sábado, 24 de junio de 2017

Diez días, trece condiciones



Ayer se conoció la lista de trece condiciones que impuso Arabia Saudita a Qatar para finalizar el bloqueo de los primeros (y otros cuatro países) sobre este último. Un disparate del principio al fin. El objetivo es someter a Qatar, eliminar sus lazos con Turquía e Irán y disciplinar al resto de las monarquías regionales. Habrá que ver quién arruga. Comenta el tema el periodista y editor Patrick Wintour para el diario británico The Guardian:


Título: Qatar given 10 days to meet 13 sweeping demands by Saudi Arabia

Subtítulo: Gulf dispute deepens as allies issue ultimatum for ending blockade that includes closing al-Jazeera and cutting back ties with Iran

Texto: Saudi Arabia and its allies have issued a threatening 13-point ultimatum to Qatar as the price for lifting a two-week trade and diplomatic embargo of the country, in a marked escalation of the Gulf’s worst diplomatic dispute in decades.

The onerous list of demands includes stipulations that Doha close the broadcaster al-Jazeera, drastically scale back cooperation with Iran, remove Turkish troops from Qatar’s soil, end contact with groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and submit to monthly external compliance checks. Qatar has been given 10 days to comply with the demands or face unspecified consequences.

Saudi Arabia and the other nations leading the blockade – the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt – launched an economic and diplomatic blockade on the energy-rich country a fortnight ago, initially claiming the Qatari royal family had licensed the funding of terrorism across the Middle East for decades. Since then, the allies appear to be pushing for the isolation of Iran and the suppression of dissenting media in the region.

The list of demands, relayed to Qatar via mediators from Kuwait, represents the first time Saudi Arabia has been prepared to put the bloc’s previously amorphous grievances in writing. Their sweeping nature would, if accepted, represent an effective end to Qatar’s independent foreign policy. According to one of the points, Qatar would have to “align itself with other Arabs and the Gulf, militarily, politically, socially and economically, as well as in financial matters”.

The UAE’s foreign secretary, Anwar Gargash, insisted the anti-Qatar alliance is not seeking to impose regime change. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that Qatar will see the demands as the basis for serious negotiations.

Qatar has become reliant on Turkey and Iran for food imports since the embargo was imposed on 5 June and insists with its huge wealth it can survive the embargo for an indefinite period.

Gargash blamed Qatar for the “childish” leak of its 13 demands and called it either an “attempt to undermine serious mediation or yet another sign of callous policy.

It would be wiser that [Qatar] deal seriously with the demands and concerns of the neighbours or a divorce will take place,” he said.

Qatar faces a choice of either stability and prosperity or isolation, he said, adding: “Perhaps the solution is in parting ways.”

In a sign that the UK does not regard the demands as reasonable, foreign secretary Boris Johnson said on Friday: “Gulf unity can only be restored when all countries involved are willing to discuss terms that are measured and realistic. 

The UK calls upon the Gulf states to find a way of de-escalating the situation and lifting the current embargo and restrictions which are having an impact on the everyday lives of people in the region.”

US policy towards Qatar so far has been marked by confusion. President Donald Trump has appeared to take credit for the Saudi embargo and described Qatar as a haven for terrorism. By contrast, the State Department under Rex Tillerson has twice upbraided Saudi Arabia’s approach to Qatar and questioned its true motives in sparking the diplomatic crisis.

In recent days the State Department has been pressing Saudi to specify the actions Qatar must take to see the embargo lifted, but warned that those demands need to be “reasonable and actionable”.

On Friday a White House spokesman told the Guardian: “The United States is still accessing the list and we are in communication with all parties. As we have said, we want to see the parties resolve this dispute and restore unity among our partners in the region, while ensuring all countries are stopping funding for terrorist groups.

The State Department spokesperson also declined to take a position on the specific Saudi demands, focusing instead on the need for the involved parties to resolve the dispute themselves through dialogue.

We understand the Kuwaitis, in their mediation capacity, have delivered a list of demands to the Qataris,” a spokesperson said. “We encourage all parties to exercise restraint to allow for productive, diplomatic discussions.”

The US has a major military base in Qatar and risks seeing Qatar forced into an alliance with Iran if its enforced isolation continues, an outcome that would be a major strategic blow to Washington as well as a further threat to the security of the region.

Qatar’s UN ambassador, Sheikha Alya Ahmed bin Saif al-Thani, said the allegations that her country supports terrorism are “sabotaging our relationship with the world, with the west, tarnishing our reputation in a way by using the terrorism card”.

She said: “The blockade they have imposed is illegal. They used the terrorism card as a way of attracting attention. But the main objectives are more about criticising our media, al-Jazeera, and our openness.”

Al-Thani added: “We are small, but we have integrity.” She said on US broadcaster CBS that she believed the Saudi positioning was softening, but not that of the UAE. She hopes for a resolution but fears a prolonged chill: “They continue to escalate even though both Kuwait and the United States are playing an important role. We are confident of the US position toward the blockade.”

Al-Jazeera has condemned the call for its closure as “nothing but an attempt to end freedom of expression in the region, and suppress the right to information”.

Rachael Jolley, the editor of Index on Censorship, said: “From its treatment of blogger Raif Badawi to its tightly controlled media environment, the Saudi authorities must not be able to dictate access to information for the public in other countries. Al-Jazeera must not be used as a bargaining chip.”

But the Saudi-led alliance regards the Arabic wing of al-Jazeera, the most widely watched broadcaster in the Arab world, as a propaganda tool for Islamists that also undermines support for their governments. The list of demands also called for other Doha-supported news outlets to be shut, including the New Arab and Middle East Eye.

Other key demands mapped out by Saudi include Qatar severing all ties with terrorist groups, specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State, al-Qaida and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. The ultimatum calls for the handing over of designated terrorists and other individuals by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. All contacts with the political opposition inside Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain would have to be halted with all files handed over that detail Qatar’s prior contacts with, and support for, opposition groups.

Qatar’s links with Iran, Saudi Arabia’s main adversary, would have to be confined only to trade allowed under the international sanctions regime and approved by the Gulf Co-operation Council.

Cutting ties to Iran would prove incredibly difficult – Qatar shares with Iran a massive offshore natural gas field, which supplies the small nation that will host the 2022 Fifa World Cup with much of its wealth.

Qatar insists it does not fund terrorists, and has previously said that the embargo is a punishment for following an independent foreign policy more sympathetic to the principles of the Arab spring than that of its neighbours.

Qatar would also be required to accept monthly external audits after agreeing to the demands, then once per quarter during the second year. It would also have to agree to be monitored annually for compliance for 10 years.

Turkey’s defence minister rejected suggestions that Doha should review its military base in Qatar and said demands for its closure represent interference in Ankara’s relations with the Gulf state.

Speaking on Thursday, before the 13 demands were tabled, Qatar’s foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, said his country had always abided by international laws and played a key role in the international coalition fighting Isis.


The 13 demands in full

1. Curb diplomatic ties with Iran and close its diplomatic missions there. Expel members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and cut off any joint military cooperation with Iran. Only trade and commerce with Iran that complies with US and international sanctions will be permitted.

2. Sever all ties to “terrorist organisations”, specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State, al-Qaida and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Formally declare those entities as terrorist groups.

3. Shut down al-Jazeera and its affiliate stations.

4. Shut down news outlets that Qatar funds, directly and indirectly, including Arabi21, Rassd, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed and Middle East Eye.

5. Immediately terminate the Turkish military presence in Qatar and end any joint military cooperation with Turkey inside Qatar.

6. Stop all means of funding for individuals, groups or organisations that have been designated as terrorists by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, the US and other countries.

7. Hand over “terrorist figures” and wanted individuals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain to their countries of origin. Freeze their assets, and provide any desired information about their residency, movements and finances.

8. End interference in sovereign countries’ internal affairs. Stop granting citizenship to wanted nationals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Revoke Qatari citizenship for existing nationals where such citizenship violates those countries’ laws.

9. Stop all contacts with the political opposition in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Hand over all files detailing Qatar’s prior contacts with and support for those opposition groups.

10. Pay reparations and compensation for loss of life and other, financial losses caused by Qatar’s policies in recent years. The sum will be determined in coordination with Qatar.

11. Consent to monthly audits for the first year after agreeing to the demands, then once per quarter during the second year. For the following 10 years, Qatar would be monitored annually for compliance.

12. Align itself with the other Gulf and Arab countries militarily, politically, socially and economically, as well as on economic matters, in line with an agreement reached with Saudi Arabia in 2014.

13. Agree to all the demands within 10 days of it being submitted to Qatar, or the list becomes invalid.


***

Esta es la interpretación del documentalista británico David Malone, publicada ayer en su sitio web Golem XIV:


Título: Saudi Hypocrisy

Texto: Astonishing hypocrisy! Saudi and its affiliates demand end to support of terrorism while they themselves are some of its largest funders. Their list of demands, as reported in the Guardian, should be translated as:

1) Curb ties with Iran = No talking to Shia Moslems.

2) Sever all ties to terror organisations = Declare Moslem Brotherhood terrorist who we find threatening internally and only Saudi should decide which terror organisations get funded. Not you

3) Shut down al-Jazeera = We don’t allow press freedom you can’t have it either. Especially one that criticises us. Shut down what is, for all its significant faults, one of the best media outlets in the world.

4) Shut down all other media Qatar funds. = Only Saudi propaganda allowed. al-Jazeera was far too willing to report government repression during the Arab Spring. So close down all non Saudi controlled media.

5) Close down Turkish military bases in Qatar. = Qatar isn’t allowed its own diplomatic sovereignty.

6) Stop funding anyone Saudi calls a terrorist = Stop funding anyone who opposes Saudi or other undemocratic regimes in the ME. No democratic dissent allowed.

7) Handover terrorist figure = Hand over to us all dissidents we want to imprison or behead.

8) Stop interfering in other countries affairs. = Hand over people we don’t like that have taken refuge in Qatar. We do the interfering (see this list of demands) not you.

9 -12) Make yourself a vassal state of Saudi, pay us money, let us control your treasury and foreign policy and agree to all this NOW. Or else. Saudi, its minions, the US and Israel will try to paint you as part of a new axis of evil.

Oh and by the way oil rules! Not the gas you and Iran want to sell!

The Great Gas War is gathering towards a major escalation. The Northern Front in Ukraine has gone quiet. Or at least unreported. But its Southern Front from Syria to Yemen, Turkey to Iran is hotting up.


***


Actualización: acá va otra reflexión sobre el ultimátum a Qatar. Leemos en el sitio web Moon of Alabama


Título: The Saudi-Qatar Spat - An Offer To Be Refused

Texto: Today the Saudi ruler issued an ultimatum to Qatar that was written to be rejected. Such has happened before and one should not forget the lessons to be learned from it.

After the crown prince of the Austia-Hungary monarchy Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was shot and killed in Sarajevo the government of Austria waited three weeks to issue a 10 point ultimatum to Serbia which it held responsible for the incident. At least three of those points concerned the suppression of "propaganda against Austria-Hungary" and the Austrian Monarchy by private and state entities. It demanded a response within two days:

Sir Edward Grey, the British Foreign Secretary, commented that he had "never before seen one State address to another independent State a document of so formidable a character."
The Austrian ultimatum was an offer to be refused. But Serbia did not fall into that trap. It conceded on everything but two minor points. This was to no avail. The issues and plans Austria had were not about the assassination of [the disliked] Franz Ferdinand or the demands issued in the ultimatum. Two days later Austria-Hungary declared war against Serbia. Allies jumped to either side. World War I had started.

The now official demands by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and some minor Gulf sheikdoms against Qatar have a similar smell to them. They are also "an offer to be refused."

The demands come late, three weeks after Saudi Arabia first accused Qatar of "supporting terrorism", three weeks after it closed the border and laid siege on the country.

(Qatar is surly "supporting terrorism". So is the U.S. - the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services just rejected an asylum request because the person in question has relations with the Free Syrian Army which the C&I-Service considers to be an "undesignated terrorist organization". The CIA built and supports the FSA. According to the U.S. government the U.S. government is a state sponsor of terrorism. But the biggest terrorist sponsor of all are and have been the Saudis.)

Spats between member of the Gulf Cooperation Council are usually mediated by the U.S. government. But without any official demands issued against Qatar there was nothing to mediate about. Three day ago U.S. Department of State finally issued a rather angry statement towards Saudi Arabia:

"We are mystified that the Gulf states have not released to the public, nor to the Qataris, the details about the claims that they are making toward Qatar," explained State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert on Tuesday. 
...
"At this point, we are left with one simple question: Were the actions really about their concerns about Qatar's alleged support for terrorism, or were they about the long-simmering grievances between and among the GCC countries?" Nauert asked.

The real issue for Saudi Arabia is the support for the Muslim Brotherhood by Qatar. The MB provides an alternative model of Islamic government to the hereditary kingdoms of the Gulf sheiks. They are a danger to the Saudi ruling family. A second point are Qatar's relative good relations with Iran, the external enemy the Saudis (and Israeli) rulers need to keep their people in line.

The "terrorism" accusation was never the real issue. What the Saudis demand is subjugation. A summary of the thirteen points:

In effect, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain are asking Qatar to hand over control of its foreign policy to them. It will not be allowed to have diplomatic relations with Iran and its contact with Iran will be limited to trade and commerce that “complies with US and international sanctions”. Qatar will not be allowed contact with political opposition figures in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain — even though other countries (including western countries) do so routinely. In addition, Qatar is being asked to hand over all its files on those opposition groups. 
...
Qatar is also being asked to “end interference in sovereign countries’ internal affairs” while allowing Saudi Arabia, the UAE, etc, apparently unlimited interference in Qatar’s own affairs. Qatar, according to the list of demands, must “align itself with the other Gulf and Arab countries militarily, politically, socially and economically”.

Then there’s the closure of Qatar’s TV station, al-Jazeera. Obviously, the Saudis, Emiratis, etc, don’t like it. ... Qatar is also told to stop funding several other news organisations, including Middle East Eye and al-Arabi al-Jadeed (also available in English as The New Arab). 
...
Finally, Qatar is being asked to sign blank cheque covering “reparations and compensation for loss of life and other, financial losses caused by Qatar’s policies in recent years”.


The Saudi ultimatum ends on July 3, the anniversary of the Saudi sponsored military coup against the Qatar backed Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt. One demand in the ultimatum is for Qatar to end all support for the Brotherhood. The ultimatum will likely be rejected. Qatar will simply not respond until the Saudis and others lift their blockade of the country.

If the Saudis want war they should launch it right away, the Qatari ruler thinks. Doha is sure that the U.S. will not allow that. Ten-thousand U.S. troops are stationed in Qatar. It hosts a major air base and the important Central Command, which leads the war against ISIS and Syria. Qatar just bought U.S. fighter jets for $12 billion and is offering to take a 10% share of American Airlines.

Turkish troops have arrived to protect the sheikdom. One unexpected Saudi demand is that all Turkish troops leave Qatar. The Erdogan government, a Muslim Brotherhood branch, responded with a snippy "Make me do so."

Turkey’s Defense Minister Fikri Işık rejected the demand, saying any call for the base to be shut would represent interference in Ankara’s relations with Doha. He suggested instead that Turkey might bolster its presence.

There is no "or else" in the Saudi ultimatum. The Saudi ruler, the clown prince Mohammad bin Salman, is not a strategist. He likely has not thought through what he could do should Qatar says "no" to him.

The Trump administration is considering a Camp David-style summit to solve the conflict:

The president now wants to bring all the key players to Washington,” he said. “They need to disavow groups like the [Muslim] Brotherhood for the stability of the Middle East at large. It’s not just about Qatari elements funding the Brotherhood but disavowing support for extremism in general,” [a senior White House official] said.

The real issue for the Trump administration is to unite the GCC behind its plans against Iran. There is only a small chance that such can be achieved. Iran is an important commercial partner for Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE and Oman. Those countries have nothing to win from any war with it.

So far Iran is the sole winner of the GCC spat. Should the Saudi blockade of Qatar continue Iran's farmers will sell over 400,000 tons of food per year to Qatar. Steel and concrete are other potential exports products for Iran. Lucrative air traffic in Iranian air space has increased by 17% since the Saudis blocked Qatar Airlines flights through their airspace. Iran will sell more natural gas should Qatar's gas exports be damaged.


As longer this goes on as better for Iran and its allies. The Saudis and Emiratis surely did not think of this when they launched their belligerent plans. The had hoped that Qatar would fold within a day or two. One or two years is now the more likely time frame.

jueves, 22 de junio de 2017

El estado de las cosas


Curioso mundo en el que vivimos: burbuja tras burbuja tras burbuja. Algún día van a explotar, tal vez todas juntas. La guerra, las finanzas, la paciencia social, lo que venga. La nota que sigue es del economista y analista político Peter Koenig; salió publicada hoy en el sitio web The Vineyard of the Saker:


Título: Are We in The Final Phase?

Texto: There is hardly a day that goes by without a terror attack somewhere in the world, emphasis on western world. There were three successive UK terror attacks within less than three months, one in Manchester two in London, where all the ‘terrorists’ – who all yelled coincidentally Allahu Akbar (God is Great) while committing their heinous crimes – were killed. None was left alive for testimony. Since then another one was carried out in front of a Mosque in northern London. Yesterday in a Brussels railway station someone exploded a bomb, and people heard him scream Allahu Akbar. It's terror non-stop. We better get used to it.

Terror is reigning in Africa every day, in Central Africa, the Congo, Burundi, Nigeria – you name it. The Islamic State is fighting in the Philippines. They are fighting a proxy war for Washington against the inconvenient President Duterte, who likes to ally with China and Russia. Geographically, economically and politically speaking, a logical choice. It’s hardly reported by the presstitute. And if reported, its twisted and turned into barrage of lies. Terror is the scare of the day; and terror is a branch of the US military – it’s a weaponized strategy to conquer the world by fear and as a consequence, by militarization. People ask for it, for protection.

Terror is fed, trained and armed by Washington and the Pentagon. The number of attacks are increasing by the day. We can only wonder, where will it strike tomorrow. The question, “when will it stop?” is not even an option. It will not stop. It’s part of the war game.

On the other side of the equation, globalized Wall Street, the FED and international financial institutions are strangling poor countries with debt into submission, especially those with natural resources, like hydrocarbons tropical forests, gold and diamonds. All stained in blood. But finance does not stop there. It comes down to the individual, digitizing cash. Making us a cashless society. It’s good for you. No need for carrying money around. It’s worthless anyway. Going digital, we can control you-and you are safe. The State will never steal your money. They could, but they won’t. Ethics. It’s called Ethics. And we trust them. In God We Trust – and god is money, to be precise – the US Dollar.

In the Middle East, a serious confrontation between the US and Russia is brewing, as Russia keeps believing in agreements signed with Washington, despite deceptions, time and again. The latest incident, supposedly fighting ISIS, a US F-18 fighter shot down a Syrian plane fighting ISIS. By accident, of course. The Russian Defense Ministry did not mince its words, “In areas where Russian aviation is conducting combat missions in the Syrian skies, any flying objects, including jets and unmanned aerial vehicles of the international coalition discovered west of the Euphrates River will be followed by Russian air and ground defenses as air targets.” In other words, they will be shot down. Is it that what the dark forces behind Washington want? – a deadly provocation?

Possibly. Because the US economy is based on war – and the European one is following closely in these bloody footsteps. We are living an economy of destruction, not one of construction, of a congenial livelihood, of solidarity among people and societies. Now our economy is also a tool of war – it impoverishes the masses and enriches the few. It divides the people, the countries, the continents – to conquer them. Those who control the economy are those who control the western monetary system, the fraudulent, privately made, owned usurping debt and interest machine; the dollar pyramid, upon which every other western currency depends. Those who control this unspeakable fraud, will eventually control a divided world. A world of man-made eternal chaos.

For the masters of war-and the would-be Masters of the Universe, it doesn’t matter whether we all go under. They still think, ‘The War’, even nuclear – will be fought in far-away places – such as Europe and the Middle East. The May, Macron, Merkel puppets, who allow it, by having nurtured NATO for the last decade-plus, hope to be ‘evacuated’ to Miami, or the Caribbean, in time, when Europe burns – for the third time in 100 years.

Propaganda tells us be on your guard, the Russians are coming, and behind them the Chinese. We will protect you; we will militarize your countries, and we will make sure your money is safe, therefore it will be digitized. And every explosion that you see and hear about – it is not for you. It is taking place in foreign lands.

People, there is nothing left to hope for in the west. This could be it. The end-run. And you and me are in it, if we don’t leave it NOW. We have for too long believed in the treachery of Washington, the false promises, the eternal lies for centuries drop-by-dripping-drop into our brains have drained our self-worth, our autonomy; and we have ‘democratically’ allowed that these Washington bandits and the criminal gang that directs them from behind, have stolen our nations sovereignty.

We are doomed. The west is doomed. The west is in its final stage of committing unrelenting suicide by sheer greed and monstrous aggressions and an eternal flood of lies. We are cooked. For good, beyond the threshold of no-return. The only hope for those of us who may survive, is the East. China, Russia and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) offer an economy of peace. They offer the world, including the west, for those who are not afraid to break loose from the weakening fangs of Washington, an enormous economic and scientific development program – the New Silk Road, or OBOR – One Belt One Road, or OBI for short. The One Belt Initiative – an economy of peace and prosperity offered to the world by China’s President Xi. Wake up, People, wake up – and step out from the western warmongers orbit.

Llora Schaeuble


El ministro de Finanzas de Alemania, Wolfgang Schaeuble (foto), el mismo que puso de rodillas a Grecia por no cumplir las "metas" del FMI (después de 20 años de venderles a los griegos a la fuerza autos, lavarropas y cafeteras Made in Germany, claro está), sale a implorar al Imperio que no deje de serlo. Dan un poquito de asco estas lágrimas de cocodrilo de los neoliberales. El cuco de ocasión es Rusia y China, obvio. Leemos en Zero Hedge:


Título: Schaeuble Warns US Pullback Could "End Our Liberal World Order"

Texto: Less than a month after German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that “Europe must take its fate into its own hands,” Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble implored US President Donald Trump to reconsider his “America First” policy, claiming that a pullback by the US would risk the destruction of “our liberal world order” by ceding influence to the Chinese and the Russians.

Trump’s hostility toward his European partners has strained relations between the US and its Continental allies. Since taking office, Trump has insulted fellow G-7 and NATO leaders, pulled out of the Paris Accord and attempted to ban travelers and refugees from six Muslim majority countries. Though Trump has treated at least one NATO leader with respect: Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, whom he honored with a Rose Garden press conference.

Bloomberg described Schaeuble’s comments as “one of the strongest expressions of concern among European policy makers that President Donald Trump’s administration is disengaging the US from its global roles on trade, climate change and security.”

I doubt whether the United States truly believes that the world order would be equally sound if China or Russia were to fill the gaps left by the US, and if China and Russia were simply given a free hand to dominate the spheres of influence that they have defined for themselves,” Schaeuble, 74, said in a speech at the American Academy in Berlin, a think tank that promotes U.S.-German ties. “That would be the end of our liberal world order.”
Schaeuble also claimed that maintaining global security is in the best interest of the US.

It is surely in the United States’ own interest to ensure security and economic stability in its markets, both in Europe and around the world…[t]his is a basic precondition if the US wants to increase its exports and cut its trade deficit.”

Schauble was speaking to an audience at the American Academy of Berlin that included Henry Kissinger and Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers. In three weeks, Merkel will host Trump, Russian leader Vladimir Putin and host of other world leaders at a G-20 summit in Hamburg.

As Bloomberg reported, Merkel pushed back against some of Trump's comments regarding the US-German trade relationship on Wednesday during an event in Berlin marking the 70th anniversary of the Marshall Plan. She defended free trade, claiming that protectionism and isolationism “impede innovation, and in the long run this is disadvantageous for everybody.”

Trump has attacked Germany’s trade surplus as “very bad” and said he would stop German car companies from selling “millions of cars” in the US. Data form the Census Bureau show the United States had a $65 billion trade deficit in goods with Germany in 2016, the third-largest negative balance after a $69 billion shortfall with Japan and a $347 billion deficit with China.

However, there’s an element of hypocrisy in Schauble and Merkel’s warnings about China. Germany has done nothing to stymie China's rise. It has only helped elevate China’s standing on the global stage by embracing it as an ally in the fight against climate change and as a partner in trade. To wit: China was Germany’s largest trading partner last year. eclipsing the US.

Merkel also said that she’s open to discussing proposals for a joint “euro-area budget” with French President Emmanuel Macron – stealing a policy position from her political rival, Social Democrat leader Martin Schultz. A federal budget would help benefit the euro-area’s weakest economies, like Greece, Portugal and Italy, but it would also offset some of the immense advantages that Germany reaps as part of the monetary union. German citizens would effectively subsidize their European neighbors, though Germany would still benefit from a weaker currency.

According to Bloomberg, Merkel’s comments come at a time of “special significance.” Merkel is seeking a fourth term in office in September, when Germany is holding a national election. But she’s been losing ground in the polls to Schultz and his social democrats. Worried about her standing, it seems Merkel has hit upon a new campaign strategy: Distract Germans from their domestic woes by bashing the US.

martes, 20 de junio de 2017

Reajustes


Una nota publicada hoy por Red Voltaire intenta explicar los movimientos actuales en Medio Oriente y el reacomodamiento de fuerzas y alianzas que está ocurriendo en tiempo real. La nota es de Thierry Meyssan; acá va:


Título: Reajustes en el Medio Oriente

Epígrafe: Los países del Medio Oriente ampliado se dividen ahora entre partidarios y adversarios del clericalismo, mientras que Washington, Moscú y Pekín negocian una nueva distribución de cartas. Thierry Meyssan evalúa el impacto de este verdadero terremoto en los conflictos que ya estaban desarrollándose en Palestina, en Siria e Irak, así como en Yemen.

Texto: La crisis diplomática alrededor de Qatar ha congelado varios conflictos regionales y disimulado varios intentos de arreglos vinculados a otros. Nadie sabe cuándo se levantará el telón, pero lo que sí es seguro es que cuando eso suceda veremos una región profundamente transformada.


1– El conflicto palestino

Desde que la mayoría de los palestinos fueron expulsados de su tierra –el 15 de mayo de 1948, en lo que hoy se designa como la Nakba– y que los pueblos árabes rechazaron aquella limpieza étnica, lo único que había modificado parcialmente la distribución del juego era la paz separada israelo-egipcia pactada en los acuerdos de Camp David (en 1978) y la promesa de resolver la cuestión palestina mediante la creación de dos Estados, surgida de los acuerdos de Oslo (en 1993).

Sin embargo, cuando la existencia de negociaciones secretas entre Irán y Estados Unidos se dio a conocer, Arabia Saudita e Israel decidieron conversar entre sí. Al cabo de 17 meses de encuentros secretos, se concluyó un acuerdo entre el Guardián de las Dos Mezquitas y el Estado judío [1]. 
   
Este acuerdo se concretó a través de la participación del ejército de Israel en la agresión contra Yemen [2] y de la entrega de bombas atómicas tácticas israelíes al reino de los Saud [3].
   
Recordemos que ese acuerdo también preveía hacer que Arabia Saudita evolucionara de forma tal que su sociedad siguiera siendo salafista y sus instituciones pasaran a ser laicas. Estipulaba además la independencia del Kurdistán iraquí –donde se realizará un referéndum en septiembre– y la explotación simultánea de los yacimientos de gas del desierto de Rub al-Khali (a menudo designado como The Empty Quarter), en territorios de Arabia Saudita y Yemen –yacimientos que son la verdadera razón de la actual guerra contra Yemen– y los de la región de Ogadén –lo cual explica la retirada, esta semana, de las tropas qataríes de la frontera con Yibuti.
   
Finalmente, Egipto cedió a Arabia Saudita las islas de Tiran y Sanafir, cumpliendo así el compromiso que había contraído hace un año. Al aceptar la posesión de esas islas, Riad reconoce de facto los acuerdos de Camp David, que estipulan la libre circulación de los barcos israelíes en las aguas circundantes. Israel incluso confirmó que ha recibido garantías de Arabia Saudita en ese sentido.
   
Es importante observar que lo que llevó a Egipto a ceder las islas no fue la presión de Arabia Saudita –aunque Riad bloqueó tanto sus entregas de petróleo al Cairo como un préstamo de 12 000 millones de dólares– sino la crisis diplomática del Golfo. Los Saud oficializaron su ruptura con la Hermandad Musulmana, proceso que ya venía avanzando desde que el presidente egipcio al-Sissi les entregó una serie de documentos que demostraban la existencia de un proyecto de golpe de Estado en Arabia Saudita en el que estaban implicados varios miembros de la cofradía. Al principio, Arabia Saudita creyó ser capaz de separar a los “buenos” de los “malos”, entre los miembros de la Hermandad Musulmana. El reino ya había acusado a Qatar de aportar respaldo a los golpistas, pero en aquel momento las cosas se desarrollaron por la vía pacífica. Actualmente, Riad tiene intenciones de luchar contra toda la Hermandad Musulmana y eso lo obliga a revisar su posición hacia Siria.
   
La cesión de las islas de Tiran y Sanafir, egipcias desde la Convención de Londres de 1840, no tiene otra razón de ser que permitir que Arabia Saudita reconozca de forma implícita –al cabo de 39 años– los acuerdos de paz separada firmados en Camp David entre Egipto e Israel.
   
Por su parte, Teherán acogió a la dirección política del Hamas –que se compone principalmente de miembros de la Hermandad Musulmana–, tanto en nombre de la solidaridad con la causa palestina como por el hecho que comparte con los dirigentes del Hamas la misma concepción del islam político.
   
La próxima etapa será el establecimiento de relaciones comerciales públicas entre Riad y Tel Aviv, que ya se mencionan en la edición del 17 de junio del diario británico The Times –varias empresas israelíes parecen haber sido autorizadas a operar en Arabia Saudita y la compañía aérea israelí El-Al podría utilizar el espacio aéreo saudita [4]–, y después vendrían el reconocimiento de la iniciativa de paz del príncipe saudita Abdala –adoptada por Liga Árabe en 2002– y el establecimiento de relaciones diplomáticas –el príncipe Walid ben Talal se convertiría en embajador del reino en Israel [5].
   
Ese proyecto podría conducir a la paz en Palestina (reconocimiento de un Estado palestino e indemnización para los refugiados), en Líbano (retirada israelí de las Granjas de Shebaa) y en Siria (cese del apoyo a los yihadistas y retirada israelí del Golán).
   
El tema del Golán ha de resultar particularmente difícil ya que el gobierno de Netanyahu ha reafirmado –en son de provocación– su anexión mientras que Estados Unidos y Rusia reaccionaron duramente ante la expulsión de la Fuerza de Naciones Unidas de Observación de la Separación (FNUOS) y la sustitución de sus cascos azules por los yihadistas de al-Qaeda [6]. No sería, sin embargo, imposible que durante la guerra en Siria, Washington o Moscú se hayan comprometido con Tel Aviv a mantener el statu quo en el Golán.
   
Ese proyecto de arreglo general es un reflejo del modus operandi de Donald Trump y Jared Kushner como hombres de negocios: crear una situación económica que impone un cambio político. Y encontrará probablemente la oposición de la Hermandad Musulmana (el Hamas) y del triángulo del islam político conformado por Irán, Qatar y Turquía.
   
   
2– El conflicto en territorios de Irak y Siria

Todos los actores regionales están de acuerdo en considerar que Irak y Siria constituyen en este momento un solo campo de batalla. Pero los occidentales, que se aferran a las mentiras de la administración de George Bush hijo –incluso cuando admiten la inexistencia de las armas de destrucción masiva que supuestamente tenía Saddam Hussein– y a la versión romántica de las «primaveras árabes» -incluso cuando reconocen que ese movimiento nunca trató de favorecer la libertad sino, por el contrario, de imponer el islam político– se obstinan en considerarlos dos escenarios diferentes.

En este punto, remito a nuestros lectores a mi libro Sous nos yeux en cuanto a cómo se inició esta guerra [7]. El hecho es que, desde el inicio de la crisis alrededor de Qatar, la guerra en Irak y en Siria se ha limitado a 
   
(1) la lucha contra el Emirato Islámico (Daesh), en Mosul y Raqqa, y a 
   
(2) la lucha contra Turquía, en Baachiqa y al-Bab [8].
   
Lo que resulta evidente para todos en la región es que, desde la llegada al poder del presidente chino Xi Jinping con el proyecto de creación de dos “rutas de la seda”, Washington ha estimulado la creación de un «Sunnistán» en territorios pertenecientes a Irak y a la República Árabe Siria. Con ese objetivo, Washington financió, armó y dirigió las fuerzas del Emirato Islámico para que bloquearan el eje de comunicación terrestre Beirut-Damasco-Bagdad-Teherán-Pekín.
   
Desde hace 4 meses, la administración Trump estudia y negocia de qué manera pudiera modificar esa política y reemplazar por una asociación con Pekín la actual situación de enfrentamiento [9].
   
Mientras que en el terreno asistimos a una verdadera sucesión de acontecimientos contradictorios, los ejércitos de Irak y de la República Árabe Siria han avanzado rápidamente desde el inicio de la crisis alrededor de Qatar. En su rápido avance hacia la frontera común, ambos ejércitos han liberado del control del Emirato Islámico sus zonas fronterizas y hoy están a punto de entrar en contacto –con lo cual restablecerían la ruta de la seda. Ya sólo los separan, en el punto de confluencia, unos 200 metros de terreno ilegalmente controlado por fuerzas de Estados Unidos [10].
   
En cuanto a los combates en el sur de Siria… han cesado inesperadamente. Damasco proclamó unilateralmente un alto al fuego en Deraa. En realidad, Moscú y Washington dieron a Tel Aviv garantías de que Siria sólo permitirá frente a la frontera israelí el despliegue de fuerzas rusas, excluyendo la presencia allí de fuerzas iraníes o del Hezbollah libanés.
   
En pocas palabras, si el Pentágono sigue las órdenes de la Casa Blanca, debería producirse un amplio cese del conflicto. Sólo quedaría por resolver entonces la ocupación turca de territorios en Irak y Siria, según el modelo de la ocupación turca en Chipre, situación a la que la Unión Europea se ha acomodado en una evidente muestra de cobardía. En la nueva situación, Estados Unidos y Arabia Saudita, hasta ahora enemigos de Irak y Siria, se convertirían nuevamente en sus aliados.
   
   
3– El conflicto en Yemen

Es posible que los yemenitas salgan perjudicados del actual cambio de situación. Aunque resulta totalmente evidente que Arabia Saudita entró en guerra para instalar en Yemen un régimen favorable a la explotación conjunta de los yacimientos de hidrocarburos del desierto de Rub al-Khali y para dar al príncipe Mohamed ben Salman la posibilidad de “acumular méritos”, la ayuda que Irán ha aportado a los Huthis y al ex presidente Saleh desvía las miradas de los países árabes y de la llamada «comunidad internacional» de los crímenes que allí se cometen.

En efecto, cada cual tiene que escoger su bando y casi todos han optado por ponerse del lado de Arabia Saudita contra Qatar y los aliados turcos e iraníes del pequeño emirato. Lo que pudiera ser positivo para Palestina, Irak y Siria resulta negativo para Yemen.
   
   
Conclusión

Desde el 5 de junio de 2017 y la ruptura de relaciones diplomáticas entre Arabia Saudita y Qatar, las cancillerías se preparan para una posible guerra, aunque sólo Alemania ha mencionado públicamente esa posibilidad. La situación es extremadamente sorprendente, sobre todo si se tiene en cuenta que no es Arabia Saudita sino Qatar quien ostenta el estatus de observador en el seno de la OTAN [11].

Mientras tanto, anuncios de dimisiones siguen llegando constantemente de Doha y van desde la embajadora estadounidense Dana Shell Smith hasta el entrenador uruguayo de la selección de futbol de Qatar, Jorge Fossati. Y no sólo los países que se han puesto del lado de Arabia Saudita han cortado sus relaciones comerciales con Qatar. También lo han hecho, ante el riesgo de guerra, numerosas empresas sin vínculos particulares con la región del Golfo, como la China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO), la mayor compañía naviera de China y una de las más grandes del mundo.
   
En todo caso, aunque sus reclamos –basados en la historia– están realmente justificados, parece a todas luces imposible que Arabia Saudita anexe Qatar, teniendo en cuenta que antes se opuso a la anexión de Kuwait por parte del Irak de Saddam Hussein, basada exactamente en las mismas razones históricas. Una regla se impuso en el mundo desde los tiempos de la colonización británica: nadie tiene derecho a modificar las fronteras que Londres impuso con un solo objetivo, que es precisamente perennizar problemas insolubles para los Estados nacidos de los procesos de independencia.
   
De hecho, así logra Londres que esos Estados sigan dependiendo de su antigua metrópoli. En el caso que ahora nos ocupa, la próxima llegada de 43 000 soldados pakistaníes y turcos que asumirían la defensa de Qatar debería fortalecer su posición.

Irán aclara


Ante el silencio más o menos generalizado de la prensa occidental, Irán salió ayer a contestar las acusaciones de Arabia Saudita sobre un supuesto complot contra plataformas off shore de este último país como respuesta a los atentados de Teherán de la semana pasada. Las dos notas que siguen son de la agencia iraní de noticias PressTV:


Título: Saudi guards open fire on Iranian boats in Persian Gulf, kill fisherman

Texto: Saudi Arabia’s coastguard has opened fire on Iranian fishing boats in the waters south of Iran, killing a fisherman, a senior border official of the Islamic Republic says.

The incident happened after two Iranian boats fishing in the Persian Gulf strayed from their course due to big sea waves, the Iranian Interior Ministry’s director general for border affairs Majid Aqa-Babaei said on Saturday.

Accordingly and without establishing whether the Iranian boats had crossed Saudi borders, the coastguard of this country opened fire on the Iranian boats and an Iranian fisherman was killed due to a bullet hitting him in the waist,” he added.

This Saudi move is not compatible with human principles and even assuming that the boats had crossed Saudi borders due to sea waves, they were not authorized to shoot at the Iranian boats,” the official said.

Aqa-Babaei noted that the Islamic Republic is following up on the issue to determine whether the boats had entered Saudi territorial waters.

This move by the Saudis was incompatible with human and maritime principles,” he reiterated.

Relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia worsened after a deadly human crush occurred during Hajj rituals in Mina, near Mecca in September 2015.

Islamic Republic officials blamed the incompetence of Saudi officials for the incident, which, according to Iran, killed 4,700 people, including 465 Iranian nationals.

Earlier that same month, a massive construction crane had collapsed into Mecca’s Grand Mosque, killing more than 100 pilgrims, including 11 Iranians, and injuring over 200 others, among them 32 Iranian nationals.

Mutual ties deteriorated further when Riyadh executed prominent Saudi Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr in January 2016. Saudi Arabia unilaterally severed its diplomatic ties with Iran after protests in front of its diplomatic premises in the cities of Tehran and Mashhad against Nimr’s execution.


***


Título: Iran official denies Saudi claim about arresting IRGC members

Texto: An official with the Iranian Interior Ministry has denied a claim by Saudi Arabia that Riyadh has arrested three members of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

Majid Aqa-Babaei, the ministry’s director general for border affairs, told the Young Journalists Club on Monday, that, “Saudi Arabia’s claim about the arrest of Iranian military forces is not true.

Earlier in the day, Saudi Arabia’s information ministry said in a statement that Saudi forces had captured and were questioning “three IRGC members, who were intending to carry out an attack on a major offshore oilfield in the Persian Gulf,” according to an Associated Press report.

The three were onboard [sic] a boat carrying a large number of explosives headed toward the Marjan oil field, located off the kingdom’s eastern shores between Saudi Arabia and Iran,” the report read.

Aqa-Babaei had on Saturday said that the Saudi coastguard had opened fire on Iranian fishing boats in the waters south of Iran, killing one fisherman.

Saudi Arabia, too, had reported the incident soon after it happened but had not made the claims about arrests and explosives. It offered a changed narrative, however, with the information ministry statement, which came some two days after the initial narrative.

In his Monday remarks, Aqa-Babaei referred to the new allegation about the arrests and said, “This issue has to do with the same two fishing boats” that had been shot at.

He said the Iranians in question were “simply fishermen” and had no types of weapons whatsoever.

In a separate interview with the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA) on Monday, Aqa-Babaei confirmed that three Iranians — all known fishermen from the southern Iranian city of Bushehr — had been taken into custody by the Saudi coastguard.

Riyadh has severed its diplomatic ties with Tehran. Therefore, Iran’s Foreign Ministry has been following up on the issue through indirect diplomatic channels.

Observers say Saudi rulers have interpreted US President Donald Trump’s recent visit to Riyadh as some kind of a green light to pursue their policies more aggressively.

The killing of the Iranian fisherman and the arrest of the other three came following that trip and also after Saudi Arabia led a group of its vassal states in cutting ties with Qatar. While the Saudi-led bloc of countries have accused Doha of sponsoring terrorism, most observers say the severance of ties and an accompanying economic war on Qatar have to do with the fact that Doha pursues its relations with Iran more independently of Riyadh.

A Saudi minister said last month that his country would work to move “the battle” to Iran. Another Saudi minister said on June 6 that Iran had to be “punished” for what he called interference in the region. Hours later, two terrorist attacks hit the Iranian capital, Tehran, killing 18 people and wounding 50 other people. Daesh said it had carried out the attacks.

lunes, 19 de junio de 2017

Mueve Arabia Saudita


Arabia Saudita anunció hoy que detuvo a tres miembros de la Guardia Revolucionaria iraní intentando atacar plataformas petroleras off-shore de ese país. Sí, chicos: Arabia Saudita, uno de los mayores financistas de grupos terroristas en Medio Oriente y otras regiones del mundo, dice que detuvo a presuntos terroristas iraníes frente a sus costas. Suena a podrido, claro, pero ahora las cosas se ponen al rojo vivo. Leemos en Zero Hedge:


Título: Saudis Foil Iranian Terror Attack On Major Offshore Oil Field

Texto: The situation in the Middle East is furiously escalating with each passing day. While today's news of Israeli financial support for Syrian insurgents came out of left field, our earlier assessment following the report of "turmoiling" Syrian rebels in the aftermath of the Qatar crisis still stands, namely that "the next major regional conflict appears set to be between Saudi Arabia and Iran. All it needs is a catalyst."

That catalyst nearly presented itself overnight, when the Saudi information ministry said the Saudi Royal Navy allegedly foiled an attempted terrorist attack on a major offshore oilfield in the Persian Gulf on June 16, when it captured three members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps from a boat as it approached the kingdom's offshore Marjan oilfield. The Saudi Center for International Communications added that the boat carried explosives, and the Iranians aboard "intended to carry out terrorist act in Saudi territorial waters."

Quoting an “official source”, the Saudi SPA news agency said that just after midnight on June 16, 2017, three boats bearing flags in white and red flags rushed to the Marjan offshore oil field off the Eastern Province. The navy fired warning shots but were these were ignored by the assault boats. It said one of the boats was subsequently seized and found to be “carrying weapons for a sabotage target.” The other two boats escaped.

This was one of three vessels which were intercepted by Saudi forces. It was captured with the three men on board, the other two escaped,” a statement from the ministry’s center for international communications said.

"The three captured members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard are now being questioned by Saudi authorities," it said, citing a Saudi official and added that the vessel was carrying explosives and intended to conduct a "terrorist act" in Saudi territorial waters.

The Saudi Press Agency also reported that the Saudi Navy fired warning shots at the two boats that managed to escape.

According to Reuters, on Saturday Iran's Tasnim news agency said that Saudi border guards had opened fire on an Iranian fishing boat in the Gulf on Friday, killing a fisherman. It said the boat was one of two Iranian boats fishing in the Gulf that had been pushed off course by waves.

The alleged attempt to carry out a terrorist attack on Saudi oil facilities takes place as tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia have steadily deteriorated, and follow a pari of suicide bombings and shootings in Tehran killed which killed 17 people in Tehran in the first week of June. Iran repeated accusations that Saudi Arabia funds Sunni Islamist militants, including Islamic State.

It the Saudi account of events is accurate, and if Iran is indeed preparing to take out Saudi oil infrastructure in retaliation or otherwise, the simmering cold war between Saudi Arabia and Iran is about to get very hot.


Teresita en la picota


Las cosas no van bien para Theresa May (atenti Mauri!). Las protestas sociales han comenzado a conmover el verano británico, y los analistas apuestan para saber la fecha en que la chica saldrá eyectada de su puesto de primera ministra. El reciente incendio en la Torre Grenfell agrava las cosas. Leemos en el diario español El Mundo:
  

Título: Caos en vísperas del Brexit

Subtítulo: Theresa May afronta la negociación con Europa sumida en una grave crisis interna

Texto: La primera ministra británica, Theresa May, apura la cuenta atrás del Brexit entre las protestas sociales tras la tragedia de la Torre Grenfell, el caos político creado por las elecciones del 8-J y las crecientes críticas por su falta de sintonía con los británicos.

Hasta la reina Isabel II, en un inusual comentario de alcance político, advirtió ayer de que el país se encuentra con un estado de ánimo "muy sombrío".

La policía reconoció entre tanto que 58 personas están "desaparecidas y presumiblemente muertas" en el incendio que dejó cabornizado el edificio de 24 pisos, convertido en triste metáfora de las desigualdades sociales en el distrito más rico del país. La dimensión de la tragedia va a más con el paso de las horas, y la ira popular sigue rompiendo a los pies de Downing Street.

A los gritos de "May must go" (May debe marcharse), un millar de manifestantes convergieron ayer a las puertas del número 10 por segundo día consecutivo, denunciando esta vez "la coalición del caos" entre el Partido Conservador y el Partido Unionista Democrático (DUP), con el que la premier aspira a lograr la mayoría parlamentaria para seguir gobernando.

May intentó aplacar la ira popular recibiendo a un grupo de 15 residentes de la Torre Grenfell, un día después de haber sido abucheada a los gritos de "cobarde" a su paso por la zona siniestrada. "El apoyo a las víctimas de la tragedia no fue suficientemente bueno", admitió la premier en un comunicado tras su encuentro con los afectados y a modo de mea culpa.

"Ha sido una tragedia inimaginable para la comunidad y para todo el país", agregó May. "La respuesta de los servicios de Inteligencia ha sido heroica. Pero, francamente, el apoyo recibido por las familias que necesitaban ayuda o información básica no ha sido suficientemente bueno".

La líder conservadora anunció la creación de una "fuerza de choque" en su propio Gabinete para hacer frente a la tragedia, además del destino de un fondo de seis millones de euros para los damnificados y la promesa de un realojamiento inmediato dentro del barrio.

El daño que ha sufrido su imagen a raíz de la tragedia va sin embargo más allá del deterioro causado en las últimas semanas por el fiasco electoral. Tras su entrevista del jueves en el programa Newsnight de la BBC, May se convirtió de nuevo en blanco de todas las críticas por su "falta de corazón" y la total ausencia de empatía hacia las víctimas del incendio.

"Usted no ha sabido leer el estado de ánimo de la gente ante la tragedia", le espetó la presentadora Emily Maitlis, que recordó el incidente a su paso por la iglesia de St. Clement's en medio de las protestas populares. "La han llamado 'cobarde'". May eludió la pregunta con una sus respuestas distantes y robóticas: "Lo que he hecho desde que empezó este incidente es asegurar que los servicios públicos tengan el apoyo que necesitan para poder hacer todo su trabajo".

"Pero han pasado ya tres días, primera ministra, eso es lo que tenían que haber hecho el miércoles", recalcó Maitlis. A lo que la premier respondió, escurriendo nuevamente el bulto: "Lo que hemos hecho es asegurar que el Gobierno va poner el dinero para ayudar a la gente afectada en la zona".

La entrevista televisiva tuvo un efecto incendiario en White City, el barrio aledaño a la Torre Grenfell, entre el lamento general de los vecinos, la mayor parte inmigrantes: "Este es el tipo de incendios que esperas en Bangladesh, pero no en Londres".

La temperatura social siguió subiendo ayer, en medio de una inusitada ola de calor. El breve mensaje de la reina, con motivo de la celebración oficial de su cumpleaños, tuvo un alcance más que simbólico.

Isabel II, que se entrevistó con los residentes de la Torre Grenfell antes de que lo hiciera la premier, se refirió no sólo al incendio sino a la reciente oleada de atentados terroristas que han conmocionado el país.

Aun así, la reina expresó su confianza en que los británicos serán capaces de encontrar "la resolución para plantarle cara a la adversidad".

A punto de cumplirse un año del voto a favor del Brexit y en la antesala de las negociaciones que arrancan mañana, el Reino Unido se encuentra en medio de un laberinto político y con señales cada vez más evidentes de ralentización económica.

La premier, que arrancó su campaña electoral con el lema de "fuerte y estable", llega a la primera línea de meta en una posición débil y tambaleante, cuestionada incluso por su propio partido.

El titular de Exteriores, Boris Johnson, ha decidido seguir arropándola contra viento y marea y ha acusado al Partido Laborista de orquestar las recientes protestas y "politizar la tragedia de la Torre Grenfell de un modo imperdonable".

El nuevo secretario de Estado y número dos del Gobierno, Damian Green, excusó el comportamiento de la premier alegando que "está consternada como todos nosotros" y asegurando que May tiene "el mismo grado de empatía que todos tenemos".

Dentro del Partido Conservador crece sin embargo la preocupación a que la tragedia de la Torre Grenfell sea para May lo que el famoso poll tax o impuesto de capitación fue para Margaret Thatcher, que cayó bajo el peso de la arrogancia y de la falta de sensibilidad hacia las protestas populares que precipitaron su caída. Por su hermetismo y sus dificultades para conectar con los británicos, May está siendo comparada también estos días con el ex premier laborista Gordon Brown.

"Si May no ha caído aún es porque los conservadores no tienen ahora mismo una alternativa creíble a su liderazgo", aseguraba Simon Maggs, 61 años, que acudió a la manifestación en Downing Street en compañía de su hija de 20 años, Xanthe. "Pero esta situación no puede durar mucho más. Pactar con los reaccionarios unionistas es jugar con fuego... Antes de fin de año tendremos nuevas elecciones y después un nuevo referéndum de la UE. Todo el caos de este año nos lo habríamos evitado si hubiera ganado la permanencia".


domingo, 18 de junio de 2017

La Gran Disrupción


Mientras Washington parece congelada en intrigas de palacio, algunos han comenzado a especular sobre el significado de los eventos en curso. La Gran Disrupción, el momento (que vivimos en tiempo real, día a día) en que el Imperio deja de serlo para dar lugar a un caos subsiguiente y, luego, si es que la Humanidad tiene suerte, al posterior reacomodamiento del tablero internacional. La nota que sigue es de Alastair Crooke, antiguo diplomático británico, ex miembro del MI6 y actual director del sitio web Conflicts Forum:


Título: Coming Apart: The Imperial City At The Brink

Texto: David Stockman routinely refers to President Trump as the ‘Great Disrupter’. But this is not a bad quality, he insists. Rather, it is a necessary one: Stockman argues (my paraphrasing) that Trump represents the outside force, the externality, that tips a ‘world system’ over the brink: It has to tip over the brink, because systems become too ossified, too far out on their ‘branch’ to be able to reform themselves. It does not really matter so much, whether the agency of this tipping process (President Trump in this instance), fully comprehends his pivotal role, or plays it out in an intelligent and subtle way, or in a heavy-handed, and unsubtle manner. Either serve the purpose. And that purpose is to disrupt.

Why should disruption be somehow a ‘quality’? It is because, during a period when ‘a system’ is coming apart, (history tells us), one can reach a point at which there is no possibility of revival within the old, but still prevailing, system. An externality of some sort – maybe war, or some other calamity or a Trump – is necessary to tip the congealed system ‘over’: thus, the external intrusion can be the catalyst for (often traumatic) transformational change.

Stockman puts it starkly: “the single most important thing to know about the present risk environment [he is pointing here to both the political risk as well as financial risk environment], is that it is extreme, and unprecedented. In essence, the ruling elites and their mainstream media megaphones have arrogantly decided that the 2016 [US Presidential] election was a correctible error”.

But complacency simply is endemic: “The utter fragility of the latest and greatest Fed bubble could not be better proxied than in this astounding fact. To wit, during the last 5,000 trading days (20 years), the VIX (a measure of market volatility) has closed below 10 on just 11 occasions. And 7 of those have been during the last month! … That’s complacency begging to be monkey-hammered”, Stockman says.

Former Presidential candidate, Pat Buchanan concurs: 

President Trump may be chief of state, head of government and commander in chief, but his administration is shot through with disloyalists plotting to bring him down.

We are approaching something of a civil war where the capital city seeks the overthrow of the sovereign, and [to achieve] its own restoration. Thus far, it is a nonviolent struggle, though street clashes between pro- and anti-Trump forces are increasingly marked by fistfights and brawls. Police are having difficulty keeping people apart. A few have been arrested carrying concealed weapons.

That the objective of this city is to bring Trump down, via a deep state-media coup, is no secret. Few deny it.”

The extraordinary successful ‘manufacture’ and ‘parachuting-in’ of Macron into the French Presidential election by the French élite, precisely has given to the globalised Deep State (including their US counterparts), renewed confidence that Europe and America’s slide towards ‘populism’, is indeed a ‘correctable error’. European élites now can barely contain their revived schadenfreude at the Brexiters’ and at the Populists’ presumed discomfort (see here).

But despite the palpable danger to the integrity of the political system itself, Stockman notes, 

it is no inconsiderable understatement to suggest that the S&P 500 at 2440 is about as fragile as the ‘market’ has ever been.

Any untoward pinprick could send it into a tailspin … Doug Kass said it best in his recent commentary: “Over history, as we have learned, a Minksy Moment develops when investor sentiment becomes complacent after long periods of prosperity and the data is ignored, and doesn’t seem to matter anymore, as I wrote in “It’s a ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Market: Nothing Really Matters … to investors.” In short, the market has become ‘zombie’ (in the sense of residing within a psychological defence mechanism – as, when to contemplate the alternative – simply is too threatening to the psyche) [emphasis added].

Daniel Henninger, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, writes: 

“Donald Trump’s election has caused psychological unhingement in much of the population. But the Trump phenomenon only accelerated forces that were plummeting in this direction before the 2016 election…

“Impossible to miss, though, is how jacked up emotional intensity has become in American politics. The campaign rallies of both Mr. Trump and Bernie Sanders often sat on the edge of violence. Reporters describe political town hall meetings as full of “angry” voters. Shouting down the opposition in these forums or on campus has been virtually internalized as standard behavior. Refusal to reason is the new normal. And then, the unreason is euphemized as free speech.

Explaining away these impulses as a routine turn of the populist political cycle is insufficient. Something more permanent is happening.”

It is not, of course just the markets which are threatened by unperceived risk. Trump shall not be forgiven for challenging the sacrosant meme of a world divided between (good) ‘liberal’ democracies (led by the US and its European allies) and (bad) illiberal autocracies (led today, by President Putin’s Russia): by snubbing Nato and withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, Professor Michael Klare writes, “we’ve been told, President Trump is dismantling the liberal world order created by Franklin D Roosevelt at the end of World War II”.

An offence, it seems, against something somehow sacral: recently, US comedienne Kathy Griffin posted a video of herself holding the bloody, severed head of Donald Trump. “But that wasn’t the end of it” Henninger notes. “We may assume that as Ms. Griffin was creating her video, the artists at New York’s Public Theatre, were rehearsing their production of Julius Caesar, the one in which Central Park audiences watch ‘Caesar’ as a blond-haired Donald Trump, who is pulled down from a podium by men in suits, and assassinated with plunging knives … Whatever once fastened the doors of people’s minds to something secure and stable has become unhinged.”

Mike Vlahos (Professor at the US Naval War college and John Hopkins) tells us that, as a military historian and global strategist, he became curious to know just why it is that ‘world systems’ do ‘come apart’. His first, intuitive sense was that their collapse generally was brought about by some massive external force such as war, pestilence or famine, and by the concomitant mass migrations of peoples.

But when he and his students completed their research, he concluded that though these factors had often played an important part, they were not the prime cause of the system coming apart. Rather, he identified a number of key triggers:

· The élites became stratified, and politics frozen

· The peoples’ allegiance became taken for granted, at the same time that the élites chose to ignore threats to the peoples’ way of life

· Social mobility declined, and change is fiercely resisted

· Rather, élites work to maximize their wealth and status.

· Elite authority becomes excessively militarized – and justified as ‘saving civilization’.

He concludes from this study, “the situation that we inhabit today […] here in the imperial city in Washington DC, is that it is absolutely hollowed out … it is incapable of offering anything to its own people, the American people … I think we have reached a point where there is no possibility of revival within the current system that exists. The current system is set upon … is determined to eat itself out in a kind of civil war that is coming, and at the end of that, it will be done, will be finished”.

The Methoni, one of the great nations of the late Bronze Age, had this same problem with the élites and the 1% that we have today, and they were overthrown. That’s 3300 years ago, and it keeps happening again and again. And the very structure of the decadent relationships in late periods where élites refuse to accommodate, refuse to adapt, refuse to be sensitive to needs of the larger whole of society, means this has to happen. There has to be an overthrow … for things eventually to get better, to be renewed. In other words, you can’t renew from within”.

Is this the situation today? The pre-conditions that Professor Vlahos relates, in terms of élite hubris, self-regard, and disdain for the real concerns of people are there (the polarization of US society at the US election provides the empirical evidence for this). And Stockman, in calling Trump the ‘Great Disrupter’ plainly implies that he might be precisely the ‘externality’ (coming from outside the élite) – that might tip things ‘over’. This surely is what Stockman means when he warns about ‘the present risk environment’ being extreme.

Of course, the usual retort is that Trump offers no coherent alternative conceptual vision for the future, but only seized successfully upon a number of key insights: the power of cultural nationalism, the pain felt by the casualties of globalism, the impact of a hollowed-out US economy, and the need to put America first. This is true. These insights do not constitute a vision for the future, but why should one expect that, from the ‘Disrupter’? His ‘agency’ is that of catalyst, not that of final ‘constructor’. That comes later.

So, from whence does ultimate societal renewal come? The classic answer is that after ‘disruption’ nothing much is left standing amidst the (metaphoric) ruins of whatever stood as the reigning ‘modernity’. Historically, renewal was effected through a communal ‘reaching back’- beyond the roots of whatever represented the contemporary crisis – to delve back, deep into the archetypal cultural history of a people. The rummaging in collective memory, allows a narrative to shape, about why the present ‘hurt’ befell its people, and to bring forward, transformed into contemporary meaning, some ‘solution’: a new meta-historical understanding.

Plainly, this (a type of spiritual renewal) is not President Trump’s ‘bag’. (Steve Bannon’s the more so, perhaps?)

What does all this mean in practical terms? 

First, it suggests that most of us still prefer not to address the stark reality that “the objective of this city (DC), is to bring Trump down, via a deep state-media coup” and the bitter political trench warfare, which this portends. We prefer to rest in complacency, (as zombies for now), until a crisis squarely hits us – in a personal way.

Secondly, thoughts of an easy return to the status quo ante (such as via Vice-President Pence standing-in), is problematic (Macron’s election in France notwithstanding). Since the élites (all of them), have, in their ‘war’ against ‘populists’ and deplorables, totally lost legitimacy and authority for a substantive part of their populations. And they will not – cannot – adapt. For, that is their nature. This is the moment, Professor Vlahos notes, when a system – i.e. US operational governance – begins to ‘come apart’. Individuals, cabals within government, whole departments of state, look to their own self-awarded ‘authority’, rather than to that of the government as mandated by the electorate.

Thus we have this past week, the Senate voting 97-2 to impose further sanctions on Russia. Another wrench jammed into Trump’s foreign policy wheels – and explicitly conceived to paralyse and impede the President.

Thirdly, the intent is – like some Amazonian reptile venom – to ‘bite’ him with so much innuendo and assorted investigations and further allegations, that Trump, like the reptile’s victim, remains awake – but incapable of moving a muscle: A true zombie, in fact, as the reptile feeds on its living corpse.

Fourth, this zombified US President, will shortly face the requirement to negotiate with Congress an exit from a bubbling financial sphere soaring upwards, whilst a moribund real economy trails downwards – under pressure from the fast-approaching debt-ceiling deadline. The Senate’s slap at the President’s face with the Russia sanctions vote suggests it is more likely that he will be tossed another spanner: this time aimed at the wheels of the ‘Trump reflation’ programme.

What other insights might history offer? Two, perhaps: Professor Vlahos, during his discussion with John Batchelor, the latter points out that, even at the very moment that the hub of the Roman Empire already had fallen apart, the collapsing Empire was celebrated the most, when it was imitated at the furthest edges of Empire: by the peoples of Gaul and Germany, for example. Are we not seeing the same today, in Europe, as Merkel and Macron vow to keep the liberal, globalist values of the American Empire alive — at the edges of the American Empire — in Europe?

And lastly, the constituency that historically led renewal? Professor Vlahos: “The Roman legions, the Czarist armies, the German Imperial armies and the Ottoman armies”.

The Pentagon élites should note well.