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NATO Begins Encirclement Of Russia

NATO troop deployments expose agenda to encircle Russia.

Eric Zuesse

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This piece first appeared in German at Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachtrichten. It has been translated into English, and published at The Duran at the author’s request.

German Economic News  |  (Translation by Eric Zuesse)

NATO begins encirclement of Russia: German troops to Lithuania

NATO prepares a veritable military buildup in Eastern Europe: German soldiers are operating in Lithuania, the British take over Estonia, and US soldiers move in to protect Latvia. The Canadians will be in Poland. Also in the Mediterranean, combat units are being increased. Russia perceives the activity as a threat, but hasn’t yet announced any countermeasures.

At the NATO summit during July 8th-9th in Warsaw, the Alliance will adopt a massive military presence along Russia’s border. Russia is classified by NATO as a threat. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg recently said in Washington that the US and the EU have the right in the form of NATO to defend its territories on foreign soil. Critics of this strategy believe that it’s possible this upgrade will increase significantly the danger of a conflict between the superpowers. Wednesday in Brussels, the defense ministers want the military alliance to take decisions which will then be sealed by the leaders in Poland. NATO wants to strengthen its military presence on its eastern borders significantly, and to position foreign combat troops battalions in Poland and the three Baltic states. Germany is the core of the Association in Lithuania, the British in Estonia, and the United States is expected to be that in Latvia. What remains unclear, however, is who will be sending troops to Poland.

Maybe Canada will take on this task, it was last reported from Polish diplomatic sources as quoted by Reuters. “’The summit in Warsaw will be President Obama’s last (NATO summit) and the U.S. wants it to be a success. It will ensure that the fourth framework country is found, possibly by leaning on Canada,’ the source said. ‘Washington will bend over backwards here.’”

Germany wants to send at least 600 soldiers to Lithuania, which will constitute the core of the local battalion there with about 1,200 soldiers.

The battalions are to include around 1,000 soldiers each, and are not permanently stationed in the eastern countries, but replaced regularly. By means of this rotation, the military alliance wants to avoid a formal breach of the NATO-Russia Founding Act 1997, which prohibits the permanent stationing of a “substantial” number of combat troops in the east. What specifically “substantial” means, however, is controversial. [In other words: Obama wants to be more aggressive than the NATO-Russia Founding Act of 1997 might allow; he wants to violate the treaty in such a way that he’ll be able to say he’s not really breaking the treaty.]

Poland and the Baltic countries want to push NATO to be even more aggressive. They demand among other things, increased aerial surveillance by fighter jets of the alliance partners on the Baltic. Poland had in the past also repeatedly demanded the permanent stationing of NATO combat troops [which would clearly violate the NATO-Russia Founding Act]. The Baltic States and Poland have been feeling threatened since Russia’s March 2014 annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.

NATO defense ministers will also discuss a new mission in the Mediterranean. What exactly is planned there, is difficult to judge. Officially the rise of extremist ISIS militias and the refugee crisis are given as reasons for that expansion of NATO. ISIS is financed and otherwise supported by Saudi Arabia, the closest ally of the West in the Middle East. A good reason why NATO, the most powerful fighting force in all of the world’s military, have not coped with that group of more or less random ragtag mercenaries, is not known. Russia is fighting on the side of Syria against ISIS and against previously officially the US-backed al-Nusra Front [Al Qaeda in Syria — the Syrian affiliate of the group that did 9/11].

Via themillenniumreport.com

Via themillenniumreport.com

The NATO alliance is looking for a new combat mission in the Mediterranean, as the 11 September 2001 NATO response “Active Endeavor” patrolling the Mediterranean to stop terrorists there, has actually become obsolete. The ministers therefore want to consider whether the mission should be transformed into a more general one to strengthen security in the Mediterranean. Also being considered is to transform that mission to a closer cooperation with the European Union, which maintains its own naval deployment off the Libyan coast against human traffickers and the rescue of refugees in distress under the name “Sophia”. At dinner on Tuesday therefore also the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and government representatives from the non-NATO countries Finland and Sweden will also be in NATO headquarters.

The agenda on Wednesday also includes the future of the NATO mission in Afghanistan. According to current plans, the US wants to reduce the number of its troops in Afghanistan from its current 9800 to 5500. Whether Obama will hold to that objective despite the poor security situation in Afghanistan isn’t yet clear.

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Trudeau’s Top Bureaucrat Unexpectedly Quits Amid Growing Corruption Scandal

In a scathing letter to Trudeau, Wernick said that “recent events” led him to conclude he couldn’t hold his post during the election campaign this fall.

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Via Zerohedge


Since it was exposed by a report in Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper earlier this month, the scandal that’s become known as the SNC-Lavalin affair has already led to the firing of several of Trudeau’s close advisors and raised serious questions about whether the prime minister was complicit in pressuring the attorney general to offer a deferred prosecution agreement with a large, Quebec-based engineering firm.

And according to the first round of polls released since the affair exploded into public view…

…it could cost Trudeau his position as prime minister and return control to the conservatives, according to the CBC.

Campaign Research showed the Conservatives ahead with 37% to 32% for the Liberals, while both Ipsos and Léger put the margin at 36% to 34% in the Conservatives’ favour.Since December, when both polling firms were last in the field, the Liberals have lost one point in Campaign Research’s polling and four percentage points in the Ipsos poll, while the party is down five points since November in the Léger poll.

Meanwhile, as the noose tightens around Trudeau, on Monday another of the key Canadian government officials at the center of the SNC-Lavalin scandal has quit his post.

Michael Wernick, clerk of the privy council, the highest-ranking position in Canada’s civil service and a key aide to Justin Trudeau, announced his retirement Monday. Trudeau named Ian Shugart, currently deputy minister of foreign affairs, to replace him.

In a scathing letter to Trudeau, Wernick said that “recent events” led him to conclude he couldn’t hold his post during the election campaign this fall.

“It is now apparent that there is no path for me to have a relationship of mutual trust and respect with the leaders of the opposition parties,” he said, citing the need for impartiality on the issue of potential foreign interference. According to Bloomberg, the exact date of his departure is unclear.

As we reported in February, Canada’s former justice minister and attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, quit following allegations that several key Trudeau government figures pressured her to intervene to end a criminal prosecution against Montreal-based construction giant SNC. Wernick was among those she named in saying the prime minister’s office wanted her to pursue a negotiated settlement.

Wernick has since twice spoken to a committee of lawmakers investigating the case, and during that testimony both defended his actions on the SNC file and warned about the risk of foreign election interference, as “blame Putin” has become traditional Plan B plan for most politicians seeing their careers go up in flames.

“I’m deeply concerned about my country right now, its politics and where it’s headed. I worry about foreign interference in the upcoming election,” he said in his first appearance before the House of Commons justice committee, before repeating the warning a second time this month. “If that was seen as alarmist, so be it. I was pulling the alarm. We need a public debate about foreign interference.”

Because somehow foreign interference has something to do with Wenick’s alleged corruption.

Incidentally, as we wonder what the real reason is behind Wernick’s swift departure, we are confident we will know soon enough.

Anyway, back to the now former clerk, who is meant to be non-partisan in service of the government of the day, also criticized comments by a Conservative senator and praised one of Trudeau’s cabinet ministers.

Wernick’s testimony was criticized as overly cozy with the ruling Liberals. Murray Rankin, a New Democratic Party lawmaker, asked the clerk how lawmakers could “do anything but conclude that you have in fact crossed the line into partisan activity?” Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said he seemed “willing to interfere in partisan fashion for whoever is in power.”

Whatever Wernick’s true motives, he is the latest but not last in what will be a long line of cabinet departures as the SNC scandal exposes even more corruption in Trudeau’s cabinet (some have ironically pointed out that Canada’s “beloved” prime minister could be gone for actual corruption long before Trump). Trudeau had already lost a top political aide, Gerald Butts, to the scandal. A second minister, Jane Philpott, followed Wilson-Raybould in quitting cabinet.

Separately, on Monday, Trudeau appointed a former deputy prime minister in a Liberal government, Anne McLellan, as a special adviser to investigate some of the legal questions raised by the controversy. They include how governments should interact with the attorney general and whether that role should continue to be held by the justice minister.

As Bloomberg notes, the increasingly shaky Liberal government hasn’t ruled out helping SNC by ordering a deferred prosecution agreement in the corruption and bribery case, which centers around the company’s work in Moammar Qaddafi’s Libya. Doing so would allow the company to pay a fine and avoid any ban on receiving government contracts. That decision is up to the current attorney general, David Lametti; of course, such an action would only raise tensions amid speculation that the government is pushing for a specific political, and favorable for Trudeau, outcome.

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France To Ban Yellow Vest Protests In Neighborhoods With “Ultra” Radicals

Philippe added that he has asked the State Judicial Agent to “systematically seek the financial responsibility of troublemakers.”

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Via Zerohedge


France is cracking down on “yellow vest” protesters following a weekend of renewed violence – as the Macron administration announced on Monday that it would ban demonstration in several areas of france – including the Champs Elysees in Paris, if “ultra elements” are present, according to Interior Minister Edouard Philippe.

‘We will ban demonstrations if ultra elements’ are present, said Philippe, according to CNEWS.

The ban will apply to “neighborhoods that have been most affected as soon as we have knowledge of” the “ultras.”

“I am thinking of course the Champs-Elysees in Paris, the place Pey-Berland in Bordeaux, the Capitol Square in Toulouse”, Philippe added, where “we will proceed to the immediate dispersal of all groups.

Philippe added that he has asked the State Judicial Agent to “systematically seek the financial responsibility of troublemakers.”

Saturday marked a significant escalation in violence during the group’s 18th straight week of protests – which began as a revolt against a climate-change gas tax and expanded into a general anti-government movement.

As we noted on Sunday, the riots were so severe that French President Emmanuel Macron cut short a vacation at the La Mongie ski resort in the Hautes-Pyrénées following a three-day tour of East Africa which took him to Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Macron said over Twitter that “strong decisions” were coming to prevent more violence.

Macron said some individuals — dubbed “black blocs” by French police forces — were taking advantage of the protests by the Yellow Vest grassroots movement to “damage the Republic, to break, to destroy.” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Twitter that those who excused or encouraged such violence were complicit in it. –Bloomberg

Sounds like things are about to get a lot more violent in Gay Paree.

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The Destabilisation Of Algeria: The Influx Of New Refugees To Europe And A Threat To Its Energy Security

The destabilisation of Algeria will undoubtedly cause problems for Europe. 

The Duran

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Via Oriental Review:


The president of Algeria, 82-year-old Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has been in power for almost 20 years, has declared that he will not be running for what would have been his fifth term. The announcement was made against the backdrop of widespread protests that have been rocking the country for days. Thus, the latest revolution in the Arab world has succeeded. The question is, what will come next?

Despite being laid to rest countless times, the Arab Spring has continued where it was least expected. Algeria has the same explosive cocktail as Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria, of course: a young, rapidly growing urban population deprived of jobs and opportunities; corruption and poverty amid opulent wealth and luxury; uneasy relationships between ethnic groups (in Algeria’s case, between the Arabs and the Kabyle people, a Berber ethnic group); Islamist activity; and, finally, an unchanging authoritarian leader who rules with the same unchanging palette of ideas as every other dictatorship – “Who else if not me?”, “It will be worse without me”, “You don’t change horses in midstream” and so on. But judging by how calmly the country endured the turbulent events in nearby Tunisia and Libya, with only localised pockets of unrest, many experts were under the impression that the elderly Bouteflika would simply be able to retire by handing the presidency to whomever he wants – namely Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, who has the unspoken title of “successor”. Something has gone wrong, however.

It is unclear why, on 10 February, Bouteflika announced that he would be taking part in the presidential election scheduled for April. It is even unclear how much say he had in this decision. In 2013, Bouteflika suffered a stroke. A year later he was re-elected amid myriad accusations of election fraud and stopped appearing in public. Until last Sunday, that is, when Bouteflika delivered an address to the nation in which he announced he had changed his mind and no longer wanted to run for re-election.

“There won’t be a fifth mandate and it was never on the table as far as I am concerned,” he said. “Given my state of health and age, my last duty towards the Algerian people was always contributing to the foundation of a new Republic.”

On Monday, the government, including Ahmed Ouyahia, resigned. A “cabinet of technocrats” is being put together in its place headed by the now former interior minister, Noureddine Bedoui, and the streets of the country’s capital are filled with cheering crowds.

The biggest potential powder keg for the situation in Algeria, of course, is the fact that the presidential election has been postponed indefinitely. Exactly when it will take place will become clear after the national conference tasked with drafting a new constitution. The presidential election and the voting on it has to take place at the same time.

So, for the time being there is political uncertainty: a president who has either resigned or hasn’t; an emerging government; and a people inspired by what seems to be a victory. There is also the bulldog fight going on behind the scenes at the highest levels of government about which little is known, but which has been hampered by the presence of the country’s unquestioned leader, Bouteflika.

President of Algeria Abdelaziz Bouteflika

It should be remembered, however, that, no matter what you think of him, the current Algerian leaderdid actually bring stability to the country. It was during his presidency that the so-called “Black Decade” – a civil war instigated by Islamists in 1991 – came to an end. After winning the 1999 presidential election, Bouteflika secured an amnesty for the militants and the wave of terror gradually subsided. At the beginning of his time in office, he pursued a fairly flexible policy, didn’t persecute his opponents as long as they didn’t resort to violent methods, and tried to make it so that rising energy prices had a positive impact on the well-being of the people and not just the ruling elite. The system began to stiffen in 2008, however, when a law was passed allowing the president to be re-elected an infinite number of times. This process has now gone so far that opponents of the regime are only going to be happy with serious, rather than cosmetic, changes, and this kind of attitude always spells danger for the future of a country.

If the situation in Algeria comes to bloodshed, then it is unlikely that other countries will stay on the sidelines. Europe will be forced to intervene, if only to prevent a new wave of refugees from Arab countries.

Meanwhile, the situation in Algeria remains tense. The president’s announcement that he will not run for a fifth term has not quelled the protests. The unrest of the people is now directed against the introduction of a transition period and the creation of a new government that they believe will contain all the same people who are running the country now. The protesters are demanding a regime change, although they are not formulating their position very well. What’s more, following Bouteflika’s decision not to run for re-election on 18 April, no one is ready – there are no other candidates, no one has carried out an election campaign and it would be virtually impossible to do so in the time remaining. It therefore seems that the different sides will now have to talk to each other.

A possible split in the Algerian elite could be dangerous. In fact, that’s why Bouteflika was put forward for president – he united them. The balance among the parties close to power is extremely fragile, but the feelings of unrest and discontent are strong. A number of organisations are taking part in the street protests, including various parties and NGOs, and the longer the protests continue, the more various forces will try to take advantage of them.

Prime Minister of Algeria Noureddine Bedoui

Algeria’s political parties and movements have been divided in their assessment of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s decisions. The National Liberation Front has supported the head of state, who “heeded the calls of the Algerian people”. In a statement, the ruling party said: “It allows politicians and members of civil society to take part in the construction of a new Algeria.” Abdelamajid Munasyra, the deputy leader of the moderate Islamist party Movement for the Society of Peace, said that Bouteflika “withdrew his candidacy from the presidential election but remained in power, which violates the constitution”. The Algerian newspaper Elkhabar quotes the politician as saying:

“The political opposition is waiting for the response of the people, whether these decisions will be accepted by the people. But if these steps are not taken, which is likely, then we will stand with the people.”

In a video statement, the head of the Union for Reform and Progress, Zubaidah Assul, called the president’s actions “a political manoeuvre and an attempt to avoid meeting the demands of the demonstrators”. The Algerian politician continued: “From what we have heard, it appears that the president has extended his term in office, and he has not given any indication of how long the transition period will last.” She also noted that the posts of prime minister and deputy prime minister have been filled by representatives of the “old regime”. At the same time, Assul believes that the people will quietly continue trying to oust “the entire regime from power”.

The dissatisfaction of Algerians is being spurred on by the unfavourable social and economic situation in the country. The protesters are demanding pro-Western reforms and they’re demanding changes in the country. According to unofficial sources, more than one million people took part in the protests in Algeria on 1 March.

The lack of a viable successor and the inability of the current elite to solve the economic crisis are contributing to the uncertainty of Algeria’s political future, something that the current regime’s main opponents – the Islamists – will inevitably try to take advantage of. The weakening of the vertical power structure and the continuing protests are creating a breeding ground for the resurrection of Islamist organisations. In particular, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb recently published a talk entitled “Algeria…Getting Out From The Dark Tunnel”, which states that the organisation is ready to take advantage of the unrest when the time is right.

The destabilisation of Algeria will undoubtedly cause problems for Europe. Besides the inevitable influx of new refugees, Europe could also face a threat to its energy security, given that Algeria provides a third of the gas consumed in Europe and as much as half of the gas consumed in Spain. At the same time, the weakness of the current government during a possible civil conflict will be exacerbated by the situation in the bordering countries of Libya and Mali. ISIS jihadists have strong positions in both countries, while the lengthy and poorly controlled border with Mali and Libya risks the spread of Islamic fundamentalism into the vast territories of north and north-west Africa.

The US will also not fail to take advantage of the complex situation in Algeria. Under the pretext of fighting terrorism, Washington will easily be able to implement plans to penetrate and consolidate its positions in the Sahel-Sahara Region. A large-scale military presence will also allow the US to secure its interests in reorienting Algeria’s energy policy towards the development of shale gas and implementing its strategic objective of organising the supply of this raw material to Europe.

Whatever happens, Algeria is facing several serious challenges at once and its ability to respond is being severely hampered by a lack of any notable potential leaders either within government or within the ranks of the opposition.

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