World View: U.S. and Russia War of Words on Syria Turns Vitriolic

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com.
  • Massive Sunni terrorist bombings in Iraq target Shias
  • U.S. and Russia war of words on Syria turns vitriolic
  • Renewed Armenia-Azerbaijan military clashes threat Caucasus stability
  • Greece's bank withdrawals accelerate as Sunday's elections approach

Massive Sunni terrorist bombings in Iraq target Shias

Wednesday was the deadliest day in Iraq since the withdrawal of U.S. forces in December, after a series of 16 coordinated terrorist bombings in multiple cities of Iraq killed at least 65 people and wounded hundreds. Sectarian violence in Iraq fell sharply following President George Bush's "surge" in 2007, and it has been falling ever since -- until December. Within two days of the American withdrawl, Shia Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki accused Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi of running death squads. Al-Hashemi fled the Baghdad before he could be arrested, but since then, the level of political conflict and the level of sectarian violence have both been increasing again. AP

U.S. and Russia war of words on Syria turns vitriolic Tuesday's statement by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the U.S. was "concerned about the latest information we have that there are attack helicopters on the way from Russia to Syria ... which will escalate the conflict quite dramatically" has infuriated the Russians. On Wednesday, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, said that Russia was supplying "anti-air defence systems" to Damascus in a deal that "in no way violates international laws."

"That contrasts with what the United States is doing with the opposition, which is providing arms to the Syrian opposition which are being used against the Syrian government."

 Russia backed off slightly from this statement, but not before the White House issued a denial: "We do not and have not supplied weapons to the Syrian opposition. You know our position on that and we have made it very clear." AFP

Renewed Armenia-Azerbaijan military clashes threat Caucasus stability

The threat of a renewal of war between Azerbaijan and Armenia became increasingly possible following an escalation in border clashes between the two countries since they ended their war with a cease-fire agreement in 1994. The truce left unsettled the region of Nagorno-Karabakh -- an Armenian enclave in the middle of Azerbaijan's territory, and tensions have been rising again. As we've reported in the past, Russia is anticipating a war between Azerbaijan and Iran as early as this summer. ( "8-Mar-12 World View -- Russia preparing for a Caucasus war involving Iran") For that reason, Russia has been substantially reinforcing its military forces in the Caucasus. Russian forces invaded Georgia in 2008, and they are still occupying South Ossetia and Abkhazia -- Georgian provinces that Russia has hinted that it would like to annex to Russia. Russia is also occupying a portion of Georgia's southern Samtskhe-Javakheti province in the Akhalkalaki military base. Jamestown

Greece's bank withdrawals accelerate as Sunday's elections approach

Withdrawals from Greece's banks have been increasing each day for the last couple of weeks, in anticipation of bank runs after Sunday's elections. Greeks have been withdrawing €600-900 million per day, presumably stashing the money in their mattresses. According to senior banker, "As we approach the last few days before the elections I expect deposit withdrawals to rise further. And I wouldn't be surprised if by Friday we saw outflows of €1 billion to €1.5 billion." Capital (Athens) / WSJ