30-Dec-16 World View — Russia and Turkey announce a new ceasefire in Syria

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Russia and Turkey announce a new ceasefire in Syria
  • Damascus Syria is without water after reservoirs were poisoned

Russia and Turkey announce a new ceasefire in Syria

Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan

There have been two major ceasefire announcements so far this years, plus a few smaller ones. None lasted more than a few days.

But Russia and Syria have previously declared that a victory in Aleppo would mean victory in the entire war, and an end to the fighting. The rebel groups would be so decimated, despondent and dispirited that they’d lose the will to fight. So Russia’s president Vladimir Putin had to make good on that promise.

So even though the rebel groups fighting against Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad are nowhere near defeated, Russia and Turkey on Thursday declared that there would be a nationwide ceasefire. Let’s point out a few things.

  • “This time it’s different.” That’s because, this time the U.S. was completely excluded, and the negotiations took place in Moscow rather than Geneva. I guess the Putin decided that it wasn’t that much fun anymore to make a fool of John Kerry again and again. This agreement was reached between Russia, Turkey and Iran.
  • Seven “moderate” rebel militias signed on to the deal, but a number of others did not.
  • There will be no ceasefire for jihadist groups, against whom military action will continue. These include al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front, now Jabhat Fateh al-Sham or JFS), and the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).
  • In September, Bashar al-Assad said with respect to a ceasefire ceasefire deal:

    “We as a nation … are delivering a message that the Syrian state is determined to recover all regions from the terrorists and restore security, infrastructure, and everything else that was destroyed in both human and material aspects.”

    In fact, rebel groups control vast regions of Syria, and al-Assad is left in control of a small part of country mockingly called “Alawite-istan,” named for al-Assad’s ethnic group, Alawite.

  • Al-Assad has signed on to the deal and promised not to target moderate rebel groups or civilians, all of whom al-Assad considers to be “terrorists.” This means that Russia is controlling al-Assad, at least for the time being.
  • Turkey has troops in northern Syria, preventing the Kurds from achieving their goal of taking control of much of northern Syria, creating an independent Kurdish state called “Rojava.” Turkey considers the Syrian Kurds to be a major security threat to Turkey. The Syrian Kurds have not signed on to the deal.

Why would the Syrian rebel groups sign on to the agreement? A representative gave the answer in an interview on RFI on Thursday (my transcription):

“Obviously after Aleppo I think everyone realizes that there is no limit to the level of violence and barbarism that can be exercised against any target, including hospitals and civilians, to reach some object. And therefore if one get that to stop, the military solution should absolutely be stopped.”

In other words, some of the “moderate” rebel groups signed on, but only to stop the bombing.

And that’s the problem with the whole deal. There’s no compelling force behind the ceasefire. It’s all transitory. As soon as any one of a number of factors on the ground changes, the whole ceasefire will unravel, as previous ones have done.

I consider Bashar al-Assad to be the most volatile of the participants. His air force is going to continue bombing al-Nusra and ISIS forces, many of whole will be indistinguishable from the “moderate” rebels that he’s promised not to target. He considers all of these rebels to be like cockroaches to be exterminated, and he seems likely to be unable to control his impulses and target any of them. As soon as another barrel bomb hits a hospital or a marketplace or a hospital, it will be clear that there’s no ceasefire.

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is also very volatile. He used to get along with al-Assad until 2011, when al-Assad’s bombers started targeting innocent women and children, including Palestinians in a refugee camp near Latakia. Erdogan must have had to swallow hard to sign this deal, as he’s watch Syrian and Russian bombers target Turkmens and other ethnic groups related to Turks, as well as Palestinians, whom Erdogan supports.

Iran could be pretty volatile as well. They’re known to be strongly against any Turkish presence in Syria, and Erdogan has no intention of withdrawing from northern Syria. Also, there are pockets of Shias living in regions controlled by rebels, and Iran will feel compelled to protect them.

The only thing that’s really changed on the ground in the last few weeks is that the Russians have taken control of Aleppo. The rest of Syria is still an uncontrolled scattered collection of militias, armies and jihadists of various ethnicities and religious sects.

Peace talks are scheduled to be held within a month in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan, assuming that the ceasefire is still holding. The choice of Kazakhstan makes it clear that this is deal involving Turkey, Russia and Iran, and not including the United States, the United Nations, or the European Union. BBC and Russia Today and Gulf News (Dubai) and Vice News

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Damascus Syria is without water after reservoirs were poisoned

Four million people in Damascus, Syria’s capital city, have been without water for five days after water reservoirs were poisoned with diesel. It’s not clear who was responsible for the poisoning, but it’s believed that the perpetrators are some of the same militias that signed on to the peace agreement on Thursday. However, they claim that they’re not responsible, since they would be harmed more than anyone else.

Despite the ceasefire, Syrian warplanes have been bombing a valley northwest of Damascus to recapture the region that provides most of the water to Damascus. Reuters and Middle East Eye and Russia Today

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Syria, Russia, Turkey, Iran, Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Bashar al-Assad, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, JFS, Front for the Conquest of Syria, Alawite-istan, Rojava, Kazakhstan, Damascus
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The views in this World View article are those of the author, John Xenakis, based on Generational Dynamics analyses of historic and current events, and do not necessarily represent the views of Algora Publishing.

29-Dec-16 World View — China punishes Mongolia for Dalai Lama visit during financial crisis

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Mongolia’s herders faces a ‘dzud’ weather catastrophe
  • China punishes Mongolia for Dalai Lama visit during financial crisis

Mongolia’s herders faces a ‘dzud’ weather catastrophe

During a Mongolian 'dzud', animals starve because they cannot dig through a thick, solid layer of ice to reach food
During a Mongolian ‘dzud’, animals starve because they cannot dig through a thick, solid layer of ice to reach food

An extremely harsh winter in Mongolia is sending temperatures to -50°C (-70°F), causing a humanitarian disaster, and threatening both lives and livelihoods.

Mongolia appears to be headed for another winter “dzud.” The word “dzud” refers to a phenomenon that appears to be somewhat unique to Mongolia.

It usually occurs after a dry summer combines with heavy snowstorms creating an ice crust that makes it difficult for livestock, mostly cows, sheep and goats, to dig through to reach grass. This year, the dry summer in the northeast and late autumn rains means the dzud risk is high. Heavy snowfall from October has refrozen after more heavy snow in November.

A third of Mongolia’s population rely directly on livestock — milk, cheese and meat for food, dung for heating, fur for clothing, and income from selling these items. Over 1.2 million livestock died in last winter’s dzud, leaving tens of thousands of herders in poverty. The worst dzud in memory occurred in 2010, killing 8 million animals. UB Post (Mongolia) and Deutsche Welle

China punishes Mongolia for Dalai Lama visit during financial crisis

In 2011, Mongolia economy grew by an astronomical 17.5%, thanks to its huge reserves of copper, coal and gold, making the economy seem invincible. Instead of saving some of that money, Mongolia borrowed billions of dollars more to invest in huge road and infrastructure projects. Now Mongolia is in a major economic crisis, thanks to reduced purchases by China and falling commodity prices, at a time when it’s being hit hard by a new harsh winter “dzud.”

In the midst of this economic and financial crisis, the Buddhist leader the Dalai Lama visited Mongolia’s capital city Ulaanbaatar in November for a six-day visit. More than half of Mongolia’s population are Buddhist, and tens of thousands of them flocked to see the Dalai Lama, with some traveling hundreds of miles.

China does not like the Dalai Lama, as he is worshipped by millions of Tibetan Buddhists in China. So China punished Mongolia by closing part of the border, leaving hundreds of trucks carrying copper and coal backed up on the highway in sub-zero temperatures.

Mongolian officials quickly saw the error of their ways. Foreign minister Tsend Munkh-Orgil made what is apparently an official apology to China:

“You can understand that during the full term of this government, the Dalai Lama will not be allowed to visit Mongolia even for religious purposes.”

According to a Chinese analyst: “China shall accept Mongolia’s apology because China doesn’t want to create friction in Northeast Asia either, particularly at a time when it is facing tensions with other nations, such as Japan and South Korea.” Shanghaiist and Global Times (Beijing) and Al-Jazeera

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Mongolia, dzud, China, Tibet, Dalai Lama, Tsend Munkh-Orgil
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The views in this World View article are those of the author, John Xenakis, based on Generational Dynamics analyses of historic and current events, and do not necessarily represent the views of Algora Publishing.

28-Dec-16 World View — Bank run worsens Italy’s banking crisis

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Bank run worsens Italy’s banking crisis
  • Following the money, Sao Tome and Principe switches allegiance from Taiwan to China

Bank run worsens Italy’s banking crisis

A horse-drawn carriage passes a branch of Banca Monte dei Paschi bank in Rome.
A horse-drawn carriage passes a branch of Banca Monte dei Paschi bank in Rome.

A week after Italy’s government announced that it would bail out the failing the Banco Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS) bank, with a “bail-in” that would put the life savings of tens of thousands of depositors at risk, the European Central Bank said on Tuesday that MPS’s financial situation is deteriorating far more rapidly than expected.

MPS has €55.2 billion in bad loans. Three weeks ago, MPS said that it had enough funds to stay afloat for 11 months. Then last week, MPS said that it would run out of money within four months.

According to one financial analyst:

“It’s a national tragedy. Monte Paschi survived the Inquisition, the unification of Italy, fascism and two world wars. But it couldn’t survive the mismanagement and corruption of bankers and politicians in the 21st century.”

The government of Italy announced last week that the size of the bailout would be €5 billion, the amount needed to allow MPS to meet its immediate obligations and avoid bankruptcy. However, the ECB said that MPS’s financial position has suffered a “rapid deterioration” during the period from November 30 to December 21, now the €5 billion figure is too small. €8.8 billion will be required to get past the immediate emergency.

It’s believed that the “rapid deterioration” is being caused by run on the bank. It’s known that from June to September of this year, customers removed deposits of €6.7 billion, and it’s believed that this run on deposits is continuing, or even accelerating and spiraling out of control.

ECB rules require that if any government bails out the country’s banks, then a percentage of the bailout must come from the assets of investors who had invested in the shares and bonds issued by the bank. In most countries, that would “bail in” sophisticated investors, who would then “take a haircut.” But Italy has a special problem that many ordinary savers have invested their life savings in bonds, so that would put their life savings at risk. This situation has been the subject of intense public debate in Italy at least since June, and that would explain why depositors have been rushing to move their funds out of the bank.

Italy’s government is looking for a way under ECB rules to avoid having to “bail in” bond holders. Since MPS is still technically solvent, the plan is to take advantage of a loophole in the ECB rules by calling the cash injection a “precautionary recapitalization” rather than a bailout. However, this path limits the amount of money that the government can inject into the bank, so it’s far from clear that it will work.

Jens Weidmann, the president of Deutsche Bundesbank, Germany’s central bank, says that Italy’s bailout plan requires careful scrutiny:

“For the measures planned by the Italian government [to work], the bank must be economically healthy at its core. The money cannot be used to cover losses [that are] already expected. All this must be carefully examined. …

These [rules] aim to protect taxpayers in particular and keep responsibility on investors. Government bailout is only meant to be a last resort, that’s why the bar is high.”

Italy’s rescue plan requires approval by both the EU and the ECB.

Banco Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS) was founded in 1472, and is the world’s oldest operating bank. Seeking Alpha and MarketWatch and Financial Post

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Following the money, Sao Tome and Principe switches allegiance from Taiwan to China

China scored a victory over Taiwan on Monday, when the nation Sao Tome and Principe officially resumed diplomatic relations with China after breaking relations with Taiwan. The former Portuguese colony Sao Tome and Principe is an impoverished island nation off the coast of west-central Africa with a population of almost 200,000.

China will not have diplomatic relations with any nation that has diplomatic relations with Taiwan. There are now about 20 countries that still have diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

It’s often a question of money. China would like Taiwan to be recognized by as few countries as possible, and so China will offer financial aid and investments to a country willing to switch. It sometimes gets into a bidding war, but China is much wealthier and always wins such battles.

Other countries, including The Gambia, Malawi, and Senegal, have in recent years broken off relations with Taiwan, in the hope of enjoying financial largesse from China. China has not always been willing to establish relations with these countries because of a long-standing “diplomatic truce” between China and Taiwan, designed to prevent countries from playing China and Taiwan against each other. However, China abandoned the diplomatic truce after this year’s election as president of Tsai Ing-wen, who is lukewarm to the “One-China Policy” that makes Taiwan a province of China.

The United States officially recognizes the One-China Policy and does not officially recognize Taiwan, but has a close relationship with Taiwan anyway. President-elect Donald Trump has said that he’ll review the US position.

It’s not just China who is playing this diplomatic game. After Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, it declared two Georgia territories, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, to be independent nations until Moscow’s protection. Only five countries sided with Russia in recognizing at least one of the two territories as independent. In 2011, Tuvalu recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia in return for “promising areas for bilateral cooperation [with Russia], including trade, fisheries and education.” However, Tuvalu switched sides in 2013, for a reason that was not explained. Med Africa Times (Switzerland) and China Post (Taiwan) and New Republic (2-Apr-2014)

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Italy, Banco Monte dei Paschi di Siena, MPS, European Central Bank, ECB, Jens Weidmann, Deutsche Bundesbank, China, Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, One-China policy, Sao Tome and Principe, The Gambia, Malawi, Senegal, Russia, Georgia, South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Tuvalu
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The views in this World View article are those of the author, John Xenakis, based on Generational Dynamics analyses of historic and current events, and do not necessarily represent the views of Algora Publishing.

27-Dec-16 World View — Furious Israel retaliates against UN for condemning West Bank settlements

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Palestinians declare a defeat for the forces of darkness
  • Statements by diplomats show they live in fantasyland
  • Israel’s Netanyahu orders retaliation against the United Nations

Palestinians declare a defeat for the forces of darkness

When Netanyahu and Obama met in Washington on May 20 2011, it didn't go too well.
When Netanyahu and Obama met in Washington on May 20 2011, it didn’t go too well.

The United States Security Council on Friday passed Resolution 2334, which says that Israel’s West Bank settlements constitute “flagrant violation of international law.” Similar resolutions in the passed have failed because of a United States veto, but in a major reversal of policy by the Barack Obama administration, the United States abstained on Friday’s vote, allowing the resolution to pass.

The Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, interviewed on the BBC, was ebullient, and said that the resolution was a major victory for Palestinians and the “two-state solution, and a defeat for the forces of darkness (my transcription):

“This is a day for peace. This is a day for hope. This is a day when the international community stood tall. To tell the Palestinians and Israelis that peace is possible. Through the establishment of a two-state where the state of Palestine can live side by side with the state of Israel in peace and security on the 1967 line.

This is a day where the international community unanimously have told the Israeli government stop the settlements. Stop the dictation. Stop the occupation. This is a day when the international community have told the Israeli people if you want to live in peace and security, it’s not going to be through dictation and occupation and settlements. It’s going to be through fairness, through neighborly relations, through the freedom of the Palestinian people, through international law. I hope this clearcut message to the Israeli government will be understood. I think that this is a major defeat for the forces of darkness and extremism and dictation. [Inaudible] for Palestinians and Israelis in peace. So today, it’s really a day of hope not only for Palestinians and Israelis, but for the whole region as a whole, for the people of this region as a whole.”

Resolution 2334 contains the following text:

“Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and reaffirming, inter alia, the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force,

Reaffirming the obligation of Israel, the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by its legal obligations and responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention …,

Condemning all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, including, inter alia, the construction and expansion of settlements, transfer of Israeli settlers, confiscation of land, demolition of homes and displacement of Palestinian civilians, in violation of international humanitarian law and relevant resolutions,

Expressing grave concern that continuing Israeli settlement activities are dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-State solution based on the 1967 lines …

1. Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;

2. Reiterates its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard. …”

In another interview, Saeb Erekat said that the Palestinians will pull membership in the United States for the State of Palestine. United Nations and WAFA (Palestine News & Information Agency)

Statements by diplomats show they live in fantasyland

One can’t help but laugh at the statement by Saeb Erekat quoted above, and his victory over the forces of darkness, but statements by other diplomats were equally idiotic.

The problem is this “two-state solution” fantasy. The very first Generational Dynamics prediction that I wrote was in May 2003, when President George Bush announced his “Mideast Roadmap to Peace.” President Bush called for a Palestinian State by 2005, to live in peace and security side by side with Israel. It provided a series of steps for both sides to follow, mostly having to do with eliminating violence against both Palestinian and Israeli civilians.

As I wrote at that time, the Jews and Arabs were headed not for a two-state solution, but for a full-scale war, as the generations of survivors of the 1949 war that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel died off. Since I wrote that analysis, there are certainly no signs of a two-state solution, as there have been numerous Mideast wars in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Gaza and Libya, with skirmishes in other countries. The Mideast is still headed for full-scale war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see all that. Talking about a two-state solution today is nothing more than political posturing in order to gain power and votes. Any politician who actually believes what he’s saying is living in fantasyland.

Here’s what Samantha Power, US Ambassador to the UN, said after the Security Council vote:

“One cannot simultaneously champion Israeli settlements and champion a viable two-state solution that would end the conflict. One has to make a choice between settlements and separation. In 2011, the United States vetoed a resolution that focused exclusively on settlements, as if settlements were the only factor harming the prospects of a two-state solution. The circumstances have changed dramatically. Since 2011, settlement growth has only accelerated. Since 2011, multiple efforts to pursue peace through negotiations have failed. And since 2011, president Obama and secretary Kerry have repeatedly warned publicly and privately that the absences of progress toward peace and continued settlement expansion was going to put the two-state solution at risk and threaten Israel’s stated objective to remain both a Jewish state and a democracy.”

This statement, which attempts to explain the Obama administration’s complete reversal of policy, makes no sense at all. There are no prospects for a two-state solution, or Power would have been more specific. Instead, Power uses her statement to blame, by implication, Israel for the failure of the two-state solution.

Even under the most benign interpretation of Obama’s policy reversal, I cannot see how it improves chances for any peaceful solution, or for how it benefits the Israelis, the Palestinians, the UN, or anyone else. Under any reasonable interpretations, all of those groups are hurt by the policy reversal.

It was clear from the start that this policy reversal would have consequences that would have to be dealt with. If Obama had made the policy reversal a year or two ago, then he would have had to deal with the consequences, and Power’s statement might be more credible. Instead, Obama waited until three weeks before leaving office, so that other people will have to deal with the consequences, while he sits on the sidelines and probably provides commentary.

Barack Obama and Israel’s president Benjamin Netanyahu have always had a visceral dislike for each other. President Obama comes from an activist community of black leaders many of whom are openly anti-Semitic (google the words “anti-semitic black leaders” for plenty of examples). This doesn’t mean that Obama himself is anti-Semitic, but the company he keeps certainly inflames the situation. Netanyahu has returned the favor by being openly hostile to Obama, including open support for Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election. So it’s possible that Obama may simply have been looking for a way to get revenge against Netanyahu before leaving office.

Anti-Semitism has always been prevalent in America, as I wrote in 2006. In the Catholic Church, it was official policy for centuries that Jews were responsible for the murder of Jesus Christ, and that all Jews must be punished for it. A Papal bull issued by Pope Paul IV on July 14, 1555, began:

“As it is completely absurd and improper in the utmost that the Jews, who through their own fault were condemned by God to eternal servitude, can under the pretext that pious Christians must accept them and sustain their habitation, are so ungrateful to Christians, as, instead of thanks for gracious treatment, they return contumely, and among themselves, instead of the slavery, which they deserve, they manage to claim superiority.”

This teaching, which goes on to justify forcing Jews to live in ghettos, was never withdrawn and was certainly known to Hitler. It was only reversed on April 13, 1986, when Pope John Paul II gave a major speech at the Great Synagogue of Rome.

In this generational Crisis period, it appears that anti-Semitism is reviving, just as all forms of racism, xenophobia and nationalism are increasing in countries around the world. This is undoubtedly part of the scenario that will lead the Mideast to full-scale war as described above.

Dennis Ross, a Mideast diplomat who served under both Presidents Clinton and Bush, said in a BBC interview that the UN Security Council resolution was the wrong way to go (my transcription):

The language in the resolution equates all settlement activity beyond the June 4 1967 lines, and yet the position of the US as stated by the president in the two speeches he gave in 2011 was that the final border should be determined by settlement blocks and swaps. …

What I’m suggesting – if you turn this into a legal question, then you’re not going to find a simple way, or any way, of actually resolving this through negotiations. When you turn this conflict into a legal conflict, when in fact it is a historic conflict between two national movements, then you move away from being able to come up with compromises that would be able to resolve the issues. I think what we want to do is find a way to have negotiations, not find a way try to try to impose things from an international perspective, meaning from a UN perspective, or even from a legal
perspective, because that isn’t going to produce an outcome.”

Of all the statements from politicians that I heard, this is probably the closest to making sense. None of the politicians that I heard who praised the UNSC resolution explained how the resolution in any way promoted peace. Ross’s statement that it’s a “historic conflict between two national movement” comes closest to the Generational Dynamics analysis.

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Israel’s Netanyahu orders retaliation against the United Nations

After the UNSC vote, a furious Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered that steps be taken to respond:

“I share ministers’ feelings, anger and frustration vis-à-vis the unbalanced resolution that is very hostile to the State of Israel, and which the [UN] Security Council passed in an unworthy manner. From the information that we have, we have no doubt that the Obama administration initiated it, stood behind it, coordinated on the wording and demanded that it be passed.”

Reports indicate that Israel has suspended working ties with 12 of the Security Council countries that supported the resolution: Britain, France, Russia, China, Japan, Ukraine, Angola, Egypt, Uruguay, Spain, Senegal and New Zealand.

Even if these suspensions are only temporary, what this shows is that this reversal of US policy has not only harmed the Palestinians and Israels, it’s harmed the United Nations itself. Israeli Prime Minister and The Hill and Jerusalem Post

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, UN Security Council, Resolution 2334, Saeb Erekat, Palestinians, Mideast Roadmap to Peace, Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, Samantha Power
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The views in this World View article are those of the author, John Xenakis, based on Generational Dynamics analyses of historic and current events, and do not necessarily represent the views of Algora Publishing.

26-Dec-16 World View — Greece calls its European lenders ‘Ebenezer Scrooge’ from A Christmas Carol

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Greece evokes Dickens’ Christmas Carol, calling its lenders ‘Ebenezer Scrooge’
  • European lenders relent and unblock the frozen bailout loan

Greece evokes Dickens’ Christmas Carol, calling its lenders ‘Ebenezer Scrooge’

Ebenezer Scrooge meets Jacob Marley's ghost -- by John Leech, from the 1843 edition of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.  Greece used this picture to accuse European officials of being Scrooges. (Gutenberg)
Ebenezer Scrooge meets Jacob Marley’s ghost — by John Leech, from the 1843 edition of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Greece used this picture to accuse European officials of being Scrooges. (Gutenberg)

Greece’s finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos has sent a Christmas card to journalists, apparently mocking Greece’s bailout lenders, and accusing them of being as stingy and hard-hearted as Ebenezer Scrooge in the 1843 book A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

Greece’s Christmas card displays the picture shown above of Ebenezer Scrooge meeting the ghost of his dead partner Jacob Marley. The picture was an illustration by John Leech in the original 1843 edition. The picture in Tsakalotos’s card was accompanied by the following caption:

“Perhaps in all of our Christmas tales there is a terrifying character like Ebenezer who receives the season’s spirit in an immense solitude, and closed like an oyster. And maybe our Christmas tale is no exception.

But, dear friends and colleagues, our wishes go beyond all the Ebenezers of this world. We don’t give up on our wishes.”

Greece is undoubtedly alluding to the decision by Greece’s creditors to cancel a planned bailout loan, after Greece’s prime minister Alexis Tsipras announced new social spending — a one-time pre-Christmas bonus to poor pensioners, and a reduction in taxes for Greece’s Aegean Sea islands whose tourist industry had suffered because of the refugee crisis. Greece needs the bailout loan to meet its debts and avoid bankruptcy.

Charles Dickens describes Ebenezer Scrooge as follows:

“Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog-days; and didn’t thaw it one degree at Christmas.

External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. No warmth could warm, no wintry weather chill him. No wind that blew was bitterer than he, no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty. Foul weather didn’t know where to have him. The heaviest rain, and snow, and hail, and sleet, could boast of the advantage over him in only one respect. They often “came down” handsomely, and Scrooge never did.

Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say, with gladsome looks, “My dear Scrooge, how are you? When will you come to see me?” No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle, no children asked him what it was o’clock, no man or woman ever once in all his life inquired the way to such and such a place, of Scrooge. Even the blind men’s dogs appeared to know him; and when they saw him coming on, would tug their owners into doorways and up courts; and then would wag their tails as though they said, “No eye at all is better than an evil eye, dark master!”

But what did Scrooge care! It was the very thing he liked. To edge his way along the crowded paths of life, warning all human sympathy to keep its distance, was what the knowing ones call “nuts” to Scrooge.”

So that’s what Alexis Tsipras and other Greek ministers think of Greece’s creditors. Tsipras may particularly be thinking of Germany’s cranky finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble, who would undoubtedly be quite effective playing the part of Scrooge in a new production of A Christmas Carol.

In 1843, an elderly man like Scrooge would have been of the same generational archetype of today’s Silent Generation, the generation that grew up during World War II.

Scrooge would have grown up during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. Many people in Scrooge’s generation had died in wars or in poverty. Dickens talks about prisons, Union workhouses, the Treadmill and the Poor Law. London’s Panic of 1825 had been financially devastating.

In Dickens’ story, the three ghosts that visit him convince him to forget all that, and start being generous with his time and money. Tsipras is hoping the Schäuble and Europe’s other finance ministers turn out the same way. Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, 1843 edition (Gutenberg) and Kathimerini and Deutsche Welle and AFP

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European lenders relent and unblock the frozen bailout loan

There’s no word about whether Greece’s Christmas card played any part in the European officials’ Christmas eve change of heart, but Dutch Finance Minister and Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem said on Saturday that negotiations would restart for the debt bailout loan to be unfrozen in January.

The softening the Eurogroup’s hearts came about not because of visits by three ghosts, but because Greece’s finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos had sent a letter saying that the pension bonus was a one-time thing, and reaffirming the government’s commit to financial reforms. According to Eurogroup officials and Dijsselbloem:

“We have received a letter by the Greek authorities in response to the concerns raised by the institutions as well as the Euro Working Group on the recently legislated fiscal measures.

We have been reassured by the accompanying assessment of the institutions indicating that their initial significant concerns, both on process and on substance, are alleviated by this letter as regards MoU commitments, especially regarding pension. …

I’m happy to conclude that we have cleared the way … to go ahead with the decision-making procedures for the short-term debt measures, which will be conducted in January.”

As Scrooge said to Bob Cratchit:

“A merry Christmas, Bob! A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you, for many a year! I’ll raise your salary, and endeavor to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob! Make up the fires, and buy another coal-scuttle before you dot another i, Bob Cratchit!”

And so, as Tiny Tim observed, “God bless Us, Every One!” Reuters and Reuters

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, John Leech, Ebenezer Scrooge, Jacob Marley, Greece, Euclid Tsakalotos, Alexis Tsipras, Wolfgang Schäuble, Eurogroup, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim
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25-Dec-16 World View — Tunisia fears more terrorism after Berlin attack by Tunisian national

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Bartella Iraq celebrates Christmas after liberation from ISIS
  • Tunisia arrests three people over the Berlin terror attack
  • Hundreds of Tunisians rally against jihadism at Bardo Museum in Tunis

Bartella Iraq celebrates Christmas after liberation from ISIS

Christmas eve mass held in Bartella on Saturday (Agora Magazine)
Christmas eve mass held in Bartella on Saturday (Agora Magazine)

Christians from around the region are flocking to Bartella, Iraq, to join in the celebration of Christmas, the first since Bartella was liberated.

Bartella, just 24 km from Mosul, used to be home to thousands of Assyrian Christians. They were forced to flee in August 2014, when the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) overran Mosul and neighboring villages. Bartella was liberated from ISIS two months ago, on October 20, by the Iraqi army operation to recapture Mosul. Rudaw (Iraq, Kurdistan) and Agora Magazine (Italy)

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Tunisia arrests three people over the Berlin terror attack

After Anis Amri, the 24 year old perpetrator of Monday’s terror attack in Berlin, killing 12 people and injuring dozens by ramming a large, hijacked truck into a crowd at a Christmas market, was shot to death in Milan Italy by police on Friday, there have been hundreds of investigators all over Europe trying to determine whether Amri had help from other jihadists.

Amri himself was a Tunisian national who sought asylum in several European country, including Germany, but was refused. He had a criminal record in Italy and Tunisia, and spent four years in an Italian prison before traveling to Germany.

Tunisian authorities have arrested three people on suspicion of being part of a “terrorist cell… connected to the terrorist Anis Amri.” Two of the three were arrested in the capital city Tunis.

The third arrest was Amri’s own 18-year-old nephew, Fedi, his sister’s son, arrested in Amri’s home town of Oueslatia. During initial questioning, Fedi said that he had been in contact with uncle Anis through the mobile app Telegram, which provides for encrypted communications that can’t be traced. He also said that uncle Anis had sent him money to come to Germany, and asked him to pledge allegiance to ISIS. Sky News and AP

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Hundreds of Tunisians rally against jihadism at Bardo Museum in Tunis

Hundreds of people rallied at the Bardo Museum in Tunis, Tunisia’s capital city, on Saturday, protesting the lack of government action to prevent jihadists who fought overseas from returning to the country without facing punishment.

The news that Anis Amri, a Tunisian, was the perpetrator of last week’s terror act in Berlin has embarrassed and infuriated the Tunisian people.

Tunisians are proud that their country launched the “Arab Spring” that began in 2011, and the resulting transition of power was largely peaceful. The Arab Spring uprisings were triggered on December 17, 2010, when a street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi set fire to himself in Sidi Bouzid in central Tunisia, in protest of the police confiscation of his vegetable cart. After days of clashes between protesters and the police, long-time dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was forced to flee the country to exile in Saudi Arabia.

However, that peaceful transition has come at a price. Since its 2011 revolution, Tunisia has faced repeated jihadist attacks, killing more than 100 soldiers and policemen, as well as about 20 civilians and 59 foreign tourists, according to official figures.

In March of last year, two terrorist gunmen infiltrated security at the well-known Bardo Museum in Tunis, right next door to the parliament building. They took and killed 22 hostages, with 50 people injured. Almost all of the casualties were foreign tourists.

Tunisians were still in shock from that attack, when another attack occurred in June. A gunman disguised as a tourist opened fire at a Tunisian hotel in Sousse on Friday, killing 37 people.

Perhaps the most significant fact about Tunisia is that it’s been the number one source of foreign fighters who have gone to Syria to join ISIS. Some 5,500 Tunisian citizens have left the country and are now fighting in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and to a lesser extent Mali, far more than the citizens of any other country.

It’s believed that about 800 of these jihadists have returned to Tunisia in the last year. It’s always been feared that Tunisian nationals returning would form terror cells in Tunisia and conduct more terror attacks, like the ones that have occurred frequently since 2011, but the actions of a Tunisian national in the Berlin attack has heightened those fears and created new anxieties. In fact, with ISIS losing territory in Syria, Iraq and Libya, it’s feared that these jihadists are going to be flooding back into the country.

The purpose of Saturday’s rally was to demand that further action be taken. In particular, they demanded that the government to bring home all Tunisian nationals living abroad who have links to extremist organizations, so they could face trial in their home country. Deutsche Welle and ITV

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Bartella, Iraq, Mosul, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Germany, Berlin, Anis Amri, Fedi, Tunisia, Milan, Italy, Oueslatia, Tunis, Bardo Museum, Mohamed Bouazizi, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Sousse, Syria, Iraq, Libya
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24-Dec-16 World View — South Sudan increasingly parallels Syria in genocidal violence

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • UN Security Council fails to impose arms embargo on South Sudan
  • Leaders of South Sudan and Syria following parallel paths to genocide

UN Security Council fails to impose arms embargo on South Sudan

UN peacekeeping forces in South Sudan (AP)
UN peacekeeping forces in South Sudan (AP)

Humanitarian organizations are expressing outrage as the United Nations Security Council failed on Friday to pass a US-sponsored resolution to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan and placed a travel ban and asset freeze on three senior South Sudanese leaders.

According to the UNSC rules, for the resolution to pass it would have required 9 of the 15 members to vote in favor, and none of the 5 permanent members (US, UK, Russia, China, France) to veto it. As it turned out, those who opposed the measure needed only to abstain, since there were not 9 votes available to pass it. Japan, Russia, China, Angola, Malaysia, Venezuela, Egypt and Senegal all abstained.

South Sudan is the world’s youngest nation, having gained independence from Sudan in 2011. The region’s last generational crisis war was an ethnic war mainly between two tribes, the Nuer and the Dinka. That war climaxed with the “Bor Massacre,” which began on November 15, 1991. The Nuer army marched toward the provincial capital Bor and massacred the people of the Dinka tribe. Over the next three months, 2,000 civilians were killed, thousands more wounded, and at least 100,000 people fled the area. Famine followed the massacre, as looters burnt villages and raided cattle, resulting in the deaths of 25,000 more from starvation.

A new conflict began on December 15, 2013, led by the president Salva Kiir, of the Dinka tribe, fighting against forces led by vice president Riek Machar, of the Nuer tribe. Kiir and Machar signed a peace agreement in August 2015, but that did little good.

Human Rights Watch is expressing outrage that the UNSC resolution failed to pass. According to HRW, both sides have been importing weapons and using them to fight the other side. HRW says that African Union and UN investigators have documented war crimes, including killings and rape of civilians, and forced recruitment of children by the warring parties in South Sudan. In the last few months there has been an increase in incitement to violence, hate speech by senior leaders, and targeting of civilians, sometimes based on ethnicity.

United Nations officials had been calling for the arms embargo and also an injection of peacekeeping forces, saying that South Sudan is getting closer and closer to a “Rwanda-like genocide.” However, they’ve been saying that for months, and no Rwanda-like genocide has occurred, largely because South Sudan is in a generational Awakening era. not in a Crisis era, which would be required for a Rwanda-like genocide to occur.

Earlier this year, the Security Council adopted a resolution authorizing 4,000 troops from African nations to join 12,000 U.N. peacekeeping forces there. However, South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir rejected the peacekeeping troops to enter the country, saying that he would fight them as if they were an invading army. Those peacekeepers who did serve in South Sudan were withdrawn in the summer, after they were accused of failing to protect civilians from rape and sexual violence.

As an aside, you may wonder why decades of international aid to Africa has failed to have any effect whatsoever on poverty. The situation in South Sudan provides a good illustration of what happens. Usually the international aid goes into foreign bank accounts of leaders, but otherwise it’s spent on weapons to kill, rape and torture people opposing the leaders. Reuters and Human Rights Watch and NPR (11-Nov)

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Leaders of South Sudan and Syria following parallel paths to genocide

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Syria and South Sudan are in very similar generational eras, with leaders who are behaving in similar ways.

South Sudan’s last generational crisis war was an ethnic civil war between the Dinka versus the Nuer tribes, climaxing with the Bor Massacre in November, 1991, as described above. The Bor Massacre stands as a defining moment in the history of South Sudan. It was so shocking that it largely ended the war.

Syria’s last generational crisis war was a religious/ethnic civil war between the Shia Alawites versus the Sunnis. That war climaxed in February 1982 with the destruction of the town of Hama. There had been a massive uprising of the 400,000 mostly Sunni citizens of Hama against Syria’s Shia/Alawite president Hafez al-Assad, the current president’s father. He turned the town to rubble and killed or displaced hundreds of thousands. Hama stands as a defining moment in the Middle East. It was so shocking that it largely ended the war.

So both Syria and South Sudan today are in generational Awakening eras, as the first generation of children growing up after the previous crisis civil war come of age. These children did not personally experience the wars, but they listened to stories of how the other side committed massacres and rapes while their fathers were heroes who endured despite those atrocities. The children never hear about how their fathers also committed atrocities and rapes.

Another parallel between Syria and South Sudan is that the wars depend on outside intervention, almost to the point of being a proxy war. In South Sudan, Kiir is receiving military aid from Uganda, while Machar is receiving military aid from (northern) Sudan. In Syria, Bashar al-Assad is receiving military aid from Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah, while different opposition groups are receiving military aid from Turkey and from Salafist groups in Saudi Arabia.

From a theoretical point of view, when a country goes through a civil war that’s also a generational crisis war, then as the first post-war generation grows up, the leaders become increasingly oppressive and violent towards peaceful opponents (usually a different religious or ethnic group), and use as an excuse the claim that they might start another civil war (which is almost impossible during a generational Awakening era). This is a generational pattern that’s followed over and over, in country after country, throughout history.

What we’re seeing in both Syria and South Sudan is a familiar pattern that I’ve described many times in countries like Burundi, Thailand, and Zimbabwe, starting 5-15 years after the climax of a generational ethnic crisis war. The leadership in the country, which represents one ethnic tribe or group, decides that in order to prevent a new civil war, it’s necessary to impose “security” by having the security forces commit atrocities against the other ethnic group.

There’s a wide spectrum of violence of this type. In Thailand, there’s been sporadic violence by the army, backing the “yellow shirt” market-dominant light-skinned Thai-Chinese elite minority against the the “red shirt” dark-skinned Thai-Thai indigenous ethnics, but so far the violence hasn’t been too serious.

In South Sudan, possibly the biggest driver of the war is not ethnic differences but oil. South Sudan has a wealth of oil, and all the warring parties would like to control as much of that oil as they can. A particularly interesting example of this is China, which is heavily invested in South Sudan and is supporting Salva Kiir. Chinese officials scream bloody murder when anyone complains about their massacring of Tibetans, saying that no one has the right to interfere in their internal affairs, but China has no hesitation to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs when their own interests are a stake.

Another parallel between Syria and South Sudan is that as genocide by the countries’ leaders continues right under the noses of everyone in the world, the United Nations is powerless to do anything about it because the two nations that fully support massacres, rapes, genocides and other atrocities are Russia and China, and they have veto power in the UN Security Council.

In Syria and South Sudan, in contrast to Thailand, the violence is reaching the highest levels, approaching full-scale genocide. What makes this difference from a crisis civil war is that in the latter case, the violence is “organic”, in that it comes from the people and cannot be stopped. In the case of Awakening era genocide, the violence could be stopped simply if the leader stopped massacring the opposition tribes, or if outside countries would stop supporting the genocidal acts. NPR and Sudan Tribune and Al Jazeera

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, South Sudan, Dinka, Nuer, Bor Massacre, Salva Kiir, Riek Machar, Syria, Bashar al-Assad, Russia, China
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23-Dec-16 World View — Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin both call for nuclear weapons increase

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin both call for nuclear weapons increase
  • Germany criticized for too few CCTV cameras, and Britain for too many

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin both call for nuclear weapons increase

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin pointing, earlier this year
Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin pointing, earlier this year

President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday tweeted that the United States should increase its nuclear missile arsenal:

“The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”

Several hours earlier, Russia’s present Vladimir Putin had made a similar call for Russia:

“We need to strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces, especially with missile complexes that can reliably penetrate any existing and prospective missile defense systems.

We must carefully monitor any changes in the balance of power and in the political-military situation in the world, especially along Russian borders, and quickly adapt plans for neutralizing threats to our country.”

US State Dept. John Kirby responded to a question of Trump’s tweet:

QUESTION: “During the campaign there was a lot of discussion, especially from the Clinton side, about how Mr. Trump didn’t have the temperament to handle the nuclear weapons arsenal, that he was unpredictable and impulsive. Is this – does this kind of tweet, especially coming a few hours after Mr. Putin said something similar without any kind of policy statement or thinking to back it up – does that reinforce concerns that he might not be a steady hand?”

KIRBY: “Not for me to say, Barbara. I can’t speak for what – the president-elect’s nuclear views or his policy going forward. That’s for his and his team to speak to. What I can speak to is the approach that this Administration has taken to trying to get us on a path to a world without nuclear weapons.”

This is a particularly laughable and moronic statement.

As long-time readers are aware, Generational Dynamics predicts that the US and Russia will be allies in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war. Russia will be allied with India and the United States, while China will be allied with Pakistan and China and the Sunni states. Iran will also be allied with India and Russia, as Shia Muslims and Hindus have been allied against Sunni Muslims at least as far back as the Battle of Karbala.

As I’ve been describing for many years, China is engaging in a massive military buildup, developing multiple new nuclear weapons systems with the purpose of destroying American cities, military bases, and aircraft carriers. According to a Pentagon report issued in May of this year, China has been on a weapons binge, with quality improving even faster than quantity. Although the US military was confident in the past that it could successfully defend against a Chinese attack, the report suggested that China’s military is at a tipping point, where it could overwhelm American defense forces.

Russia’s officials must also be getting alarmed by the massive buildup in weapons by its historic enemy, China. Thus, Thursday’s statements by Putin and Trump should be viewed not as presenting a danger of nuclear war between Russia and the US, but as a sign that the both the US and Russia are moving to protect themselves from the inevitable preemptive nuclear missile attack by China. AFP and AP and State Dept. and NBC News

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Germany criticized for too few CCTV cameras, and Britain for too many

German police have announced that the perpetrator of Monday’s truck-ramming attack on a market in Berlin was Anis Amri, 24, a Tunisian asylum seeker who arrived in Germany last year. Amri has a criminal record in Italy and Tunisia, spent four years in an Italian prison. It took many hours for the police to figure out what happened, allowing Amri to be able to escape. There is now a major manhunt across Europe for Amri.

Many analysts are astonished that Berlin police have been unable to produce any CCTV (closed-circuit TV) footage that recorded the event, and that the police have to depend on asking the public for any available mobile phone footage.

Privacy laws are very strict in Germany, and Germans are particularly sensitive of state surveillance by any means, because of their collective memories of state surveillance by the Stasi secret policy in Communist East Germany and by the Gestapo in the Nazi era. So Berlin in particular is almost barren of CCTV cameras. According to the Berlin police union chief, “We would know a lot more about the perpetrator by now if we had been allowed to install video cameras.” If cameras had captured the event, then Amri might have been identified much more quickly, before he had a chance to escape.

There’s a particular irony to this situation, in that the EU just gave Britain one more reason for Brexit. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) on Wednesday struck down a UK’s surveillance laws on the grounds that they violate the EU’s privacy laws. The ruling did not specifically apply to CCTV, but it said that e-mail and internet records from the general public had to be destroyed within a year.

Undoubtedly, all of these privacy laws will be debated again, to balance privacy against public safety. However, it’s worth noting that technology is improving rapidly to the point where it will be possible for the police to identify each person in CCTV footage, and use that information to track every person’s movements on a daily basis. Daily Mail (London) and Telegraph (London) and International Business Times

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Donald Trump, Russia, Vladimir Putin, China, CCTV, Germany, Berlin, Anis Amri, Britain, European Court of Justice, ECJ
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22-Dec-16 World View — Italy announces bank bailout that will ‘bail in’ ordinary depositors

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Italy announces bank bailout that will ‘bail in’ ordinary depositors
  • European officials refuse to unblock the next bailout loan to Greece

Italy announces bank bailout that will ‘bail in’ ordinary depositors

The Banco Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), established 1472, the world's oldest operating bank
The Banco Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), established 1472, the world’s oldest operating bank

Italy’s parliament on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a €20 billion bailout package for the country’s banks, particularly the famous Banco Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), founded in 1472, and the world’s oldest operating bank, which is close to collapse because it has $55.2 billion of bad loans on its book.

MPS has been trying various desperate measures to bail itself out by borrowing money from international investors, including the Qatar Investment Authority, but those attempts have failed. MPS said on Wednesday that it would run out of money within four months. Last week, MPS said that it had enough money to last 11 months.

It’s not clear how much of the €20 billion bailout that MPS will get, since the money is intended as a bailout fund for all of Italy’s banks. Italy’s banks hold a total of about $383 billion in non-performing loans, which is about one-third of the total for the entire eurozone. So the bailout amount is nowhere near enough to save Italy’s banking system.

The new law authorizing a bailout would seem like a good idea, but it actually has the potential to be politically disastrous. This has to do with new rules that the European Central Bank (ECB) introduced in the last year, saying that if a country’s government bailed out a bank, then the investors (e.g., holders of the banks stocks and bonds) would have to be “bailed in” — meaning that they would “take a haircut” and lose a percentage of their investments.

Usually, anyone who invested in the stocks and bonds issued by a bank would have to be considered a “sophisticated investor.” But Italy’s banks are unique in that thousands of ordinary people, including many elderly savers, who wanted to deposit their money in savings accounts instead were sold bank bonds by the bank’s staff. The result is that a “bail-in” of supposedly sophisticated investors will actually cause tens of thousands of people to lose their life savings.

It’s thought the bailout of MPS will occur next week, before the end of 2016, and then we should have an idea of how many depositors are going to lost money. Some Italian politicians are claiming that they’ll find a way to protect ordinary people’s savings accounts, but whether that’s even possible under ECB rules remains to be seen. Deutsche Welle and Guardian (London) and International Business Times

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European officials refuse to unblock the next bailout loan to Greece

On December 5, Greece’s creditors reached an agreement to a new bailout loan. However, once the agreement was reached, Greece’s prime minister Alexis Tsipras suddenly announced new social spending — a one-time pre-Christmas bonus to poor pensioners, and a reduction in taxes for Greece’s Aegean Sea islands whose tourist industry had suffered because of the refugee crisis.

This caused European officials to block the new bailout loan, and on Wednesday the Euro Working Group (EWB) announced that it had not been able to reach agreement to unblock the bailout. The countries that wanted to block further aid included Austria, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia, Finland and Germany. Greek Reporter and Kathimerini

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Italy, Banco Monte dei Paschi di Siena, MPS, Qatar Investment Authority, European Central Bank, ECB, Greece, Alexis Tsipris, Euro Working Group, EWB
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21-Dec-16 World View — Russia, Turkey scramble to mend relations by blaming US for assassination

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Man who shot Russia’s ambassador in Turkey was in security forces
  • Turkey and Russia blame Fethullah Gulen and the US for the assassination
  • Both Turkey and Russia stand to gain by blaming US for assassination

Man who shot Russia’s ambassador in Turkey was in security forces

Foreign ministers of Iran, Russia and Turkey meet in Moscow to discuss a Syria peace plan.  The U.S. was not invited
Foreign ministers of Iran, Russia and Turkey meet in Moscow to discuss a Syria peace plan. The U.S. was not invited

Turkey’s police have arrested six relatives of Mevlut Mert Altintas, the 22 year old who shot Andrey Karlov, Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, in Ankara on Monday.

Little information about Altintas has been released. He was born in western Turkey on the Aegean Sea, and has been working as a policeman for 2-1/2 years.

He used his police badge on Monday to gain access to the art exhibit where Karlov would be speaking, and to avoid having to go through a security X-ray device. He took his place and stood behind Karlov as part of Karlov’s security detail. After Karlov had been speaking for a few minutes, Altintas pulled a gun from his coat pocket and shot Karlov dead. Anadolu (Ankara) and Reuters and Hurriyet (Ankara)

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Turkey and Russia blame Fethullah Gulen and the US for the assassination

I’ve always considered it somewhat fanciful that Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed the aborted July 15 coup attempt on a 76-year-old political enemy living in the Pocono Mountains in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, as if Fethullah Gulen had directed the coup himself from his easy chair.

Erdogan has repeatedly asked the Obama administration to extradite Gulen back to Turkey, charging him as being the leader of what Turkey calls the Fetullah Terror Organization (FETO). Last month, Erdogan said:

“I was disillusioned, because I would expect this? I served both as a prime minister and president in this country and whenever the U.S. requested extradition of those kinds of terrorists I handed them over. Obama also should have done it and handed that man to us.”

The Justice Department has said that they would be happen to extradite Gulen to Turkey, provided that Turkey provides evidence satisfactory to an American court of law that Gulen was really involved in the coup. The administration says that it has not received such evidence.

There are other problems with automatically blaming Gulen.

Gulen is a Muslim cleric with a worldwide network of schools and businesses, run by his followers. For Erdogan, this worldwide network was for many years a good thing, a sign of a progressive Turkey, fighting extremism, and providing education and jobs. But relations between Erdogan and Gulen started to sour in 2012, and were severed completely in 2013. Since then, this huge international network has turned in Erdogan’s eyes from a good thing to a bad thing, promoting terrorism instead of fighting extremism.

This sudden change in Erdogan’s view of Gulen has caused confusion, and raised suspicion that the issues are more political than otherwise. And so there’s a great deal of skepticism when Turkey is not able to provide any credible proof of Gulen’s involvement in the July 15 coup.

However, the continued presence of Gulen in the United States provides a convenient target for Erdogan’s blame and mockery. Whenever there’s a domestic problem, Erdogan can just blame it on Gulen and the United States. Both Erdogan and Russia are increasingly blaming Monday’s assassination of Russia’s ambassador on the US.

Ilnur Cevik is an advisor to Erdogan. He says that the US and Germany are responsible for lots of things:

“Growing relations and intensive cooperation in all areas between Turkey and Russia has created anger in the West, especially in the United States and Germany. The latest example has been the joint efforts of the two countries to save the civilian people of Aleppo. It was inevitable that the West would try to sabotage these relations. It is sad that they used a policeman affiliated to Fethullah Gulen’s terrorist organization to assassinate the ambassador. This organization was also behind the downing of the Russian fighter that hurt our relations.”

So, the US and Germany are responsible not only for the assassination of the Russia’s ambassador, but also for the July 15 coup and, even more incredibly, for Turkey’s shootdown of the Russian warplane in November of last year!! But it’s very convenient for both countries, rather than have to deal with the consequences to their own relationships.

This is laughable, and it reminds me of a completely different story in the news these days. The demented loony-left-wing socialist president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro Moros, has been so thoroughly destroying his country’s economy that the inflation rate is 67% per month, and is continuing to accelerate. But he gets away with it by blaming it all on a foreign conspiracy, led by the United States. It seems that there is no leader’s policy so loony or so destructive that he can’t get away with it by blaming the United States. World Bulletin (Turkey) and Sputnik News (Moscow) and Hurriyet (Ankara)

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Both Turkey and Russia stand to gain by blaming US for assassination

The Turkish people have for years had to look on as Syria, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah combine to massacre, bomb and slaughter hundreds of thousands of civilians, including many women and children, who are ethnic Turkmens and other ethnic groups close to Turkey, and to drive millions more from their homes.

So why would Turkey be willing to bend over backwards to mend relations with Russia?

There’s no doubt that the past year has been hell for Turkey. There have been six or eight major terrorist attacks in cities across the country, perpetrated by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) or the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). There was the July 15 aborted coup attempt. The country’s resources have been strained by some three million refugees pouring into the country to escape the war in Syria. There was the chaotic break with Russia after a Russian warplane was shot down.

After the shootdown of Russia’s warplane last year, Russia imposed harsh sanctions on Turkey that were devastating to Turkey’s economy. Politically, Erdogan became increasingly isolated, having had very public splits with Syria, Russia, Israel and Egypt. So, Erdogan began healing some of those splits — with Russia and Israel, though not with Egypt. And Erdogan became resigned that Bashar al-Assad is here to stay.

Russia has a completely different set of motivations. Russia is on the verge of scoring a major political victory.

On Monday, leaders of Russia, Iran and Turkey met for a summit in Moscow to discuss a peace agreement for Syria. Turkey has dropped its demand that Bashar al-Assad step down. The United States has become so irrelevant to the Mideast that it was not invited, and besides, both Turkey and Russia are blaming the United States for the assassination and other problems.

For Russia, this is an opportunity to show the world that Russia is back, it’s in charge of the Mideast, while the US has been pushed out. This is the kind of political victory that Vladimir Putin is working for.

So this is a critical time for both Turkey and Russia. The assassination of Russia’s ambassador in Ankara has the potentially to really explode the relationship between the two countries. How was an off-duty security guard so easily able to get into the exhibition? Why was the ambassador so poorly protected? After the shooting, why the did the police shoot Altintas dead, rather than just wounding him, which would have allowed Russian investigators to question him? Who else was involved in the assassination plot?

By rushing to blame the United States, the two countries do not have to deal with a lot of very difficult questions. In particular, Russia can continue with its plan to declare itself the world leader in the Mideast.

Generational Dynamics predicts that this friendship between Turkey and Russia won’t last, and that Russia and Turkey will be on opposite sides of the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war. Russians and Turks have hated each other for centuries, and have fought many bloody wars, and it won’t be long before they’re fighting one more. Telegraph (London) and Tass (Moscow) and Sputnik News (Moscow)

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Turkey, Russia, Andrey Karlov, Mevlüt Mert Altintas, Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK, Syria, Bashar al-Assad, Fethullah Gulen, Fetullah Terror Organization, FETO, Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro Moros
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Nonfiction for the Nonplussed