For much of modern history, Mexico defined itself in opposition to the United States. In recent years, the two countries stepped up cooperation on almost all relevant issues, and the two nations are now deeply intertwined politically, economically and culturally. This is bound to change. After months of ignoring Donald Trump’s provocations, López Obrador reacted rapidly to Trump’s shakedown and agreed to a number of resolutions of extraordinary scope and urgency: the new Mexican administration agreed to deploy the country’s federal police to its southern border to crack down on immigration; and opened the door to the controversial “Remain in Mexico” policy that would turn Mexico into a Third Safe Country in less than a month from now.
As stated in the agreement, Mexico would take in all the refugees that the US decides to send back to Mexico to await resolution of their asylum process. This could take years, given the substantial immigration backlog in American courts. The agreement goes further: Mexico is responsible for the provision of education, health care and employment for such refugees. This could easily lead to a serious humanitarian crisis that Mexican institutions will be unable to deal with.
This approach contradicts previous Mexican presidential vows for regional development and humanitarian relief rather than confrontation and enforcement. Conditions on the ground in Mexico are far harsher than the Mexican Foreign Affairs Minister, Marcelo Ebrard and the President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, would like to admit, and this is partly due to the current administration’s miscalculations: López Obrador has dramatically cut the budget for governmental agencies responsible for managing refugees and processing removals. Mexican border towns are also ill-equipped for handling transient migrant populations; and Mexico also faces other more systematic challenges, such as corruption and lack of rule of law enforcement. The new policy agreed with the American government is likely to result in a significant increase in claims filed for asylum in Mexico. Mexico’s immigration bureaucracies are utterly overwhelmed, and López Obrador’s misguided budget cuts have exacerbated their failings.
Mexico’s immigration policy is now bound by an immoral and unacceptable deal that will effectively turn Mexico into Trump’s border wall. The global system for the protection of refugees is based on the notion of shared responsibility among countries. It is very dangerous for the US to use Mexico as a pawn to set an example and ignore its international responsibility. This agreement also violates international law on refugees: Mexico is a life-threatening country for undocumented migrants. Human trafficking, recruitment for organised criminal organisations, abduction, extortion, sexual violence, and disappearances are some of the issues migrants face in Mexico. Finally, Mexico’s National Guard, the agency that will be in charge of monitoring the southern border, was created by López Obrador to tackle domestic crime. Its members have no training nor knowledge on immigration matters. It is an untested new military force that could end up creating more problems than the ones it is trying to solve. Deploying agents to the border could also have a high political cost for the president.
The agreement with Trump gives López Obrador 45 days to show progress. If Mexico fails, Mexico will be forced to set in motion some version of Safe Third Country agreement, or face further tariff bullying from the US. This deal has been sold by the new Mexican administration as a victory over the US. More migrants, less money, extreme violence and a recalcitrant, unpredictable northern neighbour are the ingredients for a potential, impending refugee crisis, not a diplomatic victory.
Could Mexico have taken a different approach? Yes. Trump’s decision to impose tariffs would exacerbate the underlying causes of immigration in the region and do nothing to address it. His bullying to force Mexico to crack down on immigration was a cheap electoral ploy to mobilise its base with a view to winning the 2020 elections. This is nothing new. Trump is not seeking a solution; he is seeking a political gain. He built his first presidential campaign on an anti-Mexico and an anti-immigrant rhetoric. It worked in 2016, and he is planning to repeat the same formula.
The Mexican administration lack of knowledge on diplomatic matters, and their inability to play politics let a golden opportunity go. Using trade to bludgeon Mexico into compliance with an immigration crack down makes no sense: Mexico is not responsible for the increase in migratory flows. Central America’s poverty and violence trace back to American policies in the 1980s. Mexico is not responsible either for America’s famously dysfunctional immigration system. Trump’s economic threats against Mexico may not even have been legal: both the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the newly agreed US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) require most trade between members to be tariff free.
Mexico could also have hit back with by levying tariffs that would have hurt swing-state voters, and in turn hurt Trump. This was the golden opportunity Mexico let slip from its hands. Mexico could have responded by hitting Trump where it hurts: Tariffs on American goods heading south. Mexico responded in a similar manner in June last year in response to the steel and aluminium tariffs. Mexico could have raised those tariffs each month in tandem with American levels.
This retaliation would have highlighted the gap between Trump’s anti-Mexican rhetoric and the underlying interdependence of the US and Mexico with stark consequences for the US presidential elections of 2020. Many of the biggest exporters to Mexico such as Arizona. Florida. California, Michigan and Illinois are swing states. New tariffs could have thrown Texas into recession and put its 38 electoral votes into play. It is all too late now, Mexico could have inadvertently helped Trump to get re-elected. Mexico has less than a month left to show some backbone and demand real American cooperation on the region’s shared challenges and rejecting Trump’s threats once and for all. The relationship between Mexico and the US could have been an example of cooperation under difficult conditions, but that would have required different American and Mexican presidents.
Floods, Fires, Coups and Impeachment Make a Busy Week
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?
Another Sign of Turkey Turning Away from U.S.
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  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.
Leftists make a comeback in Latin America
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.
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