Kurdish fighters allegedly backed by the US, have crossed the Euphrates River in Syria and have moved against fighters from the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” (ISIS) holding the city of Manbij. The city is about 20 miles from Jarabulus, another Syrian city located right on the Syrian-Turkish border. Jarabulus too is held by ISIS.
The initial push toward Manbij came from the Tishrin Dam in the south, however, another front was opened up and is hooking around the city’s north – successfully cutting off the city and its ISIS defenders from roads leading to the Turkish border – including Route 216 running between Manbij and Jarabulus.
Planning an assault on an urban center requires that an attacking force cut off city defenders from their logistical routes. Doing so prevents the enemy from fleeing and regrouping, but also diminishes the enemy’s fighting capacity during the assault. It is clear that the fighters moving in on ISIS in Manbij have determined that Jarabulus and Turkey just beyond the border, constitutes the source of ISIS’ fighting capacity.
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Prior to the parliamentary elections in South Korea, the news was awash with a beautiful story regaling readers with the refrain: “they chose freedom!”. 13 people (12 women and one man, the manager) escaped from the North Korean restaurant, Ryugyong, in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province in Southeast China to South Korea.
At first, the story was presented in the finest of “cold war” traditions. The news broke of specially selected staff, middle-class immigrants who had ended up in China, where they began to watch South Korean TV series and surf the net. It was then that they understood how they had been deceived by the North Korean propaganda and how good life in the South is, thus making the decision to escape. What’s more, prior to the upcoming WPK Congress, the authorities had begun to demand large cash transfers, while the ban on South Korean tourists visiting North Korean restaurants had caused restaurant revenues to drop, and its staff had come under threat of repressions…
According to South Korean media, in late March, the North Koreans had come to contact with South Korean officials and informed them of their desire to escape. However, it was impossible to simply up and leave to South Korea – the North Korean authorities could waylay the escapees in Chinese airports, plus the Chinese authorities do not look favourably on such operations. Therefore, the escapees were dressed to look like South Koreans, given South Korean passports in advance, put in cars provided by South Koreans and taken overland to Malaysia, from where, on April 7, they flew into Seoul without fanfare.
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For decades, the carefully scripted Anglo-Saxon world has been gloating at the sight of lesser polities’ perpetual political turmoil: whether it be European — France’s successive ‘Republics’ – currently the Fifth — or the escapades of Italy’s media tycoon turned politician – or Latin America’s succession of what Fidel Castro called ‘politicheros’ – or Africa’s long-term dictators – the US has always been above such confusion, our two parties participating in regularly-scheduled two and four-year election cycles.
Hence surprise and incomprehension among both actors and commentators, as the Republican Party finds itself saddled with a candidate chosen by a rambunctious people rather than party hacks, while the Democrats are unable to see that Hillary’s coronation comes eight years too late: Democratic youth have finally discovered socialism, and are unlikely to vote for Hillary because she has not.
2016 will go down in history as the year the US strayed beyond the boundaries of the Democrat/Republican duopoly, the elephant and the donkey, the blue and the red, into a free-for-all in which the media no longer has to soup up ‘stories’ to increase ratings (which have replaced rational analysis). Many have commented on the ‘bandwagon’ that accompanies American elections, few have considered are made to appear more meaningful in terms of policy than they are.
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As of the end of May this year, the situation in Syria has, in principle, remained largely unchanged, despite the intense fighting amongst all the parties involved in the conflict, including external participation from Russia and the “international” coalition led by the United States. Although the zone of influence of the terrorist groups like the IS and “Jabhat al-Nusra” has gradually narrowed, no decisive turning point has been reached yet. New Islamic militants are joining their ranks to replace those “Jihadis” who have fallen in battle or deserted the group. These new fighters receive financial aid and weapons from rich Arab nations, as well as from Turkey albeit not via official government structures.
Despite the announcement of May 20, that from May 25 Moscow intended to begin unilaterally targeting and taking out the Syrian terrorists who have continued fighting and have not dissociated themselves from Jabhat al-Nusra, and the US refusal to accede to these air strikes, Russia still hopes to reach an amicable agreement with Washington on this crucial matter. However, America is trying to independently organize the Syrian armed opposition into offensive units against the positions held by the IS in Aleppo, in an obvious attempt to prevent the recovery of control by the government troops. Against this background, during the week, both Russian aircraft and Syrian Air Force aircraft attacked the positions of IS and “Jabhat al-Nusra” militants that are not covered in the cease-fire agreement, in the provinces of Aleppo and Homs, Hama, Deir ez-Zor, and Raqqa. On May 25 and 28, there was a joint air strike by aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces and Syrian Air Force on a convoy of oil tankers in the eastern province of Homs.
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Therefore, it is hardly surprising that against the emergence of more potent pepper spray, human rights organizations in New York are accusing the city police of excessive abuse of power (the new plan to stock high potency pepper spray has been opposed unanimously by activists and human rights organizations).
“Uscapitolindaylight” by Kevin McCoy.
“Uscapitolindaylight” by Kevin McCoy.
This trend is developing against a background of US law enforcement agencies running away in terms of violating civil rights, Reuters would note. According to The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review newspaper, Federal prosecutors declined to bring charges against law enforcement officers in the United States facing allegations of civil rights violations in 96 percent of relevant cases between 1995 and 2015. Overall, prosecutors turned down 12,703 potential civil rights violations out of 13,233 total complaints. Those figures clearly show that the claims made by the Black Lives Matter movement have been relatively accurate all along.
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Like a mythical sea monster, the true nature of a Wall Street-London centered global corporatocracy is often talked about but rarely seen. However, on rare occasions, a tentacle breaks the surface and affords the public an opportunity to examine and assess its true, gargantuan dimensions.
Just such a moment occurred when leaked diplomatic letters from the Colombian Embassy in Washington D.C. revealed just how far the United States government is willing to go on behalf of the corporate-financier interests that clearly shape the entirety of its foreign policy.
The Intercept would report in its article, “Leaks Show Senate Aide Threatened Colombia Over Cheap Cancer Drug,” that:
Leaked diplomatic letters sent from Colombia’s Embassy in Washington describe how a staffer with the Senate Finance Committee, which is led by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, warned of repercussions if Colombia moves forward on approving the cheaper, generic form of a cancer drug.
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While the current phase of the conflict in Syria has consumed numerous lives, it also has enabled the Kurds, who are scattered in the Middle East, to raise their political significance to a level hitherto untouched since the notorious Sykes-Picot treaty. While the question of Kurdish independence has become as important as elimination of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, there are countries in the region, such as Turkey, who, despite the successful Kurdish resistance against ISIS, continue to desist their emancipation. It was, in this context, only two days ago when Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu went on to call a hypotactic approach on the part of the US to openly support the YPG fighters in Syria. Should this support be necessarily seen as an American soft-corner for an independent and sovereign Kurdistan?
While the U.S. may not have expressed such support and despite the fact that the U.S. has classified the PKK as a “terror group”, Turkey continues to see in co-operation between the U.S. and YPG a ‘conspiracy’ being hatched to eventually establish Kurdistan. Without directly calling it some ‘conspiracy’ against Turkey, the foreign minister did, however say, “It is unacceptable for the soldiers of the United States our ally which is very assertive in the fight against terror to use or wear the badges of a terror organisation, ` Cavusoglu said. The minister decried what he said was the approach of `a terrorist organisation I can use and a terrorist organisation I cannot. ` `You wear the insignia of a terrorist organisation on your shoulder, put up its flag in your capital. Of course we will not succeed in the fight against terrorism through this understanding as it is today, ` he said.
It is quite apparent that Turkey has a definition of ‘terrorism’ different from that of the U.S. or even Russia and China. It is this disagreement over classifying all Kurds as ‘terrorists’ or potential ‘terrorists’ that has made the U.S. resist intensive lobbying from Turkey to also outlaw the YPG and stop working with the group in Syria. He also insisted that in private talks with President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry the United States had said the YPG `are not reliable` and vowed Washington would `stand by Turkey in the fight against terrorism.` `And then they wear the badges of the terrorist organisation responsible for the last two attacks in Ankara,` he complained.
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As history shows, significant improvement of a country’s economic situation inevitably boosts its military ambitions. The world has been holding its breath for the last 30 years witnessing the rapid economic growth in China, waiting for the new developments. And China did not fail the expectations of the global community. Whereas before the mid-2000s the Chinese leadership was rejecting the very idea of expansion of its military presence abroad, now the situation has changed dramatically.
The global economic crisis of 2008 that shattered the faith in the sustainability of the US dollar and weakened the positions of the US opened up new opportunities for the Chinese yuan. Shortly thereafter, global mass media started talking about new Chinese military doctrine. Its new objectives included not only the reform of domestically stationed troops, but also the formation of an international contingent and establishment of Chinese military bases abroad.
A worrisome situation in the South China Sea, which has been deteriorating since 2009, revealed China’s indisputable dominance over its nearest neighbors in the region. It also became evident that the US could no longer order the now powerful China around and dictate how to deal with the territorial disputes in the South China Sea. At the beginning of 2016, the number of Chinese artificial islands with a 12-mile patrolled area exceeded the number of American destroyers present in the South China Sea. In addition, as recently as in February 2016, China installed air defense missile systems on Woody Island, one of the Paracel Islands contested by China, Taiwan and Vietnam. In May, Chinese military intercepted an American ship in the patrolled 12-mile area near one of the reefs of the Spratly Islands, which Beijing considers part of its territory.
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Throughout history, controlling India was the key to controlling Nepal. British control over the landlocked nation was an extension of its control over India itself. Today, imperialism is far from a distant memory. It did not go “extinct,” rather, it merely “evolved.” Today, imperialism looks like national and international “aid programs” which are used as fronts and vectors for corporate special interests.
USAID, the World Food Programme, and others, for instance, serve as fronts and vectors for corporations like Monsanto. In turn, Monsanto seeks a monopoly over world food production and the immense wealth and influence associated with such control. Just like the British East Indies Company did for centuries (1600’s-1800’s) the West is using a combination of corporations and foundations to project geopolitical power. And few other sectors engender such sought-after geopolitical power like control over a nation’s agriculture.
The story of corporate-financier interests attempting to conquer Nepal through this method is not new. In 2011, when “Maoist” rebels finally took control of the country and Western-style “democracy” foisted upon the Nepali people, Western corporations were already positioned to overrun the levers of power by controlling the nation’s infrastructure.
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On May 6-9, Pyongyang hosted the Seventh Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea. In the run-up to the congress, experts of different degrees of involvement made various predictions. On average, Korean studies experts maintained that the congress would be just another event in the life of North Korea. Some “generalists,” on the other hand, speculated that the event would trigger drastic economic reforms, others insisted that there would be radical purges, while there were some, who asserted that the event’s opening ceremony would be accompanied by a fifth nuclear test.
In fact, none of that happened. Actually, the only suspense of the whole event was in that foreign journalists were not allowed inside the building where the congress was held. There also were no official delegations from other countries (not because those who had been invited did not show up, but because it had been decided to hold the congress in private ). There was one more “sensation,” the leader of the country was dressed in a European style suit on the opening day.
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The American aggression against China continued Tuesday May 10th with the invasion of Chinese waters just off the Spratly Islands by an American destroyer as China’s limited stock of patience continues to run out.
By sending their ships into Chinese territorial waters on the bizarre claim that they are exercising “their right of innocent passage” and that, the “United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows,” they are in fact claiming the right to go anywhere they want, anytime they want. They might as well claim the right to once again send gunboats up the Yangtze River bristling with guns and marines, for their passage through Chinese waters was not only illegal, because without permission; it was also certainly not “innocent” since the passage was meant to be a display of power and control, which is prohibited by the Law of the Sea Convention.
The American claim of following international law is absurd because international law requires that a naval vessel of one county wishing to enter the 12 nautical mile limit of another country must have the permission of the country whose waters they wish to cross. They have to ask permission and they have to fly that country’s flag when they make the passage. All foreign ships entering another nation’s waters fly their own flag and that of the host nation. The Americans refuse to ask permission and they certainly do not honour the custom of flying the Chinese flag. They might as well send their ambassador to a meeting with President Xi and, in front of everyone, spit in his face. For that is what they intend, to insult China, and to dare it.
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Earlier this year, despite immense fanfare, the US-ASEAN Summit held in Sunnylands, California ended in a fizzle rather than a bang. Little of substance emerged from and admittedly “symbolic” summit, and the US even went as far as criticizing guests as they departed – lecturing them regarding “democracy” and “human rights.”
Coupled with this send-off designed to humiliate, was the US State Department’s various funded media fronts operating in each respective ASEAN state, mocking and denigrating ASEAN leaders who have fallen from Washington’s favor.
Far from another step toward fostering better relations between Washington and Asia as prescribed by the US “pivot to Asia,” it was instead a transparent attempt to empty out the resources of the region via compromising and coercive free trade agreements – more specifically, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – and line up an unwilling Southeast Asia as an adversarial proxy against Beijing – a notion none save for Washington attending the summit found appealing.
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Recently, President Erdogan’s inner circles have intensified attacks on Isbank, the biggest private Turkish bank, and the pressure has only been increasing. Established in 1924 by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Isbank has been heavily criticized by pro-government mass media since 2012. Yigit Bulut, a senior advisor to Prime Minister Erdogan was the last to bash the bank last January. Bulut openly stated that the government should be managing the bank’s operations.
Isbank often falls victim of heated political debates because of its structure. According to Ataturk’s will, the Republican People’s Party (the main opposition party) is supposed to hold 28% of the bank’s shares. In his speech Bulut contested this provision, denying the Republican People’s Party’s right to be the bank’s major shareholder. He also said that the bank should be promptly expropriated and turned into a state-controlled institution.
Bulut’s remarks shook the markets causing Isbank’s shares to lose about 5% of their value the following day. The managers of Isbank were also shocked. Though there were calls to expropriate the bank in the past, it was the first explicit statement on the topic produced by a high-ranking official closely affiliated with the President. A week later, President Erdogan received a letter signed by Ersin Ozince, Chairman of the bank’s Board of Directors, and Adnan Bali, the bank’s General Manager. According to the information released by a Middle Eastern news agency Аl-Monitor, the letter contained the bank’s background and listed concerns over Bulut’s statements.
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Myanmar’s “de facto leader” Aung San Suu Kyi recently warned the United States to not refer to the Rohingya ethnic minority as “Rohingya,” in an attempt to deny them the dignity and human rights she and her party posed as renowned defenders of.
For those critically examining and long-following political developments in Myanmar and their wider geopolitical implications for Southeast Asia, Asia, and the world, Aung San Suu Kyi and her “National League for Democracy” (NLD) political front, along with a vast array of Western-funded NGOs’ turning against Myanmar’s Rohingya population after predicating their ascent into power upon “human rights” and “democracy” is no surprise.
For those receiving their news from establishment media networks in the US and Europe, Suu Kyi refusing to recognize the Rohingya, many of whom have lived in Myanmar for generations, may seem puzzling, even disappointing, or more disturbingly, an opportunity for excuses.
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While the U.S. government, particularly president Obama and John Kerry, have been voicing two different courses of action with regard to Syria, some recent developments explain the reason for a sort of confused policy the U.S. is currently following and might continue to follow in the months to come. This confusion is evident from the way the U.S. President categorically denied, in his recently given interview to BBC, the possibility of sending more troops to Syria and the way an announcement was afterwards made with regard to sending 250 more troops to Syria to buttress the already stationed troops’ position. This announcement seems to be in ‘perfect harmony’ with John Kerry’s recent ‘warning’ to Syria, Iran and Russia regarding kick-starting transition in Syria by August or else the U.S. might come up with a “new approach” to resolve the crisis.
While the prevailing confusion might not be a ‘confused’ policy in hard terms, it is certainly clear that the U.S. is under a lot of pressure, both domestically and globally, due to its inability to achieve its objectives in Syria in particular, and the Middle East, in general. While the U.S. media was quick to associate this decision of sending additional troops to Syria to the mounting domestic pressure against the government’s passivity against ISIS, the underlying reason is that the U.S. sponsored militants are continuously losing ground to the Syrian army in Syria.
This measure seems to be aimed at taking a pre-emptive action to dominate northeastern parts of Syria and pave the way for the disintegration of this country. The US had previously sent 50 Special Forces to take position along mostly Kurdish regions of Syria in the northern part of the country. The main task of these forces was mentioned as supporting the Syrian Kurds and also what the United States describes as “moderate militants.” The news about sending more American forces to Syria was first broken one week after Syrian government forces and their allies retook the strategic city of Palmyra from Daesh. At that time the Reuters quoted anonymous American officials as saying that the United States was mulling a plan to increase the number of its special forces in Syria. The Reuters’ report had noted that the new forces will be tasked with training and logistical duties and will not take direct part in combat operations.
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