Conflict update: February 6, 2017

Hey, so I’m not all the way back into blogging, but I’m back enough to post this very partial roundup of world news, with more to come tomorrow. There’s no particular rhyme or reason to what I’ve summarized here, it’s just whatever I had done when the clock hit 11:56 or whatever time it is when I actually hit “publish.”

Poland-Belarus War

While the failing, biased media wants to pretend it’s not happening, true American patriots know that, since the Bowling Green Massacre, the deadliest conflict in the world has been the ongoing border war between Poland and Belarus:

According to one U.S. official, national security aides have sought information about Polish incursions in Belarus, an eyebrow-raising request because little evidence of such activities appears to exist. Poland is among the Eastern European nations worried about Trump’s friendlier tone on Russia.

Well of course they’re worried, because they know that the only thing that can stop Polish aggression in Belarus is a united American-Russian resistance.

It’s not clear how the Trump administration has come to the conclusion that Poland is currently invading Belarus, but I suppose it’s worth noting that the Russian state-funded news outlet Sputnik reported back in 2015 that Belarus was seeking military aid from Moscow to defend itself from Polish aggression. There wasn’t any real evidence of Polish aggression back then, either, but it’s also important to note that even Sputnik, in November, reported that Belarus and Poland had signed a “military cooperation pact” for 2017. So either the Trump folks have some new intel that nobody else has seen, or they’re not only operating on the assumption that fake news is real, but they’re two years behind on their fake news consumption.


Representatives from Russia, Turkey, and Iran met in Astana on Monday to discuss ways to better implement the Syrian ceasefire. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reiterated that the going-nowhere Astana talks are not meant to supplant the going-nowhere UN-led peace talks in Geneva, and that there is plenty of room for two negotiating tracks that don’t accomplish anything.

The Syrian army and the Turkish/FSA force currently invading northern Syria are probably headed for a confrontation over al-Bab, but for now their simultaneous offensives on that city have had the effect of surrounding it and besieging the ISIS fighters inside.

The Syrian Democratic Forces say they began a “new phase” of the Raqqa operation over the weekend, operating east of the city to cut the main road between Raqqa and Deir Ezzor and extend its encirclement of Raqqa. In kind-of related news, on Sunday the US-led coalition bombed Tabqa, an ISIS-held town west of Raqqa, near Syria’s Euphrates Dam.


Some recent opinion polling suggests that the Turkish public does not support (that link is in Turkish, but you only need to know that evet means “yes” and hayır means “no”) the planned referendum to expand Tayyip Erdoğan’s massive power grab effort to shift Turkey to a presidential system of government. And, to be honest, I’m not sure how much this endorsement is actually going to help Erdoğan gain support:

At any rate, he already enjoys that of the princess. [Nilhan] Osmanoglu, who claims to be a direct descendent of Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II, declared that she would “naturally” vote yes in a planned referendum on Erdogan’s long coveted superpresidency.

In an impassioned speech during a conference devoted to her forebears, Osmanoglu railed against what she called the injustices inflicted by Turkey’s current parliamentary system. It was, she asserted, to blame for the execution of former Prime Minister Adnan Menderes and the ill-treatment of female students who wear the Islamic-style headscarf that was once banned on university campuses. “We’ve had enough of the parliamentary system,” the sultana huffed. Her comments unleashed a furor.

This is basically walking Erdoğan right into one of the main arguments that his opponents keep leveling at him: that he’s an Ottoman wannabe. That it comes from a (claimed) descendant of Abdul Hamid II–who, as the last Ottoman sultan who really had a direct hand in ruling the empire, is a polarizing figure for modern Turks–doesn’t help either. Much of the referendum’s polling weakness is because a surprisingly high percentage of nationalist-leaning voters, whose support is critical to Erdoğan’s chances, oppose the constitutional change. While I guess it’s possible that some of those nationalists are nostalgic for the old empire and could be swayed by this kind of endorsement, Turkish nationalism is almost by definition an anti-Ottoman sentiment. Erdoğan might want to tell his other Ottoman descendant fans to keep their traps shut.


Some of it is probably overzealous, coming on the heels of two years of total dysfunction, but there’s a lot of optimism about Lebanese politics right now. The Era of Good Feelings stemming from last year’s deal to elect Michel Aoun president and appoint Saad al-Hariri as prime minister has been taken both as a sign of and a contributor to a (slight) thaw in relations between the two international patrons of Lebanon’s rival political factions, Iran and Saudi Arabia. The Saudis, speaking of which, have decided to appoint a new ambassador to Lebanon, which ordinarily wouldn’t be news except that there hasn’t been a Saudi ambassador to Lebanon since last summer. Riyadh didn’t formally withdraw its envoy, but it simply didn’t replace the old one when he left, a low-key way of expressing its unhappiness with Beirut.


On Monday the Israeli Knesset passed a bill legalizing 4000 Israeli settlements known to have been built on Palestinian land, land theft having once been a crime even under Israeli law in the Occupied Territories. There’s a very good chance that this law will now be struck down by the Israeli Supreme Court, which is an outcome that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may even welcome, as he’ll be able to tell the Israeli far right that he did his best without having to face the international repercussions that would be forthcoming if this law were to actually stay on the books.

On Monday, a rocket fired from Gaza hit Israeli territory, causing no casualties but drawing an Israeli military response that wounded three people in Gaza.


Yemeni rebels say they fired a ballistic missile at a Saudi army base in western Riyadh, which would mark the first time they’ve targeted the Saudi capital. It’s not actually clear that they did this or whether they successfully hit their target.


The ongoing low-level conflict between Cameroon’s French- and English-speaking populations is affecting social services, with public schools in the English-speaking city of Bamenda all but shut down thanks to a teacher strike. Teachers and lawyers in the predominantly English part of the country are protesting the fact that French-speaking judges and teachers are often sent to hear cases and teach students in the English-speaking part of Cameroon, despite the fact that they can’t understand the cases they’re hearing or teach in their students’ language.

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