Europe 2019: Europe Today
The Spanish government swiftly clamped down on the 2017 Catalan independence attempt while Iraq pushed Kurdistan to come to terms. However, the UK remains set to leave the European Union in March 2019, although the exact details of its departure remain deeply contested.
20 Jan–24 Mar 2018 Operation Olive Branch▲
In Operation Olive Branch the Turkish Armed Forces invaded the majority-Kurdish Afrin District of northwest Syria, supported by Syrian Arab and Turkmen militias. After Afrin city fell in March 2018, an insurgency developed against Turkish occupation of the region.
25 Nov 2018 Kerch Strait incident▲
In November 2018 the Russian Coast Guard fired upon and captured three Ukrainian Navy vessels in the Kerch Strait—lying between Russia and the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula—as they attempted to pass from the Black Sea into the Sea of Azov en route to the Ukrainian port of Mariupol. Russia claimed that the ships had entered Russian territorial waters; Ukraine responded by declaring one month of regional martial law under the stated concern of a Russian invasion. Russian actions were criticized by Europe and the United States.
19 Dec 2018 Trump’s withdrawal from Syria▲
In December 2018, without any apparent consultation with Congress and against the recommendations of his advisors, United States President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that the war with ISIS (Daesh) had been won and the remaining 2,000 US troops in Syria would be withdrawn. The following day US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis tendered his resignation, expressing concern that the fight with ISIS was not yet complete and that the move handed control of the region to Russia and Iran and was an abandonment of the US’s Kurdish allies. Trump’s words were also met with concern by US allies, although they were greeted as a positive move by Russian President Vladimir Putin.