World View: Al-Qaeda Captures Multiple Syrian Cities

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com:

  • Thailand army coup feared in face of massive anti-government protests
  • Chechen terrorist Omar Shishani leads al-Qaeda to victories in Syria

Thailand army coup feared in face of massive anti-government protests

The racial split in Thailand's population between the light-skinned people of the Thai-Chinese elite minority and the dark-skinned people of the indigenous Thai-Thai laborer majority is potentially reaching a crisis point, as tens or hundreds of thousands of Thai-Chinese anti-government flag-waving "yellow shirt" protesters have blocked major roads around the center of Bangkok.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban of the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) vowed on Monday to shutdown Bangkok indefinitely:

Today will be written in Thai history... We will shut down the city. We will do it all days and we will do it everyday until we win. No negotiations. No compromise.

Thaugsuban is calling on his supporters to boycott the planned February 2 election, which he knows his party will lose because his elite racial group is in the minority. Instead, Thaugsuban is demanding that the prime minister resign and be replaced by an unelected "people's council," whose members are presumably to be chosen by Thaugsuban.

So far, the "red shirt" pro-government supporters have kept their rallies fairly small, but there are fears that that could change if it begins to appear that Thaugsuban might get his way. It's particularly ominous that Thaugsuban is calling for a boycott of the February 2 election, since the last time that happened in 2006, an army coup ousted the prime minister, Thai-Thai hero Thaksin Shinawatra, brother of the current prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

The army is known to be strong on the side of Thaugsuban's elite minority and has shown willingness in the past to be violent to the red shirt protesters while excusing the yellow shirts. If there's violence between the red shirts and the yellow shirts, then the army may stage a coup once more, and that is presumably exactly what Thaugsuban wants, even though that could mean a lot more violence. Bangkok Post and AP

Chechen terrorist Omar Shishani leads al-Qaeda to victories in Syria

The al-Qaeda-linked Islamic Emirate in Iraq and Syria/Sham/theLevant (ISIS or ISIL) killed as many as 100 anti-Assad activists in Syria over the weekend and took control of several cities. Al-Qaeda and Syria's president Bashar al-Assad have essentially become military allies, fighting the Syrian anti-Assad militants.

The Syrian anti-Assad militants are the moderate Syrian National Coalition (SNC) and the salafist Jabhat al-Nusra. Both of these groups consist of actual Syrian citizens, and both are opposed to the al-Assad government.

ISIS consists mostly of foreign al-Qaeda-trained fighters and is being led by Abu Omar al-Shishani, a prominent jihadist leader from Chechnya and the most influential military leader in Syria in ISIS. The slaughter of dozens of activists in the SNC and al-Nusra over the weekend puts him squarely on the side of al-Assad's army.

Well, this is certainly a complex situation. Al-Qaeda terrorists are Sunni jihadists who consider Shia Muslims to be infidels or apostates. Al-Assad is Shia/Alawite and is being supported by the so-called "Shia crescent," consisting of Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah. ISIS is also fighting the Shia government in Iraq. Jihadists in Chechnya are fighting the Orthodox Christian government of Russia which is providing an unlimited supply of heavy weapons to al-Assad. 

So we have to assume that ISIS's love affair with al-Assad is not going to last forever.

In the meantime, the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the Russians are leading the effort to hold a "Syria Peace Conference" in Geneva on January 22. It's not known if any of the Syrian opposition groups will be there, or if Iran will be there; Israel certainly won't be there. ISIS's string of victories over the weekend makes it appear that that it will be the next in the list of John Kerry's failed peace conferences, peace agreements, and peace announcements, a list that seems to get longer every week. Cihan (Turkey) and Reuters

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