U.S./AFGHANISTAN – President Donald Trump has decided on America’s policy for Afghanistan after a “rigorous” review says Defence Secretary Jim Mattis. Details are not yet announced. 16 years into America’s longest war the Taliban and other anti-government groups control almost half of the country.
IRAQ/ISIS – The operation to retake the town of Tal Afar, Iraq began yesterday. The town is the last urban area held by ISIS in Iraq. It is on a major ISIS supply route to and from Syria. Iraq’s Shia militia are expected to play a bigger role in the operation than they did for Mosul and this may exacerbate ethnic and religious tensions.
VENEZUELA/PARLIAMENT – President Maduro’s controversial constituent assembly is to take over powers from the opposition-led congress. Members of congress said it was another step in a coup by the President.
VENEZUELA/ORTEGA – Former attorney-general Luisa Ortega, and her husband, politician German Ferrer, have fled to Mexico via a speedboat and then plane. The government had accused Ortega and Ferrer of illegal acts after she threatened to open an investigation into alleged fraud surrounding July’s election, which led to the creation of the new constituent assembly.
VENEZUELA/MILITARY – The government plans to hold a nationwide military exercise called Bolivarian Sovereignty 2017 on Aug 26/27. This may be a response to Donald Trump’s bellicose remarks, it might also be to test to see if units obey orders.
IRAN/CASUALTY – Another senior Revolutionary Guard officer has been killed in Syria. Brigadier General Se Mostafa Khosh Mohammadi is the latest fatality. The Guards are losing about 8 men a month in Syria.
IRAN/ROUHANI – Iran’s parliament has approved most of the Cabinet ministers selected by President Hassan Rouhani for his 2nd term. Among them is Javad Zarif the highly rated veteran Iranian diplomat who negotiated the country’s 2015 nuclear deal as foreign minister.
AUSTRIA/MIGRANTS – Austria is sending 70 soldiers to the Brenner Pass on Austria-Italy border to prevent migrants from entering the country. Austria says up to 1,000 migrants enter the country each month, many of them via the Pass.
COMING UP – The joint S Korean/U.S. military exercise is the one to watch. They are an annual event and usually coincide with bellicose language from N Korea and sometimes a missile test. This year’s ‘Ulchi-Freedom Guardian’ exercise comes amid even greater tension than usual. The North has warned that the war games constituted “reckless behaviour driving the situation into the uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war.”