Weekly Round Up for 5 – 11 February

 

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Arctic Thaw


Who?   China, Russia and USA

What?  Vying for influence and resources

Where?   Arctic Circle

Why is it important, relevant, worth consideration or keeping an eye on?

Due to the current trend in global weather systems, more and more of the Polar ice cap in the Arctic is receding. Although the United States is scrambling to catch up to the Russian activity in the arctic, the most recent party to throw its weight around in the region is China. The Chinese are determined to have a place at the table in what has the potential to be an extremely profitable source for precious metals, minerals and fuels. Despite the trend of less ice as well as increased commercial and military activity there, the region remains cold, icy and hazardous.

A well written article on more of the intricacies of the topic by Clay Dillow for CNBC can be found here:
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/06/russia-and-china-battle-us-in-race-to-control-arctic.html

 

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Corsica, A French Catalonia?


Who?   France, the Island of Corsica

What?  Friction between the Corsican Nationalists and French President Emmanuel Macron on issues of potential autonomy of Corsica

Where?  Mainland France

Why is it important, relevant, worth consideration or keeping an eye on?

Following the independence votes in Catalonia in 2017, nationalist leaders on the French Island of Corsica are demanding more autonomy. People have taken to the streets for the right of independence. Other demands, included making the Corsican language an official language, have been rebuffed by Macron. This situation if handled poorly, could see Corsica separating from France.

More Information on what was demanded, Corsica’s contribution to the French Republic and Macron’s response, here is a great general summary from Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-corsica-macron/macron-backs-corsica-mention-in-french-constitution-rejects-other-demands-idUSKBN1FR2F9

 

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Next Proxy War?


Who?   Israel and Iran in Syria

What?  Destruction of Syrian drone that had flown into Israeli air space
               Destruction of drone operating facility in Syria

               Israeli Jet shot down on return flight to Israel after bombing raid in Syria

Where?  Hadruf, Israel and Syria

Why is it important, relevant, worth consideration or keeping an eye on?

The Destruction of an Israeli F-16 jet comes as a watershed for relations in the region. Israel has long maintained air superiority in the region. Both sides have varying accounts of the events. And both claim that they are not looking to escalate the situation.
However, with rising tensions in and around Syria and an increasing number of actors that are looking to influence any sort of peace or stability with the situation in Syria, it is not improbable that one wrong move could escalate the region into a proxy war between Israel and Iran in Syria.

For fuller read, find the Reuters article by Maayan Lubell and Lisa Barrington:
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-iran/israeli-jet-shot-down-after-bombing-iranian-site-in-syria-idUSKBN1FU07L

Side Note 

The Actors at play on the Syrian Stage:

Syria: Weakened and reliant upon Russian support.

Iran: Funding Shiite groups in the region including Hamas and Hezbollah. At odds with pro Sunni Saudi Arabia.

Russia: On good terms with Syria, Iran and Israel. Against supporting most rebel/terrorist groups.

Turkey: Not on speaking terms with Syria. Has a unique but mostly friendship with Russia. Is technically a NATO ally but at odds with the US about the question of Kurdish ethnic groups in Northern Syria.

Israel: Is at odds with all of its neighbors. Staunchly committed to stopping terrorism coming from Hamas and Hezbollah.

Kurdish Groups: Still seeking to carve out a nation state of their own in Southern and Eastern Turkey as well as Northern Syria and Iraq. Have been instrumental in the fight against Daesh (ISIL)

Islamist Groups: Most notably Tahrir al-Sham [Formerly known as Jahbat al-Nusra], (the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda and Salafist Sunnis) who downed the Russian Su-25 over Idlib province on the 3rd of February this year.


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