Eurasia Review: US Strengthens Persian Gulf Force, Sends Patriot Missiles To Region With Eye On Iran

Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

(RFE/RL) — The United States has bolstered its firepower in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, deploying an amphibious assault ship and a Patriot missile battery to counter what Washington sees as a growing threat from Iran.

The Pentagon announcement on May 10 is the latest in a series of moves and countermoves by the United States and Iran as tensions between the nations intensify.

Washington has imposed a series on sanctions on Iranian oil and metal exports to increase pressure on Tehran to give up what it calls “malign” activities, such as attempting to develop nuclear weapons and financing militant activity in the region. Tehran denies the claims.

The Pentagon said the USS Arlington amphibious assault ship will join the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a B-52 bomber task force already headed toward the Gulf after U.S. intelligence reports suggested Iran was planning an attack of some type in the region.

The USS Arlington transports marines, amphibious vehicles, landing craft, and rotary aircraft.

The U.S. Air Force confirmed late on May 9 that the B-52 bombers sent to the Gulf to counter unspecified threats from Iran had arrived at the major U.S. air base in Qatar.

The Pentagon said the deployments were “in response to indications of heightened Iranian readiness to conduct offensive operations against U.S. forces and our interests.”

“The Department of Defense continues to closely monitor the activities of the Iranian regime, their military and proxies,” it said.

“The United States does not seek conflict with Iran, but we are postured and ready to defend US forces and interests in the region.”

On May 9, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Iran that “our restraint to this point should not be mistaken by Iran for a lack of resolve.”

“The regime in Tehran should understand that any attacks by them or their proxies of any identity against U.S. interests or citizens will be answered with a swift and decisive US response,” Pompeo said.

The Patriot, a long-range, all-weather air-defense system designed to counter tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and advanced aircraft, will be sent to an undisclosed location.

The U.S. military removed Patriot missile batteries from Bahrain, Kuwait, and Jordan late in 2018, but it was not clear if the latest deployment would be to one of those U.S. allies in the region.

The activity comes on and around the first anniversary of Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the 2015 nuclear deal and reimpose tough economic sanctions.

Trump has said the deal — under which Iran agreed to restrict its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief — was “fatally flawed” because it did not address Iran’s missile program or Tehran’s alleged support for terrorist organizations.

Despite the rising tensions, Trump on May 9 said he was open to talks with Tehran’s leadership.

“What I would like to see with Iran, I would like to see them call me,” Trump told reporters.

“We don’t want them to have nuclear weapons — not much to ask,” he said.

However, a senior commander of Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) on May 10 said Tehran will not hold talks with the United States.

IRGC deputy head Yadollah Javani was quoted by the hard-line Tasnim news agency as saying, “There will be no negotiations with America.”

Eurasia Review


Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Eurasia Review: Pope Backs Bosnian Roma Family Against Italian Rightists

Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

By Mladen Lakic

A Bosnian Roma family on Friday vowed to stay in their
state-allocated apartment in Rome – despite far-right protests over a
programme to relocate Roma families from a camp on the outskirts of the
city – after the Pope personally showed support for them.

The last
four days were traumatic for the Omerovic family but the situation
seemed calmer on Friday, mother of 12 Senada Omerovic told BIRN, as only
a small but a peaceful group of people protested in front of their
building in Casal Bruciato.

“We have not slept in days, but last night we finally managed to have some rest,” Senada said.

The
Omerovic family came to Italy in 1992 as the 1992-1995 war started in
Bosnia – but the decision to allocate them a flat in Rome attracted
far-right protests, supported by neo-Fascists, starting on Monday,
Italian media reported.

After days of protests and violent
threats, the Omerovic were personally welcomed by Pope Francis in the
Vatican on Thursday, who presided over a prayer meeting with some 500
minority Roma and Sinti people in Rome.

Although media reported
that her son, Clinton Omerovic, had said that family wished to leave
their new home, Senada said they would now re-think that, as they had
waited for their new home more than two years.

“We would like to
stay, to be part of this neighbourhood, I want to celebrate my new home
with all neighbours here, as I planned before everything happened,” she
said.

She added that she and her family wanted a decent life in Italy and be treated as equal to any other Italians.

The
mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi, also visited the family to show her
support after some of the protesters said they wanted to see the family
“hanged and burned”, Italian media site ANSA reported.

Prosecutors are investigating several people for inciting racial hatred and violence, according to the media.

Earlier
in April this year, hundreds gathered in Rome to protest against the
arrival of Roma families at a government-run centre, triggering violent
protests, the BBC reported on April 3.

Italy’s Roma community,
numbering some 130,000 people, mostly live in poverty with many living
in unlicensed camps on city outskirts.

Protests last year in the same district stopped the allocation of another flat to a Roma family.

Interior
Minister Matteo Salvini has taken a hard line against Roma, accusing
the community of being responsible for crime and vowing to clear Roma
camps.

Eurasia Review


Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Eurasia Review: IEA: Renewables Growth Is Stalling – Analysis

Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

By Nick Cunningham

Renewable energy deployment stalled out last year, raising alarm bells about the pace of the clean energy transition.

In 2018, total deployment of renewable energy stood at about 180
gigawatts (GW), which was the same as the previous year. It was the
first time since 2001 that capacity failed to increase year-on-year,
according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Adding 180 GW of clean energy is a massive total, but still falls short
of what is needed to clean up the electricity sector. It equates to
roughly 60 percent of what is needed each year in order to meet
long-term climate goals, the IEA said. The agency said that the world
needs to add about 300 GW of renewable energy each year through 2030 in
order to meet the targets laid out in the Paris Climate Agreement.

Worse, last year, CO2 emissions from energy rose 1.7 percent, setting
another record high at 33 Gigatonnes. So, while emissions need to
decline sharply, they haven’t even flattened out yet. Renewable energy
continues to grow, but so does demand for oil and gas.

“The world cannot afford to press “pause” on the expansion of renewables
and governments need to act quickly to correct this situation and
enable a faster flow of new projects,” Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive
Director, said in a statement.

“Thanks to rapidly declining costs, the competitiveness of renewables is
no longer heavily tied to financial incentives. What they mainly need
are stable policies supported by a long-term vision but also a focus on
integrating renewables into power systems in a cost-effective and
optimal way. Stop-and-go policies are particularly harmful to markets
and jobs,” Birol added.

For the last four years, growth of wind had slowed, but the gap was made
up by faster growth from solar. The difference in 2018 was that solar’s
exponential growth flattened out. The reason for that lies in China,
where the government pared back incentives on solar in order to cut
expenditures and cope with grid integration challenges, the IEA said.
Still, China added 44 GW of solar last year, the most by far out of any
other country and nearly half of the 97 GW global total. But that was
down from 53 GW that China installed in 2017.

Costs continue to fall, making renewable energy the cheapest option in
many markets, which should ensure strong growth going forward. In the
U.S., wind and solar are now cheaper than operating existing coal plants
in much of the country. In fact, in April, renewable energy surpassed coal
in terms of electricity generation for the first time, accounting for
24 percent of the total, compared to coal’s 20 percent market share.

But, despite the momentum, the transition is not fast enough. A new UN report
finds that the world is facing a mass die-off of biodiversity, with as
many as one million plant and animal species at risk of extinction.
Also, the world is on track to blow through its carbon budget within 12 years.

Because of this urgency, a wave of new policies supporting a faster roll
out of electric vehicles and renewable energy is inevitable. At the
state level, renewable energy mandates are proliferating.
In the Democratic primary for president, candidates are trying to outdo
each other in terms of ambition on clean energy and climate change. For
instance, what was once considered an extreme position, such as banning oil and gas drilling on public lands, has now become a mainstream position in the Democratic Party, at least for the candidates running for president.

Another example of the shifting Overton window came in late April when
former Texas Congressman and presidential contender Beto O’Rourke
recently called for $5 trillion
in spending over the next 10 years in an effort to cut emissions to
zero by 2050. It’s ambitious by any measure, but faced some pushback
for not going far enough, which says a lot about the growing concern
about climate change. In fact, climate change ranked as the top issue for Democratic voters, according to a recent poll.

The oil and gas industry has enjoyed a golden era under the Trump administration, but it may only be temporary.

Source: https://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Renewable-Energy/IEA-Renewables-Growth-Is-Stalling.html

Eurasia Review


Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Eurasia Review: Exorcist: Temptation – Not Possession – Is The Most Significant Demonic Activity

Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Though dramatic representations of demonic possessions, as seen in
Hollywood, can make them appear to be the primary method of the devil,
one Dominican priest and exorcist has warned that the greater and more
common threat to a person’s salvation is the temptation to sin.

“The most common manifestation of the demonic is temptation, which is
much more significant than possession,” Fr. Francois Dermine, OP, told
CNA May 10.

An exorcist for over 25 years, he explained that possession is not a
spiritual threat in the same way temptation is, and that a person who
has been possessed by the devil may still make “extraordinary spiritual
progress,” and could even one day be a saint.

This is because demonic possession of a person’s body occurs without
that person’s knowledge or consent. The possession in and of itself does
not make the victim morally blameworthy.

“We must not undervalue the significance of temptation. It’s not as
spectacular as possession, but it’s far more dangerous [to the soul],”
Dermine said.

“To resist temptation is simple,” he encouraged, although it might
not always be easy. “You must avoid the occasions of temptation, of
course, and you must have a Christian and spiritual life. You must pray,
you must try to behave correctly, and to love the people you meet every
day and the people with whom you live.”

Dermine said the next most common form of demonic activity is
oppression. Sometimes, people can have many problems, often of a health,
business, or family nature, which cannot be explained by natural
causes.

If the cause is deemed to be demonic oppression, these problems are
called “preternatural,” and may require the assistance of an exorcist.

“This is the most common extraordinary action of the devil,” Dermine
said, while temptation is considered an “ordinary” demonic action.

Dermine warned that people should not immediately conclude that
physical problems or suffering are a result of demonic oppression,
because they are most often explainable by natural causes.

If someone has visited a doctor, or a psychologist if applicable, and
no natural explanation could be found, then they may visit an exorcist.
“When a person comes and asks for a blessing for a specific problem,
the first thing an exorcist must ask is, did you see the doctor?” the
priest said.

Dermine, who is French Canadian, has lived in Italy since shortly
before his priestly ordination in 1979. An exorcist since 1994, he
serves in the Italian Archdiocese of Ancona-Osimo.

He spoke about the life of an exorcist during the 14th course on
exorcism and prayers of liberation, which is organized by the Pontifical
Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum university and GRIS (The Socio-Religious
Information and Research Group).

The week-long course, which ended May 10, does not train new
exorcists, but is intended to provide a general formation to priests and
lay people on what exorcism is and related topics. Dermine said that
many of the laypeople attending the course are there at the request of
their bishop, so they can learn how to better support and assist priests
at exorcisms.

Dermine told CNA that his lecture will also address some of the
common mistakes exorcists make, one of which is to confuse preternatural
(demonic) manifestations for supernatural charisms, which come from
God.

“It’s a very important difference,” he said. “We have a human nature
and cannot know things without learning through our senses.”

“God created us to operate in a certain way. If you have
extra-sensorial perceptions, and things like this, and they are not
meant to help or to provoke a spiritual result, then they cannot come
from God,” he warned. People with these perceptions are often described
as “mediums” in secular culture.

These types of preternatural sensations or manifestations can be “a
cause of many problems” for people, so they will need some help from an
exorcist, Dermine said.

The priest noted that there is a cultural value to holding a course
on exorcisms for priests and select laypeople, and this is because the
topic is often mysterious, so the desire to understand it is important.

“Most of the people who come here, they come here because they have
an intention not to become exorcists, necessarily, but to understand,”
he said.

Eurasia Review


Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Eurasia Review: Turnaround In Philippines-China Relations – Analysis

Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

The overlapping timing of the Boao Forum for Asia
(BFA) regional conference in Manila (April 22-23) and the Philippines’
participation in the PLA Navy’s annual review off Qingdao (April 22-25)
shows the extent to which relations with Beijing have improved. In both
occasions, it was the Philippines’ first time. Enhancing mil-to-mil ties
and confidence building measures alongside increased economic
interaction both create more enduring foundations for better bilateral
relations. Hence, while very much nascent, these developments may hold
promise, although challenges persist.

Groundbreaking gains, more to come?

China has been the Philippines’ largest trade partner since 2016 and its biggest investor since last year. At 29.62 percent
growth in arrivals in 2018, it may also become the country’s biggest
inbound tourist market this year. Chinese investments in infrastructure,
steel,
power, logistics and manufacturing may also have a transformative
impact on the Philippine economy. Last year, China surpassed Japan to
become the largest importer
of Philippine bananas, a position Japan held for 30 years. Improved
top-level political relations is helping facilitate this expansion of
economic deals. Combined with the country’s fast growth and bright
prospects, the choice of Manila as host comes as no surprise.

The timing may not be coincidental. In fact, it presages greater
importance attached by both sides to their burgeoning ties. Manila’s
hosting immediately preceded the Second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing
(April 25-27) where Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was among the
37 world leaders who attended. Duterte also attended the inaugural Belt
and Road Summit in 2017. The Philippines also serves as the current
ASEAN-China country coordinator.

The BFA conference in Manila saw the government and business
community coming together to foster greater regional economic
cooperation. It was held upon the invitation
of Former President and incumbent House Speaker Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo, who is also a BFA Board Member. The Federation of
Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Philippine
Chamber of Commerce and Industry, two of the country’s largest business
groupings, served as local organizers.

Strike while the iron is hot

The tremor that struck certain parts of Luzon, including Metro Manila, did not deter the gathering of 500
entrepreneurs from Philippines, China, Thailand and other ASEAN
countries. The Manila debut marked the fifth time an ASEAN capital has
hosted the regional conference. Since its founding in 2001, the Boao
Forum has held conferences in Hanoi, Hong Kong, Vientiane, Phnom Penh,
Bangkok, Seoul, Astana, Dubai, Rome, Paris, and London. The high-level
platform for exchange, considered as Asia’s version of Davos’ World
Economic Forum, had a deep Filipino imprint with former President Fidel
Ramos being among its founding fathers.  

President Duterte was unable to attend, but his Executive Secretary,
Salvador Medialdea, read his remarks. Other key speakers included House
of Representatives Speaker Arroyo, BFA Secretary General Li Baodong,
former People’s Bank of China Governor and BFA Vice Chair Zhou
Xiaochuan, and Former Thai Deputy Prime Minister and BFA Board Member
Dr. Surakiart Sathirathai. Other notable guests included Guo Ningning,
Vice Governor of Fujian province, where most of the local ethnic Chinese
trace their roots; and State-Owned Assets Supervision and
Administration Commission Vice Chair Ren Hongbin. Ren’s presence was
important, as many state-owned enterprises are increasingly investing
and doing business abroad, including in the Philippines.

Business matching followed. Chinese investors in manufacturing,
agriculture, high technology, and labor were among those who attended
and were keen to strike deals with Filipino partners. Chinese tech giant
Tencent,
which is behind the popular instant messaging and mobile payment
platform WeChat, for instance, was reportedly in talks with local
conglomerate Ayala. House Speaker Arroyo said that Chinese tech
investors were interested to know more about domestic regulation,
notably foreign investment restrictions.

The BFA Manila conference stressed the importance of inclusive
growth, multilateralism, globalization, and upholding the global trading
system against threats of protectionism. Speakers also highlighted the
role of infrastructure investment, connectivity, and the digital economy
as a new growth engine. China’s huge e-commerce market and efficient
logistics can open opportunities even for micro, small and medium
enterprises in ASEAN. Calls to accelerate negotiations for the Regional
Comprehensive Economic Cooperation, and support for the Belt and Road
Initiative were also raised. Dr. Sathirathai noted Beijing’s investments
in education and vocational training for the fourth industrial
revolution. He said that this can be a valuable area for cooperation
between China and other Asian countries.  

Going beyond economics

Meantime, on the security front, the Philippine Navy dispatched its
biggest ship to join the People’s Liberation Army naval fleet review. A 400-man contingent aboard strategic sealift vessel BRP Tarlac went to Qingdao to join 60 other countries taking part in the 70th year anniversary of China’s navy. Thirteen countries
sent ships, including countries with which Beijing has longstanding
territorial and maritime disputes, notably Brunei, Japan, India,
Malaysia, Philippines, and Vietnam. Australia, Bangladesh, Myanmar,
Russia, Singapore and South Korea.

While world leaders gathered for the Second Belt and Road Forum in
Beijng on April 25, world navies were wrapping up their four-day event
in Qingdao. The fleet review allowed China to showcase its growing naval
prowess, including Asia’s largest guided-missile destroyer (Type 055),
nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine (Long March 10) and the
country’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning. China and ASEAN navies
also held joint exercises
on anti-piracy and maritime emergency rescue (April 27). Beijing
attempted to imbue transparency in its naval buildup and reassure
neighbors about its peaceful intentions.

With its engagement with traditional allies like the United States
and Australia, and cultivation of ties with emerging partners China and
Russia, the Philippines’ naval diplomacy gives shape to the pursuit of
an independent foreign policy.

Indeed, warming political ties over the past three years are
beginning to produce economic and security dividends for both sides.
Duterte seems to be taking a cue from his predecessors, former
Presidents Ramos and Arroyo, in appreciating China beyond the South
China Sea disputes.

However, reports of continued marine environment depredation and interference in Filipino fishing undermine efforts to nurture amity. Concerns over Chinese loans, worries about the influx of Chinese workers and potential adverse social ills brought by the surge in Chinese offshore gaming may not easily dissipate. Finally, less public trust in China also means that bustling bilateral interaction will not escape continued Filipino scrutiny. 

This article was published by China-US Focus

Eurasia Review


Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Eurasia Review: Can Trust Be Verified? Managing 5G Risk In Southeast Asia – Analysis

Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Nothing can fully protect a country from secret malfeasance involving the company it hires to provide and maintain its 5th generation wireless system (5G). But certain steps can lessen the risk. One is to learn how secure the firm’s technology is; another is to estimate the chance that the laws and institutions in the firm’s home country will prevent the government there from accessing the firm’s data and algorithms without the user country’s permission.

By Donald K. Emmerson*

Trust but verify.
That mantra from nuclear-weapons negotiation discourse during the Cold
War is newly relevant today. Versions of the advice are circulating
among governments in Southeast Asia and elsewhere as they weigh the
security risks of partnering with this or that company to install the
fifth-generation telecommunications technology known as 5G.

It is tempting to believe that a technical solution to the problem of
unwanted risk exists — a clever digital tweak that will fully and
permanently protect a 5G network’s users. It does not. The best one can
hope for is a “good enough” balancing of faith and proof that is —
arguably, not assuredly — reassuring and realistic. Characteristics of
the network-offering company in its home country and of the
network-purchasing government in its own country will shape the 5G
seller-buyer bargain and its location. This will occur on an eventual
spectrum of arrangements between the unwise and the unworkable:
unverified trust at one extreme end, trust-eliminating verification at
the other.

Enter Huawei

China’s Huawei Technologies is an ostensibly private (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/25/technology/who-owns-huawei.html)
company founded in China’s mercantilistic state-capitalist economy by a
former People’s Liberation Army engineer. Southeast Asian governments
are considering whether to rely on Huawei’s technology in an upcoming 5G
world.

If a potential buyer insisted on continuous verification, Huawei
would need to agree to the installation and maintenance of hardware and
software designed to expunge from the system any present or future “back
door” through which China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS) or the
Communist Party of China (CPC) could walk.

But even if Huawei agreed, would its software updates uphold that
initial consent? Full prudence would oblige the user state to
re-investigate the workings of the system whenever Huawei saw fit to
alter the code. But whose investigators, employing what possibly
proprietary knowledge, how thoroughly, and at whose and what expense?

Scheduled updates aside, if and as adaptive machine self-learning
becomes increasingly the norm, 5G software will be continually changing
itself, potentially opening new vulnerabilities to breaching and
manipulation. And even if every new back door is somehow dismantled or
prevented, the MSS or the CPC could simply knock on Huawei’s physical
front door at the company’s headquarters in Shenzhen to ask for access
to the system.

Fearing the  visitor and obliged to comply with the intrusive
prerogatives of the state authorised in China’s National Intelligence
Law, Article 7 (https://www.chinalawtranslate.com/%e4%b8%ad%e5%8d%8e%e4%ba%ba%e6%b0%91%e5%85%b1%e5%92%8c%e5%9b%bd%e5%9b%bd%e5%ae%b6%e6%83%85%e6%8a%a5%e6%b3%95/?lang=en), Huawei will open the door.

Whom To Trust?

Whom will you trust? And how much? Technical guardrails and patches
can reduce but not remove the subjectivity of those necessary questions.
In Southeast Asia, differing political and economic contexts will
influence the answers. Other things being equal, governments indebted to
China may feel less free to turn down Huawei. Lower-income countries
may opt for Huawei because it is cheaper to do so. Poorer countries
already tilted towards Beijing, such as Cambodia, may hire Huawei on
both grounds.

History will also matter. Vietnam recently observed the 40th
anniversary of its 1979 invasion by China and the brief war that
followed.

Unsurprising in that context, Vietnam has granted its first 5G
licence to a homegrown firm, Viettel, and is reportedly open to working
with two Scandinavia-based multinationals—Nokia in Finland and Ericsson
in Sweden (https://www.cio.com/article/3310197/how-is-vietnam-preparing-for-5g.html).

Huawei, Nokia, and Ericsson are competing neck-and-neck for shares in
the global market for the radio access network (RAN) equipment needed
to enable 5G transmission. One analyst’s estimate of the three
companies’ shares of 5G subscribers worldwide in 2023 who will be using
their respective RANs has the distribution as follows: Huawei with 25
percent; Nokia and Ericsson each with 23 percent; and the remaining 30
percent split among other firms (https://www.telecompetitor.com/5g-ran-market-share-research-three-vendors-run-neck-and-neck/).

Food For Thought About Policy Choices

Relevant in this context is the devastating review of Huawei in the
fifth annual report of the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre
(HCSEC) Oversight Board (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/huawei-cyber-security-evaluation-centre-oversight-board-annual-report-2019), released in the United Kingdom on 28 March 2019.

Based on its investigation, the board found persisting “serious and
systematic defects in Huawei’s software engineering and cyber security
competence” resulting in “extensive vulnerability” and “significantly
increased risk” for users.

Huawei’s products were judged as having “no end-to-end integrity” and
the firm’s software management was found “defective”. The board had
only “limited confidence” in Huawei’s ability even “to understand the
content” of its own products, presumably rendering the company incapable
of diagnosing “identified issues” needing remedy.

Lessons To Be Learned

In cybersecurity, because perfection is impossible, it should not be
made the enemy of the reasonably good. There is an opportunity here for
governments and companies to scale up the methods that HCSEC used and
the lessons it learned in the course of its experience investigating
Huawei.

Those lessons could contribute to the drafting of a checklist of
tests and standards for use by Southeast Asian and other states when
choosing between G5 network providers. User states could benefit further
by taking into account the trustworthiness not only of a given 5G firm,
but of its home government as well.

Vietnamese officials may not have looked up the World Justice
Project’s 2019 Rule of Law Index of Constraints on Government Powers (https://worldjusticeproject.org/sites/default/files/documents/WJP-ROLI-2019-Single%20Page%20View-Reduced.pdf).
It ranks 126 countries by the extent to which the government in each
one is held accountable within an effective framework of law that limits
its power. Finland and Sweden are respectively 3rd and 4th. The UK is
11th. China is 119th.

This is not an infomercial for Nokia or Ericsson in Scandinavia, nor
for HCSEC in the UK. It is just a little food for possible thought about
the policy choices that will shape the digital future of Southeast
Asia.

*Donald K. Emmerson heads the Southeast Asia Program in the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University, where he is also affiliated with the Center on Development, Democracy, and the Rule of Law. He contributed this article specially to RSIS Commentary. His edited book, The Deer and the Dragon: Southeast Asia and China in the 21st Century, is forthcoming in 2019.

Eurasia Review


Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Eurasia Review: Why The US Is Silent About Military Exercises In The Baltic States – OpEd

Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

The Baltic States are in the anticipation of  the annual large scale military exercise Saber Strike.

The well-known annual international exercise held since 2010 by the United States Army Europe (USAREUR) is focused on the Baltic States. These countries consider this event as a key element of participants’ training on command and control as well as interoperability with regional partners.

The Saber Strike exercise aims to facilitate cooperation amongst the U.S., Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and allied and partner nations.

Usually these maneuvers take place in June. Thus, it is logical to assume that the time of the military exercise is coming, but  this year event is never mentioned.

There are two ways of situation development. The first one is – Saber Strike 2019 will not be held at all. The second one is the information about  Saber Strike 2019 is classified.

The first assumption is unlikely taking into account the U.S. and NATO desire to strengthen the position in the region. This assumption is also contradicted by the increasing number and scale of international and national military exercises in the Baltic region.

So, the second assumption is most likely. But the question arises about the aim of hiding the information or its content. It is widely proclaimed that NATO and the U.S. put transparency about the exercises in the head. This principle is  either one of the key priorities of all international organizations including UN and OSCE. Transparency of activity helps to build international peace and trust.

It is especially surprising after NATO expressed concern about transparency of Russian and Russia-Belarus military drills which were held near the Baltic State’s borders. Unlike allies, opponents give preliminary information about planned exercises. By the way, some facts can be find on Internet about  joint exercise Union Shield 2019 that will take place in autumn in Russia.

BulgarianMilitary.com quoted Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu who stated in 2018 that “Union Shield 2019” exercise would be only defensive and emphasized: “First and foremost, and I would like everyone to hear that, our drills are solely of defensive nature. We do not plan any offensive actions as compared to the [NATO] military exercises. We, undoubtedly, are doing this not as a response to some drills but as a response to the threats which exist today and which, to our big regret, grow every year.” (https://bulgarianmilitary.com/2018/10/24/russia-and-belarus-approved-the-plan-for-the-joint-drill-union-shield-2019/)

From time to time we can read about the preparations for Russian-Belarusian  exercise “Union Shield 2019”. Thus on March 12-14, the Belarusian-Russian command-staff training on working out the interaction of military authorities, formations and military units in the framework of the regional grouping of troops (RGT) was carried out jointly, as well as improving the RGT control system.

“The general staffs have embarked on the preparation of the Union Shield 2019 exercise, which will be the main event of joint training of the military command and troops in 2019 and which will further improve the system of military security of the Union State,” Belarusian Minister of Defense Andrei Ravkov noted. According to him, such events help check the quality and level of combat readiness of the regional group of troops, to see the real capabilities of weapons and the ability to carry out combat tasks. (https://eng.belta.by/society/view/belarus-russia-prepare-for-union-shield-2019-exercise-115960-2018/)

True or not, but information is available. It is not very detailed but at least it is provided in advance. At least they name it as defensive.

As far as Saber Strike is concerned, everything is vaguely and therefore scary. What is the aim of it? Does it have defensive or offensive nature? When and who will come to the Baltic States? The approach “no comments” is not the best one in this case. The Baltics want and should know. Our opponents should be aware either. Otherwise their respond could be unexpected and even destroying. Uncertainty causes panic and rejection among local population.

Eurasia Review


Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Eurasia Review: Ralph Nader: The Contented Classes, When Will They Rebel? – OpEd

Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

For all the rhetoric and all the charities regarding America’s
children, the U.S. stands at the very bottom of western nations and some
other countries as well, in terms of youth well-being. The U.S.’s
exceptionalism is clearest in its cruelty to children. The U.S. has the highest infant mortality rate of comparable OECD countries. Not only that, but 2.5 million American children are homeless and 16.2 million children “lack the means to get enough nutritious food on a regular basis.”

The shamelessness continues as the youngsters increase in age. The
Trump regime is cutting the SNAP food program for poor kids. In 2018,
fewer children were enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP than in 2017. To see
just how bad Trump’s war on poor American children is getting, go to the
web sites of the Children’s Defense Fund (https://www.childrensdefense.org/) and the Children’s Advocacy Center (http://www.caichildlaw.org/).

Trump brags about a robust economy—still, however, rooted in
exploitation of the poor and reckless Wall Street speculation with
people’s savings.

Trump’s pompous promises during his presidential campaign have proved
to be a cowardly distraction. He claimed he would take on the drug
companies and their price gouging. The hyper-profiteering pharmaceutical
goliaths are quietly laughing at him. Worse, Trump continues their tax
credits  and allows them to use new drugs developed with taxpayer money
through the National Institute of Health free of charge—no royalties.
Even though he talks tough, Trump lets these companies sell imported
medicines manufactured in China and India with inadequate FDA
inspections of foreign plants.

Torrents of Trump tweets somehow overlooked H.P. Acthar Gel, a drug
produced by Mallinckrodt to treat a rare infant seizure disorder, which
increased in price from $40 per vial to $39,000 per vial! Other drug
prices are booming cruelly upward, while Trump blusters, but fails to
deliver on his campaign promises.

For years our country’s political and corporate rulers have saddled
college students with breathtaking debt and interest rates. Student debt
is now at $1.5 trillion. Both corporations and the federal government
are profiting off of America’s young. In no other western country is
this allowed, with most nations offering tuition-free higher education.

On May 2, 2019, The New York Times featured an article titled, “Tuition or Dinner? Nearly Half of College Students Surveyed in a New Report Are Going Hungry.”

When you read the stories of impoverished students, squeezed in all
directions, you’d think they came out of third-world favelas. At the
City University of New York (CUNY), forty eight percent of students had
been food insecure in the past 30 days.

Kassandra Montes, a senior at Lehman College, lives in a Harlem
homeless shelter. Montes  “works two part-time jobs and budgets only $15
per week for food… [She] usually skips breakfast in order to make sure
that her 4-year-old son is eating regularly.” Montes said: “I feel like
I’m slowly sinking as I’m trying to grow.”

When you don’t have a living wage, have to pay high tuition, are
mired in debt, and live in rent-gouging cities, where do you go?
Increasingly, you go to the community college or college food pantry. In
a nation whose president and Congress in one year give tens of billions
of dollars to the Pentagon more than the generals asked for, it is
unconscionable that students must rely on leftover food from dining
halls and catered events, SNAP benefits, and whatever food pantries can
assemble.

The CUNY pantries are such a fixture in these desperate times that they are now a stop on freshman orientation tours.

As long as we’re speaking of shame, what about those millions of middle and upper middle class informed, concerned bystanders.
They’re all over America trading “tsk tsks” over coffee or other social
encounters. They express dismay, disgust, and denunciations at each
outrage from giant corporations’ abuses, to the White House and the
Congress’ failings. They are particularly numerous in University towns.
They know but they do not do. They are unorganized,
know it, keep grumbling, and still fail to start the mobilization in
Congressional Districts of likeminded citizens to hold their Senators
and Representatives accountable.

For Congress, the smallest yet most powerful branch of government,
whose members names we know, can turn poverty and other injustices
around and help provide a better life for so many Americans. These
informed, concerned people easily number over 1 percent of the
population. They can galvanize a supporting majority of voters on key,
long-overdue redirections for justice. Redirections that were mostly
established in Western Europe decades ago (For more details, see my
paperback, Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier than We Think).

These informed, concerned people—who don’t have to worry about a
living wage, not having health insurance, being gouged by payday loans,
and having no savings—were called “the contented classes” in The Culture of Contentment, a
book by the late progressive Harvard economist John Kenneth Gailbraith.
His main point—until the contented classes wake up and organize for
change, history has shown, our country will continue to slide in the
wrong direction. He said all this before climate disruption, massive
money-corrupting politics, and the corporate crime wave had reached
anywhere near their present destructive levels.

The question to be asked: Who among the contented classes will unfurl
the flag of rebellion against the plutocrats and the autocrats? It can
be launched almost anywhere they please. A revolution can start the
moment they decide to prioritize the most marginalized people in this
country over their comfort.

Eurasia Review


Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Eurasia Review: Global Game Of Thrones – OpEd

Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

By John Feffer*

I was surprised to learn that Dagmar Havlova had become a monarchist.

In 1990, when I first met the sister-in-law of Czech playwright and
later president Vaclav Havel, she was a spokesperson for Civic Forum,
the movement that would guide Czechoslovakia from communism to
democracy. Virtually everyone in the country at the time was excited
about this transformation, about voting, about the new politicians
coming to the fore, about drawing a democratic line between the new age
beginning and a rapidly retreating authoritarian past.

By 2013, however, Havlova had become disenchanted with how democracy
had devolved in her country, how Czechoslovakia had split in two, how
corruption had proliferated, how an opportunist like economist Vaclav
Klaus had steered the Czech Republic in the wrong direction.

“I’m a monarchist,” she told me
in February 2013. “I believe that some symbol of morality at a
different level is important even if the symbol is just a vision of what
we would like to achieve. When you have a king or a queen, who is a
human being, you can understand that the symbol and the human being can
differ, but you are more attached to the symbol than to the person. So I
believe that monarchy is the right system. It continues over
generations. It is also an issue of responsibility. Individual
politicians are elected just for a few years, while a royal family lasts
ages. Monarchs are responsible to the country, to history somehow.”

This is not a shared enthusiasm in the Czech Republic where, when
election season rolls around, the monarchist party receives only a
handful of votes.

Elsewhere in East-Central Europe, monarchists periodically rally in the streets of Serbia and Romania
for the return of their crowned heads, but there’s not much likelihood
of that happening. Only King Simeon of Bulgaria had come close to
regaining any significant power. Between 2001 and 2005, he served as
prime minister of Bulgaria — only the second monarch to become the head
of state through democratic elections. It was not a particularly
distinguished term of office.

But royals continue to hold important positions in a dozen other
European countries as well as throughout the Middle East and in parts of
Africa and Asia. Globally, 43 countries
have some form of monarchy. Meanwhile, royalty has colonized a much
larger swath of popular culture, judging from the popularity of The Crown or the imaginary kings and queens of Game of Thrones.

Just this past week, royalty was in the news as the Japanese emperor
abdicated, a new king took the throne in Thailand, and one more child
joined the British royal family. At a time of declining faith in
democracy, royalty now looks “more durable than it once did” at the end
of last century, opines The Economist.

On the other hand, with wannabe monarchs like Donald Trump that show
far less deference to democracy than the current occupants of Buckingham
Palace and Kyoto’s Chrysanthemum Throne, who needs actual kings and
queens?

Making Royals Look Good

Emperor Akihito ruled for 30 years in Japan, but largely as a
figurehead. The throne lost its substantive power as part of the deal
that Japan negotiated with the United States at the end of World War II.

Despite being more a symbol than a leader, Akihito made some
important contributions to Japanese politics and culture. He was the
first truly post-war emperor — his father Hirohito ruled from 1926 all
the way until 1989 — and did much to subvert the far right’s conception
of emperor as militarist-in-chief. As Jeff Kingston writes in the South China Morning Post, Akihito…

connected with the people in ways that his aloof father
never could have and has done more than all of Japan’s political leaders
combined to heal lingering post-war wounds. He has managed to work
within the constitutional constraints that bar him from politics to
intervene subtly in the politics of the past. While those constraints
preclude forthright remarks, he has effectively conveyed the nation’s
regret for the misdeeds Japan committed under the guise of pan-Asian
liberation. In serving as the conscience of Japan, defying the
denialists, and showing compassion to those victimised by the war waged
in his father’s name, Akihito gained unquestioned moral authority.

Such a role as the conscience of the nation has been particularly
important during the era of Shinzo Abe, who has sought to “normalize”
Japan’s military by overturning the country’s peace constitution.

Because the role of the emperor is defined by that constitution,
Akihito had come to seem quaint for many Japanese conservatives. His
son, the new emperor Naruhito, who studied at Oxford and is generally
considered to be liberal in his perspective, will have a tough job of
somehow preserving some version of Japan at peace with its neighbors
when the constitution that demarcates that status also prevents the
emperor from making any significant interventions to save the intent of
the document.

Making Royals Look Bad

I once saw a film at a Bangkok movie theater. Before the feature
began, a picture of the king appeared on the screen. Everyone in the
audience stood at attention. So, I did too.

That was my first time in the “presence” of royalty. I was struck by
how similar the process was to North Korea, where outside observers
routinely ridiculed the personality cult associated with the Kim Il Sung
and his family. Here was the same difference between the respect
accorded an established religion and the contempt reserved for a mere
cult, even if both share the same outlandish rituals and origin myths.
Such is the power of history and convention.

That king, Bhumibol, was at his death the world’s longest serving
monarch. Unlike Akihito, he did intervene directly in the fractious
disputes of Thai politics, siding with the military early on but also restraining the generals
in 1992 to ease a return to civilian rule. As he grew older, however,
the king’s earlier instincts prevailed, and he supported both the 2006
military coup and the most recent one in 2014. He allowed Thailand to
slip back into military dictatorship, the last true one in the world, preferring to devote his energies to encouraging development projects throughout the country.

Don’t expect much from his son, who officially took the crown this week. Writes The Economist:

The contrast between King Bhumibol and his successor,
King Maha Vajiralongkorn…is sharp. The new monarch, who lives in
Germany, barely spends any time in his realm, let alone inspecting rural
projects. He has a string of abandoned children and dumped consorts
around the world. He made a poodle an Air Chief Marshal. His escapades
inspire disdain; his rule, fear. Strict lèse majesté laws promise three
to 15 years in prison for those critical of the royals.

Now, thanks to the coronation rituals, Vajiralongkorn is not just
king but a “living god.” He is also sitting on top of a hefty fortune — $30 billion — which, given his history of extravagance and unpredictability, does not inspire confidence. Leaked U.S. diplomatic cables revealed
several years back that many among the Thai elite held the then-crown
prince in low regard, some even hoping that the king would break with
tradition and tap his daughter, Sirindhorn, to be queen.

In Japan, over the last few decades, the emperor has represented a
certain restraint on the militarist ambitions of the political elite. In
Thailand, the new emperor takes over just after voters supported the anti-militarist party in national elections in March.

The new king’s older sister, Ubolratana Rajakanya, actually threw her
hat in the ring in the elections on the side of this anti-militarist
party in a bid to become prime minister. Her brother denounced the move,
and the election commission blocked her candidacy. Too bad: either this sister, who gave up her title
to marry a commoner and earned a master’s in public health at UCLA, or
Sirindhorn, who serves as the zero hunger ambassador for the UN, might
better guide Thailand out of its current political divisions.

But that’s the thing with kings and queens. It’s a monarchy, not a meritocracy.

King Trump?

Donald Trump has a thing for royalty. Back in the 1980s, he actively
tried to rub up against royalty by courting Princess Diana after her
separation from Prince Charles. “He gives me the creeps,” Diana confessed, ignoring all the flowers the American businessman sent her way. Next month, Queen Elizabeth will host Trump at Buckingham Palace. This has been one of Trump’s dreams(now that having sex with Princess Diana is no longer on his bucket list).

Trump loves the fact that kings don’t have to run for office. He
loves their wealth, their bling, and the adulation that so many of them
enjoy. He has cultivated warm relations with Crown Prince Mohammed bin
Salman of Saudi Arabia. He has met with the king and queen of Jordan,
the Spanish royals, the king of Belgium, and Emperor Akihito.

He has boasted of calling Chinese leader Xi Jinping “king.” According to CNN, Trump gave this report on the exchange:

[Xi] said, “But I am not king, I am president.” I said,
“No, you are president for life, and therefore you are king.” He said,
“Huh…huh.” He liked that. I call him “king.” I get along with him great.

Trump believes that he stands above the law, just like royalty. He
believes that he should be president for life. He thinks that he
shouldn’t have to release his tax returns to the commoners. He thinks
that the news media and anyone else who has the temerity to criticize
him should be punished for lèse majesté.

Over 200 years ago, this country rid itself of a king’s control.
Today, Americans are fascinated by the British crown and the vanished Russian imperial family and the royal intrigue of Game of Thrones. But America doesn’t need another king.

The next presidential election had better double as a deposition.

*John Feffer is the director of Foreign Policy In Focus, where this article originally appeared.

Eurasia Review


Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Eurasia Review: The Two Narratives Of Palestine: The People Are United, The Factions Are Not – OpEd

Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

The International Conference on Palestine held
in Istanbul between April 27-29 brought together many speakers and
hundreds of academics, journalists, activists and students from Turkey
and all over the world.

The Conference was a rare opportunity aimed at articulating a
discourse of international solidarity that is both inclusive and forward
thinking.

There was near consensus that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
(BDS) movement must be supported, that Donald Trump’s so-called ‘Deal of
the Century’ must be defeated and that normalization must be shunned.

When it came to articulating the objectives of the Palestinian
struggle, however, the narrative became indecisive and unclear. Although
none of the speakers made a case for a two-state solution, our call for
a one democratic state from Istanbul – or any other place outside
Palestine – seemed partially irrelevant. For the one state solution to
become the overriding objective of the pro-Palestine movement worldwide,
the call has to come from a Palestinian leadership that reflects the
true aspirations of the Palestinian people.

One speaker after the other called for Palestinian unity, imploring
Palestinians for guidance and for articulating a national discourse.
Many in the audience concurred with that assessment as well. One
audience member even blurted out the cliched question: “Where is the
Palestinian Mandela?” Luckily, the grandson of Nelson Mandela,
Zwelivelile “Mandla” Mandela, was himself a speaker. He answered
forcefully that Mandela was only the face of the movement, which
encompassed millions of ordinary men and women, whose struggles and
sacrifices ultimately defeated apartheid.

Following my speech at the Conference, I met with several freed
Palestinian prisoners as part of my research for my forthcoming book on
the subject.

Some of the freed prisoners identified as Hamas and others as Fatah.
Their narrative seemed largely free from the disgraced factional
language we are bombarded with in the media, but also liberated from the
dry and detached narratives of politics and academia.

“When Israel placed Gaza under siege and denied us family
visitations, our Fatah brothers always came to our help,” a freed Hamas
prisoner told me. “And whenever Israeli prison authorities mistreated
any of our brothers from any factions, including Fatah, we all resisted
together.”

A freed Fatah prisoner told me that when Hamas and Fatah fought
in Gaza in the summer of 2007, the prisoners suffered most. “We
suffered because we felt that the people who should be fighting for our
freedom, were fighting each other. We felt betrayed by everyone.”

To effectuate disunity, Israeli authorities relocated Hamas and Fatah
prisoners into separate wards and prisons. They wanted to sever any
communication between the prisoners’ leadership and to block any
attempts at finding common ground for national unity.

The Israeli decision was not random. A year earlier, in May 2006, the
leadership of the prisoners met in a prison cell to discuss the conflict between Hamas, which had won the legislative elections in the Occupied Territories, and the PA’s main party, Fatah.

These leaders included Marwan Barghouthi of Fatah, Abdel Khaleq al-Natshe from Hamas and representatives from other major Palestinian groups. The outcome was the National Conciliation Document, arguably the most important Palestinian initiative in decades.

What became known as the Prisoner’s Document was significant because
it was not some self-serving political compromise achieved in a
luxurious hotel in some Arab capital, but a genuine articulation of
national Palestinian priorities, presented by the most respected and
honored sector in Palestinian society.

Israel immediately denounced the document.

Instead of engaging all factions in a national dialogue around the
document, PA President, Mahmoud Abbas, gave rival factions an ultimatum
to either accept or reject the document in full. The spirit of the unity
in the prisoners’ initiative was betrayed by Abbas and the warring
factions. Eventually, Fatah and Hamas fought their own tragic war in
Gaza the following year.

On speaking to the prisoners after listening to the discourse of
academics, politicians and activists, I was able to decipher a
disconnection between the Palestinian narrative on the ground and our
own perception of this narrative from outside.

The prisoners display unity in their narrative, a clear sense of
purpose, and determination to carry on with their resistance. While it
is true that they all identified as members in one political group or
another, I am yet to interview a single prisoner who placed factional
interests above national interest. This should not come as a surprise.
Indeed, these men and women have been detained, tortured and have
endured many years in prison for being Palestinian resisters, regardless
of their ideological and factional leanings.

The myth of the disunited and dysfunctional Palestinian is very much
an Israeli invention that precedes the inception of Hamas, and even
Fatah. This Zionist notion, which has been embraced by the current
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, argues that ‘Israel has no peace partner’.
Despite the hemorrhaging concessions by the Palestinian Authority in
Ramallah, this claim has remained a fixture in Israeli politics to this
day.

Political unity aside, the Palestinian people perceive ‘unity’ in a
whole different political context than that of Israel and, frankly, many
of us outside Palestine.

‘Al-Wihda al-Wataniya’ or national unity is a generational quest
around a set of principles, including resistance, as a strategy for the
liberation of Palestine, Right of Return for refugees, and
self-determination for the Palestinian people as the ultimate goals. It
is around this idea of unity that the leadership of Palestinian
prisoners drafted their document in 2006, in the hope of averting a
factional clash and keeping the struggle centered on resistance against
Israeli occupation.

The ongoing Great March of Return in
Gaza is another daily example of the kind of unity the Palestinian
people are striving for. Despite heavy losses, thousands of protesters
insist on their unity while demanding their freedom, Right of Return and
an end to the Israeli siege.

For us to claim that Palestinians are not united because Fatah and
Hamas cannot find common ground is simply unjustified. National unity
and political unity between factions are two different issues.

It is important that we do not make the mistake of confusing the
Palestinian people with factions, national unity around resistance and
rights with political arrangements between political groups.

As far as vision and strategy are concerned, perhaps it is time to read the
prisoners’ National Conciliation Document’. It was written by the
Nelson Mandelas of Palestine, thousands of whom remain in Israeli
prisons to this day.

Eurasia Review


Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Eurasia Review: Trump Is Serious About Iran: It’s Time The Europeans Followed Suit – OpEd

Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

By Luke Coffey*

In the early days of the Trump administration, many doubted the US leader’s willingness to tackle the problems with Iran inherited from the previous administration.

Trump had campaigned strongly on promises to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), even making US withdrawal one of his main foreign policy issues on the trail. However, many questioned whether his actions as president would match his rhetoric as a candidate.

Now, more than halfway through his first term, there can be no doubt.

The experts said that Trump would never decertify the Iran deal. He did. The same experts said that he would never withdraw from the deal. He did. Other experts said that he would not designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group. He did. The experts also said he would continue issuing sanctions waivers to allow countries such as India, Japan and South Korea to keep buying Iranian oil. He did not issue the waivers.

All of this has been part of the administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran.

Following the recent developments involving Iran, it is worth recalling why the world is in this situation to began with. Put simply, the agreement negotiated under the Obama administration was a bad deal with three fatal flaws that almost guaranteed its eventual demise.

First, the deal could not live up to its original goal of preventing Iran from ever developing a nuclear weapon. Instead, the best-case scenario was that the JCPOA merely delayed Iran’s progress.

Second — and the deal’s “original sin” — were the so-called sunset clauses that allow key restrictions on items such as uranium enrichment, centrifuge production and international monitoring to expire after a certain number of years, in some cases as early as 15 years.

Third, the deal offered Tehran massive sanctions and economic relief up front while only requiring it to make temporary and easily reversible concessions on its nuclear program. This money has been used to fan the flames of terrorism across much of the Middle East.

In addition to these flaws, the deal has other problems, specifically its inability to curb Iran’s ballistic missile program and to ensure unconditional access to all its military facilities by international inspectors.

As part of its maximum pressure campaign, the Trump administration has also made efforts to improve relations with the Gulf states that are on the frontline of Iranian aggression. Perhaps most importantly, the Trump administration has shown that it will put its allies and its partners first, before trying to appease adversaries such as Iran. This completely differs from the approach seen under the Obama administration.

I will never forget a conversation I had a decade ago with a senior government official from an unnamed Gulf state. Seeing what the Obama administration did to the Czech Republic and Poland when it unexpectedly canceled missile defense sites in those two countries, he asked a simple question: If Obama was willing to throw Poland and the Czech Republic under the bus to get better relations with Russia, then why wouldn’t he throw us under the bus to have better relations with Iran?

And a few years later with the JCPOA, that is exactly what happened.

But even with his campaign, Trump does not want war with Iran. Although some of those around him are known for their hawkish military views, the US leader is instinctively opposed to military intervention abroad.

That is why his ultimate goal is to bring the Iranians back to the negotiating table. It is no secret that Trump fancies himself as a great dealmaker. He believes that he can get a better deal out of the Iranians than Obama did. Whether he can do this is impossible to tell, but his goal is to force the Tehran regime back to the table, not necessarily force it out of power.
It is also worth pointing out that Europeans are starting to question if sticking with the JCPOA is worth the trouble — and this does not bode well for Tehran.

The EU’s foreign policy supremo, Federica Mogherini, who personally keeps the EU chained to the corpse of the Iran nuclear deal, will be leaving her position later this year. Europeans are also becoming more aware of Iran’s malignant activity in their own backyard, such as the assassination plots in the Netherlands recently uncovered and linked to Tehran. Finally, it is likely that the UK will align its position on the nuclear deal with the US as soon as it formally leaves the EU.

Is the maximum pressure campaign working? It is too early to tell, but the outlook is not good for Iran.

Looking at the numbers, it is clear that Tehran is feeling the heat: At least 20 countries that once bought oil from Iran now buy none. There have been 26 rounds of economic sanctions that have denied Iran an estimated $10 billion in revenue. The country’s economy is in tatters. Public discontent is high. Tehran’s military adventures in places such as Syria are becoming costly. Meanwhile, the Iranian people are suffering.

President Trump campaigned during the 2016 presidential election on leaving the deal. One of his mantras for the 2020 campaign is: “Promises made, promises kept.”

It should be crystal clear, from Tehran to Brussels and everywhere in between, that the Trump administration is serious about confronting Iran’s nuclear aspirations and regional ambitions.

There can be no doubt: Trump is serious about stopping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. It is time for Tehran, the Europeans and anyone else in denial to wake up to this new reality.

  • Luke Coffey is director of the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for
    Foreign Policy at the Heritage Foundation. Twitter: @LukeDCoffey

Eurasia Review


Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Eurasia Review: Why Knowing Iran’s Asymmetric Capabilities Matters – Analysis

Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Anxiety has risen in recent days over what exactly the US will do next with Iran, given a Pentagon threat assessment that warned of pending attacks. Regarding Tehran and its proxies’ military capabilities, Iran relies on asymmetric tactics in order to achieve tactical gains over more sophisticated US weaponry. This threat exists but, with the US shifting its force posture quickly with additional strategic military assets, Washington is sending a message to Tehran that any asymmetric action will bring retaliation.

The threat to American or Gulf interests from Iran in terms of its asymmetric strategies is a result of the lessons it learned from not only the Iran-Iraq war, but also the US experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq. Iran’s capability to kill almost 600 American soldiers with the use of explosively formed penetrators (EFPs) certainly makes it an asymmetric weapon of choice.

For Iran, such warfare is a strategy for dealing with the considerable capabilities of the enemy. A prominent example of this kind of warfare is the tactics employed by Hezbollah during the 2006 Lebanon war. For Tehran today, since the enemy has considerable technological capabilities, and since Iran is still at a disadvantage in comparison despite the progress made in the area of equipment, its only way to confront its enemies successfully is to adopt the strategy of asymmetric warfare.

The activity of Iran’s militias in Iraq and their lessons learned from the Syrian battlefield are also now part of the landscape of how it may strike back. It should also be recalled that one of the first groups to threaten American interests was Kata’ib Hezbollah, which was reportedly the recipient of millions of dollars from Qatar through a ransom payment for kidnapped royals.

The maritime aspect of Iran’s asymmetric capabilities remains. The Iranian navy put into place a multi-layered framework comprising conventional and asymmetric subsurface, surface and airborne systems that can impact open access to Arabian Gulf shipping lanes. Hence, talk of the closure of the Strait of Hormuz is notable but, in most scenarios, any closure would not last for more than 30 days.

There are also large numbers of anti-ship missiles outfitted on various types of launch platforms. Iran has also taken measures to mitigate the vulnerability of even small naval units to air and missile attack. And never forget that those who operate this equipment are ready to commit suicide for their cause with kamikaze attacks.

Today, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) forces are outfitted with customized or purpose-built high-tech equipment that boosts their asymmetric warfare capabilities. They have also enhanced their ability to conduct electronic warfare so as to disrupt the enemies’ command, control, communications and intelligence. The IRGC has also been investing in the means to gather more timely intelligence, as well as engage in more effective counterintelligence and deception operations, including but not limited to the greater use of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology.

Importantly, since the White House declared the IRGC a foreign terrorist organization, all of the group’s networks that had been previously off-limits have suddenly been brought into the public eye. Iran has been working hard at threatening its neighbors, hence America’s large show of force.

Exercises conducted by the IRGC demonstrate its capability to raid or attack key export and infrastructure facilities, tankers and shipping vessels. The IRGC can threaten shipping lanes in the Gulf, Gulf of Oman and the Caspian Sea through the application of a wide variety of assets it has at its disposal, including submarines, smart torpedoes, smart mine capability (free-floating and dumb mines), and land-based, long-range anti-ship missiles strategically based on the mainland, islands and ships.

Furthermore, attacks on tankers, shipping and offshore facilities by naval guards could also be conducted by combat aircraft armed with anti-ship missiles. Again, many of these actions could be suicide missions.
Iranian forces can carry out extensive raids against Gulf shipping, carry out regular amphibious exercises with the land branch of the IRGC against objectives like the islands in the Gulf, and conduct raids against countries on the southern Gulf coast.

Iran could also launch a coordinated attack involving explosives-laden remote-controlled boats, swarming speedboats, semi-submersible torpedo boats, kamikaze UAVs, midget and attack submarines, and shore-based anti-ship missile and artillery fire.

Another scenario could involve “swarming” a US-escorted convoy or surface action group transiting the Strait of Hormuz with barrages of rockets with cluster warheads used to suppress enemy defensive fire and carrier air operations.

Such scenarios have been run by the Pentagon and the results were not particularly favorable but, given the lessons learned, the protection necessary for a carrier battle group is now in place.

The IRGC often claims to conduct very large exercises, sometimes with 100,000 men or more. However, while the exact size of such exercises is unclear, they are often a small fraction of the IRGC’s claims. An important aspect of its exercises is the almost total absence of the regular Iranian navy in some cases; its functions are more oriented toward the classical tasks of sea denial and power projection in the Gulf and Strait of Hormuz. By displaying both its real and virtual military (e.g., naval) fighting capabilities through the electronic, printed and network media, and through endless official statements, Iran tends to achieve its politico-diplomatic and propaganda goals. These messages will become louder but will be muted quickly.

Eurasia Review


Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Blogs from Michael_Novakhov (21 sites): The FBI News Review: Greg Gutfeld and Jesse Watters say CNN ‘using’ James Comey – The Hilltop Monitor

Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Feedly Logo
May 10, 2019
Greg Gutfeld and Jesse Watters say CNN ‘using’ James Comey – The Hilltop Monitor
Have you seen this man? FBI, Sacramento sheriff’s office search for homicide suspect – Sacramento Bee
FBI and Arapahoe County sheriff ask for public’s help in identifying bank robber – The Denver Post
FBI: Most Wanted season 1 officially happening at CBS – One Chicago Center
FBI raises Rachel Cooke billboards on her 37th birthday to help find her – KXAN.com

Greg Gutfeld and Jesse Watters say CNN ‘using’ James Comey – The Hilltop Monitor

The Hilltop Monitor
“I think people like that, Rod Rosenstein, who are people of accomplishment find themselves trapped”, Comey offered, adding “They justify their being trapped which is ‘yeah he’s terrible but the country needs me'”.
Read More

Have you seen this man? FBI, Sacramento sheriff’s office search for homicide suspect – Sacramento Bee

Sacramento Bee
Have you seen this man? FBI, Sacramento sheriff’s office search for homicide suspect Officials from the FBI and the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office are searching for 30-year-old Sacramento man Joshua Vaden.
Read More

FBI and Arapahoe County sheriff ask for public’s help in identifying bank robber – The Denver Post

The Denver Post
FBI The FBI and the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in identifying a bank robber.The FBI and the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in identifying a bank robber.
Read More

FBI: Most Wanted season 1 officially happening at CBS – One Chicago Center

One Chicago Center
FBI spinoff FBI: Most Wanted has been officially picked up for a first season this fall, giving Dick Wolf a new franchise on CBS.FBI is now officially a franchise, as CBS has ordered the spinoff FBI: Most Wanted to series.
Read More

FBI raises Rachel Cooke billboards on her 37th birthday to help find her – KXAN.com

KXAN.com
AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s been 17 years since she was last seen or heard from, but the FBI has not given up hope of finding Rachel Cooke.  Williamson County Sherrif Robert Chody tweeted a photo of a billboard that features a photo of the smiling Cooke with the caption “MISSING BUT NOT FORGOTTEN.” A reward of $100,000 is being offered for information in her case. 
Read More
Feeling mobile? Get the Feedly app and read on the go
GooglePlay Store App

The FBI News Review

Blogs from Michael_Novakhov (21 sites)


Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

“Get FBI out of Counterintelligence” – Google News: Australian diplomat whose tip prompted Trump-Russia inquiry: FBI doesn’t spy – Washington Examiner

Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Australian diplomat whose tip prompted Trump-Russia inquiry: FBI doesn’t spy  Washington Examiner

The Australian diplomat whose tip about George Papadopoulos effectively started the counterintelligence investigation into President Trump’s campaign in July …

“Get FBI out of Counterintelligence” – Google News


Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

“crossfire hurricane” – Google News: Australian diplomat whose tip prompted Trump-Russia inquiry: FBI doesn’t spy – Washington Examiner

Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Australian diplomat whose tip prompted Trump-Russia inquiry: FBI doesn’t spy  Washington Examiner

The Australian diplomat whose tip about George Papadopoulos effectively started the counterintelligence investigation into President Trump’s campaign in July …

“crossfire hurricane” – Google News


Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

“political criminology” – Google News: Analysis: As trade tensions rise, no quick fix for U.S.-China relations – Valley News

Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Analysis: As trade tensions rise, no quick fix for U.S.-China relations  Valley News

BEIJING — The Trump administration’s abrupt Chinese tariff hike on Friday raises strong doubts on whether the world’s two largest economies can reach a deal …

“political criminology” – Google News


Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Russia News: Lenta.ru : Новости: На Украине рассказали о будущем железнодорожного сообщения с Россией

Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Министр инфраструктуры Украины Владимир Омелян заявил, что железнодорожное сообщение между Россией и Украиной прекращается само по себе. По его словам, поезда почти не пользуются спросом. Однако полного прекращения железнодорожного сообщения с Россией пока ожидать не стоит.

Lenta.ru : Новости

Russia News


Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Russia News: Вести.Ru: Марин Ле Пен выдвинула ультиматум президенту Франции

Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Издание Le Parisien прокомментировало заявление председателя партии “Национальное объединение” Марин Ле Пен касательно предстоящих выборов в Европарламент, назвав его ультиматумом президенту Франции Эммануэлю Макрону, заставляющим вспомнить о Шарле Де Голле.

Вести.Ru

Russia News


Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Russia News: Газета.Ru – Новости часа: WSJ: Трамп просил экс-советника заявить о его невиновности

Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Президент США Дональд Трамп просил своего бывшего юрисконсульта Дональда Макгана заявить, что он не препятствовал правосудию. Об этом сообщает The Wall Street Journal со ссылкой на источники.

По данным издания, Трамп просил Макгана …

Газета.Ru – Новости часа

Russia News


Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Russia News: Voice of America: Cuba Begins Widespread Rationing in Face of Crisis

Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

The Cuban government announced Friday that it was launching widespread rationing of chicken, eggs, rice, beans, soap and other basic products in the face of a grave economic crisis.  

Commerce Minister Betsy Diaz Velazquez told the state-run Cuban News Agency that various forms of rationing would be employed in order to deal with shortages of staple foods. She blamed the hardening of the U.S. trade embargo by the Trump administration. Economists give equal or greater blame to a plunge in aid from Venezuela, where the collapse of the state-run oil company has led to a nearly two-thirds cut in shipments of subsidized fuel that Cuba used for power and to earn hard currency on the open market.  

  

Cuba imports roughly two-thirds of its food at an annual cost of more than $2 billion, and brief shortages of individual products have been common for years. In recent months, a growing number of products have started to go missing for days or weeks at a time, and long lines have sprung up within minutes of the appearance of scarce products like chicken or flour. Many shoppers find themselves still standing in line when the products run out, a problem the government has been blaming on “hoarders.”  

‘Tough moment’

  

“The country’s going through a tough moment. This is the right response. Without this, there’ll be hoarders. I just got out of work and I was able to buy hot dogs,” said Lazara Garcia, 56, a tobacco factory worker.  

  

At the Havana shopping center where Garcia bought her hot dogs, cashiers received orders Friday morning to limit powdered milk to four packets per person, sausages to four packs per person and peas to five packets per person.  

  

Manuel Ordonez, 43, who identified himself as a small-business owner, said the new measures would do nothing to resolve Cuba’s fundamental problems.  

  

“What the country needs to do is produce. Sufficient merchandise is what will lead to shorter lines,” he said.    

Limited rationing of certain products has already begun in many parts of the country, with stores limiting the number of items, such as bottles of cooking oil, that a single shopper can purchase. The policy announced by Diaz appears to go further and apply the same standards across the country of 11 million people.  

  

Food stores in Cuba are government-run and sell products ranging from highly subsidized to wildly overpriced by global standards. Every Cuban receives a ration book that allows him to buy small quantities of basic goods like rice, beans, eggs and sugar each month for payment equivalent to a few U.S. cents.  

  

Cubans with enough money can buy more of those basic goods at “liberated” prices that are still generally below the world average. At the highest of Cuba’s three tiers, brand-name goods from high-quality rice to fancy jams can be purchased for often two to three times the price in their country of origin.  

  

Diaz said chicken would now be sold in limited quantities in every type of store — with cheaper chicken limited to 11 pounds per purchase and the more expensive variety capped at two packages per purchase.  

  

Low-priced soap, rice, bean, peas and eggs will now be sold only in limited quantities per person and controlled through the national system of ration books, Diaz said.  

  

Sales of those products at higher prices do not appear to be affected for the moment.

Business owners

The measures can be expected to have a serious impact on private business owners who often buy cheaper-priced goods at state stores in the absence of access to a wholesale market. Cuba maintains a total monopoly on wholesale commerce, imports and exports, with virtually no access for the country’s small but growing private sector.  

  

Diaz provided a grim series of statistics on food production by the state-run sector, which has found itself struggling to find the cash it needs to pay for basic inputs. She said that in March, Cuba produced 900,000 fewer eggs than the 5.7 million needed daily to satisfy national demand. That deficit shrank to 600,000 by mid-April, she said.  

  

The production of pork, the most-consumed meat in Cuba and a normally affordable staple of most people’s diets, is hundreds of tons below target, she said.

Voice of America

Russia News


Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

“counterintelligence cia” – Google News: Venezuela’s Maduro says turncoat general ‘recruited by CIA’ was mastermind of failed coup – RT

Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Venezuela’s Maduro says turncoat general ‘recruited by CIA’ was mastermind of failed coup  RT

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has named his former intelligence chief a mastermind behind the recent botched coup attempt, claiming Caracas has …

“counterintelligence cia” – Google News


Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

“cia” – Google News: Defense: Solitary unjust for ex-CIA employee awaiting trial – Washington Post

Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Defense: Solitary unjust for ex-CIA employee awaiting trial  Washington Post

Defense lawyers say a New York judge should order a former CIA employee removed from solitary confinement because it was imposed unjustly and hurts his …

“cia” – Google News


Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Eurasia Review: Abrupt Climate Change Drove Early South American Population Decline

Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Abrupt climate change some 8,000 years ago led to a dramatic decline
in early South American populations, suggests new UCL research.

The study, published in Scientific Reports, is the first to
demonstrate how widespread the decline was and the scale at which
population decline took place 8,000 to 6,000 years ago.

“Archaeologists working in South America have broadly known that
some 8,200 years ago, inhabited sites in various places across the
continent were suddenly abandoned. In our study we wanted to connect the
dots between disparate records that span the Northern Andes, through
the Amazon, to the southern tip of Patagonia and all areas in between,”
said lead author, Dr Philip Riris (UCL Institute of Archaeology).

“Unpredictable levels of rainfall, particularly in the tropics,
appear to have had a negative impact on pre-Columbian populations until
6,000 years ago, after which recovery is evident. This recovery appears
to correlate with cultural practices surrounding tropical plant
management and early crop cultivation, possibly acting as buffers when
wild resources were less predictable,” added Dr Riris.

The study focused on the transition to the Middle Holocene (itself
spanning 8,200 and 4,200 years ago), a period of particularly profound
change when hunter-gatherer populations were already experimenting with
different domestic plants, and forming new cultural habits to suit both
landscape and climate change.

While the research shows that there was a significant disruption to
population, the study highlights that indigenous people of South America
were thriving before and after the middle Holocene.

Co-author, Dr Manuel Arroyo-Kalin (UCL Institute of Archaeology),
said: “In the years leading up to population decline, we can see that
population sizes were unharmed. This would suggest that early Holocene
populations, probably with a social memory of abrupt climate change
during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition, developed successful
strategies to deal with climate change.

“Abandonment of certain regions and the need to adapt quickly to new
circumstances may have promoted the exploration of alternative
strategies and new forms of subsistence, including the early adoption of
low scale cultivation of domestic plants. Viewed in the context of at
least 14,000 years of human presence in South America, the events of the
Middle Holocene are a key part of indigenous South Americans’ cultural
resilience to abrupt and unexpected change.”

In this new study, archaeologists examined data from nearly 1,400
sites consisting of more than 5,000 radiocarbon dates to understand how
population changed over time, and cross-referenced this information with
climate data.

Dr Riris explained: “We studied ancient records of rainfall such as
marine sediments for evidence of exceptional climate events. Within
windows of 100 years, we compared the Middle Holocene to the prevalent
patterns before and after 8,200 years ago. Normal patterns of rainfall
suggest on average an unusually dry or wet year every 16-20 years, while
under highly variable conditions this increases to every 5 years or so.
This puts in perspective the challenge that indigenous communities
would have faced.”

The authors believe that the research offers crucial historical
context on how ancient indigenous South American populations dealt with
climate change.

Dr Arroyo-Kalin concluded: “Our study brings a demographic dimension
to bear on understandings of the effects of past climate change, and
the challenges that were faced by indigenous South Americans in
different places. This understanding gauges the resilience of past
small-scale productive systems and can potentially help shape future
strategies for communities in the present.”

Eurasia Review


Spread the Knowledge
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •