23 January 2018   Leave a comment

US Secretary of Defense Mattis has publicly stated that the US recognizes Indonesia’s claim to an area of the South China Sea that China claims as part of its sovereign territory.  The area is now called the “North Natuna Sea” by Indonesia and Indonesia asserts that the sea is within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Indonesia.  All states have the right to regulate the resources within a 200-mile area from its territorial boundaries, and there is some evidence of oil and natural gas resources near Natuna Island.  Mattis is on a trip to Vietnam and Indonesia to foster better ties with those countries and to counterbalance Chinese influence in the region–the balance of power game never rests.


North Korean vessels have visited Russian ports more frequently than Chinese ports in the second half of 2017, a marked change from traditional patterns.  The shift reflects Chinese tightening of economic contacts with North Korea because of the UN Security Council contacts.  But the Russians, who have also signed onto the sanctions, appear to be taking up the slack.  Russia could easily supply North Korea with petroleum and coal, both of which are critical imports for North Korea.  US President Trump has been quite critical of China’s support for North Korea, but he only called out Russia for its support on 17 January.  The Russians deny that they have violated the sanctions.


The Pew Research Center has conducted a poll on how Americans regard the state of Israel and the results find a striking divide between Democrats and Republicans.  The poll results show that

“The partisan divide in Middle East sympathies, for Israel or the Palestinians, is now wider than at any point since 1978. Currently, 79% of Republicans say they sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians, compared with just 27% of Democrats.

“Since 2001, the share of Republicans sympathizing more with Israel than the Palestinians has increased 29 percentage points, from 50% to 79%. Over the same period, the share of Democrats saying this has declined 11 points, from 38% to 27%.”

Support for Israel overall remains quite strong, but the poll results shows sharp difference based on age and religious affiliation.  Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is a lightning rod for much criticism.

Posted January 23, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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