World View: Syria War Spills into Lebanon as ISIS Attacks Town of Arsal

This morning's key headlines from

  • Israel and Hamas agree to a 3-day Gaza humanitarian ceasefire
  • Syria war spills into Lebanon, as ISIS attacks town of Arsal
  • China reasserts its sovereignty over the South China Sea

Israel and Hamas agree to a 3-day Gaza humanitarian ceasefire

Both Israel and Hamas have agreed to begin a 3-day humanitarian ceasefire to begin on Tuesday morning at 8 am local time. However, expectations are extremely low because there have been several attempts at ceasefire in the past, and they all failed fairly quickly. The ceasefire proposal was put forth by Egypt, and it's apparently identical to the ceasefire proposal that Egypt proposed three weeks ago. 

An Israeli spokesman said: "Israel will cease all military operations against terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip. Israel will honor the cease-fire and will be watching to see if Hamas does to."

A Palestinian spokesman said: "It's clear now that the interest of all parties is to have a cease-fire. It's going to be tough negotiations because Israel has demands, too."

As I've written several times in the last weeks, Israel and Hamas agree on little except one thing: Neither wants to return to the status quo ante. This means that Israel will not agree to a permanent ceasefire unless Hamas and other Gaza factions are demilitarized, and Hamas will not agree to a ceasefire unless the "siege" is ended, meaning that people and goods can flow freely in and out of Gaza. USA Today

Syria war spills into Lebanon, as ISIS attacks town of Arsal

Militias from the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS), which have gained control of large swaths of Syria and Iraq, joined with some militias from al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra to attempt to take control of Lebanon by attacking the town of Arsal in northern Lebanon. 

Thousands of families were forced to flee from their homes as the battle raged between the ISIS militants and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). ISIS terrorists had been hiding out in the mountains surrounding Arsal after combined forces of the Syrian regime and Hezbollah drove them from border villages in Syria. Reports indicate that ISIS is preparing a military strategy to take over the region by repeating its successes in Iraq, where in the past few days it scored a major victory by capturing Iraq's biggest hydroelectric dam.

Lebanon's population is about 40% Christian, 27% Sunni Muslim and 27% Shia Muslim, and Lebanon itself has been split along religious lines whether to support the Alawite/Shia regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad or his Sunni enemies. In the past, these religious differences have split the army, whose soldiers are drawn from the entire population, but the ISIS invasion of northern Lebanon appears to have united the army, at least for the time being, to join with Hezbollah to fight the invaders. Daily Star (Lebanon) and Al Monitor and Daily Star (Beirut)

China reasserts its sovereignty over the South China Sea

China is aggressively asserting claims to the entire South China Sea, including regions that have historically belonged to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, and the Philippines. China is building a network of airstrips and military garrisons in the South China Sea in clear violation of international law and refuses to participate in any United Nations mediation efforts. The South China Sea is believed to contain big oil and gas deposits and rich fishing grounds. China has been using a "salami-slicing" technique of annexing one portion after another. 

The Philippines is proposing a freeze on activity in the South China Sea in order to prevent a dispute that might lead to a military confrontation. However, a high government official in Beijing has rejected the proposal, saying: 

The Spratly Islands are China's intrinsic territory, and what China does or doesn't do is up to the Chinese government. Nobody can change the government's position...

Why is it that when other countries wantonly build airports, nobody says a word? But China has only this year started small and necessary construction, to raise living conditions on the islands - and so many people raise doubts.

I guess the answer to this question is that when other countries wantonly build airports, they do so on their own territory, rather than on someone else's territory. Reuters

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Israel, Hamas, Gaza, Egypt, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Lebanon, Arsal, Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra, Islamic Front Hezbollah, Iraq, China, South China Sea, Philippines

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