USA sends warship to challenge China’s maritime claims

On 27 October American destroyer USS Lassen entered the waters within the 12-mile zone around Subi and Mischief reefs that are controlled by China and have been artificially turned into islands in order to support China’s maritime claims. It will possibly be followed by other passages of this kind in the future.

This American move aims at delegitimizing China’s attempt to gain control over the maritime space in the South China Sea. This sea is a critical waterway of global geopolitical importance, which causes both China’s attempt to establish its control there and American determination to prevent this from happening.

China is loudly protesting this maritime move by the United States, but a Chinese attempt to actually challenge it militarily would be extremely dangerous.

Canada withdraws from the air campaign against Islamic State

As became know on 21 October 2015, new Canadian government decided to withdraw from the air campaign against Islamic State.

Canada used to participate in air strikes against IS in both Iraq and Syria. Other powers that are doing so in both these countries are USA, Britain, France and Australia.

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Regularly updated interactive map of war in Syria & Iraq. Press View Larger Map for better view:

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The permanent page of this interactive map is here: 

https://stratreview.wordpress.com/syria-iraq-war-map/

Sudan sends troops to Yemen

On 17 October 2015 Sudan entered the Yemen War with its ground troops. The first Sudanian troops arrived at Aden and numbered about a battalion. The Sunni coalition fighting against the Iranian-backed Houthi regime in Yemen now includes Saudi, Emirati, Egyptian, Qatari, Bahreini and Sudanian forces, besides the forces of the Yemeni government itself.

While the Sunni coalition forces are on the offensive and gradually take ground, Houthi forces are offering stiff resistance.

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Regularly updated interactive map of war in Yemen. Press View Larger Map for better view:

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The permanent page of this interactive map is here: 

https://stratreview.wordpress.com/yemen-war-map/

United States send troops to Cameroon for operations against Boko Haram

USA has decided to step up its involvement in the struggle against Boko Haram, as it became known on 14 October 2015 that it is sending 300 troops to Cameroon for reconnaissance operations against the group.

Boko Haram is a jihadist organization which joined Islamic State in March 2015. It is currently fighting against forces of Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger in the region where the borders of these four nations meet. France already has been supporting these African nations with air surveillance. Now USA will do this as well.

Russia expands military bases network in the Arctic

Russia is investing considerable resources into construction of military bases along its Arctic rim. As melting ice in the region opens new possibilities for extraction of natural resources, the Arctic is becoming a new area for geopolitical competition. Participants of this new strategic game are United States, Russia, Canada, Norway and Denmark, with probable participation by powers outside the region, such as China.

Large-scale and expensive military construction in the Arctic by Russia is a vivid illustration of the Russian view regarding what forms this geopolitical competition may take in the future.

Arctic Russian bases

Yemen: Sunni coalition continues its sea coast advance

Forces of the Sunni coalition took town of Dhubab from the Houthis on 9 October 2015. Dhubab is located on the Red Sea coast.

This new success of the Sunni coalition comes soon after it took over Bab al-Mandab Strait coast on 1 October. Now their new target in the area is the town of Mocha, which is still in the Houthis’ hands.

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Regularly updated interactive map of war in Yemen. Press View Larger Map for better view:

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The permanent page of this interactive map is here: 

https://stratreview.wordpress.com/yemen-war-map/

Islamic State gains territory north of Aleppo

IS took a number of villages north of the city of Aleppo from the Syrian rebels on 9 October 2015. This brought the territory under IS control closer to the city, which is roughly equally divided between the Assad forces and rebels. The villages in question include Tall Qarah and Fafeen. Another village – Tall Susin – was also taken by IS, but retaken by the rebels later during the day.

The IS advance comes in the wake of Russian air strikes, which mostly hit Syrian rebels despite the Russian information campaign claiming that its target is Islamic State.

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Regularly updated interactive map of war in Syria & Iraq. Press View Larger Map for better view:

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The permanent page of this interactive map is here: 

https://stratreview.wordpress.com/syria-iraq-war-map/

Syria: Assad forces launch offensive in Hama area

On 7 October 2015 Syrian government forces launched attack against the rebels in Hama area. This offensive is supported by Russian air power and aims at consolidating territory under Assad regime control in western-central Syria.

Meanwhile, Russia has launched missile strikes into Syria from its naval ships in the Caspain Sea. While the Russian officials say that Islamic State has been hit, they also add that Al Nusra was attacked as well, which means that at least some of the missiles targeted western part of the country (where Al Nusra is based), the same day Assad forces launched their attack there.

Besides, Russian military planes have began shadowing American drones over Syria. With effective Russian air strikes against American-aligned and trained rebel groups, this adds up to a public humiliation of United States by Russia. If this trends continues, it can seriously damage American prestige in the Middle East and elsewhere.

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Regularly updated interactive map of war in Syria & Iraq. Press View Larger Map for better view:

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The permanent page of this interactive map is here: 

https://stratreview.wordpress.com/syria-iraq-war-map/

Belarus denies plans to establish Russian air base

On 6 October 2015 President of Belarus – a nominal Russian ally – Alexander Lukashenko publicly denied reports about the plans to establish a Russian military air base in Belarus. He also expressed anger at the Russian officials who made statements about such plans.

This statement is another instance of Lukahenko’s attempts at balancing between staying a formal ally of Russia and avoiding too much Russian control over Belarus. Lukashenko stepped up this balancing after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014.

US and partners agree to create Trans-Pacific Partnership

After protracted negotiations, on 5 October 2015 US, Japan, Australia, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand and Brunei signed agreement on creation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership – a new economic block which includes 40% of the world economy.

While TPP is based on an economic agreement, it has crucial geopolitical implications. Against the background of China’s attempt of strategic expansion, TPP constitutes an important move by US, Japan and their partner nations to consolidate their position in the face of China’s active foreign policy.

TPP member nations:

TPP members