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Russian-Moldovan Relations Might Become Much More Difficult To Manage

Russian-Moldovan Relations Might Become Much More Difficult To Manage

23 NOVEMBER 2020

Russian-Moldovan Relations Might Become Much More Difficult To Manage

Pro-Western Maia Sandu’s victory in the second round of the Moldovan presidential elections last week might make bilateral relations with Russia much more difficult to manage than they were under her Russian-friendly predecessor, with the worst-case scenario being a new East-West crisis in the event that Moldova attempts to (re)unify with Romania and/or militarily resolve the frozen Transnistrian Conflict while the “best-case” one might realistically be a “managed decoupling” between the two with time.

Pro-Western Maia Sandu’s victory in the second round of the Moldovan presidential elections last week inspires optimism among her domestic supporters and their foreign patrons while raising worries in Russia that bilateral ties might soon become much more difficult to manage. Her Russian-friendly predecessor worked very hard to cultivate excellent ties with his country’s historical partner despite intense resistance from hostile elements of his permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”), but that renaissance in relations might now be over. It’s very difficult to imagine Sandu standing against those same “deep state” forces that she’s presumably a part of. In fact, she might even seek to impose their dual vision of (re)unifying with Romania and militarily resolving the frozen Transnistrian Conflict, which could spark a new East-West crisis in the worst-case scenario. The “best-case” one might then realistically be that a “managed decoupling” occurs between the two with time, but that would of course be less preferred than simply retaining their strategic ties.

For those who aren’t too familiar with the geopolitical dynamics, it’s important to point out that Moldova is a territory historically claimed by Romania but which had been under Russian Imperial and Soviet control for around one and a half centuries from 1812-1991 except for the interwar period when it was controlled by Bucharest. The tiny sliver of land east of the Dniester River (“Transnistria” literally meaning “beyond the Dniester”) remained under Russian control between the two World Wars but sought to secede from Moldova during the late Soviet period in response to Romanian nationalists coming to power in Chisinau, which frightened the region’s many Slavic people who feared for their rights and identity. The brief war that soon followed has yet to officially conclude but saw the introduction of Russian peacekeepers and subsequent bestowing of citizenship upon some of that area’s people. It presently hosts a Russian base but is completely surrounded by Moldova and Ukraine, which greatly complicates any potential military scenario.

To explain, Moldovans are divided over whether or not to (re)unify with Romania, but since Transnistria is universally recognized as their united country’s sovereign territory, its political future is uncertain in the event that that happens. One possibility for politically resolving this frozen conflict is to asymmetrically federalize the country, but opponents of this outcome argue that it would forever weaken the state. Supporters, meanwhile, insist that this is the only way to avoid more bloodshed and ensure that the locals’ human and cultural rights are protected. The presence of the Russian military base has hitherto served as a deterrent to any reckless NATO-provoked military adventure by Chisinau, but Sandu might gamble just like Saakashvili did before her that the time might soon be coming to strike. Unlike Georgia’s previously unrecognized breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Transnistria isn’t adjacent to Russia and therefore couldn’t be as easily supported as they were if she were to launch a similar midnight attack against its peacekeepers there.

The Russian military is more than capable of holding its own in the opening stages of any possible conflict, but it would certainly need support sooner than later, especially in the event that Ukraine were to join in any potential NATO-provoked Moldovan military operation there. That’s why observers have been warning about the worst-case scenario of a larger war in Transnistria for a while already ever since the 2013-2014 Ukrainian Crisis because the geo-military variables aren’t in Russia’s long-term favor. Moscow would have to pass through Ukrainian airspace to save its soldiers in that scenario, which would probably be closed to them for obvious reasons. Realistically speaking, the odds are against Russia unless it ups the ante by escalating the situation according to what the US — especially under a possible Biden presidency — might likely expect it to do. This means that Sandu’s election might be very dangerous in hindsight if she submits to the neoconservatives’ plans.

The reader must keep in mind that the author is only forecasting a series of scenarios and isn’t making any clear-cut predictions. It might end up being the case that Russian-Moldovan relations remain stable and that there isn’t any effort to (re)unify with Moldova and/or militarily resolve the Transnistrian Conflict. That’s certainly possible, however increasingly unlikely it might become, especially under a Biden presidency which restores the neoconservatives’ influence in Washington. For that reason, the “best-case” scenario should also be discussed whereby a “managed decoupling” is initiated between Russia and Moldova, no matter how economically disastrous this would be for the Moldovan people who depend on the Russian consumer and labor markets. At the very least, it would be preferable to the larger war that might be unleashed in the worst-case scenario even though Moscow would of course wish to retain strategic relations with Chisinau.

So as not to be misunderstood, the author isn’t promoting so-called “defeatism”, but just feels obligated to realistically assess all possible options in the event that indicators suggest that the worst-case scenario is becoming a reality. Russia undoubtedly has contingency plans in place for how to respond to that series of events, but it might nevertheless catch some observers unaware who hadn’t foreseen any of this happening. That’s why the purpose of this analysis is to inform, not advise, for the sake of educating everyone about what might come next. Sandu’s victory could very well be a dark omen for East-West relations, but it might also not be a big deal at all if she realizes that her country’s interests objectively rest in retaining pragmatic relations with Russia and politically resolving the Transnistrian Conflict. Only time will tell which path she chooses to take and a lot will definitely depend on the outcome of the as-yet-undecided US presidential election.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: Russia, Moldova, NATO, Romania, Transnistria.


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Russia’s Red Sea Base In Sudan Is A Recalibration Of Its Intra-Ummah Balancing Act

Russia’s Red Sea Base In Sudan Is A Recalibration Of Its Intra-Ummah Balancing Act

16 NOVEMBER 2020

Russia

Russia’s draft deal to open up a Red Sea naval base in Sudan amounts to a strategic recalibration of its careful “balancing” act between the GCC and Turkey after moving more closely to the latter following the end of the Nagorno-Karabakh War, which in turn shows how important Moscow regards its “Ummah Pivot” as being by seeking to maintain equally excellent relations with all majority-Muslim countries without any of its bilateral relations being misperceived as directed against any third country in this civilizational sphere.

A Deal Three Years In The Making

Some observers were surprised by reports late last week that a Russian government website published details of a draft deal pertaining to Moscow’s plans to open up a Red Sea naval base in Sudan, but this was actually something that’s been openly discussed for the past three years already. The author wrote about former President Bashir’s public invitation for Russia to do exactly just that during his visit to the Eurasian Great Power in November 2017 in his piece titled “Here’s Why Russia Might Set Up A Red Sea Base In Sudan”. The geopolitical situation has considerably changed since then following his overthrow last year, which the author also recently analyzed at length in an article about how “The Sudanese-‘Israeli’ Peace Deal Required Lots Of Behind-The-Scenes Maneuvering”, but some of his insight from that time is still relevant.

Russia’s Silk Road & “Democratic Security” Interests

For instance, Russia indeed hopes to gain influence along China’s prospective Sahelian-Saharan Silk Road that he first identified in early 2017 and which is expected to terminate precisely in Port Sudan, which is where Moscow plans to open up its naval base. There are still domestic military dimensions to this draft deal which could be taken advantage of by Sudan, though not necessarily in terms of preventing the country’s further Balkanization considering the recent peace deal between its warring sides. More specifically, they likely relate to the “Democratic Security” strategies that the author summarized in his October 2019 piece written during the first-ever Russia-Africa Summit about how “Africa Needs Russia More Than Ever, And This Week’s Sochi Summit Proves It”, in which some hyperlinks are now broken but can still be accessed via other sites.

The “Ummah Pivot”

The most pertinent point made in his prior topical analysis, however, relates to Russia’s “balancing” act. The hyperlinked piece from the preceding sentence introduced the author’s concept of the “Ummah Pivot”, which he describes as the recent prioritization of Russia’s relations with majority-Muslim countries stimulated by the West’s anti-Russian sanctions of the past six and a half years. Many observers predicted Russia to “pivot eastward” in the face of that economic warfare campaign, but in reality, the country ended up pivoting southward towards the international Muslim community (“Ummah”) in order to optimize its continental “balancing” strategy by incorporating a third element (the Ummah) into this supposedly binary choice between East (China) and West (EU).

The Unofficial Russian-Turkish Alliance

In the present geostrategic conditions, there’s little doubt after the end of the Nagorno-Karabakh War that Russia and Turkey are the new power duo in the “Greater Mideast”, which the author coined “Putogan” in his latest analysis on the topic titled “Analytical Reflections: Learning From The Nagorno-Karabakh Fiasco”. Less than a week prior, he noted that “Russia & Turkey Stand To Lose The Most From A Biden Presidency”, predicting that the simultaneous pressure that might likely be placed upon them in that scenario could result in them being pushed into an unofficial alliance out of pragmatic necessity. That potential outcome would risk giving off the optics that Russia is a partisan player in the cold war between Turkey and the GCC, however, hence the need to preemptively recalibrate that aspect of its “balancing” act within its larger “Ummah Pivot”.

The Unofficial Russian-Emirati Alliance

Post-coup Sudan is practically a GCC protectorate nowadays, and it wouldn’t have been possible for Russia to clinch its draft deal for a Red Sea naval base in Port Sudan without the approval of the North African state’s new Gulf overlords. They seemingly understand the importance of improving military interoperability with Russia through the joint naval drills that they’ll likely carry out in the Red Sea upon this agreement’s conclusion. The UAE in particular is the most important extra-regional player in this strategic waterway as a result of its newly established bases in Eritrea and the de-facto independent Somali and Yemeni regions of Somaliland and South Yemen, as well as its hegemonic influence over Ethiopia after brokering its historic peace deal with Eritrea two years back. Russia has also been seeking to cultivate closer state-to-state military ties with the UAE as well.

The Syrian Convergence

Unofficially allying with the UAE in this trans-regional space could “balance” its unofficial alliance with Turkey elsewhere in the “Greater Mideast”, thus reinforcing the impression that Russia is indeed the neutral partner that it presents itself as being in the Ummah. This in turn preemptively thwarts any misperception about the grand strategic motives behind its “Ummah Pivot”, thus helping it to maintain its careful “balancing” act in this civilizational space. The two halves of its intra-Ummah “balancing” act might ultimately converge in Syria where Turkey and the GCC are intensely competing in this geostrategic state where Russian influence undoubtedly predominates. It would be a diplomatic masterstroke if Moscow was able to leverage its “balancing” act in pursuit of a lasting political solution there, though it’ll still take lots of time and skill to achieve, if ever.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: Russia, Sudan, Horn Of Africa, Red Sea, UAE, Turkey, Ummah Pivot, Balancing, China, BRI.


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Russia & Turkey Stand To Lose The Most From A Biden Presidency

Russia & Turkey Stand To Lose The Most From A Biden Presidency

9 NOVEMBER 2020

Russia & Turkey Stand To Lose The Most From A Biden Presidency

In the event that Biden’s “projected” presidency become a reality, Russia and Turkey would stand to lose the most during America’s new era of engagement with the world due to the former Vice President’s intense dislike of the Eurasian Great Power and the regional consequences that his possible return to the Iranian nuclear deal could have for Ankara’s grand strategy.

Multilateralism Doesn’t Mean That Everyone Wins

Analysts are scrambling to predict what American foreign policy might look like under a possible Biden presidency in the event that his “projected” (but crucially, not yet legally certified) victory becomes a reality. It’s already known that he intends to return to the Obama-era strategy of multilateral engagement and will probably appoint many officials from that former administration or at the very least those who’ve been tremendously influenced by them. There’s also little doubt that the US’ de-facto military alliance with India will remain intact considering the bipartisan consensus regarding its grannd strategic importance. Nevertheless, although it’s still a bit early to make any confident predictions, it can be argued that Russia and Turkey will probably stand to lose the most from a Biden presidency for reasons that will now be explained.

Political Russophobes Return To The White House

Regarding the Eurasian Great Power, it has legitimate concerns about the political Russophobia of former Obama-era officials. The (soon-to-be-former?) opposition spent the past four years concocting one of the craziest conspiracy theories in modern history by imagining that Trump was secretly an agent — or at the very least, an asset — of none other than President Putin himself. These dangerous allegations have since been officially debunked, but their destructive impact on bilateral relations will persist for the indefinite future. The anti-Russian members of the US’ permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) which literally conspired with their Democrat and Mainstream Media proxies to delegitimize and subsequently subvert Trump’s presidency have no interest in a rapprochement with Russia.

A Strategically Convenient “New Detente” With China?

To the contrary, they’ve signaled every interest in clinching a “New Detente” with China instead through a series of pragmatic compromises on a slew of issues such as trade, military, and technological ones for instance. This isn’t just for pragmatic reasons, but clever geostrategic ones related to freeing up the US’ full potential to more assertively “contain” Russia for the ideological reasons that drive Obama-era officials and those influenced by them. Should this scenario come to pass, then Russia would come under unprecedented pressure along its western flank, building upon the military advances along its borders that were overseen by Trump but aggressively solidifying and possibly even expanding them. Being in the midst of a systemic economic transition away from its disproportionate budgetary dependence on resource revenue, Russia is presently real vulnerable.

Russia’s Most Vulnerable Moment

The next year or two is therefore the best possible time for the US to put maximum pressure upon it for the purpose of compelling it to agree to a lopsided “New Detente” which could foreseeably result in a so-called “new normal” of relations between the West and Russia. The intent, however, is to subjugate Russia to America’s military will, which is understandably more difficult to pull off than the political Russophobes might imagine considering Moscow’s recent advances in hypersonic missile technology which restored the nuclear balance between the former superpowers. Still, all that Russia has done was buy itself some more time while it sought to domestically restructure all aspects of its society while the US was distracted with “containing” China under Trump, but now the pendulum might swing back against Russia with a vengeance under Biden.

Strengthening The Regional Anti-Turkish “Containment” Coalition

On the topic of Turkey, it’s also expected that this country will stand to lose from a possible Biden presidency. The US’ strategy of assembling a regional anti-Turkish “containment” coalition between itself, Armenia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, the GCC, Greece, “Israel”, and even Syria to an extent will likely remain in place, as will its use of more subversive measures such as economic warfare and even coup plotting in order to “finish the job” that Obama failed to do during the summer 2016 coup attempt against President Erdogan. Just as importantly, however, are the regional consequences that the US’ possible return to the Iranian nuclear deal could have for Ankara’s grand strategy since they could result in it and Tehran drifting apart after their recent rapprochement.

The Turkish-Iranian Strategic Partnership

About that, these neighboring Islamic civilizations are presently enjoying some of their best-ever relations after the failed summer 2016 coup attempt saw Iran become the first country to publicly support Turkey’s legitimate government against the plotters. This wasn’t only for pragmatic reasons regarding the rule of law and international norms, but also ideological ones as well since Turkish society has been gradually Islamifying under President Erdogan’s rule in ways which align with Iran’s ideal vision for the region’s societies. Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran saw the Islamic Republic move much closer to Turkey for the purpose of much-needed sanctions relief, which in turn resulted in them agreeing on Azerbaijan and Libya despite Iran’s Syrian ally having a different position towards those two conflicts to the surprise of the Alt-Media Community.

Decoupling Turkey & Iran’s Mutual Strategic Interdependence

As Iran began to rely more on Turkey, so too did Turkey began to rely on Iran, thus establishing a relationship of mutual strategic interdependence. Where Iran sees Turkey as a pressure valve from sanctions, Turkey regards Iran as an indispensably influential regional partner which helps hold back the emerging US-led anti-Turkish “containment” coalition. Nevertheless, if a breakthrough is reached on the US returning to the Iranian nuclear deal, then there’s a credible chance that their mutual strategic interdependence might eventually weaken and the two countries could gradually “decouple” with time. That would place Turkey in a very disadvantageous regional position, but one which could interestingly improve its already solid relations with Russia so long as both have the political will to do so.

Could The Russian-Turkish Strategic Partnership Transform Into An Unofficial Alliance?

The analysis has thus far argued that Russia and Turkey will lose the most from a Biden presidency, but the proverbial silver lining is that they’d have more of a reason than ever to strengthen their cooperation with one another in response. In fact, should similar pressure be placed upon them in a semi-coordinated manner, they might naturally move a lot closer together. Issues of occasional discord such as differences of vision over certain conflicts might remain, but they wouldn’t be insurmountable and in fact might be more easily resolved in the event that they enter into a stronger relationship of mutual strategic interdependence which might even eventually become an unofficial alliance. The exact contours of such a scenario are difficult to forecast at this point, but the possibility itself shouldn’t be discounted for the earlier mentioned reasons.

Concluding Thoughts

While many across the world are celebrating what they’ve been (mis?)led to believe is Trump’s impending ouster from the White House, it’s all but certain that Russia and Turkey are fretting over what might come next if Biden is able to execute on his regional vision of repairing relations with China, doubling down on the US’ anti-Russian and -Turkish pressure campaigns, and returning to the Iranian nuclear deal. Taken together, these variables could prove extremely troublesome for their grand strategies, but might also present an opportunity for these two Great Powers to work more closely together in the future. Having said all of that, nothing’s set in stone of course and a Biden presidency might end up surprising a lot of observers just like the Trump one did in some respects, but it’ll still likely be difficult for either Russia or Turkey to secure their interests during this time.

Tags: Biden, US, Russia, Turkey, China, Iran, JCPOA, New Detente, NATO, Sanctions, Regime Change, Color Revolution, Hybrid War, Containment.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

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Extreme Pro-US BJP Ideologues Mustn’t Be Allowed To Sabotage Russian-Indian Relations

Extreme Pro-US BJP Ideologues Mustn’t Be Allowed To Sabotage Russian-Indian Relations

2 NOVEMBER 2020

Extreme Pro-US BJP Ideologues Mustn

Influential BJP ideologue Subramanian Swamy published an unprecedentedly vitriolic screed against Russia which spits in the face of their decades-long strategic partnership by arguing that Moscow is an irresponsible imperialist power that’s historically exploited New Delhi’s naive leaders, but the reality is that these two Great Powers are presently enjoying a renaissance in their relations and that Swamy’s twisted depiction of their ties is nothing more than an information warfare narrative which proves the existence of a very powerful pro-American lobby that’s pulling out all the stops to sabotage Russian-Indian relations.

The US-Indian Alliance

Those who’ve followed my work for the past few years should already be well aware of my very critical attitude towards the Hindu nationalist BJP that’s ruled India since Prime Minister Modi’s election in 2014. I’ve consistently argued that the country is manipulating nostalgia in Moscow over their Old Cold War-era relations to dupe Russian decision makers into ignoring India’s pro-American anti-Chinese pivot in recent years. I chronicled this development in two pieces since September about how “It Was Inevitable That India Would Seek To Actively ‘Contain’ China” and “The US’ Alliance With India Is A Bipartisan Issue Of Grand Strategic Importance”. The first article also references my first work on the topic back in May 2016 which later led to me receiving death threats on social media, being defamed as a drug addict by one of India’s top Russia experts, and even being subjected to other intimidation tactics in the real world that I’d prefer not to publicly disclose for the time being, and all because I wouldn’t back down from my assessment which has since been vindicated.

My Professional Intentions

Nevertheless, my intentions always remained sincere and transparent. All that I endeavor to do is warn Russia about India’s duplicity in the hopes that decision makers would wise up to the game being played against them, asymmetrically respond in a plausibly deniable way (such as through the “bait strategy” vis-a-vis Pakistan as I argued in summer 2019), and ultimately restore “balance” to their historical relations. It’s arguably in Russia’s best interests to do so since acquiescing to “junior partner” status with India would contradict Moscow’s publicly proclaimed pro-sovereignty strategy as I wrote over the weekend when insisting that “Russia Must Resist Indian Pressure” to curtail its relations with Pakistan. Becoming India’s “junior partner” could also unintentionally trigger a “security dilemma” with China, which might misinterpret Russian “weakness” in this respect as tacit approval of India’s anti-Chinese alliance with the US, thus compelling Beijing to reconsider the nature of its strategic relations with Moscow in defensive response.

The Russian-Indian Renaissance

As it stands, Russian-Indian relations are presently experiencing a renaissance as I wrote for Pakistan’s Tribune newspaper in September after the two sides supercharged their strategic partnership following Prime Minister Modi’s attendance at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivistok 12 months prior. So excellent are their ties, which have overcome mutual suspicions stemming from Russia’s relations with China and India’s own with the US, that I even co-authored an academic article for the official journal of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO, which is run by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs) about “The Prospects Of Russia And India Jointly Leading A New Non-Aligned Movement” with a view towards making their recently improved strategic partnership more globally significant this century. Still, I also warned that Russia mustn’t side too closely with India at China’s perceived expense otherwise it risks provoking the same “security dilemma” that Moscow sought to avoid by not becoming its “junior partner”, ergo the importance of improving Russian-Pakistani relations to “balance” the Kremlin’s delicate “balancing” act between those two Asian Great Powers.

An Unprecedented Infowar Attack

The reason why I spent so much time explaining the gist of my vision for Russian-Indian relations is to dispel any questions about my credibility in addressing the very sensitive subject of the present analysis, which is influential BJP ideologue Subramanian Swamy’s unprecedentedly vitriolic screed against Russia that he published over the weekend at The Sunday Guardian provocatively declaring that “Russia Is Not A Friend Of India”. Looking beyond the factual errors in his article such as stating that the Russian-Chinese border conflict occurred in 1977 (it actually happened in 1969), writing that the Soviet Union broke up into 16 different countries (15 is the real number), and fearmongering that President Putin “recently won a rigged election to be President of Russia till 2036” (only constitutional amendments were passed to enable this possibility after his present term expires in 2024), his general argument of Russia being an irresponsible imperialist power that’s historically exploited India’s naive leaders must be countered head-on in order to prevent him from sabotaging the renaissance of Russian-Indian relations to the benefit of the US’ dangerous divide-and-rule grand strategy.

Who’s Really At Risk Of Becoming Whose “Junior Partner”?

As I argued earlier in my analysis, it’s Russia — not India — that’s at risk of becoming the “junior partner” in this relationship if any party can be described as such. Russia’s “balancing” act between China and India is becoming increasingly “imbalanced” after Moscow supported New Delhi’s annexation and subsequent bifurcation of Jammu & Kashmir in August 2019 despite Beijing’s concerns that this could negatively affect the situation in Aksai Chin (as ultimately happened earlier this year during their ongoing standoff there), opposed China’s efforts to seek meaningfully address the issue at the UN Security Council, and recently fulfilled India’s defense requirements from June at the start of the Himalayan Crisis for wares that will almost certainly be used to “contain” China. It is therefore categorically false for Swamy to misportray India as being at risk of becoming Russia’s “junior partner” when New Delhi’s de-facto military alliance with the US through the so-called “Quad” is proceeding apace despite Moscow’s earlier expressed concerns that it could be exploited to “contain” China.

Political Russophobia Must Urgently Be Suppressed In India

Swamy’s intentions seem to be to influence the ruling party of which he’s a part into jettisoning its historic strategic partnership with Russia for the purpose of doubling down on its pro-American anti-Chinese military alliance, which would actually ironically make India more dependent on the US in parallel with Russia becoming equally dependent on China in response, the scenario of which the Kremlin is eager to avoid and which explains its recent efforts in achieving the Russian-Indian renaissance that I earlier described. There’s no other way to describe Swamy’s malicious writings than as a desire to divide-and-rule Eurasia for destabilizing ends that would ultimately work out to the US’ grand strategic benefit. His article wouldn’t have even warranted any attention from me had he not been the influential ruling party ideologue that he is who directly has access to India’s top decision makers and strategists. It’s completely unprecedented for someone of his stature in India to publish such a hateful text against Russian-Indian relations, which hints at political Russophobia gradually becoming “normalized” at the highest levels of political society if it isn’t suppressed as soon as possible.

The Ridiculous GRU Conspiracy

The proverbial genie already seems to be out of the bottle, however, since The Sunday Guardian — the same outlet that Swamy chose to publish his anti-Russian screed — released a provocative piece the day afterwards about how “US-India Ties Attract Attention Of Russian Intelligence”. The journalist who wrote it very strongly implies that Russian intelligence has infiltrated the highest levels of the Indian leadership, ominously hinting that its military-intelligence agency GRU — of Skripal poisoning infamy according to Western sources at least — is preparing to meddle in Indian affairs in order to sabotage the country’s pro-American military alliance. The article quotes an unnamed Indian official who warned that “Russia, like a few other countries, has a lot of interest in how things move in India. Russia has highly capable infrastructure and units to launch cyber campaigns with deep ramifications. We are aware of the challenges that can come in the near future due to recent developments that we are witnessing between India and the US”.

It’s American Meddling, Not Russian, That India Should Be Worried About

In reality, the only meddling taking place in India is from the American side, not the Russian one, since the latter — with all due respect to them — seems to be so powerfully influenced by the illusion of Soviet-era nostalgia about their relations that they’ve been basically blinded to India’s pro-American pivot of recent years to the extent that they’re now unwittingly risking provoking a “security dilemma” with China by too openly supporting the South Asian state against the People’s Republic. It personally pains me to see the country that I love, Russia, being taken advantage of by its historical strategic partner through these means and having the relationship that it holds so dear spit upon by an influential ideologue such as Swamy and his allies at The Sunday Guardian. I’ve warned about this for nearly the past 4,5 years in literally hundreds of articles about India’s trend of transitioning from a policy of so-called “multipolar multi-alignment” to one of anti-Chinese pro-American alignment which would inevitably harm Russian-Indian relations, and once again I’ve been vindicated.

Neither Russia Nor India Has To Become Anyone’s “Junior Partner”

The path ahead will be a difficult one for both parties, but provided that the political will is present, Russia and India should hopefully be able to surmount what convincingly appears to be a coming crisis in their relations. On the one hand, Russia must ensure that it doesn’t become India’s “junior partner” and thus unwittingly provoke a “security dilemma” with China by doing so, ergo the importance of improving Russian-Pakistani relations in order to restore “balance” to its increasingly imperfect “balancing” act. On the other hand, India must ensure that it doesn’t become the US’ “junior partner” and thus lose its cherished “strategic autonomy”, to which end it mustn’t allow pro-American ideologues such as Swamy to sabotage Russian-Indian relations otherwise New Delhi will lose the only solution to its foreign policy dilemma of attempting to “balance” its “frenemy” relations with China and its newfound allied ones with America. It’s therefore incumbent on the Indian government to either publicly condemn Swamy for his hateful screed or take other measures to unequivocally communicate the message to Moscow that his views aren’t supported by New Delhi.

A Rude Awakening For Russia

The Russian side, considering how “naive” they’ve been about relations with India (once again, with all due respect to them), must certainly have been shocked to discover that such an influential ruling party official — and one of its chief ideologues, no less! — would publish such a vicious rant against their historic relations with India. Just as concerning must have been the observation that the same outlet which released his article followed it up a day later by strongly implying that GRU plans to meddle in Indian affairs, with all the ominous consequences that could follow. As such, there’s shouldn’t be any doubt that a coordinated pro-American anti-Russian information warfare campaign has been unleashed at the highest levels of Indian political society which, if anything, should hopefully serve as a long-overdue and much-needed wake-up call to Russian decision makers about the reality of what’s happening in India nowadays. To reaffirm my personal views, I’m fully in support of the Russian-Indian strategic partnership so long as relations as “balanced” and on an equal footing, but I’m adamantly against Moscow being taken advantage of by New Delhi for pro-American anti-Chinese ends.

Concluding Thoughts

Eurasian geopolitics are on the precipice of profound and pivotal change since it’s impossible to maintain the status quo of Russian-Indian relations due to Chinese security concerns and American pressure respectively. Russia must decide whether to submit to becoming India’s “junior partner” or actively “recalibrate” its “balancing” act between it and China by moving towards a strategic partnership with Pakistan for the purpose of preemptively mitigating the prospect of any “security dilemma” inadvertently popping up with the People’s Republic due to the Kremlin’s extremely close relations with unquestionably pro-American India. As for that South Asian state, there’s little doubt that it’ll continue to ally itself with the US in pursuit of their shared grand strategic goal of “containing” China, but India would lose what little “strategic autonomy” it still has left if it submits to the pressure of pro-American ideologues such as Swamy by jettisoning its strategic relations with Russia and thus fully submitting to becoming the US’ “junior partner”. Eurasia is on the brink of a major divide-and-rule destabilization if either Great Power, let alone both of them at the same time, makes the wrong move, which is why sincere supporters of the Multipolar World Order like me hope that this scenario will be avoided.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

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The US’ Alliance With India Is A Bipartisan Issue Of Grand Strategic Importance

The US’ Alliance With India Is A Bipartisan Issue Of Grand Strategic Importance

30 OCTOBER 2020

The US

The US’ alliance with India will remain a mainstay of its grand strategy regardless of who wins next week’s elections since it’s a bipartisan issue of the highest importance for its permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”).

The US-Indian Alliance

Analysts are scrambling to speculate the possible foreign policy changes that a Biden presidency might bring if he wins next week’s election, but one aspect of American grand strategy that isn’t likely to change is the US’ alliance with India. The two Great Powers formalized their military partnership earlier this week with the signing of the “Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement” (BECA), the third so-called “foundational pact” after the “Logistics Exchange Memorandum Of Agreement” (LEMOA) and “Communication Compatibility and Security Agreement” (COMCASA) which collectively improve these countries’ military interoperability. Neither side hides their shared anti-Chinese intentions either, as the author explained at length in his September analysis about how “It Was Inevitable That India Would Seek To Actively ‘Contain’ China”, which is a trend that he’s been closely following since mid-2016 when it was still “taboo” for the Alt-Media Community to discuss it. This trajectory will remain on track for several key reasons regardless of whoever wins the presidency.

Step By Step, President By President

The first is that the American bureaucratic machine has already kicked into gear and is intensely focusing its military, intelligence, and diplomatic (“deep state”) efforts into actualizing this alliance. It will therefore be extremely difficult to reverse this trend even if Biden sincerely wanted to, yet there’s no reason to suspect that he does since he was one of the overseers of the Obama-era “Pivot to Asia” which laid the basis for Trump’s formalization of America’s alliance with India. In fact, it can be argued that Obama — who built upon the progress pioneered by Bush Jr. such as the nuclear cooperation pact during that time — is one of the forefathers of this alliance since it wouldn’t have happened had it not been for his decision to continue his predecessor’s policies in this respect. As such, there’s no doubt that America’s alliance with India is a bipartisan issue for the US establishment.

Pivoting” From West To East Asia Via The South

Another point to made is that the “Pivot to Asia” naturally transitions the US’ strategic focus from West Asia to East Asia while traversing through the South Asian space between both. India isn’t just an ordinary country in US foreign policy planning, though, since its demographic and economic capabilities pair perfectly with its geostrategic location atop the Afro-Asian (“Indian”) Ocean to make it attractive as a “counterweight” to China. This explains its pivotal importance in the emerging Quad military network of anti-Chinese states, as well as the fact that its location is almost smack dab in the center of the Eastern Hemisphere which thereby makes it more important than any of that bloc’s other members. Neither Trump nor Biden could afford to ignore this unprecedented geostrategic opportunity, hence why they’re predicted to actually double down on it regardless of whoever wins since it best serves their nation’s interests to do so.

India’s Role In Trump & Biden’s China Strategies

While Trump and Biden have different attitudes towards China, that still won’t change the importance of India for their foreign policy visions. The incumbent will likely employ a more aggressive strategy of openly exploiting India as China’s foil in “Greater South Asia” (Central Asia/Afro-Asian Ocean/Southeast Asia) whereas Biden might be “gentler” with his approach out of a desire to reach a “New Detente” with China (whether for pragmatic or corrupt reasons). The Democrat candidate would continue the US’ growing trend of arms sales to that state but might care more about political and economic cooperation with India than any military-driven approach to “containing” China. If the prediction about Biden’s desire for a “New Detente” with the People’s Republic plays out, then India’s role would simply be to keep China “in check” as opposed to actively countering it like Trump envisions. Either way, India still serves a very strategic purpose for both presidential candidates.

Russia Must Urgently Recalibrate Its “Balancing” Act

This fact should be taken into consideration by all relevant stakeholders, especially Russia, which is already intensely competing with the US simply to retain its decades-long dominant position in the Indian arms market. That’s not at all to say that Russia should “dump” India, but just to propose that it must begin seriously countenancing contingency plans in the event that it loses more influence in the South Asian state otherwise it stands to become New Delhi’s “junior partner” and risk provoking an unintended “security dilemma” with China. The author warned about that scenario in his September analysis asking “Is Russia ‘Abandoning’ Or ‘Recalibrating’ Its ‘Balancing’ Act Between China & India?” and recommended that decision makers consider the dual response of reaching out to India to form a new Non-Aligned Movement (“Neo-NAM”) while enhancing strategic relations with Pakistan in order to restore “balance” to Russia’s “balancing” act. Failing to do so might destabilize the central tenet of Russian grand strategy, which is become Eurasia’s supreme “balancing” force.

Concluding Thoughts

No observer should doubt for a moment that America’s alliance with India will remain among its top grand strategic priorities regardless of the outcome of next week’s election. The gears of government are working in unison to promote this goal, which represents the culmination of Trump, Obama, and Bush Jr.’s efforts in a truly remarkable display of bipartisan agreement on a pressing issue of foreign policy significance. While Trump and Biden have different visions of how best to utilize their country’s alliance with India, the fact remains that they’ll nevertheless employ this partnership with increasing frequency to advance their respective goals, be it actively “containing” China like the incumbent envisions or more “gently” keeping it “in check” to uphold the “New Detente” that his opponent wants to clinch during his (or even more likely, his Vice Presidential pick’s) potential term. As this game-changing trend accelerates and increasingly becomes one of the main geostrategic determinants of Eastern Hemispheric affairs, Russia will be forced to recalibrate its “balancing” act with India.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

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The Sudanese-‘Israeli’ Peace Deal Required Lots Of Behind-The-Scenes Maneuvering

The Sudanese-‘Israeli’ Peace Deal Required Lots Of Behind-The-Scenes Maneuvering

29 OCTOBER 2020

The Sudanese-

The Sudanese-”Israeli” peace deal isn’t a spontaneous act of reconciliation like it’s misportrayed by some as being but the result of lots of behind-the-scenes maneuvering including last year’s military coup and recent reports that Saudi Arabia will secretly pay Sudan’s agreed-upon $335 million in compensation to US victims of terrorism.

The Road To Recognition

Sudan, which was once ruled by one of the most anti-Zionist governments in the world, announced that it’ll normalize “relations” with “Israel” following the planned signing of a US-brokered peace deal between the two decades-long foes. This wasn’t a spontaneous act of reconciliation like it’s misportrayed by some as being but the result of lots of behind-the-scenes maneuvering over the past few years. It’s important to trace the sequence of events in order to obtain a better understanding of how something as significant as this development came about. It wasn’t by any means an impulsive decision, but one that was at least several years in the making and entirely the result of external meddling into Sudanese affairs.

The Yemen Factor

Former President Bashir was deposed in a military coup last year during large-scale protests reportedly as a result of his armed forces’ refusal to use violent force for dispersing the increasingly riotous unrest. Prior to that “deep state”-driven regime change, the country had gradually aligned itself with the GCC throughout the course of its ongoing War on Yemen, having previously been more closely affiliated with Iran in the years prior. The North African state’s “pariah” status due to its earlier hosting of Osama Bin Laden and support of militant anti-Zionist causes abroad gave it few options other than partnering with the Islamic Republic and China. The War on Yemen, however, was the cynical “opportunity” to change all of that, or so President Bashir thought.

The large-scale dispatch of Sudanese troops and mercenaries to the conflict zone coincided with the country cutting its ties with Iran in January 2016, after which it was for all intents and purposes under the GCC’s near-total influence. The period from that moment until the military coup can be interpreted in hindsight as the time when that not-so-secretly-”Israeli”-backed military bloc extended its sway throughout the country, relying on its newfound leverage over the powerful armed forces. This set the stage for the regime change that would later follow and subsequently transform Sudan into a GCC protectorate for lack of a better description. Its new GCC-allied military leadership then began to seriously consider “normalizing” ties with “Israel” in earnest.

The stumbling block to the country’s removal from international isolation has always been its designation by the US as a so-called “state sponsor of terrorism”. Former President Bashir mistakenly thought that this could be nixed in exchange for contributing so much to the GCC’s War on Yemen, yet that never materialized since the real quid pro quo was recognition of “Israel”, which would have generated even more serious unrest than the anti-government protests that uncontrollably spread throughout the country in spring 2019. For that reason, the former leader refused to take such a fateful step, though it was ultimately his undoing since he might have been able to secure the military’s loyalty in the face of those regime change riots had he done so.

The GCC’s “Deep State” Scheme

The only way for him to have politically survived that unrest would have been for the military to support his reported decision to use lethal force in quelling them. They didn’t though, not because they sympathized with the protesters, but because they were no longer loyal to the country’s internationally recognized leader due to the massive inroads that the “Israeli”-backed GCC made in flipping this “deep state” institution against him over the preceding years. It wasn’t actually former President Bashir’s decision to make upon thinking about it, but the GCC’s, and they needed him removed in order to advance the “deal of the century”.

It’s unclear whether or not they played a role in inciting the regime change unrest at the time, but they almost certainly ensured that it wouldn’t be quelled by the armed forces that were more loyal to the GCC than to former President Bashir. Upon his removal, the military leadership then sought to recognize “Israel” with the GCC’s support, but Sudan first had to be removed from the US’ “state sponsors of terrorism” list, which is where Saudi Arabia comes in. Although the UAE is arguably the stronger of the two GCC leaders right now, Saudi Arabia still regards itself as the bloc’s “big brother”, which might be why reports have recently circulated that it offered to pay Sudan’s agreed-upon $335 million compensation to US victims of terrorism and their families.

Although it can’t be known for certain, those reports certainly seem credible since Sudan is among the world’s most impoverished nations and couldn’t realistically afford to pay such an enormous sum without some sort of secret support. Iran described the planned payment as a “ransom” to be taken off of the US’ “state sponsors of terrorism” list, which is actually a pretty accurate description even though it seems like it’s Saudi Arabia that’ll end up paying this fee instead of Sudan. Some Sudanese seem to agree with this assessment as evidenced by former Prime Minister Mahdi’s condemnation of it. His criticism is notable since he currently heads the country’s largest political party and presumably reflects popular sentiment in this respect.

The American Agenda

Without paying this “ransom” (regardless of whoever ultimately foots the bill), Sudan would never have been taken off the US’ list, which in turn would have created uncomfortable optics for “Israel” if a state regarded by the American government as a “state sponsor of terrorism” officially recognized it. For this reason, it can be surmised that the real quid pro quo was recognition of “Israel” by the post-coup military authorities in exchange for Saudi Arabia secretly paying its agreed-upon compensation, with the end result being the deepening of the “Israeli”-GCC axis’ influence in a geostrategic part of Africa. From an American perspective, this is the ideal outcome since it satisfies all of the US’ interests.

A former leader who had previously partnered with Iran was removed under the pretext of a “patriotic” military “restoring democracy” in accordance with the “people’s will”, which thus provides the cover for it go against the legitimate will of the people by subsequently recognizing “Israel”. The protests that this move might provoke could easily be put down by the “democratic military” with lethal force like they could have done in spring 2019 when confronted with the regime change riots but instead chose not to do out of loyalty to their “Israeli”-backed GCC patrons. Back then without any public decision to recognize “Israel”, it would have been condemned by the West as a crime against humanity, yet now it can be ignored or even justified by them.

The lessons to be learned from this are several. The first is that authoritarian states (the objective description of which shouldn’t be interpreted as expressing any value judgement) are most easily influenced through their “deep states”, particularly their military and intelligence factions. Second, economically desperate states impoverished by years of intense sanctions might try to break their “isolation” by participating in foreign military adventures, which in turn inadvertently leads to their “deep states” being co-opted by their newfound “partners”. Third, this external meddling can be exploited during times of national crisis to encourage regime change which finally leads to the targeted state coming under the full control of a foreign government.

Concluding Thoughts

Looking forward, this model could realistically be repeated elsewhere across the world, but that doesn’t mean that it’ll always succeed. Former President Bashir’s biggest mistake was thinking that allying with the “Israeli”-backed GCC would eventually provide an exit from international “isolation”. What he should have instead done was double down on relations with China while staying out of the War on Yemen. Even if he still went through with cutting off ties with Iran as a “goodwill gesture” towards the GCC, he could have still retained enough strategic autonomy through an enhanced partnership with China to remain in office, deliver economic benefits to his people, and enable Sudan to retain its de-facto independence instead of become someone else’s proxy.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

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Nigeria’s Racing Towards A Nightmare Scenario

Nigeria’s Racing Towards A Nightmare Scenario

22 OCTOBER 2020

Nigeria

The sudden outbreak of multisided violence in Nigeria’s largest city is pushing Africa’s most populous country towards the nightmare scenario of full-fledged destabilization which could have tremendous humanitarian and geopolitical consequences if it isn’t stopped before the situation spirals even further out of control.

Anti-SARS Destabilization

The world’s attention abruptly turned towards Africa’s most populous country on Wednesday after the sudden outbreak of multisided violence in Nigeria’s largest city of Lagos. The situation is still extremely fluid and there isn’t any consensus on exactly what happened except that the security services and protesters clashed over the contentious issue of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) that was earlier accused by Amnesty International of committing very serious human rights violations. Some accounts claim that the security services opened fire on peaceful protesters, others say that the protesters themselves started attacking the security services without provocation and were therefore the first to cross the escalation threshold, while another interpretation is that provocateurs (possibly sent by the government) infiltrated the protest and provoked the second-mentioned scenario. At least a dozen people have been killed according to Amnesty International’s estimate and Lagos was placed on a 24-hour curfew.

An Inordinate Amount Of International Attention

Casual observers might be surprised by how much attention this event has generated since much worse acts of violence routinely happen in other parts of African such as Burkina Faso and the Congo but rarely become mainstream news. Nigeria’s situation is different since it’s Africa’s most populous country and largest economy, which means that it simply can’t be ignored. In addition, the Nigerian diaspora is very patriotic and passionate about their homeland, which greatly helps to raise awareness about events there. So quickly did this violence go viral that many American celebrities soon chimed in on social media to offer their support to the anti-SARS protesters, which might have either been sincerely expressed or just a shrewd business calculation. Regardless of their motivation, they helped ensure that everyone in the world was talking about Nigeria, which also happened to coincide with both Democratic presidential candidate Biden‘s and former Secretary of State Clinton‘s condemnations of the government.

Contrasting Views Of Security Service Reform

Before discussing the dark scenarios that might soon unfold in the near future, it’s important for the reader to obtain a better understanding of how everything got to this point. Nigeria’s cosmopolitan society has many pent-up frustrations, both general ones such as economic and anti-corruption issues but also more particular grievances related to the interests of its many different identity groups (oversimplified for brevity’s sake along the regional North-South and religious Muslim-Christian axes as well as ethnic). The state, which has historically been under the heavy influence of the military, is feeling this pressure and might also have its own legitimate concerns related to its fear that sudden destabilizations could spiral out of control and “Balkanize” the country according to the Hybrid War scenarios that the author identified in his extensive 2017 strategic risk study. The presently identity-diverse anti-SARS movement is agitating for structural reform of the security services while their target is cautious about changing too much too quickly for fear of losing its capabilities and control.

Superficial Reforms Provoked More Protests

The state’s superficial reform of disbanding SARS and promising to replace it with a new Red Cross-trained police unit didn’t satisfy the protesters who want its former members to be held to account instead of simply redeployed to other units. They also don’t trust that new training would be sufficient for ensuring that the alleged abuses don’t repeat themselves and are therefore calling for more oversight, transparency, and psychological evaluation of the new unit’s officers. From the security service’s perspective, this might hamstring their ability to thwart legitimate threats even though it would provide a strong safeguard against their representatives committing more humanitarian abuses against the populace. Following the outbreak of violence that resulted from unclear circumstances, both sides apparently went wild attacking the other, with the rioters torching many buildings including the High Court of Lagos while the security services literally hunted some of them down in the streets and might have even killed innocent people.

Escalation Scenarios

Several scenarios can develop apart from the best-case one of de-escalation. The first is that the security services (indefinitely?) impose a harsh martial law-like regime, using that time to round up suspects and possibly even terrorize the population by targeting innocent people too with the (counterproductive) intent of forcing them into submission and deterring any repeat of the riots. The second is that the clashes continue, albeit with differing frequency and intensity irrespective of whether the martial law-like regime is extended. This and the third scenario of wider unrest that spreads throughout the country could be exploited by more identity-specific groups (ethnic, regional, religious, etc.), including those that utilize terrorist means. All four scenarios can radicalize people to the point where they’re susceptible to those aforementioned groups’ messages, lead to significant international pressure through sanctions and other means, and/or result in regime tweaking (reform), regime change (self-explanatory), or a regime reboot (radical constitutional change).

Several Observations Thus Far

Regardless of what transpires, a few observations can be made about what’s happened thus far. The first is that the anti-corruption movement has thus far proven its ability to unite many of Nigeria’s diverse people under the banner of a single cause, which is significant. Secondly, their protests were facilitated by mobile phone and social media proliferation, which is booming in Nigeria. Thirdly, although elements of Color Revolution technology are being employed, it’s not black and white in the sense that it shouldn’t automatically be assumed that this means that a foreign hand is behind the events or that the cause itself is illegitimate. The fourth point is that the protest movement has been able to bring so many people out into the streets simply because they have the opportunity to protest since many don’t have formal jobs, if any at all, thus speaking to the political consequences of Nigeria’s economic challenges that could be exacerbated by sanctions. And fifth, self-sustaining cycles of unrest aren’t difficult to provoke in tense contexts regardless of which side is to blame.

The Worst-Case Scenarios

The worst-case scenario that nobody wants to see happen is that the anti-SARS situation escalates to the point of a national crisis which risks triggering the collapse of Africa’s largest country by worsening its many fault lines to the point of a multisided civil war. Thus far, the chances of that happening are low, but still shouldn’t be discounted. From the Western perspective, a slightly less terrible scenario would be that the state doesn’t concede to the protesters’ demands despite what might be heavy sanctions pressure in the coming future. Under those circumstances and especially if the violence continues to rage, the population might become more desperate and radicalized while the authorities might pivot more closely to China in response to being rebuffed by its then-former Western partners. In that event, even if a regime tweaking/change/reboot eventually commences, the West’s top geopolitical rival might be able to deepen its influence within the country to the point of ensuring that such outcomes don’t endanger its newfound entrenchment of interests there.

Concluding Thoughts

It’s difficult to tell what will happen next in Nigeria since no observer has enough information about the protest movement, international pressure plans, and the security services’ calculations to make very accurate predictions about this dynamic situation. Nevertheless, it’s still possible to analyze the origins, recent development, and larger contours of this situation in order to obtain a better understanding about everything as a whole like the author has sought to do. This should hopefully assist observers in tracking relevant trends related to these possibly emerging crisis that could thenceforth facilitate the creation of more finely tuned analytical products for better forecasting its possible evolution. Although the situation seems to be an entirely domestic one at the moment, the upsurge of international attention from influential political figures hints that foreign players might soon try to indirectly influence the course of events through sanctions or even more directly by supporting certain anti-government forces, which could make everything much worse.

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

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst


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Why Wasn’t There Any Post-Election Turmoil In Tajikistan?

Why Wasn’t There Any Post-Election Turmoil In Tajikistan?

16 OCTOBER 2020

Why Wasn

Unlike fellow former Soviet Republics Belarus and even neighboring Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan’s latest elections didn’t result in any turmoil even though one might have expected it to have due to some similarly discernible risk factors, but that wasn’t the case (at least not yet) for five primary reasons.

Tajikistan’s latest elections came and went without any turmoil unlike the recent ones in fellow former Soviet Republics Belarus and even neighboring Kyrgyzstan, the first of which is now in the midst of an ever-intensifying Color Revolution while the latter just experienced a successful regime change operation which led to the president’s resignation. Some observers expected Tajikistan to follow in their footsteps, especially since it has some similarly discernible risk factors such as a long-serving ruler, an impoverished population (even before the onset of World War C), and a history of internationally criticized election results (to put it mildly). The very fact that this wasn’t the case, however (at least not yet), can be attributed to five primary factors:

* Lucid Memories Of The Former Civil War Deter Regime Change Scenarios

Tajikistan’s former civil war from 1992-1997 was a complex conflict with regional, clan, and religious dimensions. It’s estimated to have killed at least 65,000 people and internally displaced 20% of the population. President Rahmon, who first took office at the beginning of the conflict, still rules the country to this day. Although some members of the population might still be unhappy with him or eventually became fatigued after his nearly three-decade-long rule, they all remember what a tragedy the civil war was and few want to risk doing anything that could repeat it, such as unleashing a Color Revolution or returning to anti-state militancy.

* Afghanistan’s ISIS-K Threat Reminds Everyone Why Stability Is So Important

Even among those “well-intended” members of society who might silently wish for profound political change, they’re keenly aware of the ISIS-K terrorist threat in neighboring Afghanistan. In the event that Tajikistan is destabilized because of post-electoral unrest, the world’s most notorious terrorist group might be able to more easily exploit events in order to establish a territorial foothold in Central Asia. Lucid memories of the former civil war already act as a powerful regime change deterrent for many, but for the most “passionate” among them who might still clamor for change, then the threat of ISIS-K might deter all but the most radical “activists”.

* The “Islamic Renaissance Party” Is Banned & Foreign-Linked NGOs Are Regulated

The “Islamic Renaissance Party” (IRP) played a key role supporting the opposition during the civil war and resultantly earned the right to be legalized as the only such Islamist party in the region after the conflict ended. It was once again banned five years ago and subsequently linked to several terrorist attacks in the country. Some Westerners argue that banning it radicalizes its members, but one can also argue that the IRP was already becoming a front for radical goals. Tajikistan’s regulation of foreign-linked NGOs complemented its crackdown on the IRP by reducing external influence over its domestic political processes, thus stabilizing the state.

* Tajikistan’s “Strongman” System Keeps Regional & Clan Conflicts Under Control

Objectively speaking, Tajikistan’s contemporary politics are a textbook example of a “strongman” system. President Rahmon has thus far succeeded in keeping regional and clan conflicts under control unlike neighboring Kyrgyzstan which jettisoned its “strongman” model after its Color Revolutions in 2005 and 2010. As can now be seen, so-called “democratic” Kyrgyzstan (as described by its many NGOs’ Western patrons) is much more unstable than “strongman” Tajikistan, which vindicates many of the controversial moves that President Rahmon made during his time in office. To his credit, he’s kept the peace for almost a quarter of a century.

* Russian Intelligence Likely Has Greater Freedom To Thwart Hybrid War Threats

Tajikistan is Russia’s first line of defense from Afghan-emanating Hybrid War threats, both those related to ISIS terrorism and also the “Weapons of Mass Migration” which might be driven from the Central Asian region to the Eurasian Great Power due to the first-mentioned trigger factor. It’s likely a lot easier for Russian intelligence to thwart these threats by cooperating real closely with its political allies within a “strongman” system compared to a “democratic” one like in Kyrgyzstan. It therefore can’t be ruled out that Russia played a leading role behind the scenes in ensuring that there wasn’t any post-election turmoil in Tajikistan.

——————–

The five primary factors that were elaborated upon above help explain why Tajikistan didn’t become destabilized after its latest election unlike Belarus and Kyrgyzstan. That said, instability might eventually erupt in the country if the younger generation has little to no memory of the civil war and becomes politically and/or religiously radicalized through the internet. It’s difficult for a faraway observer such as the author to measure those variables, though they mustn’t be discounted in principle since they represent latent threats that could spiral out of control if left unchecked. One should assume that there are domestic and external forces interested in exploiting them, but the speculated role that Russian intelligence plays in securing the country’s political stability should hopefully suffice for ensuring that no such dark scenarios transpire anytime soon.

Tags: Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, Russia, Central Asia, Regime Change, Hybrid War.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst


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Scenario Forecasting: What Could A Russian Intervention In Nagorno-Karabakh Look Like?

Scenario Forecasting: What Could A Russian Intervention In Nagorno-Karabakh Look Like?

14 OCTOBER 2020

Scenario Forecasting: What Could A Russian Intervention In Nagorno-Karabakh Look Like?

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov’s suggestion to deploy Russian peacekeepers and military observers into the universally recognized Azerbaijani territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and its seven surrounding districts under Armenian occupation pending both sides’ agreement raises the prospect of Moscow’s military intervention in this conflict, which is worthwhile examining since this scenario isn’t as far-fetched as some might think.

Dramatic Developments

Wednesday saw two dramatic developments in the Nagorno-Karabakh Continuation War which suggest that it’s either spiraling further out of control or might almost counterintuitively be on the brink of being brought back under control depending on which direction events proceed in the coming days. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov suggested that his country could deploy peacekeepers and military observers into the universally recognized Azerbaijani territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and its seven surrounding districts under Armenian occupation pending both sides’ agreement in order to monitor the ceasefire. This was proposed after reports that Azerbaijan struck several missile launchers inside Armenia earlier that day which were allegedly preparing to hit targets in its territory and possibly repeat last weekend’s Ganja attack or some similar crime against civilians.

Intervention Pretexts

In theory, any external attack against the territory of Russia’s CSTO Armenia ally could trigger Moscow’s conventional military intervention on Yerevan’s side, but the legal dilemma that the Eurasian Great Power would face (apart from already being wary of Armenia’s attempts to draw it into the war) is that Azerbaijan can argue that it was preemptively defending itself from unprovoked acts of aggression and therefore enforcing the ceasefire in its own way. Nevertheless, as the saying goes for better or for worse, “might makes right” so Russia could always act first and then make its legal case after having already changed the facts on the ground. That scenario is unlikely though for the earlier mentioned reason that Russia wants to avoid being dragged into this conflict, let alone potentially squaring off against Azerbaijan’s Turkish NATO ally.

It might be for that reason why the peacekeeper and military observer proposals were openly floated by the Russian Foreign Minister since they represent a “middle ground” of sorts for Moscow. The emerging narrative that Syrian and Libyan militants are entering the conflict zone to fight on Azerbaijan’s side with Turkey’s support — which is vehemently denied by both Baku and Ankara — adds a sense of urgency to this proposal from the perspective of Russian domestic politics. Even so, however, it wouldn’t at this moment be a plausible enough pretext since the potential deployment of those Russian forces there pending all sides’ agreement wouldn’t stop any speculative spread of foreign militants into the North Caucasus. After all, it wouldn’t make sense for such fighters — if they’re actually even there — to travel to Russia via Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia.

The “Dark Scenario”

The likelihood therefore exists that the emerging militant narrative might be refined, perhaps with forthcoming reports from the Russian side, in order to make it more convincing, though that would presumably entail suggesting that those fighters might enter Russia via its border with Azerbaijan or even outright make an accusation to that effect. It’s unclear whether Russia would be willing to proverbially “cross the Rubicon” in such a way which would reverse the past decade of progress on bilateral relations just to create the pretext for the unilateral military intervention that would probably follow in that instance, which it hasn’t shown any signs of seriously considering contrary to some “wishful thinking” narratives. Still, since the purpose of this piece is to forecast scenarios, it can’t be outright dismissed even though it’s very unlikely.

In the event that any progress is made on that aforementioned front, then it would amount to the rupturing of relations with Azerbaijan and probably also Turkey, the latter consequence of which might be felt most immediately in Syria. This scenario would also suggest that either some lobbying efforts were successful in Russia and/or that Moscow decided to intervene in advance of its own currently unclear reasons but felt uncomfortable doing so under the pretext of supporting Armenia’s American- and Soros-backed leader, hence the focus on foreign militants. That said, the author feels obligated to state that he doesn’t believe that this scenario is plausible at the moment because no credible indications have been observed. Russia’s impressive restraint in resisting the pressure of some interest groups to intervene shows its commitment to neutrality.

Armenian & Azerbaijani Concerns

Having dismissed the “dark scenario” of a unilateral Russian military intervention under the anti-militant pretext which could quickly spark a CSTO-NATO crisis, it’s now time to explore the ways in which an intervention could be managed by most or all of the concerned stakeholders in order to advance the long-overdue political solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Armenia is increasingly operating as a “rogue state” through its attacks on Azerbaijani targets outside the conflict zone, to say nothing of those against civilians, but if Russia can rein in its wayward ally, then it might be able to convince it to accept the deployment of peacekeepers and military observers in order to prevent its total loss in the war. Both sides trust Russia, yet there are also some reservations about what its ultimate role would be following any possible intervention.

For example, some Azerbaijanis are concerned that Russia might simply seek to formalize the status quo and thus prevent the implementation of the four UNSC Resolutions (822853874884) that Russia itself voted for demanding the Armenian military’s full, immediate, and unconditional withdrawal from universally recognized Azerbaijani territory. Likewise, some Armenians might fear that Russia would “betray” them (as they might misleadingly frame it) by pressuring them to abide by the same international legal demands that Moscow itself reiterated on four separate occasions in 1993 through the UNSC. Sputnik’s live update feed from Wednesday reported that “Armenian PM Says Azerbaijan Demanded That Yerevan Surrender 7 Regions Around Karabakh in Exchange for Peace”, which Pashinyan rejected, meaning that he openly flaunts his defiance of international law.

The Speculative Scenario

Since Russia never misses the chance to publicly reiterate its commitment to international law, it can be safely assumed that Moscow disagrees with Yerevan’s illegal stance. Still, Russia might leverage its world-class diplomatic skill to convince Armenia that it won’t seek to implement the relevant UNSC Resolutions if all sides agree to its military intervention, at least not right away that is, though that might then make Baku balk at supporting this for the above-mentioned reason related to its suspicion that this scenario would just formalize the pro-separatist status quo. That might be avoided if Russia secretly coordinates its diplomatic outreaches to Armenia with Azerbaijan, which could lead to Baku not objecting to this scenario as long as it was assured that Moscow would indeed seek to implement those UNSC Resolutions (even if not right away).

Taking Turkish Interests Into Account

The so-called “elephant in the room” is Turkey, which Azerbaijan previously said must be involved in the peace process in one way or another. Armenia is obviously against that so it wouldn’t agree to anything that could result in its hated foe’s military intervention in the conflict. This rules out any bilateral agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan to allow a joint Russian-Turkish peacekeeping and military observer force to operate in the occupied territories, except of course if Russia pressures Armenia to accept it or the Turkish force follows the Russian one per a secret agreement between Moscow, Ankara, and Baku sometime after the Russian forces are deployed. This is of course speculative and there aren’t any indications suggesting that it’s being considered at the moment, but it might be the “surprise twist” needed to peacefully end the conflict once and for all.

To explain, replicating the Russian-Turkish Syrian scenario of joint patrols and diplomatic coordination might result in a much-needed breakthrough for resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. This hasn’t happened in Syria for a variety of reasons related to that conflict’s uniqueness, but in the unexpected event that Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to a joint Russian-Turkish mission or a comparatively more likely Russian peacekeeping and military observer deployment that was eventually followed by a Turkish one after the separatists were under Russia’s control (per a secret agreement between Moscow, Ankara, and Baku), then the facts on the ground could theoretically be changed in favor of advancing a political solution in according with the Madrid Principles. Russia might operate in Nagorno-Karabakh, Turkey in five of the seven surrounding occupied districts, and joint patrols in the two remaining ones linking Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia.

Can Russian Diplomacy Save The Day?

The reader must remember that Armenia is extremely unlikely to ever agree to this and that the speculated scenario could probably occur only if it and Azerbaijan reach an initial agreement solely allowing for the deployment of Russian forces, but if Moscow has the political will to cut a secret pragmatic deal with Baku and Ankara to the end that the author wrote about, then it could truly be a game-changer for reining in the “rogue state” of Armenia and finally implementing the four UNSC Resolutions. It would first and foremost require trust between Russia and Azerbaijan since Baku would need to have absolute faith that Moscow would keep its word in any secret trilateral arrangement with Ankara, and then Russia would need to convince Armenia that its proposed deployment wouldn’t ever involve any Turkish component. This would be a herculean task for Russian diplomats.

If they can pull it off, though, then it might eventually end the war by non-military means. Specifically, it provides a formula for implementing the Madrid Principles related to the “return of the seven surrounding districts to Azerbaijani control” (five of which would have a Russian-facilitated Turkish peacekeeper and military observer presence); “an interim status for Nagorno-Karabakh providing guarantees for security and self-governance” (which would be the responsibility of Russian forces); and “a corridor linking Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh (under the joint control of Russian-Turkish forces). In theory, Russian and Turkish forces would “keep each other in check” to prevent either from too openly siding with the warring party that they’re most closely associated with, and joint control of the corridor would ensure that neither side exploits it for their own purposes.

Concluding Thoughts

What the author aimed to do in this analysis was forecast the most likely scenarios in which a Russian military intervention into the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict might occur. The “dark scenario” of a unilateral one risking a dual war with Azerbaijan and Turkey (perhaps even with NATO too) was discounted since it’s not at all in Russia’s interests, but the pragmatic one of having Russian forces there later open the door for Turkish ones to join them might present the breakthrough that’s needed to finally implement the four UNSC Resolutions on peacefully resolving this long-standing issue. To be absolutely clear, the author is not predicting that any of this will definitely happen nor is he imposing any plan onto anyone, but all that he’s doing is provoking out-of-the-box thinking by all sides in order to hopefully inspire a creative solution that could pave the way for peace.

Tags: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh, Russia, Turkey.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

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Expert Analysis

A New Wall For A New Cold War?

A New Wall For A New Cold War?

12 OCTOBER 2020

A New Wall For A New Cold War?

The head of the prestigious Munich Security Conference warned late last month against efforts to “build a new ‘wall’ between Russia and the West” in light of the Navalny incident and the many other disagreements between both sides, and while it’s unrealistic to expect another Berlin Wall-like physical division of Europe, there’s no denying that their different governing models have created a sharp split across the continent.

Welcome To The New Cold War

Last month will probably go down in history as the moment when the New Cold War became impossible to deny. The US has been attempting to rekindle its fading unipolarity since the onset of its coordinated Hybrid War “containment” campaigns against Russia and China in 2014, which only intensified in the aftermath of Trump’s election. The leaders of all three countries addressed the UN General Assembly (UNGA) by video in a series of speeches that laid bare these two sides’ contradictory assessments of contemporary global affairs and related visions of the future. Their keynote speeches were preceded by UN Secretary General Guterres warning the world that “We must do everything to avoid a New Cold War.” Trump obviously didn’t listen to him, which is why the head of the prestigious Munich Security Conference (MSC) followed up that global representative’s warning with his own at the end of that historic week cautioning that “It will result in nothing if we now try to build a new ‘wall’ between Russia and the West because of Navalny and other sad and terrible events.” It’s his dramatic words that form the basis of the present article.

The US’ Hybrid War On Russia

There are many angles through which the ongoing global competition can be analyzed, but the prospect of a new wall of some sort or another accompanying the New Cold War in Europe is among the most intriguing. The MSC head presumably isn’t implying the creation of a 21st-century Berlin Wall, but seems to be speaking more generally about his fear that the growing divisions between Russia and the West will soon become irreversible and potentially even formalized as the new status quo. The author wrote last month that “The US’ Hybrid War On Russian Energy Targets Germany, Belarus, And Bulgaria”, pointing out how even the partial success of this latest “containment” campaign will greatly advance the scenario of an externally provoked “decoupling” between Russia and the West. That would in turn help secure American grand strategic interests in the continent. This “decoupling” would reverse the progress that was made in bilateral relations since the end of the Old Cold War up until the Ukrainian Crisis. Taken to its maximum extent, the spiritual return of the Berlin Wall seems almost inevitable at this point.

Governing Differences

It’s true that the border between the NATO countries and Russia’s CSTO (which importantly includes Hybrid War-targeted Belarus) represents the modern-day military equivalent of the “Iron Curtain”, but the situation isn’t as simple as that. While military divisions remain (albeit pushed much further eastward over the past three decades), ideological and economic ones are less apparent. Russia no long ascribes to communism but follows its own national variant of democracy within a mostly capitalist system, thus reducing the structural differences between itself and its Western counterparts. Unaware observers might wonder why there’s even a New Cold War to begin with when considering how much both sides have in common with one another, but that overlooks their contradictory worldviews which lie at the heart of their mutual suspicions. Russia strongly believes in safeguarding its geopolitical and domestic socio-political sovereignty so it accordingly follows a more conservative path whereas Western countries mostly submit to the US’ authority and generally regard their liberal position on many social issues as universalist.

The End Of The “Great Convergence”

The reason why the thaw in Russian-Western relations failed to achieve the “Great Convergence” that Gorbachev originally hoped for was because the US wanted to impose its will onto Russia by treating it as just another vassal state that would be forced to follow its lead abroad and accept extreme liberal social mandates at home instead of respecting it as an equal partner. Nevertheless, this policy was actually surprisingly successful all throughout the 1990s under Yeltsin, but its fatal flaw was that it went much too far too quickly by attempting to dissolve the Russian Federation through American support for Chechen separatist-terrorist groups. That inadvertently provoked a very patriotic reaction from the responsible members of Russia’s military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) who worked together to ensure their motherland’s survival in the face of this existential crisis. The end result was that Putin succeeded Yeltsin and subsequently set about to systematically save Russia. This took the form of stabilizing the security situation at home in parallel with reasserting Russia on the world stage.

The “Russian Model”

Putin, though, was always a liberal in the traditional (not post-modern) sense. He never lost his appreciation for Western civilization and sincerely wanted to complete Gorbachev’s hoped-for “Great Convergence”, though only on equal terms and not as a US vassal. Regrettably, the Russian leader’s many olive branches were slapped away by an angry America which feared the influence that a powerful “moderately liberal” state could have on its hyper-liberal subjects. All of Putin’s efforts to take the “Great Convergence” to its next logical step of a “Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok” failed for this reason, after which an intense information warfare campaign was waged to portray Russia was a “radical right-wing state” even though it was never anything of the sort. This modus operandi was intended to prevent Europe’s indoctrinated masses from ever countenancing whether a “moderate” alternative exists whereby they’d preserve their domestic and international sovereignty despite remaining committed to traditional liberal values, just like the “Russian model” that Putin pioneered. Understandably, this would pose a serious threat to American strategic interests, hence the campaign against it.

The Rise Of America’s Russian Rival

As time went on, the “Russian model” was partially replicated in some of the countries of Central Europe such as Poland and even within the US itself through Trump’s election, though this wasn’t due to any so-called “Russian meddling” but was a natural result of the ideological interplay between radical and “moderate” liberals. It just so happened that Russia was the first country to implement this model not because of anything uniquely “Russian” within its society, but simply as the most pragmatic survival plan considering the extremely difficult circumstances of the 1990s and attendant limits on the country’s strategic maneuverability during that time. It was considered by the patriotic members of Russia’s “deep state” to be much too risky to reverse the direction of post-Soviet reforms, hence why the decision seems to have been made to continue with them, though doing all in the country’s power to regain control over these processes from Russia’s Western overlords in order to protect national geopolitical and domestic socio-political interests. This struggle led to Russia becoming an alternative pole of influence (in the governance sense) within the “Greater West”, rivaling the US.

Hillary & Trump: Same Anti-Russian Strategy, Different Infowar Tactics

With this insight in mind, the New Cold War was inevitable in hindsight. Had Hillary been elected, then the infowar narrative would have focused more on Russia’s different “values”, seeking to present its target as a “threat to the (hyper-liberal) Western way of life”. Since Trump’s America interestingly enough shares many of the same values as contemporary Russia does, however, the focus is on geopolitical differences instead. From the prism of International Relations theory, Hillary’s angle of attack against Russia would have been more liberal whereas Trump’s is more realist. Either way, both American leaders (theoretical in the first sense and actual in the second) have every reason to fear Russia since it challenges the US’ unipolar dominance in Europe. Hillary would have wanted to portray Russia as being outside of the “Western family of nations”, though Trump can’t convincingly do that given his much more high-profile provocations against obviously non-Western China, hence why he’s basically competing with Russia for leadership of the “moderate” liberal model of Western civilization, ergo accepting their structural similarities but instead over-hyping their geopolitical differences.

Post-Soviet Russia’s Irreversible Impact On Western Civilization

Taking all of the aforementioned into account, it’s understandable why the US wants to build a “new wall” in Europe by “decoupling” its NATO-captive subjects from Russia through a series of Hybrid Wars, though the genie is out of the bottle since some Central European countries like Poland the even the US itself under Trump already implement elements of the “Russian model”. This means that while the physical separation of Russia and Europe along military, geopolitical, and soon perhaps even economic-energy lines is practically a fait accompli at this point, the ideological-structural influence emanating from Moscow is impossible to “contain”. No “wall” will reverse the impact that the “Russian model” has had on the course of Western civilization, though it should be remembered that the aforesaid model wasn’t part of some “cunning 5D chess plan” but an impromptu survival tactic that was triggered in response to American unipolar-universalist soft power aggression on post-Soviet Russia. It’s not distinctly “Russian”, which is why the hyper-liberal Western elite fear it so much since they know very well that it could take root in their countries too, just like in Poland and the US.

Concluding Thoughts

The typical Western mind is conditioned to think in terms of models, especially historical ones, which is why they imagine that the New Cold War will closely resemble the Old Cold War simply because of the effect that neuro-linguistic programming has on their thought process. This explains why the MSC head warned against the creation of a “new wall” between Russia and the West even though no such scenario is realistic. No physical barrier like the Berlin Wall will ever be erected again, and even though the geopolitical, military, and perhaps even soon economic-energy fault lines between them might become formalized through the impending success of the US’ “decoupling” strategy, this will not address the root cause of the New Cold War which lies with Russia’s “moderately liberal” model of state sovereignty in contrast to the US’ (former?) hyper-liberal universalist one of state vasselhood. It’s this difference that’s primarily responsible for every other dimension of their competition since it placed Russia on the trajectory of supporting a Multipolar World Order instead of the US’ hoped-for Unipolar World Order.

EgjymzKXcAEZe3b 

American political analyst

Tags: US, Russia, New Cold War, EU, Sanctions, Trump, Hybrid War, Civilizations, Regime Change.


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