Home' Greymouth Star : March 18th 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
he Sunni-Shia civil wars
in Iraq and Syria are both
nearing their end, and in
both cases the Shias have
won — thanks largely to
American military help
in Iraq’s case, and to a Russian military
intervention in Syria.
Yet Russia and the United States are
not allies in the Middle East. At least not
President Trump may get in bed with
the Russians and the Shias eventually, but
he doesn’t seem to have given the matter
much thought yet. So for the moment
US policy follows the line laid down by
Ex-president Obama was determined
not to send American troops into another
Middle Eastern war.
Even as the Sunni extremists of Islamic
State and the Nusra Front (al-Qaeda
under another name) expanded their
control in Syria and then seized much
of Iraq, Obama restricted the US
intervention to training local troops and
deploying American air power.
In Iraq the local government ’s troops
were mostly Shia (as is most of the
population), and US support was
sufficient without committing American
troops to ground combat. The Iraqi army
is now in the final stages of reconquering
Mosul, Islamic State’s capital in Iraq and
an almost entirely Sunni city. Yet there
have been no massacres of Sunnis, and
only a handful of American casualties.
In Syria, the United States strongly
opposed the Shia-dominated regime of
President Bashar al-Assad, but it did not
fight him. Obama found local allies to
wage a ground war against Islamic State
in the form of the Syrian Kurds, who are
Sunni, but more interested in a separate
Kurdish state than a Sunni-ruled Syria.
That collaboration worked well too.
With US training and air support, the
Syrian Kurds drove Islamic State steadily
back, and are now closing in on Raqqa,
its capital in Syria. And in all that time,
Obama avoided taking sides between
Shias and Sunnis in what most Arabs
now see as a Shia-Sunni war.
Obama even managed to maintain
America’s traditional alliances with
Saudi Arabia and Turkey despite the
fact that those two countries, both ruled
by devout Sunni regimes, were sending
money and arms to the extremists of
Islamic State and the Nusra Front.
He successfully walked a fine line in the
Middle East for six whole years.
It ’s doubtful that Donald Trump has the
skill, knowledge and patience to go on
walking that line.
His instinct is to treat Iran as America’s
most dangerous enemy in the Middle
East, which would certainly please Saudi
Arabia. But Iran is Russia’s close ally in
the Syrian war, and Trump’s instinct is
also to get very close to Vladimir Putin.
There’s a similar problem with Turkey.
On one hand, Turkey is an important
NATO ally and it has now sent its army
into Syria, ostensibly to help destroy
On the other hand, Turkey is ruled by
the authoritarian and impulsive President
Recep Tayyib Erdogan, a mini-Trump
who sprays abuse at anybody who crosses
him (he recently called the Germans
‘Nazis’ and the D utch “Nazi remnants
In 2015 Erdogan deliberately re-started
a war against Turkey ’s own Kurdish
minority in order to attract right-wing
votes and win a close election. Now he
has sent the Turkish army into Syria,
allegedly to help destroy Islamic State but
in fact mainly to smash the embryonic
state that the Syrian Kurds have been
building across northern Syria. Those
Syrian Kurds have been America’s closest
allies against Islamic State for years.
There are even Turkish troops in
northern Iraq (without permission), and
Erdogan has threatened to use them if
the Iraqi army abuses Sunni Muslims
during the reconquest of Mosul. Iraq’s
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi replied
(in November): “ We do not want war
with Turkey but if a confrontation
happens we are ready for it.”
Erdogan has gone rogue, and Turkey ’s
recent, quite fragile reconciliation with
Russia is not restraining him.
The two countries, together with Iran,
are jointly super vising the shaky ceasefire
in Syria, but they do not share the same
goals and they are not really allies.
Into the midst of all this vicious
complexity wanders the boy-man Donald
Trump, with his full-spectrum ignorance,
short attention-span and shorter
temper. His appointee as National
Security Adviser, General Michael
Flynn, doubtless advised him to support
Turkey ’s ambitions, but then it was
revealed that Flynn was in the pay of the
Turkish government and he had to
If Trump cosies up to the Russians
instead, he will have to accept a close
relationship with Assad’s brutal regime
in Syria (no problem there) and also
with Russia’s main ally in the Syrian war,
Iran (potentially big problem there). But
various latent conflicts are likely to burst
into flame as the big civil wars in Iraq
and Syria stagger to an end.
Trump will have to jump one way or
another quite soon.
God Bless You — really?!
When I was a child, it was common for
family or friends to say to me “bless you”
whenever I sneezed.
Now that I seem to sneeze about seven
times in a row, people have stopped
saying “bless you” to me.
Perhaps they are no longer as concerned
as folk were in the old days when they
thought I had lost the Spirit each time
I sneezed. Another one of those old
superstitions, along with “cross fingers”
or “touch wood ” which all had a religious
What does it really mean to bless
One common way is for us to do
something kind, friendly, generous or
thoughtful to another person.
In our best moments that is what most
people in Greymouth do.
In fact it is part of the trait of being a
However, there is another dimension to
the statement “bless you.”
It is, in fact, a prayer to Jesus, asking
Him to bless the person. How special is
that?! Think how wonderful it would be
if God Himself was to pour a blessing of
some sort into us.
One of His blessings might be to do
something kind or generous or loving
or thoughtful for us. That would be
pretty neat! He does and He has. I
see His blessing whenever something
works out just right, or I meet someone
unexpectedly with whom I was hoping to
catch up but couldn’t find the time.
There are many instances of such
For those with faith, they are blessings
from God. For those who don’t believe,
they are simply co-incidences.
When we offer a prayer of blessing in
the name of Jesus to someone, then we
are asking for something very special for
Praying a prayer of blessing over our
children, our family members or our
friends will be one of the kindest acts
we could ever do for them. God longs to
answer these positive prayers of blessings
such as praying for them to grow in faith,
to experience the love of God, and for
God to do those special little blessings
day by day.
How thankful I am that my parents
prayed prayers of blessing over me as a
child and then as an adult.
They not only prayed, they played their
part in putting their own blessings into
For those with faith in the Lord Jesus a
blessing prayer is a powerful act of faith
towards those you know.
Archdeacon Robin Kingston
Greymouth- Kumara Anglican Parish
4 - Saturday, March 18, 2017
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uLetters to the editor
978 - English king St Edward the Martyr
is murdered at Corfe Castle on the orders of
his stepmother, eager to see her son Ethelred
1229 - Roman Emperor Frederick
II crowns himself king of Jerusalem
during the Sixth Crusade.
1662 - The first buses, eight-seater
vehicles known as “carrosses a cinq
solz”, run in Paris.
1834 - Six English labourers,
dubbed the Tolpuddle Martyrs, are
sentenced to seven years banishment
to Australian penal colony for forming a trade
1910 - US magician Harry Houdini completes
three flights in a biplane at Digger’s Rest in
Victoria, the first controlled flight in a powered
aircraft in Australia.
1914 - Fourteen suffragettes are arrested and
fined in Perth for wearing unsheathed hatpins
(which they were said to have used as weapons).
1931 - Schick markets the first electric razor.
1967 - Oil tanker Torrey Canyon is wrecked
off the Cornish coast of England, spilling
919,000 barrels of oil.
1969 - US President Richard Nixon orders
secret bombing of Cambodia; United States and
Soviet Union propose international treaty to ban
nuclear weapons from ocean floor.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Stephane Mallarme, French poet (1842-
1898); Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Russian
composer (1844-1908); Neville Chamberlain,
British statesman (1869-1940);
Robert Donat, English actor
(1905-1958); John Updike, US
author (1932-2009); FW de Klerk,
former South African president
(1936-); Wilson Pickett, US
singer (1941-2006); Dick Smith,
Australian businessman and aviator
“ It’s easy to be independent when you’ve
got money. But to be independent when you
haven’t got a thing — that ’s the Lord’s test.”
— Mahalia Jackson, American gospel singer
“A friend loves at all times, And a brother is
born for adversity.” — Proverbs
uFood for thought
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“They want a woman
to go to this civil
“ What for? To teach
her to cook. ”
These remarks were made at a meeting of
the Brunner Borough Council last night in
a discussion over facets of the civil defence
scheme involving the borough.
They moved Cr N E Gillman to comment: “I
thought they were short of money. Surely this
is one thing they could cut down on — these
courses. They should fire this in the wastepaper
basket, at least for a while while the country is
in its present economic state.”
It developed that a woman for a civil defence
course at Burnham Military Camp was called
for and one of the subjects would be learning
to cook ... outside.
Strongman miners did not work today as a
protest against a “grave injustice” they allege
has been done them. Work will probably
resume on Monday. Earlier this week it was
discovered that two miners had some of their
pay docked because they had walked out of the
mine with injured men and had not returned to
their places of work after wards.
“On both occasions the men were instructed
by an official to accompany their workmates
from the mine. Union members feel a grave
injustice has been done by the management in
taking this action,” a statement by the Runanga
State Miners’ Union concluded.
Greymouth will have a ‘public relations
officer’ in America next month when national
marathon champion Dave McKenzie competes
in the Boston Marathon on April 17.
McKenzie will not wear the silver fern,
instead he will don his green Greymouth
singlet with its gold G.
WORLD IN FOCUS
with Gwynne Dyer
Wellington’s Mayor wants to exhume
Katherine Mansfield’s remains in France so
she can be laid to rest in the capital.
Justin Lester has written to the Mayor of
Avon, where Mansfield’s grave is.
He said Katherine Mansfield House and
Garden is leading the repatriation of the
author’s remains but was happy to offer his
“It’s about making sure Katherine Mansfield
is in a place where she did want to be buried.
“S he fell ill very quickly and she wasn’t living
in the place where she was buried for very
long, she was there for a short period of time.
There’s no real connection to that location,
whereas Wellington was her birthplace and a
place she held fondly in her heart.”
Mansfield died in France of tuberculosis in
1923. She was 34.
Lester said it was early days and the move
would need the support of French authorities
and Mansfield’s family to move ahead with the
“There is no rush, there’s no urgency around
this but I think it is a nice idea and something
I’m happy to support. ”
He said Katherine Mansfield House and
Garden had been in contact with Mansfield’s
remaining family members.
“They ’ve been talking to some of them and
had some support but it’s a complex process
and very personal to the family as well, so
those conversations would likely be ongoing.”
Lester said it was too soon to estimate
how much the move would cost and where
Mansfield’s final resting place in the capital
He said more support would be sought if the
idea got approval from those directly involved.
“ We’d build that up into a much larger
campaign to get some support and potentially
some sponsorship and also to see if
Wellingtonians think it ’s a good idea. ”
Lester said the process to exhume the
remains would be based on previous efforts
like the returning of Maori remains from
“ We’ve been there and done that as a city
and Te Papa would have extensive experience.”
— Newstalk ZB
God bless you
Choose a side
Trump and the Sunni-Shia War
Call for Mansfield’s remains
to be brought home to NZ
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