In early February, Karina Mateo, a logistics analyst for Boeing in San Antonio, Texas, was driving to work when she got a WhatsApp message from a random number with the +965 Kuwaiti country code. Mateo took a deep breath as she began to read. Two and a half years ago, her fiancé, Jermaine Rogers, was arrested in Kuwait on drug charges while working for General Dynamics on a contract with the U.S. military. His punishment had recently been reduced from death by public hanging to life in prison. The sender of the message identified himself as an American and fellow inmate at Kuwait's notorious Central Prison. As usual, the message was brief:
Amid escalating tensions between North Korea and, well, the rest of world (but especially the United States), Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has signaled that the White House is prepared to put the gloves back on to avoid full-scale war on the Korean Peninsula — even if that means temporarily waiving calls for Kim Jong Un to scrap the Hermit Kingdom’s nuclear weapons program.
Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP
As far as Russian President Vladimir Putin is concerned, the ISIS militants and the Western-backed rebels who helped flush the terror group from Syria represent the same thing: opposition to President Bashar al-Assad, whose violent response to peaceful protests of his regime in 2011 ignited a civil war that has claimed as many as half a million lives and left much of his country in tatters.