sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Friday, January 29, 2016

Friday Review

REPUBLICAN  DEBATE  THOUGHTS

It feels as if this debate last night was debate number 100 for the Republicans, on the eve of the Iowa Caucus.  It's a broken record as the media flogs the business for ratings.

There was a lot of ego on that stage.  But it bored me. The news wasn't who was up there, but who was not. Let me first say that I think that Donald Trump had a legitimate complaint about the bias against him by a debate moderator. Fox should have taken that obvious bias into account before they arranged the moderator line-up but they didn't. Up to them/business decision. Trump boycotted and it won't hurt him.

The only times I've heard Ted Cruz speak, it sounded as he was delivering a sermon in a cathedral. Trump speaks to people directly and that's why he's ahead. Rubio (who may end up as Trump's VP) still looks like a young boy scout. He debates well but he looks a lot like a little boy and it hurts him.  I didn't watch the whole debate (see 'boring' above), but Jeb! did better than he usually does without Trump to slap him like an unwanted step-child.

Trumps absence at the debate made sense to me. The move had been calculated. He had nothing to gain from attending and everything to lose.


THE  OLD  BOOT vs SANDERS

Possible new Bernie Sanders logo.
American College students don't grasp
the significance - then again many
can't sign their own names.





There are discussions reported in the mainstream media wherein President Obama and others in the present administration are cozying up to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). It's difficult to know whether that is true, but it would make sense that President Obama would want somebody to carry on his legacy once he's left office. He's been jonesing for jobs: UN Secretary General and Supreme Court Justice so that he can continue to inflict pain once he's been made redundant. With the potential indictment of fmr SECSTATE Hillary (The Old Boot) Clinton, it may be someone other than she who would carry the Obama banner forward, trumpeting the glory that is the ObamaNation.

Or maybe not? It's difficult to tell what will happen this election cycle.


TURKEY vs THE KURDS

The Turkish government said Turkey would boycott the Geneva III peace talks on Syria if the Syrian Kurds have representation. The Russian Foreign Ministry admitted to confusion about the Turkish boycott threat because the Turks are not a party to the talks. "I don't understand. Ankara is not a party to the talks like Moscow, Washington and Riyadh. Ankara has nothing to do with it," the Russian special president's representative and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said in an interview.
Digging down, and placing it in the vernacular, Turkey refuses to crash the party. Thanks, Turkey, I guess.
The implication of the Turkish threat is that even if the Syrians, including the Kurds, can agree on a ceasefire or the terms of a settlement, Turkey would not respect it.

President Erdogan has vowed to exterminate the Kurdish insurgency and the Kurds in general at a time the UN talks would be giving Syrian Kurds both stature and respectability because of their battlefield effectiveness against the Islamic State. The Russians and Americans like the Kurds. The Turks do not. It's an old grudge that has only become sharpened with time.

Kurdish Intentions

The Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia and its local allies are planning an offensive to seize the final stretch of the Syrian-Turkish border that is held by Islamic State fighters, an unidentified YPG source on 28 January. The plan includes crossing the Euphrates River to attack the Islamic State-held towns of Jarabulus and Manbij, plus Azaz, which is held by other insurgent groups. I don't know when this will take place, but expect the move sooner than later.

With US and reportedly some Russian air support, the Syrian Kurds and their allies have taken control of the Syrian side of the border from Iraq to the east bank of the Euphrates River. The distance from the Euphrates River to Azaz is about 100 kms. The fighting would be hard. Russian and US air forces might need to coordinate air support operations. If so, it would show a lot of common sense on the part of both Russia and the US. There is a common enemy in ISIS, and the Turks support them.

If this offensive is successful, the Syrian Kurds could link up with the Syrian Arab Army which has been sealing the border north and east of Latakia. The Islamic State would have no major line of communications from Turkey.

This move by the Kurds (supported by both the US and Russia) is certain to provoke a Turkish response. So is the Iraqi Kurds’ trial balloon about holding an independence referendum by November.

Turkish President Erdogan and other Turkish leaders have said that Kurdish expansion west of the Euphrates River is a “red line.” They did not say what Turkey’s response would be, but Erdogan’s plan to establish a safe zone near Jarabulus appears likely to be overtaken by events. Russia has an axe to grind and if the US helps them grind it, Turkey is put in a very difficult vice.



DATELINE  DENMARK

A 17-year-old girl who was physically and sexually attacked in Sønderborg will herself face charges for using pepper spray to fend off her assailant.
The teenager told police that she was attacked in central Sønderborg on Wednesday at around 10pm by a dark-skinned English-speaking man, believed to be a refugee newly relocated from Syria. She said the man knocked her to the ground and then unbuttoned her pants and attempted to undress her.
The girl was able to save herself from further assault by using pepper spray on the attacker, but now she may be the one who ends up in legal trouble. 
“It is illegal to possess and use pepper spray, so she will likely be charged for that,” local police spokesman Knud Kirsten told TV Syd. 
The case has sparked a backlash among some Danes who point to increasing reports of sexual harassment in Sønderborg and other Danish cities at the same time that police say they are stretched too thin to properly carry out their duties
Numerous readers wrote in the comments section on TV Syd’s story about the incident that they would be willing to pay the girl’s fine, which will most likely be 500 kroner (about US$85.00) 
The Muslim man who attacked the 17-year-old fled from the scene and has not been charged.

TAIWAN  FLEXING  MUSCLE?

The Republic of China's (Taiwan) newly elected, President Ma Ying-jeou, has announced a planned trip to Itu Aba Island in the Spratly Islands.  You will recall that the OTHER China has been busily building their own islands on top of what were previously 'reefs' and then building air strips on those islands for the purpose of flexing military muscle and claiming the Spratly Island chain (and the oil under it) for the People's Republic of China (Beijing).

The People's Republic of China's reaction goes like this: "extremely unhelpful" and won't do anything to resolve disputes. “We are disappointed that President Ma Ying-jeou plans to travel to Taiping Island (Itu Aba)."
Ma's office announced that he would fly to Itu Aba yesterday, on Thursday, the 28th, to offer (Chinese) Lunar New Year wishes to residents on the island and usher in the "Year of the Monkey" in style. A coast guard unit from Taiwan and environmental scientists live on Itu Aba.
Itu Aba is the only island in the Spratlys that has  proved to be an economic resource – guano. 

Vietnam and the Philippines also claim the 110-acre island, but Chinese nationalists have maintained a permanent presence since the end of World War II.

The (communist) People's Republic of China claims the (nationalist) Republic of China's island, Itu Aba as part of their "One China Policy". The Republic of China in Taiwan doesn't see it that way, and by all accounts, has the only legitimate claim to any of the "Chinese" Spratley Islands in the region based on continuous occupation and economic use.