Opinion: Bulgaria and the “hybrid war”

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Opinion: Bulgaria and the "hybrid war"

Originally appeared at A-specto, translated by Borislav exclusively for SouthFront

After the collapse of the unipolar neoliberal model of a “world order”, we are witnessing a profound change in the paradigm of international relations. There are a number of factors that clearly speak of the destruction of the general system of international rules, of a series of violations of international law in different regions of the world. Humanity is heading toward, albeit inconsistently, to a multipolar world, looking for the moderate balance between market efficiency and the welfare state. In this quest, the main faults of the modern world find their expression and materialize it’s contradictions. In general terms it comes to such global divisions as “North-South”, “the Anglo-Saxon community US, EU and Eurasia”, “US – China”, “G20 and the rest of the world,” etc. Divisions, that although sometimes are contingent, categorically illustrate the contradictions and high inequality in economic, cultural and social spheres of contemporary human society. These violent confrontations also birth active local conflicts (Arab world and Isis, Ukraine-Russia and Russia -Turkey). They also gave birth to “color revolutions” and the migrant threat to Europe, and above all “global terrorism.” But while a quarter century ago, during the “Cold War” the military-political relations were defining and their mutual control allowed both systems to ensure lasting peace in the world, today the challenges are manifold and create an unjustified illusion that they are not so substantial and since they are more easily surmountable will not disrupt the global balance and threaten world peace.
In this direction should be sought the moral motives and justifications for using elements of “hybrid war” to resolve in their own interest, the geopolitical and local goals and objectives of an individual or a group of countries.

Without going into the theoretical development of the problem I will only explain three things about “hybrid war”. First we have to most definitely and clearly explain that this is a war, containing a complex of measures aimed at all areas of the national security of a country, excluding only it’s territorial sovereignty.

The second important point is that in most cases these are events with strategic nature which rely mostly on their implicit and lasting impact, and the lack of a local self-defense because any direct sign is absent – as would be a military encroachment on the sovereignty of the State.

The third main point is most important and that is the maxim that the more rich and powerful a country is, the more active, diverse and successful a “hybrid war” may be in a global, and in local plan. As to the nature of the individual elements of “hybrid warfare” they include targeted action to the detriment of:

~ cultural and information fields – creating a favorable environment for a tendentious impact on public opinion;

~ economy – actions to crash and deindustrialize;

~ agriculture – land deconsolidation and selling land to foreigners;

~ education – lowering the level and brainwashing the national consciousness of the young generation;

~ defense – eradication of the fighting capacity of the national army and special services.

The list can be extended and enriched, but the main goal is to conquer the country concerned, possibly without direct military aggression.

Where is Bulgaria in all this?

If we paraphrase a Chinese wisdom – “we Bulgarians have the good fortune to live at an interesting place in interesting times.” Unfortunately for us, Bulgaria is located in one of the most active geopolitical and geostrategic faults of today. A place where you can meet the interests of NATO and Russia, Turkey and Russia, as well as in the Black Sea region and in Syria and the Middle East. Our proximity to the territories of the Middle East and North Africa creates immediate conditions, thanks to the “Arab Spring” to be affected by the processes of redistribution not only of spheres of influence, but the redistribution of state borders in the region. After all, we are in the Balkans, where we should expect the interests of big global players to seek new solutions. And finally, Islamist terrorism knocking on our “European external border” in conjunction with a monstrous in their dimensions refugee wave threatening to destroy Christian European civilization. In fact, how naive must you be to think that Bulgaria will remain an island of stability and that someone will allow us, let alone help our country to realize economic and social ascension? As they say – I ask and do not want an answer! The current condition of the Bulgarian state clearly shows that without true friends in the last 25 years, Bulgaria was not a subject but an object (territory) of a big series of strategic destabilizing events that led to:

~ Total collapse and complete deindustrialization of the economy

~ Liquidation of agriculture and uncontrolled sale of agricultural land

~ Liquidation of the army and security services, key elements in the national security system

~ Collapse of the criteria and level of education, through permanent reforms with a single purpose – illiterate and nationally faithless generation

~ Silent creeping Islamisation through religious education and uncontrolled construction of new mosques

~ Daily and forceful replacement of national and moral values ​​through 24-hour exposure to electronic media, domestic and foreign.

The list could be extended, but with the naked eye we can see that our country appears as a kind of “experimental laboratory” for the realization of a series of elements of the notorious “hybrid war.” These are strategic, long-term, mostly veiled activities in the areas we listed above and who consistently continue to be implemented today. So that’s it’s clearer, as typical examples we can cite the notorious plan “Ran-Utt”, the military “Vision 2020”, the protocols for admission to the EU, especially the chapter “Energy” and the chapter “Agriculture”, various concessions for natural resources, privatization of strategic objects such as “Neftochem” the Maritsa electricity plants, BGA “Balkan”, etc.

In parallel, our society is subject to a series obvious, “ad-hoc” events, which I call “stress tests”. Through these, the interested sides, periodically check social moods in certain social circles using social agencies, their NGOs and foundations, and the relations between them in a particular subject area. For example, in the last 2-3 months we have seen a peculiar ‘sociological tests” in line the attitude towards “the former State Security “, “communism – anti-communism “, “the Corporate Commercial Bank – oligarchy ” etc. These tests are done in a regular manner to keep a “hand on the pulse of society” and in a targeted manner for an impact in critical social situations (see “the protesters on the yellow pavements”).

During this period, the largest response was the “stress test” on the national question, ie on the one hand “Ottoman sway” vs “Turkish yoke” and on the other – “the bilateral relations and Turkey’s intervention in the political life of the country.” No need for special analysis to conclude that Bulgarian society has survived the test and basically responded appropriately to both internal and external challenges. In general, the reaction of the public was that the compromise on this issue at the present time we will not, and can not have. And this is despite the efforts of a series of grant based NGOs and despite the frantic desire of a large part of Bulgarian politicians with Anglo-Saxon orientation.

Our analysis would not be complete if we do not mention the extremely inadequate reaction of official Bulgarian authorities who allowed a series of gaffes due to an effort to not harm the “traditionally good Bulgarian-Turkish relations,” in the words of our ambassador to Turkey, Ms. Neynski. The Ministry of Internal Affairs failed to respond appropriately to a brazen attempt of Lyutvi Mestan to make the state leadership intervene in his internal political party battles, as well as the bungled explanations of the Turkish ambassador of the “guest visit” of Mestan in the Ambassadors Turkish embassy residence. The inadequate response of the ministry, and the majority of the media, to the announcement  of a “ban on visits to Turkey of Peevski and Dogan” let to my assessment that the Turkish side aims to solve at least two goals of it’s active event, although there’s still no official confirmation of the ban. The created extraordinary publicity and media noise in practice enabled the de facto legitimization of an unregistered official party of Lyutvi Mestan, while this publicity allows the Turkish side to make a direct warning to the entire electorate of (pro Turkish political party) DPS as to whom Turkey supports and what awaits them in the future.

The pinnacle turned out to be the decision of the National Assembly for the creation of a parliamentary commission to investigate the actions of Russia and Turkey as to whether they intervene in the internal affairs of Bulgaria. One could hardly invent a more botched diplomatic and untenable conclusion to this saga in the Bulgarian-Turkish relations. For this Commission, future researchers of parliamentary practice in Bulgaria will one day write at least a treatise on the thoughtlessness and shortsightedness of the MP’s that created it. In this connection, I can say that with the establishment of this committee, the Bulgarian Parliament officially delegitimizes before the world our main state institutions, declaring that it doubts their past activity, and so puts them under direct control. With this act the Bulgarian Parliament displayed a lack of basic knowledge in the field of diplomacy, and creates a very negative precedent in our relations with Turkey and Russia, whatever the result of the Commission.

The negative effect without any doubt will find it’s reflection in all spheres of bilateral relations and it is correct to expect retaliation from both sides. We can say with enough reason that at this stage the implementation and realization of the elements of neo-ottomanist Turkish national doctrine of “strategic depth” in it’s entirety would best illustrate the “hybrid warfare” being waged on Bulgarian territory. Starting without being completely exhaustive with the cultural and informational environment, to religious education and mosques, the buying of businesses and land, and finally to the open interference in the internal political life by trying to split DPS and to create a new pro Turkish party.

Finally we come to the resonating question – can Bulgaria oppose this “hybrid war” on it’s territory, led by the countries concerned? By what means and to what extent?

Let’s start answering backwards! It’s naive to think that Bulgaria is able to save itself fully from the impact of modern total “hybrid war”. It’s naive to believe that Bulgaria will remain an island of stability, and that someone will allow us, let alone help our country to realize economic and social betterment! The cruel reality is that we today as a country have neither the economic nor the financial or technological resources to confront this “soft” invasion. So what can Bulgarian society rely on today? I think the only way is to try to use both our membership in EU and NATO, and the still close relations with Russia. And of course use our geostrategic position.

Internationally, this can be a skillfully led foreign policy of the country with which to find a successful combination and a good balance of allied and national interest. This would mean that strict adherence to the fundamental principles of contracts with NATO and the EU, while in line with our national interests oppose the economic sanctions to Russia and strongly attempt to realize the energy projects with Russia. In a word, to try to neutralize the current desires of global and regional players to destabilize our country as to become an unavoidable partner in projects for the future of the region, within which we can still play a significant role.

We understand that this is an extremely ambitious and difficult task before the current Bulgarian diplomacy, mainly because both it’s development and in it’s possible realization, will not be able to publicly refer to Brussels. It will simply be a Bulgarian position!

Also, closer analysis shows that we have much greater opportunities internally. What and who prevents us from creating a national doctrine, or addressing in an organized way, the several million of our overseas diaspora to solve issues with Bulgarian citizenship? Nobody should be able to stop us from bringing order in education and health, to limit us in the sphere of social policy and the fight against demographic collapse, to urgently accept that much needed law on Islamic religion, etc. Since I am biased I would not want to go into the field of military and special services, but that’s where national efforts are most needed, because we are talking about sovereignty and the overall security of the state.

But the real answer is so simple and clear, and maybe that’s why the political class avoids name it. And it is one – the state, represented by the executive and parliamentary power to stand in it’s place, looking at the real agenda of society. There should be no doubt that Bulgaria has the intellectual and professional capacity to solve it’s problems! They have to competently organize and manage. The situation at present is such, that these vital for the survival of the Bulgarian state problems and tasks, can not become “testing ground” for individual public organizations and foreign NGOs and foundations for a series of foreign experts and well-wishers.

Dear politicians, and executive and parliamentary power, accept the National doctrine and start to execute it, because there is real danger that we will be forced to perform it before you write it. Time waits for no one. It will not wait and you!

Goran Simeonov, chairman of ARZ (personal opinion)

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  • Harry11

    Bulgaria should return to its Orthodox roots and ally themselves with like minded people (Russia).

    The farther Bulgaria is from these roots, whether in the form of Nato/EU alliance, secularism, nationalism, communism or whatever ism, the worse off they will be.

  • rvm

    Well said ! Bu why this article should be an “Opinion” ? Sadly this is the real staff that happens now in Bulgaria. Anyhow, I think that in the near future our goverment either will resume our relations with our brothers and sisters in Russia or theъ will suffer the consequences…hope it will not be as same as in Ukraine