Weekly Snapshot
28 October – 3 November

1. India to buy ships from Russia

India and Russia have agreed on a deal concerning the sale of naval ships. India is buying two frigates equipped with anti-ship cruise missiles for $950 million dollars. This is going against the wishes of America. As relations between India and the United States have continued to improve, India still retains close military ties with the Russian Federation.

India will be paying in rupees and rubles in order to circumvent the United States sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Though Sanctions Act (CAATSA). The CAATSA would have secondary effects if the transaction were done in US dollars. The CAATSA is a law created in 2017 that works to help counter Russian, Iranian, and North Korean influence. Under HR 3364-2 section 231 the United States government can impose sanctions “with respect to the persons engaging in transaction with the intelligence or defense sectors of the government of the Russian Federation.”

The whole idea of India buying weapons from Russia is concerning as the ongoing tensions between India and Pakistan continue. The purchase enriches the coffers of the Russian defense industry, which is a national security risk for the United States. Between the almost billion dollars spent on the new ships and the $5.43 billion being spent on new S-400 Triumph air defense systems, India is infusing a lot of cash into the defense industry of Russia, allowing for more Russian military development and jeopardizing American national security.

2. The US is pushing for peace in Yemen

Since the escalation of violence in 2015 when the Houthis took control of western Yemen and forced President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to flee the country, the coalition of middle eastern states, with the help from the US, UK, and France have been fighting back. This is in large part due to an increase in Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) presence within the rebel groups.

The coalition and western powers did not want to leave a power vacuum untamed as this is how terrorism tends to grow. But in this now three-year duration of violence millions of people are being left starving and homeless. The United States under pressure to stop the conflict from creating any more humanitarian harm. The UN is leading peace talks between the two sides and is looking for support. Secretary of Defence, James Mattis, and Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, have already given their support for this cease-fire. The UN is now looking for support from the leaders of the coalition forces, and Saudi Arabia.

With strained relations due to the murder of a US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi, dealing with Saudi Arabia has become more difficult. Yemen is of great importance to Saudi Arabia as they share a border. This means that if terrorism or a power-vacuum grows in Yemen, a lot of the spill off, whether refugees or terrorist fighters, could funnel into Saudi Arabia.

This ceasefire will be a big factor in the West’s relationship with Iran, as Iran is the Houthi rebels biggest supporter. What this cease-fire would look like is still unclear, however the fact that there are even talks of one means that the countries involved are moving in the right direction.

3. Turkey continues offensive against the Kurds

Three months ago the United States and Turkey reached a deal that they would conduct joint patrols in the hopes of eliminating Turkish attacks on US-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria. This also meant that the Kurdish fighters would have to withdraw from the town of Manbij on the west bank of the Euphrates. As the patrols are starting to begin, the attacks appear to be continuing.

Just after the first patrols started, the Turkish announced a new offensive against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which is comprised of Kurdish YPG fighters and US special forces. This offensive is not taking place in Manbij, but rather it is happening on the other side of the river. This is concerning because it is a brazen lack of cooperation. With Turkey and the United States’ relationship already on rocky ground, attacks such as this could lead to even more animosity between these two sides.