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Monthly review: October 2018

Monthly review: October 2018

Europe

Bosnia and Herzegovina: general elections

On October 7, 2018, general elections were held in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The most significant outcome was the election of Milorad Dodik from the Republika Srpska as President of Bosnia and Herzegovina. His party, the Union of Independent Social Democrats, also remained a majority in the Republika Srpska parliament. Dodik’s associate Zelka Tsviyanovich became the new president of the Republika Srpska in his place.

In the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina – the second most important political formation of the Republic, the Muslim Party of Democratic Action, achieved its greatest results to date. Their candidate, Shefik Dzhaferovic, became the second member of the presidium, and represents Bosnian Muslims. Croats will be represented by Zeljko Komšić… however, his opponents have already accused him of achieving  victory as a result of the Muslim-vote, which means that the Croats have de facto  lost their representative.

The election results show the growing influence of Serbian patriots in the framework of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the one hand, and, the strengthening of political Islam on the other. The fact that a supporter of creating a separate Croatian public entity within Bosnia, Dragan Covic, will not enter the presidium, temporarily prevents a scenario where the republic would dissolve into separate entities.

Erdogan’s visit to Hungary

On October 8-9th, Turkish President Recep Erdogan visited Hungary. He and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban agreed on the development of bilateral relations, primarily in the economic sector. For Hungary, Turkey is a priority partner, allowing them to build a balanced policy in relations with the EU, Russia and China. For Turkey in its current conditions, it is important to have support within the EU and NATO, which Hungary can help provide.

Macedonian Parliament votes on renaming the country

On October 19th, the Parliament of Macedonia voted to rename the country. Although a referendum on this issue failed earlier this year, the government, with US support, managed to win over the necessary number of deputies to carry out the decision. To do this, the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Wess Mitchell, intervened in the vote. Renaming the country to “Northern Macedonia”, in accordance with the agreement reached between Macedonia and Greece in June 2018, opens the way for Macedonia to join NATO and the EU.

A significant portion of the population of both Macedonia and Greece is against the renaming. However, NATO, regardless of the national feelings of the Greeks and Macedonians, is imposing the “compromise” solution” on them in order to quickly instill Macedonia into the NATO alliance.

The end of the Merkel era

On October 29th, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that she would not be re-elected as Chancellor after 2021. According to German media, in December 2018 she will leave the post of party leader of the Christian Democratic Union. The CDU lost a significant number of votes during elections in the Hesse. In the Bavarian elections which took place on October 14th, the main coalition partner of the CDU, the Christian Social Union, also lost a significant number of votes. Elections to the Landtags showed a sharp increase in support for two forces – the right, including the conservative “Alternatives for Germany”, and the left-liberal “Greens”.

In conditions of political instability, falling ratings and with the impending threat of elections, it is unlikely that Angela Merkel will be able to remain German chancellor until 2021.

NATO exercises in Norway

On October 25th in Norway, the military exercise Trident Juncture began. These are the largest NATO exercises since the end of the Cold War. 50,000 personnel, 10,000 vehicles, 65 ships and 250 aircrafts from 31 NATO allies and partner nations are participating. The main goal is to contain Russia and show the alliances military strength. The exercises show the preparation of NATO countries for combat operations in the Arctic, which is important both for confronting Russia and in terms of monitoring resources and transport routes in this region.

Latin America

Brazil: a right turn

On October 28th, Brazil held the second round of their presidential elections. Right-wing candidate Jair Bolsonaro was announced the winner, receiving 55.54% of the votes. His opponent, the leftist ex-mayor of Sao Paulo Fernando Haddad, received – 44.46%.

Bolsonaro’s victory shows a loss of confidence in the left in Brazil, and most of all in the Workers’ party which ruled the country from 2002 to 2016, as well as a new demand for right-wing populism. The new president promises to focus on protecting the country’s national interests and ensuring internal security.

In the area of ​​foreign policy, rapprochement with the USA is expected. At the same time, the position of China will weaken: Bolsonaro has strongly criticized China in the past. Brazil is expected to decrease its activity in the BRICS formation significantly. In regional politics, the country will put more pressure on Venezuela and Cuba. The new president of Brazil does not have any sympathy for left-wing regimes, and could even be described as openly hostile.

Migrants storm the US

Migrants from Central America — Guatemala and Honduras in particular— have organized two processions or “caravans” to the US borders through Mexico. Similar to an event which took place during the spring of this year, the caravans were organized with the assistance of the left-liberal structure of Pueblo Sin Fronteras, supported by various liberal funds. Among the structures that help with logistics for the caravans are the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project, which includes the Catholic Immigration Council (AIC), the American Immigration Council (AIC) and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Some of these organizations are funded by the George Soros Open Society Foundation. The total number of migrants involved in the marches exceeded 5,000.

The purpose of the caravans is to exert political pressure on the United States, and to paint President Donald Trump in a negative light, as he needs to make a decision to stop the caravan, and will likely need to use military force.

North America

USMCA replaces NAFTA

On October 1st, the US, Canada and Mexico reached an agreement to withdraw from NAFTA and replace it with a new deal called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The agreement was an important economic and political victory for Donald Trump. It changed the rules of the trade agreement in the ways that the US insisted on. By revoking NAFTA, Trump fulfilled one of the primary promises of his presidential campaign.

A Cold Civil-War in the USA

In the United States, on the eve of the mid-term elections scheduled for November 6th, the split in society between opponents and supporters of President Donald Trump has deepened. In the last week of October, Trump’s opponents, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, George Soros and Robert de Niro, began to receive homemade bombs by mail. The liberal media blamed the incumbent president for allegedly stirring up “an atmosphere of hate.”

Later, the security services established that the package was sent by a Trump supporter – Cesar Sayoc.

On the 27th of October, 11 people were killed during an attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. The perpetrator, Robert Bowers, was an advocate of conspiracy theories and argued that Jews were in control of President Trump.  These events showcase the rising tensions within US society. These events have been exploited by democrats in order to take revenge for their defeat in the presidential elections of 2016.

The End of the INF Treaty

On October 21st, Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of the United States from the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Short-Range Missiles of 1987 – the INF Treaty. The US and Russia were both parties in the agreement.

Trump claims to have withdrawn from the treaty because Russia was violating its provisions. Another and more important reason for the withdrawal was that the treaty did not place restrictions on China and other countries. The consequences of the US withdrawal from the treaty could be the militarization of Europe, where medium-range nuclear missiles can be installed by both the US and Russia. It is possible that the United States will now also deploy missiles in the Middle East, although the probability of deploying land-based missiles there is minimal, as is the case in Eastern Asia.

Another consequence of the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty will be the expansion of the US’ arms market, particularly in the production and sale of short-range and medium-range missiles.

Africa

Cameroon: loyalty to tradition

On October 7th in Cameroon, presidential elections were held. The oldest leader in Africa, Paul Biya, who has been in this post since 1982, won the election. He received 71% of the votes cast. The elections demonstrated that significant changes in Cameroon’s foreign policy are unlikely. Nevertheless, on the eve of their opposition, the English-speaking south of the country, rich in oil, became a stronghold of the opposition. Growth of separatist tendencies, tension and conflicts between separatists and the authorities are expected.

Ethiopia – the feminization of power

On October 25th in Ethiopia, for the first time in history, the presidential post was taken by a woman. Sahle-Work Zewde was elected by the parliament as the country’s president. Her predecessor, Mulatu Teshome, resigned because of dissatisfaction with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s policies.

Earlier, on October 16th, Abiy Ahmed introduced a new cabinet wherein 50% of all the ministers are women. Even the Minister of Defense in the new government is a woman, which is highly unusual for the patriarchal society of Ethiopia as a whole. The new step is likely to satisfy the Western public and set the course for western-style reforms, as well as to facilitate investment and assistance from European countries.

Asia

S-400s for India

On October 4-5th, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s official visit to Delhi took place. Following talks held with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a number of documents were also signed, including a contract for the supply of S-400 Triumph long-range anti-aircraft missile systems for $ 5 billion.

India will receive the S-400s despite warnings from the United States that American restrictive measures may follow. India’s step indicates a desire to develop a sovereign policy in the field of arms procurement.

Pakistan becomes more dependent on Saudi Arabia

On October 23rd, Prime Minister Imran Khan secured $6 billion in debt relief from Saudi Arabia during his visit to Riyadh. Pakistan is trying to solve its economic problems, but in doing so has become dependent on Saudi Arabia. This could have a negative effect on Pakistan’s relations with neighboring Iran, and lead to a complication of the situation in Afghanistan, where local extremists are loyal to the conservative circles of the Gulf countries.

Sri Lanka: political crisis

In Sri Lanka, a political crisis erupted after October 26th when President Maithripala appointed his predecessor, Mahinda Rajapaksa, as the country’s new prime minister.

Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe called his removal from office unconstitutional. His United National Party (UNP) holds a majority in Sri Lanka’s parliament. In response, the president suspended parliament entirely. Supporters of the Parliament and the Prime Minister took to the streets in protest. The return of Rajapaksa, who oversaw heavy Chinese investments in the country during his presidential tenure in 2005-2015, raises questions about whether China is seeking to re-establish its influence in Sri Lanka.

China and Japan: rapprochement via Trump

On October 25-27th, Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe visited China. This is the first official visit of the Japanese leader to Beijing. The parties signed about 50 agreements on bilateral cooperation, and business representatives from both countries signed contracts for some $ 18 billion. The head of the Japanese government announced its desire to bring the relations of the two countries into a “new era.”

The rapprochement of positions between countries is more important than ever in a situation of incessant trade wars and growing international tensions. The countries, despite many contradictions, are coming together in response to Washington’s trade pressure.

Middle East

Istanbul Summit

On October 27th, the first 4-party summit of the leaders of Russia, Turkey, France and Germany was held in Istanbul. The event was organized at the initiative of Turkish President Recep Erdogan. The main topic on the agenda was the situation in Syria.

One of the main agreements was the decision to create a Constitutional Committee before the end of the year , which will work out the development of a new constitution for Syria. It was confirmed that Idlib will remain in Turkey’s zone of influence.

Russia, Germany, Turkey and France are of the same opinion: settlement in the SAR is possible only through political and diplomatic means, along with the unity of the country. The latter condition limits the separatist plans of radical Kurdish organizations that, with US support, control the eastern part of Syria. The summit can be considered a great success for Turkey and a political settlement in Syria.

The Killing of Jamal Khashoggi

On October 2nd, Saudi opposition journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, was killed in the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul. Saudi Arabia initially denied the murder, but was later forced to admit to it. Nevertheless, Riyadh is shifting responsibility from the country’s top leadership to the direct perpetrators.

The killing of Khashoggi seriously hurt Saudi Arabia’s imagine throughout the world. US President Donald Trump, who is trying with all his might to maintain close relations with Saudi Arabia despite the pressure of Congress and the opposition Democratic Party, is coming under attack as a result. The US is betting on Saudi Arabia and Israel in opposition to Iran in the region.

At the same time, the uncompromising position of Turkey, which is seeking the punishment of all those involved in the murder, have earned it the sympathy of the the Muslim world. This natural decline in popularity and cooperation with Saudi Arabia brings Turkey to a position of primacy in the Sunni world.

Ankara, who is leading the investigation into the murder, now has a powerful lever of pressure on both Riyadh and Washington.

Pastor Brunson goes home

On October 12th, US citizen Pastor Andrew Brunson was released in Turkey. Despite the fact that he was found guilty and sentenced to three years and 45 days in prison, he was credited with the time served and was released in court. Brunson had been accused of involvement in the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, and espionage.

Branson’s arrest was one reason for worsening relations between Turkey and the United States, the United States even imposing a series of sanctions against Turkish leadership as a result. His release affords a chance to improve relations between the two countries. Nevertheless, the refusal of the United States to extradite Fethullah Gülen remains a significant source of tension.

Turkey is preparing for a new operation against the allies of the PKK in Syria

In the near future, Ankara will launch a large-scale operation against the Kurdish Popular Self-Defense Detachment (YPG) in the territories of Syria east of the Euphrates, as Erdogan announced on October 30th. Erdogan exclaimed that Ankara will not allow the forces that started “dirty games with the militants of the Islamic State to plunge Syria into the abyss of bloody chaos ” to do so again. With this statement, Turkey is openly challenging the United States, which supports the Kurdish military formations. Agreements on concessions in the region by the United States have been made in the past, but as tensions rise, more significant action will need to be taken.

Yemen: US stands to end conflict

On October 30th, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced that Saudi Arabia needs to stop bombarding Yemen, and the Houthi movement needs to  stop shelling Saudi territories.

This is a major change in the American position. Previously, the United States unconditionally supported the actions of the Saudi coalition. Most likely, the change was motivated by the deterioration of relations with Saudi Arabia after Khashoggi’s killing. As it stands, a truce is the only option for Saudi Arabia to end their hopeless war without losing face.

Eurasia

Latvia: The Pyrrhic victory of”Harmony”, and populist success.

On October 6th, parliamentary elections were held in Latvia. The largest number of votes was received by the “Consent” party, which enjoys the support of the Russian-speaking minority – 19%. In second place with 14% was the new populist party KPV LV– the national populists from the New Conservative Party received slightly less votes. The ruling bloc of National Unity, New Unity, Union of Greens and Peasants suffered a crushing defeat.

The most likely outcome will be the formation of a government without the participation of “Harmony” – as the other Latvian parties refuse to cooperate with Russian politicians. However, populist success suggests that forces of this kind making advances in Europe is a steady trend.

Bolton’s Transcaucasian tour

On October 24-26th, US National Security Advisor to the President John Bolton visited three countries of the South Caucasus – Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia. On Oct. 24th, he visited Azerbaijan, where he met President Ilham Aliyev. One day later he met with Prime Minister Pashinian and discussed the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

In Azerbaijan and Armenia, Bolton spoke openly about the need to contain Iran. The United States is trying to integrate these countries into its anti-Iranian policy. On the other hand, the US is interested in containing Russia and Turkey, for which they also need the support of other countries in the region. Of particular interest here is Armenia, where pro-Western forces came into power in the spring of last year.

Georgia: The Last Direct Presidential Election

On October 28th, presidential elections took place in Georgia. The former Georgian foreign minister, a former French citizen Salome Zurabishvili, who enjoys the support of the ruling “Georgian Dream” party, won 38.64% of the vote in the first round. Opposition candidate Grigol Vashadze from the party of ex-President Mikhail Saakashvili received 37.74%.

The second round will take place no later than December. The president in Georgia has less political influence than the prime minister… however, should Vashadze win, opportunities for dialogue with Russia (with whom Georgia was in a state of war in 2008), Turkey and Iran will be drastically reduced as a result of the candidate’s staunch pro-globalist orientation.

Schism in world Orthodoxy

On October 15th, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church decided to completely break off Eucharistic communion with the Patriarch of Constantinople. The Patriarchate of Constantinople acted to create an autocephalous church in Ukraine, which is contrary to church law. Toward this end, Patriarch Bartholomew, in violation of church law, entered into contact with the anathematized head of the Ukrainian schismatics, “Patriarch Philaret.”

Thus, there was a split in world Orthodoxy between the religion’s primary groupings – the Moscow Patriarchate and the Patriarchate of Constantinople. The rhetorically globalist claims made in Constantinople (the doctrine of primacy in the Orthodox world and the ability to meddle in the affairs of other churches) indicate the geopolitical content of the split.

It is well known that Patriarch Bartholomew has a close relationship with the Turkish terrorist Fethullah Gülen, and, like  the latter, has the support of the United States.

Oceania

Australia discusses recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated on October 16th that Canberra is open to recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. This information was confirmed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The decision has not yet been made officially. The main concern is that such an action will complicate relations with neighboring Muslim Indonesia.

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