All posts by John Xenakis

10-Dec-16 World View — EU agrees to grant visa-free travel to people of Ukraine and Georgia

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Ukraine still on track to host Eurovision song contest in 2017
  • Ukraine war: fighting just to carry on fighting
  • EU agrees to grant visa-free travel to people of Ukraine and Georgia

Ukraine still on track to host Eurovision song contest in 2017

Jamala, after winning the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest (DPA)
Jamala, after winning the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest (DPA)

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) announced on Thursday announced, “Contrary to media reports, we can confirm there are no plans to move the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest to Moscow.”

Ukraine won the 2016 Eurovision contest in May, and according to rules, will be the host of the 2017 contest. However, Russia is objecting that Ukraine is too financially strapped to be able to host the multinational spectacle. Russia is also objecting that Ukraine is threatening to forbid attendance by anyone who supported Russia’s invasion and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.

The core of the dispute is that the Ukraine singer Jamala (actual name Susana Jamaladinova) won the contest in May with an extremely emotional song called “1944” that appeared to allude to Russia’s 1944 deportation of 240,000 ethnic Tatars from Crimea to Siberia and Central Asia. Jamala herself is an ethnic Tatar, whose great-grandmother was deported, along with five children.

Thursday’s announcement by the EBU is intended to reassure the public that the issues have been resolved, and that the 2017 contest will be held in Ukraine. Deutsche Welle and Telegraph (London, 11-May-2016) and Youtube – Jamala’s performance at Eurovision

Ukraine war: fighting just to carry on fighting

According to France 24’s Ukraine correspondent Gulliver Cragg, there is no sign that the war in Ukraine is ending, but it’s not going anywhere either. The two sides are just fighting because of the political benefits that they gain as long as the war continues.

In 2014, Russia invaded Ukraine, with troops and equipment to support separatists who wanted to break off the entire eastern portion of Ukraine and annex it to Russia. That hasn’t happened, but Russia also invaded Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula and annexed it made it part of the Russian federation.

However, the war in eastern Ukraine between the Ukrainian army, supported by the government in Kiev, and the Russian separatists, supported by Russian troops and equipment. The following interview excerpts occurred on RFI (my transcription):

“I don’t see very many signs of things changing in any major way in the near future in the east. It’s important to stress this war is very much ongoing. People are being killed everyday pretty much.

It pales in comparison to what’s going on in Syria – the death toll is far far lower, thankfully, and civilians are bearing less of the brunt of it than they were in 2014-15. The casualties tend to be military casualties on both sides.

And there’s no clear sign of what people are trying to do. There’s no evident attempt to take more territory by either side. It seems like, in a lot of ways, and I think there’s quite a lot of evidence for this, they are mostly just carrying on fighting in order to carry on fighting.

The separatists need an excuse as to why life in the areas they control is so bad – why they aren’t managing to build these pseudo states properly, and the easy thing to do is to blame the Ukrainians “who keep bombing us.”

The Ukrainians find the war — this is perhaps a cynical analysis — but I think that there is an extent to which it’s true — the Ukrainians — although and I would always stress that they did not start this war — but now there’s a situation where the more it goes on, they don’t have to face the impossible task of applying the Minsk peace agreement which was signed in February 2015, which is actually basically impossible for Ukraine to comply with. They could never get the vote in parliament needed to pass the measures that they promised Russia they would pass. So as long as the fighting goes on, they don’t have to do that.”

RFI video

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EU agrees to grant visa-free travel to people of Ukraine and Georgia

France 24 Ukraine correspondent Gulliver Cragg went on to say that what the Ukrainian government wants most of all from the EU is visa-free travel for Ukrainians throughout the Schengen zone. (This is the same issue as with Turkey, which wants visa-free travel for Turkish citizens throughout the Schengen zone.)

In fact, the European Parliament on Thursday reached an agreement to grant visa-free travel to the people of Ukraine and Georgia. Under the terms of the agreement, visa-free travel can be quickly terminated after an investigation following a request by an EU nation. The deal still needs to be officially approved by the entire European Parliament, which is expected next week.

However, Cragg adds that visa-free travel won’t be of much use to Ukrainians:

“That’s the one small piece of good news — that they’re gonna get this visa-free travel, but it’s not really gonna impact that many Ukrainians because they can’t really afford to travel to Europe most of them. So there are those who will find it a bit easier to go to Europe and work illegally on short term temporary contracts, in Poland and Italy and things like that – that will make their lives a bit easier — but they’re still gonna be working illegally, because this visa-free access doesn’t allow them to work.”

If approved, then Ukraine and Georgia will join the United States, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Israel, and Japan as countries having visa-free travel. Foreign Policy and European Parliament

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Ukraine, Eurovision, Russia, Crimea, Jamala, Susana Jamaladinova, 1944, Tatars, France24, Gulliver Cragg, Georgia
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9-Dec-16 World View — China says its South China Sea military buildup is a boon to the world

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Philippines to reject US use of its bases for South China Sea patrols
  • China says its South China Sea military buildup is a boon to the world
  • Vietnam and Australia reject China’s claims

Philippines to reject US use of its bases for South China Sea patrols

Chinese army soldiers plant vegetables on Fiery Cross Reef, which China has illegally annexed (Global Times)
Chinese army soldiers plant vegetables on Fiery Cross Reef, which China has illegally annexed (Global Times)

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that the country would not allow the US military to use its base in the Philippines for its freedom of navigation patrols in the South China Sea. In the past, some US aircraft and ships stopped in the Philippines on the way to the South China Sea patrols, but Lorenzana says that the US can now instead use its bases in Guam or Okinawa.

The awkward statement comes from the policy of new Philippines president Rodrigo R. Duterte. He announced a cutoff of relations with the United States first by calling President Obama the “son of a whore,” and then he traveled to Beijing and sucked up to China’s president Xi Jinping.

China’s claims to the South China Sea were eviscerated by a ruling of United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague in July. In particular, the Tribunal said:

“[The Tribunal] FINDS that Scarborough Shoal has been a traditional fishing ground for fishermen of many nationalities and DECLARES that China has, through the operation of its official vessels at Scarborough Shoal from May 2012 onwards, unlawfully prevented fishermen from the Philippines from engaging in traditional fishing at Scarborough Shoal.”

Apparently Duterte ceded the Scarborough Shoal to China in their meeting, but he was rewarded when China graciously decided to allow Philippines fishermen to fish there again, as they had been doing for centuries prior to 2012.

The new announcement by Lorenzana is consistent with Duterte’s policy of submission to China, but it seems unlikely to be popular with the Philippines people who, as I’ve previously reported, have a 92% favorable view of the US, but only a 44% favorable view of China.

The mutual xenophobia between the Chinese and Philippine people is substantial, and it would take just one accident or unpleasant incident to stoke nationalist feelings in one country against the other, and force Duterte to change his submissive policy. As I’ve written many times, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics it’s the masses of people, the generations, not the politicians, who decide a country’s policies. Philippines Star and International Business Times

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China says its South China Sea military buildup is a boon to the world

A Chinese military newspaper says that China’s vast military buildup in the South China Sea is a boon to everyone in the region, and to the whole world. “China’s construction in the South China Sea has turned its islands into the best-equipped, most advanced bases in the region with airports, hospitals, agriculture and 4G mobile signal.” Furthermore, there are more than 20 scientific research projects, dealing with issues such as seawater desalination, refuse disposal, and marine ecology protection.

However, the paper adds, “So this region is advantageous geographically, and when conflict begins, who controls this region will dominate.” It also quotes a Chinese joke: “When the US sends their warships to scare us, we just fill in one or two more islands to make ourselves calm down.” Global Times (Beijing)

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Vietnam and Australia reject China’s claims

The Vietnamese are not buying the message that China’s annexation of the South China Sea is a boon to the world.

Satellite imagery shows that Vietnam has begun dredging operations in Ladd Reef in a corner of the Spratly Islands that China is now annexing, along with the rest of the South China Sea. Although the purpose of the dredging cannot yet be determined, it appears to similar to China’s activities in creating artificial islands and military bases. However, the Vietnamese efforts are minuscule compared China’s vast militarization efforts.

Vietnam has also fortified five of its bases in the Spratly Islands with rocket launchers — a move described in August by China state-run media as “a terrible mistake.”

Vietnam has its own historic claim to the South China Sea. In 1836, the King of Hue began dispatching soldiers once a year to the islands, hunting for pearls, giant clams and salvaged treasure from passing boats, often European, which sank on treacherous reefs. This regal connection is significant. According to a Vietnamese official whose family settled the islands in the 1600s, “Vietnam is the rightful owner of the Paracels and Spratlys.”

Australia is also not buying China’s claim that its vast military expansion in the South China Sea is a boon to the world. According to one Australian analyst:

“China has built six large islands — three substantial air bases and three sizeable electronic surveillance installations. With this, China effectively has moved 1100km south towards Australia and deep into the geographic heart of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations [ASEAN].

The new facilities’ size allows China to deploy off northern Borneo an air combat force larger and more capable than any current ASEAN air force. China can easily enforce an air defense identification zone across the South China Sea.

More worryingly, China for the first time poses a realistic air threat to Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and all of Borneo. With these new air bases, China today militarily dominates the central ASEAN region.”

The analyst recommends that Australia, the US and ASEAN “build regional resilience to Chinese threats.” Empty words, since no such resilience is possible, short of full-scale war. Australian Broadcasting and The Australian

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, China, Philippines, South China Sea, Delfin Lorenzana, Rodrigo R. Duterte, Xi Jinping, United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration, Scarborough Shoal, Spratly Islands, Paracel Islands, Vietnam, Australia, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, ASEAN
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8-Dec-16 World View — Venezuela’s currency becomes worthless, as Zimbabwe introduces new currency

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Venezuela to print 20,000 Bolivar note as currency
  • Zimbabwe introduces a new currency, ‘bond notes’

Venezuela to print 20,000 Bolivar note as currency

This entire pile of Venezuelan currency is probably worth less than one American dollar.
This entire pile of Venezuelan currency is probably worth less than one American dollar.

The hyperinflation of Venezuela’s currency is accelerating so rapidly that the money printing presses can barely keep up.

After a 180% inflation rate in the year 2015, Venezuela in December was forced to begin printing 500 and 1000 Bolivar bills, while phasing out the 2 and 5 Bolivar bills.

The larger currency not only did not solve Venezuela’s hyperinflation problem, it actually exacerbated it, by providing the means for prices to accelerate even more rapidly. In just one month, November of this year, the inflation rate was 67%.

This evokes memories of the stories of Germany’s Weimar republic, where the inflation rate reached 1000% per month by November 1923, with iconic tales of ordinary people buying a loaf of bread with a wheelbarrow of money. Venezuelans have already begun carrying bags of cash for every day transactions.

That 1000 Bolivar note, issued in February, that was supposed to solve Venezuela’s currency problems is now worth about 20 American cents. So Venezuela is now issuing 5,000, 10,000 and 20,000 Bolivar notes, which will be available from banks on December 15. So the 20,000 Bolivar note is worth about $4 today, and probably will be worth about 4 cents within a few more months.

Venezuela used to be a wealthy country, thanks to oil exports, which are the country’s only major source of revenue. The charismatic leader Hugo Chávez wasted the oil revenue on pet projects, on buying votes, and on supporting Cuba’s failing economy. Today, Hugo Chávez is dead and oil prices have crashed. The current president, Nicolás Maduro, is increasingly using military power and violence to keep the population under control as the currency collapses. The new hyperinflated 20,000 Bolivar notes will give a boost to the economy that will last about a nanosecond, and then they’ll trigger even more hyperinflation and more shortages.

Debt-ridden Venezuela may be forced to officially default in mid-December. Venezuelanalysis (22-Feb-2016) and International Business Times and CNN Money

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Zimbabwe introduces a new currency, ‘bond notes’

In a sense, Zimbabwe is a few years ahead of Venezuela. Zimbabwe has already gone through its hyperinflation phase.

As recently as the 1999, Zimbabwe was a breadbasket of Africa, exporting up to 500,000 metric tons of surplus food. By 2003, Zimbabwe was starving. What happened during those three years was a Marxist socialist “land reform” program by Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe that confiscated 4,500 white-owned commercial farms and redistributed the property to his own Shona ethnic group.

After 2003, more and more Zimbabweans have been dying of starvation, because Mugabe has destroyed the farm infrastructure. By 2008, the official rate of inflation was 231 million percent. By 2009, 35 quadrillion Zimbabwe dollars were worth just one US dollar. Zimbabwe began to use the dollar, the rand and the euro as its official currency.

Now Zimbabwe has introduced a new currency called “bond notes,” each one of which is said to be equal in value to one US dollar. The given reason for introducing the bond notes is that there are not enough US dollars in circulation, causing hardship for the people.

The reason that there aren’t enough US dollars in circulation is because Mugabe has destroyed the economy and there aren’t enough exports. Exports would be used to bring US dollars and other foreign currencies into the country.

Incredibly, Mugabe is continuing is destruction of the economy. The word “indigenization” is used by Mugabe to describe confiscating a farm owned by a white farmer and giving it to one of Mugabe’s Shona tribe cronies, probably someone who doesn’t even know how to farm. That’s how Zimbabwe turned from the breadbasket of Africa into a major food importer.

So now Mugabe is extending his “indigenization” program from farms to all businesses, requiring all businesses to be majority owned by Zimbabweans, again mostly cronies from Mugabe’s Shona tribe. Zimbabwe continues to shut down businesses, including foreign banks, that do not comply with the indigenization requirements.

So anyone can see that this will end badly. The destruction of more businesses means that there will be fewer products available. In the meantime, the bond notes will have the same effect that the 20,000 Bolivar note is having in Venezuela — more bond notes for fewer products. It looks like Zimbabwe is on its second round of hyperinflation. Reuters and New Zimbabwe and Independent (South Africa)

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro Moros, Hugo Chávez, Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, bond notes, indigenization
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7-Dec-16 World View — Asian jihadists become radicalized by Burma’s (Myanmar’s) Rohingya slaughter

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Evidence of Burma ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas continues to mount
  • Burma’s Rohingya attacks generate calls for military action in Malaysia
  • Jihadists become radicalized by the Rohingya slaughter

Evidence of Burma ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas continues to mount

Rohingya boat people fleeing from violence in Myanmar (Burma)
Rohingya boat people fleeing from violence in Myanmar (Burma)

According to the International Organization for Migration, around 21,000 ethnic Rohingyas from Myanmar (Burma) have fled across the border from Rakhine state to Bangladesh to escape violence by Burma’s army.

As we’ve been reporting, Human Rights Watch has posted satellite images that show that villages of Rohingya Muslims are being systematically burned down. Some 30,000 Rohingyas have been displaced. Myanmar officials continue to make the laughable claims that the Rohingyas are burning down their own homes to embarrass the government. Burma’s government is refusing to allow journalists into the region where the violence is taking place, but the BBC World News has broadcast footage of an undercover road trip through the region, including interviews who says that their husbands were burnt and killed by soldiers, and that they were repeatedly raped by soldiers.

The root of the violence is xenophobic attacks by Buddhists led by Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu and his “969 movement,” against the Rohingya Muslims, including rapes, torture and other atrocities committed by Buddhists, targeting the Rohingyas. The Rohingyas have a darker skin than Burmese, and they speak a Bengali dialect. They are, for all practical purposes, a stateless ethnic group, living on the Bangladesh-Burma border for generations, but rejected by both countries. In fact, Burma refuses to identify the Rohingya as a unique ethnic group, preferring to call them Bengali, and referring to them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. In the last few years, large mobs of Buddhists have massacred entire neighborhoods of Muslims in various regions of the country, mutilating, raping and killing hundreds, and displacing thousands from their homes.

Nobel Peace Prize winner and democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi has been praised in the past for her support of human rights, but she is losing her luster as an international superstar as she is being increasingly condemned for refusing to speak out to condemn the current Buddhist violence against the Rohingyas. Under international pressure, Suu Kyi has formed a special committee to investigate the violence, but the committee is headed by an army general for the same army that’s committing the violence, so the investigation is not considered credible. Deutsche Welle and AFP and Bangkok Post

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Burma’s Rohingya attacks generate calls for military action in Malaysia

It’s a rule of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that member states are forbidden from interfering in each other’s internal affair.

So Malaysia’s prime minister Najib Razak violated that rule on Sunday, when he spoke to thousands at a pro-Rohingya rally in Kuala Lumpur. He questioned Aung San Suu Kyi’s Nobel Prize, given her inaction, and said to thousands of Malaysians at the rally:

“The world cannot sit by and watch genocide taking place. The world cannot just say ‘look, it is not our problem’. It is our problem.”

Buddhist monks in Myanmar, from the Nationalist Monk Association, led a protest of about 150 people in Yangon, holding banners and chanting. An official in Myanmar said that Najib is wrong:

“What he said in Malaysia is not true. We’re trying to solve (this) with the international supporters. But it’s our choice, no other country can make (a) decision about our country.”

He accused Najib of stoking religious extremism in order to score political points in Malaysia.

In Malaysia, hundreds of people from the hardline Islamist group Hizbut Tahrir, marched to the Defense Ministry, and demanded that Malaysia’s army conduct a jihad against Burma. According to the group’s statement:

There is no other solution to save Rohingyan Muslims except mobilizing the army to Myanmar, because the reality is the Arakan [Rakhine State] Muslims are being pummeled by Myanmar’s infidel army.

“The Armed Forces is obliged to help the Rohingyan Muslim by accepting the Allah’s call for jihad at the kafir harbi [infidels] country.”

BBC and Channel News Asia and Malaysia Mail Online

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Jihadists become radicalized by the Rohingya slaughter

The Somali-born student who launched a car-and-knife attack at Ohio State University this week reportedly protested on his Facebook page about the killing of minority Muslims in Myanmar. And last weekend, Indonesian authorities arrested two militants who were allegedly planning to attack the Myanmar Embassy in Jakarta.

Online extremists in Indonesia have expressed their desire to mount “jihad” on behalf of the Rohingya, with some supporters hoping that the ‘mujahidin’ will be able to smuggle into Myanmar. The Rohingya crisis has become a rallying cry for jihad. Some social media users in Indonesia have gone to the extent of declaring their readiness to be suicide bombers for the sake of the Rohingya. The Rohingya issue is fast developing into a security threat that would have an adverse impact on peace in the region. VOA and RSIS (Singapore) and The Statesman (India)

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Burma, Myanmar, Rohingyas, Bangladesh, Ashin Wirathu, 969 Movement, Aung San Suu Kyi, Nationalist Monk Association, Malaysia, Najib Razak, Hizbut Tahrir
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6-Dec-16 World View — China and Russia in military competition in Tajikistan

This morning’s key headlines from

  • China and Russia in military competition in Tajikistan
  • Russia promises Tajikistan a ‘large quantity’ of military aircraft

China and Russia in military competition in Tajikistan

Joint China and Tajikistan military exercises in October (Asia-Plus)
Joint China and Tajikistan military exercises in October (Asia-Plus)

In a major change in policy, China is becoming more militarily active in the Central Asian republic of Tajikistan. Tajikistan, which was one of the republics of the Soviet Union, is usually thought to be in Russia’s exclusive sphere of influence.

As we’ve reported in the past, China has been economically very aggressive in Tajikistan. It’s thought that there are now 150,000 Chinese working in Tajikistan, and China has been buying up industries and huge amounts of farmland. In 2011, Tajikistan agreed to hand over around 1% of its territory to China in exchange for having some of its debts forgiven.

Unexpectedly, China’s military activity in Tajikistan has also expanded substantially. In September 2016, Beijing offered to build 11 new border checkpoints and a new military facility along the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border, which raised [1]some concerns in Russia. On October 20–24, a combined 10,000 military personnel from the National Army of Tajikistan and China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) were conducted five days of counterterrorism exercises in a region bordering Afghanistan.

China’s military activity in Tajikistan serves multiple objectives — protecting its economic interests, defending Central Asia and itself from jihadist terrorism, and containing Russia’s influence. Russian officials have not commented on this change so far, but it’s certain to raise tensions in Central Asia. Jamestown and The Diplomat and EurasiaNet (24-Oct)

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Russia promises Tajikistan a ‘large quantity’ of military aircraft

On Monday, defense ministers of Russia and Tajikistan, meeting in Moscow, signed a military aid agreement specifying that Russia would provide a “large quantity” of military aircraft to Tajikistan over the next year. Russia’s defense minister Sergey Shoigu said after the meeting:

“Next year the key phase of our military-technical cooperation will begin, the delivery of weaponry and military equipment. In particular, this is a large quantity of aviation equipment, airplanes and helicopters. I think this will be implemented according to plan and on schedule. And, of course, it will contribute to stability in the region.”

According to a Tajik source, the deal will include combat aircraft, armored vehicles and communications.

This agreement shows that China will not easily be able to displace Russia in Tajikistan. Russia had a special unit of border guards at the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border between 1992 and 2005 and repeatedly repelled attacks by Taliban forces. Russia has had a military base in Tajikistan for 70 years, and the lease of the military base was extended for another 30 years in a 2012 agreement. The agreement to deliver military aircraft may be an attempt to counter China’s growing influence.

According to Russian analyst Andrey Serenko, Russia’s military adventures in the Mideast and Ukraine may have left few resources to keep China from expanding its influence:

“There is a danger in this new alliance, along with Pakistan and Afghanistan China is including Tajikistan, which Russia has until recently considered part of its zone of influence. Russia’s involvement in Ukraine and the Middle East has resulted in us losing our position in Central Asia. It appears that in this ‘Central Asian NATO’ under the Chinese umbrella, Russia may be the odd one out.”

Tajikistan also shares a long border with Afghanistan. Increasing jihadist activity from the Taliban, the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), and Uighur separatists has raised fears of terrorist activity in Tajikistan, and both China and Russia are concerned.

Furthermore, the jihadist threat from Afghanistan provides a convenient justification for Russia and China to convince Tajikistan to allow their troops on Tajikistan’s soil. EurasiaNet and Asia-Plus (Tajikistan)

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Tajikistan, China, Russia, Afghanistan, Sergey Shoigu, Andrey Serenko, Taliban, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, IMU, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh
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5-Dec-16 World View — No war erupted from Trump’s ten minute phone call with Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen

This morning’s key headlines from

  • No war erupted from Trump’s ten minute phone call with Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen
  • From the Truman Doctrine to renewed nationalism

There was no “Generational Dynamics World View” posting on Sunday because Comcast crashed, and the internet was unavailable most of Saturday and Sunday. I apologize to my readers for any inconvenience.

No war erupted from Trump’s ten minute phone call with Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen

Trump and Tsai (South China Morning Post)
Trump and Tsai (South China Morning Post)

On Friday, Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen had a “shock” 10-minute phone conversation with US President-elect Donald Trump. As usual, the mainstream media have reported this story in the most incompetent way possible. I saw and heard so-called “experts” talking on the BBC and CNN ranting and raving how this was going to cause a war. The printed mainstream press referred to it as a “major crisis.”

The utter incompetence of the mainstream media in dealing with this story was amazing. We know that the SAT scores of students have been falling for decades, and now it seems like the reporters at the NY Times, NBC News, CNN and others apparently majored in sociology and women’s studies in college, so they have no clue what journalism is.

Furthermore, having spent eight years simply re-publishing statements and press releases from the Obama administration, these reporters have absolutely no journalistic experience that would allow them to report a story on their own, which reporters were able to do before the rise of Generation-X.

As regular Generational Dynamics readers know, China has been aggressively preparing for full-scale war with the United States for years. They’ve developed one nuclear missile system after another, and manufactured perhaps hundreds of those missiles, with no other purpose than to destroy American cities, military bases and aircraft carriers. These developments have been deliberately planned, and it’s clear that China plans to attack at a time of its own choosing, not to be triggered in a panic because of a ten-minute phone call.

Furthermore, China did not launch a war after much worse provocations. In January Tsai Ing-wen, president of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), won an overwhelming and decisive electoral victory in January. China was outraged, but didn’t start a war.

On July 12 ruling on the South China Sea, the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration eviscerated China’s claims to the South China Sea in a legal challenge brought by the Philippines. China was FURIOUS and thoroughly humiliated by the decision, and issued one angry, contemptuous statement after another, but didn’t launch a war.

So it was really pretty obvious that China wasn’t going to launch a war over a ten-minute phone call. The Gen-X so-called “journalists” at the BBC, NY Times, and CNN could have figured that out as easily as I could. In addition to being incompetent as journalists, they’re emotionally traumatized by the enormous humiliation they suffered in the election results after aggressively supporting Clinton during the campaign with some of the most moronic “news” reporting in history.

As I’ve been writing for years, Generational Dynamics predicts that the world is headed for a new world war, the Clash of Civilizations world war. The allies of the West will include Japan, India, Russia and Iran. The enemies will be China, Pakistan, and the Sunni Muslim countries. This will be the world’s greatest war in history.

So a war with China is coming, and would be coming irrespective of whether Trump or Clinton had won. It would be nice if the mainstream media could start reporting actual news instead of fatuous nonsense, but that’s apparently too much to hope for. Xinhua and International Business Times and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)

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From the Truman Doctrine to renewed nationalism

I’ve written many times about the Truman Doctrine, from President Harry Truman in 1947, which made America policeman of the world. The justification is that it’s better to have a small military action to stop an ongoing crime than to let it slide and end up having an enormous conflict like World War II. The Truman Doctrine was reaffirmed in President John Kennedy’s “ask not” speech, and every president since WW II has followed the Truman Doctrine, up to and including George Bush. Barack Obama is the first president to repudiate the Truman Doctrine, essentially leaving the world without a policeman. As I’ve written numerous times, I believe that the cause of Obama’s numerous foreign policy disasters is his repudiation of the Truman Doctrine. From various apology tours to flip-flopping on the Syria Sarin gas red line to prematurely pulling American troops from Iraq, Obama’s rejection of America’s role as policeman of the world has left the world without a policeman, and we’ve seen the results.

The phone call between Donald Trump and Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen indicates another serious turn in American foreign policy.

As I’ve been writing for over ten years, America and much of the world are in a generational Crisis era, and I’ve documented numerous examples in country after country of what always happens in a generational Crisis era — the rise of xenophobia and nationalism. This has happened in China vs Japan, China vs Vietnam, India vs Pakistan, Europe vis-à-vis the Muslims and the Roma, and America vis-à-vis the Muslims and the Mexicans.

Fortunately, and much to my great relief, president-elect Trump has almost completely walked back his xenophobic remarks about Mexicans and Muslims, and this gives me hope that, unlike our current president, he’s a person who is able to learn, though that remains to be seen.

However, even without the xenophobia, Trump has tapped into the increasing mood of nationalism that we see in America, and other countries. We saw the growth of nationalism in the anti-EU Brexit vote in Britain, we saw it on Sunday with the anti-EU referendum vote in Italy that may force the resignation of Matteo Renzi, and we saw it in the phone call with Taiwan’s president.

Nationalism is not the same as the Truman Doctrine. The Truman Doctrine provides guidelines for a military action whose purpose is to prevent a foreign war from spiraling into a major war. A police analogy would be the Los Angeles police taking action to prevent further fighting between the Crips and the Bloods. Nationalism is much more ideological, as if the LA police took the side of the Crips for ideological reasons and fought with them against the Bloods.

Foreign policy for the last eight years has repudiated the Truman Doctrine and been highly anti-nationalistic and hence highly ideological, with highly undesirable outcomes. It remains to be seen in the next few years whether America follows a new ideological foreign policy, dictated by nationalism, or whether it’s a return to a reasoned, methodical foreign policy, such as the one dictated by the Truman Doctrine, followed by every president from Harry Truman to George Bush. A war between China and Taiwan is inevitable, at a time of Beijing’s choosing, no matter what president Trump does, but too much nationalism can make it appear that we’re taking sides. With the Clash of Civilizations world war approaching, a reasoned, methodical, non-ideological foreign policy is what we need.

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Donald Trump, Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, China, Philippines, South China Sea, Permanent Court of Arbitration, Harry Truman, Truman Doctrine, John Kennedy
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3-Dec-16 World View — India’s Narendra Modi threatens to divert water from Pakistan to India’s farmers

This morning’s key headlines from

  • India’s Narendra Modi threatens to divert water from Pakistan to India’s farmers
  • Dangerous tensions continue in Kashmir
  • India says that Modi’s ‘demonetization’ program reduced Kashmir violence

India’s Narendra Modi threatens to divert water from Pakistan to India’s farmers

Indus River Valley (Reuters)
Indus River Valley (Reuters)

As tit-for-tat charges and insults between India and Pakistan continue to escalate, India’s prime minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said that India would abrogate the 56-year-old Indus Water Treaty and divert water currently flowing from India to Pakistan back to India’s farmers.

Speaking to a rally in Punjab last week on Friday, Modi said:

“Under the Indus Water Treaty, India has the right over water of Satluj, Beas and Ravi rivers. It rightfully belongs to our farmers, but this water is not reaching the farmer’s field, instead the water is flowing to Pakistan and eventually going to the sea. Governments came and went in Delhi, but farmers kept suffering as water continued to flow to Pakistan. Not any-more, I will ensure that farmers get what is rightfully theirs.

This water is neither being utilized by Pakistan nor does it come in Indian farmers destiny. I have set-up a task force. I’m committed to ensure that every single drop of water, which is rightfully ours, under the Indus Water Treaty, is brought to the farmers in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, and other parts of the country. …

There is no reason that we cannot use our rights (over our waters) and let our farmers suffer. I need your blessings in order to fulfill your requirements for watering your fields.”

Sirajul Haq of the Islamist political party Jamaat-i-Islami responded:

“Yesterday, prime minister of India Narendra Modi sent a message to Pakistan that he would block our rivers. Today, standing here in Karachi, near the mausoleum of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah I want to inform Modi that the line does not exist on his palm that says that he can do any such thing. Mr Modi, if you stop our water, we will stop your breathing.”

Pakistan officials so far has been relatively restrained in responding to this threat, possibly viewing Modi’s remarks as merely campaign rhetoric. They pointed out that the Indus Water Treaty was mediated by the World Bank in 1960, and has survived despite several wars between the two sides. Pakistan media reports have pointed out that Pakistan is already short of water, and that Modi’s threat, if implemented, would deal a severe blow to Pakistan’s farmers. The News (Pakistan) and Hindustan Times (11-Nov) and Pak Observer and Dawn (Pakistan)

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Dangerous tensions continue in Kashmir

Pakistan and India abandoned any pretense at cordial relations earlier this year after a January 2 there was a terrorist attack on an Indian air force base in Panthankot, Punjab, which India blamed on Pakistan. Pakistan accused India of staging the attack to defame Pakistan.

The name-calling became extremely vitriolic after a September 18 terrorist attack on India’s Uri army base in Kashmir. Four militants, carrying guns and grenades, stormed an Indian army base in Uri in Kashmir. There was a five-hour firefight, and at least 17 soldiers were killed, as were the militants. This was the worst militant terrorist attack in Kashmir in years.

This comes as the violence in Kashmir continues to increase. In October, India relocated 10,000 people in India-controlled Kashmir away from the Line of Control (LoC) that separates the India and Pakistan regions of Kashmir, and last month Pakistan evacuated 8,000 people from Pakistan-controlled Kashmir away from the LoC. CNN (1-Oct) and CNN (16-Nov)

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India says that Modi’s ‘demonetization’ program reduced Kashmir violence

On November 8, India’s prime minister declared 500-1000 rupee notes worthless. This “demonetization” policy has, in many ways, been an economic disaster, causing hardship for many people who have been standing in lines at banks for hours at a time just to exchange the worthless notes for new notes. Many people have been unable to buy necessities like food, and some have been stranded far from home, unable to purchase train tickets.

According to India’s defense minister Manohar Parrikar, the demonetization program has substantially reduced the amount of violence in Kashmir, by reducing incidents of stone-pelting. According to Parrikar:

“Earlier, there were rates: Rs 500 for stone pelting [on security forces in Kashmir] and Rs 1,000 for doing something else. PM has brought terror funding to zero. In the last few days after PM’s daring move there hasn’t been stone pelting on security forces. I congratulate PM for it.”

It’s believed that separatist activists were paying stone-pelters in counterfeit notes that had been printed in Pakistan. By making all 500-1000 rupee notes worthless, the counterfeit notes also became worthless.

If all this is true, then it would certainly count as a fairly spectacular success story, even if the reduction in stone-pelting only lasts a few months. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the violence in Kashmir is “organic” or “indigenous,” in the sense that it’s not directed by armies or generals, but is rising up from the people. The violence comes from various tribal and ethnic groups, not from an army or militia obeying the orders of a national commander.

As I described in a recent article, India’s last two generational crisis wars were India’s 1857 Rebellion, which pitted India’s Hindus against the British colonialists, and the 1947 Partition war, which pitted Hindus and Muslims against each other, following the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan. As we described in that article, the 1857 war led naturally to violence between Hindus and Muslims decades later, and then to the 1947 war.

Now we’re seeing that the 1947 war is leading, decades later, to new violence between Hindus and Muslims. Generational Dynamics predicts that we’re seeing a kind of repeat of 1947, and that this increasing violence will lead to a new generational crisis war between Hindus and Muslims, and from there to full-scale war between Pakistan and India.

If Modi’s demonetization program is really reducing the amount of stone-pelting, then it’s a development that can almost be described as amazing. But from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, it’s only temporary, in that can’t stop the generational changes that are leading to a major new war between Pakistan and India. Times of India and Business Standard (India)

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, India, Narendra Modi, demonetization, Kashmir, Pakistan, Sirajul Haq, Jamaat-i-Islami, Indus Water Treaty, World Bank, Panthankot, Uri, Manohar Parrikar
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2-Dec-16 World View — Sunday’s referendum in Italy threatens EU’s stability

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Sunday’s referendum in Italy threatens EU’s stability
  • Referendum vote could affect stability of Italy’s troubled banks

Sunday’s referendum in Italy threatens EU’s stability

A demonstrator calls for a 'no' vote on Sunday (AFP)
A demonstrator calls for a ‘no’ vote on Sunday (AFP)

On Sunday, Italy will vote on a referendum which, according to prime minister Matteo Renzi, will change the constitution to make Italy more governable, and more able to cope with the future.

The referendum is important in its own right, but it became geopolitically significant in January when Renzi announced that he would resign if the referendum failed. Many analysts call this an act of hubris that was unnecessary and even disastrous, but it’s been done. And now the consequences are that the referendum is less about constitutional reform, and more about whether Renzi should remain in office.

After the spectacular failure of polling organizations to predict the result of Britain’s Brexit referendum or the American presidential election, no one knows whether or not to believe polls anymore. Nonetheless, many politicians are nervous, because the poll results show that the referendum is more likely to fail than to succeed.

If the referendum fails, and if Renzi keeps his promise and resigns, and if the remaining MPs in parliament cannot find a way to select a “caretaker” government that will keep things going — if all of those things occur, then there will be new elections.

It’s thought that the party most likely to benefit from new elections will be the left-wing populist Five Star Movement (M5S), led by Beppe Grillo, an Italian comedian, actor, and political activist. M5S received about one-quarter of the vote in the 2013 elections, has won some major mayoral elections since then, and has become increasingly popular. And Grillo and the Five Star politicians are “euroskeptic” and have said that they’ll sponsor a new referendum on whether Italy should pull out of the eurozone, and possibly the European Union.

So, if there are new elections, and if the Five Star Movement and its euroskeptic allies come into power, and if they sponsor a new referendum, and if that new referendum is approved — if all of those things occur, then the stability of the eurozone and the European Union will be at risk.

That’s a lot of “if’s” that have to happen. Nonetheless, Europe’s politicians have been unnerved by a series of populist setbacks, the main ones being the Brexit referendum and the American election, and they’re afraid that Sunday’s referendum vote in Italy will be the next one. Spiegel (Germany) and Express (London) and The Local (Italy)

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Referendum vote could affect stability of Italy’s troubled banks

There’s a completely different scenario where a “no” vote on Sunday’s referendum could threaten instability of the euro.

As we’ve been reporting, Italy’s Banco Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), founded in 1472, and the world’s oldest operating bank, is close to collapse because it has $55.2 billion of bad loans on its book. Other Italian banks are in trouble as well, holding a total of about $383 billion in non-performing loans, about a third of the total in the entire eurozone.

MPS has been trying to avoid collapse by trying to convince investors to lend the bank another $5 billion, despite having burned through two previous large loans.

It’s believed that a “no” vote on Sunday’s referendum will create enough uncertainty that Italy’s borrowing costs might rise significantly. In fact, anticipation of a “no” vote has caused investors to sell off Italian bonds, pushing yields (interest rates) up to 2%, compared to just 0.3% for German bunds.

If borrowing costs increase further, then investors could be far less interested in lending MPS the $5 billion it needs to avoid collapse, and this could have a domino effect that could catastrophically affect Italy’s entire banking system. In the most likely scenario, Italy’s government would have to bail out the banks with taxpayer money, but this is a violation of new rules set by the European Central Bank, forcing Italy out of the eurozone.

Not everyone is so pessimistic. In the optimistic scenario, it will turn out that poll results were erroneous because voters were ashamed to admit that they’re voting “yes” on the referendum, just as they were ashamed to admit that they were voting for Brexit or Trump. The optimistic scenario also notes that the Wall Street stocks surged to new highs following Trumps’ election. So in this scenario, Renzi remains in office, Italian stocks surge, MPS gets it bailout money from investors, and Italy muddles through for another year. CNN and Market Watch and Stratfor

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Italy, Matteo Renzi, Brexit, Five Star Movement, M5S, Beppe Grillo, Banco Monte dei Paschi di Siena, MPS
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1-Dec-16 World View — Europeans wonder if Turkey will reopen the refugee floodgates

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Mediterranean migrant traffic to Italy and Greece continues, despite cold weather
  • Europeans wonder if Turkey will reopen the refugee floodgates

Mediterranean migrant traffic to Italy and Greece continues, despite cold weather

Rescuing an overcrowded migrant boat off the Libyan coast (Reuters)
Rescuing an overcrowded migrant boat off the Libyan coast (Reuters)

About 171,000 migrants reached Italy after crossing the Mediterranean Sea so far this year, a new record. The previous record was 170,100 for all of 2014. The number arriving in Greece so far this year totals another 171,731, but this figure is well below the 2015 figure of 883,393, thanks to the EU-Turkey refugee deal.

More than three times as many migrants reached Italy this November as did so in the same month last year. On Monday alone, Italian and international rescuers reportedly pulled 1,400 people from the water to rescue them from drowning.

The EU-Turkey refugee deal has substantially reduced the number of migrants traveling from Turkey across the Aegean Sea to Greece. Those migrants are generally from war zones in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Most migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Europe are from African countries, according to the International Organization for Migration:

  • Nigeria: 35716
  • Eritrea: 20000
  • Guinea : 12352
  • Ivory Coast: 11406
  • Gambia : 11022

The process of Mediterranean migrant traffic has become an extremely efficient and cynical assembly line. People-smugglers launch overcrowded rubber boats from the Libyan coast, with absolutely no pretense that the rubber boats will reach Europe. The migrants are told to use their radios to call for help from European rescuers while they are still close to the Libyan coast. There is a high risk that the overcrowded rubber boats will sink or capsize before rescuers can find them. There have been 4,655 cases of deaths of missing at sea recorded in the Mediterranean so far this year, compared to 3,771 cases in the whole of 2015.

The cold weather is making the trip far more deadly. Nonetheless, more migrants are making the trip because they want to cross before winter, and because people-smugglers are telling migrants that the EU is going to close the Mediterranean Sea route. BBC and International Organization For Migration and International Business Times

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Europeans wonder if Turkey will reopen the refugee floodgates

The EU-Turkey refugee deal seems to be hanging by a thread. Last week’s vote by the EU parliament to recommend ending negotiations for Turkey’s membership in the EU has infuriated the Turks, especially president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said angrily, “Look, if you go further, the border gates will be opened. You should know that.”

In fact, there are reports from Greece’s intelligence unit that Erdogan has ordered that refugees be lined up along the Aegean Sea, ready to cross to Greece. The report indicates that as many as 3,000 refugees would cross every day, which would amount to about one million in a year.

Other reports indicate that some European nations are almost in a state of panic, and are making preparations. Serbia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Croatia and Hungary are reportedly planning to build fences and barriers that would effectively divide Europe in two, and seal off most of the continent.

However, some analysts are doubting would ever launch this “nuclear option.” The threat of ending the EU-Turkey refugee deal is a huge piece of leverage for Turkey in negotiations on any subject, and once he abrogated the deal, he would lose his negotiating leverage and invite retaliation.

In the past I’ve suggested my own possible scenario, which I’ve never seen discussed in the media. Ending the EU-Turkey refugee deal isn’t a binary on or off decision. For example, Erdogan could move some of his troops from the coast along the Aegean Sea to southeastern Turkey to meet the threat from the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Protection from PKK would be perfect cover for a decision that would permit a small to moderate increase in the refugee flow. This would serve notice to the EU that more troops could be moved away at any time, to increase the refugee flow some more. This would permit Turkey to retain its negotiating leverage, although the fact that it was cold-blooded extortion would still be perfectly obvious. Independent (London) and Pro Thema (Greece) (Trans) and Express (London) and Hurriyet (Ankara)

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Mediterranean Sea, Italy, Greece, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Eritrea, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK, Serbia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Croatia, Hungary
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30-Nov-16 World View — Mahmoud Abbas, 81, reelected leader of Fatah/Palestinian Authority

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Mahmoud Abbas, 81, reelected leader of Fatah/Palestinian Authority
  • Hopes again grow for Gaza-West Bank unity government

Mahmoud Abbas, 81, reelected leader of Fatah/Palestinian Authority

Mohammed Dahlan
Mohammed Dahlan

The 81-year-old Mahmoud Abbas, who took over as leader of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in January 2005, after the death of Yassir Arafat, was overwhelming reelected as leader of Fatah/PA, which governs the West Bank, on Tuesday, after ruthlessly shutting out his principal opponent, 55-year-old Mohammed Dahlan, and Dahlan’s supporters.

Abbas’s victory isn’t a surprise, but it wasn’t the outcome that the so-call “Arab quartet” — United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan — had hoped for. Much of the Arab world has been waiting for Abbas to retire or die, so that a younger leader like Dahlan could replace him.

Abbas, born in 1935, is part of the old generation of survivors of the genocidal war between Jews and Arabs that followed the 1947 partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. When Yasser Arafat died in December 2004, Abbas was a natural choice to succeed him, because they were both war survivors and shared a common world view. But now the time is approaching for a successor and for a generational change.

The major aspirant is 55 year old Mohammed Dahlan. Dahlan grew up poor in a Gaza refugee camp, but as a top aide to Arafat became Gaza’s strongman in the 1990s, jailing leaders of rival Hamas which was trying to derail Arafat’s negotiation with Israel through bombing and shooting attacks. Abbas and Dahlan used to be allies, but the 2008 war between Fatah and Hamas, that made Hamas the governing power in Gaza caused tension between them, until 2011 when Abbas expelled Dahlan completely from Fatah.

The population of the West Bank is badly split between supporters of Abbas and Dahlan. Abbas, as a survivor of the bloody 1947-48 war, has devoted much of his life to achieving some kind of political solution to the conflict with Israel — namely the so-called “two-state solution” with Israel and Palestine existing side by side in peace — a “solution” that can only be described as delusional.

Supporters of Dahlan are generally much more belligerent, and are ready to go to war with Israel. Dahlan and his supporters are in the generations that grew up after the 1947-48, and have no personal memory of its horrors, and so is not afraid to see that war repeated.

The youngest generations of Palestinians, as far as I can tell, are pretty much disgusted with all the Palestinian leadership. This is the so-called “Oslo generation,” kids growing up after the 1993 Oslo accords that were supposed to bring peace to the Mideast, but in fact are perceived as having accomplished nothing. They see the so-called “Mideast peace process” as nothing more than a failed series of humiliations for Palestinians.

There has apparently been one change in the last year. In 2015, there was a spate of knife attacks on Israelis by 15-25 year old boys in the Oslo generation of Palestinians. Those knife attacks have not been in the news in a long time, and so apparently have run their course. Al-Monitor and Israel National News and Middle East Eye

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Hopes again grow for Gaza-West Bank unity government

Ever since Hamas’s stunning victory of Fatah/Palestinian Authority in 2006, which permitted Hamas to eject Fatah from Gaza, the two governments have seemed to hate each other more than they hate Israel.

There have been several attempts to form a “unity government” between the two entities. The most recent attempt followed the 31-day Gaza war between Israel and Hamas, which Israel won. After the war, there was enormous pressure from Arab states for Hamas and Fatah to unify into a single government. The United Nations General Assembly had created the nation “Palestine” in 2012, but it didn’t make sense to have a state of Palestine, if the Palestinians had two separate governments in conflict with each other.

They did form a unity government in June 2014, but it was unity in name only. They never did function as a single government, and Abbas dissolved it in June 2015 over a disagreement about money.

However, hopes have arisen again of a unity government, after Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal said in a speech earlier this month that a reconciliation should be tried:

“It is time we reconsider the organization [Fatah/PA]. … In order to build our lives and political system on democratic foundations, we must be partners in shouldering responsibility and partners in the decision of war and peace. …

The wager on the diplomatic movement on its own has been proven a failure. Let us agree on a national strategy and that everyone is with the [armed] resistance, which is a legitimate right that raises the cost of the occupation.”

The last sentence affirms that Hamas expects to continuing using violence against Israel, to end Israel’s “occupation” of land in the Mideast and Israel’s existence.

There’s good reason to doubt that the West Bank and Gaza Palestinian populations can ever be unified into a single government. The two Palestinian territories have been separated for several decades, and so the two cultures have grown in separate directions. Times of Israel (2-Nov) and Israel National News (26-Apr-2015)

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Fatah, Palestinian Authority, Palestine, West Bank, Mahmoud Abbas, Mohammed Dahlan, Arab quartet, United Arab Emirates, UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Yasser Arafat, Israel, Oslo generation
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