Syria
Syria oil map

Kurds betrayed in new Russo-Turkish alignment?

Moscow hosted the first direct meeting in years between the intelligence chiefs of Turkey and Syria’s Assad regime, supposedly deadly rivals. The head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization Hakan Fidan met with Ali Mamlouk, head of the Syrian National Security Bureau, a sure sign of a Russian-brokered rapprochement between the burgeoning dictatorship of Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the entrenched dictatorship of Bashar Assad. Sources said the discussions included “the possibility of working together against YPG, the terrorist organization PKK’s Syrian component.” This is a reference to the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Kurdish militia in northern Syria, which is ideologically aligned with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the banned Kurdish revolutionary organization in Turkish territory. The YPG made a separate peace with the Assad regime to resist the Turkish invasion of Kurdish territory last year. It should come as little surprise that Assad is now considering their betrayal in exchange for some kind of peace with Turkey.  (Map: Energy Consulting Group)

Planet Watch

Will world war be October surprise?

Will an "October surprise" in the prelude to the mid-term elections in the US be the outbreak of world war—that is, direct superpower conflict? Things are escalating fast on the frontlines with both of the United States' major imperial rivals. The US Navy's Pacific Fleet is preparing to carry out a "global show of force" as a warning to China, after a near-skirmish between a US warship and a Chinese destroyer in the disputed South China Sea. Meanwhile, NATO is planning to conduct its largest military exercises since the end of the Cold War, Trident Juncture 2018, along Norway's border wth Russia. This comes as Washington and Moscow are odds over missile deployments, accusing each other of violating the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty. (Image: Lockheed Martin)

Watching the Shadows

Lithuania, Romania guilty in CIA torture case

The European Court of Human Rights found that Lithuania and Romania had violated articles of the European Convention on Human Rights by allowing secret CIA prisons to operate on their territory. Lithuania had allowed the CIA to open a "black site" on its territory, where the CIA subjected the applicant, Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn AKA Abu Zubaydah, to "ill-treatment and arbitrary detention." Lithuania must pay Husayn 130,000 euros ($150,000). The applicant in the Romania case, Abd al-Rahim Husseyn Muhammad al-Nashiri, was transported to a "black site" on that country's territory territory, and faced capital charges in the US. The court apprehended Romania for transferring al-Nashiri to the US when it was likely he would face the death penalty. Romania must pay the applicant 100,000 euros ($115,000). Both men remain interned at Guantánamo Bay. (Photo: WikimediaCommons)

Syria

Russian Cossacks fight in Syria?

Mystery continues to surround the US air-strikes on Syria’s Deir ez-Zor governorate, which Damascus called a “brutal massacre” of pro-regime troops. While the Kremlin denies that its troops were involved in the incident, survivors are said to be receiving medical treatment at Defense Ministry hospitals in Moscow and St. Petersburg. And the Kaliningrad-based Baltic Cossack paramilitary group issued a statement claiming its members were among those who “died for the Fatherland, the Cossacks and the Orthodox faith” in Deir ez-Zor. One of the slain was named by the group as a veteran of the war in Ukraine. (Image: Voices from Russia)

Afghanistan

ICC to investigate US war crimes in Afghanistan

International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda made a formal request to investigate alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by US the military in Afghanistan. The investigation would also examine crimes at secret CIA detention facilities in Poland, Romania and Lithuania. The request cites articles of the Rome Statute concerning murder, torture and unlawful imprisonment. It marks the first time ICC prosecutors have targeted the United States.

Syria

Syria: will peace plan mean world war?

Russia announced that it is sending forces to police the “de-escalation zones” in Syria—which could provide a spark for massive escalation.

Europe

Trump-Putin breach portends global catastrophe

The Flynn resignation has been followed by a fast and dramatic escalation of US-Russia tensions, with Pentagon troops deployed to Romania and a near-skirmish in the Black Sea.

Greater Middle East

Syria: nuclear flashpoint

The breakdown of US-Russia cooperation over Syria comes as Moscow moves missiles to the Polish border and withdraws from an agreement on plutonium disposal.

Europe

Obama’s nuclear upgrade: Euro-missiles redux?

Revelation of Washington's plan to station missile-capable nuclear warheads in Germany was met with a Russian threat to deploy ballistic missiles in the Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad.

Iraq

Kurds as pawns in Turko-Russian game?

An alarming confrontation between Turkish and Russian warplanes over the Black Sea ironically comes as both Ankara and Moscow seek to divide Kurds from the Syrian rebels.