Russia Is Reportedly Preparing To Defend The Central African Republic From A Coup
21 DECEMBER 2020
The Agence France Presse’s report on Monday citing Central African Republic spokesman Ange Maxim Kazagui’s claim that Russia “sent several hundred soldiers and heavy weapons” to stave off an impending armed coup attempt in the landlocked country is likely true since it aligns with Moscow’s “Democratic Security” interests in Africa.
The news just broke earlier on Monday that Russia “sent several hundred soldiers and heavy weapons” to the Central African Republic to stave off animpending armed coup attemptthere according to spokesman Ange Maxim Kazagui as cited by theAgence France Presse(AFP). The Kremlin has yet to confirm this report at the time of writing though President Putin’s spokesman Peskov voiced “deep concern” about the latest events there on the same day. Nevertheless, it’s likely that this actually did happen since it aligns with Moscow’s “Democratic Security” interests in Africa that I previously elaborated upon.
In the specific context of the Central African Republic, Russia was invited by its UN-recognized government to provide much-needed security assistance in stabilizing the country after its most recent civil war threatened to reachgenocidal proportions. Moscow has since become Bangui’s indispensable security partner, hence why it reportedly rushed to its aid to prevent the impending armed coup attempt that the government there warned about over the weekend.
Russia isn’t alone in its commitment to the Central African Republic’s stability since the previously mentioned spokesman is also quoted as saying that several hundred Rwandan troops were dispatched as well and are already “on the ground and have started fighting.” I wrote back in June 2018 following Foreign Minister Lavrov’s successful trip to Rwanda that month that “Rwanda Is Poised To Play In Irreplaceable Role In Russia’s ‘Pivot To Africa’”, explaining that Moscow appreciates the fact that Kigali is a Central African military superpower despite serious controversies over its role in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) infamous wars.
It’s unclear at this time whether the Russians and Rwandans are coordinating with one another or operating separately, but it wouldn’t be surprising if there’s at least some communication between their military representatives in this respect considering the fact that they share the same goal of defending the Central African Republic’s internationally recognized government from an impending armed coup attempt. If successful, then Russia will likely leverage its “military diplomacy” to expand relations with Rwanda, which is one of Africa’srapidly emerging tech and investment hubs, thus complementing Kigali’s Great Power “balancing” act.
As it stands, it’s too early to tell how far Russia’s reported intervention might go. There are just too many variables at play, including whether or not Russian and/or Rwandan troops will launch offensive operations against the rebels (be it independently or jointly). Moreover, the US might politicize the crisis by fearmongering about what it might dishonestly misportray as a “Russian invasion of Africa” in order to push for another round of sanctions against the Eurasian Great Power, perhaps in partnership with former colonial power France. In any case, it’s optimistically predicted that Russian forces will at least successfully defend the capital from capture.
What Kind Of Secretary Of State Might Antony Blinken Be?
25 NOVEMBER 2020
While Pompeo is brash, Blinken is humble, and this key difference might play a leading role in repairing America’s damaged reputation abroad after the past four years of current US President Trump’s bombastic foreign policy statements. Nevertheless, this impression shouldn’t be taken to mean that Blinken isn’t decisive.
Democrat presidential candidate and popularly projected winner of this month’s elections Joe Biden announced that he’ll nominate his close advisor Antony Blinken as the US’ next Secretary of State. Blinken is a veteran Democrat expert in the foreign policy field who comes from a family of diplomats. He previously served as Biden’s National Security Advisor when he was Vice-President as well as Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor and Deputy Secretary of State. The tremendous experience that Blinken will bring to a possible Biden Administration means that the world can expect a return to the US’ Obama-era foreign policy.
Media reports indicate that his personality is the complete opposite of current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. While Pompeo is brash, Blinken is humble, and this key difference might play a leading role in repairing America’s damaged reputation abroad after the past four years of current US President Trump’s bombastic foreign policy statements. Nevertheless, this impression shouldn’t be taken to mean that Blinken isn’t decisive. Other reports claim that he was in favor of former President Obama bombing Syria during the 2013 chemical weapons crisis, and former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul revealed some other interesting details.
According to the Financial Times in their article titled “Biden’s ‘alter ego’ Antony Blinken tipped for top foreign policy job”, McFaul said that Blinken was part of a secretive group of Democrats called the “Phoneix Initiative”. The former ambassador claimed that they began assembling in 2004 after former Democrat presidential candidate Kerry’s loss to incumbent President Bush Jr. Their debates allegedly consisted of passionate arguments in support of more robust national security strategies, including Blinken advocating very strongly for “human rights” according to McFaul.
This correlates with the US’ Obama-era foreign policy of supporting Color Revolutions and so-called “humanitarian interventions” across the world in countries as diverse as Ukraine and Libya respectively under such pretexts. Observers might thus be worried that these policies could repeat themselves under a possible Biden Presidency, which could in turn be destabilizing for Eastern Europe and the Mideast, especially if those aforesaid processes were weaponized for the purpose of geopolitically containing Russia and Iran. It’s too early to tell whether that’ll be the case, but it’s worth noting nonetheless.
Blinken was also critical of Russia over the past few years and even dramatically claimed in 2017 that “The president’s ongoing collusion with Russia’s plans is really striking, intentional or not.” It’s therefore unlikely that he’ll oversee any improvement of relations with Russia, which is worrisome because the two nuclear powers should renegotiate a new strategic weapons treaty after the New START expires early next year. Failing to do so for reasons possibly related to Blinken’s groundless suspicions of then-former President Trump’s relations with Russia (which were never proven despite several years of investigations) would worsen global insecurity.
On the topic of Iran, however, he seems to be much more pragmatic. Blinken supported the 2015 nuclear deal and would likely see the US attempt to return to it under a possible Biden presidency. While that might repair American-Iranian relations, it could also inadvertently worsen the US’ historical ties with Israel and Saudi Arabia, both of which are totally against the agreement. Still, it would represent a symbolic return to the UN-enshrined rules-based order if Blinken were to oversee the US’ return to that pact. Thus far, it can be concluded that he’d probably be harder on Russia but more flexible with Iran, but his stance towards China is unclear.
The same earlier cited Financial Times piece reported that Blinken told an interviewer during a recent podcast that “the US had to rebuild alliances to tackle the ‘democratic recession’ enabled by Mr Trump that let ‘autocracies from Russia to China . . . exploit our difficulties’.” This suggests that he might share some of his predecessor’s suspicions of China and thus be less pragmatic towards it than some had initially hoped after first hearing that Biden was projected by the media to be the next President-Elect. His ideological views towards governance hint that he might even try to strengthen the US’ regional alliances on a “democratic” basis.
It can only be hoped that Blinken wouldn’t let his personal opinions blind him to the fact that the US has no choice but to pragmatically cooperate with China despite those two countries’ different governing systems. Seeing the world in black-and-white terms of us-versus-them with respect to democracies versus what he regards as autocracies would be the wrong way to approach relations with the People’s Republic. It might even result in a possible Biden Administration ruining the chance to enter into a comprehensive rapprochement with China towards what some have predicted could even become a New Detente between the two if successful.
Russia & Turkey Stand To Lose The Most From A Biden Presidency
9 NOVEMBER 2020
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 consensusregarding 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 theirDemocratand 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 inhypersonic missile technologywhich 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 thesummer 2016 coup attemptagainst 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 Iranbecome the first countryto 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 onAzerbaijanandLibyadespite Iran’s Syrian ally having a different position towards those two conflicts to the surprise of theAlt-Media Community.
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.
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.
The Sudanese-‘Israeli’ Peace Deal Required Lots Of Behind-The-Scenes Maneuvering
29 OCTOBER 2020
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 dealbetween 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 amilitary couplast 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 countrycutting its tieswith 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 leaderrefusedto 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’scondemnationof 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 thedeepening of the “Israeli”-GCC axis’ influencein 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 canbe ignoredor 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.
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.
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.
The world’s attention abruptly turned towards Africa’s most populous country on Wednesday after thesudden outbreak of multisided violencein 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 byAmnesty Internationalof 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’sestimateand Lagos was placed on a24-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 asBurkina Fasoand theCongobut rarely become mainstream news. Nigeria’s situation is different since it’s Africa’s most populous country andlargest 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 thatmany American celebritiessoon 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 candidateBiden‘s and former Secretary of StateClinton‘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 theHybridWarscenarios that the author identified in hisextensive 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 wantits 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 buildingsincluding 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.
Several scenarios can develop apart from thebest-case oneof 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 ofColor Revolutiontechnology are being employed, it’snot black and whitein 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.
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.
Why Wasn’t There Any Post-Election Turmoil In Tajikistan?
16 OCTOBER 2020
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 Revolutionwhile the latter just experienced a successful regime change operationwhich 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 WorldWarC), 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 HybridWar 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.
The US’ Latest Anti-Iranian Sanctions Will Worsen The Trade War With China
21 SEPTEMBER 2020
The looming expiration of the UNSC arms embargo on Iran next month prompted the US to unilaterally declare that it regards these and other related sanctions as having been reimposed by the UN despite the global body failing to do so. This factually false pretext serves as the formal justification for the US to threaten so-called “secondary sanctions” against all those who violate its stance towards this issue, thereby turning Iran into an issue of worldwide significance once more. The global strategic context has changed in the nearly two and a half years since the US left the nuclear deal in May 2018, however, which is why the contemporary state of affairs in which this move is being made deserves to be analyzed in order to assess the real aims that the US intends to advance this time around.
After all, the only reason why the US is still pressuring Iran is because its earlier policy of “maximum pressure” failed to influence the targeted government, the same as it failed to convince the international community to support the US’ stance. In this sense, the latest moves must be seen as having been made from a position of weakness, one in which the US is no longer able to impose its fading unipolar hegemony like before. Nevertheless, the US can boast of a few successes such as scaring away India and many other close US partners from retaining their hitherto privileged energy and commercial relations with Iran, which could have crashed the country’s economy and provoked serious socio-political unrest had its people not proven their legendary resilience to such an externally encouraged HybridWardestabilization.
Iran’s increased “isolation” created a priceless opportunity for China to negotiate a rumored $400 billion comprehensive strategic partnership with the Islamic Republic, one whose details have yet to be verified but which is still widely thought to be significant. As former friends like India continue to stay away from Iran in response to the US’ intensified “maximum pressure” campaign, this will by default increase the importance of Iran’s relations with China, which in turn are poised to make the People’s Republic a serious player in the Mideast if it replicates its Pakistani model of investment to become the host country’s top partner. The US wants to avoid that happening at all costs, which is why the latest sanctions must also be seen in the context of the so-called “trade war” since the threatened “secondary” ones can inflame that economic conflict.
The rumored scale and scope of China’s reported investment interests in Iran presumes that its most important companies will participate in this gargantuan effort, thereby enabling the US to indirectly worsen the “trade war” in violation of “phase one” of their related agreement by imposing restrictions against them and perhaps even their other foreign partners in the worst-case scenario. In other words, the “maximum pressure” model that it’s been implementing against Huawei over the past year can be expanded to cover countless other companies as well. With this in mind, the latest unilateral sanctions aren’t just about “isolating” Iran, but “isolating” China too, though like practically everything that the Trump Administration has attempted over nearly the past four years, this strategy’s survival is dependent on the outcome of November’s elections.
Far from being just an intensification of the already failed “maximum pressure” policy against Iran, the US’ latest sanctions against the Islamic Republic are really intended to worsen its “trade war” with China. On the pretext of imposing “secondary sanctions” against any entity that violates its unilateral economic restrictions against the country, America can target in one fell swoop all the Chinese companies that plan to participate in the rumored $400 billion strategic partnership agreement between those two. This will enable it to replicate its “maximum pressure” policy against Huawei on an unprecedented level against countless other targets. Of course, for as ambitious as this unstated strategy is, it might remain nothing more than theoretical if Trump loses the upcoming elections and Biden decides to reverse his predecessor’s policy in this respect.
Is The Quad Plotting To Provoke A Proxy War With China In The Solomon Islands?
4 SEPTEMBER 2020
The leader of the Solomon Islands province of Malaita announced earlier this week that his region will seek independence from the central government due to its disagreement with the capital over the latter’s recognition of Beijing last year as the legitimate government of China, which could dangerously plunge this underdeveloped nation back into a state of civil conflict that could then be exploited by the Quad as a proxy war for “containing” Chinese influence in the South Pacific through “Balkanization”.
From The Global Periphery To The Center Of Attention
The South Pacific, long regarded as a far-flung region that’s largely irrelevant to all major countries apart from nearby Australia, has increasingly figured more prominent in global media reports over the past few years as the West has sought to portray this part of the world as the latest theater in the West’sNew Cold Warwith China. The narrative goes that China’s recent inroads through its Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) and some regional states’ decisions to recognize Beijing as the legitimate government of China has given the People’s Republic the opportunity to expand its influence there, which is being portrayed in a zero-sum manner as supposedly being a threat to Western interests. Political tensions have been building over the past year as more pressure was put upon these countries by their traditional Western partners to either reverse their relations with Beijing or at the very least “balance” them out by re-engaging with the Australia and/or the US, two of the four countries that comprise the so-called “Quad” alongside India and Japan which are collectively accused of seeking to “contain” China. Although concerning, this tense state of affairs had yet to destabilize the region, but that might soon change after the latest news coming from the Solomon Islands.
On The Precipice Of Civil War
The leader of the Malaita Province — the most populous one in the country that’s home to approximately a quarter of the Solomon Islands’ less than 700,000 people — announced earlier this week that his region will seek independence from the central government due to its disagreement with the capital over the latter’srecognition of Beijinglast year. This is especially troublesome because the Solomon Islands’ de-facto state of civil war that lasted between 1999-2003 and prompted a nearly 15-year-long Australian-led peacekeeping intervention directly concerned an ethno-regional dispute between Malaita and the neighboring island of Guadalcanal which hosts the country’s capital. The Capital Territory and Guadalcanal Province collectively have more people than Malaita does, which means that any possible exacerbation of their former conflict with one another over the China-Taiwan issue could immediately plunge approximately half of the Solomon Islands back into civil conflict. That, however, might be exactly what the Quad is hoping for since it could then easily exploit this unrest as a proxy war for “containing” Chinese influence in the South Pacific through “Balkanization”.
The Quad’s Hybrid War On The Solomon Islands
What’s important to point out is that the China-Taiwan issue is simply a trigger for thawing this unresolved conflict between the two islands and their people, one which predates the Quad’s formation by over a decade but could potentially be encouraged by them for the aforementioned reason. It’s extremely unlikely that the leader of Malaita Province would make such a dramatic announcement had he not already secured support from this bloc’s American and Australian members, both of whom have an interest in pushing back against what they’ve portrayed as the “aggressive” expansion of Chinese influence in the region that they’ve historically regarded as falling within their joint “sphere of influence”. The external exacerbation of preexisting identity conflicts for geostrategic reasons — especially those related to disrupting, controlling, or influencing transnational connective infrastructure projects such as BRI — fits the author’s definition ofHybrid War. That means that this scheme can rightly be described as the Quad’s Hybrid War on the Solomon Islands, which could become the catalyst of geostrategic change all across the New Cold War’s South Pacific theater if the “Balkanization” process that’s being unleashed in that country uncontrollably spreads throughout the region.
Formalizing The “Asian NATO”
Any resumption of civil war-like unrest in the Solomon Islands as a result of Malaita’s attempted secession will almost certainly prompt another international peacekeeping mission there, one which might be led not just by Australia like last time, but jointly by it and its other three Quad partners. After all, US Deputy Secretary of State Biegun declared his country’s intention earlier this week to create aNATO-like military blocin the so-called “Indo-Pacific” in order to “push back against China in virtually every domain” there. He strongly hinted that the Quad could play such a role, and another conflict in the Solomon Islands might be just what’s needed in order to provide the impetus for formalizing this structure to that point. The previous Australian-led peacekeeping mission wasn’t all that difficult compared to others across the world so a forthcoming one possibly led by the Quad’s four members could serve as the perfect opportunity for strengthening their military interoperability with one another in a real-world mission instead of just another exercise. It wouldn’t entail as much of a cost as doing so elsewhere in this transoceanic region should another Hybrid War be manufactured for that purpose, and the benefits to their bloc could be tremendous in terms of their grand strategic impact.
Special attention should be paid to how this scenario is already being sold to the public.Reutersquoted Malaita’s leader as evoking the UN principle of self-determination, which in this context could easily be spun in a way to sympathetically present him and his people as “freedom-loving democrats” opposed to the “Chinese-controlled tyrannical central government”. Considering how preconditioned many people across the world are to suspect China of ulterior motives through BRI, it wouldn’t be surprising if they fall for this emerging narrative. To make it more believable, unverified claims could be made about alleged human rights abuses carried out by the central government with Chinese support. Reports could also be spread fearmongering about the environmental consequences of any potential BRI projects on the island. Since the nearby Papua New Guinean Autonomous Region of Bougainville just held a non-bindingUN-recognizedindependence referendum that overwhelmingly passed last year, the legal precedent has been established for arguing that Malaita deserves the same opportunity to choose its own destiny as the only lasting solution to the Solomon Islands’ similar ethno-regional conflict.
Proxy War Scenarios
It’s impossible to predict in detail exactly how a Quad-China proxy war in the Solomon Islands could play out, but the initial conditions are such that one can nonetheless identify the broad contours of this conflict. Violence would probably be concentrated mostly in Malaita and among migrant communities on Guadalcanal, which would thus make them the two most likely places for a Quad-led peacekeeping force to deploy. If the central government successfully secures the capital region and its surroundings, then the peacekeeping mission might only concern Malaita and thus set it along the trajectory of seemingly inevitable independence pending a UN-recognized referendum there overseen by the Quad. If the authorities lose control of parts of Guadalcanal, however, then a regime change is certainly possible with or without a Quad-led military intervention there, one which could still result in Malaita’s eventual independence but also the reversal of the country’s recognition of Beijing back to Taipei. In the course of events, China might be compelled to evacuate some of its citizens if they’re targeted by the separatists, who might also attack them systematically in order to prompt China into deepening its political, financial, and perhaps even military support of the authorities through “mission creep”.
The news that the leader of a South Pacific island nation’s province announced his separatist intentions might have seemed so irrelevant to the rest of the world at first glance as to not warrant any serious attention, but the fact of the matter is that this event is actually extremely important because it’s poised to turn the South Pacific into the latest hot spot of the New Cold War. The authorpredicted three years agoin September 2017 that “it’s impossible to speculate on exactly what could set off a renewed round of violence in the [Solomon Islands], but the most probable scenarios have to do with a continuation conflict between the people of Guadalcanal island and neighboring Malaita, which was at the core of the ‘The Tensions’ in the first place.” That’s exactly what seems slated to happen after the leader of Malaita used the central government’s recognition of Beijing as the pretext for thawing this unresolved conflict, all with the very likely support of the Quad for the purpose of “containing” China in the region through “Balkanization”, which in turn could serve as the regional security impetus for formalizing the bloc into an “Asian NATO”. The calm waters of the South Pacific might therefore soon give way to a tempest of Hybrid War trouble with global strategic implications.