The Multifaceted Russian-Turkish Conflict

russian pilots
© Sputnik/ Alexander Vilf Relatives of Russian Su-24 Pilot ‘Refuse to Believe He is Dead’

The following article was written on 27th November, therefore some of the details might have changed.
Wherever possible, I have made adjustments.

Just a few days after Turkish F-16s shot down the Russian Su-24 aircraft on 24th November, tens of scenarios and analysis have been published and broadcasted and they all have a common factor:

They accept that the players after the incident are much more than two and that a new chapter in foreign policies has opened.
The time perspective of the event itself will reveal the whole spectrum of participants, those concerned and the stakeholders, the number of who appears to be growing.
In the foreground, there are Russia, its president Vladimir Putin and their recent involvement in the war against ISIS in Syria on one hand, and the NATO member Turkey of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on the other.
Inevitably, the European Union and its two most powerful countries, Germany and France, become parts of this equation to a more or less obvious extent. They are both NATO members and that’s a role they have to support.
France’s wound of 13th November is fresh as much as are its president’s Francois Hollande declared intentions (and actions) to intensify war against terrorism of ISIS by cooperating with allies and not-so-allies, as is Russia.
To this end, all predictions and signs favored a joint effort with Russia and Mr Hollande’s meet with US president Barack Obama included smoothing of edges and bridging the gap between US and Russia in the name of the common cause.
An aspect of these policies is that Russia’s decision to operate against ISIS in Syria has been vindicated and it can be seen as a win of Vladimir Putin, whose country is blacklisted by NATO, USA and EU, i.e. from the West.
Even if NATO members defended the “right of Turkey to protect its land”, they didn’t provide any further support through public statements.
Therefore Erdogan, who at first seemed to have deterred the approach between West and Russia and the reinforcement of powers against ISIS willingly or not, failed to promote his country as a decisive regional factor.
Irrespective of Turkish president’s instability, as German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said on 25th November, and “exuberance”, by the defensive-aggressive movement of shooting a NATO non-friendly country’s war craft, Turkey repeated its practice of establishing de facto conditions (Cyprus occupation is one of them) and attempted to demonstrate and “tout” its role and status of NATO member.
Also, the overt and straight support to Turkmens could be interpreted as a “declaration” implying the “Kurdish factor”, i.e. Turkish friendly Vs Turkish hostile populations.
Only a short time before, Erdogan had highlighted Turkey’s ambitions to become member of EU and used the refugee crisis and the “need” of EU to ensure Turkish cooperation, in order to extract a promising result.
The obvious benefits though have been a few and so far limited to a financing from EU.
[During the conference of 29Nov., EU promised 3 billion euros which could, and they possibly will, increase and visa regime “rearrangements” and everyone turned a blind eye to the flagrant human rights violations. But then again, that’s the EU …]
So, Turkey decided to use the “NATO card”.

We have to remember that both Angela Merkel and Jean-Claude Junker “suggested” common Greek and Turkish rescue operations in Greek territorial waters.
When Greece rejected such type of Turkish involvement, Ms Merkel underlined that “both countries are NATO members”, as if it should be understood that the membership would allow common territorial grounds or that insured territorial security -for Greece.

It also goes without saying that inside his country Erdogan emphasizes in every possible way the factors of security and stability and projects the image of a strong, powerful, competent and determined leader.
This image covers and entertains impressions and reactions against his controversial “relationship” with civil rights and has even supported his party AKP in recent parliamentary elections.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has a more moderate approach and made efforts to express more peaceful intentions after the downing of the Russian jet.
Turkish and Russian presidents have several similarities as leading personalities and some observers would find similarities even in governing.
It’s their differences, though, which make the “difference” together with the roles of their countries with regard to international relations.

Within the recent picture, Syria remains the hot spot and the threat of ISIS is the global factor.
President Hollande had to suffer a second hit of French capital and citizens, in order to consider a plan of joint action, not restricted inside NATO frame and interests, but comprising several regional powers.
In this frame, while Vladimir Putin has taken a positive initiative (if war can ever be considered positive), Recep Tayyip Erdogan appears as the negative factor.
[The disclosures (within the country and after Putin had spoken about it publicly) of Turkish role and involvement in oil smuggling, triggered Erdogan’s beloved practice of overt censorship.]

The downing of jet incident brought to the forefront the many and “artfully” non-promoted by western media, dark spots of Turkish involvement and role in Syria crisis.
The day-after has brought Russian resolutions about sanctions to Turkey -and Russians know a lot about sanctions as imposed on them by USA allies.

Although some analysts have spoken about a WWIII, on one hand this seems to be happening now with all these open fronts all over the world, and on the other it is highly undesirable even by US, the “usual suspect” of initiating wars and invasions and at least during Obama’s administration.

The nightmare of a generalized regional war could involve:
Lebanon, a tormented country which recently has (silently) suffered major inland hits by terrorism,
Egypt, a country which is revising, rebuilding and expanding its foreign relations,
Jordan, because of proximity and as the hosting country of thousand of refugees,
and probably Iran as a Russian and Syria ally but also against ISIS.
It could also involve Israel, its phobic and pro war policies and, worst case scenario, its nuclear weapons.

The news “run”, tension intensifies or discharges sequentially, anything written could be soon outdated and the so called “diplomatic thriller” between Russia and Turkey continues. with Erdogan’s invitation to Putin to a meeting during World Climate Conference (COP21) in Paris.

[It is imperative to remember, although Davutoglu’s statements and attitude leaved no chance to forget, that Turkish diplomacy is among the (two in my opinion) most insolent of the world.
Another feature of their policies is (again among the two) to create «guilt complexes» to their interlocutors.
The combination of antidemocratic practices, together with the assassination of Tahir Elci, pro-Kurdish activist, made EU-Turkish approach more bitter.
]

At this point of time we can conclude that although hopes and fears are significant yet invisible and neglected factors of foreign policies, prudence, sangfroid and sobriety combined with care about people, are better consultants and should prevail for all participants, at last.

 

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FYROM: The next potential victim of western imperialism

FYROM_parliament_interior

The destabilization in one more country is being attempted in Former Yugoslavian Republic Of Macedonia (FYROM) by the West, namely USA. This time, the sine qua non local “liaison” is the leader of the opposition party Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM), Zoran Zaev.

According to international Media, this attempt is one more recognizable sign of the American and NATO imperialism and another brick in the wall of Cold War between USA and Russia (after Ukraine and Syria).

According to CIA’s World Factbook about FYROM: “A couple of major transshipment point for Southwest Asian heroin and hashish; minor transit point for South American cocaine destined for Europe; although not a financial center and most criminal activity is thought to be domestic, money laundering is a problem due to a mostly cash-based economy and weak enforcement. Since its independence in 1991, Macedonia has made progress in liberalizing its economy and improving its business environment, but has lagged the Balkan region in attracting foreign investment and corruption remains a significant problem”.

“Consolidation”, “need of reforms”, “democratization”, “freedoms”, “liberalization of economy” are the pretexts and eventually a change of government or of regime is attempted, and there are certain steps which follow and usually lead to destruction. These used methods seem so distinctive that they could barely miss the eye of even the most “innocent” observer although, according to an exhaustive analysis by Strategic Culture Foundation, this specific issue has a couple of hidden sides.

Apart from these, the pattern for toppling Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski (of christian democratic VMRO-Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity) and a government change attempt strictly follows some main features, factors and principles which remain unchanged.

Let’s examine some of the facts:

I. FYROM has been declared as “potential candidate” member of EU back in 2003 – 12 years after country’s declaration of independence in 1991 and two years after the insurgency of the ethnic Albanian National Liberation Army (NLA) militant group in 2001.
Furthermore, in 21 – 22 June 2002 “at the Seville Conference, the European Council expressed the willingness of the EU to take over from NATO in fYR Macedonia”.

It is worth noticing here the existing objection of Greece against the use of the name of the Greek region Macedonia. In EU the country’s official name is FYROM, which is though not used in numerous other occasions such as media, social media or by the USA et al.
Greece has vetoed FYROM’s NATO accession in 2008, and has been hindering the start of its EU accession talks.

The report of EU Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament “Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2010-2011” about FYROM, notes:
However, relations with Greece continued to be adversely affected by the unresolved name issue. The country is engaged in talks under the auspices of the UN on resolving it. Actions and statements which could negatively impact on good neighbourly relations should be avoided. The direct meetings at the highest political levels are positive steps, although this momentum has not yet led to concrete results. Maintaining good neighbourly relations, including a negotiated and mutually acceptable solution to the name issue, under the auspices of the UN, remains essential“.

The point here is (very) relevant to the economic crisis in Greece.
The meet of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras with Russian president Vladimir Putin alarmed USA and the announcement of a possible cooperation for a gas pipeline, alarmed both USA and EU.
Greece has longed suffered under the fear of “threat from the East” (i.e. Turkey).
Although the relationships of the two have not and will not normalize as long and the Cyprus issue remains unsolved, it is possible that a destabilized FYROM could be used as an additional “threat from the North” and therefore, as a means of pressure on Greece for “compliance, conformity and obedience”.

II. Government is set under pressure by the “revelations” of scandals (Accusations for wiretapping by the government, Purchase of an expensive car by the Prime Minister). After the above said accusations two ministers and the head of the intelligence have resigned while government denies the allegations about tapping, reports BBC.
Alleged use of vicious methods and wealth owned by leaders have been used in almost every case of regimes or governments overthrows. They are a common instrument of propaganda in order to “touch” sensitivity of public opinion.

III. In case that politics and accusations do not succeed in toppling the government and in order to impose faction and destabilization, people are “motivated” through social media to protests which resemble to these which led to destabilization in Ukraine, in “Arab Spring” in North Africa but failed and turned into war in Syria.
Additional pressure is applied by internal discord between ethnic, political or other groups which is incited by the opposition (SDSM and Zaev). Specifically, SDSM appears to have orchestrated protests in Kumanovo in May 5 and 6.
The protests turned violent and resulted to the death of six policemen (eight according to other Media) after clashes with albanian ethic groups.
The groups are said to be “terrorists who crossed the border and entered the territory of the Republic of Macedonia on May 5th and 6th”. SDSM has planned a rally for May 17th.

For this purpose, SDSM already mobilized the membership with focus on collecting abusers and people with multiple file of offenders and former prisoners with series of crimes”, comments local Kurir. Earlier, opposition leader “in an interview with the show ‘360 stepeni’ which is aired on Alsat television again revealed state secret and said that he knew of the terrorist group, but did not report to law enforcement authorities. Zaev admitted that the SDSM had evidence of movement of criminal structures, shared with the former leader Branko Crvenkovski, SDSM recognizing that there is parallel security service”, reports Kurir.

The strategy here is to apply dual mechanisms of pressure that can engage in ‘friendly competition’ with one another in seeing which can overthrow the government first. The only reason that this concept is even considered and that the Color Revolution hasn’t totally fizzled out by this time is because it’s gained some support from dissatisfied youth groups who have been manipulated into joining the anti-government protests. With the Color Revolution kept alive by a collection of youth and their heavily publicized tweets and protests, and the Unconventional War dependent on terrorism, the regime change operations’ social foundations are extremely weak, yet they have the potential for massive expansion if the 17 May destabilization events can gather more adults and Albanians (either through enticement or provocation)”, notes Strategic Culture Foundation.

IV. Foreign diplomats, potiticians and governments, all of them US alliances, criticise the government. After the clashes, EU said it was “deeply concerned, which is worrying for country’s candidacy to become EU member.

The opposition leader “refused to participate at the reconciliation meeting between the four largest parties, which was reportedly scheduled to take place on May 14th”, reports Novinite and continues: “According to media reports, Zaev would accept a meeting with Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski only in the presence of international mediators and representatives of the international community. The opposition leader dismissed the possibility of Gruevski heading a broad coalition government. Zaev called for the establishment of an interim government, which should prepare Macedonia for the holding of free, fair and democratic elections. The SDSM leader ruled out the participation of the incumbent prime minister and other people involved in crimes in an interim cabinet”.

The intentions of Zaev become more and more obvious. He displays his contempt to Prime Minister and challenges his authority. At the same time he demands the presence of “mediators and representatives of international community” as if Gruevski weren’t the elected leader.
Thus, after constructing the background, he calls into question the sovereignty of the government and uses external sources to essentially support the toppling.

The country is thereby driven to extensive conflicts and doomed to destabilization or:

V. If needed, in the next stage the methods of propaganda, public discontent and protests are degenerated to violence with the use of militant groups supported and armed by the US as is the case of Ukraine and as has already happened in FYROM.

Meanwhile, after clashes with police, “Russia accused Western organisers on Saturday (May 16) of trying to foment a colour revolution in the troubled former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, where political tensions are building ahead of an opposition rally on Sunday” and “the EU and NATO have called for a transparent investigation into last week’s killings”, reports Reuters.

The reaction of Russia could be taken for granted and as mentioned above, one more front opens in order to further demonize the country of Putin and to further implicate EU in case that Angela Merkel’s visit to Moscow on May 10th, a day after Moscow’s vast military parade in honor of the 70th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany, would be translated as sign of reconciliation.

Conservative government of Skopje will have to resist pressure and fraudulent practices and any change has to be peacefully conducted by people and not from Western interests. 
The most important challenge though is to avoid internally and externally “submitted” violence and conflicts.

 

The “Impose Sanctions and Conquer” Doctrine of USA

Americas Summit Panama

 

Also published in: Reader Supported News/Writing for Godot

Within a time of days, since the start of April, two countries have come very close to get rid of the long imposed sanctions by USA.
First Iran and then Cuba have reached in a good point of amelioration of relationships with their foe and are close to an ending of the imposed sanctions.
“Disfavor” and “punishment” have started 50 years ago in Cuba, during Cold War, and soon after the Islamic revolution of 1979, in Iran. In both cases, the sanctions followed the revolutions and the change of regimes, non capitalist policies, nationalization of oil (in Iran), of companies, services and country’s wealth. Also in both cases, before the revolutions, US had deeply involved in internal affairs and had secured conformity of the governments.
After revolutions they never stopped attempting the overturn of regimes – their endearing practice worldwide. Cases of US espionage in Cuba as well as attempts to organize dissident movements (according to the successful “arab spring” standards) reveal until recently.

In Iran, as Juan Cole in Informed Comment reminds us: “It is worth pointing out that one of the reasons Obama has difficulty in his negotiations with Iran is that its leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, distrusts Washington because of its long history of intervention in Iran. The US along with its WWII allies invaded and occupied Iran in the 1940s; the allies overthrew the ruler, Reza Shah Pahlevi in 1941. In 1953 the CIA conducted a coup against popular Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh because he led the nationalization of Iranian oil.
After the 1979 Islamic Revolution of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the US allied with Saddam Hussein of Iraq, who had invaded Iran in a wanton act of naked aggression in 1980. When Saddam used chemical weapons against Iranian troops, the US ran interference for Baghdad at the UN Security Council, ensuring that Baathist Iraq was not sanctioned for its war crimes against Iran.
So maybe Obama needs a sidebar with Khamenei to reassure him that Washington is not trying to overthrow him, either.”

Timing, capitalism and profit

The question which arises after the recent developments is “why now?” Although the two “cases” are completely different, a first insufficient answer is the attempt of President Barack Obama to ensure his own and Democratic Party’s legacy during the last year of his presidency.
It is not a totally satisfying answer, even if Obama might actually be “an honest man”, as Cuban President Raoul Castro said. Apart from honest though, Obama still is the President of the almighty USA.

As “peace” and conciliatory policies are not typical of US, a more realistic version could be the need to close any “unnecessary” open fronts worldwide despite pressures from neocon Republicans and jingoes of NRA.
On the other hand, progressives within the country are demanding less aggressive policies, as longstanding wars have not only proved ineffective and costly but have also showed their wrongful and detrimental motivations.
Furthermore, the dominant principle in US (i.e. in capitalism) is profit. Sanctions burden American economy, not only that of the “punished” countries and don’t give earnings from sales of weaponry.

So sanctions, especially long-standing ones, have political cost apart from economic and reach a crucial point, when it becomes necessary to lift them.
American companies are going to seek profits from Cuba and it is Cuba’s responsibility to manage and control hawks’ involvement in national affairs (a danger that EU is close to suffer if they sign TTIP neglecting people’s objections).
There is also strong possibility that US will use normalization of relationships with Cuba as a means to succeed closer approach to other South American countries.

US has opened a huge front against Russia, under their own crafted pretext of Ukraine, and until their own and EU pressures pay back, they simply lose profits while they do not have the anticipated gains of their expansionism.
They also continue sanctions as well as attempts to overturn government in Venezuela* and, additionally, they have to “pay” the cost of past nourishing of fighters who became the core of ISIS.

Imperialism behind human rights

“Axis of evil” has shrunk significantly since Iraq became a conquered country, after Libya was destroyed and after Syria entered the US-crafted and non ending war. It is also going to further weaken as soon as a final deal will be signed with Iran. A large part of “destruction policies” could be attributed to the former Secretary of the State and new candidate for US presidency, Hilary Clinton. As far as it concerns the remaining North Korea, Japan could be the first frontier if necessary.

However, military threat is not the only reason which US invoke when it comes to sanctions. Human rights and their strictly American interpretation often form a pretext for imposing sanctions. Never mind if human rights are violated by numerous “allies” and within US.
It makes no difference if a society is functional despite whatever problems.
If a country doesn’t follow a certain model of life, if its government does not conform to Western standards, if strategic considerations or intelligence want them to “reform”, either a war or sanctions will be the consequences.
The internal administration and the sovereignty of any such country, surely threaten “democracy” and therefore, US have to take initiative. In case that propaganda by NGOs and press and attempts of erosion and/or overturning of government do not succeed, intelligence takes control and isolation follows.
Venezuela is a representative sample of this doctrine. That is why after several attempts of coups in collaboration with opposition have been made and failed, Obama issued an executive order on 9th March with which declared the country an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security”.*
On the eve of Summit of the Americas in Panama, where Castro and Obama met, People’s Summit of the Americas, issued a document, which was approved by more than 2,000 representatives and condemned what it called, “military aggression and threats by the United States and their strategic allies carried out through the establishment of military bases in the region” according to teleSUR information.

Aggressiveness and domination

The case of Russia does not follow above rule of “safeguarding” human rights. Russia has a record of human rights violations which didn’t bother in the slightest the “democratic” West. The manufactured rising in Ukraine ended with outrage and autonomy of pro-Russian Crimean regions and with a war induced by NATO.
If Russia had retracted, if Putin had succumbed without acting, a large part of population would have been led into EU’s and NATO’s “embrace” and no sanctions would have been imposed.
Alternatively, another way of isolating Russia would have been induced.
In the same time, propaganda would persuade the world that rising in Ukraine was spontaneous and that people’s future is in their hands.
In the meantime, the “compliant” EU loads an extra weight on the backs of its people by imposing sanctions and suffering the consequences.

Though world changes (even Tayyip Erdogan visited Iran), let’s not fool ourselves and let’s hope that neither Iranian and Cuban people nor their governments fool themselves by believing that the “war” has ended.

* South American countries back Venezuela and UNASUR, the Non-Alignement Movement, CELAC and the G77+China, condemned Obama’s Executive Order. 

Relative from the web:
Hope on the Horizon and It Comes from Greece – Paul Craig Roberts

Neocon ‘Chaos Promotion’ in the Mideast – Consortiumnews.com

 

Alexis Tsipras’ visit in Moscow The aftermath

Tsipras-visits-moscow-5

On 8th April, a few days before Orthodox Christian Easter, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras visited Moscow, the capital of Russia, and met with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

While this was “one of the many visits” that the new Head of the Government of any country is expected to carry out (a few days earlier Mr. Tsipras had visited German Chancellor Angela Merkel), it proved that this specific travel to Russia has triggered disproportionately many reactions, especially among the officials of the EU.
For example, the president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, felt obliged to warn Greek Prime Minister not to “endanger” the common European policies against Russia.
Although we shall not analyze in this article the issue, the background, the expediency, the appropriateness, the ultimate purposes and the side effects of these policies, it is worth noticing that neither the president of the E.P. nor any official of a country or an institution has the right to “warn” the leader of a state about anything.
After all, in which way Mr. Tsipras could endanger the supposedly solid and righteous policies of EU? Could Greece unilaterally lift sanctions? It is proved they cannot.
If any unilateral action could be taken, Russia would have possibly agreed to lift sanctions against Greek agricultural products, a disastrous side-effect of sanctions of EU against Russia.
Even the use of the word “controversial” by Media seems having the intention to creating negative impressions. These reactions combined with a few other aspects of the conversations between the two leaders, worth some further analysis.

One of the dominant subjects discussed, according to the two leaders’ statements, has been the construction of a pipeline which will transfer gas within Greek territory and will be the extension of the pipeline which passes through Turkey.
While the profits deriving from this pipe are connected and are relative to energy sufficiency and autonomy for Greece, as Alexis Tsipras stated, there is a question about this project and this question has to do with the promoted Energy Union project which was launched in March 2015 by the EU.
Apart from any other (many) controversies of this Union which has been questioned by scientists, its so-called environmental profits are also questioned.
Additionally, the target of 20/20/20 includes measures for climate.
To this controversy, we have to add the controversial or even catastrophic results of earlier “unions”- such as Agricultural, Monetary etc- for the weaker, less populated and with “obedient” neo-liberal governments, member-states.
Energy Union, not accidentally at all, followed sanctions against Russia and coincides chronologically to the discussions of infamous Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between EU and USA which until now has not been signed mostly because of German objections, no matter how calamitous the agreement has proved to be.
EU is also an “open” market for the Canadian tar sands oil, furthermore in front of the uncertainty about Keystone XL, at least during Obama administration.
If and when the terms of the agreement become profitable for Germany et al., it is certain to be imposed to other member-states.

Could Greece sign an agreement with Russia, if it contradicts the terms of the Energy Union?
In the same way by which Athens is in fact not allowed to ask money from lenders other than IMF or EU (which is the explanation of the attempt to create climate of fear with “leaks” and publications about Grexit soon after the travel to Moscow), in the same way by which Bulgaria, after the impose of sanctions to Putin and Russia, was ordered to stop the construction of the profitable for the country South Stream pipeline (which bypasses Ukraine and probably because of this reason was undesirable for EU and USA) and was threatened to be deprived of economic support if they denied, in this same way Greece will not likely be allowed to build the pipeline.

If all earlier Greek governments had not realized how important the country is or they had chosen not to shield the country’s interests and not to take advantage of their geostrategic place, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the new Greek government, have to play smartly and to use their strong cards for the benefit of the Greek people.
Many, inside and outside Greece, could argue that any action not approved by the European partners, could lead Greece outside EU.
An ousting of a “disobedient” member would certainly be one more demonstration of punitive policies conducted by Germany et al.
On the other hand, the upheaval caused by the visit of Greek Prime Minister in Moscow is a fine example of the fear which is caused to the dominant EU powers when a member-state exercises its right to independent national policy.
Mr. Tsipras says (and we believe him) that “wants” EU although, with all due respect, he most likely wants the European ideals of the once preached Europe of the People.
The EU of the present much less the EU of the future, is not “of the People”.
Even if it is called “EU of the citizens”, in fact it is the EU of the rich and powerful who act according to a political, cultural and ideological conservative conception.

Relationships within the EU resemble to these of  troubled marriages of older times:
The obliged by social conventions not to work member is financially dependent and therefore weaker.
This member, the wife in most cases, thinks that she cannot afford to abandon the bad husband. Therefore she suffers psychological blackmail by the owner of the wealth.

Instead of an epilogue: If indeed (as it is published) a leader of a European country has warned Alexis Tsipras not to become “useful idiot” for Russia (a phrase falsely attributed to Vladimir Lenin), someone has to tell him or her that potential useful idiots are certainly more decent than useless and volunteer idiots.