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  • 01 Jan 2018
    Military & Political Trends Of 2017 That Will Shape 2018 Via Southfront.org, 2017 presented the world with a number of crises, among which were the continued wars in the Middle Ease and the spread of terrorism, the humanitarian crises in Africa and Asia, the rising military tensions over North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs, and the militarization of both the South China Sea and eastern Europe. Throughout the past year regional and global powers have repeatedly been on the verge of open military conflict, any of which may yet still lead to large regional wars. In the Middle East the war on ISIS, the Iran nuclear deal, the crisis in Lebanon, and Israeli-Arab tensions took center stage. By the end of the year, the self-proclaimed caliphate of ISIS had fully collapsed in both Syria and Iraq. Thanks to the efforts of the alliance between Syria, Iran, Russia, and Hezbollah, along with the Iraqi forces and the US-led coalition, this group was driven out from almost all of the areas it had held in the two countries. ISIS has lost control of such strategic locations as Mosul, al-Qaim, Raqqah, al-Tabqah, Deir Ezzor, al-Mayadin, al-Bukamal, as-Sukhna, Deir Hafer, Maskanah, and al-Resafa. ISIS, in form of a terrorist state, does not exist more. However, this does not mean that Syria and Iraq will face calm soon. There are still lots of ISIS sleeper cells and former ISIS supporters in these countries, a Syrian al-Qaeda branch (now known as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham) controls Idlib, and the Kurdish-Arab tensions are smoldering in northern Syria and Iraq. These issues cannot be ignored and will become an important part of the post-ISIS standoff in the region. Now, Russia, the US, Turkey, Iran and Syria are increasing their diplomatic activity in order to find a way, which could allow work to start on developing a final political settlement of the crisis. They all have objective limits to their influence on the ground and some contradictory goals. This complicates the situation, especially amid a lack of strategic vision from the US which, according even to American experts, has no long-term strategy for Syria. The US elites and their Israeli and Saudi counterparts are especially dissatisfied with the strengthened position of Hezbollah and Iran. Following the defeat of ISIS, the US-led bloc began attempting to use those areas of Syria held by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces to limit the influence of the Damascus government and its Iranian and Russian allies. Another flash point in this conflict lies within the province of Idlib, now mostly controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. Within the framework of the agreements reached by Syria, Iran, Russia, and Turkey in the Astana format, a de-escalation zone should now have been established in this area. However, this is hardly possible while Hayat Tahrir al-Sham remains the main powerbroker in this location. Despite the defeat of ISIS and the partial withdrawal of Russian forces, Syria will remain a battleground in this regional military and geo-political standoff in 2018. Militarily, the Iranian-Russian-Syrian alliance will continue to focus its efforts on reducing the influence of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in the province of Iblib. These efforts will include launching a series of limited military operations against Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, and further developing counter-insurgency efforts against ISIS. On the diplomatic stage, the different sides will continue to work on developing a political solution to the crisis. Meanwhile, the United States finds itself in a complicated situation: on the one hand, it cannot officially accept Assad’s government as a participant in the negotiations, while on the other hand the US has scant leverage to influence the situation. Thus, the White House will try to increase its efforts to divide Syria through supporting the separatist intentions of the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), as well as the armed ‘opposition’ groups in the region. The goal of such a strategy is to build a ‘de-facto’ independent entity within Syria. Additionally, the US could make either direct or proxy attempts to assassinate Assad and his inner circle. Iran will likely further strengthen its influence within Iraq after establishing a land route linking Teheran, Baghdad, Damascus, and Beirut. This so-called ‘Shia Crescent’ will become reality despite stiff opposition from both Israel and its allies. Watch for Washington to play the Kurdish card to counter Iran’s growing influence in both Iraq and Syria. In addition, the US could also attempt to split the ranks of the Popular Mobilization Units by separating individual groups from the larger organization. Such an action could be done with the use of mass bribes, as was done with some generals of the Iraqi Armed Forces during the Iraq War. The military victory over ISIS in Syria dramatically escalated tensions between Israel and the Iranian-backed forces of Hezbollah. At present time, Israel’s top political leadership is in the state of outright hysteria regarding the Lebanese movement. Senior Israeli officials have repeatedly claimed that Israel will not allow Hezbollah and Iran to concentrate its forces in border areas and to expand their influence in the region, particularly in Syria and Lebanon. The already difficult situation in southern Lebanon and Syria was further complicated by the series of events, which contributed to the growing tensions in the region in November and early December. It started with a resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri announced from Saudi Arabia on November 7, continued with Saudi accusations of military aggression through missile supplies to Yemen against Iran and rose to a new level on December 6 when US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital sparking further escalation. Some experts also said Israel, Saudi Arabia and the US are conspiring to start a new war in the region. In this light, a series of military exercises, including the biggest one “The Light of Dagan”, was described as a part of the preparations for armed aggression against Lebanon. The recent developments in the Middle East, including the nearing end of the conflict in Syria and the growing influence and military capabilities of Hezbollah, have changed the political situation in Lebanon. Hezbollah units de-facto fulfil functions of the presidential guard. Lebanese special services and the special services of Hezbollah are deeply integrated. Hezbollah’s victories in Syria and humanitarian activities in Lebanon increased the movement’s popularity among people. Tel Aviv believes that the growing influence of Hezbollah and Iran in the Middle East, particularly in Syria and Lebanon, is a critical challenge to its national security. The key issue is that Israeli military analysts understand that Hezbollah is now much more powerful than it was in 2006. Now, Hezbollah is a strong, experienced, military organization, tens of thousands troops strong, which has the needed forces and facilities to oppose a possible Israeli ground invasion in Lebanon. Iran has also strengthened its positions in the region over the last ten years. It has reinforced its air defense with the Russian-made S-300 systems, strengthened its armed forces and got combat experience in Syria and other local conflicts. Tehran also strengthened its ideological positions among the Shia and even Sunni population which lives in the region. Considering these circumstances, initial expert opinions indicate that Israel would decide to participate in a large-scale conflict in Lebanon only in the case of some extraordinary event. However, the growing Arab-Israeli tensions and the tense Israeli-Hezbollah relationship are moving this extraordinary event ever closer. Nonetheless, Israel will continue local acts of aggression conducting artillery and air strike on positions and infrastructure of Hezbollah in Syria and maybe in Lebanon. Israeli special forces will conduct operations aimed at eliminating top Hezbollah members and destroying the movement’s infrastructure in Lebanon and Syria. Saudi Arabia will likely support these Israeli actions. It is widely known that Riyadh would rather use a proxy and engage in clandestine warfare. All these took place amid the developing crisis in Saudi Arabia where Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had launched a large-scale purge among the top officials, influential businesspersons and princes under the pretext of combating corruption. According to the experts, the move is aimed at consolidating the power of the crown prince and his father, King Salman. In general, the kingdom is seeking to shift its vector of development and to become a more secular state. In 5-10 years, it can even abandon Wahhabism as the official ideology. At the same time, Saudi Arabia is involved in an unsuccessful conflict in Yemen and a diplomatic crisis with Qatar. This situation fuels tensions and a competition for resources among the Saudi clans. As a result, the Saudi regime and the Saudi state in general, are now, in a weak position. These are the key reasons why Saudi Arabia prefers to avoid an open participation in new conflicts. Additionally, there is always a chance, that for example of conflict in Lebanon, the main combat actions could be moved to the Saudi territory. Russia and Iran are also not interested in this “big new war” as well because such a conflict in the Middle East will pose a direct threat to their national security. During the coming year we can expect to see both Israel and Saudi Arabia continuing their diplomatic and military efforts to deter Iran and Hezbollah. Riyadh will continue its efforts to turn Yemen into a puppet state, but is unlike to achieve any notable successes, leaving the Houthis and their missile arsenal as a constant threat to Saudi Arabia. Israel and Saudi Arabia will also continue their building of a broad anti-Iranian coalition, with the support of the Trump administration, while Israeli forces will continue conducting their limited military operations against Hezbollah targets in Syria and Lebanon. In general, the chances of a new regional conflict will remain high. In this already unstable environment, the current US policy remains as one of the key destabilizing factors in the region. The recent US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as well as the hostility towards the Iranian nuclear deal continue to fuel tensions between the Israeli-Saudi and the Iranian-Hezbollah blocs. The current US administration continues with America’s consistent pro-Israeli and anti-Iranian policies in the region, inspiring both Israel and Saudi Arabia to embrace more active policies as well. As a result of this growing US support, the Israeli military stands ready to implement active military responses to any action taken by Hamas, Hezbollah, or any of the other regional players whom Israel considers a threat to its wide range of national interests. While the odds are low of the Trump administration being able to abort the Iranian nuclear deal, the mere fact that such attempts continue does little to contribute to peace in the region. The fact remains that Washington fuels the new cold war and perhaps even a potential hot war in the Middle East. We may expect that during the coming year Iran will continue to increase its influence in the region by using the war in Yemen, and its strengthened positions in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon to counter its opponents. In addition to its military efforts on the ground, Teheran’s main strategic focus will likely be the development of military and economic relations with both China and Russia. During 2018 we may also expect that Iran will pay special attention to the modernization and reformation of its armed forces. In Egypt, the security situation remains complicated, especially in the North Sinai. Following the defeat of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, remnants of the terrorist group have spread across the region with a number of them arriving in the peninsula. While the Egyptian Army and security forces have conducted a number of operations to eradicate terrorist cells in the area, militant activity remains high there, fueled in part by trafficking to Gaza. In addition to the remnants of ISIS in the North Sinai, Egypt faces continuing challenges along its border with Libya. Following the NATO intervention in that country in 2011, the Libyan government and social structure have been all but destroyed, with multiple factions battling each other for control over both the trafficking and oil business. The rapidly developing relations between Russia and Egypt have been overshadowed by the more prominent relationships between Russia and Syria, as well as Russia and Iran. Nevertheless, the Russia-Egypt relationship deserves closer scrutiny because, unlike the country’s relations with the other two Middle Eastern powers, it concerns a country that until recently appeared to be firmly in Western orbit. The abrupt shift of its geopolitical vector toward Eurasia therefore represents a far bigger change for the region than Russia’s successful support of the legitimate Syrian government, or the close relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran, both of which have been on the Western “enemies list” for decades. The reasons for this shift are twofold, and have to do with the way Western powers interact with Middle Eastern powers in the context of a systemic economic crisis, as well as with Russia’s demonstrated attractiveness as an ally. These events have led to strengthening economic ties and military cooperation between both sides. Recent negotiations to build Egypt’s first nuclear plant, as well as those allowing Russian and Egypt joint use of each other’s air space and military bases are perhaps the most noticeable examples of this cooperation. With recent rumors of Russia establishing a military base on the coast of the Red Sea, in Sudan, it is easy to conclude that Moscow has become an influential power in the region, with some countries now viewing Russia as an attractive alternative to the US. With its rejection of direct cooperation with Moscow, Washington has weakened its own position in the region. In the coming year Egypt and other regional powers will move further towards a diversification of their foreign policy partners, with regional elites recognizing that the world has become more multipolar and threats and challenges have taken new forms and greater complexity. Due to the rapidly developing situation in the region and the failed military coup attempt in July, Erdogan’s Turkey has become a reluctant ally of the Syrian-Russian-Iranian alliance in the Syrian war. Examples of this, such as the success of the Astana talks on Syria, the Russian-Turkish S-400 deal, and the Turkish-Iranian-Iraqi cooperation to counter the formation of an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq by the Kurdistan Regional Government showcase this changed geo-political landscape. During 2018, Turkey will remain a key player in the ongoing Syrian crisis, and an ally (if a reluctant one) of the Iranian-Russian-Syrian alliance in the region. Ankara has few options remaining aside from developing its coordination with this bloc. The current US foreign policy towards northern Syria and Iraq is frankly incoherent, with Turkey (being a NATO member and the most powerful US partner in the Eastern Mediterranean), no longer considering the US as a reliable ally in its strategic planning. The diplomatic crisis over Qatar, which began in June after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt severed diplomatic relations and imposed sanctions upon the country is yet another development leading to the current balance of power in the region. The crisis represents the most severe conflict among Gulf Arab states since the end of the Cold War. While these oil-rich, autocratic OPEC members have historically been at the most allies of convenience united by common fears (USSR, Saddam Hussein, Iran, etc.), their mutual mistrust has arguably never escalated to the point of demanding to what amounts to a complete surrender by one of its members. However, the recent Saudi-led attempts to force Qatar to obey Saudi interests in the region have pushed Doha into the arms of Turkey, Iran, and Russia. In 2018, the main goal of Qatar will be to normalize relations with the Saudi-led bloc while simultaneously avoiding being forced into making significant concessions to this bloc’s members. Qatari cooperation with Turkey, Iran, and Russia will be a useful card to play in this case. Qatari elites may also search for opportunities to influence internal relations within the Saudi elites. Throughout 2017, US-Russian diplomatic relations continued to deteriorate with both sides using increasingly strident rhetoric and imposing various measures against each other. Initial hopes and expectations that the election of Donald Trump to the presidency would lead to a détente between the two powers were quickly dashed. The Trump administration sacrificed its promises to normalize relations with Moscow, and to cooperate more fully in counter-terrorism actions in an attempt to gain a temporary softening of the pressures imposed by its own domestic political opponents. Unfortunately, this attempt to placate this internal opposition gained nothing for Trump and his administration, and succeeded only in escalating the continued media and diplomatic standoff with Russia. This internal opposition, which some may describe as the American Deep State, cares little about the true intentions of Trump and his supporters, and continues to keep playing the so-called ‘Russia Card’ as a means of further limiting the freedom of action of the new US president. US society has become further polarized by racial, ethnic, and political divisions and opposing sides are unlikely to resolve this conflict through negotiation. Racial and cultural divisions, always present in American society, were further inflamed by the liberal, Clinton camp’s attempts to create discord by playing the race card and demonizing the leaders of the Confederate States. At the same time, a large part of American society has become disappointed with Trump’s domestic and foreign policies, and has become disillusioned with his seeming inability to overcome the resistance of the Deep State. In 2018 we can expect to see further deterioration in relations between the US and Russia, with both sides remaining involved in a number of crises around the world. The defeat of ISIS will add to the geo-political standoff in the Middle East, while in Ukraine both nations will support opposing sides, with little chances of finding common ground. Another critical factor that will make its appearance in the coming year is the Russian 2018 presidential election and the strong intention of US elites to intervene in Russian internal policy, with the risk of pushing a new Cold War past the brink. The Latin American situation remains unstable and complicated, with Venezuela remaining as a center of uncertainty. In 2018, the Venezuelan president will struggle to retain power in the midst of continued turmoil in his country. Unsettling processes are also evident in Russia, which faces ongoing economic problems caused by the increasing pressure of Western imposed sanctions. Russian power elites, allied with foreign powers, have benefited from this situation, and have strengthened their influence. Generally, the Russian state has shown a relatively low degree of economic effectiveness, only partly compensated by its foreign policy successes. These factors can and will complicate Russia’s internal political situation during the upcoming 2018 presidential election. Ukraine still remains the key flash point in Europe. The Kiev government, strongly influenced by various radical groups, is unlikely to abide by the terms of the Minsk agreements, as it views Minsk as surrender. Prominent Ukrainian political figures publically admit that these agreements were a trick, meant only to buy time in order to prepare for a military solution to this crisis in the eastern part of the country. The leadership of the Donetsk and People’s Republics clearly understand this, and have further strengthened their ties to Russia in order to prevent a future attempt by the Kiev government to re-integrate this territory. The regime in Kiev remains in a very complicated political and economic situation, having been all but abandoned by its US and EU handlers. In an attempt to retain control over their country, the current Ukrainian government will likely try to escalate the situation in Donbass in an attempt to gain more economic, political, and perhaps even military support from the West. Meanwhile, Washington and Brussels are considering alternatives to President Poroshenko and his government, one of whom is Mikhail Saakashvili, the disgraced former president of Georgia. At this time, the odds of Saakashvili gaining power in 2018 remain high. If he were to gain power it is likely that he would attempt to improve Ukrainian internal and economic policies to strengthen the state and to obtain additional Western support. It is doubtful that Saakashvili would be able to pursue this attempt to stabilize the country for any length of time, due to his erratic personality. After he realizes the military and economic potentials still possessed by the nation, he would likely attempt a military operation against the self-proclaimed republics of eastern Ukraine and the Russian military forces in Crimea, much as he did in Georgia in 2008. Such a move would likely lead to a large regional conflict in 2019. In the European Union, we can observe the continued decline of the institutions of the European bureaucracy. Crises such as those we see in Catalonia, as well as the inability of the European leadership to successfully deal with the migration flow from North Africa and the Middle East are clear signs of this continuing decay. In an attempt to control these problems, the EU has intensified attempts to develop a joint security system and to lay the foundation for the creation of a European army. These efforts, however, could come too late. If the EU is unable to find a way to consolidate its member states in 2018, we can expect to witness further fragmentation in the future. In Central and Southeastern Asia, the key security problems continue to be militancy and the spread of terrorism. The US and its NATO partners remain unable to deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan – some experts believe that the Taliban is slowly reaching a level of influence in the region which could lead to its recognition as a rightful party in any negotiations involving the US-led bloc. Currently, in some parts of the country, the Taliban even conducts operations against ISIS in order to prevent this group from spreading further. The historical instability seen on the Pakistani-Indian and the Indian-Chinese borders have long been factors contributing to the general instability in this region. However, all sides have been successful, so far, in avoiding open military conflicts. In the Philippines, an attempt by ISIS to establish its rule on the island of Mindanao was defeated by the government, who also purged militants who had seized control in the city of Marawi. The ISIS threat has been successfully countered in this nation, at least for the time being. In 2018, terrorism will remain the key threat for Central and Southeastern Asia. Expect the Taliban to expand its influence further in Afghanistan, as ISIS continues its attempts to establish a larger foothold in the region. Pakistani-Indian and Chinese-Indian tensions will likely remain within the spheres of diplomatic and economic competition, barring any extraordinary and destabilizing events. An additional and notable threat to the stability of the region is the continued flight of ISIS members from Syria and Iraq into Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. China has continued its expansion in the Asian Pacific by turning the South China Sea into an anti-access and area-denial zone controlled by the Chinese military through a network of artificial islands. In addition, Beijing has also expanded its maritime, airlift, and amphibious capabilities, and is actively working to shift the balance of power in the Pacific, a region which it describes as lying within its sphere of influence, through its naval power dominance in the area. In diplomatic and economic terms, China continues to follow a finely balanced foreign policy, while providing a slight diplomatic support to Russia. This calibrated approach allows Beijing to contest US dominance in some regions, most obviously in the Middle East, while avoiding an open confrontation with its main economic partner. In addition to the tensions in the South China Sea, North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs have been the center of attention within the international community. North Korea has recently conducted another nuclear test, and has tested an intercontinental ballistic missile, which it claims has the range to reach any target within the mainland United States. Despite the war-like rhetoric of the Trump administration and the imposition of additional sanctions, no progress has been made toward a peaceful resolution, with North Korea only accelerating its efforts to become a fully-fledged nuclear power. In the near future, this situation may pass a turning point, when the US is left with no military options in its conflict with North Korea, and negotiations remain the only solution. Should this situation come about, it will be a blow to both the image of the US as the self-proclaimed world’s policeman, and to the mechanisms of nuclear non-proliferation. In 2018, China will continue to strengthen its military and diplomatic positions in the region, and become a regional superpower, and well on its way to global dominance as it competes with the US. North Korea will likely continue developing its nuclear and missile programs, and if the US does not invade, which is unlikely, become a fully-fledged nuclear state. As 2017 comes to a close, it becomes evident that this year, has been a difficult one, for all of mankind. The world trembled over new threats of large-scale regional conflicts and over potential use of the weapons of mass destruction. The year brought considerable escalations between key global players, which created real risks of direct confrontation. At the same time, 2017 can be coined as the year, when the threat known as ISIS, a proxy terrorist state, was eliminated. It was the year when global powers were compelled to compromise under the most stringent conditions and amid multiple conflicts. International players, capable of rigorous logic and in-depth analysis, will extricate valuable lessons from 2017, which can help make the world safer. However, experience shows that emotions, poise and ill-conceived projects often triumph over common sense. The result, is a breakdown of pragmatic and balanced approaches of traditional diplomacy. Rudeness and incivility are becoming more common within the spheres of international organizations and in bilateral relations. Ambitions of small elite-based groups force countries and nations, to adopt models of behavior which clearly contradict their interests. Unfortunately, all of this precludes a bright prognosis for 2018. The world will not become safer. Relationships between major global powers will remain strained at best. Likely, they will deteriorate. The number of small-scale regional conflicts will not decrease. The use of weapons of mass destruction will remain a real threat within the framework of regional conflicts. Levels of terrorist activity may rise. One can only hope, that this combination of threats and provocations, will lead to a re-assessment of reality and force de-escalation in the subsequent years.
    27 Posted by snapbot
  • By snapbot
    Military & Political Trends Of 2017 That Will Shape 2018 Via Southfront.org, 2017 presented the world with a number of crises, among which were the continued wars in the Middle Ease and the spread of terrorism, the humanitarian crises in Africa and Asia, the rising military tensions over North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs, and the militarization of both the South China Sea and eastern Europe. Throughout the past year regional and global powers have repeatedly been on the verge of open military conflict, any of which may yet still lead to large regional wars. In the Middle East the war on ISIS, the Iran nuclear deal, the crisis in Lebanon, and Israeli-Arab tensions took center stage. By the end of the year, the self-proclaimed caliphate of ISIS had fully collapsed in both Syria and Iraq. Thanks to the efforts of the alliance between Syria, Iran, Russia, and Hezbollah, along with the Iraqi forces and the US-led coalition, this group was driven out from almost all of the areas it had held in the two countries. ISIS has lost control of such strategic locations as Mosul, al-Qaim, Raqqah, al-Tabqah, Deir Ezzor, al-Mayadin, al-Bukamal, as-Sukhna, Deir Hafer, Maskanah, and al-Resafa. ISIS, in form of a terrorist state, does not exist more. However, this does not mean that Syria and Iraq will face calm soon. There are still lots of ISIS sleeper cells and former ISIS supporters in these countries, a Syrian al-Qaeda branch (now known as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham) controls Idlib, and the Kurdish-Arab tensions are smoldering in northern Syria and Iraq. These issues cannot be ignored and will become an important part of the post-ISIS standoff in the region. Now, Russia, the US, Turkey, Iran and Syria are increasing their diplomatic activity in order to find a way, which could allow work to start on developing a final political settlement of the crisis. They all have objective limits to their influence on the ground and some contradictory goals. This complicates the situation, especially amid a lack of strategic vision from the US which, according even to American experts, has no long-term strategy for Syria. The US elites and their Israeli and Saudi counterparts are especially dissatisfied with the strengthened position of Hezbollah and Iran. Following the defeat of ISIS, the US-led bloc began attempting to use those areas of Syria held by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces to limit the influence of the Damascus government and its Iranian and Russian allies. Another flash point in this conflict lies within the province of Idlib, now mostly controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. Within the framework of the agreements reached by Syria, Iran, Russia, and Turkey in the Astana format, a de-escalation zone should now have been established in this area. However, this is hardly possible while Hayat Tahrir al-Sham remains the main powerbroker in this location. Despite the defeat of ISIS and the partial withdrawal of Russian forces, Syria will remain a battleground in this regional military and geo-political standoff in 2018. Militarily, the Iranian-Russian-Syrian alliance will continue to focus its efforts on reducing the influence of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in the province of Iblib. These efforts will include launching a series of limited military operations against Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, and further developing counter-insurgency efforts against ISIS. On the diplomatic stage, the different sides will continue to work on developing a political solution to the crisis. Meanwhile, the United States finds itself in a complicated situation: on the one hand, it cannot officially accept Assad’s government as a participant in the negotiations, while on the other hand the US has scant leverage to influence the situation. Thus, the White House will try to increase its efforts to divide Syria through supporting the separatist intentions of the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), as well as the armed ‘opposition’ groups in the region. The goal of such a strategy is to build a ‘de-facto’ independent entity within Syria. Additionally, the US could make either direct or proxy attempts to assassinate Assad and his inner circle. Iran will likely further strengthen its influence within Iraq after establishing a land route linking Teheran, Baghdad, Damascus, and Beirut. This so-called ‘Shia Crescent’ will become reality despite stiff opposition from both Israel and its allies. Watch for Washington to play the Kurdish card to counter Iran’s growing influence in both Iraq and Syria. In addition, the US could also attempt to split the ranks of the Popular Mobilization Units by separating individual groups from the larger organization. Such an action could be done with the use of mass bribes, as was done with some generals of the Iraqi Armed Forces during the Iraq War. The military victory over ISIS in Syria dramatically escalated tensions between Israel and the Iranian-backed forces of Hezbollah. At present time, Israel’s top political leadership is in the state of outright hysteria regarding the Lebanese movement. Senior Israeli officials have repeatedly claimed that Israel will not allow Hezbollah and Iran to concentrate its forces in border areas and to expand their influence in the region, particularly in Syria and Lebanon. The already difficult situation in southern Lebanon and Syria was further complicated by the series of events, which contributed to the growing tensions in the region in November and early December. It started with a resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri announced from Saudi Arabia on November 7, continued with Saudi accusations of military aggression through missile supplies to Yemen against Iran and rose to a new level on December 6 when US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital sparking further escalation. Some experts also said Israel, Saudi Arabia and the US are conspiring to start a new war in the region. In this light, a series of military exercises, including the biggest one “The Light of Dagan”, was described as a part of the preparations for armed aggression against Lebanon. The recent developments in the Middle East, including the nearing end of the conflict in Syria and the growing influence and military capabilities of Hezbollah, have changed the political situation in Lebanon. Hezbollah units de-facto fulfil functions of the presidential guard. Lebanese special services and the special services of Hezbollah are deeply integrated. Hezbollah’s victories in Syria and humanitarian activities in Lebanon increased the movement’s popularity among people. Tel Aviv believes that the growing influence of Hezbollah and Iran in the Middle East, particularly in Syria and Lebanon, is a critical challenge to its national security. The key issue is that Israeli military analysts understand that Hezbollah is now much more powerful than it was in 2006. Now, Hezbollah is a strong, experienced, military organization, tens of thousands troops strong, which has the needed forces and facilities to oppose a possible Israeli ground invasion in Lebanon. Iran has also strengthened its positions in the region over the last ten years. It has reinforced its air defense with the Russian-made S-300 systems, strengthened its armed forces and got combat experience in Syria and other local conflicts. Tehran also strengthened its ideological positions among the Shia and even Sunni population which lives in the region. Considering these circumstances, initial expert opinions indicate that Israel would decide to participate in a large-scale conflict in Lebanon only in the case of some extraordinary event. However, the growing Arab-Israeli tensions and the tense Israeli-Hezbollah relationship are moving this extraordinary event ever closer. Nonetheless, Israel will continue local acts of aggression conducting artillery and air strike on positions and infrastructure of Hezbollah in Syria and maybe in Lebanon. Israeli special forces will conduct operations aimed at eliminating top Hezbollah members and destroying the movement’s infrastructure in Lebanon and Syria. Saudi Arabia will likely support these Israeli actions. It is widely known that Riyadh would rather use a proxy and engage in clandestine warfare. All these took place amid the developing crisis in Saudi Arabia where Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had launched a large-scale purge among the top officials, influential businesspersons and princes under the pretext of combating corruption. According to the experts, the move is aimed at consolidating the power of the crown prince and his father, King Salman. In general, the kingdom is seeking to shift its vector of development and to become a more secular state. In 5-10 years, it can even abandon Wahhabism as the official ideology. At the same time, Saudi Arabia is involved in an unsuccessful conflict in Yemen and a diplomatic crisis with Qatar. This situation fuels tensions and a competition for resources among the Saudi clans. As a result, the Saudi regime and the Saudi state in general, are now, in a weak position. These are the key reasons why Saudi Arabia prefers to avoid an open participation in new conflicts. Additionally, there is always a chance, that for example of conflict in Lebanon, the main combat actions could be moved to the Saudi territory. Russia and Iran are also not interested in this “big new war” as well because such a conflict in the Middle East will pose a direct threat to their national security. During the coming year we can expect to see both Israel and Saudi Arabia continuing their diplomatic and military efforts to deter Iran and Hezbollah. Riyadh will continue its efforts to turn Yemen into a puppet state, but is unlike to achieve any notable successes, leaving the Houthis and their missile arsenal as a constant threat to Saudi Arabia. Israel and Saudi Arabia will also continue their building of a broad anti-Iranian coalition, with the support of the Trump administration, while Israeli forces will continue conducting their limited military operations against Hezbollah targets in Syria and Lebanon. In general, the chances of a new regional conflict will remain high. In this already unstable environment, the current US policy remains as one of the key destabilizing factors in the region. The recent US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as well as the hostility towards the Iranian nuclear deal continue to fuel tensions between the Israeli-Saudi and the Iranian-Hezbollah blocs. The current US administration continues with America’s consistent pro-Israeli and anti-Iranian policies in the region, inspiring both Israel and Saudi Arabia to embrace more active policies as well. As a result of this growing US support, the Israeli military stands ready to implement active military responses to any action taken by Hamas, Hezbollah, or any of the other regional players whom Israel considers a threat to its wide range of national interests. While the odds are low of the Trump administration being able to abort the Iranian nuclear deal, the mere fact that such attempts continue does little to contribute to peace in the region. The fact remains that Washington fuels the new cold war and perhaps even a potential hot war in the Middle East. We may expect that during the coming year Iran will continue to increase its influence in the region by using the war in Yemen, and its strengthened positions in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon to counter its opponents. In addition to its military efforts on the ground, Teheran’s main strategic focus will likely be the development of military and economic relations with both China and Russia. During 2018 we may also expect that Iran will pay special attention to the modernization and reformation of its armed forces. In Egypt, the security situation remains complicated, especially in the North Sinai. Following the defeat of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, remnants of the terrorist group have spread across the region with a number of them arriving in the peninsula. While the Egyptian Army and security forces have conducted a number of operations to eradicate terrorist cells in the area, militant activity remains high there, fueled in part by trafficking to Gaza. In addition to the remnants of ISIS in the North Sinai, Egypt faces continuing challenges along its border with Libya. Following the NATO intervention in that country in 2011, the Libyan government and social structure have been all but destroyed, with multiple factions battling each other for control over both the trafficking and oil business. The rapidly developing relations between Russia and Egypt have been overshadowed by the more prominent relationships between Russia and Syria, as well as Russia and Iran. Nevertheless, the Russia-Egypt relationship deserves closer scrutiny because, unlike the country’s relations with the other two Middle Eastern powers, it concerns a country that until recently appeared to be firmly in Western orbit. The abrupt shift of its geopolitical vector toward Eurasia therefore represents a far bigger change for the region than Russia’s successful support of the legitimate Syrian government, or the close relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran, both of which have been on the Western “enemies list” for decades. The reasons for this shift are twofold, and have to do with the way Western powers interact with Middle Eastern powers in the context of a systemic economic crisis, as well as with Russia’s demonstrated attractiveness as an ally. These events have led to strengthening economic ties and military cooperation between both sides. Recent negotiations to build Egypt’s first nuclear plant, as well as those allowing Russian and Egypt joint use of each other’s air space and military bases are perhaps the most noticeable examples of this cooperation. With recent rumors of Russia establishing a military base on the coast of the Red Sea, in Sudan, it is easy to conclude that Moscow has become an influential power in the region, with some countries now viewing Russia as an attractive alternative to the US. With its rejection of direct cooperation with Moscow, Washington has weakened its own position in the region. In the coming year Egypt and other regional powers will move further towards a diversification of their foreign policy partners, with regional elites recognizing that the world has become more multipolar and threats and challenges have taken new forms and greater complexity. Due to the rapidly developing situation in the region and the failed military coup attempt in July, Erdogan’s Turkey has become a reluctant ally of the Syrian-Russian-Iranian alliance in the Syrian war. Examples of this, such as the success of the Astana talks on Syria, the Russian-Turkish S-400 deal, and the Turkish-Iranian-Iraqi cooperation to counter the formation of an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq by the Kurdistan Regional Government showcase this changed geo-political landscape. During 2018, Turkey will remain a key player in the ongoing Syrian crisis, and an ally (if a reluctant one) of the Iranian-Russian-Syrian alliance in the region. Ankara has few options remaining aside from developing its coordination with this bloc. The current US foreign policy towards northern Syria and Iraq is frankly incoherent, with Turkey (being a NATO member and the most powerful US partner in the Eastern Mediterranean), no longer considering the US as a reliable ally in its strategic planning. The diplomatic crisis over Qatar, which began in June after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt severed diplomatic relations and imposed sanctions upon the country is yet another development leading to the current balance of power in the region. The crisis represents the most severe conflict among Gulf Arab states since the end of the Cold War. While these oil-rich, autocratic OPEC members have historically been at the most allies of convenience united by common fears (USSR, Saddam Hussein, Iran, etc.), their mutual mistrust has arguably never escalated to the point of demanding to what amounts to a complete surrender by one of its members. However, the recent Saudi-led attempts to force Qatar to obey Saudi interests in the region have pushed Doha into the arms of Turkey, Iran, and Russia. In 2018, the main goal of Qatar will be to normalize relations with the Saudi-led bloc while simultaneously avoiding being forced into making significant concessions to this bloc’s members. Qatari cooperation with Turkey, Iran, and Russia will be a useful card to play in this case. Qatari elites may also search for opportunities to influence internal relations within the Saudi elites. Throughout 2017, US-Russian diplomatic relations continued to deteriorate with both sides using increasingly strident rhetoric and imposing various measures against each other. Initial hopes and expectations that the election of Donald Trump to the presidency would lead to a détente between the two powers were quickly dashed. The Trump administration sacrificed its promises to normalize relations with Moscow, and to cooperate more fully in counter-terrorism actions in an attempt to gain a temporary softening of the pressures imposed by its own domestic political opponents. Unfortunately, this attempt to placate this internal opposition gained nothing for Trump and his administration, and succeeded only in escalating the continued media and diplomatic standoff with Russia. This internal opposition, which some may describe as the American Deep State, cares little about the true intentions of Trump and his supporters, and continues to keep playing the so-called ‘Russia Card’ as a means of further limiting the freedom of action of the new US president. US society has become further polarized by racial, ethnic, and political divisions and opposing sides are unlikely to resolve this conflict through negotiation. Racial and cultural divisions, always present in American society, were further inflamed by the liberal, Clinton camp’s attempts to create discord by playing the race card and demonizing the leaders of the Confederate States. At the same time, a large part of American society has become disappointed with Trump’s domestic and foreign policies, and has become disillusioned with his seeming inability to overcome the resistance of the Deep State. In 2018 we can expect to see further deterioration in relations between the US and Russia, with both sides remaining involved in a number of crises around the world. The defeat of ISIS will add to the geo-political standoff in the Middle East, while in Ukraine both nations will support opposing sides, with little chances of finding common ground. Another critical factor that will make its appearance in the coming year is the Russian 2018 presidential election and the strong intention of US elites to intervene in Russian internal policy, with the risk of pushing a new Cold War past the brink. The Latin American situation remains unstable and complicated, with Venezuela remaining as a center of uncertainty. In 2018, the Venezuelan president will struggle to retain power in the midst of continued turmoil in his country. Unsettling processes are also evident in Russia, which faces ongoing economic problems caused by the increasing pressure of Western imposed sanctions. Russian power elites, allied with foreign powers, have benefited from this situation, and have strengthened their influence. Generally, the Russian state has shown a relatively low degree of economic effectiveness, only partly compensated by its foreign policy successes. These factors can and will complicate Russia’s internal political situation during the upcoming 2018 presidential election. Ukraine still remains the key flash point in Europe. The Kiev government, strongly influenced by various radical groups, is unlikely to abide by the terms of the Minsk agreements, as it views Minsk as surrender. Prominent Ukrainian political figures publically admit that these agreements were a trick, meant only to buy time in order to prepare for a military solution to this crisis in the eastern part of the country. The leadership of the Donetsk and People’s Republics clearly understand this, and have further strengthened their ties to Russia in order to prevent a future attempt by the Kiev government to re-integrate this territory. The regime in Kiev remains in a very complicated political and economic situation, having been all but abandoned by its US and EU handlers. In an attempt to retain control over their country, the current Ukrainian government will likely try to escalate the situation in Donbass in an attempt to gain more economic, political, and perhaps even military support from the West. Meanwhile, Washington and Brussels are considering alternatives to President Poroshenko and his government, one of whom is Mikhail Saakashvili, the disgraced former president of Georgia. At this time, the odds of Saakashvili gaining power in 2018 remain high. If he were to gain power it is likely that he would attempt to improve Ukrainian internal and economic policies to strengthen the state and to obtain additional Western support. It is doubtful that Saakashvili would be able to pursue this attempt to stabilize the country for any length of time, due to his erratic personality. After he realizes the military and economic potentials still possessed by the nation, he would likely attempt a military operation against the self-proclaimed republics of eastern Ukraine and the Russian military forces in Crimea, much as he did in Georgia in 2008. Such a move would likely lead to a large regional conflict in 2019. In the European Union, we can observe the continued decline of the institutions of the European bureaucracy. Crises such as those we see in Catalonia, as well as the inability of the European leadership to successfully deal with the migration flow from North Africa and the Middle East are clear signs of this continuing decay. In an attempt to control these problems, the EU has intensified attempts to develop a joint security system and to lay the foundation for the creation of a European army. These efforts, however, could come too late. If the EU is unable to find a way to consolidate its member states in 2018, we can expect to witness further fragmentation in the future. In Central and Southeastern Asia, the key security problems continue to be militancy and the spread of terrorism. The US and its NATO partners remain unable to deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan – some experts believe that the Taliban is slowly reaching a level of influence in the region which could lead to its recognition as a rightful party in any negotiations involving the US-led bloc. Currently, in some parts of the country, the Taliban even conducts operations against ISIS in order to prevent this group from spreading further. The historical instability seen on the Pakistani-Indian and the Indian-Chinese borders have long been factors contributing to the general instability in this region. However, all sides have been successful, so far, in avoiding open military conflicts. In the Philippines, an attempt by ISIS to establish its rule on the island of Mindanao was defeated by the government, who also purged militants who had seized control in the city of Marawi. The ISIS threat has been successfully countered in this nation, at least for the time being. In 2018, terrorism will remain the key threat for Central and Southeastern Asia. Expect the Taliban to expand its influence further in Afghanistan, as ISIS continues its attempts to establish a larger foothold in the region. Pakistani-Indian and Chinese-Indian tensions will likely remain within the spheres of diplomatic and economic competition, barring any extraordinary and destabilizing events. An additional and notable threat to the stability of the region is the continued flight of ISIS members from Syria and Iraq into Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. China has continued its expansion in the Asian Pacific by turning the South China Sea into an anti-access and area-denial zone controlled by the Chinese military through a network of artificial islands. In addition, Beijing has also expanded its maritime, airlift, and amphibious capabilities, and is actively working to shift the balance of power in the Pacific, a region which it describes as lying within its sphere of influence, through its naval power dominance in the area. In diplomatic and economic terms, China continues to follow a finely balanced foreign policy, while providing a slight diplomatic support to Russia. This calibrated approach allows Beijing to contest US dominance in some regions, most obviously in the Middle East, while avoiding an open confrontation with its main economic partner. In addition to the tensions in the South China Sea, North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs have been the center of attention within the international community. North Korea has recently conducted another nuclear test, and has tested an intercontinental ballistic missile, which it claims has the range to reach any target within the mainland United States. Despite the war-like rhetoric of the Trump administration and the imposition of additional sanctions, no progress has been made toward a peaceful resolution, with North Korea only accelerating its efforts to become a fully-fledged nuclear power. In the near future, this situation may pass a turning point, when the US is left with no military options in its conflict with North Korea, and negotiations remain the only solution. Should this situation come about, it will be a blow to both the image of the US as the self-proclaimed world’s policeman, and to the mechanisms of nuclear non-proliferation. In 2018, China will continue to strengthen its military and diplomatic positions in the region, and become a regional superpower, and well on its way to global dominance as it competes with the US. North Korea will likely continue developing its nuclear and missile programs, and if the US does not invade, which is unlikely, become a fully-fledged nuclear state. As 2017 comes to a close, it becomes evident that this year, has been a difficult one, for all of mankind. The world trembled over new threats of large-scale regional conflicts and over potential use of the weapons of mass destruction. The year brought considerable escalations between key global players, which created real risks of direct confrontation. At the same time, 2017 can be coined as the year, when the threat known as ISIS, a proxy terrorist state, was eliminated. It was the year when global powers were compelled to compromise under the most stringent conditions and amid multiple conflicts. International players, capable of rigorous logic and in-depth analysis, will extricate valuable lessons from 2017, which can help make the world safer. However, experience shows that emotions, poise and ill-conceived projects often triumph over common sense. The result, is a breakdown of pragmatic and balanced approaches of traditional diplomacy. Rudeness and incivility are becoming more common within the spheres of international organizations and in bilateral relations. Ambitions of small elite-based groups force countries and nations, to adopt models of behavior which clearly contradict their interests. Unfortunately, all of this precludes a bright prognosis for 2018. The world will not become safer. Relationships between major global powers will remain strained at best. Likely, they will deteriorate. The number of small-scale regional conflicts will not decrease. The use of weapons of mass destruction will remain a real threat within the framework of regional conflicts. Levels of terrorist activity may rise. One can only hope, that this combination of threats and provocations, will lead to a re-assessment of reality and force de-escalation in the subsequent years.
    Jan 01, 2018 27
  • 21 Nov 2017
    Chupacabra-322 Nov 21, 2017 12:13 PMHow has the Criminal Tyrannical Lawless Surveillance started & continues till today with impunity & grown to gargantuan proportions? Room 641A. That's how. How? Room 641A. That's how. The entire US populace has been under metadata surveillance since that little pesky AT&T room 641A & since October 2001. Right after the False Flag of 911. #Vault7?#UMBRAGE According to the Times piece, the syphoning of internet data from AT&T began in 2003 and continued for a decade in a relationship that the NSA called “highly collaborative.” The telecom giant, according to one Snowden document, was extremely willing to help out the spy agency, and its engineers “were the first to try out new surveillance technologies invented by the eavesdropping agency.” According to the Times, AT&T began turning over emails and other internet data to the spy agency around October 2001, even before the secret rooms were built, in a program dubbed “Fairview.” The program forwarded 400 billion Internet metadata records to the NSA’s headquarters at Ft. Meade in Maryland—which included the senders and recipients of emails and other details, but not the content of the correspondence. AT&T also forwarded more than one million emails a day to be run through the NSA’s keyword selection system. In September 2003, AT&T apparently enabled a new collection capability for the spy agency, which amounted to a “‘live’ presence on the global net.” The Times doesn’t elaborate on what this involved. https://www.wired.com/2015/08/know-nsa-atts-spying-pact/ The Illegal, Criminal surveillance continues to this day with Impunity especially after the Criminal Centralized Telecommunications Companies were given retroactive immunity by a Criminal, Tyrannical Lawless Supreme Court.It's the exact reason why the absolute, complete, open in your Face Tyrannical Lawlessness continues to this day. But in the US, large and powerful actors must not be and are not subject to the rule of law. So telecoms hired former government officials from both parties to lobby for them and poured money into the coffers of key Democratic Senators such as Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (who became the chief advocate of telecom immunity). In 2008, the industry obtained an extraordinary act of Congress that gave them the gift of retroactive immunity from all criminal and civil liability for their participation in the illegal eavesdropping programs aimed at Americans on US soil. The immunity was enacted by an overwhelming bipartisan vote, with the support of leading Democrats including Barack Obama, who had promised - when seeking his party's nomination - to filibuster any bill that contained retroactive telecom immunity. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/17/government-lies-nsa-justice-department-supreme-court
    1780 Posted by snapbot
  • By snapbot
    Chupacabra-322 Nov 21, 2017 12:13 PMHow has the Criminal Tyrannical Lawless Surveillance started & continues till today with impunity & grown to gargantuan proportions? Room 641A. That's how. How? Room 641A. That's how. The entire US populace has been under metadata surveillance since that little pesky AT&T room 641A & since October 2001. Right after the False Flag of 911. #Vault7?#UMBRAGE According to the Times piece, the syphoning of internet data from AT&T began in 2003 and continued for a decade in a relationship that the NSA called “highly collaborative.” The telecom giant, according to one Snowden document, was extremely willing to help out the spy agency, and its engineers “were the first to try out new surveillance technologies invented by the eavesdropping agency.” According to the Times, AT&T began turning over emails and other internet data to the spy agency around October 2001, even before the secret rooms were built, in a program dubbed “Fairview.” The program forwarded 400 billion Internet metadata records to the NSA’s headquarters at Ft. Meade in Maryland—which included the senders and recipients of emails and other details, but not the content of the correspondence. AT&T also forwarded more than one million emails a day to be run through the NSA’s keyword selection system. In September 2003, AT&T apparently enabled a new collection capability for the spy agency, which amounted to a “‘live’ presence on the global net.” The Times doesn’t elaborate on what this involved. https://www.wired.com/2015/08/know-nsa-atts-spying-pact/ The Illegal, Criminal surveillance continues to this day with Impunity especially after the Criminal Centralized Telecommunications Companies were given retroactive immunity by a Criminal, Tyrannical Lawless Supreme Court.It's the exact reason why the absolute, complete, open in your Face Tyrannical Lawlessness continues to this day. But in the US, large and powerful actors must not be and are not subject to the rule of law. So telecoms hired former government officials from both parties to lobby for them and poured money into the coffers of key Democratic Senators such as Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (who became the chief advocate of telecom immunity). In 2008, the industry obtained an extraordinary act of Congress that gave them the gift of retroactive immunity from all criminal and civil liability for their participation in the illegal eavesdropping programs aimed at Americans on US soil. The immunity was enacted by an overwhelming bipartisan vote, with the support of leading Democrats including Barack Obama, who had promised - when seeking his party's nomination - to filibuster any bill that contained retroactive telecom immunity. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/17/government-lies-nsa-justice-department-supreme-court
    Nov 21, 2017 1780
  • 09 Oct 2017
    Trump: The Power of the Dollar. Although, I should para phrase this differently, I can't seem to conclude the though process of this man, whom North Korea calls deranged, while he is also a messiah to some in ultimate disguise. But what is reality. He is a businessman and CEO of multiple organizations and also known as Bankruptcy King.  First things first, lets talk some numbers. The dollar has reigned supreme due to the Petro Dollar, which makes it a necessity for every country to hold dollars in reserves, as energy drives economic growth, so does the need for more dollars. This expansionary holdings of central banks allows the US government to expand it balance sheet and build its might in every sense. China, Iran, Russia and the various "Axis of Evil" have taken upon themselves to say, enough is enough, we will trade among ourselves and there is no need for dollars. Trump knows and understands this very well and has some very different ideas.  For one, Trump tends to believe that the US dollar is supreme and when dollar funding is cut off, chaos will reign for all those countries, who are not in line and are questioning USA supremacy. He does this, by cutting off countries from the banking channels and isolating them with trade sanctions, but the affect of such actions are diminishing and what doesn't kill your adversaries, always make them stronger.  Just yesterday, USA non immigrant visa cancellation for turkey, saw the turkish lira slump over 4%, an action taken over the possible alliance between Iran and Turkey in the geopolitical game, albeit ongoing. On the other hand, Trump is watching the imploding economies of South America and things are indeed very bad in all those countries, from Venezuela to Brazil, lack of income opportunities, rampant corruption and revolutionary movements will sooner or later bring hordes of people escaping destitute, poverty and crime to American Shores, hence "America First, Build that wall.  Truth is; The world hates america and for the right reasons. The wars of the past two decades was an elitist attempt of crony capitalist, who using the might and cost of their governments, waged wars for resources and property, these destructive moves created the largest ever migration the world has ever seen. People are moving! and this trend will continue. Trump by blocking immigration and migration is isolating America more than ever today, whilst he may think this is a good way to proceed and despite his good intentions and worries, this misstep simply quickens the unravelling of the last empire before the new world order emerges.  And what are his reasonings...  Local wages have been kept low due to migrants willing to work for lower. They are stealing our jobs.  America is the bastion of stability, If America becomes first the world will unravel, or so he thinks.  Dollar expansionary policies created ample economic and trading opportunities around the world.  Hence; America First, Cut off the supply of dollars and isolate them till you get your way.  With all due respects, Mr President. You have all of this wrong. Cut of the dollar and isolate yourself and your empire crumbles, your biggest problem is not the world, but its America and the feeling of superiority over everyone else.  Your second biggest problem is the ponzi scheme called "Pension Funds", its been raided, hands over fists daily, for this to continue, you need more payers into this scam then the outgoing payments. Your debt levels have now reached levels, where it can never be repaid, the dollar collapse is the only way, to make debt servicable.  You may gloat over the recent highs in the stock market, but look at it deeply, what has fueled this meteoritical rise to the moon, as if its never coming down. To put this into perspective, every manager, fund manager, insurance and endownment funds are all long, just a couple of stocks, mainly the FANGS and a little more, stock buybacks allowed CEO's to extract money out of their companies in a different manner, fueling capital gains in stock prices by enhancing EPS results. Is this even legit?  Its also because of capitalist greed of the exchanges, who brought into various algo bots for higher trade volumes, the story was it will bring about enhanced liquidity and lower the cost of transactions. Truth again be told, it has delivered none of that, but what it did, its highly systematic zombie bots trading thousands of times daily within a small percentage of range, like pac man chopping around, taking both sides of the trade, front running in every manner with micro seconds quotes, many of them cancelled and replaced, so yes, you have more nickels now, but they are still lesser than the pennies earned all collectively together.  So what value does America bring, what enhanced value did your country create as far recent memory, a big bullie on the block and the world has now called your bluff. Isolate the world of the dollar and it becomes useless. Try it. The revolution has long began.  -snapbot      
    656 Posted by snapbot
  • By snapbot
    Trump: The Power of the Dollar. Although, I should para phrase this differently, I can't seem to conclude the though process of this man, whom North Korea calls deranged, while he is also a messiah to some in ultimate disguise. But what is reality. He is a businessman and CEO of multiple organizations and also known as Bankruptcy King.  First things first, lets talk some numbers. The dollar has reigned supreme due to the Petro Dollar, which makes it a necessity for every country to hold dollars in reserves, as energy drives economic growth, so does the need for more dollars. This expansionary holdings of central banks allows the US government to expand it balance sheet and build its might in every sense. China, Iran, Russia and the various "Axis of Evil" have taken upon themselves to say, enough is enough, we will trade among ourselves and there is no need for dollars. Trump knows and understands this very well and has some very different ideas.  For one, Trump tends to believe that the US dollar is supreme and when dollar funding is cut off, chaos will reign for all those countries, who are not in line and are questioning USA supremacy. He does this, by cutting off countries from the banking channels and isolating them with trade sanctions, but the affect of such actions are diminishing and what doesn't kill your adversaries, always make them stronger.  Just yesterday, USA non immigrant visa cancellation for turkey, saw the turkish lira slump over 4%, an action taken over the possible alliance between Iran and Turkey in the geopolitical game, albeit ongoing. On the other hand, Trump is watching the imploding economies of South America and things are indeed very bad in all those countries, from Venezuela to Brazil, lack of income opportunities, rampant corruption and revolutionary movements will sooner or later bring hordes of people escaping destitute, poverty and crime to American Shores, hence "America First, Build that wall.  Truth is; The world hates america and for the right reasons. The wars of the past two decades was an elitist attempt of crony capitalist, who using the might and cost of their governments, waged wars for resources and property, these destructive moves created the largest ever migration the world has ever seen. People are moving! and this trend will continue. Trump by blocking immigration and migration is isolating America more than ever today, whilst he may think this is a good way to proceed and despite his good intentions and worries, this misstep simply quickens the unravelling of the last empire before the new world order emerges.  And what are his reasonings...  Local wages have been kept low due to migrants willing to work for lower. They are stealing our jobs.  America is the bastion of stability, If America becomes first the world will unravel, or so he thinks.  Dollar expansionary policies created ample economic and trading opportunities around the world.  Hence; America First, Cut off the supply of dollars and isolate them till you get your way.  With all due respects, Mr President. You have all of this wrong. Cut of the dollar and isolate yourself and your empire crumbles, your biggest problem is not the world, but its America and the feeling of superiority over everyone else.  Your second biggest problem is the ponzi scheme called "Pension Funds", its been raided, hands over fists daily, for this to continue, you need more payers into this scam then the outgoing payments. Your debt levels have now reached levels, where it can never be repaid, the dollar collapse is the only way, to make debt servicable.  You may gloat over the recent highs in the stock market, but look at it deeply, what has fueled this meteoritical rise to the moon, as if its never coming down. To put this into perspective, every manager, fund manager, insurance and endownment funds are all long, just a couple of stocks, mainly the FANGS and a little more, stock buybacks allowed CEO's to extract money out of their companies in a different manner, fueling capital gains in stock prices by enhancing EPS results. Is this even legit?  Its also because of capitalist greed of the exchanges, who brought into various algo bots for higher trade volumes, the story was it will bring about enhanced liquidity and lower the cost of transactions. Truth again be told, it has delivered none of that, but what it did, its highly systematic zombie bots trading thousands of times daily within a small percentage of range, like pac man chopping around, taking both sides of the trade, front running in every manner with micro seconds quotes, many of them cancelled and replaced, so yes, you have more nickels now, but they are still lesser than the pennies earned all collectively together.  So what value does America bring, what enhanced value did your country create as far recent memory, a big bullie on the block and the world has now called your bluff. Isolate the world of the dollar and it becomes useless. Try it. The revolution has long began.  -snapbot      
    Oct 09, 2017 656
  • 29 Apr 2017
    The Power of How and Why? - Awakening did you say is happening. Corruption is dead in its tracks. Like in Malaysia some races had an exclusive monopoly to this. Want to bring something in, go thru this guy, want to try this business, talk to this guy. Most of the time, these guys are a proxy to the right to conduct business or any activity which has the potential to prosper, government regulations have often meant one thing and the result is something altogether, a monopoly over the economy. First they start off with asking the minimums and then soon these become maximums. Sooner or later many end projects never got delivered or got delivered at substantially higher costings. All this will change. The internet is the story of our next evolution. One bad choice, or mistake or what you said and what you didn't do, all gets documented. What's in favour will soon become out of favour, cause it bring forth everything. There is never a free lunch, you either spend excessively today and bills come due tomorrow or you spend your save. Nothing lasts forever. Humanity today is awakening to a new era, its questioning everything, just like in our past era's of evolution. Human behaviour is to see the mistakes of others and not oneself, we are a competitive race and we question everything today, this in itself is the biggest threat to all order. Hence. Chaos first. Then the new order. This summer is when all of this starts. So what are your trades. Look for deflationary businesses, business that supports the areas, where there will be or there is crazy demand. Businesses that is out of favour and there is ample resources. I would think food courts, manufacturer or farm to retail, anything that squeezes out the middle men, anything that can drive costs lower for the masses and provide enhanced value at the same time. These business concepts you must prototype, fine tune, test & prove it. Finally scale it up with rapid speed. Execution. Ample Capital is available, many funds are just jumping to get in. And what they want they get. What they need is confirmation of the concept, a proven management team to lead it. Probable Achievable milestones of growth and scale to go with this. And these are the times to jump right in. When everyone is losing customers like flies, you retain yours, while studying how to get theirs. The Opportunity is Now!. During the Great Depression, unemployment was the highest as all sectors had collapsed, over leveraged to the tilt, during the stock market boom of the roaring twenties, lines of hunger soured for bread and soup kitchens. Do you see them today? They are much bigger today. But not so much of social stigma, it's called SNAP. The American name for food stamps. Just like Britain and the earlier colony kings. Their economies boomed due to the wealth, earned for expeditions overseas, that capital funded an era of renaissance and as they prospered, the brought out more benefits in their societies. Welfare mainly, ideas pitched by the ones most close to those kings. Then one day, the fortunes reversed, instead of realising this, that a change of track is required, they marched on to with their added plans. Welfare and populist programs expanded. Then many others were added, the big elephant today is pensions. Do you think social security can pay out; when; 90m Americans not in the labour force, 50m in poverty, 50m on food stamps. Trump is asking South Korea for 1b. What a pittance? Even Singapore CPF is a Ponzi scam, let alone the rest. Can Singapore double its population one more time. Can the world population that grew from 1b {1900} to 9b {2017}, grow in the same fashion. It's simply not possible. And it's also not possible to see growth of 2% pa, on 9b. We have ran out of so many things, the best trade is food, stack them up. Supply them cheap, grow the mkt and do a good deed at the same time. Hunger and Poverty are the greatest risks of our lifetime. Societies collapse all the time. Maybe the first time for all of us. Read: Jared Diamond; Collapse.  When starting snapwire our quest was to read and analyse data, neuro linguistics analysis. It was trying to understand past patterns and determine future most probable outcomes. As trader's, We traded based on probable outcomes. Not looking for 5-10% growth pa. but looking for the next 5-10% move, leveraged to the tilt. Double your money on a good day, take losses on bad days. Control the losses in the manner that each bet is sufficiently managed, that risk of ruin is many hands away. For all that you know, if you only had a small glimpse of tomorrow, you will be able to time it. Buying at the lows, selling at the highs, is what is your total end game. And these glimpses are all there for u to see, if you have interest. If you are in business, look at what's happening in your industry. If you are in any trade, what u have is limited time to act, as these days, speed and execution as well as movement of capital is all in a instant. You have to be equipped with the best tools, to be able to react to such situations, that's where dynamic pricing comes in. Snapwire is such a tool for anyone to track, all the news channels on the online web and interact with other community members to break down the news further, to get to the truth.  You can use it to track companies, individuals or anything, of interest. The companies who are winning, are reading and reacting to everything, exploiting every situation for their benefit, by doing so, they too are building their own great walls to keep competition out from coming in. Before u get into any activity or business, the first question to ask is; how big is the mkt, just like how I ask my first thought, how high or low can it go!The second question to ask is; how much of this is true? We all know the biggest enemy of us all is called EGO. It's what you don't know, that makes one do stupid trades. Ego starts a dialogue with ones mind, playing hope, fear and greed. What does he think of himself? I called him, he don't answer, what is he doing now? Or he is trying to shake me off, hmm. He don't do it, I will do it. Etc etc. Snapwire helped enormously as it reads everything and most importantly, it reads, what everyone was thinking. Snapbot looks for strong keywords that make up, a chatter. These days people do things for online reputation and in isolation, talking to their own devils. The thoughts of a reader, under the influence of impulse, is the one to track, and it gives away itself in comments. Humans are leaking this information all the time, polls, surveys used to be the way, these days, social media much easier, each news report, outputs a reaction.  This reaction becomes a part of a dataset. Add to this, other sets of data, past history and trends, another data set. Scrub them with each other and if this, then how, if that, then how. Then look at your resources and play you must, sooner or later, you will be proven, wrong or right. But isn't that; what you traded? Isn't as great the risk, also the greater risk of ruin. Do you accept responsibility? Then only you can twist and tweak, if you don't, you are bound to continue your own self misery, believing to what your ego tells you.Think about this.  
    676 Posted by snapbot
  • By snapbot
    The Power of How and Why? - Awakening did you say is happening. Corruption is dead in its tracks. Like in Malaysia some races had an exclusive monopoly to this. Want to bring something in, go thru this guy, want to try this business, talk to this guy. Most of the time, these guys are a proxy to the right to conduct business or any activity which has the potential to prosper, government regulations have often meant one thing and the result is something altogether, a monopoly over the economy. First they start off with asking the minimums and then soon these become maximums. Sooner or later many end projects never got delivered or got delivered at substantially higher costings. All this will change. The internet is the story of our next evolution. One bad choice, or mistake or what you said and what you didn't do, all gets documented. What's in favour will soon become out of favour, cause it bring forth everything. There is never a free lunch, you either spend excessively today and bills come due tomorrow or you spend your save. Nothing lasts forever. Humanity today is awakening to a new era, its questioning everything, just like in our past era's of evolution. Human behaviour is to see the mistakes of others and not oneself, we are a competitive race and we question everything today, this in itself is the biggest threat to all order. Hence. Chaos first. Then the new order. This summer is when all of this starts. So what are your trades. Look for deflationary businesses, business that supports the areas, where there will be or there is crazy demand. Businesses that is out of favour and there is ample resources. I would think food courts, manufacturer or farm to retail, anything that squeezes out the middle men, anything that can drive costs lower for the masses and provide enhanced value at the same time. These business concepts you must prototype, fine tune, test & prove it. Finally scale it up with rapid speed. Execution. Ample Capital is available, many funds are just jumping to get in. And what they want they get. What they need is confirmation of the concept, a proven management team to lead it. Probable Achievable milestones of growth and scale to go with this. And these are the times to jump right in. When everyone is losing customers like flies, you retain yours, while studying how to get theirs. The Opportunity is Now!. During the Great Depression, unemployment was the highest as all sectors had collapsed, over leveraged to the tilt, during the stock market boom of the roaring twenties, lines of hunger soured for bread and soup kitchens. Do you see them today? They are much bigger today. But not so much of social stigma, it's called SNAP. The American name for food stamps. Just like Britain and the earlier colony kings. Their economies boomed due to the wealth, earned for expeditions overseas, that capital funded an era of renaissance and as they prospered, the brought out more benefits in their societies. Welfare mainly, ideas pitched by the ones most close to those kings. Then one day, the fortunes reversed, instead of realising this, that a change of track is required, they marched on to with their added plans. Welfare and populist programs expanded. Then many others were added, the big elephant today is pensions. Do you think social security can pay out; when; 90m Americans not in the labour force, 50m in poverty, 50m on food stamps. Trump is asking South Korea for 1b. What a pittance? Even Singapore CPF is a Ponzi scam, let alone the rest. Can Singapore double its population one more time. Can the world population that grew from 1b {1900} to 9b {2017}, grow in the same fashion. It's simply not possible. And it's also not possible to see growth of 2% pa, on 9b. We have ran out of so many things, the best trade is food, stack them up. Supply them cheap, grow the mkt and do a good deed at the same time. Hunger and Poverty are the greatest risks of our lifetime. Societies collapse all the time. Maybe the first time for all of us. Read: Jared Diamond; Collapse.  When starting snapwire our quest was to read and analyse data, neuro linguistics analysis. It was trying to understand past patterns and determine future most probable outcomes. As trader's, We traded based on probable outcomes. Not looking for 5-10% growth pa. but looking for the next 5-10% move, leveraged to the tilt. Double your money on a good day, take losses on bad days. Control the losses in the manner that each bet is sufficiently managed, that risk of ruin is many hands away. For all that you know, if you only had a small glimpse of tomorrow, you will be able to time it. Buying at the lows, selling at the highs, is what is your total end game. And these glimpses are all there for u to see, if you have interest. If you are in business, look at what's happening in your industry. If you are in any trade, what u have is limited time to act, as these days, speed and execution as well as movement of capital is all in a instant. You have to be equipped with the best tools, to be able to react to such situations, that's where dynamic pricing comes in. Snapwire is such a tool for anyone to track, all the news channels on the online web and interact with other community members to break down the news further, to get to the truth.  You can use it to track companies, individuals or anything, of interest. The companies who are winning, are reading and reacting to everything, exploiting every situation for their benefit, by doing so, they too are building their own great walls to keep competition out from coming in. Before u get into any activity or business, the first question to ask is; how big is the mkt, just like how I ask my first thought, how high or low can it go!The second question to ask is; how much of this is true? We all know the biggest enemy of us all is called EGO. It's what you don't know, that makes one do stupid trades. Ego starts a dialogue with ones mind, playing hope, fear and greed. What does he think of himself? I called him, he don't answer, what is he doing now? Or he is trying to shake me off, hmm. He don't do it, I will do it. Etc etc. Snapwire helped enormously as it reads everything and most importantly, it reads, what everyone was thinking. Snapbot looks for strong keywords that make up, a chatter. These days people do things for online reputation and in isolation, talking to their own devils. The thoughts of a reader, under the influence of impulse, is the one to track, and it gives away itself in comments. Humans are leaking this information all the time, polls, surveys used to be the way, these days, social media much easier, each news report, outputs a reaction.  This reaction becomes a part of a dataset. Add to this, other sets of data, past history and trends, another data set. Scrub them with each other and if this, then how, if that, then how. Then look at your resources and play you must, sooner or later, you will be proven, wrong or right. But isn't that; what you traded? Isn't as great the risk, also the greater risk of ruin. Do you accept responsibility? Then only you can twist and tweak, if you don't, you are bound to continue your own self misery, believing to what your ego tells you.Think about this.  
    Apr 29, 2017 676
  • 12 Jan 2017
    The World is simply a reflection of You!. All of us are seeking peace, with peace, we also would like some love and some justice to go with that, we would also like to see the betterment for all our fellow beings, a happy life for them, better opportunities, eradication of poverty and enhanced guidance for all humanity. But is any of this true? How can the world change, when its simply a reflection of You!. Some of us claim we do charity, so we can show god our receipts of good and the very next minute, we indulge in activities, which are completely against the very same good principles, next, we self preach and expect from others and say, Look, do like me, I am good. One minute, we visit the religious institutions and pray for spiritual guidance and the very next minute, we head back to our old self, monkey see, monkey do. We participate in cheating, more profit, more exploitation of another being and we call ourself street smart, a better salesman, a better accountant, a better cheat, and claim, look, I have more than you!. When someone comes to visit us and is vulnerable, we charge him a higher interest, a higher price, we exploit the situation to our benefit, against the moral principle, of good assistance, will deliver good blessings, And, there and then, we lose ourselves to greed, looking at the situation as a great opportunity to exploit, what have we become? Isn't all misery, because of you!. Isn't the world simply a reflection of you. Have you ever considered, what happens, when someone is vulnerable and comes to you for assistance and you exploit him. No matter how much, you give away in charity, will never be able to fix this, in-fact your entire charity, is indeed another accounting gimmick, is it not? When you come across someone or something, that you wished you had some of it and have none of it, don't you feel that urge to belittle that person, so that you can somehow, justify your own existence. Have you ever wondered, the real cause of your own insecurity, which comes up, each and every-time, when you want something, but which, you could ill afford, so for your own self-justification, is to be-little instead of admiration of the beautiful existence. What has become of you? Become an observer to first observe you.   
    2529 Posted by snapbot
  • By snapbot
    The World is simply a reflection of You!. All of us are seeking peace, with peace, we also would like some love and some justice to go with that, we would also like to see the betterment for all our fellow beings, a happy life for them, better opportunities, eradication of poverty and enhanced guidance for all humanity. But is any of this true? How can the world change, when its simply a reflection of You!. Some of us claim we do charity, so we can show god our receipts of good and the very next minute, we indulge in activities, which are completely against the very same good principles, next, we self preach and expect from others and say, Look, do like me, I am good. One minute, we visit the religious institutions and pray for spiritual guidance and the very next minute, we head back to our old self, monkey see, monkey do. We participate in cheating, more profit, more exploitation of another being and we call ourself street smart, a better salesman, a better accountant, a better cheat, and claim, look, I have more than you!. When someone comes to visit us and is vulnerable, we charge him a higher interest, a higher price, we exploit the situation to our benefit, against the moral principle, of good assistance, will deliver good blessings, And, there and then, we lose ourselves to greed, looking at the situation as a great opportunity to exploit, what have we become? Isn't all misery, because of you!. Isn't the world simply a reflection of you. Have you ever considered, what happens, when someone is vulnerable and comes to you for assistance and you exploit him. No matter how much, you give away in charity, will never be able to fix this, in-fact your entire charity, is indeed another accounting gimmick, is it not? When you come across someone or something, that you wished you had some of it and have none of it, don't you feel that urge to belittle that person, so that you can somehow, justify your own existence. Have you ever wondered, the real cause of your own insecurity, which comes up, each and every-time, when you want something, but which, you could ill afford, so for your own self-justification, is to be-little instead of admiration of the beautiful existence. What has become of you? Become an observer to first observe you.   
    Jan 12, 2017 2529
  • 28 Sep 2016
    Euphoria to dissappate and then the collapse becomes evident - Dynamictrader.com Started the week with optimism, On monday had gains in areas of 15%, which were lost back by tuesday and we got negative and fighting then, by the close of wednesday, we swung back to breakeven and by thursday morning, we got back to where our optimism resided with our gains on Monday. None of that would have happenned, if not for this. <<<<<<<<<< Attached image is animated gif, its not working, can you please advise why >>>>>>>>>      
    14697 Posted by Dan Trader
  • Euphoria to dissappate and then the collapse becomes evident - Dynamictrader.com Started the week with optimism, On monday had gains in areas of 15%, which were lost back by tuesday and we got negative and fighting then, by the close of wednesday, we swung back to breakeven and by thursday morning, we got back to where our optimism resided with our gains on Monday. None of that would have happenned, if not for this. <<<<<<<<<< Attached image is animated gif, its not working, can you please advise why >>>>>>>>>      
    Sep 28, 2016 14697
  • 30 Mar 2014
    Wake up people. The idiots rules.The good days have arrived, where we take on the fools and idiots to task. I once had a friend, who sat on a computer for 3 days in a row, it was a brand new machine and the year was 1997. His pentium 1 had arrived, new and connected to the Internet. I asked him, what he was doing while on his 3 days expedition? And he said I am downloading the Internet.  :)The idiot is present in all of us and one time and another, we have all tried to "Download the Internet", our kids attempt the same with getting as many apps as possible unto their devices, we tried the same with images, music, pdfs and torrents.It gets interesting when our leaders are exposed as IDIOTS aka ID 10 T error.911 was a good attempt to rally up the people for war justification and expanding power of the elite.2007 market crash was great to fuel the fire and unleash mechanisms to devalue our war debt.USSR collapsed right after withdrawal in Afghanistan,Engineered by U.S.A, keep them engaged!.USA end is no different, it cannot escape from its war crimes.After Afghanistan, we again lied, for years we have engineered democracy for our own benefit, we stole resources and kept leaders of other countries in our pockets via crony capitalism, We stole resources and engineered regime change againsts all those who didn't align with our needs, we isolated them, branding them axis of evil.  Today, We U.S.A are increasingly becoming isolated. Threatening the end of our petro backed paper dollar and with that our spending binge.A Big move is required. A move which contains such an explosion, in which the world submits in silence and accepts our supremacy due to the army. We no longer require as many people on the battlefield, our technology supremacy will ensure the New World Order.The Internet Fights back... stay tuned.http://snapwire.com/blogs/1/2/wake-up-people-the-idiots-rules
    2594 Posted by snapbot
  • By snapbot
    Wake up people. The idiots rules.The good days have arrived, where we take on the fools and idiots to task. I once had a friend, who sat on a computer for 3 days in a row, it was a brand new machine and the year was 1997. His pentium 1 had arrived, new and connected to the Internet. I asked him, what he was doing while on his 3 days expedition? And he said I am downloading the Internet.  :)The idiot is present in all of us and one time and another, we have all tried to "Download the Internet", our kids attempt the same with getting as many apps as possible unto their devices, we tried the same with images, music, pdfs and torrents.It gets interesting when our leaders are exposed as IDIOTS aka ID 10 T error.911 was a good attempt to rally up the people for war justification and expanding power of the elite.2007 market crash was great to fuel the fire and unleash mechanisms to devalue our war debt.USSR collapsed right after withdrawal in Afghanistan,Engineered by U.S.A, keep them engaged!.USA end is no different, it cannot escape from its war crimes.After Afghanistan, we again lied, for years we have engineered democracy for our own benefit, we stole resources and kept leaders of other countries in our pockets via crony capitalism, We stole resources and engineered regime change againsts all those who didn't align with our needs, we isolated them, branding them axis of evil.  Today, We U.S.A are increasingly becoming isolated. Threatening the end of our petro backed paper dollar and with that our spending binge.A Big move is required. A move which contains such an explosion, in which the world submits in silence and accepts our supremacy due to the army. We no longer require as many people on the battlefield, our technology supremacy will ensure the New World Order.The Internet Fights back... stay tuned.http://snapwire.com/blogs/1/2/wake-up-people-the-idiots-rules
    Mar 30, 2014 2594
  • 01 Jan 2014
    Technology will kill corrupt media and their financing politicians. A change is coming. Truth Emerging, News Breaking Alternative News Media. A Web of revolutionary citizens demanding change, social media tools, daily top keywords. - Free Ur Mind! Snapwire Breaking News
    245 Posted by snapbot
  • By snapbot
    Technology will kill corrupt media and their financing politicians. A change is coming. Truth Emerging, News Breaking Alternative News Media. A Web of revolutionary citizens demanding change, social media tools, daily top keywords. - Free Ur Mind! Snapwire Breaking News
    Jan 01, 2014 245