Russia News: Lenta.ru : Новости: Жертвами перестрелки с боевиками на Шри-Ланке стали 15 человек

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Тела 15 человек, в том числе шестерых детей, обнаружили на востоке Шри-Ланки — на месте, где накануне завязалась перестрелка между полицейскими и боевиками. Ранее считалось, что во время антитеррористической операции погибли четверо экстремистов и один мирный житель. Силовики пыталась захватить склад боевиков.

Lenta.ru : Новости

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Russia News: Взгляд: Сына Лукашенко сравнили с британским принцем

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Пользователи интернета активно обсуждают внешность 14-летнего Николая Лукашенко, сына президента Белоруссии Александра Лукашенко, пишут СМИ.

Лукашенко-младшего сфотографировали вместе с отцом в Китае. Николай Лукашенко «сменил имидж, буквально взорвав медиапространство своей элегантной аристократической внешностью», пишет «Московский комсомолец».

Отмечается, что пользователей соцсетей «восхитила» внешность Лукашенко-младшего, его сравнили с британским принцем Уильямом.

Александр Лукашенко на протяжении многих лет брал с собой младшего сына на официальные мероприятия. В 2016 году ему даже пришлось объяснять исчезновение сына из медиапространства.

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Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (85 sites): 1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites): “trump and republican party” – Google News: Caputo leads Cheshire County GOP in post-Russia-probe victory lap – The Keene Sentinel

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Caputo leads Cheshire County GOP in post-Russia-probe victory lap  The Keene Sentinel

Former Trump campaign adviser Michael R. Caputo led a rallying cry for GOP victory in 2020 at the Cheshire County Republican Committee’s annual Lincoln …

“trump and republican party” – Google News

1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites)

Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (85 sites)


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“Get FBI out of Counterintelligence” – Google News: US issues warrant for ‘ringleader’ of North Korean embassy raid – South China Morning Post

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US issues warrant for ‘ringleader’ of North Korean embassy raid  South China Morning Post

Adrian Hong is wanted by Spain in connection with the February raid, but his lawyer claims extradition is based on ‘unreliable accounts’ of embassy staff.

“Get FBI out of Counterintelligence” – Google News


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Blogs from Michael_Novakhov (21 sites): The FBI News Review: “fbi” – Google News: Charlotte teen held prisoner faces her captor, FBI warns parents of online threats for your children – WBTV

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April 26, 2019
“fbi” – Google News: Charlotte teen held prisoner faces her captor, FBI warns parents of online threats for your children – WBTV
FBI Seeks Assistance with Suspected Homicide Investigation | News for Page Lake Powell Arizona – lakepowelllife
‘No country poses a broader, more severe intelligence collection threat than China,’ says FBI chief Christopher Wray – Hong Kong Free Press
Alerta de Google: fbi: FBI investigates at two New Jersey rehab facilities
“fbi and trump” – Google News: Fact-checking Trump’s claims about violent crime – CNN

“fbi” – Google News: Charlotte teen held prisoner faces her captor, FBI warns parents of online threats for your children – WBTV

FBI from Michael_Novakhov (27 sites)
Charlotte teen held prisoner faces her captor, FBI warns parents of online threats for your children WBTVCHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – The Charlotte teenager who was held captive for over a year spoke out in court directly to the man who kept her as a prisoner.
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FBI Seeks Assistance with Suspected Homicide Investigation | News for Page Lake Powell Arizona – lakepowelllife

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Breaking news coming in from the Lake Powell Chronicle this afternoon regarding a suspected homicide in the Tuba City District that occurred around 8 o’clock Thursday night. Navajo Police reportedly alerted FBI and the Navajo Nation Criminal Investigation Unit to the case, they now are asking the public for assistance with the investigation.
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‘No country poses a broader, more severe intelligence collection threat than China,’ says FBI chief Christopher Wray – Hong Kong Free Press

Hong Kong Free Press
China poses the most serious intelligence threat to the United States and is seeking to “steal its way up the economic ladder” at US expense, FBI Director Christopher Wray said Friday.
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Alerta de Google: fbi: FBI investigates at two New Jersey rehab facilities

FBI from Michael_Novakhov (27 sites)
FBI and other federal agents visited two New Jersey locations of a rehab and senior care company this week while it is in the midst of a sale. Atrium Health and Senior Living headquarters in Little Falls and its Woodbury facility were the center of the investigation Wednesday, said Jason Hutchens, senior vice president of operations for Atrium. 
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“fbi and trump” – Google News: Fact-checking Trump’s claims about violent crime – CNN

FBI from Michael_Novakhov (27 sites)
He made several claims about crime rates, suggesting crime was on the decline thanks to the efforts of his administration. “As we protect gun rights for law abiding citizens, we’re also getting guns out of the hands of violent criminals.
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Russia News: RSS: В Хабаровском крае с курсантами военно-технического клуба состоялся полевой выход

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Подобные занятия направлены на совершенствование у ребят навыков первоначальной военной подготовки.

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Russia News: Lenta.ru : Новости: Украинского мультимиллионера арестовали в Москве за взятку

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Украинского бизнесмена Павла Климца арестовали в Москве по подозрению в даче взятки в особо крупном размере. Точная причина его задержания неизвестна. Визит бизнесмена в Москву связан с обсуждением его активов в Донбассе, которых он фактически лишился после начала конфликта в 2014 году.

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Russia News: Газета.Ru – Новости дня: Энистон и Сэндлер убегают от полиции в трейлере “Загадочного убийства”

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Американские актеры Дженнифер Энистон и Адам Сэндлер снова воссоединились на экране в трейлере криминальной комедии Netflix “Загадочное убийство”. Ролик размещен на странице компании в YouTube.

По сюжету, американская …

Газета.Ru – Новости дня

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Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (85 sites): “Jared Kushner” – Google News: White House Counsel: Official Who Cleared Jared Kushner Agrees to Hill Interview – The Daily Beast

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White House Counsel: Official Who Cleared Jared Kushner Agrees to Hill Interview  The Daily Beast

After Trump ally Jim Jordan stepped in and said he could be interviewed with White House lawyers present.

“Jared Kushner” – Google News

Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (85 sites)


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Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (85 sites): 1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites): Palmer Report: Rod Rosenstein and William Barr can share a cell

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Donald Trump’s newly handpicked Attorney General William Barr has been criminally obstructing justice since he released a phony “summary” of the Mueller report, and perhaps even further back then that. Barr surely knows he’s committing multiple felonies, and it’s unclear if he simply doesn’t care about the consequences, or if he’s banking on a Trump pardon. Either way, we’re now learning that Trump’s longtime Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is no different and no better than Barr.



Today the Washington Post revealed that when Rod Rosenstein’s job was in jeopardy several months back, he managed to keep it by telling Donald Trump that he was on his “team” and that he could “land the plane” in terms of protecting Trump from the Mueller investigation’s findings. This is the textbook definition of obstruction of justice. Rosenstein must have known yesterday that this story was coming out, as he gave a deranged speech in which he praised Trump’s honesty, blamed the Trump-Russia scandal on President Obama, and attacked the media.



Throughout the Mueller probe, we tried to give Rod Rosenstein some benefit of the doubt, if only because it appeared Mueller’s investigation wasn’t being screwed with. But the Mueller report reveals that Mueller only investigated a fraction of what was already publicly known about the Trump-Russia scandal, and didn’t probe Trump’s finances in order to figure out the financial component of the Trump-Russia election conspiracy. This all strongly suggests that Rosenstein crippled the Mueller probe, in order to protect Trump from his crimes.


We have no way of knowing if Rod Rosenstein was always corrupt, or if Donald Trump has found some way to threaten or blackmail Rosenstein into doing the wrong thing. Either way, Rosenstein’s behavior constitutes felony obstruction of justice. There is no way that the Department of Justice will prosecute Rosenstein for criminally conspiring with Trump and Barr, as long as Trump and Barr are in power. But the minute Trump is gone from office, Rosenstein and Barr both need to be prosecuted for obstruction. Let a judge and jury sort out how long they should go to prison for. But as far as justice is concerned, the two can share a cell.



The post Rod Rosenstein and William Barr can share a cell appeared first on Palmer Report.

Palmer Report

1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites)

Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (85 sites)


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“counterintelligence” – Google News: James Beard Awards 2019: Media Award Winners – Eater

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James Beard Awards 2019: Media Award Winners  Eater

Tonight the James Beard Foundation announced its Media Awards winners for 2019. Formerly known as the Book, Broadcast, and Journalism Awards, the …

“counterintelligence” – Google News


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Russia News: Voice of America: Children Born of IS Foreign Fighters, Syrian Mothers Face Uncertain Futures

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With the Islamic State’s physical caliphate destroyed, the next challenge for many countries is what to do with hundreds of children of IS militants stranded in Kurdish-held refugee camps of northeastern Syria. Those born to IS foreign fighters and Syrian mothers face the most uncertain future of all, according to local rights activists and experts. 

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced the final victory over IS in March after weeks of clashes in the eastern Syrian town of Baghuz. 

The operation brought many thousands of people to a makeshift refugee camp called al-Hol, consisting of fleeing civilians, arrested IS fighters and their family members. 

The camp managers are holding 10,000 women and children with ties to IS foreign fighters in a separate area of the camp, with children under 12 accounting for about 65% of this group, according to the International Committee for the Red Cross.

Hannah Grigg, a researcher at the Syria Justice and Accountability Center, told VOA those in the group who are born to IS foreign fighters and Syrian mothers could end up stateless as it remains uncertain which parent’s nationality each can obtain.

“That is a huge challenge going forward for these children added to the social stigma because they are associated with IS,” Grigg said. 

She noted that many of these children do not have strong claims to citizenship in their patriarchs’ home countries. Similarly, Syrian nationality laws do not allow citizenship claims based on mother’s nationality. 

Even if the Syrian state amends its rules to grant them citizenship, Grigg argued, many of the children are carrying their fathers’ physical features, making them stand out as foreigners with little hope of making their way into the society. 

Grass-roots campaigns 

Many activists in Syria are organizing initiatives to face this problem among many other issues left behind by IS. 

One of the campaigns — “Who is Your Husband?” — is trying to help reintegrate the Syrian women and children born to IS foreign fighters to the society by helping educate communities. 

The group, based in the northwestern governorate of Idlib, has documented more than 1,700 women married to foreign fighters, who joined IS or al-Qaida-aligned militants. It vows to continue its efforts, despite threats from the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) group.

Naseeb Abdul Aziz, the manager of the campaign, told VOA his team also is investigating the reasons that pushed Syrian women to marry the foreign fighters — sometimes despite their families’ strong objections. They also work on raising women’s awareness about the perils of such marriages and the consequences for their children.

“Many of these foreign fighters either fled or were killed without knowing their real identities, leaving these women and children to deal with their families, societies and fate,” said Aziz.

“These children remain without any civil rights. They will be deprived from their rights of having an identity, going to school and finding a job,” he said, adding that will be just one dimension of the difficult challenges facing Syria in the future. 

In addition, Aziz pointed to dealing with undocumented marriages and unregistered children, along with the deradicalization of women and children brainwashed by extremist ideology.

Pressure on camps

Officials in the Kurdish-controlled northeast region say an immediate solution for the detained IS relatives is necessary, particularly for the children who are facing diseases caused by poor living  conditions. 

WATCH: Thousands of Children Face Peril in Syrian Camps

Recent figures by the United Nations show that since December 2018, 211 children have died at the al-Hol camp or en route to it because of malnutrition or illness.

Samar Hussein, the co-chair of the Social Affairs and Labor Office of the Kurdish self-proclaimed administration in northeastern Syria, said many children and their mothers at the camp are sleeping in the open air without enough food or water. He pledged to seek international assistance to address the humanitarian needs of the refugees and their ultimate evacuation.

“We are in the process of discussing their fate with the Committee of Foreign Affairs in the self-autonomous region and also with the international coalition,” Hussein told VOA. 

Both the U.N. and the U.S. government have repeatedly asked that other governments take responsibility for repatriating IS foreign fighters — estimated to be 1,000 jihadists from more than 40 countries, along with their relatives.

Many countries remain reluctant to take them back, however, citing the difficulty of prosecuting the suspected fighters because of the hurdles involved in gathering battlefield evidence.

Voice of America

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Eurasia Review: US Could Shoot Itself In Foot With Russia Sanctions – OpEd

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By Sean McGuffin

US sanctions against Russia for interfering in its elections were
both justified and necessary, but some of these sanctions, if followed
to the letter, will hurt the United States and benefit Russia in
unintended ways. This is particularly true when looking at possible US
sanctions against the world’s largest democracy and a country the United
States is quickly growing close to: India. The Trump administration has
a choice to make, and, if it chooses poorly, the United States might
shoot itself in the foot with its own sanctions, to no real benefit.

In the wake of the 2016 US presidential election and clear evidence
of Russian interference, the Countering America’s Adversaries Through
Sanctions Act (CAATSA) was passed. Among many other things, it looked to
punish Russia and discourage other countries that do business with the
Russian arms industry.

India, a major purchaser of Russian arms, would fall under these
sanctions unless the Trump administration decides to provide a waiver.
It should do just that, because the alternative wouldn’t affect India’s
behavior, would leave that country only more reliant on Russian
equipment, and would likely hurt US business and interests more than
anything else. If US policymakers want to hit Moscow’s purse, they
should focus on helping India develop its own domestic defense industry
and on replacing Russia as a significant supplier.

The reason why any sanctions wouldn’t have the desired effect is
because India is dependent on Russian defense imports. India imports
more weapons than any other country on earth, and between 2013 and 2017 62%
of India’s foreign defense purchases came from Russia. If forced to
choose between a close US or Russian relationship, there is little doubt
where India would turn. New Delhi has no desire to disrupt its
decades-long defense relationship with Moscow, and, for the moment,
jeopardizing its ties with such a critical supplier isn’t an option.

Another reason why sanctions won’t work is because they wouldn’t achieve the immediate US objective of stopping the $5.4 billion arms deal currently underway.
This is because India believes it needs what Russia is selling, in this
case the S-400 air defense system, which is the most advanced system of
its kind in the world. Having fought wars with two of its neighbors,
China and Pakistan, in living memory, and given the depleted state of the Indian Air Force, New Delhi has an understandable need for such a system.

Finally, sanctioning India wouldn’t be in the US self-interest
either. The United States is India’s second-largest defense supplier
behind Russia, exporting billions of dollars of planes, helicopters, and
other materials to India over the past five years.
Applying sanctions now would make the United States appear like an
unreliable partner, simultaneously dealing a blow to any future defense
contracts and thus making the Indian military only more dependent on
Russian imports and goodwill.

This blow would also come at a time when US-India relations are just beginning to warm. The world’s two largest democracies regularly conduct military exercises, have signed several important defense agreements, and cooperate on half a dozen research and technology projects, including on sensitive technologies such as jet engines and aircraft carriers design.

To curb Russia’s lucrative Indian arms exports, the US should work on
increasing the US market share and increasing the number of technology
transfer projects like those already underway. This latter approach
would also play into India’s own desire to lower its dependency on
foreign defense suppliers, a goal voiced by successive Indian
administrations under then Prime Minister Singh and current Prime Minister Modi.

The White House has all the tools at hand to avoid sanctioning India.
Though initially, CAATSA didn’t allow waivers to be granted for major
defense purchases like these, after urging from then US Defense
Secretary Mattis and others, Congress passed an act that allows President Trump to grant waivers to CAATSA sanctions.

Despite this, the Trump administration has been sending mixed signals
as to whether a waiver will be granted. The administration did give
India a six month reprieve from the effects of sanctions on Iranian oil
in November 2018, but the waiver is set to expire in early May, and it’s unclear if it will be renewed.

Randall Schriver, the Pentagon’s Assistant Secretary of Defense for
Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, commented, “I can’t sit here and
tell you that they would be exempt, that we would use that waiver; that
will be the decision of the president.” President Trump said
he is “grateful for [his] friendship with Prime Minister Modi,” but
when asked directly about the possibility of a waiver he ominously commented that “India will find out. You’ll see. Sooner than you think.” Paired with the President’s remarks calling India the “tariff king,” it’s unclear what will happen.

The US was right to sanction Russia for its actions, and targeting
their international arms trade is a good idea, but sanctioning India
will not help the US. Ultimately CAATSA wants to limit Russian arms
sales as a revenue source for the Kremlin. To do this, rather than
punishing a potential ally, US policy should try to slowly replace
Russia as India’s most reliable defense supplier by demonstrating US
dependability and sharing technology, acting more like a competitor that
is offering a better deal than an authority penalizing noncompliance.
In the end, using the carrot will be far more effective than the stick.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect those of Geopoliticalmonitor.com or any institutions with which the authors are associated.

Eurasia Review


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Eurasia Review: Who Is Sisi Of Egypt? A Salafi – Analysis

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By Ramy Aziz*

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power in July 2013 through a military coup, supported by many sectors of Egyptian society that wanted to rid themselves of the religious rule imposed by Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood government. Yet religion has loomed large in Sisi’s identity, from a 2006 research paper written while studying at the United States Army War College,[1] to his consistent emphasis in speeches and interviews on the importance and necessity of religion, and his direct presidential responsibility for protecting religion and morality in Egyptian society. Has Egypt exchanged one religious regime for a similarly disposed but Salafist ruler?

Origin and Background

Egypt's Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Photo by Russian Presidential Press and Information Office, kremlin.ru, Wikipedia Commons.
Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Photo by Russian Presidential Press and Information Office, kremlin.ru, Wikipedia Commons.

To understand Sisi’s personality requires looking at his origin and
background. The future president was born in November 1954, in Cairo’s
religiously-suffused Gamaliya neighborhood. The area is one of the most
ancient neighborhoods in the city, going back to the Fatimid era,
containing the oldest and largest mosques in Egypt such as al-Azhar and
Hussein mosques. Sisi’s father, Said Sisi, worked in manufacturing, but
he originated in Monufia, a governorate located in the Nile Delta, best
known for men who join the armed forces, including former generals and
presidents Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak.

Abdel Fattah was raised in a devout Muslim family. His father was a religious conservative who followed the Sufi al-Ahmadiya (Badawiya) order. According to some sources, Said was the Badawiya leader in Gamaliya while the young Abdel Fattah was a follower of the same Sufi method.[2] In an interview with al-Ahram newspaper, Sisi said that his father gave him a silver ring with a black stone, famous among Sufis and religious Muslims because, according to Islamic practice, they cannot wear gold.[3] Though not his eldest son, Sisi’s father gave him the ring, evidence that he knew that his son would regard it the same way.

In childhood, Abdel Fattah went to Qur’an school in a mosque near his home.[4] His religious devotion was deep: He would often wake his family to attend prayers at a nearby mosque.[5] He also frequented al-Azhar Mosque to attend Sheikh Ismail Sadiq Adawi’s lessons and has said that the sheikh, a Sufi leader, had a profound influence on his personality.[6] He also attended Hussein Mosque for Sheikh Metwali ash-Shaarawy’s lectures. Shaarawy was not a Sufi follower but had something else in common with Adawi: Both were followers of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna. Shaarawy even wrote the Brotherhood’s first statement.

These early experiences contributed to Sisi’s personality, convictions, and vision of religion.[7] It is also noteworthy that Sisi does not like to sing or go to movie theaters. His conservative background and Sufi influences cannot be overemphasized.

The Islamic Egyptian Military

The religious identity of the Egyptian armed forces has been clear
since their reformation after the July 1952 coup d’état. At base, it is
an Islamic army, with religious ideology constituting an important
element in its orientation and decision-making. Its leaders continue to
believe in the principles of the July 1952 regime, founded by officers
imbued with Muslim Brotherhood principles.

This harmony between the Egyptian military and the Muslim Brotherhood is not a coincidence as the Free Officers Movement, which organized and carried out the 1952 coup, began as a Brotherhood cell. Most of the Free Officers figures who became members of the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), such as Gamal Abdel Nasser, Kamal ad-Din Hussein, and Khaled Muhieddin, had offered their allegiance to the Brotherhood in early 1946.[8] The movement also served as an extension of the Brotherhood’s military wing (at-tanzim al-khass), representing it within the Egyptian armed forces.

Gen. Saad Shazly, the armed forces’ chief-of-staff during the October 1973 war, made this explicit in a booklet written a year before the war titled “Our Religious Creed Is Our Way to Victory.”[9] In it, he used Qur’anic verses to urge soldiers to fight the Jews according to Islamic beliefs, reminding them that the Egyptian armed forces were Islamic, with jihad as their purpose. The booklet is strikingly consistent with ideas voiced by Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sayyid Qutb in a series of articles written in the early 1950s.[10]

However, once in power, the officers fell out with their parent
organization, which sought to exploit the coup to gain control for
itself over the levers of power. Following the breach, the Brotherhood
attempted to assassinate Nasser in 1954 and sustained a terror campaign
against the military regime. These activities resulted in the
incarceration of thousands of Islamists and the execution of scores,
including Qutb who had masterminded the movement’s violent campaign.
This rivalry, however, did not prevent the inculcation of generations of
Egyptian officers with religious principles.

If the movement was stymied by Nasser, it was revived under the reign of Anwar al-Sadat, who not only restored the Islamists to the public domain but also made Islamic law the main source of legislation. One of the movement’s leaders was Sheikh Shaarawy,[11] who had earlier played a role in shaping Sisi’s religious outlook. These changes came to the fore with renewed vigor in the wake of the January 2011 revolution and the new leaders who ruled Egypt, most notably Sisi.[12]

Sisi, the Armed Forces, and the Islamists

The military’s Islamic lineage is vital for understanding Sisi’s
views on a number of issues. He joined the armed forces in 1970 at age
sixteen, attending the Military Air Force High School and then the
Egyptian Military Academy, where he graduated in 1977. He was part of a
new generation of military men who hailed from conservative religious
backgrounds and/or tended to strict interpretation of religion, inspired
by the Islamic Awakening (as-Sahwa al-Islamiya) that swept Egyptian society.

A rapprochement exists between Sisi, the armed forces, and the Islamists; Egypt’s attitude to the U.S.-proclaimed war on terror and post-“Arab Spring” democratic transformation help illustrate this point, for all of them see Washington as trying to destroy Islam and conquer Muslim countries.[13] Sisi sees the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as reducing the chances for democratization in the Middle East and the Arab world.[14] He regards these wars as a cover for imposing profoundly ill-suited, Western-type secular democracy on Islamic nations.[15] These views resonate with fellow Islamists, who view secularism as the greatest threat to Islam.

Like the Brotherhood’s Qutb, Sisi rejects the comparison of an Islamic regime with any other, such as a socialist or democratic system, because a divine system cannot be compared with anything constituted by humans. Qutb also believes that Islam presents a complete and integrated system, which benefits from shura (consultation).[16] Here, Sisi’s views again coincide with the Islamists’: shura and the caliphate represent democracy appropriate for Muslims, who should not emulate the West. Sisi also believes that religion should remain the main regulating framework of the legislature, judiciary, and executive branches, rather than be considered a separate authority or source. In his view, to ensure that the three powers will work according to an Islamic framework, the constitution must explicitly state this,[17] which is now the case with the Egyptian constitution declared under his auspices in 2014.

Sisi considers Israel an obstacle to democracy and sees it as
representing Western interests. In his view, the Arab-Israeli conflict
is a main reason for the region’s poverty, extremism, and terrorism. In
his 2006 research paper, Sisi argued that,

When governments become excessively powerful, the oppressed may respond through terrorist acts. The occupied territory in Israel is a good example. Because the oppression exists, a fertile environment is created that ultimately leads to extremist movements.[18]

This attitude is also reflected in Sisi’s anti-Israel rhetoric in his address on the forty-fifth anniversary of the October 1973 war—despite Jerusalem’s considerable support to Egypt’s fight against Islamist terrorism in Sinai—and in his benign aloofness to the media’s ongoing anti-Israel incitement.[19]

Sisi and the Salafists

When Sisi announced the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi and the end of the
Muslim Brotherhood regime on July 3, 2013, religious rule was widely
seen as having ended. But it had not. Sisi’s real piety, ideas, and
actions are quintessentially Salafist. His 2006 paper illustrates this
basic tendency, as do many of his recent public statements and
actions—despite his care not to reveal his Salafist inclinations.

When Sisi surrounded himself with figures representing the Egyptian
people and public opinion, Galal al-Morra, secretary-general of an-Nur
political party, represented the Salafists. What was the leader of a
religious party, founded after the January 2011 revolution as the
political wing of the Salafist Call, doing there? Nur’s objectives do
not differ much from the dissolved Muslim Brotherhood in that both seek
to apply the Shari’a and Islamize all aspects of life.

Sisi invited Nur to stand by his side for two main reasons. First,
Egyptians remain positive about Islam, and Nur protected him against the
inevitable Brotherhood attempt to incite public opinion against him by
portraying Morsi’s overthrow as a war on Islam. He needed a non-official
representative of Islam to defend him and polish his image.

Second, Sisi did not allow supporters of the secular civil state or Copts to demand any changes to the Egyptian state that challenge its Islamic identity. He wanted, in particular, to reject the many demands to change the constitution’s second article, which states, “The principles of Islamic law are the main source of legislation.” Salafis are ideally placed to confront such challenges and thwart efforts to establish a civil state; this was confirmed by the proceedings of the Fiftieth Committee, which was tasked with amending the constitution. According to Muhammad Abul Ghar, a committee member, as a result of the deal between the Salafis and the Egyptian military, Islamists successfully resisted any attempt even to mention the secular nature of the Egyptian state.[20]

Leaders of al-Nur, a Salafist political party, supported Sisi's election in 2014 and 2018. Nur's objectives do not differ significantly from the dissolved Muslim Brotherhood's in that both seek to apply the Shari'a and Islamize all aspects of life.
Leaders of al-Nur, a Salafist political party, supported Sisi’s election in 2014 and 2018. Nur’s objectives do not differ significantly from the dissolved Muslim Brotherhood’s in that both seek to apply the Shari’a and Islamize all aspects of life.

In turn, Sisi provided Nur with protection, which it needed because its very existence contravenes the constitution, which prohibits the establishment of a political party on a religious basis. On these grounds, the Supreme Administrative Court dissolved the Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party (Hizb al-Hurriya wa’l-Adala); in another decision, however, it granted Nur the right to exist. Sisi even argued that Nur’s activities “enrich the democratic life in Egypt.”[21]

In a January 2015 address to the sheikh of al-Azhar and other sheikhs and imams, Sisi demanded a religious revolution that would revise Islamic traditional beliefs and ideas. He reminded his listeners that it was illegitimate for Muslims to cause death and destruction throughout the world. The speech was warmly welcomed in the West where many viewed Sisi as an Islamic reformer, who would bring hoped-for changes in the region. Far from it: Sisi’s address was mere propaganda directed at Western and other public opinion while al-Azhar and the Salafis gained increasing dominance over many aspects of Egyptian life.[22] Most of al-Azhar’s scholars, imams and preachers adhere to Wahhabism, a branch of Salafism, so, contrary to its reputation, al-Azhar is not solely in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood.

As a state institute, al-Azhar has filed lawsuits against figures such as writer Islam Behery and Sheikh Abdallah Nasr, who urge religious reform and oppose Salafist ideology and were subsequently imprisoned.[23] Liberal journalist Ibrahim Issa’s television show, where he revealed connections between the teachings of al-Azhar and Salafism on the one hand and Islamic State (ISIS) on the other, was cancelled. Other individuals have been accused of infidelity and blasphemy.

As these battles over Islam raged, Sisi dispatched his interior minister, Magdi Abdel Ghaffar, to al-Azhar to proclaim the state’s support. With this, he signaled that the interior ministry, the most prominent face of repression in Egypt, would suppress any moderate voices criticizing al-Azhar and Salafist extremism.[24] Subsequently, many of Sisi’s al-Azhar supporters—including Salem Abdul Jalil and Usama Rushdi—in addition to Yasser Borhamy, vice president of the Nur Party appeared on television to vilify Christians and Jews. Despite many lawsuits by human and civil rights lawyers and activists against these supporters, no trials have taken place; the judiciary embraces the same Salafist views.[25]

Demonstrators protest against Sisi's visit to London, November 2015. Under Sisi, the Egyptian state has used all means of communication to silence voices calling for civil society and democracy. Dissenters urging religious reform and opposing Salafist ideology have been imprisoned.
Demonstrators protest against Sisi’s visit to London, November 2015. Under Sisi, the Egyptian state has used all means of communication to silence voices calling for civil society and democracy. Dissenters urging religious reform and opposing Salafist ideology have been imprisoned.

Under Sisi, the Egyptian state has used all means of communication to silence voices calling for civil society and democracy, leaving the arena wide open to advocates of Salafism.[26] Sisi also supports decisions that tighten the religious grip on society. As part of the regime’s ostensible fight against Islamist terrorism, it established “fatwa kiosks” in subway stations, offering religious rulings to the millions of Egyptian passengers using the subway system every day. This experiment was ended without any explanation after the issuance of a number of controversial fatwas, most likely because Sisi was reluctant to expose the regime’s real Salafist face.

Conclusion

Sisi’s ideas and actions clearly reflect Salafist influences; he sees
Islam as society’s foundation and considers it his responsibility as
ruler to insure this vision. This explains why he has stated that the
caliphate—merging political and religious authorities—is ideal for
Muslim countries and why he rejects democracy as a form of Western
secularism. Given Sisi’s Sufi inclinations, one might call him a
“Salafist dervish.”

Sisi also represents the face of the Egyptian military, which sees
itself as an Islamic army. The conflict between the military and the
civilian Islamists is a struggle for power. That is why Sisi overthrew
the Muslim Brotherhood; had they remained in power longer, they would
have purged the military of its political and economic centers of power.
To ensure a façade of continuity, Sisi presented himself as an
alternative to the Brotherhood; yet he was careful to position himself
as an alternative that combines both military and religious power. In
this way, the president is establishing an authoritarian, military,
Islamic, Salafist state.

*About the author: Ramy Aziz (@Ramy_Aziz1) is a research fellow at the Institute for the Study of Global Anti-Semitism and Policy (ISGAP). He is currently a visiting fellow at the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas, focusing on the emergence and evolution of political Islam in Europe.

Source: This article was published by Middle East Forum, Spring 2019

Notes:

[1] Brig. Gen. Abdelfattah Said ElSisi, “Democracy in the Middle East,” U.S. Army War College, Carlisle, Pa.; on which, see Daniel Pipes, “What Egypt’s President Sisi Really Thinks,Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2014.

[2] Al-Bawaba News (Cairo), June 7, 2015.

[3] Al-Ahram (Cairo), May 17, 2014.

[4] Al-Watan (Cairo), Aug. 24, 2013.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Soutalomma (Cairo), Sept. 11, 2015.

[7] “Sisi: Mutabati li’l-Sheikh ash-Shaarawi fi’l-Segar Shakl Shakhsiyati,” You Tube, May 5, 2014.

[8] Khaled Mohieddin, Wa’l-An Atakallamu (Cairo: al-Ahram, 1992), pp. 45-6; Ida’at (Cairo), Oct. 1, 2018.

[9] Saad Shazly, Aqidatuna al-Askariya Tariquna li’l-Nasr (Cairo: Ministry of Defense, 1972).

[10] Sayyid Qutb, Ma’rakatuna Ma’a al-Yahud (Cairo: Dar ash-Shuruk, 1988).

[11] Adel Darwish, “Obituary: Sheikh Muhammad Mutwali Sharawi,” The Independent (London), June 18, 1998.

[12] Gilad Wenig, “Egypt’s Army of God,” The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Washington, D.C., Nov. 4, 2014.

[13] Islamway website, Feb. 28, 2010.

[14] Eric Trager, “Portrait of the General as a Not-So-Young Grad Student,” Foreign Policy, Aug. 7, 2013.

[15] ElSisi, “Democracy in the Middle East.”

[16] Sayyid Qutb, Al-Adala al-Ijtima’iya fi’l-Islam (Cairo: Dar ash-Shuruk, 1995), pp. 75- 86.

[17] ElSisi, “Democracy in the Middle East.”

[18] Ibid.

[19] Haisam Hassanein, “Sisi’s Anti-Israel Rhetoric: New Speeches, Old Problems,” The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Oct. 17, 2018.

[20] “Abul Ghar: al-Jaish zawara nass al-Dustur,” You Tube, Dec. 16, 2013.

[21] Reuters, Aug. 10, 2014; Daily News Egypt (Cairo), July 5, 2015.

[22] Daniel Pipes, “Sisi and the Reform of Islam,” National Review, Jan. 19, 2015.

[23] Mada Masr (Egypt), Dec. 29, 2015.

[24] Ramy Aziz, “Sisi’s Religious Revolution Falls Flat,” The Times of Israel, Apr. 20, 2015.

[25] Five Pillars (Britain), May 12, 2017.

[26] The Guardian (London), Aug. 1, 2017.

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Eurasia Review: Russia’s First Female Central Bank Governor In Challenging Job – Interview

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By Olga Stankova*

Within a few short months after taking up her post as governor of the
Central Bank of Russia in 2013, Elvira Nabiullina faced a growing
economic crisis brought on by plunging oil prices, geopolitical
tensions, and sanctions.

By December 2014, the exchange rate and the banking system were under
severe pressure, and the economy was heading into recession. A decisive
response was needed, and the central bank chose to float the exchange
rate, announce an immediate move to inflation targeting, and step up the
pace of banking reform. These bold policies have yielded significant
positive results.

The first female governor of the Central Bank of Russia, Nabiullina was named 2015’s Central Bank Governor of the Year by Euromoney magazine and 2016’s Best Central Bank Governor in Europe by The Banker.

She has also appeared on Forbes’ list of the world’s most powerful women. In September 2018, she delivered the Michel Camdessus Central Banking Lecture at the IMF.

In this interview with Olga Stankova of the IMF’s Communications
Department, Nabiullina, who previously served as Minister of Economic
Development, discusses her experience leading Russia’s central bank
during this challenging period.

Finance & Development (F&D): Inflation targeting—that
is, when a central bank announces a target for inflation and manages
inflation expectations through its policy actions—is often considered
fairly complex and demanding for emerging market economies. What was the
rationale for adopting this policy in Russia?

Looking at the experience of other countries, we saw inflation
targeting as a policy that makes it possible to reduce inflation and
maintain it consistently at a fairly low level. Of course, this policy
can be challenging for emerging markets, because their financial markets
are relatively shallow and – what is probably more important –
inflation targeting requires the management of inflation expectations.

This is challenging in an emerging market where the public has lived
through periods of high inflation, grown accustomed to high inflation,
and does not believe that low inflation can be achieved over the longer
term.

Of course, there were many critics of the decision to adopt inflation
targeting, because Russia relies heavily on revenue from the extraction
of natural resources. Many believed that this feature of our economy
would limit the effectiveness of inflation targeting.

But I believe the decision was timely and warranted; indeed, the need for a transition became obvious after the 2008 crisis.

We, in any event, did not make an abrupt switch to inflation
targeting. We had already begun to prepare for it after the 2008-2009
crisis. First, we developed the tools needed to refinance banks, and
those tools made it possible to use interest rate policy—through the
transmission mechanism—to manage inflation.

Second, we gradually moved to a more flexible exchange rate: from a fairly strictly managed rate to a floating rate.

Third—and very importantly—inflation targeting depends on the quality
of models, projections, and analysis, so we also developed that
capacity. I think that these three elements were crucial to ensuring
that—in introducing inflation targeting—we were able to achieve the
effects that we had promised the public.

Now, after four years of inflation targeting, I believe that this
policy framework suits countries such as Russia—that is to say, emerging
market economies. Many have adopted this policy, and I don’t know any
examples of countries that officially switched from inflation targeting
to different policies.

F&D: The exchange rate was floated at the peak of the
crisis in late 2014. Were there any other good choices in that
situation? And was managing the exchange rate for a while longer an
option?

EN: Indeed, we had to move to a floating exchange
rate during a period of elevated risks to financial stability. I am
convinced, however, that this was not a reason to put off the decision.
We would have simply spent some part of our gold and forex reserves and
then would have needed to float anyhow.

In my view, the floating exchange rate has worked well to absorb
external shocks and has facilitated a rapid adjustment of the balance of
payments. We saw that again during the following cycle, in 2016. You
will recall that in early 2016, oil prices fell, and thanks to the
floating exchange rate, the effects on the financial markets as a whole
were unremarkable.

F&D: You worked on the exchange rate policy before
adopting inflation targeting. Would you advise countries looking at your
experience to move to a floating exchange rate earlier in the process?

EN: We floated the exchange rate gradually. Before I
came to the central bank, the corridor had already been widened,
allowing increased flexibility of the exchange rate.

There is one issue that I would like to highlight: it is true that we
floated the exchange rate during a period of financial stress, and at
that moment, it was important to actually float it—not just talk about
floating. All countries have a fear of floating, and during a difficult
period of instability, that fear increases.

F&D: What has the CBR done to broaden public support for
the policies you followed? And what was the role of communications
during the crisis and the subsequent transition period?

EN: Communication was very important during the
transition from one policy to another, both to explain to society what
was happening and to demonstrate the benefits of the new policy. This
was especially true because the transition to inflation targeting was
accompanied by an unpopular measure—raising the policy rate—and the
floating exchange rate also frightened people.

Inflation targeting, of course, requires a qualitatively higher level
of communications with the market than other policies, as inflation
targeting is based on the management of expectations and on forecasts.
It was thus critically important for us to establish the needed
communications.

We greatly expanded our communications toolkit, starting with
announcing the dates of Board meetings a year in advance, which had not
been done before. We also began to hold press conferences and provide
more analytical materials, reports, interviews, and surveys, as well as
arrange meetings with investors and analysts.

In addition, we also worked with the regions, where we met with
business, analysts, and the regional leadership to make sure that our
policies were understood. But the most fundamental element of our
communications has been achieving our announced target. Only then do
people start believing what you say, and your forecasts.

I want to mention one more important aspect of communications. At
first, the focus was on ensuring that analysts and market professionals
understood what we did. What is important now is to communicate with a
broader business audience and the public, to build trust in our policy,
and to give people greater confidence as they make their life and
business plans, allowing them to rely on the fact that inflation is
under control.

F&D: There has been fairly serious pressure on the
central bank, including from business, to reduce the rate faster than
you would like. What does it take to withstand that pressure?

EN: We have just consistently followed our policy.
Our task was to show in practice that high interest rates were curbing
inflation, and that interest rates in the economy would come down along
with inflation. This is what started to happen in 2016-2017.

We see that mortgage lending, for example, began to develop; and the
inflation outlook is very important for that type of lending. We are
trying to show the business community that our policy is in its
interest, and notably that it is needed lengthen the planning horizon.

These changes have of course not always easy for business. It is one
thing when high inflation allows you to shift your costs into constantly
rising prices, and another thing entirely when your ability to do this
is more limited. In order to be competitive, you need to make efforts to
raise labor productivity and lower costs.

This is a challenge for business, but we believe that low inflation
is by now one of the structural factors that will change the model of
economic development, enhance productivity.

Now we experience a temporary increase in inflation mostly because
the VAT rate was increased, and we raised the key rate to prevent
inflation from upward spiraling. We expect it to reach as much as 5.5-6%
by the end of Q1, and then it will start decreasing. Once again, we’ve
faced critics because of key rate, but we also see how fast people
started to take low inflation as normal, how much they are concerned
about its growth. And this helps to set our priorities straight: low
inflation is important for everyone, we’ll do what’s needed to keep it
within the target in spite of critics.

F&D: In retrospect, how do you assess the results of
adopting inflation targeting in Russia? Are there some things that you
might have done differently with the benefit of hindsight?

EN: I think that inflation targeting, like the floating exchange rate, has been working.

First, we are now able to actually achieve inflation targets.
Sometimes we are told that we are attaining our goal of reducing
inflation by raising interest rates too high and suppressing economic
growth.

However, our calculations show that this is not really the case,
because the present economic growth rate is close to the potential
growth rate of 1½ to 2 percent.

The historically low level of unemployment is further evidence of
this. In addition, raising economic growth using monetary policy when
output is close to potential is not possible; one needs to make
structural changes.

Inflation targeting is indeed accomplishing its central objective,
which is to reduce inflation. Along with the floating exchange rate,
inflation targeting has made the economy more resistant to external
shocks.

Our policy has made it possible for both business and the public to
have more confidence in ruble assets: that they will not be devalued,
and that the purchasing power of the ruble will be maintained.

One indicator of this, among others, is de-dollarization of deposits.
Regulatory measures have, of course, also played a role. In sum, I am
confident that strategically we have taken the right decision, even if
some fine-tuning might have been possible.

When some people talk about what happened in 2014, they say that
everything should have been done earlier. But a month or two earlier
would have changed little. A few years earlier? Yes, possibly that would
have been better.

There is also the opposite criticism, which holds that when we raised
the interest rate and floated the exchange rate, it was a mistake not
to intervene in the foreign exchange market. The critics point to the
risks to financial stability at that time and claim that, in the end, we
let the exchange rate overshoot too much.

However, I believe it was absolutely necessary to go through that
stage. To bring about a change in policy, it was important for people to
see that the exchange rate was in fact floating and, therefore, that it
should find its equilibrium level in the market. If we had intervened,
we would have continued to waste gold and foreign exchange reserves
while stoking expectations of further devaluation.

F&D: You also reformed the banking sector. What were the economic and political considerations behind your course of action?

EN: Stable economic growth requires a stable, strong
financial system. A weak financial system cannot support economic
growth. Our banking system had accumulated a range of problems that we
have been tackling in recent years.

First, the banking system lacked sufficient genuine capital. You will
recall that the banking system emerged very quickly in the early 1990s,
and without capital. Even afterward, capital did not flow into the
system in any significant amounts.

Second, as a result of the crises of 2008 and then 2014-2015, the
quality of banks’ assets deteriorated. Those assets remained on banks’
balance sheets, and it was necessary to deal with them. Another reason
is that banks were often used for unscrupulous practices. Their owners
used them to finance their own business, with poor risk management, and
there was money laundering.

It became obvious that the banking system had to be restructured, as
it could not support growth, and it would continue to require large
financial infusions to survive a crisis.

It is clear why it was necessary to provide such support in 2008 and
2014: it was impossible to let the banking system collapse, as this
would have immediately led to a domino effect and contagion. We had to
take measures on improving health of banking system to avoid new
infusions in future.

We revoked about 400 licenses from unstable and fraudulent banks, and
moreover. We had to restructure three large banks, and this led to an
increase in the share of state ownership in the banking sector. We are
trying to build regulation and supervision that treats banks equally,
regardless of whether the state holds their shares.

We recognize that the market would like to see a reduction in the
share of state ownership; we certainly intend to put banks in which we
are temporarily holding a share back on the market as soon as there is
an opportunity.

F&D: In 2013 you also assumed responsibility for nonbank
financial institutions, and the central bank became a “mega-regulator.”
Has that reform proven worthwhile, and how do you assess the results?

EN: It is probably quite rare for a central bank to
be responsible not just for monetary policy and bank regulation and
supervision, but also for the non-bank sector. Moreover, the functions
of a securities commission have also been assigned to the central bank.

One feature of our economy is that our largest banks are part of
groups that include insurance companies and private pension funds, and
the risks are commingled. Seeing the full picture is difficult looking
at the banking sector on its own. One also needs to look at the
relationships between banks and other members of a financial group.

In our view, the mega-regulator approach has many benefits that
became evident—for example, when we began to restructure the three large
groups. We were able to take a consolidated view of an entire group and
identify the risks within it, and that allowed us to understand the
scale of the problems in those groups.

A holistic view of financial regulation also reduces regulatory
arbitrage and makes it easier to ensure uniform approaches and
standards.

It is likely that there are also some drawbacks to a mega-regulator.
The central bank, on the one hand, issues money and implements monetary
policy, while on the other hand it supervises banks, which includes the
revocation of licenses.

It makes room for the public demand for the mega-regulator to solve
banks’ problems by issuing money as we couldn’t prevent their collapses.
And the mega-regulator has to survive under this pressure and should
build walls between, for example, banking supervision and monetary
policy.

But in spite of some controversies, I think that the idea of a
mega-regulator is in my view very promising given the way the financial
markets are developing. The boundaries between financial institutions
are becoming blurred; there is digitalization of the financial system,
ecosystems and platform solutions are emerging.

It is frequently said that bank regulation grew much tougher after
the 2007 crisis, and that risks moved to other, less regulated parts of
the financial sector. A consolidated approach helps us better oversee
the shadow banking system.

F&D: You are seen as a very independent central banker. How did you manage to overcome pressure and criticism?

EN: Well, we have not quite overcome it yet.

F&D: At least you stayed the course.

EN: When serious changes are being made, there are
always a lot of critics. That said, surveys showed for many years that
inflation was the number one problem for people, but it has now dropped
far down the list. For us, this is an important policy outcome. Low
inflation has a positive effect on people’s social well-being.

For business, low inflation allows for a reduction in interest rates—
over the long-term and not just as a one-off result. This is very
different from giving someone cheap money, reducing rates, and
afterwards rates rise dramatically, because inflation has spiraled up.

F&D: You are now viewed as a very successful central
banker. Is this the result of your analytical approach and correct
calculations, or was there some luck involved?

EN: I think that it is important to simply implement
policy in a consistent way. The goal of transitioning to inflation
targeting was already announced before I came to the central bank, and
much preparatory work had already been done. It was important to be
consistent during turbulent times, rather than panicking and flailing
about. It was also vital not to put off necessary decisions. The
problems facing central banks usually do not simply “go away.” A late
decision carries high costs for society. And a populist monetary policy
has negative consequences even if it seems easier.

F&D: What leadership qualities are essential for success as a central banker?

EN: First, find professionals you can rely on and do
not be afraid to surround yourself with strong people. Stimulate
debate, so people are not afraid to express their opinion. And then, on
this basis, take a decision, and do not deviate from it.

It is important for people who work at a central bank to understand
that they are working for the public good, for long-range goals. We need
to deliver on our promises to society. That is a key principle for me
and for our staff.

In any policy, including monetary policy, it is not possible to avoid compromises. However, it is important to understand that there are limits to compromise.

*Olga Stankova is with the Communications Department at the International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Opinions expressed in articles and other materials in IMF’s Finance & Development are those of the authors; they do not necessarily reflect IMF policy.

Finance & Development, the IMF’s quarterly print magazine and online editorial platform, publishes cutting-edge analysis and insight on the latest trends and research in international finance, economics, and development. F&D is published quarterly in English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, and Spanish, and is written by both IMF staff and prominent international experts.

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Eurasia Review: Sri Lanka: The Bloody Easter Sunday And Its Aftermath – OpEd

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By Sumit Ganguly*

(FPRI) — The death toll from the Easter Sunday bombings in and near Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, has exceeded 300 and keeps rising. In the meanwhile, the suicide bombers have at least partially accomplished one of their principal goals: to sow discord between the Muslim and Christian communities of Sri Lanka. This particular fault line had not previously existed in this poly-ethnic country. Instead, the principal ethnic cleavage had pitted the Sinhala majority (nearly 75 percent of the population) against the Tamil minority (a little more than 12 percent of the population) and had culminated in a sanguinary civil war between 1983 and 2009.

Since the civil war’s end,
Sinhala-majority governments had made only feeble efforts at any form of
ethnic reconciliation. Instead, they had countenanced (and on occasion,
even tacitly encouraged) the rise of Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism
thereby causing renewed anxiety amongst the country’s minority groups.
Given that Muslims and Christians constitute less than 20 percent of the
total population, the communities had tended to band together in the
face of rising Sinhala jingoism. Today, many aggrieved Christians either
distrust their Muslim compatriots or, in some cases, actually see them
as enemies. Already in the wake of the Sunday bombings, mosques have
been attacked, Muslim-owned businesses gutted, and entire groups of
Muslims who had lived in mixed neighborhoods have fled for fear of their
lives. Accordingly, within the span of a week, a wholly new dimension
to the ethnic divide in the country has now come to the fore.

In light of this setback, it is
important to try to understand the possible forces that led up to it.
First, how did these horrific attacks occur given that few Muslims,
including members of the National Thowheed Jamaat (the terrorist
organization that has been charged with these acts), had expressed any
hostility toward the Christian community? If anything, they may have
directed their wrath against Buddhists given that they had been the
victims of Buddhist hostility. As press reports have suggested, their
members had vandalized some Buddhist statues in the recent past, but had
not resorted to any further violence against any community.

Second, now that it is more than evident
that India, Sri Lanka’s behemoth neighbor, had provided both early,
prompt, and highly specific warnings about the impending attacks, why
did the Sri Lankan government fail to take steps to forestall the spate
of attacks?

The answer that the Sri Lankan
government has proposed to the first question is seemingly plausible,
but ultimately unsatisfactory. The government has suggested that it was
in direct retaliation against the gruesome attack that took place
against a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, in late March of this
year. Yet, that link appears quite tenuous. The bombings in Sri Lanka
were both carefully coordinated and were exceedingly powerful. A
virtually unknown terrorist organization acting entirely on its own
could have hardly obtained the requisite materials, selected targets,
and found a sufficient number of recruits to carry out suicide missions
in such a short time span. Consequently, it appears reasonable to
surmise that this plot had been hatched for some time. Also, more than
likely, the plotters had guidance and inspiration from outside sources.
More to the point, it seems likely that a section of Sri Lanka’s Muslim
community had been soaking up a toxic ideology that has gripped other
Muslim groups elsewhere and especially in parts of the Middle East and
South Asia. Since the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the
attacks, it remains to be seen the extent to which it had worked in
concert with the National Thowheed Jamaat. It seems highly likely that
the reference to the Christchurch attack may have simply been a
convenient symbol to latch on to as a justification for the terror
unleashed in Colombo and its environs.

The answer to the second question is
equally complex. It is entirely possible that the Sri Lankan security
and intelligence authorities failed to pass on the information that
their Indian counterparts had shared in a timely fashion because of the
troubled internal politics of the country. The President, Maithrapala
Sirisena, has been at odds with the Prime Minister, Ranil
Wickremesinghe, for some time. Indeed, earlier last year, Sirisena had
sought to dismiss his prime minister only to have the Sri Lankan Supreme
Court have Wickremesinghe reinstated. It is not known the extent to
which President Sirisena’s subordinates had informed him about the
intelligence that they had received. However, it stands to reason that
Sirisena may well have chosen not to share whatever information he had
received with Wickremesinghe given their deep-seated differences.

Furthermore, given that the information
had come from India, with which Sri Lanka has had a fraught relationship
over the years, it is possible that the relevant authorities had simply
discounted its veracity. Cognitive biases on their part, which may well
have led them to be more focused on the possibilities of renewed Tamil
terrorism, may also have reinforced their reservations about information
that they received.

More complete answers to both questions will probably emerge in the weeks and months ahead. However, there is little or no question that Sri Lanka, which had enjoyed a decade of relative ethnic peace, despite the growth of Buddhist chauvinism, can no longer count on such a future. Instead, it now faces a new cross-cutting ethnic cleavage. Unless the current leadership can muster the courage, imagination, and verve to set aside personal and political differences, the country once again faces the distinct possibility of yet another ethnic conflagration. The challenge of containing the new ethnic divide is, no doubt, daunting. A failure to do so, however, will be nothing short of courting disaster.

*About the author: Sumit Ganguly, an FPRI Senior Fellow, holds the Rabindranath Tagore Chair in Indian Cultures and Civilizations and is a Professor of Political Science at Indiana University in Bloomington.

Source: This article was published by FPRI

Eurasia Review


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“Get FBI out of Counterintelligence” – Google News: Stefanik: Stop future Russian meddling – The Daily Gazette

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Stefanik: Stop future Russian meddling  The Daily Gazette

SCHUYLERVILLE — Russian interference in U.S. elections must prevented in the future, even it requires pushing President Donald Trump’s administration to …

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Eurasia Review: Against The Primacy Of Politics: Against The Overestimation Of Majority Principle – OpEd

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By Robert Nef*

Much as one may admire the
clear-sightedness of Greco-Roman political philosophy and especially
Aristotle, one should not shy away from fundamental criticism. It has
had a pervasive and toxic influence on the history of political thought.

Athens—on the Back of an Army of Slaves

For Aristotle, democracy was a decayed form of that “rule by
the many” that he called a polity. So the career of the term
“democracy,” which is generally regarded nowadays as positive, began
with radical criticism. Aristotle accurately identified and described
the potential of the principle of majority rule to degenerate. His Politics is a plea for a mixed constitution. He differentiates between rule by one, few or many. All three forms of government can be basically positive if they “rule with a view to the common profit” and fail if they serve only to benefit the one or the few
or the many. Aristotle regards it as possible for the many to rule
virtuously, but he considers it unlikely. His reasoning is entirely
empirical:

For while it is possible for one or a few to be outstandingly virtuous, it is difficult for a larger number to be accomplished in every virtue, but it can be so in military virtue in particular. That is precisely why the class of defensive soldiers, the ones who possess the weapons, has the most authority in this constitution.

Deviations from these are tyranny from kingship, oligarchy from aristocracy, and democracy from polity. For tyranny is rule by one person for the benefit of the monarch, oligarchy is for the benefit of the rich, and democracy is for the benefit of the poor. But none is for their common profit.1

Although Aristotle showed himself to be a shrewd observer of his
contemporaries when he defined man as a political animal (zoon
politikon), in my opinion he prepared the way for a devastating
overestimation of political, and a momentous underestimation of private,
economic and civil society. For aristocrats like himself and Plato
before him, and for many leisured aesthetes who came after him, homo oeconomicus—the
farmer, the tradesman, the service provider and the merchant—was
nothing but a philistine. These people—on the back of an army of slaves
and other disenfranchised persons—concerned themselves with such banal
activities as making a living. In continental Europe, this kind of
division of labor between economics and politics has led to a widespread
contempt for homo oeconomicus and for the economy as such, in both the broad and narrow sense of the word. The intellectual preference for homo politicus over homo oeconomicus is
alive and well. The “primacy of politics,” as a fundamental principle
of a grey-haired generation of believers in codetermination and
grassroots democracy, still haunts the literature of social sciences.

Appenzell as the Counterpart of Ancient Athens

Direct democracy as embodied in the Appenzell “Landsgemeinde” differs markedly from the democracy of the Athenians.2 In Athens, the popular assemblies were convened three or four times a month and those who attended received a per diem payment. The assembly of the people controlled the civil service, supervised the state-regulated distribution of grain, decided whether to go to war or make peace, passed verdicts in cases of treason, ostracized citizens considered a danger to the state, listened to petitions, and selected the key functionaries for military matters, for whom war then became crucial to their survival. The Council of 500 met practically every day! The Convention, which was established during the French Revolution and became the model for many contemporary parliamentary systems, took many of its ideas from this system. In this way, politics itself becomes the disease that it is supposed to cure.

A marked contrast is provided by the political system of the two
Appenzells, which have managed to compete peacefully for centuries with
politically comparable but religiously and culturally differing ways of
governing and living. This political system, which was practiced
consistently for more than five hundred years, was in fact direct
democracy. This refutes all assertions, including those of Aristotle,
that rule by the many must collapse eventually under the weight of its
internal deficiencies because it would inevitably lead to exploitation
of the minority of rich citizens by the majority of the non-rich.

At the “Landsgemeinde,” a kind of open-air general assembly,
elections were held and laws passed—or thrown out if there was no
consensus. The chief magistrate, who was mandated by the people to act
in a part-time capacity as head of the government, was entrusted for one
year with the state seal with which contracts were officially sealed
and was required to render public account to the effect that any action
taken had been “for the good of the country.”

All posts in government and the judiciary were—and in some cases
still are—part-time, unsalaried, and restricted to one year. There is no
such thing as a professional politician; politics is merely a part of
the function of each citizen. Those in positions of responsibility were
elected and dismissed directly by the people. Their powers were always
severely restricted. These involved, in particular, foreign policy, the
legal system, and cantonal road construction. There was almost nothing
to distribute apart from burdens. The decision to embark on a military
campaign was taken by those who then made up the army. This co-identity
of those taking the decision with those who had to implement it is
crucial, especially in the area of military service where the collective
demands that the individual put his life in jeopardy. In this case,
Aristotle got it right. Where it is a matter of choosing war or peace—a
fundamental political question—the many, who bear the consequences of
the decision, are in fact more competent to decide than the few who may
benefit from it.

This is the essential difference between the slave-owners and
politicking idlers of Athens and the hard-working small farmers of
Appenzell, who not only labored on their own land but also formed the
militia that protected it. The importance of public and private issues—res publica and res privata—was
fundamentally different. Generally the minimum consensus was found at
the “Landsgemeinde” through the procedures of direct democracy, often
with very substantial majorities. Sometimes the assemblies would end in
dispute, but although all those present were armed, the disputes did not
lead to bloodshed. For one day in the year, each man was a zoon politikon.
The other 364 days belonged to the “Häämetli” (i.e., the home farm),
its private economy, the community of one’s family, and the locally
anchored culture. In summary, therefore, the process of building
consensus within a democracy on the basis of the principle of majority
rule is possible if it is limited in terms of scope, timeframe, and
finance to the smallest possible portion of the life of a civil society,
and if co-determination remains the exception to the rule of
self-determination.

The practice of direct democracy in the two Appenzells has been
presented here in a simplified and—admittedly—idealized way. It is
regrettable that the open assembly, which had been an institution in
Canton Appenzell Ausserrhoden, an industrialized area since the 19th
century, was discontinued about ten years ago. However, it proved
possible to retain the militia principle and the relatively lean
political apparatus.

Without the instinctual distrust of all kinds of power, the principle
of majority rule is in danger of doing away with that creative
dissidence on which majorities too have to rely over the longer term. In
the final analysis, protection for minorities protects the majority
from collective stupefaction, but a great deal of nonsense is also
propagated on the back of protection for minorities. It is often used to
introduce group privileges of all kinds. We must not lose sight of the
fact that, as Ayn Rand observed, the most important minority is the
individual.

Self-Determination Is Better Than Co-Determination

Co-determination in accordance with the principle of majority rule is
not an end in itself. It enjoys a subsidiary position vis-à-vis acts of
individual self-determination. I remind readers of the priority enjoyed
by the “home farm” over the wider community in Appenzell, namely 364 to
1. The burden of proof, as regards long-term practicability and common
benefit, is borne by those who want to replace personal autonomy based
on the principle of self-determination with collective autonomy based on
the principle of majority rule.

One should not make it too easy for them to provide this proof before the intellectual forum that assesses political power in theory at first and then also in practice. Despite Alcuin’s and Lichtenberg’s formulation (vox populi vox Dei), and consonant with Hans Hoppe, the principle of majority rule is “a god that is none.”3

The compulsion to do good and, above all, the compulsion to do what the majority holds to be good, turns diversity into uniformity and has a destructive impact on the community overall. Every creative community is based on peaceful competition, and if the principle of majority rule is misused to get rid of unpopular alternative solutions, it degenerates into rule by those populists who happen to have the ear of the majority at the time. 

Originally presented as an address given on 28 June 2008 in Freiburg (Breisgau, Germany) on the occasion of receiving the Hayek Medal from the Friedrich A. von Hayek Gesellschaft. Published in Property, Freedom, and Society: Essays in Honor of Hans-Hermann Hoppe

*About the author: Robert Nef is the former President of the Board of Trustees of the Liberal Institute in Zurich, a classical liberal think tank.

Source: This article was published by the MISES Institute

  • 1. Aristotle, Politics, C.D.C. Reeve, trans. (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1998), Book III, chap. 7, 1279a39–1279b8.
  • 2. Karl Mittermaier and Meinhard Mair, Demokratie, Geschichte Einer Politischen Idee von Platon bis Heute [Democracy, the History of a Political Idea from Plato to Today] (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt, 1995).
  • 3. See Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Democracy—The God that Failed: The Economics and Politics of Monarchy, Democracy, and Natural Order (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 2001).

Eurasia Review


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Russia News: Lenta.ru : Новости: Команда Зеленского признала возможность мира в Донбассе по плану России

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Спикер штаба победителя президентских выборов на Украине Владимира Зеленского Дмитрий Разумков заявил, что мир в Донбассе может наступить при согласии с Россией, однако назвал это неприемлемым. Он подчеркнул, что мир должен наступить на условиях Украины, и выразил сожаление, что нельзя завтра же прекратить войну.

Lenta.ru : Новости

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Russia News: Lenta.ru : Новости: Лобода выразила мнение о победе дочери Алсу в «Голосе» одним символом

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Певица Светлана Лобода лаконично высказалась о финале шестого сезона телепроекта «Голос.Дети», в котором победила ее подопечная — дочь Алсу Микелла Абрамова. Два одинаковых поста она опубликовала во «ВКонтакте» и Instagram. В них смайл-сердечко и фото двух других ее воспитанников — Нино Чеснер и Роберта Багратяна.

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