… On May 24, the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Raiquoted a Hezbollah senior official stating that “now that the Golan front has been linked to the Shebaa Farms, Al-Ghajar, and Al-Sheikh [Hermon] Mountain, the war with Israel will definitely take place sooner or later.” A day later, on the occasion of the thirteenth anniversary of “Liberation Day,” the Lebanese national holiday commemorating Israel’s withdrawal from South Lebanon, Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s secretary-general, further elaborated on this point. If Syria falls, he argued, the resistance will be under siege and Israel, then, will invade Lebanon. If Syria falls, he continued, Palestine is lost. For this reason, he concluded, Hezbollah is defending Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria.
It may be in Hezbollah’s interest to draw Israel into the Syrian civil war, for it would conclude the framing of this war as a war of resistance against the “usurping entity.” The spark that could draw Israel in may be cross-border spillage of the civil war into Israeli-controlled territories, or another Israeli air raid against arms shipments to Hezbollah or to the Assad regime. It is in Israel’s upmost interest to remain out of this war, as that is in the interest of those who seek to reduce the level of devastation and human suffering. Unfortunately, the international community is polarized and consequently paralyzed in its ability to stop the war, and the prospects of greater Israeli involvement are increasing by the day.
Tag Archives: Rsquo
A Gulf-based analyst quoted by The Washington Post says the Syrian civil war is Syrian no longer: now it’s an Iranian fight to the finish.
The head of a think tank in Dubai says Syria’s civil war has become a fight for Iran’s survival and rulership in the Middle East.
… Alani told the Post, “This is an Iranian fight. It is no longer a Syrian one.
“The issue is hegemony in the region. If Iran wins this conflict and the Syrian regime survives, Iran’s interventionist policy will become wider and its credibility will be enhanced.”
There’s just one problem with their thesis: The batteries that have powered support for Abe’s revival plan — surging stocks — are running out. Given how quickly the Japanese electorate tends to sour on politicians, the prime minister and his most ardent fans should be worried.
Six months into Abe’s shock-therapy experiment of massive monetary and fiscal stimulus as well as sweeping structural reforms, Japan faces record trade deficits, extreme volatility in the bond market and rising energy and food costs as a weaker yen makes imports more expensive. The capital-spending and household-wage increases that are needed to halt deflation have yet to materialize.
Unfortunately, the sense of crisis has lifted on all these fronts, encouraging some to see in the changed landscape a sustainable “new normal,” a period of painfully slow but predictable economic progress, as forecast by Pacific Investment Management Co. CEO and co-CIO Mohamed El-Erian, or the more sanguine view of many investors willing to bet that a surge in liquidity in the U.S., Europe and Japan makes for a more robust way forward for all these countries — and for everyone else. Some believe U.S. lawmakers can now afford to postpone tough choices, the Europeans will muddle through, China can smoothly rebalance its economy, and fires in the Middle East can be left to simply burn themselves out.
These are dangerous illusions. The deeper questions that created the recent convulsions have not been answered, and the easing of so much useful fear will make them much more difficult to address. That’s why the uncertainty and volatility of the past half decade is far from finished — and is almost sure to trigger new crises. Be sure your seat belt is securely fastened, because nothing has really come to rest. We have entered the New Abnormal, a period in which every market assumption must be questioned and the wise investor is prepared to be surprised.
A System Collapse Framework for Societies [May 26, 2013]
The Fourth Turning [June 9, 2013]
Schiff: 2/3 of America to Lose Everything Because of This Crisis [April 29, 2013]
We are speaking out because Moscow’s dark turn towards repression has ramifications that extend beyond the borders of Russia. The country’s human rights defenders, civil society activists and those who want to report the facts deserve the support of world leaders.
Russia’s most recent and determined retreat from glasnost can be traced back to the reportedly flawed 2011 parliamentary elections. Protests against reported electoral fraud and corruption began in December 2011, quickly spreading to 99 cities, with more than 5,000 demonstrators arrested.
Concerned citizens began to carry white balloons and wear white ribbons to symbolize their movement, and the Snow Revolution was born. The upsurge of civil society activism illustrated that many Russian citizens pay close attention to their government, are willing to show their displeasure at its performance and value the right to elect their representatives.
Protests continued into 2012, culminating with the Bolotnaya Square rally on May 6, 2012. While organizers planned for 5,000 people, tens of thousands turned out to protest the election results and inauguration of President Putin. Reiter reported that as the marchers began moving toward the square, “contrary to initial agreements with the organizers,” demonstrators were met by powerful cordons. They were being ‘pushed’ into a narrow strip of the roadway on the waterfront, where a crowd of tens of thousands are physically unable to fit.” Once protesters broke through a police line, officers began to make arrests.
Police detained between 400 and 650 people in connection with the events at Bolotnaya square.
[Published on May 7, 2013.]
Putin’s interview on the Kremlin’s plans for the G8 summit contained nothing but economic platitudes, but he was far less circumspect in the “informal” meeting with Russia Today journalists, elaborating on the “fundamental cultural differences” that complicate relations between “spiritual” Russia and the US, which “began to view itself as an empire” (RIA Novosti, June 14; see EDM, June 13). The Russian president discussed the hidden “catch” in the posture of protector against constructed threats because “an empire cannot afford to display weakness.” But in speaking about the US, Putin was, in fact, spelling out his own worries about Russia. What was really odd about that meandering flow of reflections was the unexpected invocation of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, who, in Putin’s opinion, would not have used nuclear weapons against Germany in spring of 1945, if he had them, in contrast to the US, which “dropped the bomb on Japan, a country that was a non-nuclear state and was very close to defeat.” This exercise in alternative history reveals Putin’s deep desire to emulate the brutal effectiveness of Stalin’s leadership (Vedomosti, June 13).
As the Chinese juggernaut starts to lose momentum, should Americans be breathing a collective sigh of relief? Not really. Unfortunately, China’s decline is likely to be a lot less peaceful than its rise.
The Party’s best bet will be to play the nationalist card, making the defense of the ‘motherland’ its primary mission. This will not be difficult. It will be easy to blame China’s economic failures on the machinations of foreign powers, even as Mao Zedong did in his famous speech proclaiming the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949. The fact that China had “fallen behind,” he said, was “due entirely to oppression and exploitation by foreign imperialism and domestic reactionary governments.”
It will also be easy to put the Chinese economy on a war footing. China’s central planning institutions are well suited to the mobilization of resources for defense industries. A military buildup would also help to alleviate excess capacity problems in heavy industry. Total excess capacity in the steel sector, for example, already exceeds total US capacity. Arms manufacturing is likely to be seen as a good way to put idle plants back online.
And a few things coming out of the black box now seem to suggest that things are not as hunky dory as they are being made out to be. The loans given by banks and other financial institutions have reached very high levels. As Chancellor and Monnelly point out in their research paper “Between 2007 and 2012, the ratio of credit(i.e. loans) to GDP climbed to more than 190 percent, an increase of 60 percentage points.
China’s recent expansion of credit relative to GDP is considerably larger than the credit booms experienced by either Japan in the late 1980s or the United States in the years before the Lehman bust.” As of the end of 2012, the total lending by banks and other financial institutions as a proportion of the GDP ratio stood at 198 percent.
So while there might be many out there who would like to believe that all is well in China, the evidence is clearly to the contrary. Chu of Fitch put it best when she told Bloomberg “You just don’t see that magnitude of increase in the ratio of credit to GDP…It’s usually one of the most reliable predictors for a financial crisis.”
China is pushing ahead with a sweeping plan to move 250 million rural residents into newly constructed towns and cities over the next dozen years — a transformative event that could set off a new wave of growth or saddle the country with problems for generations to come.
The government, often by fiat, is replacing small rural homes with high-rises, paving over vast swaths of farmland and drastically altering the lives of rural dwellers. So large is the scale that the number of brand-new Chinese city dwellers will approach the total urban population of the United States — in a country already bursting with megacities.
This will decisively change the character of China, where the Communist Party insisted for decades that most peasants, even those working in cities, remain tied to their tiny plots of land to ensure political and economic stability. Now, the party has shifted priorities, mainly to find a new source of growth for a slowing economy that depends increasingly on a consuming class of city dwellers.
It would seem that police brutality is not just for ordinary – powerless – citizens in China.
A policewoman from central China’s Henan Province was recently arrested when visiting her daughter in the provincial capital Zhengzhou. Mistakenly accused of being sex workers, the woman and her daughter were beaten, tortured and detained for hours by local police.
After media reports led to public outcry, the policemen who were responsible for arrest were suspended from active duty.
This must be one of the most embarrassing mix-ups in the history of China’s police. Not only did this poor policewoman suffer the punches of her male counterparts, when she attempted to persuade them they were making a mistake by showing her own police ID they laughed at her. And when she requested to see the policemen’s credentials, they told her that their uniform was all the ID she needed to see.