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Monthly Review July 2019

Europe

Elections in Greece: A right turn

On July 7 in Greece, early parliamentary elections were held. The “New Democracy” party led by Kyriakos Mitsotakis was later announced the winner with 39.7% of the vote. On July 9, Mitsotakis took office as the new head of government, while the left coalition ” Syriza” stepped down from power. The election results demonstrate that the vast majority of Greeks are disappointed in the coalition, and especially its leader, former PM Alexis Tsipras.  

In 2015, the Greeks voted for a referendum against the austerity policies being imposed by the EU. In fact, many were in favor of leaving the Eurozone altogether. However, Tsipras ended up coming to terms with EU leadership and ignoring the results of the referendum. In 2018, against a background of mass protests, he struck an agreement with the leadership of neighboring Macedonia on changing the name of the country, an agreement which will allow Macedonia to become part of NATO. Tsipras has proven that he acts in the interests of Western globalist power-structures and against the will of his own people.

However, the new ruling liberal New Democracy party is even more pro-Western than Tsipras had been. The construction of a branch of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline to Greece is now under threat. It is also highly likely that Greece will present itself to the United States as a NATO stronghold in the Mediterranean which is opposed to Turkey.

EU: sanctions against Turkey

On July 15, EU leaders announced new sanctions against Turkey.  The EU Council suspended high-level dialogue and canceled meetings of the Turkish-EU Association Council, reduced financial assistance in 2020, recommended the European Investment Bank reconsider the country’s loans and suggested the possibility of further sanctions.

The decision was motivated by the exploration work of Turkish vessels on the shelf of Cyprus. This shelf is rich in hydrocarbon reserves – primarily natural gas. Turkey explains its actions as a desire to protect the interests of the Turkish Cypriots of Northern Cyprus, who receive nothing from the Greek authorities of the island. The Greeks accuse Ankara of seeking to appropriate their natural wealth. 

The EU’s position has increased tensions between Brussels and Ankara and put Turkey at odds with the west as a whole, especially against the background of the threat of sanctions from the United States.

New EU leadership

On July 16, the European Parliament approved  former Minister of Defense of Germany, Ursula von der Leyen, to serve as chairman of the European CommissionShe will be the first woman head of the central executive body of the EU.

The former German defense minister is known as a supporter of European federalism and the transformation of the EU into the United States of Europe, a single super-state. She is also one of German Chancellor Angela Merkel most faithful associates.

On July 2, after long discussions, representatives from EU countries agreed on a list of new leaders. In addition to der Leyen, European leaders chose Christine Lagarde as the head of the European Central Bank. Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrel was elected to be the head of European diplomacy, while former Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel will head the European Council. 

EU leadership continues its globalist alignment, despite the increase in populist tendencies in European countries. The new leadership has no intention to change course and does not reflect the changes within EU countries. The choices make the EU more fragile and will be widely criticized as non-Democratic.

Italy: assassination attempt on Salvini

On July 17, Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini announced that neo-Nazis and radicals from Ukraine had plotted an assassination attempt on him. His press service also published material evidence of the impending assassination: a huge arsenal had been found in northern Italy, including a guided missile.

The assassination plot was an attempt to undermine antiglobalist policy of the Italian government and to change the country’s course by violent means. Salvini, the leader of the ruling coalition’s Lega party and de facto leader of the country, opposes strengthening ties with the EU, and fights for an independent foreign policy.  

The fact that Ukranian militants had access to such a large illegal weapons depot in the heart of Europe indicates that security in the Schengen zone is an illusion. 

Kosovo: Schrödinger’s Prime Minister

On July 19, the Prime Minister of the self-proclaimed Republic of Kosovo , Ramush Haradinaj, announced his resignation and called on President Hashim Thaci to organize new parliamentary elections. Officially,Haradinai explained his resignation in light of his upcoming interrogation at the Hague Tribunal. In fact, the prime minister was likely forced to resign due to serious contradictions with President Hashim Thaci. Haradinaj is an ardent opponent of territorial exchanges with Serbia, while President Tachi supports them.

After returning from The Hague, Haradinaj unexpectedly announced that he had changed his mind and will act as a Prime Minister until the new elections, leading to another flare up in the crisis. 

Haradinaj’s removal from leadership in Kosovo will open the way for the exchange of territories between Kosovo and Serbia, creating a basis for an agreement between Belgrade and Pristina. This would mead de-facto recognition of Kosovo’s independence by Serbia and Kosovo and Serbia’s possible entry into NATO and the EU.

UK: Brexit Prime Minister

On July 24, Boris Johnson officially took office as British Prime Minister after winning the vote of members of the Conservative Party. His main priority will be achieving Brexit by any means: he promises to withdraw from the EU by the end of October. He also intends to achieve a new agreement with the European Union, but the idea is actively opposed by Brussels.

Johnson’s appointment will mean difficulty in negotiations with the EU and will very likely lead to the UK leaving the EU without an agreement. The consequences of such a step are hard to predict. However, if the UK manages to exit successfully, the path will be open for other countries to do the same. Johnson’s election as British Prime Minister will give impetus to the strengthening of British-American cooperation, as he is considered to be close to President Trump.

Eurasia

Ukraine: a new victory for Zelensky

On July 21, Ukraine held early parliamentary elections for the national legislative assembly. Verkhovna Rada, the populist party of President Vladimir Zelensky, claimed victory. The party will be represented by 254 deputies – more than half of the members of parliament. This means that Vladimir Zelensky will be able to form a government completely under his control and will be able to pass any bills through parliament.

The results of the elections demonstrates Ukrainians’ high-level of confidence in Zelensky and hope for a change in the domestic and foreign policy of the country. Voters hope he will work toward the establishment of peace in the Donbas, the rejection of the nationalist policies of Petro Poroshenko, the fight against corruption and the reduction of utility tariffs. However, the triumph of Zelensky is de-facto triumph of his main sponsor- Israeli oligarch Igor Kolomoisky.

Middle East

Turkey receives Russian S-400s

On July 12 , Turkey began to receive S-400 air defense systems  from Russia.  Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared that the installation of the air defense system would be completed in April 2020. 

The purchase of Russian weapons led to a negative reaction from the United States and a complication in American-Turkish relations. The White House released an official statement saying that the purchase of the S-400s would have a detrimental effect onTurkey’s relationship with NATO, including Turkey’s removal from the F -35 program. 

Turkish leadership was motivated to buy the complexes to ensure national security, giving Turkey access to the most sophisticated weapon systems for long range air defense. In addition to the complexes, Ankara will receive the necessary technology to create their own systems. 

Turkey has shown the world that it is a fully independent power, which seemed to really upset Washington. However, in the long term, the US will have to temper its ardor, since it risks undermining NATO.

Afghanistan: a draft peace treaty

On July 9, the seventh round of peace talks between representatives of the United States and the Taliban ended in Doha. Both sides said that significant progress has been made. Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, a Taliban negotiator, said that a draft peace agreement with the United States was prepared.  

Representatives of the Taliban and the United States are currently trying to agree on a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops. Wall Street Journal sources claim that the American side agreed to leave within two years, while the Taliban insisted on a nine-month period.

The United States suffered a crushing defeat in Afghanistan and is now trying to agree on the most convenient conditions for the withdrawal of troops. After the US military finally leaves, the country will need to find a path to national reconciliation, or it could again plunge into a bloody civil war.

Iraqi Kurdistan: the murder of a Turkish diplomat

On July 17, an employee of the Turkish Consulate General in Erbil was killed in an attack in the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan Erbil. Kurdish terrorists were likely behind the attack. On July 20, during Turkish special operations, the organizers of the murder were eliminated. The attack on the Turkish diplomats was likely a response to Turkish counter-terrorist operations in northern Kurdistan on July 12.

Saudi Arabia: Americans are back

On July 19, the Saudi Foreign Ministry agreed to American military presence in the country. CNN had earlier reported that Trump was planning to send up to 500 soldiers to the Saudi Kingdom. According to the channel, this contingent will stay at the Prince Sultan Air Base, which is located in the desert to the east of Riyadh.    

From 1991 to 2003, US troops were already stationed at this base. The re-entry of American troops is motivated by desire to increase pressure on Iran.

UK and Iran: tanker war

On July 20, the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps detained the British oil tanker Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz . A week earlier, British authorities reported attempts by Iranian authorities to stop another British oil tanker in the same strait. Iran’s actions were a response to the detention of an Iranian oil tanker on July 4 by the British marines in Gibraltar. The tanker was transporting oil to Syria when it was seized by British authorities.

Great Britain’s actions were a gross violation of international law, yet the country continues to play the victim. Britain is strongly supported by the United States in the matter, hoping to increase pressure on Iran.

The UK has invited EU countries to create a special maritime group to patrol off the coast of Iran. Similar proposals are made by the United States. The creation of such a group would undoubtedly increase military tensions in the already hostile Gulf region.

Asia

China: anti-American sanctions

On July 12, China announced that it would impose sanctions on US firms involved in the sale of tanks, missiles and related equipment to Taiwan for $2.2 billion. According to the PRC, the supply of American weapons to Taiwan damages its sovereignty and its national security.

A week earlier, the Pentagon stated that the US State Department had approved the sale of weapons requested by Taiwan, including 108 M1A2T Abrams tanks and 250 Stinger missiles.

China’s actions demonstrate that Beijing is ready to vigorously defend its interests and to use the United States’ own weapon against it.

Hong Kong: radicalization of protests

In July, mass protests continued in Hong Kong, taking a distinct separatist and anti-Chinese character.  Although a bill on the extradition of criminals to mainland China and a number of foreign states was the ostensible reason for the protests that began in May, local authorities abandoned later these plans, but the protests did not stop. On July 1, rioters broke into the Hong Kong legislature building and hung a colonial British flag. On July 27, the demonstrators attempted to storm the office of Beijing.

The goal of the protests in Hong Kong is to undermine China’s control of the large financial center. This is the interest of the United States, which openly declares China to be its adversary and is currently waging a trade war against it.

The second beneficiary of the protests in Hong Kong is the United Kingdom, which actively supports the protesters. British leadership is obsessed with the idea of ​​”global Britain.” After Brexit, the country could be put in an unstable position economically. To support its global ambitions and economics, the United Kingdom is attempting to gain favor in Hong Kong, albeit unofficially. Even if the plan is unsuccessful, it will at least lead to destabilization in a rival state.

Japan: Abe’s Victory and Failure 

On July 22, elections to the upper house of parliament were held in Japan. The coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito Party, under the leadership of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, declared victory. 

The Coalition received a total of 141 seats, which is not enough for the qualified two-thirds majority Abe needs to carry out planned constitutional reforms. The prime minister is interested in particular in lifting the ban on the creation of full-fledged armed forces. The new alignment of forces in parliament will seriously complicate such changes.

North America

Joe Biden: Liberal manifesto

On July 11 , former US Vice President Joe Biden Biden announced the foreign policy portion of his electoral program. Biden claims to be the main Democratic candidate in the 2020 presidential election. In many polls, he leads and even beats the US President Donald Trump.

Biden’s main foreign policy promise is to restore the liberal world order and oppose autocratic regimes. According to Biden, these regimes even include US allies: Turkey, Egypt and Hungary. Biden also promised to fight for the spread of democracy and liberal values ​​throughout the world. According to experts, Biden’s program is outdated and does not reflect recent geopolitical changes such as the decline of US power, the rise of populism and the growing desire of many states to resist global liberalism.

Trump – to hit the deep state

On July 28, US President Donald Trump announced that National Intelligence Director Dan Coates would resign on August 15, 2019. He will be replaced by John Ratcliff – a Congressman absolutely loyal to Trump. Coates has regularly resisted or outright contradicted Trump: in particular with regard to relations with the DPRK, Iran and Russia, as well as in terms of fighting ISIS in Syria.

John Ratcliffe, on the other hand, is a conservative lawmaker who almost always supports President Trump. Ratcliffe was an opponent of Robert Muller’s investigation and a supporter of investigating a potential conspiracy against Trump among the special services. The new director of National Intelligence will likely lead a fight against representatives of the deep state in the American special services. Trump needs to get these forces under control in the run-up to the 2020 elections. 

Latin America

Venezuela: Negotiations between the authorities and the opposition

On July 9, a new round of negotiations between the authorities and the opposition in Venezuela started in Barbados. On July 11, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who is acting as an intermediary, announced that the Venezuelan authorities and representatives of the opposition agreed to engage in continuous dialogue to work out a concerted solution to the country ‘s recovery from the crisis.

 However, the United States and a number of Latin American countries, including Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Brazil, are undermining this process. In particular, they plan to gather on August 6 in the capital of Peru for a forum in support of ‘democracy’ in Venezuela. The actual Venezuelan authorities are not invited to the event. 

Africa 

Libya: aggravation in relations with Turkey

At the end of June, the forces of the Libyan National Army, headed by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, announced the prohibition of civil aviation between Turkey and Libya, and called for Turkish vessels to be denied entry to the country’s ports. On June 30, Haftar’s troops arrested six Turkish citizens and destroyed a Turkish attack drone based at Miatiga air base in Tripoli .

Ankara called the detention of Turkish citizens an act of international banditry and piracy. Under the threat of an armed Turkish intervention, the Turkish citizens were released on July 1. Against the background of the aggravation of relations between Turkey and Haftar’s government, Ankara accused the field marshal of bombing a migrant camp in the eastern suburb of Tripoli, an act which is considered a war crime.

Turkey supports Haftar’s rivals in the Libyan conflict, the internationally recognized government of Faiz Saraj (also known as the Government of National Accord). On July 5, Turkish President Recep Erdogan met with Faiz Saraj and called on Haftar to put an end to the conflict.

Events around Libya showcase the international character of the Libyan conflict. The Haftar government is wary of engaging in a hot war with Turkey. After Haftar’s failed attempt to take Tripoli last spring, the field marshal has taken on an increasingly unsteady and aggressive posture.

Sudan: political agreement

On July 17, the Sudanese Transitional Military Council and the main opposition force, the Alliance for Freedom and Change, signed a political agreement. According to this document, the main government body over the next three years will be the Supreme Council. It will consist of five representatives of the military and five civil figures, plus another member elected by general vote. At the same time, the right to choose the ministers of the power bloc will be in the hands of the military.

Despite the signing of the agreement, the power structure in Sudan will only be determined officially after the signing of the Constitutional Declaration, the approval of which has been delayed.

Oceania

Australia: Strengthening American Power

On July 30, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne told Sky News that the Pentagon plans to expand its military infrastructure in Australia after Congress approves $211.5 million in funding for the US Navy. This is a development of the Force Posture Initiatives project, which was initially adopted in 2011.

Australian media had earlier reported that the Pentagon was planning to build a port near the city of Darwin in northern Australia. However, Darwin Port was leased by China in 2015 for a period of 99 years.

The actions of the United States are aimed at countering China, but also paradoxically show that Washington has lost the economic battle in the Pacific and now has to rely on military force to defeat its rival.

 
United World International

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