UNITY: Syrian Opposition desires a united front in peace talks
At Riyadh talks, the Syrian opposition leaders expressed desire to work together for diplomatic solutions. All agree that a plan to end the civil war is the first step to fighting the Islamic State. Conspicuously absent are the Kurdish groups, of whom have been some of the most effective fighters against the group. However, many strong Islamist groups are present, including Jaysh Al-Islam, an alliance of Islamist organizations that includes members of the Al-Qaeda spawned Nusra Front. Talks remain a mostly Arab affair, which Russia and Iran are pushing to begin by January 1.
A Jigsaw Puzzle: Here’s a picture of Syria as of today.
GEOPOLITICS: Russia’s Turkey Problem
Russia’s problems with Turkey (and Syria too) is are rooted in the country’s history of foreign policy via geopolitics. Vladimir Putin sought to build an oil pipeline, Turkstream, that would bypass Ukraine, and allow Russia to continue selling oil and natural gas to Europe. However, he has to address historical suspicions and military escalation between the two countries as both attempt to address the collapse and instability of an important neighbor. Ultimately, Putin will not sacrifice building a more secure energy corridor to Europe over the loss of a jet fighter, unless endangered by feeling of western encirclement.
GEOPOLITICS:Iran Buys Tanks from Russia
Iran recently concluded a deal to buy Russian T-90 battle tanks, along with S-300 Missile Defense units. According to Ahmad Reza Pourdastan, ground forces commander in Iran, this deal will strengthen and deepen defense relationships between the two countries in a time of great instability and uncertainty. Iran is actually an important partner for Russia in the Middle East while Bashar Al-Assad remains embattled with armed opposition and the Islamic State. Russia worked with Tehran during the nuclear negotiations with the United States, China and Europe, and has been Tehran’s strongest ally among the major powers. This relationship is expected to deepen.
ELECTORAL POLITICS: Confident National Front Moving to Round 2 in France
National Front politicians are confident that candidates in France’s 2015 regional elections will be victorious in the second round of elections, scheduled for December 13. In the Nord-Pas-de-Calais–Picardie, Marine Le Pen’s victory in the first round caused President Francois Hollande’s Socialist Party to withdraw its candidates, in the hopes of forming a united front against Le Pen. If victorious on the 13, Le Pen’s party, which is also expected to win other regions like Provence-Alps-Cote D’Azur, where Le Pen’s niece Marion Maréchal-Le Pen is expected to win, it will be the first time the Front is given a chance to govern beyond the municipal level. France will be the first European country after Hungary to elect a party of the extreme right to public offices nationwide.
RISING STAR PROFILE: Marion Maréchal-Le Pen
Only 25, Marion is the youngest french legislator to ever sit in the national assembly. She is also the only member of the National Front, a traditionally fringe party known for its nationalist and anti-semitic views. However, her youth, strong Catholic values, and identification with checking globalization and the power of the European Union, she is a rising star both in France and the continent among right-wing politicians and parties. More importantly, she is a bridge between the old guard and the rising youth wing of her party, giving her a platform to rise above her aunt Marine as leader of the party. While being a legislator, she studied law in Paris.