Ever since the Ottoman Empire dissolved and the various world powers got their hands on it, the Middle East has been ensconced in conflict. For much of that time, the United States has been heavily involved in Middle Eastern politics. Specifically, it has recently battled the terrorist groups Al Qaeda, ISIS, and the Taliban. As a result of President Bush’s occupation of Iraq, Obama’s “War on Terror”, and Trump’s continued refusal to eject troops from the region, America still ravages an entire subcontinent. Despite this damage and death, America remains ineffective at quelling terrorism. Though ISIS has a greatly reduced presence, they and the other groups remain a significant problem for many Middle Easterners. But amidst America’s “well-intentioned” but damaging military action, local armies are also rising up to defend their own homes. The most notable of these is the Kurdish-based army, Rojava.
Eli Ridder | SYRIA
The United States is working toward a diplomatic solution to stop the Turkish assault on the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin, an offensive criticized by Washington and Damascus and reportedly supported by Russia.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he recognized Ankara’s “legitimate” security concerns and right to defend its borders from terrorist threats but explained he was “concerned” about the Turkish offensive and urged all sides to show restraint.
“The U.S. is in Syria to defeat ISIS,” Tillerson said on Monday while in the British capital London, using another acronym for so-called Islamic State, as he began a meeting with his counterpart Boris Johnson.
“We’ve done that with a coalition of partners and the Syrian Democratic Forces, so we are concerned about the Turkish incidents in northern Syria.”
The Kurdish-led SDF are a key part of the U.S.-led coalition’s fight against Daesh (IS) in Syria and are now taking part in a training program for a border security force in the country’s north.
Following meetings with Russia, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would not back down from the original plan to oust Kurdish fighters from Afrin.
“We are determined, Afrin will be sorted out, we will take no step back,” Mr. Erdogan said in a televised speech, claiming that Ankara has reached an agreement with Moscow in regards to the situation.
The campaign continues
Monday marked an intensifying third day in the Turkish campaign to push the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) 30 kilometers away from its southern border in an effort to create a “safe zone” protecting Turkey’s southern border.
State-run Anadolu reported on Monday that Turkish forces continued their shelling on Kurdish positions, an artillery barrage in support of Turkish and allied Free Syrian Army militia forces, a rebel group opposing the Syrian regime in Damascus.
Turkish warplanes struck Afrin’s strategic Bursaya Mountain while its armed ground forces advanced in the Azaz district, east of Afrin, according to the Turkish Anadolu news agency.
The latest casualty numbers list six civilians and three Kurdish fighters as dead, with the first Turkish troop death coming on Monday when the YPG retaliated by crossing the border into the Turkish province of Hatay, according to Anadolu.
The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces also said they were considering sending forces to assist the YPG in fighting off Turkish and FSA forces. Washington is a close ally of the Kurdish-led and dominated SDF and the YPG.
Ankara considers Syrian Kurds to be associated with the terror Kurdistan Workers’ Party group in southeastern Turkey, which the Kurd’s vehemently deny in an assertion Washington backs.
Video: Turkey launches offensive
Video from Al Jazeera news agency: 71 Republic takes no credit for this video.
Image of Rex Tillerson from Business Insider.
By Jake Melkun | Worldwide
Recently, there has been a big resentment of big government and more regionalism in today’s world. Read on to see which places could actually become the next countries in the world.
Venice, the city where people transport themselves not by car, not by train, but by boat. Venice is the third-richest region in Italy, and brings in a lot of tourism from foreigners wanting to experience an almost car-free city. But, the region of Veneto has a growing separatist movement, trying to break away from Italy. In 2014, a non-binding referendum showed that a stunning 89% of Venetians supported independence.
No, we are not talking about Ned Flanders here, but we are talking about the northern half of the country of Belgium. Belgium is made out of mainly two distinct regions which all have different backgrounds, traditions, and cultures. The one on the North is Flanders, which is closer related to the Netherlands and Dutch is spoken. Wallonia, on the other hand, is the southern part which speaks French and is closer related to France. Many people on both sides want to either separate or gain more autonomy, although many Wallonians have spoken in favor of joining France.
We all know Canada as the home of ice hockey, maple syrup, moose, and poutine, but could it also be the home of the next independent nation? Québec already has many cultural differences to the rest of Canada, as they are the odd ones out when it comes to language because Quebec is officially a Francophone province. Many Québécois feel that they are not a true part of Canada because of the language and cultural barriers, and that they would be better suited to be a part of the French-speaking world.
7. South Ossetia/Abkhazia
South Ossetia and Abkhazia go hand-in-hand because they both are autonomous regions claimed by in Georgia (the country, not the state) and Russia. The people of these regions are not really ethnically nor culturally related to the Georgians, and they have backing from their neighbors to the north. Some people support the states joining Russia as autonomous oblasts or completely separating from both countries. South Ossetia and Abkhazia were both supported by the Russians during the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008, leaving the two territories in a sticky situation.
Transnistria is a small strip of land on the eastern side of Moldova, a country bordering Ukraine and Romania. Transnistria is also an autonomous region, which it sets out a lot of its own border and passport control, meaning that to cross through it you need a special stamp. Transnistria uses the Moldavian SSR (Soviet-Era Moldova) flag, and has very close ties to Russia. We have an article on Transnistrian independence here.
5. East African Federation
Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, Burundi, and Rwanda have proposed a plan to unite their countries into the East African Federation. This proposed union could either end up being a glorious unification, or, as it likely will, end up in a civil war and a huge mess. African nations already have a tough time getting by, but could this proposed union help to turn the region into a superpower?
The Kurds are a major ethnic group who live from South-Eastern Turkey and stretch throughout Iraq, Syria, and even major parts of Iran. They have a huge separatist movement, referendums, and support from global superpowers like the United States. Why haven’t they gained independence yet? First of all, Turkey, which is highly opposed to letting the Kurds free, is also a member of NATO. This means that it would put the US in a tricky spot with aiding both the Kurds and the Turks. Secondly, ISIS and the Syrian Civil War has put a big stop to the Kurds’ mission, as the area is too war-inflicted for another war to take place. Maybe once the cards are in the right place, Kurdistan might join the list of nations of the world, but as of now an independent Kurdistan seems unlikely.
You might be saying to yourself, “Isn’t Scotland already a country?”. Well, yes, it is a country, but not an independent one. The United Kingdom is a country of countries, which the independent countries don’t really have much independence. Many Scots are not happy with this. They believe that Scotland should be able to make decisions for themselves on the global stage, but under the UK they can’t. In 2014, Scotland made the decision to stay in the UK in a referendum, but after Brexit, could there be another referendum on the horizon?
Kosovo is an Autonomous Region located in Southern Serbia, but they do not like being ruled by the Serbs. The majority of Kosovoans are of Albanian ethnicity, and they would much rather be their own nation instead of being under the Serbian flag. It has also been proposed that they join Albania instead of being their own nation. Kosovo is recognized by the United States, but they still only have about one-third of the world’s recognition. Kosovo is very close, but not there just yet.
Catalonia is a region that has been in the news lately as they partook in a referendum that overwhelmingly supported Catalonian independence. The Spanish did not take to this well, though, because the Spanish police injured over one thousand poll-goers in an attempt to stop the fair referendum. The Catalonians are currently planning their next step, as they are supposed to release their Declaration of Independence soon. You can read our article on this here.
Of course, the independence of these areas are not certain, but it will surely be interesting to watch and see how all of this plays out.