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Showing posts from October, 2019

Popular Protest: How effective is it?

By James M. Dorsey
A podcast version of this story is available on Soundcloud,Itunes, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spreaker, Pocket Casts, Tumblr, Podbean, Audecibel, Patreon and Castbox.
If there is one theme, beyond corruption and a host of economic and social grievances, that have driven protests -- large and small, local, sectoral and national – across the globe, it has been a call for dignity.
Reflecting a global breakdown in confidence in political systems and leadership, the quest for dignity and social justice links protests in Middle Eastern and North African countries like Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Algeria and Sudan to demonstrations in nations on multiple continents ranging from Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Haiti to France, Zimbabwe, Indonesia, Pakistan and Hong Kong.
The global protests amount to the latest phase of an era of defiance and dissent that erupted in 201l and unfolded most dramatically in the Middle East and North Africa with the toppling of the autoc…

Joining the global protest fray: Islamists march on the Pakistani capital

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By James M. Dorsey
A podcast version of this story is available on Soundcloud, Itunes, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spreaker, Pocket Casts, Tumblr, Podbean, Audecibel, Patreon and Castbox.
Pakistan, long viewed as an incubator of religious militancy, is gearing up for a battle over the future of the country’s notorious madrassas, religious seminaries accused of breeding radicalism. Islamist-led protests also threaten to be a fight for the future of the government of prime minister Imran Khan.
The stakes for both the government and multiple Islamist and opposition parties and groups are high.
Pakistan earlier this month evaded blacklisting by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international anti-money laundering and terrorism finance watchdog, but only by the skin of its teeth.
Maintaining Pakistan on it grey list since June of last year, FATF warned the South Asian nation that it would be blacklisted if it failed to fully implement an agreed plan to halt the flow of funds to militant …

NBN Book Review: Dark Shadows - Inside the Secret World of Kazakhstan

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Joanna Lillis
Dark Shadows
Inside the Secret World of Kazakhstan
I. B. Tauris 2018
October 23, 2019 James M. Dorsey




Joanna LillisDark Shadows, Inside the Secret World of Kazakhstan (I. B. Tauris, 2018) takes the reader on a penetrating, colourfully written journey into the recesses of a little known Central Asian nations on the frontier of tectonic shifts across Eurasia. Kazakhstan, a sparsely populated oil-rich former Soviet republic that shares borders with Russia and China that stretch thousands of kilometres, in which demographics amount to geopolitics, walks a tight rope in a world increasingly dominated by leaders who to varying degrees define their states in civilizational rather than national terms. Russia’s annexation of Crimea and stirring of unrest in two regions of Ukraine coupled with veiled threats uttered by Russian President Vladimir Putin raise the spectre of Kazakhstan’s worst nightmares. China’s brutal crackdown on Turkic Muslims, including ethnic Kazakhs, in its …

Turkey and China tie themselves in knots over Syria and Xinjiang

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By James M. Dorsey
A podcast version of this story is available on Soundcloud, Itunes, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spreaker, Pocket Casts, Tumblr, Podbean, Audecibel and Castbox.
Turkey’s ambassador to China, Emin Onen, didn’t mince his words this week when he took his Chinese hosts to task for failing to support Turkey’s military campaign against a Kurdish militia in Syria.
Speaking in Turkish through a translator at a news conference at his Beijing embassy, Mr. Onen implicitly put China on the spot by calling on it to stand with Turkey in its fight against political violence.
In doing so, Mr. Onen was laying bare long-standing strains in Turkish-Chinese relations as well as contradictions that link Turkey’s long-standing refusal to fully recognize Kurdish rights to China’s brutal crackdown in its troubled, north-western province of Xinjiang.
Chinese officials have long sought to prevent Turkey from speaking out on the crackdown by privately arguing in discussions with their Turkish counte…

Shaping a new world order: The Gulf and the greater Middle East stake their claim

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Abstract
The 21st century’s Great Game is about the creation of a new Eurasia-centred world. It locks China, the United States, Russia, India, Japan and Europe into what is an epic battle. Yet, they are not the only players. Middle Eastern rivals, Saudi Arabia and Iran, are key players too. As they vie for big power favour, they compete to secure the ability to shape the future architecture of Eurasia’s energy landscape, enhance leverage by increasing energy and oil product market share, and position themselves as the key nodes in infrastructure networks.
With China, Russia, the United States, India and Japan as the heavy weights, the Great Game is unlikely to produce an undisputed winner. Nor do key players perceive it as a zero-sum-game. The stakes in the game are about divvying up the pie and ensuring that China despite its vast resources, economic leverage, and first starter advantage in infrastructure linkages, does not emerge as the sole dominant power in Eurasia’s future archit…

Turkey and the Kurds: What goes around comes around

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By James M. Dorsey
A podcast version of this story is available on Soundcloud, Itunes, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spreaker, Pocket Casts, Tumblr, Podbean and Castbox.
Turkey, like much of the Middle East, is discovering that what goes around comes around.
Not only because President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appears to have miscalculated the fallout of what may prove to be a foolhardy intervention in Syria and neglected alternative options that could have strengthened Turkey’s position without sparking the ire of much of the international community.
But also because what could prove to be a strategic error is rooted in a policy of decades of denial of Kurdish identity and suppression of Kurdish cultural and political rights that was more likely than not to fuel conflict rather than encourage societal cohesion.
The policy midwifed the birth in the 1970s to militant groups like the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), which only dropped its demand for Kurdish independence in recent years.
The group that h…

Landing in Riyadh: Geopolitics work in Putin’s favour

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By James M. Dorsey
A podcast version of this story is available on Soundcloud, Itunes, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spreaker, Pocket Casts, Tumblr, Patreon, Podbean and Castbox.
When Russian President Vladimir Putin lands in Riyadh this week for the second time in 12 years, his call for endorsement of his proposal to replace the US defense umbrella in the Gulf with a multilateral security architecture is likely to rank high on his agenda.
So is Mr. Putin’s push for Saudi Arabia to finalize the acquisition of Russia’s S-400 anti-missile defense system in the wake of the failure of US weaponry to intercept drones and missiles that last month struck key Saudi oil installations.
“We are ready to help Saudi Arabia protect their people. They need to make clever decisions…by deciding to buy the most advanced S-400 air-defence systems. These kinds of systems are capable of defending any kind of infrastructure in Saudi Arabia from any kind of attack,” Mr. Putin said immediately after the attacks.
Mr …