The United States plans to buy arms for Sunni tribesmen in Iraq including AK-47s, rocket-propelled grenades and mortar rounds to help bolster the battle against ISIL militants in Anbar province, according to a Pentagon document prepared for Congress. The plan to spend $24.1 million represents a small fraction of the larger, $1.6 billion spending request to Congress focusing on training and arming Iraqi and Kurdish forces.
Russia may ban the circulation of the United States dollar. The State Duma has already been submitted a relevant bill banning and terminating the circulation of USD in Russia, APA’s Moscow correspondent reports. If the bill is approved, Russian citizens will have to close their dollar accounts in Russian banks within a year and exchange their dollars in cash to Russian ruble or other countries’ currencies. Otherwise their accounts will be frozen and cash dollars levied by police, customs, tax, border, and migration services confiscated.
When Islamic State militants retreated from the embattled town of Jurf al-Sakher last week, the Iraqi military was quick to flaunt a rare victory against the extremist group, with state television showing tanks and Humvees parading through the town and soldiers touring government buildings that had been occupied by the militants since August. Militia commanders told The Associated Press that dozens of advisers from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the Lebanese Hezbollah were on the front lines.
Australian commandos could work alongside soldiers from the feared Iranian Quds forces in the battle against the Islamic State group in Iraq, Defence Minister David Johnston has said. Johnston said the crisis created by the Islamic State’s brutal capture of vast tracts of territory was sufficiently acute that differences should be put aside in the common interest of stopping their reign of terror. His remarks came as the government revealed that Australians were continuing to join extremist groups such as the Islamic State either as fighters or supporters.
The US military must prepare for murky, undeclared wars in which foreign entities use proxy insurgencies against established governments. The paper describes how US rivals are employing unconventional warfare (UW) — the external sponsorship of insurgent and separatist movements — and argues for a comprehensive joint, inter-agency, intergovernmental and multinational [JIIM] strategy that applies “political, economic, military and psychological pressure.”
The internationally recognised Libyan government called Tuesday for a civil disobedience campaign in Tripoli until its forces retake the capital from militias who seized it. Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani’s cabinet said on its Facebook page that it has ordered Libya’s armed forces “to advance on Tripoli to liberate it and state institutions from the grip of armed groups”. But the government urged residents to launch “a civil disobedience campaign until the arrival of the army”.
France is moving troops toward the Libyan border within weeks and, along with U.S. intelligence, is monitoring al-Qaida arms shipments to Africa’s Sahel region, a top French military official said Thursday. A French base will go up within weeks in a desert outpost 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the lawless Libyan border region overrun by Islamic militants, the official said on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter. U.S. intelligence is helping French troops “a lot,” he said.
Nine people were killed Sunday in new violence in Benghazi where pro-government forces have launched an offensive against Islamist militias, raising the toll to 75 dead in five days, medics said. In the latest violence a woman was killed in a bomb attack that targeted the vacant house of former general Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the offensive launched Wednesday, a military source said. Fierce fighting raged in several parts of Libya’s second city between pro-government forces led by Haftar and Islamist militias.
Sudan’s government plans to increase military assistance to rebels in South Sudan, which could prolong the south’s civil war and return the region to a wider conflict, according to a leaked document. Sudan will provide tanks and artillery and share intelligence with rebels fighting South Sudan’s government, according to the minutes of a high-level meeting of security and military officials in Khartoum, that a top American expert on Sudan has concluded are real.
Two Egyptian officials claimed the country’s warplanes had begun bombing positions in Benghazi, the second-largest city in neighboring Libya, on Wednesday, in an attempt to wrest control of the city from the Ansar-al-Sharia Islamist militia. The mission, which will be led by Libyan pilots, marks the highest-profile collaboration between the two North African countries, both of which are beset by instability, since they experienced simultaneous Arab Spring revolutions in 2011. The Egyptian government has officially denied the news.
The Islamic State group is about to capture the Syrian border town of Kobani, Turkey’s president said Tuesday, as outgunned Kurdish forces struggled to repel the extremists with limited aid from U.S.-led coalition air strikes. Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham, using tanks and heavy weapons looted from captured army bases in Iraq and Syria, has been pounding Kurdish forces in the strategic town for days, and planted their black flag on the town’s outskirts after seizing several nearby villages in an offensive launched last month.
Tens of thousands of villagers fled their homes in Kashmir on Monday, as Indian and Pakistani troops bombarded each other with gunfire and mortar shells over the border separating their portions of the disputed region. At least nine civilians were killed. Indian officials said the flare-up left five villagers, including one child, dead and 35 injured on the Indian side of the border. The Pakistani army reported four civilians killed on its side, including two children, and three injured.
The Middle East may be sliding toward a warlord era, with nation-states increasingly struggling to control all their territory and millions living under the rule of emergent local chiefs and movements. Armed irregular forces hold effective power over growing areas of Iraq,Syria, Yemen and Libya where central government authority barely reaches. Motivated by religious ideology or regional separatism, they have grabbed oil facilities and weapons, imposed taxes or changed school curriculums, and fought each other as well as national armies.
Bahraini fighter jets have joined US-led air strikes in Syria to prevent extremist fighters from expanding throughout the region. The US operation included the Royal Bahrain Air Force (RBAF) and military forces from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and Jordan, which was part of an international action plan to stamp out the Islamic State (IS) terrorist organisation. “A group of fighter jets from the RBAF carried out, along with the air forces of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) states and those of allied and friendly countries, air strikes against a number of selected targets of terrorist groups and organisations, and destroyed them.”
Despite Sunday’s peace agreement in Yemen, the Houthi group still refuses to withdraw from sites they had previously controlled. Militants affiliated to the Houthis have stormed the home of activist and Nobel Peace prize winner Tawakkol Karman, as well as two homes owned by an advisor to the Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi in the capital Sanaa. Eyewitnesses confirmed that the militants looted the contents of the homes. Houthis broke into the headquarters of the Suhail satellite channel in Sanaa, owned by tribal leader Hameed Al-Ahmar.
Clashes have intensified this week between the Iranian Army and Kurdish Peshmerga forces, where a number of Iranian soldiers have been killed. According to an announcement made by the Kurdistan Revolutionary Party, intense fighting broke out between the Iranian Army and Peshmerga forces on 11 September. The clashes took place near a Kurdish Iranian city Sardasht, located on the border of Iran and the Iraqi Kurdistan Region. The announcement mentioned that as a result of the skirmish, three Iranian soldiers were killed and four others injured.
Kashmir’s ‘locational’ relevance for India, China and Pakistan has always been significant and it has become a driver in its own right for the perpetual state of conflict with Pakistan and a reality which has the potential for keeping the Sino-Indian relations adversarial. 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.
The White House spent much of last week trying to figure out if the word “war” was the right one to describe its military actions against the Islamic State. US Secretary of State John Kerry was at first reluctant: “We’re engaged in a major counterterrorism operation,” he told CBS News on Sept. 11. “I think war is the wrong terminology and analogy but the fact is that we are engaged in a very significant global effort to curb terrorist activity… I don’t think people need to get into war fever on this. I think they have to view it as a heightened level of counter terrorist activity.”
Turkey’s military is drawing up plans for a possible “buffer zone” on the country’s southern border, where it faces a threat from Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, Turkish media quoted President Tayyip Erdogan as saying on Monday. The government will evaluate the plans and decide whether such a move is necessary, Turkish television stations quoted Erdogan as telling reporters on his plane as he returned from an official visit to Qatar. Turkey, a member of the NATO military alliance, has made clear it does not want a frontline role in a military coalition.
Several mortar shells from Syria dropped on the southeastern Turkish town of Nusaybin on Monday, according to officials. The rounds, which dropped on the Nusaybin section of the European route E90, known as ‘the Silk Road’ in the region, were purportedly fired by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militants fighting in Syria, local sources told Anadolu Agency. No casualties were reported.The anti-Assad insurgency in large parts of Syria has recently been hijacked by militants with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.
Several Arab countries have offered to carry out airstrikes against militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, senior US state department officials said on Sunday. The offer was disclosed by American officials traveling with US secretary of state John Kerry, who is approaching the end of a weeklong trip that was intended to mobilize international support for the campaign against ISIS. “There have been offers both to Centcom and to the Iraqis of Arab countries taking more aggressive kinetic action,” said one of the officials.
Algeria is reportedly studying requests by the US and France to “facilitate” military operations against militant groups in neighbouring Libya. The US and France have both asked Algeria to open its airspace to surveillance planes and other military planes transferring commando units for a reconnaissance mission in parts of Libya,” the source, requesting anonymity, told Anadolu Agency. He added that the US and France have made the same request of “other states near Libya.”
China began deploying 700 soldiers to a United Nations peacekeeping force in South Sudan to help guard the country’s embattled oil fields and protect Chinese workers and installations, a spokesman for the African nation’s president said Tuesday. The airlift of the Chinese infantry battalion to the South Sudanese states of Unity and Upper Nile, the site of the only operating oil fields still under control of the central government in Juba, was expected to take several days, spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said.
Our response against the Islamic State (IS) does not start with supplying arms, nor does it end there. IS cannot be stopped by either humanitarian or military means alone. We, the international community, need to develop a comprehensive political strategy to counter this terrorist organisation systematically. In my view, four main elements are crucial here: we need a new, effective and inclusive Iraqi Government in Baghdad to dry up potential support for IS by closing ranks with the Sunni tribes.
Nagorno-Karabakh is run by ethnic Armenians but is legally part of Azerbaijan. Secession in 1988 led to a war that killed some 30,000 people. A shaky ceasefire ensued in 1994, with Azerbaijan losing 14% of its territory. Exchanges of fire along the front have long been common, but the clashes this year have been the worst since 1994. Azerbaijan feels vulnerable. Russia provides a security guarantee for Armenia, where it has a military base and 4,000-5,000 troops.
The “paper” government and the “paper” assembly are now squatting the coastal town Tobrouk, known for its airbase, with no power, no future prospects and no money. They have gone that far east to be close to Egypt to seek help to reconquer the country. Emboldened by these basic facts, the Islamists are planning, according to Libyan democratic sources, to declare, sooner than soon, their own Islamic state, and by so doing, join their Islamists brethern in Iraq, and Boko Haram in Nigeria.
Libya’s toothless outgoing government admitted Monday from its safe refuge in the east of the country that it has in effect lost control of Tripoli to armed militias. The interim government led by prime minister Abdullah al-Thani, which resigned last week, said armed groups, mostly Islamist militias, were in control of ministries and blocking access to government workers. “Ministry and state offices in Tripoli have been occupied by armed militias who are preventing government workers from entering and are threatening their superiors.”
Seven NATO members will create a British-led joint expeditionary force for rapid deployment in response to the crisis in Ukraine, the Financial Times has reported. The force of at least 10,000 military personnel aims “to create a fully functioning, division-sized force for rapid deployment and regular, frequent exercises” with a capacity to increase significantly in size if need be, the FT said on its website. The new multilateral force under British command will comprise naval and air units and ground forces.
Egypt has decided to open its doors to train the Libyan police, army and all their subsidiary bodies, and will collaborate with neighbouring countries to collect illegal arms. Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdel Aziz , head of the Libyan Parliament Saleh Okeila, and Military head Abdel Razek Al-Nazouri announced the collaborations following a meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, reported state-owned Al-Ahram. Okeila said that Libya will remain united, while Al-Nazouri said the Libyan army is capable of “crushing extremists and terrorists”.
Britain’s elite special forces along with US special forces are forming a unit called Task Force Black to hunt down the killer of James Foley and smash the Islamic State. According to the Mirror and as reported by the Sunday People, the undercover unit’s aim will be to “cut the head off the snake” by hitting the command structure of the Islamist terror group responsible for a trail of atrocities across Iraq and Syria. British special forces will once again work with America’s Delta Force and Seal Team 6 in joint operations to combat the Islamic State.
Realizing that the country is slidng into chaos and falling in the grip of fierce religious extremists, who, some of which, were responible for the attack of its embassy and the death of its diplomats, the United States encouraged the retired General Khalifa Haftar to take on the Islamists. With the help of the airforce, he launched a battle, to regain control of the country. However, his entreprise hurriedly-designed and badly-coached turned into a miltary disaster, and the Islamists emboldened by their success took control of Tripoli and Benghazi .
France’s foreign minister yesterday pressed “all countries in the region” as well as Iran to join Western nations in the fight against Islamic State fighters rampaging through Iraq and Syria. “We would like all the countries of the region to join in this action (that includes the Arab countries and Iran), but we would also like the P5 to join in with this action,” Laurent Fabius told a parliamentary committee, referring to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
Fifteen thousand people from Iraq’s Sunni tribes will join to the ranks of Iraqi army in western Anbar province against the ongoing fight against the self-styled Islamic State (IS) militant group. “Defense and Interior ministries approved joining of 15,000 volunteers from the tribes into Iraqi army troops for the ongoing fight.” “The voluntary troops will join Iraqi army and police ranks after the establishment of the new Iraqi government, (due to be formed in the upcoming weeks)” he said.
Signs of a rift among the rebel coalition may be emerging. Similarly to how ISIS began carving out its own territory late last year, the rebel Al-Nusra Front last month declared its own “emirate” and seized the northeastern towns of Salqin, Harem, and Darkush from formerly allied rebel groups. The powerful Al-Nusra Front is an official affiliate of Al Qaeda, but has up to now cooperated and mixed freely with less extreme anti-government rebels. It remains to be seen whether recent events signal a permanent split.
Saudi Arabia has ruled out conscription for its defence force in the near future, according to Minister of National Guard Prince Miteb Bin Abdullah. Prince Miteb said the kingdom was restructuring its elite force and applications to join the military exceeded the requirement, making conscription unnecessary, local media reported. “There is a big response from citizens to join the military sector, whether from the colleges, institutes or training centres.”
ISIS terrorists are currently in control of seven oil fields in Iraq and large amounts of the country’s wheat supplies.
Iraqi officials said on Wednesday that the militants were holding government silos in five of Iraq’s most fertile provinces, where the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) says 40 percent of the country’s wheat is grown. “Now is the worst time for food insecurity,” said Fadel al-Zubi, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representative for Iraq.
During my visit recent to Turkey, members of Turkey’s parliament and prominent personalities described connections between Turkey, Turks and militant Sunni organizations, such as the ISIS. They allege a prominent role for Turkey’s Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH), an Islamic charity with a history of assisting extremist groups. Bilal Erdogan, President-elect Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son, has ties to the IHH board, and allegedly uses his father’s political network to raise funds for the organization.
Iraqi Kurdish President Masoud Barzani asked the international community on Sunday to provide the Kurds with weapons to help them fight the militants, whose dramatic push through the north has startled world powers. EU ambassadors, holding an extraordinary meeting to discuss the crises in Iraq, Ukraine and Gaza, gave the green light for individual governments to send arms under set conditions. Diplomats said some EU states opposed sending arms, meaning there was no EU-wide agreement to do so.
France said it would respond “quickly,” and Saudi Arabia, which is financing the French arms purchases for Lebanon’s army, also pledged to accelerate implementation of the deal. Speaking to AFP, Lebanon’s army chief General Jean Kahwaji said the military was hamstrung in its fight against the jihadists. “This battle requires equipment, materiel and technology that the army doesn’t have,” Kahwaji said. In December, Riyadh agreed to finance a $3-billion package of French military equipment and arms for Lebanon’s army.
Egypt and Algeria are considering a joint military operation in Libya to prevent the rise of Islamic State (ISIS) fighters in their increasingly unstable neighbour Libya, an Algerian newspaper reported. According to Sunday’s editorial in the Algerian Al-Watan newspaper, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is “worried” about the threats from its eastern borders. It pointed out that Bouteflika is “prepared to wage a war against Jihadists in the region”.
The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan may meet this week in a bid to defuse escalating tensions between the two countries after at least 18 soldiers were killed in the worst clashes in two decades. “Militarily, Armenia is still thought to have superiority, given Russian backing, but with its rising oil wealth, Azerbaijan has been re-arming rapidly,” Ash said yesterday by e-mail. Azeri fighter jets were seen in the region, the country’s APA news service reported.
The Lebanese army advanced on Monday into a border town attacked by radical insurgents over the weekend in the most serious spillover of the three-year-old Syrian civil war into Lebanon. The Beirut government, meanwhile, said the deadly assault would not go unpunished. With army reinforcements arriving in Arsal, Prime Minister Tammam Salam, himself a Sunni Muslim, said there could be no “political solutions” with the Sunni radicals identified as members of the Nusra Front and the Islamic State, which has seized wide areas of Syria and Iraq.
Saudi Arabia has deployed thousands of troops from Egypt and Pakistan along its frontier with Iraq, amid fears of invasion by the al-Qaeda splinter group that has declared a radical Islamic state across the border. Panicked by the advance of the ISIS, Riyadh has taken the drastic step of calling in military assistance from its close allies to shore up the porous 500-mile border, Gulf security sources said. Saudi Arabia spent an estimated £35 billion on defence last year, leapfrogging Britain as the world’s fourth-largest military spender.
For two weeks, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad have been battling for control of the Shaar gas field, one of Syria’s largest, near the landmark city of Palmyra. On July 19, it was reported that the Sunni militant group had killed 270 regime fighters, taking control of the field in what was reportedly one of the conflict’s deadliest 48-hour periods to date. As ISIS steams further into Syria, analysts say a significant portion of its financial resources come from the crude oil it sells on the black market.
Booms of outgoing artillery shaking the ground, militia fighters from the remote Libyan mountain town of Zintan hunker down in the passenger terminal to defend Tripoli airport, the biggest prize in the capital. The collapse of Gaddafi’s four decades of single man rule has left Libya an armed free-for-all, where cities, regions, charismatic individuals, urban neighbourhoods and rural tribes all field their own armed forces.
The group is called White Shroud. There’s very little known about the group, but Syrian citizen journalism website Tahrir Sourireported on the group’s existence on July 24. According to the report, White Shroud is based in Abu Kamal near the border with Iraq, and the organization is associated with Syria’s melange of rebel forces, not the Assad regime. It’s tactics include “secret assassinations, raids and surveillance” of ISIS targets, according to the report.
A powerful Iranian general has emerged as the chief tactician in Iraq’s fight against Sunni militants, working on the front lines alongside 120 advisers from his country’s Revolutionary Guard to direct Shiite militiamen and government forces in the smallest details of battle, militia commanders and government officials say. The startlingly hands-on role of Iranian Gen. Ghasem Soleimani points to the extent of the Shiite-led Iraqi government’s reliance on its ally Tehran. The Iranian role, however, risks further sharpening the sectarian rifts in the conflict.
The growing power of the ultra-hardline Islamic State means the Syrian army is now having to confront a group it has until now been reluctant to attack for political reasons. The emergence of the al Qaeda offshoot, formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has so far allowed President Bashar al-Assad to present himself to the world as a bulwark against Sunni Islamist radicals. Now that Islamic State’s fighters have gained momentum in Syria, boosted by equipment seized in a rapid offensive next door in Iraq.
Iraqi forces have withdrawn from the militant-held northern Iraqi city of Tikrit after a new push to retake the city met heavy resistance, a soldier who fought in the battle said Wednesday. Government troops and allied Shiite volunteer fighters were forced to retreat just before sunset Tuesday to a base four km south after coming under heavy mortar shelling and sniper fire, the sources said. The attempt to retake Tikrit, which fell on June 12 to Sunni insurgents led by the militant Islamic State group, began two-and-a-half weeks ago.
The Australian Army’s Directorate of Future Land Warfare has published a report that warns Australia’s future land wars will be very different from recent conflicts in the rural and remote terrain of Afghanistan and Iraq. With the world’s population expected to reach 8 billion by 2030, the directorate sees Asia’s mega-cities as key potential future battlegrounds. Population pressures, ethnic tensions and conflicts over food, water and resources are believed likely to create environments in which insurgencies and terrorists can freely plan and execute attacks.
A supposedly secret but locally well-known CIA station on the outskirts of Irbil’s airport is undergoing rapid expansion as the United States considers whether to engage in a war against Islamist militants who’ve seized control of half of Iraq in the past month. Western contractors hired to expand the facility and a local intelligence official confirmed the construction project, which is visible from the main highway linking Irbil to Mosul, the city whose fall June 9 triggered the Islamic State’s sweep through northern and central Iraq.
Militants battling forces loyal to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki broke into a military base in Diyala province northeast of Baghdad on Thursday, a security source and a local official said. They said militants fought their way into the base on the edge of Muqdadiya town, 80 km (50 miles) northeast of the capital. The northern side of the town was already under their control before Thursday’s clashes. The area around Muqdadiya has seen sustained fighting in recent weeks since fighters led by the ISIL.
China is selling $38 million worth of missiles, grenade launchers, machine guns and ammunition to South Sudan’s government, even as it pledges to help end a civil war in the country now on the brink of famine. China North Industries Group Corp., the nation’s biggest arms manufacturer known as Norinco, shipped a consignment of weapons to the East African nation last month, according to marine-insurance documents sent to Bloomberg by an industry representative and confirmed by the broker handling insurance for the shipment.
Clashes in the north Yemen town of Omran continued on Sunday between the army and fighters from the Houthi movement after at least 104 people were killed on Saturday, while in the south six soldiers were shot dead by al Qaeda militants. Yemen’s government is struggling to regain stability in a country facing a deadly uprising in the north, a separatist movement in the south and a growing al Qaeda insurgency that has survived repeated assaults by the military.
Bedecked in black training suits or flowing robes and turbans, they resemble Iraq’s own army as they marched by the thousands through Sadr City over the weekend (22.06.2014). Sadr City’s two million largely Shiite citizens make it Baghdad’s largest district. They were ready to stand up to the terrorists, they cried. Everywhere, they could be heard: “We will slaughter them!” Armed with rifles, pistols, grenades and Molotov cocktails, their first target is Samarra.
The 300 U.S. advisers authorized to assist the Iraqi security forces will find an army in crisis mode, so lacking in equipment and shaken by desertions that it may not be able to win back significant chunks of territory from al-Qaeda renegades for months or even years, analysts and officials say. After tens of thousands of desertions, the Iraqi military is reeling from what one U.S. official described as “psychological collapse” in the face of the offensive from militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Who is fighting the governments of Bashar al-Assad in Syria and Nouri al-Malaki in Iraq? Civil society. And who are thecolectivos confronting Venezuelan students who protest against the government? Civil-society activists, of course. We’ve seen the same thing in Tehran, Havana, and Caracas, where people who take to the streets to protest their leaders are often confronted by violent groups of civilians posing as common citizens who support the regime. In Iran, they’re called the Basij, or the Organization for the Mobilization of the Oppressed.
The Iraqi military ran out of Hellfire missiles six days ago, and though the U.S. is rushing more missiles into the country, Iraq has only two modified Cessna aircraft to launch them in their battle against the radical Islamic militia ISIS. ISIS has damaged 28 tanks and shot down three helicopters, a significant percentage of the government force, and the militia killed an entire Iraqi Security Force brigade in the last couple of days at the border with Syria, which ISIS now controls.
Refinery workers, eyewitnesses and an Iraqi army officer reported the seizure of Iraq’s biggest oil refinery by Sunni extremists after army helicopter gunships failed to repel their attack. But other Iraqi officials, including the commander of the garrison defending the refinery in Baiji, asserted that fighting was still going on inside the huge grounds of the facility, which had been shut down by the violence.
The key drivers of the region’s galloping militarization are, firstly, the various protracted Caucasian conflicts – Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia, Nagorno-Karabakh, whose status is disputed between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and the North Caucasus, which has experienced near continuous conflict since the mid-1990s; and secondly, the rising geopolitical competition over the Caspian Sea and its enormous hydrocarbon resources.
Iraq edged closer to all-out sectarian conflict on Thursday as Kurdish forces took control of a provincial capital in the oil-rich north and Sunni militants vowed to march on two cities revered by Shiite Muslims. Kurdish military units known as peshmerga said they had taken up positions in key government installations in Kirkuk, as forces of the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki abandoned their posts and fled in fear of advancing Sunni militants, an official in the office of the provincial governor said.
Militants seized control of the airport, TV stations and the governor’s offices in Iraq’s second-largest city as police and soldiers ran away from their posts Tuesday, a stunning collapse of the security forces that has raised questions about Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s ability to hold the country together. Thousands of people — some carrying plastic bags, others pushing carts — have fled the fighting in Mosul, creating a humanitarian crisis that has caught the government off guard.
Ukraine’s armed forces suffered devastating new losses Thursday, underlining the scale of the challenge the country faces in quelling a guerrilla-style insurgency that has proven to be agile and ruthless. A rebel rocket attack brought down a military Mi-8 helicopter ferrying out troops, including a general, on the outskirts of Slovyansk, killing at least 12 people onboard. Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov told parliament in Kiev that rebels used a portable air defense missile against helicopter.
Hifter has been leading an armed revolt in perhaps the biggest challenge yet to the country’s weak central government and fledgling security forces. Scores of Libyan military units and commanders have made already made loyalty pledges to Hifter’s “Libyan National Army” and his offensive, which began Friday, first against Islamist militias in the eastern city of Benghazi. A number of powerful militias also back Hifter, including ones from the western city of Zintan and Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city.
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.