BREXIT OR BRITIN?
29 fevereiro, 2016
BREXIT OR BRITIN?
BREXIT OR BRITIN?
in “THE ECONOMIST” at www.economist.com
This year will be marked by the British referendum on the United Kingdom’s staying in or leaving the European Union (EU). It is difficult to overstate the importance of a vote that will determine the fate of the 2nd largest country in the EU and whether or not the EU will see its membership diminish for the first time ever.
Two things are evident: the majority of the British establishment supports the “In” vote and the other 27 member states also want the UK to stay. However, it is for neither of these groups to decide the outcome of the referendum. That will be for the British citizenry to decide, and they clearly have not made up their minds yet.
The “Stay” (or Britin) side, which is led by David Cameron and is also supported by Labour, the Liberals and the main Welsh and Scottish parties, will hail the agreement reached this month by Cameron in Brussels as guaranteeing enough concessions and changes as to reforming the EU to a certain extent and assuring a special status for the UK in the EU.
Amongst the former, there is the increase in competitiveness, the red tape cutting (both staple promises seldom fulfilled), the protection of the rights and interests of non-euro countries and the red card, the supposedly veto power given to national parliaments over EU legislation. As for the latter, the Stayers will point to the exemption London guaranteed concerning the elusive “ever closer union” mantra and concessions on welfare payments to immigrants.
On the other hand, the “Leave” (or Brexit) camp, will stress the harm of Brussels’ smothering bureaucracy and its encroaching on British independence and sovereignty. Furthermore, they will present Mr Cameron’s deal with the other 27 states as nothing short of insignificant, noting that there is no real “sovereignty devolution” to Westminster. The Leavers will naturally be led by London’s Mayor and Conservative M.P. Boris Johnson, other Conservative heavyweights like Justice Secretary Michael Gove and, of course, the UKIP led by Nigel Farage and Douglas Carswell.
David Cameron’s gamble: will it pay off?
in “THE ECONOMIST” at www.economist.com
The Britin camp will be favoured by the electorates’ tendency to vote conservatively in a referendum, i.e., choosing the supposedly safer option, the known one as opposed to the unknown. Their strategy will also be very much based on fearmongering about the mortal dangers involved in exiting the EU. Connected to this is the idea that the UK will stand to lose a lot economically if she leaves. Finally, they will be led by a Prime Minister who has recently been re-elected with an outstanding victory at the polls.
The Brexit camp will benefit by the agreement’s obvious shortcomings: there is no real reform of the EU, there is no real downsizing of the Brussels bureaucratic monster’s power and dimension, there is no real significant sovereignty devolution to London (no repatriation of EU social and employment laws, for instance) and there is no discernible contagion to other member states who seemingly are done with the EU’s overreach. Brexit will have the an and of counting with the support of most of the press which is strongly anti-EU. Finally, they will be counting on the natural aversion to the EU, a feeling which seems to be ingrained in a large part of the population.
In the end, the UK did extract some concessions in the deal and Britin will be able to extoll its benefits pointing that it would be difficult to have gone farther. This may be true, but it is really not a good deal: it was designed to attain the minimum standards so that Cameron could uphold it in the campaign trail and to prove that the 27 made a real effort to keep Great Britain in the fold.
That, however, falls very short of the goal of EU reform and sovereignty devolution. For that, Mr. Cameron would have to drive a much harder bargain, to spend much more time, diplomatic effort and cajoling and political capital, especially to engage with countries that might be more receptive to contain and reverse the EU’s overstretch.
Mr. Cameron chose instead to wrap up a deal as soon as possible for electoral expediency, convinced that the later the referendum were held, the worse his prospects would be. But his haste has weakened his case, opening his flank to corrosive attacks from Brexit.
By the Summer solstice we shall know if Mr. Cameron’s gambit paid off, or if both the United Kingdom and himself will be out.
20 fevereiro, 2016
TIRO TURCO PELA CULATRA
Neste mapa, além da concentração do esforço bélico da Rússia no Noroeste, especialmente em Alepo, e no Leste contra o Estado Islâmico em Deir ez-Zour, pode ver-se, a roxo, o território controlado pelos Curdos e a rosa a área controlada pelo Governo.
in “BUSINESS INSIDER” em http://www.businessinsider.com/russia-assad-turkey-syria-rebels-aleppo-2016-2
Como é sabido, a Força Aérea Turca abateu um avião russo de ataque ao solo (Su-24) no final de Novembro, naquilo que terá sido uma tentativa de demonstração de força da Turquia face à intervenção da Rússia na Guerra da Síria.
Volvidos menos de 3 meses, constata-se que o tiro saiu pela culatra aos Turcos, pois a Turquia encontra-se numa posição extremamente enfraquecida no teatro de guerra sírio. Senão, vejamos:
1- A Turquia há muito que almeja estabelecer uma safe zone em território sírio ao longo da sua fronteira. Com o pretexto de proteger refugiados e rebeldes, a Turquia asseguraria o controlo de uma parcela de território da Síria e posicionar-se-ia melhor para influenciar os acontecimentos na Síria do pós-guerra e prosseguir a sua agenda.
2- Após o derrube do Su-24, a Rússia reforçou o seu dispositivo militar na Síria, nomeadamente com o envio de mais aviões de superioridade aérea Su-35, equipando os caças-bombardeiros Su-34 com mísseis ar-ar e instalando quatro sofisticadas baterias antiaéreas S-400 na base aérea de Hemeimeem, na província de Latakia.
Baterias de mísseis S-400 instaladas no Noroeste da Síria.
3- A Rússia já deixou claro que, se a aviação turca entrar em espaço aéreo sírio, não hesitará em abater os aviões. E tem os meios e a motivação para o fazer.
4- A Rússia intensificou os bombardeamentos no Norte da Síria, nomeadamente na região de Alepo, atacando, entre outros, os aliados de Ancara no terreno e apoiando as ofensivas terrestres das forças governamentais sírias e dos seus aliados do Irão, Líbano e Iraque. Tal resultou em sucessivos desaires e recuos dos rebeldes e num acesso cada vez mais dificultado da Turquia a Alepo.
5- O YPG (People's Protection Units), a milícia curda síria ligada ao partido União Democrática Curda (PYD), tem feito notáveis progressos militares no terreno, à custa do Estado Islâmico (IS) e de outras forças rebeldes. Extraordinariamente, o YPG conta com o apoio dos Estados Unidos e da Rússia. Daqueles devido ao combate que tem feito ao IS e desta porque o sucesso dos Curdos é um desaire para a Turquia.
Com os avanços das forças governamentais e dos Curdos e a assertividade da Rússia no teatro do conflito, a Turquia vê os seus planos hipotecados:
* Desde 2011 que Recip Erdogan exige e pressiona o derrube de Al-Assad e não há sinais de que tal venha a acontecer a curto prazo.
* O Governo Turco já declarou inúmeras vezes que não aceita uma região autónoma curda na Síria (e muito menos um estado independente), mas as forças curdas já dominam a maior parte do território sírio contíguo à Turquia.
* O Governo Turco queria fazer sentir a sua presença no terreno para impor uma solução política e militar que lhe fosse favorável e os Russos vedaram-lhe essa possibilidade.
O desespero da Turquia está bem patente nas constantes ameaças de envio de tropas para a Síria, acompanhadas de pedidos para os EUA participarem nessa missão, reconhecimento de que não são capazes de o fazer por si. Tal também se nota nos ataques de artilharia desencadeados nos últimos dias contra forças curdas na Síria que revelam a incapacidade dos aliados sírios da Turquia para travar o YPG e o quanto as vitórias militares dos Curdos incomodam Ancara.
Aliás, a ascensão geopolítica da Turquia sob Erdogan caracteriza-se pela retórica impante e pela impotência na praxis. Foi assim em Gaza, no Egipto, na Síria e na gestão das convulsões e oportunidades da Primavera Árabe.
A única excepção é a violência dirigida contra os Curdos, seja na Turquia, no Iraque, ou na Síria. Quando pela frente estão Russos, Iranianos, ou Israelitas, Ancara não tem conseguido ir além da bravata.
Em retrospectiva, o ataque ao Su-24 Russo foi um erro com graves consequências estratégicas para a Turquia. O tiro do F-16 Turco, saiu pela culatra a Ancara.
P.S. No dia 4 de Dezembro de 2015 publiquei o post 17 Seconds (http://tempos-interessantes.blogspot.pt/2015/12/17-seconds.html ) no qual escrevi que o ataque ao avião russo was a serious military and diplomatic incident, one more factor further poisoning and complicating the damned Syrian battle space. E concluí o post dizendo que The near future will tell us the value and the cost of those 17 seconds. Tal como então previa, o xadrez sírio tornou-se mais complexo, imprevisível e perigoso e o preço dos 17 segundos revela-se bem pesado.
15 fevereiro, 2016
SYRIA: HERE WE GO!
There is a significant number of people in the American political, media and academic circles, who just cannot stop advocating a strong US military intervention in Syria. These people simply cannot conceive of a conflict going on somewhere without American participation.
The messy and dangerous Syrian battlefield.
in STRATFOR at www.stratfor.com
These people fit into two broad categories: one is the Republican hawks who believe the United States should go, guns blazing, and obliterate any conceivable enemy or threat to US national security and they are very good at finding (or inventing) these threats. The other are Democrats whom Katrina Vanden Heuvel labelled “liberal Indispensable Nation advocates” (https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/sanders-should-challenge-the-foreign-policy-status-quo/2016/02/09/ca5052e0-ce92-11e5-b2bc-988409ee911b_story.html?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_opinions ), who believe the US should take (their) moral high ground and go, guns blazing, on a quest to right the world’s wrongs; they are also very good at identifying countless situations where they think US troops can save the world.
Yesterday, I read an article by two American professors in “The Washington Post” https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-era-of-us-abdication-on-syria-must-end/2016/02/09/55226716-ce96-11e5-88cd-753e80cd29ad_story.html?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_opinions ) who fall in the latter category. These people are desperate for the United States to fully join the chaotic Syrian fray and the fight going on in Aleppo is their latest pretext. They describe the horrors of war and then go on with the usual moral grandstanding:
There is a path toward ending the horror in Aleppo — a perfectly realistic path that would honor our highest ideals, a way to recover our moral standing as well as our strategic position.
Unfortunately, the realities on the ground do not have any compassion for from the couch moralistic solemn statements and melodramatic whining, meaning that it is far from clear that American troops on the ground are the antidote to mayhem in Aleppo, or to anywhere in Syria, Iraq, Libya, or Yemen, for that matter.
They go on to admonish that If the Russians and Syrians sought to prevent humanitarian protection and resupply of the city, they would face the military consequences. So, their “realistic path” entails the possibility of transforming the Syrian War into a war between the United States and Russia! Way to go. Save (???) Aleppo, and engage in great power conflict.
Of course, the authors go on hopefully saying that the Russians would chicken out under threat. Unfortunately, from their point of view, given what we have seen from Moscow and Washington these last few years, it is far from clear that that would be the outcome.
Nevertheless, the bottom line is that the risk of a major mishap is too great, the probability of failure is even greater and there could be dire consequences.
I have the greatest sympathy for the suffering and hardship of the war’s innocent victims and I wish their terrible ordeal could be over immediately. However, there are a few things one has to bear in mind.
1- Leading a state, especially in wartime, is a huge responsibility and frequently, not all goals can be achieved. Then, there has to be a selection of the most important, the most attainable and the least risky, all taking into account the national interest. And, in the harsh world of Power Politics, morals do not and cannot always take centre stage.
2- An American intervention would aggravate the conflict in terms of scope, violence and victims, not to mention the possibility of evolving into a much more serious conflict.
Those who defend American armed intervention anytime, anywhere, against anyone to satisfy their personal and public goals and sensitivities, suffer from a dangerous mix of hubris, naiveté and fanaticism. Their relentless lobby and pressure for armed intervention is a liability for the United States and the world.