The Saker blog now also in Russian!

ДОРОГИЕ РУССКОЯЗЫЧНЫЕ ДРУЗЬЯ!
Читайте блог Балобана по-русски щелкнув на эту ссылку:


http://www.vineyardsaker.ru/

The Saker Blog now also in French!

AMIS FRANCOPHONES!
Vous pouvez maintenant lire le blog du Saker en Français en cliquant sur ce lien:


http://www.vineyardsaker.fr/

The Saker Blog now also in German!

ALLE UNSERE DEUTSCHEN FREUNDE!
koennen jetzt den blog des Sakers auf Deutsch lesen - bitte hier anklicken:


http://www.vineyardsaker.de/

The Saker Blog now in Oceania

TO ALL THE SAKER FRIENDS IN OCEANIA!
you can now also visit the Oceania Vineyardsaker Blog by clicking on this link:


http://www.vineyardsaker.co.nz/

The Saker Blog now in Serbian

TO ALL THE SAKER FRIENDS IN SERBIA!
you can now also visit the Serbian Vineyardsaker Blog by clicking on this link:


http://www.thesakersrpski.rs/

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Which logo do you prefer? (UPDATED!)

Dear friends, 

I need to decide which logo to use on the new blog.  Which one do you prefer?

Thanks,

The Saker 

UPDATE: it just 'hit me' that we are a community, right? Okay - if you want to submit a logo of your own, please do.  I make no promises to use it, but if I like it I will add it to the list of logos submitted for comments in this survey of opinions.  Deal?


Logo 1
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Logo 8

Putin's speech at the Valdai Club - full transcript


Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, friends, it is a pleasure to welcome you to the XI meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club.

It was mentioned already that the club has new co-organisers this year. They include Russian non-governmental organisations, expert groups and leading universities. The idea was also raised of broadening the discussions to include not just issues related to Russia itself but also global politics and the economy.

I hope that these changes in organisation and content will bolster the club’s influence as a leading discussion and expert forum. At the same time, I hope the ‘Valdai spirit’ will remain - this free and open atmosphere and chance to express all manner of very different and frank opinions.

Let me say in this respect that I will also not let you down and will speak directly and frankly. Some of what I say might seem a bit too harsh, but if we do not speak directly and honestly about what we really think, then there is little point in even meeting in this way. It would be better in that case just to keep to diplomatic get-togethers, where no one says anything of real sense and, recalling the words of one famous diplomat, you realise that diplomats have tongues so as not to speak the truth.

We get together for other reasons. We get together so as to talk frankly with each other. We need to be direct and blunt today not so as to trade barbs, but so as to attempt to get to the bottom of what is actually happening in the world, try to understand why the world is becoming less safe and more unpredictable, and why the risks are increasing everywhere around us.

Today’s discussion took place under the theme: New Rules or a Game without Rules. I think that this formula accurately describes the historic turning point we have reached today and the choice we all face. There is nothing new of course in the idea that the world is changing very fast. I know this is something you have spoken about at the discussions today. It is certainly hard not to notice the dramatic transformations in global politics and the economy, public life, and in industry, information and social technologies.

Let me ask you right now to forgive me if I end up repeating what some of the discussion’s participants have already said. It’s practically impossible to avoid. You have already held detailed discussions, but I will set out my point of view. It will coincide with other participants’ views on some points and differ on others.

As we analyse today’s situation, let us not forget history’s lessons. First of all, changes in the world order – and what we are seeing today are events on this scale – have usually been accompanied by if not global war and conflict, then by chains of intensive local-level conflicts. Second, global politics is above all about economic leadership, issues of war and peace, and the humanitarian dimension, including human rights.

The world is full of contradictions today. We need to be frank in asking each other if we have a reliable safety net in place. Sadly, there is no guarantee and no certainty that the current system of global and regional security is able to protect us from upheavals. This system has become seriously weakened, fragmented and deformed. The international and regional political, economic, and cultural cooperation organisations are also going through difficult times.

Yes, many of the mechanisms we have for ensuring the world order were created quite a long time ago now, including and above all in the period immediately following World War II. Let me stress that the solidity of the system created back then rested not only on the balance of power and the rights of the victor countries, but on the fact that this system’s ‘founding fathers’ had respect for each other, did not try to put the squeeze on others, but attempted to reach agreements.

The main thing is that this system needs to develop, and despite its various shortcomings, needs to at least be capable of keeping the world’s current problems within certain limits and regulating the intensity of the natural competition between countries.

It is my conviction that we could not take this mechanism of checks and balances that we built over the last decades, sometimes with such effort and difficulty, and simply tear it apart without building anything in its place. Otherwise we would be left with no instruments other than brute force.

What we needed to do was to carry out a rational reconstruction and adapt it the new realities in the system of international relations.

But the United States, having declared itself the winner of the Cold War, saw no need for this. Instead of establishing a new balance of power, essential for maintaining order and stability, they took steps that threw the system into sharp and deep imbalance.

The Cold War ended, but it did not end with the signing of a peace treaty with clear and transparent agreements on respecting existing rules or creating new rules and standards. This created the impression that the so-called ‘victors’ in the Cold War had decided to pressure events and reshape the world to suit their own needs and interests. If the existing system of international relations, international law and the checks and balances in place got in the way of these aims, this system was declared worthless, outdated and in need of immediate demolition.

Pardon the analogy, but this is the way nouveaux riches behave when they suddenly end up with a great fortune, in this case, in the shape of world leadership and domination. Instead of managing their wealth wisely, for their own benefit too of course, I think they have committed many follies.

We have entered a period of differing interpretations and deliberate silences in world politics. International law has been forced to retreat over and over by the onslaught of legal nihilism. Objectivity and justice have been sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. Arbitrary interpretations and biased assessments have replaced legal norms. At the same time, total control of the global mass media has made it possible when desired to portray white as black and black as white.

In a situation where you had domination by one country and its allies, or its satellites rather, the search for global solutions often turned into an attempt to impose their own universal recipes. This group’s ambitions grew so big that they started presenting the policies they put together in their corridors of power as the view of the entire international community. But this is not the case.

The very notion of ‘national sovereignty’ became a relative value for most countries. In essence, what was being proposed was the formula: the greater the loyalty towards the world’s sole power centre, the greater this or that ruling regime’s legitimacy.

We will have a free discussion afterwards and I will be happy to answer your questions and would also like to use my right to ask you questions. Let someone try to disprove the arguments that I just set out during the upcoming discussion.

The measures taken against those who refuse to submit are well-known and have been tried and tested many times. They include use of force, economic and propaganda pressure, meddling in domestic affairs, and appeals to a kind of ‘supra-legal’ legitimacy when they need to justify illegal intervention in this or that conflict or toppling inconvenient regimes. Of late, we have increasing evidence too that outright blackmail has been used with regard to a number of leaders. It is not for nothing that ‘big brother’ is spending billions of dollars on keeping the whole world, including its own closest allies, under surveillance.

Let’s ask ourselves, how comfortable are we with this, how safe are we, how happy living in this world, and how fair and rational has it become? Maybe, we have no real reasons to worry, argue and ask awkward questions? Maybe the United States’ exceptional position and the way they are carrying out their leadership really is a blessing for us all, and their meddling in events all around the world is bringing peace, prosperity, progress, growth and democracy, and we should maybe just relax and enjoy it all?

Let me say that this is not the case, absolutely not the case.

A unilateral diktat and imposing one’s own models produces the opposite result. Instead of settling conflicts it leads to their escalation, instead of sovereign and stable states we see the growing spread of chaos, and instead of democracy there is support for a very dubious public ranging from open neo-fascists to Islamic radicals.

Why do they support such people? They do this because they decide to use them as instruments along the way in achieving their goals but then burn their fingers and recoil. I never cease to be amazed by the way that our partners just keep stepping on the same rake, as we say here in Russia, that is to say, make the same mistake over and over.

They once sponsored Islamic extremist movements to fight the Soviet Union. Those groups got their battle experience in Afghanistan and later gave birth to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The West if not supported, at least closed its eyes, and, I would say, gave information, political and financial support to international terrorists’ invasion of Russia (we have not forgotten this) and the Central Asian region’s countries. Only after horrific terrorist attacks were committed on US soil itself did the United States wake up to the common threat of terrorism. Let me remind you that we were the first country to support the American people back then, the first to react as friends and partners to the terrible tragedy of September 11.

During my conversations with American and European leaders, I always spoke of the need to fight terrorism together, as a challenge on a global scale. We cannot resign ourselves to and accept this threat, cannot cut it into separate pieces using double standards. Our partners expressed agreement, but a little time passed and we ended up back where we started. First there was the military operation in Iraq, then in Libya, which got pushed to the brink of falling apart. Why was Libya pushed into this situation? Today it is a country in danger of breaking apart and has become a training ground for terrorists.

Only the current Egyptian leadership’s determination and wisdom saved this key Arab country from chaos and having extremists run rampant. In Syria, as in the past, the United States and its allies started directly financing and arming rebels and allowing them to fill their ranks with mercenaries from various countries. Let me ask where do these rebels get their money, arms and military specialists? Where does all this come from? How did the notorious ISIL manage to become such a powerful group, essentially a real armed force?

As for financing sources, today, the money is coming not just from drugs, production of which has increased not just by a few percentage points but many-fold, since the international coalition forces have been present in Afghanistan. You are aware of this. The terrorists are getting money from selling oil too. Oil is produced in territory controlled by the terrorists, who sell it at dumping prices, produce it and transport it. But someone buys this oil, resells it, and makes a profit from it, not thinking about the fact that they are thus financing terrorists who could come sooner or later to their own soil and sow destruction in their own countries.

Where do they get new recruits? In Iraq, after Saddam Hussein was toppled, the state’s institutions, including the army, were left in ruins. We said back then, be very, very careful. You are driving people out into the street, and what will they do there? Don’t forget (rightfully or not) that they were in the leadership of a large regional power, and what are you now turning them into?

What was the result? Tens of thousands of soldiers, officers and former Baath Party activists were turned out into the streets and today have joined the rebels’ ranks. Perhaps this is what explains why the Islamic State group has turned out so effective? In military terms, it is acting very effectively and has some very professional people. Russia warned repeatedly about the dangers of unilateral military actions, intervening in sovereign states’ affairs, and flirting with extremists and radicals. We insisted on having the groups fighting the central Syrian government, above all the Islamic State, included on the lists of terrorist organisations. But did we see any results? We appealed in vain.

We sometimes get the impression that our colleagues and friends are constantly fighting the consequences of their own policies, throw all their effort into addressing the risks they themselves have created, and pay an ever-greater price.

Colleagues, this period of unipolar domination has convincingly demonstrated that having only one power centre does not make global processes more manageable. On the contrary, this kind of unstable construction has shown its inability to fight the real threats such as regional conflicts, terrorism, drug trafficking, religious fanaticism, chauvinism and neo-Nazism. At the same time, it has opened the road wide for inflated national pride, manipulating public opinion and letting the strong bully and suppress the weak.

Essentially, the unipolar world is simply a means of justifying dictatorship over people and countries. The unipolar world turned out too uncomfortable, heavy and unmanageable a burden even for the self-proclaimed leader. Comments along this line were made here just before and I fully agree with this. This is why we see attempts at this new historic stage to recreate a semblance of a quasi-bipolar world as a convenient model for perpetuating American leadership. It does not matter who takes the place of the centre of evil in American propaganda, the USSR’s old place as the main adversary. It could be Iran, as a country seeking to acquire nuclear technology, China, as the world’s biggest economy, or Russia, as a nuclear superpower.

Today, we are seeing new efforts to fragment the world, draw new dividing lines, put together coalitions not built for something but directed against someone, anyone, create the image of an enemy as was the case during the Cold War years, and obtain the right to this leadership, or diktat if you wish. The situation was presented this way during the Cold War. We all understand this and know this. The United States always told its allies: “We have a common enemy, a terrible foe, the centre of evil, and we are defending you, our allies, from this foe, and so we have the right to order you around, force you to sacrifice your political and economic interests and pay your share of the costs for this collective defence, but we will be the ones in charge of it all of course.” In short, we see today attempts in a new and changing world to reproduce the familiar models of global management, and all this so as to guarantee their [the US’] exceptional position and reap political and economic dividends.

But these attempts are increasingly divorced from reality and are in contradiction with the world’s diversity. Steps of this kind inevitably create confrontation and countermeasures and have the opposite effect to the hoped-for goals. We see what happens when politics rashly starts meddling in the economy and the logic of rational decisions gives way to the logic of confrontation that only hurt one’s own economic positions and interests, including national business interests.

Joint economic projects and mutual investment objectively bring countries closer together and help to smooth out current problems in relations between states. But today, the global business community faces unprecedented pressure from Western governments. What business, economic expediency and pragmatism can we speak of when we hear slogans such as “the homeland is in danger”, “the free world is under threat”, and “democracy is in jeopardy”? And so everyone needs to mobilise. That is what a real mobilisation policy looks like.

Sanctions are already undermining the foundations of world trade, the WTO rules and the principle of inviolability of private property. They are dealing a blow to liberal model of globalisation based on markets, freedom and competition, which, let me note, is a model that has primarily benefited precisely the Western countries. And now they risk losing trust as the leaders of globalisation. We have to ask ourselves, why was this necessary? After all, the United States’ prosperity rests in large part on the trust of investors and foreign holders of dollars and US securities. This trust is clearly being undermined and signs of disappointment in the fruits of globalisation are visible now in many countries.

The well-known Cyprus precedent and the politically motivated sanctions have only strengthened the trend towards seeking to bolster economic and financial sovereignty and countries’ or their regional groups’ desire to find ways of protecting themselves from the risks of outside pressure. We already see that more and more countries are looking for ways to become less dependent on the dollar and are setting up alternative financial and payments systems and reserve currencies. I think that our American friends are quite simply cutting the branch they are sitting on. You cannot mix politics and the economy, but this is what is happening now. I have always thought and still think today that politically motivated sanctions were a mistake that will harm everyone, but I am sure that we will come back to this subject later.

We know how these decisions were taken and who was applying the pressure. But let me stress that Russia is not going to get all worked up, get offended or come begging at anyone’s door. Russia is a self-sufficient country. We will work within the foreign economic environment that has taken shape, develop domestic production and technology and act more decisively to carry out transformation. Pressure from outside, as has been the case on past occasions, will only consolidate our society, keep us alert and make us concentrate on our main development goals.

Of course the sanctions are a hindrance. They are trying to hurt us through these sanctions, block our development and push us into political, economic and cultural isolation, force us into backwardness in other words. But let me say yet again that the world is a very different place today. We have no intention of shutting ourselves off from anyone and choosing some kind of closed development road, trying to live in autarky. We are always open to dialogue, including on normalising our economic and political relations. We are counting here on the pragmatic approach and position of business communities in the leading countries.

Some are saying today that Russia is supposedly turning its back on Europe - such words were probably spoken already here too during the discussions - and is looking for new business partners, above all in Asia. Let me say that this is absolutely not the case. Our active policy in the Asian-Pacific region began not just yesterday and not in response to sanctions, but is a policy that we have been following for a good many years now. Like many other countries, including Western countries, we saw that Asia is playing an ever greater role in the world, in the economy and in politics, and there is simply no way we can afford to overlook these developments.

Let me say again that everyone is doing this, and we will do so to, all the more so as a large part of our country is geographically in Asia. Why should we not make use of our competitive advantages in this area? It would be extremely shortsighted not to do so.

Developing economic ties with these countries and carrying out joint integration projects also creates big incentives for our domestic development. Today’s demographic, economic and cultural trends all suggest that dependence on a sole superpower will objectively decrease. This is something that European and American experts have been talking and writing about too.

Perhaps developments in global politics will mirror the developments we are seeing in the global economy, namely, intensive competition for specific niches and frequent change of leaders in specific areas. This is entirely possible.

There is no doubt that humanitarian factors such as education, science, healthcare and culture are playing a greater role in global competition. This also has a big impact on international relations, including because this ‘soft power’ resource will depend to a great extent on real achievements in developing human capital rather than on sophisticated propaganda tricks.

At the same time, the formation of a so-called polycentric world (I would also like to draw attention to this, colleagues) in and of itself does not improve stability; in fact, it is more likely to be the opposite. The goal of reaching global equilibrium is turning into a fairly difficult puzzle, an equation with many unknowns.

So, what is in store for us if we choose not to live by the rules – even if they may be strict and inconvenient – but rather live without any rules at all? And that scenario is entirely possible; we cannot rule it out, given the tensions in the global situation. Many predictions can already be made, taking into account current trends, and unfortunately, they are not optimistic. If we do not create a clear system of mutual commitments and agreements, if we do not build the mechanisms for managing and resolving crisis situations, the symptoms of global anarchy will inevitably grow.

Today, we already see a sharp increase in the likelihood of a whole set of violent conflicts with either direct or indirect participation by the world’s major powers. And the risk factors include not just traditional multinational conflicts, but also the internal instability in separate states, especially when we talk about nations located at the intersections of major states’ geopolitical interests, or on the border of cultural, historical, and economic civilizational continents.

Ukraine, which I’m sure was discussed at length and which we will discuss some more, is one of the example of such sorts of conflicts that affect international power balance, and I think it will certainly not be the last. From here emanates the next real threat of destroying the current system of arms control agreements. And this dangerous process was launched by the United States of America when it unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, and then set about and continues today to actively pursue the creation of its global missile defence system.

Colleagues, friends,

I want to point out that we did not start this. Once again, we are sliding into the times when, instead of the balance of interests and mutual guarantees, it is fear and the balance of mutual destruction that prevent nations from engaging in direct conflict. In absence of legal and political instruments, arms are once again becoming the focal point of the global agenda; they are used wherever and however, without any UN Security Council sanctions. And if the Security Council refuses to produce such decisions, then it is immediately declared to be an outdated and ineffective instrument.

Many states do not see any other ways of ensuring their sovereignty but to obtain their own bombs. This is extremely dangerous. We insist on continuing talks; we are not only in favour of talks, but insist on continuing talks to reduce nuclear arsenals. The less nuclear weapons we have in the world, the better. And we are ready for the most serious, concrete discussions on nuclear disarmament – but only serious discussions without any double standards.

What do I mean? Today, many types of high-precision weaponry are already close to mass-destruction weapons in terms of their capabilities, and in the event of full renunciation of nuclear weapons or radical reduction of nuclear potential, nations that are leaders in creating and producing high-precision systems will have a clear military advantage. Strategic parity will be disrupted, and this is likely to bring destabilization. The use of a so-called first global pre-emptive strike may become tempting. In short, the risks do not decrease, but intensify.

The next obvious threat is the further escalation of ethnic, religious, and social conflicts. Such conflicts are dangerous not only as such, but also because they create zones of anarchy, lawlessness, and chaos around them, places that are comfortable for terrorists and criminals, where piracy, human trafficking, and drug trafficking flourish.

Incidentally, at the time, our colleagues tried to somehow manage these processes, use regional conflicts and design ‘colour revolutions’ to suit their interests, but the genie escaped the bottle. It looks like the controlled chaos theory fathers themselves do not know what to do with it; there is disarray in their ranks.

We closely follow the discussions by both the ruling elite and the expert community. It is enough to look at the headlines of the Western press over the last year. The same people are called fighters for democracy, and then Islamists; first they write about revolutions and then call them riots and upheavals. The result is obvious: the further expansion of global chaos.

Colleagues, given the global situation, it is time to start agreeing on fundamental things. This is incredibly important and necessary; this is much better than going back to our own corners. The more we all face common problems, the more we find ourselves in the same boat, so to speak. And the logical way out is in cooperation between nations, societies, in finding collective answers to increasing challenges, and in joint risk management. Granted, some of our partners, for some reason, remember this only when it suits their interests.

Practical experience shows that joint answers to challenges are not always a panacea; and we need to understand this. Moreover, in most cases, they are hard to reach; it is not easy to overcome the differences in national interests, the subjectivity of different approaches, particularly when it comes to nations with different cultural and historical traditions. But nevertheless, we have examples when, having common goals and acting based on the same criteria, together we achieved real success.

Let me remind you about solving the problem of chemical weapons in Syria, and the substantive dialogue on the Iranian nuclear programme, as well as our work on North Korean issues, which also has some positive results. Why can’t we use this experience in the future to solve local and global challenges?

What could be the legal, political, and economic basis for a new world order that would allow for stability and security, while encouraging healthy competition, not allowing the formation of new monopolies that hinder development? It is unlikely that someone could provide absolutely exhaustive, ready-made solutions right now. We will need extensive work with participation by a wide range of governments, global businesses, civil society, and such expert platforms as ours.

However, it is obvious that success and real results are only possible if key participants in international affairs can agree on harmonising basic interests, on reasonable self-restraint, and set the example of positive and responsible leadership. We must clearly identify where unilateral actions end and we need to apply multilateral mechanisms, and as part of improving the effectiveness of international law, we must resolve the dilemma between the actions by international community to ensure security and human rights and the principle of national sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of any state.

Those very collisions increasingly lead to arbitrary external interference in complex internal processes, and time and again, they provoke dangerous conflicts between leading global players. The issue of maintaining sovereignty becomes almost paramount in maintaining and strengthening global stability.

Clearly, discussing the criteria for the use of external force is extremely difficult; it is practically impossible to separate it from the interests of particular nations. However, it is far more dangerous when there are no agreements that are clear to everyone, when no clear conditions are set for necessary and legal interference.

I will add that international relations must be based on international law, which itself should rest on moral principles such as justice, equality and truth. Perhaps most important is respect for one’s partners and their interests. This is an obvious formula, but simply following it could radically change the global situation.

I am certain that if there is a will, we can restore the effectiveness of the international and regional institutions system. We do not even need to build anything anew, from the scratch; this is not a “greenfield,” especially since the institutions created after World War II are quite universal and can be given modern substance, adequate to manage the current situation.

This is true of improving the work of the UN, whose central role is irreplaceable, as well as the OSCE, which, over the course of 40 years, has proven to be a necessary mechanism for ensuring security and cooperation in the Euro-Atlantic region. I must say that even now, in trying to resolve the crisis in southeast Ukraine, the OSCE is playing a very positive role.

In light of the fundamental changes in the international environment, the increase in uncontrollability and various threats, we need a new global consensus of responsible forces. It’s not about some local deals or a division of spheres of influence in the spirit of classic diplomacy, or somebody’s complete global domination. I think that we need a new version of interdependence. We should not be afraid of it. On the contrary, this is a good instrument for harmonising positions.

This is particularly relevant given the strengthening and growth of certain regions on the planet, which process objectively requires institutionalisation of such new poles, creating powerful regional organisations and developing rules for their interaction. Cooperation between these centres would seriously add to the stability of global security, policy and economy. But in order to establish such a dialogue, we need to proceed from the assumption that all regional centres and integration projects forming around them need to have equal rights to development, so that they can complement each other and nobody can force them into conflict or opposition artificially. Such destructive actions would break down ties between states, and the states themselves would be subjected to extreme hardship, or perhaps even total destruction.

I would like to remind you of the last year’s events. We have told our American and European partners that hasty backstage decisions, for example, on Ukraine’s association with the EU, are fraught with serious risks to the economy. We didn’t even say anything about politics; we spoke only about the economy, saying that such steps, made without any prior arrangements, touch on the interests of many other nations, including Russia as Ukraine’s main trade partner, and that a wide discussion of the issues is necessary. Incidentally, in this regard, I will remind you that, for example, the talks on Russia’s accession to the WTO lasted 19 years. This was very difficult work, and a certain consensus was reached.

Why am I bringing this up? Because in implementing Ukraine’s association project, our partners would come to us with their goods and services through the back gate, so to speak, and we did not agree to this, nobody asked us about this. We had discussions on all topics related to Ukraine’s association with the EU, persistent discussions, but I want to stress that this was done in an entirely civilised manner, indicating possible problems, showing the obvious reasoning and arguments. Nobody wanted to listen to us and nobody wanted to talk. They simply told us: this is none of your business, point, end of discussion. Instead of a comprehensive but – I stress – civilised dialogue, it all came down to a government overthrow; they plunged the country into chaos, into economic and social collapse, into a civil war with enormous casualties.

Why? When I ask my colleagues why, they no longer have an answer; nobody says anything. That’s it. Everyone’s at a loss, saying it just turned out that way. Those actions should not have been encouraged – it wouldn’t have worked. After all (I already spoke about this), former Ukrainian President Yanukovych signed everything, agreed with everything. Why do it? What was the point? What is this, a civilised way of solving problems? Apparently, those who constantly throw together new ‘colour revolutions’ consider themselves ‘brilliant artists’ and simply cannot stop.

I am certain that the work of integrated associations, the cooperation of regional structures, should be built on a transparent, clear basis; the Eurasian Economic Union’s formation process is a good example of such transparency. The states that are parties to this project informed their partners of their plans in advance, specifying the parameters of our association, the principles of its work, which fully correspond with the World Trade Organisation rules.

I will add that we would also have welcomed the start of a concrete dialogue between the Eurasian and European Union. Incidentally, they have almost completely refused us this as well, and it is also unclear why – what is so scary about it?

And, of course, with such joint work, we would think that we need to engage in dialogue (I spoke about this many times and heard agreement from many of our western partners, at least in Europe) on the need to create a common space for economic and humanitarian cooperation stretching all the way from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.

Colleagues, Russia made its choice. Our priorities are further improving our democratic and open economy institutions, accelerated internal development, taking into account all the positive modern trends in the world, and consolidating society based on traditional values and patriotism.

We have an integration-oriented, positive, peaceful agenda; we are working actively with our colleagues in the Eurasian Economic Union, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, BRICS and other partners. This agenda is aimed at developing ties between governments, not dissociating. We are not planning to cobble together any blocs or get involved in an exchange of blows.

The allegations and statements that Russia is trying to establish some sort of empire, encroaching on the sovereignty of its neighbours, are groundless. Russia does not need any kind of special, exclusive place in the world – I want to emphasise this. While respecting the interests of others, we simply want for our own interests to be taken into account and for our position to be respected.

We are well aware that the world has entered an era of changes and global transformations, when we all need a particular degree of caution, the ability to avoid thoughtless steps. In the years after the Cold War, participants in global politics lost these qualities somewhat. Now, we need to remember them. Otherwise, hopes for a peaceful, stable development will be a dangerous illusion, while today’s turmoil will simply serve as a prelude to the collapse of world order.

Yes, of course, I have already said that building a more stable world order is a difficult task. We are talking about long and hard work. We were able to develop rules for interaction after World War II, and we were able to reach an agreement in Helsinki in the 1970s. Our common duty is to resolve this fundamental challenge at this new stage of development.

Thank you very much for your attention.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Ukraine mini-SITREP: very ominous developments (follow up)

This post is a short follow-up to the Ukraine mini-SITREP: very ominous developments post I did a couple of days ago.

Several of you have noticed what can only be called a declaration of war on Russia by one of the top figures of the AngloZionist international capital, George Soros who has declared that "Russia is an existential threat to Europe".  First, Khodorkovsky, now Soros - it is pretty clear who is gunning for Russia and how, and it is equally clear that what these financiers are really admitting by their bellicose statements is that Putin is an existential threat to them.  In the latter statement, they are actually 100% correct (proving one more time that those who say that Putin is an oligarchic puppet are just useful and manipulated idiots).

Nuland, Soros, Khodorkovsky, Hillary, Friedman and the list goes on and on and on.  The entire Neocon cabal is out for war and they are putting tremendous pressure on the rest of the planet to join.

The Europeans are, typically, showing less spine than a microwaved jellyfish: even though they fully know and understand that Uncle Sam is propping up a Nazi regime in Kiev and that the US policies are hurting them, they will do whatever the US tells them.  There is no European foreign policy to speak of.  All the Europeans can produce is a submissive "yessir! anything you say sir!".  One of the most pitiful expressions of this European submission to any order from the US, no matter how stupid, is this fairytale about a Russian submarine lurking inside the Swedish waters.

Not only is that a bad replay of the Swedish Cold War era paranoia following the Whiskey on the Rocks incident, in which a navigational error resulted in a Soviet Whiskey-class sub being beached on the rocks near Karlskrona.  While the Swedes of the Cold War could be excused for seeing Soviet subs as often as Scots see the Loch Ness Monster, to come up with the same nonsense in 2014 is plain embarrassing and shows that the Swedish military will also execute any other, no matter how evidently stupid.  This time around, the BBC claims that the first sign of a Russian sub was, I kid you not, a "radio conversation in Russian was reportedly detected on Thursday 16 October between the Stockholm archipelago and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, where Russia's Baltic fleet is based".  Apparently, there are people dumb enough to believe this kind of nonsense.

Seriously, funny as these "Swedish fairytales" are, we should not overlook the fact that the intention behind them is not funny at all: to create fear and possibly a pretext for a confrontation.

In the meantime, in Banderastan, things are getting worse and worse every day and the only thing holding back a full scale Ukie attack on Novorussia is the fear of further military defeats before the elections.  But short of a major change in dynamic, a Ukie attack will happen as soon as the elections are over.  One thing which could delay such an attack would be an anti-Poroshenko coup in Kiev.

Though this has not quite been reported that way, one thing which did come out of the Milan summit is that the Ukrainians have basically admitted that they have no money at all.  None.  Hence all the talks about the Europeans forking the money for the Russian gas.  Also, the cold season has begun and from now on its all just going to get worse and worse.

One more important item:

The deadline to post comments to Khazin has just passed.

I have to admit that even in my wildest dreams I could not have imagined such a huge number of questions.  Next, the Russian Saker Blog Team Leader and myself will have to decide on the number of questions we will forward to Mikhail Khazin  and what methodology to follow to select questions.  We might combine similar question into one.  I am not sure, but I will keep you posted. 

Kind regards,

The Saker

Putin at Valdai - World Order: New Rules or a Game without Rules (FULL VIDEO)

Is the CIA Running a Defamation Campaign Against Putin?

Russia Insider interviews The Saker

The latest hot topic in the Russian media. Russian politicians are talking about it. Historical precedent and behavior of Western media suggests that they are.

A major topic in the Russian media is mystification with how Putin is portrayed in the Western media.

Wildly popular at home, and seen as a decent, modest, an admirable person, and Russians don't understand how there can be such a disconnect with Western impressions.

Recently, leading Russian commentators and politicians have been suggesting that this can only be explained by a deliberate campaign to defame Putin, by governments or other groups.

Yesterday, at a briefing to foreign journalists, Sergey Ivanov, Putin's chief of staff, arguably the 2nd most powerful man in Russia, spoke of an "information war" consisting of "personal attacks" on Putin.


The western media hit a new low...

The day before another member of Putin's inner circle, Vyasheslav Volodin, made similar remarks, telling foreign journalists "an attack on Putin is an attack on Russia."

The logic, they argue, is that by defaming the leader of a country, you weaken his power domestically by undermining popular support for him, and internationally, by rallying popular opinion to support policies against that country. The ultimate goal, they argue, is to weaken the country itself. They also talk about regime change.

They argue that if one looks at the facts, that there is evidence of ongoing character assassination which cannot be explained by a vague popular zeitgeist in the West, but is more likely the result of a dedicated effort to introduce this defamation into the news flow.


Newsweek has been one of the most virulent Putin-bashers for years

The issue of manipulation of news by intelligence services has been in the news recently with revelations that the CIA and German Secret Service (GSS) have long-running programs to influence how media executives and top journalists convey and interpret the news, including direct cash payments.

Here are some examples they point to:

  • Portraying him as a scheming dictator trying to rebuild a repressive empire.
  • Claiming he personally ordered the murder of a number of journalists, and personally ordered a KGB defector to be murdered with radiation poisoning.
  • Frequently citing unsubstantiated rumors he is having an affair with a famous gymnast.
  • Allegations that he has stashed away billions for his personal benefit, without providing evidence.
  • Recent article in newsweek claiming he leads a luxurious and lazy lifestyle, sleeping late.
  • Recent article in NYT focusing on a supposed personal arrogance.
  • Hillary Clinton mentioning in speech after speech that he is a bad guy, a bully, that one must confront him forcefully.
  • Frequently using pejoratives to describe his person - "a jerk and a thug" (Thomas Friedman this week in the NYT)
  • Mis-quoting him on his regret about the collapse of the Soviet Union.
  • Articles about a supposed super-luxury villa built for him in southern Russia.
  • The over-the top headlines in the western media (they were worst of all in Germany) portraying him personally responsible for murdering the victims of MH17.
  • And soft stuff - magazine covers making him look sinister, monstrous, etc.
RI sat down with The Saker, a leading analyst of Russia in international affairs, and asked him what he thinks:
-----------------------------------

So, is there any credence to this line of thinking, or is this conspiracy theorists running wild?

There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that the US is waging a major psyop war against Russia, although not a shooting war, for now, and that what we are seeing is a targeted campaign to discredit Putin and achieve "regime change" in Russia or, should that fail, at the very least "regime weakening" and "Russia weakening".

And the Economist has been the very worst of them all...

So this is a US government program?

Yes, Putin is absolutely hated by certain factions in the US government two main reasons:

1. He partially, but not fully, restored Russia's sovereignty which under Gorbachev and Yeltsin had been totally lost … Russia then was a US colony like Ukraine is today … and,

2. He dared to openly defy the USA and its civilizational model.

… a free and sovereign Russia is perceived by the US "deep state" as an existential threat which has to be crushed. … this is a full-scale political assault on Russia and Putin personally.

So what the Russians are saying, that the constant personal attacks against Putin in the global media are partly the result of deliberate efforts by US intelligence services, … basically, planted stories…

Yes, absolutely

It seems like “Operation Mockingbird” all over again… Are you aware of other instances aimed at Putin?

(Editors Note:
Operation Mockingbird was a CIA program started in the 1950s to influence the US media, which was gradually exposed by investigative journalists starting in the late 60s, culminating in sensational televised congressional hearings in 1975 which shocked the nation, forcing the program’s termination. Critics maintain that the same tactics have continued since, under different programs. Wikipedia)

Yes, of course. Since this defamation has very little traction with the Russian public … Putin's popularity is higher than ever before .., there is an organized campaign to convince them that Putin is "selling out" Novorussia, that he is a puppet of oligarchs who are making deals with Ukrainian oligarchs to back-stab the Novorussian resistance…

… So far, Putin's policies in the Ukraine have enjoyed very strong support from the Russian people who still oppose an overt military intervention…

… but if Kiev attacks Novorussia again - which appears very likely - and if such an attack is successful - which is less likely but always possible - then Putin will be blamed for having given the Ukrainians the time to regroup and reorganize. 



Warm and fuzzy...

So you are saying that if the Ukrainian military strengthens its position enough to deliver a serious blow to the East Ukrainians, the US can use this as a method to strike at Putin’s support base…

Yes, that’s right ... there are a lot of "fake patriots" in Russia and abroad who will reject any negotiated solution and who will present any compromise as a "betrayal". They are the "useful idiots" used by western special services to smear and undermine Putin.

Is it limited to government special ops, or are there other groups who might have an interest in doing this?

Yes, well here is something that most people in the west don’t appreciate… there is a major behind-the scenes struggle among Russian elites between what I call the "Eurasian Sovereignists" (basically, those who support Putin) and what I call the "Atlantic Integrationists" (those whom Putin refers to as the "5th column).

The western media talks about this as the struggle between Russian liberals and conservatives, reformers and reactionaries, right?

Well its sort of like that, but not exactly…

The former see Russia's future in the Russian North and East and want to turn Russia towards Asia, Latin America and the rest of the world, while the latter want Russia to become part of the "North Atlantic" power configuration.

The Atlantic Integrationists are now too weak to openly challenge Putin - whose real power base is his immense popular support - but they are quietly sabotaging his efforts to reform Russia while supporting anti-Putin campaigns.

Regarding the revelations of CIA activities in Germany, do you think this is going on in other countries, in the US?

I am sure that this is happening in most countries worldwide. The very nature of the modern corporate media is such that it makes journalists corrupt.

As the French philosopher Alain Soral says "nowadays a reporter is either unemployed or a prostitute". There are, of course, a few exceptions, but by and large this is true.

This is not to say that most journalists are on the take. In the West this is mostly done in a more subtle way - by making it clear which ideas do or do not pass the editorial control, by lavishly rewarding those journalists who 'get it' and by quietly turning away those who don't.

If a journalist or reporter commits the crime of "crimethink" he or she will be sidelined and soon out of work.

There is no real pluralism in the West where the boundaries of what can be said or not are very strictly fixed.

Ok, but is it like what has been revealed in Germany, …similar specific operational programs in France, the UK, Italy, Latin America, etc.

Yes, one has to assume so – it is in their interests to have them and there is no reason for them not to.

As for the CIA, it de-facto controls enough of the corporate media to "set the tone". As somebody who in the past used to read the Soviet press for a living, I can sincerely say that it was far more honest and more pluralistic than the press in the USA or EU today.

Joseph Goebbels or Edward Bernays could not have imagined the degree of sophistication of modern propaganda machines.

If the US is doing it, can't one assume other governments are too? Are the Russians doing it against western leaders?

I think that all governments try to do that kind of stuff. However, what makes the US so unique it a combination of truly phenomenal arrogance and multi-billion dollar budgets.

The US "deep state" owns the western corporate media which is by far the most powerful media on the planet. Most governments can only do that inside their own country ... to smear a political opponent or discredit a public figure, but they simply do not have the resources to mount an international strategic psyop campaign. This is something only the US can do.

So foreign governments are at a great disadvantage in this arena vis-a-vis the US?

Absolutely.


=======
Saker commentary: 

I want to add here a totally shameless plug for Russia Insider. Guys - keep an eye on what RI is doing. Not only has the editor and publisher, Charles Bausman, assembled a first-rate team of contributors (including several I consider as friends), but the format used by RI is an ideal complement to what I try to do here: whereas I tend to privilege long detailed analyses and a few shorter news items here and there, RI offers a steady stream of news items covering a very wide variety of related topics interspersed with always interesting opinion pieces.  Frankly, I consider this very good and very needed stuff, and a very effective way to debunk the lies of the Empire's main stream media.  Good guys, doing good things, in a good format.  In other words - I consider checking the RI site at least once a day a "must".

Kind regards to all,

The Saker

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ukraine mini-SITREP: very ominous developments

This short post is just to inform you of the latest developments in the war in the Ukraine.

Following the use of a tactical ballistic missile against Donetsk by the Ukies, Zakharchenko has declared that the ceasefire was basically over.

Strelkov has made an official appeal warning that according to this information the Ukies were massing troops in preparation for an attack.  According to Strelkov, the Ukie plan is for a very short and very rapid "push" towards Donestk and the Russian border to make any Novorussian state non-viable and thus to negotiate from a position of force.  True, Strelkov does have a record of exaggerating threats in order to minimize them, but this time there are some strong signs that his analysis is shared by the Russian military, and these signs are the most ominous signs of all.

Russian sources - including the excellent Colonel Cassad blog - report that the voentorg aid-spigot has been fully re-opened including for some major deliveries.  While, of course, I am very happy that the Novorussian resistance is getting much needed equipment (and specialists), this kind of full reopening of the voentorg also indicates to me that the Russian intelligence services have concluded that an attack is very likely, possibly very soon.

I have been following the situation in Banderastan pretty closely and I can only say that the cracks in the regime are visible all over the place.  Whether Poroshenko and his US master's really believe that an attack can succeed (I doubt it) or whether they really want to force Russia into openly intervening (which I see as almost inevitable), the fact is that starting a major war might well be the only way to save the Poroshenko regime which currently is in free fall.

It is quite possible that Strelkov's blunt warning and, even more so, the reopening of the voentorg will convince the Ukies that Russia is ready to intervene and that their attack will not be allowed to succeed.  What concerns me is that the Poroshenko regime (and his CIA patrons) might decide that even a defeat at the hand of the Russian military is preferable to the current death spiral: not only can a war save the regime, a Russian intervention would finally make the AngloZionist dream come true.  Putin will try his utmost to avoid falling into this trap, and that means that Russia will have to provide massive covert support and aid to Novorussia.  As for the Novorussians, they have to be strong enough to stop the initial assault.  If they succeed, then the offensive will be effectively dead. But Strelkov is right, if the Ukie break through the Novorussian lines, then Russia will have to intervene.

This is an extremely dangerous situation.

The Saker

Community "counter-Tsunami" response: fantastic!

Dear friends,

I just wanted to thank you all for the huge response you gave to my appeal yesterday.  Not only did donations come in as never before, you also gave me extremely valuable advice (in both public comments and private emails).  You have also pointed out some mistakes I have made in the past which I shall not repeat again.  

In the very near future, I will write up a response and a plan for the future which I think you will be very happy with. Right now I need to deal with more urgent matters - including some possibly very serious developments in the Ukraine - but I just wanted to thank you all: the miracle of "spontaneous self-organization of people" has happened again and our community - you - are nothing short of absolutely fantastic!!


Kindest regards and thanks to all,

The Saker

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Community brainstorming: I am swimming against a Tsunami

Dear friends,

As I mentioned yesterday, I have come to the conclusion that I need to share with you the problems which I and my blog are having and, frankly, to ask for your help.  I have been trying to avoid this, but several good friends have strongly urged me to do so and time has proven that they were right.

First, I will begin by a short "state of the community" mini-report so we can all see how far we have got and where we all are now.

Since 2007 this blog has been a "one-man show" where one anonymous dude shared his thoughts with an abstract (and very small but also very nice) Internet audience.  The war in the Ukraine changed all that.  From a blog which almost never even mentioned the Ukraine (I was focused mostly on the Middle-East) the Saker Blog rapidly became a 99% Ukraine-centered blog.  Along with that, an explosion in the number of readers happened: while for years I had maybe a couple of hundred visitors (on a good day), this spring it went from hundreds, to thousands, to tens of thousands to the absolute record of just under 70'000 in one day in August.  Then, it slowly tapered off back to a more reasonable 20'000-30'000 per day, depending on the events in the Ukraine: the worse the war, the more readers I got (-: which made me feel like a "war profiteer" :-).  The second huge change which suddenly happened was the the small community around this blog suddenly massively grew in size.  It all began when a wonderful French lady ("C" - encore merci pour tout!!) wrote to tell me that she thought my blog should be translated into French.  I replied "great - but I cannot do it myself".  She said that she would try to find somebody.

A few months later there are now six, soon to be seven (Latin American is almost ready!), independent Saker blogs - all tremendously successful, all with their own large readership and attached YouTube channels.  

Then there are the guest-author's SITREPS: Ukraine, Iraq, Nigeria, Transcarpathia Transnistria and Gagauzia, and Latin America.  Two of them come directly from a war zone and thus depend on the author's personal safety and access to communications.  All of them provide an insider look which is simply not to be found elsewhere.  I consider these SITREPs a fantastic asset to our community.

Furthermore, there are two more recent developments which I am delighted with and which deserve special mention here: Alexander Mercouris has agreed to post his (always excellent) FB commentaries on this blog and I am now a regular contributor to Russia Insider with whom the Saker community can now also collaborate on various issues.  In other words, our community is rapidly growing.  And what all this means is this:

We are making a real difference.  We have established a presence in a record time and the future prospects look nothing short of fantastic.  Furthermore, in this current war the information aspect is at least as important as bullets and guns.  In fact, the Empire spends a lot more on information warfare then on the military hardware actually used.  In other words, while a diverse community of like-minded people like ours has neither the goal or the means to beat the big heavyweights like the AngloZionist media or special services, we are big enough to make a difference and they cannot completely ignore us.  At the very least, we can serve to crash their propaganda about a consensus in their support.  Finally, we can be a people-to-people bridge between the people living under the AngloZionist Empire's rule and the those living in the (truly) "free world" lead by Russia.

I still have to pinch myself from time to time to check whether this is " really real", or this is just a dream (the regular contact I have with the wonderful people working on the other Saker blogs and that I now consider as friends, proves to me that, yes, this is real).

Finally, because of the very high risks of censorship and/or legal attack, I have agreed to move this blog to a new server in a safe(r) jurisdiction (Iceland) and on a privately owned server.  As you know, this important and necessary step has, so far, been less than a success (More about that further below) So let's turn to my problems now.

They can all be summarized in a simple expression: time and money.

The huge growth of this blog and the other independent Saker blogs and of our (now truly worldwide) community did not just happen "like that".  At each step of the way, I had to find the right people, discuss an immense array of issues and, of course, make mistakes and try to learn from them.  I had to cope with at least one major crisis which took a lot of energy to mediate and resolve and I had to deal with a lot of people who promised much but delivered nothing.  I am not complaining about this, but I want you to understand that it all entails a huge number of hours of work to organize and fix.  All the while while producing analyses of the civil war in the Ukraine and moderating one to several hundred comments each day (I had asked two friends to help me with that task, but one concluded that the philosophy of this blog did not make him feel comfortable while the second one simply dumped me with less than a week's notice).

As a result of all these developments, my daily workload for this blog has been exponentially going up throughout the spring, summer and fall.  At the same time, however, donations have been going down.  So let's talk about these donations (sigh, deep breath, plunging).

Those who have been here long enough know that the entire idea of donations came from readers who literally demanded that I create some kind of donation option.  I have to tell you that I have always been extremely uncomfortable and embarrassed taking about money (even writing this makes me feel absolutely terrible) but that I decided to give it try.  To my most absolute amazement, donations began coming in and even in amounts sufficient enough to make a difference in my family's budget.  In fact, without these donations we could not have made it through the summer without sinking further into debt (full disclosure: we have a house and 2 old cars, but no savings, no pension, and plenty of credit card debt).  Over the past couple of months, however, these donations have been steadily decreasing and, frankly, my family and I only pulled it through thanks to one individual from northern Europe who has been helping month after month and without whom I could never have maintained this blog.  Clearly, many supporters are suffering from "donor fatigue" or are also maxed out.

From the beginning of the existence of this blog I always have been reluctant to create categories of readers or to offer some products/services only to paying subscribers.  This is still something I don't want to do.  Still, I am told by friends that I should consider such an option.  In practical terms, we are talking about the possibility of writing a book about Russia based on some of the articles I have posted here and/or making a podcast.  Right now, I have way too much to do just to keep things running, but I could consider these options in the future, especially if my financial situation continues to deteriorate.  At this point in time, however, I cannot add any further activities or ventures to what I have to do every day, not unless I find a way to squeeze 36-48 hours of life into a 24 hour day.  Worse, if I have to take on these ventures just to make ends meet, I will have to dramatically decrease the time spent on this blog and this, right at the time when the Empire's war against Russia is heating up and the Ukraine is about to explode again.  This makes no sense to me.

By the way, I am often accused of being a "paid Putin agent".  Every time I read that I sigh in think "if only that was true...".  The reality is that Vladimir Vladimirovich has not contributed a single kopek to this blog (yet?), nor has any other Russian government, corporate or even private entity.  A few Russian readers have, but I can count them on the fingers of one hand.  Considering the absolutely dismal Russian performance in the current PR war against the western MSM propaganda machine, I am at loss for words to describe this apparent indifference.  I can only surmise that this the "not without honor, except in your own country, and in your own house" phenomenon at work.

If I had a magic wand, I would go back to doing what I think I do best and what most of you would probably want me to do: write analyses for this blog.  But in order to do that, I need to be honest with you and admit to you that I hit a kind of a "wall" and that I need your help.  If you value what you get on this blog then please help me work for this blog in conditions where I can at least preserve my mental health and focus on my writing rather than on my ballooning debt.  I am sorry to be so blunt about this, but at this point I have no other choice.

Then there is the issue of the new blog.

Fundamentally, I think that the decision to move the blog to Iceland is a sound one.  Furthermore, I personally like the new blog a lot, both the design, the visual appearance and the work on it as an author and administrator.  Simply put: WordPress is infinitely better than Blogger.  Furthermore, there is a real risk of being shut down here, on Blogger.  So I see no reasons to question the original idea.  The implementation is, however, a different business.  Here I personally responsible for a number of mistakes.  I will spare you all the technical details, but the bottom line is that for the time being the new blog needs to go back into testing and until it is fixed we all have to only use this blog here, on Blogger, for the foreseeable future.  The new blog will be back and, hopefully, the next time around it will be more solid than the first one.  But for the time being - Blogger is the only option.

The bottom line is this: I need your help.

First, if you have not contributed to this blog in the past, please do.  Right now less than 0.25% of the readers of this blog have sent a donation.  If you have, please consider contributing again or even increasing your contribution.

Second, please let me know what you think of the idea of creating "for purchase" products as opposed to keep everything for free.  Specifically, please let me know if you would be interested in purchasing a book and/or a podcast.  My own preference goes for the former, but you might think otherwise. 

Third, do you have any ideas about fund-raising/crowd-funding?  Are there any amongst you who are knowledgeable about this realm about which I know nothing?  Would any of you offer your time as a volunteer fund-raiser of some type?  What about this idea: can the community support my work by raising funds for me not by sending donations, but literally by creating some kind of fund-raising mechanism?  Seeking out donors amongst friends?  Organizing some kind of mailing list or dedicated website?  Write to Vladimir Vladimirovich and ask for his help (just kidding!)?  Seriously, if you cannot donate or are maxed out - can you help with your brain and, especially, your time?

In other words, while advice about what I could/should do is great, it would be even greater if some of you could actually take it upon themselves to help directly. Right now, I am so overworked that I stopped writing my thesis, stopped all my recreational activities and my daily reading is down to 15min a day max: I have 3 books in the pipeline to review for this blog, and I had only enough time to read 3/4 of the first one...

Fourth, please forgive me all the problems with the new server and the back and fourth between the old and new one.  For the time being, let's stay here and if suddenly I get shut down by Blogger - then go to any of the other Saker blogs (which are all safely hosted in Iceland) until the new blog is fixed.

Fifth and last, but most definitely not least - do you have any other suggestions or ideas? I really hope that this appeal to the community will generate one (or several) solutions. So far, what I call the "spontaneous self-organization of people" has been nothing short of miraculous for me and since the friend I mentioned yesterday did write "We can fix everything except you" I have decided to honestly lay out in front of "all of y'alls" (as they say in Florida) the stuff I am struggling with and which destroys my peace of mind.


Right now, I have the feeling that I am swimming against a Tsunami and I am losing the strength to do so very fast.  Please think about it all and if you can help, in any form, please do.

I would prefer if you posted your reactions/ideas/suggestions here, but feel free to also email me if you prefer.  I will probably not have the time to respond individually to most (or even any) of your comments/emails, but I will try as best I can.  And I will definitely read every single with the greatest attention.

For the rest of the week, I will probably post less as I will be working on many of these behind-the-scenes problems, but since I left you with two *truly* world-class articles to consider (Strelkov's reply to Khodorkovsky and the Glaziev - Khazin press conference) and since the "questions to Khazin" are still being collected until Friday, I trust that this is fair enough.  Of course, in case of critical developments I will set everything aside and keep you posted as best I can.

Okay, readers and friends, your turn now.  Please help in any way you can.

Thanks and kind regards to all,

The Saker

October Nigeria SITREP (Boko Haram)

by 'Fulan Nasrullah'

A few salient points on the so called Ceasefire:

1. There is no ceasefire between the trio of Jamaa'atu Ahlis-Sunnah ('Alal-Haqq) of Sheikh Bukar, Ansorul-Muslimiin Harakatul-Muhajiriin, and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
These groups have been engaged in a heavy battles with the Cameroonians on their side of the Mandara Mountains, and they agreed to a temporary cessation of hostilities with Cameroon in several sectors along the border. Part of that agreement was the release of the Chinese an Cameroonian hostages held by Harakatul-Muhajiriin and Ansorul-Muslimiin.

2. This ceasefire between the insurgents and Cameroon was reached despite the objections of Khalid Al-Barnawi because the insurgents had suffered heavy losses in recent battles on the Cameroonian front.
Sources estimate as much as a thousand to fifteen hundred fighters died in a month of fighting in the Adamawa Mountains.

3. Cameroon agreed to this ceasefire because it too had suffered heavy losses in the fight against the insurgents, and it faced an escalation of the fighting and a spread of the conflict out of the border areas where the violence has been contained within to its southern population areas (the Afghanistan Scenario I.e suicide bombings, mass scale terror attacks on civilians in the country's hinterland etc).

4. Cameroon has no interest in wiping out Boko Haram as long as the insurgents remain contained across the border inside Nigeria.
The Cameroonians only view Boko Haram as a threat because the insurgents have been using their territory as a rear base area and have been recruiting Cameroonians in their thousands to fight in the war in Nigeria. This opens the door to such Cameroonian recruits returning home to launch their own jihad against Paul Biya and his regime.
So seeing an opportunity to move the fighting back into Nigeria and preserve the peace in its territory, Yaoundé jumped at it.

5. The Insurgents expansion campaigns were stalled because they underestimated the Cameroonian resolve to keep the fighting out of Cameroon and they ended up diverting resources from their territorial expansion campaigns to fighting the Cameroonians.

6. A ceasefire was asked for by the Nigerian Government and was rejected by all the factions except Shekau's faction.

7. The ceasefire agreement reached in N'Djadmena the Chadian capital between Jamaa'tu Ahlis-Sunnah of Shekau had no fixed operational limit attached to it.

8. The Nigerian negotiators asked for the Shekau Faction delegation to bear a message to Shekau that the Nigerian President was seeking to negotiate a permanent solution to this crisis with the insurgents. This same message was sent through Chadian and Cameroonian intelligence channels to the other three factions. ALL THE FACTIONS rejected the offer of comprehensive negotiations, with Shekau's Faction saying that Abubakar Shekau was only interested in a temporary ceasefire.

9. Contrary to Federal Government claims there was no agreement to release the Chibok girls as Shekau does not hold them. Shekau holds hundreds possibly thousands of women kidnapped by his foot soldiers across Yobe and Borno States, but he doesn't hold the Chibok girls and he holds no territory in that area at all. Rather Shekau's Faction promised to intercede with Ansorul-Muslimiin who are the ones holding the girls to secure their release..

The Federal Government has been trying to portray the ceasefire agreement it reached with Shekau's faction as a political victory. Boko Haram is not a monolithic entity rather it is an ideological movement with for factions only one of whom reached a ceasefire with the Government. Despite this so called ceasefire there was fighting <a href="http:// https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/169793-despite-ceasefire-claims-soldiers-kill-25-boko-haram-militants-in-damboa.html">around military positions in the areas close to Damboa Town</a> (Propaganda aside, insurgents still control Damboa). This fighting was between fighters of the other three factions and the Nigerian Army.

Will the ceasefire lead to a change on the ground? Not much. Most of the ground fighting in the really active war theatres of Southern Borno and Adamawa has been conducted by the other three factions, with Shekau's faction facing a difficult transition from a terrorist/guerrilla army to a conventional force in Yobe and Northern Borno. Not much fighting has taken place in the Shekau faction's area of operations recently.

With the other three factions rejecting any ceasefire negotiations there will definitely be more fighting in the Southern Borno-Adamawa axis as they are not bound by the ceasefire agreement between the Nigerian Government and Shekau. Although the rate at which the insurgents (the trio factions) launch attack would be reduced as they try to reap benefits from the temporary pause in their campaign in Cameroon.

Note On My Absence.
I am unfortunately not always available these days to write as much as I want to. My time is limited and I am in an area where I am often cut off from internet facilities, thanks to the so called Counter Insurgency Campaign in North East Nigeria and I often have to rely on Cameroonian communications networks that are received over the border, to talk to the outside world.


FN.