Key Trends Shaping Our World
The Middle East-
Today’s polls show Israeli PM Netanyahu slowly but steadily losing ground and Bibi is in a desperate situation trying to contest an election while facing a corruption indictment.
Hamas is slowly ratcheting up the pressure towards the one year anniversary of the present weekly demonstrations on March 30 “Land Day.” On March 30 Hamas plans a “million-man march,” which might actually involve a 100,000 or more person march on the border fence, and Bibi could well begin the long planned Gaza operation and general Mideast war before the April 9 Israeli elections.
Bibi needs to be elected so that as prime minister with popular backing he could negotiate a plea bargain by offering to plead “No Contest” and pay a fine to avoid prison.
If war breaks out before April 9, the elections could be postponed.
There is also the possibility that elections could be held on schedule with no war breaking out first, and that neither side would be able to establish control over the necessary minimum 61 seats to form a governing coalition. In that case a second round of voting might be needed some time later after the long planned conflict.
The situation is very complex with many possibilities therefore precise timing is impossible to call.
While all eyes are fixed on the US troop reduction in Syria, the Pentagon has been quietly building up its forces in the three main US bases in Western Iraq: Tallil Air Base at Nasiriyah in the south, Ayn al-Assad in Anbar and K1 near Kirkuk, because Iranian backed Shia militia are waiting to attack the US Iraqi bases once open war erupts in the region.
With this buildup in Iraq it is conceivable that the US will not withdraw as many troops from Syria as quickly as announced.
At this time a bombardment ahead of the Syrian offensive against the Idlib terrorists is underway; and as it builds Israel is preparing to destroy the militias in Gaza and then pivot to the northern front.
A peace making Israeli governing coalition will take control and enter a genuine dialogue for peace in the near future. Once Gaza is pacified the Palestinians will also need elections to form a government which can make a peace agreement.
Europe- Volodymyr Zelensky increases lead in Ukraine elections. A Zelensky win would bring Ukraine talks and accommodation with Russia. There is likely to be a second round Ukraine vote in April after the March elections and the most likely winner at this time is Zelensky, who is promising an end to the pervasive corruption in Ukraine. Zelensky is also promising to begin direct negotiations with Russia to pivot Ukraine away from NATO and the EU towards once again joining the Russian sphere.
Brexit- The British parliament could insist on a delay in leaving the EU from March 29 to June 30, but key EU nations like France indicate that they would likely not approve any delay due to the entrenched positions and the hopelessness of reaching a deal. In either case Britain will soon leave the EU and the British and Americans are feverishly preparing the ground for expedited trade talks.
Robert Lighthizer, and the US Trade Representative’s office (USTR).could formally start fast track negotiations with Britain in as few as 30 days.
The US and the UK will work to “build on progress” already made in talks related to regulatory cooperation during the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations, the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and the ongoing US-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC).
The United States laid out its objectives for a trade deal with the United Kingdom that would “ensure fair and balanced trade, cut tariff and non-tariff barriers for U.S. industrial and agricultural goods and reduce regulatory differences.”
The talks will be under the “fast-track trade negotiating authority law, and will seek to boost trade between the two countries by eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers,” announced the U.S. Trade Representative’s office. A quick deal with the US has become a major priority after trade talks with Japan hit snags.
With the US and Britain drifting away from the EU on one side and Ukraine on the other and May’s EU elections with a new EU government taking over on July 2, pressure will be building by some for a New Federal Europe to rise outside of the present EU.
This Roman Catholic, Franco, German project, will ultimately require the intervention of a charismatic Pontiff to bring it to life. There is a possibility that all of these things could work out by the end of 2019, but it is also very possible that it will take until late 2020.