In the DPRK missile and warhead production is proceeding according to plan to be able to blackmail the us with the threat of annihilation with a capacity to strike major cities with nuclear weapons. Their ambitions haven’t changed. There’s a lot of emphasis in Norkland to build workable submarine launched nuclear missiles. It solves that distance-in-flight metric. If you only have to lob a nuke 20 miles, the change of hitting the target improves. Oahu, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle become viable targets. Nork thinking and planning calls for the threat, after which the US will surrender and allow them to occupy South Korea.
It’s not a bad plan. It would have worked if Obama had stayed in the White House longer. Alas, the two term limit didn’t work out for the Norks — so far.
These plans and intentions didn’t keep the progressive icons in the US (NBC and CNN) from extolling the virtues of the Hermit Kingdom. It’s strange that none of them re-interviewed Otto Warmbier’s parents for a comment.
A senior official of the South Korean Ski Association said South Korea is willing to review the possibility of forming a joint cross-country skiing team with North Korea for the Winter Olympics.
“We could review a plan to form a joint team with athletes from the South and North for the team sprint competition in cross-country skiing,” the official said.
Apparently the negative reaction to the formation of a joint women’s hockey team has not deterred some South Korean officials from considering another joint team.
President Moon’s popularity in South Korea plummeted since the joint-team concept (paid for by South Korea) was initiated for their women’s ice hockey team.
Turks vs Kurds
It’s Day 7 for Operation Olive Branch
CNN-Turk claimed that the Turks are winning. There was a certain glee in the broadcast announcing a body count of Kurdish slain which include women and children, since it was from indiscriminate bombing of towns and Afrin from high altitude. Naturally the number killed reflect the law of averages and not exact numbers. (note the US progressive left isn’t denouncing the high altitude indiscriminate bombing of cities)
Neither side announced changes in the security situation. Turkish Prime Minister Yildirim announced that 300 “terrorists have been killed.” He said that US cooperation with terrorist organizations is “self-humiliating” for the US.
The fact that Turkish armor refuses to move into areas occupied by the Kurds is also “self-humiliating”.
What about the Syrians?
An unidentified Syrian Kurdish authority asked the Damascus government to help defend Afrin. “While we insist that we will continue to defend Afrin against rabid external attacks and will confront the Turkish attempts at occupying Afrin, we invite the Syrian state to carry out its sovereign duties towards Afrin and to protect its borders with Turkey from attack.”
The Syrian government has not responded to this request and probably will not.
Two recent analyses posit that a four-way deal has been reached between Russia, Syria, Iran and Turkey to allow Turkey to bash the Syrian Kurds in exchange for ending the campaign to overthrow the Assad government and normalizing relations.
This hypothesis has not been confirmed, but it provides an explanation for calling the operation “Olive Branch.” Turkish Prime Minister Yildrim recently stated that it was time to restore relations with Syria, despite years of Turkish denunciations of Syrian President Assad.
A four-party deal could have seriously negative implications for the US, if the Turks can defeat the Syrian Kurds. The implications could include pressuring US forces to leave Syria, which would undermine the US “block Iran” policy.
If this analysis is accurate, Syria will not rescue the Syrian Kurds, but will watch the action to see how the Turks perform. If the Syrian Kurds fight the Turks to a stalemate at Afrin, the four-party deal would fall apart. The Turks would be humiliated. Deal making would resume in earnest again.
Turkish President Erdogan told US President Trump in a phone call on 24 January that US troops should withdraw from northern Syria’s Manbij region, Turkey’s foreign minister said on Thursday. The Turks also said they told the US that Kurdish People’s Protection Units and Democratic Union Party elements “must retreat to the east side of the Euphrates River as it was promised before.”
Turkish leaders are working to depict the US as unreliable. They have begun to insult the US leaders in public and to issue orders to them. President Erdogan’s office indicated that the US President’s office lied about the content of the Wednesday phone conversation between the presidents.
Remnants of ISIS in Syria
Al Masdar News (AMN) published an article on 25 January that provides an update on concentrations of Islamic State fighters still active. According to AMN, up to 11,200 fighters continue to resist in six zones. The article provided no information about the sources for the estimates, but the locations correspond to sites of recent fighting. The map (right) is a rough approximation of the concentrations.
The estimated number of fighters in each zone varies, as suggested by the different symbol sizes. Four contain at least 1,000 to 2,000. The largest concentration is in the middle Euphrates River Valley, just south east of Raqqa, with up to 4,000 fighters.
The AMN article is the only recent attempt to scale the continuing fight against the Islamic State. The map and the article are reminders that the reduction in fighting did not result from killing all the Islamic State fighters, but mostly from complicated temporary ceasefire and relocation agreements after tests of military strength. The fight has not ended, and each concentration represents unfinished business.
Another important point is that AMN’s sources report no Islamic State concentrations along the Turkish border
. This might reflect an Arab bias. AMN is an Arab language and Arab-focused online news service. However, the Syrian Kurds fought fiercely to drive the Islamic State jihadists from their towns. The jihadists fled down the Euphrates River.
The map raises serious questions about Turkey’s daily claims of killing Islamic State fighters in Afrin and other Kurdish towns. Astonishingly, a Turkish official claimed on 24 January that the Syrian Kurdish militias are elements of the Islamic State. That mantra was quickly picked up by CNN-Turk. If any of this blog’s readers are surprised by that, they need to bounce over to MSNBC or CNN for the latest attacks on President Trump.
The UN effort isn’t going anywhere. The moderate opposition is still making demands, and the Syrian government said the UN is disqualified from talking about the Syrian constitution.
The Russians invited the Syrian Kurds to attend. On 25 January, a Kurdish spokesman said that the Syrian Kurds declined to attend because of Turkey’s invasion of Syria.
This Russian initiative also has begun to look like a dead end.
More than 33 people have been killed in the central Malian region of Mopti, including 24 in a public service vehicle that hit a landmine.
“A public transport vehicle with commuters travelling from neighboring Burkina Faso for a weekly market in Boni ran over a landmine,” the Maliweb news portal reported. The report further said that there were no survivors.
The other three attacks involved gunfights in the same general region on 24 and 25 January.
Four years after the French Operation Serval rescued Mali from a jihadist threat and despite a huge UN peacekeeping force, central, northern and eastern Mali remain unstable and dangerous.