Tag Archives: ECFR

What surely comes next!

Today I took another look at what the Washington Post reported on Mark Zuckerberg, even as today will not be about that. It will however 100% for certain, soon be about 44 senators, I am collecting data on losers like Rep. David McKinley (W.Va.), who accused Zuckerberg and Facebook of “hurting people” by failing to thwart those who try to sell opioids on the site. So he will soon face my exposure on how Heroin-related overdoses in West Virginia have increased by 200% by Nov 2017 and even more at present since measures were implemented to limit prescription opioid use. In addition a recent source gives us ‘Drug companies shipped nearly 21 million opioid painkillers to a town with 2,900 people‘, which was 3 months ago, so as I see it, the republican loser from West Virginia can join the Texas ranks as one of the least useful persons in the USA. But do not worry, these senators have accumulated loads of visibility and I will save some space for all 44 of them. So as this is coming soon enough, let’s take a look what matters today.

You see, the issues in the Middle East are accelerating and the issues are becoming more and more extreme. Even as we saw “The announcement was made at the High Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen held in Geneva today, bringing total EU funding to Yemen to €438.2 million since the beginning of the crisis in 2015. Speaking at the event in Geneva today, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis” a mere week ago (source: EU News), the issue is not how much is going there, but whether that pays for any humanitarian relief. You see, Yemeni Houthi’s fired ballistic missiles at Riyadh, which according to Al Jazeera travelled more than 800 Km into Saudi Arabia (at https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/04/yemen-houthi-rebels-fire-ballistic-missile-saudi-capital-180411153418562.html), and when we see “Sharaf Lokman, a spokesman for the Houthis, said the attack came after Saleh al-Samad – president of the Supreme Political Council that runs Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, and other rebel-held areas – declared the start of “a year of ballistic missiles“, can we blame Saudi Arabia for whatever comes next? Whatever comes next is likely to be today and as the papers are all about how civilians were hit in all this, it seems to me that there is an unbalance in what is reported on several sides, giving rise to different levels of scrutiny and bias, whilst those needing to get all the news are blatantly ignored. When we see “the kingdom’s defence forces saying they intercepted missiles that targeted Riyadh and another city, and drones targeting an airport and an Aramco oil facility in the country’s south“, many people forget that all this requires technology, knowledge and heaps of additional logistics. So how are the Houthi rebels getting this stuff? Someone is supplying them and even as we realise that these puppies are not cheap, we tend to forget that the cost is rising quickly, especially when we see “a year of ballistic missiles”. Even under the best of conditions Yemen could not afford any of it, so they shouldn’t be able to get the mere fuel for these missiles, where is the rest coming from? When we consider the players who could afford it, how come the EU is all about “Martin Griffiths initial priority should be to listen rather than act“, whilst someone is ordering missiles by the dozen a day (an assumption from my side), where are these funds coming from? I think that the part “Martin Griffiths has an opportunity to serve as a bridge between international and regional actors and to benefit from European diplomatic initiatives” sounds slightly too much like a joke when we see the adverse actions taken. In this the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) might be a mere think tank, yet even they need to work on the premise of reality and achievability, two parts that are not coming to their doorstep any day soon if they keep on ignoring certain cash flow issues in all this. You see, Saudi Arabia almost has no option left but to strike back as hard as they can. If they do not, they are merely opening themselves to additional attacks from Hezbollah Al-Hejaz. A group that Iran planned to revive last year and as matters go, there is every chance that they have gone beyond the planning stage. If there is any truth to the entire “a year of ballistic missiles” matter, it implies (to some extent) that certain parts are in play and Iran cannot get caught there in any way. Having a resurrected puppet like Hezbollah Al-Hejaz is the most likely solution for them. Even as they know that it will be a signal for Israel to hit Hezbollah in their region, the outcome is a certain level of destabilisation, which is as I personally see it the first need for Iran. If they have any plans towards hurting Saudi Arabia, destabilisation is a clear first tactical need. In this Saudi Arabia has its work cut out in equal measure. It needs a few solid iron strikes against the Yemeni Houthi’s for Iran to realise that they are truly biting off more than they can chew and that is the only way (without a full scale skirmish) for Iran to reconsider the situation that they are on. In equal measure, Turkey is seeing the initial impact of its actions in Syria as the Turkey’s embattled lira hit a new low of around 4.14 to the US dollar. Turkey suffers from 10% inflation driven by an enormous internal credit bubble, a current account deficit of nearly 6% of GDP, and a US$220 billion corporate debt load in foreign currency. All this the Erdogan response is ““There are games being played on our economy,” he said in a speech in Ankara. “I call to those attacking our economy: You will not succeed. Just like you failed before, you will fail again”“. As I see it the idea that the cost of a war would largely impede ones economy as billions go to the cost of fuel for tanks and the ammunition for troops and tanks and even more resources for feeding the troops, all Trillions of Turkish Lira’s not going to the Turkish civilian needs and infrastructure probable has not yet sunk in with the President of Turkey, so that is that lack of insight to add to the tumbling Turkish economy as well? The good part here is that as they face those elements they need to shy away from becoming the Iranian tool in the Middle East outside of Syria, so that would optionally give Saudi Arabia more breathing space, how these acts could be used to stop Iran remains unclear at present, but there is every chance that Israel and the US are pissed off enough to do something silly like open up a full scale theatre of war in Syria (after the chemical attacks) and as such, if Russia does not respond with actual war and tries the diplomatic path to calm things down, Iran will not be left with any option but to wage war alone against Saudi Arabia, whilst Israel and the US will side with Saudi Arabia, the second part is that Yemen will suddenly lose all Iranian support which will change everything there as well.

The only direct path at present (as I personally see it) is to find out how the missiles make it to Yemen and make sure that the next 3 shipments are scuttled in the Gulf of Aden or the Arabian Sea, making the entire endeavour way too expensive for those with additional agenda’s. Yet the reality is that there are unknowns at present. It is not the missiles themselves, but the support system behind it all. Someone is getting trained there and finding out by whom and how is actually more important, sinking a shipment is one thing, getting rid of the instructors through targeted killings makes the next 6 shipments useless and therefor a tactic to be favoured (if realistically possible). In all this the person(s) training the Houthi are likely to be shielded, but it seems to me that finding them might be easier in the long run. Any Houthi firing team that the Saudi military can dispose of would delay the “year of ballistic missiles” tactic by several months with each successful hit making the statement Saleh al-Samad an unrealistic boast that could drown moral the way it needs to be, because as long as this goes on in Yemen, the 850,000 half-starved children (as reported by Oxfam) will not get to have any chance of survival.

Yet that is the way of inaction, even as action might be worse in the short term, resolving the issue would also imply that humanitarian aid could be possible after that. In all this, no matter what we think might happen, we do know that death is surely coming for thousands, if not for hundreds of thousands of the civilian population, a population of 10 million of Yemeni who are currently out of food, water, electricity and medicine, and their chances for survival? When we consider the mere premise of “The World Bank predicts that Yemen’s oil and gas revenues will plummet during 2009 and 2010, and fall to zero by 2017 as supplies run out“, we might have to realise that the Yemeni’s need to consider not being alive, at the lives of Syrians were set to zero on the abacus of life due to a none economic value, the plight of the Yemeni people might be worse and that is not just in light of their value, that realisation also gives us that this nation has no funds to work with, so how would they be paying for their “year of ballistic missiles“? #JustAsking!

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A changing language

Europe is in several stages of unease; there is the spending of Mario Draghi, Brexit remains on the mind of many. Yet, the one change that is now more and more in the foreground of many is the problem that Turkey seems to be. There are those set on the stage to end Turkey as a NATO member and subsequent becoming part of the EU, there are things going forward and backward, but the language involved in all this is changing, so are the settings for the meetings yet to come. In all this the latest Turkish act to double down on the Russian S-400 purchases in 2020. There is, as I stated unease and as I see it the entire EU-Turkey mess is now a dance around unclear settings. Yet the settings are founded on what some would call, clear and blatant lies.

So to recap, on March 26th in the Bulgarian port city of Varna with the attendance of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, there will be a summit. The given setting is “to discuss EU-Turkey relations as well as regional and international issues“, this we got from the spokesperson for Donald Franciszek Tusk. The meeting held at the leaders’ level will be hosted as a working dinner, a statement signed by Tusk and Juncker said. Yet soon thereafter it begins. With: “Ankara has been stressing that the EU fails to understand the challenges that the county faces, and calls on all sides to take Turkey’s concerns into consideration, particularly against the PKK and the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), which carried out the failed July 15 coup attempt“, yet how is that true when it has been clear for the longest time “Turkey witnessed the bloodiest coup attempt in its political history on July 15th, 2016, when a section of the Turkish military launched a coordinated operation in several major cities to topple the government and unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan“, this is the quote from Aljazeera, but they were not the only one giving this.

The Turkish government blames the failed coup attempt on Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish preacher and businessman who has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999. So as we accept that the Gülen movement is classified as a terrorist organization by Turkey under the assigned names Gülenist Terror Organisation (Fethullahçı Terör Örgütü, FETÖ) or Parallel State Organisation (Paralel Devlet Yapılanması, PDY), we see the link offered, yet another path in this is “MIT officials admitted that they received the very first intelligence report about a possible attack on July 15, only hours before their own headquarters was under heavy artillery fire“, as well as “As of today, more than 100,000 people have been sacked or suspended and 50,000 arrested in an unprecedented crackdown. The government has deemed the crackdown necessary to ‘root out all coup supporters from the state apparatus’“. When we consider those parts, we need to realise that the Millî İstihbarat Teşkilatı (MİT) was completely out of any loop, which makes Turkish Intelligence not just a flawed setting, it would implicate that it has limited counter terrorism options and no resources to speak of (in intelligence terms).

In opposition to this, there would be enough data to offer that it was an internal issue from within the Turkish military and whatever opposes Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey got a fat target painted on them. This fills and completes the view we need to have of Turkey much better. In support of this we need to consider that one exiled cleric could not have orchestrated the military support that would have been required and that was seen in action. The width of the Turkish military acting seems to be that of an internal star chamber than a clerical imprint on the military, the latter would have given more visibility to other ranking officers within the Turkish armed forces. As this becomes more and more visible and accepted, we are treated to the view on the unacceptable acts against the Kurds yet again, which followed the Turkish official view of the coup that they ‘survived’.

So in this light the setting for March will be one that is a puzzle. You see as Turkey keeps on playing this game, their credibility will only go down further. The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) (at http://www.ecfr.eu/article/essay_eu_turkey_relations_the_beginning_of_the_end_7226) gives us: “Both Turkey and the EU need the continuation of this partnership. It is a matter of definition whether this partnership will be in the form of full membership or in a different form. What is important is not to break the process and not to cause alienation. The need for sustainable EU-Turkey relations obliges both sides to take steps to honour their commitment to integration“, we can accept that, but at this point, is continuation feasible? We see the shifting language that shows that Germany is less and less taken with Turkey, now siding more and more with France on the anti-Turkey alliance. It gets worse for Turkey as we now hear: “A Turkish court on Wednesday denied entry to the German ambassador to Ankara to the hearing of Selahattin Demirtas, the former co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)“, which we get from http://www.dw.com/en/turkish-court-denies-german-ambassador-entry-to-kurdish-politicians-trial/a-42579957, even as France is trying to work with Turkey regarding a ‘diplomatic road map‘ on Syria, the sounds of accusation of Turkey violating international law was not far behind it, so there is pressures on nearly every level. Only 12 hours ago, Deutsche Welle gave us “Even NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg wouldn’t hazard a guess ahead of this week’s defense ministers’ meeting. He said Turkey needs to clarify the status of the contract” (at http://www.dw.com/en/turkish-russian-missile-deal-puts-nato-on-edge/a-42572965), as I said earlier, the language is changing. As we see ‘Turkey needs to clarify the status of the contract‘ that it is about cancelling the contract? Yet in that respect, what would Turkey demand in return? How much is that going to cost and where does that invoice end up? You see, when you consider Reuters with ‘U.S. tells NATO allies spending plans still falling short‘ (at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-nato/u-s-tells-nato-allies-spending-plans-still-falling-short-idUSKCN1FY013), where we see “Spain has said it will not meet the 2024 target. Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy, Portugal, Norway and Denmark are also lagging. Hungary expects to meet the goal only by 2026“, as well as “France will increase its defense spending by more than a third between 2017 and 2025, but Germany, is not expected to reach the 2 percent target by 2024“, this gives us that the three large economic anchors of the European Union cannot get there. It is these elements that make me wonder on the changing language involving Turkey. From a setting that would have given a clear rejection of Turkey becoming an EU member, we see the setting of new talks, new events and more ‘collaboration’ projects. I think that France is already learning the hard way that this path leads to nowhere, but the others need Turkey to be a spender here, and Erdogan is using that tactic to his own advantage, because once they are in, you cannot throw them out anymore (the EU that is), not even willingly as the UK is learning the hard way. Even as we accept that to some extent Turkey helps to reduce an influx of Syrian and other migrants and refugees into the EU bloc, the question is to what extent and for which purpose, because once these refugees make it into Turkey, Turkey is either stuck with them or they must ‘divert’ them to another place.

In this, in an earlier blog I mentioned the Visa Free EU travel for Turkey and that they had not met the demands. So as we see “Last week, Turkey manifested determination to restart a new chapter in its ailing relationship with the European bloc by submitting a paper detailing Turkey’s roadmap for the fulfilment of the remaining seven benchmarks of 72 criteria” we need to get worried on the non-committed acts from the EU on the matter which had not been met. It seems like Brussels is trying to find any way to either delay it all or give Turkey a pass, which would be disastrous for several players. This is seen in several articles, in this case the Irish Times gives us: “Instead of formally ending EU membership talks, Dr Merkel said she would look at imposing “real restrictions on economic contact” including through the European Investment Bank, EU aid, World Bank and by blocking talks on expanding Turkey’s customs union agreement with the EU, a move that could hit billions of euro in potential Turkish exports“, whilst the EU themselves was ‘dismissive of call for end to Turkey accession talks‘, stating that this is for the heads of government, European Commission says, so the EU revels in inaction and restrictions in other ways. This is a dangerous and explosive combination.

So even as one issue was the contention in the counter terrorism benchmark which has been the definition of terrorism in the counter-terrorism law that Turkey was called repeatedly to amend in order to comply with European democratic and judicial standards. Now, according to reports, a legal provision will be added soon to the current anti-terror law stating that “any critical expression that does not exceed the boundaries of journalism does not constitute a crime“, how is that enough? As we see the Kurdish issues as shown earlier as well as a new complete failure by the Millî İstihbarat Teşkilatı (MİT) should leave anyone a clear indication that not only is the counter-terrorism failing, there is an increased worry that Turkey does not really comprehends the term ‘counter-terrorism’, in support of that fact, or evidence to that, you should talk to the journalists Deniz Yücel, Huseyin Akyol, Ragip Duran, Ayse Duzkan, and Huseyin Bektas. Oh no, you can’t they are in jail! Turkey could have had a genuine excuse, but they lost that option when they denied the German ambassador to Turkey access to the court proceedings. That alone should be regarded as evidence to dismiss the ascension of Turkey to the EU.

And whilst the entire language on Turkey seems to be in a fluid state, the Brexit noise goes on, whilst some are relying on fear-mongering with noise like: “You could have a permanent Operation Stack for 20 miles” regarding shipping between the UK and the EU, ‘could‘ being the operative word. So how large was that ‘stack’ in the 70’s and 80’s? In addition we see the Financial Times (at https://www.ft.com/content/0a8799c6-1190-11e8-940e-08320fc2a277) give us: “Brussels is urging EU leaders to consider radical options such as raiding corporate tax receipts and money raised from selling carbon emission permits to fill a €15bn a year budget hole left by Brexit“, in addition it gives us: “the need to find more money for priorities such as border control and joint defence, mean negotiations are likely to be even more poisonous than previous EU tussles over money“, whilst we see “Some member states don’t want to pay more but they want to do more. Other member states want to receive more“, these elements show the desperate state the EU is in now, that whilst Mario Draghi has printed almost 2 trillion Euro in money for ‘Quantative Easing‘. This relates directly to Turkey, because it shows the desperate EU trying to open a many doors as possible, this is how I see the impact of not dismissing Turkey as an EU member at present. So when we see “impose tougher conditions on access to EU funds as a way to force the likes of Poland and Hungary to comply with EU policies on the rule of law and on asylum” as is a given view on the two needing more money, wanting a stronger voice but cannot contribute. Add to that the earlier pressure from the US for NATO member to do more gives a shifted view of the needed activities within the EU, Turkey is seen as the one floating elements that will allow a few players to keep their heads above water, but it is as I personally see it a desperate act from certain short term viewers, that whilst they also know that it will descent EU elements into chaos. As I (again merely a personal view) see it, it would cripple Strasbourg in getting issues resolved and as Turkey fails to comply with humanitarian sides, it could in equal measure become the puppet for Russia for dislodge other item in consideration, an option honoured by perhaps negating some invoices for S-400 systems, spare parts, training and consultancy? It is merely speculative thinking, but would I be wrong? It would work out very well for Turkey, for the other bloc members a lot less so.

A danger that could have been resolved almost 2 years ago, I will let you ponder on the reasons why the EU never negated this danger.

 

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