Archive for September, 2018

Ready for Return?

Foreign minister Walid al-Moualem announced that Syria was ready for the return of refugees. He stated that Syria would welcome help rebuilding but will not accept aid from sponsors of the rebels. This statement to the UN General Assembly, is meant to demonstrate Syria’s stability and place all the blame on the rebel factions. His statement claimed only “terrorists” caused the destruction and abnormality  of life, along with their “unilateral economic measures” which forced the Syria people to seek refuge elsewhere. This diminishes the fact that a civil war requires fighting from both sides. Although this is possibly a move to solidify Assad’s legitimacy, it seems improbable that the international community will turn a blind eye to the reality that is the civil war.

The US is involved because it is one of the world’s largest givers of humanitarian and development aid. Additionally, the US supported the YPG, a Kurdish nationalist group and the Syrian Democratic Forces. If Assad will not accept US aid it is likely to be difficult for Syria to gain enough international aid to rebuild. The inability for US aid to Syria will further eliminate US influence in the state.

Anna K.


The Repercussions of the Attacks in Ahaz

By: Brenden Villarreal

In leu of the deadly attacks in Ahaz, Iran the Iranian government has taken a very aggressive posture toward who they claim is responsible (United States, Saudi Arabia, and Israel). Because of the aggressive behavior of Iran, the U.S. State Department is closing down their diplomatic missions in Basra, Iraq in order to avoid retaliation by Iran. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, called it a “temporary relocation due to security concerns” not a closure, which makes sense because Basra is one of Iraq’s largest cities and sits on a vast amount of crude reserves.

If Iran were to make a move against the United States through a proxy as it claims the United States did, the United States has promised to directly retaliate against Iran not the proxy.

The Iraqi government has also threatened any actors that disrupt or attack diplomatic missions. Iraq will be dealt with swiftly and that an attack on a diplomatic mission in Iraq will be taken as a direct attack on them.

Either way you analyze this situation, direct or indirect retaliation by any actor will lead to further instability in the region, however necessary the retaliation may be.

More Violence on the Gaza Strip

Seven Palestinians were killed in recent protests on the Gaza Strip and their funerals were held this past weekend. 144 people have been killed so far during the protests on the strip since March. These seven new deaths are particularly troubling though as they include an 11 and a 14-year-old. Both sides (Palestinians and Israelis) blame the other for the violence; however, there is a deadlock between President Mahmoud Abbas of the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza over who is in control of the Gaza Strip. Funeral goers chanted anti-Israel and anti-America chants and called for revenge while Hamas asked for an easing of the blockade on Gaza as the blockade is having drastic impacts on Gaza’s economy. Egypt has been acting as a mediator between the Palestinians in Gaza and the Israelis, and is attempting to achieve a cease fire between the two and may help lessen the blockade.
Clearly there are multiple security concerns at hand in this conflict. Palestinian anti-Israel and anti-American chants and calling for revenge could result in violent attacks on the American embassy and on Israelis. If Egypt is unable to help the two sides negotiate a cease fire on the Gaza Strip, it will make it even harder for the Trump administration to bring peace to the region (he apparently has a peace plan that has yet to be announced). If there is no cease fire in the near future and the blockade on Gaza is not eased, the violence may become more intense as Palestinians in Gaza become more frustrated or Hamas could potentially be overthrown due to the blockade and hardships it has created. The Trump administration should work alongside Egypt to try to negotiate a cease fire on the Gaza Strip in hopes of later creating peace among Palestinians and Israelis. He should also announce what his peace plan entails as it could bring both sides to the negotiating table faster if it is going to be as successful as he makes it sound.


For background on the Gaza Strip violence:

Trump Announces Defeat of ISIS… Sorta

Hello Class,

This weeks update on ISIS is that President Trump has verbally stated that the group has been expelled from both Iraq and Syria. This is by no measures a small defeat by the international effort in the war on terror. On the topic, I believe this is just the first stage of the war due to the fact that we are fighting a mindset and not a traditional army. The Islamic State may have been repelled from these two middle eastern countries but I believe they will continue spreading to more countries across the globe, as the trend has been.

A quick note on why ISIS has failed,
As we all know Terror organizations are terribly hard to defeat due to their ability to hide in plain sight, with no real land or physical location. ISIS on the other hand made the mistake of taking over large parts of Iraq and Syria, centering themselves around oil refineries and towns. This was a great way for them to make money and allowed them to fund their rapid campaign across the middle east. However, when the time came to fight them, the international community had stated geographic locations to attack. The United States along with other allies, even Russia, made quick work of expelling these terrorist from the two countries stated above. This will just be a learning lesson for upcoming groups and I doubt the world will ever see a terrorist organization take and hold physical property again.

Yes ISIS is out of Iraq and Syria, but they are not removed from the picture. In fact I’d say they are far from removed. From this point I believe the attacks in the middle east will decrease but attacks in Europe and even American soil will increase.


London Bridge terror attacker had complained about President Trump

The suspect in last year’s London Bridge attack was apparently motivated by a hatred of President Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May. Fifty-two-year-old Khalid Masood had called Prime Minister May a “liar” and complained that President Trump was rude and a racist. On March 22, 2017, an SUV plowed into pedestrians on the Westminster Bridge in London, killing four pedestrians. An unarmed police officer was fatally stabbed following the incident. An English school teacher, Masood had sent religious text messages to several of his friends before the attack took place. This attack was the first in a serious of extremist attacks on British soil in 2017, including the bombing of a concert hall in Manchester and an attack on a mosque in Finsbury Park. This could cause problems for both President Trump and Prime Minister May. This could cause hostility towards the two from people within Great Britain and could reduce public support for both.


Annemarie A.



No More Room

El Paso del Norte International Bridge is the location that connects Juarez Mexico and El Paso Texas. Recently, ports of entry, especially at this location have been the topic of political debate when it comes to boarder security. A number of Customs and Boarder Patrol officers have been put in this location in order to properly ID ‘pedestrians’ and determine their citizenship status. This increase in officers was more recently put in place to address the level of asylum seekers coming from Mexico. The article offers the case of Angelica who is seeking asylum from an increase level of violence in Mexico that had claimed the life of her son and her husband. It is mandated by US law that those seeking asylum are to have their cases heard if they are to step foot on US soil. Officers are now telling migrants that there is “no room” to help get around the aforementioned law. The officers lack of leniency comes from the need to create immigration policy that takes into account the influx of asylum seeking migrants from Central American countries like El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. According to statistics collected by the US Department of Homeland Security while Mexican asylum pleas sit at 455, those from central America are around 25,000.

The fear on the side of the citizens seeking asylum and those that work for human rights groups is fear of retaliation and targeting by organized criminal groups. On the other hand, US policy makers and citizens are worried about what the lack of security in the home countries of these asylum seekers means for their own national security. While the main policy answer for the Trump Administration is the implementation of the boarder wall, it might also be a good idea to look at ways to assist in the ending of conflict in these countries, helping to stop the cause of the increase of immigration rather than waiting to turn people away at the boarder putting their lives at risk.



U.S. Military Strikes Back

In Somalia, an airstrike killed 18 Al-Shabaab militants yesterday. The airstrike was order after a large group of militant began attacking U.S. forces in Southern Somalia. It is also reported that no United States or allied Somalian troops were killed or wounded in the attack. Also recorded during the firefight, Somalian forces killed two additional fighters. Thus far, the US has performed 21 airstrikes against Al Shabaab since the beginning of the year. Airstrikes are regularly used to support the 500 US personnel currently operating in Somalia.

The United States needs to make a decision about how committed they are to staying and assisting the Somalian government militarily. Currently, there is a large scandal between the federal and state governments. The State government is currently pushing for an audit and investigation of corruption to be performed on the federal government. The lack of Somalian stability should give the United State government more reason to be cautious about assisting in the African nation. The United States government needs to either pull out of Somalia and focus the resources on other areas in the region or continue to lend assistance in the nation while exerting a large amount of pressure on the country to alleviate their corruption issues.



Crossing Mountains (literally and metaphorically)

China and India have announced plans to sign an internal security cooperation agreement during the Chinese Minster of Public Security’s upcoming trip to India next month. The agreement will cover intelligence sharing, exchange programs, and cooperation in dealing with disasters, among other things. This pact is particularly notable following a very tense border dispute several months ago over neighboring Bhutan. While this only one of the very early steps, this agreement is still something the United States should be aware (and possibly concerned) of. The fact that China is the one going to India, especially after such a volatile dispute, shows a willingness on the Chinese to ease tensions with India. For the US, India acts as a bulwark between China’s aggressive Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and to a certain degree it’s rapidly expanding navy. Perhaps equally importantly, further agreements between these global superpowers could work to minimize the US’s influence in the Pacific, already stretched thin. Though as mentioned, it is still early steps, it is something to watch.

-Henry Tucker

Russia to supply Syria with S-300 missiles

A week ago, Israeli air force targeted a military facility inside Syria, which Iran used to manufacture and potentially transfer lethal weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon. During this air raid, Israel destroyed its targets, but an unfortunate incident could have some serious consequences for the region. During this raid, a Russian reconnaissance airplane Il-20 with 15 crew members was shot down by the Syrian air defense system, which targeted the Israeli warplanes. Russia blames Israel for this, because they did not give an adequate warning to the Russian military before conducting this operation, as stipulated by the agreement that they reached in 2013.
Now, fast forward to today, and Russia defense secretary Shoigu announced that Russia will supply Syria with S-300 missiles to bolster its air defense and also, to protect Russian soldiers from future harm. Even though, the agreement from 2013 between Russia and Israel guaranteed that Russia would not supply the missiles to Syria so that Israel could conduct its air raids and operate on the territory of Syria, consequently, this incident that caused the death of Russia’s servicemen changed the dynamics and left Russia with no choice, but to provide better security for its servicemen.
This is unprecedented, because now Israeli air force will have to be careful how it conducts its operations, because these missiles are much more sophisticated and modern and would be able to down its jets. It is also an unusual hiccup in a very good relationship that President Putin and Prime Minister Netanyahu developed in the last few years. It seems that Putin sided with his military in this issue, because at first he did not want to blame the Israeli side. This will have serious consequences for the region, because now Assad’s regime will have much better air defense missiles, which could put US and its allies at bigger danger, if they decided to conduct future operations in Syria. It also soured the relationship between Russia and Israel, which was very good up to this point, and could have a serious affect on the region in the future.


Georgian President meets with NATO Representative

The Georgian President meet with Deputy Secretary General of NATO on September 21. It seems that this meeting was to affirm that NATO’s relationship with Georgia was strong and NATO would continue to support Georgia. Most likely this is to remind Russia that while Georgia is not a member of NATO, it does have connections that will be used to dissuade Russian aggression especially since Black Sea security concerns are there and there are territories being occupied at the moment. Based on the language from both NATO and the Georgian President, closer ties between the two are likely which could lead to Russia having its power feel threatened in the region which could lead to further Russian aggression in the future.


Robert Drake

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