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06/01/2020

Monthly Review May 2020

Monthly Review May 2020

Europe

Germany vs. the European Commission

On May 11, the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leien, said that it was possible that the EU will start legal proceedings against Germany.

Earlier, the Constitutional Court of the Federal Republic of Germany ruled that the purchase of government bonds of the association countries by the European Central Bank was contrary to the basic German law. Thus, the German court ignored the decision of the European Court of Justice, that is, of a higher authority. Now Berlin may face sanctions up to a fine.

In fact, there is a debate about which laws and institutions are the main ones: national or European. The dispute between the main country of the EU – Germany – and the EU structures themselves testifies to the problems within the integration association. Even the country which receives the most from the European integration wants more national sovereignty now. That undermines the current vision of European integration.

Merkel vs. Trump

On May 29, Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel refused to accept the invitation of US President Donald Trump to the G7 summit. Merkel’s press office said the Chancellor could not come because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Merkel’s refusal to accept Trump’s invitation is the latest in a long line of examples of the complex relationship between the two leaders (Trump administration’s unilateral approach to a range of foreign policy issues, from climate change to the Iranian nuclear deal). The situation also demonstrates the tension in German-American relations.

Politico, citing a senior official, said Trump and Merkel in a telephone conversation this week had “hot differences” over the construction of the Nord Stream-2 pipeline. This pipeline may make Germany a huge gas hub, but the US opposes it as a tool of Russian influence on Europe. In fact, it is a tool of German influence as Germany would be the country that distributes the gas.

On May 26, US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grennell said that Congress might adopt new sanctions against Nord Stream 2.

Eurasia

Ukraine: a threat to Biden

On May 19, Ukrainian MP Andriy Derkach released several audio recordings where former President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko and former the Vice President of the US Joe Biden and Secretary of the State John Kerry discussed a number of Ukrainian domestic policy issues. Among other things, the interlocutors touched upon the issue of Viktor Shokin’s dismissal from the post of the Ukrainian Prosecutor General in exchange for $1 billion. According to Derkach, the footage shows that Kiev was under external management.

The publication of the recordings is unlikely to lead to an investigation against the former Ukrainian president. However, these materials also look bad for Joe Biden, who is the main rival of incumbent US President Donald Trump in the November 2020 election.

Middle East

US and France legitimize PKK/YPG

The United States has accelerated the delivery of troops and weapons to the PKK / PYD region in Syria since May 10. The goal of the United States, which also gives priority to infrastructure works, is to divide the oil of Syria.

On May 24, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Commander-in-Chief Mazloum Abdi met with US Maj. Gen. Eric Hill, who commands Special Operations Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (SOJTF-OIR).

A month earlier, Mazlum Abdi was also present at the meeting with the US military as the representative of the Kurdish High Council, which acts as a temporary government in the region. The head of the American delegation was Kenneth McKenzie, Commander of the US Central Command (CENTCOM). The talks were also attended by the US Special Representative for Fighting Against ISIS, Brett McGurk. The talks concerned the establishment of a successful independent power structure in the part of Syria occupied by Kurdish terrorists and where the US military is located near oil rigs.

On May 15, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu spoke out against the American negotiations between PKK/YPG and the Kurdish National Council (ENKS). ENKS had previously supported Turkey. However, now through negotiations with this structure, the US intends to pull it out of Ankara and legitimize the PKK/YPG terrorists. French diplomats are also working in Syria to unite the PKK/YPG and the Kurdish National Council.

Israel: the imminent annexation of the West Bank

On May 17, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his intention to annex the West Bank at a Knesset meeting. The statement was made at the meeting dedicated to the establishment of the new government of the country. The government will be formed by members of the Likud party and the opposition Kahol Lavan party. Netanyahu will be the head of the government in the first half of the Prime Minister’s term, then, General Benny Gantz will replace him.

In September 2019, Netanyahu said that the law on the extension of Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank would be adopted if he is re-elected as head of government. In response to Netanyahu’s statement, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced the termination of all treaties with Israel and the dissolution of the Palestinian National Authority.

King Abdullah II of Jordan warned of the threat of “large-scale conflict” if Israel implemented its plan to annex Palestinian territories in the West Bank.

Netanyahu’s determination is partly due to the plan to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, developed by US President’s son-in-law Jared Kouchner. This plan provides for the recognition of Israeli sovereignty over part of the West Bank and the creation of a Palestinian state for 70% of the remaining territories of the West Bank, as well as in the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

US acquiescence to Israeli aggression may leave the Palestinians with no chance of establishing an independent state.

North America

The riots in Minneapolis

Mass protests against racial discrimination started in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 26. The cause was the murder of African American George Floyd, who died in police custody. For almost eight minutes, a white policeman pressed an African American’s head to the asphalt with his knee, eventually killing him.

As a result of the protests that began after his death (which could well be qualified as murder), a riot began in the city. Many shops were set on fire. On May 29, the American National Guard entered Minneapolis. However, riots also broke out in New York and Los Angeles.

The uprising in Minneapolis is a demonstration of the split within American society, as well as the seemingly eternal racism in the United States.

In May 1992, there was the Los Angeles Uprising. This event in the run-up to the US presidential election cost Republican J. Bush a second senior presidential term.

Today, in May 2020, the protests in Minneapolis could launch a scenario that resembles events of almost thirty years ago to prevent Republican Trump from reaching a second presidential term.

Obamagate

Throughout the month, President Trump and his allies continued to promote the theory that former President Barack Obama was responsible for organizing an investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 US elections.

The theory was given a new impetus by the ongoing controversy over the case of former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn.

The Justice Department dropped the charges against Flynn – he was accused of lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador a few weeks before President Trump’s inauguration. US National Intelligence Chief Richard Grenell has declassified the names of senior Obama administration officials involved in “uncovering” or obtaining information about Flynn while he was under surveillance by US law enforcement. Among those officials was Joe Biden.

The US president intends to take revenge on his political opponents for organizing an investigation into the “Russian intervention”. In addition to seeking justice, ObamaGate aims to reduce Joe Biden’s chances of defeating President Trump in the election.

South America

The failure of Operation Gideon in Venezuela

On May 3, 2020, a group of American mercenaries attempted to invade Venezuela in order to capture President Nicolas Maduro. The invasion attempt was named “Operation Gideon” by its organizers. The mercenaries were operating from Colombian territory, where they had earlier signed an agreement with supporters of Juan Guaido, who last year proclaimed himself president of Venezuela and is backed by the United States.

Among those who tried to enter the territory of Venezuela, were Americans – former security guards for US President Donald Trump. The organizer of the coup attempt was the American Jordan Goudreau, a former Green Beret and the founder of the PMC Silvercorp. According to him, the US authorities and the Venezuelan opposition were aware of the operation. However, the Venezuelan security services and local residents were able to prevent the attempted coup.

Iranian tankers arrive in Venezuela

Iran undertook an unprecedented operation to deliver gasoline to Venezuela in May. The first of five tankers with gasoline on Sunday, May 24, arrived from Iran to Venezuela. The forth – on May 29.

The five tankers carry a total of about 1.5 million barrels of gasoline from Iran to Venezuela. Both countries are subject to US sanctions. Earlier it was reported that the United States intends to prevent the delivery of fuel to Venezuela and may impose penalties against the crews of the ships. However, the US has not yet tried to stop the Iranian tankers.

The reason why Venezuela, one of the largest oil producers in the world, imports gasoline from Iran is because of US sanctions and the lack of a strategy of self-sufficiency. American sanctions and the blockade have therefore been a severe blow to the country.

Africa

Libya’s turning point: US prepares for intervention

In late May, forces loyal to the Government of National Accord in Libya (GNA) launched a major offensive against the Libyan National Army of the renegade commander Khalifa Haftar. As a result, the GNA left several important locations around Tripoli, including Al-Watiya airbase. This base was Haftar’s main stronghold near Tripoli. The siege of Tripoli was lifted and the GNA troops won an important victory with Turkish support.

The news of the Turkish allies’ success coincided with the news of Russian mercenaries leaving the front. On May 24, Salem Alaywan, Mayor of the town Bani Walid said that the Wagner Group, which supported renegade commander Khalifa Haftar, left the country.

However, after the successes of the NTC, the US suddenly launched an information campaign justifying the possible deployment of its troops in Libya.

As an excuse, the Americans use the information about the Russian ‘intervention’ in the war in Tripoli (May 26 – the Pentagon’s report about the alleged transfer of Russian planes to Libya, May 29 – a statement about the threat from Russia and a statement about the introduction of the Security Forces Assistance Brigade in Tunisia).

However, the Americans had not previously expressed such a desire before GNA forces launched a successful offensive. Apparently, they were satisfied with everything, and now under the guise of “opposing the Russians” they want to stop the strengthening of Turkey, taking advantage of its victory. It should be noted that simultaneously with the anti-Russian statements on Libya, the US is also making anti-Turkish appeals to Ankara to stop providing assistance to the GNA.

Thus, when the US mulls entering Libya they aim not only on countering Russia, but on reducing Turkish influence to prevent the implementation of Mavi Vatan Strategy.

Elections in Burundi

On May 25, the election commission announced the results of the presidential elections in Burundi. The candidate from the ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) party Evariste Ndayishimiye won with 68.72% of the vote. He is the successor of former President Pierre Nkurunziza and had been nominated as the candidate of the CNDD-FDD. The results of the elections in Burundi demonstrate the determination of the country’s ruling elite to maintain continuity with the previous leadership.

In terms of regional geopolitics, it is important that, although President-elect Evarist Ndaimye, like his predecessor, belongs to the Hutu people, he has a better reputation than Pierre Nkurunziza. In particular, he was not involved in the Tutsi massacres of the 1990s. In addition, he has not been spotted in any corruption scandals. The new head of Burundi may be a figure acceptable enough for a dialogue with the leader of neighbouring Rwanda, Paul Kagame, representing the Tutsi people.

Asia

The Hong Kong Security Act

On May 18, the China People’s Congress  supported a bill on the security of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China. Delegates in Beijing approved a plan to adopt a new law that officially prohibits “separatism” and “rebellion” in Hong Kong.

The new law caused a new wave of pro-Western protests in Hong Kong itself. The US supported the protesters. In response to the adoption of the law, US President Donald Trump said that the US would begin depriving Hong Kong of its privileged status because it was no longer a separate part of China.

Confrontation between India and China

On May 23, the People’s Liberation Army of China introduced a five-thousandth military contingent into the Ladakh mountainous region. This followed clashes between Indian and Chinese military personnel in this area and Indian troops being brought on high alert.

At the same time, the territorial conflict between India and Nepal escalated, Nepal issued its new political and administrative maps on May 20, where disputed areas on the border with India were marked as Nepalese. India has protested. On May 25, Nepal announced that its army was ready to confront India in the disputed highland area.

New Deli also faces instability in Kashmir, with its predominantly Muslim population. Meanwhile, Pakistan and Nepal are now under the influence of China. Military pressure on India by China and its allies may be explained by the plans of the Indian leadership to move some production facilities from China to their country. These plans have also been supported in the US. Thus, India’s actions are part of the US geopolitical struggle with China and Beijing uses military might to counterattack this US strategy.

Will India maintain its sovereignty, or be used by the US in its confrontation with China?

Oceania

Victoria State and BRI

On May 24, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that Victoria State should break agreements with China. Earlier, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo called on Australia to abandon joint projects with China to build a 5G mobile network and the initiative “One belt – one way”. According to the American politician, these projects threaten the national security of the country.

The actions of the Australian federal government demonstrate that this country is not sovereign. Its policy is entirely dependent on the will of the United States.

United World International

Independent analytical center where political scientists and experts in international relations from various countries exchange their opinions and views.

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