The US Won’t Succeed In Provoking Another Color Revolution In China
9 JUNE 2021
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 HybridWar 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.
Western Sahara Casts A Shadow Over AFRICOM’s African Lion Exercises
7 JUNE 2021
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.
China’s Promise Of Full Support To Syria Might Be A Geopolitical Game-Changer
4 JUNE 2021
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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 KarabakhWar, 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 WorldWarC, 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.
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.
Poland’s Counterproductive Foreign Policy Is Responsible For Its Present Predicament
2 JUNE 2021
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 prettypopular, 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.
Turkey’s Military Engagement With The Lublin Triangle Aims To Balance Russia
27 MAY 2021
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.
A publicly available expert-level newsletter on Mozambique news reports and clippings from the middle of May predicts that France might launch a limited military intervention in northern Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado Province in order to protect the offshore energy deposits of its national champion Total, which necessitates an analysis of such a move’s strategic consequences if it does indeed come to pass.
A Must-Read Report About Mozambique
The 16 May edition of the “Mozambique News Reports & Clippings” expert-level newsletter predicts that France might launch a limited military intervention in northern Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado Province in order to protect the offshore energy deposits of its national champion Total that are threatened by a newfound insurgency that some have linked to ISIS. Editor Joseph Hanlon does an excellent job educating his audience about this scenario and it’s highly recommended that all interested readers review his work in full. What follows are some of the main points that he put forth in his newsletter in the order that they’re introduced:
* There’s a growing debate behind the scenes in Europe over whether France should receive an exclusive security corridor in northern Mozambique or if a Portuguese-led EU force should take the lead instead
* Whatever is ultimately decided upon, it’ll probably take at least two years before any visible progress is made on the ground against the insurgents/terrorists
* ISIS is likely to exploit the optics of a foreign military intervention in order to increase both its reported role in the combat as well as its international recruitment efforts
* Domestic political infighting in Mozambique and subsequent politicization of the conflict suggests that there won’t be any clear consensus on it until after the next presidential elections in 2025
* Influential international associations regard the offshore region of northern Mozambique as a conflict zone at risk of piracy and other threats, thereby raising insurance costs for ships operating in those waters
* Maritime security can either be achieved unilaterally by France or jointly through it, South Africa, India (which has a base in nearby Mauritius), and Mozambique carrying out patrols there
* France might replicate the Baghdad Green Zone model to protect energy-relevant localities in the northern Mozambican mainland through walls, barbed wire, drone surveillance of the area, and other such measures
* There’s talk that France might even take control of the nearby vacation resort island of Vamizi in order to base helicopters, attack and surveillance boats, and drone control systems there
* The other foreign military players to keep an eye on are Portugal, the US, Rwanda, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), EU, and private military contractors (PMCs, which France might also employ)
* Nevertheless, military intervention might not address the possible socio-economic and political roots of the conflict but only combat its terrorist manifestations, potentially creating another Mali, Somalia, or Libya
Hanlon’s points are all very important and should be deeply reflected upon by all interested readers. Building upon his implied prediction that France is the most likely party to take the lead in this growing conflict, it therefore follows that one should conduct an analysis of the strategic consequences of such a move if it indeed comes to pass. France is regarded as Africa’s military hegemon despite being located in Europe due to the commanding influence that it wields in its former colonies that are commonly referred to as “Françafrique”. Mozambique, however, lays outside of France’s traditional “sphere of influence” in Africa.
Paris’ interest in the country stems from its vast offshore energy reserves that national champion Total planned to develop before the conflict erupted a few years back. These resources were initially expected to be a game-changer for the Mozambican people who remain among the world’s poorest. Regrettably, large-scale international corruption scandals in recent years ruined the ruling Frelimo party’s reputation and it’s now widely feared that these hydrocarbon riches probably won’t end up making much of a difference for the average Mozambican at the end of the day.
Even so, they’re significant enough of a find to have a powerful impact on the industry upon their future development, which adds a conspiratorial dimension of sorts to the conflict since some have speculated that foreign forces might be backing the insurgency/terrorism so as to delay those projects’ completion. In any case, it doesn’t seem like they’ll come online anytime soon considering the worsening intensity of the violence there, hence the reason why Paris is contemplating a military intervention in order to save its national champion’s investment.
Indian Ocean Region Conflicts
Observers should take note of Mozambique’s geostrategic location astride the southwestern reaches of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) that’s nowadays considered to be the world’s most important body of water as all 21st-century processes increasingly converge there. Although Mozambique isn’t located near any European-Asian trade routes, it still sits near the French islands of Mayotte and Réunion. This convenience could facilitate any prospective French military intervention, which in that scenario would mark the country’s participation in its first IOR conflict.
At the moment, the IOR is the scene of four armed conflicts – northern Mozambique, Somalia, Yemen, and Myanmar. The first two are closer in essence than the others, ergo Hanlon’s earlier mentioned fear of the former transforming into a variation of the latter with time. Both also count ISIS among the warring parties, albeit to questionable extents in each. For this reason, any French military intervention would be an energy-driven spiritual expansion of its ongoing Operation Barkhane mission in the Sahel that’s been launched on an anti-terrorist basis despite having ulterior interests as well such as stopping large-scale immigration to the EU.
The Franco-Indian Strategic Partnership
Seeing as how India considers the entire IOR to lay within its envisioned “sphere of influence” despite presently lacking the military capabilities to exert hard power all throughout this domain, it’s possible that New Delhi might consider playing a minimal role in the conflict even if only for prestige’s sake. This explains why Hanlon brought up the country’s naval base in Mauritius’ North Agalega island. Most realistically, India could carry out highly publicized joint anti-piracy missions, perhaps even emphasizing any partnered role with nearby South Africa so as to portray it a a partial BRICS operation in order to deflect criticism of following France’s lead.
On the topic of Franco-Indian relations, the two Great Powers signed a military logistics pact in 2018 which enables them to use one another’s bases. Many at the time thought that this might see India expanding its naval presence in the Horn of Africa via France’s outpost in its former colony of Djibouti or perhaps paying more frequent visits to the French islands of the South Pacific to support Australia’s reassertion of traditional influence there against China. It now appears possible that the Southeast African country of Mozambique might be where the French-Indian military partnership first “cuts its teeth” so to speak.
From the French perspective, the primary mission is to secure Total’s investments. All other objectives are secondary and perhaps even beyond its intentions to tackle. This means that France might easily succeed with its actual mission but fail in the soft power realm if it isn’t as forthcoming with its true intentions and instead clothes its intervention in anti-terrorist rhetoric similar to its Sahel mission. In other words, even if France “wins” what it wants, it might still “lose” in the eyes of the world unless it engages in the dangerous trend of “mission creep” to expand its military “sphere of influence” there to ultimately stop the insurgency/terrorism.
France probably wouldn’t take that step unilaterally, which is why it’s more likely to expect that it’ll lead a multinational force whether on its own or perhaps in joint partnership with fellow EU-member and Mozambique’s former colonizer Portugal together with a formidable army of PMCs. Even so, since neither of them have the primary mission of stopping the insurgency/terrorism, they might not make much progress right away, instead relying more on PMCs and the Mozambican military to do such “dirty” and highly dangerous work for them though of course under their supervision.
With this in mind, one needs to consider how this mission would be sold to the rest of the world. The anti-terrorist angle is the most obvious one, but as mentioned, France’s interests in this respect aren’t all that sincere, nor for that matter are Portugal’s, since their involvement is really all about energy geopolitics, as is every foreign party’s as well. Presenting it in such a way also leads to high expectations for visible progress on the ground, which likely won’t be forthcoming anytime soon especially considering that it’s heavily forested terrain and France can’t even succeed in stopping insurgency/terrorism in the barren Sahel.
It might therefore end up being that they hype up their intent to “contain” the military threat instead of outright stop it. This would lead to more realistic expectations than talking about completely wiping out the insurgents/terrorists and appear as less selfish than being transparent about the true energy motivations. It would also engender wider support, perhaps even among domestic critics in those two EU countries and more broadly in the West since it’s veritably a virtuous mission (at least on the surface) to want to stop the spread of such threats into Tanzania and elsewhere.
To wrap it all up, France doesn’t appear to have many expected costs associated with its possible military intervention in northern Mozambique while standing to gain quite a lot in terms of energy interests and Great Power prestige, especially if it leads a multinational force in this conflict. Presenting its mission in terms of “containing” insurgency/terrorist threats instead of intending to completely wipe them out (at least right away) would also temper expectations and increase international appeal, including among India and South Africa who might participate in joint anti-piracy missions. For these reasons, Hanlon’s general prediction is very credible.
Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev told Sputnik earlier this week that the US is secretly developing biological weapons in some of the biolabs that it funds all across the world, building upon previous accusations that he made in the past regarding the danger that such facilities in former Soviet states pose to his country and the rest of the world more broadly.
Biological warfare has been on the tip of many people’s tongues since the outbreak of COVID-19 last year after many speculated that the virus was really a bioweapon that had accidentally leaked from a Chinese biolab. Although the World Health Organization’s (WHO) latest study into the matter concluded that this theory is extremely unlikely, the narrative still persists to this day. Regardless of its ultimate veracity or lack thereof, this interpretation of events sparked widespread interest in the danger that biological weapons programs pose to humanity. It’s with this in mind that everyone should listen really closely to what Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev recently had to say about such threats.
He told Sputnik earlier this week that “In recent years, the US and its NATO allies have significantly stepped up biological research in many countries across the world. The US is developing individual action plans for each country based on the needs of national biological programmes, primarily military ones.” This builds upon what he said last month in an interview with the popular Russian business daily Kommersant where he accused America of developing such weapons in close proximity to his country’s and China’s borders. Unlike what Western pundits claim about him sensationally exploiting the COVID-19 outbreak for political reasons, Patrushev has actually been warning about these threats since as early as 2015 according to RT.
So seriously does Russia take this danger that Foreign Minister Lavrov just agreed to a biosecrutiy pact with Armenia during his latest visit to the South Caucasus country which holds the ignoble distinction of hosting one of those American facilities. It also hopes to reach similar agreements with other former Soviet states that have allowed the US to so provocatively operate within their borders. The top Russian diplomat said last May that “We have reached an intergovernmental memorandum with Tajikistan, are working on a similar document with our colleagues from Uzbekistan and are in consultations with other post-Soviet countries, including Kazakhstan, Armenia and other neighbors.”
Of consistent concern for Russia has been the US biolab in neighboring Georgia. Moscow voiced concerns about that facility in 2013 and then again in 2018, during which time Russian officials claimed that the lab was linked to over 70 deaths. The South Caucasus country’s former Minister of State Security publicly speculated that same year that the site was secretly a biological weapons center. The US and Georgia both deny the allegations, but amid unconfirmed claims that COVID-19 might have leaked from a Chinese biolab despite the WHO’s latest study dismissing that theory, it’s understandable why Russia would at the very least want to ensure that such an accident doesn’t ever happen right on its own borders.
As I wrote in an op-ed in April 2020 for CGTN, “The U.S. Needs To Open Up About Its Biological Laboratories In The Former USSR”. That’s the only way to put everyone’s legitimate worries at ease and prevent any accidental leaks of whatever it is that America might really be testing there. Nevertheless, these well-intended concerns have been dishonestly misportrayed as “disinformation” by the Western Mainstream Media, which claims that any talk about those facilities is nothing more than a “conspiracy theory” that’s possibly being peddled at the behest of the Russian security services. That’s not true, and it would be equally legitimate for average Americans to demand transparency of any Russian biolabs near its borders if they were ever built there.
Patrushev isn’t pushing an information warfare narrative but is publicly expressing his country’s legitimate security concerns about the shadowy biolabs that its peer competitor built in its backyard. These facilities might be exactly what they say they are, innocuous sites for testing various diseases and whatnot, or they might really be secret bioweapon factories. Nobody really knows for sure until the US and/or its former Soviet partners finally open up about what’s truly going on there. Russia is demanding answers on behalf of the whole world, and slowly but surely, it hopes to receive them before it’s too late and an accident happens at one of those sites which might make COVID-19 look like child’s play in hindsight.
Many observers missed the US’ designation in early March of Mozambique’s “Al Shabaab” as an ISIS-affiliated global terrorist organization and its subsequent dispatch of roughly a dozen Green Berets to the country to aid the national military in its counter-terrorist operations, but this development signals that the Southern African state has importantly become the newest front in America’s “Global War On Terror”.
The US’ newest front in its “Global War On Terror” has officially opened in the Southern African state of Mozambique following the State Department’s designation in early March of the country’s “Al Shabaab” as an ISIS-affiliated global terrorist organization and the subsequent dispatch of roughly a dozen Green Berets there to aid the national military in its counter-terrorist operations. Many observers missed these developments, perhaps because they were too busy paying attention to the latest twists and turns of what I describe as WorldWarC, or the world’s uncoordinated attempt to contain COVID-19 which catalyzed full-spectrum paradigm-changing processes across every sphere of life. I warned last September that “Mozambique Might Require Foreign Military Assistance To Clean Up Its Hybrid War Mess” after it became clear that the country couldn’t tackle this pressing task on its own, nor were its previously reported private military contractor (PMC) partners able to sufficiently assist it to this end. That prediction ultimately came to pass in March.
American interests in Southern Africa are varied, but they share the common objective of pushing back against regional multipolar trends, particularly China’s rising influence there. In the Mozambican case, the country stands the chance of becoming one of the world’s top LNG exporters in the future should its vast northern offshore gas deposits that are uncoincidentally in close proximity to the current terrorist-afflicted zone be fully tapped. There had hitherto been some serious concerns on the US’ part that Chinese influence in Mozambique could indirectly shape the global energy industry, as well as facilitate Beijing’s efforts to more closely connect the landlocked countries beyond to its Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) through trans-Mozambican commercial corridors. These fears are now somewhat more manageable as the US expands its own influence in the country through its close military cooperation with its partner’s armed forces for the purpose of jointly defeating this newly designated ISIS affiliate.
History attests, however, that the US’ motives aren’t ever truly benign and that it always takes advantage of anti-terrorist pretexts in order to pursue ulterior objectives. The evolving anti-terrorist situation in Mozambique is no exception since it deserves mention that the earlier cited State Department designation also imposed the same label on the anti-Ugandan “Allied Democratic Forces” (ADF) that have been operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for a few decades already. That group is responsible for carrying out large-scale killings and other acts of terrorism, and its pairing with Mozambique’s “Al Shabaab” as part of ISIS’ larger “Central African Province” proxy network creates the pretext for the US to turn the entire Central-Eastern-Southern African theater into the latest front of its more comprehensive anti-terrorist operations should the Pentagon have the political will to exploit the situation to this end. Once again, the true objective would be to roll back China’s rising influence in this strategic space.
To be absolutely clear, genuine terrorist groups – especially those connected to ISIS – must be thwarted at all costs lest they continue carrying out greater acts of carnage and thus catalyze an uncontrollable chain reaction of destabilization that ultimately risks turning this transregional space into a black hole of chaos similar in a sense to what previously happened in parts of the West Asia (especially along the Syrian-Iraqi border) and is currently unfolding in West Africa. That said, while anti-terrorist cooperation with the US might achieve short-term military goals for America’s partners such as Mozambique, it might eventually be against their long-term strategic interests if the US exploits its “military diplomacy” over these increasingly desperate governments to impose political strings to continued security cooperation upon which those states might soon become dependent. In a perfect world, no such fears would credibly exist, but as previously mentioned, history proves that these concerns are completely founded by established precedent.
With this in mind, the ideal solution would be if terrorist-afflicted states didn’t have to rely on the US for anti-terrorist assistance, but the reality is that they seem to have little choice. China doesn’t partake in anti-terrorist operations abroad though it does train some of its BRI partners’ military forces, presumably also sharing its own domestic anti-terrorist experiences in the process. As for Russia, it’s developing bespoke “Democratic Security” solutions (counter-HybridWarfare tactics and strategies) for GlobalSouth states such as the CentralAfricanRepublic, the Congo Republic, and most recently Togo, but its model is still far from perfect and thus requires plenty of improvements before such services are exported more broadly. This difficult state of strategic affairs compelled Mozambique to eventually request the US’ anti-terrorist assistance as its Hybrid War mess in Cabo Delgado Province spiraled out of control over the past few years, though it remains to be seen exactly what political strings America will attach to its continued security support in this respect.
Is The Quad Plotting To Provoke A Proxy War With China In The Solomon Islands?
4 SEPTEMBER 2020
The leader of the Solomon Islands province of Malaita announced earlier this week that his region will seek independence from the central government due to its disagreement with the capital over the latter’s recognition of Beijing last year as the legitimate government of China, which could dangerously plunge this underdeveloped nation back into a state of civil conflict that could then be exploited by the Quad as a proxy war for “containing” Chinese influence in the South Pacific through “Balkanization”.
From The Global Periphery To The Center Of Attention
The South Pacific, long regarded as a far-flung region that’s largely irrelevant to all major countries apart from nearby Australia, has increasingly figured more prominent in global media reports over the past few years as the West has sought to portray this part of the world as the latest theater in the West’sNew Cold Warwith China. The narrative goes that China’s recent inroads through its Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) and some regional states’ decisions to recognize Beijing as the legitimate government of China has given the People’s Republic the opportunity to expand its influence there, which is being portrayed in a zero-sum manner as supposedly being a threat to Western interests. Political tensions have been building over the past year as more pressure was put upon these countries by their traditional Western partners to either reverse their relations with Beijing or at the very least “balance” them out by re-engaging with the Australia and/or the US, two of the four countries that comprise the so-called “Quad” alongside India and Japan which are collectively accused of seeking to “contain” China. Although concerning, this tense state of affairs had yet to destabilize the region, but that might soon change after the latest news coming from the Solomon Islands.
On The Precipice Of Civil War
The leader of the Malaita Province — the most populous one in the country that’s home to approximately a quarter of the Solomon Islands’ less than 700,000 people — announced earlier this week that his region will seek independence from the central government due to its disagreement with the capital over the latter’srecognition of Beijinglast year. This is especially troublesome because the Solomon Islands’ de-facto state of civil war that lasted between 1999-2003 and prompted a nearly 15-year-long Australian-led peacekeeping intervention directly concerned an ethno-regional dispute between Malaita and the neighboring island of Guadalcanal which hosts the country’s capital. The Capital Territory and Guadalcanal Province collectively have more people than Malaita does, which means that any possible exacerbation of their former conflict with one another over the China-Taiwan issue could immediately plunge approximately half of the Solomon Islands back into civil conflict. That, however, might be exactly what the Quad is hoping for since it could then easily exploit this unrest as a proxy war for “containing” Chinese influence in the South Pacific through “Balkanization”.
The Quad’s Hybrid War On The Solomon Islands
What’s important to point out is that the China-Taiwan issue is simply a trigger for thawing this unresolved conflict between the two islands and their people, one which predates the Quad’s formation by over a decade but could potentially be encouraged by them for the aforementioned reason. It’s extremely unlikely that the leader of Malaita Province would make such a dramatic announcement had he not already secured support from this bloc’s American and Australian members, both of whom have an interest in pushing back against what they’ve portrayed as the “aggressive” expansion of Chinese influence in the region that they’ve historically regarded as falling within their joint “sphere of influence”. The external exacerbation of preexisting identity conflicts for geostrategic reasons — especially those related to disrupting, controlling, or influencing transnational connective infrastructure projects such as BRI — fits the author’s definition ofHybrid War. That means that this scheme can rightly be described as the Quad’s Hybrid War on the Solomon Islands, which could become the catalyst of geostrategic change all across the New Cold War’s South Pacific theater if the “Balkanization” process that’s being unleashed in that country uncontrollably spreads throughout the region.
Formalizing The “Asian NATO”
Any resumption of civil war-like unrest in the Solomon Islands as a result of Malaita’s attempted secession will almost certainly prompt another international peacekeeping mission there, one which might be led not just by Australia like last time, but jointly by it and its other three Quad partners. After all, US Deputy Secretary of State Biegun declared his country’s intention earlier this week to create aNATO-like military blocin the so-called “Indo-Pacific” in order to “push back against China in virtually every domain” there. He strongly hinted that the Quad could play such a role, and another conflict in the Solomon Islands might be just what’s needed in order to provide the impetus for formalizing this structure to that point. The previous Australian-led peacekeeping mission wasn’t all that difficult compared to others across the world so a forthcoming one possibly led by the Quad’s four members could serve as the perfect opportunity for strengthening their military interoperability with one another in a real-world mission instead of just another exercise. It wouldn’t entail as much of a cost as doing so elsewhere in this transoceanic region should another Hybrid War be manufactured for that purpose, and the benefits to their bloc could be tremendous in terms of their grand strategic impact.
Special attention should be paid to how this scenario is already being sold to the public.Reutersquoted Malaita’s leader as evoking the UN principle of self-determination, which in this context could easily be spun in a way to sympathetically present him and his people as “freedom-loving democrats” opposed to the “Chinese-controlled tyrannical central government”. Considering how preconditioned many people across the world are to suspect China of ulterior motives through BRI, it wouldn’t be surprising if they fall for this emerging narrative. To make it more believable, unverified claims could be made about alleged human rights abuses carried out by the central government with Chinese support. Reports could also be spread fearmongering about the environmental consequences of any potential BRI projects on the island. Since the nearby Papua New Guinean Autonomous Region of Bougainville just held a non-bindingUN-recognizedindependence referendum that overwhelmingly passed last year, the legal precedent has been established for arguing that Malaita deserves the same opportunity to choose its own destiny as the only lasting solution to the Solomon Islands’ similar ethno-regional conflict.
Proxy War Scenarios
It’s impossible to predict in detail exactly how a Quad-China proxy war in the Solomon Islands could play out, but the initial conditions are such that one can nonetheless identify the broad contours of this conflict. Violence would probably be concentrated mostly in Malaita and among migrant communities on Guadalcanal, which would thus make them the two most likely places for a Quad-led peacekeeping force to deploy. If the central government successfully secures the capital region and its surroundings, then the peacekeeping mission might only concern Malaita and thus set it along the trajectory of seemingly inevitable independence pending a UN-recognized referendum there overseen by the Quad. If the authorities lose control of parts of Guadalcanal, however, then a regime change is certainly possible with or without a Quad-led military intervention there, one which could still result in Malaita’s eventual independence but also the reversal of the country’s recognition of Beijing back to Taipei. In the course of events, China might be compelled to evacuate some of its citizens if they’re targeted by the separatists, who might also attack them systematically in order to prompt China into deepening its political, financial, and perhaps even military support of the authorities through “mission creep”.
The news that the leader of a South Pacific island nation’s province announced his separatist intentions might have seemed so irrelevant to the rest of the world at first glance as to not warrant any serious attention, but the fact of the matter is that this event is actually extremely important because it’s poised to turn the South Pacific into the latest hot spot of the New Cold War. The authorpredicted three years agoin September 2017 that “it’s impossible to speculate on exactly what could set off a renewed round of violence in the [Solomon Islands], but the most probable scenarios have to do with a continuation conflict between the people of Guadalcanal island and neighboring Malaita, which was at the core of the ‘The Tensions’ in the first place.” That’s exactly what seems slated to happen after the leader of Malaita used the central government’s recognition of Beijing as the pretext for thawing this unresolved conflict, all with the very likely support of the Quad for the purpose of “containing” China in the region through “Balkanization”, which in turn could serve as the regional security impetus for formalizing the bloc into an “Asian NATO”. The calm waters of the South Pacific might therefore soon give way to a tempest of Hybrid War trouble with global strategic implications.