Category: Current affairs

Brazil still in a quagmire?

  • Yes - economic crisis continues.
  • Political crisis continues too - Rousseff hugely unpopular.
  • Petrobras corruption scandal moving closer to her as investigators arrest corporate, financial, judicial & political grandees.

How has Syria war affected Turkey?

  • 2.5m refugees on its soil.
  • Has reinvigorated Kurdish militancy within Turkey.
  • Has soured relations with Russia, its 2nd largest trading partner.

Macrosnap Russian & Turkish leaders, Putin & Erdogan?

  • Both are authoritarian, populist leaders with big egos, thrive on confrontation, and are preoccupied with national pride.
  • Not a lot of warmth between them (publicly or in private).
  • Differing Syria strategies - Turkey wants Assad removed, Russia wants him to stay.

Explain EU’s wooing of Turkey in attempt to stem refugee flow?

  • EU wants Turkey (which currently has 2.5m refugees on its soil) to become a migrant buffer, instead of a gateway.
  • So Brussels is ignoring Erdogan's autocratic drift, and is showering Turkey with political and financial favours.
  • In return, Turkey would stem the flow by providing job and education opportunities for refugees, and tighten border controls.

Macrosnap Argentina presidential election?

  • Argentina votes for change and moves to right.
  • Conservative Mauricio Macri narrowly defeats populist/Peronist Scioli.
  • Voters seek reboot after 12 years of mismanagement under Kirchner husband-wife duo.

Russian goals in Syria?

  • Short-term: Defeat ISIS, keep Assad in power.
  • Long-term: Syria falls under Russia sphere of influence.
  • This gives Russia leverage in the Middle East, granting Putin his much-desired increased relevance on the international stage.

Iranian goals in Syria?

  • Short-term: Defeat ISIS, keep Assad (an Alawite Shia) in power to prevent Syria becoming a Sunni state.
  • Long-term: Keep Syria an Iranian fiefdom, hence maintaining corridor in south to supply Hezbollah (a client Shia political party/military group) in Lebanon.
  • This would allow Iran to maintain political influence over Lebanon, and the ability to attack Israel (a country which it has repeatedly promised to destroy).

Putin back in from the cold?

  • Temporarily yes in wake of Paris attacks, i.e. France & Russia co-ordinating attacks against ISIS.
  • Like the allies worked with Stalin to defeat Nazism, the west can today work with Russia to fight a common foe.
  • But, back then, Hitler posed an existential threat - today the west can probably defeat ISIS without Russian assistance, and hence hopefully won't trade Ukraine for help in the Middle East.

Macrosnap ISIS stronghold of Raqqa in Syria?

  • NE Syrian city seized from Syrian rebels in Jan 2014 - civilian population of 200,000 is hostage to ISIS brutality.
  • Viewed as ISIS' de facto capital, although leadership is based in desert borderlands between Syria & Iraq.
  • Being bombed by France - more of a symbolic & psychological target than militarily critical.

Current US/Coalition bombing tactics in Syria?

  • US-led coalition hitting ISIS-held oilfields in E-Syria.
  • Also hitting supply lines (truck convoys).
  • Oil from the region is a major revenue generator for ISIS.
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