US Hopes To Turn Philippines Into Military Outpost Aimed Against China

On July 29, Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte decided to cancel his plans to end the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) – an important defense treaty with the United States. He said that the legal conditions for the temporary US military presence in the Philippines has existed since 1998, on which the two sides conducted joint exercises on land, air and sea. Duterte informed Washington of his intention to cancel the agreement in February 2020, but withdrew the decision at a meeting with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in the Filipino capital of Manila on Friday.

"There is no request to terminate the VFA pending and we are back on track," Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters.

The head of the Pentagon welcomed Duterte’s decision, which as he said, would help strengthen defense ties between the two countries. Austin said that it gives confidence in the future of their bilateral relations, especially now that the US can make long-term plans for the Asia-Pacific region and conduct a variety of training activities aimed at containing China.

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Russophobia Likely To Reach Unprecedented Heights In Moldova Following Parliamentary Election

In snap elections held in Moldova yesterday, the party of the pro-EU/NATO liberal President Maia Sandu, the center-right Action and Solidarity Party (PAS), had just under 53% of the vote, while its main rival, the Socialists and Communists (BECS) bloc of former President Igor Dodon, had a little more than 27%.

Sandu, a former World Bank economist, has become “a symbol of change” for many in the country, but she especially found support among the diaspora voters living in Western Europe. PAS won 52.80% of votes and 63 seats, obtaining a majority in the 101-seat parliament. BECS received 27.17% of votes and 32 seats. Voter turnout was a paltry 48.41% (consider Syria’s May Presidential Election had a voter turnout of 78.64%), suggesting that PAS and Sandu do not have widespread support among Moldovans and that there is much disillusionment with the country’s political system.

Despite the low voter turnout, and even though most of the polls showed a clear victory for PAS, none of them predicted such a categorical victory. An entire center-right electoral segment collapsed, especially when we consider that the Democratic Party (PDM) had 24% in 2019 but in 2021 the entire electoral segment went to PAS. It suggests that voting Moldovans see their future embedded with the liberal West believing it will reverse the cycle of poverty and improve the country, something it has not experienced in a serious way since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

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Egypt’s Inauguration of New Naval Base Near Libya a Message to Turkey

Egypt inaugurated a new naval base close to the Libyan border on July 3, something that can be described as a show of force by Cairo and a demonstration of its commitment to its war-torn neighbor. Inaugurating the naval base on July 3 was not by mistake. July 3 commemorates when in 2013 the then head of the Egyptian Armed Forces, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, responded to the demands made by protesters in Tahrir Square during the June 30 Demonstration to topple the Muslim Brotherhood government of President Mohamed Morsi. There is little doubt that Egypt was sending a clear message to Turkey, who was not only a strong backer of Morsi, but is also the main backer of the Libyan branch of the Muslim Brotherhood extremist organization.

During the inauguration of the new naval base in the eastern Mediterranean, Sisi, who has been president since the removal of Morsi from power, inspected the Egyptian armada and naval base.

"It is the latest Egyptian military base on the Mediterranean, and will be focused on securing the country’s northern and western front," the Egyptian president said in a statement.

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Taiwan ‘Enthusiastic’ With Blinken’s Announcement, But Beijing Warns of ‘Sending False Signals’

China stepped up its diplomacy with the US to dampen Taiwan’s elation after Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced the possibility of resuming trade talks with the island that Beijing considers a rebel province. During a House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the US State Department’s annual budget, Blinken was asked about the administration’s position on a bilateral trade agreement with Taiwan.

"I’d have to refer you to Katherine Tai, the US trade representative, but I know we are engaged in conversations with Taiwan, or soon will be, on some kind of framework agreement, and those conversations should be starting," Blinken said.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs said that it is "enthusiastic and expectant" following Blinken’s statement. However, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Tuesday that China has always opposed signing any agreement with "the Taiwan area, as it would affect the nature of its sovereignty." The Chinese official called for a cautious approach to the Taiwan issue and stressed countries from sending false signals in favor of Taiwan’s independence.

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NATO’s Rearming of Ukraine Under Sea Breeze 2021 Guise Is for Future Conflict in Donbass

With the participation of the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Latvia and other partner countries of NATO, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry and the US’ European Command will hold massive joint drills from June 28 to July 10. These exercises are so huge in fact that it involves about 4,000 military personnel, 40 combat ships, vessels and auxiliary craft, 30 aircraft and over 100 armored vehicles.

Although the joint Ukraine-NATO military training, dubbed Sea Breeze 2021, is undoubtedly aimed at improving the inter-operability between participants in a hypothetical war against Russia, the most alarming fact is that the Ukrainian military and the Far-Right militias will be supplied with advanced weapons and munitions over the course of the exercises – this was supposed to be hidden from Russia.

The Sea Breeze 2021 exercise comes as Russia condemns NATO activities which have become frequent in recent years near its western border. NATO, for its part, says it wants to contain so-called Russian aggression by sending reconnaissance ships, planes and drones to the Black Sea region.

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Indonesia Will Not Join QUAD as It Delicately Balances Relations With All Regional Players

After Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi met with his Indonesian counterpart Prabowo Subianto earlier this week, he stated that their two countries agreed to expand defense cooperation and conduct joint military exercises in the South China Sea. The Indonesian Minister of Defense and Minister of Foreign Affairs visited Tokyo for bilateral talks with their Japanese counterparts. The meeting was part of Indonesia’s efforts to delicately balance its relations with all Indo-Pacific players, including China, the U.S. and Japan, in light of regional issues such as the demarcation of the South China Sea and the political crisis in Myanmar.

In October last year, Japan and Indonesia – both archipelago countries – held a naval exercise in Indonesia’s Exclusive Economic Zone off Natuna to the west of Borneo island. Beijing and Jakarta are at odds over Indonesia’s Exclusive Economic Zone demarcation line in the South China Sea, so observers believe that holding a joint military exercise there could be a provocation against China. Japan emphasizes that it is developing military relations with its partners in Southeast Asia in response to China’s increasingly assertive policy in the South China Sea.

Japan, the US, Australia and India are part of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD), one of the main regional mechanisms to halt Chinese dominance in the Indo-Pacific region. It is likely that Japan is attempting to draw Indonesia into QUAD so it can be part of an alliance aimed against China.

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