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12/28/2020

2020: main events and trends of the year

2020: main events and trends of the year

Major global trends:

COVID-19

The new coronavirus pandemic was the biggest problem for all humankind in 2020. What began as just another virus has become a pandemic on a scale comparable to the deadly Spanish flu a century ago.

According to the WHO, 72.4 million people have been infected with the coronavirus. Coronavirus has become a major challenge to public health systems around the world. The pandemic also tested the strength of government systems worldwide.

In the end, China demonstrated the effectiveness of its social and political system by being one of the first to cope with the pandemic. China is now virtually free of the coronavirus, and the United States is the country where the situation is the most dire.

The pandemic has given rise to many versions regarding the origin of the coronavirus. In particular, alternative media discussed the possibility that the virus appeared first in the United States, not in China (leakage from American laboratories and the artificial nature of the coronavirus).

Globalist circles used the pandemic as an excuse to promote the Great Reset program put forward by the World Economic Forum, calling for a reset of the world economy. The program was supported by leading globalists such as Prince Charles, the Pope Francis and Joe Biden.

Reinforcing Digital Fascism

Various media giants over the course of 2020 have acted with total impunity and finally forced countries to respond to the challenge. In fact, GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple), Twitter, Instagram, Youtube began to dictate their own terms, becoming more and more like self-sufficient digital states.

In 2020, there was a wave of blocks against the accounts of TV channels, famous politicians, personalities, and even state platforms.

Among the most high-profile are the blocking of President Donald Trump’s tweets, the blocking of the Twitter account of the Hungarian government, the banning of the YouTube account of One America News Network (which shares Trump’s views). Twitter temporarily blocked the personal account of Pennsylvania Senator Doug Mastriano, censoring media (such as The Detroit News’ after their support of Republican candidate John James) and many other cases of removing entire Google accounts without warning or right of restoration.

Prior to 2020, this has also happened more than once to alternative media outlets and characters: Alex Jones’ Infowars channel was deleted from Youtube, Facebook, and Apple, for example.

Former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo has publicly called for people who disagree with him to be “lined up against the wall and shot.”

Social networks are actively interfering with countries’ domestic political agendas. The 2020 US election is the best example. The posts of Trump’s supporters were deleted or tagged as questionable content, and Facebook enthusiast groups that posted evidence of election fraud were simply deleted. Facebook is censoring a New York Post “bombshell” story about Joe Biden’s foreign lobbying scandal, deliberately reducing its distribution on the platform.

YouTube announced that it will now remove “any content” claiming that the results of last year’s presidential election were rigged.

New Zealand’s political party Advance NZ caused a scandal after its Facebook page was removed, allegedly for containing false information about the coronavirus pandemic. The ban comes just two days before the general election.

The protests received highly politicized coverage on social media. In targeted ads, many users received information about “China’s totalitarianism in Hong Kong,” “BLM protests against the Trump regime,” and very one-sided coverage of protests in Europe, Belarus, Israel, etc.

Not content with the current level of censorship, Twitter has raised the bar again, announcing a new policy under which users will be issued a warning if they “like” a tweet containing “misinformation” that the social network deemed “disinformation.”

Google is also not losing momentum: It has introduced a FactCheck line in its search engine. For example, when searching for information about the deleterious effects of Bill Gates’s vaccine, the search automatically returns articles about it as False. A similar system of so-called “independent fact-checkers” has begun to be used on social networks.

At the same time social media giants ignore local laws of countries: they suppress competitors, violate anti-trust laws, block official accounts, while filtering really dangerous content (terrorism, pornography, and others), do not pay all fines, and do not open official representations in countries (for example, Turkey began to actively fight this, introducing corresponding legislation and imposing several large fines).

What we have seen in 2020 is not just isolated restrictions on social media. It is the exposure of the totalitarian nature of the liberal doctrine behind social media. Liberalism is not about freedom of opinion, but instead about the destruction of anyone who does not agree with the accepted mainstream.

Only strict policies of nation states can prevent this digital fascism: requirements for representation, submission to local laws, secure storage of user data exclusively within the state, etc. The EU has already introduced strict antitrust regulations, which could cause the giants to lose a significant portion of their annual revenues, and requirements to filter terrorist content more strictly. In the US, the Federal Trade Commission is pursuing major lawsuits against them, as a result of which Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg will probably be forced to separate Instagram and WhatsApp from the company. This became possible after most states filed a complaint against Facebook.

The Turkish parliament passed a law in late July that strengthens control over social networks – if more than 1 million users per day visit them in Turkey, they must open a local branch and appoint a representative with Turkish citizenship. If this requirement is not met, the traffic of popular social networks can be restricted by a court by 95 percent. Western companies are also required to store user data on servers in Turkey.

Since Turkey’s new law to tighten social media regulation came into force, a number of companies, particularly Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Periscope, YouTube and TikTok, have been subjected to heavy fines.

Regional Trends:

Eurasia

War in Nagorno-Karabakh: Triumph of Azerbaijan and Turkey

An offensive by Azerbaijani troops in Nagorno-Karabakh complemented by the large-scale use of aviation, armored vehicles, artillery, and UAV strikes began on the morning of September 27. According to Azerbaijani Defense Ministry, the mobilization was a counterattack operation launched in response to the shelling of several Azerbaijani settlements by the Armenian side.

The military action was successful for the Azerbaijani army, which liberated large territories occupied by the Armenians. Azerbaijani troops seized control of the border with Iran. The capture of Shusha on November 9 put an end to the conflict.

On the night of November 9-10, Azerbaijani and Russian presidents Ilham Aliyev and Vladimir Putin and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan signed an agreement for peace in Nagorno-Karabakh. It provides for the deployment of Russian peacekeepers, withdrawal of Armenian forces from regions surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh and leaving under Azerbaijani control a part of Nagorno-Karabakh, including the city of Shusha. A Turkish monitoring mission is also being deployed in Azerbaijan.

All Azerbaijani territories occupied by Armenian forces outside the former Soviet Armenian Autonomy in Azerbaijan were returned under the control of official Baku according to this document.

According to the agreement, a 5 km wide Lachin corridor will be created to provide a connection of Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia, and Russian peacekeeping forces will be deployed along the corridor. Armenia in turn undertook to guarantee the security of transport communication through the territory of Armenia between the western regions of Azerbaijan and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic for the unimpeded movement of citizens, vehicles and goods in both directions.

Thus, Azerbaijan achieved victory both on the battlefield and at the negotiating table. Azerbaijan’s convincing victory was made possible by President Ilham Aliyev’s wise policy of diplomatic and military support from Turkey.

From the first days of the conflict Ankara has stated its uncompromising support for Baku’s actions to restore the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Turkey’s military assistance, especially the Bayraktar TB2 drones, were a decisive factor in ensuring military victory for Azerbaijan.

On December 11, a military parade was held in Baku. Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was the main guest. Turkish military personnel took part in the parade.

Speaking in Azerbaijan, Erdogan called for the creation of a new six-party cooperation structure in the region, which would include Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iran, Russia, Georgia and Armenia. In doing so, Turkey magnanimously extended a helping hand to all the peoples of the region.

Erdogan’s proposal is of crucial geopolitical importance, as it aims to reduce the influence of external imperialist forces in the region, especially the US and France. De facto, it is a kind of the Astana format, which has already proven successful in Syria.

Turkey, Russia and Iran plus the South Caucasus countries together can challenge the West, which is interested in destabilizing the region. At the same time, Armenia, which is shaken by turmoil, may, as it has been repeatedly in history, act as a tool of external imperialist forces. Armenian militants have already tried to undermine the ceasefire agreement in Nagorno-Karabakh in December 2020.

Destabilization in Eurasia

2020 was a year of unexpectedly large protests in Belarus, which found their outburst immediately after the August 9 presidential election. The protests were unprecedented for a country that had maintained relative political and economic stability for years.

There were indeed reasons for discontent, partly due to insufficiently high wages, and partly due to the discontent of some people regarding the rotation of power.

However, natural discontent would not have spilled over into large demonstrations: what happened in the country was due to an active information and financial campaign by the United States and several EU countries (including Poland – the fact that the most furious information campaign came from channels with Polish owners, such as NEXTA on Telegram) against the “Lukashenko regime” testifies to this. The moment of elections turned out to be the most convenient for rocking the political boat.

All of this is part of the geopolitical pressure of the West against Russia, as Belarus is the closest “buffer” separating Europe and Russia. Earlier, the result of the classic “color revolution” was the situation in Ukraine, which continues to be promised accession to the European Union, but in fact was simply given a financial investment for their loyalty.

There were protests in Belarus, as if by coincidence, right on the eve of the possible creation of the Union State and the idea of introducing a single currency. Accordingly, active Western interference in Belarusian affairs is an attempt to lure the younger generation with promises of a beautiful life into the Western orbit, and the corresponding network structures will continue to act using soft power methods (educational courses from Europe, promises of jobs, investigations against Lukashenko, demonization of the policy of Moscow, etc.).

The year 2020 was also a period of turmoil for Kyrgyzstan. The destabilization began on October 5, triggered by certain protests against the election results in the local parliament. The result of the large-scale unrest was the resignation of Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov on October 15.

External organizations and external forces were also actively involved in this situation: the OSCE voiced its concern about human rights violations, and the European Union called for more transparent elections. The US openly added fuel to the fire, saying that local organized crime groups were trying to influence politics.

Acting President of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Japarov stated that the next parliamentary elections will take place before March 2021. The State Department reported that the US is discussing with the Kyrgyz authorities assistance in organizing the elections.

The situation is also partly related to an attempt to remove forces that support Eurasian integration and rapprochement with Russia. For example, immediately after the revolution, openly anti-Russian proposals were introduced: for example, Sadirdin Toraliev, a member of the Kyrgyz Constitutional Council, proposed to strip the Russian language of its official status in Kyrgyzstan.

However, the position of Fethullah Gulen’s organization is traditionally strong in Kyrgyzstan. The country is also located next door to China. Destabilization in Kyrgyzstan could lead to a surge of Islamism in Central Asia and an increase in threats to China’s “One Belt, One Road” project.

Moldova held a two-round presidential election in November. Officially, the candidate of the Action and Solidarity Party, Maia Sandu, won the election, scoring 57.72% in the second round. Former president Igor Dodon gained 42.28%. In many respects, the support of more than 200,000 Moldavian migrants, settled in the Western Europe, provided the victory to Sandu.

Both candidates represented essentially different geopolitical vectors for Moldova: Sandu is the representative of a pro-European way, is based on liberal values, Dodon pursued a multi-vector policy, nevertheless prioritized the pro-Moldova way and preferred to build strong relations with Moscow rather than with Washington or Brussels.

The problem is that the pro-European way is fatal for Moldova from all the positions: demographically – it signifies a mass outflow of the Moldovans from the country (to Russia or the West); economically – it is getting into more and more debts of the international organizations; sovereignly – it is selling the lands to foreign businessmen and losing the own export goods; culturally – it is split on the issue of union with Romania (Sandu mentioned the possibility of such a referendum in one of her interviews). On top of that, it is internal political instability and the complete split of society (the few who remain in Moldova).

The coming to power of a pro-Western politician can have a negative impact on the situation of the Turkish Gagauz people living in Moldova. This group is traditionally against joining Romania and usually votes for pro-Russian candidates. According to the constitution of Gagauz Yeri Autonomous Republic, the people of Gagauzia have the right for external self-determination should the status of Moldova as an independent state change.

Europe

US and EU against Turkey

The relations of both EU countries, primarily Greece and France, with Turkey deteriorated drastically over the course of a year. There are several reasons for the dispute: the Turkish strategy in the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey’s desire to play a more important role and control the waters and the shelf in the region and the Turkish role in Libya.

As a result, France and the United States became Turkey’s main adversaries. Their regional allies were Greece and Southern Cyprus. Israel, the UAE, and Egypt have also joined the anti-Turkish coalition.

In January 2020, representatives of Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan and Palestine announced the formation of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum. France and the United States later joined the initiative.

The EU initiated Operation Irini aimed to support the UN arms embargo against Libya. However, it nonetheless went against Turkey. The EU’s de facto actions only concerned arms restrictions for the UN-recognized Government of National Accord Libya. Khalifa Haftar’s forces, which use other supply routes (including those from the UAE and France), were not subject to these restrictions.

It is noteworthy that two key EU countries, Germany and France, have also taken an anti-Turkish stance, and Italy has joined them. Italy is traditionally considered an ally of Turkey in Libya, but its interests in the eastern Mediterranean link it with South Cyprus and France, and in Libya, Italy feels that Turkey has overtaken it in controlling the GNA.

On two occasions, European military actions have led to clashes between Turkey and its NATO allies. On June 10, a French frigate approached a convoy of three Turkish warships and one civilian ship sailing under the Tanzanian flag in the Mediterranean Sea. The incident occurred as part of NATO’s Sea Guardian operation, which aims, among other things, to prevent arms smuggling.

An important episode in the Turkish-French confrontation was French President Emmanuel Macron’s attempt to bring the country’s Islamic organizations under control. In October, France recalled its ambassador to Turkey for consultations after Turkish President Recep Erdogan said Macron needed to be checked to see if he was mentally healthy, in response to recent statements about the crisis of Islam.

On November 23, the German warship Hamburg searched the Turkish-flagged MV Roseline A as part of a controversial IRINI operation with unclear objectives. Turkey objected to the search and called the actions of the German naval personnel piracy.

Several times during the year, the issue of imposing new sanctions against Turkey was raised at EU summits. The EU had already imposed personal sanctions in July 2019 and extended them in November 2020 for a year.

On December 11, the European Council decided to extend sanctions against Turkey imposed because of drilling operations in the Eastern Mediterranean.

On December 14, the US authorities announced that they were imposing sanctions against the Turkish Defence Industry Authority, its head Ismail Demir and three more representatives of the agency over the purchase of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems by Turkey. Earlier, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan stressed that Washington’s intention to impose sanctions against Ankara because of its acquisition of Russian S-400 was a manifestation of disrespect for an important NATO partner.

Deliveries of the latest Russian S-400 air defense systems, which caused a crisis in Turkey’s relations with the United States, began in mid-July 2019. Washington demanded to back out of the deal and purchase American Patriot systems in return, threatening to delay or cancel the sale of the latest F-35 fighter jets to Turkey, as well as impose sanctions under CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries by Sanctions Act). Ankara refused to make concessions and continued negotiations for an additional batch of S-400s.

It is important that the US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo did not meet with Turkish officials during his latest tour of Europe and the Middle East during a visit to Istanbul on November 17. His only interlocutor was Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. The issue of “religious freedom” was discussed, which can be seen as an attack on Turkey: the Patriarchate of Constantinople, especially its influential The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, constantly accuses Turkey of persecuting Christians.

Increasing contradictions between European members of NATO and the United States on the one hand and Turkey on the other make the option of Turkey’s withdrawal from NATO in near future a real possibility. The coming to power in the US of the administration of Joe Biden, who has previously promised to topple Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government, will only exacerbate the existing problems.

Middle East

US-Iranian escalation

The US began 2020 with a sharp escalation of already hostile relations with Iran. On January 3, a US airstrike on a Baghdad airport killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps General Qassem Soleimani. Soleimani was the commander of the elite Al-Quds Special Unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Despite predictions of a major war between the US and Iran, this did not happen, mostly due to the good will of Iran. However, US bases in Iraq were targeted with rocket attacks by local militias. The Iraqi parliament passed a resolution to withdraw US troops from Iraq.

On January 8, the IRGC launched missile strikes against two US facilities in Iraq: the Ain al-Asad Air Base in the west of the country and an airfield in the northern province of Erbil. The US air defense systems protecting military bases in Iraq, however, were not able to intercept the Iranian missiles.

On the same day, Iranian air defenses mistakenly shot down a Boeing 737 civilian aircraft, mistaking it for an American bomber.

US-Iranian relations continued to be hostile, though reduced to proxy force actions. In Iraq, pro-American Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi came to power in May. The US has repeatedly stated its intention to reduce its military presence in Iraq.

The “Deal of the Century” and the “normalization of relations” with Israel

The US-brokered geopolitical bloc of Israel and Arab countries led by the UAE and Saudi Arabia has become a reality.

On January 28, 2020, Donald Trump, in the presence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, presented his “Deal of the Century,” proposals to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Trump’s plan called for the recognition of all Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territory, the full transfer of historic Jerusalem to Israel (with the creation of a Palestinian state capital in the suburbs). In fact, Trump’s plan provided the semi-colonial status for Palestine as a dependent territory with incomplete sovereignty.

Trump’s plan was uniformly opposed by the Palestinians, Turkey, and most UN member states, including the Arab League. However, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Morocco refrained from criticizing the plan, saying they “appreciate” it.

After that, the US continued its strategy of uniting its Arab Middle Eastern allies and Israel. On September 15 in Washington, the UAE’s Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed the so-called The Abraham Accords – announcing the normalization of relations between Bahrain and the UAE and Israel.

In the following months, Sudan and Morocco also announced normalization of relations with Israel. In response, Israel and the US recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara in defiance of the UN position. And the US removed Sudan from the list of countries that support terrorism.

The normalization of Arab-Israeli relations is in fact related to the US desire to establish a solid base of its hegemony in the Middle East region. The pro-American bloc is directed against Iran, but also against Turkey.

Asia

Increasing tensions between the US and China

The US-China controversy continued to be the focus of global geopolitics in 2020.

The US initially used the pandemic as an excuse to attack its geopolitical virus; thus President Donald Trump declared the coronavirus a “Chinese virus.” Washington threatened to demand compensation from Beijing for the consequences of the pandemic.

In addition, sanctions and accusations of human rights violations in Hong Kong and Xinjiang were points that the US used to put pressure on China.

As part of this policy, the US announced in November that it no longer considers the separatist East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which was behind the terrorist attacks in Xinjiang, to be a terrorist organization.

To deter China in the Pacific, the US announced the reestablishment of the First Fleet, a division of the Pacific Fleet that existed during the Cold War.

Secretary of the Navy Kenneth Braithwaite speculated that the new fleet could be headquartered in Singapore or Western Australia.

Latin America

The Revanche of Maduro and Morales

Despite US attempts to bring about a change of power in Venezuela during the year, all efforts failed and Maduro remains in power.

On May 3, the Venezuelan authorities said that they had foiled an attempted invasion of the country by a group of foreign mercenaries, representatives of the American private military company Silvercorp USA. The American mercenaries were planning to carry out a coup d’état in Venezuela, but were caught red-handed.

Attempts by the United States to organize an oil blockade of Venezuela also failed and Iran came to the aid of Venezuela by organizing the supply of gasoline to the country. On August 21, the Turkish-Venezuelan trade agreement came into force. Thus, Turkey demonstrates that it can act in the international arena without regard to the mood in the White House.

Following the parliamentary elections in December 2020, President Nicolas Maduro fully regained control over the legislative power of the country. Until then, the National Assembly was the last state body of Venezuela under the control of the opposition.

The US attempt to change power in Bolivia also failed. Last year, right-wing extremists and the military overthrew the legitimate president Evo Morales. However, after mass protests in October 2020, Luis Arce, former Minister of Economy and candidate of the “Movement for Socialism” party of former president Evo Morales, won the presidential elections in Bolivia with 55.10% of the vote. Bolivia thus returned to the ranks of countries that are challenging US imperialism in the Western Hemisphere.

North America

US: Civil War and Elections

On November 3 there was a presidential election in the United States. The pre-election struggle in the preceding months took fierce forms, actually demonstrating the split of society into Trump supporters representing conservative America and liberals supporting Joe Biden.

In May 2020, a new wave of racial protests erupted in the United States. The reason was the murder of a black American, George Floyd, while in police custody. As a result, mass protests swept almost the entire United States. The protesters also actively opposed Donald Trump. Clashes between Trump supporters and his opponents with human casualties appeared. The American media began to actively discuss the possibility of civil war.

The degree of tension increased after the November 3, 2020 election. Donald Trump did not recognize that he lost the election, accusing his opponents of fraud. Trump supporters and opponents organize demonstrations and clashes. Trump declares his intention to fight to the last, including in courts of different instances.

Even after the inauguration of Joe Biden in January 2021, we should expect that the internal contradictions and divisions in American society will not disappear. For half of the US population, Joe Biden will be an illegitimate president. Trump has yet to concede defeat, and continues to contest the election in the courts.

Africa

Libya: the hard road to peace

For Libya, the year 2020 began with a Turkish-Russian initiative to reconcile the warring parties. On January 13, Turkish and Russian diplomats held talks in Moscow with Fayez Sarraj, head of Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA), and Khalifa Haftar, commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA).

Sarraj and the head of Libya’s Supreme State Council, Khalid al-Mishri, signed a draft truce agreement, but Haftar would not sign. This was most likely due to the destructive influence of the UAE as the main sponsor of the LNA.

On January 19, a peace conference on Libya was held in Berlin. However, at the meeting in Moscow, the Libyans themselves did not play a serious role; the main decisions were worked out by foreign diplomats.

Despite diplomatic efforts, the conflict in Libya continued until August 2020. The turning point was Turkey’s sending military aid to the GNA. Turkish instructors and drones were able to turn the tide of the war. Khalifa Haftar had no choice but to make peace.

As a result, the parties to the conflict declared an armistice in August 2020. In November 2020, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), led by American diplomat Stephanie Williams, organized the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum. This was done in order to appoint a new government for the country. However, many forces in Libya saw Williams’ actions as an attempt by the US to establish themselves in Libya, where Turkey and Russia have become the main actors. Because of numerous scandals and rumors of bribery, she did not reach his stated goal. However, the timing of the next elections in Libya was set for December 2021.

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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