British Election Heralds Collapse of United Kingdom

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Finian Cunningham
December 16, 2019

Boris Johnson is entitled to crack open a few bottles of champagne after being re-elected prime minister, with his Conservative party winning a landslide majority. But when the celebrations are over, Britain is facing a thumping hangover – from the inescapable fact that half of the United Kingdom is now on an irrevocable path of separatism and independence.

Johnson has won a decisive mandate to “get Brexit done”, at least from London’s perspective. His party now has a substantial parliamentary majority of 80 seats in the House of Commons which will ensure delivery on his promise to execute Britain’s departure from the European Union on January 31. The actual final severance will take another year or two to complete because of negotiations between London and Brussels to definitively hammer out divorce terms. But at least Johnson can claim that he has consummated the final journey to leave the EU on January 31, a journey which began over three years ago when Britons had originally voted for Brexit in the 2016 referendum.

However, crucially, the Conservative government’s mandate for Brexit only applies to England and Wales. It was in these two countries that saw the significant swing of voters from the opposition Labour party to Johnson’s Tories. Thus, in effect, his parliamentary majority stems from voters in England and Wales.

By total contrast, in Scotland and Northern Ireland, the other two regions which make up the United Kingdom, the voters resoundingly rejected Johnson’s Brexit plans and voted for parties wanting to remain in the European Union. The outcome is consistent with the 2016 referendum results when Scotland and Northern Ireland both voted against Brexit.

Moreover, the latest election results have reinforced the call for independence in both Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The Scottish Nationalists swept the election to enhance their already existing majority. They now control nearly 90 per cent of all seats in Scotland. Party leader Nicola Sturgeon says there is an unquestionable mandate to hold a second referendum for Scottish independence. The previous independence referendum held in 2014 was defeated. But Scottish nationalists claim that popular support for their cause has surged since the Brexit referendum in 2016. The Scots, by and large, do not want to leave the EU. To remain in the EU therefore necessarily means separating from the United Kingdom and its central government in London.

Boris Johnson has so far rejected calls for holding a second Scottish independence referendum. But his position is untenable. Given the parliamentary numbers for separation stacking up in Scotland, he will have to relent. Nationalists there are demanding the holding of another plebiscite as early as next year.

In Northern Ireland, the election outcome is perhaps even more momentous. For the first time ever, nationalist parties have a majority over pro-British unionist parties. Mary Lou MacDonald, the leader of Sinn Fein, the main nationalist party, says that there is now a clear mandate for holding a referendum on the question of Northern Ireland leaving the United Kingdom. Given the breakthrough nationalist majority in the latest election, that would inevitably lead to a United Ireland, from the northern state joining with the existing southern state, the Republic of Ireland.

Nationalists in Northern Ireland have long-aspired for independence from Britain. Northern Ireland was created in 1921 from an audacious act of gerrymandering by the British government when it partitioned the island of Ireland into an independent southern state (which became the Republic of Ireland) and a small northern state (which became Northern Ireland). The latter remained under Britain’s jurisdiction. The arbitrary, imperialist act of partitioning Ireland was done in order to give the British authorities in London a mandate to rule over a portion of Irish territory because in newly created Northern Ireland the pro-British unionists were in a majority over nationalists. It was British establishment cynicism par excellence.

The present political structure of the United Kingdom of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is only a century old. (Before that, the UK included all of Irish territory, but London was forced to grant partial Irish independence due to an armed insurrection.)

In any case, nearly a century after the setting up of Northern Ireland the natural demographic changes in its population have now created a majority for nationalists. The outcome of the election on December 12 is an undeniably huge historic event. For the first time ever, the nationalist mandate has overcome the unionist vote. The historic violation by British gerrymandering against Irish nationalist rights to independence and self-determination has finally been reversed in terms of electoral ballot.

When the Northern Ireland peace deal known as the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998 to bring an end to nearly 30 years of armed conflict, enshrined in that treaty is the “principle of consent”. The British government is treaty-bound to abide by the electoral mandate of a majority in Northern Ireland wanting a United Ireland.

The threshold for triggering a referendum on Northern Ireland leaving British jurisdiction has now been reached. And nationalist parties are openly demanding that the legislative process to achieve that separation is now implemented.

Jonathan Powell, a seasoned British diplomat who oversaw the negotiations of the Good Friday Agreement, is not one for hyperbole. But in an interview with Matt Frei for Britain’s LBC Radio on December 14, Powell said he expected to see the “collapse of the United Kingdom” within the next decade, if not sooner. He was referring specifically to the electoral results in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Boris Johnson’s seeming victory in the British election is a double-edged sword. He may claim to have a mandate to cut off ties with the European Union. But the results also mean Scotland and Northern Ireland are empowered to now cut off their ties with the rest of Britain. The separation of those two states, leaving behind England and Wales, spells the end of the so-called United Kingdom.

Johnson’s election success is not “unleashing great potential” as he claims. Rather, it is unleashing an existential constitutional crisis for the British establishment.

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Election Result Signals a Possible End of the United Kingdom

By Alan MacLeod

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Corbyn Rallying in Middlesbrough 3116b

On the face of it, Thursday’s election result could hardly have been better for Boris Johnson and his ruling Conservative Party. Campaigning on a simple slogan of “get Brexit done,” the Tories romped to victory, winning 365 of a total of 650 seats, easily enough for a comfortable majority government. In his victory speech, the Prime Minister claimed that he was humbled that the British public had put their trust in him, and promised to make it is mission to work night and day, flat out, to get Brexit done by January 31st, “no ifs, no buts, no maybes.”

Even better, his rivals suffered huge defeats; after what he called a “very disappointing night for the Labour Party,” Jeremy Corbyn announced he was standing down after four years in charge. Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson suffered the embarrassment of losing her East Dunbartonshire seat.

The results will be interpreted as a very clear mandate for Johnson to push forward in his plans for a quick departure from the European Union. And yet the irony is that it is precisely this insistence from many in the Conservative and Unionist Party, to give it its full name, that could lead to the breakup of the union, ending the United Kingdom forever. An October poll found that the majority of English Conservative voters would accept the fragmentation of the UK as a price for leaving the EU. Those voters may get their wish– and sooner than expected.

Scotland, who overwhelmingly voted to stay in the EU, gave the Scottish National Party (SNP) an enormous majority as the party won 47 of the country’s 59 seats on 45% of the total vote share, 12 more seats than it got in 2017. This is added to the 69 out of a possible 129 representatives in occupies in the local Scottish government, a remarkable achievement in a multi-party, proportional representation system.

The result is an undeniable mandate for a second independence referendum, the last on coming in 2014, where 45% of Scots voted to leave the union. Polls suggest that the majority will vote for independence this time. A key talking point from the anti-independence side was that the country could not be certain of staying in the EU if it left the UK, a trump card that has now turned to dust. Johnson has talked of blocking a second referendum, but SNP leader and First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon has suggested they might organize one anyway, without the backing of London, and as imminently as in a few months.

In England, the two unionist, pro-EU parties, Labour and the Liberal Democrats felt the ire of voters, leaving the political center rather vacant. Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland the strongly right-wing Protestant Democratic Unionist Party leader Nigel Dodds spectacularly lost his seat to Sinn Fein’s John Finucane. Finucane’s father was the victim of an infamous murder by loyalist paramilitaries. But Sinn Fein, a leftist party that stands for a united Ireland, has its own deep connections to the IRA. Since September, surveys have shown that a majority of Northern Irish also favor leaving the UK and unifying with the Republic of Ireland, which wrested its own independence from the UK in 1922 after a bitter armed struggle. The fact that Johnson is charging ahead with Brexit, which has much more profound consequences for Northern Ireland due to its land border with and deep connections to the EU member state to its south, will do nothing to reverse this trend.

For the first time in history, the north has elected a majority of Irish nationalist and republican politicians to the Westminster parliament, with Sinn Fein receiving 47% of the vote itself. Its leader Mary Lou McDonald claimed that the calls for a referendum on Irish unification were now “impossible to ignore.”

The underlying reason for the growing nationalist and separatist sentiment is the decades of neoliberal policies that have brought with it economic dislocation, austerity and a generalized discontent. Both real wages and living standards have been on a long, slow decline since the 1970s. This has been most apparent in the post-industrial north of England, not coincidentally the area with the strongest pro-Brexit sentiment. On the other hand, the populations of the ravaged cities of Glasgow and Belfast have had their energies channeled into a more progressive vision of independence.

It is precisely the Conservative Party who are most responsible for implementing the economic changes that have led to this situation. Ironic then, that they have been granted the dubious honor of pushing through a Brexit that will likely only make the problem worse. In his victory speech outside 10 Downing Street, Johnson described himself as a “one nation Conservative.” He may be ruling over a much smaller one very soon.

NATO Summit in London: Culmination of disagreement

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by Alpha for The Saker Blog

The NATO Summit, dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the North Atlantic Alliance, was held in London on December 3 and 4 and was marked by an atmosphere of controversy between the leaders of the participating countries. The members of the alliance were not able to come to a common decision and determine the guidelines for development.

The discord that was felt throughout the summit was facilitated by a series of events that occurred the day before. The central figure, which gathered the greatest number of disagreements around it, was US President Donald Trump, whose relations with the leaders of other countries significantly escalated.

A week before the summit, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed concern that Trump’s presence could undermine the parliamentary election campaign in London on December 12, and asked him to refrain from interfering. Then, on the first day of the congress, a column of demonstrators opposing the policies of Trump and NATO as a whole proceeded to Buckingham Palace, where the British Queen invited the leaders of the participating countries to a banquet.

Relations with Emmanuel Macron also staggered after the bold statements of the French president that NATO was “experiencing a brain death”: despite the fact that this statement provoked a radical but necessary discussion, it caused wide resonance and great discontent from Trump, who complained to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that this is “an irresponsible and disrespectful statement by France”.

The growing trade confrontation between the United States and France, which entailed the introduction of 100% tariffs on French imports to the United States, is compounding the situation. In this regard, Trump tried to emphasize that it was currently unprofitable to spoil relations with America in France, and also questioned the further membership of France in the alliance.

The views of Trump and Erdogan also diverged significantly after Turkey acquired the Russian S-400 missile system, then the tension in relations was aggravated by the situation in northeast Syria. This could not but affect the nature of the interaction of the presidents at the entrance of the summit. Disagreement with Erdogan’s policies was repeatedly expressed by Macron.

The culmination of universal controversy, in particular concentrated around Trump, was the conversation between Macron and Johnson, as well as the Prime Ministers of Canada and the Netherlands – Justin Trudeau and Mark Rutte – during which state leaders mocked Trump for his impromptu speech during the press conference.

“His team just had a jaw dropping on the floor…”, – Trudeau commented on the speech of Trump.

The rest participants of the conversation supported the Canadian leader. The conversation was filmed by reporters and immediately went online. Subsequently, Trump called Trudeau “duplicitous”, recalled Canada’s refusal to pay 2% of GDP for defense spending, thereby emphasizing disagreement about the dialogue, canceled his last speech at a press conference and left the London NATO summit ahead of the expected departure date.

The general agenda of Trump’s political efforts, trying to plunge certain regions of the world into chaos and destroy the transatlantic union, also adds fuel to the fire, thereby destroying the economy of the European Union, the main political and economic competitor of the United States. Thus, Trump advocates the destruction of the alliance rather than a further alliance within it. The situation with Turkey remains unclear, which a number of Western media have dubbed the “problem child of NATO”: in its desire to receive support in the fight against terrorism, the country only faces the fact that the most important members of the alliance support terrorist organizations.

In general, the goals and strategies for the continued existence of NATO remain dubious even for the alliance’s member countries. According to Macron, the main agenda for the near future is the need to build a new architecture of trust and security in Europe, readiness for an “open and full-fledged dialogue with Russia,” as well as considering China as a new enemy of the North Atlantic bloc. However, in conditions of radical disagreements reigning between the participants of the alliance, which is gradually weakening its strength, these new vectors of development cannot be properly implemented.

Bolivia – A Color Revolution – or a New Surge for Latin American Independence?

Global Research, November 17, 2019

Like Túpac Katari, indigenous Aymara leader more than 200 years ago, confronting the Spaniards, Evo Morales was betrayed and ‘dismembered’ by his own people, recruited and paid by the agents of the most destructive, nefarious and murderous dark elite that governs and has governed for over two hundred years our planet, the United States of America. With their worthless fiat-Ponzi-pyramid money, the made-out-of-thin-air US dollar, they create poverty throughout the globe, then buy off the weak and poor to plot against the very leaders that have worked for years to improve their social conditions.

It’s become a classic. It’s being called a Color Revolution, and it’s been taking place on all Continents. The list of victim-countries includes, but is not exhaustive – Colombia, Honduras, Argentina, Paraguay, Ecuador, Chile, Brazil, in some ways also Uruguay (the current left-leaning government is powerless and has to remain so, otherwise it will be “changed”… that’s the name of the game) – and now also Bolivia. – Then there are Georgia, Ukraine, Iraq, South Sudan, Libya, Afghanistan, Indonesia; and the lawless rulers of the universe are attempting to “regime change” North Korea, Syria, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua – and on a larger scale China and Russia (I just returned from China – where the Government and people are fully aware what Washington’s intentions are behind every move they make).

In Africa, Africom, the US military Africa Command, buys off almost every corrupt African leader put in place by Africa’s former and new European colonialists, so they may continue sucking the riches out of Africa. These African leaders backed by Africom keep the African population in check, so they will not stand up. In case they won’t quite manage, “they” created the fear-squad called, Boko Haram, an off-spring of ISIS / IS – the Islamic State, created by the same creator, the CIA, Pentagon and NATO. The latter represents the European US-puppet allies; they keep raping Africa and reaping the benefits of her plentiful natural resources, and foremost, make sure that Africans stay subdued and quiet. Those who don’t may easily be “disappeared”. It’s Arica. But, have “they” noticed, Africa is moving, is gradually waking up?

And yes, not to forget, the “developed” and industrialized Europe, where sophisticated “regime change” over the years has subdued a largely well-off population, numbed and made apathetic by endless pro-capitalist propaganda and consumerism – Germany, UK, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, France, Italy, Spain – look what they have done to Greece! – Greece has become a red-flag warning for every EU nation that may dare to step out of US-dictated lockstep, of what might happen to them.

The list goes on with Eastern European EU countries, mostly former Soviet republics or Soviet satellites. They are EU members thanks to the UK, Washington’s mole in the EU, or as I like to call it – the European non-union – no Constitution, no solidarity, no common vision. They are all fiercely anti-Russia and most are also anti-Europe, but are made to – and love to eat and drink from the bowl of the EU-handouts, compliments of EU taxpayers. That’s about the state of the affairs we are in. There is, of course, much more coercion going on, but you get the picture. US interference is endless, merciless, reckless, without scruples and deadly.

Bolivia is just the latest victim. The process of Color Revolution is always more or less the same – a long preparation period. The coup d’état against Evo has been under preparation for years. It began already before Evo was first elected, when Washington realized that after the Bolivian people’s purging of two of Washington’s imposed “stooges” Presidents, in 2003 and 2005, Bolivia needed a respite. But the empire never gives up. That is a golden rule written in their unofficial Constitution, the PNAC (Plan for a New American Century), the writing of which has begun just after WWII, is regularly adjusted and updated, even name-changed (from Pax Americana to PNAC), but is still very much alive and ticking.

The coup against Evo Morales’ Government is not only because Washington does not tolerate any socialist government, and least in its “backyard”, but also – and maybe foremost – because of Bolivia’s riches in natural resources, gas, oil, a long list of minerals and metals – and lithium, the use of which is expected to triple over the next ten years, as it is used in electric cars and batteries. And as we know from the rapidly growing Green Movement, the future is out of hydrocarbon-driven into electric cars. No matter how the electricity is produced and how much environmental damage is done in producing the new flag, but still individual ‘mobility’. As neoliberal economists would say, “that’s just an externality”.

The first of the two US-imposed Presidents at the turn of the century, was Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, also called “Goni”, who privatized Bolivia’s rich hydrocarbon resources to foreign, mostly US, petro-corporations for a pittance. He was “elected” in 2002 against the indigenous, Aymara candidate, Evo Morales. When Goni was disposed of in a bloody people’s coup (about 60 dead) in 2003, he was replaced by his Vice-President, Carlos Mesa, the very key opponent of Evo’s, in the 20 October 2019 elections – who, following the same line of Goni’s privatization policies, was also overthrown by the Bolivian people in 2005. This led to a new election late in 2005 – and that’s when Evo finally won by a landslide and started his Presidency in January 2006.

What he has achieved in his almost 14 years of Presidency is just remarkable – more than significant reductions of poverty, unemployment, analphabetism, increase in health indicators, in national reserves, in minimum wages, pension benefits, affordable housing – in general wellbeing, or as Evo calls it, “living well”.

That’s when Washington decided to step back for a while – and regroup, to hit again in an appropriate moment. This moment was the election three weeks ago. Preparation for the coup intensified a few months before, when Bolivia’s Vice-President, Álvaro Marcelo García Linera, told the media that every day there were reports that US Embassy agents were interfering in the country’s internal and local affairs.

The manipulated election in 2002 is recorded in an outstanding film, “Our Brand is Crisis”, a 2005 American documentary by Rachel Boynton on American political campaign marketing tactics in Bolivia by Greenberg Carville Shrum (GCS) – James Carville was previously President Clinton’s personal assistant – the documentary.

Then, like today, the coup was orchestrated by the CIA via the “legitimate” body of the Organization of American States (OAS). The US Ambassador to the OAS openly boasts paying 60% of OAS’ budget – “so, better don’t mess with us”.

Less than a week before the October 20 election, Carlos Mesa was trailing Evo Morales with 22 against 38 points. Under normal circumstances it’s is virtually impossible that in a few days a candidate picks up that much of a difference. The election result was Mesa 37% and Morales 47% which would give Morales a first-round win, as the winning candidate needs a margin of ten points. However, already before the final tally was in, the OAS, the US and the usual puppets, the European Union, complained about election ‘irregularities’ – when the only irregularities were manufactured in the first place, namely the drastic increase in Mesa’s percentage from 22 to 37 points.

Evo declared himself the winner on 20 October, followed immediately by violent anti-Evo riots throughout the country, but mostly in the oil-rich Santa Cruz area – home of Bolivia’s oligarchs and elite. The protests lasted for about three weeks during which at least three people died, when last Sunday, November 10, Evo was “suggested” by the military brass, supported by the OAS (US) to step down with his entire entourage, or else. He resigned, because he wanted the riots to stop and his countrymen to continue living in peace. But violence hasn’t stopped, to the contrary, the opposition has become fiercer in their racist attacks on indigenous people, targeting them with live ammunition. The dead toll as of today has reached at least 20.

President Morales asked for, and was granted political asylum in Mexico. The Vice-President, Alvaro Linera, and most of Morales’ cabinet members followed him to Mexico. The President of the Senate, Ms. Adriana Salvatierra, also of the MAS party, according to the Constitution, would have been the legitimate interim-President. But she was also forced to resign, and so were Victor Borda, the leader of the Chamber, and Rubén Medinaceli, First Vice President of the Senate. They all had to resign. In total some 20 high-ranking officials of Evo’s Government took refuge in the Mexican Embassy in La Paz, before they flew to Mexico.

Evo has since said he wants to return to Bolivia, to be there for the millions of his supporters. Yes, still a sizable majority of Bolivians support Evo and his Movement towards Socialism (MAS). There is a mass of peaceful unarmed Evo supporting demonstrators, growing every day. They are being brutally beaten by US trained and “bought” police and military forces. Indeed, the commander of Bolivia’s armed forces, Williams Kaliman, served in earlier days as a military attaché at the Bolivian Embassy in Washington. During that time he was secretly ‘recruited’ to be trained by what then was called the School of the Americas, and which is now the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, located at Fort Benning near Columbus, Georgia. Apparently Kaliman was not the only one of high-ranking Bolivian military and police officers having been subjected to this torturer and coup plotter training.

On Tuesday, 12 November, an extraordinary session of both chambers (Deputies and Senate) of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly (Parliament) was convened, to officially accept President Morales’ resignation, but the representatives of the Movement to Socialism (MAS), which are the majority in both chambers, did not attend because they were told by the opposition that their safety and that of their families could not be guaranteed. As a consequence, Parliament had suspended its session due to the lack of quorum.

Nevertheless, Jeanine Añez, an opposition senator, declared herself interim-President, and even though her nomination is illegal and unconstitutional, the Constitutional Court confirmed the legality of the transfer of power. But who could blame the judges of the Constitutional Court? They want to be on the right side of the fence, now that the Americans are soon expected to rule the country. Ms. Añez is from the right-wing Social Democrat Movement (not to confuse with MAS = movement towards socialism), and she is known to be fiercely anti-Morales. If her coronation looks and sounds like the one of Juan Guaidó in Venezuela, it is because her self-nomination is like Juan Guido’s, a US-supported farce. Washington has immediately recognized Ms. Jeanine Añez as (interim) President of Bolivia. She, as well as Carlos Mesa, have been groomed to become the next Bolivian leaders, when new elections are held – probably sometime in January 2020. Especially, Carlos Mesa is well known as a US-supporter from his earlier failed stint at the Bolivian Presidency (2003 – 2005).

Earlier, Jeanine Añez, tweeted, “I dream of a Bolivia free of satanic indigenous rites, the city is not for the Indians who should stay in the highlands or the Chaco”. That says it all, where Bolivia is headed, unless – unless another people’s revolution will stop this nefarious course. Ms. Añez apparently has since removed the tweet.

One of the internal drivers of the ‘golpe’ is Luis Fernando Camacho, a far-right multi-millionaire, from the Santa Cruz region, where the US have supported and encouraged separatism. Camacho, a religious bible fanatic, received support from Colombia, Brazil and the Venezuelan opposition – and, of course, he is the US henchman to lead the ‘coup’ internally.

As Max Blumenthal from “The Grayzone” reports,

When Luis Fernando Camacho stormed into Bolivia’s abandoned presidential palace in the hours after President Evo Morales’s sudden November 10 resignation, he revealed to the world a side of the country that stood at stark odds with the plurinational spirit its deposed socialist and Indigenous leader had put forward. – With a Bible in one hand and a national flag in the other, Camacho bowed his head in prayer above the presidential seal, fulfilling his vow to purge his country’s Native heritage from government and “return God to the burned palace.” Camacho added “Pachamama will never return to the palace,” referring to the Andean Mother Earth spirit. “Bolivia belongs to Christ.”

Still, there is hope. Bolivians are known to be sturdy and staunch defenders of their rights. They have proven that best in the overthrow of two foreign-imposed successive Presidents in 2003 and 2005, “Goni” and Carlos Mesa respectively. They brought their Aymaran Evo Morales to power in 2006, by an internationally observed, fully democratic election.

There are other signs in Latin America that things are no longer the way they used to be for decades. Latin Americans are sick and tired of their status of US backyard citizens. There is movement in Brazil, where Lula was just released from Prison, against the will of Brazil’s fascist also foreign, i.e. US-imposed, Jair Bolsonaro. Granted, Lula’s release from prison is temporary, but with the massive people’s support he musters, it will be difficult for Bolsonaro to put him back in prison – and preserve his Presidency.

Social upheavals in Chile for justice and equality, against a racist Pinochet era Constitution, violently oppressed by President Piñera’s police and military forces, have lasted for weeks and will not stop before a new Constitution is drafted, in which the protesters demands are largely integrated. That too is a sign for an awakening of the people. And the enduring resistance against North America’s aggression by Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, are all positive vibes for Bolivia – not to be trampled over.

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Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research; ICH; RT; Sputnik; PressTV; The 21st Century; Greanville Post; Defend Democracy PressTeleSUR; The Saker Blog, the New Eastern Outlook (NEO); and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the ResistanceHe is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Featured image is from Massoud Nayeri

Assad: EU Should Fear the Terrorists It’s Backing in Syria, Not Refugees

Assad: EU Should Fear the Terrorists It’s Backing in Syria, Not Refugees

By Staff, RT

Speaking to RT’s Afshin Rattansi, Syrian President Bashar Assad said it’s hypocrisy for European nations to fear that Ankara will send refugees to Europe, but continue to sponsor terrorism in Syria.

The Syrian leader argued that the primary concern for Europe should not be the Syrian refugees which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan now threatens to release to Europe, but the “hundreds of thousands” of terrorists Europe allied itself with.

Assad told Afshin Rattansi that while there might be some extremists among those who fled the war-torn country, the majority of the refugees do not pose any acute threat, as opposed to hardened terrorists who may turn on their patrons.

The relationship between Europe and Turkey is love-hate, Assad said. He noted that although the EU “hates” the Turkish leader, European nations cannot but listen to what he has to say.

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«الدولة السورية» الحضن الوطني للإبن الضال وترامب باع «الحلم الكردي» لأردوغان

أكتوبر 12, 2019

ثائر الدنف


بضع كلمات أطلقها الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب عبر صفحته على «تويتر» قبل أيام لقد آن الأوان لكي نخرج من هذه الحروب السخيفة التي لا تنتهي والكثير منها قبلية. وعلى تركيا وأوروبا وسورية وإيران والعراق وروسيا والأكراد الآن حلّ الوضع . كانت كفيلة بإنهاء «الحلم الكردي» لإقامة إقليم ما يسمّى غرب كردستان وتخلّي واشنطن عن «قوات الحماية» الكردية، وبإعطاء الضوء الأخضر لتركيا بشكل غير مباشر للبدء بالأمس في تنفيذ «المنطقة الآمنة» في شمال شرق سورية بطول 140 كلم وبعمق 35 الى 40 كلم.

إذاً، تحت غطاء سياسي أميركي أعلن الرئيس التركي رجب طيب أردوغان ، ن أنّ «القوات المسلحة التركية أطلقت عملية «ربيع السلام» بالتعاون مع ما يسمّى «الجيش الوطني السوري» ضدّ حزب العمال الكردستاني وقوات حماية الشعب الكردية وداعش في شمال سورية». متذرّعاً بأنّ الهدف وراء هذه العملية هي منع إنشاء ممرّ إرهابي عبر الحدود الجنوبية مع سورية، وإحلال السلام في المنطقة»، وفي تصريح له عبر مواقع التواصل الاجتماعي أوضح أردوغان أنه «بفضل منطقة الأمان التي سنؤسّسها سنضمن عودة اللاجئين السوريين إلى يبدهم وسنحمي السلامة الإقليمية لسورية ونحرّر سكان المنطقة من الإرهاب».

وتزامناً مع انطلاق العملية عاد ترامب ليؤكد عبر تصريح له أنّ التدخل في الشرق الأوسط كان أسوأ قرار في تاريخ الولايات المتحدة، مشيراً إلى «إننا بصدد العمل على إعادة جنودنا إلى الوطن». وأضاف «نحن أخرجنا جنودنا ويجب على تركيا أن تتولى السيطرة على مقاتلي «داعش» المحتجزين لدى «قسد» الذين رفضت أوروبا إعادتهم»، مشيراً الى أنّ «الحروب الغبية التي لا نهاية لها، بالنسبة لنا، تنتهي».

وكان قد سبق هذه العملية إخلاء للقوات الأميركية الأول من أمس لبعض نقاط المراقبة في المنطقة الحدودية شمال شرق سورية، والمواقع الممتدّة على طول الشريط الحدودي من تل أبيض حتى رأس العين شرقاً، باتجاه القاعدة الأميركية في الجلبية. كما باشرت بالانسحاب من نقطة تل أرقم في ريف الحسكة الشمالي الغربي، وثم من موقع أميركي في مدينة تل أبيض الحدودية. وبدورها كانت تركيا قد عززت من تواجدها العسكري بالأمس إذ أرسلت 10 شاحنات محمّلة بالدبابات الى الحدود مع سورية، كما وصل رتل عسكري من 80 مدرعة الى لواء اسكندرون، هذا فضلاً عن بعض المواقع لمرابض المدفعية التي استحدثتها تركيا على طول الحدود.

لهذه الضربة العسكرية عدة أهداف استراتيجية مبيّتة في الأجندة التركية، بحيث تعتبر أنّ نجاحها في إقامة «المنطقة الآمنة» يشكل الى حدّ بعيد الضربة القاضية للحلم الكردي في تشكيل دولته، ما يعني عملياً انّ 90 من إقليم غرب كردستان سيكون ضمن المنطقة التركية، وبعدها سوف تعتمد تركيا على التغيير الديمغرافي لهذه المنطقة عبر استقطاب عائلات المسلحين الذين فرّوا من مناطق الجنوب والوسط السوري بعد سيطرة الجيش العربي السوري عليها. أما الخطوة التالية هي في إعادة مليوني لاجئ سوري من المتواجدين في تركيا في منطقة آمنة تصرّ على إقامتها على طول الحدود مع سورية، وإلزام الاتحاد الاوروبي في بناء الملاجئ لهم وتقديم المساعدات والخدمات تحت إشراف تركي، وفي حال رفض الإاتحاد الأوروبي تقوم بالضغط عليه من خلال فتح الحدود التركية لللاجئين بالهجرة الى أوروبا.

وأيضا أصبحت النوايا التركية واضحة في «تتريك» الشعب السوري الواقع تحت سيطرتها إذ تقوم بتدريسه اللغة التركية وإقدام جامعة غازي عنتاب على فتح ثلاث كليات في ثلاث بلدات شمال سورية، حيث شهدت بلدة اعزار افتتاح كلية للعلوم الإسلامية، وكلية تربية وتعليم في عفرين، وكلية للاقتصاد العلوم الإدارية في الباب، كما سبق للجامعة نفسها أن افتتحت مدرسة مهنية في بلدة جرابلس الحدودية السورية كذلك، وهي ليست الجامعة التركية الوحيدة التي تتخذ هذه الخطوة بل كذلك قامت جامعة حران الحكومية بالتوصل إلى اتفاق مع المجلس المحلي لمدينة الباب لافتتاح فرع لها في المدينة يشمل كليات تغطي اختصاصات علمية وأدبية عدة.

أما السبب الرئيسي في إقامة تلك المنطقة الحدودية تحت السيطرة التركية هو لضمانة أن تكون آبار وأنابيب النفط والغاز تحت إشرافها وتمسك أوراق تفاوض قوية في التفاوض مستقبلياً مع الدولة السورية، وأن يكون لها حصة في إعادة الإعمار.

إذاً، كلّ تلك الحسابات التركية تبقى حلماً لحين حسم النتائج الميدانية، خصوصاً بعد تأكيد دمشق على لسان نائب وزير خارجيتها فيصل المقداد، «أنّ بلاده لن تقبل بأيّ احتلال لأيّ أرض أو ذرّة تراب سوريّة وأنها ستدافع عن نفسها في مواجهة أيّ عدوان». وفي سياق متصل، بحث وزير الخارجية الروسي سيرغي لافروف، مع نظيره التركي مولود جاويش أوغلو، التسوية السورية مع التركيز على الوضع شمال شرقي سورية، وبحسب بيان للخارجية الروسية، أشار لافروف إلى أنّ «تركيا لها الحق بالدفاع عن نفسها، لكن ينبغي الحفاظ على وحدة الأراضي السورية»، مبرزاً أنّه «على كلّ القوات العسكرية الأجنبية التي لها وجود غير مشروع أن ترحل عن سورية».

وبدوره، حذر الاتحاد الأوروبي من الخطوات العسكرية التركية ضدّ الأكراد في شمال سورية، وأكّدت السلطات الفرنسية والبريطانية انهما ستدعوان إلى جلسة لمجلس الأمن لبحث الهجوم التركي على سورية ».

أما في المقلب الآخر، بات من المؤكد انّ «قوات سورية الديموقراطية قسد» تقف على مفترق طرق مصيري يهدّد وجودها، بعد تخلي أميركا عنها في مواجهة الخطر التركي. إنّ الحركة «الكردية» لم تتعظ من تجربة عفرين في ريف حلب الشمالي بداية العام الماضي، عندما تركهم الأميركي في المواجهة مع القوات التركية وبعض فصائل المعارضة المسلحة ولوّح بالانسحاب من سورية في حين فتحت دمشق ذراعيها لاستيعاب أبنائها من الأكراد، وبالفعل، انتقل وفد كردي آنذاك من مجلس سورية الديمقراطية برئاسة الهام أحمد، الى دمشق وجرت لقاءات متعدّدة بحثت بآلية التنظيم الإداري للمناطق الكردية وكيفية تسلّم دمشق زمام الأمور هناك. ولكن ما لبثت الحركة الكردية أن نكثت بوعودها وانقلبت على الاتفاق مع القيادة السورية عندما لمست أنّ الاميركي لن ينسحب حينها، تحت ضغط من الإدارة الأميركية و»إسرائيل» على الرئيس الأميركي. وكان في موازاة هذه اللقاءات مع دمشق، ينشط ممثلو حزب الاتحاد الديمقراطي باتجاه العواصم الأوروبية وتحديداً باريس التي قامت بدور فعّال في إقناع واشنطن بالعدول عن قرار الانسحاب لأنه سيفتح الطريق أمام تحالف روسيا ايران سورية للسيطرة على كافة الأراضي السورية.

بعد تلك التطمينات الأميركية والأوروبية حينها، شعر الأكراد في تلك اللحظة بفائض قوّة لا يسمح لهم بأقلّ من خيار الدولة المستقلة، فكان أن تراجعت الاتصالات مع دمشق، لصالح التأثير الأميركي الواسع. ولكن اليوم مرة جديدة تثبت أميركا أنّ «الثابت الوحيد في السياسة هو المتغيّر» ولن تأبه لمصير حلفاء ظرفيين مثل «قسد»، وإذا ما خيّرت بين تركيا التي تحاول استقطابها من المحور الروسي الإيراني في السياسة والمحور الصيني في الاقتصاد فلن تختار «قسد».

إذاً، وفي ظلّ تلك المعطيات ليس هناك من خيار أمام «قسد» إلاّ القبول بالعودة إلى الحوار مع الدولة السورية من دون شروط، وترميم أزمة الثقة التي خلقتها معها في التجارب السابقة، وفي هذا السياق تشير بعض المصادر السورية بأنّ الفرصة قائمة دائماً للحوار ولكن على الفريق الآخر أن يبدي جدية في الحوار وأن تكون المصلحة الوطنية السورية هي البوصلة الوحيدة. وهذا ما أكده الرئيس الإيراني حسن روحاني بانّ الحلّ الأمني والعسكري على الحدود السورية التركية يمكن فقط عبر تواجد الجيش السوري في تلك المنطقة. وفي هذا السياق تشير مصادر إلى أنّ إيران تسعى إلى تفعيل خطوط الحوار بين دمشق و«الإدارة الذاتية الكردية» لاستعادة القوات السورية زمام الأمور في شمال شرقي البلاد لكبح التوسع التركي هناك.

Switzerland: the political system and the cold arrogance

by Paul Schmutz Schaller for the Saker Blog

Switzerland: the political system and the cold arrogance

Since more than 125 years, Switzerland has a very interesting tradition of popular votes. There are three situations which lead to a popular vote:

a) (Small) changes of the constitution, proposed by the government and approved by the parliament.

b) (Small) changes of the constitution, proposed by a popular initiative, which needs to collect 100’000 signatures (not online!); actually, there are 5.44 millions who are entitled to vote so that 100’000 are about 1.84% of all.

c) New laws or changes of existing laws, proposed by the government and approved by the parliament, if there is a popular referendum, which needs 50’000 signatures.

In the last 10 years, there were 85 popular votes, with very diverse subjects, for example: social and economical questions; questions of immigration and asylum; questions of environment, energy, and nutrition; taxes; transport (roads, railways); medical questions; security and army. Of the 85 popular votes, 16 were of category a) (13 of them were approved in the vote), 46 of category b) (6 of them were approved, against the recommendation of the government), and 23 of category c) (in 16 cases, the proposal of the government and the parliament was approved). Hence, in 16 of the 85 votes, the government did not win. The participation was quite variable; usually, it is between 40% and 50%.

Please do not think that these votes are something like “people” against “elite” or “working class” against “monopoly capital”. Such votes do not exist in reality, at least not in Switzerland. Nearly each vote is the result of some divisions among the ruling classes. Each side tries to convince the population that it supports the real interests of the people while the other side defends only egoistic, particular interests. Of course, in most cases, there are huge differences concerning the financial resources of the two sides. Moreover, the press is in the hands of very few people (as usually in Western countries), which gives them a big advantage. Nevertheless, they are not omnipotent and it arrives that their money and their propaganda is not well targeted.

By the way, the results are usually not overwhelming clear. Only sometimes for subjects of category a) since in these cases, a popular vote is necessary even if there is no serious political opposition. Aside from such cases, there was only one popular vote in the last 10 years, where the losing side got less than 20%. The subject was a popular initiative of a small political party, which demanded a radical change of the tax system without being able to simply explain how the new tax system would work. They got only 8%. On the other hand, close results occur regularly.

Some examples of popular votes

Let me now discuss some examples. As in many other countries, the financing of the retirement is a problem in Switzerland, due to important changes in the age structure of the population. Generally speaking, I think that the Swiss population is quite aware of the problem. However, obviously, right wing parties and left wing parties greatly differ on the method how to solve this problem. In this situation, a quite creative idea emerged in the parliament. In 2017, the government had lost three popular votes, two concerning the retirement and one concerning tax relief for commercial enterprises. The first two were lost mainly due to the opposition of right wing parties while the third was opposed by left wing parties. So, the parliament proposed a combination of the two subjects, considering that both sides would have some advantages as well as disadvantages. This proposition was clearly accepted in a popular vote in 2019.

The immigration question has occupied the Swiss population since at least 50 years. In 2014, a popular initiative for the limitation of the immigration was accepted in a popular vote by 50,3% against 49,7%. This was almost a political sensation, which had some immediate consequences. Since the result was close and very unexpected, some people quite quickly proposed to repeat the popular vote. However, one must underline that these were rather amateurish people, politically speaking. No important political party, which was among the losers of the vote, gave support to this proposition and a second popular vote will not happen. On the other hand, popular initiatives are usually formulated quite generally and it is up to the parliament to elaborate the precise laws. In this case, the winners of the vote were not satisfied with the elaboration of the parliament.

Switzerland has the reputation of being a beautiful country and I shall not say the contrary. Protection of the environment has a long popular tradition in this country. In 2012, a popular initiative was accepted with 50.6% against 49.4%. It demanded the restriction of the construction of secondary residences, which was mainly a problem in the touristic regions of the Alps. This result also was a huge surprise. In this case, there were no demands for repeating the vote; however, again, the winners were not completely satisfied with the successive elaboration of the laws by the parliament.

In a popular vote in 2014, it was rejected that Switzerland buys new fighter jets. This also was an important defeat for the government. Many Swiss think that fighter jets are expensive prestige objects. Clearly, the subject is not closed and more popular votes will come. I wonder whether the recent experiences with Yemen and Saudi Arabia will have some influence.

My last example is from 2013 where a popular initiative – called fat cat initiative – was accepted with 68,0%. In the history of Switzerland, this was the highest score for a popular initiative which was not supported by the government. The subject turned around the excessive salaries of top managers. The vote was a kind of protest against the parallel world in Switzerland, formed by the top managers of big enterprises and their sponsors. Ordinary Swiss people have no access to this world, which functions in its own way. I would think that few people have the illusion that the acceptance of this popular initiative will change much. But it was a warning to this parallel world, indicating that the population is not completely defenceless against them.

In the light of the Swiss experiences, let me make some comments about the most famous popular vote in the world of the last years, namely the vote on Brexit of June 2016. Recall that the participation was 72.2% and the result was 51.9% to 48.1%. In the international press, this was characterized as a close vote. Moreover, prominent politicians, for example former prime minister Blair, almost immediately demanded a repetition of the vote, based among other things on online petitions. From my point of view, this all is nonsense. A difference of 3.8% cannot be judged as close, considering also the high participation and the fact that the British government was against Brexit. The actual prime minister Johnson may be what he is, but for me, his main argument – that one has to respect the popular vote on Brexit – is completely legitimate.

A government of national unity

The Swiss government consists of seven members, called federal council. In principle, each one has the same power; the president changes each year by a rotation principle. Federal councils are elected by the parliament. As a consequence of the system of popular votes, the Swiss government is a government of national unity, not by law, but by tradition. Important political forces are integrated in this way. In the last 80 years, there are three essential examples. Beginning in 1943, the worker and trade union movement was integrated and has – since 1959 – two members of the government. Since 1971, Swiss women are entitled to vote and now, a Swiss government without women is unthinkable (actually 3 of the 7 are women). In connexion with the problems of immigration, the Swiss party with the clearest position against exaggerated immigration became the most important party. As a consequence, this party has now 2 members of the government.

Again from a Swiss point of view, the political system in France is not effective. It systematically excludes large parts of the population, in particular the parties of Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Mélenchon. It is obvious for me that the protest movement of the “Gilets Jaunes” is a consequence of this exclusion, provoked by the political system.

The next elections for the Swiss parliament will be on 20 October 2019. In December 2019, the new parliament will elect or re-elect the 7 federal councils. Concerning the parliament elections, everybody expects important gains for the green and ecological parties. This will then raise the question whether one of the federal councils should be from an ecological party. Such questions are among the most discussed and most interesting in Swiss politics.

Generally speaking, the Swiss population is very content with the political system. Usually, the approval rating of the government is much higher in Switzerland than in other Western countries.

Relations with the European Union (EU)

Switzerland is not a member of the EU, but is surrounded by countries of the EU. Therefore, the relations with the EU are crucial. Some 25 years ago, the EU was quite popular in Switzerland. But this has very much changed. Today, it is merely seen as a necessary evil to have good relations with the EU. Paradoxically, the majority in Switzerland seems however to be opposed that other countries leave the EU.

Recently, the Swiss government has negotiated a new bundle of treatises with the EU. For the EU, the subject seems to be settled. However, in Switzerland, the result of the negotiations will have no chance in a popular vote (which necessarily will be held). The Swiss government is aware of this situation and looks for some improvements. I must say that I am looking forward to a confrontation between the Swiss population and the EU concerning these new treatises.

Why are there dissidents in Switzerland?

One cannot say that the Swiss political system is bad. As I said, the country is quite beautiful and, moreover, quite rich, modern, and open to the world. So, why are we not all happy? Why are there dissidents like me? Of course, I can only give my own explications. By the way, if you read “About the Saker” on this website, you will easily conclude that the Saker is a Swiss citizen, but not particularly happy about his experiences in Switzerland – to say the least.

From an abstract point of view, you can say that Switzerland is a typical Western country. Take as an example the fact that the “approval rating” in the Swiss population of countries like Russia, Iran, or Syria is very small. And since the case of the Occident in the world is utterly unfair, it is only logical that you become a dissident if you live in a Western country. Ok, this is a simple formula, which moreover is not wrong. However, in some sense, it completely misses the point. I claim that nobody becomes a dissident just by rational reflection. What really matter are life experience and a protracted confrontation with the society.

I would say that a dissident is somebody who expects nothing more from his or her country. Who no longer looks for being integrated. Not because of revenge, but because of he or she has tried hard for some reasonable time, but did not find any possible way. Accordingly, I completely lost my faith in Switzerland. I would not longer appreciate being identified with Switzerland. I owe nothing to this country. Ok, I admit that I was disappointed when Roger Federer lost the Wimbledon final despite having match points. And I would support Swiss football team (soccer, for Americans) against most other countries, including China and Russia (but not against Syria, Iran, or Venezuela). But this is more nostalgia, than anything else.

In fact, I consider Switzerland as a boring country. No positive dreams, no ideals, no engagement, no ideas, not even serious discussions. Only chilling defence of the achievements – which, in principle, is not wrong, but the problem is the “only”. And above all, an intolerable arrogance against all that is not glorifying Western hegemony.

“But you have the right of expressing all this criticism.” I hear this argument since 50 years. But only recently, I understood what is thoroughly wrong with it. It suggests that criticism is the aim. But no, I was not born for criticizing. Looking for critics was never my first reaction, except maybe very occasionally in my youth. Ok, I had my own ideas – but for constructive reasons. What I was looking for was the opportunity to contribute to the society as well as possible. But again and again, I was frustrated. The society did not at all care about my contributions. They wanted just my subordination to the existing order. So, finally, I lost interest and became a dissident. Obviously, this made me more calm and easy-going. And as the Saker says: “The deserts are filled with submarines.”

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