miércoles, 16 de diciembre de 2015

Retrocesos?


Da la impresión que el Imperio retrocedió bruscamente en cuestión de días, si no de horas, en aspectos básicos de su política exterior. Nos preguntamos qué está pasando. Las dos primeras noticias son de Zero Hedge. La ultima es de Russia Today:


Título: The Humiliation Is Complete: Assad Can Stay, Kerry Concedes After Meeting With Putin

Texto: Back on September 20 (so, a full ten days before a three star Russian general strolled into the US Embassy in Baghdad to let the US know that airstrikes in Syria “start in 1 hour”), we said that the US strategy in Syria had officially unraveled.

At the time, John Kerry had just concluded a meeting with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond in London. "For the last year and a half we have said Assad has to go, but how long and what the modality is, that's a decision that has to be made in the context of the Geneva process and negotiation,” Kerry told reporters after the meeting. "It doesn't have to be on day one or month one [and] there is a process by which all the parties have to come together and reach an understanding of how this can best be achieved."

“That this a far, far cry from the hardline rhetoric the US was still clinging to just months ago,” we said, adding that “it marks a tacit recognition of what should have been obvious from the very beginning: the US backed effort to assist Qatar and the Saudis in destabilizing the Assad regime was doomed from the start.”

About a month later, ahead of talks in Vienna, WSJ said the following about Washington's plans for Assad:

The Obama administration entered a crucial round of international talks on Syria’s war prepared to accept a deal that leaves President Bashar al-Assad in place for several months or more during the transition to a new government.

The U.S. shift on the dictator’s future caps months of backtracking on the most significant obstacle to a resolution of the Syrian conflict. While U.S. officials once argued Mr. Assad couldn’t take part in a political transition, they have gradually eased that stance, eventually signaling he wouldn’t have to step down immediately. Now they are planning to negotiate the question of his future in talks being held Friday in Vienna.

The solution Washington sought to broker would “not prejudge the Assad question,” a senior administration official told The Journal.

Of course the Assad "question" has already been "prejudged" - only not by Washington or any of its regional allies. As we've been at pains to explain, Tehran isn't going to allow a US puppet government to be installed in Damascus. It's out of the question. Losing Damascus to Washington and worse, to Riyadh, would severely impair Iran's supply lines to Hezbollah and roll back Iranian influence in the region. For Russia, the stakes are also high. Moscow now has an air base and a naval base in Syria and establishing a foothold in Syria is the first step for The Kremlin on the way to supplanting the US as Mid-East superpower puppet master. In short, even is Assad himself ultimately abdicate, the regime (and our apologies for anyone who finds that term pejorative) will remain in one form or another.

On Tuesday, Kerry was in Russia for talks with Vladimir Putin. As Foreign Policy notes, America's top diplomat was "wicked psyched" that he found a Dunkin Donuts in Moscow:

As for negotiations with Putin over Syria, it appears the humiliation is now complete.

As AP reports, "U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday accepted Russia's long-standing demand that President Bashar Assad's future be determined by his own people, as Washington and Moscow edged toward putting aside years of disagreement over how to end Syria's civil war."

"The United States and our partners are not seeking so-called regime change," Kerry said, adding that the focus is no longer "on our differences about what can or cannot be done immediately about Assad."

In a testament to the fact that mainstream media is beginning to understand just how weak America's negotiating position has become, AP offered the following rather sarcastic assessment:

President Barack Obama first called on Assad to leave power in the summer of 2011, with "Assad must go" being a consistent rallying cry. Later, American officials allowed that he wouldn't have to resign on "Day One" of a transition. Now, no one can say when Assad might step down.

Kerry also called demands by the "moderate" opposition that Assad step down before peace negotiations begin an "obvious nonstarter."

But even as Kerry and Sergei Lavrov hailed the talks as a "big negotiating day," Lavrov's de facto deputy, the sharp-tongued Maria Zakharova, stressed that "serious differences" remain between the US and Russia with regard to Syria.

One point of contention is Washington's insistence on differentiating between "moderate" and "non-moderate" elements operating to oust the Assad government. 

That and other pressing issues are expected to be discussed next week in New York at what Kerry says will be a "major international conference" on Syria.

As for relations between Moscow and Washington, Kerry said this: "There is no policy of the United States, per se, to isolate Russia."

Right. No "per se" policy. So in other words, it may not be an explicit, de jure mandate, but it sure as hell seems like a tacit, de facto foreign policy position.



***


Título: In Dramatic Reversal, US Vice President Biden Calls On Turkey To Withdraw Its Troops From Iraq

Texto: It has been a strange two days for US foreign policy.

Earlier today we reported that in what amounts to a significant blow to the official US position over Syria, namely the multi-year demands to replace president Assad with a western puppet ruler, John Kerry on Tuesday accepted Russia's long-standing demand that President Bashar Assad's future be determined by his own people, as Washington and Moscow edged toward putting aside years of disagreement over how to end Syria's civil war."

"The United States and our partners are not seeking so-called regime change," Kerry said, adding that the focus is no longer "on our differences about what can or cannot be done immediately about Assad."

In a testament to the fact that mainstream media is beginning to understand just how weak America's negotiating position has become, AP offered the following rather sarcastic assessment: "President Barack Obama first called on Assad to leave power in the summer of 2011, with "Assad must go" being a consistent rallying cry. Later, American officials allowed that he wouldn't have to resign on "Day One" of a transition. Now, no one can say when Assad might step down."

Kerry also called demands by the "moderate" opposition that Assad step down before peace negotiations begin an "obvious nonstarter."

All of the above, some may say, makes the US presence in Syria, whether through CIA covert ops, commandos, or even the Islamic State, moot: after all, if the US has folded on an Assad regime change, then there is no longer any point in continuing the proxy war, which revolves around one key issue: regime change in Syria.

But then something even more surprising happened.

Earlier today, Islamic State militants launched an attack on a military camp in northern Iraq where Turkish troops have been stationed. According to officials and press reports, seven Kurdish peshmerga fighters were killed and four Turkish troops were injured in the bombardment and rushed to a hospital in Sirnak, a Turkish province bordering Iraq, according to Anadolu Agency. A Kurdish Rudaw news agency report suggested that two of the trainees at the camp were killed and six wounded.

Turkey’s general staff said in a statement that Katyusha projectiles fell into the camp around 3 pm local time. Turkish troops returned fire following the attack according to Turkish officials, who provided no further details. Additionally, according to a report by a Kurdish news website, the Slemani Times, over 70 Turkish soldiers went missing after the attack.

The attack on Turkish soldiers by the Islamic State takes place two weeks after the Turkish military deployed troops in northern Iraq without preclearance from Iraq in what has been seen by some as a military invasion of sovereign territory and has become a major stumbling block in relations between Ankara and Baghdad. While Turkey claims the troops had been deployed at the invitation of the Iraqi government, Baghdad denies this, describing Ankara’s actions as an “incursion.”

But while the attack on the Turkish soldiers by those they allegedly invaded Iraq to fight may be seen as oddly ironic, the real surprise is what followed shortly thereafter.

Moments ago, the office of the Vice President released a readout of a phone call Joe Biden had with Iraq's PM Al-Abadi. The stunning part is that in a dramatic reversion of the NATO narrative on Turkey's incursion in Iraq as justified, Biden just called on Turkey to withdraw from Iraq.

Here is the full readout of Vice President Biden’s Call With Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi:

The Vice President spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi yesterday following his December 14 call with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. The Vice President noted the recent deployment of Turkish forces into northern Iraq had occurred without the prior consent of the Iraqi government. Both leaders welcomed initial indications of the withdrawal of some Turkish forces and agreed this should continue, reiterating that any foreign forces can only be present in Iraq with the coordination and permission of the Iraqi government. The Vice President reaffirmed the United States' commitment to Iraqi sovereignty and territorial integrity and called on Turkey to do the same by withdrawing any military forces from Iraqi territory that have not been authorized by the Iraqi government. The Vice President encouraged continued dialogue between Iraq and Turkey to address any outstanding grievances in the spirit of mutual cooperation. Both leaders reaffirmed their continued commitment to the fight against ISIL in Iraq.

So first the US backtracks on its core long-running demand that "Assad must go", and now it has just turned its back on a key NATO-member ally and what is allegedly the biggest provider of funding and supplies (including Ford F250 pick up trucks) to the Islamic State, Turkey.

Perhaps if only Putin, Lavrov, and Kerry had more staring contests such as this one...




... in which the latter invariably blinks, the world's geopolitical conflicts would be promptly resolved.



***



Título: IMF recognizes Ukraine’s contested $3bn debt to Russia as sovereign

Texto: The executive board of the International Monetary Fund has recognized Ukraine’s $3 billion debt to Russia as official and sovereign – a status Kiev has been attempting to contest. Russia is to sue Ukraine if it fails to pay by the December 20 deadline.

“In the case of the Eurobond, the Russian authorities have represented that this claim is official. The information available regarding the history of the claim supports this representation,” the IMF said in a statement.

Russia asked the IMF for clarification on this issue after Kiev attempted to proclaim the debt was commercial and refused to accept Moscow’s terms for the debt’s restructuring.

The December 2013 deal, which envisaged Moscow buying $15 billion worth of Ukrainian Eurobonds ($3 billion in the first tranche), was officially struck between Ukraine’s then-head of state President Viktor Yanukovich and President Vladimir Putin. In spite of this fact, some Ukrainian and US officials have been making statements contesting the status of the deal.

The sovereign status of the debt means Ukraine may have to declare default as early as December 20, when the deadline expires – unless Kiev responds to Moscow’s restructuring plan.

The IMF’s decision automatically came into effect on Wednesday evening, as no objections to treating the debt as sovereign had been voiced, TASS reported.

Putin had earlier ordered that a lawsuit be filed against Ukraine if it failed to pay its debt within a 10-day grace period following the deadline. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said last Wednesday that he didn’t believe Kiev was going to pay.

“I have a feeling that they [Ukraine] will not return anything [to us] because they are crooks,” Medvedev said in an interview with Russian TV channels. “They refuse to return the money and our Western partners not only render us no help, they are actually hindering our efforts.”

Meanwhile, the IMF decided on Tuesday to change its strict policy prohibiting the fund from lending “to countries that are not making a good-faith effort to eliminate their arrears with creditors.”

The decision was criticized by Moscow, as it will apparently allow the IMF to continue doing business as usual with Kiev even if it fails to pay its sovereign debt to Russia.

“We are concerned that changing this policy in the context of Ukraine’s politically charged restructuring may raise questions as to the impartiality of an institution that plays a critical role in addressing international financial stability,” Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov wrote in a Financial Times opinion piece.

Earlier, at the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey in November, Putin had proposed restructuring Ukraine’s debt. The proposed plan would have delayed Kiev’s default and allow it to repay $1 billion per year for three years, from 2016 to 2018. However, Moscow demanded guarantees from the US, the EU, or a key international financial organization that Ukraine would remain true to its word and follow the plan. Washington officially declined to do so.

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