Third Culture Queen vol. 25

Turkey ramps up invasion of N. Syria, Russia runs the Middle East, and China stalls

Whether you stayed up last night to watch the (4th? 6th?) #DemDebate or went to bed like a sane person, there’s plenty of news below to get you caught up.

The world is moving at warped speed – thanks in no small part to Washington’s franticness – and Third Culture Queen is evolving to make sure it hits your inbox with the most comprehensive updates on all things migration, trade, and war.

Let me know what you think about the format update! I’ll mix and match the sections depending on what I consider to be the most breaking news (rather than ordering everything alphabetically).

As always, please share with folks who enjoy foreign policy and encourage them to subscribe to learn more about the grand strategies dictating today’s world!

Eurasia & the Indo-Pacific

In Syria, Assad and Erdogan are circling a powder keg waiting for the other one to light a match. The Turkish invasion into northern Syria is already the largest mobilization of land armies since the Iraq War, and we’ve never been closer to a regional war breaking out than we are right now. The US Congress is working with the president to sanction Ankara, but it may be too late to stop a war.

Related reading:

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Russia’s Putin is the Middle East’s new kingpin. From Syria to Iran to Saudi Arabia, it’s safe to say that Moscow is the preeminent power player in Western Asia. When we stop to think about it, that makes (slightly more) sense than a madman in the northern Americas calling the shots. Russia’s involvement as a major regional player was always going to resurface (it’s their backyard). Washington’s mistake after the Cold War was not ensuring the former Soviet states – including Russia – developed similarly to western Europe after WWII. Instead, not even 30 years later, we’re dealing with a revisionist Russia that now controls the geographical lynchpin of the global economy.

And, Russian troops are patrolling territory in northern Syria vacated by the US.

Related reading:

Saudi Arabia and Iran bilateral relations are thawing. Every alliance axis is in a tailspin at the moment as regional leaders realize how untrustworthy DC can be.

Related reading:

The EU is debating whether or not to begin accession proceedings for North Macedonia and Albania, but France’s Macron – backed by the Netherlands (a nation with increased sway in Brussel post-Brexit) – believes the union should delay adding any new members until it can overhaul the enlargement system. The reservations aren’t unfounded given the state of democracy in Poland, Hungary, and Romania (nations that joined in the expansion waves of 2004 and 2007).

Speaking of the EU, Trump’s $7.5B tariffs on Airbus, French wine and cheese, Spanish olive oil and other goods begins this Friday, October 18.

On Brexit: we’re (finally) close to a deal! If approved, a draft agreement could be published as soon as today. (Spoiler alert: the UK caved on the Irish border.)

EU and British negotiators have agreed in principle on a customs border in the Irish Sea. A similar proposal was rejected by former Prime Minister Theresa May as unacceptable. “Northern Ireland would de jure be in the UK’s customs territory but de facto in the European Union’s,” a diplomatic source told the Guardian.

Related reading:

“Anyone attempting to split China in any part of the country will end in crushed bodies and shattered bones.”

President Xi Jinping of China

American Empire & China’s Belt and Road

200+ arrested in Hong Kong, since last weekend, as violence escalates.

As predicted, Trump’s announced, “first phase of a trade deal” rang hollow.

China wants to “further talks” before any agreement (Beijing will always walk back its concessions once back in the Middle Kingdom) and the promised $50B agriculture buy has very little chance of materializing.

Related Reading:

China is undercutting Tibetan monastery education in a bid to control the future.

Impeachment updates:

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Global South

Africa’s Continental Free Trade Area will "bring together into a single market 54 nations of some 1.2 billion people and a combined GDP of over $3 trillion.”

Colombia has seen seven candidates killed and more than 60 others attacked in the lead up to the October 27 election.

Ecuador’s government reinstated fuel subsidies, after nationwide protests, as part of an agreement brokered by the UN and the Catholic Church.

Haiti’s people continue to call for President Jovenel Moise’s resignation. The protests, an artist-led carnival-like demonstration, comes amid fuel and food shortages, a steep currency devaluation and corruption allegations.

Related reading:

In Lagos, undercover journalists revealed the inner-workings of corrupt police.

Mexico sees fourteen police officers killed and three injured in a shooting.

Mozambique held elections that will test the fragile two-month-old peace deal between the ruling Frelimo party and its civil war foe turned political rival Renamo. The ruling party is expected to extend its decades-long rule over what is soon to be one of the world’s largest LNG exporters.

Uganda’s parliament is (again) pressing the death penalty for homosexual acts.

Non-state Actors | Cities, Clergy, Individuals & MegaCorps

Big Crypto may have to wait a little longer for its day in the sun:

Have we gotten happier over 200 years? Vox analyzed millions of books to find out.

Millennial’s lifestyle is about to get a lot more expensive.

Stop the waste: UN food agencies call for action to reduce global hunger.