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The Horn of Africa + Sudan are replacing the Middle East as THE geo-political danger zone

As the Middle East slowly stabilises, The Horn of Africa is where the next major global conflicts could ignite unless existing partners in the region go on high alert.

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For decades, exploitative neo-imperialist geo-political military and economic (mis)adventures have tarnished generations throughout much of the Middle East. From the continued suppression of the Palestinians, to the Petro-politics of the Persian Gulf, to regime change missions throughout historic Mesopotamia, the Levant and Maghreb, the Middle East has been the 20th century’s geo-political/geo-economic  prize that the US and its European allies have not allowed a day’s peace since the end of the First World War.

Today, over one-hundred years after the infamous Sykes-Picot Agreement between Britain and France, a new Middle East is emerging with a clear northern and southern bloc who are opposed to one another, but that each have good relations with both Russia and China. Additionally, while the northern bloc is comprised of key 20th century Soviet allies including Syria and Iraq, the southern bloc maintains traditionally strong relations with the US, although key members of this region are attempting to both economically and diplomatically diversify their respective portfolios. This is certainly the case with both Saudi Arabia and its de-facto (soon to be formal) ally Israel, as well as Egypt which is pivoting back to a position of trying to make the most from both historically good ties to Moscow and the sustained good ties with Washington dating back to the late 1970s.

The new Middle East: A North/South divide where Israel is losing its narrative and its old game plan

The logical conclusion to such a formation is stability, however uncomfortable a stability it might be for some Middle Eastern nations. This is good news for some of the most prominent roads which comprise China’s One Belt–One Road trading, commerce and logistics super-highway.

But just as China’s key roads which link South Asia and East Asia to Europe via Eurasia are showing signs of recovery, the maritime belts along One Belt–One Road, are fast becoming the most worrying points of contention whereby the US and its allies seek to create disquiet for China and its partners.

This is particularly the case in respect of the Horn of Africa and also Sudan, just to the north of the Horn.

Washington is gearing up attempts to exploit the Horn of Africa and nearby states for the following reasons:

1. The Middle East’s Belt 

Just as the roads from Pakistan in South Asia through Iran, the northern Arab world and into the north-east Mediterranean represent key east-west land routes for One Belt–One Road, so too does the Suez Canal represent the maritime version of the same route.

Trade from the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean which passes through the narrow Bab-el-Mandeb connecting the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean more widely to the Red Sea and Suez Canal, is therefore the axis around which this important route rests.

Because of this, the countries bordering both the Bab-el-Mandeb and Red Sea are the new geo-political ‘prizes’ to be won, especially now that the emergence of a new balance of land-power in the Middle East is quickly cementing.

2. Sudan’s President praises Russia

Sudan’s long serving President Omar Bashir has recently met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi where he praised Russia for being a stalwart partner of Sudan. Like Russia, China too has been visibly committed to Sudan’s territorial integrity at a time when the US championed the creation of South Sudan in 2011.

President Bashir has told Sputnik that the US seeks to continue its disregard for Sudan’s unity and create five new states out of Sudan. He called it a “major conspiracy” of the United States to effectively render Sudan a non-entity through exploiting factional tensions.

The Sudanese President also spoke enthusiastically about the creation of a would-be Russian military base in Sudan which he said is the only thing that could protect Khartoum from Washington’s ambitions.

He stated,

“We want to develop our military cooperation from attaches to advisers. We have a program for full armed forces’ upgrade… All our equipment is Russian, therefore, we need advisers in this area”.

A Russian presence in Sudan would be an unquestionable bulwark on the Red Sea which would work in the favour of preventing Sudan from sliding into the chaos the US is intent on orchestrating. Russia’s presence is also objectively healthy for China’s maritime belts to and from the Suez Canal.

3. China’s base in Djibouti  

This year, China opened up its first ever naval and logistics base in the small state of Djibouti in the heart of the Horn of Africa. While the US and Japan also have bases there, China’s message to the wider world is clear: the safety and stability of waters surrounding the horn of Africa is of paramount importance. One Belt–One Road’s shipping routes in the region must remain free from both piracy and from malicious state intervention which seeks to disrupt the smooth flow of goods from the eastern maritime borders of the Indian ocean to the east coast of Africa.

A Russian base in Sudan would compliment China’s in Djibouti in so far as too key allies would be able to satisfy safety and stability concerns both along the Bab-el-Mandeb and Red Sea. Such a presence could also ultimately help to stabilise the rapidly deteriorating security situation on the Sinai peninsula that both Israel and members of the GCC seek to exploit, in spite of Riyadh and Tel Aviv maintaining a  public alliance with Cairo.

4. China bringing stability to Somalia 

In spite of a longstanding reputation as a failed state which has become little more than a pseudo-failed state, Somalia is more reliant on China for investment than on any other country by a long way. While the task of bringing stability to Somalia and eradicating the problem of piracy on Somalia’s costs is a substantial undertaking, China seems to have done a cost benefit analysis and decided in favour of continual investment in Sudan while cooperating on security matters with Mogadishu. This is a clear indication of how seriously China takes its long-term position in the Horn of Africa.

5. Chinese investments in Ethiopia to under-cut soft power 

Ever since the late 1980s and early 1990s when Gorbachev’s incompetent leadership soiled Russia’s relations with Ethiopia, the US was quick to fill the void after the fall of Mengistu Haile Mariam.

However, today’s US relations with Ethiopia have been realistically undercut by massive amounts of Chinese direct monetary and infrastructural investment in the country.

As geo-political expert Andrew Korbyko recent wrote,

“Ethiopia, which is the second-most populous country in Africa and the world’s fastest-growing economy, is China’s premier partner in the continent, and Beijing just built the Djibouti-Addis Ababa railway as a de-facto Horn of African Silk Road for efficiently accessing this landlocked but rising African Great Power. Seeing as how Ethiopian-Chinese trade will in all likelihood begin to transit across CPEC en route to the People’s Republic, it makes sense for the Pakistani Navy to begin proactively safeguarding the ASGA SLOC between Gwadar and Djibouti together with the Chinese”.

Here, one sees how China is helping Ethiopia to regain links to the sea, thus circumventing Eritrea which is in the medium-term interest of Ethiopia, but also creating an environment wherein Eritrea and Ethiopia may slowly reconcile their implicitly poor relations through a mutual position as part of One Belt–One Road.

In the even more immediate term, Russia could engage in meaningful relations with Addis Ababa, also using its good relationship with China as a spring-board to develop this. If it is possible for Pakistan to develop a positive presence in the region as a result of its position along One Belt–One Road, Russia could theoretically do something similar. If Russia were to become an ever more important partner of Sudan while using China’s economic prestige in Ethiopia to increase its geo-political prestige in the region, this could only be a helpful diplomatic “win-win” that would be to the economic benefit of all parties.

CONCLUSION: 

In all of these matters, the US is overtly the biggest obstacle to progress. If the US could exploit established Middle Eastern powers so easily in order to create deaconess long instability in the Arab world, it is a worrying reality that the instability of the Horn of Africa region and also the internal crises in Sudan and beyond, are even more ripe for exploitation than those in the Middle East.

Without doubt, the next big competition for world-dominance will not be in the Middle East but in the nearby Horn of Africa and into Sudan.

China and Russia seek to open the region to One Belt–One Road while the US seeks to exploit existing and latent tensions to lock existing states and possibly new states and statelets into an alliance with the US which would effectively prohibit full participation in One Belt–One Road.

I personally am not of the belief that a ‘third world war’ will break-out, but if it were to do so, it would not start in the Middle East, South Asia or the Korean peninsula. It would start in the Horn of Africa.

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Is this man the puppet master of Ukraine’s new president or an overhyped bogeyman?

Smiling to himself, Kolomoisky would be within his rights to think that he has never had it so good.

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Via RT…


It doesn’t actually matter if Ukrainian-Israeli billionaire Igor Kolomoisky is the real power behind Volodymyr Zelensky – the president elect has to get rid of the oligarch if he is to make a break with the country’s corrupt past.

The plots, deceits and conflicts of interest in Ukrainian politics are so transparent and hyperbolic, that to say that novice politician Zelensky was a protégé of his long-time employer was not something that required months of local investigative journalism – it was just out there.

Zelensky’s comedy troupe has been on Kolomoisky’s top-rated channel for the past eight years, and his media asset spent every possible resource promoting the contender against incumbent Petro Poroshenko, a personal enemy of the tycoon, who hasn’t even risked entering Ukraine in the past months.

Similarly, the millions and the nous needed to run a presidential campaign in a country of nearly 50 million people had to come from somewhere, and Kolomoisky’s lieutenants were said to be in all key posts. The two issued half-hearted denials that one was a frontman for the other, insisting that they were business partners with a cordial working relationship, but voters had to take their word for it.

Now that the supposed scheme has paid off with Zelensky’s spectacular victory in Sunday’s run-off, Ukrainian voters are asking: what does Kolomoisky want now, and will he be allowed to run the show?

‘One-of-a-kind chancer’

Born in 1963, in a family of two Jewish engineers, Kolomoisky is the type of businessman that was once the staple of the post-Soviet public sphere, but represents a dying breed.

That is, he is not an entrepreneur in the established Western sense at all – he did not go from a Soviet bloc apartment to Lake Geneva villas by inventing a new product, or even setting up an efficient business structure in an existing field.

Rather he is an opportunist who got wealthy by skilfully reading trends as the Soviet economy opened up – selling Western-made computers in the late 1980s – and later when independent Ukraine transitioned to a market economy and Kolomoisky managed to get his hands on a large amount of privatisation vouchers that put many of the juiciest local metals and energy concerns into his hands, which he then modernised.

What he possesses is a chutzpah and unscrupulousness that is rare even among his peers. Vladimir Putin once called him a “one-of-a-kind chancer” who managed to “swindle [Chelsea owner] Roman Abramovich himself.” In the perma-chaos of Ukrainian law and politics, where all moves are always on the table, his tactical acumen has got him ahead.

Kolomoisky’s lifeblood is connections and power rather than any pure profit on the balance sheet, though no one actually knows how that would read, as the Privat Group he part-owns is reported to own over 100 businesses in dozens of Ukrainian spheres through a complex network of offshore companies and obscure intermediaries (“There is no Privat Group, it is a media confection,” the oligarch himself says, straight-faced.)

Unsurprisingly, he has been dabbling in politics for decades, particularly following the first Orange Revolution in 2004. Though the vehicles for his support have not been noted for a particular ideological consistency – in reportedly backing Viktor Yushchenko, then Yulia Tymoshenko, he was merely putting his millions on what he thought would be a winning horse.

Grasp exceeds reach

But at some point in the post-Maidan euphoria, Kolomoisky’s narcissism got the better of him, and he accepted a post as the governor of his home region of Dnepropetrovsk, in 2014.

The qualities that might have made him a tolerable rogue on TV, began to grate in a more official role. From his penchant for using the political arena to settle his business disputes, to creating his own paramilitary force by sponsoring anti-Russian battalions out of his own pocket, to his somewhat charmless habit of grilling and threatening to put in prison those less powerful than him in fits of pique (“You wait for me out here like a wife for a cheating husband,” begins a viral expletive-strewn rant against an overwhelmed Radio Free Europe reporter).

There is a temptation here for a comparison with a Donald Trump given a developing country to play with, but for all of the shenanigans, his ideological views have always been relatively straightforward. Despite his Russia-loathing patriotism, not even his fans know what Kolomoisky stands for.

The oligarch fell out with fellow billionaire Poroshenko in early 2015, following a battle over the control of a large oil transport company between the state and the governor. The following year, his Privat Bank, which at one point handled one in four financial transactions in the country was nationalized, though the government said that Kolomoisky had turned it into a mere shell by giving $5 billion of its savings to Privat Group companies.

Other significant assets were seized, the government took to London to launch a case against his international companies, and though never banished, Kolomoisky himself decided it would be safer if he spent as long as necessary jetting between his adopted homes in Switzerland and Tel Aviv, with the occasional trip to London for the foreseeable future.

But the adventurer falls – and rises again. The London case has been dropped due to lack of jurisdiction, and only last week a ruling came shockingly overturning the three-year-old nationalization of Privat Bank.

Smiling to himself, Kolomoisky would be within his rights to think that he has never had it so good.

Own man

Zelensky must disabuse him of that notion.

It doesn’t matter that they are friends. Or what handshake agreements they made beforehand. Or that he travelled to Geneva and Tel-Aviv 13 times in the past two years. Or what kompromat Kolomoisky may or may not have on him. It doesn’t matter that his head of security is the man who, for years, guarded the oligarch, and that he may quite genuinely fear for his own safety (it’s not like nothing bad has ever happened to Ukrainian presidents).

Volodymyr Zelensky is now the leader of a large country, with the backing of 13.5 million voters. It is to them that he promised a break with past bribery, graft and cronyism. Even by tolerating one man – and one who makes Poroshenko look wholesome – next to him, he discredits all of that. He will have the support of the people if he pits himself against the puppet master – no one would have elected Kolomoisky in his stead.

Whether the oligarch is told to stay away, whether Ukraine enables the financial fraud investigation into him that has been opened by the FBI, or if he is just treated to the letter of the law, all will be good enough. This is the first and main test, and millions who were prepared to accept the legal fiction of the independent candidate two months ago, will now want to see reality to match. Zelensky’s TV president protagonist in Servant of the People – also broadcast by Kolomoisky’s channel, obviously, would never have compromised like that.

What hinges on this is not just the fate of Zelensky’s presidency, but the chance for Ukraine to restore battered faith in its democracy shaken by a succession of compromised failures at the helm.

Igor Ogorodnev

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Roger Waters – The People’s Champion for Freedom

In February 2019, Waters showed his support for the Venezuelan Maduro government and continues to be totally against US regime change plans there.

Richard Galustian

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Submitted by Richard Galustian 

Roger Waters is one of Britain’s most successful and talented musicians and composers but more importantly is an outstanding champion for freedom in the world, beyond compare to any other artist turned political activist.

By way of background, he co-founded the rock band Pink Floyd in 1965.

A landmark turning point of his political activism occurred in 1990, when Waters staged probably the largest rock concert in history, ‘The Wall – Live in Berlin’, with an attendance of nearly half a million people.

In more recent years Waters famously narrated the 2016 documentary ‘The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States’ about the insidious influence of Zionist Israel to shape American public opinion.

Waters has been an outspoken critic of America’s Neocons and particularly Donald Trump and his policies.

In 2017, Waters condemned Trump’s plan to build a wall separating the United States and Mexico, saying that his band’s iconic famous song, ‘The Wall’ is as he put it “very relevant now with Mr. Trump and all of this talk of building walls and creating as much enmity as possible between races and religions.”

In February 2019, Waters showed his support for the Venezuelan Maduro government and continues to be totally against US regime change plans there, or any place else for that matter.

Here below is a must see recent Roger Waters interview, via satellite from New York, where he speaks brilliantly, succinctly and honestly, unlike no other celebrity, about FREEDOM and the related issues of the day.

The only other artist turned activist, but purely for human rights reasons, as she is apolitical, is the incredible Carla Ortiz.

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ISIS Says Behind Sri Lanka Bombings; Was ‘Retaliation’ For New Zealand Mosque Massacre

ISIS’s claim couldn’t be confirmed and the group has been  known to make “opportunistic” claims in the past, according to WaPo. 

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Via Zerohedge…


Shortly after the death toll from Sunday’s Easter bombings in Sri Lanka climbed above the 300 mark, ISIS validated the Sri Lankan government’s suspicions that a domestic jihadi organization had help from an international terror network while planning the bombings were validated when ISIS took credit for the attacks.

The claim was made via a report from ISIS’s Amaq news agency. Though the group has lost almost all of the territory that was once part of its transnational caliphate, ISIS now boasts cells across the Muslim world, including in North Africa and elsewhere. Before ISIS took credit for the attack, a Sri Lankan official revealed that Sunday’s attacks were intended as retaliation for the killing of 50 Muslims during last month’s mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand.

However, the Sri Lankan government didn’t offer any evidence for that claim, or the claim that Sunday’s attacks were planned by two Islamic groups (though that now appears to have been substantiated by ISIS’s claim of responsibility). The group is believed to have worked with the National Tawheed Jamaath, according to the NYT.

“The preliminary investigations have revealed that what happened in Sri Lanka was in retaliation for the attack against Muslims in Christchurch,” State Minister of Defense Ruwan Wijewardene told the Parliament.

Meanwhile, the number of suspects arrested in connection with the attacks had increased to 40 from 24 as of Tuesday. The government had declared a national emergency that allowed it sweeping powers to interrogate and detain suspects.

On Monday, the FBI pledged to send agents to Sri Lanka and provide laboratory support for the investigation.

As the death toll in Sri Lanka climbs, the attack is cementing its position as the deadliest terror attack in the region.

  • 321 (as of now): Sri Lanka bombings, 2019
  • 257 Mumbai attacks, 1993
  • 189 Mumbai train blasts, 2006 166 Mumbai attacks, 2008
  • 151 APS/Peshawar school attack, 2014
  • 149 Mastung/Balochistan election rally attack, 2018

Meanwhile, funeral services for some of the bombing victims began on Tuesday.

Even before ISIS took credit for the attack, analysts told the Washington Post that its unprecedented violence suggested that a well-financed international organization was likely involved.

The bombings on Sunday, however, came with little precedent. Sri Lanka may have endured a ghastly civil war and suicide bombings in the past – some credit the Tamil Tigers with pioneering the tactic – but nothing of this scale. Analysts were stunned by the apparent level of coordination behind the strikes, which occurred around the same time on both sides of the country, and suggested the attacks carried the hallmarks of a more international plot.

“Sri Lanka has never seen this sort of attack – coordinated, multiple, high-casualty – ever before, even with the Tamil Tigers during the course of a brutal civil war,” Alan Keenan, a Sri Lanka expert at the International Crisis Group, told the Financial Times. “I’m not really convinced this is a Sri Lankan thing. I think the dynamics are global, not driven by some indigenous debate. It seems to me to be a different kind of ballgame.”

Hinting at possible ISIS involvement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a Monday press conference that “radical Islamic terror” remained a threat even after ISIS’s defeats in Syria.

Of course, ISIS’s claim couldn’t be confirmed and the group has been  known to make “opportunistic” claims in the past, according to WaPo. The extremist group said the attacks were targeting Christians and “coalition countries” and were carried out by fighters from its organization.

Speculation that the government had advanced warning of the attacks, but failed to act amid a power struggle between the country’s president and prime minister, unnerved citizens and contributed to a brewing backlash. Following the bombings, schools and mass had been canceled until at least Monday, with masses called off “until further notice.”

 

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