Iraq’s Kurdistan region has started to export crude oil by truck to an Iranian port for shipping to Asia, industry sources say, using a trade route that is likely to anger both Baghdad and Washington The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has reportedly approved a second route for crude through Iran after Turkey, although a KRG official denies any crude was going through Iran yet. Iraq’s Kurdistan region is exporting crude oil by truck to an Iranian port for shipping to Asia, industry sources say, using a trade route that is likely to anger both Baghdad and Washington.
There are concerns as the political upheaval grows, elements of the former regime of Zein Abidine Ben Ali, driven from power in January 2011, retain considerable influence and maintain ties with the labor unions and the internal security forces and could try to stage a comeback.
The cause of Tunisia’s slide toward anarchy was the assassination Thursday of secular opposition leader Mohammed Brahmi, a member of the 217-seat parliament who represented the central city of Sidi Bouzid, his hometown.
From Washington’s perspective, Bandar’s appointment is important news. Sure, his wife was investigated by Congress a decade ago about her connections to Al-Qaida activists. But Bandar is considered the CIA’s man in Riyadh. When there was a need to transfer money to the Nicaraguan rebels in the 1980s, Bandar dealt with the Saudi “grants” requested by the White House. He also arranged things when Saudi Arabia was asked to help fund the mujahideen’s battles in Afghanistan against the Soviets.
I am astonished by how little the media has covered the ongoing protests in Bahrain, Kuwait, and eastern Saudi Arabia. You would think that the oil-rich Gulf Cooperation Council states would be under a microscope, because what happens there immediately affects oil prices. But large media corporations have opted not to cover events in these countries, so as not to cause market panic. And there is a lot to panic about. The Arab Spring, or something like it, in Bahrain is all about Sunni-Shia tensions. Bahraini Shia make up almost 70% of the country’s total population.
The top U.S. general has set out five options for military intervention in Syria in a non-classified letter made public Monday. Despite outlining the options, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey stressed that the decision of whether to go to war was one for civilian leaders. In his July 19 letter, he pointed out that the use of the options would be a political decision that should not be carried out lightly and would be, “no less than an act of war.” The options range from nonlethal intelligence and weapons training to a boots-on-the-ground plan to “assault and secure” the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons.
A very senior British general said of Operation Serval in Mali that France had “set the standard” for crisis military interventions. Praise indeed and not easily given. One can always tell when a crisis is being managed to effect as the press lose interest. The challenge Paris faced when four thousand French troops arrived in Mali in February was complicated to say the least. Tuaregs had taken control of northern Mali and sought separation. They were supported by a particularly nasty bunch of Islamists who had profited (literally) from the chaos in neighboring Libya.
U.S. and Western weapons have been reaching Iranian-backed Shiite militias fighting to keep Bashar Assad’s forces in power in Syria. Analysts say it’s unclear if the weapons were captured, stolen or bought on the black market in Syria, Turkey, Iraq or Libya. Propaganda photographs from Shiite militias posted on dozens of websites and Facebook pages show the weapons were acquired in new condition, said Phillip Smyth, an analyst for Jihadology.net, a site affiliated with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Few outside the intelligence community had heard of activity-based intelligence until December, when the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency awarded BAE Systems $60 million to develop products based on this newish methodology. But ABI, which focuses not on specific targets but on events, movements and transactions in a given area, is rapidly emerging as a powerful tool for understanding adversary networks and solving quandaries presented by asymmetrical warfare and big data.
In a long-awaited decision to bring Azeri gas resources to Europe, the Shah Deniz II consortium opted for a pipeline running through Greece and Albania instead of a rival northwestern route, Nabucco West, running from Bulgaria to Austria.
The Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) will stretch 870 kilometres from the Greek-Turkish border. Moving west, TAP is designed to extend across the breadth of northern Greece before veering northwest to Albania. From Fier, Albania, plans envision the pipeline crossing under the Adriatic to emerge in southern Italy.
Defence engagement, a catch-all term for non-operational military activity through which to achieve influence internationally, is gaining momentum as a core military task for both the US and the UK. The rationale for this is the need, in an age of fiscal constraint, to derive greater utility from the armed forces: no longer can a force simply drill in barracks while awaiting the next conflict. Furthermore, the most important lesson learned in Iraq and Afghanistan is that victory cannot be achieved through brute force alone.
Ever wonder what the largest private armies in the world are? Even though nowadays many countries are struggling to protect peace, there are several official “war” conflict zones on Earth. In many cases, major countries can interfere with their own troops. However, in order to prevent the risk of losing soldiers from a national army, or in case a country doesn’t have enough of a military force, a government can hire mercenaries. Mercenaries are soldiers who are fighting in exchange for a gain or material compensation.
As the West begins to gear up for the centenary of the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the Middle East is being convulsed as never before by the legacy of the breakup of the Ottoman Empire. Look no farther than Syria, where one part of that legacy – the Sykes-Picot Agreement, which divided the Middle East into British and French spheres of influence even while the Great War still raged – is coming to a brutally violent end. Likewise, the current turmoil in Turkey is, at least in part, a consequence of “neo-Ottoman” overreach by Erdogan’s government.
From Aleppo in Syria to Quetta in Balochistan, Muslims are engaged in the slaughter of other Muslims. The numbers are enormous: over 93,000 killed in the Syrian civil war and over 48,000 dead in Pakistan. Millions have perished in similar intra-Muslim conflicts in the past four decades. Many wonder if the belief in Islam was sufficient to bind Muslims in peace with each other. As the violence amongst Muslims increases, most Muslims prefer denial or look for scapegoats.
Psst. Hey mister. Wanna buy a UAV? China’s got drones for shooting, drones for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and drones for target practice. Cheap prices and no arms export restrictions.“Surging domestic and international market demand for UAVs, from both military and civilian customers, will continue to buoy growth of the Chinese industry. Chinese defense firms do not face the same export restrictions as top UAV-exporting countries, such as the United States and Israel. As a result, China could become a key UAV proliferator, particularly to developing countries.”
A mortar attack on an Iranian dissident camp killed three people in Baghdad on Saturday, police sources said, and the Mujahidin-e-Khalq (MEK) group said Iran was probably to blame, with Iraqi complicity.
MEK said two of the camp’s residents were killed and 40 wounded in the attack. An Iraqi died when a stray mortar round hit a residential complex for Baghdad airport employees nearby. A similar attack on the camp in February killed at least five members of the MEK, which was removed from the U.S. State Department’s list of terrorist organisations last year.
German “Die Welt” daily said that only 5% of the armed terrorists in the so-called Free Army are Syrians, while 95% of them are extremist groups which came from several African countries to jihad in Syria backed by the Gulf and Arab countries.
A member of the German intelligence said that some terrorist groups in Syria wok in full coordination with al-Qaeda, but the extremist groups are most dangerous than al-Qaeda since they commit genocide against children and women.
This is a country standing on the edge of an existential precipice. Now, facing an Iraqi government that lacks the intelligence targeting capabilities of the U.S. government, AQI’s effective successor, the Islamic State of Iraq ( ISI), is wreaking havoc. Waging a campaign of murder against Iraqi Shia, these terrorists want to exacerbate an ongoing government crackdown against Iraqi Sunnis. Their sustaining objective is unambiguous — fostering a cauldron of chaos in which Iraqis detach into base sectarian alliances. In short, they desire a civil war.
Pentagon propaganda programs are inadequately tracked, their impact is unclear, and the military doesn’t know if it is targeting the right foreign audiences, according to a government report obtained by USA TODAY.
Since 2005, the Pentagon has spent hundreds of million of dollars on Military Information Support Operations (MISO). These propaganda efforts include websites, leaflets and broadcasts intended to change foreigners’ “attitudes and behaviors in support of U.S. Government” objectives, according to the report by the Government Accountability Office. Some of them disclose the U.S. military as the source; others don’t.
Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas have fought their biggest battle yet for Syria’s beleaguered president, prompting international alarm that the civil war may spread and an urgent call for restraint from the US.
About 30 Hezbollah fighters were killed on Sunday, Syrian activists said, along with 20 Syrian troops and militiamen loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during the fiercest fighting this year in the rebel stronghold of Qusair, near the Lebanon border. That would be the highest daily loss for the Iranian-backed movement in Syria, highlighting how it is increasing its efforts to bolster al-Assad.
Armenian Defence Minister Seyran Ohanyan has said that the armed forces have begun a large-scale upgrade of their hardware. He said that the military will receive new military hardware and types of weapons, and the existing hardware will be upgraded: “We are regularly making renewals in the army. Now we plan more-large scale efforts in this direction. These projects will also be conducted within the framework of establishing joint ventures with Russia and Poland.”
In 2011, Bill Keller, former executive editor of The New York Times, offered a mea culpa for his support of the war in Iraq. “When the troops went in, they went with my blessing,” confessed Keller. “I could not foresee that we would mishandle the war so badly, but I could see that there was no clear plan for — and at the highest levels, a shameful smugness about — what came after the invasion.” He called his realization “the costly wisdom of Iraq,” which, according to his op-ed in the Times on Monday, doesn’t seem to apply to Syria.
The future of ground forces, the study argues, lies somewhere in the “messy middle,” between long-range, high-tech air- and cyber-strikes against a hostile nation-state — the “AirSea Battle” vision of the Navy and Air Force — and low-profile, low-cost Special Operations and drone raids against scattered terrorists. The study, entitled Beyond the Last War, lays out a score of scenarios, half in the Pacific and half in the Middle East, where the problem will be too big for Special Ops alone but too deeply dug in to excise surgically from afar.
Residents of a number of Sunni cities in Iraq have announced the formation of “military forces” to counter attack the Iraqi army and its crackdown against protesters calling for Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki – a Shiite – to step down, Al Arabiya reported on Thursday. The announcements come after Sunni tribesmen were called to arm following a government sponsored military raid on a Sunni Muslim anti-government protest at a camp in Hawija, near Kirkuk, on Tuesday. Dozens of people were killed and injured in the initial incident. It set off a wave of revenge attacks that hit five different Sunni-majority provinces, killing at least 110 people.
Sectarian strife has returned to Iraq from elsewhere in the region, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said, a likely reference to neighbouring war-torn Syria.
A civil war pitting mainly Sunni Muslim rebels against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a member of the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, has killed more than 70,000 people. Sectarian strife “came back to Iraq because it began in another place in this region,” Maliki said in televised remarks, an allusion to Sunni-Shiite violence that peaked in 2006 and 2006 and claimed tens of thousands of lives.
US academic and former statesman, Zbigniew Brzezinski, has said Western democracies need to create a trans-Atlantic free trade area to remain relevant in world affairs. The 85-year-old, who was a US national security advisor at the height of the Cold War, spoke at the Globsec conference in Bratislava on Thursday (18 April) to an audience of central European VIPs. But he said Europe failed to fulfil its promise, while the US undid itself by invading Iraq. “Europe’s main problem is that today’s European Union is a Europe more of banks than of people, more of commercial convenience than an emotional commitment of the European peoples,” he said.
A United States warship designed to fight in coastal areas arrived on Thursday in Singapore for its Southeast Asian deployment, underlining President Barack Obama’s new strategic focus on Asia.
The deployment of the USS Freedom comes at a time of heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula and as China publicly flexes its naval muscle in the South China Sea, where it has competing territorial claims with some Southeast Asian states. US Navy officials said the Freedom, a littoral combat ship, sailed into Changi Naval Base at around 11 a.m. in Singapore, a long-standing US ally that assists in logistics and exercises for forces in Southeast Asia.
The Kurdish government will sell oil and gas directly to Turkey in a deal that so far has bypassed the Iraqi government in Baghdad, which has warned the Kurds not to sign separate energy accords. Turkey may also take the Kurdish government’s stake in concessions operated by Exxon Mobil Corp. on the enclave’s border with the rest of Iraq, one of the people said.
“Large-scale oil exports would change the economic position of Kurdistan,” said Robin Mills, head of consulting at Dubai-based Manaar Energy Consulting and Project Management. “If this deal goes through, it’s an aggressive move by Turkey that really means busting relations with Baghdad.”
The Central Intelligence Agency conspired with dozens of governments to build a secret extraordinary rendition and detention program that spanned the globe. Extraordinary rendition is the transfer—without legal process—of a detainee to the custody of a foreign government for purposes of detention and interrogation. In the Open Society Justice Initiative’s new report, it stripped people of their most basic rights, facilitated gruesome forms of torture, at times captured the wrong people, and debased the United States’ human rights reputation world-wide.
The Enemy Industrial Complex: How to turn a world lacking in enemies into the most threatening place in the universe
Without an enemy of commensurate size and threat, so much that was done in Washington in these years might have been unattainable. The vast national security building and spending spree — stretching from the Virginia suburbs of Washington, where the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency erected its new $1.8 billion headquarters, to Bluffdale, Utah, where the National Security Agency is still constructing a $2 billion, one-million-square-foot data center for storing the world’s intercepted communications — would have been unlikely.
The U.S. military’s much-discussed AirSea Battle will remain a priority in light of rising tensions with North Korea, ongoing military strategy assessments and continued budget constraints, Pentagon officials said.
“Air-Sea Battle is a set of agreed-upon ideas and actions to create the joint force needed for operations in contested and denied environments and what that force needs to be able to do. Having smaller budget authority does not change the validity of [Air-Sea Battle’s] ideas and actions for force development, although it may slow [Air-Sea Battle’s] implementation,” according to a statement from the Air-Sea Battle office.
A Fox News military analyst who has previously justified the U.S. invasion in Iraq by asserting that Russia conspired to hide Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) now says that there is a “very high probability” that those WMDs are in Syria. Fox News host Brian Kilmeade on Friday spoke to retired Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney about recent rumors of a chemical attack near Aleppo, Syria.“ “Well, I think there is a high probability of that,” McInerney declared. “That’s conjecture, but we do know prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom, there was a lot of vehicles crossing the border into Syria. And there was a great deal of conjecture. A Iraqi major general swore by it. He said he delivered it.”
A lot of people in Europe, especially the French, cheered heedlessly when the Arab Spring took off in 2011. But then came the 70,000 dead from the Syrian war; the proliferation of terrorism in Libya and Mali; the assassination of the main Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaid in a country where there is actually less freedom than before; and of course, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, knee deep in economic and social chaos.
The Arab Spring of these secular republics wasn’t as positive and peaceful as many had expected.
It is a perennial problem in military operations that there is never enough satellite capacity to satisfy commanders’ gargantuan appetite for voice and data communications.
The bandwidth crunch is expected to worsen in coming years as the Pentagon increases deployments of remotely piloted aircraft for around-the-clock surveillance in many parts of the world. Anticipated requirements for satellite communications will far outstrip capacity, officials have predicted.
Iran has significantly stepped up military support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in recent months, solidifying its position alongside Russia as the government’s lifeline in an increasingly sectarian civil war, Western diplomats said.
Iran’s acceleration of support for Assad suggests the Syrian war is entering a new phase in which Iran may be trying to end the battlefield stalemate by redoubling its commitment to Assad and offering Syria’s increasingly isolated government a crucial lifeline, the envoys said.
The events of the Arab Spring and the variables that have happened in Iraq after invading it in 2003, which led to the fall of the dictatorial rulers, caused authoritarian and political vacuum, over which the States whose governments still hold the reins of power in it have competed and thus have turned into powerful States. Qatar is one of these States that is small but yet have great ambitions and is supported and backed by the United States and Israel. It is clear that Qatar’s policy aims at strengthening its authority and role in the region at the expense of the Saudi role.
Inside Iraq, the forces of Sunni-Shia sectarian conflict had been unleashed by the U.S. invasion. That, in turn, was creating the conditions for a proxy war between the U.S. and Iran, similar to the growing proxy war between Israel and Iran inside Lebanon (where another destabilizing event, the U.S.-sanctioned Israeli invasion of 2006, followed in hand). None of this has ever ended. Today, in fact, that proxy war has simply found a fresh host, Syria, with multiple powers using “humanitarian aid” to push and shove their Sunni and Shia avatars around.
Attackers killed more than 50 Iraqi and Syrian soldiers in an ambush on Iraqi soil yesterday, stoking fears that the fighting in Syria could spill over the 600-kilometre border and provoke sectarian violence in Iraq.
A total of 48 Syrian soldiers and nine Iraqis died when their convoy of 32 vehicles was attacked by gunmen using homemade bombs, mortars and heavy artillery as they drove towards a border crossing with Syria in Iraq’s western Anbar province. The Syrian soldiers, who numbered 65 in total, had fled into Iraq on March 2, according to a security official in Anbar.
The balance of power in the world is changing, with many new power players emerging — in some cases re-emerging — with growing militaries that challenges U.S. interests in the world and highlight the increasing security challenges of the 21st century.
While the U.S. ponders cutting its military spending, her competitors and allies are ramping up their military strength to advance their interests in their part of the world and beyond. In Asia, China, Japan, and India stand as the leaders in military spending with an emphasis in quantity for the purpose of improving their standing and to uphold their national pride.
Will armies battle each other, as the cry for “blue gold” gets furious? Will “water wars” be as prevalent as conflict for the “black gold” of oil? Two documentary films have wetted public interest – Blue Gold: World Water Wars, and Last Call at the Oasis, and a dystopia novel – The Water Wars – warns of its imminence.
In actuality, history’s pages are already splashed with dozens of conflicts. In 2,450 B.C. the Sumerian cities of Lagash and Umma warred over Tigris-Euphrates water. More recently, Senegal and Mauritaniabattled in 1989 over grazing rights in the Senegal River Valley – hundreds were killed, 250,000 fled their homes. The Pacific Institute provides an excellent map and timeline of 225 water skirmishes.
Starting in 2007, Ankara applied three times, unsuccessfully, to join theShanghai Cooperation Organization (informally known as the Shanghai Five). Founded in 1996 by the Russian and Chinese governments, along with three former Soviet Central Asian states (a fourth was added in 2001), the SCO has received little attention in the West, although it has grand security and other aspirations, including the possible creation of a gas cartel. More, it offers an alternative to the Western model, from NATO to democracy to the U.S. dollar as reserve currency.
In early 1995, Sierra Leone was on the brink of collapse. A violent civil war had ravaged the country, leaving thousands dead and countless others wounded. The insurgent rebels, infamous for recruiting child soldiers, were just weeks from the beleaguered capital, Freetown, and appeared unassailable.
Several months later, however, the tide had turned: the government’s authority was strengthened, rebel forces were repelled, and control over the country’s major economic assets was restored. Executive Outcomes, a private military contractor armed with helicopters and state of the art artillery, helped change the course of the war.
Turkey is in a rush to grow its energy sector. And recent news that the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, known as Taqa, will invest heavily in Turkish coal-fired power plants shows how serious Ankara is taking this commitment.
The deal, announced at the start of the year, will see Taqa build and operate a power generation base totalling 7,000 megawatts, or about 10 per cent of Turkey’s electricity needs by the time the plants are completed.
Last Friday, the Kurdish regional government stated that it had begun shipping crude oil to Turkey over the past week. That, of course, displeased the Baghdad government, which has now declared that it may seize such unauthorized oil exports and sue companies engaged in such dealings.
The Washington Post reports that the threatening notification was first spotted on the State Oil Marketing Organization’s website. The move will undoubtedly put further pressure on already-strained relations between the Iraqi central government and that of the Kurds—coming shortly after both parties apparently were prepared to go to war and troops were deployed along the internal border just two months ago.
While the Syrian drama is coming almost to an end, a new political drama is unfolding in Iraq. Probably, the ensuing events in Iraq will affect the Gulf societies more than the events in Syria.
The Syrians comprise a number of social sects and ethnic minorities, scattered geographically all over Syrian soil, a fact which could prevent one of them from taking charge of the country in the future as they are bound to have a coalition between these minorities to make the state functional.
Turkey’s intelligence services have held talks with jailed Kurdish PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan. Direct negotiations may lead to a solution to the Kurdish conflict and could end decades of fighting. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government want to work out a scheme with Ocalan that would allow Kurdish rebels to lay down their weapons. News reports have leaked that PKK leaders in northern Iraq’s Qandil mountains would not be brought to trial but would instead be given the opportunity to seek exile elsewhere. Regular PKK fighters would be reintegrated into society.
Rosneft reported one of the largest rises in crude output among the Russian oil majors last year. More crude from state-owned top producer Rosneft kept Russian oil output the highest in the world last year, ahead of Saudi Arabia, Energy Ministry data showed on Wednesday.
Crude output edged up almost 1% to a new post-Soviet high of 10.37 million barrels per day (bpd), but the increase could halt this year due to depleted oil fields in West Siberia. Russia’s oil output, the world’s largest, edged up almost 1% in 2012 to a new post-Soviet average yearly high of 10.37 million barrels per day (bpd).
With all the special-envoy visits to Moscow and accompanying news headlines, a casual observer might easily conclude that Russia holds the key to resolving the Syrian crisis.
But as the latest round of failed talks this weekend – this time between Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, and Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations and Arab League envoy on Syria – conclusively demonstrate, Russia will not be part of the solution on Syria.
The US helped to train and now equips the Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF). The forces are used by Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki to help him centralise power and repress opposing Sunni politicians.
Robert Tollast in The National Interest maintains that even as the US prepared to drawn down its forces “elements of ISOF were already being used as a private army by Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.”
VIOLENCE in Iraq dropped in 2012, data shows, but insurgents proved they were still capable of mounting waves of attacks and a watchdog warned the country was still in a “low-level war”.
The warnings, which come after the first full year since American forces completed their withdrawal in December 2011, were punctuated by a series of nationwide shootings and bombings on New Year’s Eve in which 28 people were killed and nearly 100 wounded.
Shifting its military power to the Asia-Pacific region, the United States has started a five-year process of deploying its three types of stealth warplanes to bases near China.
Air Force F-22s and B-2s and Marine Corps F-35s will be stationed at bases around China as Beijing tests its own radar-evading jet fighters. U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration unveiled a new defense strategy that envisages a shift of focus from Iraq and Afghanistan toward the Pacific while addressing the increasing threats from China
Almost all of the Syrian refugees Iraq has accepted are Kurds into Iraqi Kurdistan, a semi-autonomous state in the north that exercises many of its own policies. Authorities elsewhere in Iraq have refused all but 9,000 Arab refugees for fear that the highly sectarian violence across the border in Syria may whip up similar flames in Iraq. The Kurds, though, are eager to help out their brethren, even if their resources are already stressed. So far, the Kurdish government has spent $11 million for the camp, but much more is needed. “We plan an international appeal,” Bakir says.
The Middle East is a region where any political movement appears as rivalry, a place where no one is without a rival, and where there are those who cannot be without a rival. There are two forms of competition: competition against one or more people, like chess, or competition with one or more people over something, like the 100 meters hurdle race. Competition in the Middle East is generally of the second form, and the two states which the struggle for influence in the Middle East has had them confront each other are the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
U.S. Africa Command, the military’s newest regional force, will have more troops available early next year as the Pentagon winds down from two ground wars over the past decade, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Army chief of staff, told The Washington Times.
As part of Gen. Odierno’s Regionally Aligned Forces concept, about 1,200 soldiers will deploy to Africa as early as March in an effort to place troops strategically around the globe to respond quickly to sudden challenges in hot spots such as Libya and to develop ties with the people and officials in host countries.
American ammunitions may be the reason behind the mounting number of babies born with birth defects in Iraq, a study revealed. Accounts of children being born with cancer and birth defects have been highlighted in German newspaper Der Spiegel, where Iraqis who were interviewed were not sure of the explanation behind so many dead and deformed newborn babies in the Iraqi city of Basra. “Some had only one eye in the forehead. Or two heads,” Askar Bin Said, an Iraqi graveyard owner, told the newspaper, describing some of the dead newborn babies that are buried in his cemetery.
The United States plans to deploy some of its newest warships and other high-tech weapons to the Asia-Pacific as part of a strategic shift to the region, a US defense official said Wednesday.
The Pentagon will send P-8 submarine-hunting aircraft, cruise missiles, Virginia-class submarines, coastal combat ships and F-35 fighter jets to Asian ports and bases in coming years, the senior official told reporters “What you’re seeing is part of a bigger effort, the Pacific theatre will get the newest weapons systems first,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
A briefing note prepared for the country’s top soldier shows the army has pushed the military’s chief of intelligence to permanently staff “high-readiness” intelligence positions within brigades and all-source intelligence centres that could be called upon to deploy overseas.
The documents, obtained by The Canadian Press under access to information laws, also show the army is anxious to protect its network of human sources and operatives, known as HUMINT, and to better resource its counter-intelligence abilities.
SOCOM has bolstered its propaganda campaign in cyberspace with trained teams of psychological operations troops. As of March, according to SOCOM’s commander, Adm. William McRaven, it had deployed 22 “Military Information Support Operations” teams around the world at the request of military leaders and ambassadors. MISO teams, formerly known as “psychological operations” troops, help “combat VEOs (violent extremist organizations) and resist the spread of their associated ideologies,” according to SOCOM. Once deployed, they serve for local commanders.
China is muscling into Iraq’s oil sector as Baghdad grapples with defections by international majors like Exxon Mobil and Chevron of the United States and France’s Total. This is part of Beijing’s drive to secure oil and natural gas resources in the Middle East and Africa as U.S. influences wanes.
China’s clout in Iraq, along with other parts of the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, is bound to increase as the Americans’ diminishes.
The Pentagon is planning a major expansion of America’s international spy network, creating a new generation of undercover agents to get a better handle on critical issues such as China’s growing military might and the rising influence of fundamentalist militants in Africa.
The enlarged military spy ring will rival the civilian Central Intelligence Agency in size, marking a major expansion in America’s espionage network – something that reflects the Obama administration’s preference for undercover operations over conventional force.
The recent increase of Iraqi troops in resource-rich contested areas is fuelling fears that the subsequent escalation of tension could develop into full-scale war between the Shiite Iraqi government and the area known as Iraqi Kurdistan.
Iraqi encroachment on the city of Kirkuk is one of the reasons for the recent escalation as the Kurdistan Regional Government has issued a number of statements compelling Iraq to back away from this area, threatening war should it continue with its current aggressive policy.
11 November representatives of disparate Syrian groups were combined to form the national coalition of revolutionary and oppositional forces “(NKROS), all the seats and positions in which the head of the American delegation had distributed at the Conference in Doha, United States Ambassador to Syria, Robert S. Ford.
In 2004-2006/07 he worked as Assistant to John Negroponte, the head of a diplomatic mission in Iraq and the United States engaged in war, the methods used there in Honduras: using” death squads “and” Nicaraguan Contras. “the same model that Ford used for destabilization of the situation in Syria.
Iraq’s Kurdish region has sent reinforcements to a disputed area where its troops are involved in a standoff with the Iraqi army, a senior Kurdish military official said, despite calls on both sides for dialogue to calm the situation.
More Kurdish troops and tanks were mobilised on Saturday and headed towards the disputed areas, the deputy minister for Kurdish military affairs said late on Saturday, adding that they would hold their positions unless Iraqi forces made a move. “If they overstep the line, we will strike them,” Anwar Haji Osman said.
Iraq is gearing up for a potential conflict with its semi-autonomous Kurdistan region in a battle over the oil-rich land situated there, Al Jazeera reported on Sunday.
Kurdish soldiers and equipment have been mobilised and sent to the disputed area, 170km north of Baghdad, following a long-running feud regarding oil rights in the region. Baghdad has recently sought to regain control of contracts with big companies based in the country, after the Kurds took over post American invasion.
Senior officers at the Pentagon are being advised on countering Taliban propaganda by a marketing expert whose company once weeded out reporters who wrote negative stories in Afghanistan and helped the military deceive the enemy in Iraq, according to military documents and interviews.
Since 2000, the military has paid The Rendon Group more than $100 million to help shape its communications strategy, analyze media coverage, run its propaganda programs and develop counter-narcotics efforts around the world, Pentagon documents show.
In response to the deployment of large numbers of Iraqi troops and Dijla Forces in Kirkuk, Kurdish military officials have dispatched thousands of Peshmerga forces to the province. Halgurd Hikmat, the media officer of the ministry of Peshmerga has confirmed that the Minister of Peshmerga Sheikh Jaafar Mustafa and his deputy, Anwar Haji Osman, are meeting with Peshmerga forces in the area.
“The Peshmerga are prepared to counter any movement by the Dijla Forces,” Hikmat said.
The industry’s growth has been paid for by Western governments, keen to limit the political cost of military boots on the ground. Supply has also come mostly from the West: 70% of firms are British or American. As the big conflicts of the past decade come to an end, however, private armies are beginning to chase new business, according to Sean McFate of America’s National Defence University. Industrial firms, which are increasingly setting up shop in unstable places, are expected to be a growing chunk of the customer base.
The president of Iraq’s Kurdistan region has ordered its peshmerga security forces on high alert, a statement issued on Saturday said, attributing the move to clashes with central government forces.
An Iraqi general however said that the clashes in question came during an arrest attempt and did not involve the peshmerga. Tensions between Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq have been running high after the establishment of a new military command covering disputed territory, and over various other long-running disputes.
The website’s headlines trumpet al-Shabab’s imminent demise and describe an American jihadist fretting over insurgent infighting. At first glance it appears to be a sleek, Horn of Africa news site. But the site — sabahionline.com — is run by the U.S. military.
The site, and another one like it that centers on northwest Africa, is part of a propaganda effort by the U.S. military’s Africa Command aimed at countering extremists in two of Africa’s most dangerous regions — Somalia and the Maghreb.
“Air strikes will be the responsibility of the international force,” he said, adding foreign partners would also provide logistical and intelligence support and soldiers and police to secure areas captured by the Malian army.
Military planners from Africa, the United Nations and Europe in Mali’s capital Bamako last week drew up a battle plan that would involve a foreign force of more than 4,000 personnel, mostly from West African countries. It remains unclear how much of the force would come from Western nations.
Strategic oil reserves will be needed if Iran seeks to close the choke point Strait of Hormuz because overland pipelines can only carry one-third of the oil supplies that move through the waterway, an Arab energy group has warned.
The reduction in oil exports from the gulf, as well as a complete halt to natural gas shipments, an Iranian closure, even one lasting a few weeks, will batter the global economy by sending energy prices soaring unless steps are taken to ensure that the shortfall is covered.
It’s 2025 and an American “triple canopy” of advanced surveillance and armed drones fills the heavens from the lower- to the exo-atmosphere. A wonder of the modern age, it can deliver its weaponry anywhere on the planet with staggering speed, knock out an enemy’s satellite communications system, or follow individuals biometrically for great distances. Along with the country’s advanced cyberwar capacity, it’s also the most sophisticated militarized information system ever created and an insurance policy for U.S. global dominion deep into the twenty-first century.
Syria’s opposition needs to be more representative and inclusive, say U.S. officials mindful of the dangers of an increasingly sectarian civil war. But the scale of the challenge in creating an opposition that draws in ethnic and religious minorities sometimes more fearful of the rebellion than they are of the regime was highlighted in last week’s clashes in Aleppo, between units of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and a local Kurdish militia.
The only thing that’s cheap about war is the gaming. The U.S. military services and their assorted war colleges, the Department of Defense, and various think tanks do quite a bit of wargaming of potential conflicts such as Iran. Now, to the military, wargaming doesn’t mean games. It’s actually an analytical technique in the Military Decision Making Process, which essentially means analyzing the likely outcomes of various choices and then making the best one
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno announced Thursday that Army, Marine Corps and Special Operations Command officials are working together to stand up the Office of Strategic Landpower to evaluate how the U.S. military’s ground forces will transition within the new defense strategy and the pivot to the Pacific. Air Sea Battle is a strategy in which the Pentagon can meld power projection assets such as a carrier group or long range bombers to influence a region without having a large footprint directly inside it.
The world’s markets may believe that the worst of the financial crisis in Europe is over after three turbulent years, but those people who control the purse strings of the world’s businesses are not breathing any easier. An annual survey of finance directors from global business consultancy BDO finds that the crisis over too much government debt in Europe remains one of their key concerns — so much so that Greece is considered a riskier place to invest and set up business in than war-torn Syria.
From a geopolitical perspective, Syria’s sensitive location played a key role in attracting Western ambitions from World War I until the present day. The region’s decade-long instability has also contributed to this. Syria only witnessed relative stability during the tenure of late Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, which was marked by tyranny, oppression, the suppression of freedoms and the erosion of rights. This was primarily due to [Hafez] Al-Assad’s characteristic ability to play various conflicting interests off of each other.
The main concern at the conference was to identify the source of security threats against Bahrain in particular, and the Gulf Arab states in general. The results of the so-called “Arab Spring” — the popular Arab movement that took place, and is still taking place, in several Arab countries — were also topics of interest, especially amid continued domestic tension in Bahrain between the opposition and the government.
The Bundeswehr was envisaged as “citizen defenders of a democratic state,” fully subordinate to the political leadership of the country – and, of course, to the international bodies of NATO, the European Union and the United Nations, to which first West Germany and now united Germany belongs. With reunification in 1990 and the dissolution of the old Eastern bloc, the Bundeswehr gradually started to participate in missions abroad.
At this stage, the “battle for Syria” is a specific role for foreign intelligence agencies, which in the summer of this year, significantly expanded its operations in the country. American, British, Turkish, French and Qatari and Saudi secret services are particularly active on the weakening of the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Their subversive work is multifaceted. Until recently, Western intelligence agencies have shown themselves very carefully. This was explained by fears of the U.S. and its European allies to help to strengthen the Islamist component of the Syrian opposition.
Turkey no longer entirely trusts U.S. intelligence despite its apparent offer to help eliminate Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) figures, according to a prominent scholar, adding that Ankara has been convinced that the U.S. military presence in Iraq since the Gulf War has fed the militant organization. Washington has come to see the group as an obstacle in Turkey and wants to eliminate certain figures in the organization.
The U.S. ambassador to Ankara Francis Ricciardone revealed on October 16 that the Turkish government rejected the U.S. proposal for joint venture extermination of Murat Karayılan and other leaders of the Kurdish PKK in northern Iraq are exposing irreparably Turkish government. As stated by the American ambassador in Turkish journalists, Washington submitted this proposal to the Turkish government to launch an operation similar to that which led to the killing of Osama Bin Laden.
Iraq urges the Kurdish autonomy to approve the deployment of troops on the border with Turkey to prevent the Turkish troops’ entering Iraq, as well as to stop air strikes on the country against the militants of Kurdistan Workers’ Party, head of the Iraqi parliamentary security committee Iskander Witwit told Trend on Wednesday.
“We urge the Kurdish autonomy to provide the central government with all rights to deploy the troops on the border with Turkey to prevent Turkish troops’ entering Iraq,” he added.
The government wants big companies working in the Middle East to use British private armed security firms where possible. They are promoting a private security strategy that was disastrous in Iraq and Afghanistan after discussions with a security company whose director is a Tory donor.
Trade Minister Lord Green runs a “Middle East task force” of company bosses to advice on government policy in the region.
Qatar’s call for Arab military intervention in Syria would be difficult to achieve practically and politically, and would risk dragging the region into an all-out conflict, analysts say.
Qatar’s emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani on Tuesday urged Arab action over war-torn Syria because of the failure of the UN Security Council and other international efforts to end the conflict.
Because of this failure, “it is better for Arab countries to intervene themselves out of their humanitarian, political and military duties and do what is necessary to stop the bloodshed,” Sheikh Hamad told the General Assembly.
You should know that MEK was only taken off of the US’ terrorist list after years of high pressure lobbying by a veritable galaxy of the some of the biggest and most expensive stars in Washington. Bill Clinton placed them on the terrorist list in 1997, and this decision was reaffirmed by the Bush administration in 2007.
It’s a sad commentary on the way things get done in DC, but it’s extremely doubtful whether the terrorist designation change on MEK could have been accomplished any other way. Political celebrities were hired by the dozens to sing the praises of MEK. If you want Democrats, you could find Howard Dean, former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, or Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell.
Russia’s significant economic interests abroad often operate in “difficult” conditions, and such companies would facilitate their work, said Rogozin, who oversees Russia’s military-industrial complex.
“We are thinking about whether our money should go toward financing foreign private security [and] military companies, or whether we should consider the feasibility of such companies in Russia itself,” he said.
U.S. military strikes on Iran would shake the regime’s political control and damage its ability to launch counterstrikes, but the Iranians probably would manage to retaliate, directly and through surrogates, in ways that risked igniting all-out war in the Middle East, according to an assessment of an attack’s costs and benefits.
The assessment said extended U.S. strikes could destroy Iran’s most important nuclear facilities and damage its military forces but would only delay — not stop — the Islamic republic’s pursuit of a nuclear bomb.
This is the new reality: in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, the United States must expect that its diplomats will not enjoy protection in societies wracked by political instability and the birth pangs of transition into new forms of government. This problem is by no means exclusive to these areas of conflict. Even Mexican drug cartels have no fear of shooting at diplomatic cars. As Trombly pointed out, the ability of the State Department to advocate for US interests will be compromised if effective measures are not taken.
Through the 1950s, 60s and 70s, the US and the UK undertook military expeditions to destabilise secular Arab nations. They undertook an invasion of Egypt, which failed. They sponsored two assassination attempts on Nasser, which failed. They tried to instigate two revolts in Syria, which also failed.
Way back in 1957 the British cabinet had approved Operation Straggle, a plot to engineer a coup in Damascus. The plan was to create disaffection on the border areas, infiltrate armed insurgents into urban areas and instigate uprisings.
An Israeli cabinet minister on Tuesday invoked his country’s ostensibly secret 2007 air raid on an alleged Syrian nuclear reactor to suggest Israel could successfully strike Iran without US support.
Israel has never formally acknowledged the bombing of the desert site at Deir al-Zor nor said what was destroyed – a precaution against drawing Syria into a retaliatory war, according to then-US President George W Bush, who in his memoir described the target as a nascent, North Korean-supplied reactor.
That Bush, by his own account, declined to carry out a US strike as initially requested by Israel resurfaced this week in an expose by the New Yorker magazine.
Of all the changes brought on by the Arab Spring, it is the ongoing unrest in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province – home to a large Shiite minority, and holding 90% of the country’s oil reserves – that could prove to be the most important in the long run.
When the Prophet Muhammad died in 632, tensions over who should lead the Islamic community – by that time covering almost the entirety of the Arabian Peninsula – emerged and persisted. On the one hand were those who favoured a succession that promoted the most qualified individual on the basis of wisdom, good conduct, devoutness and competence. This group came to be known as the Sunnis.
Scores of foreign jihadists have crossed into Syria from Turkey in the past two weeks, some of them telling Syrians that they are planning to travel to Aleppo to join a decisive battle against regime troops, says Martin Chulov, correspondent of The Guardian.
According to locals who have dealt with them, the new arrivals embrace a global jihadist worldview that sets them apart from most leaders in the armed Syrian opposition and is stirring deep discontent among the rebel leadership.
Rebel leaders inside Syria say about 15-20 foreign fighters have been crossing each day since mid-July, trying to join up with an estimated 200-300 foreigners in Syria.
Army Gen. Carter F. Ham was referring to the arrival of the 1st Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team from Fort Riley, Kan. The unit will become the main force provider for security cooperation and partnership-building missions in Africa.
The “Dagger Brigade” will also become the first Army unit to be regionally aligned with a specific unified combatant command. Under the new arrangement, brigades will be on deck for their mission for a full year to perform security cooperation when needed, but not operational or regular warfare missions, Army officials said.
If those who state that there is a Syrian scenario developed by the US and their Middle East allies are right, then the developments in Syria contradict the plan. The regime of Bashar Assad appears to be hard to kill: it didn’t collapse as easy as those in president of Tunisia and Egypt. The Syrian opposition can’t turn the civil war in its favor as in Libya. The opposition admits that they were pushed out from Damascus. According to received reports, the rebels seem to fail “the historic battle” for Aleppo as well. In this context, leaders of anti-Assad forces speak about necessity of a no-fly zone over Syria. The opposition interest is understandable. Such a no-fly zone will at least neutralize Syrian Air Forces devoted to Assad, that would make implementation of military tasks easier for Free Syrian Army. It seems FSA’s urging was heard by Washington.
The new director of the Defense Intelligence Agency is approaching his dream job with eyes wide open, valuing people over technology and expecting a future that holds more intense demands for intelligence.
Army Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn became DIA director July 24, as well as commander of the collocated joint functional component command for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance that is part of U.S. Strategic Command.
“If there’s a dream job for me, this is it,” Flynn said during an interview with American Forces Press Service.
His vision for the agency, the director added, “is to operationalize the capabilities that DIA brings to bear, for the defense community and specifically in support of our combatant commanders – [the] commanders and organizations that are spread throughout the globe in support of our nation’s defense.”
Turkey, faced with the Kurdish issue for several decades now, plays a major part in preventing such scenario. The Turkish regular army keeps trying to annihilate Kurdish militants from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), yet to no avail. Penetration onto the territory of sovereign Iraq under the veil of Kurdish camp destruction also ends up in failure. In addition, there are Syrian Kurds united to form the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which has close links with PKK. Furthermore, the Kurdish Pejak party banned in Iran and other independent groups of Kurdish militants also cause serious damage to Turkey.
The failed “zero problems with neighbours” policy by Ahmet Davutoglu stirred talks on his resignation on top governmental level in Turkey, since Turkey’s foreign policy has turned into a “problem with almost all its neighbours”.
A senior aide to President Barack Obama did not rule out on Wednesday the eventual creation of a no-fly zone over a patch of Syria that increasingly appears to be controlled by anti-government rebels.
Some Republican critics of Obama’s handling of the Syria crisis have been advocating international enforcement of a no-fly zone to prevent Syrian warplanes from operating over designated zones, as well as more directly arming the opposition forces fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.
The United States has so far declined to provide weapons directly to a fragmented opposition as U.S. officials say it is difficult to identify factions and who they represent. Instead, Washington has focused on humanitarian aid, communications gear and other non lethal support.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said members of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), backed by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, are seeking to infiltrate Turkey from Syria and that Turkey may launch military operations in Syria to stop it.
According to remarks made by Erdoğan on the Gündem Özel (Special Agenda) television program on ATV on Sunday evening, Assad is lending support to the terrorist organization in Syria, and the organization is subsequently filtering into Turkey.
Stealthy American bombers and submarines would knock out China’s long-range surveillance radar and precision missile systems located deep inside the country. The initial “blinding campaign” would be followed by a larger air and naval assault.
The concept, the details of which are classified, has angered the Chinese military and has been pilloried by some Army and Marine Corps officers as excessively expensive. Some Asia analysts worry that conventional strikes aimed at China could spark a nuclear war.
Turkish military staged tank exercises near the Turkish-Syrian border on Wednesday after some border districts of northern Syria fell into the hands of Kurds, local newspaper Today’s Zaman reported on its website.
The exercises were held after a series of Turkish military deployments to the area.
Some 25 tanks from the Mardin 70th Mechanised Brigade took part in the exercises, which were overseen by commanders in the Nusaybin district of Mardin province just near the Syrian border, the report said.