In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Posts Tagged ‘Multipolar world’

Russia and the changing world

Posted by seumasach on March 4, 2012

Vladimir Putin

Voltairenet

29th February, 2012

In the run-up to Russia’s presidential elections, prime minister and presidential candidate Vladimir Putin has to date published a total of seven program statements in which he defines Russia’s niche in a “changing world.” The sixth article on defense policy and army reforms was published by Voltaire Network yesterday. Today we bring to the attention of our readers the latest statement, published Monday in theMoskovskiya Novosti, devoted to international affairs.

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Is it really a “Europe of the banks”

Posted by seumasach on December 19, 2011

Cailean Bochanan

19th December, 2011

On a day when one of Britain’s last surviving europhiles, Iain MacWhirter, referred to the eurozone as an “economic suicide pact”, I feel the need to return again to the question of Britain and Europe and , specifically, the state of opinion in this country on the issue.

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US breathes life into a new cold war

Posted by seumasach on June 6, 2011

M.K.Bhadrakumar

Asia Times

7th June, 2011

There might have been a difference of opinion between the classical Greek dramatist Aeschylus and British romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley regarding the circumstances of the release of the Titan god Prometheus from captivity: whether it followed reconciliation with Jupiter, as the classicist thought, or a rebellion, as the romantic insisted. In either case, Prometheus was “unbound”.

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Tarpley: Iran nuclear swap deal a defeat for US policy of isolation

Posted by seumasach on May 18, 2010

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India hails Iran’s fight for right

Posted by seumasach on May 18, 2010

PressTV

18th May, 2010

Indian External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna says his country wants a developed and prosperous Iran, lauding Tehran for standing up for its rights.

“India praises Iran for fighting for its interests,” Krishna said in a meeting with Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the Iranian capital Tehran on Tuesday.

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Iran awaits West’s reply to declaration

Posted by seumasach on May 18, 2010

The declaration stipulates that Ankara hold Tehran’s low-enriched uranium and return it if Iran does not receive the higher enriched uranium from either France or Russia in a specific time period.

PressTV

18th May, 2010

Iran says the new nuclear declaration leaves no excuse for the other side to block the nuclear fuel swap as it seeks cooperation rather than confrontation.

Following the three-way talks between Iran, Turkey and Brazil, Tehran announced a nuclear declaration on Monday whereby Tehran would send some 1,200 kg of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for a total of 120 kg of higher enriched uranium.

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Iran, Brazil and the ‘bomb’

Posted by seumasach on May 2, 2010

Pepe Escobar

Asia Times

30th April, 2010

Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim put it very politely at a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki in Tehran this Tuesday. Amorim said, “Brazil is interested to have a share in settling the Iranian nuclear issue in an appropriate way.”

“Appropriate” is code for dialogue – not a fourth round of sanctions slammed by the United Nations Security Council, much less the military option, which the Barack Obama administration has stridently kept on the table. Thus by positioning itself as a mediator in search for a peaceful solution, the Brazilian government is in fact on a “soft” collision course with the Obama administration.

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Iran visit to Zimbabwe cements ties

Posted by seumasach on April 24, 2010

Morning Star

23rd April, 2010

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has arrived in Zimbabwe to sign a raft of trade and co-operation agreements and bolster ties in the face of “the West’s neocolonial agenda.”

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Old habits die hard in Kyrgyzstan

Posted by seumasach on April 13, 2010

Richard M. Bennett

Asia Times

13th April, 2010

On March 17, the head of United States Central Command, General David Petraeus, met President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in the capital of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek, to discuss bilateral cooperation and the situation in Afghanistan.

The visit came a day after the Barack Obama administration had confirmed the provision of some US$5.5 million to the Bakiyev regime for the construction of a counter-terrorism training center in southern Kyrgyzstan.

Within three weeks of this visit, Bakiyev, who had originally come to power in the “Tulip” revolution five years ago, had been overthrown and replaced by a provisional government headed by opposition leader and former foreign minister, Roza Otunbayeva.

Russia quickly recognized the new regime and was seemingly more than a little pleased with the outcome, thoughMoscow has since firmly denied playing any actual role in the unrest.

There is every reason to believe that the events cited above were actually closely related.

Russia under both Prime Minister (and former president) Vladimir Putin and now President Dmitry Medvedev had been growing ever-more displeased with the Bakiyev regime and its failure to close down the US Transit Center at Manas near Bishkek.

This Moscow has asserted had been promised in return forsignificant Russian financial support and technical aid. Moscow still firmly holds to the view that the only foreign forces that should be based in Kyrgyzstan are those of Russia.

The Russians have about 400 service personnel at Kant, north of Bishkek, and one of Moscow’s first actions following the change of regime was to send at least 150 additional paratroopers and special forces to reinforce the garrison there.

At the same time, the US reportedly confined its 1,200 or so personnel to the safety of Manas and also suspended all air operations through the base from April 7.

Bakiyev regime
The Bakiyev regime had gained a reputation for brutality and the tough measures organized by the GKNB (State Committee ofNational Security) to suppress any and all opposition to what had become an inefficient and corrupt government.

The tools most widely used were the GKNB and since 2001 the SNB or Sluiba Nacional noj Bezopasnosti (Intelligence Service) – effectively a barely reformed local version of the old Soviet KGB, and the SGO, or Sluiba Gosudarstvennoj Oxpany (Secret Police).
When, however, thousands of protesters came out onto the streets of Bishkek it soon became apparent that few members of the armed forces or even the SNB/SGO were prepared to support Bakiyev to the bitter end.

Rumors were to quickly spread that Bakiyev and some of the more hardline elements of the SNB/SGO had brought in gunmen from as far afield as Latvia and Chechnya to do their dirty work.

Some supporters of the new regime claim that most of the protesters shot were killed by these hired assassins.

The situation remains uncertain and Bakiyev may not yet be finished.

Kyrgyzstan is ethnically divided between the Kyrgyz, who make up nearly 70% of the population, largely in the north, and the Uzbeks, making up about 15% and concentrated in the Fergana Valley in the south.

Bakiyev fled the capital on April 8 and is now hidden in an area that may still contain the remains of his original power base, mainly in and around Jalal-Abad and the city of Osh.

While supporters of the ousted president admit that the armed forces in the capital and north have gone over to the newregime, a question mark may still hang over the real loyalties of the southern military command, with numerous units based in and around Osh.

If these units, which include the 1st Motor Rifle Brigade (Mountain) in Osh and elements of the 25th Special Forces Brigade were to remain loyal to Bakiyev, then the seeds of a civil war based mainly along ethnic and geographical lines would be a distinct likelihood.

If, however, the southern-based units accept, even reluctantly, the change of regime, then Bakiyev’s options would become very limited and his chances of regaining power slim.

Consequences for Washington
It is unclear just how seriously the Obama administration in Washington misjudged the true nature of the situation in Kyrgyzstan.

The long-term consequences of the provisional government finally bowing to pressure from Moscow and refusing to renew the US lease on the base at Manas in July this year are likely to be more than a little unfortunate for Washington.

Manas international airport near Bishkek has been an important supply transit base for the US since late 2001. Bakiyev had indeed stated his intention to close it in October 2008 after agreeing to the Russian loan. He only reversed the decision, to the irritation of Moscow, when the US agreed to more than triple its annual rent for the base, to about US$60 million annually.

Its loss would be a severe blow to US diplomatic prestige in the region and could have potentially serious military consequences for US forces in Afghanistan in the event of terrorist activity causing significant disruption to the major supply routes passing through an increasingly unstable Pakistan.

The US Intelligence community is also likely to suffer from the loss of its facilities embedded within the US base.

Putin was the first foreign leader to offer recognition of Kyrgyzstan’s provisional government. This was in sharp contrast to the US State Department’s pronouncement of its ill-judged decision to continue to cooperate with Bakiyev, at least until he formally resigned.

Correct diplomatically speaking, but a decision that failed to click with many supporters of the new regime who had only very recently experienced the brutality of Bakiyev’s gunmen.

Putin made an immediate hit by providing recognition of the bravery of those who had fought and died on the streets of Bishkek.

Unsurprisingly, the provisional government of Otunbayeva proved equally quick to express its gratitude to the Kremlin, thanking Russia for its “significant support” and confirming that it would be sending envoys to Moscow for talks. Otunbayeva said in an interview with Ekho Moskvy on April 8:

We are grateful to the Russian Federation and to the Russian prime minister, because in those days there was the support, significant support from Russia that exposed the family of a criminalregime. This regime resisted until the last bullet yesterday, and unfortunately we have dead, and wounded.

Another opposition leader, Omurbek Tekebayev, later told Reuters that Russia had “played its role in ousting Bakiyev” and that there was a “high probability that the duration of the US air base’s presence in Kyrgyzstan will be shortened”.

The bear bites back
So what exactly was the role played secretly by Russia in the overthrow of the pro-American regime of Bakiyev?

Despite Moscow’s claims to have no part in the events of the past few weeks, it seems certain that Russia did indeed encourage and to some degree facilitate the revolution. The opposition was assured of early Russian diplomatic recognition and were kept closely informed of Bakiyev’s activities and his attempts to retain power.

Emissaries from the Russian SVR (Foreign Intelligence) and the GRU (Military Intelligence) are rumored to have played asignificant covert role in neutralizing Bakiyev’s military and security power base by persuading senior Kyrgyz officers to keep most of their forces off the streets.

Significantly, they appeared to have also persuaded the Kyrgyz High Command to throw their weight behind the provisional government, a crucial element in establishing the bone fides ofthe new regime and the stability of the country.

The great game, the struggle for power, influence and strategic position in Central Asia, has been in play since long before the days of Rudyard Kipling and the British Raj in India. This latest round appears to show that the “Old Bear” has not lost all its claws.

Russian strength and confidence has been growing again in an area that Moscow still feels should remain firmly within Russia’s orbit and is now quite clearly at the expense of Washington’s own regional ambitions.

Richard M Bennett is an intelligence analyst with AFI Research, a leading authority on national security, global intelligence, conflicts and defense.

(Copyright 2010 Richard M Bennett.)

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Karzai’s China-Iran dalliance riles Obama

Posted by seumasach on March 30, 2010

M K Bhadrakumar

Asia Times

39th March,2010

Great moments in diplomatic timing are hard to distinguish when the practitioners are inscrutable entities. Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s visits to China and Iran within the week rang alarm bells in Washington which were heard in the Oval Office of the White House.

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A titanic power struggle in Kabul

Posted by seumasach on March 13, 2010

As befits the oligarchical mindset, US/UK seek to weaken central power, and therefore sovereignty, in Afghanistan thereby maintaining it as a base for operations to destabilise Russia and China; “the great game for the containment of Russia, China and Iran is about to commence in earnest”.

M K Bhadrakumar

Asia Times

13th March, 2010

The flurry of diplomatic activity in Kabul during the past week heralded the opening shots of a titanic power struggle, the outcome of which will largely determine the contours of an Afghan settlement.

In what is shaping up as a multi-layered power struggle, the principal protagonists are the United States and Britain, Pakistan, Iran and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

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