Fighting between the Myanmar military and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) has erupted just as the government aims to step up efforts to sign a nation-wide ceasefire with various ethnic armed groups. There are different versions as to why the Myanmar Army has stepped up efforts to seize control of rebel-held territory. This article looks at the origins of the recent clashes and questions why the conflict has restarted.
Ukraine’s government said on Sunday it was sending security forces into the eastern city of Slaviansk where pro-Russian militants have seized control in what Kiev describes as an act of aggression by the Kremlin. Any operation to dislodge the armed militants risks tipping the stand-off into a new, dangerous phase because Moscow has warned it will act to protect eastern Ukraine’s Russian-speakers if they come under attack.
There is a tongue-in-cheek saying in America — attributed to Mark Twain, who lived through the early phase of the California water wars — that “whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over.” Sanaa in Yemen risks becoming the first capital city to run out of water. If Bangladesh bears the main impact of China’s damming of River Brahmaputra, the resulting exodus of thirsty refugees will compound India’s security challenges.
China is practicing for a “short, sharp war” with Japan. That is the assessment of a top U.S. Navy intelligence analyst, who told colleagues that China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is currently conducting training exercises in a practice scenario in which the military takes the Senkaku Islands, near Taiwan. “We witnessed the massive amphibious and cross-military region enterprise,” Capt. James Fannell, deputy chief of staff intelligence and information operations for the U.S. Pacific Fleet (PACFLEET) said at the West 2014 conference on Feb. 13 in San Diego.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych threatened to crack down on anti-government protesters after the bloodiest clashes in the country’s three-month standoff killed at least 25 people. The opposition “has crossed the line when they called people to arms,” Yanukovych said on his website today. “This is an outrageous violation of the law. My advisers happen to be trying to talk me into a tough scenario, the use of force. But I have always considered the use of force a false route.” Yanukovych, backed by Russia, is seeking to end the crisis that has destabilized the country of 45 million.
The sources told Rai Alyoum news agency in London that US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford’s remarks about the need to escalate the situation in the southern front in Syria and further comments by the US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman; who said the US administration has a “Plan B” in the event the Geneva II talks failed indicate that the Jordanian-Syrian borders will become a major gateway to transfer advanced military equipment to the Syrian armed opposition from the US and Europe. The sources said that American and European military and security intelligence experts are meeting in Jordan to put together two scenarios in case the talks failed.
The European Union plans to deploy 1,000 soldiers in the Central African Republic to assist in the restoration of order, said the head of European diplomacy, Catherine Ashton, after a meeting with the Security Council. So far, the most commonly cited figure for a European operation was 500 effective. “They will be more than 500 men,” Ashton told reporters, adding that “it is anticipated double that number.” “I am confident that the force (European) will be on the ground very, very soon,” he said, without specifying a date.
Houthi groups seized control over large swaths in the northern directorate of Huth, Amran province, on Sunday after tribesman withdrew following two days of deadly clashes, a tribal source said. “The Houthis were able to control at least five districts in Huth after tribesmen retreated following disagreements with their leader,” the source, who asked to remain anonymous, told Anadolu Agency. Violence broke out in Huth on Friday and continued to rage into Saturday, leaving at least 63 Houthis and 15 tribesmen dead and 163 others injured, including 110 Houthis.
Shocking before-and-after photos show how Syrian government ‘wiped entire neighbourhoods off the map’
The Syrian government used controlled explosives and bulldozers to raze thousands of residential buildings, in some cases entire neighbourhoods, in a campaign that appeared designed to punish civilians sympathetic to the opposition or to cause disproportionate harm to them, an international human rights group said Thursday. The demolitions took place between July 2012 and July 2013 in seven pro-opposition districts in and around the capital, Damascus, and the central city of Hama, according to a 38-page report by Human Rights Watch.
Afghanistan would slide into a bloody civil war if the US-led coalition forces walked away without cutting a peace deal with a medley of resistance groups in the war-torn country, says an elusive Afghan warlord and former prime minister. The warning from Engineer Gulbuddin Hekmatyar – who also heads the Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) — came as foreign forces prepare to pull out after fighting a bloody and costly war for 12-plus years. So far, the United States and its allies have failed to make peace with the Taliban or any other militia.
Syrian troops mostly withdrew from majority Kurdish areas in summer 2012, focusing their attention on rebel fighters and enabling the Kurds to develop semi-autonomy. Kurdish fighters, especially those affiliated with the PYD, have since fought fierce battles against extremist opposition groups. Two months ago, three Kurdish-majority regions declared self-rule, and one of them named a municipal council on Tuesday. The Syrian Kurdish Supreme Council has forged an alliance with representatives of the Syriacs, one of the oldest branches of Christianity.
Hard to believe that our mundane social media banter could have an impact on the civil war raging in the Democratic Republic of Congo for more than a decade. The problem isn’t the content of these messages, it’s the devices used to send them. Smartphones, tablets, PCs and other devices often have electrical components made from so-called “conflict minerals”—gold, tantalum, tin and tungsten—taken from mines in the DRC, where armed groups take a cut of the profits to fund their violent campaigns.
Syria has become a major amphetamines exporter and consumer as the trauma of the country’s brutal civil war fuels demand and the breakdown in order creates opportunity for producers. Drugs experts, traders and local activists say Syrian production of the most popular of the stimulants, known by its former brand name Captagon, accelerated in 2013, outpacing production in other countries in the region such as Lebanon. Reports of seizures and interviews with people connected to the trade suggest it generates hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenues in Syria, potentially providing funding for weapons, while the drug itself helps combatants dig in for long, gruelling battles.
Top economic advisers are forecasting war and unrest. They give the following reasons for their forecast:
Countries start wars to distract their populations from lousy economies. Currency and trade wars end up turning into shooting wars. The U.S. is still seeking to secure oil supplies, and the U.S. doesn’t like any country to leave the dollar standard. Additionally, the American policy of using the military to contain China’s growing economic influence – and of considering economic rivalry to be a basis for war – is creating a tinderbox.
Sudan and South Sudan have begun talks to deploy a joint force to protect oilfields in the South threatened by rebels, Sudan’s foreign minister says. The news comes after Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir flew to South Sudan to discuss the unrest there with his counterpart, Salva Kiir. At least 1,000 people have been killed since violence erupted on December 15. Nearly 200,000 people have been displaced in the conflict, which has taken on ethnic undertones. President Kiir is from the majority Dinka community while his rival Dr Riek Machar is from the Nuer group.
Are we on the brink of war? Academic sparks debate by drawing comparisons between 1914 past and 2014 present
A CENTURY ago, a simple assassination was enough to topple a tenuous balance between the old and new worlds. The resulting war killed millions and spanned the globe. Is history about to repeat itself? The year was 1914. The world was experimenting with economic globalisation. Optimists believed this new world economy would eliminate war. But the concept proved to be in conflict with old notions of empire and fresh attitudes of expansionism. There was friction between the industrial and military powers of the “old” world and the ambitions of the revitalised “new” economies.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki reversed a decision to withdraw soldiers from Anbar cities and ordered reinforcements to the mainly Sunni Arab province to tackle attacks by militants. Clashes broke out in Anbar, west of Baghdad, as security forces tore down a year-old Sunni Arab protest camp outside the provincial capital Ramadi on Monday. On Wednesday, police reportedly left many positions in the Anbar city of Fallujah, while militants torched police stations both there and in Ramadi. “We will not withdraw the army” and “we will send additional forces.”
Imagine this: In the early morning, a barrage of more than 1,000 Chinese ballistic and cruise missiles bombard Taiwanese civilian and military targets.
As the U.S. Air Force stationed in Okinawa prepares to rush to the aid of its sworn ally, Chinese cyber attacks wreak havoc on America’s air defense and targeting systems. A second volley of ballistic missiles detonates in space, destroying critical military satellites, while a third rains down on the base, damaging jets and leaving runways unusable.
Poison In Our Waters: A Brief Overview of the Proposed Militarization of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
The U.S. has long viewed the island of Guam, an unincorporated U.S. territory that already hosts two of the Department of Defense’s most “valuable” bases in the world,2an indispensable part of its “Pacific Century.” Prior to talk of the “Pacific Pivot,” the Governments of Japan (“GOJ”) and the United States agreed to reduce the number of Marines on Okinawa in response to intense local pressure. Defense Department planning for Guam is closely bound up with changing plans for basing in Okinawa. In 2006, the governments of Japan and the US formalized a “roadmap” to move 8,600 Marines from Okinawa to Guam.
China stepped up its engagement with South Sudan this year, pledging $43 million (€31.5 million) to conduct a geological study to help the Juba government allocate mining licences in its efforts to map the country’s mineral resources. South Sudanese officials believe the oil-rich new nation also has unexplored deposits of gold, diamonds, copper, uranium, manganese and iron ore. Earlier this year, South Sudan introduced a mining law aimed at drawing foreign investment but it will take time to develop the sector because of the absence of almost any infrastructure or geological surveys.
Barack Obama announced Thursday that he had deployed 45 American military personnel to South Sudan to protect the U.S. embassy and Americans in the country as it teeters toward ethnic civil war. Violence erupted this week in South Sudan following what appeared to be a weekend coup by the ousted Vice President as ethnic tensions plague the newly independent African nation. The International Crisis Group said South Sudan is “on the cusp of civil war.”
European countries bordering Russia’s territory of Kaliningrad say they are worried at reports that Moscow has put nuclear-capable missiles there. Lithuania and Poland both issued statements of concern. Russia has not confirmed the report but insists it has every right to station missiles in its western-most region. Moscow has long threatened to move Iskander short-range missile systems to Kaliningrad in response to the United States’ own European missile shield. Russia sees the missile shield as a threat to its nuclear deterrent.
France is pushing its European partners this week to create a fund to pay for overseas military interventions, like the operation France is leading in the Central African Republic. Other European governments aren’t too excited about the idea. The dispute exposes a divide between France, which has several military bases abroad and argues that Europe has a responsibility to former colonies in Africa, and countries like Germany that are wary in today’s economic times of intervening and spending taxpayer money abroad.
The U.S. military needs a more focused war plan specific to China, especially after China’s recent declaration of an air defense zone over the East China Sea, a group of defense analysts told a prominent House subcommittee Wednesday. As part of the Pentagon’s overall defense strategy to pivot to the Pacific, the U.S. should buy more Virginia-class attack submarines, prioritizing long-range anti-ship missiles, carrier-based drones, and missile defense technology, the analysts told the House Armed Services’ Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee.
France vowed Tuesday to finish its job in the Central African Republic after the death of two elite soldiers highlighted the risks of a mission to disarm rogue rebels who have plunged the country into chaos. Antoine Le Quinio, 22, and Nicolas Vokaer, 23, both members of the crack 8th Parachute regiment based at Castres in southwestern France, died after being caught up in a fierce firefight during a night patrol in the capital Bangui, where bloody sectarian clashes left hundreds dead last week.
The US has decided to transport the American troops in Burundi to Central African Republic (CAR), as part of an international effort to quell sectarian violence in the country. The decision was taken upon warnings that the country could be on the verge of genocide, in order to assist both French and African Union troops who already have been deployed. The Pentagon Assistant Press Secretary Carl Woog said in a statement that the decision was made after Hagel spoke Sunday evening in Kabul with French Minister of Defense Yves Le Drian.
The Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) operates Boeing E-767s, 160-foot airplanes stuffed with radar and electronics that enable them to detect aircraft from 200 miles away. They confirm that the Chinese drone is wheeling above the Senkakus, and Japan dispatches F-15Js to intercept it—and shoot it down—obviously ignoring China’s Air Defense ID Zone. Chinese long-range, back-scatter radar spots the F-15Js in the air, and China dispatches quad-prop Y-8X maritime patrol for a better-resolution look. They also alert their best fighters—Sukhoi Flankers (Su 30) and Chengdu J-10s—to prepare to take off.
According to the ‘Great Men’ theory of history advanced by Thomas Carlyle, global events are shaped in significant part by the decisions and personalities of individual leaders. If this account has even marginal merit, then we might survey with optimism the personalities of the most powerful global leaders who preside over the current turbulent times in the Middle East. They have exhibited remarkable restraint and wisdom, in the face of compelling pressures to fuel further insoluble violent conflicts.
The Minister of Defence yesterday morning at the Elysee Palace, in a small board, the military options of French intervention in Central Africa. According to the scenarios, the reinforcements would be about 350 to about a thousand men, for the most part already prépostionnés Africa. They would be added to the 400 French soldiers currently in Bangui during Operation Boali. The timing of the intervention is conditional on passing a resolution by the Security Council of the UN, to provide a legal framework which will be under Chapter VII – that is to say in a robust manner. It is a Franco-African operation, also involving countries of Central Africa.
MADRID is in danger of sparking a military conflict with Britain over Gibraltar if it does not tone down its actions, a senior MP warned today as the Royal Navy was involved in a new stand-off with a Spanish ship. However, referring to the armed standoff on November 1, Mr Dobbin told MPs: “Reports state that guns were pointed and thankfully no shots were fired. “This diary of events highlights the serious nature the British government of Gibraltar is dealing with.”
French troops should be allowed to hunt down al Qaeda-linked militants beyond Mali’s borders, French army chief Admiral Edouard Guillaud said in a rare interview on Thursday. Nine months after they were scattered across the Sahara by a French military offensive, Islamists in Mali have named new leaders and are making a comeback as France whittles down its military presence. They have launched attacks on U.N. peacekeepers and killed two French journalists this month. France retains about 2,800 soldiers in its former colony.
As the latest militant-Kurdish military showdown eases in northeast Syria, Baghdad is keeping a close watch on a battle which threatens even greater instability in Iraq. Kurdish forces and al Qaeda-linked groups have for weeks fought over territory, with the Kurds taking over a key border point late last month. But with the likelihood of more fighting to follow, Baghdad is worried of militants securing a wider corridor between eastern Syria and western Iraq.
Asia is now more prone to conflict than at any time in recent memory, American Enterprise Institute (AEI) academic Michael Auslin wrote in an article published in the Wall Street Journal. “The East China Sea may see the world’s first war started by aerial drones,” Auslin wrote in the article, which also appeared on the institute’s Web site. The British version of the Journal also published an editorial this week titled “Alarm over the Taiwan Strait, which said it is time for Taipei and Washington to shore up Taiwan’s deteriorating defenses.
Oxford academic Paul Collier is well known for his book The Bottom Billion in which he maps the links between the world’s poorest people and the world’s most war-torn countries. In a chapter in a new book for IPPR, edited by Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, Douglas Alexander, Collier argues that what Africa needs is an “African NATO”. He writes that the international community oscillates between “pusillanimous passivity” and “gung-ho intervention”.
Along the lines of the intensifying regional rivalries between Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Iran, the Lebanese arena continues to play the role of a “mailbox” for sending messages between the concerned states – an issue that was apparent in the continuing clashes in Tripoli between Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen. There is talk of a Saudi-Syrian struggle in the poorer districts of Tripoli, manifested in rumors of massive amounts of money being transferred to the different groups and their fighters.
Renewed protests against president Omar Al Bashir in Sudan have led to speculation about whether the Arab Spring has belatedly reached the country’s borders. Last year, however, similar demonstrations disappeared soon after they began and it is highly likely that matters will turn out the same this time around. There are direct parallels with Syria, however, where the regime has confounded expectations by clinging to power against an uprising that is in its third year.
China is not yet a unified great power. This is a humiliation to the Chinese people, a shame to the children of the Yellow Emperor. For the sake of national unification and dignity, China has to fight six wars in the coming fifty years. Some are regional wars; the others may be total wars. No matter what is the nature, each one of them is inevitable for Chinese unification. The 1st War: Unification of Taiwan (Year 2020 to 2025) Though we are enjoying peace on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, we should not daydream a resolution of peaceful unification from Taiwan administration (no matter it is Chinese Nationalist Party or Democratic Progressive Party).
France’s foreign minister heads to the Central African Republic (CAR) on Sunday aiming to drum up international interest for a largely forgotten crisis that risks dragging Paris into a new military intervention in one of its former colonies. The nation has descended into chaos since mostly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted President Francois Bozize in March, the latest coup in the country that remains one of the world’s poorest despite resources ranging from gold to uranium.
Turkey’s parliament on Thursday extended for one year a mandate that would allow Ankara to order military strikes against Kurdish rebels holed up in neighbouring northern Iraq.The vote coincides with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s reforms to boost the rights of the country’s sizeable Kurdish community and secure an end to the nearly 30-year battle with the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK has been fighting for self-rule in the mainly Kurdish southeast and east of Turkey since 1984
“[Syria] is the corridor that connects Lebanon and Iraq, and the combination of activities in both regions, with the hopes of creating instability in Jordan and crushing Israel,” he tells U.S. News. Kahlili says the Guard has been operating in Syria through small bases since the early days of Iran’s revolutionary government. It has established command and control centers and monitors Islamic extremist movements from there. It also trains and supplies organizations such as Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant political party that has sent an undisclosed number of fighters in support of the Syrian regime.
Saudi Arabia, exasperated with U.S. vacillation related to Syria’s chemical arsenal and now its effort to reconcile with Iran, Riyadh’s foremost adversary, is forging a new alliance of Islamist rebels in Syria under a pro-Saudi warlord to supersede the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army. Riyadh also wants to foment an Iraq-style “Sunni Awakening” to unite Syria’s majority sect to topple the minority Damascus regime of President Bashar Assad. “The Saudis have enlisted ’50 brigades’ and some thousands of fighters under a new structure headed by Zahren Alloush, head of Liwa al-Islam, the new group’s most powerful Salafist brigade.”
The indelible factors of geography in terms of ‘location,’ ‘space’ and ‘terrain’ in shaping the destiny of nations remains profound. The conflict that has been going on ‘for’ and ‘in’ the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) for seven decades is a prime example; it is the State’s locational position on the face of the earth for China, India and Pakistan that is driving the triangular competition in which Pakistan’s virulence is being used both as the means to ‘contain’ India, and her territory, including what she occupies to act as a spring board for China’s regional outreach.
The CIA is expanding a clandestine effort to train opposition fighters in Syria amid concern that moderate, U.S.-backed militias are rapidly losing ground in the country’s civil war, U.S. officials said. But the CIA program is so minuscule that it is expected to produce only a few hundred trained fighters each month even after it is enlarged, a level that officials said will do little to bolster rebel forces that are being eclipsed by radical Islamists in the fight against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Because China believes it is much weaker than the United States, they are more likely to launch a massive preemptive strike in a crisis. Here’s the other bad news: The current US concept for high-tech warfare, known as Air-Sea Battle, might escalate the conflict even further towards a “limited” nuclear war, says one of the top American experts on the Chinese military. What US analysts call an “anti-access/area denial” strategy is what China calls “counter-intervention” and “active defense,” and the Chinese appraoch is born of a deep sense of vulnerability that dates back 200 years
If any extra evidence was needed to shatter the myth of a “revolution” struggling for a future “democratic” Syria, the big news of the week cleared any remaining doubts. Eleven, 13 or 14 “rebel” brigades (depending on the source) have ditched the “moderate”, US-propped Syrian National Council (SNC) and the not-exactly Free Syrian Army (FSA). The leaders of the bunch are the demented jihadis of Jabhat al-Nusra – but it includes other nasties such as the Tawhid brigades and the Tajammu Fastaqim Kama Ummirat in Aleppo, some of them until recently part of the collapsing FSA.
Sources indicate the strike inside Somalia will include advisers from the Somali government. It will target al-Shabaab resources and requires an assault force to go in. The source added: “There are several levels to this. Any action needs to be signed off at the highest level. “We need to make sure we have a Somali government presence and we need to avoid collateral damage with cruise missiles which can kill innocent civilians. “That means this is a job for blades, men on the ground.”
This is the Operations Coordination Centre – Provincial, or OCCP, where representatives of the Afghan army, police and security service mentored by Australian soldiers coordinate security activities for the entire province. Each morning starts with a roundup of the night’s activities. It hosts regular meetings of the provincial governor, chief of police, provincial army commander, head of intelligence and the commander of Combined Team Oruzgan, Australian Colonel Wade Stothart, to coordinate plans for upcoming events.
You are reading this on a smartphone, then you are probably holding in your palm the conflict minerals that have sent the biggest manufacturing trade group in the U.S. into a court battle with the Securities and Exchange Commission. At stake in this battle between the National Association of Manufacturers and the government is whether consumers will know the potentially blood-soaked origins of the products they use every day and who gets to craft rules for multinational corporations—Congress or the business itself.
On August 23, Paraguayans woke up to news that resembled more the days of Stroessner’s dictatorship than those of a developing democracy. Under the new changes, Cartes can now send the military “to face any form of internal and external aggression that endangers the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the country.” Thus, the president can decide the use of members of the armed forces within the country any time he sees fit by a mere presidential decree.
The Turkish army started to build a new military base on the top of Kel Mountain, which is located near the Syrian coastal city of Latakia, Turkish Daily News reported on Sunday. Trucks carrying with military equipment from southern Hatay province were heading to the Kel Mountain, the report said, adding that soldiers have started to assemble the equipment on the top of the mountain. Meanwhile, armored vehicles and tanks have also been dispatched to the southeastern city of Sanliurfa’s Mursitpinar border post, according to the report.
The Ocean Fortune, a 380-foot-long workhorse of the global arms trade, left this Black Sea port with unknown cargo concealed in its cavernous hold. The ship steamed south, slipped through the Bosporus Strait and turned toward the eastern Mediterranean. Then it disappeared.The ship’s apparent vanishing act repeated a pattern seen by other freighters embarking from the same Black Sea port — a known point of origin for weapons shipments — over the past year.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Friday urged the Russian administration to distance from the threats made by the scandalous politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky against the Baltic States.
During a visit in Vilnius, the head of the Alliance dismissed as fully unacceptable the statement by the leader of Russian Liberal Democratic Party Zhirinovsky, who said the Baltic States would be occupied or destroyed, if they choose to support military strikes on Syria.
President Obama is requesting congressional authorization for military strikes in Syria, and at this point it appears likely that his case will be supported. Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime has created plenty of conflict in the Middle East, but the last straw and what has prompted military action has been the use of chemical weapons. Should the U.S. continue its planned limited military strikes, Bloomberg points out that the assets are already in place. Air bases on both sides of Syria and several ships in the Eastern Mediterranean and Red Sea are idly waiting for orders.
Qatar’s LNG supply to the world will not be affected if the US launches an attack on Syria, a senior official has said. When asked whether there will be any consequences on the LNG supply routes going out from Qatar in the event of a US attack on Syria, Nakilat’s managing director Mohamed Ghannam said: “I see no reason (for it to get affected in any way).” According to him, Qatargas and RasGas will be able to honour their commitments for the supply of LNG and Nakilat will be able to deliver the cargoes as scheduled .
Western intelligence services have made much of Hezbollah’s military support for the embattled Damascus regime in Syria’s civil war, but there’s another, less well-known threat emerging there. That’s the growing force of Iraqi Shiite fighters who’re also fighting to keep Syrian President Bashar Assad in power. Many of them were trained by Hezbollah and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps to fight the Americans in Iraq, and now form a major element in Iran’s new “foreign legion,” intelligence officers and military experts say.
Russian naval vessels in the Mediterranean are capable of reacting to an escalation in the Syria conflict, a military source said, as Moscow fine tunes its maritime presence ahead of possible US military action. “Today we consider our presence in the eastern Mediterranean to be sufficient to solve the tasks. If necessary, together with submarine forces, they (the ships) are capable even today of influencing a military situation,” a general staff said. “We are ready to solve sudden task.
On Aug. 26, I read a rather frightening op-ed in the Los Angeles Times coauthored by David Gompert — until recently the second-highest-ranking U.S. intelligence official in the Obama administration. What scared me was his sober assessment of the possibility that a conflict in the maritime arena could trigger a China-U.S. Armageddon — at least for Asia.There is now little doubt that China and the West are going to clash. They are already competing in both military and civilian ways and more fundamentally in values and the pursuit of political power. The as yet unanswered questions are will the conflicts become “physical,” and if so how and why?
Russia has sent a reconnaissance vessel from its Black Sea fleet to the coast off Syria, a report said Monday, as Moscow anxiously watches Western plans for military action against the Damascus regime, a report said Monday. The SSV-201 intelligence ship Priazovye on Sunday evening started its voyage from its home port of Sevastopol in Ukraine “to the appointed region of military service in the eastern Mediterranean,” a military source told the Interfax news agency. “The crew has the mission… of collecting operative information in the region of an escalating conflict,” it added.
But while isolationists (or non-interventionists) are panicking over a possible course of action that doesn’t involve boots on the ground, what I find ironic is that the U.S., along with several other actors across the globe, have already had a covert presence within Syria for the last two years – supplying everything from intelligence to weapons to both sides of the conflict. I think it’s important to remind everyone exactly which external actors are involved in this civil war as well as what their stake is in the conflict.
Amid Syria Tensions, Russia Is Sending Anti-Submarine Ship, Missile Carrying Cruiser To Mediterranean Sea
“The known situation that is currently observed in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea requires us to make certain adjustments to our naval group. A large anti-submarine ship of the Northern Fleet is expected to join it within the next few days. The Black Sea Fleet’s missile carrying cruiser Moskva, which is now wrapping up its mission in the North Atlantic and will soon head toward the Strait of Gibraltar, will join it a little later,” the source said. In autumn, the Pacific Fleet’s missile carrying cruiser Varyag is expected to replace the large anti-submarine ship Vice Admiral Panteleyev within the Russian naval group in the Mediterranean Sea, he said.
“Warplanes and military transporters” have reportedly been moved to Britain’s Akrotiri airbase in Cyprus in the latest sign of the allied forces’ preparations for a military strike on Syria amid bellicose rhetoric against the Syrian government. Two commercial pilots who regularly fly from Larnaca, Cyprus, claim to have spotted C-130 transport planes from their own aircraft and small formations of possibly European fighter jets from their radar screens, according to the Guardian.Akrotiri airbase is less than 100 miles from Syria, making it a likely hub for a bombing campaign. Residents near the airfield confirmed to the Guardian that “activity there has been much higher than normal over the past 48 hours.”
Turkey has put its armed forces on alert to guard against threats from Syria as Western allies weigh possible military action against President Bashar al-Assad, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Wednesday. “We are now at a more alert position … Turkey will take whatever measures necessary within the framework of its own strategic interests,” Davutoglu said. He said “all options” remained open on the possible international action. Iraq also has put its security forces on high alert ahead of an expected international strike on Syria, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Wednesday.
Marines in the Middle East, Africa and Europe are poised to reach Syria within hours should President Obama order a strike on the country as officials work to determine whether the government there was involved in a chemical weapons attack against its own people. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told BBC television Tuesday that the Defense Department has “moved assets in place to be able to fulfill and comply with whatever option the president wishes to take.” The Corps has units forward-deployed to the region to deal specifically with crisis response missions, said Capt. Eric Flanagan, a Marine spokesman at the Pentagon.
British special forces were last night hunting Syrian missiles in readiness for Allied strikes which could start as early as tomorrow night.
Cruise missile attacks and RAF raids are expected in response to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons.
The British hunt for missiles and chemical weapons – which includes the SAS, Special Boat Service, Special Reconnaissance Regiment and MI6 spies – is one of the most hazardous in modern times as they are up against Assad’s forces as well as some rebel elements.
Taking out Syria’s chemical-weapons stockpile isn’t easy – and is fraught with perils, including creating plumes of deadly vapors that could kill civilians downwind of such attacks. That’s why Pentagon officials suggest that any U.S. and allied military strike against Syria will tilt toward military, and command and control, targets —including artillery and missile units that could be used to launch chemical weapons — instead of the bunkers believed to contain them. Secretary of State John Kerry made clear Monday that military action is all but inevitable in the coming days. “
Washington has asked Greece for permission to use its military bases in Kalamata and Souda for a possible strike on Syria over the alleged use of toxic gas in Ghouta on the eastern outskirts of Damascus. The two bases in Peloponnesus and on Crete would be used by the American air force and navy for transportation purposes. The Greek government has given the green light but stated that it will not take part in any direct military action in Syria for fear of reprisals.A buildup of warplanes and military transporters has been reported at the British airbase at Akrotiri in Cyprus, less than 100 miles from Syria.
ALLIED commanders may need to make use of the RAF base at Akrotiri for air support should any military action be taken against Syria. A Royal Navy nuclear-powered submarine is said to be in the region while a number of warships recently left Britain for exercises in the Mediterranean. “The government has neither been officially advised nor has any other information about the prospect of British bases on Cyprus being used by Britain and the United States”, said Defense Minister Fotis Fotiou. In 2011, British Forces Cyprus provided support to operations over Libya, but was not used to launch offensive strikes on the country.
It seems to me that the problem in the Syrian case is part of a larger dilemma regarding the upheaval in the Middle East. The solution to that upheaval cannot be based entirely on military power nor should it be dependent almost exclusively on the Western powers. I am struck how eager Great Britain and France appear to be in favor of military action. And I am also mindful of the fact that both of these two powers are former imperialist, colonialist powers in that region.
If Western countries start a military campaign against Syria, possibly, Turkish military base Injilik will be used. According to the publication, the use of base Injirlik will be discussed in Jordan on August 30, during the meeting of senior military commanders from 11 countries. Besides, as the newspaper reported, the day before Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davudoglu held another telephone conversation with the USA Secretary of State John Kerry. During the conversation the parties came to conclusion that if Russia and China again block the decisions of UN Security Council on Syria, then the other members of UN Security Council will have to resort to other means in order to stop the bloodshed in Syria.
American, Israeli and Jordanian commandos are currently deployed on the ground in Syria, training and operating alongside the rebels trying to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the French daily Le Figaro reported. The report has not been corroborated by any official American, Israeli or Jordanian source. The newspaper said that according to its sources, the joint operation, led by the CIA, began on Aug. 17, when the commandos joined some 300 Syrian rebels near the southwestern city of Deraa, just north of Syria’s border with Jordan.
Barack Obama is unlikely to have much trouble mustering a Nato coalition of the willing if Washington opts for military intervention in Syria. There is, however, no prospect of a UN mandate for international military action over Syria – with the Kremlin, enraged at what it saw as abuse of a UN mandate to topple Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, certain to keep wielding its veto. Turkey, which accounts for Nato’s second largest army after the US, and which is on the frontline with Syria, is already a key conduit for arms supplies to, and a safe haven for, the sundry groups of fighters at war with Damascus.
“The president has asked the Defense Department for options. Like always, the Defense Department is prepared and has been prepared to provide all options for all contingencies to the president of the United States,” he said. “And that requires positioning our forces, positioning our assets, to be able to carry out different options – whatever options the president might choose.” Separately, a US official said Mr Obama’s security advisers will convene at the White House this weekend to discuss US options, including possible military action, against the Syrian government over an apparent chemical weapons attack earlier this week.
In the past eight months, tensions have flared between Colombia and Nicaragua over a maritime territorial dispute that has led to a local arms race. Both countries’ armies have announced new weapons purchases as part of an effort to modernize their militaries, and war is already viewed as an actual possibility by members of both armies. “We’re not facing an imminent confrontation with this Central American country,” a high-ranking Colombian officer told El Espectador. “But it has become a priority in what we call the ‘sand boxes’ [war training exercises based on possible conflict scenarios], which are nothing more than our troops’ preparation for the worst while hoping for the best.”
Geopolitical importance of the Caspian basin is reaching new level amid continuing contradictions in different regions throughout the world. Regional countries` showing off their military muscles in the sea, intensification of exercises cause several questions as regards the future of the region. Experts analyze these processes from different aspects, with the threat of war being in the foreground. Status, energy carriers and military ships: any interconnection? Geopolitical processes around the Caspian basin appear to be intensifying. The region has always been a focus of attention of superpowers, and the issue has now reached a new geopolitical level.
For two years, the conversation on Egypt centered on how to build a democracy. Suddenly the discussion has turned much darker, with some wondering aloud whether the largest Arab nation is hurtling toward civil war. The bloody crackdown by Egypt’s security forces has raised the specter of a protracted conflict pitting the military against the Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s most powerful political force. Egypt’s escalating crisis is far too volatile for any declarative statements, analysts say. But here are three possible scenarios that could play out
French strategic culture highly values military interventions as a means to defend national interests abroad. As a result, the French military has been involved in more than a hundred military operations since the end of the Cold War. Yet, France is also grappling with the same fiscal and economic problems as many other Western states. Future interventions could become a rare luxury rather than a widely used solution aimed at resolving international crises.
The Sudanese government has been selling Chinese and local-made weapons to the Arab Gulf state of Qatar which in turn has been shipping it to rebels in Syria who have staged an uprising against Bashar al-Assad’s rule since 2011, U.S. officials and rebels told the New York Times (NYT). The shipments included newly manufactured small-arms cartridges and antiaircraft missiles which were desperately sought by rebels over the last year to neutralize Assad’s superior firepower. Western nations have been hesitant to supply sophisticated weapons such as surface-to-air missiles or shoulder-mounted missiles for fear that it might fall into the hands of hardline Islamist factions for use against western targets.
Government troops exchanged fire with Kachin Independence Army’s (KIA) battalion 36 in northern Shan state last Sunday. According to Naw Bo Jar, a KIA military commander, government troops began their offensive at midnight inciting a conflict that lasted three hours and resulted in at least four KIA fatalities in Monggo area in Muse Township. At the time of press it was unknown if any government soldiers were killed.
Should a war break out in East Asia, it is likely to be waged mainly at sea. This is conditioned by the geography of the region, where the main players are separated from each other by large expanses of sea. A large-scale military action on the ground, say in Europe, the Middle East or on the Korean Peninsula, could result in a huge loss of life and a lot of material damage, forcing politicians to exercise more caution. Whereas in the ocean, where there is no human life for hundreds of miles, these risks are much lower, which may reduce the threshold for taking the decision to go to war.
Soldiers once loyal to Yemen’s ousted president Saleh, protesting against what they say is neglect by the new leadership, clashed with a rival faction of the military in Sanaa on Friday, police and witnesses said. The hundreds of soldiers protesting were former members of Yemen’s elite Republican Guard, which was run by Saleh’s powerful son and which Saleh’s successor, President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, abolished last year in a bid to unify the army. Yemen’s military remains divided between allies and opponents of Saleh, who stepped down in a Gulf-brokered deal in 2012 after a year of protests against his rule, but still looms large in Yemen.
The Obama administration earlier this year expanded its secret war in Somalia, stepping up assistance for federal and regional Somali intelligence agencies that are allied against the country’s Islamist insurgency. It’s a move that’s not only violating the terms of an international arms embargo, according to U.N. investigators. The escalation also could be a signal that Washington’s signature victory against al-Qaeda’s most powerful African ally may be in danger of unraveling.
The top U.S. general has set out five options for military intervention in Syria in a non-classified letter made public Monday. Despite outlining the options, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey stressed that the decision of whether to go to war was one for civilian leaders. In his July 19 letter, he pointed out that the use of the options would be a political decision that should not be carried out lightly and would be, “no less than an act of war.” The options range from nonlethal intelligence and weapons training to a boots-on-the-ground plan to “assault and secure” the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons.
A very senior British general said of Operation Serval in Mali that France had “set the standard” for crisis military interventions. Praise indeed and not easily given. One can always tell when a crisis is being managed to effect as the press lose interest. The challenge Paris faced when four thousand French troops arrived in Mali in February was complicated to say the least. Tuaregs had taken control of northern Mali and sought separation. They were supported by a particularly nasty bunch of Islamists who had profited (literally) from the chaos in neighboring Libya.
The Indian government this week reportedly paved the way for the creation of a new military corps of 50,000 troops near its border with China. If correct, analysts say this is a sign that New Delhi, which has been largely focused on its frontier with Pakistan, is now shifting its attention to the long, disputed Sino-Indian boundary. The creation of a strike corps would give India thousands of war-ready soldiers, trained and equipped to respond rapidly to a military threat, stationed close to the border between India and China, known as the Line of Actual Control.
Britain’s outgoing army chief has warned that attempts to impose a no-fly zone over Syria would be unsuccessful without establishing ground control, in an interview published in Thursday’s Daily Telegraph. Britain is at the forefront of international efforts to topple the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, and has promised to supply rebels with equipment to protect them against chemical weapons attacks. But in his interview with the Telegraph, general David Richards said: “If you wanted to have the material impact on the Syrian regime’s calculations that some people seek, a no-fly zone per se is insufficient.
Japan may nationalise hundreds of unclaimed islands off its coast in a bid to bolster its territorial claims, reports said, in a move that could complicate already simmering relations with China over existing maritime disputes. Quoting government sources, the Yomiuri newspaper reported yesterday that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government was planning to set up a multi-agency task force to identify around 400 islands that are not already explicitly identified as Japanese territory and confirm their ownership and the names of the islands.
As the military’s assault against Boko Haram and civilians in northern Nigeria continues, so too does the ongoing and underreported conflict in the villages around Jos, the capital of Plateau state in Nigeria’s Middle Belt. As in other parts of the Sahel stretching from Khartoum to Dakar, rivalries between ethnic groups, settlers and indigenes, herders and farmers, and religious groups overlap to create a kaleidoscope of insider and outsider identities. Resulting conflicts, in turn, create openings for international jihadist Islam, as in other parts of the Sahel.
As Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi digs in his heels despite calls for him to step down, roughly 500 U.S. Marines deployed to Italy and Spain are poised to react if their presence is needed to calm the brewing violence in the North African country, according to Stars and Stripes. Pentagon spokesman told reporters the Marines were ready, if needed, to respond to a crisis in the region: “We have taken steps to ensure our military is ready to respond to a range of contingencies.” CNN reports that 200 of the Marines in Italy and Spain are poised to be airborne within an hour of getting orders to deploy to Egypt
Myanmar migrant Yaza Min came to Malaysia several years ago seeking a better life but instead has hidden for more than three weeks in a temple, fearing for his safety as Muslim-Buddhist violence back home spilled over.
Secretarian bloodshed between majority Buddhists and minority Muslims erupted in Myanmar a year ago, leaving about 200 people dead, up to 140,000 homeless, and raising fears of wider instability in the region as refugees flee the country. Recent incidents in nearby Malaysia and Indonesia are feeding those concerns.
This morning, Xinjiang made it into the news again with another violent clash. In Lukqun township, outside the city of Turpan, protesters attacked a police station, government offices, and a construction site. The mob apparently carried knives in the attack and set police cars on fire, which caused the death of nine security personnel and eight civilians. Information about violent incidents in Xinjiang is always difficult to ascertain. The news is strictly controlled by the Chinese government and foreign media coverage usually consists of state media reports.
Russia has withdrawn all its military personnel from Syria and left its strategic Tartus naval centre unstaffed because of the escalating security threat in the war-torn country, the Vedomosti daily said Wednesday.
The source said the decision was taken to limit the dangers posed to Russians amid a raging civil war and to reduce the threat of political damage that could result from Russians being killed by either side.
Fighting erupted in Tripoli on Wednesday when gunmen tried to free comrades seized by ex-rebels, and an army officer was assassinated in Benghazi, highlighting Libya’s continuing insecurity nearly two years after dictator Moamer Kadhafi fell.
The clashes broke out in the Abu Slim area near the centre of the capital, a security official said, and gunfire from heavy weapons could be heard in several areas of the city. Plumes of smoke could be seen rising into the sky above Abu Slim, an AFP journalist at the scene said.
After a substantial phase of people’s disenchantment with violence and a gradual movement away from an armed struggle toward nonviolent protests and social media campaigns, the gun seems to be returning to the center stage of Kashmir’s fight against Indian rule. New Delhi missed an opportunity to engage with a changed environment where the focus was on nonviolence and instead started terming the absence of violence as peace and silence of guns as Kashmir’s acceptance of the Indian rule.
The hard edges of Syria’s frontlines – dogmatic, revolutionary, Islamist or pure murderously sectarian – almost melt away outside the oilfields. New lines emerge pitting tribesmen against battalions, Islamists against everyone else, and creating sometimes surreal lines of engagement, where rebels help maintain government oil supplies in return for their villages being spared from bombardment and being allowed to siphon oil for themselves. “There is chaos now,” Abu Zayed said. “The Free Syrian Army is chasing loot, and they don’t care about civilians.
Egypt’s top ranking defense official warned Sunday that the military was “ready to intervene to stop the violence” ahead of scheduled mass protests to mark the one-year anniversary this week of Mohammed Morsi’s inauguration as Egypt’s first democratically elected president.
Defense Minister Abdel-Fatah el Sissi’s comments were the most forceful to date by a senior official of Egypt’s revered military in response to months of unrest and seemed to threaten the possibility of a military coup if protests lead to bloodshed or, as el Sissi described it, “uncontrollable conflict.”
As the West begins to gear up for the centenary of the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the Middle East is being convulsed as never before by the legacy of the breakup of the Ottoman Empire. Look no farther than Syria, where one part of that legacy – the Sykes-Picot Agreement, which divided the Middle East into British and French spheres of influence even while the Great War still raged – is coming to a brutally violent end. Likewise, the current turmoil in Turkey is, at least in part, a consequence of “neo-Ottoman” overreach by Erdogan’s government.
As Lebanese Army officers gather the intelligence that may anticipate a Hezbollah coup attempt, ostensibly to protect “the resistance and its weapons inside Lebanon,” the possibility that an army coup d’état cannot be ruled out, even if the likelihood of such a development was remote. There were two reasons for such reservations: First, because Hezbollah is now mired in Syria and unlikely to open a second front. And second, because army officers believed in and accepted the separation of powers.
From Aleppo in Syria to Quetta in Balochistan, Muslims are engaged in the slaughter of other Muslims. The numbers are enormous: over 93,000 killed in the Syrian civil war and over 48,000 dead in Pakistan. Millions have perished in similar intra-Muslim conflicts in the past four decades. Many wonder if the belief in Islam was sufficient to bind Muslims in peace with each other. As the violence amongst Muslims increases, most Muslims prefer denial or look for scapegoats.
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi said he had cut all diplomatic ties with Damascus on Saturday and called for a no-fly zone over Syria, pitching the most populous Arab state firmly against President Bashar al-Assad.
Addressing a rally called by Sunni Muslim clerics in Cairo, the Sunni Islamist head of state said: “We decided today to entirely break off relations with Syria and with the current Syrian regime.” He also warned Assad’s allies in the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shi’ite militia Hezbollah to pull back from fighting in Syria.
After nearly a decade of conflict that has left thousands dead, Thailand is considering handing over limited powers to its Muslim-majority south in an effort to persuade rebels to lay down their arms.
Thai officials will meet with the two main insurgent groups on Thursday in Kuala Lumpur for a third round of talks that have so far failed to end near-daily violence in the region bordering Malaysia. Full autonomy for the south remains taboo as the constitution insists the Buddhist-majority kingdom must not be divided.