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Questions Of The Day (Politics)
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Mick Harper
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In: London
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Am I missing something? Bloke gets coronavirus, is admitted to hospital as a precaution. World shudders to a halt. It will, I agree, give his election campaign a boost, a few days without gaffes.
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Mick Harper
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He's not out of the woods yet

We must all pray.
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Mick Harper
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Did You Know? (No 1448)

That Nagorno -Kabarakh used to be in the British Empire?
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Mick Harper
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Did You Know? (No 1449)

And that it's all Britain's fault?
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Mick Harper
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Nagorny-Karabakh for British Beginners (Part One)

Britain occupied Nagorny-Karabakh during its intervention (on the side of the Whites) in the Russian Civil War but when the Reds won, Stalin (as a Georgian he’d been put in charge of Transcaucasian Affairs) needed to get Turkey onside to prevent continuing British interference. So to curry favour with them he ripped N-K from Armenia (who the Turks had lately been genociding) and gave it to Azerbaijan (Turkic Muslims). Since the Soviet Union treated both indifferently as part of its empire it made little difference to anyone.

When the Soviet Union collapsed those bits that had for administrative convenience been made Soviet Socialist Republics (e.g. Armenia and Azerbaijan) got independence but other bits (eg Chechnya and a corner of Turkic N-K along the Turkish/Iranian border) did not. But now this strip of N-K was separated from Russia by the newly independent Armenia and Azerbaijan, the post-Soviet Russkies rather unusually gave this bit up -- to Azerbaijan. Not because it was Turkic but because it was sort of part of N-K. Thus when Armenia occupied N-K it did not occupy this bit (who wants a bunch of Turks?) so now this bit of Azerbaijan was separated from Azerbaijan proper.

Now read on...
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Hatty
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Would a map help?

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Mick Harper
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Yes, though perhaps not this one. But it's a doofer.
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Hatty
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This political map is better for broad picture purposes perhaps?

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Mick Harper
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To qualify to be a Soviet Socialist Republic you had to have a border with the outside world, something that ruled out Chechnya. To much future grief. 'Russia' was just another Soviet Socialist Republic, on a par with Armenia theoretically. Now (sob) all on its own. I am puzzled by the Nakhichavan Autonomous Soviet Republic having an arrow to Azerbaijan. I had assumed 'Autonomous' meant direct rule from Moscow. You may have to disregard some of my above.

Coupla world records on the map: Grozny is as far as Hitler got. Baku was once the oil capital of the world. This may turn out to be the Balkans of our times.
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Mick Harper
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Fast forward to the break-up of the Soviet Union and the cretinous 'world community' recognising all the new states' borders even though they bore little resemblance to what the states or the people thought their borders ought to be. Especially the one and half million Armenians who found themselves citizens of a country called 'Azerbaijan'. Until a country called 'Armenia' came along and incorporated them into Armenia.

This riled the 'world community' who have a saying, "Aggression must not be seen to be rewarded" and kept passing resolutions at various talking-shops that Armenia must leave 'Azerbaijani territory' and begin talking to Azerbaijan about a permanent border. "Why would they ever do that," the Armenians said, "they got everything they wanted, and more." But then Armenia further blotted its copybook by starting to occupy territory where Azerbaijanis lived. Why did they do that? "Because they could, dummy, don't you know anything about foreign relations." Fair do's, but why the hell were they able to? "Because Armenians like a good fight whereas Azerbaijanis are a bunch of wusses."
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Mick Harper
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Fast forward a coupla decades and Azerbaijan is a super-rich oil state that can afford mercenaries and drones while Armenia is a church-mouse state living off mountain scraps though still up for one. Time for Round Two. Started by whom? Well, Armenia has got everything it wants and more whereas Azerbaijan has now lost twenty per cent of the territory God and Stalin gave them, so have a guess.

But that's not what started it. Armenia was a Russian client until 2018 when the people, fed up with living like church mice, voted in a government that started making noises about looking westwards towards the EU, NATO and other non-approved acronyms. So Russia had a quiet word with Azerbaijan and I will have a quiet word with you about the New Balkanism. Though neither of us are completely reliable so need careful watching.
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Mick Harper
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The key to the New Balkanism is to appreciate that not only has America given up on being World Policeman, it still thinks it hasn't. It thinks it can choose. But the whole point about the police is that they can't choose. If they do it will only mean the crooks will be able to choose. Two of the chief crooks -- Turkey and Russia -- have formed a conspiracy and since conspiracies have to be deathlessly secret, I had better tell you all about it. It's too much of a strain being one of a three-man troika consisting of Putin, Erdogan and Harper. So there's no point now in sending a hitman, Mr Erdopute.

1. Russia and Turkey have always been mortal enemies.
2. Until the Turks shot down a Russian Mig over Syria -- or rather over Turkey since for the hundredth time Russian Migs had been treating southern Turkish airspace as an extension of Syria (and where the Americans have one of their biggest overseas airbases and technically, according to NATO doctrine, these invasions of one NATO ally should have required all NATO countries to declare war on Russia).
3. On the point of war the two mortal enemies had a bright idea: let's not be.
4. Since they had always been mortal enemies they realised that their chief mutual advantage over everybody else was that everybody else would be planning on the assumption they were, so best not to mention they weren't.
5. The first fruit of this démarche was an agreement that Turkey would be given a strip of northern Syria to police while Russia got on with re-Assading Syria.
6. The Americans were nonplussed. They could not protest at a NATO ally taking care of a vexatious bit of Syria. Nor could they protest because their chief anti-Assad hirelings, the Kurds, were now finished as a major player in Syria. In fact it meant America was finished as a major player in Syria because when the Russians and the Turks played out mock battles all along northern Syria (including in Idlib) the Americans could either support Turkey (thereby de facto helping Russia) or not support Turkey (thereby de jure helping Russia). The Americans were thoroughly baffled. It is not difficult baffling Americans, and they retreated to Iraq.
7. The new Secret Alliance now turned their attention to Libya.
8. Now read on. Hello-o-o, are you still there? And why am I still here? Yes, that's a puzzle.
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Ishmael


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Yes. I'm here. And that's why.
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Mick Harper
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In America's continuing absence, there are two sides in this neck of the world's woods. On one side are what could be called 'the religious fruitcakes' -- Saudi Arabia, Israel, the UAE and Egypt -- and on the other side what could be called 'the religious fruitcakes' -- Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. The current battlegrounds are a) Iraq b) Libya c) Yemen d) Qatar and e) eastern Mediterranean oil rights.

The external players who wish to fish in these troubled waters are 1) Russia and 2) Turkey. The external players sighing for the good old days are 3) the USA and 4) the EU. [Just in passing I should mention that 5) the UK, who created this mess during and after the First World and revived it all again with Cameron's dive-bombing of Gaddaffi a hundred years later, are nowhere to be seen. For which, much thanks.]

Now read on. Ishmael. Everybody else seems to be in AEL lockdown.
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Mick Harper
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Turkey and Russia have stumbled on a new foreign policy idea: in today's world it is better not to solve problems. As the Great Powers are constantly discovering, putting your own candidate into power is the start of your problems, not the end of them. Not to mention the revolting masses finding out the same thing.

Take Libya. Everyone was (at last) getting on with Gadaffi. Then a revolt broke out. Because it was in the name of democracy (God save the world from democracy) all the goody two-shoes lined up to support it -- ignoring the fact that it was one bunch of tribes rising up against Gadaffi's tribes. As soon as Gadaffi was on the point of putting down the revolt, Britain and France intervened, the rebels won and Libya descended into chaos. Well done, Britain and France (who got absolutely nothing out of it).

Another bunch of tribes rose up in revolt against the last lot of tribes and just as they were on the point of winning two things happened: 1) the Russian mercenaries powering the rebels all went on strike and 2) the Turks started bombing the rebels back from whence they came. So that meant the Official Government in Tripoli won, right? No, the mercenaries returned, the Turks stopped bombing and now Libya is cut in half. The Turks were given a huge Eastern Med concession by a grateful government in Tripoli and Russia got control of the Benghazi half of the country. Neato or whato? Just like Idlib.
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