- Yes, as China flexes its muscles, neighbours look towards US.
- Closer military co-operation with Australia, Philippines, Japan over last 2 years.
- Malaysia also moving closer to US.
- Coming via Turkey - and part sponsored by Saudi Arabia.
- Recipients vetted by CIA operatives first, i.e. to get resupplied, recipients need to show video footage of successes and need to return spent cartridges.
- Program seems to be successfully holding off Russian-backed Assad advances.
- China cutting interest rates.
- Europe and UK extending monetary easing (QE) so interest rates lower.
- US Fed is only large central bank poised to raise interest rates.
- Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party's (NLD) historic win against ruling military-backed elite.
- Despite landslide electoral win, 25% of parliamentary seats are allocated to the military, so they will have huge influence.
- So she will need to work with them.
- French special forces have been tracking ISIS militants in the Sahara since 2013.
- France was the first EU country to join the US air strikes on ISIS in Iraq in 2014.
- France is the only EU country to have joined the US air strikes on ISIS in Syria in 2015.
- Hezbollah is Lebanon-based Shia political movement & Islamist militant group.
- They back Shia Syria leader Assad who is fighting ISIS.
- ISIS is an extremist Sunni movement, and hence don't like Hezbollah.
- In attempt to to demarcate sovereignty over waters, China has been building artificial islands for last 18 months.
- Next concern is establishment of an air identification zone.
- i.e. China attempting to claim control of the airspace in the region.
- Narendra Modi is India's PM and head of ruling BJP - landslide election win 2014.
- His dominance of the party has been unchallenged since then, and he has moved to centralise power.
- But BJP defeat in the state of Bihar this last weekend resulted in unprecedented criticism from within his own party - Modi magic is waning - he's accused of being divisive instead of consensual.
- No cogent Western strategy - Russia steps into vacuum.
- Putin turns Assad's minority-based Alawite (Shia) regime into a Russian protectorate.
- Chance that Sunnis, of all persuasions, ISIS and non-ISIS, will now target Russia (1980s Afghanistan-style, anti-Russian mujahideen jihad) not inconceivable.
- Oil price has more than halved in the last year, so as OPEC cartel leader, one would expect Saudi Arabia to cut output (and hence force the price up).
- But instead they have chosen to maintain supply, despite the financial pain this is causing domestically.
- Strategy is to prioritise its own long-term market share, and perhaps to inflict pain on fellow OPEC members Iran and Russia (who Saudi Arabia believes have destructive geopolitical ambitions in the Middle East).