Assad Is Not Expected To Use Chemical Weapons In Idlib Province Conflict With Rebels
Russia is aware that after years of civil and religious power struggle between violent pro-Sunni and pro-Shi’a groups in Iraq and Syria, many prefer regional stability over democratic freedom. This may be the reason for the Trump administration and NATO merely asserting chemical weapon usage as the red line in Idlib.
Russia’s economy is approximately the same size as that of Australia. While the hundreds of billions of dollars the U.S. and NATO have spent fighting conflicts in Iraq and Syria are a colossal loss, the toll of these conflicts on the Russian economy holds infinitely greater severity.
Russia may convince Iran that an even-handed approach on Idlib is beneficial in maintaining its status as a regional power. While civilians may choose to escape conflict via Turkey and the Mediterranean, hardened Islamic radicals may simply relocate to Iraq, challenging Iranian dominance in that country. In addition, as the U.S. batters Iran’s economy with sanctions, Iran is currently appealing to the European Union, switching transactions from dollars to euros to maintain their investments in Iran.
Russia is aware that the U.S.’ most important regional ally, Israel, is wary of replacing the Assad regime. Most likely, an Al Qaida backed figure will replace Assad if current powers are reversed in Syria. Remaining primarily neutral during the Syrian civil war, Israel maintains positive relations with Russia regarding rollback of Hezbollah in the Golan Heights.
If Russia maintains a secure peace in Idlib, it gains unfettered access to the Mediterranean. Conversely, if the balance of power is reversed significantly via Turkish and NATO reprisal, Russian access to the Mediterranean comes at much greater price.
Russia enjoys its current relations with Germany, especially on trade of natural gas via the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. It is aware that nationalist factions have sprung up in the Euro due to the influx of refugees from Syrian civil war.
Germany, the most influential economy in the Euro, has recently sought to placate port of access countries regarding exchange of refuges and asylum seekers. A fresh influx of asylum seekers from Syria may end Merkel’s leadership and construction of Nord Stream 2, crippling the Russian economy as well as its influence in the European Union.
To the chagrin of anti-Assad war hawks, Turkey and Russia are devising a demilitarized zone in Northern Syria. Both will benefit. Russia will hold regional hegemony, and Turkey’s devastated economy will not have to face another wave of refugees. That is, if tempers are maintained, and Putin, Rouhani, and Assad agree on limited show of force.
Canadian Police Report Almost 2,200 Home Visits To Monitor Quarantine Compliance
Canadian police officers reportedly have conducted almost 2,200 home visits to ensure travelers into the country are complying with quarantine rules.
In late March, the Canadian government announced the start of the Quarantine Act, which mandates that anyone entering the country, with the exception of essential workers like truck drivers and those in healthcare, must self-isolate for 14 days.
Failure to comply can incur a fine of up to $750,000 and/or six months in prison. However, so far there have been no arrests, and only one fine of $1,000.
Still, many may find unsettling the degree to which the Canadian police, in coordination with official border and health services, are enforcing a nanny state by paying home visits to incoming travelers deemed at risk of non-compliance. In addition, prime minister Justin Trudeau has hinted that even tougher measures could be coming, even once Canada begins easing cross-border travel.
Also in late March, the Trudeau government announced a halt to all immigration in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus. However, current immigration applications would not be closed or denied due to failure to meet typical requirements.
Still, many pointed out that Canada’s response was actually stronger than the US’, which has continued to import thousands of H-1B workers even while under lockdown due to a global pandemic.
The border between the US and Canada has been closed since the end of March, and this was recently extended, likely into mid-June. Trudeau has stated that the closure and its extension were implemented with full cooperation from the US.
While travel into Canada has not stopped completely, it has fallen drastically since the implementation of restrictive policies. However, critics of the government question whether Trudeau reacted quickly enough, and argue that the policy going forward is too vague and requires more explanation and accountability.
As stated by Conservative MP Pierre Paul-Hus:
“It was the Trudeau government’s failure to close our borders that allowed the virus to spread in the first place. It is incumbent on the Trudeau government to explain how they plan to ensure that travelers who are coming back to Canada are not spreading COVID-19… Unfortunately, right now the Trudeau government is telling Canadians to ‘wait and see’ without explaining what metrics they are relying on to make decisions.”
While Canada is doing significantly better than the US in terms of the number of cases, one tragically sobering area in which it has exhibited clear failure is the fate of its elderly, particularly those in state and private long-term care institutions.
It is estimated that up to 86% of the Canadian death toll is from facilities such as long-term care, retirement, and corrections, with the first two making up the large majority. In one privately-run nursing home, as much as one third of residents have died from coronavirus.
While the situation is complex and there are few countries that do not seem to have significant problems with their approach, it is clear that something is wrong with Canada’s. Perhaps the government should focus more on taking care of its elderly than intrusively monitoring its citizens.
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