Bolivia–Would Make A Good “B” Movie

South and Central America has been breeding ground for US interference in state affairs…..we did it in Guatemala, Chile, Bolivia among others…..

We seem to always use the Monroe Doctrine as an excuse for any interference in the region…..

For those whose knowledge of the Doctrine is a bit limited…..I shall assist….

On December 2, 1823, President James Monroe used his annual message to Congress for a bold assertion: ‘The American continents … are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers.’ Along with such other statements as George Washington’s Farewell Address and John Hay’s Open Door notes regarding China, this ‘Monroe Doctrine’ became a cornerstone of American foreign policy. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams had played the most important role in developing the wording of the declaration, and he also influenced the doctrine’s overall shape.

…..the situation in Central and South America. Revolutions against Spanish rule had been under way for some time, but it seemed possible that Spain and France might seek to reassert European rule in those regions. The British, meanwhile, were interested in ensuring the demise of Spanish colonialism, with all the trade restrictions that Spanish rule involved. British foreign secretary George Canning formally proposed, therefore, that London and Washington unite on a joint warning against intervention in Latin America. When the Monroe cabinet debated the idea, Adams opposed it, arguing that British interests dictated such a policy in any event, and that Canning’s proposal also called upon the two powers to renounce any intention of annexing such areas as Cuba and Texas. Why should the United States, he asked, appear as a cockboat trailing in the wake of a British man-of-war?

It was used to justify the coup in Guatemala, then the Cuban missile crisis, then the coup in Chile and next on the hit list was Bolivia in 1980…….

Social unrest, political fragmentation, drug trafficking, and violence all characterized the late 70’s in Bolivia. All of the major parties failed to gain a majority vote, coups were attempted with an alarming frequency, and human rights violations were severe and widespread. In the early 80’s, Bolivia transitioned to democracy, but that transition was far from smooth. In a 1997 interview with Charles Stuart Kennedy, Alexander Watson (Deputy Chief of Mission in La Paz, Bolivia 1979-1981) discusses the turbulent course of events, beginning with a coup on June 20, 1980, how he gave the keys to his house to certain political leaders, the change in policy after Ronald Reagan’s election and the eventual collapse of the coup plotters.

Source: “It was something out of a B movie” – The 1980 Coup in Bolivia – Association for Diplomatic Studies and TrainingAssociation for Diplomatic Studies and Training

And typically our intervention brought about years even decades of military rule and population suppression.  These coups did little to improve the lives of the people we say we are there to help.

Your history lesson in diplomatic adventures of the US is done…..(for today)

Class dismissed!

The “Fearsome” Return

The 20th century gave rise to a wealth of democratic movements….but in the last couple decades it appears that it is waning…..at first just a bit…but it seems to be getting stronger every year…..

In his brief time in the White House, US President Donald J. Trump has made a point of bestowing praise on the world’s leading autocrats. He repeatedly called Vladimir Putin a “strong leader,” described Xi Jinping as “a very good man,” said Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was doing a “fantastic job,” and lauded Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for his triumph in a referendum that greatly expanded his presidential powers.

Trump’s new friends represent a rogues’ gallery of modern authoritarians.  These 21st-century strongmen are responsible for introducing an arsenal of new tactics to use against their domestic opponents, and have gone on the offensive in an effort to subvert and replace the liberal international order.

Source: Surging Autocrats, Wavering Democrats

As democratic movements wane the authoritarian movements gain strength…..and with that new found power the tactics must be fought to preserve democracy wherever it exists…..

After the spread of democracy at the end of the 20th century, authoritarianism is now rolling back democracy around the globe. In the US, supporters of democracy disarmed themselves by imagining an “end of history” in which nothing but their own ideas were possible. Authoritarians, meanwhile, keep practicing their old tactics and devising new ones.

It is time for those who support democracy to remember what activists from around the world have paid a price to learn: how to win.

Source: Authoritarianism is making a comeback. Here’s the time-tested way to defeat it | Maria J Stephan and Timothy Snyder | Opinion | The Guardian

We must attack authoritarianism where it exists……democracy must prevail.

UK’s Secret Wars

As one person who studies and analyzes conflicts I like to look back on history and the different covert wars that made little news in their day.

I have been checking out the covert wars that have been fought by the US and its allies to include the UK…..and since I have readers and commenters from the UK  I thought I would post this piece and hopefully get more info from those who may know more…..

During my research on covert wars I cam across this article in the BBC website…..”Britain’s Secret Wars”…it is a long article and packed full of info and hopefully some info that is not there can be told by my readers.

Let me stress…this is a lengthy article but well worth the read for anyone interested in covert ops……

For more than 100 years, Britain has been perpetually at war. Some conflicts, such as the Falklands, have become central to our national narrative, but others, including the brutal suppression of rebels in Oman, have been deliberately hidden.

n the months after the surrender of Japan on 14 August 1945, the British people were ready to believe that war was behind them. The newspapers were full of stories about possible home rule for India, and dockers going on strike in London, Liverpool and Hull. It is questionable how many readers of the Manchester Guardian on 6 December 1945 saw, let alone read, a short item that was tucked away at the foot of page six, nestled between a reader’s letter about the Nuremberg war crimes trials and a leading article about the foundation of the United Nations.

Source: Britain’s secret wars | Ian Cobain | UK news | The Guardian

History is fascinating and covert ops even more so……so much has happened under the radar…it is interesting.

My Advice For The Saudis–“Bite Me”!

I have been writing a lot on the Saudi-Qatari mash up recently.

Does the Arab League still exist?

Where is the mediation by the League?

Questions for another post no doubt.

The Saudis have released their demands for this situation to be over…..

Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries that have cut ties to Qatar issued a steep list of demands Thursday to end the crisis, insisting that their Persian Gulf neighbor shutter broadcaster al-Jazeera, cut back diplomatic ties to Iran, and sever all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. In a 13-point list—presented to the Qataris by Kuwait, which is helping mediate the crisis—the countries also demand an end to Turkey’s military presence in Qatar. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain broke ties with Qatar this month over allegations the Persian Gulf country funds terrorism. Those countries have now given Qatar 10 days to comply with all of the demands, which include paying an unspecified sum in compensation.

According to the list, Qatar must refuse to naturalize citizens from the four countries and expel those currently in Qatar, in what the countries describe as an effort to keep Qatar from meddling in their internal affairs. They are also demanding that Qatar hand over all individuals who are wanted by those four countries for terrorism and provide detailed information on opposition figures it has funded. Qatari officials in Doha did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the AP. But the list included conditions that the gas-rich nation had already insisted would never be met, including shutting down al-Jazeera. A day earlier, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned the demands must be “reasonable and actionable.”

What are the specific terms issued by the Saudis?

1) Scale down diplomatic ties with Iran and close the Iranian diplomatic missions in Qatar, expel members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and cut off military and intelligence cooperation with Iran. Trade and commerce with Iran must comply with US and international sanctions in a manner that does not jeopardise the security of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

2) Immediately shut down the Turkish military base that is currently being built, and halt military cooperation with Turkey inside Qatari territories.

3) Sever all ties to all the “terrorist, sectarian and ideological organisations,” specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIL, al-Qaeda, Fateh Al-Sham (formerly known as Nusra Front) and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Qatar needs to formally declare those entities as terrorist groups based on the list of groups that was announced by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and Egypt, and concur with all future updates of this list.

4) Stop all means of funding for individuals, groups or organisations that have been designated as terrorists by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, US and other countries.

5) Hand over “terrorist figures,” fugitives and wanted individuals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain to their countries of origin. Freeze their assets, and provide any desired information about their residency, movements and finances.

6) Shut down Al Jazeera Network and its affiliate stations.

7) End interference in sovereign countries’ internal affairs. Stop granting citizenship to wanted nationals from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Revoke Qatari citizenship for existing nationals where such citizenship violates those countries’ laws.

8) Qatar has to pay reparations and compensation for loss of life and other financial losses caused by Qatar’s policies in recent years. The sum will be determined in coordination with Qatar.

9) Qatar must align itself with the other Gulf and Arab countries militarily, politically, socially and economically, as well as on economic matters, in line with an agreement reached with Saudi Arabia in 2014.

10) Submit all personal details of all the opposition members that Qatar supported and detail all support that Qatar has provided them in the past. Stop all contacts with the political opposition in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Hand over all files detailing Qatar’s prior contacts with and support for those opposition groups.

11) Shut down all news outlets that it funds, directly and indirectly, including Arabi21, Rassd, Al Araby Al Jadeed, Mekameleen and Middle East Eye, etc.

12) Agree to all the demands within 10 days of it being submitted to Qatar, or the list becomes invalid.

13) Consent to monthly audits for the first year after agreeing to the demands, then once per quarter during the second year. For the following 10 years, Qatar would be monitored annually for compliance.

Okay now we know what the Saudis want.

MY advice to the Qatari government is to issue a two word statement…..”BITE ME!”

Saudis want to control the press…..they made no mention to Saudi citizens that have supported terrorism (start at home before you demand of others)…..Qatar should counter with reparations for the blockade…..Saudis want to pick Qatar’s friends…..Saudis want open access to Qatari monetary books…..Saudis are not concerned with rights and freedom of self-determination of Qatar……they want control.

In essence….BITE ME!

Qatar’s Ambassador to the United States Meshal bin Hamad Al-Thani writes: Qatar’s policies are rational, moral and just, and our efforts to foster dialogue and oppose tyranny will lead to a better future not only for our people but also for the world. Qatar has the right to chart its own course, without the interference of other nations, and that is what we can and will do. The door to the negotiating table will stay open.

The UN needs to step up and act like the governing body they are suppose to be……Saudis are acting like the bully in the school yard…the world should not allow this to continue….it could have far reaching consequences.

An Old Nightmare Returns

I recently read an article about the situation in Balkans….where there is growing concern that the rise of the military and far Right politics might be a harbinger of things to come and a repeat of history…..

Source: An Old Nightmare Returns: The Balkans Simmer Again | The National Interest Blog

After I read the article I thought if only someone had been paying attention then just would not come as a surprise……

Wait!

Someone has been watching!  Me!

Source: The Balkans: Smoldering Ashes Of Conflict – In Saner Thought

There are many differences between the Balkans and the Middle East, but they have two things in common. Both regions are former pieces of the Ottoman Empire that have not found stability since that empire receded in the late 19th century.

Source: Will the Balkan Tinderbox Ignite, Again? | The Cipher Brief

So someone has been watching and reporting…the problem is NO one is paying attention.

Since I am an analyst of international conflict then nothing about this is surprising and I will continue to be a voice of caution.

Wait For a Coup?

Recently there was a shake-up in the line of ascension to the throne in Saudi Arabia….came as a surprise to many…especially the ousted uncle in favor of a prince….

Source: A Royal Shake-Up – In Saner Thought

Maybe the Saudi  monarchy has more problems than Qatar……

And since no one is really watching this I feel I need to keep my readers up to date…..

The is report is not one that I have confirmed but it is a turn that needs attention…..there seems to be some concern that there could be a coup aimed at the existing king because of this shake-up….and an unlikely ally has stepped forward……

While according to the official narrative, the Saudi power transition on Wednesday, when King Salman bin Abdulaziz announced his decision to replace Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz with his own son, Mohammed bin Salman, went smooth and by the numbers, what took place behind the scenes is more interesting.

Here, events were decidedly more interesting, because as Fars News reports (so take it with a grain of salt), after the decision was announced, the Israeli air force sent 18 of its fighter jets, including F16-I, F15-CD and F16-CD, along with two Gulfstream aircraft, two tanker airplanes and two C130 planes, special for electronic warfare, to Saudi Arabia at the demand of the new crown prince bin Salman to block his cousin (bin Nayef)’s possible measures.

On the surface, such close ties between the existing Saudi regime and Israel would appear a stretch, although it is far more plausible after this week’s WSJ report that when it comes to the Saudi proxy war, Israel and Saudi Arabia had been alligned from the onset of the Syrian conflict, with Israel secretly supplying Syrian rebels near its border with cash as well as food, fuel and medical supplies for years, “a secret engagement in the enemy country’s civil war aimed at carving out a buffer zone populated by friendly forces.”

Source: Israel Deployed 18 Fighter Jets To Saudi Arabia To “Prevent A Coup”: Fars

As I said earlier…I have no confirmation of this turn…but I will continue to watch for more info to pass on as it becomes available.

Can Qatar Situation Be Solved?

As the situation with Qatar and the Saudis continues there seems to be No break in the events that are spiraling….someone has got to step up and take a hold on this situation…it could become ugly at any moment…..

Is there a resolution or is there not?

On Monday 5 June, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and Egypt cut ties with the Gulf state of Qatar, claiming Doha’s regional policies were fueling extremism and terrorism. Within days, other states severed or downgraded ties and the rift appeared to be widening.

A week earlier, Gulf media—including social media—had erupted amid reports that Qatari Emir, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, made critical remarks against America in a speech, as well as offered support for Iran and backing to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. Qatari officials denied the reports and countered that state media had been hacked. As that crisis quickly turned into a rift with Qatar’s Gulf and Arab neighbors, the need for serious mediation to head off further trouble became obvious.

Source: GCC crisis: How to resolve the diplomatic rift | Brookings Institution

I think all avenues should be explored before this situation turns ugly.

I recently asked the question…..did this have anything to do with the Trump visit?  I think so…..especially the events in Saudi Arabia recently……

Quick, name a candidate favored by President Trump who scored a victory this week. Sure, Karen Handel in Georgia and Ralph Norman in South Carolina come to mind, but the New York Times points out another: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. It wasn’t an election, of course, but he was named the new successor to the throne in his country, and the Times explains how Mohammed has emerged as an important ally of the Trump administration. One sign: The 31-year-old dined at the home of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump on a visit to DC, then returned the favor by hosting them on their visit to Saudi Arabia. Among other things, he favors a hard line against Iran and is leading the Saudi move to punish Qatar for its purported support of terrorism. Other coverage of the prince:

  • Fast rise: Mohammed effectively assumed control of the nation’s economic and defense policies in 2015, the same year his father took the throne, reports MarketWatch. Given that his father is 81, his ascension to crown prince raises the prospect that Saudi Arabia might have a king in the not-too-distant future who would rule for decades.
  • Nickname: He goes by MBS (or MbS), notes the AP in a profile of the “bold and ambitious risk taker.” The Washington Post has different adjectives used by detractors: “reckless and impulsive.”
  • Changing country: The Wall Street Journal assesses, noting the shakeup comes at a crucial point in modern Saudi history. “Low oil prices and mounting demographic pressures are tearing at the kingdom’s fragile social contract, making change even more urgent and political unity at the top a greater priority.” The king’s decision to replace his 57-year-old nephew with his son as successor was seen by close observers as inevitable.
  • Risk for US: That he shares Trump’s hawkish views on Iran might carry a risk for the US, analysts tell Reuters. Expect the Iran-Saudi Arabia hostility to intensify, which could make it more likely for the US to be “dragged deeper into the Sunni-Shi’ite conflict playing out across the Middle East.”
  • Worried: There may be some “quiet muttering” in Saudi Arabia about the the move, but don’t expect a challenge because the king’s decision is absolute, writes the Brookings Institution’s Bruce Riedel at Al-Monitor’s Gulf Pulse. “The longer-term costs of upsetting the legitimacy of the line of succession in the midst of low oil prices and regional tensions are much more worrisome,” he adds. “The young prince is poised to inherit a kingdom under stress at home and abroad.”
  • Oil markets: Traders are taking a leery, wait-and-see approach in regard to the world’s biggest oil-producing nation, reports CNBC. Older generations of rulers have let “seasoned technocrats” run the nation’s oil industry, notes the New York Times, but Mohammed is expected to exert more control.
  • Unique system: Need a primer on Saudi Arabia’s monarchial system? Slate provided one in 2015 when current King Salman took over. Any king must be a male descendant of the first king, Abdulaziz, who died in 1953. That has made for a line of relatively old successors up until now.

Qatar is just an extension of the new US policy for the Middle East…..administered by the Saudis.

A recent article in a pro-Russian site throws water on this blockade….

Speaking to the media in his latest tour to the US, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister insisted that there was no blockade of Qatar, yet he insisted that the latter was not allowed to use their, as also of their allies’, air space and territorial waters. Standing next to the rather reticent US secretary of the state, Rex Tillerson, he said that “Qatar was free to go” and yet the Qatar airways was not allowed to use Saudi air space. Whereas the delicate difference the Saudis seem to be making between their policy and those of other countries, who the former would have wanted to impose identical restrictions on Qatar, is a reflection of Saudia’s limits, it also shows that the House of Saud has rather shot itself in the foot by opening a solo-front against Qatar, a country that nevertheless has a big American military base and has on its side a powerful Arab ally, Turkey. What the whole episode has brought unmistakably to the forefront is that there exist a number of countries within the “Sunni coalition” who do not see eye to eye with Saudi policies and are more comfortable in following rather independent course of action.