December 10, 2011

The Week in Review

December 9, 2011 | From
A turning point in European history, Britain on the outside looking in, Israel looks for new allies, Islam dominates elections, Chinese admiral threatens World War III, and India builds a massive army.

Middle East
Israel looking for new friends: Israel is looking for new allies as it becomes increasingly threatened by radical Islam, the Jerusalem Post wrote December 2, citing an anonymous government official. The source said that Israel was looking for allies in three groups of countries. The first group is eastern Mediterranean nations, the second is nations in sub-Sahara Africa, and the source didn’t say which countries were in the third, but the Post suspects these are Persian Gulf countries. It may be right. But the Trumpet has long forecast that Israel would be forced to look for new allies, and that ultimately it would find its new best friend in Germany. The relationship between the two is already close. Last week, theAssociated Press wrote that “Since Germany and Israel established diplomatic ties in 1965, Germany has become perhaps Israel’s strongest ally in Europe.” Germany approved the sale of a sixth Dolphin-class submarine to Israel on November 30. Watch for Germany and Israel to grow even closer.
Islamists win in Egyptian elections: Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood won the most number of votes in Egypt’s first round of parliamentary elections, with the ultraconservative Salafis coming second. In the initial phase of the voting last month, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (fjp) won 37 percent of the vote, the Salifis 24 percent, and the liberal Egyptian Bloc 13 percent. The Brotherhood’s winning position was consolidated in run-off contests, which gave it 36 of 56 seats. These results indicate that nearly two thirds of Egyptians want Islam to play a greater role in the nation’s government. The strong showing by the hard-line Islamist Salifis took many by surprise. Their success will only cause to strengthen the Muslim Brotherhood, which will appear to be the “moderate” alternative. But in foreign policy, hostility to the West, and strategic objectives for Egypt, the Islamist parties differ little. It is mostly tactics that they disagree on. “A common reaction among Western politicians and in the mainstream Western media has been that this unwelcome result mostly reflects better organization on the part of the Islamist trend rather than the extreme weakness of liberal tendencies in Egyptian society,” wrote JKC de Courcy. “Our view is simpler, it is that the results are an accurate reflection of the preferences of Egypt’s 50 million voters, and the significance of this can hardly be exaggerated” (Courcy’s Intelligence Brief,December 7). The second round of voting in Egypt begins December 14.
UN sanctions Eritrea for supporting Islamic terrorism: Eritrea’s support of al-Shaabab and other Islamic terrorist groups prompted the United Nations Security Council to impose sanctions on the country this week. The sanctions, stated U.S. ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, will send the message to “Eritrea that it will pay an ever higher price” for its support of Iran and radical Islamist groups. Truth is, it could also drive Eritrea more firmly into the Iranian camp. This in turn will present an increasing threat to neighboring Ethiopia.
Sectarian attacks kill 78 in Afghanistan: Four terrorist attacks in two days this week killed 78 people in Afghanistan. The sectarian violence targeted Shiites during their mourning period of Ashura. In the first attack, on Tuesday, 55 people were killed and more than 154 wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up while in line to enter a Shiite shrine in Kabul. The explosions were the largest sectarian attack in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban government. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Pakistani militant network, claimed responsibility for the December 6 attacks. With tensions increasing between Pakistan and Afghanistan, one Afghan official even accused Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (isi) spy agency of orchestrating the bombings. “isi is directly involved in the attack,” the senior Afghan security official said. “The main purpose is to spark sectarian violence among Afghans.” Pakistan denied the charge. Stratfor notes that as a negotiated settlement between Washington, the Afghan government and the Taliban is pursued in order for U.S.-led nato forces to exit the country, rival jihadist groups could choose to disrupt such a move through attacks such as those this week. The attacks are a reminder of yet another obstacle to a successful conclusion of the Afghanistan war.
Germany holds the key to Serbia’s EU membership: Germany is single-handedly preventing Serbia from becoming a formal candidate member of the European Union, showing that Germany controls which Balkan nations get access to the cash and trade advantages that come with EU membership. “The path of Serbia into the EU can only lead through the normalization of its relations with Kosovo,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said December 2. “I regret that Serbia has so far not lived up to these expectations sufficiently and therefore the conditions for being awarded the status of a candidate are not yet in place.” “Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, has been ratcheting up the pressure on Serbia in recent weeks, but Germany’s tough line has still surprised other member states,” wrote the European Voice. It quotes a senior EU official as saying: “It looks like we have to get used to Germany doing things that other member states find hard to understand. It’s just the same [on Serbia] as with the eurozone.” Part of Germany’s discontent is a result of efforts by Serbs living in northern Kosovo—where they are in the majority—to stop the area coming under control of the Kosovar Albanians. Long-time German allies are put on the fast track toward EU membership while Germany’s historic enemy, Serbia, is left out. The Trumpet has long said that Germanyprovoked the Yugoslav wars to gain control of the Balkan Peninsula. Now its control is clear. Of course, gathering Balkan nations into the EU could be another way to gain control over them. But for now, Germany is using its control of EU entry to try to force Serbia into submission.
A French and German deal on the future of Europe: German Chancellor Angela Merkel met French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris December 5 to agree on a plan to save the euro. The plan is a great step toward a European superstate. The two agreed to change EU treaties to introduce “immediate,” “automatic” sanctions for nations with a budget deficit of over 3 percent of gdp. They also want to make nations legally obliged to balance their budgets, and change voting rules so bailout funds would be controlled by majority voting, not unanimous agreement. The two said they preferred a treaty change for all 27 EU members, but if some non-eurozone members, like Britain, caused a problem, they would push ahead with only the 17 eurozone nations. They hope to complete the treaty changes byMarch. The two nations on December 7 also called for harmonizingcorporate tax rates across the eurozone. The Portuguese newspaperPúblico wrote, “Germany is preparing to Germanize Europe.” It said that under the agreement, “Even if we accept that we will have to ‘reinforce and harmonize’ fiscal and budgetary integration in the eurozone, the Merkozy couple’s demands are reminiscent of war reparations. The defeated and afflicted will have to fulfill more and more requirements, but there is no requirement for effort, money or solidarity to help them.” Getting the proposals approved by even the 17, however, could be impossible. Finland’s constitutional law committee ruled that the Franco-German proposal would be unconstitutional. Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s has warned that if EU leaders do not reach an agreement, eurozone nations could lose their triple-A rating. The eurozone has to better integrate to survive, but to do that, it needs to shrink to fewer than 17 nations—as the Trumpet has been forecasting for years.
Chinese admiral threatens world war to protect Iran from the West: As the U.S. and Europe struggle to find ways to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, a high-ranking Chinese military official threatened world war on Sunday in order to protect the Islamic Republic. Chinese Rear Adm. Zhang Zhaozhong said, “China will not hesitate to protect Iran even with a third world war.” Zhang serves as director of China’s National Defense University Military Logistics and Equipment Department, and runs nationalistic military blogs read by millions. In recent months, Zhang also said Beijing is willing to open up a land passage to Pakistan so that it can aid Iran directly. Beijing imports 10 percent of its crude oil from Iran, making the Islamic Republic China’s third-largest supplier. As Beijing’s power and thirst for oil intensify, it will become increasingly belligerent toward Western powers.
China’s president urges navy to prepare for combat: Chinese President Hu Jintao urged the Chinese navy on Tuesday to make ready for military combat. The navy should “accelerate its transformation and modernization in a sturdy way, and make extended preparations for military combat in order to make greater contributions to safeguard national security,” Hu said. “Our work must closely encircle the main theme of national defense and military building.” His statement comes amid concerns by the U.S. and China’s neighbors over Beijing’s naval ambitions, especially in the South China Sea. Several Asian countries have competing claims over parts of the South China Sea, home to vast oil and gas reserves, but Beijing claims ownership of the entire area. China’s 2.3 million-man People’s Liberation Army, the largest military in the world, is predominantly a land force. But China’s navy will take on an increasingly crucial role as the country becomes more assertive in its territorial claims.
Overlooking India’s military rise: India’s military buildup topped Foreign Policy (FP) magazine’s list of the 10 most overlooked current trends that will significantly shape geopolitics in the future, published in FP’s December issue. Quoting leading think tanks and weapons watchdogs, the article highlights India’s mushrooming military power, which Delhi fuels through massive defense budgets. Between 2006 and 2010, India became the world’s largest weapons importer, accounting for 9 percent of the total, and in 2010 it set its defense budget estimate at $38.4 billion, which is 2.5 percent of its gdp. The article highlights India’s increasing naval might, which is designed to dominate the Indian Ocean and extend India’s power into the South China Sea. FP says these changes reveal a shift in India’s posture toward China, saying it is morphing from a defensive to an offensive position. At present, much of the burgeoning military spendingthroughout Asia is the result of disputes among Asian states, but all of that military might will soon be pooled together and channeled against a colossal European enemy.
Africa/ Latin America
China makes a move on South Sudanese oil: China sent a special envoy to Juba on Wednesday to try to break a deadlock between Sudan and its former territory South Sudan, which appear to be on the brink of a renewed conflict over oil rights. The economies of the two Sudans remain intertwined due to the fact that South Sudan has the majority of the region’s oil fields and Sudan has the majority of the region’s pipeline infrastructure. As a major buyer of Sudanese oil, China has a vested interest in ensuring that oil from the south keeps flowing northward to ports on the Red Sea. French oil company Total is also trying to get at South Sudan’s oil by proposing anew pipeline to run through Uganda to the Kenyan coast. Expect competition between Europe and China over Africa’s natural resources to increase in the near future.
Latin America gives the U.S. the cold shoulder: The United States was humiliated last week when it was excluded from a new organization representing both Latin America and the Caribbean states. The 33 nations of the new Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (celac) met on Friday of last week to discuss ways to establish their economic independence from Washington. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez set the tone for the meeting when he said, “The Monroe Doctrine was imposed here: America for Americans, the Yankees,” adding, “They imposed their will during 200 years, but that’s enough.” As tensions between the U.S. and Latin America increase, expect the entire region south of the Rio Grande River to increasingly look to Europe as a trade partner.
British parliament demands change to extradition treaty with U.S.: The British Parliament has urged the government to do more to protect British citizens by renegotiating its extradition treaty with the United States. Anger over the current treaty is just another contention driving the former close friends further apart. The House of Commons agreed on Monday without a vote that extradition between Britain and the U.S., as well as Britain’s involvement with the European Arrest Warrant, must be “urgently renegotiated.” The extradition treaty is seen as one-sided and unfair, though America’s ambassador to Britain, Louis Susman, argues that this is a misunderstanding. One of the most prominent causes of upset over the treaty is the American effort to extradite Gary McKinnon, who could face up to 70 years in an American jail for hacking U.S. military and nasacomputers. With the help of a prominent PR firm, McKinnon’s case has received a lot of media attention and stirred outrage in Britain. But extradition arrangements with the U.S. have sparked anger in Britain for years. The U.S. has constantly refused to extradite ira terrorists and murderers to Britain and has instead let them live free. This type of disagreement would not be a major hurdle for close friends. But the special relationship is over. The alliance is getting weaker every day. That makes the extradition row another part of the crumbling of the alliance.
Tension grows over Falkland Islands: Friction between Britain and Argentina is increasing. Argentine patrol ships have boarded 12 Spanish fishing boats over the last few weeks, saying their fishing licenses were not valid. They said the boats were operating “illegally” in disputed waters. “The UK has protested to Argentina …. We consider that it is not compliant with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (unclos),” said the British Foreign Office in a statement. Argentina’s National Congress is considering a proposal that would make the country’s Olympic logo the image of the Falkland Islands with the words “The Falklands are Argentine.” Britain’s plans to create a 1 million-square-kilometer protective zone around South Georgia—an island in the region of the Falklands also claimed by Argentina—are not likely to make the waters any calmer. The protective zone is designed to preserve the unique marine life in the area and will limit fishing. Britain’s Timesnewspaper writes that Britain would not be capable of saving the islands if Argentina took them over, as it did in 1982. “It is highly unlikely that Britain could repeat the mission,” it writes, “particularly since we no longer have an aircraft carrier available. Nor, given France’s ambivalence over the issue, would there be any realistic prospect of borrowing a French carrier, as stipulated under the recent Anglo-French defense pact.” Rockhopper Oil, a drilling company that focuses on the Falklands, is drilling in the seabed around the islands to determine if there are commercially viable fields of oil or gas. This could give the islands more than a geographical significance, which would heat up competition for the islands. This is a competition that Britain has neither the capability nor the will to win.
One in three British children do not own a book: Nearly 4 million children in the UK do not own a book—that’s one in three—according to a report by the National Literacy Trust. In the last poll taken, seven years ago, the figure was one in ten. Not owning a book puts a child at a great disadvantage, the study found. Children without books are nearly three times more likely to have below-average literacy. “With one in six in the UK struggling with literacy it is very worrying that many children could be missing out on opportunities to develop these essential skills,” said National Literacy Trust Director Jonathan Douglas.
American job seekers turn down offers: Despite the fact that America’s youth are graduating into a labor market decimated by the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, a full 41 percent of job seekers this year turned down offers—the exact percentage that did so in 2007, when the economy was booming. “Almost universally they want to find a job that’s not just a job but an expression of their identity, a form of self-fulfillment,” says Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, a Clark University psychology professor who interviewed hundreds of young people across the economic spectrum for his book Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road From the Late Teens Through the Twenties. Expect a soon-coming rude awakening for America’s younger generation.
Missouri removes bans on gambling: The Missouri Gaming Commission voted unanimously this week to allow gamblers to drop their self-imposed, state-enforced lifetime bans from casinos. Nearly 11,000 of the more than 16,000 people who have banned themselves from Missouri casinos will be eligible to gamble again when the rule change takes effect in April. For desperate families burdened with record debt levels, stuck in the midst of the worst job market in years, state gambling promotion couldn’t come at a worse time.

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