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US-Turkish visa spat: A fight for basic freedoms

Dr. James M. Dorsey

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Moves by the United States and Turkey that largely ban travel of their nationals between the two countries is about more than two long-standing NATO allies having a spat amid shifting alliances in a volatile part of the world. It is a fight between two leaders, US President Donald J. Trump and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, confronted with the limitations and fallout of their shared desire to redefine or restrict basic freedoms.

The spat erupted when the US embassy in Ankara announced this weekend that it was suspending the issuance of non-immigrant visas as part of a reassessment of the “commitment of the government of Turkey to the security of U.S. mission facilities and personnel.” The embassy stopped short of banning travel by all visa holders.

Hours later, the Turkish Embassy in Washington went a step further by declaring that it had suspended all visa operations for US citizens, effectively banning all US passport holders from travelling to the country. “This measure will apply to sticker visas as well as e-Visas and border visas,” the embassy said. Turkey’s currency plunged in the wake of the announcement in early morning trading on Asian markets.

The spat is the latest escalation of tensions in a relationship that has been fraying for several years  as a result of increasingly authoritarian policies adopted by Mr. Erdogan, differences over the conflict in Syria, US cooperation with Syrian Kurds, the separate indictments in the United States of an Turkish-Iranian businessman on charges of busting sanctions on Iran and 15 Turkish security guards for involvement in a street brawl, and Turkish allegations of US interference in its domestic affairs.

The latest spat highlights the risks of Mr. Trump’s empathy for authoritarian and autocratic leaders that contrasts starkly with a stress on basic freedoms and the rule of law adopted by his predecessors. Mr. Trump last month described relations with Turkey as “the closest we’ve ever been.”

The spat amounts to the White House getting a taste of its own medicine of ignoring abuse of human rights by some of its closest allies. As a result, US nationals and government employees have become the victims of seemingly arbitrary crackdowns for political rather than national security reasons that violate basic freedoms and make a mockery of the rule of law.

The spat erupted after Turkey indicted in the last year two Turkish nationals working at US diplomatic missions in the country and detained at least a dozen other US nationals, including a Christian missionary, on charges of having ties to Fethullah Gulen, an aging Turkish preacher who has lived in exile in Pennsylvania for the past two decades.

Mr. Erdogan blames Mr. Gulen, the leader of one of the world’s richest Islamic movements and most far-flung education systems, for having last year engineered a failed military attempt to remove him from office. Some 250 people died in the attempt in which dissident Turkish tank commanders fired at the Turkish parliament building in Ankara.

The indictment of the Turkish nationals and arrests of Americans were part of a massive crackdown on government critics that involved the firing up to 150,000 public servants, arrest of tens of thousands, curbing of press freedoms and granting the president wide-ranging powers. Mr. Erdogan has repeatedly justified the crackdown as a legitimate response to the failed coup.

The targeting of Turkish nationals employed by the US government appeared to be a crude attempt to persuade the Trump administration to extradite Mr. Gulen, who has denied having any association with the attempted coup.

The administrations of both Mr Trump and President Barack Obama have rejected Turkish extradition requests because Turkey had provided insufficient evidence to substantiate it’s claim that the preacher was responsible for the failed coup.

Mr. Erdogan also wants the release of Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian businessman with ties to Turkey’s ruling elite, who was arrested in Miami last year for helping Iran evade sanctions.

Mr. Erdogan last month suggested that he would be willing to swap Andrew Brunson, the detained missionary who ran a small Protestant church in the coastal city of İzmir, for Mr. Gulen. “‘Give us the pastor back,’ they say. You have one pastor (Gulen) as well. Give him to us. Then we will try (Mr. Brunson) and give him to you,” Mr. Erdogan said.

The spat constitutes a serious deterioration of US Turkish relations at a time that Turkish-backed rebels are battling Islamic militants in Syria’s Idlib province. The fighting aims to drive back Al-Qaeda-linked forces and prevent the emergence of a Syrian Kurdish entity on Turkey’s border in the wake of a recent Iraqi Kurdish vote for independence. It also comes as Turkey has forged closer ties with Iran to confront Kurdish moves and has stepped up co-operation with Russia in Syria.

Turkey is not the only country to detain US nationals or green card holders. Ola Al-Qaradawi, a 55-year-old research assistant and daughter of controversial Qatar-based religious scholar Yousef al-Qaradawi who has a green card, and her husband, Hossam Khalaf, have been held in solitary confinement since last year. Their only crime appears to be that she is related to a spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The United States has no consular obligations but Congressman Adam Smith, the top Democrat on the powerful House Armed Services Committee, has taken up their case.

Egyptian general-turned-president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, who came to power in a military coup in 2013 that toppled the country’s first and only democratically elected president, has gone much further than Mr. Erdogan in brutally cracking down on opponents and freedoms.

In a rare break with apparent US neglect of abuse of human rights among its allies, Mr. Trump has cut military aid to Egypt, citing legal restrictions imposed on non-governmental organizations. The real reason was more likely Egypt’s relations with North Korea.

The Trump administration has suggested that it would review its aid decision if Egypt breaks off diplomatic relations with North Korea. Acting on US intelligence, Egyptian authorities seized in August a boatload of $23 million worth of rocket-propelled grenades shipped from North Korea and destined for Egypt. Egypt has denied that it was the intended end-user.

To be fair, the repressive policies of Messrs. Erdogan and Al-Sisi as well as Mr. Trump’s attitudes towards authoritarianism and autocracy and his efforts to redefine basic freedoms in the United States enjoy the support of segments of their populations.

As a result, the plight of US nationals and government employees in Turkey is unlikely to persuade Mr Trump to return to the more assertive advocacy of basic rights and the rule of law of his predecessors. It does, however, demonstrate that tacit endorsement of authoritarian or autocratic rule is not without risk for US citizens as well as foreign nationals employed by the US government.

Moreover, it suggests that lack of respect for human rights and the rule of law constitutes a slippery slope that ultimately could put US national security interests at risk on a far larger scale. That has been evident since the 2011 popular Arab revolts that has heralded an era of often volatile and violent transition in the Middle East for which no end is in sight. It is a convoluted and bloody process of change that poses multiple, often unpredictable challenges, many of which are exacerbated rather than alleviated by autocratic and authoritarian rule.

Dr. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, and the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer blog, a book with the same title, Comparative Political Transitions between Southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, co-authored with Dr. Teresita Cruz-Del Rosario and three forthcoming books, Shifting Sands, Essays on Sports and Politics in the Middle East and North Africaas well as Creating Frankenstein: The Saudi Export of Ultra-conservatism and China and the Middle East: Venturing into the Maelstrom.

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Floods, Fires, Coups and Impeachment Make a Busy Week

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

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Venice is flooded.  The water is hip high in St. Mark’s Square threatening the church and the expensive shops and restaurants on its perimeter.  The mayor blames climate change.

In Australia, the bush fire season is underway.  One in New South Wales is scorchingly close to nearby homes having already destroyed two buildings on a country property owned by the actor Russell Crowe.

Floods, too, in the north of England, while Boris the chameleon has a comfortable 10-point lead in the polls over his labor opposite number, Corbyn the plonker.  No matter how outrageous or inept, Boris might be, the plonker makes nary a dent on that voluminous target.  So much for the left in Britain as it awaits another drubbing at the polls.

Then in Bolivia, Evo Morales has fled to Mexico claiming his life was at risk.  If he clearly looks Bolivian Indian, his successor, the leader of the senate, Jeanine Anez is just as clearly white.  As in South America elsewhere, the white Spanish elite are at the top of the food chain, followed by the mixed mestizos and at the bottom the indigenous people.  The exceptions are Argentina where the original inhabitants were massacred out of existence, and Chile which is German immigrants from long ago.

Trump welcomed the coup in Bolivia — was there covert support?  If Morales won plaudits for fighting poverty and as the country’s first indigenous leader, he also overstayed his welcome, at least internationally.  He defied constitutional limits by running for a fourth term in a close election which the Organization of American States faulted for “clear manipulation”.  Mr. Morales promised fresh elections.  But the elite-run military and police clearly saw an opportunity.  Morales supporters are organizing demonstrations. 

The US does not have coups; it has impeachment.  Bill Clinton notable for his expression, “It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is” … and for a new low in disgusting personal behavior, was impeached.  The procedure requires the House to determine articles of impeachment and then send a team to prosecute in the senate.  The individual being impeached has the right to his own lawyers to mount a defense.  The senate eventually retires to consider and deliver a verdict.  A two-thirds majority is required for conviction.  Bill Clinton survived despite his impeachment being based on facts unearthed by Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr.  Can anyone then imagine a Republican senate convicting Donald Trump over a sentence in a phone call?

So what is the purpose of this futile exercise in the House of Representatives?  Perhaps Democrats hope to sling enough mud to sway the independent note in the forthcoming election.  Perhaps they want a few moments in the limelight, and TV interviews before, during and after.

A fraught world with real climate issues the legislators prefer to ignore — after all they are well-funded by fossil fuel interests.  Forget the actual storms, our elected representatives prefer storms in a tea cup.  The House Intelligence Committee, which is holding the hearings, will probably forward the matter to the full house as the political games continue. 

Meanwhile, record numbers of homeless sleep under bridges as temperatures plunge to -15C (5 F)  in the midwest and the east of this wealthy country.  Do the politicians care?

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Another Sign of Turkey Turning Away from U.S.

Eric Zuesse

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On November 6th, Ibrahim Karagül, who is an extremely influential Turkish media baron and newspaper columnist, and is considered to be a mouthpiece for Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s boldest positions in international relations, virtually declared war against the U.S. and its main allies in the Middle East, and called them promoters of terrorism.

In 2014, Karagul was himself described in the Al-Monitor online newspaper that’s published in Washington DC, as being the “editor-in-chief of the daily Yeni Safak, which is considered one of the most dedicated mouthpieces of the government.” That’s the view, at least, of America’s allies, Saudi Arabia and UAE, two countries that have been working with the U.S. to conquer Yemen, and that are intimately connected to the U.S. Government in the formulation of all U.S. policies regarding the Middle East. The leaders of both of those two countries were described in Karagul’s November 6th article as being masterminds of terrorism. And Karagul, as his newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief, actually is Yeni Safak. His opinions in the columns he writes for the newspaper are, in effect, the newspaper’s editorials. Those opinions can fairly be taken to represent the opinions that Erdogan wants to become the opinions of the Turkish population, even if (for reasons of international diplomacy) he won’t overtly express these views himself. (After all, Yeni Safak expresses them; he doesn’t.)

Karagul said there: “The global black market for terrorism: Who requests these tenders? The EU establishes a terrorist organization, but the US and Israel are its true masters. UAE’s MBZ and Saudi Arabia’s MBS, the two crown princes who are ‘brokers of terror’.” Basically, Karagul’s allegation in this article is that Washington and its closest allies (Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of UAE, and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia) are behind terrorism — especially behind Islamic terrorism.

However, Karagul went even farther, to implicate most especially Hamas leader, Mohammed Dahlan. Karagul’s article opened: “A warning to Turkey: Hostility towards our country has a new home. There is now a fourth terrorist organization after FETÖ, PKK and Daesh. Two princes. Two ‘terror barons.’ Two relentless enemies of Turkey… The first intervention in our country will be conducted through this gang. Mohammed Dahlan should be declared as a ringleader of a terrorist group; there should be a bounty on his head.”

He went on:

Turkey, which has been battling the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) and Daesh on the field, and their bosses at the diplomacy table, is going to be propelled into a zealous and urgent fight against a new and much more lethal terrorist organization.

The PKK, FETÖ and Daesh were the U.S., Israel and Europe’s project. But this new structuring is the terror group of Egyptian intelligence, the UAE’s Mohammed bin Zayed and Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman.

New terrorist organization is under Mohammed Dahlan’s control

This new terrorist organization is under the control of Mohammed Dahlan, the man of dirty business, the hitman of the Middle East, who was involved in almost all the terror activities in our region. Despite having been able to project the façade that they are “fighting Iran,” their sole target is Turkey.

Turkey must include this terrorist organization among the PKK, FETÖ and Daesh. This is an organization involved in every operation against Turkey, ranging from internal policy and coup attempts to money laundering, to supporting FETÖ and the PKK – and even cooperating with them – from financing Daesh, to the terror corridor and chaos in Libya and the East Mediterranean.

Erdogan had clearly gone all-out in exposing the role of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman behind the murder and alleged chopping-up of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, but the animus seems now to run more broadly than that. And Karagul is going after U.S. President Donald Trump’s biggest supporters in the Middle East, other than Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu.

On 24 April 2003, CNN headlined “Palestinian Security Ace: Muhammad Yusuf Dahlan” and opened: 

During seven years as a security chief in the Gaza Strip, Muhammad Yusuf Dahlan arrested, and also released, many leading Palestinian militants. Along this tricky path, he skillfully cultivated influential supporters who urged his promotion.

Today, despite fierce opposition by the Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, Mr. Dahlan, 41, was named to an even more influential security post, with the blessing of the United States, Israel, Egypt and other countries, as well as the incoming Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas.

Clearly, that slant was favorable toward Dahlan, and fit into Karagul’s allegation that Dahlan is a secret U.S.-and-allied agent. CNN is just as much a mouthpiece for the U.S. Government as Yeni Safak is for the Turkish Government. For any of America’s mainstream ‘news’-media, and even for the vast majority of its ‘alternative news’ media, everything that is published is acceptable either to the Democratic Party or to the Republican Party, or to both — it’s acceptable, in other words, to the U.S. Government. This is the case in the United States, just as it is in Turkey. The range of acceptable expression might be a bit narrower in one country than it is in the other, but what CNN said in that article was just as mainstream as is this article by Karagul. 

Here is more of what Karagul said about Dahlan:

If open war has been declared against the anti-Turkey terrorist organizations founded by the U.S., Israel and Europe, it should also be the case for this organization and its activities.

Mohammed Dahlan, who is leading the organization and intelligence network, should be declared as ringleader and, as is the case with the PKK and other terrorist organizations, a bounty should be put on his head if necessary, and the region and world should be warned against this threat.

Dahlan should be held responsible for his covert and dirty actions, including involvement in coups and an assassination attempt on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

A terror group hiding in UAE, Saudi palaces

This man and his gang — controlled by UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — who [Dahlan] is, as a matter of fact, working for Israeli intelligence, should be identified as the most effective terrorist organization whose influence transcends the region.

Because he is protected in the palaces of some of the region’s countries, hiding within the system, using all the opportunities provided by these states and carrying out terrorist activities.

He was also involved in the July 15 [2016] coup attempt in Turkey. He established a partnership with FETÖ, held coup meetings with this organization in Dubai, and provided them with financial support. Of course, he did all this under the protection of his bosses: Israel, bin Zayed and bin Salman.

They were also the ones who killed Arafat

Dahlan’s murders extend all the way to Yasser Arafat’s poisoning. This assassination was organized in cooperation with Israeli and Egyptian intelligence, and Dahlan is at the center. Israeli intelligence and Dahlan’s men had managed to infiltrate the home of Arafat, whose personal bodyguards were shot in the head execution style.

When Hamas took over administration in Gaza, Dahlan’s intelligence center was raided, and the horrifying truth were revealed. Israel’s intense attacks on Gaza back then were conducted with support from Dahlan and Egyptian intelligence.

What is the most important thing here isn’t whether Karagul’s account is accurate or true, but the very fact that it is being published by him. 

NATO is being pulled at the seams, and might not be able to hold together.

Further of significance is that Karagul equally boldly expresses a position about U.S. domestic politics, and he sides strongly with Trump against the Democratic Party, whose President Barak Obama is viewed by Erdogan as having been behind the 15 July 2016 coup-attempt to overthrow Erdogan.

When interpreting the reliability of Karagul’s statements, it is especially important to recognize that Erdogan has, until now, supported both Al Qaeda and ISIS, as has been extensively documented in the few alternative news-media that are not controlled by America’s Deep State. In fact, on 18 March 2019, Homeland Security Today, which was founded in 2004 by corporate suppliers to the homeland-security industries, headlined “The ISIS Ambassador to Turkey”, and interviewed in Baghdad a key ISIS official who described how he had helped bring tens of thousands of jihadists from around the world to join the war in Syria in order to overthrow Bashar al-Assad, and how he had set up the system to approve each one coming in there, through Turkey. According to his account, Turkish intelligence was fully cooperative. Here’s an excerpt:

“My job was to direct operatives to receive the foreign fighters in Turkey,” Abu Mansour explains, referring to the network of ISIS-paid people who facilitated foreign fighter travel from Istanbul to the Turkish border towns of Gaziantep, Antakya, Sanliurfa, etc. “Most of them were paid by Dawlah [ISIS],” Abu Mansour explains, but differentiates them from ISIS members, due to their non-ideological motivations. “Most of those working on the Turkish side, their goal is money,” he said. Although when asked about ISIS networks inside Turkey, he also admits, “Many in Turkey believe and give their bayat [oath of allegiance] to Dawlah. There are ISIS guys living in Turkey, individuals and groups, but no armed groups inside Turkey.”

In addressing the foreign fighters, Abu Mansour explains: “[They came from] different places, from North Africa mostly. The numbers of Europeans was not a big number, 4,000 total.”

“Tunis 13,000, 4,000 from Morocco. There were less fighters from Libya because they had a front there [in Libya], fighting less than 1,000. I’m just talking about up to 2015,” he adds. Not surprisingly, his figures confirm data collected on the origins and numbers of foreign fighters who joined ISIS – that the most came from Tunisia. It was interesting how he can rattle off the numbers.

“So, you were more than a simple clerk working in the ISIS reception center registering new recruits?” I ask, suspecting he was much more important than that, given his grip on ISIS statistics.

“[My job was] guarding the borders between Syria and Turkey and to receive the fighters,” Abu Mansour explains, smiling at being recognized as more powerful than he was originally conveying. “I oversaw reception at Tal Abyad, Aleppo, Idlib, all their borders,” he answers.

It’s clear he was in charge, so I ask him, “So, you were an ISIS emir?”

“Yes,” he admits, seemingly happy to be “caught out” and recognized for who he really was. “At the beginning I was registering people, then I became the supervisor. I was the emir.”

It is acceptable for that magazine, which is addressing American security professionals, to publish this after the 15 July 2016 coup-attempt, because Turkey now is drifting away from the American orbit; but, prior to that time, such an article would have been difficult if not impossible to publish in any ‘respectable’ American ‘news’ medium.

Erdogan definitely is against Kurdish separatists who threaten (with CIA support) to break off a chunk of Turkey and form a Kurdish nation (perhaps to include chunks also from Syria, Iraq, and Iran). However, there seems to be little, if any, evidence that he opposes jihadists. This is what everyone currently is wondering about: will he turn decisively against the jihadists, now that he is distancing Turkey from the U.S. group. But that’s not really the main question here, regarding Karagul’s article. The main question is whether NATO will continue to support jihadists when the jihadists are fighting to overthrown a head-of-state, such as the secular Assad, whom they want to overthrow and replace. Erdogan is no longer fully on the U.S. side about regime-change in Syria. However, the American public continue, just as before, to support these regime-change invasions. Tulsi Gabbard refers to these invasions as “regime-change wars,” and she opposes it, but only 2% of polled Democrats, thus far, support her candidacy in the Democratic Party’s Presidential primaries, and none of the other candidates is campaigning on this “bring-the-troops-home” theme — it separates her from all the others, and Democratic Party voters apparently oppose her strongly on it. One may then reasonably infer that at least in the Democratic Party, a continuation of those wars (which started in 2003 with Iraq, but then went to Libya, and then to Syria) is being demanded by almost all of the voters. So: if Turkey will split from NATO, then it won’t be due to Turkey’s support for jihadists (if it still does). It would likelier be mainly because Erdogan is striking back against Barack Obama, who had tried to overthrow him. That failed coup-attempt seems to have drastically changed Erdogan’s view. He fears the American political Party that continues to honor Obama: the Democrats. He fears that they could back yet another coup-attempt against him.

In line with that interpretation, Karagul headlined a strongly pro-Trump commentary, on November 9th, “The tables have turned! Trump says: ‘Stop the coup.’ The opposition declares: ‘Coup has started.’ Powerful leaders locked in showdown with the establishment. There’s now an ‘Erdoğan model.’ Impeachment process will fail, Trump will be reelected. Will there be an American Perestroika?” This time, he’s attacking the Democrats’ attempts to replace Donald Trump by Mike Pence to lead the United States, and not their attempts to replace Tayyip Erdogan to lead Turkey. 

This support for Trump is despite Trump’s recently having tweeted, “As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!).” Of course, the public don’t know what Trump has communicated privately to Erdogan. It might be nothing like his bellicose public pronouncements.

Trump is widely despised by the Turkish public, but Obama was despised there only 2% less than Trump is; so, whereas Erdogan might considerably prefer Trump, his public seem not to. In this matter, he is leading them, not really following them. Furthermore, by 58% to 23%, far more (more than twice as many) Turks disapprove of NATO than approve of it — and no NATO country among the 12 that were surveyed except Greece comes anywhere near that preponderance of disapproval for NATO. This marketing organization for the weapons that are made in the U.S. and its allied nations is overwhelmingly approved of in the other 10, especially in the two most anti-Russian among those 12: Poland and Netherlands.

Because of that overwhelming disapproval of NATO by the Turkish population, Erdogan would probably not need to do much convincing of them if he were to decide to kick NATO out of Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base (which contains “up to 50” huge nuclear bombs for potential use against Russia). He has bargaining chips. But if what Karagul is publishing is at all like Erdogan’s view, then Erdogan is already in the process of abandoning NATO, and switching Turkey’s alliances to Russia, China, and Iran. This, however, would also require him to reduce if not end his former support to ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other fundamentalist-Sunni groups — jihadist groups, which have always been financed overwhelmingly by the royals of Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Qatar — America’s main Arab allies. Karagul’s articles seem to indicate Erdogan is moving in that direction, too — separating Turkey from those Arab fundamentalist Sunni regimes. If so, it would be an enormous change.

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Leftists make a comeback in Latin America

Mohammad Ghaderi

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In Argentina and Uruguay, leftist candidates won the elections and Evo Morales could maintain his position as the president of Bolivia, but in Chile, people have protested against the U.S.-backed president.

The failure of the U.S.-backed candidate in the Argentinean election in recent days was a sign of the U.S. failure in Latin America. Leftist Alberto Fernandez, an opponent of U.S. interventionist policies, won about 48 percent of the vote in general election and was announced as the new president in the first round.

 This is while countries such as Venezuela and Cuba have maintained their anti-U.S. sentiment. Although the U.S. has made an unceasing effort in the last two years to overthrow the current regime in Venezuela, it has not succeeded. 

The New Left movement in Latin America, which was formed by the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chaves, has put Venezuela in many troubles but reduced U.S. influence in the region to the point that even experts suggested that Washington has lost its backyard.

The New Leftist governments emerged in Latin America in the late 20th century. Leftist leaders have distanced from some of traditional principles, but maintained the fight against American hegemony, just like their predecessors. Latin America, with rich sources of oil, gas, and uranium, as well as great opportunity for investment, has been of particular importance from a geopolitical, geostrategic and geo-economic perspective. The U.S. has put control over Latin America on its agenda since 1823 when then president James Monroe offered his plan known as the “Monroe Doctrine”.

The Monroe Doctrine emphasized that as long as the U.S. had not achieved real power and growth, it cannot be considered as an active element and main actor in world politics, thus it should obtain necessary economic growth in Western Hemisphere. The doctrine also stated that South America and Caribbean are areas with high security priority whose fate is tied to the U.S. fate, and the U.S. must have a strong influence in the region to provide its own growth and development.

In the late 20th and early present century, Latin America has witnessed new developments, including the New Left movement. The New Left in Latin America was founded and developed as leaders such as Chavez in Venezuela, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Brazil, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Rafael Correa in Ecuador, and Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua came to power.

 Opportunities and threats

The U.S. is concerned about the presence of its rivals, especially Russia and China, in Latin America and the cooperation of these two countries with leftist states in the region. To counter China and Russia’s influence, the U.S. has launched various plans to undermine leftist governments through economic crises and put its allied right-wing figures into power.

Washington’s comprehensive effort to topple the Maduro administration in Venezuela is an example. On the other hand, China and Russia’s approach to Latin America and the tendency of New Left countries to ally with Beijing and Moscow can be a major deterrent to the implementation of the U.S. plan in the region.

This is while the Trump administration is trying to redefine U.S. role and position in Latin America. From Trump’s point of view, the wrong policies of previous governments and developments have caused the U.S. to lose its control over Latin America and the Caribbean, and instead increased the influence of U.S. rivals, including China, in the region.

In an interview with Foreign Policy, following his recent visit to Colombia, Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein said that the Trump administration is making a push to strengthen alliances across Latin America as part of an effort to counter rising Chinese and Russian influence in the United States’ backyard.

Goldfein said Colombia and other Latin American countries risked being locked out of U.S. and allied operations if they stopped buying military hardware from the United States and turned to other markets instead.

China has invested heavily in the region to reach Latin America’s oil reserves. Beijing has now become the largest trading partner of some Latin American countries, including Brazil, Chile, Cuba and Uruguay.

Russia also continues to sell billions of dollars in arms to Latin American countries. Unlike China, which seeks to use Latin American natural resources for its economic growth, Russia’s interests in this region are more strategic.

From our partner Tehran Times

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