Monday, March 30, 2015

EH Bai rallies Northern Basque left vote in second round of department elections

The Basque Nationalist Left coalition Euskal Herria Bai (Yes to the Basque Country) achieved amazing records of support in the second round of the departamental elections, where they were the only left-leaning force remaining in five cantons for the second round of the vote, whose first round was last week.

EH Bai lists only managed to win in the Errobi-Aturri canton, where they run against the French fascist party FN. In that district they collected 78% of the vote in this second round (was 34% in the first one). 

However, even where they ultimately lost to cocky Sarkozy-strikes-back lists, they achieved record backing never before gathered, for example 45% in Donibane-Lohitzune (Saint-Jean-de-Luz), what caused their conservative and unionist rival Philippe Juzan to acknowledge publicly that the Basque patriots are rallying the youth much better than their party, wowing to learn a lesson from that. 

In the other three cantons the performance of the Independentists was also excellent and without precedent: 44% in Ustaritze-Errobi-Urdazuri, 43% in the Basque Mountain and 38% in Bidaxune-Amikuze-Ostibarre

Overall the French right won in most cantons but the social-liberals of Hollande managed to win three (Baiona-2, Baiona-3 and Hendaia). Abstention was very high (48%) suggesting that the people is not satisfied with the rather undemocratic seat assignment method, which strongly favors the Twin Party system and denies the right of representation to weaker but still important currents.

Source: Gara[es].

North of the Adur...

Overall in the French Residual Empire voters backed Darth Vader, oops, I mean: Nicolas Sarkozy. The population seems extremely disappointed about right wing politics by Hollande, demonstrating that terms should be much shorter, in order to impede the breach of electoral promises for too long. In brief:
  • Sarko's likely backers:
    • UMP: 1105
    • Various right: 893
    • UDI: 358
    • MoDem: 46
  • Hollande's usual backers:
    • PS: 912
    • Various left: 384
    • PCF: 118
    • PRG: 62
  • Fascists:
    • FN: 64
    • Various far-right: 4
  • Real Left:
    • EE-LV: 29
    • FDG/PG: 20
  • Independentists: 7
  • Miscellanea: 46
Source: Twitter.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Saudi intervention in Yemen: a major step in the direction of total chaos

Religion in Arabia
Yemen is not Bahrain. Bahrain is a small urban island while Yemen is larger than Spain or Thailand, a largely rural and impoverished country with large mountainous areas. 

Conquering Yemen, as the Saudis and their North American allies seem to hope is pretty much impossible (much less for a mercenary army as the Saudi one, which lacks the ideological motivation and will be easily demoralized). So this attack is a very risky move that allows the troubles of Yemen to split across the border, particularly to 'Asir, which has a very large Shia population which is also ethnically akin to Yemenis.

As we can see in the map, Saudi Arabia is made up of two vast desertic areas in the North and South, plus three more populated areas, primarily the Southwest (largely Sunni but also Shia), then the central "oasis area" (stronghold of the fundamentalist Wahabbi ideology that shapes the theocracy) and finally the Eastern Shia region that used to be part of Bahrain. While an extension of the conflict to the central region can be surely discarded in the short run and the Eastern Shia uprising was quelled in blood (although it is still latent and tightly associated to the developments in Bahrain, where protests continue in spite of brutal repression), a Houti advance in Eastern Arabia, particularly into 'Asir but potentially even threatening Mecca should not be discarded at all. In fact I can't but foresee it as the more natural development of the Saudi invasion in the short run. 

The weakness of Saudi power

Another thing to consider is who rules Saudi Arabia and how solid is their power. The recently crowned King Salman, 79, is widely believed to suffer from Alzheimer disease or some other sort of incapacitating dementia so there is a shadowy junta actually ruling the state and clear fractures in the ruling family are known to exist in spite of the secrecy that governs the Islamist state.

In other words: Saudi power is, in spite of oil revenues, at its weakest point ever, suffering intestine dynastic disputes, facing major dissidence from that 50% of the population that are women (whose condition under Wahabbism is surely one of the worst on Earth) and from the majority of the population in the Eastern Province. Now add to all that a powerful and consolidated Shia militia spawning from Yemen. The only pillars of Saudi power are the more and more questioned totalitarian religious police and a mercenary army, with good equipment and salaries but without the "soul" of a really compromised force, as it lacks of nationalist or otherwise ideological motivation of any sort. 

We are talking after all of a mere feudal state: a pre-modern residue stagnated on oil wealth and international alliances, heavily relying on an immigrant workforce with slave-like conditions, and almost certainly unable to withstand any serious turmoil. 

What can we expect

Yemen conflict (from Al Yazeera)
I foresee short-term Pyrrhic victories of the invaders (high sustained cost, low gain) followed by backslash in both Yemen and SW Saudi territory. Backslash that might well threaten Mecca. The boundaries are artificial and the intervention just made them meaningless: now it's an all-Arabian conflict and not anymore one just circumscribed to Yemen.

I also foresee increased unrest in Saudi Arabia as such: both from the people, for which Wahabbi totalitarianism is not anymore a valid option in this globalized and secularized age, but also from important segments of the dominant elite which have been apparently excluded from power with the still fresh crowning putsch of Salman the Ailing. 

It is probable that the intervention in Yemen is seen by the current shadow junta as a way to reinforce their power: nothing like a glorious military campaign, right? But there is a major problem: the campaign won't succeed and it will be painful and dirty, spilling into Saudi territory, so eventually its promoters will gain only increased weakness and not increased strength from it.

Finally there is another and very serious danger that can't be understated: that the besieged Sunni Islamists in Yemen will join the Islamic State, as those in Libya and Nigeria have done, and roll over Saudia from both Iraq and Yemen with likely opportunist support (as in Iraq) from inside the military. They would offer the rotten Saudi elites the "best" (worst!) of both worlds: a continuation of totalitarian Sunni Islamism and a modernizing fascist regime apparently more capable than the rotten Saudi dynasty. 

No need to say that such a development would dramatically alter the geostrategy of the region and the whole World. I is not unlikely though.

What I wonder at this stage is how controlled does the Pentagon has the situation. Isn't the risk of the Islamic State (effectively supported by Turkey, the USA and Israel but apparently not by Saudi Arabia) going out of control getting too big? This seems more and more like a repetition of the Hitler experiment: we (the Anglo-Saxon Empire) put a dictator in power and a few years later we have no choice but to wage war against him because he's become too independent and is challenging the status quo beyond what we can put up with. 

Obviously the IS is not your usual military junta or old-fashioned fossilized monarchy: they literally know no bounds in their brutal religious madness and are extremely ambitious. They have also shown to be very efficient at taking over weakened states, at least large chunks of them. And Saudi Arabia is one of those.

I wonder if that is what the USA wants and, if so, why? How do they plan to retain hegemony in the middle of such chaos and consolidated state of war? Conquering it in some sort of WW3? Will they be able to rally the masses around such a major imperial campaign in the midst of the worst socio-economic crisis in the history of Capitalism? I don't think so. All this can only backfire, even if I feel unable to foresee the details of the near-future developments.

Update (Mar 29):
06:48 GMT: Houthi rebels are moving artillery units closer to the border with Saudi Arabia, RIA Novosti cited Al Jazeera as saying (from RT live updates blog on the crisis). What did I say about the war spilling to Saudia?

Other details from the same source:
  • Yemeni forces (army or rebels) can hit Saudi targets up to 500 km away (Iranian source)
  • Saudia has massed up 150,000 troops at the border with Yemen. It is unclear if they plan to invade or just defend the border. Analyst suggest that a land invasion would be a disaster, however it is unclear how can the operation succeed without ground occupation, more so when the Houtis are clearly redirecting their efforts against the Saudi aggressor.
  • While Egypt has joined the Saudi-led coalition with 16 airplanes and one frigate, Pakistan has remained uncompromising.
  • The official Yemeni President (with almost no support inside the country) seems to have left the country for Riyadh and then for Egypt to attend an Arab League summit. 

Update 2 (Mar 29): Israel may be an active partner in the coalition bombing Yemen, according to sources in Sanaa mentioned by Fars Agency.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Basque Nationalist Left grows big in departmental elections

The Basque Nationalist Left coalition EH Bai collected 16% of the popular vote in the region of the Basque Country annexed to France, consolidating itself as the third largest political force after the French Twin Party, so far resilient. EH Bai candidates have therefore reached the second round in almost half of the cantons, where they will have an opportunity to be elected to represent their cantons in the council of the Atlantic Pyrenees department imposed by Paris.

The conservative section of the French Twin Party, running under the acronym "Forces 64 + UMP" won the support of 34% of Northern Basques, while the pseudo-left branch known as Socialist Party, did not reach 20% of popular support. 

As usual, the Fascist FN performed quite worse in the Basque Country than in other parts of the Republic, collecting only 13% of the votes, with 11% of the votes going to other all-France options and a mere 1% to the Basque Nationalist Right (EAJ-PNB). 

The five cantons in which the Nationalists will be able to contend the second round are:
  • Errobi-Aturri: 34%, (vs the Fascists, 17%)
  • Bidaxune-Amikuze-Ostibarre: 23% (vs French Right, 44%)
  • Euskal Mendialdea (Basque Mountains): 22% (vs French Right, 29%)
  • Ustaritze-Errobi-Urdazuri: 17% (vs French Right, 28%)
  • Donibane-Lohizune (aka St. Jean de Luz): 15% (vs. French Right, 29%)
Together these cantons make up the bulk of the Northern Basque Country in area, even if not in population, as this map evidences:

Red: EH Bai will be in the second round
Dark Red: EH Bai leads and will probably win in the second round
Bluish: other cases

While in Errobi-Aturri, the division of the Unionist Right favored the Basque Nationalists (as well as the Fascists), in Baigura & Mondarrain a similar intestine competition was not enough and EH Bai could only reach third place with 18% of the vote. Another third place with 14% of the vote was reached in Hendaia. 

The performance was less notable in the Baiona-Miarritze urban area of the Northwest, reaching 6-8% in each of the electoral districts. 

The French electoral system heavily punishes minority options (even if not as extremely as the Anglosaxon one) denying vast sections of the people the right to be represented proportionally, what suggests that the system is not really intended to be democratic but a mere pretense. 

In any case, against all the odds, the Basque Nationalist Left has shown to be a major contender that keeps rallying more and more Northern Basques against the sclerosis of the unionist Twin Party regime. 

North of the Adur...

Preliminary results suggest that the Twin Party wins, no surprises. Anecdotally it is again the turn of the Right-wing brand, which gathers 29-32% , while the pseudo-Left brand manages to hold 19-25% of consumer fidelity (which can grow to 29-32% in the second round as the more serious left routinely surrenders its radicalism to the "lesser evil"). The Fascist FN keeps that 25% conquered in previous elections but makes no further gains, maybe because the establishment sees Le Pen as too pro-Russian to be trusted.

Sources: Gara (detailed results in PDF), Kazeta, EH Bai

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Ukranian soldiers: "We need to turn around and march to Kiev because the real enemy is there"

Is Poroshenko and its Nazi "National Guard" and volunteer companies losing their grip on power? This video, filmed with probably a mobile phone on the frontline by three soldiers (recruits) seems to underline the massive discontent after a whole year of civil war and economic looting:

The sentence used in the title is pronounced, with minor modifications, towards then end of the video (6:39). It impacted me particularly because it seems taken from the worker demands at the beginning of World War I and later also taking place in fact in the proletarian revolutions at the end of that conflict. The idea is also present in some poem of Bertolt Brecht and it is very much true in the case of Ukraine. I have been honestly waiting for this moment to happen: when the army turns around and marches against the real enemy in Kiev. It still has to happen but it's clear that idea is floating around. 

Otherwise the soldiers heavily complain about salaries, not just their own but also their families and the pensions of the elderly, the heavy losses in the war and the pampered status of the National Guard (fascists) and the volunteer companies (also fascists), which are used not for frontline fighting mostly but for terrorism against civilians and even against the regular troops, whose moral is at an all time bottom. 

I believe that when they say "ATO" it means "NATO" but unsure.

Via: Basque Committee of Solidarity with Donbass (their video has Spanish subtitles).