Thread: The substantial (but incremental) expansion of NATO’s training mission in Iraq announced today [~500 to ~4000] is just continuity of the Trump Administration’s policy of withdrawal from #Syria / #Iraq backfilled by #NATO in order to pivot to Asia
1. DEC. 2019- JAN 2020: US desperate to withdraw from Syria/Iraq and have NATO backfill troops so US CENTCOM assets/commitments would be reduced “and then shifted either to increase readiness of the force in the continental U.S. or shifted into Indo-Pacom."
2. JAN-FEB 2020: Trump, Milley, Esper, Pompeo all start pushing for an expansion of the #NATO mission in Syria/Iraq.
Unfortunately, Soleimani assassination/subsequent tensions with Iran and COVID-19 put all these plans on hold. Everyone bunkers down or withdraws.
"Secretary Austin reiterated recent changes in U.S. policy toward the Saudi-led Coalition in Yemen, discussed the importance of ending the war, and thanked the Crown Prince for Saudi Arabia’s commitment to a political settlement."
SECDEF Austin "underscored Saudi Arabia’s role as a pillar of the regional security architecture in the Middle East and the importance of sharing the responsibility of regional security and stability."
Pompeo: "We, the Americans, look to #Greece as a true pillar for stability and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean, and we are incredibly proud to support its leadership. Our security cooperation has grown tremendously – indeed, by leaps and bounds" state.gov/secretary-mich…
This is an amazing press conference:
#Greece's Prime Minister only mentions Turkey and how amazing it is that the US military support of Greece against Turkey is growing
#Pompeo focuses solely on Russia and China, and other things the PM doesn't mention.
US/#NATO expanding/building several new facilities in #Greece, including the expansion of #Souda Bay
Lavrov spoke with #Yemen's Foreign Minister about "fully restoring diverse #Russian-Yemeni bilateral ties" and "doing everything possible for the return of long-awaited peace and stability in Yemen, and to use contacts with all involved and interested parties...for this purpose."
Extremely disappointed to add Dave Sharma, Liberal MP and former ambassador to #Israel, to the list of #CCP agents of influence in #Australia.
You can tell from the language that he has been spoon-fed these talking points directly by the Communist Party. smh.com.au/world/asia/win…
Sharma: we shouldn't boycott #Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Games over Hong Kong and #Xinjiang because of a "cold-war mentality" and "China's national prestige is on the line," so even symbolic pushback would make the #CCP even more intractable.
Prior to #COVID19, Dave Sharma was one of a bipartisan group of MPs meant to travel to #Beijing on a #CCP-sponsored trip and grovel for Communist forgiveness.
Putin's MENA envoy Bogdanov meets with ambassadors of #Egypt and #Turkey to discuss #Libya; Syrian ambassador to discuss the situation in #Syria; and #Israel's Minister of Environmental Protection Gila Gamliel.
High-level #Russia-#France interdepartmental consultations on #Syria, including Deputy FM Vershinin, MoD representatives, and the Presidential envoys for Syria of both countries, among others.
Of 30 people interviewed harassed by #CCP, only 3 reported.
"Many were reluctant to report because of concerns the Australian government could not protect their families in China. Others said they thought the Australian government was powerless to stop the harassment."
Putin's MENA envoy Bogdanov conducted a Foreign Ministry discussion on importance of Arab-Israeli settlement and solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict for Russian interests, including unifying all Palestinian factions and holding regular pan-Palestinian meetings in Russia
#Hamas' Mousa Abu Marzook called Bogdanov to discuss Palestinian unity efforts and the potential for holding pan-Palestinian meeting in Russia alongside bilateral contacts.
Six Chinese citizens believed to have engaged in espionage or foreign interference in #Australia on behalf of the #CCP have either been denied re-entry into the country or have left after being questioned by intelligence agencies theaustralian.com.au/nation/politic…
-Chinese scholar and media commentator Chen Hong
-Australian studies scholar Li Jianjun
-Australia bureau chief of China News Service Tao Shelan
-China Radio International’s Sydney bureau chief Li Dayong
- 2 other unidentified 'journalists'
"It is understood the four journalists were not spies inserted into Australia, posing as reporters, but journalists who had become engaged in espionage or foreign interference."
Another Australian, Cheng Lei ('journalist' for CCP propaganda channel CGTN and former partner of Nick Coyle, the chief executive of the China-Australian Chamber of Commerce in Beijing) taken hostage by the #CCPtheaustralian.com.au/nation/politic…
The Australian government is openly desperate to pretend this has nothing to do with bilateral relations and could be related to social media posts or internal power struggles.
The CCP's Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin has criticised the secrecy of the arrest as a propaganda failure.
The consulate is home to 10 diplomats, trade and intelligence officers from China, the largest presence of any foreign nation in SA.
Federal Labor and Liberal MPs are questioning why a small city such as Adelaide has such a highly-staffed Chinese consulate.
SA Xinjiang Association (United Front Work Department) "are predominantly Adelaide-based Han Chinese but wear Uighur costume and perform songs and dances and profess their happiness under communist rule."
Leader of the #DFLP Qais Abd al-Karim (Abu Layla) called Putin's MENA envoy Bogdanov to discuss another pan-Palestinian summit in Moscow in order to build a united front against US/Israel approach.
The Middle East 'Quartet' held a teleconference, in which Russia, supported by EU and UN, stressed that Israeli-UAE normalisation is not a substitute for 2SS and that direct negotiations within the international legal framework need to be restarted.
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Joey Hood and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq David Copley, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs On the Recent U.S.-#Iraq Strategic Dialogue state.gov/principal-depu…
"The President has directed us to get our forces down to lower levels as quickly as possible"
No sign US expects anything tangible from GOI in terms of its commitments to protect US troops/Iraqi civilians from #IRGC militias.
On Kataib #Hezbollah: "We expect to see the Iraqi Government increasingly asserting itself as it turns its focus from entirely on ISIS to getting sovereign control over all of its territory again from all groups, no matter what they look like."