Tag Archives: Russia

Russia is the house that Vladimir Putin built – and he’ll never abandon it, by Dmitri Trenin

Source: The Guardian

hen Vladimir Putin was asked about his job, two years after becoming master of the Kremlin on New Year’s Eve, 1999, he said something about being a hired manager elected by the Russian people for a term of office. When he is asked about his job now, he calls it “fate”. Yesterday saw thousands joined the biggest since anti-government demonstrations in many years to protest against Putin and his prime minister/protégé Dmitry Medvedev.

Even so the Russian people, Putin is above all a symbol of stability after a decade and a half of turmoil that included the misguided and botched reform of the Soviet communist system; its abrupt end and the sudden advent of freedom that often looked like a free-for-all; the painful dissolution of the Soviet Union; market reforms, often dubbed “shock without therapy”; virtually instant crass inequality; the end of ideology and the collapse of morals.

Putin was appointed by Boris Yeltsin, Russia’s first president, to be his successor, but he earned his stripes by taming the oligarchs, bringing to an end the seemingly endless war in Chechnya, breaking the backbone of the once powerful Communist party and marginalising liberals. He recreated the traditional Russian system of hierarchical government. The state that had been privatised by the high and mighty could now strike back, reasserting its awesome power.

In much of what he was doing, Putin responded to the paternalistic demand of the bulk of the Russian people who had not particularly succeeded in the post-Communist era. Not only did he genuinely win elections, which under his rule became a means of confirming people in power not replacing them. He also cracked the code of staying in power in a country that had rejected both his predecessors, the once widely popular Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin. When faced with the choice, early on, to go with the elites – including the intelligentsia – or with the ordinary people, he chose the latter.

Putin understood that to rule Russia he had to stay genuinely popular with “the masses” and from time to time crack his whip at the elites: a “good tsar” reining in the greedy “boyars”. Popularity ratings are important: to rule effectively, one needs at least 60% support; to rule comfortably, 70%. Approaching 50%, however, which is totally fine in the west, is fraught with the dangers of civil strife in Russia. Thus by his own personality, his public actions and attitudes, Putin managed to confer legitimacy on the Russian state in the eyes of the vast majority of the population.

‘It is unlikely, however, that Putin will leave the stage even in 2024.’ Photograph: Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images

Putin has restored Russia’s status of a great power, lost with the Soviet Union. He first tried to fit Russia into an enlarged west, as a senior ally of the US in Nato and a close partner of the EU within a “greater Europe”. When his efforts failed, he steered Russia away from the western orbit, rebuilt the country’s military power and used it to protect Russian security interests in Ukraine – as he saw them – as well as to project force outside the former empire, to send the message to the world that Russia was back in play. Publicly and resolutely, he stood up to US global dominance.

Seen as disruptive in the west, Putin has struck a conservative tone at home. He allowed economic reforms in his first term, and later tolerated talk of modernisation, but his method of governance is essentially bureaucratic. Putin is both a capitalist and a statist. He understands the power of the market but is also wary of it, keeping the state always at the ready to step in and reassert control. He has reduced former oligarchs to obedient servants ever so keen to oblige him. He has seen his old friends rise to riches knowing that he can rely on their unquestioning loyalty – the one quality Putin appears to value particularly highly. The question about Putin’s own wealth misses the point – above a certain threshold, money turns into raw power, and in these terms the Russian president has few, if any peers.

An autocrat with the consent of the governed, Putin has preserved the essential personal freedoms that the Russian people first earned with the demise of the Communist system. People can worship and travel freely; Facebook and Twitter are essentially unrestricted; there are even a few tolerated media outlets overtly in opposition to the Kremlin. Political freedoms, however, are more tightly circumscribed, so as to leave no chance to potential “colour revolutionaries” or politically ambitious exiled oligarchs. For the bulk of the population, this matters little; the relatively few activists have a choice of taking it – or leaving.

Putin once described himself as Russia’s top nationalist. He has also proclaimed patriotism to be Russia’s national idea. On his list of values, the Russian state features at the very top. Since day one as president, he has been following Yeltsin’s parting request: “Take care of Russia.” The Soviet Union was one of Russia’s historical names, and so it’s little wonder that, to Putin, its downfall was a great catastrophe. His basic frame of reference is Russia’s rich history. Once Putin quipped that there was no one in the world worth talking to after the death of Mahatma Gandhi. Indeed, he talks with many, but he truly keeps company with Russia’s past rulers: tsars, emperors and party leaders. He is just the latest in a long line.

Having no peers in the land and very few abroad is a heavy psychological burden. One needs to look to a much higher authority. To Putin, however, religion is more than a personal matter. Christian Orthodoxy, in his view, is a spiritual and moral guide, the essence of Russia’s unique civilisation, and without it the country’s history and its classical literature and the arts cannot be fully understood. To Putin, the “Byzantine symphony”, an alliance of the state and the established religious organisations, first among them the Russian Orthodox church, is the core of national unity.

Next year, Russia is due to hold its presidential elections. Virtually everyone expects Putin to run, and no one has any doubt about his victory. The only question is how many people will come to the polling stations, and how many of them will vote for Putin. The Kremlin is now shooting for 70% in both cases. This fourth term in the Kremlin – fifth, if one counts Putin’s regency during Dmitry Medvedev’s stint – may be Putin’s last, not so much because he will turn 72 after the next six-year term expires, but rather because he was loth to change the constitution previously.

It is unlikely, however, that Putin will leave the stage even in 2024, after nearly a quarter of a century in power: his job is in fact a mission that will not be done as long as he is active. His challenge in the long term is to pass on leadership to a new generation of Russia’s leaders, and make sure that this works. Right now he is busy identifying people, most of them in their 40s and even 30s, who might form that group. Some have already been appointed to senior positions as ministers, governors, or other high officials. All will be tried and tested and given tasks to fulfil. Putin himself, a father figure to his proteges, would then become a pater patriae, or, to use a Singaporean formula, a president mentor.

It is much too early to pass final judgment on Putin. He has kept the country in one piece and restored its global status. He continues to be a formidable figure, and is always ready to surprise. He has made a deep impact on his country. It is Putin’s Russia – largely because he is Russia’s Putin.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.

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Letter from Tehran: Trump ‘the bazaari’, by Pepe Escobar

Source: Asia Times

The Iranian Parliament just hosted its annual conference on Palestine and, among the dignitaries – that included Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani – and the 700 foreign guests from more than 50 countries was Asia Times columnist Pepe Escobar.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei speaking at the international conference on Palestine in Tehran. Photo: Asia Times.

he art of the deal, when practiced for 2500 years, does lead to the palace of wisdom. I had hardly set foot in Tehran when a diplomat broke the news: “Trump? We’re not worried. He’s a bazaari”. It’s a Persian language term meaning he is from the merchants class or, more literally, a worker from the bazaar and its use implies that a political accommodation will eventually be reached.

The Iranian government’s response to the Trump administration boils down to a Sun Tzu variant; silence, especially after the Fall of Flynn, who had “put Iran on notice” after it carried out a ballistic missile test, and had pushed the idea of an anti-Iran military alliance comprising Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Jordan. Tehran says the missile test did not infringe the provisions of the Iran nuclear deal and that naval drills from the Strait of Hormuz to the Indian Ocean, which began on Sunday, had been planned well in advance.

I was in Tehran as one of several hundred foreign guests, including a small group of foreign journalists , guests of the Majlis (Parliament) for an annual conference on the Palestine issue.

Not surprisingly, no one from Trump’s circle was among the gathering of parliamentarians from over 50 nations who attended the impressive opening ceremony in a crowded, round conference hall where the center of power in Iran was on display; Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani and Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani.

Khamenei proclaimed that “the existing crises in every part of the region and the Islamic ummah deserve attention”, but insisted that the key issue remains Palestine. The conference, he said, could become “a model for all Muslims and regional nations to gradually harness their differences by relying on their common points”.

Khamenei’s was an important call for Muslim unity. Few in the West know that during the rapid decolonization of the 1940s and 50s, the Muslim world was not torn apart by the vicious Sunni-Shi’ite hatred – later fomented by the Wahhabi/Salafi-jihadi axis. The Wahhabi House of Saud, incidentally, was nowhere to be seen at the conference.

Hefty discussions with Iranian analysts and diplomats revolved on the efficacy of multilateral discussions compared to advancing facts on the ground – ranging from the building of new settlements in the West Bank to the now all but dead and buried Oslo two-state myth.

On Palestine, I asked Naim Qassem, deputy secretary-general of Hezbollah about the Trump administration’s hint of a one-state solution. His answer, in French; “One state means war. Two states means peace under their conditions, which will lead us to war.”

As with most conferences, what matters are the sidelines. Leonid Savin, a Russian geopolitical analyst, claimed that Russian airspace is now all but sealed with multiple deployments of the S-500 missile defense system against anything the US might unleash. Albanian historian Olsi Jazexhi deconstructed the new Balkans powder keg. Muhammad Gul, son of the late, larger-than-life General Hamid Gul, detailed the finer points of Pakistan’s foreign policy and the drive to build the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Pyongyang was also in the house. The North Korean delegate produced an astonishing speech, essentially arguing that Palestine should follow their example, complete with a “credible nuclear deterrent”. Later, in the corridors I saluted the delegation, and they saluted back. No chance of a sideline chat though to go over the unclear points surrounding Kim Jong-nam’s assassination.

Blake Archer Williams, a.k.a. Arash Darya-Bandari, whose pseudonym celebrates the “tyger tyger burning bright” English master, gave me a copy of Creedal Foundations of Waliyic Islam (Lion of Najaf Publishers) – an analysis of how Shi’ite theology led to the theory of velayat-e faqih (the ruling of the jurisprudent) that lies at the heart of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Every time I’m back in Tehran I’m impressed with the surprising number of open avenues for serious intellectual discussion. I was constantly reminded of Jalal Al-e Ahmad, the son of a mullah born in poor south Tehran who later translated Sartre and Camus and wrote the seminal Westoxification (1962).

He spent the summer of 1965 at Harvard seminars organized by Henry Kissinger and “supported” by the CIA. He pivoted to Shi’ism only toward the end of his life. It was his analysis that paved the way for sociologist Ali Shariati to cross-pollinate anti-colonialism with the Shi’ite concept of resistance against injustice and produce a revolutionary ideology capable of politicizing the Iranian middle classes, leading to the Islamic Revolution.

That was the background for serious discussions on how Iran (resistance against injustice), China (remixed Confucianism) and Russia (Eurasianism) are offering post-Enlightenment alternatives that transcend Western liberal democracy.

But in the end it was all inevitably down to the overarching anti-intellectual ghost in the room; Donald Trump (and that was even before he got a letter from Ahmadinejad).

So I did what I usually do before leaving Tehran; I hit the bazaar, via a fabulous attached mosque – to get reacquainted with the art of the deal, the Persian way.

That led me to Mahmoud Asgari, lodged in the Sameyi passage of the Tajrish bazaar and a serious discussion on the finer points of pre-WWI Sistan-Baluchistan tribal rugs from Zahedan. The end result was – what else – a win-win sale, bypassing the US dollar. And then, the clincher: “When you call your friend Trump, tell him to come here and I’ll give him the best deal”.

Pepe Escobar wrote his The Roving Eye column for Asia Times from 2000-2015. His books include Globalistan (2007), Red Zone Blues (2007), Obama does Globalistan (2009), Empire of Chaos (2014) and 2030 (2015).

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.

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Secular Wahhabis: Descent into chaos

Actress Lindsay Lohan with Sultan Erdogan and “moderate rebel” PR sensation Bana the kid.

I have been at pains to reconcile my ambivalent feelings on the happenings in our world, alas,I have come to the conclusion that they are a manifestation of what plagues us as human beings rather than a personal identity crisis to resolve. After all, we are talking of a post identity politics reality regardless of the fact that the masses in their pussy hats continue to be dictated about reality via the telly.

As a brown Pakistani Muslim born and raised in Saudi Arabia, it is absolutely surreal to see the world through the eyes of the “me” that once was. It is astonishing. I am the troubled one? I am the pitied one? Am i finally being recognised as the persecuted one? Has the consciousness of the west finally awoken? Really? Am I to rejoice now?

Surveying the flurry of emotions on display, I feel as if I my kin have been heard. Will they finally have a trial for the drone pilot that wiped out a whole wedding celebration in Pakistan? Or will the children maimed receive new prosthetics instead of the used ones from coalition countries? Yes, it is that cynical.

Will someone finally be accountable for the war crimes carried out by the US under Obama? Under Clinton? or Bush?

“No, no, silly boy, heavens be damned, no” a voice tells me in sarcastic laughter. “Have you really gone mad now? Have they finally convinced you that you matter?” it goes on in abject disregard for the “me” that once was.

One of many events across the country galvanising Muslims.

Here “I” stand, though, having moved, shifted, transformed or rather travelled far afield from the “me” that once was. I do not pray anymore, I do not observe the religious holidays, I do not observe the rituals and I most certainly do not identify as a Muslim. So, am I to be afraid or not ? Once we stop identifying with ideologies the distance allows us to escape a lot of the emotional lures of the narrative being played. I see the truth of my reality; A pawn like the rest of you with your faiths,beliefs,identities and dream-like realities. Identity politics is a mindset that has locked in the participants into a perpetual loop of despair.

Trump or no Trump, US fascism has been alive and well since 1945, accelerated since 1989 and has never been stronger. Fascism permeates our daily lives, it is at our places of learning, our places of exercise, our places of residence, our entertainment spots and in our societal exchange. It is an invisible guest in our daily discourse. It is the alienation of ourselves from our kin, our fellow man and our environment. Everything must be calculated, it must be costed, must be accounted for and prescribed. It must be measured, it must be dictated and legislated.

Poster reads: Donald Trump is a Dog.

Somehow the infinite possibility of how existence can manifest itself is not valid. It must be held accountable! We shall do things a certain way, in a certain fashion, with certain rules and consequences. I am talking of the rules in our lives that come from an unknown and manifest through the drones of people who will accept without question what is enforced from the halls of power.

Yet, Trump is the new fascist? Really? It just started 10 days ago apparently! Hallelujah!

These protests have nothing to do with freedom, liberty, recognition of Muslims or of values. When your spokespersons are George Soros and Madeline Albright, you have to look at what you are so upset about. You are being played like a violin.

My Pakistani friends are galvanised, the news papers are dishing out headline after headline. Is Pakistan next on the list is the question on everyone’s mind? The Empire and its mouthpieces are plenty and their blind adherents many. It was “Ok” for the smooth talking black Jesus to bomb 7 Muslim nations, have a global assassination program and arm terrorists. But it is an uproar with pussy hats to have an immigration vetting process from unstable – save Iran, probably on the list to appease some establishment elements – countries.

Do not get me wrong, I am not in anyway condoning anything. I am in no way endorsing Trump. But I am calling a spade a spade. This has nothing to do with values, freedom or respect. This fiasco of immigration has everything to do with the globalist establishment using every card up its sleeve to continue the Military Industrial Complex and its aim of global domination by hook or crook. The Saker has given a good recap on the stakes here, the Deep State is out for blood and it is not backing down. The Attorney General has now come out and challenged the President as well. Edit: Has been fired already. The headlines go too fast these days.

Decades of tyranny was apparently “A-Ok Double Thumbs Up” by the liberal left, as long as it was sugar coated with the right politically corrected vocabulary. And now we are to fear someone who has never held public office, has not been knee deep in the blood of innocents like the entire establishment.

A friend told me of “historic” protests at airports and how he probably should have gone. I replied by saying that they were only “historic” in how they are working towards a colour revolution at home after countless ones abroad and that it is better for him to not get involved. “Colour Revolution? What do you mean?” was the response. A discussion ensued and I did what we all do time to time for the ones we hold dear; Give them an ultra condensed recap of geopolitics, Soros, Deep State and so forth. “You must be listening to Alex Jones and his conspiracies” came back the reply.

Another Muslim friend told me how he cannot trust a president beholden to Putin – the dictator- under threat of sex tapes being released. Yes, he believes that.

There is a chasm of knowledge omitted from the discourse that the vast majority of Americans are being actively engaged in. Without knowing how politics, manipulation, propaganda and Deep State works, they are hopelessly lost. They are ripe for the picking. This is a grass roots movement for them and they are all the more willing to cheer on the “revolution” from their smartphones.

Muslims are an easy recruiting ground for the liberal fake left, they have been traumatised for decades, have been the victims of US aggression, have faced back clashes in their own communities from right wing elements edged on by politicians and now finally they are being told that they are going to be singled out for more persecution. This time they have CNN, Hollywood, Silicon Valley and all the vampires in between giving them a platform. This is not coincidence, this is not by chance but instead by design. They will be used like cannon fodder and discarded once Black Jesus is restored to the throne or civil war ensues.

This is a Secular Wahhabi revolt, a new breed very aptly described by Andrew Korybko.

Imperialists are masters of creating ethical. moral juxtapositions that perplex, that rip apart emotional cords in the masses, drive them to hysteria and in the thick of it they take reins of their emotions and play them to their hearts content.

It is a sad sight to behold.

Can human intellect rise above the machinations of the 0.0001 % ?

Mohsin Siddiqui
Freethinker

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/OlsenZiddigy
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AugmentedEther

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.

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CPEC AND THE 21ST CENTURY CONVERGENCE OF CIVILIZATIONS, by Andrew Korybko

Source: Katehon

The current century presents a plethora of strategic opportunities for Pakistan, provided that Islamabad knows how to pluck the low-hanging fruit and take the initiative. The steady development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is making the country ever more attractive for a wide variety of international partners, some of which have traditionally been aligned with Pakistan, and others which are entirely new and unprecedented. No matter which of the two categories these states fall under, it’s evident that they’re all interested in taking advantage of this game-changing series of infrastructure projects.

Never before has China had a reliable overland trade corridor to the Indian Ocean, and this in turn opens up a wide range of options for the People’s Republic and its economic partners. Moreover, the eventual completion of CPEC will allow Russia and the landlocked states of Central Asia to more easily conduct commerce with the broader Indian Ocean Region, thereby leading to the creation of previously uncharted trade routes which will invigorate each set of partners and profit the irreplaceable transit state of Pakistan. In terms of the bigger picture, each crisscrossing network of economic connections in one way or another is expected to pass through Pakistan by means of CPEC, thereby empowering Islamabad to leverage its crucial geostrategic position in pursuit of its national interests.

The convergence of so many diverse civilizational actors – including Europeans, Russians, Turks, Arabs, Iranians, Chinese, and Africans – in one state is made possible by Beijing’s One Belt One Road vision of global connectivity as manifested through CPEC, and it accordingly allows for Pakistan to mediate over a dialogue of civilizations in the 21st century. This is a pivotal role of the utmost importance and highest responsibility, and it has the very real potential of transforming Pakistan from a regional leader to a hemispheric Great Power within the next decade. This analysis will thus explore the way in which this grand strategy can be actualized, sequentially describing the overall concept, the various civilizational-connectivity channels, and the challenges that Pakistan can expect to face.

Concept

Abstract:

The economic attractiveness of CPEC serves as an irresistible magnet for all sorts of various actors to utilize its infrastructural connectivity in facilitating their trade objectives, whether it’s enhancing bilateral trade with China such as the EU, Mideast, and African states may naturally be interested in, or in acquiring a convenient outlet to the Indian Ocean such as what Russia and the Central Asian republics desire. The convergence of so many civilizational forces in Pakistan will propel the South Asian state to worldwide importance by gifting its leaders with the impressive potential to serve as the common middle ground between each of them, both literally in terms of CPEC connectivity and figuratively as it relates to the broader dialogue of civilizations concept.

The latter objective is wholly dependent on the former, meaning that Pakistan is unlikely to bring together a wide array of hemispheric interests and actors if the CPEC project isn’t completed or is severely undermined after the fact. Conversely, the completion of CPEC will enable Pakistan to do just that, which thus propels the country’s significance to global heights. The second and largest part of this research will describe the different connectivity channels that CPEC opens up between Pakistan and the rest of Afro-Eurasia, but at this point a lot more needs to be said about the grand strategy behind this exciting endeavor.

Once CPEC becomes fully operational, Pakistan will unofficially become China’s most important gateway to the rest of the world. Although the People’s Republic currently engages in a staggering amount of trade with each of its countless partners, the vast majority of this is conducted via maritime routes which traverse the bottlenecked chokepoint of the Strait of Malacca and the contentious waters of the South China Sea, both of which are uncomfortably vulnerable to an American blockade or similar sort of interference in the event of a conflict between the two Great Powers. It’s mostly for this reason and due to the foresight of Chinese strategists that Beijing decided to pioneer an overland trade route to the Indian Ocean through CPEC, relying on its decades-long and all-weather friendship with Pakistan in order to make this a reality.

Continue reading CPEC AND THE 21ST CENTURY CONVERGENCE OF CIVILIZATIONS, by Andrew Korybko

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Shadow play: the New Great Game in Eurasia, by Pepe Escobar

Source: Asia Times

Wayang kulit puppets in Java, Indonesia. Photo: Collection Jean François Hubert

On his return to the Asia Times fold, veteran columnist and author Pepe Escobar writes that the West’s Divide and Rule approach to global rivals may no longer cut the ice in an age of New Silk Roads

So, right in the heart of Bali, spellbound after a serious conversation with a dukun — a spiritual master — it struck me: this should be the new Yalta, the perfect setting for a Trump-Xi-Putin summit setting the parameters ahead for the ever-evolving New Great Game in Eurasia.

Balinese culture makes no distinction between the secular and the supernatural — sekala and niskala. Sekala is what our senses may discern. Niskala is what cannot be sensed directly and can only be “suggested”. Massive geopolitical shifts ahead could not be more shrouded in niskala.

Captive to the vertiginous velocity of the here and now, the West still has much to learn from a highly evolved culture that prospered 5,000 years ago along the banks or the river Sindhu — now Indus — in what is currently Pakistan, and then migrated from the Majapahit empire in Java to Bali in the 14th century under the pressure of advancing Islam.

In the Hindu-Balinese conception of cosmic structure, Man is a kind of scale model of the universe. Order is personified by Gods, disorder personified by earth demons. It’s all about dharma and adharma. As for the West, adharma rules, unchecked.

In Hindu-Balinese religious philosophy, for every positive force there is a counterbalance, a destructive force. The two are inseparable — coexisting in dynamic equilibrium. Western dualism is so unsophisticated compared to it.

In the Suthasoma — a great Mahayana Buddhist epic poem composed in central Java at the time when Buddhism was merrily mixing up with Shivaist Hinduism — we find an outstanding verse: Bhineka tunggal ika (“it is different but it is one”).

That also happens to be the motto of Indonesia, emblazoned in its coat of arms, below the golden Garuda mythical bird. It’s a message of unity, like the American e pluribus unum. Now it looks more like a message presaging Eurasian integration via the New Silk Roads; it’s not by accident that Xi Jinping officially launched the Maritime Silk Road in 2013 in Indonesia.

A passerby casts a shadow over a map illustrating China’s “One Belt, One Road” megaproject at the Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong, China, on January 18, 2016. Photo: Reuters/Bobby Yip

With the Trump era about to begin, our current geopolitical juncture looks and feels like a massive Wayang kulit — a Balinese shadow play.

The historical origin of the shadow play lies most possibly in India, although it has been performed all across Asia. Good and evil coexist in shadow play — but Hinduism seeks to depict the clash as a sort of quirky partnership.

Continue reading Shadow play: the New Great Game in Eurasia, by Pepe Escobar

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The Man Who Must Be Tsar, By STRATEDIPLO

When he signed “the boy who would be tsar”, the old artist Andreï Andreïevich Romanov (also known as Andrew Andreyevich Romanoff) was, surprisingly, third in the lately chaotic succession line of Russia, although earlier in life he would never have guessed that his cousins Nicholas and Dimitri, of the same generation, would both stay childless. The twenty years-long head of the Romanov house Nicholas died in september 2014, followed by his brother Dimitri on december 31, 2016. Actually Dimitri headed the imperial house just long enough to receive the state invitation to come back to Russia, and he died on the exact eve of this milestone year 2017.

The official invitation launched in june 2015, for the millennial of the death of Saint Vladimir the baptist of Russia, was also extended to Maria Vladimirovna, the self-calling “grand-duchess” (a title exclusively reserved to children and grandchildren of a reigning emperor) who claims the Tsarhood of Kiril, the 1924 self-proclaimed “tsar” never recognised by the Zemski Sobor nor the imperial house (and never reigning). Understandably, the current government cannot interfer in dynastic disputes, but it has to bring and give to Russia what the orphan country needs. Since, according to the antiquated and imperfect “Pauline” succession rules (that only an emperor in function can amend) nobody is formally eligible, the first (next) person to represent the imperial inheritage within the state can only be installed per exception. Providence will then settle the case and seal the transition. But it is impossible to embody a ghost, or a would-be in absentia (abroad). Russia needs a Romanov in Russia.

Among the most obvious advantages of any hereditary system of succession is that, since nobody choses the one (who ideally cannot refuse his duty), he is totally independent from pressure powers. But fate does sometimes do really well. An anointment of the old childless Nicholas or Dimitri would not have prevented a succession contest to appear, from the Kiril branch, at the death of Dimitri. An anointment of Andreï Andreïevich means an automatic succession by his son Alexis Andreïevich, born in 1953, bringing therefore a stability expectancy of (according to the three precedents) about thirty years, largely enough to secure and normalise the position before the question of his own succession. Providence did provide. Now men (Andreï and Alexis) must comply with their call to duty. They will be fed there.

In June 2015, while the Leningrad Region proposed to officially host the invited returnees in an imperial residency in Saint Petersburg, Vladimir Petrov proposed also the Livadia palace in Crimea, therefore obviously speaking in behalf of the presidency of the Federation. The protocolar position would be to represent and in body the dynasty and the nation, and was then compared to the position of the king or queen in nowadays United Kingdom and Netherlands. Of course the government could only pass the authority it has, meaning constitutional. From a constitutional law point of view, and alike an emperor, an institutionally recognised embodiment of the imperial history (which is the position currently proposed by the Russian government) cannot be promoted above by any body of lower hierarchy, therefore to go further Russia will need to resort to the only bodies that have more historical and social legitimacy than the current constitutional state, that is the Church and the civil society. This could come later, the Russian peoples realising again that a big country cannot rely on the good will of temporary elected fill-in volunteers but needs a stable institution providing a long-term direction regardless of the merits, competencies and longevity of individuals.

As for now, the Russian government is ready to give, within the state, a permanent institutional status to the imperial family before the commemorations of the revolution and the assassinations. Russia urgently needs to attribute the honorary presidency of the 2017 re-conciliatory celebrations. Further events belong to future History.

May Dimitri rest in peace. May Andreï and Alexis move on now.

www.stratediplo.blogspot.com

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.

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PRESIDENT DUTERTE OF THE PHILIPPINES FOR DUMMIES, by Andre Vltchek

From Manila and Davao.

Local Press

When Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ascended to power in 1999, almost no one in the West, in Asia and even in most of the Latin American countries knew much about his new militant revolutionary anti-imperialism. From the mass media outlets like CNN and the BBC, to local televisions and newspapers (influenced or directly sponsored by Western sources), the ‘information’ that was flowing was clearly biased, extremely critical, and even derogatory.

A few months into his rule, I came to Caracas and was told repeatedly by several local journalists: “Almost all of us are supporting President Chavez, but we’d be fired if we’d dare to write one single article in his support.”

In New York City and Paris, in Buenos Aires and Hong Kong, the then consensus was almost unanimous: “Chavez was a vulgar populist, a demagogue, a military strongman, and potentially a ‘dangerous dictator’”.

In South Korea and the UK, in Qatar and Turkey, people who could hardly place Venezuela on the world map, were expressing their ‘strong opinions’, mocking and smearing the man who would later be revered as a Latin American hero. Even many of those who would usually ‘distrust’ mainstream media were then clearly convinced about the sinister nature of the Process and the ‘Bolivarian Revolution’.

History repeats itself.

Now President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines is demonized and ‘mistrusted’, ridiculed and dismissed as a demagogue, condemned as a rough element, mocked as a buffoon.

In his own country he is enjoying the highest popularity rating of any president in its history: at least well over 70 percent, but often even over 80 percent.

“Show me one woman or man who hates Duterte in this city”, smiles a city hall employee of Davao (located on the restive Mindanao Island) where Duterte served as a Mayor for 22 years. “I will buy that person an exquisite dinner, from my own pocket … that is how confident I am”.

“People of the Philippines are totally free now to express their opinions, to criticize the government”, explains Eduardo Tadem, a leading academic, Professorial Lecturer of Asian Studies (UP). “He says: ‘they want to protest? Good!’ People can rally or riot without any permit from the authorities.”

Like in the days of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, in the Philippines, the press, which is mainly owned by right-wing business interests and by pro-Western collaborators, is now reaching a crescendo, barking and insulting the President, inventing stories and spreading unconfirmed rumors, something unimaginable even in a place like the U.K. with its draconian ‘defamation’ laws.

So it is not fear that is securing the great support of the people for Duterte in his own country. It is definitely not fear!

I visited some of the toughest slums of the nation; I worked in the middle of deadly cemeteries, just recently battered by crime and drugs, where people had been literally rotting alive, crying for help and mercy in absolute desperation. I also spoke to the top academics and historians of the country, to former colleagues of Duterte and to overseas workers in the U.A.E. and elsewhere.

The louder was the hate speech from abroad and from local mass media outlets, the stronger Duterte’s nation stood by its leader.

Men and women who were just one year ago living in total desperation and anger were now looking forward with hope, straight towards the future. Suddenly, everything seemed to be possible!

In my first report this month I wrote: “There is a sense of change in those narrow and desperate alleys of the Baseco slum in the Philippines’ capital Manila. For the first time in many years a beautiful, noble lady visited; against all odds she decided to stay. Her name is Hope.”

I stand by my words, now more than ever.

Continue reading PRESIDENT DUTERTE OF THE PHILIPPINES FOR DUMMIES, by Andre Vltchek

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Conversation: “Human Rights Watch” vs. Professor Stephen Cohen

Watch the head of Human Rights Watch speak for Al Qaeda with a straight face. Of course, Democracy Now is itself Al Qaeda propaganda light.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.

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Conversation: Eva Bartlett Reports On The Ground Realities In Syria

Permanent Mission of the Syrian Arab Republic to the United Nations – Press Conference, 9 December 2016

Eva Bartlett has been to Syria 6 times since 2014, two of these trips with international delegations, the remaining four were self funded trips, she speaks fluent Arabic and has been to Aleppo four times apart from the rest of Syria as well.

This is a must hear account of actual ground reality. If you care for the truth on Syria, then have a listen.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.

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