<![CDATA[Hedgehogs.net: '' related content]]> http://www.hedgehogs.net/tag/foreign+minister?view=rss http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11436195/israel-calls-palestinian-un-draft-a-gimmick Thu, 18 Dec 2014 10:00:48 +0000 http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11436195/israel-calls-palestinian-un-draft-a-gimmick <![CDATA[Israel calls Palestinian U.N. draft a gimmick]]>

http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11434987/deadly-suicide-bombing-interrupts-play Sun, 14 Dec 2014 07:19:57 +0000 http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11434987/deadly-suicide-bombing-interrupts-play <![CDATA[Deadly suicide bombing interrupts play]]> ]]> 11434987 http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11434706/china-enters-fight-against-isis Sun, 14 Dec 2014 01:11:43 +0000 http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11434706/china-enters-fight-against-isis <![CDATA[China Enters Fight Against ISIS]]> China Offers to Help Iraq Defeat Isis.
China has offered to help Iraq defeat Sunni extremists with support for air strikes, according to Ibrahim Jafari, Iraq’s foreign minister.

Wang Yi, Mr Jafari’s Chinese counterpart, made the offer to help defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as Isis, when the two men met in New York at September’s UN antiterrorism meeting, Mr Jafari said.

Any Chinese assistance would be outside the US-led coalition. “[Mr Wang] said, our policy does not allow us to get involved in the international coalition,” Mr Jafari told the Financial Times in Tehran, where he was attending an anti-extremism conference earlier this week.

China is the largest foreign investor in Iraq’s oil sector and stands to lose the billions its state-owned groups have ploughed into the country if the fields are lost to the insurgents. Sinopec operates in Kurdistan, while China National Petroleum Corp has interests in the giant Rumaila field near Basra and in Maysan province near the Iranian border. CNPC has already effectively abandoned oilfields it operated in Syria.

Global Times, the Chinese newspaper, reported this week that Isis crews were dismantling a small refinery, in which a Chinese company has invested, west of Baiji to scavenge equipment for Isis-controlled refineries in Mosul, Iraq’s second-biggest city.

What Iraq needed now was more weapons, Mr Jafari said: “Our problem is with the supply of arms and weaponry.” The Iraqi army was trained and equipped by US forces before 2011, but many of its US-supplied weapons have fallen into the hands of Isis.
US-Made Mess

There you have it. China volunteers to help clean up a 100% US-made mess.

It's not out of the goodness of their hearts, China's own interests are in play.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11431523/taliban-bomb-school-play-about-bombs Fri, 12 Dec 2014 00:21:37 +0000 http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11431523/taliban-bomb-school-play-about-bombs <![CDATA[Taliban bomb school play about bombs]]> ]]> 11431523 http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11430298/pm-netanyahu-outsmarts-himself Fri, 05 Dec 2014 16:30:29 +0000 http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11430298/pm-netanyahu-outsmarts-himself <![CDATA[PM Netanyahu Outsmarts Himself]]>
Well, 24 hours passed and the jungle of Israeli politics was again in full display.

The anti-Putsch PM, so it is reported, sent his men to try and entice members of Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party [Yesh Atid = there is a future] to join an alternative coalition government, composed of the secular and religious right wing parties. This is Israeli politics, but a little more than the usual folklorist, if not outright ugly, side of this politics. So, what is going on?

The early polls taken in Israel indicate that the PM may know what he is doing, as the possibility of an alternative center-left government seems impossible. Polls can be misleading, but assuming that the drift to the right is strategic, and the demographic electoral trends of the public are what they have been for most of the last 35 years, then Netanyahu will indeed retain his job. A simple question looms: so what? What will the PM really do in the day after? Sure, he can re-establish a government based on the almost traditional alliance between Likud and the right wing and religious parties. A coalition like that will have to include Avigdor Lieberman as Foreign Minister and Naftali Bennett as Defense Minister. The dream team of the hard core right wing, and the nightmare of almost every one else in Israel, but not less important, a disaster for the pro-Israel community in the US, as well as almost anywhere else in the world.

Even a very friendly American Congress, and the newly-elected one is definitely VERY friendly, will not be able to stem Israel's quick drift to isolation, pressures and possible Security Council resolution in favor of the establishment of a Palestinian state, which will be unopposed by the Obama administration.

If a government with Lapid and Livni proved unable to move Netanyahu towards a political move with the Palestinian Authority[ PA], complementing the defeat inflicted on Hamas in the summer, based on the continuing good will of Egypt under President Al-Sisi, then no need to have any illusions about a Lieberman-Bennett stranglehold of a newly-elected Netanyahu.

Surely enough, Mahmoud Abbas bears responsibility to the current limbo, and the support he gets from some parliaments in Europe and the daily barrage of condemnations of Israel, emanating from the State Department, is very detrimental, but Netanyahu may have missed his own golden opportunity to turn a military success in Gaza into a political initiative in the West Bank.

Regardless of his statements, Netanyahu knows full well that from now to the projected day of the elections [17 March, 2015, save for any last-minute change] that the US and many other friendly states will do their utmost to derail his campaign in order to prevent his reelection. It will be a mistake, as Israelis do not like this kind of foreign interference, but there will not also be 100 days of grace after the elections. The unbearable diplomatic pressures will come fast and furious, and the results could be very damaging.

It is, of course, possible that even after all his years at the helm, Netanyahu genuinely believes that he can somehow use his wonders and evade the scenario just described, but then policy cannot be based on hopes, illusions and shifty sands.

The day after the elections will be Netanyahu's utmost test of leadership during his entire career. The man knows the world, he knows the US, he understands world economics, so the big question is, can he REALLY be genuine in his push towards new elections, or did he gamble on a move of shock politics, outsmarting Lapid, Livni, the Labor Party and other political challengers, forcing his erstwhile partners to rejoin a new coalition government, out of fear of a defeat in the upcoming elections?

Well, too early to give a definitive, final answer, but here are growing signs that even a well experienced political fox can outsmart himself, more than his rivals.]]>
http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11428464/russias-sergey-lavrov-clash-of-civilizations Thu, 04 Dec 2014 16:00:09 +0000 http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11428464/russias-sergey-lavrov-clash-of-civilizations <![CDATA[Russia's Sergey Lavrov 'Clash of Civilizations']]> Since the Western Press has directed their wrath at Vladimir Putin as their latest villain, while his approval rate soars to 88% in Russia, most Americans are not familiar with Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov ... Read More...

http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11427973/70-rebel-attacks-in-east-ukraine-military Thu, 04 Dec 2014 11:31:44 +0000 http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11427973/70-rebel-attacks-in-east-ukraine-military <![CDATA[70 rebel attacks in east Ukraine: military]]> A Ukrainian serviceman fires a cannon positioned close to the airport in the eastern Ukranian city of Donetsk on December 2, 2014


http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11426907/germany-and-russia-a-new-ostpolitik Wed, 03 Dec 2014 13:20:46 +0000 http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11426907/germany-and-russia-a-new-ostpolitik <![CDATA[Germany and Russia: A new Ostpolitik]]>
Putin wags a finger at Mutti
OVER the past year, Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, has become the West’s diplomatic shield against Russia’s Vladimir Putin. That is partly because America’s Barack Obama is distracted and weakened by his midterm elections. It is also because nobody else in the European Union has the same clout with Russia as Germany’s cool, self-controlled chancellor. So it matters when Mrs Merkel loses her temper. After some 40 conversations with Mr Putin over the Ukraine crisis, and a particularly frustrating four hours of talks at the recent G20 summit in Brisbane, Mrs Merkel was at last ready to call things by their proper name.Mr Putin “tramples with his feet on international law”, she told an Australian think-tank. His thinking on spheres of influence seems atavistic. Will Mr Putin next claim Moldova? The Balkans? His actions and his deceitful methods violate European values. She worries about a “wider conflagration” (the German term literally means “spreading fire”). It was the first time she had spoken so clearly, so publicly.But Mrs Merkel’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, appeared to contradict her...

http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11426906/the-cyprus-problem-intractableor-insoluble Wed, 03 Dec 2014 13:20:44 +0000 http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11426906/the-cyprus-problem-intractableor-insoluble <![CDATA[The Cyprus problem: Intractableâor insoluble?]]>
EUROPEAN UNION countries loudly criticise Russia for creating frozen conflicts in Georgia, Moldova and, now, Ukraine. Yet they are quieter about their own case of Cyprus, an EU member with an unrecognised Turkish-Cypriot north. This frozen conflict is older: over 50 years have passed since clashes broke out between Turkish- and Greek-Cypriots, 40 since Turkey invaded and grabbed northern Cyprus and ten since the Annan plan for unification that Turkish-Cypriots accepted but Greek-Cypriots rejected.Bitter experience recommends scepticism about talks on Cyprus. Even so, a sixth round is under way. In February the two sides agreed to work for a bizonal, bicommunal federation “with political equality”. A new UN envoy, Espen Barth Eide, a former Norwegian foreign minister, arrived in September. The (Greek-Cypriot) president, Nicos Anastasiades, who backed the Annan plan, is eager for a deal. He knows well the cost of not having one: from the garden of his presidential palace in Nicosia (“Europe’s last divided city”) he can see the Turkish-Cypriot flag emblazoned on the Pentadaktylos mountains.Two newer developments ought to spur the negotiators on. One...

http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11425261/us-should-talk-to-north-korea-whoever-is-in-charge Sun, 30 Nov 2014 00:38:54 +0000 http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/hhwebadmin/item/11425261/us-should-talk-to-north-korea-whoever-is-in-charge <![CDATA[U.S. Should Talk to North Korea, Whoever Is in Charge]]>
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea continues its policy of mixing threats and entreaties. A high level delegation visited Seoul to propose further talks and warmer relations. Days later the North's troops were exchanging gunfire with the Republic of Korea's military. Only to be followed by an inconclusive military meeting. And most recently the apparent collapse of bilateral negotiations.

The DPRK's Kim disappeared from public view for 40 days. His reported health problems -- gout or ankle or foot surgery -- should not have prevented him from attending important meetings and being filmed while sitting. And his return was not entirely convincing: Pyongyang only released undated still photos of a smiling Kim leaning on a cane while talking with other officials. Since then he appears to be back to normal on his "guidance" tours.

There were no untoward troop movements or party conclaves in the North, though there was disputed talk of a "lock-down" restricting movement in and out Pyongyang. When visiting Seoul regime number two, Vice Marshal Hwang Pyong-so, seemed to enjoy some of the trappings of power previously limited to the supreme leader. The conflicting signs reawakened questions about the execution of Kim's uncle, Jang Song-taek, a year ago. Was it Kim's decision, or one forced on him by the military, which apparently had clashed with Jang over control of economic enterprises? There is no stability in the regime's upper reaches: In his nearly three years at the top Kim has replaced upwards of half of the party's and military's top officials, changing some positions multiple times.

Whoever reigns, there is little reason to hope for nuclear disarmament. To the contrary, the North appears to be increasing production of fissile material, moving ahead on ICBM development, and upgrading rocket launch facilities. Who in Pyongyang has an incentive to abandon a weapon which causes the rest of the world to pay attention to an otherwise small, impoverished, and even irrelevant nation? Why trade away an effective tool of financial blackmail, which has yielded billions in aid from the ROK?

Finally, even a seemingly secure Kim, the "Great Successor" whose father concocted the North's "military first" policy, would hesitate challenging the armed services by trading away its most important weapon. And if he is insecure -- or merely a figurehead for the military -- there is even less likelihood of a deal.

Yet there are signs of change elsewhere. Reforms in agriculture begun two years ago allow farmers to keep some of their produce, giving them greater incentives to grow crops privately. Moreover, the time of mass starvation appears to be over.

The economy appears to be growing, with more consumer goods evident, especially in Pyongyang. For instance, high heels reportedly are popular, following the style of Kim's wife, Ri Sol-ju. Sour political relations with the People's Republic of China have not prevented continuing Chinese aid, investment, and trade. The DPRK is not catching up with its capitalist rival, but North Korea also no longer appears to be sliding into an economic abyss. It also has turned itself into an exotic tourist destination, at least before apparently limiting foreign visitors out of fear of Ebola.

Moreover, Pyongyang appears to be adjusting diplomatic strategies yet again. After unsuccessfully attempting to use the plight of three imprisoned Americans to engage the Obama administration, the North released them. Washington negotiated to bring them home, but said nothing was promised in return.

North Korea's UN ambassador, So Se-pyong, indicated that the North was ready to return to the six-Party nuclear talks. In early October Pyongyang sent a surprisingly high-ranking delegation, including the country's reputed numbers 2 and 3, to Seoul, nominally for the Asian Games. The officials met with South Korean officials and proposed further talks, though the latter later foundered on the DPRK's demand that the South stop its citizens from targeting North Korea with leaflets. The North pushed its "charm offensive" elsewhere, including negotiations to resolve disputes with Japan and multiple travels by Foreign Minister Ri Su-yong, including to Southeast Asia and Russia.

Nothing suggests that the regime is close to collapse. Kim, assuming he is in control, could rule for decades, health permitting. Even if he has been shunted aside by an oligarchical elite, the system could survive for years. Rising expectations sometimes spark political upheaval, but that seems unlikely in North Korea.

Benefiting the most is the elite living in Pyongyang, which has much to lose from any loosening of political control. The impoverished rural population cannot easily organize. Radical change could come from a North Korean Gorbachev, but the DPRK is far less open to foreign influences. A military grab for power, assuming the politicians still rule, or social implosion are possible, but the system has proven its durability -- surviving mass starvation, for instance.

In this situation there is little to recommend the administration's continuing policy of isolating the North. Pyongyang routinely denounces America's "hostile" policy (the regime recently termed America equivalent to a "mentally retarded patient"), a concern which undoubtedly helps shape Pyongyang's policy. In August the DPRK's deputy UN representative, Ri Tong-il, complained that "No country in the world has been living like the DPRK under serious threats to its existence, sovereignty, survival." Later the foreign ministry denounced any talks with America, "the enemy keen to overthrow it."

Of course, the North's leaders are practiced cynics and their claims cannot be taken at face value. But even paranoids have enemies, it is said, and North Korea--surrounded by wealthier and more powerful adversaries (U.S., ROK, Japan) with but one increasingly irritated ally unlikely to offer military aid even in war (China) -- has reason to want to avoid an American-led attempt at preemption. A more pacific U.S. approach might not change the Kim regime's calculus. However, it's hard to imagine a less threatening DPRK without changing America's approach.

And that could come in part from diplomatic dialogue, not policy concessions. Washington should offer to establish low-key diplomatic relations, perhaps a consulate. There'd be an American diplomat available when the next American gets arrested for one reason or another. Visas would be more available for anyone allowed to visit the U.S.

More important, there would be a greater chance for bilateral dialogue. Of course, the regime could ignore any U.S. presence. That seems unlikely, however, given how vociferously Pyongyang has pushed for engagement. And such a facility would open a small but still useful window into North Korea, with Americans part of a small but growing diplomatic community.

Such a shift would be even more effective if coupled with policy changes that would be in America's interest in any case. Sanctions haven't shut the DPRK out of the world economy and won't do so as long as China remains open. In fact, North Korean trade, today about 90 percent with China, has increased significantly over the last three years.

The U.S. budget is broken and there's no justification for subsidizing the defense of populous and prosperous allies. Moreover, the North fixates on the U.S. because America is on its border.

Washington should bring home its troops, which most visibly threaten the North, especially when engaged in joint exercises with South Korean forces. The U.S. conventional presence is long outmoded: the South has around 40 times the GDP and twice the population of the DPRK. America should announce that it is phasing out its current deployments, since the Korean peninsula's future should be up to the Korean people.

Washington then could invite the North's authorities to reciprocate by pulling back advanced units, reducing tensions, and initiating negotiations. Progress could be met with expansion of diplomatic ties, membership in international organizations, and relaxation of economic sanctions. (The latter only work with Chinese support, and expanding sanctions actually has pushed the DPRK to increase trade with Beijing.) If Pyongyang genuinely desires greater international respect and lower military tensions, the U.S. should indicate its willingness to deal.

If Pyongyang failed to act, which would surprise no one, Washington would be no worse off. The U.S. could keep the minimal diplomatic relationship, and do nothing more. The South Koreans could decide how they want to respond. Then it would be much harder for them to blame America for the divided peninsula.

It also would be more difficult for Beijing to excuse North Korean misbehavior. For years Washington has urged the PRC to pressure the DPRK, but Chinese officials typically respond that America must reduce the factors driving Pyongyang toward confrontation. By making an attractive offer the U.S. would be telling both Beijing and the North to put up or shut up. Moreover, a troop withdrawal would eliminate the prospect that Korea unification would result in U.S. troops on China's border, a Chinese nightmare which discourages Beijing's cooperation with Washington.

Even a more responsive North Korea is unlikely to be a particularly friendly actor. Nevertheless, there is more hope for internal improvements in human rights and external talks over the issue if the international environment is less threatening for Pyongyang. In fact, the DPRK's foreign minister recently acknowledged the existence of "reform through labor detention centers," though he claimed they were meant to uplift wrongdoers. And the DPRK apparently has invited the UN's human rights investigator on North Korea to visit. America's earlier refusal to talk to the PRC gained nothing, while the famed Nixon opening helped create an environment more conducive to the reforms that emerged under China's post-Mao leadership.

Someday North Korea will pass away. Until then the country is likely to remain a mysterious challenge, unsettling an entire region, including its only nominal friend, China. Washington's best approach would be to extricate itself from confrontation and pursue dialogue, while leaving South Korea and Japan free to develop their separate policies.

Every strategy toward the DPRK so far seems to have failed. Anything adopted is likely to be only a second best. However, today even second best would be a major step forward. It's time for Washington to try something different.

This post first appeared at National Interest online.]]>