Saturday, April 2, 2016

Phase 4, week 4

This is it, folks; the last official blog entry for this project!

If you want to add an editorial concerning any reactions you have about the whole conflict, feel free to do so!

We'll have a debrief session on Tuesday, and I'll explain the final conference. Have fun in Caen!



    All southern Asian countries along the Mekong River are facing the same problems as Thailand: floods and drought. The natural flow of water in the Mekong (dry in summer for plants to grow, and full during monsoon to make provisions) has been modified. Indeed, China has set up dams near the Mekong’s source, or Lancang in Chinese. China was aloud to do so as, for them, the Mekong is not called an “international river” because it is not used as a border between two countries. However, after meetings, China noticed the ravages done. China, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Yunnan and Myanmar have agreed to get together as the Lancang-Mekong Corporation to make decisions for the good of their population. Therefore, last week, China finally agreed to share the data from its dams in order to help the south deal with the natural changes as they will now have the "missing information" of the water cycle.


    We had seen last week that the US was donating a bit less than $400M per year to Palestine, but they just proved that they are far from neutral. Out of the $370M given annually, $80M were cut out last October to try and make Palestine stop the stabbings of innocent Israelis. They said that those stabbings left “at least 10 Israeli civilians dead over the past three weeks”. The final count for October is 11 Israelis killed. However, the Palestinian death count the same month is of 74. If the US cut $80M of support from Israel for every 11 deaths, they would have cut $540M that same month.
    France does also have a military cooperation history with Israel. Israel is now believed to have nuclear weapons, which is sort of thanks to France. The two countries had started a nuclear program together, but once France had gone far enough, they decided to finish alone. The program had gone far enough so that Israel most likely created their own bomb.

  3. Iran/Russia Relations:

    We have seen last week that Russia and Iran want peace in Syria. This week this will of peace was accentuated by Iran’s foreign minister who said that if Syria isn’t held together there would be an ‘Armageddon’, or some sort of big conflict in the middle east. In other news, Al Assad is also saying that he will reward the countries that backed the government during the conflict that lasted over five years and cost a consequential amount of money.

    Mark FAGUER, 1ES4

  4. Ukraine

    After a meeting in Washington between Poroshenko and Vice President Joe Biden, a new package of 335$ million has been announced in security assistance for Ukraine. This financial aid from the United States is designed to “modernize Ukraine’s armed forces and border control capacity”, making it a military aid. Biden also mentioned a possible loan of 1$ billion through efforts of reform in Ukraine’s political system and economy, especially regarding the corruption issue.
    As for the European Union, 5 members are still opposed to Ukraine’s membership in the EU, says French diplomat Pierre Vimont. The French and Dutch are skeptical about Ukraine’s prospects inside the EU. The Netherlands will hold a referendum on a treaty between the EU and Ukraine on April 6 in which only Dutch nationals will be able to vote.

  5. Additional info on US-Egyptian relations :
    This alliance between the two countries has been questioned and is not believed to be as important as when it was created. With Egypt's struggling economic condition and with the concerns about governance and human rights the US has over Egypt ; the US is rethinking about their deals. The new government along with tensions and instability in Egypt makes it difficult for Egypt to keep everything in hand while trying to evolve and fight ISIS. Nevertheless, both countries benefit from this alliance therefore it will live on to see another day.

  6. China and Venezuela:
    Since the beginning of the year, Venezuela is struggling to pay back China with oil barrels. The fall of prices has raised the number of barrels needed. When oil was $100 a barrel, Venezuela had to give 280,000 barrels per day. However, since February, the country needs to give about 800,000 barrels per day. Therefore, this means that Venezuela will struggle if it needs to undertake similar transactions with other countries.

    China is strategically investing in Latin America in order to create dependence. In 2014, China loaned Latin America $10 billion while in 2015 it gave them $29 billion. While the U.S.’s influence has steadily retracted, China seizes the opportunity to create bonds with Latin America. On the other hand, China needs raw materials such as iron and oil. Venezuela is desperate for the investment and credit China provides. Finally, China, unlike the U.S., does not want to intervene in politics, therefore it won’t tell Maduro how to govern, which could have once again created tension in the country.

    Iran and Venezuela:

    I have mentioned in a previous essay that Venezuela has been starting a big project of reconstruction to provide new homes to Venezuelans. Iran has been helping out by opening a cement factory in Venezuela. The plant accounts for 12% of Venezuela’s cement production. It’s goal is to help Venezuela diversify its economy and free the country from dependence on oil. On the other hand, Iran does not seem to have built it for a particular goal, but rather to intensify its cooperation with Venezuela.

    US: AS I discovered last week, the US have been investing a lot against drugs in Afghanistan. According to the Business Insider (UK), 86 million dollars were spent on the developing of a counternarcotics surveillance aircraft for Afghanistan, but it remained entirely inoperable and sits in Delaware. The project is called as “ineffective” and “a waste of money”. The US seems to have had many other counternarcotics projects who were ineffective preceding this one. As we know, the country has an enormous heroin market, and increasingly more of it seems to be going to the “voracious US market”(so the government is interested in cutting off the trade, to prevent the spread of drug consumption in the US).
    Also, the US has donated 858 million dollars worth of real property to AFghanistan. Around 800 billion “has been allocated for the war in Afghanistan since 2001 and over 2,000 American lives lost”. This proves how intent the US are to ‘get rid of’ terrorist groups.

    INDIA: In Kabul, rockets were fired at the Afghanistan parliament, newly built with India’s assistance. The building was a project that was a mark of Afghan-Indian friendship.
    The Indian consulate in Jalalabad (Afg.) was struck by suicide bombers: it was the fourth attack since 2007. The militants were all killed, but there were 2 other deaths and no injured. The former Afghan President blamed Pakistan (the rival) for the attack.
    Peace talks were also planned this March (and seemed very ineffective) with the Taliban on one side, and China, the US, Afghanistan and Pakistan on the other. India was not part of the event, as the tensions with Pakistan are growing threateningly.

  8. The US are still in Afghnaistan for various reasons. One of the main justifications is that they must destroy terrorist infrastructure, training camps and get rid of ungoverned or so called "safe grounds" for them in order to prevent attacks on US soil such as the 9/11 ones.
    NATO, through its resolute support mission, pursues operations in Afghanistan to remove terrorist presence and allow the country to be safely governed.
    Although an increasing number of people believe the US and NATO should withdraw all troops from Afghanistan, the allied forces fear that completely leaving the country would lead to a similar situation to the one in 1990's.

  9. South China Sea
    The US is planning a third freedom of navigation patrol in early April of this year. They are planning to, once again, navigate a ship inside the 12 nautical mile limit of one of the South China Sea’s disputed islands. The US Navy officials have said that they plan to conduct more complex missions in the future. Experts predict that the next patrol might occur near an island claimed by the Philippines, which used to be submerged at high tide (meaning that it does not have a 12 nautical mile limit around it) until the Chinese started adding sand to the island in 2014. Barack Obama recently met with Chinese president, Xi Jingping at a nuclear summit in Washington, where the Chinese president clearly warned that China would not tolerate any actions that violate Chinese sovereignty in disguise of a freedom of navigation mission. The tensions have escalated since the beginning of this conflict; however there have been no agreements about who has rightful ownership of which islands. With the involvement of the US, if no agreement is made soon and if China continues it’s land-reclamation with no regard for the other South China Sea countries claims, this conflict could turn into a war between China and the United States.

  10. South China Sea:
    This week has been a bit more interesting in the South China Sea. The least important thing that happened in this conflict from the US's part is that Obama said openly that he wants China to resolve this problem peacefully. Not big news, I know. BUT US Navy sources have stated that they will be doing a third "Freedom of Navigation" in early April. The US did promise that they will be doing more of these types of missions. Informations are unclear on what, when, where, and who will be doing this mission. The only information we do know is that it will be carried out by a ship from the USS Stennis carrier strike group in early April. They are the only american navy force currently in that area so it's highly probable that the information on a ship from that strike force will be carrying out the mission. That's it for this week of news in the South China Sea.

  11. “Now, as has been true in the past, we will have a candid exchange about areas where we have significant differences — issues like human rights, cyber and maritime issues,” declared Obama during a meeting with president Xi Jinping last Thursday. Xi even declared that they should “explore possibilities of deepening cooperation”. Thus, some believe that the drastic situation in-between the two countries can still be saved. However, the need for a new meeting proves that last year's meeting was clearly unsuccessful, and some think that, although this meeting, as the last, offered no actual solution to the problem at hand, it went in a better direction than the previous one, and one can hope for an agreement in-between the two countries relatively soon.

    Anonymous tried to reboot their anti-Trump campaign, given how much of a disaster it was, with a clear separation of the organization occurring instead of a war on Trump. Therefore, Anonymous sent out for an all-out war on Trump on April 1, calling for everyone to take down Trump's websites in a coordinated effort. The pro-Trump half of Anonymous criticized this initiative, but the other half carried on with the plan. However, on April first, many of Trump's sites were still standing., and the pro-Trump movement was still just as strong. Around April fools day, the leader of the pro-Trump movement declared that the attacks on April Fool's Day were just a ruse for publicity. He declares: "It's only purpose was to gain attention, which this Operation needs. ... the point of this Operation is not to attack Donald Trump. Instead, it is going to try to give citizens some insight." However, some hackers amidst Anonymous publicly declared they were not of that opinion. When some people viewed one of the Anonymous chat rooms, it was a total mess, with almost no actual debate, and mostly just child-like spam.
    There was, however, some noticeable impact on some Trump websites, for instance, the website is currently down. But, even though Anonymous may be able to bring down some of Trump's websites, these websites may very well be accessible in a couple days, and Anonymous seems to have had very little impact so far. "These DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks are not particularly sophisticated cyber attacks," CloudFlare CEO Matthew Prince said. "They are sort of the functional equivalent of a caveman with a club." Additionally, the arrest of the people responsible for attempting to hack Trump’s accounts and telephone information has been sent out. Whether this operation is a total disaster so far did not seem to bother Beemse, leader of the pro-Trump Anonymous movement, as he declares at the end of his video: "This is NOT the last time you hear of this operation. We will be watching, and will act when the time is right."

    Quentin Siart

  12. On March 30, 2016, Secretary of State John Kerry made a speech at a US-Nigeria Binational Commission describing the aids which the US is willing to provide in many domains. For example, the US is helping with a development assistance of 600 million dollars, working with the leaders of the health ministry, putting into place a Power Africa Initiative (to strengthen the energy sector) as well as Feed the Future (a long-term food security program for better agriculture and better incomes), and assistance in education (fighting illiteracy especially in the north of Nigeria where Boko Haram disrupted it).

    An example of the UK’s aid in Nigeria is through the organization named HART (Humanitarian aid relief trust) which funded the accommodation of male students in the Christian Institute of Jos, which is an educational establishment that provides healthcare, residential accommodation, theology, communications and computing. The emplacement of the institute in Jos, capital Plateau State in Nigeria’s central belt, is important in this area because it is where inter-religious violence has taken place the last few years.

  13. Libyan conflict- Gabriel Naginski

    The European Union has imposed sanctions on three potent Libyan politicians who opposed the installation of a UN-backed government. As I have stated previously, since 2014 Libya has two large governments, one in Tripoli backed by powerful armies and the other in the city of Tobruk. The EU is desperately establish a stable government facing the growing Islamic State in the Northern part of the country. The fact that the EU is setting these sanctions shows the tension and desperation of the situation in Libya. The EU has openly admitted that the war in Libya was not strategically and politically well thought out, which I think is a good thing. The fact that the EU is now trying to sort this mess out that they partly created is a positive sign for foreign policy within western governments.

    The US’s last attempt to create a unified government in Libya was a sea landing by the U.S./U.N-made “unity government” in the capital city of Tripoli. Instead of creating a unified governenment the arrival at sea, according to threatened to bring more chaos and war by seeking to muscle aside two rival governments. Libya will not accept a third government, the trick will be two find an agreement between the GNC and the Tobruks. Imposing sanctions like the EU seems to be a more logical and powerful solution to this dilemma.

    I have enjoyed following the Libyan conflict. Seeking information, learning how to distinguish a source that is Trustworthy and dishonest, hearing different points of views, finding the root cause of a turbulent situation, these are all things a journalist must learn to do in order to be efficient at his job.

  14. Syria:

    The US and Russia have two main goals to achieve each: the US wants to get Al-Assad away from the government in order to have a new economic partner and they want to get rid of ISIS. Russia wants to maintain Al-Assad in charge of Syria so that they get a warm water naval base and they also want to eradicate ISIS(and all other opposition to Assad). Both countries have one way to achieve their goals and that is, unfortunately, by war. Let's face it, war is good for economy. The US have been selling weapons to the rebels and Kurds and Russia has sold several planes to the Syrian army while engaging discussions about weaponry with other countries(they could be making 6$billion if the deal is maintained). They sell weapons but both powers are bombing ISIS(and rebels). Their goals are very distinct but common at the same time. They both need a new economic partner, but want to attain that objective in different ways.
    In the past week interesting events have happened. For example, Russia accused Turkey of being the main suppliers of ISIS: "The main supplier of weapons and military equipment to ISIL fighters is Turkey, which is doing so through non-governmental organizations,"(DW website We can relate this to quasi propaganda since, after the Russian plane incident, relations in between Russia and Turkey have seized.
    Finally, the US thinks that sending special forces into Syria would help the rebels fight against ISIS and improve the situation there: "The U.S. administration is considering a plan to greatly increase the number of American special operations forces deployed to Syria as it looks to accelerate recent gains against Islamic State"(reuters

  15. This week the face of the Yemen conflict has changed importantly. According to the Huffington Post, the two main actors of the conflict have finally come to an agreement. On April 1st, the newspaper affirmed that Saudi Arabia and the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have agreed to a cease-fire apparently starting on April 10th. If this information is correct, the end of the war could possibly be approaching.

    Lucas Tournier


    What does the US and Russia’s investment consist of:

    USA: - peace talks through UN, with examples such as: Geneva talks
    -militarily in an indirect way by helping Free Syrian Army, so also on the ground with programs to arm and train Syrian rebels to government
    -through media, talked about on a scale of 1 to 10 (personal grading): 6

    Russia: -peace talks with the UN, also participating in Geneva conferences for example
    -very (most) strong military presence in Syria, supporting Al Assad; recently moved out… but a certain part of equipment and bases still remain
    -through media, talked about 9 → vastly mentioned

    Personal Wrap-up: It seems funny to write a personal note about an international conflict, as if my thoughts were somewhat important compared to Obama’s, Putin’s, Ban ki Moon’s, or a newspaper’s. I’ve grown emotionally attached to this conflict, and I follow the majority of the interventions from all sides through different newspapers, and apps, especially the Syria News that broadcast news flashes from all newspaper agencies instantly on my IPhone. It must be rare for a student to enjoy doing homework, but this was a weekly assignment that I looked forward to because I find it incredibly fun to do detective work, to stuff my nose in weird jihadist websites because I was given the opportunity to be curious for homework- the liberty of learning about something that matters right now for our world! That was a gratifying experience as a student honestly, and I wish that we would continue with this until the end of the year. For the Syrian conflict, what will happen? Being an idealistic teenager with a Western background, I would want the power to be given to all, the women, the men, the Syrian people. How that should be done is a complicated matter because we foreign countries tend to strongly impose our view on other nations, and I believe Syrian people should be the ones choosing. This opinion has been used as a political argument, and not for what I consider to be the best side… How close is the Syrian conflict to be over internationally I also don't know, or can't seem to come to a concluding thought.

    This week, the US have renewed their commitment to help Nigeria stop and defeat Boko Haram. They also agreed to increase their investment but only under certain conditions which are enhanced business climate, policy predictability, and transparency. By this generous act we can now see the US motivations, and how they will achieve their goal of having a important influence on Nigeria. As for the African countries, they met in Yaounde, Cameroon where they discussed special security measures. The forum also evaluated military strategy, self criticism, adjustment and remobilisation.

  18. A massive leak of secret files from a Panamanian law firm that specialises in offshore tax havens has revealed the often-murky financial wheelings and dealings of some of the world’s most powerful political players, such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin, the king of Saudi Arabia, Iceland’s prime minister and the family of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, among dozens of others.
    Returning to the bombings last week, not much action has been taken since then.

  19. North Korean conflict

    President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping met last Thursday and both agreed for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons. China agreed to implement in full the latest economic restrictions imposed by the UN Security Council, earlier this month, against Pyongyang, to which NK defied China: Kim Jong-un labelled China as a 'detested enemy' and launched a short-range missile a few hours later. The US and China asserted the need to 'vigilantly enforce the strong UN security measures' and agreed that the sanctions should be “fully and strictly” carried out. As North Korea’s nuclear weapons threaten the security and stability of the region and violate international obligations, the presidents pledged to cooperate in order to confront and deter further nuclear missile tests that escalate tensions. However, the US doubts on how far China will go to exert pressure on NK, given China's concerns about fuelling instability on its borders. Thus, the US called on China to do more to encourage the North to halt its nuclear programme. Along with the US, South Korea and Japan vowed to increase pressure on NK.

    PERSONAL: North Korea, being one of the few most isolated countries in the world, always appeared as mysterious and intriguing to me. This weekly project enabled me to focus on this country’s conflict, which I would’ve never done so intently otherwise, and comprehend it fully: the belligerents, their motivations, their point of views, their intentions… The conflict has been getting very active and tense since the beginning of 2016 (H-bomb test, satellite launch) and it is advancing rapidly, as China is turning against North Korea by accepting to implement UN’s economic restrictions on NK and cooperating with the US. Once this project ends, I will still be following the dangerous progress of this conflict, as I am now aware of the conflict’s history and each country’s aim today.

  20. Terrorism on the US soil:

    US and France:

    The French and American defense forces have not always had a close relationship. In fact, in 2003, when the Bush administration decided to attack Iraq, French was fiercely criticized by Americans. However, in recent years Americans have considered France the most reliable military ally. Their small successful operations, in Mali in 2013 and Central African Republic in 2007, has led France to win a certain respect from the US political and military groups. After the deadly Paris attacks in November, Hollande declared : "We share the same trust in freedom," while talking about the relationship between the U.S and France. In addition to their cooperation with the European Union, both the US and France need a strengthened cooperation between each-other to fight terrorism. Although France is America’s “oldest ally, there has always been tensions as to intelligence sharing. However, there has been a neat progress concerning these two countries as to information-sharing, tackling the sources of funding of terrorism and initiatives taken to improve the passengers’ security when traveling from country to the other. The Paris attacks, were thus a new opportunity to renew and strengthen the partnership between these two Western countries both threatened by the same growing conflict: terrorism.


  21. AQAP// Yemen Civil War
    By what methods is (Saudi Arabia) trying to achieve these goals?
    In order to subdue the Houthi rebels in Yemen, Saudi Arabian military intervention has intensified mostly in the form of frequent and indiscriminative air raids, however also consisting of some naval blockades and a small number of ground troops. Ultimately the intervention has led to few successes all the while leading to over 2500 casualties since its involvement in late 2015.


    I want to add something on how the US is trying to achieve its goals of “ameliorating the situation” while keeping her authority nice and obvious in the region. According to an article from The Diplomat, a country has three ways to maintain or affirm power in her advantage: “buck passing", internal balancing and external balancing. Buck-passing is basically how a country would “pass” her power to another regional power. However, apparently there isn’t any country that’s as powerful as the US in the East China Sea region. Internal balancing means how the US would have to reinforce her economy as well as her concrete military force. But, since the US is a power that has many international interests, she can’t afford to consecrate a big part of her military force in only this conflict region. In addition, she can’t afford weakening herself by spreading security commands everywhere. Finally, it leaves the US with only one last choice, external balancing, which makes reference to collaboration with other countries. That’s why the US have been making so many efforts on diplomatic ties, and why she is depicted as a “mediator”. Nevertheless, her actions are still quite nuanced. In the East China Sea she is definitely helping Japan, but on the other side, in order to make it more difficult for China to establish diplomatic ties with Middle Eastern countries, the US secretly supported terrorists, rebels and other militant groups in Iraq, Syria and Libya. In this case, the regions in the Middle East would be too unstable and insecure for China to create economic or defense ties. This seems portray things on a global level, but it still explains the strategies used in the East China Sea.

  23. It has recently been explained why the US considers Al-Shabaab a threat. Some time ago, an American citizen committed a suicide bombing in northern Somalia. According to the FBI director, that man was the first American to do so. Furthermore, American involvement seems to include more than bombing training camps, they have also confirmed the killing of several important figures in the terrorist cell.