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Stratfor — The United States is in talks with Australia to deploy more strategic bomber aircraft at Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin. Beyond further strengthening the U.S.-Australian military alliance, moving U.S. bombers to Australia from their usual station in Guam will protect them from China's intermediate-range missiles.
As for Australia, deeper cooperation with the United States is a welcome step toward greater security, especially since China is still stoking tensions throughout the region with its claims to contested waters in the South China Sea.
With limited resources and vulnerable maritime supply lines, Australia has long sought to enhance security through strategic military alliances with strong naval powers. During World War II, the United States replaced the United Kingdom as Australia's principal military ally.
Stratfor — Russian President Vladimir Putin announced March 14 that Russia had sufficiently achieved its goals in Syria since beginning airstrikes in September, and that it will gradually withdraw the bulk of its forces from the country, starting March 15.
According to Putin, the process could take as long as five months. However, Russia's air base in Latakia will continue to operate, as will its naval facility in Tartus.
Russia's involvement in Syria has been guided by a number of key priorities. The first is ensuring the stability of the allied Syrian government and by extension Russian interests in Syria. The second is demonstrating and testing its armed forces, which are undergoing a significant force modernization.
Stratfor — Gunmen have attacked a vacation resort in Grand-Bassam in southern Ivory Coast, a place popular among foreign tourists. Reports from the ground say several gunmen armed with Kalashnikovs and wearing balaclavas started shooting at people on a section of beach shared by a series of hotels.
According to a news release by the Ivorian government, which was later retracted, up to 11 people (half of them foreigners) were killed. Social media reports mention at least 12 deaths. According to eyewitness reports, hostages were taken in one of the hotels close to the beach where the attack began.
However, the Ivorian government announced that six attackers were successfully "neutralized" and that security sweeps are ongoing in the area.
Controversy is brewing between the United States and Russia over the mysterious death of a one-time Kremlin heavyweight in Washington. Mikhail Lesin, Russia's former press minister, died in the U.S. capital in November 2015. At the time, Lesin's family reported that he had suffered a fatal heart attack.
But on March 10, Washington's medical examiner and police department announced Lesin was killed by blunt force injuries to his head, neck and upper and lower torso. However, they refrained from calling the death a homicide.
Russia has reacted to the news by threatening to ask for international assistance if the United States does not clarify the circumstances surrounding Lesin's demise. Moscow's tactic of pre-emptively shifting blame to the United States by citing a lack of cooperation on Washington's part is notable; it is almost as if the Kremlin is attempting to avoid any questions about its own possible role in Lesin's death.
Jihadists have a long history in Yemen. In fact, the first al Qaeda attacks against U.S. interests occurred with the 1992 twin bombings of the Gold Mihor and Movenpick hotels in Aden. But Yemeni jihadists have proved to be fractious, a reality that limited their capabilities until al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) formed in January 2009.
Under the leadership of Nasir al Wahayshi, AQAP united a number of jihadist factions from Yemen and Saudi Arabia, forging them into a coherent and effective organization.
Even after the formation of AQAP however, internal rifts belied Yemeni jihadists' unified front. Personal animosities, tribal rivalries and differences over tactics, strategies and ideology simmered, occasionally breaking out into violence.