World View: Turkey Admits 66,000 Refugee Kurds from Syria as Mideast Realignment Continues

World View: Turkey Admits 66,000 Refugee Kurds from Syria as Mideast Realignment Continues

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Turkey admits 66,000 refugee Kurds from Syria as Mideast realignment continues
  • India launches ‘Project Mausam’ to counter China’s ‘Maritime Silk Road’
  • Russia sends massive new convoy across border into Ukraine

Turkey admits 66,000 refugee Kurds from Syria as Mideast realignment continues

Long queues of Kurdish refugees wait to cross border into Turkey on Saturday (Reuters)
Long queues of Kurdish refugees wait to cross border into Turkey on Saturday (Reuters)

In a new sign of the continuing realignment of the entire Mideast following the Gaza war and the rise of the Islamic State / ofIraq and Syria (IS or ISIS), Turkey opened the border on Saturday to66,000 Kurdish refugees fleeing from ISIS. Thousands more areexpected to enter Turkey on Sunday.

On the same day, a military operation by Turkey recovered and freed 49hostages from Turkey’s diplomatic corp. The Islamic State had captured the hostages when the former overran the city of Mosul in June.

Turkey has announced that it will not join the US-led “coalition” tobe fighting the Islamic State, and gave as one of the reasons that it didn’t wantto risk the lives of its hostages. Now that the hostages have beenfreed, it’s still not expected that Turkey will join the “coalition,”since Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a bitter enemy ofSyria’s president Bashar al-Assad. Turkey will not even permitAmerican warplanes fighting ISIS to take off from its Incirlik airbase, although Turkey will allow humanitarian and logisticaloperations from there.

Opening the border to 66,000 Kurdish refugees reflects therealignments that are going on in the Mideast. Until recently, Turksand Kurds fought a civil war that killed 40,000 people. The fact thatTurkey is now accepting tens of thousands of Kurdish refugees is asign of how allegiances are shifting in this region. Daily Sabah (Istanbul) and Zaman (Ankara) and BBC

India launches ‘Project Mausam’ to counter China’s ‘Maritime Silk Road’

When China’s president Xi Jinping took office last year, he gave anumber of speeches about “China’s Dream,” in which he called for Chinato shed its past as a secondary player and become the world’s topmilitary and economic power. He visited Chinese military bases andtold the troops to be ready for war at any time. He vowed that Chinawill take every step necessary to gain control of the East China Seaand South China Sea regions, including areas that have been owned byother countries for centuries.

The “Silk Road” was a collection of trade routes that connected Europeand China in the Middle Ages, allowing China’s silk to be traded forEuropean goods. As part of that plan to implement “China’s Dream,” Xiproposed a new “Maritime Silk Road” (MSR) across Southeast Asia,shortly after he took office. The Chinese describe it in economicterms, as an initiative to further deepen China’s reciprocalcooperation with neighboring countries, and promote their commondevelopment and prosperity, but it’s also a military initiative togain bases and influence from China, across the Indian Ocean, all theway to Africa.

Not to be outdone, India is proposing a competitive vision to the MSR,called “Project Mausam,” described as “a transnational program isaimed at restoring India’s ancient maritime routes and cultural linkswith republics in the region.” I admit I’m having a bit ofdifficulty understanding this, so I’ll just quote someone else’snarrative:

“The project is considered [Indian Prime MinisterNarendra] Modi’s government’s most significant foreign policyinitiative designed to counter China. It is inspired by India’shistorical role as the focal point for trade in the IndianOcean. In pre-modern times, sailors used seasonal monsoons(mausam, means weather or season in many South Asian languages) toswiftly journey across the Indian Ocean. This trip usuallyinvolved starting from one of the edges of the ocean, aroundtoday’s Indonesia or east Africa, sailing to India, stopping, andallowing another crew to wait for another monsoon to sail to theother edge of the Indian Ocean, as different monsoon winds blew indifferent directions at different times of the year. Crews wouldfrequently winter for months in India or at one of the edges ofthe ocean waiting for another season of monsoons. This allowed forsignificant cultural exchanges as diverse people from differentplaces would often spend months at a time living in foreigncountries (Islam is said to have entered Indonesia in thismanner).

Project Mausam would allow India to reestablish its ties with itsancient trade partners and re-establish an “Indian Ocean world”along the littoral of the Indian Ocean. This world would stretchfrom east Africa, along the Arabian Peninsula, past southern Iranto the major countries of South Asia and thence to Sri Lanka andSoutheast Asia.”

One India and The Diplomat

Russia sends massive new convoy across border into Ukraine

Russia has once again sent a massive convoy of hundreds of large,covered trucks across the border into Ukraine’s sovereign territory,without permission and without any inspection. This time, theRussians didn’t even announce the convoy in advance, but simply sentthe trucks through the border. As in the previous convoys, there’s noway to tell whether the trucks contain “humanitarian aid,” as theRussians claim, or whether they contain weapons to support the Russiansoldiers stationed in Ukraine. Deutsche-Welle and Ria Novosti

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Turkey, Kurds, Syria,Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Bashar al-Assad,India, China, China’s Dream, Xi Jinping, Narendra Modi,Silk Road, Maritime Silk Road, Project Mausam,Russia, Ukraine
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