mfioretti: nato*

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  1. US-Saudi relationship has shown strains in recent years. Saudi anger over Obama-era rapprochement with Iran and unwillingness to go full-Gaddafi on Assad has been met with US threats about exposing "Saudi" terror, including the 9/11 lawsuits and the 28 pages. The recent American shale oil boom has meant that Saudi has seen selling less oil to the US, and China is only too happy to step in and take America's place as Saudi Arabia's most-favored trading nation. And now China is setting up a yuan-denominated oil exchange that could potentially mean that the Saudis and others may be trading oil for yuan in the future.

    This is why the CIA and other outside forces are extremely interested in what is happening in Saudi Arabia right now, and why, by extension, the rest of the world should be as well. After all, by now we know all too well what happens to countries that try to back away from the petrodollar, don't we? Only this time, it's not some "minor" players on the grand chessboard who can be taken out of the game with a simple NATO lovebomb campaign. This time we're looking at the potential of Russia and China backing this shift away from the petrodollar en masse. And we all know what that spells.
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  2. Rank-and-file diplomats always try to push for shorter, more efficient meetings at NATO. “It’s not so unusual that they strain to try to keep it interesting and short and not dragged down into details,” said Jim Townsend, who served as the Pentagon’s top NATO envoy until January. But what is unusual is the president.

    “Even a brief NATO summit is way too stiff, too formal, and too policy heavy for Trump. Trump is not going to like that,” said Jorge Benitez, a NATO expert with the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank.

    Another change: NATO traditionally publishes a formal readout, known as a declaration, after each major meeting or summit. While they’re often lathered in diplomatic drivel, declarations signal new strategies and key policy shifts that come out of closed-door meetings, giving direction to allies and the NATO bureaucracy — and showcasing alliance unity toward rivals like Russia, a former senior NATO official told FP.

    This year, NATO has scrapped plans to publish a full formal meeting declaration. One NATO official said that’s because it’s not a full summit, like past major NATO gatherings in Warsaw in 2016 or Wales in 2014. “It’s not necessary to have another full declaration, as it’s not a full summit,” the official said. “This meeting is just much more focused.”
    Tags: , , by M. Fioretti (2017-05-16)
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  3. No living journalist has ever seen a major party nominee put financial conditions on the United States defense of NATO allies, openly fight with the family of a fallen American soldier, or entice Russia to meddle in a United States presidential election by hacking his opponent (a joke, Mr. Trump later said, that the news media failed to get). And while coded appeals to racism or nationalism aren’t new — two words: Southern strategy — overt calls to temporarily bar Muslims from entry to the United States or questioning a federal judge’s impartiality based on his Mexican heritage are new.
    Tags: , , , by M. Fioretti (2016-08-08)
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  4. In the week of the referendum vote, no British politician and, to my knowledge, no journalist referred to Vladimir Putin's speech in St. Petersburg commemorating the seventy-fifth anniversary of Nazi Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June, 1941. The Soviet victory - at a cost of 27 million Soviet lives and the majority of all German forces - won the Second World War.

    Putin likened the current frenzied build up of Nato troops and war material on Russia's western borders to the Third Reich's Operation Barbarossa. Nato's exercises in Poland were the biggest since the Nazi invasion; Operation Anaconda had simulated an attack on Russia, presumably with nuclear weapons. On the eve of the referendum, the quisling secretary-general of Nato, Jens Stoltenberg, warned Britons they would be endangering "peace and security" if they voted to leave the EU. The millions who ignored him and Cameron, Osborne, Corbyn, Obama and the man who runs the Bank of England may, just may, have struck a blow for real peace and democracy in Europe.
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  5. Traduzione: truppe schierate in modo permanente sul proprio suolo. Gli Usa offrono un battaglione per ogni Stato baltico (Polonia, Lituania, Lettonia, Estonia) che ruoti ogni 6 mesi (“permanent presence“, non “permanent basing” è la vulgata ufficiale). E sono pronti a metterne sul piatto due dei loro, ma gli altri membri della Nato non brillano per iniziativa.

    Nel frattempo, Mosca non sta a guardare e sta realizzando una grande base (il lotto occupato dai militari misura 142 ettari) a Klintsy, a 50 chilometri dal confine ucraino, prima conseguenza tangibile dell’annuncio del ministro della Difesa Shoigu della formazione 3 nuove divisioni da schierare nella Russia occidentale.

    Non potendosi scontrare direttamente, Cremlino e Occidente si sfidano di volta in volta su un terreno diverso. Come avvenuto sotto i mari, dominio nel quale Mosca sta puntando per testare (facendosene beffe) le difese antisommergibile dei rivali a ovest, nonché mettere in discussione il predominio anglosassone sui mari.

    La militarizzazione della linea dell’Intermarium è ormai completa. L’Alleanza atlantica si esercita perfino in Georgia, il Mar Nero è solcato da navi Usa e al centro della pianificazione strategica di Washington, nel Baltico e nel Mar del Nord proseguono le incursioni e le provocazioni aeree di velivoli russi.

    Ogni mossa di una parte viene interpretata dall’altra non come deterrenza ma come provocazione, obbligando i contendenti a far salire di livello la successiva risposta. L’esatta dinamica dell’escalation.

    Tanto furoreggia il sabba militarista sull’Intermarium che la disponibilità tedesca a svolgere un più attivo ruolo militare non solo non passa inosservata ma viene pure incoraggiata. Berlino ha infatti deciso di incrementare spesa per la Difesa e numero di truppe per la prima volta dalla seconda guerra mondiale e sta pensando di assumere il comando del personale Nato da ruotare in Lituania.
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  6. When conflict broke out in 2011, Ankara mistakenly under-estimated the strength of the Assad regime and supported hardline Islamist groups seeking its downfall. In the process, Turkey also marginalised the Kurds and alienated regional powers like Iran.

    Four years on, Assad looks set to hold onto power and his regime will be a central part of a transition plan, one that foreign powers were negotiating last weekend. Turkey’s regional rival, Iran, is a key player which can no longer be ignored by the West. Not only does the pro-Assad alliance now have Russian support firmly on its side, but the international community is no longer focused on defeating the regime – instead, it is concerned with defeating jihadist groups like Isis.

    The shift in focus is a significant drawback for Erdogan. Years of support for, and investment in, Islamic fundamentalist groups like Jabhat al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria) and Ahrar al-Sham are about to go to waste. Ankara has played a significant role in allowing Isis and other jihadists to flourish in Syria and the region. Turkey has acquiesced to jihadist groups entering Syria via Turkey as well as their use of Turkey as a transit point for smuggling arms and funds into Syria.

    The Kurds in Syria, meanwhile, have established themselves as a reliable Western ally and have created, in the process, an autonomous Kurdish region that has reinvigorated Kurdish nationalism in Turkey and across the region - much to Turkey’s dismay as it continues a brutal military campaign to repress the Kurds.

    In other words, Turkey has no interest in the peaceful settlement to the conflict in Syria that world powers are negotiating.

    The West appeased and bolstered Erdogan in Turkey in the run-up to the country’s elections, with the aim of securing a deal with Ankara on the refugee crisis. It may now regret that. Erdogan is not only likely to drive a hard bargain but he may also walk away.

    He has never cared much for the EU and has only sought engagement with the West when under pressure at home. But Turkey is not an indispensable ally and should not be considered as such. Unless the West starts to seriously exert pressure, Erdogan will have little incentive to stop his damaging policies.
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  7. Russia had it coming. Turkish fighter jets today shot down a Russian Su-24 in what was allegedly a violation of its airspace. Russia promptly denied the transgression but Turkey remains adamant it only acted in self-defense -- and after giving multiple warnings. If proven right, it won't be the first time Russian jets have made incursions into the Turkish territory. There are multiple reports of Russian jets getting too close for comfort in the past. The incident reflects the growing brazenness of the Russians after their much-touted quasi-invasion of Syria. It also indicates the limits of Russian power, contrary to what President Putin loves to boast about. His Syrian policy is bound for failure and coercion is not the right way of making others kowtow his line.

    The downing might as well become the starting point of many cat-and-mouse games in the future. Still, Putin would have a lot to think about before ordering aggression of any sorts into Turkish territory. The latter is a NATO member and can seek assistance from allies. There is also a possibility that Turkey over-reacted but the Russian position is more vulnerable. The downed jet was operating in a foreign country without the auspices of the United Nations and without coordinating with the Turkish airspace controllers. No country can tolerate airspace violation, more so when coming from an alien rather than a neighbor.

    Putin's Syrian endgame has been discussed at length on this platform and on other outlets. On the pretext of targeting the Islamic State, he's annihilating the moderate opponents of Bashar al-Assad. Putin believes in a scorched earth policy and couldn't care less for collateral damage. Russian jets are largely targeting civilians and abetting the Iranian and Hezbollah-backed militias. The policy has resulted in a high death toll and will not resolve the crisis, which, to Putin, is a complete restoration of the despotic regime.

    Let's get our facts straight. Islamic State presents a real threat to the world. Russia might have done the world a favor by working with regional and global partners to address it. It could have spearheaded the emerging alliance to counter the threat. On the contrary, Putin has used the boogeyman to advance its blinkered agenda in the Middle East. The vociferous support for the brutal dictator has turned Putin into a villain in the Middle East and the broader Muslim World
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  8. Last week, Iran and six world powers reached an agreement obliging Tehran to guarantee the peaceful nature of its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief. Shortly after the deal was signed, National Security Advisor to the US Vice President Colin Kahl said that the US ballistic missile defense systems were still necessary in Europe despite the agreement.

    Following the move, Moscow expressed concerns over the purposes of US missile defense systems in Europe, which Russia sees as a threat to its national security.

    “Europe is an empty shell when it comes to the draft of the European missile defense system, because it is an exclusively US initiative… Now there is a reasonable question: if Iran is no longer a threat, even if neither a partner nor an enemy, then what’s the use of missile defense system » construction?
    Tags: , , , , , by M. Fioretti (2015-07-28)
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  9. Plans to make the US Army more agile and mobile at the expense of heavy weapons are paving the way for future military disasters, retired US Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor told Sputnik.

    “Today’s Army is courting humiliating defeat if and when it takes on Russian, Chinese or even second-tier nation-state forces equipped with modern military technology from Russia or China,” Macgregor said on Monday.

    Macgregor is one of the leading US Army experts on combat tactics. He was the director of the Battle of 73 Easting during the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq, the largest US armor combat victory since World War II.

    “Captured by visions of light troops mounted on wheels or falling out of airplanes, the Pentagon » is building a force for uncontested, permissive environments against weak peoples without armies, air forces, air defenses or navies,” Macgregor said.

    “That’s a dead end in a confrontation with the Russian Army,” he added.
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  10. According to former British ambassador Roderic Lyne, Vladimir Putin “verges on the paranoid” in perceiving Russia as a target of Western attack over the centuries. That paranoia is shared by many ordinary Russians.

    When supporting independent media is discussed in the West in the same breath as “fighting the threat of Russian information”, it reinforces the Russian view that promoting democracy in this way is just geopolitics in disguise. The most likely Russian response is more propaganda and more restrictions on free speech.
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