World View: China Increases Military Force in South China Sea

This morning's key headlines from
  • Cyprus military base will house Russian aircraft, naval ships
  • China increases military force in South China Sea
  • Conflicts arise between Arab and Chechnya jihadists in Syria
  • Belgium mayor's underpants stolen from Brussels' Museum of Underpants

Cyprus military base will house Russian aircraft, naval ships

The cabinet of Cyprus has approved a proposal to offer certain facilities to the Russian air force at the Andreas Papandreou military airbase in Paphos. Cyprus will also open the Limassol port to Russia's warships. However, some details have not been worked out, including the question of whether there will be a permanent Russian base at the airport or if Russian military aircraft will only be able to land for refueling or repairs. Russia has a very weak negotiating hand with Cyprus, especially after Russian depositors lost billions in last March's bailout – in addition to Moscow’s very generous 2.5 billion euro loan to Cyprus. It's expected that Russia will use these military bases as a transit point for arms shipments to the Bashar al-Assad regime. Cyprus Mail and Jamestown

China increases military force in South China Sea

China is continuing its "Lebensraum" policy of using its vast military power and threats of military force to take control of vast portions of the South China Sea, including islands and regions that have historically belonged to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. China is building a large military base on one of the Paracel Islands that are disputed by other countries and will station a 5,000 ton patrol ship. The ship will make regular patrols throughout the region and presumably threaten military force against any vessels from other countries. Vietnam has accused China of harassing and even opening fire on its fishing boats near the Paracels. Reuters and AFP

Conflicts arise between Arab and Chechnya jihadists in Syria

As we recently described in detail, there are three groups of anti-Assad militants in Syria: the "moderate" Syrian National Coalition (SNC), the Islamic Front or Jabhat al-Nusra, consisting of Syrian citizens who are salafists, and the al-Qaeda-linked jihadists in the Islamic Emirate in Iraq and Syria/Sham/theLevant (ISIS or ISIL), consisting of many foreign fighters who have been drawn to the region by both the Syria conflict and the deterioration of Iraq since the Americans withdrew.

There are splits and disagreements and clashes among all three of these group, but now there are splits within ISIS itself between two groups of foreign fighters: the Arabic speaking jihadists and the North Caucasian fighters, mostly from Chechnya, one of Russia's southern provinces. Many Chechen jihadists in ISIS are defecting to Jabhat al-Nusra because they're apparently being treated as second-class jihadists in ISIS.

This development has had an ironic effect. With Chechens on both sides of the al-Nusra vs ISIS divide, they're able to reach agreements and avoid clashes that might have killed hundreds of people, including civilians.

There are several hundred, or possibly a thousand, jihadists from Chechnya who have gone to Syria to fight against the Bashar al-Assad regime. The stream of jihadists from Chechnya arriving in Syria may be reduced because the jihadists might become discouraged by the violent disagreements among the groups fighting against al-Assad. Jamestown

Belgium mayor's underpants stolen from Brussels Museum of Underpants

A signed pair of underpants from the mayor of Brussels in Belgium has been stolen from an anarchist bar housing the Museum of Underpants, which explores the relationship between politicians and their underwear. The bar is a well-known drinking spot for Belgium's bohemian far-Left. The museum has the "philosophical purpose to show that all people are equal in their underpants, whether they are famous, rich, powerful or all three at the same time." Telegraph (London)

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