On the Brink of War

by Serban V.C. Enache

Trump’s Neocons, with virtually no opposition from the Democrats, went to the final stage of trade warfare against Iran, by eliminating all wavers for Iranian oil exports into China, Turkey, Italy, India, Japan, Greece, Taiwan, and South Korea. Turkey’s Foreign Minister said that ending wavers for Iranian crude won’t serve regional peace and stability, but will harm the Iranian people; he rejected American unilateralism. Similarly, the Chinese Foreign Minister stated that Iranian-Chinese commerce is lawful and transparent and must be respected.

Mike Pompeo warned non-compliant state actors with trade sanctions. The Trump administration is practicing gunboat diplomacy, perfectly emulating the philosophy and means of the [defunct] British Empire, against the entire world, even its allies [many of whom are de facto US occupied territories, like Western Europe & the Balkans]. For those upstart enthusiasts who claim NATO is an alliance, and not an occupation, I ask them – how many European troops and European military bases are on United States soil? None. I rest my case.

In response to this final stage of commercial aggression, Teheran threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz. About 20 percent of global crude output destined for foreign markets travels through the Strait, that’s also about one third of seaborne oil. Saudi and US oil exporters are eager to expand production, in order to cover the [geopolitical] shortfall from Iranian and Venezuelan crude, and gain a higher market share as a result. Still, the closing of the Strait of Hormuz would bring about harsh consequences, especially for the Gulf states, and a prolonged conflict might leave countries like UAE, Kuwait, and Qatar extremely vulnerable. The navigable portion of the Strait is only 2 miles wide. Back in 1980-1988, there was the tanker war between [US-sponsored] Iraq and Iran. In the final year of that conflict, the American USS Vincennes shot down Iranian civilian air flight 655, killing all 290 souls on board.

As if in a trans-national orchestrated fashion, after the bombings in Sri Lanka against Christian churches, claimed by ISIS [a servitor faction of Washington, Riyadh, and Tel Aviv], the Saudi government engaged in mass executions, beheading 37 people, one of them a 16-year old boy, whom they crucified to serve as an example. These individuals were condemned for alleged terrorist activities, and they were all Shias [a religious minority in Saudi Arabia and a minority within the Muslim world]. Note: Iran is predominantly a Shia Muslim country. In fact, King Salman, so praised by Trump as a great guy, began his rule a few years ago – not with a general pardon of prisoners [a centuries old custom if not older, applied by new rulers to redress bad blood and wipe the slate clean with a gesture of mercy] but with the largest executions since 1980, beheading 47 and shooting four. These are your tyrannical and murderous regimes, folks, not those in Cuba and Venezuela. If you participate in a protest against the Saudi Government, you get killed. If you criticize Formula 1 in Bahrain [a stooge regime of the Saudis], you have your citizenship revoked. Contrast that state of affairs to Guaido, touring Venezuela, trying to incite the military to rebel against Maduro’s government.

Now, to play devil’s advocate for a moment, several months ago Trump publicly threatened the Saudi King with “you won’t last two weeks without us,” so without a second great power getting involved in that region, divergence from Washington’s instructions that the Saudis might wish to pursue is ruled out – not that they have any desire to come to a peaceful understanding with Teheran.

Iran’s Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, a key founder of the US-Iran nuclear agreement, and a most sensible humanist, handed out his resignation two months ago. His gesture came in frustration with the government, after he was excluded from meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who was visiting Teheran back in February. Iran’s President, however, Hassan Rouhani rejected Zarif’s resignation, saying that his leave would not serve the country’s interests. Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei remained circumspect from the beginning, and his wariness was not misplaced, for Trump, after pulling the US out of the nuclear agreement, was quick to label the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization. Iran is left with no other option but to get in gear for a full-on war, since Washington already declared it. Despite all the diplomatic work put in by the Iranian moderates, there’s no understanding to be reached with the Neocons and, no doubt, Netanyahu can’t wait for the war’s arrival. I say this without a shadow of a doubt, the alliance between Christian Zionism, Jewish Zionism, and Wahhabism is the greatest threat to world peace in the 21st century.

Russo-Turkish Relations

Moving Away From US Hegemony

by Serban V.C. Enache

Yesterday, the heads of state of Russia and Turkey held a joint press conference, which is available here. One of their common points was to get bilateral trade working with just the ruble and the lira. Every sovereign nation ought to conduct trade in her own currency and that of her trade partner, and not conduct trade in a 3rd party currency [like the US dollar or the euro]. The issuer of the 3rd party currency receives an unearned increase in his currency’s value. When the international situation deters [like today, due to the USA’s war mongering], national currency swaps between partner countries is better than relying on a foreign currency with which to do settlement payments – especially if the reserve currency in question belongs to a belligerent actor, who – as we have seen in the case of Venezuela – has the power of freezing those accounts.

Both Russia and Turkey are advancing well in their bilateral trade and tourism, some of the most important deals are the TurkStream gas project, Rusatom aiding Turkey with her nuclear power plants, and the S-400 sealed deal.

Vladimir Putin, asked about the trade situation with Turkey being in Russia’s favor, said that a neutral trade balance is what he wishes. You’ll never hear such a statement from a German head of state or Eurocrat Neoliberal. You will never hear the EU or the Eurozone’s top brass criticize the huge and sustained German financial surpluses against the Periphery countries. They will insist for member state governments to have balanced fiscal statements, but never balanced current accounts. Putin emphasized that the main factor of attractiveness of Russian gas exports is reliability of delivery.

The situation in Syria was raised as well, including the Kurdish question. As the situation stands, the best option – which preserves human life and avoids further conflict – for the Kurds is to accept Syrian unity and relinquish any territorial claims. If we’re to invoke things like patriotism and nationalism, these ideals are incompatible with strife and death. No true patriot or nationalist can accept the blood of civilians, his own or that of the enemy, and pretend he or she is on the side of justice. The only way for sustainable peace, order, and development is through the implementation and observance of Westphalian principles: forgiving and forgetting past transgressions in perpetuity. The realist and moral position for the Kurdish region is to remain part of Syria, with full equality under the law.

The Kemalists are a concern, however, since their aim is to have stronger relations with NATO and get full EU membership. Erdogan saw how Washington treats its allies when they become independent, they tried a coup against him. Washington maintained radio silence during the coup operation, and only came out in public to condemn the coup attempt after it had failed. If you want further proof, Erdogan demanded Gulen from the Americans, so he could be tried in Turkey for his involvement in the coup. Gulen is NOT an American citizen, yet the Americans declined. It’s very clear that Washington tried to oust Erdogan, and Erdogan, since then, has taken measures to diversify geopolitical and economic relations. Erdogan should aim to strike a balance between the laic and religious sections of the population within Turkey, otherwise he risks a civil war of his own. I wrote about Turkey’s financial plight in August last year, and so far, despite the underwhelming results for Erdogan’s party [the AKP] at the recent local elections, he is pursuing a truly sovereign foreign policy and I give credit where credit is due. Turkey is no longer in the Yankee deck.

The only chance for peace in that part of the world is for Eurasia to rise, not just as an ideal, but as a Westphalian reality [a sisterhood of sovereign nation states]. I call it Southwest Asia, not the Middle East, because the latter, since the Sykes-Picot treaty of 1916, has been used as a British imperial term to describe a hot, resource dense, looting ground, and recurrent geopolitical hand grenade in Great Power conflicts [divide & rule].

The Clock’s Ticking for Turkey

by Serban V.C. Enache

The financial picture looks like this:

Turkish Government debt: 28 percent of GDP in 2017, and has been falling for several years. Private sector debt is 170 percent of GDP – and roughly 35 percent of that is denominated in foreign currency. Turkish nominal GDP growth has been solid for several years, even reaching the double digit mark. Continue reading “The Clock’s Ticking for Turkey”