This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com.
- Sunni leaders snub Shia-led Iraq at Arab League summit
- Iraq accuses Sunni nations of forming an ‘anti-Iran alliance’
- The Middle East is waiting for a ‘new baby’
- Azerbaijan grants Israel access to air bases on Iran’s border
- Rumors grow of an Israeli attack on Iran from Azerbaijan
- A dangerous power struggle may be growing in China’s leadership
- Problems in Greece, Italy and Spain revive the euro debt crisis
- America suspends food air to North Korea over missile launch
- Toulouse murderer buried in France after Algeria refuses body
Sunni leaders snub Shia-led Iraq at Arab League summit
The crisis in Syria is creating powerful sectarian splits among members of the Arab League. The split is between countries Iraq and Syria that are close to Iran (and Lebanon has to be partially included because of Hizbollah) on the one hand, and the Sunni-led Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries on the other hand. In a snub to Iraq, only 10 heads of state from the Arab League’s 22 members attended Thursday’s Arab League meeting, with the rest sending lower-level officials. Especially notable were the absences of the rulers of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and most other Gulf countries, as well Morocco and Jordan — all of them headed by Sunni monarchs who deeply distrust the close ties between Iraq’s Shia-dominated government and their top regional rival, Iran. AP
Iraq accuses Sunni nations of forming an ‘anti-Iran alliance’
This was the first time that Iraq has hosted an Arab League meeting since 1990. Iraq has been shunned since then, first because of Iraq’s (Saddam Hussein’s) invasion of Arab neighbor Kuwait in 1991, leading to America’s Iraq war, and then because of Iraq’s close relations with Iran.
In interviews on Al-Jazeera on Thursday, Iraq accused the GCC nations, particularly Saudi Arabia, of forming an “anti-Iran alliance.” GCC officials responded that the split between the GCC and Iran goes far beyond simply Sunni/Shia differences. They pointed to aggressive Iranian interfering in Arab affairs — Iran’s support for the anti-government protests in Yemen and Bahrain, Iranian spies in Kuwait and threats to close the Straits of Hormuz. They also pointed out that Iran is interfering heavily in Iraq itself, quoting statistics that 20% of all Iranian visitors to Iraq belong to Iran’s Revolution Guard.
The Middle East is waiting for a ‘new baby’
When asked about Arab policy towards Israel, the response was, “There is no doubt that Israel is the major enemy. But when you have weak governments in all of the Mideast, then how can you face your enemy.” He pointed to the chaotic situations throughout the Mideast — in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Syria, and said, “The Middle East is waiting for a new baby — a new regime — that will unite the Arab countries, but that has not come yet. Al-Jazeera
Azerbaijan grants Israel access to air bases on Iran’s border
According a report leaked by the Obama administration, Azerbaijan is granting access to its air bases near the border with Iran. Relations between Azerbaijan and Iran are already extremely tense, and its increasingly close relationship with Israel is increasing the tension. In February, Israel signed a $1.6 billion arms deal with Azerbaijan, committing to sell drones and anti-aircraft missile defense systems to Baku. According to a retired U.S. diplomat, the deal left Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan “sputtering in rage,” since Israel had previously canceled a contract to develop drones with the Turkish military. Haaretz
Rumors grow of an Israeli attack on Iran from Azerbaijan
The news that Azerbaijan is making air bases available to Israel is prompting rumors that Israel is planning to use the bases to launch a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev was forced to issue a statement saying, “Azerbaijan’s territory will never be used to launch an attack against its neighbor, Iran.” Jerusalem Post and Israel National News
Problems in Greece, Italy and Spain revive the euro debt crisis
Despite two bailouts totaling $325 billion, a $134 billion write-down in debt, crushing pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions, the coming firing of 150,000 workers, reducing the minimum wage 22-32 percent, phasing out collective bargaining rights for workers and the onset of deep pay cuts in the private sector as well, Greece may still have to restructure its debt again with the help of European governments, according to an analyst at Standard & Poor’s ratings on Thursday. On the same day, it became apparent that investors are increasingly betting that the debt crisis will spread to Spain and Italy, as demand for those two countries’ bonds dropped precipitously, pushing ten-year bond yields (interest rates) up to around 5.5%, an unsustainable level. By comparison, Germany’s 10-year bond yields fell to 1.8%. Spain was particularly hard hit because of a nationwide strike protesting austerity measures. Unions said that 77% of Spanish workers took part in the strike. Bloomberg and Greek Reporter
America suspends food air to North Korea over missile launch
Because of North Korea’s plans to launch a long-range missile test, just a few weeks after signing an agreement not to conduct either nuclear tests nor missile tests, the U.S. says that it is suspending its food aid to North Korea. Reuters
A dangerous power struggle may be growing in China’s leadership
On March 19, rumors spread rapidly across the internet that a coup was in progress in Beijing. Government censors quickly deleted the messages, but that reaction only fueled the rumors further. The pictures of tanks and such that fueled the rumors have since been shown to be old, there is still a bitter power struggle going on in China. On the one hand, you have the current leaders, Hu Jintao and Wen Jiaboa, survivors of Mao’s bloody Communist Revolution and, like America’s Silent Generation, these leaders are mediators and are seek political reform and increased democracy in China. On the other hand, you have a group of younger individuals, led by now-deposed 62-year-old Bo Xilai the popular party chairman in Chongqing, a city of 32 million on the Yangtze River in central China. Bo has been leading a popular new Maoist revolution. He encouraged the citizens of Chongqing to revive the custom of singing revolutionary songs in the city’s parks. He had thousands of corrupt officials and underworld figures arrested. And he helped the poor by forgiving their school fees and providing them with inexpensive apartments. His popularity has alarmed the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership, who have demoted Bo to a lower position. However, Bo has a powerful constituency of supporters, so we may hear a lot more from Bo, especially in 2012, the year for the scheduled selection of the top CCP leadership. Spiegel
I’ve been writing for several years that China is overdue for a new national civil war. (See “China approaches Civil War” from 2005.) China’s history is full of massive civil war rebellions, such as the White Lotus Rebellion (1796-1805) and the Taiping Rebellion (1852-1869), killing millions or tens of millions of people. These occur at regular intervals, with each new one occurring at about the time that the survivors of the preceding one die off. The last of these rebellions was Mao’s Communist Revolution (1934-49), and now it’s time for the next one. I had always suggested that a new Chinese rebellion might be spontaneous, an outgrowth of the tens or hundreds of thousands of “mass incidents” that occur throughout China every year. But Bo Xilai is the first figure to come forth who might be popular enough to be the “new Mao,” leading a new rebellion.
Toulouse murderer buried in France after Algeria refuses body
Mohammed Merah, the gunman blamed for seven killings in the south of France this month, was buried Thursday evening near the southwestern city of Toulouse. French officials and Merah’s family had hoped to return the body to Algeria, for fear that his grave site would become a shrine, but Algeria refused to allow the body into the country. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that he would prefer that Merah be buried without further debate. “He was French, let him be buried and let’s not create any controversy about it,” he said. CNN