On Sunday, German voters gave Chancellor Angela Merkel a resounding vote of no-confidence. Nearly 66 percent of Germans voted against Merkel and her Christian Democrats Union, their worst showing in nearly 70 years. Despite losing a quarter of her supporters, Germany's arcane electoral system will allow Merkel to become chancellor for a fourth term. The remaining votes were split between several smaller parties, including the "Alternative for Germany" party, or AfD. The far-right AfD is known for being a party that has morphed into one of Nazi sympathizers and radical xenophobes from its humble anti- "common currency" beginnings.
It appears that Germany is headed for a weak coalition of the CDU and two smaller parties, one which is "pro-business" and the "Greens." Merkel's recent anti-Turkey rhetoric will most likely be suspended now that she has held on to power, however, the German parliament will have seated members that openly praised Nazis and opposed Holocaust memorials. The AfD is said to have more "moderate" leadership among the party, including Frauke Petry –a newly seated member of parliament. You might remember her from her infamous quote describing immigrants: "What should we make of the campaign ‘Germany is colorful'? A compost heap is colorful, too." The reality is even the "moderate" wing of the AfD is wildly xenophobic and racist. Germany will lose the little moral authority it purported to have with Nazi sympathizers speaking for its people.
The reality is Germany never cared for fostering immigrants escaping war torn regions. The low fertility rates among the current German population make fostering immigration an important economic policy. Germany needs immigrants. While it prefers Christian immigrants from prosperous countries, those immigrants, apparently, don't prefer Germany. So Chancellor Merkel had no other choice but to take in the Syrian immigrants she did. The AfD appealed to the racist underbelly of the German electorate, getting most of its votes from mostly less educated males, and now will help shape immigration policy.
The release of final results from the German election coincided with another important election Monday, the referendum on the question of independence for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Currently a semi-autonomous region of northern Iraq, the KRG is oil-rich and is functionally completely independent of Baghdad. The non-binding election Monday will allow Masoud Barzani, the current leader of the KRG, to argue that the KRG is an independent nation and need not share oil revenues with the central government. While the U.S., U.K. and Turkey oppose the KRG's attempt at independence, the passing of the referendum is a foregone conclusion at this point.
The question of independence for Kurdistan is less about "self-determination" for the Kurdish people and more about oil company revenues. Multinational oil companies often go into impoverished countries, bribe officials, extract oil and keep the lion's share of profits and share the remainder with local government officials. When these government officials wake up to the fact that their country is being pillaged, they are either deposed, assassinated or "removed" from office by other means. In Persian Gulf countries, this almost always means a forced abdication in monarchies. In African countries, armed coups are the modus operandi for oil companies.
The Syrian civil war is a great opportunity for oil companies to lay the groundwork for another few decades worth of profits. The "help the Kurds" argument is a simple yet profound one. How can you argue against helping a people displaced and discriminated against?
The next step would be to lobby Western democracies to provide "the Kurds" with weapons under the pretext of fighting another sinister enemy, in this case Daesh is a perfect fit. Daesh is evil no doubt, but does eradicating Daesh necessarily mean ethnically cleansing northern Syria?
Citizen's United allows for oil companies to donate to both U.S. political parties in exchange for getting what they want. An armed military in northern Syria will clear a corridor large enough for an oil pipeline and a sustainable new government. Independence for the KRG will mean oil from northern Iraq can be shipped directly to the Mediterranean without crossing any international borders. Fewer borders mean fewer politicians and fewer phone calls to make.
Multinational corporations have replaced world governments in executing policy. Elections have largely become quaint exercises of "democracies" with all politicians implementing the requisite actions in exchange for continued support in office. This is the new world we live in.
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