Turkey's invasion of Iraq
It was long in the pipline, but Turkey is going full-steam ahead with its invasion of Iraq to destroy the Kurdish PKK. Turkey and the PKK are into their 5th day of combat.
Turkey claims to have killed 153 PKK soldiers and lost 17 troops. The PKK has countered that claim, stating it has killed 81 Turkish soldiers.
The powerless Iraqi government was isolated in its pleas for Turkey to withdraw and respect its sovereignty. That sounds quite comical considering the sovereignty of Iraq has been violated by the US and the UK for five years now.
The regional powers are remaining tight lipped on Turkey's operation. In a rare sign of common interest, all rival sides appear to be backing Turkey. Ankara has received the blessing of Syria and Iran (both states share Turkey's concerns of greater Kurdish autonomy in Iraq), as well as the green light from the US and EU. Once again, the Kurds are taking the fight up without any external assistance.
Or are they?
I recall reading an article perhaps over 12 months ago revealing widespread Israeli assistance to the Kurds, including military training. It has long been an Arab allegation that the Kurds share close ties to Israel, whether it is true or not remains to be seen.
Serbs still venting Kosovo anger
Rioting has unabated in Kosovo and Belgrade, with Serbs refusing to allow their nation be partitioned by foreigners.
A quote from a pro-Western Serb sums up the hurt and anger, "“I would be spitting on America, cursing Europeans, saying, ‘You are stealing our territory, just because you are bigger and you can do it.’" Full article can be read here.
The US has stated Kosovo will never rejoin Serbia, whilst high-profile Russian officials visited Belgrade to demonstrate their support.
It is a new tug of war between the two global powers, what will this mean for Serbia and Kosovo? Has this backfired in the face of the US? Did they expect that so few nations would move to recognise Kosovo?
They have created another quagmire that could've been avoided. The opposition from Serbia was anticipated, but the amount of international rejections for recognition must have come as a shock to the West. Russia is not isolated in its calls for the annulment of Kosovo's declaration, and that is troubling for the West. They have a fight on their hands, a fight they created, a fight that could have and should have been avoided.
The New York Times asks whether it is the "last gasp of Serb anger" or "first breath of future Balkan turmoil". I'm not sure the West will be able to prevent a fallout in the Balkans, particularly if the Russians are insistent on making life hell for Kosovo (and are not alone at doing it).
Human aspect non-existent
It is pitiful that in both the cases of Turkey-Kurdistan-Iraq and Serbia-Kosovo, the humanitarian aspect is once again swept under the carpet. We are not simply toying with politics and power struggles, we are toying with peoples lives. We forget too often the simple fact that ordinary people live in these regions with the hope of enjoying a normal life.
We appear arrogant in giving the impression to the world that only those of us within Western borders have the right to a peaceful life. Well we shouldn't complain when millions of people from the troubled regions that we have exploited come pouring through our borders seeking a speck of the life we take for granted.
The Arabs might be heralding the Turkish attempt to crush the Kurds, but ethnic and tribal rivalries do not surpass the humanitarian aspect for this Arab. I was in Lebanon when Israel made a larger-scale incursion of the country in 2006. When reality hits, when death and misery is abound, all the labels we impose to differentiate between ourselves vanish. At the end of the day, we all seek the same means to survive.
Cyprus goes Communist, Cuba remains Communist
The European Union will welcome its first Communist Head of State, Demetris Christofias of Cyprus.
Our (Lebanon) neighbours (and former colony 3,000 years ago) out in the sea elected the left-wing leader over the weekend. Christofias is promising action on reunification with the Turkish north, hopefully bringing to an end decades of division and tension.
To the contrary, Communist Cuba's Castro #2 is not promising any change. Raul Castro stated he will continue consulting Fidel on policy, and has appointed the old-guard from the revolution era to key positions.