Saturday, March 19, 2016

Phase 4, week 2

Hi all

For this week, you're doing research on the two countries you picked past week, looking for whatever they have done this week.

By the end of the project, you will have to answer the following questions:
1) What does the country have ate stake in the current conflict?
2) What does it hope to achieve by it involvement?
3) By what methods it is trying to achieve these goals?

Remember you can use any sources you want!

32 comments:

  1. I focused on Russia only for this week, and tried to do a very complete research so I'm able to focus on the US for next week because these types of informations are very hard to find, and to select.

    Russia’s reasons for involvement in Syria:

    1.Taunting Turkey to hope for a crack in NATO unity
    → November event of Russian plane shot down by Turkey (airspace): economic + diplomatic repercussions
    → Russian planes continue to violate Turkish airspace, Turkey shoots Kurdish supported by Russia, so pushing Turkey to play a part in Syria against Russia.
    → as Turkey is a NATO member, other NATO states would wage war against Russia or not say anything

    2.Syrian Kurds changing besties
    → Syrian Kurds were USA’s most effective on the ground allies against ISIS
    → not invited to Geneva conference: tensions
    → Syrian Kurds (YPG, or People’s Protection Unit) = terrorist group
    → USA didn’t defend Syrian Kurds, but Russia did
    → Syrian Kurds now besties with Russia: opened an office in Moscow for them
    → Russia showing USA’s contradictory strategy

    3. Russia trying to divide European Union
    → Russian airstrikes claimed to be against ISIS + terrorists, but help Assad
    → Russia + Assad bombing civilian population + non-ISIS affiliated groups: leaving the West make a choice between Assad and ISIS
    → refugee crisis dividing europe? Putting pressure on Turkey, debate over Islamists with links to Syrian terrorists is helping extreme right-wing politicians (Marine Le Pen for French Regionals + Germany rn) : weakening the EU, with doubts on Schengen passport-free travel…
    → weakening of EU would be loss for USA + gain for Russia

    4. Russia toying with USA
    → John Kerry, February 2016, Munich announced that “world powers had agreed to a cessation of hostilities in Syria”
    → Sergey Lavrov agredd to the plan, but made it clear that did not apply to “terrorist” groups
    → Russia intensified attacks in Aleppo: strategic gains for Assad
    → USA diplomatic effort looks hapless

    5. What Russia wants the world to believe:
    → Monday March 14th 2016, Putin surprises everyone by announcing that military force will be leaving Russia
    → “The effective work of our military created the conditions for the start of the peace progress” -Vladimir Putin, first round of Geneva talks
    → The catch:
    Putin, however, said Hmeimim and Russia's Mediterranean naval base at Tartous would continue to operate as normal.
    Deputy Defence Minister Nikolay Pankov said some air strikes would continue.
    → "Certain positive results have been achieved... However, it is too early to talk about victory over terrorism. A Russian air group has the task of continuing to strike terrorist facilities," he said, quoted by Ria news agency.
    → "We are leaving completely reliable cover for the remaining contingent... To effectively ensure security, including from the air, we need the most modern air defence systems," Russian media quoted him as saying.

    6. What Russia’s official reasons seem to be:
    → Russia is one of President Bashar al-Assad's most important international backers
    → the survival of his government is critical to maintaining Russian interests in Syria
    → September 2015, Putin said was aimed at "stabilising" the Syrian government and creating conditions for "a political compromise" that would end the five-year conflict.

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  2. Thailand:

    I decided to change my subject to water in Thailand and this week, mostly about the climate change. France is very concerned with that subject.

    http://www.asianews.network/content/environment-thailand’s-biggest-concern-2016-6707
    http://lci.tf1.fr/videos/2015/cop21-miami-thailande-le-danger-de-l-augmentation-du-niveau-des-8689510.html

    The COP21 discussed over one major problem: climate change. This is a worldwide issue, which is why France is trying to raise awareness. In doing this, TF1, the most viewed television channel in Europe, shared a video with examples of places where climate change is the most dangerous: amongst them, Thailand. Indeed, because of the climate change, the level of water went up to the point where Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, might be flooded less than 30 years. Additionally, the Asia News Network is a network of many medias in Asia, which covers the major news of this continent. Thailand’s concern on climate change was one of the topics issued this year 2016. By posting this article, Asia, and later the majority of the world, will be noticing the danger and might change.

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  3. Iranian/Russian Relations:

    What does the United States think of this relationship?
    Seeing as the Nuclear Agreement has just passed, the United States want to ameliorate relations with Iran, who has been building good relations with Russia, which is not sitting well with the United States because of the disagreements between the United States and Russia on the subject of Syria. This past week United States senator Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker wants Obama to deal harshly with Russia arm traffickers that are selling arms to Iranians, this is a representation of what the United States think of the two countries’ relations.

    What does Israel think of this relationship?
    This relationship between Russia and Iran bothers Israel because of their involvement in Syria, since Russia supports the Syrian government but not the Israelis. This Wednesday, Israeli President met with Vladimir Putin in Moscow to discuss Russian involvement in Syria. Israeli president said that he was against the presence of Iranian armed forces near Golan Heights in Syria.

    Mark FAGUER, 1ES4

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  4. As mentioned previously, in the Ukrainian conflict, the United States risks an expansion of Russia, one which they do not want to see happen. With tense US-Russia relations due to both countries’ involvement in the Middle East and the sanctions applied because of the Ukraine conflict, a form of rivalry seems to be forming between the two nations. The US hopes to stop Russia’s invasion in Ukraine and therefore wants the latter to regain independence while adhering to the EU. In order to do this, the US is offering advice to Ukraine while enforcing sanctions on Russia with the EU and putting pressure on Russia when needed (like the case of the Ukrainian pilot detained in Russia).
    The EU does not want to lose an important trading partner such as Ukraine. Just as the US, it also does not want it to fall into Russian hands, but rather stick to a respectable democratic form of government that dominates the EUropean scene. By involving itself into the conflict, the EU wants to continue its economic affairs with Ukraine and contain Russian invasion. Like the US, it enforces important sanctions on Russia but also signs economic deals to strengthen EU-Ukraine relations.

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  5. A few countries have decided to get involved in the Al-Shabaab conflict. The first on is Kenya. They decided to get involved because of the numerous attacks on Kenyan soil that were perpetrated by the group. over the past week, they have given information to other countries in order to neutralize the group.
    The other country is the US. They decided ti get involved because the terrorist group does represent a danger for the US. Over the past week, they got involved in the conflict in the sense that they bombed / drone attacked an Al-Shabaab training camp thanks to intel provided by the Kenyan and African Union armis.

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  6. Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iran haven’t done much in Venezuela this week. However, they have tried to “help” Venezuela, and more generally oil producing nations, to stabilize the oil production.

    Saudi Arabia, Russia and Venezuela are trying to stabilize the oil market. This deal, however, does not include Iran. They’ve agreed to freeze oil output in order to counter the slump which pummeled world economies and companies. Their goal is to stabilize the oil price. As of today, supply exceeds demand, pushing prices below $20 a barrel. Since 2014, the price of an oil barrel has been at its lowest for Venezuela. This deal could potentially boost Venezuela’s economy in a few months. However, I believe such deal is quite hazardous for Venezuela because it means that the country will have to stop producing oil for a certain period of time when it used to be extremely dependant on oil exportations. Their economy will be practically nonexistent during this period of time. As for Iran, it does not wish to cut oil production, continuing to boost its production in order to recover from years of conflict. Yet, Iran has decided to freeze its production when it will reach four million barrels per day.

    https://fr.sputniknews.com/international/201603131023326902-iran-gel-petrole-condition/
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-02-16/saudi-arabia-and-russia-agree-oil-output-freeze-in-qatar-talks
    http://www.el-nacional.com/mundo/principales-productores-petroleo-reuniran-Doha_0_812318894.html

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  7. Nowadays, the US involvement in Afghanistan is not only restricted to the Taliban insurgency. The rise and spread of ISIS has led to their presence in Afghanistan. As part of their policy against ISIS, the US have been fighting them. Last week, American authorities have allowed for more agressive measure against ISIS, therefore engaging in an intensified bombing campaign.

    NATO presence in Afghanistan is assured by a number 12000 in the personel who assist, train and give advice to Afgan security forces. Also, they provide funds to sustain the Afghan security forces' power. Lately, the Chairman and the Secretary General met with the President and chief executive of Afghanistan and have reached the conclusion that, with the help of NATO, the Afghan forces have been doing better, especially through last year's rise in the Taliban conflict.

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  8. AQAP// Yemen conflict

    What does the country have at stake in the current conflict?
    According to Saudi Arabia, their intervention in the Yemen conflict is necessary for their own security, and is also a way of defending the Arab world’s poorest country, considered as their “backyard”- the Saudis claim their priority is to have a stable neighbour to the South and to protect their southern cities.
    Last year it was announced its goal was to “protect Yemen and its people from the aggression of the Houthi militias that are supported by regional powers whose goal is to establish authority over Yemen and to make it a base for its influence in the region”.
    (The Guardian/ Al Monitor)

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  9. FROM PRISCILLA


    http://www.worldbulletin.net/africa/170521/benin-to-deploy-troops-against-boko-haram
    http://thenationonlineng.net/us-pledge-support-fight-boko-haram-support-victims/
    This week, the US has stated that they will continue to support people that are affected by Boko Haram’s violence by giving humanitarian aid and victim support services. It was stated in an article that some people are scared that Boko Haram could direct their attacks on the US, but the article said it was highly unlikely because of the groups attack “routine”. As for Nigeria’s neighboring countries, five of them have decided to create the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF). Cameroon, Chad and Niger have sent troops since late 2015 to join Nigerian forces at Ndjamena. In the following months Benin will deploy 150 troops to assist regional forces battling Boko Haram.

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  10. The Sinai insurgency in Egypt :
    Nothing happened this week concerning my conflict and the two countries I chose (US and Israel).
    Therefore I focussed on finding information about the US and Egypt alliance. I found more detailed information regarding how the US is helping Egypt again The Islamic State. CFR declared in 2015 the following, “the administration [US] requested $1.3 billion for Egypt in military financing and $150 million in economic aid.”. This aid is still going on, the US has thought about minimizing the aid but has not taken action yet on the subject.
    Egypt for the US is a major ally in the region and Egypt for the US “could act as an anchor for regional security and counterterrorist efforts” declares Foreign Affairs. Currently, the“U.S. naval ships enjoy fast-track access to the Suez Canal (albeit with the payment of a hefty premium), and Egypt allows American military aircraft to fly over Egyptian airspace” (Foreign Affairs), the US could compromise these benefits (previously stated) if they reduced the funding aid for Egypt. Therefore helping Egypt combat ISIS permits the control of the conflict and allows the US to take action but also strengthen the ties with the Egyptian government.
    http://www.cfr.org/egypt/washingtons-egypt-dilemma/p36720
    https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/egypt/getting-over-egypt

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  11. North Korean conflict

    This week, Barack Obama issued an executive order imposing new sanctions on the North Korean government after the illicit nuclear test and satellite launch, which violated existing UN sanctions. The order consists of freezing North Korean government property in America, banning US exports to North Korea and any investment, and blacklisting anyone dealing with North Korea. In addition, anyone who violates the sanctions will have their assets frozen by banks. The U.S action is expected to significantly increase pressure on China to cut its own business dealings with North Korea.

    In response however, China expressed its opposition on Thursday to those unilateral sanctions, saying they could raise tension. In fact, China ultimately doesn’t want any sanctions to affect nor harm its “reasonable interests”, as China holds more economic ties with North Korea than the US.

    Reason for US involvement in the conflict:
    At the end of World War II, following Japan's surrender in 1945, the Soviet Union allied with the communist North and the United States with the anti-communist South. During the Korean War in 1950, the US defended South Korea against the North’s invasion. Since the US prevented the North’s attempt for the peninsula’s “unity”, the US became North Korea’s main target. After the war, the US established a bilateral alliance with South Korea in order to contain the Soviet threat in the Pacific and to deter other North Korean attacks, as US troops guaranteed US involvement. To this day, the US maintains military support in South Korea. Today, the alliance mainly enables the US to prevent North Korean expansion and any nuclear attack which is a threat to the US and neighboring countries. For the US, their country is at stake because it remains North Korea’s number one target. While the North might struggle to hit the US, it could still strike US interests or allied countries such as South Korea, Japan, and Guam. As North Korea is developing nuclear technology, the US stays involved: their stationed troops permit immediate action and defense in case of attack.

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  13. Afghanistan.
    The US have intensified their airstrikes in Afghanistan, especially targeting ISIS bases. Drones and fighter jets have dropped 251 bombs and missiles between January and February. Obama has allowed this increase of attacks in order to prevent ISIS from taking refuge in the uncontrolled (by the Ghani’s gov) areas of the country. Following the bombing of Kunduz ‘s Medecin Sans Frontière hospital a few months ago, the US has now punished administratively members of the bombing crew. Apparently because of communication problems, the crew targeted the wrong building: they were initially heading for a Taliban command center several yards away.
    India’s long-run friendship is being inaugurated by the India-Afghanistan Friendship Dam which will be done this June. It was successfully tested on Friday. India has committed 2 billion dollars since 2002 to help rebuild the Afghan state! India has also very recently given Afghanistan a “mega flag” (symbolic for their friendship…)

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  14. East China Sea:

    I didn’t exactly find things that the US did this week, but I found some information that brought a “zoom out” view of my conflict. I realized that until now, the East China Sea and the South China Sea conflicts has almost always been mentioned together. This means that China is acting similarly in both situations, and that the general goal she wants to achieve is sovereignty over the islands. However, with the US having a sphere of influence quite close to, or even in, the disputed islands, these two confrontations fuses together to build up a global problem of the US: competition between these two superpowers to gain spheres of influence in the Pacific Ocean. In my last entry, I affirmed that the US acts as mediator country in the East China Sea conflict, and that it doesn’t take any position in competing for the land claims. But, as I wrote above, it seems more complicated and nuanced than that. The issue has been on-the-run for a while now, but China’s recent territorial claims have added urgency to solving this problem. This competition in the Asia-Pacific region is mostly obvious in the South China Sea, but the US is fearing that China has the same deeper goal in the East China Sea as well. Therefore, in the East China Sea conflict, the US is definitely fearing that her relation with Japan would make her get involved in war if anything happened, but its sphere of influence and presence in the Pacific region is, indirectly, at stake as well.

    http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/south-asia/us-and-china-must-not-carve-up-pacific-ocean-into-two-spheres-of-influence-pm-lee
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-navarro-and-greg-autry/mearsheimer-on-strangling_b_9417476.html

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  15. Ukraine

    Two main powers are struggling for power in he Ukrainian crisis: NATO and Russia. Both of these powers have direct interests in this conflict. For example, Russia always had close ties with Ukraine historically. But most importantly, Crimea is a military port for Russia. The peninsula has indeed a precious warm water military port for Russia, on the Black Sea giving them control overs the region. Ukraine has also been part of the USSR and always a region greatly influenced by Russia. Thus, the loss of Ukraine, and especially Crimea’s port would become a significant diminution of Russia’s sphere of influence. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s closing ties with NATO will create NATO’s sphere to spread, and Russia would feel threatened, already being surrounded by NATO member countries in Europe (in the west) and America (in the North beyond the North Pole).

    Adrien Lopez

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  16. East China Sea

    I haven't found any info regarding the indirect implication of countries other than the U.S. in the East China Sea conflict yet and there hasn't been anything said/done by them in a while. However, I have noticed that on the CFR Global Conflict Tracker page the "impact level on U.S. Interests" has gone from 'Significant' to 'Critical' since last time I've checked (about 1 or 2 months ago). There isn't any news that could explain the status change though.

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  17. About a week ago, the secretary of state John Kerry insisted on the importance to end the conflict in Yemen during talks with the Saudi leaders. The US government insists that Saudi-Arabia and Iran establish “cold peace” and that the two countries should “share the neighborhood”. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is reducing its frequency of airstrikes and focusing on training due to a potential accusation, for now a warning from the UN that they are commiting international war crimes.

    Lucas Tournier

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  18. Terrorism on the US soil:

    - Terrorism, U.s.-Eu Cooperation Against. U.S.-EU Cooperation Against Terrorism (n.d.): n. pag. Web.

    This article was published at the beginning of the month (March 2nd) and summarizes many projects led by the "US-EU Cooperation Against Terrorism". Since 2001, promoting law enforcement and intelligence cooperation has been the United States and EU priority. The contacts between U.S and EU officials on police, judicial and border control policy matters have incessantly increased as these two powers’ police and judicial bodies share information, work together to suppress terrorist financing, strengthen transport security with accords on container security and airline passenger data. In fact, since the 2001 terrorist attacks in which airplanes were used as weapons, both the US and the EU have set a range of measures to improve aviation security. Additionally, they collaborate to detect and remove Internet content that promotes terrorism and develop many communication strategies to counter terrorist ideologies, especially online.
    All these procedures are done, aiming at one single goal: to stop terrorists and the propagation of their ideologies throughout the world.

    France and the US have been collaborating over terrorism for a long time but their relations have never been so vibrant. France was the only country of the European Union to join America in striking ISIS in Syria. However, nothing new has happened this past week but quite recently these two powers have agreed to share all of their information concerning terrorism, to unite their forces and defeat ISIS in the most efficient way.

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  20. FROM ANTOINE
    France is part of the 70% of the UN countries that recognized Palestine as an independent state, and has recently been in tension with Israel. Jordan had attempted to pass a UN resolution to make the Israeli remove their troops from Palestine, and it was almost passed thanks to a surprising UK abstention and French approval for the resolution, even though they are usually considered as neutral in the conflict, if not pro-Israeli. This shows that France stands by its opinion that the only way to solve the conflict is to create an independent Palestine.
    The US had initially allied with Israel as a part of the American containment policy. It is the only country that is as democratic as any the West wants the Middle East to be, and since the US promotes democracy as one of its most important values, Israel is the only “considerable” option in the Middle East.

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  21. US :
    Yesterday, a speech was given by Assistant Secretary Linda Thomas-Greenfield about why and how the US should get involved in Nigeria. Firstly, she described the gravity of the situation in Nigeria and its impact on African regions (displaced people, attacks in Chad). Then, she mentioned Boko Haram’s relation with ISIS as being “tenuous but worrisome”. The US is not only Nigeria’s greatest trade partner, but also its greatest diplomatic partner. After the attacks in the US on 9/11, the Nigerian government showed strong support and the US returns the favor, especially since Boko Haram is opposing the democratic system of Nigeria.
    Furthermore, she states that the US not only gave military support but also provided 195 million dollars for humanitarian assistance.

    UK:
    Nigeria was a former colony of Britain and gained its independence in 1960 and since then, has maintained good relations with the UK. Nigeria has a high commission in London just as the UK has a high commission in Abuja and a deputy high commission in Lagos. About a week ago, the UK had a conference about women participation and equality in politics. Furthermore, about a month ago, the British high commission provided greater training to aviation security staff in Abuja’s international airport Nnamdi Azikiwe. The UK, threatened as well by terrorism, decided to create collaboration between the British High Commission, the UK’s Department for Transport, and the Federal Ministry of Aviation to help the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria.

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  22. Libya conflict- EU and US


    EU- In recent weeks hundreds upon hundreds of Libyan migrants have headed towards Europe in boats. Last week, a boat containing nearly 600 people was saved by Italian coastguards. Many of the migrants say that it is because of the instability and violence in their country that they are fleeing. In response to the ongoing waves of Libyan migrants, the EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini announced that “planning was underway for a mission to rebuild Libya’s police, counter-terrorism and border management operations to work with the United Nations.” The instability in Libya was already a concern for Europe as it lead to the rise of Terrorist organisations such as ISIS. Now Europe is more concerned than ever as thousands of Libyans flee northwards to escape the war and destruction that is currently unfolding in their country.

    US- Not much has been said about Libya in this week’s presidential primaries and debates. The country has been focused on the economy and foreign affairs as a whole rather than specifically looking at Libya. However, in an interview with the daily mail, the British prime minister David Cameron admitted that Libya “was a shit show” he also criticized Obama for not focusing on Libya in recent weeks saying that “he must take his share of the blame” following Obama’s comments when he said that the region had been more stable since the death of Gaddafi in 2011.

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  23. China, almost immediately after the recent cyberagreement with the United States has been met, has already been caught to violate it. The primary objective of those seven attacks seemed to have been the theft of intellectual property and trade secrets. Some say that China has had no change in behavior since 2011 regarding the issue of cyberattacks towards the US, as it appears that they continue to attack the US for information, and are apparently not interested in a truce.

    In the past week, Anonymous has declared war on Donald Trump, and have already started releasing personal information about the Republican, such as his Social Security number, and his phone number. Anonymous called this operation, "OpWhiteRose", in an obvious reference to a non-violent resistance group during Nazi Germany. However, all difused information has had very little impact, and even comparing Trump to Hitler has had little to no consequence. On top of that, further research has demonstrated that the information the hacking group had made publicly available was actually already floating around on the web. Despite Anonymous' intention to fight back against Trump's violent and racist campaign, there have been no consequences to this declaration of war, and people are wondering what Anonymous can really do to deal a heavy blow to Trump.

    Quentin Siart (I switched from Russia to Anonymous, because it was more interesting to the subject)

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  24. Syria:

    The Syrian war sees two main sides: the regime and the rebels. The rebels are supported by the US and the Regime is supported by Russia. Naturally, there are media/propaganda wars in-between Russia and the US to sell their "product".
    http://www.france24.com/en/20160318-us-contradicts-russian-claim-25-syria-air-strikes
    On this page of France 24 we can see that the US is claiming Russia to bomb rebels positions which is not new, but, they are also saying that they replaced their bombers by tactical missiles. Russia adamantly refused to be target of those accusations and returned several planes on Tuesday.
    https://next.ft.com/content/e5917508-ecf5-11e5-888e-2eadd5fbc4a4
    Meanwhile, Russia seems to change tactics and is starting to remove certain troops from the Syrian ground. The cause? The retreat of IS and the progression of the regime forces in the past months around the country. But the time has not come yet for full retreat. Russia will still be assisting the Assad regime by bombing rebel bases and IS camps.

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  25. South China Sea:
    The U.S. this week has officially declared, with the Philippines, that it agreed to a rotational military presence in 5 locations. This means that American marines will be deployed to 5 Philippine military bases to work together. This is a result of China's constant growing military presence in the sea.
    There hasn't been much activity in the area as all countries are focused on North Korea who fired a ballistic missile.
    It's pretty much basic stuff that happened this week. U.S. signs pact with a country who is in dispute with China. China gets mad and says that the U.S. should leave as this doesn't concern them. U.S. says it does and they are pushing for free navigation in the sea. China says that they aren't allowed to do that and send more military to the sea. Pretty regular stuff as this happens on a regular basis.

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  26. The United Nations play a special role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Despite being the first to officially recognise Israel as a state in 1947, the position they have adopted since then is ambiguous. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been the topic of many UN resolutions. Many of these include the Human Rights Committee discussing the living conditions of Palestinian refugees. What is interesting is that most of the resolutions discussed within the Security Council have been about questioning Israel's right to the land. For example, resolution 476: " ... 'reiterates' that Israel's claim to Jerusalem are 'null and void'", despite having recognised Israel as the "national home for the Jewish people". This makes their position ambiguous and their reliability unclear.

    An article by the Independent published in February 2016 discusses Prime Minister of the UK David Cameron's viewpoint on Israel. He claims to be a generally big supporter of Israel, however the condition of Palestinians have made him criticize many of the Israeli army's recent actions.

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  27. Iran Conflict in Syria:

    The United States has just signed a deal with Iran ending the nuclear crisis in Iran. Unfortunately there is no time to celebrate because of the Syrian conflict becoming worst everyday. Saudi Arabia and Iran are now in conflict after the execution of Shia religious leader Nimr al-Nimr and the burning of the Saudi embassy in Tehran. The U.S fears that this tension is threatening U.S. efforts to end the Syrian civil war and stop ISIS in the Middle East. That is what is at stake in the Syrian conflict today for the U.S.

    Russia is involved in the Syrian conflict to indeed try and end terrorism in the Middle East but mostly to gain a maritime base in the country. Russia has very recently given the order to retreat its soldiers in Syria. Iran has reacted to this by saying that even though it doesn't understand this retreat it is confident Russia can still react very quickly and fight against terrorism at any given time. This can make us think that these countries still have a positive relationship.

    Nicolas Rival

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  28. I am focusing on the threat that the growing influence of terrorism in Pakistan will have for the US and India.


    Pakistan is strategic for the US because
    → It is a capitalist country, and was an ally against Russia during the Cold War.
    → It is a key ally on the war against terror→ after 9/11 pressure by US lead Pakistan to lose support for Taliban and engage in anti-terrorism programs. They have captured more than 600 al-Quaida members and allies since then.
    → Pakistan is also one of the largest importers of US goods and US is the client of approximately 16% of Pakistani exports. (according to the United States Trade Representative)
    → the US has spent over 5 billion dollars on humanitarian aid and over 270 million dollars on military aid in Pakistan, it would be a terrible waste if all of this investment gave way to terrorism. Furthermore, there is always the risk of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons being in the hands of terrorists, hence US wants stability in Pakistan.
    → this week, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker, arrived in Islamabad to launch the first U.S.–Pakistan Economic Partnership Week ever to be held. Her visit is critical to boost trade and investment with Pakistan. She said:“It is in the United States’ interest for Pakistan to be a stable, peaceful, and tolerant nation, with a growing economy, at peace with itself and its neighbors.”

    The growing influence of the Taliban is a threat to India because:
    → There have been multiple terrorist attacks from Pakistan (the 2008 Mumbai attacks being the most known) the most recent being in January where militants attacked an air base.
    → Geographic proximity→ they’re neighbors…
    → Military history→ there have been multiple wars between these two countries over Kashmir, therefore political relations are tense. The recent execution of one of the terrorists who committed the 2008 attacks raised controversy in both countries and didn’t help diplomatic relations. These attacks have not been forgotten; this week itself, India inaugurated a memorial for all the deceased in the 2008 attacks. If Pakistan loses the war against terrorism, tensions between the two countries will mount.
    → After 4 years, Pakistan played cricket in India this week, which shows a wish for improvement in bilateral relations.

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  29. France is obviously strongly implicated in Salah Abdeslam’s capturing several days ago. Although he had been captured in Belgian territory, his acts were committed on French territory.

    Despite Belgium being a less powerful country than the listed, it is here essential to mention this country as both it and France are the most concerned countries. As the New York Times’ article says, the French prosecutor, Francois Molins, states that Abdeslam had planned on detonating a suicide vest in the Stade de France but had “backed out”. Didier Reynders, the deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister states that Mr.Abdeslam was planning on a similar attack in Belgium. The Huffington Post’s article specifies that Molins told Belgian forces to handle Abdeslam with care.


    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/21/world/europe/salah-abdeslam-paris-suspect-planned-to-restart-something-in-brussels-officials-say.html?_r=0

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/salah-abdeslam-charges_us_56ed8918e4b084c672206dc9

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  30. The rise of the Uighurs through ISIS
    Link between the Uighurs and ISIS: More and more Uighurs have been leaving to Syria; going through Turkey (numbers go from several hundred to thousands). China has not yet intervene in the Middle-East, but this passiveness is criticized from both inside and outside the country, potentially leading to a Chinese intervention soon (even if some sources say that military intervention from China will not be taking place in the near future).
    The US has been intervening in the Middle-East quite a bit.

    USA
    The United States has been involved in Syria since 2011, first by giving non-lethal aid, such as food, money, military training and military intelligence to rebel commanders. In 2014, the US stated official surveillance missions of ISIS (previously called IS, then ISIL. The same year they states to attack specific ISIS targets. The reasons for US intervention in Syria is debatable. Obama has stated that it is to protect the United States from any potential threat to the Nation. Some may argue that it is simply in order to assert US domination of the world’s political stage, showing that they are still one of the most important nations on Earth.
    China
    China has not done anything with regards to ISIS, or at least not yet. There are several reasons for this decision from Beijing. First of all, China does not have the military capacities to easily intervene, because they have no military base nor strong military or political ally in the region. Furthermore, China doesn’t have a real target for or reason for attacking ISIS besides trying to fight the Uighurs who have gone to Syria. However, the Uighurs are not only in Syria or in the Middle-East, and easier as well as more urgent/threatening targets are more important to the Chinese government (such as the constant threat of terrorism is China itself).
    Even if several elements encourage China to keep their passive position, other arguments push the government to act. ISIS has threatened China multiple times, and acting in the Middle-East would prove that China accepts its ‘international responsibility’ as a rising power. The debate is still open in China, whether it be between citizens or on the political level.

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  31. South China Sea
    Indonesia, one of the countries involved in the South China Sea conflict encountered conflict with China after a Chinese boat was caught fishing in Indonesian waters. Some area’s of Indonesia’s EEZ overlap with area’s claimed by China. By being involved in this conflict the Philippines hopes to keep it’s rightful ownership of parts of the South China Sea.
    In other news, US military presence in the South China Sea will increase because the Philippines has granted access to 5 military bases, this has been done because China is also increasing it’s military presence. The US hopes to maintain freedom of navigation in the area by joining this conflict.

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  32. Seeing as I was unable to find a second important country for this conflict and there is very little political action, I might have to change during this week- here I focused mainly on the United States.
    Nothing specific is happening between Mexico and the United States as of now; however it is to be noted that since American marijuana is much cheaper and of better quality, Mexican traffickers have retaliated by exporting more meth and cocaine. The United States are not actively fighting the drug cartels or taking any kind of action against them at the moment- literally nothing of great (political) importance is happening.

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