World View: Iraq's PM al-Maliki Orders Troops and Tanks into Baghdad

World View: Iraq's PM al-Maliki Orders Troops and Tanks into Baghdad

This morning’s key headlines from

  • China rebukes John Kerry’s South China Sea ‘freeze’ proposal
  • Belarus to be the big winner in Russia’s food import ban
  • Iraq’s PM al-Maliki orders troops and tanks into Baghdad

China rebukes John Kerry’s South China Sea ‘freeze’ proposal

At a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN),China firmly rejected a proposal by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerryto “freeze” all activity in the South China Sea. According to theproposal, China, Vietnam, the Philippines, and other nations wouldfreeze all activity that raises tension in the South China Sea. 

China has been pursuing a “salami slicing strategy” to annex SouthChina Sea territories belonging to other countries. China has annexedseveral islands and shoals in the South China Sea belonging to Vietnamand the Philippines and is threatening to annex other territoriesbelonging to Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Japan. 

An unnamed senior U.S. official said ASEAN countries’ concern overChina’s maritime actions was at an “all-time high” based on privateconversations, although their public statements were more guarded toavoid antagonizing China. 

China’s foreign minister Wang Yi blamed the United States forstirring up trouble: 

Someone has been exaggerating or even playing up theso-called tension in the South China Sea. We do not agree withsuch a practice. We have already found a method to solve thisissue between China and Asean countries. The South China Sea hasbecome stabilized now. No other issues have risenrecently.

Yi said that China will continue to exercise restraint, but willrespond to provocations unequivocally and resolutely. He added thatsafeguarding its sovereignty over the South China Sea is unshakable. 

As usual, John Kerry was in his own dream bubble and claimed that theASEAN meeting was a setback for China, because the final statementcalled for stepped-up talks with China. Kerry said that thecommunique’s language “goes far enough” despite China’s rebuff of thefreeze proposal.Xinhua and Eleven (Myanmar/Burma) and VOA

Belarus to be the big winner in Russia’s food import ban

Last week, Russia retaliated against western sanctions with a sweepingban on food imports — meat and poultry, seafood, milk and dairyproducts including cheese, fruit, vegetables and vegetable oil-basedproducts — from countries that have imposed their own sanctions onRussia for the annexation of Crimea, including the U.S., EuropeanUnion, Australia, and Norway. 

Belarus is planning to help the Russian people. According to aBelarus official: “We can make up for many Western-made food products.We can supply a variety of cheeses… we can replace Polish applesand Dutch potatoes, we have them all.” 

However, Belarus already has a record of reselling European goods toRussia with a Belarusian label in order to avoid Russian importduties on European goods. This underground activity is expected toexpand substantially under the European food import ban. Moscow Times

Iraq’s PM al-Maliki orders troops and tanks into Baghdad

Security forces, tanks, and Shia militia have surged into the streetsof Baghdad after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki gave a surprisenationally televised speech accusing President Fuad Masum, a Kurd, ofattempting a coup to prevent him from running for a third term.Al-Maliki has been under tremendous international pressure to stepdown, because he’s been a divisive figure in his harsh treatment ofSunnis since the withdrawal of American forces in December 2011. Evensome of his allies recently have called for him to step down. 

The exact reasons why al-Maliki called the troops and security forcesinto Baghdad are unclear, but the move is being declared as “ominous.”At least, the troops are intended to be intimidating, but they mayalso mean that al-Maliki is going to declare martial law in case hefails. Several days ago, he said that any attempt to form agovernment without him would open the “gates of hell” in Iraq. 

The increasing political chaos in Iraq comes just days after PresidentObama announced a campaign of air strikes in Iraq, possibly tocontinue for months, to prevent genocide of tens of thousands ofminorities and to aid the Kurdish Peshmerga militias from attacks byIslamic State. Obama has vowed that there will be no American “boots on theground,” but a number of analysts on Sunday expressed skepticism thathe would be able to keep that promise. Daily Sabah (Istanbul) and CNN and Reuters

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, China, John Kerry, South China Sea,ASEAN, Association of South East Asian Nations,Vietnam, Philippines, salami slicing strategy, Wang Yi,Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Crimea,Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki, Fuad Masum, Peshmerga 

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