The new president of Lebanon

March 17, 2014

Dear Reader,

Greetings and Good Day,

In an extremely fast world, where a 777 jetliner disappears or is diverted to unknown location, where a very divisive referendum might wreak havoc to EAST/WEST relations and where the Syrian crisis is exporting only refugees without any solution in sight, Lebanon is at the door step of electing a new president.

In fact after the approval of the Lebanese cabinet statement, it will win soon the confidence in parliament and this will project the short living cabinet to dedicate full energy to the national dialogue, the new electoral law, the sovereign fund for oil and gas, the devolution and other issues in public administration and the social networking.

The electoral law will be based on 128 plus 48 as explained in a previous post, the national dialogue will debate the defense strategy and the small amendments to the constitution enabling the president to call for early elections in case of a standoff.

The social networking will guarantee the worker for health issues and financial means in his pension, while devolution will delegate to the regions or “Mouhafazat” more powers.

The Lebanese parliament will require putting a mandate limit for the speaker and a possible rotation between the roles of the speaker and the PM can be envisaged while keeping the Lebanese formula of balance and equilibrium of 50/50 share in the public domain distribution and allocation of representation and assignments.
However the demographic change in Lebanon is true and the tripartite division required by the warring factions is correct in principle and its application can be on the financial attribution of the state funds to the regions based on 3 thirds, where also municipalities will have a mandate limit for the administrators in order to guarantee change and rotation.
For this principle of special Lebanese formula of coexistence, I see the reforms coming based on a mix of 50/50 in state administration and 3/3 in finances.
It is understood that the coming period will see a self decision by Hezbollah to withdraw from the Syrian crisis and that the Israeli / Palestinian talks will come to their last stage.
The US and RUSSIA will most likely find a way to compromise in UKRAINE based on some amendments and addendum and this will maintain the win/win approach, Putin might be a strong wolf, but he is no stupid .
Therefore a compromise is the outcome in Crimea.
So until an international solution is brokered in Syria, the Lebanese national interests need to be defined in the immediate, in 3 things: empower the state to protect its borders and citizens, reform the system in all its ramifications, and amplify the checks and balances of the informed citizenry.
Key in all this is the next presidential mandate and in my perception there are two options possible, both excluding the classic and traditional names being floated.
The two personalities that can fill the palace in my view are either a civil or a military. It is known that a military will need renewed constitutional amendments; in truth General Jean Kahwaji has excellent chances to gather consent and represent a fulcrum for the delicate interaction of different strategic players in the Lebanese arena.
I was never with a military option, and when President Suleiman was elected, I supported until the last second, the alternative of the MARONITE league’s president, at the time Mr. Joseph Tarabay.
Having learned from that experience I will support malgre’ moi , as a first option the military man, future president Kahwaji, and as a plan B, the civil option based on the actual president of the maronite league Mr. Samir Abi Lamaa, or better a last minute female candidacy represented by Mrs Nadine Moussa whenever she will reveal prompt to build on her excellent chances.
At last I will say that following the election of the new Lebanese president, a new cabinet will have to be formed to supervise the general elections and perhaps in June we will see it taking shape.

The P5 plus one will resume talks with Iran on the nuclear file and most likely observers will be considering the results of this path in a couple of months. As much as the chemical stockpile of Syria.

Thank you,


LAST CALL

March 13, 2014

Dear Vladimir,

Greetings and Good day,

It is unfortunate that time is running very short and that urgent decisions are to be made.
You will recall of course the famous Saturday when President Obama decided to resort to the congress to gain time and to exploit a diplomatic solution for the Syrian crisis.
That step was very courageous, and it is a similar step that I expect from you.

Vladimir, your strategy since you became a leader can reveal to build a new iron curtain and mortal blocs in Europe, or acquire a universal dimension in guidance.
Again this choice is yours and only yours.
I do realize that Russia has very important geo-strategic interests in Crimea and no one is refuting this, but transforming the state interest of Russia into a debacle, by spurring birth to renewed blocs is neither acceptable nor consequential on a strategic basis.
As you already know the Russian state budget has a break even related to Oil price of 110 USD and your Oil exports amount to approximately 35 % of the GNP, considering that the Chinese central bank assets are exceeding 15 trillion dollars ( badly scary) and that America is tapering and gaining leverage in energy autonomy, I don’t think this is time for you to play with fire.

I do recommend to orient your economy to manufacturing and to specialize in some industries such as nuclear reactors and alternative energy.
In an updated assessment of the International climate, I can easily say that the events in UKRAINE will affect the US military planning in the FY 2015/16, simply because the idea of the pivot rested in diverting assets from different locations, and divesting these also from Europe, will not be rendered entirely possible with the post referendum in Crimea.
Even if the US wants to have an introvert foreign policy, it is world affairs that do not commend.
So far it is clear that your strategy failed to bring within the Russian bear the Ukraine entity, and this quest is totally wrong, simply because Ukraine is much bigger than EAST TIMOR.
You played a hand and you lost, but now your reaction to stop the loss is very dangerous.

As you know, tomorrow Friday there will be a meeting in London between Secretary Kerry and Secretary Lavrov, and I think this is an excellent opportunity to seek an exit.
Simply back off Vladimir, from the referendum and the international community will do its best, by sitting on a table to negotiate options acceptable for all.
The referendum in Crimea will create a new iron curtain, and push Ukraine in the western embrace, while a negotiated option will prompt your relations with Ukraine to a better level than now, as a minimum.

You can’t lose in Ukraine twice ! Be brave .

Sticking to a forced referendum might well send European security in flairs and you know very well that entering eastern Ukraine is not a cake walk in a global positioning.
If it is true that Lyiv-Rus indicates undeniable ties between Russia and Ukraine it is also true that you need to show a stature of problem solving and not of a mafia god father.
The Ukrainian polity can look for solutions similar to Bosnia, Switzerland or Australia, if only you update your objectives and realize that revanchist purposes will generate loss for all.

A civil war will be negative for the global economy, already suffering , and this will translate in a deterioration of consumption, hence the prices of Oil will retreat even if Gold might gain to a certain extent, but definitely the US dollar will have a major benefit.

Vision is needed to start a new geopolitical environment, and your role is pivotal and essential, there can’t be a new definition of the new world order without your input, and you can either be a man of war or of peace.
Ukrainian politicians since 1992 were extremely bad to their nation, but not bad as an attempt to snatch some pieces of that country, against any logic and above all against the Budapest International agreement.
Vladimir, you and Yanukovych tried for many years to entice Ukraine into your sphere, but this failed, and you need to assume your responsibility now.

Don’t hide behind a referendum, change strategy and open your vision to change your economy and to cooperate in the design of world institutions, this is where Russia must stand, one of the world leaders.
In 3 days the world can change, I ask you to back off and I will be next to you in a renewed effort to make peace and secure the world. This is my last call.

We need to think about many other issues together, the Lebanese presidential election, the Syrian crisis, the Iranian nuclear file, the Palestinian state, European prosperity, Chinese growth, Indian economy, etc..

Thank you,


CRIMEA

March 7, 2014

Dear Reader,
Greetings and Good day,

In an objective effort to have a balanced view on events in Crimea, it is important to describe the ongoing so far.
It is no secret that a cold war opposed two blocks during the 20th century and it ended with the dissolution of the USSR.
This geopolitical major change established a new configuration in Europe and several independent states were declared. With the raise of President Putin in Russia it is unclear, if his final aim will be to reunite an old empire or to create a strong Russia and widen its influence on a basis of sovereignty and international law.
Following the second election of Mr. YANUKOVITCH to preside the Ukrainian nation/state, he committed together to his tutor in the Kremlin, an unforgivable error in positioning the interests of UKRAINE by shifting these interests, east only. The public opinion in Kiev rebelled and the fugitive YANUKOVITCH abandoned his state after mishandling the protest for more than 3 months.

A new government was declared in KIEV and this caused the rage of the new TZAR of the WORLD (GRANDPA” VLADIMIR). Having exerted much sport and cajoled next to him a strict circle of loyal and yes men, the best they
could come up with was to send troops to Crimea to defend the Geo-strategic and military interests of GRANDMA RUSSIA, having lost the battle of the state of UKRAINE.

The west is trying to catch up and countermeasures are already approved, to send about 20 F16 to patrol Baltic states, to train polish aerial teams, to mingle an antimissile cruise ship in the Black sea, to put a ban on visas and travel on certain personalities, to freeze assets on YANUKOVICH and other 17 Ukrainians in Europe and a presidential decree was signed to apply sanctions of different nature on individuals and entities involved in causing harm to UKRAINIAN SOVEREIGNTY.

The initiative so far, is in Mr. PUTIN hand clearly, but he is not responding to calls on moderation and seemingly the call of yesterday with the White House president didn’t bring about any result. Caught between a major loss in UKRAINE and a total loss at Home, Putin is trying to manage a situation which is already out of control. The anticipation of the announced and unconstitutional referendum of Crimea is a bastion of illegality and can be easily described a coup. So Putin is maneuvering tight now , although he still detains the initiative and the first row, his deafness to calls is absurd and demonstrates how dangerous the whole game is becoming.
There is a cult of personality divided between taking the world stage as a first actor, and the performance as an unforgettable Russian leader who brought safety but also grandeur to his nation.
Putin is alone, his counselors are not up to the task, and his determination and smartness as a commander should not be the only tool at his disposal. We need to reach out to him face by face, talk to him and continuously engage him on daily basis, he needs to be softened by small doses to get to the point that the world today is something diverse and different.

This from one side, from another side the UKRAINIAN government must preempt on a legal basis the Crimean referendum on justice courts and inside the national parliament. It is also important that the UKRANIAN army gives to the RED CROSS Choppers to transport supplies and non lethal equipment to the garrisons under siege, and include flying press trips on these bases.
This crisis in Crimea will have short, middle and long run effects, but while we will be working on new LNG routes to Europe it is also fundamental to face the incomplete puzzle of Putin in this first phase where he is having the initiative. Somewhere in time, perhaps in a month or so, after sanctions will be announced on a single person and one entity or sector (EUROPEAN conferences in RUSSIA), I think that the initiative line will be blur, and
emissaries from different provenance engaging Putin on daily basis, will generate checks and balances to an extremely fluid situation.

Obviously we need to be focused, patient, having a wide array of options at hand and never resorting to any military engagement in the UKRAINIAN theater, rather by heating up the east and south of Damascus from middle March; the bifurcate action, coupling diplomacy in East Europe and growing military pressure in Damascus will be retributive to achieve the goal of gaining the initiative and circling the Crimean crisis in a contour of rational perspective.
For now stabilizing the economy of Kiev, sending emissaries to Moscow, counteracting Putin’s moves by positioning military assets, approving bans and sanctions, but also on legal basis preempting the referendum and shuttling Red Cross choppers in the sky of Crimea, plus raising the costs of chemical non compliance in Damascus, will deliver eventually checks and balances and will blur the Russian initiative.
The best scenario is still to De-escalate and create the contact group and send in some observers, however thinking of a worst case scenario, clashes may erupt and a new geographic iron curtain may become reality, where UKRAINE will be put forcibly under American nuclear umbrella.
Time is against the best scenario, so hopefully emissaries will get Putin to realize the direction he is taking Europe to.
Will Putin calculate well the costs( including partial disruption after winter, of UKRAINIAN pipes in case of a civil war ) and benefits ( annexing CRIMEA a money taker !) of his moves ? or he is reckless, as he is not paying from his own pocket ? but only willing to revive an old conflict based on boundaries totally modified .

Thank You ,


DEAR SECRETARY KERRY

March 4, 2014

Dear Reader,

Greetings and Good day,

“An international crisis is a crisis between states. It involves “a sequence of interactions between the governments of two or more sovereign states in severe conflict, short of actual war, but involving the perception of a dangerously high probability of war”.[1] ” WIKIPEDIA

Following the visit paid by the Israeli PM to the white House, and the approaching of the April deadline, to announce a mechanism, to move forward in the long lasting conflict with Palestine; observers are keen to dig deep to understand what will be the next step the Israeli public will be looking for.
The two states solution is the only option possible to open the frontiers of the Middle East and to derail the jockeying of the Iranian rhetoric vis a’ vis this ARAB and Islamic issue par excellence.

In Crimea it seems that the troops of Russia will dig deep also, until a political solution will emerge. Seemingly events will end here, as daily life requirements will take place. How milk and wheat will be distributed in Crimea? Who is responsible in case of a civil problem between two civilians and which authority will debate the issue? Which currency will be used in Crimea in April and June? Who will regulate the education system and the NGO‘s work to support civil causes? Will Crimea depend on direct Russian supplies and donations to survive and at what cost for RUSSIAN STATE SAFES. ? How much did Russia paid so far in Ruble and stock markets and in prestige and moral authority?
We need to distinguish the rage of Putin from the next steps ahead. Putin’s rage was a parenthesis of a week or so, but now a serious phase will start.
From above we can easily understand that the Russian intervention in Crimea, which positively didn’t create significant physical damage or harm, was reduced so far to affirm some strategic interests only, and to endure it will need a legal system, a frame work of agreement and an international recognition.
Hence in my view, once long term Russian interests shall be debated extensively in a sort, the entire structure of this short crisis will end.
The first result of the UKRANIAN crisis is that the political plan of PUTIN to include the independent nation of UKRAINE in its designs faded. The second result is, that caught in his own trap, Putin could only resort to military moves to stop the losses and he had to up the ante, to have a better hand in negotiations with the WEST.
How to move forward from here? Obviously all efforts need to concentrate on establishing the status quo ante preceding the Russian military deployment. But to get to this, the WEST needs to address the fears of RUSSIA and to talk to PUTIN (a leader we know) about the role of RUSSIA in the World. A spoiler? or a power for stability and economic growth and universal rights?
Today Secretary Kerry will be in KIEV, I think he can easily send a strong message to the KREMLIN for talks, and he can ask Secretary LAVROV to meet him tonight in CRIMEA in a joint effort based on personal bonds (We all remember the boxe of potatoes and the big smiles in GENEVA) where they can have a diner and some chats and tomorrow take a plane together to PARIS to attend the conference for LEBANON.
It is not the time yet for sanctions to or to cancel the G8, Putin knows very well, that he is now in a dire strait and he needs the WEST and a reasonable UKRAINE to help him sort out a solution.
The only way out is to find a creative element of thought, where the classic strategic options based on SALT talks ANTIMISSILE SHIELDS or impeding RADARS to be installed is not a long term option, yet only small steps leading nowhere. This is the 21 century.
RUSSIA must know that it needs the USA and that the US will be there to adjust errors and shortfalls to help defuse tension and grow the economy and the universal rights and peace for all.

If he only read my last letter to him, President PUTIN would have thought trillion times before acting this way, instead he lost billions of dollars so far.

Any way don’t worry MR PUTIN, we will help you out of this mess.

“In simplest terms, negotiation is a discussion between two or more disputants who are trying to work out a solution to their problem.[1] This interpersonal or inter-group process can occur at a personal level, as well as at a corporate or international (diplomatic) level. Negotiations typically take place because the parties wish to create something new that neither could do on his or her own, or to resolve a problem or dispute between them.”
http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/negotiation/

Thank You,