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The Ivory Tower and the JCPOA: Experts Sound Off with Guarded Optimism

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Just as the early scientists in the 1930s and 40s spoke about the threat that nuclear weapons posed, today’s scholars and experts have spoken out on the new Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Opinions have been polled and theories have been produced from many experts and scholars in the US and around the world. Although there is some degree of variance the theme remains fairly constant – the JCPOA, although not perfect, is the best option the world currently has at obtaining some degree of regional stability in the Middle East.

Arab Scholars and Experts Discuss the JCPOA

The JCPOA is an historic agreement that provides a very new and unique opportunity to engage Iran and potentially eliminate regional tensions, improve international security, and address nuclear proliferation for the entire Middle East. Given the significance of the ramifications that the JCPOA could bring to the future of the region, the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University engaged regional scholars and analysts on the ‘future of Iran’s role in the Middle East and Arab security.’ 15 leading regional experts across the Arab world (Egypt, Saudia Arabia, Yemen, Lebanon, Kuwait and Q’atar) were asked to share their views on the implications of the JCPOA on Iranian foreign policy in the Middle East and throughout the Arab world and how the nuclear agreement will impact the structure of regional security.

When asked to identify factors that explained why the JCPOA was reached, the most common theory amongst Arab scholars and experts was the impact of the sanctions on Iran and the Iranian people’s desire to have them lifted. Others also targeted Iran as the catalyst for change by ‘allowing for successful negotiations.’ They identified the shift in Iranian foreign policy with the election of President Hasan Rouhani, the generational gap between Iranian officials and the public, and the military stalemate Iran faced in regional conflicts as explanations for Iran’s newfound willingness to participate in nuclear negotiations. Whether stated or implied, many found the deal to be either a ‘clear win’ for Iran or otherwise beneficial to it.

Many experts who discussed the implications of nuclear agreement on regional nuclear proliferation believed that the JCPOA would ‘diminish the risk of proliferation’ and ‘praised the settlement’ for that reason and they were optimistic that the nuclear deal might advance the idea for ‘a WMD-free zone’ in the Middle East and bring Israel’s nuclear program in line with Iran’s. Others, however, were not as optimistic and expressed concern that Iran would not stick to the terms of the agreement and would drive towards nuclear weaponization and regional proliferation. The overall sentiment amongst regional experts was that any Iranian nuclear program poses a ‘significant threat to the Arab world’ as it is simply an outlet for Iran’s projection of regional power.

US Scientists and International Relations Experts Weigh In

The JCPOA does not just have implications for Iran and the Middle East. The US was a key player in the negotiations of the nuclear agreement and will continue to play a leading role as the terms of the JCPOA are implemented. 29 Nobel laureates, nuclear arms makers and former White House science advisors (some of the nation’s top scientists) provided contributory statements to President Obama on the JCPOA. In a letter to the White House, these 29 US scientists praised the agreement and used such words as “innovative” and “stringent” to describe the contents of the JCPOA. They congratulated President Obama for negotiating an agreement that ‘will advance the cause of peace and security in the Middle East and serve as a guidepost for future nonproliferation agreements.’

An opinion poll conducted by The College of William and Mary found that there was a significant gap between the opinions of US international relations (IR) experts and the American public. A large majority of IR scholars, 80 percent in fact, believed that the JCPOA will have a largely positive impact on regional stability and security in the Middle East, whereas only 43 percent of the US public believed the same to be true. Additionally, IR scholars at Indiana University argued that although a deal with Iran that lifts its economic sanctions in exchange for ‘checking’ its nuclear capabilities is far from perfect, it is by far the best option for the US. They viewed it as a step toward restoring a positive and cooperative relationship between the US, EU, and Iran by alleviating tensions between them. The biggest concern for those opposed to the deal is that Iran will violate the terms of the agreement and pursue a nuclear weapons program illicitly, but IR scholars in America feel that the control the IAEA will have on Iran’s nuclear development minimizes the likelihood of Iran ever actually producing a nuclear weapon.

Nuclear danger has now existed for decades. Before the first nuclear weapon was ever developed or used, experts expressed their opinions about the graveness of the threat that nuclear proliferation posed on global security. Today the world watched as the nuclear threat unfolded in the Middle East with Iran as the focal point of regional and international concern. As the P5+1 negotiated the agreements of a nuclear deal with Iran, scholars and experts around the world provided their assessments and theories on the impact the JCPOA would have on regional and global security. Nuclear experts, engineers, and scholars from the Arab world to the US responded with resounding optimism that the JCPOA was the best option the US and EU had at achieving some level of stability in the Middle East. Nuclear proliferation is a very complex, global issue. It will continue to prove a difficult task to reach a balance between allowing Iran to pursue a peaceful nuclear energy program and regional security in the Middle East, but it is clear that the Ivory Tower, both in the West and the Arab world, is convinced that the terms of the JCPOA is a step in the right direction.

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Elections in Tunisia

Giancarlo Elia Valori

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The elections held in Tunisia saw 7,065,883 registered voters, with 49% of women and over a third of voters under 35 years of age. The voters outside the national territory were 385,546.

There were 217 seats to be assigned and 4,871 polling stations with 12,000 international observers. 

 The lists were closed: hence the voters elected the candidates already chosen by the party they selected from the list.

Currently the seats in Tunisia are allocated according to the Hare-Niemeyer method (also known as the largest remainder method), which requires the numbers of votes for each party to be divided by a quota representing the number of votes necessary to win a seat.

The result for each party usually consists of an integer part plus a fractional remainder. Each party is first allocated a number of seats equal to their integer. This generally leaves some seats unallocated: the parties are then ranked on the basis of the fractional remainders and the parties with the largest remainders are each allocated one additional seat until all the seats have been allocated.

 The candidates are alternated between men and women in 33 multi-member electoral zones, as well as in 27 constituencies on the national territory, in addition to 6 for Tunisians abroad.

 Electoral systems always determine the results.

It should also be recalled that the 2011 movement, which led to new elections after the fall of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, has also drafted a new Constitution. It is essential to stay in power with the democracy granted by Western manipulations, including the jihadist ones.

 The last few years, however, have been marked by an alliance between Nidaa Tounes, a secular party, and Ennahda, the political movement linked to the Tunisian group of the Muslim Brotherhood.

As to the candidates for Presidency, the Tunisian law requires that each competitor to the office behaves consistently with the constitutional values, shows financial guarantees and, finally, all the necessary documents of support from the parties and the groups of reference. Obviously each candidate shall also demonstrate of not having any criminal or civil conviction in place or already served.

 Let us examine the candidates who took part in the Presidential and Parliamentary elections.

 This will be the best possible interpretation to analyse Tunisia’s internal political structure.

In fact, it should be recalled that on September 15, 2019, the last Tunisian presidential election was held, with two main contenders, namely Kais Saied and Nabil Karoui.

 In the second round, on October 13, 2019, the independent candidate Kais Saied won before his contender Nabil Karoui, labelled as “populist” by the Western media.

 Kaid Saied, labelled as “conservative” by Western media, which are very good at creating banal labels, is a jurist and a professor of constitutional law at the University of Tunis.

 He obtained 27.5% of votes, with a turnout slightly over 50% of those entitled to vote.

 His electoral campaign without public funds at his disposal and  with no party support was focused only on the fight against corruption.

 Another theme of Kaid Saied’s campaign not to be overlooked is the federalist reform of administrative, tax and political regulations.

 It is certainly surprising to see a federalist solution in a small country like Tunisia, but it should be noted that on May 6, 2018, local elections were held – on the basis of the 2014 Constitution – for as many as 350 Tunisian municipalities and regions.

It should also be recalled that the fragmentation and splitting up of representation was an old and ingenious idea of Habib Bourghiba.

Furthermore, the 2014 Constitution devotes the whole seventh chapter to the structure of local power.

In the last elections of May 2018, 37.16% of the local seats was won by candidates under 35 years of age, with 29.55% of the local presidencies won by women, who gained 47.05% of all the seats assigned.

The independent lists won massively also in local elections. In fact, Kaid Saied, the winner of the very recent run-off, repeated – at national level – the small miracle of the 2018 local elections.

It should be recalled, however, that only 35.7% of registered voters really went to the polls.

  Nabil Karoui had been released from prison 48 hours before the elections, where he had been staying since last August 23. He had been arrested on charges of money laundering, financial fraud and corruption.

 In the first round, however, Karoui had obtained 15.6% of votes, thus qualifying for the final round.

 Karoui is the owner of Nessma TV and, in any case, regardless of the election results, his assets have been frozen and he cannot expatriate.

His release has even called into question the election regularity from the legal viewpoint.

However, only the leadership of Ennahda, the political faction of the Tunisian Muslim Brotherhood, branded Saied as “conservative”.

In principle, voters’ disappointment regards the “free market” reforms and the so-called “austerity” policies. However, the current political and hence electoral tension concerns above all unemployment, which is now over 15.6% and mainly affects the younger groups.

Not to mention the high inflation rate, which is equal to 6.7% but is relatively stable. Prices, however, rise by 0.6% every month, and this is essential to understand people’s feelings and mood.

 According to the World Bank data – unlike what is known as on the spot rate – the average inflation rate, based on daily data, has been only 5.3% from 1963 to 2019. Hence nothing new under the sun.

As fully confirmed by the latest data, the growth rate for 2019 is equal to 1.5%.

However, according to the Monetary Fund, it will grow by 2.4% in 2020 and 4.4% in 2024.

Moreover, before elections, the Tunisian government has developed a new economic policy for purely electoral considerations, with an eye to winning votes.

 The pillar of this policy is, essentially, to maintain a “sustainable” budget deficit, and hence of foreign debt, with a more careful control of the inflation rate and with a structural reform of public finance.

 The idea is to reduce the budget deficit to 4.9% of GDP as from 2019.

 The latest data on inflation, however, points to an increase of up to 7.2%, which is anyway physiological, although the so-called international bankers regard it as a severe alarm.

 The Tunisian government is also planning to reduce wage and salary growth to 12% of GDP, as well as to increase the retirement age from 60 to 65 years.

 Finally, it also plans to retire – without replacing them – thousands of civil servants until 2020, especially those over 55 years of age.

 That is why some of these policies are under the voters’ scrutiny.

Wage cuts and actual stop of hiring in the public sector, as well as the increase in the fuel price and the above-mentioned debt restructuring partly funded by a 3 billion USD loan granted by the International Monetary Fund.

 The jihadist issue, too, is causing debate. Over one thousand of the known 5,000-6,000 foreign fighters are already in prison in Tunis.

 There are also 1,600 other prisoners in Tunisia who are accused of belonging to jihadist organizations, although they have not gone to fight abroad.

 Finally, there are also about 2,500 jihadist militants, who are still entrenched in the Western mountains.

Despite the good anti-jihadist policies implemented by the Tunisian government, all Qaedists are still there, at the core of trafficking and situations that Tunisia, as well as other Maghreb countries, cannot fully control.

Moreover, we do not know whether the new President, who lacks a party supporting him, will have the strength to impose himself on a rather fragmented Parliamentary scene.

 Let us see, in fact, who were the main candidates for Presidency, all long-time politicians.

 Let us begin with Mohamed Abbou, the candidate of the Social Democratic Party known as the “Democratic Current”.

 He was formerly the leader of the only real opposition party during Ben Ali’s rule, the Congress for the Republic.

 Minister in charge of Administrative Reform after 2011, he quickly resigned from his post in controversy with the other parties, which did not give room for manoeuvre.

Another candidate was Abir Moussi from the Free Destourian Party, hence de facto heir to Bourguiba’s and Ben Ali’s great tradition.

  Westerners, who like to put labels, define her a “populist”, but she is the sworn enemy of Ennahda, the party of the Muslim Brotherhood that she often declares she “wants to send back to prison”.

The candidates standing for the last Presidential election included also the aforementioned Nabil Kharoui, who is the owner of Nessma TV, the private satellite channel of which both Mediaset and Quinta Communications, a company of Tarak Ben Ammar, are shareholders.

It should be recalled that also Gaddafi had tried to acquire a shareholding in Quinta Communications, but the 2011 rebellion killed the Libyan Colonel and hence stopped the operation in Tunisia.

 As a strong supporter of the late President Essebsi, before the last election Abir Moussi had founded the Heart of Tunisia Party.

Promoting her image as “candidate for the poor”, she is anyway active in charity work through her associations throughout the Tunisian territory, especially in marginal areas.

She was leading the opinion polls before the election.

Another candidate for Presidency was Lofti M’Raihi, proposed by the Union Populaire Républicaine, a social-national (but not national-socialist) party. He is a politician who speaks out mainly against “corruption” and proposes “direct democracy”, although not through the Internet.

Apart from his positions centred around opposition to the ruling establishment, which he accuses of corruption and the use of political media to serve narrow interests, his platform is similar to what in the West we would call “reformist”.

Another candidate was Mehdi Jomaa, the former Head of government in the technocratic phase from January to February 2015, which came as an alternative to the political alliance dominated by Ennahda.

 He had previously served as Minister for Industry and Trade in the Troika government between 2011 and 2013. 

The Troika was an alliance between Ennahda, the Democratic Forum for Labour and Liberties, also referred to as Ettakatol – now strong only in Kasserine – and finally the Congress for the Republic.

Currently Mehdi Jomaa is the candidate of AlBadil Ettounsi, a liberal-republican Party with secular and conservative tendencies.

With a view to better describing Tunisia’s political landscape, we need to mention also another candidate for the Presidency, namely Hamma Hammami, the leader of the Popular Front, a coalition of small leftist parties.

As one of the old leaders opposing the former authoritarian regimes of Bourghiba and Ben Ali, he was very popular during the 2011 uprising. He believes, however, that Ennahda runs also a secret apparatus that collaborates with the “regime”.

In his opinion, the current rulers are simply “foreign agents”.

Another candidate was Mohammed Moncef Marzouki, who served as former President of Tunisia from 2011 to 2014, through the endorsement of members of the Constituent Assembly.

He was also a candidate in the 2014 presidential elections against the last President Essesbi, receiving 44% of the total votes cast.

 He is known for his long political struggle and opposition against the authoritarian regimes in the era of Bourguiba and Ben Ali, as well as for his human rights activism. He was the most prominent leader of the Congress for the Republic Party, later named Al Irada. In the last election he ran as leader of the brand new coalition “Another Tunisia Alliance”.

As President, he had constantly criticized Assad’ Syrian regime and the Egyptian leaders. He was one of the harshest opponents of Essebsi’s government, but his electoral campaign also focused on the fight against universal corruption and shameful media manipulation in favour of the regime.

Mention must also be made of Abdelkarim Zbidi, former Defence Minister and heir to Essebsi.

 He is a doctor and served as Defence Minister in the 2011-2013 and 2016-2019 governments.

He, too, is a bitter enemy of Ennahda and the Muslim Brotherhood.

 Abdelfattah Mourou is Ennahda’s candidate. He is the current Speaker of Parliament. He is a traditionalist, but with the widespread reputation of being “moderate” and “tolerant”.

 He supports democratic and pluralist Islam, but he has undoubted personal prestige and credibility both within the political class and the public at large.

 He still hangs a portrait of Habib Bourghiba in his house, as he has declared to the Tunisian press.

 Another candidate for the Tunisian Presidency was Youssef Chahed, former Head of the National Unity Government since August 27, 2016, serving as Minister for Local Development.

He was a former member of the aforementioned Republican Party and later of Nidaa Tounes, also known as Call for Tunisia, which is the political group founded by Essebsi.

Currently he is honorary President of the Tahya Tounes Party, also known as “Long Live Tunisia”.

He, too, fights a war against corruption, although critics have accused him of the same practices for which he criticizes his adversaries, i.e. exploiting public facilities and State resources in favour of his election campaign and to politically eliminate his opponents.

The female candidates included also Selma Elloumi Rekik, running for the Amal Tounes Party after her final separation from Nidaa Tounes.

 She had already served as Minister in Habib Essid’s government (2015-2016) and she emphasized her commitment to continuing the path of the late President Essesbi, reaffirming her diligence to represent all social groups and defend women’s rights.

With a view to describing the Tunisian political dynamics, we also need to mention the candidate Ahmed Safi Saïd, who ran in the presidential race for the second time as an independent.

He enjoyed the endorsement and support of the People’s Movement, which has an Arab Nasserist nationalist ideology.

He is a refined intellectual and public figure – also with a Western background – and he much relies and bets on the youth voters’ base. He supports an idea of Tunisia as middle regional power, albeit decisive, among the various Maghreb players.

 He also wants to strengthen and empower the intelligence Services, the true axis of every modern country.

 He also has an ideology contrary to what nowadays is defined – confusingly – neo-liberalism. He wants a Tunisian society with enhanced military capabilities, suitable for rising up to the post-modernity challenges, including the regional ones.

The presidential candidate of the Social-Democratic Union was Abid Bikri, the current Secretary-General of the movement Tunisie En Avant (Tunisia Forward).

 He was a senior leader of the Tunisian General labour Union prior to his appointment as Minister for Public Service and Governance in the National Unity Government of 2016-2017.

Chayed, too, has started another obvious fight against corruption, which is his sworn enemy.

He is another candidate opposing “Ennahda’s secret apparatus”, which indeed exists.

 He is particular interested in resolving the situation in Libya.

 Hence the divisions and fragmentation of the Tunisian political landscape are the a posteriori explanation of the 2011 rebellions.

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Turkey and the time bomb in Syria

Mohammad Ghaderi

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The Turkish attack on northern Syria has provided conditions for ISIS militants held in camps in the region to escape and revitalize themselves.

Turkey launched “Operation Peace Spring” on Wednesday October 9, claiming to end the presence of terrorists near its borders in northern Syria. Some countries condemned this illegal action of violation of the Syrian sovereignty.

The military attack has exacerbated the Syrian people’s living condition who live in these areas. On the other hand, it has also allowed ISIS forces to escape and prepare themselves to resume their actions in Syria. Before Turkish incursion into northern Syria, There were many warnings that the incursion would prepare the ground for ISIS resurgence. But ignoring the warning, Turkey launched its military attacks.

Currently, about 11,000 ISIS prisoners are held in Syria. ISIS has claimed the responsibility for two attacks on Qamishli and Hasakah since the beginning of Turkish attacks.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump said that Turkey and the Kurds must stop ISIS prisoners from fleeing. He urged European countries to take back their citizens who have joined ISIS.

It should be noted that the U.S. is trying to prove that ISIS has become stronger since the U.S. troops pulled out before the Turkish invasion, and to show that Syria is not able to manage the situation. But this fact cannot be ignored that ISIS militants’ escape and revival were an important consequence of the Turkish attack.

Turkish troops has approached an important city in the northeast and clashed with Syrian forces. These events provided the chance for hundreds of ISIS members to escape from a camp in Ayn Issa near a U.S.-led coalition base.

 The camp is located 35 kilometers on the south of Syria-Turkey border, and about 12,000 ISIS members, including children and women, are settled there. The Kurdish forces are said to be in charge of controlling these prisoners.

Media reports about the ISIS resurgence in Raqqa, the former ISIS stronghold, cannot be ignored, as dozens of terrorists have shot Kurdish police forces in this city. The terrorists aimed to occupy the headquarters of the Kurdish-Syrian security forces in the center of Raqqa.  One of the eyewitnesses said the attack was coordinated, organized and carried out by several suicide bombers, but failed.

In response to Turkey’s invasion of Syria, the Kurds have repeatedly warned that the attack will lead to release of ISIS elements in the region. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyib Erdogan denied the reports about the escape of ISIS prisoners and called them “lies”.

European officials fear that ISIS prisoners with European nationality, who have fled camps, will come back to their countries.

Kurdish forces are making any effort to confront Turkish troops in border areas, so their presence and patrol in Raqqa have been reduced.

Interestingly, the Turkish military bombarded one of temporary prisons and caused ISIS prisoners escaping. It seems that ISIS-affiliated covert groups have started their activities to seize the control of Raqqa. These groups are seeking to rebuild their so-called caliphate, as Kurdish and Syrian forces are fighting to counter the invading Turkish troops. Families affiliated with ISIS are held in Al-Hol camp, under the control of Kurdish forces. At the current situation, the camp has turned into a time bomb that could explode at any moment. Under normal circumstances, there have been several conflicts between ISIS families in the camp, but the current situation is far worse than before.

There are more than 3,000 ISIS families in the camp and their women are calling for establishment of the ISIS caliphate. Some of SDF forces have abandoned their positions, and decreased their watch on the camp.

The danger of the return of ISIS elements is so serious, since they are so pleased with the Turkish attack and consider it as an opportunity to regain their power. There are pictures of ISIS wives in a camp in northern Syria, under watch of Kurdish militias, showing how happy they are about the Turkish invasion.

In any case, the Turkish attack, in addition to all the military, political and human consequences, holds Ankara responsible for the escape of ISIS militants and preparing the ground for their resurgence.

Currently, the camps holding ISIS and their families are like time bombs that will explode if they all escape. Covert groups affiliated with the terrorist organization are seeking to revive the ISIS caliphate and take further actions if the Turkish attacks continue. These attacks have created new conflicts in Syria and undermined Kurdish and Syrian power to fight ISIS.

From our partner Tehran Times

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The Turkish Gambit

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

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The only certainty in war is its intrinsic uncertainty, something Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could soon chance upon.  One only has to look back on America’s topsy-turvy fortunes in Iraq, Afghanistan and even Syria for confirmation.

The Turkish invasion of northeastern Syria has as its defined objective a buffer zone between the Kurds in Turkey and in Syria.  Mr. Erdogan hopes, to populate it with some of the 3 million plus Syrian refugees in Turkey, many of these in limbo in border camps.  The refugees are Arab; the Kurds are not.

Kurds speak a language different from Arabic but akin to Persian.  After the First World War, when the victors parceled up the Arab areas of the Ottoman Empire, Syria came to be controlled by the French, Iraq by the British, and the Kurdish area was divided into parts in Turkey, Syria and Iraq, not forgetting the borderlands in Iran — a brutal division by a colonial scalpel severing communities, friends and families.  About the latter, I have some experience, having lived through the bloody partition of India into two, and now three countries that cost a million lives.   

How Mr. Erdogan will persuade the Arab Syrian refugees to live in an enclave, surrounded by hostile Kurds, some ethnically cleansed from the very same place, remains an open question.  Will the Turkish army occupy this zone permanently?  For, we can imagine what the Kurds will do if the Turkish forces leave.

There is another aspect of modern conflict that has made conquest no longer such a desirable proposition — the guerrilla fighter.  Lightly armed and a master of asymmetric warfare, he destabilizes. 

Modern weapons provide small bands of men the capacity and capability to down helicopters, cripple tanks, lay IEDs, place car bombs in cities and generally disrupt any orderly functioning of a state, tying down large forces at huge expense with little chance of long term stability.  If the US has failed repeatedly in its efforts to bend countries to its will, one has to wonder if Erdogan has thought this one through.

The Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 is another case in point.  Forever synonymous with the infamous butchery at Sabra and Shatila by the Phalange militia facilitated by Israeli forces, it is easy to forget a major and important Israeli goal:  access to the waters of the Litani River which implied a zone of occupation for the area south of it up to the Israeli border.

Southern Lebanon is predominantly Shia and at the time of the Israeli invasion they were a placid group who were dominated by Christians and Sunni, even Palestinians ejected from Israel but now armed and finding refuge in Lebanon.  It was when the Israelis looked like they were going to stay that the Shia awoke.  It took a while but soon their guerrillas were harassing Israeli troops and drawing blood.  The game was no longer worth the candle and Israel, licking its wounds, began to withdraw ending up eventually behind their own border.

A colossal footnote is the resurgent Shia confidence, the buildup into Hezbollah and new political power.  The Hezbollah prepared well for another Israeli invasion to settle old scores and teach them a lesson.  So they were ready, and shocked the Israelis in 2006.  Now they are feared by Israeli troops.   

To return to the present, it is not entirely clear as to what transpired in the telephone call between Erdogan and Trump.  Various sources confirm Trump has bluffed Erdogan in the past.  It is not unlikely then for Trump to have said this time, “We’re leaving.  If you go in, you will have to police the area.  Don’t ask us to help you.”  Is that subject to misinterpretation?  It certainly is a reminder of the inadvertent green light to Saddam Hussein for the invasion of Kuwait when Bush Senior was in office. 

For the time being Erdogan is holding fast and Trump has signed an executive order imposing sanctions on Turkish officials and institutions.  Three Turkish ministers and the Defense and Energy ministries are included.  Trump has also demanded an immediate ceasefire.  On the economic front, he has raised tariffs on steel back to 50 percent as it used to be before last May.  Trade negotiations on a $100 billion trade deal with Turkey have also been halted forthwith.  The order also includes the holding of property of those sanctioned, as well as barring entry to the U.S.

Meanwhile, the misery begins all over again as thousands flee the invasion area carrying what they can.  Where are they headed?  Anywhere where artillery shells do not rain down and the sound of airplanes does not mean bombs.

Such are the exigencies of war and often its surprising consequences. 

Author’s Note:  This piece appeared originally on Counterpunch.org

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