sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Friday, March 9, 2018

International Perspectives

I've been busy with this and that work project and this blog post is a bit of an overview of situations dealing with Turkey vs Kurds and general concepts being worked hard by Imperial China. Along with many others, I continue to have an interest in the situation in North Korea, that seems to be rapidly changing for the better. Maybe they don't want to commit national suicide? Time will tell. I hope you find this report interesting. 

Turkish Campaign against the Kurds in Iraq

The Turks and non-Kurdish Iraqis have come to an agreement to conduct a joint operation in northern Iraq in May according to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. Both the Iraqis and the Turks would like to see the Kurds wiped from the face of the Earth. It's a common theme.

Turkey's military operation in Syria’s Afrin region is ongoing, but Cavusoglu said that it will be completed by May and that Turkish troops could move to northern Iraq after that. He also said that Turkey has the ability to support two operations simultaneously.

Cavusoglu seems to have quietly revealed a change in the priority of Turkey’s Kurdish targets in neighboring countries. Since Operation Olive Branch began on 20 January, President Erdogan repeatedly has insisted that Manbij would be the next target for cleansing, after Turkish and Turkish-backed forces rid Afrin Canton of the People’s Defense/Protection Units (YPG). 

The Syrian Kurds and some Syrian Arab militias have reinforced Manbij and some US forces are present. A Turkish offensive against Manbij raised the prospect of a confrontation with the US. 

By leapfrogging military operations to Iraq, Erdogan postpones or, most likely, avoids such a confrontation. Still, Syrian Kurds at Manbij are on the west bank of the Euphrates River, which Erdogan said is a Turkish red line.

Eventually, given enough time and a large enough Turkish army, the Turks will encircle Afrin and kill everyone in the pocket. That's how they roll. Can the Kurds retreat before that happens? Time will tell. Then the Turks will declare victory, will withdraw eventually and the Kurds will return. But the Sultan will have a victory for the folks back home who have a history of enjoying a good genocide.

Lebanon-Israel

The Jerusalem Post reported that Hizballah declared the alert in reaction to intelligence that the Israeli army is conducting military maneuvers jointly with the United States, which are currently taking place in the country and in the Mediterranean.

US forces are conducting an exercise with the Israelis at this time. Israel might decide to launch an air attack against Hizballah targets in Syria or Lebanon while US forces are in the country, but it would not start a war with Lebanon, per se. Hizballah and Israel are jittery about each other’s intentions. Both expect a war is coming, but neither knows when.

Chinese Programs in Angola

As you know if you read the news or the occasional post in this blog, one key piece of Chinese planning involves acquisition of minerals outside China and bringing those minerals back to Big China. It's not a new program or plan, but one that has been pursued aggressively for the past twenty years.

A Chinese-rebuilt railroad in Angola will change trade patterns in southern Africa.

On 5 March, the first train to operate on the Benguela line in 34 years left Dilolo in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and reached Luau station in eastern Angola. From there it will travel to the deep-water port of Lobito, on the Atlantic Ocean.

The 25-car train carried 1,000 tonnes of manganese for export to China and India, according to the International Railway Journal. 

Ikos Rukal, spokesperson for the provincial government of Lualaba, where Dilolo is located, said the 1 300km Dilolo-Lobito route was "the most cost-effective form of transport" for exporting copper and cobalt from DRC's southern mining belt. It is a narrow-gauge railroad.

The line between Lobito and Luau was rebuilt by the China Railway Construction Corporation, and was formally inaugurated in February 2015. China Railway 20 Bureau Group Co (CR20) designed the project and performed the physical reconstruction of the line and the 67 stations, in addition to supplying rolling stock, for an investment valued at US$1.83 billion.

Without a link to the Atlantic Ocean coast, DRC's mineral ore was exported by truck via Zambia - a 900km trek on poor roads that greatly increased shipping costs and time. Other southern African ports also were used for mineral exports.

This infrastructure project at least rivals the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is the flagship project of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. 

In the original contracts, Angola received Chinese loans which were to be repaid in oil profits…when the per barrel price was $100. With the collapse of oil prices Angola has struggled to make payments and the Chinese cut corners on the project. For example, the single-track line lacks the capacity to handle passenger trains because the Chinese did not build as many sidings as planned to enable two-way traffic. Meanwhile, Angola has become the second largest supplier of oil to China, after Russia.

The project is typical of Chinese Belt and Road Initiative practices. China provided the loans by which Angola could buy all the construction materials, rolling stocks and engines from China and pay Chinese designers, engineers and construction workers. 

China is the primary customer for the resources that will transit the line and the beneficiary of the fall in oil prices. Angola is deeply in debt to China.

The immediate benefit to Angola is that the railroad has opened up the interior to new and previously impossible business opportunities for Angolans at every railroad stop on the line.

And in the USA

The Russia collusion story now has legs according to CNN. "Proof at last," as one CNN anchor crowed. "This will be the end of the Trump presidency. Impeachment proceedings are likely."


18 comments:

  1. Lol. Sean Connery plays highly competent men in the movies, I can't see him without recollecting a SNL skit lampooning Jeopardy. SNL cast members pretended to be celebrities with differing levels of intelligence with Connery being at the low end. On the category "Therapist," the Connery character refers to it as "The Rapist." It was a funny skit.

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    1. I recall that SNL skit. It was hilarious.

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  2. Will China be the first outside power to overcome AWA (Africa wins again)?

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    1. No. But they've been pulling a lot of metal and rare earth material out of Africa. Their ownership of Angola is interesting and they'll push that as far as they are able. There was a situation earlier in the year where a client expressed an interest in sending me to Angola for issues unrelated to the Chinese. That never materialized because I get paid in advance, or I don't work...been burned too many times. "Hey buddy" doesn't work anymore.

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  3. Great update. Chuckled about Sean Connery. Love Hunt for Red October.
    Have a blessed weekend!

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    1. If you loved it that much you would have moved to Montana to raise rabbits...

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    2. Sorry. Crawfish taste better. ;-)

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    3. And I like prawns better than crawfish, but that's just me. I've been to some wickedly good crawfish boils and they're very good, not as good as freshly caught prawns.

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  4. The Chinese have been after those minerals for at least 40 years. They've finally gotten at least a foothold, until the railroad craps out from lack of maintenance...

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    1. Entropy is the #1 enemy in Africa.

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  5. The hunt for Red October's taken quite some time. Then again, fishing demands patience.

    The Chinese seem smart and it reminds me of Britain, which built a mighty empire in much the same way.

    But will Africans enjoy the enlightenned rulership of the Heavenly Dynasty?

    Somehow I doubt it.

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    1. The Africans will bankrupt the Chinese efforts. It's what they do.

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  6. I saw a TV program where a Chinese Africa project was documented. The interesting part was the cultural difference between the China man and the African. The Chinese was efficient and productive. Their engineers was frustrated of the work ethic the local population had (or lack of). The Chinese did the job but the maintenance was supposed to be handled by the locals. The future looked grim. I guess the infrastructure projects will be degraded as time go.Very muck like what happened with the farmers in Zimbabwe when they where kicked out and the country started to lack food. Now Mugabe is in the shadow and white farmers are welcomed back. In South-Africa the have started to kill the farmers and I guess they will experience the same and go down the same path as Mugabe did. As long as China can dictate the terms and do the job I guess they will succeed with their goals. But Africa in general seem to be a place on earth that will never succeed on their own if you compare with industrialized OECD countries.

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    1. For the project to succeed, the Chinese need to colonize Angola and they will need to have Chinese people manage all aspects of their railroad. That was not the Chinese plan and it's the flaw of anything that people plan to do in Africa. It's not racist. It's fact. South Africa is intent on kicking out the whites. Frankly, I'm surprised that there are any still left in SA. A lot of them moved to Botswana and Namibia.

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    2. Given the potential Africa represents in every aspect if you do not take the people into consideration there should be no need for people to migrate from Africa. In theory they should have been able to benefit from the foreign direct investments China represents when building the infrastructure. But by some reason they do not. I watched Chain of Command at National Geographic and it is already a problem for the US that migrants travel to South America to be smuggled into the US. Build the Wall. The liberals and the left keep continuing on their mantra that everything is caused by the middle aged white man. But it is difficult for me to see the benefit for the US to let people from Africa in large numbers enter the US. Especially since so many of them are involved in groups that represents terrorism. I guess it is some kind of logic in having US military present trying to help out the locals to combat the terrorists. Better there than home as one officers expressed it. I have one concept that might work out and that is to motivate the leftists and the liberals to move to Africa and Make Africa Great Again. That would also help Making America Great Again. I guess we are talking great innovation and synergy here. The locals will for sure be happy to have a lot of liberals hanging around. I wonder how long it will take before the Chinese figure out it is better and cheaper to mine minerals at the Moon than Africa. I guess SA will be destroyed in some 10 years time. Then the tribes and politicians will have managed to make the last white man leave the country and they start to slaughter each other as they tend to do. In due time some Chinese or others will take over and start creating value and benefit from the natural resources and the fertile soil. It seems that the natural wealth and climate is so favorable that people in generations have not needed to develop the skills necessary to survive where the nature is rough. Enjoy the weekend.

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    3. Liberals TALK about liking everything about Africa and some of them may have been taken on an elite tour of a game preserve, but you'll note that none of them remain there - or so few as to make the number statistically insignificant. Obama didn't return to his beloved Kenya - where they suggest that he's queer...and homosexuality isn't welcomed there. Anyway, yes, Africa as a location has it all. The population of blacks have struggled to remain beyond the tribal level without massive outside aid.

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  7. >I saw a TV program where a Chinese Africa project was documented. The interesting part was the cultural difference between the China man and the African.

    Was this Empire of Dust? I've seen parts on YouTube, but not (I think) the whole thing. The (black African) interpreter seemed to be fairly stoic about the unvarnished criticisms by the Chinese guy. I was struck by two things: 1) Can you imagine the reaction if a non-black said even a VERY toned-down version of the Chinese guy's comments to a black in the US or the EU? 2) From my recollection, the black interpreter's Mandarin was, ironically, actually better (free-of-regional-accent wise) than the Chinese man's.

    As to the probability of the Sino-African Lovefest and Mutual Co-Prosperity Sphere (Salam-CoPS), I wrote elsewhere:
    *white racism. Hoo boy, that’s NOTHING compared to Chinese racism. Chinese look down on EVERYONE as inferior, and that includes other high-IQ northeast Asians, who along with white Westerners, are inferior but more-or-less human. Brown people (of various sorts) are borderline human, and Africans? Forget about it. It’s ingrained in the Chinese world view. Drive out the whites, end up needing the Chinese [to keep things running], and the Africans will be REALLY [screwed].

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  8. Thanks for the informative post, your the best news source around...

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