Checkpoint Asia

Podcast: Covering the News of the US Empire

Top headlines about Assange, Afghanistan, Syria, and more

On FPF #409, I cover Assange, Afghanistan, and Syria. Assange’s legal team requested an extension on his extradition hearing date. Assange is locked in solitary confinement at a UK prison with limited access to his legal team. 

Secretary of Defense Esper traveled to Afghanistan, possibly on the mission of restarting talks with the Taliban. Esper said the US could reduce US troops levels from 14,000 to 8,600 without impacting counter-terrorism operations. 

The ceasefire continues to hold in northern Syria as some US troops exit Syria into western Iraq. The troops remain in western Iraq to fight ISIS. Trump is now considering keeping 200 troops in eastern Syria to keep oil fields from Assad’s control. 

Links

US News

  • Secretary of Energy Rick Perry resigns. Trump nominates Dan Brouillette to replace Perry. 
  • Three US soldiers were killed in a training accident. [Link]
  • US Warships are being built over budget and years beyond the initial project completion date. Even when ships are finished, they often have critical issues that keep them from being ready for combat. [Link]
  • The US imposed sanctions against Cuba for human rights violations and support for Venezuela. The sanctions target Cuba’s access to commercial airlines. [Link]
  • The US extends sanctions waivers for Iraq to import Iranian energy for another 120 days. [Link]
  • CNN reports US weapons sold to the UAE were transferred to southern separatists in Yemen and used against the Saudi-backed Yemeni government. [Link]
  • The US restores aid to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvidor. The aid was cut because Trump felt these countries were not doing enough to help stop refugees from coming to the US. [Link]
  • The US sent a warship into the Black Sea. This is the 7th US warship to enter the sea this year. Last year the US sent five warships into the Black Sea. [Link]

Assange

  • A UK judge denies Assange’s request to delay his extradition hearing for three months. [Link]

Protests

  • 20 South Korean students were arrested for attempting to enter the US ambassador’s home in protest of US troops in South Korea. [Link]
    • The US is reported to have offered North Korea partial sanctions relief in exchange for North Korea getting rid of key parts of its nuclear program. [Link]
  • At least three people have died during protests and riots in Chile. The three deaths are reported to have come in a supermarket arson fire. Police are reported to have shot two protesters. [Link]
  • Lebanon’s prime minister says a deal has been reached for economic reforms. Protesters have been gathered in Lebanon demanding reforms. [Link]
  • Protests continue to Catalonia as the Spanish government has imprisoned the region’s former leadership. The protests have seen over 100 injured a dozen people arrested. The Catalan leadership has now called for a new independence referendum. [Link]

Israel

  • Netanyahu says he cannot form a government. His political rival, Gantz, will now attempt to form a government. [Link]
  • Senator Warren suggests that if she becomes president, she may make Israeli aid conditional on stopping building settlements in the West Bank. [Link]
  • Jared Kushner will travel to Israel at the end of the month to meet with Netanyahu and his main political challenger, Gantz. [Link]
  • Israeli forces shot a Palestinian dead in the West Bank. The man ran at the soldiers with a knife. [Link]

Afghanistan 

  • Record 4,000 Killed/Injured July-September. [Link]
  • Sixty-two people were killed in the bombing of a mosque. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. [Link]
  • Secretary of State Mark Esper traveled in Afghanistan in an effort to restart talks with the Taliban. Esper said the US could cut troop levels to 8,600 without impacting counter-terror operations. An administration official said people in the administration did not realize Trump maybe serious about pulling troops out of Afghanistan until he withdrew troops from Syria. [Link] 
  • Secretary of Defense Esper says the US has long-standing commitments to Afghanistan, unlike with the Syrian Kurds. [Link]

Syria 

  • At least some US troops have moved from eastern Syria into western Iraq. [Link]
  • All US troops withdrawing from Syria will go to western Iraq for anti-Islamic State operations. [Link]
  • Trump may keep 200 US soldiers in eastern Syria for anti-Ismalic State operations and to prevent Assad from reclaiming Syrian oil fields. [Link]
  • Erdogan says if all Kurdish forces are not out of the agreed-upon safe zone by Tuesday evening, Turkey will resume the invasion of Syria. [Link]