Asia

Russia, Iran open their arms as Turkey loses patience with U.S.

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LONDON — Relations between the U.S. and Turkey have hit a new low over Washington’s support of militias battling the Islamic State, according to analysts. F. Brinley Bruton NBC News The government in Ankara views the Kurdish fighters as terrorists. Experts warn that the crisis is resulting in Turkey — a longtime American ally with NATO’s second-largest standing army — turning away from the West and toward Russia and Iran. U.S. military support for Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which are ... Read More »

Rex Tillerson signals an open-ended US military presence in Syria

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signaled for an open-ended US military presence in Syria as part of a broader strategy. Tillerson also called for “patience” on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s removal. David Brunnstrom, Reuters  Business Insider The United States on Wednesday signaled an open-ended military presence in Syria as part of a broader strategy to prevent Islamic State’s resurgence, pave the way diplomatically for the eventual departure of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and curtail Iran’s influence. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in a speech at Stanford ... Read More »

Money Can’t Buy China Love – but Influence, Apparently

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China under Xi Jinping is deeply concerned with its global status and standing and aims to regain its deserved place on the global stage Falk Hartig Asia Sentinel This has dramatic consequences not only for China but for the rest of the world One of the most important developments with regards to China has been the bold departure from the foreign policy dictum to keep a low profile. While the country, until recently, was mainly concerned with domestic issues and ... Read More »

Twilight of the Kurds

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Kurdish officials once dreamed of forging their own state out of the ashes of the war against the Islamic State. Now they are fighting for their very survival. By Joost Hiltermann, Maria Fantappie Foreign Policy Just a few months ago, it appeared that the Kurds of Iraq and Syria were the biggest winners in the war against the Islamic State. Bolstered by alliances with the very Western powers that had once betrayed and divided them, they dared to dream that ... Read More »

Freedom House reduces Turkey’s status to ‘not free’ in annual report

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U.S.-based non-governmental organization Freedom House has reduced Turkey’s status from “partly free” to “not free” in its latest annual report. Hurriyet The “Freedom in the World” 2018 report, published on Jan. 16, ruled that Turkey’s “political rights rating” had declined from 4 to 5 and its “civil liberties rating” had declined from 5 to 6. Specifically referring to the “deeply flawed” April 2017 referendum on shifting to an executive presidential system, the report also blasted the mass dismissals of state ... Read More »

The Iran Nuclear Deal at Two: A Status Report

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The 2015 Iran nuclear accord is working, but is at risk from longstanding U.S.-Iran rivalry, Trump administration policies and Tehran’s upsurge of activism in the Middle East. ICG The deal’s other signatories should encourage the U.S. not to withdraw and consider ways to sustain the deal, regardless of U.S. actions and as long as Iran remains committed to it. What’s the issue? The 2015 Iran nuclear accord is as successful as it remains fragile. President Trump has warned he will ... Read More »

Will Religious Instability Destroy Bangladesh?

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Bangladesh was born in 1971 after India intervened in Pakistan’s civil war, which resulted in the independence of what was known as East Pakistan. Doug Bandow The National Interest The new state’s politics were violent too, punctuated by military rule, which pushed to Islamicize the secular state. Bangladesh today is nominally democratic, but politics is bitterly fractious and violent. Moreover, Islamist tides are rising. Like a number of other majority Islamic states, such as Afghanistan and Pakistan, a once relaxed social ... Read More »

Japan to step up patrol of N. Korean illegal fishing

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Japan’s fisheries ministry says it is going to step up a crackdown on illegal fishing by boats from North Korea and other countries. NHK World There have been an increasing number of cases of foreign boats including many from North Korea fishing illegally in Japan’s exclusive economic zone in the Yamatotai fishing grounds off the Noto Peninsula in the Sea of Japan. Ministry officials say they will set up a taskforce led by the Fisheries Agency chief to strengthen the ... Read More »

Turkey, Russia blast U.S.-backed Syria force as “terrorist army”

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BEIRUT – Russia, Turkey and the Syrian government on Monday denounced the U.S.-led coalition plans to form a Kurdish-led border force to secure the areas along Syria’s international border to the north with Turkey and to the east, with Iraq. CBS News AP The coalition told The Associated Press Monday that 230 new cadets have already been recruited to the force, which is anticipated to reach 30,000 troops in the next several years. According to the coalition, the core of ... Read More »

Erdogan says Turkey will crush Kurdish militia in Afrin

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ISTANBUL (Reuters) – President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that Turkey’s military incursion in northern Syria’s Idlib province would crush Kurdish militia forces that control the neighboring region of… Reuters Staff The Kurdish YPG militia said Turkish forces inside Syria fired shells into Afrin on Saturday, but no one was wounded. Turkish troops entered Idlib three months ago after an agreement with Russia and Iran for the three countries to try to reduce fighting between pro-Syrian government forces and rebel ... Read More »

A New American Leader Rises in ISIS

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A two-year investigation identifies one of the very few Americans in the Islamic State’s upper ranks—and sheds light on the dynamics of radicalization Seamus Hughes, Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, and Bennett Clifford The Atlantic The clues are out there, if you know where to look. Scattered across far-flung corners of the internet, there is evidence that Zulfi Hoxha, the son of an Albanian-American pizza-shop owner from New Jersey, had sinister plans. First there’s the defunct Twitter profile, which at one point engaged ... Read More »

Abe in Latvia Calls for Pressure on North Korea

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The international community should step up pressure on North Korea to help defuse the stand-off over the isolated country’s pursuit of long-range nuclear weapons, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Saturday during a visit to Latvia. Aaron Eglitis Bloomberg “As the international order founded on the rule of law is being challenged, our two nations need to closely work together to maintain and strengthen the system,” Abe said in a statement after meeting Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis. The two ... Read More »

India has 600 million young people – and they’re set to change our world

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This new generation is motivated: it combines the cultural values of the traditional Asian family with the life goals of the American teenager Ian Jack The Guardian An illuminating and sometimes alarming book, Dreamers: How Young Indians Are Changing the World, is published this month. About 600 million people, more than half India’s population, are under 25 years old; no country has more young people. “No matter how poorly placed they find themselves now,” writes the book’s author, Delhi journalist Snigdha ... Read More »

Deadly ‘long-lost disease’ diphtheria rages through Rohingya camps

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In a makeshift bamboo clinic, small children struggle to draw breath through surgical masks, victims of a forgotten but deadly disease that has torn through the teeming Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh. UKHIA, Bangladesh Hurriyet Diphtheria had been all but eradicated in Bangladesh until last year, when more than 650,000 Rohingya poured across the border fleeing a bloody military crackdown in neighboring Myanmar. Packed into an area meant for a much smaller number of refugees and with little sanitation or ... Read More »

China’s record US trade surplus leaves Trump trumped

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The US president will hate the figures after saying he is getting ‘much tougher’ on the world’s second largest economy Gordon Watts Asia Times Whichever way you look at it, the latest trade figures from China will make uncomfortable bedtime reading for Donald Trump. In yuan or dollar terms, the numbers are dripping with red ink, which will fail to amuse the US President. Official data released by the General Administration of Customs on Friday showed that China’s trade surplus ... Read More »

Meet the theologian who helped MLK see the value of nonviolence

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After this last tumultuous year of political rancor and racial animus, many people could well be asking what can sustain them over the next coming days: How do they make the space for self-care alongside a constant call to activism? Paul Harvey The Conversation Or, how do they turn off their phones, when there are more calls to be made and focus instead on inward cultivation? As a historian of American race and religion, I have studied how figures in ... Read More »