Aletho News


Morsi after Meeting with Putin; Committed to Peaceful Syria Solution, No to IMF-Loan

Christof Lehmann | nsnbc | April 21, 2013

At a Press Conference with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Egypt´s President Mohammed Morsi stated, that Egypt was committed to finding a peaceful and legal solution to the crisis in Syria. Today, the official Egyptian State Information Service states, that Egypt has said no to a loan from the International Monetary Fond, IMF, because the IMF´s conditions were unacceptable. Earlier this year, prior to a state visit in India, Morsi pronounced that Egypt has aspirations for joining the BRICS.

Since the discontinuation of the Soviet Union, the bilateral relations between Cairo and Moscow have slowly degraded. The main talking points on the agenda at the talks between Morsi and Putin were the revival of trade, commerce and economic cooperation between the two countries as well as the instability that has swept over Northern Africa and the Middle East since 2011.

Earlier this year, prior to a planned state visit to India, Morsi stated, that Egypt has aspirations of becoming a member of the BRICS, leading to speculations, whether Egypt is planning to assume a similar role as it had during the 1950s and 1960s, where the country walked a tightrope between alignment with Moscow and Washington. As a member of the non-aligned movement, Egypt may very well try to reassert its role as a regional power broker.

A closer alignment of Egypt with Moscow would make the country less dependent on US foreign policy and could, at least to a certain degree, counter the strong influence the USA is asserting over the Arab League through Qatar.

The little Gulf Kingdom has since 2007 grown into a veritable regional political superpower, which has stood and is standing behind many of the sweeping changes which have cast northern Africa and the Middle East into turmoil since 2011. Qatar and the USA are the primary powers behind the attempted subversion of Syria.

The question one may ask is, whether Morsi´s statement, that Egypt is committed to finding a peaceful and legal solution to the crisis in Syria is indicative of a more self-confident Egypt, and an Egyptian president who is aware of the fact that an alignment with the USA and Qatar, without playing the Moscow card, makes him as easily disposable as his predecessor Hosni Mubarak.

There are also other signs which indicate that Morsi may be trying to reassert Egypt´s role as regional power and greater independence from Washington. Morsi´s ambitions to have Egypt become the “E” in something that could become the BRICS+E was one indication. Prior to his visit to India, Morsi also stated, that Egypt is planning to increase its relations with eastern and Asian countries.

Today´s rejection of the IMF´s loan, following talks with the Russian President in Sochi, are lending additional credibility to those who are arguing for an Egyptian realignment to the middle, and the recent signals from the BRICS, that it will create a BRICS development bank, are indicative that Morsi may have substance behind the possible dream of a course change.

Asked about the reasons for turning down the IMF, Mosi said, “We seek to carry out clear changes in the government´s economic program to receive the loan and we are keen on the interests of the Egyptian citizens”. On of the greatest points of critique against Morsi, other than oppression of his political opponents were, that Morsi “already sold out Egypt and its people to the IMF and World Bank, before he even was elected”. With backup from Russia and the other BRICS members however, Morsi would be less dependent on Washington´s and the IMF´s economic dictates. With the World Bank and IMF systems, as some analysts have it, close to exploding into an international scandal which could spell the beginning of the end of the Bretton Woods gentleman´s agreement, Morsi may be making a very wise decision.

Morsi showed true statesmanship when he said, that he is “seeking real investments in Egypt” and that “loans don´t solve problems and are just temporary solutions”. During his interview with Al-Jazeera Morsi also reiterated the importance of maintaining the integrity of Egyptian territory, stating, that “Egypt´s lands are not for sale and are prohibited for non-Egyptians”.

While increased Egyptian self-confidence and increased assertiveness in the Arab League as well as Egypt´s possible influence for finding a political solution to the crisis in Syria may be plausible and welcome, he may still have to tackle internal problems. Consolidating the continuity and stability of the Egyptian government in times of sudden and comprehensive unrest and change may have made sweeping power grabs a tempting solution. As a long-term strategy however, a semi-dictatorial, Muslim Brotherhood influenced Egyptian government is as counter productive to the stability of Egypt´s society and government, as loans are counterproductive as a long-term strategy for economic growth.

During an interview with Al-Jazeera, Morsi also stressed that Egypt is maintaining good relations with Iran and that Egypt´s relations with Iran are not directed against anyone. Morsi reiterated, the importance of Iran´s role with regard to finding a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Syria.

The renewed ties between Cairo and Moscow may also indicate that Russia is planning to play a more active role throughout the Middle East, and that the Russian government is planning to reassert some of the influence Moscow has lost in the region during the last years of the Soviet era and the early 1990s.

A Russian fleet, composed of the anti-submarine destroyer Admiral Panteleyev and the two logistic warships Peresvet and Novelskoy, with a total number of 712 crew have entered the Iranian Army´s first naval zone in Bandar Abbas.

The three vessel´s visit is aiming at consolidating the relations between Iran and Russia and the expansion of interactions between the two countries in the field of naval security. The three Russian warships have left their home port Vladivostok for duty in the world oceans and are visiting Bandar Abbas en route to their operational destinations. The Russian Ministry of Defense has announced, that Russia has begun forming a separate Mediterranean squadron.

The visit of Egypt´s President Morsi to Sochi and the talks with Russian President Putin, Egypt´s interest in joining the BRICS, the rejection of the IMF loan, Morsi´s commitment to finding a peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria while stressing the importance of Iran´s role as part of the solution, and Russian commitment to a stronger naval presence in the Mediterranean indicate that Egypt could be playing a key role in limiting the current US Middle East and Northern Africa Pivot. The rejection of the IMF loan and indications to more commitment to democracy could indicate, that Russian influence also has inspired the Muslim Brotherhood led government to bring its own house in order while considering to assume a greater regional role.

April 21, 2013 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Spain approves deployment of US Marines

Press TV – April 21, 2013

Spain has authorized the temporary deployment of US Marine forces to an airbase in the southwestern city of Moron de la Frontera, Seville Province.

The Spanish government granted the air base to the US forces on Friday for a period of one year for 500 Marines and eight aircrafts.

The United States Embassy in the capital, Madrid, stated that it needed a force able to respond quickly to crises in northwest Africa. On September 11, 2012, four Americans were killed in the city of Benghazi, Libya.

Africa has experienced a surge in the US military involvement recently.

On February 14, Army General David Rodriguez, the head of US military’s African Command, said in a Senate hearing that the military needed to boost its “intelligence-gathering and spying missions in Africa by nearly 15-fold.”

In December 2012, the Pentagon announced that the “Dagger Brigade” consisting of 3,500 combat troops was set up to be deployed to as many as 35 African nations to train local forces.

The US Africa Command has been based in Stuttgart, Germany, since it was established in 2007. Efforts to move the headquarters to an African country faced hurdles as numerous nations expressed concern that the Pentagon was seeking to militarize US policy or infringe on their sovereignty.

Spain also granted the US another temporary deployment from March to November 2011, in which up to 45 US aircraft were stationed at the Moron and Rota airbases in the southwestern parts of the country.

Spain’s authorizations originate from a 1988 defense cooperation agreement between Spain and the United States.

April 21, 2013 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | 2 Comments

Thomas Friedman Again Demonstrates the Skills Shortage for NYT Pundits

CEPR | April 20, 2013

The NYT has difficulty finding pundits who can write knowledgeably about economics. Thomas Friedman made this point in his Sunday column. At one point he quotes Gary Green, the president of Forsyth Technical Community College, in Winston-Salem, N.C.:

“‘We have a labor surplus in this country and a labor shortage at the same time,’ Green explained to me. Workers in North Carolina, particularly in textiles and furniture, who lost jobs either to outsourcing or the recession in 2008, often ‘do not have the skills required to get a new job today’ in the biotech, health care and manufacturing centers that are opening in the state.

“If before, he added, ‘you just needed a high school shop class or a short postsecondary certificate to work in a factory, now you need an associate degree in machining,’ a two-year program that requires higher math, I.T. and systems skills. In addition, some employers are now demanding that you not only have an associate degree but that nationally recognized skill certifications be incorporated into the curriculum to show that you have mastered the skills they want, like computer-integrated machining.”

Actually there are simple ways to identify labor shortages. First and foremost we should be seeing rapidly rising wages. If employers cannot get the workers they need then they raise the wages they offer to pull workers away from other employers. This is how markets work. (We should also see longer workweeks and increased vacancies.)

In fact there is no major sector of the economy where wages are rising rapidly. This shows rather conclusively that workers do not have skill shortages although it may be the case that many managers are so ignorant of markets that they don’t know that the way to attract better workers is to raise wages. Of course that would suggest the need to better train managers, not workers.

At one point the piece tells readers;

“We need to reform Social Security and Medicare so they can support all the baby boomers about to retire. ….

“As Bloomberg News reported on Monday: ‘Typical wage-earners retiring in 2010 will receive at least $3 for every $1 they contributed to the Medicare health-insurance program, according to an Urban Institute study.’ That’s unsustainable.”

It would have been helpful if Freidman had also mentioned that the same Urban Institute study shows workers already paying slightly more into Social Security than they get back. Yet Friedman wants to cut benefits.

The main reason that the Medicare benefits workers receive are more than they pay in taxes is we pay more than twice as much per person as people in other wealthy countries for our health care. This is due to the fact that we pay close to twice as much for our doctors, drugs, and medical equipment. It is not due to the fact that we get better care. This might suggest the need to reduce payments to health care providers rather than cut Medicare. Of course health care providers are a powerful lobby that Friedman apparently does not want to anger.

April 21, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel seeks Turkish airbase for attack on Iran: Report

Press TV – April 21, 2013

A recent report says the visit by Israeli National Security Council Head Yaakov Amidror to Turkey is aimed at securing an airbase in Iran’s neighbor to pave the way for a military attack against the Islamic Republic.

In an article, the Sunday Times said that during his visit on Sunday, Amidror is expected to solicit Turkey’s agreement with regard to the deployment of Israeli fighter jets in Akinci airbase, northwest of Ankara, in exchange for advanced military equipments and technology, the Times of Israel reported.

“Until the recent crisis, Turkey was our biggest aircraft carrier. Using the Turkish airbases could make the difference between success and failure once a showdown with Iran gets underway,” Sunday Times quoted an unnamed Israeli military source as saying.

Ankara agreed to restore relations with Tel Aviv on March 22 after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Turkey for the deaths of nine Turkish activists in a 2010 Israeli attack on a Gaza-bound international flotilla.

Israel also agreed to pay compensation to the families of those who were killed by Israeli commandos. The apology was brokered by US President Barack Obama during his recent visit to Israel.

The Israeli source added that the regime’s military has been “lobbying hard for the politicians to find a form of apology, in order to restore the Israeli-Turkish alliance against Syria and Iran.”

The trip comes as the Israeli military chief recently repeated its war threats against Iran, saying the regime can invade Iran on its own.

“We have our plans and forecasts… If the time comes we’ll decide” on whether to take military action against Iran, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz said on April 16.

Netanyahu has also recently said that the US-engineered sanctions against Iran over its nuclear energy program might not be enough.

The US, Israel and some of their allies accuse Iran of pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program with the Israeli regime repeatedly threatening to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities based on the unsubstantiated allegation.

Iran argues that as a committed signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it has every right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. Iran has further promised a crushing response to any act of aggression against it.

Unlike Iran, Israel, which is widely believed to possess between 200 to 400 nuclear warheads, is a non-signatory to the NPT and continues to defy international calls to join the treaty.

April 21, 2013 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | Comments Off on Israel seeks Turkish airbase for attack on Iran: Report