Archive for April, 2022

Russia’s medium term objective may be exposed as war wages on Ukraine’s Eastern border

Last week, Russian troops left Northern Ukraine and regrouped on the Eastern border. Officials believe this was a “plan b” move to seize control of the Luhansk and Donetsk territories in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine and secure a land bridge between Crimea and the Donbas. If this is Putin’s current goal and succeeds, I would imagine there being a possible stalemate.
Of course, such an action would require at least half a year if Russia can maintain its momentum and forces. As you can see on the map below, Mariupol, a port city, is under Russian control. Even though it is past the front lines, there is still a resistance there attempting to evacuate civilians. Officials project that the city may be destroyed and taken over within the next few days. This loss will be a significant blow for Ukraine as Mariupol is the last occupied port city on the Southeastern border. I believe that Ukraine should launch counter-attacks on Russian supply lines, hindering their attempts at getting armored vehicles into the regions; since Western weapon technology has proven to be vital in deterring advancements by Russian forces.

-Luke H

100+ Boko Haram Fighters Killed in Joint Operation

Colonel Muhammad Dole, the spokesman for a Multinational Joint Task Force fighting Boko Haram and ISWAP, announced Sunday that “well over a hundred terrorists have been neutralized, including over 10 top commanders … following intelligence-driven lethal air strikes in the Lake Chad islands by the combined air task-forces” (Ola). The Joint Task Force consists of troops from Nigeria, Niger, and Cameroon- all countries that have suffered from the Boko Haram insurgency which has left thousands dead and millions internally displaced. Nigeria is set to receive a boost after US lawmakers approved a nearly $1 billion weapons sale that had previously been on hold due to concerns of human rights abuses by the Nigerian military.

Since the death of its leader, Abubakar Shekau, last year, Boko Haram has been on the defensive and declining. Despite marginal victories along the way, they are facing more organized, better equipped force in the Multinational Joint Task Force. They are also struggling with in fighting (ie. ISWAP breaking off as a splinter group), as well as thousands of fighters and their families that have surrendered in the last year. At this pace, I don’t think Boko Haram will be able to sustain their operations for another year.

-Thora Gibbs


Ukraine Live Updates: Russian Offensive in East Has Started, Ukraine Says

Russia claims to have hit many targets throughout Ukraine with missiles and artillery, including a lethal strike on Lviv, which has been a refuge for tens of thousands of fleeing civilians. They have now begun their focused ground attack in the Eastern part of Ukraine, a move which has been anticipated by many for weeks. Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy has said that no matter how many forces Russia concentrates in that area, the Ukrainian people will continue to fight and defend themselves. These attacks come immediately following signs that international sanctions are starting to hinder the Russian economy.

The United States approved an additional $800 million dollars worth of military assistance to Ukraine this past week, but this is not enough. This brings the total up to roughly $1.7 billion since Russia invaded on 24 February 2022. Although this is helpful for Ukraine’s defense efforts, the United States should continue to send weapons, and humanitarian aid supplies to Ukraine in the coming days and weeks.


South Korean President-Elect to Send a Delegation to Japan

South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol plans to send a group of parliamentarians to Japan to “establish a foundation on North Korean policy and resolve pending issues between South Korea and Japan.” This comes at a crucial time in international affairs as the disputes between South Korea and Japan are recorded as the “Achilles Heel” to the trilateral alliance between them and the U.S., whom, with Biden as President, is pushing for a more Asian-oriented foreign policy for containing a belligerent China and North Korea.  Issues surrounding the history of Japan’s colonization of Korea, including but not limited to payments towards Korean sex slaves, forced labor, Japanification, etc. are a key dispute in relations since Japanese nationalism has steadily risen over the last few decades and members of Japanese academia, political class, and judiciary have denied these historical facts. Other issues such as releasing waste water from the Fukushima power plant and Japan tightening exports to South Korea have further soured relations between the two countries. Once the Ukrainian invasion is over, the Biden administration will shift its full focus on China, and with the upcoming Quad summit in Japan on May 24, relations must improve between Japan and South Korea so they may maintain a consistent policy against China’s proxy in North Korea while the Quad itself and other Southeast Asian nations can have their full focus on China.

-Ryan Llufrio

China holds military drills around Taiwan as U.S. lawmakers visit

US lawmakers recently, paid a visit to Taiwan to promote relations between the two countries. As a result, China performed military drills around Taiwan in the East China Sea. China consistently sends planes into Taiwan’s air defense zone and holds military drills around the island. Taiwan has been preparing for a Chinese invasion since around 1949.  To quote the article I am blogging about: China’s defense ministry said the U.S. visit was “deliberately provocative” and had “led to further escalation of tension in the Taiwan Strait. China talks big about taking back Taiwan and given the prime opportunity they have with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it is likely that they may move sometime in the near future.

I think the US is playing with fire by visiting Taiwan. The One China Policy has worked fine since 1979, no need to change up things now. Inflation is already rampant and I couldn’t imagine the manufacturing goods from China halting overnight. The US needs to play it safe here with the current volatility in Ukraine. China has a prime time slot to take Taiwan if NATO gets involved in Eastern Europe.



Fighting Rages in Marib Despite UN Truce

After the established peace by the United Nations in early April, Houthi Rebels are accused of continuing the violence in Marib, Yemen. The city of Marib has been a critical battleground for both sides in the war. However, the Saudi Coalition fears that the Houthi’s will use the seize fire to regroup and escalate their attacks.  From an outside perspective the majority of the fighting has stopped, specifically on the Saudi Coalition side. The conflict in Marib presents a broader issue of peace for Yemen. The Houthi’s justify their action by claiming the Saudi Coalition is not properly holding its end of the truce. The United States has remained a secondary player in the conflict by continuing support to the Saudi Coalition but has not contributed to the fighting.

Justin Mayer

Fighting rages in Marib despite UN truce | Conflict News | Al Jazeera

Dozens injured in riots in Sweden after Quran burnings

Far-right groups, including some from neighboring Denmark, planned and carried out a burning of the Quran in an immigrant suburb of Stockholm, Sweden. This has led to several protests which later turned into riots. Around 40 people were injured during these riots and the police arrested 26 people because of the riots. The burning of the Quran has led to a string of condemnations from Muslim majority nations directed against the far-right groups who perpetrated the violation of religious freedom. This situation has the possibility of turning into a potential terrorist attack, similar to the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in 2015 or the controversy over the Danish publication of the Mohammed cartoons in 2005 should it continue to escalate. However, it seems that the tensions are decreasing as no riots occurred today.



Sweden Quran burnings: Dozens injured in riots – CNN

‘Mighty Dragon’: China Sends Its Most Advance Jet Fighter, J-20, to Patrol the South China Sea

In a statement on Tuesday, Ren Yukun, a senior official from Aviation Industry Corporation of China has stated that J-20s have been deployed to the Southern Theatre Command. This command includes the South China Sea and East China Sea. In the South China Sea, J-20s are being placed on Alert Patrol where they are scrambled to intercept interlopers and fly combat patrols over the East China Sea where China has made claims but has no territory. This statement is the first official confirmation the J-20 is operating in the region. The deployment is seen as a warning to the west that China’s best will intercept your military units. General Kenneth S. Wilsbach, Commander of the Pacific Air Forces said that the most recent encounter between the USAF and J-20s has impressed the USAF with the J-20s capabilities.

China is further escalating their deployment in the region with the addition of the J-20. China already is very aggressive with their deployments of their Navy, and a Chinese Carrier Battle Group outfitted with J-20 jets allows them to project more power. Right now, the J-2os are only deployed off island airbases so they have fixed positions.


Israeli Police clash with Palestinians around the Al Aqsa Mosque

Israeli police entered the Al Aqsa Mosque on Sunday after hundreds of Palestinians began hoarding stones and iron barricades to prevent Jewish visitors from visiting the site.  17 people were injured as a result. Sunday morning, a large banner was hung on the compound that said Hamas, the militant Islamist group that rules the Gaza Strip, was calling on Palestinians to defend the Al Aqsa Mosque from “invading Israeli settlers.”

Separately, a group of Arabic speaking people were responsible for throwing stones targeted at several busses traveling near the Old City of Jerusalem.  Israeli police arrested 9 people in connection with both of these incidents.   Previous to these events, on Friday, 158 Palestinians and 3 policemen were injured during clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians around the Al Aqsa Mosque.

The Al Aqsa Mosque is located on a hilltop plaza known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary which is one of Islam’s holiest sites, and known to Jews as the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site. Although some  may argue the Israeli Palestinian conflict has become less of an issue over time, flare ups are bound to happen as the main issue at hand persists.



Growing cases of hepatitis amongst children in UK and US prompt investigation by international health officials

International health officials are currently investigating an alarming increase in unexplainable hepatitis cases amongst children in Europe and the United States. On April 5, The World Health Organization was made aware of 10 cases of unexplained hepatitis in Scotland, with all patients being under the age of ten. Just three days later, the case numbers rose to a staggering 74 cases across the entire UK. In the US, specifically Alabama, there have been a total of nine unexplainable hepatitis diagnoses for children ages 1 to 6. Although there have not been any reported deaths in any of these cases, six children have required a liver transplant. The article is careful to note that there are potentially many unreported cases, which effects the numbers currently representing its prevalence. The CDC and WHO are investigating the adenovirus and covid-19 as an early hypothesis to explain the origins of this phenomenon.

As the world continues to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, the potential for another health crisis is incredibly concerning. These cases of hepatitis, which have only appeared in children, have yet to been explained or attributed to anything specific. If caused by a new virus, the world could face yet another pandemic if the transmission rate is high enough. If a new vaccine has to be developed, this could amplify the problem even further when considering just wait time. If these cases are linked to covid-19, there is a chance that this problem could be tackled rather quickly; however, there are still many children who cannot be safely vaccinated. Although the cases appear to be somewhat contained, it could further burden areas already dealing with covid if it were to spread further. Regardless of it origins, it is important that this issue be handled as quickly so that as few children as possible fall victim to this illness.

Darcy Spicer

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