Beyond the Cusp

April 13, 2017

Frightening Challenges Facing All in the World

 

Syria is a problem from which there may be no good solution as there is much confusion and has as many facets as a rare gem, each reflecting hostilities on all the others. Every side of this entanglement fights for their own glorification seeking supremacy. Bashir al-Assad is attempting to prove that he is as worthy to carry the torch of leadership as was his father and to the grand level his deceased brother was expected to bestow on the nation as its President. He is attempting to overcome having been always the lesser son whose superior brother died tragically leaving him as the nation’s second choice. His attempts at overachievement could be diagnosed as some twisted form of Napoleonic Syndrome despite his height but due to his being measured by his father as always coming up short of what a leader should be. Add to the mix there is the Islamic State whose leadership fully believe that they are serving a greater purpose and are the proper leadership of all Islam and that they are defining the religion for every Muslim in the world. Their initial military successes have come to a crashing halt and are starting to find their opposition making valid and strong challenges and taking back territories which the Islamic State had initially conquered. Then there are al-Qaeda and other terror groups fighting representing the Sunni opposition to Alawite rule as it is a form of Shia Islam which they oppose and believe are apostates. There are also the Kurdish militias which are mostly concerned with defending their people and are having the greatest challenge coming from Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the President of Turkey, who has claimed to be fighting the Islamic State and other terrorist groups but has used the majority of his troops to attack the Kurdish populations. Additionally there are the Iranian forces which mostly consist of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) who Iran is backing further with Hezballah terror militias from Lebanon. From time to time these two groups attempt to draw Israel into the war by launching artillery or rockets into the Golan Heights. Israel will return fire when they have a solid set of coordinates on which to return fire and which also do not endanger civilians but, other than these, Israel refuses to be drawn into the fighting. Finally there is Russia who is most interested in retaining their two naval ports which are within the Alawite region of Syria which places them in the position of supporting Bashir al-Assad. The recent presumed bombing of targets with chemical weapons such as Sarin Gas which murdered civilians received a strong attack from the United States on the originating airfield with over fifty Tomahawk Cruise Missiles. This drew a strong rebuke by both al-Assad and Russian President Putin.

 

By comparison, the remainder of the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) is only slightly less violent and confused. Yemen is also in the midst of a civil war with the Houthis being backed by Iran while Saudi Arabia is supporting the government forces of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. Egypt had supported the Saudi Arabian side providing mostly air support but lost faith in the situation and no longer supports anyone in the Yemen civil war. Libya is a complete disaster with tribal forces warring for preeminence while terrorist forces use some contested areas for training recruits readying them for fighting usually elsewhere. At one point al-Qaeda and Islamic State had cleared out territories they used for training but when they came under attack by tribal forces decided to simply leave as they had no reason to take part in the wars in Libya. The Sudan and South Sudan, which declared independence on July 9, 2011, have remained in a state of conflict with the Sudan sending militias forces raiding their southern neighbor as the Sudan has not fully recognized their independence and still believe that most of the people of South Sudan to be infidel or inferiors and see their military actions as a cleansing the territory of enemies of Islam. Somalia continues to be basically without true governance and has become a destabilizing force for its neighboring nations most notably Eretria as well as Kenya and Ethiopia. There are further threats centered on Nigeria with Boko Haram attacking Christian villages and other sites as well as Islamic villages where they kidnap “volunteers” to fight in their Islamic Army. Boko Haram had pledged their allegiance to Islamic State but whether that remains intact is questionable. All of these Islamic disruptions are largely traceable to what was often referred to as the Arab Spring which largely destabilized the entire area of MENA with the exception of places where there existed strong dictatorial governance such as Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States and Egypt which survived due to the military taking back the control they had lost to the Muslim Brotherhood after President Mubarak was forced from office under direct pressure from United States President Barack Hussein Obama. Iraq is still in a state of unrest with the Sunni and Shia segments of the population still facing difficulties resulting from a premature removal of United States forces by President Obama who was fulfilling a campaign promise sparking a low level of conflict. Meanwhile the Kurds are continuing to provide their own defense and act as if under semi-autonomous rule. Then there is a problem where the developed world has been inundated by refugees from these many conflicts plus increasing unrest and instability in Afghanistan leading to the new United States President, Donald Trump, to impose a temporary ban on immigration from seven nations where vetting to identify terrorist entities has proven difficult. This ban has fallen into court challenge and is still to be resolved but odds are the ban will stay in place for the ninety days while new vetting procedures are finalized.

 

Allied loosely with Syria and Iran is another problematic location, North Korea. The erratic leadership by Kim Jong Un who has ordered executions of senior officials including his uncle and also ordered the assassination of his half-brother all in the name of national security but actually to secure his position from any challenges. Kim Jong Un has also been petulant and often challenges the United States claiming that he is prepared to reply to any and every provocation by the erratic leadership of who he calls the nation’s greatest enemy. With the recent attack on the Syrian airfield both Kim Jong Un and Bashir al-Assad have denounced the United States as being imperialistic, colonial and using false excuses to try and extend the autocratic rule of the United States over more of the world through many varied and devious means. Both leaders have recently threatened to attack the United States or its forces and allies wherever and whenever possible and as necessitated by the warlike actions of the United States. The most violent of threats have come from North Korea and have been taken seriously as by many measures, Kim Jong Un is considered to be irrational and possibly not entirely rational and sane. The latest episode is currently playing out as the United States has diverted an aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and her strike group from harboring in Australia and is having them head towards the Korean Peninsula passing through the western Pacific. Kim Jong Un has raised the specter of a nuclear strike against the aggressor United States if a posture of war should continue and claims to be watching closely any aggressive behavior by the United States and its allies.

 

A World All Upside Down

A World All Upside Down

 

Add to this the threats by Syria and the displeasure shown by Russian President Putin and there are quite a number of signals which could be interpreted seriously wrong and any one could have devastating consequences. Needless to say, such unrest around the world, nerves frayed and on edge and troops moving and shots being taken on two separate fronts, one in the western Pacific Ocean, Sea of Japan, East China Sea, Yellow Sea and possibly the Bay of Korea while the other is in the Mediterranean Sea, the world is balanced on a razor’s edge unlike anything since the end of the Cold War. We are a far cry from Cuban Missile Crisis stage but the world need take a deep breath and calm itself before somebody somewhere misreads intents and starts something which could quickly fly out of control and lead to serious sets of actions, reactions and counter reactions ending who knows where. Add in the increased amount of terrorism and rising crime rate in much of Europe and that simply adds another tinderbox to the sparks and electrical arcing from friction and frayed wires on too many fronts. You know things are tense when Israel is seemingly a singular place where the level of unrest could be considered calm, at least this far into the year. Being nervous is seemingly in fashion for world leaders currently and that is never a good sign. We need to remember that it was the assassination of a little known Austrian Archduke named Fred, well, you’re right, Ferdinand, but I bet his friends called him not Fred but Archduke Fred, which started the War to End All Wars. That War later was renamed World War I as it led kind of directly to World War II and if there ever should be a World War III and the human race survives, it will be traced in some means to World War II and thus World War I. If we were honest, we would realize that one could trace all warfare back to Cain’s Murder of Abel if we really tried, so don’t be too complacent, the world leadership sure has not been of late. We have too many people thinking they should rule the world or they already rule the world and all of them are mistaken, or at least we had best hope they all realize such. They won’t and we will all be the worse off for it.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

February 18, 2017

Jews Stirring Anti-Semitism Protesting Trump

 

You open the newspaper, you turn on the evening news, you watch the Sunday talking heads and the story is the same, Jews on the front lines protesting against the elections of President Trump. They are there carrying the “Not My President” and the “Not Our President” signs, the front lines against the seven nation hold on refugees and immigrants until a proper vetting program can be initiated, and the lead in every protest on every campus and in every city. These are Open Orthodox, Conservatives, Reform and Reconstructionist Jews as well as the few Hassidic Jews who firmly believe that Israel should not have been founded until the Messiah has come and established it for the Jews. All of these Jews have one thing in common, they are in stark contrast to the vast majority of Israeli Jews and their fellow Jews in Israel stand confused and somewhat shocked. How do I know this? Because that is the number one question I hear every morning at services. My fellow congregants ask me to explain what these Jews are so upset over and why are they fighting against everything which Israelis believe has been the greatest thing to come along for Israel since Truman recognized Israel in 1948 and the military cooperation between our two nations over the past sixty plus years now, since the Six Day War woke Lyndon Banes Johnson to the fact that Israel just might serve as a good ally for the United States. Their confusion is palpable and can only leave me sad when I finally tell them the truths.

 

The reality is best made for them to visualize when I explain that the Conservative Synagogue my wife and I attended, for lack of an Orthodox one available where we resided in Oklahoma, was all but exactly identical in atmosphere and service style to the Reform Synagogue I had attended at times during my teen years. Even more troubling for them and my telling is that the number one question we received when congregants learned we were making Aliyah and moving to Israel was, “Why would you want to go there?” and “What is wrong with you?” and lastly a simple, “Why?” as if we would fully understand that last single word expression of disbelief. This was the standard set of queries with the exception of the few real friends we had made who were fellow conservatives politically. These friends had already requested we keep their political aligning with the Republicans to ourselves as everybody knew my wife and I were Republicans and very conservative politically as we broadcast it not being worried about making friends. What did turn out to be interesting was that after a while the very liberal Rabbi had to reconcile that he and I have some similar ideas on Torah and human rights, something he found astonishing. At least the Rabbi was happy about our moving to Israel hopefully because he at least also loved Israel and not because we were leaving, we believe it to be the former.

 

I explain to my Israeli friends that the vast majority of Jews have little if any affinity for Israel and simply wish Israel would give the Palestinians whatever it is that will make them happy, a state, whatever, just satisfy them at any cost so that Israel stops being an embarrassment for them. Their liberal, actually leftist in all too many cases, was far more important to them than was the survival of Israel or the lives of Israelis. They lost their affections for Israel decades ago once Israel pulled out their victory in the October 1973 Yom Kippur War after being caught completely off guard and flat-footed. The fact that Israel was able to repulse the attacks in that war gave the American Jewish community the feeling that Israel had become a superpower all but equal to the United States and impervious to Arab aggressions. Many younger American Jews even believe that Israel is probably four, five, six or even ten times its actual size as they believe it remains the size it had when it still held the Sinai Peninsula. These younger Jews are really geography-challenged and have little if any actual clue of reality and if they were to be told that Israel is barely the size of New Jersey they would be more likely to believe New Jersey had grown to the size of Texas than change their unfounded views about Israel. As far as many American Jews are concerned their leftist values are far more important than any Jewish homeland as for them America is the new Promised Land.

 

This article may receive a number of denunciations because these Jews are also very sensitive when called out as they are the good people and are always beyond reproach. Their beliefs are always above question and of the highest morality. Their belief is Judaism is all about what they call Tikkun Olam. This they define as repair the world through converting the world to their socialist perfect world where the government solves every problem. They do not see Tikkun Olam as the perfecting and improvement of the self in order to make the world better. They see themselves as already as near to perfect as is humanly possible and the real problem is making everybody else to be like them. If everybody would simply believe as they do, the world would become a perfect world. To them when they see Israel in the news it distresses them not because they feel for Israel but because the problems Israel has reflects on them making their lives difficult as they feel they are identified with guilt rubbing off from Israeli misdeeds. They perceive Israeli actions defending herself from terrorism to be unnecessary as if Israel would just bend to the Arab demands then there would be peace. Their desire is for all problems to go away the fastest and easiest means possible, and that to them most often is Israel compromising because their leftist newspapers and newscasts all blame Israel so it must be true.

 

They also see the government headed by Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu to be exactly as their news media portray it, an extreme right wing settler crazies who refuse to give the Palestinians their rightful homeland. They believe that Israel conquered Palestine in 1967 and some even believe that Israel was a European colonialist enterprise from before 1948 and that there are no non-European Jews in Israel. There is no way to convince them of the reality that approximately half of Israeli Jews are from Arab nations of MENA (Middle East and North Africa) as well as India, Ethiopia and other places where lost tribes of Jews have been rescued. They believe that Israel is an Apartheid nation which denies Arabs the right to vote, work in certain fields, and refuse to allow Arabs free access without facing checkpoints at every intersection, well, not every intersection but too many. They look at you like you are trying to tell them Martians live in Israel when you tell them the Arab Israelis have every right that the Jewish Israelis have and that Israel has one of the largest Baha’I populations in the world as well as Druze and Bedouins who also have full rights and vote in Israeli elections are doctors, nurses, teachers, and in the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament. Speaking the truth to these Jews and expecting them to accept a single word is like speaking to a brick wall and expecting it to move out of your way. These Jews are more likely to believe the lies peddled by CAIR than they are to believe us when we visit from Israel with wonderful stories about how warm and wonderful life in Israel actually is and how we love living here, but they believed we were a bit odd to begin with.

 

The reality that Israelis need to learn to accept is that outside the true Orthodox Jewish communities, the Jews in America place the Democrat Party ahead of Israel in all things. The American Jews will accept that Keith Ellison is a perfect choice for the leadership of the Democrat Party and will see him as posing no threat to their existence. Should somebody point out that Keith Ellison supports Louis Farrakhan and his views that Jews are evil people who are barely human and deserve to be refused rights and that many of those who follow Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam actually desire to murder every Jew in America and some even the world they would call them a liar and demand their ostracization from membership in any social or political group potentially even the Synagogue except that would make them appear hateful. The fact that their beliefs about Israel easily make them appear to be hateful though they could not possibly be such as they are the perfect and beautiful people who are so full of love and compassion without a hateful bone in their bodies, ask them, they will gladly inform you and each will attest for the others. Theirs is a wonderfully close-knit community which supports all the correct causes and is by far the most acceptive people who support gay marriage, the entire LGBQT set of causes, the acceptance of refugees from Syria, Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan, Sudan and everywhere else across the Islamic World as it is in turmoil and believe that people should have the right to use whichever bathroom suits their mood each day and that gender-free bathrooms are a necessity and President Obama was the most Constitutional and perfect President greater than Lincoln, Washington and Jefferson combined, especially those detestable slave owners Washington and Jefferson.

 

Inform them that Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Iran, Egypt and the remainder of the Arab world have not appropriated a single refugee while the few nations which have had their borders crossed by refugees have corralled these refugees into camps surrounded by razor wire and armed guards with the expectations that these refugees will either be returned to their nation of origin or allowed to emigrate to Europe or elsewhere in the developed world but never a single one allowed to be taken in by another Arab nation, this they would be aghast and in complete disbelief. They would essentially murder the messenger rather than check to authenticate the message because it transgresses their firm belief that the Islamic world is above reproach and the people who might support President Trump’s temporary, that is temporary, holding of refugees and immigrants from seven unstable and terror hotbed nations with failed governments until a method for proper vetting can be put in place are uneducated simpletons. Such news would upset their world and as such it must be false because they have such a great grasp of everything which is passing along the world each day that such news which goes so completely against their world view thus impossible. Still, why is it that none of the Arab nations such as Saudi Arabia have taken in even a single refugee from Syria and the other six nations which are on President Trump’s travel restrictions and the United States should simply open the doors wide with no restrictions? These are not the tired, the poor, the huddled masses but the victims of dysfunctional states which have been all but destroyed who may be infiltrated by unknown numbers of Islamic State terrorists, al-Qaeda terrorists, Muslim Brotherhood operatives, and unknown other terror suspects which vetting could detect. Perhaps Trump should make a deal that once the one hundred thousand airconditioned tents Saudi Arabia had set up in the dessert for the Haj and used them for Arab refugees then the United States will start taking the overflow afterwards (see image below). The American Jews probably find the news about all those tents with air conditioning which Saudi Arabia could use for refugees something they have been unaware existed, but that would not be any reason nor would the rejection of these same refugees by Saudi Arabia should not affect the United States policies on these same refugees. One must wonder why the Saudi Arabia Royal Family is so against taking in these refugees, so strange.

 

one hundred thousand airconditioned tents Saudi Arabia to accommodate pilgrims on Hajj each has kitchen bathroom fireproof and never intended for refugees

There exists one hundred thousand really large tents Saudi Arabia uses to accommodate pilgrims on Hajj and each has a kitchen, bathroom, fire wood stove, as well as an air-conditioner and they never were intended for refugees as they are far too nice, or at least that is the Saudi Royal Family’s view.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

February 17, 2017

Let’s Talk Middle East Conflict, Minus One Overly Blamed Nation

 

We are going to do something which the average person would believe impossible, discuss conflicts in the Middle East, which includes North Africa and the entirety that goes by the initials MENA, without mentioning Israel other than this once. Yes, that is not only possible but necessary such that people can learn how solving the Palestinian issue would not bring peace to one of the most troubled areas on the planet. There are a number of separate wars going on in Libya alone. In the capital city of Tripoli the government’s forces hold a little more than the offices of the Parliament, the President and the other government buildings and their residences, and only because they reside very close to this central area in Tripoli. There are usually a minimum of two rebel groups at any time fighting the government as well as one another. Often there are more than two as these clans believe that they should be the ones running the country and that Libya is their personal playground. These clans also fight against any terrorists who they believe are trying to take over their areas which they actually do control. The terrorists fight to retain their training grounds. Benghazi is also an open warfare zone with no real governance which controls the entire city but it is the second largest concentration of government military forces. As the government forces do control the port of Tripoli there does exist some trade which is mostly necessities as well as arms and ammunition to keep the government in control. Further, Benghazi, Tobruk, Surt and the other major ports are often changing hands as different groups will exert the necessary force to take the ports when they are expecting shipments from their arms merchants. As some European and many Middle East and Asian arms dealers are making a fair profit, the risks of doing business with the different clans and terror groups operating in Libya is worth the risks involved. Needless to say, the violence in Libya does not always stay in Libya; it often crosses borders into Egypt, Algeria, Chad, Niger and even the Sudan. One of the main arms providers is the Sudanese government and arms dealers taking side action arming the Sudanese neighboring nations including Libya but excluding South Sudan as this is not permitted by the Sudanese government.

 

There is a very good reason that the Sudanese government has made the providing of arms to South Sudan a capital offence, they are still fighting a war and committing a slow genocide against the Christians and Animists and act as if nobody in the world has recognized South Sudan as a separate nation. As long as the world, including those who have recognized South Sudan as a separate nation, do nothing of consequence to protest the nascent country from its far stronger and well-armed former rulers, the killing will continue. There have been some troops provided by the African Union. The United Nations also has sent troops to South Sudan. The problem is what is really necessary would be an entire army, which is not what has been sent. Back in 2013 the United States took what it claimed was measures to assure the genocide in South Sudan would be relieved by allocating one-hundred-fifty Marines and a few aircraft to the Horn of Africa from where they were to be capable of evacuating people under threat in South Sudan. As is said repeatedly in Bill Cosby’s routine on Noah, “Right!” Our new United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated this week that refugees were fleeing cities and towns and that “The security situation continues to deteriorate in parts of the country and the consequent impact of this ongoing conflict and violence, has reached catastrophic proportions for civilians,” A United Nations report stated, “The rise of militias under the loose command of the SPLA or rebel commanders is spreading the fragmentation and dislocation of its territories, which risk, if this trend continues, remaining out of any government control for years to come.” The United Nations further reports that the numbers of refugees currently seeking relief is beyond one and a half million.

 

Now we can slide over to Somalia which is only a real country on maps for lack of a better means of describing the area. Like Libya there is no actual ruling government but instead a series of gangs ruling their territories with iron fists and warring with each other trying to increase their domain. The people have to make sure they are aware of which gang is currently ruling their block of homes as that will also define where they are allowed to shop and who they may visit. Crossing from one region to the next carries varying degrees of danger. Some of the gangs along the shoreline engage in pirating for a living seeking pleasure yachts, merchant ships and even passing warships which are traveling without escort. These pirates have varying levels of gall living by the code “no guts, no glory.” They have attacked European, Asian, Australian, Canadian and American shipping and anybody else who comes within their range. Their method is to use a larger ship which remains out of sight but relatively close and smaller craft attack the target vessels and attempt to board and commandeer the ship then demanding ransom for the ship, crew and cargo. They check the cargo for anything they might desire or need to keep for themselves and will take any weapons they find an board the ships they take. There has been some degree of international efforts to bring this to an end but for the most part ships take their own risks coming out of the Red Sea after passing through the Suez Canal.

 

Of course that means they need to make their way through the Bab el-Mandeb Straights without being struck by Houthis shelling out of Yemen. The Houthi rebels in Yemen are Iranian backed and attempting to conquer all of Yemen to give Iran a base from which to attack Saudi Arabia from the south. This will come in very handy should Iran decide to attack Saudi Arabia from Iraq and the north mainly the northeast of Saudi Arabia which has the majority of Shiite Muslims as well as most of the oil fields. Additionally, Iran has made friends with Qatar and has made overtures claiming than Oman and Bahrain are actually breakaway Iranian provinces. Much like China keeps threatening that they will one day rejoin Taiwan to the mainland as it is simply a breakaway province, Iran makes the same claims on Oman and Bahrain. Bahrain has a Sunni monarch and a predominantly Shiite population. During the Arab Spring (boy was that a joke and a complete disaster from the word go thanks in part to President Obama who had a hand in these failed revolts with great assistance from Hillary Clinton and the European Union) the Shiites in Bahrain revolted and things appeared to be heading for real troubles, that was until Saudi Arabia used the multi-lane causeway highway to send troops to quell the revolt. The Shiites left their Mosques on Friday all revved up to overthrow the monarch when they found tanks, armored personnel carriers and heavily armed Saudi Arabian troops at both ends of the block so everybody calmed down and went home. Sure there were a few short outbursts of violence which were immediately quelled. The entire Arab Spring in Bahrain ended that Friday with barely a whimper. Similarly, the Shiites in the northeast of Saudi Arabia thought about staging an uprising but were quickly persuaded to remain calm. That thought of rising up was so short it did not even make a single news cycle.

 

Egypt is next on out little tour and is currently largely complacent. They had their Arab Spring and threw out military rule and President Mubarak and replaced him with the predicted Muslim Brotherhood candidate, President Morsi. President Morsi was advised by Turkish President Erdogan to take a slow and steady approach to Islamizing Egypt but paid that no heed. He took off on a radical program of change trying almost overnight to make Egypt a Muslim Brotherhood run totalitarian hellhole. This was met with a public already in revolt mode and they rose up again and demanded Morsi’s head. General of the Army Sisi took the hint and removed the Muslim Brotherhood from power and held new elections. Having the most recognized name in Egypt and having just saved the day, surprisingly Sisi who had stepped down from General of the Army ran and won the Presidency of Egypt. So Egypt is now safely back under military rule for intents and purposes and appears happy to be so. The one problem is the Sinai Peninsula. The Sinai Peninsula is filled with terrorists from al-Qaeda and Islamic State to Hamas and even Iranian backed groups. They attack Egyptian military outposts with varying degrees of success. They often attack the border outposts between Egypt and Gaza in order to allow the flow of terrorists, arms, and contraband into and out of Gaza where Hamas and Islamic Jihad share control. What is interesting about Gaza is that Islamic Jihad is supplied by Iran amongst others and Hamas is Muslim Brotherhood thus provisioned by them and also on occasion they are given rocket engine technologies and even rudimentary guidance systems from Iran as Iran will even arm Sunnis if they are attacking Iran’s favorite target. Egypt has yet to put down the menaces in the Sinai Peninsula and they have even been cleared to use whatever troops and equipment they need and they are apparently fighting a losing battle, or at least not completely reaching a totally peaceful situation. Perhaps they never should have accepted the Sinai Peninsula back when they made peace between President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin.

 

Turkey is also involved in a war which few appear to care to mention. They are claiming to fight against Bashir al-Assad in Syria as well as against Islamic State but somehow the majority of their efforts appear to be barely across the border. They seem preoccupied, or at least President Erdogan is preoccupied, with the Kurds. Turkey could actually make a great agreement and win an ally for life if they would simply allow the Kurds to form their own nation out of northeastern Syria, northern Iraq and at the worst a few tens or hundreds of square miles of southeastern Turkey where the population is majority Kurdish. The United States or other groups would probably handsomely reward Turkey for the lost lands, give a relocation allowance to any Turkish non-Kurdish citizens desiring to leave the Kurdish nation and return to Turkey and all could be settled. Even if Turkey refused to sacrifice a small portion of land, the Kurds in Turkey would likely relocate if they were granted recognition as a nation as was promised them by the British (we all know how good the British are on their promises when oil is involved). Turkey has been bombing and using ground assaults backed by heavy armor against the Kurds who have largely been fighting the Islamic State. Apparently Turkey would prefer the Islamic State on their border than the Kurds, there is no accounting for taste.

 

Middle East & North Africa (MENA)

Middle East & North Africa (MENA)

 

Then there are the wars outside of Yemen and Gaza where Iran is a major player. We are referring to Iraq and Syria where Iran is attempting to rule Iraq through proxy and reestablish Bashir al-Assad as the ruler of Syria. Bashir al-Assad has lost almost the entirety of his nation to the Islamic State, a number of other rebels, a Kurdish section which is simply attempting to protect their own people as well as the Yazidi refugees they took in after rescuing them when the rest of the world twiddled their thumbs, President Obama leading the thumb twiddlers. Iran has a friend in Russia who are actually fighting simply to retain their Mediterranean Sea port privileges such that they retain a warm water port capable of allowing ships to enter the Atlantic Ocean year round without having to pass through the Dardanelles in Turkey, an iffy situation at times. That is why the majority of the Russian operations center around Latakia and the port facilities located in that Mediterranean coastal city. Latakia is also in the central region where the Alawite Tribe resides which also happens to be Bashir al-Assad’s allies and tribal alliance and they along with some of the Druze except they have largely withdrawn and are simply, as are the Kurds, defending their own people and lands from the Islamic State and any other threats. They are safe from the Russians, Iranians and Syrian Army and even most likely the Hezballah forces from Lebanon who are supporting Bashir al-Assad as if Syria was their own country and not Lebanon. Hezballah is there because Iran insisted they fight or else Iran would have cut them off and they would then be facing the rest of Lebanon ready to dispose of the Hezballah terrorists who have been ruling Lebanon through their military threat. The one benefit of Hezballah fighting in Syria and taking the casualties in numbers far higher than are admitted is they are unable to attack any others including but not limited to the Christians and other minorities in Lebanon.

 

Our final stop is at the Afghanistan and Pakistan end of MENA. We left out some of the nations at the far end of northern Africa where one of the major problems is Boko Haram who are bloodthirsty Islamist terrorists who often kidnap Christians and even other Muslims and sell them into slavery. They specialize in selling to the sex slave industry and thus most often target young women and boys. Their other main effort is to murder Christians and Animists, something which sounds familiar from the South Sudan. Boko Haram operated largely centered on northern and central Nigeria and the neighboring areas even south to Mali. Meanwhile, Afghanistan and Pakistan consist of large areas which are considered tribal and the government rarely enters these zones as the tribes are well armed and do not recognize the governmental right to their areas. Too often these tribal areas will war with one another and then they make their money off of allowing terrorists to train and make a lucrative business from poppies. The heroin trade is something the government does not fight as they too benefit from the trafficking in illicit drugs. Until there is introduced another cash crop the farmers will grow and sell the easiest and most profitable crop they can raise, poppies. The flowers are almost as pretty as the profits. Needless to point out but where you have such profits there will always be violence as the tribes desire to expand their fields and taking the tribe next door’s fields is the quickest way to making more profit. Additionally, there is the constant state of conflict between Pakistan and India over Kashmir, a nation which appears on older maps and had the distinction of having to be colored white because it had so many neighboring nations on its border that it needed it own color and white was the best one not in use anywhere else. That concludes our Middle East conflict roundup leaving one nation obviously ignored, imagine all this without mentioning the nation always considered the source of the Middle East conflict chart. Perhaps the rest of it is not so peaceful after all.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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