miércoles, 17 de octubre de 2018

G-20 en Bs As

A un mes y medio de la reunión del G-20 en Buenos Aires, el panorama internacional viene más caldeado que nunca. El evento promete ser algo para alquilar balcones, sobre todo teniendo en cuenta la guerra de declaraciones que vienen desde el Imperio con un destinatario específico: China. La nota que sigue es de Pepe escobar para Asia Times:

Título: Welcome to the G-20 from Hell

Subtítulo: World leaders wrestle with a maelstrom of complex, burning issues as they prepare for November 30 summit

Texto: The G-20 in Buenos Aires on November 30 could set the world on fire – perhaps literally. Let’s start with the US-China trade war. Washington won’t even start discussing trade with China at the G-20 unless Beijing comes up with a quite detailed list of potential concessions.

The word from Chinese negotiators is not at all bleak. Some sort of agreement could be reached on about a third of US demands. Debate on another third could ensue. But the last third is absolutely off-limits – due to Chinese national security imperatives, such as refusing to allow the opening of the domestic cloud computing market to foreign competition.

Beijing has appointed Vice-Premier Liu He and Vice-President Wang Qishan to supervise all negotiations with Washington. They face an uphill task: to pierce through President Donald Trump’s limited attention span.

On top of it, Beijing demands a “point person” with the authority to negotiate on behalf of Trump – considering the mixed-message traffic jam out of Washington.

Now compare this with the message coming from the research institute fabulously named Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era under the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC): the US has started the “trade friction” essentially “to hinder China’s industrial upgrading.”

That’s the consensus at the top.

And the clash is bound to get worse. Vice President Mike Pence accused China of “meddling in American democracy,” “debt diplomacy,” “currency manipulation,” and “IP theft.” The Foreign Ministry in Beijing dismissed it all as “ridiculous.”

It’s enlightening to pay close attention to what Foreign Minister Wang Yi told the Council on Foreign Relations – as diplomatically as possible: “China will follow a path of development different from historical powers.” And China will not seek hegemony.

From the point of view of the US National Security Strategy, that’s irrelevant; China has been framed as a fierce competitor and even a threat. President Xi Jinping will not cave in to Washington’s trade demands. So expect a possible non-meeting between Xi and Trump in Buenos Aires.

The threat of a nuclear first strike

Things look even hairier on the Russian front. For all of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s Taoist patience, Moscow’s diplomatic circles are exasperated by serious American threats – as in the US Navy possibly enforcing a blockade to restrict Russia’s energy trade. Or worse: the ultimatum that Russia must stop developing a missile that according to Washington violates the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, otherwise the Pentagon will destroy it.

This is as serious as it gets – because it amounts to committing to a US nuclear first strike.

In parallel, BP CEO Bob Dudley told the Oil & Money conference in London that any additional US sanctions against top Russian energy companies would be disastrous. “If sanctions were put on Rosneft or Gazprom or Lukoil like what happened with Rusal, you would virtually shut down the energy systems of Europe, it is a bit of an extreme thing to happen,” he said.

On the BRICS front, Russia and India deftly maneuvered on their own and managed to squash some US geostrategic planning against the three major poles of Eurasia integration: Russia, China and Iran.

The Quad – US, Japan, Australia, India – was conceived to box in China across the Indo-Pacific, in parallel to confining Russia’s margin of maneuver. The Quad is not exactly in sterling form after India decided to buy Russian S-400 missile systems. Trump has promised revenge.

On top of the S-400 deal, Russian companies will be building six additional nuclear reactors in India, at a cost of $20 billion each, over the next decade. Rosneft signed a 10-year deal to sell India 10 million tons of oil a year. And India will continue to buy oil from Iran, paying for it in rupees.

On the EU front, it’s all about Germany. There are few illusions in Berlin about the EU’s wobbly future. The export-centered German economy is focused on Asia. Germany is doubling down on solidifying an Asian-style model – a few large companies that are national champions able to turbo-charge exports. The US market – under protectionist winds – now is just an afterthought.

Toxic tropics

Then there’s the Brazilian tragedy. President Mauricio Macri ruined Argentina with a neoliberal shock. The nation is now a hostage of the IMF.

A possible scenario is a G-20 in which Argentina will be learning how to deal with a fascist leading its close neighbor and top trade partner, Brazil.

Former paratrooper Jair Bolsonaro may be xenophobic and mysoginistic, but is certainly not a nationalist. The self-billed tropical “Messiah” routinely salutes the US flag. His economic hit man is a Chicago Boy bent on selling the country out – much to the delight of “investors” and “market” experts from New York and Zurich to Rio and Sao Paulo.

Forget about creating jobs or even attempting to solve Brazil’s immense social problems: acute social inequality, pressing investments in health and education, urban insecurity. Bolsonaro’s only “policy” is to weaponize the population in a Mad Max remix.

Everything under Bolsonaro should proceed under the unmitigated reign of a Hobbesian “free” market. Forget about any possibility of a moderating state intervention in the complex relations between Capital and Labor.

This is the apex of a complex process unleashed years ago in Brazil via think tanks such as the Atlas Network, loads of money and, last but not least, an evangelical/neo-pentecostal tsunami.

The pillars of the Brazilian carnage are powerful agro-business and mineral exploitation interests, toxic Brazilian mainstream media, evangelicals, a financial sector totally subservient to Wall Street, the weapons industry, the completely politicized judiciary, the police, intel services, and the armed forces.

And the stars of the show are of course the Beef-Bible-Bullet combo – with their scores of Congress members – overseen by the Goddess of the Market.

Neoliberalism never wins elections in Brazil. So the only way to implement “reforms” is via a sub-Pinochet. Expect widespread social-environmental havoc, indiscriminate killing of rural and native Brazilian leaders, an unmitigated bonanza for the weapons industry, banks celebrating Christmas every week, abysmal cultural repression, total denationalization of the economy, and workers and pensioners paying for all these “reforms.” Call it business as usual.

Bolsonaro’s fascist tendencies were normalized not only by the powers that be in Brazil. Argentina’s Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie qualified him as a “center-right” politician.

Beijing and Moscow – for BRICS reasons – and the EU in Brussels are appalled by Brazil’s descent into the maelstrom. Russia and China were counting on a strong Brazil contributing to a multipolar world as during the time of Lula, who was a major BRICS driving force.

For the EU, it is hard to stomach a fascist leading their top trading partner in Latin America, and the heart of Mercosur. For the Global South as a whole, the implosion of Brazil, one of its leaders, is an unmitigated tragedy.

Now picture Washington as a raging compendium of threats and sanctions. An EU fractured to the hilt – denouncing Asian illiberalism while impotent to fight the “rise of the deplorables” at home. BRICS in disarray, with two in a serious clash with Washington, one out of the game and one on the fence – among the top four. The House of Saud rotting from the inside. Iran not even at the G-20 table. Time to sing What a Wonderful World.

martes, 16 de octubre de 2018


La Iglesia Ortodoxa Rusa acaba de romper lazos con el Patriarcado de Constantinopla, en lo que se interpreta como el mayor cisma cristiano desde 1054, cuando se separaron católicos y ortodoxos. Los motivos tienen que ver con Ucrania y muchos sospechan la mano oculta de Occidente. Las dos notas que siguen son de Russia Today:

Título: Biggest split in modern Orthodox history: Russian Orthodox Church breaks ties with Constantinople

Texto: In the biggest rift in modern Orthodox history, the Russian Orthodox Church has cut all ties with the Constantinople Patriarchate, after it accepted a breakaway division of Ukrainian Orthodox Church as independent.

The Holy Synod, the governing body of the Russian Orthodox Church, has ruled that any further clerical relations with Constantinople are impossible, Metropolitan Hilarion, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church’s External Relations Department, told journalists, de facto announcing the breach of relations between the two churches.

A decision about the full break of relations with the Constantinople Patriarchate has been taken at a Synod meeting” that is currently been held in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, Hilarion said, as cited by TASS.

The move comes days after the Synod of the Constantinople Patriarchate decided to eventually grant the so-called autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, thus making the clerical organization, which earlier enjoyed a broad autonomy within the Moscow Patriarchate, fully independent.

The Moscow Patriarchate also said that it would not abide by any decisions taken by Constantinople and related to the status of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. “All these decisions are unlawful and canonically void,” Hilarion said, adding that “the Russian Orthodox Church does not recognize these decisions and will not follow them.”

At the same time, the Russian Church expressed its hope that “a common sense will prevail” and Constantinople will change its decision. However, it still accused the Ecumenical Patriarch of initiating the “schism.”

Schism in Orthodox Church between Moscow and Constantinople has just become official.This is much more than a break of diplomatic relations,and will last very long.What is really important now is what will happen on the ground in Ukraine,&what form developments there will take.

The move taken by Moscow marks arguably the greatest split in the history of the Orthodox Church since the Great Schism of 1054, which separated Catholics and Orthodox Christians, as it involves a break of communion between the biggest existing Orthodox Church – the Moscow Patriarchate – and Constantinople Patriarch, who is widely regarded as a spiritual leader of world’s Orthodox Christians, even though his status is nothing like that of the Pope in the Roman Catholic Church.

Constantinople’s decision seems to be serving the interests of the Ukrainian leadership rather than the Orthodox Christians living there. While most Orthodox clerics in Ukraine still pledge loyalty to the head of the Russian church, Patriarch Kirill, and consider themselves to be part of the Russian Orthodox Church, Kiev actively supports a schismatic force, which has been unrecognized by any other Churches until now.

This religious movement led by the former Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, who is now called Patriarch Filaret in Ukraine, has sought to gain the status of an independent Orthodox Church, “equal” to the Moscow Patriarchate, since 1990s. Meanwhile, it did not hesitate to seize Moscow Patriarchate’s churches by force.

In its October decision, the Holy Synod of the Constantinople Patriarchate “canonically reinstated” Filaret and his followers “to their hierarchical or priestly rank” and restored their communion with the Church, thus effectively declaring that it does not see them as schismatic. This particular move also provoked angry reaction in the Moscow Patriarchate.

A schism remains a schism. And the leaders of a schism remain as such,” Hilarion said, adding that “a Church that recognized schismatic [priests] and entered into communion with them … excluded itself from the canonical field of the Orthodox Church.

He also named restitution of Filaret’s and his followers’ hierarchical or priestly ranks as one of the major reasons behind the Russian Orthodox Church Holy Synod’s decision to break all ties with Constantinople.

According to TASS, 40 churches have been forcefully seized by the Kiev Patriarchate between 2014 and 2016. In the first half of 2018 alone, Ukraine witnessed 10 new attacks on Russian Orthodox Churches. Now, as Constantinople is launched a procedure of granting independence to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, such attacks might further intensify, some experts warn.


Una nota previa de RT, del 14 de Septiembre pasado, decía lo siguiente:

Título: Biggest rift in modern Orthodox history? Russian Church won’t work w/ Constantinople-chaired bodies

Texto: The Russian Orthodox Church is ending its participation in any structures chaired by the Constantinople Patriarchate, the Holy Synod said, as Constantinople decided to recognize the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

We have decided to suspend joint performance of church services with the hierarchs of the Constantinople Patriarchate, to suspend our membership in all structures, which are headed or co-chaired by the representatives of Constantinople,” Metropolitan Hilarion, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church’s External Relations Department, said following an extraordinary meeting of the Holy Synod, the governing body of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The decision does not mean that the two churches are completely severing ties, Hilarion told journalists, adding that the decision refers only to the Moscow Patriarchate’s participation in the work of some inter-church organizations.

The measures taken by the Russian Church so far are a “warning” to Constantinople, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill’s press secretary told journalists. Earlier, Hilarion warned that the Russian Orthodox Church could break all relations with the Constantinople Patriarchate if it grants independence to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is still part of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Inter-church collision

The move follows Constantinople’s decision to send its exarchs to Kiev, which violates the rule that forbids one Orthodox Church to interfere in the internal affairs of another, the synod said earlier, adding that it also goes against the official position of the Constantinople Patriarchate itself, which has so far considered the Ukrainian Orthodox Church a part of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Exarchs are special representatives of a patriarch that have a higher position in the church hierarchy than a metropolitan, the current head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. The Russian Orthodox Church regards Constantinople’s decision as the first step towards recognizing the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Even though all independent Orthodox Churches are equal, the Constantinople Patriarchate has more leverage on inter-church issues due to its historical location and its role as the Mother Church of most modern Orthodox churches. The Constantinople Patriarch also enjoys the status of the ‘first among the equals’ and is widely regarded as a spiritual leader of world’s Orthodox Christians, even though his status is nothing like that of the Pope in the Roman Catholic Church.

Political schism?

Most Orthodox clerics in Ukraine still pledge loyalty to the head of the Russian church, Patriarch Kirill, and consider themselves to be part of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Ukrainian authorities, however, support a schismatic force, which originated back in the 1990s and calls itself the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate.

Unrecognized by all other Orthodox Churches, this religious movement led by the former Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, who is now called Patriarch Filaret in Ukraine, seeks to gain the status of an Orthodox Church, which is fully independent and “equal” to the Moscow Patriarchate. Meanwhile, it has taken Ukrainian churches from the Russian Orthodox Church by force with the help of local nationalists.

The attacks on the Russian Orthodox Churches in Ukraine intensified following the 2014 coup. According to TASS, 40 churches have been forcefully seized by the Kiev Patriarchate between 2014 and 2016. In the first half of 2018 alone, Ukraine witnessed 10 new attacks on Russian Orthodox Churches.

In September, Metropolitan Hilarion already denounced Kiev’s attempts to achieve independence for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church by saying that the issue has nothing to do with real religious affairs and has become a hostage of Kiev’s political gambling. The Ukrainian authorities just need some “big success” ahead of the upcoming presidential election to reduce public tensions, he told Rossiya 24 TV on September 3.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, meanwhile, branded the Russian Orthodox Church itself a “security threat” as he sought independence for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Constantinople’s latest move also follows Kiev’s request for independence.

domingo, 14 de octubre de 2018

Relaciones especiales

Las "relaciones especiales" entre los EEUU y el Reino Unido han marcado buena parte de la geopolítica global desde el fin de la última Guerra Mundial. Algunos piensan que ha ido demasiado lejos. El autor de la nota que sigue es James George Jatras para el sitio web The Strategic Culture Foundation:

Título: Britain On The Leash With The United States... But At Which End?

Texto: The “special relationship” between the United States and the United Kingdom is often assumed to be one where the once-great, sophisticated Brits are subordinate to the upstart, uncouth Yanks.

Iconic of this assumption is the mocking of former prime minister Tony Blair as George W. Bush’s “poodle” for his riding shotgun on the ill-advised American stagecoach blundering into Iraq in 2003. Blair was in good practice, having served as Bill Clinton’s dogsbody in the no less criminal NATO aggression against Serbia over Kosovo in 1999.

On the surface, the UK may seem just one more vassal state on par with Germany, Japan, South Korea, and so many other useless so-called allies. We control their intelligence services, their military commands, their think tanks, and much of their media. We can sink their financial systems and economies at will. Emblematic is German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s impotent ire at discovering the Obama administration had listened in on her cell phone, about which she – did precisely nothing. Global hegemony means never having to say you’re sorry.

These countries know on which end of the leash they are: the one attached to the collar around their necks. The hand unmistakably is in Washington. These semi-sovereign countries answer to the US with the same servility as member states of the Warsaw Pact once heeded the USSR’s Politburo. (Sometimes more. Communist Romania, though then a member of the Warsaw Pact refused to participate in the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia or even allow Soviet or other Pact forces to cross its territory. By contrast, during NATO’s 1999 assault on Serbia, Bucharest allowed NATO military aircraft access to its airspace, even though not yet a member of that alliance and despite most Romanians’ opposition to the campaign.)

But the widespread perception of Britain as just another satellite may be misleading.

To start with, there are some relationships where it seems the US is the vassal dancing to the tune of the foreign capital, not the other way around. Israel is the unchallenged champion in this weight class, with Saudi Arabia a runner up. The alliance between Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) – the ultimate Washington “power couple” – to get the Trump administration to destroy Iran for them has American politicos listening for instructions with all the rapt attention of the terrier Nipper on the RCA Victor logo. (Or did, until the recent disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Whether this portends a real shift in American attitudes toward Riyadh remains questionable. Saudi cash still speaks loudly and will continue to do so whether or not MbS stays in charge.)

Specifics of the peculiar US-UK relationship stem from the period of flux at the end of World War II. The United States emerged from the war in a commanding position economically and financially, eclipsing Britannia’s declining empire that simply no longer had the resources to play the leading role. That didn’t mean, however, that London trusted the Americans’ ability to manage things without their astute guidance. As Tony Judt describes in Postwar, the British attitude of “superiority towards the country that had displaced them at the imperial apex” was “nicely captured” in a scribble during negotiations regarding the UK’s postwar loan:

In Washington Lord Halifax

Once whispered to Lord Keynes:

“It’s true they have the moneybags

But we have all the brains.”

Even in its diminished condition London found it could punch well above its weight by exerting its influence on its stronger but (it was confident) dumber cousins across the Pond. It helped that as the Cold War unfolded following former Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s 1946 Iron Curtain speech there were very close ties between sister agencies like MI6 (founded 1909) and the newer wartime OSS (1942), then the CIA (1947); likewise the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ, 1919) and the National Security Administration (NSA, 1952). Comparable sister agencies – perhaps more properly termed daughters of their UK mothers – were set up in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. This became the so-called “Five Eyes” of the tight Anglosphere spook community,infamous for spying on each others’ citizens to avoid pesky legal prohibitions on domestic surveillance.

Despite not having two farthings to rub together, impoverished Britain – where wartime rationing wasn’t fully ended until 1954 – had a prime seat at the table fashioning the world’s postwar financial structure. The 1944 Bretton Woods conference was largely an Anglo-American affair, of which the aforementioned Lord John Maynard Keynes was a prominent architect along with Harry Dexter White, Special Assistant to the US Secretary of the Treasury and Soviet agent.

American and British agendas also dovetailed in the Middle East. While the US didn’t have much of a presence in the region before the 1945 meeting between US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Saudi King ibn Saud, founder of the third and current (and hopefully last) Saudi state – and didn’t assume a dominant role until the humiliation inflicted on Britain, France, and Israel by President Dwight Eisenhower during the 1956 Suez Crisis – London has long considered much of the region within its sphere of influence. After World War I under the Sykes-Picot agreement with France, the UK had expanded her holdings on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, including taking a decisive role in consolidating Saudi Arabia under ibn Saud. While in the 1950s the US largely stepped into Britain’s role managing the “East of Suez,” the former suzerain was by no means dealt out. The UK was a founding member with the US of the now-defunct Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) in 1955.

CENTO – like NATO and their one-time eastern counterpart, the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) – was designed as a counter to the USSR. But in the case of Britain, the history of hostility to Russia under tsar or commissar alike has much deeper and longer roots, going back at least to the Crimean War in the 1850s. The reasons for the longstanding British vendetta against Russia are not entirely clear and seem to have disparate roots: the desire to ensure that no one power is dominant on the European mainland (directed first against France, then Russia, then Germany, then the USSR and again Russia); maintaining supremacy on the seas by denying Russia warm-waters ports, above all the Dardanelles; and making sure territories of a dissolving Ottoman empire would be taken under the wing of London, not Saint Petersburg. As described by Andrew Lambert, professor of naval history at King's College London, the Crimean War still echoes today:

"In the 1840s, 1850s, Britain and America are not the chief rivals; it's Britain and Russia. Britain and Russia are rivals for world power, and Turkey, the Ottoman Empire, which is much larger than modern Turkey — it includes modern Romania, Bulgaria, parts of Serbia, and also Egypt and Arabia — is a declining empire. But it's the bulwark between Russia, which is advancing south and west, and Britain, which is advancing east and is looking to open its connections up through the Mediterranean into its empire in India and the Pacific. And it's really about who is running Turkey. Is it going to be a Russian satellite, a bit like the Eastern Bloc was in the Cold War, or is it going to be a British satellite, really run by British capital, a market for British goods? And the Crimean War is going to be the fulcrum for this cold war to actually go hot for a couple of years, and Sevastopol is going to be the fulcrum for that fighting."

Control of the Middle East – and opposing the Russians – became a British obsession, first to sustain the lifeline to India, the Jewel in the Crown of the empire, then for control of petroleum, the life’s blood of modern economies. In the context of the 19th and early 20th century Great Game of empire, that was understandable. Much later, similar considerations might even support Jimmy Carter’s taking up much the same position, declaring in 1980 that “outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.” The USSR was then a superpower and we were dependent on energy from the Gulf region.

But what’s our reason for maintaining that posture almost four decades later when the Soviet Union is gone and the US doesn’t need Middle Eastern oil? There are no reasonable national interests, only corporate interests and those of the Arab monarchies we laughably claim as allies. Add to that the bureaucracies and habits of mind that link the US and UK establishments, including their intelligence and financial components.

In view of all the foregoing, what then would policymakers in the United Kingdom think about an aspirant to the American presidency who not only disparages the value of existing alliances – without which Britain is a bit player – but openly pledges to improve relations with Moscow? To what lengths would they go to stop him?

Say ‘hello’ to Russiagate!

One can argue whether or not the phony claim of the Trump campaign’s “collusion” with Moscow was hatched in London or whether the British just lent some “hands across the water” to an effort concocted by the Democratic National Committee, the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, the Clinton Foundation, and their collaborators at Fusion GPS and inside the Obama administration. Either way, it’s clear that while evidence of Russian connection is nonexistent that of British agencies is unmistakable, as is the UK’s hand in a sustained campaign of demonization and isolation to sink any possible rapprochement between the US and Russia.

As for Russiagate itself, just try to find anyone involved who’s actually Russian. The only basis for the widespread assumption that any material in the Dirty Dossier that underlies the whole operationoriginated with Russia is the claim of Christopher Steele, the British “ex” spy who wrote it, evidently in collaboration with people at the US State Department and Fusion GPS. (The notion that Steele, who hadn’t been in Russia for years, would have Kremlin personal contacts is absurd. How chummy are the heads of the American section of Chinese or Russian intelligence with White House staff?)

While there are no obvious Russians in Russiagate there’s no shortage of Brits. These include (details at the link):

- Andrew Wood, a former British ambassador to Russia

- Stefan Halper, a dual US-UK citizen.

- Ex-MI6 Director Richard Dearlove.

- Robert Hannigan, former director of GCHQ; there is reason to think surveillance of Trump was conducted by GCHQ as well as by US agencies under FISA warrants. Hannigan abruptly resigned from GCHQ soon after the British government denied the agency had engaged in such spying.

- Alexander Downer, Australian diplomat (well, not British but remember the Five Eyes!).

- Joseph Mifsud, Maltese academic and suspected British agent.

At present, the full role played by those listed above is not known. Release of unredacted FISA warrant requests by the Justice Department, which President Trump ordered weeks ago, would shed light on a number of details. Implementation of that order was derailed after a request by – no surprise – British Prime Minister Theresa May. Was she seeking to conceal Russian perfidy, or her own underlings’?

It would be bad enough if Russiagate were the sum of British meddling in American affairs with the aim of torpedoing relations with Moscow. (And to be fair, it wasn’t just the UK and Australia. Also implicated are Estonia, Israel, and Ukraine.) But there is also reason to suspect the same motive in false accusations against Russia with respect to the supposed Novichok poisonings in England has a connection to Russiagate via a business associate of Steele’s, one Pablo Miller, Sergei Skripal's MI6 recruiter. (So if it turns out there is any Russian connection to the dossier, it could be from Skripal or another dubious expat source, not from the Russian government.) Skripal and his daughter Yulia have disappeared in British custody. Moscow flatly accuses MI6 of poisoning them as a false flag to blame it on Russia.

A similar pattern can be seen with claims of chemical weapons use in Syria: “We have irrefutable evidence that the special services of a state which is in the forefront of the Russophobic campaign had a hand in the staging” of a faked chemical weapons attack in Douma in April 2018. Ambassador Aleksandr Yakovenko pointed to the so-called White Helmets, which is closely associated with al-Qaeda elements and considered by some their PR arm: “I am naming them because they have done things like this before. They are famous for staging attacks in Syria and they receive UK money.” Moscow warned for weeks before the now-postponed Syrian government offensive in Idlib that the same ruse was being prepared again with direct British intelligence involvement, even having prepared in advance a video showing victims of an attack that had not yet occurred.

The campaign to demonize Russia shifted into high gear recently with the UK, together with the US and the Netherlands, accusing Russian military intelligence of a smorgasbord of cyberattacks against the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) and other sports organizations, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the Dutch investigation into the downing of MH-17 over Ukraine, and a Swiss lab involved with the Skripal case, plus assorted election interference. In case anyone didn’t get the point, British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson declared: “This is not the actions of a great power. This is the actions of a pariah state, and we will continue working with allies to isolate them.”

To the extent that the goal of Williamson and his ilk is to ensure isolation and further threats against Russia, it’s been a smashing success. More sanctions are on the way. The UK is sending additional troops to the Arctic to counter Russian “aggression.” The US threatens to use naval power to block Russian energy exports and to strike Russian weapons disputed under a treaty governing intermediate range nuclear forces. What could possibly go wrong?

In sum, we are seeing a massive, coordinated hybrid campaign of psy-ops and political warfare conducted not by Russia but against Russia, concocted by the UK and its Deep State collaborators in the United States. But it’s not only aimed at Russia, it’s an attack on the United States by the government of a foreign country that’s supposed to be one of our closest allies, a country with which we share many venerable traditions of language, law, and culture.

But for far too long, largely for reasons of historical inertia and elite corruption, we’ve allowed that government to exercise undue influence on our global policies in a manner not conducive to our own national interests. Now that government, employing every foul deception that earned it the moniker Perfidious Albion, seeks to embroil us in a quarrel with the only country on the planet that can destroy us if things get out of control.

This must stop. A thorough reappraisal of our “special relationship” with the United Kingdom and exposure of its activities to the detriment of the US is imperative.

jueves, 11 de octubre de 2018

¿Corrección a la vista?

Una linda mañanita para los mercados del mundo. Pánico. Nueva York no abrió todavía. Algunos dicen que esto recién empieza. La nota que sigue es de Zero Hedge:

Título: "It's Just Beginning": US Futures Plunge As Global Rout Hammers Asia, Europe

Texto: It is a sea of blood red this October morning as the biggest market rout since February and the longest selloff of the Trump administration triggered a surge of global selling from the U.S. through Asia and spreading to Europe on Thursday, with markets from Tokyo to London slumping amid fresh fears the decade-old bull market may be coming to an end.

Equity markets are locked in a sharp sell-off, with concern around how far yields will rise, warnings from the IMF about financial stability risks and continued trade tension all driving uncertainty,” summed up analysts at ANZ.

The sell-off that started in the U.S. ripped across Asian stock markets Thursday, with indexes in Japan, Hong Kong and China all tumbling.

All but one stock listed on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average retreated, while the country’s Topix index posted its steepest decline since March losing around $207 billion in market value, falling 3.5%. China’s Shanghai Composite sank 5.2%, its biggest drop since February 2016 to close at its lowest since November 2014, while the Hang Seng Index lost 3.5%. Taiwan’s Taiex index led the rout with a 6.3% slump.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index had its worst day since June 2016, when the U.K. voted to leave the EU, with the index plunging 3.5% and closing in on entering a bear market.

Turbulence spiked in Asian markets as the Nikkei Stock Average Volatility Index surged 44%. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index ex Japan closed down 3.6%, hitting its lowest level since March 2017. China’s main indexes had slumped over 5 percent

The Asian regional benchmark gauge has slumped 13 percent this year as uncertainties such as the U.S.-China trade war weigh on investor sentiment. The Shanghai Composite Index has lost 22 percent in 2018, while Japan’s Topix is down 6.4 percent.

"It’s just a beginning," said Banny Lam, head of research at CEB International Investment. "The U.S. tech bubble may take a while to burst and we are facing many external uncertainties - trade wars, risks in emerging markets currencies and oil price. And people should also watch yuan closely."

"Asia is like a leveraged play on the U.S. market and the global trade situation right now, that’s not going to change until a deal is reached between the two largest economies in the world,” said Olivier d’Assier, head of applied research for the Asia-Pacific region at Axioma. For emerging markets, “the trifecta of a falling U.S. market, higher U.S. interest rates, and a stronger dollar is a deadly combination so they are likely to remain under pressure.”

The Asian rout then spread to Europe, where stocks slumped to a more than an 18-month low. Losses in London, Paris and Milan were already climbing toward 2% in early trading, although the selloff wasn't quite as dramatic as the overnight session in Asia. Italian equities entered a bear market, however, on ongoing budget concerns and LeasePlan Group NV pulled a planned IPO.

As a result of the global rout, MSCI’s 24-country emerging market index was having its worst day since early 2016, after Wall Street’s swoon had given the 47-country world index equivalent its worst day since February.

Meanwhile, in a surprising reversal from previous routs, US futures failed to rebound as dip buyers stayed away from the E-Mini. S&P futures extended losses from Wednesday, when the Nasdaq 100 Index plunged more than 4% for its worst day in seven years.

The futures drop took place after the S&P500’s sharpest one-day fall since February wiped out around $850 billion of wealth as technology shares tumbled on fears of slowing demand. The S&P 500 ended Wednesday with down 3.29%, wiping out nearly half the year's gains in one session; the Nasdaq Composite plunged 4.08% and the Dow 2.2%.

"The latest drop is reminiscent of February’s selling, which saw its recovery assisted by positive earnings results," said Jingyi Pan, a market strategist at IG Asia Pte. “As for the upcoming earnings season commencing with major U.S. banks on Friday, the outlook is rather mixed thus adding to the uncertainty. It will be one worth watching for aid to the market given the proximity and it will be difficult to rule out further decline in the market absent positive factors.”

Investors seeking to isolate the cause of the current rout in equities have no shortage of culprits: U.S companies are increasingly fretting the impact of the burgeoning trade war, while the same concern prompted the IMF to dial down global growth expectations for the first time in 2 years. In the tech sector, which was a key driver of the rally that pushed American equities to a record just a month ago, expensive-looking companies have been roiled by a hacking scandal.

At the same time, the Federal Reserve has been trimming its balance sheet and raising interest rates which as "well below" the neutral rate of interest according to Powell, which in turn provoked the ire of President Donald Trump and helping force a repricing of riskier assets. Trump, who has claimed credit for record U.S. stock levels, said after the market closed on Wednesday that the Fed is "loco", that it is making a “mistake” and “has gone crazy.”

Commenting on the recent move, Saxo Capital strategist Eleanor Creagh said that "the sharp rise in U.S. 10-year yields has caused investors to suddenly reprice the impact of moving from post-crisis low yields to a rising rate environment. We have the global growth engines, price of energy rising, price of money rising and quantity of money falling combined with the ongoing trend of de-globalization which has started to impact markets and the cracks are showing.

Curiously, Treasuries which helped trigger the stock selloff when 10-year yields hit the highest since 2011, nudged higher after jumping on Wednesday as bonds have once again become a safe haven. It meant that as equities were caught in a global carnage, US Treasurys were oddly calm, with the 10Y generally unchanged overnight.

The rise in Treasury yields has been the primary catalyst for the sell-off in equities, since higher yields suggest a lower present value of future dividend streams, assuming an unchanged economic outlook,” said Steven Friedman, senior economist at BNP Paribas Asset Management. “It is also possible that equity investors are growing concerned that the Federal Reserve’s projected rate path will choke off the expansion.”

Meanwhile, Italian bonds sold off again as Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini once again said the populist government will stick with its budget plan and that rating agencies "won't make us change our minds", though the country successfully sold new debt. Asked about possible downgrade by ratings agencies and concerns about spread with German bunds, Salvini said "we’ve already seen this movie in the past, it’s forced Italians to make incredible sacrifices, to have cuts on schools and reforms on health and pensions which impoverished,” adds “we will do exactly the opposite.”

It remains to be seen whether the accelerating equity plunge is a healthy correction or the tip of the iceberg,” Commerzbank analysts said in a note. “For sure it creates a more challenging environment for today’s (Italian) auctions.”

Meanwhile, bunds and gilts led advances amid the broader risk-off mood.

The shift in yields is also sucking funds out of emerging markets, putting particular pressure on the Chinese yuan as Beijing fights a protracted trade battle with the United States. China's central bank has been allowing the yuan to gradually decline, breaking the 6.9000 barrier and allowing traders to push the dollar up to 6.9431.

China’s move has forced other emerging-market currencies to weaken to stay competitive and drawn the ire of the United States, which sees it as an unfair devaluation. “The yuan has already weakened significantly, to offset the tariffs announced so far,” said Alan Ruskin, Deutsche’s global head of G10 FX strategy. “Further weakness could exacerbate concerns of a self-fulfilling flight of capital and a loss of control.”

Still, there was little sign of panic in currencies, where the euro gained and dollar weakened versus most of its major counterparts. The Swedish krona was the standout gainer, jumping after inflation data. The Turkish lira and rand rallied, but emerging currencies overall edged lower. The euro was at $1.1550 up from a low of $1.1429 early in the week. The dollar lapsed to 112.14 yen, a retreat from last week's 114.54 peak. That left the dollar at 95.263 against a basket of currencies

Sinking global shares have raised the stakes for U.S. inflation figures due later on Thursday. High inflation would only stoke speculation of more aggressive rate hikes from the Federal Reserve.

In commodity markets, gold struggled to get any safety bid and edged down to $1,192.77. Oil prices skidded in line with U.S. equity markets, even though energy traders worried about shrinking Iranian supply from U.S. sanctions and kept an eye on Hurricane Michael, which shut down some U.S. Gulf of Mexico oil output. Brent crude fell 1.6 percent to $81.75 a barrel. U.S. crude dropped 1.5 percent to $72.07. A Bloomberg index of cryptocurrencies dropped as much as 11%.

Scheduled earnings include Walgreens and Delta Air Lines. CPI figures, jobless claims are among economic data due.

Finally, one wonders just what is it about October, when half of the biggest US market crashes have taken place.

Market Snapshot

&P 500 futures down 1% to 2,753.75
STOXX Europe 600 down 1.4% to 361.75
MXAP down 3.5% to 151.91
MXAPJ down 3.7% to 473.27
Nikkei down 3.9% to 22,590.86
Topix down 3.5% to 1,701.86
Hang Seng Index down 3.5% to 25,266.37
Shanghai Composite down 5.2% to 2,583.46
Sensex down 1.6% to 34,218.05
Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 2.7% to 5,883.76
Kospi down 4.4% to 2,129.67
German 10Y yield fell 3.9 bps to 0.513%
Euro up 0.2% to $1.1547
Brent Futures down 1.1% to $82.16/bbl
Italian 10Y yield rose 2.9 bps to 3.133%
Spanish 10Y yield rose 1.2 bps to 1.625%
Brent Futures down 1.1% to $82.16/bbl
Gold spot up 0.2% to $1,197.28
U.S. Dollar Index down 0.2% to 95.33
Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

The biggest stock sell-off since February rolled from the U.S. through Asia on Thursday, with benchmarks from Tokyo to Hong Kong seeing declines in excess of 3 percent. Some emerging- market currencies also came under pressure, with the won hitting a one-year low
A sell off in Hong Kong and Chinese shares deepened following a slump in U.S. equities amid concerns about a trade war

President Donald Trump slammed the Federal Reserve as “going loco” for its interest-rate increases this year. His latest criticism of the Fed began earlier Wednesday. “They’re so tight. I think the Fed has gone crazy,” the president said

Wall Street is bracing for the prospect that the U.S. uses this month’s semiannual foreign-exchange report to label China a currency manipulator. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde says yuan weakness has a lot to do with dollar strength

Brexit negotiators are edging toward a compromise on the thorniest issue in talks. The main sticking point is how to keep the Irish border open after Brexit

Asian stocks drowned in a sea of red following the battered lead from Wall St. amid a sell-off in tech stocks where the sector posted its worst day since 2011. Dow and S&P notched their biggest one-day drop since early February, while Nasdaq fell below its 200 DMA to experience its largest single-day decline since June 2016. ASX 200 (-2.5%) was dragged lower by the tech sector, closely followed by the energy names, while Nikkei 225 (-4.0%) plumbed the depths amid weakness in mining and energy names alongside currency effects. Elsewhere, Hang Seng (-3.7%) and Shanghai Comp. (-4.3%) dived deeper into bear-market territory in a continuation of the tech sell-off, with the former hitting lows last seen in February while the latter tumbled to 4-year lows.

Top Asian News

India’s Sensex on Verge of Losing Yearly Gain Amid Global Rout
Wave of Reforms Coming as Indonesia Confronts Weak Currency
China Urges U.S. to Address Trade Differences by Talks
IMF Says Pakistan Has Formally Requested Financial Assistance

Major European indices are all in the red due to the global market turmoil which began on Wednesday in U.S markets (Euro Stoxx 50: -1.3%), the cause has been quoted as a multitude of factors not limited to; US-China trade tensions, the current yield environment, the Italian political situation and suggestions that the markets were overdue a correction. 

However, it is yet to be seen whether this is part of a broader economic downturn as we enter into U.S earning season with a relatively solid U.S economic backdrop. All sectors are down with energy firms down by over 2% in fitting with price action in the complex. 

Healthcare and consumer staples are the best performing sectors as more defensive investments are sought in the risk-off environment, but are both in the red by just under 1% 

Dialog Semiconductor is vastly outperforming, up over 23%, following a EUR 600mln deal with Apple, which has led to the company updating their revenue outlook for the next 4 years. Ingenico are also up over 12% after confirmation that Natixis (-4.5%) are in the early stages of take over discussions. Hays Plc are at the bottom of the Stoxx 600, down by 12% after reporting a slower quarterly growth rate.

Top European News

London Housing Is Taking a Beating From From Brexit Uncertainty
Russia Targets 25% Global Energy Market Share: La Stampa
Merlin Says Report on El Corte Ingles Talks ‘Unfounded’
Semis Are Worst Hit as Tech Stock Sell-off Extends in Europe
Italy’s FTSE MIB Is Set to Enter Bear Market on Budget Concerns
In FX, the EUR is firmly back above 1.1500 vs the Usd and pivoting 1.1550 within a higher range flanked by hefty option expiry interest (1.8 bn at the 1.1500 strike and 2.3 bn from 1.1600-20), while also facing chart resistance in the 1.1572-91 region that houses a daily top, 55 DMA and Fib. Fundamentally, not much to glean from latest ECB comments, but the minutes may provide something to trade off. In EM, the Lira stands out amidst broad rebounds vs the Dollar across the region as Usd/Try crosses the 6.0000 handle to the downside on a combination of more concerted efforts to get runaway Turkish inflation back down towards target and a wider than forecast current account surplus. Elsewhere, the Rand and Real also have data to digest in the form of SA manufacturing production and Brazilian retail sales that might deflect some attention away from domestic politics, for a while at least. SEK - Hot on the heels of its Scandi peer, the Sek has seized pole position on the G10 grid and extended gains on the back of relatively hawkish Riksbank rhetoric, as Swedish CPI and CPIF readings also topped market expectations. In response, December rate hike odds have narrowed to better than evens, while Eur/Sek is testing psychological support circa 10.4000 ahead of the nearest downside tech level around 10.3725 (early October low)

In commodities, both WTI and Brent are down by 2% at just under USD 72/bbl and USD 82/bbl respectively with prices hampered by the risk-off environment as investors are concerned following global growth uncertainty and ongoing trade disputes. This comes alongside API’s reporting a larger than expected headline build of +9.75mln offering pressure on the fossil fuel. Supply concerns from Hurricane Michael are also easing as oil assets were likely spared significant damage from the storm. Gold is up 0.3% as investors seek safe havens from the current global dip, gold has subsequently breached USD 1200/oz to the upside. Base metals also fell again amidst the broader global risk sentiment with underperformance seen in copper.

US Event Calendar

8:30am: US CPI MoM, est. 0.2%, prior 0.2%; CPI Ex Food and Energy MoM, est. 0.2%, prior 0.1%
8:30am: US CPI YoY, est. 2.4%, prior 2.7%; CPI Ex Food and Energy YoY, est. 2.3%, prior 2.2%
8:30am: Real Avg Weekly Earnings YoY, prior 0.52%; Real Avg Hourly Earning YoY, prior 0.2%
8:30am: Initial Jobless Claims, est. 206,500, prior 207,000; Continuing Claims, est. 1.66m, prior 1.65m
9:45am: Bloomberg Consumer Comfort, prior 61.6
DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

Days like yesterday, although brutal, restore one’s belief that at this stage of the rate cycle things should start to get more difficult and more volatile even if the center (the US economy) is still likely to hold for now. In fact it’s been our thesis that the US economy at risk of overheating is partly what’s going to drive volatility up. So with that in mind today’s US CPI comes at a fascinating point.

Before reviewing that let’s review the wreckage from yesterday. The S&P 500 (-3.28%) and DOW (-3.15%) both had their worst days since the February market correction and the NASDAQ (-4.08%) shed the most since June 2016. The S&P 500 has now traded lower for 5 consecutive sessions, shedding -4.77% over that period, its longest such stretch since March.

Every S&P 500 sub-sector traded lower amid generalised risk-off sentiment, but the FANGs (-5.60%) continued to underperform, saw their worst day since March and are now down -17.86% from their June peak. Volatility spiked, with the VIX index up 7.01pts and closing at its highs around 22.96, a six-month high. Using another measure of vol, this year we’ve now had 6 days with the S&P 500 falling more than 2% - the most since 2011. 2017 had none. Perhaps tellingly, Treasuries yields were higher all day until a mini plunge started with 10 minutes left of US equity trading. They traded around -4.3bps lower for the day at 3.164% at the close. In Asia overnight they are at 3.147% as we type. US HY had been the most expensive part of the credit spectrum in our view and was at 9 month tights 2 weeks ago but has been selling off of late. CDX HY widened 18.1bps yesterday and is now around 46.7bps wider than the late September tights and back nearer the top end of the YTD range.

On the equity sell off the big names in the US administration had their say. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, “the fundamentals of the U.S. economy continue to be extremely strong, I think that’s why the stock market has performed as well as it has. The fact that there’s somewhat of a correction given how much the market has gone up is not particularly surprising” while President Trump also said that the stocks decline was “a correction that we’ve been waiting for for a long time.” However, Trump stepped up his rhetoric on Fed saying that it is making a “mistake” by raising rates and “has gone crazy” while adding that yesterday’s market plunge wasn’t because of the US trade war with China.

This morning in Asia, the risk off sentiment has continued from Wall Street with all equity indices trading in sea of red and bumping around the lows for the session as we type. The Nikkei (-4.28%), Hang Seng (-3.74%), Shanghai Comp (-4.34%), ASX (-2.40%) and Kospi (-3.61%) are all down but in these fast markets things might have changed again by the time you read this. In other markets, Taiwan’s Taiex (-6.23%), India’s Nifty (-2.78%) and Indonesia’s Jakarta Comp (-1.67%) are all heading lower. Elsewhere, futures on S&P 500 are down another -0.66%. Overnight, BoJ board member Makoto Sakurai called for the central bank to assess the sustainability of its easing policy from a much wider perspective indicating that the policy tweaks in July haven’t put to bed concerns over side effects. She said that the BoJ needed to keep in mind the risk of distortions building up in the economy and the financial sector if the easing policy is prolonged in a favorable economic environment with demand exceeding supply.

Today will be a key test for markets with US CPI set to dominate attention. The consensus doesn’t expect much to happen, but then again it rarely has for this data print over the last few years. The consensus forecast is again at +0.2% mom for the core for the 36th successive month. DB is at +0.25% mom so we think it could round up to 0.3%. Before the recent risk-off, I would have automatically said that the downside risks to the market from an upside inflation print were much larger than the upside market risks from a downside surprise. However, given the recent risk sell-off, you’d have to say that there is scope for a decent relief rally on a softer number. Medium-term though, signs of higher inflation would be much worse for risk than softer inflation would be positive.

Back to yesterday and in Europe a number of markets hit YTD lows with the DAX (-2.21%) at the lowest since February 2017 and experiencing the 5th worst day of the year. The Stoxx 600 (-1.61%) was at the lowest since March. The FTSEMIB (-1.71%) actually held in well relative to the market, though it did reach a fresh 20-month low. 10yr BTPs only rose 3.0bps and only slightly widened to Bunds (+0.5bps). The S&P fell -1.82% after Europe closed so there should be some additional catch up this morning.

On Italy, Moody’s chief economist, Mark Zandi said that it is logical that the market concerns about Italy will be reflected in ratings agencies’ upcoming reviews of the country. He added that the Italian government’s fiscal plan can be compared to gambling with the long-term fiscal and economic health of Italy. Elsewhere, Italian Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini said that he won’t go back on pension reform and tax cuts in budget plan while adding he is “absolutely sure” that the BTPs-bunds spread won’t reach 400bps. It’s hard to know how he can control for both of these. In the meantime Finance Minister Tria reiterated more of same at his parliament hearing saying “the rise in government bond yields recorded in the last few days is certainly a reason for concern, but I want to reiterate that it was an excessive reaction which is not justified by the fundamentals of Italy’s economy and public finances.”

On Brexit it was another eventful day. Media reports highlighted that the UK and EU officials engaged in talks indicated that the UK government is likely to back down on opposition to new regulatory checks on some items moving between the British mainland and Northern Ireland while, in exchange, the UK is seeking the EU to compromise and allow the whole of the UK, not just Northern Ireland, to stay in the bloc’s customs regime until a future trade deal is eventually drawn up between the two sides. The officials  indicated that the discussions over the next few days could lead to provisional agreement between the EU and the UK over the issue of the Irish backstop on Monday. The chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier confirmed this positive movement, saying "a deal is  within reach." Elsewhere, the UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s de-facto deputy, David Lidington, said in an interveiw that “we’ve got a fair way to go still. There are still differences between our position and that of the European Commission, but we’re working very hard to overcome them.”

Looking at the data releases from yesterday. In US, September PPI and core PPI both printed in line with consensus at +0.2% mom, rising for the first time in 3 months largely on the back of higher airfares (+5.5% mom; highest since 2009) and rail-transportation costs (+1.4% mom; highest since 2012). Overall, services prices increased +0.3% mom while the cost of goods fell -0.1% mom, reflecting declines in both food and energy. The core-core PPI stood at +0.4% mom (vs. +0.2% mom expected).

Across the pond in Europe, France’s August industrial production came in at +0.3% mom (vs. +0.1% mom expected) while the previous months was revised upwards to +0.8% mom from +0.7% mom and manufacturing production came in at +0.6% mom (vs. +0.1% mom expected). Industrial production also rose in Italy (+1.7% mom), Spain (+0.7%), and the Netherlands (+1.7%). These prints are likely distorted due to new regulations, but the trend signals healthy IP growth of around 1% for the euro area overall. In the UK, the August three month GDP change came in at +0.7% 3m/3m (vs. +0.6% 3m/3m expected) with August GDP remaining flat as against consensus of +0.1% mom. The UK’s August visible trade balance stood at -£11.2bn (vs.-£10.9bn expected) while the trade balance came in at -£1.3bn (vs. -£1.2bn expected). UK’s August industrial production came in at +0.2% mom (vs. +0.1% mom expected), manufacturing production at -0.2% mom (vs. +0.1% mom expected) and construction output at -0.7% mom (vs. -0.5% mom expected).

Before the US CPI print today, we'll get CPI revisions in France and Spain. Later this morning, the Bank of England will publish its latest credit conditions and bank liabilities survey. The ECB will publish the minutes of its September policy meeting this afternoon, while BoE Governor Carney will speak on a panel alongside Banque de France Governor Villeroy. Concurrent with the US CPI, the latest weekly jobless claims will print.

miércoles, 10 de octubre de 2018

Perspectiva sobre Siria

Para el autor de la nota que sigue, las perspectivas de la guerra en Siria dependen de las próximas elecciones de Noviembre en el corazón del Imperio. El artículo es de Thierry Meyssan para Red Voltaire

Título: Relaciones internacionales. ¿Qué tempestad pudiera sobrevenir después de la calma?

Epígrafe: Todos los problemas internacionales están en suspenso, en espera de las elecciones legislativas estadounidenses. Los partidarios del antiguo orden internacional apuestan por un cambio de mayoría en el Congreso de Estados Unidos y una rápida destitución del presidente Trump. Si el inquilino de la Casa Blanca logra mantenerse en ella, los promotores de la guerra contra Siria tendrán que admitir su derrota y buscar otros campos de batalla. Pero si Trump pierde la elección, el Reino Unido reactivará de inmediato el conflicto en Siria.

Texto: El actual periodo, que se inició con el anuncio de la respuesta rusa al derribo de su avión militar Ilushin-20 y debe terminar con las elecciones legislativas estadounidenses del 6 de noviembre, está plagado de incertitudes. Todos los protagonistas de la guerra en Siria están en espera de saber si la Casa Blanca podrá continuar su política de ruptura con el actual orden internacional o si el Congreso pasará a hallarse bajo el control de la oposición y tratará de destituir al presidente Trump.

Los orígenes de la guerra

Ya está claro que el proyecto inicial de Estados Unidos, Reino Unido, Israel, Arabia Saudita y Qatar no podrá concretarse. Como tampoco podrán concretarse los proyectos de Francia y de Turquía, dos potencias que entraron tardíamente en guerra contra Siria.

Si algo debemos recordar imperativamente no es lo que creímos ver al inicio de los acontecimientos sino lo que hemos descubierto desde entonces.

Al principio nos presentaban las manifestaciones de Deraa como una «revuelta espontánea» ante la «represión de una dictadura». Hoy sabemos que aquellos hechos fueron preparados desde mucho antes [1].

Por otro lado, no podemos seguir creyendo que todos los miembros de una coalición, aunque se unan para alcanzar un mismo objetivo, comparten la misma estrategia. Sea cual sea el grado de influencia de cada uno de ellos, cada Estado sigue teniendo su propia historia, sus propios intereses y sus propios objetivos de guerra.

Estados Unidos aplicaba la estrategia del almirante Arthur Cebrowski –la destrucción de las estructuras mismas de los Estados en los países del Medio Oriente ampliado, o Gran Medio Oriente [2]. Para concretar esa estrategia, Estados Unidos se apoyaba en el Reino Unido, que a su vez aplicaba la estrategia de Tony Blair tendiente a poner la Hermandad Musulmana en el poder en esa región [3].

Estados Unidos se apoyaba también en Israel, que a su vez retomaba la estrategia de dominación sobre la región que habían trazado Oded Yinon [4] y David Wurmser [5]. Arabia Saudita se encargó de almacenar previamente las armas para la revuelta de Deraa en la mezquita Omar [6] y Qatar inventó la historia de los niños sirios torturados por «el régimen».

En aquel momento, Arabia Saudita no trataba de imponer a Siria un cambio de política, ni siquiera trataba de derrocar el gobierno sirio. Lo único que quería Riad era impedir que una personalidad no sunnita fuese presidente en Siria. En una extraña evolución histórica, los wahabitas –que hace 2 siglos consideraban herejes tanto a los sunnitas como a los chiitas, hoy se erigen en defensores de los sunnitas y exterminadores de chiitas.

En cuanto a Qatar, este pequeño emirato estaba simplemente vengándose por la interrupción de su proyecto de gasoducto, que debía pasar a través de Siria [7].

Francia, a pesar de que los acuerdos de Lancaster House estipulaban su participación en el complot contra Siria, fue mantenida al margen debido a las iniciativas imprevistas que había tomado en Libia. El entonces ministro francés de Exteriores, Alain Juppé, trató de empujar a Francia a que se uniera a los conspiradores, pero el embajador francés en Damasco, Eric Chevalier, veía en el terreno la diferencia entre la realidad y la versión distorsionada de los hechos que se difundía… y se negaba de plano a colaborar con los intervencionistas [8].

Cuando Francia fue admitida nuevamente entre los conspiradores contra Siria, lo que hizo fue perseguir su propio objetivo de 1915 –colonizar ese país– en concordancia con los acuerdos Sykes-Picot-Sazonov. El mandato francés sobre Siria había sido considerado transitorio, en relación con la colonización de Argelia [9]. De la misma manera, en el siglo XXI es considerado secundario en relación con el control del Sahel. Al mismo tiempo, en un intento por concretar su viejo compromiso, París empuja además a la creación de un “hogar nacional” kurdo, siguiendo el esquema de lo que los británicos hicieron con los judíos en Palestina en 1917. Para eso, París se alió con Turquía –mediante un Acuerdo franco-turco, firmado en 2011 por Alain Juppé y Ahmet Davutoglu, que nunca se ha publicado–, país que, invocando el «Juramento Nacional» de Ataturk [10], invade el norte de Siria para crear allí un Estado hacia donde poder expulsar después a los kurdos de Turquía.

Si bien los objetivos de guerra de los 4 primeros agresores son compatibles entre sí, los objetivos de los 2 últimos no son compatibles con los demás.

Por otra parte, Francia, el Reino Unido y Turquía son 3 antiguas potencias coloniales. Estos tres países tratan de imponer cada uno su poder sobre un mismo trono. Por consiguiente, la guerra contra Siria reaviva sus rivalidades pasadas.

El episodio “Daesh” en medio de la guerra contra Siria e Irak

A finales de 2013, el Pentágono revisó sus planes en el marco de la estrategia de Cebrowski. Y modificó sus planes iniciales –los que habían sido revelados por Ralph Peters [11]–, reemplazándolos por el plan, revelado por la investigadora estadounidense Robin Wright, de creación de un «Sunnistán» que debía abarcar territorios pertenecientes a Siria e Irak [12].

Sin embargo, en septiembre de 2015, el despliegue militar ruso en Siria, destinado a contrarrestar la creación de un «Sunnistán» por parte del Emirato Islámico (Daesh) arruinó los proyectos de los 6 principales promotores de la guerra.

Los 3 años de guerra que siguieron después respondían a otro objetivo: por un lado, crear un nuevo Estado en territorios pertenecientes a Irak y Siria, en el marco de la estrategia de Cebrowski, y, por otro lado, utilizar a Daesh para cortar la «ruta de la seda» que la China de Xi Jinping quería reactivar y mantener así la dominación «occidental» sobre la región.

La victoria de Siria y Rusia y el cambio de posición de Estados Unidos

El derribo de un avión militar ruso Ilushin-20, el 17 de septiembre de 2018, dio a Rusia la posibilidad de poner fin a esta prolongada guerra y de ponerse de acuerdo con la Casa Blanca en contra de los demás agresores. Se trata de una repetición, a menor escala, de la reacción común de la Unión Soviética y Estados Unidos durante la crisis de Suez, en 1956 [13].

No sólo Moscú acaba de entregar al Ejército Árabe Sirio varias baterías de misiles antiaéreos S-300 sino que además ha desplegado todo un sistema de vigilancia integral automatizada del espacio aéreo. Cuando este dispositivo entre en operaciones y los oficiales sirios hayan recibido la formación necesaria para utilizarlo, en 3 meses como máximo, las fuerzas aéreas de las potencias occidentales ya no podrán seguir sobrevolando Siria sin autorización del gobierno de Damasco [14].

El presidente Trump había anunciado de antemano que pensaba retirar las tropas estadounidenses presentes en Siria. Pero la presión del Pentágono lo hizo cambiar de posición. Acordó entonces con sus generales mantener la presión sobre Damasco mientras Estados Unidos esté excluido de las negociaciones de paz de Sochi. El despliegue del nuevo armamento ruso –probablemente con el previo acuerdo de la Casa Blanca– dio al presidente Trump la posibilidad de obligar el Pentagono a retroceder. El Pentágono retiraría entonces las fuerzas estadounidenses pero mantendría a sus mercenarios locales –los kurdos y árabes de las llamadas «Fuerzas Democráticas Sirias» (FDS) [15].

El ministro de Exteriores de la República Árabe Siria, Walid el-Mouallem, exigió desde la tribuna de la Asamblea General de la ONU la retirada inmediata e incondicional de las fuerzas extranjeras que Estados Unidos, Francia y Turquía mantienen ilegalmente en suelo sirio [16].

Si Estados Unidos se retira, Francia y Turquía no podrán mantenerse en suelo sirio. La aviación de Israel tampoco podrá seguir sobrevolando y bombardeando el territorio de la República Árabe Siria. Y el Reino Unido ya se replegó.

Pero Tel Aviv, París y Ankara aún abrigan la esperanza de que el presidente Trump pierda las elecciones legislativas del 6 de noviembre y que un Congreso con mayoría demócrata lo destituya. Así que están esperando el resultado de ese fatídico escrutinio antes de decidir qué hacer.

Si Donald Trump gana las elecciones legislativas y se mantiene la mayoría republicana en el Congreso estadounidense, aparecerá otra interrogante. Si las potencias occidentales se ven obligadas a renunciar a la guerra en Siria, ¿dónde van continuar a su guerra sin fin?

Si hay una realidad en la que concuerdan todos los expertos es que la clase dirigente occidental se ha vuelto tan engreída y revanchista que no puede aceptar verse relegada a un papel de segundo nivel por las nuevas potencias asiáticas.

Lo sabio sería que, al ver que han perdido la guerra, los agresores se retiren. Pero la predisposición intelectual de los occidentales les impide hacerlo. La guerra no terminará en esta parte del mundo hasta que hayan encontrado un motivo de conflicto en otra parte.

Sólo el Reino Unido ha previsto su respuesta. Ya es evidente que aunque Londres mantiene su presión diplomática sobre Siria a través del «Pequeño Grupo» (Small Group), su atención ya está centrada en la reactivación del «Gran Juego», que enfrentó la Corona británica con el imperio del Zar a lo largo de todo el siglo XIX. Después de haber inventado el «Caso Skripal», siguiendo el modelo de la «Carta de Zinoviev» –conocida también como el “Telegrama de Zinoviev”– [17], Londres acaba de sorprender in fraganti a la inteligencia exterior rusa cuando esta trataba de descubrir lo que se tramaba contra su país tras las paredes de la Organización para la Prohibición de las Armas Químicas (OPAQ).

El «Gran Juego» es una doctrina geopolítica que no depende de los acontecimientos que utiliza como pretexto. Fue la estrategia del Imperio británico y el Reino Unido vuelve a ella como consecuencia del Brexit y de la política de «Global Britain». Como en el siglo XIX, esta configuración anti-rusa se verá acompañada en definitiva por una rivalidad exacerbada entre Londres y París. Por el contrario, un fracaso de Theresa May, un retroceso del Brexit y el mantenimiento del Reino Unido en la Unión Europea anularían todas esas variantes.

Si bien Francia se plantea ahora abandonar el Medio Oriente para concentrarse en el Sahel, la posición de Estados Unidos es mucho más problemática. A partir del 11 de septiembre de 2001, el Pentágono ha venido gozando de cierta autonomía. Los comandantes de los 10 Mandos Unificados de Combate de las fuerzas armadas estadounidenses no pueden recibir órdenes del jefe del Estado Mayor Conjunto sino sólo del secretario de Defensa [18]. Con el tiempo, esos diez comandantes se han convertido en verdaderos “virreyes” del Imperio estadounidense, con prerrogativas que no están dispuestos a dejarse quitar por el presidente Trump. Algunos, como el comandante del US SouthCom, designado en Latinoamérica como el “Comando Sur”, pretenden seguir adelante con la estrategia del almirante Cebrowski, a pesar de las órdenes de la Casa Blanca. [19]

Subsisten, por consiguiente, muchas fuentes de incertitud. Lo único seguro es lo sucedido con Daesh. Durante 3 años, las potencias occidentales dijeron luchar contra ese grupo terrorista… mientras le enviaban armas. Hoy en día, Trump ha ordenado poner fin al experimento tendiente a crear el Estado abiertamente terrorista que fue el Califato de Daesh, y las fuerzas armadas de Siria, con la importante contribución de Rusia, han logrado rechazar a los yihadistas. Las potencias occidentales no quieren que sus otrora entrañables «rebeldes moderados», a los que ahora califican de «terroristas», se replieguen hacia Occidente. O sea, aunque no lo digan, quieren verlos morir en Siria.

Las próximas elecciones legislativas estadounidenses dirán si la guerra se mantiene en Siria o si se desplaza hacia otro campo de batalla.


[1] «Agresión disfrazada de guerras civiles», por Thierry Meyssan, Red Voltaire, 27 de febrero de 2018.

[2] The Pentagon’s New Map, Thomas P. M. Barnett, Putnam Publishing Group, 2004. «El proyecto militar de Estados Unidos para el mundo», por Thierry Meyssan, Haïti Liberté (Haití) , Red Voltaire, 22 de agosto de 2017.

[3] “Tony Blair speech at the World Affairs Council in Los Angeles”, por Tony Blair, Voltaire Network, 1º de agosto de 2006. When Progressives Treat with Reactionaries. The British State’s flirtation with radical Islamism, Martin Bright, Policy Exchange, septiembre de 2004. “I had no choice but to leak”, Derek Pasquill, New Statesman, 17 de enero de 2008.

[4] «Une stratégie pour Israël dans les années 80», por Oded Yinon, Kivunim (Israel), Réseau Voltaire, febrero de 1982.

[5] El plan A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm, Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, julio de 2006, ha sido atribuido a sus firmantes, principalmente a Richard Perle y Douglas Feith. Pero, según el propio Douglas Feith, el texto fue redactado por David Wurmser y los firmantes no tuvieron la posibilidad de modificarlo. Ver “Credit for Israel Report Clarified”, Douglas Feith, Washington Post, 16 de septiembre de 2004.

[6] Ver la entrevista del general saudita Anwar Al-Eshki realizada por la BBC, en 2011. https://youtu.be/EGu3sh4MMK8.

[7] “Syria’s Pipelineistan war”, Pepe Escobar, Al-Jazeera, 6 de agosto de 2012. “Syria intervention plan fueled by oil interests, not chemical weapon concern”, Nafeez Ahmed, The Guardian, 30 de agosto de 2013. “Syria attraction: Russia moving into Eastern Mediterranean oil bonanza”, William Engdhal, Russia Today, 13 de enero de 2014. “Why the Arabs don’t want us in Syria”, Robert Kennedy Jr, Politico, 23 de febrero de 2016.

[8] «Alain Juppé acusado por su propia administración de haber falsificado los informes sobre Siria», Red Voltaire, 22 de marzo de 2012.

[9] France, Syrie et Liban 1918-1946: Les ambiguïtés et les dynamiques de la relation mandataire, Nadine Méouchy, Presses de IFPO, 2013.

[10] «Juramento Nacional turco», Red Voltaire, 28 de enero de 1920.

[11] “Blood borders – How a better Middle East would look”, Coronel Ralph Peters, Armed Forces Journal, 1º de junio de 2006.

[12] “Imagining a Remapped Middle East”, Robin Wright, The New York Times Sunday Review, 8 de septiembre de 2013.

[13] «¿Y ahora qué? ¿Sanciones de Moscú y Washington contra Londres, París y Tel Aviv?», por Thierry Meyssan, Red Voltaire, 25 de septiembre de 2018.

[14] «¿Qué implica la creación de una gestión integrada moderna del espacio aéreo sirio?», por Valentin Vasilescu, Red Voltaire, 3 de octubre de 2018.

[15] “Trump eyeing Arab ‘boots on the ground’ to counter Iran in Syria”, Travis J. Tritten, Washington Examiner, 29 de septiembre de 2018.

[16] “Remarks by Walid Al-Moualem to the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly”, por Walid Al-Moualem, Voltaire Network, 29 de septiembre de 2018.

[17] «Caso Skripal, ¿la mentira que colma la copa?», por Michael Jabara Carley, Strategic Culture Foundation (Rusia), Red Voltaire, 28 de abril de 2018.

[18] Las fuerzas armadas estadounidenses están estructuradas en 10 Mandos Unificados de Combate (Unified Combatant Command, UCC). Seis de esos Mandos Unificados de Combate se ocupan del control de las tropas que Estados Unidos mantiene permanentemente en las zonas del mundo asignadas a cada uno de ellos. Cada uno de esos 6 Mandos se encarga además de la coordinación y control de las fuerzas que participan en las operaciones militares que Estados Unidos pueda emprender en la región del mundo designada, según la jerga del Pentágono, como su «área de responsabilidad». Por ejemplo, el US SouthCom, con sede en Miami, tristemente conocido en Latinoamérica como “Comando Sur”, tiene bajo su mando todas las tropas que Estados Unidos mantiene en sus bases de Sudamérica, América Central y el Caribe, así como las fuerzas y medios navales, aéreos o terrestres que el Pentágono decida desplegar allí en el marco de maniobras u operaciones de combate. Lo mismo sucede con el US EuCom, cuya «área de responsabilidad» abarca toda Europa. Nota de la Red Voltaire.

[19] Sobre el caso específico del comandante del “Comando Sur”, ver el documento “Plan to overthrow the Venezuelan Dictatorship – “Masterstroke””, por Kurt W. Tidd, Voltaire Network, 23 de febrero de 2018; y el artículo «El “Golpe Maestro” de Estados Unidos contra Venezuela (Documento del Comando Sur)», por Stella Calloni, Red Voltaire, 9 de mayo de 2018.