jueves, 31 de agosto de 2017

La India como problema

Algunos indicios sugieren que la India será un problema para el proyecto de integración euroasiática. Básicamente a partir del boicot a las iniciativas chinas en áreas como infraestructura, desarrollo económico y comercial. ¿Por qué? La nota que sigue es de William Engdahl para Red Voltaire:

Título: Has Narenda Modi Switched Sides?

Epígrafe: Over the past few months, India has changed its attitude abruptly on several issues. It is as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trying to sabotage his rapprochement with China and Pakistan and to create artificial conflicts. For William Engdhal, this shift would be inspired by Washington and Tel Aviv.

Texto: It’s very discomforting to see the nation of India, one of the great potential leading countries of the world systematically self-destruct. Provoking a new war with China over remote chunks of land in the high Himalayas where the borders of China’s Tibet Autonomous Region converge with India and the Kingdom of Bhutan, is only the latest example. The question posed is who or what grand design is behind India’s foreign and domestic policies under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Has Modi switched sides? If so to whom? .

Eurasian Harmony?

Only a year ago all seemed if not serene, well, then on its way to peaceful development with Modi’s Asian neighbors including China and even, cautiously, Pakistan.

Just last year India, alongside Pakistan, were accepted as formal members of the increasingly important Shanghai Cooperation Organization where China is a founding member along with Russia, raising hopes that the common SCO format would permit peaceful resolution of simmering border tensions created by the 1947 British partition of India into a dominant Muslim Pakistan and a majority Hindu India with several unresolved friction areas including Kashmir and slyly left by Mountbatten as future explosion points.

India is also a member along with China in the BRICS organization which just created a BRICS New Development Bank in Shanghai whose President is an Indian. India is also a member of the China-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. And until Modi announced India’s refusal to join the May 14 Beijing conference of the China One Belt, One Road, India was also a participant in the vast Eurasian infrastructure project.

OBOR Boycott, Japan ‘Freedom Corridor’

How quickly things have changed. Modi announced his refusal to participate in the May 14 China OBOR conference citing the Chinese investment in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC, a $62 billion highway, rail and port infrastructure development between China and Pakistan as part of China’s OBOR, which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Then, with surprising haste, India unveiled a vision document for Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) at the ongoing African Development Bank meeting in Gujarat, in a joint project with Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The Indo-Japan AAGC document is an explicit part of a so-called Indo-Pacific Freedom Corridor being put in place by India and Japan to counter China’s OBOR, using Japanese money and Indian established presence in Africa [1].

Under Abe, Japan has signed on to an increasingly aggressive anti-China agenda including over the disputed Diaoyu Islands called Senkaku Islands by Japan in the East China Sea.As well Japan has opted to install US missile defense systems and under Abe is regarded as the strongest US military ally in Asia. When Abe met Trump this February, the US President reaffirmed terms of the US-Japan mutual defense treaty and made clear that the treaty extended to disputed islands in the East China Sea–the Senkaku or the Diaoyu as the barren islands are called in China.

Modi in Washington, Tel Aviv

Weeks later, on June 27 India’s Prime Minister Modi met with the US President in Washington. The day prior, conveniently, the US State Department announced designation of Pakistan-based Kashmiri leader of the militant Kashmir Valley Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Mohammad Yusuf Shah, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT). That designation permits US sanctions on Pakistan among other things [2].

As a result of the Modi-Trump talks, the US agreed to sell India 22 of its Guardian drones, a so-called game-changer, for up to $3 billion. Other items included expanded military cooperation and Indian agreement to buy US shale gas LNG. Modi seemed so pleased with his Washington talks that he invited the President’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, to lead the US delegation to Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) later this year in India [3].

Still glowing from his clear Washington political success, India’s Modi flew to Israel July 7 for an unprecedented meeting of an Indian head of government in Israel with an Israeli Prime Minister.

The talks between Modi and Benjamin Netanyahu were hailed in Indian media as a major shift in Indian foreign policy.

Here is where it gets seriously interesting. There has been a secret collaboration including offices in India between Israel’s Mossad intelligence and India’s CIA, called RAW going back to the 1950’s. In 2008 Israel’s Ambassador to India, Mark Sofer revealed that Israeli intelligence had provided the Indian Army with vital satellite imagery during India’s 1999 “Kargil War” with Pakistan that allowed India to precisely bomb Pakistani troop positions who had occupied posts in India’s Kargil district in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir [4].

The Dubious Role of Ajit Doval

The July Modi visit to Tel Aviv had been months in preparation. Already end of February Modi sent his National Security Advisor Ajit Doval to Tel Aviv to discuss details of the trip. There Doval met with Yosef Cohen the head of the Mossad and discussed among other things the alleged support by China and Pakistan along with other states for the Taliban in Afghanistan near the Afghan-Pakistan border.

Doval is no softie. He is attributed with something called the Doval Doctrine in India, the recent shift in Indian security policy in relation to Pakistan from what he calls ‘Defensive’ to ‘Defensive Offensive’. He is reported behind India’s surgical strikes in Pakistan in September 2016, and is behind the rise of pro-Indian militants in Kashmir. As an Indian blog describes it the Doval Doctrine, formulated in his speeches in 2014 and 2015 after being named MIDO National Security Adviser, essentially is aimed at China and Pakistan, has three components: “Irrelevance of morality, Of extremism freed from calculation or calibration, and Reliance on military.” Clearly Doval has little use for diplomatic solutions [5].

Whatever was privately agreed between Modi and Washington in June as well as with Tel Aviv in early July, it was in this time frame that the Doklam dispute erupted in the Indian decision to send troops to forcibly intervene against Chinese construction teams on the sensitive border zone between China, Bhutan and India in the Tibetan plateau.

For its side, China is citing a letter by former Indian PM Jawaharlal Nehru to Chinese Premier Chou En-Lai in 1959: “This Convention of 1890 also defined the boundary between Sikkim and Tibet; and the boundary was later, in 1895, demarcated. There is thus no dispute regarding the boundary of Sikkim with the Tibet region,” the letter read. China has also cites a reference of May 10, 2006, besides the 1890 convention and the 1959-60 letters which says, “Both sides agree on the boundary alignment in the Sikkim Sector.” China publicly claims also that it “notified” India about the road building as a “goodwill” gesture [6].

At this point the real issue is not the validity or non-validity under international law of the Chinese arguments. All surrounding the recent Doklam dispute between China and India suggests the dark hand of Washington and Tel Aviv in cahoots with the Modi government to use the confrontation to sabotage the progress of China’s huge and developing One Belt, One Road infrastructure project by attempting to foster another US-instigated proxy war.

The escalating dispute over Doklam need never have escalated on a military front. That was a decision of the Modi government and clearly bears the fingerprints of the fingerprints of Ajit Doval, Modi’s security adviser and former head of Indian intelligence.

Has Narenda Modi actually switched sides from a genuine supporter of peaceful resolution of Indo-Pakistani and Indo-Chinese border disputes in a spirit of good-willed collaboration within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, or was he Janus-faced in terms of his allegiances from the 2014 onset of his tenure as prime Minister, a kind of Anglo-American-Israeli Trojan Horse sent to sabotage China’s promotion of the Eurasian new Economic Silk Road?

The answer is not yet known at least not by this author. However, a well-placed Indian source with close ties to the Indian military forces noted to me in a recent private correspondence that shortly following Trump’s election in November last year, a senior US intelligence adviser to the Trump circles stated bluntly that there would not be a war between USA and China, but rather there would be a war between India and China across the Himalayas. That was in November at a time Doklam was completely quiet.

martes, 29 de agosto de 2017

Imperio marítimo vs. Imperio continental

Hoy volvemos a la carga con el tema de la guerra encubierta entre el Imperio, la potencia marítima del último siglo, y su contendiente China, la potencia terrestre imperial en ciernes. Países clave en esta contienda son: Rusia, Alemania y Arabia Saudita. A ver si les gusta esta interesantísima nota de Charles y Louis-Vincent Gave para el sitio web de finanzas Gavekal Research.

Título: Gavekal On The Coming Clash Of Empires: Russia's Role As A Global Game-Changer

Texto: Carthago Est Delenda. “Carthage must be destroyed”. Cato the elder would conclude his speeches in the Roman Senate with the admonition that salt should be spread on the ruins of Rome’s rival. Listening to the US media over these summer holidays from Grand Lake, Oklahoma, it is hard to escape the conclusion that most of the American media, and US congress, feels the same way about Russia. Which is odd given that the Cold War supposedly ended almost 30 years ago.

But then again, a quick study of history shows that clashes between land and sea-based empires have been a fairly steady constant of Western civilization. Think of Athens versus Sparta, Greece versus Persia, Rome versus Carthage, England versus Napoleon, and more recently the US versus Germany and Japan (when World War II saw the US transform itself from a land-based empire to a sea-based empire in order to defeat Germany and Japan), and of course the more recent contest between the US and the Soviet Union.

The maritime advantage

Such fights have been staples of history books, from Plutarch to Toynbee. Victory has mostly belonged to the maritime empires as they tend to depend more on trade and typically promote more de-centralized structures; land-based empires by contrast usually repress individual freedoms and centralize power. Of course the maritime power does not always win; Cato the elder did after all get his wish posthumously.

With this in mind, consider a mental map of the productive land masses in the world today. Very roughly put, the world currently has three important zones of production, with each accounting for about a third of world GDP.

North and South America: This is a sort of island and is not reachable by land from the rest of the world. It constitutes the heart of what could be called the current “maritime” empire.

Europe ex-Russia: This is an economic and technological power as large as the US but a military minnow. Its last two wars have been fought between the then dominant maritime power (the US), first against Germany, then the Soviet Union to gain the control of the so called “old continent”.

A resurgent Asia: Here China is playing the role of the “land-based challenger” to the “maritime hegemon”.

A visiting Martian who knew little about our global geopolitical make-up, except for the above history books, would likely conclude that a new version of the age-old drama is being set up. This time, however the contest would be between a China-dominated “land-based empire” and a US controlled “maritime power”, with Europe (and to a lesser extent Africa) as the likely “prize.”

To have a chance in the fight, the continental empire would have to “keep” a massive land mass under its control. This would require building extensive lines of communication (rail, roads, telecoms, satellites…), linking its own land-mass to the other “productive” land masses, avoiding as much as possible the use of sea links to communicate with other nations. The land empire would need to develop an economy which would not need to trade through the seas.

This is what is happening today and why we gave carte blanche to Tom Miller, leaving him free to roam through Central Asia and Eastern Europe over a couple of years and report on the capital that China was pouring to build such links (readers who have not done so should pick up a copy of Tom’s book, China’s Asian Dream, available at all good bookstores and of course, through our website).

Now for China’s “dream of empire” to work, China would need to convince two important countries, and maybe three, to at least become “neutral”, instead of quasi-hostile, for these new communications lines to work. Those two countries are Russia and Germany. The 3rd is Saudi Arabia, which has an interesting hand to play.

1. Russia

Russia is the main land bridge between China and Europe. So logic says that the US should be very nice to Russia and seek to establish some kind of military alliance, if only to control the movement of people and goods between China and Europe, and from Europe to China. However, in its immense wisdom, the US Senate and the entire US diplomatic corps have decided that America’s interests are best served by imposing sanctions on Russia for crimes—not even proven at the time of writing—that the Central Intelligence Agency routinely commits inside countries that are nominally allies of the US!

It seems that US policymakers have forgotten Lord Palmerston’s dictum that nations don’t have friends, just permanent interests. And instead of following policies to maximize its national interest, the US would rather cut off its nose to spite its face. The end result is that the US seems to be  working as hard as possible to make Russia join forces with China. But why would the US so consciously make an enemy out of Russia?

A starting point is that it is a little odd that a country that cannot conceivably be invaded spends more on defense then the next ten nations combined (see chart overleaf). It is also odd that the US has been involved in wars, somewhere around the globe, with very few interruptions, ever since President Dwight Eisenhower warned his countrymen about the growing clout of the “US military industrial complex”.

Of course, we fully realize that even mentioning the “US military industrial complex’ makes one sound like some kind of tin-potted, conspiracy-theorist prone loon. This is not our intention. But we do want to  highlight that, in order to justify a budget of US$622bn, soon heading to US$800bn, the US military industrial complex needs a bogey-man.

Now the natural bogey-man should logically be China. After all, China is now sporting the second biggest military budget in the world (US$192bn in 2016), is rapidly expanding its global presence (Belt and Road, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Silk Road Fund) and increasingly treats the South China Sea as a mare nostrum. Still, the past few months of broad US hysteria toward Russia make it fairly clear that US military interests would rather pick on Russia then China. Why so?

The first, and most obvious explanation, is simply institutional inertia. After all, Russia was the main enemy between 1945 and 1991 and entire institutions were built (NATO, OECD, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank) with either the stated, or unstated, goal of containing Russia’s influence. Such government-led institutions usually turn around as easily as a cruise ship captained by Francesco Schettino.

Predictable France

There are historical precedents for this. Take France as an example: from Cardinal Richelieu onward, the sole purpose of French diplomacy was to destroy the Austro-Hungarian empire. This left successive French rulers blind to the rise of Prussia; at least until 1870 and the pummeling of Paris. Still, even after losing Alsace and Lorraine, France continued its anti-Habsburg crusade until 1919, and the final destruction of the Austrian empire with the 1919 Versailles treaty. This treaty left France vulnerable should the Russians and Germans ever ally (a key policy goal of the Habsburgs was to prevent such an alliance) or the Brits decide that they’d rather head home (which duly occurred in 1940 at Dunkirk and is perhaps happening again today).

The bottom line is that the sheer force of institutional inertia means the “smartest people” are often incapable of adjusting to new realities. It happened in France, and it could easily be happening in the US today.

A second explanation is that there exists tremendous resistance within the broader US community to making China a scapegoat. US corporations have huge interests in China and relatively limited exposure to Russia. Thus attempts to cast China in too bad a light are habitually met with concerted lobbying efforts (Lenin did say that the “Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them”). As no-one in the US business community cares deeply about Russia, Moscow makes for a good, “compromise bogey man”?

A third explanation is tied to a theme we have discussed in the past (see The Consequences of Trump’s Syrian Strike), namely the unfolding civil war in the Middle-East between Sunnis and Shias. On the Sunni side of the war sits Saudi Arabia. On the Shia side of the war is Iran. And behind Iran stands Russia, who would like nothing more than to see the Saudi regime implode. Indeed, a collapse of the House of Saud would be an immense boon for Russia. The price of oil would likely surge (which would be great for non-Arab producers like Russia) and Europe would find itself wholly dependent on Russia for its energy supplies, thereby giving Moscow more geopolitical clout than it has enjoyed in decades.

At the same time, a collapse of the House of Saud would be terrible news for US, French and British arms suppliers (for whom the Middle-Eastern monarchies are big clients) and for all big oil companies which have huge contracts in Saudi Arabia and across the Middle-East to protect.

This brings us to the current make-up of the US administration which, to say the least, is somewhat skewed towards military officers (military men and the merchants of death tend to get along) and oil-men. Is it too much of a stretch to think that an administration loaded with oil and military men would, almost by default, fight Saudi Arabia’s corner? Now this may be unfair. After all, it’s not as if the first trip of the current US president was to Saudi Arabia, or as if that trip yielded many lucrative deals for US weapons manufacturers, US oil companies, and US financiers, was it?

Russia as a game-changer

Whatever the reason for the current anti-Russia hysteria in the US, it is now clearly in Russia’s interest for it to play a very active role in the coming Chinese efforts to reduce the power of the dominant “maritime empire”. This means that Chinese and European products will be able to travel through Russia for the foreseeable future, so avoiding possible threats created by the US navy should Washington ever act to disrupt trade between the two economic centers.

The reason that the US’s approach to Russia is so short-sighted is that Russia’s role in the coming clash between the two empires may go far beyond it facilitating communication and transport across its territory. Indeed, Russia (along with Qatar and Iran) could already be helping China break the monopoly that the US has on the payment of energy all over the world through the US dollar (see The Most Important Change  And Its Natural Hedge).

For the past 100 years, the US dollar has been the world’s major reserve and trading currency. Needless to say, having the ability to settle one’s (rather large) trade and budget deficits in one’s own currency is a competitive advantage of huge proportions. Greater than its edge in finance, tertiary education, technology, biotech, weapons manufacturing and agricultural productivity, this “exorbitant privilege” may be the US’s single biggest comparative advantage.

Now our starting point when looking at China is that the guys who run the show in Beijing are basically control freaks. After all, what else do you expect from career technocrats steeped in Marxist theory? So with that in mind, the question every investor should ask themselves is: why would control freaks yield control of their country’s exchange rate and interest rate structure? Why liberalize the bond and currency markets?

For let’s face it, there are few prices as important to an economy as the exchange rate and the interest rate. So if the politburo is willing to gradually lose control over them, it must be because it hopes to gain something better on the other side. And the something better is to transform the renminbi into Asia’s deutschemark; the “natural” trading (and eventually reserve) currency for Asia and even wider emerging markets. In fact, internationalizing the renminbi is the lynchpin on which the whole “Belt and Road” empire rollout rests. If this part fails, then China’s imperial ambitions will most likely crumble over time (for one cannot have an empire on somebody else’s dime).

The rise of the renminbi

Which brings us to a key change in our global monetary system that has received scant attention, namely, the recent announcement by the Hong Kong exchange that investors will soon be able to buy and settle gold contracts in renminbi (see release). This initiative has the potential to be a game-changer for the architecture of our global monetary system.

Imagine being Russia, Iran, Qatar, Venezuela, Sudan, Uzbekistan or any other country liable to fall foul of US foreign policy, and thus susceptible to having Washington use the dollar as a “soft weapon” (see BNP, Big Brother And The US Dollar). Then China comes along and says: “Rather than trading in dollars, which leaves us both exposed to US sanctions, and US banks’ willingness to fund our trade, let’s deal in renminbi. I can guarantee that ICBC will never pull the rug from under your feet”.

If you are Russia, or Qatar (which have already signed renminbi deals for oil and natural gas), this may be an interesting proposition. However, the  question will quickly arise: “What will I do with my renminbi? Sure, I can buy goods in China, but I only need so much cheap clothing, tennis shoes, and plastic junk. What do I do with what is left over?”. And the answer to that question is that the US dollar remains the world’s reserve currency since the US offers the deepest and most liquid asset markets. From real estate (as shown by the Russia-Trump investigation), to equities, to bonds, there is no shortage of US assets that Americans will sell foreigners so that foreigners can park their hard earned dollars back into the US.

This brings us back to China and the main constraint to the renminbi’s rise as a reserve currency. Simply put, foreign investors do not trust the Chinese government enough to park their excess reserves in Chinese assets. This lack of trust was crystallized by the decision in the summer of 2015 to “shut down” the equity markets for a while and stop trading in any stock that looked like it was heading south. That decision confirmed foreign investors’ apprehension about China and in their eyes set back renminbi internationalization by several years, if not decades.

Until now, that is. For by creating a gold contract settled in renminbi, Russia may now sell oil to China for renminbi (already signed), then take whatever excess currency it earns to buy gold in Hong Kong. As a result, Russia does not have to buy Chinese assets or switch the proceeds into dollars (and so potentially fall under the thumb of the US Treasury). This new arrangement is good news for Russia, good news for China, good news for gold and horrible news for Saudi Arabia as it leaves the Middle-Eastern kingdom in between a rock and a hard place.

2. Saudi Arabia

The fact that China wants to buy oil with its own currency will increasingly present Saudi Arabia with a dilemma. It could acknowledge that China is now the world’s largest oil importer, and only major growth market, and accept renminbi payments for its oil. However, this would go down like a lead balloon in Washington where the US Treasury would (rightly) see this as a threat to the dollar’s hegemony. In such a  scenario, it is unlikely that the US would continue to approve modern weapon sales to Saudi and the embedded “protection” of the House of Saud that comes with them. And without this US protection, who knows  which way the Sunni-Shia civil war may tip (most likely in favor of the Iran-Russia axis).

Unfortunately for Saudi Arabia, the alternative is hardly attractive. Getting boxed out of the Chinese market will increasingly mean having to dump excess oil inventories on the global stage, thereby ensuring a sustained low price for oil. But with its budget deficit stuck at about 16% of GDP, with half its population below 27 and needing jobs, and with reserves shrinking by around US$10bn a month, just maintaining the current status quo is not a long-term viable option.

So which way will Saudi turn? Will Riyadh accept low oil prices forever and the associated costs on Saudi society? Or will it change horse and move to accept renminbi in order to ensure more access to the world’s largest oil importer, even at the risk of triggering Washington’s wrath? Investors who like to bet on form may wish to consider the second option. Indeed, King Ibn Saud (the current King Salman's father) was once a loyal British client as the Brits had helped suppress the Wahhabi brotherhood, so cementing his power. Yet in 1936, Ibn Saud's adviser Abdullah Philby (father of British traitor Kim Philby), persuaded the king to  switch his allegiance to the US, by offering Saudis exclusive oil concession to Chevron/Texaco rather than BP. This is why the Saudi oil company is called Aramco (the Arab-American oil company) rather than Arbroco.

Could the House of Saud pull off the same stunt again? One indication may be who lines up as cornerstone investors in the coming Aramco IPO. If those end up as China Investment Corporation, Petrochina and the PRC’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange, than perhaps Aramco will be on its way to becoming Archoco. And with that, the pricing of Saudi oil could shift from US dollars to renminbi.

Incidentally, such a move would likely solve Saudi’s biggest macro hurdle; specifically, the defense of the Saudi Riyal peg to the US dollar. Indeed, with reserves shrinking so rapidly, the arrangement looks to be on a slow-moving death watch (admittedly, at the current pace of reserve depletion, Riyadh could hold out three years and possibly five). But should Saudi announce that Aramco (or Archoco!) will now accept renminbi for oil payments, the dollar would likely tank while oil prices would shoot up (as Saudi would have a willing buyer for its oil in China). A lower US dollar/ higher oil combination would, needless to say, make the Saudi peg that much easier to sustain.

Lastly, if you were King Salman and thought that the long-term sustainability of the House of Saud depended on dumping the US and engaging China, what would you be doing right now? Would you be buying as many top-end US weapons as you possibly could, knowing that, in the future, such purchases may no longer be as easy as they are today? But let us now move to the third major player in this many-part drama, namely Germany, where the situation is even more complex.

3. Germany

Unencumbered by its own “heavy” history, Germany— being at heart a “continental” nation—would probably have joined the “continental alliance” and left the maritime alliance (which may explain why the “maritime alliance” tapped Angela Merkel’s phone; arguably a greater intrusion then anything the US has accused Russia of). After all, consider the advantages for Germany of joining the “land-based empire”:

Politically, Germany could finally develop its own diplomacy and stop taking orders from Washington.

Economically, German industry would have unlimited access to develop not only Russia but also all the populations north of the Himalayas set to join the modern world through the creation of the “New Silk Road”.

Geopolitically, let us first state the obvious: a Middle-East ruled by the Sunnis under the control of the US diplomacy has not been a resounding success. Worse yet, the incredible mistakes made by the last two US administrations across the Middle-East have led to a very old religious war (Sunnis vs. Shiites) again erupting. As we write, it seems that the Russians and Iranian allies are gradually succeeding in taking the control of the Middle East. Now the return to some form of peace (under a Russia/Iranian yoke) would offer new markets for German industry, provided Germany immediately allied itself with Russia and broke away from the American sanctions imposed by the US Senate. Failing that, Germany could lose a Middle-Eastern market which has historically been important for its exporters.

Domestically: A German-Russian alliance would crimp Turkey’s resurgence as Ankara would find itself isolated due to Iran and China being on its eastern borders and Russia on its northern frontiers. As a result, Turkey would most likely stop rattling Europe’s cage, which would be a boon for Merkel as Recep Tayyip Erdo?an has been a significant thorn in her side. In other words, Merkel would outsource her “Turkey problem” to Russia.

Energetically, a Russian-dominated Middle East would still provide gas from Russia and oil from the Middle-East. The implication is that Germany would no longer need to have its energy imports “protected” by the maritime empire’s fleet (Merkel’s short-sightedness on the energy front, from the end of coal, to the banning of nuclear power, has fitted in the category of being “worse than a crime, it is a mistake”).

Many people in Germany—business people and public servants such as ex -chancellor Gerhard Schroeder—understand the above and have lobbied for such an outcome. The recent trend of US prosecutors trying to export the supremacy of the US legal system over local ones, and imposing egregious fines on all and sundry (Deutsche Bank, Volkswagen) can only push German business leaders further down that path.

Of course, as Frenchmen, we know that nothing good comes of:

* Germany and Russia getting along like a house on fire.

* Britain retreating back to its island.

And we would suggest that President Emmanuel Macron is also keenly aware of this. Which explains he is so far the only Western leader to have gone out of his way to be nice to President Trump; aside from the Polish President of course (more on that later).

Macron has bent over to accommodate Merkel. And let’s face it, his task is not easy. For as good as our president may be with the older ladies, he needs to convince Merkel to walk away from the above win-win and keep Germany committed to the greater European integration exercise, and Germany wedded to its role inside the broader “maritime empire”.

Germany as the sole paymaster

Now, to be fair, the German population has enthusiastically supported the European integration project, partly out of historical guilt (now abating as the share of the population alive in World War II fast shrinks) and partly because it has been a boon to German exporters. However, recent years have highlighted that the low hanging fruit of European integration has been harvested. And to stay afloat, the European project now needs Berlin to transfer 2%-6% of GDP to poorer, less productive, European Union countries (especially as the UK will soon stop paying into EU coffers). This is a hard sell, even for a politician as gifted as Macron. Soon, Germany may be the only meaningful contributor to French agricultural subsidies; and that is unlikely to go down well with the average Bavarian housewife.

Which brings us to the only other Western leader who has publicly embraced the current incumbent of the White House, namely Polish president, Andreszj Duda. After all, History suggests that France should not be the only country worried about a German rapprochement with the new “land-based empire”. Most Eastern European countries, in particular Poland, have similar reactions to such a hook-up. In fact, threat of a German-Russian rapprochement may already be creating the birth of a new, Austro-Hungarian empire, aka the Visegrad Group alliance of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

Historically, the role of the Austrian empire was to protect Europe from the Turks and also to stop an alliance between Prussia and Russia. For the time being the Visegrad group is negotiating (rather unsuccessfully) with Berlin about how to handle thousands of “Turks” (at least migrants entering Europe through Turkey, whether those migrants come from North Africa, the Middle-East, Afghanistan, Bangladesh or elsewhere is almost irrelevant). This Eastern grouping may have to address, sooner than they think, a German-Russian rapprochement.

Just as importantly, the re-emergence of the Austrian empire is incompatible with the “Europe as a Nation” project. In the world we are describing Poland, followed by Hungary and the Czech Republic, may be the next countries to leave the EU. Although in so doing, the Visegrad Group would almost guarantee the feared rapprochement between  Germany and Russia. Of course the Eastern European nations would only make such a move if they were militarily guaranteed by the US. And, by an amazing coincidence, this is exactly the promise that President Trump just delivered in Warsaw!

For the “maritime empire”, a loss of Germany would have to be rapidly compensated by an increased presence in Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Lithuania and almost every country East of Berlin and West of Moscow. Of course, this is what France and England (the “maritime empires of the day”) did in the 1930s— with limited success.


History shows that maritime powers almost always have the upper hand in any clash; if only because moving goods by sea is cheaper, more efficient, easier to control, and often faster, than moving them by land. So there is little doubt that the US continues to have the advantage. Simple logic, suggests that goods should continue to be moved from Shanghai to Rotterdam by ship, rather than by rail.

Unless, of course, a rising continental power wants to avoid the sea lanes controlled by its rival. Such a rival would have little choice but developing land routes; which of course is what China is doing. The fact that these land routes may not be as efficient as the US controlled sealanes is almost as irrelevant as the constant cost over-run of any major US defense projects. Both are necessary to achieve imperial status.

As British historian Cyril Northcote Parkinson highlighted in his mustread East And West, empires tend to expand naturally, not out of megalomania, but simple commercial interest: “The true explanation lies in the very nature of the trade route. Having gone to all expenses involved… the rule cannot be expected to leave the far terminus in the hands of another power.” And indeed, the power that controls the end points on the trading road, and the power that controls the road, is the power that makes the money. Clearly, this is what China is trying to achieve, but trying to do so without entering into open conflict with the United States; perhaps because China knows the poor track record of continental empires picking fights with the maritime power.

Still, by focusing almost myopically on Russia, the US risks having its current massive head-start gradually eroded. And obvious signs of this erosion may occur in the coming years if and when the following happens:

- Saudi Arabia adopts the renminbi for oil payments

- Germany changes its stripes and cozies up to Russia and pretty much gives up on the whole European integration charade in order to follow its own naked self-interest.

The latter two events may, of course, not happen. Still, a few years ago, we would have dismissed such talk as not even worthy of the craziest of conspiracy theories. Today, however, we are a lot less sure. And our concern is that either of the above events could end up having a dramatic impact on a number of asset classes and portfolios.

And the possible catalyst for these changes is China’s effort to create a renminbi-based gold market in Hong Kong. For while the key change to our global financial infrastructure (namely oil payments occurring in renminbi) has yet to fully arrive, the ability to transform renminbi into gold, without having to bring the currency back into China (assuming Hong Kong is not “really” part of China as it has its own supreme court and independent justice system… just about!) is a likely game-changer.

Clearly, China is erecting the financial architecture for the above to occur. This does not mean the initiative will be a success. China could easily be sitting on a dud. But still, we should give credit to Beijing’s policymakers for their sense of timing for has there ever been a better time to promote an alternative to the US dollar? If you are sitting in Russia, Qatar, Iran, or Venezuela and listening to the rhetoric coming out of Washington, would you feel that comfortable keeping your assets, and denominating your trade, in dollars? Or would you perhaps be looking for alternatives?

This is what makes today’s US policy hard to understand. Just when China is starting to offer an alternative—an alternative that the US should be trying to bury—the US is moving to “weaponize” the dollar and pound other nations—even those as geo-strategically vital as Russia—for simple domestic political reasons. It all seems so short-sighted.

Reunión en Sochi

Mientras se avizora el fin de la "guerra civil" en Siria, comienzan a perfilarse los ganadores y los perdedores de este evento crucial para Medio Oriente y la historia del siglo XXI. Entre los perdedores está Israel, quien apoyó a diversos grupos de "insurgentes" casi desde el comienzo de las hostilidades. Al primer ministro de ese país, Benjamin Netanyahu, le debe estar corriendo cierto frío por la espalda. La nota que sigue es de Dmitry Minin para el sitio web Strategic Culture Foundation:

Título: Netanyahu’s Sudden Trip to Russia: What’s Israel Worried About?

Texto: The stated purpose of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s sudden Aug. 23 trip to Sochi and meeting with the Russian president was to update him about the «scale of Iran’s military footprint in Syria». However, this is something Tel Aviv does with enviable regularity, and since Russia already has a presence on the ground in Syria, Israel would be hard-pressed to be able to offer Moscow any new information on this. Moreover, according to the Israeli press, a less prominent Israeli delegation presented a similar report some time ago in Washington that failed to make much of an impression there.

However, the director of Mossad, Yossi Cohen, and the head of Israel’s National Security Council, Meir Ben-Shabbat, also made the trip to Sochi, in addition to the prime minister, which indicates the particular significance of the meeting for Netanyahu. And DEBKAfile reports that the powwow lasted a full three hours, despite the Russian president’s tight schedule that day.

Israeli analysts surmise that Netanyahu is not only worried about the presence of Iranian volunteer squadrons in Syria, but also about how a quick end to the civil war in that country would not, on the whole, work in Israel’s favor. For example, the joint Lebanese-Syrian operation to rout the last major Islamic State (IS) contingent on the border between the two countries in the western Qalamoun region, 20 km. north of Israel, will soon be winding down. One might expect that once the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) units and their allies are freed up there, they would next turn their attentions to clearing terrorists from the areas bordering Israel, particularly in the region of Quneitra. 

Israel, therefore, faces a serious dilemma. The Israelis don’t want to let Damascus re-approach their border near the occupied Golan Heights, for then it will become apparent that Netanyahu’s entire strategy of supporting the Syrian opposition and renouncing Assad has failed. That moment of truth could deal the final blow to his cabinet’s rather precarious position. It would also prove awkward to actually be fighting on the side of al-Qaeda militants from HTS. Even the US gave that idea a very cool reception. Hence this explanation: the «terrifying» country of Iran is on the verge of capturing all of Syria with the help of «Shi’ite militias,» and Israel is firmly drawing «lines in the sand» against Tehran and Lebanon’s pro-Iranian «Hezbollah». If those lines are crossed, that will necessitate the use of all of Israel’s military might.

The problem is compounded by the fact that Russian monitors and peacekeepers (two squadrons of military police from Ingushetia are currently on duty) are stationed at 10 roadblocks, 13 kilometers from what would be the battlefield on the western borders of the southern «de-escalation zone» in Syria. Those peacekeepers have been awarded international recognition, even in accordance with an agreement with the United States. There’s a good reason Israel was not terribly pleased by either the creation of this «de-escalation zone» or by the appearance of the Russian peacekeepers there. It will be quite easy for them to see if Iran’s Revolutionary Guards or agents from Hezbollah are moving in Israel’s direction. Gone are the days when the survival of Damascus largely depended on foreign volunteers. New military divisions and even SAA corps have already emerged, made up of Syrians. Assad has no need to use Iranians or Lebanese to take control of the Israeli border – he has his own units for that. That’s why Netanyahu is so insistent in his attempts to convince Moscow that the Iranians are bound to attack them for some reason. Of course the Iranian divisions in Syria theoretically don’t even possess the heavy weaponry that would make it possible for them to do such a thing. That is entirely in the hands of the SAA and lately also within the Russian advisors’ zone of interest.

Moscow is telling the truth when it claims that it is not only concerned about Israel’s security, it is also prepared to guarantee it. But that security has to be real, not pretend. Both sides need to call a spade a spade. It’s already clear to any unbiased observer that the outcome of the war in Syria is a foregone conclusion. And the victors won’t only be individual politicians like Assad, but also the entire Syrian nation. Clear-sighted politicians should have accepted reality long ago and adjusted their strategy accordingly, without attempting to turn back the hands of time. Only thus will they be in a position to ensure stability, both for themselves and for the region as a whole.

The future evolution of this conflict will largely depend on the US stance. Israeli pundits acknowledge that Netanyahu, despite all his threats, is unlikely to launch a serious military operation in Syria unless he gets some sort of nod from Washington. That’s what would also demonstrate whether the White House is prepared to cross the rickety bridge toward reconciliation in Syria or whether it wants to plunge that country back into total chaos, which, given the current power dynamics, would bode ill for itself. IS is on the verge of total collapse in Syria. Next in line could be America’s allies from the Free Syrian Army.

Maariv, a prominent Israeli newspaper, regretfully observes that the Aug. 23 meeting in Sochi «will not change the sad fact that when it comes to Iran, Israel has no true allies on the international stage». And that publication puts the blame for this on Netanyahu himself, who – when it came down it – proved unable to secure the support of those politicians he is so proud to call his friends – the presidents of the US and Russia.

However, does «friendship» include indulging anything one’s «friend» does, even if what he’s doing is a mistake? After all, it has more than once been explained to Prime Minister Netanyahu that the Iranian troops will depart once the war in Syria ends. That’s even what Tehran is saying. And perhaps it would be better, before it’s too late, to play a role in events on the winner’s side? Even in the absence of diplomatic relations, it’s not so hard to find a way. This would be the most intelligent policy.

lunes, 28 de agosto de 2017

Un año ya

Se cumple un año del golpe parlamentario a Dilma Rousseff en Brasil y la cabeza visible del golpismo, Michel Temer, comenzó el remate de las instituciones productivas más importantes de ese país. Nunca se había llegado a tanto. La nota que sigue es de Darío Pignotti para Página/12:

Título: La destitución de Dilma Rousseff no fue sólo un “golpe parlamentario”

Subtítulo: Primer aniversario del “golpe híbrido”

Epígrafe: En el golpe contra Dilma, “hubo apoyo externo, hubo financiamiento voluminoso” plantea Adriano Diogo, ex presidente de la Comisión de la Verdad de San Pablo, que investigó los crímenes de la dictadura.

Texto: A un año del “golpe híbrido” que todavía no concluyó. Este jueves se cumplirá el primer aniversario de la destitución de Dilma Rousseff por parte del Senado en el juicio que la culpó de aumentar, sin autorización del Congreso, los recursos destinados a los pequeños y medios productores rurales. En sus alegatos, algunos senadores le enrostraron a Rousseff haber incurrido en “delitos” como el “populismo”, violar la “ley de responsabilidad fiscal” (que prioriza el pago de la deuda a los fondos para a promoción social) y hasta el financiamiento del puerto de Mariel, en Cuba.

Pero  en ningún caso se la acusó de corrupción, siendo que más del 30 por ciento de los miembros de la Cámara Alta, convertida en tribunal ad hoc para el impeachment, están investigados o procesados.

Responsable de llevar a cabo la salida de Rousseff a través del enjuiciamiento que permitió el ascenso de Michel Temer, lo cierto es que el Legislativo no fue el único agente del proceso que algunos han denominado  “golpe parlamentario”.

En rigor, esa clasificación sobreestima el papel de los congresistas, que no fueron las piezas más importante del dispositivo montado para destituir a la presidenta reelecta en 2014.

Las “guerras híbridas”

Aunque resta mucho por ser investigado, doce meses después de la caída es posible señalar que en ella se conjuraron parte del Poder Judicial, la parapolítica disimulada en las movilizaciones masivas de repudio a Rousseff, el asedio mediático y la decisión del poder financiero. Se suma la difusa, y probablemente crucial, injerencia de Estados Unidos, que al parecer actuó guiado los manuales de las “guerras híbridas”.

La idea de las “guerras híbridas” surgió a fines de la década pasada en los tanques de pensamiento occidental. Algunos la atribuyen al  periodista norteamericano Frank Hoffmann y otros a Nathan Freier, invesigador del CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies).

Ese arsenal teórico fue utilizado por la OTAN, y luego por analistas interesados en comprender las revueltas de la Primavera Arabe.

La chispa que inició la explosión fueron las movilizaciones espontáneas de la sociedad civil en Túnez, Egipto y otros países árabes, posteriormente desvirtuadas por tácticas desestabilizadoras y acciones armadas con la participaron grupos financiados desde el exterior complementados por campañas desinformativas de impacto global.

En la insurrección conservadora brasileña está ausente el empleo de la violencia directa generalizada, pero hay elementos para plantear que lo ocurrido se emparienta con la Primavera Arabe y desembocó en una suerte de “golpe híbrido”. Lo que ocurrió no fue un mero “golpe parlamentario” .

En todo caso, hablar de un “golpe híbrido” es sólo el intento de dar cuenta de un fenómeno todavía inconcluso y parcialmente desconocido, pues parte de la trama secreta aún no salió a la luz.

El primer antecedente de esta “movilización conservadora” a la brasileña fueron las protestas de 2013, en las que hubo “varias semejanzas con la Primavera Arabe”, planteó Adriano Diogo, ex presidente de la Comisión de la Verdad en San Pablo, dedicada durante años a investigar el golpe de 1964 y las violaciones de los derechos humanos durante la dictadura.

Este golpe contra Dilma tiene una característica completamente diferente del de 1964, aquel estuvo vinculado a la Iglesia católica, éste tuvo una fuerte componente ligada a las iglesias evangélicas (..) estamos hablando de grupos con lazos muy fuertes con iglesias  norteamericanas y también con intereses de Israel. Y además hubo la colaboración del exterior para organizar a las clases medias a través de las redes sociales”, observa Diogo durante una entrevista con PáginaI12.

Las movilizaciones de 2013, que surgieron como un reclamo de grupos de izquierda contra el aumento del pasaje, pronto fueron capitalizadas por organizaciones de “ultraderecha” como el Movimiento Brasil Libre y la agrupación Ven a la Calle, que fueron asesorados “por un experto hindú en redes sociales que había trabajado en la Primavera Arabe (..) hubo apoyo externo, hubo financiamiento voluminoso” sostuvo Diogo.

Y agregó que si bien no se puede afirmar que el gobierno norteamericano dio su apoyo orgánico, hay que tener en cuenta que en 2013 asumió como embajadora en Brasil Liliana Ayalde, quien traía en su foja de antecedentes haber servido en Paraguay donde, según denuncias, colaboró con el golpe de apariencia parlamentaria que derrocó al presidente Fernando Lugo.

La presunta influencia de la embajadora Ayalde en la caída de Dilma le valió su promoción diplomática ya que de Brasil fue enviada al Comando Sur de Estados Unidos donde actualmente se desempeña como vice jefa del área civil. Un departamento que estaría colaborando en la desestabilización venezolana. Gajes del oficio.

Ayalde fue sucedida por Peter McKinley que trae en su currículum haber trabajado en Afganistán, donde supervisó la intervención norteamericana , y  antes de ello en Colombia a donde arrbió  poco después de la instalación de siete bases de militares que originaron una enérgica reacción del gobierno del presidente Luis Inácio Lula da Silva a través del recientemente fallecido asesor internacional Marco Aurelio García.

Lula: EE.UU. metió la cola

Hace un mes el propio  Lula , que siempre adoptó un discurso cauteloso, aceptó que Washington no fue ajeno a la desestabilización surgida en las marchas de la Avenida Paulista, la principal de San Pablo, y principal centro financiaro de América Latina.

Creo que había intereses norteamericanos para que Brasil no tuviera éxito. Lo que digo es un pálpito porque no tengo ninguna prueba (..) siempre tuve muchas dudas respecto del movimiento de 2013, eran manifestaciones en las que había muchos intereses en juego y el principal de ellos era sacar al PT del gobierno”.

Brasil se había convertido en un protagonista internacional” señaló Lula ante la dirección nacional del PT reunida en Brasilia y mencionó como ejemplos de esa proyección geopolítica  el control del Petrobras sobre los mega campos  descubieros en 2007 y la construcción de un submarino propulsado a energía nuclear.

Días más tarde el ex presidente cargó contra Donald Trump por haber amenazado atacar militarmente a Venezuela, y propuso recrear la política externa de los gobiernos petistas favorable a la solución negociada entre el gobierno del presidente Nicolás Maduro y la oposición.

Lula le achacó a la diplomacia del presidente “golpista” Michel Temer el actuar como brazo auxiliar de la política externa de Washington azuzando la tensiones en Venezuela con lo que esto significa como amenaza para la seguridad regional.

Dentro de tres meses esa regresión geopolítica que representó el golpe se materializará con la llegada de militares norteamericanos para participar en ejercicios en la Amazonia. Otro dato de la herencia del gobierno postdemocrático.

Putin, Erdogan y Moro

El presidente ruso Vladimir Putin y su colega turco Recep Erdogan se comunicaron con Lula y Dilma para advertirles sobre la “primavera árabe” y su réplica en Brasil.

Putin y Erdogan contaron que detrás de las propagandizadas revoluciones democráticas  actuaban grupos injerencistas.

Lo concreto es que el gobierno petista  fue desbordado por las protestas de 2013 y posteriormente las de 2016 en las que millares de personas exigieron a caída de las autoridades constitucionales a cualquier precio, incluso el retorno de los miliares como lo voceaban no pocos participantes.

En esos actos se mezclaban los insultos misóginos contra Dilma con los agravios a Lula y la exaltación del juez de primera instancia Sergio Moro, responsable de la causa Lava Jato en la que el ex mandatario fue condenado a nueve años  y medio de prisión.

Moro acaso sea la encarnación del ascenso del golpismo y su continuidad.

Sus relaciones con Estados Unidos no se limitan a las frecuentes visitas a aquel país y las señales de aprobación hacia su gestión emitidas desde Washington.

Antes de abrir la causa Lava Jato, que comenzó en marzo de 2014, Moro ya mantenía un vínculo próximo con el Departamento de Justicia norteamericano en la década pasada según reveló el sitio Periodistas Libres.

Y en 2016 habría contado con la colaboración de agencias de inteligencia norteamericanas según comentó el abogado Cristiano Zanin al referir a la invasión de un telefonema entre Lula y Dilma, cuya grabación fue inmediatamente entregada a la cadena Globo.

Según Zanin, abogado de Lula, sólo los servicios de inteligencia norteamericanos cuentan con una tecnología capaz de pinchar una llamada telefónica y divulgarla a los pocos minutos.


La nota que sigue, publicada en el mismo medio, es de Eric Nepomuceno:

Título: Brazil for sale

Texto: Con aprobación del cinco por ciento de la opinión pública, Michel Temer, que ocupa la presidencia de Brasil gracias a un golpe institucional consumado hace año y medio, decidió atender de manera radical a la demanda insistente de su único respaldo efectivo, los dueños del dinero: privatizar todo lo que se considere privatizable. Es decir, el patrimonio del país. 

Por estos días anunció un programa de privatizaciones sin antecedentes, siquiera en los tiempos de neoliberalismo de Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1995-2002), que al menos podía argumentar ser un presidente legítimo, electo dos veces por sufragio universal. Temer carece de cualquier vestigio de legitimidad. Basta con ver cómo el país está absolutamente aislado en el escenario global para comprobarlo. 

Pese a todo aislamiento –rechazado internamente por 95 por ciento de los brasileños, ignorado externamente– su gobierno impone un neoliberalismo fundamentalista. Resultado: las medidas anunciadas provocaron euforia en el mercado financiero y profundo rechazo en la misma opinión pública que lo desprecia. 

Serán privatizados puertos, aeropuertos, autopistas, terminales marítimos, loterías y hasta la mismísima Casa de la Moneda, creada en 1694, tiempos coloniales, responsable por la emisión de dinero, estampillas postales y pasaportes. 

De los 14 aeropuertos que serán privatizados se destaca el de Congonhas, en plena región urbana de San Pablo. Tiene el segundo mayor tráfico aéreo del país y deja beneficios de mil 700 millones de dólares anuales a las arcas federales. 

También se anunció, por estos días, que nuevas áreas del pre sal, los yacimientos de petróleo en aguas ultra-profundas, serán llevadas a subasta. Empresas de todo el mundo podrán participar y, a diferencia de lo que determinaba la legislación anterior, sin estar obligatoriamente asociadas a la estatal Petrobras. 

Las inversiones de miles de millones de dólares necesarias para que  llegara a la tecnología más desarrollada del mundo a operaciones en aguas ultra-profundas fueron realizadas por el Estado brasileño. El éxito de todo ese trabajo será ahora disfrutado por empresas multinacionales.

De todo lo que se reveló, dos medidas fueron especialmente impactantes. 

Una ha sido la decisión de privatizar la Eletrobras, que controla 47 usinas generadoras hidroeléctricas, 144 termoeléctricas y 69 eólicas, responsables por 47 mil MW, es decir, 32% de toda la energía generada en Brasil. Se trata de una de las mayores generadoras del planeta, y controla 47% del sistema de distribución en el país.

En total, el gobierno espera recaudar alrededor de 45 mil millones de reales, unos 15 mil millones de dólares. De ese monto, unos 20 mil millones de reales (seis mil 800 millones de dólares) vendrán de la venta de Eletrobras. Como muestra del absurdo de la iniciativa de Temer, especialistas recuerdan que en los últimos diez años las inversiones de recursos públicos en la estatal sumaron casi veinte veces más.  

La otra medida considerada un escándalo sin parámetro ha sido la puesta en venta de un área de selva amazónica cuya dimensión supera a la superficie de Dinamarca. Se anula una ley de hace más de treinta años que la protegía como “reserva ambiental” para permitir la apertura de minas de oro y otros metales. 

El gobierno dice que ya existen cuatro empresas extranjeras interesadas en adquirir esas tierras, que serán desmatadas. Vale repetir: un área equivalente a Dinamarca.

Son tierras vecinas a reservas indígenas. La explotación de minas de oro y otros metales significará, inevitablemente, la contaminación de los ríos de la región. 

Ambientalistas de todo el mundo protestaron con virulencia, pero en vano: Temer hace lo que quiere el mercado, y si vender el país es parte de las órdenes que recibe, pues cumple y ya.

Las privatizaciones tendrán que ser aprobadas por el Congreso. La extinción de la reserva ambiental, no: es suficiente el decreto-ley bajado por Temer.

Ya surgieron brotes de resistencia en el Congreso, principalmente con relación a la privatización de la Eletrobras. No se trata, sin embargo, de consciencia cívica: muchos diputados y senadores tienen ahijados instalados en puestos de decisión en las empresas que integran la compañía. 

En la actual legislatura, la de peor nivel –en todos los sentidos: ético, moral, político– desde la retomada de la democracia, “consciencia cívica” es algo tan difícil de encontrar como una heladería en el Sahara. 

Todo, en el Congreso, tiene un precio, y Temer y su bando son expertos negociadores. Supieron neutralizar una contundente denuncia del fiscal general que pedía la apertura de investigación contra el presidente, por crimen de corrupción. El pedido estaba amparado por un océano de pruebas e indicios sólidos. Temer supo comprar los votos necesarios para que fuese rehusado.

Se sabe que al menos dos denuncias más están en camino. Dando muestras de estar convencido de su inmunidad, Temer emite señales de cariño a los verdaderos dueños del poder. Lo hace vendiendo el país.

Y lo más asombroso es que nadie parece capaz de impedir esa tragedia.  

domingo, 27 de agosto de 2017

Mientras tanto, en Siria...

Las noticias que llegan de Siria sugieren que la "guerra civil" en ese país está próxima a terminar, con un triunfo por parte del gobierno de ese país y de las naciones aliadas con él, fundamentalmente Rusia e Irán, además del grupo armado libamnés Hezbollah. Entre los derrotados aparece el Imperio y sus vasallos, Europa, Israel, Arabia Saudita y algunos más, que en estos días andan practicando un elegante mutis por el foro. La banda de fanáticos conocida alternativamente como "rebeldes", "militantes" o "combatientes" por parte de la prensa occidental está siendo rápidamente abandonada por aquellos que la sostenían con armas, pertrechos y dinero. Así cuenta la situación el sitio web Moon of Alabama:

Título: Syria Summary - Towards The End Of The Caliphate

Texto: This map from the last Syria summary shows the forming of two cauldrons north and north-west of Palmyra. ISIS forces there were enclosed by the Syrian army progressing eastwards on several axes.

Ten days later the most eastward of those cauldrons has been eliminated.

The Syrian army progresses further east and continues to move onto Deir Ezzor on three axes.

ISIS attempted counterattacks towards the supply line to Aleppo and along the Euphrates southeast of Raqqa. Both were defeated within a day or two and the attacking ISIS forces were eliminated. There is clearly a change in the pattern of ISIS deployment. It is now lacking manpower and is giving up in outlining areas. Its counterattacks use swarming tactics and lack the command and force of monolithic military units. In Iraq the army and the popular militia units took just 10 days to liberate the ISIS held city of Tal Afar. Of the estimated 2,000 ISIS forces there only some 200 non-locals had remained. 1,800 had been evacuated towards east-Syria, In the Qalamun area at the Lebanese border the Lebanese army and Hizbullah attacked the last ISIS enclave along that border. Today the remaining 200 ISIS fighters in the area agreed to lay down arms in exchange for an evacuation towards east-Syria.

Three ISIS pockets remain in Syria. One is in Raqqa where the enclosed ISIS units will fight to death. The U.S. military and its Kurdish proxy forces are literally destroying the city to save it. It is unlikely that the remaining ISIS forces in the city will give up or agree to an evacuation deal. In an earlier deal with Kurdish forces a group of ISIS fighters negotiated a retreat from the Tabqa dam in exchange for free passage towards Raqqa. The U.S. military broke the deal by attacking the retreating ISIS fighters.

A second pocket is in the semi desert north-west of Palmyra. ISIS fighters there have dug elaborate cave systems (video). The caves may protect against detection from the air but these positions are indefensible against a ground assault. The area will likely be cleansed within a week.

The third ISIS pocket left is near the Israeli border in Golan heights. The area still awaits a solution but there is no doubt that the Takfiri forces there will eventually be eliminated. Israel has tried to press the U.S. and Russia for protection of the area from an expected onslaught by the Syrian Hizbullah. It also asked to suppress all Iranian influence in Syria. But Washington as well as Moscow rejected the Israeli requests. Netanyahoo lost the war he waged on Syria and Israel will now have to live with a far more capable force along its northern borders.

What is left of ISIS, probably some 10,000 fighters in total, is now confined to east Syria and west Iraq. No more replenishment is coming forward. No new fighters are willing to join the losing project. Its resources are dwindling by the day. The U.S. is extracting its assets within the organization. The Euphrates valley west and east of Deir Ezzor will become the last defensible territory it holds. Six month from now it will be defeated. Its Caliphate will be gone.

The other Jihadi project in Syria is run under the various names of al-Qaeda in Syria. It is now mainly confined to Idleb province. The estimated strength is some 9,000 fighters with some 12,000 auxiliary forces of local "rebels". Like ISIS, al-Qaeda in Syria is now isolated and no one is willing to come to its help. Its local helpers will give up and reconcile as soon as the Syrian army will move in on them. The hard-core militants will be killed.

The U.S. has told its proxy "rebels" to give up on their political project. Jordan is sending peace signals towards Damascus. The Syrian President Assad will not be removed and the country will stay under the protection of Russia and Iran. The U.S. still supports the Kurdish YPG fighters in Syria's north-east. But its relation with its NATO member Turkey will always be more important than any national Kurdish project. In the end the Kurds, like others, will have to accept the condition Damascus will set for them.