Why Assad, why? The world has struggled to explain why President Bashar al-Assad used nerve gas in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in northern Syria’s Idlib province. Stephen Bryen argues the more likely truth is that Assad was deeply afraid that the US policy shift was part of a secret deal with the Russians and was one that he had to head off.
Trump’s Tomahawk warning: Fifty-nine Tomahawk missiles, launched from the USS Porter and USS Ross in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, struck multiple targets at the Syrian government Shayrat Air Base on Thursday night. Asia Times writes that this relatively quick US response to the Syrian government’s chemical assault comes as Trump faces a growing list of global problems and may have been intended to send a message to friends and foes alike of his resolve to use military force if deemed necessary.
Duterte’s island bluff: In a remarkable turn, Rodrigo Duterte ordered Filipino troops to assert sovereignty in the disputed Spratlys, with the Philippine President even promising to personally go to the islands and raise a national flag. Richard Javad Heydarian writes that Duterte’s threats are more likely bluster in response to growing domestic political pressure and Philippine defense officials rapidly moved to clarify the orders, saying they planned only to upgrade existing facilities on already inhabited features.
Amazon’s China growth: The logistics business of Amazon is helping the company finally tap into the Chinese market, after facing difficulties gaining traction with their online retail services in the country. Asia Times reports that the company’s shipping push is quietly growing and Amazon’s main rival on the global online retail scene, China’s Alibaba, will be watching closely as it does not yet own logistics infrastructure of its own.