World View: Russian Jets Fly over Ukraine's Air Space

World View: Russian Jets Fly over Ukraine's Air Space

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Suicide bombers strike hardline Shia campaign rally in Baghdad Iraq
  • Nigeria’s government under fire over schoolgirl abduction
  • Russian jets fly over Ukraine’s air space

Suicide bombers strike hardline Shia campaign rally in Baghdad Iraq

Suicide bombers killed 31 people Friday at a campaign rally inBaghdad, Iraq, attended by thousands of supporters of Asaib Ahl al-Haqgroup, a hardline militant Shia group backed by Iran and modeledafter Lebanon’s Hezbollah. The Sunni Muslim terroristgroup Islamic Emirate in Iraq and Syria/Sham/theLevant (ISIS or ISIL), which was previously affiliated with al Qaeda but was recently disavowed by AQ, claimed responsibility for the bombing. 

ISIS is the group that has been fighting both the Bashar al-Assadregime in Syria and also his moderate opposition. ISIS is becomingwell-established in both eastern Syria and western Iraq, as secularShia/Sunni tensions grow throughout the Mideast. Next Wednesday’selection in Iraq will be the first since the US pulled out combat troops in2011. AP and BBC

Nigeria’s government under fire over schoolgirl abduction

The Nigerian people are frustrated and outraged about the fact thatthe government appears to be doing absolutely nothing to find thelocation of schoolgirls, aged 16-18, who were kidnapped by BokoHaram under cover of darkness on April 16. Attempts were made toabduct 230 girls, but 43 escaped. 

The girls were abducted and carried away in trucks for many miles, andthe security forces did nothing to stop them. Since then, the armyappears to be doing nothing to recover the girls. They’re not searching through forests orfollowing up on other leads, as far as anyone can tell. Thegovernment has done nothing but produce a couple of reports, but eventhose have not been released to the public. Many people believe thatsome people in the government and the army arecomplicit with Boko Haram. Nigeria’s president Goodluck Jonathan claimed at arecent church service that Boko Haram members had infiltratedthe government, and now police officials are demanding that Jonathanprovide the names of the suspects. 

Nigeria is half Christian and half Muslim, and this case has dividedthe public along religious lines. The Christians believe that Muslimsin general are complicit with Boko Haram, while the Muslims believedthat they’re all being unfairly blamed for the horrific actions of aterrorist gang. The kidnappings took place in the far north, which ismostly Muslim where military operations in the past have beenextremely violent, so much of the public is resisting intrusion by thearmy, despite the kidnappings. 

Defenders of the government and the army point out that the area wherethe girls are being held is remote and heavily forested. It’s alsoclose to Cameroon, which means that they could slip though porousborders into nearby countries, including Chad or Niger. 

Although this incident is unique in Nigeria’s history and has shockedthe entire nation, Boko Haram has abducted girls before, and when theyflee to escape the police, they leave the girls behind and abduct newgirls. Christian girls in the past who have been rescued weresometimes found to be pregnant or have children, and others had beenforcibly converted to Islam and married off to their kidnappers.Daily Post (Nigeria) All Africa andCNN

Russian jets fly over Ukraine’s air space

Russian military aircraft entered Ukrainian airspace several time onThursday and Friday, raising tensions in eastern Ukraine. Earlier, pro-Russian separatists seized a bus carrying internationalmilitary observers near the eastern Ukraine town of Sloviansk, whichis under control of the activists. Talks are underway to free them. 

There have been a few abductions, casualties, and deaths inthe eastern Ukraine saga, but apart from those, the situation looksmore and more like a circus. I personally just can’t wrap my mindaround the concept that this region is on the verge of a major war. 

There’s plenty of rhetoric to go around. You have the government inKiev saying, “The world has not yet forgotten World War II, but Russiais already keen on starting World War III.” You have Russia’s foreignminister Sergei Lavrov responding, “The West wants — and this ishow it all began — to seize control of Ukraine because of their ownpolitical ambitions, not in the interests of the Ukrainian people.”And in the middle ring of the three-ring circus is Russia’s armed forceson Ukraine’s eastern border, with soldiers running around, tanksrolling around, and warplanes flying around to thrill people. 

In the meantime, there’s no upsurge of violence from the people. Thepro-Russian and pro-Kiev activists are rising up and killing eachother. The pro-Russian activists have taken over government buildingsin Sloviansk and other villages, but that’s more a 1960s-styleAlinsky-esque protest tactic rather than a war. And if Russia’spresident Vladimir Putin really wanted to invade and risk gettingbogged down in a lengthy war, then he would have done so already. 

It’s worth noting that Russia already has its hands full dealing withthe Tatars in Crimea, and that Standard & Poors ratings agency onFriday reduced the investment value of Russian bonds to near “junk”status. Russia’s economy is a wreck. 

I could be wrong (this is not a Generational Dynamics prediction), butmy personal opinion is that eastern Ukraine is nowhere near war, andRussia is nowhere near an invasion. In other words, Putin isbluffing in order to keep the pro-Russian activists happy and togain maximum leverage with the Kiev government and with the West.There may be isolated incidents of violence, and it’s possible thatthings will get worse as the May 25 elections approach, but for thetime being, I expect the circus to continue as it is. BBC and AP

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Iraq, Asaib Ahl al-Haq,Islamic Emirate in Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, ISIS, ISIL,Syria, Bashar al-Assad, Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, Boko Haram,Ukraine, Russia, Vladimir Putin, Sloviansk 

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