Third Culture Queen vol. 25
Turkey ramps up invasion of N. Syria, Russia runs the Middle East, and China stalls
|Kyle Borland||Oct 16, 2019|
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.
Ryan Browne @rabrowne75The chairs of the House Oversight, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs Committees write a letter to @EsperDoD & @SecPompeo slamming the Trump Administration's decision to pull troops form northern Syria:
ISIS prisoners in NE Syria: What we know (France 24)
Pentagon to stay in Islamic State fight from Iraq (AL Monitor)
Trump’s acquiescence to Turkey’s move to send troops deep inside Syrian territory has in only one week’s time turned into a bloody carnage, forced the abandonment of a successful 5-year-long American project to keep the peace on a volatile border, and given an unanticipated victory to four American adversaries: Russia, Iran, the Syrian government and the Islamic State.
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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.
Russian shadow falls over Syria as Kurds open door for Assad (The Guardian)
Thousands march in Kyiv to oppose east Ukraine peace plan (The Guardian)
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.
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.
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.
Liberals net surprise win in Budapest (Financial Times)
Violence in Spain over Catalan separatist leaders' sentences (The Guardian)
“Anyone attempting to split China in any part of the country will end in crushed bodies and shattered bones.”
American Empire & China’s Belt and Road
200+ arrested in Hong Kong, since last weekend, as violence escalates.
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.
The Pretend Trade Deal (Foreign Policy)
By reducing the intelligence gap between China and the US, an early warning system would strengthen China’s confidence in the reliability of its nuclear deterrent. And it would create new strategic options.
Without giving up its no-first use doctrine, China could move to a posture of launch under attack. Instead of promising retaliation after absorbing a first strike, China would signal the capacity and the intention to strike immediately the moment an attack is detected.
China is undercutting Tibetan monastery education in a bid to control the future.
Pentagon was ordered to not comply w/ subpoena (Defense News)
Hill, President Trump's former top Russia adviser, raised concerns about Rudy Giuliani's role in US foreign policy toward Ukraine, telling lawmakers on Monday that she saw "wrongdoing" in the American foreign policy and tried to report it to officials including the National Security Council's attorney, according to multiple sources.
"She saw wrongdoing related to the Ukraine policy and reported it," one source said.
The same source told CNN that Hill testified that former national security adviser John Bolton referred to Giuliani — Trump's personal attorney — as a "hand grenade" who was "going to blow everybody up," as first reported by The New York Times.
Hill additionally told lawmakers about what she described as a rogue operation carried out by US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, which Bolton characterized as being like a "drug deal," that source said.
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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.
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.
Stop the waste: UN food agencies call for action to reduce global hunger.