Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Middle East Rundown 1-10-12

As Ahmadinejad visits his good old buddy Chavez in Venezuela, the two have found time from the their busy schedules to take a moment and discuss bombing Washington D.C. The press has been so nice to them going with the story that they were just joking. Anyone else remember the crap Reagan for joking about bombing things? God forbid Bush had joked about bombing anywhere. And if Obama, well actually if Obama said he was bombing D.C. himself, he'd probably get cheers from the press.

Meanwhile back home in Iran, the IAEA has confirmed that Iran is truly enriching uranium at it's Fordo site, well beyond the percentage required for peaceful energy purposes. Seems that we were totally on top of things with this article. Even Russia has expressed "regret" that Iran continues on this path that only idiots wouldn't recognize as being towards nuclear armament.

Remember when the US Navy rescued Iranians the other day? Well it kind of got repeated. Only this time it was the US Coast Guard rescuing stranded Iranian fisherman, who's boat was sinking, in the Persian Gulf. Iran has yet to comment to this one, but don't be surprised if they say the US sabotaged or sank the boat on purpose.

Hold on! What the hell is the US Coast Guard doing in the Persian Gulf? As @prfekrdumbrella tweeted, "Which of the 57 states are defending in the Persian Gulf?" A most excellent question. Since when does the United States have coast on the Persian Gulf? US Navy being there, that's what they're there for. Coast Guard? Aren't they for things a little closer to home?

Moving on to Bahrain. Protesters there gathered by the thousands in front of the United Nation buildings to demand that the UN help them against their government and it's oppressive ways of teargas and stun guns. Don't hold your breath there. It's taken the UN eight months to decide they should meet to discuss Syria, where thousands of people have been killed.

Speaking of Syria, President Bashar al-Assad made a televised address blaming basically the entire world for instigating the trouble his government is having. Not exactly new, but he did add the Arab League to his list of those responsible for encouraging terrorist acts in Syria. As mentioned the UN has finally decide that the Security Council should address the troubles there. So in another couple of years maybe they'll decide on action there.

Scottish Independence

Most of you when you hear Scottish independence are likely picturing Mel Gibson, as William Wallace, shouting "Freedom!" in the movie Braveheart. Whilst not the most entirely historically accurate movie (William Wallace was actually in France for most of the war) it has endured itself into the hearts of most who've seen it. All the Hollywood glory and everything not withstanding, Scotland once again seeks to be an independent nation.

Now there's not the fighting that the movie so clearly shows, or in the sense of the Irish Republican Army that seeks independence for Northern Ireland even til this day. No, Scotland is seeking it's freedom purely through political action. In 1934, the Scottish National Party was formed and in 2007 and again in last May it won major elections. In 2011 it actually gained a majority of the Scottish Parliament. As of today they have officially announced that in the fall of 2014 there will be a referendum for all of Scotland to vote on whether or not they wish to be free and independent of England.

One of the biggest reasons for Scotland to seek independence is economic. Scotland has many natural resources and the SNP feels that Scotland, not England should decide how they are used. Towards this the British Parliament has proposed and is discussing the 'Scotland Bill', which would give Scotland control of one third of it's own budget, rather than it being dictated to them. The SNP has refused to engage on the bill, as they do not see it as coming near enough.

Some major issues that would arise from Scottish independence would include, how close ties would be to England. Most likely Scotland would end up as part of the Commonwealth system that Canada and Australia are part of. Also of importance would be defense. Scotland would have to form it's own military, and all of England's nuclear weaponry is based in Scotland. Other questions would include how to treat the border and should Scotland come up with it's own currency or stick to the pound. Truly any kind of actual independence would require a long drawn out process.

So we are left with three and a half years for the people of Scotland to decide whether or not they wish to remain under English control. That seems a very long time from now, but SNP leaders want to allow the people to be very sure on this issue, and it'll give them time to make their case. Opposers of independence wish to have the vote much more quickly.

The best news in the situation is that both the nationalists and unionists have made it clear they would much rather this be something that is voted once a generation, rather than becoming a mess like that of Quebec in Canada, where independence referendums occur every couple years.