Archive for November, 2016

Merkel Runs Again

On November 20th, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced her candidacy for next year’s elections. She will be running for her fourth term, after suffering major approval losses in the wake of her handling of the Syrian refugee crisis. Ultra conservative and nationalist parties in Germany have gained popularity since the public fear of terrorism related to the crisis began to rise, but Merkel will stand strong in her centrist beliefs. Unlike other leaders and parties who have begun to preach hate and intolerance in the face of terror threats, Merkel has continued to be accepting and moderate. From the security standpoint, aggressive far right politics that incite hatred against certain religious or ethnic groups could be more dangerous than centrist policies. To cause division among society and isolate minorites could lead to greater numbers of people turning to extremeism, which could result in increased violence. Merkel’s policies may not be the most popular, but her levelheadedness and tolerant attitude are exactly what Europe needs right now and could keep her citizens much safer than nationalist conservatives.


Trump Appointments and Muslims

Appointments have still not been announced for Donald Trump’s Secretary of State (although top contenders are said to be Romney, Giuliani, and Patreaus) and Secretary of Defense. His chosen National Security Adviser, CIA Director, and Chief Strategist, although not yet confirmed by the legislature, can already tell the world a lot about what Trump is envisioning for his administration. They have all been in some controversy or another involving, among other things, their public views on Muslims and Islam.

Flynn (Nat. Sec. Adv.), a once Democrat, has expressed his views that Islam is ” a cancer” and Pompeo (CIA) has expressed similar positions. Bannon (Chief Strat.) headed up Breitbart, the alt-right news site that railed against Muslims, among other populations and issues. With a recorded rise in hate crimes since the election of Trump, Muslims are feeling particularly vulnerable, and there isn’t a bright end in sight with Trump establishing an echo chamber around himself of anti-Muslim sentiments. While it isn’t yet clear how this will affect US relations with Muslim countries, many American citizens are already feeling the pressure.


Sunni leaders threaten to ‘split’ Iraq if Hashd enter Mosul

Sunni politician Khamis Khanjar was interviewed by Reuters this week and claimed that Iraq is at a huge risk for permanent partition and sectarian violence if the Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias enter Mosul. Known in arabic as the Hashd al-Shaabi, these militias are not as strong as the Iraqi Security Forces but are more symbolic of Shi’ite oppressment of Sunnis in Iraq. Khanjar’s comments are nothing new, but actually the latest reiteration of continued Sunni sentiments since 2003. Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq the parition card has been played by both the Sunni and Kurdish populations of Iraq to draw attention. That isn’t to say that Iraq is a strong country full of liberty, but the partition of Iraq is particularly unlikely for Sunnis. The U.S. should not worry about the partition of Iraq, but should instead understand these comments as a cry for help. While Daesh control of Sunni Iraq has been abhorrent for the populations, the general future for Sunnis faces uncertainty again. International humanitarian aid and rebuilding can mitigate this fear some, but overall the U.S. needs to keep a sharp eye on hardline Shi’ite leaders in Baghdad.



Turkish Officers within NATO

Since the coup attempt in Turkey back in September of 2016, many Turkish officers working for NATO have been called back to Turkey to be investigated as part of Erdogan’s plan to “protect” his country’s democracy. This prompted many to accept and head back to Turkey to defend their innocence, but some of said individuals were detained and interrogated making other officers worried about their call home. Now some of these officers still within NATO are applying for asylum within their current countries. The list of officers that are under investigation for supporting the coup are not the only ones at risk though, many who are not even on the list have been asked to return to Turkey. One of these officers returning home said this “my dismissal does not mean only losing my job. I have lost almost my all military IDs, passport, social rights, health coverage, bank accounts, retirement pension, working rights etc. And more sadly, I am left by myself without any past and unfortunately without any future.” This along with Erdogan’s content threat towards officers not returning has put NATO allies in trouble do they accept asylum seeking Turkish officers and risk straining relations with Turkey or do they turn them away to certain doom.




A Chinese think tank released a report stating that the increased US naval presence in the South China Sea threatens China’s sovereignty. The report states that the US has continuously beefed up patrols over the area since China began its build up in 2009. The think tank believes that the US is attempting to prevent anti-access/area denial. The US should continue these Freedom of Navigation Patrols (FONOP) in the South China Sea, as it shows our allies in the region we are continuing to protect them.csg8




Ukraine Missile test angers Russia



The Russian government condemned Ukraine for planning to fire missiles into Russian air space for military exercises. Ukraine is reportedly going to perform these tests in December, however the Ukraine government claims that these test will only take place in Ukraine air space and will not violate Russia in anyway. The missile tests may be seen as a necessity by the Ukraine Security and Defense council. however they are not making the situation with Russia any better. I do think that Ukraine should be perform military tests, especially if it is in their air space, but they seem to be pushing the envelope with Russia. No news has really come out about the ongoing peace talks, which probably means that the peace talks are not going well. More military tests will probably occur by Ukraine and Russia may decide to respond in a military fashion rather than a diplomatic way if Ukraine gets any where close to the border.


The US may have committed war crimes in Afghanistan


The International Criminal Court is investigating the possibility that the US committed war crimes such as torture in Afghanistan. The prosecutor for the ICC says that there is reason to believe that 60+ people were tortured in CIA facilities in Afghanistan and Eastern Europe; the US government has released a statement denying the accusation– and reminding the ICC that the US never ratified the Rome Statute and is not subject to ICC jurisdiction.

My question is– why is anybody surprised? I remember reading the Army Times article about the young soldiers who were court-martialed for desecrating the bodies of enemy fighters, and that was back in 2012. I also remember seeing the video of the fighter pilots accidentally bombing a caravan of civilians, who were mistaken for combatants. Not to mention the whole incident when the US bombed that hospital in Kunduz (which the Pentagon has said was not a war crime because it resulted from human error, not intent to kill).

The ICC’s decision to investigate is only surprising in that it took so long. Will they find anything? Maybe, maybe not. But this is definitely a PR embarrassment that the Pentagon did not need, and will serve to reinforce American reluctance to get involved in another war.



Santos Tries to Hurriedly Rush the New Peace Deal through Congressional Approval

In a noticeably quieter ceremony than the huge celebration that marked the signing of the original FARC deal, President Santos and FARC leader Londono (AKA Timochenko) signed the so-called new and improved peace deal. They signed the document with a pen made from a bullet to chants of “we did it” but I can’t help but get the feeling that this whole celebration is some kind of elaborate show. We’ve learned about how governments sometimes shift attention away from their country’s problems by pushing national attention onto another issue. It seems like a large portion of the public is unhappy about this improved deal and many people are prepared to take to the streets in protest. Santos seems to be hailing this peace deal as the end of violence and bloodshed in Colombia but the country still has a huge problem with the cocaine trade. I think that if Colombia is trying to achieve true peace after more than half a century of conflict then that’s an admirable goal but I’m becoming less and less sure that that’s what’s happening in Colombia right now. It’s starting to look like Santos’ government is just trying to pass an experimental peace deal against of the wishes of the public.

-Zainab Imbabi

France Thwarts Another Attack

This morning, 11/21/2016,  French officials arrested 7 individuals suspected of planning multiple coordinated terrorist attacks within France. The arrests come after months of investigation by France’s defense intelligence services. Since the attacks on France in the past year and a half, the country has remained in a state of emergency. The state of emergency allows authorities to be more agressive in their investigations and arrests related to terrorist activities. It is obvious from the arrests that are made and attacks that are thwarted regularly that France is still under threat of attack from terrorist organizations. The dicision to extend the state of emergencey, and allow law enforcement to continue fighting terrorism as aggressivly as possible is a positive one in terms of French security. Even during this state of emergency, terrorists have still been bold in planning and attempting to execute attacks. If the state of emergency was lifted, it would be easier for terrorists to coordinate attacks, and more difficult for law enforcement to stop effectively their plans. Until France is satisfied that it is no longer a prime terrorist target, and that the human threats within the country have been neutralized, it should remain in a state of emergency to maximize effeciency in preventing terrorist attacks.


“Corruption Perceptions Index”. Transparency.Org. Last modified 2016. Accessed November 22, 2016.

Afghanistan Investment Turned Security Threat


A luxury hotel/ apartment complex in Kabul has halted mid-construction, and is now a security threat to the US embassy across the street. The buildings reportedly cost around $85 million in taxpayer money.

This whole business is just a straight-up metaphor for the entire situation regarding America’s involvement in the Middle East. What is supposed to be a relatively simple project drags on far beyond its intended finishing date and become dangerous and costly to the American public. Lax oversight appears to be a major contributor in the case of the hotel, which is extremely concerning; why on earth was there lax oversight on a project in what is essentially a war zone? It makes one wonder what else wasn’t watched as carefully as it should have been– and what the results of those projects were.



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