If anyone is wondering why there were no new posts for the past week or so. The answer is simple. There is no change in the overall foreign policy situation. Our current actions around the world are basically on the autopilot.
The situation in Afghanistan remains the same. We are slowly withdrawing forces from the country. Unfortunately not all forces will be gone by the end of the year. This combined with the continued material support for the Afghan government, allows that same government to continue its corrupt existence. There are no reforms that I can see. Which unfortunately only further undermines our stated strategy there of a stable Afghan government, whatever tactical successes we achieve. I foresee no major change in the situation there, except possible acceleration of Taliban takeover of the rural Pushtu areas.
Iraq remains the same mess. The Iraqi army on which we wasted billions of dollars, remains incapable of even basic combat operations. The Shia and Kurdish militias (I know I’m mixing religion and ethnicity together) remain capable of protecting the areas under their control. While at the same time the Sunni groups remain in control of the Sunni territory. It is highly unlikely the government in Baghdad will be able to regain control of these areas without major concessions, which are also unlikely. After all, most of the Iraqi oil is located in the Shia and Kurdish areas. What do the Sunnis have to offer to Iraq? Nothing. Therefore the de facto partition will remain, the only question is when that partition becomes fact that everyone accepts. Wherever the outcome of the tactical events on the periphery of the Sunni controlled zone, the events on the ground will ensure that the respective militias remain in control of their areas.
Our strategy in the Middle East remains lacking. We continue to provide support to forces fighting ISIL while we still do nothing to address the sources of ISIL support in Turkey, the Gulf, and Saudi Arabia. Given the fact that there are no US troops on the ground involved in fighting, the US public doesn’t really care. That all can change however if one of the Apaches at Baghdad International gets shot down as the Iraqi Mi-35 was a few days ago. Likelihood of that happening is extremely low, but it is still possible.
In Asia, the comeback of the latest Kim to public life is definitely interesting, but not strategically significant. Mr Kim’s reappearance in the public eye as depicted by the North Korean propaganda appears to indicate he is still in control. Which will depend on how quickly Kim is able to replace the old guard with people loyal to him. If that happens in a sequence of events where the old guard resistance is destroyed before they can organize, then in the long run Mr. Kim’s hold on power will only be stronger than before. Lets not forget that in the totalitarian society, purges produce the same effects that elections produce in democracy, that is they bring new blood to power. Whatever way it plays out it will be interesting to see. Given Kim’s youth it is surprising that he still remains in power in a society that expects difference to older people from the young.
What I’m watching now is the US-Iranian nuclear deal deadline which is coming up at the end of next months. If successful it could be one of those truly important strategic decision that could alter the face of the Middle East. However there are forces both in US and Iran which are against any change in relations between the two countries. It remains to be seen which side will be more successful.