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Fri, 24 Nov 2017
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Putin should, and probably will, run again for President

No sign of anyone else being prepared for the post, and with the international situation so tense Putin should stay

As 2017 approaches its close, and as the Presidential election in March next year looms closer, the rumour mill in Moscow is working over time speculating about Putin's intentions.

Whilst most expect Putin to run again, there are some suggestions that he is thinking of an exit, and is considering nominating a successor.

Names which typically get mentioned are Dmitry Medvedev, Russia's Prime Minister, who was Russia's President between 2008 and 2012, and Lieutenant General Alexey Dyumin, who is currently the Governor of Tula Region.

I have no idea what Putin's plans are and I doubt that any one of those speculating does either, though I am sure that the top people in the Kremlin all know. However, I would personally be very surprised if Putin decides not to run again.

Heart - Black

Israel officials prepare for mass evictions, home demolitions in illegally occupied East Jerusalem

© Saeed Qaq/Apaimages
A bulldozer can be demolishing homes belonging to Palestinians in Jerusalem
Israeli officials from the Jerusalem municipality and police examined five buildings in the Kafr Aqab neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem yesterday, in preparation for their demolition.

The buildings, erected without the almost impossible to obtain "permit", are currently home to some 138 Palestinian families.

According to the Jerusalem Post, the apartment blocks are to be demolished in order to build a public road next to the Separation Wall.

The paper reports that out of some 60,000 residents in Kafr Aqab, about 52,000 are living in "illegal" buildings.

Comment: A small sample


Iraqi forces launch cleanup raid against terrorists on Syrian border

Over the past few months Daesh militants have been expelled from most of the territories in Iraq and Syria under their control since 2014.

The Iraqi forces have announced the launch of an operation to clean up the western desert territories of the districts of the al-Jazira region located between the governorates of Al Anbar, Saladin and Nineveh on the border with Syria from the Daesh terrorists.

The statement comes just days after the Iraqi government forces, supported by the US-led international coalition, regained control over the town of Rawa, the last Daesh stronghold in the country.

Snakes in Suits

Reports say Mikheil Saakashvili faces forceful deportation from Ukraine in coming weeks

© REUTERS/ Stringer
Ukrainian authorities are preparing an "operation" to forcefully remove the disgruntled politician, who became stateless after Ukraine stripped him of its citizenship, a source close to Ukraine's Security Service told the Strana online publication.

Georgia's ex-president and former Ukrainian regional governor, Mikheil Saakashvili, may be expelled from Ukraine in the coming weeks, sources have told a local newspaper.

The special operation will reportedly involve several law enforcement agencies and will be carried out ahead of New Year celebrations to minimize public attention. The outlet said that the Ukrainian Security Service had refused to comment on further details or allegations.

In October, former governor of Odessa region presented his own makeshift "great plan" for the swift political rescue of Ukraine, using the building of the country's parliament as an improvised projector screen.


Britain spends £78m on Israel's 'Iron Dome' to protect Falklands from missile attacks

© Ronen Zvulun / Reuters
Britain has spent £78 million protecting the Falkland Islands with a new missile defense shield also used by Israel, shortly after Argentina bought a new fleet of fighter jets. Argentina has long claimed what it calls the Islas Malvinas as its own.

The Falklands' new Sky Sabre defense system is part of a £280-million renewal package for the islands announced by then-defense secretary Michael Fallon in 2015. The Sabre uses radar to track short-range rockets and can predict a missile's path and blow it out of the sky before it reaches its target.

The shield utilizes the same technology as Israel's Iron Dome, which has shot down hundreds of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip. It will be fully installed by 2020.


Jared Kushner and Mohamed bin Salman pose the biggest threat to the Middle East

© Getty
Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East envoy Getty
The sort of Neo-con and right-wing think tankers, who in 2003 were saying that a war with Iraq would be a doddle, are back in business in Washington, pushing for war with Iran - and are stronger than ever

I was in my room in the Baghdad Hotel on al-Sadoun street last Sunday evening, writing about the chances for stability in Iraq taking hold, when the walls and floor began to shake. They jerked sideways and up and down several times as if my room was the cabin of boat in a rough sea.

My first confused thought was - this being Baghdad - that there must have been some huge bomb explosion, which would explain the rocking motion of everything around me. But almost simultaneously, I realised that I had not heard the sound of an explosion, so a better explanation was that there was an earthquake, though I had never thought of Baghdad as being in an earthquake zone.


No more 'fighting ISIS?' US will stay in Syria anyway to prevent 'win' for Assad and Iran - WaPo

© Erik de Castro / Reuters
The US plans to keep its troops in Syria long after the defeat of ISIS - the goal used to justify their illegal presence in the first place - because the Syrian government and its ally Iran would "win" if they were withdrawn, the Washington Post reported.

The Trump administration is "expanding its goals" in Syria to include a "potentially open-ended commitment" to support the Kurd-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the newspaper reported on Wednesday, citing several anonymous US officials. The change comes as the defeat of the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorist group in Syria seems imminent.

Washington has been justifying its deployment of ground troops in Syria, which violates the embattled nation's sovereignty, by citing the need to fight IS. US Defense Secretary James Mattis last week went so far as to erroneously claim that the US had been given a mandate to be in Syria, stating: "You know, the UN said that ... basically we can go after ISIS. And we're there to take them out."


Another 9/11 event may be the 'black swan' that triggers global stock market meltdown

© Friedhelm Adam / Global Look Press
Major financial institutions like Bank of America see the end of the bull market next year. They predict stocks pushing higher in the first half followed by all sorts of potential trouble after that.

Some experts say the new crisis could happen because of economic factors like an inflation hike or tight monetary policy by the US Federal Reserve. However, the crisis is much more likely, if an external shock hits the world, warn analysts.

"In general, this can be any significant event, for example, military actions. The effect will be stronger if negative events happen one after another. In such a situation, there can be a plunge in stock prices and deleveraging would start. All risky assets will begin to get cheaper in a spiral. This is the standard development of the crisis," financial analyst Timur Nigmatullin told RIA Novosti.

Comment: Of course a "Black Swan" event could be triggered by sudden natural causes such as earthquakes, volcanoes, meteors, and extreme weather conditions.


'USA is a great nation, but leave us alone!' Eleven quotes that show how Vladimir Putin sees the world

© Alexei Druzhinin / Sputnik
Populist, pragmatist, authoritarian, cunning tactician - years after he rose to the top of Russian politics Western observers still wonder about Vladimir Putin's true motivations. In fact, behind the Kremlin's decision-making is a set of consistently expressed beliefs.

On the United States

"The USA is a great power. Probably the only superpower in existence today. We accept that and we are ready to work together with them.

What we don't need is for them to get involved in our affairs, tell us how to live our lives, and prevent Europe from building a relationship with us."

St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, June 2016


Pepe Escobar: How Turkey, Iran, Russia and India are playing the New Silk Roads

© iStock
Turkey is strategically positioned to profit from the rail projects.
A pacified Syria is key to the economic integration of Eurasia through energy and transportation connections .

Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Hassan Rouhani will hold a summit this Wednesday in Sochi to discuss Syria. Russia, Turkey and Iran are the three power players at the Astana negotiations - where multiple cease-fires, as hard to implement as they are, at least evolve, slowly but surely, towards the ultimate target - a political settlement.

A stable Syria is crucial to all parties involved in Eurasia integration. As Asia Times reported, China has made it clear that a pacified Syria will eventually become a hub of the New Silk Roads, known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) - building on the previous business bonanza of legions of small traders commuting between Yiwu and the Levant.