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World View: US Escalates Tensions with Plans for Patrols, Aircraft in South China Sea

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Nusra Front vows to eradicate ISIS in Qalamoun on Syria/Lebanon border
  • US escalates tensions with plans for patrols, aircraft in South China Sea
  • Vatican to recognize State of Palestine while canonizing Palestinian nuns

Nusra Front vows to eradicate ISIS in Qalamoun on Syria/Lebanon border

The Syrian border town of Assal al-Ward, in the Qalamoun region. (AP)
The Syrian border town of Assal al-Ward, in the Qalamoun region. (AP)

Qalamoun, a mountainous region of Syria that is on the border with Lebanon, is becoming the site for a fierce fight between two Sunni jihadist militias, the Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) versus al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front (Jabhat al-Nusra). In the past, al-Nusra had avoided clashes with ISIS along the Lebanon border because the two groups were “the advocates of the same ideology” and because the two groups had to cooperate to fight against the Iran-backed Lebanon Shia terrorist group Hezbollah. However, according to an al-Nusra statement, ISIS has kidnapped one al-Nusra group, tortured them by beating them with rifles, and threatened to behead them. That triggered the current fighting, and a vow by al-Nusra to eradicate ISIS from Qalamoun.

This is presumably good news for Hezbollah, which is involved in a fierce battle in Qalamoun against both al-Nusra and ISIS, to prevent these militias from crossing the border into Lebanon. Hezbollah is claiming significant victories in this clash, but some reports indicate that Hezbollah has suffered significant losses. Daily Star (Lebanon) and Al Monitor and Daily Star (Lebanon) and Debka (Israel)

US escalates tensions with plans for patrols, aircraft in South China Sea

As China continues to annex other countries’ territories in the South China Sea, using military force with impunity, the US military may use aircraft and Navy ships to directly confront China, in a tit for tat escalation of tensions.

China has been annexing regions in the South China Sea that have historically belonged to other countries, and continues a massive military push to enforce its seizures. China has claimed the entire South China Sea, including regions historically belonging to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan and the Philippines. China’s claims are rejected by almost everyone outside of China, and China refuses to submit them to the United Nations court deciding such matters, apparently knowing that they would lose.

In recent months, China has repeatedly escalated the military aggression by using land reclamation projects to construct man-made islands for military bases and airports in regions surrounding the Spratly Islands that have previously belonged to Vietnam and the Philippines.

There’s no word on how the American naval vessels and aircraft will be used, or whether there are conditions beyond self-defense under which they would take military action. They are going to be used for patrols, according to reports, “to underscore the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.” However, this could be interpreted as allowing for defense of Vietnamese or Philippine vessels being harassed by the Chinese.

The US will stay within international waters, but according to China, there are no international waters within the South China Sea, since China claims everything.

Thus, we have the following statement expressing “grave concern” from China’s Foreign Ministry:

We express grave concern about the relevant U.S. remarks. It’s necessary for the U.S. to provide clarification.

China advocates the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, yet the freedom definitely does not mean that foreign military vessels and aircrafts can enter one country’s territorial waters and airspace at will. China will stay firm in safeguarding territorial sovereignty. …

We urge parties concerned to be discreet in words and actions, avoid taking any risky and provocative actions and safeguard regional peace and stability.

So if the US is patrolling in “international waters” in the South China Sea, and China claims the entire South China Sea as its “territorial waters,” then what steps will China take to “stay firm in safeguarding territorial sovereignty”?

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is exactly the kind of tit-for-tat escalation that leads to full scale war during a generational Crisis era, when nationalism and xenophobia are at their highest. At some point, as actions escalate, one side or the other will, by miscalculation, by accident or by intention, take a military action that requires a response, and then things can spiral quickly out of control. CNN and Xinhua and Bloomberg

Vatican to recognize State of Palestine while canonizing Palestinian nuns

The Vatican will sign a treaty on Saturday officially recognizing the State of Palestine. The Vatican has been unofficially referring to the State of Palestine for over a year, but now the treaty makes it official. On Sunday, two nuns who lived in Ottoman Palestine during the 1800s will be canonized and made saints. Vatican News and AFP and YNet (Israel)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Qalamoun, Syria, Lebanon, Hezbollah, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Nusra Front, South China Sea, Vietnam, Philippines, Vatican, State of Palestine
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