This week the world press talked, a lot, about issues we usually warn about in our weekly reports: the tendency, denounced by the UN Secretary General, of the war in Libya to become an open war between powers or the danger of clashes between the navies of the US and China in the South China Sea as well as in the Taiwan strait. That is why in this report we will focus on new developments that have been pushed to the background by the media but are no less important or dangerous.
The foundation stone of a Chinese block
The global press this week celebrated China’s “exit from the crisis”. Today a yearly growth of 3.2% in the second quarter of 2020 looks like a dream for most national capitals. It suffices to compare increase of 0.5% of exports in June compared to June 2019 in China with the fall of German exports month after month to highlight the power of Chinese capital against its rivals and understand the “it is time to make China retreat” coming from Pompeo. And yet, if we look at the labor market, it tells a completely different story.
China may accelerate the launch of Hainan island as an alternative Hong Kong, but in the end, all their hope for the new free port is that it will revive tourism and domestic consumption. Access to the global capital market and the transformation of the yuan into a global currency have been seriously jeopardized by the US sanctions. So China feels a greater urgency than ever to get out of its borders, find solvent markets and place surplus capital. In other words, the imperialist drive is stronger, more urgent, even more critical, for Chinese domestic capital now than it ever was before the pandemic.
And it keeps thinking in terms of Belt and Road (New Silk Road), that is, in terms of a set of investments ordered around a series of continental trade corridors which project Chinese industrial development towards the West balancing the coast as the source of external demand. This is not so easy, neither in terms of internal development nor in terms of pure geostrategic logic in an era of global proliferation of conflicts.
It is on that road to the East that the idea of an Asia-Mediterranean corridor under Chinese influence emerged this week. First sign: China would be replacing the U.S. as the boss in Iraqi Kurdistan. Second signal: Iran is leaving the Suez Canal and using alternative routes while reinforcing its positions in Syria despite Israeli pressure and attacks. That is to say, Iran re-arranges its supply and commercialization lines by prioritizing land-based routes to the East… and the Mediterranean.
China, on the other hand, tries to organize a front of states opposed to the sanctions against Iran when it has been five years since the rupture of the nuclear agreement relying on the opposition of the EU to the sanctions of the USA.
More importantly, it would be pressuring the powers-that-be in Iran to sign a secret alliance agreement giving them unrestricted access to Iranian ports and military bases for 25 years. China in return would invest $400 billion in developing Iran’s oil, gas and transportation infrastructure, getting a 32 percent discount over 25 years on its purchases of Iranian oil, gas and petrochemicals. Among the details of the agreement confronting the different sectors of the bourgeoisie and the Iranian political apparatus, the deployment of 5000 Chinese soldiers to protect their investments. An extra element: Russia would be interested in joining, as a minority, the agreement.
If it moves forward and goes from negotiation to agreement, it would be the foundation stone of an imperialist bloc around China. We would definitely be in a new phase of the imperialist world conflict.
The Caucasus and Turkey
As long as Turkish imperialist policy is oriented towards Blue Turkey, that is towards the expansion and economic exploitation of the now Greek and Cypriot waters in the Eastern Mediterranean, it will need to gain bases in North Africa and the level of contradiction with Russia’s strategic interests will keep increasing.
However, the recurrence of the conflict over the Nagorno Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan places both states on the same front again. So far media and analysts have been relatively confident that the conflict would not escalate again. However, the Baku government’s announcement this morning that it will continue military action and the quick dismissal of the foreign minister yesterday accused of meaningless negotiations with Armenia point to a growing danger. If we add to that the continued media presence of the Turkish Ambassador in the Azeri news seamlessly supporting the military actions and the use of drones by the Azeri army very similar if not the same, as the Turkish ones that were decisive in Libya … it would seem that Turkey is interested in using the fragile Caucasian truce to discourage the US from further involvement in Libya in aid of France revealing a scenario of rapprochement with Russia and China.
This week’s revolts in Mali which ended in a fragile compromise between the parties and the immediate preventivegovernment crisis in Chad, speak of an escalation of tensions between Russia and France over the political control of the governments of the Sahel. Everything is happening in a framework of contradictory alliances – France and Russia are allies in Libya against Turkey -, impotence of European military intervention and extension of diffuse war beyond the region. This same week, the militarization of Northern Burkina Faso was declared.
The danger of an extension of the war from the interior of the Sahel in all directions, connecting the fragile continental situation with Libya, the Middle East and Southern Europe is growing. The key: Egypt, getting closer and closer to taking the step its allies are asking it to take and invade Libya. But also to engage in armed conflict with Ethiopia on account of the African Renaissance Dam.
The failure of the negotiations between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt has been followed by the first signs of the filling of the dam, mentioned rather than refuted by the Ethiopian government. Egypt has on numerous occasions promised an immediate military response if the filling was verified without prior agreement.
Imperialism is not a game
Imperialism is not a game. All these efforts, advances, alliances that each state organizes in defense of its national capital, do not take place on a cardboard table or in the unreality of a fantasy series. They leave a massive trail of very real deaths, sowing famines that are no less real and driving the massive pauperization of the workers in each country. Just yesterday the report on poverty in Spain during 2019 was presented. Before the pandemic, during the supposed prosperous period, 4.2 million people were already in severe poverty, of which 1 million were active workers, in employment.
No, imperialism is not an adventure game taking place in exotic landscapes and control rooms where the level of abstraction makes hunger and blood invisible. It is the daily life of our lives and the threat it poses to us. It is the universal day-to-day life of a capital that cannot find enough markets to give free rein to accumulation and destroys the capacities it organizes socially, the main one of them being us, labor power.