Ankara is using its military presence in northern Syria to prevent Kurdish independence and have more of a say in a post-Assad future of the country. The problem is, its main allies, Iran and Russia, are pro-Assad.
Irregular migration, a concept that encompasses a wide range of activities, including people smuggling and human trafficking, has become big business for organised crime networks. The UN estimates that human trafficking alone is the third most profitable crime, after drug and arms trafficking.
Despite the relatively harmonious atmosphere at the last meeting of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna, the behind-the-scenes ‘oil war’ between Iran and Saudi Arabia continues.
South Korea’s president recently visited Iran and presented it with a trade-off: realise the full potential of trade and investment with a major Asian economy or maintain illicit military links to North Korea. Iran’s response, while progressive, may have fallen short of her hopes.
As the EU–Turkey deal comes into effect, the likely result will be the emergence of new migratory routes, or the reactivation of older ones, such as the West African Route, which connects various countries to the Spanish Canary Islands.
Putin’s surprise withdrawal is not only to leverage Assad into constructive peace talks. It is also about creating more options for Russia to influence the direction of the military conflict and political transition as things change both in Russia and on the ground.