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

27-Aug-16 World View -- After 50 days of violence, unrest in India-controlled Kashmir is unabated

Turkey's PM declares 'all-out war' after new PKK truck bomb attack

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey's PM declares 'all-out war' after new PKK truck bomb attack


Aftermath of truck bomb explosion in southeastern Turkey on Friday (DHA)
Aftermath of truck bomb explosion in southeastern Turkey on Friday (DHA)

The terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) took credit for a new deadly car bomb attack that occurred on Friday in Cizre in southeastern Turkey. A suicide bomber rammed a truck full of explosives into a checkpoint near a police station, killing at least 11 police officers and wounding 78 other people.

In hostilities with the PKK in the last year, more than 600 Turkish security personnel and thousands of PKK militants have been killed. Some 40,000 people have been killed since the conflict started in 1984.

Turkey is in a state of chaotic turmoil verging on instability. In the last week alone, Turkey suffered a huge terror attack at a wedding in Gaziantep, perpetrated by the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), causing a major change in Turkey's policy. ( "22-Aug-16 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan announces a complete U-turn on Syria policy")

As we described yesterday, This U-turn has led to a major military invasion of northern Syria, around the town of Jarablus, attacking both ISIS and the Syrian Kurds.

So now, on Friday, there's a major new terror attack.

A furious prime minister Binali Yildirim declared "all-out war":

"No terrorist organization can enslave the Turkish Republic. We’ve declared all-out war against these terrorist groups. ...

Like the Veteran [founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk] said during the War of Independence: 'Either independence or death.'"

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, "This attack, which comes at a time when Turkey is engaged in an intense struggle against terrorist organizations both within and outside its borders, only serves to increase our determination as a country and a nation."

If you look at the trend, you can see that these repeated terror attacks, combined with the failed July 15 coup attempt, are making the country increasingly belligerent. Friday's terror attack comes just after an invasion of northern Syria, and now Yildirim is declaring "all-out war." We may find out in the next few days what that means. Hurriyet (Ankara) and AP

After 50 days of violence, unrest in India-controlled Kashmir is unabated

After 50 days of violence, curfews and lockdowns, the unrest in India-controlled Kashmir shows no signs of letting up. More than 60 people have been killed and more than 5,000 injured in clashes with security police since the protests began on July 9. Many of the injured have been blinded, as security police have been shooting pellet guns at protesters, often into protesters' eyes.

Indian-controlled Kashmir has a mostly Muslim-majority population, and new large anti-government protest marches were scheduled to begin after Friday prayers. India took a number of steps to prevent violence from occurring:

Although the marches didn't take place, there were numerous protests and clashes across the whole region.

The violence and protests show no signs of abating, and it appears to be spiraling into full-scale violence.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the growth in violence appears more and more to be following a similar path to what happened in India's previous two generational crisis wars -- the 1857 Indian Rebellion and the 1947 Partition War. ( "9-Aug-16 World View -- Quetta Pakistan terror attack kills 75, while unrest grows in Kashmir")

The Pakistan reaction to the growing violence is to encourage the separatists and incite more violence. The India reaction to the growing violence is to deploy more forces and use bullet and pellet guns coupled with curfews and restrictions. If there is anything going on, in either Pakistan or India, that might be doing anything to ease the unrest in Kashmir, so that a major new war won't occur, I'm not aware of it. Tribune India and Al-Jazeera and Only Kashmir

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Aug-16 World View -- After 50 days of violence, unrest in India-controlled Kashmir is unabated thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Aug-2016) Permanent Link
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26-Aug-16 World View -- Turkey's 'Operation Euphrates Shield' turns into full-scale invasion of Syria

US turns on Syrian Kurds as they're attacked by Turkey

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey's 'Operation Euphrates Shield' turns into full-scale invasion of Syria


A soldier looks down on the town of Jarablus (al-Jazeera)
A soldier looks down on the town of Jarablus (al-Jazeera)

On Wednesday, Turkey began "Operation Euphrates Shield," and became the first Nato member to invade Syria since the beginning of the war that began in 2011. Turkish tanks, planes and special forces crossed the border into Syria. They were backed up by around 1,500 anti-Assad Syrian rebels called the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

We've been writing about Turkish plans in Syria for several days now, following the horrific terror attack, blamed on ISIS, of a wedding party in Gaziantep, in southeastern Turkey, triggering a furious demand for revenge. ( "22-Aug-16 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan announces a complete U-turn on Syria policy")

At first, the announced plan was for some kind of extended humanitarian intervention for the people of Jarablus, a town in Syria on the border with Turkey, who were under attack by the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). It was assumed that the FSA would disgorge ISIS from Jarablus.

By the time the attack began on Wednesday, it became clear that it was a major invasion by Turkey's ground forces and air force, backed up by the FSA, and that Turkey's forces are going to stay. There are now multiple objectives:

The battle for Jarablus lasted 14 hours before the FSA announced on its Twitter account that they captured the city. Daily Sabah (Ankara) and Hurriyet (Ankara) and Al-Jazeera

US turns on Syrian Kurds as they're attacked by Turkey

Up until last week, the American military's primary ally in Syria to fight ISIS has been the Syrian Kurds. But in a dramatic turnaround this week, the American administration has turned on the Syrian Kurds, and is effectively allying themselves with the Turkish military against the Syrian Kurds.

During US Vice President Joseph Biden's visit to Turkey on Wednesday that we reported on yesterday, Biden said:

"We have made it absolutely clear that they [pro-Kurdish forces] must go back across the [Euphrates] River. They cannot and will not, under no circumstances, get American support if they do not keep that commitment."

Having been a major US ally in Syria, the Kurds cannot now consider this to be anything but a major American betrayal of the Kurds.

As we mentioned above, one of the objectives of Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield is to block the expansion of the area controlled by the Syrian Kurds. The Turkish forces are evidently doing much more, in that they're attacking Kurdish positions. The army shelled Kurdish forces south of Jarablus on Thursday.

It was only a couple of weeks ago that the Syrian Kurds regained control of the city of Manjib from ISIS. ( "14-Aug-16 World View -- Wild celebrations in Manbij Syria, after major defeat for ISIS")

But on Thursday, Turkish forces shelled Kurdish positions in Manjib. So a significant victory for the Kurds is now turning into a defeat at the hands of ISIS. This is sure to have repercussions later. Reuters and Hurriyet (Ankara) and AP

Debka: Israel in military action against ISIS in Egypt's Sinai

As long-time readers know, I like to reference Debka's subscriber-only newsletter (sent to me by a subscriber), which is written from Israel's point of view, because they have military and intelligence sources that provide valuable insights. However, it's not unusual for them to get things wrong.

So this week's edition has some startling claims: That Israel's military (IDF) is conducting an extensive military action against the ISIS affiliate in Egypt's northern Sinai, and that this has been going on since August 16.

The terror group is called Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM - Ansar Jerusalem - Champions of Jerusalem), which changed its name to Al Wilayat Sinai (Province of Sinai) when it changed its allegiance from al-Qaeda to the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

According to the Debka newsletter, the military action is closely coordinated with Egypt:

"For almost two days, F-15 and F-16 jets and a variety of drones pounded ISIS-Sinai bases and infrastructure in every part of the Egyptian peninsula in which the terrorists had struck camp.

Apache assault helicopters chased and picked off the jihadists as they fled the air strikes. And Israeli marine commandos, who landed from the Aqaba Gulf port of Eilat and from the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal, raided the ISIS networks embedded in Sinai's western coastal towns. They found the jihadists getting set to descend on the towns and ports of southern Egypt, as well as Jordan and Israel, and also planning to seize a ship vessel sailing in the Gulf of Aqaba, especially passenger liners for taking hostages.

The vast Israeli offensive - on a scale the IDF had never before undertaken against the Islamic State - was conceived, organized and synchronized down to the last detail with the Egyptian army's general command. It represented the apex of the covert Egyptian-Israeli military-cum-intelligence cooperation ongoing since last year for crushing Islamic terrorists in their lairs."

According to the Debka report, Israel is engaged in fighting ISIS in at least eight foreign countries: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda and Chad.

This is a description of a big operation. On the one hand, I can't find any other report on it. On the other hand, it's big enough so that it's hard to believe that Debka got it so wrong.

Still, if Debka got it wrong, it wouldn't be the first time. Also, if Debka got it right, that wouldn't be the first time either, and this story could be a big one. Debka subscriber-only newsletter

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Aug-16 World View -- Turkey's 'Operation Euphrates Shield' turns into full-scale invasion of Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Aug-2016) Permanent Link
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25-Aug-16 World View -- North Korea lays land mines to prevent soldiers from defecting

US VP Biden snubbed by Turkey's angry president Erdogan

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

US VP Biden snubbed by Turkey's angry president Erdogan


US VP Biden meets with Turkey's angry president Erdogan
US VP Biden meets with Turkey's angry president Erdogan

US Vice President Joseph Biden met on Wednesday in Ankara with Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in an attempt to reverse the rapidly growing anti-American sentiments that have been surging in Turkey following the July 15 coup.

Sitting next to what some reports describe as a "stony faced Erdogan," Biden said:

"I want to make it unmistakably clear that the United States stands with our ally, Turkey. Our support is absolute and it is unwavering. ...

The people of Turkey have no greater friend than the United States of America. As I said earlier, I want to offer my personal condolences and those of the president to the people of Turkey, for not only what they went through in the coup attempt, but shortly after that over 50 people murdered apparently from what we're told by ISIS a suicide bombing where 28 or 29 young people under the age of 18 were killed. The suffering of your people at the hands of ISIS at the hands of the PKK in the southeastern part of your country is beyond what any people should have to sustain."

Biden's entire visit was met with hostility, and was referred to by some Turkish media as a "waste of time." There was particular hostility between Erdogan and Biden over Turkey's desire to extradite Fethullah Gulen, living in exile in a resort in Saylorsburg Pennsylvania, whom Erdogan blames for the coup.

Biden explained that under the US system, Gulen cannot be extradited until Turkey produces evidence to an American court of Gulen's culpability. Erdogan responded that the US could at least arrest Gulen, so that he can't be interviewed by news media:

"According to the [1981] extradition treaty with US, we'd expect Gülen to be detained, however he still manages his terrorist organization freely."

Erdogan also criticized Biden's use of the phrase "Islamic State" to describe what I call "the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh)", or just ISIS. Erdogan said that Biden should use the name "Daesh" and added:

"Islam is a religion of peace; it does not send children to blow themselves up as suicide bombers in the middle of crowds."

This is a criticism that a number of Muslim authorities have raised, saying that referring to this terror group as "Islamic State" makes as much sense as referring to a Christian terror group like the IRA as "Christian State." The BBC dealt with this debate about a year ago, and refers to it as "the so-called Islamic State." I use the name ISIS for the same reason. Bloomberg and Daily Sabah (Ankara)

North Korea lays land mines to prevent soldiers from defecting

When Thae Yong Ho, North Korea's deputy UK ambassador defected last week to the UK with his family, North Korea's media labeled Thae to be "human scum," and took the usual apoplectic turn:

"[Thae] should have received legal punishment for the crimes he committed, but he discarded the fatherland that raised him and even his own parents and brothers by fleeing, thinking nothing but just saving himself, showing himself to be human scum who lacks even an elementary level of loyalty and even tiny bits of conscience and morality that are required for human beings."

North Korea is following up by laying more land mines on the border between North and South Korea, in order to prevent defections of its own soldiers. Land mines and barbed wire already cover almost all of the border between North and South, but one location has been previously left untouched -- Panmunjom, the so-called "truce village," where North and Korea agreed to a ceasefire on July 27, 1953. And indeed, under the agreement reached in 1953, it's illegal for the North Koreans to lay land mines around Panmunjom.

But now that's changed according to South Korean officials:

"The South Korean and U.S. intelligence authorities detected last week that the North Korean soldiers were planting multiple mines north of the Bridge of No Return near Panmunjom. It is the first time that they witnessed the North’s land mine placement in that area since the Armistice Agreement was signed in July 1953. ...

Under the regulations governing the truce, planting land mines is forbidden in the areas near the Panmunjom. The guards are banned from carrying heavy weapons. The United Nations Command strongly protested to the North about the move."

The Bridge of No Return was used for prisoner exchanges. Once the prisoner crossed the bridge, he could never cross back.

It's believed that the land mines were laid to prevent North Korean soldiers from defecting to the South. Independent (London) and Yonhap News (Seoul) and Joongang Daily (Seoul)

UN Security Council has emergency meeting on North Korea missile tests

The United Nations Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting on Wednesday and held closed consultations on the latest North Korean missile launch.

The ballistic missile that North Korea fired from a submarine on Wednesday traveled 500 km (310 miles), the longest distance achieved so far. With that capability, the missile could reach all of South Korea, parts of Japan, and some American military bases, though not North America. And because it can be launched from a submarine, it would not be possible to detect a planned attack before liftoff.

Pretty much everyone -- Japan, South Korea, the US -- issued the obligatory statement condemning the test, which was in violation of international law. China also criticized the North Korean test, but blamed it on the planned deployment by the US and South Korea of the THAAD anti-missile system. ( "10-Aug-16 World View -- China's fury grows over South Korea's plan to deploy THAAD anti-missile system") Business Insider and AP and Global Times (Beijing)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Aug-16 World View -- North Korea lays land mines to prevent soldiers from defecting thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Aug-2016) Permanent Link
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24-Aug-16 World View -- Turkey prepares an army of 1,500 Syrian rebels to fight ISIS and Kurds in Syria

Battles are taking place in two border towns in Syria: Hasaka and Jarablus

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Kurds, Assad forces, US and ISIS converge in Hasaka, alarming Turkey


Kurdish fighters in Hasaka (Reuters)
Kurdish fighters in Hasaka (Reuters)

Everyone involved in the fight in Syria is making use of a convenient semi-fiction: Nominally, each one is there to fight the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). The fight against ISIS is real, but it's also a cover for other military activities.

Central to many of sub-conflicts are the Kurds, particularly Syria's Kurdish militias (the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG).

What we're seeing is a large convergence of forces in two Turkish border towns in northern Syria: Hasaka and Jarablus. The fight against ISIS in Hasaka has already involved several fighting forces with different objectives:

The fighting between the YPG forces and the al-Assad forces is the most violent since the war began in 2011. Syria's deployment of warplanes against the Kurds was also a first, as was the American response with its own warplanes.

The YPG now controls large regions of northern Syria, including an uninterrupted 400 km (250 mile) stretch of the Syrian-Turkish border from the eastern frontier with Iraq to the Euphrates river, and a pocket of territory in northwestern Syria.

It is no secret that the Kurds would like to take control of the region in between those two, and create an independent state called Rojava. This is a nightmare scenario for both Turkey and the al-Assad regime. Daily Beast and Daily Sabah (Ankara) and The Hill

Turkey launches rebel army to fight both ISIS and Kurds in Syria

Turkey is assembling a force of 1,500 Syrian rebel fighters in the town of Gaziantep, preparing them to cross the border and launch an attack on ISIS in the strategic Syrian town of Jarablus.

The Kurdish militias, the YPG, are also making preparations for a final assault on ISIS around the same town, Jarablus.

Jarablus is a small town, but its importance lies in the fact that it lies right on the border with Turkey, and ISIS has been using it as a corridor to import supplies and people from Turkey. So it's important to drive ISIS out of Jarablus in order cripple ISIS's supply lines.

The YPG, backed by American warplanes, could take control of Jarablus from ISIS, but this would give the Kurds control of another significant region in northern Syria along the border with Turkey, and this is panicking Turkey.

Therefore, Turkey is assembling the 1,500 Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters in Gaziantep to try to take control of Jarablus before the Kurds do. So that should be quite a battle.

According to an FSA spokesman, "The plan is to take Jarablus and expand south ... so as to abort any attempt by the Kurds to move north ... and so that Kurds don't take more villages."

There's another subtext to this. Recall that there was a "barbaric" terror attack on a wedding ceremony over the weekend, killing many dozens of people including many children. The attack was attributed to ISIS, and it's triggered a furious response from Turkey. ( "22-Aug-16 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan announces a complete U-turn on Syria policy")

The wedding terror attack occurred in Gaziantep, which is the same town in which Turkey is assembling the 1,500 FSA fighters. It's possible that ISIS selected that town for the attack exactly because the FSA fighters were being assembled there.

Whatever happens in Jarablus, ISIS is sure to retaliate. AP and BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Aug-16 World View -- Turkey prepares an army of 1,500 Syrian rebels to fight ISIS and Kurds in Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Aug-2016) Permanent Link
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23-Aug-16 World View -- Turkey begins to fully enter the war in Syria militarily

In an embarrassing turnaround, Russia removes its bombers from Iran

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

International Criminal Court gets conviction for 'cultural genocide' in Timbuktu Mali


Historic mosque and museum in Timbuktu, Mali
Historic mosque and museum in Timbuktu, Mali

A jihadist, Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi, pleaded guilty on Monday to the crime of "cultural genocide" in the International Criminal Court for destroying religious monuments in the ancient city of Timbuktu in Mali.

The desecration of Timbuktu by al-Qaeda was a big story in 2012.

Founded between the 5th and 11th centuries by Tuareg desert nomads, Timbuktu became a meeting point between north, south and west Africa and a melting pot of black Africans, Berber, Arab and Tuareg desert nomads. The trade of gold, salt, ivory and books made it the richest region in west Africa and it attracted scholars, engineers and architects from around Africa, growing into a major center of Islamic culture by the 14th century. Timbuktu is home to nearly 100,000 ancient manuscripts, some dating to the 12th century, preserved in family homes and private libraries under the care of religious scholars.

In 2012, the al-Qaeda linked terror group, Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith), were using shovels, hoes and chisels to destroy Sufi Muslim shrines and mosques that were built centuries ago. It was feared that Ansar Dine would also destroy the 100,000 ancient manuscripts. As a result, many citizens of Timbuktu carefully hid any manuscripts they had in their possession. Many were also sent to Bamako, Mali's capital city, where they would be safe from Ansar Dine.

According to the charges brought by the ICC against Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi:

"It is alleged that, until September 2012, he was the head of the "Hisbah" (body set up to uphold public morals and prevent vice), set up in April 2012. He was also associated with the work of the Islamic Court of Timbuktu and participated in executing its decisions. It is alleged that he was involved in the destruction of the buildings mentioned in the charge."

On Monday, al-Mahdi pleaded guilty to the crimes he was charged with, and said the following at his trial:

"It is also my hope that the years I will spend in prison will be source to purge the evil spirit that took me and I will keep my hopes high that the people will be able to forgive me.

I would like to give a piece of advice to the Muslims in the world not to get involved in the kind of acts that I did because it will give no good to humanity."

Al-Mahdi could get a sentence of up to 30 years, but it's expected that he'll be sentenced to less because he confessed to the crimes.

The ICC considers this to be a historic trial because it was the first time that a jihadist was charged by the ICC, and it's the first time that the principal charge was destruction of cultural property. CNN and Swiss Info and ICC Case Information Sheet (PDF)

In an embarrassing turnaround, Russia removes its bombers from Iran

Last week we reported that Russia's bombers would be traveling from the Hamadan airbase in Iran, across Iraq airspace for bombing raids into Syria. This was considered an embarrassment to the US because US military had not been notified in advance, and had to approve travel through Iraq's airspace. ( "17-Aug-16 World View -- Russia-Iran airbase agreement further isolates Saudi Arabia")

Russia bragged that they would be permitted to use Iran's airbase "as long as required." Well, "as long as required" apparently ended on Monday, when use of the airbase came to an abrupt halt because it was no longer required, according to Russia's Defense Ministry spokesman:

"Russian military aircraft that took part in the operation of conducting air strikes from Iran's Hamadan air base on terrorist targets in Syria have successfully completed all tasks.

Further use of the Hamadan air base in the Islamic Republic of Iran by the Russian Aerospace Forces will be carried out on the basis of mutual agreements to fight terrorism and depending on the prevailing circumstances in Syria."

Iran’s Defense Minister Gen. Hossein Dehghan blamed Russia for bragging, saying that it was "a kind of show off and ungentlemanly." He said in an interview:

"Naturally the Russians want to show that they are a superpower and an influential country and are present in all regional and global affairs. ... Of course grandstanding and incivility were behind the announcement."

Allowing Russia to use the airbase was controversial within Iran's government. Hossein Ruyvaran, an Iranian political analyst who teaches at the University of Tehran, was quoted as saying:

"The chief issue being discussed comes down to this: does allowing the Russian Aerospace forces use the capabilities of this airbase violate the Article 14b of the Iranian Constitution or not? Because according to this article, any form of leasing an airfield to a foreign power to be used as an airbase – even for a peacekeeping mission – is forbidden."

This ties into some analysis that I've done in the past regarding whether Iran would use a nuclear weapon on Israel. If you look at Iran's history in the last century, including its two generational crisis wars, the Constitutional Revolution of the 1900s decade and the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s, combined with statements that they've made, you see that they take pride in never attacking anyone else, except in self-defense. Thus, I consider it almost impossible for Iran to preemptively use a nuclear weapon on Israel, unless Israel attacked first.

That doesn't make Iran the "good guy." Quite the contrary. Iran is perfectly happy to do things like sponsoring terrorist acts around the world through its puppet terrorist group Hezbollah, or supplying arms to Palestinians for use against Israel, or fighting a proxy war in Yemen, or supplying weapons and fighters to Syria's president Bashar al-Assad for use in his genocidal extermination campaign on Sunnis, making them war criminals. But the Iranian leaders still think that they're wonderful people rather than war criminals because they don't invade anyone.

So I see this Russian use of Iran's Hamadan airbase as crossing a red line that challenges this "good guy" self-image, at least temporarily. There will now be a debate in Iran's government that can go either way. It's possible that Russia may again be permitted to use Iran's airbase, but next time it will be done a lot more quietly. Russia Today (21-Aug) and AEI Iran Tracker and AP

Turkey begins to fully enter the war in Syria militarily

In a move that could once again change the direction of the war in Syria, Turkey is beginning to fully enter the war in Syria. On Monday, Turkey's military fired artillery shells across the border into Syria, striking ISIS targets in one region, and striking Kurdish militia targets in another region.

In addition, Turkey is preparing hundreds of Ankara-backed rebels for an offensive against the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). The Kurdish militias are also conducting an offensive against the same ISIS targets, opening the possibility of a collision.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said:

"Daesh [ISIS] should be completely cleansed from our borders and we are ready to do what it takes for that."

As we wrote yesterday, a major terrorist attack Sunday in Turkey has led to an announcement by the government of Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to do a complete U-turn on its Syria policy, allowing Syria's president Bashar al-Assad to remain in power for six months after the peace agreement has been signed. This change in policy was dictated by the increasing success by the Syrian Kurds, whom Erdogan has said are terrorists linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

In the past, Turkey has been very cautious about directly entering the war in Syria. In particular, Erdogan wanted international agreement to implement a "no-fly zone" or "buffer zone" in northern Syria along Turkey's border, to provide a space for refugee camps for Syrian cities fleeing from the violence. In retrospect, this kind of no-fly zone might have prevented or lessened the surge of refugees traveling through Turkey into Europe. Erdogan never implemented a buffer zone because it was opposed by the United States.

But now, the policy "to do what it takes" military seems to be yet another aspect of Turkey's complete U-turn in Syria policy. If this is the start of a major Turkish offensive in Syria, the war could change dramatically. Reuters/AFP and AP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Aug-16 World View -- Turkey begins to fully enter the war in Syria militarily thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Aug-2016) Permanent Link
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22-Aug-16 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan announces a complete U-turn on Syria policy

Turkey's downward spiral continues with massive wedding terror attack

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey's downward spiral continues with massive wedding terror attack


Ambulances arrive at the site of the Gaziantep terror attack (AFP)
Ambulances arrive at the site of the Gaziantep terror attack (AFP)

The so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) is being blamed for a "barbaric" terror attack on Sunday on a wedding ceremony in Gaziantep, in southeastern Turkey, killing 51 people and injuring 69 more. Gaziantep is a large Kurdish community just across the border from Aleppo in Syria

The perpetrator was a suicide bomber aged between 12 and 14. The suicide bomber reportedly joined the crowd disguising himself as a guest before blowing himself up.

Turkey appears to be in a downward spiral of instability following a year of dramatic events, including multiple terror attacks by ISIS, multiple terror attacks by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and a failed coup attempt on July 15 that Turkey. Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is blaming the coup attempt on the Fetullahist Terror Organization (FETO), led by Fethullah Gulen, a 76-year-old Turkish Muslim cleric, living in self-imposed exile in America since splitting with Erdogan in 1999.

According to Erdogan, following Sunday's terror attack:

"There are strong indications that the attack was carried out by ISIL. A suicide bomber aged between 12 and 14 blew himself up. We know that ISIL has been trying to gain ground in Gaziantep for a while now. ...

[The] place where terror comes from doesn’t make any difference for us. ...

There is no difference between the PKK, the FETO or Daesh [ISIS]. All of them are terrorists. ...

Those who cannot defeat Turkey try to provoke people by abusing ethnic and sectarian sensitiveness, but they will not prevail."

Erdogan said the aim of such attacks was to sow division between different groups in Turkey such as Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens.

American and European officials, who had previously been accused of showing more sympathy for Turkey's attackers than for Turkey, rushed to offer condolences. US Secretary of State John Kerry tweeted, "Strongly condemn the barbaric terrorist attack in #Gaziantep. The US stands squarely with our ally #Turkey against the scourge of terrorism." Hurriyet (Ankara) and BBC and Daily Sabah (Ankara)

Report: US military moving nuclear weapons from Turkey to Romania

As we reported last week, analysts are pointing out that if Turkey's July 15 attempted coup had been successful, then America might have lost control of the 50 or so B61 tactical nuclear weapons that are being stored at Incirlik. ( "16-Aug-16 World View -- Turkey threatens EU migrant deal, saying EU is humiliating Turkey, not helping")

Even now, relations between Turkey and America are deteriorating so rapidly, that concerns are increasing that Turkey's government might change its policy and take control of the weapons, or that they might be the target of a terrorist attack. Debka is reporting that America is rejecting a demand from Turkey to take control of the weapons.

The US does not confirm that there are nuclear weapons stored anywhere in Europe, but there are now several unconfirmed reports that the US military is secretly moving the nuclear weapons to bases in Romania.

Russia and Romania are both Eastern Orthodox Christian countries, and historically fought bloody wars against the Muslim Ottoman Empire (Turkey) in World War I and previous wars. So moving the nuclear weapons from Turkey to Romania carries a great deal of symbolic significance to both countries.

On the other hand, Romania is not on such good terms with Russia either. In World War II, Romania initially was forced to ally with Nazi Germany, but in 1944 was forced to switch sides and ally with the Soviet Union. The Soviets then brutally occupied Romania from 1944 to 1958. So even though Romania and Russia are both Eastern Orthodox Christian countries, there is a great deal of mutual hostility.

The United States has deployed in Romania an $800 million missile shield that was switched on in May. The nominal purpose of the missile shield is protection from Iran, but Russia believes that its existence makes Russia more vulnerable to attack from Nato.

Stationing tactical nuclear weapons in Romania, along with the missile shield, is likely to infuriate Russia and raise security concerns. There may be some kind of retaliation.

The reports of moving the nuclear weapons have never been confirmed, and so there have been no public statements from Turkey, but it's likely that Turkey will see moving the nuclear weapons to the military base of its history enemy (Romania) as one more humiliation that the West is inflicting on Turkey.

Romania has strongly denied that any nuclear weapons are being moved there from Turkey. EurActiv and Balkan Insight and Debka

Turkey's Erdogan announces a complete U-turn on Syria policy

Turkey has announced a major change in its policy towards Syria. In the past, Turkey has been insistent that Syria's president Bashar al-Assad must go as part of any peace settlement. In the new policy, al-Assad may remain in power for six months after the peace agreement has been signed.

The change is being driven by increasing power of the Kurds. From the point of view of Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Syrian Kurds are terrorists, and are the Syrian branch of the PKK terrorists. However, the United States has been using the Syrian Kurds as a fighting force against ISIS, and the Kurds have been gaining control of regions of northern Syria.

As we've written in the past, the nightmare scenario for Turkey is that the Kurds take control of various regions in northern Syria and link them together to form a large area in northern Syria along the border with Turkey. The Kurds could then claim a Kurdish state in Syria stretching from the Mediterranean to Iraq, along Turkey's border

This is also a nightmare scenario for the al-Assad regime, which would then lose control of the entire northern Syria. It's also a nightmare scenario for Iran, because Iran is fighting on the side of al-Assad in Syria, and because Iran has a historic enmity with the Kurds in Iraq and southeastern Turkey.

This is creating a temporary three-way marriage of convenience involving Turkey, Iran, and the al-Assad regime.

Turkey's new alliance with al-Assad is a major turn-about, something that would have been unthinkable even just a few months ago.

In describing the new policy to reporters, Turkey's prime minister Binali Yildirim said the following:

"Finding a solution is the most important thing for us. It is important that no more people die. If we are going to save those people, to heel the bleeding wound, the rest are [irrelevant] details. All the rest could be talked through and a solution could be found. As I said, al-Assad cannot be a uniting figure in Syria in the long run, it is just not possible. The main countries involved - the U.S., Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and others - should come together and Turkey should make more effort on that."

These things always sound so good when they come out of the mouths of politicians, don't they. Then if you take a nap for three months, when you wake up and see what's happened, you realize that everything they said was total nonsense.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this change of policy is strongly counter-trend, and so is meaningless. There will never be a "peace deal" for Turkey, because al-Assad will never agree to "peace" as long as there are any Sunnis left in Syria to exterminate. Also, both al-Assad's Shia/Alawites and Iran's Shias are historic enemies of Turkey, and so the marriage of convenience will end up in divorce after the first major bump in the road.

The entire Mideast is headed for a major war involving the whole region, along Israeli-Arab fault line, the Sunni-Shia sectarian fault line, and various ethnic fault lines. When the war ends, there will be a great international peace conference attended by politicians from all the major nations, and they'll decide all the new boundaries. At that point, in the distant future, the Kurds may or may not get their Kurdish state. Hurriyet (Ankara) and BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Aug-16 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan announces a complete U-turn on Syria policy thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Aug-2016) Permanent Link
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21-Aug-16 World View -- US cuts military advisers to Saudis in Yemen as peace talks collapse

Generational history of Shia Houthis in Yemen

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Massive rally in Sanaa Yemen interrupted by Saudi warplane bombing


Anti-Saudi rally in Sanaa Yemen on Saturday (Twitter)
Anti-Saudi rally in Sanaa Yemen on Saturday (Twitter)

An estimated 100,000 Yemenis attended a rally in Sanaa, Yemen's capital city, on Saturday. The rally had been planned for weeks, so people had come from many regions outside of Sanaa.

The purpose of the rally was to protest resumed air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition following the collapse of peace talks early in August, and to support a new "governing council" set up by the Iran-backed Shia Houthis that had overthrown the Saudi-backed government in a coup in 2014. Shortly after that, a Saudi Arabia-led coalition began airstrikes with the intention of restoring the internationally recognized government.

Although not all the protesters on Saturday were pro-Houthi, they were all in favor of seeing the airstrikes end, supported the Houthi's governing council as the way to do that.

There had been a three-month ceasefire while peace talks in Kuwait had proceeded with no progress. The Saudis wanted to restore the status quo ante with the pro-Saudi government, while the Houthis wanted to retain control of the government following their successful coup. Once the peace talks collapsed three weeks ago, the Saudi-led coalition resumed airstrikes.

Saturday's huge rally was interrupted by Saudi warplanes passing overhead and conducting bombing raids. Early stories on the BBC reported that the Saudi warplanes had bombed the rally, as described by a correspondent in Sanaa:

"Suddenly the Saudi jets started circling on top of us, and as always, we thought they would just fly by, just trying to scare the crowd.

Suddenly they started bombing and the crowd started running. I basically bolted out of the area. People started screaming... Because everybody's very well armed, they started shooting their AK-47s and their machine guns into the sky."

However, later reports indicated that the warplanes had attacked targets on a nearby mountain. BBC and France24

Generational history of Shia Houthis in Yemen

The Houthis are a branch of Shia Islam that took hold in southern Arabia (currently Yemen) in the century following the death of the prophet Mohammed. In the decades following Mohammed's death, there were conflicts as to who would succeed Mohammed as caliph of Islam. One group insisted that any new caliph must be a direct descendant of Mohammed himself, and they particularly selected Mohammed's grandson, Husayn ibn Ali (626-680), often referred to as just Ali. The partisans of Ali became known as Shia or Shiites.

Ali was killed in the seminal Battle of Karbala in a generational crisis war that climaxed in 680, splitting the Muslim community, and throwing the question of succession into chaos. In the following decades, the group that won the war (the Umayyads) became known as the Sunnis, and they selected caliphs by a variety of means, including elections, inheritance, and wars.

The Shias formed a completely separate branch of succession, referring to their leaders as Imams. They continued to insist that any imam must be a direct descendant of Mohammed, and must therefore be a direct descendant of Husayn ibn Ali. As it turned out, Ali had nine descendants, with the last one, the 12th imam, disappearing in 873.

Today, Shia Muslims are still divided over which of these imams was going to return as the messiah to avenge injustices to the Shia. This belief is roughly equivalent to the Christian belief in the second coming of Christ, or the Buddhist belief in the Maitreya -- that a new Buddha is to appear on earth, and will achieve complete enlightenment.

One Shia sect broke off in 740 and were known as the Zaydis, or "Fivers," because of their allegiance to the fifth imam. These are the Houthis today.

Another Shia sect are called "Seveners," because of their allegiance to the seventh imam.

Most Shias today are "Twelvers," because of their allegiance to the 12th imam, also called "The Hidden Imam," who disappeared in 873, as described above. According to the Twelver belief, he did not die, but disappeared and became "hidden," and will reappear at the appropriate time. Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran's 1979 Great Islamic Revolution, apparently claimed that he was the 13th imam, the Allah-appointed successor to Ali and to Mohammed himself. (From November 2009: "Theological split in Iran widens as opposition protests continue")

US military reduces support for Saudi coalition in Yemen

Saudi Arabia has been under increasing international pressure to end the airstrikes in Yemen, and simply let the Houthis take over. Since the Houthis are supported by their hated enemy Iran, that kind of solution would be a major regional victory for Iran, and I would be very surprised to see anything like that happen.

The aid group Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors without Borders) on Friday announced that they were pulling their staff out of six hospitals in northern Yemen, giving as a reason that their staff were not safe from the Saudis' "indiscriminate bombings," which sometimes struck the hospitals in which MSF were working.

According to MSF:

"Over the last eight months, MSF has met with high-ranking Saudi-led coalition officials on two occasions in Riyadh [Saudi Arabia's capital city] to secure humanitarian and medical assistance for Yemenis, as well as to seek assurances that attacks on hospitals would end. ...

Aerial bombings have, however, continued, despite the fact that MSF has systematically shared the GPS coordinates of hospitals in which we work with the parties involved in the conflict. Coalition officials repeatedly state that they [honor] international humanitarian law, yet this attack shows a failure to control the use of force and to avoid attacks on hospitals full of patients. MSF is neither satisfied nor reassured by the Saudi-led coalition's statement that this [August 15] attack was a mistake."

International rights groups have also criticized the United States for providing support to the Saudis in the Yemen war. According to an analyst interviewed on Saturday on the BBC, the US became part of the Saudi coalition in the hope of working with the Saudis to guarantee that Yemeni civilians would be protected, but that has been unsuccessful.

U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet spokesman Lieutenant Ian McConnaughey on Saturday announced that the US military has been slashing the number of intelligence advisers directly supporting the Saudi-led coalition's air war in Yemen, because of concerns over civilian casualties. The number of advisers has gone from 45 to "less than five." McConnaughey said that the number of advisers could be increased again, "if the need arises." Saudi Gazette and CNN and AFP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Aug-16 World View -- US cuts military advisers to Saudis in Yemen as peace talks collapse thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Aug-2016) Permanent Link
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20-Aug-16 World View -- Zimbabwe launching a Soviet style command agriculture program

Zimbabwe police violently disperse protests over new 'bond note' currency

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Zimbabwe police violently disperse protests over new 'bond note' currency


Protestor holds up a sign saying 'Old clueless Mugabe must go' (The Herald)
Protestor holds up a sign saying 'Old clueless Mugabe must go' (The Herald)

As protesters on Wednesday in Harare, Zimbabwe's capital city, started marching to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to submit a petition over worsening cash shortages, heavily armed anti-riot police pounced on them, resulting in the protestors running in different directions. Some of the angry demonstrators pelted police officers with stones resulting police firing teargas and using water cannons to disperse them.

This is just the latest in widespread protests against Zimbabwe's 92 year old president Robert Mugabe, whose decades-long reign has destroyed what was one of the strongest economies in Africa. ( "23-Jul-16 World View -- Christian pastor's '#ThisFlag' movement threatens Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe")

As recently as the 1999, Zimbabwe was a breadbasket of Africa, exporting up to 500,000 tonnes (metric tons) of surplus food. By 2003, Zimbabwe was so starved that it had to receive 500,000 tonnes in food aid from the U.N.'s World Food Program.

What happened during those three years was a Marxist socialist "land reform" program by Robert Mugabe that confiscated 4,500 white-owned commercial farms and redistributed the property to his cronies from his own Shona tribe. Anyone from the hated Ndebele tribe who objected was jailed, tortured or killed.

Unfortunately, Mugabe's cronies didn't know anything about farming. Harvests of food staples plummeted by as much as 90%, livestock herds dwindled and production of the main cash crop, tobacco, slumped badly. The results were dramatic, and show how it's possible for one dictatorial leader to destroy a country single-handedly. A formerly well-fed country had rampant 80% poverty, and the inflation rate went from 700% to 1000% to 10000% to 150000% and continued rising 500 billion percent.

In 2009, Zimbabwe switched to a dual-currency economy, accepting the US dollar as valid currency. At that point, the Zimbabwe dollar collapsed completely, and millions of citizens had their saving destroyed.

But instead of ending the destructive land reform policies, Mugabe added on a new one: Indigenization.

Indigenization required all Zimbabwe businesses to be majority owned by Zimbabweans, again mostly cronies from Mugabe's Shona tribe. Zimbabwe continues to shut down businesses, including foreign banks, that do not comply with the indigenization requirements. Just as Mugabe's "land reforms" destroyed the farm infrastructure, Mugabe's indigenization law is destroying the entire business infrastructure.

But since Mugabe no longer has the power to print money, he's run out of cash and is unable to pay salaries of public employees. To solve this problem, Mugabe is introducing a brand-new Zimbabwean currency, the "bond note." The bond note is expected to be introduced in October, and one bond note is supposed to be the equivalent of one US dollar.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has claimed that the new bond notes will be perfectly safe because they'll only be used for limited purposes, and no one will be forced to use them. Central Bank Governor Dr John Mangudya said:

"The intrinsic value of the export bonus or incentive scheme is to attract and enhance exports by Zimbabweans so that at the end of the day there is enough foreign currency in this country,” said Dr Mangudya.

“If you are getting a $400 salary, you will still get $400 in United States dollars, bond notes, rand or euros. If you don’t want them then you use plastic money. We are not forcing anybody to use bond notes."

This triggered the protests and demonstrations because most people assume that Mugabe is lying. Some people are claiming that the bond notes will be as worthless as toilet paper.

In fact, Mangudya has already been forced to retract those claims, as he had to admit that public employees are going to be partially paid in bond notes. However, he added that the bond notes will still be perfectly valid, because they'll be backed by a $200 million loan from the African Export-Import Bank.

But an opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) official claimed last week that the $200 million loan will not last long, since the authorities are planning to print as much as $2.5 billion in bond notes, potentially triggering a new round of hyperinflation. The Herald (Harare) and VOA and News24Wire (Cape Town)

Zimbabwe launching a Soviet style command agriculture program


50 billion Zimbabwean dollar note from 2008 hyperinflation
50 billion Zimbabwean dollar note from 2008 hyperinflation

Zimbabwe's 92-year-old leader Robert Mugabe, who destroyed much of the country's agricultural capacity with a "land reform" program that split up the farms and handed them to his cronies, is now launching a "command agriculture" program similar to the agricultural collectivization programs that failed so disastrously in Josef Stalin's Soviet Union and Mao Zedong's China, causing tens of millions of deaths.

The new "command agriculture" program will cost $500 million to start, to purchase seeds, fertilizer, tractors and irrigation systems. Each participating farmer will be given the seeds, fertilizer and equipment for free. The farmers will work under strict supervision of the government. Each farm will be required to produce five tonnes (metric tons) of maize for each hectare of farmland.

The farmer will be permitted to keep for himself all the maize he produces that exceeds five tonnes (metric tons) per hectare. There has been no announcement of what happens to the farmer if his yield is less than five tonnes per hectare, though we know that in the case of the Soviet and Chinese command agriculture programs, farmers who didn't produce were starved to death or were executed.

Zimbabwe's spring planting season begins in November (in the southern hemisphere), and so this program is supposed to begin at that time. At five tonnes per hectare, the government expects to produce two million tonnes of maize on 400,000 hectares of land, which would exceed the annual demand of 1.5 million tonnes.

According to Ryan Truscott, the Zimbabwe correspondent speaking on Radio France Internationale (my transcription):

"Farming union officials say that that figure of five tonnes per hectare is far too ambitious. In a very few cases you can get five tonnes, or even as much as ten tonnes per hectare, but the average is just over half a tonne per hectare.

So there's a very real possibility that the farmers won't reach the five tonne targets, and won't be left with anything for themselves. What happens in that scenario, for now we don't know."

Another issue is the question of where the $500 million is coming from to fund this program. As we wrote in July, Zimbabwe currently owes $10 billion to the IMF, World Bank and the African Development Bank, with $1.86 billion in debt repayments in arrears, and is begging for more investment money. ( "1-Jul-16 World View -- Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Puerto Rico - three amigos in Marxist economic destruction")

The government says that's all under control. Since the public banks are no longer available for borrowing more money, Zimbabwe will borrow from private banks, according to Zimbabwe's vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, who says that the money will be used to import farming equipment from Brazil, Belarus, Russia and India.

The private banks have not been named, but according to Mnangagwa:

"The program is not being run on the budget (so) we are raising funds from the private sector and we are quite advanced at securing these funds. This is a cost recovery program, nothing is going to be given for free.

We cannot put a figure now. We are well advanced in negotiating such facilities and many private companies are coming forward to make offers because it is guaranteed that they will have a return from the loans that they may advance."

If, in fact, Zimbabwe is unable to borrow the money from private banks, then they may attempt to pay for the program with their new "bond notes," and that will cause real problems. Zimbabwe Mail and The Herald (Harare) and The Zimbabwean

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Aug-16 World View -- Zimbabwe launching a Soviet style command agriculture program thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Aug-2016) Permanent Link
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19-Aug-16 World View -- Furious UN envoy Staffan de Mistura excoriates Syria's Bashar al-Assad

Stephen K. Bannon is named chairman of Donald Trump's campaign

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Stephen K. Bannon is named chairman of Donald Trump's campaign


Stephen K. Bannon
Stephen K. Bannon

I've been listening all day to the idiotic comments on the appointment of Steve Bannon as Trump's campaign manager. They describe Bannon as a wild bomb thrower running the racist Breitbart news site.

This is absolutely hilarious. Former Breitbart editor Peter Schweizer originally asked me in 2010 to start cross-posting my World View articles on the Breitbart news site, and later Bannon took over. I know Bannon pretty well, as he's been a big supporter of cross-posting my daily columns on the Breitbart news site, even though I've been highly critical of the rise of xenophobia and nationalism in countries around the world in this generational Crisis era, including Trump's remarks about Mexicans and Muslims. So I know for a fact that Bannon is no bomb thrower, and he's no racist, and for that matter, the Breitbart news site is not racist.

I worked pretty intensely with Bannon when I was being filmed for the movie "Generation Zero." Bannon is one of the few people in the media who have studied what I've written and who understand generational theory and Generational Dynamics. Bannon is also one of the very few people in the media who actually know a great deal about what's going on in the world, a lot more than most politicians do, and certainly a lot more than the media airheads who are writing about him. Bannon is a very bright guy and is someone that Trump needs.

In other words, the airheads in the media know how to spell Bannon's name, but everything else they've been saying has been pretty idiotic. Real Clear Politics

Furious UN envoy Staffan de Mistura excoriates Syria's Bashar al-Assad


Five year old boy, Omran Daqneesh, sitting confused in an ambulance in Aleppo after being pulled from the rubble of one of Bashar al-Assad's airstrikes.  To al-Assad, this boy and others like him are just cockroaches to be exterminated.
Five year old boy, Omran Daqneesh, sitting confused in an ambulance in Aleppo after being pulled from the rubble of one of Bashar al-Assad's airstrikes. To al-Assad, this boy and others like him are just cockroaches to be exterminated.

The UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura made probably the strongest condemnations he's ever made about the situation in Syria. Without mentioning Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, he excoriated al-Assad's policies of wanton massacres of innocent civilians.

The context was a regular meeting of the international humanitarian taskforce co-chaired by Russia and the United States. De Mistura cut the meeting short after 8 minutes, saying that it made "no sense" to continue, because of the fighting in Syria.

"Today we had a very short meeting of the Humanitarian Task Force. It lasted not more than 8 minutes. I decided to use my privilege as Chair to declare that there was no sense in have a humanitarian meeting today unless we got some action on the humanitarian side in Syria.

Tomorrow is the World Humanitarian Day and in Syria what we are hearing and seeing is only fighting, offensives, counter-offensives, rockets, barrel bombs, mortars, hellfire cannons, napalm, chlorine, snipers, air strikes, suicide bombers.

Not one single convoy has so far reached any of the humanitarian besieged areas this month, not one single convoy, and why? Because one thing, fighting."

All of this happened in the context of a heartbreaking video of Omran Daqneesh, a young boy who was pulled out of the rubble and woke up in an ambulance, dazed and covered with mud and blood, a big gash on his face, looking around confused, wondering how he got there. The video has gone viral, and the picture above is a screen shot from the video. Ironically, Omran is one of the "lucky" little boys, because he survived.

De Mistura demanded an agreement for a 48-hour humanitarian pause in the fighting. Later in the day Russia agreed, apparently because of all the international pressure generated by the video of the young boy. But whether Bashar al-Assad will agree is far from clear, and even if does agree, his regime has repeatedly violated previous ceasefires.

It's worthwhile to stop and review how we got here. When peaceful anti-government protests began in Syria early in 2011, al-Assad responded with a campaign of torture, massacres and genocide targeted at all Sunni Muslims in Syria, and that genocidal campaign has continued to this day, with full support of Orthodox Christian Russia and Shia Muslim Iran.

The video posted today was not the first one. Shortly after al-Assad started bombing Sunni civilians, a video surfaced of one of al-Assad's atrocities. ( "1-Jun-2011 News -- Mutilated teenage boy becomes symbol for Syria's revolution")

The 2011 video showed a 13-year-old boy, Hamza al-Khatib, who was beaten and tortured by al-Assad's security forces for over a month, before the boy's swollen and mutilated body was dumped. At that time, people were hoping that the video would shame al-Assad so much that he would stop his genocidal campaign, but of course that never was going to happen. And Hamza al-Khatib was soon forgotten.

In 2014, a military photographer who defected from al-Assad revealed 55,000 photos of how al-Assad used electrocution, eye-gouging, strangulation, starvation, and beating on prisoners on a massive "industrial strength" scale. ( "22-Jan-14 World View -- Western leaders sickened by Assad's 'industrial strength' torture in Syria").


Emaciated man showing wounds from repeated beatings by rod-like object.  There are 55,000 photos like this, showing 11,000 corpses
Emaciated man showing wounds from repeated beatings by rod-like object. There are 55,000 photos like this, showing 11,000 corpses

Many people hoped that these photos would bring about some changes, and there was even a Congressional investigation. But those photos have also been long forgotten.

The al-Assad regime has used Sarin gas on its own population, with impunity. The regime has continued to use chemical weapons. Regime helicopters drop huge barrel bombs onto civilian neighborhoods. The barrel bombs may contain explosives, screws, nails and other shrapnel, plus canisters of chlorine and ammonia. When chlorine is inhaled, it reacts with the moisture in the lungs, turning into hydrochloric acid that literally burns the target to death from the inside out.

This is what the Orthodox Christian Vladimir Putin and the Shia Muslim Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei are supporting, and are responsible for. Do not let anyone tell you that there is anything "holy" about either of these men. They both deserve to go to the deepest ring of Hell, along with al-Assad himself.

It's almost unbelievable how much destruction al-Assad has caused. Thanks to al-Assad, Putin and Khamenei, there are about 50,000 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, now Jabhat Fateh al-Sham or JFS), and the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). Al-Assad has created the al-Nusra front and ISIS. He's created millions of refugees that have flooded into neighboring countries, and over a million have poured into Europe.

Al-Assad has caused destruction and triggered wars that will last for decades. And America is more and more closely allying itself with Russia and Iran, and therefore to al-Assad. America is also giving way to Russia as the principal power in the Mideast. ( "17-Aug-16 World View -- Russia-Iran airbase agreement further isolates Saudi Arabia")

Long-time readers are well aware that I've been saying for ten years, based on a Generational Dynamics analysis, that Iran and Russia would become our allies. In a way, it's similar to how we were allied with Soviet Union genocidal dictator Josef Stalin after he'd massacred, starved and tortured tens of millions of people. It's sickening to me and to many others to see the Generational Dynamics prediction come true in this way, but that's the way the world works. United Nations News and VOA and Telegraph

Six years of UN envoys and Syrian peace talks

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.

Many of those impossible things have occurred in Syria, and many are related to the laughable peace talks, which have only made things easier for al-Assad and his extermination campaign.

Kofi Annan, the virulently anti-American former Secretary-General of the United Nations from Ghana, was the first UN envoy on Syria. 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.

So the next UN envoy was and is Staffan de Mistura, and I really can't figure him out. Putin and al-Assad have repeatedly made a fool out of de Mistura and made him look like an idiot, and yet he clings on as UN envoy and makes moronic statements like, "This will not be tolerated." Perhaps the current crisis will be his breaking point.

At any rate, this has been going on for over five years, with no end in sight. It looks more and more that the Syrian war will not end until the entire Mideast is engulfed in war.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Aug-16 World View -- Furious UN envoy Staffan de Mistura excoriates Syria's Bashar al-Assad thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Aug-2016) Permanent Link
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18-Aug-16 World View -- Number of migrants reaching Greece surges since Turkey's attempted coup

Fears grow that the EU-Turkey migrant deal will collapse

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Number of migrants reaching Greece surges since Turkey's attempted coup


A dinghy full of migrants in the Aegean Sea is towed by Turkey's Coast Guard (Reuters)
A dinghy full of migrants in the Aegean Sea is towed by Turkey's Coast Guard (Reuters)

After the EU-Turkey migrant deal was agreed in March, the number of migrants traveling from Turkey to Greece fell almost to zero.

However, the number of migrants has surged since the July 15, when there was an attempted government coup in Turkey. It's now running close to 100 per day, which is still far smaller than the average of 2500 per day last year in August.

Since the start of 2016, more than 160,000 migrants have illegally traveled from Turkey to Greece. The figure was more than one million in all of 2015.

So the number is still sharply lower than it was prior to the EU-Turkey deal, the refugee situation is far from resolved.

A total of over 275,000 migrants have reached Europe this year, including 101,000 arriving in Italy from North Africa.

Supposedly the "Balkan route" that migrants used to travel from Greece to Germany was closed in March, but officials from Serbia are reporting that an average of 300 new arrivals are entering the country illegally every day. This number exceeds the 100 migrants per day arriving in Greece from Turkey, so the other 200 must be coming from refugee camps. BBC and B92 (Belgrade)

Concern grows over unsafe conditions in refugee camps in Greece

Although the number of migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey is far smaller than the number last year, but for the 100 or so per day who do make the trip, conditions are severely worsening, as are conditions for the tens of thousands who are still living in Greek refugee camps.

Like last year, the migrants who arrive in Greece first arrive in one of the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea -- Lesvos, Chios and Samos. But last year, Greece ran a ferry to carry the migrants from the islands to Athens, from where the migrants continued their journey north. This year, there's no ferry and the Balkan Route is close, so there's no way to travel north.

The result is that migrants are trapped in overcrowded refugee camps on the islands, and are unable to leave. According to Save the Children, the situation is almost "back to square one," from before the EU-Turkey migrant deal:

"As the number of arrivals creeps up again, we're starting to see scenes reminiscent of last summer. Except this time, most asylum seekers are unable to continue their journeys, and are trapped on the islands, in overcrowded facilities, and under the blazing sun.

Mothers with small babies are being forced to sleep on the ground in make-shift tents, children and breastfeeding women are suffering from dehydration due to water shortages in some camps, and tensions are increasing as basic services, such as toilets and showers, are stretched.

Families who have fled violence and death in their homeland continue to live in fear and do not feel safe. They have told Save the Children staff that they are too scared to let their children out of their sight due to the frequent protests and a lack of security in the camps."

There are similar problems with migrants trapped in the refugee camp called "The Jungle" in Calais France. There are some 5,000 refugees trapped there, including hundreds of children.

The public has largely lost interest in the migrant problem since the EU-Turkey deal, and there's little public concern for what's going on in the refugee camps in Greece, France, and elsewhere. But public opinion is fickle, and any day there could be something that calls attention to the problem. Daily Mail (London) and CNet

Fears grow that the EU-Turkey migrant deal will collapse

In an interview earlier this week, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu repeated his demand that EU abide by its commitments in the EU-Turkey migrant deal, specifically visa liberalization -- allowing any of Turkey's 74 million citizens to be able to travel freely throughout Europe's Schengen zone without a visa. ( "16-Aug-16 World View -- Turkey threatens EU migrant deal, saying EU is humiliating Turkey, not helping") According to Cavusoglu:

"I don’t want to talk about the worst-case scenario but it is clear: either we apply all the agreements together, or we set them all aside. It can't be that we implement everything that is good for the EU but that Turkey gets nothing in return."

Cavusoglu set October as a deadline. A previous deadline of June has already been ignored, and few people believe that the EU will approve visa liberalization by then.

The number of migrants crossing from Turkey to Greece has already begun to surge since the July 15 attempted coup in Turkey. What this illustrates is that Turkey can apply pressure on a gradual basis. Turkey could allow the number of migrants daily to increase from 100 to 150 to 200 and so forth, continuing to demand that the EU meeting its commitments.

Greece's government is also taking steps to prepare for a new wave of migrants by lobbying the EU government to modify the 1990 "Dublin Agreement," which specifies that a migrant can request asylum only in the first EU country in which the migrant arrives. Since that country is Greece most of the time, Greece is bearing most of the burden of the refugee crisis. Greece would like to modify the agreement to put into effect a plan to distribute migrants to all of the EU nations. However, some eastern European countries have indicated that they will refuge to receive any migrants at all, and diplomatic sources have indicated that any change to the Dublin Agreement is unlikely during Slovakia’s presidency of the EU, which finishes at the end of the year.

According to some reports, Germany is planning to send some 3,000 migrants to Greece in the coming weeks, following the rules of the Dublin Agreement. Kathimerini and Greek Reporter

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Aug-16 World View -- Number of migrants reaching Greece surges since Turkey's attempted coup thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Aug-2016) Permanent Link
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17-Aug-16 World View -- Russia-Iran airbase agreement further isolates Saudi Arabia

Generational alignments of the world's religions - hypothesis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia-Iran airbase agreement further isolates Saudi Arabia


Russian bombers take off from Iranian Hamedan air base on Tuesday (Mehr)
Russian bombers take off from Iranian Hamedan air base on Tuesday (Mehr)

The Pentagon announced on Tuesday that it's cleared the way for Russian bombers to travel across Iraq's airspace traveling from an Iran airbase to bomb targets in Syria.

On the same day, Iran announced that Russia's bombers will be stationed at an Iranian airbase near Hamadan, a city in western Iran. This will be the first time since World War II that Iran will permit foreign military actions to be launched from Iran's soil.

According to Pentagon spokesman Col. Chris Garver:

"They informed us they were coming through, and we ensured safety of flight as those bombers passed through the area and toward their target and then when they passed out [of Syria] again."

Tuesday is not the first time Russia has launched airstrikes from outside of Syria. Last October, Russia began launching long-range rockets into Syria from the Caspian Sea. ( "8-Oct-15 World View -- Russia dramatically escalates Syria war launching cruise missiles from Caspian Sea") Tuesday's announcement takes Russia's military dominance of the Mideast one step further. VOA and AEI Iran Tracker and Russia Today

Continuing Mideast realignment: Russia and Iran vs Saudi Arabia

According to Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council:

"Cooperation between Tehran and Moscow to fight against terrorism in Syria is strategic and we exchange our capacities and possibilities in this regard. ...

The conditions have grown difficult for the terrorists due to the constructive and extensive cooperation among Iran, Russia, Syria and the resistance front and this trend will continue with new and massive operations until their full annihilation."

At the same time, Shamkhani was critical of Saudi Arabia:

"It is not acceptable for the Muslim world to see Saudi Arabia investing towards the empowerment of terrorist and takfiri groups [non-believers] instead of fighting the occupation by the Zionist regime [Israel]."

Shamkhani's use of "takfiri groups" is purposely ambiguous. For the West, he undoubtedly wanted listeners to interpret "takfiri groups" as a reference to so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). This is the game everyone is playing in the Mideast. Iran, Syria, Russia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia all claim that they're targeting ISIS, but in fact Iran, Syria and Russia have done very little to target ISIS, but instead consider all Sunni civilians in Syria to be terrorists and takfiri, and have been targeting them.

Indeed, Syrian warplanes, aided by Russia, have for five years been targeting schools, hospitals, and neighborhoods of ordinary Sunni civilians, including women and children, whom they consider to be like cockroaches to be exterminated, with huge barrel bombs laden with explosives, metal and chemical weapons (chlorine). And on Tuesday, Human Rights Watch reported that Syrian and Russian warplanes are using incendiary weapons like napalm to create massive explosive fires in civilian neighborhoods and other Sunni targets.

So when Shamkhani blames Saudi Arabia for "the empowerment of terrorist and takfiri groups," he's referring to Saudi support for any Sunnis in Syria, even women and children. The inference to be drawn from Shamkhani's remarks is that the stationing of Russia's warplanes on Iranian soil is directed at their centuries-old enemy, Saudi Arabia, as well as anyone in Syria.

And indeed, that's obviously true. With the US in control of Iraqi airspace, the Saudis could feel protected from an Iranian attack. But now the US is giving way to Russia, as well as to Iran, and this will only cause the Saudis to feel far less secure.

Once again, a new event is emerging that validates the Generational Dynamics predictions made ten years ago. Long-time readers know that Generational Dynamics predicts that in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, China, Pakistan, and the Sunni Muslim countries will be one side, and India, Iran, the United States and the West will be on the other side. ( "8-Jul-16 World View -- Hard issues prevent full reconciliation between Turkey and Russia")

When I first made this prediction, years ago, it seemed almost psychopathic to suggest that Iran was going to be America's ally. However, regular readers know that for the last few years there have been a regular series of events that move the Mideast along the predicted trend line, with Syria, Russia and Iran more closely allied, and with close cooperation from the US and the West. At the same time, relations between the US and Saudi Arabia have been getting more and more distant, as I've reported many times since the "Arab Spring" in 2011. If you want to understand where the Mideast is going, then follow the Generational Dynamics trend lines and forecasts, and you will have the answer. FARS (Tehran) and AFP

Generational alignments of the world's religions - hypothesis

I've been writing for a long time that there's a centuries-old historic alignment between Hindus and Shia Muslims. I'd now like to expand that concept to discuss a hypothesis involving historic religious alignments.

The first observation is that if Hinduism is aligned with Shia Islam, then it makes sense that Buddhism is aligned with Sunni Islam. The reason that this makes sense is that Hinduism and Buddhism are bitter historic enemies, just as Shia and Sunni Buddhism are bitter historic enemies. So if Shias and Hindus are aligned, it makes sense that Sunnis and Buddhists should be aligned as well.

Also, for reasons that I'll explain below, I believe that Hindus/Shias are aligned with Jews, Protestants and Orthodox Christians, while Buddhists/Sunnis are aligned with Catholics.

To test this, I've gone to the CIA Fact Book, and made a list of countries that are predominantly one of these religions:

Examining this list, we can see that the hypothesis probably doesn't apply to Japan, N. Korea or S. Korea, but this isn't surprising, since I believe that this hypothesis mainly applies to Europe, the Mideast and Central Asia, where the most wars have been fought between Buddhists and Hindus or Muslims, which is not the case for Japan or Korea, where the main wars have been fought with each other and with China.

The next observation is that religions can be split into two groups:

By "universal religions," I mean religions that can spread to any country, and have done so.

By "targeted religions," I mean religions that target a specific regional or national population on a geographic basis. 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.

So when we look at which countries will be aligned in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, the hypothesis is the "universal religion" countries will be aligned against the "targeted religion" countries.

Obviously, this hypothesis is a very broad generalization, and there are exceptions that one can point to. But in any generational crisis war, these are the alignments that I expect to see.

The final observation is that these alignments would also apply throughout history. We can therefore provide two lists of historical dynasties that correspond to the above groups of religions:

This is a first pass at a hypothesis relating the world's religions to each other in a significant way. There are still details to be filled in, and exceptions to be enumerated and explained, but I believe that the core of this hypothesis is valid. And if it can be properly defined, it will be a powerful generational tool in analyzing history and in predicting future trends and events. CIA World Fact Book - Religions

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Aug-16 World View -- Russia-Iran airbase agreement further isolates Saudi Arabia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Aug-2016) Permanent Link
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16-Aug-16 World View -- Turkey threatens EU migrant deal, saying EU is humiliating Turkey, not helping

Turkey's failed coup raises concerns about nuclear weapons at Incirlik Air Base

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Truck bombing by PKK terrorists kills seven in southeastern Turkey


Aftermath of PKK terror attack in southeastern Turkey (Reuters)
Aftermath of PKK terror attack in southeastern Turkey (Reuters)

A large truck bomb exploded outside a police station near Turkey's southeastern city of Diyarbakir on Monday. Five police officers and two civilians, including a child of one of the police officers were killed, and another 21 were wounded.

No one has claimed credit, but since the Diyarbakir region is a stronghold for militants from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), there's little doubt that the perpetrators were from the PKK. Indeed, the PKK attacked the same police station five years ago.

Diyarbakir police have been on high alert due to expectations that PKK militants would carry out an attack on Aug. 15, as the date marks the 32nd anniversary of the PKK’s first armed attack in 1984. In anticipation of a possible attack, police have been conducting operations against the PKK for five days, and have detained a total of 161 people suspected of being PKK members. There were 37 more arrests on Monday.

The PKK terrorist group has been fighting Turkey's government since 1984, and more than 40,000 people have been killed. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Al-Jazeera

Turkey threatens EU migrant deal, saying EU is humiliating Turkey, not helping

On July 15, there was a failed coup in Turkey, where hundreds of soldiers using tanks, fighter jets and helicopters took control of key areas of Ankara and Turkey. At least 246 people were killed , and more than 2,000 injured. ( "17-Jul-2016 World View -- Attempted army coup in Turkey collapses within hours")

Since that time, over 22,000 people have been arrested and almost 8,000 more are suspects under investigation. Thousands of members of the armed forces, police, judiciary, civil service and public sector have been removed from their posts. Around 50,000 passports were cancelled, journalists and academics have been arrested and more than 130 media outlets were shut down.

Western governments condemned the coup, but also expressed concern over the extent of the crackdown, which seems to be an opportunity for Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to take on additional powers and crush human rights. ( "22-Jul-2016 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan gives himself dictatorial powers, moving Turkey away from the West")

There has been a growing sentiment in Turkey that the West was more concerned about those conducting the attempted coup, rather than Turkey's democracy. These concerns have apparently caused the public to put their political differences aside and unite behind Erdogan, blaming the West for humiliating Turkey.

During a press interview on Monday, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was asked about Turkey's application to join the European Union:

"The Turkish people are traumatized [by the failed coup]. Rather than helping Turkey, (European nations) are humiliating us. Turkey has made intense efforts like few other nations, to fulfill the conditions of accession to the EU. In return, Turkey has received only threats, insults and a total blockage. I ask myself, what crime have we committed? Why this hostility?"

The major issue having to do with Turkey's relations with Europe is the EU-Turkey migrant deal, which has sharply reduced the size of the tsunami of Syrian refugees crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey and arriving at Greece's islands. Under the terms of that deal, The EU committed to visa liberalization by the end of June -- allowing any of Turkey's 74 million citizens to be able to travel freely throughout Europe's Schengen zone without a visa. Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan 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.

The end of June came and went, and there was no talk in the press about visa liberalization. Then the July 15 failed coup occurred in Turkey, and the whole subject was shelved, both because of the general chaos following the coup attempt, and because Erdogan's crackdown following the coup attempt raised numerous human rights issues that, according to the EU, had to be resolved before visa liberalization could proceed.

During his interview on Monday, Cavusoglu once again raised the visa liberalization issue, and set a new deadline -- October. He was asked whether Turkey might cancel the migrant deal, and permit the tsunami of Syrian refugees to resume:

"I don’t want to talk about the worst-case scenario but it is clear: either we apply all the agreements together, or we set them all aside. It can't be that we implement everything that is good for the EU but that Turkey gets nothing in return."

There are many people in the EU who are opposed to visa liberalization for Turks under any conditions whatsoever. Cavusoglu this month referred to Austria as the “capital of radical racism” after Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern suggested ending EU accession talks with Turkey.

A major remaining issue is that Turkey is accusing Fethullah Gulen, a 76-year-old Turkish Muslim cleric, living in self-imposed exile in America since splitting with Erdogan, of orchestrating the coup from his desk in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. Erdogan has requested that Gulen be extradited back to Turkey to stand trial for the coup. The Obama administration said that it is willing to extradite Gulen, but only after Turkey has provided suitable evidence that would withstand a court trial showing a connection between Gulen and the coup. Such evidence is probably not forthcoming, so this issue is far from resolution.

Erdogan and other Turkish officials claim that they bent over backwards to accommodate the West. They say that they've made numerous changes to their laws to satisfy the human rights requirements of the EU, and they signed and enforced the EU-Turkey migrant deal. They believe that they've gotten nothing in return except insults and humiliation. They will expect the West to meet their legal commitments -- visa liberalization and extradition of Gulen. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Yeni Safak (Ankara) and Independent (London) and Reuters

Turkey's failed coup raises concerns about nuclear weapons at Incirlik Air Base

A new report questions the wisdom of storing America's nuclear weapons at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. Although the Pentagon does not discuss where its nuclear weapons are stored, it's believed that about 50 B61 tactical nuclear weapons are being stored at Incirlik.

According to the Stimson Center report, the United States first deployed tactical nuclear bombs in Europe during the Cold War in the late 1950s and early 1960s, to offset a buildup of Soviet tank armies deployed in Eastern Europe. Although most U.S. tactical weapons were withdrawn from Europe during the early 1990s, 180 of the tactical versions of the B61s remain at six bases in Europe — in Belgium, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, and Turkey.

The report claims that storing the nuclear weapons at Incirlik is expensive. But more concerning is that the coup revealed "unanswerable questions" -- whether the US could have maintained control if the coup had succeeded, and whether the nuclear weapons are safe from terrorist attacks.

Another report, from the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), also raises some concerns, but says the security situation is adequate, as they are guarded by US troops, and are stored securely underground. To steal or access these bombs, the report suggests, one would need to overwhelm US and NATO forces on one of their own bases, and then come up with some way to haul a 12 foot long, very heavy warhead.

Another analyst makes the point that even if they were captured, they could not be used without codes held by the US military. Stimson Center and Federation of American Scientists and Saudi Gazette

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Aug-16 World View -- Turkey threatens EU migrant deal, saying EU is humiliating Turkey, not helping thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Aug-2016) Permanent Link
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15-Aug-16 World View -- India, Pakistan celebrate independence day with vitriolic accusations about Kashmir

Militants hoist Pakistani flags in Kashmir on Sunday

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

India, Pakistan celebrate independence day with vitriolic accusations about Kashmir


A masked Kashmir protester in Kashmir on Sunday waves a Pakistan flag next to a graffiti of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani.  Wani was shot and killed by police on July 8, triggering weeks of riots, demonstrations and violence since then.  (Hindustan Times)
A masked Kashmir protester in Kashmir on Sunday waves a Pakistan flag next to a graffiti of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani. Wani was shot and killed by police on July 8, triggering weeks of riots, demonstrations and violence since then. (Hindustan Times)

On Sunday, Pakistan celebrated its 70th Independence Day. The first Independence Day occurred on August 14, 1947, when Pakistan became an independent state, because of the Partition that split the Indian subcontinent into two nations, India and Pakistan. As I wrote last week, Independence Days for India and Pakistan were followed by the Partition war, one of the most massive and bloodiest wars of the 20th century. ( "7-Aug-16 World View -- India's Narendra Modi finally hits out at Cow Protectors ('Gau Rakshaks')")

The Partition war was an "organic" generational crisis civil war between Hindus and Muslims. That is, it came up from the people, rather than coming about because one nation invaded another one. In fact, the leading Hindu and Muslim politicians of the day were in a state of denial, and were caught completely by surprise, and hadn't expected the war to occur at all. And most of the "organic" slaughter was centered in the provinces of Kashmir and Jammu.

The crisis civil war was settled with a compromise: Kashmir and Jammu would be split into separate regions governed by Pakistan and India, respectively, separated by a Line of Control (LoC).

Today, with India and Pakistan again in a generational Crisis era, the leading Hindu and Muslim politicians are once in a state of denial, not realizing how dangerous the situation is, and how a new, bloody, massive "organic" civil war could begin in Kashmir once again.

Pakistan celebrated Independence Day on Sunday with commemorative ceremonies held in Islamabad, Pakistan's capital city, as well as at the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi, India's capital city.

In Islamsbad, the day began with a 31-gun salute in the federal capital along with a 21-gun salute in each provincial capital. Flag hoisting ceremonies were held in the provincial capitals and district headquarters. The main ceremony of the day was held at Islamabad’s Convention Centre, where President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif hoisted the national flag.

Nawaz Sharif opened the hostilities by announcing, "I dedicate this year’s 14th August to the freedom of Kashmir." By "freedom," he means that the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir should be given to Pakistan, something that would not happen without a major war.

Pakistan's envoy to India Abdul Basit, the Pakistan High Commissioner in New Delhi, said:

"Pakistan will continue to extend its full diplomatic, political and moral support to the valiant people of Jammu and Kashmir until they get their right to self-determination. ...

The only outstanding issue is how to liberate parts of J&K under illegal occupation of Islamabad. As far as Jammu and Kashmir is concerned, we are dedicating this year’s Independence Day to the freedom of Kashmir. And we firmly believe that the sacrifices made by the people of Jammu and Kashmir will not go in vain."

(Correction: The above quote is actually from an Indian minister, Jitendra Singh. What Basit actually said was:

"Pakistan will continue to extend its full diplomatic, political and moral support to the valiant people of Jammu and Kashmir until they get their right to self determination."

Correction added, 17-Aug)

Indian officials criticized Basit's statement because, as Pakistan's envoy to India, his job is to improve communications, not make provocative statements that hinder communication. Jitendra Singh, junior minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, shot back:

"Our stand is very clear in the context of the J&K issue. If at all there is any outstanding issue with Pakistan, it is only on ways to liberate parts of the state which remain under the illegal occupation of Islamabad and make them a part of the Union of India."

India's Home Minister Rajnath Singh also retorted in a similar inflammatory manner:

Nawaz Sharif said that he is waiting for Kashmir to be handed over to Pakistan, he even wrote to UN Secretary General regarding this. I want to assert that no power in the world can wrest Kashmir from us. And if at all they want to have a dialogue with us, then we are ready. But it will be about Pakistan occupied Kashmir, not Kashmir."

On Friday, Pakistan proposed sending supplies to the people of Indian-government Kashmir. An official Indian government spokesman said,

"I can only characterize [the proposal to send] supplies to the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir as absurd. India and others in the region have already received enough of Pakistan’s trademark exports — international terrorism, cross-border infiltrators, weapons, narcotics and fake currency." Indian Express and Pakistan Today

Militants hoist Pakistani flags in Kashmir on Sunday

Violent clashes in Kashmir began on July 9, following the death on July 8 of Burhan Wani, 22, a 22-year-old commander in the separatist militia Hizbul Mujahideen (HM). Some 50 Kashmiris were killed and over 1,900 injured. About 600 were blinded for life, having been shot by the security forces with "non-lethal" pellet guns. The death of Wani has triggered weeks of anti-India riots, demonstrations, and violence in Kashmir. ( "21-Jul-16 World View -- India-Pakistan tensions grow over Kashmir issue")

On Sunday, India imposed a curfew in all major towns of the Indian-controlled portion Kashmir and Jammu, in order to prevent widespread celebrations of Pakistan's Independence Day, but the celebrations occurred anyway.

Large pro-Pakistan rallies were held in several towns in southern Kashmir on Sunday. Militants from Hizbul Mujahideen hoisted Pakistani flags and saluted them.

In one town, nine people were injured when police and paramilitary forces fired pellets on a rally. In another town, a pro-Pakistan rally was dispersed by police, resulting in clashes in which at least six people were injured. Police were pelted with stones in dozens of towns. Indian Express and Geo TV (Pakistan) and Hindustan Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Aug-16 World View -- India, Pakistan celebrate independence day with vitriolic accusations about Kashmir thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Aug-2016) Permanent Link
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14-Aug-16 World View -- Wild celebrations in Manbij Syria, after major defeat for ISIS

Manbij was known as 'Little London' because of British jihadists

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Wild celebrations in Manbij Syria, after major defeat for ISIS


A man's beard is cut off in Manbij on Saturday (Reuters)
A man's beard is cut off in Manbij on Saturday (Reuters)

Men are shaving their beards and women are removing their burqas in Manbij, Syria, today, after the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) declared the city fully liberated on Friday.

The so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) captured the city of over 100,000 people in January 2014, turning what used to be one of Syria's most liberal cities into a virtual hell. ISIS has adopted one of the most psychotic interpretations of Sharia law, with strict dress codes for both men and women, rules forbidding men and women from mixing, rules forbidding smoking and music, mosque attendance required five times per day, and a variety of punishments for even small violations, including flogging, losing a hand, or being beheaded.

The two months of heavy fighting killed more than 1000 people and displaced thousands from their homes. The fighters also freed hundreds of civilians the extremists had used as human shields.

The capture of Manbij is a significant defeat for ISIS because it lies on a key supply route between Turkey's border and the city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the ISIS. Before ISIS took over, the population of Raqqa was over one million, but many people have fled the city, and it's estimated now that the population is between 250,000 and 300,000. ARA News (Syria-Kurdish) and Telegraph (London) and AP

Manbij was known as 'Little London' because of British jihadists

So many jihadists from Britain have traveled to Manbij to join ISIS that the city has been nicknamed "Little London."

As many as 700 British citizens are thought to have traveled from Britain to Syria to join ISIS between 2011-15, and half of them are believed to have since returned to Britain. There are also jihadists from Germany, France, Saudi Arabia, and Algeria, but Britain has the highest number.

Many of the British citizens re "jihadi brides" who traveled to Syria to marry an ISIS fighter. I assume that these girls are turned on erotically by men who cut off other people's heads. Telegraph (11-Jan) and Daily Mail (3-Jun)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Aug-16 World View -- Wild celebrations in Manbij Syria, after major defeat for ISIS thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Aug-2016) Permanent Link
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13-Aug-16 World View -- Thailand shocked by 13 bombings in five southern provinces

Any of Thailand's three major ethnic groups could be the perpetrators

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Thailand shocked by 13 bombings in five southern provinces


A supporter of former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra holds a rose as she arrives at a polling station during the constitutional referendum in Bangkok. (Getty)
A supporter of former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra holds a rose as she arrives at a polling station during the constitutional referendum in Bangkok. (Getty)

Thailand is on high alert following a total of 13 bombing incidents that killed four people and injured 35 others in five southern provinces between Wednesday and Friday morning. The bombings occurred at beach resorts in southern Thailand. Four people were killed and 35 others, including foreign tourists, were injured.

The characteristics of the bombings were significant different from those usually perpetrated by jihadist groups linked to al-Qaeda or the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

Instead of being suicide bombings, they were improvised explosive devices (IEDs) triggered remotely by a mobile phone signal. Some analysts are saying that they were low-explosive devices detonated in times and places so that they would cause the enormous casualties that typical ISIS bombings do.

Thus, it's believed that the bombings were perpetrated by a domestic group with the objective of damaging Thailand's tourist industry, which accounts for about 10% of the country's GDP. Bangkok Post and CNN

Any of Thailand's three major ethnic groups could be the perpetrators


Map of southern Thailand showing sites of the bombings (CNN)
Map of southern Thailand showing sites of the bombings (CNN)

There are three major demographic groups in Thailand, and any one of the three could be responsible for the bombings.

The two we've been writing about most in the last few years are competing for political power.

The "yellow shirt" market-dominant light-skinned Thai-Chinese elite minority live mostly in central Thailand around Bangkok. They're a "market-dominant minority," meaning that even though they're a minority, they control most of the money and businesses in the country, especially in wealthy Bangkok.

The "red shirt" dark-skinned Thai-Thai live in rural areas in northern and northeastern Thailand. Many are farmers, but they also do most of the menial labor that the elites don't want to do, while they vastly outnumber the yellow shirt Thai-Chinese elite. The Thai-Thai are represented by the Pheu Thai political party, which has won the last five elections because of their majority. The yellow shirts used a variety of techniques, from violent protests to army coups, to overturn these elections. The Thai-Thai hero Thaksin Shinawatra was prime minister until 2006, when an army coup forced him out of office, and he now lives in exile in Dubai. His sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, then took his place and became prime minister in 2011, until the Constitutional Court forced her to step down by finding her guilty of abusing her power.

Incidentally, my favorite story in this saga occurred in December 2008. ( "Thailand government collapses, ending crippling riots from class war".) A Thaksin ally, Samak Sundaravej, had been elected prime minister. After violent protests by the yellow shirts, he was forced to step down, because a court removed him from office because he had had a cooking show on tv, and that was somehow considered a conflict of interest. You just can't make this stuff up.

Thailand's army seized power in May 2014, presumably in a victory for the yellow shirts, to prevent another Thai-Thai political victory. Then, just last week, a referendum in Thailand approved a new constitution put forth by the military, in a campaign in which it was against the law to campaign against the referendum, and one could be jailed for doing so. So, not surprisingly, the referendum passed. According to analysts, the new constitution is designed to keep the Thai-Thai political party from winning the next election, so that the elites will remain in power.

So a group of red shirt or yellow shirt activists could be the perpetrators of the bombings of the last three days. Both groups have expressed opposition to the constitution that was just approved, and both groups have used protests to shut down Bangkok's business and retail district, in order to damage the Thai economy.

The third possible perpetrators are the separatist Malay insurgents, living in southern Thailand, in the geographic region where the bombings actually took place. Thailand is primarily Buddhist, but the southern portion of the country, bordering Malaysia, is Muslim. An Islamist insurgency began in the south in 2004, and repeated terrorist attacks have killed thousands.

According to one analyst, one of the towns chosen for the bombings Hua Hin may have been chosen because there's a large community of retirees from Europe living there, giving the bombings a maximum international significance. Hua Hin is also the Thai king's favorite residence outside of Bangkok.

Thailand's last generational crisis war was the 1970s "killing fields" war of Cambodia, the country next door, putting both countries into a generational Awakening-Unraveling era. All three of these groups -- the Buddhist Thai-Chinese and Thai-Thai, and the Muslim Malays -- are displaying typical behaviors for these eras, including peaceful protests that turn violent. The army is also using typical behaviors that we've seen in other countries, including Bangladesh, Burundi, Syria, Zimbabwe, and others, by using both political means and violence. The pattern will continue with increasing protests, riots and violence by protest groups, with the army will respond with increasing political repression and violence, with a continuing cycle of violence that can last for decades before another ethnic war breaks out. Chatham House and BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Aug-16 World View -- Thailand shocked by 13 bombings in five southern provinces thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Aug-2016) Permanent Link
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12-Aug-16 World View -- Fears grow that a new Russian invasion of Ukraine is imminent

US forces in Libya may declare victory over ISIS this week

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Fears grow that a new Russian invasion of Ukraine is imminent


Russians have been talking for years about a possible attack on the port city of Mariupol, and then continuing on to Odessa.
Russians have been talking for years about a possible attack on the port city of Mariupol, and then continuing on to Odessa.

As we reported earlier this week, Russia has been massing troops, tanks and other military hardware in Ukraine on northern border of the Crimea Peninsula of Ukraine, and closing crossing points.

On Thursday, Russia's FSB (successor to the KGB) issued this explanation:

"FSB Russia prevented the commission in the Republic of Crimea of terrorist attacks prepared by the Chief Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine

The Federal Security Service prevented the commission of terrorist attacks in the Republic of Crimea prepared by the General Directorate of the Ministry of Intelligence of Defense of Ukraine, the targets of which have been identified as critical infrastructure and livelihood of the peninsula.

The purpose of the sabotage and terrorist attacks is to destabilize the social and political situation in the region during the preparation and conduct of elections of the federal and regional authorities.

As a result of operational search activities on the night of the 6th of August 7th, 2016, in the region of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea discovered a group of saboteurs. During the arrest of the terrorists, a firefight occurred and a Russian FSB officer died. At the site of clashes, investigators found 20 improvised explosive devices with a total capacity of more than 40 kilograms of TNT, ammunition and special means of initiation, regular and anti-magnetic mines, as well as grenades and special weapons, consisting of armed special units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine."

We've now had several years of statements by Putin and Russia's government about Ukraine and Syria that turned out to be total lies, so we can reasonably assume that most of the FSB statement is a total lie. I'm not saying that everything that Ukraine's government says is truth. All I'm saying is that, after several years of an unending stream of total lies and hundreds of Russian internet trolls paid to lie, we can be certain that anything that comes from Russia's government is total BS, with no relation to the truth except by accident.

Large quantities of Russian military hardware are being deployed in Crimea, far more than would be justified by a single gunfight, or even a single terrorist attack. Columns of armored personnel carriers, military ambulances, fuel tankers, trucks, signals and engineering vehicles have been video-recorded in the port town of Kerch, which handles ferry arrivals from Russia. They have also been spotted in the Crimean regional capital of Simferopol, and outside a military training range near the southern town of Feodosia. Internet services have been cut in northern Crimea, with no explanation.

Ukraine is denying Russia's accusations, but in reaction to Russia's actions, Ukraine's army is reinforcing units in Kherson, the region just across the Crimean border.

One possible target of a new Russian invasion would be an attack on the port city of Mariupol. As you can see from the above map, Kerch is separated from the Russian mainland by a narrow body of water that links the Sea of Asov with the Black Sea. In 2014, Russia had announced the intention to build a land bridge connecting Kerch with the mainland, but that has never happened, and so people, supplies, and military equipment have to depend on ferries to reach Crimea from Russia.

From Russia's point of view, the best solution would be a new invasion of Ukraine targeting Mariupol, and then to take control of the entire land border with the Sea of Asov. That would allow Russia to deliver people, supplies and military equipment overland in cars, trucks and buses. From there, Russian forces could continue westward to Odesa and then on to Transnistria, an enclave in eastern Moldova with a heavy Russian population. ( "5-Nov-14 World View -- Russian troops approach Ukraine's border, threaten port city Mariupol")

It's always wise to remember that Russian troops are still occupying eastern Ukraine, and Russian separatist leaders in 2014 repeatedly threatened a complete secession of the region from Ukraine, so that Russia can annex the entire region just as Crimea was annexed.

Nobody knows what Russia is planning, and not a word they say can be believed, but there is something going on, and we'll have to wait and see what it is. Daily Beast and VOA and Guardian (London)

US forces in Libya may declare victory over ISIS this week

The following analysis is from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI):

U.S.-backed forces in Libya may declare victory over the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) in Sirte this week, but a victory over ISIS in Sirte may lead to more conflict in the long term and ultimately strengthen actors that pose a direct threat to U.S. national security.

The fall of Sirte is imminent. Libyan militias allied with the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) seized ISIS’s primary remaining stronghold on August 10, along with other key ISIS positions in the city center. U.S. air support and Special Operations Forces allowed the GNA-allied militias to overcome ISIS’s defenses. The militias will continue to combat pockets of resistance in the city but will likely declare total victory over ISIS in Sirte within the coming week.

The fall of Sirte is not an existential threat to ISIS in Libya, however. ISIS militants continue to operate openly in northern Libya, including in Benghazi in the east and near Sabratha in the northwest. Nor has ISIS lost the capabilities that it based in Sirte. Approximately 350 ISIS fighters remain in the city, but the majority of ISIS’s fighting force has withdrawn to southern Libya or infiltrated civilian populations. ISIS may reconstitute in a safe haven in southern Libya, from which it will resume attacks in northern Libya and attack into neighboring Tunisia and Algeria. AEI Critical Threats

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Aug-16 World View -- Fears grow that a new Russian invasion of Ukraine is imminent thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Aug-2016) Permanent Link
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11-Aug-16 World View -- Vietnam deploys rocket launchers in South China Sea to confront China

Japan-China relations 'deteriorate significantly' after repeated Chinese provocations

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Vietnam deploys rocket launchers in South China Sea to confront China


 EXTended Range Artillery (EXTRA) mobile rocket system from Israel Military Industries
EXTended Range Artillery (EXTRA) mobile rocket system from Israel Military Industries

Reports indicate that Vietnam is deploying rocket launchers on five of its bases in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. The launchers have been hidden from aerial surveillance and they have yet to be armed, but could be made operational with rocket artillery rounds within two or three days. Vietnam's Foreign Ministry responded to the reports by saying that the information was "inaccurate," without elaborating.

It's believed that Vietnam is deploying a state of the art EXTended Range Artillery (EXTRA) rocket system that it recently acquired from Israel Military Industries.

The EXTRA is a highly mobile weapon system and can be installed on either a truck or in a fixed installation. Vietnam procured the new mobile rocket launchers specifically with the Spratlys in mind given that it requires little logistical support -- e.g., it only uses a small lightweight radar system—and has very low maintenance costs (EXTRA rounds come in disposable sealed canisters).

EXTRA is equipped with a GPS inertial navigation system that makes it highly accurate up to a range of 150 km (93 miles), with different 150 kg (330 lb) warheads that can carry high explosives or bomblets to attack multiple targets simultaneously. Operated with targeting drones, they could strike both ships and land targets. That puts China's artificial islands, and the military installations installed on them, within range of the rocket system.

Vietnam and China have fought several wars in the last few decades. In a 1979 border war, China invaded Vietnam with 80,000 soldiers. They were driven back by the Vietnamese within six weeks, killing as many as 50,000 people on both sides. In their retreat, the Chinese implemented a barbaric scorched-earth policy, destroying every building and killing every animal. In 1974, China seized the Paracels by force from Vietnam, and in 1988, Chinese naval forces defeated the Vietnamese navy at Johnson South Reef.

So it's not an exaggeration to say that both sides are preparing for war, and in the current highly tense atmosphere, with surging nationalism and xenophobia on both sides, a war could start any day. Reuters and The Diplomat and Israel Military Industries

Japan-China relations 'deteriorate significantly' after repeated Chinese provocations

In moves that are apparently intended to provoke the Japanese, Chinese coast guard vessels have been entering waters surrounding the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. The Senkaku Islands are governed by Japan, but are claimed by China as their sovereign territory.

According to Japan's coast guard, 13 coast guard vessels sails through Japanese waters surrounding the Senkakus on Tuesday. This has happened already four times this month, and Tuesday's incident was the third day in a row. It's believed that some of the ships contain military forces.

Japan's government summoned the Chinese envoy to launch a formal objection. According to Japan's foreign minister Fumio Kishida:

"The situation surrounding the Japan-China relationship is significantly deteriorating. We cannot accept that [China] is taking actions that unilaterally raise tensions."

At Wednesday's US US State Dept. press briefing, spokesman Elizabeth Trudeau made a point of issuing a statement in defense of Japan:

"We continue to closely monitor the situation around the Senkaku Islands. We are in close communication with the Japanese as allies and are also concerned about the increase of Chinese coast guard vessels in the vicinity of the islands. As you noted, the U.S. position on the Senkaku Islands, as stated previously by the President, is clear and longstanding. The Senkaku Islands have been under Japanese administration since the reversion of Okinawa in 1972, such they fall within the scope of the article 5 of the 1960 U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. We oppose any unilateral action that seeks to undermine Japan’s administration of the Senkaku islands."

The statement contains an explicit reference to article 5 of the 1960 U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. According to that treaty, US armed forces will defend Japan if China takes any military action against Japan or the Senkakus. Nikkei and BBC and US State Dept.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Aug-16 World View -- Vietnam deploys rocket launchers in South China Sea to confront China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Aug-2016) Permanent Link
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10-Aug-16 World View -- China's fury grows over South Korea's plan to deploy THAAD anti-missile system

Russia massing tanks and troops in Ukraine on northern border of Crimea

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia massing tanks and troops in Ukraine on northern border of Crimea


Russian marines performing during the Navy Day celebrations in Sevastopol, Crimea, on July 31 (Reuters)
Russian marines performing during the Navy Day celebrations in Sevastopol, Crimea, on July 31 (Reuters)

Ukraine is deploying troops and military equipment to the border with the Crimea, the peninsula that Russia annexed after invading Ukraine in 2014, after residents reported a new Russian military buildup in northern Crimea, including troops, tanks, and other military hardware. In addition, Russia closed crossing points along the northern border on Sunday morning, although some of them have been reopened. Gunfire has also been reported.

Tensions are high because it's not known whether the deployment is a military exercise, or whether it's the prelude to a new invasion of Ukraine by Russia's military.

It's worthwhile today to briefly review what happened in 2014. Russia's president Vladimir Putin said that there were no Russian troops in Crimea, as Russian troops were invading Crimea. Later, Putin said would Russia would not annex Crimea, and a few days later, Russia annexed Crimea. On TV, Putin bragged about repeatedly lying and completely fooling the West. Putin said there were no Russian troops in East Ukraine as Russian troops were invading East Ukraine. Russian separatists in East Ukraine used a Russian-built Buk surface-to-air missile system to shoot down a passenger plane, Malaysian Airlines flight 17, killing hundreds of innocent civilians. The Russians lied, and said that the plane had fallen out of the sky by itself, or had been struck by a meteor. ( "14-Oct-15 World View -- Dutch report confirms that Russian missile shot down airliner over Ukraine")

So now Russian troops and military equipment are massing on the northern border of Crimea, and no one doubts that a new invasion of Ukraine could happen at any time. One thing that we can be sure of is that whatever Putin and the Russians say will have no relationship to the truth, except by accident. RFE/RL and Daily Mail (London) and Ukraine Today

China's fury grows over South Korea's plan to deploy THAAD anti-missile system

Furious Chinese state media are accusing the South Korean government of "seditious" moves by attacking the motives of South Koreans who opposed deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system. According to Xinhua, South Koreans opposing the THAAD deployment "are being reviled as blind followers of North Korea, or sycophant betrayers.

The THAAD deployment was triggered by aggressive military development in North Korea. This year, the North has made its fourth nuclear missile test, and has conducted numerous long-range missile tests. The obvious conclusion is that North Korea is developing technology to launch a nuclear strike against South Korea, Japan, and the United States. South Korea has rebuffed US requests to deploy THAAD for years, but recently acquiesced because of the North's nuclear weapon and long-range missile tests. ( "4-Aug-16 World View -- North Korean missile strikes sea close to Japan, threatening radar base")

China has been fuming at South Korea since the announcement, but the threats in China's media go well beyond demonizing South Korea's government. Beijing's Global Times advocates counter-measures:

There's little doubt that many South Koreans are becoming panicky over North Korean nuclear missile systems. So one might reasonably wonder why China is so freaked out over an anti-missile system to provide protection from those weapons.

Chinese media provides the answer:

"The X-band radar can snoop on Chinese and Russian territories as it can spot at least 2,000 km. Seoul claims that it will adopt the radar with a detectable range of 600-800 km, but the mode change can be made at any time in accordance with the needs of the U.S military that will operate the THAAD battery in South Korea."

In other words, the Chinese are freaking out because THAAD protects South Korea, Japan and the US not just from North Korean missiles, but also from Chinese missiles.

China has been preparing to launch a pre-emptive attack on the United States back at least as far as the 1990s. During the last 20 years, China has been spending trillions of dollars on one nuclear missile system after another with no purpose except to destroy American cities, aircraft carriers, and military bases.

The THAAD anti-missile system, if successful, could force China to postpone their invasion plans for years, and may also require them to spend trillions more to reconfigure their missile systems to defend against THAAD. No wonder they're infuriated.

The recent ruling by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague has been a devastating political blow to the Chinese. The ruling completely eviscerated China's claims in the South China Sea, and made it clear that China's artificial islands are illegal, and one of them is actually in waters governed by the Philippines. Not only that, but some of China's evidence to support it claims turns out to be delusional or a complete hoax. ( "13-Jul-16 World View -- Philippines humiliates China in harsh Hague Tribunal ruling over South China Sea")

China's reaction to all this is to become even more militarily belligerent, not only in the South China Sea but also in the East China Sea in belligerent confrontations with Japan.

As I've written in the past, China is behaving in a highly emotional, irrational, panicky, nationalistic manner, issuing delusional and fabricated evidence to support claims that everybody knows are false claims. This is what makes China so dangerous, and may cause them to make some really stupid decisions that will result in a world war, killing billions of people, and painting themselves as worse than Hitler's Nazis for decades. Xinhua and Global Times (Beijing) and Council on Foreign Relations

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Aug-16 World View -- China's fury grows over South Korea's plan to deploy THAAD anti-missile system thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Aug-2016) Permanent Link
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9-Aug-16 World View -- Quetta Pakistan terror attack kills 75, while unrest grows in Kashmir

The debate in Pakistan: Good terrorists vs Bad terrorists

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pakistan again in shock after bloody terrorist attack in Quetta


Residents light candles to honor victims of the Quetta blast on Monday (Reuters)
Residents light candles to honor victims of the Quetta blast on Monday (Reuters)

Terror attacks are nothing out of the ordinary in Pakistan, but this attack on Monday is causing even more consternation than others because it exposes the weaknesses in its own security services as well as its inability to control terror groups that in the past it helped create.

On Monday, a terrorist gunman in Quetta shot Bilal Anwar Kasi, the leader of the Balochistan Bar Association, where Quetta is the provincial capital of the province of Balochistan, which is in southwest Pakistan bordering Iran and Afghanistan.

Kasi was taken to Quetta's Civil Hospital, where a group of lawyers gathered to mourn his death. A suicide bomber then approached the lawyers and exploded, killing at least 75 people, mostly lawyers, and injuring at least 115 others.

Jamaat ul-Ahrar (JuA, Assembly of Freedom) claimed responsibility. 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). For that reason, ISIS is also claiming responsibility for the attack.

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.

On March 27 of this year, JuA took credit for the Easter massacre of Christians in Lahore in a terror attack. That attack killed more than 69 people, mostly women and children, and injured more than 300. That attack was supposed to kill Christians, but as it turned out, most of the people killed were Muslims. At the time, a JuA spokesman issued a statement: "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."

So JuA was pretty incompetent in that attack, killing a lot of Muslim women and children rather than Christian men. Pretty stupid bunch. So maybe this time they decided to target lawyers so that they'd kill only men, but they're still just killing Muslims. A regular bunch of Keystone Kops. Dawn (Pakistan) and Express Tribune (Pakistan) and Britannica

The debate in Pakistan: Good terrorists vs Bad terrorists

Many analysts, especially in India, are accusing Pakistan of having a policy of distinguishing between "good terrorists," who target Afghanistan and India, and "bad terrorists," who target Pakistan itself. It was just last week that US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said exactly that:

"[We] believe that Pakistan has taken and is taking steps to counter terrorist violence, and certainly focusing on those groups that threaten Pakistani or Pakistan’s stability. They have – the military has shut down some of these safe havens. They’ve restored government control to parts of Pakistan that were used as terrorist safe havens for years. And these are important steps that have continued – or contributed, rather, to security interests in the region. And they’ve come at a cost of Pakistani lives lost. But at the same time, we’ve been very clear with the highest levels of the Government of Pakistan that they must target all militant groups, and that includes those that target Pakistan’s neighbors, and they must also close all safe havens."

It's ironic that Toner made these remarks just a few days before Monday's horrific attack. On Saturday, an angry editorial in Pakistan's Daily Times directed outrage at Toner:

"May I ask whether the State Department has given any proof to Islamabad pinpointing the safe havens? Google Earth is now in everybody’s hands; no part on earth remains a secret to anyone in the world or beyond this globe. Shouldn’t Mark Toner present the satellite images of any of the safe havens within Pakistan or those spared by the forces engaged in Zarb-e-Azb operation? Such statements are tantamount to casting aspersions on Pakistani people, government and armed forces’ all-out sincere efforts to kill this terror monster once and for all. Time and again, Americans have been told that we no more differentiate between good and bad Taliban."

The Saturday editorial agrees that Pakistan in the past used to differentiate between good and bad Taliban, but claims that it no longer happens.

For many years, Pakistan resisted international calls to do something about the terrorist havens, particularly in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along the border with Afghanistan. In June 2014, the Taliban pulled off a spectacular attack on Karachi airport. The editorial above refers to Zarb-e-Azb, which is the name of an operation that Pakistan's army finally launched in the tribal area, to "clean out" the Taliban's hideouts and weapons stores.

On Monday, the BBC interviewed Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's former ambassador to the United States. He was asked to comment on Monday's attack in Quetta. Here's my transcription:

"The extremist jihadis obviously do not appreciate or agree with modernity, and lawyers do represent rule of law, they represent a more secular orientation than the jihadis would want. Pakistan's dilemma is that it ends up supporting certain jihadis for operations against Afghanistan and India, while at the same time helping others. The ones it supports end up helping the ones it opposes.

There are 42 jihadi extremist groups in Pakistan that have been identified as perpetrators of terrorism in Pakistan. Several have been banned, but have resurfaced, because of Pakistan's policy of making a distinction between groups that it can use against its neighbors and groups that it wants to suppress.

Baluchistan is a particularly difficult province - it has an insurgency going on by Baluch secular nationalists, and the army tends to use the Islamists to try and fight the separatists or nationalists, whom it considers to be a greater threat to Pakistan.

There was some success [with the Zarb-e-Azb army operation], but the success will always be limited by Pakistan's own 25 year policy of making distinctions between groups. So while some groups have been suppressed, others have not. ...

[Pakistan's policy] has indeed created a monster, and Pakistan's people have suffered because of that, but Pakistan's military intelligence service, Pakistan's military and some elements of what can be called the Pakistan establishment are just too wedded to this policy to want to change it, even though the cost is as high as we saw today.

It's quite clear that Washington's support [for Pakistan] - $23 billion since 9/11 - has not worked sufficiently to make Pakistan change its policy entirely, and so we do not know what [additional] pressure Washington might be able to bear. I think what we have to live with is that Pakistan will continue to be in this dichotomous position, until and unless Pakistan's leaders realize that the price their people are paying is just too high."

US State Dept. (4-Aug) and Daily Times (Pakistan, 6-Aug) and Daily Excelsior (India, 7-Aug)

Violence and unrest increase in India's Kashmir

An injured youth died on Monday, after suffering injuries sustained in a police action in Indian-controlled Kashmir. Violent clashes in Kashmir began on July 9, following the death on July 8 of Burhan Wani, 22, a 22-year-old commander in the separatist militia Hizbul Mujahideen (HM). ( "21-Jul-16 World View -- India-Pakistan tensions grow over Kashmir issue")

The number of people killed has now risen to 58, despite a curfew that's now 31 days old, and there's no end in sight.

Many people believe that Pakistan is stoking the violence and even providing money and weapons to terror groups in Kashmir. This belief is supported by the fact that terrorist HM leader Syed Salahuddin is speaking out, calling Wani a "martyr," and and adding that "Pakistan is duty bound, morally bound, politically bound and constitutionally bound to provide concrete, substantial support to the ongoing freedom struggle on the territory of Kashmir."

It certainly is possible that Pakistan is directly or indirectly supporting the Kashmir separatists, but it's also true that many people in Pakistan's Punjab province have friendships with people in Kashmir, or they're in the same family. They are going to identify with the people of Kashmir and support them, either indirectly or directly, at least with moral support.

My article two days ago contained generational histories of India's 1857 Rebellion and the 1947 Partition war. ( "7-Aug-16 World View -- India's Narendra Modi finally hits out at Cow Protectors ('Gau Rakshaks')")

In both of those cases, there were extremely bloody wars, and they were completely organic, in the sense that they were not directed by armies or generals, but rose up from the people. This organic war, where protests and demonstrations become violent and spiral out of control are the hallmark of a generational crisis war, the worst and bloodiest kinds of war. The situation in Kashmir is looking more and more like this kind of organic war.

Since the 1947 Partition war, there have been three non-crisis wars fought between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. The terrorist Syed Salahuddin, quoted above, said on Monday, "I can predict a 4th war with certainty because Kashmiris are no longer willing to compromise, come what may." Salahuddin also predicted that this could spiral into a much larger war, and even become a nuclear war. If the Kashmir demonstrations become more violent, and begin to look more and more like what happened in 1857 and 1947, then Salahuddin may turn out to have been right. New Indian Express and Express Tribune (Pakistan) and First Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Aug-16 World View -- Quetta Pakistan terror attack kills 75, while unrest grows in Kashmir thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Aug-2016) Permanent Link
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8-Aug-16 World View -- Syrian regime apparently suffers major setback in Aleppo

People of Aleppo burn tires to create a smoky 'no-fly zone'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

People of Aleppo burn tires to create a smoky 'no-fly zone'


Burning tires in Aleppo to create a 'no-fly zone' (AP)
Burning tires in Aleppo to create a 'no-fly zone' (AP)

With Aleppo's civilians, including hundreds of thousands of women and children, being bombed indiscriminately by the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad and by Russia's warplanes, sending missiles into schools and hospitals, dropping barrel bombs laden with metal and chemical weapons on civilian neighborhoods, the people are using any method they can to protect themselves. Even children are doing their part.

The people of Aleppo, including children, are burning tires in order to create a "smoke curtain" above the city, blocking the warplanes from identifying targets to bomb. There have been repeated proposals to create a "no-fly zone" over Syria, but none has ever been implemented. The people of Aleppo are creating their own no-fly zone by burning tires. BBC and Gulf News

Syrian regime apparently suffers major setback in Aleppo

Rebel forces in Syria fighting against the army of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, supported by forces from Iran and Iran-controlled Hezbollah and by Russia's air force, are claiming that they've broken the siege that had blocked food shipments into Aleppo.

If this is true then it could represent a major setback for al-Assad and for Russia's president Vladimir Putin. As we described last week, Russia is using the 'Grozny Model' to pursue mass slaughter in Aleppo. There are 300,000 civilians, including women and children, in Aleppo. Putin's plan, following the Grozny model that Russia used in the war in Chechnya, is to drive as many people out of Aleppo as possible, to where they can be easily targeted and killed by missiles and chlorine-laden barrel bombs, and then call anyone remaining in the city a "terrorist," and flatten the entire city, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians.

Part of the strategy was to use a siege to starve the city, and then allow people to leave at the appropriate time. However, a coalition of two dozen anti-Assad rebel groups, calling itself "The Army of Conquest," led by Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS), are claiming that they've broken the siege and that food is entering the city.

Apparently, the change that permitted the coalition to be formed was that JFS renounced its affiliation with al-Qaeda. ( "29-Jul-16 World View -- Syria's Al-Nusra splits with al-Qaeda, becoming Jabhat Fateh al-Sham") Many anti-Assad groups didn't want to be linked to al-Qaeda, and were demanding that Jabhat al-Nusra split with al-Qaeda before any coalition could be formed.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the rebels had broken the siege but the route was "not fully secure yet." Even if the coalition have broken the siege, it remains to be seen whether they can consolidate their gains, especially as the Syrian, Russian and Iranian forces redeploy to reinstate the siege. AP and ARA News (Syria-Kurdish)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Aug-16 World View -- Syrian regime apparently suffers major setback in Aleppo thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Aug-2016) Permanent Link
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7-Aug-16 World View -- India's Narendra Modi finally hits out at Cow Protectors ('Gau Rakshaks')

Generational history of cow protection in India and Hinduism

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

India's Narendra Modi finally hits out at Cow Protectors ('Gau Rakshaks')


Narendra Modi on Saturday (NDTV)
Narendra Modi on Saturday (NDTV)

Under political pressure, India's prime minister Narendra Modi broke his silence on "gau rakshaks" (cow protectors), after four Dalits (low-caste "untouchables") in Gujarat were brutally beaten by vigilante gau rakshaks for allegedly killing a cow, which later investigation revealed to have been killed by a lion.

At a townhall meeting on Saturday, Modi said:

"I get so angry at those who are into the Gau-Rakshak business. A Gau-Bhakt (cow devotee) is different, Gau Seva (cow protection) is different. I have seen that some people are into crimes all night and wear the garb of Gau Rakshaks in the day.

70-80% will be those who indulge in anti-social activities and try to hide their sins by pretending to be Gau Rakshaks. If they are true protectors, they should realize that most cows die because of plastic, not slaughter. They should stop cows from eating plastic."

Eating of cows has been forbidden by Hinduism for three millennia, but in the current generational Crisis era, the question of protecting cows has become heavily tied into Hindutva, or Hindu nationalism, which sometimes is used to excuse violence towards Muslims, Christians and Dalits. ( "12-Oct-15 World View -- India Hindus attack Muslims as cow slaughter incidents surge")

Although Modi and his ruling Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) party have not supported or praised these attacks, they haven't spoken out against them either, until Modi's statement on Saturday. It's possible that there may be a backlash in the days ahead from extreme nationalist members of his own party.

Pawan Pandit, who is chairman of one gau rakshak group, the Bhartiya Gau Raksha Dal (BGRD), defends his movement:

"We are not anti-Muslim or anti-Dalit. We are a fraternity which wants to save the cow, because she is our mother... because that is what my religion, my parents, my holy book, taught me. ...

"Forget that cow slaughter hurts our sensibility, forget that our holy book considers slaughter of cow as the biggest crime, forget that we are a majority... at least, look at the cow as the biggest source of economy for rural India. And look at the scientific reasons, the benefits of using its products—be it milk, urine or cow dung. I am not the one saying all this. International research claims so. America, in fact, has patented a cow urine drug."

As far as I can tell, there's a parallel here between India and Pakistan. In India, Hindu nationalists can get somebody killed by falsely accusing him of defiling a cow, while in Pakistan, Muslim nationalists can get somebody killed by falsely accusing him of defiling the Koran. New Delhi Television and Indian Express and Live Mint (India)

Generational history of cow protection in India and Hinduism


Map of 1947 partitioning of British India into India and Pakistan (BBC)
Map of 1947 partitioning of British India into India and Pakistan (BBC)

The origins of the veneration of the cow in Hinduism can be traced back almost three millennia to India's Vedic period. With the rise of the ideal of ahimsa (“noninjury”), the absence of the desire to harm living creatures, the cow came to symbolize a life of nonviolent generosity. In addition, because her products supplied nourishment, the cow was associated with motherhood and Mother Earth.

During the Medieval era, especially when the Muslim Mughal Empire was in power, there was always tension between Muslims, who consider pigs to be unclean, and Hindus, who consider cows to be venerated. This led to tensions during generational Awakening eras, and sometimes led to war during generational Crisis eras.

In the 1850s, veneration of cows became a major trigger in the extremely bloody generational crisis war, the 1857 Indian Rebellion, also called India's First War of Independence from the British colonial power.

In the 1850s, the British East India Company, which was governing India, introduced a new sort of ammunition for a new model of the Enfield rifle.

To be loaded, this cartridge had to be torn open so that the powder it contained could be poured down the barrel of the muzzle-loading gun; because the soldier’s hands were full, this was done with the teeth. Then the bullet had to be rammed down the rifled barrel. To facilitate its passage, the cartridges were greased with tallow, which was made of beef and pork fat.

These cartridges were used by British soldiers, and were also issued to sepoys (Indian soldiers) who served under the command of the British army. There's some dispute as to whether the cartridges issued to the sepoys were also greased with beef and pork fat, but there's no doubt that once the issue became public and suspicions were raised, rumors spread rapidly among the sepoys that the British were defiling their bodies and destroying their lives by breaking their castes, which was the punishment for eating beef. The Muslim sepoys were also offended that they had been eating pork fat.

This was a generational Crisis era, and anti-British xenophobia and nationalism were already high, but the greased cartridges triggered riots and mutinies that spread across India. The war lasted over two years and resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths.

There were dramatic changes during the Recovery Era that followed the end of the war. The British Indian Empire was created out of the former East India Company, and India was under the direct rule of the British Crown. However, the Indian tribes and families were given a great deal more autonomy. There was a blossoming of culture, with new universities, colleges and schools opened by Indians, and there was new technology, including new railroads and irrigation systems.

However, it's typical of the government in such situations to do everything possible to prevent anything so horrible from happening again, and in this case it meant harshly suppressing any dissent, even jailing protestors. It's remarkable that of the histories of the 1857 rebellion that were written in the following decades, they were all written by British authors, and almost never by Indian authors.

The first major Indian account of the 1857 Rebellion was by a young Hindu activist named Veer Savarkar, whose book, "The Indian War Of Independence-1857" was published in 1909, and contained descriptions like the following:

"[England] seized the innocent Hindu villagers, sentenced them to be hanged, and then pierced them with bayonets, and then, Heavens! thrust beef dripping with blood – the blood of the cow – down their throats, at the point of the bayonet – a desecration to which they would have preferred being hanged and, even, being burnt alive?"

Savarkar was jailed for insurrection, and later became an extremely violent Hindu nationalist terrorist, and started the Hindutva movement which still exists today.

There were two other well-known figures that came out of the generational Awakening and Unraveling periods following the rebellion: Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian peace activist, and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who became the founder of Pakistan.

Gandhi launched a "non-cooperation movement" against the British, involving civil disobedience. The Awakening era climax occurred on April 10-12, 1919, with the Jalianvala Bagh Massacre (Amritsar Massacre), when British troops opened fire on 10,000 Sikhs holding a protest meeting, killing hundreds. That event convinced both the British and the Indians that Britain should completely give up control of India.

Cow protection had already started again as a symbol of Hindu nationalism as early as 1882, as cow protection societies began to be formed at that time. Cow protection became more and more important as a nationalist symbol in the following decades, as a decision was made for India to leave the British empire and become an independent state.

The debate in 1946 following World War II centered on two choices: Should there be a single Indian state, with separate regions under the control of Muslims and Hindus, or should there be a two-state solution, a Muslim state living side-by-side in peace with a Hindu state? The argument that won the day was that Muslims can't stand pigs and Hindus can't eat cows, and so they can't live together. Finally, Jinnah and Gandhi agreed that there had to be two separate states, India and Pakistan.

The 1857 rebellion was still fresh in everyone's mind, and it was believed that a new war could be avoided by Britain giving up control of India. If Britain had tried to keep India as part of the British empire, then there might well have been a new war similar to the 1857 rebellion. So that was prevented, but in a generational Crisis era, you have the rise of young generations with no memory of the past, a feeling of invulnerability, and a desire for war -- any war.

So India and Pakistan were created, leading to the 1947 Partition war between Muslims and Hindus, possibly the largest and bloodiest battle of the 20th century, eclipsing the bloodiness of the 1857 Rebellion.

This is an example of the saying, "History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes."

Since then, India and Pakistan have fought three wars. One of these, the 1971 war in Bengal (East Pakistan) was a generational crisis war that created the nation of Bangladesh. ( "3-Jul-16 World View -- Bangladesh tries to recover from Dhaka terror attack, the worst in 40 years")

Today, Hindu nationalism is again rising, and it will undoubtedly have the same result that it had in 1947 and 1857. Britannica and Smithsonian and BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Aug-16 World View -- India's Narendra Modi finally hits out at Cow Protectors ('Gau Rakshaks') thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Aug-2016) Permanent Link
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6-Aug-16 World View -- Venezuela's economic crisis is hitting Cuba hard

Egypt claims that it killed leaders of ISIS branch in Sinai

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Venezuela's economic crisis is hitting Cuba hard


More starving children in Venezuela's Socialist paradise are nothing but skin and bones
More starving children in Venezuela's Socialist paradise are nothing but skin and bones

Children in Venezuela are increasingly dying from starvation, their bodies nothing but skin and bones, the outlines of their ribs visible.

The two major Socialist countries in the world, Venezuela and North Korea, have starving population with no hope for improvement because they're following Socialist policies that have been disastrous whenever and wherever they've been tried. It's just one more of those things that you wouldn't believe is even possible if it weren't actually happening.

The Soviet Union and China were forced to abandon Socialism in the last few decades in order to allow people to eat. Even Cuba, that Socialist paradise, finally gave up Socialism in 2010. ( "16-Sep-2010 News -- Cuba's seismic shift has global implications")

But Cuba's economy is still crippled from decades of Socialism, and is still heavily dependent on Venezuela for energy imports.

For years, Venezuela has met its commitment to Cuba to ship some 80,000 to 90,000 barrels of oil daily to Cuba at subsidized prices in exchange for the services of some 40,000 Cuban medical and educational professionals.

But oil production in Venezuela has fallen 12% in the last year alone, thanks to Venezuela's oil industry, run by incompetent cronies of the Socialist president Nicolás Maduro Moros. Maduro has promised to keep the oil flowing to Cuba, but in fact they're finally declining, down 19.5% this year.

There are widespread fears in Cuba of another "Special Period," like the one that occurred in the early 1990s with the collapse of the Soviet Union, which at that time was Cuba's provider, causing extreme hardship for the Cuban people.

The collapse of Venezuela's economy will impose new hardships on the Cuban people, but they're unlikely to be as bad as the "Special Period" of the 1990s. In 1989, more than 80% of Cuban trade was with the Soviet bloc, which provided 98% of Cuba’s oil. Today, Venezuela accounts for only about 40% of Cuban trade. Today, Cuba imports 59% of its oil, so even a total loss of Venezuelan oil would not have the disastrous impact the Soviet collapse had. Miami Herald and Merco Press (Montevideo Uruguay) and World Politics Review

Egypt claims that it killed leaders of ISIS branch in Sinai

A statement on the Facebook page of Egypt's armed forces says that a missile strike has killed Abu Doaa Al-Ansari, the leader of the ISIS branch in northern Sinai, along with 45 additional militants.

Al-Ansari was the leader of the terror group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM - Ansar Jerusalem - Champions of Jerusalem), which changed its name to Al Wilayat Sinai (Province of Sinai) when it changed its allegiance from al-Qaeda to the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

ABM has been conducting terror attacks against Egypt's army and government targets for years, but they became more frequent in 2013, after the coup that deposed Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government.

ABM has claimed responsibility for the downing of Russia's Metrojet Flight 9268 passenger plane over Sinai in Egypt in November 2015. ( "5-Nov-15 World View -- Bombing of plane in Egypt threatens Russia's Syria strategy")

Some analysts are questioning the validity of Egypt's claim that ABM leader Abu Doaa Al-Ansari has been killed. They point out that killing 45 militants with a missile strike is extremely unlikely because so many militants would not congregate in one place. Egypt has clamped a strict media blackout on the Sinai, so it's impossible to independently verify Egypt's claims. Daily News Egypt and Al-Ahram (Cairo) and Al Arabiya (23-Jul)

Video from Sinai's ISIS branch threatens Rome, Israel and all Jews

Al Wilayat Sinai (Province of Sinai), formerly Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM - Ansar Jerusalem - Champions of Jerusalem), the ISIS branch in Egypt's Sinai, has released a 35-minute video entitled "Flames of the Desert," which delivers a rare threat to Israel.

The video shows past attacks on Egypt's military targets, and says:

"This is only the beginning, and our meeting [will be] in Rome and Beit Al-Maqdis [Jerusalem]. ... Oh Jews, wait for us. The punishment [we have prepared for you] is severe and soon you will pay a high price."

ISIS videos have not threatened Israel in the past. The Sinai branch of ISIS may wish to directly threaten Israel because Israel and Egypt are cooperating militarily to defeat ABM, the Sinai branch of ISIS. Jerusalem Post and Egypt Independent

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Aug-16 World View -- Venezuela's economic crisis is hitting Cuba hard thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Aug-2016) Permanent Link
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5-Aug-16 World View -- Bank of England uses 'sledgehammer' stimulus to fight Brexit slowdown

China overtaking both Russia and US in influence in Central Asia

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Bank of England uses 'sledgehammer' stimulus to fight Brexit slowdown


Mark Carney on Thursday
Mark Carney on Thursday

It was expected that on Thursday, the Bank of England's governor Mark Carney would announce that the BoE would reduce interest rates from the already low 0.5%, set in 2009 during the financial crisis, to an even lower 0.25%.

Mark Carney, who is a Canadian is currently the Governor of the Bank of England (BoE) did make that exact announcement, but he shocked investors by announcing a lot more. He announced a massive program to "print money" and use it for a quantitative easing program that would purchase about 70 billion pounds ($100 billion) of bonds -- not only government bonds but also corporate bonds.

As we described two days ago, global interest rates have been rapidly plummeting since November of last year, and the average is now at 0.5%, causing a great deal of alarm among many financial experts. Carney said on Thursday that the BoE has no plans to implement negative interest rates, which have been increasingly common in countries around the world, but his announcement nonetheless will push the average down even farther.

The announcements by Mark Carney, who is not a Honeymooner, have received several forms of criticism. Some analysts point out that quantitative easing and low or negative interest rates have been tried around the world and haven't worked so far, although others claim that these policies have allowed the world the recover from the financial crisis. Another criticism is that by purchasing corporate bonds, the BoE will be picking and choosing among companies, giving big advantages to the companies whose bonds are purchased over the companies whose bonds are not purchased. Others say that even if the interest rate change was necessary at this time, the UK economy is in good shape and does not need such a massive quantitative easing purchase.

Carney admitted that he was using "a sledgehammer to crack a nut," and he said that the successful Brexit referendum, which called for Britain to leave the European Union, would cause the economy to slow later this year, and so he was acting pre-emptively:

"We took these steps because the economic outlook has changed markedly. Indicators have all fallen sharply, in most cases to levels last seen in the financial crisis, and in some cases to all-time lows. ...

By acting early and comprehensively, the (Bank) can reduce uncertainty, bolster confidence, blunt the slowdown and support the necessary adjustments in the UK economy."

Whether that's true remains to be seen. By announcing such a massive easing program, investors may decide that the UK economy is in more trouble than they realized, and they may actually lose confidence and make things worse than they currently are.

In fact, Generational Dynamics predicts that exactly that will happen, because the velocity of money keeps plummeting. As I explained in "11-Mar-16 World View -- In desperation move, European Central Bank further lowers negative interest rates", the velocity of money is a generational variable, and a falling velocity of money means that people are afraid to spend money or to go into debt.

Carney's desperation announcement on Thursday also contained provision to attempt to tackle the velocity of money problem, saying that the 0.25% interest rates should make it easy for banks to lend money to people and businesses. He said that banks have "no excuse" not to pass on the lower borrowing costs to customers and will be charged a penalty if they fail to do so. That hasn't worked in Japan and Europe, so don't be surprised if it doesn't work in Britain. BBC and Reuters and Bloomberg

China overtaking both Russia and US in influence in Central Asia

On Thursday, US Secretary of State John Kerry announced at a meeting that the US will providing $15 million in aid five Central Asian countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss projects in the fields of trade, transport, business climate, renewable energy sources, the fight against terrorism, as well as the trafficking of weapons, illicit drugs and people. This follows a similar meeting in Uzbekistan in November 2015.

Russian officials fear that the US is trying with this announcement of $15 million in aid to gain greater influence in Central Asia at Russia's expense. The Central Asian countries were all part of the Soviet Union before it disintegrated in 1991, so Russia considers itself to be the prior influencer of these five nations, and considers the US moves to be suspicious.

But in fact, Russia has much more to fear from China than from the US.

Kazakhstan may already be choosing China over Russia. Most of the routes from China to Europe in China's "New Silk Road" or "One Belt One Road" (OBOR) initiative pass through Kazakhstan, giving China numerous opportunities for investments and influence. In fact, Kazakhstan has already announced the "100 concrete steps" program that incorporate Chinese investments and goals. This includes a railway that crosses the entire territory of Kazakhstan and reaches Iran.

However, one result of China's increasing investments is generation of Sinophobia among the general public. As we reported in May, authorities in Kazakhstan have had to react harshly to widespread demonstrations in cities across the country protesting against "land reforms" that would permit large Chinese agribusinesses to take control of vast swaths of farmland.

However, nowhere has the spread of Chinese influence been greater than in Tajikistan. According to one local commentator,

"[China has] begun to extend its financial influence in various spheres of the [Tajikistani] economy, to buy up industries and to take control of agricultural land, [with the result that] we have become completely dependent on China [and] filled up by Chinese entrepreneurs."

It's thought that there are now 150,000 Chinese working in Tajikistan, even though the government says that the total quotas for foreign workers is only 8,000 a year.

As in Kazakhstan, the Chinese are taking control of huge amounts of farmland in the countryside, where officials are renting an increasing amount of land to Chinese farmers for 49-year terms. Furthermore, when the Chinese hire Tajik laborers, they treat them as "second class" people, and pay them less than they pay Chinese workers. Sputnik News (Moscow) and Diplomat (6-Jul) and Jamestown

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Aug-16 World View -- Bank of England uses 'sledgehammer' stimulus to fight Brexit slowdown thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Aug-2016) Permanent Link
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4-Aug-16 World View -- North Korean missile strikes sea close to Japan, threatening radar base

N. Korean officials reportedly alarmed at Kim Jong-un's drinking and massive weight gain

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

N. Korean officials reportedly alarmed at Kim Jong-un's drinking and massive weight gain


Child dictator Kim Jong-un
Child dictator Kim Jong-un

Reports indicate that North Korea's Intelligence Agency is becoming concerned about the child dictator's weight gain, which has grown from 198 pounds in 2012 to 286. Reports indicate that Kim Jong-un is consuming high-quality cheeses, Big Macs, vodka, steak, and sushi, and that he's suffering from gout, diabetes, high blood pressure, high uric acid, and high cholesterol.

Another South Korean report indicates that North Korean state television showed Kim Jong-un falling asleep at a meeting, apparently because he had been drunk the night before. There are widespread rumors in North Korea that Kim enjoys boozing until late into the night.

Meanwhile, the people of North Korea starve. India Times and Daily Star (London) and Esquire

North Korean missile strikes sea close to Japan, threatening radar base

On Wednesday morning, North Korea launched two ballistic missiles. One missile exploded after launch. A second missile traveled 621 miles and landed in the Sea of Japan, 155 miles from Japan's Oga Peninsula, and was on a straight line to strike a Japanese radar station in Shariki. The latest tests show that North Korea is capable of targeting many of South Korea's areas including harbors and airfields with nuclear missiles.

Going back to the beginning of this year, North Korea made its fourth nuclear bomb test on January 6, followed by a long-range missile test on February 7.

These tests were the triggers that convinced South Korea's government, after years of equivocation, to finally approve the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in South Korea by the end of the year. ( "28-Jul-16 World View -- China, Japan vociferously object to South Korea's THAAD missile system deployment")

North Korea vowed that it would have a "physical response" response to the THAAD announcement. So there was a missile launch on July 7, a submarine-launched missile test on July 8, though they couldn't have been in reaction to the THAAD announcement, which came on July 8. There was another missile test on July 19. Wednesday's test was the first to come close to actually threatening a target on Japanese soil. North Korea has also issued sharp denunciations of the United States decision to list North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un under new sanctions.

However, some analysts are saying that the missile tests are more than just for show, and are more than just a reaction to the THAAD announcement. The missile tests really ARE missile tests, in the process of North Korea's development of new missile technology, which appears to be improving with time.

North Korea issued a new statement on Wednesday reacting to THAAD: "If the monster known as THAAD comes to coil itself in the South's territory, [the land] will transform itself into a nuclear arms race arena that brings in neighboring powers."

According to Chinese state media:

"The launch, already the third missile fired by the DPRK [North Korea] after Washington and Seoul announced their decision on July 8 to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile shield in South Korea, could easily be interpreted as a protest against the planned installation of the system.

It also serves a reminder to policymakers in Seoul that by allowing THAAD deployment, South Korea is putting the cart before the horse in their pursuit of national security, as the key to security lies in good neighborly and friendly relations with its neighbors, rather than a bunch of U.S.-made missiles."

However, that analysis doesn't make sense, as there were missile tests before the THAAD announcement. It's pretty clear that North Korea is going to continue with development of nuclear weapon and missile technology, irrespective anything that South Korea does. Dong-a Ilbo (Seoul) and The Diplomat and UPI and Xinhua

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Aug-16 World View -- North Korean missile strikes sea close to Japan, threatening radar base thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Aug-2016) Permanent Link
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3-Aug-16 World View -- Iran furious at Palestinian meeting with Iran opposition group

Negative interest rates creating increased anxiety

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iran furious at Palestinian meeting with Iran opposition group


Maryam Rajavi's meeting in Paris with Mahmoud Abbas is infuriating Iran (Iran News Update)
Maryam Rajavi's meeting in Paris with Mahmoud Abbas is infuriating Iran (Iran News Update)

On Saturday, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas met in Paris with Maryam Rajavi, leader of the National Council of Resistance to Iran (NCRI).

"President Mahmoud Abbas, at the meeting, reiterated the need to combat fundamentalism and terrorism in the region and informed Mrs. Rajavi of the latest developments in the Middle East, in particular regarding Palestine and France's initiative.

Mrs. Rajavi expressed gratitude for the solidarity of the Palestinian resistance and its leader with the Iranian people and Resistance. She congratulated the Palestinian government on its victories and expressed hope that the goal of the Palestinian people would be achieved. She reiterated that the Iranian regime is the main instigator of sectarian discord, fundamentalism and terrorism in the entire region, in particular in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and Palestine, but she added that today the mullahs' regime is at its weakest and most fragile and vulnerable state. ...

Mrs. Rajavi reiterated that the regime is above all fearful of the solidarity and unity between the Iranian people and Resistance and the countries and nations of the region. Therefore, the countries of the region and the Iranian people and Resistance ought to take the initiative to free the region from the scourge of fundamentalism."

Rajavi has been an enemy of Iran's government for decades -- even before the 1979 revolution -- so nothing that she said was surprising. What was surprising, and what has apparently completely freaked out Iran's government was the cordial meeting between Rajavi and Abbas.

A high Iranian official, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, responded harshly:

"The Palestinians surely regret Mahmoud Abbas’s act of supporting terrorist instead of fighting with it. Mahmoud Abbas’s problem is that he is not focused on restoring the rights of Palestinians.

Supporting terrorists instead of fighting them, not only does not lead to the liberation of Quds [Jerusalem] and weakening the Zionist regime, but also makes the Palestinian nation regret."

Another Iranian official said that Abbas was collaborating with the CIA, which is common fare these days in countries that massacre their own people. According to an advisor to Iran's foreign ministry:

"That man [Abbas] is known to us and documents from the US Embassy in Tehran revealed that he has been a collaborator with the Central Intelligence Agency for a long time and his actions in the past decades have proved that."

Mkhaimar Abusada, a university professor in the Gaza Strip, says that this is all about money:

"The Palestinian Authority has made a decision to align itself with the so-called moderate Sunni Arab governments and in the meantime distance itself from Iran and the Shiite camp in the region, because it does not want to lose political and financial support of [the former]. That’s why the PA and President Mahmoud Abbas met with the Iranian opposition leader."

Abusada is correct. This really is all about the money.

As I've written a number of times in the past, the top leadership in Iran, led by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, are almost completely delusional in many ways.

First, they can't seem to grasp that the younger post-Revolution generations are pro-Western. This was apparent in the early 2000s when young college students were holding massive pro-Western demonstration. Iran's security police bashed, tortured and killed many college students for those protests, but they didn't change opinions. Today, that generation is now 30-40 years old, in positions of power, ready to take over when the old geezer mullahs like Khamenei are gone.

Khamenei and the others are also delusional for believing that they can buy the loyalty of the Palestinians. The Iranians are Shias, and the Palestinians are Sunnis. There isn't a snowflake's chance in hell that the Palestinians would ever remain loyal to Iran. However, Iran for decades has supported both the PA in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza with money and weapons. The PA and Hamas have for decades paid lip service to loyalty to Iran so that the money and weapons would keep coming.

That whole arrangement has been falling apart anyway. When Syria's president Bashar al-Assad in 2011 started conducting extermination campaigns on Sunni civilians, including Palestinians living in refugee camps in Syria, there was the previous close relationship between Hamas and al-Assad was dissolved. And since Iran is supporting al-Assad, there was a big strain on the relationship between Palestinians and Iran.

This game has been going on for five years now, with Iranians paying off the Palestinians like a man might give money and presents to a mistress who treats him with contempt, but she still takes the money.

But this meeting between Rajavi and Abbas may have been a step too far, and may even cause a permanent split between the PA and Iran. This has to come sooner or later, because there's going to be a war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and when the Sunni Palestinians are forced to choose between the two, the Palestinians will be on the side of Saudi Arabia.

It seems that every few days I get a fresh opportunity to point this out: Years ago I wrote, based on a Generational Dynamics analysis, that in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, China, Pakistan, and the Sunni Muslim countries will be one side, and India, Iran, the United States and the West will be on the other side. This meeting between Rajavi and Abbas, and the furious reaction from Iran, is yet another event that moves the world along the predicted trend line. Iran News Update (anti-Iran) and Mehr News (Tehran) and Jerusalem Post

Maryam Rajavi: Leader of the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK or MKO)

Much of Iran's fury at Maryam Rajavi is that she and her husband Massoud are long-time leaders of the terrorist organization Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK or MKO).

MKO was formed in the 1960s in opposition to the government of the Shah of Iran, who was America's ally. MEK was extremely violent, with an ideology that mixed Islamism and Marxism. It conducted numerous terrorist murders of both Iranian government officials and American officials and military in Iran.

MEK supported Iran's Great Islamic Revolution in 1979, helping to replace the Shah with the government of Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini. However, MEK leaders quickly discovered that the Khomeini was actually worse than the Shah's government. In 1981, MEK launched a bombing campaign that killed Iran's president and prime minister. Then, its leadership fled to Europe.

The MEK sided with Iraq in the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s, and helped Saddam Hussein defeat the Kurds as well as the Iranians. Saddam set up an enclave of Iranian MEK supporters in refugee camps in Iraq.

The US in the 1990s declared the MEK to be a terrorist organization, and after the US won the Iraq war in 2003, the US army disarmed the MEK enclaves, and disbursed many of the refugees to Europe. The MEK has become weaker, as its membership has diminished, and in 2012 the US State Dept. removed the MEK from its list of terrorist organizations.

Iran has frequently attacked the MEK refugee camps in Iraq with missiles, and still consider the MEK, and its leaders Massoud and Maryam Rajavi, to be terrorists. Global Security and Tehran Times

Negative interest rates creating increased anxiety


Global sovereign bond yields have plummeted precipitously since November 2015 (Bloomberg)
Global sovereign bond yields have plummeted precipitously since November 2015 (Bloomberg)

If you pay attention to the Pollyannaish mainstream financial media, then you constantly get the picture that the economy is wonderful, and investments will only keep growing. For example, even when the financial crisis occurred in 2007-2010, and millions of people lost their jobs, went bankrupt and lost their homes, the message was always the same that all losses were in the past.

What's surprising these days is that the mainstream financial media are increasingly airing opinions that something is seriously wrong, and that there is a possible financial crisis in the offing. That has been particularly true since the end of 2015, when global sovereign bond yields started dropping like a stone.

Translation: Every country funds its treasury in several ways, and one way is to borrow money from investors by issuing "sovereign bonds." In "normal" times, investors can typically earn 2-10% interest (yield) per year on these bonds, depending on the country and the length of time before the bond will be redeemed. These sovereign bonds are considered to be the gold standard of risk-free investments, since it's believed and expected that every country will honor its obligations and redeem the bonds when they expire, paying their face value, plus the money earned as interest. However, with the recent arrival of negative yields, the country will pay the investor LESS money than the invested in the first place. So, for example, you pay $1,000 for one of these bonds that expires in two years, and two years later the country redeems it for just $990, and you've paid $10 in negative yield.

The chart above shows that sovereign bond yields have been crashing since November of last year. Globally, the average central bank interest rate is now just 0.5%. This is becoming increasingly alarming to many investors. (Paragraph modified, 4-Aug)

Sovereign bonds are supposed to be the safest investments in the world, but according to Bill Gross, one of the best known investors in the world, sovereign bonds are now too risky:

"Sovereign bond yields at record lows aren’t worth the risk and are therefore not top of my shopping list right now; it’s too risky. Low yields mean bonds are especially vulnerable because a small increase can bring a large decline in price."

This was supported by a release from Fitch Ratings:

"This year's dramatic fall in yields on bonds issued by investment grade sovereigns has again raised the risk that a sudden interest rate rise could impose large market losses on fixed-income investors around the world, Fitch Ratings says. A hypothetical rapid reversion of rates to 2011 levels for $37.7 trillion worth of investment-grade sovereign bonds could drive market losses of as much as $3.8 trillion, according to our analysis."

Most people look at the stock market, and think that everything is rosy, but there's a lot going on that isn't reflected in the stock market. In 2007, it was the collapse of the real estate bubble and, more importantly, the disastrous collapse of collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) backed by subprime mortgages. The disaster had already occurred before the stock market started falling.

Bloomberg columnist Lisa Abramowicz on TV on Wednesday commented on the warnings from Bill Gross and Fitch (my transcription):

"There's a high level of concern about how sustainable all of this is - when profits are declining, when you have growth slowing, when you have stimulus efforts that are not working and that are running out of steam -- how long can this last? But at the same time, it's very hard to see what could reverse it. The only thing that people possibly can point to is inflation, or if some country decides not to pay back their debt, or just forgive it, or come up with some kind of engineering that creates a technical problem."

As I've been writing for years, inflation or hyperinflation is not going to happen because the velocity of money keeps plummeting. ( "11-Mar-16 World View -- In desperation move, European Central Bank further lowers negative interest rates")

According to Abramowitz's contacts, the only thing that can stop the current plunge in bond yields is for some country to decide not to pay back their debt -- essentially to declare sovereign bankruptcy. In other words, there's a major financial crisis coming no matter what. Bloomberg and Fitch Ratings

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Aug-16 World View -- Iran furious at Palestinian meeting with Iran opposition group thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Aug-2016) Permanent Link
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2-Aug-16 World View -- Russia uses the 'Grozny Model' to pursue mass slaughter in Aleppo Syria

US military in Libya launches airstrikes against ISIS

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Italy rescues 8,000 migrants in 5 days crossing Mediterranean Sea from Libya


Refugee rescue operation by Marina Militaire (Italian Navy)
Refugee rescue operation by Marina Militaire (Italian Navy)

More than 1,500 migrants were rescued on Sunday off the coast of Libya by Italy's coast guard. That brings to 8,000 the number that were rescued in five days.

The EU-Turkey refugee deal has dramatically decreased the number of migrants traveling from Turkey to Greece across the Aegean Sea, but the flow of migrants from Libya to Italy is still continuing at full speed. Since the beginning of this year, Italy's coast guard has recued 94,000 migrants off the coast of Libya, while 3,000 have died attempting the trip. RTE (Ireland)

US military in Libya launches airstrikes against ISIS

The US military has opened up a new front against the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), this time in Libya. The US is already fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

The airstrikes come at the request of Libya's "Government of National Accord" (GNA).

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, this military action was delayed because Italy, Libya's former colonial power, has always insisted that Libya's government had to approve any Western military action before it could occur. This has been impossible, 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), which has been meeting in Tripoli, but has received only lukewarm support from the government in Tobruk. However, it now appears that the GNA has resolved its internal disputes at least partially, to the extent of permitting the US airstrikes, although there have been previous airstrikes not approved by the GNA.

Monday's attack was the third element, Operation Odyssey Lightning of a three-phase series of operations against ISIS, planned and controlled by the US military's AFRICOM (Africa Command). The first element of this three-phase plan was Operation Odyssey Resolve, consisting of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance flights designed to counter violent extremism in Libya. The second phase, Operation Junction Serpent, provided targeting information. The third phase, which began over the weekend, includes strike aircraft hitting those targets.

Few details were given about future US military plans in Libya, and no end date for the airstrikes was provided. The airstrikes may signal the start of a U.S. broader mission to support the Libyan government. Military Times and Reuters and Long War Journal

Russia uses the 'Grozny Model' to pursue mass slaughter in Aleppo Syria

Russia's air force is bombing hospitals and civilian neighborhoods in Aleppo in order to drive civilians out of the city into refugee camps. Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said that people staying behind will be treated as terrorists:

"We believe that those who remain in the positions occupied by ... terrorists, despite numerous months of calls to leave [the areas], don’t differ much from terrorists."

There are hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, including women and children, living in Aleppo, and no more than a few dozen have been leaving. Russia wants to drive civilians out of Aleppo into refugee camps where they'll be vulnerable to further air strikes. 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 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.

Flattening Aleppo, killing hundreds of thousands of people, and taking control of the ashes of Aleppo would still be an enormous victory for Syria's president Bashar al-Assad who began a genocidal policy of exterminating Sunni Muslims in Syria after they began peaceful demonstrations at the beginning of the "Arab Spring" in 2011.

Fifteen years ago, the United Nations called Grozny, Chechnya, "the most destroyed city on earth." In the aftermath of the destruction of Grozny, Russia rebuilt the city frenetically so that its destruction would be forgotten. But now, Russia apparently plans to make Aleppo the new most destroyed city on earth. Russia Today and Daily Beast and BBC (3-Mar-2007)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Aug-16 World View -- Russia uses the 'Grozny Model' to pursue mass slaughter in Aleppo Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Aug-2016) Permanent Link
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1-Aug-16 World View -- Migrant Indian workers in Saudi Arabia face starvation

India and Saudi Arabia move to warm relations with each other

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Migrant Indian workers in Saudi Arabia face starvation


India's Consulate in Jeddah distributes food to starving migrant workers on Sunday (The Hindu)
India's Consulate in Jeddah distributes food to starving migrant workers on Sunday (The Hindu)

About 10,000 migrant workers from India are starving and living in inhumane conditions in Saudi Arabia because they've received no pay for seven months and are unable to buy food. Many have lost their jobs, while others are continuing to work but are unpaid nonetheless.

Most are construction workers, but many large construction projects have been canceled or cut back by the Saudi government because sharply falling oil prices have caused a financial crisis in the Saudi kingdom.

India's foreign minister Sushma Swaraj issued a statement:

"Large number of Indians have lost their jobs in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The employers have not paid wages, closed down their factories. The number of Indian workers facing food crisis in Saudi Arabia is over ten thousand."

Over the weekend, India's Embassy in Riyadh and its Consulate in Jeddah distributed 15,475 kg of food to Indian migrants in five labor camps in cities across Saudi Arabia over the weekend, to keep them from starving. There are plans to bring thousands of these workers back to India by the end of August.

There are about 3 million Indians living and working in Saudi Arabia, most of them as blue-collar workers.

Separately, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has suspended the rights of Saudi companies to hire Filipino workers. More than 11,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Saudi Arabia have been laid off and are not receiving salaries. Sky News and The Hindu and Manila Bulletin

India and Saudi Arabia move to warm relations with each other

India's Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh will travel to Saudi Arabia to assess this week to assess the severity of the food crisis facing the jobless migrants from India. He'll meet with Saudi officials, and the meetings are expected to be cordial, despite the difficulty of the situation.

Recently, Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud gave India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi a very warm welcome when he came to visit in April. Modi and the Saudis signed five new bilateral agreements to improve relations, covering intelligence sharing on terrorism financing, increasing private investment and enhancing defense cooperation.

India has to juggle several partnerships in the Mideast, including relationships with the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, Iran, and Israel. India receives 58% of its oil imports and 88% of its liquefied natural gas imports from the Mideast. There are 7.3 million migrant Indians working in the region, and they sent over $36 billion in remittances back to their families in India in 2015.

The relationship is important to Saudi Arabia as well. India has huge Muslim populations, both Sunni and Shia, making Saudi Arabia a major tourist attraction. In particular, over 400,000 Indians visit Mecca each year for the Muslim rituals (Hajj and Umrah).

There is also a political reason why Saudi and Indian relations have been warming: Pakistan.

Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are very closely tied together, but the Saudis are still extremely angry at Pakistan's government because Pakistan refused to contribute any troops last year to the Saudi war against the Houthis in Yemen. So for the Saudis, a relationship with India is a way of saying to Pakistan that they're not the only dance partner.

India has been at war with Pakistan several times in the last 50 years, and tensions are very high in the disputed border regions. ( "21-Jul-16 World View -- India-Pakistan tensions grow over Kashmir issue") So for India, a relationship with the Saudis is a way of telling the Pakistanis that perhaps they can't count on Saudi support after all.

There are some similar issues with Iran, but in reverse. India and Iran have very close relations, while Saudi Arabia and Iran were close to war earlier this year. ( "4-Jan-16 World View -- Saudi Arabia cuts diplomatic ties with Iran as violent Shia protests spread around region")

Regular readers know that warm relations between Saudi Arabia and India are counter-trend, as Generational Dynamics predicts that in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, China, Pakistan, and the Sunni Muslim countries will be one side, and India, Iran, the United States and the West will be on the other side. ( "15-Jul-2015 World View -- Arab views of Iran nuclear deal") So the warm Saudi-India relationship will not continue.

Readers who find this confusing should recall that Germany and Britain were close trading partners up until World War II began. Also, Russia and the US were enemies before and after WW II, but were allies during the war. The way to understand this is that during "normal" times, politicians can make whatever policies they want, even total nonsense policies. But during a generational crisis war like WW II, when the nation and its way of life are facing existential threats, then policies must be chosen that guarantee the survival of the nation, even if it means reversing every policy that prevailed before the war. Indian Express and Al Monitor (3-Apr) and Brookings (1-Apr)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Aug-16 World View -- Migrant Indian workers in Saudi Arabia face starvation thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Aug-2016) Permanent Link
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31-Jul-16 World View -- Philippines president Duterte cancels 'ceasefire' with Communist Party

FBI investigates alleged Russian hacking of Democrats' servers

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Philippines president Duterte cancels 'ceasefire' with Communist Party


Duterte meets with the Maoist New People's Army on April 26, prior to being elected president (Minda News)
Duterte meets with the Maoist New People's Army on April 26, prior to being elected president (Minda News)

Philippines President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Saturday announced that he was canceling a unilateral ceasefire with a Maoist terror group, the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People's Army (CPP-NPA). The New People's Army is the military arm of the CPP, though in actuality they're a single organization.

During the campaign, Duterte had promised that he would arrange a peace deal with the CPP-NPA, which had been conducting terror attacks for close to 50 years, and is considered to be the longest-running Maoist insurgency in the world. Ironically, the CPP was a long-time supported of Duterte for years when he was mayor of Davao City, believing that he supported their goal of installing a left-wing government in Manila.

Duterte announced a unilateral ceasefire with the CPP-NPA on Monday, July 25, but it lasted less than a week. Two days later, on Wednesday, the NPA ambushed an armed forces unit that was heading back to camp in accordance with the ceasefire, killing one soldier and injuring four others. On Friday, Duterte declared that unless CPP-NPA leaders implemented their own ceasefire by 5 pm on Saturday, he would cancel the unilateral ceasefire, and that's what happened. Philippine Daily Inquirer and MindaNews (Mindanao) and CNN Philippines and Sun Star (Davao City, 16-May-2016)

Generational history of the Philippines and the CPP-NPA

The Communist Party of the Philippines was formed in 1968, at the height of the generational Awakening era and of anti-government student protests in many countries, including the United States, France, Germany, and others. A pro-Maoist activist named José María Canlás Sison began the movement with the goal of removing from power the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and of removing the influence of "American imperialism" and "Japanese imperialism" from the country. Japan and the Philippines had been enemies in World War II.

Violence and repression by Marcos' thugs aided the growth of the CPP-NPA, reaching about 10,000 members at its peak, and was supported by weapons, money and training from China's government. However, in 1976 the Philippines and China governments normalized relations, aided by the memory that they had both been invaded and occupied by the Japanese. The result for the CPP-NPA was that the Chinese cut off relations with them.

The Awakening era climax for the Philippines occurred after the 1986 elections, in which the presidency was won by the Corazon Aquino, widow of a popular oppositional senator who had been assassinated by Marcos' thugs. Marcos himself was forced to flee the country, and lived in exile in Hawaii until his death in 1989.

The defeat of Marcos, who had been dictator for 21 years, was considered by many to be a victory of the CPP-NPA. After that victory, the CPP-NPA began to lose its purpose, and turned against itself, with thousands of its members being killed by other members.

Today, it's estimated that there are still about 4,000 members of the CPP-NPA. Although the organization doesn't have anything like the power it had during the reign of Marcos, it can still pull off terrorist attacks to remind everyone that it's still around.

Sison, the founder of the group, still directs it at age 77, but has lived in exile in the Netherlands for many years. Stanford University and Socialism.com (2005) and Jacobin Magazine (Aug-2015)

FBI investigates alleged Russian hacking of Democrats' servers

According to reports, the FBI is investigating hacking and cyber attacks against servers run by several different Democratic Party servers, and that Russia's government is suspected, allegedly to help Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Several different hacking attacks have been alleged, including attacks on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and earlier servers controlled by Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton.

Speaking as a computer industry professional and senior software engineer, several things about this story are fishy.

First, the idea that Vladimir Putin ordered the hacking of the Democratic Party servers, and then ordered the release of thousands of hacked e-mail messages through "WikiLeaks," because he believed that doing so would help Trump is bizarre. He would be well aware that any such move had a good chance of backfiring, and could trigger sympathy for Clinton, especially by releasing e-mail messages through WikiLeaks.

The main issue is that no self-respecting "hacker" would attack the Democratic Party servers without also attacking the Republican Party servers. Even if we assume that Putin ordered the hacking he would certainly have ordered the hacking of both.

So we have to assume that the Republican Party servers were attacked as well. Why haven't there been any releases of these e-mail messages? There are two possibilities:

Corporate hacking has become extremely widespread -- by the Russians, the Chinese, and by private organizations.

The hacking of Democratic Party networks should remind everyone of the need for encrypting data on servers. I've seen myself that corporations don't want to take the time to protect their servers, since encrypting information doesn't create sales. ( "10-Mar-16 World View -- Hackers steal thousands of employee W-2 tax documents from Seagate Inc.")

As I've said repeatedly in the past, if you have responsibility for a corporate database containing such things as names, addresses, social security numbers, medical information, and so forth, then put other things on hold and immediately launch a project to encrypt each critical data element, even it means losing a few sales. Reuters and NBC News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-Jul-16 World View -- Philippines president Duterte cancels 'ceasefire' with Communist Party thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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30-Jul-16 World View -- Fearing more Brexit-like votes, EU abandons fiscal rules for Spain, Portugal, Italy

Earnings fall, but central bank liquidity floods markets, pushing up stocks

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Portugal and Spain will not be fined for breaching deficit rules


Dutch Finance Minister and Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem makes a face during a European Union finance ministers meeting in Brussels on July 12 (Reuters)
Dutch Finance Minister and Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem makes a face during a European Union finance ministers meeting in Brussels on July 12 (Reuters)

The European Commission, supported by the Eurogroup of individual nations' finance ministers, has chosen to cancel fines that Spain and Portugal owed for breaching EU fiscal rules requiring that their deficit be lower than 3% of GDP. The budget deficits of both countries are considered excessive under EU rules. Spain and Portugal’s deficits last year hit 5.1 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively.

Markus Ferber, a German member of the European Parliament said "this is not only disappointing, but it destroys the confidence and credibility of our rules — it is a bad day for our common currency."

Pierre Moscovici, a French politician and currently the European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said "This proves that we can be at the same time credible and understanding. It’s not the end of the story. We will have to see what [Spain and Portugal’s] draft budgetary plans are for 2017. So credibility is fully there."

France is the next country in line for close scrutiny by the European Commission, with budget plans due by October 15. In the past, France has been accused of receiving preferential treatment. Earlier this year, Jean-Claude Jüncker suggested that France should not face punitive action for its inability to meet EU expectations, "because it is France."

This love-fest for France was criticized by Ferber, who said: "I don’t like Jüncker’s comments on France. The country is performing badly and will have to see the same treatment. Nothing in the rules allows for the differentiation of member states."

According to one analyst: "This will strike some as a negative in terms of credibility, but the enforcement of the fiscal compact has always been political in nature, and the decision is a pragmatic one. Europe doesn’t need another crisis to deal with right now. Amid the migrant crisis, the terrorist threat, the Brexit vote, and rising populism, it doesn’t need a conflict over fiscal rules as well."

In fact, this is clearly a case of "kicking the can down the road," something we saw repeatedly in Greece's financial crisis which, incidentally, is still far from being resolved. Spain and Portugal are now going to be set new deadlines and required to follow austerity rules that they've failed to follow in the past. Reuters and Politico (EU) and Fitch Ratings

Italy's Monte Paschi bank gets 5 billion euro bailout from other banks

As expected, Italy's third-largest bank, Banco Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), founded in 1472, and the world's oldest operating bank, failed the European Central Bank (ECB) "stress tests," whose results were scheduled for release on Friday. ( "5-Jul-16 World View -- Italy bank crisis more dangerous to EU than Brexit")

Not only did MPS fail, it got by far the lowest score of all 51 European banks tested. The purpose of the "stress tests" is to examine the bank's liabilities and assets, including bad loans, to determine whether the bank could survive a recession. With $55.2 billion in bad loans, MPS was never going to come close to passing the stress test.

After failing the stress test, ECB rules require MPS to lower its portfolio of bad loans, and selling the bad loans to a third party would only get 20% of face value, and this would require a major bank bailout.

As we described in the previous article, there are two ways that MPS could get a bailout:

On Friday, MPS found another way to get a bailout, while still staying within ECB rules. MPS will be bailed out by other banks, who will lend MPS 5 billion euros.

The banks being named are: Santander, Goldman Sachs, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and Bank of America. The deal will require MPS to sell off 27 billion euros of the bank’s bad debt, repackaged into securities worth a much smaller amount, 9.2 billion euros.

The bailout plan will give MPS 5 billion euros on which to survive, but this is the third such loan in two years, and MPS has already burned through 8 billion euros from the two previous bailouts.

So, once again, it's been necessary to "kick the can down the road," until the next episode of the crisis. Reuters and Politico (EU)

Earnings fall, but central bank liquidity floods markets, pushing up stocks

We truly live in magical times. Earnings have been falling, but the stock market keeps going up. It's as if the law of gravity has been repealed. Or perhaps the alchemists have finally found a way to turn lead into gold.


S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio at 25.03 on July 29, indicating a huge and growing stock market bubble (WSJ)
S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio at 25.03 on July 29, indicating a huge and growing stock market bubble (WSJ)

Let's start, as I often do, with price/earnings ratios, also called stock valuations.

According to Friday's Wall Street Journal, the S&P 500 Price/Earnings index (stock valuations index) on Friday morning (July 29) was at an astronomically high 25.03. 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.

The last time I wrote about this, the P/E ratio was a mere 24.23. That astronomically high number has now shot up to 25.03. That's because stock prices have been staying steady or going up, while earnings have been falling so that the ratio (price/earnings) goes up.

Why are stock prices going up? It's because central banks around the world are "printing money" through quantitative easing (QE) at huge tsunami rates.

According to Deutsche Bank, the European Central Bank (ECB) and Bank of Japan (BOJ) are together buying around $180 billion of assets a month.

And that's not the end. The ECB is expected to increase its QE to $110 billion, and the BOJ is expected to increase its QE program to $80 billion. The Bank of England (BoE) is expected to reactivate its QE program, and supply $197 billion more QE.

It's mind-boggling beyond anything in history. There's never been anything like it. It's a credit bubble of such enormous size that it's impossible to predict the enormity of the disaster that will ensue when it finally implodes -- which it certainly will.

Here's a quote from someone on tv described as a "tenured university professor of economics at University of Maryland." It's one the stupidest things I've ever heard, so I transcribed it:

"Companies are learning how to use capital much more effectively. So central banks may have printed a lot of money, they are using money more efficiently, which lowers the price of capital, and essentially raises P/E ratios. We are now trading at about the 25 year average, but the long-term average the moving average over time is trending up. My feeling is that we could be looking at P/E ratios that are stable at 30 or 35 long-term. The average historically is 25, and that's where we are now."

Since I hear stupid things all the time on financial news channels, let's pull this apart for educational purposes.

First, the P/E ratio now is around 25, but historically it's around 14, not 25. You'd think a "tenured professor of economics" would have a clue about that.

Next, a P/E ratio is not stable at 25, and will certainly never be stable at 30-35. So let's explain what's going on here, and why the tenured professor is so confused.

The P/E ratio is actually the reciprocal of a low-risk investment yield or interest rate. That is, the historical value of the P/E ratio is 14, and its reciprocal is earnings/price, which is historically around 1/14, or around 7%. This value, 7%, seems to be some sort of natural constant, the natural value that investments pay in "normal" times. That's why, in the decades after World War II, you had investments that paid around 7%, and you had mortgage rates around 7%. Savings accounts paid a little less, because banks had to make money, and government bonds paid a little less, because they were considered as safe as cash.

So now you have a P/E ratio around 25, which corresponds to a 4% investment yield, and is far below the "natural" value of 7%, but is possible because bond yields are now close to zero or are negative in many parts of the world. At such low yields, an average investor (without access to the huge floods of government money) is not willing to invest his money. That's one reason why investments are so low today. Who wants to invest in a shoe factory, if the most you can get is 4%, and you could lose everything if the shoe factory fails?

So the tenured university economics professor says that he thinks the P/E ratio will stabilize around 30-35, pushing the investment yield down to 3%. That would only happen if much more of the world's government bonds go to negative interest rates, and that can't continue forever, meaning that a 30-35 P/E ratio is far from stable.

So this really is truly a magical, marvelous time to be alive. Enjoy it while it lasts, Dear Reader. Reuters and MarketWatch

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Jul-16 World View -- Fearing more Brexit-like votes, EU abandons fiscal rules for Spain, Portugal, Italy thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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29-Jul-16 World View -- Syria's Al-Nusra splits with al-Qaeda, becoming Jabhat Fateh al-Sham

Al-Nusra may have learned lessons from failures of ISIS and al-Qaeda in Iraq

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Syria's Al-Nusra splits with al-Qaeda, becoming Jabhat Fateh al-Sham


Abu Muhammad al-Jolani, the smiling terrorist leader of Jabhat al-Nusra
Abu Muhammad al-Jolani, the smiling terrorist leader of Jabhat al-Nusra

Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front), al-Qaeda's branch in Syria, announced on Thursday that it is no longer affiliated with al-Qaeda, and was no longer under the command of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

The group's leader, Abu Mohamad al-Jolani, announced that the group was changing its name to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (Front for the Conquest of Syria):

"We have stopped operating under the name of Nusra Front and formed a new body ... This new formation has no ties with any foreign party.

[The change is intended] to remove the excuse used by the international community – spearheaded by America and Russia – to bombard and displace Muslims in the Levant: that they are targeting the Nusra Front, which is associated with al-Qaida.

This new organization aims ... to serve the Muslims, attend to their daily needs and ease the hardships in every possible way, [and to] unite the people of [Syria and] ensure security, stability, and a dignified life for the people."

However, al-Jolani said he remained committed to implementing Islamic law, and gave no indication that it was no longer a terrorist group. Indeed, the U.S. immediately said that it would still consider the group, under its new name, to be a terrorist group, with the implication that targets associated with the group would still be bombed.

The split with al-Qaeda was apparently friendly, suggesting that the split may be part of a larger plan. In an audio message, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri said:

"You can sacrifice without hesitation these organizational and party ties if they conflict with your unity and working as one body.

"The brotherhood of Islam among us is stronger than any organizational affiliation ... Your unity and unification is more important to us than any organizational link."

Anadolu (Ankara) and Reuters and Guardian (London)

Al-Nusra may have learned lessons from failures of ISIS and al-Qaeda in Iraq

Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) led by Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was defeated in the aftermath of the Iraq war, first by an American drone strike that killed al-Zarqawi, and later by president George Bush's "surge" strategy that turned Iraqi Sunnis against AQI. (See "Iraqi Sunnis are turning against al-Qaeda in Iraq" from 2007.)

The genocidal campaign of extermination against Syrian Sunnis by Syria's president Bashar al-Assad drew tens of thousands of young jihadists from all over the world for the fight against al-Assad, leading to the creation of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) in Syria, and then its spectacular success in taking control of large regions of both Syria and Iraq. But now, president Barack Obama's bombing coalition strategy, in cooperation with Kurdish and Shia Muslim fighters, has drastically reduced the regions under ISIS control, and raised hope that ISIS is being defeated.

This is the context in which the al-Nusra - al-Qaeda split must be viewed. Both AQI and ISIS imposed harsh Sharia law on the people that they governed, and tortured, killed or raped anyone who didn't comply. It should not be a surprise to anyone that no government of that sort is going to be popular, and indeed both AQI and ISIS lost control when their own constituents turned against them. In the end, even dictators and terrorists must eventually have do what the people want.

Reports all along have indicated that al-Nusra was torn between following a harsh Sharia model versus following a more moderate model of governing. There was a big group of al-Nusra officials who wanted to follow the harsh Sharia model, but there have also been a number of "moderate" anti-Assad, anti-ISIS groups in Syria who have strongly urged a split. The strongest opponent of a link to al-Qaeda was a key ally, Ahrar al-Sham, and maintaining a good relation with this and other allies was essential for the success of al-Nusra.

Thus, the break with al-Qaeda can be thought of in either of two ways. First, it's a sign that al-Nusra has abandoned the harsh Sharia model of governing, and so will be able to ally and possibly merge with other anti-Assad opposition groups, and become the leader of all of these groups, replacing ISIS as the largest and most powerful Salafist anti-Assad opposition group in Syria.

The other way to look at it is that it's all a façade, that the amicable split between al-Nusra and al-Qaeda had the purpose of putting a more friendly face on al-Nusra, and that al-Nusra is still allied with al-Qaeda, but not publicly.

It's possible that both of these are true, and that the new Jabhat Fateh al-Sham will have the best of two worlds -- tacit support from al-Qaeda, but with a more moderate face to the outside world and to the other anti-Assad and anti-ISIS factions.

There's another advantage, according to Brookings analyst Charles Lister:

"Perhaps more significantly, this latest development has also made it entirely feasible that regional states, notably Qatar and Turkey, could now attempt to provide direct material support to the group. Turkey in particular is likely to use the argument that, having announced a severing of its ties to al-Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham is as legitimate a partner as Washington’s preferred [anti-ISIS] ally, the Kurdish YPG."

This is a good time to recall the Generational Dynamics prediction for where things are going and where the trend lines are, since there seems to be a new event every week or two that moves us along that trend line. As I've been writing for years, Generational Dynamics predicts that in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, China, Pakistan, and the Sunni Muslim countries will be one side, and India, Iran, the United States and the West will be on the other side. ( "15-Jul-2015 World View -- Arab views of Iran nuclear deal")

Once again, we have a major new event that moves us along this trend line. Over the past few years, we've seen events that move the US closer to Iran and Russia, and we've seen the increasing alienation of relations between the US and countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Even in the last few days, we see a possible major split between the US and Turkey, with Turkey claiming that exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen worked with the CIA to launch the recent attempted coup d'état, and claiming further that any further delay in extraditing Gulen to Turkey will be proof of American complicity.

Despite reports that ISIS was being funded by Turkey and Saudi Arabia, ISIS has always been and will be too dangerous to the governments of both those countries. But the new Jabhat Fateh al-Sham could very well turn out to be the key that unites a wider group of Sunni Arabs against al-Assad, Iran, Russia, and eventually against the United States, moving the Mideast even further along the trend line. CS Monitor and Foreign Policy and Press TV (Tehran)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Jul-16 World View -- Syria's Al-Nusra splits with al-Qaeda, becoming Jabhat Fateh al-Sham thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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28-Jul-16 World View -- China, Japan vociferously object to South Korea's THAAD missile system deployment

South Korea's fears of an attack from North Korea

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China and Russia vociferously hostile to South Korea's THAAD deployment


Residents of Seongju, where Thaad is to be deployed, conducting anti-Thaad protests in Seoul (Korea Times)
Residents of Seongju, where Thaad is to be deployed, conducting anti-Thaad protests in Seoul (Korea Times)

Earlier this month, the US and South Korea announced the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in South Korea by the end of the year. It's considered to be the most advance anti-missile system available anywhere today because it can blast incoming missiles out of the sky with 100% success rate.

It's part of the Obama administration's policy of "Pivot To Asia." Its purpose is to provide both South Korea and Japan with a defense to increasing threats from North Korea of missile attacks, both conventional and nuclear.

Despite request from the US for years, South Korea had resisted deployment of the Thaad system for years, for fear of angering the Chinese. What finally triggered the change of mind was North Korea's fourth nuclear bomb test on January 6, followed by a long-range missile test on February 7.

North Korea immediately said it would retaliate against South Korea, threatening to launch a retaliatory strike against the THAAD deployment by turning the South "into a sea of fire and a pile of ashes." It then conducted more tests, launching three missiles into the sea off the east coast of the Korean peninsula.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said that the Thaad deployment would escalate tensions in the region:

"Such actions, no matter how they are explained, very negatively affect global strategic security, adherence to which is so often discussed by Washington. They may also result in escalation of tensions in the region, new difficulties for resolving acute problems of the Korean Peninsula, including the task of its denuclearization."

China compares the deployment of Thaad in South Korea to the deployment of nuclear missiles in Cuba in 1962. According to China's state media:

"If Seoul believes that Washington's missile shield could effectively deter the threats from the North, it is making a strategic mistake.

The truth is that the United States does not care about whether South Korea is safe or not. What it truly wants is an anti-missile system that could guarantee America's military supremacy in the Asia-Pacific and beyond.

After the United States deployed four THAAD ... systems on its own soil and installed two X-Band radars in Japan, South Korea is now the missing piece. That's why Washington has relentlessly tried to get THAAD into South Korea since 2012.

Once letting THAAD in, Seoul will become one of Washington's handy tools, losing its autonomy in crafting and executing an independent foreign policy."

China's military said that it will take "necessary measures" to respond to Thaad, without disclosing what those measures are. Business Insider and VOA and Xinhua (Beijing) and Tass (Moscow) and The Hankyoreh (Seoul)

South Korea's fears of an attack from North Korea

On March 26, 2010, the South Korean warship Cheonan was sunk by an explosion. (See "21-May-10 News -- S. Korea accuses N. Korea of sinking warship") Then, on November 23 of the same year, the North Korean military launched dozens of artillery shells on South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island, killing four people, including two civilians. ( "24-Nov-10 News -- South Korean civilians shelled by North Koreans")

Both of these incidents were acts of war on the part of North Korea, though South Korea never retaliated, but instead allowed the situation to cool down. But with subsequent nuclear tests and long-range missile tests, many South Koreans believe that the North is just waiting for the appropriate time for a full-scale attack on the south, starting with the extremely vulnerable capital city Seoul, which is only a few miles from the DMZ (the demilitarized zone, separating North and South Korea).

Last year, South Korean media reported that a defector who used to serve in a senior position in the North Korean military revealed that in August 2012, South Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un approved a plan for a 7-day asymmetric war against the South, and that Kim has been implementing the plan since then.

The objective is that the North would occupy the entire South Korean territory within seven days, before United States reinforcements could arrive. It also contains a plan to conclude the war within 15 days at most if the North cannot end the war within a week due to resistance by the South and U.S. Forces Korea.

The report lists the following "asymmetric capabilities" that the North would use against the South:

According to a South Korean intelligence official:

"The North did thorough analyses of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It concluded that it won’t have a chance if a war drags on. To end it quickly, Pyongyang reached a decision that asymmetric warfare is the only answer, despite the pressures and condemnations of the international community."

JoongAng Ilbo (Seoul, 8-Jan-2015)

Problems, issues and capabilities surrounding the Thaad system

On Tuesday, South Korea deported two Korean-American activists on after they tried to enter the country for a "peace tour" that would have seen them take part in anti-Thaad protests.

Anti-Thaad protests have been increasing in South Korea, particularly among residents of Seongju, a rural county about 180 miles from Seoul, which is where the Thaad system is to be deployed. Residents feared harmful radiation that could be emitted from the Thaad's electromagnetic radar waves. In order to defuse these protests, the US military personnel invited South Korean reporters to Guam to inspect a Thaad installation that was already installed, similar to the one being planned for Seongju county. US personnel showed that the radiation levels were far below those permitted by law.

This didn't satisfy the residents of Seongju, however, as they pelted the car of prime minister Hwang Kyo-ahn with eggs during his visit to the town and left him stranded in his car for hours.

Other protesters simply claimed that the Thaad deployment would not protect the South from an attack by the North. An in-depth analysis by the U.S.-Korea Institute (38North) at Johns Hopkins University shows that a Thaad deployment, combined with an upgrade of South Korea's existing Patriot anti-missile system, could protect all of South Korea from North Korean missiles:

"The THAAD system intercepts incoming short, medium and intermediate range ballistic missiles above the atmosphere—exoatmospheric intercept—providing an upper-tier layer of defense when operating in conjunction with the lower-tier Patriots. THAAD consists of five primary components: interceptor missiles, launch canisters, AN/TPY-2 phased array radar, a fire-control unit, and support equipment—including a power-generation and cooling units. These can detect and track targets at a range of about 1000 km—assuming the target has a radar-cross section of about 1 m2."

However, it isn't 100% effective, and a nuclear missile could still pass through, causing many casualties. Hankyoreh (Seoul) and UPI and 38 North (10-Mar-2016) and Lockheed Martin

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Jul-16 World View -- China, Japan vociferously object to South Korea's THAAD missile system deployment thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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27-Jul-16 World View -- France's François Hollande declares war on ISIS after terror attack kills priest

ASEAN and Arab League in chaos as they fail to deal with existential issues

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Arab League in chaos as it fails to address Arab existential threats


27th Arab League Summit opened on Monday in Mauritania in a large tent
27th Arab League Summit opened on Monday in Mauritania in a large tent

The Arab League summit meeting was supposed to take place in Marrakesh in Morocco on March 27, but at the last minute Morocco refused to host the meeting, saying in a statement:

"Amid the lack of important decisions and concrete initiatives to submit to the heads of states, this summit will be just another occasion to approve ordinary resolutions and to pronounce speeches that give a false impression of unity.

Arab leaders cannot confine themselves, once more, to simply analyzing the bitter situation of divergences and divisions without giving decisive responses."

Finally, Mauritania agreed to host the meeting in the capital city Nouakchott. However, this is a small Arab country that rarely hosts conventions, so the summit meeting was held in a big tent.

It was supposed to be a meeting of the leaders of all 22 members, but only a handful of leaders showed up. Egypt's president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, declined to go, reportedly because he feared an assassination attempt. Saudi Arabia's king Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud declined to attend allegedly for health reasons. Other no-shows included the leaders of Tunisia, Jordan, Algeria, and the Palestinian Authority.

There were pressing issues for the Arab League summit to discuss -- the rise of ISIS, conflict in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya, sectarian conflicts between Shias and Sunnis, for example -- but none of those were given serious deliberation.

In the last few years, millions of Arabs have lost their homes, become displaced and become refugees, while hundreds of thousands of others have been killed. Arab lands have been wracked by bombs, missiles, terrorism, even Sarin gas, and the Arab League is completely unable to cope.

There was one hot issue worth mentioning: Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki called on the Arab League to help prepare a legal file to sue Britain's government for issuing the Balfour Declaration in 1917. (See "10-May-16 World View -- Arab countries seek to overturn the century old Sykes-Picot agreement") The Balfour Declaration was an early document justifying the creation of the state of Israel in 1947.

Beyond that, there were some discussions about free-trade zones and such, but the existential questions affecting pan-Arab security were avoided.

So what's the point of the Arab League? Al-Arabiya (27-Mar) and Gulf News and Brookings and Jerusalem Post

ASEAN in chaos as it fails to address South China Sea threats

China scored a major diplomatic victory on Monday when the ten nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) published a communiqué that contained only a very watered-down statement of what is by far the biggest issue facing ASEAN: The approaching conflict in the South China Sea.

Several nations wanted the communiqué to mention the recent ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague that eviscerated China's legal justifications for using military force to annex regions of the South China Sea that had historically belonged to other nations. In one part of the ruling, the Tribunal concluded that China was illegal building an artificial island in part of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Philippines, and was deliberately taking actions that put the lives of Philippines' fishermen in danger. ( "13-Jul-16 World View -- Philippines humiliates China in harsh Hague Tribunal ruling over South China Sea")

However Cambodia, a close ally of China, was able to block any mention at all of the Tribunal ruling. According to analysts, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and to some extent Myanmar (Burma) are becoming increasingly dependent economically on China, and don't wish to undermine their bilateral relationships with China.

Acceding to China's demands, the final ASEAN communiqué said only the following:

"We remain seriously concerned about recent and ongoing developments and took note of the concerns expressed by some ministers on the land reclamations and escalation of activities in the area, which have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and may undermine peace, security and stability in the region."

China issued a statement thanking Cambodia, and saying, "Cambodia's position was the right one and it would safeguard the unity of ASEAN and cooperation with China."

So the same question is asked of ASEAN as with the Arab League. What's the point of ASEAN? What's the point of the Arab League?

The same could be asked of the United Nations. There are major crises in Ukraine, Syria, and elsewhere, and the United Nations is completely helpless to do anything about them. Like the League of Nations that it replaced, in many ways it's become just a debating club. What's the point of the United Nations? BBC and Telegraph (London) and Reuters

France's François Hollande declares war on ISIS after terror attack kills priest

Two attackers slit the throat of and killed an 85-year-old priest celebrating Mass in a Catholic church in France in the small northwestern town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen. The attackers gravely injured one of the worshippers present, and then made a video of themselves giving "a sermon in Arabic" in front of the altar. The police shot both attackers dead.

As usual, the Amaq News Agency, the public relations agency for the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), rushed to claim credit, saying, "The perpetrators of the Normandy church attack are soldiers of the Islamic State who carried out the attack in response to calls to target countries of the Crusader coalition."

This attack followed several terror attacks in France in recent months, as well as four attacks in the last week in Germany. ( "26-Jul-16 World View -- People in Germany are reeling after a week of violence")

France's president François Hollande has used relatively mild rhetoric in the past, but now, under pressure from opposition political parties, Hollande declared war on ISIS:

"Our country is at war. We are at war externally, in Syria and Iraq, and internally, against radicalization, against individual jihadists. [We are] eradicating the criminal networks, and we will continue.

I also owe you the truth - this war will be long. What it’s aimed at is our democracy. Our democracy is the target and it will be our strength, because our unity is our strength. It’s with perseverance that we will succeed. In that way we will be able to win the war against fanaticism and pain, and we will win this war."

As usual, politicians around the world condemned the attack in strongest terms. AP and EU Observer

Turkey fears that Gulen will flee the United States

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to blame Fethullah Gulen, the 76-year-old Turkish Muslim cleric exiled to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania, for the failed July 15 anti-government coup. ( "22-Jul-16 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan gives himself dictatorial powers, moving Turkey away from the West")

Turkey has filed a request for the US to extradite Gulen to Turkey. An American court would have to make the decision to extradite Gulen to Turkey, and that would require firm evidence that Gulen was actually involved in the coup, something that seems unlikely to be provided.

Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag says that "intelligence" shows that Gulen is planning to flee the United States "at any moment" to a country with no extradition treaty with Turkey. "We think that he is searching for countries to run to, he has chosen some countries," he said, identifying Egypt, Mexico, Canada, Australia and South Africa as places where he could seek refuge. Anadolu (Ankara) and Russia Today

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Jul-16 World View -- France's François Hollande declares war on ISIS after terror attack kills priest thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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26-Jul-16 World View -- People in Germany are reeling after a week of violence

Germany's Der Spiegel asks: Is this the Apocalypse Now?

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

ISIS takes credit for terror attack in Ansbach, southern Germany


Germany's week of violence (CNN)
Germany's week of violence (CNN)

The Amaq News Agency, the public relations arm of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) has taken credit for the terror attack in Ansbach, southern Germany, on Sunday evening, saying that the attack was carried out by "one of the soldiers of the Islamic State."

The ISIS public relations statement was issued after the police searched the mobile phone of the perpetrator, known only as "Mohammed D", and found a video declaring loyalty to ISIS and announcing a "revenge act against Germans because they are standing in the way of Islam." However, it's believed that Mohammed D was a "lone wolf" inspired by ISIS, but unknown to ISIS prior to the attack.

Mohammed D exploded a bomb on Sunday evening outside a large music festival in Ansbach, injuring 15 people. He was prevented from entering the music festival by police since he didn't have a ticket. There was heavy security at the festival because of three previous violent attacks in Germany during the week.

Mohammed D was a 27-year-old Syrian national who had arrived in Bulgaria in 2013, and was granted refugee status by Bulgaria in September 2013. He left Bulgaria in mid-2014, and came to Germany, where he applied for protection, which was denied. He received deportation warnings from Germany between December 2014 and July of this year, threatening to deport him back to Bulgaria, although it's unclear whether Bulgaria would have accepted him.

Mohammed D had spent time living in a mental care facility and had twice attempted suicide, but failed. On Sunday, he was successful. Deutsche Welle and BBC and Novinite (Sofia Bulgaria)

Germans in a state of shock after four violent attacks in one week

Until this summer, Germany had been largely untouched by the wave of terror that hit France and Belgium in recent years. But now, the attack in Ansbach was the fourth violent attack in a week, and Germans are becoming increasingly anxious. Many are blaming Chancellor Angela Merkel for permitting close to a million refugees to enter Germany last year.

On Monday, July 18, a teenage Afghan refugee hacked at passengers on a train in Würzburg with an axe and knife, wounding five. He was shot dead by police. ISIS claimed credit for the attack.

On Friday, July 22, a German-born teenager of Iranian descent shot dead nine people in Munich before shooting himself dead. According to police, gunman David Ali Sonboly was inspired by other mass shootings that had no political motivation, such as a school massacre carried out by 17-year-old Tim Kretschmer in Baden-Württemberg in 2009. It would be surprising if someone whose heritage is Iran, which is a Shia Muslim country, were inspired by ISIS or al-Qaeda, which are Sunni Muslim terrorist groups.

On Sunday, July 24 in Reutlingen, a few hours before the Ansbach attack, a 21-year-old Syrian refugee took a long knife from the kebab shop where he worked, and used to kill a 45-year-old woman whom he had claimed to be "in love" with. Some unconfirmed reports indicate that the woman was pregnant. Five others were injured as well. A witness hit the attacker with his car, knocking the man to the ground so that police were able to arrest him seven minutes after the first attack. The attacker was previously known to the police for assault and drug offenses.

There's a thread of mental instability that runs through these attacks. The Ansbach attacker had spent time in a mental care facility, and had previously attempted suicide twice, as we mentioned above. David Ali Sonboly carried out his attack on the fifth anniversary of the 77 murders by far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik in Norway in 2011. The Reutlingen attack was apparently related to an affair with a woman.

This has led some people to suggest that these attacks would all have occurred anyway even without being "inspired" by ISIS, in the same way that one public murder can lead to copycat murders.

Nonetheless, pressure is growing on Angela Merkel to revise her policies on refugees. Her political allies point out that these attacks were not directed by ISIS, but only claimed by ISIS after they occurred. Her political enemies are blaming the attacks directly on her policies. Germans will go to the polls about a year from now, and Merkel has not yet announced whether she plans to run for a fourth term. The Local (Germany) and Deutsche Welle and BBC and The Local (Germany)

Knife-wielding massacre near Tokyo Japan kills 19

In one of the worst mass attacks that Japan has seen, a man wielding a knife went on a stabbing rampage in a care facility near Tokyo for people with disabilities, killing at least 19 and wounding 25 others.

Satoshi Uematsu, 26, later drove to the police station and turned himself in. He had a bag full of knives, some bloodstained, when he turned himself in. He had been an employee of the care home, but had been sacked. He told police that he wanted to rid the world of disabled people.

Police say that there is no connection to terrorism. Japan Times and BBC

Germany's Der Spiegel asks: Is this the Apocalypse Now?

"I'm tired of living in interesting times," a Twitter user wrote several days ago. According to an article in Germany's Der Spiegel, people on social media ask every day: What is wrong with 2016? When will it be over? What more does it have in store for us?

In just the last few weeks, there was a mass shooting in Orlando on June 12, a huge Istanbul airport attack on June 28, a massive terror attack in Dhaka on July 1, a deadly July 7 shooting in Dallas, and the horrific Bastille Day attack in Nice on July 14. The next day, on July 15, was the attempted coup d'état in Turkey.

And now, in the last week, there have been four violent attacks in Germany, including two on Sunday, and a major knife attack in Japan on Monday.

The article says:

"This year, international political events have overlapped in an unsettling way. Something seems to be coalescing and brewing, though it's not yet clear what. Each new development seems to come a bit faster than the last. It may have begun with the Arab Spring in 2011, but it also continued with the wars in Libya and Syria and was further exacerbated by the conflict between Ukraine and Russia and the latest terrorist attacks. We are witnessing the destabilization of the world as we've known it since 1989."

In fact, this is exactly what always happens in a generational Crisis era. There are many reasons, but there are two major ones. First, the last of the Silent generation of survivors of World War II have all but disappeared, and their wisdom is no longer available to prevent geopolitical catastrophes, leaving the world at the mercy of increasingly nationalistic, racist and xenophobic younger generations.

The second reason is the Malthusian reason. As the population continues to increase exponentially, with 200,000 people added to the global population every day, there have been massive flows of refugees in the Mideast, Africa and Asia, destabilizing societies and nations everywhere. Furthermore, growing populations are displacing more and more farmland, and the population is growing faster than the food supply, resulting in constantly increasing poverty and starvation. Both of these reasons give rise to desperate people who are willing to kill in order to get what they believe they're entitled to, and that means increasing chaos and war.

I had to chuckle when I heard the media commentary on Donald Trump's speech last week, characterizing it as full of "doom and gloom." I watched the speech live and didn't think that it was particularly gloomy at all, since all of those doom and gloom things are things that I've been predicting for years, based on Generational Dynamics analyses. Generational Dynamics also predicts that there are no solutions to these problems except another world war.

The article concludes:

"Many of us simply don't understand the world anymore. It will probably be up to the historians of future generations to accurately categorize what exactly it is that we're experiencing in these times of transition. This is, however, not the time to give in to panic -- it is time to have confidence in one's own values and keep fighting for the society one believes in. Geopolitical turmoil is best overcome when one is grounded in clear convictions, which holds true for both citizens and countries as a whole. First of all, a clear compass is needed in order to take responsibility for foreign policy, confront dictators and manage the crises that we're witnessing."

I would respond by saying that those who study Generational Dynamics understand the world only too well, but just aren't happy with what they understand. As Solomon, who had an excellent intuitive understanding of generational theory, says in Ecclesiastes: "For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief." Der Spiegel (Berlin)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Jul-16 World View -- People in Germany are reeling after a week of violence thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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25-Jul-16 World View -- Migrants trapped in Serbia march toward border with Hungary

The refugee problem continues, despite EU-Turkey deal

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Migrants trapped in Serbia march toward border with Hungary


Last year's Balkan Route: Migrants arrive from Turkey to Greece, through Macedonia and Serbia, then through Hungary or Croatia.
Last year's Balkan Route: Migrants arrive from Turkey to Greece, through Macedonia and Serbia, then through Hungary or Croatia.

Last year, hundreds of thousands of refugees, mostly from the war-torn countries of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, poured into Europe along the so-called "Balkan route." The migrants reached Turkey, then crossed the Aegean Sea to reach Greece and travel to the border with Macedonia. They would cross Macedonia, then travel through Hungary and Austria to reach Germany. In June of last year, Hungary announced that it would build a razor-wire fence on the Hungary-Serbia border, which they did in September. Then the refugees tried to travel from Serbia into Croatia, and from there back into Hungary or into Slovenia, and on to Austria and Germany. But those borders were closed too. ( "20-Oct-15 World View -- As winter approaches, thousands of European refugees may be trapped in the cold".) In March of this year, the entire "Balkan Route" was permanently closed.

Today, there are still about 3,000 refugees trapped in Serbia, living either near the Hungary border, or in the capital city Belgrade. They could apply for asylum in Serbia, but many don't want to do that, because they really want to go to Germany and apply for asylum there.

On Friday, hundreds of refugees marched through Belgrade, launching a hunger strike to demand passage to western Europe. In this context, the "hunger strike" meant that they left untouched free food provided by aid groups. They carried placards reading also stage a sitting protest in Belgrade holding placards that read “Open the border,” “We are responsible global citizens,” “No to violence,” “Stop wars if you want to stop refugees” and “Prove that humanity is still alive.”

After the hunger strike, they began marching toward the border with Hungary. By Sunday, about 300 young men (no women or children) were nearing the border, alongside a "friendly" Serbian police escort. The plan is to demand that Hungary open the border, and demand that is unlikely to be met. There may be a confrontation on Monday. InSerbia and AFP and AP

The refugee problem continues, despite EU-Turkey deal

The EU-Turkey refugee deal has reduced the flow of refugees from Turkey into Europe, but hasn't eliminated it entirely. More than 650,000 people passed through Serbia last year. So far in 2016, more than 100,000 migrants have passed through Serbia, many of them being guided by human traffickers whom they've paid. And 57,000 refugees are trapped in Greece, many of them still hoping to reach Germany.

Many European officials are thankful that the recent coup attempt in Turkey failed, because if it had succeeded, then the new government might not have honored the refugee deal. But even so, there are two major factors that could still cause the entire refugee deal to unravel.

The EU committed to removing visa restrictions on EU travel by Turkish citizens. June 30 was the deadline set by Turkey for the European Union to lift visa restrictions on Turkey, so that any of Turkey's 72 million citizens can travel freely around Europe's Schengen zone. Surprisingly, we haven't really heard anything about this plan since early May, and Turkey may have decided to drop the subject after there was so much opposition from some EU officials, because of Turkish human rights violations.

Since the failed coup, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has indicated that Turkey may reinstate the death penalty. Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2004 as one of the reforms that had been demanded by the European Union before Turkey would be allowed to join the EU. If the death penalty is reinstated, then there will be no chance that the EU will ease visa restrictions. There's probably no chance anyway.

The other major issue that could unravel the refugee deal is that Brussels ruled last September that some 160,000 refugees would be distributed among the 28 EU member states. However, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary have said that they will not agree to accept any refugees. These feelings have hardened even further as the result of recent terror attacks in Europe.

Even ignoring these two issues, Erdogan has fired almost 60,000 people at all levels of government in Turkey. ( "22-Jul-16 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan gives himself dictatorial powers, moving Turkey away from the West") With Turkey's government in chaos, they may simply lose control of the refugee situation, allowing a new surge of refugees into Europe. Reuters and Al-Jazeera and Daily Mail (London) and Irish Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Jul-16 World View -- Migrants trapped in Serbia march toward border with Hungary thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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24-Jul-16 World View -- ISIS claims responsibility for attack on Shia Hazaras in Kabul Afghanistan

Kabul attack targeted Afghanistan's repressed Hazara minority

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

ISIS claims responsibility for attack on Shia Hazaras in Kabul Afghanistan


Thousands of Shia Hazara protesters in Kabul on Saturday, just prior to the attack (Reuters)
Thousands of Shia Hazara protesters in Kabul on Saturday, just prior to the attack (Reuters)

At least 80 people, mostly Shia Muslim Hazaras, were killed on Saturday in the worst terror attack in Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan, since 2001. The venue was a rally by some 10,000 Shia Hazaras, protesting a government policy related to electricity. Afghanistan's interior ministry issued a statement:

"As a result of the attack 80 people were martyred and 231 others were wounded. The attack was carried out by three suicide bombers... The third attacker was gunned down by security forces."

Amaq News, the public relations agency of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), claimed that "ISIS fighters detonated explosive belts amidst a 'gathering of Shi’ites' in Deh Mazang in Kabul Afghanistan." This needs to be confirmed, however, since ISIS has developed the policy of claiming credit for almost every criminal act in the world, whether they've had anything to do with it or not.

However, the credibility of the ISIS claim may be supported by the statement issued by the Afghan Taliban denying responsibility:

"We wish to make clear that the Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate have no hand in this incident. At the same time we strongly condemn all acts of cynicism which seek to divide the nation into ethnic groups and sides and then pushed into war. Such incidents are carried out by enemies of the nation and is a deplorable step."

No doubt the Taliban issued this statement because they consider ISIS to be their enemy, and are themselves threatened by the rise of ISIS in Afghanistan.

But the statement is laughable nonetheless. The Afghan and Pakistan Taliban have killed thousands of Shia Hazaras in recent years. In fact, 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 even conducted numerous terrorist acts on Iranian soil.

Afghanistan's president Ashraf Ghani said in a live television address:

"I promise you I will take revenge against the culprits. I have ordered the attorney-general to set up a commission to investigate this incident."

This statement is also laughable, as Ghani has promised revenge against perpetrators of terror acts in the past, to no avail. In this case he's promising to set up a new commission, which should reassure everyone. He's also banned public gatherings in Kabul for 15 days. Khaama Press (Kabul) and Financial Express (India) and The Diplomat

Kabul attack targeted Afghanistan's repressed Hazara minority

The Kabul attack targeted a protest march by around 10,000 Hazaras, protesting plans to develop a new power infrastructure that would provide electricity to Kabul and Pashtun provinces, but would bypass central regions that were home to the largest Hazara community. The Persian-speaking Hazara people, estimated to make up about 9% of Afghanistan's population, are the country's third-largest minority and claim to have been repressed throughout the country's history. With Afghanistan in a generational Awakening era, this kind of protest, especially by young people, is to be expected.

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 there's still plenty of visceral hatred between the two sides.

It's no coincidence that both the Taliban and ISIS are fighting against Shia Muslims. Just as the Shia Hazaras fought against the Sunni Muslim Pashtuns in the bloody 1990s civil war, Syria's Shia/Alawites, led by Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, have been attempting to exterminate the Sunni Muslims in Syria. In Syria, al-Assad's genocidal actions have drawn thousands of young Sunni Muslim jihadists from Indonesia to Pakistan to Algeria to Chechnya to go to Syria to fight the Shias and Alawites, and these international jihadists have formed the backbone of ISIS.

So, ISIS and the Taliban may be each other's mortal enemies, but they're united in wishing to exterminate Shia Muslims -- al-Assad's Shias in Syria and the Hazara Shia Muslims in Afghanistan. So, whether it was the Taliban or ISIS that perpetrated Saturday's attack, it was not surprising that the Shia Hazaras were targeted.

The bigger picture is that we can see the growing conflict between Shia Muslims and Sunni Muslims in the Mideast. This is the trend line that I've been writing about for years, as predicted by Generational Dynamics. Furthermore, Hindus have been allied with Shia Muslims against Sunni Muslims in numerous bloody wars, starting with the seminal Battle of Karbala in 680, while the Mongols and Chinese have been bitter enemies of the Russians for centuries.

So it seems that every couple of days something happens to advance the world along the predicted trend lines -- the US, India, Russia and Iran versus China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the Sunni Muslim countries, with Afghanistan split between the Pashtuns and the Northern Alliance. Reuters (just before the attack) and Deutsche Welle and Saudi Gazette

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Jul-16 World View -- ISIS claims responsibility for attack on Shia Hazaras in Kabul Afghanistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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23-Jul-16 World View -- Christian pastor's '#ThisFlag' movement threatens Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe war veterans suddenly turn on Robert Mugabe

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Christian pastor leads '#ThisFlag' demonstrations against Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe


Grace Mugabe, the young wife of 92-year-old Robert Mugabe, who he wants to be his successor
Grace Mugabe, the young wife of 92-year-old Robert Mugabe, who he wants to be his successor

Zimbabwe is being suddenly riven by anti-government demonstrations and clashes with security forces that suddenly erupted into a major political force almost spontaneously earlier this month, fed by social media with the hash tag #ThisFlag.

Evan Mawarire, the 39-year-old pastor of the His Generation Church in the capital city Harare, used social media to organize a nationwide "stay-away," a shutdown of schools, businesses and shops around the country. Since any sort of government protest can be punished violently by the government of the 92-year-old president Robert Mugabe, Mawarire chose the national flag as the symbol of protest, along with the hash tag #ThisFlag. According to Mawarire, the Zimbabwe flag used to be a symbol of national pride, but today it's a symbol of endemic corruption, injustice, starvation, and poverty in the country.

The July 6 national shutdown shut down much of the country, and Mawarire was summoned by police for questioning, and was charged with inciting public violence, disturbing the peace, and treason. Mawarire might have been locked up for years, or even tortured and killed, as is not uncommon in the Mugabe government. But court officials were shocked when nearly 200 young lawyers flocked to Harare's Magistrate's Court and volunteered to represent the pastor. The police were forced to free Mawarire after only one night in custody, and drop the charges.

After being freed, Mawarire posted on his Facebook page to his followers:

"You did so well. There was no violence. No one was fighting. No one was throwing stones. Zimbabweans are peaceful people and we can do this very well with peace. ... Continue to pray for Zimbabwe. God is doing something special and amazing."

Several Christian organizations -- the Zimbabwe Catholic bishops’ conference, the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, and other groups issued a statement condemning Mugabe for apparent disregard for the constitution by the government and police and failure to deal with corruption. "These grievances must be viewed as the early warning signs which indicate underlying and simmering tensions that will soon explode into civil unrest if not addressed."

In fact, widespread civil unrest is exactly where this is headed, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics. Zimbabwe is in a generational Awakening era, like America and Europe in the 1960s and 1970s, and the first post-war generation (like America's Boomers) are on the path to holding massive protests. Zimbabwe's last generational crisis war was the war for independence that climaxed in 1980. Mugabe's government has used massive arrests, massacres, atrocities and torture to stop earlier protests, but this protest could not be stopped because it used social media, and because the form of the protest was for the protesters to stay and home and shut down the country, rather than march through the streets. Now that one protest has been successful, it's likely that there will be more.

As we described earlier this month in "1-Jul-16 World View -- Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Puerto Rico - three amigos in Marxist economic destruction", Zimbabwe is in the midst of a major financial crisis because Mugabe has destroyed the nation's economy by shutting down the farms and businesses, because they were run by whites, and turned them over to corrupt cronies in his own Zanu-pf political party who couldn't run a business or a farm if their lives depended on it. Zimbabwe was the breadbasket of Africa in the 1990s, but it took Mugabe only a few years to destroy the economy, and to give away the pieces to his corrupt cronies, leaving his political enemies to starve. Mugabe's breathtaking destruction of the country's economy is a major motivation for the protests occurring now. Religion News Service and Catholic News Agency and The Zimbabwe Mail and Nehanda Radio (Harare)

Zimbabwe war veterans suddenly turn on Robert Mugabe

The success of the #ThisFlag movement has triggered other forms of protest. On Thursday, Robert Mugabe's most loyal supporters, the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association, suddenly turned on Mugabe.

These were the veterans that fought alongside Mugabe in the war of independence. After the war, they were in the front lines of torturing and massacring Mugabe's political enemies. Any anti-Mugabe protestor could count on being arrested and beaten at the hands of Mugabe's war veterans. The veterans have formed the backbone of Mugabe's party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-pf).

So the surprise move to turn against Mugabe has significantly changed the political landscape in Zimbabwe. According to the statement:

"We note, with concern, shock and dismay, the systematic entrenchment of dictatorial tendencies, personified by the president and his cohorts, which have slowly devoured the values of the liberation struggle. ...

Mugabe should understand that his leadership is as a result of our support as we are the vanguard of the ruling ZANU PF, without war veterans who fought for the liberation of this country then there is no ZANU-PF. ... So to Mugabe we say, you cannot stop us as war veterans from debating the succession of the party’s leadership, as we are the spine of the party."

However, one should not assume that this change of heart was motivated by feelings of guilt over past tortures and massacres. Actually, it was motivated by the fact that Mugabe had ordered the firing of the chairman of the veterans association, Christopher Mutsvangwa. According to the statement:

"We still recognize Cde Christopher Mutsvangwa as our national chairperson amongst the war veterans and Mugabe should be warned Mutsvangwa cannot be fired willy nilly as that has to be done through a congress. Mugabe is fond of firing from the party anybody who raises a voice against him and we are saying no enough is enough."

This is taking place in the context of a growing battle over Mugabe's successor as leader of Zanu-pf. The 92-year-old Mugabe claims that his plans are to live past the age 100, but others are not so sure.

Two factions have emerged. The veterans want Mugabe to be succeeded by the current vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa. Mugabe himself wants to be succeeded by his own wife, Grace Mugabe.

In February, police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse hundreds of veterans who were demonstrating against what they described as criticism by Grace Mugabe. According to the veterans' statement:

"Regrettably, the general citizenry has previously been subjected to this inhuman and degrading treatment without a word of disapproval from us. That time has passed. We wish to categorically condemn the brutal suppression of the freedom of expression, whether exercised by ourselves or by anyone else."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is a very interesting story because it shows how very different cultures can have Awakening eras with many similarities. What unites Awakening eras across all cultures is the rise of the first generation following the previous generational crisis war, and the appearance of marches, demonstrations and other forms of protest, just as occurred in America and Europe in the 1960-70s.

Okay Africa and Reuters and AP and The Standard (Harare - 27-Mar)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Jul-16 World View -- Christian pastor's '#ThisFlag' movement threatens Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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22-Jul-16 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan gives himself dictatorial powers, moving Turkey away from the West

Turkey moves away from the West

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey's Erdogan gives himself dictatorial powers


Military officers under arrest after the failed military coup.  Front row center is Akin Ozturk, a four-star general and former commander of the Turkish air force. (CNN)
Military officers under arrest after the failed military coup. Front row center is Akin Ozturk, a four-star general and former commander of the Turkish air force. (CNN)

Following last week's attempted coup d'état, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday declared a three-month state of emergency that gives him near dictatorial powers that cannot be challenged by the parliament or the courts. Erdogan announced the following:

"As a result of a comprehensive evaluation with members of the National Security Council [MGK], we have decided to recommend the declaration of a state of emergency, in line with Article 120 of our constitution, in order to eliminate the terror organization which attempted to make a coup, swiftly and completely."

In order to eliminate this "terror organization," Erdogan executed a purge the size of which is breathtaking:

In all, 58,000 people have been affected by the purge.

Because of the size and complexity of this purge, many analysts believe that the purge was in the planning stages for several months, waiting for the right opportunity to implement it. It was already obvious in March that something was coming when Erdogan forcibly shut down the only opposition newspaper and jailed the reporters. ( "6-Mar-16 World View -- Turkey's 'shameful day for free press' as government seizes Zaman media")

To Erdogan, free speech is terrorism.

As I wrote last week in "17-Jul-16 World View -- Attempted army coup in Turkey collapses within hours", Erdogan is blaming the coup on a "terrorist group" led by Fethullah Gulen, a 76-year-old Turkish Muslim cleric, living in self-imposed exile in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania since splitting with Erdogan. Apparently Erdogan believes that the 58,000 police, judges, clerics and social workers that he purged were all part of a terrorist group being controlled by Gulen from his easy chair in the Pocono mountains of Pennsylvania.

Erdogan is demanding that Gulen be extradited back to Turkey, but Obama administration officials are resisting, saying that they're perfectly willing to extradite him, once Turkey has supplied the required paperwork, something that will stand up in court providing evidence that Gulen committed a crime. So far, that evidence has not been provided. Hurriyet (Ankara) and BBC

Turkey moves away from the West

Even ignoring the long-term conflict with the PKK terrorists, Turkey is a deeply divided country split between the religiously conservative Islamists versus the moderate secularists. This split dates back to World War I, when the Ottoman Empire collapsed, and Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, declared that Turkey's society would be secular. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the current president, has been reversing that decision, making the society more Islamist.

A number of reports have indicated that young people in Turkey have been more been more Islamist than the more secularist people in the older generations, and have felt discriminated against. Erdogan has been appealing to these younger generations, and it's believed that many of 58,000 people who were purged were secularists.

The West, especially secular Europe, have become increasingly alarmed at these changes, especially in the last couple of days. Beyond the state of emergency, Erdogan has also suspended the European Convention on Human Rights (EHCR), which guarantees basic rights similar to those guaranteed by the American Bill of Rights. Turkish officials argue that human rights will still be preserved, and they point out that France suspended the EHCR briefly last year, in conjunction with declaring a state of emergency.

These announcements have revived talks of the death penalty, imposed media restrictions, blocked websites and placed a ban on academics leaving the country. Erdogan has specifically stated that the death penalty might be reinstated.

"I will approve capital punishment if it's passed by parliament. ...

If the EU respects democracy it will accept people's will. The world is not simply the European Union. Do you have capital punishment in the US, Russia, China and in many other countries? Yes."

Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2004 as one of the reforms that had been demanded by the European Union before Turkey would be allowed to join the EU. Turkish officials have been getting increasingly annoyed since then because the talks with the EU have repeatedly been stalled. If Turkey reinstates the death penalty, it will have enormous symbolic significance, because it could lead to the final end of any talk about Turkey joining the European Union.

There are strong bonds tying Turkey to the West. Turkey is a member of Nato and has been so for years. More recently, Turkey and the EU have signed the EU-Turkey migrant deal that's reduced the flood of thousands of migrants per day entering Greece from Turkey to just dozens per day. Going beyond these specific contractual international relationships. Turkey is considered in the West to be the linchpin of any Mideast policy, because of its central location.

Despite all that, there is a widespread feeling among authorities in the West that Turkey is moving away from the West. One example is that some Turkish officials are suggesting that America has been partially responsible for the coup because America has given asylum to Fethullah Gulen.

Long-time readers know that Generational Dynamics predicts exactly that -- that Turkey will move away from the West. As I've been writing for years, Generational Dynamics predicts that in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, China, Pakistan, and the Sunni Muslim countries will be one side, and India, Iran, the United States and the West will be on the other side. ( "8-Jul-16 World View -- Hard issues prevent full reconciliation between Turkey and Russia")

When I first made this prediction, years ago, Turkey was a close ally and Iran was a hated enemy. However, this prediction establishes a trend line that's already being realized -- Iran has been moving toward the West, and Turkey has been moving away. If you want to understand where Turkey is going, then follow the Generational Dynamics trend lines and forecasts, and you will have the answer. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Jerusalem Post and Al-Jazeera

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Jul-16 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan gives himself dictatorial powers, moving Turkey away from the West thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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21-Jul-16 World View -- India-Pakistan tensions grow over Kashmir issue

Fears grow of major uprising in Indian-governed Kashmir

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Tensions rising between Pakistan and India over Kashmir issue


Saudi migrant workers at a bus stop in Kashmir on Wednesday (AFP)
Saudi migrant workers at a bus stop in Kashmir on Wednesday (AFP)

Tensions are rising palpably between Pakistan and India, with anti-India protests across Pakistan on Wednesday, protesting the ongoing violence in the Indian-governed Kashmir.

Violent clashes in Kashmir began on July 9, following the death on July 8 of Burhan Wani, 22, a 22-year-old commander in the separatist militia Hizbul Mujahideen (HM). Some 50 Kashmiris were killed and over 1,900 injured. About 600 were blinded for life, having been shot by the security forces with "non-lethal" pellet guns. After 12 days, Kashmir is paralyzed and the streets are deserted, as police and paramilitary soldiers in riot gear continue to enforce a strict curfew.

Separatist sentiment continued to grow in Kashmir. On Wednesday, residents hoisted dozens of black and Pakistan flags to observe a "black day" to protest the killing Wani. Indian security forces, fearing a further uprising, removed the flags.

As I described in detail in "14-Jul-16 World View -- Police clashes in India-governed Kashmir kill 36 and leaves thousands injured", Pakistan and India, including Kashmir, are deep into a generational Crisis era. The last generational crisis war was Partition, the 1947 war that followed the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan, one of bloodiest wars of the 20th century. In the past, with survivors of that war still alive and still in power, no one wanted to see a repeat of the bloody 1947 war. But today, those survivors are almost gone, and the younger generations, with only limited, partial information about the horrors that occurred in that war, are headed for a repeat of the 1947 war.

Pakistan's prime minister Nawaz Sharif said:

"Today we are observing Black Day to express solidarity with Kashmiris and are giving a strong message to the world that Pakistanis are with them (Kashmiris) for their struggle to get their rights.

India cannot suppress the voice of Kashmiris through force as they will eventually get freedom. The UN has declared Kashmir a disputed territory and India should hold plebiscite to respect the rights of Kashmiris. Terming Kashmir issue internal matter of India is not justifiable."

Many Indian officials believe that Pakistan is funding and supporting terrorism in Kashmir, which would not be surprising since India and Pakistan have found three wars over Kashmir.

On Wednesday, India's Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar

"India will be able to handle the situation but Pakistan will not be able to do that. You are committing suicide... We are saying this as a good neighbor. [It is] time to open your eyes. ...

When (Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan) Wani got killed, Pakistanis are observing 'black day' and they think we will accept it silently. We will not do that."

Akbar pointed out that when Pakistan suffered a major terror attack killing dozens of children in a school in Peshawar, Indians did not cheer the way that Pakistanis are cheering today. Press TV (Iran) and Saudi (Arabia) Journal and New Indian Express

Mastermind of 2008 Mumbai attack leads Pakistan protests against India

Tens of thousands of demonstrators in cities across Pakistan -- Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Multan, and others -- took to the streets on Wednesday to protest against the ongoing violence in the Indian-governed Kashmir.

The leader of the protests in Lahore was Hafiz Saeed, leader of the terror group Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) at the time that LeT attack conducted the horrific '26/11' terrorist attack on Mumbai in November 2008, lead the public protests against India in Kashmir on Wednesday. Saeed is designated a terrorist by the U.S. government with a $10 million bounty on his head.

On Wednesday, Saeed said that Burhan Wani was a freedom fighter, and said his death would strengthen the jihad in Kashmir. Indian officials are furious that Pakistan has refused to prosecute Saeed. AP and Asian Age

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Jul-16 World View -- India-Pakistan tensions grow over Kashmir issue thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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20-Jul-16 World View -- The African Union proposes an all-African peacekeeping force for South Sudan

Uganda's president opposes arms embargo on South Sudan

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Thousands in South Sudan flee to Uganda to escape violence


South Sudan refugee women and children seek shelter under a UN van. (DPA)
South Sudan refugee women and children seek shelter under a UN van. (DPA)

Thousands of refugees from South Sudan are fleeing across the border to Uganda to escape the possibility of fresh tribal fighting in South Sudan's capital city Juba, despite the fact that the fighting has cooled down in the last week. Over 5,000 refugees crossed the border over the weekend, joining more than 6,000 that had crossed previously.

However, that number of refugees is dwarfed by the number of people who have had to flee their homes and are still in South Sudan. At least 42,000 fled the city of Juba in recent days, and hundreds were killed. The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is responsible for the protection of civilians in refugee camps in South Sudan.

There are fears that if the fighting worsens, then there may be over a million refugees, both internal and flowing into neighboring countries. ( "11-Jul-16 World View -- Fears that renewed South Sudan tribal fighting could spiral into larger war")

Ever since the violence began in December 2013, the number of South Sudan refugees in neighboring countries is around 835,000. UNHCR and Al Jazeera

The African Union proposes an all-African peacekeeping force for South Sudan

An African Union (AU) summit approved the deployment of an all-African peacekeeping to South Sudan, now that there's a lull in the fighting. The soldiers from the force are would come from Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda.

The new deployment would be in addition to an existing deployment of 12,000 person UN peacekeeping force. The difference between the two (theoretically) is that the UN peacekeeping force is only permitted to keep an existing peace, while the AU force would have the mandate to "impose peace."

However, South Sudan president Salva Kiir will not grant permission for an AU force to enter the country. According to Michael Makuei Lueth, South Sudan's Information Minister, "We are not ready for a deployment of even a single additional soldier. That does not solve the problem. As a sovereign state ... this thing cannot be imposed on us without our consent. [It would not] serve the interests of the people of South Sudan."

However, the situation is dire. Over a third of South Sudan's population are expected to face severe food shortages over the coming months, and there is a real risk of what the UN has termed a "hunger catastrophe". Deutsche Welle and BBC and Times Live (South Africa)

Uganda's president opposes arms embargo on South Sudan

Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni said he was opposed to a U.N. plan to impose an arms embargo on his neighbor South Sudan, saying it would weaken its army just as the country was trying to contain a resurgence of violence.

South Sudan became independent on July 9, 2011. There was constant low-level fighting in the country, but finally major clashes began in December 2013. ( "29-Dec-2013 World View -- Conflicts grow in South Sudan and Central African Republic") Major clashes began again on two weeks ago, on the fifth anniversary of independence.

The fighting is between two tribes, the Dinka tribe, led by the president Salva Kiir, and the Nuer tribe, led by the vice-president Riek Machar.

There's widespread fear that the tribal fighting will spiral into a full-scale civil war.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, that's not going to happen. As in wrote in "Generational history of South Sudan and Dinka-Nuer clashes", the last generational crisis war between the Dinka and Nuer tribes climaxed in 1991 with the "Bor Massacre," starving, displacing and killing hundreds of thousands of people. Thus, South Sudan is in a generational Awakening era, and there are many survivors of the Bor Massacre from both sides who do not want to see anything so horrible happen again, and will do anything they can to prevent it. So an event similar to the Bor Massacre will not occur.

What is happening is that weapons are flooding into South Sudan, with Uganda supplying weapons to Salva Kiir and the Dinkas, and Ethiopia and (Northern) Sudan supplying weapons to Riek Machar and the Nuers. It's the flow of weapons that is sustaining a conflict that would otherwise die out.

We've seen the same thing in Syria. Syria's president Bashar al-Assad launched a war of extermination against the Sunnis in Syria in 2011, and it would have fizzled out long ago, almost certainly with the defeat of al-Assad, except that Russia and Iran have been pouring vast amounts of weapons and soldiers into Syria to prop up the regime and keep the fight going.

Returning now to South Sudan, the United Nations would like to impose a weapons embargo on both tribes, but in view of opposition from people like Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni, that's unlikely to succeed. Reuters and Sudan Tribune

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Jul-16 World View -- The African Union proposes an all-African peacekeeping force for South Sudan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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19-Jul-16 World View -- China's military deploys bombers and closes part of the South China Sea

China makes more delusional claims about the South China Sea

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China makes more delusional claims about the South China Sea


China's map of countries supporting them (China Daily)
China's map of countries supporting them (China Daily)

China state media has issued a report with a map claiming that 70 countries are supporting China's position to reject last week's decision handed down by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague. (See my detailed analysis of the Tribunal decision in "13-Jul-16 World View -- Philippines humiliates China in harsh Hague Tribunal ruling over South China Sea".)

The text in the map shown above says:

"More than 70 countries have publicly voiced support for China’s position that South China Sea disputes should be resolved through negotiations and not arbitration. In contrast, just several countries, mainly the United States and its close allies, have publicly supported the Philippines and called for observing the ruling as legally binding."

Once again, China's claims are totally delusional.

India, for example, most assuredly did not voice support for China's claim that disputes should not be resolved through arbitration. According to a statement issued by India's Ministry of External Affairs:

"India supports freedom of navigation and over flight, and unimpeded commerce, based on the principles of international law, as reflected notably in the UNCLOS. India believes that States should resolve disputes through peaceful means without threat or use of force and exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that could complicate or escalate disputes affecting peace and stability.

Sea lanes of communication passing through the South China Sea are critical for peace, stability, prosperity and development. As a State Party to the UNCLOS, India urges all parties to show utmost respect for the UNCLOS, which establishes the international legal order of the seas and oceans."

The Indian statement was very carefully worded so as not to strongly confront China, but it certainly did not reject arbitration.

Prior to the Tribunal ruling, China claimed that 60 countries were in "a chorus" that publicly endorsed China's South China Sea position. The list was completely delusional.

According to an analysis by the the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, 8 countries 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.

After the Tribunal ruling, an analysis by Lowy Institute seems to indicate that China has fewer supporters today than before the ruling -- not surprising in view of the clarity and presentation of evidence in the ruling. According to Lowy, only three countries now reject the ruling: China, Taiwan and Pakistan. 34 nations have publicly called for the ruling to be respected. Others have either said nothing, or acknowledged the ruling positively.

Also prior to the Tribunal ruling was issued, China released "evidence" of its claims that turned out to be a complete hoax. ( "22-Jun-16 World View -- China's 'ironclad proof' of South China Sea claims revealed as hoax")

It's all very strange. The Tribunal's ruling is purely symbolic in the sense that it has no way to enforce its ruling. Militarily, China is ignoring the ruling anyway, as it prepares for war with its neighbors and with the United States.

Despite all that, China continues to behave in a highly emotional, irrational, panicky, nationalistic manner, issuing delusional and fabricated evidence to support claims that everybody knows are false claims.

This is what makes China so dangerous. They believe that the US has been weakened by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and too anxious to risk another war. This is a major historic mistake that they will regret. They claim to be "peace loving," but the way the world works is that every leader goes to war by claiming to be "peace loving," and blaming the other side. China Daily and India Ministry of External Affairs and Lowy Institute (Australia)

China continues to operate within the Philippines exclusive economic zone (EEZ)

China has claimed that the airstrips on their artificial islands in the Spratly Islands are for civilian aircraft, and they backed up their claims by reporting on two civilian flights, an Airbus A319 chartered by China Southern Airlines and a Boeing 737 by Hainan Airlines, that landed on the airstrips.

We're getting used to outright fabrications and lies from the Chinese, and no one seriously believes that these airstrips will be used only for commercial flights. It's generally thought that China is preparing for war with its neighbors, and that these airstrips will be used for military purposes.

The claim that the artificial islands have only commercial use is laughable. As one analyst wrote sarcastically, "The business plan for the Spratlys would be interesting to read. Perhaps the Chinese would allow Philippine civilian aircraft to land at Mischief Reef to boost revenue."

One of China's artificial islands is on Mischief Reef, which the Tribunal declared is part of the Philippines exclusive economic zone (EEZ), according to last week's decision handed down by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague.

Indeed, Mischief Reef is 300 km (185 miles) west of the Philippines' island of Palawan, but 1,100 km (685 miles) from China's Hainan Island. So it's entirely within the Philippines EEZ, and therefore the artificial islands that China built are now the legal property of the Philippines. Press Trust of India and Reuters

China's military deploys bombers and closes part of the South China Sea

China announced that it will now deploy a combat air patrol with long range bombers in the South China Sea as "a regular practice." According to the Chinese military, "The PLA Air Force will firmly defend national sovereignty, security and maritime interests, safeguard regional peace and stability, and cope with various threats and challenges."

Separately, China's maritime administration said that it is closing off a part of the South China Sea for military exercises this week.

China is in a highly nationalistic, emotional, anxious and dangerous state, and is rapidly increasing its military across the South China Sea, preparing for war with its neighbors and with the United States. AP and India Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Jul-16 World View -- China's military deploys bombers and closes part of the South China Sea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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18-Jul-16 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan gives four-finger 'R4BIA' salute, in signal to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood

Bahrain tensions rise as Sunni government cracks down on Shias

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey's Erdogan gives four-finger 'R4BIA' salute, in signal to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood


Screen grab from video of Erdogan's speech on Saturday in which he gives the four-finger R4BIA salute
Screen grab from video of Erdogan's speech on Saturday in which he gives the four-finger R4BIA salute

Following Egypt's 2013 army coup that ousted the democratically elected Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood (MB) government, there were massive protests and sit-ins in Cairo and clashes between MB supporters and the army, resulting in nearly 1,000 deaths. Most of the clashes occurred in Cairo's Rabaa Square. In Arabic, the word "Rabaa" or "Rabia" means "fourth," and so MB supporters adopted the name "R4BIA" for the new four-fingered salute, which consists of raising four fingers, and folding your thumb over your palm. ( "24-Aug-13 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan adopts Muslim Brotherhood's four-fingered salute")

In the middle of his first major speech on Saturday following the coup attempt in Turkey, president Recep Tayyip Erdogan flashed the R4BIA four-fingered salute, as shown in the above screen grab, as a signal that he still supports the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. ( "17-Jul-16 World View -- Attempted army coup in Turkey collapses within hours")

The significance of this is that it's a new indication that Erdogan has no intention of reconciling with Egypt. Erdogan has reconciled with both Israel and Russia in recent weeks, and some analysts had speculated that Egypt would be next. However, Erdogan's four-fingered salute on Saturday is one of several indications that no such reconciliation is possible at this time.

On several occasions, Erdogan has said that his differences are with Egypt's president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who masterminded the 2013 coup, and not with the Egyptian people. Al Monitor and Washington Post and YouTube - Erdogan - watch 16:30-17:00 and The Conservative Treehouse

Bahrain tensions rise as Sunni government cracks down on Shias

The Sunni-ruled government of Bahrain on Sunday ordered the dissolution of the country's main opposition group, the Shia organization Al Wefaq National Islamic Society, despite enormous international criticism from Western countries and human rights organizations. Al-Wefaq was closed by court order last month. Bahrain's population is 2/3 Shia Muslim, but the country is led by an oppressive Sunni government closely allied with Saudi Arabia.

In May, Bahrain's courts found the Al-Wefaq leader Sheikh Ali Salman 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."

On Sunday, a court in Bahrain ordered the dissolution of Al-Wefaq, accusing it of harboring terrorism, inciting violence and encouraging demonstrations and sit-ins which threaten to spark "sectarian strife," and ordered the seizure of all of the organization's assets.

Iran has not yet commented on the dissolution of Al-Wefaq, but last month when it was closed, Iran issued a statement:

"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."

It's hard not to laugh at this, given that Iran regularly massacres peaceful protesters, leaving blood running in the streets, and jails political opponents for years. In 2011, Bahrain massacred peaceful protesters, leaving blood running in the streets. When these two countries whine about each other, they sound pathetic. AFP and Al-Jazeera

Bahrain accuses another top Shia cleric for money laundering

Bahrain will try the kingdom's most prominent Shia cleric, Sheikh Isa Ahmed Qasim, accusing him on Saturday of illegal fund-raising and money-laundering.

In addition, Bahrain is threatening to strip the entire Shia cleric community of its sources of income, by taking over collection of a Shia tax, known as the fifth or "khums," because it taxes up 20% (one-fifth) of all excess wealth that has accumulated in the accounts of the faithful for more than a year.

Last month, Bahrain revoked the citizenship of Qasim, accusing him of promoting "sectarianism and violence."( "21-Jun-16 World View -- Iran threatens coup, after Bahrain revokes citizenship of Shia cleric")

According to a Bahrain government official:

"Investigations have confirmed that Qasim harnessed the money of poor Shias to finance terror activities in Bahrain and that he sent some of those findings to Iran.

We [the authorities] will be collecting the khums in a transparent way although [I admit that] the process will take time."

Last month, after Qasim's citizenship was revoked, tens of thousands of his supporters to take to the streets. As Bahrain's minority Sunni government continues harsher and harsher crackdowns on the majority Shia population, it's feared that there will be a repeat of the massive protests that occurred in 2011.

According to Rashed al-Rashed, a leading opposition figure in Bahrain, "Nobody can foresee what would happen, but too much blood will be shed in case of Sheikh Qasim’s arrest." Middle East Eye and Tasnim News (Tehran)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Jul-16 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan gives four-finger 'R4BIA' salute, in signal to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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17-Jul-16 World View -- Attempted army coup in Turkey collapses within hours

Extradition of Fethullah Gulen may be linked to reopening Incirlik air base

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Attempted army coup in Turkey collapses within hours


Fethullah Gulen at his home in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, on Saturday.  Erdogan accuses Gulen of organizing the coup attempt (Reuters)
Fethullah Gulen at his home in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, on Saturday. Erdogan accuses Gulen of organizing the coup attempt (Reuters)

A botched army coup on Friday attempting to overthrow Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) collapsed within a few hours overnight.

Reports indicate that the army leadership was not involved, and that a group within the army attempted to overthrow the army leadership as well as the government.

On Saturday, 3,000 soldiers and 2,000 judges were arrested.

Erdogan is accusing Fethullah Gulen, a 76-year-old Turkish Muslim cleric, living in self-imposed exile in America since splitting with Erdogan, of orchestrating the coup from his desk in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania.

Erdogan has been in power since 2007, so it's not surprising that he's made a lot of enemies. There are many reasons why some people might wish to see Erdogan removed from office:

There are many reasons for opposition to Erdogan, and many of them have coalesced under the spiritual leadership of Fethullah Gulen, whether or not that means that Gulen had a more direct responsibility for the coup attempt.

Turkey was deeply divided prior to the coup, and those divisions are probably even deeper now. Millions of Turks say that Erdogan is authoritarian, anti-secular and Islamist. It's unlikely that Erdogan will be able to heal these divisions anytime soon.

As one analyst put it, Erdogan has recently gone to great lengths to reconcile differences externally -- with Russia and Israel -- but what he really needs to do is reconcile differences internally, within Turkey itself. Hurriyet (Ankara) and BBC and AP and Daily Mail (London)

Extradition of Fethullah Gulen may be linked to reopening Incirlik air base

Turkey has a half million man army, the second largest in Nato, and Turkey occupies the central region in the Mideast, literally bridging Europe and Asia. Turkey is considered vital to the West for many reasons:

For all of these reasons, there is great concern internationally that the government of Turkey is going to be increasingly unstable in the next few months.

Incirlik airbase is currently closed since the coup attempt, and the Obama administration would like it to be reopened.

Turkey apparently wishes for the Obama administration to extradite Fethullah Gulen back to Turkey.

Analysts have suggested that Turkey will use the Incirlik closure as leverage to gain the extradition of Gulen.

Gulen lives in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, on a 26-acre compound called the Golden Generation Worship and Retreat Center. He has denied that he was involved in the coup, and the Obama administration position is that Turkey will have to supply some proof if he is to be extradited.

As long time readers are aware, Generational Dynamics predicts that in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, China, Pakistan, and the Sunni Muslim countries will be one side, and India, Iran, the United States and the West will be on the other side.

Ten years ago, this trend prediction seemed bizarre, but it's already been astonishing to see Iran and the West move closer together, especially through the nuclear deal, while Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries have become increasingly alienated and distrustful of the United States under the Obama administration. This is all in the direction of the trend prediction that I posted years ago.

As I've said before, the reconciliation between Turkey and Russia is strongly anti-trend, so is not expected to last. ( "8-Jul-16 World View -- Hard issues prevent full reconciliation between Turkey and Russia") If the coup brings further instability, it will move in the direction of the above trend, and that will have big effects on the Turkey policies of Russia, Iran, the U.S., and the West. Anadolu (Ankara) and CNN and AP and BBC (27-Jan-2014)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Jul-16 World View -- Attempted army coup in Turkey collapses within hours thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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16-Jul-16 World View -- Nice France terror attack provokes desperate search for solutions

Turkey coup; Protests and violence continue across Indian-governed Kashmir

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Implications of the attempted coup in Turkey


Turkish people take to streets during coup attempt (Anadolu)
Turkish people take to streets during coup attempt (Anadolu)

As of this writing on Friday evening ET, it's thought that the coup has been defeated, but it's far from certain.

Several analysts have pointed out that it's United States policy only to deal with democratically elected governments, and not with coup governments. This policy was already severely tested after the 2013 coup in Egypt, where the U.S. continued providing military aid to the coup government. The issue of military aid to Turkey would be raised if this coup is successful.

Even if the coup is defeated, the fact that Turkey's military is split would have implications for the United States. The United States military is operating out of Incirlik air force base for its operations in Syria and Iraq. The US military and 1,500 US troops and personnel, which depend on Turkey's military while in that base, might potentially be in danger.

Another flash point is the Bosporus, the narrow body of water that connects the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Russia's navy has a substantial Black Sea fleet stationed in Crimea, which Russia invaded and annexed in 2014, and if a Russian ship comes under some kind of attack while traveling through the Bosporus, then Russia's military might enter Turkey and intervene.

As I've written many times during the last ten years or so, based on a Generational Dynamics analysis, in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, China, Pakistan, and the Sunni Muslim countries would be one side, and India, Iran, the United States and the West would be on the other side. However the coup turns out, this is direction in which Turkey is headed. ( "8-Jul-16 World View -- Hard issues prevent full reconciliation between Turkey and Russia")

As I'm writing this on Friday night ET, it's not entirely clear who is governing Turkey, since president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is holding a news conference in Istanbul while there's still fighting in the capital city Ankara. This coup attempt has exposed a great deal of instability within Turkey, and that instability will continue for weeks and months to come. Anadolu (Ankara) and Hurriyet (Ankara)

Protests and violence continue across Indian-governed Kashmir

Reports indicate that Indian security forces prevented tens of thousands of people from attending mosques for Friday Prayers, resulting in anti-India protests and clashes in dozens of places across India-governed Kashmir.

Violent clashes began a week ago, following the death of Burhan Wani, 22, a commander in the separatist militia Hizbul Mujahideen, as I described in "14-Jul-16 World View -- Police clashes in India-governed Kashmir kill 36 and leaves thousands injured".

India has declared Wani to be a "terrorist," but now Pakistan is referring to Wani as a "martyr of the independence movement." This is an allusion to the desires of some groups to have an independent Kashmir, but most anti-India groups want Kashmir to be part of Pakistan. At any rate, the "martyr" designation is inflaming the violence in Kashmir.

Pakistan and India, including disputed Kashmir and Jammu, are in a generational Crisis era, 69 years past the massive 1947 genocidal war between Hindus and Sikhs versus Muslims that followed Partition, the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan. Being in a generational Crisis era means that the survivors of the last genocidal crisis war are all gone, and the generations in control today have no personal memory of the horrors of that war. This opens the way for a new genocidal war to begin, and it's possible that the current situation will spiral out of control into that situation. Al Jazeera

Nice France terror attack provokes desperate search for solutions

The number of terror attacks has been growing. In just the past month, there was a deadly July 7 shooting in Dallas, a massive terror attack in Dhaka on July 1, the Istanbul airport attack on June 28, and the mass shooting in Orlando on June 12.

The natural reaction by politicians to the situation is to look for ways to increase their own political power or get money, no matter what the effect on others. This is evident in moronic ideological "solutions to terrorism" that are being proposed. Here are some examples:

The attack in Nice France makes a mockery of all "solutions." It was perpetrated by a permanent resident of France, who lived in Nice with a job as a delivery driver. He was known to the police as a petty thief, but not as a terrorist. No one has claimed credit for the attack, so it may have been perpetrated entirely locally. He has an ex-wife and three kids, so that the attack might have been a way of getting revenge against his ex-wife. He comes from a well-to-do family in Tunisia, where his father was speaking to the press. He expressed shock that his son had perpetrated this act. He said that his son was mentally unstable, and that when he was off his meds he would become extremely angry and break things. So the Nice France attack might simply have been perpetrated by a madman.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, there is no solution to the terrorism problem. The rise of terrorism is organic, coming from young generations with limited, distorted views of the world. None of the above solutions would reach them. With the worldwide Muslim versus Muslim war growing, there's going to be more and more "spillover" into the West, and so the number of terrorist attacks will continue to increase. All of the "solutions" listed above only make things worse. AFP and CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Jul-16 World View -- Nice France terror attack provokes desperate search for solutions thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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15-Jul-16 World View -- After Brexit, London's real estate bubbles are collapsing

UK commercial real estate market hard hit by 'Brexit clauses'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

UK residential real estate market hit hard by Brexit


UK house prices, 1991 to present
UK house prices, 1991 to present

According to anecdotal evidence collected in a survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), indicates that the residential real estate market in the UK, especially in London, is crashing.

The findings have to be viewed with caution, since prices increased slightly in June, albeit more slowly than in the past. Since the Brexit referendum occurred on June 23, the June prices surveys don't tell us much.

But the findings that the RCIS announced on Thursday are considerably more dramatic, because they measure changes in buyer sentiment since the Brexit referendum:

According to RICS, the South of the UK has been the hardest hit, with anecdotal evidence suggesting that both the Brexit referendum and tax changes are having an impact on sentiment.

According to RICS, London remains the only region where respondents are seeing prices fall, with this largely being concentrated in the central zones. Near term price expectations are now in negative territory across the whole of the UK with 27% more respondents across the UK expecting to see prices fall rather than rise over the next three months.

RICS points out that only after the initial shock of the Brexit referendum has passed will we get a clearer picture of how the market is faring. Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Business Insider

The UK housing bubble may finally be collapsing

As the chart at the beginning of this article shows, UK housing prices are still at bubble levels. As I've written a number of times in the past, the global housing bubble began in 1996, at the same time as the "tech bubble," and accelerated in the 2000s, reaching a peak in 2007.

The housing bubble then deflated, causing what we now call "the financial crisis," but as the above chart illustrates, the global housing bubble did not fully deflate, and the housing bubble continues to this day.

According to a UBS report published last year, the global housing price increase was 130% from 1996 to 2007, but the subsequent price decline was only 30%. The UBS report blames this on the "gigantic cash injection" from central banks around the world, through quantitative easing and, today, negative interest rates. According to the report:

"Through quantitative easing, central banks have more than tripled the global monetary base since 2008. This gigantic cash injection has lowered real interest rates and slowed the global housing market corrections that began in 2007. The average price decline amounted to 30% in real terms. However, this did not offset the preceding price increase of 130% since the mid-1990s. The correction was thus milder than in previous cycles, setting the stage for today’s overheating housing markets.

When inexpensive financing is combined with bullish expectations, real estate prices eventually uncouple from the real economy. We have seen this in the current cycle, particularly in the world’s leading financial centers, where housing prices are now, in many cases, fundamentally unjustified. The risk of a real estate bubble in these cities has risen sharply. While it is not always possible to prove conclusively the existence of a bubble, it remains essential to identify the signs of one early on."

According to the report, the world's most expensive real estate market was London, though Hong Kong is not far behind. Many European cities, including Geneva and Amsterdam, are overvalued. In the United States, San Francisco is the most overvalued, with New York, Boston and Chicago trailing behind.

As I wrote in "25-Jun-16 World View -- Fallout from Brexit: Impact on geopolitics, economics, and stock markets", the danger is from a long-term crash because of a vicious cycle involving forced selling.

It's impossible to predict exactly when the London housing bubble will collapse, but it's 100% certain that it will collapse at some point, because every bubble in history has collapsed, usually causing enormous pain. It's possible that we're seeing the beginning of a major real estate collapse right now, but it's also possible that central banks will find a way to pour massive new amounts of liquidity into the real estate markets to keep the bubble going. After the "gigantic cash injection" described by the UBS report quoted above, central banks are not about to stop now. The sky's the limit.

One thing to watch out for is that there is a great deal of resistance among mainstream economists, politicians, journalists and analysts to even imagine a collapsing bubble.

We saw this ten years ago, when mainstream financial analysts, economists and journalists would say, "Housing prices can't go down -- people have to live somewhere!" and "Banks won't foreclose -- it's not in their interest to do so!" and "These housing construction firms know what they're doing, and they wouldn't be building houses if it were just a bubble!" It wasn't until 2009 that mainstream economists began saying that there had been a housing bubble years earlier. (See "26-Dec-2015 World View -- 'The Big Short' - an infuriating movie about the financial crisis")

So expect the usual slew of excuses from mainstream economists this time, and don't be surprised if, as usual, they don't have the vaguest clue what's coming. UBS Global Real Estate Bubble Index (2015-PDF) and Money Week (3-March-2016) and Bloomberg (6-April-2016)

UK commercial real estate market hard hit by 'Brexit clauses'

Since commercial real estate is often used for investments, Britain's commercial property market is being harder hit than the residential housing market.

Even before the June 23 referendum, some buyers wrote "Brexit clauses" into their contracts to purchase commercial real estate in Britain. These clauses, which are now being invoked, allow buyers to walk away from deals if the Brexit referendum passed, which it did.

Many commercial real estate investors do not plan to occupy the properties they acquire, but are purchasing them as investments. This is particularly true of Chinese property investors, who simply need a place to park their money.

Because of Brexit, many employees working in London may have their jobs moved to the continent. This means that there will be empty offices in London, reducing the value of these buildings to these Chinese investors.

Until the effects of Brexit are well understood, which may not be for two or more years, commercial real estate investors are looking for "safe havens" in other countries. Thus, London's loss could mean other cities' gain. Realtors in Canada, Australia and the US are pitching their countries as safe havens, as Chinese buyers view Britain as too risky. South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Jul-16 World View -- After Brexit, London's real estate bubbles are collapsing thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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14-Jul-16 World View -- Police clashes in India-governed Kashmir kill 36 and leaves thousands injured

Jammu-Kashmir violence follows a typical generational timeline after civil war

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Police clashes in India-governed Kashmir kill 36 and leaves thousands injured


Anti-Indian protesters clashing with Indian police in Srinagar in Kashmir
Anti-Indian protesters clashing with Indian police in Srinagar in Kashmir

Hospitals in Indian-controlled Kashmir are being overwhelmed with patients after four days of clashes between police separatist demonstrators. The protestors are demanding that two provinces, Kashmir and Jammu, separate from India and become part of Pakistan, because of the large Muslim population.

The violence was triggered on Friday when activist Burhan Wani, 22, was killed in a gunfight with the Indian Army. Wani was a division commander in Hizbul Mujahideen, a separatist organization, and was very popular with on social media. Hizbul Mujahideen is the largest activist organization fighting against Indian rule in the contested Jammu-Kashmir region.

India's army imposed a curfew on Saturday, but that drew out thousands of angry rock-throwing protesters defying the curfew. Indian army troops used live ammunition and pellet guns to try and quell the violence, which has continued for several days. A mob attacked a police station on Tuesday. Hospitals are being overwhelmed by the arrival of hundreds of wounded patients. In all, at least 36 people were killed, including one policemen, and thousands of people were injured.

With the strict curfew still in place, Kashmir was relatively quiet on Wednesday, despite the fact that it was the anniversary of "Martyrs' Day," when Kashmiris were killed by police firing on protesters on July 13, 1931. Tribune India and AP and Daily Times (Pakistan)

Jammu-Kashmir violence follows a typical generational timeline after civil war

Kashmir was a major battleground for the 1947 Partition war that followed the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan, one of the bloodiest wars of the last century. The Kashmir region was a particularly bloody site of the war between Hindus and Muslims, and it's still disputed, with an internationally recognized Line of Control (LoC) separating the regions currently governed by Pakistan from those governed by India.

As I've described in numerous countries that have been through a generational crisis civil war, there is a consistent pattern that such countries almost always follow.

About 20 years after the end of an ethnic civil war, a post-war generation comes of age. They have no personal memory of the war, and all they know is what they've heard from their parents and friends, so they have very limited information. The kids in this generation on each side know nothing of the atrocities their side committed, but know a lot about the atrocities committed against them by the other side. So the two sides of this generation come of age knowing two completely different sets of partial information.

So after 20 years, these young people start to rebel. This can take the form of anything from peaceful protests to violent riots to terrorist attacks. The governing authorities, usually from the side that won the war, fear a renewal of the civil war and react to the protests in various ways. At first, simple police actions work, at least for a while. In Thailand, the army is trying to control the "red shirt" indigenous Thais through coups and a constitutional referendum. In Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza is selectively killing, torturing and jailing Tutsi opponents. In Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe conducted wholesale slaughter of the Ndebele opponents. In Syria, Bashar al-Assad is currently conducting wholesale slaughter of Sunni opponents. In Bangladesh, "the Sheikh Hasina Government has decimated the leadership of established Islamist terrorist formations and their sympathetic institutions," according to one analysis, and arrested over 3,000 people in a sweep last month.

Jammu-Kashmir has following the same pattern. There were constant protests and brief conflicts between Indians and Pakistani Muslims, ending in agreements for peace that lasted weeks or months before low-level violence began again, with each new round of violence worse than the last.

The relatively small protests of the Recovery and Awakening eras became widespread protests and an armed insurgency that began following a disputed election in 1987, as JK entered its generational Unraveling era.

In 1989, Hizbul Mujahideen was formed. Although it was funded and supported by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, the important fact from the point of view of Generational Dynamics is that it quickly became extremely popular, with thousands of members by the early 1990s. Hizbul Mujahideen has been riven by splintering and internal conflicts, but there are today thousands of anti-India protesters in Indian-governed Kashmir.

There are numerous stories in the press suggesting ways to "solve the core problems" in Jammu-Kashmir. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, no such solutions exist, and there will be continue to be clashes in the future. These solutions completely miss the point. They suggest that some politician pursue peace talks or something similar. That's always the easy suggestion from people who have no clue what's going on. These protests are not coming from politicians. They're growing organically from the population, and no politician can either cause them or stop them. Generational Dynamics predicts that Muslims and Hindus will have a full-scale war, re-fighting the 1947 Partition war that followed the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan. The Hindu and Greater Kashmir and SATP (India) and The News (Pakistan)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Jul-16 World View -- Police clashes in India-governed Kashmir kill 36 and leaves thousands injured thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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13-Jul-16 World View -- Philippines humiliates China in harsh Hague Tribunal ruling over South China Sea

Tribunal ruling eviscerates China's 'Nine-Dash Line' claims

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

UN Court issues harsh ruling condemning China and affirming the Philippines


Cheering Filipina girls on Tuesday after hearing the Tribunal announcement (AP)
Cheering Filipina girls on Tuesday after hearing the Tribunal announcement (AP)

China was deeply humiliated and infuriated on Tuesday by the announcement that the hated Philippines had beaten them in a major court case on the South China Sea. It wasn't a simple "on balance" victory for the Philippines. It was a ruling by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague where the Philippines had thoroughly thrashed China. The court found that China's claims to the Spratly Islands were invalid, that China's activities in the Spratly Islands were violations of international law and destructive of the environment, and furthermore that China had repeatedly and willfully violated the Philippines' own Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), putting the lives of Philippines fishermen in danger.

The Chinese and Filipino people are long-time war enemies who hold each other in contempt. In this generational Crisis era, the two countries are both highly nationalistic. There is a great deal of international concern right now that the Filipino people will gloat and that China will act like a trapped animal and will use its vast military power to strike back in some way that will lead to war.

There is now a worldwide diplomatic search for some kind of face-saving solution. One thing is for sure: The ruling did not settle the South China Sea issue, and probably made it worse. South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and VOA and Guardian (London)

Tribunal ruling eviscerates China's 'Nine-Dash Line' claims

China's famous "Nine-Dash Line" claims -- a Chinese map with line consisting of nine long dashes that encompasses the entire South China Sea, including regions historically belonging to other countries -- was completely eviscerated by the ruling.

The following are some excerpts from the "Conclusion" section of the ruling:

"D. CONCLUSION

The Tribunal considers it beyond dispute that both Parties are obliged to comply with the Convention, including its provisions regarding the resolution of disputes, and to respect the rights and freedoms of other States under the Convention. ...

[The Tribunal] DECLARES that, as between the Philippines and China, China’s claims to historic rights, or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction, with respect to the maritime areas of the South China Sea encompassed by the relevant part of the ‘nine-dash line’ are contrary to the Convention and without lawful effect to the extent that they exceed the geographic and substantive limits of China’s maritime entitlements under the Convention.

[The Tribunal] DECLARES that Scarborough Shoal, Gaven Reef (North), McKennan Reef, Johnson Reef, Cuarteron Reef, and Fiery Cross Reef, in their natural condition, are rocks that cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own, and accordingly that [they] generate no entitlement to an exclusive economic zone or continental shelf.

[The Tribunal] FINDS that none of the high-tide features in the Spratly Islands, in their natural condition, are capable of sustaining human habitation or economic life of their own ...; that none of the high-tide features in the Spratly Islands generate entitlements to an exclusive economic zone or continental shelf; and that therefore there is no entitlement to an exclusive economic zone or continental shelf generated by any feature claimed by China that would overlap the entitlements of the Philippines in the area of Mischief Reef and Second Thomas Shoal; and DECLARES that Mischief Reef and Second Thomas Shoal are within the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of the Philippines.

[The Tribunal] FINDS that, in May 2013, fishermen from Chinese flagged vessels engaged in fishing within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone at Mischief Reef and Second Thomas Shoal; and that China, through the operation of its marine surveillance vessels, was aware of, tolerated, and failed to exercise due diligence to prevent such fishing by Chinese flagged vessels; and that therefore China has failed to exhibit due regard for the Philippines’ sovereign rights with respect to fisheries in its exclusive economic zone; and DECLARES that China has breached its obligations under Article 58(3) of the Convention;

[The Tribunal] FINDS that Scarborough Shoal has been a traditional fishing ground for fishermen of many nationalities and DECLARES that China has, through the operation of its official vessels at Scarborough Shoal from May 2012 onwards, unlawfully prevented fishermen from the Philippines from engaging in traditional fishing at Scarborough Shoal.

[The Tribunal] FINDS, with respect to the protection and preservation of the marine environment in the South China Sea: that fishermen from Chinese flagged vessels have engaged in the harvesting of endangered species on a significant scale; that fishermen from Chinese flagged vessels have engaged in the harvesting of giant clams in a manner that is severely destructive of the coral reef ecosystem; and that China was aware of, tolerated, protected, and failed to prevent the aforementioned harmful activities.

[The Tribunal] FINDS further that China’s land reclamation and construction of artificial islands, installations, and structures at Cuarteron Reef, Fiery Cross Reef, Gaven Reef (North), Johnson Reef, Hughes Reef, Subi Reef, and Mischief Reef has caused severe, irreparable harm to the coral reef ecosystem; that China has not cooperated or coordinated with the other States bordering the South China Sea concerning the protection and preservation of the marine environment concerning such activities; and that China has failed to communicate an assessment of the potential effects of such activities on the marine environment, within the meaning of Article 206 of the Convention.

[The Tribunal] DECLARES that China has breached its obligations ... with respect to China’s construction of artificial islands, installations, and structures at Mischief Reef: FINDS that China has engaged in the construction of artificial islands, installations, and structures at Mischief Reef without the authorization of the Philippines; and DECLARES that China has breached Articles 60 and 80 of the Convention with respect to the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

[The Tribunal] FINDS, with respect to the operation of Chinese law enforcement vessels in the vicinity of Scarborough Shoal: that China’s operation of its law enforcement vessels on 28 April 2012 and 26 May 2012 created serious risk of collision and danger to Philippine ships and personnel; and DECLARES that China has breached its obligations under Article 94 of the Convention; and that, during the time in which these dispute resolution proceedings were ongoing, China: a. has built a large artificial island on Mischief Reef, a low-tide elevation located in the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines; b. has caused—through its land reclamation and construction of artificial islands, installations, and structures—severe, irreparable harm to the coral reef ecosystem ...; and has permanently destroyed—through its land reclamation and construction of artificial islands, installations, and structures—evidence of the natural condition of Mischief Reef, Cuarteron Reef, Fiery Cross Reef, Gaven Reef (North), Johnson Reef, Hughes Reef, and Subi Reef.

Part of China's claim to the South China Sea was a kind of leapfrogging from island to island. China would claim one island close to the mainland, then claim another island is close to the first island, and so forth, across the South China Sea.

The Tribunal ruling was that these so-called islands are not islands. They're simply uninhabited rocks, and so they do not qualify to be claimed by anyone.

The ruling makes the following points:

Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling and Russia Today

China reacts angrily to the Tribunal ruling


Chinese media graphic: 'The farce should come to an end'
Chinese media graphic: 'The farce should come to an end'

Here are some excerpts from China's Foreign Ministry statement:

"First, the South China Sea arbitration is completely a political farce staged under legal pretext. ...

Its purpose is clearly not to seek proper settlement of disputes with China, but to violate China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests and put peace and stability in the South China Sea in jeopardy.

The arbitration was conducted according to unwarranted procedure and application of law, and was based on flawed evidence and facts. Such as it is, it will never be accepted by the Chinese people. Nor will it be recognized by anyone in the world who stands on the side of justice. ...

the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China solemnly declares that the award is null and void and has no binding force. China neither accepts nor recognizes it."

China's Global Times contained a bitter, vitriolic editorial:

"If the award were to be followed, China would be left with only a few isolated spots in the Nansha [Spratly] Islands without entitlement to any EEZ and could even be deprived of sovereignty of the waters surrounding the islands and islets. The majority of the Nansha Islands waters would be taken up by the EEZs claimed by the Philippines and Vietnam. Besides, China could not continue with its island construction. The existing facilities might be dismantled by these two countries if they could. With the related resources being owned by Manila and Hanoi in the future, China would have to withdraw its business and other activities from the area.

This not only outrageously denies China's historic rights in the Nansha area and its legitimate maritime interests, but also overthrows the state of de facto control in the region including the Huangyan Island waters. This is ridiculous. The verdict has brazenly violated China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights."

State television reacted to the ruling by showing a documentary showcasing China's military might. China's Foreign Ministry and Global Times (Beijing) and China's Foreign Ministry

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Jul-16 World View -- Philippines humiliates China in harsh Hague Tribunal ruling over South China Sea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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12-Jul-16 World View -- Japan's election opens the way to repeal 'pacifism' constitution clause

Increasingly angry China rams Vietnamese boat as tribunal ruling expected

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Increasingly angry China rams Vietnamese boat as tribunal ruling expected


Nguyen Thi Nang (L) sits next to a radio operator, waiting for news from her husband, captain Vo Van Luu, after his boat was reportedly sunk by Chinese vessels in the South China Sea
Nguyen Thi Nang (L) sits next to a radio operator, waiting for news from her husband, captain Vo Van Luu, after his boat was reportedly sunk by Chinese vessels in the South China Sea

In what is likely to be increasingly a sign of things to come, Chinese vessels on Saturday rammed a Vietnamese fishing boat and sank it, and then prevented another Vietnamese ship from rescuing the crew members, as they clung to the sinking ship to keep from drowning. The five crew members were in the waters for over six hours before the Chinese ships left, permitting another Vietnamese ship to rescue the crew. The incident took place in waters that have been fished by Vietnam for centuries.

China's rhetoric has become increasingly panicky, even publicly releasing 'evidence' that turns out to be delusional. ( "22-Jun-16 World View -- China's 'ironclad proof' of South China Sea claims revealed as hoax")

The rhetoric has worsened approaching July 12, when the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague will issue its long-awaited 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 does not apply to them. ( "7-Jul-16 World View -- South China Sea tension set to escalate after July 12 arbitration ruling")

Here's a typical Chinese media news story:

"On the South China Sea issue, some Western media have spared no efforts to make "news", tapping lies to cover the truth and misguide public opinions thereon, which is considered by experts and scholars to be unfair and misleading. ...

A quick glimpse of the website of the U.S. magazine The National Interest shows that there are quite a number of articles concerning the South China Sea, including ones titled "China's Reckless South China Sea Strategy Won't Work", and "China's Bogus South China Sea Consensus", among others

Almost all of these headlines are biased in opinion and exaggeratedly worded, without uttering the least responsible words as a magazine in a big media country.

Japan's The Diplomat, America's Business Insider and the Washington Post have frequently mentioned in their reports that China intends to turn the South China Sea into its "internal lake" or "a Chinese lake".

In doing so, they just turned a blind eye to the fact that the South China Sea islands have been part of the Chinese territory under international law and since ancient times, and played up sensational concepts in a bid to wrench the facts and misguide their readers.

Some media even simply fabricate stories in order to smear China, attempting to impress their readers that the situation is tense in the disputed waters."

There's a real hysterical quality to this situation. Assuming that the tribunal rules in favor of the Philippines, the tribunal has no way to enforce any decision it issues, so China can just ignore the ruling, which it has already said it would do. But having already rammed Vietnamese boats, manufactured evidence and made fantastical claims, China is in an extremely emotional and dangerous state, and this may have consequences. Sky News (Australia) and Tuoi Tre News (Vietnam) and Xinhua

Japan's election opens the way to repeal 'pacifism' constitution clause

Japan prime minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) won a resounding election victory on Sunday that opens the door for Abe to get Japan's constitution amended to remove the "pacifism" clause, as I wrote three days ago.

The LDP, along with its coalition partner Komeito, now has a two-thirds "supermajority" in both the upper and lower houses of the Diet (parliament). This gives Abe the votes to amend the consitution.

The pacifism clause forbids any military action by the Japanese except in self-defense on Japanese soil. For Abe, amending this clause is personal, in that he's following in the path of his grandfather, Kishi Nobusuke, who served as prime minister of Japan from 1957-60. Kishi disliked the pacifism clause because it made Japan too dependent on the United States, and he wanted Japan to be completely self-reliant in national defense. For Abe, amending this clause would fulfill his grandfather's wish.

However, even with a super-majority in both houses of the Diet, removing the pacifism clause will be very difficult because of widespread opposition to doing so. An exit poll indicates that the country is deeply divided on this issue, with 36% of the voters opposing the change and 29.6% supporting it, with 34.4% undecided.

Those who support the change do so because of growing fears about terrorism, North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons ambitions and China’s military assertiveness, while those who oppose it take pride in the war-renouncing pledge. Japan Today and Japan Times

US will send 560 more troops to Iraq

In yet another flip-flop, the Obama administration announced that it will send another 560 US troops to Iraq, to fight the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter made the announcement on Monday during a surprise visit to Iraq.

This will bring the number of US troops in Iraq to about 6,000, including those on temporary assignment. This is a reversal for President Obama, who promised to withdraw all troops from Iraq, and did so in December 2011. Since then, Iraq's situation has continued to deteriorate, and Obama has been forced to abandon his campaign promises and send troops back to Iraq. One month ago, Obama also further abandoned his campaign promises to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. ( "11-Jun-16 World View -- In a reversal, Obama allows US troops in Afghanistan in combat roles")

The US troops will be part of an effort to recapture Raqqa, ISIS' self-declared capital, and Mosul from ISIS. ISIS has occupied Mosul since June 2014.

According to one analyst, retired Marine general Anthony Zinni,

"Reading between the lines, I suspect that he has some major commitments from the Iraqis, Kurds, and Syrian opposition to go for the gold. ... I also suspect that Carter is convinced that Mosul and Raqqa are isolated. It sounds like he will use this to pressure regional allies to step up their contributions."

Zinni was commander of all US forces in the region as chief of U.S. Central Command from 1997 to 2000. Washington Post and Time

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Jul-16 World View -- Japan's election opens the way to repeal 'pacifism' constitution clause thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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11-Jul-16 World View -- Fears that renewed South Sudan tribal fighting could spiral into larger war

Generational history of South Sudan and Dinka-Nuer clashes

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Fears that renewed South Sudan tribal fighting could spiral into larger war


South Sudan army forces stand at attention, April 14, 2016 (AFP)
South Sudan army forces stand at attention, April 14, 2016 (AFP)

Fresh clashes have broken out between rival forces from the Dinka and Nuer tribes in South Sudan in the last few days, killing hundreds of civilians, and forcing thousands from their homes. Although low-level violence has been a constant since South Sudan became independent in 2011, there were major clashes that began in December 2013. ( "29-Dec-2013 World View -- Conflicts grow in South Sudan and Central African Republic") There followed 21 months of atrocities, until they were supposedly ended by a peace treaty that was signed by both sides in August 2015.

New reports indicate that several Nuer armies are now heading towards the capital city Juba, and there are fears of a wider war. The United Nations said it was "outraged" at what was happening:

"The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is outraged at the resumption of violence in Juba today [...], which is severely impacting on the civilian population."

According to UNMISS, there is heavy fighting in downtown Juba. Other reports indicate the use of artillery, warplanes, and helicopter gunships. The UN Security Council on Saturday passed a resolution strongly condemning the fighting in Juba.

After the 2011 war that gave South Sudan independence from Sudan, a Transitional Government of National Unity was formed. The president is President Salva Kiir, from the Dinka tribe, and the vice president is Riek Machar, from the Nuer tribe. Both tribes had been united in facing a common enemy in their fight for independence from Sudan, but they turned on each other and started an ethnic conflict after the war.

The clashes in December 2013 were triggered when Dinka president Salva Kiir fired his cabinet and accused the Nuer vice-president Riek Machar of planning a coup. Machar fled the country, and the fighting displaced more than 2.2 million people before the August 2015 peace agreement was signed.

In April 2016, Machar returned to South Sudan to rejoin the Unity Government as vice president. However, Machar's spokesman is now saying the South Sudan is "back to war." Radio Tamazuj (South Sudan) and BBC and Al Jazeera

Generational history of South Sudan and Dinka-Nuer clashes

When Sudan became independent in 1956, the north was largely Muslim, Arabic speaking, while the southern population mostly followed tribal religions. The Khartoum government in the north launched a program to "Arabize and Islamize the South." This triggered a reaction from Christian evangelists, mostly from the US, to come to Sudan and convert the South to Christianity.

There was immediately a north-south war of independence, but there was also a generational crisis civil war between the Nuer and Dinka tribes. This was climaxed on November 15, 1991, when the "Bor Massacre" began. Over the next three months, 2,000 civilians were killed, thousands more wounded, at least 100,000 people fled the area. Famine followed the massacre, as looters burnt villages and raided cattle, resulting in the deaths of 25,000 more from starvation.

The nightmare scenario is that the new clashes will spiral into a repeat of the 1991 Bor Massacre. But from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, South Sudan is in a generational Awakening era, so a historic massacre of this type will not occur.

However, there certainly is a great deal of ethnic hatred between the Nuers and the Dinkas. Evidently, the level of ethnic hatred exceeds that of the Hutus and the Tutsis in Rwanda, following their 1994 genocidal ethnic bloodbath. Nonetheless, in this generational Awakening era, we can expect to see repeated clashes between Nuers and Dinkas, separated by peace agreements that fall apart in a few weeks or months. But a full-scale ethnic civil war is not expected at this time. Radio Tamazuj (South Sudan 23-Dec-2013) and Sudan Tribune (31-Aug-2007) and BBC (28-Sep-2015) and ECC Platform (2014)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Jul-16 World View -- Fears that renewed South Sudan tribal fighting could spiral into larger war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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10-Jul-16 World View -- Violence resurges in Central African Republic's crisis civil war

European Union will pay Sudan's militias to block migration to Europe

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Violence resurges in Central African Republic's crisis civil war


United Nations in Chad registering refugees fleeing from violence in Chad (UNHCR)
United Nations in Chad registering refugees fleeing from violence in Chad (UNHCR)

More than 6,000 people from the Central African Republic's northwest Ouham-Pendé province, near the border with Cameroon, have fled into Cameroon and Chad to escape resurging violence between Muslim Seleka militias and Christian anti-balaka militias.

Last year, United Nations officials had hoped that a visit by the Pope in November, and the election of a new president, Faustin-Archange Touadéra, in December, would bring an end to the violence between Muslims and Christians in Central African Republic (CAR). Touadéra has been trying to reconcile Christians and Muslims. He was even seen celebrating the end of Ramadan with Muslims in the capital city Bangui.

The hope was that Christians whose villages were burned to the ground by Muslim militias, and Muslims whose families were raped, murdered and dismembered by Christian militias, will all put aside any desire for revenge, thanks to the soothing words of the Pope and the charismatic hope and change statements of the new president. Apparently it didn't work.

This year alone, some 25,000-30,000 people have been internally displaced, forced to flee from their homes. But the flood of refugees into neighboring countries began on June 12, when clashes erupted between Muslim livestock herders and Christian farmers north-west town of Ngaoundaye, in Ouham-Pendé province.

Battles between farmers and herders occur in country after country, as I've described many times in Central African Republic, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Sudan, and even America in the 1800s. The farmers accuse the herders of letting the cattle eat their crops, while the herders accuse the farmers of planting on land that's meant for grazing. If the farmers put up fences, then the herders knock them down.

The CAR sectarian war began in March 2013, when François Bozizé, the Christian former president of CAR, was ousted in a coup in March 2013 by Michel Djotodia, a Muslim, who became president and served until January 2014.

After Djotodia's coup took place in March 2013, Muslim Seleka militias began committing atrocities, particularly targeting the Christian constituencies of the deposed François Bozizé. In December 2013, French Foreign Legion peacekeeping troops arrived to disarm the Seleka militias.

But then the Christian anti-balaka militias "rushed into the vacuum," and began committing atrocities in 2014, for revenge against the Selekas. Since then, both Christians and Muslims have been committing atrocities, and it's become a full-scale generational crisis war. Thousands have been killed, and millions have been displaced.

As I've explained in the past, CAR's last generational crisis war was the 1928-1931 Kongo-Wara Rebellion ("War of the Hoe Handle"), which was a very long time ago, putting CAR today deep into a generational Crisis era, where a new crisis civil war has already started.

Many people had been hoping that the UN peacekeeping force, the Pope's visit, the election of a new president would somehow combine to tranquilize the fighting and end the civil war. However, the Pope's visit was to the capital city Bangui, the new president is sitting in Bangui, with little control over the rest of the country, and the peacekeeping force is just in Bangui, and has been only partially successful in keeping the peace there. Bangui is a tiny dot on the map of an enormous country that's now completely lawless, with two militias in large populations seeking revenge.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is a generational crisis war, and it will not end until a lot of scores get settled with some kind of massive bloody, genocidal climax that will be remembered for decades. And CAR is nowhere close to that point yet. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Deutsche Welle and VOA

In Darfur Sudan, genocidal violence continues after 13 years of civil war

The huge civil war in Darfur, Sudan, was much in the news ten years ago. In 2007, just as President Bush was launching the "surge" that ended the violence in Iraq, Senator Joe Biden called for a complete withdrawal of all American troops from Iraq, and then use those troops to launch an invasion into Sudan to put an end to the Darfur war. "Let's stop the bleeding," Biden said. "I think it's a moral imperative." (From April 2007: "Senator Joe Biden wants to move troops from Iraq to Darfur civil war")

In fact, the Darfur civil war has many things in common with the CAR civil war.

Low level violence began in the 1970s between two ethnic groups, one of farmers (the "Africans") and the other of camel herders (the "Arabs"), in the usual disputes over land and water. The violence increased from year to year, and in the 1990s, Sudan's government in Khartoum delegated the responsibility of policing the region to the Arab Janjaweed militias, formed from certain groups of herders.

Violence continued to increase, and by 2003, it had turned into a full-scale generational crisis war. (A detailed history can be found in my 2007 article, "Ban Ki Moon blames Darfur genocide on global warming") At that point, under direction of the new president Omar al-Bashir, the Janjaweed militias (herders) became extremely violent, with a program of massacres, mass murders, rapes, genocide and scorched earth.

Today, al-Bashir has renamed the Janjaweed militias as the Rapid Support Force (RSF), and they are still committing genocide in Darfur, although that violence isn't in news much anymore, as it was in the days when Joe Biden took an interest in it. As in the case of CAR, the war will not end until a lot of scores get settled with some kind of massive bloody, genocidal climax that will be remembered for decades. Sudan Tribune and World Policy Institute (30-Mar)

European Union will pay Sudan's militias to block migration to Europe

The European Commission has issued a draft proposal to provide €100 million in aid to the militaries of some African countries, who will be asked to use the money to prevent migration of refugees to Libya and then on to Europe.

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 all the time.

A particular beneficiary of the EU's aid program will be Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir, and his government militia, the Rapid Support Force (RSF), led by a former leader of the Janjaweed militias general Mohamed Hamdan Hametti. Hametti will send around 1,000 RSF troops along the border with Libya. Both al-Bashir and Hametti are considered to be guilty of human rights crimes and genocidal violence against civilians in the Darfur civil war. EU Observer

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Jul-16 World View -- Violence resurges in Central African Republic's crisis civil war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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9-Jul-16 World View -- Nato deploying a 'tripwire' of 4,000 soldiers along Russia's border

Japan's elections put constitution's pacifism clause into question

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Japan's elections put constitution's pacifism clause into question


Shinzo Abe campaigning for Sunday's elections (Kyodo)
Shinzo Abe campaigning for Sunday's elections (Kyodo)

On Sunday, Japan will hold parliamentary elections for half the seats in Japan's upper house. There is a possibility (far from a certainty) that the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will, along with its coalition partner Komeito, get a two-thirds supermajority in the upper house. LDP, which is led by prime minister Shinzo Abe, already has a two-thirds supermajority in the lower house.

Japan's constitution may be amended only by a two-thirds vote of both houses of the Diet (parliament). So if Abe gets his desired supermajority in both houses, then his LDP party could amend the constitution.

And Abe has said repeatedly in the past that what he'd like to change is the "self-defense" clause of the constitution, that prohibits Japan's armed forces from being involved in military actions except in self-defense. Here is the text of the actual clause, as written by an American team led by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who had led the American forces to victory of Japan in World War II:

"CHAPTER II - RENUNCIATION OF WAR

Article 9. Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.

In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized."

The movement to amend the self-defense clause has gathered steam in the last ten years, primarily motivated by the rise of China and in particular China's military threats against the Senkaku Islands, which are governed by Japan.

In 2015, Japan adopted new "collective defense" laws, partially departing from the pacifism in the constitution. The old self-defense clause of the constitution has been interpreted to permit military action only when Japan itself is being attacked, and only on Japanese soil. The new collective defense laws reinterpret the self-defense clause to include "collective self-defense," which would permit military action anywhere in the world under some circumstances when an ally (such as the United States) is attacked. I discussed the meaning of "collective self-defense" in detail in 2014 in "5-May-2014 World View -- Japan debates 'collective self-defense' to protect America and Japan".

Amending the self-defense clause is extremely controversial in Japan, so much so that Abe isn't even talking about in his campaigning, choosing to focus instead on the economy. That may be an even greater risk, because Japan's economy has not been doing well, and some people blame the weakness of Abe's "Abenomics" program of massive stimulus through monetary easing, fiscal stimulus and structural reforms. The goal was to reach 2% inflation, but instead Japan remains in a deflationary spiral. Perhaps the only good news for Abe is that deflation is a worldwide phenomenon, so it can't be blamed specifically on him. Japan Times and Constitution of Japan and Manila Times and CNBC

Nato deploying a 'tripwire' of 4,000 soldiers along Russia's border

At an annual summit meeting in Warsaw Poland on Friday, Nato announced that it will deploy four multinational battalions of 1,000 soldiers each, in each of four countries -- Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The deployment will take place in six to nine months.

These four countries have been urgently requesting such a deployment for years, especially since Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea. These countries are nervous that Russia's president Vladimir Putin will order his army to do the same kind of thing to one or all of them.

The four battalions will come from four different Nato countries: the United States, Germany, Canada and the United Kingdom.

It will not be possible to defend against an invasion by Russia's massive army with just 4,000 soldiers. However, this "tripwire" force will almost certainly deter Russia from invading. In Ukraine, Russia's forces were able to just walk in and take over, especially in Crimea, with little or no resistance. But Russia won't be able to do the same in Poland or the Balkans because it would amount to a declaration of war against Nato, which even Vladimir Putin would probably like to avoid. Radio Poland and France 24 and Nato Joint Resolution and CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Jul-16 World View -- Nato deploying a 'tripwire' of 4,000 soldiers along Russia's border thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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8-Jul-16 World View -- Hard issues prevent full reconciliation between Turkey and Russia

Turkey's reconciliation with Egypt appears to be unlikely

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Hard issues prevent full reconciliation between Turkey and Russia


Erdogan addresses the United Nations General Assembly on Sept 24, 2014
Erdogan addresses the United Nations General Assembly on Sept 24, 2014

In May, Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, who said that Turkey would "increase the number of friends we have and decrease the number of enemies." That was the precursor to a flurry of diplomatic activity in June, where Turkey effected a reconciliation with both Israel and Russia.

Russia imposed sanctions on Turkey after Turkish warplanes unexpectedly shot down a Russian warplane near the border with Syria, after the Russian aircraft had been warned several times that it was violating Turkish airspace. ( "25-Nov-15 World View -- Turkey shoots down Russian warplane, evoking memories of many Crimean wars")

The sanctions have been harsh. Turkey was a major vacation for Russian tourists, and tourism was cut off, resulting in $3.5 billion in losses. Russia's exports to Turkey decreased by 43%, and imports from Turkey decreased by 85%.

Russia's president Vladimir Putin had repeatedly demanded that Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan apologize for shooting down Russia's warplane, and also financially compensate the Russian pilot who was killed. Erdogan has repeatedly used highly nationalistic language to refuse to apologize.

On June 27, it was announced that Erdogan had sent a "letter of apology" to Putin. It turned out that the apology was something of a finesse -- Erdogan did not apologize for shooting down a Russian warplane in Turkey's airspace, but he did apologize to the family of the dead Russian pilot. Separately, Erdogan has also agreed to pay compensation to the family.

In response, Russia lifted the restrictions on tourists visiting Turkey, and there's talk of removing the sanctions on trade. However, economic factors are only a partial explanation for the reconciliation.

Although the shooting down of the Russian warplane triggered the fierce split in relations, tensions had been building over the war in Syria. Turkey was finding Syria's president Bashar al-Assad increasingly intolerable because of his continuing genocidal massacres of innocent Sunni civilians in Syria. Russia, on the other hand, considered al-Assad to be a vital ally. Turkey had helped to fund some moderate "rebel" opposition groups fighting against al-Assad, while Russian warplanes targeted and bombed the groups that Turkey supported, and avoided bombing militias from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

An even more serious problem is the role of the Kurds. The Kurds in Turkey have been fighting an insurrection for decades, and Turkey considers all the Kurds in the region to be working with the terrorist group Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Both the United States and Russia have supported the Kurds in Syria and Iraq in their roles fighting ISIS.

Turkey has suffered a series of devastating terror attacks in the last year, the worst of which was the attack on the Ataturk National Airport in Istanbul on June 28. These attacks were perpetrated by both ISIS and the PKK, but Turkey has become increasingly isolated internationally, and has received little sympathy for these terror attacks.

It was this situation that led to the promise by Turkey's prime minister to "increase the number of friends we have and decrease the number of enemies."

As long-time readers are aware, Generational Dynamics predicts that in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, Russia, India and Iran will be allied with the West, while Turkey and the Sunni Arabs will be allied with the Pakistan and China. ( "15-Jul-2015 World View -- Arab views of Iran nuclear deal")

So from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, a complete reconciliation between Turkey and Russia is very strongly counter-trend, and so is unlikely to last long. This should not be surprising in view of the generational crisis wars the two have fought over the centuries. And it also should not be surprising in view of the numerous issues that still deeply divide the two countries, in both Syria and in the Caucasus. Jamestown and Tass (Moscow 27-June) and Hurriyet (Ankara 27-June) and CS Monitor

Turkey's reconciliation with Egypt appears to be unlikely

After reconciling with Russia and Israel, many are suggesting that Turkey should now reconcile with Egypt, possibly even using Israel as a mediator. Saudi Arabia, a staunch Turkish ally and a main backer of Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, is interested in seeing the two countries reconcile.

Turkey broke relations with Egypt as a result of the 2013 military coup led by the current president, Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi, against the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood (MB) government led by Mohammed Morsi, putting Morsi and thousands of MB members in jail.

Once again, it was Turkey's prime minister Binali Yildirim who set the tone:

"From Russia to Israel, Egypt to Syria, Iraq to Iran, EU countries to the U.S., we are determined to develop peaceful, friendly and practical ties with everyone. We will keep doing this."

Burhanettin Duran, a Turkish official, announced that a working group would go to Egypt to discuss a plan to normalize relations.

However, the Muslim Brotherhood has close relations with Turkey's governing Justice and Development Party (AKP), led by Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan suggested earlier this week that reconciliation with Egypt might not be possible while al-Sisi is in power:

"The problem with Egypt is an issue with its administration, especially with its ruler. It is not possible for us to say 'yes' to who tyrannizes the Morsi administration.

The context with Egypt is different from the approaches undertaken with Russia and Israel. ... Sentences handed down to Morsi and his friends have been based on fabrications.

We do not approve of these decisions. ... All of these people in Egypt are our brothers and approving the stance taken against Morsi and his friends would put us in an awkward position as Muslims, as humans and as people who believe in democracy."

However, AKP deputy leader Saban DiSli said that after the reconciliation with Israel and Russia, "God willing ties with Egypt will also ease." Daily Sabah (Ankara) and Egyptian Streets and Al Bawaba (Palestine)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Jul-16 World View -- Hard issues prevent full reconciliation between Turkey and Russia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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7-Jul-16 World View -- South China Sea tension set to escalate after July 12 arbitration ruling

Obama flip-flops again on Afghanistan

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

South China Sea tension set to escalate after July 12 arbitration ruling


3,000 boat Chinese fishing fleet on Sept 16, 2013 (Xinhua)
3,000 boat Chinese fishing fleet on Sept 16, 2013 (Xinhua)

The United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague has announced that on July 12 it will issue its long-awaited 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 does not apply to them.

China has said it will ignore any ruling of the tribunal. It's saying that because it knows it will lose. Indeed, a BBC investigation of some of China's evidence has been shown to be delusional, and possibly a complete fabrication. ( "22-Jun-16 World View -- China's 'ironclad proof' of South China Sea claims revealed as hoax")

According to an editorial in the China state media Global Times:

"As the result of the international arbitration over the South China Sea dispute approaches, China is undertaking a military drill from July 5 to 11 in the waters around the Xisha Islands. ...

The South China Sea dispute has been greatly complicated after heavy US intervention. Now an international tribunal has also been included, posing more threat to the integrity of China's maritime and territorial sovereignty.

Regardless of the principle that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) shall not arbitrate on territorial disputes, the arbitration becomes nothing but a farce. But the US could use it to impose more pressure on China, causing more tensions in the South China Sea.

Washington has deployed two carrier battle groups around the South China Sea, and it wants to send a signal by flexing its muscles: As the biggest powerhouse in the region, it awaits China's obedience.

China should speed up building its military capabilities of strategic deterrence. Even though China cannot keep up with the US militarily in the short-term, it should be able to let the US pay a cost it cannot stand if it intervenes in the South China Sea dispute by force.

China is a peace-loving country and deals with foreign relations with discretion, but it won't flinch if the US and its small clique keep encroaching on its interests on its doorstep.

China hopes disputes can be resolved by talks, but it must be prepared for any military confrontation. This is common sense in international relations."

The "heavy US intervention" refers to America's "freedom of navigation" patrols in the South China Sea. Some $5 trillion in trade passes through the South China Sea on ships each year, including $1.2 trillion of US trade. China has flip-flopped among various positions and threats in the past few years, and some statements in the past have threatened to block international traffic, or at least to require permission of Chinese authorities to traverse the South China Sea. So the US has responded with the freedom of navigation patrols.

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 military is in a highly emotional, irrational and nationalistic state, which makes them very dangerous. They believe that the US has been weakened by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and too anxious to risk another war. This is a major historic mistake that they will regret. They claim to be "peace loving," but the way the world works is that every leader goes to war by claiming to be "peace loving," and blaming the other side. The July 12 ruling will only increase their anxieties.

Some analysts are pointing out that occupying the South China Sea is an existential need for China and for its neighbors. China, Vietnam and the Philippines have high population densities and comparatively low amounts of arable land, further magnifying the importance of food sources outside traditional crops. Food security is an existential threat to all of these countries. For China, taking control of all the fish stocks in the South China Sea is seen as a necessity, and so China sees the need to control access to the South China Sea by other nations.

So all the talk about being "peace-loving" is really irrelevant. China will go to war if that's the only way to prevent Vietnam and the Philippines from fishing in the South China Sea. Out of desperation, Vietnam and the Philippines will see China's military actions as an existential threat, and an attempt to starve their own people. The July 12 ruling will raise anxieties on all sides, and move the region closer to war. Global Times (Beijing) and Jamestown and The Diplomat

Obama flip-flops again on Afghanistan

President Barack Obama flip-flopped again on Wednesday. There are currently 9,800 American troops in Afghanistan, and Obama announced that 8,400 troops would be left in Afghanistan when he leaves office, rather than 5,500. The Taliban are gaining control of large areas of the country, defeating the indigenous Afghan army repeatedly, and Obama is under pressure to reverse himself again on his withdrawal plans. The 8,400 figure is apparently a completely meaningless political number, less than 9,800 so he can claim he's still withdrawing, but large enough to provide cover until he can leave office. It's all pretty cynical.

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 one 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.

By coincidence, Obama's announcement comes on the same day that Britain is releasing the "Chilcot report," a massive condemnation of the roles of the US and Britain for the Iraq war. Thus, it's interesting to compare the media attitude towards Bush's apparent lies in Iraq, and Obama's apparent lies about Afghanistan. The press reaction was predictable. The Sacramento Bee was typical, in one editorial on the one hand expressing sympathy for President Obama's "failed exit strategies," and on the other hand accusing "the Bush-Cheney administration for ... lies about Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein having weapons." Obama's lies deserve sympathy from the Sacramento Bee, while Bush's deserve the greatest condemnation. Like the analysts and anchors on CNBC who constantly lie about stock valuations and don't care that they're lying, the reporters and editors at the Sacramento Bee and New York Times don't care that they've become the public relations arms of the Obama administration. I remember the days when the New York Times could be called "the newspaper of record," but those days are gone. Washington Post and BBC and Sacramento Bee

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Jul-16 World View -- South China Sea tension set to escalate after July 12 arbitration ruling thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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6-Jul-16 World View -- Attack on Islam's holy site in Medina caps end-of-Ramadan jihadist carnage

Bond yields continue to plummet globally into negative territory after Brexit

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Attack on Islam's holy site in Medina caps end-of-Ramadan jihadist carnage


The aftermath of the suicide bombing attack on the Prophet's Mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia (Arab News)
The aftermath of the suicide bombing attack on the Prophet's Mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia (Arab News)

Muslims around the world are horrified and appalled that the grave of the Prophet Mohammed in Medina was targeted by a suicide bomber on Monday. Four policemen became suspicious of an individual who was approaching the Prophet's Mosque, and when they questioned him, he blew up his explosive belt. Only the four policemen were killed, but they're actions are being credited with saving the lives of many others.

Earlier, two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the Faraj al-Omran Mosque in Qatif, with no casualties. And a suicide bomber blew himself up near the US consulate in Jeddah, although some Saudi authorities say that it was the mosque next door, not the consulate, that was the target of the attack. Two policemen were lightly wounded in this attack.

There were no claims of responsibility for the three attacks, but it's assumed that the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) is responsible. It's not even known if the three attacks were coordinated, or if they were independent attacks, all scheduled for the last day of Ramadan, in accordance with pre-Ramadan incitement by ISIS.

Early in June, ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani told "lone wolves" and other ISIS supporters:

"We will make this month [Ramadan], inshallah, a month of calamities for the infidels everywhere. This call specifically goes out to the supporters of [ISIS] in Europe and America."

The scale of the carnage inflicted by jihadists extremists over the past week alone has been staggering. The attacks included more than 250 killed by a truck bomb in a crowded Baghdad market in Iraq; 44 killed at an airport in Istanbul, Turkey; 23 killed in a siege of a café in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

And yet, in another sense, the ISIS incitement was not really fulfilled. The attacks during the month of Ramadan killed over 800 people worldwide, but the only one that really targeted "Europe and America" was the ISIS-inspired lone wolf who killed 49 people in a gay bar in Orlando, Florida.

As I've written many times in the past, there is a war being prosecuted by al-Qaeda and by ISIS, but it's not a war against Westerners or Christians. The huge mass of casualties from the jihadists wars are other Muslims, and the number of Westerners is minuscule by comparison. This is a war by Muslims against Muslims, whether it's Sunnis versus Shias, Sauds versus Wahhabis, or some other fault line.

Possibly nothing illustrates this more than the attack on the Prophet's Mosque in Medina. This was a shocking escalation in ISIS's war against Muslims. Medina is the second holiest city in Islam, behind Mecca, and is always crowded with Muslim visitors. ISIS considers the Saudi government to be infidels in league with the West, and so perhaps Medina could somehow be a "Western" target. This has been particularly true since November 20, 1979, when young jihadists led by terrorist Juhayman al-Oteibi seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca. By the end, the official death toll was 127 soldiers and 117 militants. Unconfirmed reports indicate that over 1,000 civilians lost their lives. ( "12-Sep-2015 World View -- Saudi Arabia's Grand Mosque, site of huge construction accident, has links to 9/11")

But whatever ISIS's justification for attacking Medina, it's still Muslims that are being killed, and it's still the second holiest shrine in Islam. As one Muslim tweeted on Tuesday, "Is there anyone on earth who still thinks these barbarians HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH ISLAM?" Arab News and The National (UAE) and CNN

Bond yields continue to plummet globally into negative territory after Brexit

Investors worldwide are continuing to seek "safe havens" by investing in government bonds. The demand for these bonds is forcing prices up to historical levels, which means that their yields (interest rates) are falling to historic levels, increasing to negative levels.

Bond yields had already pushed many bond yields lower, thanks to central banks "printing money" via quantitative easing, and pouring it into the banking system. This has pushed bond yields on the most popular bonds in Japan, Germany, Switzerland and much of Western Europe below zero. A negative yield means that if an investor invests a million dollars in bonds, then he'll get less than a million dollars back when the bonds expire.

The Brexit referendum vote, which mandated that Britain leave the European Union, apparently has accelerated the plunge in bond yields as an unexpected consequence, because uncertainty about the UK and EU economies has caused investors to flee to safe havens. ( "25-Jun-16 World View -- Fallout from Brexit: Impact on geopolitics, economics, and stock markets")

On Tuesday, ten-year US Treasury bond yields, going into uncharted territory, fell to 1.367%, down from an already extremely low 1.47% on Friday.

In Europe, the yield on 10-year UK government bonds ("gilts") fell to a record low of 0.780%. The Bank of England has already announced that there will be further quantitative easing during the summer. The yield on Germany's 10-year bonds ("bunds") fell further into negative territory to -0.182%. Switzerland's 50-year bond yields became negative for the first time on Tuesday.

At the same time, massive injections of "printed" money by central banks is keeping the stock markets at historically high levels, despite the fact that second quarter earnings are forecast to plunge about 8%, making the huge stock market bubble even larger, meaning that it will do more damage than ever when it implodes.

There was a major exception on Tuesday to falling bond yields: Italy, whose 10-year bond yields rose slightly. As we wrote yesterday, Italy's bank crisis is extremely dangerous, and may become an EU crisis when bank stress tests are announced on July 29. AFP and Market Watch and Reuters and Zero Hedge

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Jul-16 World View -- Attack on Islam's holy site in Medina caps end-of-Ramadan jihadist carnage thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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5-Jul-16 World View -- Italy bank crisis more dangerous to EU than Brexit

EU Banking Union rules were a reaction to Greece's financial crisis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Italy bank crisis more dangerous to EU than Brexit


The Banco Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), established 1472, the world's oldest operating bank, will face a crisis on July 29
The Banco Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), established 1472, the world's oldest operating bank, will face a crisis on July 29

Italy's prime minister Matteo Renzi is considering "unilateral action" to bail out Italian banks with taxpayer money, in violation of EU rules. Action is needed because Italy's already fragile banking system has a staggering $420 billion of bad loans on its books. Italy's bank crisis and confrontation with the EU has gotten so deep that some analysts that it threatens the European Union "worse than Brexit."

Italy's largest bank is Banco Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), founded in 1472, and the world's oldest operating bank. Its share of bad loans comes to $55.2 billion. There may be a major crisis on July 29, when the ECB announces the results of the latest rounds of bank "stress tests." It's believed that these stress tests will force major recapitalizations on MSP and other Italian banks.

MPS's stock price has fallen 80% in the last year, and fell 14% on Monday, following reports that the European Central Bank is going to issue an "ultimatum" to reduce its bad loans portfolio to $32.2 billion by 2018.

How is MPS going to reduce its bad loans? MPS could call the loans in, forcing the borrowers to pay or declare bankruptcy, and MPS estimates that it would only recoup 39% of the face value of the loans. Or, MPS could sell the bad loans to a third party, in which case it would only get 20% of the face value. This would reduce the bad loan portfolio, but it would also require a bank bailout of MPS, and that's where the confrontation is emerging.

The bailout issue became explosive last year, when Italy arranged for the bailout of four small regional banks (Banca delle Marche, Banca Popolare dell'Etruria e del Lazio, Cassa di Risparmio di Ferrara and Cassa di Risparmio della Provincia di Chieti) which received a $3.8 billion bailout, following strict EU Banking Union rules.

Under the terms of the bailout, ordinary savings deposits were spared, but people who had purchased bonds and shares issued by the bank would be wiped out. Some 130,000 shareholders and junior bond holders lost money in the rescue.

A 68-year-old pensioner, Luigino D'Angelo, hanged himself, after learning that his $120,000 savings were wiped out by the bank bailout. The problem is that he didn't have an ordinary savings account. Instead, he had put his money into the bank's high-risk subordinated bonds, probably because some over-eager bank salesman told him that they were high-return, and perfectly safe. He left a suicide note for his wife of 51 years, saying that he felt humiliated and swindled by his the bank, the Banca Etruria.

Because of this highly publicized suicide, which many in the public blame on strict application of EU Banking Union rules, Italy's prime minister Matteo Renzi is considering "unilateral action" to bail out Italian banks with taxpayer money. In this case, the bailout would be paid for by the taxpayer, rather than by bond and share holders. Retail investors hold roughly a third of total outstanding Italian bank debt, and forcing them to lose their savings could disrupt financial stability and undermine depositors' confidence, and even threaten bank runs.

This pending crisis comes in the midst of plans for Italy to hold a a constitutional referendum on political reform in October. Renzi has said that he will step down if the referendum vote fails. This has added to Italy's political instability, and Citibank has described the vote as, "probably the single biggest risk on the European political landscape this year outside the UK [Brexit]." Deutsche Welle and Fitch Ratings and International Business Times (10-Dec-2015)

EU Banking Union rules were a reaction to Greece's financial crisis

The plan by Italy's prime minister Matteo Renzi to bail out Italy's banks with taxpayer money is a violation of EU Banking Union rules that were adopted as "lessons learned" from the financial crisis and, particularly, Greece's financial crisis.

The Banking Union makes the European Central Bank (ECB) the supervisor of all 6000 banks in the eurozone, applying a single rule book that applies to all of them. Other EU countries that still use national currencies have the option of joining.

The purpose of the union is to prevent the following "vicious circle":

The EU's banking union provides three levels of rules:

In the last case, a "bail-in" process would be used to determine who is going to lose their money to save the bank. If a bank needs to resort to bail-in, authorities would first write down all shareholders and would then follow a pre-determined order in bailing in other liabilities. Shareholders and other holders of instruments such as convertible bonds and junior bonds would bear losses first.

Deposits under 100,000 euros would be protected, and taxpayer money would never be used.

Italy's government followed these rules last year, but 130,000 people had their savings wiped out, and the suicide of the 68 year old pensioner whose savings were wiped out has become politically explosive. These people did not have ordinary savings accounts. Instead, they were talked into investing in high-risk high-return bank bonds, and they ended up being wiped out.

The European Union put these banking union rules into place in 2015, and already they're facing a major confrontation, which may turn into a major crisis on July 29, when the ECB's stress tests of Italy's banks will be published. If Italy follows the rules, hundreds of thousands of additional people will lose their life savings. That's why prime minister Matteo Renzi has issued his ultimatum that he will violate EU rules and bail out the banks with taxpayer money. However, this will only "kick the can down the road," in a familiar process where one crisis is solved, but a new one emerges a few months later. Newstalk (Ireland) and Reuters and European Union Banking Union

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Jul-16 World View -- Italy bank crisis more dangerous to EU than Brexit thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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4-Jul-16 World View -- Massive bombing attack Baghdad Iraq blamed on bogus bomb detectors

Former ambassador Jim Moriarty describes the dancing people of Bangladesh

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iraq declares 3 days of national mourning after massive Baghdad bombing


Aftermath of Sunday's bombing in Baghdad's Karrada district (EPA)
Aftermath of Sunday's bombing in Baghdad's Karrada district (EPA)

At least 125 people were killed and 200 wounded in two bombing attacks on Baghdad on Sunday. The first attack occurred when a large refrigerator truck packed with explosives blew up in a busy marketplace in the mostly Shia Karrada district of Baghdad, killing 120 people, and partially collapsing four buildings. The second attack occurred when a roadside bomb blew up hours later in a market in al-Shaab, another Shia district, killing at least two people. The so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) claimed credit for the attacks.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited Karrada to view the damage, and was greeted by angry rock-throwing crowds who blamed government corruptions and incompetence for the fact that it seems helplessly unable to prevent ISIS from striking anywhere, anytime, as desired. Later, al-Abadi announced three days of national mourning.

The bombings came about a week after Iraqi government forces recaptured the city of Fallujah, an ISIS stronghold near Baghdad. The Iraqi government had hoped that liberating Fallujah would increase security in the capital as authorities believed Fallujah was a launch pad for such attacks. In fact, ISIS has lost about half the territory it controlled as of about a year ago, but still can use suicide bombers to strike Baghdad at will. NRT (Iraq) and BBC and Rudaw (Iraq-Kurds)

Iraq orders police to stop using bogus 'bomb detectors'

Six years ago, the Iraqi government learned that a manufacturer had been supplying the country with bogus "bomb detectors." They came to be used and trusted by soldiers, police, border guards, and hotel security staff, and were (and are) used at security checkpoints, where they're supposed to protect the public from suicide bombers by detecting bombs before they can be exploded.

Some reports indicate that Sunday's bombing at Karrada was made possible because the bomber wasn't stopped at a security checkpoint because the bogus detectors didn't set off an alarm.

So Sunday's truck bombing can be blamed on the bomb detectors that have been known for years to be phony. So it was not until now, Sunday, that prime minister al-Abadi finally ordered police to stop using the so-called bomb detectors, which are little more than empty boxes containing electronics that do nothing.

The bomb detectors were a scam. A British businessman named James McCormick would buy novelty "golf ball detectors" for $20 each, changed the label, and sold them to the Iraq government as bomb detectors for $5,000 each. McCormick is thought to have made $75 million from the scam. He is currently serving a ten-year sentence in jail, after being convicted in 2013.

So why the hell are the Iraqi police still using them years after they were known to be pieces of junk? This is one of these stories that drive me completely crazy, but are so typical of what goes on today Why did it take a massive truck bombing for al-Abadi to order the change?

I've seen this kind of credulity and duplicity repeatedly in the computer industry in the last 25 years. It's perfectly obvious that a software development project is going to fail, and I say so to my manager and I get fired. You can say that I must have some obsessive compulsion to keep doing this, and maybe I do, but I'm always right, and every one of these projects crashed after I left. I wrote about some of this in my article "Healthcare.gov -- The greatest software development disaster in history".

What's happening is that a software development manager with a project that's going to crash doesn't care that it's going to crash. He just wants to keep the project going, get as much money for himself as possible, and then simply move on to the next project, after describing his experience on the project in glowing terms on his resume.

I also see the same kind of thing in financial media, including CNBC and Bloomberg. Ten years ago, during the housing bubble, I was telling people not to buy real estate, and all I got was grief. One friend who bought a house anyway actually blamed me when she lost everything, as if I'd caused the bubble to crash. The "experts" didn't even admit that there had been a housing bubble until after it started crashing.

I've written repeatedly that the stock valuations are astronomically high, most recently last week ( "25-Jun-16 World View -- Fallout from Brexit: Impact on geopolitics, economics, and stock markets"). But every day on CNBC and Bloomberg, you hear experts say that stocks are "underpriced." I used to post the names of these people and call them liars and crooks, but nobody cares, so I don't bother anymore. That's the thing that never ceases to amaze me. People openly and blatantly provably lie about stock valuations on CNBC and Bloomberg, and nobody cares. It's incredible.

And why shouldn't they lie? No one is going to call them on it, except a nobody like me. And when the bubble bursts, they'll just come back on and say, "Wow! That sure was a 'black swan.' Who could have seen that coming?" Incredibly, these experts have absolutely nothing to lose by lying, and everything to gain, and it's just grief for anyone who calls them on it.

So let's relate this back to the situation in Iraq. The Baghdad police have been using bogus "bomb detectors" for years, and everyone in the government knows that they're bogus. Corruption runs deep in Baghdad, so probably a lot of people in government and in the police have made a lot of money reselling these bogus bomb detectors. So what if people's lives are at stake? "If there's ever a bombing, I'll just say I didn't know." Better to let hundreds of people be killed than to tell the truth.

That's the world we live in. Everyone in Washington, on Wall Street, in London, and elsewhere have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain by lying and defrauding people. If there's a problem, they find a scapegoat like James McCormick.

Bankers created tens of trillions of dollars of phony subprime mortgage backed securities, with the result that millions of people lost their homes or went bankrupt. But barely a single person has gone to jail, even though the people who committed fraud are well known to the Justice Department. Why should the Obama administration prosecute anyone? These criminals have donated millions of dollars to Obama's election campaigns and projects as payoff, so it's better to be a criminal than to prosecute criminals. Meanwhile, the same bankers are still in their jobs in banks, still defrauding people, causing more people to go bankrupt and lose everything.

And that's how the government officials in Baghdad undoubtedly feel. Al-Abadi has ordered that the police stop using the bogus devices, but the same Iraqi officials are all in the same jobs, finding new forms of corruption, and not caring in the least how many more people end up with their guts sprayed around a public market somewhere in Baghdad. Guardian (London-16-June) and Middle East Eye

Former ambassador Jim Moriarty describes the dancing people of Bangladesh

In the aftermath of the Friday overnight terror attack in Bangladesh's capital city Dhaka, the BBC interviewed James F. Moriarty, America's ambassador to Bangladesh, 2008-11. Here's what he said (my transcription):

"You're talking about the eighth most populous country in the world, you're talking about a country with probably 150 million Muslims, most of them pretty moderate in terms of their religion, and I think that's why you're seeing such a big emphasis from the external terrorist groups right now. They're really want to see countries like Bangladesh or for example Indonesia come under a lot of stress, and see whether they can turn fairly moderate countries into bastions of support for extreme Islam. ...

I think in both cases it's going to be fairly tough [for the terrorists]. Bangladeshis have a fairly strong sense of national identity. Part of that is Islam, but as I said it's a fairly moderate form of Islam, and a large part of that is a Bengali nationalism, not necessarily tied directly into the sense of being an Islamic nation. It's got traditions, it's got singing, dancing, it's got things that go back in history before the region became Muslim."

This is about as silly as you can get. Moriarty paints a picture of Bangladesh as a land of singing, dancing moderate Muslim Bengalis being invaded by terror groups like ISIS.

As I've written several times, most recently yesterday, there are two ethnic groups in Bangladesh, the dominant Bengalis and the subservient Biharis, an outcome of the bloody civil war of 1971. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of Biharis living in refugee camps in filthy conditions, with the largest camp just north of Dhaka. So Friday's attack was from a local group of activist Biharis, inspired by ISIS. When these people see singing, dancing Bengalis, the visceral reaction would be to kill them, not join in the dancing.

At first I thought Moriarty was just another hack who had been given an ambassadorship in return for a campaign donation, but I looked up his background and it's quite impressive. It's almost certain that he knows that his statement is completely ridiculous.

If that's true, then why did he do it? My guess is that it's the same thing as the stock valuations or the bogus bomb detectors or crashing software projects. You can't tell the truth because all you get is grief. But if you lie, then you get plush jobs and invitations to speak on the BBC.

In fact, just last month, he was appointed as the Bangladesh Country Director by the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, a platform of 28 North American retailers and brands. He will lead strategic oversight and outreach activities, with key stakeholders in Bangladesh’s Government, garment industry, and non-governmental and non-profit organizations. That's his reward for lying. Apparel Resources (23-May)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Jul-16 World View -- Massive bombing attack Baghdad Iraq blamed on bogus bomb detectors thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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3-Jul-16 World View -- Bangladesh tries to recover from Dhaka terror attack, the worst in 40 years

Suspicions that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency supported the Dhaka attack

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Bangladesh tries to recover from Dhaka terror attack, the worst in 40 years


Photos of five of the attackers, appearing on an ISIS-linked web site
Photos of five of the attackers, appearing on an ISIS-linked web site

"Blood, shock and horror" are the words being used by Bangladeshis to describe the grim news from the Friday overnight terror attack that we reported yesterday at the bakery in the in the highly secure Gulshan diplomatic enclave of Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh.

We've previously reported on several of the 18 jihadist attacks in Bangladesh in the last year, as in "24-Apr-2016 World View -- Bangladesh in shock after university professor hacked to death". These attacks targeted upper class secular bloggers and liberals. The attacks typically took place in full public view, as gang arrives on motorcycles to attack individuals, butcher them with machetes in the middle of crowded streets and then take off.

However, for the first time, the attack targeted foreigners and was a lengthy siege lasting over twelve hours. Nine of the victims were Italian, seven were Japanese, one was from India, two were Bangladeshi and one was a U.S. citizen of Bangladeshi origin. The victims were among roughly three dozen people taken hostage. It's the first time that hostages have been taken in 40 years, and it's being called "Bangladesh's 26/11," in comparison to the three-day '26/11' terror attack in Mumbai India of November 2008.

The so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) claimed credit through its Amaq News Agency, and backed up the claim by posting photos of the carnage in the cafe hours before the police entered the cafe.

I am among those analysts who do not believe that this was an ISIS operation. I do not believe that Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, from his ISIS headquarters in Syria, sent out a team of jihadists to a cafe in Dhaka Bangladesh to carry out this attack. Indeed, the Bangladesh police say that all of the perpetrators were Bangladeshi locals, not foreign fighters. It's possible that ISIS supported the operation and even provided some money, but at most it was a local home-grown operation piggybacking on ISIS's public relations facilities for their mutual benefit.

Indeed, as I've written repeatedly, these terror attacks almost certainly were conducted by ethnic Bihari activists targeting ethnic Bengalis. The difference this time was that they copied ISIS's tactics, and used ISIS for support.

In fact, Bangladesh suffered an even larger terrorist attack in February 2009, before ISIS even existed, that was even more horrific, except that it didn't target foreigners. 76 Bangladesh army border guard officers were mutilated and killed in a 33-hour massacre that shocked the country for its brutality. The perpetrators were the troops reporting to them. Bodies of officers and their wives were mutilated and piled into mass graves. ( "(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. ISIS didn't exist in 2009, but if it had, they might have claimed credit for the border guard officer massacre.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina wondered how the terrorists could do this to their own country. She said the usual things about these attacks being "intolerable" and that she was determined to "eradicate" the terrorists:

"There is no place for terrorists or terrorism on Bangladesh's soil. People must resist these terrorists. My government is determined to root out terrorism and militancy from Bangladesh.

It was an extremely heinous act. What kind of Muslims are these who kill other people during Ramadan?"

One thing that Hasina always did in the past but didn't do this time was to specifically blame the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its ally Jamaat-e-Islam for perpetrating the violence. The BNP is a Bihari political party, so she was using BNP as a code word for Bihari. However, BNP leaders insisted that their political party does not support Bihari violence, and so this time, because of the severity of the attack, Hasina was trying not to be divisive. Daily Star (Dhaka) and Dhaka Tribune and CNN

Suspicions that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency supported the Dhaka attack

Some analysts, especially in India, believe that the Dhaka attack was perpetrated by a Taliban-linked group in Pakistan, supported by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.

Besides mere suspicions, there are two major reasons that give plausibility to these accusations.

First, the Dhaka attacks were similar in nature to the November 2008 three-day '26/11' terror attack in Mumbai. That attack was perpetrated by Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), a Pakistani terrorist group with known connections to ISI, though ISI claims that the connections were severed long ago. The Mumbai attack almost resulted in war, as India threatened to invade Pakistani soil to go after Lashkar-e-Toiba. War was only avoided by hard intervention from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Second, Bangladesh was originally part of Pakistan, and was known as East Pakistan. One of the worst wars of the 20th century was the bloody genocidal war between Hindus and Muslims that followed Partition, the 1947 partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan, with the latter split into West and East Pakistan. The scale of civilian displacement from their homes was so massive that it was called by some an "exodus of biblical proportions," since it forced millions of Hindus in Pakistan to flee to India, and millions of Muslims in India to flee to Pakistan.

However, that was a generational crisis war only for West Pakistan and western India. Eastern India and East Pakistan are on a different generational timeline, and their crisis war was the bloody civil war of 1971, mainly between the Biharis and the Bengalis of East Pakistan. The outcome of that war was that East Pakistan became an independent country, Bangladesh.

In the Bangladesh of today, the Bengali-speaking Bengalis are the dominant ethnic group, and the Urdu-speaking Biharis, who originally were from India, are the subservient ethnic group.

But that's a flip-flop from how things were in 1949, after the Partition war. At that time, Pakistan declared that Urdu was the official language of both West and East Pakistan, and that the Bengali language was to be marginalized. The Urdu-speaking Biharis became the dominant group, and the Bengali-speaking Bengalis were subservient.

In the 1971 war, the Pakistan army was on the side of the Biharis, fighting against the Bengalis, who were supported by India. The war was incredibly brutal, especially the behavior of the Pakistan army toward the Bengalis. Stories of rape, beheadings and mutilation of Bengali civilians were common. The Bengalis won, making Bangladesh an independent nation, and after that the Bengalis were the dominant ethnic group.

Pakistan today still favors the subservient Biharis over the dominant Bengalis, and so it's quite plausible, though unproven, that the Bihari terrorists received support for Friday's attack from Pakistan's ISI.

(In researching this article, I noticed something strange. The Taliban Easter attack on Lahore in Pakistan on March 29 took place in Lahore's Gulshan Iqbal Park. Saturday's terrorist attack took place in the Gulshan diplomatic enclave of Dhaka. None of the news reports notes this connection, so perhaps it's just a coincidence, but I thought it to be worth mentioning.) Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (PDF-2001) and My Golden Bengal (21-July-2013) and Swarajya (India)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Jul-16 World View -- Bangladesh tries to recover from Dhaka terror attack, the worst in 40 years thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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2-Jul-16 World View -- Bangladesh again shocked by major ongoing terrorist attack

The Battle of the Somme and infant mortality

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Politicians commemorate the botched World War I Battle of the Somme


Tyne Cot War Cemetery, with graves of 11,954 soldiers in the British army (greatwar.co.uk)
Tyne Cot War Cemetery, with graves of 11,954 soldiers in the British army (greatwar.co.uk)

The Battle of the Somme, possibly the worst botched battle in the British army's history, began on July 1, 1916. The British wanted to deliver a knockout blow to the German army. For over a week, the British had fired some 1,738,000 artillery shells at the German line in order to prepare for the British infantry advance. However, the Germans were prepared for this. The German soldiers moved into deep dugouts that had been prepared. When the bombardment stopped, the Germans knew that was a signal that the infantry attack was about to begin, so they left the dugout and moved to their machine guns. Some 100,000 British and French army soldiers went "over the top" to confront the Germans and the machine guns along a 25-mile front. By the end of the first day, the British army had lost 60,000 men.

By the end of 141 days of battle, in November 1916, the British had lost 420,000, the French lost 200,000 men and the Germans 500,000, for a total of almost 1.2 million casualties in this one battle. The British army had not only not delivered a knockout blow, they had moved their front line only seven miles.

The British Generals had botched the situation so badly that by the 1920s, many veterans were describing the entire war as "Lions led by Donkeys."

On Friday, France's president François Hollande and Britain's prime minister David Cameron met at the site of the battle to commemorate the deaths, to give the usual speeches saying "Never again." This commemoration comes just weeks after the commemoration of the Battle of Verdun.

The commemoration comes one week after the Brexit vote, mandating that Britain should leave the European Union. The biggest motivation for the Treaty of Rome was signed in 1957 and for the European Union, was that the survivors of World War I and II wanted to guarantee that Europe would never fight wars like the two world wars ever again. The Brexit vote means that this guarantee will not be met.

Today, the survivors of the two world wars are gone, and so it's particularly ironic that the commemoration comes at a time when the European Union is falling apart, and the same nationalistic and xenophobic forces that brought about the Battle of the Somme and other battles are rising again. History Learning and Telegraph (London) and Deutsche Welle

The Battle of the Somme and infant mortality


Estimated infant mortality rates - 1870-1999 - in Chicago
Estimated infant mortality rates - 1870-1999 - in Chicago

There were 38 million military and civilian casualties in World War I, including 11 million military personnel. The number of deaths was astonishing, mainly because there had never been so many deaths in previous wars.

Politicians discussing the Battle of the Somme this week blamed the large number of deaths as "a failure of political leadership," and pontificated that if the political leadership had been better, then World War I would have had fewer deaths.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, it's very likely that 38 million people had to die, no matter how well the politicians ran the war. In fact, asking why 38 million people died in World War I is the wrong question. The right question is: Where did all those people come from?

Prior to 1870, some 30% of all infants died before their first birthday. (By age 5, the figure was about 50%.)

But infant and child mortality fell dramatically in the 1890s, and again in the 1920s, as you can see from the graph. This fall in infant mortality meant that a lot more infants lived long enough to become soldiers. That's why there were so many more soldiers in WW I, and then again in WW II. And that's why there were so many more soldiers to be killed.

In other words, curing infant mortality is a wonderful thing for the individual parents, but it has the unintended consequence of creating large population of young boys ready to be sent into war as cannon fodder.

When there are too many people, nature provides several ways to kill them off -- war, disease, and famine. If those 38 million people hadn't been killed by World War I, then they would have had to be killed some other way. That's the way the world works.

Actually, that wasn't the end of it. The global Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 killed up to 50 million more people. Then 60 million more people were killed in World War II. Hundreds of millions more were killed by Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong in various Communist purges.

Today it's much worse. There are 200,000 people added to the global population every day. At the same time, growing populations are displacing more and more farmland. There is no way that this situation is sustainable, or will end well, and Brexit is just one thing that's leading the way. The Battle of the Somme was just a minor blip compared to what's coming. Oil Price

Bangladesh again shocked by major ongoing terrorist attack

As I'm writing this on Friday evening ET, the hostage crisis in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, is still in progress. There are at least two dead and 20 hostages taken so far.

A public relations media source associated with the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) is claiming credit for ISIS. However, other analysts attribute the action to al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). ISIS and al-Qaeda are in a growing competition to take credit for as many terrorist acts as they can.

The attack took place in an upmarket area popular with wealthy Bangladeshis and foreign tourists. As I've written several times in the past, this is a signal that the act is being perpetrated by a terror group associated with activist Biharis, the ethnic group that lost to the ethnic Bengalis in the 1971 generational crisis war that created the state of Bangladesh from the former East Pakistan. ( "12-Jun-16 World View -- Bangladesh government arrests 3,192 people to stop terrorist killings")

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.

So, if either al-Qaeda or ISIS plays any role at all, it would be purely for publicity purposes. It's not surprising that both of these jihadist groups should claim credit, but this is a bloody conflict between two ethnic groups, and it's only going to get worse. Dhaka Tribune

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Jul-16 World View -- Bangladesh again shocked by major ongoing terrorist attack thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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1-Jul-16 World View -- Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Puerto Rico - three amigos in Marxist economic destruction

After Trump's exit, Miss Teen USA dumps its swimsuit competition

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

British government shocked as Boris Johnson stands down


Boris Johnson, next to his wife Marina, waves goodbye on Thursday after standing down (Daily Mail)
Boris Johnson, next to his wife Marina, waves goodbye on Thursday after standing down (Daily Mail)

It's being described as a complete shock, totally unexpected -- that Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London and the leader of the successful campaign to win the Brexit referendum, which mandates that the UK leave the European Union, announced that he would not run to replace David Cameron as leader of the Conservative Party and become Prime Minister on September 9.

Reports indicate that Boris Johnson was stabbed in the back by a close former ally, Michael Gove. Gove had said repeatedly when asked that he (Gove) was not qualified to be PM, but that he was going to support Johnson and even be his campaign manager. But early on Thursday, Gove flip-flopped and announced that he would run. He announced, "I have come reluctantly to the conclusions Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead." He added that he's decided that he can.

Although Johnson's announcement was a shock, it cannot have been totally unexpected, since Johnson is completely unqualified. His pro-Brexit campaign emotionally targeted anti-EU nationalism and anti-immigrant anxieties about both east European Catholics and Syrian Muslims. Once his side won the referendum vote, he almost completely vanished from view, and it was clear that he didn't have the vaguest clue what he'd been talking about during the campaign, or what to do after winning.

The Brexit outcome has done a great deal of damage to the UK and the EU, and is continuing to do more damage, as we've been reporting the last few days. Perhaps Boris Johnson should be thanked for standing down before he did any more damage. After all, sometimes it seems that the most successful politicians are also the most destructive politicians. Daily Mail (London)

After decades of destroying the economy, Zimbabwe wants investors

In a move of total desperation, Zimbabwe on Thursday announced that foreigners who invested their money in Zimbabwe will be permitted to repatriate their profits and dividends back to their home countries. Previously, investors were required to leave all money in Zimbabwe.

As in Venezuela and Puerto Rico, the economy of Zimbabwe is crashing. There are shortages of fuel, sugar and cooking oil. Cash withdrawals from banks are strictly limited. ATM queues typically contain dozens of people, and frequently the cash machines run out of money. School teachers have been told that they will not be paid, and many don't even have money to buy food.

The change in policy is driven by total desperation. In order to keep the economy from crashing completely, Zimbabwe's Finance Minister Patrick Chinamas is visiting business leaders in Paris to beg for further investments. Currently Zimbabwe owes 10 billion US dollars to the IMF, World Bank and the African Development Bank, with $1.86 billion in debt repayments in arrears. Chinamas is promising that the arrears will be repaid, but Zimbabwe has no money with which to pay the arrears.

If the most successful politicians are the most destructive, then one of the most successful politicians of all time is 92 year old president Robert Mubage, who has been in power for almost 30 years, and has been responsible for an almost unbelievable amount of destruction, in one incredible Marxist policy after another.

Mugabe is from the Shona tribe. Shortly after taking power in 1980, he consolidated power by launching "Operation Gukurahundi" (The rain that washes away the chaff before the spring rain). During that campaign, accomplished with the help of Mugabe's 5th Brigade, trained by North Korea, tens of thousands of people, mostly from the Ndebele tribe, were raped, tortured and slaughtered.

As recently as the 1999, Zimbabwe was still the breadbasket of Africa, exporting up to 500,000 metric tons of surplus food. By 2003, Zimbabwe was starving. What happened during those three years was a Marxist socialist "land reform" program by Robert Mugabe that confiscated 4,500 white-owned commercial farms and redistributed the property to his own Shona ethnic group. After 2003, more and more Zimbabweans were dying of starvation, because Mugabe has destroyed the farm infrastructure. By 2008, the official rate of inflation was 231 million percent. ( "24-Feb-2014 World View -- Mass murderer Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has 90th birthday")

In 2009, Mugabe abolished the Zimbabwe dollar, which wasn't worth the paper it was written on anyway. The US dollar and the South African rand became the official currencies. But instead of ending the destructive land reform policies, Mugabe added on a new one: Indigenization.

Indigenization required all Zimbabwe businesses to be majority owned by Zimbabweans, again mostly from Mugabe's Shona tribe. Zimbabwe continues to shut down businesses, including foreign banks, that do not comply with the indigenization requirements. Just as Mugabe's "land reforms" destroyed the farm infrastructure, Mugabe's indigenization law is destroying the entire business infrastructure.

So now, with Zimbabwe's Marxist economy close to total collapse, Mugabe's finance minister is in Paris to convince the capitalist investors to pour more money into Zimbabwe. It's laughable except for the fact that so many people are suffering because of Mugabe's destructive Marxist policies. RFI and Financial Times (27-Jun) and Independent (Zimbabwe) and Zimbabwe Government and The Zimbabwean

Venezuela and Puerto Rico join Zimbabwe in economic destruction

Venezuela's Socialist president Nicolás Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chávez are also among the world's most successful politicians, as measured by the amount of destruction they've brought about in their own country. Like Mugabe, they've destroyed Venezuela's economy with Marxist policies, even though its oil reserves should make it one of the wealthiest economies in the world. ( "15-May-16 World View -- Venezuela economy close to collapse as Maduro orders jailing of factory owners")

Puerto Rico faces $70 billion in total debt, a 45 percent poverty rate and a shrinking population, as a result of years of massive spending on social programs. ( "27-Apr-16 World View -- Puerto Rico headed for new financial default on May 1") Puerto Rico was saved from default on Friday, July 1, as President Obama signed a Puerto Rico rescue bill into law on Thursday.

Let's not forget Cuba and North Korea, two more potentially wealthy countries that have been destroyed by their successful politicians. Washington Post

After Trump's exit, Miss Teen USA dumps its swimsuit competition


The sexist, outdated swimsuit competition will be eliminated by a thoroughly modern, feminist update
The sexist, outdated swimsuit competition will be eliminated by a thoroughly modern, feminist update

Now that Donald Trump has severed his relationship with the Miss Universe Organization, it has announced that it's dropping the swimsuit competition from Miss Teen USA.

According to a Miss Universe statement: "In a society that increasingly prioritizes feminism and equality, watching women parade across a stage in bikinis can feel outdated."

However, some critics complained that the contest was becoming "Sharia compliant." The Daily Good (Iceland) and Irish Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Jul-16 World View -- Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Puerto Rico - three amigos in Marxist economic destruction thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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30-Jun-16 World View -- Egypt calls Qatar an 'enemy state'

Cash stored in vaults as negative interest rates spread

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Cash stored in vaults as negative interest rates spread


Man shops for vault in which to store cash
Man shops for vault in which to store cash

As I wrote last week, central banks around the world are committed to "printing money" and making it available to wealthy investors and institutions in order to forestall forced selling following global financial shocks following Brexit. A major tool for doing this is quantitative easing -- purchasing corporate or sovereign bonds. But central banks are being limited by the huge amount of debt based on negative interest rates (yields). ( "25-Jun-16 World View -- Fallout from Brexit: Impact on geopolitics, economics, and stock markets")

A new report by Finch Ratings indicates that negative interest rates are spreading rapidly. As of June 27, $11.7 trillion of sovereign debt globally was based on the purchase of bonds and other assets with negative yields. This is up by $1.3 trillion from the end of May.

The way that this works in "normal" times is that an investor pays $95 for a bond that will pay $100 when it expires. But in today's "new normal," the demand for bonds is surging, and by the law of supply and demand, the prices of these bonds are also surging. So the investor is forced to pay $105 for the same bond that will pay only $100. That's a negative yield.

The demand for bonds has been surging from two sources. As volatility and uncertainty increases, investors are seeking safe havens in which to park their money. And central banks are purchasing bonds as part of a quantitative easing program. Japan, Germany and France were the leaders in June of increases in sovereign debt with negative yields.

In "normal" times, banks make money by borrowing money at low interest rates and lending it out at high interest rates. But in today's low and negative interest rate environment, it's impossible to lend it out at high interest rates, except to the riskiest borrowers, the subprime borrowers most likely to default.

For financial institutions looking for a place to park their money, some of them are returning to the old days when banks stored their money in vaults. Money in a vault earns no interest, but it also doesn't lose value.

When American outlaw "Willie" Sutton was once asked why he robbed banks, he replied, "I rob banks because that's where the money is." Somewhere there may be a modern day Willie Sutton who's thinking the same thing. Fitch Ratings and Bloomberg and Seeking Alpha and Bloomberg and FT Adviser and Telegraph (London)

UK was locked out of EU summit for first time in 40 years

Today's meeting was "about us," according to one EU official, not about the UK. So 27 European Union members met for an EU summit, the first one in 40 years from which Britain was excluded.

The key phrase was "there will be no single market à la carte." The meaning of this phrase was stated repeatedly by different EU officials. If the UK wants access to the EU Single Market, then they must also be willing to guarantee the EU's four freedoms: freedom of movement for people, goods, capital and services.

In particular, this will mean that the UK would have to permit the free movement of people, which was the major motivation for the successful Brexit vote in the first place. That would be ironic. And it's worth mentioning again that the opposition to free movement of people are just as opposed to free movement of Catholic Poles and Hungarians as they are opposed to free movement of Syrian Muslims. Guardian (London)

Egypt calls Qatar an 'enemy state'

The Muslim Brotherhood (MB), and the country's that sponsor MB -- Qatar and Turkey -- have reacted furiously to the actions on June 18 by an Egyptian court to sentence former president Mohamed Morsi to 40 years in prison for conspiring to harm Egypt's national interests in what has been called the "spying for Qatar" affair. Morsi's co-defendants included a reporter from Qatar-based al-Jazeera.

The judge reading out the verdict said that Morsi and his co-defendants endangered national security, which is "worse than killing a person or opposing God’s laws." He added:

"They are more dangerous than spies. Spies are usually foreigners, but unfortunately the defendants are Egyptian."

Qatar denounced the verdicts, saying they set a dangerous precedent in relations between Arab nations:

"The verdict issued by the Cairo Criminal Court is baseless and goes against justice and the realities on the ground, because it includes a litany of misleading claims that contradicts the policy of the State of Qatar towards all its sisterly nations."

Egyptian media responded harshly. According to Muhammad Amin, editor of the Egyptian daily Al-Masri Al-Yawm:

"The sentence in the case of the spying [for Qatar] sends a message no only to the MB but also a special message [meant] to reach the Qatari Emir. The message to the MB is that the [Egyptian] state will not stop pursuing the movement and is not interested in holding talks [with it] or reassessing its attitude towards 'the state of the [MB] General Guide.' ...

I believe this affair means Qatar has become an 'enemy state' and can no longer be a sister country, [since] siblings do not spy on each other. I am speaking of the rash [Qatari] leadership. This leadership managed to deceive a foolish president [Morsi] in order to receive [from him] documents [pertaining to] national security. He who sells out his homeland sells out his good name and his honor."

As long-time readers know, Generational Dynamics predicts that, in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, Iran, India and Russia will be allied with the West against China, Pakistan, and the Sunni Arab nations. ( "15-Jul-15 World View -- Arab views of Iran nuclear deal")

However, that's very broad prediction. It's clear that the Sunni Arab nations are not monolithic, and historically they've fought against each other, as well as against Shia Iran. The 2014 Gaza war revealed sharp fault lines among the Sunni Arabs, with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the West Bank Palestinians on one side, and Hamas, Qatar and (non-Arab) Turkey on the other side. ( "3-Sep-14 World View -- Mideast realignment continues following the Gaza war") It would be possible through analysis and interviews to produce a much more detailed and accurate prediction of the expected activities of the different ethnic groups, but this would require more resources than are available to me. However, this could be a good project for a college student thesis. Daily News Egypt (18-Jun) and Al-Jazeera (Qatar - 18-Jun) and Memri

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Jun-16 World View -- Egypt calls Qatar an 'enemy state' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
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29-Jun-16 World View -- Bombing of Turkey's airport affects a swirl of diplomatic actions

Mutual UK-EU loathing at the European Parliament in Brussels

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Mutual UK-EU loathing at the European Parliament in Brussels


Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon in Brussels on Tuesday
Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon in Brussels on Tuesday

While not threatening an immediate spiral into a global crisis, The Brexit situation continues every day to cause a great deal of geopolitical deterioration and damage of a kind that's likely to lead to a serious crisis in time.

Britain's government melted down further on Tuesday, as far-left Labor Party chief Jeremy Corbyn was given a big vote of no-confidence, with 172 Labor MPs voting no confidence, while only 40 supported him. However, he was elected leader last year by a wide margin among Labor MPs, and he says he won't step down. This leaves both British parties without effective leadership.

The real action on Tuesday occurred at the meeting of the European Parliament in Brussels. Nigel Farage, who is the head of Britain's anti-immigrant anti-Europe Ukip party, is also an MEP (member of European parliament). In Brussels on Tuesday, he stood to speak and he used the time to gloat:

"Funny, isn't it. You know, when I came here 17 years ago, and I said that I wanted to lead a campaign to get Britain to leave the European Union, you all laughed at me. Well I have to say, you're not laughing now are you?"

He also accused all the other 700 MEPs of never having done a hard day's work in their lives, or of ever creating a job.

Parliament president Jean-Claude Jüncker accused Farage of lying repeatedly during the Brexit campaign, and said "You were fighting for the exit, the British people voted in favor of the exit - why are you here?"

EU officials are described as sad and angry, and they're especially angry at David Cameron for even allowing the referendum in the first place. Jüncker said clearly that Brexit was "a fact," and there would be no going back. He also ordered all the MEPs not to conduct any negotiations with British officials, until Britain's government invokes "Article 50," which launches the two-year negotiation process. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that there would be no "cherry picking," meaning that Britain would not be permitted to pick and choose which EU regulations it obeys if it wants to be part of EU's Single Market.

The UK government is still in chaos, and still lost in the wilderness, and has no idea what to do next. Both Scotland and Northern Ireland are demanding that a way be found to keep them in the EU. The Scottish MEP Alyn Smith reminded the Brussels Parliament that Scotland voted overwhelmingly against Brexit: "We will need cool heads and warm hearts but please remember this - Scotland did not let you down. I beg you: do not let Scotland down now."

Jüncker and other EU officials seem resigned that Britain will not invoke Article 50 at least until September 9, when David Cameron will be replaced by a new Prime Minister. Jüncker's nightmare scenario is that the UK will keep stalling indefinitely, without invoking Article 50, leaving the EU in unending limbo. On Wednesday, there will be a meeting of the leaders of 27 EU members and, for the first time in 40 years, the UK will be excluded.

There is a real feeling of mutual disgust and loathing between EU and UK officials now, and that the negotiations will be harsh and bitter.

On the other hand, in view of the chaos and bitterness, fears of other EU countries trying to conduct their own exit referendums seem diminished now. Nobody else wants to go through the same thing. BBC and Guardian (London) and BBC

Bombing of Turkey's airport affects a swirl of diplomatic actions

At least 36 people were killed on Monday by three coordinated suicide bombings in Ataturk National Airport on the European side of Istanbul, Turkey. No one has claimed responsibility, but Turkish officials say that the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) was responsible.

The Ataturk airport is a major international airport. Not only is it the biggest commercial hub in Turkey, it's one of the largest airports in the world, and a major international traffic hub.

The bombing comes just one day after Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan completed two diplomatic initiatives. First, the reconciliation with Israel was announced after Erdogan softened his demand that Israel end its blockade of Gaza, and agreed to a compromise, as we described on Sunday.

Second, it was revealed that Erdogan finally apologized to Russia for shooting down the Russian warplane last year. Russia's president Vladimir Putin has demanded that Erdogan apologize and provide compensation to the families of the victims. Whether it was an accident or on purpose that both diplomatic announcements occurred on the same day, it certainly appears that Erdogan is changing some of his hardline attitudes.

There's a third major diplomatic issue reaching a potential crisis this week. June 30 is the deadline set by Turkey for the European Union to lift visa restrictions on Turkey, so that any of Turkey's 72 million citizens can travel freely around Europe's Schengen zone. This is Turkey's requirement in exchange for the EU-Turkey migrant deal. This deal has been extremely successful, in that it's reduced the flow of migrants entering Greece from Turkey to dozens per day, down from hundreds or thousands per day.

EU officials have said they won't lift the visa restrictions unless Turkey improves its human rights record, particularly by not using anti-terrorism laws to jail journalists. Turkish officials have said repeatedly that if the visa restrictions aren't lifted, then Turkey will renege on the migrant deal, and allow an unrestricted flow of migrants to cross the Aegean Sea again to Greece.

Turkey has refused in the past to weaken the anti-terrorism laws, and Tuesday's airport attack can only redouble that resolve.

There have been no recent statements from Turkey about reneging on the migrant deal, so right now it looks like Thursday is going to come and go with no change in the status quo. If so, it will be the third time this week that Erdogan will have backed down diplomatically. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Daily Sabah (Ankara) and Observer

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Jun-16 World View -- Bombing of Turkey's airport affects a swirl of diplomatic actions thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
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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 fall, 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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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