Archive | May 31st, 2018

Deadlier Than Katrina and 9/11: Hurricane Maria Killed 4,645 in Puerto Rico, 70 Times Official Toll

NOVANEWS

Image result for Puerto Rico CARTOON

A stunning new study by researchers at Harvard has revealed the death toll in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria may be 70 times higher than the official count of 64. The new research, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, says the death toll is at least 4,645 — and perhaps as many as 5,740. President Trump has so far not responded to the new study. But in October, during a visit to Puerto Rico, Trump boasted about the low official death count. With a death toll of at least 4,645, Hurricane Maria would become the second-deadliest hurricane in US history — behind only the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 which killed as many as 12,000 people in Texas. The Harvard study found that “interruption of medical care was the primary cause of sustained high mortality rates in the months after the hurricane, a finding consistent with the widely reported disruption of health systems. Health care disruption is now a growing contributor to both morbidity and mortality in natural disasters.” For more we go to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where we speak with Omaya Sosa, co-founder of Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism, where she is a reporter. Her latest article is headlined, “Puerto Rico Government Did Not Prevent Most Hurricane María-Related Deaths.”

TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, Democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And I’m Juan González. Welcome to all of our listeners and viewers around the country and around the world. We begin today’s show in Puerto Rico. A stunning new report by researchers at Harvard has revealed the death toll from Hurricane Maria may be 70 times higher than the official count. The official death toll still stands at 64, but the new research says the death toll is at least 4,645, and perhaps as many as 5,740. The Harvard study was published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

AMY GOODMAN: President Trump has so far not responded to the new study. But in October, during a visit to Puerto Rico, Trump boasted about the low official death count.

PRES. TRUMP: Now, I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you have thrown our budget a little out of whack, because we have spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico. And that’s fine. We’ve saved a lot of lives. If you look at the — every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina and you look at the tremendous — hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here with really a storm that was just totally overbearing, nobody has seen anything like this. And what is your death count as of this moment? Seventeen?

GOV. RICARDO ROSSELLÓ: Sixteen certified.

PRES. TRUMP: Sixteen people certified. Sixteen people versus in the thousands. You can be very proud of all of your people — all of our people working together. Sixteen versus literally thousands of people.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: With a death toll of at least 4,645, Hurricane Maria would become the second deadliest hurricane in U.S. history, behind only the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, which killed as many as 12,000 people in Texas. The Harvard study surveyed almost 3,300 randomly selected Puerto Rican households and found mortality rates leaped 62 percent from September 20th through the end of 2017, compared with the prior year. Researchers counted not just deaths directly from storm injuries such as falling debris, but also those who died due to storm-related delays in medical treatment for injuries, infections, and chronic illnesses.

AMY GOODMAN: The survey found “interruption of medical care was the primary cause of sustained high mortality rates in the months after the hurricane, a finding consistent with the widely reported disruption of health systems. Health care disruption is now a growing contributor to both morbidity and mortality in natural disasters.”

Well, for more, we go to San Juan, Puerto Rico where we are joined by Omaya Sosa, co-founder of Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism, where she is a reporter. Her latest article is headlined, Puerto Rico Government Did Not Prevent Most Hurricane MarÌa-Related Deaths. Welcome back to Democracy Now!, Omaya. Can you start off by talking about the significance of this Harvard study? At the time it was said something like 60 people were dead. Now this number of between 4,600 and 5,700 people.

OMAYA SOSA: Good morning, Amy. Good morning, Juan. Thanks for having me here with you again. It is very important — it is significant because there is finally a prestigious institution saying what we have been saying for eight months. Everybody is shocked. We are not shocked. We have been saying that the numbers were much higher since the week after the hurricane in September. As early as the first week of December, we had already said that the first month, there was more than 1,000 casualties.

So I am really glad people are finally listening. Things are still really bad. As you said, last week we published a story about the situation in hospitals and healthcare facilities in Puerto Rico, and how they contributed to this high death toll. The situation is still bad in some places, the result of decades of neglect from the government to the healthcare system as a whole.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Omaya, I wanted to know if you could expand on that? Because first of all, the study only goes through December 31st of 2017. Clearly, there were many areas in Puerto Rico that did not even have electricity into January and February, so the study doesn’t even cover that area. But can you talk about what has happened to the healthcare system in Puerto Rico, especially the privatization efforts that occurred in the 1990s?

OMAYA SOSA: Well, Puerto Rico used to have a public healthcare system that, let’s say in the ’70s, was a model even to the world. By the ’90s, it had many problems but it still had a leveled let’s say comprehensive healthcare system, where you had primary healthcare facilities that were public, then you had secondary and tertiary. And they were all over the island in an ordered, organized system. And in the ’90s, because they were losing a lot of money — the government was losing a lot of money with the healthcare facilities and they had many other kinds of problems with supplies and so forth — they privatized most of the system, leaving only the San Juan hospitals mainly and some minor centers around the island.

So most of the hospitals in Puerto Rico are private now, and this hurricane struck in a moment where that was not reorganized, let’s say. The government had no control over the hospitals on the rest of the island, and when they started trying to see how they could order the system, they had really no way. They had no plan.

So besides this privatization thing, the government has also a responsibility over the private hospitals. They license these hospitals, they regulate these hospitals, and they are supposed to inspect these hospitals at least every two years. We found out that around 40 percent of the hospitals had not been inspected. We found places — it’s hospitals and healthcare facilities; it’s not only hospitals. So you have 70 hospitals as a whole. With minor facilities and elderly homes that are also considered healthcare facilities, it is 400.

We found out there were some of these places that were not inspected for eight years, let’s say. So there’s on one hand the privatization of facilities that left the government without any plan of where to channel the patients in this crisis, in this emergency, and then you have the situation that the private hospitals were not being inspected as they should be. We asked for all of these reports. No surprise, they did not give us access to the reports, so we don’t even know which ones they inspected, what these reports said. It is part of, as you’ve seen, a trend from this government to not give any information on this issue.

AMY GOODMAN: You are suing for the mortality data?

OMAYA SOSA: Yes, we are, actually. That was a big problem — the mortality data was one of the main problems we encountered when we started investigating this in September. It still is. The Harvard report mentions this. Not even they got the data after December. The government has not made public any data at all since December. And we have been suing the government since February for the complete set of the mortality data so we can know what happened after December in Puerto Rico.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And Omaya, why do you feel, from your investigation of this tragedy, that the government has maintained this clearly false death toll of at first 16, then 64, and even now, even though it has commissioned its own study, keeps delaying putting that study out of what the actual death toll was? Why do you think that is?

OMAYA SOSA: I think in the beginning, it just was a matter of looking good, that they were being effective in their response. Because they knew this was happening from week number two. It is negligence that they have not attended the situation with the seriousness it needs. They could have prevented many, many deaths. Because if from September, first week of October, you know what’s going on and you take charge of the situation, how many deaths could have been prevented? The data we have that goes until November only shows that deaths were still spiking in November. So many could have been prevented.

In the end, when nothing — they had no other choice — in December, data was so clear that mortality had spiked so much in their own data — the governor had to admit that their numbers were wrong and commissioned the study. But still, I don’t think there’s a real will to find out what is going on. We are already in the new hurricane season. We have no information. The study is still not ready — the one commissioned by the governor — and we cannot prepare for the next season.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to a clip of Jaime Plá, president of the Puerto Rico Hospital Association. The Association claims the Puerto Rican government never established a special protocol to handle deaths during Hurricane Maria.

JAIME PLÁ: All deaths are clinical. In other words, if they want to make a determination like after Hurricane Maria, the death count in Puerto Rico increased by 43 percent, and I make a correlation that I’m going to put that number into the Maria death toll statistics, fantastic. I don’t have a problem with that. But I need to be responsible. And from the hospital’s point of view, I can’t ask them to make a diagnostic determination that a death had to do with anything other than a clinical reason, because that is the way we’ve always worked. In terms of specific deaths, I believe if they want to justify a series of deaths, they have to implement a protocol of how this will be done, and they have to cite a legal justification to do that.

AMY GOODMAN: Omaya Sosa, if you can respond to Jaime Plá, the president of the Puerto Rico Hospital Association? He was speaking to your Center for Investigative Journalism.

OMAYA SOSA: I have to say he is actually right. There’s no — the governor and the government was the one that had to take charge of this and put out an executive order ordering the hospitals and the doctors to do this in a certain way, and they never did. They still haven’t fixed the protocol. They have admitted the protocol is just simply wrong and it is not working. And I have to repeat, I think there is a lack of interest from the government to really make this happen. It has been months.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And Omaya, in terms of the federal response in Washington to the hurricane, what is, from your sense, the level of aid that has actually reached Puerto Rico? Not what Congress votes or what President Trump says in a press conference, but of the aid that has actually reached the people of Puerto Rico in their efforts at recovery.

OMAYA SOSA: Too little, too late. We still have about 100,000 people here without electricity, and it has been eight months. I don’t think that would have happened in any of the states. I’m sorry, but it is unacceptable.

AMY GOODMAN: Overall, as we wrap up, Omaya, if you can describe the condition of Puerto Rico right now?

OMAYA SOSA: It is much better in terms of places with electricity and with the basic services, but it is still hanging on a thread. Many places lose electricity or lose water service weekly or biweekly, a couple of times each week. The situation — but that is just going to basics. When you go to the situation in general, it is far from getting back on its feet. A lot of unemployment. The streets are in very bad conditions. It is difficult just driving around San Juan and the island. Amy, you were here, so you saw the conditions, what the infrastructure is in. Everything is just, you know, hanging in there.

AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you very much for joining us. Omaya Sosa, co-founder of Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism. The latest report, Puerto Rico Government Did Not Prevent Most Hurricane MarÌa-Related Deaths.

Special thanks to WIPR public television in San Juan, which like many PBS stations around the country also plays Democracy Now! daily, where Omaya is broadcasting from today. And next Wednesday we will have a special on Puerto Rico. This is Democracy Now!. When we return, Glenn Greenwald joins us. Stay with us

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Wolf Country Gazette: Banality of Contemporary Evil Part 3

NOVANEWS

The Trump campaign and its principal looked, quacked, walked, painted it’s bill yellow, sang the Internationale like Donald Duck, and seemed to mate like ducks as well! The feds would have been derelict and probably drunk to miss the indicators that maybe there was something a bit off about the whole thing.

POTUS doing Fish Face imitation, AP Photo ; Carolyn Kaster: May 17, 2018
POTUS doing Fish Face imitation, AP Photo ; Carolyn Kaster: May 17, 2018

“The fact that America’s best values and ideas…contributed to its tailspin should give us more than just momentary pause. That others like him, in other times, could have said the same things about their own civilizations should be the starting point for a whole other conversation — the kind of conversation we’ll really need if we hope to avoid the worst of what history tells us may lie ahead. –Paul Rosenberg, America’s Tailspin and the Rise of Oligarchy, Salon, 5/27/2018

“IT’S TERRIBLE STEAK AND OVERPRICED AND I CAN’T BELIEVE I BELIEVED THE ADS!” ADMITS NO ONE.

Our only current president did not have a good week during the period May 20 through Memorial Day. He began the week bloviating about demanding that the Justice Department launch an investigation into the investigation of the Trump Campaign with the usual folderol about “Fake News!” and “No Collusion!” Rod Rosenstein, Deputy AG made an immediate and logical response, saying that if someone in the FBI or DOJ had done something awful, of course it should be investigated. He then referred it to the Departmental IG who is already investigating aspects of the Bureau’s and Departments efforts around the 2016 campaign.

This was all part of a concerted effort to create a conspiracy that the DOJ had planted a spy in the Trump campaign. At this point, it’s worth quoting Seth Meyers who asked, “Why would they need a spy to see what the campaign was doing? Trump told them on TV!” You know, if the famous “Hey Russia! If you’re listening…” request for Hillary’s missing emails wasn’t enough and the constant praise for Wikileaks didn’t make it sufficiently clear that there was something going on between Trump and his people and the Putin Kleptocracy and its minions, a spy wouldn’t have helped.

What we see in the activities of the Trump Campaign and it’s various Kremlin outreach types like Carter Paige, George Stephanopoulos and litany of “I want to be friends with Putin” is a pattern of conduct that looks a lot like probable cause. Think of probable cause this way — if a reasonable man might say it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and has webbed feet, it might be a duck. The Trump campaign and its principal looked, quacked, walked, painted it’s bill yellow, sang the Internationale like Donald Duck, and seemed to mate like ducks as well! The feds would have been derelict and probably drunk to miss the indicators that maybe there was something a bit off about the whole thing.

Now, if the Trump whine had been authentic, the use to the IG would have been fine; he would have said nothing much except the usual drivel.  But, Trump is looking for an acclimation of his innocence and virtue that will be satisfied only by a torchlight parade and crying maidens tossing flowers at his feet.However, the President had a meeting on Monday — his meeting seldom turn out well for him, his party, or the Nation — with Rosenstein, Christopher Ray the FBI Director, John Kelly and some other fools.

We know the outcome, which was odd — Kelly was supposed to facilitate a meeting between various Republican congressional types of the party leadership roles as well as Trump loyalists like Devon Nunes and Mark Meadows and Jim Jeffries. Louis Gomert appears to have been piqued that the wasn’t invited. Unfortunately, it turns out that the National Security Apparatus has been down this road before, and there are laws and regulations about this. So, the meeting with no one able to talk about it except the loyalists through the mirror of their alternative reality was trumped. As a result, there were two meetings, one of which Ryan dodged to go to a fundraiser, so Pelosi played a gambit and sent Adam Schiff in her place to hear the stuff intended only for Republicans. The second meeting was the traditional Gang of Eight meeting minus the Speaker who was by that stage eating Krispie Cremes and shaking hands with Tea Party Trumpers and Troglydtes somewhere in the midwest. The sum total Trump vindication — Mitch McConnell’s saying he looked forward to seeing the results of the Mueller  and DOJ IG’s investigations.

One other and not much commented on remark surfaced as Timothy L. O’Brien, a Trump biographer sued by Trump only to have the suit dropped when Trump lied almost breathlessly during a deposition, pointed out that Trump had been a FBI confidential informant while on The Beat With Ari Melber. O’Brien is the executive editor of Bloomberg Opinion and a frequent MSNBC guest as are a number of other Trump biographers. O’Brien sums up Trump expertly in his lead to an article on Trump’s lying in the Bloomberg. 

A decade ago, my lawyers questioned Trump under oath during a deposition in a libel case he filed against me for a biography I wrote, “TrumpNation.” Trump had to acknowledge 30 times during that deposition that he had lied over the years about a wide range of issues: his ownership stake in a large Manhattan real estate development; the cost of a membership to one of his golf clubs; the size of the Trump Organization; his wealth; the rate for his speaking appearances; how many condos he had sold; the debt he owed, and whether he borrowed money from his family to stave off personal bankruptcy. Trump also lied during the deposition about his business relationships with organized crime figures…

According to O’Brien’s reporting, Trump was a confidential informant for the FBI during his gambling days in Atlantic City. Since what I know about that period — all from open sources — indicates that something nefarious was going on because he was stomping all over his gaming license in football cleat with the extra long spikes. Mobsters, cocaine, failure to meet fiduciary requirements, mixing funds, money laundering, etc. would cost anyone without a “Rabbi” of some sort the license and the investment. So, yeah, Trump being a stool pigeon makes a lot of sense. 

Oh, well. This is just the way this grifter does business in general. Why shouldn’t we trust him when we know when he’s lying by checking to see if he’s breathing or not?

The Duffle Blog Photo, May 23, 2018

Then the Korean thing went sideways which no one really finds surprising. Kissinger and Nixon had more knowledge of international conditions and processes in their heads than all the clowns Trump has dragged into the National Security Council. They also were both notorious policy nerds, and would go into any meeting fully prepared. Trump, not so much. Kim is unknown on that front, but it’s reasonable to expect that he and his sister would be fully prepped.

Trump, on the other hand, would be arguing that he didn’t like kimchi or garlic. He might read a couple of Korean war vintage “SGT Fury and his Howling Commandos” comics, but that’s about it. Watch Pork Chop Hill and the Sinatra-Angela Lansbury-Lawrence Harvey Manchurian Candidate but probably not. Look at a couple of power point decks, and figure he would be ready.

One of the first rules gamblers seem to learn is not to spend the money before you win it. So, the minting of “Challenge Coins” for sale in the White House Gift Shop to commemorate the summit with North Korea was a great way to tempt fate; the on/off/maybe on/maybe off follow along period seemed as if the Gods of Statecraft were kind of playing whack a mole with Trump and his miscreants. Interesting that they keep playing along.

Now, the piece of this that I find most fascinating is how obvious it is and yet how little it’s commented on: There’s no real difference between the Trump Organization and the People’s Republic of North Korea from a business management point of view. They’re both family run businesses run for the benefit of the family and it’s closest sycophants. Should the enterprise go south, PRNK or Trump, the result for the family will be catastrophic.

So, to a certain extent, Trump and Kim Jung Un are the same guy, negotiating with each other across some incidental generational and cultural divides. However, the problem Trump faces is a bit different; he can’t just take rebellious minions or minions he perceives as rebellious out, have them tortured, savaged by wild dogs or executed by anti-aircraft guns. So, while he had total control in the Trump Org, in the US Government, he’s got all these people talking for him and they’re all trying to help.

Now, the first time I heard John Bolton talk about the Libya Strategy for Korea’s nuclear arsenal, I immediately thought of Gaddafi captured by the militia, beaten and then sodomized by someone with a bayonet which was a fatal experience to say the least. Now, if an international thug was going to meet Allah by having 9 inches of cold steel shoved up his butt and twisted, Gaddafi would be as good a choice as any.

But, announcing to the world that your overall strategy is to denuke North Korea to get to a Gaddafi-like state isn’t particularly helpful. Bolton has never struck me as seeing people at the end of his magic wand. It was just saying that this would be a way to ultimately achieve a series of changes in the PRNK. However, to North Korean leaders and apparatchiks, it meant that this was the way to get the Kim family and friends out of the way, by violence or not.

So, Kim pushed back hard through his surrogates; he also seemed to step back from denuclearization. Since we have no idea what he means by it, not too surprising. The VP decides for whatever reason to echo this Libya-option cant in an interview, and the North Koreans push back, saying that he’s ignorant and has no idea what he’s talking about. (They are probably right. Remember, no bills passed while in Congress.) While that’s probably true, it gave Trump the excuse to jump ship on the summit. And he did, with a somewhat odd letter, dangling the possibility of a rapprochement based on their personal chemistry. No wonder nobody ever bought a Trump steak and bragged about it. (“It’s terrible steak and overpriced and I can’t believe I believed the ads!” admits no one.)

What Trump didn’t get was that he’s operating as part of a system. He was the one starting the ball rolling with the decision to meet as soon as possible with Kim and like it or not, he’s leveraged in that by the North Koreans, the Chinese and his own party. Kim Jong Un knows that he can’t make his cadres too angry or the Army will run over his limo with tanks by accident. Trump didn’t get it.

Most thinking beings in the west were kind of happy that he cancelled /postponed this thing. Maybe in the meantime, he could learn the difference between pogooghi and bulgooghi.

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Transfer of the US Embassy to Jerusalem: Legal implications

NOVANEWS

The decision of President Donald Trump to implement the US Congress Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which transfers the United States Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, is in contradiction with the principles and policies of the United Nations. It also undermines the US Administration’s self-declared aim to broker lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

The facts are obvious. After the Arab-Israeli war of 1948/1949, Jerusalem was divided along armistice lines drawn between Israel and Jordan. West Jerusalem became part of Israel and East Jerusalem ruled by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. A small portion of the territory – in the area between the western and southern parts of the Walls of Jerusalem and Musrara – was left as no man’s land.

After the war of 1967, this territory and Arab Jerusalem east of the armistice line became occupied territory where the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 apply, prohibiting any alteration of the status of the territory seized by force.

Since the establishment of the State of Israel a number of embassies from Latin American countries, plus the Netherlands, were located in Israeli West Jerusalem. This changed after 30 July 1980 when the Israeli Knesset passed the Basic Law entitled ‘Jerusalem, Capital of Israel’. The law declares “Jerusalem, complete and united,” i.e. it includes Arab East Jerusalem with the site of Haram al-Sharif, as the capital of Israel. This legislative step was tantamount to annexation, a point made abundantly clear by subsequent Israeli governments. Accordingly, the Guidelines of the Government of Israel, 1996, headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, stipulated that “Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, is one city, whole and united, and will remain forever under Israel’s sovereignty.”

In view of these facts, President Trump’s decision may well be seen as creating a precedent in terms of recognising Israeli claims of sovereignty over Arab East Jerusalem. His formulation, “I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” points in that direction. He did not say ‘West Jerusalem’ (referring to the status quo ante before the 1967 seizure of the Arab part of the city), nor did he mention ‘East Jerusalem’ as capital of a future Arab State. Apart from this likely deliberate ambiguity, the caveat in the Trump’s solemn Proclamation of 6 December 2017 – “We are not taking a position on any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, in the resolution of contested borders” – is not consistent with the logic of the actual move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Under the Israeli Basic Law, the city, West and East, is one undivided territorial entity where Israeli law exclusively applies. As always in international realpolitik, what counts are the facts on the ground, not the words.

Exactly the above-mentioned fact – that West and East Jerusalem no longer be conceptually separated under effective Israeli control and legislation – was the reason why the UN Security Council insisted right after the Knesset decision of 1980 that all “States that have established diplomatic missions at Jerusalem” should withdraw their missions from the city, a formulation that also means West Jerusalem. (Resolution 478 [1980] of 15 November 1980, adopted by 14 votes to none, with the abstention of the United States.) As a result, the concerned countries relocated their embassies back to Tel Aviv.

In strictly legal terms, Israel has made any future negotiations about final status issues and delimitation of borders (mentioned in the US President’s Proclamation) almost impossible. This follows two Amendments of the Basic Law of 1980, providing that “no authority that is stipulated in the law of the State of Israel or of the Jerusalem Municipality may be transferred either permanently or for an allotted period of time to a foreign body” (Amendment 1), and that any future amendment to the Law requires a supermajority of 80 out of 120 votes in the Knesset in order to decide over rescinding sovereignty over any area of unified Jerusalem (Amendment 2). This means that any final status negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians over Jerusalem, hinted at by President Trump and the US State Department, have become a distant dream.

The UN Security Council has made the legal issues crystal clear. In resolution 476 (1980) of 30 June 1980, the Council reaffirmed the basic principle of international law that “acquisition of territory by force is inadmissible” and reiterated that all measures that alter the “geographic, demographic and historical character and the status of the Holy City if Jerusalem are null and void and must be rescinded” in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Council. In resolution 478 (1980) of 20 August 1980 the Council reiterated this position and further decided “not to recognize the ‘basic law’ and such other actions by Israel that, as a result of this law, seek to alter the character and status of Jerusalem”.

There is one basic problem, however. The above, and all other resolutions in matters of Israeli occupation or annexation, though mostly adopted by an overwhelming majority of member states (14 votes out of 15), lack any enforcement mechanisms. This is because – due to the threat of a US veto – they are not based on Chapter VII of the UN Charter. This has also been the case with the most comprehensive resolution so far, 2334 (2016) of 23 December 2016. Regarding the general legal framework of the Jerusalem dispute it must also be stated that the UN General Assembly’s ‘Partition Plan’ of 1947 – which provided for a special international status of Jerusalem as corpus separatum – is, in strictly legal terms, essentially a recommendation. This has further added to the ambiguity of debates over the status of the city.[1]

Concerning the actual relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem – on 14 May 2018, a date with huge symbolic importance, coinciding with the day when Israel declared independence 70 years ago, the basic issues in terms of international law can be summed up as follows:

  • In view of the Knesset Basic Law of 1980, effectively annexing Arab East Jerusalem and stipulating the municipality boundaries as one indivisible entity of West and East Jerusalem, by implication the US decision ignores one of the foundational principles of modern international law, namely the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force.
  • Consequently, the decision is at variance with relevant Security Council resolutions on Jerusalem, in particular 476 (1980) and 478 (1980), especially the latter resolution’s Paragraph 5(b). These resolutions are not based on Chapter VII, and thus without enforcement mechanisms, do not make the Israeli annexation legal. Nor does it make the move of a foreign embassy to a municipal area that Israel considers as undivided and under its permanent sovereignty (with occupied, now annexed, East Jerusalem as an integral part) a non-prejudicial administrative measure, as President Trump appears to suggest.
  • Furthermore, as regards the actual new location, the US Embassy – in the Arnona neighborhood of Jerusalem – is partly situated in the above-mentioned ‘No Man’s Land’ between the armistice lines of 1949, i.e. in technically occupied territory (which was not part of West Jerusalem under the pre-1967 borders).
  • In more general terms it must further be stated that, under modern international law as established after the two World Wars, claims of territorial sovereignty cannot be derived from religious sources or revelation, whether Jewish, Muslim or Christian. The issue of Jerusalem is undoubtedly also one of the protection of equal rights of the three monotheistic religions, but on the basis of the secular norms of human rights, in particular freedom of religion. This means that territorial issues can only be negotiated between the parties on the basis of generally recognised norms of international law, not by reference to religious claims of sovereignty – from whichever side.

The questions of international legality cannot be separated from those of politics and peace in a wider sense. By his unilateral decision (though in implementation of a Law of the US Congress), the President of the United States has not cut the Gordian knot of the Jerusalem conundrum, finally opening up new chances for a – so far elusive – ‘peace process’, as was suggested by some commentators. If anything, he has taken the US out of the Middle Eastern equation and has effectively relinquished the role of honest broker – or mediator – between Israelis and Palestinians. Should a hope of ‘peace by diktat’ have guided President Trump’s decision, it may ultimately be one of the numerous miscalculations of realpolitik in the long history of international relations.

[1] For further details see the author’s analysis, “The Evolution of the Palestine Problem and the Status of Jerusalem: Force of Law or Law of Force?” Force or Dialogue: Conflicting Paradigms of World Order. New Delhi: Manak, 2015, pp. 190-213.

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Saudi Zio-Wahhabi Coalition War of Attrition on Yemen refusing Political Settlement

NOVANEWS
Saudi Coalition War of Attrition on Yemen refusing Political Settlement

Jim W. Dean fears for the eventual fate of Yemen fighting against the huge Saudi coalition

Ansarullah slams KSA, UAE for financing Takfiris in Yemen

Things look bleak for the war of attrition on poor Yemen

[ Editor’s Note: The Saudi coalition against Yemen is following in the shoes of Israel, in that worldwide public opinion never influences anything the coalition wants to do militarily, as it sees no resistance.

The Saudi “paycheck” military has slogged along with its fighting-from-the-rear strategy, tending more and more to use mercenaries for the ground offensive in Yemen.

Some of its partner forces have Special Operations people on the ground with these mercenaries, but this is primarily to create some people within their own military that can be called combat veterans.

Neither the Saudis nor the Western countries supporting it can accept a defeat by the Yemenis. I do not mean the Yemenis would be able to destroy all the forces attacking it, but they can avoid defeat by preventing coalition military from forcing a political settlement the West wants.

To allow otherwise would be a humiliating defeat of The West on a scale unimaginable – that the poorest Arab nation in the Mid East could be capable of repelling the Empire. That is why, with a total air and sea blockade in effect, the Saudi coalition has had to hide its current failure on the Iran boogieman that is miraculously shipping war support to the Houthis.

No proof is ever offered as to how this could possibly be happening, with the massive battlefield surveillance at the disposal of the Saudi coalition. That also has not been a public relations problem for the attacking forces, as Western media has given them a free ride by accepting at face value any claims the Saudi coalition makes … Jim W. Dean ]

The leader of Yemen’s Ansarullah movement says Saudi Arabia and the UAE are puppets of the US, Israel and Britain, which hatch plots in the strife-torn country. Abdul Malik al-Houthi said the US and Israel support Saudi Arabia in its war on Yemen.– First aired … May 27, 2018 –

He accused Riyadh and Abu Dhabi of financing Takfiri groups in Yemen. Houthi stressed that the aggressors seek to take away Yemen’s freedom and independence.

Describing unity among Yemeni people as vital, the Ansarullah leader said it is the legitimate right of his people to defend their land.

Posted in Saudi Arabia, YemenComments Off on Saudi Zio-Wahhabi Coalition War of Attrition on Yemen refusing Political Settlement

Talpiot Program: Database Terrorism for the Nazi regime World Domination

NOVANEWS

Image result for Nazi regime CARTOON

Unit 8200, the NSA is a joke in comparison

The Mueller investigation has turned from Russia to Israel.  Russia can’t run “troll farms,” nobody speaks English, while in Israel, for decades, US aid has financed troll farms that dominate Wikipedia and Facebook and fill comment boards around the world with smears and insults.

Their targets?  Elon Musk who won’t turn his company over to them, George Soros, the world’s primary anti-Zionist who is continually smeared by IDF Unit 8200 as a “Zionist Jew,” a message picked up and traveled across the sewer of the internet by the same assholes that believed Pizzagate and Jade Helm.

They not only gave you Trump, they gave you “W” as well, watch both videos, to the extent your attention span allows, and see why the US military is totally castrated.

See why Putin kisses Benny’s ass.

Learn why the US is now forced to go analog or surrender.

The story of the massive Israeli run cybercrime business model, make the virus, offer the cure and kill the patient.  This is the story of Google’s war on VT and their network of Jigsaw and IdeaGroup organizations and the very real threat of world dominance by a criminal sub-elite.

How Israel backdoored everything:

 

Posted in ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Talpiot Program: Database Terrorism for the Nazi regime World Domination

The Headless Snake

NOVANEWS

The Headless Snake outlines the transition of the military with improvements in staffing and our place among nations of the world coexisting in peace.

by Harry Wagner

If you cut the head off of the snake, the snake dies. That was the opening statement of a briefing I attended in Vietnam 1966.

In short, the American strategy for victory in Vietnam was to kill the leaders and anyone who happened to be in the path of the leaders, whether they were soldiers or civilians, government officials or innocent women and children.

Through my work with the Embassy, IFFV General Staff, Psychological Operations, and Phoenix, I developed a strategy that was counter to what the military was doing, but successful in situations involving civilian populations; Persuasion with Relevance as developed in Peace Team Forward.

The Headless Snake is my firsthand account of Vietnam 1966-1968, not through the eyes of a bureaucrat or soldier, but someone who made a difference then, and can transition our military to make a difference now. The US military is representing every American in each deployment outside of our country.

Are you satisfied with how the world sees you? I’m not, and I have a strategic plan that was tested successfully in Vietnam and is even more applicable today. The Headless Snake is a unique combination of Vietnam War history and practical theory for a country desperately in need for change.

Posted in USAComments Off on The Headless Snake

How Humanitarian Organizations Supply Intel from Syria to US Intelligence Agencies

NOVANEWS

...by Firas Samuri, for Veterans Today
 
There is overwhelming evidence of the U.S. intervention in the Syrian crisis, which the mainstream media has repeatedly reported about. Today I would like to publish exclusive materials, evidencing the White House sent its agents under the guise of humanitarian organizations to the Syrian Arab Republic.
As an anonymous representative of the Kurdish administration said, a number of humanitarian organizations including the Center for the Humanitarian Dialogue and International Crisis Group are among such agencies.
Let’s study the case and have a look at this organization in detail. The Center for the Humanitarian Dialogue, also known as the , is an independent non-governmental organization based in Geneva, Switzerland.

The aim of the organization is to ensure world stability and facilitate direct dialogue among the leadership of the warring parties. Currently, the organization is involved in more than 40 dialogue and mediation initiatives in over 25 countries (Eastern Africa, Middle East, and South-Eastern Asia).

At first glance, there is nothing suspicious. The civil war has been going for more than seven years in Syria. Thousands of people continue to die, urban infrastructure is being destroyed, in the remote regions of the country locals suffer from the lack of food and water supplies. The presence of various humanitarian organizations is quite logical and sometimes even vital. However, the activity of the Center for the Humanitarian Dialogue aroused suspicions of my source.


According to open information, the official representative of the organization in Syria since 2017 is Patrick Haenni, specialized in the  Middle East and Northern Africa. Previously he worked in Ukraine, Libya, Iraq, and Philippines as an external adviser to the UN on the resolution of religious and ethnic conflicts.

Since his arrival in Syria, he has held a number of meetings with high-ranking representatives of the Iraqi Kurdistan as well as the leaders of ethnic diasporas. According to him, within these talks, he had explored the possibility of establishing a direct dialogue between the Kurds and the Syrian government. Notably, while communicating with the locals, Haenni openly declared that he worked upon the direct instructions of the UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura. However, I have been unable to find neither information nor proofs confirming his contacts with de Mistura.

In addition, my source told me that during the negotiations Haenni had collected information regarding the strengths of the Syrian army, and personal data of the Russian and Iranian military advisers in Al-Hasakah province. In the meantime, the ‘activist’ examined Moscow’s and Tehran’s ties with the Kurdish administration and militias, including YPG.
Why did the employee of the humanitarian organization need this information? It looks a little bit strange. Maybe it was a customary interest, or he just wanted to get some new contacts. Let’s analyze the activity of another humanitarian organization operating in Syria and try to reveal a certain pattern.
In similar activity in Al-Hasakah province was involved another international humanitarian organization such as International Crisis Group.

The founder of this organization is the well-known George Soros, whose funds and non-profit organizations on numerous occasions were implicated in organizing a coup d’état throughout the world. The American billionaire contributed to creating the White Helmets, whose members are famous for its staged videos from opposition-held areas. In fake videos, ‘human rights activists’ try to convince the world community of Assad’s brutality against his own nation. However, the activity of the White Helmets has repeatedly been exposed.
Nowadays International Crisis Group has affiliates in more than 30 countries (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Ukraine). The organization is also being funded by the governments of the U.S., Great Britain, and Germany. According to the information from their website, the group is working to prevent wars and shape policies that will build a more peaceful world. But what is the actual goal of the organization in Syria?
My source goes on saying that a group of specialists headed by the Middle East and North Africa program director, Joost Hiltermann, Noah Bonsey, and Maria Fantappie arrived in Syria from Iraq in March 2017.

While in Syria, all of them started to actively recruit the representatives of the local authorities and military leadership, offering to visit the office of the organization and join its ranks for a ‘certain award’.
Moreover, the representatives of the International Crisis Group tried to find out the information about the deployment and the movements of the Iranian servicemen and Hezbollah units in Al-Hasakah, looking for an opportunity to contact them.
It has big names, righteous aims, many years of experience in war zones, open interest in helping the Syrians, but something isn’t right about this. Despite rich experience and numerous overseas trips, all these people reached poor results in restoration of peace and stability in various parts of the world. Furthermore in this case, the ‘activists’ made no efforts to contact the official Syrian government in Damascus, concentrating on separate ethnic groups, calling them for illegal actions against its nation.
Most likely, these people are not what they say, and accomplish other tasks. Consequently, it is possible to say with certainty that the staff of these NGOs had a similar mission namely to intelligence gathering and recruitment of the locals.
Thus, I tried to show you yet another way how the U.S. Administration under the guise of good intentions and humanitarian organizations wreaks havoc and interferes in the Syrian crisis that has long been developing not in its favor.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on How Humanitarian Organizations Supply Intel from Syria to US Intelligence Agencies

Death and Destruction In the Wake of the “Liberation” of Mosul

NOVANEWS

It is worth recalling the history of the initial incursion of ISIS forces (Summer 2014) and the timeline extending from the occupation of Mosul in Summer of 2014 which was covertly supported by the US, to the “Liberation” of Mosul three years later which was also supported by the US and its allies.

We’re dealing with a diabolical military and intelligence agenda. 

Moreover, it was only once the ISIS had captured Mosul and was firmly entrenched inside Iraq, that the US and its allies initiated two months later its  “counter-terrorism” operation, allegedly against the ISIS. 

With the so-called “Liberation” of Iraq (June-July 2017), it is important to reflect on Washington’s diabolical project.

The ISIS, a construct of US intelligence  was dispatched to Iraq in Summer 2014. With limited paramilitary capabilities it occupied Mosul.

What would have been required from a military standpoint to wipe out the ISIS Daesh convoy with no effective anti-aircraft capabilities?

If they had wanted to eliminate the Islamic State brigades, they could have “carpet” bombed their convoys of Toyota pickup trucks when they crossed the desert from Syria into Iraq in June. 

The answer is pretty obvious, yet not a single mainstream media has acknowledged it.

The  Syro-Arabian Desert is open territory (see map right). With state of the art jet fighter aircraft (F15, F22 Raptor, F16) it would have been  –from a military standpoint–  ”a piece of cake”, a rapid and expedient surgical operation, which would have decimated the Islamic State convoys in a matter of hours.

Iraqi forces were coopted by the US to let it happen. The Iraqi military commanders were manipulated and paid off, They allowed the city to fall into the hands of the ISIS rebels without “a single shot being fired”. 

Shiite General Mehdi Sabih al-Gharawi who was in charge of the Mosul Army divisions “had left the city”. Al Gharawi had worked hand in glove with the US military. He took over the command of Mosul in September 2011, from US Col Scott McKean. 

Had he been co-opted, instructed by his US counterparts to abandon his command?

Then in August 2014, Obama launched a so-called “counter-terrorism operation” against the ISIS, namely against terrorists who were supported and financed by the US, UK, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel.

Three years of extensive bombings under a fake counter-terrorism mandate. 

America’s ultimate intent was to destroy, destabilize and fracture Iraq as a nation State.  That objective has largely been achieved. 

The “Liberation” of Mosul constitutes an extensive crime against humanity consisting in actively supporting the ISIS terrorists occupation of Mosul, and then waging an extensive bombing campaign to “liberate” the city.  

Posted in IraqComments Off on Death and Destruction In the Wake of the “Liberation” of Mosul

Onward Migration: Why Do North Korean Migrants Leave South Korea?

NOVANEWS
BY 

“Houses of Parliament,” a series of oil paintings by Claude Monet (the one shown here is “Trouée de soleil dans le brouillard” or “Sunlight in the fog”), gives an impression of London in the distance. The UK, a preferred destination for many North Korean migrants, is also quite distant for those in Northeast Asia. | Image: Wikicommons

For North Koreans considering a new life in South Korea, there are two basic and competing narratives: South Korea is the land of milk and honey, or it is a place of capitalist exploitation and class-based inequality (Sino-NK has studied discourse on the latter). Neither is completely true, but there are kernels of truth in both narratives.

On the one hand, as a developing body of literature indicates, many North Korean migrants are successfully integrating into South Korea’s democratic society. However, not all of them integrate. Many seek onward migration and secondary asylum after arrival to South Korea. This phenomenon may seem puzzling at first, but the decision to forgo resettlement in South Korea has a clear rationale. Their decision to exit, or vote with their feet, underscores the very real struggle many North Korean migrants face. Reflecting upon several years worth of fieldwork in the United Kingdom, where many migrants chose to migrate, Dr. Jay Song (University of Melbourne) shares what she learned about North Korean migrants who leave South Korea. — Steven Denney, Senior Editor

Onward Migration: Why Do North Korean Migrants Leave South Korea?

Youth Day dancing in DPR of Korea with Young Pioneer Tours.

Posted by DPR of Korea is beautiful and the Juche idea is scientific theory on Thursday, May 31, 2018

by Jay Song

Why do North Koreans leave South Korea? After all the difficulties endured in escaping political repression and hunger in North Korea, making their way through China, Thailand and Laos, and then re-settling in a country which provides relatively substantial resettlement support, they still chose to move onward. The number of North Korean secondary asylum seekers from South Korea has grown markedly in the last decade. Among top destinations, over a thousand applications for refugee status were submitted in the United Kingdom (UK) between 2000 and 2015 (see figure below). Starting in 2011, I conducted 6 years-worth of semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions, and participatory observation of North Koreans in the UK in order to understand the motivations and methods of their journeys from South Korea. The findings from this study were recently published in Migration Studies.What I found was both saddening and surprising, as well as somewhat shameful as a South Korean researcher. Many North Koreans describe a glass ceiling in South Korea for Koreans born in the DPRK: discrimination based on their place of origin and lack of market-ready talent. My co-author, Markus Bell, has long seen social mobility for resettled North Korean migrants as limited in South Korea. These challenges were sufficient to motivation North Koreans to seek secondary asylum in a country where they cannot speak their native language freely. They sought opportunities for improved living, welfare, and educational conditions for their children in the UK. These are the push and pull factors that explain the transnational movement of North Koreans.

DPR of Korea song: 60 Years of Victory

Posted by DPR of Korea is beautiful and the Juche idea is scientific theory on Friday, June 1, 2018

What’s more, I found that brokers play a crucial role in this onward migration process. After many years of trust-building, I managed to get access to them and their largely untold stories on how they recruited prospective asylum seekers wanting to resettle in the UK. They were not part of criminal gangs but ordinary people with dense social networks. They are intelligent, adventurous, and responsive to complex environments. They fed information through personal and professional networks and recruited North Koreans who were looking for better opportunities elsewhere, as equally adventurous and intelligent as the brokers themselves.

Laypeople, and many well-informed academics, tend to see North Koreans as helpless victims of Asiatic dictators in need of saviors. This is an unfortunate stereotype. Refugees are highly intelligent human beings with full agency to employ their multiple identities and to exercise their mobility whenever and wherever they can. North Koreans I met in the UK were indeed not poor in South Korea. They were better off than average North Koreans. They were subjectively happier (the suicide rate among North Koreans in South Korea is 3-4 times higher than the national average) and more entrepreneurial (unemployment and lack of employable skillsets are barriers for many North Koreans). They were well-connected, well-funded, and sufficiently educated. These traits enabled them to travel all the way to the UK to claim refugee status. They are true survivors. Ironically many who tell their story — academics and non-academics alike — do not like tales of survival. They prefer the story of North Koreans as poor and helpless victims.

 

Posted by DPR of Korea is beautiful and the Juche idea is scientific theory on Thursday, May 31, 2018

North Korean life in the UK, however, comes with its own set of challenges. Language is an obvious obstacle for those newly arrived, but the second generation of resettled North Korean migrants pick up English very quickly. Some speak with perfect British accents. There are also co-ethnic or ideological frictions among North Korean themselves, with the Korean-Chinese, and with native-born South Koreans. The friction between North Koreans and the Korean-Chinese is especially high as they both compete for work with South Korean employers. More substantively, many North Koreans favor socialist systems over free-market capitalism. (With its greater social protections and market regulations, the UK is seen as a preferential destination, a few told me.) Lastly, maintaining a Korean identity was a concern for some North Korean parents whose children were born in South Korea, but raised in the UK.

It’s been a fascinating journey for myself as a researcher to see how my fellow Koreans from the North have survived beyond the Korean peninsula. Going forward, I intend to compare North Korean diaspora communities in the UK, Canada, and Australia, to see how their motivations and modes differ.

Posted in North Korea, South KoreaComments Off on Onward Migration: Why Do North Korean Migrants Leave South Korea?

Symbol and Substance: China’s Scramble for Influence in the Korean Peace Process

NOVANEWS
BY 

Xi Jinping and Kim Jong-un during the first of their meetings, in Beijing in late March. | Image: Xinhua News Agency

China’s cooperation in increasing international pressure on North Korea during 2017 served to accelerate declining relations between the two states. Now, with potential peace ostensibly looming, China is seeking to reverse course. A burst of diplomacy has Beijing scrambling to pick up the pieces and reclaim influence it feels it lost, all while Kim fitfully courts Washington. Pyongyang won’t easily play ball with Beijing. Tom Fowdy looks at the Chinese angle.– Christopher Green, Senior Editor.

Symbol and Substance: China’s Scramble for Influence in the Korean Peace Process

by Tom Fowdy

It is an alliance which exists more in symbolism than substance. The Sino-Korean Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation (中朝友好合作互助条约), the long-standing agreement between China and North Korea, today bears little relation to the geo-political realities between the two countries. As a potential peace regime finally seems possible in the region, the sudden increase in high level interactions between both sides of the Chinese-North Korean relationship should not be mistaken as compensation for the long-term deficiencies. China appears to be awakening to the reality that it may lose significant influence over the Kim Jong-un regime at a crucial time.

Maximum Pressure on Zhongnanhai | A year ago, a key component of Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy against North Korea was to engage China’s cooperation in sanctions enforcement to bring Kim Jong-un’s regime to the negotiating table. Beijing, Pyongyang’s biggest economic partner, had long been perceived to take a liberal approach to sanctions implementation, fearful of the political ramifications of such. As tensions escalated, the North Korean state media complained, and there was a noticeable shift in Beijing’s public attitude. China’s compliance in the growing number of resolutions was largely robust, with trade between the two countries plummeting dramatically in 2018 due to tough enforcement measures. However, in Spring 2018 as the surprise announcement of a Kim-Trump summit emerged, just days later Kim Jong-un appeared in Beijing to meet the Communist Party leader himself. Beijing has scrambled to pick up the pieces with Pyongyang and secure its own influence, anxious of an arrangement that could compromise its own security. The momentum has been placed in Pyongyang’s court.

Long before “maximum pressure” and serious sanctions enforcement begun, China-DPRK relations were already strained. Kim Jong-un sought to carefully wrestle himself away from Beijing’s political influence and make distance with his neighbour, even as economic ties with the PRC expanded. For five years since both took office, Kim and Xi had not met and instead, the latter focused on building ties with the South Korean leadership. The execution of Kim’s uncle, Jang sung-taek, a figure with close ties to China, was largely perceived as an anti-China move. Increasing nuclear and missile testing, significantly the crisis of 2013, also accelerated the further deterioration of official ties. Despite the growing high-level coldness, China’s approach nevertheless remained cautious to its neighbour whilst mutual economic ties on the grassroots continued to grow between the two countries. For all China consistently found North Korea’s path unacceptable, the fundamental goals of maintaining the survival of the regime and concurrently, regional stability led to an indifference than serious action. Zhongnanhai ultimately opted for moderating dialogue above coercion as the answer. Thus, from 2013 to 2015, economic ties and trade between the two countries continued to grow.

However, in 2017, the initiation of the Trump administration changed China’s calculus. As Trump vowed to denuclearize Pyongyang, be it by force if necessary, Beijing feared a potential conflict on the Korean peninsula, as well as broader moves by the administration placing unilateral measures on Chinese institutions; the Bank of Dandong having been designated by the U.S treasury in 2017. Trump’s bellicose rhetoric, combined with his individual level charm offensive towards Xi, ultimately steered China’s interests towards tougher compliance. Although it wanted neither, the consequences of military action may have proven worse than regime collapse. Xi decided to stringently cooperate, initiating a series of high profile stunts to signal this shift, including rejecting coal shipments from the North early in the year, then as things worsened, publicly banning the sale of petroleum products by September. In the face of American criticism, China’s diplomatic rhetoric outwardly expressed enthusiasm for United Nations sanctions measures, even if inwardly it sought to water them down. Eventually, China’s cooperation in the process would later be praised by Trump.

Despite having sincerely cooperated with UN measures, China’s compliance has come with a diplomatic cost, that is potentially losing influence in any peace and denuclearisation arrangement. Combined with Kim’s attempts to shun China, the overwhelming dominance of Trump in “maximum pressure” served only to shift diplomatic momentum away from Beijing and set the narratives around an exclusive “Pyongyang-Washington” issue, something which Kim Jong-un ultimately wanted to achieve. Despite its cooperation in sanctions implementation, Beijing found itself increasingly distant from the wider diplomatic picture surrounding the DPRK. Although it aligned with Russia in presenting a “freeze for freeze” proposal to de-escalate the crisis, the proposal was dismissed, not just by Washington, but Pyongyang too.

The Cost of Cooperation | With the diplomatic process now underway and the upcoming Kim-Trump summit looming on the horizon, the shift in diplomatic gravity has led Beijing to fear it is irrelevant to the changing context. Pyongyang seeks to take full advantage of this. Having always desired North Korea as a stable “buffer” periphery, the Chinese Communist Party fears, as unlikely as it may be, that North Korea could strike a deal with Washington that allows Pyongyang to hedge against China and cooperate with the U.S security umbrella in Asia, a move detrimental to Beijing’s national security and regional ambitions. China has accordingly responded by initiating a surge in fast diplomacy between the two countries. This includes Kim Jong-un’s surprise visit to Beijing, the state liason department delegation’s visit to Pyongyang, the visit of Wang Yi and Kim’s second meeting with Xi in Dalian. Throughout this process, China likely sought to reassert its own interests and influence in the matter, prompting Pyongyang to ensure that the U.S military presence in South Korea will ultimately be reduced as part of any deal, something which Pyongyang had notably left out of its demands.

North Korea, however, will not accede to Xi’s requests for nothing. It will inevitably demand sanctions concessions and other incentives to acquiesce to China’s requests. Although it is far too early to draw broad inferences, there are some telling signs already as cross-border trade has begun to pick up again between the two countries, as well as the reported return of DPRK workers to China and the resumption of oil-product sales (North Korean fuel prices also dropped suddenly and sharply throughout April). It is also noteworthy that despite North Korea’s ongoing rhetoric concerning the “Ningbo 12” workers who defected in 2016, it has been careful not to make China a part of this propaganda, underlying their economic importance.

Further analysis ought to be focused on how the resetting of ties between the two countries over the coming months influences the economic relationship. The sale of commodities such as coal will certainly be an area to watch, however, as the Lowy Institute observes it can be easy to oversimplify given events, such as China’s rejection of coal imports in 2017, as signals of geopolitical content/discontent, at the expense of how issues on the ground such as poor infrastructure, low profits and dissatisfaction amongst Chinese businesses may impact decision making. Whilst reclaiming and maintaining economic influence over North Korea will remain a crucial goal for Beijing as the peace process takes shape, the parameters of what form it will take are constantly in flux. Ultimately, Beijing prefers economic ties to be a bilateral process of give and take, than a convenient one-way profit margin for Pyongyang.

The Fear of Being Ignored: Conclusion | Beijing ultimately fears it may be the biggest loser from the North Korean crisis. In the bigger picture, the long deterioration of ties between Beijing and Pyongyang was beneficial to Kim Jong-un as he sought to attain equal footing with Washington in negotiations, something he has now achieved. Beijing’s cooperation in “maximum pressure” was sincere, but it was ultimately too little and too late as it failed to act firmly on years’ worth of previous provocations. Now, it has to do all it can to avoid an unfavourable outcome for itself and is, consequentially, scrambling to rebuild relations with its neighbour, which cannot come without a price. In this sense, whilst Kim tactfully has avoided becoming a part of China’s periphery and is forcing their hand accordingly, it may yet be a foreign policy victory for the Trump administration in partially wooing a state away from China’s influence.

Posted in China, North KoreaComments Off on Symbol and Substance: China’s Scramble for Influence in the Korean Peace Process


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