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Anti-Russian Attacks In Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan Are A New Hybrid War Threat

Anti-Russian Attacks In Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan Are A New Hybrid War Threat

23 AUGUST 2021

Anti-Russian Attacks In Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan Are A New Hybrid War Threat

These countries’ leaderships appreciate their strategic relations with Russia and are also keenly aware of the serious Hybrid War threat that those provocations pose to their domestic stability.

Some “nationalist activists” in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have recently taken to attacking those of their compatriots who address them in Russian, prompting condemnation from Moscow and stern responses from their governments against this worrying Hybrid War threat. Kazakhstan is a much more multicultural society than Kyrgyzstan due to its significant Russian minority while the latter can best be described as a constellation of various clans who mostly all share the same ethnicity (except in the Fergana Valley where many of the Uzbek minority reside). Both of these Central Asian Republics (CARs) are Russia’s mutual defense allies through the CSTO and also participate in the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). Russia is therefore very concerned about its ethnic compatriots and others who speak its language being brutally attacked there.

It remains unclear whether the “nationalist activists” responsible for these crimes are connected to foreign NGOs or intelligence agencies, but they nevertheless constitute a serious regional security threat which could advance American strategic interests if it isn’t soon checked before spiraling out of control. The brief Trump Era was characterized by a resurgence of nationalist sentiment across the world, the origins of which predated his ascent to power and its consequences will long outlast his departure because it embodies preexisting trends in countless societies. It’s first and foremost a reaction to the previously unchecked liberal-globalist processes that swept the planet during the short period of unipolarity but varying degrees of support have been provided to different movements by foreign actors over the years in order to advance their divide-and-rule interests.

In the Central Asian context, the US has every reason not to want this geostrategic region in the middle of the Eurasian Heartland to serve as the convergence point of the many multipolar processes jointly pioneered by Russia and China, particularly connectivity ones related to synchronization of Moscow’s EAEU and Beijing’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). There have already been some violent Sinophobic incidents in reaction to what some claim (whether truthfully, falsely, or in an exaggerated manner) are the local economic consequences of many low-cost Chinese products entering their marketplaces and certain BRI contracts being carried out by Chinese workers instead of their own compatriots, but locals haven’t ever really had a problem with Russia’s legacy of influence there.

This is a pretty new phenomenon, especially in multicultural Kazakhstan, which is why Russia is so concerned. Provocations such as these can quickly spiral out of control since the actors participating in them are presumed to be autonomous and can therefore behave in unpredictable ways. Furthermore, the proliferation of cell phones and social media mean that even relatively minor incidents can spark larger crises, especially if the footage or photos are deceptively misportrayed to the public. Kyrgyzstan is particularly vulnerable to this considering its clan-centric society wherein even the smallest of slights against one group can quickly explode into major clashes between each party’s extended network of supporters. These preexisting socio-technological dynamics make Central Asia especially vulnerable to these sorts of “nationalist”-driven Hybrid War threats.

Considering the mutually beneficial relationship between those countries and Russia, as well as the role that the Russian language plays in both of those CARs for facilitating intercultural communication and enhancing one’s job prospects (especially abroad in the Kyrgyz case since many of its citizens migrate to Russia for work), it can be concluded that these so-called “nationalist activists” do not genuinely represent the grassroots will of their societies. Rather, they’re ultra-radical manifestations of preexisting nationalist trends within their countries and are obsessed with provoking inter-ethnic and consequently international crises on this ideological basis. They hope to place their governments in a dilemma whereby they either submit to these extremists and lose Russian support or defend multiculturalism and then be accused of “selling out” their people.

Nur-Sultan (the recently renamed capital of Kazakhstan formerly known as Astana) and Bishkek have thus far responded to these provocations properly by declaring the perpetrators’ actions to be unacceptable. They’re sending unambiguous signals that they won’t be tolerated whatsoever at all but fiercely suppressed anytime and anywhere they occur. These countries’ leaderships appreciate their strategic relations with Russia and are also keenly aware of the serious Hybrid War threat that those provocations pose to their domestic stability. Investigations should be commenced to determine determine whether these “nationalist activists” are connected to foreign NGOs or intelligence agencies, the outcome of which will show that these are either “lone wolf” radicals or another country’s proxies and thus help to fine-tune the state’s response to them.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Eurasian Union, CSTO, Hybrid War, Central Asia.


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Russia’s Balancing Act Is The Key To Averting Another Civil War In Afghanistan

Russia’s Balancing Act Is The Key To Averting Another Civil War In Afghanistan

22 AUGUST 2021

Russia

It’s incumbent on Russia to use all realistic means at its disposal to urgently convince the “Panjshir Resistance” to negotiate with the Taliban, ensure that the Taliban offers its opponents a fair deal with respect to the inclusive government that it’s promised to create, and prevent any Tajik civilians from crossing over the border to fight for their co-ethnics (and in the process potentially provoke Taliban-Tajik clashes that could automatically involve Russia through the CSTO).

Taliban-Russia Ties

The Taliban’s lightning-fast conquest of Afghanistan has resulted in the group becoming its de facto authorities in less than half a month’s time, though it still hasn’t been formally recognized as such because it continues to be designated as a terrorist organization by the international community. Nevertheless, Russia enjoys excellent political ties with the Taliban that were forged over the past few years of the Moscow-led Afghan peace process in spite of still banning the group for the aforementioned reason.

Recalibrating Russia’s Balancing Act In Afghanistan

The Eurasian Great Power’s pragmatic stance towards them is the result of its diplomatic balancing act which saw the Kremlin pioneer a new era of relations with former rivals in recent years in an attempt to position itself as the supreme balancing force in Eurasia, which its leadership regards as their country’s geostrategic destiny this century. In particular, Russia has invested tremendous time and effort in practicing this policy towards majority-Muslim states as part of what can be described as its “Ummah Pivot”.

The rapid collapse of the US-backed Kabul government saw Russia replacing that partner with the Taliban as its de facto interlocutor for managing national affairs while the anti-government role that this group played with respect to Moscow’s balancing act there has been replaced by the so-called “Panjshir Resistance” which popped up in its eponymous valley. It considers itself to be the successor of the erstwhile “Northern Resistance” that used to enjoy Russian support during the 1990s. Unlike then, however, the Kremlin has no intentions of militarily aiding this opposition force but instead wants it to compromise with the Taliban.

Strategic Symbiosis

This observation is evidenced by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announcing that he supports a political dialogue between those opposing forces, which was followed up by Russian Ambassador to Afghanistan Dmitry Zhirnov declaring that “there is no alternative to the Taliban” and elaborating on the many reasons why the “Panjshir Resistance” is doomed. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Zhirnov revealed that the Taliban asked for his assistance in reaching a political solution with that group. This development speaks to the symbiotic strategic relationship between Russia and the Taliban.

Russia expects the Taliban to function as the region’s anti-terrorist vanguard against ISIS-K while the Taliban expects Russia to facilitate a political compromise with the “Panjshir Resistance”. These outcomes would be mutually beneficial if they succeed since they’d ensure regional stability by averting another Afghan Civil War. Moscow is the only force capable of potentially convincing the “Panjshir Resistance” to reach a deal with the Taliban since the former’s members are thought to be mostly Tajiks – Afghanistan’s second-largest ethnic plurality – and therefore within Russia’s indirect “sphere of influence” by virtue of its alliance with Dushanbe.

Is The “Panjshir Resistance” The US’ “Plan C”?

Although Ahmad Massoud – the head of the “Panjshir Resistance” whose father of the same name was the legendary leader of the “Northern Resistance”known as the “Lion of Panjshir” – is close to the liberal-globalist imperialist Bernard-Henri Lévy (BHL) of Libyan War infamy and provocatively published an op-ed in the Washington Post requesting as much US military assistance as possible, it’s unlikely that anything significant will be forthcoming. Even if some was American support was received, without Russian support via Tajikistan, his movement stands no chance of succeeding but would only function as a US proxy for prolonging the war.

It’s unimportant whether some observers sympathize with Massoud’s comparatively more secular vision of Afghanistan since it’s objectively the case that his ties to BHL and direct appeal to the preferred media outlet of the US’ permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) confirm the counterproductive role that he’d play with respect to regional dynamics if his movement is allowed to continue. It might very well be that some neoconservative “deep state” forces regard him as their “Plan C” for Afghanistan after “Plan A” of an indefinite occupation failed just like their “Plan B” of ISIS-K did shortly after.

Strategic Dynamics

Russia has no interest in militarily supporting the “Panjshir Resistance” since it’s aware of the destabilizing role that it’s expected to play in sabotaging February’s agreement to build the Pakistan-Afghanistan-Uzbekistan (PAKAFUZ) railway that Moscow intends to utilize for expanding its economic influence to the Indian Ocean like it’s wanted to do for centuries. It’s true that the US also intends to use PAKAFUZ to expand its own economic influence northward into the Central Asian Republics, but it can indefinitely postpone that ultimate fallback plan if the “Panjshir Resistance” successfully functions as its “deep state” proxy for sabotaging Russia’s plans.

The US doesn’t even have to do all that much anyhow for the “Panjshir Resistance” to further destabilize the situation in Afghanistan. Its continued militant resistance to the Taliban (no matter how futile it may ultimately be) might be enough to provoke the country’s de facto leaders into reciprocally (if not disproportionately) responding which could then result in potentially uncontrollable grassroots furor in Tajikistan itself. The US might hope that this catalyzes a self-sustaining cycle of destabilization whereby that neighboring country’s citizens volunteer to fight for their co-ethnics in Afghanistan and thus provoke border clashes with the Taliban.

The Worst-Case Scenario

Russia would have no choice but to protect its CSTO mutual defense ally’s borders in order to “save face” before the world and not be seen as abandoning the country that it previously swore to protect in such a scenario regardless of whoever really provoked it. That could then immediately ruin Moscow’s pragmatic political ties with the Taliban, thus sabotaging the Eurasian Great Power’s diplomatic balancing act and consequently creating a dangerous situation whereby the group no longer has any significant external incentive to behave responsibly like the international community expects.

If the Taliban returns to its old ways by inertia due to another round of civil war, it’ll remain isolated and the US will therefore succeed in indefinitely postponing seemingly inevitable Eurasian multipolar integration processes such as PAKAFUZ as well as the expansion of Beijing’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) into Afghanistan. Put another way, all that the US has to do is indirectly shape the preexisting conflict dynamics in Afghanistan in such a way as to prevent the “Panjshir Resistance’s” collapse long enough to inspire Tajik citizens to volunteer to fight for their co-ethnics there in order to possibly set into motion this self-sustaining Hybrid War scheme as its “Plan C”.

Concluding Thoughts

It’s for this reason why it’s incumbent on Russia to use all realistic means at its disposal to urgently convince the “Panjshir Resistance” to negotiate with the Taliban, ensure that the Taliban offers its opponents a fair deal with respect to the inclusive government that it’s promised to create, and prevent any Tajik civilians from crossing over the border to fight for their co-ethnics (and in the process potentially provoke Taliban-Tajik clashes that could automatically involve Russia through the CSTO). The outcome of Russia’s efforts will shape the future of the broader region for years to come, which is why all responsible stakeholders sincerely hope that it succeeds.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: Afghanistan, Russia, Taliban, Panjshir Resistance, US, ISIS-K, Hybrid War, PAKAFUZ, Balancing.


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Unexpected Trouble In The Three Seas States Might Cause Them To Rethink Their Policies

Unexpected Trouble In The Three Seas States Might Cause Them To Rethink Their Policies

12 AUGUST 2021

Unexpected Trouble In The Three Seas States Might Cause Them To Rethink Their Policies

Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland – the top “Three Seas Initiative” states most active in the US-backed Hybrid War on Belarus – are experiencing some unexpected trouble at home and along their frontiers with that former Soviet Republic which might cause them to rethink their aggressive policies against Minsk for pragmatism’s sake.

Recent developments might compel the “Three Seas Initiative” (3SI) states of Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland into backing off from the active role that they play in the US-backed Hybrid War on Belarus. Each of them has suddenly experienced some unexpected trouble either at home and/or along their frontiers with that former Soviet Republic. All three of them are struggling in their response to the surge in illegal immigration coming from their shared neighbor, which Minsk denies is being weaponized by its leadership as an unconventional response to their pressure upon it but which nevertheless seems to at the very least be “passively facilitated” by it. Furthermore, Lithuania and Poland recently saw some large-scale protests in response to contentious domestic policies, all the while the Color Revolution in Belarus continues to peter out into practically nothing.

Vilnius saw some chaos outside its parliament earlier in the week due to its people’s fury at the authorities’ plans to legally discriminate against non-vaccinated citizens. Meanwhile, Warsaw and several other Polish cities saw demonstrations against the government’s media reform bill which has drawn the ire of the country’s nominal American and German allies. That development also resulted in the governing coalition fraying after the sacking of a Deputy Prime Minister and subsequent withdrawal of his party from that selfsame coalition due to their opposition to that policy. Furthermore, Poland just submitted to the EU’s “financial imperialism”. All of this coincided with Belarusian President Lukashenko signaling a “phased leadership transition” in the coming future and detained anti-government blogger Protasevich admitting that the coup against him failed.

With each of these four countries caught up in their own domestic crises, it’s therefore sensible that Lukashenko extended an olive branch to his 3SI opponents and in particular Poland with the hope that they’d accept so that everyone can then focus more on resolving their more pressing problems at home. It’s unclear whether this attempt at a so-called “non-aggression pact” will bear any fruit, but it’s a welcome development in any case. It also puts the onus on those three countries over whether or not to continue escalating regional tensions like Minsk accused Vilnius of recently doing along their shared border. The argument can be made that some of those countries, especially little Lithuania, have a self-interested desire in provoking a regional crisis in order to sabotage the US’ efforts to broker its own “non-aggression pact” with Russia and focus more on China.

Be that as it may, it’s veritably in their national interests to seriously consider Belarus’ olive branch. Latvia and Lithuania are disproportionately affected by the regional migration crisis coming from Belarus due to their small populations. Lithuania also has to confront the unexpectedly violent resistance to its COVID-19 policies on top of whatever unconventional response China might undertake following Vilnius’ decision to host a de facto so-called “Taiwanese embassy” as part of its ploy to become the US’ top regional partner. Poland is under even more pressure than both of its 3SI allies combined since it must confront the intensifying US-German Hybrid War against its ruling conservative-nationalist party. Warsaw is in no position to continue waging a US-backed proxy war against Belarus, especially since Washington is waging its own against Warsaw right now.

The 3SI-driven perpetuation of the US-backed Hybrid War on Belarus is a waste of time and money for the three vanguard states involved. They’re now paying unexpected costs along their border and in terms of the associated social instability that their failure to deal with this regional migration crisis might entail. Protasevich’s admission that the coup against Lukahsnko failed should be the final nail in the coffin of that regime change campaign. Keeping it going only drains those three 3SI states of resources that would be better invested at home during these increasingly unstable times. In particular, it distracts the Polish security services from dealing with the more urgent task of thwarting the US-German Hybrid War. Gray Cardinal Kaczynski should have hopefully realized by now that fighting this proxy war won’t protect Poland from the US’ latest plots against it.

The best-case scenario is that Poland pragmatically accepts Belarus’ olive branch even if it doesn’t publicly make too much of a fuss about it for “face-saving” reasons. That would take the wind out of Latvia’s and Lithuania’s regime change sails and encourage them to follow suit. They still might not do so though if they’ve riskily gambled that their subjectively defined national interests are best advanced by continuing that campaign at the US’ behest, but Poland’s increasingly less prominent participation in it, if not eventual abandonment of its “active measures”, would greatly neutralize its effectiveness. What’s most important is that aspiring regional hegemon Poland reconsiders its policies in this respect. Even piecemeal progress on this front could have a positive effect on the region and bolster Poland’s defenses against the US-German Hybrid War at home.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Three Seas Initiative, US, Russia, Germany, Illegal Immigration, Hybrid War, Color Revolution, Regime Change.


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The TPLF’s Double-A (Afar-Amhara) Strategy Throws Addis Ababa Into A Dilemma

The TPLF’s Double-A (Afar-Amhara) Strategy Throws Addis Ababa Into A Dilemma

11 AUGUST 2021

The TPLF

The TPLF’s “Double-A” strategy of invading both the Afar and Amhara Regions dramatically escalates Ethiopia’s undeclared civil war by throwing the capital into a dilemma whereby Addis Ababa will either have to deploy its “entire defensive capability” and “all capable Ethiopians” against the insurgents like it threatened to do or submit to their political demands if it’s not powerful enough to totally destroy them.

The “Double-A” Strategy

The undeclared Ethiopian Civil War is intensifying by the day after the TPLF implemented its “Double-A” strategy of invading both the Afar and Amhara Regions in response to what it claims is Addis Ababa’s failure to respect its own unilateral ceasefire earlier this summer by refusing to open up humanitarian corridors like it promised. What’s so surprising about this development is that inter-ethnic hostility between Tigrayans and Amharas is at an all-time high over territorial claims between their two regions, yet the TPLF has still successfully managed to sweep into part of the neighboring region and even capture its UN World Heritage Site of Lalibela which holds tremendous importance to the Amharas and most Ethiopians as well. This suggests that the region’s militia and their Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) allies weren’t strong enough to repel the insurgents’ attacks.

Addis Ababa’s Dilemma

That observation bodes very negatively for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who promised to defeat the armed forces of the formerly most influential faction of the country’s prior ruling party who his government has since designated as terrorists. The central authorities are now thrown into a dilemma whereby they’ll either have to deploy their “entire defensive capability” and “all capable Ethiopians” to stop them like they threatened to do or submit to their political demands, the most immediate of which is to lift the alleged blockade against their region which Addis Ababa denies even exists. For its part, the TPLF’s spokesman threatened that “If it takes marching to Addis to silence the guns, we will”, hinting that his forces might take their “Double-A” strategy as far as Addis Ababa and thus give their strategy’s unofficial name a dual meaning.

Foreign Meddling

The dynamics are very fluid and difficult to discern considering the lack of reliable information coming from the country right now, but a few educated inferences can still be made about the present state of affairs. Firstly, Addis Ababa is coming under intense international pressure led by the US and its Arab League allies. The first-mentioned is motivated by its strategic desire to irreparably weaken the Chinese-friendly Horn of Africa leader through Hybrid War means while the latter supports their fellow Egyptian member’s position towards the contentious Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and its speculative backing of the TPLF as a proxy force against its Ethiopian rival. The military, political, and sanctions pressure that it’s come under has considerably complicated the government’s response to this pressing crisis of national unity.

Military Dynamics

Secondly, the TPLF seems to have the military edge over the ENDF for now, at least judging by its surprise capture of Mekelle over the summer and the latest invasions of its two neighboring regions. This can be attributable to its speculative foreign backing, more battle-hardened forces, better familiarity with the terrain, and the support that they have among the locals (mostly relevant with respect to their home region). By contrast, the ENDF have no significant foreign backing, comparatively less military experience, aren’t as familiar with fighting in this part of the country’s terrain, and don’t have any serious support among the Tigrayan locals. Their resultant territorial losses over the summer – and especially those recent ones in the Afar and Amhara Regions – might have also dealt a heavy blow to their rank-and-file’s morale.

Taking The War To The Ideological Level

The third educated inference is that the battlespace is rapidly expanding from the military to the ideological level. PM Abiy’s vision of strengthening centralization processes over the country following his brief experiment with decentralization that he regards as a counterproductive failure which inadvertently threatened national unity stands in stark contrast to the TPLF’s promises of reforming Ethiopia’s former model of decentralization. Each national idea has their share of supporters and detractors who express their feelings to different extents. Those outside of Tigray who support the TPLF’s decentralization vision could pose a so-called “fifth column” challenge to the ENDF since they might sabotage them behind the front lines. The state’s fear of this scenario might lead to it overreacting through a more forceful crackdown and inadvertently provoking such attacks.

The “Scramble For Ethiopia” Scenario

Fourthly, the longer that the war rages on, the worse that Ethiopia’s humanitarian crisis will become. Not only might this undermine the developmental vision of Africa’s second most populous country, but it could also destabilize the entire Horn of Africa region too. Everything could quickly spiral out of control, especially if foreign actors like the US and/or the Arab League more directly meddle in its affairs, whether through so-called humanitarian and/or security pretexts similar to those that have been exploited over the past decade by those same parties and others in Syria. This could easily lead to Ethiopia’s de facto “Balkanization” which would forever change the regional geostrategic situation. A new so-called “Scramble for Africa” might commence whereby foreign parties carve out their own “spheres of influence” in the “Ethiopian Chessboard”.

Ethiopia’s Uncertain Administrative Future

And finally, regardless of whether the ENDF or TPLF comes out on top, Ethiopia will likely never be the same again after the end of this undeclared civil war. Everyone is now discussing its administrative future, both in terms of whether it’ll continue to centralize or return to a reformed version of decentralization and the exact nature of its contested internal borders. It’s clear that the pre-Abiy status quo will probably never return, meaning that some degree of change is inevitable, though the question is over what form it’ll take and how far it’ll go. The concern is that these expected changes might lead to increasingly unpredictable consequences, especially considering that the country’s preexisting identity divisions (ethnic/ideological/regional) have only been exacerbated by the ongoing conflict and are unlikely to be resolved through purely peaceful means.

Concluding Thoughts

The TPLF’s “Double-A” strategy can therefore be described as a game-changer since it’s now impossible to return to the fragile peace that was comparatively more likely of a scenario immediately after the ENDF’s unilateral ceasefire earlier this summer. No pragmatic compromise is possible between the two warring sides given the polar opposite nature of their ideological divisions and the interplay between them, the conflict’s fluid military dynamics, and the exacerbation of Ethiopia’s preexisting identity divisions, not to mention the foreign pressure upon PM Abiy and speculative foreign support for the TPLF. Any possible deal between the two would be to the TPLF”s advantage by default since it would at the very least result in Tigray’s de facto independence, and since that contradicts PM Abiy’s vision, he’s compelled to fight to the end or lose credibility.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: Ethiopia, Horn Of Africa, Abiy Ahmed, TPLF, ENDF, Afar, Amhara, Tigray, Hybrid War, US, Egypt.


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The US-German Hybrid War Against Poland Is Intensifying

The US-German Hybrid War Against Poland Is Intensifying

26 JULY 2021

The US-German Hybrid War Against Poland Is Intensifying

Poland has come under intensified Hybrid War attack by the US and Germany after its hoped-for Baltic Pipe’s construction has been delayed by their Danish ally, the influential Washington Post published a scathing editorial imploring American decision makers to push back against Poland’s plans to regain control of a US-owned anti-government broadcaster, and it became official that the US and Germany cut a deal with Russia over Nord Stream II.

The geostrategic situation is going from bad to worse for Poland after it came under intensified Hybrid War attack by the US and Germany at the end of July. I already chronicled the reasons for its increasingly disadvantageous position in a recent piece here which lists eight of my other relevant works on this subject. They all boil down to Poland remaining blind to the rapidly changing regional reality whereby the US and Russia are actively negotiating a so-called “non-aggression pact” which will occur at the expense of Warsaw’s national interests as it understands them to be. Germany is party to this process and hopes to take advantage of it to submit Poland to its envisioned continental hegemony. All three Great Powers are also opposed to the Warsaw-led “Three Seas Initiative” (3SI) that the former Trump Administration enthusiastically supported as a pivotal balancing force in European affairs but which the Biden one regards as geopolitically obstructive to its goals.

What recently happened is that Poland’s hoped-for Baltic Pipe’s construction was delayed by the US’ and Germany’s Danish ally. This powerfully impacts on the country’s energy security policy and will therefore compel it to continue relying on cheaper but more “politically sensitive” (from the perspective of the Polish leadership) Russian supplies. Just prior to that, the influential Washington Post published a scathing editorial imploring American decision makers to push back against Poland’s plans to regain control of a US-owned anti-government broadcaster that’s been stirring Colo Revolution unrest in the country. They ominously concluded their article by writing that “The United States must use all the leverage it can muster to ensure that independent television news in the country survives.” Finally, it became official that the US and Germany cut a deal with Russia over Nord Stream II, which Poland regards as being at the expense of its national interests.

Astute students of history might rightly compare this to the infamous “Western Betrayal” of the past century, though the consequences have yet to be as geopolitically dramatic as back then. Nevertheless, Poland is obviously at risk of losing its hard-earned sovereignty if the joint US-German Color Revolution succeeds, the country returns to being Berlin’s vassal, and the government is compelled by circumstances to finally re-engage with Russia but as a junior partner instead of the equal one that it deserves to be. There would be no need to partition Poland again since it’s now an almost entirely “ethnically pure” state apart from the growing mass of Ukrainian migrants in recent years and all foreign influence (American, German, and Russian) in the country could be managed through Donald Tusk’s Civic Platform (PO) if it returns to power. Poland used to be the subject of regional geopolitics during the Trump years, but it’s now returning to being an object under Biden.

The tragedy is that all of this was avoidable and so obvious since the start of the year. The moment that Biden’s liberal-globalist forces entered the White House, Poland’s conservative-nationalist government should have known that the German Hybrid War against them would be intensified due to Washington’s and Berlin’s shared ideological visions that contradict Warsaw’s own. The ruling Law & Justice Party (PiS) should have also immediately entered into secret talks with Russia upon learning through the media earlier this year that Biden planned to meet with Putin. Poland and Russia could have begun negotiating their own “non-aggression pact” in Belarus & Ukraine in order to boost one another’s strategic negotiating leverage vis-a-vis the US, which could have also prevented Poland from being forced to respond to whatever the US, Russia, and Germany agreed to behind its back like ultimately happened.

It’s still not too late for Poland to do this, though its own negotiating position is greatly diminished now that the Baltic Pipe has been unexpectedly delayed by the US’ and Germany’s Danish ally (likely as part of the larger US-Russian “non-aggression pact”). Russia is also keenly aware of how increasingly desperate Poland is becoming in the strategic sense so the Kremlin might demand more concessions from Warsaw when it comes to the Central European leader’s envisioned “sphere of influence” over their shared Belarusian and Ukrainian borderlands than if they began such negotiations a few months back for example. One possible way to improve its leverage in this respect would be if Poland simultaneously reached out to China as a balancing force against the US just like neighboring Ukraine recently did, became an equally important economic bridge between East and West, and then used this newfound geo-economic role to entice Russia to give it a more “balanced” deal.

Whatever it ends up doing, it’s obvious that PiS must do something to relieve the joint US-German pressure upon it and then refocus its efforts on thwarting their plans to neutralize Poland’s sovereignty. Just like fellow NATO ally Turkey pragmatically turned East in the face of unprecedented pressure from the West a few years back in order to survive the regime change onslaught against it at the time, so too must Poland do the same lest it risk irreversibly losing everything. It might be very difficult for PiS to understand for “politically correct” reasons, but its American patron just backstabbed it and sold Poland out to Germany. The end is certainly nigh unless Poland prioritizes an urgent Eastern Pivot towards Russia and China in order to safeguard its sovereignty and bolster its “Democratic Security” capabilities for fending off the joint US-German Hybrid War. If PiS fails to do so, then Poland will be forced to submit to German hegemony, from which it’ll never escape.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: US, Germany, Poland, Regime Change, Color Revolution, Hybrid War, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, China, Three Seas Initiative.


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Is Foreign Meddling In Ethiopia Actually A Proxy War Against China?

Is Foreign Meddling In Ethiopia Actually A Proxy War Against China?

5 JULY 2021

Is Foreign Meddling In Ethiopia Actually A Proxy War Against China?

The US, its Western allies, and the Arab League must stop meddling in Ethiopia’s internal affairs and the GERD issue should be resolved via African Union-led talks, not the UNSC.

Africa’s second most populous country of Ethiopia has recently experienced a surge in foreign meddling over the past year. This former kingdom, which was among the world’s oldest prior to its 1974 revolution, has always proudly defended its independence. Emperor Menelik II defeated the Italians in 1896 and secured his compatriots’ independence during the height of European colonialism. One of his successors, Emperor Haile Selassie, promoted the Ethiopian cause at the League of Nations after Italy’s fascist invasion in the run-up to World War II. His efforts generated global sympathy for Ethiopia and etched its struggle in the minds of many.

In the present day, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is following in the tradition of his predecessors by standing firm against the latest foreign meddling campaigns that once again threaten Ethiopia’s independence. The most pressing is the American-led Western pressure against him following his decision to commence a law enforcement operation in the rebellious Tirgray Region last November. To oversimplify a complex situation, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) – previously the most powerful member of Ethiopia’s former ruling coalition – broke with PM Abiy, launched a separatist campaign, and was designated a terrorist group.

The TPLF was upset at the pace and scope and PM Abiy’s ambitious socio-economic reforms. They were also reportedly very unhappy with his success in ending Ethiopia’s nearly two-decade-long conflict with neighboring Eritrea which separated from the former in 1993 following a three-decade-long struggle. PM Abiy was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for ending this war. Although he began his rule by implying a vision of broader decentralization, PM Abiy ultimately had to recalibrate his policies due to the inadvertently centrifugal consequences thereof. This generated dissent among some of its diverse people that the TPLF then exploited.

The lingering conflict there has prompted US-led Western accusations of war crimes against the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF), which in turn were the pretext for Washington to impose sanctions against several individuals allegedly linked to them. America is also leading the charge in warning about a supposedly impending famine in the Tigray Province that its perception managers strongly imply would be solely due to the ENDF. Furthermore, an airstrike in the region last month is reported to have caused many civilian casualties, thus leading to more US pressure. Addis Ababa described all of this as an “orchestrated attack” against Ethiopia.

Concurrent with this is another meddling campaign led by Egypt through the Arab League. Cairo accuses Addis Ababa of weaponizing the Nile River due to its plans to fill the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The North African state recently succeeded in getting the Arab League to call on the UNSC to intervene in this dispute. Ethiopia, meanwhile, believes that only an African Union-led resolution is acceptable. China also supports this proposal, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said earlier this month that his country opposes foreign interference in Ethiopia’s internal affairs.

The recent surge in foreign meddling there might be part of a proxy war against Chinese interests in Africa. Ethiopia’s developmental paradigm was powerfully influenced by China’s after the end of the former’s civil war in 1991. China is Ethiopia’s top trade and investment partner. The People’s Republic also helped construct the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway, which serves as the Belt & Road Initiative’s (BRI) flagship project in the Horn of Africa. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ethiopia was Africa’s fastest-growing economy. The Chinese-Ethiopian Strategic Partnership is mutually beneficial and serves as a shining example of South-South cooperation.

Foreign meddling aims to undermine this partnership and could potentially result in Ethiopia’s disastrous “Balkanization” in the worst-case scenario. This makes Ethiopia the latest victim of Hybrid War, and the stakes couldn’t be higher considering that it’s Africa’s second most populous country. Nevertheless, just as it’s historically done, Ethiopia is standing strong against the latest foreign pressure. The US, its Western allies, and the Arab League must stop meddling in Ethiopia’s internal affairs and the GERD issue should be resolved via African Union-led talks, not the UNSC. No matter what happens, Ethiopia can always count on China’s support.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: Ethiopia, China, Eritrea, Tigray, US, Egypt, Arab League, Regime Change, Hybrid War, GERD, Horn Of Africa, BRI.


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Polish-US Missile Defense Co-Op Is A Strategic Smokescreen

Polish-US Missile Defense Co-Op Is A Strategic Smokescreen

24 JUNE 2021

Polish-US Missile Defense Co-Op Is A Strategic Smokescreen

The prevailing uncertainty about the future of Polish-US relations following Biden’s publicly expressed desire to improve relations with Russia won’t affect their military cooperation as proven by the latest progress made in deploying elements of America’s “missile defense shield” in this aspiring Central & Eastern European hegemon, but this development will likely also be exploited as a smokescreen to obscure the ongoing joint US-German Hybrid War against Poland’s conservative-nationalist government.

The US’ Missile Defense Agency announced earlier this week that it’s begun deploying elements of its “missile defense shield” (MDS) in Poland, the aspiring hegemon of the Central & Eastern European (CEE) space. This decision predated Biden’s publicly expressed desire last week during his Geneva Summit with President Putin to repair relations with Russia, a move that unexpectedly threw the future of Polish-American relations into uncertainty. I elaborated on the emerging differences of grand strategic vision between these allied nations in an analysis last week that also explored their possible consequences. This latest development shows that their ties will remain stable at the military level despite very serious political disagreements.

While the present liberal-globalist American administration doesn’t like the Polish conservative-nationalist one all that much, the US’ permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) are in agreement that the CEE country’s geostrategic locations means that their MDS cooperation mustn’t be sacrificed because of it, let alone as part of an incipient rapprochement with Russia. A few clarifying points must be mentioned at this time in order for the reader to better understand the US’ strategic calculus. Improving relations with Russia will enable the US to redeploy some of its CEE forces to the Asia-Pacific in an attempt to more aggressively “contain” China there as well as spark an Asian arms race to assist with that.

Upon the MDS’ complete deployment in Poland, the US will be able to militarily “contain” Russia a lot more effectively without having to rely on the same number of troops as before. Furthermore, this system will help to partially reassure the Poles that their paranoid fears of being “sold out” to Moscow aren’t justified, which might in turn prevent or at the very least decelerate Poland’s possible pivot to China in response that I proposed in the analysis cited in the first paragraph of this present piece. To be clear, however, Russia doesn’t even need to be “contained” since it harbors no aggressive intentions against its neighbors, but this false notion has been weaponized in order to exploit the CEE countries’ “negative nationalism” against it for pro-American purposes.

In fact, the very concept of a MDS is deceitful since it doesn’t aim to “protect” the US and its allies, but to undercut Russia’s nuclear second-strike capabilities and therefore advance America’s devious plans to possibly one day place the Eurasian Great Power in a position of nuclear blackmail. The two-decade-long unofficial arms race between these two that was sparked by Bush Jr.’s decision to withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty prompted Russia to double down on its hypersonic missile research and development, thus recently resulting in Moscow achieving global dominance in this field. It didn’t aspire to this envious position for aggressive purposes, but solely to defend itself from the above-mentioned scenario of nuclear blackmail.

Nevertheless, the Poles don’t see it that way at all because the US (and also Germany to a large extent) have masterfully manipulated their “negative nationalism” in such a way that many of these people and especially their present leadership are almost pathologically obsessed at this point with “containing” Russia. They take the MDS’ officially stated purpose at face value and might even delight in provoking Russia despite how dangerous this could be for them in the worst-case scenario of a US/NATO-Russia war. This latest MDS development will therefore likely succeed in reassuring them of the US’ military support in the event that Poland’s extremely improbable fear of a so-called “Russian invasion” ever comes to pass.

At the same time, however, the US and Germany will probably continue to undermine the present Polish government for ideological reasons related to their liberal-globalist vision. This schizophrenic policy of militarily supporting it while politically subverting it should be obvious to all objective observers but is regrettably lost on most Poles due to their intense “negative nationalism” against Russia. Their leadership also appears to naively believe that the MDS’ deployment on their territory might also politically shield them from the ongoing US-German Hybrid War, though this is nothing but a groundless wishful thinking fallacy. The reality is that Poland is being played by its so-called “allies” much worse than it could have ever imagined that Russia would play it.

The MDS therefore serves several purposes: it enables the US to more effectively “contain” Russia; thus freeing it up to redeploy some of its CEE forces to the Asia-Pacific to more aggressively “contain” China; and it functions as a smokescreen to obscure Washington and Berlin’s ongoing Hybrid War against Poland’s conservative-nationalist government by superficially reassuring them of the US’ supposedly “positive” strategic intentions. Regardless of the government in power, US-Polish military relations will remain strong even if solely as a result of their MDS cooperation, though this won’t stop the joint Washington-German Hybrid War on Warsaw. Naively believing otherwise will only result in getting Poland to put its strategic guard down even more.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: US, Poland, Missile Shield, Arms Race, Russia, China, New Detente, New Cold War, Germany, Color Revolution, Regime Change, Hybrid War.


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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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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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Is There Any Hope Left For The Horn Of Africa?

19 MAY 2021

Is There Any Hope Left For The Horn Of Africa?

The high hopes that many had for a radical improvement of the situation in the Horn of Africa just a few short years ago have been shattered by a combination of internal and international conflicts centered on Ethiopia, but it might be premature to predict that the region won’t ever recover since Prime Minister Abiy could drastically turn everything around once more should he have the political will to do so.

What Went Wrong?

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s ascent to power in Africa’s second most populous country a few years back inspired high hopes for a radical improvement of the situation in the Horn of Africa. His rhetoric was regarded as an almost revolutionary departure from his predecessors’ and he quickly set out to patch up his country’s years-long conflict with neighboring Eritrea, for which he later was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. This makes it all the more surprising to many observers that the region is once again beset by a slew of internal and international conflicts centered on his country, making them wonder whether something had went wrong or if they hadn’t properly assessed the situation to begin with. The answer to this question is complex, but the present analysis will attempt to address it in a relatively simple way for the sake of everyone’s understanding.

Background Briefing

To bring unaware readers up to speed, they’re encouraged to read the author’s prior works on this topic:

* 25 June 2019: “Ethiopia’s Failed Coup Attempt Almost Pushed The Country To The Edge Of Collapse

* 26 October 2020: “Ethiopia’s Internal Contradictions Might Lead To Its Collapse

* 24 November 2020: “The Consequences Of Ethiopia’s Civil Conflict Will Be Acute

The rest of the analysis will reference and build upon the insight above.

Ethiopia’s Glasnost & Perestroika Experiment

The problems that have popped up in recent years weren’t exactly unexpected. For instance, Ethiopia’s federal system was always considered to be imperfect though nevertheless manageable under its prior leaders after the end of the civil war. Some internal borders didn’t match up with the ethnic demographics on the ground, thereby planting the seeds for future conflict but delaying their growth until a time that the central government became comparatively weaker than it used to be. That moment arrived with Abiy after he preached his political gospel of changing the state of political affairs in his country, particularly by loosening the reins of power that the ruling coalition held over practically all matters. This combination of Ethiopian-style glasnost and perestroika was well-intended but risked spiraling out of control exactly as its Soviet forerunner did.

Trouble With The TPLF

Instead of sitting back and letting centrifugal forces tear his cosmopolitan nation apart as he feared would inevitably happen, Abiy reacted by reversing his liberal vision and reviving some of the centralization tendencies of his predecessors. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), formerly the most powerful member of the ruling coalition, broke with Abiy and threatened an insurgency in their eponymous region that was powerfully crushed by the central government over the past half-year to much international criticism. The ongoing conflict continues to rage at a lower intensity than before and has caused much concern among observers about its humanitarian consequences which currently remain unclear due to a lack of access by independent observers.

Balkanization” Fears

The alternative to war was always to continue with the track that he’d previously set with his rhetoric of loosening the reins up to the point of redefining the nature of Ethiopia’s federal system, but Abiy believed that this might “Balkanize” his country, hence why he reacted the way that he did. There’s no turning back the clock and doing things differently so that decision will go down in history as a pivotal moment for better or for worse. Critics claim that he returned Ethiopia to its dictatorial ways while supporters praise him for decisively safeguarding national unity and therefore setting an example to the other separatist groups that are active all across the country. In any case, considering the fact that the conflict remains unresolved and continues to reverberate throughout society, it can be said that the short-term consequences were destabilizing.

Eritrea’s Speculative Influence Over Ethiopia

It’s important to point out that neighboring Eritrea with whom Ethiopia had only recently entered into a rapid rapprochement dispatched troops to the rebellious Tigray region where they reportedly remain despite having promised to officially withdraw. This development internationalized Ethiopia’s internal conflict and therefore raised the stakes of its outcome. It also fueled speculation that long-ruling President Afwerki is secretly puling Abiy’s strings and might have even succeeded in imposing his desired vision upon the region as expressed by Al Jazeera contributor Goitom Gebreluel in his op-ed about “The Tripartite Alliance Destabilizing The Horn Of Africa”. The expert drew attention to other destabilizing trends such as the de facto changes to some of Ethiopia’s internal borders following the Amhara Region’s military occupation of parts of Tigray.

Geopolitical Competition Between China & The GCC

Gebreluel is also against what he described as the widespread disregard for international humanitarian law and the sharp decline in multilateral diplomacy. These are pertinent points and his concerns should be taken seriously. Missing from his detailed analysis, however, is reference to how the Horn of Africa has recently become an object of competition between rising powers. Chinese investments are now challenged by those from the GCC, particularly Saudi Arabia and especially the UAE. Beijing’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) ambitions risk being dealt a massive blow by the latest round of multi-sided destabilization in the region, which can create strategic opportunities for the GCC. It also deserves mention that the US is no longer exerting is post-Old Cold War leadership over the region. It’s unclear what the impact of this is though since it hasn’t been studied much.

The GERD Dispute

The heated dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) continues to afflict the region and provoke fears of a conventional military clash between Ethiopia on one side and GCC-backed Egypt and Sudan on the other. Observers should also remember that Ethiopia and Sudan have recently revived their old territorial dispute, potentially creating the pretext for another conflict that could actually serve as a smokescreen for either of them going to war over the GERD. As for Somalia, which is also mentioned in Gebreluel’s piece, its leader finally relented on his prior attempt to postpone elections that was responsible for provoking a brief round of bloodshed. He also repaired his country’s relations with Kenya too. Ironically, while Somalia is regarded as the least stable of the region’s countries, its recent actions were actually stabilizing.

The Role Of Leadership Over Regional Events

What can be learned from the Somali case is that a lot depends on the political decisions made by the region’s leaders. This is evidenced by everything going on in Ethiopia related to its internal and international conflicts. Abiy made the fateful decision to militarily intervene in Tigray, which created a humanitarian crisis that continues to this day even if national unity was preserved, albeit in a more centralized fashion than the decentralized one that his supporters had earlier expected. The GERD dispute is also largely due to the relevant leaders being unable to reach a pragmatic compromise. To be fair, there are serious ecological, economic, geopolitical, and strategic issues at play which take precedence over the personal opinions of any given leader, but these heads of state are ultimately responsible for it remaining unresolved.

Ethiopia’s Strategic Centrality

Ethiopia’s regional centrality leads one to conclude that “as Ethiopia goes, so goes the region”, which is proven by empirical evidence. The country’s recent round of multi-sided destabilization (regardless of whomever or whatever one attributes this to) has powerfully reverberated all throughout the Horn of Africa. The centralization trend that Abiy nowadays obviously supports sends the signal that decentralization trends, especially those advanced through the use of arms like Tigray’s was, will be militantly opposed by the region’s other leaders. At the same time, however, there’s no denying that decentralization is an objectively observable global trend and one that does indeed have some merits in the Horn of Africa. Alas, it won’t see any success in the immediate future considering the fear that Abiy has of it inadvertently provoking “Balkanization”.

Redrawing Internal Administrative Borders

Going forward, however, responsibly managed decentralization should be seriously considered by him and others as a compromise solution for resolving myriad internal issues, especially those of an ethnic nature. Ethiopia’s internal borders remain imperfect, but they shouldn’t be de facto redrawn through one region’s partial military occupation of another like the Amhara Region is presently doing to Tigray. This leads to the large-scale exodus of local people which can arguably be described as ethnic cleansing even if that wasn’t the intent. Replicating this model deeper in the Ethiopian heartland around the Oromo periphery for example could be disastrous for the country and potentially spell its doom in the worst-case scenario. From the opposite view, however, the peaceful resolution of such heated disputes could set an excellent example for the region.

The Most Powerful Man In Africa

What everything ultimately comes down to is the influence of leadership, especially in the Horn of Africa. For better or for worse depending on one’s perspective, Abiy is the most powerful man in the region, which thus makes him among Africa’s most powerful leaders today. His decisions set the trend that all neighboring countries follow. With this in mind, there’s still hope for the Horn of Africa, but it all depends on what Abiy decides to do. As seen from the example set by the neighboring Somali leader, backtracking on a controversial decision might improve the situation in one’s country, but Somalia is of course very different than Ethiopia so the comparison is admittedly imperfect. Nevertheless, this still shows that the region’s leaders exert powerful influence over national affairs, once again for better or for worse. Abiy could for example eventually take steps to restore the de facto collective leadership model that he inherited from the TPLF, though only if he cares to.

From A Party To A Person Being “The First Among Equals”

To explain, the post-civil war ruling coalition was largely modeled off of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Despite its faults, it succeeded in retaining stability in this very diverse country and controlling its centrifugal tendencies, albeit through heavy handed measures. Abiy retained that strict style of leadership but attempted to reform the dynamics of the ruling coalition, which in turn inadvertently destabilized the country since it was so unprecedented in the post-civil war period. Instead of the TPLF being “the first among equals”, it became him personally who fulfilled that role. His outsized influence over all matter of governing affairs has been felt by everyone, again for better or for worse. In a sense, it’s a return to history, but his evolving leadership model must continue adjusting to contemporary realities, especially the dynamics that he’s responsible for unleashing.

Ethiopia’s Most Immediate Priorities

Preserving superficial decentralization while in practice increasing centralization trends risks worsening domestic dissent, especially among the majority-minority Oromo and smaller groups around the country’s periphery. Abiy is unlikely to ever follow the Somali model of much broader decentralization for each region but some substantive movement in that direction with time might help placate some of those who’ve been provoked by his leadership style. The most immediate priority though is stopping the growing inter-ethnic violence of the past year which is driven to a large extent by various groups trying to redraw internal borders to more closely align with demographic realities on the ground. Only once this is brought under control can the state seriously start discussing the adjustment of those contentious frontiers.

The Tigrayan Tinderbox Risks Spreading Throughout Ethiopia

It mustn’t be driven by inertia into letting events unfold “naturally” and creating fait accomplis lest the resultant violence worsen the country’s already tragic humanitarian situation. Although Abiy is trying to regain control of these centrifugal dynamics, critics allege that he might secretly be turning a blind eye to some of the violence out of speculative favoritism for one or another group. This risks deepening the country’s ethnic divisions as well as the growing gap between the central government and some of the governed. What’s happening right now in Tigray might therefore spread throughout the rest of the country as Ethiopia flirts with its own so-called “Great Reset”, albeit related to redrawing internal borders and continuing Abiy’s centralization trends instead of the socio-economic outcomes generally associated with that concept (i.e. “Fourth Industrial Revolution”).

An Outsider’s Proposed Solutions

From an outsider’s perspective, Ethiopia must immediately regain control over the security situation in all parts of the country without exception, though being careful not to overreact to certain conflicts. Then Abiy must compellingly articulate his envisioned governance model to the masses. Ideally, credible representatives from each region will either support him or offer constructive critiques to whatever he proposes with an aim to improve perceived shortcomings. Only after that happens can the country then consider redrawing some of its internal borders, though that process will of course be controversial and not everyone will be satisfied with the outcome. Amid all of this, Abiy must balance between the competing external forces shaping his decision making, particularly Eritrea and the GCC, while retaining Ethiopia’s traditionally excellent relations with China.

Concluding Thoughts

For as dramatic of a comparison as it may be, Abiy’s Ethiopia has many parallels with Gorbachev’s Soviet Union. Both visionary leaders sought to revolutionize their systems of governance but inadvertently opened up a Pandora’s Box of domestic crises. Unlike the USSR, however, Ethiopia still has a chance of surviving as a unified state, though it must eventually make meaningful reforms in the direction of substantive decentralization after stabilizing the security situation throughout the country. Abiy might also do well to consider returning to more of a collective leadership model than the one that he presently rules over where he personally wields the most power as the so-called ‘first among equals”. In any case, it all comes down to leadership, and everyone’s hopes are resting on his shoulders to see what he’ll do next.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Tigray, Hybrid War.


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