International Update–2018

There are so many things happening in the world that it is difficult to write about it all….so IST tries to do an update when events out run the time we have to post…..

The Horn of Africa is always a busy place and an important spot to keep an eye on…..

Ethiopia and Eritrea have set aside their long standing animosities….and are trying to work together…..I wrote about some of this before……

https://lobotero.com/2018/07/11/ethiopia-a-rising-star/

There is more about this situation……

Ever since Ethiopiaannounced in early June that it will fully accept the terms of a 2000 peace agreement with neighbouring Eritrea, the pace of normalisation of relations between the two countries has been truly stunning.

First, a high-level Eritrean delegation made a visit to Addis Ababa on June 26 and kickstarted the talks on ending the decades-long conflict. Only a couple of weeks later, Ethiopia’s reformist new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed made a landmark visit to Asmara and met the Eritrean president face-to-face. 

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/eritreans-happy-peace-wary-afwerki-promises-180709094420940.html

Eritrea has pulled troops back from its heavily militarised border with Ethiopia as a “gesture of reconciliation”, the pro-government Eritrean Press agency said on its Facebook page.

There was no immediate confirmation from the government in Asmara, but the move would be consistent with rapidly improving ties between the Horn of Africa neighbours, whose 1998 war killed tens of thousands and led to two decades of military stalemate.

(reuters)

For a couple of years I have been watching the situation developing in the Caucuses……

https://lobotero.com/2016/05/16/regional-conflict-brewing-in-azerbaijan-armenia/

https://lobotero.com/2018/06/05/between-the-two-seas/

Hostilities run deep in this region and are ever threatening conflict in the making……

Azerbaijan has sharpened its threats of war against Armenia in an apparent attempt to ratchet up tension over Nagorno-Karabakh, the territory that both sides claim.

Verbal threats toward Armenia are nothing new for Azerbaijan, a state for which the phrase “bellicose rhetoric” has become something of a journalistic cliché. But Baku’s rhetoric in the past has tended to couch military threats in the conditional tense, a last resort if diplomatic negotiations fail. Increasingly, however, the military option is being portrayed as the only one.

“The developments unfolding in the world confirm that the international law does not work,” Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev tweeted on June 28. “If it did, Azerbaijani lands would have been freed from the invaders long ago.”

https://lobelog.com/azerbaijans-saber-rattling-grows-louder/

And then there is Syria and yes it is still a complete mess……

Sen. Lindsay Graham, a prominent Republican voice on national security and international policy, spoke out last week during a visit to the Middle East warning Turkey against further military involvement in the Syrian civil war. After meeting with Turkish President Erdogan, Sen. Graham cautioned the NATO ally—“You don’t want any further incursions in Syria by the Turkish military, you’ll get yourself in a quagmire.”

In a world filled with hyperbole, political spin, and fake news, it is rare to hear such an accurate and evidence-based statement as this. The civil war in Syria, raging for more than half a decade, has been a sterling example of a ‘quagmire’ in the geopolitical context since its inception. Even before the fighting started, Syria was one of the most complicated and volatile states in the Middle East.

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2018/07/17/yes_syria_is_still_a_mess_113614.html

That is the round-up…..I hope you guys find it informative.

Advertisements

The Latest In US Diplomacy

My readers know that I am a foreign policy wonk and that I think the US is traveling a dangerous path…..but I try to keep my readers up to  date on the happenings on the world stage….

Let’s look at the latest on the North Korean deal……

North Korea doesn’t sound too happy about its latest chat with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the New York Times reports. The seats were practically still warm in Pyongyang Saturday when a North Korean spokesman called their latest nuclear talks “regrettable” and contrary to the spirit of Kim Jong Un’s summit meeting last month with President Trump. The issue? Trump’s administration is seeking “unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization,” said North Korea’s Foreign Ministry. The talks were “very concerning,” the ministry added, per the AP, and have entered a “dangerous phase that might rattle our willingness for denuclearization that had been firm.”

Pompeo had struck a more positive note after his delegation wrapped up two days of meetings with officials in Pyongyang, the Wall Street Journal reports. “These are complicated issues but we made progress on almost all of the central issues,” he said before boarding a flight to Tokyo. “Some places, a great deal of progress; other places there’s still more work to be done.” He declined to give details on the issues—like denuclearization, US economic investment in North Korea, or a timeline for repatriating US soldiers who died in the Korean War—but said the repatriation will happen “over the days that follow.” Kim, who had met with Pompeo on earlier visits, didn’t join the meeting this time around.

AS I and others have warned that there will be NOTHING simple about any deal with North Korea…..and events are bearing that warning out.

The US has been fighting in Syria for several years now in support of the “rebels” (whoever they may be) and I am always saying that we should back out and leave Syria to the Syrians….and then I read something on-line that made me wonder if there is a chance…..

Russian advisors visiting the Syrian capital Damascus are confident that the US forces will pull out of al-Tanf and will also aim to completely withdraw from north of Syria (al-Hasaka and Deir-Ezzour) in the next six months.

According to top decision makers based in Damascus, the US President Donald Trump is pushing his administration to approve an already prepared total withdrawal plan. Despite Trump’s limited knowledge of foreign policy and being unaware of the consequences of his decisions in the international arena, he found no convincing elements – said the sources, who asked to remain anonymous – in the presentation by his administration where US forces could benefit from the continuation of their presence in such a hostile environment and without suffering hits in the future.

I have said that I am concerned about the state of our alliances and then I am reminded that alliances have a tendency to mutate in one direction or the other……

“In politics, there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies, only permanent interests.” This often-quoted dictum (attributed to 19th century British statesman Lord Palmerston) has proved its validity in the realm of international relations. The fugacity of alliances and of enmities is indeed a phenomenon that the world has witnessed umpteen times.

https://intpolicydigest.org/2018/07/06/from-anwar-sadat-s-egypt-to-kim-jong-un-s-north-korea-how-alliances-mutate/

Late breaking news from DPRK (North Korea)…..the war of words returns…..

On his first trip to Pyongyang following what was billed by the Trump administration as a triumphant summit last month with Kim Jong Un, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sounded fairly upbeat, saying “progress” had been made in talks to get North Korea to give up its nuclear arsenal.

North Korea apparently didn’t get the memo.

https://thinkprogress.org/trump-administration-north-korea-denuclearization-talks-d8b3ee567d65/

Pompeo said the “denuclearization” has a wide array of definitions……let that stupidity sink in.

I shall try to keep my readers up to date as best I can…..thanx for stopping by….chuq

Syria’s “Manbij Model”

There seems to be a deal brewing for some sort of ceasefire for Northeastern Syria between the US and Turkey……it is being called the “Manbij Model”….

The US and Turkey finally reached a deal to jointly administer the strategic city of Manbij following the YPG’s withdrawal from it, and this promising agreement is being touted as a model for Ayn al-Arab (more popularly known in the Mainstream Media by its Kurdish name “Kobani”), Raqqa, and other population centers in the northeastern agriculturally and energy-rich one-third of Syria under American-Kurdish SDF occupation. The working concept as articulated by Turkey at the moment but importantly unconfirmed by the US is to gradually return to the pre-war ethnic status quo in the region either by physically reversing the effects of anti-Arab and –“Turkmen” ethnic cleansing (which is unlikely) or at the very least not recognizing its political consequences in the sense of refusing to allow the minority Kurds to be the majority stakeholders in each city that they’ve conquered.

https://www.globalresearch.ca/the-manbij-model-turkey-us-deal-for-northeastern-syria/5643287

A ceasefire is always more preferable than the shooting and killing however in this case I want to know where the Syrian input is……US and Turkey are invaders and now occupiers and last I looked Syria was a sovereign nation whether the like the leadership or not…it still is a nation and we should have no say on the control of its territory or its people.

Then There Is Syria

No Irene the war in Syria has not ended…..BTW, how did ISIS get all that American weaponry that they have been using in the past?  Just wondering….

The US has NO plan in Syria other than fighting bad guys even Congress has asked for some sort of idea of what the plan is in Syria….

In a report accompanying the Senate’s must-pass annual defense authorization bill, lawmakers this week called out the Pentagon for “inconsistency” in its plan for Syria. US defense officials say that 2,000 US troops will stay there indefinitely, until the Islamic State (IS) is rooted out, despite President Donald Trump’s insistence that American forces leave the country “very soon.”

The Senate bill freezes $300 million requested for Syrian opposition fighters until the administration gives Congress an overdue and legally mandated outline of its plan for destroying the remnants of IS and stabilizing Syria. The bill also pegs $400 million for the anti-IS fight in next-door Iraq to a report on the “roles, missions and responsibilities of any future US military presence” in that country.

“The committee is deeply concerned by the lack of clarity and conflicting messages from administration officials related to the Middle East and, specifically, Syria,” according to the Senate Armed Services report. The report adds that the committee “believes that the activities of the US military in Syria are not adequately integrated into a broader strategy designed to stabilize Syria and address the factors that gave rise” to IS.

The problem is also that Russia has designs on Syria and that is where we should be most concerned…..

Partners in the Syrian war and arch sceptics of Washington, Russia and Iran have come together in recent years as both countries pursue a more hands-on role in the Middle East.

Yet doubts about Russia’s reliability are surfacing in Tehran, as a host of regional players begin to pick their way through tensions in southern Syria.

For weeks, there have been signs that Russia is trying limit Iran’s military activity in Syria.

On 17 May, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that with the Syrian army’s recent victories, foreign forces should withdraw from Syria. When asked for clarification, Putin’s envoy said that the president was referring to Turkish, American, Iranian and Hezbollah soldiers.

http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/russia-wants-iran-out-syria-iranians-arent-so-happy-about-1850822925

Russia is replacing the US as the indispensable player in the region….

The U.S. is no longer the indispensable nation in the Middle East — it’s Russia. Putin has more control in this powder keg than American experts like to admit.

Who told Israel to “cool it” after their F-16 jet was shot down by Syrian forces? Russia. Who told Iran to knock off its toxic anti-Israel rhetoric? Russia. Who told Israel to stop airstrikes in Syria? Russia. Who told Iran to “calm down” after they lost seven soldiers in the attack? Russia. Who did Netanyahu meet last week to get Iran in line? Russia. Russia has even vowed to protect Israel from an Iranian attack.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/22/forget-iran-russia-is-the-real-threat-to-the-us-in-the-middle-east.html

Russia is replacing the US in all areas and the US seems to be oblivious to the fact that we are losing our control of foreign policy….

Since the 1980’s the US has been trying to destroy Assad’s hold on Syria…..I found a CIA document that outlines what the US needs to do….

Yet, despite the fact that the Trump administration is apparently poised to continue the Obama regime’s proxy war of aggression against the people of Syria, an example of seamless transition, it should also be remembered that the plan to destroy Syria did not begin with Obama but with the Bush administration.

Even now, as the world awaits the continuation of the Syrian war through a Democratic and Republican administration, the genesis of that war goes back to the Republican Bush administration, demonstrating that there is indeed an overarching agenda and an overarching infrastructure of an oligarchical deep state intent on moving forward regardless of which party is seemingly in power.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-04-10/1983-cia-document-reveals-plan-destroy-syria-foreshadows-current-crisis

This is the document for those that care about the war and the policies behind the war…..

https://www.scribd.com/document/344768700/CIA-Syria-Pipelines

Syria Saga Continues

Before I go any further I need to make it clear that if there is undeniable evidence that Syria used CWs on a civilian population then it should have been punished….my problem is that the US and its lap dog allies rushed to judgment without that proof of which I speak….

The NATO goons attacked without positive proof and now they let inspectors into the region to determine whether these weapons were used or not….(a little late)……

In the 1980’s, Scott Ritter was a commissioned officer in the United States Marine Corps, specializing in intelligence. In 1987, Ritter was assigned to the On-Site Inspection Agency, which was put together to go into the Soviet Union and oversee the implementation of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty. This was the first time that on-site inspection had been used as part of a disarmament verification process.

Ritter was one of the groundbreakers in developing on-site inspection techniques and methodologies. With this unique experience behind him, Ritter was asked in 1991, at the end of the Gulf War, to join the United Nations Special Commission, which was tasked by the Security Council to oversee the disarmament of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. From 1991 to 1998, Ritter served as a chief weapons inspector and led a number of teams into Iraq.

According to Ritter, in the following Flashpoints Radio interview with Dennis Bernstein conducted on April 23rd, US, British and French claims that the Syrian Government used chemical weapons against civilians last month appear to be totally bogus.

http://theantimedia.com/scott-ritter-syrian-gas-attack/

There have been others that have given reason why the Syrian government may not have been behind the attacks…..but so far the Western media will go with the “official” story of the culprit to the attack……

The response from the US, UK and France to a briefing on Thursday at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in the Hague was perverse, to say the least. Russia had brought 17 witnesses from Douma who stated that there had been no chemical weapons attack there earlier this month – the pretext for an illegal air strike on Syria by the three western states.

The witnesses, a mix of victims and the doctors who treated them, told accounts that confirmed a report provided last week from Douma by British reporter Robert Fisk – a report, it should be noted, that has been almost entirely blanked by the western media. According to the testimony provided at the OPCW, the victims shown in a video from the site of the alleged attack were actually suffering from the effects of inhaling dust after a bombing raid, not gas.

https://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/2018-04-28/the-west-closes-its-ears-to-douma-testimony/

What will happen if there is proof that the Syrians were not behind this attack?  Will there be a “oops my bad”?  Better yet will we, as Americans, ever know the truth about this attack?

Withdraw?….We Gonna Stay!

The perfect description of Trump international policies.

A couple of days ago….or was it weeks…..who knows for sure…..crap flies around so much it is hard to keep up with when it all began…anyway awhile back Trump made some comment about the future of American troops in Syria….

He stated that troops would be withdrawn from the country soon….and then he changed his mind…..

Despite the US’s insistence that it intends to pull troops out of Syria (at some point, possibly in the distant future), local media report that the US has set up a new military facility in Eastern Deir ez-Zor – not far from ISIS’s last major stronghold in Syria, which was crushed by the Syrian Army back in November shortly before they declared victory against ISIS. The region is also known for being rich in oil.

According to the reports, the new base is located in the al-Tanak oilfield, which is controlled by Kurdish forces. Form their new outpost, American personnel have been ferrying new supplies to the front from the town of Khasham, in southeastern Deir ez-Zor, to the city of Hosseinieh, situated northeast of the Deir ez-Zor region.

http://theantimedia.com/new-us-military-base-isis-stronghold-syria/

A new base?  Does that mean an increase of American troops deployed to Syria?

What Of Syria? (Updated)(Again)

Many of us foreign policy wonks have been asking some serious questions for years now.  What is our intent in Syria?  Can someone actually define our goals for Syria? Many other questions too numerous to list but those are the two most important questions that need answering.

After all do we want another extended war like Afghanistan?

This is an article that was first published in neocon paper, National Interests”……I say that because I do not agree with the praise on Pres. Trump but there are other parts that hold some validity ….at least with me…..

Give credit to Donald Trump for a moral clarity that eluded his predecessor about the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons on innocent civilians. The president stood by his word and didn’t tolerate the Syrian dictator’s use of weapons of mass destruction. But while the recent strike on Syria was important and necessary—it was far from sufficient. The consolidation of Iranian and Russian military bases there is disastrous for the security of the U.S. and its allies. And the ongoing conflict, which Assad will not end anytime soon, fuels the global jihadi movement more than any other single factor.

It pays to review the origins of the conflict: In the full winds of the Arab Spring, the people of Syria stood up against one of the most brutal and oppressive Arab dictatorships with peaceful demonstrations. The Assad regime, however, chose a course of violence, suspecting rightly that without a decisive response it might go the way of Muammar el-Qaddafi’s rule in Libya. In the ensuing civil war, outside sponsors and Salafi-jihadi groups made their way to the Syrian battleground. Assad himself, deliberately fueled the increase of jihadists in order to discredit the entire rebellion and hold the West hostage to his own survival. He released Al Qaeda members from Syrian prison and replaced them with peaceful protestors.

http://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/way-forward-syria

I am waiting for someone in the government to step forward and give a full explanation of what of Syria.

The Brookings Institute has weigh in also……

Help local allies in Syria hold their ground.  As Crocker and I argue, this objective may require small deployments of U.S. forces to certain sectors of the country—for specific purposes like being able to call in airstrikes if partners are threatened, or protecting aid workers who are helping reconstruct these areas so refugees can start to return.

and more……

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2018/04/17/4-essential-elements-of-a-u-s-strategy-on-syria/

This leans kinda heavy on the neocon side….but at least it is some sort plan that we have been waiting for…..

After a quick bit of pulling out of Syria Trump has done what he does best……obfuscate.

(this is the updated part)

Just a month after another brief public flirtation with the idea of withdrawing from Syria, President Trump once again said he wants US troops out of Syria, promising “big decisions” very soon. His first talk of a pullout was scrapped days later. This time, he backtracked almost instantly.

With French President Emmanuel Macron in tow, Trump told reporters that he and his allies are taking a long-term approach to Syria, and that this would involve leaving “a strong and lasting footprint” within Syria. He said talk of the long-term issues in Syria was “a very big part” of his discussions with Macron.

The idea that Macron is driving Trump’s decision-making was a big issue last week. Macron claimed credit for Trump agreeing to stay in Syria, but quickly reversed course, and insisted the two had always agreed on the issue.

http://theantimedia.com/trump-vows-strong-lasting-footprint-syria

I am sure that our war weary troops will be glad for the promise of more and more danger.

And I wait…….and we wait……

Another update……

 In recent weeks the American public has been inundated with reports claiming the U.S., the U.K., and France have conclusive evidence that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reportedly used chemical weapons against his own people. Most of the American, British, and French media have lined up behind the proclamations of their respective political leaders by declaring as fact that the Assad regime is responsible for alleged chemical attacks as far back as 2013. The most recent attack is alleged to have taken place earlier this month in Douma, Syria.

http://theantimedia.com/chemical-attack-syria

Stay tuned I am sure there is more to come…..chuq