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Regional geopolitics

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  • Re: Regional geopolitics

    Kazakh President Warns The 'Real Crisis Is Coming'

    When Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev said on October 19 that a "real crisis is coming" to his country, it must have sent chills down the spines of Kazakhstan's people.

    Many people in Kazakhstan are already in a crisis situation and for more than a year they have been listening to government officials downplay the severity of the economic problems, only to learn later that those problems were worse than they had been led to believe. And now the president says the "real" trouble is about to begin.

    RFE/RL's Kazakh Service, known locally as Azattyq, has been reporting regularly on the worsening economic situation in Kazakhstan.

    On October 20, Azattyq reported on Anar, a schoolteacher, who together with her husband, a driver in Almaty, is raising six children on a combined monthly budget of some 100,000 tenge.

    "Our income is barely enough for daily meals, not to mention school supplies or clothing," Anar told Azattyq.

    Less than two years ago, 100,000 tenge per month would have been an adequate amount of money, somewhere around $650. The government devalued the tenge to about 180 to $1 in February 2014. At the time the government promised there would be no second devaluation.

    However, Kazakhstan's economy is dependent on oil exports. The falling price of oil hit Kazakhstan hard but Russia, one of Kazakhstan's leading trade partners, allowed its currency, the ruble, to fall and this also put strains on the tenge. Kazakhstan's government fended off the pressure on the tenge by staging currency interventions.

    Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev
    Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev
    But it became increasingly clear a second devaluation was inevitable, so it was not so surprising when the presidential election was moved forward from 2016 to April 2015. Many assumed Nazarbaev wanted to secure a fresh term in office before the full impact of economic difficulties hit the country.

    In July, Kazakhstan's National Bank widened the trading corridor, allowing the tenge to slide a bit to as low as 198 to $1, but just a month later the anticipated second devaluation was implemented and the tenge fell to 255 to $1. Some Kazakh officials suggested the exchange rate would correct shortly and the tenge would strengthen. Instead it weakened and was 277 as of October 22. And now there is talk of a third devaluation being necessary.

    Already Anar and her family have gone from making the equivalent of $650 to $350 a month. But since the government promised to hold down prices for basic goods, in theory the tenge's loss of value shouldn't have such a great impact on the ability to buy food using the national currency.

    Suspicious Price Hikes

    Azattyq spoke to merchants selling food and they all said their suppliers have raised the prices. According to these merchants, who requested their names not be used, before the second devaluation, sunflower oil was 300 tenge, now it costs about 440, rice went from 240 to 280, the average price of milk increased by 20 tenge, the price of sugar by 30 tenge.

    One merchant who gave his first name, Gulsym, said, "We don't get milk from America. Sugar and rice we also produce ourselves in the country...I can't understand why these became more expensive."

    On October 21, Adel Kaliev, a top official in the investigative department of Kazakhstan's antimonopoly agency, said the agency had also learned of suspicious hikes in prices for basic goods and would be hunting for violators.

    Others in Kazakhstan are in a more desperate situation. They have recently lost their jobs as the country's enterprises lay off employees to cut costs.

    Azattyq sent a request for information about job cuts to the Health and Social Development Ministry's Committee for Labor, Social Protection, and Migration. The committee provided some figures for the first nine months of 2015.Data showed that, in 381 businesses surveyed in Kazakhstan that employed more than 189,000 people, 5.8 percent of workers (11,039) were laid off. That is three times the number of workers laid off during the January-September period last year (3,663), according to the committee's figures.

    And, of course, as President Nazarbaev just said, the real crisis is coming. At that same time he also told Prime Minister Karim Masimov that the government's Nurly Zhol (Bright Path) economic program included funds for retraining those out of work because of job cuts so they could find employment in other sectors.

    No Vacancies

    Almaty resident Gulbanu Orazalieva told Azattyq she had been working at a local bread factory for 10 years but was recently dismissed without any warning as the factory implemented cuts.

    "If we had heard about the impending cuts a month ago, we would have started looking for other work," Orazalieva said. "I have four children, I have debt. How am I going to survive?" she asked.

    Orazalieva said she could not even find work as a dishwasher at a cafe since those jobs were all going to younger women.

    Bektur told Azattyq that he worked for 17 years at a local television station and even when he was laid off he was confident he would be able to find employment at another station.

    "I have been [to all of the stations], and they tell me they are expecting to make cuts soon or don't have any vacancies. In the end I lost all hope that I would find a job in my field," Bektur said.

    Timur Nazhanov, the chairman of the Almaty Independent Association of Entrepreneurs, said the country is already in an economic crisis. And he pointed to Russia as having contributed to Kazakhstan's economic woes.

    "We are in the Eurasian Economic Union. That has complicated getting supplies of goods from Europe. Russia's goal is to defend its goods. Kazakhstan imports a large part of its goods. Russia increased the number of obstacles for imports to Kazakhstan…at the start of the year Russian goods arrived at a very low price, sales of products from our enterprises -- vehicles, agricultural goods -- weakened," Nazhanov explained.

    And now, according to the president, the "real crisis" is about to hit.

    Many people in Kazakhstan are already in a crisis situation and for more than a year they have been listening to government officials downplay the severity of the economic problems, only to learn later that those problems were worse than they had been led to believe.


    What can we take from this? That Azerbaijan too is about to face the "real crisis."


    • Re: Regional geopolitics


      • Re: Regional geopolitics

        Ban due on direct flights between Russia and Ukraine
        By Sarah Rainsford
        BBC News, Moscow

        Direct flights between Ukraine and Russia will stop on Sunday, as new sanctions initiated by Kiev come into effect.
        Moscow first called Kiev's ban on Russian airlines "madness", then announced that it would mirror the move.
        Ukraine now says flights will end at midnight on Saturday, after last-minute crisis talks failed.
        Up to 70,000 passengers a month will be affected.
        The sanctions are intended to punish Russia for annexing Crimea and supporting armed rebels in eastern Ukraine. The fact that they have been introduced now, when a ceasefire is finally holding on the ground, shows how bitter relations remain.
        Russia has accused Ukraine of shooting itself in the foot with the move, pointing out that most passengers are Ukrainian travelling to work in Russia, visiting relatives or in transit.
        But two-thirds of all passengers travel on Russian airlines.
        Russia's transport minister has estimated that the loss in ticket sales to both countries will run to around $110m (£73m) a year.

        The ban is already angering passengers from both countries.
        "The government does things and it's the people who suffer," Ukrainian Alexander Vyshnevsky said, after checking-in for one of the last remaining flights to Kiev from Moscow.
        He had been visiting his Russian wife and daughter.
        "Russia and Ukraine are like one country for me. Half of Ukraine is married to Russians. So this is total nonsense," Mr Vyshnevsky added.
        "This is stupid," Russian Konstantin Fokin agreed, before his own flight to Kiev. His sister lives in Ukraine and travelling to see her will now be difficult.
        "Lots of people have relatives in both Russia and Ukraine and they want to communicate. It's up to the authorities to stop this stupidity," Mr Fokin said.
        Last-minute talks to find a compromise are under way - so far to no avail - and the chances of success look slim in this climate.
        So as of Sunday, passengers will be forced to take longer, more expensive routes via third countries, or to brace themselves for a 13-hour trip by train.


        • Re: Regional geopolitics

          Hizballah is creeping up on Israel’s Golan border, relying on Russian military cover


          Wholly preoccupied with the ferocious Palestinian terror campaign washing over their country, Israelis have scarcely noticed that Hizballah forces, believing they are protected by the Russian military presence in Syria, are creeping toward Israel’s northeastern Golan border. DEBKAfile reports: The Lebanese group thinks it is a step away from changing the military balance on the Golan to Israel’s detriment and gaining its first Syrian jumping-off base against the Jewish state – depending on the Syrian-Hizballah forces winning the fierce battle now raging around Quneitra opposite Israel’s military positions.

          For two years, Hizballah, egged on intensely by Iran, has made every effort to plant its forces along the Syrian border with Israel. For Tehran, this objective remains important enough to bring Al Qods Brigades chief, Gen. Qassem Soleiman, on a visit last week to the Syrian army’s 90th Brigade Quneitra base, which is the command post of the battle waged against Syrian rebel forces.
          Soleimani, who is commander-in-chief of Iran’s military operations across the Middle East, is acting as military liaison in Syria between Tehran and Moscow.
          DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the Iranian general inspected the Quneitra battle lines no more than 1.5-2 km from the Israeli Golan border. He arrived a few days after Revolutionary Guards Col. Nader Hamid, commander of Iranian and Hizballah forces in the region, died there fighting against Syrian rebels.
          His death betrayed the fact that not only are Hizballah forces gaining a foothold on the strategic Golan enclave, but with them are Iranian servicemen, officers and troops.
          While in Quneitra, the Iranian general also sought to find out whether Col. Hamid really did die in battle or was targeted for assassination by Israel to distance Iranian commanders from its border.
          Just 10 months ago, on Jan. 18, Israel drones struck a group of Iranian and Hizballah officers who were secretly scouting the Quneitra region for a new base. Iranian Gen. Ali Mohamad Ali Allah Dadi died in that attack.
          But Tehran and Hizballah are again trying their luck. During his visit to Quneitra, Soleimani called up reinforcements to boost the 500 Hizballah fighters in the sector.
          Seen from Israel, the Syrian conflict is again bringing enemy forces into dangerous proximity to its border.
          The Iranian general and Russian Air Force commanders agree that the drawn-out battle for Quneitra will not be won without Russian air strikes against the rebels holding out there. A decision to extend Russia’s aerial campaign from northern and central Syria to the south would be momentous enough to require President Vladimir Putin’s personal approval.
          This decision would, however, cross a strong red line Israel laid down when Binyamin Netanyahu met Putin on Sept. 21 in Moscow and when, last week, a delegation of Russian generals visited Tel Aviv to set up a hot line for coordinating Israeli and Russian air operations over Syria.
          Israeli officials made it very clear that Iranian and Hizballah forces would not be permitted to establish a presence opposite the Israeli Golan border and that any Russian air activity over southern Syria and areas close to its borders was unacceptable.
          The possibility of Israeli fighter jets being scrambled against Russian aerial intervention in the Quneitra battle was not ruled out.
          This state of affairs was fully clarified to Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint US Chiefs of Staff, when he was taken on a trip this week to the southern Golan under the escort of IDF Chief of Staff Gen. Gady Eisenkot and OC Northern Command Gen. Avivi Kochavi. He visited the command post of Brig. Yaniv Azor, commander of the Bashan Division, which will be called upon for action if the hazard to Israel’s security emanating the Quneitra standoff takes a dangerous turn.


          • Re: Regional geopolitics

            Latest news from Syrian fronts:
            - yesterday the last highway to Haleb, is cut near Restan, on a section of 6 Km by rebels, despite russian air strikes.
            - since the russian intervention, the US is trying to reiterate the afghan proxy war scenario. Apparently they floaded the Hama and Homs (beseiged) sectors by hundreds of very dangerous, easy to use TOW missiles. Already last WE, the Syrian army lost 38 Tanks and BMP-s only on the sectors of Sahl-el Ghab (Vorontes valley) and Hama/Homs....

            -This anti-tank missiles seems to have balanced the armor advantage of the syrian army, grately halting the ground offensive .
            This element seems to be highly instructive for us.
            As was the war of Lebanon in 2006.
            A well equipped antitank system, manages to halt the armor of the syrian army, in a much more armor friendly terrain than ours, and with much more disbalance between the armor of both sides....


            • Re: Regional geopolitics

              Global view of situation in Levant:

              this is the best I could find.
              If someone has a better one, please do post.

              look list maps on dates,
              Last edited by Vrej1915; 10-25-2015, 03:25 AM.


              • Re: Regional geopolitics

                Russian Ships Near Data Cables Are Too Close for U.S. Comfort

                WASHINGTON — Russian submarines and spy ships are aggressively operating near the vital undersea cables that carry almost all global Internet communications, raising concerns among some American military and intelligence officials that the Russians might be planning to attack those lines in times of tension or conflict.

                The issue goes beyond old worries during the Cold War that the Russians would tap into the cables — a task American intelligence agencies also mastered decades ago. The alarm today is deeper: The ultimate Russian hack on the United States could involve severing the fiber-optic cables at some of their hardest-to-access locations to halt the instant communications on which the West’s governments, economies and citizens have grown dependent......
                Politics is not about the pursuit of morality nor what's right or wrong
                Its about self interest at personal and national level often at odds with the above.
                Great politicians pursue the National interest and small politicians personal interests


                • Re: Regional geopolitics

                  Սիրիական զորքն ազատագրել է երկրի հիմնական ավտոմայրուղու մի հատվածը. РИА Новости

                  Սիրիայի կառավարական զորքերը վերահսկողության տակ են առել Դամասկոս-Հոմս՝ երկրի հիմնական ավտոմայրուղու մի հատվածը։

                  Այդ մասին РИА Новости գործակալությանը հայտնել է ռազմական աղբյուրը։

                  «Մենք այժմ վերահսկում ենք Դամասկոս-Հոմս ավտոմայրուղու՝ մայրաքաղաքից Հարասթա տանող հատվածը: Մնացել է մաքրել Դամասկոսից Հոմս տանող մոտ 10 կիլոմետրանոց հատված, և հետո հնարավոր կլինի անվտանգ երթևեկել»,-ասել է գործակալության զրուցակիցը:

                  Դամասկոսից Հոմս հասնելու համար անհրաժեշտ է շրջանցել արվարձանները: Հարասթա, Ջոբար և Դումա բնակավայրերը շարունակում են մնալ զինյալ խմբավորումների վերահսկողության տակ։

                  Այնտեղ ավելի քան 7000 զինյալ կա։ Սիրիական բանակը շարունակում է հարձակումը Հարասթայի ու Ջոբարի ուղղությամբ։


                  • Re: Regional geopolitics


                    0 US led coalition strikes in Syria in past 3 days.

                    Strikes against IS in Iraq are as usual
                    Politics is not about the pursuit of morality nor what's right or wrong
                    Its about self interest at personal and national level often at odds with the above.
                    Great politicians pursue the National interest and small politicians personal interests


                    • Re: Regional geopolitics