Germany’s far right anti-immigrant party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD), won more than 13 percent of the popular vote in national elections last Sunday to break into the German Bundestag as the party with the third-most seats. What does AfD’s success mean for Germany, and how will Europe’s other leaders, such as France’s Emmanuel Macron, respond? Paul Zajac has answers in his latest AEIdeas blog. Read it here.
All Xi’s men: Scheduled to open on October 18, the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China will be very important because, for the first time since Mao Zedong’s rule, only one man will decide all appointments – party general secretary Xi Jinping, Francesco Sisci writes. Significantly, in Mao’s time, China was a speck in the international political and economic scenery, but now it is a superpower. Of course, similar to Mao’s time, Xi will have to deal with other power centers, the party apparatus, the state-owned enterprises, the military, etc. But each of them has been or is being reformed by Xi’s rule, and they now are institutions, not factions, as they were during Deng Xiaoping’s era. READ THE STORY HERE
Pakistan’s national obsession: Since the country’s inception, policymakers, strategists and diplomats have securitized every inch of our domestic and global view, Hammal Kashani writes. Our national and international discourse, our media discourse, foreign-policy lectures, domestic debates and even our drawing-room conversations have been securitized. This obsession has made Pakistan a mere security state. Our political history, national policies and foreign-policy initiatives, relations with superpowers and regional powers, associations with Arab countries and even our economic engagements with various nations are directly or indirectly viewed within the prism of security. READ THE STORY HERE
The Promises and Perils of Syrian Kurdistan | Fritz Lodge, The Cipher Brief
As the battle against ISIS continues in the east, the political leadership of Syrian Kurdistan – the Democratic Union Party (PYD) – is quietly building a miniature state in northern Syria, or “Rojava” in Kurdish, based on the unique ideology of imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan.
Rethinking the U.S. Alliance with Kurdish Fighters in Syria | James Jeffrey, Former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq and Turkey
The U.S. must rethink relations with its highly problematic but effective ally in the ISIS fight – the Syrian Kurdish PYD – but focus on equities with Turkey as well as the overall U.S. mission in the region, facing Russian-assisted Iranian expansion.
Leftist Secularism Faces Uncertain Future in Kurdish Rojava | Amberin Zaman, Columnist, Al Monitor
"It’s too early to pass judgment on how successful the PYD model has been. First of all, it’s operating in a vacuum, it’s a conflict situation so people are far more tolerant of everything that doesn’t work as long as they receive security and some basic services. For as long as we’re in a conflict situation, we have no ways of measuring the success or lack thereof of this model."
Turkey debates retaliation if Iraqi Kurds go ahead with referendum
Turkey’s political and military leadership convenes today to discuss retaliation against Iraqi Kurds if they go through with their independence referendum slated for Monday, Sept. 25. Options on the table include military action and commercial sanctions. Turkey is reportedly considering cross-border military action as deep as 50 miles into Iraqi Kurdistan in addition to the ongoing air strikes against militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) based in the region. Ankara is also weighing closing Turkish airspace to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), slowing down KRG oil exports through Turkey, curbing energy sales, withholding trade and tightening supervision over KRG President Massoud Barzani’s companies in Turkey.
Meanwhile Iraq’s President Fuad Masum visited Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Thursday to discuss the upcoming referendum. Abadi rejected a Masum-sponsored reconciliation plan with the KRG on the grounds that it did not reject Kurdistan’s right to hold an independence referendum.
WHY THERE'S NO "BARGAINING TABLE" FOR NORTH KOREA, BEIJING'S INABILITY TO VETO U.S. SANCTIONS AGAINST PYONGYANG & PROBLEMS BLOCKADING NORTH KOREA
NORTH KOREA: How North Korea Evades UN Sanctions
By Liu Zhen, South China Morning Post: “The United Nations recently passed its strongest sanctions yet against North Korea following its sixth nuclear test. But critics have expressed doubts as to whether the sanctions would stop Pyongyang from developing nuclear weapons and if the measures would be effectively enforced.”
CHINA, RUSSIA: China, Russia Begin Naval Drills Near North Korea
By Ben Blanchard & Hyonhee Shin, Reuters: “The U.S. military staged bombing drills with South Korea over the Korean peninsula and Russia and China began naval exercises ahead of a U.N. General Assembly meeting on Tuesday where North Korea’s nuclear threat is likely to loom large.”
"...New patients had slowed to a trickle in the Forest Region of southeastern Guinea, the center of the outbreak, and there had not been a report across the border in Liberia for four weeks. Sierra Leone, although surrounded by Guinea and Liberia, had not discovered a single confirmed case.
"Like the 10 Ebola crises he had handled before, in Uganda and Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, this first substantial outbreak in West Africa seemed to be burning itself out after a few months and a few hundred infections.
“This is close to over,” Dr. Rollin told himself, a view common among the virus hunters. “That’s it for this outbreak.”
"Or so he thought. In fact, Dr. Rollin and other well-intentioned veterans of past Ebola campaigns had tragically underestimated this outbreak, overlooking clues that now seem apparent. Viewing the West Africa epidemic through the prism of nearly two dozen previous outbreaks across the continent, they failed to appreciate that the 2014 version would be unique in catastrophic ways..."
Saving the 'fraternal state'? Ideology and possible venues of Russian aggression in BelarusVladimir Podhol
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Belarus' susceptibility to Russian intervention
David R. Marples
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Putin's staying powerLeon Aron | US News & World Report | July 17, 2017
Russia's new threat to Belarus and KazakhstanLeon Aron | InsideSources | October 17, 2016
Fixing America's North Korea Strategic Failures
By Peter Layton, The National Interest : “North Korea has the initiative. It is now firing rockets over the Japanese home islands and has seemingly tested a hydrogen bomb weapon. It seems little can be done with diplomacy, economic sanctions and military threats having proved ineffective.
Nuclear earthquake threat: The respected Johns Hopkins University website 38 North says commercial satellite images show increased numbers of massive landslides near the slopes of Mount Mantap, close to North Korea’s nuclear test area, William Pesek writes. This appears to indicate that Kim Jong-un’s regime is essentially engineering giant earthquakes. It was a March 2011 quake, remember, that precipitated the Fukushima atomic plant meltdown. Ominously, South Korea is detecting traces of land-based radioactive xenon-133 gas from North Korea. These radioactive isotopes don’t occur naturally and they’ve been linked to North Korean nuclear tests in the past. In this context, 38 North’s assessment of Pyongyang’s September 3 nuclear test, its sixth, is decidedly chilling, especially from neighboring China’s perspective. READ THE STORY HERE
U.S., SOMALIA: AFRICOM Hits al Shabaab With Three 'Precision Airstrikes
By Bill Roggio, FDD's The Long War Journal: “U.S. Africa Command launched three “precision airstrikes” against Shabaab, al Qaeda’s branch in Somalia and East Africa, in southern Somalia earlier yesterday. The US military has now targeted Shabaab forces five times and killed 10 jihadist fighters over the past week.”
TURKEY, RUSSIA: Turkey Chooses Russian Missile Defense System
By Debalina Ghoshal, Eurasia Daily Monitor: “A major selling point of the S-400 system was Russia’s agreement to jointly produce the second of the two batteries purchased by Turkey.”
Turkish defense strategy: The announced acquisition of Russia’s S-400 long-range air and missile defense system, a deal said to be worth US$2.5 billion, has more to do with geopolitical posturing than military calculation, Emanuele Scimiaasserts. In strict military terms, it is not clear why Ankara is buying the S-400. Currently, its sworn enemies are the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria and the Syrian Kurds, but neither can threaten Turkey with air sorties or missile attacks. Ankara is a long-standing member of Nato, which has its own defense shield and could provide the kind of protection that the Turks are seeking. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s apparent aim is to carve out an autonomous geopolitical role for his country in the Middle East. READ THE STORY HERE
Al Qaeda Thrives Across Weak West African States
By Bennett Seftel, The Cipher Brief: “al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), was poised to wreak havoc and generate further instability throughout the Sahel. Over the past nine months, this appears to have been the case as AQIM has accelerated its operations and stretched its target set into new territories.”
Economic Development in West Africa Can Counter Terror | David R. Shedd, Former Acting Director, Defense Intelligence Agency
"[There is a] need to enhance outreach with partner nations in that area so that improving civil society is a priority as part of the counterterrorism efforts. That means coming in with education and other longer term efforts that address the grievances associated with some of the things that AQIM takes advantage of."
Sahel Governments Need More Security Assistance | Michael Shurkin, Senior Political Scientist, RAND Corporation
Insecurity in northern and central Mali, the epicenter of much of the region’s al Qaeda-related violence, continues to grow, while Islamist violence has spread from there and from northern Nigeria to Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger.
CHALLENGES TO AMERICAN PRIMACY, WILLIAM KRISTOL TALKS WITH THOMAS DONNELLY & JOINT STRIKE FORCE MOVES TO SOUTH KOREA FOR UNIFICATION
NORTH KOREA: North Korea May Have Detonated 250-kiloton Bomb
By Elizabeth Shim, UPI: “The most recent satellite images of North Korea's nuclear site taken Friday show a greater number of surface disturbances following Pyongyang's sixth nuclear test than previous tests at Punggye-ri, U.S. analysts say.”
Shabaab targets Mogadishu with series of car bombings
This year has seen at least 32 car bombings in Mogadishu, which represents an increase in this type of attack. Shabaab has claimed the vast majority, which have killed or wounded at least 242 people.
Video shows Taliban overran district center in Afghan east
Afghan officials denied that the Gomal district center in Paktika province was overrun at the end of August. Video shows that Gomal was indeed seized by the Taliban.