Iran
Persian Gulf

Trump sends more troops to Persian Gulf

In response to the recent escalation in Iraq, President Trump has ordered thousands more US troops to neighboring Kuwait—and hudreds more Marines into Iraq itself. The US and Iran are playing a geo-strategic game for control of Iraq, and the greater region. Both sides are treating the Iraqi people as pawns. As long as ISIS and Sunni jihadists remain a threat, Washington and Tehran can only push things so far. But things could still escalate toward US war with Iran, even if neither side is seeking that outcome. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection)

Syria
troops return to Syria

Trump makes grab for Syrian oil-fields

A US military convoy was spotted headed back into Syria from Iraqi territory—just days after the US withdrawal from northern Syria, which precipitated the Turkish aggression there, had been completed. The convoy was traveling toward the Deir ez-Zor area, presumably to “guard” the oil-fields there, now under the precarious control of Kurdish forces. Following up on President Trump’s pledge to secure the oil-fields, Defense Secretary Mark Esper now says that the troops being mobilized to Deir ez-Zor “will include some mechanized forces.” Despite the talk of protecting the fields from ISIS, it is Russian-backed Assadist forces that are actually now also advancing on Deir ez-Zor from the other direction. So a show-down appears imminent—with the Kurds caught in the middle. (Photo: Rudaw)

Central Asia

Uighurs as pawns in the Great Game

In a perverse spectacle, the Trump administration, which is establishing its own incipient concentration camp system for undocumented immigrants, makes a great show of feigning concern with the mass detention of the Uighurs in China’s “re-education camps.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called China’s treatment of the Uighurs the “stain of the century,” and accused Beijing of pressuring countries not to attend a US-hosted conference on religious freedom then opening in Washington. At the conference, Donald Trump actually met at the Oval Office with Jewher Ilham, daughter of the imprisoned Uighur scholar Ilham Tothi. It is hard to fault the Ughurs for being heartened by this international attention, but it is clear that they are being exploited for propaganda purposes. (Photo: Mvslim.com)

Europe

The Yellow Vests and the carbon wars

The Yellow Vest movement in France scored a victory, as President Emmanuel Macron agreed to suspend a controversial fuel tax after weeks of increasingly violent protests. This may be concretely a win for the working class, but the fact that Macron imposed the tax in the name of reducing carbon emissions has provided fodder for anti-environmental content to the movement. Exploiting this moment, Donald Trump blamed the uprising on the Paris climate accord, tweeting: "The Paris Agreement isn't working out so well for Paris. Protests and riots all over France. People do not want to pay large sums of money, much to third world countries (that are questionably run), in order to maybe protect the environment. Chanting 'We Want Trump!' Love France." (Photo via CrimethInc)

Greater Middle East

Qatar crisis places US regional policing in pickle

Qatar's diplomatic isolation by the other Gulf states, accused of supporting terrorism in the region, heightens contradictions for the Pentagon's use of the critical al-Udeid Air Base.

Iraq

US prepares ground troops for Syria

The Pentagon is dispatching some 2,500 combat troops to back up forces fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, as the US-led anti-ISIS coalition continues to fracture.

Greater Middle East

Emir of Kuwait dissolves parliament

The Emir of Kuwait issued a decree to dissolve the country's parliament after weeks of deadlock over austerity measures imposed due to depressed global oil prices.

Greater Middle East

Kuwait upholds four-year term for tweeting

Kuwait's Supreme Court upheld the four-year prison sentence against an activist found guilty of insulting judges on Twitter—the latest in a string of such convictions for illegal tweeting.

Watching the Shadows

Last Kuwaiti Guantánamo detainee repatriated

The last Kuwaiti held at Guantánamo, supposed Osama bin Laden advisor Faiz Mohammed Ahmed al-Kandari, was repatriated after years of pressure from Kuwait's government. 

Greater Middle East

ISIS coordinated attacks from France to Kuwait?

Seemingly coordinated attacks left over 140 dead across four countries in what social media users are dubbing "Bloody Friday"—one year after declaration of the ISIS "caliphate."