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Showing posts from November 21, 2013

The Wahhabi-Likudnik War Of Terror

By Pepe Escobar

- "Asia Times" - -- The double suicide bombing targeting the Iranian embassy in Beirut - with at least 23 people killed and 170 wounded - was a de facto terror attack happening on 11/19. Numerology-wise, naturally 9/11 comes to mind; and so the case of the Washington-declared war on terror metastasizing - largely conducted by oozy forms of Saudi "intelligence".

Yet don't expect the "West" to condemn this as terror. Look at the headlines; it's all normalized as "blasts" - as if children were playing with firecrackers.

Whether carried out by a hazy al-Qaeda-linked brigade or by Saudi spy chief Bandar bin Sultan's (aka Bandar Bush's) goons, the Beirut terror attack is essentially configured as a major, Saudi-enabled provocation. The larger Saudi agenda in Syria implies getting both Hezbollah and Iran to be pinned down inside Lebanon as well. If that happens, Israel also wins. Once again, here's another graphic ill…

Taiwan's Dwindling Alliances

On Nov. 18, Taipei cut diplomatic ties with Gambia three days after Gambian President Yahya Jammeh announced he would cut ties with Taiwan. Gambia is the first nation to cease its recognition of Taiwan since President Ma Ying-jeou took power in 2008. Though it was unexpected, the move follows a series of similar decisions among Taiwan's 22 other allies at a time when Taipei has been rebalancing its relations with China. Earlier in November, Sao Tome and Principe announced it would establish a trade mission to China to boost bilateral economic cooperation. This follows several requests believed to have been made by some Central American nations to re-establish diplomatic ties with China. Beijing supposedly turned down their offers because it did not want to disrupt what progress it had made in improving cross-strait relations with Taiwan. It also wanted to retain some leverage over Taipei in case the current detente falls apart.

The withdrawal of diplomatic relations with Gambia -- …

How the U.S.-Iranian Talks Could Affect Nagorno-Karabakh

Armenian military scouts outside Yerevan on Nov. 5. (KAREN MINASYAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


The effects of the ongoing negotiations between Washington and Tehran are rippling through Iran's broader neighborhood, and the shifting strategic climate has spurred diplomatic engagement among several countries over ancillary issues. On Nov. 19, for example, talks were held between Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his Armenian counterpart, Serzh Sarkisian, over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh -- the first efforts to resolve the long-standing conflict since Russian-mediated discussions in January 2012. Though Sarkisian said the talks proceeded normally and would continue, the issue has long been an intractable one for the two countries and many previous attempts at a settlement have failed. However, the move toward a U.S.-Iranian rapprochement may disrupt the status quo on Nagorno-Karabakh and other regional issues as well.

Analysis


A tense standoff between Armenia and Az…

China's Plans to Revise Its National Accounting System

People pass a construction site in Beijing on Nov. 18. (WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


New methods in China's national accounting system will better reflect the country's economic and social realities and help Beijing implement reforms while also softening the impact of slower economic growth down the line. The Chinese National Bureau of Statistics announced the changes, which were decided upon following the recently concluded Third Plenum, on Nov. 16. The new methodology will result in an upward revision of Chinese gross domestic product as the country's leadership attempts to change the public's expectations and emphasize the importance of moving beyond a focus on gross domestic product as the main measure of economic performance.

The announced changes came less than a week after a key policy document was released by the Third Plenum. The document, which offered a blueprint for the country's next phase of reform, stressed the need to phase out the traditional…

Spain: The Rajoy Roller-Coaster Ride Continues

Wednesday marked the second anniversary of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's victory in the country's 2011 general elections -- an event that opened one of the most turbulent periods of recent Spanish history. Since then, unemployment has reached record levels, corruption scandals have eroded popular support for mainstream political parties, Catalan nationalism has surged, public spending has been gutted and troubled banks have needed to be rescued. Recently, however, exports recovered, interest rates on sovereign debt dropped and Spain timidly exited from a long recession.

Upon taking office, Rajoy was quickly forced to embrace a reality facing most politicians: Governments operate within concrete political and economic constraints, and some of his campaign promises would need to be scrapped. The new prime minister had pledged not to raise taxes or use public money to assist banks in distress. These vows evaporated once Madrid implemented substantial spending cuts and tax…