Russia News: “Russia Ukraine” – Google News: Over 1500 Russian citizens refused entry to Ukraine after introduction of martial law – UNIAN

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Over 1500 Russian citizens refused entry to Ukraine after introduction of martial law  UNIAN

Over 1500 Russian citizens have been refused entry to Ukraine after the introduction of martial law in the country on November 26. Russian border guards did …

“Russia Ukraine” – Google News

Russia News


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Counterintelligence from Michael_Novakhov (50 sites): Russia News: “Russia Ukraine” – Google News: Over 1500 Russian citizens refused entry to Ukraine after introduction of martial law – UNIAN

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Over 1500 Russian citizens refused entry to Ukraine after introduction of martial law  UNIAN

Over 1500 Russian citizens have been refused entry to Ukraine after the introduction of martial law in the country on November 26. Russian border guards did …

“Russia Ukraine” – Google News

Russia News

Counterintelligence from Michael_Novakhov (50 sites)


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Global Security News from Michael_Novakhov (27 sites): Trump digital operations from Michael_Novakhov (2 sites): “social media in trump campaign” – Google News: Trump owns the shutdown. And he’s OK with that – POLITICO.eu

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Trump owns the shutdown. And he’s OK with that  POLITICO.eu

The president spent the weekend digging in on his position, and aides say he accepts a closure that could drag into the new year.

“social media in trump campaign” – Google News

Trump digital operations from Michael_Novakhov (2 sites)

Global Security News from Michael_Novakhov (27 sites)


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Trump digital operations from Michael_Novakhov (2 sites): “social media in trump campaign” – Google News: Trump owns the shutdown. And he’s OK with that – POLITICO.eu

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Trump owns the shutdown. And he’s OK with that  POLITICO.eu

The president spent the weekend digging in on his position, and aides say he accepts a closure that could drag into the new year.

“social media in trump campaign” – Google News

Trump digital operations from Michael_Novakhov (2 sites)


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1. US Security from Michael_Novakhov (86 sites): “house judiciary committee” – Google News: Big Tech in hiring spree for looming antitrust battles – Financial Times

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Big Tech in hiring spree for looming antitrust battles  Financial Times

Big technology and telecoms companies have embarked on a hiring spree of former antitrust officials as their industries gear up for what experts warn could be …

“house judiciary committee” – Google News

1. US Security from Michael_Novakhov (86 sites)


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Global Security News from Michael_Novakhov (27 sites): 1. Russia from Michael_Novakhov (114 sites): Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty: Pentagon Withdrawal Order For U.S. Troops From Syria ‘Signed’

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The Pentagon has said the order for the withdrawal U.S. troops from Syria has been signed following President Donald Trump’s December 19 announcement setting out plans for a full pullout, U.S. media are reporting.

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

1. Russia from Michael_Novakhov (114 sites)

Global Security News from Michael_Novakhov (27 sites)


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1. Russia from Michael_Novakhov (114 sites): Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty: Pentagon Withdrawal Order For U.S. Troops From Syria ‘Signed’

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The Pentagon has said the order for the withdrawal U.S. troops from Syria has been signed following President Donald Trump’s December 19 announcement setting out plans for a full pullout, U.S. media are reporting.

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

1. Russia from Michael_Novakhov (114 sites)


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Global Security News from Michael_Novakhov (27 sites): Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (35 sites): 1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (198 sites): Palmer Report: Robert Mueller’s secret appeals court case takes surreal Supreme Court turn

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Yesterday we all learned that the master company in Robert Mueller’s secret appeals court case was attempting to get the Supreme Court involved. Now it turns out the Supreme Court has gotten involved, at least preliminarily, and it’s set things on a very quick timetable for a potential resolution. There are also some surreal revelations surfacing about what really went on at the appeals court level.




Chief Justice John Roberts has decided to put a hold on the appeals court ruling, but only through December 31st, so that the Supreme Court can review the matter and decide whether to take it up, according to CNN. This is not a surprise, given the unique importance of the case, which has led to unprecedented levels of secrecy. So what now?


This is not an indication that Roberts thinks the mystery company has a valid case, or that he thinks the Supreme Court should even hear the matter. It simply means that he considers it important enough to give the court the option of taking on the case. What’s remarkable here is that Roberts has also placed an eight day hold on the contempt citation that the mystery company has hanging over it. Wait a minute, what contempt citation?




Therein lies the mystery. This company’s failure to cooperate has prompted a judge to hold it in contempt and begin hitting it with monetary fines, in an effort to force it to cooperate. This tells us that this has been a far uglier battle than we imagined, and that the company has gone to greater lengths to dodge this subpoena than we knew.



Even though there are five conservative Supreme Court Justices, this is not an ideological matter. It’s a matter of interpreting the extent to which a foreign government-owned corporation, which presumably does business in the United States, must abide by legal proceedings in U.S. courts. We don’t know how the Supreme Court will rule on this, if it even takes up the case. But Robert Mueller nearly always wins his court battles. And if the Supreme Court sides with Mueller, he could very soon be getting the evidence he’s been trying to subpoena.



The post Robert Mueller’s secret appeals court case takes surreal Supreme Court turn appeared first on Palmer Report.

Palmer Report

1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (198 sites)

Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (35 sites)

Global Security News from Michael_Novakhov (27 sites)


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Counterintelligence from Michael_Novakhov (50 sites): Eurasia Review: The Anatomy Of A Government Shutdown – OpEd

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By Chris Calton*

Thomas Sowell used to ask his students to imagine a government bureaucracy that had two functions.
One function was to provide medicine to sick children, and the other
function was to construct statues of Benedict Arnold. He would then ask
his students that if the bureaucracy suffered budget cuts, which
function would the bureau stop funding?

The intuitive answer to those of us who are not bureaucrats is to cut
the funding to Benedict Arnold statues, of course. One might even ask
why we are funding statues in honor of a traitor to begin with? But,
Sowell would tell his students, the bureaucracy would actually be more
inclined to cut funding to the medicine to sick children.

Why?

Bureaucrats and politicians, like anybody else, are self-interested
individuals, and their interests are to enjoy a bureaucracy with as
large a tax-payer-funded budget as possible. When they are faced with
budget cuts, it makes no sense to cut funding from programs that the
vast majority of taxpayers wouldn’t care to fund in the first place.
There would be no outcry. But by cutting funds in an area that creates
real pain for certain people within the population — say, sick children
or members of the military — the public will predictably erupt with
outrage, demanding that the original budget be reinstated (or even
increased!) so people don’t suffer.

With President Trump’s demands for tax-payer funds allocated to his
border wall, his reaction was to threaten a government shutdown. This
tactic seems to be an increasingly popular tactic for politicians who
want support for ever-increasing budgets and higher taxes. The last
so-called “shut down” only took place five years ago under Barack Obama,
and it seems many people have already forgotten the political theater
that accompanied it. “Shutting down” the government apparently meant paying government employees to set up traffic cones around monuments and abstaining from making Twitter updates, among other things.

However, while government continued to spend on things such as subsidies to encourage people to eat Idaho-produced caviar and, apparently until only recently, Y2K prevention research,
the shutdowns did included the halting of military pay. Of course, as
is the nature with military service, the government’s refusal to pay
does not release any service member from their legally enforced
obligation to complete their term. But just as Dr. Sowell predicted, the
mere threat of government employees — military especially — going
without paychecks inevitably brings public outrage and calls to pass
whatever budget the president demands. No need to even discuss cutting
out any of the billions of dollars identified as waste even by non-libertarian organizations .

The reality with government shutdowns is that nearly nothing actually gets shut down.
Heaven forbid employees from the Internal Revenue Service go without
pay, let alone the politicians themselves. The specter of a government
shutdown, accompanied with media interviews from government employees
worrying about paying for Christmas presents, is all that’s needed to
bully the public into supporting even the most reviled programs.

In the most recent example, Trump has threatened a government shutdown to compel congress to approve funding for a border wall. A recent GoFundMe campaign
has demonstrated both that there are people willing to donate their own
money – without compulsory taxes – to the project, but also that
nowhere nearly enough taxpayers are willing to fund a border wall to the
dollar amount that Congress has approved. But with the threat of a
so-called “government shutdown,” ever ardent opponents of Trump’s wall
have demanded Congress do whatever it takes to prevent the horrors that
demagogues predict will ensue.

For libertarians, it’s easy to celebrate the promise of a government
shutdown. Unfortunately, even if the threat is carried out, the sad
reality is that a government shutdown is not, and never has been,
anything more than an engineered tactic to generate a public outcry to
allow the government to tax and spend as much as and however it wants.
And the tactic always seems to work.

*About the author: Chris Calton is a 2018 Mises Institute Research Fellow and an economic historian. He is writer and host of the Historical Controversies podcast.

Source: This article was published by the MISES Institute

Eurasia Review

Counterintelligence from Michael_Novakhov (50 sites)


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Counterintelligence from Michael_Novakhov (50 sites): Eurasia Review: The Influence Of US-China Struggle On Philippines Domestic Politics – Analysis

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There is an intensifying and increasingly shrill debate as to whether or not the U.S. and China are on the brink of a new kind of Cold War.  Those who argue the negative say that one major difference between their rivalry and that of the U.S. and the Soviet Union in the Cold War is that the US-China struggle has not manifested itself in proxy wars. https://www.aei.org/publication/is-this-the-beginning-of-a-new-cold-war/    

Others say ‘perhaps not yet’, but that it is sowing the seeds of proxy conflicts between and within some states. They point out that China and the U.S. are increasingly vying for influence in several countries, particularly in Southeast Asia, in contexts that could eventually lead to violent domestic conflict. The Philippines is a good example.

 Philippines domestic politics are increasingly racked and rent by a polarizing debate over its policy toward China, particularly regarding its claims in the South China Sea. 

The Philippines, under the administration of then President Benigno Aquino –with U.S. political and legal support–brought the question of the legality of China’s jurisdictional claims in the South China Sea before an international arbitration panel. In July 2016, the panel ruled overwhelmingly in the Philippines’ favor.   

But then newly elected Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte abruptly pivoted Philippine foreign policy away from the U.S. and towards China. One aspect of this pivot was that he did not try to take immediate advantage of the panel’s ruling and instead forged a positive relationship with China gaining China’s political cooperation and possibilities of economic largesse. 

But this policy shift outraged international and domestic legal idealists as well as Philippine Americanophiles, sparking bitter opposition. This has resulted in a major domestic political struggle between factions favoring preferential relations with one or the other country.

Filipino-American ties run deep and wide.   The Philippines is a US ally by virtue of a 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty and harbors US military troops and assets.  But Philippine pride and patriotism still permeate the Philippines political psyche.  There is lingering resentment among some elite regarding US treatment of its people and their culture during its nearly 50 years of colonial rule.  They are wary of neocolonial attitudes and approaches by the U.S. 

China has made remarkable political inroads since Duterte’s election.  It has responded to Duterte’s ‘friendliness’  by stepping up its trade, aid and foreign investment, particularly for Duterte’s favored infrastructure projects. 

Although the U.S. and Duterte’s  opposition warn of a China debt trap that could undermine Philippines’ sovereignty and independence, China’s foreign investment is still small compared to that from Japan and the U.S. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-07-25/china-s-24-billion-promise-to-duterte-still-hasn-t-materialized

China also gained an advantage with Duterte when the U.S.  criticized Duterte’s extra judicial war on drugs enraging the government. China tacitly supported the effort. The historic visit of China President Xi Jinping in November and an agreement to try and agree on joint development in areas claimed by both are, in China Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s view like “a rainbow after the rain” regarding China-Philippine relations. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/19/world/asia/xi-jinping-rodrigo-duterte-philippines-china.html

China’s successes have stimulated a renewed effort by the U.S. and its Philippine sympathizers to preserve what is left of the US soft power advantage there.  There is a convergence—coincidental or not—between Philippines opponents of the democratically elected Duterte and some nationalistic US analysts.

Indeed, in America there is growing concern that Duterte’s volte-face marked a tipping point in the decline of US soft power influence on Asia.  Max Boot, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, has concluded that Duterte’s renovated foreign policy “is a potential disaster” [because] “China could either neutralize this vital American ally, or even potentially turn the Philippines into a PLA Navy base _ _.” http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-wp-philippines-comment-f3cf30b6-97ad-11e6-bb29-bf2701dbe0a3-20161021-story.html

Patrick Cronin and Richard Javad Heydarian published a piece in The National Interest entitled Presidents Donald Trump and Rodrigo Duterte Have Obscured the True Significance of the U.S.-Philippines Bilateral Alliance.”

Their views are typical of US conservatives and reflect in part a neocolonial perspective on the history of U.S.-Philippines relations and in part a refusal to recognize reality. They extol the Philippines rating as “the most pro-American nation on earth” seemingly confirming that they approve of and want to maintain the Philippines subservient position in the relationship. 

But Duterte and his supporters defy this perspective. Recently he reportedly said ‘ the Philippines is tied to a mutual defense treaty with the United States, which [is the main concern that ] keeps it from telling the Western superpower to stay away’. https://businessmirror.com.ph/duterte-to-push-for-coc-in-the-south-china-sea-at-all-costs/ He also said that”_ _ the threat of confrontation and trouble in the waterway came from outside the region” meaning primarily the U.S.  https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/2173174/south-china-sea-asean-beijing-continue-work-towards-code

Another example is Heydarian’s latest take on the China-Philippines relationship https://asia.nikkei.com/Opinion/Philippines-China-after-the-rainbow-more-rain which is consistent with his and others’ earlier opinion pieces, particularly those published by staff and affiliates of Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies. https://www.cnas.org/publications/commentary/this-is-how-america-and-the-philippines-can-upgrade-their-alliance ; https://ippreview.com/index.php/Blog/single/id/644.html

Heydarian seems to think that Xi Jinping’s visit to the Philippines—and indeed, Duterte’s policy of rapprochement with China– have been a failure. He postulates that “fear of political backlash in the Philippines where large numbers are opposed to any resource-sharing agreement with China” contributed to the failure to reach a concrete agreement to move ahead with joint development.  He also highlights the Philippines military’s skepticism of China’s intentions and its resistance to “Duterte’s efforts to dilute military ties with the U.S.”  But this is only one side of the story. Another faction of the politically aware think the democratically elected President in pursuing a more neutral foreign policy has made the right choice for the country and its long suffering poor.

In sum, the Philippines political elite is sharply divided on Duterte’s foreign policy vis a vis China and the U.S. This has provided opportunity for both to become involved in Philippine domestic politics—directly or indirectly –supporting different factions. This dichotomy could lead to violent internal conflict.  Moreover, the Philippines may be only one of many countries in Southeast Asia and eventually elsewhere like Africa where domestic politics become influenced and then inflamed by the US-China struggle.

This piece first appeared in the South China Morning Pos

*Mark J. Valencia, Adjunct Senior Scholar, National Institute for South China Sea Studies, Haikou, China

t https://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/united-states/article/2178767/could-philippines-fall-victim-us-china-proxy

Eurasia Review

Counterintelligence from Michael_Novakhov (50 sites)


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Counterintelligence from Michael_Novakhov (50 sites): Eurasia Review: Fears From An Afghan Woman Remembering Childhood – OpEd

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I was just five-years-old when Taliban took control over Kabul. Since I was very young, I only remember glimpses of the first years. However, the killing of former president Najibullah the same year, on Sep 28. 1996, the demolishing of the two Buddha statues in Bamiyan in the spring of 2001, and the 9/11 attacks are vivid and clear as if they happened yesterday.

The killing of Dr. Najibullah (ruled from 1987-1992) was one of the first cruel acts Taliban did as they announced their new administration in Afghanistan. He was beaten senseless, shot, dragged through the street and hanged at a traffic pole along with his brother. Thousands of people witnessed the barbaric act. Taliban placed cigarettes in his hands to make him appear as a drug addict. This was the earliest cruel act, and Taliban had not started their strict rules yet. We still had access to TV, and could watch the images. My mom was really sad. First, I concluded from my mom’s reaction that he was our relative, but later on I found out that he was previous president of Afghanistan. Although all my family tried to stop me from watching the scene shown on TV, I managed to see him. His blue clothes were turned red from spilt blood as he was hanging there.

It was my first experience on a long journey of fear.Taliban did serious damages to the country and the Afghan society during their rule (1996-2001), but perhaps the most serious and disturbing changes were sanctions towards women.

Burqa and breakdown of self- esteem

My mother used to work at the Kabul University science center. She was soon asked to stay at home and wear a burqa whenever she left the house. Although female civil servants and teachers received wages for a short period of time after the ban, my father soon had to start working more and harder as the sole breadwinner of the family.

Wearing the burqa was a difficult task. It is hard to see through those tiny holes. The first year, many women came home with bruises, including my aunt who broke her ribs after falling down in a water drainage. My mother needed to wear glasses, and to combine those with wearing the burqa was a daily challenge. However, the most difficult issue for her, was that her identity was reduced to nothing more than a walking ghost, looking like covered by a sack. Women had no freedom of movement outside the house, as they could only venture out if they had a male escort, a mahram.

If women were found outside without mahram they were beaten. Often, my sister and her friends managed to run from the control patrols of Taliban called Amr-i-blmaruff (who were to prevent sin and promote virtue), but they were not always all lucky. In the first summer of Taliban control, they were chased by Taliban. They split and my sister had taken shelter in a random home. Later that day I saw the red marks of flogging on my mother’s cousin’s back. She had been punished for the ‘crime’ of not having mahram and not wearing thick socks. She was crying, cursing Taliban, and her mother was dressing the wounds. Women were banned from riding a motorcycle or bicycle, even if they had a mahram. I never learned cycling, although it was one of my deep wishes.

Women were also banned from going to general hospitals, after Taliban took control. Only one hospital in Kabul offered a women ward. Male doctors were forbidden to touch the bodies of female patients. One brave woman, Dr. Souhaila Seddique, was the head of that hospital. She and her sister are said to be the only women in Kabul who did not wear a burqa during the Taliban reign.

There was a ban on women wearing high-heeled shoes. No man should hear a woman’s footsteps, in case they would excite him. Women were banned from speak loudly in public, as no stranger should hear a woman’s voice. All ground and first-floor residential windows were painted over or screened to prevent women from being visible from the street. Photographing or filming of women was banned, as was displaying pictures of females in newspapers, books, shops or at home. Later, any kind of pictures was forbidden even in the homes. Any names of places that included the word “woman” were changed. For example, “women’s garden” was renamed “spring garden”. A ban was introduced on women’s presence on radio or at public gatherings of any kind. Women were simply not present, rather they were prisoners behind the dark walls of their homes.

Education- the impossible dream

Taliban abandoned women from studying. Girls older than eight years were not allowed to study. My elder sister was about to join 10th grade and I was about to start school when Taliban ruled Kabul in 1997. I remember my sister crying day and night, since her dream of becoming a doctor now seemed to be impossible. For a short period, the whole family broke down, but soon my mother sent my sister to Mazar-e-Sharif, in Balkh province, which did not come under Taliban rule until 1998. For my education different options were discussed including dressing me as boy. Since I did not like shorter hair than the bob cut, I denied to wear boys’ clothes and feature as the main character of the movie Osama (Bacha posh).

A second option, since I was just seven years old, was to study at a madrasa. I was sent to such a religious school. At six o’clock in the morning, we had to be present there. We would study till eight in the morning and then leave and come back for the science lessons at one o’clock in the afternoon. On the first day, I was told that my clothes were not proper: I was not allowed to wear jeans, and my scarf should be longer. In morning we mostly studied religious books and in the afternoon, some science was taught, but by the same teacher. For the purpose of having a proper school curriculum, which would include all kind of subjects as literature, sciences, arts.

I soon started going to a secret home school. We use to put our books in a Quran sheet, and I acted as if I was going to the madrasa, but still the risk of being caught by the Taliban was always there. In period of five years I changed home school more than ten times. Through this journey, I had teachers who had no instructional education and who would insult and beat students. This also happened at the madrasa. Still I was happy to obtain some kind of education, and for a young child like me the whole situation was too complicated to analyze back then.

Taliban occupied Mazar-e-Sharif, and my sister’s dream of education again risked being forgotten forever. Most families in Afghanistan married their daughters off at an early age, as there were few alternatives for them. My mother started working for Care international. She use to build secret home schools and spent her salary to send my sister to Pakistan for further education.

The mindset that changed

After the first two years of Taliban rule, the mindset of the society had changed. Now the new dominant values were those which Taliban believed in. Going to home schools and getting out of home were not only seen as crimes by Taliban, but by many citizens as well. There was a clear difference between the values of my family and those of many in the society outside. Of course, I believed my parents were right, as any other child would. To defend their points of view, I turned a bit aggressive, as a tomboy always on guard to defend myself, even in front of Taliban. I must have been around seven years old, I was playing in front of our home, when a ‘Talib’ threatened me to go home or he would beat me with a cable he held in his hand. I turned back and answered: do you think you can beat me because you have a cable? Get the hell out of here, or I will bring our video player cable and beat you till death.

Later that night, my father was informed by neighbors that I was taking about the fact that we had a TV and a video player at home. He was angry and told me it could have been a big problem for the family. Thus, I learned as a seven year old how to hide secrets in order to survive.

The light of hope

After Taliban were driven out of Kabul, I started my education in a more proper way, and my sister came back to Afghanistan. My mom started working again. Breaking the burqa tradition and starting to learn at a foreign language learning center took some time. After all, Taliban had damaged the mindset of a whole generation of Afghans. Women started their struggle for liberation, a frustrating still ongoing fight where your enemy is most of the time inside your own family. Your elder or younger brother might have joined a madrasa and become a follower of Talibanization.

Afghanistan is not the same today as it was 16 years ago. More women do understand their rights; many are educated and highly ambitious. Although women are only at the beginning of a long struggle for their rights, they are determined and progressing. It is a fight to be won by changing the societal mindsets about women. This needs time and is a slow and inclusive process.

The peace talks and concerns

The United States have sent Zalmay Khalilzad as a Special envoy to ‘invent’ a solution to end the ‘war against terror’ in Afghanistan in less than 12 months. The Trump administration seems determined of ending the costly war to add to the list of his presidential achievements and to take credit for this in the upcoming 2020 election campaign.

Representatives of Taliban joined meet the US officials recently and talked around peace issues in Afghanistan. Taliban have before as well asked for withdrawal of foreign forces and to suspend the constitution of Afghanistan. A variety of views and assumptions are identified, particularly distinguishing between the young generation and the traditional elites in Afghanistan about an unclear future, not least including women rights. The dissuasion inside the Afghan government as well seems to be not inclusive and women are absent in most of the decision-making consultation. In a recent twitter post Shahrazad Akbar founder of Open society foundation and women right activist wrote “Men. Men. And more men. Well, at least both meetings have one thing in common: Excluding women when it comes to discussions about the future of this country. Not very different from Taliban on this aspect.”

Women in Afghanistan are far from certain as to how much history will repeat itself with this such a peace agreement. If it happens, will the peace bring a fundamentalist Islamist generation with it to blend into the modern new Afghan educated young progressive society? If yes, what are the efficient methods, strategies for social integration of an extremist group to a new and progressive modern Afghanistan?

*Hasina Shirzad is a journalist from Afghanistan

Eurasia Review

Counterintelligence from Michael_Novakhov (50 sites)


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1. World from Michael_Novakhov (22 sites): FOX News: Arrests in Morocco backpacker beheadings foiled ‘terrorist plot,’ investigators reveal

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The arrests of nine more men in connection to the beheadings of two Scandinavian backpackers in Morocco foiled a “terrorist plot,” investigators revealed Sunday.

FOX News

1. World from Michael_Novakhov (22 sites)


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The FBI News Review: “fbi criticism” – Google News: Bangladesh says foreign election observers welcome, rejects US criticism – Free Malaysia Today

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December 23, 2018
“fbi criticism” – Google News: Bangladesh says foreign election observers welcome, rejects US criticism – Free Malaysia Today
ACLU Defends Chelsea Manning But Silent About FBI Raid Against Reported Clinton Whistleblower – The Daily Caller
Trump’s AG pick told DOJ that firing Comey isn’t obstruction of justice – Brinkwire
Transcript released from James Comey’s second closed-door testimony – Yahoo News

“fbi criticism” – Google News: Bangladesh says foreign election observers welcome, rejects US criticism – Free Malaysia Today

FBI from Michael_Novakhov (25 sites)
Supporters of the ruling Bangladesh Awami League take part in an election campaign rally during the general election campaign in Dhaka. (AFP pic) DHAKA: Bangladesh said on Sunday it had approved 175 foreign observers for next weekend’s national election, dismissing US criticism for failing to secure accreditation for a US-funded monitor.
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ACLU Defends Chelsea Manning But Silent About FBI Raid Against Reported Clinton Whistleblower – The Daily Caller

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8:27 PM 12/23/2018 | Investigative Group Richard Pollock | Reporter Liberal civil liberties groups that defend whistleblowers have remained silent about an FBI raid on a reported whistleblower.
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Trump’s AG pick told DOJ that firing Comey isn’t obstruction of justice – Brinkwire

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(CNN) – Former Attorney General William “Bill” Barr, President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Justice Department, reached a decisive and controversial conclusion that Trump’s interactions with ex-FBI Director James Comey would not constitute obstruction of justice, according to a copy of a newly released June 2018 memo to senior Justice officials.
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Transcript released from James Comey’s second closed-door testimony – Yahoo News

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Transcript released from James Comey’s second closed-door testimony  Yahoo NewsComey testified before a House panel about 2016 FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private emails; Peter Doocy reports from Capitol Hill.
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The FBI News Review


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Global Security News from Michael_Novakhov (27 sites): 1. US Security from Michael_Novakhov (86 sites): Eurasia Review: Trump’s Midterm Electoral Defeat And Syria Withdrawal – OpEd

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Donald
Trump’s abrupt decision to withdraw American troops from Syria was reportedly
made during a telephonic conversation with the Turkish President Erdogan on
December 14, before President Trump made the momentous announcement in a Tweet
on Wednesday, December 19. The decision was so sudden that even the Turkish
president was caught off-guard, according to a December 22 Associated Press report [1] by Matthew Lee and Susannah
George.

Clearly, an
understanding has been reached between Washington and Ankara. According to the
terms of the agreement, the Erdogan administration released the US pastor
Andrew Brunson on October 12, which had been a longstanding demand of the Trump
administration, and has also decided not to make public the audio recordings of
the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, which could have implicated another American-ally
the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in the assassination.

And in
return, the Trump administration has given a free hand to Ankara to mount an
offensive in the Kurdish-held areas in northern Syria, though for the time
being the Turkish president has delayed the offensive against the Kurds until
the nitty-gritty of the deal is settled in a planned Trump-Erdogan meeting in
Washington in January.

The reason
why the Trump administration is bending over backwards to appease Ankara is
that President Erdogan has been drifting away from Washington’s orbit into the
Kremlin’s sphere of influence. Turkey, which has the second largest army in
NATO, has been cooperating with Moscow in Syria against Washington’s interests
since last year and has placed an order for the Russian-made S-400 missile
system, though that deal, too, has been thrown into jeopardy after Washington’s
recent announcement of selling $3.5 billion worth of Patriot missile systems to
Ankara.

Regarding
the murder of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in
Istanbul on October 2, more than anything it was the timing of the
assassination and the political mileage that could be gained from Khashoggi’s
murder in the domestic politics of the United States that prompted the
mainstream media to take advantage of the opportunity and mount a smear
campaign against the Trump administration by publicizing the assassination.

Jamal Khashoggi
was murdered on October 2, when the US midterm elections were only a few weeks
away. Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner in particular have known to
have forged close business relations with the Saudi royal family. It doesn’t
come as a surprise that Donald Trump chose Saudi Arabia and Israel for his
maiden official overseas visit in May last year.

Thus, the
corporate media’s campaign to seek justice for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi
was actually a smear campaign against Donald Trump and his conservative
political base, which is now obvious after the US midterm election results have
been tallied. Even though the Republicans have retained their 51-seat majority
in the Senate, the Democrats now control the House of Representatives by
gaining 39 additional seats.

Clearly, two
factors were mainly responsible for the surprising defeat of the Republicans in
the US midterm elections. Firstly, the Khashoggi murder and the smear campaign
unleashed by the neoliberal media, which Donald Trump often pejoratively
mentions as “Fake News” on Twitter, against the Trump administration.

Secondly,
and more importantly, the parcel bombs sent to the residences of George Soros,
a dozen other Democratic Congressmen and The New York Times New York office by
Cesar Sayoc on the eve of the elections. Although the suspect turned out to be
a Trump supporter, he was likely instigated by shady hands in the US deep
state, which is wary of the anti-establishment rhetoric and pro-Russia
tendencies of the so-called “alt-right” administration.

Moreover, on
November 29 President Donald Trump abruptly cancelled a planned G20 meeting in
Buenos Aires with the Russian President Vladimir Putin. Although the ostensible
reason for cancelling the meeting cited in Trump’s tweet was a recent naval
standoff in which the Russian forces had seized three Ukrainian ships, the real
reason was a report published in The Guardian two days before the event on
November 27.

In the
article titled “Manafort
held secret talks with Assange in Ecuadorian embassy
” [2], the author of
the report Luke Harding alleged that Donald Trump’s former campaign manager
Paul Manafort had held secret talks with Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian
embassy in London in 2013, 2015 and in March 2016, and several months later,
WikiLeaks released a stash of Democratic emails allegedly stolen by Russian
intelligence officers.

Although the
report was dubiously sourced and its author lacks credibility, Paul Manafort
had already accepted a plea deal. If he goes a step further and accepts the
charges leveled against him by The Guardian – which is quite likely since
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is already applying immense pressure on Manafort
by alleging that he has violated the terms of his plea deal by lying – this
scandal has the potential of stirring up a political storm which might
eventually culminate in initiation of impeachment proceedings against Donald
Trump for colluding with a foreign government to steal the 2016 US presidential
elections.

This is the
reason why President Trump was apparently advised by his close aides to keep
maximum distance from the Russian President Putin until the dust settles down
on the Manafort-Assange affair.

Notwithstanding,
it would be pertinent to note here that regarding the Syria policy, there is a
schism between the White House and the American deep state led by the Pentagon.
After Donald Trump’s inauguration as the US president, he had delegated
operational-level decisions in conflict zones such as Afghanistan, Iraq and
Syria to the Pentagon.

The
Secretary of Defense James Mattis and the former National Security Advisor H.R.
McMaster represented the institutional logic of the deep state in the Trump
administration and were instrumental in advising Donald Trump to escalate the
conflicts in Afghanistan and Syria.

They had
advised President Trump to increase the number of American troops in
Afghanistan from 8,400 to 14,000. And in Syria, they were in favor of the
Pentagon’s policy of training and arming 30,000 Kurdish border guards to patrol
Syria’s northern border with Turkey.

Both the
decisions spectacularly backfired on the Trump administration. The decision to
train and arm 30,000 Kurdish border guards infuriated the Erdogan
administration to the extent that Turkey mounted Operation Olive Branch in the
Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin in northern Syria on January 20.

Remember
that it was the second military operation by the Turkish armed forces and their
Syrian militant proxies against the Kurdish-held areas in northern Syria. The
first Operation Euphrates Shield in Jarabulus and Azaz lasted from August 2016
to March 2017.

Nevertheless,
after capturing Afrin on March 18, the Turkish armed forces and their Free
Syria Army proxies have now set their sights further east on Manbij, where the
US Special Forces are closely cooperating with the Kurdish-led Syrian
Democratic Forces, in line with the long-held Turkish military doctrine of
denying the Kurds any Syrian territory west of River Euphrates.

Thus, it
doesn’t come as a surprise that President Trump replaced H.R. McMaster with
John Bolton in April; and in a predictable development on Thursday, James
Mattis offered his resignation over President Trump’s announcement of
withdrawal of American troops from Syria, though he would continue as the
Secretary of Defense until the end of February till a suitable replacement is
found.

It bears
mentioning that unlike dyed-in-the-wool globalists and “liberal interventionist”
hawks, like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, who cannot look past beyond the
tunnel vision of political establishments, it appears that the pacifist
isolationist Donald Trump not only follows news from conservative mainstream
outlets, like the Fox News, but he has also been familiar with alternative news
perspectives, such as Breitbart’s, no matter how racist and xenophobic.

Thus, Donald
Trump is fully aware that the conflict in Syria is a proxy war initiated by the
Western political establishments and their regional Middle Eastern allies
against the Syrian government. He is also mindful of the fact that militants
were funded, trained and armed in the training camps located in Turkey’s border
regions to the north of Syria and in Jordan’s border regions to the south of
Syria.

Quoting the
retired US Brigadier General Anthony Tata on Thursday, Donald Trump tweeted: “General
Anthony Tata, author, ‘Dark Winter.’ ‘I think the President is making the exact
right move in Syria. All the geniuses who are protesting the withdrawal of
troops from Syria are the same geniuses who cooked the books on ISIS
intelligence and gave rise to ISIS.’”

Under the
previous Obama administration, the evident policy in Syria was “regime change.”
The Trump administration, however, looks at the crisis in Syria from an
entirely different perspective because Donald Trump regards Islamic jihadists
as a much graver threat to the security of the United States than Barack Obama.

In order to
allay the concerns of Washington’s traditional allies in the Middle East,
Israel in particular, the Trump administration has conducted a few cruise
missile strikes in Syria, but those isolated strikes were nothing more than a
show of force to bring home the point that the newly elected President Donald
Trump is an assertive and powerful president, but behind the scenes President
Trump has been willing to cooperate with the Syrian government and its backer
Russia in order to defeat the Islamic jihadists who were portrayed as “moderate
rebels” by the mainstream media.

Finally, up
until now Donald Trump was playing softball with the Pentagon and the foreign
policy bureaucracy, but after the humiliating defeat in the US midterm
elections and clear hand of the deep state and corporate media in it, Trump has
apparently decided to play hardball. This is the reason why he has announced
the withdrawal of 2000 American troops from Syria, and the decision to scale
back American presence in Afghanistan by 7000 troops is reportedly also in the
offing.

Eurasia Review

1. US Security from Michael_Novakhov (86 sites)

Global Security News from Michael_Novakhov (27 sites)


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Global Security News from Michael_Novakhov (27 sites): 1. US Security from Michael_Novakhov (86 sites): Eurasia Review: The Misuses Of History: The Christmas 1914 Truce – OpEd

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All memorialised events, when passing into mythology, must be seen critically. In some cases, there should be more than a hint of suspicion. The Christmas Truce of 1914 remains one sentimentalised occasion, remembered less to scold the mad mechanised forces of death led by regressive castes than to reflect upon common humanity.

Common humanity, left to be butchered before the next grand stratagem, is the first casualty of the war room and, in many cases, parliaments. These are places where commemoration ceremonies are drafted and encouraged; they are also the places where the common soldier is left for ruin.

The Christmas Truce of the First World War arose out of a blood-bathed irony: the troops from both sides, Allies and German, were not meant to be slaughtering each other at that point. They should have been home to celebrate their respective victories or lick respective wounds. The diplomats and politicians could then celebrate what was meant to be a puerile skirmish waged in conditions more reminiscent of an old cavalry charge than mud-soaked death.

Pope Benedict XV, after his election on September 3, 1914, kept busy attempting to halt a war he deemed “the suicide of civilized Europe.” In December, he attempted, in vain, to persuade the belligerents to halt the murderous party, asking “that the guns may fall silent at least upon the night the angels sang.” This would be a prelude to discussions towards an honourable peace.

The sequence written about and recalled every year with the monotonous reflection of a prayer goes something like this: Stille nacht, heilige nacht comes from the German side of the trenches at the Ypres Salient. (The Hun proved troublingly festive and did not seem up for the killing.) The British, initially wary, show interest. Shots are not fired. The First Noel comes in reply. “Then,” remembered a British soldier, “we started up O Come All Ye Faithful and the Germans immediately joined in singing the same thing to the Latin words of Adeste Fideles.”

The gestures were repeated along the Western Front in pockets of small “truces”. British, German and French soldiers, in open defiance of orders, went to No Man’s Land in a spiritual reclamation of sorts under the pretext of burying the dead. An economy of gifting came to the fore: tobacco and chocolate; beer and pudding; sausage and Christmas trees; badges and buttons. The Allies were astonished by the goods they could receive in the exchange: the German armies were, at that point, better supplied.

Then came the football matches, though the legend here is inflated. Socks wrapping a tin of bully beef, for instance, were substitutes for soccer balls. The scores at these matches remain a subject of conjecture, as do the matches themselves.

Peter Stanley of the University of New South Wales, when asked about the record in 2014, suggested that such matches would have taken place behind the respective lines of the soldiers, if, in fact, they took place at all. The papers of the day ran “pictures of the truces, with lots of photos of men smoking but no photos of soccer matches. So what does that tell you?”

But Stanley’s insistence does not withstand the accounts of some subalterns, who describe scenes, not of 10-a-side but “a question of 70 Germans against 50 Englishmen” involving a ball with an adventurous fate. In January 1, 1915, The Times received a letter from an anonymous major that an English regiment “had a football match with the Saxons, who beat them 3-2.” (At least, mused historian Gerard DeGroot, “it did not end in penalties.”)

The legacy of the truce is somewhat estranged. While it might well have been the last gasp of civility in modern warfare – if you fall for that notion that civility was ever a part of the killing business – the truce has become a matter of commercialisation and celluloid. There are films such as the 2005 French film Joyeux Noel. Then come the commodities.

Supermarket chains such as Sainsbury’s have found the prospect of making money out of the memory irresistible. A 2014 ad, specifically, was reviled and yet admired by The Guardian for its “startling array of emotional depth within a few short minutes” marked by “breathtaking” cinematography. Slaughter might be futile, fought in the name of obscene abstractions, but making money is as clear enough a mission as any.

The truce compelled Arthur Conan Doyle to deem it “one human episode amid all the atrocities which have stained the memory of the war.” But it remains an episode celebrated with lessons to be ignored. The classroom of history troubles the demagogues and political practitioners, as it did those war planners in 1914 alarmed by the loss of faith in killing shown by the truce makers. Political figures and generals could not; soldiers could.

In many instances, the participating units in question were relieved by fresh men untainted by the temptation of mutual respect. As the war wore on in all its barbarity, such truces became infrequent. The enemy had to be hated. Common humanity, so goes that most salient lesson of all, remains a common mineral to be exploited and manipulated rather than revered.

Eurasia Review

1. US Security from Michael_Novakhov (86 sites)

Global Security News from Michael_Novakhov (27 sites)


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Global Security News from Michael_Novakhov (27 sites): 1. US Security from Michael_Novakhov (86 sites): Eurasia Review: Indian Demonetization As A Geopolitical Conundrum: Demonetize The Indo-Nepal Relations? – Analysis

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It would not be an exaggeration in saying that the Indian demonetization has become a geopolitical conundrum. The crescendo of cordiality seems missing in the Indo-Nepal relations, if the cursory look may be given over the dynamics of recently happening of events in quick succession. The demonetization 2016 had created a lot of chaos and confusion in Nepal along with the positive and negative vibes.

Although, the Indian currency is not a legal tender in Nepal for the financial transactions, but the same is widely circulated and accepted in Nepal in general and Terai region, in particular, i.e., one-fifth of the state’s total monetary transactions.

Due to demonetization, about INR 950 crore was entrapped in Nepal. Out of frustration due to non- exchange of the demonetized Indian currency, Nepal has banned and declared illegal the Indian currency notes Rs. 200, Rs. 500 and Rs. 2000. The demonetization and banning by India and Nepal respectively have the connotation of geopolitical dynamics.

Indian Demonetization: Devil for Nepal

The Government of India (GOI) had announced the demonetization on 8 November 2016. The GOI had claimed the main objectives of the demonetization were to curb the black money; corruption; drug trafficking; human trafficking; circulation of counterfeit currency; integration of the formal and informal economies; the expansion and increasing of tax base and taxpayers; digitalize the economy; check the free flow of funds to the terrorists and radical groups etc. Although it was started with good objectives,it had left drastic impacts. Due to the scarcity of cash, the people had faced difficulties in depositing or exchanging the demonetized banknotes. It had also left indelible imprints on the various facets of the Indian economy including the small-scale industries. Some scholars and industrialists opined that the demonetization has helped in curbing the black money and accelerated the e-commerce. But on the other hand, the same also faced severe criticism on part of many scholars like Amartya Sen, Kaushik Basu, Prabhat Patnaik and Pronab Sen (Former Chief Statistician of India).

Due to the wider acceptability and circulation of Indian currency, Nepal has also been impacted very seriously by the Indian demonetization. India is the largest trading partner and the largest foreign direct investor in Nepal.

The Indian companies are the major investors and holding about 40% of the total FDI in Nepal. The tourism industry has an important place in the Nepalese economy given its contribution of 6-7% to GDP. Million Indian tourists used to visit Nepal every year and about 1.36 million had visited Nepal in 2017. Remittance is the backbone of the Nepalese economy (28.4 % of the GDP in 2017), and the same from India has been contributing significantly. A considerable number of Nepalese have been working in the Indian Army and paramilitary forces. Additionally, there are about 90,000 pensioners, and a considerable number of widows to be taken care of by India. Also, substantial numbers of Nepalese have been residing and working in India. In this background, the Indian currency is an important binding factor for both countries.

Suddenly declared demonetization, had put the Nepalese economy into turmoil, given the wider acceptability and circulation of Indian currency. Remittances coming from India got a serious setback. The people of Terai region used to use more Indian currency than other Nepalese for day to day needs, trade and another kind of transactions in India.

As per the report of The Himalayan (Feb 19, 2017), about 95 % of transactions along the Indo-Nepal border, used to take place in the Indian currency. Reuter has quoted the BMI Research that India’s demonetization had dragged down the growth rate of the Nepalese economy by seriously getting affected the trade, remittances and tourist numbers etc.

The Nepalese $21 bn economy has already been under stress due to earthquake (2015). Now, the Nepalese economy has faced a double whammy. BMI has forecasted that India’s demonetization could bring down Nepal’s growth down to 2.2 percent for this fiscal year to July 2017, from an earlier estimate of 2.5 percent.

Demonetizing the Bilateral Relations

The Indian currency has been remained an important place in Nepal’s economy, as the considerable number of people and workers are residing and working in the former. A number of people have been working in the Indian army, paramilitary forces etc. It means that demonetization one way or the other way had impacted the various facets of Nepalese people. Thus, there was a lot of pressure on the Nepalese government to take care of the money entrapped in the NRB and with the common Nepalese people.

Nepal economy is of the only size of US$ 21 bn and the trapped money is considered as a big amount for Nepal economy. It had become a serious political issue. During the last two years, the issue of demonetization and exchange of Indian currency entrapped in Nepal has been lingering on.

Bhattrai (April 10, 2018) has argued in one of his commentaries that Indian demonetization has become one of the serious bilateral irritants between India and Nepal. Nepali leaders and officials time and again urged the Indian government and officials of RBI to make arrangements for the exchange of Indian demonetized bank notes held by the Nepalese people.

In a meeting (March 2017) with the Nepal Rashtra Bank, the RBI had verbally agreed to allow every Nepal citizens to exchange up to the ceiling of INR 4,500. In this respect, NRB Deputy Governor (Chinta Mani Shivakoti) has expressed dissatisfaction and said, “But nothing has been communicated to us formally so far.” Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s visit to Nepal (March 2017), had assured the NRB and leadership of the country that very shortly RBI would make arrangements to sort out this problem.

During the state visit of Nepalese PM KP Oli, the issue did not find any place in the bilateral talks. Although, before his visit to India, PM Oli assured the Nepalese Parliament that the issue would be taken up with India counterpart, but it did not figure in the joint statement.

It was furthered cleared by Indian Foreign Secretary Vijaya Gokhale (8 April 2018) that, “This issue was not raised at any of the meetings.” During the reciprocal visit of PM Modi to Nepal, again the same issue was raised.

PM Oli said, “I requested Modi Ji to facilitate the exchange of demonetized currency notes held in the Nepali banking system and by the general public, at the earliest.” After waiting for a long period of two years, ultimately, the Nepalese government have not only banned the denomination like of Rs. 2,000, Rs. 500 and Rs. 200, rather directed its people not to keep or carry notes except Rs. 100.

The issue of exchange of currency, demonetized bilateral relations have become serious question for the policymakers and commentators. For eliciting answers of this question, a cursory look required to watch out the recent dynamics happened in the quick succession.

Being landlocked, Nepal is dependent on India but now wanted to be free from the same. It can be substantiated by some arguments like, Nepal’s strong support to Chinese OBOR initiative, China One Policy, diplomatic assurance like not to allow Tibetan to use its soil for anti-China activities, expanding strategic cooperation (Sagarmatha Friendship- Joint Military Exercise) and withdrawal from BIMSTEC Joint Military Exercise held in India etc.

Parashar (11 September 2018) argued that Nepal was not pleased with the Indian move to heighten the security and defence cooperation within the BIMSTEC, rather raised a question on the Indian stance over the BIMSTEC. The 19th SAARC has emerged as another irritant between both the countries.

While being interviewed PM KP Oli during his visit to India (April 2018) by the Time of India during , he said, “Everyone also knows that the SAARC Summit that was supposed to be held in Pakistan in 2016 has been postponed. Nepal, as the current Chair of SAARC, desires to see that we are able to revive the process. However, we are fully aware that this cannot happen unless every SAARC member desires so unanimously.”

The visit of Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal (The Ruling Communist Party of Nepal) to India and meeting with high ranking officials and fretting of India over the delaying in appointing ambassador since October 2017, have become post-demonetization bilateral irritants. The happening of these events in quick succession had resulted in mistrusts and distrusts between both the countries. The lingering impacts of the Indian demonization 2016 have further created a wide rift between both the countries. This argument is substantiated by the recent banning of high-value Indian currency notes by Nepal in December 2018.

Lingering of Exchange of Currency: Geopolitical Conundrum

During the last two years, the issue of exchange of currency has been lingering on. India’s slow and snail speed reciprocation had compelled the Nepalese Foreign Minister Prakash Mahat to state that “even before [the demonetization crisis], there were a lot of things which were not delivered […] but there was a special episode which put to test both sides [sic].”

As per the DNA report (15 December 2018), the decision of banning the Indian currency by the Nepalese Cabinet had taken place as the consequence of Indian government’s dilly-dallying over the request to exchange the old defunct currency notes worth Rs 950 crores. Nepal has also requested to increase the ceiling of Rs 4,500 per person to Rs 25,000 per person. Even this request is still pending. The fallout of the same has been experienced by the Nepalese economy, bilateral trade, the people working in India and moreover, tourism has been impacted seriously.

Resultantly, the Indo-bilateral relations passing through the thick and thins. During the last, one year, Nepalese mission in Indian is without an ambassadorial appointment, however, the same was made in December 2018. The tension between Indo-Nepal relations can be understood by the statement given the newly appointed Nepalese Ambassador Nilambar Acharya to India, who said, “although there is an open border between Nepal and India, the hearts of the two countries are yet to be opened. There is a need to create an environment of confidence as some kind of suspicion still persists in bilateral relations.”

Some media reports indicated that out of frustration caused by demonetization, pushed Nepal to China for economic and security cooperation. Leudi (January 29, 2017) has argued that India’s failure to address the concerns and apprehensions out of demonetization, had pushed Nepal to China for economic and security purposes. The economic uncertainties and upheavals given the demonetization had resulted in an erosion of confidence in the Indian currency on both sides of the border. If the crunch of currency persists in Nepal, it would be an opportunity for China to shift it away from India to use Chinese currency yuan in place of the Indian currency. If it happens, what would be the implications, needs serious rumination on part of Indian policymakers. How to keep the confidence not only of the Nepalese businessmen, traders, merchants, tourists, migrants, Nepalese workers in India rather the Nepalese citizens who keep their savings in cash in Indian currency at home, has become a serious question for the Indian government?

Although, the demonetization was done with good intentions, but the results have remained other way around. The economies, people and the bilateral relations have been put under strains. The ban imposed by Nepal seems that the neighbouring country has been losing faith in the Indian currency. Moreover, it has shoved Nepal to China. If the situation not improved and the reciprocation on part of Indian government remained in dilly-dallying mode, it is anticipated that the Chinese currency can replace the Indian currency in Nepal, which further cement the Sino-Nepal relations. Reviving confidence in Indian currency and solution of the exchange of currency may be taken care of by India in order to maintain cordial and friendly relations.

*Dr. Jaspal Kaur (AP), has been teaching Sociology in  the Regional Campus Jallundhar, Guru Nanak Dev University, Punjab (India)  and Dr. Bawa Singh (AP), has been teaching in the Department of South and Central Asian Studies, School of Global Relation, Central University of Punjab (India)

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A Canada goose and a ring-billed gull were recovering after they apparently swallowed random pills left at a park in Southern California.

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The death toll from a tsunami that hit the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra after the Anak Krakatau volcano erupted rose to at least 280 on Monday, officials said, as rescuers using heavy machinery and their bare hands searched for more victims.

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