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Geopolitical Trends with Long Term Horizons, July 2017 thoughts.

July 10, 2017

Geopolitical Trends with Long Term Horizons, July 2017 thoughts.

By Lushfun

North Korea.

All that military equipment that has been moved, positioned, armed and readied for action is not there for naught. The drills held by the U.S. in the air, and Japan and South Korea in the sea are most likely a part of a larger simulation. We can only speculate that after an extreme wave of bombing by strategic and tactical bombers into the oblivion, tomahawk barrages from the sea there will likely be landings deep into North Korean territory. If one looks back at “Desert Storm” with Iraqi generals essentially moving aside once the push occurred, one can to a degree gauge that if communications are cut off and the perception of the center of command being destroyed, resistance on the line of control especially in light of significant destruction pre-emptively wrecked upon the abilities to project and conduct operations would make it more likely for sections of the front to be taken over with low resistance. Whatever one may think about the resilience and self-reliance, brainwashing and belief, there is an underlying realization that the other side in the South is just as Korean as the North, thus the factor of being treated well after giving up arms, is on an innate psychological level present. This is one of the reasons the leader of the North has to act so ‘decisively’ to reinforce the ideological and repressive machine of the state to defend against such a forced ‘reconciliation’ on the Korean peninsula.

My sense on Chinese involvement occurring is that if they cross the border and become entangled the reputational losses from combat and economic suppression during said involvement would completely outweigh the current or future potential of a unified Korea that is in alliance with the U.S. Distance from South Korea to major cities in China from a missile ranger perspective would not change materially. Reputational loss for China in the client state being absorbed by the South while significant would be survivable. The problem for China is that it does not understand or wants to for that matter that plausible deniability for having North Korea use nukes on any neighbors or military assets be it Japan, South Korea, or U.S. forces is too much of a liability to continue. Having an ability to say the North Koreans are crazy and thus they can retaliate or pre-emptively strike with ballistic missiles is a non-starter nor a defensible long term position on world stage. No country can accept random threat project from another continuously while the later country attempts to blackmail them via this potential use of force for leverage into extracting subsidies or concessions.

China, Russia, South Korea, Japan, and U.S. will all benefit once the North is gone. Economically the integration will stimulate the regional economy. Militarily if the border is not militarized the declines in military spend by the united Korea and U.S. in the region will be re-directed to better uses.

Syria and Kurdistan

It is becoming obvious that longer term Kurdistan is emerging. Contrary to popular belief in my view the beneficiaries of Kurdistan existing are U.S. and Iran. While U.S. may use new bases in a client state for force projection and leverage with neighboring states, Iran would be a significant winner. Iran would gain access to an emerging country which it would be able to supply from the North-South corridor as it struggles against Turkey. Longer term the economic ties may become significant. It is extremely apparent that the Syrian and Iranian routes of supply to the emerging Kurdish state would be the least antagonistic. Syrian route would funnel supplies from Europe and U.S. while Iranian route would funnel supplies from Russia and China. All of these actors may not necessarily want Kurdistan to emerge but the economic imperatives of their struggling economies and the profit motive would provide impetus for supplies to flow. It is slowly becoming apparent that Syria would be divided in one way or another.

If Turkey forces this division via force involvement and projection to liquidate the Afrin pocket near the North-West it would significantly accelerate Kurdish state emerging. The reason for this is that there would be no ability by the Syrian state to accept this involvement while simultaneously claim responsibility for the people living there. Ergo, if the people in those provinces are on their own than the Syrian state abrogates responsibility, even if it states otherwise. Turkish pressing to create a cordon-sanitare would backfire in the sense that it would provide leverage for both U.S. and Europe to retaliate in the politico-economic sphere. While one may think sanctions are not possible for a NATO member, one may be mistaken. The likelihood of retaliation is the suspension of financial access and/or trade preferences that are not treaty codified, or outside the EU-Turkey customs union. The mistake Turkey is making is thinking that it will be ‘paid’ for compliance in Syria. If there is an offensive in Idlib and the armed groups there are pushed into Turkey or elsewhere, there is no likelihood that Afrin will be traded for said event, nor that it would even have to be offered… In the long term the only answer to preventing a Kurdish emergence is to support and strengthen a Syrian state that would be able to prevent Kurds from break away. The viability of changing to this path for Turkey is a misnomer, yet it would mollify half of the opposition in the form of Russia, Iran, and Syria, with the U.S. having to accept Kurds existing as part of Syria. However, if Kurds are going to be pressed out then the choice for the U.S. will become to pick between what its’ strategic goals are which align with Kurds or to negotiate with Ankara. In my view the likelihood of former dominating the later is very high, unless the framework that integrates Kurds exists without destroying them.

 

What the Turkish government is oblivious towards is that the coalitions on the ground cannot support their position nor exchange with them, simply because longer term Turkish position is untenable. Neither the maintenance of it from geopolitical leverage of others nor sustainability in going against said coalitions is not present. If Turkey attempts to play it’s own game going full bore into conflict it may create a systemic payoff for both the Russia-Iran-Syria coalition and the U.S.-Europe-Kurdish coalition to not only push them out of Syria but to capitalize on said misstep. So far the impetus for action and the timeline for having leverage and using it for Turkey is closing.

From a Kurdish point of view while the loss of Afrin would be bad from a tactical stand point, in the geopolitical sense it would reinforce the necessity of a Kurdish state in their coalition. Syria would be de-jure divided due to inability to provide security to all its’ subjects especially after the civil war. Here the trade offs for Iran from the U.S. and to Syria as well for accepting a de-jure partition while it is occurring de-facto due to Turkish intervention would become paramount. While Turkey may end up having control on the ground it would wind up with a consensus of most if not all the actors in drawing up a map that systemically undermines it’s position precisely due to the intervention it makes to eliminate such an outcome. In the longer term it would not be able to not only to enforce said control but would be forced to give up even more concessions than it would be ready or willing of yielding.

 

Any thoughts, suggestions, opinions welcome.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union%E2%80%93Turkey_Customs_Union

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/06/turkey-russia-offer-moscow-idlib-in-return-for-afrin.html

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/07/us-answer-turkey-threats-syria-kurds-hamas-iran-hezbollah.html

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