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Putin’s opponent jailed for third time this year

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On Friday, a Moscow court sentenced Alexei Navalny to jail for 20 days. The charge was that Navalny called for an unsanctioned protest, despite getting permission from the city to hold the rally. He is opposing Putin in next year’s election. This is not the first time he has been jailed nor is he the only one facing charges. Reuters reported that Navalny “has been jailed twice already this year after organising rallies and protests against government corruption.” and his campaign chief, Leonid Volkov, is facing similar charges

Alexei Navalny isn’t just a political opponent to Vladimir Putin. He also runs the Anti-Corruption Foundation which “investigates, exposes and fights corruption among high-ranking government officials.” It is important that we take self-appointed mission statements with a grain of salt. However, I find myself giving the benefit of the doubt to the Kremlin’s opposition over the Kremlin itself. The upward trend of political opponents being poisoned, exiled, jailed, or killed in the last several years is apparent to anyone who looks.

Navalny’s platform is reminiscent of the democratic socialists of Western Europe and America. It is built, in large part, on redistributing wealth. He campaigns on the idea that the corporations connected to the Kremlin are the cause of economic pain for the Russian people. In many ways, it reminds me of Bernie Sanders’ political perspective. But rather than the people being able to decide whether the candidate is good for them, the Kremlin uses the iron fist to decide that Putin is people’s choice. Here are some examples.

Perspectives

 

Alexei Navalny: Russia’s vociferous opposition leader – BBC News

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-16057045Mr Navalny was arrested and imprisoned for 15 days following the first protest on 5 December, but emerged to speak at the biggest of the post-election rallies in Moscow on 24 December, attended by as many as 120,000 people.

Russia jails top opposition leader; Putin denounced as dictator | Reuters

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-navalny/russia-jails-top-opposition-leader-putin-denounced-as-dictator-idUSBRE96G0WO20130718In a last message from court, Navalny, 37, referred to Putin as a “toad” who abused Russia’s vast oil revenues to stay in power, and urged his supporters to press on with his campaign.

“Okay, don’t miss me. More important – don’t be idle. The toad will not get off the oil pipeline on its own,” he wrote on Twitter.

Russia’s opposition: who is left to take on Vladimir Putin? | World news | The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/01/russias-opposition-who-is-left-to-take-on-vladimir-putinAmong the “non-systemic” opposition, there are few politicians who have much of a national profile, with the restrictions of state television meaning it is hard to gain a real platform. Harassment, threats and fatigue have led many into either jail or exile. Now that Nemtsov has been silenced, here are a list of the main opposition figureheads.

More of Kremlin’s Opponents Are Ending Up Dead

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/21/world/europe/moscow-kremlin-silence-critics-poison.htmlPutin, has made no secret of his ambition to restore his country to what he sees as its rightful place among the world’s leading nations. He has invested considerable money and energy into building an image of a strong and morally superior Russia, in sharp contrast with what he portrays as weak, decadent and disorderly Western democracies. Political murders, particularly those accomplished with poisons, are nothing new in Russia, going back five centuries.

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Final Thoughts

Dennis Prager gives a great comparison of authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. In a totalitarian regime, the people have no say in how they live their lives. In an authoritarian regime, the people can live their lives largely unimpeded, provided they don’t oppose the leader.

Putin’s Russia is an authoritarian regime. As long as the people live their lives and don’t speak out, the government will leave them alone. As soon as someone questions Putin’s leadership, the iron fist of government shows its full strength

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Mastermind behind Iranian parade attack allegedly killed

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Mastermind behind Iranian parade attack allegedly killed

Iranian state television is reporting the mastermind behind last months’ terrorist attack on a military parade in Ahvaz, Iran. 25 people were killed, including a dozen members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

An alleged member of the Islamic State, Abu Zaha, was killed by Iran along with four other militants in Diyala province in Iraq. They gave no indication of how the operation was carried out. Though the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack, many believe it was the Ahwaz National Resistance, an Iranian separatist group that also claimed responsibility.

Iran Claims It Has Killed Mastermind of Deadly Attack on Parade

https://www.algemeiner.com/2018/10/16/iran-claims-it-has-killed-mastermind-of-deadly-attack-on-parade/The Sunni Muslim Islamic State group, in decline in Iraq and Syria, considers the majority Shi’ite Muslims of Iran to be heretics.

Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said those responsible for the parade attack were paid by Sunni Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and that Iran will “severely punish” those behind the violence.

My Take

It behooves Iran to get their justice from the Islamic State rather than Ahwaz National Resistance. ISIS is an easy operator to blame for the attacks whether they did it or not. It’s believable and presents an enemy that isn’t as close to home as Ahwaz National Resistance. It also allows them to maintain their narrative that ISIS is funded by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

We’ll likely never know if Zaha was really the mastermind behind the attack. If similar attacks happen in the coming months, it’s likely that Ahwaz National Resistance is behind them, not ISIS.

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Foreign Affairs

White House plan to kick Iran from Syria leaked

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White House plan to kick Iran from Syria leaked

Syria has been in a state of disarray for nearly a decade now. Ever since the infamous “red line” that President Obama failed to enforce, the Middle Eastern nation has been suffering through war, poverty, and occupation by hostile forces ranging from the Islamic State to Russia and Iran.

The Islamic State may no longer be an occupying threat in Syria, but Iran and Russia are. The White House has a plan to push them out of the country. It does not involve military engagement, though U.S. military personnel may engage if they feel threatened. Instead, the plan is to offer aid to the Syrians wherever they need help, except where Iran and Russia have a presence.

This represents a huge chunk of the crumbling nation.

Trump administration has new plan to drive Iran out of Syria

“There’s a real opportunity for the U.S. and its allies to make the Iranian regime pay for its continued occupation of Syria,” said Mark Dubowitz, chief executive at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a think tank strongly opposed to the Iranian regime.

Driving Iran out of Syria would be one prong in an approach that would also involve continuing to destroy remaining pockets of Islamic State fighters and finding a political transition after the exit of both ISIS and Iran that does not call for Syrian President Bashar al Assad to step aside.

My Take

Any measure that does not put Americans in harms way is worth pursuing. As long as Syria is as vulnerable as it is, there are risks to both American and Israeli interests in the region. The war-torn nation needs help rebuilding so they can rightly remove Iran’s and Russia’s presence.

Perhaps more importantly is the need to rejuvenate a homeland for millions of refugees. They are already causing major problems in countries throughout Europe and Asia. If we can expedite the renewal of their homeland, it will prompt many to return.

We have no business fighting battles in Syria. The White House plan would use diplomacy and economic pressure to rid Syria of their occupying forces. It’s a long shot, but it’s better than further military conflicts.

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Australia considers moving their embassy to Jerusalem

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Australia considers moving their embassy to Jerusalem

When U.S. President Donald Trump announced he would be moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the international outcry was fairly universal. The thinking for decades has been that if the international community recognizes Israel’s capital, then tensions and conflict in the region would grow.

A year after the announcement, not much has changed. Conflict is still there, though not notably higher. The world hasn’t ended even though we’re months away from the move being completed. Now, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has indicated he may be willing to follow President Trump’s lead and move their embassy to Jerusalem as well.

My Take

A nation should be allowed to declare its own capital. Israel is the only nation on the planet that the international community refuses to allow this privilege because they believe the “contested” lands in Israel will some day be “returned” to the Palestinians.

Even as just about every world leader pushes for a two-state solution, it’s refreshing to see concessions being made to Israel instead of the incessant cries for Israel to concede everything they have.

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