16 November 2019   Leave a comment

For the first time in the 5 months of protests in Hong Kong, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been dispersed in the streets, purportedly to “clean up” the streets. The move undoubtedly signals the growing unease of the Beijing government over the protests, and we shall have to see whether the PLA will take more active steps to quell the demonstrations. The student protesters have erected barricades on their campuses and are allegedly making Molotov cocktails. But the central government still faces a serious decision. Sending in the troops would likely inflame tensions even more and would be perceived by many as a confession of failure on the part of the Beijing government. But the protests have taken a real toll on the Hong Kong economy. China relies heavily on Hong Kong to be a conduit for capital from the outside world which trusts the Hong Kong legal system more than the legal system in Beijing. Already, many international universities have pulled their study abroad students out of Hong Kong for fears of the safety of the students. The US government has yet to formulate a clear response to the challenges posed by the protests.

The International Institute for Strategic Studies has published a very informative article on Iran’s strategic intent. The article points out how Iran has been pursuing a very robust foreign policy in the Middle East since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2003:

“By 2019, Iran’s influence in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen had become a new normal in a region where such a concept would have once been unthinkable by the region’s leaders, including those in Tehran. Iran had achieved much of this change using a transnational Shia militancy, capable of fighting with varying degrees of skill and discipline, which confronted different Iranian adversaries on disconnected battlefields simultaneously.

“No state has been so active, and perhaps as effective, as Iran in regional conflicts in modern times. The list of Iran’s actions against regional targets is long: Iranian personnel and equipment have conducted offensive cyber attacks, enabled naval attacks in the Red Sea, and missile and UAV attacks on Saudi Arabia and its population. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC’s) Quds Force operations have sparked hundreds of Israeli airstrikes against Iranian and Iranian-backed-group sites in Syria. Iran has also maintained small ground forces in Syria, Yemen and sometimes Iraq.”

The article is incredibly detailed and will be useful for anyone who wishes to understand Iran’s intentions and capabilities in the Middle East.

Posted November 16, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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