sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

There is Silver in Them Thar Hills

There clearly is, but there isn't any at the White Wolf Mine...not yet. That being the case, I traded the Federal Reserve Note silver equivalent for a new clothes dryer. The big box stores do not deliver their big box wares to the White Wolf Mine, irrespective of silver, so you need to load the equipment (or a 'durable good', such as a dryer) onto your trailer and haul it in. We don't use mules anymore, not even on Arizona's Mogollon Rim. Freight it in yourself.

So while I am busy trying to keep my business alive and healthy (adding staff this month) and at the same time, am moving, hauling, twisting my knee, banging my fingers, etc. there are other things going on in the world, and I, your faithful scribe, am here to give you my spin on various hotspots.

Turkey-US-Syria

Ottoman Turkish Sultan Erdogan snubbed US National Security Adviser Bolton. On 8 January, Ambassador Bolton held talks in Ankara with Turkish presidential adviser Ibrahim Kalin and other officials for roughly two hours on the US plans for withdrawal from Syria. Kalin said the US should transfer to Turkey the 22 US installations in Syria or should destroy them so the Syrian Kurds can’t use them.

Based on the substance of those talks, a joint press conference was canceled and Bolton departed without meeting Erdogan. A US spokesman described the talks as productive, but that is not how the Turks described them. After Bolton’s talks with Kalin, President Erdogan addressed legislators from his ruling Justice and Development Party.
Erdogan said that Bolton had made a “serious mistake” in insisting on a new condition for the US withdrawal from Syria. The new condition is that Turkey must agree to not attack the Syrian Kurds. 
Erdogan said that Turkey could never compromise on the issue of the People’s Protection/Defense Units (YPG), the Syrian Kurdish militia. “Those involved in a terror corridor [in Syria] will receive the necessary punishment."  
In his speech, Erdogan also criticized Bolton over comments suggesting the US would prevent attacks on Kurds. He suggested that officials within the US administration might be trying to obstruct a “clear agreement” that he and President Trump reached during a December 2018 telephone conversation, that Turkey pledged to take on the fight against remaining ISIL fighters when US troops withdraw from Syria.
Bolton’s message was delivered two days after Erdogan published his grand strategy for peace in Syria in the New York Times. The change in US plans for withdrawing soldiers and the timing of Bolton’s visit embarrassed Erdogan. Cry me a river...

At the same time, Russian, Syrian, Iranian and US officials might have the same reactions to Turkish words and actions. Erdogan’s master plan for Syria was not coordinated with the Syrians or the Russians.

Syria and Russia repeatedly have called on Turkey to withdraw its forces from Syria. They have denounced the Turkish deployments as uninvited and illegal, but Erdogan has refused. He indulges the illusion that Turks would be accepted as peacemakers in Arab disputes. He persists in thinking he has answers to regional problems.

Syria

In Syria, it's very difficult to tell the players without a program. And a new program needs to be printed daily for accurate information, friend or foe (IFF). It's save to presume that they're all foes of any Western people in that place.

The pro-al Qaida jihadists are routing the Turkish proxies in Idlib. Turkey-backed groups reported that the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) has opened a new front in southern Idlib, according to multiple news outlets.

HTS is the strongest and most extreme group in the Idlib pocket. It is a coalition of jihadists whose core is the al Nusra Front, which was the al-Qaida franchise in Syria. 

The Russians and the Syrians are preparing for a difficult campaign against the Turks, probably this year. I would ask Americans who oppose our withdrawal from our position in Syria if they really want us to be part of THAT?

Nigeria

One of my former clients was Hunt Food Co. They've since sold out to a Brazilian company. I landed the gig because former US Secretary of State John Kerry recommended me. I'm no friend of Swiftboat John, but he didn't have anything directly to do with Hunt and his wife had a minority share at that point. They asked him, he asked around, and I ended up with the work. At that time, Hunt was expanding in Nigeria. I told them that it was a mistake, but they were engaging in social justice. Whatever. We put boots on the ground to save their employees.

I know that Nigeria pumps oil. All that activity takes place along the coast and has adequate protection. Hunt wanted to put factories in the interior to make food for native consumption. Boko Haram is a problem in Nigeria. Nigerian President Buhari accepted responsibility for the revival of Boko Haram earlier this week. 

Attacks by separate Boko Haram groups. On 7 January, fighters loyal to factional leader Abubakar Shekau attacked Sajeri village on the outskirts of Maiduguri, killing three people. On the same day, fighters affiliated with the Islamic State West African Province-backed Boko Haram faction attacked a military facility in Auno, some 23 kilometers (15 miles) from the city. 

Nigeria’s security problems in the northeast are complicated by the split in Boko Haram. Shekau’s faction is the original group. It continues to attack civilians, usually centers for displaced persons, and to use children for suicide attacks.

The other faction is led by Abu Musab al-Barnawi. Barnawi’s group broke away from Shekau in 2016 over Shekau’s indiscriminate targeting of civilians. Barnawi’s group targets police, military facilities and 'Western Infidels'. It is affiliated with the Islamic State and calls itself the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP). Frankly, you need to print a program of players every day in Nigeria as well because of the ebb and flow of regional actors that are in Nigeria. There is significant cause and effect. I recommend that if you have a choice in vacation destinations that you DO NOT choose Nigeria, or Syria.