Assad’s regime has shown no compunction in using nerve agents when its survival is at stake, but otherwise it mostly keeps chemical weapons as a hip-pocket emergency reserve that can be rapidly deployed when manpower is short. The May Government’s hamfistedness is such that at Year End, many pundits are saying that the public have forgotten the incompetence of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and predict that against all odds, his missus could soon be measuring up for curtains in Number Ten. In fact, the town has been heavily attacked by regime forces (including earlier attacks with chemical weapons late last year and again last month) and subjected to multiple air strikes and artillery bombardments as the regime tries to contain the threat to its northern flank. Fear of other groups, encroachment of those groups into one’s territory and collapse of confidence in government’s ability to impartially keep the peace are the key factors that provoke communal violence. âOn the one hand they can be engaging in what they consider to be absolute war and we are blithely unaware of that - so that by the time we realise we â¦ For other posts on world politics in In That Howling Infinite, including several articles by David Kilcullen, see: Political World – thoughts and themes. It also highlighted the complex choices facing the US, allies such as Australia, regional players like Turkey and Iraq, and institutions such as the UN. If Trump is re-elected, mass protests are a given, while factions within the militant left might undertake what they term “direct action”. Trump’s alleged Russia ties, praise for strongmen, positive statements about Assad until days before the attack, and expressed disdain for world opinion set the bar so low that he got credit just for upholding an international norm against chemical weapons, and showing he was prepared to go up against Moscow. Assad’s regime, far from being blind to international condemnation, understands the severe political consequences of using chemical weapons, and only does so when its back is against the wall. All this means that — after 18 years in which everybody wanted to end the war, but everybody also wanted some other objective even more and was willing to continue the war rather than risk that other goal — things might finally be changing for Afghanistan. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. As the year draws to a close, our adversary has withdrawn for the long, hot summer, but will return in 2018, and the struggle will continue – as it will throughout the state and indeed the nation as timber, coal and gas corporations, empowered by legislation, trash the common treasury with the assent of our many governments. This isn’t as far-fetched as it seems. That was the year that was – a year of living dangerously. Lenin called moments like this a “revolutionary situation”. These have been consistent Taliban demands since December 2009, when (as part of the headquarters team in Kabul) I met insurgent leaders who asked for the same deal in almost the same words. Seeing Through the Eyes of the Other publishes a column by indomitable ninety-four year old Israeli writer and activist Uri Avnery, a reminder that the world looks different from the other side of the wire. In our Land Down Under, we endured the longest, most boring election campaign in living memory, and got more of the same: a lacklustre Tory government, and a depressingly dysfunctional and adversarial political system. Unsurprisingly, doing exactly that has become a major priority for Assad. Fear of other groups, encroachment of those groups into one’s territory and collapse of confidence in government’s ability to impartially keep the peace are the key factors that provoke communal violence. Africa, where efforts to work through regional coalitions against terrorists are already well advanced, naturally lends itself to this strategy, which could be further enhanced through France and its G5 Sahel regional coalition, which is already operating against Islamic State in northwest Africa. Co-operation between Saudi and Israeli forces (even tacit) would be highly controversial within Saudi Arabia and could prompt sharply increased internal unrest. The worldwide reaction to the death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer has all the hallmarks of one of those momentous weeks. Thus, far from being a purely right-wing phenomenon, rifts within US society that are most stressed by the coronavirus — urban versus rural interests, racial and class tensions, state overreach versus anti-government militancy, far left against alt-right, “collectivist” coastal elites versus rugged individualists in “flyover country” – align with pre-existing grievances. In the end 200,000 people were killed, two million were displaced and the Colombian Army — after initially staying out of the conflict — eventually stepped in to end the violence, seizing control in a coup in 1953. Independent thinking, unique experiences and powerful networks â our members achieve more together. Military Adaptation in Action, Sir Antony Beevor [Land Warfare Conference 2016] Future Combined Arms Operations, Dr David Kilcullen [Land Warfare Conference 2017] Open to Invite Only Subscribe to our Newsletter. But far from a fringe issue of neo-Nazi nut cases, the pandemic has made the risk of violence in 2020 far more widespread, larger in scale and more militarily serious than we might imagine. Even as the regime recaptured Aleppo in December 2016 — with heavy support from Russian airstrikes, Russian special forces, Iranian advisers and Hezbollah militia — Nusra and other groups formed an alliance, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, to recapture ground from Assad’s forces. Membership surged after the 2008 financial crisis, then accelerated as thugs from both political extremes fought each other with baseball bats, bicycle chains and pepper spray in the streets of Washington, DC, Seattle, Portland and Detroit. Of course, for the Afghan military and police — which have lost 45,000 killed since September 2014, compared with the coalition’s 72 — the war is far from sustainable, and its impact on civilians is both horrific and increasing. All the effort since then has been about rebuilding Afghanistan, and that effort is founded on two assumptions: that leaving without first standing up a stable pro-Western government would trigger a Taliban return, and that a Taliban return would mean terrorist attacks emanating from Afghanistan. To succeed, the offshore power does not need to control a region itself, merely to prevent a rival doing so. This, in fact, was the argument that allied airpower experts made at the time, likening the situation to the NATO-led bombing in the Balkans that ended the Bosnian war, led to the Dayton Accords and halted massacres in Kosovo in 1999. Starting as rioting in Bogota — driven by pre-existing urban-rural, left-right, class and racial divisions — violence spread to the countryside as the two main political parties, the Colombian Liberal Party and the Conservative Party, mobilised rural supporters to attack each other’s communities. As a Christmas treat, we reblogged English music chronicler Thom Hickey’s lovely look at the old English carol The Holly and the Ivy, And finally, for the last post of this eventful year, we selected five christmas Songs to keep the cold winter away. Click on the picture below to read the New York Times’ commentary on the negotiations. Any departure from the Taliban’s barbaric version of Islam, such as dancing or shaving or educating girls, could earn floggings, imprisonment or even death. Dr. David Kilcullen is a former soldier and diplomat, and a scholar of guerrilla warfare, terrorism, urbanisation and the future of conflict, who served 25 years for the Australian and United States governments. Given his generally mercurial approach to foreign policy and the fact that he has indeed ordered strikes in Syria and raids in Yemen and Africa, this threat is probably credible enough to give the Taliban pause — and, more importantly, reassure some in Kabul. Poetry offerings included the reblog of Liverpudlian Gerry Cordon’s selection of poetry on the theme of “undefeated despair”: In the dark times, will there also be singing? Predicatively, such outbursts of outage, where peaceful protests are often accompanied by mayhem and wanton destruction, are a magnet for opportunists of all persuasions. Likewise, independent-minded UN ambassador Nikki Haley will need to collaborate more closely with the State Department and the White House than she has done to date. Nusra detests Islamic State (a feeling Abubakr al-Baghdadi’s organisation heartily reciprocates). A cynic might say that one reason the war has dragged on so long is that most sides have been achieving their objectives by letting it continue. Vladimir Lenin once remarked that “there are decades where nothing happens and there are weeks when decades happen”. The group’s leader, until recently known by his nom de guerre “Norman Spear”, was unmasked in January as Rinaldo Nazzaro, a New Jersey native based in St Petersburg, Russia, from where he directed cells in Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey. The reason for this change might partly be the new, tougher line on Pakistan adopted by the Trump administration, or a policy shift by the civilian administration in Islamabad. This was bad policy: not just on moral or political grounds (Assad has killed 10 times as many Syrians as Islamic State, and most US partners both inside Syria and throughout the region see removing Assad and ending the war as the top priority bar none) but also in practical military terms. In essence, he argues, three new factors are driving the latest set of developments. and a cavalcade of well cast, well-written and original characters. There could be a surge in fighting, as warlords once again reassert their influence and as ISIS and al Qaeda take advantage of the situation. There was Laugh Out Loud – The Funniest Books Ever. Today, far-left and far-right groups operate within close striking distance of each other in several border states and in “contested zones” including the Pacific Northwest, parts of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the Carolinas. But its reach has extended to the streets of Western Europe – dominating headlines and filling social media with colourful profile pictures and “I am (insert latest outrage)” slogans. But there is a third wave coming: the possibility of armed conflict towards the end of this year, when the combined health and economic impacts of the crisis will peak amid the most violently contested presidential election in memory. Maritime powers (including Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the US for much of its history until 1945) historically used offshore balancing to counter land-based rivals while lowering their own costs and avoiding decisive commitment. In the wake of Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster movie, Deconstructing Dunkirk looked at the myths surrounding the famous evacuation. On Australia’s part, after peaking during 2010-11 with reconstruction and stabilization forces in Oruzgan province and a special operations task group that achieved widespread respect for its professionalism, our commitment now stands at about 300 personnel. It’s a revolutionist’s dream. On politics generally, we couldn’t get through the year without featuring Donald Trump. Hopefully, as with many of Trump’s isolationist initiatives, like climate change, trade, and Iran, less immoderate nations will take no notice and carry on regardless. How will declining America make itself “great again” in a multipolar world set to be dominated by Russia Redux and resurgent China. Politicians of all parties, blinkered by short-termism, and devoid of vision, insist on fiddling whilst the antipodean Rome burns. One mob’s crisis was always some other mob’s opportunity – I’m talking in the Aussie vernacular here, by the way, a ‘mob’ is a bunch of folks, or livestock, sheep or roos, mainly – and not necessarily a Pythonesque “wabble of wowdy webels ” – although the featured photograph would suggest this this might indeed be so. But the situation today is vastly more complicated than in 2013. Join Our Network. Containing the Taliban as a remote, rural threat, grave enough to stop the international community abandoning Afghanistan yet able to be gradually overcome as a long-term national project (with international money and help) would be ideal. As recently as April 5, the day after the Khan Sheikhoun attack, Tillerson was asserting that Assad was here to stay. Having lost 98 per cent of its territory in Iraq and Syria, the group is looking for greener pastures in Africa, The Philippines, and particularly Afghanistan. Armed groups have formed across the political spectrum, worsening divisions the coronavirus has exposed in American society. The Hand Maid’s Tale wove a dystopian tale all the more rendered all the more harrowing by the dual reality that there are a lot of men in the world who would like to see women in servitude, and that our society has the technology to do it. There is no doubt that the US President’s decision reflected animus toward his predecessor’s signature achievement in foreign policy. The job market, strong until mid-March, has fallen off a cliff. In the following article, He writes of how the rise of militias and armed protesters across the US is sometimes seen as a fringe right-wing issue, but argues that it is much broader. From a wider strategic standpoint, the other key audiences for the Shayrat strike were Chinese leader Xi Jinping (who was dining with Trump as the strike went in) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. 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