North Korea

North Korea
The always bombastic and unpredictable North Koreans go hysterical again. This time the country is prepared to "go to war" with South Korea because that country is playing loudspeakers directed at North Korean territory. A headline from a UK paper reads, "More than 50 North Korea submarines 'leave their bases' as war talks with South continue "

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Refugees and other flows from regional conflicts grow

"The first casualty, when war comes, is truth" is a statement that has been often repeated and modified. It is attributed to Hiram Johnson (1866-1945), a "staunchly isolationist" Republican senator from California in reference to World War 1. (Hmmm, the 100th anniversary of what is considered the precipitant act of that war was held this week. As the Australian Broadcasting Service (ABC) concisely summarizes, "the Archduke Ferdinand - the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne - was shot dead with his wife Sophie on a June morning in 1914. Ferdinand's murder by Gavriol Princip, a 19-year-old Bosnian Serb, set the Great Powers marching to war. More than 10 million soldiers died, as empires crumbled and the world order was rewritten.")

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Yes, the 100th year commemoration of the assassination, carried out by the Bosnian, Gariol Princip, was held in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, but not without controversy!. Apparently the killing is seen very differently by Bosnians, Croats, and Serbs. To some in Bosniak parts of the country, Princip was a terrorist; to some Serbs, he is largely viewed as an ethnic Serb nationalist, while others see in him a pan-Slav idealist. In this picture by the BBC, a Serbian flag is carried in the eastern B-H town of Visegrad at a separate commemoration more sympathetic of Princip.

So where was I? Teatree's POINT is that one could come up with other firsts besides truth being the first casualty. While there is little doubt that truth is quick to go - yes, yes, and yes - Teatree observes that the wrenching of civilians from their homes may even come sooner.

Three refugee flows

Inside Iraq

We've read much of Syria's streams of civilians heading to Turkey and Jordan - hundreds of thousands - and some were even a couple years ago fleeing to Iraq. But with ISIS in Syria and Iraq making the news this past two weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqis themselves are fleeing in all directions - mainly to safe parts of their now divided country.

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Iraqis from Mosul fled everywhere, but many into the autonomous Kurdish controlled region. Photo from

Between Russia and the Ukraine

There are thousands on the roads in Eastern Ukraine. Some are heading to Russia or pro-Russian strongholds in the east of the country, while some Eastern Ukrainians are headed west to safer Ukrainian territory. The UN puts a number on internal movements - 54,000 - but notes that another 110,000 Ukrainians have gone to Russia since the first of the year.

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Pro-Russian civilians (or those simply concerned for their families' safety) going through border crossing into Russia. Photo from

From Central America to the U.S.

There isn't exactly a war or conflict going on in several Central American countries - Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, - but it is clearly a desperate situation that stems from poverty, the rise of gangs, and violence of drug cartels in these small nations. What is unique is that children are being sent on their own to the U.S., no doubt assuming the U.S. is much less likely to return children than it would adults traveling alone.

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Central American families (not strictly just children) arriving in great numbers. An ABC article states, "The Department of Homeland Security says more than 52,000 unaccompanied minors have been detained along the U.S. border with Mexico this fiscal year. In addition, authorities have apprehended 39,000 adults with small children. The numbers reflect a significant uptick over last year, when just 24,000 unaccompanied minors were apprehended. The majority in the surge hail from Central American countries, and a disproportionate number are young women and under age 13, officials say." Photo from

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Countries under great stress, and parents sending children north Graphic from Mother

One other flow

We've seen it before: in Libya after the overthrow of Gaddafi, unsecured weaponry flooded North African countries, and many say these weapons fueled the uptick of strength in Boko Haram and was responsible for the surge of conflict in Mali.

Today, a new flood of weapons is on the move. In Iraq, vast amounts of weaponry, along with vehicles and armor, changed hands. It came from Iraqi army units that melted in front of ISIS fighters, and immediately seized by ISIS itself.

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This graphic shows, if nothing else, that the border between Iraq and Syria is for now, a moot boundary. A sand berm that once delineated the line was bulldozed out by ISIS forces. ISIS or ISIL? These are Western terms, the militants refer to themselves as simply jihadis for "al-Dawla", Arabic for the State. That's the main point, they don't view the Syrian or Iraq boundaries as significant, as they are trying to establish their own Caliphate. Graphic from the BBC

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Not "just" small arms, but vehicles, tanks, missiles - and in many cases American made - have passed into ISIS hands. These incidentally are coming through early breaks in the sand berm that once delineated Syria from Iraq. Photo from

And so they go ...

1 comment:

Teatree said...

Don't let me forget the half million recently on the move in Pakistan's lawless northwest regions. Not a war per se either, but a result of neglecting these tribal regions, resulting in a disastrous Islamic hardline worldview to solidify.