Guest author William Bayless: William spent 9 years on active duty Navy as an analyst with 2 years aboard the USS John F. Kennedy and duty stations in Maryland and the United Kingdom. He has an MBA as well as a two year degree in Information Systems and a solid foundation of basic cyber security principles and concepts.
The Syrian Conflict
The Syrian War started in 2011 as an uprising and protests against the government of Syria led by Bashar al-Assad. Originally, the rebel forces were known as the Free Syrian Army, but later splintered into several different groups, one of which is ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant). The conflict is complex, with several internal and external groups and nations fighting for control of Syria and Northern Iraq.
This conflict has grown in complexity with more groups and nations being pulled into it since the beginning in 2011, and all have participated in varying degrees. The major world players are Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Lebanon, Russia and the United States. Some of major non-state groups involved are: The Free Syrian Army, ISIL, the Kurds, and various other rebel groups.
Developments: The town of Deraa, in southern Syria has been shelled by Syrian forces and has left at least 20 dead, while the Russians continue to help Bashar al-Assad. Estimates are that over 50,000 people are trying to reach the country of Jordan to escape the fighting.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to discuss the situation in Syria with President Donald Trump in their July 2018 meeting.
War in Donbass, Ukraine, Ukranian/Russian conflict
This conflict started in March of 2014 when pro-Russian rebels in the Donbass (Eastern Ukraine) took control of government buildings after the successful annexation of the Crimea near the Black Sea by Russia. This conflict is complex with both Russian and Ukrainian forces involved as well as pro-Russian rebel groups and separatists as well as Ukrainian militia groups involved. The Russian government is also thought to have played a major role in large-scale election meddling and cyber attacks on Ukranian power grids and infrastructure during this conflict.
Developments: This conflict is also on the agenda for topics to be discussed when President Trump and Vladimir Putin meet in July. Also, according to the Kyiv Post, there has been four Ukrainian troops killed this past week in Eastern Ukraine.
For the United States, major operations started after the September 11, 2001 attacks from the Al Qaeda terrorist organization. Following the September 11 attacks which were planned and coordinated by Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, the United States attacked on October 7, 2001 in retaliation for the 9/11 attacks and has since been involved with the long conflict in Afghanistan. The conflict is now the longest in U.S. history and with thousands of troops still deployed it will take more time to ensure that it will not degrade back to a pre-9/11 condition, which was a hotbed of terrorist and extremist ideologies.
Developments: There has recently been a positive development in the nearly 40 decades of constant fighting in Afghanistan with a full 3-day ceasefire during a holiday known as Eid al-Fitr. This ceasefire was first put into effect by government forces and the Taliban soon accepted in kind. What is significant about this ceasefire is the rarity that both Taliban and government forces were seen together and peacefully in a country that is usually immersed in war. The Taliban rejected the offer to extend the ceasefire, and though it ended after a few days this was a significant break in the fighting. This ceasefire has given many a sliver of hope in the decades of fighting within Afghanistan.
Mexican Drug Wars
The Mexican Drug wars have been bloody for decades, but the modern drug war (as referred to in the media) was generally thought to have started in 2006, when Mexican President Felipe Calderón sent over 6,000 Mexican troops to his native state of Michoacán. As a result, the drug wars have gotten significantly worse and tens of thousands of murders have occurred since then, which was a dramatic increase from before 2006. Mexico’s drug wars have claimed up to tens of thousands of lives a year, with many reports of escalating brutality such as beheadings and torture.
Developments: Many expect Mexico’s new President to be López Obrador; he has indicated that he is open to allowing many of those non-violent criminals within the cartel to be given amnesty. The proposal to give amnesty is controversial inside and outside Mexico, as the cartels are thought to have committed tens of thousands of murders every year in their struggle for dominance of the drug trade.
Featured image courtesy of the Associated Press.