Syria’s new front? A commander of US-backed Kurdish forces currently engaged in the final battle for al-Raqqa believes that the fall of ISIS might be delayed because of a looming confrontation between his troops and invading Turkish forces. Sami Moubayed writes that the last thing Syria needs is another frontline but the Kurds, who claim they are being ‘sacrificed by the Kremlin’ as part of a geopolitical Russian-Turkish pact, say if forced, they will fight.
Washington sanctioning Beijing? Yet another North Korean missile launch and a growing realization that China is not going to help with North Korea pushed the Trump Administration to impose sanctions against a Chinese bank, two individuals, and a shipping firm for facilitating illegal transactions with the rogue state. Grant Newsham writes that if the Trump administration is prepared to play really rough with China over North Korea, sanctions have to be broadly applied and punitive.
China-Russia media alliance: On the sidelines of the July 4 summit between Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, a less publicized event was held that could have long-lasting implications, reports Zi Yang. Besides inking long-term partnership agreements, the 120 representatives from 75 media outlets recognized the media’s role in facilitating better friendship between the Chinese and Russian people, as well as with re-balancing Western-led global opinion.
Sikkim border tensions: Many believe the on-going border standoff at Sikkim could be resolved if Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to have a one-on-one meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit. E Jaya Kumar writes that China said the atmosphere is not conducive for such talks with India also confirming it has not sought a bilateral meeting and the two countries terse approach reflects the current mood between Beijing and New Delhi.
Hanoi’s rights crackdown: A growing crackdown on dissent in Vietnam comes as the country reaches towards the US and the European Union for new trade deals to lessen its rising economic reliance on China. Helen Clark reports that the international community hoped the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership would provide a framework to push Vietnam towards progress on human rights and government transparency but this disappeared when Donald Trump’s administration withdrew from the multilateral trade pact.