to stop." He's been parroting those words for a year. And Kofi Annan, the virulently anti-American former Secretary-General of the United Nations from Ghana, sounds like an idiot when he travels to Damascus and tells everyone in the West to leave poor Bashar alone, or he'll make things worse for everyone. The U.N. sent their emergency aid chief, Valerie Amos, to Syria to check out Homs, which has been the subject of a full scale army attack on residential neighborhoods for the last few weeks. Al-Assad's troops cleaned up the dead bodies and debris from the portion of Homs that they wanted her to see, and she said how "concerned" she is about what happened to the people. Activists ridiculed her visit and one said, "To tell the truth, we know that Valerie Amos is useless. We have had one year of killing, shooting and bombing and nobody has moved a finger.""

Annan formulated a farcical six-point 'peace plan' which said absolutely nothing, but which al-Assad used as a cover to continue exterminating innocent Sunni women and children with impunity. After Kofi Annan was repeatedly humiliated by Bashar al-Assad, the UN appointed a new Syria peace envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, to replace Kofi Annan. Brahimi wasn't as much of an idiot as Annan was, but he still resigned in disgust in May 2014, after it became clear that al-Assad really had no desire to do anything but exterminate Sunni civilians. After that, Secretary of State John Kerry stumbled around the Mideast, making one idiotic SNL-worthy speech after another.

This year, after the Russians intervened militarily, there have been several new attempts at peace plans. But as I've written several times, these peace plan made absolutely no sense whatsoever for obvious reasons -- Russia and Syria will continue bombing what they claim are terrorist groups, which are pretty much all Sunnis in Syria, and the plan would not apply to the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) and the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front). In fact, the peace plans have actually worsened the hostilities, since they provided cover for substantially increased bombing and fighting from all groups.

There's a very good reason why one peace plan after another fails. And that's because Bashar al-Assad is a psychopathic genocidal monster whose objective is to exterminate all Sunni Muslims as if they were cockroaches. These are almost his own words. He's repeatedly said he will never step down, and that he will continue to exterminate all "terrorists" -- by which he means all Sunnis. ( "12-Feb-16 World View -- US and Russia agree to a farcical 'cessation of hostilities' in Syria")

The conflict in Syria is one of the greatest humanitarian disasters of recent times. According to a recent report by the Syrian Center for Policy Research, an independent think tank, about 470,000 Syrians have lost their lives due to the war, directly and indirectly, so far. Around 45 per cent of the country’s population of 23 million have been displaced, 6.4 million internally and more than 5 million abroad. In all, 11.5 per cent of Syria’s population has been killed or injured since the crisis erupted in March 2011. (Paragraph corrected. 19-Apr)

None of this really mattered to the West, as long as the refugees were pouring into neighboring states -- Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey. But now there's a lot of desperation in Europe because of the Syria war, mainly because over a million of those refugees have flooded into Europe. That's why Western government was grasp at almost any hope, no matter how tenuous, that the Syrian war can be resolved with "peace talks" in Geneva. But as long as Bashar al-Assad is in power and able to exterminate Sunni civilians with impunity, then there will never be a solution. Reuters and Indian Express and Huffington Post

Saudi Arabia ends oil summit negotiations as Iran fails to show up

An oil summit in Doha by members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was supposed to come to an agreement to limit production of oil, in order to force oil prices to increase. Iran has repeatedly said that it would not limit its own production, as it's only recently had sanctions lifted. The sanctions restricted Iran's oil production.

Oil prices (futures) plunged 5-6% immediately on early trading in Asia on Monday morning, news, from around $40 per barrel to around $38 a barrel.

Oil prices last year fell below $30 per barrel, for two main reasons: reduction in demand from China, and the shale oil production boom in the United States. The fall in prices has caused many shale oil rigs to shut down, and oil prices have been rising for the last nine months. Even so, the world is still producing about 1.25 million barrels of oil per day more than required, and so oil prices may fall sharply again in the next few weeks. Market Watch and Reuters and Bloomberg

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Apr-16 World View -- Latest Syria 'peace process' collapses, as chemical weapons kill Hezbollah militias thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

17-Apr-16 World View -- Saudi Arabia threatens economic retaliation if blamed for 9/11 attacks

Cuba's reactionary Raúl Castro tries to hold back the 'restoration of capitalism'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Cuba's reactionary Raúl Castro tries to hold back the 'restoration of capitalism'


Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro

Cuba's president Raúl Castro admitted Saturday that micro, small and medium-sized private companies have proliferated since Cuba's 2010 economic reforms, but warned that this does not in any way imply the "restoration of capitalism." In making this announcement, Castro is trying desperately to hold back the tides of history, an attempt that will surely fail.

In 2010, Cuba's president Fidel Castro announced that Cuba's bureaucracy had become so bloated that the government would lay off 500,000 workers in the public sector. According to the announcement:

"Our state neither can nor should continue to burden companies and productive organizations with services and inflated budgets that weigh down the economy, are counterproductive, create bad habits and distort the behavior of workers."

Those workers would have to form private businesses or work for other people's private businesses. The announcement was effectively the end of socialism for Cuba. (See "16-Sep-10 News -- Cuba's seismic shift has global implications")

Now, over five years later, those 500,000 laid off workers did create numerous private businesses, many of which are succeeding. So Castro's announcement on Saturday is not only anti-historical, but silly.

Karl Marx's theories said that capitalism had built within it the seeds of its own destruction, and that it would also be replaced by the dictatorship of the proletariat, and then by socialism. Not only has that never happened, but the opposite has happened. Whether in East Germany, Russia, China, North Korea or Cuba, socialism has always been imposed over a river of blood and tens of millions of dead bodies of people who had to be killed to create the socialist paradise. As the communists like to say, you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet.

In fact, it's socialism that contains the seeds to its own destruction. In recent times, we've seen a total collapse of socialism in East Germany and Russia, and in China a collapse into "capitalistic socialism," which is actually Fascism.

As I wrote in my 2010 article, one can prove mathematically that socialism must always fail as population grows. If you're a serf lord or a war lord and you control a couple of hundred people, then socialism is easy. You just appoint your son to be chief bureaucrat, and have him monitor all commercial transactions. But as population grows exponentially, the number of transactions that have to be monitored grows exponentially even faster, and so the number of bureaucrats required to enforce socialism grows faster than the population. That's why all the socialist countries in the last century got stuck in the 1950s, and why North Korea today is still stuck in the 1950s.

Cuba was stuck in the 1950s, as was apparent from the fact that all the cars in Cuba were 1950s cars from America. The number of bureaucrats necessary to enforce socialism had grown so large that it was getting out of control. That's why the 2010 announcement was that 500,000 people would be laid off and allowed to create their own private businesses.

In country after country where socialism has been tried, it's been accomplished by means of huge bloody massacres in generational Crisis eras, and in the countries we've mentioned it's collapsed bloodlessly during generational Unraveling eras. Cuba is in a generational Unraveling era today. The only thing holding socialism together today is that Fidel and Raúl Castro are still alive and still running things. But Raúl Castro is 84 years old, and he's promised to retire soon, so socialism will not last much longer in Cuba. Agencia EFE (Madrid) and Cuban News Agency (ACN)

Saudi Arabia threatens economic retaliation if blamed for 9/11 attacks


New York's World Trade Center, prior to the 9/11 attack
New York's World Trade Center, prior to the 9/11 attack

Saudi Arabia is threatening to sell of hundreds of billions of dollars worth of American assets if a bill becomes law that would allow the Saudi government to be held responsible in U.S. courts for any role in the September 11, 2001, attacks.

The 9/11 Commission Report, published during the Bush administration, found "no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organization." That very careful wording leaves open the possibility that some less-than-senior Saudi politicians supported or funded the 9/11 attacks.

However, the final chapter of the report, now known as the mysterious "28 pages," was left out of the public version of the report, for reasons of "national security" that both the Bush and Obama administrations have supported. Activists are claiming that the "28 pages" contain evidence of the guilt of the Saudi government, and they're demanding that they be declassified.

Families of the victims are going further and demanding that Congress pass a bill that would permit them to sue the Saudi government and recover damages for the 9/11 attacks. Congress is now debating such a bill, though it's opposed by the Obama administration.

The Saudis are threatening revenge, saying that if that bill becomes law, then they'll sell of $750 billion in American treasury securities and other US assets. They have threatened to do this quickly, before the US courts could freeze these assets. Selling the assets would, in effect, immunize the Saudis from the lawsuits, or at least from having to pay damages if they lose the lawsuits.

This is just one more thing that's worsening relations between Saudi Arabia and the United States. Relations have been worsening ever since President Obama took office, especially when Obama appeared to throw Hosni Mubarak under the bus during the 2011 Arab Awakening. (See "21-May-11 News -- Saudi Arabia advances Gulf Cooperation Council, further cuts U.S. ties.")

As I've been writing for years, Generational Dynamics predicts that in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, the US, India, Russia and Iran would be allies opposing China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the Sunni Muslim countries. CNN and The Sun (London) and The 9/11 Commission Report (PDF)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Apr-16 World View -- Saudi Arabia threatens economic retaliation if blamed for 9/11 attacks thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

16-Apr-16 World View -- Egypt-Saudi deal for Red Sea bridge triggers massive protests in Cairo

Czech Republic debates adopting the short name 'Czechia'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Egypt-Saudi deal for Red Sea bridge triggers massive protests in Cairo


Egyptian protesters hold a sign that says 'Awad sold his land', an old proverb expressing the shame of giving up two islands to Saudi Arabia (VOA)
Egyptian protesters hold a sign that says 'Awad sold his land', an old proverb expressing the shame of giving up two islands to Saudi Arabia (VOA)

Thousands of Egyptians demonstrated in central Cairo on Friday against president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi in the biggest anti-government protests since al-Sisi's coup that ousted the Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohammed Morsi.

The trigger for the riots was the joint plan by Egypt and Saudi Arabia to build a bridge across the Red Sea, but the riots were not triggered by the bridge plan itself, but by other terms of the same deal that we described in "10-Apr-16 World View -- Egypt, Saudi Arabia to build a huge bridge where Moses parted the Red Sea"

The part of the deal that's triggering the demonstrations was that a long-standing dispute over two islands in the Strait of Tiran, the Sanafir and Tiran islands, was resolved by Egypt giving up sovereignty and turning the islands over the Saudi Arabia.

At the same time, Saudi Arabia agreed to invest $22 billion in development projects in Egypt to help its ailing economy, though Saudi Arabia is not offering "free money" this time because Saudi Arabia's economy is also ailing because of collapsing oil prices.

Protesters on Friday chanted, "Awad sold his land!", an allusion to the villagers' taunts in a popular 1960s radio play of a man who sold his plot of farmland — an act that in the past was equated with dishonor in rural Egypt.

Egypt's best known political satirist, self-exiled Bassem Youssef, mimicked the shouts of Egyptian street hawkers selling souvenirs to foreign tourists by tweeting, "Here, here, Pasha, one island for a billion, a pyramid for two and I will throw two statues on top,"

However, the chants by the protesters went beyond the island issue to calling for the downfall of the government. Egyptians had hoped that al-Sisi's presidency would bring an economic upturn, but the economy has continued to worsen. The protests weren't as big as the 2011 protests that brought down Mubarak, but they're similar, and new protests are planned for April 25. The crowds dispersed later in the day, although Egyptian security forces detained about 50 protesters. Al-Ahram (Cairo) and AP and AFP

Migrant traffic from Libya to Italy surges

Only a few hundred migrants entered Europe via Greece this week, but almost 6,000 migrants and refugees have sailed from Libya towards Italy in the past three days in what appears the start of a wave of at least 100,000 and "possibly many, many more" this year, the International Organization for Migration said on Friday.

The Italian Coast Guard has become extremely efficient at saving migrants from drowning, and some people are complaining that it's become so efficient that many more migrants are encouraged to make the trip, thus making Europe's migrant crisis even worse. Reuters

Czech Republic debates adopting the short name 'Czechia'

After years of debate, leaders of the Czech Republic are supporting "Czechia" as the shortened name for the counted. According to President Milos Zeman in 2013, "I use the term Czechia because it’s shorter and not so cold like the term Czech Republic."

Other politicians object to the name for several reasons, including the fact that the new name will be confused with the name "Chechnya," one of Russia's provinces in the Northern Caucasus.

In fact, even without the new name, that's exactly what did happen in 2013 after the Boston Marathon bombing. The two Boston Marathon bombers had origins in Chechnya, but many bloggers got confused, as I reported in "21-Apr-13 World View -- American bloggers confuse 'Chechnya' with 'Czech Republic'".

In order to allay the confusion at the time, Czech Ambassador Petr Gandalovic posted the following message on the web site for the Czech embassy in Washington:

"As many I was deeply shocked by the tragedy that occurred in Boston earlier this month. It was a stark reminder of the fact that any of us could be a victim of senseless violence anywhere at any moment.

As more information on the origin of the alleged perpetrators is coming to light, I am concerned to note in the social media a most unfortunate misunderstanding in this respect. The Czech Republic and Chechnya are two very different entities - the Czech Republic is a Central European country; Chechnya is a part of the Russian Federation.

As the President of the Czech Republic Milos Zeman noted in his message to President Obama, the Czech Republic is an active and reliable partner of the United States in the fight against terrorism. We are determined to stand side by side with our allies in this respect, there is no doubt about that."

Now, with regard to adopting the short name Czechia, one opposition MP said: "It is certainly not a good idea. I think that we are known as the Czech Republic, though for some further away its still rather often Czechoslovakia in spite of the fact we are now the Czech Republic." Radio Prague and Washington Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Apr-16 World View -- Egypt-Saudi deal for Red Sea bridge triggers massive protests in Cairo thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

15-Apr-16 World View -- Russians brag about 'aerobatic skills' of Russian pilots buzzing US ship

US Navy conducting joint patrols with Philippines in South China Sea

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Nigeria's Boko Haram releases 'proof of life' video of abducted Chibok girls


Screen grab from Boko Haram video.  I think that this is the saddest picture that I've ever posted.  (CNN)
Screen grab from Boko Haram video. I think that this is the saddest picture that I've ever posted. (CNN)

This is two-year anniversary of the abduction by Boko Haram of 276 girls from their college dormitory in the village of Chibok in Nigeria. Boko Haram has now released a video of 15 of the girls, shot on Christmas day 2015. The video provides "proof of life" in order for Boko Haram to gain negotiating leverage in its extortion negotiations with the government,

Parents who viewed the video confirmed that they were the Chibok girls. Those who saw their own daughters were relieved that their daughters were alive, but distressed at the circumstances.

It's unlikely that all 276 girls could ever be returned, as it's thought that some have been sold as slaves and others have been used as suicide bombers.

But most of all, the video has caused renewed outrage in Nigeria at the way the government responded to the abduction. For a couple of weeks after the abduction occurred, it seemed that nobody particularly cared, not the government of Nigeria, and not the international community. (See "2-May-14 World View -- New car bombing in Nigeria, while 200 kidnapped girls are still missing") Then an international campaign began, with Michele Obama's participation. But now, two years later, no girls have been recovered, and some people in Nigeria have stated in the past that Nigeria's government was so incompetent at dealing with Boko Haram that it's possible that some government officials are Boko Haram supporters. Other analysts claim that any attempt to rescue the girls could have gotten many of them killed. CNN and AFP

Russians brag about 'aerobatic skills' of Russian pilots buzzing US ship

As we reported yesterday, Russian jet fighters pretended to be attacking the USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea, buzzing the USS Cook 11 times, at one point within 30 feet of the ship.

According to Secretary of State John Kerry, the US might have shot the Russian jets down:

"We condemn this kind of behavior. It is reckless. It is provocative. It is dangerous. And under the rules of engagement that could have been a shoot-down.

People need to understand that this is serious business and the United States is not going to be intimidated on the high seas ... We are communicating to the Russians how dangerous this is and our hope is that this will never be repeated."

Everyone remembers that Turkey last year shot down a Russian jet under almost similar circumstances, and since then Russian jets no longer violate Turkey's airspace.

In this case, however, Russia's state media bragged about the incident:

"The aerobatics skills of Russian pilots over the US destroyer Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea left the Pentagon and other US official running for cover in Washington over “aggressive close interactions” with Russian fighter jets. ...

Judging by the videos released by the US Navy, the sailors were nonplussed by the Russian aerobatic skills. They gathered on the top deck of the destroyer to watch the Russian pilots. ...

At least on the video no one can be seen running for cover."

The Russians should remember a previous incident: an April 2001 encounter, when the pilots of a Chinese F-8 interceptor were playing games and exhibiting similar "aerobatics skills" to harass a U.S. surveillance aircraft in international waters in the South China Sea. The Chinese were internationally humiliated as total idiots when the Chinese aircraft smashed into the US aircraft. The Chinese aircraft crashed into the sea, and its crew were killed. The U.S. plane made an emergency landing on China's Hainan Island, and the idiot Chinese got even by imprisoning the 24 crew members for 10 days. Guardian (London) and Russia Today

US Navy conducting joint patrols with Philippines in South China Sea

The United States on Thursday revealed for the first time that American ships have started conducting joint patrols with the Philippines in the South China Sea. At the same time, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that the US will be keeping nearly 300 troops, including Air Force commandos armed with combat aircraft and helicopters, in the Philippines through the end of the month. Philippines Defense Minister Voltaire T. Gazmin said wishfully that the U.S. presence "will deter uncalled-for actions by the Chinese."

This is part of the continuing military buildup in the South China Sea, triggered by China's use of its massive military force to confiscate regions that have historically belonged to other nations, especially Vietnam and the Philippines. As we reported yesterday, Japanese warships are visiting ports in Vietnam, while China is deploying warplanes onto Woody Island in the South China Sea. NBC News and CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Apr-16 World View -- Russians brag about 'aerobatic skills' of Russian pilots buzzing US ship thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

14-Apr-16 World View -- Japanese warships visit Vietnam, as China moves warplanes into South China Sea

Russian fighter 'strafing runs' at US ship in Baltic Sea called 'showboating'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Japanese warships make historic port call to Vietnam


Japanese ambassador to Vietnam Hiroshi Fukada (1st L, front) inspects a guard of honor on Tuesday at Cam Ranh Bay seaport.
Japanese ambassador to Vietnam Hiroshi Fukada (1st L, front) inspects a guard of honor on Tuesday at Cam Ranh Bay seaport.

Japan on Tuesday sailed two warships, the guided-missile destroyers JS Ariake and JS Setogiri, carrying 500 crew members, into Vietnam's Cam Ranh Bay seaport. The visit is considered historic, since it's the first such visit since Japanese occupation of Vietnam ended at the end of World War II.

Cam Ranh Bay opens out into the South China Sea, and the visit by Japanese warships to Vietnam is clearly directed at China, and is an attempt to react to China's belligerence. Japan's constitution permits the military to be used only for self-defense, and these ships are part of the "Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force" (MSDF). But the concept of "self-defense" has recently been reinterpreted by Japan's government to permit "collective self-defense," which would allow the Japanese military to fight in a foreign war in defense of an ally whose defeat could threaten Japan.

A statement by Japan's Minister of Defense Gen Nakatani said that he expected defense collaboration with Vietnam to grow and that Japan would work with other major powers such as the United States to ensure peace and stability in the South China Sea. Japan Times and Vietnam Net and The Diplomat

China deploys fighter jets to South China Sea

China plans for military control of the South China Sea has taken a big step forward, according to satellite imagery from April 7. Two Chinese Shenyang J-11 fighter jets have been deployed to Woody Island.

China is claiming the entire South China Sea, and is using its massive military force to confiscate regions that have historically belonged to other nations, especially Vietnam and the Philippines. China is building artificial islands and converting them to military bases with advanced missile and radar systems. ( "23-Feb-16 World View -- China's military buildup neutralizes America's aircraft carriers")

It's possible that the new deployment of jets was purposely timed to coincide with the port call of the two Japanese warships to Vietnam. Fox News and Sydney Morning Herald

Russian fighter 'strafing runs' at US ship in Baltic Sea called 'showboating'

Russian jets appeared to be attacking the USS Donald Cook, sailing in the Baltic Sea. A U.S. official described the Russian maneuver as "strafing runs" without firing any weapons. The Russian aircraft were unarmed, but swooped in over the deck in the same flight profile that would have been used if an attack was underway. They buzzed the USS Cook 11 times, at one point within 30 feet of the ship.

This appears to be one of the political relations games that Russia's president Vladimir Putin is playing to show how tough he is. The Navy didn't shoot down the Russian planes because they weren't a credible threat according to Capt. Rick Hoffman, and they were visibly unarmed.

According to Hoffman, the Russian "simulated attack" was nothing but showboating:

"Well, we’re not at war with Russia. It would be one thing to be operating and have a threatening attack profile from someone who might not recognize me — that’s not the case here."

You don’t get to kill people just because they’re being annoying. ...

It would be real interesting to see what shows up in the Russian papers in the morning, how they play it. It's not that different from North Korea. He does something and then he plays it domestically however he needs to play it for the purposes of getting his people energized."

When Russian warplanes in Syria repeatedly violated Turkey's airspace last year, the Turks finally shot one down, creating an international incident. However, it's believed that Russian warplanes no longer violate Turkey's airspace. CNN and Navy Times and YouTube

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Apr-16 World View -- Japanese warships visit Vietnam, as China moves warplanes into South China Sea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

13-Apr-16 World View -- EU migrant crisis moves to Italy as Austria begins closing border

EU threatens to impose travel restrictions on US/Canada visitors

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

EU threatens to impose travel restrictions on US/Canada visitors


An Iraqi Yazidi girl waves from a bus as she and her family leave the Idomeni refugee camp and head for another camp in Greece on Tuesday (AP)
An Iraqi Yazidi girl waves from a bus as she and her family leave the Idomeni refugee camp and head for another camp in Greece on Tuesday (AP)

The European Commission (EC) on Tuesday asked the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament to consider imposing travel restrictions on visitors from the United States and Canada. The EC had to make the request, because it was required to do so under European Union regulations.

Most EU citizens can visit the United States with no visa requirements. And US citizens can visit most of Europe with no visa requirements. But the United States requires visas from citizens of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania. Because of this requirement, the EC is required under its own regulations to pursue a reciprocal regime.

Under those regulations, the EC 24 months ago issued a formal notice to the US State Dept. asking that the visa requirements be lifted for those five member states. That notice has now expired, so the EC, under its own regulations, was forced to take the next step on April 12. A similar situation applies to Canada and Brunei.

This issue is caught up in Europe's security problems. The State Dept. isn't likely to agree to reduce any visitor restrictions after the terror attacks on Paris and Brussels. In fact, the US tightened restrictions on all EU countries last year by requiring visas for all all dual EU-Syrian nationals or all EU nationals who recently visited Libya.

If the EU goes ahead with its via restrictions, then starting in October, US citizens would have to obtain visas before traveling to Europe. Many European officials are stridently opposed to imposing the visa requirements, because it would be devastating to Europe's economy, especially after the US retaliated by imposing its own visa restrictions on Europe. eTurbo Travel News and EU Observer and Canadian Broadcasting

EU migrant crisis moves to Italy as Austria begins closing border

Italy's Coast Guard, supported by ships from EU's Frontex organization, rescued 2,154 migrants traveling from Libya on a single day, Tuesday. The were found on 16 rubber dinghies and one boat.

In a typical situation, a dinghy is crammed with 100-200 people in Libya and pushed out into the Mediterranean Sea. The migrants are instructed to watch for an Italian coast guard ship and ask for help. In some cases, the migrants purposely sink the dinghy so that the coast guard ship will be forced to take them aboard.

As expected, the warmer weather is causing an increase in the number migrants who pay human traffickers to cross the Mediterranean to Europe from Libya. Now that the "Balkan Route" from Greece through the Balkans to Germany has been closed, migrants are paying human traffickers to transport them via other routes. Many people think that the hundreds of thousands that have been prevented from taking the Balkan Route will now travel via Libya to Italy.

Meanwhile, there are more than 53,000 migrants are trapped in Greece, many in filthy refugee camps, and the process of returning them to Turkey is floundering. ( "9-Apr-16 World View -- Legal problems and Erdogan's threats may collapse EU-Turkey migrant deal")

Things have been going so slowly in Greece that the European Commission is issuing a threat to Greece to report how it plans to tightenc control of its border, or be shut out of the visa-free Schengen Zone. AP and Kathimerini

Austria begins construction on border controls with Italy

Fearing a massive influx of migrants from Italy, Austria has begun construction work at the Brenner Pass Alpine crossing, the main highway that connects Italy and Austria. Austria will introduce tougher border controls starting on June 1 at the latest. There are no plans right now to build a border fence, but that could change if the stream of migrants becomes large enough.

The Austrian plans are raising objections among EU leaders.

Natasha Bertaud, a spokesman for the European Commission said: "The Commission is very concerned. If these plans were to materialize then we would have to look at them very seriously. The Brenner Pass is essential for the freedom of movement within the European Union."

Alev Korun, member of the Austrian Parliament and spokesman for the Green Alternative party, said: "We are against the militarization of borders and the building of fences on the borders. Nationalistic measures like these only speed up de-solidarization within the EU." Euro News and Independent (London) and Sputnik News (Moscow)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Apr-16 World View -- EU migrant crisis moves to Italy as Austria begins closing border thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

12-Apr-16 World View -- Troubles mount for Afghanistan government as US withdrawal looms

John Kerry instructs Afghanistan officials how to run their government

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

John Kerry instructs Afghanistan officials how to run their government


Unity government leaders President Ashraf Ghani, right, and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah (Reuters)
Unity government leaders President Ashraf Ghani, right, and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah (Reuters)

This is another one of those stories where all I can do is shake my head because after seven years of being in office, President Obama still thinks he's the smartest person in the room -- any room -- or the world, but still has absolutely no clue what's going on in the world. His Secretary of State John Kerry believes that US armed forces are worse than Nazis.

So now John Kerry, who has stumbled from one foreign policy disaster to another, paid a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Saturday. The nominal purpose of the visit was to head off a political crisis that could damage US withdrawal plans, so he demanded that the government renege on a 2014 agreement to replace the current government in September.

Afghanistan's presidential elections in 2014 resulted in bitter disputes between the two leading candidates, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, including accusations of massive voter fraud on both sides. The US brokered an agreement for a "unity government" of the two candidates, with Ghani becoming president and Abdullah in the newly created post of chief executive.

The text of the agreement called for a "loya jirga" (grand assembly) to be called in September 2016, at the end of two years. The loya jirga would decide the future of the government and amend the constitution -- as such assemblies have done at key points in Afghanistan’s recent history.

So the purpose of Kerry's visit to Afghanistan on Saturday was to tell the Afghan politicians and the Afghan people that they should not hold a loya jirga. He said that, despite the agreement calling for it, the loya jirga was "a goal," not a requirement:

"Let me make this very, very clear, because I brokered the agreement, President Ghani signed it and Chief Executive Abdullah signed it, and I was there to witness the signing, and I had the privilege of joining them in announcing it. There is no end to this agreement at the end of two years or in six months from now. This agreement ends – this is an agreement for a unity government, the duration of which is five years. ...

But we are – in no way does the agreement itself have some particular termination. The constitution has elected a president. The president has agreed to a unity government, and a political agreement was made between Dr. Abdullah and President Ghani for how they would go forward in a unity government. But it is our understanding that that is a mandate for five years and there’s no termination whatsoever in six months."

So there you have it. John Kerry brokered the deal, so he knows what it means better than the Afghan politicians do, since they merely signed it. We'll have to see whether Kerry's visit did the job, or whether it infuriated the opposition so much that it made a loya jirga even more likely.

Kerry also repeated an offer to the Taliban for peace talks, which is laughable. LA Times and Washington Post (29-Mar) and BBC and Dept. of State

Troubles mount for Afghanistan government as US withdrawal looms

The fact that Afghanistan has had no government since 2014 is just one of the country's problems. The economy has been sinking and, perhaps worst of all, the resurgent Taliban are stronger than at any time since they were toppled from power in late 2001.

In October of last year, President Obama reversed himself on the Afghanistan troop withdrawal. Instead of a total withdrawal, he announced that a residual force of 5,500 troops would be left on a continuing basis. This was only the latest of several similar reversals. He was forced into this because many people believe that the Obama's total withdrawal from Iraq squandered the victory won by President Bush via the 2007 "surge," and because Obama's own "surge" strategy in Afghanistan has been a failure, as I predicted in 2009 that it would be, based on a Generational Dynamics comparison of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Analysts give three reasons for the resurgence of the Taliban in 2015:

The viability of Afghan's military is further in doubt as a new report by CNN that desertion is rife, as Afghan soldiers defect to the Taliban. According to one deserter: "I decided to leave the army when my dead and injured comrades lay in our base, and nobody took them to hospital. My army training is very useful now, as I am training Taliban fighters with the same knowledge."

Government troops suffered huge losses in 2015. U.S. officials estimate that 5,500 Afghan security force members died that year alone, far more than the 3,500 Nato lost in its entire decade-long campaign. As the "fighting season" approaches in the summer, the fear is that losses in 2016 will be even greater.

The remaining Nato forces are increasingly being deployed in battle zones to support Afghan forces fighting the Taliban. Afghanistan's government is requesting (perhaps begging) that the US cancel its withdrawal plans, or even to bring in new troops. With President Obama concerned with little else beyond his legacy, this is something that he is unlikely to approve, unless the situation in Afghanistan gets so bad over the summer that he has no choice. That may in fact happen. Reuters and CNN and BBC (5-Jan)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Apr-16 World View -- Troubles mount for Afghanistan government as US withdrawal looms thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

11-Apr-16 World View -- Armenia-Azerbaijan ceasefire holds, despite hundreds of 'breaches'

'Horrific' scenes as Macedonian police lob teargas into Idomeni refugee camp

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

'Horrific' scenes as Macedonian police lob teargas into Idomeni refugee camp


An Idomeni camp refugee selling whatever he can (Deutsche Welle)
An Idomeni camp refugee selling whatever he can (Deutsche Welle)

A scene described as "horrific" unfolded on Sunday in Greece along the border with Macedonia. According to reports, five refugees from the Idomeni refugee camp went to the border to negotiate with Macedonian authorities. Thousands of people had come to the Macedonian border because of rumors that the borders were going to be opened.

The Macedonians said that they were following European policy, and asked the refugees to remain peaceful. One of the refugees is quoted as saying:

"We understand, and we want to be peaceful. But behind me there are 10,000 people - refugees who are fleeing war - and they have been here for months now. We want a solution."

Ten minutes later, hundreds of refugees tried to cut the barbed wire and break through the fence. The police responded by firing teargas canisters, stun grenades, and rubber bullets at hundreds of refugees, and kept firing for two hours. The teargas canisters went deep into the Idomeni camp and reached women and children who were not taking part in any protests. The refugees hurled stones at the Macedonian police in retaliation.

There were hundreds of injuries, according to Doctors without Borders, including two hundred with breathing problems, and 30 for wounds caused by plastic bullets.

Problems are mounting for the EU-Turkey migrant deal, including the following:

Deutsche Welle and AFP and Greek Reporter (7-Apr) and Deutsche Welle

Armenia-Azerbaijan ceasefire holds, despite hundreds of 'breaches'

Azerbaijan media reports that the Armenians broke the ceasefire 125 throughout the day on Saturday, at various location in Nagorno-Karabakh (NK). It also reports that "Azerbaijani armed forces carried out 125 strikes on enemy positions," although those strikes are not characterized as "breaches."

Armenian media said that the cease-fire was "mainly observed," but complained that Azerbaijani forces used "an 82-mm mortar and a 122-mm D-30 howitzer" in norther NK.

This is the way that the NK conflict has been going for years, with low-level violence characterized by sporadic mortars and gunfire on both sides, and with both sides reporting breaches, often hundreds per day.

This all changed on April 1, when suddenly the low-level violence escalated into what appeared to be a major war. ( "3-Apr-16 World View -- Armenia-Azerbaijan escalating conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh threatens the entire region") A Russian-mediated cease-fire came into effect last week on April 4, and it's most held since then.

Few analysts doubt that Orthodox Christian Russia is on the side of Orthodox Christian Armenia, and not on the side of Azerbaijan, whose Turkic ethnicity matches Russia's enemy Turkey. And there are reports that many Armenians are bewildered why Russia hasn't been supporting them in the war against Azerbaijan, instead of staying neutral.

Russia's prime minister Dmitry Medvedev has been openly critical of the "Turkish factor" in the NK conflict:

"There is a host of forces that are closely looking into the consequences of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict for the situation in the Middle East and on Russia. ... All conflicts at a given time may in one way or another be a factor in political decisions. So I do not rule out that there are factors that are influencing the conflict from abroad. You mentioned the Turkish factor. The Turkish factor probably exists, at least because Turkey has expressed its position."

In fact, Russia has been criticized internationally for selling weapons to both sides in the conflict, something that Medvedev defends: "If we imagine for a minute that Russian Federation gives up this role, we perfectly understand that this place won’t remain empty. They will buy weapons in other countries, and the degree of their deadliness won’t change in any way."

My own view of Russia's motivations is that Russia's president Vladimir Putin fears blowback from a major Armenia-Azerbaijan war. The South Caucasus region is the site of centuries of some of the bloodiest religious wars in history between the Orthodox Christian civilization and the Sunni Muslim civilization, and Generational Dynamics predicts that the region is headed for another such war with absolute certainty. I doubt that Putin has ever heard of Generational Dynamics, but he knows the region's history and he knows intuitively that that any South Caucasus war could spiral throughout the Middle East or Russia, as suggested by Medvedev's statement quoted above. For that reason, Russia is attempting to remain neutral for the time being, rather than risk another extremely bloody war throughout the region, a war that would lead to a world war. However, there are massive generational and historical forces at work here, and no polician either cause or prevent the war that's coming. AzerTag (Azerbaijan) and Pan Armenian and Sputnik News (Moscow)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Apr-16 World View -- Armenia-Azerbaijan ceasefire holds, despite hundreds of 'breaches' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

10-Apr-16 World View -- Egypt, Saudi Arabia to build a huge bridge where Moses parted the Red Sea

Saudi Arabia will no longer provide 'free money' to Egypt

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Egypt, Saudi Arabia to build a huge bridge where Moses parted the Red Sea


Map showing the Red Sea, Strait of Tiran, and Gulf of Aqaba
Map showing the Red Sea, Strait of Tiran, and Gulf of Aqaba

Saudi Arabia and Egypt have announced plans to build the King Salman Bridge, named after the current leader of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud.

The bridge will be an enormous project, 10-20 miles (16-32 km) long, depending on its position, providing a land connection between Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

The bridge is planned to cross the Strait of Tiran, at the same place where the prophet Moses is said to have parted the Red Sea, in order to bring his people out of slavery into the Promised Land.

Whether the bridge will actually ever be built remains to be seen. The construction project could badly affect tourism at the Sharm el-Sheikh resort on the Red Sea near the Strait of Tiran. Furthermore, environmentalists are complaining that the construction project would damage fragile sea life.

The Strait of Tiran has a more modern significance as well. For many years after Israel's founding, the Suez Canal was closed to Israeli shipping, so ships carrying goods to Israel had to pass through the Strait of Tiran and travel up the Gulf of Aqaba to reach Egypt.

On May 23, 1967, Egypt's President Gamal Abdel Nasser announced that the United Arab Republic would close the Strait of Tiran and Gulf of Aqaba to all ships flying Israel flags or carrying strategic materials. Israel had already warned that any such move would be considered an act of war, and the announcement did launch the 1967 Six-Day War between Egypt and Israel.

As part of the same announcement on Saturday, the countries agreed to settle a long-standing dispute over the sovereignty of the Sanafir and Tiran islands in the Strait of Tiran. Until now, they had been Egypt's sovereign territory. After the Six-Day War, Israel occupied the two islands from 1967 until the full implementation of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty in 1982. Since then, and continuing to today, there is a US-led "Multinational Force Observers" (MFO). Now that control of the islands is being transferred from Egypt to Saudi Arabia, it remains to be seen whether there will be any effect on the MFO or on Israeli shipping. Egyptian Streets and Arab News and Ynet

Saudi Arabia will no longer provide 'free money' to Egypt

With the Arab world in continuing turmoil since the "Arab Awakening" in 2011, the lengthy visit by Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud to Cairo and Egypt's president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi is being described as historic. Egypt with nearly 93 million citizens is the most populous Arab country, with the largest military in the region, while Saudi Arabia is the leader of the Muslim world and has the region’s largest economy. The two leaders have sign agreements 12 development projects in the Sinai, and other projects totally $22 billion.

When Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood were the governing party of Egypt in 2013, Qatar, which joined Turkey in supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, gave billions of dollars in aid to Egypt. When Morsi was deposed in an army coup led by Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi on July 3, 2013, Qatar's aid to Egypt ended. After that. Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kuwait starting giving aid to Egypt.

As part of this week's joint announcements, Saudi Arabia has said that it will no longer give "free money" to Egypt. Instead, future aid will be given in the form of investments and loans that will have to be repaid.

There are two reasons for this change. One is that with the collapse in oil prices, Saudi Arabia is not able to spend as much, and by making loans and investments, the Saudis diversify their sources of revenue.

The second is that Egypt's economy has been struggling since the ouster of long-time leader Hosni Mubarak in 2011, and the current president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi has been unable to turn the economy around, or to deal effectively with the entrenched corruption. Arab News and Reuters and Arab News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Apr-16 World View -- Egypt, Saudi Arabia to build a huge bridge where Moses parted the Red Sea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

9-Apr-16 World View -- Legal problems and Erdogan's threats may collapse EU-Turkey migrant deal

Turkey's Erdogan threatens to terminate the refugee deal

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

EU-Turkey refugee deal fraught with chaos and legal and political problems


Informative leaflet in four languages to be handed out to migrants in Greece
Informative leaflet in four languages to be handed out to migrants in Greece

Officials in Europe and Turkey are hailing the apparent success of the first week of the implementation of the EU-Turkey refugee deal. The number of migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey is down to hundreds per day, rather than thousands.

Also this week, two boatloads of refugees from Greece have been shipped back to Turkey -- 54 on Monday, 120 on Friday.

However, some analysts are saying that this is all symbolic, a meaningless show. The reason is technical, but dispositive. All 54 of the migrants returned to Turkey on Monday were Pakistani. Most of the migrants sent on Friday were Pakistani, and others were from Egypt, Afghanistan, and Iraq. None of these migrants had applied for asylum in Greece because their intention was to continue their journey north to Germany or Sweden, and objective that is now denied to them because the "Balkan Route" has been closed.

Now, the problem with this situation is that it was already perfectly legal for Greece to deport these 174 "illegal migrants," even without the EU-Turkey deal. Under a previous 2002 deal, Greece could have returned them to Turkey. Even without that deal, Greece could have deported them to their home countries. As things stand, Turkey will now deport the 174 to their home countries -- the countries that they'd already fled from at risk of their lives.

There are still more than 3,000 migrants on the Greek island of Lesbos. In view of recent events, almost all of these have submitted asylum applications. Once a migrant has applied for asylum, she cannot be sent back to Turkey until she has been interviewed and had an individual hearing, and then only if her asylum request has been rejected. (The use of the feminine pronouns reflects the fact that most migrants now are women and children.)

This asylum hearing process is an enormous logistical problem. It requires police, case officers, judges, and language interpreters. It can take weeks or months to reach a decision on a single asylum application. Greece itself does not have the resources to implement this process. The European Commission has promised that it would send 2,300 experts from other countries to help with the logistical challenge, but those experts are still nowhere in sight.

The problems don't stop there, and get more complicated when refugees from Syria are involved. There's a "one-for-one" provision in the EU-Turkey deal that, for each Syrian refugee that Greece returns to Turkey, Turkey will select a Syrian refugee from its refugee camps and send that refugee back to the EU. These refugees will be distributed to all 28 EU countries under a quota system. As we described a couple of days ago, it will be almost impossible to get agreement on the quotas. ( "7-Apr-16 World View -- In desperation, EU tries to overhaul its refugee asylum rules")

There may be still more problems. The 174 migrants who have already been sent back to Turkey did not put up any resistance, but with 3,000 migrants to go, that may not last. There have already been riots and confrontations between police and migrants in the Idomeni refugee camp on Greece's border with Macedonia.

To try to head off more problems, an "informative leaflet" will be distributed to refugees and migrants at Idomeni and in the Port of Piraeus, starting on Monday. The leaflet is in four languages -- Arabic, Farsi, Greek and English:

"Make sure that no violent incidents take place among you. There is nothing to be divided. You all share common problems. Hate and violence do not help in any way.

Do not lose your courage, we stand by you, we love you! ...

The port of Piraeus cannot host you anymore and you have nothing to win by remaining here. Additionally, from now on the port of Piraeus will have to service significant volumes of traffic of vehicles and passengers. It is not possible for you to stay at the port of Piraeus anymore. In a few days the port of Piraeus will be emptied (evacuated)."

Whether this leaflet will soothe tempers or worsens them remains to be seen. Daily Sabah (Istanbul) and The Atlantic and Der Spiegel and Greek Reporter

Turkey's Erdogan threatens to terminate the refugee deal

There are legal challenges being raised on both sides of the EU-Turkey refugee deal.

European experts are arguing that Turkey does not meet the minimum requirements to be "Safe Country of Origin." This concept has been debated by the European Commission, but they have been unable to precisely define what it means, or to produce a list of safe countries of origin.

By agreeing to the EU-Turkey deal, the European Commission is deciding by implication that Turkey is a safe country of origin, which means that migrants can be sent back to Turkey, according to EU law. But some human rights organizations are going to challenge that decision in the European Court of Justice, based on the number of times that the European Court of Human Rights has condemned Turkey for breaches of human rights. The trial might delay further implementation of the EU-Turkey deal, and if the ECJ rules that Turkey is not a safe country of origin, then the deal may collapse completely.

On the other hand, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is warning that the EU is already in violation of its side of the agreement, and that if further steps aren't taken, then Turkey will terminate the deal.

Erdogan is referring to the following EU commitments:

In a speech on Thursday, Erdogan said:

"There are precise conditions. If the European Union does not take the necessary steps, then Turkey will not implement the agreement.

Everything that has been promised [must be put into action by the EU], everything that is specified under the accord.

[Referring to the aid for refugees], some three million people are being fed on our budget. There have been promises [of aid] but nothing has come for the moment.

We have received lots of thanks for our action on the refugees and in the fight against terrorism. But we are not doing this for thanks. Everything should happen in line with what has been promised, what has been set out in the text."

There is a lot of opposition in Europe to approving the visa liberalization, which would allow any Turkish citizen to travel freely around the EU. This must be implemented by June, according to the agreement. There is a lot of opposition in Turkey to taking back any migrants from Greece. It's thought that the only reason that the EU agreed to the deal is because the migrant situation has made them desperate, and the only reason that Turkey agreed to the deal was to get leverage to force the visa liberation and to force further steps to be taken in the accession process (not to mention the six billion euros).

For the time being, European officials are claiming that the worst of the migrant crisis is over. If that's true, then we should know by June, but it's far more likely that the entire deal will collapse by then. EU Law Analysis and Hurriyet (Ankara)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Apr-16 World View -- Legal problems and Erdogan's threats may collapse EU-Turkey migrant deal thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

8-Apr-16 World View -- Putin decrees new Russian National Guard that can shoot or arrest citizens on sight

'Panama Papers' scandal may have triggered Putin's National Guard announcement

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Putin decrees new Russian National Guard that can shoot or arrest citizens on sight


Putin decreed the establishment of a new National Guard on Thursday (Kremlin Press Service)
Putin decreed the establishment of a new National Guard on Thursday (Kremlin Press Service)

In a surprise announcement, Russia's president Vladimir Putin decreed the establishment of a new National Guard force of 200,000 to 400,000 paramilitary security forces with the right to use physical force or firearms on citizens, and the right to enter homes or check documents and vehicles -- all without warning or giving a reason.

The text of the law, as posted on the web site of the State Duma, contains the following:

"Special powers (coercion): Detention, occurrence (penetration) into residential and other premises on land and territory; cordon (blocking) areas of land, premises, buildings and other facilities. ...

The troops of the National Guard have the right to detain for the police persons suspected of committing a crime or administrative offense, as well as to detain in order to establish their identity to the police of other persons, detained for a period of not more than three hours and include office space troops of the National Guard prior to the transfer of police officials, to encroach on protected national Guard troops objects as well as objects and possessions national Guard troops, facilities and property of citizens and organizations regardless of their organizational and legal form and form of property. ...

[In addition, they receive the right] to make a personal inspection of the said persons, inspection of vehicles and the things seized from them documents and items prohibited for storage and use; make inspection of vehicles, water craft (vessels), violated the rules established in the protected national Guard troops objects."

According to a statement by Putin, the National Guard troops are tasked with: "participation, together with Russia’s internal affairs bodies, in enforcement of public order, maintenance of public security and emergency rule, participation in the fight against international terrorism and ensuring the legal regime of counter-terrorism operation, participation in the fight against extremism."

However, many observers are claiming that the new National Guard is Putin's person army designed to give him all the powers of a total dictator. Moscow Times and Interfax (Moscow) (Trans) and Tass (Moscow)

Russia's National Guard thought to be preparation for September elections

At the end of 2011 and in spring 2012, rigged Duma elections triggered mass antigovernment demonstrations in Moscow that had to be controlled violently. Now that new elections are scheduled for September of this year, it's thought that Putin announced the new National Guard in preparation for even larger anti-government protests.

Indeed, Putin's presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday. that "One can assume that, of course, [it will take part] in [suppressing] unauthorized [actions]."

According to Nikolai Petrov, a professor of political science at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, Russia's ruling regime, led by Putin, is at risk of collapse, mainly because its entire foundation has been undermined by the massive fall in international oil prices.

Petrov says that Putin has gained electoral legitimacy by generating nationalist feelings through his invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula. Putin's actions in Syria and against Turkey have also roused public response.

But what's changed in Russia is "the internal balance between the ruling élite," because falling oil prices have squeezed Moscow's budget:

"Most importantly, shrinking government coffers have prompted more intense infighting among the ruling clans as each vies for their place in the sun. The problem is that the current system is based on ever-expanding revenues that provide enough for all. There is no functioning mechanism for resolving conflicting interests and redistributing property and incomes among contending groups. Each new situation requires an executive decision, which increases the frequency of conflict among the elite spilling over into the public eye — such as the sharp confrontation last spring between the leadership of the Federal Security Service and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who heads his own siloviki force. Such clashes strain the system at the seams.

The main goal of these struggles is access to the crisis-stricken budget and the chance to curry favor with senior leaders. Therefore, parliamentary elections in September will be held against a backdrop of increased competition among the elite."

In other words, when oil prices were high and everyone and all the business leaders and regional politicians in the ruling élite had access to unlimited amounts of money, there was little conflict at the top. But September's elections will create candidates with loyalties divided between Putin on one side and the élite business leaders and politicians on the other.

Putin's approval numbers remain at record highs, despite the poor economy and rapid growth of mass poverty. But Putin's creation by surprise decree of the new National Guard gives the impression that Putin believes that the internal threat to his regime is rising rapidly, and that steps must be taken immediately to control the threat. Tass (Moscow) and Moscow Times (22-Jan) and Jamestown

'Panama Papers' scandal may have triggered Putin's National Guard announcement

Vladimir Putin was not mentioned in the massive leak of 11 million documents from a Panama-based law firm known as the "Panama Papers," and TV stations have shrugged off the entire scandal, so it was considered surprising that Putin felt it necessary on Thursday to make special mention of the Panama Papers and to mock them at a forum for journalists in St. Petersburg.

Although Putin wasn't mentioned, some of his associates appeared in documents, implicated them in an alleged $2 billion money-laundering scheme. One of the names appearing in the documents is that of cellist Sergei Roldugin, an old friend of Putin and reportedly a godfather to one of his daughters. Media reports on the Panama Papers have said Roldugin holds hundreds of millions of dollars in offshore assets.

Another danger for Putin is that American officials are examining the the Panama Papers to gather information on individuals who may be helping Russia to bypass sanctions.

Putin responded to the accusations on Thursday:

"Our opponents are above all concerned by the unity and consolidation of the Russian nation, our multinational Russian people. They are attempting to rock us from within, to make us more obedient. ...

I am proud to have people like Sergei [Roldugin] as friends. He has spent nearly all the money he has earned on buying musical instruments abroad and he brought them to Russia.

We always welcome it when somebody does things like that, but he has gone much further. I know that he has spent several months already on efforts to have the instruments registered as property of government-financed institutions."

Opposition leader Aleksei Navalny ridiculed Putin's defense of Roldugin, saying that Roldugin's offshore companies reportedly engaged in suspicious commercial contracts that netted him substantial profits.

However, other government officials said that the Panama Papers story was funded by the US Government and by George Soros, to attack Putin personally and to destabilize Russia.

Vladimir Putin's National Guard announcement has surely been in the works for some time, but the fact that the announcement came suddenly, by surprise, suggests that Putin may have felt it necessary to make the announcement earlier than planned. The event that might have triggered that early announcement was the international "Panama Papers" scandal, revealing enormous alleged corruption in Putin's government, which could possibly result in much greater and much early anti-government protests and riots. RFE/RL and Moscow Times and Russia Today and Moscow Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Apr-16 World View -- Putin decrees new Russian National Guard that can shoot or arrest citizens on sight thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

7-Apr-16 World View -- In desperation, EU tries to overhaul its refugee asylum rules

As migrants turn to the Libya route, Germany warns Italy not to wave migrants through

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

In desperation, EU tries to overhaul its refugee asylum rules


Migrant children from Syria pose in front of a Protestant church in Oberhausen, Germany, November 19, 2015 (Reuters)
Migrant children from Syria pose in front of a Protestant church in Oberhausen, Germany, November 19, 2015 (Reuters)

Migrants who arrive in the European Union are required to register and lodge their asylum requests in the country where they first arrive. That country must then evaluate asylum requests, and either allow them to stay in that country or else deport them back to their countries of origin. The rules about registering migrants comes from the Geneva convention, which was adopted by the EU in the "Dublin II" regulation of 2003.

The Dublin system was already under severe pressure before the migration crisis began. EU member states have been forbidden from sending asylum seekers back to Greece since the European court of human rights ruled in 2011 that conditions for refugees in Greece were so bad they were tantamount to "degrading treatment."

In 2015, over one million migrants poured into Europe, a migration of historic proportions. They arrived mostly into Greece and Italy, but those two countries were unable to handle the volume, so the migrants were mostly just waved through to travel north, usually to Germany. Furthermore, when German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced last year in August that Syrian refugees were welcome to stay in Germany, essentially negating the Dublin II regulations, the asylum system collapse completely.

European officials are now desperately trying to reform the asylum system by proposing modifications to the Dublin II regulations, to distribute the burden to all 28 countries in the EU. The European Commission is making two proposals:

Germany and Sweden, which absorbed most of the migrants last year, are in favor reforming the Dublin regulations.

Both proposals involve a "mandatory redistribution" scheme similar to the temporary migrant quota system that was enacted last year, and was an almost total failure. That scheme, proposed last year in September, was supposed to relocate 160,000 refugees from Greece and Italy to other EU countries. Only about 1,100 refugees have been resettled so far.

Hungary and Slovakia opposed the migrant quota system last September but were outvoted, and they've filed lawsuits at the EU Court of Justice against the quota system. Unsurprisingly, they're now opposing the new mandatory redistribution reforms. The Czech Republic, Poland and Romania have also voiced opposition.

Tomas Prouza, Czech state secretary for European affairs tweeted on Wednesday: "Permanent quotas once again? How long will the EU commission keep riding this dead horse instead of working on things that really help?" AFP and Guardian (London) and EU Observer and EU Dublin II Regulations

As migrants turn to the Libya route, Germany warns Italy not to wave migrants through

On Monday, about 200 Syrian migrants that had arrived in Greece were deported back to Turkey, under the EU-Turkey deal that was signed las month. Under that deal, all "irregular migrants" arriving in Greece after March 20 are to be sent back to Turkey.

However, that entire process has been stalled. The EU-Turkey deal contains a bizarre "one for one" provision that specifies that for every Syrian migrant sent back to Turkey, Turkey will select another Syrian refugee from its refugee camps and send that refugee back to the EU, to be settled in some European country. And just as in the case of the mandatory redistribution proposals, there is no agreement on how to distribute the refugees returned from Turkey on the one for one deal.

Another problem is that any migrants arriving in Greece are to be given hearings to determine whether they're qualified to seek asylum. According to one report I heard, the Greek authorities are only able to process about 20 asylum registrations per day -- and that doesn't even include the hearings, which can take weeks.

The situation is complicated even further by the fact that a majority of the asylum-seekers in Europe are women and children, and nearly 10% of the women are pregnant.

The EU-Turkey deal that took effect two weeks ago has slowed the flood of migrants into the Greek islands from thousands per day to hundreds per day. That's because the word has spread that the route from Turkey through Greece and north through the Balkans to Germany is now apparently closed permanently.

The fear is that there will be another million refugees entering Europe in 2016, as happened in 2015. But since the Balkan Route is closed, the migrants and human traffickers will choose other, more dangerous routes.

It's estimated that up to 450,000 people will try to reach Europe this year by crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Libya. The EU has been focusing on the route through Turkey and Greece, but the Libya to Italy route has been almost completely ignored, because only 17,500 migrants arrived in Italy from Libya last year. But with the Balkan Route closed, many people expect the route from Libya will be used by hundreds of thousands of migrants, with the flood beginning in the next month as the weather warms.

However, Germany's interior minister Thomas de Maizière warned Italy that its border with Austria, the Brenner Pass, would be closed if Italy simply tried to wave the migrants through to northern countries.

Many European officials are expressing the hope that the worst of the migrant crisis has passed. However, that's what they always say, whether it's Greece's financial crisis or the migrant crisis. The Rube Goldberg EU-Turkey deal has no apparent chance of succeeding, and desperate people will reach their desired destination or die trying.

The reality is that we're in a generational Crisis era in the midst of a massive historic population migration of people from war zones in the Mideast and Africa, and just putting up fences is not going to solve the core problem. No one has predicted the crisis so far, and the fact is that European officials have no idea what's going to happen this year. Express (London) and International Business Times and Daily Mail (London)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Apr-16 World View -- In desperation, EU tries to overhaul its refugee asylum rules thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

6-Apr-16 World View -- Radical Islamists finding a new home in Bosnia and Balkan states

Syrian jihadists shoot down regime warplane, capture pilot

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Syrian jihadists shoot down regime warplane, capture pilot


Ahrar al Sham (al-Nusra) tweet posted after the Syrian warplane was shot down, with a picture of the captured Syrian pilot (Long War Journal)
Ahrar al Sham (al-Nusra) tweet posted after the Syrian warplane was shot down, with a picture of the captured Syrian pilot (Long War Journal)

Syrian regime media are confirming that jihadists have shot down a Syrian warplane with a surface-to-air missile launched by "terrorist organizations," and that the pilot parachuted to the ground. A furious Syrian regime field command is quoted as saying, “In the imminent future, the fires of hell will open on the armed groups in the north, south, east and west [of Aleppo]," adding that "devastating battles" are planned in revenge.

Ahrar al Sham, an al-Qaeda linked group associated with Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front) has claimed responsibility, and says that the Syrian pilot is in custody.

As we reported yesterday, militias opposed to the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad achieved a strategic victory by capturing the village of Al Eis and taking control of a portion of the country's vital M5 highway. Tuesday's shootdown of the Syrian warplane apparently occurred during attempts by the Syrian military to recapture the village.

Western governments have been reluctant to provide arms to groups opposed to al-Assad or to the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). They have been particularly reluctant to provide anti-air missiles, out of fear that those missiles would fall into the hands of jihadist groups.

This is the second Syrian warplane to be shot down. Syria says that an anti-aircraft missile was also used to shoot down a warplane in western Syria in March.

If it's confirmed that jihadists now have anti-aircraft missiles, it would be a major escalation in jihadist weaponry. However, it's possible that the warplane was brought down by artillery fire. Daily Star (Beirut) and SANA (Damascus) and Long War Journal and Reuters

Radical Islamists finding a new home in Bosnia and Balkan states

A new sanctuary for fighters, planners and recruiters for the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) has been established right in the middle of Europe. Some 200-300 Islamist radicals have left Bosnia-Herzegovina to join ISIS or al-Qaeda in Syria and Iraq, and as a share of population, more fighters from Bosnia-Herzegovina have joined ISIS than from any other country in Europe except Belgium. There are around a dozen places in Bosnia where Salafists can train radicals, undisturbed by authorities. In fact, the black flag of ISIS is even flown in some remote villages in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

And it can be seen in other Balkan countries besides Bosnia. According to research into six countries in the region -- Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia -- about 877 nationals from the six states have traveled to Syria and Iraq. About 300 are believed to have returned home.

Most Balkan nationals travelled to Syria and Iraq during 2012 and 2013, with the highest numbers coming from Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia. The numbers travelling to join jihadi groups declined sharply in 2014, after most states adopted law reforms that criminalize illegally fighting in foreign wars.

The origins of Balkan radicalization can be traced back at least to the Bosnia war of the early 1990s. It was a three-way war, with the Bosniaks [Bosnian Muslims] fighting against the Catholic Croatians and the Orthodox Christian Serbs.

We've described many times how the Soviet Union's occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s triggered a flow of Sunni Muslim jihadists from the Soviet Union to fight the Orthodox Christian invaders, resulting in the formation of al-Qaeda and leading to the 9/11/2001 attacks. (See "12-Sep-15 World View -- Saudi Arabia's Grand Mosque, site of huge construction accident, has links to 9/11"),

A related story can be told about the Bosnian war. Saudi Arabians and other Arabs traveled to Bosnia and formed the Mujahideen Battalion in Bosnia in 1992, to fight the Christian Serbs and Croatians. The Mujahideen Battalion grew to hundreds of volunteers by the end of the war. It's believed that the arrival of the Arabs was supported by Bosnian politicians, in order to please wealthy Arab donors.

After the war, hundreds of Mujahideen Battalion members went from Bosnia to Chechnya, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Among their alumni were two of the 9/11 hijackers, and the murderer of American hostage Daniel Pearl.

During the Bosnian war, hundreds of Arab volunteers came to join the Mujahideen Battalion. Today, the flow of volunteers has reversed, with Bosnian volunteers traveling to Syria to join ISIS.

According to Aimen Dean, a Saudi Arabian volunteer who went to fight in Bosnia in 1994: "There is a war between the West and Islam. Bosnia gave the modern jihadist movement that narrative. It is the cradle." Der Spiegel (Germany) and Balkan Insight (30-Mar) and BBC (2-Jul-2015)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Apr-16 World View -- Radical Islamists finding a new home in Bosnia and Balkan states thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

5-Apr-16 World View -- Russia declared 'Mission complete' in Syria and withdrew, but the war rages on

Bangladesh's Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) terror group targets 'atheist bloggers'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia declared 'Mission complete' in Syria and withdrew, but the war rages on


Syrian soldiers celebrate their victory against ISIS in Qaryatain, Syria, on Monday. (AP)
Syrian soldiers celebrate their victory against ISIS in Qaryatain, Syria, on Monday. (AP)

A limited cease-fire went into effect in Syria on February 27. Then, on March 15, Russia's president Vladimir Putin announced that most of Russia's forces in Syria would be withdrawn because "the objectives set before the Defense Ministry and the Armed Forces have on the whole been achieved."

The cease-fire had been mostly holding, despite some violations. But now it may be collapsing. On Friday, jihadists working with rebel groups scored a new victory over the army of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, by taking over the village of Al Eis 16 miles southwest of Aleppo. According to the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front), al-Nusra Front militants deployed three suicide bombers and a number of armored vehicles to breach the government’s defensive lines and take over the village.

The capture of Al Eis is a strategic victory because it controls a section of the M5 highway, a vital artery that serves as the backbone of the country’s road system. The al-Nusra militias were aided by militias from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), as well as from some so-called "moderate" anti-Assad rebel militias. The three groups have very different objectives, but they have one objective in common: the defeat of Bashar al-Assad.

We might presume that al-Assad's army can pull together enough troops and, with the help of massive bombing by Russian warplanes, can recapture Al Eis. But the point of mentioning this victory by the anti-Assad forces, even if temporary, is that the cease-fire, if it ever existed, is collapsing.

As I wrote several times in February, the "cessation of hostilities" ( "12-Feb-16 World View -- US and Russia agree to a farcical 'cessation of hostilities' in Syria") and cease-fire had absolutely no chance of succeeding for several reasons:

There have been talks of a "political solution" in Syria for over a year, and I always wondered what ISIS and al-Nusra would do when presented with a "political solution," given that they aren't even part of the peace negotiations in Geneva. When I wrote about the Geneva 'proximity talks' in January, I had just heard a BBC analyst who gave an answer to that very question. He said that once a political solution was reached, then all the Sunni jihadists would leave ISIS and al-Nusra, and go home, since the political solution would leave them no more reason to fight, and then ISIS and al-Nusra would dissolve.

As I said at the time, this is the kind of Fantasyland and state of total denial that the politicians live in. The fall of Al Eis is an indication that the war will go on for some time, because none of the major participants in Syria really wants it to end.

In 2003, the American military declared "Mission accomplished!" in Iraq. Now Vladimir Putin has done the same in Syria. I would be very surprised if Russia is really finished in Syria. LA Times and Reuters

Bangladesh's Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) terror group targets 'atheist bloggers'

A significant danger to Bangladesh and to the entire region is the rapid growth of a new generation terror organization, the Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), which particularly targets tech-savvy college educated intellectual jihadists. It differs significantly from older major militant Islamic fundamentalist groups because its main goal is not fighting or influencing the political-administrative structures in order to implement their Islamic fundamentalist ideology or to carry out spectacular terrorist attack to discredit the state to gain publicity.

Instead, their focus seems to be the eradication of secular or atheist bloggers, or any other media people who they believe pose a threat to their fundamentalist Islamic teachings and lifestyle. The main targets are liberal, independent and secular academic and independent intellectuals, bloggers and cultural personalities.

For example, on May 12, 2015, Ananta Bijoy Das (32), a progressive writer, blogger, editor of science fiction magazine Jukti, and an organizer of Gonojagoron Mancha (People's Resurgence Platform), was hacked to death, using machetes, by four assailants. Earlier, on March 30, 2015, another blogger and online activist Oyasiqur Rahman Babu (27) had been hacked to death in broad daylight in Dhaka city for his allegedly atheist views. In 2013, ABT had issued a list of 84 “atheist bloggers” on the grounds that "All of them are enemy of the Islam."

ABT is distinguished from better known Islamist extremist groups in Bangladesh by its propaganda and indoctrination capabilities. ABT projects its doctrine of jihad through 117 web pages, including Facebook and Twitter handles, and various blogs. Unlike older jihadist groups, ABT is able to adapt quickly to new government security measures, and so presents an enormous danger to Bangladesh and the region. E-International Relations (30-Jan) and South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP - India) and The Hindu 24-Sep-2015

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Apr-16 World View -- Russia declared 'Mission complete' in Syria and withdrew, but the war rages on thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

4-Apr-16 World View -- Syria's Alawites threaten to abandon Bashar al-Assad

Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict extremely dangerous, despite 'unilateral ceasefire'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict extremely dangerous, despite 'unilateral ceasefire'


Furious Azerbaijan president Ilham Aliyev announces that the cease-fire will be observed
Furious Azerbaijan president Ilham Aliyev announces that the cease-fire will be observed

Heavy fighting continued on Sunday for the second day between Azerbaijani and ethnic Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh (NK). As I reported yesterday, there is widespread concern that this conflict could spread south into the Mideast and north into the Caucasus.

There were many international calls for a cease-fire. Armenia accused Azerbaijan of starting the renewed fighting. Azerbaijan's president Ilham Aliyev accused Armenia of violating international law, and announced a "unilateral ceasefire":

"We won't abandon our principal position, but at the same time, we observe the ceasefire, and after that we will try to solve the conflict peacefully. At the same time, we will strengthen our army. We are fighting on our territory. If an Armenian soldier doesn't want to die, then let him get off Azeri territory. I have said that many times, and I want to repeat it now."

However, Artsrun Hovhannisyan, spokesman for the Armenian Defence Ministry, said: "The statement by the Azerbaijan side is an information trap and does not amount to a unilateral ceasefire."

The Nagorno-Karabakh military (which holds to the position that it is distinct from the Armenian military) said: "The Nagorno-Karabakh armed forces are ready to meet and discuss a ceasefire proposal in the context of restoring former positions."

In fact, there have been reports of continued fighting by both sides.

As we described in yesterday's report, the NK conflict is extremely dangerous. There are reports that Turkey is openly supporting Azerbaijan. Russia is remaining nominally neutral, but Armenia is an important Russian ally, while Turkey is an important Russian enemy. It's possible that either Turkey or Russia could intervene militarily, in which case, the conflict would draw other countries in and begin to spiral. AzerTag (Azerbaijan) and Reuter

Syria's Alawites threaten to abandon Bashar al-Assad

In a surprise, a document has emerged by the leaders of Syria's Alawite sect dissociating members of the sect from the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad.

Al-Assad himself is an Alawite, and the Alawites have been the group in Syria most loyal to him, as al-Assad has conducted his genocidal attempts to exterminate the Sunni majority as if they were cockroaches. But this relationship is at a high cost for the Alawites:

The new document is called a "Declaration of Identity Reform." The document concedes "that we have been, for far too long, defined with the words of others rather than our own," and seeks to remedy this situation by establishing a new and distinct identity.

In interviews with foreign journalists, Alawite leaders said that they "should not be associated with the crimes the regime has committed." The document says that Syria has suffered because of "totalitarian regimes:

"The vicissitudes of the Syrian land tender proof that no true national integration has materialized yet. A national integration was forged before the era of the modern State through the coercion of imperial rule. Later, it became no more than an illusion exhibited by totalitarian regimes. ...

26: The ruling political power, whoever embodies it, does not represent us nor does it shape our identity or preserves our safety and reputation. Nor do we, the Alawites, substantiate it or generate its power. The legitimacy of a regime can only be considered according to the criteria of democracy and fundamental rights."

Finally, and perhaps most surprisingly, the document declares that Alawism is not a branch of Shia Islam, as has been widely reported in the press for years;

"28: We do not speak, in this Declaration, as religious preachers but as people inspired by religious thought. Doctrinal Islam, Sunni or Shia, in our view, originated in a quest to understand God's message, the religious. It focuses on what comes from God. In contrast, Alawism can be regarded as a quest to understand what God truly is. In Doctrinal Islam, God is behind everything. In Alawism, everything is hidden behind God.

Our differentiation of Alawism from Shiism is not a shift from the latter, nor an evolutionary act. It is a reverence to the primary and original truth.

29: The fact that Alawism and Shiism share some formal religious sources does not make Alawism a branch of Shiism. Since Shiism until today allows for the constructive interpretation of religious texts (Al-Ijtihad) it was merely an obligatory passage for all those who wanted to restore or even revolutionize Muslim thought."

The document also calls for integration with other religions:

"35: Alawism incorporates elements of other monotheist religions, most notably Judaism and Christianity. These elements enrich Alawism and shall not be seen as marks of deviation from Islam but as elements that bear witness to our riches and universality."

Alawite Declaration of Identify Reform (PDF) and Telegraph (London) and BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Apr-16 World View -- Syria's Alawites threaten to abandon Bashar al-Assad thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

3-Apr-16 World View -- Armenia-Azerbaijan escalating conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh threatens the entire region

New EU-Turkey migrant crisis is developing rapidly

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Armenia vs Azerbaijan conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh worst in two decades


Nagorno-Karabakh borders as of May 1994.  They've been frozen since then. (ADST)
Nagorno-Karabakh borders as of May 1994. They've been frozen since then. (ADST)

Centuries old conflicts between Orthodox (Armenian Apostolic) Christians in Armenia and (mostly Shia) Muslims in Azerbaijan boiled over into a bloody war after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. By the time that the war ended in a cease-fire in 1994, the Armenians had annexed several Azerbaijani regions, and were in control of an enclave right in the middle of Azerbaijan called Nagorno-Karabakh (NK). Although both populations had lived in relative peace for decades, more than 600,000 ethnic Azeris and 300,000 ethnic Armenians were forced to flee from the fighting, so that today the enclave has a population of about 100,000 Armenians.

Karabakh is a word of Turkic and Persian origin meaning "black garden", while "Nagorno" is a Russian word meaning "mountain."

When I wrote about this conflict in December, I quoted Azerbaijan sources as saying that Armenian forces had broken the cease-fire 105 times over a single weekend, while Armenian sources were saying that Azerbaijanis had broken the cease-fire 110 times over the same weekend. ( "7-Dec-15 World View -- Azerbaijan faces rising radical Shia Islamist insurgency")

Fears that the low-level conflict might spiral into a larger war were realized on Saturday when the worst violence since 1994 broke out in NK with tanks, heavy artillery and helicopters for the first time in two decades. 18 Armenian soldiers were killed, and Azerbaijan lost 12 soldiers. There were unconfirmed reports of civilian deaths.

Internationally, NK is considered part of Azerbaijan's sovereign territory, but its Armenian inhabitants call themselves citizens of the Artsakh Republic. The territory has its own flag, an international airport, police and armed forces, although regular Armenian soldiers serve on the frontline.

Each side said that the other had started the conflict on Saturday.

There is a peculiarity about this situation that's either a coincidence or a conspiracy - take your pick.

Armenia's president Serzh Sargsyan and Azerbaijan's president Ilham Aliyev each met separately with US vice president Joe Biden as they attended the nuclear summit in Washington on Friday, just before the new hostilities broke out.

Matthew Bryza, the former US ambassador to Azerbaijan, speaking on the BBC, recalled what happened in 2008, when the world was focused on the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Bryza says that he's always suspected that Russia's president (then prime minister) Vladimir Putin took advantage of the 2008 Beijing Olympics to start a war in Georgia by firing at Georgian forces from behind the South Ossetian separatist peacekeepers, resulting in full-scale war after Georgia responded.

Bryza says that this "smells like" the same thing -- Putin snubbed President Obama's invitation to attend this Washington summit. Then the two leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan meet with Biden, and at that very moment, the violence reaches an unprecedented new level. Bryza says that Putin is very much engaged in the situation, while Obama is ignoring it. Bryza says that this "conspiracy thinking" could be way off, but the US has to become actively engaged. If not, Russia will completely dominate the region. BBC and AFP and AP and The Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training (ADST)

Russian analysis: Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict could spread throughout the region

Armenia and Azerbaijan are two of the most militarized countries in the world. The main supplier of weaponry to both countries has been Russia. Furthermore, both countries have some of the world's most sophisticated high tech military equipment. The widespread fear of escalation of the violence in Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) is because both sides possess such high tech military equipment from Russia.

Russia is theoretically neutral between the two countries, but if that was ever true, it certainly stopped being true after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane last year, causing a major fault line to open between the two countries. Armenia is a long-time ally of Russia, and Russia has a military base in Armenia. Azerbaijan is ethnically Turkic, and has very close relations with Turkey. Azerbaijan has military treaties with Turkey. Azerbaijani and Turkish Armed Forces regularly conduct joint military exercises, and two are planned in 2016. ( "21-Jan-16 World View -- Azerbaijan forced to choose between Russia and Turkey")

An analysis by Alexander Khramchikhin, deputy director of the Institute of Political and Military Analysis in Moscow, divides the four countries into the "senior comrades" -- Russia and Turkey -- and the "junior allies" -- Armenia and Azerbaijan. He says that Russia is in a "delicate position" because it sold weapons to Azerbaijan, as well as to Armenia, "our closest ally in the CSTO," the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).

According to Khramchikhin:

In this regard, a new war between Armenia and Azerbaijan can very easily escalate into armed conflict between the "senior comrades" - Russia and Turkey. Besides that, there is also a significant probability of direct military clashes over Syria.

The peculiarity of the situation is that the "senior" allies do not abut with their "younger" allies, but border on the "junior" enemies: Russia with Azerbaijan, and Turkey with Armenia. And there is not a zero probability that military hardware that we sold to Azerbaijan will be used to fight not only against our closest ally, but also against the Russian army.

If Russia and Turkey start a war that will involve and Armenia, in Azerbaijan there is a strong temptation to attack from the north of Karabakh, using the fact that the Armenian Armed Forces are fully engaged on the Turkish front. However, in this case, Azerbaijan itself has a chance to blow from the north of Russia. Moreover, there is a substantial likelihood that Iran will not only sympathize with the Russian-Armenian coalition and directly fight on her side. Then Azerbaijan will get even with Iran, which will make a battle not just to win, but for survival."

Saturday already saw the greatest outbreak of military hostilities since 1994. A further escalation of the conflict could destabilize the entire Mideast, and could also destabilize in the entire South and North Caucasus regions, at a time when Russia already has its hands full in Ukraine and Syria.

Russia may consider the option of deploying Russian troops or CSTO peacekeepers in Armenia proper along the border with Azerbaijan, in order to attempt to stabilize the situation. Jamestown and Voenno-Promyshlennyi Kurier (Moscow, 16-Mar, Trans) and Russia Direct (Moscow)

New EU-Turkey migrant crisis is developing rapidly

Another major crisis is developing rapidly: Greece will be sending migrants back to Turkey starting on Monday, and it's widely believed that Turkey is not ready. Furthermore, many people in Turkey are opposed to receiving the migrants back from Europe. The first group of 750 refugees are scheduled to be returned to Turkey at the beginning of the week. International Business Times and Kathimerini

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Apr-16 World View -- Armenia-Azerbaijan escalating conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh threatens the entire region thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

2-Apr-16 World View -- Tensions grow in Israel and West Bank over shooting of disabled Palestinian

N. Korea's Kim Jong-un gains 70 pounds, tells citizens to 'eat roots'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

N. Korea's Kim Jong-un gains 70 pounds, tells citizens to 'eat roots'


Recent picture of Kim Jong-un after gaining 70 pounds (Reuters)
Recent picture of Kim Jong-un after gaining 70 pounds (Reuters)

An editorial in North Korea's state-run media contained this announcement:

"The road to revolution is long and arduous. We may have to go on an arduous march, during which we will have to chew the roots of plants once again.

Even if we give up our lives, we should continue to show our loyalty to our leader, Kim Jong Un, until the end of our lives."

The phrase "arduous march" alludes to a 1990s famine. The announcement amounts to a warning that a new famine is approaching.

President Kim Jong-un has not been eating roots, apparently. Recent pictures show that he's put on 70 pounds in the last year.

North Korea has ordered every citizen in the capital to provide around two pounds of rice to the state’s supplies every month, while starving farmers are forced to hand over much of the food they produce to the military. Daily Mail (London) and Fox News

Tensions grow in Israel and West Bank over shooting of disabled Palestinian


Screen grab from video showing Palestinian after being shot in the head
Screen grab from video showing Palestinian after being shot in the head

On March 24, two young Palestinians in Hebron in the West Bank stabbed and wounded an Israeli soldier. Nearby soldiers shot the two Palestinians dead.

But a video emerged shortly afterwards, showing that the incident was a lot more complicated. In particular, it shows an Israeli soldier, eleven minutes after the stabbing incident, approaching one of the Palestinians while he was lying on the ground, already disabled, and shooting the disabled assailant in the head, after which blood pours out of his head.

The video went viral. The Israeli soldier was arrested.

There was a chorus of condemnation. Israeli public opinion was against the soldier. Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, it did not "represent the values of the Israeli Defense Forces." Nickolay Mladenov, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, called it an "extrajudicial execution," and said, "This was a gruesome, immoral, and unjust act that can only fuel more violence and escalate an already volatile situation."

After that, two more videos of the same incident have emerged. One of them seems to show Israeli soldiers congratulating each other on the kill, while the other seems to show that the soldier was afraid that disabled Palestinian was wearing a bomb.

Since then, Israeli opinions have started changing in favor of the soldier. Netanyahu met with the father of the Israeli soldier, and said, "In recent months our soldiers have bravely and resolutely stood up in the face of terrorist attacks and murderers who set out to kill them. The soldiers are forced to make decisions in the field, in real time, under stress and conditions of uncertainty. This is not a simple reality and I'm sure that the investigation is taking the entirety of these circumstances into account. I am convinced that the investigation will be professional and fair towards your son."

Military prosecutors say that the evidence showed that the soldier killed the killed Palestinian assailant "deliberately and unnecessarily": "In our opinion, the evidence indicates serious suspicions against the suspect."

However, the initial charge of murder was downgraded to manslaughter. No reason was given, but it likely indicates that the prosecution believes it would have difficulty proving the act was premeditated.

Ayman Odeh, a Palestinian member of Israel's Knesset, was quoted as saying, "Israel has become a place where public executions are carried out with the cheers of the crowd. The price of security and moral deterioration is being paid by both peoples." Times of Israel and LA Times and Ma'an News (West Bank)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Apr-16 World View -- Tensions grow in Israel and West Bank over shooting of disabled Palestinian thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

1-Apr-16 World View -- China close to deploying very long range DF-41 missile

China-US differences sharpen over South China Sea

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China close to deploying very long range DF-41 missile


Mobile DF-41 missile
Mobile DF-41 missile

China is in the final phase of testing the world's longest range missile, the DF-41, with an operational range of 14,500 km. It can travel over the Pacific Ocean and strike any city in the western US, or travel over the North Pole and strike any city in the eastern US, in each case within about half an hour.

It's believed that each DF-41 is capable of carrying ten independently targetable nuclear weapons. A typical Chinese Second Artillery Corps (SAC) might have 12 missile launchers capable of launching two DF-41s each, so a single SAC has the capability to target the United States with 120-240 nuclear warheads.

The DF-41 is expected to be deployed by the end of this year.

I'm always somewhat bemused when people make comments that the greatest existential threat to the United States is the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), or even Iran. Either of those threats is minuscule compared to the threat from China.

For years, I've been writing about one Chinese missile system after another, specifically designed to strike American aircraft carriers or American cities. China has the manufacturing capacity to produce hundreds of these missiles, and clearly is preparing for war and planning to use them. Compared to China, ISIS really is junior varsity. South China Morning Post and Express (London) and China Topix

China-US differences sharpen over South China Sea

A meeting between president Barack Obama and China's president Xi Jinping at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington on Thursday is being called "constructive," and it was constructive, if by "constructive" you mean that it provided a forum for sharp disagreements bordering on military threats.

On Wednesday, prior to the meeting, a Dept. of Defense spokesman announced that the US would not recognize an "air defense identification zone" (ADIZ) in the South China Sea, in case China decided to impose one.

The spokesman said that the US expects a ruling from an international court within the next few weeks on a case brought by the Philippines against China over its claims to the entire South China Sea. The fear is that China would react angrily to an adverse ruling, and try to impose an ADIZ in the South China Sea, just as it did in the East China Sea near Japan in 2013. The US refused to recognize that ADIZ either.

If an ADIZ in the South China Sea were recognized, then any foreign aircraft would have to ask permission from China to fly through it. US officials have repeatedly said that the US military would fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows.

Xi responded by warning the US that China would not accept violations of its sovereignty in the name of freedom of navigation. Xi is quoted as saying, "The hope is that all parties will correctly view and handle the South China Sea and adopt an objective and impartial attitude ... particularly countries outside this region."

Some $5 trillion in trade passes through the South China Sea on ships each year, including $1.2 trillion of US trade.

China had pledged never to militarize the South China Sea, but has reneged on that promise, suggesting that nothing that China says is to be believed. China has built several artificial islands in the South China Sea and converted them into military bases with military aircraft and advanced radar, the military force that would be used to try to enforce an ADIZ. Reuters and The Hill and South China Morning Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Apr-16 World View -- China close to deploying very long range DF-41 missile thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

31-Mar-16 World View -- US military will deploy three brigades to eastern Europe to counter Russia

Libya's Government of National Accord sails into port of Tripoli

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

US military will deploy three brigades to eastern Europe to counter Russia


U.S. troops participate in Latvia's Independence Day military parade in Riga on 15-Nov-2015 (Reuters)
U.S. troops participate in Latvia's Independence Day military parade in Riga on 15-Nov-2015 (Reuters)

Starting in February 2107, the US military will deploy three fully manned US combat brigades in eastern Europe, near the border with Russia. Each brigade has about 4,500 soldiers, bringing with them military vehicles and other equipment. The deployment is in response to "an agressive Russia."

In recent years, Russia has invaded Georgia and Ukraine, and occupied and annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula, all without invitation or UN Security Council approval.

Because of those actions, Russia's Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov lacked credibility when he said:

"Stories are being spread that Russia will send its tanks into the Baltic states, into Sofia or into Budapest. No one intends to do that. There are no such plans, nothing. Russia does not want war. The very idea of it is ridiculous."

The new deployment is meant to calm fears of eastern European nations, some of whom fear that they will be Russia's next target. AP and BBC and Reuters

Libya's Government of National Accord sails into port of Tripoli

This is another one of those bizarre stories that are so common in today's Bizarro world.

On Wednesday, Libya's Government of National Accord (GNA) arrived in Tripoli, the capital city of Libya. The government was created by Libya Dialogue, a UN-managed body. The prime minister of the GNA is Fayez Sarraj. He has appointed a 32-member cabinet. The government has been headquartered in a hotel in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, which is right next door.

The existing government in Tripoli has warned Sarraj not to set foot in Libya, or he would be arrested. The Tripoli government even shut down the airport to prevent Sarraj from flying into Tripoli, but Sarraj and seven of his ministers arrived by boat on Wednesday at the port in Tripoli, ready to take over and start governing.

When the 2011 Western military intervention occurred, Libya's long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi predicted that once he was gone there would be chaos, which is certainly true. There has been a lot of retrospective criticism of that intervention, based on revisionist history. What most people have forgotten was that Libya was already in total chaos from the "Arab Spring," as I described recently in "5-Mar-16 World View -- A look back at Libya in 2011 as the West debates another military intervention".

Today there are nearly 2,000 militias running different parts of Libya. There are also two major "national" governments, as well as two major jihadist groups, one al-Qaeda based and one ISIS-based.

The major players are:

So this is the situation into which Fayez Sarraj and the the seven ministers of his Government of National Accord (GNA) sailed on Wednesday.

According to Martin Kobler, the United Nations special representative to Libya:

"I commend the courage, determination and leadership of the Presidency Council under its president Fayez Serraj in moving forward with the implementation of the Libyan political agreement and the aspiration of the overwhelming majority of the Libyan people. The international community stands firmly behind them and is ready to provide the required support and assistance."

Although some factions in both governments favor the GNA, the leaders of both governments oppose the GNA. And of course neither of the two jihadist groups favors the GNA.

As we reported yesterday, Europeans expect hundreds of thousands of migrants from Libya. Some European governments would like to mount a military operation to enter Libya to remove ISIS and find a solution to the migrant problem. However, Western governments do not want to attempt such an operation without either a UN Security Council resolution, opposed by Russia, or an invitation by the Libyan "government," and the latter requires getting the Government of National Accord accepted by everyone, something that currently does not appear to be likely. Al Jazeera and BBC (11-Jan) and United Nations and AFP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-Mar-16 World View -- US military will deploy three brigades to eastern Europe to counter Russia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-Mar-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

30-Mar-16 World View -- Europeans expect hundreds of thousands of migrants from Libya

Human traffickers sell routes through Europe for 5000 euros

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Human traffickers sell routes through Europe for 5000 euros


Italian Navy personnel, left, approach a rubber dinghy filled with migrants in the Sicily channel, Mediterranean Sea (AP)
Italian Navy personnel, left, approach a rubber dinghy filled with migrants in the Sicily channel, Mediterranean Sea (AP)

With some 50,000 migrants trapped in Greece, thanks to the closing of the "Balkan route," Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung is reporting that human traffickers are now offering trips to northern Europe along new routes.

The phone numbers of traffickers are in Facebook. The migrants travel for days hidden below deck on a merchant ship, at the mercy of the weather. The new route leaves from southeast Turkey and reaches Greece without detection by the Nato patrols. From Greece they travel to Albania, and from there they can go north by car, or cross the Adriatic Sea to Italy.

Another alternative route is through Bulgaria. Serbia's border is closed, so refugees go to Romania and the treacherous Carpathian mountains, and travel north along the border with Moldova to Ukraine and Poland.

People traffickers charge 3000-5000 euros to make these trips, which are far more difficult and dangerous than the trip used to be across a few miles of the Aegean Sea, before the Balkan route was closed. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Trans)

Europeans expect hundreds of thousands of migrants from Libya

European officials are predicting that 500,000 to 800,000 migrants will arrive in Europe from Libya this year, now that the trip from Turkey through Greece has been effectively closed.

On March 20, the EU-Turkey deal to send migrants back to Turkey came into effect, and the so-called "Balkan route" north from Greece was closed almost completely. Since then the number of migrants arriving in Greece has been falling sharply, with only 1,000 people arriving in all of last week, while there were 2,000 a day in previous weeks.

At the same time, the number of migrants arriving from Libya has been increasing, albeit slowly so far. There were 13,829 registered arrivals so far this year, compared with 10,075 in the same period in 2015. But numbers are increasing rapidly as Italy's coast guard reported that it had rescued 1,482 migrants off the Libyan coast over the weekend. The stream of migrants is expected to grow quickly within the next month as the weather warms.

Once the migrants are in boats in the Mediterranean Sea, they head for Italy, but they're more likely to be stopped by any of a number of ships in Italy's navy and coast guard, or vessels with the Europe's Sophia and Frontex border control anti-people trafficking operations. A principal objective of these operations is to prevent shipwrecks and avoid disasters like the ones that saw 1,200 people drown over a few days in April last year.

Another difference between last year and this is the significantly expanded role of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) in Libya. Many in the West would like to launch a military operation into Libya to bring ISIS under control, but there is reluctance to do so. ( "13-Mar-16 World View -- Despite rapid growth of ISIS in Libya, West cannot agree on a strategy")

There are widespread fears that ISIS will use the growing flow of migrants from Libya to Europe to smuggle militants into Europe. Others discount this worry, saying that there are easier and less risky ways to smuggle militants into Europe.

Once migrants arrive in Italy, they are allowed to apply for asylum, a process that can take as long as 18 months. During that period, Italy holds them in "reception centers." There are now 106,000 people in these centers.

There are currently 8,000 people in centers run by the state, 20,000 in local council-run centers, and 78,000 in temporary centers run out of hotels or similar buildings by private entities that receive government funding. Italy has run out of space in its existing centers, and is now searching across the whole country for facilities that can be used for that purpose, to hold perhaps hundreds of thousands more migrants. France 24 and EU Observer and AFP and EurActiv and AFP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Mar-16 World View -- Europeans expect hundreds of thousands of migrants from Libya thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Mar-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

29-Mar-16 World View -- Pakistan's army declares war on Taliban in Punjab province

Lahore Easter attack gives army even greater control of Pakistan

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pakistan promises to 'avenge every drop of blood' spilled by terrorists


Pakistan's PM Nawaz Sharif giving nationwide televised address, promising vengeance
Pakistan's PM Nawaz Sharif giving nationwide televised address, promising vengeance

Pakistan is again in a state of shock, following Sunday's massive terrorist attack on a children's park in Lahore, killing more than 70 people, including many women and children, and injuring hundreds. Jamaat ul-Ahrar (JuA, Assembly of Freedom) said that they were targeting Christians on Easter, but most of those killed were Muslim.

Pakistanis are demanding to know why these kinds of attacks keep on happening, and why the government and the army don't put them to a stop. There's widespread suspicion in Pakistan and internationally, and especially in India, that Pakistan's government is supporting these terrorist militias for use in India and Afghanistan, and that now the Pakistani government is reaping what it sowed.

Pakistan's prime minister Nawaz Sharif gave a nationwide televised address on Monday:

"I understand that at this moment the entire nation is grieving the loss of innocent lives in Lahore tragedy and what message these terrorists want to convey by hitting soft targets.

It is our legal and constitutional responsibility to protect the state of Pakistan. We will bring those spreading religious hatred and sectarianism to justice. ...

My brothers and sisters, today again I am here to renew my commitment that we will avenge every drop of the blood of our martyred people and we are doing that, and we will not rest until we have accounted for everything to the end.

We will not let them raise their heads again, we will not allow them to play the lives of the people of Pakistan. This is my resolve, this is my government's resolve and this is the resolve of the 200 million people of Pakistan.

God willing, no terrorist can put a dent in our resolve."

It was a great speech, but few believed it, because it's been said so many times before, and nothing is ever solved.

According to Husain Haqqani, former Pakistan ambassador to the US, appearing on the BBC (my transcription):

"Every few years, Pakistani leaders announce that they are now going to crack down on terrorists, but multiple crackdowns later, the fundamental situation hasn't changed. Pakistan since 9/11 has had 8 prime ministers, 3 army chiefs, 7 heads of intelligence. But the problem seems to be that instead of fighting extremism, they always get distracted, either by regional politics, or domestic politics. ...

There are parts of the government that do not want to go after all [terrorist] groups, because they think that these groups also represent Pakistan's interests in the region. For example we understand that the Taliban in Afghanistan have never been the target of Pakistan's operations because they are useful to Pakistan. Similarly, group's like Lashkar-e-Toiba ... which operate in Kashmir and India have been spared.

The problem is that the groups that are spared then end up becoming the protectors of the groups that are being targeted, because as far as these groups are concerned, their ideology is one. All they want is a particular type of Islam ideology."

Sharif's televised address did not convince a lot of people. One Pakistani editorialist described these as "The Darkest of Days" for Pakistan:

"Once again, a not-so-small group of psychotic bigots have seized the narrative. Once again, a minority group has been the all-too-easy-to-hit target and once again the government is left floundering in the bloody wake and blathering platitudes right, left and center. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan were quick to board the bandwagon of dignitaries paying visits to hospitals and chairing meetings to mumble over the latest failure of the state to discharge its statutory duties, in this instance to protect the citizenry. Nothing of substance will come from their threadbare sympathies and calls for the perpetrators to be hunted down wherever they are, are of no more substance today than they were in the past.

The fact is that the perpetrators are all around us, hiding in plain view, and if there was a poll conducted among those protesting outside parliament, it may be found that some at least had sympathies with those who butchered women and children. After all, the persecution of minorities figures large in their list of 10 demands currently awaiting ratification by default as a weak government is unable to do anything much beyond a little light tear-gassing.

In any other country, the Lahore atrocity would be seen as a watershed moment for the government of the day. Not so in Pakistan, where wholesale butchery is standard fare in 2016. ..."

The reference to "those protesting outside parliament" alludes to another part of Sunday's story, where some 10,000 people in Islamabad were protesting the execution of the murderer of a Pakistani official who tried to protect a woman from being executed for blasphemy because she was a Christian. Among the demands of the protesters were the immediate execution of the woman, and that all five million members in Pakistan of the Ahmadi branch of Islam be expelled from the country. The editorialist says that it seems reasonable to believe that many of these protesters were themselves supporters of the terrorists that had committed the massacre on Sunday in Lahore. Pakistan Observer and ITV (London) and Express Tribune (Pakistan)

Pakistan's army launches a military crackdown in Southern Punjab province

In an operation that sounds a little bit like "Round up the usual suspects," Pakistan's army on Monday arrested a number alleged supporters of terror groups in the Southern Punjab district of Punjab province. According to an army PR spokesman: "A number of suspected terrorists and facilitators have been arrested during the five raids which were conducted in Lahore, Faisalabad and Multan after the Lahore suicide explosion." He added that a "huge cache of arms and ammunition" were also recovered.

Lahore is located in northeastern Punjab, but the Southern Punjab district is Pakistan's hotbed of jihadist activity. It's economically one of the poorest regions of Pakistan. The local government is riddled with corruption. And it's crowded with over 7,000 madrassas and seminaries, where young people go to be educated in extremism by militant leaders who operate with impunity.

According to the BBC's Pakistan correspondent Owen Bennett-Jones, there are about 100,000 of these militant leaders, so rounding all of them up is not a simple problem. Express Tribune (Pakistan) and The News (Pakistan)

Lahore Easter attack gives army even greater control of Pakistan

Owen Bennett-Jones, the BBC's correspondent in Pakistan, gave a lengthy analysis of the relations between the government, the army and the Taliban. He says that prime minister Nawaz Sharif is completely controlled by the army, since the army has the ability to force him out of office, as it did in a military coup in 1999 the last time Sharif was prime minister

Bennett-Jones says that the army is using terrorism to take greater and greater control of the government, leaving the prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, with less and less power. A major turning point was the December 2014 horrific Taliban attack on a Peshawar army school, killing over 130 schoolchildren.

Bennett-Jones was interviewed on the BBC on Monday (my transcription):

"Sharif was kicked out by the army last time he was prime minister. His top priority during this term of government was to get civilians running things, that has totally failed.

The army, after the Peshawar school attack just completely took over in all sorts of domestic areas. They already had control of foreign policy and nuclear policy, they then took over the legal system, they have military courts, and whole areas of domestic policy.

And now there's another encroachment by the area into a civilian area. They're now operating in Punjab, the prime minister's own province. It's part of a trend. The prime minister can only agree with the army. Otherwise he fears they will kick him out.

There are militant groups in Pakistan trying to launch attacks in India, in Afghanistan, in Kashmir, there are groups that are fighting for Islamic State, for Islamic law, and there are some fighting for sectarian reasons.

I think they're targeting in this sweep of southern Punjab Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which is a group they're already in confrontation with. Most of the groups the state is not taking on, and many would say indeed is cooperating with, but the army doesn't think it take them all on at once. There are some big groups, they are very strong, they have different objectives, but if they all turned against the state at the same time, the state would have a problem. So they have to pick and choose whom they fight."

Lashkar-e-Janghvi (LeJ) has publicly stated that its goal is the extermination of all Shia Muslims in Pakistan, and has been methodically setting off bombs in order to achieve that goal. An LeJ statement issued in 2011 says:

"Our mission [in Pakistan] is the abolition of this impure sect and people, the Shias and the Shia Hazaras, from every city, every village, every nook and corner of Pakistan. Like in the past, [our] successful Jihad against the Hazaras in Pakistan and, in particular, in Quetta is ongoing and will continue. We will make Pakistan their graveyard-- their houses will be destroyed by bombs and suicide bombers. ... Jihad against the Shia Hazaras has now become our duty. ... We will rest only after hoisting the flag of true Islam on the land of the pure -- Pakistan."

It could be considered somewhat amazing that an internal Pakistani group implementing a plan to exterminate all Shia Muslims in Pakistan could still exist, but according to Bennett-Jones, many of these Taliban-linked organizations are too big to fight.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Mar-16 World View -- Pakistan's army declares war on Taliban in Punjab province thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Mar-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

28-Mar-16 World View -- Pakistan Taliban branch takes credit for Easter massacre of Christians in Lahore

Thousands protest violently over execution of murderer of blasphemy reformer

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Thousands protest violently over execution of murderer of blasphemy reformer


Mobs of protestors move towards capital, wearing masks to protect themselves from the tear gas. (INP)
Mobs of protestors move towards capital, wearing masks to protect themselves from the tear gas. (INP)

The federal government called in the army on Sunday night to attempt to control around 10,000 people protesting the execution of Mumtaz Qadri in front of Pakistan's parliament building in Islamabad when the protests turned violent turned violent. ( "1-Mar-16 World View -- Pakistan unexpectedly executes murderer of liberal politician Salman Taseer")

Mumtaz Qadri was executed by hanging last month, after having been convicted of murdering Salman Taseer, the liberal governor of Punjab province in Pakistan, on January 4, 2011. Qadri was Taseer's bodyguard. To make sure he was dead, Qadri shot him in the chest 28 times. Qadri later said that he had shot Taseer because Taseer had opposed blasphemy laws in general, and for speaking out in favor of Asia Bibia, a Christian lady accused of blasphemy because she was Christian, and sentenced to death.

The blasphemy laws in Pakistan are absolutely crazy. If someone doesn't like you, he can claim that you said something that offends Islam or Mohammed, and you can be convicted of blasphemy, sometimes without a trial, and executed. The blasphemy laws are widely used without proof, and executions are becoming increasingly common.

At first those protesting the execution of Qadri on Sunday were peaceful. Then the crowd started throwing stones, and riot police used tear gas and batons to disperse them from the high-security zone outside the parliament building. Then the protesters set a metro bus station on fire, and also set containers on fire outside the Parliament House. A fire brigade vehicle dispatched to the scene was also set on fire.

A statement by the terrorist group Sunni Tehreek claimed that the government had turned the protests violent by attacking "Prophet-loving patriots," and vowed that the protests would continue.

The terrorists gave the government a list of ten demands. The list called for immediate execution of Asia Bibi, the Christian woman mentioned above whom Taseer tried to protect. The also demanded that Qadri be officially declared to be a "martyr," and that all five million members in Pakistan of the Ahmadi branch of Islam be expelled from the country. Pakistan Today and AFP and Dawn

Pakistan Taliban branch takes credit for Easter massacre of Christians in Lahore

Another day, another terror attack.

At least 69 people, mostly women and children, were killed and more than 300 injured in a suicide bombing attack in a park in Lahore, Pakistan, crowded with Christians celebrating Easter Sunday. The suicide bomber was apparently targeting children, as the explosion took place in a children's playground, near swings and other rides.

Jamaat ul-Ahrar (JuA, Assembly of Freedom) claimed responsibility. According to a spokesman, "Members of the Christian community who were celebrating Easter today were our prime target. [However,] we didn't want to kill women and children. Our targets were male members of the Christian community."

JuA has long been one of the terrorist groups under the umbrella group Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). JuA split off from TTP in the middle of 2014 in a disagreement caused by TTP's plans to hold peace talks with Pakistan's government. JuA has rejoined TTP last year, but has also declared allegiance to the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

On March 15 of last year, JuA claimed responsibility for suicide bombers at two churches, one Catholic and one Protestant, also in Lahore, killing 15 people and injuring 70.

After last year's attack, some 4,000 Christians later took to the streets in Lahore, many armed with clubs as they smashed vehicles and attacked a city bus. Two people were accused by the mob of being behind the explosions, and were attacked and killed by the mob. There was also rioting in other Pakistan cities, including Islamabad and Karachi. ( "16-Mar-15 World View -- Violent Christian riots follow bombing of two churches in Lahore, Pakistan")

There have been no reports of similar violence this year, but it's no coincidence that Sunday's attacks on Christians occurred almost on the one year anniversary of last year's attacks and subsequent riots. Dawn (Pakistan) and NBC News and Business Standard (India)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Mar-16 World View -- Pakistan Taliban branch takes credit for Easter massacre of Christians in Lahore thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Mar-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

27-Mar-16 World View -- Iraqi army fleeing for their lives again

Loss of Palmyra in Syria highlights setbacks for ISIS

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Loss of Palmyra in Syria highlights setbacks for ISIS


Ruins of Hadrian’s Gate, Palmyra -- what it used to look like before the ISIS invasion (Getty)
Ruins of Hadrian’s Gate, Palmyra -- what it used to look like before the ISIS invasion (Getty)

Bashar al-Assad's Syrian army, backed by heavy airstrikes by Russia's warplanes, is close to recapturing Palmyra from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), according to Syrian state media. Russian jets carried out 40 air sorties near Palmyra in the past day, hitting 158 targets and killing over 100 militants.

ISIS invaded and captured in May of last year, and caused worldwide outrage by destruction of monuments and antiquities that were millennia old. Syrian officials claim that many of the destroyed antiquities will be restored.

At the same time, Iraqi forces, aided by airstrikes from American and Turkish warplanes striking ISIS positions, overran a string of ISIS-controlled villages in northern Iraq.

According to Lt. Gen. Abdul-Ghani al-Assadi, commander of Iraq’s counterterrorism forces, ISIS defenses are crumbling and fighters are fleeing:

"They don’t fight. They just send car bombs and then run away. And when we surround them, they either surrender or infiltrate themselves among the civilians.

Their morale is shaken. We listen to them on their communications devices. Their leaders are begging them to fight, but they answer that it is a lost cause. They refuse to obey orders and run away."

According to Col. Steve Warren, the U.S. military’s spokesman in Baghdad:

"As time goes on, as our systems mature, we’re becoming more effective. We’ve become much better at spotting them. Anytime they try to move, we’re able to find and finish them. They can’t move, haven’t won any battles for a long time, and they’ve got difficulty leading because we’re hitting their leaders."

It's not surprising that there's little will to fight among ISIS fighters. Most of them have come from countries around the world, and there's little reason for a jihadist from Indonesia or Algeria to want to give up his life in Iraq or Syria.

ISIS fighters captured Mosul two years ago by entering the town and standing aside to allow the Iraqi army to flee for their lives. Now, operations have begun to recapture the town of Mosul from ISIS, but the operation is not expected to be successful before next year. Washington Post and LA Times and AP and Guardian (London)

Iraqi army fleeing for their lives again

The Iraq ground invasion in 2003 succeeded within about three months, mainly because Saddam Hussein's army really didn't want to fight. After their defeat, there was relatively little direct fighting beyond responding to IEDs and suicide bombers. But as I wrote in 2007 in "Iraqi Sunnis are turning against al-Qaeda in Iraq", the Iraqis never had their heart in fighting the Americans, and al-Qaeda in Iraq had to depend on foreign fighters. But even they were ejected by the Iraqi Sunnis with the help of President George Bush's "surge," which largely stabilized the country.

The victory in Iraq was squandered by the withdrawal of all American forces in 2009, but even so, when the war in Syria began in 2011, it should have ended within a year or so, and I said so at the time.

Both Iraq and Syria are in generational Awakening eras, where there are still plenty of people alive who survived the extremely horrific Syrian civil war and the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s, the latter climaxing with the use of chemical weapons by Saddam in 1988. The 1991 Iraq war ended quickly, the 2003 Iraq war ended quickly, and the 2011 Syrian war should have ended quickly, all for the same reasons: a generational Awakening era.

The reason that Syria was anomalous was because of one man, president Bashar al-Assad, who acted as a sociopathic genocidal monster, supported by Russia and Iran, targeting innocent protestor civilians as if they were cockroaches to be exterminated.

Another difference between the Syria war versus the two Iraq wars was that America fulfilled its role as policeman of the world and stopped them. In 1990, Saddam Hussein tried to annex Kuwait, just as Hitler tried to annex territories in 1939. but the first Gulf War forced Saddam to retreat. In 2003, fear of WMDs led to the second Gulf War, that forced Saddam out of office. President Obama could have stopped al-Assad on a couple of occasions, but he refused to do so, referring to the Iraq war as a disaster, despite its successful conclusion. As a result, al-Assad was not stopped, and has created the biggest catastrophe since World War II -- millions of refugees, and the rise of ISIS.

So among these wars that I've been describing, the leader was stopped in two of them, and the leader was allowed to continue with impunity in the third. But what all three have in common was the soldiers have little will to fight, which is what you would expect in a generational Awakening era.

Reports are that we're seeing the same thing happen in Iraq, among Iraqi soldiers who are supposed to be conducting the operations to retake Mosul from ISIS. According to one report, Iraqi soldiers fled in panic over fear of mortar attacks from ISIS. Few stood their ground.

According to another report, an American Marine unit has been sent in to revive the moral of Iraq's 15th Division, many of whose troops had been seen fleeing into the mountains over fear of ISIS. In fact, this is the purpose of Marine firebase that I reported on a few days ago. ( "21-Mar-16 World View -- Pentagon to expand a secret military firebase in Iraq after Marine was killed")

President Obama has said many times that there would never be "any kind of military action that would involve boots on the ground." Like many of his campaign promises, his promises of complete withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan have not been kept. Instead, he's being forced to commit more and more troops to Iraq, and to delay troop withdrawals in other places.

To the contrary, his total withdrawal from Iraq and his unwillingness to stop al-Assad, even after he'd used Sarin gas on his own people, is increasingly teaching Obama a lesson that many people have had to learn in history: "We have to fight them there, so we won't have to fight them here." Independent (London) and Daily Beast

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Mar-16 World View -- Iraqi army fleeing for their lives again thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Mar-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

26-Mar-16 World View -- Iran and Pakistan attempt to erase 40 years of sectarian hostility

Iran and Pakistan agree to open border crossings and improve trade

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iran and Pakistan agree to open border crossings and improve trade


Posters with portraits of Iran's president Hassan Rouhani in the center, with Pakistan's prime minister Nawaz Sharif on the right, and Pakistan's president Mamnoon Hussain on the left, Islamabad on Friday (Reuters)
Posters with portraits of Iran's president Hassan Rouhani in the center, with Pakistan's prime minister Nawaz Sharif on the right, and Pakistan's president Mamnoon Hussain on the left, Islamabad on Friday (Reuters)

Flush from having economic sanctions lifted, thanks to last year's nuclear deal with the West, Iran is anxious to move as quickly as possble to increase trade ties with regional neighbors. Thus, Iran's president Hassan Rouhani paid a visit on Friday to Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan, and met with Pakistan's prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

The two agreed on plans to increase plans, and to complete a $7.5 billion Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline whose development was halted because of the sanctions. Iran is interested in Pakistani textiles, surgical goods, sports goods and agricultural products.

Pakistan will open two new crossing points on its border with Iran, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Friday, helping to encourage trade hampered by years of Western sanctions against Tehran. Dunyan News (Pakistan) and Press Tv (Iran)

Iran and Pakistan attempt to erase 40 years of sectarian hostility

Pakistan has always had close ties with Saudi Arabia, and so its ties with Iran have been strained because of the recent hostility between the two countries, especially after the Saudi embassy in Tehran was stormed and firebombed in January. Pakistan has tried to remain neutral in this dispute, and can point to the fact that it's refused to provide military support to the Saudis in their proxy war with Iran in Yemen. Pakistan has diplomatically supported the Saudis in that war, but when called upon by the Saudis to provide troops, they refused, angering the Saudis. ( "18-Jan-16 World View -- Pakistan tries to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran")

However, the hostility between Pakistan and Iran goes far deeper than just a split triggered by the Yemen war.

Following World War II, Iran and Pakistan were generally secular states, with little Sunni-Shia hostility. But this began to change abruptly in the late 1970s.

In Pakistan in 1977, the sectarian government of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was overthrown in a bloodless military coup by Sunni General Zia-ul-Haq, who then executed Bhutto two years later.

In 1979, Russia invaded Afghanistan, viewed as a mostly Christian army invading a Muslim country. This energized Zia and allowed him to form militias to fight the Russians. These militias later became the Taliban.

Also in 1979, Iran's Great Islamic Revolution turned the country into an explicitly Shia state.

These three events moved Pakistan and Iran in opposite sectarian directions, and hostility between the two countries has been growing.

In recent years, there have been numerous clashes along their common border. Two branches of the Pakistani Taliban, Jundullah (Soldiers of God) and Jaish-ul-Adl (Army of Justice), have committed themselves to the extermination of all Shias, and have conducted numerous terrorist acts on Iranian soil. Iran has repeatedly accused Pakistan of supporting these terrorist groups and attacks, an accusation that Pakistan's government denies.

So terrorism was a major theme of Rouhani's visit to Pakistan, as he said:

"It is the will and the resolve of the two countries to firmly combat against extremists and the terrorist groups not to allow them to threaten our shared borders."

This is an interesting statement, because Pakistan has been unable to control terrorist acts against Shias within its own borders, so there's little chance that it can control terrorist attacks against Shias in Iran. To the contrary, in fact, Jaish-ul-Adl leaders may even now be planning an attack in Iran just to derail this new Iran-Pakistan détente.

This appears to be one of those situations where two nations avoid potential war by building up trade, so that any war would be bad for business. But as usual, the opposite will almost certainly turn out to be true. Some incident will cause Iran and Pakistan to renew hostilities, and one of the first hostile acts will be a trade boycott on one side or the other. Trade is never an impediment to war, only an additional weapon of war.

The other in play here is that Iran has very good relations with India, as Hindus and Shia Muslims have been allied against Sunni Muslims in numerous wars as far back as the 680s decade. That alliance surpasses any ephemeral business dealing when it comes to choosing sides.

As I've written many times (see "15-Jul-15 World View -- Arab views of Iran nuclear deal"), Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, the US, India, Russia and Iran will be allies, and China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia will be allies. Deutsche Welle and Tasnim News (Iran) and Diplomat (23-Oct-2014) and Dawn (Pakistan, 6-Jul-2012)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Mar-16 World View -- Iran and Pakistan attempt to erase 40 years of sectarian hostility thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Mar-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

25-Mar-16 World View -- Christianity grows in India despite anti-Christian violence from Hindu activists

Growth of Christianity in India attributed to proselytizing by missionaries

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

India's increased violence against Christians blamed on Hindu activism


Hindu nationalist political poster
Hindu nationalist political poster

Mob violence by Hindu nationalists (hindutvas) are being blamed for 30 incidents of violence against Christians in India in the first two months of 2016.

In many of the incidents, police just stand by and allow the violence to continue. For example, police stood idly by on January 29 in the province of Tamil Nadu when a mob of 30 Hindu activists attacked and beat a Catholic priest and three Church officials.

Many people blame the rise of anti-Christian violence on ambiguous attitude of India's government against religious intolerance, especially since the 2014 election of avowed Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi. Constitutionally, India is a secular state that welcomes all religions, in addition to Hinduism, but intolerance to Christianity, Sikhism, Islam and other religions has been growing since Modi's election.

Hindu nationalism is controversial in India because opponents associate it with "Hindutva violence," where the Hindutva movement began in 1923, led by terrorist Veer Savarkar (Vinayak Damodar Savarkar), mostly as a movement against British colonization. (See "'Hindutva' terrorist violence against Muslims shocks Indians" from 2008.) Modi became associated with Hindutva violence in 2002, as Governor of the Gujarat province, when he allegedly looked the other way when a train with Hindutva activists attacked a group of Muslims, triggering sectarian violence that led to hundreds of deaths and displacing more than 150,000 people, mostly Muslim. ( "15-Sep-13 World View -- Hindu nationalist nominated as India's prime minister")

According to Savarkar, Hinduism means people born in the "land of India" (Hindustan), who recognize the land as the holy place of their ancestors. They make up an ethnic entity united by the love for this common homeland and by common blood. The hindutva doctrine defines Muslims, Christians and other "heretical" minority groups as those whose land of origin is elsewhere and who, therefore, cannot love the land of India, thereby providing activists with a rationale for discrimination, or expelling them from India or, in recent years, killing them.

Although Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) party have not supported or praised the attacks against Christians, they haven't spoken out against them either, according to David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA, a Christian nonprofit organization:

"The central government [of India] has refused to speak out against the atrocities – thus further encouraging radical Hindus to step up their discrimination against Christians. The government's tolerance -- if not promotion -- of discrimination against Christians has led to a marked rise in the number of people within India openly pushing for a completely Hindu India."

Modi's unwillingness to speak out against anti-Christian violence is leading to charges that Modi is implicitly supporting the hindutva violence against Christians, as he allegedly implicitly supported the hindutva violence against Muslims in 2002.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, xenophobia and nationalism are growing in almost all countries around the world, as the survivors of World War II die off. Those survivors learned the lesson of how xenophobia and nationalism lead to the most horrific of wars, but the lessons they learned are almost completely forgotten today, as we go deeper into a generational Crisis era. Fox News and South Asia Terrorism Portal (2001) (SATP - India) and Zee News (India)

Tensions grow between India and America over religious intolerance

Last month, eight American senators and 26 members of the House of Representatives wrote to India's prime minister Narendra Modi expressing "particular concern" over the treatment of Christians, Muslims and Sikhs in India. This was the latest action by US officials targeting Modi's religious intolerance.

In 2005, Modi was denied entry to the United States on grounds that he bore a share of responsibility for the massacre that resulted from Hindutva violence in 2002, when he was Governor of the Gujarat province, as described above. The ban was kept in force until 2014, when Modi was elected prime minister.

If violence by Hindu activists continues to grow, this will continue as a political issue. Economist

Growth of Christianity in India attributed to proselytizing by missionaries

Demographic figures for India show what is apparently a contradiction, when comparing the population of Sikhs with the population of Christians. During the period 1991 to 2011, the fertility rate for Sikh women was 3.9 children per woman, while it was 3.8 children per woman for Christians.

And yet, during that same period, the Sikh population grew at an average rate of 1.2% per year, while the Christian population grew at the rate of 1.9% per year. Based on the relative fertility rates, the population of Sikhs and Christians should have been growing at around the same rate, but the Christian population grew much faster.

The difference is believed to be due to conversions. Sikhs do not proselytize, while Christian missionaries do proselytize, and convert people of other religions to Christianity. By comparing the growth rate of the two populations, and assuming that the differences are due to proselytization, then it's possible to compute that Christian missionaries in India have converted to Christianity 170,000 people of other religions, including Hindu and Muslim religions.

Anecdotal evidence indicates that a large percentage of the converts to Christianity are in the "untouchable" Dalit caste. According to Hinduism, Dalits are outcasts at the bottom of the spiritual scale of human worth, resulting in social stigma, denial of education, bullying and discrimination in housing and jobs.

People who are considered unfit to enter a Hindu temple are converting to a religion where they are welcome.

Apostasy is among the greatest of sins in almost every religion, including Christianity. In Pakistan, apostasy is given as a reason by terrorist groups of mass slaughter of Shia Muslims. Someone converting from Hinduism to Christianity is considered an apostate. If the reports are true that Christian missionaries are converting huge numbers of Hindus to Christianity, then anti-Christian nationalism and violence is very likely to grow among hindutva activists. Indian Express (1-Sep-2015) and Charisma News (Christian)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Mar-16 World View -- Christianity grows in India despite anti-Christian violence from Hindu activists thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Mar-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

24-Mar-16 World View -- China's coast guard warship rams vessel in Indonesian waters

US and Philippines agree on access to five military bases

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China's coast guard warship rams vessel in Indonesian waters


Indonesians blow up a foreign fishing boat caught illegally fishing in Indonesian waters (EPA)
Indonesians blow up a foreign fishing boat caught illegally fishing in Indonesian waters (EPA)

On Saturday, a large Chinese coast guard warship in Indonesian waters rammed a vessel that was being towed by an Indonesian patrol vessel. The vessel being towed was a Chinese fishing boat that had been illegally fishing in Indonesian waters around the Natuna Islands in the South China Sea. Another large Chinese warship arrived on the scene and forced the Indonesians to release the fishing vessel. However, the 8-member crew of the Chinese vessel had already been arrested, and are still in custody.

The Natuna Islands have always been sovereign Indonesian territory. They are far away from China, but because of the rich fishing grounds, China would like to use its military power to seize the islands from Indonesia. ( "21-Oct-14 World View -- Tensions grow with China over Indonesia's Natuna Islands")

For years, Indonesia has had a "war against illegal fishing" around the Natuna Islands. In recent years, Indonesia has captured and destroyed around 120 fishing ships that have been caught poaching in the country’s territorial waters. These ships have been from several nations besides China.

According to Indonesia's Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti:

"The Chinese government does not want to see its ships being sunk. Although the ship has gone, we did manage to arrest its crew for prosecution. It [China] should have not have behaved in such a way because a national government should not step in to support illegal, unreported or unregulated fishing."

The government says that it will formally protest China's "arrogant" actions.

China is claiming the entire South China Sea, and is using its massive military force to confiscate regions that have historically belonged to other nations, especially Vietnam and the Philippines. China is building artificial islands and converting them to military bases with advanced missile and radar systems. ( "23-Feb-16 World View -- China's military buildup neutralizes America's aircraft carriers")

China’s Foreign Ministry said that the fishing trawler was carrying out “normal activities” in “traditional Chinese fishing grounds":

"On March 19, after the relevant trawler was attacked and harassed by an armed Indonesian ship, a Chinese coast guard ship went to assist.

The Chinese side immediately demanded the Indonesian side at once release the detained Chinese fishermen and ensure their personal safety."

Indonesia's foreign policy has been devoted "maintaining peace" in the South China Sea by serving as an "honest broker" between China and other disputants. That's why the threat of making a formal protest, if carried out, would be out of character for Indonesia, since the Indonesians are afraid of souring relations with China. However, the prosecution of the fishermen would certainly turn into a major incident.

This ramming incident has clearly shocked the Indonesians. After meeting with Chinese embassy officials, Pudjiastuti was clearly angry:

"We feel interrupted and sabotaged in our efforts. We may take it to the international tribunal of the law of the sea."

In recent years, several south Asian countries, including Indonesia, Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia, have all been growing their naval capabilities in the region, in response to China's military bellicosity in the South China Sea. At the very least, this new incident is likely to trigger an additional naval buildup by Indonesia. Jakarta Post and Reuters and Diplomat

US and Philippines agree on access to five military bases

Two years after the the Philippines agreed in principle to give U.S. ships access to Philippine military bases, the two countries have announced a deal giving access to five bases. The final deal faced activist opposition, a vote by the Philippine Senate, and approval by the Philippine Supreme Court, which was granted in January. ( "28-Apr-14 World View -- Philippines agrees to major return of U.S. military to counter China")

The U.S. had military bases in the Philippines for 94 years, since the early 1900s, following the Spanish-American war, and the bases played a crucial role for America in World War II and the Vietnam war. Subic Bay and Clark became America's largest military bases outside the U.S., but due to a substantial growth of anti-Americanism, The Americans were thrown out in 1991.

The new agreement, which will be valid for ten years, does not allow for permanent US bases as occurred in the past. It allows the U.S. increased military presence in the Philippines rotation of ships and aircraft for humanitarian and maritime security operations, the latter referring to countering China. In addition, the US will provide $50 million in aid, mostly to help the Philippines improve radar and other South China Sea monitoring capabilities.

The five bases are: Antonio Bautista Air Base, Basa Air Base, Fort Magsaysay, Lumbia Air Base and Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base.

China's foreign ministry warned that the agreement threatened regional peace and stability: "The U.S.-Philippines cooperation should not target third parties, harm the sovereignty or security interests of other states, or hamper regional peace and stability." Manila Bulletin and VOA and Xinhua

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Mar-16 World View -- China's coast guard warship rams vessel in Indonesian waters thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Mar-2016) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

23-Mar-16 World View -- Generational view of Tuesday's terror attack in Brussels, Belgium

Gone With The Wind

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Generational Dynamics view of Brussels terror attack


Aftermath of Tuesday's terror attack in Brussels
Aftermath of Tuesday's terror attack in Brussels

The so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) has claimed responsibility for a series of bombings in Brussels, Belgium, that killed 31 people and wounded 230. There were two explosions at the American Airlines terminal of the Brussels airport at around 8 am local time, and another explosion at a nearby Metro station in central Brussels. Brussels is capital city of the European Union, and one attack occurred within sight of the European Commission building, so the symbolic nature of the attack is obvious.

For me, and for regular readers of Generational Dynamics World View, Tuesday's terror attack in Brussels was not a remarkable or unusual event. In fact, looking at the bigger picture, it was just the latest in a string of similar attacks.

Last weekend, there was a major suicide bombing attack in Istanbul Turkey, and this followed a terror attack in Ankara two weeks ago, another one three weeks ago, and another one in October. Egypt has been suffering numerous terror attacks including, most spectacularly, a Russian passenger plane blown out of the sky over Sinai last year. Pakistan has had so many terror attacks that many are too commonplace to report. Six of the world’s 10 deadliest terrorist attacks of 2015 took place in Africa, in faraway places with such strange-sounding names like Nigeria, Cameroon, Kenya, and Egypt, with smaller attacks in Algeria, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali.

Generational Dynamics looks at this situation from a global point of view, instead of just a European or American point of view. And from a global point of view, there are going to be three or four major terror attacks every month, and they'll be scattered around different countries and continents.

And that doesn't even count the countries at war -- like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. As I've written many, many times, there is no Muslim war against the West. There is a major war, or several wars, of Muslims against Muslims. The number of Westerners killed by Muslims is minuscule compared the tsunami of Muslims being killed by other Muslims. As horrific as the attacks in Brussels and other places are, they are collateral damage to the real wars going on -- Muslims against Muslims.

Much of this comes from Syria, as I've written many times before. The amount of damage that Syria's sociopathic Shia/Alawite president Bashar al-Assad has done to the world, with the support and help of Russia's Vladimir Putin and Iran's Seyed Ali Khamenei, is almost beyond belief. By treating peacefully protesting Sunnis as cockroaches to be exterminated, al-Assad has created a conflict like no other seen in decades, with millions of refugees pouring into other countries and Europe.

Thanks to al-Assad, Putin and Khamenei, there are now 30,000 jihadist fighters from 86 countries that have come to Syria, first to join the rebels fighting al-Assad, then to join the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front), the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), according to estimates by the left wing Center for American Progress.

Of those 30,000 jihadists from 86 countries, 5,000 are from European countries, and are citizens of European countries, probably having been born in a European country, and so are free to move around Europe as they wish. On a per-capita basis, Belgium has the largest share of its Muslim population leave to fight in Syria than any other Western country.

Now, it's probably not correct to say that these 5,000 people are all jihadists. We know that many people who go to Syria come back because they learn that they don't want to be any part of ISIS or other jihadist group, and don't wish to be suicide bombers or any kind of bomber. But probably at least a few hundred have been sufficiently radicalized that they are willing to conduct terror attacks. There may be more terrorist attacks in Belgium. So some o