A four-way summit with Germany, France, Russia and Turkey may soon take place. And it appears that their opposition to U.S. policy is a major reason it will be held. Advisers are already planning to hold preparatory talks, confirming statements made earlier by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany on Saturday for informal talks over the Ukraine conflict, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and the Syrian civil war. Meanwhile, Turkey’s finance minister and his French counterpart agreed over the phone to jointly confront U.S. sanctions against Turkey. Delegations from the two countries will meet later this month to discuss further economic cooperation options.
Poland has renewed calls for a permanent U.S. military presence in the country. The most recent request was made by President Andrzej Duda. If the U.S. is going to favor bilateral defense ties over multilateral ones, then engaging Eastern Europe, especially Poland, makes a lot of sense. The region is flanked by Germany and Russia, and though they don’t see eye to eye on everything, they still share a lot of interests, especially in response to some recent U.S. policies. This puts Poland in an uncomfortable position, hence its calls to the U.S. military. Washington has yet to respond.
The Balkans are still simmering. Montenegro followed through with its plans for joint military-police patrols at select border crossings with Albania, which has not yet retaliated. There are also reports that Kosovo’s president, Hashim Thaci, and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic have refloated the idea of resolving their differences over Kosovo’s status with a deal that would alter their borders to accommodate ethnic populations. Europe and the U.S. oppose this option. Vucic will go to Kosovo on Sept. 9, during which he will outline Serbian policy on this matter.
The Islamic State may compete with al-Shabab for money in Somalia. IS reportedly has hundreds of fighters in Puntland, and they are taxing businesses in Bosaso to fund the group’s activities. Al-Shabab already has an elaborate tax system in place, one that generates up to $27 million annually. Somalia, like Afghanistan, has the potential to be a hotspot of IS activity. International security forces are drawing down in Somalia, but a clash over resources between IS and al-Shabab or a stronger, well-established IS branch would make them change their minds.
- The U.S. Defense Department said the military will start training Turkish forces for joint patrols in Manbij within the next 72 hours.
- Japan is reviewing its policy on North Korea, namely the possibility of holding talks on economic aid as a first step toward resolving differences.
- A senior fellow at the Hudson Institute has warned that it is increasingly likely that disagreements over how the Iranian government handles its economic crisis will split the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
- The Indian government created a public health care program to provide medical coverage for 500 million of the country’s poorest population. Estimates put annual costs at $1.7 billion.