Anyone who has been following the events in Syria and the region over recent years would not deny that the stalemate in the northern regions of the country is not unexpected. After more than a year of negotiations – most of them without much effect or emotion – the United States and Turkey continue to fail to resolve their differences with regard to the establishment of the so-called “buffer zone” along the Turkish-Syrian border. President Recep Erdogan has repeatedly stressed that his country intends to intervene in northern and north-eastern Syria to secure its territory from possible penetration by PKK forces, currently part of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a Washington-backed coalition. The latest threats for an offensive came just as Ambassador James Jeffrey was visiting Ankara to hold talks
Alexander Rayko Alexiev was named for his father, the famous painter, caricaturist, and satirist Rayko Alexiev, who was tortured and killed by Bulgaria’s Soviet-backed communist regime in 1944. His mother was dispatched for many years to Bulgaria’s gulag from which she was fortunate to emerge alive. These events created the context for their son’s life and work, which was intense, focused, intellectually profound, spirited, and inspirational. Unsurprisingly, Alex harbored a deep-seated hatred of communism and those who claimed to follow it, or who advanced preposterous claims on its behalf. He was raised largely by his grandparents and other relatives, for whom he had the deepest love and respect. His grandfather, in particular, figured in many of Alex’s recollections of his childhood, which were invariably full of dark humor.
With the deepest sorrow and a heavy heart, the team of the Bulgaria Analytica lets you know the founder and Chairman of the Board of the Center for Balkan and Black Sea Studies, a friend and a partner passed away in the early hours of the 28th of July, 2019. His legacy will live in time as his work, analyses, commentaries, presentations, interviews, lectures will continue to serve as a guide for the current and future generations of readers. He was a true son of his father, Rayko Alexiev, who was tortured to death by the totalitarian regime in Bulgaria. After years of repression, he fled Bulgaria in 1968 and settled in the US, where he had a remarkable life, starting with his graduation from the University of California,
Despite ample evidence to the contrary, environmentalists are certain the planet is on its death bed sweating out its final breathe while humans turn up the thermometer. Although their estimation for exactly how much longer we have seems to change every time we reach their previous projection unscathed, the certainty grows. Decades of blatant misrepresentations of data should arouse anyone’s suspicion regarding the shrill of environmentalist propaganda, but lies are best served with a short-term memory and this time your imminent demise is really coming. In fact, according to controversial US freshman lawmaker Alexandria Occasio-Cortez, “the world is gonna [sic] end in 12 years.” In typical neoliberal “clown nose on, clown nose off” fashion she later professed that anybody who actually believed what she said had the intelligence of
The US and EU sanctions Both the EU and the US are contemplating new sanctions following the Cyprus-drilling conflict and the purchase of the S-400. Erdogan seems defiant on both counts and further sanctions seem equally unavoidable. Turkey’s armed forces have been planning a major offensive in Northern Syria against the US-backed Kurdish Protection Units (YPG), in defiance of US and EU warnings for possible conflict escalation. A sense of urgency has been added to Erdogan’s preparatory works to invade Syria as Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E have responded positively to US calls to send troops to areas held by the YPG. Russia is tacitly encouraging further cracks in relations with the West by allowing Erdogan a certain range of freedom in Syria, against the
The backstage role of Schroeder. President Erdogan seems intent to further expand the impact zone of the S-400 deal – testing the tolerance of his partners in NATO and the EU. Both are contemplating sanctions which seem too lenient to bite yet indicate a path that has no worst-case scenario beyond the realm of the possibility. Volkswagen’s investments in Turkey, with the heavy lobbying of the key Kremlin asset ex-Chancellor Schroeder, inevitably will face huge and potentially escalating tough-to-mitigate political risks. No immediate collapse foreseen – slowly evolving strategic shift To start with – the nature and the timeline of the risk evolve in time. Although no immediate collapse in Turkey is foreseen as part of Erdogan’s departure from Kemal Ataturk’s European and part of the West identity, the
For the past several months now, the US media is obsessed with dire predictions of a calamitous trade war between China and the US, following numerous statements by president Trump that the Chinese trade surplus is intolerable. Indeed, at $506 billion of Chinese exports against only $130 billion of US ones, it does look very unfair. However, things look a bit different if looked at from a different angle. The Chinese value added, for instance is only 45%, which means that 55% is first imported there to be assembled and re-exported. The US value added is 92%, India’s 87%. Secondly, German trade surplus with the US is not far behind China’s and, unlike China, which fills the aisles at Walmart with cheap goods, Germany produces and sells large numbers
Loss of Ukrainian gas transit does increase the risk of military conflict. In October 2013, I came across an anonymous blogger’s note about Russia forming a separate air assault brigade to stop shale gas development in Eastern Ukraine . It was several months before the Ukrainian revolution of 2014 , and I dismissed the news as fake. However, after the start of combat activities in the Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, the note made a lot of sense. Coincidentally or not, the gas supply system of Gazprom was ready for the war in Ukraine. For many years Rostov-on-Don and two more provinces of Southern Russia were receiving gas through Eastern Ukraine. In 2007, Gazprom commissioned a bypassing pipeline enabling “to directly supply gas to Russian