Aug-04-14 - by Rosendo Fraga
1. The US and its allies in the developed world fail to coordinate effective actions to curtail global conflicts. The model of cooperation with Russia for the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria or the G6 - the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (United States, United Kingdom, France, China and Russia) plus Germany- which served to bring Iran to the negotiating table to put its nuclear project under international oversight, do not prove effective against the conflict in Ukraine, in Gaza Strip, the offensive of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and that conducted by various organizations of Islamic extremism in African countries. The power of the US today is limited not only by the emergence of new powers on the international stage -such as China and Russia- but also because it is unthinkable that Obama, in the final phase of its second term, undertakes a war as the one he ended in Iraq and is rapidly ending in Afghanistan. Those who today want to challenge both the power of the US as the international order they do not face the possibility of the American military power on a large scale. Neither the President nor the public would allow it. But the international regulatory system represented by the UN is not operating nor is the spiritual power today embodied by Pope Francis as evidenced by the failure to achieve a cease-fire in the war that has broken out in Gaza.
2. In the conflict in Ukraine, the penalties imposed by the US and the EU do not seem to be enough for Putin to end with the military support to the separatists and impose a cease-fire. The downing of the Malaysian plane with nearly 300 passengers, half of whom were Dutch, has intensified sanctions involving the suspension of cooperation programs, the interruption of business operations and the freezing of accounts and assets of individuals. The suspension of military exports and scientific and technological exchange, as well as access to markets and banking operations, are affecting Russia, whose economy would already be in a recession. The Russian Prime Minister (Medvedev) has said that the situation will lead his country to increase military spending and Putin stated that cooperation agreements on security will be suspended. This situation encourages Russia to reach compromise with China to avoid further isolation. The US has reported that not only has delivery to separatists of surface-to-air missiles been confirmed as the one that downed the plane, but also from Russian territory artillery shots against Ukraine forces and positions are being launched. Today the fighting prevents reaching the plane wreckage. Violent actions of pro-Russian separatists are being taken in Moldova and Georgia, the two other countries of the former Soviet Union which, together with Ukraine, signed the union to the EU weeks ago. The UN reported that the dead in three months in this conflict exceed more than 1,000 and the displaced persons total more than 100,000. The complaint by the US and the EU that Russia has violated the 1987 nuclear agreement by conducting the experimental launch of a new cruise missile adds more tension.
3. The attempts to achieve a humanitarian truce in the Gaza conflict have not succeeded and the conflict not only continues but escalates. Despite the cost that Israel is paying in the public opinion of the developed world and the strong US pressures, Prime Minister Netanyahu has said that it will continue the "Defensive Shield" operation to disarm Hamas in the Gaza Strip, which implies the destruction of the tunnel network that connects to Israel and Egypt, of which less than 50% have been destroyed so far. According to the UN, the dead Palestinians total 1,300 and the wounded multiply this number by 4 or 5. The dead minors exceed 200 and more than 100 schools have been attacked. Israeli casualties exceed around fifty, but the Israeli public opinion continues supporting the offensive in majority. Protests against Israel extend in several capitals of Europe and in particular in Paris and London, where large populations who profess the Muslim religion live. The Sunni majority in the Arab and Muslim world does not support Hamas and does not seem to assume an active role in its support, as opposed to Iran and Syria of the Shia creed do. General Sisi - President of Egypt - has given his country a strategic role and is making efforts to achieve a truce, supported by the US and the EU. The efforts of Turkey and Qatar have been relegated.
4. The advance of the Islamic State group (ISIS) has been curtailed in Iraq and Syria, but at the same time has consolidated its domain over large territories. It dominates approximately one-third of the territory of each of the two countries. It imposes a regime of terror where it rules, forcing those who do not convert to the extreme Sunni Islam to leave their homes. Christian minorities are persecuted, but also 1,400-year old mosques are destroyed with bulldozers as an expression of religious fanaticism, as the Taliban did when they ruled Afghanistan. This "Caliphate" presided by Baghdadi has also ordered the genital mutilation of women up to 49 years old. Resistance begins to emerge among Sunnis themselves and Shia militiamen have started to hang the bodies of the members of the ISIS they kill. For its part, the US investigates whether this organization has acquired surface-to-air missiles that can shoot aircraft. One of the commanders of the Iranian Republican Guard said that the Palestinians who protest in the West Bank should be armed up to hasten the fall of the State of Israel and the same has been said by the highest political-religious authority in the country, Ayatollah Khamenei. As for Syria, according to the UN Observatory that follows the conflict, in three and a half years 170,000 people have been killed in that country. The ISIS has taken several oil and gas facilities and the Army -which lost 50 soldiers in a single ambush - has only managed to recover some. Fronts of conflict multiply in Muslim Africa. In Libya, fighting between groups of Islamic militiamen for the control of energy facilities near Tripoli airport facilities have caused in less than a week a hundred deaths and injured five hundred people. The US has evacuated staff from its Embassy in the country and the same is being done by several European countries. In Cameroon, the Boko Haram group –acting from Nigeria- kidnapped the wife of the Deputy Prime Minister. Mali and Somalia show the characteristics of "failed States", with wars between tribes and Muslim factions that fail to control Governments.
5. To conclude:
a) The US, allies and the UN seem to be burdened by the violent conflicts that occur around Russia between Israel and Palestine, in Iraq and Syria and several countries of Africa.
b) The sanctions of the US and the EU against Russia escalated after the toppling of the Malaysian plane but Putin does not stop military support to separatists.
c) Despite pressures from Washington and its allies on Israel, Netanyahu has stated the offensive continues and Hamas is willing to do the same.
d) The ISIS has been curtailed in Iraq and Syria but has consolidated domain in wide territories as Muslim extremists are on the offensive in many countries of Africa.