Philippine communist insurgency: There are indications that insurgents affiliated with the Communist Party of the Philippines have seized on Manila’s pre-occupation with combating Islamic State-affiliate groups to up the momentum of its attacks. Richard Javad Heydarian writes that a series of armed encounters as well as the recent raising of a luxury tourist compound by communist rebels has put President Duterte’s once hopeful peace initiative with the decades-old insurgency in a state of limbo.
Seoul-Pyongyang, silence remains: South Korea’s requests to hold talks with the North’s military and to negotiate over families separated by the Korean War have been deftly rejected by Kim Jong Un’s regime, reports Robert E. McCoy. By holding out, Pyongyang will be able to demand more and greater concessions while also resisting any discussion on its nuclear or long-range weapons programs.
Great Firewall cracking? This month has seen a renewed crackdown on Virtual Private Network providers in China and, ironically, foreign firms could stand to be the beneficiaries, writes Lin Wanxia. China’s so-called ‘Great Firewall’ has been playing a game of cat-and-mouse with VPNs for many years and the latest government’s crackdown may eliminate local players only to allow international operators to flourish.
Syria’s “de-conflict” truce: Syrian opposition leader Mohammad Alloush seems to have realized that making a deal with the Russians is better than continuing an uphill battle against them without broad support from elsewhere. Sami Moubayed writes that the “de-conflict” agreement between the rebel opposition and Russia basically ends the fighting in the war-torn agricultural belt that surrounds the Syrian capital, lifts a four-year siege and pardons the rebels but it also keeps the entire territory firmly in the hands of Damascus.
Timor-Leste election results: Preliminary indications from Timor-Leste’s general election indicate the two largest political parties, which formed a de facto ruling partnership in 2015, have retained a majority of votes, reports David Hutt. About 750,000 registered voters turned out to select their parliamentary representatives in this fledgling nation’s fourth general election, that was first that didn’t require supervision by the United Nations.