The OSCE grounded the drones several days ago, largely because their information systems were being jammed. The contractor supplying the aircraft described the jamming as highly sophisticated. “They say it is high-grade military-specification jamming, so it isn’t an amateur job,” Mr. Zannier said. “We are working to find countermeasures so we can continue to use” the drones. Asked who has such jamming capability in the region, Mr. Zannier said, “I can’t speculate. I can imagine who has it, but I can’t say for sure.”
While international observers fixate on the Sunni-Shia rivalry’s role in shaping geopolitics in the Islamic world, deep fissures within the Sunni arc that stretches from the Maghreb-Sahel region of North Africa to the Afghanistan-Pakistan belt are increasingly apparent. Moreover, it is Sunni communities that produce the transnational jihadists who have become a potent threat to secular, democratic states near and far. What is driving this fragmentation and radicalization within the ranks of Sunni Islam, and how can it be managed?
Azerbaijan shot down an Armenian helicopter that it said violated its airspace in an attack that may trigger fresh confrontations between the two countries over a disputed region. The Mi-24 helicopter was “trying to attack” Azeri positions near a cease-fire line when it was hit, the Defense Ministry in Baku said on its website. Armenia’s Defense Ministry said the aircraft was unarmed and called its downing an “unprecedented provocation.”
Mexicans furious at the presumed massacre of 43 students torched the ruling party’s Guerrero state headquarters and briefly took a police commander prisoner on Tuesday as growing protests rocked President Enrique Pena Nieto’s government. Riot police clashed with protesters in running street battles as black smoke billowed from the white two-story building of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in the southern state’s capital Chilpancingo.
Turkey’s naval commander has revealed that he has been ordered to implement new rules of engagement in the Eastern Mediterranean. Admiral Bülent Bostanoğlu told reporters at the sidelines of the Blue Whale naval exercise on Sunday that the country’s navy has been given new instructions in case it faces “a situation” over hydrocarbons exploration in the area. “Our naval forces elements will continue their mission of situational awareness in the region,” said Bostanoglu
The post-Arab revolution Middle East is apparently divided into three major blocs competing for regional leadership role. The Saudi-led bloc of ossified dictatorships, Iran-led bloc of sectarian leaders, and the Turkey-led revolutionary pro-people bloc are at odds over how to respond to the geopolitical changes taking place in the region. The oil power Saudi Arabia and the curiously ambitious United Arab Emirates along with post-coup Egyptian warlords are determined to reverse the revolutionary changes in the Middle East.
The Pentagon has told the US Congress that Pakistan is using terrorist groups as proxies to counter the superior Indian military. “Afghan-and Indian-focused militants continue to operate from Pakistan territory to the detriment of Afghan and regional stability. Pakistan uses these proxy forces to hedge against the loss of influence in Afghanistan and to counter India’s superior military,” the Pentagon told the Congress in its latest six-monthly report on the current situation in Afghanistan.
“No chance, with the Houthis, I want to separate,” said the management student, holding the flag of the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, as independent South Yemen was formerly known. “After the unification in 1990 it was good, but 1994 onwards, the education, working rights, and freedom in the south, it all went downhill.” Mr Al Huribi’s anguish anger resonated in the voices of thousands of men, women and children chanting “Revolution, Revolution South”.
In the last decade, at least a dozen African leaders – among them, the rulers of Algeria, Cameroon, Chad, Djibouti, Uganda and Zimbabwe – have amended their national constitutions to allow them to extend their time in office. The men who lead those six countries have been in power collectively for just shy of 150 years. The latest attempt to prolong power came from Burkina Faso’s leader of 27 years, Blaise Compaore. His recent attempts to extend his rule through constitutional amendment were met with fierce resistance in the capital.
The U.S. will consider arming tribes in Iraq’s al-Anbar province with the precondition that the move is approved by the Iraqi government, Anadolu Agency reoprted reffering to the statement by the chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff. Gen. Martin Dempsey said Iraqi security forces in the province are in defensive positions and would be unlikely be able to respond to a request for assistance from the Albu Nimr tribe, stranded by IS.
Behlul Ozkan, a political scientist at Istanbul’s Marmara University, says the Erdogan government has supported Islamist movements in the Middle East to establish a sphere of influence and play a leadership role. “They are obsessed with destroying the Assad regime. They see IS as an opportunity for Turkey since it is fighting its enemies on three fronts: against Baghdad’s Shiite-dominated leadership, against Assad, and the PYD, which is an affiliate of the PKK.”
War-weary Ukrainians vote on Sunday for a powerful new parliament in which a likely alliance of pro-Western and nationalist forces will confirm the ex-Soviet country’s historic but bloody break from Russia’s domain. But the trauma of the nearly bankrupt state’s loss to Russia of Crimea and the subsequent deaths of 3,700 people in six months of warfare in the east has set a grim backdrop to a vote meant to celebrate last winter’s pro-democracy street revolt.
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”.
The Iranian border force fired six mortar shells at Pakistan’s bordering town of Mashkail in the early hours of Friday, a security official told Dawn. The official who requested anonymity said that there was no loss of life in the incident and that the mortar shells landed near Mashkail. He said the Frontier Corps (FC) swiftly retaliated and fired mortar shells in response, bringing the firing from the Iranian side to an end. “Mortar shells fired by Iranian border personnel landed 3000 metres inside Pakistani territory,” he said.
Two Tunisian National Guard members have been killed in clashes with militants in Tunisia, as a shoot-out continues around a house in an outlying suburb of the capital Tunis. The first death happened early on Thursday morning, as security services clashed with “terrorists” in Wadi al-Layl in western Tunisia, Interior Ministry spokesman Mohamed Aroui told reporters on Thursday. The confrontation began after security services stormed a house which they suspected was being used to shelter militants.
Tensions flared Sunday between Algeria and Morocco after Rabat accused an Algerian soldier of firing on Moroccan civilians across their shared border and seriously wounding one of them. Algeria charged on Sunday that Rabat was twisting the facts and summoned its envoy to express its “exasperation” a day after Morocco had summoned the Algerian ambassador to “vigorously protest” against the shooting.
Shiite rebels who breezed into the Yemeni capital unopposed last month are now widely thought to be moving to cement their grip by snatching a strategic strait and oilfields. Numerous sources in Yemen say the Huthis are now setting their sights on prized assets like the narrow Bab al-Mandeb strait leading to the Suez canal, as well as oilfields in Marib province. Bab al-Mandeb, a chokepoint whose Arabian shores are only 40 kilometres (25 miles) across the water from Africa.
From lockdowns to an absent dictator, seven reasons North Korea could be going through a regime change
Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, has been reportedly locked down since Sept. 27. This lockdown is a general travel ban preventing anyone from entering or leaving the capital, although it also applies to citizens of the city. In a coup scenario, the lockdown could either be an attempt to prevent possible defectors or coup plotters from fleeing the city after an unsuccessful attempt, or it could be a move by the putschists to impose order after successfully seizing control.
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.
France is setting up a base in northern Niger as part of an operation aimed at stopping al Qaeda-linked militants from crisscrossing the Sahel-Sahara region between southern Libya and Mauritania, officials said. Paris, which has led efforts to push back Islamists in the region since intervening in its former colony Mali last year, redeployed troops across West Africa earlier this year to form a counter-terrorism force. “A base is being set up in northern Niger with the throbbing headache of Libya in mind,” a French diplomat said.
“The Yemeni situation is so complex that I’m not sure who the friends are who we could work with. Yemen’s other main political players include a southern separatist movement, which Riyadh distrusts, and the Islah party, which as an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood is regarded as anathema by Saudi rulers. That might mean Riyadh has little option but to accept the Houthi ascendancy and work with the group. But the dearth of options has led some Saudis to regard the relative stability of his reign almost with nostalgia.
Thai soldiers in Tak province have been put on high alert after heavy fighting between Burmese government soldiers and Karen rebels temporarily closed the Mae Sot border pass. Lt Gen Preecha Chan-o-cha, commander of Thailand’s 3rd Army, said the clashes erupted four to five km from the Thai border.Despite the lull in violence, Thai Prime Minister and army chief Prayut Chan-o-cha has placed Thai soldiers on high alert.
One year since taking office, Iran President Hassan Rouhani and his government are confronted with an extremely unstable geopolitical situation across the Middle East. The military successes of the Islamist radical group ISIS took Iran by surprise. The declaration of a “caliphate” in northern Iraq and eastern Syria, territories mostly occupied by Sunnis, was more bad news. With the threat from this terrorist Sunni organization, very much anti-Shia, Tehran is faced with both security risks within its borders and the fate of Iraq.
Baluch separatist leaders today called on Pakistan to follow in Britain’s footsteps by holding a referendum similar toScotland’s on granting independence to the insurgency-wracked province. The Baluch have been struggling against the excesses and tyranny of Punjab-dominated establishment of Pakistan for decades. Resource-rich Baluchistan is the largest of Pakistan’s four provinces, but its roughly seven million inhabitants have long complained they do not receive a fair share of its gas and mineral wealth.
Russian FSB officers have surrounded the Crimean Tatar Mejlis (Parliament) building, the representative-executive body of Crimean Tatars in Simferopol announced on September 16. Masked, armed FSB officers and policemen who have encircled the Mejlis building in Simferopol have as yet refused to comment on the situation, claiming that they are not authorized to comment.”They are not letting anyone in or out, they are assisted by regular police and the FSB (Federal Security Service) is carrying out searches inside,” he said from Crimea’s provincial capital Simferopol.
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.
Aside from the balkanization of Iraq, the Yinon Plan calls for a divided Lebanon, Egypt, and Syria. Lt. Colonel Ralph Peters assigned to the Office of the deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence had redrawn the map of the Middle East as far as Baluchistan, a province of Pakistan and called it “Blood Borders”. The creation of Kurdistan will change the existing map of Turkey, Iran and Syria besides that of Iraq. Saudi Arabia and Jordan will not remain immune from the New Middle East.
According to this, they are hoping that if Scots vote to break away from Britain “it would set a precedent that could boost their own chances of proclaiming a separate state.” President of the Serb entity, Serb Republic (Republika Srpska, RS) Milorad Dodik “has not hesitated to evoke the spectre of separation,” in the wake of Crimea split from Ukraine and joined Russia following a disputed referendum in March, said the agency, and quoted him as saying: “We are following what is going on in Italy (South Tyrol), in Scotland and even in Catalonia.
Islamic State pamphlets and flags have appeared in parts of Pakistan and India, alongside signs that the ultra-radical group is inspiring militants even in the strongholds of the Taliban and al Qaeda. A splinter group of Pakistan’s Taliban insurgents, Jamat-ul Ahrar, has already declared its support for the well-funded and ruthless Islamic State fighters, who have captured large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria in a drive to set up a self-declared caliphate.
South Korea said it would create a combined army unit with the United States, reportedly tasked with destroying North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction in the event of an all-out conflict. The mechanised unit led by a US major general will be set up in the first half of next year as part of elaborate preparations for any future war between the two Koreas. “It will be the first combined ‘field combat’ unit to carry out wartime operations,” a defence ministry spokesman said without elaborating on its mission.
Led by heavily armed Shiite rebels, thousands of demonstrators are demanding the government step down by the end of the week. Rebel commander Abdulmalik al-Huthi said the authorities must meet protesters’ grievances by the end of the week, or additional forms of “legitimate action” would take place. According to reports, rebel militias were deploying on rooftops in parts of the capital and armed rebel convoys were entering the capital and setting up checkpoints. Military officials said forces were on standby in case of an attack.
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.
Iran believes Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is no longer able to hold his country together and is looking for an alternative leader to combat a Sunni Islamist insurgency, senior Iranian officials said. Political deadlock since an inconclusive general election in April has paralyzed efforts to fight back against ISIS rebels who have captured swaths of northern and western Iraq and Syria and have threatened to march on Baghdad. One Iranian official, said Tehran was working with Iraqi factions to seek a replacement for Maliki.
The conflicts raging today in Gaza, Iraq and Ukraine share some common features. Irregular belligerents — Hamas, ISIL/ISIS and Ukrainian separatists — are each aggressively shaping these conflicts in skillful ways to outmaneuver their more conventional adversaries. These irregular warriors seek creative and often indirect ways to accomplish their wartime ends, often without fighting in conventional fashion. Their tactics and equipment reflect a new and ever-varying combination of conventional high-tech weaponry.
Militants from ISIS now control or threaten key facilities on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, generating fears that the Al-Qaeda splinter group could turn off the taps to the Shiite south of Iraq, sparking a massive humanitarian crisis.Last month’s ISIS-led offensive across Iraq saw it overrun cities and battle for oil refineries as the national army melted away, but it has also been waging a war for water, trying to wrest control over rivers, dams and desalination plants in a bid to solidify its territorial gains.
The report speaks of the fear circulating in diplomatic circles that despite the extraordinary efforts of the security forces and the support of international actors who would prefer to see Lebanon stabilized, the country is in danger of falling prey to the bad intentions of certain regional and international parties. These fundamentalist groups receive political support and cover from known regional powers and they are planning a new wave of bombings and assassinations that have a purely political goal, it claims.
Plenty of materials for a potential dirty bomb are likely scattered throughout the area of Iraq controlled by ISIS, and pulling off an attack that spreads even a minor amount of radiation could be a huge PR coup for the terror group, experts say. Last week, the Iraqi government in Baghdad warned the UN that ISIS operatives had stolen 88 pounds of uranium compounds from Mosul University. Even though many experts said the research materials were not enough to cause widespread harm, spreading fear is even more important.
The military strongman cut his teeth in the 1969 coup that brought Gaddafi to power.What came to be called The Toyota War, because Chadian troops used pick-up trucks mounted with French guided anti-tank missiles to neutralize Gaddafi’s armor, shattered Hiftar’s close relationship with the Libyan dictator. After Hiftar was captured in 1987, Gaddafi disowned him. Abandoned and angry, Hiftar struck a deal with the CIA, fled to the United States and lived in exile in Northern Virginia until 2011.
Little noticed among the disturbing tableau of images coming out of Iraq in recent weeks is a changing of the guard evident at the Baghdad International Airport (BIAP). As the crisis has deepened, U.S. contractors, U.S. Embassy personnel and most of the U.S. service members have abandoned the threatened capital. The exodus has coincided with Russian contractors and support personnel pouring into BIAP to help launch the 25 Russian SU-25 warplanes that Moscow is rushing to Iraq in its hour of need.
The Gulf governments seem worried these days. None of them had imagined, a few months ago, that individuals entrusted with security, people’s lives, oil fields and weapons would eventually pose the main threat to all these valuables. ISIS leaders, the likes of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, are well aware of al-Qaeda’s past experience and they do realize that the Islamic caliphate will never be truly fulfilled without controlling the region’s most important treasures, i.e. oil and gas resources.
Japan on Tuesday loosened the bonds on its powerful military, proclaiming the right to go into battle in defence of allies, in a highly controversial shift in the nation’s pacifist stance. Under the new definition, Japanese troops will be able to come to the aid of allies — primarily the US — if they come under attack from a common enemy, even if Japan is not the object of the attack. Examples pushed by the Abe camp have included a missile attack by North Korea on US forces in Guam.
“The representatives of the EU Member States in the Council adopted a decision on the so-called ‘solidarity clause’. Were a disaster or a loosely defined crisis to occur, the organs of the European Union would be obliged to assist using all the instruments at their disposal. This includes military resources”, warned Member of the Bundestag Andrej Hunko. The use of the “European Gendarmerie Force” (EUROGENDFOR) is made possible by the “solidarity clause”.
Border Patrol agents in Arizona were reportedly fired upon by a Mexican military helicopter that traveled across the border. KVOA-TV reports that Mexican authorities were conducting a drug interdiction operation when the incident happened early Thursday morning on the Tohono O’odham Indian Nation. The Mexican chopper fired at the agents and then flew back into Mexico. Art del Cueto, Border Patrol Tucson Sector union president, tells KVOA that they called and apologized for the incident.
The world’s newest country, South Sudan, has topped the list of fragile states in this year’s index released by a leading US-based research institute. Chronic instability, fractured leadership and growing ethnic conflict made it the most fragile state, The Fund for Peace said. The top six countries on the index are all in sub-Saharan Africa. Afghanistan was listed as the seventh most fragile state followed by Yemen, Haiti and Pakistan. Syria is 15th.
Iran reportedly has sent military advisers into Iraq and dispatched the head of its infamous Quds Force to help Baghdad strategize in its fight against Sunni militants, as the United States takes similar steps despite concern about Tehran’s involvement. While not in lockstep, Tehran and Washington are now taking a similar approach in helping the beleaguered government in Baghdad. Fox News confirms that Iran is flying surveillance drones over Iraq, something the U.S. also is doing.
Iraq is emblematic of how a security-conscious CIA is finding it difficult to spy aggressively in dangerous environments without military protection, Maguire and other current and former U.S. officials say. Intelligence blind spots have left the U.S. behind on fast-moving world events, they say, whether it’s disintegration in Iraq, Russia’s move into Crimea or the collapse of several governments during the Arab Spring. “This is a glaring example of the erosion of our street craft and our tradecraft and our capability to operate in a hard place.”
Intensified bombing in Sudan’s war-torn South Kordofan may be part of an attempt to starve the population, Amnesty International said on Wednesday. The air raids in recent weeks are “unprecedented in their scale and impact,” the London-based watchdog said, citing human rights monitors.Intensified bombing in Sudan’s war-torn South Kordofan may be part of an attempt to starve the population, Amnesty International said on Wednesday. The air raids in recent weeks are “unprecedented in their scale and impact”.
Militants have reportedly taken control of Iraq’s primary oil refinery in Baiji, north of Baghdad, after 10 days of fierce battles over the station in Salah al-Din province which supplies a third of Iraq’s refined oil. The ongoing battle for the site had already led to rationing of petrol in Iraq and street protests, reports the BBC. According to a spokesperson for the militants, control of the complex will now be handed over to local tribespeople. However, news of the refinery’s capture late on Monday has been slow to trickle out in official media outlets.
Fighting between government forces and troops form the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) took place nearly every day last week in the Manwing area of southern Kachin state. The fighting began shortly after a military column entered into an area controlled by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the KIO’s armed wing. Clashes between the Burma army’s Light Infantry Division No. 88 and resistance forces from KIA battalion 27 took place at Gaw Ngu Yang near Nam Hka village.
Israeli warplanes bombed a series of targets inside Syria early Monday, the Israeli military said, in response to a cross-border attack that killed an Israeli teenager the previous day. In all, Israel said it struck nine military targets inside Syria, and “direct hits were confirmed.” The targets were located near the site of Sunday’s violence in the Golan Heights and included a regional military command center and unspecified “launching positions.” There was no immediate response from Syria.
India is expanding a covert uranium enrichment plant that could potentially support the development of thermonuclear weapons, a defence research group said on Friday, raising the stakes in an arms race with China and Pakistan.The revelation highlights a lack of nuclear safeguards on India, while sanctions-bound Iran faces minute scrutiny in talks with world powers over its own nuclear programme. Unlike Iran, India is not a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
As President Barack Obama weighs options for potential U.S. intervention in Iraq, the Pentagon has a broad range of ground, air and sea troops and assets in the region. They include: —Six warships in the Persian Gulf, including the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, a cruiser, three destroyers and the amphibious transport ship the USS Mesa Verde, which is carrying about 550 Marines and five V-22 Osprey hybrid aircraft. About 5,000 U.S. soldiers across the border in Kuwait, as part of a routine rotational presence.
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.
Turkey’s Air Force has sent F-16 fighter jets on reconnaissance flights near the Iraqi city of Mosul. Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated on that Iraq has not taken the necessary security measures to combat ongoing violence affecting the country. “The ongoing violence in Iraq is quickly spreading and has started to enter neighboring countries,” said by Turkey’s Foreign Ministry. Iraq has seen a marked increase in sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia Muslims in recent months
A former Qatari ambassador to the United States offered up a warning to the Obama administration that any military intervention on behalf of the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki would be seen as an act of “war” on the entire community of Sunni Arabs. Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad al Khalifa also warned against the United States working with Iran to repulse the advance by the radical Sunni group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
The Kurdish Peshmerga said that a security belt they have created on the southern edges of Tuz Khurmatu has prevented the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) from bringing their fight to the Kurdish areas. A Peshmerga officer in the area also told Rudaw that the ISIS have contacted them by courier, saying, “If you don’t attack us, we would not attack you.” The last Peshmerga checkpoint is on the lower Zab River that stretches to the town of Dubis near the city of Kirkuk in the north.
Yemeni troops were surrounding a mosque controlled by ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh Sunday amid fears he is plotting a coup, days after the ex-strongman’s media outlets were silenced. A source close to the presidency told that weapons had been stored in the mosque and were being guarded by gunmen loyal to Saleh. A tunnel connecting the site to the presidential palace had also been discovered. Hadi suspects his predecessor is “plotting a coup”, the source said, without elaborating further.
While German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned on Sunday that the bloody conflict in Iraq could quickly spin into a regional “proxy war”, former spokesperson for the US defence department J.D. Gordon said that the renewed violence is actually a “proxy war between Saudi Arabia and the Iranians which is now spilled over into Iraq and there will be a lot more violence in the months, years to come.” “We have to prevent a proxy war of the regional powers breaking out on Iraqi soil,” he said.
US quietly sending in elite military units to train former Soviet bloc states amid annexation of Crimea
As the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) refocuses on its eastern borders after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the US is quietly deploying more troops to train special forces in former Soviet bloc states anxious about Moscow’s intentions. Highly trained and equipped with advanced communications equipment and weapons, special forces are often used in counterterrorism or reconnaissance operations. They can infiltrate enemy lines to tie down much larger numbers of opposition troops.
The Iraqi city of Tikrit has been seized by fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, security sources have said, the second city to fall to the group in two days. Sources told Al Jazeera on Wednesday that gunmen had set up checkpoints around Tikrit, which lies between the capital Baghdad and Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city which was captured by ISIL on Tuesday. Meanwhile, sources said the nearby city of Kirkuk, home to Iraq’s biggest oil refinery, was also being attacked by ISIL.
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.
China is swapping its reserved diplomacy for a hands-on approach to help resolve a five-month rebellion in South Sudan that threatens Beijing’s oil investments. Diplomats say the permanent Chinese presence at the Addis Ababa talks and their frequent lobby chats and closed-door consultations with diplomats from the United States, Britain and Norway – the main Western backers of newly independent South Sudan – show China’s more proactive approach.
At least 18 people have been killed and dozens injured during sporadic fighting in the Iraqi city of Samarra after armed men took control of several districts, military sources have said. Government forces in the city told Al Jazeera that they believed the men were members of t he Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL) and that the army was sending in reinforcements to face them. They said the fighting was ongoing and that government warplanes were attacking rebel positions in the city, which lies 125 km north of the capital Baghdad.
Troops clashed at the Burma-Bangladesh border oas tensions boiled over while Burmese soldiers were returning the body of a Bangladeshi killed in a skirmish two days before, AFP has reported. Citing Devdash Bhattacharya, the Bangladeshi police chief in the district of Bandarban, the report said that gunfire broke out on Friday afternoon when the Burmese border police failed to return the dead soldier’s body on time.
Local officials of eastern Kunar province reported that Pakistani military forces had fired more than 97 rockets into Dangam and Shegal districts of the province. The assault marks just the most recent of a series of violent Pakistani territorial infringmenets that have caused death and destruction in a number of eastern provinces over the past week. “Clashes between the Pakistani Taliban and Pakistani military forces have spread into the border areas of Afghanistan,” he explained.
“We are a failed state,” said a student at the Autonomous University of Tamaulipas. “There is no law. It’s the rule of the gun.” The fight for supremacy intensified between the Gulf cartel and its former mercenaries, the Zetas, the federal government has stepped in. Earlier this month, Mexico’s interior minister, Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, flew to the border city of Reynosa to announce a new security strategy for the state, appointing four senior military officers to rule, in effect, with martial law.
France will strengthen its military presence in Africa and Djibouti will play a major role in this strategy by hosting the next French base. It is a detachment of the Special Operations Command (SOC). According to an expert from the French army, with this new detachment, and France will graph the Sahelian zone with a response of less than 3 hours capacity for the entire region. Originally, this base was to be established in Mali which eventually declined the offer.
While the Reds may for now be cramped by martial law, observers say they are likely to regroup in coming months. They foresee protests, road blocks and moves to cripple provincial governments. Attacks by armed militant cells and a crescendo of calls for a parallel government — a direct challenge to the army’s writ over the country — could also be on the cards. “The chance of violence is very strong,” said Kan Yuenyong, executive director of the Siam Intelligence Unit think-tank.
Thailand’s new military leader said Monday that the junta would hold power “indefinitely,” and warned citizens not to instigate chaos or criticize his rule. Since the coup, there have been daily protests of several hundred — a violation of martial law that prohibits gatherings of more than five. “The danger is if somebody wants to be the provocateur, you could have a chain reaction,” said Gothom Arya, a lecturer at the Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies at Mahidol University. “One small incident can degenerate the whole situation.”
Thailand, one of Asia’s most prosperous countries, seems determined to render itself a basket case. A military coup, imposed following the Thai constitutional court’s ouster of an elected government on spurious legal grounds, can lead only to an artificial peace. To Thailand’s east, Vietnam is the latest Asian country to feel pinched by China’s policy of creating facts on the ground, or in this case at sea, to enhance its sovereignty claims on disputed territory.
Indeed, in recent weeks, Sanaa has seen a sharp rise in violence. On May 9, five soldiers were killed in an unprecedented assault blamed on al-Qaeda against the Presidential Palace. The same day, a bomb killed 11 police officers near the British and Qatari embassies. Four days earlier, a Frenchman in charge of the security of an European Union delegation was slain in the diplomatic district Hada. On April 21, two Yemeni officers were shot down by commandos on motocycles.
Forces loyal to a rogue Libyan general attacked the country’s parliament Sunday, forcing lawmakers to flee an assault his spokesman said targeted Islamists there who protect the extremist militias now plaguing the nation. The attack was met with resistance from other troops, Mohammed al-Hegazi, a spokesman for Gen. Khalifa Hifter, told Libya’s al-Ahrar television station. Gunfire near parliament could be heard for kilometers (miles) around.
The army has threatened to declare martial law if widespread violence breaks out in Thailand. The comment followed yesterday’s statement by the Royal Thai Army, which expressed a willingness to deploy troops and take “extreme measures of suppression” if shadowy militants continue to stage attacks on demonstrators. Anti-government protest campsites have been the target of numerous attacks from unidentified assailants in recent weeks. The latest incident killed three demonstrators and injured at least 20.
Vietnam has accused Chinese vessels of deliberately and dangerously ramming its ships. TV footage recorded last week from a Vietnamese ship showed a Chinese vessel smashing into the stern of the Vietnamese ship then backing up and ramming it again, damaging its side. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday released three photographs purportedly showing a Vietnamese vessel ramming a Chinese maritime ship. The media onboard this week did not witness any ramming.
The United States called Wednesday for an immediate deployment of African troops to safeguard a fragile peace deal reached last week by warring sides in Sudan. “We have to work closely with the leaders of the region to make sure that we get IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development in Eastern Africa) troops on the ground, who will be put in the position so that they can monitor the agreement and ensure that anyone who is involved in breaking that agreement will be held responsible,” she said.
After less than three years of nationhood, South Sudan stands on the precipice of civil war. The crisis represents a clear test of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine, and Australia has a key role to play in making the case for humanitarian intervention. The crisis in South Sudan started when President Salva Kiir dismissed Vice-President Riek Machar in July 2013 after a dispute over control of the country’s major political party and patronage vehicle, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).
Moldova has confiscated a petition of names of people from the breakaway Transdniester region which call on Russia to annex the territory. The boxes containing the lists were taken away by officials from a Russian jet in the Transdniester capital Chisinau after Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin’s visit of Victory Day celebrations. Rogozin had been in the pro-Russian breakaway region, which despite declaring its independence in the early 1990s is not recognized by a single county.
A Chinese expert said North Korea is not likely to heed China’s warning against conducting its fourth nuclear test, arguing that Beijing’s role in taming Pyongyang has been “overestimated”. China has grown increasingly frustrated with the North’s wayward behaviour, but many analysts believe Beijing would not take tougher actions, including suspending or restricting supplies of food and energy as it could lead to a regime collapse in North Korea.
The U.S. has established an operational plan to deploy 20 marine brigades to the Korean Peninsula in case of a North Korean invasion into the South, U.S. House Armed Services Chairman Howard McKeon. During a forum in Washington, McKeon said that U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos told him that most of the U.S. marines are to be dispatched to defend South Korea under the plan, according to Yonhap. Under the allies’ joint war plan, the U.S. is to send its 690,000 troops to the peninsula in case of an all-out war.
Initial reports of high turnout and relative security during Iraq’s parliamentary elections have buoyed optimism that things might not be so bad there after all. Unfortunately, a smooth election and even the formation of a new government are not likely to reverse the negative security trends that are bringing Iraq ever closer to full-scale sectarian war. The Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) has established havens in Anbar, Diyala, and southern Baghdad.
Contingency planners from China’s People’s Liberation Army have formulated a set of emergency measures to cope with the ramifications of a collapse of North Korea’s regime for the border area, including a possible massive influx of refugees, according to internal PLA documents. The documents — which Chinese military sources say were compiled in the summer of last year, or several months after North Korea carried out its third nuclear test — call for boosting China’s monitoring capacity along the two countries’ 1,416-kilometer-long border.
The civil war in Syria has proved a fertile breeding ground attracting thousands of foreign fighters who have joined the fight against President Bashar Al Assad. They seized advantage of the chaos and lack of governance as well as a flow of money from the Gulf for Sunni terror groups, particularly those operating in Syria. This has fuelled growing “concern about the creation of a new generation of globally-committed terrorists, similar to what resulted from the influx of violent extremists to Afghanistan in the 1980s.”
Pakistan and Afghanistan may resume their proxy war after the Americans leave the region, a US newspaper warned while another said that the Pakistani government was holding talks with the Taliban against the army’s wishes. The Los Angeles Times noted that Pakistan’s civilian government was “pushing back” against the country’s powerful military as politicians expanded their influence and since he returned to office in June, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had taken several steps to make this point.
Heavy military spending in India and Pakistan has been detrimental to the citizens of both countries, a US think-tank has said urging the two neighbours to reinvest in trade and confidence building. The Washington-based Atlantic Council warns that “Kashmir remains a potential global flashpoint that could escalate into a nuclear war very quickly.” Although many in the two countries now favour rapprochement, the report argues that “unless both sides begin a dialogue on economic and military relations, these issues will only worsen.”
Failed, collapsed or weakened states pose a regional security problem and even a national security threat for the U.S. and its Army, Kaplan said, defining a weak or failed state as one where travel outside the capital can be dangerous — places like Syria, Iraq, South Sudan and Yemen. Social media is not the only factor that will increasingly destabilize the world in the next 20 years, he said.Ethnic and religious sectarian problems will continue to fester and create failed states in places like Africa and the Middle East.
A hail of gunfire rings out as a group of soldiers leap from a helicopter, do a combat roll, crouch and open fire. Running through a haze of smoke, clambering up and down ropes and engaging in hand-to-hand combat: Ukraine’s newly-formed National Guard is hard at work learning to defend the crisis-hit country. At a military base in Novi Petrivtsi the recruits are showing off their new skills, many of them drawn from the protesters whose uprising led to the fall of the previous government.
The former princely state of India and Pakistan (once part of the British Empire, now part of India, Pakistan, and China) has been disputed since the British relinquished control of the subcontinent in the 1940s. A heavily militarized, 450-mile-long (724-kilometer-long) Line of Control has long pitted Indian and Pakistani forces against each other in this contested Himalayan region.
Bosnia and Herzegovina has experienced its largest social unrests in the post-Dayton period. Thousands of Bosnians, mainly Bosniaks, have come to the streets protesting and asking for complete resignation of all political elites at all levels of government. High rate of unemployment, poverty, corruption and nepotism are only few among main factors that have deteriorated lives of Bosnians.
The Kremlin has justified the use of force in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine with a vow to protect ethnic Russians, an excuse that’s easily applied in other places. In Kazakhstan, there’s a significant minority of ethnic Russians in the north of the country, Hill points out – some 24 percent of the country is said to be ethnically Russian, and the language is widely spoken. While Belarus has fewer ethnic Russians (8.3 percent), it has largely become a Russophone state and there are a lot of murky questions about who might succeed Alexandr Lukashenko.
Russia is the only serious rival of Turkey in the Black Sea region. Turkey has certain advantages over Russia because it controls the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits, Turkish studies expert Gevorg Petrosyan told reporters while commenting on the geopolitical importance of Crimea. According to him, Ankara may use the factor of the Crimean Tatars who have pro-Turkish views. “Many thousands of Tatars living in Turkey held protests against Russia, expressing their support for the Crimean Tatars,” he said. He noted that the “Georgian scenario” is likely to be implemented out in Crimea.
Russia’s upper house parliament has approved the request of Russian President Vladimir Putin after he asked to send armed forces to Ukraine’s Crimea region. “In connection with the extraordinary situation in Ukraine, the threat to the lives of citizens of the Russian Federation, our compatriots, and the personnel of the armed forces of the Russian Federation on Ukrainian territory (in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea) … I submit a proposal on using the armed forces of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine until the normalisation of the socio-political situation in the that country,” Putin’s statement said.
It’s perhaps not surprising that Tajikistan, which shares a poorly guarded, 750-mile border with opium-rich Afghanistan, has become a major global drug-trafficking hub—in fact, more than 80 percent of Afghanistan’s heroin exports to Russia and Europe now pass through Tajik territory. Over the past decade, the United States, worried that the drug trade would soon be accompanied by all the other security problems that plague Afghanistan, has cooperated closely with Tajikistan’s government to help it stem the narcotics trade. Seems reasonable, right? Unfortunately, that government is such a dubious partner that hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid have done little to stop the drug business—while helping to shore up its apparatus of repression.
Some time ago, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences released a piece of research entitled “A Report on Developments in the Asia Pacific Area.” This report leveled a great deal of criticism at North Korea. In the report, Chinese experts said that North Korean authorities believe that China will never abandon their country, but they argued that China could very well abandon North Korea if the country continues its brinkmanship-based policies, including nuclear weapons tests. They also said that China could accept a South Korean-led reunification of the Korean Peninsula. The contents of this report are unprecedented.
Tensions also mounted in Crimea, in the southeast of Ukraine, where pro-Russian politicians are organizing rallies and forming protest units, demanding autonomy from Kyiv. The region is now seen as a potential flashpoint because of its deep strategic significance to Moscow. Ukraine is deeply divided between its eastern regions, which are largely pro-Russian, and western areas that widely detest Yanukovych. The Crimean port of Sevastopol may be part of Ukraine, but it is the Russian tricolour that flutters proudly above the port’s barrack blocks and warships.
China said it was “extremely concerned” by a report that Japan has resisted returning to the United States more than 300kg of mostly weapons-grade plutonium, the latest dispute between the two Asian neighbours. Japan’s Kyodo news agency said that Washington had pressed Japan to give back the nuclear material which could be used to make up to 50 nuclear bombs. Japan had resisted, but finally given in to US demands, it added. China is involved in a bitter territorial dispute with Japan and has warned Japan is trying to re-arm.
United States secretary of state John Kerry has announced that China is willing to exert more pressure to get North Korea to give up its nuclear programme. He told reporters in Beijing he was pleased China “could not have more forcefully reiterated its commitment” to the goal of denuclearising North Korea. The reclusive Asian state has defied international warnings not to build atomic bombs and long-range missiles. North Korea is believed to have enough fissile material to build up to ten nuclear bombs, but most intelligence analysts say the country has yet to master the technology to deploy such weapons.
Intelligence officials and issue analysts report signs that Saudi Arabia wants to develop a capacity to enrich uranium, despite proliferation concerns. Riyadh is understood to be worried that world powers will agree to allow Iran to maintain some limited uranium-enrichment capability in a potential lasting deal on its nuclear program. Saudi Arabia has an established interest in developing an atomic-energy program, but its concerns about Iran could be causing the Persian Gulf kingdom to consider a more expansive domestic nuclear capability, the Daily Beast reported on Friday.
The Central African Republic’s northern neighbor, Chad, is a military heavyweight in the region. Under the leadership of President Idriss Deby Itno, it is a driving force behind key decisions in the current crisis. For example, on the question of the president: CAR’s interim president Michel Djotodia was invited to attend a summit of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) in the Chadian capital N’Djamena in January 2014. He then resigned following pressure put on him by President Deby. This was not the first time Chad had decided on the rise and fall of a Central African president.
The National Security Advisory Committee (NSAC) wants the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to summon officials from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to give information over what it terms as “plans to topple the government using activists.” According to NSAC Chairman Francis Kimemia, the committee has credible information detailing how the US donor agency has consistently funded demonstrations by activists. Kimemia said that the organisation has used individuals including a defrocked pastor to slander parliamentarians.