Adonis Diaries

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Bait-and-switch in Syria? What of safe heavens?

In a previous post on Syria Constitution referendum, I stated:

“The vast majority of Syrians in the referendum on a new Constitution have said it loud: “We want a negotiated political resolution”. Period.

The Constitution is not serious in the kind of changes expected, but Russia and China wanted the regime to demonstrate two things:

First, that the regime is in control of all the institutions capable of carrying out a referendum, and

Second, that the military of the regime is capable to putting down the armed uprising in Homs.

The Syrian regime of Assad has no alternative choices but to offer these two practical proofs of its viability“.

What of these “safe heavens” that the western powers are hammering out?

Stephen Walt on Foreign Policy published (with minor editing):

“The continued carnage in Syria is leading more people to call for some sort of international interventions (to protect Syrian rebels from further attacks by government forces).

Anne-Marie Slaughter, former director of policy planning at the State Department, recommended in the New York Times that the United States and others create “no-kill zones” on Syrian territory, protected by a coalition of outside powers.  Slaughter wants these outside powers to give the rebel forces various forms of weaponry, military training, and tactical advice.

To avoid the criticism that her policy would fuel a civil war, Slaughter insists that support be conditional on the aid being used “defensively,” though Turkish or Arab League units would be free to use drones or unmanned helicopters “to attack Syrian air defenses and mortars in order to protect the no-kill zones.” (How funny is this NO-Kill Zone recommendation)

The core problem with this proposal is the critique of Paul Stanil:  This recommendation ignores basic military realities. The rebels are trying to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. Once we commit ourselves to arming and protecting the rebels, how are we going to stop them from doing whatever they can to bring Assad down? Once engaged on their behalf, is it realistic that any government could cut them off because they had gone beyond our Marquis of Queensbury rules of engagement? Moreover, Slaughter admits that we cannot protect her “no-kill zones” without degrading Assad’s forces. In practice, therefore, her neat distinction between “defensive” and “offensive” operations would quickly break down.

Slaughter’s proposal would lead inexorably to an active military effort to overthrow the Assad regime. As in Libya, what sounded at first like a noble effort to protect civilians would quickly turn into offensive action against a despised regime, and in partnership with a host of opposition forces whose character and competence we can only guess at.  If that’s what Slaughter and others want to do, they should say so openly, instead of performing what can only be described as a strategic bait-and-switch.

China and Russia have figured this ploy out.  By the way, this is one reason they’ve been so reluctant to endorse any international action to stop the killing.

Here’s the basic problem.

Once we commit ourselves to creating safe havens (“no-kill zones”), we will be obliged to defend them for as long as there is any possibility that Assad’s forces might attack. As our experience with the no-fly zones in Iraq teaches, this could involve defending them for years.

And if Assad’s forces start shelling the rebel areas, then we will have to defend them or risk humiliation. But let’s be clear: “defending them” means attacking Assad’s own forces.

In other words: war.

And once that happens, the United States and the other outside powers will face enormous pressures to complete the job.  It is hard to believe that we could take the step Slaughter is recommending and subsequently agree to leave Assad and his regime in place. As soon as outside powers take sides and intervene, a failure to remove Assad from power would be interpreted as a striking defeat for the intervening powers and a blow to those who have seen the Arab Spring as a hopeful turn for a troubled region.

In short, there is no way to conduct the sort of minimalist, purely defensive, and strictly humanitarian operation that Slaughter describes in her op-ed, without it eventually leading to forcible regime change. And one big reason that Syria’s neighbors have been reluctant to go that route is their understandable fear of a protracted internal conflict there that would make the present carnage look mild by comparison.

I take no pleasure from that reality, and I share Slaughter’s anger and disgust at what Assad is doing.

But the choice we face is stark and agonizing, and pretending that we can keep our balance on this steep and slippery slope is not helpful.”

Note:  Turkey and Jordan have already established refugee camps for Syrians fleeing the onslaught.  Lebanon was quickly been dragged in until the army decided to step in and close the borders for arms and “rebels” trafficking

No more Caches for Fiscal Evaders (March 27, 2009)

The financial havoc has generated another capital consequence. All these tiny islands and tiny States that were the heavens of offshore companies where money were stashed away to avoid taxes are no longer safe heavens. The safe heavens were pressured to enact laws that permit any State government to investigate accounts that were immune under “banking secrecy regulations”. There are five main regions were these safe heavens concentrated their activities.

First, the Caribbean islands of about 14 of them, singly or set of smaller islands, are: Turks, Caicos, Anguilla, and Montserrat (controlled by Britain), then Virgin Islands (controlled by the USA, then Aruba and Antilles (controlled by the Netherlands, then the Bahamas, Caimans, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominic, Sainte Lucie, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Saint Christopher and Nevis, Grenada, Panama City, and Belize.

Second, in Europe we got the city of Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Isle of Man, Isles of Guernsey and Jersey, Gibraltar, Monaco, Saint Marin, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Cyprus, and Switzerland.

Third, in the Far East we have: Tonga, Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Nauru, Marshall Islands, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

Fourth, in the Arab Gulf we have: Dubai and Bahrain.

Fifth, in East Africa we have: Maurice, Seychelles Republic, Maldives, and then Liberia in West Africa.

For example, the Caribbean islands and particularly the Caimans has residency for 70% of hedge funds and manage about two trillion dollars or 2,000 billions; Jersey Island is the prime British offshore center and managing 300 billions; Liechtenstein with 165 billions; Switzerland with two trillions of offshore money or the third of the world’s caches and which generate a third of the State’s income. The safe heavens in the Virgin Islands are mostly invested in China.

Now most of these safe havens are in the process of regulating their financial activities because most States want the money of their citizens repatriated in order to be taxed. The problem is that the fiscal laws in most States are so exorbitant and complicated that it is not worth repatriating any money. People are just waiting for lenient and simple fiscal laws to be enacted before they get the courage to transfer their money to their home states. For example, taking into account penalties on bad faith (40%), interests in arrears, tax on revenue, social contribution and other rights and penalties a French citizen having one million dollars in Switzerland should expect to pay 1,300,000 dollars, far more than what he has saved in the safe heaven.

France has evaluated to 20 billions dollars of lost revenue is fiscal fraud, which amount to the total budget for the department of Research and higher Education. The case of Switzerland banking secrecy laws started in 1934. In 1932, France confiscated from the Commercial Bank of Bale ten books containing 2000 French clients; the socialist deputy Fabien Albertin divulged the names of the clients representing a wide spectrum of influential personalities from magistrates, to ministers, to deputies, and to bishops. The State of Switzerland reacted. Only in 1998 did the wall of banking secrecy fall in Switzerland when the US exercised pressures to recoup 1.25 billions dollars saved by Jewish families during the Nazi period.

There are four criteria to categorize a State a fiscal paradise: first, absence or lack of fiscal laws; second, lack of transparency; third, the economy cannot support that much funds (basically, a post office State); and fourth, refusal to exchange judicial and fiscal information.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

December 2021
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