Roundup 188

New Events

North-West Africa

Algeria: one general takes over from another – Economist

North Africa / Warring States

Turkey, flexing muscles, to send troops to Libya – NYT
… pro-government, anti-Hifter (UAE/Saudi/Egypt/Russia).

Russia, Turkey in delicate dance in Eastern Med – Asia Times

Then they, together, present a call for a cease fire – NYT
… ‘competition over who defines the international framework for peace’

Libya civil war creates opening for ISIS return as counterterrorism effort falters – WPost

Analysis on Turkish motivations – Stratfor
… force a truce to protect oil, gas interests, burnish Erdogan’s reputation

Egypt / Sudan

Sudan celebrates Christmas publicly for the first time in 10 years – Middle East Eye
… Sudan let Christians “March for Jesus” again – Christianity Today

40,000 displaced by intercommunal clashes in West Darfur – UN
… violence in/around El Geneina

Western Africa / Lake Chad

Dozens of fishermen killed near Cameroon border – BBC

Senegal: Left behind by husbands, women break the rules, go to work – NYT

“Unprecedented terrorist violence” in West Africa, Sahel region – UN


Chad pulls troops out of Nigeria Boko Haram fight – VOA

Deadly bomb attack in crowded market near Cameroon border – DW

Ethiopia / Horn / East Africa

Rush hour bomb kills dozens in Somali capital – BBC
… Al Shabaab remains resilient despite setbacks – NYT

Central Asia / Caucasus

The Islamist and the evangelical: one Georgian family’s story – Eurasianet
… former ISIS commander’s cousin is an evangelical Christian missionary
… (From April 2019, I missed this one earlier.)

Saudi / Israel / Lebanon / Syria / Gulf

Syria: Civilians face ‘daily nightmare’ in Idlib – UN

West Asia / Turkey

Turkey: ~100,000 unregistered Syrians removed from Istanbul – DW


Iraq afraid of getting caught in the middle between US, Iran – Link


This was certainly the big event of the last week, and perhaps one of the big events of the decade. I’ve collected below the articles that contain the best analysis; I’ve tried to avoid articles that are more fleeting ‘what we know now’ pieces.

How the US-Iran confrontation escalated, mapped – NYT
… great use of timeline+maps to highlight chronology

“Most consequential strike this century” – DefenseOne
… ‘the most powerful general in the Middle East’
… Obit on Soleimani describes his life and impact – NYT
… Portrait of a General: from secret spy cables – Intercept

Soleimani is no anti-imperialist hero – Al Jazeera
… a good long-read analysis on motives, brands, and why WW3 is not imminent

What Iran lost:
… mostly QS’s personal touch, influence & brand – Al-Monitor
… huge blow to Iran’s plans for regional domination – Guardian
… OpEd: the killing of QS changes nothing for Iran – NYT

Profile of new Quds Force commander – UAE National
… New Quds Force commander brings continuity to post – WPost

Who grieves, who’s happy:

The day after war begins in Iran: the outpouring of grief – NYT
… Iranians close ranks behind their leaders – NYT

QS haunted the Arab world: death greeted with jubilation – Atlantic

Constraints on Iranian response:

How to strike back without starting a war – Yahoo News

Conflict is inevitable; war isn’t – WSJ

What a US-Iran war would look like: scenarios – Vox

Cycle of Revenge: What’s next? AP News

Iran threatens to hit Israel if US hits back against Iranian retaliation – Asia Times

The Iranian-sponsored factions:
… vow revenge – Al-Monitor
… Where Iran’s allies+Proxies stand after QS death – WPost
… US State Department recommended Americans leave Iraq – US Embassy

Iraq responded:
Parliament passes non-binding resolution: US troops to leave – DefenseOne
QS ultimate revenge: may cost the USA more than it gained by his death – Atlantic
US hopes troops stay in Iraq, and some probably will – Al-Monitor
Backlash poses risks to US-led ops against Islamic State – WSJ

Iran’s response:

Iran abandons nuclear agreement – NYT
… Op/Ed: The Choice that’s coming: Iran with a bomb, or bombing Iran – NYT
… How long until Iran could have a bomb? Analysis of the factors- DefenseOne
… Another look at the same question – Fortune

Iranian missile strikes on bases ‘intended to avoid US deaths’: why – CNN
… is this a face-saving response that keeps USA from responding?

Ukrainian plane may very well have been shot down – CNN
… but probably on accident.

Interesting pieces with useful analysis:
“This is the moment to step back” – Carnegie
The breathtaking unravelling of the Middle East after QS death – New Yorker
Is there a risk of a wider war with Iran? NYT
Strike on QS casts a long shadow over the decade ahead – UAE National
Commercial airlines rerouting flights – AP

Afghanistan / Pakistan / Pashto

“Kabul is not safe” – Khaama Press


Massive Muslim protests challenge citizenship law – NYT
… 100s of 1000s in various cities.

Muslims in fear as police crack down in India’s heartland – AP

Masked men attack JNU university – BBC
… 40 students/staff hospitalized, students across India protest

India-Bangladesh on diplomatic tightrope – Asia Times
… Bangladesh fears people pushed into it from India


Seven trends shaping China into 2020 – SCMP

Nanhu Lake, the cradle of Chinese communism, a spiritual retreat – NYT

China grapples with mystery pneumonia-like illness – NYT
… health officials worried about upcoming CNY

In Xinjiang, China applies repressive lessons learned in Tibet – Economist
… “Trainees have ‘graduated,’ but it’s unclear where they are.”

China’s push to turn Muslim minorities into an army of workers – NYT

Christmas Eve across China, in photos – ChinaSource

Outspoken pastor sentenced to 9 years in prison – Christianity Today

For China’s underground churches, this was no easy Christmas – LA Times

China announces new crackdown on religious freedom – Catholic Herald
… “enforce new restrictions on religious groups… starting Feb 1”

Will China’s house churches survive the latest government crackdown? CT
… a survey of the house church’s historic ability to survive

How Djibouti became a microcosm of China’s growing foothold in Africa – SCMP

Hong Kong:
… “if you can afford it, leave.” NYT
… “Hong Kongers will never stop” – Globe & Mail
… “1 in 3 adults in HK have reported symptoms of PTSD” – QZ
… Inside the hidden clinics making up HK’s resistance army – Telegraph
… Investigation: How murder, kidnappings and miscalculation set off a revolt – Reuters
… Long Read: Hong Kong’s looming 2047 question – Diplomat


View from the bunker: Kim weighs provocations in 2020 – Asia Times
… pay attention to me – but not too much attention

North Korea “no longer bound by nuclear test moratorium” – NYT

A stable North Korea welcomes economic growth – Asia Times
… “despite sanctions… signs of virility… no social unrest, anti-regime activity”

Southeast Asia

Jakarta: Flash floods leave 100s of 1000s homeless – NYT

Flooding is the worst for over a decade – Economist
… limited tap water, so 40% of Jakartans rely on wells
… sucking liquid out of the ground = whole city sinks
… 40% of city is already below sea level

Notable Europe / Americas

Russia: Putin exit strategy after 20 years in power – Asia Times
… not likely to go gently into the night …

More than 60k people missing amid Mexico’s drug war – Guardian
… higher than previously estimated as murders continue to rise …

New Data

Every country on this map has a smaller population than Tokyo. Link

Visualizing how the demographics of China and India are diverging – Link

Longer reads

Fears & worries crush us: we suffer more in imagination than reality.
… these secularists remind me of Jesus’ exhortation not to worry about tomorrow. Planning and forethought is one thing, but giving in to the grip of fear and worry is another.

“3 harmful ideas that are weakening my generation” – NYT

A history of war in six drugs – NYT

Where US troops are in the Middle East, mapped – WPost

7 urgent humanitarian crises for the world to watch in 2020 – Lutheran World Relief

David Joannes / Mission Pulse interviews Todd Johnson / World Christian Encyclopedia – Link

USA Methodists agree to split the denomination over LGBTQ – Christianity Today

Globally, women are younger than their male partners. This means they are more likely to age alone after surviving the passing of the male. Older members of a church are more likely to be female widows. (Related trend: younger single members of a church are also more likely to be female. Males are more likely in the married demographic) – Pew

The new face of medical missions is African – Christianity Today


6 hours spent online per day: China’s mobile population in numbers – Inkstone

How the smartphone completely transformed China in a decade – Inkstone

China’s top tech trends of 2019 – Sixth Tone

The Warbot builders of the Middle East – Wired

Japan loves robots, but getting them to do human work isn’t easy. NYT

What will the world look like in 2030? NYT

10 tech trends that shaped the 2010s – Pew

2019: the beginning of the end of the open Internet era – CFR

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