There are at least two European nations who remember that when it gets cold in the winter, there is one country they call to provide the natural gas they need for heating.
One of them is Germany, which realizing that any strike on Syria would further jeopardize its relationship with the Kremlin, said that it will not join any military strikes against Syria in response to the alleged chemical gas attack on an opposition enclave which Russia claims was a “white helmet” false flag, but all too diplomatically supports Western efforts to show the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable, Chancellor Angela Merkel said.
“Germany will not take part in possible – there have not been any decisions yet, I want to stress that – military action,” Merkel said according to Reuters after meeting Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen in Berlin. “But we support everything that is being done to show that the use of chemical weapons is not acceptable,” she added.
Of course, Merkel could have simply said “we are happy to do anything except whatever puts us on Putin’s black list: the rest of you can do that.”
Meanwhile in Dublin, Germany’s new Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Germany expects to be consulted before any Western allies conduct an attack on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces as the allies must be united on the matter.
Earlier, Merkel spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron about the suspected gas attack and expressed her concern that the international community’s ability to ban chemical weapons was eroding, her spokesman said. Norbert Roettgen, chairman of the German parliamentary foreign affairs committee and an ally of Merkel’s, said: “Shamefully, there is still no policy from the EU – or even individual EU states – for the Middle (East) countries.
“If it came to military strikes with the participation of France and Britain, that is still not a policy.”
Amusingly, instead of focusing on the nature of the schism between Germany and its allies, Europe’s most powerful nation deflect to the lack of a coherent European policy on the matter: an easy excuse in a continent in which there is virtually no cohesion on any matter:
Roettgen urged the European Union to develop a policy for the Middle East as a whole, adding: “Germany should work together with others for a Middle East peace conference. We have various diplomatic options to not let the topic rest.”
He called for a “step-by-step approach”, which could start with humanitarian access in Syria. “The situation is so burdened with multiple conflicts that one can only proceed gradually.”
Asked about such a conference, Merkel told reporters: “We know a lot of things are linked in the Middle East, no question, but now we must urgently deal with a situation where there is a lot of evidence that the Syrian regime again used chemical weapons.”
Another option floated by Germany would be to use what oil-importing leverage Europe has over Iran to pressure Syria. Roettgen said Europe could talk to Iran in connection with its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which Trump has criticised as “the worst deal ever negotiated”.
Iran needed to understand that its economic prospects would be constrained if it “pursues a permanent bellicose expansion of power,” he said, adding Turkey should be told “there cannot be a warrant for warfare in Syria.”
In other words, Europe would stop importing Iranian oil (for Euros) if Tehran refused to betray its Syrian friends.
“But there is no country – neither the U.S. nor a European country – that is taking the initiative. That’s the shameful thing about Western politics,” Roettgen said.
China Readies Drills To ‘Simulate An Invasion Of Taiwan’
China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has launched a six-day, live-fire military exercise in the East China Sea in a region that simulates an invasion of Taiwan, a move military strategist believe will send a powerful message to the United States over relations with Taipei.
Geopolitical intelligence analysts told the South China Morning Post that the exercise is part of Beijing’s effort to increase military readiness and defend the “one China” policy, under which leaked documents specify Beijing has asecret plan to invade Taiwan by 2020.
The exercise began on Wednesday at 8:00 am and is expected to conclude at 6:00 pm on July 23. All non-military vessels are prohibited from entering the designated live-fire drill area and must follow the guidance of guard ships to ensure safety, stated a public notice released by Zhejiang Maritime Safety Administration on Monday.
The exercise’s coordinates below provided by the administration shows the drill spans from the shores of Zhoushan, East China’s Zhejiang Province to sea areas east of Wenzhou, also in Zhejiang Province.
The exercise is intended to warn the “Taiwan independence” forces, Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
“The drill’s main objective is to send a serious warning to Taiwan separatists,” Song said.
An unnamed military expert also told the Global Times on Tuesday that parts of the East China Sea will be “the main battlefield” if a conflict breaks out in the future.
“The PLA Air Force and Navy have been frequently conducting island encirclement exercises. The drill this time will add up and form a military deterrence of high pressure against the Taiwan separatists,” according to Song.
Trump Appreciates Navy Grads By Shaking All Their Hands
ou usually don’t expect commencement speakers to stick around long after the speech is over, especially not when the speaker is the president.
However, when the venue is the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, things are a bit different. And, when the president is Donald Trump, things are a lot different.
In fact, he not only stuck around to shake hands with each and every grad following his commence address on Friday, he actually asked them whether he could do it.
“I was given an option. I could make this commencement address, which is a great honor for me, and immediately leave and wave goodbye,” Trump asked the audience. “Or I could stay and shake hands with just the top 100. Or I could stay for hours and shake hands with 1,100 and something. What should I do? What should I do?”
Well, stay, of course. And stay he did.
During the speech itself, the president gave a rousing tribute both to the graduates themselves and to the American spirit.
“Four years ago, each of you made the most important decision of your lives,” the president told the graduates. “You chose the path of hard work, sweat, and sacrifice. You chose the life of honor, courage, and commitment. You chose to serve the nation and defend our great American flag. You chose the Navy, blue and gold, from the first moments of induction day.”
China Is Circling Taiwan In Military Drills
Zerohedge Reports: It is an uncomfortable time for Taiwan. China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) began a dangerous “island encirclement” war drill around the country, which on Friday saw bombers and fighter jets simulating strikes on Taiwanese targets for the first time. It seems as Beijing will not wait for reunification; it wishes to intimidate the island into submission beforehand.
It is an uncomfortable time for Taiwan. China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) began a dangerous “island encirclement” war drill around the country, which on Friday saw bombers and fighter jets simulating strikes on Taiwanese targets for the first time. It seems as Beijing will not wait for reunification; it wishes to intimidate the island into submission beforehand.
China’s air force carried out an operation in its eastern and southern theaters, dispatching bombers and reconnaissance planes around Taiwan on Friday. It was the first time for Su-35 fighter jets to fly over the Bashi Channel in formation with H-6K bombers, a spokesperson said. (Source: People’s Daily, China)
Defense experts told the South China Morning Post that China’s military would increase pressure on Taiwan, with more war drills designed to send a warning message to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and her ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
“To reinforce the warning to Tsai Ing-wen’s administration, the mainland military would conduct targeted joint operational drills involving ground forces, the navy and the air force to strengthen its presence in the Taiwan Strait,” Song Zhongping, a former member of the PLA’s second artillery corps, the rocket wing’s predecessor.