(Please read Part I prior to this article)
Identity Federalism can be harnessed as a geostrategic weapon of Fifth Generation Warfare, and there are a variety of applications in which it can further American foreign policy. The follow sections detail the two Identity Federalism projects that are formally in progress and the four in which it hopes to one day see this policy implemented.
Projects In Progress
There are presently two Identity Federalism projects that have officially been agreed to by their respective governments and four which the US is eagerly working towards. The two practical cases of multilateral Identity Federalism thus far are in South Sudan and Nepal, both of which are exceptionally rich in ethno-regional identities, have just emerged from a vicious Hybrid War, and are located at crucial geostrategic junctures. The structural virus that has been unleashed in both of their regions is expected to be weaponized for export against their neighbors. South Sudan’s Identity Federalism symbolically demonstrates the ‘compromise solution’ around which Sudan and Ethiopia’s plethora of ethno-regional identity rebels could unite.
Not only could this shared post-conflict vision help them temporarily put aside their differences in gathering into a more coordinated and effective fighting front, but the inherent destabilization that Identity Federalism will bring to the territory of South Sudan could create advantageous conditions in which these said rebels could find safe havens, training bases, recruits, and arms that help bolster their anti-government capabilities.
Sudan and Ethiopia are important targets for the US’ Hybrid War strategy because both of them are instrumental components of China’s African outreach policy. Sudan is a necessary transit state for South Sudanese oil and has been a Chinese ally for the past couple of decades (thus giving Beijing pivot influence in both the Mideast and North/East Africa), whereas Ethiopia is one of China’s closest strategic partners on the continent, and the soon-to-be-completed Djibouti-Addis Ababa railroad that Beijing financed is shaping up to be a “Horn of Africa Silk Road”. Destabilizing both of these countries is clearly in the interests of the US as it seeks to undermine China’s global potential in the New Cold War.
The regional strategic designs related to Nepal’s Identity Federalism are slightly different than they are for South Sudan. While the US obviously hopes to see such a system implemented in China, it knows that it’s extremely improbable that this will ever happen, let alone through a ‘demonstration effect’ from a country as tiny and easily ‘cordoned off’ as Nepal. The real target in this case is actually India, which has a much closer relationship with Nepal via a long history of civilizational, political, and economic links.
Nearly 300 million people live in the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar that are directly south of Nepal, and the porous border between them as well as the multiple transnational links that tie each of these entities and people together create a near-perfect situation in which certain types of Nepali destabilizations can more easily spread into India. The goal is for these two significant states to join together with the Northeast “Seven Sisters” in agitating for a major revision of the Indian political system, be it through the creation of individual identity-based states for each demographic (as has been progressively unfolding in the Northeast since independence) or an outright push for Identity Federalism.
Up to this point, such objectives were only pursued by Northeastern separatists (whether independent-minded secessionists or those interested in their own union territory), but if this ideological sentiment can breach the Siliguri ‘containment corridor’ and ‘infect’ the much larger, diverse, and more nationally significant states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, then it could quickly lead to a national crisis. It’s in this particular context that Nepal is useful in catalyzing such sentiment west of the Siliguri Corridor and attempting to popularize it in the identity diverse states of ‘geographically mainstream’ India, such as the areas that Sikh nationalists envision as forming “Khalistan” for example. Should this trend catch on, then it would risk unravelling the hitherto domestic political unity that India has so painstakingly sought to sustain, and New Delhi might find itself compelled to move past its occasional decentralization tactics (e.g. the creation of new states) and towards selective devolution to various ethno-regionally identifying autonomous and/or federative units.
From the American perspective, the internal pressure that this would put on India could place it in a position to more readily accede to the US’ strategic dictates vis-à-vis the New Cold War and “containing China”. It’s especially telling that many Western NGOs are active in Nepal and have been pushing for precisely the type of Identity Federalizing processes that might one day spill over the border, as has been revealed by the late investigative researcher Arun Shrivastava.
Connecting the pieces and identifying the American hand that’s behind Nepal’s Identity Federalist devolution, it’s reasonable to conclude that Washington might seek to leverage its influence over events there in exchange for striking a strategic deal with New Delhi, the latter of which might quickly come to terms with recognizing the administratively existential threat that could soon emanate from its American-influenced northern neighbor. Whereas some in the Ministry of External Affairs may have earlier thought that they could exploit Terai separatism and Identity Federalism in Nepal to their own advantage, it’s likely that they’ll come around to realizing that they unwittingly opened a Pandora’s Box of chaos that the US had planted for them, which could then make them much more susceptible to the type of geopolitical blackmail that Washington is aiming for.
The strategy that the US is pursuing in Myanmar is very closely related to the one that it’s advancing in Nepal, albeit the Southeast Asian scenario is still much further behind the one that’s being formalized in the Himalayas. Myanmar has been fighting the world’s longest-running civil war, although hostilities have largely ceased over the past couple of years, especially after the military signed a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement with over half of the main ethno-regional rebel groups. The pro-Western Suu Kyi government that just recently won a landslide in the latest elections has been intimating that it wants to seek a ‘federal solution’ to the conflict and might likely propose Identity Federalism as a result.
The US has a strategic interest in seeing the country’s civil war divisions institutionalized through the creation of quasi-independent statelets, which would then allow it and its allies to leapfrog directly into the Kachin and Shan interior as part of their efforts to “contain China” right along its southern mainland border area. Identity-rich Yunan Province is also ripe for Hybrid War potential along a similar (albeit situationally modified) line as Tibet and Xinjiang are, and it could one day become a third front for Western interference into China’s sovereign affairs (not counting the ongoing political subterfuge in Hong Kong). The potential for this scenario drastically increases if the US and its allies are able to set up centers of influence projection in the forthcoming Identity Federalized units along the Myanmar-China border (Kachin and Shan States).
Corresponding to the regional strategic similarities between Nepal’s Identity Federalism and what looks to be its imminent imposition in Myanmar, both cases are aligned against India’s interests. While Nepal’s model targets the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, Myanmar’s could create an enticing precedent that might encourage the diverse rebels in India’s Northeast to band together in fighting for something similar in their home region. The United Liberation Front of Western South East Asia (UNLFW) already brings together 15 separate groups under its banner, but it has yet to articulate an all-inclusive political vision for what it hopes to attain after the central authorities are defeated. That could change if Myanmar adapts Identity Federalism and the UNLFW picks this up as its rallying cry for the Northeast.
Another possible factor is the Naga Self-Administered Zone in Sagiang Region might receive even more autonomy within the Identity Federalist framework, which could turn it into rear base that the UNLFW could use in training their cadre and planning attacks on Indian soil. This scenario could obstruct India’s ASEAN Highway (formally the “Trilateral Highway”) that it seeks to build through Myanmar and Thailand, thereby putting its Act East policy under the geopolitical blackmail potential of the US. In turn, Washington, using the leverage that it has over the Suu Kyi government in Myanmar and whatever intelligence contacts that it has with the country’s various rebel groups, could apply this dual track of state and non-state influence to pressure New Delhi into joining the “Chinese Containment Coalition” that it’s building in the region.
If India goes along with this geostrategic construct, then it would escalate tensions with China and lead to the unravelling of BRICS and the SCO, along with sparking an intensified Asian Cold War between New Delhi and Beijing to complement the one that already exists between Beijing and Tokyo. Undoubtedly, these are scenarios that the US hopes to actualize in the coming future, no matter which way it goes about doing so, but Hybrid War and resultant Identity Federalism in India’s Nepali and Myanmar periphery could indirectly function as the most effective ways in furthering these grand strategic objectives.
The Republic of Macedonia:
This tiny Balkan country is the vital chokepoint through which Balkan Stream and the Balkan Silk Road must pass, which is the reason why it was already been targeted for Hybrid War destabilization last year and might very well face a second renewed round of disturbances during the upcoming early elections that are tentatively scheduled for April. The author wrote extensively about the latter scenario in a recent interview with Macedonian media, but it basically boils down to the US desperately staging another Color Revolution attempt in a last-ditch effort to save its “opposition” proxy in the country. Should that fail, then there’s the very real potential that the regime change movement will quickly transition into an Unconventional War through the involvement of Albanian terrorists, just as was supposed to happen last time around before they were preemptively stopped by the state’s security services.
The threat of “Greater Albania” looms heavy over Skopje because around a quarter of the country’s population is ethnic Albanian and resides in close proximity to the international border, meaning that they’re theoretically susceptible to a “Kosovo”-like call for terroristic ethno-religious separatism. Moreover, it’s obvious that the regime change operation would be coordinated out of Tirana and the US’ Camp Bondsteel, both of which could provide numerous mercenaries to fuel their planned insurgency. If they’re successful in misleading local Albanians into joining them, and especially in the event that they coordinate their actions alongside the Color Revolution agitators, then Macedonia could immediately be thrown into a nasty Hybrid War.
Per the aforementioned conditions, Skopje would have to decisively defeat the terrorists at the start of their campaign in order to prevent them from digging into the mountainous borderland with Albania and the NATO-occupied Serbian Province of Kosovo, which in that case would give them direct and continuous access to their patrons’ material and physical support networks. It’s here where the Color Revolution aspect of the Hybrid War scenario could work in bogging down the security forces and distracting them from what otherwise would be a unified focus on targeting the terrorists. The totally separate nature of the tactical objectives that would have to be concurrently pursued in such highly fluid situational environments could make it challenging to restore order right away, thereby providing an advantageous inroad to one or another of the complementary Hybrid War actors. More than likely, however, the government could more easily contain and/or deal with the Color Revolution scenario than it could the Unconventional Warfare one, meaning that if any strategic stalemate ends up settling in, then it would likely be between the central government and the western periphery for the reasons that were just described.
Nevertheless, regardless of which Hybrid War actor succeeds in stalemating the situation or outright winning, the end result of Identity Federalism would still be the same. The US will not support formal Albanian irredentism over Macedonia, but nor does it appear to have any plans to unilaterally recognize the Albanian-populated portions as an independent country. If it did either of these two, then it wouldn’t be able to leverage its hegemonic influence over the eastern part of the country through which Russia and China’s pan-regional projects are expected to pass. Identity Federalism, however, would allow what would by then be the quasi-independent Albanian-populated portion of Macedonia to still retain a negotiated amount of influence over the rest of the country. The ethnic Macedonians might begrudgingly agree to this as part of a ‘compromise solution’ which places Skopje under their federative zone or redefines it as an area of joint administration with the Albanians. If the central government retained control over the capital during the prior hostilities, then the former scenario would be attractive in order to nominally retain national unity; however, if Albanian fighters were successful in seizing part or all of the city, then the latter scenario might be the best deal that they could hope for.
Concerning the Color Revolution movement, “opposition” leader Zoran Zaev and his political allies have previously said that they would consider ways in which the provisions of the Ohrid Agreement could be radically enhanced beyond their intended interpretation, which has been understood to be an allusion to Identity Federalism. As a background, the legislation in question brought an end to the violent US-supported Albanian insurgency that raged in parts of Macedonia during 2001, which itself was a predictable regional consequence of NATO’s 1999 War on Yugoslavia. The deal mandated that the Albanian minority be given proportional representation in parliament and that laws dealing with local political, financial, and identity affairs anywhere throughout the country cannot be passed without a majority of their politicians supporting it. As a result, this has essentially bestowed 12.5% of the legislature (half the number of ethnic Albanian representatives as enforced by the Ohrid Agreement) with de-facto veto privileges over the rest of the government on these issues. Zaev’s personal motivation in publicly flirting with the federalist topic, other than following instructions from his patrons, is that he hopes that this will encourage extreme Albanian elements (both within the country and abroad) to support his Color Revolution plans via a synchronized Unconventional War. The implicit understanding is that he would afterwards ‘reward’ them for their ‘service’ by unilaterally granting them a de-facto independent statelet, which would also satisfy the US’ strategic vision that was earlier described.
One of the other planned Identity Federalist projects that the US envisions is in the borderland between Syria and Iraq, the area that’s presently occupied by Daesh. The author and his colleague wrote an in-depth report in mid-October detailing the geostrategic interests that the US has in seeing a transnational sub-state “Sunnistan” rise in the center of the region. To concisely summarize, if a quasi-independent identity-shared entity were to be formed in eastern Syria and western Iraq, then it could allow for the facilitation of the long-cherished unipolar dream to extend a Qatari gas pipeline to Turkey and onwards to the EU. Not only that, but the Identity Federalism that would have to be in place in each of the two targeted states would also lead to the creation of similarly sovereign entities throughout the rest of their territory, for example, a Kurdish transnational federative unit and a Shia one in southern Iraq.
The centripetal forces that would be unleashed through this process would also impact on Turkey and Saudi Arabia, perhaps allowing for the eventual fulfillment of Ralph Peters’ decade-old “Blood Borders” scenario. While it may seem strange at this moment to forecast the US actively working towards the destabilization and eventual dismemberment of two of its closest allies (whether formally or via Identity Federalism), the changing geopolitical nature of the Mideast and the US’ relative decline in influence there vis-à-vis Russia’s anti-terrorist intervention might lead to some American strategists eventually finding the Blood Borders scenario quite appealing. They could ‘reasonably’ reckon that Washington’s greatest power play would be to participate in geopolitical “scorched earth” tactics that turn the region into a checkerboard of statelets that could strategically be competed over by the various powers, understanding that it’s unlikely that the US will ever return to exercising full hegemony over most of its territorial units again and wanting to deprive its rivals (Russia, China, and Iran) of filling that role for it.
Africa’s most populous country and its largest economy is also one of its chief energy exporters. It currently sells large amounts of oil but also has the tantalizing possibility of using its control over the continent’s largest natural gas reserves to become an even more crucial player in the global LNG market than it already is. Nigeria is presently divided in geopolitical allegiance between the US and China, making it the greatest prize in the New Cold War’s African battleground. The US attains to acquire predominant influence over Abuja’s affairs, but failing that, it has no qualms about practicing a Mideast-style “scorched earth” policy of shattering the country into a disconnected constellation of Identity Federalized (or outright independent) statelets. Such a scenario is the only surefire way to mitigate the benefits that China receives from its strategic partnership with the country. The newly reconstituted Nigeria (if it even remains as one formally unified state by that point) would be in a much weaker position than before and its energy exporting terminals might fall into disrepair and disuse just as Libya’s currently are if a Hobbesian conflict erupts between its disparate units.
Ever since independence, Nigeria has been progressively decentralizing its conventional federation into a plethora of identity-based states, and it now appears to be on the cusp of an all-out devolution into Identity Federalism. Boko Haram’s terrorist insurgency in the north has been extremely damaging for national unity and has destabilized the surrounding provinces in the area. Worst still, it has fostered a fear of Muslims and the people in the north in general among the Christians that largely reside in the south of the country. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), which sprung up in the latter and looks intent to revive Biafra separatism, could dangerously return the country to civil war and plunge it into the center of a manufactured “clash of civilizations” scenario between Christians and Muslims. The concurrent threats posed by Boko Haram and MEND bode very negatively for Nigeria’s future and could create the conditions for a ‘compromise solution’ of Identity Federalism in the event that hostilities commence between these two radically identity-separate militant groups. This is even more so if they eventually lead to a multifaceted civil war in which Boko Haram, MEND, and the federal government are all fighting against one another.
The end result of Nigeria’s intense internal conflict would be that it becomes a much less dependable and unified partner for China, thus stymying its infrastructure and energy advancements in the continent’s most populous state and placing it at a relative disadvantage when compared to the US. Washington is less dependent on Nigeria in all ways when compared to Beijing, so its destabilization wouldn’t impact that negatively on its grand strategy, let alone its vision for Africa. In fact, the outbreak of Identity Federalism in Nigeria or the full secessionism of one of its defining geographic areas (Muslim north or Christian south, in this case) could actually be a long-term strategic goal that the US would want to see occur, since this self-destructive process could conceivably spread throughout the rest of the continent and adapt itself to the particularities of each state’s domestic situation.
China needs African unity now more than ever as it seeks to capitalize on its multilateral partners’ macro-economic potential in providing a destination for the type of outbound investment that the Great Power so desperately requires in order to sustain its growth rates (and tangentially ensure domestic stability). Identity Federalized states with varying levels of central authority over their disparate ethno-regional units are unreliable partners for the grand transnational connective infrastructure projects that Beijing has envisioned for the continent (especially in East Africa), so their inception would subvert China’s goals and weaken its entire global standing with time. Relatively speaking, this would obviously place the US at an advantage, especially if it’s able to embed its influence in or near a critical Identity Federalized transit state through which one of China’s projects may pass, which in that case would give Washington geopolitical blackmail potential over Beijing.