marshall.lewis's blog

Trump's Positions on DACA

An incomplete chronological list of Trump's positions on DACA:

1) Supports DACA in spirit, but has concerns that it isn't enshrined in law.

2) Continues DACA.

3) Kills DACA, but gives Congress six months to find a legislative solution.

4) Undermines his own threat by hinting that he'll fix it himself if Congress doesn't.

5) Privately commits to a clean Dream Act.

6) Publicly promises to sign whatever Congress agrees on without making demands of his own.

7) Demands funding for the wall.

Afrin has fallen to Turkey

Afrin has fallen to Turkey and is being looted and culturally cleansed. Large portions of the Kurdish population have already left.

The question now is if Turkey will attack Manbij. If it does, it could bring the Turkish army into direct conflict with US troops. That, in turn, would lead to either war between the US and Turkey or American withdrawal in the face of Turkish aggression. I'm honestly not sure which one is worse.

This is a "Hitler annexes the Sudetenland" moment. If Turkish expansionism is not checked, it could lead to a wider ethnic war against the Kurds.

A rare agreement with Trump

This is another rare instance where I agree with Trump. There are major gaps between the US and the DPRK on a huge number of issues, but a large part of the bad relations between the two countries comes from constant failure to communicate.

Syria Update February 2018

There are reports that al-Qaeda (namely Hayat Tahrir al-Sham) is getting kicked out of a bunch of locations in Idlib, including Deiret Izza and Kafranbel. It looks like it's a new group (groups? operation room?) that's doing it, but I'm seeing a number of possible names for them. Based on the iconography on one of the press releases, I'd guess they're moderate Islamist, but Zinki (the militant group, not the Secretary of the Interior) also seems to be involved, which would suggest they have more of an edge to them.

I swear this war gets weirder every day.

Turkish tanks in Aleppo

Turkish tanks are going deep into Aleppo to head off a potential regime offensive toward Foua and Kafraya. This is the offensive I expected the government to make after defeating ISIS in the east. There are a bunch of important strategic targets along the way, it would have allowed them to threaten Idlib and Saraqib, diverting rebel forces away from the front lines in Hama, and it would have severely disrupted rebel supply chains to the south.

Turkish forces in Afrin

SYRIA UPDATE: Turkish ground forces have entered the Kurdish canton of Afrin, making minor headway in three locations in the north. There's also been heavy fighting in the south by Jandaris, but it sounds like they haven't made as much progress there. Turkish-aligned rebel groups are also attacking the canton from the east.

Syria Update January 2018

SYRIA UPDATE: As we enter 2018, I thought I'd take a quick look back at the events of 2017, to refresh the memories of old friends and bring new ones up to speed. I usually post an update whenever something major happens, but it can be difficult to synthesize that information into a coherent view of the conflict.

More Oil for the SDF

The tribal forces protecting the Omar oil field (the biggest in the country) just defected to the Kurds. The regime reached the southwestern edge of the oil field about a week ago, but has been very slow to consolidate its beachhead, and still hadn't made any moves to take the oil field itself.

US Troops in Niger

Someone in a comment thread asked some questions about why there were any US troops in Niger in the first place, and what the general situation is. Here are my answers, posted here for curious minds:

Q: Exactly what the fuck are we doing in Niger?

Losses for the Iraqi Kurds

The Iraqi Kurds continue to lose vast swaths of territory. Forces loyal to Baghdad have now secured all of Kirkuk's oil fields, along with all of the disputed border crossings. Yazidi PMU have also taken control of the Sinjar region, finally solidifying the region's already ongoing shift away from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) and towards Baghdad.

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