Here we are 2 years in to the Syrian Civil War that was sparked by the Arab Spring…70,000 dead, hundreds of thousands of refugees, and no end in site to the suffering. Instead of trying to make any grand predictions about the future of this mess, or to try and explain all the historical intricacies that lead up to it, the Professor is simply offering up a short list of players involved in the struggle for control and the soul of this state….and indeed outlines why this particular face-off could be the start of a greater regional showdown between Shia and Sunni Islam
Keywords: Syria, civil war, Shia, Alawite, Sunni, Islam, Iran, Hezbollah, Lebanon, Turkey, Israel, USA, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Arab, Arab Spring, Arab States
Our Chinese and Korean friends are once again up in arms about some top Japanese officials paying their respects to their war dead at a place called the Yasukuni Shrine. Current Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe did not actually himself visit…but lots of others from his cabinet and political party did! And Abe’s particular sense of nationalism, his current popularity, and the current military escalations in the region all point to a possible “re-birth” of nationalistic pride in Japan…with possible big repercussions for Japan, its constitution, and it’s relationship with the neighborhood. Learn. More. Here.
Keywords: Japan, China, South Korea, Yasukuni, shrine, Taro, Aso, nationalism, right-wing, war dead, war criminals, war atrocities, LDP, Liberal Democratic Party, constitution, Self-Defence Force, Senkaku, North Korea, USA, military, Pacific
A Turkish court just sentenced a concert pianist 10 months of jail time for ‘insulting religion.’ Say what? I thought Turkey was a total secular society and well established democracy where such things are unheard of? Indeed! Thus my interest in the story! Is this ruling a sign that Turkey’s ruling AK Party is moving to make the country “more religious”….or is it just an example of a typical conservative issue that occurs in societies the world over? Hmmm…maybe a little of both, but in Turkey’s case the outcome of such a shift will have influence in other Islamic states across the region, and the world.
It finally happened! The months-ago anointed new leaders of China have officially taken the helm of Asia’s super-power state! Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang are the new President and Premiere/Prime Minister, respectively, of China….and will likely maintain that status for the next decade. What are these guys going to do, going to focus on, and what may change in China with the change-out of leaders? The Professor examines some possible policy shifts, but much continuity, with these Chinese chaps, in the physical context of their coming-out to the world party at Boao; an international think-tank forum….yet another sign of the changing times that brings more focus to Asia, and China in particular.
Forgive my bluntness, but this wanna-be demi-god of North Korea, Kim Jong-Un, is making monumentally stupid moves at this point that are going to have repercussions far beyond the current Korean crisis. As he ramps up the insanity and provocations, it is not the USA that is changing its strategy: it may be that South Korea and Japan make moves towards nuclear armament themselves! And who stands to lose the most in an escalated Asian arms race? China, who can’t be too none happy about any of this mess! Dig this Professor pontification on this Korean conundrum….
Keywords: North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China, USA, war, provocation, escalation, arms race, nuclear, nuclear weapon, nuclear arms, nuclear energy, enrichment, threat, arms race, Asia