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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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Beijing Threatens “Severe” Retaliation Against Canada If Huawei CFO Is Not Released

China’s warning marks an escalation in Beijing’s rhetoric as investors worry that the arrest could cause the shaky trade detente between the US and China to devolve into acrimony.

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Via Zerohedge


Canada’s extraordinary arrest one week ago of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei founder and billionaire executive Ren Zhengfei, and its decision to charge her with “multiple” counts of fraud – a preamble to her likely extradition to the US to face charges of knowingly violating US and EU sanctions on Iran – has elicited widespread anger in Beijing, which declared Meng’s detention a “violation of human rights” during a bail hearing for the jailed executive on Friday.

That anger has apparently only intensified after the hearing adjourned without a decision (it will resume on Monday, allowing Meng’s defense team to argue for why she should be released on bail, contrary to the wishes of government attorneys who are prosecuting the case).

And with Canada insisting that it will prosecute Meng to the full extent of the law over allegations that she mislead banks about the true relationship of a Huawei subsidiary called Skycom, angry Chinese officials have decided to issue an ultimatum directly to the Canadian ambassador, who was summoned to a meeting in Beijing on Saturday and told in no uncertain terms that Canada will face “severe consequences” if Meng isn’t released, according to the Wall Street Journal.

China’s foreign ministry publicized the warning in a statement (though Canadian officials have yet to comment):

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng summoned Canada’s ambassador to Beijing, John McCallum, on Saturday to deliver the warning, according to a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

The statement doesn’t mention the name of Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, though it refers to a Huawei “principal” taken into custody at U.S. request while changing planes in Vancouver, as was Ms. Meng. The statement accuses Canada of “severely violating the legal, legitimate rights of a Chinese citizen” and demands the person’s release.

“Otherwise there will be severe consequences, and Canada must bear the full responsibility,” said the statement, which was posted online late Saturday.

Phone calls to the Canadian Embassy rang unanswered while the Canadian government’s global affairs media office didn’t immediately respond to an email request for comment.

The warning marks an escalation in Beijing’s rhetoric as investors worry that the arrest could cause the shaky trade detente between the US and China to devolve into acrimony. A federal judge issued a warrant for Meng’s arrest back in August. Though after she was made aware of the warrant, Meng avoided travel to the US. She was arrested in Vancouver last Saturday while traveling to Mexico.

Aside from breaking off trade talks, some are worried that Beijing could seek to retaliate in kind by arresting a notable US executive. While the threats of Chinese bureaucrats might not amount to much in the eyes of US prosecutors, threatening a US executive with long-term detention in a Chinese “reeducation camp” just might.

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The trials of Julian Assange

Eresh Omar Jamal interviews Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi in relation to the situation of Julian Assange.

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Authored by Eresh Omar Jamal for The Daily Star (Bangladesh):


Stefania Maurizi is an investigative journalist working for the Italian daily La Repubblica. She has worked on all WikiLeaks releases of secret documents and partnered with Glenn Greenwald to reveal the Snowden Files about Italy. She has authored two books—Dossier WikiLeaks: Segreti Italiani and Una Bomba, Dieci Storie. In an exclusive interview with Eresh Omar Jamal of The Daily Star, Maurizi talks about the continued arbitrary detention of Julian Assange, why powerful governments see WikiLeaks as an existential threat, and the implications for global press freedom if Assange is prosecuted for publishing secret government documents.

You recently had the chance to visit Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. When was this and can you describe the state he is in?

I was able to visit him on November 19, after 8 months of failed attempts, because last March the Ecuadorian authorities cut off all his social and professional contacts, with the exception of his lawyers, and in the preceding 8 months, I had asked for permission to visit him nine times without success—the Ecuadorian authorities didn’t reply at all to my requests.

When I was finally granted permission to visit the WikiLeaks founder at the Ecuadorian embassy in London last November, I was literally shocked to see the huge impact his isolation has had on his health. Because I have worked as a media partner with him and his organisation, WikiLeaks, for the last nine years, I have met him many times and can tell when there are any changes in his body and mind. I wondered how his mind could keep working; but after talking to him in the embassy for two hours, I have no doubt that his mind is working fine. I still wonder how that’s possible after six and a half years of detention without even one hour of being outdoors. I would have had a physical and mental breakdown after just 6 months, not after 6 years.

Detention and isolation are killing him slowly, and no one is doing anything to stop it. The media reports, the commentators comment, but at the end of the day, he is still there; having spent the last six and a half years confined to a tiny building with no access to sunlight or to proper medical treatment. And this is happening in London, in the heart of Europe. He is not sitting in an embassy in Pyongyang. It is truly tragic and completely unacceptable. And I’m simply appalled at the way the UK authorities have contributed to his arbitrary detention, and have opposed any solution to this intractable legal and diplomatic quagmire.

Having bravely defended Assange for years, the Ecuadorian government in late March cut off almost all his communications with the outside world. What prompted this turnabout and what is its purpose?

Politics has completely changed in Ecuador, and more in general, in Latin America, since 2012, when Ecuador granted Julian Assange asylum. I have never had any interviews with the current Ecuadorian President, Mr Lenin Moreno, but based on his public declarations, it’s rather obvious to me that he does not approve of what Julian Assange and WikiLeaks do.

With all his problems, Rafael Correa (former president of Ecuador) protected Assange from the very beginning, whereas Lenin Moreno considers him a liability. Moreno is under pressure from the right-wing politicians in Ecuador, and also from very powerful governments, like the US and UK governments, who will leave no stones unturned to jail Assange and destroy WikiLeaks. I am not sure how long Lenin Moreno will hold out against this immense pressure, provided that he wants to hold out at all.

Assange was vindicated not so long ago as to why he cannot leave the embassy when the US Department of Justice “accidentally” revealed in November that the founder of WikiLeaks had been secretly charged in the US. What do you think those charges are for?

It’s hard to say unless the charges get declassified and I really appreciate how the US organisation, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, is fighting before the court in the Eastern District of Virginia, US, to have the charges declassified.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the US authorities have always wanted to charge him for WikiLeaks’ publications. They have wanted to do so from the very beginning, since 2010, when WikiLeaks released its bombshell publications like the US diplomatic cables.

But the US authorities have been unable to do so due to the fact that WikiLeaks’ publication activities enjoy constitutional protection thanks to the First Amendment. So it will be very interesting to see how they will get around this constitutional protection in order to be able to charge him and other WikiLeaks journalists and put them all in jail.

Why have some of the most powerful governments and intelligence agencies invested so much resources to attack Assange and WikiLeaks?

You have to realise what it meant for the US national security complex to witness the publication of 76,000 secret documents about the war in Afghanistan, and then another 390,000 secret reports about the war in Iraq; followed by 251,287 US diplomatic cables and 779 secret files on the Guantanamo detainees; and to watch WikiLeaks save Edward Snowden, while the US was trying everything it could do, to show the world that there is no way of exposing the NSA’s secrets and keep your head attached to your neck having done so.

You have to realise what this means in an environment like that of the US, where even the most brilliant national security reporters didn’t dare to publish the name of the head of the CIA Counterterrorism Center, Michael D’Andrea, even though his name and the abuses committed by his centre were open secrets within their inner circles. Although the New York Times finally did, later on. But this was and still is the reality in the US, and even though it may not be as bad in the UK, it’s still quite bad. Look at what happened with the arrest of Glenn Greenwald’s husband, David Miranda, at the Heathrow Airport during the publication of the Snowden Files. Look at what happened with The Guardian being forced to destroy its hard drives during the publication of those files.

There are different levels of power in our societies and generally in our western democracies, criticism against the low, medium and high levels of power via journalistic activities is tolerated. Journalists may get hit with libel cases, have troubles with their careers; however, exposing those levels is permitted. The problem is when journalists and media organisations touch the highest levels, the levels where states and intelligence agencies operate.

WikiLeaks is a media organisation that has published secret documents about these entities for years, and Julian Assange and his staff have done this consistently, not occasionally like all the other media organisations do. You can imagine the anger these powerful entities have towards WikiLeaks—they perceive WikiLeaks as an existential threat and they want to set an example that says, “Don’t you dare expose our secrets and crimes, because if you do, we will smash you.”

If Assange is prosecuted, what impact might it have on other publishers and journalists and on press freedom globally?

It will have a huge impact and that is why organisations like the American Civil Liberties Union are speaking out. Never before in the US has an editor and media organisation ended up in jail for publishing information in the public interest. If Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks’ staff end up in jail, it will be the first time in US history and will set a devastating precedent for attack on press freedom in the US, but actually, not only in the US. Because if a country like the US, in which the activities of the press enjoy constitutional protection, treats journalists this way, you can imagine how other countries where the press doesn’t enjoy such strong protection will react. It will send a clear message to them: “Your hands are free.”

At the end of the day, I think there are two sides to this Assange and WikiLeaks saga: the US-UK national security complex, but more in general, I would say, the people within the national security complex, who want to destroy Julian Assange and WikiLeaks to send a clear message to journalists: “Don’t mess with us if you don’t want your lives to be destroyed.” While on the other side, there are the freedom of the press guys, meaning journalists like me, who want to demonstrate the exact opposite: that we can expose power at the highest levels, we can expose the darkest corners of governments and come out alive and well. And actually, we must do this, because real power is invisible and hides in the darkest corners.

Eresh Omar Jamal is a journalist for The Daily Star (Bangladesh). You can find him on Twitter: @EreshOmarJamal and Stefania Maurizi: @SMaurizi

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Diplomacy a Waste of Time with Washington

Trump’s JCPOA pullout and threatened INF Treaty withdrawal show Washington can never be trusted.

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Authored by Stephen Lendman:


The US is a serial lawbreaker, operating by its own rules, no others.

Time and again, it flagrantly breaches international treaties, Security Council resolutions, and other rule of law principles, including its own Constitution.

Diplomacy with Republicans and undemocratic Dems is an exercise in futility.

Trump’s JCPOA pullout and threatened INF Treaty withdrawal show Washington can never be trusted.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova’s proposed US outreach to discuss INF Treaty bilateral differences is well intended – despite knowing nothing is accomplished when talks with Washington are held, so why bother.

It’s just a matter of time before the US breaches another promise. They’re hollow when made. Kremlin good intentions aren’t enough to overcome US duplicity and implacable hostility toward Russia.

“We are ready to continue the dialogue in appropriate formats on the entire range of problems related to this document on the basis of professionalism and mutual respect, without putting forward unsubstantiated accusations and ultimatums. Our proposals are well known and remain on the negotiating table,” said Zakharova, adding:

“We have admitted (US) documents for further consideration. This text again includes accusations in the form of unfounded and unsubstantiated information about Russia’s alleged violations of this deal.

Comments to Washington like the above and similar remarks are like talking to a wall. The US demands all countries bend to its will, offering nothing in return but betrayal – especially in dealings with Russia, China, Iran, and other sovereign independent governments it seeks to replace with pro-Western puppet ones.

Not a shred of evidence suggests Russia violated its INF Treaty obligations. The accusation is baseless like all others against the Kremlin.

“No one has officially or by any other means handed over to Russia any files or facts, confirming that Russia breaches or does not comply with this deal,” Zakharova stressed, adding:

“We again confirm our consistent position that the INF Treaty is one of the key pillars of strategic stability and international security.”

It’s why the Trump regime intends abolishing it by pulling out. Strategic stability and international security defeat its agenda. Endless wars and chaos serve it.

The US, UK, France, Israel, and their imperial partners get away with repeated international law breaches because the EU, UN, and rest of the world community lack backbone enough to challenge them.

It’s how it is no matter how egregious their actions, notably their endless wars of aggression, supporting the world’s worst tinpot pot despots, and failing to back the rights of persecuted Palestinians and other long-suffering people.

The only language Republicans and Dems understand is toughness. Putin pretends a Russian/US partnership exists to his discredit – a show of weakness, not strength and responsible leadership.

In response to the Trump regime’s intention to withdraw from the INF Treaty, he said Russia will “react accordingly” – precisely what, he didn’t say.

A few suggestions, Mr. President.

  • Recall your ambassador to Washington. Expel the Trump regime’s envoy from Moscow and other key embassy personnel.
  • Arrest US spies in Russia you long ago identified. Imprison them until the US releases all Russian political prisoners. Agree to swap US detainees for all of them, no exceptions.
  • Install enough S-400 air defense systems to cover all Syrian airspace. Warn Washington, Britain, France and Israel that their aircraft, missiles and other aerial activities in its airspace will be destroyed in flight unless permission from Damascus is gotten – clearly not forthcoming.
  • Publicly and repeatedly accuse the above countries of supporting the scourge of ISIS and likeminded terrorists they pretend to oppose.
  • Warn them in no uncertain terms that their aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic no longer will be tolerated. Tell them the same goes if they dare attack Iran.
  • Stop pretending Mohammad bin Salman didn’t order Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, along with ignoring the kingdom’s horrendous human rights abuses domestically and abroad – including support for ISIS and other terrorists.
  • Put observance of rule of law principles and honor above dirty business as usual with the kingdom and other despotic regimes for profits.
  • Do the right things at all times and damn the short-term consequences – including toughness on Washington, the UK, Israel, and their imperial partners in high crimes of war and against humanity.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: stephenlendman.org (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at [email protected].

My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

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