The frail health of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has set off a power struggle in Tehran that may derail the nuclear deal which he must ratify. Continue reading
BERLIN/WASHINGTON/MOSCOW (Own report) – The EU and USA have expanded their sanctions against Russia and – in addition to individuals – have now also placed important Russian companies on their lists. Washington has restricted dealings, for example, with Rosneft and the Gazprombank. Brussels has announced the possibility of preventing EU companies from doing business with Russian companies and is planning to list them by the end of July. German business circles are protesting. They have already suffered billions in losses. Experts are warning that, with its sanctions against Russia, the West may experience, in the economic arena, an overreach similar to that experienced by the US in the military arena with its war on Iraq. With the power of the West obviously waning, it has already become noticeable that even close allies are defecting. Observers explain this with the Crimea conflict: NATO countries had been unable to retain the Crimea within the reign of its allied Ukrainian government; therefore it seems that an alliance with NATO countries would no longer be a reliable assurance against ones enemies. Defections can be noticed in Asia and Latin America, not least of all because of the recent founding of the BRICS development bank, rivaling the US-dominated World Bank. Russia and China are among the founders of this bank. Continue reading
Russia has applied more and more pressure on its former satellites to join its proposed Eurasian Union. Lithuania, which is keen to forge new ties with the EU, is also coming under increasing powerful pressure.
Russian customs-bullying of Lithuania is part of a bigger power struggle. The Kremlin is geared itself towards obstructing the European Union’s Eastern Partnership policy and forcing Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia to forsake any attempt to get close to Europe, instead seeking to push these countries back under Moscow’s rule via the so-called Eurasian (customs) Union. Continue reading
In a growing sign of how twitchy the Chinese government is as the Communist Party prepares for its leadership transition this year, the country’s military has been warned to prepare for an “ideological struggle.”
A commentary in the top official military newspaper, Liberation Army Daily, said the People’s Liberation Army must “resolutely resist the incursion of all kinds of erroneous ideas, not be disturbed by noise, not be affected by rumors, and not be drawn by undercurrents, and ensure that at all times and under all circumstances the military absolutely obeys the command of the Party central leadership, the Central Military Commission and Chairman Hu,” Reuters notes.
The call comes as the government struggles to tamp down persistent rumors of instability, or even a violent power struggle, at the very top of government. Last month, the Internet in China lit up with rumors of a coup, as stories ricocheted around social media sites like Sina Weibo that tanks and armored cars had taken to the streets in Beijing and other major cities.
Full article: PLA Must “Prepare for Struggle” (The Diplomat)
Amidst the alleged coup that took place in China, here is a quick list of who’s who in today’s Chinese movers and shakers (click link for pictures):
Current paramount leader of Chinese Communist Party.
Promoted for persecution in Tibet.
To be replaced by Xi Jinping.
Allied with Premier Wen Jiabao.
Argued against Bo Xilai’s promotion to vice premier during 17th Congress.
Wants to reform CCP.
Next Chairman, current VP, vice chair Central Military Commission
Unaligned, tolerated by both factions but was possible target for overthrow by Bo Xilai and Zhou Yongkang.
Former Head of Chongqing Municipal Public Security Bureau
Attempted to defect while at the U.S. Consulate Feb. 6.
Rumored to have betrayed Bo to Hu-Wen faction, possibly leading to Bo’s arrest.
Former leader of communist party
Is said to be the real No. 2 of the Standing Committee. Helped further Bo Xilai’s political career.
Secretary of Political and Legislative Affairs Committee.
Rumored to have been recently purged. Hard-liner and ally of Jiang; rose through persecuting Falun Gong.
Former Chongqing party secretary
Ally of Zhou and Jiang, once a possibility for Standing Committee, recently purged and arrested. Rose through persecuting Falun Gong.
Full article: Major Players in Beijing Power Struggle (Epoch Times)