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NEW TRADE AND SECURITY ORDER IN THE GULF

by ARGeezer Tue Aug 20th, 2019 at 03:44:18 AM EST

Who lost the Mid-East?

China's Ultimate Play For Global Oil Market Control    H/T Naked Capitalism

While we have been distracted by Trump and Brexit new trade and security arrangements are afoot in the Gulf. Dismayed by what they see as US wavering with respect to Iran, The Emirates and, with equivocation, Saudi Arabia have assented to a new role in the Gulf for China and Russia. This could stabilize the region and defuse conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran. There has been a storm of diplomatic activity in the region on several fronts. This could presage a withdrawal of US forces and influence in the area - or WW III.

(The author) Yossef Bodansky, Director of Research at the International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA) and Senior Editor of Defense & Foreign Affairs publications (including the Global Information System: GIS), was, for more than a decade, the Director of the US House of Representatives Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare.

See either link to the original article for a wealth of detail on the storm of diplomatic moves and new treaties, defense arrangements and mutual guarantees already made in the area between Russia, Iran, China the Emirates and other regional powers including Turkey and Pakistan.

Front-paged - Frank Schnittger - An important discussion, which you may have missed if you follow only Anglo-American media

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The lesser ego

by Frank Schnittger Fri Aug 16th, 2019 at 01:28:48 PM EST

At last there are some glimmers of hope that the reality of a no-deal Brexit is beginning to dawn on a cross-party majority of MPs and efforts have begun to find a mechanism by which this can be prevented. Since no one trusts Boris Johnson to call an election before October 31st. even if he does lose two votes of confidence, these efforts are focused on finding an acceptable compromise candidate who can be elected a temporary caretaker PM during the two week period between the first no-confidence vote and the deadline for an alternative administration to be formed.

In the absence of an alternative caretaker PM being elected, Boris Johnson would remain as PM until the election is actually held, and in control of the process by which the election date is chosen. His hardline stance on welcoming a no-deal Brexit, and failure to even engage with EU leaders is making it easier for a more cohesive anti-no deal Brexit majority to emerge. However there are huge constitutional and political difficulties to be overcome if this scenario is to become a reality. What has changed is that a sequence of events, hitherto regarded as far fetched, has now taken centre stage in UK political debate.

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Minister for potatoes

by Frank Schnittger Tue Aug 13th, 2019 at 09:37:31 AM EST

Botched departure from EU should not lead to botched exit from UK

Knowing how to make a grand entrance is all very well but, as the Brexit saga reminds us, the ability to make a dignified exit is even more important. There is a lovely French phrase, l'esprit de l'escalier, that signifies the moment at the bottom of the staircase when you think of what you should have said as you were leaving. The Brexiteers have not yet decided what it is they should have said before the decision to depart was made in June 2016. The words of Capt Lawrence Oates, as he left the tent to walk into the blizzard near the bitter end of Robert Falcon Scott's doomed expedition to the South Pole, seem to be as much as they can manage: we are going out now and we may be some time.

But there is more than one exit taking place now, more than one union that is about to be left behind. One certainty in these days of confusion is that whatever Boris Johnson is camping up most ludicrously is the thing that is in deepest trouble. When Johnson, like some tinpot dictator awarding himself decorations and accolades, granted himself the hitherto unheard-of title of minister for the union, there could be no more convincing proof that the union is in deep doo-doo. If you have to have a minister for potatoes, it can only be because there is potato blight. If the state you're in needs a minister to affirm its very existence, you in a pretty bad state.

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Compromise on the backstop would solve nothing now

by Frank Schnittger Thu Aug 8th, 2019 at 11:00:42 AM EST

The Irish Independent, the highest circulation Irish daily newspaper, has published my letter to the editor in full and as the lead letter on its letters page:

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An existential crisis for the EU

by Frank Schnittger Tue Aug 6th, 2019 at 11:36:48 AM EST

To some extent we are all operating in the dark when it comes to predicting how various actors - primarily governments - will act in particular circumstances. We all have to make assumptions to reduce the number of potential variables, but it might be a useful exercise to make those assumptions explicit to see where our foundational expectations differ.

My assumptions about the guiding principles of the key actors look something like this:

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Boris' Brexit Vision

by Frank Schnittger Thu Aug 1st, 2019 at 11:40:05 AM EST


The European Tribune has obtained a copy of Boris Johnson's private diary an extract from which is published below: (Some links have been added for clarity)

Ever since the EU decided to leave the British Empire it has been trying to blame the British for all the problems this is causing, particularly in Ireland, where it will result in a hard customs border right across the middle of Britain's oldest colony. Britain only reluctantly agreed to the partition of Ireland in 1922 to stop the Irish killing each other, and has been striving to reduce the significance of that border ever since; particularly through the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement where the British finally managed to get the Irish to see some sense.

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The death of Sophie Hingst

by Frank Schnittger Sat Jul 27th, 2019 at 05:41:47 PM EST

Derek Scally, Irish Times Berlin Correspondent, has written a sensitive article about a 31 year old German woman and blogger who studied for her Doctorate in Trinity College Dublin, and worked for Intel in Leixlip near Dublin. She died suddenly last week, apparently by her own hand, a few weeks after Der Spiegel published an exposé highlighting her invention of 22 Holocaust victims, many of them supposedly in her own family.

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Spain fails to get a government

by IdiotSavant Thu Jul 25th, 2019 at 10:07:49 PM EST

Back in April, Spanish voters went to the polls to elect a new parliament. The Socialists emerged as the largest party, with 28.7% of the vote. But despite being the only party with the possibility of forming a government, they have failed to do so:

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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Pfeffle of Pfeff Hall Studies the Map of Europe

by john_evans Thu Jul 25th, 2019 at 12:05:46 PM EST

and we may laugh. It's about all we can do. Pfeffle's progression to Number 10, and the appointment of a very rightwing and Brexiteer Cabinet went without a hitch.

What happens now?

Frontpaging an old frontpager is such fun! - Frank Schnittger

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Finessing the Withdrawal Agreement

by Frank Schnittger Fri Jul 19th, 2019 at 11:16:56 PM EST

The European Tribune has come into possession of a secret memorandum of the Irish Department of External Affairs...

Top Secret
Caution: To be shared with UK Government only after talks with the incoming UK Prime Minister have irretrievably broken down.

Memorandum proposing a process to overcome Withdrawal Agreement impasse.

Background: Para. 5 of the EU/UK agreement to extend the A.50 negotiation period explicitly prohibits the UK from using the extension to seek to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement. Further negotiations were to focus exclusively on the legally non-binding accompanying political declaration. However, it has become clear during the Conservative Party leadership election that without at least some face saving device the Withdrawal Agreement, in its current form, will not be passed by the UK Parliament. The Irish Government will therefore be faced, at the very least, with a period of "No-deal" Brexit until such time as the current UK Government, dependent as it is on the DUP, is no longer in power.

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A Cold House

by Frank Schnittger Sun Jul 14th, 2019 at 12:25:00 PM EST

Cliff Taylor has written a rather amusing spoof despatch from a British Diplomat in Dublin back to his seniors in Whitehall - no doubt modelled on Sir Kim Darroch despatches from Washington. In general it seems an accurate take on the state of "no deal" Brexit contingency planning in Ireland, but the over-riding impression is one of confusion as to what the Irish are really up to.

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John Bull in a China Shop

by Frank Schnittger Wed Jul 10th, 2019 at 12:09:18 AM EST

I do so tire of Brexiteers claiming that the referendum result gives them the right to do more or less as they please and that anyone who objects to their proposals is acting undemocratically. However I get especially annoyed when Irish writers claim that respect for democracy requires us to indulge Brexiteers every whim and cast aside our own national interests. It's not all about the UK you know...

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Elections in Greece

by eurogreen Mon Jul 8th, 2019 at 12:22:00 PM EST

A general election took place in Greece, yesterday 7th July 2019. I will make a few comments, as nobody else has done so. Please note that I have no particular knowledge of politics in Greece, other than through my attachment to the DiEM25 movement. So this will be a somewhat ignorant and partisan little diary. The headline is "Conservative landslide", because the New Democracy party won a majority (158 of 300 seats)...
But in a normal European democracy, the news today would be all about the difficulty of cobbling together a left-of-centre government...

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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The Johnson and Hunt show

by Frank Schnittger Fri Jul 5th, 2019 at 01:51:04 PM EST

The Johnson and Hunt show is winding its tedious way around the UK with the principals both promising to re-negotiate the Withdrawal Agreement and declaring the Irish backstop to be a dead letter. Well they would, wouldn't they, given the audiences they are speaking to. John Crace is particularly withering about their performance in Northern Ireland. Both are blithely ignoring the fact that the EU has consistently said the A.50 negotiations are finished and the Withdrawal Agreement negotiations won't be re-opened.

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No Deal Means No deal (Reprise)

by Frank Schnittger Tue Jul 2nd, 2019 at 11:12:01 AM EST



Minister for Justice Charles Flanagan and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney hold their press conference on the street after the British failed to provide a room following a meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference in London last month. Photograph: Kirsty O'Connor/PA

Update [2019-7-2 11:12:1 by Frank Schnittger]:First published Fri Aug 3rd, 2018, but is there anything of substance which has changed in the meantime?</update>


One of the few things the UK government has done well is to summarise their position in a few pithy phrases even low information voters can understand. We are all familiar with the famous "Brexit means Brexit" catchphrase of Prime Minster May and Boris Johnson's famous "we can have our cake at eat it" which should really be "we can eat our cake and still have it"...

What Johnson means by this is that the UK will be able to carry on trading with the EU very much as before, taking all the benefits of access to the EU Single Market and all the Free Trade Agreements (FTA) the EU has negotiated with third parties without any of the costs and restrictions of EU membership. Apparently the EU would agree to this because "they need us more than we need them" and replicating EU FTAs would be a simple mater of replacing the letters "EU" with "UK" in all the FTAs the EU has negotiated to date.

The EU negotiating stance, on the other hand, has been one long slow process of disabusing the UK of such notions. Access to the Single Market will require agreement to "the four freedoms", and membership of the Customs Union will require compliance with the corpus of customs regulations the EU has built up over the years. The UK will not be allowed to achieve a competitive advantage by taking in cheaper, less regulated imports, or by reducing the scope of workers rights. And this is before we even talk about the UK making Norway style ongoing contributions to the EU budget in return for access to the Single Market.

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No deal means no deal

by Frank Schnittger Tue Jul 2nd, 2019 at 09:55:29 AM EST


Minister for Justice Charles Flanagan and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney hold their press conference on the street after the British failed to provide a room following a meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference in London last month. Photograph: Kirsty O'Connor/PA

Update [2019-7-2 9:55:29 by Frank Schnittger]:First published Fri Aug 3rd, 2018, but is there anything of substance which has changed in the meantime?

One of the few things the UK government has done well is to summarise their position in a few pithy phrases even low information voters can understand. We are all familiar with the famous "Brexit means Brexit" catchphrase of Prime Minster May and Boris Johnson's famous "we can have our cake at eat it" which should really be "we can eat our cake and still have it"...

What Johnson means by this is that the UK will be able to carry on trading with the EU very much as before, taking all the benefits of access to the EU Single Market and all the Free Trade Agreements (FTA) the EU has negotiated with third parties without any of the costs and restrictions of EU membership. Apparently the EU would agree to this because "they need us more than we need them" and replicating EU FTAs would be a simple mater of replacing the letters "EU" with "UK" in all the FTAs the EU has negotiated to date.

The EU negotiating stance, on the other hand, has been one long slow process of disabusing the UK of such notions. Access to the Single Market will require agreement to "the four freedoms", and membership of the Customs Union will require compliance with the corpus of customs regulations the EU has built up over the years. The UK will not be allowed to achieve a competitive advantage by taking in cheaper, less regulated imports, or by reducing the scope of workers rights. And this is before we even talk about the UK making Norway style ongoing contributions to the EU budget in return for access to the Single Market.

Read more... (53 comments, 1656 words in story)

Merkel for President?

by Frank Schnittger Wed Jun 26th, 2019 at 12:52:26 PM EST

EU Prime Ministers met last week-end to try to fill the key EU posts of President of the Commission, President of the Council, President of the Central Bank, and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. They failed miserably, agreeing only to kill off the candidacies of European Parliament Spitzenkandidaten Manfred Weber (EPP), Dutch socialist Franz Timmermans and the Danish liberal Margrethe Vestager.

Insiders joked the leaders couldn't even agree on what they disagreed on. Leo Varadker opined it was easier to elect a Pope. Jean-Claude Juncker noted with some conceit that "it appears I'm not that easy to replace." EU Prime Ministers like to keep decisions on the top jobs to themselves, and are not about to outsource that decision to the European Parliament, or indeed to the European peoples who elected that Parliament.

They meet again this week-end ahead of the opening session of the European Parliament which must approve their choice for Commission President, but with no guarantee they will succeed in moving the process any further forward. The complex series of compromises required to achieve an acceptable mix of ideological, party, nationality, personality, and gender balances may well continue to elude them. And yet the EU, confronted by Trump, trade wars, and Brexit, needs strong and capable leadership now more than ever before.

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The "Intellectual Weakness" of Irish Nationalism

by Frank Schnittger Thu Jun 20th, 2019 at 11:51:27 PM EST

Letter published in the Irish Times...

Northern Ireland and staying in UK

A chara, - You cite Lord Paul Bew, who teaches Irish history and politics at Queen's University Belfast (QUB), as saying, "Theresa May's successor must make the case for the union consistently". He also highlights what he describes as the "intellectual weakness" of the case for a united Ireland".


He has published his paper through Policy Exchange, a right-of-centre UK think tank which is frequently cited as influential on Tory Party policymaking, together with a foreword by Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs, and who proposed the Brady amendment to pursue alternative solutions to the backstop.

Ironically, he describes the nationalist case for a united Ireland as based on falsifiable or insupportable suppositions, when it is the DUP and British government which have singularly failed to show any practical alternative solution to the backstop working anywhere in the world.

He argues that "a new, modern case for the union must be developed, based on the principle of consent", when that is precisely what is enshrined in the 1998 Belfast Agreement, then resisted by the DUP, and which Brexiteers and unionists are now so anxious to undermine.

Northern Ireland voted 56 per cent to 44 per cent to remain in the EU and it is the DUP, with 22 per cent support in the recent European Parliament elections, which is pursuing a Brexit agenda, in cahoots with a Conservative government, against the consent of the majority.

Perhaps the good professor needs to examine the "intellectual weaknesses" in his own position. - Yours, etc,

FRANK SCHNITTGER

Read more... (32 comments, 1339 words in story)

Democracy with Spanish characteristics again

by IdiotSavant Thu Jun 20th, 2019 at 10:00:39 PM EST

Last month, Catalans elected three exiled and jailed pro-independence politicians to the European Parliament. Unfortunately, Spain no longer seems to respect the results of democratic elections, and the Spanish Electoral Commission today declared their seats vacant. The reason? None of them had made the required oath to uphold the Spanish constitution before the Electoral Commission. But in all three cases, it is because the Spanish state did not permit them to.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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All over bar the shouting... [Update 3]

by Frank Schnittger Thu Jun 13th, 2019 at 02:49:06 PM EST

The Tory Leadership election is all but decided after the first round of voting. Although Boris Johnson is some way short of a majority of the parliamentary party votes after the first round of voting, it is very hard to see anyone else overtaking him, and he only needs 105 votes to make it into the top two and go forward to the vote of all party members in any case. He also leads all opinion polling of conservative party members and so we can more or less take his election for granted at this stage, barring some spectacular snafu, which, given this is Boris, cannot be entirely discounted. To avert this possibility, his handlers have been keeping him on a tight rein, limiting his public appearances, and even giving him a slightly tidier haircut...

[Update]: Soft Brexiteer Rory Stewart gained the most votes (+14), and hard Brexiteer Dominic Raab has been eliminated following the second round of voting. [Update2] In the third round Sajid Javid leapfrogs Rory Stewart to stay in the Tory leadership race for one more round, but it looks like it's between Gove and Hunt for the second spot on the membership ballot. Boris Johnson is closing in on an overall majority of the votes of the Parliamentary party as careerists overcome their scruples to secure ministerial positions]:

[Update 3]: It's Boris vs. Hunt. No contest really, given the make-up of the electorate. But when will the British people get to have their say? Boris is on the record of proclaiming that Gordon Brown's premiership was illegitimate because it was Tony Blair the people had elected. Now of course; waffle waffle, crisis, waffle waffle, because, waffle waffle he's perfectly ok with that. After all he was only speaking as a journalist beforehand, and what do they know?

Rumours abound that Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson's campaign (to give him his full title) "lent" votes to Rory Stewart to ensure the early elimination of Dominic Raab, and then to Hunt, to ensure Gove was eliminated. There is therefore no one who voted for Brexit left in the campaign to claim Brexiteer legitimacy from Johnson. Hunt will seem to most Tory party members as a reheated version of Theresa May, and they have had their fill of that.

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