What the world could look like in ten years after the Iran deal
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1“Diplomatic relations would be resumed. Iranian-European relations would improve as well. Iran could also have better relations with some Arab nations. This is the best-case scenario, but even here the Middle East doesn’t suddenly turn into Utopia. This dark scenario assumes that Iran won’t comply with the agreement and still develops a nuclear weapon. With diplomatic efforts shown to be fruitless or pointless, the future U.S. president will launch air strikes against the Iranian nuclear sites. Britain will participate in the attacks. The question, even now, is: What would Iran do in response to such strikes? The United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia have been involved for decades in a covert war with Iran. Republicans, Israelis and Saudis who are promoting direct military action against Iran need to know the difference between dancing with devil and boxing him” writes Riyadh Mohammed for The Fiscal Times.
2India, China, and Iraq have received the most weapons and military equipment in 2014 from Russia’s state-run Rostec company, according to the company’s annual report published on Wednesday.“The deliveries of military equipment were sent to 59 countries. The company’s main importers were India (25 percent), China (22 percent), Iraq (22 percent), Syria (5 percent), and Venezuela (5 percent). Geographically, the main exports of military equipment went to Asia (75 percent), Latin America (9 percent), and the Middle East (7 percent),” the report shows.The company’s annual report also reflects that military exports to the former soviet republics have drastically dropped to $370 million in 2014 from $1.5 billion in 2013.The company fulfilled 9,400 contracts in 2014; that is 54 percent more than in 2013.
3Russia’s Justice Ministry says it has issued warnings to 12 nongovernmental organizations that the Kremlin has deemed as “foreign agents,” saying the groups face “administrative liability measures” – fines severe enough to shut down almost any Russian NGO. A ministry statement on July 21 said all nongovernmental organizations receiving funds from abroad must indicate on all printed or distributed materials that the group “performs functions as a foreign agent.” It added that warnings were issued to the Memorial human rights center, Memorial’s information center, the Sakharov Center, For Human Rights, Transparency International’s Russian research center, the Committee Against Torture, and the Civil Assistance charity for refugees and internally displaced persons. It said warnings also were issued to the Siberian Press Development Institute, the Bellona-Murmansk environmental group, the Maximum support center for discrimination victims, the Resource Human Rights Center, and the St. Petersburg-based Civil Control rights group.
4Turkmenistan, Russia to mull prospects for expanding co-op. The third meeting of joint Turkmenistan-Tatarstan working commission on trade, economic, scientific, technical and cultural cooperation will be held July 23-24 in Ashgabat. It is planned to discuss the prospects for expanding the cooperation in the petrochemical sphere, energy, industry, transport, construction, agriculture, environmental protection, education, health care, sports and tourism. Russia tops the list of Turkmenistan’s largest foreign trade partners. In recent years, Turkmenistan has intensified the cooperation with such largest regions of Russia as Tatarstan, St. Petersburg, Astrakhan, Sverdlovsk and others.
5Azerbaijan is the EU’s reliable and strategic partner in the energy field, and we want to take this partnership further, President of European Council Donald Tusk said at the joint press conference with the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev in Baku on July 22. One aim of the European energy union is to exclude the possibility of using gas as a threat, this is why the EU is dedicated to diversifying our supplies. And Azerbaijan is a main partner in this endeavor,” he added.“Today, we agreed to stand united on developing the Southern Gas Corridor – a project which is in our common strategic interest – and to make sure it is completed on time, whatever our competitors do. For Europe, it is a question of diversifying supply. For Azerbaijan, it is a question of diversifying demand,” Tusk said.
6Kazakhstan to establish fund to finance energy-saving programs. Kazakhstan will establish a special fund engaged in financing energy-saving programs, Investment and Development Minister Asset Issekeshev said at a briefing in Astana on July 20.”Many countries have established special funds for energy efficiency,” he said. “Currently, we are working over the concept of such a fund.”Issekeshev also said that the Kazakh authorities are holding talks “with the World Bank and the European banks” to ensure financial provisions to the fund.”The main investors will be international financial institutions. They have already expressed their readiness. It is clear that in order to use the money efficiently and transparently, we asked them to be the main investors and help us manage the fund to launch pilot projects,” he added.
7The Olympics for military experts. China has successfully deployed its military personnel and hardware, including tanks, to Russia to participate in war games, the Russian Defense Ministry reports. The deployed members of the People’s Liberation Army of China as well as Chinese military hardware were deployed to take part in the International Army Games 2015 along with 14 other nations, including India, Armenia and Russia. The games, which are often described as the Olympics for military experts, will take place from August 1 through 15 and will consist of 13 military individual and team competitions, including a ‘tank biathlon’ as well as Aviadarts, according to Russian agency Sputnik International News.
8The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) says Turkmenistan is the country with the world’s lowest proportion of tobacco smokers. WHO chief Margaret Chan said during a July 21 health forum in Ashgabat that a recent WHO study shows only 8 percent of Turkmenistan’s population smokes tobacco. She said “this is the lowest national indicator in the world.” Turkmenistan annually holds a month of public exercises and sporting events under the slogan “Health and Happiness.” It was one of the first post-Soviet republics to crack down on smoking, introducing hefty fines in 2000 for smoking in public places.
9President Ilham Aliyev: We need to bring to the world the truth about Azerbaijan. “The target number one for Armenians worldwide is Azerbaijan. I already talked about this, and I want to reiterate that our main enemy – is the Armenian lobby. I can say and prove it at any audiences”, – said Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev at a meeting with members of the Board of the Press Council on the occasion of the 140th anniversary of the national press.
10Israel’s nuclear strategy after the Iran agreement. “In each and every case, Israel’s nuclear strategy must aim for deterrence ex ante, not revenge ex post. This does not mean that such strategy should necessarily steer clear of preparations for actual nuclear war fighting. On the contrary, there is still likely to be established a purposeful and productive association between enemy perceptions of any such nuclear war-waging preparations, and Israeli nuclear deterrence” writes Louis René Beres for The Hill.
Gen. Li Shangfu: “When jackals or wolves come, we will face them with shotguns”
In his first international public address since becoming defense minister in March, General Li Shangfu told the Shangri-La Dialogue that China doesn’t have any problems with “innocent passage” but that “we must prevent attempts that try to use those freedom of navigation (patrols), that innocent passage, to exercise hegemony of navigation.”
A U.S. guided-missile destroyer and a Canadian frigate were intercepted by a Chinese warship as they transited the strait between the self-governed island of Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory, and mainland China. The Chinese vessel overtook the American ship and then veered across its bow at a distance of 150 yards in an “unsafe manner,” according to the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.
Additionally, the U.S. has said a Chinese J-16 fighter jet late last month “performed an unnecessarily aggressive maneuver” while intercepting a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance aircraft over the South China Sea, flying directly in front of the plane’s nose.
Those and previous incidents have raised concerns of a possible accident occurring that could lead to an escalation between the two nations at a time when tensions are already high.
Li suggested the U.S. and its allies had created the danger, and should instead should focus on taking “good care of your own territorial airspace and waters.”
“The best way is for the countries, especially the naval vessels and fighter jets of countries, not to do closing actions around other countries’ territories,” he said through an interpreter. “What’s the point of going there? In China we always say, ‘Mind your own business.’”
He accused the U.S. and others of “meddling in China’s internal affairs” by providing Taiwan with defense support and training, and conducting high-level diplomatic visits.
“China stays committed to the path of peaceful development, but we will never hesitate to defend our legitimate rights and interests, let alone sacrifice the nation’s core interests,” he said.
“As the lyrics of a well-known Chinese song go: ‘When friends visit us, we welcome them with fine wine. When jackals or wolves come, we will face them with shotguns.’”
In his speech U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin broadly outlined the U.S. vision for a “free, open, and secure Indo-Pacific within a world of rules and rights.”
Li scoffed at the notion, saying “some country takes a selective approach to rules and international laws.” “It likes forcing its own rules on others,” he said. “Its so-called ‘rules-based international order’ never tells you what the rules are and who made these rules.”
Republicans accuse Biden of corruption
Biden whistleblowers ‘fear for their lives’: Republicans say FBI won’t hand over alleged $5 million ‘bribery’ document because key informant’s safety could be in jeopardy, writes London “Daily Mail”. The FBI allowed leaders of the House Oversight Committee to view the FD-1023 form Republicans say proves President Biden was involved in a $5 million criminal bribery scheme.
House Republicans say that the FBI is violating a subpoena to turn over an alleged Biden ‘bribery’ document because the original informant’s life could be in danger if they are ‘unmasked’ – despite the names being redacted.
According to a ‘highly credible’ whistleblower, an internal FD-1023 memo created in 2020 based off information from a highly-paid FBI informant apparently details a $5 million ‘arrangement’ for an exchange of money for policy decisions between then-Vice President Joe Biden and a foreign national.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., told DailyMail.com that the foreign nation involved in the $5 million money exchange was Ukraine, and that it happened seven years ago. Greene added that the FBI could take measures to protect the informant’s life if they ‘cared about doing the right thing.’
The Georgia congresswoman added that it is necessary to move forward with contempt charges against Wray because the information contained in the document is ‘so damaging and so dangerous to our national security’ that Americans need the facts.
After reviewing the document, House Oversight Committee Republicans Chairman James Comer told reporters the accusations contained in the form ‘suggests a pattern of bribery’ consistent with findings the committee has put out publicly.
It’s called ‘money laundering,’ he said, saying it fits within the pattern of over $1 million in Romanian-linked payments to the Biden family revealed last month.
The White House has also pushed back, calling the Republican-led investigation ‘unfounded’ and ‘politically motivated.’
China takes leadership role in Central Asia
The China-Central Asia Summit, which took place recently in Xi’an on May 18-19 was every bit a geopolitical event as much as the G7 summit in Hiroshima that it overlapped. The symbolism was profound, notes M.K. Bhadrakumar, Indian Ambassador and prominent international observer.
China and Russia were the elephants in the room for both summits but the Xi’an summit distinguished itself as an inclusive affair, whereas, the G7 event was, regrettably, an exclusive gathering of wealthy countries of the Western World dripping with cold war-era animosities, and it didn’t hide its intentions even in its choice of “special invitees” — one ASEAN country; two BRICS countries; one tiny African state; a Pacific island etc. — borne out of the old colonial mindset of “divide and rule.”
The biggest difference was that the Xi’an summit was substantive and focused on a positive agenda that is quantifiable, while the Hiroshima summit was largely prescriptive and partly declarative and only marginally tangible. This was because the China-Central Asia summit took place on native soil while the G7 has no habitation and name in Asia except that one of the seven member countries is of Asian origin and the summit itself was a thinly-veiled attempt to insert the alien Western agenda into the Asian setting.
The China-Central Asia Summit was motivated by the growing realisation that the countries of the Eurasian region must play a proactive role in the common task of pushing back the United States, the driving force of the G7, which they perceive to be attempting to destabilise the common neighbourhood of Russia and China in Central Asia. Simply put, the Xi’an summit tacitly signalled that Russia and China are unitedly circling the wagons for a common purpose — to borrow an idiom which was employed by the Americans in the 19th century to describe a defensive manoeuvre.
From a historical perspective, it is for the first time ever that Russia and China are explicitly joining hands to stabilise the Central Asian region — a momentous happening by itself — with Beijing assuming a leadership role, given Russia’s preoccupations in Ukraine. This paradigm shift belies the western propaganda that Russian and Chinese interests collide in the Central Asian region. There is a strategic convergence between Moscow and Beijing that stability in Central Asian region, which is vital for both capitals in their own interests, is best achieved through ensuring security, boosting economic development or international political backing.
The Xi’an Declaration released after the summit includes 15 points, divided into several blocks of issues: security, logistics, trade and economic cooperation, humanitarian cooperation and ecology.
China’s thesis is that security is best strengthened through economic development and for that reason, therefore, the region is important from the point of view of economic cooperation and regional development — although in aggregate terms, Central Asian economic resources are nowhere near sufficient for meeting China’s needs.
Suffice to say, terrorist threats emanating from the region, posing threat to Xinjiang, are China’s main concern and Beijing is willing to openly invest its resources in the security of the region and take part in the training of the anti–terrorist forces of the Central Asian states. Geographically, three out of the five Central Asian countries, namely Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, share borders with China. As for Russia, it has long regarded the region as its traditional sphere of influence and a strategic buffer zone, and thus prioritised the security of its southern border. Therefore, a safe and secure Central Asia aligns with China and Russia’s respective national interests.
In the context of the Ukraine crisis, Central Asia has emerged as a frontline for the US strategy to contain and weaken Russia. However, although Central Asian countries have adopted a neutral stance on the Ukraine situation, Russia’s influence in the region remains strong and is unlikely to be largely disrupted. Three key factors are at work here.
First, Russia is seen as the provider of security and Russia’s defence capabilities continue to play a crucial role in maintaining stability in the region.
Second, Central Asian states heavily depend on Russia in regard of labor migration, market access, transportation, and energy resources, and no other outside power foots the bill.
Third, do not underestimate that the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union continues to systematically build up regional economic integration.
The Xi’an Declaration talks about resisting religious extremism and attempts by external forces to impose their own rules on the region.
It stands to reason that China and the Central Asian states and Russia felt the need to create more effective mechanisms and plans in their common space so as to impart a new quality of cooperation, and supplement the SCO if need arises.
So far, Russia was engaged in strengthening political integration, while China systematically and powerfully interacted with the governments of Central Asian countries for the development of energy and infrastructure projects within the framework of a full-fledged economic expansion. That division of labour worked rather well, but then, the regional security environment changed dramatically of late.
For example, it has become vital for Moscow in the context of the rupture of Russia’s energy ties with Europe to divert its oil and gas exports to the Chinese market, and that requires Central Asian infrastructure in transit mode — a novel idea altogether.
Suffice to say, a high level of harmonisation and synchronisation of the national plans of the Central Asian countries is needed. Currently, there are no agreed common strategies in the Central Asian region, which has a population of 75 million, M.K. Bhadrakumar stresses.
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