Monthly Archives: November 2016

Trump ready to bring Islamophobia into the White House

Alex Kane writes

President-elect Donald Trump’s choice of Steve Bannon as “chief strategist” has sparked a backlash, with critics accusing Trump of elevating an anti-Semite into the halls of power.

What’s received less attention is that Bannon, as executive chairman of Breitbart News, has also broadcast the views of some of America’s leading Islamophobes, including Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer and Frank Gaffney.

Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia–alongside a healthy dose of right-wing Zionism–go hand in hand among adherents of the Internet-savvy white nationalist movement that has supported Trump’s rise to power. The choice to bring Bannon into the Oval Office, potentially alongside other anti-Muslim ideologues that have clustered around Trump, portends a dark future for the Muslim American community.

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Saudi Arabian power waning fast, as the US looks like becoming an oil exporter once again

The U.S. Geological Survey just published an assessment of oil reserves for a section of the Permian Basin, revealing the largest estimate of continuous oil that the agency has ever assessed.

The Wolfcamp shale in the Midland Basin, which is part of the Permian Basin, is one of the most prized shale formations in the United States, and for good reason. The USGS estimates that the West Texas shale formation could hold an estimated mean of 20 billion barrels of oil, 16 trillion cubic feet of associated natural gas, and 1.6 billion barrels of natural gas liquids. Those figures are the largest for any single continuous pool of oil the USGS has ever surveyed.

wolfcamp2

If not forward thinking, Trump may make things worse on inequality

Joseph Stiglitz writes that Trump is unlikely to effect a carbon tax, empower trade unions and make tax rates more progressive, all of which are necessary to see a real impact to his increased investment plans for America.

Prof. Stiglitz concludes: “My very cloudy crystal ball shows a rewriting of the rules, but not to correct the grave mistakes of the Reagan revolution, a milestone on the sordid journey that left so many behind. Rather, the new rules will make the situation worse, excluding even more people from the American dream.”

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Slouching towards Trump

Robert Skidelsky writes that there will be benefits to Trump’s approach.

Prof. Skidelsky says: “Trump has… promised an $800 billion-$1 trillion program of infrastructure investment, to be financed by bonds, as well as a massive corporate-tax cut, both aimed at creating 25 million new jobs and boosting growth. This, together with a pledge to maintain welfare entitlements, amounts to a modern form of Keynesian fiscal policy (though of course not identified as such). Its merit is its head-on challenge to the neoliberal obsession with deficits and debt reduction, and to reliance on quantitative easing as the sole – and now exhausted – demand-management tool.”

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Britain seems now to have more invested in imperialism than the US

Just like NATO, fearful of losing US support for their desire to return to a Cold War-era, began beating the anti-war drums after the US election, Britain’s government is upset about Trump’s peaceful outlook on Russia in Syria.

In what seems like a significant foreign policy split, officials in Britain admitted that they will have some “very difficult” conversations with the President-elect in coming months over his approach to Russia.

This comes after Mr Trump used his first interviews since winning the US election to indicate that he will withdraw support for rebels in Syria and thank Vladimir Putin for sending him a “beautiful” letter.

Mr Trump said that he will instead join forces with Russia and focus on defeating DAESH/ISIL. He has previously said it would be “nice” if the US and Russia could work together to “knock the hell out of ISIL”.

His views are in stark contrast with those of Theresa May, who has accused President Assad’s regime of perpetrating “atrocious violence” and said that the long-term future of Syria must be “without Assad”.

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, has accused Russia of perpetrating war crimes over the deaths of hundreds of civilians.

The dramatic shift in US policy has prompted significant concern in the Foreign Office, and Britain will use the next three months before Mr Trump enters the White House to try to convince him of the importance of removing President Assad.

The Telegraph tells us that Mr Johnson is expected to fly to the US within weeks to meet with senior figures in Mr Trump’s administration and make clear that Britain believes that Mr Assad must go.

The diplomatic tensions emerged as a flotilla of Russian warships which passed through the English Channel has now arrived off the coast of Syria ahead of a major offensive against ISIL.

In other developments:

  • Sir Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, warned that European members of NATO have become “too dependent” on the support of the US after Mr Trump accused them of failing to pull their weight.
  • Mrs May will on Monday highlight the importance of globalisation to international security in an ever-changing World. She will also compare the US election to Brexit and say that that the West must recognise the concerns of people who have “seen their communities changed” by migration.
  • Nigel Farage, the Ukip leader, met with members of Donald Trump’s inner circle at Trump Tower in New York after saying Theresa May must “mend fences” with the President Elect.
  • Marie Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right Front National, praised President Putin for “defending the interests of his own country” as she criticised US and European aggression towards Russia.
  • Mr Johnson boycotted a “crisis” meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels to discuss how Europe will deal with the aftermath of the US election.
  • Mr Trump said on Twitter yesterday: “This will prove to be a great time in the lives of all Americans. We will unite and we will win, win, win!”

In his very first interview Mr Trump told the Wall Street Journal that his administration will prioritise defeating DAESH/ISIL in Syria rather than removing President Assad.

He told the Wall Street Journal: “I’ve had an opposite view of many people regarding Syria. My attitude was you’re fighting Syria, Syria is fighting ISIS, and you have to get rid of ISIS.

“Russia is now totally aligned with Syria, and now you have Iran, which is becoming powerful, because of us, is aligned with Syria. Now we’re backing rebels against Syria, and we have no idea who these people are.”

He added that if the US attacks President Assad’s regime “we end up fighting Russia”.

Arabs pull out of Syrian Democratic Forces: the deceit is now plain to see

Jason Ditz writes

There has been an attempt to brand the invasion of Raqqa as a broad-based coalition, as opposed to just a Kurdish invasion of the ISIS capital. This deceit appears to be crumbling as  Thuwar ar-Raqqa, the main Arab group involved in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) invasion, formally withdrawing from the group today.

The SDF is overwhelmingly just the Kurdish YPG with a handful of tiny affiliates, created mainly to allow them to argue invasions of ISIS territory don’t amount to an expansion of Syrian Kurdistan. The Thuwar ar-Raqqa would’ve been particularly useful to that effect, as a local force within Raqqa.

The group however, is arguing that the Kurdish forces had reneged on an agreement on the Raqqa invasion, in which the Kurdish YPG would let them “lead” the operation, and retain control of the city afterward. Instead, they say the US  and the YPG have moved to sideline them.

Now they say they aren’t going to participate in the invasion at all, and that the so-called “SDF” forces attacking Raqqa are exclusively the Kurdish YPG. This is likely to add to concern about Kurdish territory expansion, particularly by Turkey

Trump likely to alter US policy on Turkey

Anadolu reports: Turkey should be a top priority in U.S. foreign policy, a top adviser to President-elect Donald Trump said Wednesday in an article that slammed Barack Obama for failing to understand Ankara’s geopolitical position.

“We must begin with understanding that Turkey is vital to U.S. interests,” retired Gen. Michael Flynn wrote for the Hill newspaper. He also called Turkey “a source of stability in the region”.

Flynn was a key national security adviser to Trump during his presidential campaign and is expected by many to be appointed to a Cabinet position, possibly as defense secretary.

The veteran general wrote that it was “an unwise policy” for the Obama administration to keep Ankara at arm’s length,

“We need to adjust our foreign policy to recognize Turkey as a priority. We need to see the world from Turkey’s perspective,” he wrote.

Noting the extradition request by Turkey of Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) leader, Fetullah Gülen, as one of the key points of contention between Washington and Ankara, Flynn suggested the U.S. handover Gülen.

Ankara has asked Washington to extradite Gulen for his role in infiltrating state instutitons in Turkey and carrying out a failed bloody coup July 15.

“What would we have done if right after 9/11 we heard the news that Osama bin Laden lives in a nice villa at a Turkish resort while running 160 charter schools funded by the Turkish taxpayers?” Flynn asked.

The former chair of the Defense Intelligence Agency suggested that although Gülen presents himself as a moderate Islamic scholar, he is a radical who “has publicly boasted about his ‘soldiers’ waiting for his orders to do whatever he directs them to do.”

Flynn compared Gülen to Ayatollah Khomeini — the leader of the Iranian revolution-urging the U.S. government not to repeat its mistake by supporting Gülen as it did Khomeini.

“Washington’s silence on this explosive topic speaks volumes when we hear the incredulous claim that the democratically elected president of Turkey staged a military coup, bombed his own parliament and undermined the confidence in Turkey’s strong economy, just so that he could purge his political opponents,” he added.

Flynn also cited allegation of corruption against the Gülen network in the U.S., saying the terror leader has brought more people than Google into the country to teach English but they are not fluent in the language.

Meanwhile, the Vice President-elect Mike Pence told Turkish daily Hürriyet on Wednesday that Turkey is the most important U.S. ally in the region and added that the new U.S. administration will restore relations back to its glory and further strengthen ties.
FETÖ leader Fetullah Gülen has lived in self-imposed exile on a 400-acre property in the foothills of the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania since 1999. In the July 15 coup attempt that he masterminded, a military junta tried to stage a coup to topple the democratically elected president and government in Turkey and impose martial law. The attempt was prevented by troops loyal to the government, along with police units and millions of Turkish citizens in favor of democracy. In total, 246 people, mostly civilians, were killed by pro-coup soldiers while over 2,000 were injured.

Turkish authorities issued an official request for Gülen’s extradition on Sept. 13, under a 1979 treaty between Turkey and the U.S. Bozdağ held a meeting with his U.S. counterpart Attorney General Loretta Lynch in late October, regarding the provisional arrest of the U.S.-based fugitive