On the weekend of February 8, 2020, a storm ripped through Ireland. Storm Ciara was one of the worst of its kind for many years. Its winds, snows, and driving rains caused havoc with landslides and flooding. At the same time, a political storm ripped through the Irish political landscape. Sinn Féin up-ended the political […]
Storms Over the Emerald Isle K. V. Turley
On the weekend of February 8, 2020, a storm ripped through Ireland. Storm Ciara was one of the worst of its kind for many years. Its winds, snows, and driving rains caused havoc with landslides and flooding. At the same time, a political storm ripped through the Irish political landscape. Sinn Féin up-ended the political […]
One Brexit effect is that the nation from which the Anglosphere ultimately derives is reassessing many of its most important relationships. Read More »
Explaining Washington's New Pro-Ankara Policy by Seth Frantzman
The Jerusalem Post
February 12, 2020
Turkey's "Defense Line": An Ideological Front
By Irina Tsukerman, February 14, 2020
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Turkey's latest moves in Libya and the eastern Mediterranean should be viewed in the context of the recent Kuala Lumpur Summit, which announced the emergence of a new ideological bloc to counter Saudi Arabia consisting of Iran, Turkey, Qatar, and Malaysia. Turkey's new geopolitical strategy is as much ideological as it is "defensive."
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Fresh currency fears loom over Turkey
Despite a series of unconventional measures to keep hard currency prices in check, Turkey appears headed for fresh currency turmoil.
AFRICAN CONTAINMENT OF MILITANTS, NOT COUNTER-TERROR IS NEW REGIONAL POLICY, WHERE TO PUT NEW INF MISSILES & THE SYRIAN REGIME HOLDS ON WITH AL-QAEDA REMNANTS
With limited resources, US military shifts strategy from degrading militants in West Africa to containment
(Military Times) Violence by militant groups in West Africa has spiked 250 percent over the last two years but constrained resources and manpower has pushed the U.S. military to switch strategies from degrading terror groups to containment, according to a recent inspector general report.
Where could the US put its post-INF missiles?
(Defense One) The Trump administration said leaving the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty would allow the development and deployment of strategically and tactically new missiles in the Pacific region. But it’s not at all clear that U.S. officials will be able to persuade its allies to accept these missiles in useful locations
Pentagon Slashes Funding for Islamic State Fight
By Jack Detsch, Al-Monitor: “The Pentagon’s request would slash funding for the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces to $200 million, down by a third from last year — money that will focus on “helping to provide wide-area security in liberated areas, addressing the ongoing [IS] threat, preventing [IS] re-emergence and setting conditions for long-term stability.””
Coronavirus Proves Immune to Political Correctness
By BETSY McCAUGHEY, Special to the Sun | February 12, 2020
The Political Effects of China’s Biological Chernobyl
By Bradley A. Thayer & Lianchao Han, RealClearDefense: "Much truth is revealed in a crisis. The continuing and ever-worsening effects of the coronavirus epidemic in China, and now the world, spark political facts about the true nature of the regime—how the country is really run—and why it caused a challenging problem to become a global catastrophe."
Shiro Ishii, commander of Unit 731, which performed live human vivisections and other biological experimentation
What America Can Learn From its Mistakes in Syria by Daphne McCurdy
Africa: The First U.S. Casualty of the New Information Warfare Against China by Caleb Slayton
The Grim Reality of the Cruel Seas by Claude Berub
MOSCOW'S MESS: TURKISH INCURSIONS INTO SYRIA; A REVIEW OF TRUMP'S PEACE OFFERING TO ABBAS; LOOKING AT SALIFS ON THE SUBCONTINENT AND WHO REPLACES AL-SISTANI IN IRAQ?
Turkey faces potential Russian blowback on Syria — and tomatoes are only the beginning
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan finds himself in a tough spot with Russia as tensions in Syria have escalated dramatically. In a rare direct military confrontation between Turkish and Syrian regime forces, 14 Turkish soldiers and over 100 regime troops were killed in two separate clashes in Idlib over the past 10 days.
Facing Few Obstacles and Scant Pushback, Russia Keeps Advancing in Africa
By Stephen Blank, Eurasia Daily Monitor: " According to numerous analyses published by think tanks and journals in the United States and Europe, Russia lost its African adventure before it even started."
The Result of 20 Years of Putin: Russia as a Mafia State
In January, Russia has gone through a political upheaval initiated by Vladimir Putin: proposal for constitutional reform, resignation of the government, appointment of a new cabinet. The pace and scale of these events led some commentators to call them a “constitutional coup.” However, if one is to follow the logic of the regime, the president’s latest decisions should not come as a surprise.
Nataliya Bugayova writes: Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a new phase in his campaign to retain power after 2024 when his current term expires. Putin offered Russians a revised social contract. Putin is reconfiguring the balance of power within the Russian government as he seeks to carve out an optimal spot for himself. Putin is in uncharted territory, trying to create a new transition model for Russia. […]His approach is working so far, with the Kremlin’s opposition disarmed and the public unclear on the net implications of the changes. – Institute for the Study of War
Zvi Bar’el writes: So far, Russia is relating to Erdogan’s statements with cold politeness while continuing to talk about combating terror. Turkey is still an important ally, particularly in the diplomatic battle Russia is waging against the United States, but Russia is keen on ending the war in Syria quickly, so it can cut its outlays and transfer full control to Assad. If Turkey is perceived as an obstacle in Russia’s way, their alliance may be enveloped by a dangerous winter frost. – Haaretz
Gonul Tol writes: While Turkey dials up its criticism of Moscow, Erdogan, who is desperate to attract European investment in the country’s troubled economy, has welcomed German Chancellor Angela Merkel.[…] Despite the long list of problems in Turkey-U.S. relations, the worst that many expected in the form of U.S. sanctions has not materialized yet. And Ankara is threading cautiously to make sure it stays that way. – Middle East Institute
Daniel Pipes writes: So, while transferring the Galilee Triangle from Israeli to Palestinian control looks like an elegant and simple win-win solution, it is sadly infeasible. The Israeli government has apparently rejected it. Of course, this topic drips with irony. The same Israeli Arabs who bluster contempt for the Jewish state and praise the murderers of Jewish children (note the extremists who serve as their parliamentary representatives) also desperately hope to stay in it rather than become part of Palestine. – Jerusalem Post
David Makovsky writes: The Trump plan’s parameters on borders and Jerusalem suggest that the administration has moved the U.S. position sharply in the direction of Israel’s current government. In the most hopeful scenario, the combination of a tough new U.S. approach and the initial openness of Arab states to consider the plan as a point of departure could jolt the Palestinians to decide that time is not on their side, perhaps leading the parties to resume talks and find suitable compromises. In a less hopeful scenario, Palestinian anger toward the plan proves too strong to dispel, and unilateral Israeli annexations in the West Bank produce broad international opposition to the plan, essentially ending any near-term prospects of negotiations or a two-state solution. – Washington Institute
Ghaith al-Omari writes: All previous U.S. plans envisioned a solution for the Palestinian refugee issue consistent with the idea of two states for two peoples. […]By radically departing from certain key tenets seen in previous initiatives, the Trump administration may have undermined its ability to build an international coalition in support of its plan. This was on clear display at the aforementioned Arab League and OIC meetings, and will probably continue to shape the diplomatic discourse in days to come. – Washington Institute
Bobby Ghosh writes: Iraq’s senior-most cleric has no militia, but his huge Shiite following makes his blessing essential for any prime minister. Sistani has expressed sympathy with the protests, opposes Iranian and American influences alike, and has called for a cleansing of country’s politics. Like the protesters, he believes the country needs fresh elections. – Bloomberg
Ibrahim Jalal writes: While the GPC works to resolve intra-party divisions and the Sanaa-based branch struggles to oppose Houthi orders as per Saleh’s last statement, the Gulf countries have made their bet, viewing the GPC as useful even in post-war Yemen. […]Looking ahead to Yemen’s post-war political landscape, another party must emerge from the ashes of war, to heal the grievances of the Yemeni people that have accumulated over the last decade. – Middle East Institute
Mohammed Sinan Siyech writes: Two lessons can be derived from the comparative study of Salafists in India and Pakistan. First, no religious ideology can be considered a harbinger of violence. If this were true, then Salafists who are normally decried as conveyor belts to violence would have turned violent in India. Second, political externalities play a more potent role in radicalizing and militarizing movements than do ideologies. It is for this reason that, broadly speaking, the very same dynamics that radicalize small segments of the Muslim population in Pakistan do the same for some Hindus in India. – Middle East Institute
Suleyman Ozeren, Suat Cubukcu, and Matthew Bastug write: However, as Erdogan runs into more challenges and loses his popular support, he will likely resort to more authoritarian measures to keep a grip on power. He may also double-down on the AKP’s revolutionary Islamist agenda—with disturbing implications for the search for order in the Middle East, for the security of Europe, and for the future of Turkey itself. – Hudson Institute
Kayla Koontz writes: Despite the introduction of a new assembly in 2018, Turkey’s October invasion of northeast Syria provided ample incentives for the launch of new investigations into HDP members protesting the operation. The targeting of the HDP has set new legal and political precedents that could undermine the political capacity of the opposition coalition as a whole and create ideological divisions over the so-called “Kurdish Question.” – Middle East Institute
Brandon Wallace writes: Allawi is unlikely to gather the political capital necessary to execute reforms or fair elections. Indeed, Iraqi political parties may have agreed to his premiership precisely because they would prefer a weak caretaker prior to elections. Political elite are more likely to repress protesters with a weak PM in office. However, the designation of Allawi furthers the very conditions that protesters are demonstrating against. – Institute for the Study of War
Rockets hit US Embassy in Baghdad
Three rockets struck the US Embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone on Sunday, wounding one person in the first known direct hit inside the heavily fortified compound. Iraqi leaders condemned the incident and called for a quick investigation. Meanwhile, security forces shot at anti-government protesters in Baghdad over the weekend, killing at least one person and injuring dozens, while unidentified militiamen burned sit-in tents in the southern city of Nasiriya. Iraq has increasingly become a battleground between Iran and United States since after the assassination of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani earlier this month, adding fuel to the unrest the country has witnessed since mass protests erupted in October.
Israel allows citizens to travel to Saudi Arabia
Israel's Interior Minister Aryeh Deri signed an order on Sunday allowing Israelis to travel to Saudi Arabia in the latest sign of warming relations with the Gulf Arab monarchies. The new rules allow travel to Saudi Arabia for religious pilgrimages or for business trips of up to 90 days. Travelers will need an invitation from a Saudi official.
Saudi Arabia denies Israel's claim that Israelis can now visit the kingdom
Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan denied Monday that Israeli citizens can enter the kingdom after Israel's Interior Minister Aryeh Deri announced Sunday that they can now travel to Saudi Arabia for religious pilgrimages and business trips. “Our policy is fixed. We do not have relations with the State of Israel, and Israeli passport holders cannot visit the kingdom at the current time,” Prince Faisal told CNN. He added that an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement must be reached first, before discussing relations with Israel.
Slain Iranian general Qassim Solemaini’s militias are secretly fighting in Syria’s final rebel stronghold, radio communications leaked to the Telegraph show. The rare recordings reveal how Iranian soldiers and Afghan mercenaries are directing military operations in Idlib, northwest Syria, in a battle they had promised not to take part in during peace talks. – Telegraph
Jeremy Hodge writes: Syrian activists report that the Assad regime has launched its most intense assault since the beginning of the war almost nine years ago. The target is Idlib, the last opposition holdout in northwestern Syria. All indicators suggest that the campaign will produce a new humanitarian disaster and be the beginning of a final confrontation between the Syrian National Army (SNA)—an alliance of Turkish-backed armed opposition forces—and Russian-Iranian-backed pro-Assad units. – Daily Beast
RUSSIA LEADS FROM BEHIND IN LIBYA, WHILE ASSAD AND HIFTER MOVES ON TO CONSOLIDATE & PUTIN'S LONG GOODBYE; israel and lebanon begin new governments
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lobbed a rare direct attack at the emirate of Abu Dhabi over its backing of Khalifa Haftar and the Russian mercenaries fighting on his behalf in Libya. – Bloomberg
Turkey is pushing a new “road map” for Libya, focusing on a conflict 1,000 km from Ankara, while a few kilometers from Turkey’s border refugees are being driven from their homes in Idlib by a Moscow-backed Syrian offensive. – Jerusalem Post
Aaron Y. Zelin writes: For all the reasons laid out here, Washington should continue to engage Tunis in addressing the range of jihadist challenges it faces. […]To thwart the reemergence of ISL, meanwhile, the United States should continue to coordinate airstrikes and share intelligence with its partners in Libya. This will help break up ISL camps and prevent an Iraq- or Syria-style resurgence, which could cut into Tunisia’s existing progress. Setting aside these challenges, the United States should publicly recognize and applaud Tunisia’s successes, thereby encouraging regional stability and stronger relations in areas of mutual interest. – Washington Institute
Russia’s 'leading from behind' strategy on Libya
Russia’s Libya policy is less about Libya and more about Europe, hence Moscow’s preference to let the Europeans take the public lead on the conflict.
What's in store for Iraq's PMU after death of top commander?
The Popular Mobilization Units will face fragmentation and division after the assassination of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who was the backbone of the Iran-backed organization.
Algeria strives to regain prominence as world powers debate Libya's future
Despite Algeria's best efforts, nine years of conflict in neighboring Libya have essentially brought an international proxy war to Algiers' doorstep.
Libya’s eastern forces advance toward Misrata
Heavy clashes between Libya’s rival forces erupted Sunday as troops loyal to eastern military strongman Khalifa Hifter advanced toward the city of Misrata, threatening a shaky cease-fire. The fighting comes amid growing international diplomacy to uphold a lasting cease-fire in Libya, where Hifter has led a monthslong assault against the UN-backed government in Tripoli.
On Sunday, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune hosted his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss the situation in Libya. At a press conference with Tebboune, Erdogan said Turkey is committed to stand by the UN-backed government in Libya, whose instability threatens Algeria. Erdogan next travels to Gambia and Senegal as part of a three-nation African tour.
Assad’s forces inch closer to key town in Idlib
Bashar al-Assad’s forces reached the outskirts of a key rebel-held town on Sunday, after taking control of several towns in the northwestern province of Idlib. Pro-regime media said government forces are “just around the corner” of Maaret al-Numan, through which passes a major highway linking Damascus to Aleppo. The regime’s renewed push, backed by Russian airstrikes, comes despite a Russian-Turkish cease-fire in the country’s last rebel stronghold.
Separately, at least seven people were killed and more than 20 others injured in a car bomb Sunday in the city of Azaz in northern Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The attack occurred in a busy area of the city, which is under the control of Turkish-backed rebels. No party has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, greeted to a fanfare arrival Sunday in Algiers, said the North African nation is “important for the stability of the region,” an apparent bow to Algerian efforts to play a key role in unwinding chaos in neighboring Libya. – Associated Press
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday urged international pressure to force the head of Libya’s eastern-based forces to abide by a tentative truce and said Turkey was determined to continue supporting Libya’s U.N.-backed government. – Associated Press
Rachel Avraham writes: One might ponder, how will all of this affect the State of Israel? Over the short run, it won’t affect Israel too much. Hezbollah is too busy consolidating power in Lebanon and trying to gain influence in Iraq in order to be bothered with Israel. Nevertheless, even though Hezbollah will be busy with other matters over the short run, that does not mean that Hezbollah does not pose a long-term strategic threat to Israel. […]For this reason, Israel should act now against Hezbollah when they are weak instead of waiting for them to attack once they get their house in order. – Arutz Sheva
Hanin Ghaddar and Matthew Levitt write: Against the backdrop of three months of political and economic protests, Lebanese politicians appear to have reached a deal establishing a nominally technocratic government in Beirut. […]The formation of a new Lebanese government has been a central demand of the international community and a necessary precondition for any international aid. But that is not enough. The government must quickly take action to fight corruption and enhance transparency. For a country that has run on corruption and political patronage, this will be a very heavy lift. – The Hill
Nathali Goulet writes: Lebanon’s stability concerns us all because it is an essential part of the stability of the Middle East — which is why the international community must place itself at the disposal of the new Prime Minister and ensure at the first request the implementation of its policy for recovery of stolen and misappropriated assets. – The Hill
Michael Rubin writes: Perhaps with Belgium taking a fresh look at the PKK, it is time for the United States also to reconsider the evidence that led to the PKK’s terror designation under U.S. law. It is now clear that Turkish evidence is not reliable and is often fabricated. Further, the circumstances of PKK designation in 1997 — thirteen years after its insurgency began and apparently timed to be a sweetener to a Clinton administration arms sale to Turkey — suggest that its original designation is more diplomatic than objective. – Washington Examiner
MAPPING IRAN'S BATTLE PLANS; GRAY ZONES MULTIPLY: US ENEMIES WAGE GLOBAL WAR & WHY MARKETS MATTER FOR THE LONG WAR
Grey zone is the new black
Too many smart people don’t grasp that a war is being waged against us
Propeller of Growth
Allison Schrager, City Journal
Technology and globalization are changing the nature of work and commerce, displacing workers, and altering the way of life for many people. In response to this uncertain economic environment, policymakers from both parties have become preoccupied with reducing risk. But many of their risk-management proposals go too far, address the wrong sources of risk, and would undermine America’s economic leadership. Read more here..
No market exists in a social vacuum, and hardly any market exists in a political vacuum.
Read More »
Iran’s Reserve of Last Resort:
Uncovering the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Ground Forces Order of Battle
By Fred Kagan, AEI: "Qassem Soleimani’s death, the prospect of further U.S.-Iranian military escalation, and the reemergence of large protests in Iran in recent months raise the question of Iran’s capacity to conduct military operations beyond its borders while suppressing dissent within them."
The end of Obama’s Middle East
Matthew Continetti | Commentary
Trump's killing of Qassem Soleimani was the death knell for the yearslong failure of Obama's attempted rapprochement with the Iranian regime.
The arc of America’s history is bent by institutions
Timothy P. Carney | Washington Examiner
Trump rejects the fake separation between Iran and its militias
No longer playing Iran's game
HOOVER DIGEST ISSUE peruse the entire issue on the Hoover website.
Despite tentative government efforts to wrestle parts of the gold industry away from Sudan’s security services and back under state or private control, questions remain about whether Sudan can truly transition to democracy while the politically powerful RSF run a parallel economy all of their own. – The Guardian
America Shouldn’t Abandon Its Allies in the Sahel by Olivier-Rémy Bel
Olivier-Rémy Bel writes: Thus, a limited but critical American investment — airlift and surveillance assets — would go a long way towards ensuring that Europe remains both a willing and able ally in the great-power game. That investment needs not be endless. Europeans are stepping up. France purchased C-130J transport aircraft and Reaper drones to fill capability gaps. Denmark and the United Kingdom have sent lift helicopters. European forces, from Estonia to Germany, the Czech Republic to Spain, Finland to Portugal, are deploying in the Sahel to an unprecedented extent, either in Barkhane, the EU’s training mission, or the UN stabilization mission. – War on the Rocks
Sanctioned by the West and spurned by China, Zimbabwe has turned to the United Arab Emirates in its latest bid to find a savior that can arrest the collapse of its economy. Zimbabwe’s government has approached the U.A.E. in hopes of selling a stake in its national oil company, according to three company and government officials familiar with the plan. It also wants companies in the U.A.E. to buy more of its gold, they said. – Bloomberg
Algeria seeks coordination with neighbors on Libya
Algeria hosted officials from Libya’s neighbors on Thursday to discuss a fragile truce in the country and ways to limit foreign influence. The meeting aimed to strengthen “coordination between countries neighboring Libya and international players to accompany Libyans in reviving the political settlement process,” the Algerian government said. Foreign ministers from Egypt, Tunisia, Chad, Niger, Sudan and Mali attended the meeting, as well as Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. Berlin over the weekend hosted a summit to discuss the situation in Libya, where eastern military strongman Khalifa Hifter is leading a monthslong assault against the UN-backed government in Tripoli.
Separately, the Libyan capital’s only operational airport resumed flights on Thursday, one day after shutting down due to a rocket attack. The Mitiga airport has been repeatedly hit since the start of Hifter’s offensive last April.
Rwanda and neighboring countries in Africa’s Great Lakes region are at risk of worsening violence if the different countries back rival rebel forces to destabilize each other, according to a report by the International Crisis Group. – Bloomberg
The Sahel is facing an unprecedented wave of violence, with more than 4,000 deaths reported last year, and a bloody start to 2020. – The Guardian
Robert Burns, Abdi Guled and Cara Anna write: Islamic extremists are already exploiting possible U.S. military cuts in Africa that have caused a rare bipartisan outcry in Washington, with lawmakers stressing the need to counter China and Russia and contain a growing threat from Islamic State group affiliates. […]The Pentagon’s possible reduction of U.S. troops in Africa is part of a worldwide review by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who is looking for ways to tighten the focus on China and Russia. It is not known when a decision will be announced, but officials say Esper has made clear the U.S. will not withdraw from Africa entirely. – Associated Press
SDF commander says Kurds ready for dialogue if Ankara is sincere
In an exclusive interview with Al-Monitor in northeast Syria, General Mazlum Kobane spoke on a range of issues including prospects for reviving dialogue with Turkey, President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw US troops from Syria and the impact of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani's killing in Iraq.
What we need to learn about the Mideast
Michael Rubin | New York Daily News
Libya’s warring sides to sign cease-fire deal in Moscow
The leaders of Libya’s warring parties are expected to arrive in Moscow today to sign a cease-fire agreement brokered by Russia and Turkey. The internationally recognized government in Tripoli and forces loyal to eastern military strongman Khalifa Hifter over the weekend accepted the cease-fire that went into effect on Sunday, despite reports of violations by both sides. Russia and Turkey, which support opposing sides in the conflict, have stepped up diplomatic efforts in recent weeks to end Hifter's monthslong offensive against Tripoli. Russian mercenaries back Hifter while Turkey has sent troops to support the beleaguered UN-backed Government of National Accord. Representatives of the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, which support Hifter, are also expected to attend the talks as observers.
Jonathan Spyer is a Middle East analyst, author and journalist specializing in the Levant and Iraq. He is the director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis (MECRA), a Research Fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Strategy and Security and a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
Robotics are making Iran’s military more dangerous than ever
Michael Rubin | The National Interes
Iran can play the long game
Kenneth Pollack | RealClearWorld
Iran responded to the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani exactly as it said it would, with an overt military strike against a pair of American military targets. While the strike was perfunctory and mostly painless for the United States, we should not assume Iran’s retaliation is over.
India-Bangladesh on a diplomatic tightropeFor the current Bangladeshi regime, maintaining the stance that the formation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the subsequent enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) are India’s “internal matter” has become an increasingly difficult task. Sheikh Hasina’s government has been having a hard time assuaging the increasing number of opposing voices inside the country, who termed her reaction toward India’s controversial actions as “soft.” Faisal Mahmud has the story.
Nile Bowie here examines how global markets and oil prices have whipsawed over the last few days as Iran’s retaliatory strikes against American military bases in Iraq were followed by conciliatory statements from US President Donald Trump and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, that signaled, at least for now, that the hostilities will not spiral into full-blown war.
Christina Lin explores how China might have taken sides with Iran if all-out war had broken out. Joint war games, held at the end of December in the Gulf of Oman, sent a clear signal to the US, argues Lin, that “Iran is not isolated and has powerful allies.”
However, Stephen Bryen argues that the notion of any real military alliance among China, Russia and Iran is “questionable” and talk of any form of combined Chinese and Russian military intervention in Iran remains “unrealistic.” “Legally speaking,” writes Bryen, “neither Russia nor China has a security agreement or defense treaty with Iran.”
For MK Bhadrakumar, these military exercises ultimately “gained little” for Iran but instead helped Moscow and Beijing more, by allowing them “to thumb their noses at Washington.”
Indeed, as Christina Lin points out, the exercises may have been an attempt by Beijing and Moscow to sully American prestige in the Middle East but neither party wants all-out war. Beijing “needs Mideast stability to pursue the Belt and Road Initiative Eurasian integration plan,” writes Lin. “It has large stakes in Iran’s stability: It is the largest buyer of Iranian oil, China is Iran’s largest trading partner, and Iran is a key geographic node for the BRI.”
Lin says China has tried to balance its relationship with Saudi Arabia and Iran in the Middle East and set up a firewall between the two, “although Iran is more significant in China’s strategic calculus given the fact Saudi Arabia and other Arab Gulf countries are still under the US security umbrella and host US military bases."
US-Iran climbdown gives markets cause for pause by Nile Bowie
China might take Iran’s side in a war with US by Christina Lin
There’s a silver lining in a potential US-Iran war by Stephen Bryen
Iran opting for ‘total war’ against US by MK Bhadrakumar
Trump moves to de-escalate Iran crisis by Pepe Escobar
Jihadism in South Asia: A militant landscape in flux
South Asia is home to more Islamist terrorist organizations than any other region of the world, but at the turn of the decade the region's two leading global jihadist groups are facing a severe leadership vacuum following the death of ISIS’s supreme leader and caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and the killing of al-Qaeda heir apparent Hamza bin Laden.
A Guide to Getting Real on Iran by Aaron Stein
Will the killing of Soleimani be the death knell for Trump’s own Middle East strategy?
The killing of Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia chief Abu Mehdi al-Muhandis was an important tactical victory, but the crucial question is whether the Trump administration can parlay it into a wider strategic victory and avoid it becoming a strategic defeat, writes Kenneth Pollack.
In killing Soleimani, Trump enforces the red line he drew on Iran
President Donald Trump’s decision to kill Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani should have come as no surprise to the Iranian regime, explains Marc Thiessen. The administration had drawn a clear red line, warning Iranian leaders they would pay a severe price if they killed a US citizen.
Iran's Missiles and Its Evolving "Rings of Fire"
By Uzi Rubin, January 9, 2020
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s warning on the emergent Yemen-originating missile threat corresponds to Iran’s modus operandi of surrounding its foes with missile “rings of fire” and will enable Tehran to complete the missile encirclement of the Jewish state as a step toward its eventual demise. Israel must do its utmost to confront this new strategic threat by establishing an alert system and defense capabilities against Yemen-originating cruise and ballistic missiles, whatever the cost.
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Qods Force commander Soleimani’s carelessness put him in the U.S. military’s crosshairs
Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani became "complacent" while traveling to and from Iraq, and did not believe the U.S. would target him, U.S. military officials told FDD's Long War Journal. The military was able to reliably track his movements at times.
The Post-Suleimani View From Iran
by Abbas Milani via Project Syndicate
One hopes that Iranian leaders' domestic woes and deep desire for self-preservation will lead them to embrace symbolic acts of retaliation in response to the recent assassination of the security and intelligence chief Qassem Suleimani.
How Will the Iranians Respond?
by Seth Frantzman
The National Review
January 4, 2020
What Is The Middle East In The Middle Of Anymore?
by Victor Davis Hanson via American Greatness
The United States is trying to square a circle, remaining strong and deterring dangerous elements, but to do so for U.S. interests—interests that increasingly seem to
Why Is Russia In Syria?
by Jakub Grygiel via American Interest
Russia recently announced that it will spend $500 million to fix and update the commercial port of Tartus in Syria. In 2017 Moscow had renewed its lease over the port, signing an agreement with Damascus in a clear show of support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. But Russian (and before 1991, Soviet) naval presence there dates back to the early 1970s.
Top commander's assassination leaves Iran with very few options to retaliate
Following Qasem Soleimani's assassination in Iraq, there has been heightened concern about an Iranian reaction. But due to Tehran's economic hardship, decreased support from the public in Middle East societies and international isolation, Iran isn't likely to seek revenge militarily against the United States.
What Iran lost with Soleimani’s killing
The top military commander’s influence went beyond his military prowess, and will be something that no successor can likely replicate.
The killing of Iranian Quds force commander Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia chief Abu Mehdi al-Muhandis was an important tactical victory. But the crucial question is whether the Trump administration can parlay it into a wider strategic victory and avoid it becoming a strategic defeat, writes Kenneth Pollack in an AEIdeas blog. The killings could soon present Trump with a stark choice between getting far more involved in the Middle East to support our allies and hold back the Iranians and getting out altogether. Unfortunately, doing either right would require a skill and subtlety that Trump has yet to demonstrate. Finish reading here.
The killing of Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on Friday generated a predictably partisan flurry of praise and condemnation. But the context in which the decision to kill him was made is being lost in angry rhetoric, explains Fred Kagan in a New York Daily News op-ed. Only once the US stops looking for simplistic solutions and stops assigning blame either to Obama or Trump do we stand a chance of building a policy that can achieve an end to this conflict at an acceptable cost. Continue here.
Qassem Soleimani was responsible for the deaths of more Americans than any terrorist leader since Osama bin Laden. No one should mourn his death. In Iran, however, he was a revered figure like former US Defense Secretary James Mattis, notes Michael Rubin in a National Interest op-ed. As the second- and third-order effects of his death become clear, it is imperative that the US national security bureaucracy alongside Congress work overtime on a nonpartisan, broad strategy to contain the negative and exploit the positive. Learn more here.
The US air strike that killed Soleimani and Muhandis was not simply a sharp departure in the Trump administration’s policy toward Tehran. It also marks a larger shift in America’s response to Iranian influence and provocations in the Middle East, writes Hal Brands in a Bloomberg op-ed. President Trump has gambled that an extraordinary escalation will allow it to reset control of an intensifying US-Iran confrontation. And while it may actually work, weathering the diplomatic and military fallout will require far greater skill and competence than Trump’s team has displayed so far. Continue here.
Last week, in the context of the attacks by Iranian-backed militias on the US Embassy in Baghdad and perhaps with an intimation of the drone strike that killed Soleimani, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper pronounced, “The game has changed.” In a Detroit News op-ed, Giselle Donnelly writes that the “game” in the Middle East remains the same: It is still a multisided struggle for power in the wake of the collapse of the postcolonial and “nationalist” governments established after World War II. Learn more here.
Earlier last month, Hal Brands, Kenneth Pollack, and Steven Cook noted in Foreign Policy that President Trump sees himself as a leader who shatters generations of conventional wisdom in US foreign policy. In the case of Iran, he is right. And unless the president changes course, he will usher in a brave new era in US relations with the Persian Gulf — one that may well help Iran claim its long-sought ascendancy in that region and leave Americans longing for the good old days of the Carter Doctrine. Read more here.
Following the release of The Washington Post’s Afghanistan Papers, Fred Kagan took to the AEIdeas blog to argue that contrary to the Post’s reporting, American leaders did not systematically lie to the American people about the situation in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is not Vietnam. George Bush did not lie America into this war. And he, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and their generals and diplomats did not conceal the challenges and failures the US was facing. Learn more here.
Iran Lacks Good Options
by Jonathan Spyer
The Jerusalem Post
January 4, 2020
Iraq parliament votes to expel US troops
Iraq's parliament on Sunday passed a nonbinding resolution to expel the 5,000 or so US troops in the country following the killing of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in a US airstrike at Baghdad airport. "The Iraqi government must work to end the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil and prohibit them from using its land, airspace or water for any reason," the resolution reads. The vote comes amid intense pressure from pro-Iran militias, which have called for retaliation. Kurdish and most of the Sunni members of parliament did not attend the parliamentary session in protest of the resolution.
Meanwhile two rockets hit near the US embassy in Baghdad on Sunday, the AFP reports, hours after the Iraqi government summoned US Ambassador Matthew Tueller. NATO has called for an urgent meeting of the alliance's ambassadors today to address the fallout from the US strike after suspending its training mission in Iraq on Saturday over increased security risks.
Trump’s Iran policy spirals toward control
Hal Brands | Bloomberg Opinion
President Trump has gambled that an extraordinary escalation will allow his administration to reassert control over an intensifying US-Iran confrontation. It may actually work. But weathering the diplomatic and military fallout will require far greater skill and competence than Trump’s team has displayed so far.
U.S. Kills Qassem Soleimani
Donald Trump cuts off Iran’s terror arm in Iraq, while Israel braces for Iranian retaliation
Read More →
Libya: Turkish Forces Enter Libya following Airstrike at Military Academy. Turkish President Erdogan on Sunday announced that Turkish military units had begun moving into Libya to support Libya’s internationally recognized Government of National Accord. “There will be an operation center, there will be a Turkish lieutenant general leading and they will be managing the situation over there. [Turkish soldiers] are gradually moving there right now,” Erdogan said. The move comes after a rebel airstrike killed at least 30 at a government-backed military academy over the weekend. BBC Reuters Al Jazeera
Turkey’s economy remains vulnerable
Desmond Lachman | AEIdeas
U.S. Kills Qassem Soleimani
Donald Trump cuts off Iran’s terror arm in Iraq, while Israel braces for Iranian retaliatio
The Unthinkable: Soleimani Executed in Iraq by Seth Frantzman
The Jerusalem Post
January 3, 2020
Soleimani Schemed Against America As His World Crumbled
By BENNY AVNI, Special to the Sun | January 3, 2020
"U.S. kills Iran’s Qods Force commander and Iraq’s deputy PMF leader in strike in Baghdad," Bill Roggio and Caleb Weiss, FDD's Long War Journal
Turkey: Ankara Approves Military Deployment to Libya. The Turkish parliament on Thursday approved a bill to send troops to support the UN-backed government in Libya. Egypt, who supports the Libyan government’s opposition, led by Khalifa Haftar, said the decision "negatively affects the stability of the Mediterranean region.” U.S. President Donald Trump in a phone call warned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan against "foreign interference.” Al Jazeera BBC
Turkey's Ambitions in Libya and the Mediterranean Hinge on Naval Expansion
by Burak Bekdil
The Gatestone Institute
December 30, 2019
Turkish parliament approves troop deployment to Libya
In a measure with regionwide implications, the Turkish parliament approved a motion Jan. 2 to deploy forces to Libya during an extraordinary meeting before the start of its 2020 legislative session next week.
Though details remain unclear on the involvement of Turkish troops in direct combat operations, the vote established a one-year mandate for Turkish forces to transfer weapons, planes and vehicles in support of the UN-recognized Tripoli government headed by Fayez al-Sarraj.
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Iran Can No Longer Rely on Shia Militias to Fight its Wars by Con Coughlin
How Russia is reading the killing of Qasem Soleimaini
Moscow weighs the implications of the elimination of one of the Middle East's most powerful men.
With Turkey preoccupied with Libya, Idlib slips through Ankara’s fingers
While Turkey prepares to send troops to Libya, Russia's uncompromising attitude on Idlib signals that Ankara will not get what it wants in Syria.
The Coming Iranian Pearl Harbor
quoting Victor Davis Hanson via The Epoch Times
The Iranian dictatorship may be losing its grip on power. Consequently, its historical strategy of continuous but low-level attacks on American interests in the Middle East may be changing into something more deadly. The Iran regime may be so desperate that it is planning a spectacular attack, an Iranian Pearl Harbor, to induce the United States to settle matters largely on Iranian terms.
Elizabeth Economy: China's Power: Up For Debate
interview with Elizabeth Economy via Center for Strategic & International Studies
Hoover Institution fellow Elizabeth Economy discusses the challenges and opportunities presented by China’s rise in power as well as the core issues underpinning the nature of Chinese power.
Elizabeth Economy: Podcast: Ian Shepherdson On The U.S.-China Trade War And China's Mounting Economic Challenges
interview with Elizabeth Economy via Council on Foreign Relations
Hoover Institution fellow Elizabeth Economy discusses China’s mounting economic challenges, progress on economic reform efforts, and the likely long-term economic and geopolitical effects of the US-China trade war.
Germany: A "Latent Sense of Insecurity" by Judith Bergman
HOOVER TACKLES SYRIA: TURKEY GOES ROUGE; LIBYAN WARLORD INCHES FORWARD & TRUMP MUDDLES THROUGH ON SYRIAN STRAGEGY
Strategika Issue 62: Is The Mediterranean Still Geo-strategically Essential?
via Hoover Daily Report
Strategika Issue 62 is now available online. Strategika is an online journal that analyzes ongoing issues of national security in light of conflicts of the past—the efforts of the Military History Working Group of historians, analysts, and military personnel focusing on military history and contemporary conflict
Is The Mediterranean Still Geo-Strategically Essential?
by Barry Strauss via Strategika
The Mediterranean Sea is today, as it has always been, a crossroads. The name itself testifies to that, as it means “the sea in the middle of the earth,” a Latin term reflecting an earlier Greek belief. We know better, or do we? From Syria to Libya and on the high seas, and with outside players including China, Iran, Russia, and the United States, the Mediterranean has re-emerged of late as a cockpit of conflict.
Endy Zemenides: Washington Must "Show Turkey It Cannot Act with Impunity" against U.S. Interests
by Marilyn Stern and Gary C. Gambill
Middle East Forum Radio
December 21, 2019
Turkey accepts invitation to deploy troops to Libya, Erdogan says
The Turkish Parliament will vote on sending soldiers to the north African country to support its internationally recognized government, but the deployment could entrench Turkey in Libya’s long-running internal strife as well as intensify regional tensions.
Libya's Political Instability Makes Room for ISIS to Regroup by Ahmed Charai •
The Russian Presence In Syria Is A Force For Chaos Rather Than Order
quoting Jakub Grygiel via Mosaic Magazine
After a hiatus from involvement in the Middle East that began in 1991, Russia has reasserted itself in the region through its intervention in the Syrian civil war. Jakub Grygiel explains how America made this return possible through empty rhetoric, passivity, and shortsightedness.
Turkey’s Kurdish sweep backfires
President Erdogan’s Syria plan has had unintended ramifications: Saudi Arabia and the UAE are now cozying up to the Kurds, the Kurds are uniting, and the Russians are guiding the solutions on the ground.
Brothers in Arms
The Consolidation of the Turkey-Qatar Axis
If We Leave
by Charles Hill via The Caravan
The Islamic political philosopher Alfarabi (872-950), one of the notable transmitters of ancient Greek classical texts from the Eastern Mediterranean through the Maghreb to Spain’s al-Andalus and on into Western Europe, produced in his major work the idea of “The Virtuous City,” an ideal form of governance I occasionally heard mentioned by my Arab colleagues when I served at the United Nations in the 1990’s.
The Caravan: The Syrian Crisis
via The Caravan
Issue 1924 of The Caravan is now available online. The journal is a periodic symposium on the contemporary dilemmas of the Greater Middle East.
Will Libya become Turkey’s next Syria?
The recently signed Turkey-Libya military cooperation deal and maritime delimitation agreement threatened to raise tensions not only in Libya but throughout the Eastern Mediterranean with Turkey asserting the right to intervene militarily in Libya if requested and to drill for oil and gas.
Is Turkey Coming Back? Policy Experts Predict 'Rogue Ankara' Over Long Term
by Benjamin Baird
The Armenian Weekly
December 17, 2019
Our Confused Syria Debate
by Omar Hossino via The Caravan
The policy debate on Syria has unfortunately been reduced to a discussion of whether or not U.S. troops should remain in that country. What is missing in the debate however is a fundamental reflection on why we should be in Syria at all. Iran should be at the heart of that question.
Yemen's shaky power-sharing pact faces uncertain future
The agreement between Yemen's government and secessionist forces in the south has shown little progress since it was signed more than a month ago.
Libyan rebels advance on Tripoli
Libyan warlord Khalifa Hifter’s forces are advancing toward the capital Tripoli, a spokesman for Hifter's self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA) said on Monday. Ahmed al-Mesmari added that LNA forces had downed a Turkish drone. Hifter ordered his forces last week to advance on Tripoli in a “final battle” for the capital. He launched his offensive against the UN-recognized Government of National Accord in April, with support from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia. The assault has drawn international condemnation but little action except from Turkey, which has pledged to send troops if Tripoli asks.
Pentagon chief says he needs to speak to Turkey about threat to close US bases
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Monday he needed to speak with his Turkish counterpart to understand how serious Ankara is about shutting down two strategic air bases. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Sunday that Turkey could close the Incirlik Air Base and the Kurecik radar station in retaliation to threats of US sanctions and a congressional resolution recognizing the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide. “The first I heard of it was reading it in the papers … so I need to talk to my defense counterpart to understand what they really mean and how serious they are,” Esper told reporters. Esper said over the weekend that he was worried Turkey is “spinning out” of the NATO orbit.
by Nibras Kazimi via The Caravan
I had to take a pause once news filtered out that the ‘caliph’ of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had been killed in the small village of Barisha near the Syrian-Turkish border—of all places. Notwithstanding that that area of Idlib Province is currently controlled by his ideological rivals—fellow jihadists who would have gladly killed him off themselves—and has been so for a number of years, there were several other mitigating factors that would deem such a locale a forbidding refuge from a jihadist security mindset.
The Syria Redeployment As Counter-Iran Strategy
by Tony Badran via The Caravan
President Trump’s withdrawal of US troops on the Syria-Turkey border met with a bipartisan rebuke. While rejection of the president’s decision was the consensus, the rationales for the rejection varied, reflecting multiple and often discordant objectives that the president’s critics have projected onto the US military mission in Syria.
Lebanon has designated a new prime minister, whose candidacy was proposed by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah movement, a move that risks provoking further political unrest and alienating the country’s Western allies just when Lebanon most needs international support for its rapidly collapsing economy. – Washington Post
Hussein Ibish writes: Hezbollah, in particular, is desperate to protect the existing political order, one that maximizes its influence and minimizes its responsibility. No one stands to lose more from the sweeping reforms demanded by the protesters: a complete overhaul of the political system, undertaken by a government of unaffiliated technocrats. […]And what if, as is likely, the new man is rejected by the protesters? It is conceivable Hezbollah will go back to the drawing board, and seek another compromise candidate who preserves the status quo. – Bloomberg
Soner Cagaptay and Ben Fishman write: U.S. indecision regarding the battle for Tripoli has allowed the Russians to gain influence on the southern flank of NATO. It has also created another unnecessary friction point with Turkey, as well as between Ankara and other U.S. allies in the East Mediterranean. Washington now has a narrow window to prevent further violence in Libya and limit Moscow’s influence there. […]U.S. officials should also threaten to use existing sanctions authorities against violators of a ceasefire once it is signed. – Washington Institute
In his November 18, 2019 column in the London-based daily Al-Arab, Tunisian writer and poet Habib Lassoued attacked the U.S., saying it was continuing to cultivate relations with Qatar and to praise it for its contribution to regional security while ignoring the extensive evidence of Qatar’s support for global terrorism and Iran-sponsored terrorism. – Middle East Media Research Institute
Intel: Pentagon refuses to put timeline on Syria mission
Defense Secretary Mark Esper refused to put a timeline on the Pentagon’s scaled-down mission to defeat the Islamic State and guard Syrian oil fields at the agency’s last press briefing of the year.
Pacts between Libya, Turkey raise tensions with Egypt
Egypt's criticism of Libya's internationally recognized government is mounting in light of the latter's maritime and security agreements with Turkey.
On December 22, 2019, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke about the movement of Syrians toward the Turkey-Syria border amid an ongoing offensive in Idlib by Syrian government forces in a speech he gave at the İlim Yayma Ödül Töreni (“Spreading Knowledge Award Ceremony”) at Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul President Erdoğan said: “[…]All European countries, above all, Greece, will feel the negative reflections of the pressure to which we will be exposed. In such a situation, a repeat of what happened before the March 18 concord will be unavoidable.” – Middle East Media Research Institute
Blue-Collar Conservatism in Britain?
Oliver Wiseman, City Journal
No Final Victories
Musings on the recent British elections
From Disraeli to Johnson, ‘one-nation’ conservatism wins again in Britain
Michael Barone | Washington Examiner
Boris Johnson's Historic Mandate for Brexit
Editorial of The New York Sun | December 13, 2019
It's hard to overstate how wonderful is the news that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has won a mandate to, after all these years of struggle, lead a restoration of British sovereignty and independence. We may have been in that fight from the early days, but we don't mind saying that we've had moments of doubt, particularly during the past year, that Britain would prevail. All the sweeter the results being tallied this evening.
Brexit will be no walk in the park for Boris Johnson
Desmond Lachman | The Hill
This week, Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party trounced the Labour Party and won a commanding parliamentary majority in the UK election. Johnson’s comfortable victory will allow him to secure early passage of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement that he negotiated last October. But that will only set the stage for the UK to enter into a one-year transitional period with its European partners to conduct the much more difficult phase of negotiating a permanent EU-UK economic relationship. It would be an understatement to say that the UK economy can ill afford another year of uncertainty as to whether the country might crash out of Europe, yet that is what Johnson has delivered.
Four Lessons a Post-Brexit Britain Can Learn from Israel
By Rafael Castro, December 19, 2019
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: A post-Brexit scenario requires long-term strategic thinking by the British establishment. The parallels between the situation of Israel in the Middle East and the eventual position of Britain vis-à-vis a federal European state offer lessons and suggest opportunities. If Britain acts on these lessons, it is more likely to flourish despite the economic and political pressure European leaders may try to exert on it in Brexit’s wake.
Continue to full article ->
Britain Enters A Long Overdue Neo-Disraelian Moment Huzzah! Says Our Brexit Diarist on Beaconsfield’s Birthday
By STEPHEN MacLEAN, Special to the Sun | December 22, 2019
As 2019 winds to a close, let us remark on how our year of turmoil and drama has brought us to a neo-Disraelian moment. You may say that's all too convenient a comment from a scribe who for years has been blogging under the rubric of the Disraeli-Macdonald Institute. But there you have it. It's not the first time that the sun has, in quite this way, lit up the meadows of the United Kingdom.
Libya: Russian Mercenaries Spearheading Battle For Tripoli.
A senior official in Libya's UN backed government says that Russian mercenaries backing rival leader Khalifa Hifter are spearheading the battle for Tripoli. An estimated 1000 Russian fighters, thought to be from the Wagner group are suspected to have arrived since September. The divided conflict in Libya has drawn other countries in, with the UAE and Egypt supporting Hifter, and Turkey supporting the UN backed government in Tripoli. Russia and Hifter have denied that there are mercenaries fighting in Tripoli. South China Morning Post Washington Post
Syria: Air Defense Intercepts Israeli Missiles. Syria’s army air defense on Sunday intercepted four cruise missiles, launched from Israel, aimed at targets on the outskirts Damascus. “Four cruise missiles were believed to have been launched across the coast through Lebanese airspace toward Syria,” said a source in the regional alliance. In recent years, Israel has launched hundreds of missiles aimed at Iranian-backed militias in the country as well as supplies provided by pro-Iranian Lebanese Hezbollah to support Assad’s forces. Reuters The New York Times
Libyan warlord launches 'final battle' for Tripoli
Libyan warlord Khalifa Hifter on Thursday ordered his forces to advance on Tripoli in a “final battle” for the capital. “Today we announce the decisive battle and the advancement toward the heart of the capital to set it free,” Hifter said in a televised speech. “Advance now, our heroes.” Hifter’s self-proclaimed Libyan National Army launched its offensive against the UN-recognized Government of National Accord in April, with support from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia. The assault has drawn international condemnation but little action except from Turkey, which has offered to send troops if Tripoli asks.
Straightening Out Russian Foreign Policy
By Emil Avdaliani, December 15, 2019
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Russian foreign policy since the mid-2000s tends to be perceived in contradictory terms: as either a negative for Russia or the product of a grand strategic vision on the part of the Russian leadership. It is also often falsely perceived as representing a break with the past. Moscow’s foreign policy moves need to be viewed with a balanced perspective and should be placed in their historical context.
Continue to full article -
Egypt flexes its muscles in the Mediterranean after Libyan-Turkish agreement
Egypt has conducted extensive military drills in the Mediterranean in a clear response to and a show of strength against the maritime agreement between the Libyan Government of National Accord and Turkey.
Tripoli accepts Turkish offer of military help against Libyan warlord
The UN-recognized Libyan government in Tripoli said Thursday it had ratified a security and military accord with Turkey, which has offered to send troops to resist warlord Khalifa Hifter's months-long assault on the capital. In turn Hifter today gave militias defending Tripoli three days to pull out or their hometown of Misrata would be bombed “every day, non stop and in an unprecedentedly intensive way.” He has previously vowed to attack Turkish forces in Libya.
Separately, Pope Francis called Thursday for the closure of Libyan detention camps, where migrants are suffering from torture and slavery. “How can we fail to hear the cry of so many brothers and sisters who prefer to face a tempestuous sea rather than die slowly in Libyan detention camps, places of torture and ignoble slavery?” he said.