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World View: Far-Left Greece Election Victory May Trigger Confrontation with Europe

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Far-left Greece election victory may trigger confrontation with Europe
  • Villagers evacuated after gunfire exchange in Kashmir on India-Pakistan border
  • Israel cuts payments to Palestinians in retaliation for ICC bid

Far-left Greece election victory may trigger confrontation with Europe

Torn euro flag from Greece austerity protests in January 2013
Torn euro flag from Greece austerity protests in January 2013

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has reportedly said that she’s prepared to support Greece leaving the eurozone and returning to its original drachma currency if Greece abandons the austerity commitments it made in return for the 240 billion euro bailout that has already been paid. During previous Greek crisis events, it was feared that Greece leaving the eurozone would completely destabilize the euro currency, but reportedly Merkel believes that the euro has become sufficiently strong to withstand a Greek exit.

The new crisis may be precipitated with the snap elections on January 25. The radical far-left Syriza party, led by Alexis Tsipras, is now ahead in the polls, at 30.4%. Tsipras has promised to renege on Greece’s austerity commitments. He also promised to do away with a real estate tax, freeze house foreclosures, raise the minimum wage and reinstate a 12,000 euro ($14,400) tax-free threshold to help low earners.

How would Tsipras like to pay for all these enormous social programs? There’s going to be a policy meeting of the European Central Bank (ECB) on January 22. At that meeting, there may be an announced plan for the ECB to “print money” by purchasing billions of dollars in government bonds (quantitative easing). In that case, Tsipras would like the ECB to purchase billions of dollars worth of worthless Greek bonds, so that Greece can use that money to pay for all the welfare handouts. I can just imagine Angela Merkel agreeing to that scenario. This is shaping up to be quite a spectacle. Deutsche Welle and Kathimerini

Villagers evacuated after gunfire exchange in Kashmir on India-Pakistan border

It’s once again necessary to evacuate villagers near the India-Pakistan border in Kashmir and Jammu, after gunfire was exchanged this week between Indian and Pakistani forces. Two people, including a 13-year-old girl, were killed and eight more injured in several incidents, with casualties on both sides.

Kashmir was a major battleground for the 1947 Partition war that followed the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan, one of the bloodiest wars of the last century, and there have been two more wars fought across the Line of Control (LoC) separating Pakistan and India since then. There have been gunfire incidents across the LoC for years, though it’s been relatively peaceful since a cease-fire agreement in 2003. However, as we reported in October, there was a new round of gunfire, the worst in years. At that time, Pakistan said that Indian forces resorted to “unprovoked firing,” while India blamed Pakistan for firing first, and promised “effective retaliation.”

With regard to this week’s new fighting, India’s military said:

Pakistani troops resorted to unprovoked and heavy firing and mortar shelling on posts and civilian areas along [the border]. [Border Security Force] troops gave a befitting reply.

In response, Pakistan’s military accused India of an unprovoked barrage of artillery, and the Defense Ministry issued a threat:

In the past six-seven months, we have tried to better our ties with India so that peace can prevail. But it seems that they do not understand this language. I believe, we will now communicate with India in the language they understand.

The thing that has definitely changed in the last six-seven months is that both sides are significantly hardening their positions, and exhibiting a willingness to shoot first and ask questions later. India Times and Kashmir Watch

Israel cuts payments to Palestinians in retaliation for ICC bid

The decision by Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas last week to apply on behalf of the State of Palestine to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) has brought retaliation, as originally promised by Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel is withholding $175 million in tax collections from the PA. This is money that Israel collects administratively on behalf of the PA in taxes and fees. The amount being withheld is the collections from December.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat called the move an act of “piracy” and a “collective punishment” against the Palestinian people:

If Israel thinks that through economic pressure it will succeed in diverting our approach from freedom and independence, then it is wrong. This is the money of the Palestinian people and Israel is not a donor country.

Israel’s left-wing opposition was also critical of the move, saying, “Netanyahu has no real solution to Israel’s deteriorating situation on the world stage. Whoever is weak in the face of (Palestinian President Abbas) and fails to act to take steps that will protect IDF soldiers in The Hague cannot really stop this trend.” They’re opposing Netanyahu in the upcoming elections, and recommending negotiating with Hamas, rather than with Mahmoud Abbas.

There’s a feeling of déjà vu in this situation. In December 2012, Israel withheld $100 million in tax revenues from the PA in retaliation when Mahmoud Abbas applied to the United Nations General Assembly to create a state of Palestine with non-member observer status. However, the tax payments were reinstated shortly afterwards. AP and YNet

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Germany, Angela Merkel, Greece, Syriza, Alexis Tspiras, European Central Bank, Pakistan, India, Kashmir, Jammu, Line of Control, Israel, Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, International Criminal Court, ICC, Benjamin Netanyahu
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