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: Over 300,000 people are reported to have been displaced from the town of Daraa, Syria, which is in the southern part of Syria close to both the borders of Israel and Jordan. Both Israel and Jordan have closed their borders to those fleeing the pro-government forces which have recently taken the town of Daraa back from anti-government rebels.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has issued an interim report that they believe there was a chemical agent used in an attack on Douma, Syria, on April 7, 2018. The report does not include who they believe is responsible for the use of a chlorine agent, nor were there any indications of any nerve agents.
War in Donbass, Ukraine, Ukrainian/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 Ukrainian power grids and infrastructure during this conflict.
Developments: Nothing significant to report, although this conflict is on the agenda for topics to be discussed when President Trump and Vladimir Putin meet in July.
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: The DOD has identified a U.S. Army Soldier, killed in action. He was Cpl. Joseph Maciel from South Gate, CA, and he served in the 3rd Infantry Division from Ft. Benning. Cpl. Maciel was KIA on July 7, 2018 in support of the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade. It appears that this was an insider attack, which means an Afghan soldier or other trusted personnel potentially turned on Cpl. Maciel — the investigation is underway and more facts will come to light as time goes on.
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: Mexico has elected Andrés Manuel López Obrador as new incoming President of Mexico and is expected to take over December 1st, 2018. He is reportedly considering a big change in how Mexico deals with its drug cartels and the war on drugs which has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives since major developments in 2006. He is considering a number of new strategies such as more opportunities for the youth (for example, scholarships to divert them away from the drug cartels), more security at the ports, as well as having the military move away from law enforcement and more of an emphasis on police taking over more law enforcement duties. This is according to Olga Sánchez Cordero, who is Obrador’s proposed interior minister.
Featured image: Jordanian troops patrol at the Jordanian side of Naseeb border crossing into Syria one day after Syrian army recovered southern territories of Daraa province from insurgents under a surrender deal mediated by Russia. Saturday. July 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)