Meaningless Saudi-Iran rivalry! (Part One)

Meaningless Saudi-Iran rivalry!

– Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

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Part One

It should be clear even to school children that anti-Islamic forces and media promote and fuel the Saudi-Iran conflict which itself is a misunderstanding of Islam and an anomaly. However Saudi kingdom and Iran- both important producers of oil -promote capitalism as a central part of their own versions of “Islamic” system.

It is a known fact that the reestablishment of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia will bring stability not only to the West Asia region but will also steadily increase constructive ties among Muslim nations.

Strange phenomenon

At the outset, one can call this phenomenon being insanity or simply nonsense the way the supposedly Islamic leaders Saudi Arabia and Iran keep fighting over cooked up issues or mere suspicions, ignoring even the sincere mediatory efforts of Turkey to bring them together and jointly launch a joint alliance to defend the destabilized Muslim nations and protect the interests of entire Islamic world

Iran and Saudi Arabia are, and any mediation efforts that lead to reducing the tension between them will affect oil prices positively. The enmity between Iran and Saudi Arabia is a persistent feature of Middle Eastern geopolitics. Both states hold regional standing: Iran has a large population and a long history of nationhood, while Saudi Arabia holds significant oil reserves and is custodian of Islam’s holiest sites.

In the region’s geopolitical shift Iran’s influence continues to grow, and Saudi Arabia pursues unsound foreign policies while domestic discontent like high unemployment grows. Thus, Saudi Arabia’s desire to repair relations with Iran is a strategic move and has nothing to do with Islamic brotherhood

Apparently, nothing can proceed in Saudi Arabia, from a policy perspective, without the blessing of the hardline conservative religious establishment. Mohamed bin Salman has treated the religious establishment as allies against radicalism rather than as cultural adversaries. MBS’s argument that extreme religious conservatism in Saudi Arabia is a relatively recent phenomenon, born in reaction to the 1979 Iranian revolution, is rather absurd.

 

Obviously Turkey has taken a calculated risk in undertaking steps to unite Islamic nations to serve the cause of Islam against the wishes of USA-Israel led anti-Islamic world. This is ridiculous in the face of   imperialist threats from anti-Islamic world.

 Saudi compulsion

 

It looks like Saudi Arabia is finally realizing that its impulsive strategies and ill-conceived policies are not working in its favor and therefore reports suggest that Saudi Arabia rushes to mend ties with Iran. This change of heart from Saudi Arabia is due not only to the Middle East’s complex political dynamics, but also the kingdom’s declining regional political clout.

 

The future of Saudi Arabia will change as it settles into the region’s geopolitical shift. That landscape is one in which (a) Iran’s influence continues to grow, and (b) Saudi Arabia pursues unsound foreign policies while domestic discontent (high unemployment) grows.

 

Saudi Arabia’s desire therefore to repair relations with Iran is a strategic move and has nothing to do with Islamic brotherhood or any other slogan.

 

Apparently, Iran and Saudi Arabia off and on have made efforts to come together. Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), the impulsive crown prince who once said that he would take the fight to Iran, reached out to Haider al-Abadi, the Iraqi prime minister, requesting that al-Abadi lead a mediation effort with Iran.

 

The kingdom’s demand for Iraq to act as a mediator to mend Saudi Arabia’s relations with Iran shows that the desert kingdom realizes a pragmatic political truth: Rather than fight Iran on all fronts, it makes sense to reestablish relations, to work together (though on the surface only) to resolve regional issues (Syria, Yemen, Iraq, etc.), and to find a common ground on oil prices.

 

Shia-majority Iraq lies on the fault line between Shia-Iran and Sunni-ruled Arab Gulf monarchies that include Saudi Arabia. The kingdom’s demand for Iraq to act as a mediator to mend Saudi Arabia’s relations with Iran shows that the desert kingdom realizes a pragmatic political truth: Rather than fight Iran on all fronts, it makes sense to reestablish relations, to work together (though on the surface only) to resolve regional issues (Syria, Yemen, Iraq, etc.), and to find a common ground on oil prices.

The guess is that someone is advising the Saudi leadership not to lock horns with Iran because China and Russia will work behind the scenes to pull the two nations apart (as a favor to Iran). Saudi Arabia wants to accelerate the inevitable political changes that will speed across the region once the Syrian conflict is resolved (if ever), tensions in Yemen subside, the blockade of Qatar gets lifted, and oil prices stabilize.

 

However, Iran and the world large is concerned about the Saudis’ empty promises, false indications, and misreading.

 

Saudi Arabia has taken it its right to be the leader of Islamic world in the region. The desert kingdom’s initiative stems from fear of losing its leadership in the region—whatever is left of it—in the face of Iran’s growing influence.

Those in the Middle East who disagree with the assessment that the reestablishment of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia will bring stability to the region keep fueling the crisis.

Did the desert kingdom receive the blessing of the religious establishment to repair relations with Iran? Nothing can proceed in Saudi Arabia or Iran, from a policy perspective, without the blessing of the hardline conservative religious establishment.

One has no clues as to how Prince Mohamed bin Salman intends to approach religious issues. Thus far, MBS has treated the religious establishment as allies against radicalism rather than as cultural adversaries. MBS argues that extreme religious conservatism in Saudi Arabia is a relatively recent phenomenon, born in reaction to the 1979 Iranian revolution.

Maybe, the royal family is worried more about its survival and domestic stability. Thus, shifting the conversation and diverting attention could be a good strategy. However, if the people of Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Khobar, and Qatif among others, were to unravel, combined with ongoing issues in the Shi’a eastern province, things could quickly take a different turn. In that case, Iran stands to benefit from a destabilized Saudi Arabia.

An unstable Saudi Arabia would pave the way for Iran not only to increase its influence in Iraq, Yemen, and Syria even further than it already has, but also to start working on other Gulf States, including Bahrain and Kuwait.

Origins of the rivalry 

 

In area, Saudi Arabia is bigger than Iran, but in population Iran is ahead of its rival by more than two and a half times. Gross domestic product per capita is US$24,847 and $14,403 for Saudi Arabia and Iran respectively, but in military expenditure, Saudi Arabia, with $80.8 billion, again far exceeds Iran, which spends only $25 billion annually. While 8% of Iran’s population is Sunni, Shiites make up 10% of Saudi Arabia’s total population of 32.28 million. Yet the two leading powers in the Middle East have been engaged in proxy wars for decades.

Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia and Iran, the predominant Shiite power, have a long-standing rivalry based as much in geostrategic interests as religious differences.

Facing off across the Gulf, the two energy-rich powers have for decades stood on opposing sides of conflicts in the Middle East.

Religious tensions have heightened since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq that brought the majority Shiites to power in Baghdad instead of Saddam’s Sunni-dominated regime.

The 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, which saw Iran support the demands of sizable Shiite minorities in Gulf monarchies, was another turning point, Arab states appeared vulnerable and Iran was then defined as the main threat to regional stability.

The Iranian revolution of 1979 and the advent of the Islamic Republic — with its fiercely anti-American slant — were perceived as a double threat to the conservative Sunni monarchies of the Arabian Peninsula, allied with the United States.

Saudi Arabia was a key financial backer of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein during his 1980-1988 war with Iran.

With Iraq weakened following the 1991 Gulf War, Saudi Arabia and Iran became “the two main regional powers.

In Syria, meanwhile, the Iran-backed government of President Bashar al-Assad has over the past year managed to reassert control over large parts of the country by defeating, among others, rebel groups backed by Riyadh. “The Saudi-Iranian rivalry has become the organizing principle for Mideast alliances, reminiscent of how the Cold War divided countries along USA and Soviet lines.

The election as US president a year ago of Donald Trump has also contributed to the rise in tensions. Trump’s open hostility towards Tehran has released anti-Iranian energies in the Arabian Peninsula” and emboldened Riyadh.

 

Recent escalation of tensions

Apparently, the enemies of Islam that have been at work to weaken and destabilize Muslim nations, forcing even Muslims to make Islam look like a terrorist religion, have succeeded in making Muslim nations fight and hate each other. The crudest example is tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, viewing each other enemies.

So much so, Saudi Arabia is reportedly taking the help of arch foe of Islam Israel to defeat Iran.

The latest round of tensions began when Riyadh and Tehran broke off diplomatic relations in January 2016, after Iranians stormed Saudi Arabia’s embassy and consulate in response to the execution of a prominent Shiite cleric. That followed the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers, which Riyadh feared was a step towards ending Iran’s international isolation.

The main cause of the current tensions is related to the proxy confrontation between Iran and Saudi Arabia, particularly the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Recent months have seen changes in these confrontations that appear to have brought the tensions to a head.

In Iraq and Syria, the increasingly successful campaign against ISIS has changed the situation on the ground. Offensives in both countries have forced the jihadists from nearly all the territory they seized in mid-2014.

As the threat from a common enemy “has imploded, tensions between these historic adversaries have escalated,” said Max Abrahms, professor of political science at Northeastern University in Boston.

Rhetoric between the two grew increasingly belligerent, including over Saudi Arabia’s Gulf neighbor Qatar. Riyadh and several of its Sunni allies broke off diplomatic relations with Qatar in June 2017, accusing Doha of support for extremism and links with Iran, claims that it denies.

In November, the animosity reached new heights. First, the Saudi-supported prime minister of Lebanon, Saad Hariri, in a broadcast from Riyadh announced his resignation, blaming Iran’s “grip” on his country via Shiite movement Hezbollah. Several hours later, Saudi Arabia said its air defenses near Riyadh intercepted and destroyed a missile fired from Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is battling Iran-backed Shiite rebels.

That set off a fierce war of words between Riyadh and Tehran, with Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accusing Iran of “direct military aggression.” Tehran denied any involvement in the missile attack, with President Hassan Rouhani warning that Iranian “might” would fend off any challenge.

As Iraq looks to a post-ISIS era, Riyadh has been taking steps to build stronger ties with the country’s Shiite-dominated government. A flurry of visits between the two countries this year saw talk of a warming of ties, including a trip by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to Riyadh in late October.

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More to follow>

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Russia votes to elect President Vladimir Putin for fourth term!

Russia votes to elect President Vladimir Putin for fourth term!

-Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

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Polls have opened in Russia’s presidential election, in which President Vladimir Putin is seeking to stay in power for a fourth term in office. It is already known fact that none can defeat the powerful Putin, Russia’s strong man as people adore him. As voting began in the Russian far-east at 20:00 GMT on Saturday, and opened in Moscow nine hours later.

A 100% turnout was reported in some areas of the Far East. Interfax news agency quoted an election official as saying every resident in six villages on the Kamchatka peninsula had cast their ballots. The same turnout was reported in four villages in the Chukotka region. In some regions, Russians were being encouraged to vote with the offer of free food and discounts in local shops, according to local reports. Exit polls are expected late on Sunday.  There are not even hints to show Putin might win the presidency with reduced margin.

President Putin is hoping for another six-year term and faces seven other candidates. Putin’s rivals include a millionaire communist, Pavel Grudinin, a former reality television host, Ksenia Sobchak and veteran nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky. The main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, has been prohibited from standing, because of a fraud conviction that he has condemned as politically motivated. Navalny has urged voters to boycott the election but there was no response from the people. .

Sunday’s vote is the first in Crimea since Russia seized the region from Ukraine. The election falls on the fourth anniversary of a treaty, signed by President Putin, formally declaring Crimea part of Russia following its annexation.

Russian move to retake Crimea was bitterly contested by Kiev and ratcheted up tensions between Russia and the West. As a result, Russians living in Ukraine were unable to take part in Sunday’s vote because access to Russian diplomatic missions was blocked by the Kiev government.

 

Putin supporters dominate the Russian parliament and state media. His big campaign theme is national unity and self-reliance, as Russia has frosty relations with its Western neighbours and remains under economic sanctions. So far his military gambles – annexing Crimea and intervening in Syria – appear to have paid off at home, despite hostility abroad.

Vladimir Putin

 

There is just one very important name in Russia that is Putin. The former secret service chief first became president in 2000. Now he is campaigning for a fourth term, and the nation’s children have only ever known a country led by the 65 year old.

Vladimir Putin, 65, has been Russia’s dominant leader since 1999 when he was handpicked by the then President Boris Yelstsin as acting President, and since then he served Russia either as president or prime minister. Putin said he would see as a success any result that gave him the right to perform the duties of president. His comments were carried on national TV as he voted in Moscow.

President Putin, a judo black belt, appears to symbolize two of the martial art’s key qualities – guile and aggression. His swift military interventions in both Ukraine, annexing Crimea in March 2014, and Syria, bombing anti-government rebels in a move that bolstered Syrian government forces, stunned many observers. In a TV debate he said “the communist idea united people” and “betrayal caused the Soviet Union’s collapse”. That nostalgia for Soviet-era power echoes President Vladimir Putin’s brand of patriotism.

In his first two terms as president, Putin was buoyed by healthy income from oil and gas – Russia’s main exports.

Living standards for most Russians improved. There was a new sense of stability and national pride. But the price, in the opinion of many, was the erosion of Russia’s fledgling democracy.

Putin reshaped Russian economy. Since the 2008 global financial crisis Putin has struggled with an anaemic economy, hit by recession and more recently a plunge in the price of oil. Russia lost many foreign investors and billions of dollars in capital flight. In the run-up to his re-election, Russia was gripped by the biggest anti-government protests since Soviet times. Protest leaders have been jailed or otherwise marginalized – including the most prominent opposition leader, Alexei Navalny. He made a name for himself by exposing rampant corruption, labeling Putin’s United Russia as “the party of crooks and thieves”.

Putin became more and more powerful; thanks to revolutionary reforms that were implemented in the administrative system. By appointing people close to him in central and provincial organizations, he established his authority. Actually, some Russian people appreciated his moves because priority for them was not democracy but economic welfare and stability which Putin promised them.

West sees Vladimir Putin as a Neo-communist. Putin has made no secret of his determination to reassert Russian power after years of perceived humiliation by the USA and its NATO allies. Putin has honored the Soviet war dead twice recently – in St Petersburg and Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad) – 75 years after the USSR turned the tide against Nazi Germany. The simple message is: we can be a great power again, commanding global respect.

US prosecutors accuse a longstanding Putin ally – oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin – of orchestrating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election to favour Donald Trump. The alleged meddling – mainly on social media – prompted the US to impose more sanctions on officials close to Putin.

Since March 2014 the EU and USA have expanded sanctions on key Russian officials and firms over Russia’s military role in Ukraine. The sanctions blocked Western travel and financial services for many of Putin’s aides.

Though he talks about containing corruption, rather  fighting a war  against corruption,  Putin has not seriously approached the issue as he, like other  capitalist nations, he seeks to generate as many billionaires are possible and he has only acted well only in  select cases he has arrested those who are opposed to his politics of “authoritarianism”.  He has allowed the rich business class to thrive the cost of others and even government. The powerful Russian oligarchs are well known for squirreling away nation’s fortunes in safe foreign banks, but that behavior is not popular among poor, rank-and-file communists.

The collapse of the Soviet Union is seen by Puitn as one of the greatest Russian disasters. After the October Revolution destroyed the Russian Empire, the conduit for this miracle was Joseph Stalin, who created a new, glorious Red Empire. That mythology glosses over Stalin’s gross human rights abuses.

Putin as the savior and unity between the Soviet and pre-revolutionary traditions – were prominent in another documentary on state TV, and in even more mystical terms. Long presented as the bare-chested, macho leader who defends Russia against the West, President Vladimir Putin now has a rather more mystical image in state media.

Putin argues that communism and Christianity are essentially the same idea, and compares the mausoleum of Bolshevik revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin to the Christian tradition of church relics. The message, constantly repeated, is the contrast between the monastery’s former dilapidated and vandalized state and its current splendor – a revival likened to that of Russia from the perceived chaos and national humiliation of the 1990s.

West

 

Putin grew up in a tough, communal housing block in Leningrad – now St Petersburg – and got into fights with local boys who were often bigger and stronger. That drove him to take up judo.  According to the Kremlin website, Putin wanted to work in Soviet intelligence “even before he finished school”. “Fifty years ago the Leningrad street taught me a rule: if a fight is inevitable you have to throw the first punch,” Putin said in October 2015. It was better to fight “terrorists” in Syria, he explained, than to wait for them to strike in Russia.

Russians admire the assertive nature of Putin presidency. Suggestions are made to see Putin a “red capitalist” like some other Russian Communist politicians. His swift military interventions in both Ukraine, annexing Crimea in March 2014, and Syria, bombing anti-government rebels in a move that bolstered Syrian government forces, stunned many observers.

Since March 2014 the EU and USA have expanded sanctions on key Russian officials and firms over Russia’s military role in Ukraine. The sanctions blocked Western travel and financial services for many of Putin’s aides. Putin fumes over what he calls the “coup” which forced Ukraine’s then-President Viktor Yanukovych to flee to Russia in February 2014.

The US-Russia frost is called a new Cold War by some; the mutual distrust runs deep though President Trump has expressed admiration for President Putin and said he wants to improve ties with Russia.

And Russia is no longer a “strategic partner” of either the USA or the EU. The West accuses Putin of helping the pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine with heavy weapons and troops. He admits only that Russian “volunteers” have gone there to help the rebels.

Putin has made no secret of his determination to reassert Russian power after years of perceived humiliation by the USA and its NATO allies.

The situation had gone too far to suggest that Putin interfered with US presidency poll to elect Trump. US prosecutors accuse a longstanding Putin ally – oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin – of orchestrating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election to favour Donald Trump. The alleged meddling – mainly on social media – prompted the US to impose more sanctions on officials close to Putin.

Before that crisis he called the collapse of the Soviet Union “the biggest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th Century”. He bitterly resents NATO’s expansion up to Russia’s borders.

 

A recurring theme is that Putin has led Russia back to faith since the Soviet era’s militant atheism, while also healing the rift between those who pine for the USSR’s great-power status and those who hark back to Russia’s pre-revolutionary imperial and Orthodox traditions. The president’s first-ever visit to the archipelago is described almost like a mythical event. “This is where a boat docked, from which Vladimir Putin emerged,” says the voice-over to rousing music.   “Valaam died when the Great Russian state was destroyed,” the presenter says. Its recovery from the ruin inflicted after World War Two is meant to be a metaphor for the country’s own journey under Putin. “It was restored, and our state again rose up from its knees,” he adds, over video of Putin visiting the monastery.  Putin later that day promised to help restore a ruined hermitage-monastery he spotted in the woods.

Russia started to compete and co-operate to some extent with both big actors, USA and China, on the world stage and also regional powers that had historical, religious and cultural ties, like Turkey and Iran. The reforms consisted of legislative amendments that were oriented for consolidating central authority. They made Moscow powerful in both centre-near abroad (CIS States) and Federal Administration relations. Moscow Administration got rid of opposition groups to a great extent. Thus strong Central Administration was established and Putin gained his absolute authority in the country.

Russians are not very particular about democracy but they want an economically strong nation even if that means no power to the people, and a strong presidency. Economic growth of Russia, devaluation after 1998 and increasing oil prices played key role to carry out Putin’s dreams. He emphasized that Russia has an important role in the international politics as it is a significant power in Eurasian geography in terms of carrying out regional and global responsibilities.

It was under these circumstances that Russia became a member of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation as it wanted to play a more active role in the area. Defence Minister of Russia in April 2005 underlined that SCO is not a military bloc and does not target other countries. Before SCO, Russia tried to protect its influence on Commonwealth of Independent States, through Collective Security Treaty Organization and Eurasian Economic Organization in the region.

There are different perceptions about future of SCO in Russia and China, whereas Russia wants SCO to remain as a mechanism providing regional security cooperation, China demands a multi-dimensional SCO in terms of wider military, political and economic issues. In this respect, despite Chinese demands that aim to transform SCO into regional security organization like NATO, Russia defends that Collective Security Treaty Organization is enough for the regional security. Russia is not happy over Chinese influence and inroads in the region as it is sceptical of Chinese interest in energy resources in the region.

Putin’s bellicose language reached a crescendo before the election in a state-of-the-nation speech when he unveiled new nuclear weapons, saying they could hit almost any point in the world and evade a US-built missile shield. At odds with the West over Syria, Ukraine, allegations of Russian election meddling and cyber attacks, and the poisoning in Britain of a former Russian spy and his daughter, relations between Moscow and the West are at a post Cold War low.

Allies laud the former KGB agent as a father-of-the-nation figure who has restored national pride and expanded Moscow’s global clout with interventions in Syria and Ukraine.

 

Western sanctions on Russia imposed over Crimea and Moscow’s backing of a pro-Russian separatist uprising in eastern Ukraine remain in place and have damaged the Russian economy, which only rebounded last year after a prolonged downturn.

Britain and Russia are also locked in a diplomatic dispute over the spy poisoning incident, and Washington is eyeing new sanctions on Moscow over allegations it interfered in the 2016 US presidential election, something Russia flatly denies.Officials and analysts say there is little agreement among Putin’s top policymakers on an economic strategy for his new term.

 

Billionaires of new Russia

 

New Russia under President Yeltsin sought to generate a new class of billionaires who would match the international standards. Putin continues that policy very faithfully, and has controlled oligarchs who were influential in the country and did not hesitate to clash with the government on nationalization policies.

Putn brought every aspect of governance and control mechanism under his control. By waging war against media, he suppressed the opposition.

Putin is a proud former officer of the Soviet secret police, the KGB, with an entourage largely drawn from old Soviet security elite. They are a fabulously wealthy elite and Putin himself is believed to have a huge fortune.

Putin keeps his family and financial affairs well shielded from publicity. The Panama Papers leaks in 2016 exposed a murky network of offshore companies owned by a longstanding friend of Putin – concert cellist Sergei Roldugin; Putin and his wife of Lyudmila got divorced in 2013 after nearly 30 years of marriage. She described him as a workaholic.

Yeltsin favourites such as Boris Berezovsky and Vladimir Gusinsky – businessmen who grew rich in the chaos of the first privatizations – ended up as fugitives living in exile abroad. International concern about human rights in Russia grew with the jailing of oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once one of the world’s richest billionaires, and of anti-Putin activists from the punk group Pussy Riot.   Putin’s relations with the UK soured over the 2006 radioactive poisoning of anti-Putin campaigner Alexander Litvinenko in London. Agents of the Russian state were accused of murdering him. It was seen as yet more proof of Russia’s new assertiveness on the world stage.

 

High approval ratings
President Putin’s third term has been marked by conservative Russian nationalism. It has strong echoes of tsarist absolutism, encouraged by the Orthodox Church. The Church supported a ban on groups spreading gay “propaganda” among teenagers.

Despite his long rule, President Putin’s approval ratings are still high, Russian media report – the kind of popularity that most Western leaders can only dream of.  Putin’s brand of patriotism dominates Russia’s media, skewing coverage in his favour, so those ratings do not give the whole picture. But dissenters do struggle to be heard. He was re-elected president in 2012 for a third, six-year term in the Kremlin. Even in the previous four years, as prime minister under President Dmitry Medvedev, he was clearly holding the levers of power.

Putin continued his stride to regain superpower glory for Russia and by his intelligent and pragmatic policies, has been successful to regain that position.  Putin’s success is largely due to his personal abilities. Russia started to witness results of energy policies, followed since middle of the 1990s. With Putin, Russian Foreign Policy turned out to be more reasonable and utilitarian as compared to the past.

Soon after becoming president  Putin set about marginalizing liberals, often replacing them with more hardline allies or neutrals seen as little more than yes-men. Its core argument was that the state is the sacred centre of Russian life, the subject of periodic catastrophes throughout history, before each time being rescued and revived in new glory by divine intervention.

Though strong domestically, President Putin faces serious challenges indoors and abroad. Domestic policy issues like problem of North Caucasia and Chechens, Oligarchs manipulating economy, media with a great pressure on government and issues in foreign policy like USA and Europe policies on Central Asia for their benefits were a big challenge for Russia.

According to Putin doctrine domestic problems should be solved as his priority. . After the 9/11 hoax, USA skillfully used and prioritized ‘terrorism’ in the international arena. Putin used this policy pragmatically. Russia pushed the button to solve Chechen problem denying any right to cede form Russian federation.

Russia as an important oil producer does not need Central Asian energy resources. Russian aim is totally strategic. It wants to sustain its supervision on Central Asia while carrying Kazakhstan oil and Turkmenistan natural gas to international markets on available pipelines.

With the election of Putin as President, Russian Federation started to give more importance to geography of Commonwealth of Independent States including Central Asia named as “near abroad”. Central Asia policy of Russia provided close relations for Central Asian countries and Russia. Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan give priority to relations with Russia in terms of military, politics and economy. Even Nazarbayev, who established close relation with the West, declared that Kazakhstan gives priority to Russia, China and USA respectively. It is possible to say that even Turkmenistan follows neutrality policy, is closer to Russia than other states.
In the coming years, the struggle between Russia, China and USA for influence in Central Asia is likely to intensify. Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have already allowed US military bases on their soil and Russia is not comfortable with it. Who becomes more dominant in the region depends on policies of Russia, China and USA and people in power in the Central Asian countries.

There are many different scenarios about USA policies under erratic Trump. . For example, if USA supports colorful revolutions in the region, makes it unstable by inciting dissident elements and advocates UN and NATO troops to enter the region by showing “instabilities” as pretext and thus eventually control the region or engineer another Sept-11 to invade the remaining Muslim nations in West Asia and elsewhere.

Nevertheless, there is a reality that Russia is one step ahead in the region and has historical and cultural ties with Central Asian countries. This shows that Russia is going to be an influential actor or maybe the most important factored diplomacy in the region would continue to be main rival to USA.

Here the role of Putin in very important. .

 

Meanwhile the results of the known presidency poll would be announced soon. Credited with an approval rating around 80 percent, his victory was never in doubt.

Observation

Russian President Vladimir Putin won a landslide re-election victory on Sunday, extending his rule over the world’s largest country for another six years at a time when his ties with the West are on a hostile trajectory.  Putin, who has already dominated the political landscape for the last 18 years, had won 73.9 percent of the vote.

Putin’s thumping victory will extend his total time in office to nearly a quarter of a century, until 2024, by which time he will be 71. Only Soviet dictator Josef Stalin ruled for longer. Putin has promised to use his new term to beef up Russia’s defences against the West and to raise living standards.

Putin loyalists said the result was a vindication of his tough stance towards the West. The longer-term question is whether Putin will soften his anti-Western rhetoric now the election is won.

How long Putin wants to stay in power is uncertain. The constitution limits the president to two successive terms, obliging him to step down at the end of his new mandate — as he did in 2008 after serving two four-year terms. The presidential term was extended from four to six years, starting in 2012.

Although Putin has six years to consider a possible successor, uncertainty about his long-term future is a potential source of instability in fractious ruling elite that only he can keep in check.

Kremlin insiders say Putin has selected no heir apparent, and that any names being circulated are the product of speculation, not knowledge of Putin’s thinking.

 

Regional racism: Sri Lanka and Myanmar pursue anti-Muslim policy


Regional racism: Sri Lanka and Myanmar pursue anti-Muslim policy

– Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

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Sri Lanka, like Myanmar is now a criminal state targeting minority community by misusing the majority Singhalese criminal elements.

Though it condemns the planned attacks on Muslims and their properties, shops, restaurants, it is the state secret racist policy of Sri Lanka that emboldens the extremist criminal sections of majority Bushiest-Singhalese populations to keep harming the genuine interests of Muslims. The state terror operations in Myanmar also encourages Lankan regime to keep a blind eye on the crimes against Muslims. .

The funny attitude of leaders of Islamic world makes the things worse for Muslims in Myanmar and Sri Lanka, India etc.

Reports say the Sri Lankan PM R. Wickremesinghe has directed the police to take action against those involved in the recent spate of attacks against the Muslim community in the Buddhist-majority country, he knows that the extremist Singhalese are totally racist-fascist  with media and government agencies fueling  the anti-Muslim mindset to a very dangerous level. That is the deliberate double speaks of Lankan regime is responsible the state of affairs there.

Muslims, who account for around 9% of Sri Lanka’s population of 21 million, have blamed the attacks on the Body Bala Sena, or Forces of Buddhist power, an organisation that says the spread of Islam threatens Buddhism as the dominant religion. The minority Muslim community has been complaining of increasing attacks against them. Since mid-April over 30 such incidents had been recorded.

State criminal intolerance

Courts, judiciary, police, media lords and even government officals “share” the logic of Singhalese fanatics to hate Muslims and Tamils. That makes a state policy against humanity.

Yes, it is not only Muslims and Tamils who are the target of Criminalized Buddhist Singhalese but all others are being targeted in Sri Lanka. But Tamils and Muslims are worst affected in the ethnic cleansing of Lanka.

The crime situation in Sri Lanka would never have escalated to such a point without the direct support of the government, which is principally inclined towards the Sinhalese as they are a crucial vote-bank. It is also rumoured that the president’s brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa actively supports the BBS.

The police last week reportedly made three arrests after charges that they had turned a blind eye to the incidents purportedly carried out by the BBS. The BBS leader Galagodaatte Gnanasara remains at large despite a police hunt for his arrest over his responsibility to attacks against the Muslims. Recently, he had filed a petition in the Supreme Court to prevent his arrest. Gnanasara is facing contempt of court charges. His failure to attend court is currently being probed as he had cited medical reasons and death threats against him for his failure to attend court.

Last year there were numerous reported attacks by radical Buddhist groups on Christian places of worship, mosques, and even on Buddhists who spoke out against growing religious intolerance in the country. Organized mobs led by radical Buddhist monks also attacked the Assemblies of God Church and Calvary Free Church during Sunday worship services on January 12 in the coastal town of Hikkaduwa. A mob of over 200 men and women including 20 Buddhist monks entered the church while we were worshipping in the morning and damaged the building and destroyed equipment.

Bibles and hymn books were burnt. The group threw stones at the church and damaged the building. Police were unable to control the mob and asked us to leave the church immediately,” he said, adding that damages had amounted to about US$6,400.

The attackers stormed in close to midnight, tearing through town with gasoline bombs and clubs before carting away piles of cash and jewelry they stole from Muslim families in this tiny corner of Sri Lanka. The onslaught incited by the Bodu Bala Sena, or Buddhist Power Force, a hard-line group that has gained thousands of followers in recent years, killed at least two Muslims and injured dozens more last month in the worst religious violence Sri Lanka has seen in decades.

Recently, Christians rallied in Colombo to protest against recent attacks on churches and mosques, and called on the Sri Lankan government to guarantee religious freedom for all minority religious communities in the country. “We plead for the freedoms enshrined in the constitution. The freedom of thought, conscience, religion and association should be available to all religious communities,” said Anglican Bishop Dhiloraj R. Canagasabey of the Church of Ceylon, who addressed a gathering of more than 2,000 at the Cathedral of Christ the Living Savior in the capital. “We expect the rule of law to be upheld and worry about hate speech and hate mongering against non-majority faith communities,” he said. “Christian communities face hardships in educating children in accordance with the tenants of their faith. Many children are compelled to study the majority Buddhist religion, a clear violation of our religious rights.”

Christians make up 6.1 percent of Sri Lanka’s population, while Muslims make up 9.7 percent, Hindus 12.6 percent and Buddhists 70.2 percent.

 

Muslims the prime target of Buddhist fanaticism

Sri Lanka perhaps is still deeply scarred by the 1983-2009 civil war between the Buddhist Sinhalese majority and ethnic Tamils, who are largely Hindus. But during the war, Buddhist-Muslim violence was relatively rare.  The Singhalese monks leading Bodu Bala Sena have amassed a significant following in recent years, drawing thousands of followers. At raucous rallies, radical monks encourage violence against minorities and implore Sri Lankans to preserve the purity of the Buddhist majority.

Like politics, religion has also been criminalized by Singhalese religious politicians seeking wealth and power.

Muslims are their particular target for self advancement. In order to target Muslims for attacks, the members of the Bodu Bala Sena claim Muslims are out to recruit children and marry Buddhist women. They, like the RSS-BJP criminal duo does in India, even say Muslims are trying to take over the country by increasing their birthrate and secretly sterilizing Buddhists.  Even as the country has seen rising instances of hate speech against Muslims and attacks on Muslim-owned businesses, there have been few attacks on people as well.

Rajapaksa’s government turned a blind eye to the violence as a way to shore up its core constituency — the Sinhalese Buddhist population — which makes up about 75 percent of Sri Lanka’s 20 million people. But the Sirisena government could have easily put down the majority Singhalese community’s criminal networks that harm the nation by organized crimes. At the root of the failure of the government to check the violence is electoral politics. But unwillingness on the part of the regime to safeguard Muslims has made the life of Muslims terrible.

Foreign embassies and the U.N. also demanded action. The United States canceled a five-year, multiple-entry visa held by the BBS’s general secretary, according to the group’s chief executive, Dilanta Vithanage. But he is a “big hero” in Sri Lanka. All attacks by the BBS have gone unpunished and hard-line monks, for the most part, have acted without fear of any legal repercussions.

The Sirisena government is under fire, accused of failing to protect Sri Lanka’s tiny Muslim minority and allowing radical Buddhists spewing illegal hate speech to operate with impunity for years.

The government let the Singhalese extremists grow into a monstrous fashion to shamelessly attack other communities exposing themselves as being anti-God and anti-Buddhists.

True believers in any religion won’t behave like wild beasts. Without peacefully persuasive strength and with criminal aggressiveness a religion becomes mere nonsense.

 

Why the Lankan regime is so blind?

A government is duty bound to protect and help advance the genuine interests of every citizen without any animosity being shown against any sections of the society, particularly the minorities. However, most regimes misbehave with minority communities. Most governments pretend to be blind as minority people are being targeted by the majority community’s extremist gangs. .

Like India, Sri Lanka also sought to be a big power after getting freedom from UK and they target the minority communities as a matter of revenge for the British era oppressive colonist policies against them.

Apparently, Myanmar, Lanka and India shamelessly have joint agenda against minority populations, particularly against Muslims. Time and again RSS gangs unleash violence on Indian Muslims especially in the north. They desecrate mosques, burn Holy Quran, residential, commercial and industrial units and turn Muslims into penniless. This has been common occurrences and were incidents when Muslim women were stripped naked, paraded in streets and video filmed. Culprits were rarely brought to book even under congress governments.  This has been happening to Sri Lankan Muslims ever since violent attacks were unleashed under the defeated President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The continued violence has raised fears that Sri Lanka could soon see echoes of Myanmar, where Buddhist monks helped incite violence in 2012 and 2013 in which Buddhist mobs slaughtered Rohingya Muslims. Still, many Sri Lankans and human rights workers are alarmed, saying the monks are creating communal divisions and giving Buddhism a bad name.

It is common knowledge that Galagoda Atte Gnanasara Thero, General Secretary of Bodu Bala Sena, a violent anti-Muslim outfit, flourished under Rajapaksa government. He is a man of violence and openly displays his hatred towards Muslims .There are numerous police cases against him. Yet he was seen meeting President Sirisena who promised the nation to bring such people to books.  This was an insult to justice and Muslims.

The Singhalese hate politics and anti-Muslim attitude continued as the physical attacks on Muslims in Gintota, Ampara and areas in and around Digana, Teledeniya, Pallekelle, Akurana, Ambatenne and other places causing billions of rupees worth of destruction depriving  livelihood of thousands of families who were forced to live in fear and misery.

Should a regime shield the criminal gangs belonging to the majority community?

Sri Lanka, like India and Myanmar, views Muslims as it enemy and not as a part of the new independent nation.

 

Poisonous nexus of regional and global networks

Nationalist Buddhist monks in Myanmar and Sri Lanka are playing a key role in instigating hatred and provoking violence towards the Muslim minorities in both countries, claiming that such action is necessary in order to protect Buddhist race and culture

More than 655,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh. Medecins Sans Frontieres estimates that at least 6,700 Rohingya died violent deaths, most from gunshots. The racist Burmese government has shown no interest in reckoning with these atrocities.  Lankan government shows it is working.

The Hindutva communal government in India, RSS – front BJP, whose PM Narendra Modi was the architect of the genocide of Gujarat Muslims in February 2002 which killed more than 2000 besides burning their properties. Even before this government came to power the Indian RSS established close ties with racist elements here. Thus one cannot rule out their role in the racist attacks on Muslims.

Tensions between Buddhists and Muslims in Myanmar have been high since violence broke out in the state of Rakhine in June 2012, displacing over 1.3 million people. At the time, Human Rights Watch documented the role of the clergy that led mobs of attackers. Deadly riots broke out between Buddhists and Muslims in southern Sri Lanka, killing and injuring the minority Muslims. Bodu Bala Sena (BBS, the Buddhist Strength Force), a nationalist Buddhist group with a notorious reputation, is being blamed for the incident. Galagodaatte Gnanasara Thera, the group’s leader, gave a speech around the time of the riots in which he claimed that the Sinhalese Buddhist population was under serious threat from the Muslims. This instigated further violence by large mobs, which attacked mosques and burned down shops and houses in Muslim neighborhoods.

When Rajapaksa government established close ties with Israel many predicted that it is matter of time before Israel uses racist to unleash violence against the island’s Muslims and destabilize the country. Today it appears that these fears have come true.

President Sirisena and PM Wickremesinghe have opened the country to USA, Israel and India. The connecting bond among these three countries is their common hatred towards Islam and Muslims. Israel’s global agenda has been to destroy Islam and slaughter Muslims as they had done, and still doing, in the Middle East

Sri Lanka has become a nation of corruption, crime and intolerance against humanity. Now the question is whether the Maithri-Ranil government has brought to the island the US-UK-Israel and Indian global anti-Muslim campaign.

As time went on the number of attacks on Muslim continue to increase while the government continued to turned blind eye. Muslims took up the matter with President Sirisena, PM Wickremesinghe and even the top policy authorities. Sirisena argues that it is Mahinda Rajapaksa’s conspiracy to topple the government and he never uttered a word about enforcing law and order and punishes the majority culprits.

President Sirisena’s government, true to its anti-Muslim ideology, has refused to condemn the recent genocide of Rohingya Muslims. Meanwhile there began sporadic attacks on Muslims and the perpetrators were not brought to justice.

Further, the Muslim hopes were dashed as Maithri-Ranil government dismissed their interests and sentiments from the very inception. Their reconciliation rhetoric was a mere stunt to protect and promote criminal Singhalese. The anti-Muslim policy of Sri Lanka endeared itself to western powers too. Sirisena visited Holocaust Museum during his visit to Germany dismissing the sentiments of Muslims. This was followed by the official invitation to British war criminal Tony Blair who, together with US war criminal George Bush, invaded Iraq and destroyed that country besides killing five percent of the Iraqi population.

This is the question arises in view of the refusal of President Maithripala Sirisena and PM Ranil Wickremesinghe to take timely  precautionary measures  to protect  Muslims from the senseless attacks and the damage to the country  by racist elements.  The government has failed to ensure the security of Muslims and property in Digana and elsewhere even after it was evident that a communal riot was in the making.

Joint criminal exercises

Muslim communities make up about 10 per cent of the total population in Myanmar and Sri Lanka, both of which have a Buddhist majority. The communal clashes in Myanmar have been attributed to the 969 movement, an Islamophobic movement led by Monk Wirathu. Touted as the “Burmese Bin Laden”, his hate-filled sermons have called for a boycott of Muslim businesses and have petitioned the government to introduce stricter inter-marriage laws.

These well-planned and executed carnages on the Muslims have all the hallmarks of Rastriya Seva Sangh (RSS) attacks in India since partition in 1947.

Many corporatist foreign governments still refuse to criticize racist crimes in Myanmar and Srilanka. The Australian government has resisted calls to punish the Lankan regime and sanction Burma’s military for its ethnic cleansing campaign against Rohingya Muslims.

Many governments have condemned Burma for these atrocities at the United Nations Human Rights Council and General Assembly but have not condemned the Lankan government. .

Human Rights Watch interviewed Rohingya from the village who described in chilling detail how families sprinted to the beach as soldiers swarmed in, firing their weapons.  Soldiers rounded up the men, shot and stabbed them to death, and burned the bodies in a massive bonfire on the beach. Soldiers then turned to the women and girls and beat, raped, slashed, burned and killed them.

One should not forget that Sri Lanka today is an active playground for super power politics in view of its strategic location and the ongoing super rivalry in the Indian Ocean. They are all busy manipulating   to implement their agendas here often at the expense of the country.

The damage has already been done to Muslims and the island country as a whole. Anti-Muslim violence in Sri Lanka is on the rise and the government must take action before events spiral out of control.  The state failure to hold to take action against these groups has only emboldened the Singhalese criminals further and plunged minorities in a deeper state of fear. This is not the first time such horrors have been visited upon the country’s Muslim minority. This is not a dispute between Sinhalese and Muslims or Buddhism and Islam. This is sheer bankrupt racist politics.

 

End majority fanaticism and crimes

Experts reveal that the network of extremist Buddhists is growing across Asia as they collaborate in countries like Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Encouraged by the anti-Islam war by USA and NATO, the extremist Buddhists in these countries see Islam as a global force that is backed by powerful countries and money and lot of powerful institutions and covert terrorist organisations.

Former Sri Lankan Ambassador to the UN Dayan Jayatilake insists that the government is not taking concrete measures to curb the activities of extremist Sinhalese Buddhists in the country. Any one of the minor episodes of violence could spiral out of control and that the country could have another cycle of violence.

Analysts are certain that profound damage has been done to relationships in the island nation and that tension will remain for a long time. A high powered task force on religious extremism and violence could help improve the situation only if that is allowed to act, while foreign governments, the UN and other influential international players should be making it very clear to the government of Sri Lanka that the situation cannot continue indefinitely

Still proper condemnation is not forthcoming, but condemnations alone are not enough to end crimes against Muslims. .

Has the collapsing Maithri-Ranil government joined the anti-Muslim United States, Israeli and Indian war mongers axis to implement their evil designs on innocent Muslims in the island?

Sick of this carnage more than 95 percent of Muslims voted for President Maithripala Sirisena who pledged to bring to book all criminals and those who caused communal disharmony. But Sirisena remains a mere Singhalese ruler who takes decision in consultation with former ruler Rajapaksha.

That is the tragedy of minorities of Sri Lanka as well as the nation.

Islam is the genuine religion that beings man closer to God not against any other religions and as such false fear of Islam and Islamophobia stunts only further vitiate the atmosphere to the benefits of anti-religious and essentially atheist criminal gangs and they must end for promoting peace.

Muslims are equal citizens of Myanmar, India and Sri Lanka and have all rights to protection of their property and lives and equal treatment under the law. The governments of these countries need to make that possible.

In the face of the recurring atrocities and denials, unequivocal action from concerned countries is needed. That means targeted sanctions against those responsible, including senior military commanders in charge of the ethnic cleansing campaign, to prevent them from traveling to capitalist countries like USA and Australia, and freezing any assets that they may have here.

Continued silence by UN veto members particularly Russia and China on the genocides of Muslims in these countries would make their self prestige high in any manner.

Unused diplomacy to stop crimes against humanity is as bad as motionless dead nations.

The UN and global governments need to send a strong message to racist and anti- Muslim countries like Myanmar Sri Lanka and India that its response to ethnic cleansing cannot be “business” as usual.

The international community should be saying to the governments of India, Burma and Sri Lanka that they should be trying to shut down the Hindutva and Buddhist terror links across the regional nations.

 

 

China: Xi Jinping scraps presidential term limits, becomes permanent president


China: Xi 
Jinping scraps presidential term limits, becomes permanent president

-Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

———

 

 

This essay gives an idea about China’s policies, its future plans and ideas; it also tries to compare the failed Soviet experiments with Chinese model of development.

 

It is not strange that every ruler is eager to rule forever even without any serious reforms being effected into the system to serve the people much better, but the constitutional restrictions deny them to be the permanent rulers. Dynastic rule in a way perform the permanent ruling character. Even in democracies sons and daughters are being pampered to take over from patents to the nation as their prerogative.

 

In a rather strange manner by which rulers of entire world would feel zealous, Xi Jinping has made himself legally the permanent president of China. For instance, the US president Trump and Israeli PM Netanyahu- both face wrath of people of their respective country for their arrogance and corruption, for the waste of money on terror wars and losing lives of soldiers, very much would like to rule their countries permanently without the need to face the voters in future.

 

Yes, not just Trump and Netanyahu but most of the rulers want to be permanent ones. Arab rulers, Indian PM Modi are not alone in dreaming to be the permanent rulers. While Arab rulers also can easily pass a law to that effect, PM Modi has to wait until the upper house of Parliament is full of his party members to make “reforms” in the constitution to make India one party ruled nation and himself the permanent ruler. Interestingly, India’s former PM Dr Manmohan Singh who promoted rampant corruption in India   by allowing every minister and official to loot the resources at will is also dreaming of becoming the permanent PM of India if his boss Ms. Sonia Gandhi manages to get a non-BJP coalition and win the elections next year.

 

  1. China elects its first ever permanent president

 

Recently, on March 11 the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) in a two-week summit in Beijing made the President Xi the permanent president to make the nation stronger. The move allows the 64-year-old Xi to remain in power for as long as he wishes, ruling as a virtual emperor, and is the latest feather in the cap of a Communist “princeling” who is re-making China in his own image. The almost 3,000 delegates to the country’s legislature passed the measure as part of a package of changes to the country’s constitution, with 2,958 voting for, two against and three abstaining.

 

China’s parliament voted to abolish presidential term limits, clearing the path for President Xi Jinping to rule for life. The National People’s Congress agreed to strike a 36-year-old constitutional provision barring the president from serving more than two consecutive terms and to enact sweeping legislative changes that would allow Xi to rule indefinitely and give him greater control over the levers of money and power. The amendment removes the only barrier keeping Xi, 64, from staying on after his expected second term ends in 2023.

 

Some analysts have speculated that President Xi Jinping will seek to stay on beyond 2023, when his second term is due to end, breaking a tradition followed by his two predecessors and emulating Russian President Vladimir Putin who would resume his third term shortly at the Kremlin. Russians want a strong President like Putin to be their leader permanently.

 

 

The congress accorded him a sort of ideological dominance by referring to his writings about communism by name in the party’s constitution—something denied to his two predecessors. Doing this would make Xi China’s ideological arbiter. His predecessors, Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin, were appointed mainly to continue Deng’s economic reforms.

 

The CPC decision includes repealing presidential term limits, creating a powerful new agency to police officials and possibly approving the biggest regulatory overhaul of the $43 trillion finance-and-insurance sector in 15 years. As Xi presided over the closing session in the Great Hall of the People, more than 2,200 delegates raised their hands in unison to approve the party charter amendments, with staffers announcing “meiyou” (“none”) to indicate the lack of dissenting or abstaining votes.

 

The term-limits repeal is part of a package of amendments to China’s constitution. They include inserting Xi’s name alongside Mao’s and Deng’s, and enshrining in law his principles for a more assertive foreign policy. Neither of Xi’s other two main titles — party leader and commander-in-chief of the military — come with term limits. The changes also allow for the creation of a powerful new law enforcement and ethics commission to police public servants, making permanent an anti-graft campaign that has punished more than 1.5 million officials.

 

The amendment generates a level of uncertainty. The term limit — while only applying to the lesser role of the state presidency — has also come to shape expectations for the timing of transitions in the leadership of the party and military.” Deng Xiaoping Theory was added to the constitution six months after his death in February 1997. China’s previous two presidents, Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin, haven’t had their names enshrined in the constitution in this way.

 

Xi Jinping has joined the pantheon of Chinese leadership two decades after bursting onto the scene as a graft-fighting governor who went on to earn comparisons with Mao Zedong in his quest for unrestricted power.

 

The NPC would definitely endorse appointment of Xi to a second term.

 

 Xi declared that China should “take center stage in the world,” and that its brand of socialism offers “a new choice for other countries.” He added that, “no one should expect China to swallow anything that undermines its interests.” Xi’s “new era” philosophy sought to establish China as a superpower that “plays a rule-setting role in global affairs.”

 

At the end of a pivotal twice-a-decade meeting, party delegates voted unanimously to make “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” a guiding principle for the party.

 

  1. Importance of President Xi

 

 

 

 

Xi has a dream: the dream of a rejuvenated China, again dominating “everything under heaven”, might be popular. And if Xi can make the country respected abroad, that might translate into respect for the party at home. Hence his second concern—China in the world—reinforces his first.

 

Trump’s America-first nationalism has given  Xi a chance to claim global leadership. In January 2017 he told the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos that China should “guide economic globalization”. A month later he added that it should “guide international society towards a more just and rational new world order.”

Vast sums back up the slogans.  Xi’s “Belt and Road Initiative”, his most ambitious foreign policy, involves spending hundreds of billions of dollars on infrastructure in 60-odd countries in Asia and Europe. If it works, it could make Eurasian trade, centered on China, a rival to transatlantic trade, focused on America.

Xi has been more assertive in pressing China’s claims in the South China Sea. Last year, a UN tribunal rejected those claims. China promptly persuaded the Philippines, which had brought the case, to disavow its legal victory in return for lavish investment. Xi’s reform of the PLA has made the armed forces more outward-looking. They used to be organised mainly for defence and control of the domestic population. Xi has built up the navy, created new “theatre commands” to project force abroad and has opened China’s first overseas military base in Djibouti.

And he has greatly expanded China’s influence-buying activities abroad. China has long supported instruments of soft power such as the Confucius Institutes, which teach foreigners about the Chinese language and culture. Now, the party is also putting money into media operations in the West and trying to use overseas Chinese people as agents of state policy. In short, Xi has disavowed Deng’s advice that, in foreign affairs, China should “keep a low profile and never claim leadership.”

It is impossible to say whether he has sprinkled the stardust of legitimacy upon his party, as he wants. An opinion poll in 2016 by the Pew Research Centre in America found that only 60% of Chinese thought their involvement in the global economy a good thing. On the other hand, this year’s cinematic smash hit is a “patriotic” film called “Wolf Warriors 2”, showing a Chinese soldier killing bad guys round the world. So perhaps bossing foreigners around might prove popular.

At any rate, if Xi’s efforts have had mixed results, that is not because they have failed. As with his party reforms, he can congratulate himself on a job well started. China’s vast bureaucracy has lumbered into action behind the belt and road project. China is buttressing its claims in the South China Sea with new facts on the ground or, rather, in the ocean, in the form of military construction on artificial islands. The country is now widely regarded as a leader in global climate talks.

Xi, in short, can look back with some satisfaction on the twin goals he set himself. But there remains a more profound question, whether they are the right aims for his country. During the next decade, a number of slow-burning problems will start to blaze. Water shortages, historically one of China’s most severe challenges, will become acute. More poisoned air will be pumped out and more poisoned soil uncovered. The first generation born under the one-child policy is reaching marriageable age, bringing with it the excess of boys over girls that was exacerbated by population control. The vast debts built up by China’s local governments and state-owned enterprises will also have to be handled.

What these disparate matters have in common is that many of the best solutions come from outside the party. Environmental groups could put public pressure on polluters. A freer press could shine a light on all sorts of abuses, from corruption to fraud. More competition among firms, as well as harder budget constraints, would reduce the excess debt of state-owned enterprises and local governments.

Perhaps the only serious setback to Xi’s claim to leadership has come in North-East Asia. His unwillingness to rein in Kim Jong Un’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is keeping America more involved in Asia than it might otherwise be, and increasing the chances that Japan and South Korea might one day deploy nuclear defences of their own. That would hardly be in anyone’s interest, especially China’s.

 

Xi is going in the opposite direction. He is limiting the press, closing down civil-society groups and squeezing the space for public discussion. To do him justice, he is not doing this because he is turning his back on China’s problems. But he is determined that only the party may be allowed to address them. And if it fails, then the problems will not be addressed.

 

While Xi’s new power might provide reassurance to investors who believe that bureaucratic resistance has slowed his reform agenda, risks could mount over time. Centralized control by one man could become a problem should his health fail or subordinates hesitate to question bad decisions from the top.

 

 

In the long run, the change may bring some uncertainties, like ‘key man’ risk. Dissenting is becoming riskier. The room for debate is becoming narrower. The risk of a policy mistake could become higher and correcting a flawed policy could take longer.

.

Globally, it’s about making sure China becomes a superpower that gets to make the rules.  Xi Jinping now has an institutional guarantee of support. He can be emperor for life — staying in power as long as his health allows.

 

Xi looks set to emerge from the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China stronger than ever, both domestically and on the international stage.

 

President Xi is a trailblazer; he opens up a new model for China’s development.” Other people said they didn’t know what it meant Xi had managed to “totally repudiate” a tradition of collective leadership instituted by Deng: “It’s a return to one-man rule. It’s a backward step.”

 

When asked what he thought of Xi Jinping

 

However, it looks like that Wang Qishan, Xi’s anti-corruption czar, will be retiring despite some speculation that Xi would bend the rules and allow him to stay on in the PBSC — despite being older than the customary retirement age of 68. His name wasn’t on a list of Central Committee members from which the politburo and its standing committee are named. Retaining Wang would have set a precedent for any future power play by Xi, 64, to stay in the top job beyond 2022.

President Xi Jinping is the first Chinese leader to have been born after 1949, when Mao’s Communist forces took over following a protracted civil war. The purging of his father led to years of difficulties for the family, but he nevertheless rose through its ranks. Beginning as a county-level party secretary in 1969, Xi climbed to the governorship of coastal Fujian province in 1999, then party chief of Zhejiang province in 2002 and eventually Shanghai in 2007. That same year, he was appointed to the Politburo Standing Committee.

 

Following Mao’s disastrous economic campaigns and the bloody 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, the Communist leadership sought to prevent further chaos by tempering presidential power through a system in which major personnel and policy decisions were hashed out by the ruling Politburo Standing Committee. The move helped prevent political power from becoming too concentrated in the hands of a single leader but was also blamed for policy indecision that led to growing ills such as worsening pollution, corruption and social unrest.

 

A devoted communist seeking to refine the system, President Xi sees himself as China’s third transformational president, alongside Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. Mao held the country together and established the communist state. Deng set China on the road to riches and saved the party from the lure of democracy. Xi’s aim is to give China back its rightful place at the centre of its world and to save the party again, this time from itself.

 

 

Big Uncle Xi, as he has been dubbed by Communist propaganda, has broken sharply with that tradition since taking over as president in 2013 and now looms over the country in a deepening cult of personality. He has used crackdowns on corruption to extent his hold over the party and calls for a revitalized party to become the most powerful Chinese leader in decades. Fighting graft and upholding party leadership were already central to him in 2000.

 

Xi vowed to root out corruption following a $10 billion smuggling scandal, but ruled out political reform to confront the problem, saying he would work within the one-party structure and system of political consultation and “supervision by the masses”. As Xi presided over the closing session in the Great Hall of the People, more than 2,200 delegates raised their hands in unison to approve the party charter amendments, with staffers announcing “meiyou” (“none”) to indicate the lack of dissenting or abstaining votes.

 

 

Xi Jinping is now 64 and has got at least 20 years left in him that would take him almost to the centenary of the establishment of the People’s Republic in 2049.

 

Xi, who was given a second term as the party’s general secretary at the five-yearly party congress in October, has amassed seemingly unchecked power and a level of officially stoked adulation unseen since Communist China’s founder Mao.

 

The people’s government, according to Xi,  must never forget the word the ‘people’ and we must do everything we can to serve the people, but to get all the government officials to do this is not easy.

 

At home, Xi has taken down senior leaders in his anti-corruption drive, launched an unprecedented crackdown on free speech, and radically overhauled the two-million strong People’s Liberation Army, the world’s largest fighting force. Domestically, the move to enshrine Xi’s name in the party charter would signify greater party control over all aspects of life in China.

 

 

Critics say that Xi Jinping has been good for China’s Communist Party; less so for China. Contradicting Deng Xiaoping, Xi has concentrated vast power in his own hands.  His personal powers reflect his exalted sense of mission. He is president; head of the party and in July was referred to by state media as “supreme commander”, a title last conferred on Deng. He bestrides the bureaucracy like a colossus, having swept away and replaced almost all the party leaders and local governors in China’s 31 provinces, as well as much of the top brass of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). More members of the China’s “supreme ruler” was seeking to change China’s constitution rather than simply ignoring it, so as to avoid looking like “some sort of Banana Republic”. But the effect was the same: “He’s signaling: ‘I’m going to stay on forever.

 

Xi was later to complain that “among party members…even senior cadres, there are those whose conviction isn’t strong enough and who are not loyal to the party.” Members were corrupt. They no longer believe in communism. Some even talked about moving to a more democratic system of government. To Xi, this was a road to ruin. “If morale is low, organisation loose, discipline and ethics unchecked,” he wrote, “then in the end we will not only fail but…the tragedy of the Emperor Chu who was murdered in 202BC might occur again.”

While calling for China’s “great rejuvenation” as a world power, Xi has cultivated a personal image as a man of the people who dresses modestly and buys his own steamed buns at an ordinary shop.

Following a divorce from his first wife, Xi married the celebrity soprano Peng Liyuan in 1987, at a time when she was much more famous than him. The couple’s daughter, Xi Mingze, studied at Harvard but stays out of the public eye.

Above all, Xi has shifted the balance of power between party and government. Prime ministers used to be in charge of the economy but the main institution for economic policymaking now seems to be the leading small group on deepening reform, which Xi chairs. Wang Qishan, the head of the CCDI, said earlier this year that “there is no such thing as the separation between the party and the government.” Compare that with a speech made by Deng in 1980: “It is time for us to distinguish between the responsibilities of the party and those of the government,” the former leader said, “and to stop substituting the former for the latter.” In his attempt to bolster the party’s fortunes, Xi has turned the clock back almost 40 years.

 

Anti-corruption actions Xi Jinping took very seriously, more aggressively than Soviet leader Gorbachev did but took care not to harm the party in any manner as Gorbachev faced.  Xi has taken down senior leaders in his anti-corruption drive, launched an unprecedented crackdown on free speech, and radically overhauled the two-million strong People’s Liberation Army, the world’s largest fighting force.

 

Xi’s personal authority has been enhanced, so far without serious public opposition. This is one of the dangers of his programme. So much depends on him personally that there is a risk everything will collapse when he goes. Or that he will be tempted to stay on and on. As one liberal commentator says, Xi has offended too many people to walk away quietly. For good or ill, he has begun to make the party a more effective instrument of control.

 

 

  1. As permanent president of China, what does Xi Jinping aim at? 

 

Pathetic end of Soviet Union and its isolation alerted China to be on its guard. Clearly, Xi was appointed to save the party. Although China experiences tens of thousands of anti-government demonstrations each year, these are local affrays which are mostly reactions to greedy local governments. The party faces no national threat and seems to have bounced back from the traumatic events around Tiananmen Square in 1989.  Yet that is not how Xi saw matters in 2012. To him, and to the elite who chose him as China’s leader, the party faced an existential threat.

China’s strong or authoritarian leader Xi took power in 2012 and had been expected to rule until 2023. However, last week it emerged that Xi would attempt to use an annual meeting of China’s parliament, which kicks off, to abolish presidential term limits by changing the Chinese constitution.

 

Xi repeatedly referred to “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era,” during a three-and-a-half-hour opening speech to the National Party Congress last week. And the resolution passed Tuesday echoed many of the same themes. The address detailed his sweeping vision for the country, charting its future in a world where China’s reach is now extending — and being felt — further than ever before.

 

 

Chinese leaders attribute the Soviet implosion to a failure of self-confidence by Russian communists and are determined that nothing like that should ever occur in China. It is not ancient history that frightens Xi, however. It is the disintegration of the Soviet Union. For him, everything begins and ends with the party (“east, west, north or south, the party leads everything,” he wrote. If it collapses, so will the country.

Xi has spoken of the Russians “not being man enough” to stand up for their party. From the start, he set out to be man enough.  He is well prepared to shore up the party’s beliefs.

Discipline requires self-control. Xi has instituted what he calls “democratic life meetings” for members to reflect on their behavior and learn to set an example. It means attending ideology classes. Party leaders have always run ideological campaigns but Xi has been unusually enthusiastic about them. In 2016 he even started an online campaign encouraging members to write out the party constitution by hand, like naughty schoolchildren. Xi is putting the communist back into communist China.

 

The best known of his campaigns is aimed at corruption. Since 2012 the main anti-graft body, the Central Commission on Discipline Inspection (CCDI), has begun disciplinary actions against 1.4m party members. But it is only part of a broader effort to instill discipline. At a meeting just before the congress, the Politburo reported that “for the party, strict self-governance in every sense will never end.”

Discipline requires loyalty. As an article in Qiushi, the party’s main theoretical journal, put it earlier this year: “there is no 99.9% loyalty. It is 100% pure and absolute loyalty and nothing less.” Institutions that fail to reach the required levels of groveling feel the consequences.  Xi has emasculated the Communist Youth League, once an influential group and the road to power for his prime minister, Li Keqiang, and his predecessor as China’s leader, Hu. Calling it out of touch, bureaucratic and arrogant, he demoted its chief, jailed one of the top officials and dismantled the league’s school.

The party has to be knocked into shape, in  Xi’s view, because he wants to double down on its control. Party members in companies—including joint ventures with foreigners—have started to claim the right to approve investment decisions. Academics, once permitted a limited freedom of inquiry, now find it impossible to conduct research into sensitive subjects, such as the Cultural Revolution. State-owned newspapers have been told bluntly that their job is to serve the party. It always was, of course, but previous governments had also encouraged them to report unwelcome facts.  Xi has also cracked down on anything that might remotely challenge the party’s monopoly of power, arresting human-rights lawyers by the score and passing a new law to make life harder for charities.

 

 Predicting the future of China

 

Xi’s face now graces the front page of every paper in the country, while his exploits and directives headline each night’s evening news.

 

 

Dictators are always arrogant. Dictatorship is a disaster for political civilization and detrimental to genuine human development and survival.

 

Communism is linked with totalitarianism and dictatorship. But the dictatorship of poor and common people is positive trend. President Xi is not entirely a dictator like say Trump or Netanyahu.

.

This is the first time that a top power like China has named its ruler the permanent one with immediate effect.

 

China has elevated the stature of President Xi Jinping and cemented his grip on power by including his name and political ideology in the Communist Party constitution. The move puts Xi on par with Chairman Mao Zedong who founded the People’s Republic of China in 1949 and paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, who oversaw China’s opening up to the world.

 

The Chinese leadership defended the move, with Xi telling a group of delegates from the southern province of Guangdong that the constitutional amendments reflected “the common will of the party and people.” Repealing presidential term limits was “an important measure for perfecting the system of the party and the state,” the party’s People Daily newspaper said in a commentary published, citing the lesson of the Soviet Union’s collapse.

 

 

China has not only elevated the stature of President Xi Jinping and but also cemented his grip on power by including his name and political ideology in the Communist Party constitution.

 

China’s previous two presidents, Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin, haven’t had their names enshrined in the constitution in this way. Xi Jinping now has an institutional guarantee of support. He can be emperor for life — staying in power as long as his health allows. Xi looks set to emerge from the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China stronger than ever, both domestically and on the international stage.

 

Chinese parliament vote allowed President Xi Jinping to retain power indefinitely in a formal break from succession rules set up after Mao Zedong’s turbulent rule. The vote — never in doubt — gives Xi more time to enact plans to centralize party control, increase global clout and curb financial and environmental risks. It also ties the world’s most populous country more closely to the fate of a single man than at any point since reformer Deng Xiaoping began establishing a system for peaceful power transitions in the aftermath of Mao’s death.

 

Every leader since Mao has wrestled with questions about the Communist Party’s legitimacy, and Xi is no exception. For years, economic growth provided the party’s “mandate of heaven”. But growth is slowing, inequality is rising, and middle-class concerns about housing, education and health care cannot be allayed by ladling on an extra point of GDP.

In 1980 Deng Xiaoping gave a speech to the Politburo in which he called for a clearer separation between party and state, gave warning against concentrating too much authority in one person. Xi is rejecting all of Deng’s good advice. He himself might benefit. But China might not.

Xi has presided over a tough crackdown on civil society and freedom of speech that belies the chummy image – and he tolerates no ridicule or slander of his person. There are clear signs that Xi Jinping was planning to cement his grip on China.

 

The Communist Party’s power-broking congress in October confirmed Xi’s induction into the leadership pantheon alongside Mao and market reformer Deng Xiaoping by writing his name and political ideology into the party’s constitution.

Still, the proposal to repeal term limits prompted unusually open expressions of dissent. The move made China vulnerable to repeating the power struggles of past eras. It planted the seeds for China to once again fall into turmoil.

 

President Xi Jinping is moving ahead with his career plan in a systematic manner. In his first five years, he has seized control of economic policy, reasserted the Communist Party’s authority and sidelined potential rivals in an unprecedented anti-corruption campaign. Now, he’s set to make the Xi era permanent.

 

As the undisputed ruler of one-fifth of humanity, Xi is arguably the world’s most powerful leader. US President Donald Trump is battling investigations, Germany’s Angela Merkel is nursing a fragile coalition and Russia’s Vladimir Putin is struggling under sanctions. Xi, meanwhile, laid out a 30-year plan in October for a “New Era” that completes China’s restoration among the world’s great powers. The others are managing countries for a while — he’s trying to build a new one.  He’s got vastly more freedom of action than Trump and Merkel, a vastly stronger economy than Putin, but also probably a more daunting job than any of them — higher expectations.

 

The changes are so sweeping they might be seen as a turning point, with Xi officially remaking the party-state with himself at the center.  The changes leave Xi with sole responsibility for China’s $12 trillion economy, mounting debt pile, more aspirational middle class and growing overseas interests. He’s attempting to become a developed economy without loosening political control, staking the party’s legitimacy on its ability to make China rich and strong.

 

China has cracked down on online criticism of Xi’s power play, even as shares of companies with “king” or “emperor” in their names surged after the amendment was unveiled. Still, the proposal to repeal term limits prompted unusually open expressions of dissent. Li Datong, a former senior editor at the official China Youth Daily newspaper, said made China vulnerable to repeating power struggles of the past.

 

Disappointed that China is not going the Soviet way of disintegration, USA is deeply worried that it is unable to control the presidential poll in Russia and stop Xi from becoming the permanent president of China. Before the vote in Beijing, Donald Trump, maybe disappointed that his country does not have provisions to let him be the permanent US president, had joked that Xi was “now president for life”.

 

The US global dictator Donald Trump has celebrated Xi Jinping’s bid to shepherd China back into an era of one-man dictatorship in China, suggesting the USA might one day “give that a shot”. In fact, Trump praises Xi Jinping’s power grab and admires Xi’s power play.

 

The so-called “Liberals” have condemned the ‘power grab’ in Beijing, which will almost certainly be approved by members of the National People’s Congress. The topic of Xi’s power grab is so politically sensitive within China that nearly all of the academics approached by the Guardian for comment in the lead-up to congress declined to talk.

 

Some experts have criticized the move as the amendment paves the way for Xi to be China’s ruler-for-life. “This is a critical moment in China’s history,” Cheng Li, said a prominent expert in elite Chinese politics who has criticised the move.   Western experts say they are convinced Xi’s plan is to rule for many years to come.

 

Apparently, President Xi has no plan to uproot the Socialist system as Russians have done hurriedly or disband the communist agenda of the regime.

 

Globally, the world now would likely to see China continue to step into a global leadership vacuum as the USA turns inward and far away under President Donald Trump. An expert says domestically it’s about tightening Communist Party control over all aspects of Chinese life in the internet age.

 

While Russia dismantled Socialism and communism and opted to join the US led capitalist nations, China retained its socialist character and adopted gradual transformation to capitalism by adopting convergence method by which both capitalism and capitalism coexist No one can say China is a communist nation or a capitalist outfit.

 

In fact, convergence has percolated conveniently into Chinese system and society a long time ago. Socialism with Chinese Characteristics has long been used to describe how Marxism has been adapted for China. The term was closely associated with Deng Xiaoping as a way to promote economic development.

 

China: Xi Jinping scraps presidential term limits, becomes permanent president


China: Xi 
Jinping scraps presidential term limits, becomes permanent president

-Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

———

 

 

This essay gives an idea about China’s policies, its future plans and ideas; it also tries to compare the failed Soviet experiments with Chinese model of development.

 

It is not strange that every ruler is eager to rule forever even without any serious reforms being effected into the system to serve the people much better, but the constitutional restrictions deny them to be the permanent rulers. Dynastic rule in a way perform the permanent ruling character. Even in democracies sons and daughters are being pampered to take over from patents to the nation as their prerogative.

 

In a rather strange manner by which rulers of entire world would feel zealous, Xi Jinping has made himself legally the permanent president of China. For instance, the US president Trump and Israeli PM Netanyahu- both face wrath of people of their respective country for their arrogance and corruption, for the waste of money on terror wars and losing lives of soldiers, very much would like to rule their countries permanently without the need to face the voters in future.

 

Yes, not just Trump and Netanyahu but most of the rulers want to be permanent ones. Arab rulers, Indian PM Modi are not alone in dreaming to be the permanent rulers. While Arab rulers also can easily pass a law to that effect, PM Modi has to wait until the upper house of Parliament is full of his party members to make “reforms” in the constitution to make India one party ruled nation and himself the permanent ruler. Interestingly, India’s former PM Dr Manmohan Singh who promoted rampant corruption in India   by allowing every minister and official to loot the resources at will is also dreaming of becoming the permanent PM of India if his boss Ms. Sonia Gandhi manages to get a non-BJP coalition and win the elections next year.

 

  1. China elects its first ever permanent president

 

Recently, on March 11 the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) in a two-week summit in Beijing made the President Xi the permanent president to make the nation stronger. The move allows the 64-year-old Xi to remain in power for as long as he wishes, ruling as a virtual emperor, and is the latest feather in the cap of a Communist “princeling” who is re-making China in his own image. The almost 3,000 delegates to the country’s legislature passed the measure as part of a package of changes to the country’s constitution, with 2,958 voting for, two against and three abstaining.

 

China’s parliament voted to abolish presidential term limits, clearing the path for President Xi Jinping to rule for life. The National People’s Congress agreed to strike a 36-year-old constitutional provision barring the president from serving more than two consecutive terms and to enact sweeping legislative changes that would allow Xi to rule indefinitely and give him greater control over the levers of money and power. The amendment removes the only barrier keeping Xi, 64, from staying on after his expected second term ends in 2023.

 

Some analysts have speculated that President Xi Jinping will seek to stay on beyond 2023, when his second term is due to end, breaking a tradition followed by his two predecessors and emulating Russian President Vladimir Putin who would resume his third term shortly at the Kremlin. Russians want a strong President like Putin to be their leader permanently.

 

 

The congress accorded him a sort of ideological dominance by referring to his writings about communism by name in the party’s constitution—something denied to his two predecessors. Doing this would make Xi China’s ideological arbiter. His predecessors, Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin, were appointed mainly to continue Deng’s economic reforms.

 

The CPC decision includes repealing presidential term limits, creating a powerful new agency to police officials and possibly approving the biggest regulatory overhaul of the $43 trillion finance-and-insurance sector in 15 years. As Xi presided over the closing session in the Great Hall of the People, more than 2,200 delegates raised their hands in unison to approve the party charter amendments, with staffers announcing “meiyou” (“none”) to indicate the lack of dissenting or abstaining votes.

 

The term-limits repeal is part of a package of amendments to China’s constitution. They include inserting Xi’s name alongside Mao’s and Deng’s, and enshrining in law his principles for a more assertive foreign policy. Neither of Xi’s other two main titles — party leader and commander-in-chief of the military — come with term limits. The changes also allow for the creation of a powerful new law enforcement and ethics commission to police public servants, making permanent an anti-graft campaign that has punished more than 1.5 million officials.

 

The amendment generates a level of uncertainty. The term limit — while only applying to the lesser role of the state presidency — has also come to shape expectations for the timing of transitions in the leadership of the party and military.” Deng Xiaoping Theory was added to the constitution six months after his death in February 1997. China’s previous two presidents, Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin, haven’t had their names enshrined in the constitution in this way.

 

Xi Jinping has joined the pantheon of Chinese leadership two decades after bursting onto the scene as a graft-fighting governor who went on to earn comparisons with Mao Zedong in his quest for unrestricted power.

 

The NPC would definitely endorse appointment of Xi to a second term.

 

 Xi declared that China should “take center stage in the world,” and that its brand of socialism offers “a new choice for other countries.” He added that, “no one should expect China to swallow anything that undermines its interests.” Xi’s “new era” philosophy sought to establish China as a superpower that “plays a rule-setting role in global affairs.”

 

At the end of a pivotal twice-a-decade meeting, party delegates voted unanimously to make “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” a guiding principle for the party.

 

  1. Importance of President Xi

 

 

 

 

Xi has a dream: the dream of a rejuvenated China, again dominating “everything under heaven”, might be popular. And if Xi can make the country respected abroad, that might translate into respect for the party at home. Hence his second concern—China in the world—reinforces his first.

 

Trump’s America-first nationalism has given  Xi a chance to claim global leadership. In January 2017 he told the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos that China should “guide economic globalization”. A month later he added that it should “guide international society towards a more just and rational new world order.”

Vast sums back up the slogans.  Xi’s “Belt and Road Initiative”, his most ambitious foreign policy, involves spending hundreds of billions of dollars on infrastructure in 60-odd countries in Asia and Europe. If it works, it could make Eurasian trade, centered on China, a rival to transatlantic trade, focused on America.

Xi has been more assertive in pressing China’s claims in the South China Sea. Last year, a UN tribunal rejected those claims. China promptly persuaded the Philippines, which had brought the case, to disavow its legal victory in return for lavish investment. Xi’s reform of the PLA has made the armed forces more outward-looking. They used to be organised mainly for defence and control of the domestic population. Xi has built up the navy, created new “theatre commands” to project force abroad and has opened China’s first overseas military base in Djibouti.

And he has greatly expanded China’s influence-buying activities abroad. China has long supported instruments of soft power such as the Confucius Institutes, which teach foreigners about the Chinese language and culture. Now, the party is also putting money into media operations in the West and trying to use overseas Chinese people as agents of state policy. In short, Xi has disavowed Deng’s advice that, in foreign affairs, China should “keep a low profile and never claim leadership.”

It is impossible to say whether he has sprinkled the stardust of legitimacy upon his party, as he wants. An opinion poll in 2016 by the Pew Research Centre in America found that only 60% of Chinese thought their involvement in the global economy a good thing. On the other hand, this year’s cinematic smash hit is a “patriotic” film called “Wolf Warriors 2”, showing a Chinese soldier killing bad guys round the world. So perhaps bossing foreigners around might prove popular.

At any rate, if Xi’s efforts have had mixed results, that is not because they have failed. As with his party reforms, he can congratulate himself on a job well started. China’s vast bureaucracy has lumbered into action behind the belt and road project. China is buttressing its claims in the South China Sea with new facts on the ground or, rather, in the ocean, in the form of military construction on artificial islands. The country is now widely regarded as a leader in global climate talks.

Xi, in short, can look back with some satisfaction on the twin goals he set himself. But there remains a more profound question, whether they are the right aims for his country. During the next decade, a number of slow-burning problems will start to blaze. Water shortages, historically one of China’s most severe challenges, will become acute. More poisoned air will be pumped out and more poisoned soil uncovered. The first generation born under the one-child policy is reaching marriageable age, bringing with it the excess of boys over girls that was exacerbated by population control. The vast debts built up by China’s local governments and state-owned enterprises will also have to be handled.

What these disparate matters have in common is that many of the best solutions come from outside the party. Environmental groups could put public pressure on polluters. A freer press could shine a light on all sorts of abuses, from corruption to fraud. More competition among firms, as well as harder budget constraints, would reduce the excess debt of state-owned enterprises and local governments.

Perhaps the only serious setback to Xi’s claim to leadership has come in North-East Asia. His unwillingness to rein in Kim Jong Un’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is keeping America more involved in Asia than it might otherwise be, and increasing the chances that Japan and South Korea might one day deploy nuclear defences of their own. That would hardly be in anyone’s interest, especially China’s.

 

Xi is going in the opposite direction. He is limiting the press, closing down civil-society groups and squeezing the space for public discussion. To do him justice, he is not doing this because he is turning his back on China’s problems. But he is determined that only the party may be allowed to address them. And if it fails, then the problems will not be addressed.

 

While Xi’s new power might provide reassurance to investors who believe that bureaucratic resistance has slowed his reform agenda, risks could mount over time. Centralized control by one man could become a problem should his health fail or subordinates hesitate to question bad decisions from the top.

 

 

In the long run, the change may bring some uncertainties, like ‘key man’ risk. Dissenting is becoming riskier. The room for debate is becoming narrower. The risk of a policy mistake could become higher and correcting a flawed policy could take longer.

.

Globally, it’s about making sure China becomes a superpower that gets to make the rules.  Xi Jinping now has an institutional guarantee of support. He can be emperor for life — staying in power as long as his health allows.

 

Xi looks set to emerge from the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China stronger than ever, both domestically and on the international stage.

 

President Xi is a trailblazer; he opens up a new model for China’s development.” Other people said they didn’t know what it meant Xi had managed to “totally repudiate” a tradition of collective leadership instituted by Deng: “It’s a return to one-man rule. It’s a backward step.”

 

When asked what he thought of Xi Jinping

 

However, it looks like that Wang Qishan, Xi’s anti-corruption czar, will be retiring despite some speculation that Xi would bend the rules and allow him to stay on in the PBSC — despite being older than the customary retirement age of 68. His name wasn’t on a list of Central Committee members from which the politburo and its standing committee are named. Retaining Wang would have set a precedent for any future power play by Xi, 64, to stay in the top job beyond 2022.

President Xi Jinping is the first Chinese leader to have been born after 1949, when Mao’s Communist forces took over following a protracted civil war. The purging of his father led to years of difficulties for the family, but he nevertheless rose through its ranks. Beginning as a county-level party secretary in 1969, Xi climbed to the governorship of coastal Fujian province in 1999, then party chief of Zhejiang province in 2002 and eventually Shanghai in 2007. That same year, he was appointed to the Politburo Standing Committee.

 

Following Mao’s disastrous economic campaigns and the bloody 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, the Communist leadership sought to prevent further chaos by tempering presidential power through a system in which major personnel and policy decisions were hashed out by the ruling Politburo Standing Committee. The move helped prevent political power from becoming too concentrated in the hands of a single leader but was also blamed for policy indecision that led to growing ills such as worsening pollution, corruption and social unrest.

 

A devoted communist seeking to refine the system, President Xi sees himself as China’s third transformational president, alongside Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. Mao held the country together and established the communist state. Deng set China on the road to riches and saved the party from the lure of democracy. Xi’s aim is to give China back its rightful place at the centre of its world and to save the party again, this time from itself.

 

 

Big Uncle Xi, as he has been dubbed by Communist propaganda, has broken sharply with that tradition since taking over as president in 2013 and now looms over the country in a deepening cult of personality. He has used crackdowns on corruption to extent his hold over the party and calls for a revitalized party to become the most powerful Chinese leader in decades. Fighting graft and upholding party leadership were already central to him in 2000.

 

Xi vowed to root out corruption following a $10 billion smuggling scandal, but ruled out political reform to confront the problem, saying he would work within the one-party structure and system of political consultation and “supervision by the masses”. As Xi presided over the closing session in the Great Hall of the People, more than 2,200 delegates raised their hands in unison to approve the party charter amendments, with staffers announcing “meiyou” (“none”) to indicate the lack of dissenting or abstaining votes.

 

 

Xi Jinping is now 64 and has got at least 20 years left in him that would take him almost to the centenary of the establishment of the People’s Republic in 2049.

 

Xi, who was given a second term as the party’s general secretary at the five-yearly party congress in October, has amassed seemingly unchecked power and a level of officially stoked adulation unseen since Communist China’s founder Mao.

 

The people’s government, according to Xi,  must never forget the word the ‘people’ and we must do everything we can to serve the people, but to get all the government officials to do this is not easy.

 

At home, Xi has taken down senior leaders in his anti-corruption drive, launched an unprecedented crackdown on free speech, and radically overhauled the two-million strong People’s Liberation Army, the world’s largest fighting force. Domestically, the move to enshrine Xi’s name in the party charter would signify greater party control over all aspects of life in China.

 

 

Critics say that Xi Jinping has been good for China’s Communist Party; less so for China. Contradicting Deng Xiaoping, Xi has concentrated vast power in his own hands.  His personal powers reflect his exalted sense of mission. He is president; head of the party and in July was referred to by state media as “supreme commander”, a title last conferred on Deng. He bestrides the bureaucracy like a colossus, having swept away and replaced almost all the party leaders and local governors in China’s 31 provinces, as well as much of the top brass of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). More members of the China’s “supreme ruler” was seeking to change China’s constitution rather than simply ignoring it, so as to avoid looking like “some sort of Banana Republic”. But the effect was the same: “He’s signaling: ‘I’m going to stay on forever.

 

Xi was later to complain that “among party members…even senior cadres, there are those whose conviction isn’t strong enough and who are not loyal to the party.” Members were corrupt. They no longer believe in communism. Some even talked about moving to a more democratic system of government. To Xi, this was a road to ruin. “If morale is low, organisation loose, discipline and ethics unchecked,” he wrote, “then in the end we will not only fail but…the tragedy of the Emperor Chu who was murdered in 202BC might occur again.”

While calling for China’s “great rejuvenation” as a world power, Xi has cultivated a personal image as a man of the people who dresses modestly and buys his own steamed buns at an ordinary shop.

Following a divorce from his first wife, Xi married the celebrity soprano Peng Liyuan in 1987, at a time when she was much more famous than him. The couple’s daughter, Xi Mingze, studied at Harvard but stays out of the public eye.

Above all, Xi has shifted the balance of power between party and government. Prime ministers used to be in charge of the economy but the main institution for economic policymaking now seems to be the leading small group on deepening reform, which Xi chairs. Wang Qishan, the head of the CCDI, said earlier this year that “there is no such thing as the separation between the party and the government.” Compare that with a speech made by Deng in 1980: “It is time for us to distinguish between the responsibilities of the party and those of the government,” the former leader said, “and to stop substituting the former for the latter.” In his attempt to bolster the party’s fortunes, Xi has turned the clock back almost 40 years.

 

Anti-corruption actions Xi Jinping took very seriously, more aggressively than Soviet leader Gorbachev did but took care not to harm the party in any manner as Gorbachev faced.  Xi has taken down senior leaders in his anti-corruption drive, launched an unprecedented crackdown on free speech, and radically overhauled the two-million strong People’s Liberation Army, the world’s largest fighting force.

 

Xi’s personal authority has been enhanced, so far without serious public opposition. This is one of the dangers of his programme. So much depends on him personally that there is a risk everything will collapse when he goes. Or that he will be tempted to stay on and on. As one liberal commentator says, Xi has offended too many people to walk away quietly. For good or ill, he has begun to make the party a more effective instrument of control.

 

 

  1. As permanent president of China, what does Xi Jinping aim at? 

 

Pathetic end of Soviet Union and its isolation alerted China to be on its guard. Clearly, Xi was appointed to save the party. Although China experiences tens of thousands of anti-government demonstrations each year, these are local affrays which are mostly reactions to greedy local governments. The party faces no national threat and seems to have bounced back from the traumatic events around Tiananmen Square in 1989.  Yet that is not how Xi saw matters in 2012. To him, and to the elite who chose him as China’s leader, the party faced an existential threat.

China’s strong or authoritarian leader Xi took power in 2012 and had been expected to rule until 2023. However, last week it emerged that Xi would attempt to use an annual meeting of China’s parliament, which kicks off, to abolish presidential term limits by changing the Chinese constitution.

 

Xi repeatedly referred to “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era,” during a three-and-a-half-hour opening speech to the National Party Congress last week. And the resolution passed Tuesday echoed many of the same themes. The address detailed his sweeping vision for the country, charting its future in a world where China’s reach is now extending — and being felt — further than ever before.

 

 

Chinese leaders attribute the Soviet implosion to a failure of self-confidence by Russian communists and are determined that nothing like that should ever occur in China. It is not ancient history that frightens Xi, however. It is the disintegration of the Soviet Union. For him, everything begins and ends with the party (“east, west, north or south, the party leads everything,” he wrote. If it collapses, so will the country.

Xi has spoken of the Russians “not being man enough” to stand up for their party. From the start, he set out to be man enough.  He is well prepared to shore up the party’s beliefs.

Discipline requires self-control. Xi has instituted what he calls “democratic life meetings” for members to reflect on their behavior and learn to set an example. It means attending ideology classes. Party leaders have always run ideological campaigns but Xi has been unusually enthusiastic about them. In 2016 he even started an online campaign encouraging members to write out the party constitution by hand, like naughty schoolchildren. Xi is putting the communist back into communist China.

 

The best known of his campaigns is aimed at corruption. Since 2012 the main anti-graft body, the Central Commission on Discipline Inspection (CCDI), has begun disciplinary actions against 1.4m party members. But it is only part of a broader effort to instill discipline. At a meeting just before the congress, the Politburo reported that “for the party, strict self-governance in every sense will never end.”

Discipline requires loyalty. As an article in Qiushi, the party’s main theoretical journal, put it earlier this year: “there is no 99.9% loyalty. It is 100% pure and absolute loyalty and nothing less.” Institutions that fail to reach the required levels of groveling feel the consequences.  Xi has emasculated the Communist Youth League, once an influential group and the road to power for his prime minister, Li Keqiang, and his predecessor as China’s leader, Hu. Calling it out of touch, bureaucratic and arrogant, he demoted its chief, jailed one of the top officials and dismantled the league’s school.

The party has to be knocked into shape, in  Xi’s view, because he wants to double down on its control. Party members in companies—including joint ventures with foreigners—have started to claim the right to approve investment decisions. Academics, once permitted a limited freedom of inquiry, now find it impossible to conduct research into sensitive subjects, such as the Cultural Revolution. State-owned newspapers have been told bluntly that their job is to serve the party. It always was, of course, but previous governments had also encouraged them to report unwelcome facts.  Xi has also cracked down on anything that might remotely challenge the party’s monopoly of power, arresting human-rights lawyers by the score and passing a new law to make life harder for charities.

 

 Predicting the future of China

 

Xi’s face now graces the front page of every paper in the country, while his exploits and directives headline each night’s evening news.

 

 

Dictators are always arrogant. Dictatorship is a disaster for political civilization and detrimental to genuine human development and survival.

 

Communism is linked with totalitarianism and dictatorship. But the dictatorship of poor and common people is positive trend. President Xi is not entirely a dictator like say Trump or Netanyahu.

.

This is the first time that a top power like China has named its ruler the permanent one with immediate effect.

 

China has elevated the stature of President Xi Jinping and cemented his grip on power by including his name and political ideology in the Communist Party constitution. The move puts Xi on par with Chairman Mao Zedong who founded the People’s Republic of China in 1949 and paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, who oversaw China’s opening up to the world.

 

The Chinese leadership defended the move, with Xi telling a group of delegates from the southern province of Guangdong that the constitutional amendments reflected “the common will of the party and people.” Repealing presidential term limits was “an important measure for perfecting the system of the party and the state,” the party’s People Daily newspaper said in a commentary published, citing the lesson of the Soviet Union’s collapse.

 

 

China has not only elevated the stature of President Xi Jinping and but also cemented his grip on power by including his name and political ideology in the Communist Party constitution.

 

China’s previous two presidents, Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin, haven’t had their names enshrined in the constitution in this way. Xi Jinping now has an institutional guarantee of support. He can be emperor for life — staying in power as long as his health allows. Xi looks set to emerge from the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China stronger than ever, both domestically and on the international stage.

 

Chinese parliament vote allowed President Xi Jinping to retain power indefinitely in a formal break from succession rules set up after Mao Zedong’s turbulent rule. The vote — never in doubt — gives Xi more time to enact plans to centralize party control, increase global clout and curb financial and environmental risks. It also ties the world’s most populous country more closely to the fate of a single man than at any point since reformer Deng Xiaoping began establishing a system for peaceful power transitions in the aftermath of Mao’s death.

 

Every leader since Mao has wrestled with questions about the Communist Party’s legitimacy, and Xi is no exception. For years, economic growth provided the party’s “mandate of heaven”. But growth is slowing, inequality is rising, and middle-class concerns about housing, education and health care cannot be allayed by ladling on an extra point of GDP.

In 1980 Deng Xiaoping gave a speech to the Politburo in which he called for a clearer separation between party and state, gave warning against concentrating too much authority in one person. Xi is rejecting all of Deng’s good advice. He himself might benefit. But China might not.

Xi has presided over a tough crackdown on civil society and freedom of speech that belies the chummy image – and he tolerates no ridicule or slander of his person. There are clear signs that Xi Jinping was planning to cement his grip on China.

 

The Communist Party’s power-broking congress in October confirmed Xi’s induction into the leadership pantheon alongside Mao and market reformer Deng Xiaoping by writing his name and political ideology into the party’s constitution.

Still, the proposal to repeal term limits prompted unusually open expressions of dissent. The move made China vulnerable to repeating the power struggles of past eras. It planted the seeds for China to once again fall into turmoil.

 

President Xi Jinping is moving ahead with his career plan in a systematic manner. In his first five years, he has seized control of economic policy, reasserted the Communist Party’s authority and sidelined potential rivals in an unprecedented anti-corruption campaign. Now, he’s set to make the Xi era permanent.

 

As the undisputed ruler of one-fifth of humanity, Xi is arguably the world’s most powerful leader. US President Donald Trump is battling investigations, Germany’s Angela Merkel is nursing a fragile coalition and Russia’s Vladimir Putin is struggling under sanctions. Xi, meanwhile, laid out a 30-year plan in October for a “New Era” that completes China’s restoration among the world’s great powers. The others are managing countries for a while — he’s trying to build a new one.  He’s got vastly more freedom of action than Trump and Merkel, a vastly stronger economy than Putin, but also probably a more daunting job than any of them — higher expectations.

 

The changes are so sweeping they might be seen as a turning point, with Xi officially remaking the party-state with himself at the center.  The changes leave Xi with sole responsibility for China’s $12 trillion economy, mounting debt pile, more aspirational middle class and growing overseas interests. He’s attempting to become a developed economy without loosening political control, staking the party’s legitimacy on its ability to make China rich and strong.

 

China has cracked down on online criticism of Xi’s power play, even as shares of companies with “king” or “emperor” in their names surged after the amendment was unveiled. Still, the proposal to repeal term limits prompted unusually open expressions of dissent. Li Datong, a former senior editor at the official China Youth Daily newspaper, said made China vulnerable to repeating power struggles of the past.

 

Disappointed that China is not going the Soviet way of disintegration, USA is deeply worried that it is unable to control the presidential poll in Russia and stop Xi from becoming the permanent president of China. Before the vote in Beijing, Donald Trump, maybe disappointed that his country does not have provisions to let him be the permanent US president, had joked that Xi was “now president for life”.

 

The US global dictator Donald Trump has celebrated Xi Jinping’s bid to shepherd China back into an era of one-man dictatorship in China, suggesting the USA might one day “give that a shot”. In fact, Trump praises Xi Jinping’s power grab and admires Xi’s power play.

 

The so-called “Liberals” have condemned the ‘power grab’ in Beijing, which will almost certainly be approved by members of the National People’s Congress. The topic of Xi’s power grab is so politically sensitive within China that nearly all of the academics approached by the Guardian for comment in the lead-up to congress declined to talk.

 

Some experts have criticized the move as the amendment paves the way for Xi to be China’s ruler-for-life. “This is a critical moment in China’s history,” Cheng Li, said a prominent expert in elite Chinese politics who has criticised the move.   Western experts say they are convinced Xi’s plan is to rule for many years to come.

 

Apparently, President Xi has no plan to uproot the Socialist system as Russians have done hurriedly or disband the communist agenda of the regime.

 

Globally, the world now would likely to see China continue to step into a global leadership vacuum as the USA turns inward and far away under President Donald Trump. An expert says domestically it’s about tightening Communist Party control over all aspects of Chinese life in the internet age.

 

While Russia dismantled Socialism and communism and opted to join the US led capitalist nations, China retained its socialist character and adopted gradual transformation to capitalism by adopting convergence method by which both capitalism and capitalism coexist No one can say China is a communist nation or a capitalist outfit.

 

In fact, convergence has percolated conveniently into Chinese system and society a long time ago. Socialism with Chinese Characteristics has long been used to describe how Marxism has been adapted for China. The term was closely associated with Deng Xiaoping as a way to promote economic development.

 

Egypt- a trembling democracy- to reelect President Sisi

Egypt- a trembling democracy- to reelect President Sisi

– Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

______

 

As Egyptians were hoping to see a new Egypt with all democratic rights restored to citizens and their economic position improved, the successful 2013 coup by the military removing and arresting the present Mohammad Morsi came as a rude shock to them.

The military shut the mouths of the people, crippled all democratic expectations. In the televised announcement, Sisi listed Egypt’s achievements during his first term, including a nascent financial recovery after years of political turmoil and economic instability.

People felt betrayed by the revolutionaries and military establishment. They also see a secret deal between them. But most of Arab Muslim nations and their western allies rejoiced the military take over from the democratic dispensation.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a former general who came to power in a coup against his democratically elected predecessor, Mohamed Morsi, is now all but certain to win the March election in a landslide. After removing, with the backing of USA and Saudi Arabia, among others, the first ever elected President Mohammed Mursi, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi became President of Egypt.

In January Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said he will run for a second term in office in an election in March, which the former military commander is widely expected to win. The vote will be held on March 26-28, with a run-off vote on April 24-26 if no candidate wins more than 50 percent in the first round. Candidates will register from Jan. 20 to 29.

Repression

Ahead of its March 26-28 presidential election, the Sisi regime is intensifying its crackdown on a free press. President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi is running essentially unopposed for reelection; the regime has been relentless against even the hint of credible opposition.

 

A coalition of Egyptian opposition groups have called for an election boycott, calling the vote”absurdity bordering on madness” after all serious candidates were either arrested or subjected to a campaign of intimidation. In a joint statement, eight Egyptian opposition parties and 150 pro-democracy public figures urged Egyptians to stay away from the March polls in protest, accusing the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of preventing “any fair competition”.

Several potential candidates have either been arrested or faced threats, intimidation and physical violence, forcing them to drop out. Sami Anan, a former general, had planned to run against Sisi but was arrested at gunpoint by Egyptian security services. His vice-presidential candidate, Hisham Genena, was attacked and seriously injured in a busy Cairo street. In December 2017, Ahmed Konsowa, an army colonel, was sentenced to six years in prison after announcing his candidacy, while human rights lawyer Khaled Ali withdrew after receiving a three-month prison sentence. The New York Times quoted one of Shafik’s lawyers as saying that the Egyptian government had forced him to withdraw by threatening to investigate previous charges of corruption against him.

Earlier, Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik, seen as the most serious potential challenger to date, said he was no longer considering a bid following a firestorm of criticism from state-aligned media and speculation that he was being held by authorities in a Cairo hotel. His most high-profile challengers are former army chief of staff Sami Anan and human rights lawyer Khaled Ali, but neither is expected to garner enough votes to oust him.

Sisi’s only challenger is Mousa Mostafa Mousa, a government supporter who entered the race at the 11th hour, amid fears that a widespread boycott could lead to embarrassingly few votes being cast. Mousa, who formally submitted his candidacy 15 minutes before the deadline despite not publicly declaring his intention to run until the day before, denied allegations he was cooperating with the government, saying, “We are not puppets in this race.”

However the 66-year-old has repeatedly endorsed Sisi, and last year formed a campaign called “Supporters of President el-Sisi’s nomination for a second term”.  Egyptians took to social media and used the hashtag Al-Kombares, which loosely translates to someone playing the role of an “extra”, to mock Mousa’s candidacy and the upcoming poll.

The supporters of Sisi claim that Sisi’s rule has brought some stability to the country, but critics say his popularity has been eroded by tough economic reforms that have hit people’s livelihood’s hard and by a crackdown on dissidents. Some argue that measures are needed to keep the country stable as it faces security challenges including attacks by Islamic State militants in the North Sinai region.

Egyptian presidents have often “used false organic displays of popularity as part of their political propaganda toolkit. Sisi came to prominence when he led the army’s ouster of President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013 – Egypt’s first freely elected leader – two years after the downfall of longtime ruler President Hosni Mubarak in the “Arab Spring” uprisings that swept the Middle East. The former general became president himself in 2014, winning 96.91 percent of the vote, although turnout was only about 47 percent of the 54 million voters, after voting was extended for a day. Sisi’s critics say his popularity has been hurt by austerity reforms, security problems, a crackdown on dissidents and his decision to hand two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, which showered Egypt with billions of dollars of aid, touching a nationalistic nerve.

Democracy is causality

Democracy and a free press are again facing an existential threat in Egypt. The regime of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi is intensifying its long-running crackdown on journalists in the lead-up to the country’s March 26-28 presidential election.

Egypt ranks 161 out of 180 countries in press freedoms according to watchdog Reporters Without Borders’ 2017 Press Freedoms Index. The government’s warnings to media are not new.  in recent months, authorities have blocked about 500 websites, including media outlets like Al-Jazeera and the local Mada Masr, while journalists have been arrested.

Media in Egypt faces increased scrutiny and restrictions by authorities ahead of a presidential election this month incumbent Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will dominate. The disturbed president, addressing media, warned on Thursday against “defamation” of security forces.

A reporter for the Huffington Post’s Arabic website was detained last month after publishing an interview with prominent dissident Hisham Geneina who mentioned the existence of documents that are damaging to senior state officials.  At least 29 journalists are in detention, according to Reporters Without Borders, including some accused of working for media affiliated with the banned Muslim Brotherhood group. Some of the restrictions are unprecedented.

The government has not confirmed or denied its role in the blackout, but Taher said internet providers do not block websites without a request from authorities. For some outlets, the measure has impacted their operations. One site, Masr Al-Arabia, had to reduce staff by 60 per cent.

The government’s State Information Service called for an official boycott of the BBC last week after a report on abuses in which a woman claimed her daughter had been forcibly disappeared by security. The daughter later appeared in an interview on a local television station, saying she had run away, married and had a child. The BBC said it stood by the “integrity” of its reporters. The report appears to have prompted the prosecution statement saying its lawyers would take action against outlets that publish “false news” and “news and rumours that harm public safety.” Much of the domestic media is seen as generally pliant, and criticism of Sisi is rare.

The government has increased criticism of foreign media, which had been a frequent target of attacks by politicians over the years. It often accuses foreign journalists of biased coverage of the country, especially when it comes to human rights abuses.

Rights groups say he has led an unprecedented crackdown on political opponents, activists and critical media. Those challenging Sisi describe a sweeping effort to kill off their campaigns before they have begun, with media attacks on candidates, intimidation of supporters, and a nomination process stacked in favour of the former general.

Foreign relations

Egypt’s relations with Saudi Arabia have improved, while its relations with the USA have worsened—lately over issues of North Korean arms deals. The reelection of another Egyptian ‘strongman’ will be a significant step backward for the country, made harder to rectify after the fact if the constitution is amended.

After a brief dip in relations over disagreements regarding the Syrian war, Egypt and Saudi Arabia appear to have become closer. Both countries have exceedingly powerful one-man rule systems, with both leaders claiming the mantle of ‘reformer’ against a reform-resistant culture—though both are strengthening their grasp in terms of near-dictatorial powers.

The March 4-7 visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to Egypt is a clear sign of the improved relations. Egypt is supportive of Saudi Arabia’s 9-month long bitter dispute with fellow GCC member, Qatar, which has devolved into a stalemate with no winner.

Saudi Arabia has always been a crucial financial supporter of Egypt—and of Sisi in particular—after the coup that toppled the Muslim Brotherhood government of President al-Morsi and put Sisi in power. Riyadh’s deep opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood matches Sisi’s, and the two are determined to prevent the group from gaining influence in either country.

 

Saudi financial support for Egypt is more important now given the relative downturn in relations between Egypt and the USA. The issue between the two countries is not over human rights or freedom of the press. President Trump has expressed support for Sisi as a ‘strong leader’ and met with him at the White House in April 2017 and in Riyadh in May 2017.

Rather, the issue is Egypt’s illicit purchases of North Korean military hardware that runs afoul of international sanctions. In August 2017, the U.S. suspended $291 million in military aid to Egypt because of allegations by the USA and the United Nations that Egypt was allowing the North Korean embassy in Cairo to serve as a hub for illicit arms deals.

In 2016, a North Korean freighter was intercepted before it made port in Egypt and was found to be carrying 30,000 rocket-propelled grenades. As the U.S. increases pressure on North Korea over its nuclear weapons programs, it will look very negatively upon any actions that provide Pyongyang with monetary resources.

Egypt has had a long history of arms deals with North Korea, to which numerous US governments have routinely objected. The intense focus by the Trump government on the issue is a rare but important point of contention between Cairo and Washington.

Dictatorship

Dictator Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has removed all signs of democracy from the scene of Egypt. After enjoying power of President for a full term, now he is eager to resume power, “democratically” by elections, though for him the poll result would be a cake walk as no one thinks he would be defeated.

Yet, Sisi is keen to create an impression that Egypt is peaceful and people are happy with his misrule.

The expected push to remove term limits—combined with the regime’s absolute control over the national political dialogue and the military’s oversized role in the economy—would have provided the briefest of moments for opponents to organize and promote a future for Egypt that isn’t a return to its past. But that is not possible in Egypt.

There is, of course, opposition to Sisi and the return-of-the-pharaoh rule but it is scattered; the regime has been relentless against even the hint of credible opposition. The absence of unified and organized opposition makes it very unlikely that the expected constitutional changes will be thwarted.

That the regime is still so intent on squashing any reporting that might raise questions as to the country’s current and future paths, even in an election where there is no credible opposing candidate, indicates the goals of the regime are looking beyond the counting of the upcoming ballots.

As the Washington Post noted in a March 8 article, the election is not really about reelecting Sisi; it is about a ‘procedural hurdle to clear before the much more consequential effort of constitutional change.’

Rights activists say the authorities have become more restrictive in general, showing little tolerance for dissent.

 

Since the election of president Sisi is a foregone conclusion there is no need for speculative exercises here.

The fate if Egyptians cannot be any better after the poll.

Indian PM Modi for affordable solar technology!

Indian PM Modi for affordable solar technology!

-Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

______________

 

 

Even though pursuing a double policy of promoting Hindutva politics and allowing hate politics targeting Muslims, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is on perpetual world tour, also talks about useful issues.

PM Modi has expressed his desire to make solar energy affordable so that common people could adopt solar energy use.

French President Emmanuel Macron is in India in connection with the first summit of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) in New Delhi. ISA, headquartered in Gurgaon near New Delhi, is now a treaty-based inter-governmental organisation that was established following the Paris Declaration as an alliance dedicated to the promotion of solar energy among its member countries.

On his first visit to India after he assumed office in May 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron India and France inked, during just 11 minutes of their talks, total 14 pacts in the areas of railways, education and logistics support between the armed forces of the two nations. The leaders also assured to protect classified information, and discussed ways to enhance cooperation in civil nuclear power.

In this connection, speaking at the founding conference of the International Solar Alliance (ISA), Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented a 10-point action plan that includes making affordable solar technology available to all nations, raising the share of electricity generated from photovoltaic cells in the energy mix, framing regulations and standards, consultancy support for bankable solar projects and creating a network of centres for excellence.

Modi addressed the gathering first summit of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) held on Sunday and co-hosted by President Ram Nath Kovind and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron saw 23 heads of nations and 10 ministerial representatives in attendance. Modi said that the Vedas consider the Sun the soul of the world and a life nurturer. Today we need to look at this ancient idea to find a way to combat climate change. India will produce 175 gigawatts of electricity from renewable sources by 2022. Of this, 100 gigawatts will come from solar energy.

India has allowed France to use its airports for military purposes. Terms and conditions are not revealed. India’s greed or nuclear terror goods is well known.

Solar energy can have a variety of uses – agriculture, solar water pumps, clean cooking. The distribution of 28 crore LED bulbs in three years has saved $2 billion and four gigawatts of electricity. *The development of solar energy will not just lead to our prosperity, but will also reduce the carbon footprint of the earth. We must ensure that better and affordable solar technology is available to all. If we link other forms of energy to solar, the results will be even better. We need to encourage innovation in the solar energy sector to find different uses for it. For the good of humanity, we will have to move out of the personal and work as a family to achieve our aim”

PM Modi has also called for concessional and less-risky finances for raising the share of solar electricity in the energy mix and pledged to generate 175 gigawatts (GW) of electricity in India from renewable energy sources by 2022.

For achieving the ISA target of over 1,000 GW of solar generation capacity and mobilization of investment of over USD 1 trillion by 2030, Modi called for concessional financing and less-risky funds being made available for such projects.

India, PM Modiji said, will generated 175 GW of electricity from renewable sources including 100 GW from solar.

As a demonstration of India’s commitment to ISA, Modi said 500 training slots will be created for member countries and a solar technology mission will be started to lead R&D in the sector. ISA secretariat has to be strengthened and made professional, he said, adding that solar energy presents a permanent, affordable and reliable source for meeting energy needs of mankind.

To supplement solar energy generation, India has distributed 28 crore LED bulbs in the last three years which have helped save USD 2 billion and 4 GW of electricity, the prime minister said.

Going by his actions so far, like the black money and demonetization and GST – people of India gained nothing out of all this but the demonetization has harmed the people just like the GST move as they are burdened with more problems and expenditures. Modi considers Indian as being equals of Americans and they have to pay more as the impression goes.

The PM speaks of innovation in solar energy. But the government’s approach is anywhere but being innovative. When it comes to solar energy the government has a blinkered view of encouraging only photovoltaic and selling the country to China. Why is the government blind to CSP technologies which can be indigenized to a much greater extent and generate employment on a much larger scale?

All said and done, if solar energy is subsidized for the poor and common people that would benefit India in a great measure.

But will the USA, now a big strategic partner of India, allow subsidies to be given to the poor?

That is indeed the trillion dollar question.