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The US Won’t Succeed In Provoking Another Color Revolution In China

The US Won’t Succeed In Provoking Another Color Revolution In China

9 JUNE 2021

The US Won

With these impressive socio-economic and security accomplishments in mind, there’s absolutely no way that the US will ever succeed in provoking another Color Revolution in China.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken crossed a red line last week while commenting on the 32nd anniversary of the 4 June 1989 events in Beijing. For all intents and purposes, he sought to provoke another Color Revolution in China through his factually inaccurate description of what happened on that fateful day. The average Western news consumer was likely misled into believing that it was a so-called “bloodbath” of allegedly “peaceful pro-democracy activists” when in reality it was an externally encouraged and highly violent regime change attempt that was thankfully stopped through the authorities’ responsible and timely intervention.

The reasons for why that event happened in the first place are myriad but are largely connected to the manipulative information warfare campaign that foreign forces waged inside of China at the time. The global context was such that the communist countries of the then-Soviet Union’s former Warsaw Pact were experiencing unprecedented unrest of a similar fashion and provoked in a parallel way. Coupled with the activities of foreign agents operating within the People’s Republic under diplomatic and other covers such as humanitarian ones, some citizens were misled into attempting to replicate those scenarios at home.

That was a gross error of judgment on their part as they were, consciously or not, behaving as pawns of a foreign regime change plot aimed at ushering in the West’s complete dominance of International Relations in the last few years of what many now consider in hindsight to have been the Old Cold War (as compared to what quite a few compellingly describe as the ongoing New Cold War). The aftermath of that incident spurred the Communist Party of China (CPC) to prioritize securing the People’s Republic from Hybrid War threats, which in turn resulted in the promulgation of decisive policies related to regulating foreign media and organizations.

Concurrent with those security-centric policies was the CPC’s continued focus on comprehensively improving the lives of its citizenry so as to simultaneously build a modern socialist country alongside ensuring that nobody feels neglected and is thus vulnerable to falling under foreign influence. The outcome of these prudent policies is that China achieved historically unprecedented growth and is now the world’s top economy by some metrics. So successful has this forward-looking strategy been that China is now assisting its countless partners across the world in replicating its growth model via its Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) investments.

In recent years, China has also sought to pragmatically counteract foreign cultural influences that have proven themselves to have pernicious consequences for domestic security whenever they uncontrollably spread throughout other societies. The newfound focus on prioritizing China’s unique civilizational attributes and in imbuing its citizenry with associated patriotic sentiments has created a social firewall against these ever-evolving Hybrid War threats without cutting the country off from the rest of the world like some other states have done when attempting to defend themselves from the aforesaid.

With these impressive socio-economic and security accomplishments in mind, there’s absolutely no way that the US will ever succeed in provoking another Color Revolution in China. This isn’t just a boastful statement either but is proven by recent events in the Hong Kong Special Autonomous Region (SAR). America’s attempt to export its cutting-edge Color Revolution technology to that city dramatically failed and represented a major setback for its strategic plans. In fact, one can even say that it was a huge self-inflicted blow to that country’s soft power since the rest of the world now knows that its regime change attempts can be stopped.

The US can no longer wield the Damocles’ sword of Color Revolutions over the heads of sovereign states like it used to since their people are no longer as scared of these scenarios as before after China recently showed that they can be thwarted. With this Hybrid War tool of American policy increasingly becoming irrelevant and the country’s appetite for conventional military interventions declining by the day as it urgently focuses more on resolving its growing number of domestic crises, one can predict that a new era of International Relations might be inevitable whereby the world will soon become much more peaceful than at any time in recent memory.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: China, US, Color Revolution, Regime Change, Hybrid War, Blinken.


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Western Sahara Casts A Shadow Over AFRICOM’s African Lion Exercises

Western Sahara Casts A Shadow Over AFRICOM’s African Lion Exercises

7 JUNE 2021

Western Sahara Casts A Shadow Over AFRICOM

The core of historical Spanish-Moroccan tensions, which are now spilling over to affect the US’ AFRICOM exercises, is clearly the unresolved status of Western Sahara.

The United States Africa Command’s (AFRICOM) upcoming African Lion exercises from 7-18 June are embroiled in controversy as a result of the Western Sahara conflict. Recent reports indicate that Spain won’t participate in the drills like previously planned officially due to alleged budgetary reasons, but speculation about the possibly true reasons are swirling. Russia’s Sputnik cited Spain’s El Pais as claiming that Madrid pulled out in order to not legitimize Morocco’s contentious claims to the European country’s former colony of Western Sahara where some exercises will be held, while the Moscow-based outlet also referred to Maghreb Intelligence‘s report that Morocco and the US pressured Spain to do this out of opposition to its recent hosting of a separatist leader.

Brahim Ghalil, the founder of the Western Sahara’s Polisario Front and president of the partially recognized Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) left Spain earlier this week for Algeria after receiving treatment there for over a month. During his stay in his region’s former colonizer, he also appeared before the court via video in response to allegations that his movement was responsible for war crimes against dissident Sahrawis. The judge ultimately decided not to detain him owing to lack of evidence. Morocco was furious with Spain for hosting him in the first place though, and some observers interpreted the unimpeded influx of approximately 9,000 migrants into the North African Spanish town of Ceuta a few weeks back as Rabat’s asymmetrical response.

The core of historical Spanish-Moroccan tensions, which are now spilling over to affect the US’ AFRICOM exercises, is clearly the unresolved status of Western Sahara. Morocco claims the former colonial territory as its own and exercises de facto control over most of it while the Polisario Front regards this as illegitimate because relevant UNSC Resolutions on determining the disputed region’s final political status haven’t yet been fulfilled despite several decades since their promulgation. In addition, former US President Trump recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over this region late last year in a contentious policy reversal regarded as a quid pro quo for Rabat’s normalization with Israel at the time.

Although Spain’s hosting of the Polisario Front leader was described by its government as an apolitical humanitarian gesture, it was interpreted by Morocco as a hostile move implicitly extending support to him and his movement. Rabat is concerned about Madrid’s post-colonial influence in Western Sahara, while Spain’s stance seems to be that it’s not actually meddling but is simply reminding Morocco about international law. While the real reasons why Spain pulled out of the African Lion exercises are presently unclear, provided of course that its official explanation wasn’t fully forthcoming, it’s evidently the case that this unresolved conflict is now affecting the US’ African policy.

The US clearly supports Morocco’s claims of sovereignty to Western Sahara despite the issue remaining unsettled in accordance with the relevant UNSC Resolutions, with Washington regarding Rabat as much more important of an African partner than Madrid if push came to shove. This isn’t just due to the fact that Morocco is entirely located in Africa and in a geostrategic corner of it at that unlike Spain which only has a two small exclaves along the continent’s northern coast, but might also be motivated by economic reasons considering the fact that copious phosphate reserves are thought to lie underneath Western Sahara’s soil. In fact, The Atlantic even wrote in 2016 that this disputed region has the world’s second-largest reserves of this resource.

This little-reported fact adds a new strategic dimension to the conflict, making one wonder whether the relevant players – which include not just Morocco and Spain, but also neighboring Algeria which backs the Polisario Front – are more interested in phosphate than territorial sovereignty and international law like they’ve claimed. It also makes one wonder whether the US recognized Morocco’s control over Western Sahara in order to exploit the economic opportunities under its soil. Observers also shouldn’t forget Spain’s speculation that Morocco recently weaponized the large-scale migrant influx to Ceuta by passively facilitating it at the very least, which if true would raise serious questions about Rabat’s ethics.

Altogether, it’s clear that the unresolved Western Sahara conflict is reshaping the US’ contemporary approach to Africa. In Washington’s mind, its unilateral recognition of Rabat’s sovereignty over the disputed territory settles the matter, though Madrid, Algiers, and others still regard it as an open issue. The deteriorating relations between Spain and Morocco over the former’s hosting of the Polisario Front’s leader for medical treatment and subsequent refusal to detain him in response to war crimes accusations will likely impede cooperation not only on a bilateral basis but also a multilateral one in the AFRICOM context. This could result in a worsening security situation with respect to terrorism and migration, thereby putting Europe at greater risk of these threats.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: Western Sahara, Spain, Morocco, US, AFRICOM.


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The BRI-backed Afghan-Pakistan rapprochement is reshaping the region

ARTICLE FROM:

tribune.com

The BRI-backed Afghan-Pakistan rapprochement is reshaping the region

Afghanistan is seemingly no longer all that interested in Iran’s Indian-controlled port of Chabahar

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani welcomes the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan. 

The geopolitics of the Eurasian Heartland are gradually being reshaped by the BRI-backed Afghan-Pakistani rapprochement. Ties between these neighbouring nations have always been complicated for historical reasons, but Kabul appears ready to behave more pragmatically as it seeks to chart a new era of relations with Islamabad in the wake of the US’ impending withdrawal from the country by September 11th. Their Foreign Ministers joined China’s last week in their fourth trilateral meeting that was held online this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The joint statement that resulted from their talks emphasised Afghanistan’s enhanced regional connectivity through its use of CPEC’s terminal port of Gwadar.

This speaks to the landlocked country’s desire to become land-linked via the Belt & Road Initiative’s (BRI) flagship project, which in turn is responsible for Afghanistan’s pragmatic policy recalibration towards Pakistan. In other words, BRI isn’t just connecting economies, but governments, as each of its participating states has a mutual interest in repairing whatever strained relations they may have with one another in order to mutually benefit from this global series of megaprojects. Moreover, Afghanistan’s increased reliance on CPEC proves the viability of the N-CPEC+ proposal for expanding this corridor further northwards deeper into Central Asia through the trilateral railway that’s planned between them and Uzbekistan (PAKAFUZ).

Another pertinent observation is that Afghanistan is seemingly no longer all that interested in Iran’s Indian-controlled port of Chabahar that New Delhi had initially envisioned functioning as that country’s corridor to the sea. Kabul will likely use it to some extent, but it’s unrealistic to expect it to trade more across that corridor than across N-CPEC+, especially once the PAKAFUZ railway is completed. This throws a wrench in India’s regional engagement plans, but it might be for the better since New Delhi could prospectively seek to retain stable relations with Islamabad so as to more reliably access Afghanistan via their mutual neighbour. That’s actually what Pakistani officials suggested in March when they unveiled their country’s new grand strategy.

The best-case scenario of improved Indian-Pakistani ties is probably still a ways off considering their unresolved dispute over Kashmir’s final political status and Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent statement that such normalisation of relations is impossible until New Delhi restores the region’s autonomy. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that pragmatic bilateral and multilateral (i.e. including Afghanistan) economic engagement can’t occur, but it’ll still require considerable political will from all players in order to succeeded. In addition, India might feel uncomfortable trading with Afghanistan across a corridor that’s referred to as N-CPEC+, hence the possible need to rebrand it as something more neutral such as the “Central Eurasian Corridor” (CEC).

Semantics aside, it’s unclear whether that scenario will come to pass in the coming future considering the political complexities involved, but it’s much more obvious that India will definitely have to recalibrate its regional approach to Central Asia in light of Afghanistan’s increased cooperation with CPEC at Chabahar’s perceived expense. That Iranian port was also supposed to function as a key node in the North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) that’s envisioned as stretching all the way north to Russia, but the project has been mostly stillborn since India voluntarily decided to comply with the US’ unilateral sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Should they be lifted as part of a revised nuclear deal, then the project might finally be revived.

Even in that event, however, India and its pertinent partners would have still lost a lot of time since Afghanistan’s incorporation into CPEC is irreversible. The NSTC will therefore likely fail to meet the lofty expectations that were originally held of it, especially with respect to serving as India’s entry point to Central Asia. That’s not to say that the project will be a complete failure since it’ll probably still be used in some capacity or another, but just that India might either have to abandon its hopes of “balancing” China in this geostrategic space via the NSTC or seriously explore a rapprochement with Pakistan in order to guarantee reliable access to Central Asia. Neither policy option is what India initially envisioned doing.

Regardless of whatever course of action it ultimately decides upon, it’s clear that the BRI-backed Afghan-Pakistani rapprochement is reshaping regional geopolitics by mitigating Indian influence in Central Asia. India might even accept that it’ll probably be unable to become a mainland Eurasian power like it wanted and instead focus more on what it describes as the Indo-Pacific in order to become a maritime one. That might arguably be more of a pragmatic policy since it’s practically impossible for India to make up its lost ground in Central Asia after what just recently happened even if it doesn’t abandon this part of the world outright. Concentrating more on East Africa, Southeast Asia, and Russia’s Arctic & Far Eastern regions might be a better choice.

With India potentially bowing out of the Great Power competition in Central Asia, the only realistic extra-regional “balancing” partner left for those five countries is Turkey, which is making strides in the region through its “Middle Corridor”. Ankara’s relations with the Russian-Chinese duopoly jointly managing Central Asian affairs at the moment are somewhat complicated though the West Asian country has recently behaved much more pragmatically with both of them than in time’s past despite concerns over Turkish drone sales to the Polish-led anti-Russian “Lublin Triangle” and Turkey’s interest in China’s Uyghur minority. Nevertheless, it’s unlikely that Turkey would try to disrupt the state of affairs in Central Asia since it benefits from stability there.

The end result of the BRI-backed Afghan-Pakistani rapprochement is that Turkey might soon become a more serious extra-regional player in Central Asia than India since the latter seems to have lost out on its opportunity for comprehensive regional engagement via Chabahar. The South Asian state might also be encouraged by these dynamics to seriously consider a meaningful rapprochement with Pakistan which would in that case require some tough compromises on Kashmir. The broader region’s geopolitics are therefore being reshaped, though it’s not yet clear what the outcome will be. In any case, the observable trend is a positive one which will contribute to Eurasian stability if it remains in effect as is expected.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

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China’s Promise Of Full Support To Syria Might Be A Geopolitical Game-Changer

China’s Promise Of Full Support To Syria Might Be A Geopolitical Game-Changer

4 JUNE 2021

China

President Xi’s telegrammed promise of full support to Syria after its latest elections could be a geopolitical game-changer if his rhetoric presages a new reality wherein the People’s Republic assists its Arab counterpart with perfecting its tricky balancing act between various powers.

Syria’s Balancing Act

Syria’s been mired in a geopolitical dilemma for quite a few years already whereby it’s been pressured by friendly and hostile powers alike to implement political reforms so as to advance its struggling peace process. This has taken the from of both of the Russian-written “draft constitution” of 2017 which was a much more gentle form of such pressure aimed at encouraging mutual compromises between all legitimate sides of the conflict as well as America’s much more aggressive efforts to force Damascus into unilateral political concessions. Caught between these two rival parties that are in essence pushing for very similar structural outcomes, Syria cleverly deflected by comprehensively strengthening its relations with Iran so as to improve its strategic position and thus buy it more time until a possible breakthrough can occur.

Iranian Risks

The Iranian vector of Syrian grand strategy isn’t without its challenges though since Russia and the US would both prefer for the Islamic Republic’s military forces to leave the Arab one, albeit for different reasons, despite them being invited to legally operate there by Damascus. Russia envisions a prospectively dignified but phased Iranian withdrawal as providing the impetus for a larger series of diplomatic deals aimed at securing a long-term peace in West Asia whereas the US is always simply against the expansion of Iran’s regional influence in principle. Both Great Powers are also allied with “Israel” to differing extents, which regards the Iranian military presence in neighboring Syria as a serious threat to its national security. Nevertheless, Syria remained loyal to Iran and refused to request its departure despite literally hundreds of “Israeli” bombings over they ears.

Background Reading

The background context is much more complex than described above, but intrepid readers can review the author’s prior analyses on these complicated dynamics if they’re interested in learning more about the particular details and dynamics:

* 3 February 2017: “Syria: Digging Into The Details Of The Russian-Written ‘Draft Constitution’

* 22 August 2018: “Chaos Theory, Hybrid War, And The Future Of Syria

* 3 February 2021: “Korybko Interview With Iran’s Farhikhtegan Newspaper

* 7 February 2021: “Syria Should Talk With The US Since Its Iranian & Russian Allies Are Already Doing So

* 8 February 2021: “Balancing Regional Interests In Syria Is The Only Way To Reach A Compromise Solution

* 26 February 2021: “Why Isn’t Alt-Media Asking About The S-300s After Biden’s Latest Strike In Syria?

* 17 March 2021: “Should Iran Be Worried About Russia’s Coordination With ‘Israel’ & The US In Syria?

* 25 May 2021: “The Strategic Significance Of The Syrian Elections

To sum it all up, Syria basically seemed destined to inevitably implement some form of political concessions aimed at decentralization together with requesting Iran’s dignified but phased withdrawal of the country in order to stand any serious chance at removing the US’ unilateral sanctions and thus finally rebuilding.

The Chinese Game-Changer

All the above-mentioned insight was relevant for years but might soon become outdated depending upon whether China’s latest rhetoric presages a new reality. President Xi promised in the telegram that he sent to his Syrian counterpart after the latter’s latest elections that the People’s Republic “will provide all possible assistance…in revitalizing the country’s economy and improving the lives of the population”, among other things such as COVID-19 aid and enhancing bilateral relations. This was always an emerging scenario though one whose likelihood greatly increased over the past half-year as evidenced by the author’s relevant analyses:

* 13 November 2020: “China’s Belt & Road Initiative Can Help Syria Rebuild After The War

* 15 December 2020: “Korybko: Complementary Role Of Iran, China, Russia In Syria’s Reconstruction

* 4 April 2021: “Korybko: 25-Year Deal Is A Message To The US: Iran & China Won’t Be ‘Contained’

In short, the recently clinched 25-year Chinese-Iranian Strategic Partnership enables the People’s Republic to connect with the Islamic one via Pakistan by expanding the Belt & Road Initiative’s flagship project of CPEC westward through the W-CPEC+ vision. This emerging corridor can then expand further westward to Syria. Furthermore, Iran’s deeply entrenched influence and the unquestionable trust that its representatives have with their Syrian counterparts can open up important doors for China there. The end result is that Damascus might not have to implement any compromises if Beijing’s BRI assistance helps reliably rebuild the country.

Strategic Consequences

Up until this point, Russia seemingly took it for granted that China wouldn’t seriously invest in Syria anytime soon owing to the unresolved political-military situation there which could endanger its BRI projects. Nevertheless, the People’s Republic apparently interpreted the latest elections’ successful conclusion as a strong message to the world conveying the fact that everything in the Arab Republic is finally getting back on track enough that China can now consider more comprehensively investing there. Should that transpire as planned, then Russia’s strategic leverage in Syria would comparatively decline as Damascus wouldn’t have any incentive to carry out the compromises that Moscow’s gently encouraged for the past few years, including the one related to requesting Iran’s dignified but phased withdrawal from the country.

Russian Calculations

Russia’s regional balancing act might therefore become comparatively less balanced if Moscow is no longer able to deliver on the grand diplomatic deals that it envisioned and presumably also at the very least intuited to its new partners like “Israel” and Turkey. In addition, Russia’s previously dominant economic position in Syria might soon be challenged through China’s “friendly competition” there. Syria of course stands to benefit by playing these two Great Powers off against one another in pursuit of the best reconstruction deals possible, but Russia might still be silently displeased at losing some of its strategic leverage over the country. Russia can always indirectly facilitate “Israel’s” bombing campaigns against Iran to reduce the latter’s influence there, but it can’t do anything to counter China’s. This observation suggests that the Kremlin’s Syrian policy might soon change.

From “Monopolization” To “Accommodation”

Russia’s “strategic culture” has a centuries-long tradition of influencing policymakers to “monopolize” the foreign regions in which they operate whereby Moscow becomes the unquestionably dominant power in those places. That started changing after the end of the Old Cold War, especially in areas where Russia used to hold the greatest sway. NATO’s eastward march saw Russia begrudgingly “accommodating” the military bloc in Central & Eastern Europe while BRI’s expansion into Central Asia saw the Eurasian Great Power more enthusiastically do the same there with its top strategic partner. As a result of last year’s Karabakh War, Russia was compelled to pragmatically “accommodate” Turkey in the South Caucasus, just as it’s seemingly about to do with China in Syria, the crown jewel of Moscow’s Mideast grand strategy, following President Xi’s telegram.

The New Reality

The overarching trend is that Russia is flexibly adapting to the emerging Multipolar World Order, including in the evolving context of World War C, which resulted in it transitioning from its “monopolization” model to its newfound “accommodation” one. In the Syrian case, this will likely see Russia lessening some of the “friendly pressure” that it’s previously put upon Damascus to implement Moscow’s envisioned compromises, including the request for Iran to commence a dignified but phased withdrawal. The Eurasian Great Power might soon realize that Syria could simply replace it with China as the Arab Republic’s preferred strategic partner, understanding that Moscow will militarily remain in the country as previously agreed but won’t be economically rewarded with profitable reconstruction contracts if it doesn’t fully “accommodate” Damascus related interests.

Concluding Thoughts

Provided that China carries through on President Xi’s promise and that Iran hasn’t already clinched a secret deal with the US to gradually withdraw from Syria as part of a larger compromise on its nuclear program (which doesn’t seem too likely and would probably become impossible if principalists/conservatives win the upcoming elections later this month), then there’s a very high chance that the geopolitical game has suddenly changed in Syria. Russian-Syrian relations will remain excellent, but their exact nature might somewhat change if Damascus more confidently plays the Chinese card to protect its political and military interests connected with its refusal to implement various compromises as well as request Iran’s dignified but phased withdrawal. The US surely won’t be happy with such a development, but there’s little that it can realistically do to reverse this trend.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: China, Syria, Russia, Iran, Turkey, US, Israel, Balancing.


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Poland’s Counterproductive Foreign Policy Is Responsible For Its Present Predicament

Poland’s Counterproductive Foreign Policy Is Responsible For Its Present Predicament

2 JUNE 2021

Poland

Poland’s counterproductive foreign policy of depending so much on former US President Trump’s re-election, ruining relations with Russia, and openly opposing Moscow’s Nord Stream II gas pipeline with Germany are responsible for its present predicament wherein the leading Central European country now finds itself in an extremely disadvantageous geopolitical position.

No country is more upset than Poland is at US President Biden for passively allowing the Nord Stream II gas pipeline to finish construction with only the most superficial of sanctions. Its representatives have described the project as both a threat to energy security and also most recently “a gas bomb placed under European integration” due to Warsaw’s belief that Moscow will capriciously cut off the tap to its Western customers. The Eurasian Great Power would never do such a thing since it’s arguably just as dependent on its customers as they are on Russia, if not more considering its disproportionate budgetary dependence on such energy sales, which Poland is well aware of.

What worries Warsaw the most, however, is that Moscow and Berlin might “collude” with one another to jointly “manage” the geostrategic Central & Eastern European (CEE) space across which Poland envisions itself becoming the regional leader through the “Three Seas Initiative” (3SI) that it leads as well as that structure’s “Lublin Triangle” core. Poland had hitherto based almost the entirety of its recent foreign policy on former US President Trump’s re-election due to his desire to stop Nord Stream II in order to compel Europe to purchase more expensive US LNG. It also appreciated his support of the 3SI, which irked Germany because Berlin is adamantly against Poland flexing its geopolitical muscles in CEE.

In pursuit of its goal to stop Poland from regaining its historical regional hegemonic status and perhaps even expanding it beyond its prior “sphere of influence”, Germany has been waging an ongoing Hybrid War on Poland intended to overthrow its conservative-nationalist government. The Biden Administration also seems unsupportive of Poland’s current authorities at the very least, if not silently hostile even if only for simple ideological reasons. Nevertheless, both Germany and the US appreciate Poland for playing a leading role in the West’s Hybrid War on neighboring Belarus, which advances very important anti-Russian foreign policy goals. Warsaw isn’t just doing this to please them, but as part of its hegemonic ambitions through the 3SI.

The problem for Poland is that it already burned all of its bridges with Russia so it’s incapable of realistically balancing with Moscow against an increasingly hostile Berlin and perhaps soon even an equally hostile Washington, the latter two of which behave as “frenemies” by being “cordial” for the most part in public but extremely pernicious behind the scenes. Germany’s Hybrid War on Poland through its support of the liberal-globalist Color Revolution opposition pairs perfectly with what Poland regards as the US’ so-called “betrayal” through Nord Stream II and Warsaw’s suspicions of Washington’s grand strategic motives ahead of the upcoming Putin-Biden Summit to put Poland in a very disadvantageous position.

The country’s “negative nationalism”, which builds a large part of its contemporary nationalism solely around its differences (whether real, imagined, or exaggerated) with Russia, blinded it to the strategic shortcomings of its prior policies and resulted in Poland counterproductively burning its bridges with Moscow with passion. Poland recently enhanced its military cooperation with Turkey through a combat drone deal which might in the future provide some pragmatic balancing options considering Ankara’s problems with both Berlin and Washington, but the West Asian country could never repair Warsaw’s balancing act like a rapprochement with Moscow could. That latter option is unlikely though for the earlier mentioned reasons, but it remains the most optimal.

Should Poland ever be able to muster up the political will to stop meddling in Russia’s “Near Abroad” (Belarus & Ukraine), then a breakthrough might in theory be achieved, but this is regrettably unrealistic to expect from the country since it’s convinced itself that its national security is dependent on countering Russian-friendly forces in those two neighboring nations between them. Poland as a state is simply too psychologically traumatized by its history with Russia to ever trust Moscow’s strategic intentions, which was exploited by Germany and the US in order to take advantage of this leading CEE country without its leaders even realizing it until it was too late. This leads to the worst-case scenario from its perspective.

Poland now might have to confront the prospect of being compelled by circumstances to pragmatically deal with Russia if Biden makes progress on advancing a so-called “New Detente” during his upcoming summit with President Putin. Moscow would hold more cards in this case than Warsaw could since the latter couldn’t rely as much on Berlin or Washington to support its regionally destabilizing Russophobic foreign policy to the same extent as before considering the perceived consequences of Nord Stream II’s impending completion. At the same time though, Germany and the US might continue pushing Poland to meddle in Russia’s “Near Abroad”, hoping that if anything goes wrong, then Warsaw can just take the fall for it instead of them.

To put it bluntly, Poland is damned if it does, damned if it doesn’t, and this dilemma vexes its strategists. They riskily bet everything on former US President Trump’s re-election, only to have their entire grand strategy suddenly sabotaged by Biden. They’re too deep into their regional Russophobic destabilization operations in Belarus and Ukraine to pull back now, at least without “losing face” among their people, yet even a pragmatic recalibration of their politics could be seen by their citizens as having been done under so-called “geopolitical duress”, which might reduce the ruling party’s domestic support among certain nationalist forces. Although the ruling party is still pretty popular, its coalition might crack in the future under such foreign pressures.

These considerations make it very difficult to suggest the optimal course of action for Poland since there might be some heavy costs for it either way. All told, though, it would objectively be best if Poland began exploring the options for an incipient rapprochement with Russia even if only for pragmatism’s sake, perhaps seeking solely to agree to so-called “rules of engagement” for “managing” their competition in Belarus and Ukraine. In any case, Poland should seriously consider taking the initiative in independently engaging Russia without Germany or the US’ approval since neither of those two sought Poland’s in doing what they recently did. If Poland aspires for regional leadership, then it’s about time that it starts acting more like a leader and less like a follower.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: Poland, Germany, Russia, US, Nord Stream II, Balancing, Three Seas Initiative, 3SI, Lublin Triangle.


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Turkey’s Military Engagement With The Lublin Triangle Aims To Balance Russia

Turkey’s Military Engagement With The Lublin Triangle Aims To Balance Russia

27 MAY 2021

Turkey

Poland’s agreement to purchase Turkish attack drones speaks to Ankara’s desire to enhance military engagement with the Warsaw-led “Lublin Triangle” in order to balance Russia’s recent geostrategic gains in the Black and Mediterranean Sea regions that the West Asian country might have suspiciously considered to be an unstated attempt by Moscow to contain it.

Russian-Turkish relations are incredibly complex, but can nowadays be characterized as a “friendly competition” between historic rivals whose leaders ultimately decided to responsibly regulate this dynamic for the sake of stability within their overlapping “spheres of influence”. I explained this more at length in an analysis that I wrote for Azerbaijan’s Axar in early April asking “Will Turkey’s Partnership With Ukraine Worsen Its Relations With Russia?” Generally speaking, this model of “friendly competition” is sustainable, though only so long as neither side does anything to decisively upset the military balance between the other and any of their rivals. That’s why Russia is so concerned about Turkey’s sale of combat drones to Ukraine since these could shift the military dynamics in Donbass. Foreign Minister Lavrov also warned Turkey against “fueling Kiev’s militaristic sentiment” earlier this week, but it’s Turkish-Polish military cooperation that might be much more dangerous.

Polish President Duda agreed to purchase 24 Turkish attack drones during his latest trip to the country in Ankara’s first such sale to an EU or NATO state. What’s so disturbing about this development is that Poland previously lost the war games that it staged earlier this year related to a speculative conflict with Russia, one in which neighboring Kaliningrad would play a major role for both sides. In that scenario, Russia would either attack Poland from that region or be attacked by Poland there. Either way, the point is that Kaliningrad is in Poland’s military crosshairs and represents the only realistic target for the Central European country’s new Turkish drones other than Belarus, the latter of which is part of the Russian-led CSTO mutual defense pact so any Polish attack against it could in theory be treated as an attack against Russia itself. Considering the intensity of Poland’s “negative nationalism” vis-a-vis Russia, a drone attack against either can’t be discounted.

It’s one thing for the US to bolster its Polish regional proxy’s offensive military capabilities and another for Turkey to do the same, especially considering the sensitive nature of contemporary Russian-Turkish relations and associated need to not disrupt the fragile balance between them. By selling drones to both Ukraine and Poland, Turkey is essentially enhancing its military engagement with the Polish-led “Lublin Triangle” which aims to “contain” Russian influence in Central & Eastern Europe (CEE) both at Poland’s independent prerogative but also America’s indirect behest. Poland aspires for regional hegemonic status through this platform, the core of the “Three Seas Initiative”, which could also help it reduce Germany’s influence in this strategic space as an asymmetrical response to its neighbor’s ongoing Hybrid War against it and especially against the backdrop of the US pragmatically allowing the Nord Stream II pipeline that Warsaw is so suspicious of to be completed.

It’s unclear exactly why Turkey would so provocatively bolster the Lublin Triangle’s military capabilities through attack drone sales to both the bloc’s Polish leader and its Ukrainian partner, but it might be the case that Ankara believes that this is a symmetrical response of sorts to recent Russian geostrategic gains in the Black and Mediterranean Seas that the West Asian country might have suspiciously considered to be an unstated attempt by Moscow to contain it. To explain, Russia’s victory in the 2008 peace enforcement operation against Georgia secured Abkhazia within its “sphere of influence”, while Crimea’s 2014 democratic reunification with Russia further expanded Moscow’s influence in the Black Sea that it shares with Turkey. On the southern front, Russia’s decisive 2015 anti-terrorist intervention in Syria placed the country’s military forces squarely within Turkey’s soft underbelly.

Although Russia has no intention whatsoever to attack Turkey, both due to their leaders’ pragmatic agreement to regulate their “friendly competition” within their overlapping “spheres of influence” and also to avoid an apocalyptic World War III scenario with NATO, Ankara might have nevertheless feared such a scenario no matter how unlikely it is in reality. This might especially have been the case ever since the agreement to deploy Russian peacekeepers to part of Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region as part of last November’s Moscow-mediated ceasefire between that country and Armenia. Although Turkish troops are there too, this still might not have dampened suspicious of the containment scenario. In response, Turkey might have thought it necessary to enhance its military engagement with the Polish-led Lublin Triangle, ergo its drone sales to Ukraine and most recently Poland.

What’s so concerning about these possible calculations is that Russia probably hadn’t ever thought that CEE would become a theater of “friendly competition” with Turkey. Unlike Turkish moves in the South Caucasus (Azerbaijan), Levant (Syria), and North Africa (Libya), its attack drone sales to those two Lublin Triangle states directly affect Russia’s national security. By contrast, Russian moves in the South Caucasus (Abkhazia and Azerbaijan’s Karabakh), Black Sea (Crimea), and Levant (Syria) don’t pose any such threat to Turkey’s national security since Moscow remains in full control of its forces there and isn’t building up its partners’ military capabilities as anti-Turkish proxies. With these observations in mind, Russia might need to review the nature of its “friendly competition” with Turkey, perhaps even as high as the leadership level due to the fact that the very close ties between their Presidents is largely responsible for managing these dynamics.

Some frank discussions between their leaders could be forthcoming if Russia believes that Turkey’s attack drone sales to those Lublin Triangle states could adversely affect the military balance between it and those two recipient countries. Turkey must clarify the reasons behind its enhanced military engagement with this unquestionably anti-Russian bloc that’s forming before Moscow’s eyes right on its very borders. It would still be concerning if Turkey is just doing it for the sake of business, but even worse if it’s for some larger strategic purpose. In either case, the move can be interpreted as unfriendly but perhaps also as a sly means for Turkey to restore the balance between it and Russia if some of its decision makers (whether rightly or wrongly) regard it as having recently tilted in Moscow’s favor, especially after last year’s peacekeeper deployment in Azerbaijan’s Karabakh. Regardless of its ultimate intent, the situation must be clarified soon in order to preserve their pragmatic ties.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: Turkey, Poland, Ukraine, Drones, Lublin Triangle, Three Seas Initiative, 3SI, US, Russia, Balancing.


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The Strategic Significance Of The Syrian Elections

The Strategic Significance Of The Syrian Elections

25 MAY 2021

The Strategic Significance Of The Syrian Elections

Syria’s presidential elections signify the country’s victory in the decade-long Hybrid War of Terror and will help it transition towards its inevitable post-war future.

The Hybrid War of Terror on Syria isn’t yet fully over, but the country’s presidential elections nevertheless signify its victory. The entire purpose of that campaign was to forcefully remove President Assad from office, after which Syria would surrender its sovereignty to its neighbors, first and foremost “Israel” and Turkey. The country’s infrastructure and economy have been devastated by the humanitarian crisis that this conflict provoked, yet the Syrian people still stand strong. Although there exist some among them who despise their leader, the vast majority of the Syrian people still proudly support him, in some cases even more now after ten years of war than they did at its onset. That’s because many of them eventually realized that this is about much more than him personally, but the future of their civilization-state.

As it stands, Syria is presently divided into three “spheres of influence” – the liberated majority of the country, the American-controlled eastern portion beyond the Euphrates River, and the sliver of Turkish-controlled territory along the northern border that also importantly includes Idlib. Syrians in the last two regions didn’t have the chance to exercise their democratic rights since the occupying authorities naturally prevented them from doing so. In fact, they’ve made it all but impossible to reunify the country since the military situation is such that the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) doesn’t want to risk a much larger war by attacking NATO forces there despite having the international legal right to expel the invaders. Resolving this dilemma will be among the top tasks facing President Assad during his next term seeing as how few doubt that he’ll win the elections.

I proposed some solutions in the analyses that I published back in February about how “Syria Should Talk With The US Since Its Iranian & Russian Allies Are Already Doing So” and “Balancing Regional Interests In Syria Is The Only Way To Reach A Compromise Solution”. In short, some form of decentralization granting broader political rights to the occupied regions might be a pragmatic means of resolving this dilemma, though of course, the devil is in the details so to speak. Iran’s military presence in the country, despite being legal and premised on fighting international terrorism there, is a major problem for the US. It’s unlikely that America will agree to any compromise solution so long as Iranian forces remain in Syria, but it’s also equally unlikely that Syria will ask them to leave, even through a phased but dignified withdrawal. Damascus depends on Tehran’s anti-terrorist support, and the Iranian presence also prevents Syria from falling under disproportionate Russian influence.

On the topic of Russian-Syrian relations, ties remain excellent and continue to diversify into other fields beyond the military one, but there hasn’t been as much progress on courting Russian businesses as Syria had hoped. The unilateral US sanctions regime acts as a powerful deterrent to reconstruction efforts, though these are unlikely to be lifted so long as Iranian military forces remain in the country. America seems to have realized that President Assad isn’t going anywhere since he genuinely enjoys tremendous grassroots support among the vast majority of his people so regime change no longer remains a viable policy option. Instead, the US will predictably seek to transition towards “regime tweaking”, or pressuring Syria to make certain political changes that accommodate American interests such as decentralization.

It’s unclear whether such a policy will succeed, especially remembering that Iran probably won’t be asked to withdraw from Syria, so observers can expect for this issue to remain unresolved for the indefinite future. That being the case, President Assad’s other top priority is to more comprehensively rebuild the liberated majority of the country. This will be difficult so long as the US’ unilateral sanctions regime and secondary sanctions threats remain in place, but progress could prospectively be achieved through a combination of Russian, Iranian, Chinese, and Emirati efforts. So long as their companies have the will to face possible American sanctions, which is admittedly questionable, they’ll be able to help rebuild Syria. As an incentive, Damascus could offer them preferential partnerships, but this still might not be enough for some of them to take that risk.

It’s indeed possible for there to be no political or economic breakthroughs in Syria anytime soon, in which case the country will continue to struggle but nevertheless continue making gradual progress in a positive direction. The only real security threats that remain come from ISIS sleeper cells, mostly outside the most populated areas judging by recent reports about their attacks. This will always be a problem and probably won’t ever be fully resolved considering the nature of the threat itself. Even so, the Syrian intelligence agencies and their allies will continue to infiltrate and dismantle such groups, but some will always evade detection until it’s too late. That, however, shouldn’t represent any considerable obstacle to Syria’s gradual reconstruction, but highly publicized attacks might dissuade all but the bravest international investors.

Another priority of President Assad’s next term in office will be encouraging his compatriots who fled over the past decade to return home and help rebuild their country. Some will decide not to if they retain political grievances or committed war crimes of course, but it’s expected that more Syrians will eventually move back over the coming years. The state will therefore have to continue supporting this special category of citizens, made all the more difficult by the never-ending economic crises caused by the US’ unilateral sanctions regime, but it also has a lot to gain in the sphere of soft power so it’ll probably do its best in this respect in order to show the world that the situation is normalizing. With time, and combined with possible investment incentives amid continually improving security, Syria might be able to turn the tide on its economic crisis.

Returning back to the lead-in topic of this analysis, the strategic significance of the Syrian elections, it can be said that they represent a new phase of normalization there. The last ones in 2014 took place during the worsening war, but this time everything is comparatively much better. The Western Mainstream Media will continue to delegitimize the Syrians’ exercise of their democratic rights, but policymakers will pragmatically realize that it’s a dead-end for them to continue agitating for regime change. Syria might even eventually repair some of its political relations with certain Western countries, not right away of course, but with time. Its political and economic challenges will likely remain unresolved for a while, but even so, the world should realize that Syria emerged victorious in the decade-long Hybrid War of Terror and that better days are surely ahead.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: Syria, Hybrid War, Color Revolutions, Regime Change, Infowars, Terrorism, Multipolarity.


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The LAPSSET Corridor Is China’s Latest Silk Road In East Africa

The LAPSSET Corridor Is China’s Latest Silk Road In East Africa

24 MAY 2021

The LAPSSET Corridor Is China

IGAD’s Chinese-backed infrastructure projects will eventually create a regional version of Beijing’s vision for a Community of Common Destiny, one of the central philosophical tenets behind BRI.

The Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopian (LAPSSET) Transport Corridor in the northeastern Kenyan port of the same name received its first ships last Thursday. The project hasn’t yet been fully completed but is nonetheless finally operational. China is responsible for its construction and considers it to be a major Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) investment in East Africa. The LAPSSET Corridor will connect those three countries and help relieve congestion along the Nairobi-Mombasa one. Speaking of which, China completed Kenya’s Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) extending between the capital city and its host country’s main port a few years back in 2017.

There’s more to China’s BRI plans for East Africa than just those two infrastructure projects, however. China also completed the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway between the Ethiopian capital and its neighboring gateway to the Red Sea in 2018. In addition, China reached a deal earlier this week with Uganda to rehabilitate a century-old railway between its capital of Kampala and the Kenyan border. Although not a formal extension of the SGR like was originally planned, it’ll nevertheless de facto fulfill the same purpose of facilitating Ugandan exports to the wider world through Mombasa Port.

The end result is that China is gradually connecting the countries of East Africa closer together. Three of them – Kenya, South Sudan, and Uganda – are part of the East African Community (EAC), a regional trade bloc that aspires to more closely integrate along the lines of the EU sometime in the coming future. Ethiopia isn’t part of that bloc, but all four countries comprise the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) which also includes Eritrea, Somalia, and Sudan. It can therefore be said that China’s recent Silk Road efforts are concentrated in the broader IGAD region instead of just the EAC.

This part of Africa is regarded by many observers as among the most economically promising and stable, barring few exceptions like South Sudan and Somalia. Even so, those two have recently stabilized in their own way as a result of political compromises between warring parties. LAPSSET will certainly help bring more developmental opportunities and employment to the former while the latter is a peninsular country with plenty of opportunities to trade with the rest of the world as it is. Concentrating on LAPSSET though, it also serves other strategic purposes than simply providing South Sudan with a corridor to the sea.

Ethiopia is the regional giant with the second largest population on the continent. It has practically infinite developmental promise and previously recorded some of the world’s highest growth levels up until COVID-19 caused the current global economic crisis. A country with such potential understandably wants to diversify its trade routes and not be dependent on any single corridor. This explains the pragmatism behind LAPSSET since it serves that purpose by complementing Ethiopia’s other Chinese-constructed gateway to the Red Sea, the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway.

IGAD’s Chinese-backed infrastructure projects will eventually create a regional version of Beijing’s vision for a Community of Common Destiny, one of the central philosophical tenets behind BRI. Regional integration is one of the top trends of the 21st century, but it requires significant capital investment in most Global South cases as well as the proper expertise to construct the requisite infrastructure there. China provides both no-strings-attached loans and highly qualified labor in order to achieve this, thereby fulfilling its responsibility to the Global South as the world’s largest developing nation.

Since IGAD can be regarded as an extension of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) due to its geography, it can be said that such Chinese investments are playing a crucial role in integrating this increasingly strategic space within which many observers predict most 21st-century trends will converge. South-South cooperation through LAPSSET and its regional sister projects provides an excellent example of China’s new model of international development. It treats partners as equals and not as subordinates like the US does, provides no-strings-attached loans unlike conditional American ones, and results in win-win outcomes instead of zero-sum games.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: China, Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, IGAD, Belt & Road Initiative, BRI, LAPSSET Corridor.


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Negative Nationalism: Is Ukraine Turning Into The “Anti-Russia”?

ARTICLE FROM:

Global Research

Negative Nationalism: Is Ukraine Turning Into The “Anti-Russia”?

The concept of “negative nationalism”, or basing one’s nationalism based on what they are not, is a potent means of political mobilization in Central & Eastern Europe as evidenced by countries such as Ukraine obsessing over their identity differences – whether real, imagined, or exaggerated – with Russia.

Is Ukraine Turning Into The “Anti-Russia”?

President Putin said late last week while speaking with members of his National Security Council that “Apparently – and regrettably – attempts are being made to slowly but surely turn Ukraine into some kind of Russia’s polar opposite, an anti-Russia, from where we are likely to be getting news requiring special attention in terms of national security.” This point has been touched upon by many experts in the past, most recently RT’s Glenn Diesen in his piece last month titled “Borsch & Bulgakov ours, Brezhnev & Bolsheviks theirs: American propaganda is driving Ukraine’s ridiculous cultural war with Russia”. The Norwegian academic’s point is that the differences between these two fraternal countries aren’t all that serious, but external forces like the US are artificially exacerbating them as part of a modern-day form of nation-building for anti-Russian geostrategic purposes.

Reviving The Spirit Of Nazism

This phenomenon isn’t new neither, but has been part of many Central & Eastern European (CEE) countries’ evolving post-communist nationalisms. I criticized this approach in a recent analysis about how “Russia Warned The West Against Reviving The Supremacist Spirit Of Nazism” where I pointed out how differing interpretations of historical events such as the Soviet Union’s interventions in Hungary and Czechoslovakia shouldn’t become the bases upon which anti-Russian nationalisms are built. It’s taken for granted that there are some domestic forces that sincerely believe that those events and some controversies over certain cultural issues like the ethnicities of artistic figures or the origin of certain cuisines set those people apart from Russia, but there’s a difference between expressing these views in a cordial or contentious manner. Regrettably, the latter approach has become fashionable as of late.

The Psychological Roots Of “Negative Nationalism”

Instead of being proud of what they are, some of these people are more proud of what they aren’t, in this case, Russian. Such “negative nationalist” sentiments are attractive because they’re based largely on emotions, mostly a painful historical memory in the CEE case, which is why their adherents cling so closely to them because it’s a way of coping with the presumed “inferiority complex” that such events provoked more widely in their cultures. It’s of course unfortunate that certain things have happened in the past to result in those feelings, but those who feel that way should move past them in order to become stronger, not obsess over how they make them feel and thus react by espousing extreme forms of negative nationalism directed against modern-day Russia which wasn’t responsible for their ancestors’ suffering. At the same time, these same “negative nationalists” deny Russians the right to hold any negative historical views about their countries.

Polish & Ukraine Examples

To explain, Poles usually gloss over the brief period when their Commonwealth occupied Moscow in order to perpetually portray their historical state as a victim of so-called “Russian aggression”. The reality is much more complex of course, though everything is much simpler when it comes to Ukrainian “negative nationalists” who thought it would be more effective to spin their Nazi-allied ancestors as so-called “true nationalists” than simply acknowledge their evil deeds.

Both “negative nationalists” in those examples are driven by a desire to separate themselves and their people’s histories from Russia in the most dramatic ways but also in pretty petty ones too such as the squabbles over certain cultural issues like culinary dishes or shared Slavic traditions. Meanwhile, the US has observed these organic dynamics and selfishly sought to exploit them for its own geostrategic gain against Russia, ergo its support of its regional partners’ narratives, especially via “NGOs”.

America’s Interest In The CEE Countries’ “Negative Nationalism”

Nationalism of any sort is a potent force for political mobilization, but “negative nationalism” is perhaps among its strongest variants since it seeks to remind its adherents of the perceived historical injustices that were committed against them which influenced those folks to hold the views that they presently do. It redirects grassroots anger, especially among the youth, away from their own governments and towards the so-called “other”, which in this case is conveniently Russia.

This enables the US to more easily manipulate their people and governments into sacrificing their own national interests through economic, military, political means (ex: lopsided trade deals, disproportionate military obligations like dispatching troops to fight America’s far-flung wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and openly allowing the US to meddle in their domestic political affairs) so long as they think this is somehow against Russia’s interests too.

Negative Nationalism” As A Form Of Hybrid Warfare

In other words, America’s weaponized exploitation of “negative nationalism” in the CEE space is responsible for perpetuating its regional hegemony over all of their affairs since the manipulated people wrongly believe that their “sacrifices” (if they even regard them as such, which is unlikely among many) are worth it since this somehow or another goes against Russia’s grand strategic interests. The entire time, however, their own national interests continue to suffer as they remain under the US’ indirect influence. Some of them even go as far as proposing more radical forms of subservience to the US without even being prompted to do so since they sincerely believe that this perverse relationship that they’ve established with it is truly in their nation’s best interests. It can therefore be said that this dynamic is an important but understudied component of America’s Hybrid Warfare against its own “allies” (which in reality function as client states).

Is “Positive Nationalism” The Solution?

It’s not enough to simply critique “negative nationalism” since a solution should be proposed if one sincerely hopes to effect meaningful change. The opposite of this criticized concept is “positive nationalism”, which refers to pride in what one is without obsessing over what they aren’t in relation to others like Russia. There’s plenty that the Polish, Ukrainian, and other CEE people can be proud of that doesn’t have to do with Russia. It’s inevitable that part of their nationalisms will be based on some unfortunate experiences with that country, but they mustn’t comprise the majority of such sentiment. Instead, focusing more on their contemporary geopolitical and other interests as they objectively exist could help formulate more balanced nationalisms that in turn improve the formulation of policy. That’s not to say that it’s realistic to expect them to cut ties with the US, but just that they could at least negotiate with it better to get more in exchange for their “services”.

The “Success” Of The “Ukrainian Experiment”

That’s not happening right now though, nor is it likely to happen anytime soon. The US continue to exploit those two countries and others as part of its grand strategic ambitions to “contain” Russia and even subsequently encroach upon its domestic interests via provocative regional military deployments for instance.

Ukraine is poised to become the quintessentially anti-Russian state as a result of the active cultivation of its extreme form of “negative nationalism” against its neighbor despite it ironically being very similar to it in many respects, especially ethno-cultural and historical. The “success” of the “Ukrainian experiment” proves that other nations less close to Russia than the Ukrainians are can obviously be just as radically affected by this form of Hybrid War, if not even more like in the Polish case for example. This “nation-building” model is antithetical to their objective national interests and results in the formulation of counterproductive policies.

Wishful Thinking

In the unlikely event that some of the CEE nations realize that they’re being manipulated by a hegemon that’s many times more powerful than Russia ever was in the sense that the US was able to “successfully” shape their modern-day identities without barely any of their people even noticing, then it would be incumbent upon them to support so-called “pragmatic” political forces that don’t “scare” the US too much by openly calling for an outright revision of relations with it. Rather, genuinely nationalist forces should consider retaining strategic ties with America whenever they suit their actual national interests such as in the trade and investment domains while not shying away from being “hard negotiators” when it comes to other issues, up to and including the possibility of declining a deal if the terms aren’t acceptable to those same national interests. From the Russian perspective, this wouldn’t be the “ideal scenario”, but it’s the most realistic one if it ever happens.

Concluding Thoughts

To wrap it all up, “negative nationalism” is indeed a potent force for political mobilization, one that’s so effective that it’s easily exploited in the CEE space by external powers like the US for anti-Russian geostrategic purposes. Ukraine is the ignoble poster child of this model as recently noted by President Putin, but it’s not the only such example since Poland also figures very prominently on that list as well as the Baltic States among others. The latter are probably “irredeemable” in the sense of them ever embracing “positive nationalism”, but Ukraine and Poland aren’t lost causes, at least not yet. In fact, “positive nationalism” is so potent of a counteracting force in the former right now that Kiev is actively persecuting leading members of the increasingly popular opposition that embrace it, thereby attesting to its grassroots support. In any case, the battle between “negative” and “positive” nationalisms will continue to unfold in CEE for the foreseeable future.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

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Russia Should Consider Partnering With The UAE In The Horn Of Africa

20 MAY 2021

Russia Should Consider Partnering With The UAE In The Horn Of Africa

The Horn of Africa is arguably the most geostrategic part of the continent for the rest of the world at large so it’s only fitting that Russia crafts a comprehensive strategy for advancing its interests there, one which would become much more viable if it seriously considered partnering with the region’s de facto Emirati hegemon

The Horn Of Africa

Africa’s geostrategic significance is rising as Great Powers resume their historical scramble for influence, resources, and prestige there, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the Horn of Africa. This region is arguably the most geostrategic part of the continent for the rest of the world at large given its position astride the Gulf of Aden-Red Sea (GARS) waterway connecting the Eastern Hemipshere’s maritime trade routes. It’s therefore only fitting that Russia crafts a comprehensive strategy for advancing its interests there which aligns with the model that it’s begun to experiment with across Africa, albeit of course custom tailored for the Horn of Africa’s specific context.

Background Briefing

My recent piece asking “Is Khodorkovsky Behind Claims Of Russian Death Squads In The Central African Republic” chronologically lists my 18 prior analysis over the years on Russia’s new African outreach strategy, which should be referenced by those with an interest in the topic. In particular, attention should be paid to the one about how “The Improvement Of Russian-Togolese Relations Is A Multipolar Masterstroke” since it summarizes most of what’s been going on recently. To be brief, Russia is employing a combination of “Democratic Security” programs (counter-Hybrid War tactics and strategies), strategic economic deals, and political support to bolster the viability of so-called “fragile states” and strengthen their nation-building efforts.

Challenges & Opportunities

The Horn of Africa though already has a panoply of very confident nations, most of which which live within the centrally positioned cosmopolitan state of Ethiopia that’s recently been under severe strain as a result of the incipient “Balkanization” processes inadvertently catalyzed by its new leader’s “glasnost” and “perestroika” attempts. They therefore don’t require, nor have requested, any of Russia’s “nation-building” support, though the several states comprising this region (Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan) are still attractive destinations for Russian investment though provided that the Horn of Africa eventually stabilizes. That might not happen anytime soon though, yet Russia can’t wait much longer to more actively engage the region.

Russia’s Regional Entry Point

Moscow’s entry point appears to be the naval base that it plans to open in Sudan despite recent speculation about its future. With or without a military presence there though, Russia can still utilize this location to benefit from the prospective Sahelian-Saharan Silk Road that China might eventually advance as part of its worldwide Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) upon the end of the global economic crisis brought about by the world’s uncoordinated attempts to contain COVID-19 (“World War C”). Chad’s recent security challenges following the unexpected killing of its long-serving leader at the front lines of its latest war with rebel groups might further delay this project’s implementation, hence the need for Russia to diversify its regional economic outreaches.

The Prospects For Ethiopian Engagement

Ethiopia is therefore an exciting prospect and close historical ties support this possible direction of Russian policy, but there’s immense competition with China and the GCC so Moscow would need to find a suitable niche from which to establish its influence there. Interest exists on both sides since each aspires to improve their respective balancing acts via the other, but not much of tangible significance has occurred. Statements of intent are positive signs, but they aren’t anything substantive. Both sides should therefore urgently set up working groups at the intergovernmental and entrepreneurial levels to explore this more seriously. If successful, then more trade, security, and closer political ties would be mutually beneficial and also help the larger region.

Relegating The Rest Of The Region

Speaking of which, Russian engagement with the other three countries – Djibouti, Eritrea, Somalia – remains minimal, which is unfortunate. They, too, are under a lot of external influence and have recently become scenes of intense rivalry between various powers, especially Somalia which is the scene of competition between Turkey and Qatar on one side and the UAE on the other. The latter engages mostly with the breakaway region of Somaliland, among the most stable and successful places on the continent despite its de facto independence being unrecognized. Closer Russian-Emirati coordination in recent years might in theory provide some openings to Moscow in that region, but it still remains to be seen whether it has the political will to engage Somaliland.

The (South) Yemeni Dimension

Regarding the UAE, Russia could also utilize its newfound ties with that country to expand its influence in Yemen, which can unofficially be regarded as a Horn of Africa country for strategic purposes. More specifically, Russia might revive its historical ties with the UAE-backed South Yemeni separatist movement, not necessarily in support of their independence agenda, but for practical reasons related to Moscow’s broader interests in the Horn of Africa region. Again, this would require political will to risk provoking the ire of its internationally recognized government just like it would Somalia’s in the event of engaging UAE-backed Somaliland, but this possible vector should be more closely studied by Russian strategists to assess the range of its pros and cons.

The Pros & Cons Of Engaging With The Emirates

Upon contemplating this, an intriguing possibility begins to emerge, and that’s of Russia partnering more closely with the UAE in the Horn of Africa in order to proverbially “piggyback” off of its recent strategic successes there. Observers have positivenegative, and neutral views of the UAE’s grand strategic vision, particularly in the Horn of Africa, which should also be considered by Russian experts before deciding whether to move ahead with this or not. Should they end up doing so, then it might be a game-changing development since the impact of a prospective Russian-Emirati Strategic Partnership in the Horn of Africa region could improve the viability of both players’ comprehensive engagement there.

From Mutual To Multilateral Benefits

For example, they’re each formidable military players in their own right, whether with respect to their conventional or unconventional (i.e. “mercenary”) forces, and each could entrench themselves in different economic niches in select countries like Ethiopia or their subregions such as Somaliland and South Yemen. Russia and the UAE also have different networks of partnerships across the world and particularly in Africa, so coming closer together could end up being multilaterally beneficial as well provided that they coordinate their respective visions. Nevertheless, closer Russian-Emirati ties might upset Turkey, which is expanding its influence in the Horn of Africa (specifically Somalia) and the rest of Africa more broadly, but should be manageable.

Concluding Thoughts

What’s basically needed is a breakthrough for accelerating and expanding Russia’s outreaches in the Horn of Africa region. Bilateral efforts with certain countries like Sudan and Ethiopia have failed to reap thus far apart from a possible naval base deal in Port Sudan, hence the proposal for considering a strategic partnership with the UAE, one that would imply closer engagement with the Emirates’ partners in Somaliland and South Yemen. Russia needs to objectively assess its capabilities and realize that closer ties with the Horn of Africa require regional modifications to the strategy that it’s presently employing in other parts of the continent. Moscow might not be able to do much on its own, but together with Abu Dhabi, they might make a major impact.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: Russia, UAE, Horn Of Africa, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Somaliland, Yemen, South Yemen, Balancing.


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