Archives mensuelles : décembre 2019

Le piège de Baghdad

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Les frappes américaines contre Kataeb Hezbollah al-Irak ou les phalanges du Hezbollah d’Irak, une organisation paramilitaire pro-iranienne mais non financée par l’Iran, ont déclenché un processus qu’il sera très difficile à contrôler. Au point où l’on soupçonne que c’était l’effet recherché par les attaques ayant visé auparavant des “contractors” américains en Irak. C’est donc et un piège et Washington y est encore tombé tête baissée dedans.

Libye: Ankara déterminée à intervenir en Libye en y envoyant des centaines de rebelles syriens à Tripoli

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La Turquie a apparament trouvé un expédient assez commode pour se délester des éléments les plus violents parmi les trois millions de réfugiés syriens accueillis sur son territoire: les expédier en Tripolitaine où ils seront à la fois des auxiliaires et les premiers combattants au front devant les opérateurs des forces spéciales turques.

Un drone détruit en Libye

Des médias évoquent la présence d’un peu plus de 500 combattants syriens à Tripoli tandis que la Turquie semble déterminée à intervenir militairement en Libye à la demande expresse du gouvernement d’entente nationale de Fayez al-Sarraj. Pour le moment la plupart des combattants ou mercenaires syriens transportés par les turcs en Libye appartiennent ou disent appartenir à l’Armée Syrienne Libre ou ASL, une milice rebelle syrienne quasiment annihilée par les forces armées syriennes et les forces aérospatiales russes durant le conflit en cours en Syrie.

En d’autres termes, un pays de l’Otan utilise les moyens aériens et maritime de la plus grande alliance militaire au monde pour transporter des mercenaires considérés comme “terroristes” du théâtre des opérations en Syrie septentrionale au champ de bataille autour de Tripoli en Libye occidentale.

C’est un peu le remake de ce qui c’est passé en Syrie du Nord.

D’Alep à Tripoli, la chair à canon est la même

Sur le terrain, ces nouveaux mercenaires disent qu’ils sont venus “défendre l’islam” en Libye et se heurtent aux forces et aux milices soutenant le Maréchal Khalifa Haftar qui tentent de prendre d’assaut la capitale libyenne depuis des mois. L’Armée Nationale Libyenne ou LNA (Libyan National Army) serait soutenue par des combattants du Groupe privé Wagner et des mercenaires français et égyptiens. Des dizaines d’éléments du Groupe Wagner ont péri dans les combats autour de Tripoli.

La Turquie semble déterminée à intervenir en Libye et l’usage de mercenaires syriens en première ligne pourrait s’avérer une stratégie payante susceptible de minimiser d’éventuelles pertes humaines au sein de la force de réaction rapide turque et maintenir un momentum face aux forces adverses de Cyrénaïque, lesquelles pourraient bénéficier d’un soutien grec en plus du soutien fourni entre autres par la France, L’Égypte et les Emirats Arabes Unis.

La boucle est bouclée: en 2012, le consulat américain à Benghazi en Cyrénaïque servait de point de transit aux armes et mercenaires envoyés par la CIA vers la Syrie via le Sud de la Turquie pour semer le chaos en Syrie et tenter d’accélérer un changement de régime à Damas. En 2019 et en 2020, le Grand Turc retourne le mécanisme mis en place à son profit et envoie les rebelles syriens guerroyer en Libye pour sauvegarder les lignes d’approvisionnement en brut à prix très réduit mais surtout pour inaugurer en grande pompe la nouvelle stratégie turque en Afrique du Nord.

Locaux de l’ancien consulat US a Benghazi, attaqué et pris d’assaut le 11 septembre 2012 causant la mort de l’ambassadeur US et de quatre Navy Seals

A la veille du premier jour de l’an 2020, l’Otan est en cours d’implosion en Libye, pays que cette alliance est intervenue en 2011 pour y produire un changement de régime ayant abouti à un effondrement étatique et sécuritaire englobant aussi bien la Méditerranée centrale que le Sahel.

Quatre pays de l’Otan se retrouvent opposés en Libye: outre la Grèce et la Turquie, le conflit libyen risque fort d’aboutir à une confrontation militaire directe entre les forces spéciales françaises et italiennes, notamment autour des sites de production pétrolier et des terminaux. L’Italie soutient en effet le gouvernement de Tripoli tandis que la France soutient Haftar et le gouvernement non reconnu de Tobrouk.

Cette configuration particulière est unique et inédite depuis 1945.

L’Otan et le concept même de la défense commune européenne, laquelle n’a jamais existé sont les dernières victimes collatérales du bourbier libyen et de l’activisme turc soutenu par Washington. A noter également, le mépris absolu de la Turquie pour les pays du voisinage immédiat de la Libye, conséquence logique de leur inertie lors de la guerre en Libye de 2011 et leur incapacité à arrêter le chaos qui s’est installé ensuite dans ce pays très riche d’Afrique.

Libya’s War Escalates as the Stakes Get Higher-By Steve Brown

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Libya’s Government of National Accord has little time to sort out the mess it is in, with the Libyan National Army making some progress in Tripoli’s suburbs. LNA warlord Haftar’s strike on the Zawiya Oil installation near al Harsha in west Tripolitania on the 27th of December resulted in drastic damage to the facility causing Libya’s National Oil Company to warn about potential evacuation of offices nearby.*

The LNA’s decision to target the az Zawiya Oil installation may be seen as a proxy blow to Turkey’s interests in Libya, because Turkey purchases oil for as low as $10 per barrel from such terminals. Warlord Haftar does not suffer, because Cyrenaica oil is largely produced and processed in eastern Libya.

The Libyan National Army’s fortunes have improved recently with a new influx of weaponry and funds supplied by the United Arab Emirates. After setbacks in Gharayan the LNA has recovered due to weaponry, supplies, and mercenary air attacks on Misrata (mostly supported by the UAE) where Misrata provides most resistance to the LNA outside of Tripoli.** From December 21st, 2019, Haftar has mounted a particularly effective offensive around Tarhunah, driving the GNA back (nearly) to the suburbs of Tripoli itself.

The position of the United States is somewhat opaque regarding support for the Libya National Army, but indications are that the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and Egypt were successful in convincing the US to allow Saudi and Egypt a free hand to back and arm Haftar. The Libyan National Army declared a no-fly zone over Tripoli in late November, which has proved effective, in support of LNA air strikes on the capital by mercenary pilots. Together, these events caused Haftar to once again demand that the GNA surrender, on December 30th, 2019.

As addressed in Erdogan Stirs the Pot Again the Libyan conflict’s alliances are as follows:

Government of National Accord’s (UN recognized government) major support:
Turkey
Qatar

Libyan National Army (not UN recognized) major support:
Saudi Arabia
Egypt
United Arab Emirates
France

Neutral:
Tunisia
Algeria
Morocco (political support for GNA)

According to the Turkish leadership, the Government of National Accord has asked for its help to stabilize Tripolitania and resist the LNA offensive. The Turkish parliament is set to vote on military intervention on January 2nd. But even if the measure passes, there may not be enough time to stop Haftar’s advance.

According to the Libya Review Egypt has called for an emergency session of the Arab League to discuss Libya, however the details have not been verified (and occurrence of this session cannot be independently confirmed). Egypt has taken an interest in Cyrenaica and the conflict even before the LNA approached Egypt for help with developing the Sirte basin oil and gas fields, where most of Libya’s oil originates.

Warlord Haftar’s attempts to sell Sirte oil on the open market were resisted by UN sanction, so Haftar eventually backed down. If the LNA can shut down the National Oil Company of Libya, Haftar may gain enough leverage to force the issue because that’s a lot of oil and revenue for the GNA to lose every day. And such a closure would leave Turkey hanging in the wind, and possibly force the country back to Iran’s oil, in spite of US sanctions. The foregoing is surely what Egypt must hope for, too.

Reports of the Wagner Group operating on behalf of the LNA are murky, but probably correct. The Wagner Group is a mercenary force, for sale to any suitable bidder. The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt are certainly capable of doing that bidding. For now it appears that the Wagner Group is involved in LNA training and logistics — and to strike fear in the heart of the GNA. Although touted by the Neoliberal press as Russia taking part in fighting around Tripoli, there is no evidence in the form of Russian casualties or any other evidence that the Kremlin is involved with such a tragic opportunity leveraged by an essentially private mercenary group.

Regardless of the above political considerations, the shifting alliance around the 2011 US/NATO-created Libyan disaster is of most consequence. Speculation abounds about a potential alliance between Turkey, Tunisia, and Algeria, versus the LNA in Libya. Fathi Bashagha, the GNA’s interior minister, announced just such an alliance last Thursday, but his proposal was quickly debunked.

Yesterday Turkey and Algeria announced a joint naval effort to celebrate the historic Oruç Reis Hayreddin Barbarossa anniversary, with exercises to take place in January, 2020. This celebratory joint naval affair has led to much speculation regarding Turkey’s proposal for an alliance with Algeria, for intervention in Libya. Although there is historic friendship and cooperation between Algeria and Turkey, Algeria’s history and current political composition is such that an actual military alliance between Algeria and Turkey is exceedingly unlikely at this time. There are several reasons.

Besides the inherent risk of throwing military weight behind a potentially losing GNA regime, Algeria’s history of internecine conflict — especially with regard to implicit support of radical Islamist factions that the GNA has not fully denounced — would be 100% abhorrent to the Algerian military and to its people. As for Tunisia, Tunisia of course does as Algeria dictates. ***

Complicating the picture is Morocco. Morocco — an ally of Saudi Arabia — is typically at odds with Algeria which does not align with Saudi Arabia. Morocco’s closeness to Saudi Arabia is complicated by Saudi’s support for the LNA, where Morocco has expressed its support for the Government of National Accord on numerous occasions. The Skhirat Agreement was Morocco’s attempt to find a political solution to the violence in Libya, but the LNA’s April offensive ended those hopes. Since then Morocco has pursued a largely neutral position beyond public statements in favor of the GNA.

Another great unknown is how Washington will react when NATO ally Turkey deploys its military to Libya. That deployment could result in a military confrontation with France, another NATO ally, or Greece, also a NATO ally. And Washington’s unipolar moment is not just fading fast, it has ended. Washington quixotically lashes out to re-assert its global dominance versus imaginary adversaries and is only capable of creating new ones – and failed states. How Washington’s hubris might play out in a Syria-like war in Libya (where Washington caused the conflict in the first place as it did in Syria) is unclear.

Next, consider the Libyan National Army which is not in as good shape as the media tends to portray. There is dissension among the officer ranks. Haftar has suffered a shortage of skilled workers and soldiers. The LNA has suffered setbacks before, for example in Gharayan. And the Warlord is mainly reliant on aerial bombing and superior air power to defeat the GNA. Haftar has only a few days remaining before Turkey may deploy troops to Tripolitania, and if Turkey does so, the tide of this war will turn quickly.

Finally, United Nations talks on Libya might take place in January… or they might not. Because the precise date has not been verified. Whether those UN talks take place or not, hope for Libya’s relief seems forlorn with more aggression, death, and human flight being a certainty, and typical of the failed states US-State creates. It seems that the peace prospect for Libya is bleak, with the people of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica tearing themselves apart while the people of the south, the Fezzan, suffer even more.

*Somewhat surprisingly Libya’s NOC provides oil revenue funds to both sides in the conflict ie the Government of National Accord and to the Libyan National Army; for the NOC to cease operations would be a blow to both factions.

Steve Brown

** Some Misrata rebel factions support the LNA, and a number of factions with various affiliations exist there and in Tripoli.

*** The subject of Alegria is an interesting one and will be addressed in a comprehensive upcoming article.

Chine: un troisième porte-avions en chantier à Shanghaï

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Des modules du troisième porte-avions chinois de la classe 003 CV sont assemblés à Jiangnan près de Shanghai.

Le troisième porte-avions de l’aéronavale chinoise aura un tirant d’eau de 78 000 tonnes, une propulsion conventionnelle et une série de catapultes électromagnétiques de conception à 100% chinoise.

Le premier porte-avions chinois, le CV-16 Liaoning est une modification d’un porte-avions de l’ère soviétique tandis que le second à utilisé la conception de la coque d’un navire soviétique. Par contre le 003 sera véritablement le premier porte-avions chinois à conception locale à 100%.

Selon des sources très variées, la Chine dispose de cinq autres projets de porte-avions en cours dont deux à propulsion nucléaire.

Washington espère ralentir cet ambitieux programme par un affaiblissement de l’économie chinoise. Cependant, les Chinois semblent bien lancés pour l’acquisition d’une solide force de projection au delà des mers.

Erdogan Stirs the Pot .. Again! – By Steve Brown

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Sensing a power vacuum in Washington, Europe, and Tel Aviv along with the weakness of North African regimes — and emboldened by his own hubris — Erdogan has promised military boots on the ground in Libya as first reported in “Can Recep the Magnificent Sort Out Libya” on December 17th.

Reçep Tayep Erdogan move in North Africa is more than risky

The Second Libyan War is being fought between the United Nations-recognized Government of National Accord (Tripolitania) or GNA in the west, versus Khalifa Belqasim Haftar’s Libyan National Army or LNA of the east (Tobruk – Cyrenaica) where both factions are largely supported by Libyan oil production, and weaponry supplied by all. Besides the two major factions, the Government of National Accord (GNA) vs the Libyan National Army (LNA) there is considerable support for Saif al Islam, son of the former Libyan leader who was assassinated in collusion with the United States government.

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Image result for haftar libya

Saif al Islam has strong support in Bani Walid and with the Libyan populace, however Saif is in hiding since the LNA has threatened to shoot him on sight, while the GNA is still quibbling with the International Criminal Court about Gaddafi’s arrest warrant for so-called war crimes, dating from the US destruction of the country in 2011. Thus Saif and his supporters cannot assume a tangible role in ending the Libyan conflict. The conflict may be seen as consisting of three parts, Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and the Fezzan vying for power, with the Fezzan split by the major GNA and LNA factions since Saif al Islam Gadaffi is in hiding.

Of the two major factions — GNA and LNA — the GNA is supported by Turkey and Qatar. The LNA is supported by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, France, Belgium, and the United Arab Emirates. The United States and Russia have taken a hands-off view regarding the Libyan debacle for now, although the Russian leadership has expressed some support for Saif al Islam in the background, should he ever be free to campaign. *

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Marshal Haftar of Libya (L) with President Al-Sisi of Egypt (R)

Traditionally viewed as a proxy war or civil war since 2011, the war in Libya represents far more than that. After Syria, Libya’s war represents a snapshot of shifting regional alliances, still being played out, where any one or particular ally may or may not be compatible with the other, based on an historic view.

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But with the support of its powerful allies the Libyan National Army has been prevailing in this war. Haftar’s April 2019 offensive versus Tripolitania stalled quickly but was revived with an influx of weaponry from the United Arab Emirates. Haftar’s success in maintaining pressure on the GNA and Tripoli has been troublesome for Turkey, because Turkey receives cheap oil from Misrata which it desperately needs since the US sanctioned Turkey’s oil imports from Iran.

Turkey, apparently feeling renewed pressure on its access to energy resources, recently announced a strategic energy resource corridor in the eastern Mediterranean to the great consternation of just about everyone. Erdogan’s announcement was made just subsequent to (what Turkey believes is) success in northeastern Syria versus the Kurdish agency, although Turkey may face United States sanctions over its actions there and S-400 missile purchase, should the US sanctions bill be signed into law.

Regardless, Erdogan has been emboldened by gaining popular domestic support via his so-far unchallenged challenge to the world order. For the GNA, Turkey’s move to reinforce its position in Libya with boots on the ground is a welcome development in its battle versus LNA heavyweight Haftar.

For Libya’s neighbors, Turkey’s incursion is most distressing especially for Tunisia and Algeria. Seldom reported in the west, Tunisia is now led by newly-elected Qays Sayed a scholar and intellectual generally unknown but universally disliked by most western analysts. So, imagine Saied’s surprise when Recep the Magnificent arrived on his doorstep to ask for a military alliance with Tunis. That’s because Libyan Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha unwisely announced that alliance before Erdogan visited Saied… and before Algeria chimed in with its own objections. The proposal for that Turkish alliance was enthusiastically and immediately shot down by Algeria which has great influence in Tunisia.

Libya GNA Foreign Minister Fahi Bachagha (R) with a US diplomatic Representative

Algeria’s predicament with a Turkish incursion in Libya is as pressing as Tunisia’s. Algeria has been ruled by its military ever since the Bouteflika brothers took power, and December’s rather disappointing election results see the military’s gain of a new front man, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, assuring continued opaque rule there.

The revolution versus French colonial rule in 1954 put Algeria at the forefront of progressive reform and rejection of Imperial power, especially during the 1970’s.But the eventual accession of Islamist groups in Algeria resulted in civil war and disaster. By 1992 Islamist radicals won parliamentary power and were forced out, that action somewhat reminiscent of the Morsi Muslim Brotherhood ouster in Egypt. The difference is that the Algerian civil war of 1992 raged on for much longer and took many more lives than el Sisi ‘s US-inspired coup in Egypt did.

Most Groupe Islamique Armé (GIA) terrorists in Algeria were eventually disarmed, killed, imprisoned, or forced to the remote Sahel region. One example is Abu Walid Sahrawi still at large in the Sahel with a $5M US price on his head, and another is “one eye” Mr Marlboro (so known for his life as a smuggler) Mokhtar Belmokhtar whose Maghreb insurgency was supported by foreign players. Thus Algeria has relied upon its military to prevent the resurgence of such militant Islamism there, which killed thousands of innocents in the GIA’s quest to attain power.

As an emergent oil power, Algeria has pursued a Neoliberal foreign policy since 2000 but the Algerian military has always been distrustful of Turkey and NATO, since Turkey opposed Algeria’s revolution versus France… and one of NATO’s key components is of course France. Algeria’s energy resource exports to Turkey have continually declined since 2014, when Turkey increased oil imports from Misrata rebels in Libya. The belief in Algeria is that the Turkish-sponsored Maghreb insurgency was an attempt to gain bargain access to Libya and Algeria’s oil reserves, thus rendering Turkey a foe to Algeria, even if the popular press states otherwise.

And as an emergent oil power, Algeria has strategic and tactical resources to pursue something of an agenda in North Africa, all but unreported in the west. Since its military rule is opaque, only intelligence sources can provide insight into Algeria’s influence and one source reports that Algeria has been somewhat effective in curbing Turkish influence in Tripolitania so far, and has even halted politically-motivated assassinations there.

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Algerian Air Force Sukhoi Su-30MKA flying near the Tunisian borders

Now Erdogan’s latest bravado in landing boots on the ground on behalf of the GNA in Libya is a direct affront to Algeria, with Tunis caught in the middle. Again, Erdogan must sense weakness in the West and in North Africa, but Erdogan’s militarist move in Tripolitania is still an enormous gamble. But before we consider Erdogan’s issues, let’s consider that Turkey has played the Partiya Karkeren Kurdistane (Kurdish Workers Party or PKK) terror card for many years.

Not to denigrate the nature of the Kurdish Workers Party threat, there is no doubt that the PKK has engaged in terrorist acts in Turkey for decades. That the PKK threat may be exaggerated is certainly convenient though when the Turkish government can claim that its broad actions outside of Turkey has resulted in the reduction of PKK domestic violence.

Turkey has certainly leveraged the PKK threat to take aggressive action not only in Syria, but in Iraq too. Turkey may have engaged in its own support for terror groups to pursue that end. Turkey has also supported the Syrian National Army, primarily consisting of Turkmen terrorists. The overall question arises whether the foregoing is based upon national policy, or just Erdogan pushing the envelope.

On Erdogan, the Maghreb Orient Courier reported on the direction of Turkey’s leadership just after the 2018 election: “This heavy-handed, arbitrary system grants all decision-making power to a narrow team in the presidential palace, relegates Parliament to be the president’s notary and the judiciary as his obedient servant. The system privileges quick fixes above consultation, deliberation, transparency and accountability.”

And, “With the recent elections, the Turkish political system has completed its transformation into an executive presidential system without checks and balances. The regime and its leader view the new system as their chance to forever escape the sword of justice.”

In this light, consider that Turkey has faced massive immigration issues based on US regime change wars on its borders for many years. Four million immigrants who may otherwise qualify as war refugees constitutes no laughing matter for Turkey or for anyone. Erdogan has used the immigrant issue to cleverly play the immigrant card with Europe, threatening to unleash another wave of refugees, and Erdogan’s threats have had the desired effect of curbing European economic sanctions on Turkey.

However, and most significantly, Erdogan’s militarist adventure in Libya goes well beyond Turkey’s claimed defensive PKK posture on Syria and Iraq. Turkey is now engaged in imperial hubris and expansion to protect its access to energy resources in Libya, where the PKK does not exist. Turkey’s proposed eastern Mediterranean economic zone and the factual presence of Turkish military boots on the ground in Libya has crossed all lines. Erdogan submits that he is the new geopolitical kid in the bloc, with more than one score to settle and more than one axe to grind.

With great irony, only France’s Macron has stood up to Erdogan so far, even if ineffectually so. The summoning of Turkey’s ambassador for a dressing down in Paris was announced just one day subsequent to the Turkish Interior Minister’s announcement that eleven ISIS terrorists will be repatriated to France. But not all initiative is owned by Turkey even as Turkey tries to turn the screw in Syria.

As this author writes, the Turkish-backed National Front for Liberation and Syrian National Army are fighting a flanking movement around Idlib versus Syrian Arab Army forces, stalling recent SAA gains in the province. The motivation is clear: Turkey hopes to maintain its position in Afrin and the northwest while threatening an expanded Libyan intervention. Bearing in mind Turkey’s military presence in Iraq as well, Turkey is attempting to fight three separate wars on three fronts. So perhaps Erdogan and his small circle do truly see themselves as modern incarnates of Suleiman the Magnificent?

Complicating the matter for Turkey in Africa however is France’s effort to reimpose Imperial power in the Sahel as covered in The Secret war in Africa. While the prior may seem far-fetched, consider that Macron’s number one concern is protecting France’s uranium resources in the Sahel, not primarily the elimination of takfiri terrorists. As such, France has expanded its Niamey base in Niger to host United States RQ-4 Reaper drones, rebadged, which perform advanced reconnaissance as well as terror strikes.

Should France’s relationship with Turkey deteriorate further – especially since they are on opposite sides in Libya where Turkey supports the GNA and France the LNA – it will be interesting to see how hostilities between these two NATO lackeys develop. ***

As a NATO ally, Turkey has consistently blamed the United States for siding with the PKK (instead of with Turkey) to defeat ISIS in Syria. The reason for the US to do so is a good one, since Turkey sports its own brand of terror in the form of the National Front for Liberation as well as the Syrian National Army, and because Turkey has its own agenda in Syria, not necessarily aligned with the US agenda. The Turkey/US rift is a long one, dating back to Clinton’s time as Secretary of State, when Hillary Clinton initiated the crisis in Syria and Libya — and many others — and provided the very foundation for ISIS itself which the US State still maintains.

Now, since Turkey crossed the line in Libya and threatens to do so elsewhere (eastern Med/Greece and Cyprus) will the United States be forced to act? Perhaps not, since the US seems to view North Africa and the eastern Med as having little relevance to US interests. In this case, the US might delegate its diplomatic protests to France (just a thought). The complicating factor is of course Turkey’s role as a NATO member. Can the US for example threaten to expel Turkey from NATO in light of its naked aggression in Libya? Unlikely. Strategically, Washington needs Turkey more than Turkey needs Washington and US State might simply see Erdogan as a useful foil to keep Big Boss Haftar in check. That may depend on Turkey too, and whether Erdogan will moderate his behavior in face of concerted French and US resistance on Libya. With the further complication being the role of Algeria.

As a seemingly potential rival to Turkey in North Africa, Algeria could support Haftar versus the GNA with Algeria’s sophisticated surveillance and tactical expertise. That alliance is unlikely however, since Haftar is backed by Egypt and Algeria will not countenance a military alliance with Egypt at this time, according to one source.

Finally, this report only intends to shed some small light on the exceedingly complex political and militarist morass in the Maghreb, which is an ever-changing landscape and has no finality to it. As the West continues to decline and the east searches for unity and direction, dangerous and perhaps deranged buffoons still strut and fret about the world stage, knowing not what they do for their oil, gold, diamonds, land, and resources… while the rest of us suffer for it.

Steve Brown

*Reports say that Obama believes his agreement to allow Clinton’s Libyan regime-change war and ordered asassination of Gadaffi to be one of the greatest mistakes of his career.

** Bashagha’s ‘alliance’ must have surprised the Algerian leadership as much as it surprised Tunisia’s!

*** Since both France and Turkey are alleged NATO entities, this reporter’s previous observation that perhaps NATO needs an alliance to protect itself from itself seems relevant here.

Premier exercice naval conjoint entre la Chine, l’Iran et la Russie en mer d’Oman et dans l’océan indien

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Une période historique vient de se terminer dans le chaos. Une nouvelle ère vient officiellement de commencer.

C’est aux historiens du futur qu’incombe la tâche de qualifier ou non la période s’étalant entre l’invasion US de l’Irak en 2003 jusqu’à la fin de la bataille décisive d’Alep en 2016 de guerre mondiale ou non. Quel que soit le verdict de l’histoire, à quelques jours de 2020, les rapports de puissance dans le monde ont définitivement changé.

Un nouveau monde s’affirme. Les navires de guerre chinois, russes et iraniens participent sans aucun complexe à des manœuvres conjointes en mer d’Oman et dans l’océan indien. La frégate russe Yaroslav Mudry (ex- Nepristupnyi) de la classe Neustrachimyé est accueillie dans le port militaire iranien de Chabahar dans le sud de l’Iran tandis que le destroyer chinois Type 052D Xining croisait au large. Les navires de guerre de la Chine, l’Iran et la Russie participent pour la première fois à un exercice contre le “terrorisme international”, le vrai, celui utilisé par les anciennes puissances conventionnelles d’un monde révolu. L’image est forte. Le message est clair.

Destroyer Type 052D Xining de la marine de guerre chinoise
La frégate russe Yaruslav Mudry

La déstabilisation de Hong Kong, la guerre commerciale et les campagnes de réactivation du front du Xinjiang ont convaincu Beijing de cesser d’adopter un profil bas et de s’assumer de plus en plus ses positions. La Chine entend sécuriser les routes de ravitaillement en brut passant par les détroits de la péninsule arabique, la Corne de l’Afrique et l’océan indien et ne tolérera plus aucun incident mystérieux comme ceux ayant affecté plusieurs tankers dans le Golfe arabo-persique.

Quand un pilote survit à la destruction de son avion de combat par l’ennemi au dessus de la Libye…

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Le 07 décembre 2019, un Mikoyan Gurevitch Mig-23 de l’Armée Nationale Libyenne (LNA) du Maréchal Khalifa Haftar est abattu non loin d’Al-Zaouia à l’ouest de Tripoli. Le pilote de l’appareil parvint à s’ejecter mais fut capturé par une des innombrables milices armées écumant la Libye de long en large. De 5 000 mètres d’altitude, le pilote du Mig-23 se retrouva au sol, entre les mains d’une foule folle et excitée, lui tirant les oreilles au milieu de selfies…

Conclusion: mieux vaut souvent ne pas tirer la poignée d’éjection trop tôt…

Un activiste saoudien de Ryad contacte le Premier ministre israélien Benyamin Netanyahu et lui réaffirme son soutien dans sa course au leadership du Likoud

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Vidéo: Al Mayadeen.

Dans cette vidéo assez surprenante, Benyamin Netanyahu, qui vient d’être confirmé à la tête du Likoud, le parti au pouvoir, déclare à son fan saoudien que beaucoup d’Arabes [israéliens] (les Palestiniens de 1948) ont voté pour lui parce qu’ils savent qu’il œuvre pour un “meilleur Israël” (Grand Israël) et un “meilleur Moyen-Orient”.

Mohamed Saoud est un jeune blogger saoudien habitant Ryad qui milite ouvertement pour une normalisation complète des relations entre les pays Arabes du Golfe et l’Etat d’Israël. Sa visite à Jérusalem, il y a quelques mois, a été perçue comme une provocation par les palestiniens de la Cisjordanie.

Crise en Libye: l’Algérie réunit en urgence son Haut Conseil de Sécurité

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L’Algérie vient de réunir son Haut Conseil de Sécurité pour la première fois depuis 2013 pour répondre à l’accumulation des menaces en Libye et l’effondrement sécuritaire au Sahel.

L’ordre du jour réel de cette réunion n’a pas été divulgué et fait probablement l’objet du secret défense. Officiellement, un communiqué de la présidence algérienne fait état d’un “examen de la situation dans la région [environnement géopolitique ndlr],” notamment au niveau des frontières avec la Libye et le Mali”.

Le même communiqué officiel précise qu’à la lumière de l’examen de la situation posée par l’émergence des menaces en Libye et au Sahel il “a décidé d’une batterie de mesures à prendre pour la protection de des frontières et du territoire national et la redynamisation du rôle de l’Algérie au plan international, particulièrement en ce qui concerne ces deux dossiers, et de manière générale dans le Sahel, la région saharienne et l’Afrique”.

Le nouveau Chef d’état-major des Armées, le général-major Said Chengriha, est connu pour sa discipline de fer et son obsession pour la stratégie militaire. C’est lui qui a déployé plus de 80 000 hommes pour la sécurisation des frontières de l’Algérie avec la Libye et le Mali.

La Tunisie a fortement démenti hier, des informations parues au lendemain de la visite surprise du président turc Tayep Reçep Erdogan à Tunis, faisant état de sa volonté à joindre une quelconque alliance militaire dans la région. La visite d’Erdogan en Tunisie a suscité une très vive polémique dans ce pays.

En Turquie, le président turc Tayep Reçep Erdogan a évoqué l’héritage de Mustapha Kemal Atatürk et celui des Ottomans pour justifier une intervention militaire en Libye.

Mustapha Kemal Atatürk fut déployé à Derna en Libye en 1911 lors de la guerre entre le Royaume d’Italie et l’empire Ottoman avant d’être muté dans les Balkans. Il fut blessé à l’œil en Cyrénaïque lors d’une confrontation avec les forces italiennes. Certains historiens soupçonnent Atatürk d’avoir délibérément saboté le dispositif militaire Ottoman en Libye avant de l’offrir aux italiens dans le cadre d’une stratégie d’affaiblissement de ce qui restait de l’Etat Ottoman.

Un Mig-29 iranien s’écrase sur le pic d’un volcan éteint dans le nord-ouest du pays

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Un chasseur Mikoyan Mig-29 (Fulcrum) des forces aériennes iraniennes (IRIAF ou نیروی هوایی ارتش جمهوری اسلامی ایران) s’est écrasé sur le pic d’un volcan inactif de la chaîne montagneuse d’Alborz dans la province d’Ardebil dans le nord-ouest du pays.

L’avion de combat iranien était en mission de patrouille lorsqu’il disparut sur le mont Sabalan, le troisième pic montagneux d’Iran (4811 mètres) , un volcan inactif considéré comme une des places sacrées du Zoroastrianisme. Le mont Sabalan a un cratère au sommet rempli par un lac.

Une mission de secours et de sauvetage du pilote décrit comme expérimenté se heurte à une tempête de neige.

Russie: premier crash d’un avion furtif de cinquième génération Sukhoï Su-57 (T-50)

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Un avion furtif de cinquième génération Sukhoï Su-57 (T-50) s’est écrasé le 24 décembre 2019 à 120 kilomètres de la base aérienne de Dzyomgi à Khabarovsk Krai près de la ville de Komsomolsk-on-Amur dans l’extrême Orient russe.

Le pilote de l’appareil a réussi à s’ejecter et à pu être récupéré par un hélicoptère Mil Mi-8.

L’appareil appartenait à l’usine d’aviation Yuri Gagarine de Komsomolsk-on-Amur et servait à des essais de motorisation.

C’est le premier crash d’un Su-57 rendu public par les autorités russes.

La Turquie réceptionne son nouveau submersible, le TCG Piri Reis

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La marine de guerre turque a réceptionné le submersible TCG Piri Reis, baptisé du nom d’un de ses plus illustres cartographes et navigateurs. Ce submersible est le premier d’une série de six sous-marins à propulsion par air indépendant (Air Independent Propulsion ou AIP) de la classe Reis en construction par HDW, Atlas Elektronik et HAVELSAN. Ce projet entamé le 22 juin 2011 sera achevé d’ici 2023.

Deux institutions publiques spécialisées dans la recherche et huit compagnies turques ont participé à la conception de nouveaux systèmes du TCG Piri Reis.

Aselsan a modifié le design du type 214 TN et développé localement le radar Alper LPI ainsi que le système de communication intégré incluant le système de communication par satellite (bande X). Les équipements optiques et opto-électroniques embarqués ont fait l’objet d’une coopération avec la compagnie allemande Carl Zeiss Optronics

Les stations de travails multifonctions et les stations de contrôle des systèmes d’armes ont été conçues par Ayesas avec pour objectif leur promotion sur le marché international. Rokestan a conçu en collaboration avec ARMERKOM de la marine turque et l’institut de recherches public TUBITAK-MAM les torpilles de 533 mm sur la base des torpilles White Shark de la compagnie sud-coréenne LIGNex1.

Le TCG Piri Reis est équipé du système antiaérien Thyssen Krupp Diehl IDAS (Interactive Defence & Attack System for Submarine).

Le submersible turc a été baptisé à la mémoire d’Ahmet Muhieddine Piri Reis, grand amiral de la flotte ottomane au 16ème siècle, navigateur et illustre cartographe dont les cartes étaient très en avance sur son temps. Une des cartes de Piri Reis incluaient en effet des territoires non encore découverts comme l’Antarctique.

Le lancement du TCG Piri Reis confirme encore une fois les ambitions de la marine turque à reprendre sa place en Méditerranée, comme le fut la très puissante flotte Ottomane au 16ème et 17ème siècles.

Can China Dethrone the US Dollar as Global Reserve-by Steve Brown

USD and RMB bank notes

On the US dollar as reserve currency, that is a tough thing to break especially for China since the yuan is not freely convertible. China has renminbi and yuan; one they peg to the dollar and the other is circulated in China. Try converting USD to yuan in Paypal for example? The option is not there. Payments from the west to china sellers by Paypal (for example) are only in dollars.

It is a complex subject since China is the only foreign nation with a direct link into the US Treasury for purchase of US debt instruments, bypassing the Fed’s crooked relationship with its crooked primary dealers. This is done to manage China’s global trade relationships via the value of its currency which is somewhat pegged to the dollar (even if China and Trump claim otherwise) thus evading Federal Reserve gamesmanship. That’s why Trump messing with China is so dangerous, even if China has few options right now.

As a result of this ‘trade war’ China has let the yuan slide versus the USD which is a warning to Trump, specifically Mnuchin, popularly known as one of the most slippery dealers (IndyMAC and One West) to ever walk the earth (and China knows that). China is hoping that a lower yuan will offset tariffs just as the US has ‘weaponized’ the dollar and has imposed sanctions and tariffs on China. Because the sums are so vast with China holding so much US debt, and because China depends on exports to the west, China is somewhat boxed in.

So far China has been happy building ghost cities and high-quality infrastructure instead of blowing up their monetary reserves on the battlefield in useless wars as others do. If China wanted to blow up their trillion in US dollar reserves on the battlefield that would be very serious for the west indeed and so far, the Chinese leadership — and for that matter China’s people — have expressed no interest in doing so.

China could reduce its ties to the US dollar (USD) by making the yuan freely convertible, noting the IMF’s inclusion of the yuan in the SDR as a first step. Next, China could reduce its US foreign debt holdings but the question is where that money will go… where is a nation to park billions upon billions or even one+ trillion in surplus if not in the US dollar? That’s still the great quandary for China.

Besides the trade war, the US has engaged in Vicky Kagan-Nuland type jiggery-pokery in Hong Kong (perhaps inspired by John Bolton at the time?) attempting to pencilf China’s leadership in some very risky US gamesmanship along with Britain. And Trump gives the impression he is willing to screw the pooch and throw everything away in the China trade confrontation to make a point about US hegemony.

The point being…. what option does China have in this war? China has another option — rather than sell Treasury’s or fold to US trade demands — China could reveal its physical gold reserves and partially back the yuan with gold. (NB: return to a full gold standard in the present world economy is not possible – we are only discussing a partial backing, which has been the prevalent standard, ie partial not full, throughout modern monetary history until the adoption of a full by-decree currency by the US on August 15, 1971.)

In this scenario China could do the former Swiss thing and partially back the yuan with gold, just as the Swiss once partially backed the swiss franc with gold (40% reduced to 25% in 1997) until the Swiss franc threatened to become the world reserve currency usurping the USD by 1999.

What happened, the Swiss franc got so ‘strong’ against other currencies – and the USD – Swiss industries suffered. Also, the prospect then that the Swiss franc (now called the CHF) would usurp the USD as global reserve currency was absolutely terrifying to Swiss bankers who evidently prefer to be financial parasites instead of monetary leaders. [1]

Deflationary pressures, domestic costs, and tariff problems became so bad by 1999, Switzerland held a public referendum and went off gold in 2000. Then the bankers decided to sell almost two-thirds of their gold reserves — until the US financial collapse of 2008 — for reasons that are still unknown. One suspicion is that the Swiss monetary pharaohs foresaw fiat by-decree currency as a permanent feature and future condition for the global monetary system, but there are many more potential reasons.

The Swiss move to sell off 60% of its gold reserves from 2000 – 2008 was particularly surprising in light of Switzerland’s support for the gold carry trade. The old Swiss franc ended in 2000 and the current currency is the CHF.

Back to China’s potential to re-define the yuan with partial gold backing, should the yuan fall further against the dollar that would be the time to introduce such backing.[2] China would have to reveal its true gold reserves and say, for example, back the yuan by 10% of its gold reserves.

But first, let’s posit that a full 1-to-1 ‘gold standard’ has never existed… not even in the United States, except for the period 1900-1913. Even then, National Bank Notes were not issued based on gold reserves although they purchased gold.

[Historically the gold standard was implemented partially by cooperation of all the major monetary powers, where the chart here uses the example of partial gold backing in Britain showing 1830 to 1931 when Britain officially exited gold backing of its currency:

Link: Historic Gold reserves to paper money ratio in Britain https://d1btnptfa0r0eu.cloudfront.net/wp-content//uploads/2011/07/11-07-20-MM03.gif ]

Note that a gold standard based on gold reserves only imposes monetary discipline on the monetary system, when not all governments intend fiat by-decree governmental and private debt issuance to be used for noble purposes, as Modern Money Theory hopes.

Along with universal convertibility of the yuan, a move to 10% gold reserve backing by China would be a magnet to all currency traders since China would commit to maintain the value of its currency, when the US dollar is in process of continued and accelerating decline and devaluation. This is the bottom line that those who maintain the system wonder if you will ever know, that even partial gold backing of the yuan would dethrone the US dollar very quickly.

The problem being that partial backing of the yuan by gold would impact the global economy, and cause China’s money – no longer strictly a currency when partially backed by gold – to strengthen enormously in relation to the dollar, and perhaps even achieve a 3-to-1 ratio over time (just a guess) where the yuan is presently 7-to-1.

Such a move would dethrone the US dollar but would also hurt China and possibly even lead to social unrest there. It would represent a fundamental change where China would have to become more like the US, relying on imports instead of exports; relying on ‘consumers’ to drive the economy, and war, just as the US has relied upon since November 22nd, 1963.[3]

So far, a partial gold backing of the yuan to challenge King Dollar is not in the mindset of China’s leaders despite the pointless trade provocations and arrogant prodding of the dragon and meddling in Hong Kong that the US is engaged in. Thus the odds of a partial gold-backed yuan happening soon do not appear hopeful… and note that HSBC is itself a primary Fed dealer!

Which brings us to Fed dealers and the euro. As far as the euro challenging the USD? …that’s an easy one to address. Some of Europe’s biggest banks are Primary Dealers of the Federal Reserve such as BNP Paribas, Barclays Capital, Credit Suisse AG, Deutsche Bank, and NatWest; they are actively engaged in maintaining the US dollar as global reserve currency. Inducing the European banks to get their hands dirty with Federal Reserve dollars as primary dealers after 1971 was one key to establishing the USD as global reserve.

Ending that European support for the US dollar is an impossibility now, just witness Europe’s inability to work around US Treasury sanctions on Iran regarding Iran’s oil trade to Europe. The big European banks will attempt to maintain parity with the US Dollar and cannot challenge it, since the USD is interwoven into their economies by their status as Federal Reserve primary dealers and their purchase of US securities and debt instruments.

Even the US financial collapse of 2008 saw foreign funds flee to the ‘safety’ of US Treasury debt instruments, when US debt instruments caused that collapse in the first place. The prospect for Europe of China to dethrone the USD as global reserve currency looks bleak for now. Powell and other economists say the USD has at least fifty years remaining to reign supreme. However with the United States on the monetary path it has been on for fifty years now, the idea that the US can persist for another fifty years in its dominance of the global monetary system seems unlikely at best.

Perhaps of interest is the Federal Reserve’s extraordinary program to pump billions in US Federal Reserve digits into the banking system nightly, mostly to four primary dealers according to Wall Street on Parade. The specific trade detail concerning these massive funding injections is largely unknown to the public… and there is no indication that the Fed will reveal the precise nature of this interbank lending issue any time soon. The Fed calls this massive Bank of Big overnight funding operation a “technicality” — and, like the Fed itself, is evidently an opaque technicality with no end.

Steve Brown

[1] In terms of narrow monetary outlook and the Swiss banker mentality, consider that the Swiss central bank — SNB — owns more shares of Facebook than any other, even more than Mark Zuckerberg.

[2] China can devalue its currency by flooding foreign exchanges with yuan. If they take US dollars in a yuan flood, China can also drive the dollar higher on the exchanges which so far the US has not resisted.

[3] The idea of US citizens being war consumers is of course justified by US history overall.

La Libye entre le rythme du Mehter et la dictature d’un nouveau tyran africain soutenu par les grandes puissances

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Les forces du Maréchal Khalifa Haftar, pressées par ses soutiens étrangers d’en finir avec l’assaut interminable de Tripoli, continuent d’avancer vers la capitale dans le cadre d’une nouvelle offensive qualifiée de “décisive”.

Sentant un danger imminent, le président du Gouvernement d’Union Nationale (GNA), Fayez al-Sarraj, le seul qui soit reconnu par les Nations Unies, a officiellement appelé à l’aide cinq pays “amis”: l’Algérie, les Etats-Unis, l’Italie, le Royaume-Uni et la Turquie.

Dans le camp rival, les forces de Haftar sont soutenus financièrement et militairement par l’Arabie Saoudite, l’Egypte, les Emirats Arabes Unis, la France et la Russie. Les Etats-Unis soutiennent également Haftar mais de façon bien plus discrète que celle des autres pays.

Des cinq pays “amis” auxquels le président du Gouvernement d’Union Nationale de Libye a adressé une demande d’aide, seule la Turquie est disposée à envoyer une force dite de réaction rapide à Tripoli dans le cade d’un Accord militaire bilatéral.

L’Algérie ne semble pas disposée à bouger le moindre petit doigt en Libye et se contente de renforcer le déploiement de dizaines de milliers de troupes et d’avions d’attaque au sol le long de ses frontières avec la Libye.

Les Etats-Unis et le Royaume-Uni attendent l’émergence d’un pôle de puissance en Libye pour le soutenir et abandonner al-Sarraj à son sort.

L’Italie, un pays membre de l’OTAN soutient Tripoli et est en rivalité totale avec la France en Libye mais n’osera jamais s’opposer à Washington sur le dossier libyen. Reste la Turquie.

Dans les faits, toutes les données convergent vers une intervention militaire turque en Libye. L’opposition de l’Egypte et son hostilité envers la Turquie, en grande partie motivées par l’idéologie mais surtout par l’émergence de la Turquie comme un leader régional, ne dépassera pas le cadre de la rhétorique belliqueuse en cas d’intervention militaire turque directe en Tripolitaine.

Dans le cas encore improbable où Le Caire opterait pour une confrontation armée avec la Turquie en Libye, l’Egypte n’a quasiment aucune chance de l’emporter. La Turquie est toujours un pays membre de l’OTAN et un des alliés les plus proches de l’actuelle administration Trump.

Le seul pays qui pourrait interférer de façon plus ou moins efficace contre une intervention militaire turque directe en Libye demeure la Russie dont le soutien à Haftar étonne l’Algérie et il demeure clair que c’est là un des principaux points de divergence entre Alger et Moscou.

Les Algériens ne considèrent nullement Haftar comme digne de confiance ou fiable et le perçoivent plutôt comme un simple agent d’une stratégie internationale qui le dépasse. Pour sa part, le Maréchal Khalifa Haftar est résolument hostile à l’Algérie et ce sentiment est hérité du temps de l’ancien régime de Gaddafi.

Piégé par sa politique de non-intervention, mais également par ses liens de coopération étroite dans le domaine de l’industrie militaire avec les Emirats Arabes Unis, le commandement militaire algérien n’interviendra pas dans un conflit qu’il considère “provoqué” par le désastre de l’intervention de l’OTAN en Libye en 2011.

Par contre, l’opinion algérienne, de plus en plus turcophile depuis quelques années, est majoritairement favorable à une alliance militaire avec la Turquie pour intervenir en Libye. Indubitablement, le pouvoir Algérien ne suivra jamais cette voie car il considère toujours la Turquie comme un membre de l’OTAN et donc une partie du problème.

Les Etats-Unis jouent sur les deux tableaux et soutiennent simultanément les deux belligérants en Libye. Les médias mainstream ont une fâcheuse tendance à présenter la guerre civile libyenne comme une lutte entre un Gouvernement d’union nationale opposé à un Parlement armé lequel se serait exilé à Tobrouk en Cyrénaïque, lui même soutenu par l’Armée Nationale Libyenne dirigée par Haftar.

Cette description est pour moins mensongère dans la mesure où les forces de Haftar, lesquelle se sont arrogé le droit d’usurper la qualité de forces armées sont considérées comme de simples milices que les soutiens étrangers de Haftar ont mieux armés. Quand au Parlement, il est composé des seigneurs de guerre, des chefs de milices plus ou moins autonomes et réclamant chacune un apanage et le contrôle de ressources dans un fief. La situation est encore plus complexe au Fezzan où les rapports de forces sont encore plus profondément marquées et imbriquées. En filigrane se dressent les ombres des partisans de l’ancien régime qui se sont réarmés ou encore les grands contrebandiers qui contrôlent les bandes armées au Sahel et qui se sont alliés objectivement à des réseaux luttant contre la présence militaire étrangère au Mali, au Niger, au Burkina Faso et au Tchad.

En tout état de cause, la Libye qui demeure un pays très riche en pétrole, attise beaucoup de convoitises et de rivalités géostratégiques dont les soubresauts risquent d’embraser la méditerranée centrale après avoir emporté le Sahel. Entre la résurrection du Mehter turc (un ancien orchestre militaire des Janissaires) et un tyran sanguinaire soutenu par les grandes puissances, la dance risque de ne pas être de tout repos. La déstabilisation de la Libye par l’OTAN a eu des conséquences désastreuses sur l’Europe (multiplication par un facteur de 250 du flux migratoire) et le Sahel dont une grande partie échappe désormais à tout contrôle.

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