News Dump Sunday: Iran's influence is growing Edition

Now we know why Russia has been buying drones from Iran.

According to US officials, Iran may soon receive the cutting-edge Russian-made Su-35 Flanker-E aircraft in exchange for providing arms to support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
According to the officials, Iranian pilots received Sukhoi Su-35 training in Russia in the spring, indicating Iran may start acquiring the aircraft within the following year.

Iran hasn't had a real air force since the Shah was in power. While this won't put them on equal footing with Israel, but they will be able to maybe defend themselves.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby on Friday cited U.S. intelligence assessments for the allegations, saying Russia was offering Iran “an unprecedented level of military and technical support that is transforming their relationship into a full-fledged defense partnership.”
Kirby said Russia and Iran were considering standing up a drone assembly line in Russia for the Ukraine conflict, while Russia was training Iranian pilots on the Sukhoi Su-35 fighter and Iran could receive deliveries of the plane within the year.

While NATO has succeeded in dividing Russia from Europe, it's helped push Iran and Russia together. Also, Iran has been extending its influence elsewhere.

Sanctions-hit Iran is consolidating its hold over neighbouring Iraq, an economic lifeline where pro-Tehran parties dominate politics, all to the chagrin of the United States, experts say.
...After a 2003 US-led invasion toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, Iran's influence has grown through political links among both countries' Shiite-Muslim majorities.

Pro-Iran parties now dominate Iraq's parliament, and in October they named a new prime minister following a year-long tussle with their Shiite rivals.

Iraq has become an "economic lifeline" for Iran, said Ihsan al-Shammari, a political scientist at the University of Baghdad.

Iran's influence can also be seen through its links with Iraq's Hashed al-Shaabi, a former paramilitary force made up mainly of pro-Iran militias that have since been integrated into the regular forces.
Its representatives are part of the Coordination Framework parliamentary bloc, which controls 138 of the legislature's 329 seats and is made up of pro-Iran factions, including that of Maliki.

Russia has pivoted hard toward China.

Russian gas now can reach eastern China’s Yangtze River Delta, as a new section of the east-route natural gas pipeline between the two countries came into operation on Wednesday.
...The new pipeline will increase the natural gas supply capacity of the Yangtze River Delta region to about 50 million cubic metres (1.77 billion cubic feet) per day, alleviating the reliance on imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) along the route, the company said. State broadcaster CCTV reported that the daily capacity had been 30 million cubic metres.
...Signed in 2014, the contract between China National Petroleum Corporation and Russia’s Gazprom to supply gas via the pipeline was estimated to be worth US$400 billion over 30 years.

Finally, the results are coming in from Brexit, and they are very not good.

Two in three Britons believe Brexit has gone badly, a poll has found – the highest level of negativity since Boris Johnson’s trade deal come into force at the start of 2021.

Some 65 per cent of voters think Brexit was going badly and only 21 per cent said it is going well, the latest Opinium survey found

It's not just people's opinions. It's hard numbers too.

According to one study, UK exports fell by more than 20%, compared to a projection of what they would otherwise have been, in the first 15 months following the post-Brexit trade deal with the EU. Imports from Europe have bounced back, but exports haven’t.

Investment flattened after the referendum in 2016 then dropped during the pandemic—by more than in Europe or the US. It’s recovering slowly, but is still lower than it was six years ago.
...Johnson’s overriding goal was to “get Brexit done." Now the government is similarly fixated on making Brexit a success— by rushing to devise questionable or ill-conceived policies as proof of its benefits. The government casts its thinking on “Big Bang 2.0," a proposed new round of financial deregulation, as a source of Brexit dividends. One such idea—loosening the rules on ring-fencing banks’ retail activities—has little to do with Brexit, apart from the branding.

Brexit is hurting poor people the worst - usually the same people who voted for Brexit.

This week’s research by the London School of Economics (LSE) found that, thanks not to the war in Ukraine or the pandemic or “global factors”, but explicitly to all the extra red tape incurred by Brexit, the cost of food imported from the EU added a total of £210 to the average household’s grocery bill over 2020 and 2021: a 6% increase in that period.
Because poorer families spend a larger share of what little they have on food, that £210 Brexit levy has hit them disproportionately hard....
It’s not as if there isn’t enough food to go around. An estimated 7bn meals went to waste this year, with farmers citing Brexit – and the resulting shortage of fruit and veg pickers – as a key factor. The National Farmers’ Union found some 40% of its members had lost crops because they didn’t have enough people to bring in the harvest. Those shortfalls used to be met by seasonal workers coming in from the continent, but Brexit has shut them out – and so perfectly edible food is left to rot....
If you’re running a small business that used to be able to get a product into, say, the Netherlands in two days and now finds it takes 21 days, then you get why the number of trade relationships between the UK and EU has fallen by a third – and you understand why the Office for Budget Responsibility calculates that Brexit alone will make Britain 4% worse off. That 4% translates into roughly £100bn less cash generated each year, £40bn less tax revenue – and therefore £40bn less spent on schools, hospitals and all the things we collectively, and desperately, need.
21 users have voted.


I don't remember seeing anyone talk about this.

The International Space Station is no longer the only place where humans can live in orbit.

On Nov. 29, 2022, the Shenzhou 15 mission launched from China’s Gobi Desert carrying three taikonauts – the Chinese word for astronauts. Six hours later, they reached their destination, China’s recently completed space station, called Tiangong, which means “heavenly palace” in Mandarin. The three taikonauts replaced the existing crew that helped wrap up construction. With this successful mission, China has become just the third nation to operate a permanent space station.
In December 2023, China is planning to launch a new space telescope called Xuntian. This telescope will map stars and supermassive black holes among other projects with a resolution about the same as the Hubble Space Telescope but with a wider view. The telescope will periodically dock with the station for maintenance.

China also has plans to launch multiple missions to Mars and nearby comets and asteroids with the goal of bringing samples back to Earth. And perhaps most notably, China has announced plans to build a joint Moon base with Russia – though no timeline for this mission has been set.

12 users have voted.

@gjohnsit @gjohnsit

I seem to remember CB talking about it previously. In fact the first portion of it was launched in 2021.

Tiangong is a space station that the Chinese Manned Space Agency (CMSA) is building in low Earth orbit. In May 2021, China launched Tianhe, the first of the orbiting space station's three modules, and the country aims to finish building the station by the end of 2022. CMSA hopes to keep Tiangong inhabited continuously by three astronauts for at least a decade. The space station will host many experiments from both China and other countries.
China has said it will take 11 launches to finish Tiangong: three module launches, four crewed missions and four Tianzhou spacecraft to supply cargo and fuel. The first three launches — Tianhe, Tianzhou 2 and Shenzhou 12 — have gone smoothly.

7 users have voted.

some history

Less known, however, is that in January 1991, as the USSR was disintegrating, the Crimean regional government decided to hold its own referendum on restoring the autonomy of Crimea. 

Nearly 84 percent of registered voters participated in this referendum, and 93 percent voted for Crimean sovereignty. This opened the door to potentially separating Crimea from both the USSR and the Ukrainian SSR, thus potentially allowing it to join the new Union Treaty then being proposed by Mikhail Gorbachev as an independent member. 

On February 12, 1991, the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian SSR (its main legislative body) recognized those results.
On May 5, 1992, the Supreme Soviet of the ACR effectively declared total independence from Ukraine and announced a new referendum to be held in August 1992. The Ukrainian parliament declared Crimea’s independence illegal and authorized President Kravchuk to use any means necessary to prevent it. After a two-week stalemate, the Crimean parliament rescinded its declaration of independence in exchange for a negotiated devolution of power from Kiev to Simferopol.
The crisis was averted, but only temporarily, since it did not deal with the core issue — the desire of a large portion of the Crimean population to be part of Russia rather than Ukraine. It therefore resurfaced in 1994, when Yuri Meshkov and his “Russia Bloc” party won the presidency of Crimea on a platform advocating reunification with Russia. Again, an incipient crisis was averted on March 16-17, 1995, when Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, after consulting with his Russian President Boris Yeltsin and receiving his support, sent Ukrainian special forces to arrest the Crimean government. Meshkov was deported to Russia, and, that same day, the Rada abrogated the Crimean Constitution and abolished the Crimean presidency.
...Anatoly Karlin has conveniently compiled a list of 30 public opinion surveys taken between 1994 and 2016. Twenty-five show Russophile sentiment at over 70 percent, and five at 25–55 percent. One of Crimea’s foremost sociologists, Natalia Kiselyova, says that the percentage of Crimeans who “yearned for Russia” between 1991 and 2014 was always greater than 50 percent, while the percentage that favored Crimean regionalism was never less than 55–60 percent. 

14 users have voted.
Cassiodorus's picture

-- and that didn't work out. It only took 45 days to figure out that she was a non-starter, too. So now the same people who thought Liz Truss would be awesome are going to try to think of a way out of the mess she made worse.


9 users have voted.

"The cost of sanity in this society is a certain level of alienation." -- Terrence McKenna

I said that the EU would be a catastrophe because the bigger the political organization the more money and power it takes to control it - but the greater the profits of doing so. Thus the bigger the more hostile to the everyday citizen and the greater the kleptocracy and authoritarianism. The more arbitrary powers will punish people if they should dare to attempt to better or just defend themselves.
It took fifty years, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, and Klaus Schwab to show how much I was right, but I think I'm about due for a victory lap.

8 users have voted.

On to Biden since 1973

lotlizard's picture

That fact alone will eventually make Brexit feel like a good thing.

Presumably, the UK didn’t fight Big Bad Adolf only to knuckle under to “Nurse Ratched” Ursula.

8 users have voted.

@lotlizard The UK already takes direction from the USA on wars and other neoliberal projects, so they won't be missing much. The EU is a very large trading partner and the UK has to abide by a lot of their rules or they can't export to the EU, so Brexit wasn't a complete divorce.

7 users have voted.