- Tension Between Turkey and Syria at NATO Border Escalates– An article in Spiegel about the issues at the border between Syria and Turkey (which has the largest army in the Middle East). There have been several incidents spanning several months, including the shelling of a Turkish town and downing of a Turkish aircraft by Assad’s military forces and Turkish army providing weapons to the rebels. What this article points out, though, is that there are several additional issues going on at the border as Turkey is increasing the number of troops stationed there. The first is that Turkey still has a relatively large Kurdish population that may be seeing the Syrian rebellion as another opportunity to attempt independence along with the Syrian Kurds. If this is the case, the Turkish military build up could be directed against them. The second is that if there is another shelling of a Turkish town, the Turkish army may invade Syria. Unmentioned by Spiegel (but appearing in a NPR story) is that there is also an Alawite minority in Turkey that opposes the Turkish government and its ties to the United States and supports Assad. At the same time, stories about videos from al Qaeda fighters promising to come kill all Alawites after they eliminate Assad have surfaced. For anyone keeping score at home, this makes at minimum four distinct groups spanning the Syrian-Turkish border all of whom mistrust and dislike each other.
- China’s Liu Yandong carries the hopes – and fears – of modern feminism– An article in the Guardian about Liu Yandong who is poised to be the first woman on China’s standing committee of the politburo. The author notes that this is a bit a coup for women in China since they have historically been excluded from power (though she points out Mao’s ironic decree that women hold up half the sky), but also that her pronouncements have been conservative and there is no sense that she will push for reforms–either generally or for women specifically–thus limiting the short-term optimism of the move. It is possible, though, that this first step will result in more drastic changes in the future.
- EU Foreign Ministers Agree on Military Deployment in Mali– According to Spiegel, EU leaders have a greed to send military instructors and planners to Mali to help train security forces and thereby stabilize Mali. Much of the country is still held by militant Islamists and nomadic tribesmen. Evidently, the mission is modeled after a similar one in Somalia that began in 2010.
- Gawker, Reddit, Free Speech and Such– Some commentary by John Scalzi about the idea of anonymity on the internet, journalism, and the apparent scandal when a controversial, but anonymous, Reddit user was outed by a reporter at Gawker. He brings up good points about the internet and when and where free speech is applicable. Perhaps the most valuable points he makes are that on websites owned by private companies, users have as much free speech as the company allows, and that true anonymity does not exist–and is not an inherent right–online is delusional. I agree with him, but I should also note that I cannot really speak to Reddit since I can count the number of times I have been to the site on one hand.
As always, comments encouraged. What else is out there?